When it comes to stating and defending their points under fire, American politicians are pansies.

British parliamentarians?  They are like the Mike Ditkas of political speech.

And here’s one, courtesy of Margaret Thatcher, that I would love to see some Minnesota Republican, some how, some way, exhume and use in the coming session.

Because it applies to us, here and now.


Over the weekend, I heard NPR intoning with worried voice that ISIS was working on getting some captured Syrian jet fighters operational.

This, the worried NPR reporters told us, would be a worrisome development in the developing war in the Levant. 

A Syrian Air Force MIG-21. 

And I thought “well, maybe to NPR reporters.  But I have a hunch I know one crowd who’d just loooooooove it if ISIS were to cough up a plane or two”:

“I’d sell my first born to engage all three… by myself,” one highly experienced U.S. Marine Corps fighter pilot joked. Another Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle pilot said, “Send me in, coach! There’s no way they get those airborne!”

A Syrian MIG-23.  During the skirmishes with Israel over the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon in 1981, several Syrian Mig-23 pilots ejected from their planes the moment they saw that Israeli F-4s’ air-to-air radar had locked onto them. 

Western, non-Israeli fighter pilots haven’t had any air-to-air combat since the first Gulf War, 20-odd years ago – and even that was rare.   The Iraqi air force largely buried itself in the sand (not making that up) or flew to…Syria and Iran in 2003. 

The ISIS “air force” apparently has two MIG-21s – infamous dogfighters in Vietnam, which led to the design of the F-16, forty years ago - and a single MIG-23, a Cold-War-era mainstay of the Soviet air force. 

Both were designed in an era where either planes were fighters, or bombers – not both:

“We’re not talking about aircraft that are extremely effective at delivering ordinance both in terms of equipment and training,” said one U.S. Air Force official. “It’s simply not worth it beyond an easily discreditable propaganda ploy.”

The MiG-21 does not carry a huge amount of weaponry and was originally designed to fight other aircraft. Meanwhile, the MiG-23 is a much bigger and more complex jet that requires a professional pilot to operate properly.

Oh, make no mistake – they both require professional pilots.  If not to fly them, then to survive in combat long enough to say they were in combat. 

There are a fighter pilot or two among the regular commentariat here at SITD.  I’ll invite their feedback…

Weekend Firearm Fun!

When making your weekend plans, remember – the second ”MN Carry Day and Safety Education Expo” is this Saturday,Saturday, Oct. 18. at St. Paul Harley Davidson, St. Paul

The event is free to attend, and family friendly. And it’s not just for gun owners – the event will cover a wide range of personal safety information.

And there’s a gun give-away, sponosred by Taurus USA, among many others.

And Uncle Franky’s mobile food truck will be on site all day!

Want more details? Go here!

And mark your calendars!

Gun Rights: Two Events!

When out and about this weekend, there are two important gun safety and personal defense events coming up over the next couple of weekends. 

The “MN Carry Day and Safety Education Expo” will be coming up as follows:

  • Saturday, Oct. 11 and  Zylstra Harley Davidson, Elk River
  • Saturday, Oct. 18.St. Paul Harley Davidson, St. Paul

The events are free to attend, and family friendly.  And they’re not just for gun owners – the events will cover a wide range of personal safety information.

And they’ll be giving away two handguns donated by Taurus USA, among many other give-aways. Uncle Franky’s mobile food truck will be on site all day at both events.

Want more details?  Go here!

And mark your calendars!

Because I’m Here To Solve Problems

Police departments – at least, some that Mother Jones talked with – are ostensibly trying to get rid of surplus military gear:

Even before police militarization made the news, hundreds of police departments were finding that grenade launchers, military firearms, and armored vehicles aren’t very useful to community policing. When Chelan County police officers requested one armored car in 2000—the request that landed them three tanks—they pictured a vehicle that could withstand bullets, not land mines. Law enforcement agencies across the country have quietly returned more than 6,000 unwanted or unusable items to the Pentagon in the last 10 years, according to Defense Department data provided to Mother Jones by a spokeswoman for Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who has spearheaded a Senate investigation of the Pentagon program that is arming local police. Thousands more unwanted items have been transferred to other police departments.

The catch?  The Pentagon doesn’t really want it all back.  It’s cheaper to let local cops maintain it than to keep it in Federal storage.

Which is vexing some cops:

In reality, however, police departments may find the returns process slow, mystifying, or nonfunctional. Online law enforcement message boards brim with complaints that the Pentagon refuses to take back unwanted guns and vehicles—like this one, about a pair of M14 rifles that have survived attempts by two sheriffs to get rid of them.

I’ve got an obvious answer – one that’ll make cops, the Pentagon and citizens (the right ones, anyway) happy: sell it to private citizens.  Or at least the private citizens that pass the same background check that qualifies them for a state carry permit.  It’ll save government money, and make the country safer by making Real Americans better-armed.

Facetious?   Halfway.  A fair chunk of this equipment could, and should by all rights, be going into the “Civilian Marksmanship Program”.  But Barack Obama has been sandbagging the CMP for the past six years – which is why the price of surplus M-1 Garand rifles (from WW2 and the Korean War) is so very high these days.

But I digress.

And I’m about to digress some more; it’d seem we have some real powderpuffs in uniform (empasis added):

[Hillsborough NC police lieutenant Davis] Trimmer has twice requested permission to return three M14 rifles that are too heavy for practical use.

“Too heavy for practical use?”  They weight eight pounds.  Our troops lugged them all over Vietnam, for crying out loud.

Maybe the lieutenant was referring to carrying all three of them together?

Turn them over to me, if that’d help…

In Today’s Literary And Marketing News…

I thought I’d pass the word; at some point in the near future (likely in time for Christmas), “Trulbert:  A Comic Novella About The End Of The World As We Know It” will hit the virtual shelves.   I’m going to publish it as an e-book.

And while it will be substantially similar to the serial I’ve been doing for the past few months, there will be many updates (above and beyond the usual rewrite) and a whole lot of new, book-only material. 

Pass the word, and stay tuned!

For The Love Of God, Please Make It Stop

Back in high school typing class, we learned – to the point of incorporating it into muscle memory, so we never actually thought about it – to type two spaces after a period.

Every time.

Sentences have endings.  When I put an ending on a sentence, I type two spaces.  It’s that simple.  I don’t even think about it.  Except now, naturally.

Now, in about 35 years of typing, I can’t say that I’ve ever thought twice about it – with one exception.  Back when I worked as a technical writer, I noticed that most word processing and Desktop Publishing software automatically replaced my traditional double-space after a period with a single space.

A single, extra-wide space.  To highlight the end of the sentence.  Sort of like we did on typewriters, only better.

Oh, yeah -and now.  For the past year or two, it’s hard to go more than a few weeks without some major publication writing an article about how typing two spaces after a period is “completely, inarguably wrong“.

This time, it’s Farhad Manjoo:

You’d expect, for instance, that anyone savvy enough to read Slate would know the proper rules of typing, [Hah!  - Ed.] but you’d be wrong; every third email I get from readers includes the two-space error. (In editing letters for “Dear Farhad,” my occasional tech-advice column, I’ve removed enough extra spaces to fill my forthcoming volume of melancholy epic poetry, The Emptiness Within.) The public relations profession is similarly ignorant; I’ve received press releases and correspondence from the biggest companies in the world that are riddled with extra spaces.

Might I suggest purchasing one of the many fine apps that handle the typography for you…

…and getting a hobby?

And never, ever writing about this subject again?

Firing Blind

A much-better-than-you’d expect piece from the BBC on shooters who happen to be blind.

Upside:  some great interviews with blind shooters, some of whom are startlingly accomplished with firearms.

No, I’m not making that up.

Downside:  while journos do usually try to find a counterpoint on any story, the best the Beeb could come up with was Stevie Wonder, who  apparently thinks the idea of blind people with guns is crazy.   And if you can afford as many bodyguards as Wonder can (assuming he needs them), he could be forgiven the assumption.

I used to produce a show for Don Vogel, a blind guy who hosted a talk show at KSTP in the eighties.  After beating him in “Horse” by “HOR” to “HORSE”, I suggested a trip to the range.  He was interested, but we could never quite pull it together. 

Anyway – the article is worth a read!

Hot Gear Friday: The Dream Is Always The Same

A Ford GT40 – one of the dream sports cars of the ’60s and ’70s – found in junk-filled garage:

From the article:

This isn’t just any Ford GT40, either. This is chassis No. 1067, and while it appears to lack the racing pedigree of some other GTs, it is among the rarest. The World Registry of Cobras & GT40s says it is just one of three GT40 MkI cars to come with the MkII’s rear clamshell, and of those three, it is the only survivor. Furthermore, it was the last GT40 to be produced in 1966 and was the last GT40 to use a Ford serial number—all subsequent GT40s wore the serial numbers of J.W. Automotive Engineering.

But that’s not all. 

On the door? Salt Walther – a race car driver from the sixties and seventies renowned for having less success than almost any other driver of some of the best, hottest cars around (including the GT40), and survivor of one of the most spectacular Indy car crashes of all time:

And that goes back far enough to trip the trivia meter on my very, very, very brief infatuation with racing, back in 4th-7th grade.

But enough of that. Let’s check out the car again:

Ah. Much better.

You’re Invited!

It seems like just yesterday Katie Kieffer and her friends were vexing the management at Saint Thomas with all sorts of conservative hijinx – like publishing a conservative newspaper on the famously liberal campus, and booking an appearance by Ann Coulter over the fervid phumphering of college president Dennis “Havana Denny” Dease.

Katie’s on to bigger and better things, now; her first book, Let Me Be Clear, is coming out next month.   We talked about it on the show last Saturday; it’s Katie’s view of the world facing Millennials, and what to do about it.

She’s holding a pre-launch party; it’s on Wednesday, June 4th from 6-8:30 pm. at Casper’s Cherokee in Eagan (just off Cliff at Nichols).  And unlike some big-buck K Street soirée, yoiu’re invited…

…or, actually, technically, you have the ability to invite yourself!

Sue Jeffers, Ed Morrissey and I will be there.  Hope you can be too!

Hot Gear Friday: The Steyr AUG

It’s that gun. The weird one that looks like some propmaster built it.

You know the one. That one.

That weird, space-age-looking thing that “Karl”, the cyborg-y looking “terrorist”/thief (Alexander Godunov) in Die Hard, all uncustomary lines and strange curves and fussy, funky handgrips…:


…that blazed away at John McClain on the roof of the Nakitome Building.

Or the one The Governor used to rub out his voter base in The Walking Dead…


…all foreign and threatening-looking (moreso than regular assault rifles, even).

It’s the Steyr AUG (Armee Universal Gewehr, or “Universal Army Rifle”) – and its’ even more space-age than it appears in the movies.

Developed in the seventies by Steyr-Mannlicher Arms in Austria, the AUG was an attempt to build one gun to fit just about every need an army has for firearms below the company level.

By simply changing out the barrel, the bolt and bolt carrier, and the magazines, a single AUG can switch between being a squad support light machine gun, an infantry rifle, a short carbine, or (with pistol-caliber components) a submachine gun.


It’s not just a space-age toy and movie prop, of course; it’s the issue rifle of the Austrian, Australian, New Zealand, Irish, Argentinean, Saudi and several other armies – as well as the main battle rifle of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement service, keeping America safe from the invasion of contraband duty-free booze or whatever the hell ICE does other than watch the border.

The biggest thing to get used to is that it’s a “bullpup” – the magazine is mounted behind the trigger and pistol grip. Which means that when you’re shooting it, the chamber is right next to your cheek.

Not to say that I thought much about it when I finally got a chance to shoot one, at the Bill’s Gun Range “Shooter Show” last month; the adrenaline of getting to bust off a few caps with an AUG took my mind off the fact that there was an explosion with 40,000 PSI of pressure going off inches from my head, not 6-12 inches in front of me like a regular assault rifle.

I didn’t think about that ’til afterward.

Three things I did think as I shot it?

Hot Hot Hot: During shooting? That little folding vertical foregrip is a nifty feature for holding the gun on target in rapid fire (I shot a semi-automatic version) – but you’ll notice that it leaves nothing between your off-hand and the barrel.

Which gets very very hot after 100 rounds or so!


My friend from high school, Mark, shooting an AUG at Bill’s last month.

High And Tight: The bullpup configuration makes it a very compact piece – which means your stance is a lot more closed than with a conventional rifle, even a small one like an M4-pattern carbine. That makes shooting it feel more…up close and personal?

Tactical:  It was the first time I’d ever personally fired a gun with a modern tactical scope – which is an important accessory on a piece with such a very, very short sighting radius.  Not great for precision point-shooting (there are other scopes for that); excellent for putting lead into paper in a big hurry.  I can see what the fuss is about.  C’mon, tax refund time.

Hypothetically, at least. 

How to describe it?  There is no way not to feel like a paper-shredding animal shooting the AUG.

Tech We Can Use

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Dear Apple,

I need a mood-sensing iPod to play only songs that fit my mood; otherwise, I must click to skip songs that don’t fit my mood and that annoys me, which puts me in a bad mood. For example:

Doctor My Eyes

Doctor Wu

Does Anybody Know What Time It Is (Chicago Transit Authority album long version)

Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina (Patti LuPone version)


Don’t Cry for Me, Eileen

should Not be followed by Helen Reddy scolding me “Don’t Cry Out Loud.” Steve Jobs would have understood this. Get on it, please.

Joe Doakes

All I know is come tax time, my MP3 player ran “Money Changes Everything”, “Gimme Some Money” and “Money (That’s What I Want)” back to back.

The Client Is Obviously Guilty

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

An Old White Guy is married but has a much-younger mistress. He’s rich enough to give her a condo and Bentley and fool enough to think he can order her around. He told her he doesn’t mind her cheating on him: she can sleep with her other lovers, just don’t embarrass him by posting pictures of those other lovers online or bringing them to LA Clippers basketball games because his Old-White-Guy buddies tease him about it. His wife found out and is suing the gold-digging mistress to get the stuff back. So the mistress secretly taped the old guy and released the tape to the gossip sites to gain advantage in the litigation. So far, sounds pretty normal for Hollywood, right?

Oh, did I mention the mistress is Black? And the Old White Guy owns the basketball team?

The media is ablaze with news that racism has been found in America. The league is investigating. Al Sharpton will lead a rally. The players wore black armbands while they lost the game. Even President Obama – halfway around the world – felt the need to comment. Everyone is outraged that America is such a horribly racist place.

Except . . . it’s pretty weak beer. The guy is 80 years old, a relic from two generations ago. He was having a private conversation with his mistress, asking her not to cuckold him in public, which seems a reasonable request from a Sugar Daddy to a Gold-digger. He has owned the team for 20 years and has never been accused of racism before. In fact, the NAACP was all set to give him a Lifetime Achievement Award in two weeks, which means he must have been doing all the right things in race relations up until this point. He’s a private citizen, not a US Senator and Kleagle in the Ku Klux Klan. Okay, yes, he has unfashionable opinions; but he’s not exactly representative of mainstream America today.

The whole thing reminds me of Oprah claiming to be discriminated against while she was shopping in Switzerland, just in time to promote her new movie. If these Extortion-by-Race incidents are the best examples of racism to be found today, then we can pretty well conclude that actual racism in America is dead and gone.

Joe Doakes

whatever Sterling’s views – and everything I’ve read so far strikes me as he’s the kind of casual, not especially ideological racist that a lot of people were in that generation, even if you leave out the whole “sugar daddy/Golddigger” thing – he’s basically this year’s Trayvon Martin; a bone to be chewed in yet another Democrat “base turnout” campaign.

Attention, World

To:  The English-Speaking World
From: Mitch Berg, Angry Language Purist
Re:  Lunchtime Frenzy of Anger

Dear World:


It’s pronounced “Sha-POTE-lay”.

Not “Sha-POLE-tay”.

See to this at once or suffer the consequences.  Flaming, shrapnel-laden consequences.

That is all.

Hot Gear Friday: The M1928/M1 Thompson

It’s high time I reprised “Hot Gear Friday” – the feature wherein I write about…well, hot gear.

As a general rule, the “gear” is either musical instruments or firearms.  Johnny Roosh used to do other stuff – razors, motorcycles, the like – but i’m more narrowly focused.  Also, guns and music gear are about the only hot gear I ever deal with.

The other rule was, the “hot gear” I feature was stuff I’d actually used, played, fired, or even been in the same room as.  Which narrows things waaaa-aaaaaay-hey down.  I’ve led a fairly boring life, in terms of toys I’ve gotten to play with.

But things have been moving slowly forward in recent months.  And so it’s time to exhume the feature, at least until I run out of hot gear to write about.

Continue reading

Limited Engagement

Just dropping a quick line to let you know that one of the most popular features in the history of this blog, “Hot Gear Friday”, will be making its return this Friday for a limited run of, well, hot gear!

A Technical Question

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails with a request for some geek help:

I know some tech people read this blog.  Anybody have an opinion on the Samsung Chrome Book, $249 at Staples?

On vacation, I use a Toshiba Excite 10” tablet to surf the web and check email and Facebook.  No keyboard = frustrating.  The Chrome Book would solve that without adding a Bluetooth keyboard to lug around.

At home, the grandkids use the tablet to play touch-screen games like Angry Birds but I don’t play them so touch-screen gaming is irrelevant to me.

Any other serious drawbacks I’m missing?

Joe Doakes

Might have to see if AM1280′s assistant ops manager Jon Osburn is tuned in…