Saturday, December 18, 2010

What Child is this

Regardless of your view of Religion...this is a story and example we should all aspire to.

Bless you all.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Undercover Santa

Zweibrucken Air Base, Germany was an exciting place to be stationed.  Our aircraft were the RF-4C.  Instead of being fitted with the killer ordinance of the Wild Weasels, it was fitted with something even more deadly, cameras and sensors. They could fly along the Iron Curtain and tell you how many people were in a barracks, and if any of them were running a fever.

RF-4C Rolling out of a TabVee Zweibrucken AB Germany

When the Phantom runs up its engines...lights those afterburners...the earth and sky rumbles so hard you feel it in your chest.  That bright blue flame licking the runway as it rolls out is a sight to behold.  You forgot how old they were...they were high performance machines.  There are many stories for me to tell about my time with the RF-4C...but this story is about another mission the base had.

The Germans are a people of hobbies.  They often would gather near the base perimeter and collect aircraft tail numbers. Strangely enough...this is information our enemies would find useful. The base would from time to time conduct special operations at night...oddly enough the Germans would come out at night to collect tail numbers.

At the time I was a Security Police Training Instructor.  Among the many jobs I had there the one I loved the most was being the "Hey, lets try this...".  Normally that would come out of our Ops Officers "Hey, lets buy some old post WWII  tanks from France and put them on the perimeter to make the Russians think we have a tank battalion here?"  The man was literally nuts.  But he got his tanks. I loved it.

French Built AMX-13

The tanks were totally stripped down and not operational...but they did make for an impressive sight lined up along the perimeter.

Zwiebrucken was set to get a new mission, the Ops Officer decided to conduct an experiment.  He was the most persistent person I have ever met.  After several phone calls he got the ball rolling.

It was two weeks before Thanksgiving 1984.  One night out by one of the aircraft shelters along the base perimeter...large Light All Units made night into day.  The silhouette of  men moving equipment and working near and in the shelter could be seen.  A team of four guards were on duty 24/7.  This activity continued until two days before Thanksgiving.

Every night the perimeter would be visited by several cars.  Germans trying to get a glimpse of the commotion?  Maybe...maybe not.  While they watched...a team of Americans watched them..taking photos..writing down plate numbers.  On a couple of occasions, the German Police visited the onlookers.

One day a crowd of Americans, invited guests and their families gathered near the mysterious aircraft shelter...after a short speech...the hanger doors opened..and out popped a C-23A Sherpa .  It was painted black with a big red circle on its nose, and Santa was in the pilots seat.  The kids loved it...the German Hobbyist...maybe not so much.

Short C-23 Sherpa Military Transport Aircraft
C-23A Sherpa

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Wisest of the Wise.

In my short and sometimes eventful life I have read many books.  Some people measure the worth of a book by the number of words it contains.  Some measure it by the author.  For me, there was this small little yellow book...and when I say small it was less than 4 inches high, and about 3 inches wide.  It contained some proverbs by famous people.

One of these people jumped out at me.  William Sidney Porter..a former resident of Greensboro, North Carolina..Mr. Porter lived a very adventurous life...not by choice in most cases.  He had risen to riches...and dashed to absolute poverty.  

This gave him a unique look into the human condition...he turned what he saw into stories...some of the greatest stories ever told.  It is with great pleasure that I present you with one of those stories...a Christmas story.


One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.
While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad.

In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name "Mr. James Dillingham Young."
The "Dillingham" had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, though, they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called "Jim" and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.

Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn't go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling—something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.

There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pier-glass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art.

Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. Her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.
Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim's gold watch that had been his father's and his grandfather's. The other was Della's hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty's jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.

So now Della's beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.

On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street. 

Where she stopped the sign read: "Mne. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds." One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the "Sofronie."

"Will you buy my hair?" asked Della.

"I buy hair," said Madame. "Take yer hat off and let's have a sight at the looks of it."

Down rippled the brown cascade.

"Twenty dollars," said Madame, lifting the mass with a practiced hand.

"Give it to me quick," said Della.

Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim's present.

She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation—as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim's. It was like him. Quietness and value—the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain.

When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends--a mammoth task.

Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically.
"If Jim doesn't kill me," she said to herself, "before he takes a second look at me, he'll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do—oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty seven cents?"

At 7 o'clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops.

Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit for saying little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: "Please God, make him think I am still pretty."

The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two—and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves.
Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.

Della wriggled off the table and went for him.

"Jim, darling," she cried, "don't look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold because I couldn't have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It'll grow out again—you won't mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say `Merry Christmas!' Jim, and let's be happy. You don't know what a nice—what a beautiful, nice gift I've got for you."

"You've cut off your hair?" asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor.

"Cut it off and sold it," said Della. "Don't you like me just as well, anyhow? I'm me without my hair, ain't I?"
Jim looked about the room curiously.

"You say your hair is gone?" he said, with an air almost of idiocy.

"You needn't look for it," said Della. "It's sold, I tell you—sold and gone, too. It's Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered," she went on with sudden serious sweetness, "but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?"

Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year—what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on.

Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.

"Don't make any mistake, Dell," he said, "about me. I don't think there's anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you'll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first."

White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.

For there lay The Combs—the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jeweled rims—just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.

But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: "My hair grows so fast, Jim!"

And then Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, "Oh, oh!"

Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.

"Isn't it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You'll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it."

Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.
"Dell," said he, "let's put our Christmas presents away and keep 'em a while. They're too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on."

The magi, as you know, were wise men—wonderfully wise men—who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

TSA Strippers

I posted this here for my German friends.

You can see the better quality Video here.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Space Race.

Memories can be fuzzy things.  Especially, when the event happened so long ago.  There are those certain things that are as clear as the day they happened.  I have tracked my early memories based on the events of history.  One of these early memories took place when I was 4 years old.

It is significant because I shared that moment with my Dad. His excitement was a key to the memory..the event added to it.  A man, Alan B. Shepard, was about to be launched into space.  I remember the blurry image on a small black and white T.V.  I was bitten by the space bug.

I didn't just watch it on television, I played with it in the backyard.  My Dad helped me launch our first rocket.  It was a baking soda and vinegar rocket. I marveled as it buzzed to untold heights.  In fact, it probably only flew 20 feet, but it was amazing.

I remember listening to the beeps and tweets of passing satellites on a radio my Dad had built. I had no idea what it was saying, I just knew it was talking to me from space.  I watched every flight of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions.  I hung on every update, and imagined myself up there with them.

My Dad had a Ford Ltd Station Wagon. The one with the flip up seat in the back.  I would climb into that seat and imagine I was docking to the Lunar Excursion Module, as my Dad hooked up the old Cox tent camper.

I drank Tang because that is what Astronauts drank. I ate those disgusting breakfast sticks, because that is what Astronauts ate.

When I got older my Dad, Brother, and I would build better models using solid fuel engines.  These rockets would take off quickly and fly as high as a few thousand feet.  We worked at making our recovery systems better by cutting holes in the parachutes. We built our own launch pads with plywood, wire coat hangers, and 6 volt flashlight batteries. Each of us would build our own rockets then fire them as a family.

There were four rockets that I was most proud of.  The first was my attempt at multi stage rockets...the Black Widow was a two stage rocket that could reach 2000 feet.  It took me several attempts to get the second stage to light correctly...when it finally did it was attacked by a crow and destroyed during the recovery stage.

The second was a glider recovered rocket.  I painted it a super ugly dark blue.  During its maiden flight it disintegrated shortly after clearing the launch pad...too much engine...not enough rocket was to blame.  After some technical adjustments it flew well, sadly during recovery it landed high in an elm tree.  The tree, with the help of the wind destroyed it beyond recognition.

The third was the Eggscrambler. It had a clear payload area that could take and egg or other small creatures for a flight.  Its also introduced multiple engines in a single stage.  The trick was getting all three engines to fire at the same time.  We tried connecting them in parallel and in series circuits...upping the power to a 12 volt car battery.  Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.  As you might imagine we were happy when it worked, often amazed at the outcome when it didn't.

The fourth was the greatest challenge of all.  The Saturn V. This was a three foot tall, multi-engine, multi-stage rocket.  The First Stage consisted of 5 engines and the second stage consisted of 3 engines.  The rocket was a very detailed model, and because it was so heavy would only reach just a few hundred feet.

It took my Dad, Brother, and I weeks to complete the model.  Many of our early launch attempts were complete failures with only 1 or 2 of the engines lighting. We had tried launching that rocket so many times, that my brother and I never expected it to fly.

One day my Dad said he had an idea to get it off the ground.  Unfortunately, I had a very bad cold and my Mom would not allow me outside.  So I watched as my Dad set the rocket up in the field across the road.  We always followed the same launch procedure.

10.  Check to see that there are no low flying aircraft in the area.
9. Check the to insure that all batteries are connected and working.
8. Check the wind to make sure you are not down range of the rocket when it clears the guide wire.
7. Check for people down range.
6. Check for birds
5. Check again for aircraft.
2. Energize the batteries.
1. Ignite the engines.

The engines lit..all of them..and the white smoke they generated quickly became a huge cloud.  The rocket began to move!

At first it was very slow..too slow from what I could tell.  It cleared the guide wire and hovered for a moment..then...the second stage ignited..just a bit early. The shock of the second stage igniting blew the the recovery system out and the parachutes deployed.

For the next few seconds my Dad and that rocket were locked in a death dance.  It chasing him..and in the confusion...him chasing it. When it was all done, the second stage had suffered severe damage.  The rocket sat as a nice looking charred model for a few months, before being relegated to the bone yard.

When I was about 12 or so we took the trip of a lifetime..for me anyway.  My uncle was stationed at MacDill  Air Force Base...and we were going to take a trip to visit him. Along the way we visited my other Uncle who worked at Warner Robbins Air Force Base in Georgia.  That is where I saw my first C-130.  An aircraft I would become familiar with in another post.

The trip to Florida would not be wasted..we saw St. Augustine, Daytona, and my nirvana...Kennedy Space Center.  I know I must have walked around with my mouth agape...seeing the Saturn V transporter, the building where everything was put together, the history, and the sadness of the pad in which Grissom, White, and Chaffe died. We would later visit Disney Land, but I barely remember that.  Kennedy Space could you beat that?

I have followed every space mission since I was a child...As an Adult stationed at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico I was fascinated by the stories that a physicist there told me about his contribution to space flight.  Later, after receiving my degree in computers, one of my first customers was a classmate of the Rocket Boys in West Virginia.  He had to force me to take his money.  His stories were always fascinating.

The space program has contributed untold advancements in engineering, medicine, energy, and management.  I am very saddened at the possible loss of this marvelous addition to the education of America. I am hopeful that this is but a brief pause. Our space program is a National Treasure that must be preserved.

I would like to say thanks to Space Coast Conservative[dot]com for inspiring me to tell this story.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Statistics 101 for the Common Man

"Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable."
Mark Twain.

There is nothing more misused and misunderstood than statistics. I include myself in this, and I am trained to analyze data and create statistics to tell a story.  I hope to be able to help you understand how statistics work, and how to make your own statistics.

Statistics depend on two very important things...DATA..and the QUESTION. In fact Data, and the Question work with each other in developing the story you want to tell.  We will jump right in to developing our statistical data.

SITUATION: You have been hired by a High School Football Team to develop a database of the members of their football team. At first all they want to know is the name of each player, their position, Grade Level and Grade Point Average.

Your Database looks like this.


The school makes things easy for you...they only have 30 players.

THE QUESTION: The School asks you to create a report that shows the GPA for each player.  They make it easy...1.0 is a D...2.0 is a C...3.0 is a B..and 4.0 is an A.  No fractions.

THE STORY: You run a report that shows 10 players have a 4.0...10 players have a 3.0...and 10 players have a 2.0.


You open the local paper and see the Headline "Our Football Players Are The Smartest!"  The report accurately describes your data and says that "33.33% of our players are A students".  The article goes on to say that only 25% of your rivals players are A students.  

You tell the teams coach how proud you are.  That is when the coach bursts your bubble. He tells you that the other team has 100 players..25 had A's, 50 Had B's, and 25 had C's. So in reality 75% of the other team is a B or above student, and only 66.66% of our team is B or better.


The Coach is feeling the heat from the Principle.  The team, according to the Principle is lagging academically. He wants more students rated at B or better. They decide to add fractions to the GPA. An A is still 4.0, but they want you to round up all B's that are 3.6 or better, and all C's that are 2.6.  If a student has a 2.6GPA it will become a B. 

Data Manipulation is one way to change the story without changing the players.  It is easier than making kids smarter. Lets see how that has changed your report

Data Report:
  Total Players: 30
   GPA>=3.6 =A
   GPA>=2.6 =B
   GPA>=1.6 =C
   GPA>=0.6 =D

  10 Players have a 4.0, 10 Players have a 3.6, 5 players have a 2.6, and 5 have a 1.6. 

  This gives you 25 players, or 83.33% with a B or better.

Overnight you have made kids smarter..and didn't do anything "wrong".  Of course 5 are still in the box of rocks category. 


Your rival school says you manipulated the data to create a false story.  Your Principle counters that we are "better defining" the academic level of the kids.  Technically both statements are true.  Academically your kids are still the same as they were, but you have better defined, through the use of fractions, how you rate that performance. 


You have learned how to build a simple database.  Keep in mind DATA is very important..and you will learn how important in the next lesson.

You have learned how to manipulate data by changing how you define it. Data manipulation is very important when telling your story. 

Finally you have learned how to build the story with the results you want.

You are well on your way to being a professional statistician. In the next lesson you will learn advanced Statistics for Demographics.


Friday, November 19, 2010

For What Its Worth.

There's something happenin' here...what it is ain't exactly clear.
(Buffalo Springfield, "For What Its Worth" )

On a distant hill in the Mexican state of Chiapas in 1994 a new brand of warfare began.  It was not heralded in the major news was not flashed on television screens, it was not heard on the radio.  Instead, with the click of a button news of an uprising of indigenous Mexicans was reported to the world by a small and unlikely source. 

Subcomandante Marcos
Subcomandante Marcos is the spokesman for the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.  This small group of Marxists were able to report their philosophy, victories, and request support from people around the world.  Although they were not victorious in the sense of typical battles, they were successful in the media campaign. As a postmodern warrior Marcos understood the role that the Internet could play.

Today, Military forces around the world have dedicated billions of dollars, and thousands of personnel to wage the Information Wars. Every day tens of thousands of individuals fire off their thoughts in blogs, and websites.  The first victim of this war has been journalism.

Journalists, those people who attended school to be a journalist, find themselves competing with housewives, carpenters, and ditch diggers.  It is a battle they are quickly losing. News papers are finding it increasingly difficult to do battle with the multitude of opinions and part time analysts. By the time you get your paper in the morning it is old news. It has already been analyzed by thousands and sent on its way via twitter, Facebook, and blogs. 

In the old days reporters would scramble to phone in their reports...they wanted to be the first to report on important events.  There is the problem that both the reporter, and the blogger have.  They report what they are told...they may stop for a moment to consider the truth of the information, but they are on a very tight schedule to be the first.

Politics is not a game of tic-tac-toe.  If it were we would all be very good at it. Most bloggers, and many reporters are checker players.  They are good at jumping each other, thinking a move or two ahead, but not up to the task of the game of politics.  

Politics is a game of chess played on multiple boards, all at the same time, while blind folded.  The days of analyzing the information you have are over.  You must also determine why you have that information.  Where the information came from.  How important that information is, and the motives behind it.  How can your opponent use that information, and did they anticipate your reaction to the information?

I know for a fact that there a very powerful people using their money and power in an attempt to affect the course of this nation.  That has been the point of politics since the first cavemen selected a chief. Money does not elect a single person to office.  If that were the case Meg Whitman would be on her way to Congress.  

Information rules!  Do not be tricked into wasting information space by attacking the paper dragon.  The issues that face this nation is where the battleground is, Not who the fighters might be. I hesitate to give out too much need to help the other side out.  But it is important that in this fight, as in war, hold close to your enemy.  Do Not let them create diversions.  

Stop Children, what's that sound?  Everybody look what's goin' down.

Revisiting the American Situation


When I graduated from high school the last thing on my mind was higher learning.  No, I yearned for adventure.  So, I joined the Air Force.  I had no idea that  learning would be a very important part of the adventure. Basic Training taught me more than just how to stand up, walk, and wear clothes properly.  It also taught me the importance of knowing what I was all about.

Nothing can teach you more about yourself, than learning about those that came before you.  Not just your family, but the people who inhabited the land you call home. Growing up I was surrounded by Clapps, Suttons, Ingles, Shepards, Williams, and Bennets.  A solid community of Scot/Irish and Lutheran Germans. 

My town is called the City of Roses.  The people there take their roses seriously.  They also take their pecan trees, walnuts, and huge magnolias just as seriously.  Religion is on every street corner. Politics is discussed in the barber shop, along with growing tomatoes, tobacco, and squash. 

The people were proud that Andrew Jackson had practiced law just outside of town; the fact that William Sidney Porter (O'Henry) lived just up the road; Meriwether Lewis had passed close by on his way to visit his mother, and the Last Capital of the Confederacy was just 15 miles away.  They were keenly aware that Alex Haley's (author of Roots) family had been slaves in the area and visited the Company Shops in Burlington.  They were proud of the young men who staged the sit in at the Woolworth's up the road.  The history of the town is contained in its cemeteries etched on the tombstones dating back to the late 1600's.   With all of this surrounding me, it is no wonder that History is my passion.

I do not study history just for the nostalgia of a bygone era.  History describes our present, and predicts our possible future.  We just need to pay attention.  When reading this article, think about the implications this has on us today, and what it may mean for our future.

The following story took place about 10 miles from my doorstep.  It involves some of the major players of the era, and the funny thing is..they had no idea it was coming. 

Ask any school kid when the American Revolution began and they will almost always answer, July 4th 1776.  The smart kids know this is wrong.
From a political stand point the American Revolutionary Period began with the end of the French Indian War in 1763. This is when the Crown decided that the Colonials needed to pay a larger share of the cost of that war. This led to a number of Acts that imposed taxes and regulations that did not sit well with the post photo
From a military standpoint the American Revolutionary War, or The War For Independence began in 1775. In April of 1775 Colonial Militia fired on British Troops at Lexington in Massachusetts. This is often reported as the first shots of the American Revolution. Is this true?
From 1763 to 1768 minor clashes took place in the Colony of North Carolina. The issue was more than just unfair taxes. It was also with corrupt tax collectors and government officials. These officials often pocketed much of the tax money, and then declared that the people had never paid their taxes.
The people were being taxed on their crops when they were harvested, taxed when they were sold, and then taxed when they purchased items.
The colony was divided east from west. The eastern portion of the colony was considered the wealthy and “connected” people. They enjoyed freedom from many of the taxes that were being levied.
The western portion of the colony was the frontier. Life was hard as it was and the taxes made things even worse. To add insult
blog post photo
to the whole affair Governor William Tryon had a palace built that would rival many in England. Not surprisingly the colonists in the west were not happy.
In 1768, the western colonists formed a Regulator Association. The Regulators were not opposed to the Government of England, but they were opposed to the structure and fairness of the local government.
In 1771, Governor Tryon gathered a Militia of 1000 men, with plans of gathering more troops from loyalists in Regulator territory. He overestimated his support in the backcountry.
Although the Regulators were active in many counties in the west, the key territory was Orange County. Regulators who disrupted court, and beat many officials, running them out of town, had besieged the County seat, Hillsborough. Out of a population of about 8000 backwoodsmen, 6000 were supporters of the Regulators.
A standing militia of 254 men bringing the total size of his Army to 1254 joined Tryon’s force. He split his force into two units. The standing militia would approach Hillsborough via Salisbury. Tryon would take a direct route to Hillsborough.
Upon approaching Hillsborough the Standing Militia was confronted by a large group of Regulator’s numbering 2000. The Militia withdrew back toward New Bern. No shots were fired. The Regulator’s hoped that a large show of force would convince Tryon to withdraw as well.
Tryon located the Regulator force near Alamance Creek. Tryon ordered the Regulators to lay down their arms and sign an oath of allegiance. He gave them one hour to do so. The Regulators still were hopeful that their overwhelming numbers would convince Tryon to withdraw.
At the end of the hour Tryon ordered his force to fire on the Regulators. Tryon’s force hesitated. Standing up in his stirrups Tryon yelled “Either fire on them, or Fire on me”! The Battle of Alamance was on.
blog post photo
The battle was very short. The Regulator’s, though strong in numbers, lacked any leadership and were quickly driven from the field.
Nine of the Kings Militia was killed and 61 wounded. Many more Regulators were killed and 15 were captured, seven of these were later hung in Hillsborough. Tryon continued through Regulator territory and forced them to sign Loyalty Oaths.
The rebellion was crushed, but some important lessons were learned. Patriots employed the methods by which armed resistance could be used against the Crown just a few short years later in The American War for Independence.
As fate would have it, Governor Tryon was given the Governorship of New York and would face a whole new rebellion, a rebellion that he could not destroy.
Was Lexington the first shot of The American War for Independence? Historians argue that point. What do you think?
P.S. An interesting addition to this Story is Henry Husband. A Quaker, he led the call for the regulation of tax laws in the Carolina Colony. Later he was the leader of the Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ear Marks...The Tea Party takes on the Republican Dissenters.


1. Earmarks are a small part of the federal budget.

2. Politicians are addicted to earmarks.

3. Earmarks are used as a tool to control our representatives.

4. Earmarks though not large in comparison does not mean they are inconsequential. Fiscal responsibility means everything must pass the cost/benefit test.  Earmarks provide no benefit.

5. Although many representatives were elected in past years based on their promise to eliminate earmarks, none have done so.

6. There are Conservatives opposed to the ban on earmarks. 


1. Remind the newly appointed representatives that although the election is over, we have not stopped watching.

2. Call your representative and find out how they plan to vote on this important bill. If they are going to oppose it, remind them of Nov 2nd 2010.

3. Call the following senators and remind them of who they represent.

Mitch McConnell (KY)

(202) 224-2541

Jim Inhofe (OK) 
(202) 224-4721    

Lindsey GrahamSC) 
(202) 224-5972

Lamar Alexander (TN) 
(202) 224-4944

Jon Kyl (AZ)
(202) 224-4521

John Barrasso (WY)
(202) 224-6441

John Thune (SD)
(202) 224-2321

Teufel Hunden

Teufel Hunden

            With Veteran’s Day fast approaching I have always felt that something should be said for those that came before us.  In our modern world we often get bogged down with the politics of war and fail to remember the sacrifice, dedication, and patriotism expressed by those who go to war on our behalf.  The right and wrong of a war can be argued.  But the shear bravery, audacity, creativity, and selflessness of those who fight reflects honor on our country, and sends a message to our foes.  Don’t Tread on us.

          This story is the story of the United States Marine Corps.

            The U.S. 2nd and 3rd Divisions had been dispatched at the request of the French, by General John “Black Jack” Pershing to defend the area around the city of Chateau-Thierry. The divisions fell under command of the French XXI Corps.  This meant that although the American divisions were part of the American Expeditionary Force, they would receive and follow the orders of the French.

            The need for these units was based on a thrust by the German Army Group Crown Prince toward Paris.  The German Army Group had dispatched the 237th Division, 10thDivision and later reinforcements from the 197th, 87th, and 28th Divisions to take and occupy the Chateau-Thierry area.

On the first of June 1918, Marine Captain Lloyd Williams began to dig in along with the rest of second division near the town of Lucy-le-Bocage.  When advised to withdraw he said, “Retreat Hell, we just got here!”   The whole move had been a mess, given the emergency of moving a whole division to counter the German thrust.  However, the Marines quickly turned disorder into order.  Soon they were demonstrating to the Germans the damage American marksmanship can provide. 

On the 2nd and 3rd of June the German 237th Division Occupied Belleau Wood.

On the 4th the Germans launch an attack at a place called Les Mares Farm.  The 2ndBattalion, 5th Marines defend the farm.  The Germans ran head long into well-prepared positions.  Marine machinegun, and artillery tear into the assault and turn it back.  This is the closest the Germans will ever get to Paris, just 50 miles away.

On the 5th the French commander orders the 2nd Division to recapture Belleau Wood.  The 4th Marine Brigade is tasked to recapture the wood.  According to the French the Germans only occupy a small corner of the wood.

On the 6th of June the Marines launch their attacks.  The first attack comes at 0500 to capture hill 142.  With this hill the Marines can support the main attack on the wood. Despite some tense moments this attack is successful.

At 1700 hours the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments frontally assault the wood.  To get there they must cross a wheat field.  The wheat field is well covered by German machineguns.  Gunnery Sgt Dan Daly yells, “come on you son of a bitches, you want to live forever?”  The attack is a near disaster.

The 3rd Battalion 5th Marines are decimated and the 3rd Battalion 6th Marines barely make it into the woods.  In addition to the attack on the wood, the 4th Brigade was ordered to take a railroad station just outside of the town of Bouresches.  The station is heavily defended and the attack fails.  The action on this day results in the most casualties suffered by the Marines in a single day, 1087 men.

From the 7th to the 15th of June the Marines engage in the back and forth of trench warfare.  They endure bombardment and gas attacks.

On The 16th of June the 3rd Divisions Army units relive the Marines.

On the 22nd of June the Marines reenter the battle relieving the Army units.  The French continue to order the woods be taken.

On the 23rd of June the Marines launch an assault that makes very little headway, but results in terrible casualties. Two hundred ambulances are needed to remove the wounded.

On the 25th of June the French finally bring in enough guns to reduce the woods to firewood.  After a 14-hour bombardment the Marines capture the wood.

On the 26th of June Major Maurice Shearer sends the signal “Woods now entirely-U.S. Marine Corps.”

Legend has it that a German dispatch to headquarters described the newly arrived American forces as fighting like “Tuefel Hunden” or “Hounds from Hell.”  This is the origin of the term “Devil Dogs”, a common term of endearment and honor for the Marines.

The result of the action at Belleau Wood demonstrated to the Germans that the Americans were here to fight.  The overall action resulted in the German advance being stopped.

Total casualties 9,777

Medal of Honor awards: Gunnery Sgt E.A. Janson, Lt. JG. Weedon Osborne (a street in Bouresches is named for him), Lt. Orlando Perry, and Gunnery Sgt. F. Stockham.

Excerpt of a Citation from the French Government.

During these operations [of early June], thanks to the brilliant courage, vigour, dash, and tenacity of its men, who refused to be disheartened by fatigue or losses; thanks to the activity and energy of the officers, and thanks to the personal action of Brig. Gen. Harbord, the efforts of the brigade were crowned with success, realizing after twelve days of incessant struggle an important advance over the most difficult of terrain and the capture of two support points of the highest importance, Bouresches village and the fortified wood of Belleau.”

In French, Belleau Wood is Bois de Belleau.  At the end of the battle the French renamed it to “Bois de la Brigade de Marine.”

Salute to the “Devil Dogs.”

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

How to Build a Strawman.

The Logical Fallacy of the Strawman.

As a recruit into the military we used paper targets to represent the enemy.  The problem with this is, those paper targets never moved...or shot back.  It was in fact a Fallacy to call these targets representations of the enemy.  A better description is one my football coach used to use...he called people who went full speed against the tackle dummy, but held back in a real game..."Dummy Tackle All Americans".  

The first step in building a Strawman in an argument is to build a false representation of your opponent and avoid the actual argument.  . For instance, "The Republican electoral resurgence – like Ronald Reagan’s original coalition – combines collaborative but often contradictory forces, from anti-government Tea Partiers and libertarians to corporatists who feast on government contracts and Christian nationalists who want government-imposed “morality.”(1)  Let's take this statement apart and describe just two of the  Strawmen.

The first Strawman: "The Republican electoral resurgence..." is an argument all unto itself.  Although the Republicans did indeed have the greatest gain in seats in the House, they did not capture the Senate.  The statement assumes the resurgence is of Republicans versus Conservative thinking.  As you can see it avoids the argument.

The second Strawman: " Ronald Reagan’s original coalition – combines collaborative but often contradictory forces, from anti-government Tea Partiers and libertarians to corporatists..." quite a mouthful.  Is the argument that Reagan had a coalition, a coalition of Tea Partiers (I don't think they existed), Libertarians, and Corporatists?  Is the argument that the Tea Party is anti-government? Are Libertarians anti-government...what about Corporatists?  

How does someone use the Strawman?  By creating a false representation of your opponents postion, and then refuting appears that by refuting the false representation you refute all of the actual representations of your opponent. In fact, you are creating a "Dummy Tackle"..and you are a "Dummy Tackle All American". 

Sadly, by using the Strawman the writer loses the argument at the onset, making all of their statements in support of the Strawman worthless.

Footnote: (1) Taken from Florida Today as quoted by RonnieRaygun from an article by Rev Howard Bess. No link to the original article was provided.