The Single Book

Cave Ab Homine Unius Libri

And here is mine. Not the Bible nor the Havamal, nor the Koran nor the Lord of the Rings. If you asked me for one book that told you everything you needed to know about life, I'd pick that one -- The Ballad of the White Horse.


Count Me Opposed: anything that the D.C. government is in favor of, but especially this business of putting cameras everywhere.

The government should not be spying on our every move. It especially should not be doing so when these cameras have a nearly zero-percent chance of actually stopping crime -- terrorism or otherwise. Catching the criminals after the fact? Maybe. Fat lot of good that will do with suicide bombers.

Let's spend our resources a little more wisely. You want surveillence in the neighborhoods? Tell the people what to look for, and listen when one of us calls for help on 911. If we feel strongly enough about it to make a citizen's arrest, back us up instead of viewing us as the enemy. We're everywhere already, and we work for free.

We neither need nor want Big Brother to watch us, in order to keep us safe. It would help a lot, though, if the government remembered that we the People are the source of its legitimacy, and its principle ally. If it wants our support, it needs only ask. These attempts to control and monitor us are not welcome, and they are not necessary.


A New Rifle:

As some of you (well, probably only the hardcore gunfighters) will know, Smith & Wesson this year announced an end to the production run of the Model 19 (blue) / 66 (stainless) "Combat Magnums." This is one of the more famous handguns in American history, a six-shooting .357 Magnum revolver based on Smith & Wesson's lightweight "K" frame. The standard frames run up to N, which is their heavy frame for the .44 Remington Magnums and such. Their new showpiece, the 500, is on what they call an "X Frame."

The 19/66 was designed in cooperation with a Border Patrol officer named Bill Jordan, who was also a renowed gunfighter. He wanted a K-frame .357 Magnum because it would be light to carry, and have the stopping power of a magnum round. And so for fifty years the Combat Magnum type revolvers have been a staple of law enforcement and field carry.

Unfortunately, it turns out that the light frame isn't really up to the pressures of the .357 Magnum. Oddly, this was only discovered recently -- almost everyone who bought one was using .38 Special ammunition, which produces much lower pressures, for their target shooting. It's only when the .357 Mag is run through it constantly that it will stress and break the receiver.

Well, to make a long story short, S&W discontinued the model as of this production year, and I decided to get rid of mine. I took it down to a local place today and traded it in, along with my shoulder rig, speedloaders, etc. All together, it was enough of a trade that I could get something nice.

I already have a perfectly good "replacement" for the 66, which I have actually owned longer and like better anyway -- the 629-4, a .44 on the N-frame. So, I didn't need another double-action revolver.

Instead, I decided to do something I've been needing to do for a long time. I got a .22 rifle.

The .22 rifle is a wonderful thing because it enables you to shoot a lot, really improving your skills. My riflemanship has tarnished badly over the years -- I hadn't fired a rifle at all for almost a decade, I have to admit, having hunted with shotguns and carried handguns for defensive purposes. But there are real advantages to being a rifleman, and so about a year ago I picked up a Winchester 94 in .30-30 and began to practice with it. In the last year, I've probably fired two hundred rounds out of it.

With a .22 rifle, though, you could fire five thousand rounds for the same investment. That means a lot more practice, a lot more fun afternoons at the range, and a lot better riflemanship. So, since I had the chance to get something good, I got myself a good .22 rifle.

To be specific, I got this one, the Henry Golden Boy in .22 Long Rifle. This was Guns & Ammo's "Rifle of the Year" in 2001, and I now know why. What a beautiful piece, with an action as smooth as silk.

I fired fifty rounds today -- compared to two hundred all year with the .30-30 -- and bought several hundred more. I figure I'll carry them in my truck, and just stop by the range whenever I go out that way. With any luck, and a few months' dedicated practice, I won't have to be ashamed to post pictures of my rifle targets anymore. :)


Comments on Today's News:

On the British Police shooting dead a suspected bomber -- Good job, too. One can get pretty much the same amount of instant, functional intel from an autopsy and a raid on a dead bomber's home as from a living, but deeply uncooperative suspect who won't give you his name or anything else.

You can get a lot more of use out of that autopsy and raid than you can from a bomber who escaped into the crowd, or who blew the crowd apart. Plus, he doesn't blow the crowd apart; and he doesn't escape to do more mayhem; and you don't have to worry about him being set free by some politician attempting to bargain with the terrorists, as all those IRA bombers were by that same British government.

Of course, if he was innocent, you killed an innocent man. This is a great moral risk, but be honest with yourself: would you rather live with the pain of having shot dead an innocent man, or the pain of having not shot dead a man who proceeded to blast apart a busload of school children? Giving that you're gambling on the two options, your choice is surely clear.

On Bob Byrd -- The Honorable Byrd has a way with words, doesn't he? "One's life is probably in no greater danger in the jungles of deepest Africa than in the jungles of America's large cities... In my judgment, much of the problem has been brought about by the mollycoddling of criminals by some of the liberal judges who have been placed on the nation's courts in recent years."

Well, OK. But the question ought not to be, 'is one's life in greater danger in an American city or an African jungle?' It ought to be, 'is one's life in greater danger in an American city or an African city?' Africa's most orderly cities compare unfavorably even to America's least orderly ones -- those few remaining outposts, like the District of Columbia, which deny the right to keep and bear arms.

And if you want to compare African jungles to the American wilderness, well, let's not even bother. Africa remains both the original human homeland, and the most perilous place on earth. This explains a lot about humans.

On New York City's bag-searches -- Terrorism is very destructive to liberty. But it doesn't have to be. I remain convinced that, before this is over, the war is going to lead to the end of the American city -- not through the detonation of WMD, but through making the places even more totally unlivable.

The economic justification for the city fades every year with the increase in telecommunications and other infrastructure. Combine that with 'just in time' transit systems, and there's no reason to have a city except for deep-water ports. Even these will mainly be necessary as distribution points for the broader society, and collection points for what remains of our manufacture-for-export industry. The manufacturer itself can easily erect a very small "company town" in one of the emptier parts of the country, using an airport or interstate to send its goods where they need to be sent. As is already the case in Savannah, there is no reason for the port city to be occupied with any major industry except the port itself. Thus, even in this case you can have a small city in terms of population performing what remains of the urban economic function.

The need to distribute goods somewhat more widely will result in a heavier use of oil prodcuts; but the increase in telecommuting will vastly decrease our current levels of consumption. My sense is that something like most of our gasoline goes into private cars driving you from home to your place of business. When a sizable part of the culture just stays home to work, that's a lot of gasoline that doesn't get used.

Why, then, should we put up with these violations of the Fourth Amendment, such as we see in NYC today? One can argue that they're necessary on mass transit systems; so why have that many people in one place? The effect of this distribution of the population is the defense of the individual and family from both terrorist and major-power (say, Chinese) threats, and not coincidentally the defense of our economic power base. Thus, it makes sense from both a personal and societal standpoint.

Move to the country. Telecommute. You'll be glad you did, and so will Uncle Sam.



I learned reading The Independent today that Corona has failed in its attempt to do something really dumb:

Eurocermex, European distributors of the market-leading Mexican Corona, has lost in its bid to trademark a physical object: a clear bottle containing yellow liquid (no sniggering please) with a wedge of lime in the bottleneck. This has long been the cool way of serving Corona, possibly because the lime gives flavour to what would otherwise lack it almost entirely, and...
Apparently, they applied to the EU to make it a legal violation to serve another beer in this fashion. Exactly why it would should be illegal for a bar to serve a beer to a customer in the fashion the customer ordered was not clear enough even for the EU, which surely must be the easiest of all audiences for this sort of claim.

Beer, like wives and sunshine, is one of the great parts of life, something we appreciate and yet don't think about that much. (Also like wives and sunshine, beer is a wonderful thing of which one can nevertheless have too much; though indeed, to round out the similie, in spite of that one will always eventually be wanting more of them again.)

In this very early Grim's Hall post, I quoted a well-remembered passage from an old Robin Hood story, in which the famous outlaws have a picnic involving bread and cheese and a skin of good March beer. That seems like a good way to spend a summer day, and as the weekend is upon us, I will recommend it to you. You probably can't get a good October or March beer at this time of year, but there are several that will do. I find that Red Stripe goes well with the heat, being a little sweeter than usual (Jamaica's other famous beer, Dragon Stout, is likewise far sweeter than stouts normally).

The times grow darker, we see in the news. Well, they were dark in Robin Hood's day as well. Like Robin Hood take your blade and whatever you prefer instead of a longbow, but have your picnic all the same. Down with Prince John, and al Qaeda, and all the rest of the lot of tyrants.

UPDATE: On rereading this note, which I dashed off quickly and without much consideration, I see that I wrote "Beer, like wives and sunshine, is one of the great parts of life, something we appreciate and yet don't think about that much." On reflection, I recognize that this may seem like a shocking or callous statement to some of my younger readers. I should like to say something in that regard.

Young love is a different thing than love when it matures. When you first fall in love, and especially when it is true love, your beloved occupies all of your thoughts.

Once you have been together for a while, however, the challenges of surviving in a hard world will eventually pull your focus away from one another. The challenges and difficulties of life can be demanding -- and none more so than childrearing, which can occupy every last moment that used to be "free."

In that place, the things you value most are the things you don't have to think about. The things you can rely upon, and to which you know you can trust your weight, are the things that count most of all. There is nothing to love better than the thing you can trust, and trust so much that you never have to think about the question.

So it is that the best of good wives may find herself in this category. A bad wife never will -- a man has to worry about one such as that all the time. Those of you who are young women aspiring to a successful marriage might give a thought to becoming that kind of wife.

It may not seem like much, compared to the castles in the air that arise in some of the love songs. It may seem, at first glance, to fade by comparison to the passions and furies of young love. Still, when people are making a life for each other -- and trying to build a life for their children -- there is a lot to be said for it. If you have to think about each other all the time, you will run right up on the rocks. If you need not spend your focus on that, however, you can not only take time to steer -- you can do so knowing that the rest of the ship is being kept in order by a faithful companion and partner.

"Beer and sunshine" isn't bad company to be in, when the play of childhood is behind you, and the labors of the world are your daily bread. In truth, there's little better company to be had in this mortal world.



I haven't seen an episode of Star Trek in many years, but it used to run as late-night TV back when I was young enough to still watch late-night TV (i.e., before I had a job and a child, leaving me in the same camp as The Geek when it comes to "lost sleep"). So, after the umpteenth blog pointed to the obit for James Doohan, I finally gave in and went to take a look.

Did you?

At 19, James escaped the turmoil at home by joining the Canadian army, becoming a lieutenant in artillery. He was among the Canadian forces that landed on Juno Beach on D-Day. "The sea was rough," he recalled. "We were more afraid of drowning than the Germans."

The Canadians crossed a minefield laid for tanks; the soldiers weren't heavy enough to detonate the bombs. At 11:30 that night, he was machine-gunned, taking six hits: one that took off his middle right finger (he managed to hide the missing finger on screen), four in his leg and one in the chest. The chest bullet was stopped by his silver cigarette case.
Rest in peace. Sir.


Foreign Names:

An aside inspired by "the Sheik Marine's" comments below. It happens that I also have a foreign name: a Chinese name, in fact. It was bestowed upon me by a farmer near Hangzhou from whom I often bought vegetables. Native speakers of Chinese have a lot of trouble with my English name, which contains a consonant formation (Br-) that is not found in Chinese. So, for ease of use, I adopted it and used it on all my documents in China.

The name was 大 鬍 鬚, which is written in pinyin Da Huxu and pronounced "DAH Hoo-shoo."

It translates into English as "Big Beard," which was quite right: at the time, distrusting (for very good reason) the quality of the local water, I drank only beer and disavowed shaving. As a consequence, I ended up with a fine forked beard that would have been the pride of a Viking warrior.

The name is interesting in two ways. The first is that, in Chinese, the family name is written first. Thus, on all my official Chinese documents, I'm identified as "Mr. Big."

The other thing that is interesting is that "HuXu" means "beard" only by historic accident. It began as the name of a tribe of barbarians in Western China, who wore beards. Most Han Chinese men -- "Han" being an ethnic grouping that includes better than ninety percent of China's subjects -- can't grow beards until they get quite old. As a result, the beard itself became identified with these wild barbarian tribes of the west.

As a consequence, the real translation of my Chinese name is, "Big Western Barbarian." I couldn't have made a better or more honest choice.

Sheikh Marine

The Sheik Marine:

Captain Leggett of Southern Appeal has posted some photographs of himself, attired in a tribal headdress that was given to him by grateful Iraqis at a wedding he attended. He says:

I should note that as soon as My Iraqi hosts saw me in the headdress they immediately began calling me "Sheik Marine," a title I was greeted with by almost every member of the tribe every time I was in the area. Unfortunately, the Marine Corps has not yet seen fit to recognize the authority of my tribal title.
They really ought to recognize it. Lawrence of Arabia proved what could be accomplished by working with the tribal structure, and showing respect for and a willingness to participate in their native conceptions of honor. Well done, Joel. Well done.

UPDATE: In the comments, Joel reveals two more important details:
Y’all might find this humorous. Not only was I made a member of their tribe (Al Ghezzi) I was also given an Arabic name, Kazem Al Ghezzi.
Humorous, no. Impressive, yes.

On another piece of his attire:
My father gave that knife to me when I was enlisted. It is a Randall model 14, in my humble opinion the finest fighting knife made.
You are not alone in your opinion -- many knife enthusiasts love the Randall made knives. My own favorite is the Model 12 "Bear Bowie" design. Yet, as we were discussing on another occasion, the best knife for one fighter is not the best knife for another -- there is a lot of variation that comes from arm length, grip strength, height, and the like. The Model 14 is a very respectable choice.