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.