Friday, April 30, 2010

Trivia for the Day

One of the common defensive tools used from 1100 AD to about 1600 AD was a small shield (anywhere from six inches in diametre for the smaller varieties, up to about 18 inches across for the biggest ones) held in the left hand and used to deflect, parry and bind your opponents weapon, or weapon arm.

It was probably more common than the larger versions popularized by Hollywood -- particularly amongst the folks more likely to engage in individual scuffles, rather than mass combat.

In fact, this little shield became quite the favourite among young rowdies out for a bit of pub-crawling, brawling, wenching, duelling and generally giving the local gardai an excuse to bust heads.

They would carry this shield -- called a buckler -- suspended by a leather cord from the frog of their side-swords, and as it dragged and rubbed on their clothing during movement it would make a swashing sound.

Voila! Swashbucklers.

This has been your LawDog Files Trivia for the Day.


The Peshawar Lancers

In 1916, Talbot Mundy wrote an adventure novel, called "King of the Khyber Rifles", about the exploits of Captain Athelstan King in British India during the start of the first World War.

This novel was an influence on one of my favourite writers, Robert E. Howard, and Mundy himself influenced such luminaries as Robert Heinlein, Fritz Leiber, Andre Norton, and others.

That book is the source of one of my idiosyncrasies: many times when visiting various places of interest -- museums, National Historic Registry sites, and such -- there is usually a guest book or visitors log which all and sundry are gently noodged into signing. I don't like to sign my actual name, and to avoid giving offence to the ever-so-earnest caretakers of such places, I will sign a pseudonym in lieu of my real name; Athelstan King being a particular favourite of mine -- see above.

Recently County business had me far from my usual haunts and with some time on my hands, so I did as I usually do and visited the local museum.

As usually happens, near the exit, a kindly little old lady guided me towards the Guestbook and eyebrowed me into picking up the pen.

Baby Officer was with me, and when that worthy bent to sign in turn, gave me the Old Hairy Eyeball and remarked, "I didn't know you were an S.M. Stirling fan."

Long story short, I have discovered the novel, "The Peshawar Lancers" by S.M. Stirling.

This is a wonderful book. It is an homage to Talbot Mundy -- the heroes of The Peshawar Lancers are Athelstan King and Yasmini -- yes, but also to H. Rider Haggard, Rudyard Kipling, Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard and countless others.

There is continuous buckling of swashes, derring-do, steam-punkery, alternate history, Thuggery (capital 'T', please), playing of the Great Game, zeppelins, air pirates (!), horse cavalry charges, and the most awesomely EEEE-vil Bad Guy to come along in a long time -- all set in a turned-widdershins version of Victorian-era India.

Absolutely delicious.

A warning, though: S.M. Stirling has done an absolutely massive amount of research and brain-sweating for this book -- and it's all in there. Every last tittle and jot.

He also uses a great deal of Anglo-Indian slang, but doesn't provide a glossary. Readers unfamiliar with that sort of thing my find themselves a bit lost.

The book also presents benevolent colonialism as A Good Thing -- something I (a product of colonial West Africa) don't have a problem with, but it might get some Gentle Readers a bit cross-threaded.

All-in-all a thoroughly good read.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Slow news day, me boyos?

The Associated Press has printed an article in which Texas Governor Rick Perry is revealed to have shot a coyote whilst on a morning jog in an "undeveloped area" near Austin three months ago.

Apparently, Governor Perry was being accompanied by his daughters' Labrador puppy, and when the yodel dog made a run at the puppy, Perry pulled a laser-sighted Ruger .380 and thumped Wiley right skippy.

This is news?

The left-leaning side of Blogworld is -- predictably enough -- losing their tiny little minds.

Folks, a coyote out during the daytime, making a solo run at a man and a dog who not only outweigh the coyote -- a Labrador retriever old enough to go for a jog is either about the same size as a coyote or a damned sight bigger than one -- but also out-number him ... well, that ain't normal.

And by "ain't normal" I mean that the coyote is either flat-barking bugnuts, or rabid.

Either way, that sort of behavior will get Mr. Brush-Tail punted right up to the top of the old smoke list around here. A fact, by-the-by, which is well-known by most of the coyote population in our fair State -- which is why normal, sane, non-rabid yodel dogs don't make thunder runs at people and their fuzzy running partners.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Another view

My friend Peter over at Bayou Renaissance Man has been a great many things in his life, one of which is a priest in the Catholic Church.

This gives him an insiders view of the Church of Rome, which he uses to examine the sexual abuse scandals which have rocked the Catholic Church in four articles.

Very good reading, from a unique perspective; and recommended for my Gentle Readers.

Part One,

Part Two,

Part Three; and

Part Four.

Well done, Peter, and thank you.


Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter!

I'd like to wish my Gentle Readers a Happy Easter, Joyous Eostre's Festival, Children's Day and any other festivities which may fall upon this date.


Saturday, April 03, 2010

There ought to be a test...

By way of Gentle Reader Wolfwalker, we get this interesting little video:

Congresscritter Phil Hare of Illinois not only doesn't care about the Constitution -- which he took an oath to support and defend -- but at 1:00 minute into that video, Congresscritter Hare states that he believes that the Constitution -- and I quote:

"I believe that it says we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"


Ah, no, you insufferable schmuck, that particular quote would be from the Declaration of Independence.

Sweet shivering Shiva -- this sodding numpty can't even get his documents straight.

Why do we keep electing oath-breakers, treachers and various other perfidious sycophants to our highest offices?

And, by the Ten Thousand Names of God, why have his constituents not dealt with this faithless scab by now?

You swore an oath, you two-bit Judas -- You. Swore. An. Oath.

There's a special hell reserved for oath-breakers. Sooner or later, you're going to find that out -- personally. I hope it's worth it.


Backlash? I got your backlash.

Apparently, Dr Jack Cassell has a case of the hips towards ObamaCare.

The man has a First Amendment right to speak his mind.

I figure that it's damned decent of the old boy to post a warning -- one tends to wonder how many of the folks what get paid to dink about in your vital bits are taking the Government's heavy-handed jump into healthcare personally.

Patient: "Yeah, I'm proud I supported ObamaCare."

Dr Kildare (firing up the Probulator 3000): "That's nice. You may feel a pinch."

Patient: "Is that a four-stroke engine ... WOW! *pant, pant* Christ, that felt like it bumped a tonsil!"

Dr Kildare: "Mumblemumble welcometomyworld mumblemumble."

Patient: "What?"

Dr Kildare: "Nothing. Deep breath."



As further proof that my sense of humour is more than a bit ... skewed, may I present 30 Second Bunny Theatre.

The premise is simple -- take popular movies and redo them. In thirty seconds. With bunnies.

Do not watch while consuming hot liquids, cold liquids or anything which may become a liquid. The LawDog Files assumes no responsibility for damaged sinuses, flooded keyboards or lost time.


Friday, April 02, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen ...

... I give you Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA):

Congresscritter Johnson later explained that his reference to an excess of U.S. military personnel causing Guam to "tip over" was "a facetious metaphor".


Folks ... the face of Government Healthcare.