Wednesday, December 29, 2004

In to Iraq

I received identical emails today from two Oregon people who shoot in competition. They have text from an email that someone (six degrees of separation) knows someone who ... well, you know how it works when texts are forwarded without editing. I don't know the source of this post, and I can't vouch for its veracity. But it does have the ring of truth.

Here's everything I received, edited only to get rid of the ">>>" characters at the beginning of each line, and paragraphs formatted as seemed appropriate:

This is from a co-worker that used to work at the Oregon State Penitentiary. He quit and took a job in Iraq for far more than he made with the state. But as you read through his first day you will soon see that he is going to earn every tax free dollar. This is good reading and gives you a look from an average persons perspective on their first day in country.

Subject: In to Iraq.

E-mail for non-family members. 24 December 2004 (Christmas Eve)

Wild times to say the least.

From Kuwait to Iraq is via a C-130 where everyone wears body armor and a helmet. The ballistic plates make the vest very heavy, but once on it rides pretty good. Helps provide a safer feeling.

I sat next to a young, air force security soldier who told me he volunteered to go to Jordan where they will pick-up Iraqi soldiers being trained there and return them to Iraq. His job is like an air marshal on an airline. He has an M-16 and a 9 m/m if any of the Iraqi's try to take over the plane.

Coming into BIAP (Baghdad International Airport) the two rear air crew harness themselves into the side windows and watch intensely for rockets.

Then the roller coaster begins.
We go up and down, side to side, and spiral for a landing. I have never experienced such G force nor looked out a window and see sand and street and then instantly roll to see the sun.

We land with a thump.
The world is now different. Everyone has at least one gun but the faces are of teenagers.

We missed the last helicopter to Baghdad (no one drives the road as its too dangerous) so we ride the Rhino to Camp Striker to spend the night in a large tent of cots. The Rhino is a mobile home that has armor plating and bulletproof glass.

We walk ¼ mile to the chow hall and its great food. Hundreds of soldiers eat at once trying to eat and find a place for their helmets & guns. Little women carrying rifles almost as big as them.

The next morning we ride the Rhino and are briefed about our flight on the Blackhawk helicopters. Luggage in one and passengers in another. I sit next to one of the door gunners as we fly 100 yards above the city. Low and fast. It's a dry, dusty worn out city with lots of cars and trucks.

We land at the Steel Dragon which a fortified landing area for helicopters.

We are bused to a pick-up area where Air Force drug dogs give our bags the once over. We then are met by two guys who drive us to the An Naan (sp?) to an area of tents surrounded by sand bags. Really poor conditons as told by the police trainers living there. I am rescued when one of the guys driving another SUV tells me that corrections doesn't live here and he will drive me and the other corrections guy to a pick-up area to meet our ride.

We are met by a SUV and three armored Humvees with roof mounted machine guns. I am told that I will never move about Baghdad without an army security escort.

I am in the lead Humvee since there are too many people for the SUV.

The roof gunner apologizes for his language in advance but states its necessary.

We pull out of the Green Zone and it's a ride that no one will ever believe.
The Humvee is floored and heaven help anyone getting in the way. I now know what it is like being in a crazy criminals car being chased by the police on city streets. There is no room but that doesn't stop the driver who just gives it more gas and barely misses everything. The roof gunner is yelling "Get out of the way____ ____!" and pointing his M-16 at them to intimidate them away. We are like an emergency vehicle going thru traffic in that they are to pull to the side of the road. But there is no room in the crowded third world traffic jam that we bust thru.

We stop at a prison to pick up some staff to go to the hotel with the caravan, as their day is over. My Humvee blocks the middle of the road pointing the medium caliber machine gun at all cars coming down the road to intimidate they to turn around. One taxi keeps coming and coming. He is coming right for us and the gunner racks a round into the chamber of the machine-gun yelling for him to stop. He is about to open fire when the taxi stops and makes a U-turn. The soldiers were real nervous about it.

Now we charge into the traffic again enroute to the Al Sadeer hotel where we live. Any back seat driver would be crying by now as it is the most exhilarating ride I have ever been on. Just as we slow to make a hairpin turn the gunner is screaming and a shot if fired from an M-16 by the gunner behind us. A car was advancing on us and wouldn't stop so they fired at the vehicle. The lieutenant stated later that now all his gunners have fired on vehicles. If the first shot doesn't get a response then they use deadly force on the driver.

We come to the hotel and I can tell it is guarded by Kurds. A very handsome looking people. The area is surrounded by a 12-foot concrete wall with shooting positions on the roof and wall manned by security personnel.

Each door into the hotel has one or two AK-47 armed security persons who are very friendly. I don't have to live in a tent but a 5 star hotel. At least it was a 5 star once upon a time. It beats a tent.

And that was just the first day.

Since Friday is the Sabbath for Muslims I have the day off and also Saturday due to it being a holiday.

I walk to the roof the next morning to see the city and smoke a cigar, two shots ring out from the street below. A passing car to let us know that they are out there. After breakfast we walk to a self-service laundry thru "technicals" (pick-ups with machine-guns in back) manned by Kurds on their way out on patrol. About 40 of them and they look all business. I'm to be issued a Colt M-4 .223 carbine and a Beretta 9 m/m the day after Christmas since everything is shut down for the holiday.

I'm to tour the local prisons to include Abu Grab (sp?) to see the conditions. Their not sure just what I'll be doing since so much is up in the air.

At least I get free email from the hotel and 10 minutes on the telephone to family plus free meals. What could be better!

Till later,

Bob Cope

Aka Baghdad Bob

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

IPSC-relevant commentary: Malfunctioning Firearm

Merry Christmas is past, and I've been a Bad Boy. I've been eating too much, spending an unconscionable amount of time with my family (which included a lot of time driving up and down I-5), and generally doing everything except updating this blog.

I spent Sunday and Monday nights trying to feel guilty about not posting, and it didn't take until tonight.

Okay, I feel guilty. I guess my vacation from pseudo-life is past, lost in the Real World. Now I'm "Stuck In Lodi Again", if Corvallis can be considered Lodi North (and I think it is).

In the meantime, I've built up that ol' mental pressure to an acceptable pseudo-life operating level, and I've Got Something To Say.

I've had some time to rethink my interpretation of the IPSC/USPSA competition rule 10.4.9 concerning Accidental Discharge, so if you're not interested in Practical Pistol competition you can skip this one.

Earlier, I had some tentative interpretations of this rule which led me to wonder why, if a competitor has a broken gun and is unable to continue, he should be penalized all the points he might have accumulated on a stage before his gun broke. It seemed to me that it conflicted with all the 5.7.* rules, which said that a competitor who was unable to continue due to an equipment malfunction should have all hits scored, penalties deducted, and his stage hit factor calculate in the usual way. (See Rule 5.7.3)

However, rule 10.4.9 deals with the specific situation when an Accidental Discharge occurs. In every other case, that would be ipso facto grounds for a Match Disqualification (DQ). In this case, the rule book recognizes that the competitor has not violated a safety rule so there are no grounds for a DQ.

My guess is that the authors of the current rule book are looking at the rules in the last rule book version (USPSA Rule Book, 14th Edition 2001, US rule This rule is part of the general subsetion 10.3 dealing with Unsafe Gun Handling, and perhaps is inappropriately placed here because the specific rule stipulates that the Accidental Discharge is NOT due to unsafe gun handling.

Maybe that's why they stipulate zeroing the scores for that stage, and allowing the competitor to continue after having repaired his firearm. After all, they COULD have kicked you out of the match on the grounds that you've experienced an Accidental Discharge. Instead, they only kick you off the stage. You can always come back and compete in the rest of the match.

I've drawn some conclusions from all of this introspection:
(1) If a rule exists in the 'old' version, it is justifiable to include it in the 'new' version of the rule book ...
(2) ... even if it may have applied excessive and unjustifiable penalties in the first place.
(3) Therefore, the rule 10.4.9, while it appears to be inappropriatly in variance with the 5.7.* rules, is acceptable because HEY! Nobody complained about it last year, we had our chance, screw us.
(4) Maybe it's time to revisit this rule and decide whether, if the competitor didn't do anything worthy of a DQ, the Range Officer (RO) should screw him anyway by zeroing the stage.
(5) No, it's not the RO's fault. He's gotta live with the existing rules, as the competitor is required to compete in accordance with them.
(6) While those guys were busily inventing new rules that don't always make sense, they might have found time to revisit some of the old rules and correct the ones that already didn't make sense.
(7) No way they're gonna do that, unless IPSC members scream to high heaven every time they run up against this kind of competitive roadblock

If you're dinged under 10.4.9, write your Area Director. Write your Regional Director. While you're at it, write your Section Coordinator, the Match Director, the Regional Director, and every IPSC member whose email address you have. Maximum exposure is a Good Thing.

But do NOT, under any circumstances, scream at the RO who dinged you. He's just doing his job, and he has absolutely no choice here. Don't arbitrate, because you'll lose and it will cost you the arbitration fee which you can't afford anyway.

Just ... figure you're not going to win the match, go get your gun fixed, and do good on the rest of the stages of the match.

Oh, and talk to your gunsmith.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Principles of Practical Shooting

Rule Book

The International

Practical Shooting Confederation


The United States Region of IPSC

1st Edition

May, 1983

(Page 1, before the INTRODUCTION!)


The following principles are established to define the nature of practical marksmanship. They are accepted by all members of the International Practical Shooting Confederation as conditions of membership.

  1. Practical competition is open to all reputable persons without regard to occupation: it may specifically not be limited to public servants.
  2. Accuracy, power and speed are the equivalent elements of practical shooting and practical competition must be conducted in such a way as to evaluate these elements equally.
  3. Weapon types are not separated, all compete together without handicap. This does not apply to the power of the weapons as power is an element to be recognized and rewarded.
  4. Practical competition is a test of expertise in the use of functional defensive equipment. Any item of equipment or modification to equipment which sacrifices practical functionality for competitive advantage contavenes the principles ofthe sport.
  5. Practical competition is conducted using practical targets, which reflect the general size and shape of such objects as the weapons may resonably be called upon to hit in their primary intended use.
  6. the challenge presented in practical competition must be realistic. Courses of fire must follow a practical rational and simulate sensible hypothetical situations in which weapons might reasonably be used.
  7. Practical competition is diverse. Within the limits of realism, problems are constantly changed, never permitting unrealistic specialization of either technique or equipment. Courses of fire may be repeated, but no course may be repeated enough to allow its use as a definitive measure of practcial shooting skill.
  8. Practice competition is freestyle. In essence, the competitive problem is posed in general and the participant is permitted the freedom to solve it in the manner he considers best within the limitations of the competitive situation as provided.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

2005 IPSC/USPSA rules: 10.4.9

In response to a private comment from another Columbia Cascade Section member, I posted Geek Musings: 2005-02 to The Unofficial IPSC List today. This was in reference to both rule 104.3 and 10.4.9.

Turns out, I didn't have any problem with 10.4.3 (big surprise here, I usually go ballistic when I have to discuss the new IPSC rules.) But when I took a close look at 10.4.9, I found plenty of justification for a Shot In The Dark.

Here's the context and the content of 10.4.9:

10.4 - Match Disqualification - Accidental Discharge:
A competitor who causes an Accidental Discharge must be stopped by a Range Officer as soon as possible. An accidental discharge is defined as follows:
Exception: When it can be established that the cause of the discharge is due to the actual breakage of any part of the firearm and the competitor has not committed any safety infraction in this Section, a match disqualification will not be invoked, however, the competitor's scores for that course of fire will be zero. The firearm must be immediately presented to the Range Master or his delegate, who will inspect the firearm and carry out any tests necessary to establish that an actual breakage of a part caused the discharge. A competitor may not later appeal a disqualification for an unsafe discharge if they fail to present the firearm for inspection prior to leaving the course of fire.

Here is the text of my comments:

Why must the stage score be zeroed, if a discharge occurs due to " ... the actual breakage of a part of the firearm ..."? And what happens if the breakage (and subsequent discharge) occurs after the competitor has fired the last shot on the stage?

I really don't see an 'up' side to this rule, but I certainly can see a 'down' side:

What happens if this last-shot occurs on a Virginia count stage? The shooter is in a bad situation. It seems reasonable that he could protest an extra-shot penalty due to firearm breakage, but he doesn't dare protest because he would zero the stage. So might not the shooter, if he can cover up the breakage, be tempted to just shut up, accept the procedural penalty, and go hide while he fixes his gun?

In other words, it STRONGLY encourages the shooter to cheat. And I don't like that what use to be a fun sport puts its participants in such a morally untenable position.

Sounds like we need another "interpretation", don't you think?
Here's my reasoning:
Consider the situation when a firearm breaks. Since IPSC originally evolved as "Practical Shooting", the guiding principles (which have since been rendered hors d'combat by anal retentive moonbats) suggest that what you shoot is what you get, less penalties for what you DON'T get. I'm an old fart, and every new rule I read is inevitably filtered through my "Principles of Practical Shooting" test.

The way it worked prior to December 1, 2004 (when the new rule book came in to effect) was that if your gun broke you stopped shooting and the targets were scored, the time recorded, and your stage factor worked out. The only reason you would get a zero score is if you broke a safety rule and were "Match DQ'd", or your penalties were more than your points. Good enough, we can live with that.

(Note the "DNF rule: for several years, a zero score could be assigned to you if you Did Not Finish, or DNF. This could be caused, for example, by a failure to engage the last target which was caused by running out of ammunition and there wasn't enough ammunition left in discarded magazines on the stage, or in your personal possession ... say, in your pocket. I use to carry a few extra rounds in my pockets to avoid this situation. The rules were changed by, as I said, just assigning penalties for targets missed and/or not engaged. This seemed reasonable to most people)

Now, if your gun breaks ANY time during the Course of Fire (COF), you get no credit for anything you might have accomplished.

That rule holds true even if you have successfully engaged every target in the COF.

There's two ways of looking at this:
  • Extremely practical: as is the case of the Soldier Of Fortune matches, if you fail to 'neutralize' every target, the un-neutralized targets represent aggressors who will kill you. Well, that's fine if you define 'neutralize' as having at least x-points of hits against them (say, onr-Alpha or the 5-point equivalent). But we don't do that. Instead, we penalize minus 10 points for each miss, plus you don't get the points you MIGHT have got if you hit the target. Oh, and if you don't even shoot at ('engage') a target, you not only get miss penalties but also a 10-point procedural for not shooting at it. Since the beginning of IPSC competition, that has always been considered sufficient penalties.
  • Competition practical: you get the points you scored, minus penalties (see above), and your score is calculated relative to the number of seconds you took to get those hits.
The "Competitive practical" approach is the way we have long been conducting IPSC competition, with the exception of the long-unlamented DNF rule.

Let's look at the evolution of the DNF rule.

1st Edition:
I started competing in IPSC in 1983. At that time the 1st Edition (May, 1983) of the IPSC/USA (sic) was in effect. The DNF rule was not included.

5th Edition:
For reasons which will not be discussed now, I dropped out of IPSC competition until 1991, at which time the following rules were in effect in the Practical Shooting Handbook of USPSA (5th Edition, May, 1990):
11.09 DID NOT FINISH (DNF) - when a competitor is unable to complete a course fo fire for whatever reason, other than range equipment failure, his score will be recorded as zero for that stage (See 8.0.6, 8.08)
I'm going to include not only 8.0.6 and 8.0.8, but also 8.0.7 here for illustrative purposes:

(Emphasis in the original rule.)<>
8.0.6 MALFUNCTIONS - In the event of a malfunction, the normal procedure will be for the competitor to rectify the situation, always keeping the muzzle pointing downrange, and carry on with the stage. If he is unable to do so, he will stand fast, lower the handgun safely pointed down range and signal by raising his free hand. The Range Officer will stop the clock and proceed to examine the handgun. See 11.09
8.0.7 BROKEN FIREARM PROCEDURE - In the event the firearm cannot be unloaded due to a broken or malfunctioning mechanism, the Range Officer will take such action as he thinks best and safest. Under no circumstances will a competitor leave the firing line in the posession of a loaded handgun.
8.0.8 UNABLE TO FINISH COURSE - When, due to a breakdown or loss of personal equipment or injury, a competitor is unabel to complete a course or wishes to terminate the course of fire, he will raise his free hand and call "TIME". See 11.09

6th Edition:
These rules were also in effect in the Practical Shooting Handbook of USPSA (6th Edition, April, 1992).

7th Edition:
In the Practical Shooting Handbook of USPSA (7th Edition, 1995), things got a little complicated. Rule 11.09 had been replaced by something that discussed "Failure to Engage". That was a penalty applied to individual targets, not to the entire stage.

But rule 8.08 had been changed, to include a zero-score penalty for this event:

8.0.8 UNABLE TO FINISH COURSE - When, due to a breakdown or loss of personal equipment or injury, a competitor is unabel to complete a course or wishes to terminate the course of fire, he will may raise his free hand and call "TIME". See 11.09. His score will be recorded as zero for that stage.

(NB: Strike-out indicates text deleted from the previous version; italics indicate added verbiage.)

However, the 7th Edition rules were flawed. Even though the DNF concept was no longer defined, they still included the following rules:

US 9.01 VIRGINIA COUNT - Virginia Count is intended for use in Standard Exercise and Speed Shoots where the same targets are engaged by several strings of fire. The targets are scored only after he completion of the last string. The targets are scored only after the completion of the last string. In courses of fire which consist of more than one string, a failure to finish (DNF) one of the strings means a DNF for the entire course of fire. ... ...

Also, this book included a rule, which was referenced in the index as being on page 53 but was actually found on page 52, and in the index was cited as 'Failure Or Loss Of Equipment":

US 11.01 PROCEDURAL ERRORS - Procedural errors apply to violations of stated procedures which are not otherwise covered by other specific rules.

Failure to engage (shoot at) a target specified in the stage design is a procedural error. Failure to engage will always result in one procedural penalty regardless of the number of reuired hits on the target. Failure to engage will not result in a DNF unless the failure is due to the competitor's equipment failure, loss of ammo, etc. (See rules 8.08 and 11.09) Failure to successfully engage a stop target results in a DNF.
Note the strike-out of the last sentence. When I took my first RO certification course in 1997, the instructor (Bill Kehoe) informed us that the sentence was inapplicable because IPSC and USPSA no longer used 'stop targets' to denote the completion of a COF. He said that although the rule CLAUSE was STILL IN THE RULE BOOK, WE SHOULD IGNORE IT! This rule was embedded, but successfully ignored, from May, 1997, until it was deleted in 2000.

14th Edition, 2000:
Eventually, the DNF rule and all references to it were absent in the USPSA Rule Book (14th Edition, 2000), also known as the "Toilet Paper Edition" because it was an interim edition published without a poster-board weight cover. The 8.0.* rules were changed to the 5.7.* sequence. The equivalent of the 8.0.8 rule was rule 5.7.3, which concludes with the following verbiage:

" ... The course of fire shall be scored normally including all appropriate miss and failure to engage penalties."
(Well, it was about time!)

14th Edition, 2001:
The DNF rules were also not referenced in the permanent replacement, the USPSA Rule Book (14th Edition, 2001).

We've covered 21 years of IPSC/USPSA rule books. The DNF rule was in effect from 1983 through 1999, or 16 years. For the 5-year period from 2000 through 2004, there was no DNF rule, and we all thought we were well rid of it.

2004/2005 Edition:
Now, in the "IPSC Handgun Competition Rules, USPSA Version, January, 2004" (but note NOT effective until December 1, 2004) which is commonly referred to as "the 2005 rules", we see this ugly DNF rule has come back to haunt us, appropriately, like the Ghost of Christmas Past.

If we're going to be shooting IPSC Retro, why don't they bring back the entire horrid package? Why stop at what is essentially a DNF penalty only for " ... the actual breakage of any part of the firearm ... "?

As nearly as I can tell, this rule was not formulated in response to an acknowledged, wide-spread problem. Matter of fact, there is no 'urban legend" type anecdotal history which suggests that this is a situation which has occured in such a manner that the previously existing rules wouldn't have handled it consistently with any other reason for failing to complete a COF.

If these, uh, 'folks' who arbitrarily impose these rules on us think that there is a good reason why we should change the way we compete, to the detriment of the shooter, they should at least be able to provide some justification for applying it under such a limited range of circumstances.

Why don't they apply what is, after all, just the "Son of DNF" when the competitor runs out of ammunition?

One can only presume that they had in mind that, if the competitor was so short-sighted that he couldn't predict the failure of a vital part of his firearm, surely it is even more worthy of censure that he be penalized for the short-sighted failure to bring enough ammunition to complete the COF.

Either the authors of this rule failed to consider other reasons for DNF-type situations, or they were specifically targetting ... somebody.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

2nd Amendment Woes

Here's a man in Washington State who, while driving down the highway, was stopped by the police for a traffic offense and was found to be carrying a weapon ... a pistol.

He was carrying it 'open', which is to say not concealed, and apparently that is legal in Washington.

But wait!
The gun was unloaded (necessary, it seems, for the gun to be unloaded under current Washington law ... I haven't looked it up yet). However, it was a semi-automatic pistol and he had a loaded magazine tucked between his legs.

When the police escallated the situation, he demanded his rights as a citizen and demanded that the presence of the weapon be ignored by the police.

Bad idea, they thought. So the police eventually took him to jail, took away his pistol, recorded some 'statements' from his wife which seemed to put him in a VERY bad light, and generally dealt him a world of legal hurt.

This story has been all over the Blog-o-sphere for the past week, and I've avoided commenting on it so far. I was wondering what would happen next?

Looking at later posts by FishOrMan, it appears that he feels entirely at the mercy of the courts, the Spokane DA, and fate. I note his comment:
"Please, treat my wife kindly. She is very special to me."

Pretty ugly, huh?

And later, after it appears that he may be a convicted felon and lose his 2nd amendment rights:

One more thing. In case any local goblin wants to rob, rape, steal and murder my wife and I, tonight might be your best chance.
What can you say?

Here's what I say:
(1) When you're on The Street, and the cops pull you over ... you can argue with them and demand your rights, or you can cooperate and hope to salvage as much as you can of your life. When you're carrying, it's not always enough to know your rights. If the cop who is shining his flashlight in your face isn't in a mood to agree with you, there are far too many ways for him to justify kicking your ass. Tomorrow is another day, and understanding that logic isn't going to get you home before dawn is just another factor in 'situational awareness'. Is this right? Probably not. But understanding reality is perhaps a Survival Factor.

(2) This poor SOB has made his stand, and has asserted his Civil Rights. Maybe someday, ten or twenty years from now, and if he has enough money (which he has not) to hire clever lawyers who will pursue the case, he may even be cleared of all criminal charges. Maybe even the civil charges (which have not yet been brought by the local authorities). For now, he's facing jail time, and bankruptcy because he needs to find and pay lawyers, and he is completely despondant about his ability to defend himself, his family, and his home. I thank him for providing a 'test case' which may someday expand the interpretation of the Second Amendment for the rest of us, but I sure wouldn't want to be in his shoes.

Love your country? Sure thing.

Trust your country? Think about it.

Your country is represented, on the streets, by a bunch of folks who may be reasonable men, but on the other hand they may be a pack of socially-disfunctional turds. It's Hobbe's choice, and if you choose wrong, you lose.

No, I don't like what I've just said any more than you do. But I don't know that the current political environment has anything better to offer.


Sometimes, the events of the day are too poignant to ignore.

John Donovan has the link: I'll show the entire context because this is too profound for comment right now. Brad Lewis is a U.S. Army Chaplain in Iraq. He wrote this yesterday (21-DEC-2004)

Training For Eternity
By the time I got back to our compound it was all over the news. It seemed like the thing had just happened when in reality I had been neck deep in it for several hours. And there it was on TV. Frankly, it's kind of a blur.

The day began early as I didn't sleep very well last night. Once I was awake I decided not to just lay there and stare at the darkness so I got up, got dressed, shaved and headed into the TOC, the heart of what goes on. In the TOC (Tactical Operations Center) they monitor several different radio nets to keep abreast of what is happening in the area. It's the place to be if you want up to the minute information. When I arrived it was fairly calm. I made small talk with the guys there and sipped that first cup of morning coffee. The day was clear and there was very little going on, or so it seemed. A very short while later we received the initial reports. In this area there are several "camps" or "posts" that house the various combat and support units that do the day to day fighting and working around here. The first report said that a mortar had just hit one of the nearby chow halls during the middle of lunch (I'm on GMT so my morning is actually the middle of the day). It's called a MASCAL or Mass Casualty event and it's where the rubber meets the road in military ministry. They said there were approximately 10 casualties. That was the extent of it so I kind of filed it away in the back of my mind and continued to sip my coffee. The next report wasn't so good. 10 dead and approximately 50 wounded. They were being transported to the Combat Surgical Hospital down the street. The Chaplain at the CSH is a good guy and I knew he'd be in need of help so I woke my assistant and we rushed to the hospital. I didn't expect what I saw.

The scene was little more than controlled chaos. Helicopters landing, people shouting, wounded screaming, bodies everywhere. As the staff began to triage the dead and wounded I found the chaplain and offered my assistance. He directed me to where he needed me and I dove in. I would be hard pressed to write about every person I had the opportunity to pray with today but I will try to relate a few.

I found "Betty" on a stretcher being tended by nurses. I introduced myself and held her hand. She looked up at me and said, "Chaplain, am I going to be alright?" I said that she was despite the fact that I could see she had a long road to recovery ahead of her. Most of her hair had been singed off. Her face was burnt fairly badly, although it didn't look like the kind of burns that will scar. What I do know is that it was painful enough to hurt just by being in the sun. I prayed with Betty and moved on.

"Ilena" (a made up name. She spoke very softly and had a thick accent so I couldn't really hear her) had been hit by a piece of shrapnel just above her left breast causing a classic sucking chest wound. The doctors said she had a hemothorax (I think that's what they called it) which basically meant her left lung was filling with blood and she was having a very hard time breathing. For the next 20 minutes I held her hand while a doctor made an incision in her left side, inserted most of his hand and some kind of medical instrument and then a tube to alleviate the pressure caused by the pooling blood. It was probably the most medieval procedure I have ever been privy to. In the end she was taken to ICU and will be OK.

"Mark" was put on a stretcher and laid along a wall. A small monitor on his hand would tell the nurses when he was dead. Even a cursory glance said it was inevitable. Mark had a head wound that left brain matter caked in his ear and all over the stretcher he was lying on. I knelt next to Mark and placed a hand on his chest. His heart was barely beating but it was beating so I put my face close to his ear to pray with him. If you've never smelled human brain matter it is something unforgettable. I had something of an internal struggle. He's practically dead so why stay? He probably can't hear anything! A prayer at that point seemed of little value. But I couldn't risk it. I prayed for Mark and led him in the sinners prayer as best I could. There are few things in this life that will make you feel more helpless. After that, I needed some fresh air.

I stepped outside and found the situation to be only slightly less chaotic. The number of body bags had grown considerably since I first went inside. I saw a fellow chaplain who was obviously in need of care himself. I stopped him and put my arm around him and asked how he was doing. A rhetorical question if ever I asked one. He just shook his head so I pulled him in close and prayed for his strength, endurance, a thick skin, and a soft heart. Then I just stood and breathed for a few minutes.

Regardless of what some may say, these are not stupid people. Any attack with casualties will naturally mean that eventually a very large number of care givers will be concentrated in one location. They took full advantage of that. In the middle of the mayhem the first mortar round hit about 100 to 200 meters away. Everyone started shouting to get the wounded into the hospital which is solid concrete and much safer than being in the open. Soon, the next mortar hit quite a bit closer than the first as they "walked" their rounds toward their intended Everyone began to rush toward the building. I stood at the door shoving as many people inside as I could. Just before heading in myself, the last one hit directly on top of the hospital. I was standing next to the building so was shielded from any flying shrapnel. In fact, the building, being built as a bunker took the hit with little effect. However, I couldn't have been more than 10 to 15 meters from the point of impact and brother did I feel the shock. That'll wake you up! I rushed inside to find doctors and nurses draped over patients, others on the floor or under something. I ducked low and quickly moved as far inside as I could.

After a few tense moments people began to move around again and the business of patching bodies and healing minds continued in earnest. As I stood talking with some other chaplain, an officer approached and not seeing us, yelled, "Is there a chaplain around here?" I turned and asked what I could do. He spoke to us and said that another patient had just been moved to the "expectant" list and would one of us come pray for him. I walked in and found him lying on the bed with a tube in his throat, and no signs of consciousness. There were two nurses tending to him in his final moments. One had a clipboard so I assumed she'd have the information I wanted. I turned to her and asked if she knew his name. Without hesitation the other nurse, with no papers, blurted out his first, middle, and last name. She had obviously taken this one personally. I'll call him "Wayne". I placed my hand on his head and lightly stroked his dark hair. Immediately my mind went to my Grandpa's funeral when I touched his soft grey hair for the last time. And for the second time in as many hours I prayed wondering if it would do any good, but knowing that God is faithful and can do more than I even imagine. When I finished I looked up at the nurse who had known his name. She looked composed but struggling to stay so. I asked, "Are you OK?" and she broke down. I put my arm around her to comfort and encourage her. She said, "I was fine until you asked!" Then she explained that this was the third patient to die on her that day.

"Rachel" was sitting in a chair with no injuries. She was worried about two friends that had been moved to other hospitals in country. So we prayed.

"John", a First Sergeant, asked me, "How does my face look?" knowing he had been badly burned and would probably have some scaring. He was covered in blood, pus, and charred skin so I said, "First Sergeant, you look better than some people I know back home." He laughed and we prayed.

One of the many American civilian workers had been hit in the groin. He was happy to be alive and even happier to be keeping, "all my equipment." It was a light moment in a very heavy day.

As my assistnt and I walked away at the end of the day I saw another chaplain and a soldier standing among the silent rows of black body bags. The soldier wanted to see his friend one more time. We slowly and as respectfully as possible unzipped the bag to reveal the face of a very young Private First Class. His friend stared for a few seconds then turned away and began to cry.

The last count was 25 dead, and around 45 wounded. Nevertheless, our cause is just and God is in control even when the crap is a yard deep. I'm where God wants me and wouldn't change that for anything, even if it means death. After all, "to die is gain".

Post Script: all patient names are ficticious.

Max Michel Website, and Travis Tomasie

I've just discovered that Max Michel has a website.

Among other things, he features a Store, and a Forum.

He's apparently partnered with Travis Tomasie to form a training venture, and you can address questions directly to either Max or Travis on the forum.

I've seen both of them shoot, and they're incredibly gifted shooters. Or "shootists", if you will. But I've never actually met Max.

However, because Travis is from the Pacific North Wet I've been pleased to meet him several times and actually get to know him, a little.

The first time I met Travis was 1997 at a night match at an indoor range in Bellingham,Washington ... I believe the name was something like WSI although I'm not sure about this. The manager was Tim Bacus, and he put on a great indoor match which included at least one "dark" stage. This was the weekend when I met Bumstead for the first time, and he had scheduled us to shoot the WSI match and the next day (Sunday) we would shoot an IPSC match at Marysville Rifle Club.

As I stepped up to the line for the 'dark' stage at WSI, a smooth-faced young man holding a timer stepped up beside me and said: "I'm Travis, and I'll be your RO". What could I say except: "I'm Jerry, and I'll be the shooter". Travis conducted himself like a gentleman (although he couldn't have been more than 17 or 18, tops) and when it came his turn to shoot the stage he SMOKED it! Travis was there with his father, Squire. I had watched Squire shoot the stage, and he was fast, but Travis was FAST. IIRC, Squire won the stage that night because Travis had some accuracy problems ... but he could miss faster than anyone I had ever seen.

He has since corrected that problem, and almost every other shooting problem, to become one of the best IPSC competitors in the country.

In fact, Travis held a 'clinic' in Oregon a couple of years later (must have been about 3 years ago) which I attended. He taught me things about competitive shooting that had never occurred to me.

Some of the lessons he taught were:
* give up some 'split time' and emphasize 'index time';
* When and how to reload;
* moving into a new shooting position;
* moving out of a shooting position;
* shooting on the move;
* how and why to be 'relaxed' when you start a stage;
* some basic practice techniques.

The next year, Travis and Squire showed up at the Croc Dundee "Banzaii Ballistic" match in Oregon, and I was squadded with him. We were on a stage which featured some very difficult targets. I recall taking one very difficult 3-target array on the move, and missing every target. One of the very best grandmasters in the Club came charging up to me after the stage was scored, and roared at me "WHAT the HELL were you thinking there? Why did you try to shoot an move? Even Travis didn't try to shoot those targets on the move, what the hell made you think you could get away with it???"

I learned a lot about competitive shooting that day. Mostly, I learned humility.

Last year I saw Travis at a local Oregon match, just before he reported to the Army. We talked about his career and about his anticipated tenure as a member of the Army Shooting Team. He was very excited and honored about the opportunity, and looking forward to shooting with some of the best shooters in the country.

He has done a fine job of carrying his weight.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Blogging VS Forums

Writing a WeBlog, I discover, is a lot of work. You have to do it every day (although I've been slacking off lately, having to do with Having A Life), and you're essentially writing in a vacuum.

(Father forgive me, it has been four days since I have posted to my Blog.)

Oh, sure, I get to say whatever I want to and the really good thing is that nobody is going to beat me up because I say something that they don't agree with.

The down side is ... nobody is going to beat me up because I say something that they don't agree with.

On occasion, I've been known to Have An Opinion. This is cold meat, however, if there is no response to point out my errors of logic, opposing point of view, or that I'm being a jerk.

Thankfully, the Wonder of the Web is that I can always find a Forum which provides me with this needful dialogue.

When I really want to talk about IPSC competation related subjects, there are two forums which I visit regularly.

One is Brian Enos's Forum.

The other is the USPSA Forum.

(Membership in both is required to post; the USPSA forum is accessible through the USPSA Member's Page, which requires that you are a USPSA member and have the appropriate userid and password.)

Both are valuable resources for someone who competes in IPSC and wants to read, or offer, what might be called "Divergent Views". (Usually, I'm the "Divergent" person.)

I have to say, I've learned a lot about competitive shooting, techniques, firearms and 'other shooting sports' from these forums.

[And while I'm at it, another useful firearms-related forum is The High Road. This website features discussions on the social aspects of firearms ownership as well.]

But back to the original two forums:

The Brian Enos Forum is moderated, which means that if your dialogue becomes too acerbic you are subject to being 'bumped' by the Moderator. Well, you can still retain your membership (unless you are an habitual intransigent), but your comments are likely to be deleted and the topic may be 'closed'. Yes, I know this because it has happened to me. In fact, The High Road is also moderated, and member contributions are similarly subject to subjective review. That's not a problem ... the forums belong to the good folks who established them, and they can operate their forum however they please. Generally speaking, moderation tends to make for a more ... er ... 'moderate' tone of discussion.

However, the USPSA forum is not moderated. That means that you are responsible for self-censoring, and if you are inclined to making outrageous statements you may be seen by the whole world as seeming to be a fatuous jerk.

Or perhaps not. I guess the condition of jerkiness depends on your point of view.

There are a couple of threads in the USPSA forum in which I have presented what might be considered to be extreme opinions. Both of these are in regards to the 2005 USPSA Rule Book, the way it was reviewed by the USPSA Board of Directors, and the effect of the new rules on IPSC competition in the USA Region.

One of them had to do with the review process specifically, and whether a bold statement I made on May 24, 2004 (after the 'draft' of the USPSA rules was published) is subject to a public apology on my part.

The statement is in two parts: first, that the USPSA version of the rule book was not available for USPSA member review until WELL after member contributions were officially accepted by the Board of Directors:

We didn't HAVE a USPSA "proposed rules ... published ..." until last week. The FIRST word that a version of the USPSA rules was from Gary Stephens, on this list, at 5/18/04 5:47:55 AM Pacific Daylight Time. At least, this was the first notice I received, on The Unofficial IPSC list. And since the rules in that PDF file was, in part, time-stamped 5/17/2004, I sincerely doubt that any rules were provided to the general membership much before that date.
The second statement was, in support of the first, an offer to apoligise if I was proved to be wrong:
..., if I am wrong and the rules were presented in ANY forum accepted to the general membership, please let me know and I will publicly apologize ... on whatever venue (available to the general USPSA membership) it was published.
I had attempted (later in the dialogue) to accept supposition and unsupported opinion as 'proof', but since I haven't yet received any proof in the form of a URL, I'm still not convinced. So it's difficult for me to present a sincere apology.

Do you see where I'm going here?

Well, never mind the details. The consequence of this is that I ended up looking like a dork, but (my intrinsic dorkiness aside) the original premise has yet to be proven to be unfounded. Being right isn't much, but sometimes that's all you get.

The other thread had also to do with the way the USPSA rules were reviewed before acceptance, but this time it referred to the way that the proposed were evaluated by the USPSA Board of Directors.

The original contributor suggested that "wouldn't it be great" if the rules could be updated without all this bickering.
I replied that the USPSA rules evaluation process was flawed, and the reasons (see the thread, if it matters) indicated to me that we should have a better process in USPSA for changing the competitve rules.

As point and conterpoint, the cycle of accusation and rebuttal continues, I find myself wondering once again whether I am a Jerk or a Dork. I'm not sure what the difference is, but I do know that it doesn't really bother me very much.

I know the facts, and I have access to a place where I can present them and stand back while the vituperative rebuttal pours in. I like that. A 'forum' implies that more than one voice will be heard, and any statement is subject to being picked apart and being regurgitated in a form which I would never have imagined if I had just been talking to myself (as I am here.)

The really BEST part of it is that I happen to like the guy who gives me the most grief on the forum. He's smart, he's a bulldog when it comes to defending his position, and although I rarely agree with him I admire the way he presents a solid wall of ... whatever. Whatever it is he presents, he makes me THINK about what I've said, and the reasons why (1) I think that way, and (2) the way I said it.

And, although he's from the other side of the world, I happen to have met him in person and got to spend several hours in his company. We argued the issues over pizza and beer, which is a MUCH better way to argue than over the stinkin' internet. (Discussions through writing is like discussions over the phone: you don't get the body language that helps you understand what the other person really thinks, or feels, or is trying to say even though his words may not be as precise as he may think they are.)

Any verbal exchange is flawed without non-verbal clues. A lot of the vehemence displayed in the cited threads is due to a break-down in communications. I have no doubt that another pizza, and several more beers, would serve admirably to resolve the differences between us. Oh, the differences would remain. But I suspect that although we probably wouldn't end up with any kind of agreement, the rancor would have been avoided.

In the meantime, I will continue to post my thoughts here because ... well, because I can, even though it seems somehow mastubatory.

I will continue to post my thoughts on forums, because at least then I'm the recipient of some feedback, it allows me to reconsider my position in the light of feedback which is (perhaps, and hopefully) not "null-value".

However, it would be nice if my friend would understand that I am always right, and he is always wrong.

Or is it the other way around?

Stay tuned.

UPDATE 22-DEC-2004
My friend has replied with great indignation and in what I belief is sometimes known as "a state of high dudgeon"

Personally curious, I looked up the word in GuruNet:

dudg·eon1 (dŭj'ən) pronunciation

A sullen, angry, or indignant humor: “Slamming the door in Meg's face, Aunt March drove off in high dudgeon” (Louisa May Alcott).

[Origin unknown.]

dudg·eon2 (dŭj'ən) pronunciation
  1. Obsolete. A kind of wood used in making knife handles.
  2. Archaic.
    1. A dagger with a hilt made of this wood.
    2. The hilt of a dagger.

[Middle English dogeon, possibly from Anglo-Norman.]

Well, I'm not quite sure what to make of that, or even which definition should be implied. But I digress.

The friendly-but-indignant response to my original post ended with the wish:

In closing, may your turkey be tender, your eggnog exhilarating and your moments under the mistletoe mushy.
I suppose it would be funny Bad Just Plain Wrong insensitive for me to suggest:
"Here's a Bounty, clean it up."

Friday, December 17, 2004

expose yourself to Practical Shooting ... and this is my new first choice for a photo for my profile, if I could just figure out the *!&@@!!! coding to put it in there!

So what do you think? Is this better than a picture of me and SWMBO, or a picture of the Marlboro Man for a profile picture?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Shoot 'em in the back!

Here's an example of what appears to be a violation of IPSC rule:

Shot in the Back!

(Updated 12/17/2004)

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

More Blog Meat

The Coalition to Prevent Assault Weapon Violence

If Guns cause Violence, here's your chance to prove it. Be a volunteer!
Check out the FAQ page. You'll love it.

(Hat-tip to Dave the WIZ of The Unofficial IPSC List)


Robber Gets A Surprise From Potential Victim

(Hampton, VA, December 14th, 2004, 6:54 a.m.) On the Peninsula, it's the bad guy lying in a hospital bed, while his intended victim is unscathed.

Hampton Police say it's a case of an armed robber going after the wrong guy. Instead of a Hampton man becoming the victim of an armed robbery, Hampton Police say he turned the tables on his attacker. In the parking lot behind the "Treasure Chest" nightclub on East Pembroke Avenue, police drew circles around empty shell casings, drawing the conclusion that 22-year old Tony Kensler, Jr. Newport News pulled-out a gun to rob a man, just to be surprised that his intended victim fought back.

In case it's not obvious, this is what "Concealed Carry" is all about, folks.

(The Second Amendment is the same thing, except on a bigger scale. That's for when governments try to rob you, kill you, or otherwise attempt to deprive you of your civil liberties.)

On the day when "... it's a case of an armed robber going after the wrong guy ..." applies to ALL armed robbery attempts, armed robbery will cease to be a viable career path.

That man had a permit for a concealed weapon, and he's the one who got off the shots, hitting Kensler in the arm, leg and chest. Police say it was self defense, and those who we spoke with agree. Sarah Daniel lives nearby, "I think he had every right to do what he did. If someone came up to me, I'd use any means of self defense that I had." Charli is an employee of the club, but wasn't working the night of the shooting. Still, she has an opinion, "I think the bad guys need to have something happen to them for a change, instead of always have some innocent person die."

Dammit, Dude, you gotta get to the range more often. How many times do I have to tell you? It's two in the chest, one in the head.
Oh, okay. I guess "D-hits" are better than misses.

But you're not getting credit for a Geek Goblin count.

Kensler, listed in fair condition at Riverside Regional Medical Center, is charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of crack cocaine.
Guess who's going to find it difficult to smoke another next crack pipe for a while. Probably won't get a smoke until he gets to prison. Awwwwww ... poor Kensler. It's Rehab for you, Pal!

"Convicted Felon" Some people never learn. Maybe if his last victim had shot him up as thoroughly, he would have already realized it was time for him to find another line of work.


"The Curse of American Automobiles"

For some years now, I've been propounding a theory that some vehicles are just naturally more dangerous on the road than others. No, I'm not married to Ralph Nader nor am I going to drop my Republican registration in favor of The Green Party. It's just that, based on an entirely unscientific observation of "dumb stuff I've seen people do on the road", some classifications of vehicles seem to be more frequently involved than others.

Maybe I've seen CHRISTINE too many times.

Anyway, here's the way I rate cars.

  1. The most dangerous car on the road is a FORD!
  2. It's even more dangerous if it's a FORD PICKUP, or a WHITE FORD
  3. Getting into the realm of really scary is a WHITE FORD PICKUP
  4. What can be worse? How about if it's a BIG OL' TRUCK, as Dave Skinner likes to say.
  5. The fifth and most dangerous modifier is ... DIESEL POWERED!

Why am I surprised that this article involves a BIG OL' WHITE FORD PICKUP?
(Answer: I am not at all surprised, and I would be willing to guess that it drinks diesel ... when it's not drinking blood.)

Man Critical After Girlfriend Allegedly Runs Him Over In Truck

TITUSVILLE, Fla. -- A Central Florida man is in critical condition Tuesday after his girlfriend allegedly ran him over in a truck, according to Local 6 News.Police said Marshall Haynes and his girlfriend Kim Glover were involved in an argument Monday night at 1565 Thorton Avenue in Titusville.Detectives said Glover apparently got into a white 1997 Ford F150 truck and ran Haynes down in a home's driveway. Haynes suffered severe injuries to his head and upper torso.

He was transported to Holmes Regional Medical Center in critical condition.Glover was taken into custody but had not been formally charged early Tuesday, according to a police statement.
So you think I'm making this stuff up. But ... why do you think the reporter found it necessary to mention that it was a Ford, and it was white?

Could have been worse. Could have been an F-350 with tandem wheels.
Around here, we call tandem wheels "bone crunchers".

Okay, we didn't call them "bone crunchers" before. But we will now.
It has a nice ring to it, don't you think?
In the words of Dan Ackroyd: "Want to see something REALLY scarey?"

Why are these types of vehicles so dangerous? Is it something to do with the manufacturer ... can you say SATAN?

Or is it that the people who are dangerous buy Fords? If that's the case, note that the operator in this little drama wasn't the person who bought the truck.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

WORD from the Author of IPSC rule 1.2.1

I've ... uh ... been talking off-line with "some folks" about the genesis of changes to the IPSC/USPSA Rule Book, which controls the way competition is defined in both the International and American Practical Pistol 'communities'.

I had mentioned that there were recent discussions on the Brian Enos forums, and they seemed typical of the confusion caused by the current verbiage of the 1.2.1 set of rules. However, I was unable to find those threads, although I did describe them in general terms.

One of these correspondants did his own search, and found them.

I offer them here for your own personal evaluation.

I went back to the BE Forum and did find a post ... outlining the and "official" rules interpretation (actually more of a rule change) the Rules Committee made in Bali.

First match under the Geen Book, rules and 1.21..3 (page 2 of 3)

Basically, the change to both and is "nor allow a competitor to eliminate a location or view in the course of fire by shooting all available targets at an earlier location or view shoot at all targets in the course of fire from any single location or view."
This is consistent with JA's "interpretation" provided to the both of us. I agree with you that, however we got there, we've got a rule we can live with.
I believe the rules discussion you referenced is:

Green Book Head Scratchers ,, how many rounds and from where?

It is interesting to follow the evolution of the interpretation of that rule!
Without sounding smug, I believe these dialogues demonstrate that the people who wrote the rules, and who are responsible for maintaining them, realized when it was brought to their attention by OUTSIDE SOURCES that they didn't have the perspective within their own group to see that the rules could have seriously negative effects upon the Freestyle approach to IPSC.

Over the past 14 months, I have repeatedly railed against the unilateral imposition of major rules changes. Part of the reason I objected so vociferously was because I didn't believe that the rules were adequately reviewed; the way these changes affected competition wasn't usually identified, because the folks who were reviewing the changes had a "this will work!" mindset instead of looking for ways that the rules could cause problems during competition.

Another part of the reason why I have been so critical is that the IPSC and, specifically, the USPSA membership was not given adequate notification before the rules were enacted, which means there was insufficient time to find these little 'bloopers' and take care of them before the new rules were 'carved in stone'.

I present this evidence of ex post facto discussion to illustrate the folly of arbitrarily and unilaterally presenting ANY changes to competitive rules without establishing an effective review process. More, I submit that the organizational membership must necessarily be allowe to assume the responsibility for reviewing these changes, if only to avoid the embarassing situation in which we now find ourselves. Some of the rules which have been enacted are plainly not applicable to the USPSA competitive milieu.

In the actual event, so many changes were made in the current edition of the rule book that we (the membership) would possibly not have been able to discern that some of the most low-profile changes can have a major effect upon competition. This section of the rules is the most blatant of this type, although I fear it is perhaps not the ONLY set of rules which could undermine the way we run IPSC matches tomorrow.

My comments are admittedly vague. Please go to the referenced URLs, follow the discussions, and see for yourself whether the cited rules contain verbiage which clarify an existing problem, or add new problems which we have never before had to deal with.

And ask yourself whether you are satisfied with the way new competitive rules are evolved and reviewed.

For myself, the answer is a resounding NO WAY, DUDE!

Monday, December 13, 2004

Blog Meat

Surfing the news sites on the internet can be detrimental to a healthy mental condition. With increasing frequency, I find stories (more often links to stories) that just cry out for someone to say out loud WHAT A BUNCH OF MAROONS!

I call these stories Blog Meat.

Here's a small selection of today's menu (most links courtesy of WorldNetDaily):

The Opinion of a Total Goose!

Monday, December 13, 2004 (SF Gate)
Deserters Are Heroes/VIEW FROM THE LEFT
Harley Sorensen, Special to SF Gate

Today let us take the sad, sordid case of one George W. Bush. Our president. Love him or hate him, it was he and he alone who decided that our mighty armies should travel to Iraq and kill tens of thousands of people, most of whom were guilty of nothing more than being there.
Well ... okay. Among those who are "being there" are:
* Saddam, Uday and Qsay Hussein, internationally reknown rapists, torturers and mass murderers;
* Terrorists, torturers and head-clippers from Iran, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, etc. whose techniques (bombing, assasination, destruction of public works including pipelines ... the primary source of funding for a new democratic country) are designed to undermine the establishment of a democratic civilian government. These yahoos have no goal greater than to prevent every Iraqi civilian from having a voice in the conduct of his or her own government.
It turned out the Iraqis didn't have those terrible weapons. But, the Iraqis are evil, Mr. Bush asserted. Well, at least their leader was, so, by extension, they all were. And, by gosh and by golly, they might have harbored terrorists at one time or another.

Quickly now, name a country that harbored the Sept. 11 terrorists! Ah, that was too easy. You got it right away. The answer: the United States of America. That's who sheltered the 19 terrorists before their attacks on Manhattan and Washington. That's where those terrorists worked and played, ate and slept, plotted and rehearsed right up to that tragic day. The U.S. of A.
Oh my, where do we start?

How about ... The U.S. of A. 'harbored terrorists' by accepting (naively, perhaps) their assertion that they were in the country as "students". The logical assumption was that these people had come to this country to study, to learn skills which they could take home and better the lives of their fellow countrymen. America, in its innocence, had no idea that they were terrorists.

Iraq, however, under the leadership of Saddam Hussein 'harbored terrorists' from other countries because they were avowed terrorists. They came to Iraq to learn terrorist techniques: shooting people, blowing people up, undermining the economy and peaceful life of a third country by sabotage and intimidation
It's an old, old story, dating back to the first war out of the cave. Young people, eager to do what's right, end up being pawns moved around the board by older men with secret ambitions.
You gotta ask yourself, is this bozo talking about the U.S. Military, or about the Palestinian Suicide Bombers? It's a little difficult to tell, but my guess is that at best Mr. Sorensen doesn't see any difference except, perhaps, American Soldiers who combat aggressors are more naive and more evil than suicide bombers who target unsuspecting and unarmed civilians.
If you still think Mr. Bush's war isn't corrupt, then you didn't see a different "60 Minutes" report, this one on Dec. 5. In that report, it was revealed that our government is ordering retired servicemen and servicewomen to return to duty, years and years after the end of their terms of enlistment.
Actually, what is happening is that retired servicemen with special skills are being ASKED by their government to VOLUNTEER for active duty. I read an article (URL not immediately available, sorry) about a 70-year old ex-military surgeon who, when asked, volunteered for active duty and is now in Iraq leading a surgical team who restore the the faces of both soldiers and civilians who have been disfigured by IEBs, mortars and gunshot.


Here's another one, fromthe Sacramento Bee

Obituary: Gary Webb, prize-winning investigative reporter

Gary Webb, a prize-winning investigative journalist whose star-crossed career was capped with a controversial newspaper series linking the CIA to the crack cocaine epidemic in Los Angeles, died Friday of self-inflicted gunshot wounds, officials said.
Mr. Webb, 49, was found dead in his Carmichael home Friday morning of gunshot wounds to the head, the Sacramento County Coroner's Office said Saturday.

"WoundS"? As in ... PLURAL?
Not too much comment available here. Except ... how many shots does it take to kill a California Investigative Journalist?
There's an apocryphal story going around my home-town of Pendleton, Oregon, about the real estate developer who had some serious business reversals. He decided to drive out into the country and commit suicide by shotting himself in the head with a shotgun. He was home in time for breakfast; he ran out of ammunition.

Sure, we can accept that some people may attempt suicide and fail due to various factors which would otherwise be typified as being Darwinian, but how many times can you shoot yourself in the head, without help?

The article doesn't mention whether an investigation is 'ongoing'.


Got time for one more?

Port St. Lucie woman strangles neighbor's Rottweiler, police say

December 10, 2004, 9:57 AM EST

PORT ST. LUCIE -- Police are investigating a woman who strangled a neighbor's Rottweiler after it attacked her Yorkshire terrier.

Shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday, the 130-pound Rottweiler, named Rox, bolted past owner Rebecca Hartley and grabbed Candy, a Yorkie owned by Robin Bush, in her mouth in the 2900 block of Southwest Ventura Street.

Bush said she was in the kitchen talking on the phone while her son, Jacob, 10, took Candy, who weighs about eight pounds, and her Chihuahua outside.

"I heard my son screaming and heard a cry from my Yorkie," she said. "It was a God-awful screech."

According to Hartley's statement to police, Bush threw a beer bottle at Rox and chased and kicked the dog. Bush's son then took the Yorkie inside.

"Bush then allegedly grabbed the Rottweiler's collar and began choking the animal, screaming she 'would have it killed,' " the report states. "Bush continued to choke the animal, then began slamming the dog's head against the side of her house."
I was wondering how a woman manages to choke a Rottweiler to death. If I had thought about it, using the 'choke collar' to choke a dog makes perfect sense. I wonder if I would have had the presence of mind to use leverage on the collar. Probably not, which makes me much less of Good Mother than Mrs. Bush.
Hartley, 20, said she was trying to calm 1-year-old Rox, but Bush twisted the dog's collar with one hand and had her other on Rox's snout, repeatedly striking the dog.

"I told her, 'You're killing my dog, you're killing my dog, someone please dial 911,'" Hartley said. "I could not get her to let go of the dog, and within two minutes or less Rox had suffocated."

Bush, who said she weighs about the same as Rox, said her actions were justified.

"The dog was as big as me, it seemed," Bush said. "I was afraid to let go of this dog because I thought it was going to hurt me. ... Nobody was helping me. I was trying to defend my animal, my child and myself," she said. "I didn't intentionally kill this dog."

Now, let me see if I understand the situation.
The big dog had grabbed the little dog (who was being 'taken inside' by her 10-year old son), and the mother was concerned that if the big dog would grab a mouthful of Yorkie, there's no reason to assume that it wouldn't find a boy or a mom equally as appetizing.

Yup. Sounds reasonable to me.

So is this a Hero-type thing to do?


This is A Bad Thing. Picking on a poor defenseless Rottweiler:

Prosecutors are reviewing an animal cruelty warrant application to determine whether to issue a warrant for Bush's arrest, said Officer Robert Vega, police spokesman.

"There's always two sides to every story. The officer felt ... this should be written up and forwarded to the State Attorney's Office to make a final decision," Vega said.
Well, sure. See previous reference to the "poor defenseless Rottweiler".

Hartley said Rottweilers get a "bad rap" as being "ferocious," describing her dogs as "very friendly."

"You would think that out of instinct if someone were choking you, you would resist," said Hartley, a lifelong Port St. Lucie resident. "Rox did not resist at all, she just sat there calmly and felt the woman was playing with her."
Okay, so now we've established that this is not only an aggressive Rottweiler, it is a stupid, aggressive Rottweiler. I don't know about you, but I'm not much comforted by the idea that this idiotic dog not only doesn't know any better than to attack another dog one tenths its size, but doesn't understand that this is A Bad Thing.

So what happens next?
Well, sure, we put the victim on the defensive.

Bush denied slamming the dog's head against the wall.

"I'm not a cruel person," Bush said, noting she tried to revive Rox. "I feel wholeheartedly my dog and myself were the victims."

Hartley said Bush had a "severe overreaction," and a witness told police Bush was "flipping out."
That's right, it's The Mom's Fault.

Maybe it's just me, but I can't help feeling that a domestic pet who can't control himself, who hasn't been trained to obedience (remember that the owner, Hartley, was entirely incompetent in preventing the attack or stopping it once it had started), and who is demonstrably aggressive in a social setting ... has no right to live. Sorry, my apologies to dog lovers everywhere. If you have a big dog in an open society, you have a responsibility to control it utterly at all times. The first time you lose control of your dog ... you lose the dog. And society is better off for it.

As for Candy, an animal control supervisor said the dog had three small marks on her belly that didn't puncture the skin. Bush said Candy is "traumatized" and "not moving well."

"You can't hardly pick her up; she just lets out a terrible cry," Bush said.

Eric Bush, 34, Robin's husband, said Candy was bitten more than once and will remain under a veterinarian's observation for possible internal injuries.

"They said it could be fatal," he said.
Uh huh. So the Yorkie wasn't ripped limb from limb, and devoured slowly and with great relish (a pickle relish, no doubt) by the Rotty. I suppose the fact that Ms. Bush immediately defended her property and, by extention, her son has nothing to do with the non-fatal outcome?

And the denoument?

Hartley said the incident left her "kind of numb."

"On the one hand I want retribution, but you can't bring the dog back," she said.
Well, Thank Gawd for that.
If the Rotty was human, Kim du Toit would be writing another Goblin Report. Except that Ms Bush was apparently interrupted before she could finish what would otherwise have been A Good Day's Work

I'm no Kim du Toit, but let's just consider this the Geek Goblin Count #1.

I'm happy that "you can't bring the dog back". We don't need it.
Pity, though, that the Rotty didn't actually die as an immediate and direct consequence of its actions.

Considering this story in respect to, for example, lawsuits which hold a firearms manufacturer responsible for the actions of people who buy their firearms, wouldn't it be reasonable for the owner of the dog to suffer some punitive action besides loss of her dog?

I'm not talking strangulation at a post, mind you ...
... well, maybe I am.

What do you think?


But finally, here's a Good News contribution to take a little gloom off your day:

It had to happen.

Somebody finally wrote a thorough, reasonable article which compares and contrasts IPSC and IDPA competition, without trashing either one.

SportShooter.Com has the article, and I'm not going to 'fisk' it because ... well, I just wish I had been able to write such an informative and unbiased piece of work

The author is Scott Craig. No, I've never heard of him, either, but he does write nice clean descriptive prose; and the article includes a link to his website, which is worth visiting.

It's a medium-size article, and doesn't even take long to download.
You can read it at:

Sunday, December 12, 2004

More on USPSA rule 1.2.1

Last Thursday I included the text of an email that I had sent to John Amidon, Vice President of USPSA, asking for clarification of the rules regarding Medium and Long Courses of fire.

Earlier today, I updated that post with the details of Mr. Amidon's reply.

Later today, I received an email from someone who commented that he wished "... the rule had been written more clearly."

Here is my reply to him:

I'll tell you a secret.

I think Amidon's "interpretation" is just that, and a darned creative one at that. It doesn't really say what the rules say.

There was a discussion about this rule last month on one of the forums (I think it was the BE forum, but may have been the USPSA forum) which included Vince Pinto. Vince is the one who actually authored this clause of and During the discussion, Vince gave the impression that he intended competitors to shoot through every port, and from every shooting box, which was included in the stage design. After some discussion, he suggested that instead of the verbiage being "... nor allow a competitor to eliminate a location ..." to "... nor encourage a competitor to eliminate a location ...". And after that had been discussed for a while, he finally decided that the whole thing had been a bad idea, and suggested removing the "eliminate a location ..." clause completely from those two rules.

(Sorry, I can't direct you to either the forum or the thread. When I went back to look up this discussion last week, I couldn't find it. Apparently, my search was insufficiently dilligent, or I just wasn't looking in the right places. I've since initiated the practice of archiving forum discussions which seem significant to me.)

Be that as it may, we have the rules NOW in place and it's unrealistic to start sending out 'corrections' to remove or replace problems that weren't really noticed until after the rules were published.

Mr. Amidon's 'interpretation' provides the minimal justification for the inclusion of this rule, without either admitting that a blooper was included when the rules were rewritten OR forcing us into an unacceptable situation where free-style competition was outlawed.

If my paranoid, baseless and entirely reactionary suspicions are true, this was a masterful way to sidestep the whole problem. Nobody gets hurt, the game isn't ruined, and no reputations suffer.

I can live with that.