Friday, July 19, 2019

It's All Fun and Games Until...

Hungarian protesters listening to the radio – 00:04 am, 18 Sep 2006
Ah those wacky socialists, what will they do next?
The 2006 protests in Hungary were a series of anti-government protests triggered by the release of Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány's private speech in which he confessed that his Hungarian Socialist Party had lied to win the 2006 election, and had done nothing worth mentioning in the previous four years of governing. Most of the events took place in Budapest and other major cities between 17 September and 23 October. It was the first sustained protest in Hungary since 1989. (Source)
I am surprised that I hadn't heard this story back in 2006. I need to read up on this (I mean I do seem to be going full political lately), sounds like people in some countries don't like it when their politicians lie to them.

Something we could learn from, methinks.

But like the title says, it's all fun and games until someone steals a tank!

Moral of the story? Never underestimate old dudes who once wore a uniform. (Some of them remember their training!)

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Busy Day

Prise du palais des Tuileries le 10 août 1792, durant la Révolution française
Jean Duplessis-Bertaux
Busy day at the salt mine, had no time at lunch to write, decided to slack off upon arrival at the manse. Nose was to the grindstone die ganzer Tag. DIL and the kids have returned to sunny California, house is like empty. Also quiet, too quiet. Feline staff likes it.

At any rate, I'm too tired to provide quality, I'm too lazy to give you a rerun...

So you get homework.

Ten myths surrounding the French Revolution. Here.

Read it and let me know your thoughts. I have a French Revolution related post in the works. It's still in my head, I think I can get it out this weekend. It's related to the link I gave you yesterday.

Blogging is hard, talk quietly among yourselves. I shall return.

Oh yes, this happened as well. Juvat had the watch, he did a screen capture for posterity.

Thanks to all who stop by to read these humble scribblings.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

More Politics

Some of us are racking our brains right now.

To be fair, Herr von Kuehnelt-Leddihn said this in the 20th Century, it is now the 21st Century, so, in essence, he nailed it. Perhaps he didn't envision this happening in the first quarter of the century, but it has certainly come to pass.

Yes, I have been kind of "political" as of late. There is a lot going on in this country which makes me worry. A couple of things posted by friends of mine over on koobecaF have set me to thinking, always a dangerous thing.

The first was a post by Scott R., a fellow continually in trouble with the koobecaF kops, who posted this quote from Herr von Kuehnelt-Leddihn:
For the average person, all problems date to World War II; for the more informed, to World War I; for the genuine historian, to the French Revolution.
Of course, this is rather a Eurocentric view of things, many Asians might have doubts about that particular quote. But it made me look the guy up, chase that source under that opening graphic, there's more quotes of interest.

Another koobecaF post from a guy for whom I have a great deal of respect concerned the French Revolution. Specifically this article. While Solzhenitsyn, indeed many others as well, may have mourned "Bastille Day" (officially la Fête nationale), the article itself is rather replete with what I like to call "bad history."

FWIW, Solzhenitsyn was a typical Russian novelist, rather brooding and moody and seeing most things through the lens of his own early life under Soviet Communism. Who can blame him? The chap lived in my old home state for a while and, as I recall, a lot of folks simply did not like him. Great writer, crappy human. As I didn't know him, I'll let that go, just relating decades-old gossip as I remember it.

So yeah, the 14th of July was Sunday last and was indeed the date of la Fête nationale, 'tis a big day in Paris, parades, flyovers, and the like. I can't say what it's like out in the provinces. Like most revolutions, there are lingering bad memories from those days, even 200 years on.

An interesting note (maybe only to me): in France the holiday is also known by it's date (le 14 juillet), as is our own Independence Day. I do have a certain set of friends, purists if you will, who insist on not calling Independence Day, the Fourth of July. Which is just, as they insist, the date of the event, not the event itself. As they say, "Would you refer to Christmas as 'the 25th of December'?"

A salient point, I guess.

Concerning that article about Bastille Day, I'll have more to say on that in a later post. Mostly to correct the bad history evinced therein. History is my thing, I hate seeing it abused. That article kind of went up my posterior in an uncomfortable fashion, sideways as it were.

As for Herr von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, I am currently perusing an interesting book he wrote back in 1943 called The Menace of the Herd, or Procrustes at Large, which is available here, at my favorite price, free. Check it out. Herr von Kuehnelt-Leddihn was not a big fan of democracy (neither am I if you know what a democracy actually is) and that book goes into the whys and wherefores from what I've gathered so far.
The deliberations of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 were held in strict secrecy. Consequently, anxious citizens gathered outside Independence Hall when the proceedings ended in order to learn what had been produced behind closed doors. The answer was provided immediately. A Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, "Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?" With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, "A republic, if you can keep it." (Source)
We live in a republic, not a democracy. There's a difference ya know...

Another interesting article on that topic is here. (I may incorporate a link to that website on the sidebar. POCIR)


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Enemy Within

Member of the fifth column with German paratroopers. May 1940.
Reading the news these days, I have to wonder what is going on with certain groups in the United States. They want: open borders, reparations for sins committed by people long dead, forgiveness of college debt, free health care, free college tuition, ad infinitum...

They can't possibly be serious. Who on Earth is going to pay for all of this?

To my way of thinking, they are not serious, all this nonsense is simply a stalking horse meant to weaken, divide, and eventually overturn the Constitutional government of the United States. These groups are, in essence, and I believe in fact, a Fifth Column.
A fifth column is any group of people who undermine a larger group from within, usually in favor of an enemy group or nation. The activities of a fifth column can be overt or clandestine. Forces gathered in secret can mobilize openly to assist an external attack. This term is also extended to organised actions by military personnel. Clandestine fifth column activities can involve acts of sabotage, disinformation, or espionage executed within defense lines by secret sympathizers with an external force. (Source) 
During the Siege of Madrid in the Spanish Civil War, Nationalist general Emilio Mola told a journalist in 1936 that as his four columns of troops approached Madrid, a "fifth column" of supporters inside the city would support him and undermine the Republican government from within. (Source)
Is there an "enemy group or nation" at play? One could make the argument that Russia, China, and Iran all fit that case. The former two nations have been trying to extend their influence outside of their national borders, while the latter seems to be making a play to control what they call the Persian Gulf (which is what it was called when I was a youth), but which many now call the Arabian Gulf, what the Navy called it when The Nuke's destroyer was patrolling its northern reaches nearly fifteen years ago.

A weakened United States would go far towards allowing those three countries to throw their weight around in many ways. For one thing we can barely afford to keep out Navy maintained and forward as it is now. Start giving away all of that free shite demanded by the progs and we'll be lucky to afford the Coast Guard, let alone a blue water navy of the size needed to keep the oceans free. (Yes, that is our job now, who else can do that? Like it or not, we are the world's police force.)

Given the brouhaha after the last election (which is ongoing and makes me sick to my stomach), it's obvious to me that there are factions within the United States who, if they can't get their way legally, will attempt to do so by nefarious means. They want power, they don't care what the cost of that power is, they don't care who gets hurt in the process. They think they "know better" than the rest of us. Socialism works, but only if the "right sort" of people get to be in charge.

I don't know exactly where all of this is going but I am not liking the possibilities. The American people need to wake up. Our existence as a bastion of freedom is at stake. There are malevolent forces at work in the world. Maybe the apocalypse is coming as foretold, I don't know.

But it gives me pause...

Monday, July 15, 2019


Apparently, blogging is a lot like time travel.  For instance, I wrote this last Wednesday for publishing today about a post from some other blogger on July 1st about something that was done more than 70 years ago.*

Ain't life grand?

Anyhoo...Blogger CW Swanson, over at the perfectly named blog Daily Timewaster, posted this picture.
Source (AKA the blogpost I'm referring to)

And... because flying and Fighters and WWII, it caught my attention.

Turns out this wasn't a run of the mill P-47 (not that there are ANY run of the mill P-47s), instead this was a P-47 out of a Rescue Squadron.  Specifically the 5th Emergency Rescue Squadron.

Now, I'm sure our resident WWII expert, El Sargento de la fuerza aérea muy viejo, can wax salacious loquacious eloquently on said squadron.  The rest of us mere mortals must break out the search engine and boldly go where no one...

So I "ducked" on to the internet and found this site, which had a nice synopsis of the squadron.  Essentially, while the RAF had an air rescue capability from the start of the war, the 8th Air Force did not. With the daylight bombing campaign in full swing and losses mounting, the error of their ways became apparent. On May 8 1944, a conference was held where it was decided to rectify that situation.

With the support of Col Hub Zemke, the commander of the 56th Fighter Group in the 65 Fighter wing (that took quite a bit of digging to ensure that was the relationship), the squadron was outfitted with flyable P-47s that were no longer certified for combat.  Doing so allowed the squadron to fly its first operational mission within a week of the conference.

To put that last sentence in perspective, it took almost 20 years for the F-35 to become operational.  My how times have changed.

Back on target, juvat !   On Target, aye, El Sargento de la fuerza aérea muy viejo!

The way it worked was when a raid was launched, the squadron would launch formations of two that would escort the bombers to the English Channel. Each formation would orbit there until the bombers returned, being replaced by new formations as fuel dictated.  Bombers who were intending to ditch or in danger thereof would be closely escorted on return.  Once the damaged aircraft and/or crew were in the water, the fighters would drop a raft and radio the crew's location to the rescue boats.  The P-47s were also loaded with flares which could be dropped to assist in locating the crews.
The box-like stores on the wings are the rafts.  Because of weight limitations, the belly tank is smaller than on other P-47s and behind it is mounted the flare dispensers.  The Red, White and Blue stripes were applied to identify the plane as Rescue.

  Later in the war, the squadron was also outfitted with OA-10 Catalinas which increased their rescue capability.
Apart from the lack of US Navy anywhere on the aircraft I don't see a difference, but this is an OA-10A.

The 5th ERS flew a total of 3616 sorties and rescued 938 crewmen. 91 P-47s and 2 OA-10s were lost in the accomplishment of that mission.

5th ERS Logo
Fortunately, I have exactly the same number of takeoffs as landings, so I was never in need of rescue, but it was reassuring to know they were there, and was interesting to read how they got there.

*Why post early?  Mrs J has (had)  a travel agent certification course in Galveston.  Given the no-notice storm that may affect travel, I thought I'd rather be better safe than sorry.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

To My Kids

21 July 2018
It was nearly a year ago that The WSO and I laid in a course for Boston and sallied forth to see the Foo Fighters at Fenway Park. A tale I recorded here, for posterity dontcha know? Anyhoo, I remember that day with great fondness, it reminds me of a number of times that my adult children have treated their old man to some seriously good times. (Not sure what I ever did to deserve such great kids, I credit The Missus Herself with being an incredible mother. She raised 'em right. Sure, I helped, a little, mostly her though.)

At any rate, thanks to my kids I've been to a U.S. Navy ship christening, USS Nitze (DDG 94, The Naviguesser's second ship), and two ship commissioning ceremonies, USS Nitze and USS Colorado (SSN 788), the latter courtesy of The Nuke.

I've had the chance to ride two aircraft carriers, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) and USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). The former was thanks to The Nuke, she was in ship's company as a nuclear propulsion officer, and the latter was thanks to The WSO, she was in USS Ronald Reagan's air wing as a Naval Flight Officer.

I still remember the day I was out in California visiting The WSO and her tribe when my son motored down from where he lives, over a two hour drive, and asked if I'd like to go down to Sandy Eggo for the day. The plan was to pop by The Shakespeare Pub & Grill for a spot of lunch, a place where Lex used to "hold court," as it were. While there I got to meet Tuna face to face for the first time and the good Cap'n of HMS Defiant and his lady.

We had a nice repast, had a Guinness or two (surprise, surprise), and great conversation. It was an afternoon well-spent. While there my son took me over to Fort Rosecrans, where the earthly remains of Captain Carroll F. LeFon, Jr. are interred. It was a very emotional day and my son drove us ten hours, round trip, just so his Dad could visit a place very meaningful to hisself. Long drive but we got to spend some father/son time together which we hadn't been able to do since he was in college. Now here he was, all grown up, five years in the Navy under his belt, chauffeuring the old man around Southern California.

Had a nice surprise from The Nuke a couple of Christmases ago, a chance to attend a Denver Broncos game live and in person. (Photo of us is in this post. Okay, we're hard to see, trust me, it's The Nuke and Your Humble Scribe.) Now that was a lot of fun. The roar of the crowd, football on the field, and a rather nice bratwurst for half-time. A bit different from the Christmas dinner we'd shared in the officers' mess on USS Dwight D. Eisenhower when she was in port at Norfolk, but every bit as special.

The WSO also surprised me with a trip to the F/A-18E simulator out at NAS Lemoore, courtesy of her husband, Big Time. That tale was told here, can't believe it was six years ago!

Anyhoo, the kids treat their old man pretty damned good, it's humbled I am.

Now t'other day on the Book of Faces, loyal reader Valory mentioned that "we've never seen these kids." While I'm sure she has, I thought I'd reprise a cuppla pictures from when the youngest granddaughter was baptized out Sandy Eggo way. Might be before Valory became a Chanter, but the following photos are from this post.

Going round the table in a clockwise fashion:
Your Humble Scribe, Big Time's Dad, Big Time's Mom, Big Time's uncle, Big Time's brother, Big Time's SIL, my DIL,
The Owl (The Naviguesser's youngest), The NaviguesserBig Oh (The Naviguesser's oldest), Little Bit (The WSO's oldest), The WSO, Big Time, The Nuke (holding L'il Sweetie, the youngest of all the grand-progeny),
and (of course) the lovely lady who is my wife, The Missus Herself.
The same crowd, taken from the other end of the table.
FWIW, the finger is much better, hence the longer post, and continues to improve. I may be back to strumming and drumming in a few weeks. Yes, spare a thought for the lovely lady who is The Missus Herself, I'm sure she can hardly wait.


Saturday, July 13, 2019

Open Thread Saturday

The DIL and two of the grandkids are in town for a cuppla, so my time is rather booked for now. I'll be around and while I may have much to say, I won't have much time to write it down and share it with you. So...

I'll throw a topic out there and let y'all chew the fat on it while I entertain the progeny of my progeny.
In the United States, the term "deep state" is used to describe a conspiracy theory which suggests that collusion and cronyism exists within the US political system and constitutes a hidden government within the legitimately elected government. Some people believe that there is "a hybrid association of elements of government and parts of top-level finance and industry that is effectively able to govern the United States without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process", whereas others consider the deep state to encompass corruption that is particularly prevalent amongst career politicians and civil servants. Wikipedia
A "conspiracy theory"?

I say nonsense, it's real.

What say you?

Friday, July 12, 2019

Nothing in Common

Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude. - Alexis de Tocqueville
socialism noun

Definition of socialism
  1. any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
  2. (a) a system of society or group living in which there is no private property (b) a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state
  3. a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done
Communism, Socialism, Capitalism, and Democracy... In some sources, communism is equated with socialism; in others, it is contrasted with democracy and capitalism. Part of this confusion stems from the fact that the word communism has been applied to varying political systems over time. When it was first used in English prose, communism referred to an economic and political theory that advocated the abolition of private property and the common sharing of all resources among a group of people, and it was often used interchangeably with the word socialism by 19th-century writers. The differences between communism and socialism are still debated, but generally English speakers used communism to refer to the political and economic ideologies that find their origin in Karl Marx’s theory of revolutionary socialism, which advocates a proletariat overthrow of capitalist structures within a society, societal and communal ownership and governance of the means of production, and the eventual establishment of a classless society. The most well-known expression of Marx’s theories is the 20th-century Bolshevism of the U.S.S.R., in which the state, through a single authoritarian party, controls a society’s economy and social activities with the goal of realizing Marx’s theories.

Communism is often contrasted with capitalism and democracy, though these can be false equivalencies depending on the usage. Capitalism refers to an economic theory in which a society’s means of production are held by private individuals or organizations, not the government, and where prices, distribution of goods, and products are determined by a free market. It can be contrasted with the economic theories of communism, though the word communism is used of both political and economic theories. Democracy refers to a system of government in which supreme power is vested in the people and exercised through a system of direct or indirect representation which is decided through periodic free elections. Democracy is contrasted with communism primarily because the 20th-century communism of the U.S.S.R. was characterized by an authoritarian government, whereas the democracy of the 20th-century U.S. was characterized by a representative government. - Merriam-Webster
Yes, I've been a lot more political as of late than I normally am, probably due to the many candidates clamoring to fill the highest office in the land. Most of whom are either charlatans or idiots. One might make the argument that some of them are both. I wouldn't disagree. But those who advocate socialism? They are dangerous.

After spending some time reading up on what socialism means, and that definition from Merriam-Webster is pretty good from a general point of view, I think I now understand the fundamental flaw with socialism. It is predicated on the idea that humans won't act like humans.

The history of our species is a long, and often sordid, tale of violence and "man's inhumanity to man." (Man being used in the same context as Neil Armstrong used it when first setting foot upon the lunar surface. "Man" as in "mankind," though I rather prefer the term "humankind," I use "mankind' because of the First Amendment. ICSFTH.)

Assuming that we can all "just get along" is a pretty big stretch. Socialism has never "worked," though it seems pretty neat if you get to be in charge and make the rules. Maduro, call your office.

This guy (who is most emphatically not "from" Vermont, he's a transplanted New Yorker) really ticks me off -
Democratic socialism means that we must create an economy that works for all, not just the very wealthy. - Bernie Sanders
I sure wish these assholes would define "very wealthy." From my point of view (and salary), Comrade Bernie is "very wealthy." Maybe it's just me. Bear in mind this is the same nitwit who said -
“You don’t necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers when children are hungry in this country." (Source)
Right, because the government would direct industry to do what? Stop making sneakers and grow food instead? Guess what, Comrade Bernie? It's because of knuckleheads like you that your buddies in the old Soviet Union had neither enough food, sneakers, or deodorants. Governments pretty much suck at that kind of thing. (I have written before about what governments should stick to here.)

Stick it to the wealthy seems to be the ever echoing cry of the nitwit revolutionaries, they just never bother to define what wealthy means, they just want to rile the mob up. Which they seem to be doing rather well. Lot of folks out there don't know how to think, they just "feel." What the Commies like to call "useful idiots."

I like this guy's take on things -
Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery. - Winston Churchill
This sums up the real goal of socialism, and you can't get any more Commie than this guy -
The goal of socialism is communism. - Vladimir Lenin
Yup, there it is. You paying attention Occasional-Cortex?

Probably not...

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Hi There!

A nice new bandage/protective cap thingee. I haven't actually drawn the eyes on yet, but I might. A bit o' whimsy for a Thursday morn.

Went  for a follow up visit to an orthopedic doc on Wednesday. I took the entire day off, anticipating pain and discomfort as the old bandages were peeled off, jagged wound being debrided, and said wound being poked, prodded, and what have you.

To say that the visit was a pleasant surprise is rather an understatement.

The doc was a young fellow, he was born in Sarajevo and was surprised that I had heard of his hometown in a context not involving the Olympics.

"Well Doc, Sarajevo, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, is where the Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sophie met their deaths. Thus triggering World War I." (I should note that he isn't Bosnian by ethnicity, he is a Serb. Well, he was born a Serb. Now he's one of us.)

So we hit it off rather well. Too bad he and his lady wife (also a physician) are moving soon to Reno, in Nevada. 'Tis a good deal for them. He's even heard of NAS Fallon and knew more or less where it was in relation to Reno. If you ever need a good orthopedic guy out in Reno, let me know.

Anyhoo, he pronounced himself happy with the healing that is going on in my somewhat mangled digit. Having the bandage off was nice. I could flex the finger and everything, it's a bit swollen but I have nearly full range of motion and full feeling in that digit. It felt good to flex and stretch the old boy. (I'll be flipping people off in no time. Not that I do that. Much.)

The therapist chap who made the cool digit protector in the opening photo lives in my town and is also a history buff. So yeah, we had a good rapport as well. Talked of Viking river cruises and seeing the Pyramids of Giza. We had a good chat.

So, finger continues to improve, as does my morale.

I did take pictures of the tip of the finger, for posterity ya know, but I won't post them here.

Rather too gross for my tastes.

Oh, I should mention, the view from this rather new orthopedic medicine center didn't suck.

What a view!
That's Providence in the background.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Interesting Times...

A Crowded Field
Another Crowded Field
At least one of the candidates in the top photo has already dropped out of the race. Another has vowed to violate her oath of office within the first 100 days of her Presidency (support and defend the Constitution, of which the 2nd Amendment is a part), which should disqualify her. Will it? Are you kidding...

A few of those in that first photo want to Make America Venezuela (we could all wear "MAV" hates, probably made in China).

I'm surprised Occasional-Cortex hasn't announced yet, probably thinks she'll get it by a "Peoples Revolution." Ya know, President by popular acclamation.

I have noticed that many of these individuals are being judged by "who has the best chance to beat Trump." I have never actually seen that as a requirement for being elected to the Presidency. I also find it odd that they're not running on their accomplishments, nor their public records.

Seems pretty sketchy to me.

Of course, most politicians are just that...

Pretty sketchy.

Now these fellows in Washington wouldn't be so serious and particular if they only had to vote on what they thought was good for the majority of the people in the U.S. That would be a cinch. But what makes it hard for them is every time a bill comes up they have things to decide that have nothing to do with the merit of the bill. The principal thing is of course: What will this do for me personally back home? - Will Rogers

One last thing...

You eventually get used to the smell of that second field.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Without Fear

Tecumseh, Shawnee warrior and chief
Statue at the U.S. Naval Academy
So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home. - Tecumseh*
Amen to that...

Now all that wasn't meant to harsh your mellow, just a great quote to live by. Be ready, but don't dwell on mortality. Good man that Tecumseh.

If I had known that July was going to be this much fun, I may have prepared myself better.

Last Tuesday (the day before I tried to lop my finger off with a door into the house) I noticed in the morning that the vision in my right eye (i.e. "the good one") seemed slightly blurry. It happens, especially on those "get up early and go to work" days.

Thought nothing of it until I noticed (at lunch) that the blurriness hadn't gone away. In fact, I was seeing slightly double with just the one eye (again, "the good one"). Called my eye doc, she was booked but one of her colleagues was available for a check of the old oculus dextrus.

What with the blurry eye and the approaching holiday, I decided that not only would I leave early on Tuesday (02 July) but would stay home on the 3rd (had the 4th and 5th off anyway). The 3rd being, of course, the day of the attempted digit lopping. (I suppose the door could claim a "probable" kill. There was a lot of blood spillage.)

Turns out the right eye was low on whatever eyes get low on. (As a phormer Phantom phixer I'm guessing it's some sort of hydraulic fluid.) Anyhoo, I now have drops for that, the next day (prior to the finger lopping) the eye was just fine. I was happy. For a while anyway.

So, on Monday (gestern) I had to go in for a pre-op consult. Getting a cataract removed on the 25th of July. I opted for the status quo ante bellum**, rather than get a super-duper new left eye lens (which would require wearing a contact in the right, maybe a monocle? - Not gonna happen) I opted for "make it like it was before the vitreous went insane, er, shrunk and messed up the retina. (The vitrectomy that I had last October can cause a cataract to form. In my case, did cause a cataract to form. Och well, time to get it fixed.

Finger still hurts, typing is less than fun, but I do it all for y'all. (Did I get that right, Tennessee?) I feel the need to spin tales and talk of history. So yeah, finger is better, hasn't fallen off yet. I get to see an orthopedic doc tomorrow, follow up from the ER visit.

Wish me luck, or better yet (let's not tempt fate), just say "Hals und Beinbruch!"

Gettin' old ain't for sissies.


*H/t B. Benson, USMC
** The "bellum," or war, being the unprovoked attack of the vitreous upon my left retina. Infamy and all that, dontcha know?

Monday, July 8, 2019


Things just got real peachy down here in the Hill Country.  A Judge in Moscow on the Colorado just ruled in favor of a oil company building a natural gas pipeline running from near Pecos (West Texas) to Katy (near Houston).  Some 430 miles.

Well juvat, we need to get that stuff from where it is to where it's needed, right?


However, it shouldn't have to go through some of the more populated areas of the state without the people and governments in those areas at least having an input.


The section of the pipeline between Junction and where it crosses I-35 is probably the fastest growing part of the state.  Additionally, it is also one of the largest tourist areas in the state.  Finally, it is also the second most visited wine region in the world.  Napa would be first.  

But juvat, they'll engineer it to minimize the impact on the public, won't they? 


"In Texas, oil and gas companies choose intrastate pipeline routes with no oversight from the public, elected officials or regulatory body. They are the only private entities that are granted the ability to use eminent domain to take private property without public input."  Emphasis mine. Source

But juvat, they'll pay for the right to build won't they?

Theoretically. They are supposed to pay fair market value for the property, but that is the fair market value on the day of the taking, AKA when the property is condemned.  So, almost by definition, the fair market value of condemned property is what they say it is.

 But juvat, Texas is a big state, and you're just a small chunk of property, surely you won't be affected, right?
All the lines on the map, other than roads are property lines, some of which, based on the property names, have been in the same family since the area was first settled.

Well, grasshopper, the property I bought 21 years ago is in that blue circle which is about 1 mile in diameter.  

So...yeah, it's personal and I'm pissed.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

From Major to Brigadier General: The Rise of Bonaparte

Bonaparte au siège de Toulon, 1793
toile d'Édouard Detaille
Musée de l'armée
As the finger heals, you may be getting an overlarge dose of historical videos. I only discovered this channel the other day. Quite good I thought. If you want more, let me know. (If you want less, well, let me know, I can take it... 🤔)

The publisher mentioned as the sponsor of this video, Osprey? Magnificent! Check them out here.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

War in Film

I may not be able to type very effectively, but I can still post videos.

I liked this movie.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Battle Rattle

As most of you know, at the completion of a highly successful flying career ( I had exactly the same number of takeoffs as landings), I was sent to bring the gospel of Saint LeMay to the heathens at Fort Leavenworth and help them gain an understanding of the word "Joint".

No, Beans, we're not talking about some newly legalized method of making the world go away.

I was there to learn about how the Army operates at the various levels of conflict and help them to understand what the Air Force brought to the fight.  I was so good, or bad, at this mission, that I was directed to stay for an additional year.  Which was okay as Mrs J, then Captain J, would also be attending "Armeee Training, Sir" that year.

In any case, during that second year, we got to go on several "Field Trips", one to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin California.  This is the Army's version of the Air Forces Red Flag exercise at Nellis AFB NV.  It endeavors to make the exercise as realistic as possible without, hopefully, although regretfully occasionally, anyone dying.

In any case, we arrive out there and are promptly issued gear.  Helmets, all sorts of equipment harnesses and such.  Thankfully, my roommate for these trips was a Ranger and extremely adept at getting things like this together.

He was helpful.
I retired as  Lt Col.  He's still on Active Duty.  Sharp man!Source

He also told me that the slang term for all this stuff was "Battle Rattle."

Which is a long explanation of the title of this post.

It was earlier this week,  a hot summer day in July in Texas.  There's been a lot of rain in the past few weeks so humidity is in the upper half of the percentages most of the time.  It kinda saps the energy out of you.

So,  I decided that I, as master of my world (Mrs J was at an appointment or something),  would take a nap.

I get the curtains drawn and climb into the rack.  Feline flight is out on patrol somewhere so Canine flight assumes alert 5 status from launch facilities around the bed and I settle in.

I must have been tired as I very quickly went to sleep and started dreaming.  I don't typically get to the dream state in a nap.


I'm in this nap and all of a sudden, I hear a fierce rattling sound.

As you know, I live in the Texas.  Texas has these things that have diamonds on their backs and rattles on their tails.  We don't like those things.

In any case, I am now not sleeping any more,  and am a couple of feet above the bed, horizontally moving towards the door.  I'm not sure which muscle, or combination thereof, was used in that manner of levitation, but it was effective.

Outside the bedroom, I hear the rattle slow and then cease.  It seems to have been coming from under the bed, so I get a broom and flashlight.  Maintaining a safe-ish distance from the bed, I lift the bedspread, turn on the flashlight and look underneath.

One of the Russian Blues is playing "Bat the Cicada" with his paws and the Cicada is not happy.

Ahhh, the joys of owning Cats.  Their sense of humor is beguiling.

Yes, the Cicada was given a burial at sea.  No, I did not return to my nap.  I think my pulse is back to normal now though.

Thursday, July 4, 2019


Managed to catch my finger in the kitchen door while heading outside.

Blood dripping everywhere as I talked to my lawn guy, he had a reference for a guy to maybe redo our upstairs bath...

"Are you okay?" He said as he looked at my hand.

"Not really." I answered.

As I didn't elaborate he finished writing down the guy's name and number.

Once inside I alerted The Missus Herself of my need for medical attention. Off to the "urgent care facility" we went.

Where we waited for a good 15 minutes. The amount of sheer incompetence on display was mind-boggling.

Finally saw a nurse practitioner (who definitely needs more practice) who decided x-rays were in order. I resisted the urge to comment, "No shit, ya think?"

X-rays revealed a fracture at the tip of the middle finger. Hell, if they'd just lifted the flap of skin which used to be the pad of my finger you could probably see the damned bone. I needed what the NP called a "bone doctor." In other words, an orthopedic doctor. Too big a word for the NP perhaps?

Did they properly bandage it before sending me on my way to an actual hospital? Only if you consider a wad of gauze and about 20 feet of tape proper. Like I said, incompetent. The NP recommended three hospitals, I chose the one I've had surgery at in the past. Told the NP that. to which she said not a word.

Arrived at said hospital, they said "we have no bone doctors, you need Rhode Island Hospital for that..." You'd think that original NP might have freaking mentioned that. Nope.

So back across Providence we went to RIH.

After much waiting, and more x-rays, we got to the back room, where the magic happens. They had to cut my wedding ring off, swelling and all that, believe me that ring wasn't coming off with lubricants, it's been on there a long time. Seems it shrunk as well.

Anyhoo, apparently they let management choose the tools, the auto-magical powered thing didn't work all that well. They had to go old school with a human powered cutter, which finished the job, after about an hour.

They orthopedic team showed up, assessed the situation, shot the hand with the injured digit full of juice to block nerves and deaden the finger. Cleaned the wound, which was so damned nasty looking even I was a bit grossed out. No pictures, no way.

Then they mentioned having to remove the fingernail as there was bruising under it, not a big surprise there. But remove it? I had visions of WWII in the hands of the enemy, pulling fingernails and all that. And guess which portion of my anatomy was yet to be numb?

Yup, the tip of the injured finger.

Holy sweet crap did that hurt. Everyone has a breaking point, I know mine. Yup, pull out a pair of pliers and head for the fingernails and I'll tell you everything, shoot me afterwards, I don't care. Better yet, shoot me during, I'd welcome it!

Anyhoo, more shots were administered, more poking and prodding ensued, finally the finger was ready.

No, I didn't watch.

Oddly enough, after they'd cleaned and treated everything, sewed my finger pad back on and all, they sewed the nail back on. Odd that, but the doctor said it was loose enough not to cause undo pain to the broken fingertip but strong enough to act as a natural splint.

After nearly eight hours of this medical adventure, we returned home to the manse. Best comment of the day was from The Missus Herself as we hit hour two in the waiting room at the ER:

"What are they doing back there, waiting for a kid to finish medical school before they fix your finger?"

Sure felt like it.

No posts for the next cuppla, hard typing with one hand, and the meds are starting to wear off on the damaged digit.

I'm on medical leave of absence from the blog for a while. Oddly enough, this was my first broken bone ever.

Oh, and...

Happy Independence Day. Enjoy!


Wednesday, July 3, 2019

With Pickett

Looking east towards Cemetery Ridge, south of Gettysburg
Google Street View
Rafe Jackson and Tom Benson were a couple of good old boys from Fairfax County, Virginia. They'd mustered into Captain James Thrift's company back in July of '61. Now known as "G" Company, 8th Virginia Infantry, commanded by Colonel Eppa Hutton. They'd seen a lot of hard action since the beginning of the war. They'd taken so many casualties that the Colonel always called the outfit "The Bloody Eighth."

Tom and Rafe were the only boys in "G" left from the old days, there were a lot of replacements these days but the regiment still had high morale and considered themselves to be in the "best damn brigade" in the Army of Northern Virginia, Garnett's Brigade, commanded by Brigadier General Richard B. Garnett.

Court-martialed after Kernstown by old "Mad Tom" Jackson, Garnett, and his brigade had something to prove. Even if Jackson was dead, the Brigade still smarted from the insult to their commander's honor.

As they waited in the shelter of a copse of trees next to a wide field sloping upwards to a ridge a long way's off, the men waited for, as Rafe called it, the "day's festivities" to begin.

Tom just shook his head as Rafe, his childhood best friend, broke off a chaw and offered it to one of the greenhorns, kid looked like he was about to wet himself. Rafe chuckled and offered it to Tom instead. Tom took it and told Rafe to leave the young fellows be. Tom remembered First Manassas, he had wet himself at that one, as had a lot of other fellows.

The day was already terribly hot and Tom and Rafe were glad of the shade. Around 1 of the clock, Tom reckoned by the height of the sun, the Confederate guns started to thump. Looked like the bluebellies up on the ridge were going to catch Hell today!
"Rafe!" Tom nudged his buddy with the toe of his shoe, "Get up, look's like we's fixin' to advance."

Rafe Jackson got up onto one knee, doffed his kepi and mopped his brow, then he spit out the rest of his chaw, "Can't believe I fell asleep, Tom. What with all the ruckus from those cannon. We'ums ready to drive the bluebellies back to Washington?"

"Yup, I reckon so. There's our general on his horse, what's he thinking?"

Sergeant Parsons, a real hard case from the Alexandria docks, was walking by and heard Tom's remark, he smacked Benson on the back of the head and leaned into him, telling him:

"General's got a damned fever and he can barely walk, damned horse done kicked him. But he's not gonna sit this one out. Not with the ghost of old Mad Tom looking down on 'im. No sir, now you just keep your eyes to the front and do your damned job, Tom Benson. Or sure as Bobby Lee commands this army, I'll have your guts for garters!"

"More likely looking up!" Rafe chuckled as he nudged Tom in the ribs.

"I got my eye on you too, Jackson." He growled as he went further down the line, getting the laggards to their feet.

Now the commands were ringing out to form up. Rifles were shouldered, the lines were dressed, and the men made ready to advance. As they did so, old George Pickett himself thundered down the line on horseback waving his kepi in the air:

"Go get 'em boys! For the honor of Old Virginny! Let's drive those Yankees so hard they'll wish they'd never been born!"




The drums began to rumble and thump as the three brigades of Virginia infantry under Dick Garnett stepped out on the long march to the other side of the field. Glory awaited.
Pickett's charge from a position on the Confederate line looking toward the Union lines,
Ziegler's grove on the left, clump of trees on right.
Painting by Edwin Forbes
One of the first cannon rounds aimed their way took Sergeant Parson's head off at the shoulders. Bone, blood, and brain matter spattered the men in the nearby file. Parsons never felt a thing.

"Jesus, and here I've been telling folks that old Sarge didn't have any brains at all. Seems like he did after all!"

A young lieutenant behind the two Fairfax County boys began to vomit as more men fell around him.

"Rafe, ain't ya got no sentiment at'all?"

"Sure I do Tom, just not for sergeants." Turning to the young officer behind him who looked to be sick again, Rafe laughed and said, "Ya know lieutenant, you could get in a lotta trouble for puking up them army rations. Some fellers didn't get that much!"

The lieutenant stumbled again, looking to vomit once more, but this time it was blood pouring from his mouth as a piece of shell from a nearby burst had torn into his chest. He fell to the ground and died without a sound. He was only twenty years old.

"Close it up boys, close it up! We're damned near there!" The captain had his hat on the tip of his sword and was waving them forward. Sure enough, there was a wall up ahead with what had to be all the damned Yankees in the world behind it.

Tom saw old Dick Garnett fall to one knee, his hat was gone. Tom wondered what had happened to the general's horse. As he lowered his rifle, the world exploded.

Just before the light and the heat washed over him, he saw Rafe's grinning face one last time. Just before a Union artillery piece emptied its load of canister right in their faces. Rafe's body had shielded Tom from the worst effects of the canister, but the blast tore most of his uniform away and knocked him unconscious.

He didn't see the rest of the brigade fall, what few men left who weren't captured streamed back across the way they had come. Dead Confederates marking the way. For all intents and purposes, Pickett's Division had ceased to exist.

Of the 8th Virginia Infantry, only eleven men and one officer survived to fight another day. On April 6, 1865, the majority of the regiment was killed or surrendered at the Battle of Sayler's Creek. The surgeon and eleven privates who escaped that battle were paroled 3 days later following Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox Courthouse. (Source)

Private Rafael Jackson's body was never found, there was not enough left to be found. His kepi, found on the field by a ten-year old boy, survived in a cupboard on a nearby farm until 1978 when a new family moved in and threw the old moldering relic out. They had no idea what it was.

As for Private Thomas Benson, he survived Northern captivity and returned home to Fairfax County, Virginia, where he worked in a tavern until he died at the age of 46. He still carried a piece of steel from the blast which had killed his friend Rafe. One day, while moving a barrel of ale, the steel shifted, nicking his femoral artery. He was alone and bled out before he was even aware of his injury. Some local folks said he was the last casualty of Pickett's Charge.*
"For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it's still not yet two o'clock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it's all in the balance, it hasn't happened yet, it hasn't even begun yet, it not only hasn't begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstances which made more men than Garnett and Kemper and Armistead and Wilcox look grave yet it's going to begin, we all know that, we have come too far with too much at stake and that moment doesn't need even a fourteen-year-old boy to think This time. Maybe this time with all this much to lose and all this much to gain: Pennsylvania, Maryland, the world, the golden dome of Washington itself to crown with desperate and unbelievable victory the desperate gamble, the cast made two years ago...."

William Faulkner, Intruder in the Dust (Source)
Dedicated to the men who crossed that bloody field on the afternoon of the 3rd of July, 1863:

Heth's Division (Isaac Trimble commanding)

Pettigrew's Brigade
11th North Carolina
26th North Carolina
47th North Carolina
52nd North Carolina

Archer's Brigade
13th Alabama
5th Alabama Battalion
1st Tennessee
7th Tennessee
14th Tennessee

Davis's Brigade
2nd Mississippi
11th Mississippi
42nd Mississippi
55th North Carolina

Brockenbrough's Brigade
47th Virginia
40th Virginia
55th Virginia
22nd Virginia Battalion

Lane's Brigade
7th North Carolina
18th North Carolina
33rd North Carolina
28th North Carolina
37th North Carolina

Scale's Brigade
13th North Carolina
16th North Carolina
22nd North Carolina
34th North Carolina
38th North Carolina

Pickett's Division

Armistead's Brigade
9th Virginia
14th Virginia
38th Virginia
53rd Virginia
57th Virginia

Garnett's Brigade
8th Virginia
18th Virginia
19th Virginia
28th Virginia
56th Virginia

Kemper's Brigade
1st Virginia
3rd Virginia
7th Virginia
11th Virginia
24th Virginia

Anderson's Division

Wilcox's Brigade
8th Alabama
9th Alabama
10th Alabama
11th Alabama
14th Alabama

Perry's Brigade
2nd Florida
5th Florida
8th Florida

Long may their memory be bright.

* Rafael Jackson, Thomas Benson, and Sergeant Parsons are all fictional characters.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Gettysburg, Some Thoughts

Little Round Top
Google Street View
In the middle of June in the year 1863, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia crossed into the state of Maryland, beginning the Confederacy's second, and last, invasion of the United States. On the first day of July, near the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the Confederate States Army of Northern Virginia, under the command of Robert E. Lee, and the United States Army of the Potomac, under the command of George G. Meade, met in battle.

The Army of the Potomac numbered 93,921 men, that of the Army of Northern Virginia numbered 71,699. At the end of three days of fighting, 28,063 men from the South and 23,049 men from the North became casualties, dead, wounded, or missing. One in four of those wearing Northern blue, two in five of those wearing Southern gray had shed their blood on that field, in the largest battle ever fought on American soil. 51,118 Americans paid the price.

For what?

The political differences which caused the southern states to leave the Union had existed long before Confederate cannon opened fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor in April of 1861. I don't pretend to understand the full extent of those differences. There were many.

The balance of power between the Southern states and the Northern states in Congress was a key concern in the South. As Northern population grew, they would gain seats proportionally in the House of Representatives, however, as long as the number of states was equal, or leaned towards Southern interests, the Senate would favor the South. Or at the least not favor the North.

It boiled down, in many minds, to the issue of slavery. As new states entered the union the South wanted a balance of "free" and "slave" states. Figuring, quite rightly I suppose, that a "slave" state would lean more towards Southern interests and not Northern. While slavery was not "the" issue which led to the war, it played a major part. In reality, it was a struggle for power in the Nation's capital which led to the war.

What should we call this war in North America from April of 1861 to April of 1865? Some have argued that "Civil War" is inaccurate as the South did not wish to displace or change the existing system of government, they simply wanted no further part in that government. (An idea which I have only recently accepted, with thanks to Borepatch in his post.)

I don't like the term "War of Northern Aggression," for various reasons. The main one being is that the South wished to dissolve the Union and many in the North refused to accept that. They saw their cause as putting down an unlawful rebellion. Right or wrong, that's how it was perceived in the North by many.

The South's cause was tainted by the issue of slavery, as many Southerners of the time acknowledged. While it is possible that the "Peculiar Institution" may have eventually "gone away" of its own accord, I highly doubt it. Exploitation of the common laborer in the North didn't go away until the early years of the 20th Century and didn't happen without a great deal of violence. To think that slavery would have eventually withered away, on its own, is, perhaps, problematic. Greed never goes away. Eventually those held in thrall would have risen up and started trying to free themselves. No doubt with Northern help. No doubt with great violence as well.

As for the "War for Southern Independence"? Sure, why not, but as it failed, I prefer "The Rebellion." But that's just me. (Just don't call it the "Second American Revolution," that glorifies a somewhat tawdry cause.)

So Gettysburg. Why Gettysburg?

By 1863 it was obvious to the South that the North wasn't just going to quit, not without a huge effort on the part of the various Confederate armies in the field. The most important of those armies was Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. While I'm sure the Confederate armies in the West might dispute that, their string of defeats at the hands of Northern armies weakens their arguments for being "most important." The Army of Northern Virginia had gone from victory to victory for quite some time, Antietam (their first invasion of the North) being the sole "bump in the road" of their dominance of the Army of the Potomac.

Lee moved north for various reasons: (1) supply issues, northern Virginia, where most of the fighting took place, was devastated, (2) depress Northern morale, which may have actually worked had CNN been in operation back then, (3) a quest for foreign recognition. While the idea of Great Britain or France recognizing the Confederacy was something of a pipe dream, the British did support the South for their own economic reasons. But support a regime supported, in part, by slavery, the British would have never been able to stomach that.

So Lee moved north as his cavalry leader Stuart galloped off to make headlines. The Army of Northern Virginia went north without its eyes. They stumbled into the fight, thinking they were facing militia. Actually they were facing very good cavalrymen under John Buford. Buford's men held the ground long enough for the rest of the Army of the Potomac to coalesce. Oddly enough, the Army of the Potomac moved into the area around Gettysburg from the south (advancing up from the Washington DC area) and Lee's army moved in from the north and the west.

The first day's fighting was brutal and see-sawed back and forth, though Lee's often ragged and barefoot men eventually drove the Federals back in some disarray. But Meade's army gathered and occupied the ridge and hills south of the town and awaited Lee's attacks.

On this particular day, the 2nd of July, 156 years ago, an obscure colonel by the name of Chamberlain, commanding the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment, stood atop that outcrop in the opening photo, along with his men, and drove back every attack thrown at them.

The position had been chosen by this man -

Brigadier General Gouverneur Kemble Warren,
US Army Corps of Engineers
While Chamberlain receives most of the glory for the Union stand atop Little Round Top, and rightly so, most do not remember that it was General Warren who recognized the importance of the position and got the troops there to do the job. (The general was later unjustly disgraced on the field of another battle by Phil Sheridan, a general I have never cared for, but that is a story for another time.)

Statue of Brigadier General G.K. Warren atop Little Round Top
Lee's failure to turn the Union left flank at the Round Tops led him to throw the dice in a different place on the 3rd of July. Tested on their right, then tested on their left, the Federals had held their ground, barely.

Surely they must be weak in their center? So Lee may have thought. Pickett's division discovered that they had not been weakened in the center. That charge collapsed in red ruin, and with it the hopes and dreams of Southern Independence.

Though in reality, that dream had been struck a mortal blow in May of that very year, when Lieutenant General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson died of his wounds after the Battle of Chancellorsville. Shot down by his own men when his party had been mistaken for Union cavalrymen.

Just a few thoughts, occasioned by the anniversary of one of the most eventful battles in American history...