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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Remember, it only has to work once...

The utter futility of banning firearms in this (or any other) country is obvious to anyone with common sense. During WWII, Filipino resistance fighters used crude, locally-manufactured, single-shot, shotguns to kill the Japanese. Despite being somewhat ungainly, and an ergonomic nightmare, once the resistance fighter employed it successfully, they became the owner of one of the Emperor's Own Type 38 or Type 99 rifles that were, no doubt, well-maintained and vastly superior to the aforementioned shotgun. Plus, they were able to also secure the remaining ammunition and accessories from the corpse of the Imperial soldier.

Being one of the few countries that have learned from history, the practice of underground gun manufacturing continues to this day.



When the USSR invaded Afghanistan, they encountered Mujahideen armed with Lee-Enfield rifles built in Darra, Pakistan by gunsmiths who were using hand-cranked lathes and hammers to build them. After a few skirmishes, examples of the AK-47 were transported to Pakistan, where even today they are making them in open-air shops.

Banning guns, or even restricting them to the police and military is a laughable measure that simply displays the helplessness of the tyrant for the world to see. Even if they heavily regulate the use of machine tools, there is always paper.

Ridicule it if you want, but a paper gun is still a gun

And it only has to work once...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Damn! I missed another job opportunity!

ATLANTA – Federal agents are seeking to hire Ebonics translators to help interpret wiretapped conversations involving targets of undercover drug investigations.

The Drug Enforcement Agency recently sent memos asking companies that provide translation services to help it find nine translators in the Southeast who are fluent in Ebonics, Special Agent Michael Sanders said Monday.


The rest of the story

Growing up in Detroit, I became fluent in all of the local dialects. In fact, while working in a local hospital, I found myself in the surreal position of having to interpret Ebonics so that a doctor from Nigeria could determine what had happened to the patient.

A Study in Contrast


On the left, we have what looks like a scene from "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure", on the right, we have Vladmir Putin hunting whales. Putin was a soldier, KGB operative, and holds a black belt in Judo. Obama was a "community organizer" (whatever that means) and a politician. And here I thought Bill Clinton was the lowest point to which the Office of the President could sink.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fishing

So, I took Chaos and Mayhem fishing. It turned out to be an educational experience for me. I learned that Chaos has the attention span of a fly, and Mayhem's is just about half of that. I also learned that Chaos can cast a line with the best of them and Mayhem, once he gets the hang of it, will be just as good. Unfortunately, that's all they wanted to do; cast and reel it in. Cast and reel it in. The bobber was just another thing to fling into the water. Waiting for something to bite and thus, move the bobber, was way too slow for them. Mayhem wandered off to throw rocks and Chaos just kept casting and reeling in an almost frenzied manner.

Soooo, I've decided to change tactics. I bought some lures, and next time we'll hit a lake with trout in it. No doubt, with their natural talent for casting and reeling, some unwary trout will end up on the hook. I can hardly wait to see how that pans out.

The only wrench in the works that could possibly disrupt that event is the appearance of geese at the potential fishing spot.

Allow me to explain: like most bodies of water in the area, this one is frequented by flocks of geese. The result of these visitations is lots of goose poop all over the place. And, since geese are protected, there is little that can be done to eliminate them. However, I have secret weapons: the aforementioned Chaos and Mayhem. Both of them become absolutely giddy at the sight of a flock of geese resting comfortably upon the grass at the park. They can't get out of the car fast enough because a flock of geese resting comfortably anywhere is an affront to their little boy sense of dignity. Geese must either fly or get into the water and, to that end, both of them will chase said geese with what can only be described as unbridled joy. As long as one foot remains on solid ground, both boys will pursue the geese to the point of exhaustion (theirs, not the geese). The geese will obligingly run away, just out of reach of their pursuers, until such time as they can lift off in search of a more serene location, or until they can jump into a convenient body of water and paddle away.

Mission accomplished, both of them will walk triumphantly back to whichever parent is closest and describe their feats of derring-do. Frankly, it is great fun to watch and I have yet to hear anyone complain about the harrassment of these avian turd factories. Most people around here would just as soon shoot the geese as anything. Me? I'd hate to rob the boys of one of their favorite pastimes. I don't want the geese completely gone, I just want them to get a thorough workout from time to time.

In any case, I am fully prepared to see fishing rods abandoned in favor of a wild goose chase.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Why Guns Are Important To You.

Guns, regardless of how you feel about them are important to you. I don't care if you are completely apathetic about them, the possession of firearms in the hands of the populace is important to you. Want to know why? Because of the tendency of some to seek and attain absolute control over other people. In short, some people are tyrants.
Tyranny is not the exclusive realm of an iron-fisted lunatic that keeps his subjects in fear through the use of midnight raids and secret police interrogations, it can be exercised on an individual level. The thug that preys on the elderly, the weak, and the infirm is a tyrant. The policeman that uses his badge of authority to steal, rape, or kill is a tyrant. ANYONE that abuses their badge or office of authority for personal gain, is participating in tyranny and, by extension, is themselves a petty tyrant. The politician that works to seize private property from individuals  is a tyrant.

Understand, these people have existed all through history. We were warned about them in The Bible,

1 Samuel 8: 10-18
10 Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, "This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the LORD will not answer you in that day."

Samuel knew it in Biblical times, but he could not know that what came about far surpassed his most dire warnings. In Feudal Japan, a member of the Samurai class could kill someone from a lower caste with impunity. In feudal Europe, someone who insulted a nobleman could be beaten, tortured, or executed. Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia, Mao's China, and Pol Pot's Cambodia, were all scenes of the most horrible atrocities imaginable. They slaughtered millions of their own citizens, including thousands of those that helped them come into power! Loyalty, honor, and decency mean nothing to those whose only desire in life is the acquisition of power. 'The end justifies the means' is their philosophy, and the means usually results in poverty and death for those who are not among the privileged few.

Of course, they will claim that their actions are necessary to provide national/state/individual security. They will identify some 'other' that is a terrible threat and claim that individuals must sacrifice liberty to insure that everyone is 'safe'. Mind you, none of the measures and sanctions they propose will apply to them. Communist dictators, Nazi despots, and U.S. Senators all have numerous things in common but the most obvious is that those in positions of authority considered themselves above the law. You see, they're special. They need to be able to work unfettered by the legal limits imposed upon the benighted masses because of the huge sacrifice they make in the name of public service. If they were subject to the same limitations upon their income and liberty as you and I, they would be too distracted by the mechanics of day-to-day living to be effective as legislators. There may be some evidence that they are right. After all, just look how many of them are too busy to pay their taxes!

One sure sign that a tyrant lurks behind the perfect smile and the aw-shucks demeanor is how tirelessly they work to make it impossible for the average citizens to fend for themselves. You see, they need the people to be complacent, docile, and dependent upon the government. To that end, they do their level best to control your money, control your food, and especially, prevent you from having the means to defend yourself. From the Samurai, to the Nazis, to the Communists, to the Democrats, one sure sign that things are going to get worse is when the government prohibits its citizens from possessing any material that would put them on an equal or superior footing with those that aspire to be their masters.

However, despite their predations upon the bank accounts, paychecks, and property of the middle class, they also have something else in common and I can sum it up in one sentence; "A tyrant fears nothing else as much as he does an angry, armed subject who is no longer willing to tolerate his tyranny."

That is a true, unassailable fact.

Imagine the absolute shock experienced by the Feudal Samurai when he found himself on the losing end of a fight with a pissed off Okinawan fisherman armed with a boat oar, or the fear that blossomed within the chest of the German soldier that watched in horror as the bedraggled, starving, remnants of the Warsaw Ghetto threw firebombs at his column. Or, if you prefer something a little closer to home, how about the consternation felt by the criminal when he encounters a "victim" that hasn't read the part of the script that says he is supposed to comply to the criminal's demands?

Guns are important. Tyrants fear those that own them. And if some tyrant, petty or otherwise, attempts to force his will upon gun owners, there is one overwhelming reality he must face: we still have a say in the matter.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

People I know

When it comes to friends, I've been lucky because I've usually been fortunate enough to find friendship with people smarter and more talented than myself. That forces me to up my game.

For example, my friend Tom is a gifted computer programmer. I mean seriously gifted. Like, Mozart wrote music because he couldn't not write music, Tom figures out computer problems because he has to. Right now, he's working for a marketing concern on the east coast. As with all talented people, he's the "go-to guy" for all of the weird, obscure, glitches that crop up from time to time. Moreover, he has other programmers coming to him for advice and guidance. Unfortunately, the marketing concern that he works for is herding him towards a serious case of burnout. When that happens, he will likely leave for greener pastures, and they will be stuck with men of lesser ability. Tom will do okay because he's talented, brilliant, and has a work ethic that compels him to do the best job he can do, no matter the task. Computers aren't just his passion, they're his calling. When I need advice about computers, I call Tom. He speaks English, he's here in the States, and he likes me. I have none of those advantages when I call Microcrash.

Then there is Mike. Mike would be completely happy if he could spend the rest of his days tinkering with guns, cars, and motorcycles. One of the most effective critical thinkers I've ever met, he is one of the last of a dying breed: the American Tinkerer. He likes to find ways to make stuff go faster, shoot more accurately, and run better for not a lot of money (oh yeah, he's cheap, too). A very serious shooter, a motorcycle accident prevented him from entering into the top ranks of competitive pistol shooters, but you still wouldn't want to go up against him one-on-one. To give you an idea of his talent, he once entered an IDPA match, after not having shot in a year, and won. Like I said; serious. We've had our disagreements but it's usually nothing Earth-shattering. More like brothers quarreling.

Of the few people I call my friend, the only one of any notoriety is Kevin Starrett. Kevin heads up the Oregon Firearms Federation, a Second Amendment organization that makes the NRA look like the Chuck Schumer Fan Club. Considering that Oregon is perhaps the most blatantly Socialist state in the union, the fact that Kevin causes the Democrats in the Oregon State Legislature to cower in fear whenever gun issues need to be addressed speaks volumes about his passion and commitment.

Kevin, more than anyone else, schooled me about politicians. He opened my eyes to the truth about them and how to deal with them. The first thing he taught me was that these are not the best and the brightest. Those people are out inventing things, starting businesses, and curing diseases. Politicians tend to be average, to low-average intelligence, and unremarkable other than they managed to win a popularity contest. Considering that we have a Congressman that thinks the island of Guam can capsize, and a Congresswoman who  still thinks that Vietnam is two countries, I am inclined to agree with Kevin.

The second thing he taught me, and I think the Tea Party movement is proving nationally what Kevin has proven time and again locally, is that the only things politicians understand are fear and pain; the fear of losing an election, and the pain of having to live under the laws they helped enact. There is no reason to be more than nominally courteous to these people, and damned few of them are worthy of respect. If you ever deal with one, deal with them as an equal. If they insist on you using their title, they are a low-down SOB and you should waste no more time on them.

Kevin Starrett is a warrior fighting the good fight, and Oregon gun owners should be grateful to have him on their side. When he walks into the Capitol Building in Salem to confront his opponents, he has them intellectually, philosophically, and literally outgunned. I like to tell people that, when Kevin faces the state legislature he has them surrounded.

Ironically, the only thing that connects these three guys is me. Like I said, I'm lucky.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Nausea

I thought that I had witnessed the extreme of disgusting food when I saw Central Planning put maple syrup on her eggs and bacon. Now understand; I have a cast-iron stomach. I will happily try any ethnic food, no matter how spicy, weird, or exotic the ingredients are. However, there are certain foods that are an abomination. On the low end of the Abominable Spectrum is Pizza with pineapple as a topping. As a pizzaholic, I have tried many different combinations of toppings and this one just doesn't do it for me. Towards the middle, we have peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches, and I thought that maple syrup on eggs was the extreme in bad taste.

I was wrong.

Somewhere out there, somebody, after no doubt smoking massive amounts of Cannabis Sativa, got the munchies, cooked up a cheeseburger, and discovered they were out of buns.

"But, heyyy dude, I still have some Krispy Kreme donuts from this morning so I'll just slice one in half and make the Krispy Kreme Cheeseburger! "

I am absolutely certain that if we check into the background of the person that came up with this idea, we will find somewhere in his ancestry there lurks a NAZI scientist that was in charge of developing chemical weapons.  The very idea just makes me shudder with revulsion. I haven't been this disgusted by a food concept since the announcement of the deep-fried Twinkie.

Yes, it's true. Someone actually took a snack that is completely devoid of any nutritional value whatsoever and found a way to make it even more unhealthy. I would have to look in Revelations again, but I'm pretty sure that this is one of the signs of The Apocalypse. I can see it now; Krispy Kreme Cheeseburgers for dinner, deep-fried Twinkies for dessert, and a couple of shocks with a defibrillator for a bedtime snack.

I suddenly have an urge for a celery stalk.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Border

You can usually determine a politician's enthusiasm for solving a problem by using one infallible meter; the amount of money and power he will receive for solving the problem. If, by solving the problem, he is assured of gaining influence over his peers, increasing his financial holdings, or insuring his re-election, you can bet that he will attack said problem with the zeal of the recently saved. However, if solving that problem offers none of the above, it is trivialized, ridiculed, or ignored.

A perfect example is that of the situation on our Southern border. Thousands of illegals stream into this country looking for a better life. When they arrive, they discover that they can tap into the welfare system and receive free money. If they have a child, that child is, by birthright, an American citizen. Considering that what they receive in a welfare check is the equivalent of a month's wages in some of the Third World countries they left, it's no mystery why we have such a huge illegal population.

Now,we have the added indignity of Mexican drug gangs entering our country to kidnap people, Mexican soldiers coming across the border, and Mexican military aircraft violating our airspace. The complete lack of response on the part of the Federal Government is infuriating to those of us that see these as overt acts of war.

Where the mystery lies is in why we still allow this to happen. When a bunch of Muslim zealots flew airliners into the World Trade Center, and it was discovered that several of them had expired student visas, it seemed like an obvious course of action to close the borders, round up, and deport everyone who was here illegally, regardless of why. Further, when Mexican drug gangs and military cross into the US and attack or kill people on this side of the border, it seems obvious that the solution is to step up our presence on our border. When Pancho Villa attacked the people of Columbus, New Mexico, Woodrow Wilson mobilized the US Army to go after him. Now, we have similar incursions into the US and Obama goes on vacation.

The GOP. usually the shrill opponents of Democratic indolence, remain lukewarm on this subject and even distance themselves from those in their party that attempt to bring the crisis to light. Why? the only way to find that out is to ask "cui bono?" Latin for "To whose benefit?" My guess is the answer will lead to the doorsteps of politicians on both sides of the aisle, and not necessarily on the right side of the law.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Speaking of someone that needs to be slapped...

...we have THIS shining example from the law enforcement community. This idiot forgot his gun in a kid's play area? What do you suppose would happen to a citizen that did the same thing? Ya know, a long, long, time ago, in a land far away, I was entrusted by Uncle Sam with an M-16. The slightest perceived abuse of that weapon resulted in me being subject to the tender mercies of my Drill Sergeant, which usually meant pushups. LOTS and LOTS of pushups.

I mean, I can see forgetting your towel, or your sunglasses, but your Glock? Chief Shit-for-brains needs a visit from Drill Sergeant Bassett. I guarantee that by the time he got done pushing Florida City dirt, he would never misplace his weapon again!

Oh good grief it is REALLY over!

What kind of brainless, moronic, automaton does this? I mean, any organization that would prevent expressions of patriotism in front of a NATIONAL MONUMENT should have everyone, from the dumbshit that approached the kids on up the chain of command to whatever drooling, slack-jawed, mouth-breathing imbecile that runs the U.S. Park Police, should be lined up and given one, long, stooge slap!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

More on Sturgis

A frantic phone call from Stephanie resulted in my driving to Sturgis yesterday. It seems that she needed some lumber for a project she was working on and had no one able to pick up the lumber and transport it to The Buffalo Chip. Since Stephanie has always gone above and beyond for me every time I've been at The Chip, I saw this as an opportunity to return the favor. To a motorcycle enthusast, this might seem like a no brainer, but to me, it wasn't a lot of fun. I hate traffic jams, crowds, exhaust fumes, and moronic pedestrians, all of which are in abundance during the rally.

However, if you're into motorcycles. specifically Harley-Davidsons, Sturgis is a treat. Custom bike builders from all over the country display their latest creations for all to see. As if the bikes alone weren't enough to attract attention, they usually hire some attractive women to stand near the bikes to help catch the eye of passers by. These young ladies are no doubt amply compensated for standing in the hot sun and enduring the sweaty hordes of leering, leather-clad, lechers.

In an interesting moment of clarifying contrast, I observed an older woman, obviously someone who rode in for the rally, walk past one of the young models. The bikini-clad youngster barely noticed the older woman as she maintained that 1000 yard stare common to people that have to work with the public day in, day out, while the older woman studiously ignored the younger. Interestingly. they both had adorned themselves with the type of tattoo that has become known by the name "Tramp Stamp". They younger girl had some New Age design that had no particular point to the pattern, while the older woman had what no doubt had once been a graceful butterfly spreading its wings across her lumbar region. Now, however, it looked more like a menacing buzzard preparing to swoop down and devour whatever carrion approached from that angle.

Speaking of tattoos, whoever heads up the marketing staff for Harley-Davidson should forever be enshrined in the Marketing Hall of Fame. Harley tattoos were in abundance. The man that decided that the Harley logo should be fare for tattoo artists was a genius. I mean when was the last time you saw a guy with a Honda logo on his shoulder? How many women have 'Kawasaki' tattooed above their breast? Free advertising of that magnitude is no doubt why Harley-Davidson has become a lifestyle rather than a brand name.

To be honest, if it came down to a choice, I think getting a Harley tattoo makes more sense than getting some kind of Chinese character. It would be different if I read Chinese, but when I see a tattoo with a bunch of Chinese characters incorporated into it, I don't know if I'm looking at some profound bit of Confucius' wisdom or the instructions for how to set the clock on a DVD player. I'll bet the owner of the tattoo doesn't, either.

Anyhow, after cruising through Sturgis, I headed back to my hovel via the interstate. For those thinking about making it to next year's rally, I have a few words of advice;
  • Loud pipes are no substitute for turn signals, hand signals, and common courtesy.
  • Tailgating a pickup truck driven by someone who, during the rally, has to leave home twenty minutes earlier to arrive at work on time is not conducive to a pleasant, positive, rally experience for either of you.
  • Roaring through residential neighborhoods at 2 a.m. on a Monday morning? Do I really need to explain that one?
  • "Keeping hydrated" does not mean "increase your intake of beer"
  • Complaining about the high price of everything makes you sound like a whiner. It's a tourist trap, what did you think it was going to cost? Imagine living here and trying to make ends meet when prices increase by twenty percent for three months of every year.
  • When the light turns red, that means stop. That doesn't mean that you and thirty of your closest friends should complete the left turn anyway.
  • Motorcycles are fun, safer than people think, and very fast. All of that is null and void when a buffalo is standing in the road.
There it is, take it or leave it. Either way, it's worth ten times what you paid for it.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is in full swing....

...and another annual festival of thunder is under way. Every year at this time, an endless convoy of RV's hauling trailers laden with Harley motorcycles winds its way to campgrounds twenty to thirty miles outside of Sturgis where the owners unload their bikes and roar into town with a cacophony of V-Twin engines. A sleepy town of six thousand will swell to over a half million souls, all of whom are there to celebrate the camaraderie of the road. They will meet at their favorite pub and share "road stories" like when their RV's toilet clogged outside of Omaha or when they almost got into a bar brawl with their broker because they didn't recognize each other with beards.

Moreover, like any large group of people that are far away from home and very close to a supply of alcohol, their behavior will be more outrageous as the party continues. The heat, the beer, and the party atmosphere is almost assuredly going to lead to someone removing their clothing. Now, I know what you're thinking; you're envisioning something out of one of those "crazy college co-eds on vacation" videos or some such thing. You know the one I'm talking about, wherein some lean, lithe, young co-ed exposes her supple flesh to the cheering throngs of oily muscles, all in celebration of their temporary freedom during Spring Break. The succession of flesh is given awards for categories like "Best Tan Lines", "Biggest" and "Most Perfectly Proportioned".

Regrettably, due to the decline of the economy, the devaluation of the dollar, and the constant government bungling of the economic recovery, many, if not most of this year's participants are, well, old. Seriously, I've seen them and most of them are Baby Boomers. Not only that, an alarming number of them forgot their shoes and, as such, have frequented the store where I'm employed. They discovered that boots that are well-suited for motorcycle riding are not necessarily the best for walking and hanging out at the campsite when one has bunions and hammer toes. Therefore, they come into our store desperate for relief from the pain caused by their officially logo'ed, Chinese made, motorcycle boots. Judging from the numerous women that I have observed coming in from the road, should they decide to expose themselves to the clamoring hordes, they would have to be entered into categories like "Longest", "Closest to the Ground", and "Most Veins". The saddest specimen that I saw had obviously had breast augmentation sometime in the eighties, which I'm sure increased the volume of singles stuffed into her G-string during that era. The unintended consequence of the aforementioned augmentation was that her breasts remained suspended in time, forever twenty-five years old, while sun, wind, and entropy had its normal effect upon the rest of her. The end result resembled nothing so much as a pair of cantaloupes resting on an unmade bed.

And the men are no better. With their stretch mark-adorned guts and hairy moobs protruding between the flaps of their leather vests, they look more like refugees from a Neanderthal maternity ward than veteran road warriors. Most pathetic are those that strut around while wearing the colors of "The Sons of Anarchy", a fictional motorcycle club portrayed in a TV show of the same name. Hey, I'm a fan of Batman movies but I'm not going to squeeze my oversize buns into a spandex Batman outfit and strut around like a superhero.

However, they all seem pleasant enough, and they all want to spend money. A LOT of money. As in, the entire country of Pakistan could shut down and make a pilgrimage to Mecca on the money that changes hands here during The Rally. Between the beer concessions, the t-shirts, tattoos, and all of the schlock that people here sell in those seven days, nearly a billion dollars changes hands.

All kidding aside, The Rally is truly a phenomenon. What started as an informal meeting of a few bikers each year, has evolved into an incredible, world-renowned party that attracts people from literally every continent on the planet.

Positively the best spot to be during the event is The Buffalo Chip. Both concert venue and campground, if there is one place that has it all, it's The Chip. Stars like ZZ Top, Kid Rock, Dave Mason, and too many others to name have appeared there. It is by far the premier spot in Western South Dakota during The Rally.

What those that attend these events don't realize is that all of the things that people enjoy at The Buffalo Chip; the concerts, the food, the camping, and the other activities, are made possible by the tireless efforts of one incredibly talented young woman by the name of Stephanie. Stephanie starts organizing for the rally about thirty minutes after the previous rally. Her tireless effort at bringing quality entertainment into the venue while providing a fun, festive, safe environment for the public to enjoy can only be described as superhuman. Her upbeat yet down-to-earth personality can distract you from the fact that her ability to plan, organize, and execute the entire week's scheduled events while juggling a million other things rivals General Petraeus. Hell, if Stephanie had been put in charge of Operation Iraqi Freedom, ZZ Top would have been headlining at Saddam Hussein's palace within a week of the invasion. Are you listening Washington?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Home Life

Through a combination of bad luck and bad decisions (mine), I live in a five hundred square foot apartment with my beautiful wife, Central Planning, and my two sons, Chaos and Mayhem. It's like what I imagine living in a bus stop with two chimpanzees would be like, except the food is better. Add to this the fact that we live above someone that complains every time a piece of lint hits our floor, and you begin to get an idea of what life is like in the McWopski household.

Last night, our downstairs neighbor (hereafter referred to as The Ear) was apparently upset by the fact that Chaos and Mayhem insisted on wrestling with each other in their bedroom. He was so upset that he sent his girlfriend up to tell me that he couldn't stand the noise and was threatening to call the landlord. Rather than try to explain to her that boys tend to be noisy, messy, and loud, and since I absolutely hate moving, I told her I would handle it. She, being a pleasant sort, thanked me and left it at that.

So now, in order to preserve the peace with our downstairs neighbor, I have to train my sons to tread ninja-like across the floor. For our youngest, Mayhem, this is a challenge. How it is that someone that is three and a half feet tall and weighs forty pounds, can sound like a rampaging buffalo while traversing the six feet between the bathroom and his bedroom is a mystery that defies science. The oldest, Chaos, walks quietly enough, but has all of the grace and agility of an avalanche. Plus, he has Autism, so at random intervals throughout the day, he's either emitting strange noises, or bumping into things and knocking them over. All of which, I'm sure, annoys The Ear no end.

On top of all of that, the two boys have the plastic equivalent to three times the Jurassic Period's entire population of dinosaurs. Through some strange anomaly, the plastic dinosaur that they want to play with at any given time during the day is always on the bottom of the toy box. This necessitates dumping the entire contents out on the floor to access the desired dinosaur. When they have played with that dinosaur long enough (elapsed time: seven minutes) they abandon said pile of plastic dinosaurs to go outside and roll in whatever mud puddle is convenient, thus insuring that Central Planning has lots to do to keep her from becoming bored. Of course, cooking, cleaning, and running her own business helps to fill in those idle hours, but Chaos and Mayhem help fill in the two minutes and twenty-seven seconds during the day when she's sitting around doing nothing.

As for me? After a hard day of trying to convince people that they really need a brand new $200 pair of Chinese-made, hiking boots, I come home, retreat to my "man cushion", and try to let the stress fall away. Yes, you read that right, a man cushion. In Oregon I used to have a "man cave", which condensed to a "man space" in Kansas, and now is just one cushion on our couch. If the economy doesn't pick up soon, I may end up having a "man refrigerator box in an alley somewhere".

At least the neighbors won't complain about the noise.

More Hunting

In 1996, my good friend Randy and his Uncle Jeff invited me to hunt bear in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The lodgings were taken care of as Jeff lived up there year round, and Randy was providing the transportation. Having grown up in a city like Detroit, the only experience I had with hunting and shooting was at one point in my misguided youth, I was hunted by police, and later in life I was shot at during a holdup (I was the victim not the robber), but those are stories for another time. I applied for and, miracle of miracles, got a bear tag on my first attempt ever.


Since I knew little about hunting and even less about bears, I decided that some research was in order. To that end, I read everything I could about bears and bear hunting, but two works stand out in my memory; “American Mankillers” by Don Zaidle, and “Some Bears Kill” by Larry Kaniut. Combined with various other books and magazines, I was convinced that I was in for an adventure.

Since “everyone” knew that the UP was a howling wilderness where the winters were cold enough to make trees explode, I packed every bit of long underwear and winter clothing I had. I also discovered that I had nothing in the way of firearms that was adequate for bear hunting. This was resolved by the purchase of a like-new Remington 700 in .30-06 with, “Huff Creek Mine Safety Award. One Year, No Accidents-1995” laser etched on the stock. I topped this off with a Burris 1.75-5X scope and since I didn’t handload at the time, I bought Federal 180 grain Trophy Bonded factory ammo. As an after thought, I also decided to bring my S&W 4-inch Model 29 stoked with 240 grain solids. If I had a close encounter with a hungry bear, I wanted to be sure that I was ready to make a good account of myself.

When the happy day came I said my good-byes and Randy and I headed to the North Country. The trip took about 4 hours, with stops for coffee and snacks. Upon our arrival, Jeff greeted us with a cold beer and a warm fire.

Some explanation is in order.

When people in the Upper Peninsula say that they are building a fire, they don’t mean a picturesque blaze in a fireplace, they mean a barely contained conflagration that will blister the paint on your car and singe the hair in your nostrils unless you keep far enough (about 20 yards) away.

We exchanged greetings, unpacked the car, and began the time-honored tradition of telling tales around the fire. The tale telling lasted into the night, while the beer flowed freely and the BS even more so. Food consisted of unidentified chunks of dead animal held over the flames until it was brown on the outside and hot enough to qualify as “cooked”. Being something of a lightweight, I turned in first.

The next morning, I woke up eager for some action. I was told that the bear hunting would get underway later that afternoon. I carefully inventoried my things and got ready. Several hours later, I was told that it was time to load and go. Jeff took us out to his barn where he had a huge box of snack food, potato chips, corn chips, snack cakes, and donuts, all with expired due dates on them. Apparently, he had worked out a deal with the local snack food distributor where he would buy this stuff for pennies, and then use it for bear bait (or parties, and occasionally for lunch).

We each grabbed an armful of bags and began tearing the bags open and dumping the contents into a bucket. Once the bucket was full, we gathered our things and headed for bear country.

Bear country turned out to be about twelve miles away “near the slanty road”. Slanty Road wasn’t the name of the road, it was called that because it slanted away from the main road. I was to learn that “slanty road was a generic term and that there were about thirteen thousand slanty roads in the Upper Peninsula.

Anyhow, when we came to the appropriate slanty road, we stopped, got out, and hauled the bucket of stuff to the blind. It was a warm September day, approximately 65 degrees out and I, dressed like a homesick Eskimo, was sweating buckets. Fortunately, it was only a short walk to the blind. We walked to a place that Jeff had selected earlier, poured our bait onto the ground and piled several hefty logs on top of it.

That was when I learned another thing about “Yoopers” as those people in the UP are called; they are serious blind builders. This one looked more like an ice-fishing shanty (it was) with an upholstered chair inside and a small window that looked out to the bait pile. All in all, it was very cozy and comfortable. Randy and Jeff made absolutely sure that I could find the trail out to the road. They agreed to pick me up at dark. If I got a bear, I was to wait for them before tracking it. They also made sure that they pointed out the orange ribbons hanging from the trees that marked the trail out.

I climbed into the “blind” set my rifle up for easy shooting, and began the process of waiting for a bear to show up. Time flew, mainly because of my excitement, but also because I had the foresight to bring a good book along. I made sure to look at the bait pile every time I turned the page, thus insuring that no bears would slip in and out unnoticed.

It wasn’t more than ten or eleven chapters before it grew too dark to read. I waited another thirty minutes and decided that it was timed to head back to the road. I unloaded my rifle, clambered out of the blind, and began walking. I’m not sure how much time had passed before I noticed that not only was it too dark to read, it was too dark to see any orange ribbons in the trees. Still, I continued walking in what I thought was the right direction until I became tangled in the underbrush.

Now certain that I had gone the wrong way, I turned around with the intention of heading back to the blind. The problem was that it was dark. Not the sort of dim artificial light that meant ‘dark’ in the city, but the inky, almost physical presence of darkness that means ‘dark’ to people that live in a place where the nearest streetlight is twenty miles away. Somewhere within whatever remained of my primordial instincts, I became connected with the reality of my situation. The word LOST emerged into my consciousness. I wasn’t really all that worried, I had my rifle, my handgun (for bears, remember?) and I was wearing more warm clothes than I would need in a month in the current weather. So, I decided that instead of running around in the dark, I would sit where I was and try to think of something clever to say to the searchers when they found me in a couple of weeks.

It was then that I began hearing voices. Happily, they weren’t inside my head, it was Randy and Jeff yelling for me. I pulled out my handgun and fired two shots in the air. Randy’s voice yelled again, “Ed! If that’s you, shoot again!”

I fired two more shots and braced myself for the merciless teasing that was to follow. Thirty minutes and a lot of yelling later, I emerged onto a small side road, approximately a mile away from where I was supposed to be, exhausted, embarrassed, and both my rifle and I were scratched and dinged on every exposed surface. I got into the truck and we began the journey home. Oddly, both men were silent. Unable to take it anymore, I spoke up, “Okay guys, let me have it. I know I deserve it.”

Neither man looked at me, but Randy spoke first, “Nope, won’t do it.”

I was astonished, “Why not?”

This time Jeff spoke, “Because it ain’t anything that we haven’t done ourselves.”

With that, I was treated to a list of people that had gotten lost for hours (and in one instance, days), for whatever reason, almost always with the lesson that “…from then on, they always took a compass and a cell phone with them.” I wasn’t sure which stories were true and which were just BS but I was grateful for the grace shown me.

The next day was the last day we’d be able to hunt. I wanted an early start, but there were errands to run. It wasn’t until 9am that I would be able to head out. Time passed quickly though, so after a quick breakfast, we went back to the slanty road and I once again went into the blind. I did notice that somewhere along the line, the number of ribbons marking the trail had somehow tripled.

I got into the blind, loaded my rifle, and pulled out my book. The “turn page-look-read” method seemed to work yesterday so I thought I’d try it again today. The day was pleasant, the temperature was warm, and the scenery was beautiful. I chuckled when a squirrel climbed up the front of the blind and looked in the window. Once he saw me sitting there, he changed his mind about entering. A couple of times I heard something walk by behind me, but didn't want to spoil my chances at a bear by getting out to look.

Along about sunset, I finished my book and decided that since I didn’t want a repeat of yesterday’s performance, I’d leave at dusk rather than at dark. I sat back to watch the forest when things changed. To this day, I can’t put my finger on it. The best I can describe it is that the attitude of the forest changed. I kept scanning the area when out of the woods stepped a black bear. Its jet-black fur contrasted so starkly with the forest that I wondered how they managed to stay unseen. It walked over to the bait pile and flicked away the logs that were piled on top of it as if they were Styrofoam.

Like I said earlier, I don’t know much about hunting, but I DO know a little about shooting thanks to several years of Highpower Rifle Matches. I had mentally promised myself that if I didn’t get a picture perfect shot, I’d let the bear go. I didn’t want to have to go chasing a wounded bear all over Michigan’s UP. That not only wouldn’t be proper respect for the bear it would definitely insure that I’d never be invited back.

The bear enjoyed what was to be its last meal, carefully looking around between bites. It moved to some particularly tasty morsel and while eating it, gave me a perfect broadside shot. I lined up the crosshairs, squeezed the trigger and made what I knew was a perfect shot. The bear roared, did a complete somersault, roared again and ran into the woods. The last roar sounded like it was gargling, so I knew that the lungs were filling with blood. I jumped out of the blind and ran over to where I saw the bear run into the woods. As I approached the spot, I remembered all of the stories I had read about going after wounded bears and also recalled Jeff’s admonition not to go after it until he and Randy were with me. I checked my watch, an hour until I was supposed to meet them. I stashed my rifle in the blind, made my way to the road (successfully this time) and started walking in the direction of Jeff’s place. I figured that when they came to get me, meeting me on the road would save some time.

Luck was on my side for once. A passerby offered me a ride. By coincidence, she happened to live across the road from Jeff. Fifteen minutes later, I was walking up the drive towards the group of men gathered around the nightly inferno. Upon seeing me, the questions came fast and furious, “Ed! We’re not s’posed to pick you up for half an hour! What’re ya doin’ here?”

“You’re not lost are ya?” (Grace is such a fleeting thing)

“Didja get a bear?”

I smiled, “Yeah I got one and I was hoping that you’d help me find it.”

With that, everyone kind of froze for a second, and then the place erupted into activity. Tools were loaded, shotguns were put into rear-window gun racks, ropes were tossed into pickup beds, and everyone climbed into a vehicle and we headed out to find the bear.

When we arrived at the appropriate place, I pointed to where the bear had gone into the woods. Jeff, shining a flashlight onto the ground, began weaving a pattern back and forth. I thought it was the effects of too much beer until he said, “Ed! Come here and stand on this spot.” I looked at what he was pointing at, a splotch of bright red blood mixed with some lung tissue. From there he began working in concentric half circles towards the direction the bear had gone. A few minutes later, I heard Randy’s voice out of the darkness,”Here it is!” He had apparently followed a trail of broken branches to the carcass about twenty yards into the trees After making certain that it was dead, we cut down a sapling, tied the bear’s feet together and hauled it out of the woods, back to Jeff’s place for skinning and butchering. I felt like I was ten feet tall.

Upon seeing the bear up close, I realized it was, well, kind of small. It was definitely an adult, but it just barely tipped the scale at one hundred pounds. If I saw that bear now, I’d probably give it a pass. But at the time, it looked huge to me. In any case, the meat was great, and the skin makes a nice doily for my easy chair.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Hunting

One of the things that I truly enjoy is hunting. It would be my absolute favorite outdoor activity except for the fact that I am remarkably inept at it. I mean, I grew up in Detroit for crying out loud. There wasn't a lot of hunting tradition in my life, since my father bailed shortly after I was born and none of my male relatives expressed the least interest in doing anything outdoors unless it involved landscaping their lawns. So hunting was something I've had to "learn while I burn" so to speak.

Don't get me wrong, there were some interesting experiences along the way, Like the first time I went coyote hunting...

“I’ve got to get into better shape!” was the thought that kept plaguing me as I ran through the woods. Note that I said better shape. I mean, round is a shape, it’s just not the best shape to be in when you’re chasing a bunch of hounds through the woods.


In front of me was a young man that was about half my age and weight, running effortlessly through the woods toward the sound of hounds baying. Suddenly, hearing a change in the tone of the hounds’ voices, the young speedster paused for a split second and then turned on full afterburners, leaving me in a cloud of snow. I was unable to determine where he went, since the spots dancing before my eyes kept me from focusing.

I stopped and stood there, gasping and wheezing, reflecting that all of the strangest events that ever occurred in my life always seemed to start with a phone call.

Allow me to explain; The East Side Detroit neighborhood where I grew up wasn’t exactly a hotbed of hunting tradition. In fact, after Dutch Elm Disease ravaged the state, just seeing a tree outside of a park was a pleasant surprise. My friends and I were living what social engineers refer to as ‘The Urban Experience’. Simply put, we lived in a dirty, crowded city, and thought ‘wildlife’ referred to the possums that for some reason loved the city.

At least one of my friends, a man named Ron, decided that he had had enough urban experience and moved to the faraway land known as “Up North”. “Up North” is difficult to define. Ask nearly anyone in Southern Michigan where they went for a weekend trip and invariably they respond “up north”. The inquisitor will nod knowingly; understanding that “up north” is a euphemism for, “anywhere but this dirty, stinky, crowded city.”

Ron moved “up north” and took to the lifestyle like a duck to water. In no time at all, he had become a hunting and fishing fanatic. Somehow, we managed to stay in touch through the years. Occasionally, when the pollution level in his blood got too low, he would drive down to Detroit for a visit, and I visited his place once or twice, just for something to do. “Up North” was pleasant, quiet and extremely slow paced. The two major topics of conversation were “Opening Day” and when the smelt were running.

It took several more years for me to become sufficiently fed up with my own urban experience. I can’t pinpoint the exact day; all I can say is that I suddenly realized that I no longer wanted to experience the urban environment. To this end, I began looking for avenues of escape.

Being one of three people in Michigan that neither owned a boat, nor did I know anyone that owned a boat, fishing was out. I guess I could have fished from the shore of the Detroit River, but no sane person ever actually ate anything that came out of that river. Plus, the fishing spots on the Detroit River were in the inner city and I figured that if I was going to have to carry a gun while in pursuit of wild animals, I might as well try hunting.

Enter the phone call from Ron. “Want to go coyote hunting?” He asked.

His timing couldn’t have been better. I had been reading about coyote hunting in several of the various hunting and shooting magazines that I subscribed to. Each article was bulging with information about coyotes, their habitat, and the equipment necessary to hunt them. The writers all went on to relate how farmers and ranchers would genuflect in your presence, and sing your praises to their neighbors out of gratitude to you for ridding them of the calf-killing, chicken-stealing, pet-maiming, deer-murdering, blight on their existence. Accompanying these articles were photographs of happy hunters, smiling in triumph, poised over the carcasses of several very dead coyotes. The captions invariably said something to the effect of, “Here’s Joe Hawkeye with three song dogs that he took within seconds of sitting near a bush.”

It was because of these articles that I told Ron, “Heck yeah I’ll go! I’ve got a varmint rifle already.”

“It would be better if you brought a shotgun. The woods are pretty thick, so the ranges are not too long.”

“Sure, I can get a shotgun. Anything else?”

“Just be ready to run. The guys I go with hunt ‘em with dogs. It’s pretty wild.”

“Running huh? I don’t know—“

“Don’t worry, the dogs do most of it, we just have to run to the spot where the dogs come out and get ready to shoot.”

“OK, I’m in. When?”

“Saturday. Bring a friend if you want.”

This was turning out to be a great time. Not only was I going to hunt the wiliest of varmints, but I could also bring a friend. I immediately thought of Mike. Mike is a shooter. By that, I mean that when he is not actually shooting, he is working tons of overtime to get enough money to buy something for shooting, be it guns, powder, bullets, primers, or brass. He too had recently decided that the charm had worn off of the city, and was looking for other pursuits. Hunting dovetailed nicely with his interest in shooting. At the mention of coyote hunting, he eagerly accepted the invitation (As it turned out, he read many of the same articles that I had).

We drove up north on Friday night, and on Saturday morning, we found ourselves up at 0-darkthirty, armed and ready for action. We arrived at the pre-arranged spot, eager for the chase. Mike and I were excited as we pulled up and met the group of guys that we were to hunt with. Ron had explained that these guys normally hunted bears, but they took up coyote hunting as a means to keep tuned up during the off season.

We got out of the truck, made the introductions while we sized each other up. They looked about the way I thought savvy hunters should look; unshaven, eyes squinting in the morning light, leaning against their trucks, and looking grimly determined. It wasn’t until later that I discovered that they looked that way because they had hangovers.

In Michigan, most of the farmland and a large portion of state land is laid out in a grid. That meant that the area was like a giant checkerboard, with one-square-mile grids bordered by dirt roads extending as far as the eye could see. The grid squares that we were hunting in were part of a state forest, which meant thick brush and hardwood trees all around. The plan was that the dogs would be released into the forest. When they spotted a coyote, they would give chase. One man would run with the dogs through the woods while the dog handler would determine which way that the dogs were headed. A task made simpler by means of a tracking device tuned into radio transmitters on the dogs’ collars. The runner and the handler stayed in touch by means of cellphones used as walkie-talkies. Once it was determined which way the dogs were chasing the coyotes, the rest of us would load into vehicles, race to the other side of the grid square, and wait on the road for the coyote to emerge. Once sighted, the coyote would be shot, and we would head on to the next area for another such hunt.

As I watched the dog handler, I began to suspect that maybe these guys weren’t quite as competent as I first thought. Whenever one of his dogs would bark, he would unleash a short stream of expletives that were supposed to scare the dogs into silence. The dogs, unaffected by the cussing, seemed to enjoy the game. They took turns barking at the handler who would cuss the appropriate dog out. Perhaps I read too much into it, but I swear that I saw a conspiratorial look pass between the dogs.

Before long, the dogs were set loose, and shortly thereafter they began their baying in earnest. “If you wanna see a coyote, follow him!” ordered one of the handlers while pointing at the designated runner. Like some kind of oafish lemming, I plodded off after him, hoping to catch my first glimpse of a coyote in the wild, which is how I came to be chasing after this Northern Michigan track star.

His disappearing act made me realize that I was way out of my league, so I headed back to the trucks. I arrived just in time to pile in with one of the drivers and race off to the other side of the grid. We arrived in a pack, jumped out and took up positions along the road, and waited… and waited... and waited.

The runner’s voice came over the cellphone; “They’re going the other way!” So we piled back into the trucks, raced back to where we started from, jumped out, took up positions along the road, and waited. The runner’s voice again, “He’s doubling back!” So, again, we got into the trucks, raced to the other side, jumped out, and waited.

For six hours this went on. The runner would warn us that the coyote was headed away from us, jump in, race away, jump out, wait. Warning, jump in, race, jump out, wait. I began to wonder if I really wanted to hunt coyotes. Actually, I began to wonder if I really was hunting coyotes. For all I knew, the dogs were lost and running in circles looking for home.

Then we heard a shot. Hot diggity! We had gotten one in only six hours! Within a few minutes, the dog runner came out and relayed what had happened and unknowingly supplied me with yet another clue that these guys weren’t the top-notch hunters that I had initially believed they were.

He had been running after the dogs when the coyote decided to double back. Upon doing so, it raced by within thirty yards of the runner who, armed with an old Marlin bolt-action shotgun, took a shot and hit the coyote in the hind leg. The coyote stopped long enough to react to the pain and then hobbled off.

“Why didn’t you shoot it again?” asked one of the crew.

“My shotgun jammed”

“What? What did you shoot him with?”

“Three inch magnums.”

“No wonder! You’re not supposed to use three inchers in that old gun! One of these days you’re gonna eat
that bolt!”

Mike and I looked at each other. We could almost read each other’s thoughts, “What the heck are we doing here?” Out of Christian charity, I slipped a few of the appropriate two and three-quarter inch shells to the runner. He mumbled his thanks and the chase began anew.

Once again, the runner took off into the woods and we began our bizarre routine. Despite being wounded, it took the dogs another two hours to chase the coyote down. When they finally did catch up to it, the coyote had squirmed under a bush, apparently so that the dogs couldn’t reach it en masse; rather, they had to approach the coyote one at a time. The coyote would then show an impressive set of fangs and keep the dogs at bay. Unfortunately, the coyote was too exhausted to put up much of a fight and the dogs were gaining ground. It was at this point that those of us on the road heard the dog runner say over the radio, “Someone with a gun come up here”.

The person closest to the action was Mike. He had (wisely) carried his Model 629 in a crossdraw holster that day. He walked up to where the coyote was and drew his pistol, intending to dispatch the animal quickly, when the dog handler yelled, “Let the dogs have it!” Disgusted, Mike replaced his pistol, and walked away. I don’t believe that the dogs killed the coyote. I think that the combination of exhaustion, blood loss and shock is what did the ‘yote in.

Most of the crew was acting as if they had killed a man-eating tiger. They dragged the carcass out of the woods and displayed it for all to see. It was a big male, about thirty pounds. They handed it back and forth, and let the dogs worry it a little, then one of them held it out to me,

“You want it?”

“Nah! I wouldn’t know what to do with it.”

There wouldn’t be any photos of me smiling triumphantly either. Frankly, I didn’t want there to be any evidence of my having had a part in this…event. Mike and I looked at each other. We were again thinking the same thing, “What the heck are we doing here?” Even Ron looked a little subdued. He had wanted us to have a good time and instead we felt like we were party to a lynching. Needless to say, my esteem for these guys had plummeted. All of the driving, radioing, and running had netted us just one coyote in eight hours. I decided that these guys were what I refer to as “Bubbas”.

A “Bubba” is the kind of hunter that gives us all a bad name. You can always tell when a Bubba has been camping near you; the pile of beer cans he leaves behind is a dead giveaway. Another sure sign of a Bubba is his shooting skill. His rifle stays in the garage all year except when he pulls it out two days before Opening Day to practice. A skillful Bubba can place five shots into a road sign at fifty yards. To their credit, this bunch had at least kept after the coyote until it died, as opposed to shrugging their shoulders and leaving the wounded animal to its fate (another Bubba trait).

My respect for coyotes on the other hand, soared! This little dog had us running around for six hours before anyone saw enough of the coyote to get a shot. Even wounded, it took another two hours for anyone to catch up to it, and only then because it was too exhausted to continue.

I am firmly convinced that if this coyote had had even one opposable thumb, we would have found the dog runner and his dogs stripped naked and tied to trees, while the coyote sped off in a stolen truck to search for a veterinarian, all the while howling obscenities at us over the runner’s radio.

Having had enough of coyote hunting, Ron, Mike and I decided that we would spend the rest of the day rabbit hunting. We said our good-byes, stopped long enough to get Ron’s beagle, and managed to enjoy the rest of the day, the highlight of which was a beautiful running shot that Mike made on a cottontail. It was the only rabbit that we saw. Ron explained that small game was scarce because the coyote population was growing out of control.

It wasn’t hard to figure out why.

Physics

Ladies, no matter how hard you pull, push, strain, groan, or otherwise exert yourselves, you will NOT fit a size eight foot into a size six and one-half shoe.

But you are fun to watch.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki

There's an email making the rounds comparing Hiroshima and Detroit. It chronicles how Hiroshima went from an atomic wasteland to a modern city while Detroit went from being an industrial powerhouse to an urban wasteland. It turns out that the photos of "Hiroshima" are actually photos of modern Yokohama. Regardless, Hiroshima is a modern, thriving city:


While Detroit is a wasteland:



Ironically, it was Democrats that destroyed both cities. In Detroit's case, it took fifty years instead of fifty seconds. I guess the expansion of bureaucracy slowed things down quite a bit.

As for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, even though Japan was beaten and willing to negotiate a surrender, Truman decided to drop The Bomb on them.

Twice.

You can argue the morality of this forever but the lesson is this: when you start a war, any consideration or compassion from the people you attacked, for your people , is forfeit.

Estimates for the number of American lives saved by The Bomb vary from two hundred thousand to one million. I don't care if the number was one, I'd rather see one American soldier come home at the expense of thousands of enemy civilians than send a million of our troops into a meat grinder.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Employment!

It's true. After an extended period of unemployment, I've landed a position in retail sales selling shoes. Now, considering that retail sales is Hell, at least the chain I work for is in the part of Hell farthest away from the flames. I sell shoes. I didn't think i would care for it but it's fun and interesting. The pay sucks but, hey, that's retail.

One thing though; what is it about neatly arranged shoe boxes that makes women crazy? I mean, seemingly rational women come into the store, notice the shoe boxes in their neat aisles and rows, and go BERSERK!!! Every box must be opened with the packing paper strewn hither and yon, shoes must be removed from boxes and left on shelves, and boxes must be left on the floor of the aisles. If they went to a friend's house and acted the way they do in our shoe department, there would be SWAT Teams, helicopters and negotiators involved. Some days it looks like a troop of baboons have passed through the department. I swear, if a customer poops in their hand and throws it at me I'm gonna start blasting.

We're being conditioned, cont'd...

Think about the last action movie you saw. No doubt the plot revolved around some cop/soldier/CIA agent/Federal Agent going out and fighting the good fight. At some point, the hero decides that the rules are too cumbersome for him to succeed at whatever he's trying to accomplish, so he ignores them and proceeds to save the damsel in distress/city/world because of it. Now, setting aside the fact that a real cop/soldier/CIA agent/Federal Aent would find himself out of a job and a pension if not in jail as a result of those antics and look at the pattern: it's always a government agent of some type that is the hero. The message is plain: "Only the government can save us from bad things."

Why do you suppose that westerns are so rare? Movies like "Open Range" proved that there is money to be made there, so why no westerns? Because the main character in a Western is a cowboy who decides he's had enough of the corrupt railroad/land baron/sheriff, and he's going to make a stand. Get it? A lone man decides that he's had enough and he's going to make things right or die trying. Moreover, it's usually an ex-soldier who just wants to get on with his life, or a cowpoke that's trying to keep his ranch despite the land baron's manipulation of the system in order to steal what the cowpoke earned (see any modern-day parallels there?), or even a sheriff that sides with the people against said land baron.

Compare and contrast the two messages: one says that only the government can effectively use force to protect the people, the other says that one ordinary individual with a little courage can make a difference. Considering that Hollywood is infested with lefties, it's no wonder that they feed us the drivel that they do. The truly sad thing is that there are hundreds of great stories that could be told just by drawing on the annals of history, and we will never see them because they aren't politically correct. What's to be done? Hell, I don't have any answers, I'm just an observer.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

We're being conditioned...

In my infrequent viewings of cable television, I have noticed that it is possible to watch some incarnation of "Law and Order" twenty-four hours a day. I have seen numerous episodes of "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" and the "Criminal Intent" version. I've also watched various other cop shows and I have come to this conclusion: America is being conditioned like Pavlov's dogs and the entertainment industry is in on it. No, this is not the paranoid ranting of a fevered brain, this is just the observation of a casual television watcher.

This may take a couple of days to explain so bear with me, but the formula is this: the bad guy commits a heinous crime. The cops, through dedication and hard work manage to determine who the bad guy is (usually a white, male, suburban, three-piece-suit that thinks he's smarter than said cops because he makes seven figures). However, the crime is so heinous, and the bad guy so despicable, that we don't mind, or even notice when the TV cop violates the perp's Constitutional Rights in order to bring him to justice. In fact, we cheer when the bad guy gets roughed up, coerced, and even intimidated into confessing.

So, when cops do these things in real life, it is with the tacit approval of a largely ignorant public. In fact, we have been so conditioned that even when a cop is acting completely outside the law, the average citizen stands there unsure of what to do.

More later.

So Kagan is Confirmed...

Pure political theater. Five Republicans voted for her with the rest choosing to vote against her. Those that voted against her no doubt did so secure in the knowledge that they could do so without effecting the outcome. That means that they could look tough while being able to safely hide behind the fact that their lack of numbers assured her confirmation. If the Republicans had any balls, we would have seen evidence of them when they had a clear-cut majority and Bush was trying to appoint Miguel Estrada and Priscilla Owens to the Supreme Court. Now that they are in the minority, they talk tough, act tough, and try to look tough. But, when it comes time to bust knuckles, they reveal themselves to be the same bunch of pusillanimous lickspittles that infested the GOP during the Bush years.

If, as has been predicted elsewhere, Republicans win a majority of either house in the upcoming mid-term elections, look for them to reveal themselves to be the same bunch of eunuchs that we all know and loathe.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

McWopski's Book Club

My taste in reading can only be described as "eclectic". I read whatever catches my eye. As such, I will be posting links to books I found interesting. I know, I know, I can hear you already, "McWopski! Why would anyone want to read the stuff you read?"

Answer? "Hey, people read the stuff Oprah suggests. What makes her choices any better than mine? It's all subjective and I won't suggest crap like 'Beloved' to you."

Late to the party as usual.

Here it is, my first blog. Since nowadays it seems that everyone with a modem has one, I figured I'd join in the fun and see what happens. I guess on some level, that makes me a writer. To be honest, I always thought people that claimed to be writers, yet had no works published, did so because it was more palatable than saying, "I have a Bachelor of Arts Degree, I'm unemployed and I don't want to work in the fast-food industry."

However, I have to plead guilty to all of the above, except the "...no published works..." part. I actually have had a couple of magazine articles published, but not recently and not in any mainstream publications, so I just barely snaked across the line on that one.

My views are simple: I want the government and everyone else to leave my money, my stuff, and my family alone. I want to be able to mind my own business without having to ask permission from anyone if it's okay to do so, and I want to be able to speak my mind without having to worry if I'm going to be infested with FLEAS (Federal Law Enforcement Agents). I do not condone the initiation of violence against anyone, including the unborn, I don't care what you ingest, who you sleep with, what you eat, or how you worship as long as you extend the same courtesy to me. I believe that force must be met with immediate force of equal or greater lethality, and that a thug would still be a thug whether he wore colors, a mask, or a badge, and, most importantly, I believe that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, but that your Salvation is your own business and I won't inflict my testimony on you unless you ask.

 Ultimately, my goal is to speak into the vast, pixellated, universe and hope a few electrons reach someone that finds it interesting.