All lights green, all systems GO

What the heck happened to February?  Seems just a week ago I was filling out reams of pre-employment paperwork and spending a fortune on marksmanship gear, and as of today, I have four nights left at home before reporting to Eglin AFB for range qualification for a week, then moving my butt up to Cambridge to sit in a corporate apartment for a month while I look for listings my wife might deign to evaluate for purchase.

She, in the meantime, has to select a brokerage to handle the sale of this house we’ve lived in for sixteen years (we have a choice of two, interviewed one yesterday and another is coming on Friday), organize with an “estate sale” firm who will assist her in getting rid of all the stuff we don’t want to take with us, stage the house, and put it on the market, and deal with the movers.  She’s done all of this countless times, of course, with every PCS (Permanent Change of Station) we made while I was in the army, but she’s not looking forward to it.

Luckily her birthday is on Saturday, and I’ve made reservations at a Brazilian steakhouse for the two of us – One last indulgence before being separated for a month with little time to talk to each other.  Good grief, it feels like a deployment, or my staff time as an S-3 (Plans & Operations) when I was a Major – TDY (Temporary Duty) here, there, and anon, keeping me away from home for extended periods.

OK, perhaps not a deployment.  This time no one will be shooting back at me (unless a disgruntled MIT student busts a cap in my a** – Unlikely, since I’m not faculty, just a staff member on the ballistics and trajectory team…I won’t be grading anyone).  But TDY?  Oh yeah.  This is the civilian version of TDY.

Anyhow, I’m all packed, the flu has passed, I’m taking a break from the range today to take eldest daughter clothes shopping, and there’s Portuguese red wine to look forward  to on Saturday evening.  The only fear I have is the fear of how much I’m going to miss my bride for this upcoming month…I really am quite fond of her.

And don’t think the irony of starting a new job where I’ll be firing small arms every day at work in the midst of the latest “ban all the guns” furor escapes me – It amuses me mightily.

Here’s some morning reading for you while I suffer at the mall:

On Monday, as the news of the Virginia Tech shootings was unfolding, I went into my advanced constitutional law seminar to find one of my students upset. My student, Tara Wyllie, has a permit to carry a gun in Tennessee, but she isn’t allowed to have a weapon on campus. That left her feeling unsafe. “Why couldn’t we meet off campus today?” she asked.

Virginia Tech graduate student Bradford Wiles also has a permit to carry a gun, in Virginia. But on the day of the shootings, he would have been unarmed for the same reason: Like the University of Tennessee, where I teach, Virginia Tech bans guns on campus.

In The Roanoke Times last year – after another campus incident, when a dangerous escaped inmate was roaming the campus – Wiles wrote that, when his class was evacuated, “Of all of the emotions and thoughts that were running through my head that morning, the most overwhelming one was of helplessness. That feeling of helplessness has been difficult to reconcile because I knew I would have been safer with a proper means to defend myself.”

More at the link.  Out here,

Facebook a**holes

This is why I’m not on FB.  My wife’s engaged in an argument regarding gun control that’s been rolling since last night – Some jerk (one of those whose self esteem hinges on winning arguments on the Internet) is snarking at her about why the 2A should be repealed…I read his posts this morning and sent my wife this via email:

Just put each link in a separate post (not the text of the article, just the link to it), it will give him plenty to read.  These are the actual state and federal Supreme Court decisions over the second amendment (District of Columbia vs. Heller is the final say until some other jerk brings a case before the court).  And tell him I appreciate his decree as to what I am and am not entitled to [aside: She mentioned that she’d ask her wounded veteran, Infantry officer husband what he thought, and the jerk wrote a mini-article as to what I’m entitled to think / say), but I’ll defer to the Constitution and the Supreme Court for that rather than some guy on Facebook.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution#Meaning_of_%22well_regulated_militia%22

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caetano_v._Massachusetts

3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonald_v._City_of_Chicago

4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/District_of_Columbia_v._Heller

And here’s the killer argument from Ben Shapiro, one of the smartest political analysts out there:

5. https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/02/students-anti-gun-views/

Zuckerberg really has created hell on Earth for those who use it to argue politics, but I’ll be damned if I let some creep tell me what I should be thinking while I’m cleaning my .357 in my boxer shorts (sorry, that’s an awful image, I know) with my shrapnel scars in full view on my legs – Even if he’s not addressing me directly.

Yeah, more ditto

A Date That Should Live in Infamy

In February 19, 1942 — seventy-four years ago today — Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. With the stroke of his pen, the man who had earlier snubbed Jesse Owens after the Berlin Olympics used his executive powers to order the imprisonment of over 100,000 persons of Japanese ancestry (as well as thousands of German and Italian ancestry) for the duration of World War II.

internment-2

Most of the internees were natural-born American citizens, whose “crime” was having a parent or merely a grandparent with Japanese blood. It was an act of naked, aggressive racism that damaged people and families, including my own, for generations.

For those who leak tears at the thought of Gitmo, print this out and use it for tissue.  Perhaps, by osmosis, you’ll come to understand that allowing enemy intelligence / forces to roam unheeded within your borders or go back to their place of origin for more training and another deployment isn’t such a great idea.

You know, as a retired Field Grade (barely – I retired as a Major, those four years in the Guard and ten years in the USAR are the only reasons I got that gold oak leaf) Infantry officer…The lowest of the low, I feel as if I could spend a week writing a brief on why Gitmo isn’t a goat f*** and convince Congress to issue a statement that would immediately halt all of the sniffling and crying amongst those who hate Gitmo simply because they hate George W. Bush.

But why bother?  Sulu (George Takei) has formed his Brigades, our government isn’t even ready for a Twitter counteroffensive, and one wounded veteran going off about the mouth on Capitol Hill isn’t going to change anything (that’s reserved for the Cindy Sheehan’s and Beau Bergdahl’s of this world).

14 more years until I collect my pension, then I’m never looking at a newspaper again.  In the meantime, at least I’ll be employed firing small arms 9-5 for those 14 years.

God grant me the strength to make it through them.

Ditto

Andrew Klavan:

It was after a school shooting near Spokane last September that Spokane Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich addressed a clutch of reporters:

“When I was in high school, every one of those rigs in the high school parking lot had a gun in the gun rack. Why? [FickleGreen: Mine was a Ruger 10-22 with a cheap pawn shop scope – We hunted squirrels, not deer in Central Texas] We went hunting on the way home. None of those guns ever walked into a school, none of those guns ever shot anybody… Did the gun change or did you as a society change? I’ll give you odds it was you as a society. Because you started glorifying cultures of violence. You glorified the gang culture, you glorified games that actually gave you points for raping and killing people. The gun didn’t change, we changed.”

It seems clear to me the sheriff was speaking about rap music with its hateful, violent and misogynistic lyrics, and video games like Grand Theft Auto, where you can have sex with a prostitute then strangle her or pull an innocent person out of a car, beat him, then steal his vehicle.

I am a First Amendment purist and don’t want to see expression censored in any way. And I don’t argue that there’s a straight line between any specific cultural creation and bad acts. But surely, a culture in which those in authority approve of and argue for things like gangsta rap and GTA — and indeed for the use of violence to silence speech that offends them — well, such a culture becomes a machine for transforming madness into murder.

Two weeks to re-adjust

Still not sure if I’ll be living in Cambridge or Tampa, but as I hand off my projects here and join conference calls with my new employer, there’s a sense of palpable relief in just falling back into the old jargon.

Most folks who shoot consistently well, regardless of wind direction / velocity, target movement. etc., etc., etc. have two things in common: They practice a LOT, and they are able to shut everything but the mechanics of the shot out of their heads.  So, who practices shooting a LOT, and can erase that last missed mortgage payment from their minds for the time necessary?

Steely-eyed killers (and we have a lot of them, and need even more) come from all four services – Every Marine is a rifleman, Marine Force Recon have their own snipers, every Army Infantryman is a rifleman, every Army Ranger an expert marksman (and the Rangers have snipers as well), and the fellows at SFOD-D (the Army Special Forces’ Delta Force) and the Navy SEAL teams can make shots no one would believe possible…They do it every day.

These men are often sent on long assignments away from their families, and spend time in small teams, the members of whom become very close.  We say and do things to each other that make normal people react in horror, for example, a Captain at Fort Ord who lived next to us, also branched Infantry, but assigned to the new Air Assault School the 7th ID stood up when they couldn’t get soldiers through the Army’s Air Assault School at Fort Campbell, grinned every time he saw me throwing my ruck and gear in the car.  “Goin’ out?  Field Problem or down South?  Don’t worry, I’ll take care of your wife and my kids while you’re gone.”

Well, those, in my youth, would have been fightin’ words…But things like that, and much worse, are commonly tossed around barracks, housing, barbecues, you name it.  It’s nothing but reverse psychology, really…In order to prove you trust your men to cover your back under fire, you have to prove you know they don’t really mean what they are saying.

So yeah, it’s stupid macho stuff, but it keeps morale up and increases unit cohesion, so huzzah.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

I’ve noticed on my past couple of calls with my new team that the same sort of vernacular is used…And many of us know each other from working together previously or by reputation, so one is on the hot seat right away.

I’m going to have to work on my trash talking.

A lot of worry about nothing at all – YET

Interesting set of interviews with my prospective team yesterday:

 

I had expected to be grilled by shooters – Men who have owned, operated, and maintained weapons their entire lives…But it turns out my interlocutors were technical folks who will be creating the algorithms and displays.  Interesting questions there, some I’d never have thought of on the range, good stuff to study up on.

I did get to speak with one shooter, and I have a pretty good idea who he is, having been in awe of him for six years or so now.  If it’s who I think it is he’s going to make me look like a fool on the range and in the classroom, and I’m going to be buying lots of beer for the development team.  I mean hell yes, I can shoot, but what this Ranger I’m talking about does is more like magic.

So, challenges begin to manifest…This is the fun part, risk evaluation, categorization, planning, and mitigation.

Sniff.  I feel at home again.

Twenty-four years

That’s how long I’ve been working with what I am convinced Satan himself designed and Bill Gates coded – That misery of a presentation tool called “Powerpoint” – And I still don’t have the hang of it.  I carry a dual boot Windows 10 and Ubuntu 16 laptop with me so that I can do the majority of my presentation work in Libreoffice Impress, save it as a Powerpoint file, then boot into Windows to finish up in Powerpoint, but that only works when out of the office…DoD IT Security Officers run screaming at the sight of Linux, having been taught that it is an evil hacker’s tool and will lead to Snowden-like breaches in security.

I have a different perspective, of course, having cut my programming skills on BSD 3 and UNIX System V, the ability to open and close TCP ports on my own workstation without relying on a network administrator, write libsock code to monitor and log any TCP or UDP traffic for injection attacks, and h***, if I want to, modify the source code of the operating system itself to make it behave the way I want to.

Oh sure, there’s script kiddie stuff out there like Tails, and the ubiquitous VPN packages (only three of which, by the way, are worth what they cost), but my self-coded version of tracert can traverse VPN hops and determine if a MAC address spoofer is in use, and if I can write tools like that, you can bet the three-letter agencies can.

Of course, such tools are much easily written in “C” for UNIX / Linux flavored operating systems, so the government did what it always does – Purchased the worst option they could, making Bill Gates a billionaire in the process.

Anyhow, only another week of this, then my full time job will be to fire every small arm the armed forces have standardized on from 0900 – 1700, while folks much smarter than I am analyze the trajectory and ballistics of the rounds I shoot.

Heaven does indeed come to those who wait.  In the meantime I’m shutting down Powerpoint and getting some sleep.