Friday, February 27, 2015

House of Cards: Season 3

Since Season Three of House of Cards came out at midnight last night, I thought you might enjoy this overview of the last two seasons.

h/t David Smith

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

14 Things You Should Know About Guns

My CWP choice - a .45ACP Springfield XDS

If you read this blog on a regular basis, you probably already know them these things. However, it never hurts to spread some knowledge around.

On a semi-related note, when I started carrying almost two years ago, I was constantly worried about people looking at me and seeing my pistol underneath my jacket. Now, I realize that no one really looks at me that closely. Most people are so wrapped up in their own business, they rarely scrutinize what other people are doing. And after awhile, carrying becomes fairly routine. Since the CWP law was modified to allow for carry into restaurants, I've had to disarm less during the day.

Luckily, I haven't ever been in a situation where I've needed it, and I hope I never do. (Kind of like the smoke detectors in my house)

Monday, February 23, 2015

A wonderful sentence from Shelby Foote

"Steedman, who was 47, Pennsylvania born, a former printer, Texas revolutionist, and Ohio legislator, a great hearty man, broad breasted and broad shouldered, whose face, according to an admirer, was written all over with sturdy sense and stout courage, brought them up on the double and committed them with no more delay other than it took to tell a staff officer to see that his name was spelled correctly in the obituaries."

A single sentence.

The deliberate and slow manner of Foote's writing is wonderful. Here, he's describing a particular point in the Battle of Chickamauga, where Steedman essentially rallies the Federal troops in a valiant counter-attack.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday ATF Photo

Happy Friday. Here's your Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

Otherwise, enjoy your weekend, peeps.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

70th Anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima

U.S. Marines during the assault of Iwo Jima, 1945

If it hasn't been mentioned, today is the 70th anniversary of the amphibious assault by the United States Marines on Japanese-held Iwo Jima on 19 February 1945. 

U.S. losses amounted to 6800, with 17,000 wounded. 

The Japanese lost almost 22,000 men. Only 216 prisoners were taken. 

Many today question why Truman used The Bomb. They are idiots.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sell me this pencil - Mike Rowe on Credentials and Competency

“Hi there. My name’s Mike Rowe, and I only have eight minutes to tell you why this is finest pencil on Planet Earth. So let’s get right to it.”

Great Characters Make Great Stories

Two sides of the same coin.
John Daniel Davidson has a piece in which he talks about the "literary genius" of Justified, it's good and worth a look, but I think it could be more accurately titled "Great Characters Make Great Stories".
In the world Yost and Leonard spun out of one of those “oddball tales,” Boyd is no more a villain than Raylan is a hero; each man is a kind of shadow of the other, ill-suited to their assigned roles and unfit for the wider world. Cold and remorseless, justified in all his killings, Raylan is knotted up with anger and violence. His moral conscience amounts to allying himself with the law, though he ignores it when it’s convenient and flouts it openly to protect an ex-wife he loves but refuses to be with.

By contrast, Boyd exudes a kind of joie de vivre amid his many depredations while betraying a moral sensitivity far more developed than Raylan’s. He does wrong but doesn’t try to justify it to his conscience. In season three, Boyd kills a man on his crew, Devil, after learning of the man’s plans to betray him. While dumping the body, Boyd quotes something his father used to say: “Once you make up your mind to kill a man, ain’t nothing left to talk about.”
For me, what really makes Justified a great story is the complexity of Boyd and Raylan. Neither man is the classic one-dimensional hero or villain, and their interactions are the best part of the show. It's almost like they are each other's alter-ego, and I could almost see Boyd coming over to the right side of the law as easily as you could see Raylan slipping into a life of crime. Perhaps there's something to be said about how these two characters embody the opposing forces in human nature, and how they struggle against one another.

Similarly, the character of Walter White is probably why I liked Breaking Bad so much. Walter White was a complicated character, and it was fascinating to watch his story unfold. The transition of Walter White from a high school chemistry teacher to drug kingpin was quite a character arc than ended the only way it really could.

Hopefully, Justified wraps up as nicely as Breaking Bad did. Boyd Crowder may be one of the few "bad guys" I'd like to see get away. Maybe.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

New Jersey Man Arrested for Possession of a Flintlock Pistol

I think this might have been used by Aaron Burr

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, Bryan, I'd like for you to come up with something extraordinarily stupid. Something the pushes the limits of human dumbness.

Here you go.
Simone reported that Gordon was arrested last November while heading home after lunch. A Cumberland County Sheriff’s Deputy pulled over Gordon for a traffic violation, but wanted to search his car. Upon discovering a flintlock pistol in the glove compartment, VanGilder said that another deputy wanted to let him go since he knew the firearm was an antique. The Sheriff disagreed. VanGilder was arrested the following morning, and faces up to ten years in prison; three and a half to five years of that sentence must be served before parole can be considered.

To make things more absurd, the prosecutor in the case told VanGilder’s lawyer­–Evan Nappen–who’s in the video; that ballistics test will be run on the firearm.

Ok, I'm not a scientist, but how exactly do you run ballistics on a smoothbore firearm? And even if you could, what's the point? Are they going to match it against all the musket balls pulled from unsolved crimes?

Good luck tracking this pistol via serial number, too.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Slow Day Today - Have Some "Carolina" BBQ

Maybe it's the President's Day holiday, but today seems awfully slow. Accordigly, I'll link this list of top 10 BBQ places in the "Carolinas".

Most Accurate Map of South Carolina

I kind of dislike the use of "Carolinas" to lump North Carolina and South Carolina together, like we're all one place. We're not. If we liked each other, we wouldn't have split up back in the 1700s. Anyway, we haven't been one place for a long time.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Do You Need a College Degree to be President?

This guy never got a college degree.

Personally, I think it would be refreshing to finally have a President who didn't have a degree from Harvard or Yale. I know this is going to stir up the anti-intellectual debate that's been out there since Sarah Palin, who is always going on about the "elite".

I'm actually ok with saying that some people are "elite". Elite means "the best". It means a subset of a group that is superior to the rest. Certain people are smarter than others. Certain people are better than others at various things. For instance, Jack Nicklaus was an elite professional golfer. Hank Aaron was an elite major league baseball player. There's nothing wrong with being elite, or acknowledging that some people are smarter than others. Face it, some people are dumb.

However, we've gotten to a point where people conflate elite with credentialed. Just because you have a degree from Harvard doesn't mean you're an elite thinker. You have a credential, that's it.

So, do you need a college degree to be President? Nope.

Justice Ginsburg Did Some Pre-Game Drinking for the SOTU

Honestly, if I had to sit through the entire SOTU, I'd want to drink during the speech.

Monday, February 9, 2015

My Grandad was a Black Devil

1st Lt. William P. Caskey (my grandad)

And he wasn't any ol' devil, either. He was an officer. Specifically, he was actually a 1st Lieutenant, Hq Company, in the Devil's Brigade, which was essentially the first special forces unit created. See those crossed arrows on his lapels? That the insignia of special forces, before there was even the existence of special forces as an independent branch.

The Augusta Chronicle has a story about my grandad, who lived in Augusta after WWII. The piece came out because Congress just recognized the unit with a Congressional Gold Medal.

They were trained during the winter months at Fort William Henry Harrison in Montana in hand-to-hand combat, mountain climbing, ski training, demolition and skydiving, but the Norway mission was canceled before they finished.

“They had this idea they were primitive fighters,” Caskey said.

The team was eventually sent to liberate Rome and invade southern France.

Caskey said his father did some fighting. One of the force’s most famous missions was made into a movie called Devil’s Brigade, a nickname the German opposition gave the force for the baggy parachute pants and black shoe polish they wore under their eyes for their nighttime hit-and-run missions. The group’s logo featured a black devil holding an arrowhead shield and clinching a dagger in his mouth.

In February 1944, the force was the first to land in Anzio, Italy, and surprise a German unit.

“My dad’s brigade quickly jumped off the beachhead and ran several miles into the hills to hold the high ground, but was soon told to retreat because they were overstretching the Army’s limits,” Caskey said.

The Germans reoccupied high land and pinned the force for 99 days without relief.

“My dad said it was one of the worst times of the war because he sat on the beach for two weeks in a hole, unable to move for fear of being shot,” Caskey said.
I knew my gradad fought in WWII, but beyond generally fighting at Anzio with the Army, I didn't know much of anything about what he did or what unit he was in.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Weekend Plans? I'll Be Crusading

Like most of y'all, my weekend plans involve some backyard grilling, a little work around the house, oh, and probably some crusades.

Enjoy the crusades, y'all. It is the weekend, after all.

Why Brian Williams Lied About His Combat Experience

"Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier, or not having been at sea."

Samuel Johnson said that. By the way, h/t to Ace for bringing that quote to mind.

By now, we all know that Brian Williams lied about being in a helicopter that was shot down during the Iraq war. Here's a video of Williams lying about the event, in detail, to David Letterman. I have been thinking about why he lied about this event. People defending Williams have tossed out this "memory is complicated" idea, in an attempt to let him off the hook. For instance, people are saying things like:
"He was in the helicopter in the sense that we are all in the helicopter. We are the ones who misremember. Misremember, conflate."
What? We are all in the helicopter? What is that even supposed to mean? Memory isn't complicated. You're either in a helicopter that was shot down, or you were in another helicopter an hour behind. It's not that complicated. Next time you get caught in a lie, try out the ol' "memory is complicated" line and let me know how that goes for you.

Look, people. sometimes, the simplest answer is the right answer. Here, I think the simple answer is correct: Brian Williams wanted to portray himself as as badass. So he made up a story.

Williams has been a journalist - a news reader - for his entire career. He's never been a soldier. He's never been one of the rough men standing ready in the night to visit violence upon people. However, he's reported on them, so he's been around them a lot.

I can relate to this. I'm a lawyer, but that makes me kind of the odd-ball in my family and extended family. Every single adult male in my family before me was in the military, and was deployed overseas to combat. Everyone.

My dad was in the Army as a doctor in an 93rd Evac Unit in the first Gulf war. My uncle was in the Army and was a tank commander in the first Gulf war, in addition to other deployments. My other uncle flew helicopters in Vietnam. My late grandfather was special forces in WWII, fighting at Anzio, among other places. My brother in law flew helicopters in the second gulf war. I can keep going back to the Civil War, but I think you get the idea.

Me? I'm just a lawyer. I'm not saying that anyone makes me feel bad about it (they don't), but sometimes I feel guilty about it on my own. Yeah, I know that being a lawyer is an honorable profession, and it's kind of interesting, but it's not exactly the same thing as being deployed to a combat area. I'm kind of the opposite of Lt. Dan.

So I'm kind of in the same boat as Williams. We're both guys who have been around military guys to a great extent, but we're not in the club. We're never going to be in the club. We don't have the bond that those men have, and we're never going to have it. Not that there's anything wrong with being a lawyer or a news reader; both are perfectly legitimate careers.

Here's what happened. I think Williams did a lot of reporting on military issues, and he got to know military men. I think he truly admires them. I think Williams admired these military men that he was around so much, he wanted to be part of their group so badly, that he made up this story so he could fit in - so he could be one of the guys. Who doesn't want to be one of the guys?

Essentially, I think Brian Williams lied for one of the oldest and most common reasons of all: He lied so people would think he's cool. I think deep down, he felt uncool standing next to these military men. Their actions held up a mirror to him, and he looked at his own job of reading the news and felt like he didn't measure up.

He certainly doesn't measure up now. Those who are dishonorable certainly aren't part of the club.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Garden & Gun's Go-To Recipe for Fried Oysters

It's really quite simple. Don't over-think it.

If you want the best fried oysters in Columbia, my advice is to head over to Hampton Street Vineyard. They have a great fried oyster appetizer.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

King Abdullah Quotes Clint Eastwood in "Unforgiven"

You know how it's always comforting to know that big, important world leaders are kind of like us regular folks? If you're a normal American guy, using movie quotes is a fun way to express yourself , make a point, and just generally relate to your friends who've also seen the movie.

Members of the House Armed Services Committee met with Jordan's King Abdullah Tuesday not long after news broke that ISIS had burned to death a Jordanian pilot captured in the fight against the terrorist group. In a private session with lawmakers, the king showed an extraordinary measure of anger — anger which he expressed by citing American movie icon Clint Eastwood.

"He said there is going to be retribution like ISIS hasn't seen," said Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr., a Marine Corps veteran of two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, who was in the meeting with the king. "He [King Abdullah] mentioned 'Unforgiven' and he mentioned Clint Eastwood, and he actually quoted a part of the movie."

Hunter would not say which part of "Unforgiven" the king quoted, but noted it was where Eastwood's character describes how he is going to deliver his retribution. There is a scene in the picture in which Eastwood's character, William Munny, says, "Any man I see out there, I'm gonna kill him. Any son of a bitch takes a shot at me, I'm not only going to kill him, I'm going to kill his wife and all his friends and burn his damn house down."
You know, I think me an ol' King Abdullah would get along alright.

Update: According to Wikipedia: King Abdullah has listed his hobbies as sky diving, rally racing, scuba diving, football, and science fiction. He also likes motorcycles and has toured a Harley Davidson plant in California.

Oh, and not for nothing, he's got a good lookin' wife, as well.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Jordan Decides To Go With Old Testament Response to Terrorism

Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.
Jordan will execute Wednesday an Iraqi would-be suicide bomber on death row and other jihadists after having vowed to avenge the murder of a Jordanian pilot by Islamic State jihadists, an official said.

“The sentence of death pending on… Iraqi Sajida al-Rishawi will be carried out at dawn,” the security official said on Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Jordan doesn't have the luxury of being half a world away from these evil men. ISIS is pretty much Jordan's next door neighbor. It's easy to shrug off ISIS if you're a pacifist in San Francisco, but if you live in Amman, you don't have that luxury.

I'm sure our State Department will call for "restraint" or some fool something, but restraint is not a virtue in war. James Taylor - you're relieved.

And make no mistake - this is war. I have a feeling that Japan is taking notes.

Monday, February 2, 2015

"American Sniper" Breaks Super Bowl Weekend Record

Not everyone was watching the Super Bowl yesterday. At least some folks were still out there going to see American Sniper, because it's still breaking records.

This weekend, it broke the record for the biggest Super Bowl weekend gross ever.

Anyone else go to the movies this weekend?