Invincible Ignorance

By Thomas Sowell 
Dec 2012 

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Must every tragic mass shooting bring out the shrill ignorance of "gun control" advocates? 
The key fallacy of so-called gun control laws is that such laws do not in fact control guns. They simply disarm law-abiding citizens, while people bent on violence find firearms readily available. 

If gun control zealots had any respect for facts, they would have discovered this long ago, because there have been too many factual studies over the years to leave any serious doubt about gun control laws being not merely futile but counterproductive.

Places and times with the strongest gun control laws have often been places and times with high murder rates. Washington, D.C., is a classic example, but just one among many.
When it comes to the rate of gun ownership, that is higher in rural areas than in urban areas, but the murder rate is higher in urban areas. The rate of gun ownership is higher among whites than among blacks, but the murder rate is higher among blacks. For the country as a whole, hand gun ownership doubled in the late 20th century, while the murder rate went down. 

The few counter-examples offered by gun control zealots do not stand up under scrutiny. Perhaps their strongest talking point is that Britain has stronger gun control laws than the United States and lower murder rates.

But, if you look back through history, you will find that Britain has had a lower murder rate than the United States for more than two centuries— and, for most of that time, the British had no more stringent gun control laws than the United States. Indeed, neither country had stringent gun control for most of that time.

In the middle of the 20th century, you could buy a shotgun in London with no questions asked. New York, which at that time had had the stringent Sullivan Law restricting gun ownership since 1911, still had several times the gun murder rate of London, as well as several times the London murder rate with other weapons. 

Neither guns nor gun control was the reason for the difference in murder rates. People were the difference. 

Yet many of the most zealous advocates of gun control laws, on both sides of the Atlantic, have also been advocates of leniency toward criminals. 

In Britain, such people have been so successful that legal gun ownership has been reduced almost to the vanishing point, while even most convicted felons in Britain are not put behind bars. The crime rate, including the rate of crimes committed with guns, is far higher in Britain now than it was back in the days when there were few restrictions on Britons buying firearms.

In 1954, there were only a dozen armed robberies in London but, by the 1990s— after decades of ever tightening gun ownership restrictions— there were more than a hundred times as many armed robberies.

Gun control zealots' choice of Britain for comparison with the United States has been wholly tendentious, not only because it ignored the history of the two countries, but also because it ignored other countries with stronger gun control laws than the United States, such as Russia, Brazil and Mexico. All of these countries have higher murder rates than the United States. 

You could compare other sets of countries and get similar results. Gun ownership has been three times as high in Switzerland as in Germany, but the Swiss have had lower murder rates. Other countries with high rates of gun ownership and low murder rates include Israel, New Zealand, and Finland. 

Guns are not the problem. People are the problem— including people who are determined to push gun control laws, either in ignorance of the facts or in defiance of the facts.
There is innocent ignorance and there is invincible, dogmatic and self-righteous ignorance. Every tragic mass shooting seems to bring out examples of both among gun control advocates. 

Some years back, there was a professor whose advocacy of gun control led him to produce a "study" that became so discredited that he resigned from his university. This column predicted at the time that this discredited study would continue to be cited by gun control advocates. But I had no idea that this would happen the very next week in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.



What Is the Core of Masculinity?

A Great article from The Art of Manliness
by Brett on April 7, 2014
"Donovan essentially comes to the same conclusion that I have — that when you distill the essence of masculinity — of being good at being a man — down to its very core, what you find is man as protector; literally, man as guardian of boundaries. (The traits that make for a good warrior are also those that make for excellence in that most manly of the provider roles as well — hunting). Donovan arrives at this conclusion by imagining the qualities that would have been most needed and respected in men in the harshest of environments:"
Read the whole article HERE


Lions Led By A Sheep? Wolf Bait

"If you know anything about sheep, you know that a trained goat is used to lead the other sheep to the slaughter house. Thus, the name “Judas goat.” Why use a goat rather than another sheep? Simple. A goat is smarter than a sheep. The sheep are slaughtered while the life of the Judas goat is spared."

A Great Article in the Canada Free Press by  J.D. Longstreet (Bio and Archives)  Thursday, April 3, 2014 


Myths and Misunderstandings: Handgun Stopping Power

 From "Geek with a Gun"

There are a few arguments in the firearms world that just never seem to die. “AK vs AR” is probably the most famous, and we might try to tackle that at some point when I feel like beating my head against a brick wall for 5000 words. Anyway, second only to that is “9mm vs .45ACP”, and that’s the one we’re going to look at today. The argument more generally is about “light and fast” vs “slow and heavy” as it pertains to handgun bullets. So we’re going to examine this whole concept, look at some of the ideas people have had about it, link to a couple of articles I’ve found on the topic, and then finish up with my own thoughts.

A caveat: This article is all about defensive shooting. If you have no interest in using firearms for defense, this info won’t really mean much to you. It might even hurt your feelings or make you uncomfortable. Fair warning.

Let’s start by defining a few terms. “Stopping Power”, as I use it, is not the same as “Knockdown Power”, a concept you might have heard of before. “Knockdown Power”, or the ability of a bullet to physically knock an attacker to the ground, is a silly idea when it comes to handguns. Here’s some relevant physics: Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. What this means for us is that the energy pushing the bullet forward is matched by energy pushing backwards against the gun. As my friend Isaac reminded me yesterday, “Force” is equal to mass times acceleration, and acceleration is change in velocity over change in time. I don’t want to get too off topic here, but what that means is that you feel less force when you slowly accelerate your car to 60 MPH than when it comes to a sudden stop against a tree. The mass of the car stays the same, so the difference comes in how fast you go from 0-60 vs how fast you go from 60-0. Same thing applies to bullets, but the mass of the bullet isn’t equal to the mass of the gun plus your arms, shoulders, chest, etc. so the same energy pushing the bullet will push that bullet faster or farther than it will push you. Make sense? So, if you think your bullet is going to knock down a bad guy, you’d better be shooting a gun that packs a heck of a whollop. That means big rifles, maybe big shotguns. Maybe. Even then, it really depends on how quickly the bullet changes velocity in the target. Even a big round that goes straight through someone without slowing down much isn’t exerting a lot of force (not a significant change in velocity of the bullet over time). A big round, moving very fast, that hits an armored plate in a vest might knock someone down because the bullet goes from real fast to a complete stop very quickly against that plate. All clear? Okay, so if we’re talking handguns (except maybe some giant-ass hand cannon like the S&W 500 magnum), and we’re not talking about people wearing armored plates, we’re not even close to anything that is going to exert enough force on a body to knock it down. The rounds, once they penetrate the body, will begin slowing down, but they don’t stop immediately so the change in velocity is happening over a longer period of time than when the bullet hits an armored plate. The size and shape of the round and what it encounters along its path will determine how much it slows down inside the body. This is why expanding rounds are more effective than ball ammo. When a hollowpoint expands, it increases surface area, which means it will slow down more quickly, exerting more force.

If someone starts talking like a regular .45 ACP hardball round shot into an unarmored attacker is going to have “Knockdown Power”, they’ve just confirmed that they are not your best source for firearms info. “Stopping Power”, however, is the ability of a bullet to cause someone to cease aggressive action. Maybe that means they run away, maybe it means they just stop moving towards you but remain upright, or maybe they actually do fall to the ground? That’s fine, but we need to be clear that the bullet is not knocking these people down. That’s a meaningful distinction. It’s important because Hollywood likes to show dudes getting shot and flying backwards through plate glass windows. Real bullets don’t do that. If you’re in a defensive shooting and you expect that your rounds will cause a violent, visible response in your target, you will likely be disappointed. Many, many people who shoot someone in self defense don’t even think they hit the person, because there’s so little immediate physical reaction. No flying backwards with limbs flailing, no explosion of blood from the entry wound. That’s what you need to be prepared for, rather than thinking your gun has “knockdown power” and one round is going to put your attacker on the pavement whether he likes it or not.

Now let’s talk about what actually needs to happen in order to get someone to stop attacking you.
There are three (maybe four) ways to get someone to cease aggressive action. One is what we call a “psychological stop.” This means that the attacker still has the physical ability to attack, but has stopped because they are choosing, consciously or unconsciously, to stop. This could be because they’ve got extra holes in them now and have decided that they don’t want any more of them. It could just be that they are in pain, and choose to stop to avoid any further pain. These stops are very common, but unreliable. Even a slap to the face could be enough to stop some attackers, if they’re not particularly invested in the attack. Does that mean that a slap to the face is your best defense? Obviously not. The next two ways are really one way, but we’ll split them out for clarity.

The first is massive bleeding leading to unconsciousness. If the body loses a sufficient volume of blood, there will no longer be sufficient pressure to get the blood into the brain to keep the whole thing moving. Since the brain is still the big kahuna in this scenario, the “massive bleeding” stop is still essentially a central nervous system (CNS) stop. Anyway, this is why people are generally advised to shoot for the “high center chest” area of an attacker. There are a lot of bleedy bits in there. More importantly, there are bleedy bits that are big enough and important enough that if they are damaged, unconsciousness should follow relatively quickly. Unconsciousness due to blood loss would be a physiological stop. Once a person loses enough blood, they’re going to stop attacking no matter how dedicated they are. How much blood a given person has to lose to fall unconscious is an unknown, unfortunately. And as you’ve probably heard, there’s generally enough oxygen in the brain to continue voluntary function for 10-15 seconds, even if the heart were to suddenly disappear entirely.

The third way to get a stop is with direct damage to the CNS, meaning the brain or spinal cord, generally. This can provide the most effective stop, as it is possible to get a “puppet with the strings cut” response. Police snipers, I’m told, train to hit the brain stem so that there isn’t even the possibility for a reflexive trigger pull as the body is falling. Direct damage to the CNS means that signals from the brain no longer reach the muscles. Voluntary physical action within the affected systems is no longer possible, and the effect is immediate. So that’s a good thing, but it’s almost as if your body knows how important these parts are and surrounds them with tough bone. Yeah, it’s a bummer. So while CNS shots are super effective, they’re also harder to make.

The maybe fourth stop is a skeletal stop, I guess you’d call it. The idea is that bones and muscles work together to allow movement. A bullet fired into bone could cause that bone to cease providing a stable platform for the muscles to work against, thereby disallowing voluntary movement with the affected body part(s). An example of this is the “pelvic girdle” shot, advocated by some people in the defense world. Essentially, a gunshot to the pelvis is supposed to shatter the pelvic bone, which will render the attacker unable to use his leg(s). Here’s why this is a maybe. First off, I’ve heard from several knowledgeable sources that handgun rounds do not shatter the pelvis. They merely poke holes in it. Also, if your attacker has a ranged weapon, having him on the ground at distance from you isn’t actually rendering him incapable of causing you further harm. It might just be making him a smaller target and giving him a more stable shooting platform! So that’s why it’s a maybe. It’s possible that a shot to a certain skeletal structure could do sufficient damage to disallow movement of the limb, but it’s nothing close to a guarantee.

Okay, so those are your three (maybe four) means to get an attacker to stop attacking. When I talk about stopping power here, I’m talking about the ability for a given round to achieve the goal of stopping an attack by means of one or more of those mechanisms. Now to be clear, every single firearm that I’m aware of has the physical ability to achieve all of these stops (except the maybe fourth one, which is another reason why it’s a maybe). Even the lowly .22LR has sufficient power to penetrate into the chest cavity and damage the aorta, or to damage the carotid artery in the neck, and it could certainly damage the CNS if fired into the right spot. As for psychological stops, we’ve already explained that almost any physical stimulus can achieve one if the attacker is really not all that into the attack. So clearly, any firearm will do that job if the attacker cooperates.

I’ve now spent over 1000 words just getting to the big point here: It really doesn’t much matter what handgun caliber you use. All of them are functionally identical, especially as compared to rifles and shotguns. Handguns are inherently underpowered tools, and the differences between them are very small when compared to the difference between handguns generally and rifles or shotguns generally. There is one caveat to this, though. I think that it’s important to use a handgun round with significant penetrating power. While a .22, .25 or .32 can potentially cause enough damage to vital organs to produce a stop, they’re also much more likely to be stymied by heavy clothing, distance, intervening materials (wallboard, windows, etc.). So my personal opinion, and take this for what it is, is that your primary carry gun should be something in .38 SPL or better (Maybe .380? That’s borderline in my opinion). If you want to carry a tiny pocket gun for backup that’s chambered in .22, .25, or .32 then I think that’s okay. Chances are very good that 2-3 good hits from even a “mouse gun” would be enough to stop any but the most dedicated attackers. However, as defensive shooters we’re not too keen on putting our faith into “chances are”, as a rule. This is also where we need to quickly explain the difference between a gunshot wound being lethal and stopping the threat. As defensive shooters we are not shooting anyone to kill them. We are shooting to stop them from killing us or our families. If the attacker won’t stop until lethal damage is caused, then lethal damage, unfortunately, is required. Keep in mind, however, that just because something is lethal doesn’t mean it will necessarily stop an attack. A .22LR round the the heart might kill the attacker in a few days, but it might not be doing enough damage, quickly enough, to cause the attacker to stop in the timeframe necessary to save your life. That timeframe is generally “Right Now” in case you were wondering. Attacks happen quickly, and defensive stops need to happen very quickly to prevent harm to yourself or your loved ones. So, while you might get a psychological stop out of the small calibers, and they might even be plenty lethal, they may not be enough to force a stop in a dedicated opponent. But what about the other calibers? Certainly a 38SPL and a .44Mag are vastly different when it comes to fight-stopping effectiveness, right? Not really.

But don’t take my word for it, read this article by Greg Ellifritz: An Alternate Look At Handgun Stopping Power

Look at the data. It’s pretty clear, I think. We’re talking about minor differences between these rounds, overall. These are differences in degree, not in kind. Even comparing the .22 to the .44 magnum we don’t see astounding differences. Basically, everything is within about 20% of each other at the very most. We’re not seeing a steady, consistent rise in effectiveness as we go from smaller, weaker rounds to larger, more powerful rounds. What that says to me is that people don’t like being shot. Maybe they like being shot with big bullets a little less than with little bullets? It’s a bit moot, though, since the one thing we can never know is how a given attacker would have responded to another caliber. Proponents of the .45ACP will point to times when the 9mm has failed to stop an attack, and cite it as an example of how the 9mm isn’t an effective defensive round. Unfortunately for them, this isn’t good science. We don’t know that the same person, in the same situation, if shot in the same places with a .45ACP would have stopped his attack. We can’t know that, and that’s the only thing that could definitively say whether one was “more effective” than another for a given situation. Incidentally, we also don’t know if a person who was effectively stopped with a .45ACP would have been similarly stopped with 9mm rounds. It’s entirely possible that he would. There are too many variables, and too little reliable data for anyone to ever truly unravel all of it. That’s just reality, so we’re doomed to compare apples to oranges forever.

Here’s what we can take from that data, though. Most attackers required 2-4 shots to cease aggressive actions. The caliber matters less than getting multiple good hits. Which rounds will allow you to get multiple good hits? Generally those that produce less recoil. So you need enough energy to provide for sufficient penetration to damage vital organs (in case the psychological stop isn’t happening) but not so much that you can’t get quick, accurate hits. As with so many things in life, we’re seeking a balance. For me, the 9mm Luger provides the best balance of capacity, penetration capability and rapid-fire accuracy. Even with a compact 9mm, I can still carry 14 rounds, and I can get good hits on target quickly. For me, that’s the right balance. I also carry with 124-gr +P rounds, so I’m adding more weight (standard is 115-gr) and more velocity to the standard 9mm loading.

Now, just to complicate matters, I want to bring your attention to a another article. This is a direct response to the article linked above, written by Grant Cunningham. I’ve linked to him many times before, because I love his writing and his thinking. Here’s the article: A Different Take on Handgun Stopping Power
He has some concerns with the statistical rigor of Ellifritz’s piece, but still prefers it to some other famous discussions of the topic. Cunningham’s conclusions are pretty similar to Ellifritz’s when all is said and done, too. Most handgun rounds will do the job with 2-4 good hits, and the bigger, beefier rounds are not necessarily the only way to get an effective stop. Here’s Mr. Cunningham’s conclusion: “Bottom line: pick your gun based on your ability to use it efficiently, practice frequently and realistically with it, and you’ll be far more prepared than the average gunshow denizen who loudly proclaims that all good self defense calibers must begin with ‘.4′.” Here’s Mr. Ellifritz’ conclusion: “No matter which gun you choose, pick one that is reliable and train with it until you can get fast accurate hits. Nothing beyond that really matters!”
Seems pretty consistent. Train hard with whatever you intend to use for defense, because fast, accurate hits are what matter.

If you’re really interested in a much more in-depth examination of everything that goes into stopping power, you should definitely read Grant’s Stopping Power Series. He covers all of the things I’ve covered here and more, and has a much greater depth and breadth of knowledge. So if you’ve got the time and the inclination, I highly recommend reading through the whole series.

A couple things you might have heard that I hope we’ve debunked:
  • “All good defensive calibers start with a 4.” – grant even mentions this one in his conclusion, quoted above. It’s incredibly common in the firearms world. The people saying this are claiming that .40 S&W is the smallest caliber that will be an effective defensive round. Do the data support this? Clearly not. This is, to be blunt, bullshit posturing. It’s the sort of thing that people say when they haven’t done any research on the topic, but when they want to sound very manly. Apparently reading isn’t manly?
  • “Carry the biggest caliber you can handle.” – This one is squirrely. If by “handle” you mean delivering fast, accurate shots under stress consistently, then this is at least sort of okay. The problem is that you don’t have to carry the biggest round you can handle to be effective. I can shoot a 10mm quite well (I even got some darned good hits with a .500 S&W magnum the other day), but I carry a 9mm because I shoot it faster and more accurately at speed. I bet I’m not the only one who experiences an improvement in shooting performance by stepping down from my maximum caliber, either. This is where that balance comes in. Personally, I want to end any defensive encounter as quickly as possible. If I can get 2-3 good hits with quality 9mm defensive ammunition in under 3 seconds (and I can), that’s better to me than getting those same hits in 4 seconds with a .45ACP (I also can). In this case, the biggest caliber I can handle isn’t the best fit for my goals as a defensive shooter.
I’ll leave you with my conclusion, which will echo those of the other gentlemen: Your success in a defensive encounter is much more about training, mindset, speed, shot placement and ammunition quality than it is about caliber. Pick a gun you can control, practice with it a lot (under stress when possible), and carry it loaded with quality ammunition.

For more by the author visit HERE


Bizarre Arguments and Behavior


           Some statements and arguments are so asinine that you’d have to be an academic or a leftist to take them seriously. Take the accusation that Republicans and conservatives are conducting a war on women. Does that mean they’re waging war on their daughters, wives, mothers and other female members of their families? If so, do they abide by the Geneva Conventions' bans on torture, or do they engage in enhanced interrogation and intimidation methods, such as waterboarding, with female family members? You might say that leftists don’t mean actual war. Then why do they say it?

            What would you think of a white conservative mayor's trying to defund charter schools where blacks are succeeding? While most of New York’s black students could not pass a citywide math proficiency exam, there was a charter school where 82 percent of its students passed. New York's left-wing mayor, Bill de Blasio, is trying to shut it down, and so far, I’ve heard not one peep from the Big Apple’s civil rights hustlers, including Al Sharpton and Charles Rangel. According to columnist Thomas Sowell, the attack on successful charter schools is happening in other cities, too (http://tinyurl.com/nxulxc).

            U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recently stated that we must revisit the laws that ban convicted felons from voting. Why? According to a recent study by two professors, Marc Meredith of the University of Pennsylvania and Michael Morse of Stanford, published in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (http://tinyurl.com/pgolu8x), three-fourths of America’s convicted murderers, rapists and thieves are Democrats. Many states restrict felons from voting; however, there’s a movement afoot to eliminate any restriction on their voting. If successful, we might see Democratic candidates campaigning in prisons, seeking the support of some of America’s worst people.

            Decades ago, I warned my fellow Americans that the tobacco zealots' agenda was not about the supposed health hazards of secondhand smoke. It was really about control. The fact that tobacco smoke is unpleasant gained them the support of most Americans. By the way, to reach its secondhand smoke conclusions, the Environmental Protection Agency employed statistical techniques that were grossly dishonest. Some years ago, I had the opportunity to ask a Food and Drug Administration official whether his agency would accept pharmaceutical companies using similar statistical techniques in their drug approval procedures. He just looked at me.

            Seeing as Americans are timid and compliant, why not dictate other aspects of our lives -- such as the size of soda we may buy, as former Mayor Michael Bloomberg tried in New York? Former U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesman John Webster said: "Right now, this anti-obesity campaign is in its infancy. ... We want to turn people around and give them assistance in eating nutritious foods." The city of Calabasas, Calif., adopted an ordinance that bans smoking in virtually all outdoor areas. 

          The stated justification is not the desire to fight against secondhand smoke but the desire to protect children from bad influences -- seeing adults smoking. Most Americans don’t know that years ago, if someone tried to stop a person from smoking on a beach or sidewalk or buying a 16-ounce cup of soda or tried to throw away his kid’s homemade lunch, it might have led to a severe beating.  On a very famous radio talk show, I suggested to an anti-obesity busybody who was calling for laws to restrict restaurants' serving sizes that he not be a coward and rely on government. He should just come up, I told him, and take the food he thought I shouldn’t have from my plate.

            The late H.L. Mencken's description of health care professionals in his day is just as appropriate today: "A certain section of medical opinion, in late years, has succumbed to the messianic delusion. Its spokesmen are not content to deal with the patients who come to them for advice; they conceive it to be their duty to force their advice upon everyone, including especially those who don't want it. That duty is purely imaginary. It is born of vanity, not of public spirit. The impulse behind it is not altruism, but a mere yearning to run things."


The Impotency Vacuum

A GREAT Article from Alpha is Assumed

"Just like femininity, gravity, and inertia, masculinity in and of itself is neither good nor bad, it just is.  When falling off of a building gravity can be a terrible thing, but if you’re trying to walk down stairs it’s pretty useful.  Likewise, men have been known to commit all sorts of awfulness over the years, but men have stopped some pretty awful stuff, too."

Read more HERE

Angels Envy Bourbon


Fairness Imposed, is Tyranny


The bill of rights establishes the base.  Where you go from there is up to you, and you alone.


Jack Churchill

Jack Malcolm Thorpe Fleming Churchill graduated from Sandhurst Military Academy in 1926 and joined the storied Manchester Regiment of the British Army.  He spent his first few years in the army riding his motorcycle across the entire Indian subcontinent (both the paved and the unpaved paths) just for the hell of it and learning to play the bagpipes despite the fact that he was about as Scottish as Shaka Zulu.  After about ten years of doing crazy shit in the army, Jack Churchill retired.  In his time off he worked as a newspaper editor, a professional male model and a movie extra, all the while honing his skill at archery and bagpiping on the side.  He even represented England in the Archery World Championships in 1939.  But guys like Jack Churchill aren't satisfied just by being a bizarre mesh of Robin Hood and Derek Zoolander, so he re-enlisted.  And in the early months of 1940, he had his opportunity to prove himself as a distinguished, if not slightly eccentric, officer of the British Army.

He had been shipped to France to assist the rest of the British Expeditionary Force in their mission to reinforce the Maginot Line, but not long after Churchill arrived Hitler decided to send his legions to seriously fuck up France and the Brits found themselves right in the middle of a raging shitstorm.  The British troops were being pushed back towards the sea by the unstoppable Blitzkrieg, doing whatever they could to stall the Germans' relentless advance.

Well Jack Churchill had some ideas.  He not only refused to give ground, but he launched small-scale guerrilla raids and surprise attacks on German positions and supply depots.  Riding his trusty motorcycle and armed only with a motherfucking bow and arrow and a Scottish broadsword, he would assault the Germans, catch them completely off-guard, and fuck their shit up medieval-style.  When asked by a fellow officer why Churchill insisted on carrying the broadsword into battle with him, he responded, "In my opinion, sir, any officer who goes into action without his sword is improperly dressed".

Churchill's sword.

Despite being shot in the fucking neck by a German machine gun, "Mad Jack" Churchill (as he came to be known) battled throughout the Dunkirk campaign, at one point even winning the Military Cross for bravery when he rescued a wounded British officer from a German ambush -- probably by swinging in on a rope, stabbing a Nazi officer in the chest with his sword and then beating up another eight guys with his bare hands, but that's just a guess.

After Dunkirk, Jack returned to England and promptly signed up to be a member of a new organization known as the Commandos.  He wasn't sure what a Commando was, but he was excited about the prospect of kicking German asses, so he couldn't resist.  He was promptly put through the grueling training regimen of the British Special Forces, and he loved every minute of it.
When his training was completed, he took part in the daring amphibious assault on the German base in Vaagso, Norway.  As the leader of Number 2 Commando, Churchill was responsible for taking out the artillery batteries on Maaloy Island.  As the landing craft raced towards their LZ, he belted out "The March of the Cameron Men" on the bagpipes to pump up his men and prove to everyone how awesome he was.  When the assault ramp swung open, he fearlessly waded through knee-deep water out at the head of his men, with his trusty blade lofted high in the air, screaming "COOMMAAAAAAANNNNDOOOO!!!!!" at the top of his lungs.  Two hours later, British High Command received a telegram from the front:

Maaloy battery and island captured.  Casualties slight.  Demolitions in progress.  Churchill."
During the British landing at Salerno, he won another award for bravery.  His squad was charged with taking out an artillery battery that was pinning down a nearby British force, despite the fact that the town of Piegoletti (where the guns were based) was garrisoned by a force much larger than his own Number 2 Commando.  Well Churchill was like, "fuck that".  In the middle of the night, he had his men charge the town from all sides, screaming "COOMMAAANNNNDOOO!!!" as loud as possible.  The Germans were confused and surprised, and mounted a futile resistance.  The 50 men of Number 2 Commando took 136 prisoners and inflicted an unknown number of casualties.

But that wasn't even the most balls out thing Mad Jack did on that campaign.  One night, he single-handedly took forty-two German prisoners and captured a mortar crew using only his broadsword.  He simply took one patrolling guard as a human shield and went around from sentry post to sentry post, sneaking up on the guards and then shoving his sword in their faces until they surrendered.  His response when asked about how he was able to capture so many soldiers so easily: 
"I maintain that, as long as you tell a German loudly and clearly what to do, if you are senior to him he will cry 'jawohl' (yes sir) and get on with it enthusiastically and efficiently whatever the situation."
Now if that's not hardcore, then nothing is.

Churchill continued to lead his men in action against the German forces in Yugoslavia, but was eventually captured by the enemy while fighting for Point 622 on the island of Brac in the Adriatic Sea, when every man in his Commando team was killed or wounded and all of his revolver ammunition ran out.  Knowing that he was not going to escape, and having no further means of killing Nazis, Jack started playing sad songs on his bagpipes until he was finally knocked unconscious by a frag grenade and taken off to the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp.

But it would take more than some fucking concentration camp to hold Jack Churchill.  One night in September of 1944, he escaped the camp by crawling under barbed wire and through and abandoned drain.  He was later recaptured while walking towards the Baltic coast and shipped off to a prison camp in Austria.

This too would prove to be insufficient to hold Jack, however.  When the camp lighting failed one night in April 1945, he dropped his shovel and walked away from work detail.  He marched 150 miles through the treacherous terrain of the Alps, "liberating" vegetables he found along the way, until finally he met up with a U.S. Armored column and was sent back to England.

Unfortunately, the war was pretty much over at this point.  He expressed interest in fighting the Japanese, but as his train was pulling into the station in Burma he received word that the atomic bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima and the Pacific Campaign would soon be over.

However, Jack's adventures weren't finished yet.  At the age of 40, he qualified as a paratrooper and completed jump school.  He went on to serve in action in Palestine, where he earned fame for defending a Jewish medical convoy from an Arab ambush - radioing for backup and providing small-arms fire while wearing his full military dress uniform.  Another time he and twelve other men evacuated a hospital full of Israeli medical personnel when they came under attack by Arab rockets.
After Palestine, Churchill went on to serve as an instructor at a land-air warfare school in Australia and become a hardcore surfer.  He even designed and built his own surfboards.  He retired from the army in 1959, recipient of two awards for bravery.

I love eccentric badasses, and "Mad Jack" Churchill (also known as "Fighting Jack" Churchill) is about as eccentric as they come.  It takes a special kind of badass to carry a bow and arrow to a gunfight, to scream at the top of his lungs in the face of oncoming machine gun fire, and to capture a mortar team using nothing but a sword and a little bit of ingenuity.  The guy was always looking for adventure, never backed away from a fight, and was pretty much insane to the point of being a total badass.

Jack at the World Archery Championship.


Armagnac Primer

The Armagnac Primer from nymag.com
Armagnac is cheaper and better than cognac. So why are so few people drinking it?
By Joseph Nase
Americans drink thirty-five million bottles of cognac each year (we're the world's No. 1 consumer by far). That's a lot of cognac, and most of it isn't particularly good. To meet growing demand, cognac producers have shifted to mass production, and today the typical bottle of cognac is one-dimensional, industrial and boring.

But hope is not lost for lovers of fine French brandy. As with many French wine-and-spirits designations, cognac is the name of a place, and just to the south of Cognac, in Gascony, is Armagnac. There you'll find true artisans making brandies of far superior quality on a much smaller scale. And it costs less.

What is Armagnac?
Armagnac (like cognac) is distilled from white wine grapes, namely the Folle Blanche, Ugni Blanc and Colombard varieties. After distillation, it's aged in casks made primarily from local Monlezun black oak. The key technical difference between Armagnac and cognac is that the latter is distilled twice, whereas the former is distilled only once. This means more time in the oak for Armagnac; the extra patience required rewards a brandy with more finesse and roundness.

Buying Armagnac
Though some Armagnacs are vintage dated (such as the wonderful brandies of Domaine Boingneres), most Armagnac is a blend of vintages. In blended Armagnac, the label indicates the age of the youngest wine in the blend (there are usually many older vintages mixed in as well). A label that says VS means the Armagnac has spent a minimum of two years in cask; VSOP and Reserve labels indicate five years; XO and Napoleon are aged six years; and Hors d'Age means ten years or more. Typically, the older Armagnacs are better, more complex and more expensive, but it's also important to choose Armagnac from a good producer. I recommend the Larressingle VSOP and XO bottlings, which are widely available at New York's better wine shops.

Storing Armagnac
Just like scotch and bourbon, Armagnac stops aging once it's removed from its wood casks and placed in glass bottles. No matter how long you save grandpa's special bottle of XO, the liquid in the bottle will never improve. This remains true even when you pull the cork -- Armagnac is stable enough that oxygen won't harm it, so you can open it and leave it in the credenza indefinitely. There's only one thing you must do when storing Armagnac: Keep the bottle standing up, not lying on its side, since Armagnac will spoil if it comes in prolonged contact with its cork.

Serving Armagnac
Believe it or not, the traditional snifter is not the ideal choice of stemware for the enjoyment of fine French brandy. The best glass for this purpose has a rounded belly with a tapered chimney. If you don't have glasses like this, use a tulip-shaped champagne glass, not a snifter. It may feel strange at first to drink your Armagnac from a champagne flute, but you'll be rewarded with a better drinking experience.

Drinking Armagnac
Appreciating the bouquet is the first critical step in the enjoyment of this most beguiling libation, but please don't go sticking your nose right in the glass and inhaling deeply. All you'll do is singe your nasal passages with powerful alcohol esters. Instead, hold the glass at chest level and let the delicate fragrances waft up. In a minute or so, your senses will be luxuriating in a cloud of vanilla, toffee, nougat, pepper, rose and chocolate. Now bring it a little closer, maybe to chin level, and you'll begin to see what Armagnac is all about.

What's next is a trick I learned from the brandy professionals. Stick a finger in the glass and then dab the liquid on the back of your hand -- just as you would a perfume sample. Your body heat will cause the alcohol to evaporate, leaving behind only the essential aromas of the Armagnac. After about a minute, smell it up close. The Armagnac will no doubt remind you of dried fruits like apricots, prunes and figs, and you may also detect butterscotch, licorice and flowers.

Now take the tiniest sip of the Armagnac -- about a half-teaspoonful. Roll the liquid around your tongue, your cheeks and your gums. Drinking it this way, you'll see why people love this stuff.
As the evening progresses, cradle the glass in your hand to gently warm the Armagnac. As its temperature rises, it will release new aromas and its flavor will change. Keep sipping slowly, contemplating and relaxing. Before you know it, you and your glass of Armagnac will have spent the night together.