Monthly Archives: June 2016

So How New Are “Assault Weapons”?

SP1SN00628_closeupOne claim we keep seeing in the media is that “assault weapons” are something new, either new just before they were banned in the 1990s, or new since the ban expired in 2004. This is nonsense. Sure, the term is a neologism coined by national socialist Josh Sugarmann in the late 1980s, but the sort of rifles and pistols he applied that terminology to were already in common and customary use over a decade prior.

Using the definition in the 1994 law, or better still, using the definition the media seems to fall back on, “anything that will take a double-row magazine,” we see that dozens of such were available even 40 years ago.

What high-cap semi-autos were available 40 years ago?


Beretta DA Auto Pistol (.380, 12-round magazine).
Browning P35 High Power (9mm, 13 rounds). (Several models).
LES P-18 (9mm, 18 rounds)
Smith & Wesson M59 (9mm, 14 rounds)
Universal “Enforcer” M3000 (.30 carbine, 30 rounds).


Armalite AR-180 (5.56mm, 5, 20 & 30 rounds).
Colt AR-15 Sporter (5.56mm, 5, 20 & 30 rounds)
National Ordnance M1 Carbine (.30 carbine, 15 & 30 rounds). (Several models).
PJK M-68 Carbine (9mm, 30 rounds).
Plainfield Machine Co. Carbine (.30 carbine, 15 & 30 rounds). (Several models).
Ruger Mini-14 (5.56mm, 5 & 20 rounds). (Several models).
Springfield Armory M1A (7.62 x 51mm, 10 & 20 rounds). (Several models).
Universal 1002/1003 Autoloading Carbine (.30 carbine, 15 & 30 rounds). (Several models).
Valmet M/62S Rifle (7.62 x 39mm, 30 rounds) (Two models).
Valmet M/72S Rifle (5.56 x 45mm, 30 rounds) (Two models).


Amber, John T., Ed. Gun Digest: 30th Anniversary 1976 Deluxe Edition. Northfield, IL: DBI Books, 1975. pp. 281-329.


There’s nothing new under the sun. Forty years ago, in the throes of the foreshortened Ford Administration, American gun buyers could buy AR-15s, M1 Carbines and clones, an M14 clone, and two different AK clones. They could also buy several handguns which came standard with a magazine holding over 10 rounds. All in all there are 15 models listed with features that would frighten Congress. Some of these weapons were already quite old; the AR-15 SP1 was 13 years old; the various carbines originally had been made from parts surplused after World War II ended some 30 years prior.

On the handgun side, they had 12-, 13-, 14- and even 18-shot capacities to choose from. These were not all entirely new novelties; the Browning High Power was already over 40 years old.

On the rifle side, Sterling began producing 40-round AR-15/AR-180 magazines at this time.

Note also that the 1976 Gun Digest was produced in 1975 (in order to ship before its cover date). In the 1977 Gun Digest, the HKs start showing up.


Since then, these weapons have only multiplied around the nation, and the murder rate, 8.7 in 1976, has dropped to about half that, primarily due to mandatory sentencing removing predators from the ecosystem.

It would be interesting to continue this examination of old Gun Digest annuals, and see whether the “availability” of models of “assault weapon” tracks the murder rate. Murder rate is used as a proxy for crime rate because police managers have become adept at reclassifying crimes, but they have a much harder time making a dead body disappear — a conundrum that has been the undoing of many a nefarious plot.


When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Trains (again)

train wreckThe guy that’s still alive leaped from the train at 60 mph or so. The three guys who didn’t jump, but who rode the trains allthe way to the head-on impact, are just missing. 

One person was injured and three people left missing after two BNSF Railway trains suffered a head-on train collision near Amarillo, Texas, leading to a massive pile-up of box cars and a huge inferno that has cloaked the sky in black smoke.

The collision, which occurred Tuesday morning near the town of Panhandle, about 25 miles northeast of Amarillo, resulted in at least two dozen box cars being crumpled and derailed, as well as the reported casualties, all of whom were train crew.

BNSF Railway spokesman Joe Faust said the collision happened at about 8:40 am Tuesday. State, railroad and federal authorities have not provided details on the cause of the crash.

via One hurt and three missing after two trains collide head-on in Texas | Daily Mail Online.

By today, two of the “missing” were found in the wreckage — dead, of course — and a little more has been learned about the accident. Here’s an update at NBC News (chosen over ABC because ABC’s video autoplays). The dead man, the injured man who jumped free, and the man who is missing and presumed dead are all employees of the BNSF railroad. The trains were bound from Chicago to LA and from San Bernardino to Chicago, respectively.

As Complexity Increases, Officers are Getting Dumber

The Good Idea Fairy (aka Ash Carter) as a Child

The Good Idea Fairy (aka Ash Carter) as a Child

We considered something less blunt than “getting dumber” for the title, but we wanted to be sure that officers could read it. Matthew Cancian in Joint Forces Quarterly starts off with the Marines, simply because he has their data handy. We’ve deleted the footnote references (you can always go to the link) for readability, and added some bold emphasis of our own.

According to data obtained from a Freedom of Information Act request, the intelligence of new Marine Corps officers has declined steadily since 1980. Two-thirds of the new officers commissioned in 2014 would be in the bottom one-third of the class of 1980; 41 percent of new officers in 2014 would not have qualified to be officers by the standards held at the time of World War II. Similarly, at the top of the distribution, there are fewer of the very intelligent officers who will eventually become senior leaders.

This trend has not been caused by Marine Corps policies; it is a reflection of the expansion of higher education in America. In 1980, 18.6 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds were in college. Today, that number is close to 30 percent. The dramatic rise in college attendance has increased the pool of people eligible to become officers in the military (possession of a bachelor’s degree being one of the chief requirements to be commissioned as an officer in all branches), but it also means that possession of a college degree is a less significant indicator of intelligence now than it once was. Marine Corps officers have reflected this trend, declining in average intelligence along with the population of college graduates (see figure 1).cancian-figure1

Well, that’s a pretty well fitted curve. What it says to us is that a college degree alone is now nearly worthless as a signal of leadership-level intelligence. However, we also disagree that high intelligence is necessarily the mark of a leader. We’ve made fun before of beetle-browed officers who majored in football at Flyover State, but intelligence is more of a threshold item for a leader than an item where more is always better. Don’t believe us? Consider this thought experiment: the 2nd Ranger Battalion as led by the sociology and cultural anthropology postdocs at Columbia.

Yeah, we probably should have given you a trigger warning on that one.

We think Cancian’s theory of the cause of the intelligence decline he documents is highly probable. (To which we’d add the military’s absolute refusal to distinguish between highly cognitively loaded undergraduate degrees and entirely unloaded ones: a Berkeley B.S. in Physics ≠ a Berkeley B.A. in Grievance Studies, and the second candidate brings nothing of value to the armed services).

A similar decline in intelligence has likely occurred in the other Services’ officer corps, as this is a trend in the pool of all college graduates and not something specific to the Marine Corps. For example, the average Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) score of a Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps graduate in 2014 was the same as that of a new Marine officer. In the Army, the test scores of previously enlisted officer candidates have been declining since at least the mid-1990s (although the Army attributes this decline to changes in accession sources, unlike this article, which views the issue as more broadly based).

The Army has long refused to subject officer candidates to the same psychometric testing as enlisted soldiers. The party line is that the Army has effectively outsourced intelligence selection to the colleges (which is why TrigglyPuff might be your next infantry platoon leader, if she cal lose 150 pounds). The cynic’s view is that the Army does not want the Joes finding out that Lieutenant Fuzz really is below average in the Brain Housing Group. Either way, the result is the same: lots of hard-of-thinking Lt. Fuzzes and Wink Curtises misleading their men because they’re just not bright enough.

This article focuses on the Marine Corps because it has administered the same test, the General Classification Test (GCT), for decades and because of its responsiveness to the Freedom of Information Act process.

Translation: the Marines gave Cancian the data he asked for (“responsiveness to the Freedom of Information Act”) and the other services told him to go copulate with a rolling doughnut — not in so many words, but in a bunch of OSS Simple Sabotage Manual-approved acts of obstruction, foot-dragging, feigned (or maybe not) stupidity and dumb insolence.

More study is needed to ascertain the degree to which this phenomenon presents across the Department of Defense. A good first step would be to administer the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) to all officer candidates in all Services, study what makes an effective officer, and implement long-term reforms to strengthen the officer corps of the 21st century.

via Officers Are Less Intelligent: What Does It Mean? > National Defense University Press > Joint Force Quarterly 81.

Cancian’s suggestions are so good that the probability of any uptake on them before Sol goes nova is functionally zero. The personnel system, itself a creaky construct of self-serving officers, the lowest-quality enlisted troops in the services, and layers of obsolete procedures and practices layered atop scriptural Regulations which perch in turn on the leadership-by-jerking-you-around that emanates from Congress, always seeks homeostasis.

army troubleshooting flowchartDecentralizing power and giving commanders more hire and fire authority, while eliminating those tens of thousands of clerk positions and introducing them to the joys of life in a mortar platoon, would go a long way. Otherwise, with a centrally managed, bureaucratic promotions system, and commanders’ hands tied with respect to their ability to man their units, you get Army Troubleshooting (left).

We can’t speak for the Marines or other services here, but the only-a-college-degree-but-any-college-degree requirement is just one instance of the Army’s obsession with easily-gamed and empty credentialism. While the Army has internalized credentialism in its processes, the original requirement comes from, where else? Congress, in DOPMA and ROPMA. Acceptance of low-content degrees is also driven by bean-counting Affirmative Action, and other Diversity is Our Vibrancy® programs that reduce all soldiers and officers to their skin color and ancestry. The Armed Forces would be better off never even noting or recording the race, religion and other personal characteristics of their volunteers.

Striker-Fired Gun Loose in a Bag = Bad Idea

It wasn't his foot this time.

It wasn’t his foot this time.

Unfortunately for a former member of the Indianapolis Colts, this is one of the cases where Experience gives the examination before the lesson, and since the student has assumed ambient temperature, the retest will not be scheduled.

A former NFL player died Tuesday after accidentally shooting himself in the stomach.

Zurlon Tipton, 26, a former Indianapolis Colts running back, was dropping off his car at a dealership in Roseville, Michigan when he reached into a bag, firing a gun inside.

Tipton was hit in the abdomen and taken to the hospital. He was alert and able to talk during the transport, police said according to the Detroit News.

But officials confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that Tipton had died.

Not that unusual. Exsanguination internally; he popped the round into a major vessel or an organ that was heavily vascularized.

Tipton, who had a young daughter, went to get a transmission leak on his vehicle fixed between 9 and 9:30 Tuesday morning, the car dealership’s manager Mark DeMara told the Detroit News.

He was putting his personal belongings inside the bag when the shooting happened, authorities said.

via Zurlon Tipton who played for the Indianapolis Colts, dies after accidentally shooting himself in a car dealership in Michigan | Daily Mail Online.

Holsters, people. Also, one gun in your car and your little ditty bag of personal stuff you don’t trust your car dealer with is plenty.

Tipton has some history with guns, says the Detroit News:

Early Christmas morning Tipton was arrested for firing a gun outside his girlfriend’s home in the Indianapolis area, according to police. The Indianapolis Star reported Tipton was charged with criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon. According to media reports, the prosecutor’s office declined to pursue charges against him.

Tipton told Greenwood police he went to the home after he received threatening texts from his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend stating the woman was going to be harmed. Believing the ex-boyfriend was inside the home, Tipton fired one round from an AR-15 assault weapon, police said.

The Colts put him on waiver last December, although what relation (temporal? Causal? None?) this has with his 2015 gun problem is unknown.


Between writing this and it going live, two young (23-24 years old) knuckleheads in Stoughton, Mass., were playing with several things that ought not to be mixed:

  1. A firearm, to wit a pistol, legally licensed to one of the individuals;
  2. Judgment Juice™, which both of the worthies had consumed in super-therapeutic quantities; and,
  3. Some kind of camera(s) with which they were filming their tomfoolery.

It is our observation that the presence of a camera lowers the IQ of all within range approximately 30%. And the dyscognition produced by ingested ethanol is well known. While private drunkenness is not society’s business, private drunkenness  with firearm escalates the behavior from Mere Stupid, which is the normal operating level for a large part of society, to Felony Stupid.

As you might expect, one drunk pointed the gun at the other drunk, pulling the trigger and expecting a “click.” It gives a new meaning to the term Dead Drunk.

Dead Drunk his ownself is on a mortuary slab, awaiting autopsy, and Dead Drunk’s Buddy is on house arrest with an ankle bracelet, awaiting trial. His license to carry has been revoked and the local cops have divvied up his other guns, if any with one of the two politically connected “bonded warehouses” that scam guns with the help of the police.

Mama Gump used to always say, “Stupid is as stupid does, but not for long if stupid does it with booze and a gun.”

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Set Europe Ablaze

set_europe_ablazeBritish historian Nigel Perrin’s blog, Set Europe Ablazetakes a somewhat opposite approach to this one: instead of generating a lot of posts, he generates few posts, but each one is of superior quality, and of great interest if you are interested in the secret war in Europe 1939-45.

While it’s mostly about the SOE special operations organization — the command, “Set Europe ablaze!” was Churchill’s command to the organization’s first leader — it also includes some information about the separate MI-8 POW escape and evasion network, and (if memory serves us well), the networks of the Secret Intelligence Service. (SIS materials have not been as thoroughly and completely declassified as SOE ones which are a treasure trove in the British National Archives. We suspect this is because of an ongoing concern with the protection of intelligence sources and methods, but we don’t know).

This was a high-stakes war, and the Germans were quite good at it, and utterly ruthless. (Not as good as the equally ruthless Russians, as we’d learn trying to run OSS/SOE tactics against the Soviet Union and Satellite nations postwar). The fate of the Interallié network (which was organized by Polish intelligence officer Roman Czerniawski (Cher-nee-AHFF-ski), is instructive.

Among them were two Polish émigrés, Wladimir de Korczak Lipski and his teenage daughter Lydia, both of whom Czerniawski had personally recruited. For nearly a year they had worked together as a team, collecting details of troop movements, noting the positions of anti-aircraft batteries, running errands, quietly doing whatever was asked of them. Lydia’s passion was for dancing but she also discovered a talent for technical drawing and often copied blueprints of factories and German military installations for Interallié’s regular courier to London; the network codenamed her Cipinka.

On 18 November 1941, Czerniawski was arrested with his mistress, and the collapse of Interallié soon followed. Within hours his deputy, the extraordinary Mathilde Carré, began giving up nearly everyone she knew, and four days later she led the German secret police to the de Lipski’s Montmartre apartment. Not yet seventeen, Lydia would spend the next eighteen months in miserable conditions in La Santé and Fresnes prisons, sometimes in solitary confinement. Smuggling in notes to her, Wladimir tried to keep up her spirits; in one he wrote, “Do not forget that you have great talents, and that one day you can have a beautiful and happy life”. They were reunited briefly at the fortress at Romainville on the outskirts of Paris, but in July 1943 Lydia was deported to Ravensbrück concentration camp. There she spent several months in the punishment block, which regularly supplied human guinea-pigs for medical experiments.

Remarkably, both Lydia and her father, who was deported to KZ Ravensbrück, survived.  In fact, most of the forty agents of Interallié survived. But about that German ruthlessness:

[Czerniawski] and more than fifty of his agents were arrested by the Abwehr. Some agreed to collaborate, but Czerniawski held his nerve and cleverly conned his interrogators into sending him to London as a double agent. There was one condition to his freedom, however: as insurance against any further treachery, Czerniawski’s agents would be held as hostages. If he cooperated, his comrades would be safe. If he decided to change sides again or renege on the deal in any way, they would suffer the consequences.

But once in England Czerniawski did turn again, and as MI5’s agent “Brutus” he became one of the heroes of its double-cross system and a crucial player in the success of the D-Day deception strategy. His MI5 case officers did a tremendous job in fooling Czerniawski’s handlers, and to the end the German High Command’s faith in Brutus’s reports remained unshakeable.

If so, how did the de Lipskis wind up in concentration camps? Write this down: you can’t trust a hostile intelligence officer.  Perrin found out that the Germans were as treacherous as they were skilled:

The Abwehr did not keep its promise.

Shocking, I know. “The Allied services never did something like that!” The hell we didn’t. The concentration camps, no. (Well, Russia as an ally had its own). The medical experiments, no. (USSR? Maybe. But we think Biopreparat used ordinary domestic convicts as its test animals, not politicals). But as far as lying to some agent? If the case officer ever tells the agent the truth, it is only because the truth best serves the officer’s purpose at that time.

Beginning in March 1943, a total of forty of Czerniawski’s agents were packed aboard trucks and deported to concentration camps in Germany; classed as “Nacht und Nebel” (Night and Fog) prisoners – political opponents of the Nazis – they could expect the most brutal treatment and were unlikely ever to see France again.

It may be indicative of the care with which Czerniawski selected his agents for Interallié that a remarkable 33 of the 40 returned to France; but luck was also a factor, when any guard was free to beat a prisoner to death for any or no reason, and capricious disease might kill one, sicken a second, and pass over a third entirely.

A great deal of this sort of research is archived within Perrin’s blog, even if his posts these days tend to be short notes of Resistance obituaries — every one fascinating — or tips to his own book reviews in Times Literary Supplement, which are unfortunately not available except to readers of the dead-tree TLS.

(Editor’s Note: due to an editorial oversight, this post was not delivered on time but was posted approximately 10 hours behind schedule. It has been backdated to fit in where it belongs. We regret the error). 

Craftsmanship, College, and Conceit

California_Institute_of_Technology_Logo-200x200A fascinating story in the Los Angeles Times (of all places) describes what the imminent retirement of 71-year-old Rick Gerhart means to CalTech, the prominent science and engineering school.

CalTech scientists depend on Gerhart’s craft. He is one of the world’s most creative and experienced scientific glass blowers, able to construct and repair the bespoke scientific equipment that you might need if you were doing cutting-edge chemical, chemical-engineering, or biological research.

When he retired the glass-blowing lab might have to close, as the one at Cal State Los Angeles did.

The article explores at length what might happen when Gerhart retires, but it never addresses why the university never hired an apprentice to learn the craft and take it over from him. The question doesn’t seem to have occurred to the reporter, Rosanna Xia.

Here in Caltech’s one-man glass shop, where Gerhart transforms a researcher’s doodles into intricate laboratory equipment, craftsmanship is king. No two pieces of scientific glassware are the same, and for more than two decades, students and Nobel laureates alike have begun each project with Gerhart’s blessing that, yes, he can create the tools to make their experiments possible.

But Gerhart, 71, is retiring, and the search is on to find someone, anyone, who can fill his shoes. In a cost-cutting world of machines and assembly plants, few glass blowers remain with the level of mastery needed at research hubs like Caltech.

“He’s a somewhat dying breed,” said Sarah Reisman, who relied on Gerhart to create 20 maze-like contraptions for her synthetic organic chemistry lab. “There just aren’t as many scientific glass blowers anymore, and certainly not ones that have Rick’s level of experience. Even a fraction of that experience, I think, just isn’t out there.”

There just aren’t as many scientific glassblowers anymore, and certainly not ones that have Rick’s level of experience.
— Sarah Reisman, professor of chemistry

Rick Gerhart, scientific glass blower at Caltech, has been helping to make scientific research possible at the campus since 1992. Gerhart plans to retire, and the school is searching for someone to take his place.

Full-time university glass blowers are considered tops in their field, but few institutions still offer such positions or give young glass blowers the chance to hone their craft. When Cal State L.A.’s longtime glass blower retired last year, the shop which he had run for 30 years closed down. Similar fates have befallen glass blowing at UCLA and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. At UC Riverside, which once had three full-time glass blowers and two glass shops, a glass blower now comes in one day a week.

USC is the only other university in the L.A. area that still has a full-time glass blower, Gerhart said. Across the U.S., those who land such jobs tend to stay until retirement.

“So now, to take my place” — Gerhart paused, spinning through his mental Rolodex. He chuckled: “Looks like we have to steal somebody.”

To master scientific glass blowing, proper training and apprenticeships are key. Only one school in the nation, Salem Community College in New Jersey, offers a degree program.

In addition to the hands-on training, which requires a knack for precision as well as coordination, students must take courses in organic chemistry, math and computer drawing.

“You need to know enough about everything, about mechanics, about chemistry, about physics, about thermodynamics — whatever a chemist can come up with, you need to know just a little bit to get that chemist through,” said Dennis Briening, instructional chair of Salem’s two-year program. “And of course, you need to be very skilled, technique-wise. So it really takes a long time to get to a position like Rick’s.”

Gerhart enrolled in the Salem program in 1965, after dropping out of college to give his father’s profession a try.

It was the heyday of scientific glass blowing. The craft, which dates back to alchemy in the 2nd century, took hold in America by the 1930s and 1940s, after World War I cut off glassware supply from Germany. Glass — Pyrex and quartz in particular — remains popular because it can withstand high heat, reacts with very few elements and is transparent, allowing researchers to observe chemical processes.

The profession peaked after World War II, when booms in oil and government-funded research opened up numerous glass blowing jobs in many a lab. Scientific glass blowers didn’t only make research equipment, they created glass parts for such inventions as the laser printer.

At first, Gerhart hopped around a number of firms and worked alongside more experienced glass blowers at TRW Inc. and UCLA.

When he settled at Caltech in 1992, the glass blower before him handed over the key to the shop and said, “Good luck.” On his own, Gerhart pieced together his patchwork of experience to twist and fuse glass beakers and snake glass coils over vacuum chambers.

In a production line, a glass blower might make the same product every day, “I was doing something a little different every time,” he said. “That’s when I really started learning.”

These opportunities to learn on the job are now limited, though interest has not waned: This year, Salem Community College graduated 31 glass blowers — for years, the school graduated about 20 each year — and it expects 66 incoming students next school year. Social media videos have sparked new interest in the craft, Briening said.

But while his students have no trouble getting entry-level jobs at companies like Chemglass Life Sciences, a glass manufacturer, and General Electric Global Research, rarely are universities willing to budget the overhead costs for more than one glassblower, if any.

It’s a remarkable and fascinating article, so do go Read The Whole Thing™.

But why didn’t Cal Tech just hire one of the graduates from the only school in the nation to teach this skill, that New Jersey community college, to learn from Gerhart? Xia never tells you, but we will: priorities.

There are hints of it in Xia’s article:

  • “In a cost-cutting world of machines and assembly plants, few glass blowers remain with the level of mastery needed at research hubs like Caltech.”
  • rarely are universities willing to budget the overhead costs for more than one glassblower, if any.”

Yet, only a seasoned craftsman can do what Gerhart does. Gerhart himself was out of Salem’s glass-blowing program for 27 years before landing at Caltech. It would seem like a no-brainer to give him a student to mentor. Except Caltech ought to have done it ten years ago.

So here’s the reason they didn’t:

They didn’t want to. 

It was not a priority. 

So what is a priority?

Diversity. An all-overhead all-the-time Center for Diversity gets resources that Caltech is no longer willing to waste on archaic stuff like making apparatus for its scientists. It’s constantly hiring more and more executives, who are expected to be doctrinaire diversicrats but don’t really have to know anything about the school’s STEM mission: one 2015 job listing for a six-figures salary “Senior Director for Caltech Center for Diversity” put “an ongoing interest in science and knowledge about many of the scientific and technical topics that are regularly covered at Caltech” into the “nice to have,” but not necessary, “preferred qualifications” bin.

The depredations of the diversicrats are one reason the Foundation For Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) rates Caltech “yellow.” The free-speech-promoting nonprofit identifies three Caltech policies that “that too easily encourage administrative abuse and arbitrary application.”(It could be worse, though. Back in 2009, the speech codes, etc., were so extreme the university was rated “red.”)

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Pussies

attack vicious catCats, of course. What did you think we meant? A couple of dotty old Wisconsinites called 911 to report that they were bring held captive by .. their own moggy.

“This is gonna sound like a strange question,” the lady told the dispatcher. (That phrase is usually the dispatcher’s green light to relax: whatever’s being called in, it’s not murder, mayhem or mopery with intent to lurk). Yep, it’s a strange question.

A Greenfield, Wisconsin couple apparently thought only the police could rescue them from a hostage situation.

Except the hostage taker wasn’t an armed robber, but rather the family feline.

“This is gonna sound like a strange question but we have a cat and it’s going crazy and it attacked my husband and we’re kind of hostage in our house and we’re just wondering who we should call to do something, get rid of the cat or help us,” the woman told the 911 operator, CBS 58 reports.

via AUDIO: Woman calls 911 to report she’s being held hostage – by her cat – The American MirrorThe American Mirror.

Funny thing — the story doesn’t make it clear who did it, but the CBS 58 story they linked to drops into the passive voice to say:

The cat was captured and turned over to MADACC. No one was seriously hurt.

Maybe the Salem Puritans were on to something with their whole cats=witchcraft thing.

OSS Simple Sabotage Mini-Manual

FOOM!We think we’ve covered this booklet before. If we have, it wasn’t recently, and it deserves to be plugged again.

This is the Simple Sabotage Field Manual of the OSS. (PDF hosted at It is not a guidebook in blowing up castles or dynamiting the Hoover Dam (good luck with that). Instead, it’s hints towards executing the sort of resistance that exists in the uncertain grey spaces between active resistance and simple dumb insolence. It’s less FOOM actually, and more lapping compound in the oil filler. It doesn’t make you Rambo, but it can make you Good Soldier Schweik.

Here’s what we’re talking about:

Sabotage varies from highly technical coup de main acts that require detailed planning and the use of specially trained operatives, to innumerable simple acts which the ordinary individual citizen-saboteur can perform. This paper is primarily concerned with the latter type. Simple sabotage does not require specially prepared tools or equipment; it is executed by an ordinary citizen who may or may not act individually and without the necessity for active connection with an organized group; and it is carried out in such a way as to involve a minimum danger of injury, detection, and reprisal.

Where destruction is involved, the weapons of the’ citizen-saboteur are salt, nails, candles, pebbles, thread, or any other materials he might normally be expected to possess as a householder or as a worker in his particular occupation. His arsenal is the kitchen shelf, the trashpile, his own usual kit of tools and supplies. The targets of his sabotage are usually objects to which he has normal and inconspicuous access in everyday life.

The unnamed author of the manual goes on to suggest something akin to Good Soldier Schweik’s legendary passive resistance. The Austrian officers bedeviled by Schweik (a fictional character) never quite could pin him down as a resister; instead, they took him for an idiot.

There are numerous good suggestions and concepts here, including, “Try to commit acts for which large numbers of people could be responsible,” and:

Do not be afraid to commit acts for which you might be blamed directly, so long as you do so rarely, and as long as you have a plausible excuse: you dropped your wrench across an electric circuit because an air raid had kept you up the night before and you were halt-dozing at work. Always be profuse in your apologies. Frequently you can “get away” with such acts under the cover of pretending stupidity, Ignorance, over-caution, fear of being suspected of sabotage, or weakness and dullness due to undernourishment.

Note that those last few suggestions carry a second sabotage, a propagandistic one, in the response to the accusation. In effect, the saboteur is playing chess a couple of moves ahead. This only works where there’s some restraint on the CI forces, of course, but note that it worked against Nazis and, in some places, against Communists, both noted for their ruthlessness.

We may be needing this information. Don’t rely on the CIA to keep it available forever; save a copy locally, or better yet, print one out.

The 5.7 OG, Video Follow-Up

Here’s an NRA “I have this old gun” video on the Johnson Spitfire, with all the usual suspects (Phil Schreier, Martin K.A. Morgan, Mark A. Keefe IV, etc.) and a little of the history we discussed yesterday. There are also some clear pictures of the folding stock variant.

“Yes, it’s a footnote to the history of the M1 Carbine,” says Morgan. “But it’s a darn interesting footnote!” We agree.

He Forgot How the Sun Felt on his Skin

Islamic terrorists held a son of a Pakistani politician for years, shuffling him around both sides of the Durand Line until a tip brought a combined US-Afghan SOF raid down on their heads.

Now, Ali Haider Gilani is at home with his family. The guys who were holding him are dead and buried. The guys who rescued him? Gone without a trace.

Who were those masked men?

Ali Haider Gilani was abducted three years ago in a hail of bullets, but was rescued in May during a counter-terrorism mission in eastern Afghanistan.

Gilani has now revealed details about the conditions he was kept in, explaining that he was chained-up and didn’t see sunlight for over a year.

He told the BBC: ‘I was chained for two years.

‘I was kept in a small room, not allowed to see the sky for one year and two months. I forgot how the sun felt on my skin.’

Gilani said that jotting down thoughts in a diary kept him sane and that he ‘prayed a lot’ and often thought of his son, Mohamed Jamaluddin. He was a toddler at the time of the kidnapping.

That’s a pretty useful survival technique, actually. Anything to keep the mind active and engaged, but a diary shouldn’t contain anything too revealing, considering the probability of it being exposed to one’s captors.

The capture was pretty standard for an Islamist snatch job. If they had met more opposition, they’d have fallen back on Plan B and assassinated Gilani instead.

Gilani, the son of son of Yousaf Raza Gilani, was kidnapped by militants in the outskirts of Multan on May 9, 2013, just two days before a bitterly contested national election in which he was campaigning.

Gunmen on a motorbike opened fire before abducting him in a black Honda car. His secretary and a bodyguard were killed, and four people wounded.

His kidnappers told him, he revealed in the interview, that he had been captured in revenge for his father overseeing an anti-Al-Qaeda operation in South Waziristan.

We tie ourselves in knots trying to parse out the different Islamist groups. This is one of many examples of how several of  them interoperate freely.

Then, once he was captured, the shadow war of the intelligence officers begins. Can our penetrations into the TTP, Taliban, HIG, or al-Qaeda bear fruit, before their penetrations of ISI, NDS, and US intelligence services betray our plans?

He was moved at first to Faisalabad in Punjab province, then to tribal North Waziristan.

He described this area as a ‘war zone’ that was constantly being targeted by drone strikes. He said he feared for his life.

Worried that their prize might be killed, Al-Qaeda eventually handed Gilani over to the Pakistan Taliban, who treated him more humanely, allowing him to walk around and see sunlight – and on one occasion listen to a cricket match on the radio.

Round 1 looks like it went to the Home Team, that is, the enemy:

After moving him to avoid a drone strike they’d been tipped off about…

But Round 2 went to the Away team:

… his terrorist captors were targeted by a joint assault by US Special Forces and Afghan commandos.

During the raid, in which four gunmen were killed, Gilani was identified and brought home.

He said that ‘it didn’t sink in until he was in the helicopter’.

That, too, is pretty normal. After a long time in captivity, hostages get used to it, even if their captors are sufficiently brutish as to prevent the emergence of Stockholm Syndrome in the captives.

That’s why part of HR is actually restraining the hostages, at least until you can be certain you have separated the sheep from the goats.