Sunday, January 31, 2010

Barbarossa, etc.

I recently began rewatching one of the best, if not the best, documentaries ever produced on World War II, "World at War." I remember watching it while in high school in the mid-1970s in, of all places, Germany. If you're not familiar with the series, consider this my strong suggestion that you locate and watch it soon; you won't regret it.

One fact that I had forgotten from my first viewing of the episode "Barbarossa," the invasion of Russia, was that Hitler actually planned on defeating Russia in about four months. What a stupendous miscalculation and reckless bet, and one that (thankfully) cost Hitler the war.

Just think about it: the Nazi army, arguably the finest in the world at that time, whose skill at war was matched only by its evil deeds and purpose, was supposed to invade an immense country, occupy thousands upon thousands of square miles, fight an indigenous army inferior in training but almost limitless in number, and triumph in four months. This must qualify as the very definition of stupidity, not to mention hubris.

Many of his generals, apparently, knew this and tried to persuade Herr Hitler to err on the side of caution because of the inherent danger to Germany should the invasion fail to meet its timetable. Hitler, believing in his own strategic infallibility, based on his past successes and strokes of luck in Western Europe in recent years, eschewed all sound advice and stepped into the abyss anyway. Perhaps the phrase "Past performance is no guarantee of future returns" had not been yet coined.

Theories of alternate outcomes abound on what might have happened had Hitler not chosen this course. I won't indulge in that specualtion here, although any thinking person has to wonder. Suffice it to say he did do it and that history has shown his choice to be the worst of all those possbile.

Take care.

P.S. There is a belief amongst many Americans that America defeated Nazi Germany. Although America contributed mightily to Germany's defeat in terms of material, it was Russia who actually ripped the guts and gears out of the Wermacht. This is not to take anything away from those Americans and British who fought on the Western front, for battle is battle, and their efforts are worthy of our utmost respect. But from a cold, hard look at numbers, the Russian front is where Germany suffered two-thirds of all its military casualties, and Russia lost untold millions.

I mention this only because it's dangerous for Americans to believe that wars can be won, as opposed to just fought ad infinitum as the US now seems content to prosecute wars, without huge casualties, even with force multipliers. I'm not so sure Americans would be willing to support an all-out effort to eradicate Islamofacism in the Middle East if it cost the lives of 100,000+ American soldiers. Of course, that's going the conventional-warfare route. If we were to speak of the nuclear option, many American lives could be spared, but the cost in the lives of people in the countries supporting Islamofacism would be staggering.

Still, I'd say it's a fair trade-off. Either nuke 'em or go home. Any US politician who protests this should be tried for treason for putting the lives of another country's citizens above the lives of his own country's citizens, as is being done now.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mr. Oblivious and Miss Ignorant got married...

You may or may not be familiar with the following website, People of Wal-mart, but if you're in need of a laugh, or a good weep, at the oblivious slobs far too many Americans have become, take a look at the site. Afterwards, ask yourself if maybe our relatively low voter turnout rate is such a bad thing. I suggest it's not if the people in the photos are any indication of who's pulling the levers. Dear God, have people no pride, or shame? It's completely incomprehensible to me how these folks can look like this in public.

We're doomed as a nation, I tell you, doomed.

Take care.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

How to have fun in a crisis

Tons of information is out there on the 'Net about getting together the necessary skills and materials for surviving a disaster, be it man made or natural. Practically anything a motivated, or even casually interested, individual would like to know about this subject has been pontificated upon multiple times. Today, I'm going to take the opposite tack and give the one reason why one might want to be unprepared for a calamity, assuming they survive: the fun.

That's right, fun. Sure, anyone with an ounce of sense knows they should keep at least a few vital things on hand in case of an emergency situation, but where's the fun in that? Having redundant back-up systems is boring. They say you never feel more alive than when you are at the edge of oblivion, nor are you ever more resourceful, so why deny yourself this experience with a bunch of preps?

To ensure the maximum amount of fun and frivolity, do the following: Keep only enough food on hand to prepare meals for one day--visit your local supermarket daily. Eschew all weapons, be they purpose-built (firearms, knives), or improvised (everything else). Kill any errant thought about what you might do if things get ugly immediately upon conception; concentrate on a diversion (television, celebrity gossip, etc.) until the thought is subdued. Alienate yourself from as many family, friends, and neighbors as possible to remove the temptation to lean on them in a crisis.

Just taking these few steps will not only simplify your life today, they will also all but guarantee you will have enough fun and memories during a crisis to last you the rest of your days, be they numbered in single or multiple digits.

Glad I could help.

Take care.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Keyholing kontraption

A few years ago, I found a website called MCA Sports that makes inserts to convert a shotgun, for instance, into a rifle. I decided to order a shotgun insert chambered in .38 Spl. for one of my shotguns, and I'm glad I did. The insert's outer chamber dimensions mimic a shotgun shell and it has a ten-inch barrel attached to that. All you do is drop in the insert (this works best in a break-action shotgun), push a .38 Spl. round into the insert's chamber, close the action, aim and fire. Cool! It's actually pretty accurate, and I found that the .38 Spl. insert will also chamber and shoot .357 Mag. rounds, although I noticed a good amount of primer flow after firing, so I doubt I'll do that again, unless in a pinch.

How practical is the device? In today's gun world, where nearly every conceivable niche has been addressed by one type of gun or another, not very practical at all. But it is fun.

That was the good product from MCA Sports. Now, let me get to the product for which this post was named.

MCA Sports also sells an adaptor that drops into a rifle of a given caliber, in my case .30-06, that allows the user to shoot .22 LR cartridges. Again, the shape of the adaptor mimics the dimensions of the round it's replacing. In addition, since the .22 LR is a rimfire round and the firing pin of a centerfire rifle would miss the rim of a .22 LR and result in nothing happening, a plug, or offset, is provided to to work around this problem, which it does quite handily. So far, so good. At the range, however, I couldn't hit the broad side of the proverbial barn with it.

It took me a while to figure out what was going on with the little contraption, but I finally saw that even minimal accuracy at 7 yards was too much to ask for, as evidenced by the undamaged target after several shots using various aiming points. Finally, after moving to within 8 feet of the target, I was on paper. The bullet keyholed through the target and hit 3-4 inches low--repeatedly. Although it's touted as being able to be used on small game while out big-game hunting, I believe you'd have better results with a slingshot.

Bottomline: The adaptor is useless. The concept is neat, but reality has proven this product to be stillborn. The inserts, however, do work, and I can recommend them unreservedly.

Take care.

Friday, January 1, 2010

As the sun sets on another year...

I actually have nothing to say here, I just wanted to squeeze in another post from San Diego before 2010 begins (it's past midnight back in Colorado, but 2009 still has a few minutes left here in California). I suppose I could say something about the trip to Sea World yesterday, but I'm too tired right now to mess with it. In fact, if it was up to me, I'd be headed to bed about now, but my wife would take personal offense at that since the New Year is such a big deal to her.

Take care.