Sunday, September 30, 2007

Family history -- and mysteries

Over at The Expert Witness, Mom and Gentle Reader Tom got to chit-chatting about a family heirloom.

I've mentioned this pistol in passing before, but I seem to have neglected in posting a picture of it.


The serial number on that pistol is 187XXX, which has it coming out of the Colt factory in 1898 or 1899. It is a nickled Single Action Army in .41 Colt, and originally came with mother-of-pearl grips, carved -- if memory serves -- with a longhorn head on one side.

Those grips were damaged, and replaced with the scrimshawed ivory ones you see above.

That .41 sits in my hand like it was designed for it. The action and spring-work are glass-smooth and while the sights are typical 19th century work, at hip-shooting distances when I pull the trigger a hole appears right where I'm looking.

This was my granda's uncle's church gun -- carried to church and other special occasions. For everyday use, Unc had a stag-handled .38-40, which has unfortunately been lost to time.

Below that pistol is one of the mysteries that surrounds my granda's great-uncle.

Unc was the child of an upper-class southern family, and -- although too young to participate himself -- he had brothers who fought in the War of Southern Independence.

When Unc decided he was old enough (in his teens), he cut trail for the West. When asked in his later years, Unc stated that he was a cattle drover and left it at that.

We do know that Unc's family refused to have anything to do with him; indeed Granda's mother -- she was Unc's niece -- was the only family member who would deign to even speak with Unc, and she was the family that he sporadically contacted throughout his 'cow punching' days.

When Granda lost his father, Unc -- then in his forties -- came to Texas to help his niece and her two sons.

Another mystery surrounding the man is the relationship between Unc and Frank James as recounted by several family members. According to family lore, Frank James visited Unc on several occasions while Mr. James was employed in Ft. Worth. During these visits -- according to family stories -- Unc and Mr. Frank would sit on the porch with their Bibles, their pistols, a plate of snacks, and talk.

What those two men talked about is anyone's guess.

When Unc died (and was buried holding the picture of an unknown woman which the never-married Unc kept on the dresser in his room) among his effects was found the badge of a U.S. Marshal seen below the SAA in the photo above.

Was Unc a U.S. Marshal? He never mentioned it to family. Was the badge a souvenir? Something interesting he found on the trail or that caught his eye in a shop? Or -- more worrisome -- was it a trophy?

I wish that badge and that gun could talk, but they can't. So I keep them safe -- the gun in Granda's old holster close to hand; and the badge is has been carefully framed -- for another generation of the family.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Kee riced all my tea.

This little site is all over the sodding Internet by now, although I was first made aware of it by Lady Tam.

Apparently, some police officers are a wee bit upset by some perceived ill-treatment by their fellow officers and have decided to -- and this is the only accurate way to put this -- whinge about it.

The majority of the alleged mistreatment is the utter and complete horror of receiving traffic citations for violating the traffic code -- from what I can see intentionally and knowingly so most times -- while off-duty.


Once you swear in and accept that badge, you are -- you must be -- held to a higher standard.

If you can not accept this simple statement of fact, you need to find another job -- period. Full stop. End of story.

To engage in behavior that you would seek to punish anyone else for, and then expect to commit the exact same act with impunity is arrogance in the extreme -- not to mention immoral.

We -- as peace officers -- are not better than our fellow citizens, nor are we worse than our fellow citizens. We are not more equal, nor less equal, than our fellows, nor are we a better or lesser 'class' than they -- and to consider otherwise does a great dis-service to our profession and to the citizens relying on us.

In order to do our jobs -- to follow our calling -- we must have the support of our fellow citizens. Those under our protection must know, in their blood and in their bones, that we are fair; they must know that the person entrusted with that badge is worthy of being entrusted with the rights of their fellow citizens, of being entrusted with the freedoms of their fellow citizens; that we can be trusted with the truth; and that we can be trusted with the awesome powers and responsibilities that our fellow citizens have given us.

We must hold ourselves to a higher standard.

Nobody trusts arrogance and hubris.

And arrogance and hubris is all that I see at that site.

It is sheer arrogance to believe that you have the right to break the very laws that you arrest others for.

It is hubris to believe that you are entitled to privileges that you deny others because of what you do. Yes, we have a dangerous job. So do convenience store clerks -- except they don't get to wear armour, or shoot back; they deal with some of the worst of the public without back-up and they make less than we do.

It is arrogant in the extreme to call other officers your 'brothers' and 'sisters' and then deliberately violate the law in their presence -- forcing them to wrestle with their conscience and their mores as to how to respond; only to curse them when they follow the law as they are sworn to do.

I swore to conserve the peace, uphold the Constitution of the United States of America and the Constitution of the State of Texas; and to impartially enforce the law.


Expecting me to become an oath-breaker in the name of kin -- indeed, demanding that I do so --is not the act of family.

It is the act of a critter.

That's my final word on that subject.


Monday, September 24, 2007


By way of Tolewyn, I have discovered Uncle Jay Explains.

Uncle Jay is a sort of Mr.-Rogers-Gone-Slightly-Wrong who attempts to help 'little minds' understand the news by way of short videos.

He also owes me one set of sinuses after the following video caused me to blow half-a-mug of the Assam Estates finest through my snout.

There are many more similar videos at the above linked site, and at YouTube.



Sunday, September 23, 2007

Bad apples

A Gentle Reader sent me the following by way of e-mail:


You are a TX peace officer and I very much respect your knowledge of the interworkings of PD across our great nation. In response to this post at Colt CCo I would very much like to see what you would think about this.

Let me say this, I have never had such an incident in TX – I reside in a small rural town SW of FTW but I commute to FTW every day for work. I have a Texas CHL and have had one for over six years. I have been stopped a few times for minor traffic violations. Officers I have encountered have been the paragons of courtesy and efficiency. They go out of their way to be nice. However, in recent days we have been seeing (usually up north) officers resorting to saying “I can make something up . . .” as in the above post and in the Kuehnlein video (see and here respectively). I don’t know if you want to work up a post on the LDF on this topic – I know that you are busy and work a hard day’s work. You may not want to respond via email and that is ok too – you simply are the only police officer I know (well sort of know via your blog). I know many lawyers but don’t trust them for a policeman’s point of view.

First of all, I'd like to thank you for your kind words.

I am saddened and more than a bit annoyed at the events described by ColtCCO. I find myself quite unable to comprehend the mindset of the officer in question.

As a peace officer, he should have known that the citizens of the State he is in have access to a legal CCW option. Common-sense would appear to indicate that it might be best to ascertain if ColtCCO was in possession of a CCW before flying off the handle and assuming that he didn't -- especially given the totality of the circumstances surrounding the incident as described by ColtCCO.

I am not an officer in that department, or that State, so I don't know all the particulars. All I can do is compare the incident described to my own experience, and my own department.

If an officer in my department acted as described by ColtCCO, I would have serious misgivings about that officer on several fronts.

His knowledge of the law would appear to be lacking. As peace officers, knowledge of the law is a vitally important part of our job. Not knowing the details of the law, or trying to apply the laws of a different State, at best can cause you to lose cases, and at worst it can ruin lives.

His tactical sense would appear to be lacking. The officer made contact with multiple subjects -- ColtCCO and his girlfriend -- with at least one firearm, and was alarmed enough to put ColtCCO on the wall. If he was alarmed enough to initiate immediate physical contact with multiple armed suspects, then it would follow (in my experience) that he was alarmed enough to call for back-up and have said back-up present before making the contact.

The fact that back-up apparently wasn't summoned suggests to me that the officer wasn't really that alarmed -- and if so, why the wrist-lock and the slam?

The fact that the officer cites a non-existent Ohio law as an excuse, presents the worrisome scenario that he's lying to save face (and his arse), or -- and this may be even more worrisome -- this is the second State that this law officer hasn't bothered to learn the law of the land.

The statement that the officer would "make some reason" to arrest a citizen is inexcusable.

Not knowing the law you are attempting to enforce, lying to cover your arse and putting yourself and the public in danger due to poor tactics are all grounds for suspension without pay.

A public statement in front of witnesses regarding intent to frame a citizen is grounds for termination. Not only is it unlawful; a violation of his oath; and a violation of multiple civil rights, but that one, single stupid act has now tainted every case he's ever made in the past, and every case he will be involved in in the future.

I'm here to tell you, if that officer uttered those words in front of witnesses, every defence attorney in that area is going to hit his knees and thank God for the early Christmas present just as soon as he finds out about it.

Every case that officer is involved in now, has been involved in in the past, or will be involved in in the future he's going to have to prove that he did NOT "make up a reason to arrest" to a jury -- ever tried to prove a negative? There's your reasonable doubt. In spades.

According to ColtCCO's account, the department has placed a written reprimand in that officers file, and has stated that this carries certain consequences. I don't know that department, don't know anyone from it and have never heard anything good or bad about it. There are departments in which a letter of this sort is a career-killer. I have worked for an agency in which a written reprimand of this kind meant that there was no chance for promotions, transfers, special duty or any other advancement.

On the other paw, there are departments in which a letter of this kind is meant to mollify the complaining citizen and no more. Every other department in the country falls somewhere on that spectrum.

Like I said, I don't know that department, so I honestly can't take a guess as to how punitive the letter actually is.

As far as the two separate incidents where officers one officer and one ex-officer threatened to frame citizens, let us remember that during the same time period that those two incidents took place there were several million other peace officer/citizen contacts where the citizen was neither framed, nor threatened with being framed.

Granted, two such incidents are two too many -- but let's not attach statistical significance to them ... yet.

Again, thank you for your question, and thank you for reading.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Oh, come on.

Law Dog, you miss an essential point: the talk was open to the public. That means it's a public event. Doesn't matter who sponsored it. You make a decision to open it to the public, you don't have a right to interfere with anyone's First Amendment rights.

So, you are arguing that once a entity opens to the public, they cede all rights and control to the public?

In other words, if a restaurant -- open to the public -- decides they have the right to refuse service to anyone, you would disagree?

Wal-Mart is "open to the public" but if someone starts raising Cain and acting a total oik, Wal-Mart doesn't have the right to kick them out anymore? Is that what you're saying?

If you decide to sell your house, and in doing so, you have an "Open House" to show off the architecture -- Open House being just that, your house is "open to the public" -- your argument is that you no longer can interfere? If someone decides they don't want to leave, you can't throw them out -- because your house was "open to the public"? If someone decides they want to sing all seventy squillion verses of "Henry the Eighth, I am, I am" at the top of their lungs, you can't make them stop -- because your house was "open to the public" and you can no longer interfere with his First Amendment rights?

Rights, I believe, we already established limit the government -- not private citizens?

Are you sure you want to take this tack?

If you decide to open anything to the public, you can decide to close it to the public. Or to any part of the public you see fit. At any time.

I say again, If I pay the piper, I bloody well get to call the dance -- I don't care who is there, I don't care if the entire bloody public is there: they didn't pay for it -- I did.

Stores, restaurants, theatres and every other privately owned business are all "open to the public", yet all maintain the right to refuse service to anyone.

Or are you arguing that they do not, in fact, have that right?


I am disappointed

John Kerry's speech at the University of Florida was a sponsored event.

The speech was, as a matter-of-fact, sponsored by ACCENT, a speaker's bureau.

ACCENT uses donations from private companies and individuals -- a partial list of whom may be found here -- to provide the funds necessary for the sponsoring of it's speakers.

John Kerry was a sponsored speaker -- sponsored by ACCENT, using donated funds.

According to current news reports, Steven Blank -- ACCENT chairman -- was the individual who ordered the microphone cut off and also requested that Mr. Meyer be escorted out of the auditorium. Seems only fair -- they paid the piper, they get to call the dance.


I see a lot of my Gentle Readers decrying the demise of Free Speech, citing the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and so on.

*scratch, scratch*

Somebody check my thinking here. Preferably someone who is using their critical thinking skills, rather than emotion and blind rote.

"Sponsoring" someone generally presupposes a contract. In exchange for remuneration a person renders a service. Might be speaking fees, room, board, lunch, gas money -- something.

ACCENT is composed of students, supervised by the Student Body President, but is funded by private donations from individuals and corporations.

So. We have a speaker -- sponsored by a privately-funded organisation -- at a function sponsored by the same, privately-funded organisation.

Would someone please tell me where, in the sodding hell, the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States says one single, bloody thing about private contracts?

I see where "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

I see the Congress part.

I just don't see the part in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights about private contracts or private individuals. Maybe my copy is missing that part.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

New blogger

My buddy Larry Correia of Fuzzy Bunny Movie Guns (Fear the Bunny!) has himself a brand-spanking new blog.

Author, gun nut, occasional Merchant of Death, firearms instructor, shotgun wizard and professed 'B' movie geek -- it will be a read worth your while.

Be sure to keep an eye out for his up-coming novel -- selections from it will be posted at that last link.


Meditations on Police Brutality, part Deux

Once again, we have a student riding the lightning.


For those of my Gentle Readers who haven't heard the news yet, a student by the name of Andrew Meyer got himself tasered at the University of Florida.

Initially, I reacted to this one much as I did to the previous taser/student intersection at the UCLA.

Now, I'm not so sure that this one isn't within acceptable police limits.

First, the video.

The story I am hearing is that questions were no longer being accepted, and that Mr. Meyer "rushed to the microphone" prior to the footage above.

I have no verification of that, so we'll hold off on speculating about incidents prior to the video footage.

Watch the video again, and count down until you get to the 05:18 mark.

Folks, don't do this. Ever. When the Nice Officers are walking you out of whatever building or room that you were previously occupying, you are Under Arrest. If you snatch your arms away from the Nice Officers and run while being Under Arrest, Bad Things are going to happen.

If I were one of the responding officers, I'd have ploughed his butt into the ground right there.

Mr. Meyer has now committed the offence of Resisting Arrest.

Having to be physically dragged up the aisle while struggling and fighting doesn't make things any better.

There is a place to fight Police Injustice -- and this wasn't it. If Mr. Meyer truly believed the police were going overboard in their reaction, or that his rights were being violated, the proper place to deal with this is in a court-room -- not an auditorium.

So far, the officers on the video are being extraordinarily gentle with Mr. Meyer. In similar situations, when suspects began struggling after being caught -- I'd have arm-barred him into the concrete, hand-cuffed him and dragged him out the door by the hair.

Continue watching the video until 04:52. Again -- and I can't stress this enough -- don't do this. That elbow into the upper chest/throat area of the African-American cop at 04:50 -- was utterly and completely stupid. In that officer's place, I'd have brachial-stunned that critter and had done with it -- I can't believe he just wrestled the kid.

Anyhoo -- you're not going to win a fight against cops. It's not going to happen.

So, now they're struggling on the ground.


Been There. Done That. Got the ripped shirts to prove it.

Thing is, nine times out of ten, when folks at the bottom of a pig-pile figure out they're fixing to lose this one -- they lock their hands under the bodies. Damned near every time. I don't know what they think they're going to achieve -- maybe if we can't get their hands loose, we'll just wander off to the doughnut stand, or something -- but they'll lock their hands under their bodies and not turn loose.

Now, once you go down, you're not getting up again without being in handcuffs. That's just the way it is. So, we need your hands. This is why you hear cops yelling about hands during pig-piles.

Normally, if a subject insists on shaking hands with himself while his full body-weight rests on them, we'll use a pressure point along with verbal persuasion to make him turn loose. I've also seen OC used, but that's sloppy and gets other officers and bystanders sprayed.

I've also seen the judicious use of an elbow strike or hammer fist to the kidney(s) to gain compliance, but that's even more sloppy.

This is why he got his butt tasered. He went down under a pig-pile and locked his hands under his body. The officers didn't want to roll him over -- he's a fairly big ol' boy and why fight him all over again? Or what if he isn't locking his hands, but actually going for a knife or a gun and just can't deploy the knife or gun because of the weight of the pig-pile?

So, they order him to show his hands, and they order him to put his hands behind his back.

Kittenishly, he refuses.

So, the tapped him with a taser until he withdrew his hands from under his body.

We've done the exact same thing for the exact same reasons.

Andrew Meyer physically resisted arrest. He then resisted arrest with active force, was taken to the ground, where he continued to resist lawful arrest until a drive stun with a taser caused him to cease resisting.

I have to give props to the Florida police department that handled this for their patience, because I'd have tasered him at least two times prior to them actually doing it -- if not employed an arm-bar or a brachial stun.


[UPDATE] CNN appears to believe that the incident may have been staged by Andrew Meyer.

I'd like to see some other verification of this.

If true, however, my estimation of Mr. Meyer is going to drop sharply from "Bloody Nuisance" to "Complete and Total Sodding Idiot".

Racking up a felony charge and risking Serious Bodily Injury by fighting cops for your 15 minutes of fame is about as [deleted]-ignorant as they come.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Requiscat in Pacem

James Oliver Rigney, Jr
17OCT1948 to 16SEP2007

Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Mr. Rigney served two tours of duty in Vietnam as a chopper pilot, receiving the Bronze Star with 'V' and cluster, the Distinguished Flying Cross with cluster and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with palm -- twice.

After his return, Mr. Rigney attended The Citadel, where he graduated with a degree in physics, then served the US Navy as a nuclear engineer.

A historian, hunter, pipe collector and true Southern Gentleman who lived in a house in Charleston built in 1797, Mr. Rigney also dallied as a writer.

Fond of his privacy, Mr. Rigney wrote under pen names: Regean O'Neal, Jackson O'Reilly and Chang Lung were some of those -- but he was probably best known as Robert Jordan.

Rest in Peace, sir.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Professor LawDog's School of Mayhem and Survival

I was once told that no gentleman should leave his house without having a knife and some way to make fire on his person. Sound advice, I think.

Recently, a co-worker has gently taken me to task regarding this. According to him, it is not enough to have a knife and a lighter about your person, one should also have a compass.

I responded that as long as I have the sun, a watch or the moon in sight, I've got a pretty good idea of the directions.

He was bumfuzzled.


All right, class, gather around. Here is your situation:

You have one (1)knife, one (1)Zippo lighter, one (1) moderately-irate wombat, and one (1) burlap sack.

Two miles due north of your current position is Britney Loving Emo Kid (BLEK).

The task is obvious -- but how to locate north?

The first, easiest method is to find a good, straight stick. Either find a patch of bare dirt, or clear one.

Drive your stick into the ground, pointing up. It should cast a shadow -- mark the ground at the tip of the shadow, and label it 'W'. Now go be useful. Ponder What is Best in Life, reinforce the sack, grease the wombat -- whatever will take about 15 minutes to half-an-hour.

Come back to your stick. The tip of the shadow will have moved, mark the new position and label it 'E'.

Draw a line through your two marks. This line is your East-West line -- 'W' being west, 'E' being east.

Stand on the line with the 'E' to your right and you are facing north.

Now, don't just sally forth. If you just start walking, you will inevitably trace a circle, and your opportunity to earn the gratitude of millions will be forever lost.

No, face north and pick a landmark -- better yet, pick two landmarks in line.

Now, start walking. If you just picked one landmark, if you get to it, replot north and continue. If you picked two landmarks in line, if you get to the first one, pick a third landmark behind (and in line with) #2 and continue your march.

The second method involves using a watch. Do note that the watch must have hands instead of a digital readout. If you attempt to find north using a digital watch, you're liable to wind up in Outer Graustarkia. Be forewarned.

So, you have the requisite watch. If it's on DayLight Stupid Time, reset it to the proper local time. Again, locate an open patch of dirt, remove the watch and place it on the ground.

Now, if you are north of the equator, turn the watch until the hour hand is pointing at the sun. Find the point halfway between the hour hand and the big '12'. Mark this point on the ground. A line drawn from the centre point of the watch through the mark is your North-South line.

If you are south of the equator, turn the watch until the big '12' is pointing at the sun. Again, find the point halfway between the '12' and the hour hand, and draw your line.

But which end of your North-South line is which?

If it's before noon, the sun will be on the east side of the line. After noon, and the sun will be on the west side of the line. Godspeed.

Ah, you say, but what if it's night and BLEK is meandering through the woods composing his Ode to Bats?

No sun, and you can't find the Big Dipper on a dare?

Nae problemo.

Find the moon. If the moon was in the sky before the sun set, then the lit-up side will be west. If the moon waited until after midnight to rise, the lit-up side will be east.

This concludes today's class on improvised direction finding.

For more information, I suggest perusing US Army FM 21-76.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The ranks increase

JPG -- father to my friend MattG -- has dipped a toe into the blogging waters.

This man is one of my personal heroes. A veteran Texas Peace Officer who retired after putting in forty -- 40 -- years with the badge, a history major, a Southern Gentleman, educator, hunter, adventurer, storysmith.

Ladies and Gentlemen: The Expert Witness.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I heart walking sticks

One of the first Gentle Readers I noticed coming by my little scribblings on a regular basis was a LiveJournal blogger by the name of Jenna Magpie.

Today I learn from her better half (congratulations, you two!) that Jenna had a bit of excitement earlier.

I've mentioned in the past that I have a fondness for canes and walking sticks.

Her husband dropped me a note to mention that he and Jenna had purchased a City Stick and an African Walking Stick from Cold Steel, and that his lady was forced to use the City Stick today to good effect against a boor at a petrol station.

You can't see me sitting here at the desk smiling, but rest assured that I am.

Very well done, Ms. Jenna. Very well done.

Any Gentle Readers wanting to learn more about this very effective, very discrete weapon can find specialized instruction from CaneMasters.

The Korean art of Hap Ki Do has dedicated cane fighting techniques in it, as does classical Savate, WWII combatives and Japanese hanbo-jutsu.

While the standard cane is a bit longer than the sticks used in the Filipino Martial Arts, the techniques of Kali/Arnis translate to the cane/walking stick with minimum effort.

For a handy, low-profile weapon that can be carried anywhere in any state under just about any situation, I thoroughly recommend the cane.

That being said, I also thoroughly recommend at least getting familiar with the basic techniques of defence with said cane.

Again -- very well done.


Sept 11.

That morning I was on my way to Travis County for a job interview with the Sheriff's Office. I was just north of Decatur when Operation: Mindcrime wound down. I popped out the CD, and hit 'Scan' to find a radio station.

The first radio station I found was rolling live feed about an aeroplane that had hit the World Trade Centre, and I remember hoping that it was a Cessna or other small, private 'plane, and then finding out it was a airliner.

Terrorism never crossed my mind, even though I was familiar with the terror attack of 26FEB1993 -- that it was a deliberate act never crossed my mind.

Then the description of the second plane hitting the tower came across the radio, and I stopped right there on the shoulder of US287 and stared in disbelief at the radio. I was hoping that I had misheard, or that between the on-scene reporters and the station news-anchors someone had gotten confused.

Because two planes hitting in a row was too far-fetched to be an accident or a coincidence. Two planes hitting the World Trade Centre back-to-back would have to be a deliberate act.

It would have to be ...

It was. It was terrorism.

And things have never been the same since.

I pulled across the median and headed back home. I hope I called and cancelled my interview, but I honestly don't remember.

I was considerably more involved at The Firing Line at that time -- moderating the Legal/Political forum -- and I became somewhat distressed at the on-line attitudes I was seeing, so I wrote a post the next day.

Six years later, as I scroll through the comments, I wonder if those folks who were yelling so loudly for Muslim blood in retaliation for the attacks at the Pentagon and the World Trade Centre then -- still feel that way after several years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq now?

Further along in that thread, I postulated that one of the results of 9/11 would be loss of some of our civil liberties. I wonder if those folks who didn't seem to mind at that time, still feel that way now after years of the PATRIOT Act, Department of Homeland Security and the TSA?


I probably already know the answer to those questions.


Friday, September 07, 2007


When you're lost in the Wild, and you're scared as a child,
And Death looks you bang in the eye,
And you're sore as a boil, it's according to Hoyle
To cock your revolver and . . . die.
But the Code of a Man says: "Fight all you can,"
And self-dissolution is barred.
In hunger and woe, oh, it's easy to blow . . .
It's the hell-served-for-breakfast that's hard.

"You're sick of the game!" Well, now, that's a shame.
You're young and you're brave and you're bright.
"You've had a raw deal!" I know -- but don't squeal,
Buck up, do your damnedest, and fight.
It's the plugging away that will win you the day,
So don't be a piker, old pard!
Just draw on your grit; it's so easy to quit:
It's the keeping-your-chin-up that's hard.

It's easy to cry that you're beaten -- and die;
It's easy to crawfish and crawl;
But to fight and to fight when hope's out of sight --
Why, that's the best game of them all!
And though you come out of each gruelling bout,
All broken and beaten and scarred,
Just have one more try -- it's dead easy to die,
It's the keeping-on-living that's hard.

--Robert Service.

My friend Tamara has said: "When you commit suicide, everyone gets over it -- except you."

Good points from a wise lady.

For the record: If you've got to do yourself in, kindly have the stones to do the deed yourself, in private, and away from innocent witnesses.

Suckering someone else into putting you down is selfish and cruel. To force someone else to put you down in public is vicious and evil.

That is all.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Just because I can

In celebration of Lady Tam's addiction to DiscWorld, some of my favorite Terry Pratchett quotes:

They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it's not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance.


He was the sort of person who stood on mountaintops during thunderstorms in wet copper armour shouting "All the Gods are bastards."


Commander Vimes, on the other hand, was all for giving criminals a short, sharp shock. It really depended on how tightly they could be tied to the lightning rod.


This is very similar to the suggestion put forward by the Quirmian philosopher Ventre, who said, "Possibly the gods exist, and possibly they do not. So why not believe in them in any case? If it's all true you'll go to a lovely place when you die, and if it isn't then you've lost nothing, right?" When he died he woke up in a circle of gods holding nasty-looking sticks and one of them said, "We're going to show you what we think of Mr Clever Dick in these parts..."


"[...] a number of offences of murder by means of a blunt instrument, to whit, a dragon, and many further offences of generalized abetting [...]"


Nature abhors dimensional abnormalities, and seals them neatly away so that they don't upset people. Nature, in fact, abhors a lot of things, including vacuums, ships called the "Marie Celeste", and the chuck keys for electric drills.


The sergeant put on the poker face which has been handed down from NCO to NCO ever since one protoamphibian told another, lower ranking protoamphibian to muster a squad of newts and Take That Beach.


I'm sure I'm missing a lot more of the better ones. Oh, well. Now, Tam will understand my occasional reference to "the Century of the Fruitbat."


Reader question

Gentle Reader A Soldiers Girl asks:

Hey LD,

Do you have a post covering the general statutes on defending your house, in Texas?

We've had several break-ins in the neighborhood and we're simply looking to understand what we are and are not allowed to do if someone breaks in while we are home.

Always a Good Thing to know.

Use of Force and Deadly Force is covered in the Texas Penal Code, specifically Chapter Nine of that Code.

In that Chapter, pay particular attention to 9.32 -- which states that Texas does not require a homeowner to retreat inside of his own habitation -- and 9.42, which justifies the use of Deadly Force to protect property.

That being said -- and I cannot stress this strongly enough -- check with your local District Attorney to see how he (or she) regards Chapter 9.

Unfortunately, in some parts of Texas we have District Attorneys who have announced their intention of prosecuting folks for actions which the Texas Legislature has already sanctioned.

As always, this advice is worth exactly what you paid for it.


ps: Be sure to read Senate Bill 378, signed into law by the Texas Governor and effective as of Sept 1, 2007. Don't know how I forgot about that one, but thanks to William the Coroner for reminding me.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Truth be told, I wasn't moving all that fast, either.

The show that Tole mentions -- Human Weapon -- is growing on me.

Yes, the basic premise -- one week of study under multiple teachers in a fighting style and then one of the hosts takes on a long-term student -- irritates me; and some of the facts recited by the hosts are shaky to say the least ...

... but I'm actually enjoying the show.


The Sergeant-Major

My friend Peter and I were talking the other night, when he recited a quote to me. It was, as all good quotes are, as simple and elegant as it was profound.

Any quote that good has to have a story behind it, so I asked and Peter was good enough to e-mail it to me.

Here is the story in Peter's own words:

I'd just entered the South African armed forces and was doing basic training (which involved much blood, sweat and tears, all mine - the SADF was fighting a border war at the time and they didn't believe in soft training!). On the firing-range one day I was being my typical teenage dumbass self (I hadn't grown up yet, of course - some would say I still haven't!), and muttered a comment to the guy next to me, something about having practiced this stuff enough and when were we going to do something more interesting?

There came a tap on my shoulder. Looking around, I snapped to a brace. The Sergeant-Major of our training unit stood there in his polished, creased, mirror-bright glory, glaring at me. I was sure he was going to rip my head off my shoulders or have me running up and down serving as a moving target for the rest of the morning, but he just looked at me. In a slow, resigned voice (the kind they use to dumbass recruits), he said, "Troop, an amateur practices until he's got it right. A professional practices until he can't get it wrong!"

I've never forgotten those words. They've kept me alive on at least three occasions. Words to live by, indeed.

"An amateur practices until he gets it right. A professional practices until he can't get it wrong."

This quote is good advice for anyone. For those of us who practice defensive arts, it should be dicta.


Sunday, September 02, 2007

Top Dove.

Some of my Gentle Readers may not realize how important September 1 is.

It is the first day of Dove Season here in Texas, and for some, a fairly important minor religious holiday.

So, there I was, wearing the (State-mandated) 144 square inches of Daylight Orange on both chest and back,and the (State-mandated) Daylight Orange headgear, tucked contentedly into a nook in a mesquite tree-line.

In front of me, there was this lovely great patch of sunflowers -- crack cocaine to doves -- past that was a lake and behind me was not only a tree-line, but was also east.

The plan was that the doves would wake up, fly out of the trees towards the lake for a morning drink -- crossing my line of fire -- then, thirst slaked -- would fly into the sunflower patch to break their fast -- again crossing my line of fire and affording me the opportunity to blow the feathers off of the UN Symbol of Peace, prior to wrapping his little butt in bacon and searing him over a nice mesquite fire.

Now, since I am a County Employee, there is no way that I can afford a hunting lease. This limits my dove hunting opportunities to Public Land (see orange hunting requirements above), so I was fully cognisant that Reno and I would have a bit of company that morning.

When we had parked Reno's truck, there were no other vehicles anywhere, and I heard nothing as I waited for the sun to come up.

Just as the sun crested the horizon, I heard the double-click from Reno's radio, then the thump of his Mossberg 835 caused the first dove of the day to exclaim, "Holy [deleted], it's September 1 already?!" just before performing a classic Split-S and becoming a brown Mach 2 streak at grasstop level.

Unfortunately, this brought him right past my location, and I'm catching up to him with the brass bead of my 16 gauge* when he pulls a batwing turn that should have been impossible without a G-suit ...

... and I hear this voice on the far side of the dove yell, "Jeff, Jeff, Jeff -- izzat a dove?!"

"Oh," sayeth that little voice in the back of my head, "bugger."

"Shootshootshoot!" shrieks the heretofore unseen Jeff.

I hit the dirt, finding myself nose-to-nose with a spider who -- obviously a veteran of previous dove hunts -- had all eight legs covering his head.


When the shooting died down, I cautiously peered over my comforting tree root as a cattle egret who had been circling overhead -- smugly confident in his neutral status -- dirt-darted into the ground about twenty feet away.

"Jeff, Jeff! I got his butt, Jeff!"

Down above the sunflower patch, the absolutely untouched dove snap-rolled and cut in the afterburner just above the tops of the flowers, leaving -- I swear to God -- petals tossing in his wake -- as the world exploded.

There wasn't that much ground-to-air fire above Baghdad.

Either time.

The dove went feet-wet over the lake and disappeared in the early-morning fog to the accompaniment of the Top Gun theme.

I spit out some grass, looked sideways at the spider and commented, apropos of nothing: "Sounds like the magazine plug law is more like a magazine plug suggestion around here." The spider cocked a snook in my general direction and hurried off to the local air-raid bunker.

My radio crackled, Reno warbling: "It's raining lead ... Hallelujah! It's raining lead ... Amen!"

I hauled myself to my feet, checked my Remington Model 11, and wandered off to check my buddy. As I walked up, he cocked an eyebrow at me, took off his State-approved Daylight Orange ball cap and brushed 7 1/2 shot off of it.

"Didn't we find a rule that says you've got to wear a certain amount of orange if you're hunting on public land?"

I nod.

"Of the three thousand [deleted] hunters out here, how many orange vest you see?"

"Yours and mine." I pause meditatively. "How many of those auto-chuckers have magazine plugs, you think?"

He snorts, "Yours."

Long pause, as the gentle patter of falling 7 1/2 shots rustles around us.

"I'll bet the catfish are biting out at Kickapoo."

"You read my mind."

So we took Reno's wife and daughter out to the lake and caught fish on the opening day of Dove Season.


*That one, single statement has at least one reader in Denton County performing a Migraine Salute and mumbling something about my fascination with obsolete calibres. I can't help it -- I like the 16-gauge.