Monthly Archives: December 2013

Breaking: Ave atque vale, Mikhail Kalashnikov

We learn through a chyron crawl that Mikhail Kalashnikov has passed away at age 94. He is most famous, of course, for the Avtomat Kalashkikova, the most-produced and most-copied automatic weapon in world history.

Mikhail Kalashikov

We’re sure that both the gun culture and the anti-gun culture will have competing obituaries shortly. He led a long and interesting life, serving in the Red Army (reportedly as a tanker, not a rifleman) and began to work in gun design whilst recuperating from combat wounds.

The AK became a legend while Kalashnikov still lived, primarily because of its simple manual-of-arms and legendary reliability. It could be built by unlettered blacksmiths with hand tools, maintained by a policy of absolute neglect, and its operation and field-stripping could be grasped by illiterate peasants — still a presence in the Soviet Army of the 1950s and 60s — in minutes. Despite that, it was accurate enough for close combat, effective enough at combat ranges, light enough  to be carried at the ready for days on end, and compact enough to fit through the narrow hatches of aircraft and combat vehicles.

The AK adorns the insignia of many terrorist groups and one nation (not coincidentally, one ruled by former terrorists). It is one of the default images in every TV news producer’s prewritten “gun violence” segment outline, the favorite weapon retained by ATF for years to trot out during gun-seizure press conferences, and indeed, the favorite weapon provided in the thousands to the Sinaloa Cartel by the ATF.

Somewhere between 35 and 50 million of the guns have been made. No one really knows. Even Kalashnikov, who never got a kopeck for most of them, could only guess.

And for all that, the AK was not his only hugely successful design. There are AK variants such as the RPK, but there’s also the simple, light and reliable PK machine gun, available in ground/GP, flexible, solenoid-fired, and tank versions. The PK’s success is even more profound when you remember it has to deal with a rimmed cartridge, and so the cartridges are withdrawn from the belt to the rear, as Maxim and Browning did. The PK has a new and very simple way of doing this with a machined part that is tempered to be its own spring. Like the AK, the PK’s watchword is reliability and it adapts well to being used by unlettered, unsanitary guerillas and third-world troops.

If you study the AK in depth you will see why it is so reliable. It’s not that Kalashnikov was an idiot savant, or lucky: conscious design decisions, based in part upon the best practices of previous designers, made the gun reliable, durable, and flexible about ammunition. Perhaps that should be a post of its own.

Mikhail Kalashnikov, Requiescat in Pace. 


The battle of the obits is barely joined, but we don’t hesitate to declare a winner. It has to be the DuffelBlog (a funny if too often too true military satire blog):  Dead AK-47 Inventor To Be Buried In Mud For A Week, Cleaned Off, Then Put Back To Work. Heh.

Read more:#ixzz2oRBd8Hzq

ABC News alarmed by George Zimmerman’s “Arsenal.”

How many?

How many?

Russell Goldman of ABC News is one of the small army of reporters who maintain cast iron, 24/7 coverage on the doings of America’s only “white hispanic” (media term for a Spanish guy they don’t like!) painter. Goldman and his effete cohort of soi-disant newsmen have been unable to find anything to write about in Benghazi, the ATF’s ongoing and widespread gunwalking, the new war in Sudan (which has already had its first US casualties, a handful of wounded Marines), or the cancellation of millions of insurance policies.

Because they’re as obsessed by Zimmerman as they are by various Kardashians. (Does anybody who does not write for a news outlet give a rat’s rump about those people?) Zimmerman is their Great White Hispanic Whale. He’s their Rosebud. He’s Jodie Foster to their John Hinckley. Since that’s probably the comparison that fits the Russell Goldmans of the world most precisely, Zimmerman is probably wise to arm himself. Goldman:

Zimmerman, 30, whose arsenal was confiscated in November following a domestic dispute with his girlfriend, picked up his four firearms, including a shotgun and an assault rifle from the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office in Sanford, Fla., this week.

Sorry, Russ, four guns are not an “arsenal,” but you still didn’t equal CBS News’s rewriting of the famous Texas Ranger motto into “one gun, one arsenal.” Seriously, two rifles, a shotgun, and a pistol? That’s all it takes to make an “arsenal”?

He was eligible to retrieve the weapons since Dec. 11 when assault charges against him were dismissed.
Zimmerman, perhaps Florida’s most notorious gun owner, picked up the weapons on Tuesday and Wednesday and returned to the sheriff’s office  on Thursday with girlfriend Samantha Scheibe, 27, because she also had to retrieve a handgun police seized during the same incident in November.

And who’s responsible for him being notorious? Oh yeah, how about you media guys who misreported the arrest, the prosecution, the trial and the verdict? (If you watched the trial, or followed the live blogs, the acquittal was inevitable. If you watched Russ Goldman’s ABC News, you only saw the prosecution side of the case — with its flaws carefully edited out — and were shocked at the outcome).

Returned to Zimmerman were an Interarms .380-caliber handgun, a Glock 19 handgun, a Kel-Tec 12-gauge shotgun and an AR-15 assault rifle. Scheibe picked up her Taurus 9mm handgun.

via George Zimmerman Gets His Guns Back, So Does Girlfriend – ABC News.

Goldman can’t even get his facts straight. (Interarms is an importer, not a manufacturer). But it seems like George and his friend have decent taste in guns. (The Kel-tec shotgun is not for everybody, but a Kel-Tec gun saved him from a brutal beating, even if it made him eligible — for life, apparently — for the sort of “brutal beating” that a Russell Goldman can administer, in a news story).

Of course, George could stay out of the news by having a little less volatility in his love life. That would leave them nothing to write about but his traffic tickets (which Goldman also drags into the story. Because he’s Russ Goldman, Conscience of America, and that’s how he rolls). Meanwhile, George sold his first painting online for $100,099.99. You know Russell Goldman has to hate that.

Hat tip: the Gun Wire.

It helps to be one of the Nomenklatura

handcuffs_1A lot of things you might do could send you to jail. Like bringing a gun to an airport checkpoint. However, if you’re a local politician? The fix is in:

No charges will be filed against a Montrose city councilwoman who said she forgot her handgun was inside her purse when she brought it through security last month at Montrose County Regional Airport, while the councilwoman has agreed to participate in adult diversion, Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger said Friday.

via No charges in official’s gun-at-airport incident |

Or, you could leave your gun in your unlocked car, and criminals could sell it on the street. But if you’re a cop, not only will nothing happen to you, some bright spark at the local paper will write the story under the headline that local police “take firearms security seriously”:

Pocono Mountain Regional Police Chief Harry Lewis admitted to leaving his department vehicle unlocked by his Allentown-area home in May when his wallet and service handgun were stolen.

He initially insisted that the police commission did not discipline him after an internal review, but a commission member countered that claim last week, saying Lewis was disciplined but refused to specify how.

Officials have said Lewis’ .40-caliber Glock has not been recovered after one of the teenage suspects sold it on the street in Allentown.


We see that the guy got double-secret “discipline” which was almost certainly a, “We disapprove of you casting your Glock into the hands of the local criminal element, now go forth and sin no more” letter.

We’re thinking how that kind of reckless indiscipline would be handled in a military special operations unit. In the Tier 1 units, it’s at minimum a return to your status-quo-ante unit. In SF it would probably be a career-ender. Indeed, we know a guy who was hounded off active duty with a relief-for-cause OER for losing a pistol in combat. (He redeemed himself in the USAR, and did not lose an M9 on any subsequent combat tour. No word on whether he dummy-corded the gun to himself).

Giving the police and politicians privileges and immunities which are not available to private citizens is not a sustainable policy. While the negligent cops and pols surely enjoy the special treatment, every such case undermines public respect for them and for the institutions in which they serve.

Much of the public sees a Congressman not as a “public servant” but as a crook, in it to line his own pockets, and they may not be wrong, as regards the median politician. “They’re all crooks” may not be literally true, but it’s a pretty good default organizing principle for your relationship with your legislators.

At this time, there’s much more respect for the police as an institution than there is for Congress, but the trend is negative. (And the respect is lowest in the poor communities that have the most interaction with the police. This is unfortunate, because they are the ones that have the most to gain from a positive relationship with lawmen).

These little “professional courtesy” exceptions extended to insiders are not without cost. They increase the corrosive effect of the us-vs-them mentality on both sides. Mutual contempt between the public and the police, the public’s own public-safety oaganization, cannot be a good thing.

Things fictional survivalists do that would get them whacked

enemies_foreign_and_domestic_miniThere’s a very large oeuvre of survivalist fiction. There are entertaining popular bestsellers like Robert Merle’s 1972 Malevil, Matt Bracken’s Enemies Foreign and Domestic trilogy, and James Wesley, Rawles’s current Survivors series. There are explictly gun-culture-oriented works like John Ross’s Unintended Consequences. There are inexpensive Kindle-published or self-published works, which range from “as good as those bestsellers” to “we see why it’s self-published” and every station in between.

There’s the nuclear-apocalypse genre, the zombie-apocalypse genre, the terrible-disease- and supernatural-apocalypse genres (rolled into one in Stephen King’s excellent The Stand) and the bankers-finally-totally-crater-the-economy genre. There are probably more stylistic and thematic divisions than that, but we accept that our mission here is not to be the Linneaus of apocaliterature, rather to call out some unrealistic memes that frequently recur in these works — even the ones by the best writers.

Some of these works are of great literary and instructive merit; some, well, not so much. Apart from the illiterate and the racist stuff (two sets with a considerable intersection), we enjoy reading these things, but our dentist says we need to stop grinding our teeth. And some of the things characters do in these books would make their real lives nasty, brutish, and most assuredly short. And make us grind our teeth. (Bracken, mostly, is an exception: a SEAL, he keeps his characters grounded in the realm of possibility).

Here are things that your characters, should you be moved to go toe-to-toe with Rawles, King, Bracken or Merle, ought not to do: 

1. Assume battles are decided by single combat.

Look, it makes a great story. The Greatest Storyteller Ever has told it (David v. Goliath), and a few pretenders to the Greatest throne have, too (Homer’s Achilles v. Hector, for one; Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book’s glib revision of the David tale, for another). Good guy fights bad guy; bad guy gets whacked; other bad guys throw in the sponge on seeing the defeat of their champion.

It doesn’t work that way in the real world. Any org big enough to have a leader is big enough to have a succession plan, implicit if not explicit. The ancient story you’re channeling is more like Hercules and the Hydra. Solo combat is essentially Suicide By Enemy.

2. Attack combat units with a single deer rifle.

In some cases, the authors have the militia guy defeat entire platoon-sized elements. A few hearty optimists raise this to one-man massacres of companies and battalions. A fact which should be obvious — if they are in engagement range, so are you. Military units can do things to counter sniping that individual combatants cannot — like fire and maneuver.

A rifle is the fundamental infantry weapon, but the rifle does not make the infantry man, let alone the infantry unit. Infantry units have machine guns that can dominate any exposed area for a kilometer and more, and mortars that can extend that domination many times further. And infantry units seldom walk alone. They tie in with other infantry units to their left and right; they advance behind a mailed fist of armor; they employ artillery and air support, with fires preceding them in the advance, shielding them in the defense, and striking precision targets on call.

The Final Protective Fire of an infantry unit is awesome to behold and terrible to experience. But the real reason that, throughout history, well-led militia and irregulars avoid contact with regular infantry, is that infantry units do not only have all this hardware but they have the far more important software — the knowledge, training, skills and experience –to use the hardware to best advantage.

We love Steven Hunter’s books in which a crafty former Marine Scout Sniper takes on various bad guys and (invariably) slays them all. But, while Hunter is an experienced shooter and knows his way around guns, he was never a Marine or a sniper. Real Scout Snipers know their utility to their command comes with how they integrate into an overall plan, often as an intelligence/surveillance/reconnaissance asset. Their weight in the scales of combat is not just the number of enemy Joes they whack.

To put it another way, even the best trained sniper is a retail killer. An artillery battery is wholesale.

3. Do things weapons just can’t do.

We  recall one book where the protagonist made 1000-meter shots with a scoped but otherwise GI Springfield rifle. If you talk to actual combat snipers, ypou’ll find that individual 1000-meter shots with a battle-rifle cartridge like the .30-06 or 7.62 NATO are possible,  but not  by any means routine. And military match ammo is capable of sub-MOA acuracy, but not from a two-groove wartime 1903A3 barrel. Another book had a teenage character who quickly became an expert at, we are not making this up (although the author certainly was) throwing a knife. Not just any knife, either: a Marine Ka-Bar. Knife-throwing is a trick of stage and screen with no application to combat. It’s beloved of Hollywood and by people who, God help them, learn their tactics from Hollywood. Real knife-fighters don’t throw their knives away; and real knife-throwers, Hollywood that they may be, would despair of throwing the blocky Ka-Bar (or most other fighting knives, including the frequently-thrown-on-screen Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife).

In Malevil, Robert Merle takes this surrealistic knife-throwing fancy even deeper into surrealism, by making his expert, miurderous knife-thrower a transvestite.

4. Use single-channel unencrypted voice radios when the enemy is a modern army. 

They have entire units that listen to, decode and locate that stuff, and then pass the information to other units that rain death on the offending location — by means of either precision fires, or heliborne troops.

Your clever CB-radio-guy codes? Broken in seconds. Book codes? Broken in an hour or two without having the book or knowing what it is. And every emitter on the battlefield, whatever else it does, emits one message that you may be sure is taken up by the enemy every time: I am here. Guerilla warfare depends, in part, on the counterinsurgent having difficulties locating the insurgents, because the COIN force can mass, maneuver, and defeat them in detail — Find, Fix and Finish as the Vietnam-era COIN slogan put it, a tactic that forced the NVA and VC to reconstitute hundreds of annihilated units from scratch.

5. Expect the enemy to be significantly dumber than you. 

A lot of survival fiction treats enemies as something with an intellect somewhere between a lobotomized cretin doing the Thorazine Shuffle, and a robot imbued by a mischievious cypherpunk programmer with an impetus to suicide. They act in predictable ways and don’t exploit their advantages, some of which are enumerated above.  So survivors in these works tend to make slipshod tactical errors, which nonetheless go unpunished.

This works in fiction because the author has predetermined the result of the fight, and lobotomized his adverse charaxters appropriately. So they shuffle off, robotically, towards certain doom.

Need we say that real enemies do not and will not act like that? In the nonfictional world, slipshod tactical errors are rapidly and mercilessly punished.

Saturday Matinee 2013 051: Dead Man’s Gun (TV Series)

Dead Man's Gun boxIt’s kind of hard to pigeonhole this Western TV series. Produced by Henry Winkler (yeah, the Fonz), it’s a cross between a traditional Western and a Twilight Zone supernatural series (we’ll get to why anon). Taped in Canada on a tiny budget, and presented on Showtime in two seasons in the late 90s, Dead Man’s Gun is a classic TV outing with very distinct good guys, very distinct bad guys, very predictable plots, and “surprises” you will see coming even if you’re Helen freakin’ Keller. (And she’s dead). It has occasional moments of charm, but they flit away and the leaden didacticism of the show weighs down on you. 

The titular gun is a beautiful, engraved and inlaid, break-action Smith & Wesson Schofield, an unusual choice even though it was a popular gun in its day. (Don’t be misled by the cap-and-ball Colt on the DVD cover. Just Hollywood bozosity). The gun passes through many hands, almost all of whom have mischief befall them. (One exception is Winkler himself, in a guest-star turn as a salesman who impersonates a dead gunslinger-lawman; he’s able to give up the gun and save his life, and presumably soul). 

The show makes it clear that all guns in general are bad news, but this one in particular brings ruination upon the man who wields it. It’s a bit like the One Ring that way, although they never make it clear whether the gun’s steely malevolence is powered by ancient magic, demonic possession, or is just the single worst run of bad luck in Hollywood Western lore.

Louis L’Amour was not available for comment, but we think he rolled over in his grave while we screened a dozen or so episodes of this turkey. We were careful not to say the name of John Wayne three times, lest his shade suddenly apparate and berate us for our bad taste in viewing.

Acting and Production

Dead Man's Gun

Pretty, but evil. Reminds us of Plaintiff Number II. (Image from flickr).

The acting is workmanlike and good, even as the actors get ridiculous lines and hackneyed action scenes to perform. Some of the actors are journeymen; a few are former stars in the “where are they now” stage of their careers. They deserved better from the scripts (by Howard and Ed Spielman) and directors; one hopes at least the checks cleared. Some performances are quite good; Winkler’s salesman, for example, is sweet, a character presaging his performance as a gentle music teacher in Here Come The Boom last year. But for every good character, there’s a cliché. WInkler plays opposite a canned Whore With A Heart of Gold, who never rises above the cliché to become a mere type.

in an example of untruth in packaging, Kris Kristofferson has top billing on the series, but his contribution is a voiceover of the intro and outro of each episode.

The production tries. Verdant western Canada is a poor visual match for the arid altiplano of the American West and Southwest, but rickety building sets stand in well enough for period rickety buildings. Because the show was made for cable, perhaps, it doesn’t have the profusion of mini-cliffhangers and mini-recaps designed to keep American audiences in their seats through the commercial, and remind their small brains what they were watching before the pitch for diet supplements and junk food.

Accuracy and Weapons

Guns are at the center of the story, but neither in a realistic manner, nor in the traditional (if unrealistic) way of a traditional Western. The guns serve a moral purpose as they did back in the days of Tom Mix, but while Mix’s message might have been “fight fair, right will always win,” Dead Man’s Gun sends a message closer to an anachronistic “use your words, child, or you’ll get a time out.” Actually, the message they’re trying to send is “Guns baaaad.” (The message they actually send is: “There’s a reason you only remember Henry Winkler as Fonzie.”)

On the plus side, the show predates CGI so there’s no bad CGI. There is that.

The gun seems to hop around temporally, laying waste wherever it goes (although we might have lost some continuity by skipping episodes).

The bottom line

Dead Man’s Gun is available in several different DVD packages, including a complete set, two complete years, “best of’s” (?), and samplers. We’d recommend giving all of them a miss. If you don’t think we’re serious, try the sampler or “best of” first.

So how much has aviation been cut?

going-out-of-businessRather a lot. We mentioned that the Navy had restricted its pilots to 11 hours a month some time ago. Turns out, according to a Julian Barnes report in the WSJ (if you’re paywalled out, this Google search will get you in), the Air Force is flying even less: a max of 120 hours a year, or 10 a month. The cuts hit junior pilots the hardest:

The training cutbacks have fallen heaviest on younger, more inexperienced pilots. Experienced pilots resumed flying first because they have responsibility for training junior officers. As a result, it takes longer for young pilots to move from wingman to flight lead to instructor pilot, according to the Air Force.

“You know the game chutes and ladders? What we are finding right now is the chutes are longer than the ladders,” said Lt. Col Brian Stahl, a F-16 pilot. “We need to get the younger pilots back flying more, and that is what we are having difficulty doing right now.”

Air Force officials worry that basic skills have grown rusty. “When pilots don’t fly, they make mistakes,” Gen. Field said. “In a high-threat environment is when mistakes become deadly.”

Just flying a high-performance combat jet is pretty dangerous, even before people start shooting at you. Most aircraft communities have some demanding inflight tasks, and most of them are required to be prepared to operate in all weather, around the clock.

It’s important to hone the newbies’ skills so that they’re not dead meat in a fight (or on a partial-panel instrument approach to minimums), but it’s also important to give them flight time, or they’ll hit “eject” — not from the planes they’re not getting to fly, but from the drudgery of a deskbound, ground-locked career. Nobody joined for his additional duties as fire safety officer, classified courier, or Combined Federal Campaign manager.

This has been coming for a while. Back in April, an Air Force general told National Review’s Michael Auslin that the force was “doing more with zero,” and since then, the budget’s been further cut.

Even military pay has been cut — even the disability retirements of the wounded. An attempt to restore that money by cutting a fraud-saturated program that provides cash benefits in the guise of “tax credits” to illegal aliens foundered on a party-line vote this month.

You might think, even if you knew that Chinese pilots fly 150 hours a year, the 120 achieved by USAF jet jockeys is almost comparable, right? Well, not exactly. You see, the only pilots making 120 hours are the ones forward-deployed in South Korea, an unstable place that could go kinetic any time (or could continue to limp along in the cold war of the last sixty years, too). Pilots based in CONUS don’t even get 100 hours a year.

A few years ago, they got 300. Now the most that anyone gets is 150 — and he’s not an American pilot: he’s that guy in the People’s Liberation Army Air Force.

Entire squadrons — four of the six combat squadrons forward-deployed in Europe, for example — have been grounded. From January to April, the readiness of USAF combat units plunged from 83% (not good) to 70% (pretty bad), a general told Auslin, and since April readiness has fallen further still, and now approaches “Hollow Army” levels of the 1970s.

The administration has also canceled the F-22 and is drawing out F-35 production, and the B-1, KC-10, MQ-1 and A-10 fleets are on the bubble (the NDAA, just passed, does direct the USAF to keep the A-10, but doesn’t necessarily provide the money).

But hey, they have ensured readiness… by firing an Air Force general. His crime? Dancing with a suspect Russian woman while on an international nuclear security exercise. Silly general. If he was paying attention, he’d have known that SecDef Hagel and the rest of the E Ring suits wanted to see him dancing with a Russian dude.

Here’s a South African SWA war short

This is a rather well-done short, student film set in a South African military unit during the apartheid state’s border war with the South West Africa People’s Organization, the SWAPO that ultimately became the present-day rules of Namibia (formerly South West Africa, formerly German SWA to 1918).

The film has some conventional ideas about South African whites, English- and Afrikaans-speaking. The hero is the guy who refuses to fight, refuses to submit to the brutal drill corporal. It’s anti-military as much as it is anti-war, but we offer it to you because. as we said, it is well done.

The fellow that posted it has some on-point comments about accuracy

To le Roux’s comments, we’d only add that we’re pretty sure the kevlar style helmets postdate, in SA service, the apartheid state. The depiction of military training is a civilian’s and an example of how movies feed on themselves. Other than that uniforms and weapons seem close to accurate.

Factoid Friday

ITEM: Things that are painful about gun blogging

Getting, thanks to an old friend now in industry, the inside scoop on a very interesting deal — and being sworn to secrecy. Maybe at SHOT. Maybe later. Sorry. (Now we’ve shared our anticistrangulation with you. Heh).

ITEM: Hazards to life

Gun homicides in 2010: 11,078 (CDC). Note that a percentage of these (somewhere between 1/5 and 1/3) are justifiable homicides and accidents that incur charges of negligent homicide, but CDC is too highly politicized to break those out.

Fatal prescription-opioid poisonings in 2010: 16,000 (story does not cite original source).

What the two stats have in common: most murder victims, and most opiate ODs, have made life choices that put them at very high risk of premature death. Sad, really. So much human potential gone to waste.

ITEM: With friends like these…

The New York Post reminds us that, while the .gov seems to leak everything else, they’re still hanging on grimly to a report on indicators of official help from a certain nation’s diplomats and government to the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks. The government seems more interested in keeping some secrets than others. Cripes, we sound like conspiracy nutjobs when we even say that. (The fact that the meat of the report seems to have leaked to the media, though, illustrates the central problem with imagining government conspiracies, namely that three bureaucrats can keep a secret only if all three are dead).

ITEM: With friends like these, domestic edition…

The Republican Party has a great idea for a replacement for New Hampshire’s Senator Jeanne Shaheen, up for election in the New Year, who votes the straight Democrat line on everything, including gun bans. Their brainstorm: rejected Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, who ran as a Tea Party conservative but then voted the straight Democrat line on nearly everything, including several gun bans. Oddly enough, given the choice between a real Democrat (fake Indian and affirmative-action fraudster Elizabeth Warren) and an ersatz one, the predominantly Democratic electorate in Massachusetts chose the real thing. Brown must be hoping that the dissatisfaction with Shaheen is centered on wishy-washy Democrats.

Shaheen is quite unpopular after she voted to dump all the state’s individual insured into third-world coverage, while voting to exempt unions and herself and her staff, which is business as usual for both parties in Washington but plays very poorly in the provinces.

Now national and state-committee Republicans are pushing Brown for the NH seat — so what if he’s a Democrat in Republican drag? He’s been in DC long enough for the lobbyists who own all those people to have him on speed dial, and that’s what counts to the insiders, the only votes that matter. New Hampshire liberal Republicans like Brown, but NH gun owners do not. If Brown beats Shaheen, it’s a negative for gun owners — Shaheen is as anti-gun as Brown (neither differs from extreme anti-gunners like Schumer or Manchin), but she doesn’t give the ban enthusiasts the cover of token bipartisanship. 

ITEM: We like to think anybody can learn to shoot, but there are exceptions.

This guy? Probably not.


He can’t be blamed for still being in his onesie. His mom is behind on doing his laundry.

If we’re going to look at pictures of yout’s in pyjamas, we invite you to compare to Winchester Kid from today’s post on vintage Christmas ads:

winchester christmas



Which one is more grown-up? Hell, which one had chores to do around the house? If we told you one joined the Marines when he left home at 18, and one joined a Dungeons and Dragons group when he didn’t at 28, would you have even a moment’s hesitation before picking the right guy?

ITEM: What does it take to get fired, if you’re a cop?

Being ready to plead to hit-and-run on two kids seems to have risen to the level. (Note that the prosecutor, though, was willing to broom the felony charges out of the usual deference prosecutors have to bad cops. The judge was the one who said basta to that). The cop union, of course, was defending Officer Ka-thump-thump here and demanding he keep his job. After all, the officer got home safe, which is, the union says, the only thing that matters. As the Beatles once sang, “The judge may disagree, and he tells them so, oh oh oh.” The kids survived their injuries, no thanks to the cop and his union Rose and Valerie.

ITEM: If you shopped at Target, you just might be one.

A target, that is. The company’s government-IT-quality network administrators gave up over 40 million credit and debit card numbers and related account information. The numbers they lost to a fraud ring were the ones of cards customers used in the firm’s roughly 2,000 North American stores. It wasn’t just their computer security that was so inept it was governmental, but also their reaction: they subsequently hired a firm not of security experts, but of crisis PR managers. (Later they contracted security experts — but they sure saved money on them when they were designing the network in the first place!).

If you haven’t done your Christmas shopping yet, you might not want to do it there. (What good are they anyway? No guns).

ITEMS: The Off Topic Stuff we thought was interesting

OT: We often sound off with words to the general idea that: reporters are bums. Former DC and national political reporter Sam Youngman would agree with us, at least as far as his former colleagues — and his former self — are concerned. Now he is writing local news, and happy. Good on him. An interesting story of ego and redemption. (We suspect that it helped him Come To Jesus, that he has a brother in the service).

OT: Ever wonder why everybody at Harvard gets A’s? Yet, when you meet them in the “real” world, they seem to be struggling with the sort of perceptive and cognitive scurvy associated with a profound Vitamin Clue deficiency? A deep-seated mole leaked the grading rubric that explains all.

A few Christmas gift ideas from the past

Just because these ads are old, doesn’t mean any one of them is a bad idea. The British, whose chains rest lightly on their shoulders, don’t get it; an excited Chris Pleasance in the Daily Mail seems Shocked!, Shocked! that we barbarians in the Colonies once gave guns as Christmas gifts, but reassures him/her/it-self that the ads are “outdated.”

Hmm. These ads do date from the 1950s and 1960s, but nobody better tell Chris that more guns are being given and received under this year’s Christmas tree than were when the ads ran. And kids will still look like this happy guy when they open the long rectangular package:

winchester christmas

Once, a kid reacted much like that to find his first .22 — a Winchester, as it happens — under the tree. His Dad bought it for him, despite Dad not caring much for guns; because it was what the kid wanted. He was an incipient WeaponsMan, after all.

Thanks, Dad. The Winchester is still in a place of pride alongside guns that are insured for orders of magnitude more, but are worth orders of magnitude less.

As the labels on the images show, but the ingrate Pleasance and his tabloid don’t actually say, the ads came from, an interesting source of midcentury style. They were posted on Retronaut a couple of years ago.

Along with Winchester, we have Remington, Browning, and High Standard as well. They’re over the jump to keep the front page lean — click “more” to see them, or click on through to the Daily Mail to see them with mildly appalled British condescension, or to Retronaut to find them amid the cars with jaunty tailfins and men in snappy hats.

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