sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tuesday Follies

Summer is Here

And that means that you need to keep summer protocols in mind.

After Memorial Day, things change - the kids are out of school and wherever you go there are likely to be crowds as people flock from the fetid cities to nicer and more pleasant locations to spend their precious vacation days.

LSP's bass fishing lake will become hull-to-hull bass boats such that he could walk across the lake from shore to shore without getting wet.

There's also the political season, which is helping to drive Fox News ratings as the mainstream media shills make up stories to tell in dishonest ways - always entertaining, but there are lemmings who believe them. That's not good.

And it's Taco Tuesday today, which means that we need to plan for the coming weekend carefully while eating a delicious taco or two.

Unfortunate Monkey

There has been a lot of chatter in the news about a gorilla (not guerrilla) in the Cincinnati Zoo that was shot after a four year old boy fell into its cage. There has been a lot of criticism of the parents, but how does a four year old boy defeat safety measures to keep that from happening? Liberals and animal lovers have treated it in much the same way as the Cecil-the-Lion incident. Maybe I'm mixing apples and oranges but can those liberals name ANY of the last ten police officers murdered in America? What about the last ten soldiers/sailors/marines killed in combat?  We can get more politically correct - name the last ten african americans murdered by other thugs in Chicago? How about giving a number to the babies aborted the same day that Harambe the monkey threatening the little boy was dropped by a bullet?

Some speculate that the gorilla was trying to help the little boy in much the way as a Bobo the ape adopted Tarzan (Edgar Rice Burroughs story). However Zoo officials differed and found that there was an existential threat to the child and that was that. Will President Obama and Hillary Clinton go to Harambe's funeral? Speculation runs rampant.

Trump's Supporters

Sure, we're all Neanderthal mouth-breathers, what's your point? Theories on the rise of Donald Trump too often rely on the anger, bigotry, and general backwardness of his supporters. This grounding isn't much questioned, even by commentators who think they're questioning it. The inferiority of those people (formerly known as We the People) is widely taken for granted.
This points to the real driver of Trump's success: the armor-plated complacency of the politicians, commentators, and other political professionals he's running against.
To many liberals and a cadre of whining conservatives, support for Trump proves your unfitness for civilized society. Articles that purport to offer a somewhat deeper analysis - promising, for instance, to blame the country's elites for Trump's success - often wind their way back to the same premise. Blame the elites for failing to respond sympathetically to the understandable rage of desperate losers; or for manipulating their bigotry to gain political advantage; or for failing to do what elites in democracies are supposed to do, which is shield a correctly constituted government of laws from the rabble.
The truth is that if you combine the people who support Trump and Sanders, both who feel that they've been screwed - for different reasons, the number is well over 50% of Americans. The Democrats who are saying #NeverSanders, are as serious as the bitter, defeated, Republican elite who say #NeverTrump. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, politicians. 

Those Crazy Norks

There are few things as entertaining as the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea, with their fat little dictator and starving nation, making nuclear weapons as fast as possible for the the big glow-fest.

(In the News) On 27 May, a South Korean naval patrol ship fired warning shots at two North Korean vessels that crossed the Northern Limit Line off South Korea’s northwest coast. The North Korea vessels were a fishing boat and a naval patrol ship. The intrusion lasted ten minutes. The North Korean vessels returned North in response to the warning shots.
Incidents off the northwest coast occur regularly and increase in frequency in late spring and early summer. A contributing condition is that North Korea navy stations must provide for most of their own food and much of their budget out of local resources. Smuggling, illegal fishing and poaching, commercial transportation, piracy and holding fishing crews for ransom are included in their criminal repertoire.

On 28 May the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) published a warning notice from the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army (KPA).
“As reported, the puppet military gangsters of south Korea sent many armed ships into the territorial waters of the DPRK from 05:53 on Friday (27 May) to wait for a chance of provocation and then fired, without any prior warning, 40 mm rocket gun shells at an unarmed ferryboat of the Navy of the Korean People's Army, which was towing a boat.” 
“This reckless military provocation was evidently prompted by a premeditated sinister plot to bedevil north-south relations and further aggravate the tension on the Korean peninsula….”
Who do they get to write this stuff? Seriously...and they take themselves very seriously. Do they go to school to learn this traditional communist cant?  I suspect that they do, but they must not realize that it's comedic. 
“In this regard, the KPA General Staff on Saturday, 28 May, sent the following notice to the south Korean authorities who let the puppet military gangsters make a preemptive attack, defying the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea's (DPRK) good faith and magnanimity: Firstly, the backstage manipulators of the case should apologize to the entire nation for the puppet military gangsters' reckless military provocation….”
To prove a point,  North Korea launched a missile in the early morning on Tuesday, 31 May. The launch appears to have failed, according to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).
"North Korea attempted to launch an unidentified missile from the region near Wonsan at around 5:20 a.m. (2020 GMT 30 May), but it is presumed to have been unsuccessful," the JCS said in a brief text message.
The military is studying details of the launch and is maintaining a high level of combat preparedness, the JCS said. Sources said the launched missile probably was a Musudan/BM-25 intermediate-range ballistic missile. 

The estimated launch location and the activity pattern support the judgment that the North launched a Musudan/BM-25 ballistic missile. North Korea launched three Musudan/BM-25 missiles on various dates in April from near Wonsan. All of the launches were unsuccessful. 

Naturally the concern is that one day they'll get it right and will be able to launch a ballistic missile that doesn't fail.

Republican Presidential contender, Donald Trump, has said that he holds China accountable for the actions of North Korea (a species of Chinese client state). He's right. China could shut down this drama in about fifteen minutes by not feeding their dog.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Vampire Zombies from Venus - etc.

From the Archive of Virtual Mirage fictional shorts:

An offering for Memorial Day 2016 -

Vampire Zombies from Venus

The well-worn book had been dog-eared on nearly every page. That’s not to say that every page had something significant on it. It had simply been passed from hand to hand so many times and the grit and grime of so many readings had been deposited on it that readers felt comfortable abusing the tome’s pages as they saw fit.

A space ship that looked disturbingly like a toilet plunger landed in Central Park in New York City (because it’s either there or Tokyo), a door opened at the bottom of the object and out came vampire zombies, that ended up consuming most of the people in Manhattan until a scientist came up with a unique countermeasure. That’s the plot of Vampire Zombies from Venus in a nutshell.

The science fiction novel had a number of homes over two years. It rested on the shelf in the privy, on a table in the plywood mess hall, buttressed by green sand bags and it ended up on my desk. My desk sits in a windowless bunker astride a ridge on the Afghan side of the Hindu Kush. The nearest city is Chitral, Pakistan and that's about thirty-five miles as the bird flies, and at least one hundred miles on foot. I am a squatter in what is presently the home of the 4th Brigade Combat Team. To break it down for your further, this outpost is currently manned by B Company, 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment. But I'm not with them. I'm currently a first lieutenant, detached to 4th BCT from the United States Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command. 

People have asked how I ended up with a brigade combat team literally in the middle of nowhere, taking mortar fire inside the perimeter almost every single night. I tell them that I'm a lean, green, fighting machine ROTC graduate and that I volunteered for the toughest that the US Army could throw at me. 

Yes, I lie. While a second lieutenant on leave from my cushy Pentagon job where all I did was fetch doughnuts and brew coffee, I met a lady who I became romantically involved with. No, I didn't know at the time that she was a major general's young trophy wife.  When she tearfully announced her intentions to leave him, his response was not directed at her in any way. He didn't want the public scandal and I took it like a man. So I'm reading Vampire Zombies from Venus, looking forward to the next MRE meal. The great thing about the Meal-Ready-to-Eat is that the pre-packaged rations are designed to last at least as long as a Twinkie - which is to say that I will die of old age before they do.

Frankly, I'm trying to make the best of it. The next book has an unusual title, Imperivm Neptvni Regis, (The Empire of King Neptune). I've been trying to get The Grey Man, but the grunts keep taking it on patrol and passing it around. It's like trying to pry a bone away from a pit bull. I can't get too nasty about it and pull rank because they cover my sorry ass when I go out beyond the wire to win the hearts and minds of people who really hate us. 

I thought that I was tough. Not hardly, at least not then, when I graduated from the University of Virginia's ROTC program. Maybe now, after two years in this hell hole? I'm not the one to judge. Introspection doesn't work when you're trying to evaluate toughness. Toughness is earned. It has to be earned. You can be naturally smart and naturally athletic. You can be born with every advantage. But when you’re getting shot at, none of that matters. All that matters is the work you’ve put in, the skill you’ve acquired, and your willingness to fight though it all and never quit, no matter what. When I'm taking my turn on the wire and shoot the people whose love I've been trying to garner (who are in turn shooting at me), I feel more vulnerable than tough. While I hunker in the bunker, I have Vampire Zombies from Venus to keep me company.

And I wax philosophical these days. I realize that back home, the nation is working hard to raise a generation of weaklings. Kids aren’t allowed to lose so there is a trophy for everyone. Hurtful words are now being equated to physical violence, which is comical. We go to war and half of one percent of the population answers the call over eleven years. Taxes are not increased to cover the two wars we were engaged in so the average citizen doesn’t suffer at all. Politicians connive to borrow money instead of allowing the people to feel the economic pain of war. To be honest with you, I didn't get it until the Chinook dumped me and some crates of ammo and food off the ramp here on this ridge. Being here has a way of clarifying things far better than being a coffee and doughnut officer, living in the Pentagon's bachelor officer's quarters and banging a general's hot wife.

There is no alcohol allowed in Afghanistan because it's a Muslim country and its mere presence offends our gracious hosts. As an officer and the outsider with B Company, I am tasked with enforcing the regulation. Before it was B Company, there was E Company. My tenure transcends their rotations. Therefore I maintain the still. My family is from Richmond and even though Southerners are all supposed to know how to make bootleg hooch, it took a young private from Kentucky to construct the machine and show me how to turn canned corn into something truly amazing.

There is something transcendent about being drunk on  white lightning in a windowless bunker in the Hindu Kush, taking mortar rounds and reading Vampire Zombies from Venus for the fifty-third time - knowing that if I'm caught running a still, any place they put me including the military prison at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas will be a step up.

Night is coming, the patrol is coming in carefully. There has been no sniper fire today, which is why we expect a heavy shellacking from 120mm mortars tonight.

"Hey LT!"


"You got Vampire Zombies from Venus?"


"Swap me for The Grey Man and a jar of pop skull?"

"Fucking urah."

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.


Rubio Eats Humble Pie

(Fox News)  Marco Rubio apologized to Donald Trump and will campaign for the presumptive nominee in his bid for the White House. Trump accepted his apology and looks forward to a productive relationship with Rubio. The plain truth is that Rubio is out of a job and needs a political path forward. Since Trump thrashed him like an unwanted step-child in his home state of Florida, going back to state politics may not be the best move since he is (soon to be 'was') a US Senator. The question for Rubio is what appointed job would work to keep him politically viable? Secretary of something, perhaps. Vice President? Maybe, but would he be a better choice than Gingrich? What about Gingrich as SECSTATE?

July 25-28 - The DNC

By all accounts, the deadline for the FBI coming out with a finding at the conclusion of their investigation of Hillary is the beginning of the Democrat Party's National Convention.  I do understand that is two months from now, and as slow as the FBI is - they should be able to pull something together by then.

Or not -- and we know that the Republic is finished and the rule of law is completely gone.

In other, but related news, Democrats (other than Barack) are no longer mocking Mr. Trump. Many of them seem determined instead to understand his appeal.  It would appear to obvious to anyone who stepped out of their limo - paid for at taxpayer expense - and chatted with their constituents. That may be too simple for a Democrat to understand and Hillary (who doesn't drive a car) is far too gone to get it. I maintain that their biggest problem is that they will be forced to shift Hillary delegates to a person other than Bernie, who will go INSANE at the convention and whose supporters will revolt.
In an interview on Friday, Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado said he had purchased and began to read Mr. Trump’s book “The Art of the Deal.”  Maybe it's too little, too late?

Sunday, May 29, 2016

WW2 and Memorial Day

It's your Memorial Day Sunday Sermonette! Memorial Day is the day set aside for remembering those among us who died for the nation. President Obama spent last week honoring the Japanese and apologizing for the US ending the Second World War with two atomic bombs instead of firebombing more cities and carpet bombing what was left of them (bombing them back to the stone age). 

I'm of three minds:

One -The atomic bomb was too good for them, and that the use of incendiary bombs to wipe out the wooden cities could have gone on for months until there were no cities. If they had not relented by then, we could have used the Atomic bomb.   The Japanese were desperately trying to surrender to the Russians at the time and deny the US a victory. Sneaky little bastards.

Two -It would have sent a clear message if we would have dropped the atomic bomb on the Son-of-Heaven (The Emperor) himself. You can see the photo of Emperor Hirohito to the  right, wearing a lot of medals that he never earned...but when you're a living God, I guess you can do whatever you want to. You also have the right to be turned into radioactive dust...Clearly it was a good idea to keep the emperor alive long enough to have him authorize articles of surrender to the United States and its allies, so while option two was appealing, it was not practical.

Three -The US had the capacity to engage in germ warfare on top of the incendiary bombs that were dropped on the wooden cities. If we'd used weaponized smallpox or Variola major on  them, there would have been a lot fewer left. I realize that the Japanese aren't sufficiently appreciative, but that's the nature of people in general. Did the Japanese have it coming? I leave it to you to decide. But I think that we acted in the best interest of the Japanese people -- and I feel that a little gratitude is in order. Maybe instead of blaggarding us for dropping two atomic bombs on them (remember Pearl Harbor), they should thank us for not wiping them out to the last person and turning the island into a resort for Americans, Australians, New Zealanders, Brits, the Frogs and our other allies (excepting the Russians - sorry Vlad).

Contemporary Japanese Narrative

The Japanese monuments to the dropping of atomic bombs on them and their Imperial War Museum both neglect to mention that they started the war with a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. The official history in Japan suggests that the US started the war. Isn't that strange?  It also makes no mention of their close alliance with Hitler's Germany. Coincidence? Hardly.

Barack apologized on our behalf last week for starting the war against the Japanese. Well sure, why not, Barack? Thanks for that, but no thanks. I have no axe to grind with the Japanese at this point in the game, but I'm not the least bit sad about the war being ended by two nuclear bombs.

Based on what Barack said, the Japanese are concerned about a potential Trump presidency and US moves to balance trade between the US and Japan. Naturally, it favors Japan to the tune of roughly $70 billion per year. Evening out that number is something that Japan would rather not deal with. Barack promised the Japanese that Trump would never be president (suggesting that either the game is rigged or Obama is clairvoyant).
My father fought the Japanese (he called them "japs") during the Second World War. I'm glad that he is not alive to see an Obama presidency and what our ObamaNation has degraded to. He wouldn't have kind words for Barack.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Is Texas Winning the War on the Weather?

Houston, Texas
Barack and others have posited that the US Military must have Global Warming as its primary mission. Since control of the weather has become Job One in the US, Texas, which enjoys a semi-arid climate during most years, has become inundated with rain. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Houston.

Local residents are urging President Obama, who is presently vacationing at the site where the US dropped an atomic bomb in Japan, to return and declare the war on the weather in Texas - over and won. The problem with that is that Houston-Bush Airport has had its runway closed intermittently due to flooding. 

Has the US Military gone too far?

Lone Star Parson says that it has not and the vast sheeting rain has been very good for striped bass action in the local lakes. He is calling for more rain (and may be asking for the Almighty to intervene) and a better bite on plugs and spoons (crank-bait).

Will Houston go underwater so that the Lone Star Parson can catch more fish? Some people have voiced that concern. 

At the same time, Houston city fathers have declared Memorial Day a day of celebration as Houston takes its place with Venice, Italy as a town where you need to get around through the use of water taxis and gondolas. They're convinced that the metamorphosis will eventually be good for business.

Discovering Roots

The City of Lambertville, New Jersey was settled by some ancestors, FOB (fresh-off-the-boat) from the old country. Some of them are said to have been Torries who fought for the crown during the American rebellion. 

What were they thinking? 

They went against the "people" and supported an uncaring political elite who squandered what capital they had - and ended up with colonies, which weren't subject to much of anything when all was said.

(left) De Lancey's Brigade, 1776 - 1783. A Loyalist unit of 3 battalions raised by Oliver de Lancey from the New York State counties of New York, Winchester, Kings and Queens. 

They picked the wrong side that time. After that, I think that the ancestors were on the winning side enough to live and procreate... ta-dah!

So on this Memorial Day Weekend, I'm also thinking about the ancestors who screwed up a war that allowed America to be born!

There will be some who will reenact battles that formed America today on Memorial day. One can only hope that they have the good grace to lose this time. However, I'm not convinced that a British Governor might do a better job in California than Jerry Brown is.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Immigration Issues

Paul Ryan
Islamic immigration has been at the forefront of politics in Europe, Asia (including Russia) and the United States. Allowing unrestricted Islamic immigration without THOROUGH vetting, and it includes a consideration of religion, is complete folly.

Speaker Paul Ryan weighs in on the issue, and I have no idea why he feels this way. Most Americans disagree with Speaker Ryan. At this point so would most French, Belgium, German, Polish and Hungarian people.
(Breitbart - op cit) By declaring that it would not be “proper” or “appropriate” for the United States to consider the religion of a visa applicant— or whether the applicant supports Sharia law or Muslim theocracy — Ryan is effectively suggesting that the United States should not be allowed to select whom we admit based on likelihood of assimilation.
Maybe this is why Speaker Ryan has so much difficulty endorsing a Trump presidency? 

I don't suggest that Speaker Ryan is not entitled to his own opinion, but I think that it's a dangerous opinion when you consider it in context with the larger issue not just nationally but internationally.
By way of a post script, how many Sunni Syrian refugees did the Saudis take in? (answer is 0) That being the case, why did they make that decision?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Interlude (2)

THE OLD WHORE (Chapter 21), A Novel of Cartel Wars

Submitted for your entertainment while I'm on walk-about.

Sime (The Butcher) Boukalas ran one of three Macedonian hit teams who worked for Costas Lygeros a Greek boxing promoter, living in Istanbul. They called him the butcher both because he had been a butcher by trade and because of his lack of discrimination when taking out a target. Innocent bystanders were fair game when Sime Boukalas went to work.

The Mexican job turned out to be one of the most difficult that he’d undertaken in his twelve-year career as a professional murderer. Language became an issue and none of the usual crew spoke anything close to Spanish. As a result, he had to dig deep in his rolodex and pull up people that he would not normally take on a job.

They had been in Mexico for two days when he sent the three young gunmen to scout a club that Costas Lygeros told him had promise for intelligence information that might aid them in their efforts to locate the drug kingpin that they were instructed to kill. While members of Cartel Mexico Nuevo Generación hung out in the club from time to time, there were low-level street dealers that peddled smack on the street in Mexico City. Nevertheless, Sime sent his men in to reconnoiter the place and get used to the environment. 

Ilarion and Hristo spoke Italian, which was close enough to Spanish, and Matej spoke Castilian, which is the only reason that he got the job. Sime always felt that Matej was a bit of a loose cannon—by Macedonian standards.

Matej, Hristo and Ilarion walked down two flights of stairs to Club Doña Esperanza, a hip-hop dive in the La Merced district of Mexico City.

In the basement dungeon, the deep bass vibrated the steel fillings in their teeth and the oppressive humidity and heat told them that they’d be able to mix business and pleasure. Wall-to-wall people from their late teens into their twenties mashed hard to the beat. 

Hristo felt more at home in the club than Matej and Ilarion, his country cousins. This was how he grew up, the atmosphere of the club inspired him to violence, and it felt like mother’s milk to him.

Squeezing and pushing the people in the surging mass, out of their collective minds on Ecstasy, Hristo found the unisex toilet. When he walked in, it took him a moment to get his bearings. The room was large, no privacy barriers. A corrugated metal trough for men to pee in had been pegged to the far wall, but a woman squatted there, perched on the urinal, relieving herself. Half a dozen porcelain thrones lined the other wall. A man sat on one, and a woman on another.

A girl washed her face in one of several sinks propped on a plywood platform, her short dress far too short to hide her sex. 

Taking the opportunity, Hristo hurriedly unbuckled his trousers and attempted to mount her. The girl seemed surprised at first, but generally pleased.

Matej was three minutes behind his cousin Hristo and found him fucking a girl on a filthy sink, fast, almost frantic. The girl, her brain gone on drugs, encouraged his cousin, moaning as Hristo banged her head against a polished metal mirror over the sink with each thrust.

She started screaming with pleasure as she came, Hristo pulled out and back, reached down into the pocket of his trousers, now around his ankles, drew out a small semi-automatic pistol and shot her in the head.

Matej shook his head. Hristo only seemed to be able climax when he did it like that. Pulling his own automatic, he wasted the three other people in the toilet: One round each to the chest, one round to the head. Then he grabbed Hristo and helped him pull up his pants. They met Ilarion on the way out.

“Not again?” Matej couldn’t hear anything but he understood his cousin’s question. He nodded ‘yes’ and Ilarion grabbed Hristo in a playful headlock.

Matej shoved them both, motioning toward the way out. People began to gravitate toward the toilet because a girl started screaming. Even though most were too wasted to see the bloody corpses and understand that they were genuinely dead, some of them might not be. Eventually one of them would raise an alarm. He wanted to be out of the club by then. Even in Mexico these days, Matej felt certain that four execution style murders would catch people’s attention.

Out of the club and down the street, Matej punched Hirsto in the nose, but not hard enough to break it. “We’re here to work, not for you to practice your kinks on the locals. You’re supposed to be a professional.”

“Short hair, long legs and a honey pot like that. How could I resist?”

“You resist from here on or the boss will kill you and he will replace you, Hristo.” He turned and muttered under his breath, “Prilep punk.”

“Yes, I’m from Prilep, but where are you from? Trebishte! The women look like sheep in Trebishte or the sheep look like women. I’m not sure what the difference is.”

Ilarion, also from Trebishte, said, “It’s easy to tell. You put sheep’s hooves into the tops of your boots when you fuck them but not the women. Their feet are too big.” 

It was an old Trebishte joke and made Matej laugh as he reloaded his pistol’s magazine from loose cartridges in his pockets. “Where did Sime get these pistols?”

Ilarion, who had accompanied Sime on the pick up said, “Sime told me that they came from the employer.”

“A .380 doesn’t have enough penetration. It’s as if they were concerned about collateral damage. We need to get something with a lot more punch if we’re taking on a drug cartel.” Matej groused, dropped the magazine from his weapon, checked the load, put it back into the grip and did a press-check to insure that he had a round in the chamber.

A police siren grew louder as they put distance between themselves and the scene of the crime. They walked casually away from Club Doña Esperanza and toward the Hotel Calinda. 

Ilarion and Hristo went up to the room. Matej went into the Sanborn’s drugstore on the ground floor to buy a Coke and a box of confections that looked like American Twinkies, but were labeled as 'Bimbo's'. That Hristo murdered the girl bothered him. That he had murdered the others somehow did not, but killing activated his sweet tooth for a reason that he never explored with the slightest bit of introspection.

By the time he got up to the room, Hristo and Ilarion were watching a soccer game on the small, cheap hotel television.

Both Hristo and Ilarion were first cousins. As a third cousin, he felt like more of a shirttail relative, however blood counted in Macedonia and he had always been treated as a first cousin.

The hotel had a condo-like kitchenette and that’s where Matej gravitated to fill his stomach once he’d gone through half of the Twinkie Bimbos. He poured dry Zucaritas cereal into a bowl—dry, because they didn’t have milk, and drank his soda while he ate alternate bites of cereal and Twinkies. A rusty electric space heater vibrated heat by his feet.

Over the cheering of the soccer game, he heard sex in the other room. Sime, the boss, didn’t have the homicidal kink that Hristo did, but he loved to screw. Two minutes after the rutting noises stopped, Varvara walked into the kitchen wearing nothing but an oversized dirty white sweatshirt with Kosovar flag on the front, and the words Prishtinë, Republika e Kosovës arranged in an arc over the flag. Varvara’s hair had that sex mess look to it. Matej liked her a lot, however, she belonged to Sime, which put her off limits. Varvara was young, small and sexy in that bleached blonde trashy city sort of way that Matej, a country boy, found irresistible. 

Varvara knew the effect that she had on Matej and rubbed up against him as she lighted a cigarette and let it dangle from her lip, cultivating that drooping, I don’t give a shit look, that she’d copied directly from Sime.

Varvara officially managed the intelligence on this job, though everyone knew that she was Sime’s self-propelled semen receptacle. As with both Sime and Matej, she spoke Castilian. 

She positioned herself in front of him, reaching down, rubbing his swelling penis. Matej responded by lifting her sweatshirt slightly, and touching her pert nipples with both hands. 

Sime, shaved head, no neck and handlebar moustache walked out of the bathroom, his hairy stomach bulging over brief underwear. He took one look at Matej with his hands up under Varvara’s sweatshirt and bellowed. He lunged for the bedroom, and Matej knew he had headed for his handgun.

Matej pulled the small semi-automatic pistol from his trouser pocket and emptied the magazine into Sime as he lumbered to grab the Sig 9mm pistol on the dresser. Sime slumped. Matej reloaded with a fresh magazine and put three more rounds into him.

Hristo, Ilarion and Varvara stood at the bedroom door, thunderstruck.

“Gather everything up. We need to get out of Mexico before this blows up.”

“But the job,” Varvara sputtered. “We have to do the job.”

“Do you know all the details?”

Matej knew that she didn’t because Sime never gave up anything until the last possible minute. Knowledge is power.


“Pack.” Matej demanded, “We need to be out the door in two minutes.”

The next day, they boarded an Aeroflot flight out of Mexico City’s Benito Juárez International Airport on their way back home via Elefthérios Venizélos International Airport in Athens. Matej took Sime’s place on the team and by default, inherited Varvara. The newly minted couple joined the mile-high-club in the first class restroom of the Ilyushin-96-300 on the flight across the Atlantic.

They met in Athens.

The explanation to the employer, David Thorpe, from an embarrassed Costas Lygeros went something like this: Sime Boukalas, the Butcher, hadn’t explained details of the job to his crew, as was his custom. Mexican street thugs murdered him while he imprudently conducted reconnaissance of a suspected Cartel hangout without back-up of any kind. All operational criteria passed with him and the funds to facilitate the mission (in cash) went to the local banditry, who’d murdered him.

“They just clipped him at random?”

Costas replied, “It’s Mexico. The beaches are empty, no tourists. Cruise ships have stopped visiting Puerto Vallarta because of the drug cartel murders. They even kill the people who fly down there to spend money.”

“No leads?”

“My guys got out of town. I don’t blame them. They didn’t hang around to be next of kin, and I didn’t think that you would want the police to ask questions with potentially embarrassing answers.”

“Did anybody obtain a police report?”

Costas just looked at Thorpe with a ‘you’ve—got—to—be—kidding glare’.

“No, I expect not.”

Thorpe asked how long it would take to spin up another similar operation, hoping that operational security wouldn’t require him to remain in Athens a day longer than necessary. The cloak of secrecy had begun to hang heavy on his shoulders because of the impossibility of delegation beyond the small circle of knowledge in that particular information compartment where ARDENT QUEST lived.

Costas Lygeros promised to get back to him as soon as possible. Thorpe asked for an estimate. Lygeros said, “No longer than two months.” The team who went to Mexico didn’t want to return and nobody else wanted to go to Mexico. The feelings among the Macedonian ‘consulting community’ were that if anyone as experienced, ruthless, cunning and tough as The Butcher, could be hewn down by mere street thugs that they’d prefer to take safer work, closer to home, in Beirut.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Search (Part One)

Researching the place to spend the remainder of your days takes effort. This isn't the short list, but it is a list of sorts. I've eliminated some spots from the list because the price of land is too dear, the climate doesn't appeal enough or for a number of reasons, they didn't make the cut. There are places such as Minden, NV that are on the list but I've been there enough that it doesn't need to be added to the search routine. The same could be said of Lake City, but I'm going to be in the neighborhood, thus it's back on the check-out list.

Questa, New Mexico

Happy Jack, Arizona

Pine, Arizona

Show Low, Arizona

South Fork, Colorado

Lake City, Colorado

All these places have real potential, but as we all age, we need to have medical care a reasonable distance from the ranch.  The closest hospital to Happy Jack is Flagstaff, AZ. All of these locations have similar issues. The answer is not to get sick...or old

You'll note that all of the black sites have altitude, dry air and are located in communities where being armed is not a problem. They also have places where you can wet a canoe. Each has the potential of a large enough plot of land to serve my general needs for privacy, security, space for a nice workshop and quiet. 

None of them are located in 'progressive' areas.

None of them are populated by inner city people.

Blue Ridge Reservoir, near Happy Jack
Happy Jack, Arizona is featured today on Virtual Mirage. It's located equidistantly between Flagstaff, Winslow (where you can stand on the corner) and Camp Verde.  Land is not expensive and its up on the Mogollon Rim (pronounced Mog-ee-own Rim). There are a lot of deer, elk, bear, lions, foxes, lynx and bobcat and so forth. As far as I know there aren't any wolves, but with the forrest service re-populating wolves, who knows how long that will remain the case?

Happy Jack
42.3 % of Arizona belongs to the federal government. Another high percentage is made up of Indian reservations. Arizona grew up differently than Texas did, flat land with sections being given to homesteaders.  (USGOV owns 1.8% of the land in Texas, distributed through 13 National Parks). So the vibe is different in the west than it is in the plains states. All of the western states have that same characteristic. California is 47.7% USGOV land and Nevada is 81.1% owned by the people, which is to say, USGOV.

The Happy Jack area is forested by ponderosa pines, pinion pines and cedars. The lots are almost all 5 acres, with more land available to those with the bankroll and the ambition to tend it.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Interlude (1)

Excerpted from WHITE POWDER: A NOVEL OF THE CIA AND THE SECRET WAR IN LAOS. Sort of a fictional short. 

Near Vientiane, Laos circa 1961

(p 39-42)

For your entertainment, while I'm on walk-about

The bar hut, where the Corporal Chef slept, was larger than the four brothel huts lined up like dominoes beyond it. The windows had been shuttered closed and the exterior was draped with mosquito netting. Cotton field uniforms hung limply over a drying line. As they walked to the stairs, Legionnaire Smith, a prematurely balding Englishman, stepped out into the sun, his uniform sharply creased and spotless. He looked over at Burton with mirthful blue eyes and tapped out Camel cigarettes for the Corporal Chef and Burton. Kreutz tucked the cigarette behind his ear and continued up the steps. Burton stayed with Smith to pass the time.

Smith struck a match and offered Burton a light. “Do you like the Carnet de Pouf, Captain?” Burton didn’t answer so he continued, lighting his cigarette as he spoke, “Tire un coup en ville, chez les poffiance de ville.” 

“You’re controlle medicaile, right?”

“Yep, I sit here at this desk outside the bar area. As soldiers pick up the ladies they come to me for a condom and registration in the Carnet de Pouf. I take the soldier’s name, rank and compagnie he pulls out his knob, draws the foreskin back and squeezes to ensure there is no discharge typical of ‘chaude-piss’ - gonorrhea which carries a mandatory seven day stint in the stockade for self inflicted injuries.”

“Do you like the job?” Burton took a drag on the unfiltered Camel. 

“Sometimes I’m teased by the other English speakers as being 'la Roi du Corvee Bit'! Because I have to clean out the channel when it’s been infected with gonorrhea but damn, they really could find me a more dignified job. I trained as a combat medic.”

They smoked and watched a flock of white birds take to the air from the Mekong River, flowing to the south.

“I’m supposed to meet another American. His name is Sam Willoughby. Have you seen him?”

“He’s in the bar. He’s been here all night.” Smith motioned to the bar with his thumb.

Burton climbed the stairs and opened the flimsy wood slat door.

Willoughby slung a long leg over a chair next to where he lounged in the dark bar, staring at the wall. A pretty, exceptionally petite Vietnamese woman sat on his lap. 

“Is this breakfast?” Burton asked.

Sam Willoughby was drunk, rumpled and looked like he hadn’t slept. He motioned to the chair offering Burton a seat.

“This is Lotus. We tried to do the Christian, Buddhist, Muslim trick last night. Lotus is a Buddhist.” Lotus’ eyes were sly as she slumped coyly against the man from the Army Security Agency. “Joy is from the North African Ouled Nail Tribe. She’s fat, drinks mint tea and is Muslim, and Dao, that sacred, precious little thing shipped out of The Green Latrine to this God forsaken hole, is Catholic.”

He waited for Burton’s comment, but all Burton did was stand up walk behind the bar and pour a tall glass of pénard. Burton lifted the bottle as if he’d found a prize. Willoughby continued unbidden. “Corporal Chef brought Joy. Joy was a pain in the ass. No way was Lotus going to screw Joy, even to please me and it had nothing to do with racial politics. Dao took off with the Corporal Chef. So, Lotus and I just sat on the floor drinking Mekong. And here we are.”

“I’m Craig Burton. You’ll be working for me.”

Willoughby replied with a wink. Then he squeezed the girl. “Lotus—My God, how I love you. I want to visit you on Sundays, when we’re both old.” Willoughby looked up at Burton. “I told her, ‘Lotus, you aren’t a whore.’” He stroked her breast through fabric, tenderly. “She asked me where I met her. I said, ‘Ok, in a whorehouse. But you’re different than all those other girls.’” 

Lotus smiled and some of her gold dental work gleamed in the light.

Burton probed. “Rumor has it that you closed one of those high class bars in Manila because the disquiet in your soul needed it.”

“Now, who told you that?” Willoughby drew his oiled blue steel .45 Colt Model 1911 as he remembered. He brandished the handgun as he reminisced. “I brought along this secretary that I met there who worked for General Motors. She was a bottle blonde, the carpet definitely didn’t match the drapes, but who cares, cause she was white.

“This is how it was. I’ve got a .45, but big fucking deal. So does everybody else in the joint except the Aussies and they’re packing nine millimeter Brownings. This Mamasan legacy bitch struts up to me, arrogance personified. She starts in on me with a shrill voice. ‘You got a problem? I don’t know why you got a problem. I know who you are. I know you so goddamn important. Sam Willoughby, probably so goddamn important you came in here with your wife to get a girl. Is that your kink?” 

“Is that your kink?” 

“Sure, if I was married.” Willoughby said sincerely. “I quickly and eloquently stuck the .45 in Mamasan’s mouth and said, “You’ve got a .45 in your mouth.

“She blinked, ‘Yes.’ 

“The music snapped off. Everybody with a mind left listened to the best of their ability because they were vicariously interested in why Mamasan wanted to have rough sex with me.

“I told her, ‘I never said nothing about you. Why you say something about my friend, Mamasan?’ I hit her upside the head with my left hand. ‘I never called you bad names, but here you stand, with a singing ear and a fucking death wish, smart enough to stop sucking cock and stupid enough to start sucking guns.’

“She blinked a serious ‘Yes’ on that one. Who can blame her? Anybody would.

“I stood there with my .45 in her mouth and shouted so everyone could hear, ‘Mamasan, your mouth is like a whore’s pussy and I wanna cum. Know what I mean?’

“So the Army shipped you here to Laos so I could rehabilitate you.” Burton summarized the outcome.

“And here I am in the French mobile military bordello in fucking Wattay Airbase, busted from master sergeant to sergeant, serving Uncle Sam.” He lifted Lotus off his lap gently and whispered in her ear. She smiled at Burton and left through the front door.

“Sit down Captain and let me tell you something.” 

Burton sat. 

Sam Willoughby continued, “I’m jealous of dead soldiers. Dead soldiers have friends to avenge them and family to mourn them. They lie peacefully in neat graves, their bravery and sacrifice noted; buried in smart uniform, medals in velvet boxes, citations to hang on the walls and a folded flag in a cupboard somewhere. They said what they had done and where they had been, and when they died, their friends told how they died, and, from time to time, why they died.”

He motioned toward the glass of pénard Burton held. He handed it to Willoughby, who sloshed it in his mouth and then downed it with a toss. 

“In the parlance of dead soldiers there is the front line. In the cant of my strange craft we call that place ‘the end of line.’ People in my business die alone. Our deaths are unsung, our motives unclear. So we die slowly. Every challenged moment of each belabored day is barbed and thorned with memory of the things we cannot tell. We die defenseless with naught to avenge us but the mute records of what we observed in the strange lands that swallowed us.”

Then he drifted. Burton took a grey wool blanket from behind the bar and put it over him. “Nice to meet you, Sam.”

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Animal Flesh

In order to be spiritually pure you must eat meat. This Sunday Sermonette draws its inspiration from that simple truth.

Old wives' tales suggest that if you beat your meat, you'll end up going crazy. When you were a kid, those same old wives told you that eating spinach from a can would make you strong - but when you ate that tepid, slimy, metallic tasting, spinach, fresh from the can what did you do? That's right, you yak'ed it back up. They LIED to you. Popeye cartoons were simply one additional element to the propaganda. Think about it, when Popeye ate spinach, he won the love of a homely, knock kneed, woman with no rack - Olive Oil. Who wants that?

When I'm at the compound in Hillsboro Texas - located near the church - LSP always bar-b-cues a thick, juicy steak. When he grows weary of steak, he cooks hamburgers and he's an authentic parson. (see photo, left)

Some people turn from being carnivorous to vegan not because they love animals but because they hate plants. I can understand that.

Would a hamburger be as good without tomato and onion on it?  No.  And the bun has to be made from genuine bread made from wheat and EGGS. (No substitute eggs in my bread, please.) Plants have a place on the table as well.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Peaky Blinders

Annabelle Wallis
The Peaky Blinders were a gang based in Birmingham, England during the late 19th century and, to a lesser extent, in the early 20th. They were one of many urban youth gangs in the era. It's now an original Netflix series in its third season. I recommend it highly for both the story and for the quality of the acting. Cillian Murphy (Thomas Shelby) delivers a masterful performance as the young leader of the gang, whose path toward violence was formed at the Battle of the Somme during the First World War.

The great actor Sam Neill (Inspector Chester Campbell) can always expected to deliver a stunning character and The Peaky Blinders is no exception. Annabelle Wallis  (Grace Burgess) stole the screen with her beauty and charisma.

The name Peaky Blinders is popularly said to be derived from the practice of stitching razor blades into the peak of their flat caps, which could then be used as weapons.

Sam Neill
As told in the film, Tomas Shelby, returned from World War One where he served as a 'tunneler', a particularly horrible job with a short life expectancy. His father (Tommy Flanagan) is a con-man and his mother was a gypsey. He now leads his family, which is turning from a street gang into organized crime under Tommy's ruthless leadership. He is opposed by the gypsies (boat men) but makes a blood alliance, and then all he has to deal with is the Jewish mafia and the Italian mafia -- and the British Government, which is the largest cartel of all. In the context of this story it is His Majesty's Government that is the Red Right Hand.

I recommend the series. The third season begins May 31, on Netflix.

The Red Right Hand (song below) refers to the Protestant Orange Men who opposed the Catholic Irish Republican Army.  I lived that experience and insurrection as a young man,  living in Belfast...long before the film and long after the period covered by Peaky Blinders. That said, the vibe remained from long before in Northern Ireland - into the 1970's.

The lyrics have a familiar cast to them for any of you who may have been part of the craft. I find them haunting, the damaged agents and the dead ones. Still it is and still the game remains whether or not I play a part.

"Red Right Hand"

Take a little walk to the edge of town
and go across the tracks
Where the viaduct looms,
like a bird of doom
As it shifts and cracks
Where secrets lie in the border fires,
in the humming wires
Hey man, you know
you're never coming back
Past the square, past the bridge,
past the mills, past the stacks
On a gathering storm comes
a tall handsome man
in a dusty black coat with
a red right hand

He'll wrap you in his arms,
tell you that you've been a good boy
He'll rekindle all the dreams
it took you a lifetime to destroy
He'll reach deep into the hole,
heal your shrinking soul,
but there won't be a single thing
that you can do
He's a god, he's a man,
he's a ghost, he's a guru
They're whispering his name
through this disappearing land
But hidden in his coat
is a red right hand

You don't have no money?
He'll get you some
You don't have no car?
He'll get you one
You don't have no self-respect,
you feel like an insect
Well don't you worry buddy,
'cause here he comes
Through the ghettos and the barrio
and the bowery and the slum
A shadow is cast wherever he stands
Stacks of green paper in his
red right hand

You'll see him in your nightmares,
you'll see him in your dreams
He'll appear out of nowhere but
he ain't what he seems
You'll see him in your head,
on the TV screen
And hey buddy, I'm warning
you to turn it off
He's a ghost, he's a god,
he's a man, he's a guru
You're one microscopic cog
in his catastrophic plan
Designed and directed by
his red right hand

This is continued - in a rather oblique way, on May 23 with a blog post, titled, "Interlude".