Monthly Archives: October 2014

Handgun Ownership, German Reunification, and a Unique Wall Weapon

This pretty heat-map of pinks and blues shows legal handgun ownership in today’s (well, 2013’s) Germany. What’s interesting is that you can clearly see the inter-German border that existed during the period from 1949-1992, caused when the Soviet Occupation Zone stood up as the Soviet satellite (slave) state of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), and the three Western Allies’ (FR, UK, US) Occupation Zones joined as the Federal Republic of Germany. In 1989 the Soviets lost control of their East German subjects and the long process of German reunification began. Here’s the map, from a feature on the lasting divisions in unified Germany in the newspaper Die Zeit.


In the former East Germany, even though the gun laws originally followed those of East Germany, replacing the Soviet-era complete handgun ban, the limited gun culture of West Germany has not taken root. This is not entirely surprising, as many of the more malleable youth of the eastern Bundesländer have migrated West in search of jobs and adventure, and the East is heavily populated by older residents who grew up under the Hammer-and-Dividers symbol of the East German Communist party, the SED.

One wonders what happened to the inter-German border, which as late as the 1980s was characterized by guard towers, dog runs, plowed earthen areas to expose any footprints, free-fire zones, and several types of land mines (on the inner-German border only; they were removed from the Berlin Wall by 1980).


General Arrangement – Construction of the Steel Border – Plan for 1990. Confidential restricted material! (reads the German title). W. Germany on left. SM-70 mines are on the inside of the fire 3m-high fence or wall.

All East Germans living within a certain distance of the wall (100 meters, in Berlin) had to register with the Volkspolizei, and were subject to removal if background checks showed them to be insufficiently enthused by the Workers’ and Peasants’ Revolution imposed at the point of Russian bayonets. An intensive network of informants were the Vopo’s eyes and ears. Even the VoPos were kept out of the border zone, though; there were special GrenzPolizei, Border Police, selected for political reliability — and absence of any personal connection to the West or to the borderlands. Maps of the DDR were blank on the BRD side, and were even blank on the DDR side, for the last 5 kilometers from the border.1

Mines deployed along the border included a variety of Russian military types (most lifted by 1985) and a home-grown Claymore equivalent, the Splittermine 1970 or SM-70.A German legend attributed the design of the SM-70 to an SS officer intent on securing concentration camps. That’s possible, because East Germany was all about giving brutal Nazis a second chance as brutal Communists, but doesn’t seem to have documentary support.

The SM-70 contained a hollow charge of TNT, but where a typical hollow-charge weapon like an RPG’s PG-7 warhead would be lined with a copper, aluminum alloy or exotic-metal alloy lining to explosively-form a plasma armor-penetrating projectile, the SM-70’s cone comprised preformed metallic fragments. It could be fired by electrical command wire, tripwire, or both. (Tripwire installations were most common). The mines were monitored; if an SM-70 fired, a display panel would inform the guard force where to collect the dead or wounded would-be escapee.

General arrangement of an SM-70. They were typically mounted in rows of three, at ankle level, at about 1.45 m, and about 5 CM below the top of the wall or fence, on the East German side of the last wall (or chain-link or expanded-mesh fence) before freedom.

General arrangement of an SM-70. They were typically mounted in rows of three, at ankle level, at about 1.45 m, and about 5 CM below the top of the wall or fence, on the East German side of the last wall (or chain-link or expanded-mesh fence) before freedom.

The SM-70 was installed on the DDR side of the border fences. At least 60,000 SM-70s were deployed, 13,000 of them in a single 40-km long field. When the mines were tested in 1970, wildlife that were collaterally killed by the machines were left lying in the border strip as a warning to would-be “Border violators.”

This shows the innards of the SM-70 and how it works. They were never observed outside of East Germany.

This shows the innards of the SM-70 and how it works. They were never observed outside of East Germany.

The end of life of the SM-70 is to a degree uncertain. Officially, they were all removed by the end of 1984, but some seem to have persisted longer. Reportedly, they were replaced by monitoring systems that led to response by human and canine patrols. Had East Germany continued, its border authorities planned an even richer sensor environment. Given their political reliability problems with their police and military, the more they could automate the Wall, the better.

So we wondered, what has become of that death zone, that grim barrier that in practice turned an entire nation into a concentration camp? As it happens, the Germans wasted no time tearing it down, and now there is barely any remnant of it left to memorialize the hazards and the many victims of Communism’s need for captive populations.

The inter-German border was the strongest and most sophisticated of these Cold War fortifications, but some version of it did indeed extend “from Stettin on the Baltic, to Trieste on the Adriatic.” (The most futile and least well-imagined of them was further East, in Communist but anti-Soviet Albania). But they couldn’t, in the end, keep the people in and freedom out. In the end, like the Maginot Line, or Hadrian’s Wall for that matter, these walls fell less because of their own weaknesses (they had plenty; US and Allied intelligence agencies and SOF could play them like a Stradivarius), but because of the vulnerabilities in the humans that operated them.

The Die Zeit page has a video; unfortunately we can’t embed it here, but it is a Google Earth flyover of what much of the inner-German border has become: greensward, zigging and zagging along a now-erased border. Now, environmentalists are resisting redevelopment of the area, which has become host to many rare flora and fauna. Quite a remarkable thing, to those of us who looked on it, from whatever side, and expected it to be permanent.

Ozymandias was not available for comment.


1 Rottman, Gordon L. Berlin and the Intra-German Border 1961-89. Botley, Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 2008. pp. 37-40.

2. Rottman, op.cit., pp. 17-23.

Additional References

SM-70. Grenades, Mines and Boobytraps website. Retrieved from:

DDR Grenzsperranlagen: Grenzzaun u. Selbstschußanlage. Website. Retrieved from:

(the whole Grenzsperranlagen website is good, but it’s all in German).

One Raid, Two Tales, Two SEALs

tridentSupposedly, they’re going to have the guy who plugged Bin Laden on Fox (warning, Daily Caller link, often has autoplay spam1).

Meanwhile, the guy who wrote a book about it under the pseudonym Mark Owen is under criminal investigation. According to the New York Times, investigators have been shadowing his speaking engagements. According to the Times, “Owen’s2” decision to write a book came about after then-SecDef Leon Panetta pressured unit members to tell their stories exclusively to the makers of Zero Dark Thirty, a propaganda film lionizing the CIA and the Administration.

[“Owen’s” lawyer] said [Former SEAL Marc] Bissonnette had decided to write “No Easy Day” after Leon E. Panetta, then the C.I.A. director, urged some of the members of SEAL Team 6 to cooperate with the producers of the film “Zero Dark Thirty.” The filmmakers benefited from extensive assistance from the C.I.A. and the Pentagon.

“Matt’s view was: ‘Wait a minute. This is our story, not their story,’ ” Mr. Luskin said. “And why should that story be told through the mouths of others?”

While his “crime” is ostensibly breach of classified TTPs, his real offense was to publish a story that was substantially different from the largely-fictional version released by DC officialdom and already massaged into two below-average films: Zero Dark Thirty and the even worse TV outing, SEAL Team SIX, which has the production values and plot of a North Korean propaganda flick.

Reuters graphic of the bin-the-bin raid. Timeline, etc., based off the "official" leaks from Panetta and others.

Reuters graphic of the bin-the-bin raid. Timeline, etc., based off the “official” leaks from Panetta and others. Actually, two aircraft delivered the SEALs. The helicopter was not hit by an RPG, but some .gov “source” made up the story and Reuters ran with it single-source. Because that’s what J-school “pros” do.

What’s at stake here is who can write about classified operations. Traditionally, this privilege has been part of the de facto Title of Nobility that comes with being a member of Codevilla’s Political Class: the Yarvard apparatchiks who take great pleasure in bossing special operators around, but cringe at the idea of actually being among them. No general officer, flag officer, political appointee or SES member has ever been punished for publishing a book, no matter what he revealed (such books frequently blow sources and methods; one actually blew a hyper-sensitive, code-word protected special-purpose cryptosystem). And no junior staff member has ever been punished — so long as his book came later, and supported the narrative, of the Political Class books. But “Owen” may soon join Fred Snepp (a junior CIA officer at the time of the fall of Saigon) in the ranks of those for whom the 1st Amendment must be bent, if not broken.

Snepp lost a precedent-making lawsuit; his ostensible crime was the same as Bissonnette’s, but hisreal crime was to expose the cynicism of SecState Henry Kissinger’s Nobel-Prize Winning deal to delay the fall of Saigon until a “Decent Interval” (the title of Snepp’s book) had passed, and to expose the failure of the CIA to protect its human sources in Vietnam.  These “secrets” were certainly known to America’s enemies, with whom the first had been deliberately negotiated and to whom the second, in the form of the personnel files of human agents, had been mistakenly delivered. The purpose of the secrecy Snepp (and Bissonnette) breached was to keep the American public in the dark in order to polish political reputations. 


The Pentagon really wants to reserve discussion of this raid to people who have been to the right schools (and BUD/S doesn’t count), or maybe, signed-on to Hillary 2016. They’ve threatened the SEAL in a “nice life you have here, shame if you lost it” statement through an otherwise insignificant Pentagon spokes-dolly, Navy Commander Amy Derrick-Frost, who almost certainly was mouthing words written for her by someone much higher up the totem pole.


1. We previously have not named Owen, but that ship has well and truly sailed, and the media long ago outed him — thanks possibly to Panetta and other figures tied in with the Zero Dark Thirty project — so we give up.

2. We’ve finally beaten autoplay spam in Safari with a well-behaved Safari plugin, Click-to-plugin by Mark Hoyois.

Weird Gun Doings

In New Jersey, Too Many Bears

Well, everyone knows the answer for too many bears. Black bears have been irritating New Jerseyites for a while, and have recently taken to eating them, which the state wildlife authorities think is just a little too much success on the part of the once-endangered predators.

So they put out a call for hunters to come and thin the bear herds. But the hunters are not showing up.

You’re kidding, right? Would anybody in his right mind take a gun to New Jersey for any reason, (except, of course, for criminals, whom the state seems as eager to import as if they didn’t have an endless cornucopia of home-grown ones)? Does the name Shaneen Allen ring a bell? Brian Aitken?

Enjoy your future as Purina Bear Chow, people of the Garden State. You voted for it.

In South Bend: Anti-Violence Violent Felon Reverts to Type

Color us shocked. Again.

Isaac Hunt, a man known in the community as an anti-violence activist, was arrested early Saturday morning.

Officers booked Hunt for alleged unlawful possession of firearm by serious violent felon. According to Indiana Code, “serious violent felony” includes voluntary manslaughter, a crime Hunt served a prison sentence for in the 1990s.

He was released later Saturday night on $4,000 bond with the promise to appear in court.

On Wednesday, Hunt was charged with Domestic Battery, a class A misdemeanor, and Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a Serious Violent Felon, a level 4 felony.

Right, so this guy’s a killer with a slick story, so the city and various non-profits just totally accept him as an ambassador against violence. Until he proves once again that the best guide to future behavior is past behavior. (And the “past behavior” of urban non-profits is generally “stupid.”)

If you just left the violent criminals in the jeezly prison the first time, what would you need “anti-violence activists” for?

In Indianapolis, Boss to Cop: “So, Sue Me.” So he did.

This is a strange case. The police came to a cop’s house on a domestic call, and confiscated the cop’s guns, even though the complainant was not on the scene. Later they determined “there was no domestic” (in our experience, this sometimes means a bunch of cops and/or cop wives induced a battering victim to recant her story, and sometimes means a bitter ex-wife tried and failed to get her cop ex into hot water), but wouldn’t give him his guns back.

According to the complaint filed in July 2012 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Rebolledo asked Eden to return the firearms to him and told him his rights were being violated.

“Sue me,” Eden told Rebolledo, according to the complaint.

The complaint says Rebolledo repeatedly asked for his weapons back. Most of the weapons were taken to IMPD’s property room as “personal property found,” according to the complaint. Others were taken to the Crime Lab for processing.

The firearms were with IMPD for two months. Rebolledo had to be fingerprinted to get his guns back, according to the complaint.

The cop in question is no longer a cop. He’s in the Army, stationed at Fort Meade. (Most of the soldiers stationed there work for NSA or the 902nd Counterintelligence Group).  He already had his guns back but the lawsuit brings him $$$ from the taxpayers. Cha-chingg.

The most curious thing was the weapons that were taken to the crime lab. Sounds like they suspected, vaguely, that the cop was dirty and tried to bend the law to go fishing.

In Phoenix, two more Victims of Fast & Furious

Two more woundings, from a 2013 gang assault on an apartment building, have been confirmed to have been done with weapons provided to the Sinaloa Cartel by the US Department of Justice and, specifically, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Two US Federal Agents and scores of their Mexican counterparts (along with hundreds of other Mexicans) have already been confirmed dead in the disastrous ATF gunwalking operation. No one has been held responsible. While Katie Pavlich’s story was headlined about the confirmation that one of the ATF-furnished firearms was used in the Phoenix attack, Bob at Bearing Arms noted that her article also shows the ATF surveilled the handover of the specific crime firearm — and let it go, knowing it was going to sicarios for a drug-trafficking organization.

ATF Crime Gunwalking AK traceDarrell Smith, the ATF agent tracing the firearm, and part of the organization that provided the gun to the cartel in the first place, knew last summer of the gun’s use in the near-murders, as did ATF brass and assistant AG Jamie Cole, a Fast and Furious figure who is resigning now that his top cover — AG Eric Holder — is gone. But they conspired to keep that fact from investigators and Congress.

Remember, the “I” in “ATF” is for “Integrity.”

Great government we got here. Let’s put it in charge of ebola readiness!

And Some Micro Links

  • America might have not hit its credit limit yet, but the President has. (Actually, his card number was compromised in one of many hacks. We can relate; same thing happened to us).
  • We mentioned Joe Biden’s dimbulb sons when the word that one lost his Navy career; the other one also needed drug waivers for an Army direct commission that wouldn’t be available to you. As it happens, Slow Joe’s dimbulb daughter turns out to be a druggie also.  We’re shocked.
  • The ever vigilant Secret Service had a protective agent leave his firearm in a car, and get ripped off. Some criminal still has it. Accountability? Consequences? Come on, he’s a government worker. It’s not like they have standards or anything.
  • And in another case of The Usual Suspects, a rapper got busted with a handgun (is that a dog-bites-man story or what?) in an airport security checkpoint. It gets better: he’s a felon. It gets even better: it’s not his first charge of felon in possession. Which is supposed to be a ten-year, no pun intended, rap, under 18 USC §922(g). But he’s out on the first one, in plenty of time to walk into the second.

Yet there are people in our government who think the right answer is to prosecute the criminals less, and persecute the non-criminals more. While within a couple of days, the Director of the FBI demanded a back door into everybody’s cell phone with the old “trust me!” con-man shtick, while the FBI in Minneapolis threw an insinuation into the South Dakota Senate race — and then took the phone off the hook, so that they can’t be questioned about it. Gee, there’s one reason why we might not trust you, Mr Comey.

BREAKING: Eric Frein in Custody

We went to the FBI Most Wanted website for another purpose, and the first man on the list — Frein — had a CAPTURED label on his photo.

Frein was caught by US Marshals, outside of his hiding-place in a hangar at the abandoned Birchwood-Pocono Airpark airstrip. The FAA forced closure of the runway in 1996 and the resort, which had been a honeymoon retreat with heart-shaped tubs, closed around the same time; it’s been for sale but the structures are not only dated but in poor, unmaintained condition. This aerial view, from Freeman’s Abandoned Airfields site, shows the hangar where Frein had nested.


He was on foot, outside the hangar, when the Marshals set upon him. He resisted briefly. His rifle and pistol were not on his person; they were found inside the hangar.

We have been in touch with some jubilant Pennsylvania law enforcement types, and they are as proud of the professionalism that brought this cop-killer in alive (albeit with a bloody, possibly broken, nose) as they are of anything else.

A Federal agent had one detail to share: Frein was hauled off to face the music, secured with Corporal Bryon Dickson’s handcuffs. Dickson was the state trooper shot dead by Frein on 12 September; Trooper Alex Douglass was wounded in the attack on the State Police barracks at Blooming Grove.

Frein evaded capture for 48 days, after gunning down the two Pennsylvania State Police troopers at their barracks at shift-change time.

The authorities have said little about Frein’s motivations and intent while the manhunt was pending, but now that he is in custody they may release more of the information found on his computer. The only thing they have said about their discoveries there, is that it provides evidence that Frein planned the attack for a very long time.

What ICE told All Hands about Ebola

ebola virionsPresented with only minimal redactions, the all-hands message:

A Message from Medical Officer Dr. McMillan, To all ICE employees, October 28, 2014

ICE Response to Ebola

As many of you know, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported four confirmed cases of Ebola in the United States. While the news of Ebola on U.S. soil is concerning to everyone, it is important to note that the CDC has advised the American public that the risk of an outbreak in the United States is very low. Nonetheless, ICE leadership will provide guidance and information regarding safety measures to ensure the health and well-being of the ICE workforce.

As an initial response, ICE has activated a modified Crisis Action Team to coordinate, monitor and assess ICE’s internal health and safety procedures. The DHS Office of Health Affairs is reviewing the existing protocols along with ICE officials to determine employees’ potential exposure to Ebola. Existing basic personal protective equipment in the form of protective gloves and masks is available at ICE field locations now, and ICE is working to acquire additional personal protective equipment should circumstances require it. In addition to the CDC guidance on Ebola including prevention and detection methods we provided earlier this month, training for the correct usage (donning, doffing and disposal) of the enhanced equipment will be made available to ICE personnel who use personal protective equipment in the course of their duties. Federal Occupational Health staff will provide hands-on training of the enhanced equipment.

ICE is closely monitoring the situation and will provide additional guidance and training regarding required personal protective equipment to help you to continue to perform your duties in a safe and healthy work environment.

On you can keep up with the latest information on Ebola including the results of passenger screening at the five airports which all those coming from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea must transit through to get into the U.S. For more information on ICE workplace health and safety, including the Ebola FAQs, visit the ICE Health and Safety Program online.

If you have questions or concerns about your personal health and safety regarding Ebola exposure, please contact Dr. David McMillan, Medical Officer with the ICE Office of Human Capital at [redacted] or 202-[redacted].

If you have questions in the course of executing your duties, please contact your operational chain of command.

Dr. David McMillan
Medical Officer, Office of Human Capital
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

ICE expects to be assisting other DHS elements in dealing with Ebola patient inflows.

Ebola is actually the least of ICE’s problems, believe it or not. The biggest problem is that the Executive in general and the Department of Justice in particular are opposed to removing or deporting criminal aliens, who the politicians see as valuable constituents, both at voting time and in providing demand for services such as welfare, that those politicians can provide.

Fred the Great: On Duty, and On General Order Nº1

Frederick II "The Great's" sarcophagus was hidden in a mineshaft by Nazis who feared it would be destroyed by the Allies. It wasn't (his peripatetic corpse finally was buried on his lawn where he'd originally requested -- in the 21st Century).

Frederick II “The Great’s” sarcophagus was hidden in a mineshaft by Nazis who feared it would be destroyed by the Allies. It wasn’t (his peripatetic corpse finally was buried on his lawn where he’d originally requested — in the 21st Century).

Frederick II, “the Great,” of Prussia was one of the most brilliant generals that ever lived. His strategy, his tactics, and his relative attention to logistics and mobility were all ahead of their time, and enabled the relatively small principality of Prussia to kick ass and take names all over Europe.

Frederick is also remembered for his correspondence: a witty writer, he was fortunate to live at the time of the Enlightenment, and exchanged pithy and deep letters with Voltaire. He encouraged immigration to Prussia, but particularly skilled immigration: he cared not if one was a Huguenot farmer, Jesuit scholar or a Jewish trader, but if you had something to bring to Prussia the door was open to you. At the same time he accepted Protestants fleeing Catholic pressure in some countries, and Catholics fleeing the Protestants in others — as long as they could bring something to Prussia.

He is less remembered for his artsy personality; he may indeed have been queer as a three-mark coin, and he wrote four symphonies and scores of concertos in the baroque style as well as military marches; he sponsored CPE Bach and received a sonata as a gift from Bach’s father, Johann Sebastian Bach (that’s “the” Bach to you musical ignorami). He preferred French to his native German, but was fluent in both, and functional in several other European languages.

The National Archives calls these swords of Frederick the Great, but says in the same article they were from the coronation of Frederick I.

The National Archives calls these swords of Frederick the Great, but says in the same article they were from the coronation of Frederick I, so they may predate the great general-king.

But in military arts, he is remembered for what he said as much as for what he did (which laid the groundwork for Bismarck’s unification of the German states under a Prussian king a century on).

He won battles and lost them; he came within a hair of losing Berlin to a Russian and Austrian alliance that fortuitously fell apart after the death of Elizabeth of Russia and the ascension of her nephew Peter the Great (Peter III, the not-so-great1, see the footnote and correction in comments), an admirer of Frederick, to the throne.

But he was a master of, not exactly the pithy aphorism like those for which Napoleon was deservedly legendary, but a well-turned entire paragraph, of which we have a couple of examples to offer you today.


He had this to say (in a letter to Voltaire, who was critical of Frederick’s militarism), about the military life and its attractions, or lack thereof, for him:

Do you think I take any pleasure in this dog’s life, in seeing and causing death in people unknown to me, in losing friends and acquaintances daily, in seeing my reputation ceaselessly exposed to the caprices of fortune, in spending the whole year with uneasiness and apprehension, in continually risking my life and my fortune? I certainly know the value of tranquility, the charms of society, the pleasures of life, and I like to be happy as much as anybody. Although I desire all these good things, I will not buy them with baseness and infamy. Philosophy teaches us to do our duty, to serve our country faithfully at the expense of our blood and of our repose, to commit our whole being to it.

You may believe him or not — we suspect that he took rather more pleasure in campaigning than that, at least while he was winning. We also suspect Voltaire didn’t buy it for a minute.

The next aphorism is also one that deserves reflection almost 240 years after its utterance. While today’s abstemious (sometimes to the point of asceticism) American officers revel in the purity of the Temple they have made of their bodies, Frederick’s words, from 1777, rise from his grave at Sans Souci to condemn General Order One:

It is disgusting to notice the increase in the quantity of coffee used by my subjects, and the amount of money that goes out of the country as a consequence. Everybody is using coffee; this must be prevented. His Majesty was brought up on beer, and so were both his ancestors and officers. Many battles have been fought and won by soldiers nourished on beer, and the King does not believe that coffee-drinking soldiers can be relied upon to endure hardships in case of another war.

Yeah. What Fred said.

The only reason we haven’t actually lost yet is that the pathetic hadjis are coffee-drinkers, too.


1 Re: Peter the not-too-great, read Max’s comment and check the bios at and at Russian state-controlled broadcaster Russia Today for the short and unhappy reign of this guy, who was most important in Russian history as the way that Catherine the Great (who really was great) rose to the throne. The problem with kings and nobles is, of course, the tendency to regression to the mean (or beyond) in their posterity.

Weapon for Vampires? A stake in the heart is traditional

In Bulgaria… archaeologists are exhuming centuries old… dead vampires? Well, they’re people that someone thought were vampires… judging from their burial with a stake in the heart.

Let’s go back to a forgotten era, before vampires became sparkly, and stepped into the role once played by horses in tween girls’ fantasies; let’s go back even before that, to a time before Bram Stoker wrote Dracula and set the whole “Vampire” thing moving. Apparently, about 900 years ago villagers really believed this stuff, and staked some of the dead through their congealing hearts, like this feeling-no-pain character. The disc about where his ticker used-to-was is the butt end of an iron stake:

dead vampire

Smithsonian magazine has an entertaining article on him:

Clearly, this man’s neighbors did not trust his remains to stay put. As Nikolai Ovcharov, the archeologist in charge of the dig, told the Telegraph: “We have no doubts that once again we’re seeing an anti-vampire ritual being carried out.” At the time of the man’s death, vampires were perceived as a real threat in many Eastern European communities. People who died unusually—from suicide, for example—were sometimes staked to prevent them from coming back from the dead, the Telegraph writes.

Iron stakes and hokey religions are a pretty poor substitute for a blaster by your side, kid.

Of course, we learned of this from a typical Beastweek story, written by a professional, J-School-certified journalist, that passed through “layers and layers of editors,” that concludes (emphasis ours):

Little could the New England community ever imagine that 200 years later, vampires would be taking over the entire country—but this time on the silver screen—and that their ancestors would be swarming to get a look at these sultry modern counterparts.

Please explain your meaning of the word, “ancestors.” You appear to require its antonym.

Silly English language, it has another word for everything.

Anyway, we’ll be thinking of Old Spike tonight as we hand out candy to little vampires, etc. Our neighbors up the street put on a fantastic display of inflatable decorations — giant ghouls and devil dogs and whatnot. That brings all the kids from all over the place, and some of their parents come, apologizing. Why apologize? It’s a harmless costume holiday, and in a community  where a median home is around a half-million, nobody needs to whine about buying some extra Reese’s Pieces or what have you. (We tend to buy candy that we don’t like our ownselves… in the event of leftovers we’re less tempted to scarf it all up).

Thanks to Linkers, Commenters… and Reddit

chainNow that we have stats running, again, we’re pleasantly suprised to see that we’re more popular than we were before our stats plugin went tango uniform in August. We attribute that to our genial commenters and to the sites that link to us, among them:

  • Ace of Spades HQ. We’re grateful to be frequently linked by such a well-regarded (and, not coincidentally, well-trafficked) site, and hope we’ll always have something of interest to Ace readers.
  • The Gun Feed. We could never decide which of the Gun Link Aggregators we liked better, but now that the other guys have joined the Choir Invisible, we know it’s The Gun Feed. If you’re ever hard up for a gun-news fix, the Feed is your dope.
  • Raconteur Report. By our own prolific commenter, Aesop, who’s quite a talented blogger his own self.

Recently, we found a few of our posts linked by Reddit’s /r/guns. That’s led to a surprisingly long tail of interest on the posts, one a pair of training videos and the other our write-up on the Sokolovsky Automaster. We welcome all Redditors who share our interest, and are glad to see that technical posts, like the Sokolovsky post, that may have disappointed us with the lack of reaction they drew when new, actually have some legs on the net.

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have beer glasses

Union JackSo Britain banned handguns almost 20 years ago, and violence and criminality vanished forthwith from the scepter’d isle, bringing forth a new age of enlightment made possible by the lights of perverted science.

Just kidding. A weapon is where you find it, and the belligerent drunks of Old Blighty have one right at hand (emphasis ours):

Nearly 87,000 injuries are caused by glass attacks each year in England and Wales, according to the Home Office. Many more are hurt as a result of accidents.

The worrying figures have prompted a redesign of the classic pint glass, with police, facial surgeons, pubs and brewers all voicing concern about the high number of glassings.

The government hopes introducing safer pint glasses, still made of glass, will help reduce injuries. As well as the human cost, it also hopes it will reduce the financial burden of alcohol-related crime, which currently costs the NHS £2.7bn a year.

The two competing yob-proof glass designs. Naturally, we can’t let the market decide whether to adopt one or t’other, or stick with a regular glass. Nope, this is a task for trained professionals.

Note that the injuries aren’t caused by people attacking with glasses, but by, “glass attacks.” This kind of primitive animism, ascribing agency and motive to inanimate objects, often holds primitive societies back. Like, for instance, Britain, 2,000 years of history now preserved in an environment purged of the oxidizing agent of imagination.

We don’t know whether to be more appalled by the idea that business-as-usual over the pond means 90,000 people a year eating a pint glass at arm velocity, or by the fact that this is so common as to provoke a neologism into being (“glassing, n.”), or by the fact that everyone over yonder thinks it’s normal, routine, and altogether tickety-boo that the Government is redesigning the nation’s apparent single design for a beer glass. 

God Almighty, can you imagine the beer glass that, say, Harry Reid and John Boehner got together to design? It would cost a billion, be sole-sourced from companies their sons and nephews are lobbyists for, and have the open end at the bottom. (See “compact fluorescent light bulb mandate”).

Centrally planned beer glasses. We don’t think even the USSR did that, but then, they didn’t really need to; the USSR was marked by a 70-year shortage of quality beer. As Heinlein would say, bad luck.

But our Britons wander off the many paths of capitalism down the One True Path of Central Planning. And this is where it takes them:

Now, two new prototypes for beer glasses have been unveiled, as part of a programme involving the Design Council. Launched by the Home Office’s Design and Technology Alliance, the aim is to use design to tackle crime.

Designers say the new glasses will appeal to drinkers and have the potential to really reduce the number of glass-related injuries.

“The British love their pints of beer,” says David Kester, of the Design Council. “We wouldn’t want to take someone’s enjoyment and pleasure away.”

My dear Kester, you do understand that the essence of the problem is not the lethality of the propulsive object, but the attitides of that subset of Britons (we believe the term is “yobs”) whose “enjoyment and pleasure” come from bashing-in, say, the faces of supporters of a different football club? The mind is the ultimate weapon; the beer glass is merely the instantiation of an impulse formed in the amygdala, without intermediation or restraint from the cerebral cortex.

Take away the beer glass, or the injury-causing potential of the beer glass, and your basic yob picks up the ashtray or barstool, and “glassing, n.” fades into historical obscurity while leading articles tut-tut about “ashtrayings,” “stoolings” or “chairings.”

“This is not a silver bullet. It is one idea that can make a significant difference. We hope to save lives and reduce suffering.”

via BBC News – Last orders for pint glass as we know it?.

Look, you can try to make the bar environment yob-proof (recognizing that the oxygen and fuel needed to set a yob afire are both ever-present, potential yobs & Judgment Juice; and that yobs are sentient and adaptive creatures), or you can do something about the yobs.

And there’s the fact that even Britons ought to know by now that when a bunch of Government boffins emerge from a lab with a new version of something like a beer glass that they pinky-swear is “just as good” as the old one, but meets some imagined social need, wariness is next to godliness.

After all, nobody needs a beer glass. Why, pour a sippy cup for the yobs, and violence will be over! Around the time the Green Energy Initiative powers our world with unicorn flatulence.

Hey, has anybody ever tried just banning booze? Wouldn’t that be the gateway to Utopia?

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Firearms History, Technology & Development

firearms_history_technology_developmentThis site is a worthwhile, irregularly updated look at, like the title says, the history, technology and development of firearms. It’s found at

Welcome to the Firearms History, Technology and Development blog. In this blog, we will trace the history of firearms development over the years, advances in technologies and the world wide development and spread of firearms technology.

via Firearms History, Technology & Development: Welcome.

Because of its very wide range, you will find interesting matters here, regardless of your present level of expertise, but it’s all presented on a level that makes it accessible to everyone, including beginners and English-as-a-second-language readers.

Over the years, hundreds of posts have covered firearms from the days of the lit match to the latest developments.

Recent posts have included a 12-part (and continuing) series on the metallurgy of firearms, and the metallurgical history of firearms development. The progress from bronze, to pig/cast iron, to wrought iron, to steel was necessary to progress from coarse powder, to fine powder, to smokeless powder, with the rise in chamber pressures permitted by the metallurgical improvements. Without steel, breechloaders and cartridge arms would not have been practical, and no sort of automatic or semiautomatic weapon would have been possible. You may think you know metallurgy, but do you know what a puddling furnace is, or why 19th Century manufacturers sometimes specified a product called “shear steel” (let alone, what “shear steel” was?).

Along with developments in metallurgy (firearm and cartridge metals) and propulsives chemistry (powders), the development of firearms depended, and still depends, on manufacturing processes.

The blog does cover such manufacturing processes as rifling, but also covers sights, actions and other firearms components that we may take for granted today, but that each has its own development history and technical rationale. Good stuff!