Sunday, 11 October 2009

More than Just a Gun

There's a story over at Fox.....concerning the failure of rifles in Afghanistan with US troops. The attack from last week....had a number of guys complaining about weapon failure. Guys simply reached a point where they tossed down their weapon and went looking for another.

Most of this complaining has to do with the M4....the mini version of sorts of the M-16. The basic complaints laid out so far.....the gun started overheating and jamming. We aren't talking about one weapon or just a couple....but a significant number of weapons.

The leadership is still in a huddle and discussing what happened and if this is something of a serious nature. You can imagine yourself...Private Snuffy....a year in the Army....and in the midst of a mighty big gunfight, your weapon jammed. You ended up with another weapon.....from some guy down on the ground wounded....and it fails. Then you end up with you pistol....shooting one round at a time. The fight is over...but your trust in the weapon is now zero. You want something else...ASAP.

Most of this leaked report.....circles around weapons which were put on full automatic....which expends hundreds of rounds a minute. Most guys tend to be single-shooter types or they settle for the three-round blast option. But when you get into a serious firefight, and overwhelming bullets coming your way....you probably will put your weapon on full-automatic and just blast every round.

I'm going to imagine that some serious thinking will occur this week....and something radical occurs with the use of weapons in Afghanistan.

The thing is.....guys can be volunteers for serious combat duty, but they tend to want a fighting chance to survive. They want weapons that deliver. They don't like risks. They don't want to carry a weapon around that you barely get fifty rounds out and it jams.

Another Success or Another Failure?

Basically....Mike Luckovich's cartoon is absolutely correct. Half the US population is waiting each evening for the next announced "pause" or "failure"....and call their neighbor to discuss this for an hour.

It was an hour that they could have spent painting the barn, mowing the backyard, or washing the dog.

Somehow, this is now an American pastime.

But then the other half of America is waiting each evening for each success, and then calling their friends for an hour to discuss this one brief moment of success.

They could have planted a walnut tree in that hour, waxed the car, or perhaps discussed the importance of good hygiene with their 13-year old son Ernie.

We are obsessing a bit. We are pausing and waiting minute-by-minute....for success or failure from some guy that we personally don't know. In 1974....you might have spent a total of forty-five minutes over the entire year....discussing the President. We painted a heck of alot of garages. We put forty or fifty trees out in the back lot behind the house. We made sure that Ernie was bathing each day and changing his underwear. We even waxed the car twelve times over the entire year.

Somewhere...in the past two decades....we've lost our way.

This David Letterman Crap

Normally, I'd let this whole thing pass and just avoid any commentary. But, I have this analysis....that I'd like to dump.

So put aside whoever David Letterman is and his episode of this past ten days. What you have is some married guy....who openly had numerous women as his "hunk of love". He had a place up in the office for these thrilling moments and enjoyed various pleasures which we won't even mention here. So he has this thing going on with some gal who has a boyfriend who is a "24" producer.

One day, Dave gets into his car and finds a brief script idea on the seat....describing how some big comedian who is married has some affair with some employee. It's suggested that the price on the script was two million. Dave went to the cops....they advised him....and then rigged up this meeting with the "24" guy. Dave presents him a check for $2 million, and then the cops arrest him.

Dave then goes public and admits everything. Then Dave finds that his wife really isn't very pleased. She wants Dave to give a second more intense apology....without much humor. Dave gives it....with a bit of humor. I'm guessing she isn't happy.

So ask yourself this.....what idiot does a blackmail scheme....for a check? Every single blackmail case always ends up with cash involved. No one takes checks. You'd have to cash it....and then pay taxes on the money (you're basically admitting real income to the IRS).

So this episode doesn't make alot of sense. As for Dave and his wife? I'm suspecting that she's packed up this weekend and spending it with a friend...and a lawyer. Within two weeks....I suspect that she will come out and ask for a divorce. She takes half of Dave's money....and walks away.

The case on the "24" guy? Well....what was said and what was the implication? If Dave bought a script for a stupid movie idea.....then this whole arrest thing will fall apart. I'm thinking Dave and the cops might have misunderstood something in this deal....and the guy might walk free if this was all about a script and not a blackmail.

I kinda like Dave Letterman, but this episode....is comical within itself. And I don't think we've seen anything of the end yet.

Once Upon a Time in America


This week, I got into a conversation with someone over a historical trend in America. Somewhere in the 1950s....as the interstate program began to make travel across the nation a simple task....folks actually packed up the car and drove 2,000 miles for a summer vacation. Today, no one would dare drive 2,000 for a summer vacation. There in....lies the conversation.

I can remember around 1969 when a teacher in my small podunk school in Bama.....and her husband who was the principal....packed up the family car on the last day of school and proceed to spend the next seven weeks traveling across America. They went from Bama to the west coast and then up to Canada, and back to Bama. When they returned, they put a few pictures up and we kids all admired this "adventure".

Years ago, I worked with a older guy who ended up in the mid-60s going with the his family on one of these trips from Ohio to Washington state. This was in July....with no air conditioning. This was in a station wagon with only basic suspension. This was when you didn't have fancy resturants along the interstate like you have today. This two-week trip gave him some vast view of America and an appreciation for distance. Until you've actually traveled a thousand miles....you really can't describe it.

There was some trend...probably in the 1980s as air fares decreased....that long-distance travel by car started to disappear. Most folks are willing to travel for eight hours for a trip....but that barely equals 600 miles. No one out there today can envision a Charleston to Seattle trip. No wife would readily go along with this. Most kids over twelve would absolutely veto such a trip. So it's a thing that guys mostly dream of.

Whenever I pick up an atlas....I have that momentary feeling of such a trip. In November 1981, I took a fourteen day trip from Louisiana to southern California, then onto Seattle, and then back to Louisiana. I traveled it by myself. Call it a quest or just a oddball thing....but it was something that I needed to accomplish.

There are three things you learn from such a trip. First, at the end of the second day....you have this feeling that driving is awful boring. So when the Texas state banjo meseum happens to pop up near a interstate....you pull off and admire their banjos. Second, breakfast starts to become the best meal of the day and you look for a place that can serve lots of greasy bacon and eggs. Third, this country is way bigger than one's imagination can ever dream of.

How many people make a 3,000 mile summer vacation today? That would be a curious question to ask. From the state of Bama....I'd guess less than twenty. None of them will make the Bama to Maine trip (what idiot would even suggest that).....most will do the Bama to Alaska episode or the Bama to California trip.

There ought to be a web site with menu screens where a guy could pull down his ultimate drive end-point...and get the whole plan laid out in eight minutes. The Bama to Milwaukee beer trip. The Bama to Mount Rushmore trip. The Bama to Provo "edge of hell" trip. The Bama to Alaska mother-of-all-journies trip. The Bama to Death Valley 'you're-in-hell' trip. Heck, we could even toss in the Bama to Hollywood trip for those with aspirations.

So it's a fantasy of sorts. Most of us won't do it. Some of us will dream of it once a week...mostly while driving to work. And those who do make the decision and actually do it....come back and just smile for weeks.