Monthly Archives: February 2012

Advertising FAIL: Mohammed Atta, Insurance Salesman

If you’re like us, you realize that most internet ads are worthless. The more intrusive and repetitive the ad, the more certain it is that it’s a scam — some work-from-home fraud or bogus insurance deal, or some ripoff operation that wants to charge you money to get you FREE MONEY FROM OBAMA!!!. So we miss whatever it is you see when you look at these stupid ads.

Ken DePew looked at one of the ads and really, really was disturbed by what he saw. What he saw was in the screenshot he captured here.

You are probably asking the same question I was, “why is he on my page and what could this advertisement be for?”  Not online courses on terrorism, not for some security product, or not as an advertisement for employing a government job to help stop the next Mohamed Atta.  Rather, it was apparently an advertisement for, an online insurance company that urges “drivers in Texas who drive less than 35 miles a day” to “read this.”  Did I fail to mention it wasn’t just a picture of Mohamed Atta, but a picture of Mohamed Atta imposed upon a Texas Drivers License.

via 9/11 Hijacker Mohamed Atta: The New Face of Auto Insurance | TheCollegeConservative.

DePew has been contacted by an attorney for the insurance site… the lawyer wouldn’t say what was up, but did say that the company had pulled its ads to try to figure out how this particular familiar denizen of the ninth circle of Hell wound up in their advertising.

The outfit’s probably still not selling anything worthwhile, but at least they did the right thing by zeroing out the Atta ad. Now, they might be able to sell insurance in Egypt or Pakistan with that picture, but they probably wouldn’t want to — even the part of those nations’ populations that aren’t suicide bombers drive as if they were.

And then again: if John Giduck can be a terrorism expert, why can’t Mohammed Atta be an insurance spokesman? Seriously, though, we think the great actor Dennis Haysbert is better qualified. For both jobs.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Jules Crittenden

OK, Jules’s blog, Forward Movement, which had two iterations (one as a chronicle of the invason of Iraq in 2003, and one as a more general-interest blog through 2008 or so) is long moribund, but one page occasionally gets updates, and it’s his book review and recommendation page.  Most of these books are military history and should appeal to the WeaponsMan reader.

There is more value on this page than on some entire blogs, even though most of it is nothing but lists of books by theme or war or era, linked to the actual books on Amazon. Jules’s taste in books agrees astonishingly well with ours, even to ownership of T.E. Lawrence first editions. He is a bit too lenient on other members of the Fourth Estate (he is an editor with the Boston Herald, the paper that’s not in bed with organized crime and the State House in Boston — but we repeat ourselves.

Here’s a taste from deep in the page (I think these lists have been copied properly so that Jules gets his taste if you buy a book from them):


1491, New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus, Charles Mann’s mythbuster. What the Americas were like, what happened when the Europeans arrived, and who is responsible for that.

Mayflower, a Story of Courage, Community and War by Nathaniel Philbrick, another mythbuster that goes deep on relations between the English and the Wampanoag, Narragansett, etal, from the Pilgrims through King Phillip’s War, including Benjamin Church’s innovative development of hybrid English-Indian units and tactics, the birth of modern counterinsurgency.

Letters from Mexico Hernan Cortes

The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico Miguel Leon-Portillo

The Discovery And Conquest Of Mexico Bernal Diaz Del Castillo

History of the Conquest of Mexico & History of the Conquest of PeruWilliam H. Prescott

The story of Cortes and Moctezuma is an epic that could use a cinematic update, in the right hands. Meanwhile, some viewing: Apocalypto, the Mel Gibson masterpiece.

The rest of the blog, particularly his live reporting from the invasion of Iraq, bears reading. Dude can write.

Hat tip: Glenn Reynolds.

Any gun beats none — if it works

And so we bring you the sad story of former welterweight boxing “Kid Dugan,” whose real name was Francis H. Doran. You can see why he changed his name for the ring, back in those early 20th Century days when boxing was one of the largest spectator sports in the nation.  And we’ll see how his untimely death relates to our often given advice, “any gun is better than none at all.” Because the Kid’s violent end is the exception that proves our rule. We’ll let William H. Wilson of Millington, Tennessee, pick it up from there, in a letter to Guns magazine that was printed in the May, 1961 (!) issue.

Francis H. Doran died at the hands’ of a holdup man in Memphis, Friday, Sept. 2, 1960. Under the name of “Kid Dugan,” Doran was a popular welterweight boxer back in the twenties. His boxing days were over when he entered the army during World War II. After the war and until his death, he operated a liquor store on the south side of Memphis. The holdup and murder oc· curred in the morning and the wanted man was wounded and captured by three police officers in late afternoon, not far from the scene of the crime.

The Kid tried to defend himself, but the gun he reached for was an old .41 caliber derringer and it failed to fire. The gun might have been defective, or it may have been bad ammunition, or both may have been bad.

We haven’t been there, but isn’t the south side of Memphis still a place you’d want to have a good, working gun? In any event, the .41 rimfire derringer, typically the Remington Model 1866 which was made through 1937 (or its many imported copies, which were brought in until 1968),  is a marginal defensive handgun for a number of reasons. There’s the unreliability of rimfire, black powder ammunition, for starters, and its susceptibility to ruination through moisture. There’s the afterthought sights and  microscopic sighting radius. There’s the single-action operating system, although that at least removed barrel selection from the user’s problems (the gun fires top and bottom alternately). There’s the weak ballistics — even if the thing goes off, it leaves the muzzle at around 400 feet per second. And there’s the one-and-only-one follow-up shot, subject to all the same limitations as the first. And in the imported copies, there’s usually cheap materials (even pot metal) and nonexistent quality control. (The actual Remingtons, which have a collector following, are well made).

We would usually say, “any gun is better than no gun.” For the Kid, this gun wasn’t. There are lessons to be had here perhaps about training, periodic testing of your carry weapon (which training accomplishes for you) and rotating your ammunition stocks. But we’ll just extend the adage to say, “any gun is better than no gun, as long as it works.”

As Wilson wrote:

Old, mis-used and abused firearms .should be relegated to a glass case or a museum. An armed robber usually means business, and only a weapon in good working order should be used in defense against him.

Hard to argue with that. These and many other pearls of wisdom are found in Guns Magazine’s issues from 50-years ago, which they put up on their website here as each issue reaches it’s 50th anniversary.

TSA goes from bad to worse

AZ Central covers a TSA Cover-up Investigation. Not the kind of cover up that Napolitano’s Ninja Numbnutses were really looking for.

Short version: a senior TSA manager, whose identity they’re still keeping secret, blundered into a security checkpoint with his (loaded) gun still in his briefcase. (Wait. Who said these clowns were supposed to have guns?)

The alert screener caught the gun for once, which led to a great panic, because following procedure would have embarrassed an agency mandarin, and we can’t be having any of that. So, instead, the managers at this particular site bundled Mr Secret Identity Mandarin and his gun and his briefcase clandestinely out of the airport, and covered it all up.

Until some non-team-player spilled the beans, and the media got the damning video. The two corrupt managers received three- and five-day “suspension” vacations, and then were promoted. There have been no consequences at all for the mandarin. It’s just one more instantiation of the general rule that the agency is corrupt and rotten from top to bottom and at all points in between.

However, the TSA’s and DHS’s payroll patriots are hard at work trying to root out one threat to the American public: you got it, the whistleblower who dared to tell the press there was a security video.

This is far from the only example of TSA misconduct, or really, just plain typical TSA conduct, recently.


They maintain a laughable Internet presence, in the form of a pseudonymous “Blogger Bob” whose real name, as a member of the peeping, groping, stealing, obstructing gang of skymall ninjas, is a national secret. It is not just his name that is reminiscent of Iraqi propagandist “Baghdad Bob,” it’s his whole gestalt. As a PR hack, a profession that puts up a remarkably low bar, the TSA’s guy is a wretched failure. As befits his organization.

The TSA are a terrible embarrassment. None of them is intelligent. None of them is a good or moral person. On the rare occasion when one of them is not actually a pervert or thief, he instead is covering up the misconduct of the perverts and thieves.   They’re an enormous drain on the economy, for which the benefit they provide is zero at maximum.

One Hundred Thousand (100,000)

One Hundred Thousand is a lot of anything. It’s enough cash to buy a Porsche, put a down payment on a house, or buy enough ammunition for a while. It was for many decades the senior-citizen age for automobiles, 100,000 miles, unless you owned a Volvo, which are like some Middle Earth race invented by Tolkein: the Volvos are born elderly but never die.

100,000 words is about the size of a short novel or nonfiction book (or a Neal Stephenson short story).

Over the weekend, the content of passed 100,000 words.

That’s in under two months. At this rate we could be somewhere in between War and Peace (560,000 words) and Atlas Shrugged (645,000) by year’s end. Well, in size, anyway.

“Fund Raiser” on trial for ripping off Legion post

The idea was, the big-time contractor was going to build a Legion Hall for American Legion Post 58 in Southern Maine. And he was such a great guy, he was going  to raise money for them, too. He just needed a little seed money to cover his startup expenses. Give him that, and he could raise a million for them.

$50,000, he said. The trusting vets of Post 58 wrote the check.

But while Ryan Byther was a contractor, he also was a frequent flyer in the local courts, with a chain of disputed business deals and ticked-off counterparties. The Legion post got the hall — halfway built and full of problems that cost the old vets a fortune to put right. They had to pay subcontractors twice, because the money they gave Byther for that purpose disappeared. They never got the $1 million and the $50k seed money is… well, nobody knows.

Now the vets intend to be there when Byther faces the music in criminal court this week. The local paper says:

“I wouldn’t miss that,” Legion member Bob Seeley said Thursday. Seeley said he didn’t know how many members of the post will attend the trial, but he expected “quite a few of us.”

Byther, 35, with a last known address of 5 Riverwoods Drive, Scarborough, is scheduled to begin trial on a Class B felony charge of theft by deception at 8:30 a.m. Monday in York County Superior Court.

via Trial of former American Legion fund raiser begins Monday |

Byther’s lawyer says the whole thing is a misunderstanding, and Byther had the best of intentions, but he lost his money — and the vets’ — in the collapse of the construction business caused by the recession. It will be interesting to hear his explanation o f where the vets’ $50k, not to mention the

The vets have already won a $1.4 million civil judgment from Byther, but he hasn’t paid a dime. At the rate he’s going, they may have to garnish his prison commissary account.

RIP, Chuck Schantag

This is in the phony category, but there was nothing phony about Chuck. Instead he, and his wife Mary, were the indispensable catalogers of the military phonies of America.

Chuck passed away on February 23, of a massive heart attack, while out shooting. (If one has to go…). Life Flight medics were unable to revive him. With him, the honest and honorable veterans of America lost a friend and a spokesman, and the poseurs and frauds lost a relentless scourge. He will be interred, as befits an honorably wounded war veteran and an unsung warrior for veterans’ reputations, in Arlington.

It started with Chuck’s interest in the Prisoners of War and Missing in Action of the Vietnam War. That was Chuck’s war, in which he served as a Marine and earned the Purple Heart for combat wounds. As his own bio on the site puts it:

Chuck Schantag, founder and chairman of the [POW]NETWORK,  served with the Marine Corps, India 3/5 from 1965 through 1968.  He earned a Purple Heart in Vietnam during Tet 68. He and Mary reside in Missouri.

And while he wasn’t a POW, he became fascinated with their story. Over time, Chuck and his wife Mary gathered a lot of information about these men; in 1989 they began to make it available to the public. Mary, in fact was, “the archivist and researcher” for the network. But both of them together became indispensable to the veteran community.

In time, as the Schantags’ information about and connection to POWs grew, they discovered the scourge of phony POWs, who vastly outnumber the real ones. And in further time they developed that information, making POWNETWORK a clearing house for information about phonies of all kinds.They called the situation “an epidemic” of frauds and posers, and with the military in the news again (and more respected than ever in middle America) the contagion only spread. The POW Network main site is here; introduction to the “Heroes or Villaims” section is here. Their alphabetical listing of POW posers is in the top part and their generic military poser listing is in the lower part of this page. Every time we look at the site, we find something new — most recent was this page of news updates. There are many hundreds of pages in the phonies section alone. Maybe over a thousand.

These listings live on — and will grow — as one, visible, part of Chuck’s legacy.

Chuck and Mary did not do this alone. They had lots of help, but they also encouraged the help — by, for instance, mentoring many other angry vets who were new to poser busting.

A public obituary is here.

A memorial thread at SOCNET is here.

It is a tragedy when a warrior of Chuck’s spirit passes. But it should not bring no relief to the phonies and wannabees. Like the Hydra, more spring up to take his place. Chuck Schantag is gone, but his work endures. If you’re a poser, isn’t this a good time to quit?

SEALS “Arrive” at Act of Valor Premiere

If you’re like us, you’re looking forward to the new SEAL/ War on Terror movie, Act of Valor. John Hinderaker of PowerLine called our attention to this:

… very fun video of Navy SEALS parachuting into a premiere of the movie Act of Valor. If you have ever wondered what it would look like to jump out of an airplane and parachute to a landing in an urban area, now you know:

via SEALS Parachute Into Act of Valor Premiere | Power Line.

We have no proof, but we think these guys are the SEALs’ “Leao Frogs” parachute team, their answer to the Golden Knights or the Red (or is it Black?) Daggers. We’ll admit straight up we’ve never done a jump like that. We can tell you all about an x-hundred foot static line while burdened with 100-plus pounds of lightweight gear. This looks like it’s a lot more fun.

The frogman jumps, and almost immediately pops his canopy, and from then on he’s flying towards his objective. With a white-phosphorous flare so that folks can see him coming. And if you’re paying attention, you can see the other flares on other jumpers as these guys assemble in the air for a crowd-pleasing landing.

Canopy flying is the best part of jumping, in our opinion. We were never too gung-ho for the leap into space, and confess to a little anxiety just before impact, er, touchdown. (You can’t glide an MC-1 chute or even the old HALO PC like the wings these stalwarts are flying).

The jumper controls his chute with the toggles you can see in the video. Stretch the left one down to turn left, right one to turn right, and both together to control your rate of descent and glide ratio. It’s very instinctive, once you get a little experience (some jumpers are naturals). It takes professionalism, but not Superman: there have been women on the Golden Knights for decades, and they hold their share of high ratings and world records.

You’d think showmanship like this is a full-time job, and it is. But these guys (and their Army counterparts) are real special operators and the skills they display here are skills that have been used in combat, and that the services maintain for that reason. The recruiting jolt of having a bunch of SEALs drop into a movie premiere is just a benefit (and you know they loved doing it!). The members of the Leap Frogs do it for a while and then return to regular SEAL duties.

The difference between this jump and a combat HAHO? In combat, your flares or lights are infrared, invisible to the naked eye. You pick a night with pretty low light levels, and you wear night-vision goggles. Your enemy is generally a little bit diffident about illuminating the drop zone for you. If there’s going to be a prepared drop zone, it’s special ops guys who prepare it (often AFSOF’s CCTs). By the time the 82nd or Rangers make a mass-tactical jump, as in Grenada, the SOF guys have been at work for a while.

But right now, the SEALs are just showing off a little. What the hell. They’ve earned it.

And yeah, we really want to see the movie.

It’s gonna be slow around here

This week duty calls, and so while a menu of posts have been queued up, dynamic changes will be slow in coming. These include corrections and updates, email responses, and comment approvals (or rejections, for all you Nigerians who think we’re your free advertising medium).


Do not let Sunday be taken from you…

Do not let Sunday be taken from you If your soul has no Sunday, it becomes an orphan.

As Albert Schweitzer said (according to some quote site on the internet — what, you think we hung out with Albert Schweitzer? We SF guys think “humanitarian” is Latin for “cannibal.”)

But anyway, our soul and yours has this Sunday to enjoy. Posting resumes Monday, but we are not going to be well-supplied with internet access for some time, so email response, post approvals, etc. will be slow.