Friday, November 30, 2018

Stub 10.3: That is pronounced "Foo-Chard"

By nine in the morning, the lead elements of the Sedelia invasion were forming up in the vast parking lots north of Shaw Avenue and east of Cal 168.

Trucks loaded with generators, welding supplies, groceries and the like had been arriving since six and they were staging in the area set aside for logistics in the parking lots west of Woodrow Ave. Direct assault elements were east of Woodrow.

The raw reality of the scattered, unorganized avalanche of men and materials demanded that the effort become self-organizing. The core-team arbitrarily decided to launch waves every four hours.

The first wave to launch consisted of most of the Godzillas, a quarter of the Armored Personnel Carriers, half of the best battle-tested troops, several trucks that were partially loaded with groceries and a fleet of flat-bed farm trucks and a scant, few buses.

The grocery trucks were only partially loaded because there was not time to cross-load. Fork trucks simply pulled ¾ of the load off each truck. While there was no way to be certain, it was expected that the three thousand hungry prisoners would not turn their noses up at Dinty Moore Beef Stew, Pop-Tarts, Granola bars, carrots and Mountain Dew soda pop made with REAL cane sugar.

The flat-bed trucks sported an eclectic assortment of hardware. Some had Soviet era GPU 14.5mm anti-aircraft machine guns. Some were rolling, sandbagged sniper nests. Some had generators that were started and left running for the duration. Some had miscellaneous welding and machine tools. Others had tow-truck stingers, slings, booms and rigging.

Trucks and helicopters continued to arrive in Fresno even as the convoy headed north on 168 toward the frontier, thirty miles to the north. One helicopter stopped on the southbound freeway to off-load a special passenger just before the convoy reached the frontier. Her name was Dee Evans. She was an eleventh hour addition to the manifest.

The convoy drove up the southbound lanes as no traffic was coming from Cali even as traffic was backed up fifteen miles into Sedelia.

Hopping out of the lead, rolling sniper-nest, Bucky walked up to the eight lanes of turnstiles that had brought all north-south traffic to a halt.

Walking up to a gruff looking trucker standing at the southbound turnstiles. Buckey addressed the man who was wearing a leather H-D vest and sporting a mullet, a neat trick when you are balding. “Hey, Fuck-head. That you stopping up traffic?” Buckey shouted.

Fuck-head hawked and spit. “Its pronounced ‘Foo-Chard’, dumb-shit.” The men clasped hands like old friends.

“Been listening to the chatter?” Buckey asked, referring to the CB radio that old time truckers still used.

“Yeah. Was wondering when you would get here.” ‘Foo-Chard’ said.

“Here is the plan:” Buckey announced. “We drop the turnstiles in the two southbound lanes closest to the median. We can't get to the northbounds because of the stacked up traffic. We got generators and plasma-arc cutters. It will take us about five minutes.”

“Then, you move the five vehicles closest to the turnstiles through but don’t let anybody else move. We drive through the gap you opened up. Then you guys can go.” Buckey said.

“What are you going to do if number six decides to follow the first five?” Foo-Chard asked.

Buckey eloquently pointed to the flat-beds bristling with gun barrels. “They die.” he said with no drama or emphasis.

“Gonna take you ten minutes to drive through the gap. Don’t suppose you could keep cutting the turn-stiles while that is happening?” Foo-Chard stated.

Buckey considered for a couple of seconds. “I can leave one flat-bed with a generator and cutter. We can drop one more south bound lane and open up three north bound lanes in that time. Then they are going to have to haul ass to get up to the next set of turn-stiles. That do-ya?” Buckey counter-offered.

“Works for me.” Foo-Chard said.

Then Foo-Chard walked up to the vehicles that were sixth in line and had a short chat with the drivers. He suggested that they pull the keys from the ignition and sit on them for the next twenty minutes...if they wanted to live to see tomorrow.

Foo-Chard had a certain charisma that made him difficult to argue with. Some of the drivers who were sixth in line decided to take a short walk and take a leak. They did not plan on stopping once they started moving again.


Thursday, November 29, 2018

Non-lethal methods for psychiatric patients in the wild

Eaton Rapids is not affluent enough to have its own, resident homeless population. Rather, we share them with Charlotte a town nine miles to our west.

One of our part-time homeless is a woman in her mid twenties. Rumor is that she has a home but is unwilling to follow the rules of the home owners.

It is notable that she wears a winter coat throughout the year. Even in July her coat is not un-zipped. Rather, it is tightly belted around her. I was informed that this is not uncommon among people struggling with mental health issues like severe anxiety and schizophrenia.

Digging into the topic more deeply, therapists often use a weighted blanket to sooth agitated patients. Parents do the same with cranky infants by tightly swaddling them. I suspect it makes them feel like they are still in the womb. It should come as no surprise that some people afflicted with mental illness attempt to self-sooth or self-medicate with excessive amounts of clothing.

Non-lethal means
The wearing of heavy, winter clothing comes into play when a person with mental health issues exhibits behaviors that necessitate a 9-1-1 call.

Suppose the police show up to assess a disturbance. Suppose the person with mental health issues is clearly "not regulated" to the point where the police are compelled to subdue the person with non-lethal means.

Further, suppose the Taser (the first choice) is not effective.

Maybe the prongs cannot penetrate the many layers of clothing. Maybe the clothing is saturated with sweat and the current is conducted through the clothing rather than the person's nervous system. Regardless, what is a cop going to do after the Taser "bounces off" the customer?

Likely they will escalate to lethal means rather than attempt a second kind of non-lethal means.

When 9-1-1 dispatch includes the words "Psychiatric" or "Mental Health" in the call to the first responders, and if the customer is very large or sweaty or very heavily dressed regardless of the time of least one of the first responders should have their spare hand on the pepper spray rather than the Taser as they attempt to talk the customer down.

Stub 10.2: Packing the Jack-in-the-Box

By 3:30 AM the core group was in conference call.

Dilip outlined Who, What, How, Where, When and Why.

The most pressing issue was When.

Time lapse images suggested that the trenches would be finished by noon the next day. That gave Sedelia approximately 30 hours to organize and launch an expedition and secure the 640 acre prison site.

In the best of times that would be a 10 hour drive. These were anything but the best of times in Cali.

Kenny authorized that Armored Personnel Carriers and Godzillas be loaded on low-boy trailers and started toward the Sedelia-Cali frontier. Distance is time and closing that distance created more options.

Then Kenny started pinning Pitoitua’s ears back. “What do you mean, you don’t know how to plan an offensive?”

Pitoitua had been awakened from a sound sleep. He had been one of the heroes during the final Sedelia defense during the Cali invasion. That is how twenty Godzillas, 122mm self-propelled Soviet howitzers, several hundred APC and a thousand motor coaches (i.e. buses) had fallen into Sedelia’s hands. He was not having a good morning.

“What I am trying to say is that losses might be horrendous. We have no solid intelligence. I am not sure we should risk our assets for an unknown number of prisoners.” Pitoitua backpedaled.

Kenny Lane could be profane. He could be loud. He was nearly always abrasive. But he was scariest when he was polite.

“Well, let’s just work this out.” Kenny said.

“What are APCs and artillery for?” Kenny asked.

“Um, fighting battles.” Pitoitua said, twisting a little bit in his discomfort.

“What are they doing now?” Kenny asked.

“Sitting.” Pitoitua said.

“Wrong answer. You are supposed to say 'Half of them are loaded on trailers and the rest will be strapped down and moving in half an hour.' ” Kenny said."Both you and I were on the wrong end of things in the last war when Logistics decided that it was too much trouble to deliver Haseb 107mm rockets to us. 'Too much trouble' doesn't cut it.

“Step into the other room, use your phone and then we will continue this conversation.” Kenny Lane finished, dismissing him with a wave of his hand.

Speaking to Dilip, “What is your estimate of the number of prisoners who we might be rescuing?” Kenny asked.

“Judging from the rated capacity of the facility and recent images from the outside exercise areas, we are looking at three or four thousand people.” Dilip said.

“Shit!” Kenny said. “That is about one-hundred buses.”

“Dilip, I want you to go off-line and whistle up the SD-LA public transportation department. Tell them I just called a public holiday. No work. Let’s plan on twice that number of buses because I don’t know how many will be able to make it that far.” Kenny said.

Pitoitua came back on-line. “The trucks will be on the road in twenty minutes. They have been practicing this because we were about to have exercises along the Mexican border.”

“What did you learn?” Kenny asked.

“Not to push back.” Pitoitua said.

“No, when you were defending LA, what did you learn. What gave you nightmares? For that matter, what still gives you nightmares?” Kenny asked. “The shoe is on the other foot. We had some expensive lessons. We cannot afford to fail to learn from them.”

Pitoitua thought for a few seconds. “I have nightmares about cruise missiles. I have nightmares about assaults that move way faster than anybody thought they could move. I have nightmares about assaulting fixed positions when the defenders have drone coverage.”

“Not sure I can help you with the cruise missiles. I ain’t gonna tell you how to run this invasion, but have you given any thought as to how you might be able to truck the armed vehicles all the way to the target prison on trailers?” Kenny asked.

“Those trucks can go 70 miles an hour which is way faster than the Godzillas can go, even in a sprint. Plus, those trailers ride pretty smooth. Might be able to shoot off of them.” Kenny suggested.

Pitoitua excused himself so he could consult with the trailers which were about to leave the marshalling yard. He was going to hold up the launch by ten minutes and have the howitzer barrels “unparked” from the shipping position. They might lose some accuracy shooting from the trailers but, by God, they looked as dangerous as hell.

Chad piped up. “We will need to find crews and hook up with the caravan before it crosses the frontier.”

“Yeah. I get that.” Kenny said. “That is where you come in. I can get helicopters and move people around. I need you to drum up volunteers. I am thinking at least two per bus plus crews to run the Godzillas and APCs.”

“That is two, maybe three hundred soldiers.” Chad said, aghast. “I can twist arms and maybe get ten or fifteen in that time-frame. But no way in hell can I get three hundred.”

“Yes there is.” Kenny said. “El Patron could get thirty-thousand out of LA alone. You have had time to heal up. There are three or four thousand young people who are going to get a bullet in the back of their head if you cannot step-up.”

“Give me a few minutes to get used to the idea.” Chad said. “What are we going to do about logistics?”

Kenny smiled an evil smile. “He is next on my list.”

Not too many fat, old, diabetic truck drivers get direct phone calls from the Prime Minister of Sedelia. Bucky Christensen was taken aback when his phone lit off just as he was sitting down for coffee at the truck-stop where he had spent the night.

“Hmm-yept. Whatchya got going on, Kenny?” Bucky rumbled into his phone. “Couldn’t it have waited until after my first cup of coffee?”

“Nope. Not this time.” Kenny said.

“I need somebody to organize a convoy of trucks to head for Fresno. Basically I need you to bring the contents of a Walmart store and a Farm-and-Fleet store and I need you there in eight hours.” Kenny said.

Bucky groaned. Not because what Kenny asked for was technically impossible but because it was going to be hard. Very, very hard.

“I need more details.” Bucky said. He reached into his 72 hour bag and pulled out his CB radio. He plugged into the AC power outlet at the counter. He had a feeling he was going to be doing a lot of talking into it over the next four hours.


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Stub 10.1: Chopping at the roots and names mean something

Dilip encountered Radihka and Tory during his usual midnight stroll. As was usual, he heard them discussing something heatedly before he saw them.

He bought the customary lattes and brought them over.

“Even if we weed out the worst Cali government officials, what is to keep more from filling the vacant niche?” Radihka asked.

“Maybe the fact that they are gonna get killed.” Tory replied.

“We can’t expect this doxxing virus to work forever. It WILL get countermeasured and then we will be right back where we started.” Radihka said.

“So what are you thinking?” Tory said.

“I think we need to chop away at the enablers, the environment that makes corrupt officials inevitable.” Radihka said.

“Think about Australia,” Radihka said. “Opossum mutated and became Tasmanian Devils, and mice and kangaroos and Duck-billed Plattapii.”

Radihka’s biology might have been a little bit off but she made her point. Organisms evolve to best capture streams of energy that flow through the ecosystem.

“And again I ask, what are you thinking.” Tory said.

“That is where I stop thinking. I was hoping one of you would have some ideas.” Radihka admitted. This was the first time that Dilip had been included without asking.

Tory was shaking her head. She was twenty-one and didn’t have the life experiences to have a sense of what to do next.

Dilip, however, had a few more miles on his odometer.

“There are people, let’s call them contractors, who get preferential treatment and win bids when they are not the lowest cost bidder. Then they make huge profits. They are the ones who bend the official’s behaviors. Nearly anybody can be bought when enough money is waved in front of their face.” Dilip said.

“How would you go looking for those ‘contractors’? Tory asked, interested.

“You would start with who you are not looking for. You could probably drop out all firms where less than 50% of their revenue comes directly from Cali.” Dilip said. “That would thin out most of the small businesses.”

“Then you would remove all of the contractors who have less than one million Callors profit a year using your imputed income model. It is hard to buy much influence with less than a million Callors.” Dilip continued.

“Finally, you would benchmark your imputed profit margin against industry averages. Giving companies the benefit of the doubt, even if they made twice the profit margin there is a chance that they are just very, very efficient. If their profit margin is more than twice the industry average then they undoubtedly getting the business with kickbacks rather than lowest bid.” For Dilip, that was a long speech.

“We have a test database, why don’t we give it a whirl?” Radihka said.

The test run indicated that some of the suspect contractors popped up due to inheritances. Others due to one-time occurrences like sales of subsidies. Another complication was that the imputed income model struggled when "income" disappeared as bribes that were given to others. Nevertheless, there were workarounds.

After that, the three were pretty happy with the population when Tory had a thought. “We might want to fiddle with the population we dox them to. What good will it do if the person we dox is doxxed to their employees. Likely they will be too intimidated to do anything about it.”

Finally, the three came up with only doxxing them in public venues like restaurants and sports stadiums.

As they were breaking up at 2:30 AM, Radikha said in an off-hand way, “I heard from AJ but I don’t understand what he was trying to say.”

Dilip and Tory sat back down.

Radikha pulled up the picture and text message. “I don’t get it.”

Tory shook her head in the negation, wondering why Tim-Tom hadn’t sent her a text. Clearly he was OK. He was in the background goofing off, although she had never seen a guy “show his guns” the way he was doing. He was bent over at the waist. His left hand was slightly in front of his left knee and his left forearm paralleled his thigh. Tim-Tom’s right hand was near his right pocket and was oriented palm up. He was clearly “making muscles” because they were all popped out like he was lifting something heavy

She figured it was an "Illinois" thing.

The first thing Dilip saw was the picture of Tim-Tom but he didn’t give it much thought. He found the actions of most young people incomprehensible so he didn’t even try to understand.

Then he read the text. “Kaytn Forest Cwiok”,

That tickled some neurons. Kaytn Forest meant something to him. “Did the picture come with Geo data?” he asked.

“I didn’t look.” A second later. “Yes it does.”

In fifteen seconds Dilip was looking at overhead imagery of the location. It showed hundreds, maybe thousands of men digging a trench. The trench was hundreds of feet long, nine feet wide and about four feet deep.

Dilip popped open Wikipedia to refresh his memories regarding Katyn Forest.

Then he woke up Kenny Lane, the Prime Minister of Sedelia, with a phone call. Kenny was up in East Orosi for the weekend.

“Boss, we got a situation. How quick can you get with your buddy Chad?” was all Dilip said.


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Knobs versus switches

The latest Woodpile Report references an essay by Larry Correia. One memorable line in that essay reads "...for most people on the left political violence is a knob, and they can turn the heat up and down… But for the vast majority of folks on the right, it’s an off and on switch."

Some of that can be attributed to "collectivism". Decisions of individuals are binary. But the opinions of a populations, say ten or fifteen people, starts to look like a continuum. That focus on collectivism means that the puppet-masters can modulate responses by tweaking rhetoric and media exposure.

The "Left" cannot operate outside of the "collective" because the only way to elude moral accountability is via dilution. That barista in Pittsburgh would never assault another human of his own violition but he has been brainwashed via social and mass media to think it is ennobling if he does it against a nameless conservative during a demonstration.

The arch-type conservative, however, is a different kettle of fish. He minds his own business and just tries to get by. He rarely wastes effort attempting to change what is hardwired into human nature. It is wasted effort. Rather, he stays in his swim lane and does the best he can minute-by-minute, as an individual.

That makes him binary. Safe .or. Fire

Unlike the left which can activate any percentage of under-employeed baristas from Pittsburgh to Pasadena by tweaking their rhetoric, the right is composed of millions of autonomous decision makers trying to make it through another hour, another day, another week, another month.

Trust me, you don't want to make him leave his swim lane. Then his head comes up and he starts looking around. In engineer-speak, the transition Safe .or. Fire will be a brittle failure. They are a simple thumb-sweep away from changing potential energy to kinetic energy.

Something that the Left has not considered is that the conservative is not likely to feel constrained by the Left's Rules of Engagement. The venue will not be a stylized Kabuki Theater played out in front of Big City's finest. It won't be scheduled for early afternoon in front of video cameras in time to make prime-time news. Nope. It will be onesie-twosie in faculty offices and while the barista opens or closes the Starbucks in the wee-hours.

It will look like random crime.

Stub 9.9: Sending a message

“Hey buddy,” AJ greeted the regular guard. “I need a favor.”

The guard asked, “What do you have to trade?”

“I know some KILLER websites with pictures of hot women and I guarantee the filter on your phone won’t stop them.” AJ Cwiok said.

The guard considered it for a minute. He was not a quick thinker.

“Give me the website addresses and I might do your favor.” the guard counter-offered.

“I will give you ONE site, you do my favor and I will give you the others.” AJ countered.

“What is the website address?” the guard asked.

“It will be faster if you just hand me the phone and I type it in.” AJ said.

The guard would have plenty of reason to beat the shit out of AJ and his asshole buddy with his billy club if AJ did not hand it back so he willingly handed it through the bars.

AJ’s flying fingers also turned on the “geo” function so pictures would be tagged with GPS positions as he typed in the URL of the stash of hottie pictures.

AJ handed it back.

The guard scrolled through the pictures. They were breathtakingly beautiful girls with exactly the amount of clothing that appealed to the guard.  "They are all brunettes." the guard commented.

"The other three sites have blondes, redheads and albinos." AJ assured him.

"Albinos?" the guard asked. "What is an 'albino'?"

"Blonder than blonde." AJ assured him. "You will like."

“Fair enough. What is your ‘favor’.” the guard asked.

“My girlfriend is knocked up and she is going to have our second daughter in three weeks. She promised that I could to name this one and I know that if she has it before I get back home then she will name it. You know how women are. It is sure to be something stupid.” AJ said.

“I just want to send her the name I picked out and maybe you could include a photo to show I am ‘OK’. “ AJ requested.

That sounded fair to the guard.


AJ was counting on the fact that all the guards were disadvantaged minorities and only needed a 60% on the Cali civil service exam to get hired.

“What is the name?” the guard asked.

“Kaytn Forest Cwiok” AJ said.

“How do you spell that?” the guard asked, baffled.

“Probably faster if you let me type it and take the selfie.” AJ said. “I will let you look it over before I send it.

The guard could see no harm in AJ’s request.

It only took a few seconds to type in the name. Tim-Tom photobombed the selfie and made a goofy set of “muscles” in the background.

The guard gave the message a cursory glance, then typed in the number AJ gave him and sent the message.

AJ was as good as his word and gave the guard the other three URLs with the stealthy pictures that would slip through the security software.



Monday, November 26, 2018

Stub 9.8: Regulations and Corrections

The effect on the Regulations Department was swift and decisive.

For most Cali residents, Regulations was the face of the Cali government. Regulation manned the turn-stiles and kiosks that stopped traffic on major thoroughfares every fifty kilometers. Regulation issued permits. Regulation inspected for violations and had could order you to tear down you own house...and then force you to pay for “certified” haulers to remove the debris.

Because there were millions of employees in the Regulations Department, there were few who skimmed millions of Callors. But they were hated all the same.

Word spread swiftly when the Cartel switched from Department of Homeland Security targets to Regulations. For one thing, the targets in Regulations were far more exposed. A hitman could mow down ten Regulations employees in the same amount of time, and with less effort, than attempting to kill one Department of Homeland Security employee.

Word spread like wildfire. Second shift did not show up.

In some places, travelers who were stuck behind locked turnstiles took matters into their own hands. The instructions on the controls for the turnstiles were clearly marked out in graphics and icons. The helpful travelers quickly determined that the owners of authorized thumbprints did not need to be alive, nor did the thumbs need to remained attached to the owner’s hands in order for them to work.

What the helpful travelers did not comprehend was that as long as they were close to the previous owner of the thumb...or more precisely, the previous owner’s smart phone, everybody would assume THEY were the target. Nobody volunteered to work the turnstiles when there were two corpses in them.

Sacramento had been spared the worst of the carnage. The majority of the residents in Sacramento were part of the government. There was safety in numbers. What they were not prepared for was to have all highways leading to-and-from Sacramento shut down.

That instantly threw industries that were totally dependent on Sacramento for material support into a death spiral. Industries that depended on materials from Sacramento found themselves running out of critical consumables within hours of the roads locking up.

An office building can hobble along without copier paper or toner, at least for a while. The same cannot be said for a prison running out of food or a police station running out of gasoline.

Corrections, or prison guards are a hardy lot. Like Regulations, few Corrections officers got wealthy via graft. Consequently, there were very few that triggered geo-fences.

The other thing about Corrections is that they must live with the knowledge that they can encounter a former customer at any time, under any circumstances. It was a rare Cali Corrections officer who was not hyper-vigilant and armed when in public.

Corrections is an exclusive club. They hang out together. Nobody can watch your back like another Corrections officer. And they don’t think you are weird or paranoid.

The Wardens were on the phone with Headquarters shortly the second delivery truck failed to show up. Headquarters was far more insulated from the problem and fail to grasp just how dire the situation was. HQ thought they had problems and that the Wardens were being drama queens.

The message back to the Wardens was simple. “You get paid a lot of money to deal with problems. This is your problem. Deal with it.” And then HQ stopped answering the phones.


Saturday, November 24, 2018

Administrative Notice

Cletus and Zeke are going to take a short vacation.

I screwed up. The Blogger platform only shows 100 posts per month in in the Archive so older posts become much less accessible. This is post #100 for November so I am going to chill for a while.

Stub gets the nod for because Cletus and Zeke stories are character sketches with no unified story line. Also because Stub is picking up the pace.

Thank-you for your understanding.

Note: Several Fake News Fridays put into "Draft" to shrink below the magic 100 for the month.

Friday, November 23, 2018

When dogma and reality collide

What happens when dogma that refuses to recognize reality collides with karma.

H/T Aesop

Weeds are trying to tell you something

Mrs ERJ and I were walking in Lansing's Adado Riverfront Park looking at invasive Bradford Flowering Pear trees taking over the riverbank.

Bradford Pear, Pyrus calleryana, makes a dandy pear rootstock especially for Asian pears. And pears are the single best fruit to grow when in a no-spray environment because worms cannot mine enough protein from the fruit to grow.

Later that day I saw a specimen with larger-than-species fruit. I checked them out and they were almost edible. The leave suggest that it was a grafted tree that died and the rootstock is a P. calleryana-pyrifolia hybrid.

Gobs of fruit on this tree. The strait species is about pea sized.
A gallon of the fruit may have followed me home.

Pure calleryanna leaf on left and a hybrid on the right.
Another clue involves the leaves. Calleryanna hangs onto its leaves into November. It wants to be a tropical tree. Pyrifolia is a temperate species and dumps it leaves. If you look at the photo of the tree you will see very few leaves hanging on.

Gratuitous picture
A gentleman was feeding ducks at Adado Riverfront park and noticed my camera. He asked if I wanted an action shot and then frisbeed a slice of bread out into deep water.

Yep, good action shot.

Belladonna wants to go hunting tomorrow

The time we have with our children is fleeting.
They sell skirts at the store where we picked up hair extensions. Bella suggested that I not help buy her clothes. She said, "They look like 1968."

This is a "hair" weekend. Bella is african-American and wears her hair in mini-cornrows. They start getting fuzzy after three or four months and then it is time to rotate the tires, change the oil and redo the hair. It takes many hours to prepare for the actual braiding. The old ones must be laboriously un-done.

Belladonna parks in front of the TV and binge watches whatever strikes her fancy. We have one TV. It is in our common room. With rare exceptions, what Belladonna fancies does not appeal to me.

So the plan is for Bella to work on her hair, hair, hair today. And then tomorrow to go hunting and hopefully shoot a deer.

The story is eternal: Hair today, guns tomorrow.

"Authority issues" in survival bunkers

Some people totally get the importance of not inviting ANYBODY with authority issues into your survival bunker.

Others are clueless.

This essay is for the second group.

I will present three facets of many people living in tight quarters. There are hundreds of opportunity for friction. I am presenting three for illustration so you can use your imagination on the others.

In a previous essay I winnowed through a fictional group of family groups and affiliations. I also suggested a list of A-Pile, High priorties.

The A-Pile, High priority group consists of nine adults, ten children and fifteen vehicles.

Our driveway barely accommodates three vehicles. That means that twelve vehicles have to be parked somewhere other than the driveway.

The three vehicles in circulation are community vehicles and rides must be coordinated and shared.

How is that going to fly when one of the group grabs the keys and flies off in a huff?  Or perhaps they insist on getting into their car where it is parked out back, gets it stuck and then demands it be unstuck?

Or if they do make a run to town, what is the likelihood that they bring back the Masque of the Red Death?  You hunkered down for a reason.

19 people eat a lot of food and can dirty an incredible number of dishes, pots and pans. Food prep and cleanup for five, individual family groups takes a lot of time and gobbles up a lot of LP gas and wash water. It makes all the sense in the world to make ONE pot of oatmeal in the morning. It makes all the sense in the world to make ONE pot of chili or rice-and-beans for the evening meal.

Food restrictions are a concern. Lactose and gluten intolerance do exist. But if a person is gluten intolerant and they know chili-and-cornbread are on the night's menu, THEY can save an appropriate carbohydrate from earlier in the day or simply skip the cornbread.

The person with authority issues is guaranteed to insist that they get to make their own food and the prime prep time slot. Damned hard to get the horses back into the barn after that precedent is set.

The EPA figures one hundred gallons of water, per day, per person for domestic use.

They also strongly recommend a minimum of one day's detention time for incoming waste water.

They also strongly recommend a 100% factor of overdesign because that tank will be filling up from the first day it goes on-line. That is, the standard 1000 gallon septic tank is marginally adequate for five people when it is half full.

That means limited showers, limited laundry and an outdoor latrine if the facility is to sustain nineteen people for a period of weeks-to-years.

Indoor toilets are to be reserved for night-time emergencies and training kids. Nothing goes down the toilet except urine, feces and toilet paper.

And can you just hear your favorite entitled "I don't have problems with authority...I have problems with YOU having authority." person not thinking "How will they ever know?" or "Just this once." or "They don't mean me." or "Its yucky. I can't touch it." ?

Cletus and Zeke: Why they don't work Carnivals

Readers, having followed the adventures of Cletus and Zeke over these last few weeks now have a greater insight into the counterpoint-cadenza of how Cletus and Zeke confront adversity. In fact, the reader's understanding surpasses the understanding of any of the people in Cletus and Zeke's background with the exception of their families.

The reader might be curious, "How does somebody like Cletus or Zeke come into existance?"

That is an unanswerable question because every person who enters our life, no matter how fleeting, leaves a mark. However, it is possible to see some inflection points where what could have been becomes what is.

Cletus was the second oldest boy of the Thelen family. His brothers, Linus, Clement, Sixtus and Cornelius became an accountant, an engineer, a doctor and a lawyer respectively. Linus still did Cletus's taxes...which often took some creative thinking.

As a young man, Cletus could run with any of his brothers academically so one can be forgiven for being curious as to why he had no home or wife to call his own while his brothers are pillars of their respective communities.

Not surprisingly, it started with romance and a lust to travel.

Between his junior and senior year, Cletus worked as a "carny". The county fair was one of the earliest in Michigan in his county. His parents agreed to let him follow the carnival as long as he was back when football practice started.

Cletus had a bit of a problem with impulse control and with keeping his opinions to himself. It is not an uncommon failing with young men.

He found himself paired with an old Cajun working the Whirly-gig. The ride was a death-trap waiting to happen. Motors were tired. Brakes gasped for breath. Hydraulics leaked like the Whitehouse. Welds were cracked and grease leaked all over. But that is what Cletus was working on.

Growing up on a farm, Cletus had firm opinions on how things should be maintained. The older gentleman's priorities were elsewhere. He had a pint of Popov vodka squirrelled away and he got really tired of Cletus's bullshit.

It was a case of two different worlds colliding. Cletus really could have found somebody who would reweld the gussets that were cracking. He had the skills to find brake-pads that would fit and replace the metal-on-metal pads that were grinding in the brake mechanism.

Cletus's downfall is that he pushed faster than the senior member of the team could tolerate.

Cletus had found a can of glossy, white spray paint in one of the shed and had sprayed one of the welds that was cracking after the crowd had gone home. He wanted to see if the crack was growing. To get to the cracked gusset he had ridden a car to a point fifteen feet above the ground.

Then Cletus asked the old man to jog the ride to bring him back down to ground level.

Te old Cajun was chomping at the bit to get back to his pint. The old Cajun jogged the mechanism and then stood on the brake.

Friction material does more than provide friction between pad-and-disc. It provides predictable friction. Metal-on-metal is not predictable. Usually it slides, which is why the Cajun stood on the brake. Sometimes it welds solid, which is what it did in this case.

Cletus was pitched out of the cab and landed on his head after launching six feet up, into the air.

At a minimum, had he gone to a hospital, he would have been diagnosed with an extremely severe concussion. Untreated, portions of his brain died.

An athlete who had the size and athleticism as a junior to be recruited by Division I Universities was a major disappointment as a senior. The ghost who could juke and shimmy and hit could barely run as a senior.

The scholar whose scalpel-like wit left his victims realizing, five minutes afterwards, that they had been eviscerated...he searched for simple words to finish sentences.

Over time, Cletus compensated. He found unconventional ways that leaned heavily on the portions of his brain that had not been damaged while avoiding those areas that were dark.

Cletus's wanderlust never left him...but the future he could have had did.


Stub 9.7: Target rich environment

Zev settled on his favorite boulder and soaked up the sun.

He was watching his back-trail but wasn't too worried. As he spent more time outside and watching wildlife he had become more attuned to moving as they moved. For the most part, that meant to slow down.

The other day he watched six wild turkey take two hours to move one hundred meters. They fed as they moved with only two feeding at any one time and the other four watching. When they moved it was just a step or two at a time. The faintest threat on the horizon had them ducking into cover and waiting for developments.

Zev found himself becoming more like the wild turkeys. His hidey-hole did not have an efficient back way out. He could crawl into the Himalayan Blackberry thickets but would have no chance of eluding dogs. Nor could he survive any kind of organized shoot-out.

So Zev moved like the turkeys. It was surprisingly tiring to move that slowly.

After soaking up the morning sun for fifteen minutes, Zev pulled out his phone and dialed Aaron Ducat, the attorney in Sedelia who was responsible for intercepting the drug traffic that was northbound out of Mexico. This interdictions had thrown Cali's Department of Homeland Security in chaos as the Cartel blamed the DHS for leaking the truck numbers. The upper ranks of the DHS had been decimated and there weren't many high value targets left.

Zev hoped to prove his worth as an artillery spotter by redirecting the big guns to higher value targets.

"Hello Mr Ducat." Zev began. "I am the official in Cali who asked you to stop one, let me repeat one drug running truck."

"You have no idea what kind of unholy hell you caused here." Zev continued.

"Well, my friend, I am glad to hear that you weren't harmed. We have been hearing about the DHS officials getting killed and we were all afraid that you had gotten in harm's way." Aaron said with his most soothing voice.

"Nope, I am fine. I am in Regulations and it is a damned good thing the Cartel didn't go after us. That would have really frogged up Cali." Zev said.

"Why would Regulations have information about truck numbers?" Aaron said, genuinely curious.

"You really are a dummy, aren't you." Zev said, taunting his 'adversary' in Sedelia.

"We have road-blocks every fifty kilometers and we need to know which ones to just wave through. My god, can you imagine what would happen if we inspected a truck and found drugs. We would have to do something about it." Zev said, aghast.

"But why would it be bad for Cali if Regulations didn't come into work? Most economists think economies run better with fewer regulators." Aaron said. Again, still not getting the picture Zev was trying to plant in Aaron's head.

"That would be true in a 'default on' economy where citizens could do anything they wanted in the absence of input from Regulations. But that is not how Cali works. We have a 'default off' economy. Subjects cannot do anything without explicit permission. Trucks cannot drive on the next fifty kilometers of road until they have successfully passed the checkpoint." Zev patiently explained.

"If Regulations officers started getting knocked off, Cali would be on its knees in three days because of the Just-in-Time inventory system." Zev said.

"So you need to find the rat-bastard that is playing cowboy and make him stop, whatever it takes. If you don't the Cartel might figure out that the original info came from Regulations and that would put me in the crosshairs." Zev said.

"I assure you that we will find the person who is causing this chaos and counsel them." Aaron said.

"You better do more than that or it is going to get pretty fucking hairy around here!" Zev said, letting his voice crack and the emotion leak out.

"OK, buddy. I promise you that we are going to do a lot more than just counsel him." Aaron said.

And with that, Zev hung up. Smiling.


The dispatcher called the squad car somewhere north of the Salton Sea.

Estimates indicated that several thousand Cali Department of Homeland Security had been whacked by the Cartel over the last three weeks.

“Yeah, we got another tip out of Cali.” the dispatcher drawled. Whacking drug running trucks was becoming so routine as to be boring.

“Gimme the numbers.” the patrolman said. None of the patrolmen pushed back anymore.

The dispatcher shot him the information. Then added, “Yeah, turns out our source isn’t in the Cali Department of Homeland Security. Who would have ever guessed?”

“If not DHS, then where do they work?” the patrolman asked.

“We aren’t really sure but our cyber guys think it is some high level person in the military or regulation.” the dispatcher said in an off-hand way.

Aaron Ducat was taking a chance. He was only shooting this information to three squads of patrolmen. The key to making information look authentic was to not blare it out over loud speakers but to make it look like it slipped out.

It only went to three squads but it was the three squads judged to be most likely to be in the Cartel’s pocket.

Within a few hours the highest levels of the Cartel knew that the leaker that was costing them five percent of their shipments out of Mexico was either in the Cali military or the Regulation department.

The Cartel resources in Cali shifted targets.


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Lifeboat revisted

All societies are based on rules to protect pregnant women and young children. All else is surplusage, excrescence, adornment, luxury, or folly which can - and must - be dumped in emergency to preserve this prime function. As racial (and species) survival is the only universal morality, no other basic is possible. Attempts to formulate a "perfect society" on any foundation other than "Women and children first!" is not only witless, it is automatically genocidal.  -Robert A. Heinlein

Affiliations circled with black ellipses. A-Pile, high in green. A-Pile, low in blue. B-Pile in orange. C-Pile in pink. Primary reason for A-Pile high and C-Pile are listed.
A-Pile, highest joined with fat, green line. Cuts across all affiliations.
It is only complicated if you make it complicated. Women and children get in unless they are highly toxic.

We use a lot of different ways to describe "authority issues". That can mask the true issue, an inability to accept legitimate authority.

The Navigator is a novel by Morris West that is easy to read and this issue is central to the story.

My turn to be meme

Cletus and Zeke in Union City, Tennessee

Cletus and Zeke had a ten day gig in an old-folks home near Union City, Tennessee. They were replacing mini refrigerators and other appliances in the rooms.

Zeke pulled the wrapped pallet of fridges he was transporting on a hand truck into the common room. The pallet truck is basically a human powered fork-lift.

Zeke was taking them to the far end of the hall when a gaggle of women going the other way wanted to pass him. The polite thing to do was to get out of their way.

Then, before he could get back into the hall, an old woman shuffled in behind his truck.

The old woman was really old. She slowly extended her head and craned it to the left. The effect was tortoise-like. Slowly, her head moved. Then it stopped. She could have been a statue except her eyes blinked every five seconds. After a full ten seconds she rotated her head fifteen degrees to the right and held it for another ten seconds. Then she indexed her head to the right another fifteen degrees.

It was not possible to know if the woman scanned so slowly due to cognitive processing speed, or impaired vision or because she was straining to pick up voices.

Zeke politely asked her if he could do anything to help her.

Zeke had been raised to be polite to older people. Some of his fondest memories were of his grandpa Koenigsknecht. Gramps would forget that he was talking with Zeke-his-grandson and not Zeke-his-brother and Zeke became worldly as a result. Zeke also got a different perspective on the stories his parents would tell him about walking to school 23 miles, uphill both ways.

The old woman quavered, "My name is Doris, I am looking for my friend, Lois."

"What does she look like?" Zeke asked, trying to be helpful.

"She is old." Doris replied.

Zeke, who was much, much taller than Doris scanned the room and saw a woman who appeared to be sleeping in a chair over by the heater.

"Is that her?" Zeke asked.

Doris slowly rotated to the vector Zeke indicated. "Can you check and see if she is daid? It ruins my day to touch a daid person."

"Yes ma-am. Nothing would make me happier to wake your friend up." Zeke said.

He walked over and then realized that he did not know the proper etiquette for waking up a nonagenarian. Then he decided to do what he did with Gramps. He gripped her knee in his huge paw and then slowly shook it.

Lois's eyes opened. "Doris?"

Zeke shook his head "No"

Doris started to shuffle toward Lois with the grace and speed of an amoeba.

That is when Zeke's boss found him and started to rip him a new asshole. They were burning daylight.

Fifteen seconds later the head of the facility breezed into the common room and overheard the boss working Zeke over. Apparently she had caught much Zeke and Doris's exchange on security video. The fact that the gaggle of old ladies were still standing in the hall eves-dropping is what had originally caught her eye and she decided to eves-drop as well.

She beckoned Zeke's boss into her office for a short, friendly chat.

She thanked Zeke for his courtesy and told him to carry on.

Once in the office she told Zeke's boss to lighten up. "What do you pay him an hour?" she asked.

Zeke's boss said "$15 an hour."

"Same for the other old guy?" she asked.

"Yup." the boss answered.

"Tell you what I am going to do. I will pay you $50 an hour for the two of them for every hour they help my clients 'nest' in their rooms." the head manager said.

"The deal is that I was brought in here three months ago to improve customer satisfaction in this facility. This facility is rock-bottom in the corporation for customer satisfaction. It is in the middle of BF Tennessee and nobody ever comes to visit." the manager said.

"These ladies, and 95% of them are woman, have no men to boss around. It makes them unhappy." the manager said. "And for some reason they decided they liked those two guys."

"I have an audit coming up in four weeks. You are scheduled to be done in a week. I want you to sandbag for three extra weeks and I will pay EXTRA to make that happen. I have empty rooms I can charge $240 a night for and the reason they are empty is because my customers complain and word gets around." the manager said.

"Let me get this clear in my head: You want my guys to slow down and have me charge you extra." the boss asked.

"No, not slow down. I want them busy. Busy cleaning imaginary stains out of the carpet in Mrs Zebedk's room. Busy moving furniture around in Mrs Jone's room. Busy killing spiders in Mrs Washington's room. I want them busy, but only working on the appliances one out of every four hours." the manager said.

"I will pass that customer satisfaction survey and the only thing that is going to move that needle is to make my patients happy. And right now I see that having two, big, rough guys like those two men to boss around is the only thing that is going to do that in the four weeks I have left." the manager said.

And so it happened that Zeke and Cletus were paid three weeks full wages to clean carpets that were clean, kill spiders that were dead and attend tea parties and their boss happily pocketed $20 an hour easy money.

It is a strange world.

Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving    -ERJ

PS: The manager passed her audit. The facility placed just below the average for the corporation.


Stub 9.6: One-in-every-twenty adults is totally whack-a-doodle

Zev was standing in line to buy food at his favorite street vendor’s cart.

He had been wracking his brains trying to think of more ways to destabilize the Cali government with the resources he had available. So far he had come up empty.

He continued to visit this cart because the woman gave him extra flavoring for scripture quotes. Zev had that part down cold. The other reason was because she accepted US coinage. Even though official statistics claimed there had been no inflation in Cali over the last fifteen years, the fact remained that a single US nickel that was 75% copper and 25% nickel had the same purchasing power as five Callors, nominally five US dollars.

A roll of nickels went a long way.

The line was growing as he waited. He had about four more customers in front of him when a customer who was slightly better dressed than the norm walked up to the back of the line. Less than a second later, most of the smartphones within hearing pinged.

Zev’s did too, but he made it a habit to never look at his phone in public. There was too much loss in situational awareness for his taste. Since he wasn’t on his phone he had a fine view of what happened next.

The various customers standing in line and the customers dining near the cart dipped into their pockets and pulled out their phones. If they were aware that nearly everybody else was doing so, they gave no sign.

The man who had just joined the line did not pull out his phone. He was hungry and focused on getting his bowl of food.

The heads of the quicker readers came up and started scanning the crowd. A couple of them focused on the new customer.

One walked up to the man while the other fast reader discretely sidled around behind him.

“Are you Denny Stabbinbeck?” the first person asked.

The customer seemed slightly confused. “Well, yes. Do I know you?” he asked his questioner.

“Yeah, we met when my house was foreclosed on.” the first man replied.

Mister Stabbinbeck looked stricken. It was very, very rare that the unwashed masses could pick out specific Cali governmental minions.

The man who was now behind Stabbinbeck had picked up a chunk of concrete that had broken off the curb. It was roughly the size of a regulation, pro football. He quietly closed on the unsuspecting Cali minion from behind, raised the chunk of concrete above his head and klonked the minion square on the man’s balding pate.

The minion went down.

The second man retained his grip on the chunk of concrete. Again, he raised it above his head and then launched it downward into the face of the semi conscious minion.

The two men who assaulted the minion walked away.

A fraction of a second later, the rest of the customers turned and walked away, including Zev. Nobody had raised a finger to stop the assault.

The owner of the pushcart waited until her regular customers were 100 yards away before dialing 9-1-1. This was not shaping up to be a profitable morning for her.


A few blocks to the northwest a young woman carrying an 18-month-old child entered a grocery store.

After filling the cart with the items she could afford, she approached the crowded checkout lanes. As soon as the geo-fence that extended in a 15 meter radius around her collected more than 20 phones, it triggered a mass mailing.

Phones went off. Hands dipped into pockets and handbags. Again, some readers were much faster than others. They quickly picked out the pale, skinny, young woman with the long, straight black hair.

The crowd hesitated.

A matronly black woman with a voice that BOOMED confronted the woman. “You ought to be ashamed. Stealing from poor people. Just think of the world you are creating for your child.”

The rest of the crowd packed in around her. Her child started to cry. The crowd seemed to hesitate, unsure of what to do next.

The old black woman started poking the young woman in the chest. “You better get down on your knees and pray to Jesus and repent cause you let the devil git you. Now get the hell out of here before somebody gets hurt.”

The woman fled. She was lucky. Her husband had only embezzled seven thousand Callors, but that was only because he was a new hire. He was going to hear about his wife’s trip to the grocery store tonight...if he survived the trip home.

A fat lady driving an imported car passed a bus slightly later that morning. The bus was packed with Joe Lunchbucket heading into work for their daily ration of humiliation. The fat lady’s geo-fence triggered as she passed the bus. The fifty workers on the bus could only watch as the car sped past them.

They were waiting for her when she was driving home. A little bit of trash thrown into the road stopped the car. A bucket of mud dumped on the windshield kept her from weaving her way through.

Lethal weapons were in short supply after thirty years of aggressive confiscation. The mob made do with breaking out the side windows with rocks. They wedged the doors closed with pieces of scrap steel and then doused her with two liters of gasoline and threw in a burning newspaper.

The program was still in smolder mode. It was only doxxing one or two percent of the Cali civil servants each day. But it doxxed them when there was a crowd of more than twenty people around the civil servant and the doxxing included the sources and amounts of the civil servant’s plunder.

Cali's power elite were getting a taste of the blow-back from fostering decades of identity politics and fanning the evil of envy and class hatred. The mortality rate among Cali’s elite, the civil servants, approached what would be seen at the height of a full-blown Ebola epidemic.

And the code was still finding its sea legs.

Next Installment

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Elder-care: Putting Mom on Anabolic Steroids?

I know that a few of my readers are intensely interested in elder-care.

One of mom's current health challenges involves mobility. Her side of the family has a great deal of arthritis so her joints are toast.  She also has osteoporosis and her hips are compacted potato chips.

"But" you say, "anabolic steroids build muscle, not bone." and of course you are right.

But the pain of moving means that my mother does not move very much. Consequently, she has little muscle strength. It does not take much imagination to see that someday she will overbalance and not have the muscular strength to recover. She will fall, break bones, go to the hospital and die of pneumonia three weeks later.

Anabolic steroids will not fix her bones but they might help my mom to retain enough muscle mass to avoid that end. Sure, there are side effects but the world is a risky place when you are 87-years-old. Geriatric medicine is a game of balancing risks and one size does not fit all.

My youngest sister is running the trap-line to see what the "best science" has to say about the topic of geriatric anabolic steroids. Sis is a nurse in oncology and has seen what anabolic steroids can do for patients during and after chemo.

Who do you NOT invite into your lifeboat?

All societies are based on rules to protect pregnant women and young children. All else is surplusage, excrescence, adornment, luxury, or folly which can - and must - be dumped in emergency to preserve this prime function. As racial (and species) survival is the only universal morality, no other basic is possible. Attempts to formulate a "perfect society" on any foundation other than "Women and children first!" is not only witless, it is automatically genocidal.  -Robert A. Heinlein

G^3 + B^3 + L^2 + pH had an interesting post discussing the issues of survival group size and affiliations.

He contends that you might pick out an all-star patrol group and find that your all-stars' affiliations balloon your group size to far beyond what your resources can support.

Judy commented that the problem is that affiliations will result in no clean end to the people who will be invited to climb into the lifeboat. The author of the referenced post makes a similar statement.  Judy: Thanks for reading and thanks for the comment!

Looking at the problem from the other end
I decided to look at the conundrum from the other direction. Suppose I created a fictional list of people who might look to me as their lifeboat.

My job (and your's vicariously) is sort into A-Pile, B-Pile and C-Pile, then sort within A-pile. My choices and logic will be presented in a later post.

Candidate families are stratified by age.


In their sixties:
60a) Man-woman married couple no children at home. Retired. Both require specialized medical equipment or drugs daily or become non-functional or dead. Woman believes there is no situation that makes the purchase of a firearm morally acceptable. That is what police are for. Believes Hawaii Five-O is real.

In their fifties:
50a) Man-woman married couple. Never had children. Both sixty pounds overweight. Man is a numbers guy and a fair wingshot with a shotgun. The woman is a professional social justice warrior.

50b) Single woman. No children at home. Works in the medical profession. Boyfriend has a high need for dominance.

50c) Single woman. No children at home. Slight mobility impairment. A diligent and willing worker. Works in the medical profession. Boyfriend is likable and hunts but has health issues.

50d) Single woman. Three daughters at home ages 20, 22, 24. All four women are physically fit to very physically fit. Some dietary restrictions. Identify as progressives. Interesting combination of compassion and steely-eyed realism.

50e) Man-woman married couple. Two children under ten. Man is a little goofy but owns and shoots guns and rides an ATV.

In their forties

40a) Man-woman married couple. Never had children. Man shoots and fixes mechanical things and works in the medical profession. Woman is in media and gets bored with things that are “so last week”.

In their thirties

30a) Woman-woman couple. Two daughters under five. Rabid progressives. Thinks gun owners should be in prison. Distance makes it unlikely that they could make it to Fort Zinderneuf when the balloon goes up.

30b) Man-woman couple. Married. Two children under age five. Both work in a medical profession and both are physically fit. Man is excellent coach and skilled at getting people to work together. Both have easy personalities. Man loves fishing but has never hunted.

30c) Man-woman couple. Married. No kids. Man has much practical experience living in austere environments and is currently deployed overseas. Distance makes it unlikely they could get to Fort Zinderneuf when the balloon goes up.

In their twenties
20a) Man, recently divorced. “Hands” guy but don’t let him do your taxes. Relatively easy going. Hunts and shoots for recreation. No military training.

20b) Man, recently divorced. “Hands” guy. Prickly personality. Believes that tact is WAY over-rated. Has many, many firearms spanning many chamberings.

20c) Woman, never married. Overweight. Easy to get along with.

20d) Man-woman married couple. One infant. Man is a “Hands” guy. Man hunts and shoots for recreation. Is a member of an IDPA club. Both adults are very easy to get along with and quick to pitch-in and work.

20e) Man-woman couple near clone of above but man does not participate in IDPA. No child.

20f) Man-man couple. No kids. Uber liberal. Personalities vary with the wind direction. Attention seeking behaviors.

Totals after you add in the ERJ clan: 30 adults, 12 children.

Clusters and affiliations:
60a, all 50s and 40a have affiliation.
50a, 40a and 30a affiliate.
20a, 20c, 20d and 20e have strong affiliation. This cluster already has another lifeboat option lined up.
50d, 40a and 30b have affiliation.

Air-to-surface missiles (Title corrected thanks to a tip from Remus)

Within certain circles there is an ongoing debate about the effectiveness of missiles in the event of a "large" war.

It is a Blondes-Brunettes-Redhead thing.

The two dynamics that I am pondering today are the economics and the economics of production.

The cost of missiles
Critics question the cost effectiveness of using a million dollar missile to take out a ten year old Toyota Hi-Lux truck.

The weak point in their argument is that missiles are a highly engineered product and nearly all of the cost is the fixed cost of designing, testing and tooling production for them. The per-unit, variable cost isn't that much!

Solid rocket fuel is 70% ammonium perchlorate at $6 a pound. Most of the rest is powdered aluminum and binder.

7075 aluminum sheet runs $3000 a ton. Extruded 6061 aluminum is about the same.

Assuming most of the electrical brains are on integrated circuits it would cost more to turn on the machines and validate than to punch out another 1000 brains. If the brains are not available, the free-on-board cost of a low-end smartphone is $15 at the factory if you buy in-bulk. Smartphones are another highly engineered product with low variable costs.

The pricier stuff are optics and the little motors and the high energy batteries.

A credible "commodity" smart missile might weigh between 160 and 800 pounds depending on the target.

At fifteen bucks a pound + $15 for the brain and another hundred for the high-end electric motor you are looking at about $12,000 variable costs per missile for the big one.

If the Toyota Hi-Lux trucks has terrorists and their weapons on board, I would shoot them all day long with $12k missiles. That is a no-brainer.

And let's insert a bit of perspective here, a missile can pull 80g and travel at 1,400 mph. A Toyota Hi-Lux is a great truck but is must travel on a 2-D surface, tops out at 100mph on hard, flat surfaces and is lucky to get 0.4g braking on a dusty surface. The missile does not need to have high end performance kill a Hi-Lux.

Added later:
In a perfect world, Trump would throw a challenge on the table: How many AGM-114R do I have to buy to get the price down to $10k per copy?

The AGM-114R weighs about 100 pounds and has a nominal range of five miles. It also has the option of being launched from an unmanned flying vehicle.

The current extended price is $99k per copy but I hasten to point out that most of that cost is fixed and very little is variable.

Cletus and Zeke in Fairdealing, Missouri

Cletus and Zeke showed up at the farmhouse shortly after the sun rose.

They were helping out a friend. It had been twenty years since he had been able to spend the entire firearm season "at the cabin" with his family.

It was no coincidence that was exactly how long Curtice and Nora Osman had been raising cattle.

Cletus and Zeke were going to feed the cattle and then take off for their town job, which is where they had met Curtice.

Entering the farmhouse they were met with the sound of frying bacon, sausage and the smell of brewing coffee. "Come into the kitchen, guys." Nora hollared.

Sitting at the table they could hear the hiss of hashbrowns frying in an enormous, cast iron skillet.

Nora was a wee slip of a thing. In her stocking feet she was four feet, five and three-quarter inches tall. You fight for and embrace every quarter inch when you are less than five feet tall.

"We will grab that after we run the hay out to the cattle." Cletus said.

"Gottem fed. Sit down and eat." Nora commanded.

They had fed the cattle with Curtice the day before and it was a fifty minute evolution. Feeding the cattle involved:
  • Spearing a big, round bale of hay marshalled outside the pasture. 
  • Running it into the pasture with the big, four-wheel-drive tractor. 
  • Getting off the tractor and wading through the nine inch deep gumbo and cutting the strings off the bales. 
  • Stripping off the strings. 
  • Punching the cattle pushing against you to get to their breakfast in the nose so they didn't push you down in the shitty mud. 
  • Getting back on the tractor. 
  • Drop the bale into the feeder. 
  • Lather, rinse, repeat four more times
They looked out the sliding glass door to where the boots were stored. The bottoms of Nora's swampers were not covered with 12" of organic matter and gumbo.

Zeke asked "YOU fed them?" Her face was not even red.

"Yup." Nora said, neatly flipping a two inch slab of browned hashbrowns and cracking eggs into the space she had freed up.

"Magic?" Cletus asked.

"Almost." Nora said. "Technology. I stayed on the tractor and snapped the strings one-at-a-time with the hay spear BEFORE I ran it into the pasture. The strings stayed on the ground when I lifted up the bales."

"It is stupid to get off the tractor and use a knife when you can use a 45 horsepower diesel." Nora said.

"I drove a school bus for twenty years. Weren't no big thing compared to driving a bus full of kids down an icy mountain road." Nora said.

Watching her sure handling of the spatulas and skillets, Cletus and Zeke had no doubt that she could make the hydraulics of the Kubota tractor dance.

Nora insisted that they come each morning so she could feed them. After all, Curtice was paying for them out of his fun-money account and she wanted them to earn their pay.


Stub 9.5: The Doxxing Hounds of Hell

Dilip had gotten into the habit of taking a midnight walk through the common area of the nearly deserted Bora-Bora project. Sometimes Radhika and Tory were in there programming. Other times they were not.

Tonight they were arguing hammer-and-tongs, laptops on the table forgotten in the intensity of their discussion.

Dilip walked over to the vending machines and ordered two, double-latte, extra nutmegs and carried them over to “his girls”.

Dilip did not have a romantic interest in the girls. They had boyfriends and he had a girlfriend. Admittedly, she was seldom in town but she was a redhead, or used to be a redhead before her hair turned a premature gray. Gingers don’t come with an expiration date.

His interest was academic. Girls programmed differently.

Boys would be hammering on keys writing very efficient code that did the wrong thing.

Girls talked, and talked and talked and took a little longer with the actual coding portion. The coding was often not as elegant in terms of resource usage but the actual deliverables were more likely to satisfy the customer.

Dilip kicked back and lit up a cigar. The air conditioning was more than a match for the fumes. Watching girls argue can be more fun that watching commercial TV.

Radihka said, “It doesn’t do us any good to send out the information if the people receiving it cannot attach it to the proper person.”

“But we agreed that vector didn’t work.” Tory shot back. “People don’t always look at their texts when they come in. The target will have moved by then.”

“Yep, we did agree to that. But it means we need some other way of tagging the target.” Radihka said.

“We have an ass-load of pictures. Why can’t we use a photo?” Tory asked.

“I looked at them. They are junk.” Radihka said, gratefully taking a sip of the hot drink Dilip had deposited in front of her.

“Show me.” Tory commanded.

Radihka popped open the straw-man, bench-marking database and navigated to a branch that had an index of images. She displayed them in tile mode, extra large thumbnails. Dilip appreciated the courtesy. He could see them from where he was sitting.

“Look at these images.” Radihka said with disgust. “They are supposed to be avatars but these morons have pictures of moneys, dogs, airplanes and omelets.”

“I am OK with cute, but these images won’t do us any good.” Radihka said.

“How about other directories?” Tory asked.

Radikha popped open directory after directory. Images of over-exposed bodies, in all senses of the word, on beaches appeared in one directory. Another was filled with pictures of small dogs. A third with porn, presumably of somebody other than the account holder. Cars, celebrities, groups of people, platters of BBQ...images filled the directories with no rhyme or reason.

Dilip cleared his throat.

“What are you looking for?” he asked.

“Basically, we need mug-shots.” Radikha said.

“Why?” Dilip asked.

Tory and Radikha paused. Radikha looked over at Tory. Tory gave an almost imperceptible nod in the affirmative.

“We are tweaking a program that doxxes people.” Radikha said.

Dilip winced. “That is not very ethical.” he felt compelled to tell them.

“We know that.” Tory said with a tone that said “Duh!”

"But we are doxxing the Cali government officials who snatched up our boyfriends. They disappeared and haven’t sent us a single text or anything.” Tory said.

“I don’t intend to be mean, but did you consider that they might have dumped you” Dilip asked. He expected to get screamed at.

Tory answered him very seriously. “I checked around. NONE of the Cali programmers have contacted anybody. They were ‘disappeared’.”

That was news to Dilip and he fully intended to follow up on it. But for the mean time he continued to engage the girls.

“So, what does this doxxing program try to do?” Dilip asked.

“It shares bank-account balances and income statements of high level Cali officials with the twenty people closest to the official.” Radikha said.

“The twenty non-government people, that is.” Tory corrected.

“The problem we envision is that we can ping the twenty people’s phones but how are they going to know who of the twenty-one is the Cali rat-bastard?” Radikha said.

Dilip considered for a minute, then he asked “Would it be useful to have access to the file of Department of Transportation mug-shots, the ones that go on driver’s licenses?”

“Why would anybody in Sedelia have Cali mug-shots?” Tory asked.

“We were the same country not that long ago.” Dilip said. “Sedelia still has legacy copies of the database, complete with pictures. Some of the images will be three years old but I think that is what you are looking for.”

“Yeah, that would be perfect!” Radikha said. “But who the hell can hack their way into that?” she asked.

Dilip’s eyes twinkled. “I might know a few people.”

Dilip call Liz Huerta and got her out of bed. She was used to her boss’s weird hours. “Liz, I need two access codes generated for one of the legacy Cali DOT databases. Restrict the access to records with addresses in what is now Cali. Text the access codes to these phone numbers….”

Dilip frantically indicated he needed their phone numbers. They scribbled them down on a piece of scrap paper.

“...these phone numbers _____ and _____.”

“Yeah. Sorry about waking you up. You are a princess.” Dilip concluded.

Two minutes later the girl’s phones pinged.

The girls drilled into the old Cali database after giving the access codes. The haul was even better than they dreamed. The database had hidden fields that listed the driver’s universal identification number which made linking the picture to the official a trivial task.

It took a few more minutes to add a few more lines of java script that put the target’s mugshot at the top of the balance sheets and income statement.

The girls were getting ready to compile and run the program when Dilip cleared his throat.

They looked over. He had earned his way in.

“The updates will distribute much faster if you only recompile the sub-module that formats the page you are sending.” Dilip said. “Small is fast.”

Somehow he had read their minds. They had been about to recompile the seven thousand odd lines of code and relaunch. The sub-module in question was less than two hundred lines.

The tiny patch was compiled and launched, and the second pack of doxxing hounds from hell were launched into the wild.

Next Installment

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Listening to my wife

"What do you mean, you didn't call the doctor for an appointment?" the ever lovely and talented Mrs ERJ asked. I felt a bit like a mouse a wee bit too close to a hawk for comfort.

"I didn't call the doctor for an appointment because I feel better this morning." I said, very reasonably.

"You always feel better in the morning." Mrs ERJ reminded me. So much for logic.

"You have been sick for two weeks. I get that colds take a week to get over. Maybe ten days at the outside. But I sleep with you and I am telling you, 'You are sick.' " Mrs ERJ said.

"Will you go if I call and get an appointment?" she asked.

They know her at the doctor's office. I was ushered into an examination room forty-five minutes later.

I texted Mrs ERJ after the appointment. "They gave me some advice."

"What was the advice?" she responded.

"Keep listening to your wife."  Then I texted. "I will be a few minutes. I have to pick up to scripts at the drug store."

GUYS: The moral of the story is that when our wife tells us we ain't quite right, it is worth listening to her.

Cletus and Zeke in Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Cletus and Zeke had picked up a gig washing windows in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

The three story building was very large and had extravagant numbers of multi-paned, bevel-edges windows.

The crew was Cletus and Zeke and a couple of millennial metrosexuals.

Cletus and Zeke got cracking right after punching in. They grabbed buckets, soap, ammonia, rags and squeegies. Then they started washing the windows on the ground floor.

The first millennial showed up about thirty minutes later after smoking a couple of cigarettes and updating his/her/its profile on social media.  "Where do I start?" it asked.

He(?) was wearing six "T" shirts, one on top the other. The one closest to his skin was purple, then red, orange, yellow, green and finally blue. This was obvious because every hem was progressively 1/2" shorter than the previous shirt. The shirts were skin tight. It was possible to read the wearer's nipples through all six shirts.

Cletus pointed to the ladder. "You and your buddy gotta work on the ladder."

"That's not fair." the millennial said. "That ladder is heavy."

"You snooze, you lose." Zeke said. "There are two of you. You will manage."

The millennial pouted. Then the smartphone came out and he appeared to update his social media page.

A minute later the second millennial came out. "Hey, dinosaurs, the boss said he needed to see you."

The two men put down their buckets, rags and squeegies and trudged in to see what new insanity they would have to endure.

The boss told them to stop lolly-gagging and get to work. He didn't want to see them.

Upon going back outside they saw the two millennials industriously cleaning the windows on the ground floor with the tools Cletus and Zeke had assembled.

"You snooze, you lose, assholes." the first millennial snarked at the two older men.

Cletus and Zeke had no choice but to find more five gallon buckets and rags, remix their cleaning solutions and use the ladder.

It is much slower working on a ladder so Cletus and Zeke started working ahead of the other team. In a short while, the young workers were directly beneath the older man at the top of the ladder.

Who knew that bleach and water would be so damaging to the multiple designer, skin-tight Tee shirts and skinny jeans the younger team wore to "work"? Who knew that anybody would be stupid enough to pay $240 for six, fitted tee-shirts and then wear them for work clothes? Who knew?