Sunday, June 21, 2009

Neda Soltani

By now just about everyone has seen the iconic picture of the Iranian protests: a pretty young woman held in the arms of her screaming father, as she dies in a welter of blood.

The actual concrete details are sketchy. There is video showing her and her father standing peaceably on the sidelines, merely watching a protest; and then she dies -- all on video -- confused, terrified, and uncomprehending.

All else is supposition at this time.

That is enough.

For her family, I grieve. I offer my condolences for the loss of their most precious treasure, and I can only utter those most inadequate of words: she is in a better place now.

In time, I hope that the memories of the joy she no doubt provided to you become stronger than the memories of the horror; and thus provide some tiny measure of comfort.

As for those who have done this deed, either directly or indirectly, listen and heed my words.

There will be a reckoning. It may not be before a judge, a jury, or even a mob; there may not be forensic evidence or witness testimony - but know this: all men must stand before their Creator sooner or later.

No God tolerates the wanton butchery of His children -- not mine, nor yours; not the God of Abraham, the God of Paul, nor the God of Mohammed; not even the old Gods of fire and fury, neither the many thousand Gods of the Hindus, nor those of the Han, allow the murder of their innocent children.

Reflect on that, you wretched excuses for men, and despair.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Are you [deleted]-ing me, part the deux.

Stop Customs Pocket Knife Grab -
Isn't that just typical? Just as soon as I get done venting my spleen about cluelessness on the far side of the pond, I discover that -- as usual -- when it comes to home-grown idiots, the good old USofA takes a back seat to no other village world-wide.


Sometime in the mid-1950's, someone parasitizing the United States Federal Government (but I repeat myself) saw one too many showings of West Side Story, The Wild One, and/or Rebel Without A Cause and decided that switchblade knives were the weapon of choice for disaffected youths and uppity ethnics.

Never you mind that switchblades are inherently more fragile. delicate and prone to (catastrophic) failure than your standard, legal, found-everywhere steak knife -- minorities liked them. And that made switchblades Bad Things.

So, we wound up with the Federal Switchblade Act of 1958 in all of its illogical, racist glory.

Fast forward to 2009 and some clueless pencil-pushing smacktard at the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection decides that the Switchblade Act of 1958 doesn't ban enough things.

Yes, Gentle Readers! In their part to help in this time of financial instability and general nervousness, the CBP has decided to unilaterally invoke a rule of their own and potentially make
any knife that can be opened one-handed unlawful.

A light must be shined upon this outrage; CBP must understand that the American public knows what they're trying to do and
Does Not Approve Of It.

Blog this; write letters; inform your kith and kin; and (politely) demand that your Congresscritters firmly bring the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection to heel.

For further information, including pre-written letters, contacts, updates, and various banners such as the one above, scoot over to KnifeRights.Org


In the "Are you [deleted]-ing me?" Department ...

By way of Gentle Reader Bill, we discover the latest "gee-whiz, what the [deleted] was he thinking" gadget: Stab-Proof Knives.

Now, we here at The LawDog Files kind of consider a "stab-proof knife" to be somewhat analogous to a "ride-proof bike
", a "drive-proof car", a "swim-proof pool", or a "swing-proof hammer", but what the hell, we'll take a look at it.

Fortunately the FoxNews story has a link to a Times OnLine story which has a link to the knife designer: New Point Knives

Colour me ... unimpressed.

What really set the cat amongst the pigeons were the quotes from the designer in the articles. While a certain amount of hyperbole is expected in advertising, this goes beyond the pale.

Allow me to quote from both of the news articles listed above:

"It can never be a totally safe knife, but the idea is you can’t inflict a fatal wound," he said. "Nobody could just grab one out of the kitchen drawer and kill someone."

First off, the old boy says that you can't just grab this knife out of a drawer and kill someone like that's a Good Thing.

I'm here to tell you -- from personal experience -- the ability to grab a knife out of the kitchen drawer in your rented flat (in a gun-banning hell-hole) on the way to see who the hell is buzzing the door at three bloody o'clock in the morning can be a warm and comforting thing.

Secondly, I take exception to the statement that:
"Nobody could just grab one out of the kitchen drawer and kill someone." My name may not be Nobody, but I'm pretty sure I could turf someone from this mortal coil with that widget. And if I can do it, I'm willing to bet that most critters could, too.


Don't get me wrong -- if this over-engineered piece of idiocy floats your boat, by all means: outfit your entire kitchen with them.

Just don't be part of forcing me to use them.

And I will guarantee you that somewhere in Dear Old Blighty, someone with a little bit of power and a whole bunch of ego is thinking it'd be a Damned Fine Idea to mandate these stupid knives.

Thinking that there needs to be another useless tit of a law thinly hidden behind, "It's for the chhhhildren!" banning regular knives in favour of these knives upon pain of imprisonment and felony charges.

Pfagh. England, I knew ye when ye were great.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Professor LawDog's School of Mayhem and Survival

Good evening, class.

Today's block of instruction concerns the skill-set popularly called "flash-to-bang time" and its use in SHAG* range estimation.

"Flash-to-bang time" requires two things: 1) an event which produces both an effect that you can see -- the "flash" -- and a sound that you can hear -- the "bang" -- and 2) some way to reliably count seconds.

Now, light travels at about 186,000 miles per second. As far as us knuckle-draggers are concerned, this is close enough to instantaneous as to make no nevermind.

Sound, on the other paw, travels about one mile every five seconds, or 375 yards every second. More or less. This is quick-and-dirty ranging -- you want precision, get a laser rangefinder.

For those on the far side of the pond, one mile every five seconds comes out to about 340 metres per second. More or less.

Obviously, we're going to use the difference between the speed of light and the speed of sound, but to do so, we have to be able to reliably count seconds. This is easily done using the "One thousand" or "Mississippi" technique. Since "One thousand" and "Mississippi" both take just under a second to say, they are both fairly reliable -- as long as you remember two things:

First: The number of seconds goes at the end of the word. You say, "One thousand-one, one thousand-two, one thousand-three" or "Mississippi-five, mississippi-six, mississippi-seven" -- NOT, "One, one thousand; two, one thousand, three one-thousand" or "One mississippi, two mississippi, three mississippi".

Second: Don't count past ten. One through ten are nice one-syllable words. Once you get off into those multi-syllable teens, the number takes longer to say and throws your timing off. If you find yourself needing to go to eleven or higher, mark the first ten and start over again at one thousand-one.


Let us say we have witnessed a flash of lightning. We immediately say, "One thousand ONE, one thousand TWO, one thousand THREE, one thousand FOUR, one thousand FIVE", we hold up an index finger, then we start counting again at, "One thousand ONE, one thousand TWO" and we continue, holding up another digit each time we get to one thousand FIVE and starting the count all over again until we hear the bang of thunder.

Remember the speed of sound? About one mile every five seconds? The number of piggies you are holding up is the range to the lightning bolt in miles.

Of course, there are some of us who are simply too cool to hold up piggies. In this case, count your total number of seconds -- remembering to start over if the count goes past ten -- and divide by five to get the range in miles.

"But, Professor LawDog," I hear you say, "What if the range is less than a mile?"

Nae problemo, grasshopper.

As a creative articulation, let us say that we have a boat-load of eco-terrorists hippies in a harbour somewhere over there. Further, let us state that standing next to us is a confused, yet friendly, French tourist who sure would like to know how far away that particular boat is.

Fortunately, the boat has a steam-whistle, and when you see the plume of white stuff (the flash), you start counting seconds. Two seconds later, you hear the shriek of the whistle (the bang).

Sound travels about 375 yards per second ... two seconds ... 375 times two ... carry the little piggy ... about 750 yards away.

Oops, your new friend is French. Okay ... 340 metres per second ... ummm ... call the range 680 metres.

Using this method, any event which you can both see (flash) and hear (bang) can be ranged. In the past I have used a pile driver -- starting my count at the sight of the drivers impact and ending the count at the distinctive "whomp"; I have used the dust raised by the muzzle-flash of a prone rifleman together with the sound of his shot; and I've used the sight and sound of a man splitting cord-wood with an axe.

Thus endeth the lesson.


*Scientific Hairy-Arsed Guess

Oh, well done

It is with some pleasure that we here at The LawDog Files learn that Christopher Frank Carandini Lee (RAF, ret.) has been made Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Elizabeth the Second.

Mr. Lee was one of the British Volunteers who traveled to Finland to offer their services against the Soviet invaders during the Winter War of 1939.

Following that disastrous little scuffle, Mr. Lee joined the Royal Air Force, and wound up as Intel wonk for the Long Range Desert Group, did some cypher work with 260 Squadron, and pulled a quiet stint with the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, before ending the war with the rank of Flight Lieutenant.

It should also be noted that he has done some work in the movie industry.

Bravo, Sir Christopher. Well done, indeed.


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Open letter to my fellow officers

Ladies and gentlemen:

Let us turn our attention to the lowly, unloved handcuffs. Actually, let us turn our attention to where our handcuffs live for 98% of the time -- some form of leather or (more recently) ballistic cloth.

See that fuzzy kind of stuff lurking around in those handcuff carriers? That, my confused yet earnest apprentices, is lint. Yes, just like the stuff that breeds in your pockets.

Now, you may not know this, but when your 'cuffs are riding in the carriers, all of that lint is busily having conjugal relations with the ever-present dust -- and they're doing this inside of your handcuff mechanism.

I was going to say "ever-present dust-bunnies", but I've seen some of y'all's gear -- and "ever-present dust buffaloes" just doesn't have the cute mental image I was going for.


Now, just what do you think happens to all of that mung when you squirt a jumbo-sized dose of 3-in-1 oil off into the handcuff mechanism?

Maybe nothing -- at first. But, as things go along, as more and more dust and lint builds up, and as more oil gets coinked in there, sooner or later the inside of your handcuff mechanism is going to look remarkably like the Demon Hairball of Azgeroth exploded in there.

And (sooner or later) you're going to be standing there with a bemused, yet apprehensive look on your face; a broken handcuff key in one paw; and an increasingly concerned -- and still handcuffed -- prisoner in the other.

Which means that someone -- probably not you -- is going to have to go find a set of bolt-cutters, chop your inmate loose; and further followed by someone else -- probably with more rank than brains -- in my department issuing a silly-arsed memo restricting our officers to the short, dinky, short, tiny and altogether too-bloody-short official Smith-and-Wesson issue key.

Ladies and gentlemen, if the official Smith-and-Wesson key was truly the bees knees, there wouldn't be a booming business in after-market improved handcuff keys.

So. When you do lubricate your handcuffs, kindly use dry graphite powder, or some other variety of dry -- non-Demon-Hairball-forming -- lubricant.

Thanks ever so.