A Christmas Story, BB Gun, Psycho, Bonnie and Clyde, A Clockwork Orange, The Night Chicago Died, AFDC and Societal Decay

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 26th, 2013

Politics 101

(Originally published December 27th, 2012)

Kids playing with Toy Guns prior to the Sixties had a Moral Code and only Shot the Bad Guys

If you turned on the television on Christmas Eve you no doubt caught A Christmas Story.  The story of Ralphie’s quest for a BB gun.  Which wasn’t easy.  For the classic BB gun block was there at every turn.  From his mother.  His teacher.  Even from Santa Clause.  “You’ll shoot your eye out.”

This was everyone’s concern.  Not what the effect of playing with guns would do to Ralphie.  No one was saying playing with toy BB guns would make him take a real gun to school one day.  For that just didn’t happen back then.  When Ralphie fantasized about shooting people they were criminals.  Who he was protecting his family from.  And they were dressed up in classic criminal clothes.  Black knit cap.  Burglar’s mask.  Black and white striped shirt.  All comically exaggerated.  And when Ralphie shot them they ended up in a pile with an ‘x’ over each eye.  Almost cartoonish.

Before the Sixties this is how kids played with guns.  They pretended to shoot the bad guys.  Enemy soldiers.  Indians (back then it was okay to shoot them when playing make believe because they were threatening these kids’ families on the make-believe frontier).  Kids may have played with toy guns.  But they had a moral code.  Only shoot the bad guys.  Where the greatest concern of parents was voiced in A Christmas Story.  “You’ll shoot your eye out.”

Kids Playing with Toy Guns prior to the Sixties did not shoot Innocent Men, Women and Children

It was like that in the movies and on television, too.  That started changing in the Sixties.  Televising horrific war scenes from Vietnam into our living rooms.  Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) showing a brutal murder of a woman in the shower.  Bonnie and Clyde (1967) showed likeable bad guys unleashing horrific and graphic violence on innocent people as they robbed banks.  A Clockwork Orange (1971) showed young men in gangs having fun committing acts of ultra-violence including some very graphic and brutal rape scenes.

Contrast this to the earlier shoot-em up westerns.  On the lawless frontier.  Where everyone wore a sidearm.  And had a rifle on their horse.  When they drew their guns the lead flew.  A lot of people got shot.  And a lot of people died.  But throughout this violence it was always the good guys in their white hats fighting the bad guys in their black hats.  Their wounds were bloodless.  There were no squibs causing blood to fly to simulate real gunshot wounds.  And whenever these rough and tumble cowboys came into town and saw some lovely ladies what did they do?  They tipped their hats.

Kids grew up playing cowboys and Indians, soldier and cops & robbers.  But never did they shoot innocent men.  Or women and children.  They didn’t because no movies killed innocent women and children.  There were no video games where pimps shot prostitutes.  And there were no songs celebrating the shooting of cops.    The only song close to killing cops was Paper Lace’s The Night Chicago Died (1974).  A song about Al Capone’s gang wars and the cops fighting them.  But it’s from the point of view about a cop’s wife sick with worry until her husband comes home.

Gun Violence is a Product of Societal Decay created by the Political Left

While this rise in realistic graphic violence in movies was going on something else was happening.  We were losing our religion.  The Sixties had a catch phrase.  Sex, drugs and rock and roll.  It was the era of free love and expanding your mind with mind-expanding drugs.  Hallucinogens.   LSD.  Women started using birth control and abortion to facilitate that free love.  And did whatever felt good.  Abandoning the morality teachings of their parents.  And their church.  Turning on their religious past.

Radical elements of the feminist movement attacked marriage.  Calling all sex in marriage rape.  Demonizing men.  Encouraging women to raise their children without a man.  And the government stepped in to help.  With their Aide to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).  Having the government step in to be husband and father.  Filling housing projects with single mothers.  And crime.  Which spilled over into the schools these kids attended.  Kids in gangs with guns.  Who didn’t play cowboys and Indians, soldier or cops & robbers.  But shot people for looking at them wrong.

Today gun violence is a product of societal decay.  But guns did not cause this societal decay.  The political left did.  They have long been desensitizing our youth to graphic violence.  And they have been systemically attacking religion and the conventional family.  Removing moral absolutes.  And making our youth incapable of empathy, allowing them to hurt others.  This is why people today can shoot innocent men, women and children.  When once upon a time people laden with firearms tipped their hats to ladies.

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According to the FBI Guns are not the Leading Cause of Death

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 19th, 2013

Week in Review

As the gun control debate heats up emotions take over the debate.  For if calmer heads prevailed they would see we don’t have a gun problem after all (see White House petition demands ban on hammers and baseball bats by Joe Newby posted 1/12/2013 on the Examiner).

Citing FBI statistics showing that more people are killed by blunt instruments like hammers and baseball bats than rifles and shotguns, a petition at the White House website demands a complete ban on them, Fox News reported Friday…

“In 2005,” the petition says, “the number of murders committed with a rifle was 445, while the number of murders committed with hammers and clubs was 605. In 2006, the number of murders committed with a rifle was 438, while the number of murders committed with hammers and clubs was 618. In 2011, there was 323 murders committed with a rifle but 496 murders committed with hammers and clubs.”

“It’s clearly time to take action on hammers and baseball bats,” the petition adds.

The petition, unfortunately, missed the mark on the number of murders committed with blunt objects like hammers and clubs. According to the FBI, there were 608 murders reported that year using blunt objects, not 605. All of the other numbers in the petition match FBI crime statistics.

As we reported earlier this month, “personal weapons” like hands and feet were used in 905 murders in 2005 and 726 murders in 2011.

According to FBI statistics, knives and other sharp instruments were used in more murders than rifles and shotguns combined.

It’s not guns, hammers, baseball bats, knives, hands or feet that kill people.  People kill people.  Which is the only common thread in all of these deaths.  So do we ban guns, hammers, baseball bats, knives, hands and feet?  Even if it saves only one life?  Or should we make going to church mandatory so people learn right from wrong?  And the value of human life?  Which would save quite a few lives.  For one it would end abortion.

There have been 55,772,015 abortions in America since Roe vs. Wade (1973).  This averages out to 1.4 million abortions a year.  So by forcing people to go to church we could save up to 1.4 million lives a year.  Far more than they can save by banning guns.  For if you ban guns but don’t change people they will just use a hammer, baseball bat, knife, their hands or feet.

When you look at the facts with a calmer head the gun control debate becomes silly.  For guns are not making people kill.  They are only a means to an end.  If people want to kill other people they will.  If guns aren’t available they will go to the next weapon choice on their list.  Someone who has a seething anger that makes them want to kill will not simply start whistling a happy tune if he can’t legally buy a gun.  Chances are that this person will still act on that anger.  And hurt someone.   For that’s the funny thing about lawbreakers.  They don’t obey the law.  Murder is murder.  Whether the weapon is a gun.  Or a hammer, baseball bat, knife, hands or feet.

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A Christmas Story, BB Gun, Psycho, Bonnie and Clyde, A Clockwork Orange, The Night Chicago Died, AFDC and Societal Decay

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 27th, 2012

Politics 101

Kids playing with Toy Guns prior to the Sixties had a Moral Code and only Shot the Bad Guys

If you turned on the television on Christmas Eve you no doubt caught A Christmas Story.  The story of Ralphie’s quest for a BB gun.  Which wasn’t easy.  For the classic BB gun block was there at every turn.  From his mother.  His teacher.  Even from Santa Clause.  “You’ll shoot your eye out.”

This was everyone’s concern.  Not what the effect of playing with guns would do to Ralphie.  No one was saying playing with toy BB guns would make him take a real gun to school one day.  For that just didn’t happen back then.  When Ralphie fantasized about shooting people they were criminals.  Who he was protecting his family from.  And they were dressed up in classic criminal clothes.  Black knit cap.  Burglar’s mask.  Black and white striped shirt.  All comically exaggerated.  And when Ralphie shot them they ended up in a pile with an ‘x’ over each eye.  Almost cartoonish.

Before the Sixties this is how kids played with guns.  They pretended to shoot the bad guys.  Enemy soldiers.  Indians (back then it was okay to shoot them when playing make believe because they were threatening these kids’ families on the make-believe frontier).  Kids may have played with toy guns.  But they had a moral code.  Only shoot the bad guys.  Where the greatest concern of parents was voiced in A Christmas Story.  “You’ll shoot your eye out.”

Kids Playing with Toy Guns prior to the Sixties did not shoot Innocent Men, Women and Children

It was like that in the movies and on television, too.  That started changing in the Sixties.  Televising horrific war scenes from Vietnam into our living rooms.  Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) showing a brutal murder of a woman in the shower.  Bonnie and Clyde (1967) showed likeable bad guys unleashing horrific and graphic violence on innocent people as they robbed banks.  A Clockwork Orange (1971) showed young men in gangs having fun committing acts of ultra-violence including some very graphic and brutal rape scenes.

Contrast this to the earlier shoot-em up westerns.  On the lawless frontier.  Where everyone wore a sidearm.  And had a rifle on their horse.  When they drew their guns the lead flew.  A lot of people got shot.  And a lot of people died.  But throughout this violence it was always the good guys in their white hats fighting the bad guys in their black hats.  Their wounds were bloodless.  There were no squibs causing blood to fly to simulate real gunshot wounds.  And whenever these rough and tumble cowboys came into town and saw some lovely ladies what did they do?  They tipped their hats.

Kids grew up playing cowboys and Indians, soldier and cops & robbers.  But never did they shoot innocent men.  Or women and children.  They didn’t because no movies killed innocent women and children.  There were no video games where pimps shot prostitutes.  And there were no songs celebrating the shooting of cops.    The only song close to killing cops was Paper Lace’s The Night Chicago Died (1974).  A song about Al Capone’s gang wars and the cops fighting them.  But it’s from the point of view about a cop’s wife sick with worry until her husband comes home.

Gun Violence is a Product of Societal Decay created by the Political Left

While this rise in realistic graphic violence in movies was going on something else was happening.  We were losing our religion.  The Sixties had a catch phrase.  Sex, drugs and rock and roll.  It was the era of free love and expanding your mind with mind-expanding drugs.  Hallucinogens.   LSD.  Women started using birth control and abortion to facilitate that free love.  And did whatever felt good.  Abandoning the morality teachings of their parents.  And their church.  Turning on their religious past.

Radical elements of the feminist movement attacked marriage.  Calling all sex in marriage rape.  Demonizing men.  Encouraging women to raise their children without a man.  And the government stepped in to help.  With their Aide to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).  Having the government step in to be husband and father.  Filling housing projects with single mothers.  And crime.  Which spilled over into the schools these kids attended.  Kids in gangs with guns.  Who didn’t play cowboys and Indians, soldier or cops & robbers.  But shot people for looking at them wrong.

Today gun violence is a product of societal decay.  But guns did not cause this societal decay.  The political left did.  They have long been desensitizing our youth to graphic violence.  And they have been systemically attacking religion and the conventional family.  Removing moral absolutes.  And making our youth incapable of empathy, allowing them to hurt others.  This is why people today can shoot innocent men, women and children.  When once upon a time people laden with firearms tipped their hats to ladies.

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Smooth-Bore Musket, Napoleonic Tactics, Rifling, Minié Ball, Percussion Cap, Breech-Loading, Brass Cartridge, Machine Gun and Indirect Fire

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 14th, 2012

Technology 101

A Muzzle-Loading Smooth-Bore Musket had an Effective Range of about 50-70 Yards and was Slow to Reload

Why do quarterbacks spin the football when throwing a pass?  Because a good spiral will make the football act like a gyroscope.  Stabilizing the ball in the air.  Giving it better aerodynamic stability.  Allowing the quarterback to throw it farther.  Faster.  And more accurately.  In tight traffic.   Threading the needle between defenders.  And into the hands of his receiver.  The quarterback’s target.

But we didn’t confine spinning things to hit targets to only football.  We use it someplace else, too.  And have for quite awhile.  In rifles.  And guns.  Which had a profound impact on the battlefield.  Rifling dates back to the fifteenth century.  But it didn’t really enter the battlefield until the 19th century.  But before we started cutting grooves in rifle barrels to spin projectiles smooth-bore weapons ruled the battlefield.  And shaped the tactics of the day.  What we generally call Napoleonic tactics.  Mastered by Napoleon Bonaparte.  But used before him.  When we used large formations of soldiers on the battlefield.  That we moved in formation thanks to intense drilling and discipline.

A smooth-bore musket had an effective range of about 50-70 yards.  Or little longer than an NFL quarterback could throw a football.  They weren’t extremely accurate because the ball they fired was smaller than the barrel.  Which let the ball bounce off the walls of the barrels before exiting.  So they didn’t always fly perfectly straight.  Also, because the ball was smaller than the barrel there was blow-by of the expanding gasses that forced the ball out of the barrel.  Reducing the muzzle velocity of the weapon.  These muzzle-loading weapons were also slow to reload.  They required many steps to reload after firing.  Taking some 15 to seconds for a good infantryman to reload.  While standing up in the middle of the field of battle.  This short effective range and slow reloading time led to the Napoleonic tactics.  Maneuvering large formations of infantry into long lines.  Where they stood shoulder-to-shoulder to concentrate their fire.  They moved in formation to within effective range of the enemy and fired on command to hit the opposing line of soldiers with a large volley of fire.  When they reloaded opposing cavalry tried to charge their line to break up their formation before they could fire again.  If the infantry brought down effective fire on the opposing line of infantry they might break the enemy’s ranks.  If so, cavalry would charge to route them off the battlefield.  If not, the infantry would close ranks with the enemy after a few volleys and charge with fixed bayonets.  If a wall of approaching gleaming steel bayonets did not break the enemy’s ranks the lines came to gather and they engaged in hand to hand combat.

A Rifled Musket firing the Minié Ball increased the Effective Range of the Infantryman to about 300 Yards

Smooth-bore muskets gave way to rifled muskets.  Which helped with accuracy.  But didn’t make much difference on the battlefield.  Until Claude-Étienne Minié developed a new conical shaped bullet with a hollow base.  The Minié ball.  Made from soft lead it expanded when fired.  The expanding gases pressing the base of the Minié ball into the grooved barrel of a rifle.  Preventing the gas blow-by.  And imparting a spin on the bullet.  Greatly increasing the effective range of an infantryman’s rifle.  Approximately 4 times the range of the smooth-bore musket.  Which meant you could be 4 times as far away from the enemy and still be able to hit your target.  So instead of about a half of a football field you could hit an enemy reliably from 3 football fields away.  Also, they delivered these new bullets to the infantryman wrapped in a paper cartridge that also included gunpowder.  The soldier bit off the end of the cartridge, poured the premeasured amount of powder into the muzzle, followed by the Minié ball, rammed it home and placed a percussion cap (a small metal cap with a shock-sensitive explosive in it) on a hollow nipple above the packed powder.  When the infantryman pulled the trigger the hammer fell on the percussion cap.  This ignition source then spread through the nipple to the packed powder in the barrel.  Igniting the powder.  Expanding the soft lead of the base.  Pushing it and spinning it out of the barrel.  A soft, fat projectile.  That when it found its mark made big holes.  Tore through muscle.  And shattered bone.  Most wounds in the chest or abdomen were fatal.  Wounds in arm or a leg usually resulted with the amputation of that limb.

These were great advancements in weaponry.  Making the infantryman a much more powerful and lethal force on the battlefield.  If used in battle with the proper tactics.  Unfortunately, when armies first used the new Minié ball rifle they still used Napoleonic tactics.  Europeans in the Crimean War (1853 –1856).  And the Americans in the Civil War (1861–1865).  The first modern wars.  That killed hundreds of thousands of soldiers.  About 600,000 each.  And maimed more.  Because they still fought shoulder to shoulder.  Marching forward under a hail of long-range and accurate enemy fire.  Of soft, fat projectiles.  That just decimated their ranks.  Soon the Americans learned to build fortified defensive positions.  On the high ground.  And let the enemy attack them.  Because an offensive attack against a fortified defensive position proved suicidal.  As Union soldiers learned.  So before some of the later battles these soldiers invented something that became standard issue in following wars.  The dog tag.  So someone could identify them after they died in combat.  So their families could bury them at home.  These fortified defensive positions evolved into trenches.  Such as used during the Siege of Petersburg.  A siege because offensive attacks against infantry in a trench proved suicidal.  A lesson, sadly, that few learned.

By the end of the Civil War the tactics finally caught up to the technology.  Napoleonic tactics were out.  And modern war was in.  Infantry didn’t mass on the field of battle.  Resplendent in their uniform behind their colors.  Instead they were filthy and firing from behind cover.  And battles weren’t a Sunday afternoon in the park.  But lasted days.  Where soldiers often went hungry.  Endured constant shelling.   And kept their heads down for fear of snipers.  Also, it was now total war.  War against the soldiers in the field.  And the resources that kept them in the field.  Rail lines.  Telegraph lines.  Factories.  Ports and harbors.  Food supplies.  And even the morale of the enemy combatant’s citizens.  Because attacks against all of these made it difficult to continue to wage war.  Which ultimately shortened war.  But making war truly hell.  And most cruel.  But hopefully ending it quicker and saving lives in the long run.

The Brass Cartridge with Bullet and Percussion Cap allowed Breech-Loading and much higher Rates of Fire 

There are a lot of lessons to learn from the Crimean War.  And the American Civil War.  Which they quickly forgot by 1914.  With the outbreak of World War I.  Where combatants went off in the spirit of a Napoleonic war.  Resplendent in their colors.  Full of patriotic fervor.  But not for long.  For in this most modern of all wars to date they still foolishly massed infantry on the field of battle.  And attacked fortified defensive positions.  A war that still used horses for cavalry charges.  Despite massive advancements in technology.  Like breech-loading rifles that fired ammunition consisting of a bullet pressed into a brass cartridge full of gunpowder.  Also pressed into this cartridge was a percussion cap.  Making a self-contained round.  That they could press into a clip or a magazine.  Which could be loaded into a rifle while lying down behind cover.  Greatly increasing the rate of fire.  Without having to expose the rifleman to enemy fire.  These new cartridges could also be loaded into canvas belts.  And fed into a new weapon.  The machine gun.  A horrific killing machine in WWI.  Where a gun crew could maintain a rate of fire great enough to wipe out companies of infantry at a time.  Who were foolishly advancing over open ground against an entrenched defensive position.  As if the Crimean and American Civil War never happened.

Artillery was bigger and more accurate, too.  And unlike their Civil War ancestors, you didn’t have to see what you were firing at.  Artillery batteries could be miles from the battlefield.  Out of sight of the enemy.  Instead aiming at them with geometry and maps.  By calculating azimuth (left and right) and elevation angles (up and down) to adjust the gun for an accurate but indirect fire.  Forward observers used new electronic communication to adjust this indirect fire onto target.  Breech-loading and recoil dampening devices (also unlike their civil war ancestors where the recoil threw the cannon backwards) made these not only rapid firing but accurate.  Raining hell down on that advancing line of infantry advancing into a hail of machine gun fire.  Meaning that when the order was given to go over the top of their safe (but miserable) trenches to assault the enemy’s trenches many would die.  Giving the huge death toll of World War I.  Where some 10 million combatants died.

WWI is perhaps the greatest man-made disaster in history.  And not just for the horrific death toll.  But what that death toll did.  WWI changed the world.  Not just the lines on the map.  But the very nature of nations.  The size of governments.  And economics.  Not because of the advancing technology.  But for the misunderstanding, and misuse of, that technology.  Because for some fifty years their tactics played catch up to the technology of the day.  Which, sadly, is more of the rule than the exception.  Because it’s senior military personnel that make policy.  And these generals are still planning to fight the last war.  Instead of the next war.

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