Tuesday, December 16, 2014

On this day in history

December 16th, 1944, Hitler launched his last chance offensive hoping to knock the Anglo-American alliance off the European continent. The Abwehr reported that the American lines were stretched thin, especially through the Ardennes, with many green units that had seen little or no combat.

It is unknown whether the Germans were aware that the American tactical reserve consisted mostly of the 82d and 101st Airborne Divisions, recuperating from Operation Market-Garden, let alone that the strategic reserve amounted to whatever "ash and trash" were awaiting assignment in Repple-Depple.

Certainly the German command was unaware that the allies were reading "Ultra Intercepts" of their (presumably) most secret communications; regardless, Hitler directed that all traffic regarding the 12/16/44 attack was to be couriered, eyes-only. Most of the Anglo-American command interpreted the minimal radio traffic as proof that the Germans were planning to hunker down for the winter...

Hitler and his minions made the ever-popular mistake of forgetting that, just because the American Soldier may, taken as an average, may be a reluctant warrior, he is still an American, and the only thing he hates more than losing is quitting and leaving a job undone.

Units were smashed, but individuals rallied, held, and fought. Mistakes were made, but recovered from. The attack was held off, defeated, and, on the end, German combat power that was too scarce to start with was wasted.  If the Battle of Britain was the Royal Air Force's Finest Hour, then the recovery from the Battle of the Bulge qualifies as the US Army's in WW2 Europe.

Written on my phone on the way to work, minor editing when I got home to a beer and a real computer.
After I posted the above I found this: 
The Real Reason Hitler Launched the Battle of the Bulge, "this" being an interview with a British historian who has written a book about the Battle of the Bulge. (This in itself a a bit odd, since British participation in the battle was largely Montgomery taking credit for the achievements of a few US units which were temporarily attached to  his 21st Army Group for logistical support.)

Anyway, Peter Caddick-Adams opines that Hitler launched his offensive in order to establish his dominance over the OKW.

I don't buy it. Hitler felt no compunctions whatsoever about liquidating generals and overriding their decisions. Certainly by this time in the war he had no more than a nodding relationship with reality, and almost certainly believed that a master stroke would knock the US and Great Britain off the continent, and possibly out of the war.

Caddick-Adams also makes note of George Patton's Third Army's remarkable pivoting from an eastward orientation to counter-attach to the north; what he leaves out is that Paton was one of the few in on the Ultra intercepts who did not entirely rely on same; while the rest of the allied command was content to assume that the Germans were in winter quarters,he had his staff prepare contingency plans for reacting to various counter-attack scenarios. (Preparing contingency plans is just good practice for staff personnel who would otherwise have little to do other than stick pins in "Current Situation" maps and inventorying socks...)

Anyway, an interesting and timely interview of a book that sounds interesting as well.  I'll see if the local library has it.

Yet another Internet Gun Control Poll

At PBS, no less, and it seems to be fairly straightforward.
Poll: Would you support more restrictive gun laws in your state?
  1. Yes. Increased regulations on firearms are necessary to prevent another tragedy like the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary.  
  2. No. Laws like this unnecessarily punish lawful gun owners and will do little to prevent mass shootings. 
  3. Unsure. It's important to keep the weapons out of the wrong hands, but this may not be the solution.   
Obviously, vote only once. 'Cuz Ghu knows, the progressive statists will never, ever cheat on any kind of voting...

Friday, December 12, 2014

I'm a genius!

So, earlier this week Mrs. Drang called me at the Salt Mines and asked if I'd noticed anything odd when doing my laundry last week. The dryer wasn't drying; it was tumbling, but at ambient temperature.

Long story short, the vent hose got crimped and the dryer overheated, tripping a protective switch.

Good news, the switch is resettable, not a fuse requiring replacement.

Bad news, it's inside the machine, and we had no literature indicating that, so appliance repair man to the rescue again.  (This makes the second or third time this year, must be warranty expiration time...) Anyway, he was kind enough to show me how to remove the back and top (!) panels so I could access the switch if this happens again, and we also traced the problem with the hose.

Anyway, the non-Executive Summary version is that when we had the house remodeled before moving in, the sub-contractor who installed the washer dryer combo stack* probably recognized that the hole in the wall for the vent was not aligned with the new dryer, and rather than re-cut the hole, used an angle joint and flex hose, and did not trim the hose to length. The hose was pinched, eventually lint built up, and eventually dryer overheated. Having that hole-for-the-vent thing fixed is now on the list, but not the budget for now.

What led to the conclusion in the post title is that I was trying to figure out a way to check the alignment of the hose and hole combination (for reasons too tedious to list, we can't go with an entirely hard duct) and was pondering the arrangement of inspection mirrors that would be necessary...

...When it occurred to me that one could use a cell phone on a selfie-stick instead of an inspection mirror.

*"Washer/dryer stack": Due to limited square footage, we got stackable full-size front loading washer and dryer.  The top of the dryer is even with my head, but Mrs. Drang can reach the controls. But the repair man had to boost me up to the top of the dryer to be able to see behind the stack to check the hose condition.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Washington State violates the Letter of Initiative 594

EDITED TO ADD:  It would probably have been more accurate to title this post "Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife Announces Intent to Violate Letter of Law, Support of One Percenters Endorsement of Selective Enforcement"  But that would have been absurd...

Apparently, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife has sent out a letter to Hunters Safety Instructors regarding how Initiative 594 impacts them. Full text is here, Joe has an excerpt describing the way DFW says Hunters Safety classes will be conducted in order to avoid falling afoul of the law at at I-594 fears confirmed | The View From North Central Idaho.

Here's the rub: When I went to read the full text of the DFW's letter at the first link, I saw this:
•  I-594 exempts all law enforcement agencies from the background check/transfer requirement. WDFW, as a general authority Washington law enforcement agency pursuant to RCW 10.93.020(1), is therefore exempt from this requirement.  Any firearms purchase, sale or transfer to or from WDFW or WDFW employees when acting within the scope of their authority, is exempt from the background check/transfer requirement in I-594.
•   The Hunter Education Program is a WDFW program authorized by state law pursuant to RCW 77.32.155(1)(a).  Hunter Education Instructors, when in formal volunteer status for WDFW and acting within the scope of their authority for purposes of the Hunter Education Program, act on behalf of WDFW, and are therefore exempt from the background check/transfer requirements.  This exemption extends to Hunter Education Instructors whether or not they are actually in the classroom, provided that they are in formal volunteer status for WDFW and acting within the scope of their authority for purposes of the Hunter Education Program.
Emphasis added; essentially, DFW is claiming that any of their employees are Law Enforcement Officers under the definition of the law. Unfortunately for DFW, Initiative 594 defines Law Enforcement as follows:
Section 2(11) "Law enforcement officer" includes a general authority Washington peace officer as defined in RCW 10.93.020, or a specially commissioned Washington peace officer as defined in RCW 10.93.020. "Law enforcement officer" also includes a limited authority Washington peace officer as defined in RCW 10.93.020 if such officer is duly authorized by his or her employer to carry a concealed pistol.
Consulting Section 10.93.020 of the Revised Code of Washington, we learn the following:
 (3) "General authority Washington peace officer" means any full-time, fully compensated and elected, appointed, or employed officer of a general authority Washington law enforcement agency who is commissioned to enforce the criminal laws of the state of Washington generally.
(4) "Limited authority Washington peace officer" means any full-time, fully compensated officer of a limited authority Washington law enforcement agency empowered by that agency to detect or apprehend violators of the laws in some or all of the limited subject areas for which that agency is responsible. A limited authority Washington peace officer may be a specially commissioned Washington peace officer if otherwise qualified for such status under this chapter.
(5) "Specially commissioned Washington peace officer", for the purposes of this chapter, means any officer, whether part-time or full-time, compensated or not, commissioned by a general authority Washington law enforcement agency to enforce some or all of the criminal laws of the state of Washington, who does not qualify under this chapter as a general authority Washington peace officer for that commissioning agency, specifically including reserve peace officers.... A reserve peace officer is an individual who is an officer of a Washington law enforcement agency who does not serve such agency on a full-time basis but who, when called by the agency into active service, is fully commissioned on the same basis as full-time peace officers to enforce the criminal laws of the state.

Again, emphasis added; I don't believe that Hunters Safety Instructors are empowered to enforce any laws. Do they get handcuffs when they are certified? Badge and a gun?

Thing is, this whole POS of a law is full of land mines and traps for the well-meaning honest person, and every time we bring them up, we're told "Oh, don't worry, that's not the intent, no one will ever dream of enforcing that!"


Here's a fun fact: I-594 defines a "firearm" thus:
(9) "Firearm" means a weapon or device from which a projectile or projectiles may be fired by an explosive such as gunpowder.
Tomorrow being my day off, I am going to go to Lowe's and Home Depot and ask about the procedures they have in place to conduct a background check on persons wanting to purchase a powder-actuated  power tool.

Then I'll call some local contractors and ask if their employees provide their own tools, and, if not, what is the procedure they follow to ensure that anyone handling powder-actuated tools on their work sites are authorized to handle them. Any of your employees non-US citizens? Any felony convictions, for, say, drug use?  How about misdemeanor convictions for domestic violence?

Then I'll call a few boating supply stores and pursue the same line of questioning re: flare guns.

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Warm Welcome

This is what greeted me when I got home from work last night/this morning:
Touching, ain't it, the excitement with which they greet me? Minnie in my chair, Sparrowbane on my laptop.  Might as well have my apres work beer in the shower...

Friday, November 28, 2014

Commie, please

Because Black Friday isn't already stressful enough for anyone who can't just stay at home, the folks who gave us this:
From VFTP: The Protocols of the Elders of WTF?
That's right, I'm outside of Seattle embedding a photo about idiots here from a blogpost written in Indianapolis.
also brought us this:Police: Seattle protester had cache of weapons in car, in which it was revealed that one of the Social Justice Warriors had a Taurus and a cheap Chicom knife on him, and a shotgun and semi-automatic rifle in his car. (But no carry permit.) Also a barbecue lighter and "powerful fireworks."  And some granola bars.

I'm surprised they didn't say he had an arsenal cached in his car, but I digress.

Today, we got this: Ferguson demonstrators march in Seattle | Seattle Times, in which it is revealed that the local Social Justice Warriors honored the memory of a young, um, urban entrepreneur, by assaulting police officers at the lighting of the Christmas Tree at Westlake Center, an upscale mall  in downtown Seattle*. Which also houses the northernmost station of the Link Light Rail, so, not only did they screw up folks' Christmas Shopping, they made it so they couldn't get home, because the mall and rail station were closed early.

This just capped off the day, as it seems that the protesters were using pepper spray and throwing fireworks in response to the SPD's use of pepperballs and flash bangs.  (Not sure about the efficacy of flash-bangs as a crowd control tool in daylight, but what do I know?)  Also, one or more other SJWs were arrested for assaulting a police officer, and at one point they chained the doors to another downtown mall shut, which I am sure violates the fire code, at the least.

Bu then there's this: Black Friday gets a little less frenzied, which had the un-ironic subtitle "Black Friday seemed a little less crazy this year."

*And site of the Gordon Biersch brewpub, where I had lunch with Barron and Janelle Barnett and Boyd Kneeland and Phil Murray after the No on I594 rally, and which is totally cool with Open Carry but"You might want to cover up because Mall Security was talking about barring anyone who was armed."

"Ooooh, The Weather Outside Is..."

Warnings for Seattle and Vicinity, Washington | Weather Underground

We have had both an Areal Flood Advisory, Areal Flood Watch (which is one message from NOAA, not two) all week, and a Flood Warning for the Snoqualmie River for the last day or two.
We also have a Record Report for yesterday, because the 58 degrees F that SEA hit yesterday was the highest on record for that date. Which is really going to help tonight and tomorrow, what with this Winter Weather Advisory:
Statement as of 2:47 PM PST on November 28, 2014

...Winter Weather Advisory in effect from 9 PM this evening to 11 am PST Saturday...

The National Weather Service in Seattle has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for snow...which is in effect from 9 PM this evening to 11 am PST Saturday.

* Some affected locations...the north Puget Sound region from a north Seattle to Poulsbo line up through about a Port Townsend to Arlington line. This includes south Whidbey Island and from Everett east to the Cascades.
* Timing...rain will continue in a Puget Sound convergence zone this evening. Rain will change to snow from about late evening Onward.
* Accumulations...1 to 3 inches.
* Main impact...roads will become slippery

Precautionary/preparedness actions...
A Winter Weather Advisory for snow means that 1 to 3 inches of snow is possible.
Now, Schloss Drang is on the southern frontiers of Martin Luther King County, so there's a good chance that we will get no accumulation of snow at all, but the weather usually moves from south to north here, and  it's been a few years since we actually got much snow here, so it's possible that all that global warming will make tomorrow's "Fifth Saturday"amateur radio emergency response drill into a live event.

Friday, November 21, 2014

They hear me trollin', they applaudin'... -- Guns & Gun Shops

So, this post and this one, and this gun:
Photo from Gun Nuts Media, which you should totally go visit, or I wouldn't have linked the article already. Don't read the comments.
I visited two local gun shops today, one to sign up for an upcoming class and the other to buy some ammo for said class.

At both shops I asked if they had the Taurus Curve in yet.  They could probably tell from the way I said it and the expression on my face that I was needling them, but they didn't know why...

...until they looked it up, and saw the splendiferous derpitude for themselves.

Hooray, me!
Speaking of signing up for a class, they had this flyer up in the range area:
In case you or someone you care about is from around here and wants/needs some training. Highly recommended.
From the "Seriously?" department:
I ordered some spare mags for Mrs. Drang's Elsie Pee early in September.  They just arrived. Annoyed...

How dost thou annoy me? Let me count the ways:
  • The people refuse to get enough training to understand that dropping the mag does NOT mean the gun is unloaded.
  • That the herp-a-derps who need the reminder will try and load the mag with the sticker attached.
  • That the Herp-a-derps who do that will ask for my gun advice and ignore it.
Mind you, I really believe that, before the end of 2015, Ruger will bring out their own version of the Curve, and it will almost certainly be a decent option for self-defense. 
At work the other night one minion overheard a conversation about guns, about the Taurus Curve, in fact. "I need to get a gun."

Asked what she was getting, she said "I really want a snubnose. So-and-so says I should get a .357..."  So-and-so being other minion. She also said she plans on practicing weekly.

The fact that Minion So-and-so is mostly a rifle and shotgun shooter, that he was giving her "Gun Culture Gen 1" advice, and that she normally responds to any advice or feedback at work by saying "I know this job as well as any man!" caused me to react, well, not very respectfully.  (Mostly to her citing a non-pistol guy with whom she does not get along very well1, but that was obvious to no one.)

Guys.  Really, Stop that.

No, really. STOP THAT!!!!

A double action revolver has simple, easy-to-master controls for the non-enthusiast, and a full sized (4+") barrel six+-shooter can make an excellent general purpose sidearm, but a snubnose revolver is a specialists tool; as a concealed carry gun for the neophyte it sucks out loud.
  • The sights are as vestigial as those the Army had John Moses Browning (pbuh) put on the 1911. 
  • Or worse.
  • In those rare cases where the sights are OK, the sight radius is so short as to be laughable.
  • With that short a barrel, you need to select ammo carefully.
  • And the recoil is going to be a beast.  NOT good for newby non-enthusiasts.
  • That's in .38 Special; a snubnosed .357 magnum has reduced grown men to tears. 
A hammerless model can be useful as a pocket gun; as Tamara has related that she sometimes carries one in an outer pocket of her winter coat in addition to her regular defensive piece, as she can get to it faster when dressed for Fimbulwinter. (Fortunately, it rarely gets as cold in Western Washington as it does in Indiana2...)
1. Yes, I wonder if he was trolling her.
2. Because if it did, Mrs. Drang would make me relocate to Arizona or someplace.

Monday, November 17, 2014

I can just imagine the initial briefings...

"We're gonna go do an FTX in an abandoned nuclear reactor..."

JBLM soldiers take over abandoned Satsop nuclear plant — but it’s only make believe | Military News | The News Tribune

"Battlefield Surveillance Brigade".  Because "Military Intelligence Brigade" sounds too geeky.

For those of you "not from around here", this "abandoned" nuke plant is a legacy of the notorious financial failure of the Washington Public Power Supply System, appropriately known as "Whoops". (Apparently, they're still aruond as "Energy Northwest"; who knew?)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Down With The Cro-Magnon Collective!

So, Bill linked to this article, in which a boffin is explaining the discovery that genes linked to advanced intelligence, things like advanced mathematics and the like, originated with Neanderthal Man, and "modern humans" didn't pick them up until inter-breeding with their heretofore-assumed-to-be-less developed predecessors.  What Cro-Magnon man brought to the party was social skills.

I will say that the writer, despite working for Nature magazine and presumably having some grasp of science and the scientific principle, is honest and straight-forward about being unable, or unwilling, to face the implications.  "I don't know how you'll survive when our genes are gone."

Maybe now all those people whingeing about being introverts will start bragging instead. 

I'm gonna get me a new t-shirt.  On the front it will say "Neanderthal and proud!"

On the back it'll say "Don't crowd me, Cro-Mag!"

UPDATE:  For those who never read the comments, I should point out that this turns out to have been a piece of fiction. It reads like one, but I ass-you-me'd that Nature magazine wouldn't publish fiction, at least, not on purpose...