“May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.”


"This report is maybe 12-years-old. Parliament buried it, and it stayed buried till River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear because there's a whole universe of folk who are gonna know it, too. They're gonna see it. Somebody has to speak for these people. You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you all come to the same place. So now I'm asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, 10, they'll swing back to the belief that they can make people . . . better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave." ~ Captain Malcom Reynolds

Monday, June 23, 2014

Gear

Not for the first time, I've been asked why I don't do more gear reviews or such on the blog. There's a couple of reasons for this:

- As Tam and others have noted, once you start reviewing stuff (particularly when it's provided for you) then there is a tendency to flavor your work towards the provider - take the King's coin, do the King's bidding as it were. There are enough magazines, websites and other professionals that can handle that, so no need for me to throw my 1/2 cent in.

- Gear is constantly evolving, and what was yesterday's cutting edge is tomorrow's antique. With few exceptions the things I coveted or used ten years ago aren't even in my inventory anymore, much less the "go-to" item.

- I buy things based upon my needs, mission profile and skill set. I work in a specialized field in law enforcement, and what I expect and need my equipment to do is different than what a guy in Afghanistan, or a citizen carrying concealed on the street in Dallas might need. So, what I may view as a "feature" in an item might be a liability to someone else, or what I might view as a critical issue might not even surface on someone else's radar.

- Tools in a toolbox. A lot of stuff at certain levels is interchangeable, particularly if you have trained well. You do train, right? So if you learn how to do whatever it is right with the basics, then you don't rely on your gear to carry you through - instead you use it to enhance or simplify things when the time comes. Elegance in the basics (a lesson I still need a lot of work on).

- A couple of the companies/brands I deal with are very low profile, and like it that way. Who am I to boost their presence if they don't want it?

So, rather than specific brands or items, I'll just take a few moments to discuss some things I think are vital in choices for gear, no matter what your end-use:

- Consistency and reliability. You should be able to know what the item will do from the first use to the last, and to expect the same level of performance throughout. If you can't trust it to do the job time to find a replacement.

- Durability. Within the limits of the item in question, it should last for a decent period. This is where the "buy once, cry once" theory comes into play - you're better off spending more for the best product you can afford, knowing it will last. Buying cheap usually leads to regrets and replacement.

- Company integrity. No matter what you buy, occasionally things fail. Or other issues develop. Companies that stand behind their products and take care of these issues are worth their weight in gold. Poor customer service will lose my business no matter what the level of quality you provide.

- Form follows function. As I get older, and (hopefully) wiser, I'm drawn less by the "this does and has everything" and more by the appreciation of a simple, elegant solution to a problem in a straightforward manner.

- While I'm not fully into the "ultralight/minimalist" camp of things, I've found frequently over the past few years that the products manufactured for the alpine/minimalist side do tend to be better constructed and thought out than the more mass-market versions.

So, those are my thoughts in general. Perhaps I might dabble more in discussing certain lines or product categories as a whole if there is interest, or I'll stick with what I know and be quiet. :D

Thursday, June 19, 2014

OPSEC, once more for the slow kids

While this is not a new trend, the acceleration over the past few years has been horrible.

Once upon a time, should a military unit associated with "covert" activities conduct a successful operation, no one knew - or if they did, it was attributed to a larger unit, or to the "military" as a whole.

As for the members, you quietly went your way, kept your mouth shut and maybe talked about things at work with people who were in the same places. A trophy or memento might go up in a team room, but certainly not with any big plaque or credit to things.

Because that was part of the job. And because it kept things easier for the next trip downrange, since the bad guys didn't know when, where or how the good guys worked.

But nowadays, heck, the helo engines aren't even cool before someone in D.C. is discussing the operation, who did what, naming units and players and the like.

Shut up people. You're putting people and families at risk. You're jeopardizing future operations. And you aren't accomplishing a single thing except looking dumb with your "look who I have working for me" crap.

Take a page from the British and the Israelis. And quit talking out of school.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Current Events

I asked a Vietnam era vet friend today if this is what guys felt like in April '75. His response was "Pretty much exactly the same."

The world's in a handbasket, and they have cut the rope. I can't decide whether to be frustrated or concerned anymore.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Lessons Learned

Had a smile to myself today (in private) at one of the many lessons the military taught me which I still carry to this day. In that it is possible to use physical exertion to re-direct a wayward young boy back towards the right path in a way that involves no violence, abuse, belittling, or other adverse means - instead it just serves to bring some excess energy towards improving the body and the mind while explaining certain realities of life to a young man.

It's funny how some push-ups and calisthenics can be so much more effective than yelling or spanking or grounding ever would be.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Apparently I've been labeled again

So a momentary conversation tonight, which then drifted into certain TV shows and their roots etc. - the wife made this comment:

"Oh, if it didn't have just one season you're just not interested..."

It's not my fault I have better taste than the networks!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

For those having trouble keeping score

We just established that we'd gladly trade Darth Vader, the plans for the Death Star and a controlling interest in Mos Eisley for Porkins the fat X-wing pilot.

Things Normal People Don't Say

While doing some cleaning and sorting this morning:

"Now, why did I leave a smoke grenade in that bag again?"

Yes, we're a bit... different... around these parts.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Great advice

Commencement speeches are traditionally motivational yet forgotten rapidly. This one by Admiral McRaven will hopefully stand the test of time. I won't diminish his words with my own, simply suggest you read at the link.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Operation "Choke Point"

I don't like commenting on politics or government all the time, I really don't - but the bastards keep doing stuff that pretty much makes me... which brings me to this in our latest bit.

Many of you may have seen bits and pieces in the news over the last year (particularly the last few weeks) about businesses having their accounts inexplicably closed by banks - with no valid reasons given, or with statements that their "type" of business wasn't appropriate. At first this was generally attributed to overzealous political leanings of one sort or another in a corporate leadership, but now it looks to be something more.

Enter the Federal government - under Operation "Choke Point" the Department of Justice and FDIC has taken it upon themselves to drive certain industries under by making it impossible for them to do financial business in the country. In other words, instead of letting legislation and the legal system accomplish what they want, your "betters" in Washington are once again ruling by decree. The government's assertion being that such businesses are "high risk" for criminal activity or other nefarious purposes, or are engaged in fraudulent behavior, and that by putting pressure upon banks and financial institutions to not do business with them it will indirectly shut down such horrible practices. One of the major "Bad Guys" in this has been Chase Bank, which has apparently acted with glee to enforce such dictats from above. What sort of businesses are covered by this approach? Let's see:


  • Ammunition Sales
  • Cable Box De-scramblers
  • Coin Dealers
  • Credit Card Schemes
  • Credit Repair Services
  • Dating Services
  • Debt Consolidation Scams
  • Drug Paraphernalia
  • Escort Services
  • Firearms Sales
  • Fireworks Sales
  • Get Rich Products
  • Government Grants
  • Home-Based Charities
  • Life-Time Guarantees
  • Life-Time Memberships
  • Lottery Sales
  • Mailing Lists/Personal Info
  • Money Transfer Networks
  • On-line Gambling
  • PayDay Loans
  • Pharmaceutical Sales
  • Ponzi Schemes
  • Pornography
  • Pyramid-Type Sales
  • Racist Materials
  • Surveillance Equipment
  • Telemarketing
  • Tobacco Sales
  • Travel Clubs



On the surface one might see elements of this that certainly are distasteful, if not repellant. On the other hand, for the conspiracy minded, there certainly are a fair number of "prepper" favorites on this list. But, with few exceptions, the vast majority of these industries have a key element in common no matter the political spectrum - THEY ARE LEGAL. They involve acts, behaviors, interactions, or purchases that the citizens, the legislature, and the courts have all deemed are publicly acceptable (even though some have restrictions and regulations upon the participants). Yet, by way of regulatory fiat, the determination has been made that if such things can't be eliminated by political means they will be done so administratively. 

So who is this hurting? It's hurting small and large businesses of many types - from gun manufacturers and distributors, to soft-core models, to "unapproved" small charities and the like. It's hurting companies and groups that indirectly might do business with some of these elements, particularly when they lose the ability to process transactions online or through a bank card (which is the vast majority of all financial traffic these days). And it's hurting the banking industry, both in lost revenue and in the burdens of dealing with the federal issues. A couple of articles are here and here. I fully encourage you to Google more and look at this - because pretty much every side of the political and social spectrum is affected. You may have your own opinions on these varied industries, which is certainly your prerogative and privilege. But it has reached the point now of getting some Congressional attention asking what is going on.

But if it can be done to these industries, it can by extension be done to others. After all, we've seen similar "regulatory" efforts used in attempts to address home businesses, home schools, small farms and seed providers, publishers and ad nauseum. And what happens when it's something you do support? 

Because this is a reflection of a government problem for the past fifty years - the growth of the bureaucrat and rule by administration. The political class as well as special interest groups have learned that if you can't get the public support to push something through Congress, all you have to do is lobby the right agency and bury it in the Federal code somewhere. It demonstrates once again the belief amongst far too many in government, whether elected or appointed, that they "know better" than the common people, and thus must make decisions for our own good. That yet again another nameless, faceless cog in the machine is going to rubber-stamp form T93-A and tell you what is right and wrong. And this is the very antithesis of what we as a nation are supposed to be. 

And Chase? Quislings. Because apparently they have no problem at all taking the "right" kinds of dirty money - be it illegally foreclosing on military families, doing business with prohibited nations, or mortgage fraud on an epic scale -  but apparently all that is piddling compared to doing the bidding of the suits. So, they certainly won't see any of my money again - nor will I support those who do business with them. I'm sure there are other banks complicit in this whole mess as well, and they will make my list as it comes to light. 

Like I said, I certainly don't want this to become a political blog. Yet if we don't as a nation start holding the government accountable for such deeds, then the only alternative will be the government holding us accountable to a dictated standard. And that will not do. 

Like the man said, I aim to misbehave.