Monthly Archives: February 2017

When Defense Contractors Hire Losers

USS Cowpens arrives in San Diego, April 2013. The captain would be relieved a little over a year later. This is the ship that had one of the bogus bomb threats last year.

When defense contractors hire losers, hilarity ensues. Briefly. It’s not very funny when it all finally shakes out. Two laborers on Navy contracts in San Diego just got indicted for separate incidents of bomb threats.

Why bomb threats? They weren’t terrorists, or trolls. They just were lazy, and wanted paid time off work while the Navy chased its tail over bogus threats. It’s all a grand lark until the grim guy in the suit is talking about plea bargains and Federal prison — and he’s your lawyer.

Two men who have worked as Navy contractors face potential prison time and fines for making bogus bomb threats that resulted in mass evacuations of naval ships moored on San Diego Bay in recent months.

Joshua Rice, 26, and Roberto Rubio, 22, were arrested and arraigned in federal court Wednesday. The two San Diego residents each face up to five years behind bars and a $250,000 fine if convicted of issuing hoax threats.

Rice is charged in a grand jury indictment with reporting to Navy security personnel that he saw the word “bomb” scrawled inside of a portable toilet near three vessels docked at Naval Base San Diego on the morning of May 17, knowing there was no true threat.

At the time, Rice was working for American Marine, a ship repair and rehabilitation company.

Rubio is charged separately with writing “9-24-16 400 bomb” on an interior wall aboard the USS Cowpens, a guided-missile cruiser, on Sept. 24 and reporting the phony threat to another contractor. Rubio was then employed as a welder for Navy contractor BAE Systems.

via 2 Contract Workers Charged in Series of Bomb Threats at Navy Base – Times of San Diego.

The USS Cowpens is a Ticonderoga-class cruiser that bears the name of a Revolutionary War victory — and a WWII light carrier. But it didn’t really need any more bad publicity, after a romantic entanglement with one of his subordinate officers led the Navy to sack the captain (and his girlfriend) a couple of years ago.

It could have been worse. A few years ago, a high-functioning autistic guy hired to do some painting in the Portsmouth Navy Yard started a fire on the boat he was working on, USS Miami. The fire essentially destroyed the billion-dollar boat, and the loser got more time off than he was counting on — about 17 years in Club Fed.

Now, you might ask why defense contractors hire such losers in the first place? We can explain, and it only takes one word: money. From a Beltway contractor point of view, every dollar “wasted” on the people that actually provide the service you are selling in the contract, is a dollar that can’t be “invested” in the sort of inside-Beltway drones that secure the contract in the first place. So most DOD contractors are incentivized to provide the lowest quality workforce for the highest per-hour cost (to the Government; 90% of it stays in-Beltway). And so you have incidents like this, not just in 2016 like these current defendants, but every couple of years.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Clockwatching Doctors

Say hello to Ellie-May Clark, right. Say goodbye, too — she’s dead.

What’d she die of?

Asthma, but her mother is blaming her final expiration (from lack of respiration) on a doctor that wouldn’t see the girl, because mom brought her in four minutes later than promised.

A critically ill little girl died hours after a GP refused to see her because she turned up a few minutes late for an emergency appointment.

Wait, “emergency appointment”? That’s one of several indicators that this story’s likely to be a little one-sided.

Astonishingly, the doctor is still practising after escaping with a ‘slap on the wrist’ at a secret disciplinary hearing.

Ellie-May Clark, five, died of an asthma attack after Dr Joanne Rowe refused to see her – despite having previously been warned the girl was at risk of suffering a life-threatening seizure.

via Girl, 5, died of asthma attack after GP refused to see her | Daily Mail Online.

The late (no pun intended) Ellie-May seems to have deserved better of both her doctor and her mother. However, the Daily Mail, the perpetrators of that unexplained “emergency appointment” phrasing, claim to have found an damning official document:

It concluded that:

  • The ‘root cause’ of the girl’s death was Dr Rowe’s refusal to see her;
  • The GP turned Ellie-May away without asking a single question about the girl’s condition;
  • Months earlier, a paediatrician had written to Dr Rowe warning that Ellie-May was ‘at risk of another life-threatening asthma attack’;
  • Staff were ‘fearful’ of questioning Dr Rowe because of her ‘repeated angry outbursts’ and ‘volatile’ nature;
  • Minutes after the Clarks went home, another GP questioned why Dr Rowe had turned them away.
  • Dr Rowe claimed to have been ‘in the middle’ of seeing a patient when Ellie-May arrived, but the surgery’s computer system showed that was not the case.

Dr Rowe, 53, was suspended for six months on full pay after Ellie-May’s death in Newport, South Wales in January 2015.

As the terminology (GP, NHS) probably has cued you, this happened in Wales, where guns are pretty much outlawed. But hey, who needs guns when you’ve got the National Health? It’s a bureaucracy, and bureaucracies protect their own, no matter who they’ve got to whack to do it.

But they did come up with a typically reasonable, British, face-saving solution for all concerned: Dr Rowe was made to sign a promise “not to do it again.” And that makes us wonder, “do it,” do what? Kill another patient?

German Generals in WWII Led from the Front — and Paid

Generalleutnant Werner Freiherr von Fritsch, former supreme commander of the German Army (inveigled out of that position by the Nazis, even though he was a Nazi supporter himself) was KIA as an “honorary regimental colonel” of an arty regiment, during the Battle of Warsaw in 1939. Hit in the thigh by a rifle-caliber bullet, he bled out through a femoral artery wound in minutes.

Attached to this post is an intriguing report on German general officer casualties, specifically, KIAs, in World War II. It was rare for an Allied general to be killed or wounded in combat, although there were some celebrated cases, including friendly-fire air-ground incidents. The article is loosely framed as a suggestion that the Americans’ Wehrmacht-inspired AirLand Battle doctrine of the 1980s might have led to a similar result, but that has a whiff of “added this to please the war college reviewers and fake contemporary relevance” to it. The paper is predominantly historical.

The numbers don’t lie: 136 German general-officer commanders –division, corps and army levels, the equivalent of American two-star-and-up generals — were killed in action in 1939-45. Several factors led to this: the Germans’ lead-from-the-front doctrine, the personal courage of the generals concerned, the greater lethality of WWII arms than had been the case in their junior officer days’ Great War, and the German’s whole-war-long shortage of combat commanders.

Wehrmacht doctrine emphasized personal reconnaissance, the general “showing the flag” or “showing his face” to the frontmost outposts, and other examples of personal, retail leadership. Was this a cause or effect of the Germans’ reduced proliferation of command radio nets than the Western Allies? Not clear. But the German general put his life on the line with his men; naturally, the enemy was eager to collect some of these scalps.

The personal physical courage of the generals seems beyond question. Among those old enough to have served in World War I, almost all bore valor decorations from the period. Even more received valor decorations in World War II, between taking command and being slain. It stands to reason that courage increases a soldier’s exposure to enemy fire. (Not always true, as fear, panic and timidity will put your trophy in the hunter’s bag sooner than courage, real or imitation, will).

They may have gotten wrong lessons from World War I. Sure, they learned the hazards of artillery fire against fixed trench lines, but they missed the lethality of modern fires against troops in motion. The lethality of air was not on their horizon; Great War strafing was a mere nuisance compared to systematic attacks by marauding Il-2s, P-47s or Typhoons. This is considerably ironic, when one recalls that the Blitzkrieg and the ground-attack aircraft and unit were largely German inventions.

And they were highly visible targets in highly distinctive uniforms.

Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS general officers died of everything from snipers (2 each) to tank main gun fire (2 more, both facing the Soviets), and one unlucky duck drove into a friendly minefield. But the real execution was done by artillery and air, with small arms a secondary contribution via ambushes, raids and in the hands of partisans. Each fallen general caused a local but rapidly recuperable loss of command continuity, but more serious was the contribution to the initial shorthandedness in GOs.

Bear in mind that the Germans had, throughout the war, excellent junior officers and NCOs. This ameliorated the consequences of such organizational beheading.

Here are some conclusions from the historical section of the paper:

First, most of the deaths occurred from quick unexpected attacks. Air bombardments, artillery barrages, hidden minefields, snipers, and partisan attacks were quite different than the deadly but more methodical operations these men had experienced in World War I.

Second, a great many deaths occurred in vehicles moving through the battle area. Such movement attracted air attacks and set up potential ambush situations. Although the commanders had to move by vehicle to control the battlefield better, it appears most did so without an adequate escort capable of discouraging some of the attacks. Much of this movement was done in hours of very good visibility which facilitated enemy air attacks. Some of their disdain for enemy capabilities may have resulted from Luftwaffe reports of friendly air superiority or the belief that a staff car was too small a target to be effectively engaged.

Finally, throughout the war German generals retained distinctive but dangerous markings of their grade. They continued to wear distinctive uniforms and flew vehicular pennants advertising their position. Both provided target information to snipers, ambushes, and partisans.

The Germans never identified this as a problem during the war and never developed training to prepare transferred GOs for the lethal battlefield that awaited them. It was truly an examination given before the lesson.

We found the Airland Battle stuff less convincing. It’s a pretty long reach, projecting GO casualties and consequent disruptions in American units in the event of The Big One breaking out. But the author’s idea of using wartime German experience to predict US experience is interesting.

Here’s the file:

German General Officer Casualties In WW II-Major French L. MacLean.pdf

If You’re Prone to Collection Envy Syndrome, Don’t Watch This

You may have seen this video already as it’s been going around. But it’s a collection tour of a collection that we can say with some confidence is deeper than yours… it’s sure as hell broader and deeper than ours.

Not all his descriptions are accurate. Can you spot his errors on the tank and the bombs? Those are a couple of the easy ones to catch.

He has a right to be proud of his collection though, that’s for sure. Heck, he’s lucky he has space to put it all… in any ordinary setting it would be a rather unique hoarder problem.

Two Fights: Pistol Defender vs. Multiple Rifles

Here are two fights from John Correia’s Active Self Protection channel. They’ve been posted in the last week, and they happened far away from each other (Saudi Arabia and Turkey). Both show cops engaged by terrorists.

In the first, one or two Saudi cops are engaged by presumed ISIL terrorists. Despite being outgunned pistols-to-AKs by enemies who close to within spatter range, the cops manage to eke out a victory from such an inauspicious start. The guy who’s doing the most shooting is Corporal Jeeran Awaji, who was wounded in the incident, but put both of his assailants down like a couple of rabid dogs.

Here Awaji receives a visit from his boss’s boss’s (many times) boss.

It is not new for terrorists to attack police: it has always been their tactic. Hamas terrorists conduct regular knife and improvised-gun attacks on Israeli and Egyptian police; the Boston Marathon bombers murdered a policeman, MIT campus cop Sean Collier, to try to steal his pistol. They couldn’t get it out of his retention holster.

Along with just plain desire to kill cops, and desire to loot them of their weapons, terrorists seem to target cops to secure ingress, egress and dwell time on terror targets.

In the second video, Turkish cop Fethi Sekin (right) chases down a car bomber who’d just dropped off his explosive wheels, and runs into an engagement with multiple rifles against him.

Though sheer nerve more than skilled tactics, he almost wins the gunfight.

He takes down one assailant, and then bugs out; they backshoot and kill him.

This guy is a hero by the usual combat vet definition: “All the heroes are dead.” Turkish police ultimate shot two assailants dead, including the one this cop nailed, and are seeking at least one more. But they captured a lot of weapons on the scene, including RPGs with multpple warheads…

…even more spare warheads…

AKs and magazines … (the decedent in the image is one of the attackers).

And a Beretta 70 or 71 with a couple of spare magazines.

We can’t tell if the dark-clad guys in the background are part of the attack, or fleeing citizens. It looks like one of them gets nailed, too. But in any event, the quantity of weapons recovered are more suited to a larger element.

Meanwhile, in the United States? A cop, facing a couple of barking dogs, “was in fear for his life,” and tried to shoot them, succeeding only in shooting himself in the foot. He missed the dogs, whereupon at least one of them bit him. Normally we’re rooting for the cops around here, but, well, it was New Jersey.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Hands

Trevor Timon mugshot.

Hands, and, it turns out, an extremely lenient court. But then again, it’s England: the guy would have gone away longer for owning a gun, but killing people is practically okay, as long as you don’t do it with a gun. The killer in this case — a career violent “thug life” criminal with a record longer the history of failed lenity in corrections — will walk out of prison free as a bird in no more than six years.

Sooner, if he doesn’t kill anybody else in the nick. Which, given his history, is not a certainty.

Trevor Timon, 31, threw a killer punch at former Coutt’s banker Oliver Dearlove, 30, who died less than 24 hours later.

Dearlove’s long-term girlfriend Claire Wheatley, told the court that one punch took away the love of her life.

She said: ‘His death was not the result of an unfortunate event such as a car accident or life-long illness but as the result of a senseless act of one individual in one moment of time, with no real meaning or justification.”

Yeah, but Timon’s a vibrant, diverse minority, so he’s automatically misunderstood and the rest of society is supposed to take a few fatal blows for the sake of Diversity Is Our Vibrancy.

Of course, it happens in Once Great Britan, where guns are outlawed, but a thug killing a guy gets treated like he just barely crossed the felony/misdemeanor line.

Dearlove was at a reunion with friends from Portsmouth University on the night of the attack, ending in the Zerodegrees microbrewery with Andrew Cook and Neil Durrant.

They left, and were walking to get a taxi when they started talking to a group of four women Timon knew.

When Dearlove complimented pictures of one of the woman’s baby Timon, who is of mixed race, turned up and claimed he became angered after the group used a racial slur – ‘half chap’ – towards him.

Before delivering the fatal punch, Timon warned Dearlove ‘if you don’t move on, I’ll knock you out’ in Blackheath, south east London, just after midnight on the Sunday of the August Bank holiday weekend last year.

Dearlove collapsed immediately from the ‘catastrophic’ injury, and was pronounced dead less than 24 hours later.

Timon with the props of thug life: booze and pit bull.

What that usually means around hospitals here, is that the poor guy was DRT, brain-wise, but they kept him plugged into the machinery for long enough for friends and family to gather and grieve. Maybe they do things differently on that scepter’d isle, but we doubt it.

The humane action of the hospital staff stands in stark contrast to the cruelty of the judge in the case, whose conduct shows he valued Timon’s worthless, violent life highly, and Dearlove’s harmless, productive life at zero.

Timon admitted manslaughter but denied murder, which he was cleared of at the Old Bailey on Wednesday.

Jailing Timon, Judge Mark Dennis QC said: ‘This was a senseless death that occurred as a result of an act borne out of a deep flaw in your character.

‘He was defenceless to the punch. He had displayed no intention to engage in aggression or violence. It was therefore an unprovoked and gratuitous act.’

So why didn’t the judge punish him? Six years is pathetic. It is a mockery of justice. What are the odds that this man will commit another violent crime, no later than 2022? Well, the best guide to future behavior is past behavior:

Jurors heard he had previous convictions for violence, including for battery in 2010 for knocking a woman unconscious after telling her ‘I’m going to bang you out’.

Timon has a total of 12 previous convictions for offences against people and property. It has also emerged that his brother is in prison for murder.

via Trevor Timon who killed Oliver Dearlove with a single punched jailed for 6 years | Metro News.

That’s an interesting difference from UK and Former Colonial law, that favors British practice: here, Timon’s lifelong history of violent crime would seldom be admissible prior to the sentencing phase of the trial (and sometimes not even then).

Still, six years for a violent fatal assault, with a defendant whose history is that of a bipedal pathogen, is not remotely justice. Some of our readers, like former prison priest Peter Grant, would say he’s a soul worth saving. Theologically, Peter would have a point, but in practical terms Timon is a waste of sperm and egg, and a liability to keep around. In a just world his carbon footprint would be on its way to zero.

But hey, he didn’t do something English jurisprudence frowns on, like keep an antique firearm in his house. He just beat a guy to death (after perfecting his one-punch technique on other productive citizens).

An SF Brother Comes Home

Here is a video of one of the enoute Dignified Transfers of the remains of Special Forces Warrant Officer Shawn Thomas of 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg. WO1 Thomas fell not in combat with an armed enemy, but in a motor vehicle accident in Niger, Africa, during a routine joint combined training/exercise deployment. That doesn’t make him any less dead, nor does it alter the grief of his wife, his friends and teammates, and, even, the crew and passengers of the plane that transported his remains.

We in the SF community are grateful to the aircrew, airline, and especially the passengers who showed such great respect, despite being inconvenienced.

Freedom isn’t free. In our eight or nine years of peacetime active duty, our Special Forces group lost men to electrocution, parachute mishaps, a Fulton STAR mishap, a skiing mishap, and even to entanglement in brush while crossing a stream swollen with snowmelt runoff. And, yes, motor vehicle accidents.  After going into the Reserves and Guard, we we less connected to the other battalions and companies in our Group, but we’d get word of fatal and serious accidents from time to time.

You can’t train for combat without some risky activities. And you can’t conduct risky activity indefinitely without rolling snake eyes some time.

In cases like this, where fallen service members are transported on commercial aircraft, it’s customary for the cockpit crew to hold the doors on the aircraft (with the exception of allowing an escort to debark) to allow the casket to be transferred with suitable dignity. As you can see in the video, the pallbearers — often from the decedent’s unit, and sometimes volunteers — and the mortuary personnel have a procedure for this and execute it with the maximum dignity to the memory of the fallen man, and the minimum inconvenience to other travelers.

Very occasionally, someone gets mouthy or disrespectful on the plane. You can’t eliminate a certain percentage of humanity being jerks. But it doesn’t happen much, because, after all, they’re already segregated — most of Hollywood and Congress flies by private jet.

Three Important Phases of the Revolver-Automatic Transition

One advantage you can get from reading out-of-date books is insight to what was current thinking many years ago. Looking over L.R. Wallack’s American Pistol and Revolver Design and Performance from 1978 (one of a series of four books Wallack produced beginning in the seventies: Rifle, Shotgun, Pistol & Revolver, and a combined sporting arms Design and Performance) reminded us of what it was like to live the transition from revolvers to automatic pistols.

It didn’t happen all at once; instead, different groups of shooters transitioned at different times or in different phases. These phases were defined less by nation or area of the world, and more by the functional purpose of their firearms. The phases went approximately like this:

  • Phase I: First tier armies chose semi-autos to replace revolvers as service pistols.
  • Phase II: Bullseye target shooters embrace semi-autos for competition.
  • Phase III: Police transition from .38 or .357 revolvers to semi-autos as service pistols.
  • Phase IV: Private-Sector shooters follow, mostly, those three groups, which are more or less influential on informal sport shooters and those who purchase firearms for self- or home defense.
  • Phase V: The last group to transition are criminals, who depend on weapons stolen or otherwise diverted from the streams of lawful commerce.

Three of these phases deserve a little more explanation, for each of the first three phases was keyed to a specific need of those particular shooters.

Phase I: Militaries

Colt 1905 pistol from the US Army 1907 trials.

The armed forces of the world, often reviled as backward and hidebound, were by far the first to transition to auto pistols, most of them beginning in the fifteen years from 1899-1914. Most of these services had adopted cartridge revolvers in the 1870s, so their previous service sidearm was barely more than two decades old. (The US, for example, adopted the Colt revolver in 1873, but by 1903 was experimenting with auto pistols and by 1906 had selected a cartridge and shortlisted three pistol designs). By 1907 the Colt was nearly final, and by 1911 it was adopted and in production.

What drove the military adoption of the auto pistol was the same thing that drove the adoption of Col. Colt’s own magnificent invention fifty years earlier: the advantage more portable firepower gave to the army’s scouting, screening, and shock arm, the horse cavalry. The auto pistol trumped the revolver by providing not only more shots without reloading, but also rapid reloading, via the clip of Steyr or Mauser, or the detachable box magazine of Luger or Browning designs.

Sure, the gallant mounted branch was due to be rendered obsolete by both the superior scouting and screening that could be done by the airplane, the superior shock that came from tanks, and the increased lethality that modern machine guns and artillery brought to the battlefield. But in 1907 (Steyr), 08 (Luger), and 11 (Colt 1911) military planners expected the cavalry to be as vital as it was in the American CIvil War or Napoleonic Wars, and their preferences in a sidearm not only helped select those pistols, but also drove some of their detail design (the Colt’s grip safety was one such horse-soldier request).

Having bought the guns with cavalry in mind, services worldwide continued to use them even after the last cavalry mounts had been put out to pasture (literally or figuratively.

Phase II: Bullseye Shooters

We hadn’t thought much about why paper-punchers transitioned from revolvers to autos in the sixties and seventies of the last century. But Wallack did, and had a pretty good explanation (pp. 194-195).

Most target shooters use autos in preference to revolvers. There are several reasons. A revolver poses more problems in target shooting because it must be cocked for each shot, has a longer hammer fall and thus longer lock time, and, many shooters claim, is not as well-balanced for target work.  These are not factors for any sporting use. the point is that if your interest is purely target shooting, your choice ought to be an autoloader; but if it’s a sporting gun you have in mind, then you may choose either one according to your personal likes. ….

 The big advantage autoloaders have over revolvers would seem to be that there is only one chamber rather than the revolver’s cylinder with six to nine charge holes. This doesn’t necessarily mean better accuracy, but it does mean that it costs more to machine all the parts necessary to perfect alignment in a revolver. That means that dollar for dollar you have a better chance of getting a more accurate gun at a lower price with the auto simply because there’s less manufacturing time involved.

Autoloaders do not require you to recock the gun each time it’s fired, which is a big advantage for the target shooter, because he doesn’t have to change his grip, nor does he have to take the time to cock, but gets back on target quicker. More or less in the same breath it should be mentioned that the longer hammer fall of the revolver produces slightly lower lock time. on the other hand, it also provides a heavier and more consistent hammer fall with corresponding better indignation ignition. I suspect these to might cancel each other out.

Which gun provides a better grip is purely subjective and need not be a consideration, except that it is frequently given as a reason by many top target pistoleers and so cannot be ignored completely.

These advantages were tangible enough that a strong majority of ranked bullseye shooters were using automatics by the late seventies.

Phase III: Police Forces Transition

The police were not influenced rapidly by military or target-shooting trends, but by the late 1970s some departments were issuing auto pistols and more of them were authorizing privately-owned ones. But one particular incident out of many created enough of a stir in the law enforcement firearms community that pistols (mostly in 9mm) began replacing revolvers in a huge preference cascade that shows the inflection point being 1986.

What happened in 1986? A black day for the FBI, known forever as The Miami Shootout (it was actually in Homestead), in which a squad of FBI special agents thought they brought overwhelming force to bear on two fugitive bank robbers, only to have the robbers see their force and raise them long guns. The Bureau won the gunfight, killing both robbers, but it was a Pyrrhic victory,

Here is a clip from a TV movie that depicts this shootout with considerable accuracy. We do believe the Ruger that one robber was carrying was semi-automatic, not automatic as depicted here. In addition, the three revolver rounds a mortally wounded robber fires at wounded FBI agent Ed Mirales were fired from behind his back, and he never knew the bandit was behind hi shooting (other eyewitnesses saw this). Apart from those two details, it’s pretty close. (We’ll post an FBI training video about this shootout down below so that you can see for yourself).

Here’s the FBI training video. It doesn’t have the production values of the Hollywood version, but it’s official. Make sure you get through the full-speed re-enactment to get to the slowed-down, annotated version with narration by a surviving (wounded) agent.

The FBI was transitioning to 9mm Smith & Wesson Model 459 automatic pistols at the time of this shootout; but the shootout drove a stake into that gun’s future with the Bureau.

This shootout drove the auto pistol transition faster, encouraged many other departments to follow the lead of the FBI, and also was instrumental in (1) the creation or adoption of more powerful police rounds (first a hotter 9mm for the FBI, then 10mm auto, .40 S&W), and (2) the provision of patrol carbines and training on them to law enforcement officers.

Sunday Slouch

It’e been busy times around Hog Manor this week, but we’re fresh out of stored-up posts, and so this morning we gathered our wits and set down at the computer to dash off a hasty 0900 post — and it was off to the distraction races through the auricles and ventricles of the Intertubes. And thus we slouched into procrastination, with the 0900 post becoming a 1000 post… and then being posted by eleven. 

This week, as mentioned, we resumed cardio (overdue that), replaced six of the seven remaining elegant exterior light fixtures with soulless powder-coated aluminum jobs, fixed (mostly) a short gutter that’s been hosed since our error in hiring roofers to do the roof three years ago,

Cardio is a bad habit to get out of and is necessary to resume weight loss. The strength training has been wonderful in terms of increased strength, mobility, agility and confidence — enough that we’ve penciled in a vacation with some parachuting involved — but it and walking the dog aren’t enough for an aging metabolism.

And the dog walking is itself limited by the fact that Small Dog Mk II is a Southern boy who turns “going for a walk” into “complaining whilst being dragged” in conditions of cold and precipitation. Unfortunately for him he now lives at 43º N latitude, like it or not.

The exterior fixtures were handmade brass, charmingly patinated in vintage verdigris but battered by New England winters, and in some case lacking unobtainium parts. For reasons known but to the shade of Nikola Tesla they ate increasingly rare incandescent bulbs at Tasmanian Devil rates. The new ones are generic visually, but contain el cheapo LED bulbs. They’re not as instant-on as the incandescents they replace, but we’ve got to do something to get the electrical bill in this pile under control.

Suppose we could blog less. That uses a lot of ‘lectricity, right? (Actually, it’s the space heaters in the otherwise unheated garage that are killing us).

Got less book writing and book prep done than desired this week. But it was a good week for airplane progress, with the first plans-section’s parts for the fuselage center section completing prep, so we’ll probably be assembling fuselage structures this week.

In the meantime, don’t bother us — we’re busy slouching.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Box Cutters

While the humble box cutter will ever be associated with the wholesale murders of 11 September 2001, it turns out that it has a presence in retail murder as well.

And, of course, it’s one more illustration of the price of hybristophilia — chicks dig jerks. That is, right up until the moment they don’t, which is probably a moment too late.

This victim had a handgun, a Glock. What she didn’t have was the will and mindset to defend herself. Instead, she tried to negotiate with her murderer — a negotiation that was, remarkably, recorded inadvertently by the killer. Now it will help hang him. (Well, it’s California, so it’ll help send him to prison for five or eight years). USA Today:

Jill Thomas Grant, 41, a math teacher at Palm Desert High School, was found dead two days before Christmas 2013. Prosecutors have charged Grant’s boyfriend, Michael John Franco, with her murder, alleging that he slit her throat with a box cutter, ran over her with a car and dumped her body at a golf course not far from their home in Indio, Calif.

Court documents filed last week reveal a morbid twist in the case. Prosecutors have a copy of a voicemail that Franco’s phone left in a friend’s inbox on the night Grant went missing. The voicemail, which seems to be an inadvertent “butt dial,” appears to capture Grant in the last moments of her life. Much of the conversation is inaudible, but in the snippets that can be understood, Grant speaks as if trying to convince Franco they could call 911 and say she was attacked by someone else.

Judge refuses to dismiss charges against cop in Philando Castile’s death
“What if I drive the car someplace and call myself and say I was attacked?” Grant says in the voicemail, according to a transcript filed in court. “Would that work?

“But we can think of something to say like (inaudible.) I am sure we can think of something. Say it was (inaudible.) What can we say? … What do you want me to say? What should I say?”

The voicemail adds to a hefty pile of evidence primed for Franco’s upcoming trial. According to a case summary filed by prosecutors, bank security footage shows Franco using Grant’s ATM card to withdraw money on the night she was killed, and Franco was later caught driving Grant’s car while in possession of her driver’s license, bank cards, cellphone and a Glock pistol registered to her name. Police tased Franco, and he toppled over while reaching for her gun. While being taken into custody Franco allegedly said he was fleeing to Mexico and knew he was “going to prison for the rest of his life,” court documents state.

Franco has pleaded not guilty to all charges. He is due in court for a pretrial hearing Tuesday.

Evidence continued to accumulate after Franco was put behind bars. In court filings, prosecutors claim Franco confessed to one of his cellmates, who will be called as a witness in the upcoming trial.

Franco allegedly told the cellmate he cut Grant’s throat during an argument, then took her to the golf course — wounded but still alive — to bury her body. When Grant tried to escape, Franco ran her over with her own car. The cellmate claims Franco said he would “beat the case because he’s going to act crazy and go to Patton (State Hospital) for seven years.”’

Franco’s defense attorney, Dante Gomez, has argued that this reference to Patton should be excluded from the upcoming trial because it’s irrelevant to whether or not Franco killed Grant.

Regardless, the allegation that Franco hit Grant with a car appears to be backed up by physical evidence. When Franco was arrested driving Grant’s car, police found blood on the front bumper and handprints on the hood, court documents state. Grass in the wheel well appeared to come from a golf course, just like the course where Grant’s body was found.

via Teacher begged for her life in a ‘butt dial’ voicemail.