Friday Quote – Jeff Cooper

The rifle is a weapon. Let there be no mistake about that. It is a tool of power, and thus dependent completely on the moral stature of its user. It is equally useful in securing meat for the table, destroying group enemies on the battlefield, and resisting tyranny. In fact, it is the only means of resisting tyranny since a citizenry armed with rifles simply cannot be tyrannized.

Derek’s Mildly Useful Movie Reviews – Tread

The Wife and I decided on this film for our movie night viewing. I knew of the Killdozer story from the growing internet folktale of the event. I was curious to see how it was portrayed.

The documentary uses audio tapes made by Marv Heemeyer in the months leading up to the Killdozer event and interviews with his friends in the first act to bring Marv to life. The filmmakers use this time to help Marv build his case against the authorities in the town of Grady.

Then, the second act feeds in the counter narrative with interviews from members of the local government and parts of Marv’s tapes that were more, shall we say, ranting. By the end of the second act, I was a bit more ambivalent on whether Marv was fucked over by the town or Marv just had a persecution complex.

The third act was the Killdozer rampage. I learned a lot of details about how Marv built, armed, and drove the Killdozer. The last act is going to be shaded by how you come out of the previous two acts. Since I was feeling more ambivalent already, the rampaging done made me more ambivalent.

Summary – I thought this was a well-done documentary. I think anyone who champions the Killdozer as a myth of the common man against corrupt government should watch this. Then, after seeing this, do you think if the folktale holds, or should we discard this?

Defund the Statues!

I’ve seen the mobs tearing down statues with a weary resignation. After all, this is the violence of the mob, and the mob cannot be reasoned with. There’s only three things to do with the mob: let it run wild and hope that it spends its energy before lives are lost; contain it so that it’s destruction is contained to an area; or finally quash it with all available force. None of these come without cost in blood and property.

This post isn’t about what to do with mobs. This is about what to do with public statues. Statues are supposed to commemorate great events or persons, represent public values, beautify the community, and/or fund public funds to the artistic community. The problem in our current multi-faceted community is that we have statues that not only do not reflect some factions’ values, but represent horrific events/attitudes in their view. Why should they support those with their tax dollars?

My personal opinion is that all statues should be privately owned and funded. If some great event needs a statue or monument, then there shouldn’t be a problem for a non-profit to raise the funds. Plus, private funding of monuments prevents government from being petitioned to use public funds for largely unwanted projects. I’ve seen some of the statues Tampa has commissioned, and most of them seem like payoffs.

What to do with the current statues? I’m all for cities, states, and even the federal government selling or giving them to private entities. Right now, it would be in the best interest of many municipalities and states to sell as many of them as possible to make up for lost tax revenue. I also have no issue with the government saying that the new owners must relocate the statues.

Metal Tuesday – Bowling For Soup – Normal Chicks

This is a sweet, if quirky, song. I won’t say it doesn’t remind me of The Wife, but…

Monday Fiction – Zombie Strike – Part 4 – Chapter 25

Skull Island, Southern Pacific, 15 February 2009, 1000 hours local Countdown: 1 year, 11 months, 15 days

James “Jim” Collins silently urged the team in front of him to get moving. The zombie horde was reaching crush, the point where the sheer numbers of the horde would overwhelm anything the defenders could throw at them. Smart zombie fighters knew to retreat and maneuver before crush. This team hadn’t quite gotten to that point yet. They were about to get overrun. Those who fell would be added to the population of undead that roamed Skull Island. Jim took a closer look at the team leader. The man was so busy shooting the zombies in front of him that he wasn’t watching the horde as a whole. It was time to intervene and save them before they were lost.

Jim gave his horse a nudge. It had taken a couple of months, but Seminole was finally able to overcome its fear of the undead. Animals, like most humans, fled from the undead. Jim spent his recovery from his recent injuries during the battle in the Mexican museum training this horse. Jim walked Seminole behind the line of fighters and unslung his new rifle. He took aim at one zombie that seemed to be moving the quickest. The rifle boomed. The top half of the zombie’s head vanished into mist as the .500 magnum bullet vaporized brain and bone. The distinctive report of the rifle drew every team member’s attention. They stopped firing and all turned to look at him. Jim’s stomach plummeted. If he didn’t get these folks out of here quick, the zombies would swarm them.

“Retreat through the woods!” Jim ordered, “Get to the secondary position.” To punctuate his command, Jim casually worked the lever on his rifle and took down another zombie. The second gunshot galvanized the team. With practiced fluidity, the team performed a fighting retreat. Satisfied the team would make it to the next line of defenses, Jim took down another two zombies before riding back up the trail to the observation post. Jim could feel his horse’s relief as the gap between them and the zombies opened. Jim was surprised to see Slim at the observation post as he rode up. Slim approached with a slow and careful stride. The other man’s wound was still very tender. Well, that wasn’t all surprising. Slim had been run through with the equivalent of a lance by Giant, Zombie Strike’s nemesis. The lanky Brit damn near died. The very fact the Brit was up and moving was a testament to the power of modern medicine and the raw determination of Slim. Jim tipped his hat in greeting as Seminole trotted next to Slim.

“Mr. Cortez sends his regards and asks that you join him at the command center,” Slim said. Jim was sure the man had been a British naval officer in his previous life. Slim sounded exactly like the characters out of Horatio Hornblower.

“Who’s going to watch the kids?” Jim asked, nodding his head at the monitors. The team from the Texas Rangers managed to reach the second defensive position and was engaging the horde. They’d be fine for the moment, but they still hadn’t got the hang of realizing when crush was happening.

“I believe Mr. Blanchard has tasked the Gunny to take over the minding of the trainees,” Slim answered. Those poor, poor trainees. Jim didn’t envy them one bit.

“Go ahead and let them know I’m on my way,” Jim said. Jim nudged the horse down the trail back to the main compound. Seminole wanted to run, but Jim restrained him back to an easy cant. It wouldn’t do either of them a lick of good if a wayward zombie surprised Seminole. It was a good way to get thrown from the saddle. Jim had just finished healing up from the last mission. The older he got, the harder it was to come back from those injuries.

The main compound was dominated by what was once Skull Island’s hotel. Fifteen stories of luxury accommodations for guests and staff. There were still some guests, but the majority of the people on Skull Island belonged to Zombie Strike, a privately operated anti-zombie unit financed by the world’s largest insurance firm. Jim rode through one of the gates in the fifteen foot concrete walls. The stable was a haphazard affair. Jim and some of his team mates managed to slap it together out of spare building materials. It was functional, but the riot of colors and textures from its mishmash construction would never be anything but ugly. Seminole didn’t seem to mind. The horse just cared it was warm, zombie-free, and stocked with food.

Jim left Seminole in the hands of the stable master, a maintenance tech in his day job. These days, most everyone was wearing more than one hat. Jim was not only part of the training cadre on Skull Island, but he was part of Zombie Strike’s field team. It was in that role Jim was being summoned. He got into one of the gilded elevators, put in his identification card, and braced against the still unfamiliar sensation as the elevator dropped. The command center was below the hotel – several stories below the hotel. It was the main nerve center of Zombie Strike’s operations. The room was stuffed with roughly twenty intel analysts and their workstations. In the center of the room was a conference room where the field team met.

Mateo Cortez, the field team leader, was watching one of the large displays as Jim entered. Collin DuBois, who acted as Mateo’s second in command, was lounging with his boots on the conference table. Jess, Mateo’s foster daughter and the team’s sniper in training, was sitting quietly at the table, loudly ignoring the young man standing in the far corner. If Billy noticed her disdain, he wasn’t showing it. He was concentrating on the same display Mateo was watching. The Steve, the team medic and resident lunatic, was typing away at a laptop.

“Jim, take a seat,” Mateo said without turning around, “We need to get started.”

“What about Quentin and Sport?” Jim asked as he sat down.

“They’re already en route to the AO,” Collin said.

“The what?” Jim asked. Like every other former military in Zombie Strike, Collin used to many acronyms. It was confusing.

“We have a zombie outbreak in Wyoming,” Mateo said. Jim felt a cold shock run through his spine. He felt paralyzed as Mateo continued talking.

“Initial report of the outbreak had the zombies overrunning a rest area on the interstate. The horde is heading towards a small town called Salem,” Mateo said, “Our people intercepted a report of some guy in all black who seemed to be leading the horde.”

“Giant?” Billy asked, extremely interested. The young man felt as if he had a personal score to settle with their enemy.

“Not from what the state trooper reported,” Collin answered. With deliberate ease, Collin swung his legs off the table and stood up. “We may have ourselves a minion, mates.” Jess perked up at that bit of news. The Steve looked up from the laptop for a brief moment before he promptly went back to typing.

Jim felt a crushing terror. He could feel the karmic wheel starting to roll over him. Why couldn’t the past just stay in the past? Well, it had been almost twenty years ago, Jim’s rational mind reminded him. They probably weren’t even looking for him anymore. Besides, it wasn’t like he even looked like he did back then. Years of hard labor in the outdoors had done their damage on Jim. His black hair was thinning and gray. His face weathered and creased. Plus he would be wearing armor. No one would know. Not even her.

Mateo gave Jim a concerned look. Jim quickly buried all of his fears and smiled at his team leader. The two looked at each other for an uncomfortable moment. Mateo broke eye contact to address the team. What did Mateo see in Jim’s eyes for that brief moment? The possibilities rattled Jim. The only way to go now was forward.

“The US government is sending its new anti-zombie unit to deal with the outbreak,” Mateo said, “Officially,Zombie Strike is not supposed to be there. Unofficially, we’ve been asked to assist. The military wants veterans in the field to make sure their troops avoid the mistakes we’ve already made. Quentin and Sport will be setting up the initial contacts and find out exactly what this anti-zombie force needs from us. They’re also there to find ways for us to operate without this force’s knowledge.”

“Let me guess,” Billy said, his thick Brooklyn accent giving his words a sarcastic slant, “You guys want us to snatch the minion.”

“Gold star for the young man,” Collin said, “We are wheels up in twenty.” That was the signal the meeting was over. The team dispersed to get their gear. Mateo grabbed Jim’s elbow as he tried to leave.

“Is there anything you want to tell me?” Mateo asked. One look at Mateo’s face, and Jim knew he could tell him everything without judgment. Mateo would probably even understand. It just wasn’t enough to overcome twenty years of secrecy.

“No Matt. Nothing at all.”

[Zombie Strike Part 4 Chapter 26]

Friday Quote – Ayn Rand

Fascism and communism are not two opposites, but two rival gangs fighting over the same territory – both are variants of statism, based on the collectivist principle that man is the rightless slave of the state.

Metal Tuesday – Bowling For Soup – I’ve Never Done Anything Like This Before

This is just hilarious.

Monday Fiction – Zombie Strike – Part 3 – Chapter 24 – Epilogue

Skull Island, Southern Pacific, 23 December 2009, 1300 hours local Countdown: 2 years, 8 days

Quentin organized his notes as he tried not to gag on the low-hanging smoke from three cigars. It didn’t help the conference room’s ventilation was on the fritz. Now, it was not only hot and stale in the room, it was hot, stale, and smoky to the point of almost being unbreathable. None of the other occupants seemed bothered, and Quentin’s competitive streak wouldn’t let him show his discomfort. It was petty, and he knew it. That didn’t stop him from trying to tough it out.

Kenn Blanchard was sitting at the head of the conference table with his favored Monte Cristo smoldering in his hand. In jeans and a polo, Kenn looked more like an executive on casual day than the leader of the largest private sector anti-zombie force on the planet. Kenn looked very calm and collected. That serenity gave Quentin the bit of reassurance he needed. Mateo, Collin, and The Steve were also sitting around the table. The three men were in jeans and tee shirts. Mateo and The Steve were also smoking cigars, but Collin had forsaken the tobacco to indulge in a tumbler of scotch. Quentin didn’t understand these men’s’ need to poison themselves on their downtime. Their jobs were hazardous enough.

The door opened and the final person walked in to the conference room. Nigel Brown was impeccably dressed in a charcoal suit, complete with vest and power tie. Nigel was the team’s liaison with Mackenzie and Winston, the London-based insurance firm that financed the team’s activities. Nigel’s normally implacable face twisted in annoyance as he whiffed the grey blue smoke that swirled around the room.

“Bloody hell mates, this is a new suit,” Nigel complained, “Must you attempt to replicate smoke stacks at every attempt? Do you know how much the cleaning will cost just to get the stench out?”

“Shelve the banter for later Nigel,” Mateo said, without a trace of humor, “We need to get this meeting over with. Jess and I have a plane to catch.” Normally, Quentin would have chalked up Mateo’s grimness to the team’s lack of progress, but he knew better. Mateo was flying back to Tampa to spend Christmas with his two daughters and his ex-wife. There had been some very heated exchanges over the telephone between Mateo and his ex over the trip. It was an open secret on the team, and Mateo showed his appreciation to the team for its discretion and compassion by working even harder. As bad as this trip could be, Quentin was glad Mateo would be taking a break. Nigel nodded to Mateo and slid into his chair without further words.

“Okay Quentin, what have we learned from Mexico?” Kenn asked, setting the meeting in motion.

“In answer to the main question on everyone’s minds, no, we still do not have an identity on Giant,” Quentin began, feeling the familiar nervousness of talking in front of people. It lessened as Nigel took over briefly and elaborated.

“The firm’s investigators have been working on this,” Nigel said, referring to M&W, “So have Mexican, American, British, and everyone else and their uncle’s intelligence and investigative services. This incident has them all scared, and there’s precious little cooperation. Especially between the governmental services and the firm.”

“All of the so-called minions have been identified,” Quentin said, taking his cue from Nigel, “All were Americans. None with a known interest in Mesa-American cultures or religious practices, but all had the types of backgrounds and psychologies that would leave them open to a cult. We believe that is why Giant recruited them.”

“Still wish we would have captured one or two of them,” Collin said.

“We did,” Mateo said flatly, “Or more to the point, Quentin did. Then, the SOB suicided before we could get anything out of him.” The others simply nodded at the point. “If they were simply following a cult, how did they get powers? From what you said, one of the minions at the dig site tried some sort of mystical power on you.”

“That’s true, and that leads into what we’ve discovered from Mexico,” Quentin said, “We we’re facing a cult of Xipe Totec followers attempting to bring their god back into this world. This cult spawned both Xipe Tzin and Giant. These two are probably not the leaders of the cult, but more like field commanders. The ones selected to do the work to bring Xipe Totec back into this world and destroy those who stand against them.” Quentin gave the others a moment to digest before plowing on.

“What we’ve uncovered between the dig site and the museum are a large number religious writings from the priests of Xipe Totec,” Quentin said, “Most of these are just traditional religious teachings associated with Xipe Totec. Except for one set. This one had to deal with the creation of zombies and gollums. It also had some sort of prophecy talking about Xipe Totec returning to stop the destruction of the world. It’s cryptic, but what we have deciphered shows that Xipe Totec left instructions for waking him and opening the gateway that will bring him back. To help his followers, there are allusions to certain individuals channeling a bit of Xipe Totec’s power as well as objects that were infused with this same power. An example of one of these objects would be Giant’s whip.” The men flinched with that bit of news.

“The whip is why Giant attacked the dig site,” Quentin continued, “It was stored at that temple. It allows Giant to control undead and play with life energies. There may be more, but we haven’t confirmed it.”

“So we snatch the whip and the dude’s out of power?” The Steve asked.

“No, he most likely has some power on his own,” Quentin answered, “That power is probably what mutated him from a normal person into Giant. We think that the cult is also granting minions some limited power so they can assist Giant.”

“Okay, so what was the point of the attack on the museum?” asked The Steve, “Our boy was being too loud and too open with this attack. The Steve thinks Giant would have settled for a quiet raid unless there was some other reason.” The Steve might sound insane, especially with his constant referring to himself in the third person, but he was smart.

“We do know he was after gollums,” Quentin said, “Some that were already created, and just needed a medallion and a supernatural spark to get them going. There are a few theories as to why Giant chose to attack the museum in broad daylight and in front of cameras. My opinion is that Giant was being dramatic.”

“Care to explain that mate?” Collin asked, clearly surprised by Quentin’s conclusion.

“Giant and his minions were wearing ninja costumes,” Quentin said, “Not clothes that looked like ninja robes, but actual costumes they purchased from a costume store in Los Angeles. Every time Giant and his minions talk, it’s very clichéd. It’s almost like a B-grade horror flick. The bit at the museum was entirely out of melodrama. It’s the whole letting world know that there are things beyond their control shtick.”

“You came up with this?” Mateo asked.

“No, one of my research team members minored in theater,” Quentin admitted, “The more I thought about it, the more I agreed.”

“Actually, that sounds eerily possible,” Kenn said, with a tone that made it clear he was not happy with the possibility.

“There’s been no sign of Giant since he vanished from the museum,” Mateo mused, “Do we know where he’s going next?”

“Not yet,” Quentin said, “I was working with a group of archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians, but that group was dissolved when their home countries began calling them back.”

“That matches up with what else has been going on,” Kenn said, “The attack on the museum blew the lid off a few incidents the world powers were trying to keep under wraps. Such as the Forreston incident. Things the governments were willing to let us handle. Now that the public knows, the government has to look like it’s doing something. The first thing was to serve us with a cease and desist order for Zombie Strike! As of today, we can’t legally produce the show.” Quentin was stunned. Collin and The Steve also looked surprised. Mateo just grimaced.

“What does that mean for our operations?” Collin asked.

“Not much. We will still continue to do our work, and M&W is actually expanding it,” Kenn said, reassuringly, “Within the next few months, Skull Island will become a fully function command center for world-wide operations. What losing the TV show means is we won’t have something that shows us in a positive light. It’ll also make finding new talent a bit harder. The nasty is that we may be working against government agencies instead of with them.”

“I’m surprised they are even allowing us to continue,” Collin said, “I thought we’d be disbanded and returned to service with our homelands.”

“Mackenzie and Winston made it very clear that such an action would not be in the various nations’ best interest,” Nigel said, “The price for us continuing to operate is that we no longer have the cordial relationships with certain government agencies, and all the benefits those relationships bring.”

“Gentlemen, I wouldn’t hesitate to break up this group if I thought our respective governments could fight this threat properly,” Kenn said, “If we were fighting terrorists or criminals, all of you would be back to your homes. But we’re not. We’re fighting the undead. Things normal folk can’t deal with. We’re the ones who can. Welcome to the new Zombie Strike.” Quentin wondered why Collin looked so uncomfortable.

London, United Kingdom, 1700 hours local, 26 December 2009 Countdown: 2 years, 5 days

Simon West was sitting in his study, sipping on a gin and tonic. In his hands was a crude ceramic mug. It was a present from his youngest. It was so ugly that only a parent could appreciate it. The children were out playing with their new toys, finally allowing West a chance to relax. Then the shadows moved.

Instincts came alive and the ceramic mug was replaced with a Glock. West pointed the pistol at the small man in the blue suit. Then West saw the man’s companion. The person was easily the tallest human that West ever encountered. Even taller than some of the basketball hustlers that worked for him. Like the smaller man, this one was dressed in an exquisite suit. Where had they managed to find a tailor for this person? West put down the Glock. It was useless against these two anyways. West gave another cursory examination of the huge man. So, this was the one referred to as Giant. Well, he certainly lives up to his moniker.

“I assume you have reason to intrude upon my residence,” West said as calmly as possibly, “It is a holiday after all.”

“The organization would like to know what Zombie Strike knows about our plans,” the small man said with a distinctive Spanish accent.

“This couldn’t wait until our regular meeting?” West asked, annoyed at the disruption of his holiday.

“Things need to be set in motion,” Giant answered solemnly, “Things best done undisturbed.”

“How brilliantly cryptic,” West commented sarcastically.

“We are not paying you to know our operations,” the small man said brusquely.

“Quite,” West agreed. He opened one of the desk drawers and withdrew a folder. “Here’s the transcript and data from the last contact with my informant.” The name on the folder was DuBois, Collin.

[Zombie Strike Part 4 Chapter 25]

Friday Quote – Phil Labonte

If the constitution were meant to be interpreted, if it were meant to change and be fluid with the times, why would the founders have made an amendment process in the first place? Furthermore, if it was meant to be interpreted and a “living constitution” that changes, why would the amendment process be so stringent?

Another Contributor to My Childhood Passes On

Denny O’Neil, a giant in the comics world died over the weekend at age 81. What did he do? Among other things:

“He also created/co-created Ra’s al Ghul, Talia al Ghul, Leslie Thompkins, Azrael, and Richard Dragon; he was also involved in the revitalization of the Joker and Two-Face as modern DC villains, and watched over the death of Jason Todd, the second Robin. He also worked in television , writing episodes of Logan’s Run, Superboy, Batman: The Animated Series, and G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.”

He also gave a robot a very important name – Optimus Prime.

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