Around here, are what we normally see in the reflecting pool around the fountain.
But all we see there today? Algae.
Guess what we’re doing this Sunday. Sheesh.
Around here, are what we normally see in the reflecting pool around the fountain.
But all we see there today? Algae.
Guess what we’re doing this Sunday. Sheesh.
Yeah, we haven’t done one of these in many weeks. But it’s time.
When this post goes live, the links will be dead. We’ll gradually liven them up.
Mirabile dictu, the Saturday Matinee is already up. So one regularly weekly feature that we’ve been neglecting is un-neglected. How ’bout another?
We have almost no stats, as the spreadsheet we track that stuff in is also neglected. There are only 16 posts this week (we’ve been working behind the scenes on stuff).
It’s seldom the post we expect it to be, but this one was kind of predictable: Monday morning’s The Downside of Cops Shooting Dogs. It drew 13 comments (including our own replies). Criticism of The Thin Blue Line usually is contentious, and everyone is an expert on dogs (especially Korean chefs!), but the commentary was remarkably thoughtful and civil.
Here’s the recap of our posts for this week:
It’s “Bet you’ve never heard of Fred Arooji.” If you read that post, and the linked press release at US SOCOM, you’ll be glad you finally did.
Pretty awesome as we didn’t make any promises, so whatever we did is all good.
Well, this is one way to achieve expectations… by not having any expectations.
We will try to get one gun-tech post and one SOF or war-related post up a day. We’ll also have the delayed post on Bull and Murphy’s incredible space-launching guns, a Jules Verne device that came this close (making Maxwell Smart hand gesture) to coming true.
Yes, the word you’ve heard is correct. It’s bad. It’s really monumentally, thunderously, sticky-messily bad. There is no good in it. The nearest thing we can come up with for something good to say about seeing this movie is: now you don’t have to.
Who thought Armie Hammer had potential as a leading man? He doesn’t. Perhaps he is beloved because he brings money — his great-granddad was Armand Hammer, the KGB’s fully-owned-and-operated billionaire oilman. You can see why Armie didn’t follow the old man into the family trade with the Ochrana/KNVD/MVD/NKGB/KBG/FSB or whatever’s the acronym du jour for what’s really just the latest fashions on the old bones of Nicholas I’s secret police. Maybe that family trade descends by male primogeniture, and Armie’s the runt of the litter or something.
Hammer spends a lot of time posing silently. It is the sweetest dialogue in his repertoire. He is completely unconvincing as the Lone Ranger, even this nutless, gutless, gormless and brainless Lone Ranger. He does better as the pre-LR character, a role he’s typecast in as a nutless, gutless, gormless and brainless city slicker lawyer. Whatever funding he brought to the movie must have been staggering to buy him such vast quantities of screen time. If the objective was to stroke his vanity, mission accomplished. If it was anything else, it… “fell short?” Those words seem inadequate, unless you envision “short” as down in the grenade sump in a foxhole in the bottom of a deep-shaft coal mine dug down in the depths of the Marianas Trench. That short.
Johnny Depp is, of course, the reason this movie is “Tonto and his bumbling white-boy sidekick” instead of, you know, the Lone Freaking Ranger. The commercial rationale behind his part and makeup — complete with a retarded bird headdress — is quite patent. “Let’s make Johnny another franchise like Captain Jack Sparrow, with enough makeup he can age in the role for sequel after played-out sequel!” Unfortunately, while starry-eyed studio executives were cashing the checks from merchandising contracts, they were too busy mediating among the makers of lunchboxes and action figures to pay any attention to the progress — or lack of it — of the movie. A sequel to this might be interesting, just to see how hard this cast and crew would have to work to make something that sucked even more.
As corny as the old serial shorts and TV series Lone Ranger shows were, the characters were comprehensible. The Ranger was all about doing good, and if that meant occasionally applying some .45 Long Colt to some deserving skull, he did it without whinging. Silver was everything a horse ought to be: primarily, loyal. Tonto was a character with some mystery about him. Where did he come from? What bound him to the Ranger? What made him tick? Part of the gestalt of the TV shows was that these questions were not ever answered. Tonto was an enigma, that’s what he was, and a stand-in for the many put-upon races of Native America. But at the end of this Lone Ranger, Tonto is less an enigma who draws you in, and more like the annoying homeless guy on the sidewalk who will not go away. The make-up job just looks stupid. Someone give that Indian a smallpox blanket!
Unlike the Hammer and Depp versions, the TV Ranger and Tonto appeared to be capable of personal hygiene. It’s a small thing, but unless you’re some weirdo from 90210, you probably prefer clean people to filthy ones.
Helena Bonham-Carter chews the scenery, even though that means she’s at risk of chewing over Depp’s toothmarks. On the other hand, what else do producers hire her for? She’s a known quantity playing a “Helena Bonham-Carter character.” Zzzzzzz.
The bad guys? Of course, businessmen and industrialists. About the only thing that was missing was the cast gathering for a curtain call at the end, singing the Internationale.
At this point, we usually say a few words about the historical accuracy, or lack of the same, of the weapons and their employment in a period film. Thing is, there’s really not a lot to say about the weapons — they’re typical Hollywood western fare — and their employment is rather Hollywood itself, creating typically Hollywood gasoline explosions.
“I don’t like guns,” Hammer says, and his gun handling throughout suggests it wasn’t only the scriptwriter’s sentiment. The wannabe Ranger carries a Colt Single-Action and a bullwhip. There is one interesting scene with the .45, where a closeup shows a headstamp-less dummy round going in to the empty cylinder…
… and the next closeup shows the cylinder revolving with the single dummy round about to go under the hammer:
That was one somewhat realistic snippet… maybe the only one.
The bad guys do have a Gatling even if they don’t show any more sign than Hammer of being able to use it effectively. The only really interesting guns fall to Bonham-Carter, who carries an odd W.W. Marston three-barrelled derringer. Marston, a New York gunmaker, is probably better known for pepperboxes, but the brass-framed, steel-barreled derringers seem to be fairly common. They were made in .22 short and .32 rimfire and one variation — alas, not the one in the movie — even had a bowie-bladed bayonet. (We are not making this up).
Bonham-Carter’s character’s other unusual gun is a double-barreled shotgun, built into her wooden leg. (We’d apoloize for the spoiler but if it saves even one life from losing 2 1/2 hours in front of this bit of screen pollution, it’s worth it).
The explosions are all Hollywood-patent gasoline fireballs. We suppose that by the time they hired the pyrotechnician, they already knew they had a turkey on their hands, and they thought that some big fireballs would appeal to the 13-year-old demo. Likewise, they have stunts that defy the laws of physics, and CGI that looks fake at every level. But at least when the CGI is in screen, Hammer isn’t, mostly.
We kept waiting for a gun to be used realistically or sensibly (even the scene with the single bullet winds up unrealistic). With the length of the movie being what it is, that was a hell of a wait. We’re still waiting.
This isn’t just a bad film, but it’s a crushingly bad film. One hopes that the director and stars are next seen in Alpo commercials (perhaps as the product), but Hollywood has probably declared them Too Big To Fail. (But audiences are responding: Too Bad To Watch).
If it’s so bad, you might well ask, how did it ever get made? The only answer we can think of is that Hollywood never did taper off from their early 1980s level of drug abuse.
Could it be worse? Sure. Think about next year’s turkey: Hammer in The Man from UNCLE.
(Editors’ note: yeah, it’s been a while since we did one of these. We’re getting back into it and hope to have one every week… and maybe backfill a few).
But you probably should. He lived in the shadows for most of the last 30 years, but was a great contributor to Operation Eagle Claw (the unfortunately failed attempt to rescue the Iranian hostages) and subsequently, to special operations aviation. He was recently (15 May 13) honored with the Bull Simons award by USSOCOM. Here’s a snatch of the write-up:
[General Jim] Vaught would be the overall commander, but the commander on the ground would be Special Operations legend Army Col. Charles Beckwith. Arooji’s first meeting with Beckwith was testy.
“I was with Captain Bucky Burruss one day and Colonel Beckwith walks in the room, big guy, huge, he had a real raspy voice,” Arooji said. “He looked at me and said ‘That beard, that looks good, don’t shave that beard.
“Colonel Beckwith turned to walk away, stopped and looked at me and said ‘I’ll tell you what son, while you’re here, you keep your mouth shut, you understand?’ I said yes I do. He looked at me again and said ‘No, you don’t understand, this is my country, I love my country, and I am not going to let any son-of-a-bitch destroy it, so you keep your damn mouth shut while you are here and if I ever find out you are talking too much I’ll put you in a jail, or you will never see the sun again.’”
Arooji continued, “I stepped two or three feet toward Colonel Beckwith, I looked him straight in the eye and told him, ‘sir, you know what the difference is between you and me?’ He said ‘What is it?’ I said, ‘the difference is you were lucky, you were born in this country as an American, I earned mine and I love it just as much as you do.’ He looked at me and said, ‘We’ll see,’ and turned and walked away. I thought I was going to faint. Bucky turns to me and says ‘Hey Freddy, he really likes you.’”
Later that day, according to Arooji, Beckwith would approach him in the chow hall and give him a big hug and tell him “You know what, you are a true American.”
Arooji joined another Special Operations legend, Army Maj. Dick Meadows, for the reconnaissance mission in Iran ahead of Eagle Claw and where they encountered significant challenges for which Arooji’s ingenuity would prove to be invaluable.
By all means, Read The Whole Thing™. Almost every officer namechecked in this is a legend of SOF (Burruss, Beckwith, Wade Ishimoto, Dick Meadows) and Fred was, until recently, a necessarily unsung member of their glorious number. He was one of the guys with Meadows left hanging in Iran under relatively flimsy cover when Eagle Claw collapsed, and got out on pure wits.
Look, we’re gun guys. If you have an M16 that won’t drop the mag free, or an M2HB with timing issues, we’re your huckleberry. On law, we only know what we read, and we’ve come to trust certain writers.
Ken White at Popehat (a legal group blog) has been a prosecutor and a defense attorney. He’s liberal enough we’d probably argue all the time in meatworld, but he’s a real courtroom defense lawyer who’s gone to bat for innocent clients, guilty ones, and no doubt a few he wasn’t real sure about. That’s his job. As a prosecutor, he also tried to jail that same range of innocence to guilt — that was his job. (We bet it paid better. Who’s eager to have a lot of accounts payable with incarcerated criminals?) Anyway, almost anything on Popehat is worth the read, including all of Ken’s and his collaborators’ output on Zimmerman, but these two were powerhouses:
Anybody who can’t stand Nancy Grace is clearly a man of great discernment. Agree with Ken or disagree, but you will be better informed after reading his posts.
We all know the famous Inspector Harry Callahan speech from the movie Dirty Harry. In rooting around the web for (boo, hiss) work, we happened to run across this speech from then-SEC Chairman Chris Cox from 2007, in which Cox re-envisioned that speech, rewritten in the weasel words used by public companies.
Remember Clint Eastwood’s classic role in Dirty Harry? For those of you here who are too young to have seen every rerun from the 1970’s on AMC, suffice to say that Inspector Harry Callahan didn’t waste words.
One of the most famous scenes from the movie has the wounded bad guy trying to decide if he should draw his gun on Callahan, or if Callahan might have one shot left. Harry Callahan just squints at him, steely-eyed, and says:
“I know what you’re thinking. Did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a 44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clear off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky?”
Not much question that Dirty Harry got his point across. One of the reasons that all of us, as moviegoers, admire Harry’s delivery is that we know it’s actually difficult to speak that directly. In fact, if those same lines of dialogue were to appear in your average prospectus or proxy statement, they’d probably sound more like this:
“I imagine that you are harboring significant uncertainty concerning the precise number of times that the hammer of this particular multishot firearm was cocked, its cylinder was advanced, the hammer was then released at the rear of its travel, the round in the chamber was fired, and the cylinder was then advanced once again — and specifically whether the exact figure is six, or possibly only five. Indeed, given the ambient commotion, my preoccupation with the need to make multiple, simultaneous and consequential decisions with alacrity, the surrounding high-decibel acoustic percussion, and the substantial ramifications of the firearm having already been discharged multiple times, I myself am experiencing difficulty in quantifying the discharges with exactitude. But inasmuch as the instrument in question, having been manufactured by NASDAQ-listed Smith & Wesson (stock symbol SWHC) with a horizontal barrel dimension of 8 3/8″ to propel a projectile with a diameter of nearly 1/2” at a velocity of over 1,000 feet per second and an energy of more than 1,400 joules, is arguably the most powerful firearm in the world (the uncertainty being a function of the particular metric that one might choose, such as overall terminal ballistics, external ballistics, or some combination of other factors), you should be advised that were the projectile from this instrument to strike you in the region between the apex of the cranium and the base of the lower mandible, it would completely sever this entire portion of your anatomy, and in addition transport it a considerable distance from its original location. As a result, it is appropriate that you pursue a specific and directed line of inquiry and self-examination: viz., in view of all the facts and circumstances, and giving due weight to the relevant risk factors, is it your considered judgment that you are more likely than not to be relatively fortunate?”
Sadly, it was all too easy for me to write that … the words seemed to flow quite naturally. Too many years of 10-K writing, I guess.
Now, we’re never going to see SEC form filings written with the, er, impact of a Harry Callahan speech. Or, say, John Rambo, John McClane, Rooster Cogburn, Col. Mike Kirby, or any other fictional tough guy. They could become an internet meme, perhaps, if there are enough movie-loving, gun-savvy finance geeks out there… eh. Maybe not.
We do love that scene, and reenacted it once with a folding-stock AK (held one-handed, a pretty good candidate for “the most powerful handgun in the world,” eh) and an obstreperous G chief. But that’s another story.
Actually, strike that, Manning might match Liberace for flambuoyance, and for ego, but nobody ever died because of anything the flashy piano entertainer did. There have been a number of deaths in rioting resulting from Manning’s leaks, and there are others yet to come.
The Manning defense, a coalition of left-wing cranks and terror-financier-funded white-shoe Establishment lawyers, set great store in getting two charges dropped, including the Aiding The Enemy specification and a Computer Fraud and Abuse Act charge. The Boston Globe reports:
The military judge in the trial of Private First Class Bradley Manning decided Thursday not to drop a charge accusing Manning of “aiding the enemy.” If found guilty, Manning could face life in prison plus an additional 154 years.
The additional 154 years sounds kind of like piling on, but you can never be too sure with these guys.
In February, Manning…. denied that he was guilty of 12 counts, including aiding the enemy, but pleaded guilty to 10 lesser offenses that could have put him in prison for up to 20 years.
The aiding-the-enemy charge carries the death penalty, but the government had said it will pursue life in prison with no chance of parole….
The judge, Colonel Denise Lind, said the government had provided sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Manning knowingly gave information to certain enemy groups such as Al Qaeda when he passed hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks in 2009.
The defense position seems to have been arguable, at least, but the judge didn’t buy the argument.
The defense argued in court Monday that Manning did not act voluntarily and deliberately in aiding the enemy when he leaked the documents. But Lind concluded that Manning did have “actual knowledge” that the intelligence he leaked would end up in the hands of the enemy. Lind also decided not to drop a lesser charge, an offense under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
The CFAA is a different kettle of fish — it’s a vague and problematic law that needs to be revised by Congress, or repealed entirely.
Harvard Law Professor Yochai Benkler, one of Manning’s supporters, argued before the court that military personnel had a right to transmit classified information to journalists. This novel legal argument was unsuccessful.
Before the judge’s decision, a number of Manning’s supporters argued in the Washington Post that the charge was “unconstitutional” (in the words of ACLU lawyer Ben Wizner) and a threat to newspapers like the Post and the New York Times that depend on leakers for scoops. The article, by Julie Tate, suggested that the judge would probably drop the charge.
That the charge was not dropped is a blow to the Manning defense. It not only exposes Manning to the life-plus-154-years on the Aiding charge, but it increases the likelihood he’ll get maxed out on the other charges, even if he beats that rap. He has already pled guilty to charges that stack up to 20 years in Leavenworth.
On the plus side, a guy who thinks he’s a girl is probably going to have a dynamite social life inside.
It’s going to be a windfall for AR collectors 50 years from now: Colt, which split its defense and sporting arms divisions in 2003, is in effect re-merging into one company, with Colt Defense purchasing Colt Holding (which owns, or “holds,” primarily Colt Manufacturing).
The markings on AR-15 and M16 rifles have told the story of Colt’s corporate reorganizations over the years. The first ARs and M16s were marked “Colt’s Patent Firearms Mfg. Co.,” the name it had had since Sam Colt days. Later guns said “Colt Industries,” or “Colt’s Firearms Division, Colt Industries,” and after 2003, the markings diverged: Colts for civilians were marked “Colt’s MFG Co Inc.” like this AR:
…and Colts for the military and law-enforcement market were marked “Colt Defense” like this:
All variations of markings noted the city of manufacture as Hartford, Conn. and the USA marking has been used since at least 2003.
You could have a nice little collection just by seeking out different roll markings.
Here’s the raw press release at the Securities and Exchange Commission (does reporting to the SEC suggest that Colt may be looking to go public?). The release has also been posted on Colt’s website, which is still divided into Defense/LE and Consumer sides.
Here’s an insightful post by Andrew Tuohy about why Colt went splitsville 10 years or so ago, and why it’s back together. He suggests that the split was an attempt to shield assets from the legal liability suits that were so popular then, and have since become a non-factor (because of legislative and judicial actions both). A commenter suggests that the split has been injurious to Colt’s one-time market leadership.
We wish the executives and workers of Colt’s well, whatever they’re stamping on their guns (yes, even the UAW workers, because we’re in one of those goodwill-to-men moods).
Hat tip: No Lawyers.
Yet more “gun violence” in New Hampshire, as a bat guano crazy woman forced her kids to drink bleach. Yes, bleach. The kids, six and seven years old, will live — no thanks to their ate-up mom.
SEABROOK — The defense attorney for a 33-year-old mother accused of forcing her 6- and 7-year-old children to drink bleach said he’s going to file a motion to have the two felony-level charges dropped.
…[Judge] Sullivan cut off [Public Defender Tony] Naro’s attempted elaboration, but Naro went on to explain later in the arraignment that [Mom Of The Year™ Wendy] Wright suffers from a mental illness that had been “under-treated and perhaps undiagnosed” until she spent three weeks at Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center in Boston after the incident.
Naro also argued against the $500,000 bail recommended by the state, saying her family can only afford $1,000 and that her mental disorder will worsen if she remains in jail.
Naro said the $500,000 bail request is “not just excessive, it’s unconstitutionally excessive.” He said if Wright remains incarcerated, her mental health condition that was diagnosed and for which she was prescribed medication at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center will “deteriorate further.”
[Prosecutor] Mendes said Wright is “certainly a danger to herself and others, your honor, if she is to be released on bail,” defending the high bail request.
Wright is facing two felony charges alleging she “knowingly attempted to cause serious bodily injury” to her two children by forcing them to drink bleach, “which placed the child in danger of serious bodily injury.”
Mendes said ingesting bleach can cause burning to the throat area and damage to the lungs, but the kids are “a little bit better now.” He added that the children are now in “safe” custody, but declined to elaborate.
In asking for the $1,000 personal recognizance bail, Naro said he’d just spoken with Wright’s mother, who was present in the Seabrook court for the arraignment Wednesday and “that’s the most amount of money this family can come up with.”
“This case comes down to mental illness,” Naro said, noting that Wright was prescribed “a number of prescriptions” while hospitalized.
If she’s released, Naro said, Wright would continue treatment at Seacoast Mental Health in Exeter, Naro said. He argued that Wright isn’t a flight risk because she’s been a lifelong resident of Rockingham County and has no family living outside of New Hampshire. He said she was enrolled in school and attending classes when the incident occurred.
We suppose you can’t fault an attorney for zealously representing his client, but this woman needs to be somewhere that doesn’t have a doorknob on the inside of her room. The judge seemed to agree; he threw Naro a bone and reduced the bail to $200k, still $199k more than the family can raise (or feels like raising for their crazy, dangerous member, perhaps).
Humans are paradoxical creatures. (And no, we’re not talking about this murderous mom). They are at once very easy to kill — you really don’t need weapons that come in a neat Acme box in the mail that says “weapons” on it — and very hard to kill. Fortunately for the kids, household bleach, while very painful and damaging, isn’t the most hazardous chemical in the average kitchen.
Of course, we don’t know if she was trying to kill the kids when she served ’em up a Clorox cocktail. Crazy people are crazy, and she could be thinking they’re pod people from the planet Nutball for all we know. But the right answer to crazy people with Clorox (or guns, or without them for that matter) is to do what DA Mendes is trying to do here: lock them the hell up.
It’s a heartbreak and a tragedy for her whole family that Wendy Wright is nuts, but it isn’t made any better by our current policies that let a Wendy Wright walk among us. The same goes for the crazies that shot up Gabby Giffords, a suburban Denver theater, or a Connecticut school, for that matter.
So what’s the right punishment for Wendy Wright? That’s easy. Death.
Back in the day, the Case of the Micturating Marines caught our eye. Our opinion was (and is) that while doing it was no big deal, filming it was Himalayan stupidity, and putting the video on YouTube was pretty dumb, too; call it Alpine stupidity. (The key error was taking the video in the first place. Once the video is made, you have to assume it’s destined for YouTube. Three men can keep a secret, if two of them are dead, as Franklin said).
“I regret maybe any repercussions it might have had on the Marines. But do I regret doing it? Hell no,” Sgt. Joseph Chamblin told WSOC-TV in Charlotte, N.C., adding that he would do it again.
Chamblin himself felt some of those repercussions, being bunged down to Sergeant from Staff; the pictures further enraged the Marines’ usual antagonists, Islamic terrorists and the media.
Previous Micturating Marine coverage here:
The Marines in question were members of a scout-sniper element who had lost a teammate, possibly to these same Talibs, two days before. Two Marines, the commander of the scout-snipers’ company and the Sergeant who filmed the events, are pending court-martial in November. Pre-trial maneuvers continue, mostly relating to command influence (the Commandant has made it clear that these men will be found guilty, full stop; the Army general commanding the Afghan theater at the time also demanded that they be maxed out, once the video got loose; he previously tried to classify the video and stills to prevent this from happening, but some idiot had already uploaded the video to YouTube).
The other six Marines charged — including all the actual whizzers — received nonjudicial punishment under Article 15, UCMJ.