Category Archives: Uncategorized

Kevin O’Brien


I’m sorry to have to tell you all that my brother Kevin O’Brien, host of this blog, passed away peacefully this morning at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Let me start with some housekeeping.  First, the email address hognosecommunity@comcast.net remains active and you may get more and better updates there.  I say this because frankly I’m having trouble posting here.  I don’t know Kevin’s WordPress password and I’m afraid that if I restart his computer, I will not be able to post any more because the password will not autofill.  Therefore I can’t guarantee I will be able to make more updates on the blog.

We are planning a celebration of Kevin’s life for all of his friends some time in early to mid-June, here in Seacoast NH.  I will have details in a couple of days.  All those who knew and loved Kevin, including all Weaponsman readers, are welcome, but we will need an RSVP.  Again, I will make details available to those who write to hognosecommunity@comcast.net.  This is not restricted to personal friends of Kevin, but space will be limited, and we will not be able to fit everyone.  It will be a great opportunity to share memories of Kevin.

We will be looking for stories and pictures of Kevin!  Please send to the email address.

I expect that some time after the celebration, I will be shutting down the blog.  No one other than Kevin could do it justice.

Finally, you should know that Small Dog, whose real name is Zac, has found a home with other relatives of ours.  Of course the poor guy has no idea what has happened to his beloved friend but his life will go on.

Now I’d like to tell you more about Kevin and how he lived and died.  He was born in 1958 to Robert and Barbara O’Brien.  We grew up in Westborough, Mass.  Kevin graduated from high school in 1975 and joined the Army in (I believe) 1979.  He learned Czech at DLI and became a Ranger and a member of Special Forces.

Kevin’s happiest times were in the Army.  He loved the service and was deeply committed to it.  We were so proud when he earned the Green Beret.  He was active duty for eight years and then stayed in the Reserves and National Guard for many years, including a deployment to Afghanistan in 2003.  He told me after that that Afghan tour was when he felt he had made his strongest contribution to the world.

Kevin worked for a number of companies after leaving active duty.  He had always loved weapons, history, the military, and writing, and saw a chance to combine all of his interests by creating Weaponsman.com.  I think the quality of the writing was what always brought people back.  Honestly, for what it’s worth, I have no interest in firearms.  Don’t love them, don’t hate them, just not interested.  But Kevin’s knowledge and writing skill made them fascinating for me.

Kevin and I really became close friends after our childhood.  We saw each other just about every day after he moved to a house just two miles away from mine.  In the winter of 2015, we began building our airplane together.  You could not ask for a better building partner.

Last Thursday night was our last “normal” night working on the airplane.  I could not join him Friday night, but on Saturday morning I got a call from the Portsmouth Regional Hospital.  He had called 911 on Friday afternoon and was taken to the ER with what turned out to be a massive heart attack.  Evidently he was conscious when he was brought in, but his heart stopped and he was revived after 60 minutes of CPR.  He never reawakened.

On Saturday, he was transported to Brigham and Women’s where the medical staff made absolutely heroic efforts to save his life.  Our dad came up on Sunday and we visited him Sunday, Monday, and today.  Each day his condition became worse.

As of last night, it was obvious to everyone that he had almost no chance of survival; and that if he did by some chance survive, he would have no quality of life.  Kevin’s heart was damaged beyond repair, his kidneys were not functioning, he had not regained consciousness, and he had internal bleeding that could not be stopped.  We made the decision this morning to terminate life support.

I’m not crying tonight.  I got that out on Saturday.  What I feel is a permanent alteration and a loss that I know can never be healed.  I loved Kevin so much.  He was brilliant, funny, helpful, kind, caring, and remarkably talented.

At dinner tonight, we agreed that there are probably many people who never “got” Kevin, but there could not be anyone who disliked him.  Rest in Peace.

Please feel free to express your thoughts in the comments and to the hognosecommunity@comcast.net email address.

Update on Hognose

Hi, this is Brendan, Hognose’s brother.  I wanted to let you know that Hognose is dealing with a serious medical situation and has had to step away from the blog.  He cannot answer email or texts or take calls at this time.

I am not planning to post or moderate comments during this time and I will not be providing details here.

Hognose loves you guys, but I feel certain he would not want all the details of his situation shared with everyone.  However, I do want to reach out to his many friends who know him beyond his status as a blogger, especially anyone who comes here and served with him in the Army or knows him from one of his many other activities over the years.

For that reason, I have set up an email account at hognosecommunity@comcast.net.  Please email to that account if you are a personal friend of Hognose’s.  You can prove this by including his first and last name and a detail about how you know each other.  I will write back with more detail.

Please respect his and my wishes and:

  1. Do email hognosecommunity@comcast.net if you are a personal friend of Hognose.
  2. Do not if you only know him by reading the blog.
  3. Do not try to email, text or call him directly.  I mean, you can, but he won’t answer.
  4. Do not comment on this post.  I won’t be monitoring comments.
  5. Do keep him in your prayers.  His situation is really quite serious.
  6. If you know other friends of Hognose who may not be WeaponsMan readers, please let them know they can contact me through the email address shown above.

Thanks

Brendan (aka KevsBlogBrother)

The Problem of Theft from FFLs

We’ve been troubled by the apparent increase in the number of brazen FFL robberies and burglaries lately, and started tracking them to see if we were just seeing more reporting, or just seeing more spectacular thefts that got more media coverage — or whether these crimes are really up.

Well, ATF answered our question with a new report on thefts and losses from FFLs in the United States, and the answer is: hell, yes, thefts are up. In the last five years, the number of actual crimes is up 48% for burglaries and 175% (!) for robberies. Robberies are still much rarer than burglaries, because most criminals are not brazen and stupid enough to rob a place where armed people may expect them, but there were still 33 FFL robberies last year. And more guns are being taken in these thefts, too. Here’s a graphic depiction (source):

Along with the robberies and burglaries, larcenies are up. What’s a larceny? A theft that’s neither a robbery or burglary. In FFLs, these are often employee thefts — “inside jobs”. FFLs are plagued by shoplifters, but relatively few of these larcenies are that kind of theft. The shoplifters mostly steal small and highly portable items that are displayed openly, like ammunition or accessories.

There are many reasons for an upturn in FFL victimization. Crime is increasingly driven by organized gang activity, and gangs are well suited for some of the dynamic smash-and-grab burglaries we’ve seen in the last couple of years. Most gun shop burglars go uncaught, despite the common practice of rewards (usually, ATF will put up a reward and NSSF will double the money), so the probability of being caught is not much of a deterrent.

Judges and prosecutors tend to treat robberies and burglaries as beginner crimes, and “discount” them deeply, so the consequences of being caught is not a deterrent.  The very large delta between burglaries and robberies may exist in part because the fear of being shot by a store owner, worker or customer, is a deterrent.

ATF is certainly more concerned this year than last. Last year’s infographic was focused on alerting FFLs to their reporting duties (source):

Reporting a lost or stolen inventory item, of course, is a lead-pipe guarantee that you will be assisted in doing 100% inventory by your friendly neighborhood Industry Operations Inspector.

The ATF is taking FFL thefts extremely seriously

Part of the ATF core mission is to protect the public from violent crime involving the use of firearms, including firearms stolen from FFLs and used by violent offenders in the commission of crimes, posing a substantial threat to the public and law enforcement.

A total of 18,394 lost or stolen firearms were reported nationwide last year from FFLs. Of those firearms, 9,113 were reported as lost. Firearms are considered lost when an FFL takes a firearm into its inventory and later cannot account for the disposition of the firearm from its inventory during an inventory reconciliation.

Losses (some if not most of which are certainly thefts, but can’t be proven to be thefts) are up much less than thefts. Here’s the the 2015 version of those 2016 stats in the previous paragraph:

A total of 14,800 firearms were reported lost or stolen nationwide last year from FFLs. 8,637 were reported as lost. 6,163 were reported as stolen.

Tentative conclusion: thieves have found thieving effective, and will continue thieving.

There are about 140,000 FFLs, and normally IOIs only get to about 9,000 of them in any given year. Their major focus is on documentation, regulatory compliance and inventory control.

One interesting table in the report breaks down firearms lost, burgled, robbed or larcenized by type. It’s interesting to see that (as you might expect) thieves really prefer pistols. It was a surprise to us that machine guns were stolen by burglary, but an even bigger surprise that over two dozen machine guns were lost by FFLs. As the table makes clear, pistols are more likely to be stolen than lost, but more uncommon firearms are much more likely to be lost than stolen.

Firearm Types Totals Burglary Firearm Count Larceny Firearm Count Robbery Firearm Count Loss Firearm Count
Pistols 8,647 4,665 858 278 2,846
Rifles 4,246 1,293 237 25 2,691
Revolvers 2,000 858 180 42 920
Shotguns 1,640 548 67 11 1,014
Receivers/Frames 1,421 52 48 4 1,317
Silencers 265 31 14 8 212
Derringers 92 31 13 1 47
Machine Guns 38 5 4 1 28
Unknown Types 29 1 2 26
Combinations 10 4 6
Destructive Devices 4 4
Any Other Weapons 2 2
Totals 18,394 7,488 1,423 370 9,113

Here is one of the more brazen burglaries of 2016:

At least some of those gang members were bagged soon after the crime.

The tactic remains popular, as does the simple smash-and-grab, like this burglary in Montgomery County, Maryland last month:

You can find literally dozens of these videos on YouTube, and it is plausible that criminal organizations have learned and been inspired by the criminal equivalent of tactics, techniques and procedures as displayed in these shows. Note for instance that they’re gloved and masked, suggesting at least a minimal awareness of investigative techniques. They also proceed with minimal conversation.

Without knowing how many weapons the FFLs are holding, it’s not possible to develop usable rate information. That is a pity, as the ATF provides by-state breakdowns of losses and thefts that would be fascinating to compare to FFL numbers and inventory totals… but we can’t.

There are presently about 136,000 FFLs of all types nationwide. That makes these lines from the ATF report all the more interesting:

ATF data provides that the 10 FFLs with the most firearms reported in Theft/Loss Reports are associated with 2,582 firearms reported lost or stolen. This data is limited to Type 01 (Dealer in firearms other than destructive devices) and Type 02 (Pawnbroker in firearms other than destructive devices) FFLs.

ATF data provides that the 100* FFLs with the most firearms reported in Theft/Loss Reports are associated with 7,664 firearms reported lost or stolen. This data is limited to Type 01 (Dealer in firearms other than destructive devices) and Type 02 (Pawnbroker in firearms other than destructive devices) FFLs.

* There were 8 FFLs tied in the final ranking of the 100 Type 01 and Type 02 FFLs resulting in 107 total FFLs.

Using the 18,394 total loss and stolen number, then, 10 FFLs (0.0074% of the total, seventy-four ten-thousandths of a percent) were the source of 2,582 firearms, 14% of the total lost or stolen.

100 FFLs (0.0735%, seventy-three point five thousandths of a percent) were the source of 7,664 firearms, 41.67% of the total lost or stolen.

But those percentages might be meaningless… perhaps those 100 FFLs stock over 42% of the total firearms inventory? (It seems unlikely, but it’s possible).

Note that this report only counts firearms that disappear from FFL inventories. Firearms lost by or stolen from the Feds (hundreds annually), State and local Law Enforcement (thousands) and private citizens (untold tens of thousands) also swell criminal armories.

In any event, as long as hitting FFLs is rewarding for criminals, we can expect to see more of it.

The ATF .pdf report is here; their press release on it is here; ATF’s public infographics here.

Friday Tour d’Horizon, 2017 Week 14

Again, we find ourselves throwing together this week’s Tour d’Horizon on Friday night. We hate that. It makes us late, and you hate that.

So much hate. As the Patron Saint of this blog, Rodney King, says, “Can’t we all just get along?”

Guns

I don’t wanna work, I just wanna bang on my gun all day.

How Much Does the Blackhawk! Serpa Suck?

We honestly haven’t written much about this, because we thought everybody who couldn’t see they were junk would take the advise of everybody who’s anybody in the training world. So if you don’t know, go read this rant by Bob Owens. Who concludes:

Why on earth would you bet your life on a poorly-made, poorly designed holster that has been banned by many law enforcement agencies, top tier instructors, shooting schools and ranges, when there are so many better options on the market?

Why, indeed?

We had them bought for us and used unit money to buy Safarilands instead. Result — the only guy shot in the fourth point of contact was the battalion commander, and he insists an enemy sniper did it. (We weren’t there but the guys who were said he did not plug his own gluteus). Whoever shot him, he stayed in command after field treatment, impressing us with his fortitude.

Banned in Boston (and 49 other US states): CZ-92

This is a CZ you can’t own here. It’s an 8-shot, DAO .25 that can’t hope to pass the ATF’s Nazi-sourced “sporting purpose” test. It’s owned in Lithuania, and its new owner laid out €50 for it. (It has the Lithuanian national symbol, the Pillars of Gedminas, on it). Source.

If you really want an 8-shot, sightless, DAO .25, though, there are still options. There have been four versions of this pistol made by CZ, plus an American quasi-clone, plus its design has inspired others, including Seecamp’s LWS-25 and the ZVI Kevin / DesertTech Micro Desert Eagle. Without giving you the whole chapter of the book, the CZ versions are:

  1. The CZ-36, designed by František Myška and made in small numbers before and during WWII. It had a wrap-around checkered plastic grip with the old CZ logo, and most CZ-36s had a manual safety on the frame.
  2. The CZ-45, an update of the CZ-36, redesigned by Jan Kratochvíl for easier manufacture. A few early CZ-45s were made with the manual safety, but there are several cues that allow the models to be distinguished reliably.
  3. The CZ-70, a further production-improved and restyled CZ-45, not to be confused with the CZ-70 service pistol used by Czechoslovak police. It can most readily be distinguished by its grips, which have a pattern resembling that on the CZ-70 service pistol.
  4. This CZ-92, restyled again with two grip scales and a solid backstrap on the frame for the first time.

The American copy, the Intratec ProTec-25, is only a partial copy: many parts don’t interchange, etc. Intratec’s designers were George Kellgren (later founder of Kel-Tec) and Carlos Garcia, and their objective seems to have been lowest possible cost. The frame and slide appear to be made of el cheapo pot metal or powder metal, die cast. There were supposed to be several finishes and a second caliber (.22 LR) available, but even though they’re mentioned on the box and in the papers with our example, we’ve never even seen one.

CZ-36s are rare firearms, but the CZ-45 turns up at auctions frequently. CZ-70s and -92s postdate the 1968 pocket pistol import ban.

Gun Stocks update

Anyway you want it: we have the table, our analysis, and the popular chart. We have simplified to one chart and table, incorporating Olin.

Gun Stocks since the Election
Week Ending RGR SWHC AOBC VSTO OLN
11/8/16 64.40 28.45 38.94 22.45
11/18/16 53.20 24.13 40.02 25.16
11/25/16 52.50 23.82 41.05 25.69
12/2/16 50.25 21.10 39.66 25.94
12/9/16 51.90 21.07 38.62 25.87
12/16/16 53.45 21.59 36.81 25.42
12/23/16 54.05 22.11 38.03 26.21
12/30/16 52.70 21.08 36.90 25.61
1/6/17 54.15 21.00 38.08 26.39
1/13/17 51.35 20.60 28.70 27.07
1/20/17 50.65 20.13 27.78 26.64
1/27/17 51.90 20.58 28.33 26.69
2/3/17 50.05 20.12 26.18 30.83
2/10/17 50.15 20.07 21.58 29.81
2/17/17 49.70 19.22 20.89 30.86
2/24/17 49.85 19.45 20.72 30.78
3/3/17 48.75 18.83 20.47 32.34
3/10/17 52.15 19.52 20.71 31.70
3/17/17 53.55 19.45 20.89 33.07
3/24/17 51.90 18.73 20.31 32.77
3/31/17 53.55 19.81 20.59 32.87
4/07/17 56.00 20.63 18.42 31.80

An interesting split. Ruger is up notably, as is Smith, while Vista Outdoor has resumed a sharp decline and Olin has lost a dollar. Ruger repurchased 1.1 million shares of its own stock this week, and March raw background check numbers were strong. Yet analysts, probably reading news stories about the death of the gun market, have rated these stocks underperform or hold. (For example, a couple of analysts have assigned a price target of $48 to Ruger). All of the stocks were volatile this week.

Disclaimer: Your Humble Blogger holds RGR, bought at about 56.40 on 9 Nov 16.

Gun Poly-Ticks

Stunt Doesn’t Work

An anti-gun legislator in Tennessee made an attempt to straw-sell an AK before the adoring local media, but didn’t find any buyers. His stunt was in aid of a back-door registration “background check” bill pending in the legislature at the time.

His bill didn’t pass, either.

Rotary International Goes Anti-Gun

The 19-member, mostly foreign, board of Rotary International have thrust the organization into the United States gun control debate through a new series of anti-gun positions, which apply only to the United States.

Left: Logo of Rotary, which wants no guns under its emblem. Right: Rotary’s inspiriation, logo of the Nazi union DAF, which felt the same way about peasants’ guns.

If you are solicited by a local Rotary for support, membership, or facilities, be alert to the fact that they are an SJW-converged, anti-2nd-Amendment, anti-gun organization. Let them get paid by Bloomberg, like the rest of their movement.

Usage and Employment

 The hardware takes you only half way.

Cop Wisely Ducks

Here’s a series of several videos of the same shooting in San Ysidro, way deep in the south of California, on 28 Mar 15 (video just released at the conclusion of the investigation). Cops responding to a domestic encountered a man, later determined to be Alberto Hernandez, with a handgun that appeared to be a 9mm Beretta. Later, he exits and refuses to put down the gun. Not surprisingly, three cops engage him and he’s killed.

Tentative conclusion: suicide by cop. But what we thought was interesting was the first cop bodycam, where you see the cop take cover and you don’t see the shooting. You can see this cop’s actions from the other angles as well, especially from the crisp FLIR in the helicopter. And it’s clear that he did just the right thing in taking cover behind a concrete wall.

It’s great to approach an enemy or a suspect from many sides to try to get him to surrender. But when the shooting starts, you have to make sure your buddies don’t shoot you!

Two more things: the 9mm Beretta was actually a Daisy Powerline 340, which is styled like the Beretta. It comes with an orange muzzle cap, but the cap had been removed, making it indistinguishable from a firearm without close examination. And the investigation (.pdf) learned that Hernandez was mentally ill (bipolar), full to the gills with psychoactive drugs, and juiced up to a BAC of .30, which probably explains why he didn’t flinch when first shot — he wasn’t feeling any pain.

Cops ‘n’ Crims

Cops bein’ cops, crims bein’ crims. The endless Tom and Jerry show of crime and (sometimes instantaneous) punishment.

Sumdood Picked the Wrong Time to Rob the Store

‘Cause he only thought he was a badass. As he learned, if he retained any of the lesson after the concussion, a whole other dude was the badass. Fun with John Correia and ASP.

She’ll Never Make 35 Million Bail

That’s what the California courts thought about Tiffany Li, who seems to have murdered her estranged husband in a custody dispute, and whose ties to China are more solid than any to the USA.

She made bail.

Most of it by other overseas Chinese pledging their property (which means the court has more like $65 million in property if she bugs.

What’s the over/under on her showing up for court? If she does, what’s the over/under on her showing up for sentencing?

The Family that Does Crime Together Does Time Together

Wesley Leverett is accused of murder in McMinnville, TN. He’s being held on $1 million bail. His immediate relatives — mother and two grandparents — were also busted, as accessories after the fact, and accused of evidence tampering.

I guess the difference between murderers and the rest of us, is the difference between parents who destroy evidence for you and parents who pinch your ear and drag you straight to the station.

The Perils of Kathleen: Longest 15 Warhol Minutes in History

How can we miss her if the state won’t put her away?

  • Item 5 Apr: Williams Turned Into Kanethat’s his problem, according to D’Annunzio in the Legal Intelligencer. It does seem like more than the average number of Pennsylvania prosecutors wind up prosecuted these days. Like Kane, Williams belongs in jail. They both might still go there.
  • Item 3 Apr: We Read a Book on the Jerry Sandusky case, by the kid who was identified as Victim 1. Our interest: was Kane mentioned at all? She made her pursuit of Sandusky proof of her prosecutorial bona fides. Her name is absent.

What, It Wasn’t Rent Boys?

Forgive us, for we have stereotyped. But we saw a monsignor (a grade of Catholic priest) was arrested in Philadelphia, and we jumped to the conclusion that buggery was a factor. (Ever notice that with seven deadly sins, that isn’t one? Hmmmm…) But as it turns out, it wasn’t buggery at all, but another one of the Big Seven: greed.

Federal prosecutors accused Msgr. William A. Dombrow, 77, of siphoning funds for nearly nine years from a private account set up to support Villa St. Joseph, the facility in Darby Borough that also houses priests who have been accused of sexual abuse.

OK, so there’s a buggery angle, but the newsman is stretching, there.

Much of the money that flowed into that account came from the life insurance payouts of priests who had died while residing there or bequests from the estates of parishioners who intended to support the facility.

The theft was discovered, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Rotella said, after the bank that administered the account flagged several suspicious payments and deductions at Harrah’s Casino in Chester and notified the Archdiocese of Philadelphia last year.

Yeah, it does look amiss when the money donated for the benefit of elderly and infirm priests winds up being gambled away. Apparently Dombrow blew over a half million on high living. What vow of poverty?

Dombrow is a recovering alcoholic who devoted his time to helping other priests with struggles with alcohol. He previously led the Archdiocesan Priests’ Committee on Alcoholism and a center for those seeking religious-based addiction treatment.

A recovering alkie, but a practicing gambler.

Among the funds he is accused of embezzling was $14,410 left to Villa St. Joseph by the Rev. Francis P. Rogers, who had numerous sexual-abuse complaints lodged against him prior to his death in 2005 — the same year a Philadelphia grand jury issued its report detailing the allegations against him.

Okay, so two buggery angles.

Unconventional (and current) Warfare

What goes on in the battlezones of the world — and preparation of the future battlefields. 

She Was in a Safe Job

Safest service? The Air Force, hands down. As the old joke goes, “An honorable alternative to military service.” But mortal danger is where you find it, or, as Staff Sgt. Alexandria Morrow, USAF, discovered, where it finds you:

Alexandria Mae Morrow, 25, an Air Force weapons loader known to her comrades as “the mom of the flight line,” died Wednesday, March 22, during noncombat operations in the Middle East, the U.S. Defense Department reported.

Staff Sgt. Morrow was loading or unloading a bomb near a jet when the device slipped off its track, hitting her on the head. The Air Force is investigating the incident.

Of course, we’d never suggest a mismatch between a 100-lb airman and a bomb several times her weight may have been a factor. And you may rest assured that the officers doing the investigation won’t suggest it, either.

A seven-year veteran and the mother of two young daughters, she had been deployed for five months to Jordan with the 332nd Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron, although she was assigned to the 366th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho.

 It was a safe job. Or it should have been. Everyone take care out there.

Syria – The International Players

Here’s the program, courtesy of The Daily Mail. Syria doesn’t just have Russia and Iran, but also a few other friends in low places.

Syria Strike

Here’s some BDA on the Syria strike. There was no attempt to disable the base, but some facilities and some aircraft were hit.

The dog that did not bark was the SA-300 Growler missile system that the Russians have deployed at the airfield. The Russians had an hour to thirty minutes notification of the strike, and yet they did not engage the missiles at all. Our best guess is that they do not have the capability to detect the TLAMs until they are within the Growler’s minimum engagement range.

Pre-attack airfield. The fan-shaped paved areas around the ends of the runways are the Hardened Aircraft Shelters. More aircraft dispersal is on individual pads in the east-northeast.

Post-attack airfield:

The next image shows the the lower right HAS area. Some HASes have been hit, and some not. If you look to the right of the five-trail intersection in the lower right area of the image, you’ll see several oval defensive structures which may be AA related.

The westernmost array of HASes was hit pretty hard.

Then there’s this image, promoted by the Syrians and Russians as proof that the US dropped the attack ball.

As the Daily Mail put it, “Unscathed: This collection of five jets on al-Sharyat Air Base somehow escaped the bombing raid, despite being located out in the open, on a patchy grass plain”.

“Collection” is a pretty good term for these museum pieces. The first and probably the last (foreground-to-background) are MiG-21F-13s, an early 1960s variant that was already being replaced at the time of the Six Day War. The middle jet is a MiG-21PF, the one that replaced it. The other two are MiG-21MFs, we think; late seventies or possible early eighties jets. In other words, the US recognized and didn’t hit a line of decoys.

Sorry about that.

It’s harder to tell whether the jets we hit in the HASes were modern jets or more old junk, because they’re really junk now.

An unidentified single-engine jet lies in ruins. In the background, two jets in facing HASes appear to be intact. The one on the left is a 1970s jet, like a MiG-21 or Su-7 or -22. One on the right, unidentified.

This could be another MiG-21 or an Su-7 or -22, planes of broadly similar vintage. It’s hard to tell. 

Veterans’ Issues

Is it time to o disband this thing yet, and letting all its bloatoverhead seek its own level in the Dreaded Private Sector™?  Taking a break this week.

Health & Fitness

Nothing new. 

Lord Love a Duck!

The weird and wonderful (or creepy) that we didn’t otherwise get to.

Snort

This struck us funny. This unit must be too small for a sergeant major, as there’s no reflective belts on anybody.

History of SF Documentary

Here’s another video for you. We watched this with an occasional cringe as they got something wrong, but a great deal of delight to see old acquaintances and one or two old friends.

To call this a “complete history,” even to its circa 1999 broadcast date, is a bit of an overreach. And since then information about other SF antecedents, like the 6th Army’s Alamo Scouts who operated in the Pacific, and the OSS Maritime Unit which operated in the Med and the CBI, has become available.

Among the old acquaintances and friends of Your Humble Blogger that appear as talking heads in this film include the late Robin Moore, the late MSG and Ambassador Ed Sprague, now-retired Colonel Jack Tobin, O&I school buddy and later CW3 “Joach” Griffith, CW3 Don Mills, an acquaintance we’ve known so long we forget where from, Dan Winschel who went on to success as a Physician’s Assistant, and good friend and teammate Steve Kalvelage.

The original, unofficial SF crest was a winged Trojan Horse.

As well as those guys, who probably won’t have the same meaning for you that they do for us (except, of course, for Moore), there are real SF luminaries interviewed here, like Lieutenant General Bill Yarborough, Col. Vladimir Sobichevsky, Col. Ola Lee Mize MOH, CSMs Hank Luthy, Tyrone Adderly and Joe Lupyak, and founding SF Group Commander Aaron Bank. (Whom people keep calling Aaron Banks, but his name was singular). Many of these men are no longer with us.

This has to be one of the last interviews Bank gave before he became seriously ill and passed away at, IIRC, age 99. Our guess is that it happened around the time the 2000 SF Association Convention was held in Boston. (Your Humble Blogger missed it, due to a JCET to Jamaica). Moore is wearing the shirt of Chapter LIV, SF Association, which is based in the Boston area, and of which he was a member. That chapter sponsored the Convention that year, and the SF Convention is a great place for a documentary filmmaker to get a whole bunch of normally camera-shy SF guys before the red eye of the camera.

Yarborough is the guy who got President Kennedy to sign off on the Green Beret as SF headgear (forever irritating Big Green), and he tells the story in this video.

Another Gettysburg Hero from the ‘Shire

Well, no sooner did we get the story of Col. Edward Cross, when a new newsletter arrives from the legislature’s Republicans[.pdf], and bedamned if there isn’t another hero, who avenged Cross — and then perished himself.

Following up on last issue’s feature regarding Col. Edward H. Cross of the 5th NH Volunteer Regiment (whose portrait can be found on the first floor outside of SH103) Rep. Reed Panasiti of Amherst let us know of another hero of the Battle of Gettysburg who served under Col. Cross, Sergeant Charles Phelps of Amherst.

As written in our previous feature, on July 2nd, 1863 during the early hours of the Battle of Gettysburg, Col. Cross was shot by a Confederate sniper through the abdomen exiting near his spine mortally wounding him.

After seeing his commander fall to a Confederate sniper’s bullet, Sgt. Charles Phelps took careful aim and shot the sniper as he stood up from behind a stone wall, killing him.

This is beginning to sound like an episode of “Spy vs. Spy”, isn’t it?

Shortly after, however, as the “Fightin’ Fifth” retreated to the cover of the woods, Sgt. Phelps was shot in the back, and died later that evening.

Well, that’s a heck of a thing.

Sgt. Phelps’s remains were sent back to Amherst where he was interred at the Meadowview Cemetery. To this date there is a large marble headstone marking Sgt. Phelps’s grave with inscriptions of the 10 battles that he served in during the war. We thank Rep. Panasiti for sharing this interesting piece of NH Civil War history with us and helping us expand upon last weeks “Historical Happenings” segment.

We’ll have to go visit Sergeant Phelps one of these days.

Friday Tour d’Horizon, 2017 Lucky Week 13

This week’s Tour d’Horizon is publishing half a day or so late. The problem was it was just not coming together, and time was running out, and the Saturday run schedule was blank. So we dropped the blocked post, and did Saturday stuff instead. This’ll backfill.

We have never actually experienced the neurotic mindlock called “writer’s block,” but we’ve definitely come to a standstill on a single piece or project. Experience teaches us we can continue to push and shove at that boulder, or we can walk away and roll some other stones, and come back to it from a fresh angle. This obviously applies far beyond the simple act of writing.

Fortunately, we always have more writing, more actual work, more airplane work, more gun work than we can handle at any given moment.

Guns

I don’t wanna work, I just wanna bang on my gun all day.

Colt Bucks a Trend, Hires… or Do They?

First, the press release, as picked up by WTNH News:

Colt Manufacturing Company plans to add 100 jobs in West Hartford over the next five years.

Governor Malloy announced Friday that Colt plans to buy its West Hartford headquarters and manufacturing facility. The company emerged from Chapter 11 reorganization in 2016 and says it’s now positioning itself for growth.

The state Department of Economic and Community Development is supporting the expansion project through a $10 million loan, with up to $2 million forgiven if certain job milestones are met. State funds will be used to help in the acquisition of the manufacturing facility and the land, which has a total price of $13 million.

Now, a little background. Colt’s lease of its facility was a racket used by the owners to leech capital out of the company for years. In the bankruptcy, the far-over-market lease was crammed down, limiting the cash flow of that particular stream, so now Colt “buys” it to give the owners another hunk of the company’s pretax earnings. Even better, they’re getting the taxpayers of Connecticut to pony up a $2 million grand and $8 million loan, at a time when most market lenders are aware of the owners’ habit of burning their lenders. You’re not going to see it reported honestly like that, in any of the places that print the state’s press releases, but that’s what’s really happening:

  1. Connecticut is giving Colt money now;
  2. Colt is giving the money to its owners now for title to some buildings the owners already own, but keep the deed in a different pocket;
  3. Colt is promising Connecticut that they will have hired some people later — specifically, by 2023.
  4. Colt is promising to give back 80% of the money, later, specifically by 2023.

That’s an investment only a government functionary (or a room-temp IQ like Dannel Malloy) could love: an unsecured loan at negative interest!

Miguel’s Thoughts on Gun Culture 2.0

One of the most entertaining and informative blogs around is Miguel’s Gun Free Zone. We either missed, skimmed, or just plain didn’t react to this 2016 post on Gun Culture 2.0, which itself is a bit of a reaction by Miguel to David Yamane’s thesis that we’ve mentioned here before. (David is an academic studying the gun culture from genuine curiosity, not as an entomologist studies pests).

A substantial portion of Gun Culture 2.0 has an aesthetic that could best be described as Blackwater chic.

Quite a number of new small gun companies have sprung up advertising their founding by ex-military.  The stamp of ex-military has become so important to Gun Culture 2.0 that some people are willing to lie to benefit from it.

No disrespect to our veterans, but this frustrates me.  I never served in combat.  I never cleared a house with my M4 pattern rifle.  I have no operational experience.  I am an engineers and a good one at that.  I know heat treating, GD&T, fluid dynamics, heat transfer, finishing, manufacturing, and everything else it takes to make a gun work.  I may not know how to stage an ambush but I do know how to take aluminum and steel and turn it into one of the finest firearms money can buy.  That took years of schooling and is not something taught in basic training or AIT.  The problem is, who in Gun Culture 2.0 wants to buy an AR or a 1911 from some fat engineer who sits behind a desk with gigabytes of test data to show how good his gun is?

There is nothing wrong with not being a vet. When we worked biodefense, it was amazing to see the contributions a bunch of scientists you never, ever are going to hear “boo” about have made to our national and personal safety. It was also very humbling: SF leaves a guy confident that he can go anywhere and do anything, and watching bright young people politely pause to let the “operators'” minds struggle and catch up was a profound reminder that we all don our pants one leg at a time.

A few of these scientists were also Gun Culture 2.0 types, as an aside.

But the US can field a decent Armed Forces in part because we have, behind us, great biologists… and oil frackers and graphic design firms and insurance companies, and you, whatever it is that you do so well that somebody pays you to do it. The economy is the hill on top of which we all make our stand, so never feel bad about your contribution, unless you know you’re not doing your best.

Gun Culture 2.0 wants to buy an AR or 1911 from some ex Navy Ranger F16 door gunner who designed his weapon EXPLICITLY for killing Taliban.  It makes me understand (but not condone) faking military service to get your fledgling gun company off the ground.

All of this goes double when it comes to firearms training.  ….  I go to these courses to improve my ability to defend myself in a home invasion or if I am caught in the middle of a convenience store robbery.  However, some of them seem to be “let’s pretend you are Delta Force” weekend retreats.

I think one thing that would make Gun Culture 2.0 more welcoming, not just to women, is a demilitarization.

Miguel’s advice to new entrants who find gun culture intimidating: “Never attribute to -ism what can adequately be explained by someone being an asshole.” He notes it’s “also seen in STEM, don’t take it personally.”

See, this is the kind of thought-provoking stuff we find when we read Miguel. Even the seemingly random links at the bottom of his current stories (which is how we found this) are worthwhile.

Union Switch & Signal .45s

We can’t even keep up with the stuff we’re bidding on, and this spring is shaping up to be an awesome auction season. Fortunately, the whole gun-o-sphere is catching some of the best ones. For example, here’s Chris Eger at Guns.com catching an entire collection of rare Union Switch & Signal M1911A1s that are up for grabs at Rock Island.

US&S was a secondary contract producer, but produced the fewest of any of the quantity manufacturers (Remington Rand made the most, followed by Colt — which had many other war production contracts — and Ithaca). But the railroad-signal company took great pride in not having a single pistol rejected by Army inspectors. If you’re a 1911 guy (and who isn’t?), you’ll definitely want to Read The Whole Thing™ and click over to RIA to drool… and bid.

Gun Stocks update

Anyway you want it: we have the table, our analysis, and the popular chart. We have simplified to one chart and table, incorporating Olin.

Gun Stocks since the Election
Week Ending RGR SWHC AOBC VSTO OLN
11/8/16 64.40 28.45 38.94 22.45
11/18/16 53.20 24.13 40.02 25.16
11/25/16 52.50 23.82 41.05 25.69
12/2/16 50.25 21.10 39.66 25.94
12/9/16 51.90 21.07 38.62 25.87
12/16/16 53.45 21.59 36.81 25.42
12/23/16 54.05 22.11 38.03 26.21
12/30/16 52.70 21.08 36.90 25.61
1/6/17 54.15 21.00 38.08 26.39
1/13/17 51.35 20.60 28.70 27.07
1/20/17 50.65 20.13 27.78 26.64
1/27/17 51.90 20.58 28.33 26.69
2/3/17 50.05 20.12 26.18 30.83
2/10/17 50.15 20.07 21.58 29.81
2/17/17 49.70 19.22 20.89 30.86
2/24/17 49.85 19.45 20.72 30.78
3/3/17 48.75 18.83 20.47 32.34
3/10/17 52.15 19.52 20.71 31.70
3/17/17 53.55 19.45 20.89 33.07
3/24/17 51.90 18.73 20.31 32.77
3/31/17 53.55 19.81 20.59 32.87

Everybody’s somewhat recovered from last week’s hit, Ruger exactly, which just looks weird. Q1 of 2016 ended today (Friday 3/31) and by mid-April we should have some financials to look at. Expect the media to write that the gun manufacturers are doomed — whatever the numbers say.

 

Disclaimer: Your Humble Blogger holds RGR, bought at about 56.40 on 9 Nov 16. It bottomed in the 40s later that day before rebounding a little by close, but it is taking its sweet time recovering. Yeah, shoulda bought OLN. (It’s still paying a dividend, though, so actually we’ve made a little bit of money on it).

Gun Poly-Ticks

Another State Constitutionalizes

This is what progress in individual rights looks like:

Source: Jeff at Gun-Nuttery.

There are now 13 states that have Constitutional Carry. Our own New Hampshire was not long in the “latest” seat, as North Dakota has joined us. There are now 13 Constitutional Carry states: Alaska, Arkansas (this is disputed among Arkansans, just how free it is), Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Missouri, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Dakota (new!), Vermont (the first), West Virginia, and Wyoming. (Some, including Wyoming and ND, limit the right to state residents; Montana is not on the list, as it’s only Constitutional Carry outside city limits). Oklahoma is not a CC state for residents, but it is for residents of states that permit carry without a license.

In addition, other states have seen Constitutional Carry bills emerge from legislatures, only to be vetoed by anti-gun governors; in past years these vetoes have been overcome by override (over governors Nixon and Tomblin in MO and WV) or gubernatorial replacement (NH). This year, there has been one veto, by South Dakota’s anti-gun Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R). He has enough support from the legislature’s minority Democrats (!) to sustain the veto. The bills are mired in the legislature in still other states, although Texas remains a possibility this year.

While this means that over a quarter of states (26%) are CC, these are largely rural states with just under 10% of the nation’s population.

In each state where this law has passed, opponents have predicted mayhem, as they did for every state that went from no-issue to may- or shall-issue over the last 30 years. The mayhem has not eventuated. Culturally, this movement seems to be accelerating, but it may be hitting a political ceiling; there are quite a few states that are not yet ready for CC, and a hard core of five to eight that continue cranking up constraints on civil gun owners. There’s more information in this interesting John Richardson post, which was the main source of this item.

Media Lies About Tulsa Incident

Tulsa, OK police had to deal with a crazy female crook named Madison Dickson. Wanted for numerous violent felonies, known to be armed and dangerous, the cops finally caught up with her in an associate’s truck and pulled the vehicle over. Dickson exited the truck and ran, exchanging pistol fire with the police (ineffectively, on both sides). Trouble was: they were right next to an elementary school. Multiple dashcam videos released by the Tulsa PD showed what happened next. Dickson ran, periodically turning to aim and shoot at the cops, and one of the cop cars ran her down.

So far, so good.

Comes the Tulsa World newspaper and selects out of the video the one frame that does not show Dickson’s pistol in her right hand, blows it up and runs it on Page One with: “Police say she had a gun.” Why, those lyin’ coppers!

Except this: everyone can see she had the gun, including the fake news reporters and editors of the Tulsa World, in every frame of the GD video except the one they chose to print — and lie about.

Can you trust them on anything? (Hat tip, Miguel).

Shorts

  • In Russia, a shadowy, well-funded group is seeking a return to Soviet-era gun prohibition. They’re using a social-media stunt. Gabriel Beltrone, a national socialist writing for AdWeek, says “their heart is in the right place.”
  • In the Czech Republic, protesters demand “2nd Amendment or Article 50” in the face of EU pressure against gun rights. Photo Essay.
  • ATF appears to be overreaching on “silencer parts”. Along with declaring each replacement wipe to be an independent “silencer” needing an independent registration and tax, they’ve been cracking down on “solvent traps” and “parts kits” — with mixed results. The Winter Haven, FL operator of one such business has been charged — despite an ATF letter that his product was legal. An Ohio man who was arrested and charged with great fanfare was rapidly acquitted to near media silence (but there’s one story).

Usage and Employment

 The hardware takes you only half way. We’re talked out on this for now, after the Broken Arrow, OK shooting.

Cops ‘n’ Crims

Cops bein’ cops, crims bein’ crims. The endless Tom and Jerry show of crime and (sometimes instantaneous) punishment.

Bullets for Buggery

Paul Gotta was sentenced Friday in federal court in Hartford. [Gotta] pleaded guilty last year to explosives and firearms charges.

What explosives and firearms charges?

Prosecutors say Gotta helped the 17-year-old boy purchase the ammunition in 2012, bought explosives powder for him and helped him build a pipe bomb.

He got the kid…

thousands of rounds of handgun ammunition and giving him 2 pounds of explosives powder.

Why would an adult man do that, in a jurisdiction (CT) where it’s strengstens verboten?

…former priest at two parishes in East Windsor…

In 2013, Gotta was suspended from the priesthood after he was accused of sexually assaulting a minor. Prosecutors later dropped the charge as part of a deal in which he pleaded guilty to breach of peace and received no jail time.

The admitted pedo priest doesn’t have to register as a sex offender, either. Because in Connecticut, ammunition is contraband but buggering kids is your constitutional right. The gun running pervert gets off (no pun intended) with nine months in Club Fed.

(Incidentally, one way the Church can afford all the lawsuits over all the pedo priests, is because they make a bundle on every criminal alien that Catholic Charities gets paid — by the unwitting, unwilling taxpayers — to resettle in some unsuspecting neighborhood).

The Perils of Kathleen: Aftermath

Not much new and direct.

  • Item 30 Mar: Kane Crony on Hot SeatThis one is a new one — Centre County DA Stacy Parks Miller. Good-government types have set up a post office box for tips, because of what they say is Miller’s abuse of wiretaps and email warrants to expose whistleblowers and retaliate.
  • Item 28 Mar: Philly Too Tolerant of Corruptionargues Ernest Owens, based on the convictions of Kane and Congressman Chaka Fattah (and son), and the indictment and coming convicton of Philly DA Seth Williams. Yeah, but people in every jurisdiction think theirs is the most crooked. Political corruption seems fairly universal. Owens is right that the monoparty political culture in Philadelphia is a contributor.

Better Marksmanship than Judgment

Chicago cop charged (and already convicted, in the press) with 6 counts of murder for shooting a PCP-fueled knife wielder dead catches even more charges. Point of the charges appears to be to appease Black Criminal Lives Matter. But the cop is in real trouble, as the hophead was moving away from him, and was shot in the back.

Figures that it may be a bad shoot, the one time ever that a cop fired 16 shots at a suspect — and hit him with all 16!

Shorts

  • Item 31 Mar: Serial Killer Gets KilledFormer nurse Donald Harvey, who was convicted of the “mercy murders” of 37 elderly patients but bragged that his actual box score was over 50, was beaten and stomped to death by his fellow inmates. Awwwww. Harvey was caught because a sharp pathologist smelled cyanide during a victim’s autopsy.

Unconventional (and current) Warfare

What goes on in the battlezones of the world — and preparation of the future battlefields. Nothing this week — everybody else is talking about Korea, we’ll talk about it when we have something different to say. 

Veterans’ Issues

Is it time to o disband this thing yet, and letting all its bloatoverhead seek its own level in the Dreaded Private Sector™?  Just shorts this week, or we’d never get the post up….

Shulkin on Progress

At NPR, VA Secretary Dr David Shulkin puts the best face possible on VA performance. NPR has been very critical, of, for example, the way that $10B from the Choice Act vanished without a trace in the bureaucracy of the VA, and the way money for backlogged medical centers wound up hiring doctors at less overloaded ones. Shulkin addresses these problems frankly; he discusses his difficulty hiring providers, and his highest priority (also, perhaps, the most intractable): veteran suicides. One of his problems is something many of us have dealt with at a personal level: you can’t help  the guy who doesn’t want help. “[O]f the 20 vets who take their life every day through suicide, just six are getting care in the VA health care system,” Shulkin says.

VA Gets a New Nº 2

Well, if he isn’t filibustered, they do. And since Assistant Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs is not a post that requires Senate confirmation, John Ullyot can start work right away. Ullyot, a successful businessman, is also a veteran himself — he served in the Marines — and a former staffer for the Senate Armed Services and Veterans Affairs committees, so he comes with knowledge of Capitol Hill, for what it’s worth. The President appointed him a few days ago; the position’s been filled by an acting-jack since its former incumbent, Dr Shulkin, was kicked upstairs. Welcome, Mr Ullyot; good luck to you and to those veterans who must depend on the VA.

Why Dr Shulkin Wants the Accountability Law

A VA worker in the Jacksonville area was caught viewing porn — with a patient. But under the current bill, they couldn’t just fire him. In fact, he’s still employed by the VA.

Hope for Para- and Quadriplegics?

It’s new, crude, and highly limited, but it’s promising: experimental technology let a quadriplegic move his hand, eat, and drink, with a wired brain-nervous-system interface. While neural restoration is the Holy Grail scientists seek, neuroprosthetic devices are stepping out of the pages of science fiction.

Health & Fitness

Nothing new. 

As always, a trip to FL in the winter has been refreshing and has restarted the 1000-cal/day cardio clock. Swimming is a favorite, but there’s a problem with sneaking out at 11 PM to do laps (previous practice). Small Dog Mk II twigs to the absence of his human, and begins alternating piercing yips and mournful howls until the swimmer returns. Meanwhile, the Blogfather, happily in the land of nod, was awoken by this canine concert and was NOT amused.

This may have been SDMkII’s payback for being taking for a bicycle ride — in the basket. He loved that not.

Now to keep the 1000-cal up, along with the strength training, in still wintry Hog Manor.

Lord Love a Duck!

The weird and wonderful (or creepy) that we didn’t otherwise get to.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Axes

Is it just us, or does the Republic of South Africa produce more than its fair share of weird homicides?

In this case, a youth from a wealthy family killed ’em all, or tried (a kid sister survived), and then called the cops with a transparent story that Sumdood did it.

Henri Van Breda, who handed himself over the police in September last year, is accused of murdering his father Martin, 54, a wealthy businessman, his mother Teresa, 55, and older brother Rudi, 22, in a frenzied early morning axe attack in the heart of South Africa’s western Cape vineyard area.

His younger sister Marli, who was 16 at the time of the attack, was left for dead on a balcony. She survived, despite a cut to her jugular vein and severe head injuries.

Van Breda appeared calm and smiled briefly as he appeared in the packed court room wearing a blue suite.

The case was postponed to April 24 because the defense said it had not received crucial DNA reports about the murder weapon from the state.

Van Breda, who is out on bail, has agreed not to contact witnesses, including his sister. He is also forbidden from being within 500 meters (yards) of an airport or a harbor.

Kind of amazing that a guy charged in a crime like this is bailed.

According to police, when officers arrived at the crime scene they found Van Breda sitting outside the house, wearing sleeping shorts and white socks stained with the blood of the victims. He was taken in for questioning and later brought back to the house, where investigators found a bloodstained axe and kitchen knife. He was later released into the care of an uncle.

Marli van Breda, who has been living with other members of the extended family, is suffering amnesia and unable to recall the incident.

That’s a relatively common occurrence, after being brained with an axe, actually.

On the morning of the attack van Breda had phoned his girlfriend at 4 a.m. but only called paramedics three hours later.

A recording of van Breda phoning the emergency services emerged in which he can be heard telling the operator: “My family and me were attacked by a guy with an axe.”

via South African man, 22, in court for axe murder of his family – NY Daily News.

This certainly looks like one of those Richard Pryor jokes come to life:

“Why did you kill your whole family?”

(Pause, thinking). “They was home.”

You know, it’s sad when a mentally ill person kills himself, but it might not be the worst thing.

A Czech Gun You’ve Probably Never Seen….

…well, unless you’re Czech. Or Canadian. It’s the CZ 122 Sport.

It’s marked with the logo of CZ-UB and appears to owe nothing to the CZ-75. It’s just an attractive, modern .22 target pistol. (Look how low the bore axis is!)

A few of these were imported about ten years ago… to Canada. None to the Great Red White and Blue South. So they have more to gloat about than the bulk of the world’s greatest hockey players.

And no, we don’t know why they weren’t brought here. Maybe they think they can’t be price-competitive with Rugers, Brownings and other mass-produced .22 plinkers?

We think we’d want one even if it wasn’t a CZ, because it’s cool looking. Maybe there are some echoes of the Kratochvil brothers’ vz. 50 service pistol and vz. 52 army pistol designs in it? It’s got just a little “space gat” vibe to it.

We found it here, and there’s a Reddit thread where the guy who posted the picture said this about it:

CZ 122 sport edition. Chambered for .22LR. Not too much other information on this specific gun. Shoots like a dream and is pretty space-ey.

From my understand they are mega rare. No idea on production run. They are 875 grams, hold 10 rounds and are 24 cm long. Buddy found it here in Ottawa and has seen one other out in Calgary. According to some people of gun blogs from 2005 they didn’t import them into the states.

Wonder what it’s story is. We’ll have to dig into the latest Czech language sources and see.

Which brings us to a poll…

Is there too much Czech/Czechoslovak/CZ here?

 
pollcode.com free polls

As ever, we value your opinions. And we reserve the right to act on them, or not!

OT: Animal Behavior and Highway Driving

Humans are not animals, at least not in our value system. But in terms of mechanisms both physical and behavioral, there’s certainly some commonalities. Behavioral scientists, whose field has picked up in respect what it’s lost in pizzazz since the days of B.F. Skinner, insist that many (some say all) human behaviors can be explained by reference to our animal, evolutionary past.

Jack Baruth, an automotive writer who specializes in stoking controversies, says that bozo driver behavior is actually explained by animal instincts that survive in the atavistic core of Homo sapiens. First, he reminds us all how little we like….

…the people who wander from lane to lane for no reason. The drivers who speed up to match you as you pass them on the freeway, not out of anger or machismo but simply because their subconscious herd-animal instincts tell them that it’s completely safe and comforting to be driving at 75mph next to another 4,000-pound unguided missile. Tailgaters. People who can’t merge at speed. I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

Yeah. Hell is other people, on the highway. And they usually have Massachusetts plates, but that’s a whole other rant. So where does the animal bit come in?

I’ve watched drivers unconsciously pace me all the way from 55mph to 85mph or more as long as I increase my speed one MPH at a time, or from 85mph to 55mph if I slow down by the same increment. They’re not trying to be annoying; they are just operating on the herd principle buried in their backbrains. But if I slam on the throttle and go from 60mph to 70mph at max acceleration, they won’t follow.

If you move over for a faster car that then slows down right ahead of you, try moving back in behind them. They will almost always slow down 5mph or so, because they are slightly nervous at seeing you appear in their mirror. Then you can return to your previous lane and pass them again, using sharp acceleration to put distance between you and them and break the herd behavior.

He has several suggestions for, actually, manipulating the unconscious, herd-brain instincts of the inattentive driver.

…All of these tactics, and many more that you’ll discover independently, have one thing in common. They are designed to break the herding instinct by making you more visible, or more worrisome, to the unconscious driver. They turn you from just a comforting, indistinct presence in their mirrors or windshield to an actual, noticeable automobile that might not be worth sticking so closely to.

Naturally, we’re going to tell you to Read The Whole Thing™. Sometimes we find Baruth and his towering ego, which is so centrally present in each column as to deserve co-writer credit, annoying. But in this column he named several things that we do to keep moving on the road, and it never occurred to us to use the template of herd-animal behavior as a way to understand the migrating Massholes driving three abreast at three miles under the speed limit, with twenty miles of cars backed up behind them.

We’ll never think of them the same way again. But we’ll probably continue cursing them. That’s our instinctive animal behavior.