A Whole Other Way to Look at Syria




We recommend that everyone read them in order, including our Russian and pro-Russian readers.

Adams concludes, in the first post, that we probably won’t ever know what is really happening over there. After throwing out some intriguing suggestions, and pointing out something that Russia’s partisans and agents have noted: a chemical attack would be illogical for Assad, since he was winning conventionally. If not Assad, then who?

If faked, by whom? For what reason?

Adams’s “persuasion” prism is a very useful way of looking at things that are caught up in propaganda.

Weapons Usage: The False Lure of Symmetry

Like the proud hammer owner who saw each problem as a nail, we tend to project our own tactical equipment, skills and training on to potential adversaries. Symmetry. But tactically, symmetry is a false pursuit.

Some examples of symmetry as practiced in training and planning:

  1. Fighter pilots train extensively as if their primary mission is to fight other fighters;
  2. Tankers expect to fight tank-on-tank;
  3. Any sniper will tell you the best way to disrupt an enemy sniper is to countersnipe him;
  4. Most armed self-defenders train for the one v one encounter.

But these things “everybody knows” are not necessarily true. For example, fighter-on-fighter combat started because the fighters of each side in WWI wanted to scratch their enemy’s eyes out — in the form of his reconnaissance planes. The canny fighter pilot declines combat with enemy fighters to go after those aircraft that are actually enabling the enemy’s overall war aims. Or as the leaders of The Few insisted, “Go after the bombers!” While tank-v-tank makes a great sporting event, tanks win battles and wars when they blast through the enemy’s armored carapace and run rampant in his innards, or rear area: Patton, Guderian, and Zhukov all instinctively grasped this, as did many others.

Take countersniping. As the Australian Army battled the Japs for the archipelagos north of Australia, their arsenal at Lithgow struggled to make the sniper rifles they needed to countersnipe the Japanese soldiers — who were, the Aussies grimly admitted, pretty good at sniping. Lacking the patience to await Lithgow filling their open orders, the Australians improvised countersniper teams with what they had. One man would use a helmet or other item as a decoy, to induce the sons of Nippon to fire. Rather than plunk a .303 slug into the Japanese sniper’s braincase through his lens set, as Hollywood would have it, they’d simply fill his leafy perch with lead from a BREN Gun. The lack of precise address for their poison-pen letter would be overcome by junk-mailing the entire block, in other words.

If it’s crude and it works, is it really crude? The BREN magdump approach usually resulted in a surprised oriental gentleman tumbling dead from his tree.

Sure, setting a sniper against a sniper can work, but the BREN Gun works even if you only get an approximate idea of where the enemy sniper is hiding.

But people still want symmetry — to match like to like. In the real world, you want to exploit asymmetry, not try to merely match what the enemy is doing. You want to overmatch him. You want to tumble him, deader’n disco, from his tree.

This works at strategic as well as tactical level. Little Japan wasn’t permitted (by interwar arms-reduction treaties) to build as many battleships as England or the USA. So the Japanese went all-in for naval aviation, and surprised not only slumbering America but also the world.

So why do we still match like to like? A lot of this flows from Hollywood single-combat mythos. You know, the way every action movie from before the talkies to the ones in the cinema now, ends just the same way — with the hero squaring off in mortal single combat with the villain. Sometimes, the hero theatrically discards a weapon to put himself on the same level as his opponent — to fight fair.

In the real world, nobody with half a lick of sense fights fair. Or, as the instructors at SF school were inclined to say, “If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’.” This pithy folk wisdom has an important corollary: “If you get caught, you’re tryin’ too hard.”

If you’re ever brainstorming out a combat or self-defense approach, it’s a useful brain housing group exercise to work it out both symmetrically and asymmetrically, and see which one more nearly meets your objectives.

Most of the time, it will be the asymmetric approach — if you dare to use it.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Peter Laidler Armorer Articles

This is something odd: we’re linking to one thread of a forum, the Canadian-based milsurps.eh (just kidding, milsurps.com), and what’s more, it’s one thread that only has one post.

Why in the name of St. Gretzky would we do that?

Well, it’s what a post it is! The post links to more than two dozen technical articles by former British armorer, Captain Peter Laidler. If you want to know more about the Lee-Enfield, British telescopic sights, or even BREN Gun parts, Laidler’s your huckleberry:

Capt. Peter Laidler is the senior Armourer in the UK Military, now retired, but based as a Technical Officer at the UK Military Small Arms School. On behalf of MILSURPS.COM members, we’d like to publicly thank him for his support of this forum, as well the broader Lee Enfield collector community in general.

There’s a great deal of information there for those interested in British weapons development, technology and maintenance of the 20th Century. Go to the link, and start working your way through some historic British technology. Enjoy!


A Mess of Accidents, April’s Fools 2017

It’s been a while, and so it’s time for another Mess of Accidents, in which people go bang unintentionally, go bang in the wrong direction, in the wrong place, into the wrong person (indeed, anybody you shoot without having decided to use deadly force on that person is by definition the wrong person, or in any of a myriad of other ways, used a firearm to pin the tail on the donkey — himself.

Make what you will of the fact that these roundups are almost always all guys, even with more women shooting all the time. Do women use more intelligence? Use fewer and lower dosages of mind-altering substances? Or just not operate firearms with their heads up their fourth point of contact? Requires further research.

Anyway, here’s our shootin’ fools for April. Some of them are crushingly tragic; others are bleakly comical.

Long, Long Ago: The Range Jedi

This is an old YouTube, but it’s still as entertaining as it ever was.

“Seein’ as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and it can blow the acoustic ceiling tiles clean off, you gotta ask yourself one question: do you feel stupid? Well, do ya… punk?”

Lee Paige was not available for comment.

Item 7 April: The Etymology of “Expert”

Not to reprise the last bit of dumbassery, but unless you’ve been under a rock, or relying on WeaponsMan for all your daily news (not recommended… like the Pizza Diet), you’ve probably heard that an NRA pro plugged himself during training at the organization’s Fairfax, VA headquarters’ indoor range.

An employee suffered a minor injury when he accidentally discharged a firearm at the on-site gun range of the National Rifle Association headquarters near Fairfax.

The employee was participating in firearms training at the gun range at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to Fairfax County police.

The man, 46, was holstering a pistol when the firearm discharged. He was taken to the hospital for a minor wound to the lower body.

Love that passive voice. “it discharged.” Yeah, that’s the ticket. “There I was, officer, mindin’ my own business, when that there FARR-arm up an’ started DISS-chargin’ issef. Don’t go doubtin’ me: I am a expert!”

A friend reminds us that expert comes from ex- , “former”,  and spurt, “a drip under pressure.”

We’ll just remind you that beginners often know that they’re beginners, and exercise a salutary caution around deadly firearms. “Experts” get complacent. Don’t get complacent; it can happen to you, and that’s how.

Item 8 April: But He Said It Wasn’t Loaded Dep’t

Teenagers playing with a gun. What could possibly go wrong? Well, this:

[17-year-old Chris] Perez was with several other juveniles at a gathering at a home in the 3900 block of Orchard Drive. Pennsylvania State Police at  Fogelsville said several juveniles were involved when a gun went off about 3:40 p.m. Saturday.

Perez’s aunt told The Morning Call that her nephew was hanging out with friends when one pulled out a hunting rifle and started showing it around.

[She] reportedly said the teens were passing the rifle back and forth to one another when her nephew asked if the rifle was loaded, and was told no. He was then somehow shot in the stomach, the aunt told The Morning Call.

Rushed to the hospital after the panicking kids finally called 911, where he died. No charges, at least, not yet.

Neighbors told 69 News WFMZ-TV that they saw a group of kids running back and forth from the home right before police arrived.

Geez, they’re too young to understand that old news doesn’t get better with age, and hiding witnesses or evidence never hides ’em for long.

Item 21 Mar: Stupid Is As Stupid Does

This one’s a lot like the mishap above, only with adults, in Mississippi. Local paper:

Chief Deputy Ward Calhoun said the men were showing each other their guns in the residence and one forgot the check the loaded gun when it was passed back to him. The man didn’t realize the chamber of the gun, which operated similar to a Glock, had been pulled back.

Ah, reporters. Where would we be without them? “The chamber of the gun, which operated similar to a Glock, had been pulled back.” What fresh glockenspiel is this? On the other hand, as annoying as they are, it wasn’t one of them that did this: 

When he attempted to pull the trigger to check the gun it went off, accidentally shooting another man in the back.

The guy is expected to recover. No word on how he’s getting along with the back-shootin’ polecat that gunned him down.

And one more thing: perhaps it’s a factor that this event occurred some time after 0200? Color us cynical, but we detect a whiff of Judgment Juice™.

Meanwhile, in Chicongo

HeyJackass.com reports that the criminal contingent hasn’t had a single “selfie” ND… all month. There were two each in January, February and March, and April is still young. And it’s impossible to know if any of the 155 shot and killed and 702 shot and wounded there so far in 2017 were NDs (and yes, these numbers are subject to change — in one direction, anyway).

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Knives

In New Jersey, guns are outlawed sufficiently that cops run out of state license plates and make pretextual stops on any traveler who comes up with an LTC from his home state. But those same cops can’t be bothered to get control of the gangs in Newark and Camden. Yet, despite the focus on gun-owning transients, New Jerseyites keep getting dead anyway. Funny how that happens.

The man who found his wife and 6-year-old son stabbed to death in their Maple Shade apartment said that the bodies were in a bed and that he had “no idea” what had happened to them, according to a recording of the call released Monday by the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office.

“They both have blood everywhere,” Hanumantha Rao Narra told a dispatcher, saying he had just come home from work.

A dispatcher, recounting what Narra had described, then transferred the call to another dispatcher and explained, “There’s no weapons, there’s nothing. But he’s saying that they’re not breathing and there’s blood everywhere, and he doesn’t know what happened to them.”

This is a very, very strange case, for reasons we’ll elaborate on in a minute.

The second dispatcher asked Narra about his wife’s and son’s conditions.

“I feel like they both are dead,” Narra told the dispatcher, who then asked whether Narra could do CPR.

“No, you can’t! Their throat is slit,” a woman in the background yelled. Narra had told dispatchers a neighbor was with him.

Another strange detail. Who comes home with a neighbor?

Sasikala Narra, 38, and son Anish, 6, had been stabbed multiple times in the unit in the Fox Meadow Apartments just off Route 73, where police responded around 9 p.m. March 23. Family friends said they had stab wounds to their faces and hands.

No arrests have been made.

Normally in a case like this, the husband would be the first person of interest. First, sad to say, that’s who’s usually to blame in the murder of a woman and child. Second, a stabbing — a killing with a personal, up-close weapon — is much more often a personal crime by someone who knew and loved/hated the victim, than it is a stranger crime.

Hanumantha Narra had just returned home from a work happy-hour party and was in “shell shock” when he discovered the bodies, according to an interview he gave on a YouTube channel. It was posted a day after the murders.

via ‘Blood everywhere:’ Maple Shade man finds wife, 6-year-old son stabbed to death.

That Mr Narra is not in custody, and that he had no problem getting permission to take the victims back to their native India, suggests that police have completely ruled him out as a suspect in the homicide. There may be strong evidence he didn’t do it (his alibi is solid, he wasn’t bloody, etc.), but it’s possible he’s still a suspect, just suspected of having the crime done indirectly. Still, a killer not personally connected to the crime and not personally motivated seems an unlikely candidate for a brutal slashing like this.

Then again, trying to form an understanding of criminals in a non-criminal mind is a quest that’s probably doomed to failure. But it’s quite possible that Hanumantha Narra, too, is a victim in this barbarous crime. We forget, sometimes, that along with “the” victim — “the complainant,” as some agencies term a murder victim, as if he or she showed up at Homicide grousing and demanding justice — a whole family, great or small, are victims in every homicide. May God (or gods, assuming they’re Hindu) grant them mercy and peace.

Syrian Sarin Update: Khan Shaykhun à son goût

Here’s the telegraphic version, from PJ Media’s Bridget Johnson. It should answer some of your questions after Friday’s cruise-missile attack.

A “background briefing” is one in which the reporters can use the information but not attribute it by name to the individuals providing it. (There’s often a generic “source” specified, like this report’s “NSC Officials.” For those interested in the mechanics, there are several variations of source/reporter interaction, explained from the j-school point of view here).  In the instant case, Johnson reports..

An American View

NEWS: National Security Council officials just held a background briefing with reporters on the declassified intel assessment of last week’s chemical attack on Khan Shaykhun, Syria. Full story coming soon, but a few takeaways:

  • Sarin confirmed as the nerve agent used via testing on victims as well as symptoms. Secondary responders also suffered exposure symptoms.
  • Su-22s from Shayrat airfield dropped the sarin on Khan Shaykhun; conventional weapons were dropped about six hours later on hospital treating sarin victims – “no comment” from officials on if Russia did latter.
  • No ISIS or other terrorists in area have sarin (just mustard gas) – attack was “not a terrorist holding of sarin or a terrorist use of sarin”
  • WH official on if Russia, present at airfield, knew of sarin attack: “We don’t have information on that per se… still looking into that.” Adding: “We do think that it is a question worth asking” Russians how they were with Syrian forces at airfield “and did not have knowledge” of the attack in planning/prep stages.
  • “Leakage inconsistent” with Russians saying sarin came from opposition stocks on ground – “we don’t see a building with that chemical residue”
  • On Syria hoax conspiracy theories: Body of evidence “too massive” for anyone to fabricate. Official added that videos released of attack did correspond with that date, time, location.

A Russian View

So that’s the American spin. Opposed to that, we have the Russian propaganda outlet Anna News getting the Syrian spin on things, on the target airfield. Much of what reporter Sergei Bayduk has to say is bullshit, but the images are interesting. He identifies the same two a/c hulks we have seen as a MiG-23 (presumably the “monkey model” the Soviets furnished to allies) and an Su-22. Swing-wing jets of the 60s and 70s.

Bayduk makes the valid point that the attack did not close the airfield for long. The attack kicked off at oh-dark-thirty, lasted about a half an hour, and after the all clear they quickly repaired the airfield and were flying by daybreak. (Here, the rugged design of Soviet / Russian landing gear pays big dividends, as the planes are designed to land on completely unimproved surfaces, so there’s no problem landing and taking off on a runway that’s only had hasty repairs).

You have to wonder what the old Soviet authorities were thinking (back in the Brezhnev days) to transfer biological and chemical weapons to guys like Khadafy, Saddam Hussein and Assad père. They do realize that if these guys used these weapons on their enemy, Israel, the Israelis would most probably respond with their only WMD: nukes. But then again, in Brezhnev’s day they built the reactor at Chernobyl (he was dead and gone when it went FOOM).

We spent some time at a base in Uzbekistan that was, we discovered, contaminated with just about everything imaginable, including chemical weapons, biological toxins and spores, and ionizing radiation from two HASes in which aircraft had been blown up about like the ones you see here. There was a story the Uzbek AF officers told, but we didn’t know whether to credit it or not. There were also Soviet era crash sites all over the field… the first years of jet fighters look like they were just as unsafe in the Soviet Air Force as in its American counterpart.

Of course, Uzbekistan is a different matter, perhaps, as it was one of 15 Republics of the USSR, sovereign Soviet territory, when the A-VMF stockpiled WMDs there.

While the USSR sponsored some real bastards, the US in turn sponsored plenty of bastards of our own. Some of the places that were once dictatorships aren’t, now.

Returning to Syria, it sounds as if President Trump does not want to engage against Assad or make regime change his objective — the purpose of the strike was to send a message: chemical weapons are not OK.

We have our qualms about using the military for message-sending.

An Australian View

Every major nation has its own defense intellectuals, if not its own think tanks, and they often come at problems from new directions. For example, the Lowy Institute for International Policy (Sydney, Australia) has an interesting and deep analysis of the Khan Shaykhoun attack, which it calls out as very different from the attacks which have gone before. Here’s a taste:

Although chemical attacks against the Syrian population have continued over the past four years the Khan Sheikhoun attack is significantly different. After the August 2013 sarin attacks, Syria was compelled to join the Chemical Weapons Convention, declare all its chemical weapons and disarm. Chlorine barrel bombs were used after that, but their manufacture seemed makeshift and they were clearly not part of Syria’s former military chemical arsenal. Chlorine barrel bombs are a violation of the CWC but their possession does not indicate that Syria’s 2013 declaration of its chemical weapons was incorrect. Chlorine, if used for industrial reasons, is excluded.

Over the past few years CWC member states have expressed concern that Syria’s chemical declaration is inaccurate and incomplete. Indeed over the past two years the OPCW has held continuing discussions with Syria to resolve discrepancies, so far without success. Although the nature of these discussions is confidential, statements made by various delegates to the OPCW suggest that although the majority of Syria’s chemical holdings were disclosed, details are missing on a broad range of issues, including on munitions and manufacture.

The Khan Sheikhoun attack now appears to be demonstrable proof that Syria’s CWC declaration, the basis for its chemical disarmament, is inaccurate. At the very least, Syria has retained undeclared stocks of a nerve agent, possibly sarin in binary form, and the munitions to deliver it. What other chemical weapons may be undeclared can only be speculated on, but given the recent event it is reasonable to assume that some exist.

We strongly recommend anyone interested Read The Whole Thing™.  We can’t disagree with author Rod Barton’s conclusions:

[I]t is difficult to envisage what measures, political or military, the US could realistically take to bring Syria to account. In all probability, the abhorrent Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack is likely to be lost in the wider Syrian crisis, with its almost 5 million external refugees, its growing internal humanitarian needs and its political complexity.

As depressing and alarming as it is, the world may therefore expect that Syria will continue to use its remaining chemical weapons against its populace, whenever it chooses and with relative impunity.

Emergency at Hog Manor

Note to loyal readers: the usual 0600 gun tech or culture post will not be presented today, due to a veterinary emergency. We meant to clean up the post we had half-drafted this morning, but Small Dog Mk II is pain guarding and on closer inspection appears to have an extra joint in his leg (as a dog diagnostician, we usually stick to malfunctioning firearms, but we’re calling it probable tib/fib fracture, until we can get pro eyes on and x-rays).

First noticed it at midnight. Didn’t hear a yelp or yip, but our best guess is he conducted a substandard PLF on his descent from the recliner after Chair Time last night (usually his favorite). We carried him up the stairs (not the usual drill) and down the stairs this morning (which is the usual drill).

The patient is sleeping quietly, waiting for Regular Vet to open in a little bit. We’ll see whether Regular Vet has this, or whether we’ll have to take him to Big City Referral Hospital for surgery. He’s going to hate this as the weather has been summery warm, his favorite for walks and chasing squirrels, chipmunks, turkeys, cats, and once, a fisher. (Yeah. Twice his size. You know how people are always telling you they got the smartest dog? We got the other one).

We regret the lack of a tech post this morning; normal scheduled posts resume at 1100 with an update of sorts on the US strike in Syria as seen by various participants and observers. We will keep you posted on the little guy’s progress, look for UPDATE below.

And from here on out, he always gets lifted up and set down, no matter how much he wants to jump.

Update 0850

We’re back from the vet, both of us, and as a dog diagnostician Your Humble Blogger really stinks… more like a dog hypochondriac. Injury is not a break, but a sprain from which SDMkII is already recovering.

But what about the “extra joint”? He’s double-jointed in the wrists, which gives him his weird dachshund stance, and the Dumbass Dog Diagnostician was misreading that.

** hangs up stethoscope in shame, sentences self to three remedial episodes of Dr Jeff **

Vet bill: $59. Paid with something approximating glee. By then he was scampering around, bugging an incredibly fluffy white Samoyed that was the doc’s next appointment. We didn’t disrupt the vet’s schedule, because her first appointment canceled. She did have a pretty good laugh at the expense of a dog and his worry-wart Hog(nose).

Coming home, hadn’t put down the garage door when we went out, and an immense grey patchy cat, possibly a Maine Coon, came rocketing out. On exiting the car, SDMkII, all pain-guarding forgotten, launched into Great White Hunter mode and didn’t come back until he had treed the cat. We believe the cat to be a neighbor’s cat gone astray, and would like to catch her for that reason (if it’s the right cat, she’s chipped) but SDMkII wants to catch her for another reason entirely, so odds are we won’t be seeing that cat again.

On the gripping hand, there will be cat pawprints on yesterday’s freshly painted airplane parts in Stall 3. Infernal beasts, both of them.

Update 1400

Small Dog Mk II is showing absolutely no signs of having been showing signs. We reckon too many vet shows on Animal Planet with Dr Blue, Dr Dee, Dr Jeff, or one of their fellow professionals looking at the camera, saying, “well, the injury was just too old, but dogs do fine on three legs,” springloads us in the go-to-the-vet position. It helps that our vet is right in town, a five minute drive away. (10 if it’s drop-off time at the middle school. Can’t the Snowflakes take the bus like we did? Apparently not, as the traffic jam of Audis, Beemers, Benzes, Lexuses (Lexi?) and other helicopter-mom conveyances demonstrates. No Bentleys or Maseratis — even here, those kids go to Phillips Exeter, where they get diddled by one of the teachers and arrive at Yarvard already screwed up for life).

Van’s Aircraft divides its construction plans into Sections, and the Sections have numbered pages. So while the Blogbrother has been buried starting what he swears is his Last IT Job And I Mean It This Time, we’ve tackled the parts prep and prestationing for Pages 21-02, -03, -04, -05 and -06. Parts prep involves removing protective plastic, sometimes tripping parts, deburring and countersinking and dimpling as needed, and generally making the parts fit to snap together and rivet permanently. There’s a rather fiddly bit of filing and fitting on Page 21-02, and the parts for -04 through -06 still need further prep, but we should be able to put on a burst of productivity.

Help a Brother Out?

A lot of you know Angus McThag, an occasional reader and a blogger in his own right. He’s the one responsible for this little delight that’s making the rounds:

Why So Many Guns?

Because one is none.

Two is one.  But one is none, so two is none.

Three is just one plus two, which is none plus none, so three is none.

Four is just two times two, which is none times none, or none.

Five is just two plus three, (none plus none) or one (none) plus four (none).  Five is none.

And it just keeps progressing from there.

Mathematically proven!

You cannot own enough guns to have one gun.  So all that money on guns, you spent it on nothing.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Broomsticks

Philip (l) and Simmons (r). Or maybe it’s the other way around.

It’s hard to imagine a place where guns are more outlawed than they are here — a prison warehousing, inter alia, the worst of the worst in South Carolina’s prisons.

Yet somehow, these two guys, already doing an overly-generous life sentence for one adult and one child murder, each, managed to team up and knock off four of their fellow yardbirds — one of the victims a lifer for murder himself.

Denver Simmons and Jacob Philip lured each of the four inmates into a cell at Kirkland Correctional Institution in Columbia on Friday morning, then worked together to attack and choke them, according to arrest warrants released early Saturday.

Two of the inmates were also beaten or stabbed with a broken broomstick, according to the warrants released by State Law Enforcement Division agents.

The warrants gave no reason for the attacks and did not indicate how long it took the prisoners to kill their fellow inmates. They did say there is video of the killings and the men confessed to investigators.

One wonders why both of these mother-and-child killers never got the sentence they had coming — God’s own Recall Notice. Maybe they’ll get it this time. Because, with the proper penalty off the table because judges and lawyers tend to love criminals and hate victims, there’s really nothing that can be done to these guys. Frankly, a healthy society would tissue type them and keep them around until some ill person needs their organs. The Chinese have that right.

These guys have no further utility as human beings; part ’em out for the greater good of mankind. If you want to repent and save your soul, fine and good, but your liver and kidneys belong to the next non-felon in need.

The Corrections Department will conduct an internal investigation into the killings after the criminal investigation is finished, Corrections Department Director Bryan Stirling told The Associated Press on Saturday.

Because of the ongoing investigation, Stirling would not talk about whether prison policies were broken or how the inmates came to be together.

We can practically write the report that they’re presently stalling on. It will be written entirely in the passive voice, and no individual will be held accountable.

That did not require Nostradamus levels of prophecy, really.

Prison records show the four inmates killed were considered minimum security risks. The Kirkland prison serves several roles in South Carolina’s system. It operates a specialized housing unit for the state’s most dangerous inmates, an assessment and evaluation center for new inmates sentenced to more than three months, and a 24-bed infirmary, according to the Corrections website.

Every soldier learns to do the 5 S’s with prisoners: Secure, Search, Segregate, Safeguard, and Speed to the rear. (Those might be out of order. DILLIGAF? No). Looks like this was a major dropped ball in the Segregate and Safeguard columns. SHU inmates should never come into contact with campers.

The interesting thing would be knowing why these guys did it; the corrections bureaucracy probably can’t figure that out, so we’ll pencil in, “because they like killing people?”

Simmons, 35, has been behind bars since his 2007 arrest on charges he killed a woman he knew in Colleton County, took her debit card and ate pizza for lunch, then got her 13-year-old son from school and killed him too.

We like pizza too much, but if we ever said we’d kill for it, it was hyperbole, honest.

Philip, 25, has been in prison since 2013. Authorities said he strangled his girlfriend and her 8-year-old daughter in Berkeley County.

Hey, after the first murder, as these two who now share a body count of eight have learned, the rest are all free.

Maybe we need to relook our justice system with a view to incentives.

Prison records show Simmons has three disciplinary infractions in four years for being out of place, disrespect and refusing to obey an order. Philip has no disciplinary actions against him in nearly two years in state prison.

Records did not show if the inmates had lawyers.

Maybe the dead inmates’ lawyers can get all caught up in torts with the killer inmates’ lawyers, keeping both sets of lawyers from freeing more monsters like these to kill normal human beings? Well, we know the odds, but don’t steal our dreams, please.

On the plus side, none of the deceased leaves a church choir short one tenor:

The four inmates killed were John King, 52; Jason Kelley, 35; Jimmy Ham, 56; and William Scruggs, 44, prison officials said.

King was serving time for a variety of crimes and had a projected release date of October 2020. Kelley was serving 15 years for assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. He was scheduled for release in August 2020.

Ham was scheduled for release this November after serving a sentence for a variety of offenses. Scruggs was sentenced to life in prison for murder and first-degree burglary.

via Convicted murderers serving life terms strangle four inmates | New York Post.

Well, now they’ll really throw the book at these two jitbags. Why maybe they’ll get another life sentence, in case they somehow survive the first one!

The Navy’s Oxygen Thieves

You may have seen headlines lately about the Navy’s problem with pilots sucking air, or rather, oxygen, or rather rather (and here is the nub of the problem) lack of oxygen.

This has been in the news lately because the Navy’s O2 delivery failures are so profound that men are coming to fear their jets. This spring, the plane in the hot seat is the T-45C Goshawk trainer, a derivative of the British BAE Hawk (but among the US systems on the Navy version is the problematic oxygen system). The Navy took all 197 of its T-45Cs off the flight schedule for three days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), and Navy boffins interviewed the troubled T-45 IPs at length, although the planes were supposed to have been back in the air yesterday, with the unidentified problem still unidentified.

The concerns arose from physiological episodes caused by contamination of the aircraft’s Onboard Oxygen Generation System, the Navy said.

Navy engineers earlier this week conducted interviews with the T-45C pilots.

The T-45 problem is severe, with the fleet averaging three incidents a week of “physiological episodes” suspected to be due to OBOGS failure or underperformance (“suspected” because there’s no solid evidence apart from the ramp-up in incidents). Some pilots are flying, but not wearing their oxygen masks, relying instead on the airplane’s pressurized cockpit — a system for which the mask is considered a mandatory backup.

The safety concerns are driving Naval Aviation wild.

This issue is my number one safety priority and our team of NAVAIR program managers, engineers and maintenance experts in conjunction with Type Commanders, medical and physiological experts continue to be immersed in this effort working with a sense of urgency to determine all the root causes of PEs along multiple lines of effort,” said Vice Adm. [Mike] Shoemaker [Naval Air Forces Commander].

However, this is not entirely new news. Consider this story:

[T]he head of naval aviation said this week that resolving the dangerous problem is his top safety priority.

Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, the commander of Naval Air Forces, told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies this week that Marine Corps and Navy aviation leaders were pushing forward with a multi-pronged approach that included better training for pilots and a close analysis of apparent problems with the onboard oxygen generation system.

“Where cabin pressurization has issues, we’ve adjusted the warnings we get in the cockpit and adjusted the emergency procedures for how we respond to various scenarios,” Shoemaker said. “We’ve been out to the fleet to talk about how to test, how the maintainers work and maintain those systems.”

Sounds like damn near the same quote, but it’s from August 2016, and the plane having OBOGS problems was the F-18 series. And they’re still having OBOGS problems, too. All in all, the Navy has lost at least 15 lives due to what they euphemistically term “physiological episodes” — and the Air Force, you may recall, had OBOGS trouble with the F-22A, as well.

Combat Aviation Oxygen in a Nutshell

Oxygen sustains most life, including human life. Humans evolved near sea level in an atmosphere with about 21% oxygen, and we need to have a good percentage of that to function at all. But as the air thins, and the pressure of air goes down, at altitude, the partial pressure of O2 declines concomitantly.

Lack of sufficient partial pressure of oxygen leads to oxygen-poor blood, in medical terms, “histotoxic hypoxia.” To make it worse, the symptoms of hypoxia are a bit like the symptoms of ethanol intoxication,  in that the first thing that goes is the victim’s judgment about his own intoxication and abilities.

So as far back as the 1920s, aviation physiologists and flight surgeons understood that to fly at altitude, H. sapiens must have supplemental oxygen. This can be in a pressurized cockpit or cabin (which is why you don’t die in the thin air of Flight Level 350), or with supplemental oxygen breathed through a nasal cannula (only used in small private planes to 18,000 feet) or oxygen mask.

There are three main ways to provide the breathing oxygen: compressed in gas form in a pressurized tank, in liquid form with a generator that converts the LOX to breathable oxygen gas, or through the use of an On Board Oxygen Generation System (OBOGS), which uses chemical reactions to produce oxygen on the fly

The OBOGS has a number of advantages:

  1. It does not depend on installed tankage for gaseous or liquid oxygen, therefore it is theoretically a “bottomless” supply for missions of arbitrary duration;
  2. it is much lighter and takes up less space, thereby allowing designers to increase the aircraft’s performance (in line with Bréguet’s Range Equations);
  3. It is less vulnerable or vulnerability-enhancing to a combat aircraft than a tank full of ready oxidant, for reasons that should be obvious;
  4. Digitally controlled, in theory it is more easily and comprehensively monitored.

Oxygen generators have also their own disadvantages:

  1. Those that generate O2 from chemical reaction can be a fire hazard. Oxygen generators are commonly used for emergency oxygen on transport aircraft, led to the ValuJet onboard fire and crash in Florida. A similar device used in submarines, a Self Contained Oxygen Generator, exploded on the British sub HMS Tireless in 2007 due to oil contamination, killing two submariners and gravely injuring a third. (The UK sub fleet had numerous other fires and failures with the devices).
  2. They are much more complex than tank and LOX systems.
  3. They contain a catalyst that is supposed to enable trapping the nitrogen and releasing oxygen and inert argon. But the system is dependent on the catalyst, and the Navy’s initial catalyst is unavailable.
  4. They are so dependent on dry intake air that they are critically vulnerable to moisture and contaminants. And an airplane that is launched by steam catapult from a ship heaving in salt-water seas, and that gets soaked in fuel during aerial refueling, is practically a petri dish for contamination.

For a good overview of the problem by an aviation-literate writer, see this report by David Cencotti at The Aviationist.

For an aircrew perspective, try this article by an F-18 WSO (wait, what does an F-18 Guy In Back do? Aside from take the ugly chick at the O-Club? He’s the second aviator in a one-crew ship).

For a good, graphics-rich (if promotional) walkthrough of the physiological and technical issues with Gaseous O2 (GOX) and LOX that led to OBOGS, see this file from Honeywell (.pdf). It’s somewhat dated (2008, featuring abandoned jets like the Nimrod and F-14), but the principles are adequately explained. Note that every type has its own, unique, OBOGS.


The Navy has extended the grounding of the T-45C fleet indefinitely.