The Naked Emperor

31 August 2007

Guns of August Update

Last week, I told all of my ones of readers about my plans to complete my M-4 Carbine in The Guns of August

I'm pleased to tell you that I spoke to Ned at MountsPlus out of Miami. Very good guy to deal with. The Add-a-Rails and the GripPod are en route. In a couple of weeks I'll tell you about the trials.


29 August 2007

Two Years On - A Katrina Anniversary Ramble

Well, two years ago, minus two hours or so, we lost power. And thus the adventure began.

Normally, I try to stick to a central idea for my posts. But I still can't make any sense out of the Katrina experience. And I feel the need to write. So please forgive your humble correspondent if I just ramble on a bit.

By this point, we had my parents here along with a couple of their friends they invited. We also had a house full of animals. All the outdoor stuff was stowed, and the house was sealed tight as a tick. I'd had the last breakfast I'll ever have at
Landry's two days prior, on the day we had to flee New Orleans. I was on duty down there that week.

Housing relatives in time of crisis can be a bonding experience. Or not. Sadly, my family's dynamic has always been a troubled one. And Katrina shattered that.

I saw my father at Mardi Gras, we ride in the same parade. He mentioned my mother to someone else, so I assume she was alive in February.

My relationship with my brother had been deteriorating for years. Thenakedempress and I busted our butts to have some contact with him and his family. After things went bad with the parents, we told my brother we wanted a relationship with him, but felt we were continually getting the brush off. We said that we would reciprocate, but the next move was up to him.

I haven't seen him or received a call from him since then. It's his choice and I'll respect it.

So I lost my family.

We only had minor damage to the house. The major damage was the memories.

I grew up in Lakeview. And that is just gone.

Between the physical devastation and losing my family, I feel as if the first quarter century of my life has just been erased.

Sadly, the contemporary memories of the storm won't go away. Even when I try to cover them, they come back. Even in my sleep. So here are a few.

The total blackness of the water. The smell. It gave the impression that the water itself was actually angry.

My canoe screeching to a sudden halt on top of submerged cars.

Having my body 75% encased in black rubber waders in the incredible heat and feeling the waders burning where they touched my body.

Looking down the wrong end of an M-16 in the hands of dubious cops from Florida, and being threatened by them.

The feeling of not being able to breathe in the parents house due to the heat and chemical fumes. Smelling dead pets there and not being able to find the bodies in the water.

Getting to the boa constrictor my parents had, still alive. And his skin just splitting where ever my hands touched.

The kindness of Dr. Martin at Metairie Small Animal who put the snake down for me. I just couldn't do it myself.

Being disoriented in my parents house with things rooms away from where they had been before the flood.

A doll left hanging from a bush in the West End neutral ground. To whom did it belong? Were they alive? Was the doll beloved?

Putting my foot through a table to with almost no resistance. Stair rails splitting in my hand with no pressure.

The fear of having some of that water get inside my waders.

The constant bickering of my parents. Constantly being told "but your brother read on the internet, etc".

As they say, "thanks for the memories".

We've been having candidates and other media whores coming in for a few days, and the influx will reach it's peak today. There will be speeches and prayers and memorials.

Tell me what they're like if you want.

As for me, I'll celebrate the anniversary in my own way.

I'll lock the door and enjoy privacy. I'll take a hot shower and flush toilets for no reason except to celebrate having running water. I'll turn the AC down and also run the axillary window unit we have and freeze my butt off. I'll have numerous cold drinks with ice. I'll open the freezer and marvel at it's operation. I'll go around turning lights on and off. I'll go out to buy cheap and plentiful gas at any station I see, instantly and with no lines. Maybe I'll have ice cream. Or maybe I'll use the phone for no reason other than that I can. I'll watch TV, anything but Katrina memorials.

Sorry, I lived it. I don't want to glorify it. I certainly don't want to remember it.

I'm just going to revel in this fiction we consider boring normality.

I'll try to be more eloquent and relevant in a day or two.


24 August 2007

Come Back, Shame!!

This is all Glenn Reynolds fault.

I have an ability to just glance at something and get it weirdly wrong.

As an example, I'll cite an incident from 14 years ago.

I was driving on Hixon Pike with my fiancee. Thenakedempress is from Tennessee, just about an hour or so from Instapundit country. We were going along, rather cheerfully, when out at the edge of my vision I saw a Chinese restaurant. The name seemed, for a moment, to be "The Human Wok". The rather rapid double take I did revealed the name to be "Hunan Wok, and eased my anxiety.

But the wrong name stuck in my mind ever after.

Well fast forward to a few days ago. I'm a fan of the Instapundit, and was scanning the stories. I happened to see a link titled "Come Back, Shane!!" and of course misread it in my haste.

But not all mistakes are bad. Since I was already tackling the social ills of American society, the way I misread it blended in perfectly, and gave good words to an idea. Hence the title of this article.

The last of the three major problems we face is the death of shame in this country.

In years past, it was considered a scandal to be an unwed mother. There were homes for them where they could give birth in secret. We even had a special word, that I'm all too familiar with, to say someone was of dubious parentage.

In short, it was shameful.

But, in our desire to be "good" people, we've done away with the shame.

And the result? Now it's common for a majority of children in many communities to be born into single parent situations.

I'll stand up here and metaphorically expose myself. No, I don't have children.

But it is tough today just to keep up with normal life even sans kids. To add kids into the mix requires a LOT of effort. That effort is best spread between two people.

This is not to say that there aren't some single mothers doing a fantastic job. There are. But overall, children benefit by having two parents. Higher graduation rates, lower drug rates, lower incarceration rates.

Our lack of shame is hurting children.

When I want something I can't afford, why don't I just go out and knock off a convenience store? Or even more profitably, sell illegal drugs?

Easy. Assuming I'd be caught, I'd bring a great deal of shame on thenakedempress. She's very old school about things like this. Could she live with that shame? I don't know, but I sure as hell don't want to risk it. (Loony blogging vets are a dime a dozen. Wives to put up with them are rare!!)

But to many, such formerly shameful acts are not only permissible, they are actually sought to raise "street cred"

And our entertainment industry doesn't help.

Brittany, our most infamous daughter from Tangipahoa Parish, has been photographed getting out of a car without her delicates. Is she ashamed? Far from it. Hell, thenakedempress is sometimes apalled at the ratty clothes I wear to do yard work, not even going off the property.

Ms. Lohan has had numerous trips to rehab, and spent more on them than most people pay for a house. All before 22 years of age, if I recall. Are her parents ashamed? Certainly not. Her mom appears to be one of her hangers-on when she's out getting smashed on booze and coke.

Maybe we'd all be better off with a little less "tolerance" and a little more shame.

To kick off this campaign, we need a good slogan. So far my best effort is to paraphrase from the Spanish-American war.

"Remember the Shame!!!"

23 August 2007

Societal Astronomy

Last might I wrote a rather poor article about societal ADD.

After considering my thoughts further, I realized that ADD is but one of three main problems confronting modern western society.

Tonight, we'll consider part II, Lessons on Societal Astronomy. Soon, we'll paraphrase a great movie line, "Come Back, Shame".

Societal astronomy must deal with just one fact, and one only.

This fact is without serious scientific dispute, and has been considered proven both mathematically and by direct observation for over one hundred years.

Yet many, if not most, in our society do not believe in this one simple fact, or choose to ignore it in their daily lives.

And just what is this fact?

It's quite simple really. Uranus revolves around the Sun, the Sun DOES NOT revolve around Uranus.

In day to day life, this means that you are just one part of a much larger world. You are not THE world. And yes, Virginia, rules apply to YOU!

I can't tell you how many times people just wander back into the treatment area of the ER, despite a sign that takes up the entire upper half of the entry door.

We have numerous signs requiring people to turn off cell phones. These signs even have graphics in case the client is a "guest client" or otherwise can not read English.

Despite all this, nearly nightly we have one or two yakking merrily away while the patient bleeds and I'm trying to take a history from a verbally occupied client.

Could it be that that can't even see the graphic?

Or do they just think that rule is meant for everyone but them?

To paraphrase the recently departed Leona Helmsly "Only little people obey rules".

So how do you apply this in daily life?

Simple. Remember that the sign was meant for you. Yes, YOU. If in doubt, assume it does until you check with the author of the sign.

A few thoughts come up that I didn't think would require a sign, but the evidence shows that many people need instruction in these areas.

Remember that the living breathing person in front of you takes precedence over the disembodied voice on your cell phone. Even if it's just a cashier at a grocery store.

If you're out to eat with friends, either ignore the phone or, if you just must talk, take the conversation elsewhere. It's rude to ignore the guest you invited to eat because someone else is more important.

Always turn the phone off in movies, shows, and at church, weddings, and funerals. "Dearly beloved, we are here..."

Behind the wheel, the left lane is for high speed and passing. Do not sit there doing 40 shaking your fist angrily at people who you force to pass on the left.

A right hand turn lane is NOT for high speed passing.

Never mix driving with makeup, a newspaper, texting, a DVD, or drugs and booze.

Just remember that you are just one of 280 million here in the US and of about 6 billion in the world. We all have to live here. Let's try to make each others stay a pleasant one.

Until later,


Societal ADD

For all of my ones of readers, if you have a short attention span, please tune out now.

Perhaps it is just my middle age talking, by we seem to have sped life up so much that it has lost a bit of flavor.

Here we are linked by the internet and satellites and cell towers that we are in constant communication. We're all ALWAYS busy.

It started with TV. We got used to the sitcom and the half hour or hour shows where a problem was presented, and always solved, within the alloted time.

We began to think that life imitated the art, rather than the other way around. Look at Iraq. You mean we haven't won by the 6pm news? Could you imagine the Hundred Years War now? Or even WWII?

It got worse with the remote control. If a show had a flat spot or advert, we'd skip around to see if there was something else that caught our ever shortening concentration. As a writer, it's nigh impossible to write an essay, let alone an hour drama or comedy without a few less than riveting moments.

Then came cable and satellite TV. Hundreds and hundreds of choices to surf, all with one press of your thumb.

Then came the internet. That's when our attention span got so short that we couldn't even stick around for entire words, IMHO.

And the process accelerated with text messages on our phones. Entire conversations were abbreviations. WTF?

I have a brother I get an e-mail from two or three times a year. The last I heard from him was a couple of months ago, and he didn't even send a word. Just "FYI" and some pictures.

I know he meant no offense, but some was taken. Not at him, but at where we've come in our communications abilities.

What he sent was correct for our modern society. We've reached a stage where, to paraphrase an old advert "you care enough to send the very least"

I mean this as no slur on him, we've all gotten that way

Look at your dining habits. How many times this week did you opt for fast food or take out or something from the microwave? Would slowing down just a bit cost you so much?

And look at what you gain. Better nutrition to start. We can add in MUCH better flavor. So you want a cheeseburger? Every area has at least one place for a really good cheeseburger. So it costs a bit more that WenDonaldKing. And it'll take a half hour instead of ten minutes. Is where you're rushing to so important that you can't enjoy a half hour?

Look at our modern media. People don't want to take the time to read a newspaper, and we've learned that they are about as trustworthy as politicians. Their readership is way down.

And TV isn't any better. When was the last time you saw a story on any news broadcast that was longer than five minutes? Generally they allot two minutes, no more.

So you might get a headline and a couple of sentences along with the most dramatic video. Car bombing with scattered body parts? That leads. Terrorist activity way down? No sensational video to go with it, they cut that.

Cable news is just as bad. Just in from Iraq goes to hottest summer fashions (like a middle age man needs to know this?) goes to the latest Anna Nicole/Lindsey/Brittany tripe.

As an aside, some of the celebutainment is quite funny. Just recall Chevy Chase on SNL doing the news from the seventies. "This just in...Anna Nicole is STILL dead...". Gets me every time.

And since TV news won't do in depth reporting of facts they have a bit of a problem. There just aren't that many headlines to read. So TV, especially cable, fills the time with pundits.

They have a couple of rude people who shout at, and over, each other.

That is one of my pet peeves. Not that I mind invective. But I do expect it to be clever.

The English, who invented this great language are still much better at invective.

""He's depriving some poor village of a desperately needed idiot"

"He's a sheep in sheep's clothing" Winston Churchill - the master

As an example of how we've degenerated, I must tell a wee story.

I bought my wife a car for Valentine's Day. It came with satellite radio, but she thought she had to call to activate it. Well in June we were on the road to a conference/vacation, and I discovered it worked. So I tried every station.

I wound up lingering for as long as I could on a liberal talk station called "The Left". Yeah, libertarian me. Apparently the host thought President Bush is "an asshole". She never stated why. She just kept repeating that charge about him. Others in the administration qualified for the same title. Again, no explanation. I got bored and switched.

So much for satellite radio. And we here in blogosphere are sometimes no better.

Few actually write essays, we just like to pen a sentence or two with a link to a news item or other blog. Can't we concentrate long enough to give a complete rounded thought?

And if you believe our invective has improved with the speed of communication, just look at the comments section of political blogs.

We see slogans like "bush lied", buzzwords "quagmire" "approval rating", and unsubstantiated charges "Nazi" "Communist". What we rarely see are well reasoned arguments either for or against the original authors position. And the invective that is used is, in almost all cases, pedestrian and boring.

It seems Paul Simon was prescient. " He says why am I short of attention, Got a short little span of attention" "There were incidents and accidents, There were hints and allegations"

So what do we do about this?

I've always been interested in emergency preparedness/ survival topics. NOT survivalism end of the world poop. But what do do for hurricane or plane crash or bridge collapse sort of thing.

The first response to any emergency is STOP. That acronym stands for:

Stop. Think. Observe. Plan.

We, as a society, rarely follow these simple instructions. Too often we rush to write a response or pen a comment before we have actually thought about the issue for a few moments.

I like listening to Neal Boortz. He tells his audience, frequently, not to believe him unless you know what he says is true or you are willing to do the research to prove him right or wrong.

Our first response should be to stop and think. Is the author reliable? Does your own experience or research verify or deny the conclusion? Is responding worth my time, or would I be happier doing something else? (the cheeseburger might come to mind now) And if I choose to respond, isn't it worth the time to actually reason out a position rather than just use slogans or insults? And to actually use words?

And if you don't want to be part of the solution, STFU. ROFLMAO!!

Until later,


22 August 2007

The Guns of August

Well, we're now deep into hurricane season again. I just can't believe that it's been two years as of next Wednesday.

We all watched Dean for the last week or so. On last Friday, one of the more reliable models, he GFDL showed Dean hitting between Lafayette and Baton Rouge. Ohhh, Goody!

Fortunately it was just a glitch. The model swung dutifully away and we breathed a sigh of relief.

But it put my preparations into sharp focus. They say we need three things to survive, food, water, and shelter. But "They" forget one of the most important categories. Let's face it, all your food, water, and shelter do no good if you can't defend them.

Which brings us to weapons.

OK, to start, DON'T have weapons if you aren't skilled in their use, and aren't familiar with the laws governing their use.

I shoot regularly and hold a concealed handgun permit.

During Katrina days, I carried my Taurus PT99 9mm openly. Nobody ever looked twice at me. But with all the shooting going on, I felt a bit naked.

Coming underdressed to a gunfight is not only tacky but potentially fatal.

So I needed something better.

I looked to history for an answer.

Before WWII, the US decided it needed something more potent that the beloved .45 Auto for non-infantry types. These are the guys who don't shoot for a living. But they wanted some assurance that the non-shooters would be well enough armed is the feces impacted the rotating blades.

Solution: The M1 Carbine. Simple, light, rugged, easy to maintain, an ergonomic dream. But it fired a dubious cartridge, and performed poorly in extreme cold.

Well, I'm not law enforcement or military. I don't shoot for a living. And here in south Louisiana, we have had very little problem with extreme cold.

So an M1 was a candidate.

I was concerned about the cartridge, but then a deal killer hit me.

Amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics.

In the post storm days, it was a major challenge to get food or gas, let alone ammunition or parts for a rifle the military hasn't used for 40 years.

So the M1 was dead.

I looked ahead at military type weapons. We've used the M-16/AR-15 for those same forty years.

True, it's heavier. And more finicky. It is a maintenance nightmare. The standard AR-15 didn't handle as well as the old M1. And it still fires a dubious round.

So much for progress.

But the military and the police use them, so it's possible to beg/borrow/scrounge spares and ammo. So it was a strong candidate.

But the best argument in favor of an AR-15 was what I found in my closet.

She's a Colt A2 Heavy Barrel that I bought in 1994 the day Congress passed the assault weapons ban. (And I didn't have any ammunition for her during Katrina. DOH!!!)

Very accurate, but she handled like a pig. And that heavy barrel made her heavier than I wanted to carry for any amount of time.

So I began the modifications.

First, I went with a 14.5" barrel upper with the Phantom suppressor permanently attached. That brings her up to 16.1", and makes her legal. Thanks, Bushmaster! She now handles MUCH better and is much lighter.

I decided to not go with a flat top receiver or optics. Why?

The ACOG is great at distance. The Eotech is great at close quarters battle (CQB).

But I don't know if or when I might have to use her, and under what circumstances.

I know that iron sights are good at any distance, and I'm used to them and good with them. In a crisis, stick to what you know.

Also, no optics means no batteries, lowering my logistic needs.

The next decision was the stock.

I know that a folder would be a little lighter, and more convenient.

But the A2 stock has the storage compartment.

As I said before, the AR-15/M-16/M-4 is a finicky beast, and doesn't like to be dirty. So I got an Otis buttstock cleaning kit that fits in the storage compartment.

That way if all I have time to grab is that weapon, I know I can keep her functioning in the field.

So here's what she looks like now.

Okay, I know the buttstock mag pouch can get in the way. But if all I can grab is the weapon, I'll have a maintainable weapon and 60 rounds. The mag in the stock pouch will go in a pocket first opportunity.

I got the bandoleer with 6 mags that function well with her. If I have a half second more, I'll have 240 rounds available. That should be enough for my needs. If not, maybe I'll get religion.

As for the green furniture, I have no good reason. Just a bit of vanity on my part.

Since This was taken, I've added a Mamba three point sling. Very handy. Also I clipped on a Maxpedition RolyPoly dump pouch to the bandoleer.

So what's next?

Well, I've always been a fan of bipods. They're a great way to improve accuracy. But unfortunately they're rather bulky and rather heavy.

But recently I've been looking at a GripPod from It's a vertical handgrip with a spring loaded bipod inside. Low profile and only 7 oz. They run about $149.

But the problem is that they're designed to mount to a rail system. I didn't want one on her.

First, they're expensive. About $200 to $600.

And second, they might tempt me to violate the KISS principle that I designed this weapon for. I might decide I need a light/laser/Night sight/gps/tissue dispenser.

All of the above would add weight and complexity.

So how will I attach my GripPod?

Fortunately, has a solution. It's called the Add-a-Rail.

Cool, huh? This way I can keep her a KISS weapon, add almost no weight, and not break the budget. They're only $20 for pete's sake.

Here's what MountsPlus has to say about them:

Add-A-Rail from Mounting Solution Plus

The ADD-A-RAIL SYSTEM is an easy and affordable solution to add rail mounted accessories with out the cost the and frustration of add full railed forearm. ADD-A-RAIL SYSTEM works with factory standard AR-15 forearms. Designed to allow use of a
detachable rail mounted accessories such as a Surefire flashlight, Harris Bipod or foregrip, or other . ADD-A-RAIL comes in two version and can be used on either TOP/BOTTOM or RIGHT/LEFT side of your forearm.

Mounting Solution Plus specializes in tactical mounts and gun accessories for professional and competition shooters.

Click Hear to learn more

So next week, when I'm off duty I'll make an order. Then, what someone I grew up with has dubbed the "Katrina Kannon" will be finished. I can't wait to give the new goodies a try.

Until later,