Category Archives: rants

Help a goofy gun guy out? Vote on my stache

Hey guys, I got drafted into representing Guns.com in the American Suppressor Association’s Silencer Stache contest.

If you haven’t heard about the ASA, they are the trade organization for the suppressor industry and have really been working for the past few years on expanding gun laws concerning the devices nationwide, from a hearing protection standpoint.

Long story short, they are running a facial hair contest this month and I am running neck-and-neck (see what I did there?) with my opponent and could use your vote to put me over the top. So if you could give me an assist, I would appreciate it.

This F’N guy…

You don’t have to sign up for anything, join anything, or buy anything. You do have to vote in each heat (just scroll down the page) then enter an email addy at the bottom (feel free to use a burner one) to make sure you aren’t a bot, then click enter.

That’s it. Help me from getting shellacked! The contest is here. 

I thank you for your consideration.

Hand Salute, CPT Crozier

The (Acting) SECNAV Thomas B. Modly has booted the skipper of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Captain Brett E. Crozier (USNA 1994), from his post over the leaked letter the carrier’s commander penned in reference to the spreading COVID-19 cases among his embarked 4,000-man crew.

Several sources told USNI News ahead of the announcement that Navy leaders in the Pacific did not recommend Crozier’s removal from command.

Modly’s two minutes of reasoning is in the video below, essentially boiling down to breaking the chain of command on the face of it, with the unpardonable sin of making Big Navy look bad on the sniff test.

Loose lips sink ships, or at least careers, anyway.

Of course, all the public attention has resulted in the crew getting the attention they needed, which was the meat of Crozier’s concerns.

Crozier had a big send-off from his crew.

A Seahawk and later Hornet driver who flew with the Warhawks of VFA-97, the Mighty Shrikes of VFA-94 and the Rough Riders of VFA-125, Crozier completed numerous downrange deployments during OIF and the Global War on Terror. Serving as the XO of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) for two years and then as skipper of 7th Fleet flagship, USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), for another two before moving into the captain’s cabin of The Big Stick, Crozier was on the path for a star after 26 years of honorable service.

Instead:

Has everyone just hit the panic button on prepping?

Excuse me while I drag out the soapbox.

As a guy who ran a Y2K website 20+ years ago, penned zombie books (shameless plug) and have spent 40~ years living in a hurricane zone, I like to keep a stockpile of non-perishables on hand just in case. In short, if you don’t have 90 days worth of non-perishables on-hand even in good times then you just aren’t “adulting.” My grandmother, who grew up in the Depression in Weimar Germany and survived the leanest years of WWII, later became something of a “hamsterkauf,” socking away canned goods and cured/smoked meats on the regular. Open a cabinet to get a towel and you had to move sausages out of the way.

With that in mind, visiting my local big boxes for standard weekly shopping this week I was blown away by the panic buying I witnessed over the upcoming possibility of having to self-quarantine for the next 14-to-21 days in response to the COVID-19/Coronavirus scare.

Folks, jamming yourself into tight areas to queue for things that aren’t there is just a bad idea when it comes to catching a virus. Just think rationally, pardon the pun. Panic is always a mistake.

Furthermore, people are stocking up on the wildest stuff. Shopping carts full of TP, cans of garbage Chef Boyardee meals full of salt and preservatives, bags of over-sugared cereals and Pop-Tarts. People fighting over $7 packs of vanity napkins.

Meanwhile, the produce department has stacks of untouched long-lasting veggies like spaghetti/acorn squash, carrots, potatoes and onions along with fruits packed with natural sugars like apples– none of which have to be refrigerated. Likewise, nuts and raisins are untouched. Shelves of tinned fish products like sardines and herring are packed. Rice and beans left behind. These are the kind of staples people should have on hand.

The concept of flattening the curve of infection— simply limiting the rate of new cases to a level the healthcare system can match– is sound. After all, on any normal day, some 80 percent of the ventilators in circulation are already hooked up to a patient and the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) only has 4,000 of those vital machines in reserve. Hopefully, the next few weeks will be enough to break the cycle and let people get back to being addicted to Instagram while they wait in line for a pink drink.

With that, and the fact that the two upcoming trips I had booked for late March and Mid-April are canceled, have me all-in on “social distancing” and becoming largely a shut-in for the next few weeks.

I’ll start working on the fresh stuff and freezer full of deer roasts and feral hog sausage just in case the power grid gets iffy later on in this crisis while I work on my usual garden for the Spring.

I think I will at least double the size of my plot this year.

You guys be safe.

YOU can help! FAA fixing to put the Whammy on RC plane clubs, drones

While dropping in at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile on a Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday morning, you are likely to hear the roar of RC aircraft of all sorts. The park, just off the bow of the retired Gato-class diesel boat USS Drum (SS-228), is home to the Lower Alabama RC club, a group that has been around since 1975.

The LARC Club. The shot was taken from the Drum’s bow on Saturday by moi. In short, an RC aircraft strip. No, the MiG is not an RC plane.

The hobbyists of the LARC club, which requires membership in the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) and to comply with the AMA Safety Code, swoop and swirl their aircraft deftly over the uninhabited marshland, remaining well under 400 feet AGL. They hurt no one, damage nothing except their own planes on accident, and add to the wonder of the park, which is often filled with wide-eyed youth visiting the ships and aircraft displays.

If a kid sees an RC Spitfire or Corsair zipping around while there, that could spark a life-long interest or career in aviation– and with the future of a massive increase in drone flight very real, that is a good thing.

The thing is, the Federal Aviation Administration has a proposed regulation that would require almost every drone, quadcopter and RC aircraft in the sky to broadcast its location over the Internet at all times. Sound innocent, right? However, the rule would probably wipe out the hobby that has been around for generations.

As noted by ArsTechnica: 

In many cases, it may not even be possible for people to upgrade their existing aircraft to the new standard. The FAA rule states that a compliant drone needs to have a serial number that was issued by the device’s manufacturer in compliance with the new rules. Yet many RC aircraft are built by small companies who never intended to get into the commercial drone business. They might not have the technical resources to comply with the new standards or the legal resources to get FAA approval.

The FAA aims to allow a few RC/drone airfields like the one in Mobile run by “community-based organizations” where the rules could be relaxed on hobby-built craft, but that exemption would only be for a year.

After that, the agency thinks everyone will just kinda hang it up:

At the end of that 12-month period, no new applications for FAA-recognized identification areas would be accepted. After that date, the number of FAA-recognized identification areas could therefore only remain the same or decrease. Over time, the FAA anticipates that most UAS without remote identification will reach the end of their useful lives or be phased out. As these numbers dwindle, and as compliance with remote identification requirements becomes cheaper and easier, the number of UAS that need to operate only at FAA-recognized identification areas would likely drop significantly.

Public comments are open until 11:59pm on Monday. Let them know what you think if you have a minute. 

Exorcising the Ghosts of Pearl Harbor (while setting up the next one)

USS OKLAHOMA (BB-37) and USS ARIZONA (BB-39) in better times, side by side in the Pedro Miguel locks of the Panama Canal in January 1921. Ship in distance is USS NEVADA (BB-36). C.F. Rottmann, photographer. Courtesy of the USS OKLAHOMA Association, collection of Elmer S. Sykora, 1979 NH 89443

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly proclaimed his decision to name the next two Virginia-class submarines on Dec. 23, as USS Oklahoma (SSN-802) and the USS Arizona (SSN-803).

This would be the first time the names, formerly used by the Pearl Harbor battleship losses USS Oklahoma (BB-37) and USS Arizona (BB-39), have been on the Navy List in more than 75 years.

191223-N-DM308-002 WASHINGTON (Dec. 23, 2016) A photo illustration of the future Virginia-class attack submarine USS Oklahoma (SSN-802). (U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Paul L. Archer/Released)

191223-N-DM308-001 WASHINGTON (Dec. 23, 2016) A photo illustration of the future Virginia-class attack submarine USS Arizona (SSN 803). (U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Paul L. Archer/Released)

Is it time?

Well, in Modly’s defense, the Navy has often quickly recycled the names of lost warships as an inspiration to crews of new ones– and to show enemies how fast the “Arsenal of Democracy” could renew itself.

For example, during the dark days of 1942 in the Pacific the carriers Lexington, Hornet, Wasp, and Yorktown were all lost in action, along with the cruisers Astoria, Houston (with almost her entire 1,100-man crew either lost or captured), Northampton, Quincy, Vincennes, Atlanta, and Juneau. By 1944 all those names had been issued to new construction of the same type– many of which would continue to serve well into the Cold War. Indeed, the Navy even enlisted 1,000 brand new bluejackets in 1943 under the banner of “Houston Volunteers” to replace those lost in the Sunda Strait.

Going back even further, Battleship No. 10 was christened as USS Maine in 1901 just three years after the first Maine blew up in Havanna harbor, sparking the Spanish-American War. John Paul Jones’s Bonhomme Richard was sunk by HMS Serapis in 1779 and three different warships have gone on to carry the same name. The tragic loss of the USS Indianapolis in 1945 was followed up 35 years later by the name being bestowed to a Los Angeles-class attack submarine.

IMHO, in the case of Oklahoma, which lost over 400 of her 1,400 man crew on December 7, 1941, and whose hull was later raised and sold to the breakers for $40,000, perhaps the time is right to reboot her name.

However, as for Arizona, which lost 1,177 of her crew and whose hull still bleeds heavy fuel oil along Battleship Row today, perhaps her name should be retired or the vessel given a special status such as the one carried by the captured spy ship USS Pueblo or the frigate USS Constitution.

But that is just me.

ASECNAV Modly is a bright guy and I am sure he has his reasons. An Annapolis grad and former Naval Aviator, he went on to pull down a sheepskin from Harvard Business School and an MA from Georgetown before serving as Under Secretary of the Navy for the past two years.

Besides, the states of Arizona and Oklahoma both have powerful Congressional delegations, many of which have already voiced approval of the move– which could be key at budget time. Remember Hyman Rickover’s old adage of changing submarine naming conventions from marine creatures to states and cities explained as, “fish don’t vote.”

On the bright side, the new Arizona and Oklahoma will be the first Block V Virginias, arguably the most capable attack subs in the world.

If other plans afoot in Washington go through, they may be sorely needed to prove that capability.

Cuts, Cuts, and More Cuts

A memo circulating from the White House, apparently with the Navy’s blessing, has the fleet cutting the first four LCS variants (Freedom, Independence, Fort Worth and Coronado) although they are still relatively brand new (although cranky “Mod 0” type ships). Along with them could be a cap on further LCS production at 35 hulls, laying up three LSDs (Whidbey Island, Germantown and Gunston Hall) which still have a decade or more life left on their machinery/hulls, and accelerating the retirement of four the oldest remaining Tico-class cruisers (Bunker Hill, Mobile Bay, Antietam, and Leyte Gulf).

Further, new construction would get the ax as well (!) with five of the 12 pending late-flight Burke-class destroyers canceled– one of the few really successful Navy shipbuilding programs.

Instead of the 355-ship Navy promised in 2018, we are looking more at a 287-ship fleet, which would include 31 remaining underarmed LCS hulls, 3 virtually worthless Zumwalt-class pink elephants, and the Fords, which are slipping further and further down the calendar of being deployable.

Sure, Congress could pour on the pork and get more DDGs added, cruisers saved and Gators retained, which is probably what the Navy hopes for. The end result next year will probably be a compromise that no one but the admirals of the PLAN like.

Pass me my scotch, please, and say a prayer for the next generation of U.S. Naval officers and enlisted.

Pearl clutching and AVGPs

Sackville, a Canadian town in New Brunswick, lost 55 of its men during WWII with the Canadian forces fighting in Italy.

The 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise’s) regiment–the longest-serving armored regiment in the Canadian Army, including landing it Italy with the 5th Canadian Armoured Regiment in 1943 and fighting from the Liri Valley to the Gothic Line– recently donated a retired Cougar AVGP to Sackville in February for use as a static memorial.

Originally formed as the New Brunswick Regiment of Yoemanry Cavalry in 1848, the 8th Hussars (PL) are now and have traditonally been the "local regiment" in NB. Here, an M4 Sherman of the 5th Armoured Regiment (8th Princess Louise's (New Brunswick) Hussars, CAC, CASF, moves around "somewhere in Italy" in 1943-44.

Originally formed as the New Brunswick Regiment of Yeomanry Cavalry in 1848, the 8th Hussars (PL) are now and have traditionally been a “local regiment” in NB. Here, an M4 Sherman of the 5th Armoured Regiment (8th Princess Louise’s (New Brunswick) Hussars, CAC, CASF, moves around “somewhere in Italy” in 1943-44.

The town council decided to install it the local Memorial Park, which already features another military vehicle, a 1950/60s Ferrett, to honor the lost 55 as well as all other veterans.

The Cougar, based on the six-wheeled version of the Swiss MOWAG Piranha I, is similar to the U.S. Marine’s LAV-25 and the Army’s Stryker vehicle. The Canadians never deployed their Cougars for combat, despite the fact they carried the turret of a British Scorpion reconnaissance vehicle complete with a 76mm gun. They were retired in 2006 after some 30 years service and have since been relegated to gate guards, museum hulls and target vehicles.

Canadian army Cougar AVGP wheeled fire support vehicle, NATO Exercise Rendezvous ’83. Sure, it’s not a Sherman tank, but it served in the Canadian Forces and packed about as much power as an M4! Plus, to Sackville, it was “free!” (U.S. Army photo.

However, some in the town have got a problem with the Cougar. Not because it is an anachronism to Sackville’s WWII war dead, but because of war in general.

“This modern armoured vehicle is a symbol of military violence and it does not serve as an appropriate memorial to those who served,” says one heartburned local, who no doubt enjoyed the fact that he could make his statement in English rather than German, or Russian.

Sackville is now reconsidering the display.

A foggy New Year

Went for a Polar Bear dip on the First to celebrate making it out of 2017 alive. But back in December on a foggy winter’s night I roamed around and soaked in some sea smoke.

A couple of 87 foot WPBs at the Coast Guard station with the smoke rolling in. They are the fire-damaged USCGC Brant and I believe the Razorbill

Also saw this guy chilling out in a standoff with a sea serpent. Greetings from the 228!

Goodbye and good riddance!

So it looks like the Zimbabwe bogeyman, Mugabe and his wife, has been replaced in a coup that officially isn’t one.

Can you believe this guy has been in power since 1980? And thought it would be cool that his batshit wife inherits the throne? Yikes.

Maj. Gen. Sibusiso Moyo of the 30,000-strong ZDF appeared on state-run TV and said, in his best Mars Attacks address to Congress, that all is going perfectly well.

This came as the BBC reported that “Heavy gun and artillery fire could be heard in northern parts of the capital Harare early on Wednesday.”

As a side note, I always did like the Belgian and later Rhodesian “brushtroke” pattern camo, though the ZDF uses a gently modified version of it today.

But they still use it…

Yup, they market bolt-action Glocks in Cali

the-bolt_-action-california-compliant-glock_-videos-1

Marketed to those on the Best Coast who want to home build their own Glock style 9mm/.40S&W pistol from a kit, here is a bolt-action for the slide to keep it California-compliant.

The manually-operated Inlander $149 Easy Bolt and extended 9-inch barrel bring compliance to the game. The kit, when added to a “zero-shot” magazine that is not readily detachable (see = bullet button demise) gives you a bolt-action Glock.

This abomination is due to recent changes in state law while taking into account the deletion of the single-shot exemption allowance. As Glocks are not on the state’s increasingly constricting approved handgun roster, many in Cally are using 80 percent frame kits (Polymer80’s PF940C comes to mind) and trying to do the right thing.

Because California.

More info in my column at Guns.com.

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