As If Regular Reality Need Fixing…

As an official geezer, oldster and curmudgeon, I can take delight in the role proscribed. I can denigrate new things as “no big deal” and “Who needs that?” with a withering and wizened stare, the awesomeness of my experience backing up my delight in happy balloon puncturing. (Not available for parties)

However, I am also a gadget monger, a gear aficionado and person who enjoys having the needed tool in the truck, or their pocket or down in the basement cabinet.

It is great to imagine the probability of whether I should have a 48 volt combination chainsaw/winch just in case I break down in the wilderness during a zombie apocalypse and inbound tsunami. Such decision models are entertainment of a high order.

So last weekend, I finally got the time to try out a Christmas gift of Oculus VR googles for the Samsung Galaxy Phone. They had been sitting there , next to my post dinner chair, daring me to open them and get sucked down another tech timesucking rathole.

The Red Headed Irish Wisecraker demanded it , since NBC was advertising their Olympics VR app and she wanted to see figure skating with the new tech.

So I opened the box, and proceeded to read the manual, an old habit but one which has held me in good stead for decades.

I will say, setting aside the curmudgeon pose, that it was fun. NBC delivered crap, but the other stuff was fun. I was particularly fond of the offering by a guy who para skied with a 360 cam on his rig.

It felt like playing with a reel to reel tape recorder when they were the high tech fashion , or playing pong at a table in a bar, or watching the content explosion when CDs were suddenly available on most PCs.. The tech is still early, but it has immense promise.

Oh well, another tech entertainment rathole to spend time on.

So, fellow Ratburgers, what is your impression of the VR offerings to date? Don’t be shy, just scribble in the comment section below.


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Criminal Negligence

I am still fuming over the nonsense spewing from all sides in the recent school shooting incident.

Once more, our political class falls all over themselves in positioning to do nothing.

We send our kids into unsecure, unprotected open shooting galleries and demand useless things when it occurs over and over.

When all of these people were afraid of highjackers killing them, they demanded armed air marshals on planes. They demand their money is protected by armed guards. They want armed police to respond to a threat of violence in their home.

Yet they send their kids to an unsecure building where no one there can respond to an assailant armed with minimal weaponry.

It’s as if the children were expendable to make a political point. Oh wait…

The question to be put to school administrators, who last time I checked were not underpaid in many cases is what are you going to do tomorrow? How about less money on grief counsellors and more and secure access points and stopping kids carrying an AR 15 into school who have no business there?

If the schools were a private business, we would have sued them into oblivion by now if the owners were not locked up for criminal negligence.

Additional insight by Sundance
Broward County School Insanity

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TOTD 2018-2-19: Credit and Responsibility

Why is it people run to the front of the line to take credit but duck responsibility? Is it human nature to think all the problems were made by others and all the good came from ME?

Historically, people were proud of the colossal disasters the day before. The day after they didn’t want “Enron” on the resume.

To use the polling technique from the last election, what type of person is your neighbor? A Credit Hog or a “It’s not MY fault.”?


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Hillbilly Culture: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis is a book I loved and couldn’t put down. It’s written in beautiful English, but the primary reason I reacted to it as I did, is J.D. Vance (33) is so honest as he talks about the Appalachian values of his upbringing and how they relate to the social problems of his original culture. He wants people to understand these problems and see the real reason for them, as he sees it.

 

Born and brought up in Middletown, Ohio, he paints a clear picture of his dysfunctional family. Unemployment, violence, drugs, absent fathers, lack of a structured lifestyle, lack of understanding of the value of education and direction, are the main problems, as he experienced it.

J.D. Vance in 2017

The saving factor in his own life was his grandmother. He went to live with his grandparents in his late teens. His grandmother instilled in him the idea that he could do better with his life than he had up till then. He began to work at school, and, with sympathetic teachers, achieved good enough grades that he could go into the Marines for four years. He went on to Ohio State University, and from there to Yale. At Yale, he met a young woman from a different American culture, who taught him the mores of that culture which was necessary for him to become a successful lawyer. He learned how to dress and behave for success in the professional world. He points out that his adopted culture, with it’s different value system, is much better than his original environment in producing people who are successful in life. Presently he is a CNN contributor, and is considering running for the US Senate.

J.D. Vance considers that the real poverty of Hillbilly country is not simply material, but cultural. It is the product of the attitudes of the people. These attitudes include accepting fighting, violence and coarse language as being normal. Their fierce loyalty to their families, culture and country, discourage people from leaving to improve their lives. Young males are encouraged to consider education as being not for macho males, but only for “sissies.” People take advantage of government programs to sell food stamps so that they can have cell phones. This infuriates the people who aren’t receiving these programs. The most self-defeating attitude is that the actions of an individual can make no difference to any individual’s life. Neither respect for education nor ambition is encouraged.

The greatest value of Vance’s book is that it make us all reconsider our preconceived ideas about poverty, and what can be done by government to alleviate it. He seems to be saying that the hillbilly culture needs to accept responsibility for its own part in its problems. Education would seem to be helpful to do this, but this might be difficult unless the barriers against the value of education can be removed from the minds of the people. Teachers can only do so much to undo the influence of parents. The government throwing ever more money at the problem, is not the answer. This is a universal challenge, in and around many cultures, and the questions raised can be applied to all those others. It’s not money alone that is needed, it is a change of value systems.

This book raises many questions. Is J.D. Vance correct in his assessment of his culture, and the solution of its problems? Does it need to be said that some cultures ought to examine their value systems before blaming the government, corporations, colonialism, the loss or lack of jobs, and anyone else they can conjure up, as the root of their poverty? Should cultures be given ever more money when it has been shown that this doesn’t make any difference to their poverty? How can cultures be encouraged to change their destructive value systems? Perhaps more emphasis ought to be placed on individuals responsibility for their choices in life, and understanding the consequences of those choices.

Hillbilly Elegy should be read by all thinking people, with an open mind.


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Babe Bracket

There was a little dust-up this week over a radio station promotional contest. The contest is called the “Babe Bracket.” It was noticed by the Leftists, who used all the stereotypical feminist language to portray the radio station, the radio program, and the program on-air personalities and hosts, all as misogynists who are advancing the “war on women.”

I heard about it because the station is just down the road in Little Rock. The whole thing is, of course, a “tempest in a teapot.” I sort of thought it was amusing. Yes, the Babe Bracket is in bad taste, and it is simply intended to give the radio talkers opportunities for humor of questionable value. Now the Republican Governor of Arkansas is getting slammed by the usual Leftists because he brushed off the objections as “political correctness.”

Here is an excerpt from the Little Rock newspaper account:

Winnie Wright, a reporter at KTHV, said her station’s management asked her and her colleagues to not speak publicly about the contest, but after Arkansas’ governor told the radio station that “everybody enjoys” the contest, Wright took to Twitter and quickly had a following.

Wright used the hashtag “#morethanababe” on Thursday. Soon after, female journalists from other TV markets weighed in with their support. Some also shared their own stories.

“On a daily basis, while I’m working to bring important stories to the people of Arkansas, I am cat-called, have obscenities yelled at me from cars, have men comment on my appearance in a professional setting, and worse. But I am #morethanababe,” Wright wrote Thursday in a series of tweets that included a list of her professional accomplishments.

By the end of the day, Marie Claire magazine, the Radio Television Digital News Association and female journalists from markets ranging from New York and Chicago to Macon and Mobile had weighed in.

A lingerie shop sponsors the “Babe Bracket,” carried on KABZ after originating at another Little Rock station in 1997. Promotional material features a silhouette of a scantily clad woman behind a tournament bracket that includes photos of the reporters and anchorwomen.

“We’re more than what you see on TV,” Moller said.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson went on KABZ last week and told the show’s hosts, “Y’all have some fun and everybody enjoys it.” The governor also said the contest was done in “good spirit” and that people shouldn’t be “too politically correct.” He later issued a statement saying he wasn’t endorsing the game.

“All women should be treated with respect, and any measurement of workplace success should be based upon talent and performance,” Hutchinson said in the statement.

Radio host David Bazzel has said the station intends to continue the contest next month.

“We agree they all are certainly more than babes … that’s just not broadcasters, that’s female school teachers, principals, first responders and law enforcement,” Bazzel said Thursday. …

So, take a look at the slate of babes from last year’s competition. These ladies all hold jobs that Rush Limbaugh dubbed as “info-babes” about 25 years ago. I think it is undeniable that an appearance that can be described as “sex appeal” is part of the job description.

My question is, what does the Left want? Do they want an end to television stations and networks hiring attractive women? Do the feminists really want a “qualifications-based selection” to be enforced? It seems to me that the result would be fewer jobs in media for women.

My conclusion is that they don’t care about the women, nor do they care about women in general. The Left is simply opportunistically seizing this issue as a way to bash men, bash conservatives, and bash a Republican.

 

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Indeed.

A friend forwarded this to me, provenance unknown, but I don’t care.  Agree with it exactly.

(BTW, when I run across things like this, I now have a nearly autonomic impulse to share with my Ratburghers.)

The quote:

An interesting perspective from the mother of a fallen Seal.

Comment from KAREN VAUGHN Mother of Navy Chief Aaron Vaughn, Navy Seal, killed in Action.

 

“Sometimes God uses the no-nonsense, salty sailor to get the job done. Appreciating what the man is doing doesn’t mean we worship the salty sailor or even desire to be like the salty sailor. It doesn’t even mean God admires the salty sailor. Maybe He just knows he’s necessary for such a time as this.

I believe with all my heart that God placed that salty sailor in the White House and gave this nation one more chance in November 2016. Donald Trump is what he is. He is still the man he was before the election. And without guilt, I very much admire what that salty sailor is accomplishing.

He’s not like me. That’s okay with me. I don’t want to be like him. I will never behave like him. I know we’ve NEVER had a man like him lead our nation. It’s crazy and a little mind blowing at times. But I can’t help admire the ability he has to act with his heart rather than a calculated, PC, think tank-screened, carefully edited script. I still believe that is WHY he became our President and WHY he’s been able to handle a landslide of adversity and STILL pass unprecedented amounts of good legislation for our country AND do great works for MANY other nations, including Israel.

I’m THRILLED with what he’s doing for my nation, for the cause of Christ (whether intentional or unintentional, doesn’t matter to me), and for the concept of rebuilding America and putting her FIRST. I will not be ashamed of my position because others don’t see him through the same lens.

Should it matter to me if a fireman drops an f-bomb while he’s pulling me from a burning building? Would I really care about what came out of his mouth in those moments? Heck no! I’d CARE about what he was DOING. He wasn’t sent there to save my soul and I’m not looking to him for spiritual guidance. All I’m thinking in those moments is, “Thank you, Jesus, for sending the fireman.”

I’ll post this article below again for those who still might not understand me.

This man is crass. Okay. He’s not careful with what he says. Okay. You feel offended that he’s not a typical statesman. Okay. But he is rebuilding the nation my son died for…the nation I feared was on a fast track to becoming a hopeless cause.

Forgive me if I’m smiling.”

 

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I’m annoyed …

This morning, well, actually it started last night, I have been growing increasing annoyed.

If I hear one more “expert”, former agent of some security/LE related government agency, “news” reader, politician, etc. say one more time “if you see it, report it” (last night’s message) I may start throwing things.   By the way, the innocuous sounding “say something” admonishment has this morning been twisted to say:   someone should have said something and this COULD have been prevented.   No it couldn’t.  No one knows that.

What is the point of the above comments anyway?  Are they saying —  it’s the victims’ own fault?   This is ludicrous.

The MSM is effectively telling the teenage victims they are to blame for the tragedy that occurred at their school if they did not say something.   This is not true, in fact, they, the non-shooters, did nothing wrong.   Do the experts and “news” idiots not realize the surviving students are likely “hearing” a message  that is saying  “You are responsible for the death of your friends”.   This is lie, and nothing less than insensitive bullying.   Can the “experts” be that stupid?  By the way, I haven’t heard evidence that anyone “knew” a tragedy would occur for a “fact” before the event occurred.

And while I am at it, why are they interrogating/interviewing “children” who who have just experienced a terrible traumatic event and are obviously  in shock?     Have the news personalities no sensitivity to the emotional state of the children and long term potential harm to the teens?   That said,  I did notice some of the females appeared to have gotten “dressed” for their appearance, and were being interviewed in their “bedrooms”?   Did they think it was an audition?  By the way, I saw no moms and or dads present during the interviews.   It all seemed a little “produced” to me.

This morning, I am hearing that one adult did report internet postings made by a person named Cruz to the FBI.   The FBI did what they could, or at least followed up as well as could be done.   However, this drum-beat Call for people to watch and report on their neighbors, is spooky to me.  Has anyone reading this ever spoken with a person from Cuba about the  Neighborhood Youth Groups in Cuba and how they are indoctrinated into watching and informing on friends and family to the government?  This entire “say something” message is a slippery slope.

In my opinion, the time to stop tragedies such as this, as much as it is possible to so at all, is long before any gun triggers  have been pulled.   It begins with a culture that values human life.  Human life belongs at the top of a society’s pyramid of values.   Not at the bottom somewhere around the “convenient” level.

All that said,  there is plenty of time in the weeks to come for Monday-morning quarterbacking this event.   Time enough to take advantage of free nationwide advertising of one’s “security” related “expertise”; to sell security services and sign new customers.  Time enough to create another new and unneeded school security government agency at the local, state, and federal levels.   Time enough to exploit this event and advance political causes.

But the time is not today.   Today is the day to mourn and gather family and friends near.   Or have we lost all our humanity?  It seems every time I turn on the television, I am reminded why I turned it off.


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Book Review: The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare

“The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” by Damien LewisAfter becoming prime minister in May 1940, one of Winston Churchill’s first acts was to establish the Special Operations Executive (SOE), which was intended to conduct raids, sabotage, reconnaissance, and support resistance movements in Axis-occupied countries. The SOE was not part of the military: it was a branch of the Ministry of Economic Warfare and its very existence was a state secret, camouflaged under the name “Inter-Service Research Bureau”. Its charter was, as Churchill described it, to “set Europe ablaze”.

The SOE consisted, from its chief, Brigadier Colin McVean Gubbins, who went by the designation “M”, to its recruits, of people who did not fit well with the regimentation, hierarchy, and constraints of life in the conventional military branches. They could, in many cases, be easily mistaken for blackguards, desperadoes, and pirates, and that’s precisely what they were in the eyes of the enemy—unconstrained by the rules of warfare, striking by stealth, and sowing chaos, mayhem, and terror among occupation troops who thought they were far from the front.

Leading some of the SOE’s early exploits was Gustavus “Gus” March-Phillipps, founder of the British Army’s Small Scale Raiding Force, and given the SOE designation “Agent W.01”, meaning the first agent assigned to the west Africa territory with the leading zero identifying him as “trained and licensed to use all means to liquidate the enemy”—a license to kill. The SOE’s liaison with the British Navy, tasked with obtaining support for its operations and providing cover stories for them, was a fellow named Ian Fleming.

One of the SOE’s first and most daring exploits was Operation Postmaster, with the goal of seizing German and Italian ships anchored in the port of Santa Isabel on the Spanish island colony of Fernando Po off the coast of west Africa. Given the green light by Churchill over the strenuous objections of the Foreign Office and Admiralty, who were concerned about the repercussions if British involvement in what amounted to an act of piracy in a neutral country were to be disclosed, the operation was mounted under the strictest secrecy and deniability, with a cover story prepared by Ian Fleming. Despite harrowing misadventures along the way, the plan was a brilliant success, capturing three ships and their crews and delivering them to the British-controlled port of Lagos without any casualties. Vindicated by the success, Churchill gave the SOE the green light to raid Nazi occupation forces on the Channel Islands and the coast of France.

On his first mission in Operation Postmaster was Anders Lassen, an aristocratic Dane who enlisted as a private in the British Commandos after his country was occupied by the Nazis. With his silver-blond hair, blue eyes, and accent easily mistaken for German, Lassen was apprehended by the Home Guard on several occasions while on training missions in Britain and held as a suspected German spy until his commanders intervened. Lassen was given a field commission, direct from private to second lieutenant, immediately after Operation Postmaster, and went on to become one of the most successful leaders of special operations raids in the war. As long as Nazis occupied his Danish homeland, he was possessed with a desire to kill as many Nazis as possible, wherever and however he could, and when in combat was animated by a berserker drive and ability to improvise that caused those who served with him to call him the “Danish Viking”.

This book provides a look into the operations of the SOE and its successor organisations, the Special Air Service and Special Boat Service, seen through the career of Anders Lassen. So numerous were special operations, conducted in many theatres around the world, that this kind of focus is necessary. Also, attrition in these high-risk raids, often far behind enemy lines, was so high there are few individuals one can follow throughout the war. As the war approached its conclusion, Lassen was the only surviving participant in Operation Postmaster, the SOE’s first raid.

Lassen went on to lead raids against Nazi occupation troops in the Channel Islands, leading Churchill to remark, “There comes from the sea from time to time a hand of steel which plucks the German sentries from their posts with growing efficiency.” While these “butcher-and-bolt” raids could not liberate territory, they yielded prisoners, code books, and radio contact information valuable to military intelligence and, more importantly, forced the Germans to strengthen their garrisons in these previously thought secure posts, tying down forces which could otherwise be sent to active combat fronts. Churchill believed that the enemy should be attacked wherever possible, and SOE was a precision weapon which could be deployed where conventional military forces could not be used.

As the SOE was absorbed into the military Special Air Service, Lassen would go on to fight in North Africa, Crete, the Aegean islands, then occupied by Italian and German troops, and mainland Greece. His raid on a German airbase on occupied Crete took out fighters and bombers which could have opposed the Allied landings in Sicily. Later, his small group of raiders, unsupported by any other force, liberated the Greek city of Salonika, bluffing the German commander into believing Lassen’s forty raiders and two fishing boats were actually a British corps of thirty thousand men, with armour, artillery, and naval support.

After years of raiding in peripheral theatres, Lassen hungered to get into the “big war”, and ended up in Italy, where his irregular form of warfare and disdain for military discipline created friction with his superiors. But he got results, and his unit was tasked with reconnaissance and pathfinding for an Allied crossing of Lake Comacchio (actually, more of a swamp) in Operation Roast in the final days of the war. It was there he was to meet his end, in a fierce engagement against Nazi troops defending the north shore. For this, he posthumously received the Victoria Cross, becoming the only non-Commonwealth citizen so honoured in World War II.

It is a cliché to say that a work of history “reads like a thriller”, but in this case it is completely accurate. The description of the raid on the Kastelli airbase on Crete would, if made into a movie, probably cause many viewers to suspect it to be fictionalised, but that’s what really happened, based upon after action reports by multiple participants and aerial reconnaissance after the fact.

World War II was a global conflict, and while histories often focus on grand battles such as D-day, Stalingrad, Iwo Jima, and the fall of Berlin, there was heroism in obscure places such as the Greek islands which also contributed to the victory, and combatants operating in the shadows behind enemy lines who did their part and often paid the price for the risks they willingly undertook. This is a stirring story of this shadow war, told through the short life of one of its heroes.

Lewis, Damien. The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. New York: Quercus, 2015. ISBN 978-1-68144-392-8.

Here is a video review of this book by Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons.

 


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Today’s Kipling – Troopin’

Troopin’

(Our Army in the East)

Rudyard Kipling

Troopin’, troopin’, troopin’ to the sea:
‘Ere’s September come again — the six-year men are free.
O leave the dead be’ind us, for they cannot come away
To where the ship’s a-coalin’ up that takes us ‘ome to-day.
We’re goin’ ‘ome, we’re goin’ ‘ome,
Our ship is at the shore,
An’ you must pack your ‘aversack,
For we won’t come back no more.
Ho, don’t you grieve for me,
My lovely Mary-Ann,
For I’ll marry you yit on a fourp’ny bit
As a time-expired man.

The Malabar’s in ‘arbour with the ~Jumner~ at ‘er tail,
An’ the time-expired’s waitin’ of ‘is orders for to sail.
Ho! the weary waitin’ when on Khyber ‘ills we lay,
But the time-expired’s waitin’ of ‘is orders ‘ome to-day.

They’ll turn us out at Portsmouth wharf in cold an’ wet an’ rain,
All wearin’ Injian cotton kit, but we will not complain;
They’ll kill us of pneumonia — for that’s their little way —
But damn the chills and fever, men, we’re goin’ ‘ome to-day!

Troopin’, troopin’, winter’s round again!
See the new draf’s pourin’ in for the old campaign;
Ho, you poor recruities, but you’ve got to earn your pay —
What’s the last from Lunnon, lads? We’re goin’ there to-day.

Troopin’, troopin’, give another cheer —
‘Ere’s to English women an’ a quart of English beer.
The Colonel an’ the regiment an’ all who’ve got to stay,
Gawd’s mercy strike ’em gentle — Whoop! we’re goin’ ‘ome to-day.
We’re goin’ ‘ome, we’re goin’ ‘ome,
Our ship is at the shore,
An’ you must pack your ‘aversack,
For we won’t come back no more.
Ho, don’t you grieve for me,
My lovely Mary-Ann,
For I’ll marry you yit on a fourp’ny bit
As a time-expired man.


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