Sunday morning music, for the centenary of Armistice Day

One hundred years ago today, “on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918, fighting ended in the First World War with the implementation of an armistice.  Since then, 11th November has been celebrated all over the world, particularly in Britain and her former colonies, as Armistice Day.  The full peace treaty took many months more to negotiate, but at least the killing was over. It was one of the very worst, most destructive, and most pointless wars in the history of the world.  Untold millions died, or were maimed, or were hurt, yet their sacrifice

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Practical measurements of defensive ammo effectiveness

A police officer’s recommendation for self-defense against an attacker hopped-up on the latest generation of synthetic marijuana generated some discussion.  I was struck by how many of the comments ignored the point of the police officer’s advice, which was: … typical deep-concealment (i.e. small, lightweight) pocket revolvers and pistols are simply not adequate to deal with people under the influence of this stuff.  His personal opinion was that .32 ACP, .380 ACP, .38 Special, and even 9mm. Luger or .357 Magnum rounds,if fired from smaller weapons whose barrels aren’t sufficiently long to give high velocity and promote bullet expansion, are not going to get

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Hiding MSG

I heard from a friend yesterday.  She was extremely angry because her young child has what appear to be allergic reactions to MSG – monosodium glutamate.  She bought and served some food that did not list MSG as an ingredient under that name, but used another term she didn’t recognize.  As a result, her child became quite ill, and needed urgent medical treatment to deal with the symptoms. There’s a lot of disagreement about whether there is such a thing as an allergy to MSG.  Medical science largely says there isn’t.  However, MSG can produce certain reactions that may be mislabeled an “allergy”, particularly

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The Whitey Bulger murder: looking bad for the Bureau of Prisons

I’m sure readers are aware of the murder of 89-year-old convict Whitey Bulger at a Federal high-security penitentiary in West Virginia.  That was bad enough, and his death has highlighted some serious errors in the way the prison handled his admission.  (You’ll recall that I was a chaplain at a Federal high-security penitentiary, and know how these things should be done.  From what I’ve read, they were not handled correctly at all.) Now comes new information that – if true – makes the Bureau of Prisons look even more guilty of serious errors in handling the late Mr. Bulger. Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger’s medical classification was suddenly and

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Close-range air-to-air footage of the Sukhoi Su-57

Russia’s attempt to produce a fifth-generation fighter, the Sukhoi Su-57, has apparently not been too successful in technical terms;  the aircraft is reputedly not nearly as “stealthy” as it needs to be when measured against the US F-22 Raptor.  Also, Russia has announced that it won’t put the aircraft into mass production, probably because it can’t afford it in large numbers.  Nevertheless, it’s probably a pretty capable “Generation 4½” fighter, and a dozen will be built for the Russian Air Force. Recently an air-to-air photo shoot was held for the Su-57.  An Antonov An-12transport (similar to the US C-130 Hercules) was the camera plane.  It

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SNAFU is right: we’re not winning, and we can’t win by doing it the same old way yet again

Solomon, a former Marine writing at his SNAFU blog, posits that the current counter-insurgency strategy, tactics and training of the US armed forces is fatally flawed. This is about our wars in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, the Philippines and other places I don’t know about. It ain’t working. We’re wasting lives and money.  Don’t get it twisted.  Anyone that dons the uniform to carry out the policy of the United States IS NOT wasting his life. But leadership pursuing a failed policy CAN!!! It should be beyond obvious to anyone watching this thing that Afghanistan is spiraling out of control.  We’re looking at

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Sobering thoughts on self-defense firearms from a Minnesota cop

I have a friend who’s a police officer in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area of Minnesota.  He’s got more than twenty years service, and is looking forward to retiring soon.  He’s had a lot of “street” and “hands-on” experience, and knows whereof he speaks.  I’ll call him Mike for the purposes of this discussion (not his real name). Mike got in touch a few days ago.  After the usual pleasantries between friends, he got down to business.  He said that the current crop of synthetic marijuana, sometimes known as “spice” (and by up to 700 other street names), is producing some truly

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The tenuously United States of America

Yesterday’s mid-term elections have highlighted one factor in particular:  the fact that the United States are only barely united, with many influences dividing her people.  A big part of that divide is urban versus rural;  people in the latter areas appear to be far more conservative and “traditional” than those in the former.  Since cities are growing at the expense of smaller towns and the countryside, that divide is going to favor them to an ever-increasing extent . . . but what about the rest of the country?  Can urban voters override rural ones, and expect to get away with

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