sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Power Projection

When a .44 Magnum seems anemic...

We’re a polite society. People, at times, can TYPE IN ALL CAPS ON THE INTERNET!!!!!!, say some truly mean things to each other in person, rant and rave about how our culture is going to hell, and compare our politicians to people like Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini. But the fact is we still have a healthier dialogue going on than most places on earth.

However, sometimes words are useless. Sometimes we have to admit to ourselves that bad people instinctively want to do us harm. That’s why we’re armed. It’s not to attack our detractors who play things verbally. It’s to defend ourselves against those who wish to do us harm and violate our God-given rights.

A firearm is the perfect equalizer. However, some people—for whatever reason—think we don’t need them. That’s fine.

They have their point of view. I have mine.

S&W 460

The .460 S&W round is a lengthened, more powerful version of the popular .454 Casull, itself a longer and more powerful version of the .45 Colt. Consequently, firearms that fire .460 S&W are usually capable of firing the less powerful .454 Casull, .45 Colt and .45 Schofield rounds. For instance, some lever actions are designed to handle cartridges within a certain length and bullet profile range. The reverse, however, does not apply: .45 Schofield, .45 Colt and .454 Casull handguns generally cannot safely fire .460 S&W rounds—nor can they even chamber the .460 S&W because of the longer case length. The length of the .460 S&W was intended to fully utilize the overall length (2.30") of the S&W X frame cylinder thereby increasing its powder capacity.

The .460 cartridge achieves high velocities by operating at pressures normally reserved for magnum rifle cartridges.

Smith and Wesson boasts that the .460 S&W is the highest velocity revolver cartridge in the world, firing bullets at 2330 ft/s. With Buffalo Bore's new loading, the .460 S&W can achieve nearly 2900 ft-lb of energy by driving a 360 grain bullet at 1900 ft/s. For comparison .500 S&W Magnum offers slightly more energy at the muzzle, driving a 350 grain bullet at 1975 ft/s for a total of 3031 ft-lb.

The disadvantage that the .50 caliber S&W round has in comparison to the .460 caliber S&W round comes with the ability to 'target shoot' with smaller and less expensive .45 Colt ammunition in the 460 handgun.

L to R - .460 S&W, .45 Casull, .45 Colt, .45 ACP, .22 LR

In all cases and particularly in the case of the .460, giving is better than receiving...

Friday, May 30, 2014

Staying at a Chinese Hotel

You have to admit that the Chinese are looking out for your best interests, and they are soliciting your cooperation when you're staying in a hotel on the mainland.

Mike Wallace

A non-fiction account:

I first met him in the restaurant of the Four Seasons Hotel in Newport Beach in 1987. He was there with his producer, Marion Goldin, eating breakfast. He stood when I walked up, “Hi, I’m Mike Wallace.”

No kidding.

He met and interviewed almost everybody who made a difference in the last half of the Twentieth Century. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he didn’t soft peddle the issues. He was known for asking hard questions and for taking people on. For many on the planet, the definition of horror was to have Mike Wallace walk into your office with a CBS News film crew, camera rolling, and to ask you what the heck you’re up to. Yes, fifty million Americans will watch your answer on prime time, Sunday night.

During my life I’ve met and had long conversations with interesting people other than Mike Wallace. The late Archbishop Chistodulos, Patriarch of Athens, Edward Teller, father of the hydrogen bomb and a long list of various politicians from many nations, cartel kingpins, spies, mercenaries, etc.

Mike Wallace, known as the Hitler of the media, is not loved by many. He was the sharp point of television journalism’s spear.

What one who met him as I did but didn’t know him intimately couldn’t know is that Mr. Wallace suffered from chronic depression. In an interview he revealed, “At first I couldn't sleep, then I couldn't eat. I felt hopeless and I just couldn't cope and then I just lost all perspective on things. You know, you become crazy. I had done a story for 60 Minutes on depression but I had no idea that I was now experiencing it. Finally, I collapsed and just went to bed” (Source: CBS interview).

I found him interesting because his perspective was based on FIRST HAND KNOWLEDGE. He saw, he heard, and he was empowered by his position to question—anyone he wanted to. I first met him in 1987 and at the time asked about his interactions with Yasser Arafat. His insight was profound. I met Arafat some eleven years later in China and in an odd turn of events, had lunch with him. We were both staying at the Diaoyutai State Guest House in Beijing. I ran into Arafat there as we were staying in adjacent bungalows. The food was horrible and he invited me out to lunch. Armed with Mike Wallace’s insight, the lunch was far more interesting that it would have been otherwise. 

He’s a private man, who loves what he does. I’m sure he’s a difficult man in many circumstances and situations. As for me, I found him to be profoundly interesting.


Thursday, May 29, 2014

How do you Change the World?

Billy McRaven explains how to change the world. I can call him Billy because he was 3 classes BEHIND me...
Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Viet Nam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed. 
If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack—rack—that’s Navy talk for bed. 
It was a simple task–mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle hardened SEALs–but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over. 
If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. 
By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. 
If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right. 
And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better. 
If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed...
It's worth listening what Admiral William McRaven has to say about how you can change the world. It all comes down to building character -- something that modern education is not equipped to do.

Start each day with a task completed. 
Find someone to help you through life. 
Respect everyone. 
Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often, but if take you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up–if you do these things, then next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today and— what started here will indeed have changed the world—for the better.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014






What can you do with 2 Cellos?

2Cellos is a Croatian virtuoso cello duo. Luka Šulić and Stjepan Hauser started their careers by uploading onto YouTube - and it went viral. Elton John picked them up for his band after listening to them on YouTube - and the rest, as they say, is history.

Pretty awesome if you ask me.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Solstice in Austin

Responding to a writing clallenge:

A fictional short, dedicated to the Lone Star Parson's arch nemesis-

Solstice in Austin

The sunset smeared red, orange, yellow and blue across the horizon like a modern art masterpiece but Carlos didn’t experience it. He’d been blazed for days, driving from Berkeley to the Hog Farm's sponsored Festival in Austin. Lately, he'd been joined by an American girl that he had picked up in a bar on the outskirts of Lubbock. She had been underage, washing dishes and wanted a way out. He offered her the passenger seat.

At times, Carlos forgot why his friend, who published The Whole Earth Catalog, sent him to Texas in the first place because the shit he’d been injecting covered everything with a narcotic haze. The blend of cocaine and heroin did some exotic work on his brain. At first it seemed like a good idea to escape from the constant pressure of selling the damned book in hippie communes. Now he didn’t seem quite as sure as he had once been—that it would be all right in the end.

The girl, Cindy or Candy, or maybe her name was something different, asked him about their destination. He told her that the Solstice party in Austin could not be missed. 

She didn’t speak Spanish and his English language skills were far from fluent. Antlers snapped him out of it as much as he could be snapped out of the astral plane that he glided on. He looked over as he weaved through Waco and she had put on the hat with deer antlers on it. He found that his musing about antlers and her finding the hat behind his seat to be karmic, but how could it be? Really? He stole them when he burglarized a ranch in Alamogordo a week previously because the party required a bed sheet and an antler hat of some sort to be completely fashionable. He married the antler set complete with mounting board to a basket and draped an old shirt with a button-up and no collar around it and trimmed to fit. A yarmulke, stolen from an old Jew on his way to shabbat service worked as a cushion between the basket and his head.

Clearly, Carlos had been giving a lot of thought to his headgear at the party. He thought that the antlers looked splendid but she took the hat off and tossed it back behind his seat. His thoughts returned to the road and the party to come - the antlers passed from his consciousness and thus, his concern.

She looked at him like a cow watching traffic pass. “Where the fuck, are we?”

“I don’t know, baby, this is your country. I’m from Tampico.”

She switched the CD back to a song that Carlos might have listened to ten minutes earlier. He didn’t really know whether he’d ever heard it before or not. The smack mixed with snow had wicked side effects that distorted space, time, and kept interstate highway travel interesting. He tried to decide whether or not to pick up a hitchhiker north of Belton and, remaining undecided, ran the unfortunate into a tangle of kudzu on the curtilage of the highway.

With Cindy or Candy’s help, he navigated to Austin, and from there, to the PODER treasurer’s house. He didn’t know what PODER meant but Cindy or Candy read from the brochure that he found in his backpack, “People Organized in Defense of Earth and her Resources.” The treasurer sent him to the Worker’s Defense Project, which also had a sign in Spanish, saying the same thing, on the front of the building, Proyecto Defensa Laboral. They directed him to the Rhizome Collective on the East Side of Austin, and an old lady who worked there sent them to a ranch just outside of Austin were people were gathering to welcome in the Solstice in complete homage to The Hog Farm. 

The girl hopped out, wearing tight short Daisy Duke denim cut offs. Her long blonde hair reached half way down to her waist. She jogged over to some sixties throw-backs who were arranging for the new arrivals.

She reported her findings: “The side over on the right is for the yuppies who want to dance naked in the moonlight and swap wives - like a Jimmy Buffet concert parking lot orgy without the parrots. We need to go to the left since we don't have a motor home and we are counter culture." The Hog Farm tried to be inclusive.

He worked through what she said.

She could tell that he wasn’t processing information as quickly as he should. “We’re invited to the party—partido. El-lefto-turno.”

Carlos turned left, trying to recall if 'lefto turno' was Spanish, wishing that he hadn't dropped acid in that burger joint in Copperas Cove.

A tall, thin, Jesus hippy introduced himself as Beezer and invited them into his fifty-year old school bus, decorated for the event.

“This is the bomb!” The girl spoke to Beezer and he seemed pleased that she liked it.

“Where ya from?”

“Durango, Colorado.”

“Candy from Durango.”

Carlos filed her name for future reference. It was Candy. 

“How about you?”

“I’m from The City.” Since it didn’t register, he clarified. “San Francisco.”

“Oh, right on.”

They lounged in the back of the motor home and Beezer invited them to share a bowl of hashish that he claimed came from Morocco. Carlos took a puff and, connoisseur that he had become, he pegged it as local Mexican hash produced by a cartel in the hill country where Sinaloa met Durango.

The drug made time slow for Carlos to the point where it nearly stopped. Beezer seemed to like Candy a lot, and Carlos didn’t really care because he’d tired of her. Beezer talked to Candy and Candy talked back to Beezer as the hash buzz wore off.

Beezer took out a box of baking soda, tore off a square of aluminum foil from a roll and found a spoon. Candy watched him closely. 

Carlos took it in from a disinterested distance.

Candy watched him dump a small amount of white powder onto the bowl of the spoon and then add a pinch of baking soda. Beezer added a few drops of water and stirred it around with the heel of a green plastic lighter. Then he flicked the lighter and held the flame under the spoon.

“What are you doing, Beezer?”

“Pay attention.”

Beezer concentrated on the substance in the spoon as it swirled and bubbled, and then separated. He poured the more viscous portion onto the foil making two puddles. Then he set it aside.

Beezer took the empty barrel of a ballpoint pen and handed it to Candy.

“Inhale the smoke, baby. But don’t breathe it out.”

“Is this like freebase?”

“It is freebase.”

She smiled broadly.

“How old are you, Candy from Durango?”


“That’s old enough.”

Beezer put the flame under the aluminum foil. The puddle cracked, sizzled and started to turn from a liquid into thick gray smoke.

Candy pulled most of the smoke in through the pen.

“Hold it, don’t breathe out.”

She pulled it in deeper, held it, and her expression changed as her eyes lost focus, her face became slightly slack and dreamy.

Beezer watched her like a hawk, then turned to Omar. “Mind if I take a poke brother?”

Carlos shook his head. He didn’t care.

Candy exhaled and slumped back onto a cushion. Beezer moved up to her, kissing her, running his hands over her breasts and body. 

“I want more, Beezer.”

“Later, baby.”

Carlos didn’t know how he got to his feet, but he did, as Beezer went to work. Watching wasn’t his kink.

The cooling night air brought him back around and he found that he wanted to eat something. A group of people had a bar-b-que going and they offered him a hamburger. Suddenly he knew for the first time why Americans liked them so well. The flavors were vivid and delicious.

“That your Yukon?” An older, owlish man with gray hair, wearing a khaki fishing vest looked at him through coke bottle glasses. He spoke Spanish and Carlos responded. 

“Yeah, we just arrived. Beezer invited us in and—the girl that I brought along liked him, and his shit.”

“Beezer loves the young ladies and they love him too from what I’ve seen. The girl, she’s yours?”

“I picked her up in some town a few days back. She’s like you, an American.”

The owlish man nodded with understanding. “You’re bored of her now.”

Carlos smiled sheepishly.

"No problem, come with me, we'll go over to the Yuppie side of the Solstice event and cut us a couple of bored middle-class housewives out of the herd."

Carlos thought to his fine antler hat and put the guy off. "I need to get my antlers."

It took Carlos over half an hour to find his white Yukon and when he did, he also found Cindy or Candy laying on the ground next to his rig with the antler hat under her, the antler tines poking up through her back. The blood had congealed. She'd been dead for a while.

A portion of the root story can be found embedded in The Old Whore: A Novel of Cartel Wars, by me (and largely recut to some extent to fit this set of facts). It isn't plagiarism if you re-work your own stuff.

Monday, May 26, 2014

It's Time for Leadership in DC

America needs to find a new leader, and no, Hillary Clinton (who may or may not have recovered from her traumatic brain injury) isn't the one. Whoever America decides to have set the national pace and the national agenda - - it should be a person with an American heart. It would be nice if they had a real job before becoming President of the United States. It would also be nice if they had military service under their belts before becoming Commander-in-Chief. Is it asking too much?

I have a lot of friends from outside of the US and the consensus is 100% among them and those that they talk to that Barack Obama is a national joke. No, you won't hear that on MSNBC. Sadly, today there is more accurate information coming out of Pravda than there is from the American mainstream media and it breaks my heart to say it.

The VERY FIRST thing that I want to hear from the next US President is a comprehensive energy strategy that will take the nation to be the largest oil exporter in the world.  It is the only way that we can pay back the excesses of the Obama years and get on a firm footing. The next thing I would expect to hear is how we will be shrinking the US Government and empowering private business. Removing the capital gains tax completely for four years (guaranteed) would be enough to get everyone employed who wanted a job. 

I don't know if you've been watching the news but Russia and China have signed a $400 billion natural gas deal, and Iran is now offering to supply Europe's gas needs. 

There went any punch that the US had to sanction Russia over their annexation of Crimea. 

Russia and China said that "the West doesn't matter" and while that is not completely true, the new Russia/China Axis has been formed because of fouled up American foreign policy - ham handed in the best case and treasonous in the worst.

I'm weary of the ObamaNation.

Historical Context and Memorial

For distant places and people during a long forgotten war - for Memorial Day (in the USA) 

This is an appendix to my book, White Powder: A Novel of the CIA and the Secret War in Laos. But I thought that it might do, given the theme day.

There are a lot of forgotten little corners of the world that have seen war. While history and most historians focus on the big shows, the price paid in human suffering and national treasure in small wars remains something that haunts me personally. Small wars are almost all proxy wars, where a big power enables small people to fight their small war. Once the men are all dead, boys (and girls) will do. The average Laotian 14 year old looks a lot like a 9 year old in the West. But if they can carry and operate the weapon, it worked there in precisely the same way as it works in most modern small wars in Africa.

So this is to the small people in small places who were wheat, in-between the stones, when the large powers collided.

The War in Laos

historical context and precedence

In 1945, the United States transported the French Army to Indochina to reclaim the colonial possessions they lost to the rampaging Japanese Imperial Army during the Second World War. Ho Chí Minh’s dreams of an Indochina free from foreign domination were dashed and his Viet Minh began a guerilla war with the French forces, which continued to receive support from the United States. 

On May 7, 1954 the French suffered what was to be their last major loss in Indochina at Dien Bien Phu. Following their defeat, they slowly withdrew from Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia. Nature abhors a vacuum. In December 1955, the US Department of Defense established a disguised military mission in Laos called the Programs Evaluation Office (PEO) to get around the prohibition against foreign military personnel imposed by the 1954 Geneva agreement, which the United States had pledged to honor. The PEO worked under the cover of the civilian aid mission and was staffed by military personnel and headed by a general officer. 

Between 1955 and 1961, the PEO gradually supplanted the French military mission in providing equipment and training to the Royal Lao Army. With increasing numbers of Laotian officers receiving training in Thailand and at staff schools in the United States, there was a perception that the French military mission in Laos was a relic of colonialism. In 1959, 107 United States Army Special Forces soldiers of the 77th Special Forces Group (SFG) entered Laos in civilian attire and Operation Hotfoot began with the aim of providing ongoing training to the Royal Laotian Army in the field. In April 1961, the PEO was upgraded to a Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG), its members were allowed to wear uniforms, and the operational name was changed from Hotfoot to White Star. 

By the summer of 1960, Civil war had broken out between paratroop commander Kong Le and General Phoumi Nosavan. The Communist Pathet Lao supported Kong Le, while the US military and Central Intelligence Agency lined up behind Phoumi. Admiral Harry D. Felt, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet, put it this way: “Phoumi is no George Washington. However, he is anti-Communist, which is what counts most in the sad Laos situation.”[1]

At a meeting in Vienna in June 1961, President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev issued a joint statement of support for a neutral and independent Laos. At the same time, negotiators met in Geneva to try to work out the details. It seemed evident to the US Delegation that only United States personnel in Laos could ensure that the Royal Lao Army was capable of meeting the threat posed by the Pathet Lao backed by North Vietnam and the Soviet Union. 

In 1961 the Viet Nam War wasn’t the lead story on the evening news and wouldn’t be for three more years. The developing war in neighboring Laos was never to make a headline. It was a secret war, managed under the auspices of the Central Intelligence Agency. In Laos, the only cash crop was opium. Opium grown in Laos was purchased and refined by the Corsican Organized Crime Group known as the Unione Corse in clandestine laboratories in France and later also in Viet Nam. The distribution network it spawned was later coined The French Connection in popular print and film in the United States.

[1] Admiral Felt is quoted in Edward J. Marolda and Oscar P. Fitzgerald, The United States Navy and the Vietnam Conflict: From Military Assistance to Combat (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1986), pp. 24-25.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Latrine in Indochina

non-sequential series of fictional shorts. This one is posted in some measure for the sake of memory of distant wars on the eve of Memorial Day 2014.

A Latrine in Indochina

The latrine constructed of pine bracing and plywood. A two-holed, it sat suspended over two sunken fifty-gallon oil drums, its smell familiar, its lure driven by need.

He kept the rifle, but dropped the ruck, walked in, unbuttoned his trousers and sat on the flat plywood seat worn smooth through use. His M-14 rifle, wedged against a block of wood nailed to the door, provided the locking mechanism. "Occupied"

Someone had stenciled Property of the US Navy on the inside of the door, reminding them who owned them and whose latrine this was. On ships they were heads, on land, no matter how much the navy tried to hold with tradition, they were latrines. The word latrine interlinked the sailors and the grunts on the ground in a way a head never could.

Privacy, a place to think, undisturbed. Flies bounced against screened windows trying to get in. Distant helicopter rotors chopped the air, muffled morning coughs, laughter, metal banging metal, and more light through the screened windows. A PBR on the river started its engine in the distance. A radio clicked on playing popular music through a cheap speaker that yielded a tinny sound. Martha and the Vandellas crooned, Nowhere to Run.

The latrine provided a bulletin board, a barometer showing the mood of the men. As an officer sitting in the enlisted latrine, he read what the men were thinking and filed it all away. Careful! I sublet the basement to a gook; Ensign Turner can suck my dick; and there were also the unheralded poets, I come here to itch my balls, and read the writing on the walls. Some of the writing could be attributed to an author: Article Fifteen this, asshole -- accompanied by a crudely drawn phallus, clearly the work of Machinist Mate Second Class Troy Nelson, recently hauled before a captain's mast. Killing for peace is like fucking for chastity, Lieutenant Commander Atwood. Atwood, a ring knocker on his way to admiral, delivered a rousing "why are we here" speech two days before.

Having perused the angst and frustration of others who also sat and shat, he pulled up his trousers removed the M-14 from its position and pulled the door inward, stepping onto the planking with heavy boots.

He didn't think any place could top a reeking navy latrine, but he always knew that he erred when he stepped through the plywood door and let the spring pull it closed behind him.

Once out of the privy, the jungle surrounded him. Thick green in every possible shade. Growth and decay backed up by jungle sounds that were quite apart from the human stain created by the navy's presence. The smell of chlorophyll masking rot on the shore of a muddy river, languid as a mill pond. Itching jungle, wet, dripping tangled jungle, a maze that could swallow you forever without a compass and some idea of where you'd been and where you wanted to go. Big spiders, deadly snakes, monkeys and endless, thick swarms of blood sucking insects...and beyond them, the war.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Oil Drilling in the Spratly Islands

The Chinese oil rig continues to drill for oil in the Spratly Islands and Viet Nam continues to be upset about it.


US and Asian allied opposition to Chinese maritime claims has had the same effect on China that their opposition to Russian annexation of Crimea has had on its neighbor. Globalization plus a common border between Russia and China affords them the ability to work together to mitigate the worst effects of sanctions or US containment actions without changing their policies. At least that's the move now in place.

The joint Chinese-Russian assertion that "there is no room for use-of-force scenarios" is risible. Russia used force in Crimea and China is using force in the Spratly Islands and the Senkakus. The rules have not changed. There will be more force used. It's a form of double-speak where they want to make sure that the only force applied is the force that they (China and Russia) apply.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said that the four ships China sent to Vietnam have evacuated 3,553 Chinese staff members of the China Metallurgical Group Corporation and other companies from the Vietnamese port of Vung Ang. 
He said China earlier sent a medical chartered plane and two commercial chartered flights to Ha Tinh Province in Vietnam to fly back 307 lightly and badly injured personnel from companies that had been attacked.
Vietnamese authorities announced they indicted more than 750 people for their participation in anti-China violence.

All of the Spratly Islands are claimed by China but theirs is not the only claim. Take a look at the map and who feels what is 'theirs'. It's not so much as the islands as the oil field that is under them. The first one to suck up all of the oil wins. 

Everybody wants a piece of the oil-drilling pie. China would like to eat it all, naturally. They're Chinese (and thus they are celestials) and feel that the oil is all theirs as a matter of racial preference.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Fishwrap Friday


North Carolina restaurant The Pit was robbed at gunpoint on Sunday. The Pit has a "no weapons" sign displayed prominently on its door declaring the restaurant a gun-free zone, and bans patrons from carrying concealed weapons. Patrons can't carry weapons but criminals can rob the place at gunpoint, making it a dangerous place to eat dinner. 

You can't help but think that if it was a CCW friendly place, the robbers might have selected another 'gun free zone' to rob at gunpoint. It's always dangerous to rob people with more firepower than you have. I guess that the anti-gun crowd is too stupid to figure that one out.





Has Hillary Clinton suffered from a traumatic brain injury as her husband Bill said - requiring six months to get back her faculties? Apparently that it the case.



Thursday, May 22, 2014

High Seas Piracy - North Korean Style

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea's Army's Navy is an odd outfit as is most of what comes out of communist North Korea. The North Korean government requires its navy to be largely self-sustaining. It does this by outright piracy; and by stealing the catch of Chinese fishing boats and holding the boats and crews for ransom.
CNN Reported that a South Korean navy ship fired ten warning shots yesterday after three North Korean patrol boats crossed the Northern Limit Line, northwest of Seoul. The North's boats returned north without further incident.
The South Korean patrol ship apparently caught the North Koreans as they attempted to herd a group of Chinese fishing boats back north where they could be shaken down.

In North Korea, however, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA)published on 21 May an "open report" of the Command of the Southwestern Front of the Korean People's Army (KPA). It makes me wonder who taught these people English. There are other ways to phrase things so that they don't sound so comedic.
"The Park Geun Hye-led military gangsters' provocative hysteria has reached an extreme phase." 
"On 20 May alone, gangsters of the south Korean puppet navy perpetrated such a grave military provocation as firing at random at the warships of the Korean People's Army which were on regular guard duty in the southwestern waters of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea side and peaceable Chinese fishing boats." 
"This was a deliberate ,grave provocative act of firing bullets and shells perpetrated by the south Korean puppet hooligans despite the fact that they were well aware warships of the KPA navy were operating to check the illegal fishing operations of Chinese civilian fishing boats in the sensitive waters…."
An appropriate 'battle ensign' for the North Korean Navy

A Purloined Kiss

A non-sequential series of fictional shorts:

A Purloined Kiss

The strange and aloof girl had been looking over my shoulder while I filled out an application. I self-identified as being a member of a favored race, knowing that I was gaming the system and she called me on it.

“You don’t look mixed negro and Hispanic,” she said. “You’re pure bog Irish aren’t you?” 

"Bog Irish, indeed. I was born on the High Street in Dublin." I looked over my shoulder at her. She had brown hair, freckles and vivid blue-green eyes that sparkled with her mischief.

"And you are?"

"Boston, Louisburg Square." She spoke the words with an educated lilt that one could expect from the Louisburg neighborhood. "And my name is Dane, Sheryl Dane."

"Are you slumming here, Dane-Sheryl-Dane of Louisburg?"

"Are you, Dublin?"

“Not Dublin since I was a boy. Pure red-white-and-blue, on my part and it’s self-identification, don’t you know? These days race is what you feel that you are and at the moment I feel a bit oppressed and need every advantage since I'm not from Louisburg. If there was a section where I could identify with being a male lesbian, I’d do that too. Notice how sexist the Massachusetts form is. They only allow for male and female options. In California, you'd have at lest fifteen different gender identification choices which would be offered, each with its own peculiar advantage and associated pressure group to defend it against the God-quoting conservatives massed out in fly-over country.”

I can't tell you why, but instinct took over. It may be the same instinct that made humanity prosper because if you're reading this, all of your ancestors lived long enough to reproduce. For me, it wasn't actually reproduction. It was a purloined kiss. Beyond the good and bad of the kiss and the bruise from a slap to your cheek is a reality that cannot be improved by virtue nor harmed by vice.

I risked the slap that never came.

That’s how it began and I drew much of my notoriety from the love affair with the girl from the right side of the tracks who ended up striking fear in the hearts of the great and near great. Everyone knows her story because it's been plastered across the tabloids and the Sunday news shows. While her story intersected with mine, it also diverged because she built a monument to herself with money that she made. I neither needed nor wanted a monument and that differentiation caused things to slip between us.

She felt bound to the city and I felt bound to the country and to the earth itself. Her perfect day began with room service. Mine began with gathering eggs from the chicken coop, cooking them and dipping at the yoke with a slice of crusty fresh bread. She found her spirituality from the printed word and purveyors of influence. Mine had its wellsprings far from that commercial push for community and cult. She liked to fly on private jets. I preferred to sail the Cape on our small four meter sailboat in the gusty afternoons.

I felt that the nicest and sweetest days were not those in which something momentous or splendid occurred. Taking joy in a sunrise, the noisy migration of geese, the annoying tap of a woodpecker, and the autumn trumpeting of elk in the distance has its own splendor, important in scope and moment to the person that beholds them. These simple days, following one another like pearls off a string don’t make headlines. They simply are. Thus we diverged while we were together from the very first moment, which should leave you asking why we chose to spend time together at all. It wasn't the rough sex that we both derived pleasure from or the intellectual rivalry that caused us to spar on an unusually level playing field. I'd like to say that we simply enjoyed each other's company and the yin and yang of that was enough and it led to a small wedding, expensive reception and honeymoon that was more of a working holiday. By that time we were each working on different projects.

She hired an influential swami to teach her to meditate. It’s all in his book. I read it and thought that it was over done.  I don’t think that he found much inner peace. He ended up shooting himself in the head. It didn’t say that about him on the flyleaf in the ‘about the author’ section because he was living when she bought the tome. She came come disconsolate, accompanied by her entourage, weeping at his demise. The funeral would be closed-casket. The swami's housekeeper lived in Dorchester and we, naturally lived in Louisburg. She thought that he was away on a speaking tour and hadn’t tidied up the place for two months because of the birth of a grandchild and other worthy excuses. When she arrived there were flies on the inside of the glass windows so thick that you couldn’t see in.  The way I looked at it, there could have been a number of reasons why he killed himself. His wife could have been a harpy bitch or the book sales might not have met his expectations. Maybe he suffered from terminal cancer and simply wanted to move the process along more swiftly than nature provided? 

I hung around with her and watched while her handlers created her legend, and I think that’s why they wanted me to read the book, written by the dead guy. They thought that meditation would cure my desire to ride quarter horses instead of dressage and drink beer instead of first growth reds. Unless I changed and reinvented myself, I'd begin to be a sea anchor to her meteoric rise that could end up placing her at the head of the boardroom or even the White House. After the fact prophecies were fabricated to explain her and they elevated her to the point of being a demigod for political purposes that I didn’t want anything to do with either then or now.

I cracked open the dead swami's book. “Clarity, awareness and emptiness are inseparable and are spontaneously self-perfected.” That’s what the book says, but part of me - the Bog Irish part - thinks that it’s a load of crap. The book says that until you reach a state of enlightenment, much of its precepts are impossible to appreciate. The book teaches that, "You should relinquish all notions of the past and abandon all precedents. You should cut off all plans and expectations with respect to the future. Living in the present, you should not grasp at thoughts that arise but allow the mind to remain in a state like the empty sky."

Because I didn't buy off on the swami, the book, the politics and the lifestyle, the handlers handled me. She found a more acceptable mate, and blackballed, it became difficult for me to find work. They not only wanted me gone from the area, they wanted me removed from the map. But I remained as surely as an unwanted ink stain remains on the nice table cloth.

Then on a cloudy day in autumn when the air felt like snow but it had not yet begun to fall, I saw her walking toward my door as I left for a job that I'd just begun. The third new job that year, thanks to her people.

"Out for a stroll, Sheryl? Slumming?"

"Where are you off to?"

"Work. A new job. I’ve had to move my car to a street five blocks from where I live because there is a crew looking to repossess it. I hope that you and your people are not here to persecute me further. What would the swami say? Parking the car so far away repositioning it constantly and evading the repossession agents impedes my ability to empty my mind completely."

"May I walk with you?"

"Sure, but I can't be late to my new employment." 

Then the oddest thing happened. She took my hand and we walked together the way we once had.

"I gave it up. Will you have me back?"

"Huh? You gave what up?"

"You haven't read the papers?"

"No, and I don't own a computer or a television. I may not even own a car. We still have four blocks to walk to see if it's still there."

"I resigned from government, and gave everything I have away to the poor. All of it except that farm in New Hampshire, which has the taxes paid from a perpetual trust. My husband filed for divorce to save his portion of the community property."

"Why did you do that?"

"It started with a stolen kiss. I would like you to teach me milk a Jersey cow, tend bees, fetch eggs and bake bread in the morning and fish for bass in the pond, if you'll have me."

---Ok, I realize that this story is just a little sappy. It's my attempt at a "reverse romance" style plot. Not my finest hour...