Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Last Gun Nuts radio show ...

... of 2008, that is.

For those few Gentle Readers who don't know, Caleb of "Call me Ahab" and Breda of "The Breda Fallacy" (Viva La Bredalucion!) have an web radio show/web chat every Tuesday night at 8:00 PM Central Time called Gun Nuts Radio in which many topics of importance to the Internet Gun Community are discussed.

It is -- without doubt -- one of the fastest hours on the Internet; and many shining luminaries of the Gunny side of Blogworld can often be found in the chat and sometimes calling in.

I'd take it kindly if y'all might go by and wish Breda and Caleb a Happy New Year.

And don't miss the after show party at Gunblogger Conspiracy.


Friday, December 26, 2008


It's a good thing that the Federal Government is there to assure us that Social Security really isn't a ponzi scheme.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Classic LawDog File

This is one of the first LawDog Files that I ever wrote for the Internet.

Merry Christmas, Gentle Readers.

In late 1995, a critter in our town twisted off and hit his ladyfriend in the head a couple of times with an axe. Not one to leave a job half-done, he dragged her out to the lake, wired her up to a cinderblock and shoved her off into the water.

Wonder of wonders, she survived. Even bigger wonder, she came into town and filed charges on her boyfriend.

I had been out on a date, and wandered back into town about the time that the search was really getting wound up. First thing in the door of the office and the Sheriff hits me with three conflicting orders on where to go (one of those places would require asbestos underoos). Anyhoo, I'm trying to find my spare set of armour and a call comes in: one of our local merchants has spotted the critter climbing in a back window of an abandoned building used for storage.

The Sheriff grabs me and a luckless Highway Patrol Trooper who had come in for a coffee refill and off we go.

The other two deputies were hell-and-gone on the other side of the county, so it was just the three of us.

For those of you who don't know how to search a large building with only three people, it's really quite simple: two officers place themselves on opposite outside corners of the building so that they can see all four sides (to catch the critter trying to escape) and one officer goes inside.

Three guesses who got to go inside, and the first two don't count.

Yep. Let me tell you, that place was darker than the Earl of Hells waistcoat and stacked floor-to-ceiling with shelves. On those shelves was the collected knick-knacks of 20 years of Main Street stores. And not a lightbulb anywhere.

There I was, with a snubbie .357, a five-cell Maglight and a Handi-Talkie, and me only having two hands. About the fourth time I tried to answer the Sheriff's: "Have you got him yet!?" while trying to cover a suspicious patch of darkness and juggle the Mag-Lite, I stopped in the feeble light of the moon shining down through a hole in the ceiling.

I'm busily trying to figure out which I needed more: the Mag-lite or the Handi-talkie, when the SOB jumps me. I'm here to tell you, folks, things went rodeo from there. He lunged out of a shadow, trying to grab for my throat, and me--reacting totally instinctively--I whack him a good one across the forehead with the Maglight.

Bulb, batteries and assorted electronic parts arc gracefully into the darkness. Critter takes one step back and jumps at me again.

Things are not looking good in Dogville.

I've got the snubbie back with my right hand, trying to keep it away from this goblin, and I'm trying to stiff-arm him away with my left when I step onto what was later found to be a D-cell battery from my Maglight.

Down I go. And the alleged axe-murderer lands on top of me. Hoo boy.The gloves really come off then. We roll on the cold cement, I'm hitting him in the head with the butt of my revolver, elbow smashes to the jaw and brachial plexus, knee strikes--the whole enchilada. And he keeps grabbing at my throat.

Finally, we roll into a patch of moonlight--
and the bastard has a knife!

Folks, I hate knives. No, I
really hate knives. He's on top of me, and he has to weigh three-hundred pounds, and that damn knife is coming down in slow motion......about the same time that the barrel of my snubbie rams up under his chin and I squeeze off two rounds.

Blowing the electronic brains and assorted stuffing of the Animatronic Life-Like Talking Santa Claus belonging to the local Thriftway halfway to Dodge City.

You don't want to know what a couple of .357 rounds will do to hydraulics.


There I was. Staring at the robotic Kris Kringle whom I had assaulted, aggravated assaulted and finally brutally murdered, when the Sheriff and the trooper come crashing through the place looking for me.

The Sheriff looked at me and the fallen Jolly Elf and then began to stare fixedly at the ceiling, while tugging his moustache.

Gary (the trooper), holsters his SIG, gets out his pipe, looks around the crime scene, picks up a piece of flaming hat trim and uses it to light his pipe.

Gary: (puffing pipe into life) "Obviously an assault candy cane. Bet it ain't registered."

Sheriff: "Dangerous things, assault canes."

Gary: "Obviously, a good shoot." Puff, puff.

Sheriff: "Don't worry boy. I'll call the Marshals first thing in the morning.

Me: "Duh, puff-pant, huh?"

Sheriff: "Boy, there's gonna be several million kids after your hide come Christmas. Witness Protection Program is your only chance."

Smart ass. That was the only time I have ever used the Universal Peace Gesture to my fellow LEOs.

And the critter was caught in New Mexico an hour later.



"We’re NORAD. We don’t lose track of Santa."

In 1955 a newspaper in Colorado Springs, Colorado printed an ad from Sears Roebuck in which a number was given so that children could call and talk to Father Christmas.

Well, people are human after all, and Murphy does kind of hate us -- personally -- so it should come as no surprise that the newspaper kind of flubbed a bit on that number.

The first child to call the Jolly Old Elf wound up calling the hot-line at Continental Air Defence Command -- the predecessor to what is now North American Aerospace Defence Command, better known to most as NORAD.

Colonel Harry W. Shoup -- Director of Ops at CONAD -- took the call, and after figuring out just what the heck was going on, told the child that he was, indeed, St. Nicholas and reassured the bairn that he was on-schedule.

Well, since the phone number in the advert was bolloxed, that was only the first of many, many, calls from small children, anxious to talk to Kriss Kringle.

Colonel Shoup, bless his heart, arranged for his staff to give location updates on those eight tiny reindeer to each child who called.

And so, a tradition was born.

Staff at the original CONAD -- and later at NORAD -- enthusiastically embraced "Santa Tracking" and each year thereafter volunteers manned phone banks to keep children all over the world updated on the journey of Santa Claus on Christmas night.

Last year, the Santa Operations Centre answered over 90 thousand phone calls, ten thousand e-mails and their website received over 10 million visitors.


Merry Christmas, everyone.


Monday, December 22, 2008

A Soldiers Night Before Christmas

This year, remember those spending their Christmas far from home.


Friday, December 19, 2008

I'll see your earworm and raise you.

My buddy MattG has posted a tune from classical cinema.

I think it's classic.

Anyhoo, while banging around the Internet trying to get rid of the ensuing earworm I came across this:

It is, of course, the iconic score from
"The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" done by a group from England called The Spaghetti Western Orchestra.

Maybe I'm just a skosh strange, but I find this absolutely charming.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

I'd like to welcome ...

... Observations of an Old Cop to Blogworld.

Go by and say, "Howdy."


Friday, December 12, 2008

Meditations on stopping power

One of the Holy Grails of the gunny world is "stopping power".

Arcane formulas combining bullet weight, velocity and diametre in various proportions are proposed, established, fretted over and adopted -- or discarded -- in search of a pistol/round combination that will "guarantee" that the user will emerge victorious in an armed confrontation. And choices once made are defended with religious fervor.


To my mind, none of these formulas are capable of quantifying the most important part of stopping power.

This is not to say that your choice of sidearm and your choice of calibre aren't important in your search for "stopping power" ... but there is another variable that is much more important than bullet size and velocity.


It doesn't matter how big a hole the bullet makes ... if you don't carry the gun that fires it.

It doesn't matter how fast that bullet is going ... if you never practice with the gun that fires it.

I see that I have lost some of my Gentle Readers. Allow me to explain.

One of my training officers carried a Colt Lightweight Commander in .41 Avenger. This round was -- and is, to the best of my knowledge -- a custom affair, involving a .45 Winchester Magnum case trimmed to .45ACP length and then necked down to .410 inches. From what I've read about the .41 Avenger, it is a perfectly adequate self-defence round.

This officer bought the pistol in the late 1980's, and fifty rounds of the bottle-necked ammunition came with it.

In 1994, he still had 36 rounds left of the original 50. In ten-plus years of carry -- patrol and otherwise -- he had only fired two magazines worth of ammunition out of that pistol.

Now, some of the canyons that dot the Panhandle caprock are full of prickly pear cactus. On slow patrol days, it wasn't unusual for gun-savvy officers to utilize these plants for impromptu shooting challenges of the "Right, ten yards, low, two fruits -- GO!" sort.

The one time we were able to chivvy this officer into shooting with us -- he was unable to consistently hit a prickly pear pad at seven yards.

Folks, .410 inches; 170 grains; 1100 feet per second looks almighty good on paper -- but if you haven't practiced enough to hit what you're aiming at ... what good are those numbers doing you, exactly?

Another gentleman of my acquaintance -- not a peace officer, but a gunny type -- had become enamoured of the 10mm. My paw to Freyja, the man had a ten-minute speech -- spiced with multiple quotes from Colonel Jeff Cooper (pbuh) -- regarding the merits of the 10x25mm.

Not being able to get his paws upon Messers Dornaus and Dixon's Bren Ten pistol, this gentleman had settled for the next best thing: a Smith and Wesson 1076 "FBI Special". And -- as with the round it fired -- he would happily opine at length as to the man-stopping abilities of that particular pistol.

The thing is, didn't matter where he was, what time of day it was, or what he was doing -- if you asked to see this wonder of gunfighting tools ... he'd go and get it out of the safe.

.400 inches; 200 grains; 1200 feet per second are "stopping power" stats you can't argue with -- but if they're in the gun safe at home when you're face-to-bad-breath with a critter in the mall parking lot ... what bloody good are those statistics doing you, exactly?

In contrast, allow me to introduce an older gentleman. He carries a three-inch Smith and Wesson revolver in .38 Special.

Now, most tactically-aware gunnies will be quick to tell you that the .38 Special is towards the low-end of the so-called "stopping power" spectrum. Matter-of-fact, most would tell you that .358 inches; 158 grains and 900 feet per second is the bare minimum.

Thing is, that old gentleman shoots a minimum of 200 rounds out of that pistol every month. He plinks dirt clods and charcoal briquettes with it; he hunts jackrabbits on his oil lease and turtles in his stock tank with it; he's taught his children, grandchildren and multiple acquaintances to shoot with it; and he shoots in several formal and informal matches each year with it.

That pistol is a part of him. He puts it on each morning, and takes it off each evening. The bluing has etched away from the thousands of draws from leather he's practiced; and the grips are worn to match his hands.

If the eco-friendly fertilizer hits the rotating, oscillating, vector-flow cooling unit that .38 is not going to be sitting useless in a gun cabinet: it's going to be where it's been for the past several decades -- because he carries it.

He's not going to flinch, he's not going to fumble his draw or muff his shot; and each round is going to go exactly where he wants it to -- because he practices with it.

That, Gentle Readers, is stopping power.


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Texas Open Carry of Handguns

The recent news that the State of Texas is considering allowing our citizens to carry handguns openly has resulted in a slew of e-mail headed my way.

Including, by-the-by, one from an apparently confused Brady supporter who seems to have gotten his LawDogs mixed up.

But I digress.

What is my position on allowing the open carry of handguns in the Great State of Texas?

I'm all for it.

Options are good. Anything that gives law-abiding citizens more options and choices as to how they go about their everyday business is a Good Thing.

Oh, I've heard all the arguments: "Oh, sweet zombie Jeebus! It'll be the Wild West all over again!"

First off, the open-carrying Wild West had a murder rate considerably less than that of a modern big city -- so the return of the Good Old Days (and their lower murder rate) would actually be a Good Thing.

If you're thinking of Hollywood's hysterical, historically inaccurate, bushwa version of the Wild West -- well, the motto of Holly is "Willing Suspension of Disbelief". Just because Hollywood has shown me kids flying on brooms, talking battle bears and elephant-skating elven archers, it doesn't mean that I expect any of those things outside of the theatre.

And so it is with the whole "Wild West gun-fights-on-every-corner" argument: looks good on the big screen -- doesn't happen in Real Life.

Case(s) in point: Vermont has NO LAWS whatsoever regulating the carry of firearms, neither does Alaska. Citizens can open carry in those states without any interference by way of the Government -- at all.

When was the last time you heard of multiple street-corner gunfights in either of those two states?

In addition, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Arizona, New Mexico, Kentucky, West Virgina and Virginia already allow the open carry of firearms with neither permit nor licence required to do so.

I don't know about y'all, but when it comes to running gun battles on street corners, South Dakota and Wyoming aren't the first places that comes to mind.

Washington, DC and Chicago, now, do come to mind -- but open carry is forbidden to citizens in those places, so they really don't count.

The gutters haven't run chest-deep in blood due to law-abiding citizens open carrying firearms in any other state where open carry is allowed -- they're not going to overflow in Texas, either.

Open Carry in Texas has my support and my vote.


Saturday, December 06, 2008

H-S Precision: Women and Children First.

The title quote has been shamelessly stolen from the Atomic Nerds.

In 1992 during the standoff at Ruby Ridge, an FBI sniper named Lon Horiuchi received a set of unlawful orders.

In these United States, officers of the law are authorized to use deadly force against another in the field only --
only -- when such force is necessary to prevent another person from inflicting death or serious bodily injury upon the officer or a third party.

The orders received by Lon Horiuchi came in the form of a "modified Rules of Engagement", said modification reading:

"If any adult male is observed with a weapon prior to the [surrender] announcement, deadly force can and should be employed, if the shot can be taken without endangering any children.

If any adult in the compound is observed with a weapon after the surrender announcement is made, and is not attempting to surrender, deadly force can and should be employed to neutralize the individual."

Allow me to remove the extraneous stuff: "If any adult male is observed with a weapon, deadly force should be employed."

Do note the lack of the verbs, "threatening", "harming", "injuring" or the like.

No. The orders received by Lon Horiuchi directed him to kill anyone who so much as touched a weapon.

Note that not only do I consider these "modified" Rules of Engagement to be unlawful, the Department of Justice labeled them as UnConstitutional.

So. After receiving these unlawful, UnConstitutional orders, Lon Horiuchi did not man up and inform his superiors that he categorically refused to follow those orders. He didn't even keep quiet while refusing to obey them.

No. Lon Horiuchi not only accepted those orders, but he followed them to the letter by firing twice upon adult males who were armed, but not posing any imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to Agent Horiuchi or any other third party.

During the firing of these two shots, Lon Horiuchi managed to quite neatly shoot Vicki Weaver (neither an adult male nor observed with a weapon) in the face -- while she was holding her baby daughter in her arms -- killing the 42-year-old mother graveyard dead.

Thankfully, he managed to miss the baby.

He was not prosecuted for this, nor was he censured, rebuked or slapped on the wrist. Attempts by the State of Idaho to prosecute him for manslaughter were cut off short by the Federal government.

Some years later, the firearms firm of H-S Precision decided to include a testimonial in their catalog in which the author praised H-S Precision products.

That author was Lon Horiuchi.

To say that this was tasteless is the understatement of the century. What's next -- OJ Simpson appearing in adverts praising Buck Knives?

This bit of news hit the shooting part of BlogWorld to quite understandable outrage, and I was fairly confident that H-S Precision would -- sooner or later -- realize the depths of their
faux pas and set about to making an apology.

Meh, not so much.

That's an apology? Are you [deleted] me?

Right then. H-S Precision can go rot. I will not buy H-S Precision products, nor will I support H-S Precision, and I will do my level best to ensure that any departments I work for, or am affiliated with, do the same.

Nothing but the back of my hand to H-S Precision.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Good news

My buddy Larry Correia -- author, gun-nut, Merchant of Doom and fellow B-movie aficionado -- self-published a book some time ago.

That book was picked up by Baen publishing and is now ready for pre-order.

While I am still monumentally cheesed-off at Amazon.com, I can make a single-time exception to help a friend out: Monster Hunter International.

Buy it, read it, tell friends.


Crows and buzzards got families to feed.

Of the ten known suspects in the Mumbai atrocity, nine got their fuzzy butts thumped from this mortal coil by various representatives of the Indian security forces.

I wake up this morning to discover news that warms the cockroaches of my savage little heart: USA Today and the Times Online report that the local Muslim graveyard in Mumbai is refusing to bury the little bugsnipes.

Apparently the cemetery that did the refusing has enough influence that the seven other Muslim graveyards in Mumbai probably aren't going to accept the carcasses, either; and the Australian is reporting that the Muslim Council of India is refusing to allow burial anywhere on Indian soil -- Mumbai or not.

You have no idea how much that makes me giggle.

The Indian Government is now having to decide what to do with the carcasses.

We here at The LawDog Files are of the opinion that scavengers gotta eat, too. Dump the meat on a convenient hilltop and let Mother Nature take over.

If the sight of dead murderers being, well --
useful -- might be considered a tad upsetting for sensitive eyesight, then Mumbai has that lovely ocean view -- and probably some excess chain and cinderblocks needing using.

The local sea critters would probably be most appreciative -- and five fathoms down should certainly be well out of view of even the most squeamish.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Turkey Day!

Granted, a little late, but I worked a twelve-hour shift today.

I am pleased to report that -- at the time of publication -- the three-year streak of Aggravated Assault with a BBQ Fork (a/k/a "The Thanksgiving Forkings") has apparently come to a much-deserved end. Not before time, I say.

Nothing was burned down, blown up, or introduced at high-speed into random immovable thingummies; and only two Assaults (Family Violence) came to our attention.

Everyone at the office working today brought a covered dish and a great deal of high-quality nosh was consumed by all.

Not a bad Thanksgiving, all things considered.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I wouldn't do that if I were you ...

On this day in 1939, the Soviet Red Army -- probably on direct orders from the Politburo -- shelled one of their own villages on the Karelian Isthmus and immediately began pointing fingers at Finland.

Four days of intense Soviet propaganda later, Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili -- in a tactic that had served him so well previously in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia -- sent his troopies over the Finnish border.

Unfortunately, most of what Uncle Josef managed to do was severely irritate a large part of the population of Finland in general, and a certain five-foot, three-inch skinny little farmer in particular.

Over the next three-ish months -- 30NOV1939 to 13MAR1940 -- the 250,000 grunts of the Finnish military faced off against 1,000,000 (one million) Soviet soldiers.

There are numerous scholarly works explaining the results -- the Soviet officer corp was still recovering from one of Uncle Josef's little purges; Finnish tactics were simple (Charge!) and flexible; the Soviet armies being used were drawn from the south of the Soviet Union and weren't really accustomed to brawling in -40 degree weather; and the Finns quite happily cheated (a favourite target of Finnish attacks and artillery barrages was the Soviet field kitchens. Nothing wrecks morale quite like never, ever seeing a hot meal during 90+ days of fighting in Arctic weather.)

Whatever the reason, the Finnish military (metaphorically-speaking. Sort of.) hauled off and place-kicked the Soviet Red Army right in the wedding tackle and kept on punting until they were dragged, kicking and screaming, to the peace table on March 12, 1940 -- 105 days after the Soviets started the whole thing -- to sign a brutal and dishonourable cessation of hostilities.

Soviet casualties were almost 400,000 men dead, wounded and missing; with another 5,600 POWs. They managed to inflict less than 70,000 dead and wounded on the Finns, with only about a thousand Finnish POWs.

And that skinny farmer? Well, he picked up his iron-sighted Finnish copy of the Mosin-Nagant M28, sewed himself an oversuit of white bedsheets, and (with the occasional judicious application of a KP-31 submachine gun)
proceeded to personally turf between 500 and 700 Soviet solders in front of Saint Peter's desk until 06MAR1940 when a Red counter-sniper got lucky and put Simo Häyhä out of the fight for the rest of the (all-too-brief) war.

That averages out to about five enemy personnel a day for 100 continuous days. With iron-sights.

While Finland ultimately lost the Winter War that was started this day, 69 years ago, the cost of that defeat was best summed up by a Soviet general officer, who later stated: "We gained just enough land to bury our dead."



Monday, November 24, 2008

Public Service Announcement

It is coming upon the season of the year for champagne, and in the interests of safety and peace amongst family and friends, we here at The LawDog Files would like to address some concerns.

Specifically involving the humble champagne cork.

Ladies and gentlemen, nothing takes the sparkle out of a celebration quite like an errant champagne cork ground-zeroing in your hostesses heirloom crystal stemware collection, prized Ming vase or -- worst case scenario -- impacting amidships of Fluffy, and causing said family feline to take a high-velocity lap or six through various displayed pretties.

Plus -- and here I speak to my fellow knuckle-draggers -- as gentlemen, we strive to avoid offering unintended insults or creating unintended awkward situations.

And nothing says "Awkward Situation" quite like the random ricochets of your champagne stopper terminating in the dècolletage of another gentleman's date.

So. Here is our nemesis, the standard bottle of champagne.

First, champagne must be chilled. Not only is sparkling wine meant to be consumed while cold, it has considerably less pressure contained in the bottle -- which means less velocity if things should go all agley. A bucket of ice with some water is quite adequate to chill the champagne to the required 45 degrees Fahrenheit -- if given adequate time. Twenty minutes should do nicely.

Now, find a cloth napkin or kitchen towel, and either drape it over your non-dominant arm, or place next to the bottle.

Take your non-dominant hand and place the palm firmly upon the top of the cork, with the twist of the wire cork cage betwixt your fore-finger and thumb.

Press down with a gentle firmness upon the cork as you untwist the wire cork cage. You do this because there is some small chance that the cork will fire upon release of the cage. Be prepared for this -- your startle reflex will cause you to clamp down on the errant cork -- smile, and present the cork to your date or hostess with a gallant bow.

In this case, the cork has remained steadfast in its duty. While keeping gentle pressure upon the cork, loosen the cage all around the bottle and cork, then take your cloth napkin or towel and flip it over the top of the hand resting on the cork. Slide that hand down the neck of the bottle until below the fall of the cloth, then reach back up with that hand and take a grip of the cloth-wrapped neck of the bottle and lift the bottle gently.

With your dominant hand, secure a grip upon the fat part of the bottle, then grasp the cloth-covered cork just above where it enters the neck with the other hand, bottle canted at an angle of 45 degrees -- more or less.

Now, the hand holding the body of the bottle gently -- gently, I say! -- twists the bottle towards your body, and down; while the other hand -- again, gently! -- twists the cork in the opposite direction and up.

You will be rewarded with the characteristic "Pop!" -- stop pulling. Leave your hand holding the cloth and cork on the neck of the bottle until you are sure there will be no spewing forth of foam -- the cloth will catch any froth if there is.

Remove the cloth containing the cork -- a restrained flourish is appropriate here, if desired -- and pour the champagne into glasses.



Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Bourne Syndrome

I am a fan of the first Bourne movie. Particularly so since I didn't much care for the Robert Ludlum book and was able to watch the movie without bemoaning that the movie had exactly one blessed thing to do with said aforementioned book.

One of the reasons I did enjoy that movie were the fight scenes.

A good fight scene is every bit as beautiful as a dance. Matter-of-fact -- given the circumstances that Hollywood must necessarily work under -- a good fight scene
is a dance between professional performers.

Plus, the techniques used during the movie were ones that I'm familiar with -- more-or-less. There's nothing quite like seeing the kali drill you've been working on done on the big-screen.

Then along came the third Bourne movie and it all just went to hell.

Somebody, somewhere in Hollywood has decided that movie fight scenes must be filmed by fourteen different cameras, each one only filming for three micro-seconds before switching to the next camera.

Plus, each camera must be moving past, or through, the action sequence at a dead sprint during that three micro-seconds -- and Steadicams are apparently passé, because every step and bobble is displayed in all its amplified glory on the screen.

Between the sudden view switching, the high-speed swooping and the constant waggle, wobble and jiggle of the screen -- I found the third Bourne film to be unwatchable.

One should not feel the need for Dramamine during a featured film you paid money for. Mal de mer belongs out on the open sea -- not in a $8.00 theatre seat.

I bring this up because my brother took me to see
Quantum of Solace this afternoon -- and it suffers from a terminal case of The Bourne Syndrome.

Not only were the fight-scenes filmed in high-speed, multiple angle, diving, zooming snips, but so were the car chases, the boat chases and the foot chases.

I suppose this is supposed to add ... something ... to the cinematic experience, but if so, it is lost in the feelings of nausea, visual confusion and the sodding headache that it give me.

Unless, of course, sea-sickness
is the effect the director was going for -- in which case, Bravo, old chap! Well done, indeed.

Fight scenes are intricate, beautiful choreography. It would kind of be nice to be able -- you know -- SEE IT. Particularly when somebody ponies up some hard-earned dosh to see it.

Daniel Craig is becoming my favourite Bond, but if someone doesn't find a Steadicam for the next movie and lay-off the bloody camera-on-a-bungee-cord filming style, I'll probably not watch the next one.

The headache simply isn't worth it.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Au contraire

You stand there, a picture of righteous indignation, and protest that I am "ruining your life".

Allow me to retort.

You went home to your nine-months-plus-pregnant wife at five o'clock this morning, after pub-crawling all night.

Thirty minutes after getting to bed, your offspring decided -- as is Mama Nature's prerogative -- to begin the whole "Hello, World!" thing; necessitating your wife (being the pregnant one, and all that) waking you up with the Time Honoured News that it was time to go to the hospital.

According to statements from residents of the four adjoining apartments, your response was to bellow -- and do let me quote -- "You [deleted][deleted], how could you [deleted] do this to me?!"

Seeing as how your wife was going into labour, you pretty much had to know this was coming for a least a month or two.

Anyhoo, again according to witnesses, you followed up this wonderful display by flinging the car keys out of the window of your second-floor apartment into the parking lot, where they went Goddess-only-knows-where.

While your wife tried to find the keys to your family's only means of transportation to the hospital (have I touched upon the whole going-into-labour bit?) you went to the bathroom, where you consumed the contents of a bottle of Tylenol PM; a bottle of melatonin; a bottle of prenatal vitamins and six Sudafed -- and this is the truly heroic bit -- washing them all down with half of a bottle of Listerine.

Dude ... Listerine?

Apparently being somewhat of an over-achiever, you then proceeded to pound upon several doors in the apartment complex, demanding that the inhabitants there-of -- and, please, allow me to paraphrase -- "Shoot you and put you out of your misery".

Unfortunately, no one stepped up to do society a favour, and you wound up -- unventilated, damn it -- back at your apartment, beating your head on the door and wailing at the top of your lungs to an uncaring Fate, until your complex manager -- for the sake of peace and quiet -- informed you that your father-in-law had taken his Baby Girl to the hospital.

By-the-by, your wife's loving father has tried to post your bail. Four times. Apropos of nothing, if I were you, I'd meditate on the fact that the weather in Outer Mongolia is absolutely
splendid this time of year.

I'm just saying, is all.

Somehow you managed to find the car keys that you had previously chucked into the parking lot, and proceeded to drive your hung-over, buzzing, yet fresh-breathed self to the hospital to demand the whereabouts of your wife.

I'm sure that you are correct and that your in-laws did arrange for your wife's admission to be kept confidential, however, the proper way to deal with this is not to sit down on the floor in front of the Admissions Desk and continually bellow your spouse's name.

I'm guessing that you have figured out all on your ownsome that flinging yourself onto your side when Hospital Security arrives and kicking your legs in a circle, while shrieking at the top of your lungs is also not a wise response.

I'd dearly like tell you that the sentence in the Security Incident Form that reads,
"... forcing us to deploy PepperFoam and our flashlights to gain compliance ..." doesn't make me giggle like a school-girl -- but I'd be lying.


So. Here you are, sniveling that if we don't let you go attend the birth of your child, we're going to Ruin Your Life.

*scratch, scratch*

Old cock, I think you've already got that part sewn up quite nicely.

You'll be out of here in four hours -- if you're sober. Shut your mush and go to sleep.



Thursday, November 13, 2008

Apropos of nothing ...

Have you ever wondered why a cerebra-vascular accident is called a "stroke"?

Today when we find a victim who has suddenly lost muscle control over one side of their body; who suddenly can't speak clearly, or understand words spoken to them, medical science tells us that they've probably lost blood supply to a part -- or parts -- of their brain.

Centuries ago, however, when someone collapsed, half-paralyzed and unable to speak, it was understood that they had run afoul of one of the Faerie who had proceeded to strike them down -- in other words, the victim had been the recipient of an "elf-stroke".

Over the centuries, we have dropped the "elf" part, while hanging on to the last part of the phrase.

And that is tonight's Useless Trivia.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thank you, Mr. Atkins

I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!

--Rudyard Kipling

I'm not a big fan of Veterans Day. It's very handy to have one day each year where some folks can wave their flags, visit the area Veterans Admin hospital, go down to the VFW to shake hands and hug; and generally make nice until midnight ...

... when the flags are put away until next year, along with the visits and the hugs.


Enjoy Veterans Day, Gentle Readers. Just don't forget that veterans are still veterans the other 364 days of the year, too. Their needs, their problems -- the myriad reasons a Veterans Day is needed -- don't go away on November 12.


I'm sorry, run that by me again?

Run that a couple of times, being careful to listen about 30 seconds in.

I was kind of under the impression that Presidents of the United States of America would "begin to serve Day 1", rather than "begin to rule Day 1" -- but maybe that's just me.



Sunday, November 09, 2008

Bloody hell

Well, someone is making money hand-over-fist from the election of Democrats in general and Obama in particular -- has anyone tried to get into a gunshop recently?

Sweet shivering Shiva. The local Merchant of Death Emporium is Standing Room Only, and has been since Wednesday last.

I'm not sure if the maddening crowd is composed of folks who are buying the gun they've always wanted before Obama and the Democrats make them illegal; or if it's folks who don't know (or care) about guns, but who are going to make a great deal of money reselling them after Obama and the Democrats make them illegal.

Either way, it's damned annoying.

Yesterday, I fought my way to the front of the crowd and asked for a box of 12 gauge 00 buckshot.

"Don't have any" was the answer.

How the hell, I opined, could a gunstore run out of a basic part of kit like shotgun rounds?

"Easy," was the response, "Some dude came in with a debit card and bought every case in stock. Every one."

*blink, blink*

You've got to be kidding me.

Here I thought we were in a financial crisis because no one was buying anything.


Prices are going to shoot through the roof. Sodding gun-grabbing Leftist numpties are going to put one hell of a dent in my gun collection time-table.



Thursday, November 06, 2008

STRATFOR weighs in

For those Gentle Readers who may not have heard of Strategic Forecasting, it is the private intelligence agency based in Austin, Texas once referred to by Barron's Magazine as "The Shadow CIA".

Very canny folks, they are courted by international government agencies and Fortune 500 companies.

They are good about publishing free intelligence reports, and one such details the geo-political problems facing President-elect Obama.

Good, thorough intelligence. If you want a solid analysis -- rather than the pablum pandered by the Main Stream Media -- you would be well-served by reading their report.


Sunday, November 02, 2008

Meditations on speed

This came to me in an e-mail. I'm pretty sure it's a real situation, but it could be staged -- either way, it's good fodder for mental exercise.


There is an old saying in gunfighting: "Slow is smooth; smooth is fast."

This is a short, easily-remembered way to express the thought that in complicated series of actions, speed comes from efficiently moving through the series, rather than doing each individual motion as quickly as possible. Another, more esoteric, saying is that: "Slow is smooth, fast is sloppy."

Gentle Readers, the speed, the quickness in motion that is the hallmark of the truly fast actions required in high-stress situations -- is a product of adrenaline boosting actions that are already fluid and efficient.

When the endorphin dump of your body's fight-or-flight reactions hits your bloodstream, three thousand repetitions of a turtle-smooth, yet smooth, drawstroke will become a very fast drawstroke.

When the endorphin dump of your body's fight-or-flight reactions hits your bloodstream, three thousand repetitions of your quick-draw-McGraw, maybe-a-bit-sloppy drawstroke will result in your pistol flying across the room.

Smooth in practice gets you fast in combat.

"But, LawDog," I hear you say, "What has that got to do with the video above?"

Much of what is true for gunfighting is also true for the Rest Of Life. Smooth practice to achieve fast actions applies to driving, running errands -- or approaching a bank robbery.

The video above shows several officers getting to a bank robbery in progress as fast as possible -- and sprinting right past a car-load of critters in the process.

Remember what I said about fast being sloppy? If the department shown above is anything like any of the ones I've worked for, training for this sort of thing is always done full-bore, "To get the proper sense of urgency."

Impressed yet?

Getting there first doesn't do you a whole lot of good if you're going to run right past a back-shooting critter.

A walking approach during training gives you time to impress other things upon your trainees minds: awareness of cover, awareness of extra exits, awareness of bystanders, that sort of thing. Repeating this slow training approach works these other, sort of important, things into psyches -- then, when the blitz of adrenaline hits and the trainees are hauling tail, their minds and eyes will be doing what was impressed into them.

"But, LawDog, I'm a CCW, not a cop. I'm not going to be responding to bank robberies."

Given that terrorism isn't going away any time soon, I'd not bet the ranch on that, but that's a discussion for another time.

Any CCW should be practising for home invasions; those who own vehicles should be practising carjacking drills; if you work in an office, office shooter drills -- all these and more.

Run your drills slowly -- don't be afraid to use AirSoft guns -- concentrate on making each move of your drill smooth and efficient, make each action flow into the next -- and when things go all pear-shaped, the adrenaline will make those efficient moves more than fast enough for your needs.


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."


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.


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.


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.


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.



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


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.


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.


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.


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.


Monday, October 20, 2008


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.



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.



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. Damn it.

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


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.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Beef and mushroom stew


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.


Beef and mushroom stew.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

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.


"... 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.


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.


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.



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.



Tuesday, October 07, 2008


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


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.


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.


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?


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.