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If You Are…You Need a Gun

The “typical” gun owner is often characterized by non-gun-owners as a right-wing, red-neck, beer-guzzling, low-IQ Neanderthal who is just itchin’ to unleash his trigger finger.  But times have changed, and now a whole lot of those non-gun-owners – who used to be dismissive of guns — truly need a firearm, whether you are a Pabst or an Armand de Brignac Brut kind of person.

Because now, it might be a matter of life or death.  Recently in Decatur, Illinois, a teen was arrested for allegedly breaking into his 60-year-old neighbor’s home and trying to kill him because that neighbor is gay.  So if you identify as LGBTQ…you need a gun for protection.  LGBTQ people are nearly four times more likely than non-LGBTQ people to be victims of violent crime. You may never actually have to shoot in self-defense, but then again, why take a chance?

If you identify as a woman…you need a gun for protection.  19.3 million women in the U.S. have been stalked in their lifetime.  1 in 4 have been victims of severe physical violence (e.g. beating, burning, strangling) by an intimate partner in their lifetime.  1 in 7 have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime to the point in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.  1 in 5 have been raped in their lifetime.  You may never actually have to shoot in self-defense, but then again, why take a chance?

Smith & Wesson Model 19

Smith & Wesson Model 19

If you live in a rough neighborhood… you need a gun for protection.  In 2021, 701 men and 90 women were murdered in the Windy City.  640 were black, 29 were white, 105 were Hispanic, and the major determinant was where they lived.  The City of Chicago is installing 426 “Bleeding Control Kits” in 269 buildings across the city.  Officials say the kits could help save lives in an emergency such as falls and penetrating injuries.  Let’s get real; the kits are there to treat gunshot wounds, a tacit admission that the powers that be cannot prevent you from being shot; they have retreated to a position where they “hope” that you will not die from a gunshot wound.

If you live in a rich, safe neighborhood…you need a gun for protection.  875 South Bundy Drive, Brentwood, Los Angeles; case closed.

If you know one or more males in your neighborhood who have violent tempers… you need a gun for protection.  Almost half of all male killers are younger than 25.  Less than one-third of male killers rely on firearms as their weapon of choice.  That means that two-thirds of male murderers use some other means of killing – not firearms.  You can defeat that attempt with a firearm.  Why take a chance?

If you identify as male…you need a gun for protection.  Almost 80% of all murder victims in the U.S. are male.  You may never actually have to shoot in self-defense, but then again, why take a chance?

If you are an Asian-American…you need a gun for protection.  Hate crimes targeting people of Asian descent in the U.S. have skyrocketed, especially in large urban areas, where the legal gun ownership process can be especially onerous.  Determining motivation of a criminal – who is never apprehended – is almost impossible: did the perpetrator rob and kill a Chinese-American store owner because of race or because of the cash register?  You may never actually have to shoot in self-defense, but then again, why take a chance?

If the proponents of gun control ever get their way, it will not be the rich political elites who are murdered; they talk a good game, but live in gated communities, in exclusive neighborhoods, and either have personal security details, or flaunt the law and have their own firearms on the sly.  By denying the means to defend everyone else, the anti-2nd Amendment mob expose themselves as homophobes, anti-woman, racists of all stripes, and whatever fancy term applies to setting up elderly people living alone to be victimized.

A society, country and culture can be measured, in part, by how well it protects the most vulnerable among them, whether they are unborn babies, children, or people who look different, think differently, believe differently or come from different backgrounds.  The right to life; the right to self-defense; are inherent rights of every human being.  No government can legitimately deny you that right.

But they try to.  So if you own a firearm, great.  Make sure you keep it secured.  And help everyone you know learn how to shoot and how to legally obtain a firearm.  Because: man, woman, gay, straight, black, white, Hispanic, Asian-American, atheist, religious, young adult or senior citizen …you need a gun for protection.

If You Are…You Need a Gun2022-05-17T16:15:18-06:00

The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ

Starting in 1963, and continuing to this day, it has become fashionable to disparage everyone who takes an alternative view about an historical event by calling them “A Conspiracy Nut,” or words to that effect.  But always remember, just because something is a conspiracy theory doesn’t mean it wasn’t an actual conspiracy.   If you are one of those that believe everything a network talking head, reading off a teleprompter, tells you, or blows with the winds of popular thought, or who couldn’t follow a line of florescent dots on the floor leading to the bathroom even if you had rampant diarrhea, you need to know that generally if you can reason, think logically, and can connect dots to solve difficult puzzles, you will generally do better in life than if you are unable, or worse unwilling, to do so, because that often translates into being a pawn for those who will take advantage of you.  I hope that I have some small ability to “connect the dots” to find out what really happened in history, especially involving significant crimes.

Part of that stems from serving in the Army, during which I was lucky enough to carry out a tour as an Inspector General for the United States Army Europe – often investigating situations that involved complex facts and human behavior, which often follows patterns of great repetition.  I also have been flat lucky enough to run into evidence and documents that for whatever reason should have been in the public domain, but were not – the most significant of I was able to turn into a book, The Fifth Field: The Story of the 96 American Soldiers Sentenced to Death and Executed in Europe and North Africa in World War II.  If you have followed this website even briefly, you know this work deals with how 96 American soldiers in Europe and North Africa were tried by American General Courts-Martial, convicted by military juries, sentenced to death, executed and buried in an obscure, secret plot at an American military cemetery in France.

While after the book was published, the court-martial records were transferred from a closet to the National Archives, it still appears that one needs a special permission to actually visit the section at the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial outside Seringes-et-Nesles, France.  If you visited there, and were given permission to see the special field where these men are buried, please email me with that information, and I shall include that.

My discovery, however, of what really happened in those significant events pales in comparison to The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ, by Roger Stone.  Now, let us address the obvious: if you do not like Roger Stone, you may use that bias to disbelieve anything and everything he writes or says.  That would be unfortunate for you.

I believe that Stone would never claim to be a professional author, even though he has written six other books, writing has not been his life’s primary work; to make sure he obtained the correct flow, sequencing, level of support documentation and so forth, he enlisted Mike Colapietro, who not only is an excellent writer, but also had practical law enforcement, serving in the Office of the Chief of Staff at the Broward Sheriff’s Office in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Meanwhile Stone, the consummate political insider, talked to numerous government officials during his career beginning in 1972.  Fascinated by the assassination – as were a lot of people our age (Roger is 69; I am 70) since about 1972, he would always ask guys about it, as he did favors for them, including some really high guys.  One “suggested” he not put anything in writing until the 50th anniversary, 2013, when all the folks talking would be dead by then!!!

Stone and Colapietro began this story with a time-tested truism for a murder investigator’s first question, cui bono (who benefits)?  In most cases, that may come to be a life insurance policy with the killer is the beneficiary, or killing a spouse to avoid alimony payments, or the killing of a witness by a defendant in another criminal case so that person cannot testify against the perpetrator.

Stone and Colapietro then expanded that to: who had the most to gain from Kennedy’s death at this moment in 1963, and conversely, who had the most to lose by a second John F. Kennedy presidential term beginning in 1965?  The answers soon became obvious, and maybe you already know the following:

  • Vice-President Johnson wanted to become President, hopefully running in 1968 after John Kennedy’s second term in office. However, Johnson became convinced that Kennedy was planning to dump him from the ticket prior to the election in 1964.  Even worse, law enforcement was closing in on Johnson for several instances of graft and bribery – charges that might go public and lead to an indictment before the end of 1963.  After Johnson assumed the Presidency, the charges went away.  Cui bono?
  • President Kennedy had informed the chief of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), J. Edgar Hoover, that he would face mandatory retirement from that position in 1965. Hoover joined the Justice Department in 1917 and was named director of the Department’s Bureau of Investigation in 1924, which later became the FBI.  Hoover wanted to remain in the job, but was not supported in that request by his immediate boss, Robert F. Kennedy, the U.S. Attorney General and the President’s younger brother.  Vice-President Johnson supported Hoover as FBI chief, and Hoover remained in that position until 1972.  Cui bono?
  • The Mafia provided valuable support at the request to Joe Kennedy, John F. Kennedy’s father, especially in West Virginia and Illinois, in the 1960 election of Kennedy. However, after assuming office, not only did President Kennedy not turn a blind eye toward Mafia activities, he appointed his younger brother Robert as U.S. Attorney General.  Bobby was an existential enemy of the Mafia.  In 1962 alone, Robert Kennedy touted the fact that prosecutions for racketeering by his Organized Crime Section in the Justice Department rose by 300 percent above 1961 and convictions of organized criminals grew by 350 percent.  Kennedy left the Attorney General position just ten months after his brother was killed.  Cui bono?

Using that as a guidepost, the authors concluded that in the end, Vice-President Lyndon Johnson leveraged his personal connections in Texas; and from nationwide organized crime (the Mafia,) and from the federal government – specifically the FBI and the CIA – to form a conspiracy to murder President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.  And he used his influence to personally select the subsequent Warren Commission that would cover up the participants in that crime.

But you don’t have to just take my word for it.  Here are some other comments.  Because far too many people pre-judge a person’s opinion based on political leanings, race, creed, religion or other characteristic, I have omitted names and used only titles.

“A consummate political insider, Roger Stone views the JFK assassination through the prism of a murder investigator’s first question, cui bono (who benefits)?  Stone’s shocking answer is that the primary suspect has been hiding in plain sight for 50 years: LBJ.  A riveting account.” – Former U.S. Attorney

“Any serious student of politics or history should read Roger Stone’s stunning new book The Man Who Killed Kennedy.” – Judge

“Roger Stone nails LBJ for JFK murder!” – Journalist, Filmmaker

“Stone’s book will change American history forever!” – Historian

Do yourself a favor that will change your viewpoint, because the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963 fundamentally changed this country, and not for the better.  Read The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ.

The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ2022-04-18T14:58:25-06:00

Kudos for The Fifth Field

U.S. Supreme Court

Kudos for The Fifth Field are still coming in and are reaffirming that this book will not only shed a light on one of the last great mysteries of World War II, but might also serve as a focal point for a much-needed national discussion on the future of the death penalty.  The author has received wonderful letters from FOUR United States Supreme Court Justices, the deans of Harvard Law, Columbia Law and Stanford Law Schools, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Judge Advocate General of the United States Army.  One of the Supreme Court Justices noted, “I was not familiar with the events recounted in the book.”  One of the deans wrote, “It will reward serious reading,” while another dean added, “I look forward …to learning more about the soldiers you have so tirelessly researched and bring to life their stories.”  On the military side, one General Officer wrote, “This will be very thought provoking,” while a second General Officer opined, “Your demonstrated commitment to the individual lives of Soldiers and the military justice system is truly commendable.”

Perhaps the most poignant comment was made by the child of one of the men who did not come home from the war — one of the 96 described in The Fifth Field.  The descendant, now in old age, said, “God bless you, Colonel; for 65 years, no one would tell me where my father is buried.”

Kudos for The Fifth Field2021-12-31T21:23:08-06:00

Tom Ward

Tom Ward and the author

Thomas J. Ward, 96, of New Cumberland, passed away on Sunday, December 19, 2021 in his residence with his loving family at his side.  He was retired from the New Cumberland Army Depot, and was formerly a Foreman with Miller & Norford Construction Contractors, Lemoyne.  Tom attended Christian Life Assembly, Camp Hill; was a member of the Order of the Purple Heart; and a master craftsman working with wood, stone and small engines.  Anyone who needed anything fixed would bring it to Tom.  He was born in Lemoyne, the son of the late John C. and Edith (Grey) Ward.  He was also preceded in death by a daughter and a son, Jonette Ward and Jeffrey Martin and siblings, Elva, Romaine, Vance, Tennis, Robert, Margaret, Richard and Preston.  Tom is survived by his loving wife of more than 43 years, Winifred (Shuff) Ward; children, Thomas J. Ward, Jr. of Coudersport, Barbara Fontaine of Athol, ID, John Ward of Camp Hill, Christine McGee of Harrisburg and Karen Martin of Mechanicsburg; grandchildren, Allen, Thomas, Tony, John, Lainie, Cameron, Jeremy, Joshua, Heather and Taylor; thirteen great grandchildren; and two great-great grandchildren.  Funeral services were held on Monday, December 27, 2021 in Parthemore Funeral Home & Cremation Services, New Cumberland.

Born on June 9, 1925 at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Tom enlisted on September 2, 1943 and was assigned to Company I, 23rd Infantry Regiment in the Second U.S. Infantry Division.  An Infantry sergeant, Tom was decorated with four Purple Hearts, the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman Badge and numerous campaign awards, having served in Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland and Ardennes-Alsace.  After his fourth wound, he departed the 2nd Infantry Division in 1945 and reported to the Loire Disciplinary Training Center, where he served as the supply sergeant.

Loire Disciplinary Training Center.  Sergeant Tom Ward on left

At Le Mans, Tom was John Woods, the U.S. Army hangman in Europe, closest friend, often going downtown in the evening for a beer together, although they never discussed at the pubs what happened inside the center.  He recalled that the day before each execution, Woods would walk to the supply room to get the rope and black hood that would be used in the upcoming event; a new rope was used for each hanging, although Woods would use each black hood several times.  He also recalled that many of the executions occurred just before noon, when many of the men in the stockade – not involved in the execution – were standing in line outside the mess hall for lunch, and when the trap door opened, the motion was so violent and unique that the loud noise could be heard throughout the DTC and this distinctive sound spoiled many a man’s appetite.  Later, Master Sergeant Woods even asked Tom to be his assistant hangman, but the quiet sergeant from Pennsylvania had seen enough death and declined.

Without his help, American Hangman could not have been written.  But in addition to his historical knowledge, Tom was one of the most decent human beings I have ever known.  A tough soldier, he unleashed hell on a German defensive position after one of his men had been killed in the ongoing combat.  And later, Tom once knocked out a fellow American sergeant with one punch for calling him a REMF.  But Tom also had compassion for everyone he met in life who had things harder than he did.  During the war, Thomas Ward broke regulations and gave army blankets to refugees he met on his supply runs from Le Mans to Le Havre during the cold winter of 1944-45, and seventy years after the war ended, he was still hopeful that they had survived and went on to have a happy life.

Congratulations Sergeant Ward.  Yours was a life well-lived.

Tom Ward2022-04-18T14:55:56-06:00

Is Dr. Anthony Fauci Really a Dr. Josef Mengele?

Josef Mengele

A new book The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., says that Dr. Anthony Fauci is America’s Joseph Mengele for what he did to poor orphan minority kids in the 1980s, specifically that Dr. Fauci tested harsh chemotherapy drugs on orphan children in order to determine their potential for AIDS treatments; that he got control of foster homes in 7 states that served as sources for the youngsters; that these children were denied guardians and any kind of legal protector; that most of the children did not have HIV/AIDS, they were just used as guinea pigs to see if they could survive the harsh drug regimen; and that as a result, at least 85 children died as part of these experiments.

The selection ramp at Auschwitz. The column on the left will head directly to the gas chambers. The column on the right will enter the camp and be worked to death. Mengele is the officer in the right-center.  He is looking for twins.

I do not know how true these allegations are, but I do know who Dr. Josef Mengele was and you should know about him also or this comparison means nothing.

Josef Mengele, also known as the “Angel of Death,” was a German Waffen-SS captain and physician during World War II.  For decades after the war, and continuing today in some circles, the fable has remained alive that the SS personnel who served in the concentration camps were somehow different from their honorable brethren, who fought at the frontline in the Waffen-SS, in units.  Thus, those in the combat units have earned a pass from some historians, who believed the former Waffen-SS General Paul Hausser story Soldaten wie andere auch (Soldiers Like Any Other.)

But Hausser was incorrect.  As The Camp Men demonstrates with irrefutable proof from the official SS personnel file for each officer, almost half of the concentration camp officers also served in Waffen-SS combat divisions.  Mengele served in the 5th Waffen-SS Division in Russia.

But the real shocker is how many physicians, like Mengele, in Germany supported the Nazi Party.  More than 38,000 doctors, nearly half of all the physicians in Germany, joined the Nazi Party.  None were forced to join; they saw it as an opportunity to advance their careers.  At least 316 doctors served in the concentration camps, as well as at least 57 dentists.

Before the war, Mengele had received doctorates in anthropology and medicine, and began a career as a researcher.  He joined the Nazi Party in 1937 and the SS in 1938.  In early 1943, assigned to the Auschwitz concentration camp, he saw the opportunity to conduct genetic research on human subjects.  His experiments focused primarily on twins, with no regard for their health or safety; many died.  Mengele later served at the Gross-Rosen concentration camp.  But don’t take it from me; here are a few quotes from The Angel of Death:

“It would not be humanitarian to send a child to the ovens without permitting the mother to be there to witness the child’s death.”  The ovens here refer to the crematoria at Auschwitz, where the dead were burned.

“I don’t have anything to hide.  Terrible things happened at Auschwitz, and I did my best to help.  One could not do everything.  There were terrible disasters there.  I could only save so many.  I never killed anyone or hurt anyone.”

“Scientists have always been able to study twins after they have been born together.  But only in the Third Reich can Science examine twins who have died together.”

SS-Hauptsturmführer Josef Mengele; Mengele served in the 5th Waffen-SS Division Wiking, winning the Iron Cross 1st Class, before transferring to Auschwitz and subsequently Gross-Rosen.  

Josef Mengele drowned in 1979 after suffering a stroke while swimming off the coast of Bertioga, Brazil and was buried under the false name of Wolfgang Gerhard.  Dozens of Nazi doctors did not escape justice and were hanged after the war for Crimes Against Humanity.  You can read about some of them in American Hangman.

Maybe Anthony Fauci had nothing to do with the orphans and AIDS experiments on children at all; if so, Mr. Kennedy owes him an immense apology.  Maybe Dr. Fauci did play a role, but believed that their suffering, and the death of many of them, would do a greater good for mankind as a whole.  But as the International Military Tribunal (IMT) in Nuremberg, Germany showed after the war, their are limits to medical experimentation covered in Crimes Against Humanity.  And if the allegations in Kennedy’s book are accurate, in my opinion those experiments were clearly in in violation of that category.

If you have any actual information about the New York experiments, you can stand up for these kids — who could not stand up for themselves.  If you are reluctant to contact Children’s Health Defense at 1227 North Peachtree Pkwy, Suite 202 in Peachtree City, GA 30269 at 202-618-2477, contact this website and I’ll forward your evidence.

Is Dr. Anthony Fauci Really a Dr. Josef Mengele?2022-02-16T18:27:21-06:00

Versatility – A Jack for All Trades

In regione caecorum rex est luscus

In the Land of the Blind, the One-eyed Man is King

Versatility – A Jack for All Trades

Glock 40 MOS 10mm

You’ve heard the phrase: “A Jack of All Trades, Master of None.”  However, in the world of firearms, versatility – the quality of being useful for or easily adapted to various tasks, styles, and fields of endeavor – often means that a single weapon can be a Master for All Situations.

It may not be a function of caliber, nor the capacity of the magazine, or the optic on top.  It is a function of ammunition.  And there are two weapons that stand head and shoulders above most others in this respect – the shotgun and the 10mm pistol.

The ubiquitous shotgun; it has been around for over 400 years and is often called a scattergun, or historically as a fowling piece.  Calibers have been many; for this discussion we will stick with the always-popular 12 gauge and what a variety of ammunition we have!

Birdshot is probably the most common type of 12-gauge shotgun load, comes in at least 12 sizes, and allows hunters to target small to medium game (or skeet and trap shooters to hit clay “birds.”)  For birdshot, the larger the number, the smaller the pellet (size 8 has more, but smaller diameters of pellets than a size 6, for example.)  But wait!  Many 12 gauge shotguns now come with the ability to fire three chamber sizes – 2.75-inch, 3-inch and 3.5-inch.  The longer the size, the more pellets there are inside, plus the velocity is often higher which extends the range a bit.  Then there is BB shot that comes in at least 3 sizes, used for larger birds like ducks and geese.

Leaving the search for aerial targets and going to the ground gets us into buckshot and there are five rounds in that (#4 buck, #1 buck, 0 buck, 00 buck and 000 buck.)  For example, #00 buckshot throws eight or nine balls (some magnum loads contain 12-15 balls!), #1 buckshot holds 16 and #4 buckshot has 24 to 27 balls.  Then there are the “tweeners” like T-shot that I put in the category of hunting large waterfowl like geese.

Finally are the slugs that are used for deer, and really any other large game; some hunting guides even opine that a 12-gauge slug is the best antidote for an attacking bear.  Almost every 12 gauge round can kill a man; there are tragic hunting accidents every year involving even very small size birdshot rounds.  For the intentional dispatching of an armed criminal trying to kill you, buckshot is probably the best way to go.  The versatility comes in when analyzing the environment of the shot.  Inside the home or outside?  Is the attacker on foot on in a motor vehicle?  Behind a barrier?  What is the expected distance between you and your would-be killer?  More than one assailant?  There will be an optimum-size shotgun round for every situation.  That is what gives it the ultimate in versatility.

But you know that already.  The second weapon with immense versatility is the 10mm pistol – which you may not be familiar with – and it also centers on the large variety of ammunition available for it.  MidwayUSA lists sixty-six 10mm rounds (unfortunately most have to be back-ordered, but that’s a different issue.)  By my count, 10mm rounds range in weight from 100 grains to 220 grains, which is close to a .380 auto round weight on the small end, to a .44 Magnum on the large end.

10mm rounds come in various bullet shapes, each with a different purpose in mind: hard-cast-flat-nose and lead-round-nose for large game hunting; jacketed-hollow-point, full-metal-jacket, “fluted”; bonded-jacketed-hollow-point; and fragmenting-hollow-point; full-metal-jacket-flat-nose.

Just a few 10mm options

But it is velocity that provides even more versatility.  Muzzle velocities range from about 1030 feet-per-second to 1875 feet-per-second.  There is one type of round, an RBCD Performance Plus out of San Antonio, that advertises a 10mm 77 grain total-fragmenting-soft-point that comes out of the muzzle at 2420 feet-per-second, but I can’t find any for sale, which might be a good thing.

What versatility does velocity provide you?  Well, in potentially crowded urban areas, in a self-defense situation where you don’t want your bullet going through your erstwhile killer – and subsequently killing an innocent person, you can do your homework and pick the round type and velocity to ensure it doesn’t “over-penetrate.”  In rural areas, you can use heavier and faster rounds, because you are not concerned with bystanders, but are concerned about dangerous four-legged animals, as well as two-legged ones.

I wish I had figured out the versatility of a 10mm years ago.  I have been firing a 12-gauge shotgun for four decades and a 10mm (with 18 different ammunition types and speeds) for just four weeks.  But who says an old dog can’t learn new tricks?

Versatility – A Jack for All Trades2021-12-31T20:22:48-06:00

Bonnie and Clyde

In regione caecorum rex est luscus

In the Land of the Blind, the One-eyed Man is King

Bonnie and Clyde

Lately I have been reading a lot about the days of Bonnie and Clyde, and what we can learn from back then.

The country was a mess.  This “Public Enemy Era” spanned from 1931 through 1935, during the depths of the Great Depression that crushed the economy, and the Dust Bowl – a period of severe dust storms that greatly damaged the agricultural output of the American and Canadian prairies – that caused mass hunger.  10,000 banks went out of business, taking $3 billion of depositor’s life savings with them, leaving account holders penniless.  With 80% unemployment in some areas, those unfortunates would remain destitute, unless they took matters into their own hands, and some turned to crime.

Today, rampant government spending is out of control, leading to increasing inflation that steals buying power.  We have some wealthy people, but as I travel around the U.S. – my latest trek a 1,081-mile drive from Decatur, Illinois to Worcester, Massachusetts, I’ve seen a lot of help-wanted signs; undocumented illegal aliens working for far less than minimum wage; obscenely-high gas prices; rental cars that have over 40,000 miles on them and are in constant need of maintenance yet sometimes costing $100 a day; and infrastructure problems (read bad roads, run-down bridges) that will remain poor, because these big spending programs always end up targeting pet projects of the rich and voting constituencies of the lazy.

For the first two years – 1931-1933 – it was a stupid era.  Prohibition in the United States, beginning in 1920 and ending in 1933, was a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages.  While some people regarded the attack on alcohol as a noble cause, an overwhelming number did not, and Prohibition single-handedly caused tens of millions of Americans to view the law as lacking any moral obligation to follow it; they became felons overnight and they felt no remorse at doing so.  This disregard for law and order became a cancer in society; one day citizens refused to follow Prohibition; the next they began to support organized crime to provide the illegal goods they wanted.

Today’s version of Prohibition aims at stripping Americans of their right to bear arms, another stupid idea.  Were it to get close to happening, tens of millions of us – maybe more – will become felons overnight, because we will not comply, and organized crime will start a shipping tsunami of firearms into the country, just like it did booze.

Bonnie and Clyde

For the first years of Bonnie and Clyde, most regular folks hated the police and were on the side of the renegades, even though they were a far cry from modern day Robin Hoods portrayed in movies.  It was only after several murders of police, including one trooper on his first day of the job and another scheduled to be married in three weeks before he was cut down by Clyde in cold blood – the bride-to-be wore her wedding dress to her fiancée’s funeral – that attitudes toward the police changed.

Today, police are equally disrespected – mostly in big cities from Portland to Atlanta.  I’d like to think that Champaign Police Department Officer Chris Oberheim didn’t die in vain, and it seems like many folks in central Illinois know that too, but this country is in a whole lot of trouble right now with its negative view of the thin blue line.  What doesn’t help is when senior FBI personnel start helping one political party against another, though.

There’s another takeaway from Bonnie and Clyde.  In our era of concealed carry and the ubiquitous Glock-this and Glock-that, maybe we put too much emphasis on pistolcraft – not that we shouldn’t be proficient with these weapons.  But Clyde Barrow didn’t terrorize people with a pistol; he did it with Browning Automatic Rifles, BARs, whose .30-06 rounds would go through one side of a car and out the other, killing anyone in between.  And when the law finally did catch-up with Bonnie and Clyde one morning on a Louisiana dusty dirt road, what put finis to the two marauders were a couple of Remington Model 8s, a BAR, a Colt Monitor, and some Remington Model 11 semi-automatic 12-gauge “riot guns”.

Texas Ranger Frank Hamer (played by Kevin Costner in the excellent movie The Highway Men), who led the posse that nailed Bonnie and Clyde, was a big believer in the old phrase, “A handgun is for fighting your way to a long gun you shouldn’t have left behind.”  While he was an excellent shot with a .45 Colt and a .44 Special, mostly it was a long gun that got Frank’s bacon out of the fire.  We might want to consider that today.

 

Bonnie and Clyde2021-12-24T11:33:22-06:00

Satellites

In regione caecorum rex est luscus

In the Land of the Blind, the One-eyed Man is King

Don’t Look Up — Satellites 

Osama bin Laden’s Compound — A Good Use of Satellites

In the Land of the Blind, what if a few men had a billion eyes?  What would we call them?  Well, we’re about to find out.  In one of my old jobs, I used to surf the net and pick out 20 articles per week, copy them, put them in seventeen binders and provide those binders to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, the Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration, the Commandant of the United States Coast Guard and fourteen other folks around Washington, DC.  All the articles were “open source” – unclassified – the key was knowing where to look for pieces of information they needed to make decisions, and probably wouldn’t get this info from their subordinates who processed data in traditional Washington ways, where sometimes the boss doesn’t find out what’s going on.  Think Swamp.

Nowadays, sometimes I go geeky and surf around like the good old days, and I found this article from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) which is full of geeky folks researching geeky things.  Its about satellites; how there are at least 768 commercial ones up there zooming around; how US federal regulations limit images taken by commercial satellites to a resolution of 25 centimeters, about the length of a man’s shoe; how their orbits pass over every place on Earth sometimes 15 times a day.  Then it discussed a company called BlackSky Global that promises to have their satellites fly over most major cities up to 70 times a day.  As MIT says: “That might not be enough to track an individual’s every move, but it would show what times of day someone’s car is typically in the driveway.”

Now go to Google Earth Pro.  Type in your address, and voila you’ll see your house from above.  But what is really interesting is it has a feature that shows you the overhead views beginning many years ago.  Look to see how the resolution gets better over time; what you couldn’t see in 1995, you sure can see in 2010; and what you couldn’t see in 2010, you can see now; that evolution isn’t going to stop.

That’s just commercial; military and national intelligence satellites (ours and other nations) have resolutions and linked recognition software that make commercial satellites seem tame.  In an open source, US astronomer Clifford Stoll,  former systems administrator at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, remarked that a really good satellite platform, orbiting at 155 miles up, could have a resolution of “a couple of inches.  Not quite good enough to recognize a face.”  But that disclosure was several years ago, and technology always marches on.

That’s just satellites.  What about ground imaging cameras?  Well, it is estimated that by the end of this year, there will be 1 Billion ground imaging cameras on Earth.  That is one camera for every eight people.  You may well have some in your home security system, or the trail cameras you set up to spot that Boone and Crockett Club record buck you just “know” is out there.

However the revolution in electronic security is not in image producers; it is in image interpreters – the artificial intelligence (AI) systems that are lashed up with the cameras.  Let’s look at the Chinese, pardon the pun.  The security system for the city of Guiyang, about 3,500,000 people, has the image of every single resident.  The cameras read faces, and the AI estimates age, gender, and ethnicity and matches every face with an ID card that every Chinese must have.  Chinese engineer Yin Jun says that the system can “trace all your movements back one week in time.  We can match your face with your car…match you with your relatives and the people you’re in touch with.”

A recent exercise, monitored by the BBC, took seven minutes for the system to identify and surround a new visitor to Guiyang.  But it gets better.  It appears that AI now includes Emotion Recognition to track traits such as facial muscle movements, vocal tone, and body movements in order to infer a person’s feelings.  Perhaps that could be used to incarcerate a person before they commit a crime – arresting them for their thoughts!

A few months ago, we attended a wedding held outside.  During the service, I heard this buzzing above my head.  Thinking it was a hornet, I looked up, but it was a small drone taking photos of the wedding, mine included.  Then I wondered: what else is up there, so high no one would ever know it is there, or its purpose?  Was it also looking at me?  Does it know my name?  Does it know what I am thinking?

Satellites2021-09-21T13:55:51-06:00

Dare to Dream

Luis Ángel Colón World Record Cuatro

Sometimes you run across a person with a special talent, and even if you don’t know that individual well, you want success for them.  Such is the case of Luis Ángel Colón, whom I met while researching for maybe a new novel on Puerto Rico.  He lives in a modern, wooden house high on a hill outside Barranquitas.  He built the house because that is what Luis does – build incredible things with wood.  Not only houses, he may be the best craftsman currently constructing the Cuatro Puertorriqueño.  Known as a Cuatro for short, it is Puerto Rico’s most popular melodic instrument, and is played in both secular and religious music.  It sort of looks like a violin, or more accurately a violin-shaped guitar.  The Cuatro originally had four double-strings (hence cuatro for four) but at the end of the nineteenth century a fifth was added as its popularity rose on the island.

Cuatro by Luis Ángel Colón

Luis’ Cuatros are wonderful instruments, but don’t take my word for it.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City [Accession Number: 2003.216.1] has one of Luis’ creations.  An artist himself, Luis is proud when Cuatro-players around the island tell him what a great instrument he has made for them.

But like almost all artists, Luis dreams big and at first that meant creating the world’s largest-playable Cuatros, which he did several years ago.  The result was a 30 foot-long, Puerto Rican cuatro that weighs 1.4 tons.  Up to 15 people can fit inside Luis’ giant instrument, which you can actually tune, and play its chords with a giant guitar pick.  However, Luis is not finished.  In addition to building a second house, crafting exquisite  regular-size Cuatros, and also producing the Guiro Clásico Puertorriqueño, Guiro, a hollowed out gourd, about sixteen inches long, that has been dried and treated so that it can be used as an instrument.  Notches are carved on one side of the gourd, and the musician uses a stick or tines to create various raspy tones.  Johnny Pacheco was a famous Guiro player.  Janis Joplin was a famous singer who tried to play the Guiro, they key word being tried.

Guiro by Luis Ángel Colón

“Do It Again,” by Steely Dan, has prominent Guiro tones, as does “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing,” by Stevie Wonder.  If you are a Santana fan, you know all about this instrument; “I Ain’t Got Nobody That I Can Depend On” is a great one, as is “Guajira.”

Luis’ Dream — A Cuatro Museum and Restaurant

However, Luis has his sights set higher…much higher.  He has begun to organize architectural drawings of an entire building shaped as a Cuatro, possibly solar powered, here in Puerto Rico, that might be able to serve as a combination Cuatro museum and restaurant (with dishes named after parts of the Cuatro) in a unique fusion of music and food.  Luis Colón just might have an idea for you.

Create your own dream by checking out Luis’s dreams.  If you are a guitar player, broaden your horizons with your own Cuatro, maybe even one built by him.  Play along with Stevie, or Carlos and Jorge Santana with your own Guiro – you can get a good one for a very reasonable price.

Or just maybe you want to spend some quality time down in the Caribbean and want to open a one-of-a-kind restaurant.

Dare to Dream2021-09-04T16:54:41-06:00

West Point, Class of 1974

1974

Admitted

1967 – 1

1968 – 1

1969 – 12

1970 – 819

Graduated – 833

Time at West Point:

Upon arriving at West Point in the summer of 1970, the question every new cadet tacitly pondered was whether they would serve in Vietnam at some point during their time in service.  The country was deeply divided over the war, and nationwide anti-war demonstrations came to a tragic climax with the killing of four and wounding of nine other unarmed Kent State University students by the Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970.  Despite division over the war, 1377 new cadets entered the Academy out of over 6,000 applicants.  On his way to perform for the troops in Vietnam, Bob Hope and his entourage, stopped at West Point on December 15, 1970, for a special Christmas show.  And on May 29, 1971, President Nixon visited the academy with a message of assurance that no graduates from the Class of 1974 would be deployed to Vietnam, although this news was a little late for our future First Captain Jack Pattison, who had fought on Hamburger Hill in that conflict before attending the Prep School and subsequently West Point.

French & Dad at Graduation; it had been a LONG way from Summer School for Chemistry

While most of the class members were on summer leave, a few to summer school, army orientation training, or airborne school, a federal appeals court ruled on June 30, 1972, that mandatory chapel was unconstitutional, thus ending a years-long tradition at West Point.  On July 1, 1973, President Nixon fulfilled a re-election promise by ending the draft and ushering in the era of an all-volunteer army.  Distinguished scholars among the 833 graduates included Andrew Green and Thomas Downar recognized with the Hertz Foundation Award; Dwight Helton and Willis Marti awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship; Kerry Pierce awarded the Rhodes Scholarship; and Michael Reopel awarded a White House Fellowship.

Dave Petraeus and fiancée at graduation

Environment upon Graduation:

The Class of 1974 entered a peacetime Army divided between draftees and enlistees who served in Vietnam, and volunteers who had no combat experience.  Graduates were immediately challenged to address post-war issues such as low morale, racial tensions, and unit readiness as the Army transitioned from the Vietnam war to more defensive missions in Western Europe and South Korea.  The class also provided exemplary leadership regarding the integration and development of women into combat support units.  Missions and training broadened to include desert warfare in anticipation of conflicts in the Middle East.

Receiving Diploma from Superintendent, Lieutenant General William Knowlton. The “Supe” was probably more surprised than I was!

Career Highlights:

Members of the Class of 1974 served in assignments around the globe and played a key role in providing frontline combat leadership in the Gulf War (1990-1991), the Iraq War (2003-2011), and the Global War on Terror.  No members of the Class were killed in action or died while in captivity.  Twenty-five members of the Class became General Officers, including four 4-star generals, three 3-star, eleven 2-star, and seven 1-star.  Completing over forty years of active service, GEN Martin “Marty” Dempsey served as the 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from October 1, 2011, until September 25, 2015.  GEN Keith Alexander, serving in the United States Army for nearly forty years, served as director of the National Security Agency, chief of the Central Security Service, and commander of the United States Cyber Command.  GEN David “Dave” Petraeus served as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency after serving 37 years in the United States Army.  Highlighting nearly thirty-seven years of service in the United States Army, GEN Walter “Skip” Sharp last served as the Commander, United Nations Command, Commander, ROK-US Combined Forces Command and Commander, U.S. Forces Korea.  After retiring as a Colonel, Matthew S. “Matt” Klimow (who was Keith Alexander’s roommate at West Point) went into the U. S. State Department; his career there culminated as the U.S. Ambassador to Turkmenistan.  Keith Alexander, Marty Dempsey, and Skip Sharp were each awarded the USMA Distinguished Graduate Award in 2016, 2017, and 2019, respectively.

West Point, Class of 19742021-06-28T19:22:58-06:00
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