Friday, May 30, 2014

Which Korean War is this?

Chillicothe contracts with Ohio company for Korean War memorial. Ohio company hires Savannah, Ga., company for design and production. Savannah company hires company in Egypt to produce stone … Or maybe in India.

What was not hired? Anybody who knew what the hell he was doing.

Found at

This is the most we’ve had since we eradicated it


“(CNN) -- The number of measles cases in the United States this year has risen to 288, the highest number for one year since the disease was eliminated from the country in 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.”

Uh … The USA eliminated measles in 2000. This year we have the most cases since we eliminated it. Begs question: How many cases in 2001, 2002, etc.?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A good pitching line

Cam Bedrosian, minor league pitcher this year in the California League: 5 games; 5 2/3 innings pitched; 1 hit; 2 walks; 15 strikeouts. That works out to 17 outs; 18 batters faced, and he struck out 15.

As of today, Bedrosian has pitched 17 innings in 16 games for Arkansas; given up 5 hits; 4 runs; 3 earned runs; walked 6 and struck out 28.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sharpen your pitchforks and fire up your torches!

Power to the People!

“There is a kind of peasants’ revolt going on, a jacquerie. From Dublin to Lublin, from Portugal to Pomerania, the pitchfork-wielding populists are converging on the Breydel building in Brussels – drunk on local hooch and chanting nationalist slogans and preparing to give the federalist machinery a good old kicking with their authentically folkloric clogs. There are Greek anti-capitalists and Hungarian neo-fascists and polite German professors who want to bring back the Deutschemark. They are making common cause with Left-wing Italian comedians and Right-wing Dutch firebrands and the general slogan is simple: down with technocracy, down with bureaucracy, and give power back to the people!”

At maggiesfarm.

New army uniforms

The Army has selected a new camouflage pattern, according to sources who “refused to comment on this story, expressing reluctance to get ahead of the service’s announcement on an issue that remains under intense Congressional scrutiny.”

“Congress, in the 2014 Defense Authorization Act, directed the Defense Department to rein in uniform spending and adopt a camouflage utility uniform or family of uniforms across all services. It has forced the Army to take a closer look at existing camouflage patterns — particularly those of its sister services, mainly the woodland and desert versions of the Navy and Marine Corps combat uniforms.”

No, no, no. Army Times has it all wrong. MSG Henry Knox told an acquaintance, “Each soldier, sailor, marine and airman/person will be provided 2 linen hunting shirts, 2 pairs of overalls, leather or woolen waist coat with sleeves, 1 pair of breeches, a hat or leather cap, 2 shirts, 2 pair of hose, 2 pair of shoes.” Also, “The heavy regimental coat reflecting its common color will be worn in battle no matter the heat.”

“With this combination,” Knox said, “every service member-person will look just like every other service member-person, and Congress will be greatly pleased at having saved a gazillion dollars while reducing the pride each service formerly attained with specific uniforms.”

Story at

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A National Guard story

After the initial incident I said to SFC Porter, another platoon sergeant, “Nothing like that ever happens when you or I are around.” A while later I thought, “Of course nothing like that happens when you or Porter are around. Your guys would never do a thing like that; they were raised better.”

The company was at Fort Hood, three days before the end of Annual Training, individual platoons going through a four-kilometer long obstacle course. The course was not four kilometers of one obstacle, but a series of obstacles – go over, under or through this one and then move dismounted to the next obstacle.

The final obstacle was low crawl under barbed wire while an M60 machine gun fired overhead. The course was not dangerous or long, 30 or 40 meters wide. The M60 was on an elevated concrete platform and the gun locked in place, no elevation or depression or traverse possible. The gun fired about 10 feet over the obstacle, which meant somebody could stand up and jump up and down and not be hit. Maybe if somebody tall enough stood right in front of the gun and stuck his hand straight up and jumped up – maybe his hand would be hit.

For some reason, Porter’s lieutenant was with a group from another platoon. When the group was about halfway across the low crawl, SP Fumbducks stood up and said, “---- this ----“ and started walking to the far side. The M60 stopped firing. Porter’s LT yelled at SP Fumbducks. “Get down! Get down!” SP Fumbducks said, “---- you.”
The LT then ordered Fumbducks to complete the course. Fumbducks said, “---- you. I’ve got a knife and I know where you sleep.”

When returning to the company assembly area, the LT reported the incident to the company commander. The CO spoke with Fumbduck’s platoon sergeant and squad leader, both of whom were on the course and both of whom said the LT’s story was exactly what happened.

The CO went to the battalion commander, who agreed to court martial SP Fumbducks on a charge of threatening a commissioned officer. But not right then. A little more than two days remaining in AT, equipment and vehicle cleanup and turn-in, road march back to home station, etc. and so on.

The next month’s drill was at armories, thoroughly clean and inventory and store equipment. Logistical difficulties getting everybody concerned to battalion HQ, etc.

Next drill was at Camp Maxey. All the battalion together, no problem convening a court martial.

After daytime Saturday training, with platoons back at the company assembly area, Porter and I saw the CO standing beside his quarter-ton. He was not happy. We went over and asked about the court martial. The CO became almost white-hot mad.

“Not guilty,” he said.


In the two months since Annual Training, SP Fumbducks’ platoon sergeant and squad leader had decided their soldier had not threatened the lieutenant. The lieutenant was wrong. SP Fumbducks had not said “---- you,” nor, “I’ve got a knife and I know where you sleep.”

The board decided not to believe the lieutenant.

Porter and I both were speechless.

The CO then said the battalion commander was considering recommending SP Fumbducks for OCS.

“Then,” he said, “the battalion commander asked about the rampant racial prejudice in this company.”

“WHAT?!!!” Porter and I said.

The CO nodded. “I asked him where he had heard that, and he said from SP Fumbducks.”

That platoon was a detachment of the Company, with its own armory more than 60 miles from the Company armory. The small Northeast Texas town was close-knit, with not too many branches in family trees.

SP Fumbducks ETS’d a few months later. His squad leader got 20 good NG years about the same time and retired. The platoon sergeant later transferred to a tank company in Dallas. Porter’s LT went active duty. The battalion commander later became brigade commander and then somewhere in division command. Our CO commanded two more companies, but was relieved after a couple of months at the third company. He said the battalion did not show good judgment. “It took them three company commands by me before they decided I was incompetent.” A month after his relief, a tank battalion commander called and said, “I need a good S1 and I hear you might be available.”

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Let's hear it for AT&T!

In a grocery store a couple of weeks ago my wife decided to use her Very Intelligent Phone to access a recipe on the internet. The VIP refused to connect to the internet.

My wife called the AT&T tech support number. A woman answered. My wife explained the problem – she was in a grocery store and her VIP refused to connect to the internet.

The AT&T support person said, “Why do you need to access the internet?”

Although at first surprised by the question, my wife replied, “Because internet access is part of my plan. Because I am paying for it.”

The AT&T person said, “No, I mean why do you need internet access right now?”

There are all kinds of responses to that question, the most logical: “Because I want it now.”

My wife is a calm and kind woman, though, so she explained she needed to look up a recipe.

“Oh,” said the AT&T phone answerer. “Wait just a couple of minutes and log on to your email and click the link that says you are connected.”

It worked, but AT&T might want to check some of those “Your call may be monitored …” things.

The reason

Elliott Rodger said girls didn’t like him and he didn’t know why.

“That’s easy,” my wife said. “They could see he was crazy, and they didn’t want any part of that kind of crazy.”

Hey, Elliott, wherever you are. Here’s a thing you never learned: If nobody liked you, the reason was not with her. The reason was in the mirror.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

“It’s a great day for Transylvania.”

“The 14th century Transylvania castle that inspired the book ‘Dracula’ is for sale. Personally, if I wanted a house that belonged to a creepy undead guy, I’d buy the Playboy mansion.” – Craig Ferguson.

Trans-Carpathian Hungarians

AKA Hungarian-speaking Ukrainians deserve dual citizenship, Hungarian prime minister says.

"The position of 200,000 ethnic Hungarians living in Ukraine, attaches to this issue particular acuteness. Hungarian community there has to get dual citizenship, all rights of the national community, and it must be able to self-government. This is our clear expectations from the new Ukraine."

‘Hungary joins the chorus on Ukraine: when it rains, it pours’

“Hungarians living in western Ukraine, who he said number about 200,000, ‘must be granted dual citizenship, must enjoy all of the community rights and must be granted the opportunity for autonomy.’"

Jackals and hyenas. Hungary demanded and got a piece of Slovakia in April 1939 after Germany latched onto the Sudetenland seven months earlier. Poland annexed Zaolzie in 1938, after the Munich agreement. Slovakia invaded Poland on 1 September 1939. (Wikipedia has a picture of “Cheerful German and Slovak soldiers posing with Ukrainian civilians in Komancza, Poland, in 1939.” That pretty much covers the history – Germans and Slovaks with Ukrainians in Poland.)

Did you hear

Did you hear about the new Obama Diet? You let Putin eat your lunch every day. – Moonbattery.

Friday, May 23, 2014

(Ethnic group) offended

Trying to determine which aspersions cast upon my ancestors would offend me.

Actually, none. I don’t get offended. I get pissed off, but never (except in sarcasm and irony) will these words leave my mouth: “You hurt my feelings.” Or, “You have insulted my ancestors.”

But, to the ethnicity. English, Irish, Scots, Scandinavian (unknown specific, but I’ll take Danish, because most Vikings were Danish and everybody loves a Viking). Some relatives would like to (or do) claim American Indian, but there is no proof. Some relatives do not (No, no, no) claim African anywhere along the family tree, and there is no proof, so that is in the “probably not” column.

Tangent on unsubstantiated American Indian blood: Only from one of the favored tribes, don’t you know. Cherokee leads the list. Seminole possibly on list because they are, after all, “The only Indian tribe that never surrendered to the U.S. government and, technically, are still at war.” So I heard several times while growing up. But nobody can be technically at war if a declaration was never issued.

Not favored tribes: Apache (too small) or Choctaw (too dark). Plains Indians are out because none of my relatives lived on the plains.

Anybody can say any stupid thing about the English, Irish, Scots and Scandinavian he or she desires, and such stupids will not offend me.

To research this column, I searched “ethnic group offended.” One of the more humorous hits was:

Office of Diversity, Educational Equity and Inclusion for California State University San Marcos. I read a new phrase – “cultural appropriation”
-- and a new title, “obmbuds.”

At first I thought the site was a joke, a well-thought-out satire. But, no. The AVP-DEE is quite serious in what he does. So serious is he, that his smiling face leads the home page.

Oh, the DEE faculty/staff associations include: African-American Faculty/Staff Association; Asian Pacific Islander Faculty Staff Association; Latino Association of Faculty & Staff: and, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning and Ally Faculty Staff Association.

Clicking on links: All AAFSA members are black! All APIFSA members are Asian looking! There is no picture of LAFS members, nor for LGBTQA members, but the link does say the LGBTQA “promotes the various LGBTQA cultures.”

‘Expel them’

Standing Rock Sioux chairman’s demand concerning ND students who wore T-shirts that “offended Sioux tribe.”

Setting: Spring party at a park near UND campus, Grand Forks.

Crime: T-shirts contained words “Siouxper Drunk” and “depicted the Fighting Sioux which was once the official mascot of UND sports teams. The mascot has been officially banned since 2012, when state voters opted to prohibit UND from using it out of concern for the feelings of Native Americans.”

But, darn it, there might be a problem standing in the way of the offended chairman’s demand.

“The names of the students have not been released, and it is unclear whether the university believes it could or should expel them. As a public university, UND is bound to protect its students free expression rights under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution–even when such expression is offensive.”

The story does not say how many students wore the offending shirts.

Those who don’t know history …

… will make the family look dumb in an obituary.

“(The deceased) was born March 10, 1941 …”

“(The deceased) was a veteran of the US Army and fought in the Korean War.”

Well, I guess the family won’t look any dumber than the funeral home person who filed the obituary form and certainly no dumber than the newspaper (Texarkana Gazette) that ran the obituary. And most of the reading public won’t know the Army accepted a 9 or 10 or 11-year-old recruit.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Civilians in uniform

‘Air Force Offers Airmen 3 Years of Family Leave’

“The U.S. Air Force plans to start allowing some airmen this year to take three years of family leave as part of a pilot program designed to boost retention, according to the service's head of personnel.”

"’Some women ... leave the Air Force because they want to start a family,’ Cox said. ‘So why don't we have a program that allows them, in some cases, to be able to separate from the Air Force for a short period of time, get the family started, then come back in?’"

An Air Force wife said: "Let's just get a real policy together that isn't specific to the military. Overhaul paternity and maternity leave policies at the national policy level and then get on with life as usual."

A federal maternity policy. What could possibly go wrong?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Some instructive maps

Especially interesting is expansion of USA. And national exports.

At Maggie’s Farm.

Obama's answer

The president:

“Keep in mind, though, even if we had not heard reports out of this Phoenix facility or other facilities, we all know that it often takes too long for veterans to get the care that they need. That’s not a new development. It’s been a problem for decades and it’s been compounded by more than a decade of war.

“That’s why, when I came into office, I said we would systematically work to fix these problems, and we have been working really hard to address them. My attitude is, for folks who have been fighting on the battlefield, they should not have to fight a bureaucracy at home to get the care that they’ve earned.”

(Or: Hey, this is nothing new. Veterans have died under other administrations while waiting for health care. Just remember, all these problems now are because of a war I didn’t start or support. And even though I didn’t start this war, I have been working really, really, really hard to fix the problems. I’m sure you have seen Michelle’s videos about helping our heroes’ families and you’ve read the reviews on how good she looks in designer dresses. So, I’m sending somebody to look at the problem, and we will have an answer soon. Remember, though, it’s complicated. But rest assured, when we find out what happened, there will be consequences.)

Link to vast right-wing conspiracy, rabid, anti-Progressive Red State:

“So to recap. The problem has been known about for decades but Obama only heard about in recently from press reports and is just now starting to fix it. The guy in charge of fixing it is the guy who has been in charge of fixing it for the past five years. The new guy in charge of the health system was an official in a hospital that is under investigation for scamming the VA’s appointment reporting system. One of his key subordinates has just been suspended in an investigation in Phoenix.”

Obviously, it wasn't the General Lee

A friend of my wife’s Facebooked his on-line purchase of a 1970-something Dodge Charger. The Charger was advertised as great shape, tip-top condition. The buyer and his brother-in-law flew to New York, rented a car and drove to car location in New Jersey to get the Charger and drive it to Arkansas. They looked over the Charger. Looks good. Check fluid levels and everything, climb in and turn on key. Nothing. Hey, not to worry. Just a dead battery. Put in a new one, cranks fine, goodbye New Jersey, Arkansas a couple of days southwest.

After returning rental, the two stop for lunch. Get back in car, turn on key. Nothing. Another new battery and an alternator. Back on road.

Facebook from Chattanooga, Tennessee, car broke down. Not to worry. Local store of national franchise has parts, says person at store. Well, not on hand, buyer informed when taking taxi to store. Next day. Definitely next day.

Post two days ago, out of Chattanooga, Little Rock a few hours off.

Last post, two men and Charger arrived in Little Rock. Buyer says he will never go to New York again.

My wife said: The first time he was in New York was for us (Girl Scouts information systems training at White Plains). After the week-long school, he spent a couple of tourist days. He went clubbing. He said somebody must have slipped him something, because he lost 12 hours and had a terrible headache next day.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Bunch of sissies

“SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Should students about to read “The Great Gatsby” be forewarned about ‘a variety of scenes that reference gory, abusive and misogynistic violence,’ as one Rutgers student proposed? Would any book that addresses racism — like “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” or “Things Fall Apart” — have to be preceded by a note of caution? Do sexual images from Greek mythology need to come with a viewer-beware label?

“Colleges across the country this spring have been wrestling with student requests for what are known as ‘trigger warnings,’ explicit alerts that the material they are about to read or see in a classroom might upset them or, as some students assert, cause symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in victims of rape or in war veterans.

“The warnings, which have their ideological roots in feminist thought, have gained the most traction at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where the student government formally called for them.”

I am shocked, shocked I tell you, that anything other than soft kitty readings has “ideological roots in feminist thought.” Well, soft kitty and men are pigs.

At fark.

That’s right, Sister! Take the bully by the throat!

Problem is, she went to school, found the (alleged) bully and sort of grabbed him near his adam’s apple. School and cop people were not pleased.

Bet the bully leaves the woman’s daughter alone.


Nigerian hunters ready to find kidnapped girls

“AIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Traditional hunters armed with homemade guns, poisoned spears and amulets have gathered in their hundreds, eager to use their skills and what they believe to be supernatural powers to help find nearly 300 schoolgirls abducted by Islamic extremists.

“Some 500 hunters, some as young as 18 and some in their 80s, say they have been specially selected by their peers for their spiritual hunting skills and have been waiting for two weeks in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital and the birthplace of Boko Haram, to get backing from the military and get moving.”


"’We're not saying we are better than the soldiers, but we know the bush better than the soldiers,’ said Sarkin Baka.”

Preach it, Brother! Preach it!

“Porterville, California mayor, Cameron Hamilton’s comments during a recent city council meeting caused major outrage. As reported by KFSN ABC 30, while the Porterville City Council was discussing a proposed anti-bullying ‘Safe Zone,’ Hamilton voiced his controversial opinion. ‘I'm against bullying, but I'm getting damn tired of it being used as a mantra for everything, and the ills of the world. When all most people just have to grow a pair, and stick up for them damn selves,’ said the Mayor Hamilton. Councilwoman Virginia Gurrola, who supported the effort quickly responded, ‘It is hard to stand up and grow a pair when you're maybe a 10- year-old little girl.’ Sticking to his position, Hamilton said, ‘Then maybe the other 10-year-olds that think that they want to stop bullying will stand up for her, instead of a safe zone with a placard and a bunch of training that goes on.’"

“Safe Zone?” Nya-nya! You can’t bully me, ‘cause I’m in the Safe Zone. And if you do bully me, the city will send you to training.

(When I was a kid … Yeah, yeah. We’ve heard the stories. You were bullied, but you turned out OK. … Relatively. But if I had a time machine, I would go back and pack a hammer handle in my jeans and beat the shit out of a couple of high school guys.)

M551 Sheridan

A You Tube video here:

No officially a “light tank,” but whatever.


An 11th Armored Cavalry Sheridan crew member in Vietnam said his vehicle had a problem with the joy stick firing mechanism; i.e., it didn’t work. Rather than take the vehicle out of the bush and back to maintenance, the crew fixed the problem in a typical American GI way. They removed the bulb from an interior light and ran a piece of commo wire from the light box to the electrical mechanism at the gun breech. To fire the main gun, a crewmember turned on the light switch.

I had a Sheridan for about 10 months in 1968, with F Troop, 6th Armored Cavalry at Fort Meade, Md. That sucker would run like a scalded cat.

Information from an obituary

The obituary was of a 90-year-old woman I never met, but I once worked in the town where she lived her last years. Combined with her Hispanic name, her age was unusual for a town of 1,400 in that part of Northeast Texas.

She was born in Corral Viejo. Search shows the location 99 miles southwest of Mexico City. The location is 1,500 meters (4,921 feet) above sea level, or 360 feet lower than Denver, Colo. The population of Corral Viejo is 29 – 11 minors and 18 adults. Seven are older than 60. Corral Viejo has eight households. Three do not have a floor. Four have sanitary installations. There is no public water supply. Seven of the eight have access to electricity. Two have at least one television. None has a washing machine; none has a computer. Twelve of the adults did not finish school. Through “the whole population … the medium time school is visited is 3 years.”

The woman was buried in St. Joseph Cemetery in the town where she died – 1,027 miles and more than a century from Corral Viejo.

(Statistics on Corral Viejo from

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Global change climate warming cooling

“Miami will likely be underwater before the Senate can muster enough votes to meaningfully confront climate change.”

(First, a grammar correction. As with many writers, Ronald Brownstein does not know the difference between two-word phrases and one-word adjectives. “Underwater” is an adjective. “Under water” is a location. “Underwater ruins” vs. “The ruins were under water.” People make the same mistake with “back yard” and “backyard.” “The barbecue is in the back yard.” “We are having a backyard barbecue.”)

The real focus of the story should be President Obama’s willingness, even predilection, to use the presidential pen while ignoring Congress.

At maggiesfarm.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Novocherkassk massacre kept secret more than 20 years

“In the 1950's industrial wages in the USSR were arbitrarily lowered almost every year. These decreases allowed officials to publish statistics indicating increases in labor efficiency, automation and mechanization, decreases in the cost of production without corresponding new capital investment, and improvements in organization and in technology. In capitalist countries, if a corporation tried to improve its financial showings by lowering wages, the workers would respond with protests and strikes. In the USSR, however, the working class was unable for decades to struggle in defence of its own interests. The democratization of the late 1950's was really a way for the authorities to fool the working masses into hoping for a genuine dialogue with state and party officials. The Novocherkassk tragedy exposed the fraud and hypocrisy of the criminal totalitarian regime.” – Piotr Suda, participant in worker demonstration in Novocherkassk

The Soviet government lowered wages 30-35 percent and then increased meat and diary prices 35 percent. Workers said, “No more of this.” Twenty-six workers were shot dead and many more sentenced to Gulag prisons.

A reader gets the idea Soviet bosses were scared spitless of strikes and worker demonstrations.

'Animal rights' groups pay circus owner $15.75 million for hiring fraudulent witness

“A 14-year battle over the care of circus elephants belonging to Feld Entertainment ended Thursday with the Humane Society of the United States and others paying a $15.75 million settlement.

“The lawsuit stems from a suit the Humane Society filed against Feld, parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, over the care of its 43 Asian elephants.

“The settlement already follows $9.3 million that the American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals paid in 2012 for its connection to false claims against Feld in U.S. District Court in Washington.”

(They lied? Animal defenders lied? I am shocked. Shocked, I tell you.)


CNN headline: “Animal rights group pays settlement in circus elephant case.”

"’After more than a decade of litigating with Feld Entertainment, the ASPCA concluded that it is in the best interests of the organization to resolve this expensive, protracted litigation,’ said ASPCA President and CEO Ed Sayres in the statement.”

(A lot of lawyer talk there.)

Bill Thurman, actor

“Bill Thurman was an actor. He was born on 04/11/1920. He was born in Texas in the country USA. He died on 13/04/1995. Bill Thurman had the American nationality. He used the name Bill Thurman as an artist name, but was born under the name of Billie Thurman.” (Foreigners shouldn’t write about American actors.)

Thurman was the bartender in Silverado, an air traffic controller in Close Encounters of the Third Kind and also had parts in Charge of the Model Ts, Sugarland Express and Places in the Heart.

In 1992, in Sulphur Springs, Texas, to give professional guidance to the community theater actors, Thurman sat in a small travel trailer behind the Hopkins County Civic Center, drinking coffee, smoking Marlboros and answering questions from a reporter who had never heard his name. I had seen all those movies, but remembered only Thurman’s bartender role, which he performed with professional, character-actor finesse. “What are you doing in here, Buck?” he said to Mal, Danny Glover’s character. And maybe, “We don’t serve your kind.” That scene was important, because it introduced Mal to Paden (Kevin Cline) and Emmett (Scott Glen), and right after a fight, Sheriff Langston (John Cleese), and then brought in Jake (Kevin Costner).

Yes, Thurman “was born in Texas in the country USA.” Specifically, on a farm in Hopkins County.

The farm had much to do with Thurman’s vocational decision. When World War II came along, the farmboy enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. Somewhere in the Pacific, he took a bullet or piece of artillery steel or something that caused his evacuation to a Navy hospital in California.

While recuperating, Thurman met another Marine, 1st Lt. Tyrone Power. The then-R5D pilot commented, “If you ever get to Hollywood, look me up. I think I can find something in the movies for you.”

Forty-seven years later Thurman said he didn’t have to think too hard about Power’s offer.

“I decided I didn’t want to go back to Hopkins County and spend the rest of my life looking a mule in the rear end,” he said.

So began almost 50 years of what could be called small parts in some big movies. An actor would probably say there is not such thing as a small part in a movie or a play. And, he would be right. Every part is a link in the chain.

Interestingly, Charge of the Model Ts was written by Henry Lee Somerville of Red River County, Texas, Not too often do a couple of Northeast Texas farmboys wind up as principals in the same movie.

Yes, Bill Thurman had the American nationality.

He died in Dallas in 1995.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Stolen trucks

I had been to Battalion HQ building at Camp Maxey (called there for a training reason) and when returning to the Company assembly area in the woods saw two M35A2 trucks parked just inside the perimeter. I saw, too, bumper numbers on the trucks, both numbers preceded with an “A.” My Company was “B.”

I thought: “Oh, lordy, my guys have stolen some A Company trucks.”

The Company had four platoons – 1st, 2nd, 3rd and Weapons – but I knew nobody in 1st, 2nd or Weapons had the … tacos to enter another Company’s assembly area and drive away with somebody else’s trucks. Only my boys would do something like that.

When walking to 3rd Platoon’s perimeter area, I saw my assistant platoon sergeant – SSG Hipp – and two senior squad leaders – SSG Rogers and SSG Porter – all grinning like possums. Guilty, guilty and guilty.

I said, “Where did the A Company trucks come from?”

“We stole ‘em,” Hipp said.

“You’ll have to take them back.”

“Yeah,” Rogers said. “That’s what the CO said.”

It was expected, so I said, “How’d you do it?”

Well, the three explained, each taking a part … We took one of our trucks close to their assembly area and walked in. A Company security sucks. They had their trucks parked there. Hipp got in one, Porter got in another and started up and drove away.

I said, “Nobody tried to stop you?”

Porter said, “Somebody yelled ‘Hey!’ but we didn’t pay any attention.”

“You’ll have to take them back,” I again said. “And we’ll need to increase our security.”

Hipp said, “They ain’t gonna do nothing.”

“How do you figure?” I said.

Hipp shrugged. “They’re A Company.”

As it turned out, my guys did not have to take the trucks back. Company A brought over two drivers to drive the trucks to their proper assembly area. Somebody in charge decided the thieves should not do nose rubbing at the scene of their crime.

The CO of Company A grumbled and rumbled about court martial for stealing government property, but he settled down. Or, somebody settled him down.

Hipp was right, too. We increased security, but nothing happened.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Chihuahua-eating bear and Girl Scouts cookies

It’s kind of sad, but she should have known better than to let her Chihuahua-pug out in bear country

“Paula Myers never imagined that her first bear encounter would occur just a few feet from her Sitka home, and that her dog, 2-year-old Chihuahua-pug mix Paco, would be killed and consumed by a brown bear right in front of her eyes.”

Again, some town wants to regulate Girl Scouts cookie sales

Snellville, Georgia.


Yahoo headline

“Fonda, Jolie in same dress.”

The headline obviously begs the question: “How did they fit?”

Baseball bat? OK. Fencing sword … Sword??? OMG!

NDSU fencing team barred from practicing on campus.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Texas water

More than a dozen years back, the Texas Legislature created 16 water regions, “based on a ‘bottom-up,’ consensus-driven approach” for water planning.

What you need to know about water in Texas is this: Some places have a lot of it; other places, not so much; and still other places almost none at all.

Places with lots of water have used what was needed and, for the most part, allowed the rest to empty into the Gulf of Mexico, where a proper mix of fresh and salt produced shrimp, red snapper and numerous other sea foods to grace tables not only in Texas, but all over these United States.

People with almost no water at all learned what to plant and how to prepare dry land, but mostly how to successfully run cattle on what is available.

The people in the not-so-much-water category seem to live mostly in the Dallas area -- Region C under the state designation -- and they want the water in Northeast Texas – Region D.

Region C wants to flood around 70,000 acres of Northeast Texas, mostly in Red River County (a third of the county), but also small parts of Morris and Titus counties. Most of the landowners in those counties don’t agree that their property should become the bottom of a lake just so Dallas can continue to have lush green lawns and golf courses.

In addition to the flooded acreage, an almost equal amount of private land will be set aside from any future development, to make up for the millions of trees killed and hundreds of thousands of animals displaced by Marvin Nichols.

The Clarksville Times reports that a week ago in Mt. Pleasant, Texas, the water board and Region D board heard what 350 citizens think about the lake. Some people who spoke have history on the potential lake bottom going back to the 1840s. That’s how long their families have lived on and farmed the land. Other families go back only 120 years; still others 50 years.

Those families overwhelmingly oppose flooding 70,000 acres of Northeast Texas. So do environmental organizations and timber companies.

Favoring the lake are some elected mayors, county judges and county commissioners, in addition to high-dollar consultants and water officials in the Dallas area.

In addition to the 350 people at the Mt. Pleasant meeting, more than 7,000 people wrote letters to the Texas Water Development Board. A good guess – Almost all oppose the lake.

The Dallas-area group says it will raise the $3 billion or $4 billion to build Marvin Nichols. In 2000, the estimated cost was $1 billion.

But money will not cause Texans to throw up their hands and quit. That ain’t the way things work south of the Red River. What the Legislature might do is authorize one region of Texas (Dallas) to claim eminent domain over another region (Northeast Texas).

Texans are not too good at using pitchforks and torches when storming a castle, but they darned sure are good at using other extra-legal means if necessary to gain and keep freedom. Just ask Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Today's top Yahoo news headlines

‘Beyonce and Solange photo mystery’

‘First image of Ben Affleck in New Batsuit revealed’

‘Drew Brees’ flying pushup is too tough for most’

‘Kylie Jenner Posts Racy Photo, Tattoos Initials on Lionel Ritchie’s Son Miles’

A new low in Obama administration stupid

“The first lady and President Barack Obama are ‘deeply concerned… about the fate of these girls and broadly concerned about what these girls represent in terms of the power and importance of making sure that girls around the world are educated,’ White House spokesman Jay Carney said May 12.

“The roughly 276 girls ‘are suffering specifically and individually, but they are also suffering on behalf of a broader proposition, which is that whether you’re a girl or a boy, you should have all the rights to education that can be attained in the country in which you live,’ he said.

“’And I think that’s a principle that obviously the president and first lady support, and it’s a principle that most Americans, I think — I would daresay all Americans support,’ he said.”

(If anybody wonders why the president of Nigeria did not immediately call the White House and ask for administration expertise … Carney answers that question.)


Check the boxes, kill the patient

In a press release, VA Secretary Shinseki says “take allegations very seriously” “gravity of the allegations” “thorough and timely review” “allegations, if true, are absolutely unacceptable” “swift and appropriate action” and etc.

Shinseki did place three Phoenix VA people on administrative leave.

Sooo, General, how far up the chain does responsibility go? Who should know about the fu’s at Phoenix, Fort Collins, and at VA Memphis, where several veterans died because doctors did not cross-check prescription records?

My wife said, “One of the problems is, doctors run the hospitals.” I don’t know if that is accurate, but VA is a bureaucratic organization where boxes checked and numbers counted often become death and death decisions.

If I were a president with a pen, VA would hire only veterans. Period. The suddenly unemployed could go work somewhere in Obamacare, answering phones.

Just thought: Jack McCoy tried people for “depraved indifference.” The stories of veterans dying while waiting for appointments or from ineptness qualify for that charge.

Monday, May 12, 2014

John Pinette

When my wife heard John Pinette had died, she said, “He probably told God he was ready to do some ups. He didn’t want to do a down.”

Yep, you get to the Pearly Gates, down is not where you want to go.

And in heaven:

Chinese restaurants are always open. The owner stands on the sidewalk and holds the door open and says, smiling, “You come in now! You stay long time!”

While you are dining, the owner comes to your table and says, “You not eat enough! You eat moah!”

Even when you are full, the owner says, “You not go now! Moah food coming from kitchen!”

From the world’s largest economy

“Simple love business is business

“Spirit exotisism huge crowd of people

“A contented mind is perpetual feast grow

“You did a good job”

From a garment made in China, at

(Maybe it makes sense written in Chinese.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Texas courts uphold pole tax

$5 per patron. Court says: Tax was instituted “to address the adverse secondary effects of combining nude entertainment with alcohol consumption, both by discouraging the activity through higher taxation and by generating revenue for programs designed to address the social harms that result.”

Supposition: Patrons drinkin a whole lot while lookin at nekkid wimmin are likely to leave with an incorrect vision of wimmin folk and do bad things.

Here is a better idea: Ban the clubs. If a government has the power and authority to tax a thing, it has the power and authority to get rid of it altogether.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Sure you can have a WW2 re-enactment for charity. What? Nazi uniforms involved? Oh, hell no!

“A WWII reenactment planned to take place in Yorkshire has been cancelled, due to the highly sensitive nature of the subject. Set to raise funding for the Help for Heroes project, it had been planned to include legitimate vehicles, weaponry, and uniforms, including those used by the Nazis during the war. Barnsley Council stepped in to cancel the event when many apparently complained that some of those involved in the WWII reenactment would have been dressed like Nazis.”

A council spokesman said the war can be rescheduled as long as no Nazis are involved.


More than half a perfect game

Today was John’s bowling Saturday, so Priscilla and I went to Texarkana and got John from his group home and went to Holiday Bowl on the Arkansas side of State Line Avenue.

About 20-25 mentally challenged men and women bowl every other Saturday. Today, Priscilla and I decided to bowl, too.

Before today I had bowled one time in 1964, one time in 1968 and about a month ago at Holiday Bowl. My high score in those three times was 60-something, maybe 70-something.

Priscilla and I bowled three games the time before at Holiday Bowl and paid for three games this morning. Today, as a month ago, my intent when beginning a game was 300 points.

I did not bowl a 300 game. In the last frame of the first game, my score was 99. I said to Priscilla, “Unless I completely lose concentration, I will, for the first time ever, break 100 points.”

I got on line and bowled. Gutter ball. OK. Still got a chance. Next bowl – eight pins down, score 107.

Next game, first four frames, 9,8,9,8. Not a spare. In fact, the first frame was 0 on first bowl and 9 on the second.

But then – strike, strike, spare, strike, strike, spare. Score – 158.

Hooray, hooray! Priscilla said, “You should be in a league.”

Third game – 89. Not exactly a league score.

Will I go again next bowling Saturday? You bet. And I will have the same goal – a 300 game.

Friday, May 9, 2014

While the Pentagon wants to slow pay increases and benefits:

“Over the next decade, the Navy will take delivery of at least 32 Littoral Combat Ships (LCS); 10 Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV); three Mobile Landing Platforms (MLP); several Afloat Forward Staging Bases; and new versions of amphibious assault ships and Ship-to-Shore connector craft.”

(The article is all about “What catchy name should the Navy give the new ships so the money-lenders (Congress) will right away know what an admiral is talking about when he/she pulls ROMA dollar numbers on maintenance and – maybe – manning.”)

In late April, “The Navy announced a record $17.645 billion contract Monday to build 10 new SSN 774 Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarines. The order assures prime contractor General Dynamics Electric Boat and chief subcontractor Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding of submarine orders through 2018.”

(“We got nukes, we got knives, sharp sticks …” Hudson in Aliens.)

The Army won’t publicly go to the mat, but it is left out of Sea-Air-Space planning, emphasis Pacific and China. Someone pointed out that the Army conducted more amphibious landings in the WWII Pacific than did the Marine Corps, but that statistic is somewhat meaningless given that we don’t need small islands from which to base strategic bombers.

The Joint Chiefs say “we” can’t pay for the new fleet unless “we” slow down pay increases for PFCs and Specialists. Go figure.

Today is my wife's birthday

I gave a 2 1/2 inch double-headed battle axe pendant on a heavy chain to Priscilla. And this story:

And in those days it happened that raiders fell upon the homestead of a wife and her husband, four raiders engaging the husband and two the wife.

The husband defended with spirit, but he was of an age and soon given out. Whereupon a raider knocked the husband in the head and the four did bind him with bindings.

The wife, upon seeing her husband knocked in the head and bound, did know a great wrath, and shouting a great shout, with her shovel she dispatched the two raiders within her reach. Then, seizing a double-headed battle axe from one of the dispatched, the wife, with another great shout, fell with anger upon the four raiders who had bound her husband after knocking him in the head.

The raiders did attempt defense, but in vain. Wielding her battle axe, the wife quickly dispatched two raiders, whereupon a third did say to the fourth: Whoa, dude! It perhaps behooves us to flee these environs. And flee they did.

The wife then attended her husband, who slowly recovered from being knocked in the head. The husband saw the results of his wife-s courage and said, Damn, wife! Who taught you to fight like that?

The wife only smiled and kissed her husband-s bald head and gathered his head to her bosom.
Happy birthday, Priscilla.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

8th grade assignment: Holocaust ‘actual event’ or ‘political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain wealth’?

“The Holocaust assignment was developed in December by a small group of eighth-grade teachers working on the third-quarter English Language Arts argumentative writing/research project. It was based on the eighth-grade Diary of Anne Frank unit the students would be working on.”

School board says, “Holy crap, somebody complained. What do we do?” Officially: “The board and staff are deeply sorry for the hurt and propagation of misinformation caused by this assignment. There was no intent to be hurtful, but due to a lack of critical thought and a lack of internal checks and balances, this project commenced and turned into a horribly inappropriate assignment.”

Eighth grade teachers will undergo sensitivity training at the Museum of Tolerance.”

Oh, and the acting superintendent, Mohammad Z. Islam, and school spokeswoman Syeda Jafri are now victims, after someone from Connecticut called and made threats.

What the school district has is a bunch of teachers who don’t know history and who are anti-Semitic. Otherwise, why the “gain wealth” aspect? Sensitivity training will only teach the anti-Semites that they should hide their beliefs except when in the company of other anti-Semites.


‘A new low’ for Fox News

Or says apolitical, middle-of-the-road certainly neutral Salon.

Video on relatives of dead ferry passengers “not of the mourning relatives, or even Koreans.”

At fark.

Does she whistle at herself when on the job?

Construction worker named Miss Birmingham.

(Honestly, I thought the story was out of Alabama. It isn’t.)

DOD: Slow down pay raise, and while we're at it, give all NG AH-64s to Active Army

DOD panel says lower pay raises; affected persons respond: What??

JCS chief says “we” can “no longer put off rebalancing our military compensation.”

“Rebalancing” means “We’ve been paying Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines too much and we need to get back to food stamps and public housing.”

Generals and admirals then started throwing around numbers: $31 billion saved this year; $2.1 billion additional cut from 2015 budget if pay changes not made; DOD will “miss out” on $10 billion in savings over next five years; $12 billion saved by 2020, ya-da and ya-da.

That many numbers and this year and that year – Sounds like ROMA numbers.

“A survey conducted by found that 90 percent of active duty service members rejected the proposed changes issued by the Pentagon on pay and benefits. More than 95 percent said previous testimony offered by Pentagon officials saying troops supported the proposals was, in fact, false.”

Retired Vice Adm. John Totushek, president of the Association of the U.S. Navy: "What the chiefs are hearing might not be what's really going on."

Survey on slowing pay increase and housing

Nine out of 10? Why not 10 of 10?

About that air support you were going to get when the AF does away with the A10 …

“NASHVILLE, Tennessee -- The Army National Guard has reluctantly begun taking steps to relinquish its fleet of AH-64 Apache helicopters to the active component, even as its leaders call for a commission to study the controversial proposal.

“The Army wants to save an estimated $12 billion over several years by retiring OH-58 Kiowas and using AH-64 Apaches for the armed scout and reconnaissance mission. Because the service can't afford to buy more attack choppers to do both missions, it would transfer the Guard's entire fleet of 192 Apaches to the active component. In return, the Guard would receive 111 UH-60L Black Hawk utility helicopters from the active component.”

(When a service decides to make one aircraft do the job of two, people die. The Apache is not a scout helicopter. Scout helicopters are small; they fly low and slow. The Apache is far less than small.)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Gardening and Stormy Llewellyn

Mrs. R. is in her wheelchair on the front porch. Priscilla is spreading mulch in the final front flower bed. I got another 900 pounds around 9:30 a.m. We have enough to finish the front bed and the two beside the shop. Last year I planted around 120 bulbs in those two beds. Maybe a dozen came up, and maybe five flowered. Temperature now is 76, with forecast high of 86. Tomorrow has a 50 percent chance of rain and assured rain on Friday. We will get all of the mulch done today, tomorrow morning at the latest. I came into the house about an hour ago (bad back taking my strength) and now have lunch cooking.

I am about to start more work on a continuing story of a man who dies and is sent to a place where his abilities are used to battle the armies of other gods.

Stormy Llewellyn told Odd Thomas this world is Boot Camp, and if you do not give in to evil here, you get to battle it in your afterlife.

G-d said we were to have no other gods before him.

You can take that several ways. Literal: We are not to place representations of other gods in his presence. Another literal: We are not to worship any gods other than him, the “before” meaning of primacy. Or, we are not to recognize other gods as his equal.

Other Bible books say we are not to bow down to false gods.

Were gods and goddesses extant 5,000 years ago all false gods? Anat, a war goddess, waded in blood as she lopped off heads and arms; Ishtar, goddess of fertility, also was a goddess of sexuality and war. And what of Hadad and Dagon?

Which are false and which are real? Western education would say none is real; therefore all are false. Greek and Roman logic and rationalism would say the gods could not exist in reality, but who can trust those beginnings of Western civilization, when both had their tens or dozens of gods? The “false gods” disappeared only when Christianity conquered Asia Minor and Europe.

Conjecture, conjecture. All is conjecture.

Not the 900 pounds of mulch for spreading. That stuff is real.

Eating the napkin

Priscilla walked into the kitchen and said, “No more cloth napkins.”

She had wheeled Mrs. R. to the dining room table and lunch – Manwich, soft beans and french fries not crisply cooked. I was fixing my plate of the same.

“Is she trying to tear up her napkin?” I asked.

Priscilla nodded. “She’s trying to take out the stitches with a fork.”

Mrs. R. had recently done similar things – trying to pull napkin apart, using a fork to remove fringed edges of another napkin, a couple of times spreading her napkin on the table and trying to transfer her plate and glass from the place mat.

This time, Priscilla put Mrs. R.’s cloth napkin on the counter and tore off two paper towels from the roll on the counter.

I fixed my plate and went to the table. Mrs. R. had taken her sandwich apart and was scraping at the inside with her fork. Then she took a paper towel and tore off part of it and put the paper on her sandwich.

My reaction was the same as when our kids did that sort of thing at age 2 or 3. I took the paper from the sandwich and said, “This is not lettuce. This is paper. You will not eat paper.”

Mrs. R. just looked at me. She tore off another piece of paper towel. I took that piece and the other paper towel and put it all at the other end of the table. “You will not eat paper,” I said.

Janice, the CNA, arrived later. Priscilla told Janice of Mrs. R.’s trying to eat the paper towel. Janice said that is common among dementia patients. Janice also said we will have to watch Mrs. R., because she will try to eat her socks.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

xbradtc in good form

With a website is titled, "Bring the heat, Bring the stupid," yet another former NCO has opportunity to do both.

Got an old SUV or Crown Vic you need blowed up?

Ranges from 8.2 – 50.7 km. Five “misses” averaged 2 meters from target.

Naval researchers find 300 glass slides from Spanish-American War

Hey, trade blue for green, take your issue M4 and do some soldiering!

‘Band members cite lack of sleep, grueling rehearsals’

“Perry, who was in Tops in Blue during 2011, said that a single day’s work meant members — both performers and technicians — often would have to load equipment and set up, perform, tear the stage down and reload it on the trucks, and get back on the road to arrive at the next stop on the tour.”

Capt. Gavin Light: “I remember days when we got two or three hours of sleep. As a result, people would start to make poor decisions.”

Poor decisions? WTF kind of poor decisions can somebody make when his/her job is to blow a f’n horn?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Beat up

Beat up

The best way to keep grass from growing in flower beds, my wife read, is: cover the bed with cardboard, shaping a single layer around existing plants; water the cardboard; and then cover the cardboard with mulch.

We had: flower beds; existing plants; a water hose; and lots of cardboard boxes, which had contained supplies for home hospice of Mrs. R. – absorbent mattress pad, adult diapers, soft foods and other things. What we did not have was mulch.

So I drove about 7.5 miles to the City of Little Rock landfill on Ironton Road Spur and got 840 pounds of mulch. Such a deal, at $11.29, or $25 a ton.

Back home, I parked the pickup beneath some trees and went into the shop and attached the trailer to my riding mower. (Sears calls it a “lawn tractor,” but it’s mostly a mower.) I pulled the trailer to behind the pickup, shut down the engine and dropped the pickup tail gate. The trailer was not in the exact position I wanted, so I got back on the mower and turned the key. Rr-Rr-click. Rr-Rr-click. New battery; put in last Monday. Rr-Rr-click. Blast that fladderapn fladderrap! Rr-Rr-click.

The battery cannot be dead. It fired up the mower in the shop, and now, maybe seven minutes later … Rr-Rr-click.

Best thing to do is jump it. Not with the truck, because I would have to turn the truck around and then park near the mower and get the cables and jump the mower and then turn the truck around again and back up to the mower. (OK, after getting the mower started I could have driven it to the back of the truck, but I just now thought about that.)

I decided to use my wife’s car. I walked to where she was cutting and placing cardboard at a front flower bed. I told her my situation and then went into the house to get keys to her car.

Both dogs were in the back yard – Victor doing what he does best, look at everything, grin and wag his tail, the world is a good place; Charley doing what he does worst, bark. And not just “Bark.” BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK.

I told him, “No!”


I let him into the hallway. By now he knew I was angry. He ran into the dog room and got into his cage. (Many dog owners call the thing a “crate” because they don’t want to think they put their dog in a “cage.” It is a cage; it is made of steel wire and has a latch on the door.)

I intended to put Charley in the laundry room. His cage is comfortable. I did not want an unmannerly dog to be comfortable. I said, “Charley, come.” Nothing. “Charley, come.” Ditto. I went to the dog room and got Charley by the collar and eased him from the cage. (Honest. I did not jerk the dog from the cage.)

Charley balked at the laundry room door. I told him to go in. He stood motionless. I pulled him into the laundry room, moved a chair that was in the way and closed the door. I went to the living room to get Priscilla’s car keys from her purse.

Charley ran by, from the hallway. What? No! You’re in the laundry room! I called Charley. He ran into the dining room and then into the kitchen and down another hall to the dog room. I followed and took his collar and eased him from his cage. He was a bit nervous by now, and in his haste to do what I wanted, he knocked over the big metal water basin, spilling water on the carpet and the hall tile floor. I put Charley in the laundry room, for sure this time, mopped the water, using two towels, then got Priscilla’s keys.

I drove her car from the garage to where the non-starting mower sat sedately in the shade of several oak trees. I got the car positioned, got the hood open, got jumper cables from my truck, opened the mower hood …

And my wife said it was time for lunch.

It is now almost 5 p.m. here. This afternoon I got the mower started; loaded the trailer with mulch three times; watered the cardboard; and dumped and spread the three trailer loads of mulch.

Today has beat me up.

My wife is outside now, doing something gardeny. I guess I’ll have to go see if she needs my help.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

So it's the airplane's fault?

Air Traffic Control computers at LA Air Route Traffic Control Center went into spasms trying to keep a U-2 at 60,000 feet from colliding with normal air traffic about 30,000 feet lower.

NBC News says: “Spy Plane Fries Air Traffic Control Computers, Shuts Down LAX.”

The FAA says: “FAA technical specialists resolved the specific issue that triggered the problem on Wednesday, and the FAA has put in place mitigation measures as engineers complete development of software changes. The FAA will fully analyze the event to resolve any underlying issues that contributed to the incident and prevent a reoccurrence.”

Seems like someone should say, “Thank you, U-2, for pointing out flaws in the air traffic control computers.”

We should replace football with futbal because the roundball version is so much more civilized ...

… what with players not knocking each other about and all.

“A football fan has been killed after being hit by a toilet bowl during violent clashes between rival supporters in Brazil.

“Paulo Ricardo Gomes da Silva was struck by the flying object during a match between Santa Cruz and Parana at Arruda stadium in Recife on Friday evening.

“Police were called to Gate Six of the stadium after the final whistle to reports of violent clashes between fans of the two teams.

“A number of fans were seen vandalising parts of the stadium and throwing objects at each other, with one group of Parana fans managing to rip a toilet seat from the facilities and throw it off the stand onto Santa Cruz fans below, striking Gomes da Silva.

“The clashes come six weeks before the city hosts matches in the upcoming World Cup, which is due to start on 12 June.”

How can we have silly arguments about a football team named after a hot dog when people are being killed by flying porcelain commodes?

Saturday, May 3, 2014


We bounced the Sarsun freighter five jumps out of Westminster. The Sarsun didn’t put up a fight. Obran put a shot across the bow, and the Sarsun captain hove to. I brought Persephone within a klik of the freighter, then Marn and I took one of the boats across and boarded our prize.

The Sarsun captain was named Parveen. Her navigator was named Daeleen, and the engineer, Daveen. Captain Parveen agreed to terms, and she said she and her crew would help transfer cargo to Persephone. It took three shuttle trips to move the cargo – paintings, sculpture and other artifacts looted from museums and private collections.
We didn’t have the crew to take the Sarsun ship as a prize, so after the cargo transfer, we backed off ten kliks and Obran cut the freighter into a couple dozen pieces. Two pieces would have been enough, I told her, but Obran is still young enough she likes to take things apart.

“Besides,” she said, “the more pieces, the harder to put it back together, if the Sarsun salvage ships come out here.”

I said she was acting like a grunt, which she had been for four years in a Frontier regiment. Obran just grinned.

Brinn, first officer and engineer, was on the flight deck at the time. She said, “You can take the girl out of the army, but you can’t take the army out of the girl.”

“You’re just jealous,” I said.

“Yeah,” she said. “Keep believing that.”

“Really,” I countered. “You’ve got a piece of paper that says you sat in classrooms for three years, learning all about ships. Reality is what you’ve learned out here.”

Brinn laughed. “Just because you two learned your reality in dirt, doesn’t mean everybody else has to.” She finished logging in the ship’s needs for next groundside.

Right then, Marn called on intercom from the cargo bay. “Captain, I think you might want to come down here and talk to the Sarsun. They’re talking to each other.”

“Who else would they talk to?”

Marn said, “They’re getting kind of antsy.”

“What kind of antsy?”

“I think they’re concerned about what we’ll do with them.”

I said, “If you’ve got your touchy-feely antenna out today, I suggest you pull it back.” Marn is a good slinger; give him a target, he takes the shot. But thinking is not his strong suit. However, if he believed the Sarsun might make trouble ... “Okay. I’m on my way.”

We had set up a brig in the cargo bay, plastic mesh inside steel bars, a molded plastic table with bench seats and bolted to the deck, three bunks with blankets, a head with shower and toilet. When I got to the area, the three Sarsun stood up from the bench seats. I stopped two steps from the bars.

“Here’s the deal,” I said to Captain Parveen. “You make any trouble, we vent the hold. When we reseal, we toss your bodies out an airlock.”

Parveen blinked her eyes three times, fast. “That is a bad way to die.”

“There is no good way to die,” I said. “There is only bad and worse. Besides, what would you have done if we were your captives?” Parveen didn’t reply; she only blinked her eyes again. I knew the answer -- If she and her crew had captured my crew and me, she would have splatted us and then airlocked us out. I knew it, she knew it.

We were dealing with Sarsun, a species that killed every human on every planet and asteroid and station it captured. Young, old, in between -- Didn’t make a difference. The Sarsun killed them. I had long ago decided to bring justice to any Sarsun that fell into my hands, but right then ancient rules of legal privateering applied. And one of the rules was, you don’t kill your captives simply for the killing. If captives try to escape or take your ship ... That’s a different set of circumstances, and a captor is justified in using whatever force necessary to restore order or take back his ship.

I said to Parveen, “When we reach groundside or the next station, we’ll turn you over to the proper authorities. Until then, we’ll feed you, make sure you don’t freeze or fry in the hold. If you have any special dietary needs, tough shit. You eat what we eat. Fair enough?”

“Your ways are strange,” she said.

I could feel it coming up, the loss of control, the red anger that built and built and would soon fall across my eyes like a crimson curtain. I wanted to shout out, Our ways are strange? You invaded our territory, you captured worlds settled by humans! You kill humans with the same emotion as when you take a breath! I needed to get away, I had to leave the hold, get the Sarsun out of my sight. But not before a parting shot. “Look,” I said. “We had just as soon shove you -- all of you -- out the airlock now. Hell, maybe we should have done it already. But we didn’t. And now you are under our protection, the protection of my entire crew. But if you screw up ...” I stormed from the hold, up the ladder and into a passageway.

Persephone was a privateer because the Sarsun had more ships than the Republics had sailors. Simply put, there were not enough Navy ships to defend all of human space, nor to intercept Sarsun ships.

Someone in one of the governments picked up the idea of privateers. Thousands of civilian ships traveled in the galaxy, some could be modified to carry weapons. Why not use those ships against the Sarsun? So, governments issued letters of marque, giving captains and/or owners permission to capture Sarsun ships, goods and personnel, “anywhere such ships, goods and personnel may be encountered.” Armed civilian ships could have gone out and taken on the Sarsun without letters of marque, but the governments required official papers before allowing sale of captured ships and goods. After all, governments have to have some control over markets. Otherwise, of what use is the authority to make rules?

The Sarsun war, though, changed the rules of privateering. At first, governments held to time-honored traditions of privateer laws from Earth.

After a couple of years of profitable sales by privateers, insurance companies started to complain. Goods for which the companies had paid claim were showing up on markets within the Republics. Why, the insurance companies said, should we pay billions in claims when those same insured items were not transported to the Sarsun worlds, but were available in our own markets? That’s where the governments changed the rules, effectively shutting down markets for recovered goods, unless sellers could prove the goods were not insured or that no inheritors of previous owners existed. To allay privateer protests, the governments offered ten percent of market value for recovered ships and goods, with the governments then responsible for research on and disposal of the goods. Of course, the governments were not absolutely magnanimous, but charged fifteen percent of assessed value to insurance companies or to inheritors.

I broached the idea at supper that night, that we take the ten percent guaranteed by the governments.

“Sounds good to me,” Marn said. “I’d rather have a definite ten percent of a whole bunch than a maybe on a whole bunch more.” Obran agreed.

“Okay,” I said. “Next station or groundside, we let the appointed or elected officials handle everything.”

Brinn said, “A rough estimate of what we got off the Sarsun ship ...” She grinned.

“What?” I said.

“Eighty million.”

We other three just sat, silent.

I said, “Are you sure?”

“Rough estimate,” Brinn said.

“On the low end?”

“You know me,” she said.

Obran asked what I wanted to know. “What’s the high end?”

“One hundred million, maybe a hundred and five,” Brinn said.

“For planning purposes,” I said, “can we safely split the difference at ninety?”

Nodding, Brinn said, “I think that’s a safe split.”

“Nine million for us,” Marn said.

“Assuming,” I said, “the spoils people figure accurately.”

Marn said, “Times my fifteen percent of the ten percent, that’s ... That’s a whole bunch.”

“One million three hundred fifty thousand,” Obran said.

Marn nodded slowly. Then: “I could retire.”

“And do what?” Obran said.

“I don’t know,” Marn shrugged. “Buy a place. A place with woods and a lake. I could hunt and fish and grow corn.”

“And wait for the Sarsun to invade?” Obran said.

“Hey,” I interjected. “Marn, you’re too young to retire. Besides, growing corn and those other things, that’s a lot like work. Here, on Persephone, you’ve got ... Well, you’ve got a lot of time.” I shrugged. “Besides, if you retire, who’s going to train the two new hands?”

Obran said, “You’re going to hire two more crew?”

“Probably,” I said. “I thought about taking some of the load off you. You’re pilot, navigator and gunner. Maybe we can find a gunner.”

Obran said, “He’d do other stuff, too, wouldn’t he? Like ... I don’t know, maybe navigate and do deck work?”

“Everybody does deck work,” Brinn said.

“I was thinking about getting a second deck hand,” I said. “Take some of the work off Marn.”

Marn said, “Our percentages would go down.”

“There is that,” I said. “The other side is, with a couple more people, we could take in prizes, not cut them into pieces.”

“I don’t know,” Obran said. “Leaving nothing but pieces floating around, the next Sarsun that comes along has to wonder who the badasses were captured the ship and then just cut it up. They’d wonder what happened to the crew, too.”

“They wouldn’t care,” I said.

“Probably not,” Obran said. “But they’d wonder.”

“Yeah, they would,” I agreed. I pushed back from the table. “Speaking of Sarsun, I’ll take supper to them.”

Marn said, “I can do it.”

“That’s okay,” I said. “I’ve got some questions for them.”

Brinn said, “Do you want me to go along? The Sarsun are dangerous.”

“Thanks,” I said. “I’ve got it. Behind bars and mesh, I don’t think there’s much they can do.”

I took three container meals from storage, not checking or caring what was inside. A meat, two vegetables, dessert and a fruit drink--Same as we ate when fresh and refrigerated food ran out.

The Sarsun stood when I entered the cargo bay. I stopped a meter from the cage. “Here are the rules,” I said. “You step back against the far wall. I slide the food containers beneath the bars. I step away, you take the meals. When you’re done, you slide the empty containers beneath the bars, then step back. If you try to hide anything from the containers, I will shoot you. Understood?” The Sarsun nodded.

I told them to stand against the far wall. They obeyed. I slid each container beneath the bars, then stepped back. Without a word from me, the Sarsun walked to the bars, took the containers and then went to the bench table. They opened the containers, took out the cups of fruit drink and entree trays and began eating with stiff cardboard forks.

I said, “I would like to ask questions while you eat.” The three Sarsun looked at each other. Parveen nodded at me. I said, “Why do you attack our worlds?”

Parveen swallowed, then said, “We require them.”

“For what?”

“For the things they have.”

“Minerals, food, manufactured products?”

“Yes,” she nodded.

“But why attack? Why not trade?”

She shrugged. “We require the things they have.”

“And why do you kill the people?”

Again the shrug. “They are there. If they were not there, we would not have to kill them.”

“You kill women and children, old people.”

“Only sometimes all.”

“Because they are there.”


I said, “This ship -- my ship -- is named Persephone. The ship is named after an agricultural world many jumps from here, on the edge of the frontier. You attacked Persephone last year. You killed everyone on the planet. Your invasion and your murders were broadcast throughout all the worlds. We saw what you did. Among the people you murdered were my uncle, my aunt and three of my cousins. They were girls, my cousins. They were thirteen, fourteen and fifteen.”

Parveen said, “I doubt our vanguard killed everyone. Generally, captured females of an age to breed are transported to special facilities. Females not yet of an age to breed are placed with selected families and educated in our ways until they reach the proper age.”

“Where are the special facilities?”

“On worlds previously taken.”

“I see.”
“Females of breeding age are well cared for,” Parveen said. “They receive proper nourishment and housing.”

“And good medical care.”

“Yes,” she said.

“Well. Enjoy your meal.”

I walked through the bay, not really looking at anything, absentmindedly checking tiedowns on containers. By the time I got back to the cage, the Sarsun had finished supper. When I neared, all three stepped back to the far wall. The three meal containers were pushed beneath the bars. I checked the containers, ensuring all utensils and cups were as I stated.

Without a word to the Sarsun, I walked from the bay. When in the walkway, I set the containers on the deck, then accessed a flipdown computer recessed in a bulkhead. Klaxons sounded when I entered the code to close all interior airtight hatches.

Brinn’s voice came from the intercom. “Captain?”


“All readouts are green.”

“Affirmative,” I said. “There is no hull breach.”

“Do we have a malfunction in sensors?”

“No,” I said. “I’m just running a special test. Don’t worry about it.”

I entered the code to open the main cargo hatch. The computer asked for verification. I entered that code, then picked up the food containers and walked to the galley and dropped the containers into the recycle bin. I did not watch the Sarsun die. I had other things to do.



"I was axed three times by Billy Martin in the minors. In '77, George Steinbrenner called me a dumba$$. In '78, after six-and-a-half seasons in the minors, Bill Veeck gave me a job. I then went on to play over nine years in the majors and I own a '85 World Series ring." - Greg Pryor –

Poor people are supposed to be skinny, like Honey Boo-Boo's family

“When we think of true poverty, the famous picture of the migrant mother in the Dust Bowl comes to mind, but today’s poor look more like Honey Boo Boo’s mom. They live in big houses or subsidized apartments. They play video games. They watch TV on a massive screen and they stuff their faces.”

At maggiesfarm.

Quite a few tens of thousands of Americans can tell growing up stories about being much, much poorer than today’s welfare families. Unlike a lot of people today, we got out and did something, through the Army or college or just finding a job that led to another job and another, learning a skill or trade that eventually paid enough for a wife and kids and a house. Way back then there were stories of people at the food stamp place driving away in a brand new Buick or a Cadillac (when a Buick was a real car).

One morning in 1969 the Penn-Central local train crew (of which I was brakeman) went to the track-repair crew dining car in Anderson, Ind. Our conductor knew the cook. Repair crew lived in a passenger car, each man with a bunk and place for storing clothes and such. The cook had some food left over from breakfast – gravy, biscuits and sausage – and he cooked eggs to order for the four of us. As we ate, the cook mentioned “those Kentucky boys” who “get up here and work for a while and then decide they can make more from welfare back home.” All the blame couldn’t go to them, though, “since their grandfathers and fathers had been on welfare, too.”

Friday, May 2, 2014

You found Adolph who in the family vacation pictures?

“Among all the scenic Italian vignettes there was a creepy surprise – a sinister figure sitting in a car under the sun.”

Headline on the story is kind of … wrong. “Hitler materializes …” I think he was just there. It’s not like he fell out of the sky or walked through a Stargate. And, "creepy surprise?"

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Some pictures

The ox teams at Sturgis is an interesting picture. No Harley yet invented.

At maggiesfarm.

Anthropologist pummeled for discovering Noble Savage isn’t

“Undaunted, Chagnon plunged even further into the thicket of political incorrectness. In a 1988 Science article, he estimated that 45 percent of living Yanomamo adult males had participated in the killing of at least one person. He then compared the reproductive success of these Yanomamo men to others who had never killed. The unokais—those who had participated in killings—produced three times as many children, on average, as the others. Chagnon suggested that this was because unokais,who earned a certain prestige in their society, were more successful at acquiring wives in the polygamous Yanomamo culture. ‘Had I been discussing wild boars, yaks, ground squirrels, armadillos or bats, nobody . . . would have been surprised by my findings,’ he writes. ‘But I was discussing Homo sapiens—who, according to many cultural anthropologists, stands apart from the laws of nature.’”

At maggiesfarm.

You would like to do it, too, but it’s kind of illegal

‘Driver caught using cell phone jammer’

He got away with it for two years, but now faces a $48,000 fine.

“The FCC says that Hunphreys admitted to using the jammer to keep people from talking on their phones while driving.”

The story has “Humphreys” and “Hunphreys.” I’m guessing the first … unless the dude also has a misspelling device he applies to news stories.

At maggiesfarm.

If a company can't even supervise its web page, how much supervision has it given to manufacturing its cars?

After watching Dave spend $35,000 for a 1914 Merz cycle car on American Pickers last night, I decided to search and learn more about the small-frame automobiles with motorcycle engines.

Ace Cycle Car/Liberty Motors of Seattle, Wash., is a licensed manufacturer and seller of the Morgan Three-Wheeler, out of Malvern, England.

I would not buy a Morgan Three-Wheeler, at least not from Ace Cycle Car/Liberty Motors of Seattle, Wash. And here’s why:

From the company’s web page: “With it’s low weight ...” and … “it’s Harley engine …”

If a motor company cannot supervise the grammar on its international web page, how much supervision has it put into manufacturing its vehicles?

I wanted to send an email to Ace Cycle Cars/Liberty Motors through its web page “Contact Us,” but there was no space for comment.