Kobayashi Maru?


Kirk, famously, does not believe in the no-win scenario.  Well, I do.  What I don’t believe in is the no-try scenario.  And, frankly, when it comes to self-defense, I don’t believe in the “fair fight” scenario.

If I’m fighting at all it’s because I’m in fear of death or serious bodily injury. In that case, I have not just a right, but a duty to make the fight as unfair in my advantage as possible. I have a little girl waiting at home. She needs her father. She depends on her father for material support, for values education, for a multitude of things. Those things are not just a privilege but a duty. I would be remiss if I did not do everything in my power to come home safely so I can continue living up to that duty.

If that little girl means more to me than my life (she does) then she certainly means more to me than yours, not because I’m a “tough guy” but because I am not and and don’t pretend to be.  I have no interest in trying to prove how tough I am in some display of fisticuffs.  You want to consider me some kind of wimp because I’m not interested in duking it out to see who’s more “macho”?  Fine.  I’m good with that.

On the other hand, you want to put me in fear of death or seriously bodily injury in a situation where I an’t just walk away from it safely?  Well, then you’ve made your choice and will have to live, or not, with the consequences.  You see, my one, my only, goal is getting home safely to that little girl.  My goal become to put you in the no-win scenario.

Challenge that at your peril.

A Snippet

From the sequel to The Hordes of Chanakra.

Kaila stared out over the sea until the sun sank beneath the waves before them.  Several times, someone brought her a cup of water which she drank before handing the cub behind her, not even looking to see who had brought the cup.  Once Keven asked her if she wished to eat. She merely shook her head.

As darkness descended, leaving only the light of the larger moon shrouding the sea in gray, she shook her head and stepped back from the stempost.  She turned. Crewmembers stopped what they were doing and stared at her for a moment before hastily averting their eyes and returning to their tasks.  She walked to the rear of the ship, stepping over cordage, sidling around casks and tools, obstacles she had scarce noticed before.

As she crossed the length of the ship she let her eyes turn from side to side to inspect the crew.  While they did their tasks with alacrity, they kept casting fearful glances at the dark sea around them.

In the stern, Kaila found Marek using a cord to measure the height of stars.  Shillond stood next to him, his eyes wide but his attention turned inward. Kaila knew the signs.

“The crew are fearful,” she said. “Not of us but–” she tossed her head. “–out there.”

Marek nodded. “The sea at night is a frightening thing.  They expected to pull up on shore overnight.”

Kaila looked back over her shoulder. “A frightening thing indeed.  Who knows what it can steal from you.”

Shillond blinked, his attention turned outward once again. “Kaila…”

Kaila raised a hand. “No, father.  Kreg and I both knew that death could claim one of us and not the other.  I only wish we had…more time.”

Kaila closed her eyes.  She felt the grief well up in her again.  She gathered the grief and squeezed it into a hard, tight ball, then pushed it down deep inside her.  When she opened her eyes, they were dry. She felt the muscles of her face settle into the expression she had worn too often in her life, hard and stern.  Only since…she pushed that thought away. She would be what her king needed, what she has always been, a fearless knight, ready to die at his command.

“Kaila?” Shillond’s voice held concern.

Kaila shook her head.  She turned her face to the king and bowed. “What is our course, Your Majesty?”

“We shall sail…four days I think before we turn north and seek the coast and thence on west to Trevanta.”

“How may I serve?”

Marek smiled. “My strong right arm, as always.  Keven has confiscated the crew’s weapons. Choose from among them as best suits you, then rest.  Your watch shall come later.”

“As my King commands.” Kaila bowed again and backed away before turning and finding the hatch that led to the interior of the ship.

A single oil lamp dimly lit the passageway to the officer’s cabins in the rear of the ship.  Kaila kicked aside a piece of the shattered doorway as she returned to the cabin from which she and the others had escaped.

Keven sat on the room’s bunk, a motley collection of swords arranged on the floor in front of him.  Two oil lamps lit the room in a ruddy glow.

While Kaila stood in the doorway he picked up one of the swords and inspected the edge.

“The King said I was to choose weapons,” Kaila said.

Keven waved a hand over the swords and knives on the floor. “There is little enough to choose from.  Some, I think, were fine blades once but years of salt and…”

Kaila held up a hand.  Something tugged at her head.  No, not her head. Her heart. She turned and frowned at the door on the opposite side of the narrow passage.

“What is through that door?”

Keven stood up. “That would be the purser’s quarters.  I had planned to search it next, but we needed weapons before we needed gold.”

Kaila knew that Keven spoke true.  But something…something called to her.  She laid her hand on the latch. The door opened at her touch.  She stepped into the doorway but only blackness met her gaze.

Kaila held her hand out behind her.

“If it please, Your Highness.  A lamp.”

She felt the weight of an oil lamp fill her palm.  She brought the lamp around and held it as high as the ceiling would permit.

A modest room with a single bunk.  A sea bag lay on the bunk. A desk filled the forward part of the room, with a large strongbox underneath it.

But the desk did not call to her.  She turned to the aft end of the room.  She took another step, only dimly noting Keven following her into the room.  Kaila ran her hand over the wood. Something…something was there. Did that plank move?

She worried at the plank, shoving it this way and that, trying to get it to slide aside, or to slide out.  Her movements became increasingly frantic. A low growl escaped from her throat.

She drew back her right hand, clenching her fist.  Before she could strike, Keven caught her wrist. Surprised, Kaila looked back, her hand opening of its own accord.

Smiling, Keven pressed the handle of a small throwing hatchet into her hand and took the lamp from her other.

Kaila nodded her thanks then turned back to the plank.  She chopped. Again and again. Wood chips flew. Her breath came in ragged gasps as tears ran down her face.  She continued to hack until finally, with the head of the hatchet wedged into the wood, she twisted and the plank cracked, falling away from the wall in two pieces.

The falling plank revealed a false wall, with a space barely a hand wide.  In the shadows of that space, something gleamed.

At Kaila’s gesture, Keven brought the lamp closer.

Swords, two swords concealed within the false wall.  Not just any swords but shashyn, the Great Swords of Aerioch, both with scabbards and belts.

Kaila’s eyes widened as she recognized the swords.  One she knew as well as her own hand. It was the sword she had carried since first she took up arms, the sword her mother had carried in her last battle.  And the other. That one too she knew, the sword chance found at a bladesmith’s in Trevanta, the sword that had suited Kreg so well.

Kaila drew the swords from the wall.  She pressed the hilts of the two swords to her bowed forehead.  Tears dripped from her eyes.

“What?” Keven’s voice seemed to come from far away. “Is that…your sword?”

Kaila drew a deep breath and lowered the swords.

“I had wondered how this ship chanced upon us,” she said.

“They were sent after us,” Keven said. “A spell.  We questioned the captain.”

Kaila nodded. “For such a spell they would need something bound to us.  And as the spell drew them to us, it also drew me to…” She held up her sword.  Her hand tightened around Kreg’s sword for a moment, and then she sighed again. “If only…”  She shook her head. “Keven, Kreg’s sword is long for you, but would suit better than any of this crew’s ill forged ironmongery.”

She held out the sword. “And I think Kreg would be honored if you would use it in his name.”

Keven nodded and took the sword. “Shall we see what else we may find?”

Kaila buckled her sword around her waist so that it hung at her right hip.  She smiled a smile she did not yet feel but knew that, in time, she would.

“Yes, let us.”

Strangely, the weight of the sword at her waist seemed to relieve one in her heart.  Perhaps the time would come when she would laugh again. Perhaps.

“Mandatory Buybacks are not Confiscation”

At least according to Amy Klobuchar.


This, of course is utterly ridiculous.  Let’s leave aside that “buyback” is a misnomer to begin with–you can’t buy something “back” if you didn’t sell it in the first place. (But then, government tends to think everything belongs to them and you only have it because they graciously allow you to keep it…until they don’t.) Let’s break it down.

It’s mandatory.  That implies certain things:

  1. You are not offering enough in your “buyback” to get me to voluntarily part with my guns.  I mean, even if I hadn’t lost them all in a tragic boating accident.  Oh, sure, you may be offering enough for some people, and maybe even for me to part with some of my guns (If I still had any; had a couple of real dogs in there–well, I was young and didn’t know any better), but I know going in that you aren’t going to offer enough to get me to part with all of them, not voluntarily.  And you know it too otherwise there would be no need for “mandatory.”
  2. Since you are not offering enough to get me to voluntarily part with my guns, you are, by definition, not offering a fair price.  Oh, you might think it’s fair, and if you find somebody willing to take it, great.  More power to you (except you’re using tax dollars, which means you’re insisting that I pick up the tab for it).  However an actual “fair price” is one that both parties to the transaction agree to.  And you can’t fall back on “market price” because if you’re banning the sale of the guns.  There no longer is a market for there to be a “market price”.  You’re just declaring whatever you want as the “fair price.”
  3. Since you’re not offering a fair price, one which I will agree is sufficient compensation to get me to part with my guns, you must, therefore, have some other reason to get me to do so.  You might try what you think is “reason.” You might appeal to my public spirit to give them up for “public safety”.  The problem with that is that my guns are no threat to anybody except those who mean harm to me and mine.  And, to be honest, I am very little concerned about the safety of those who mean harm to me and mine.  Stopping them from harming me and mine is paramount in that equation.  And no way does my giving up my guns serve to prevent them from harming me and mine.
  4. Thus, since what you consider to be “reason” is nothing of the sort and is definitely insufficient to convince me to voluntarily give up my guns, you are left with only one alternative:  force.  At least you must have the threat of force.  You must have the viable threat to send armed individuals to forcibly restrain me and forcibly take my guns away from me.
    1. That the threat is sufficient for many, that the willingness and ability to send those armed individuals, is sufficient to get many to submit and hand over the guns for whatever “price” you offer to them does not make it any less a use of force, any less a “confiscation.”

Look, force is force even if it’s just “threat of force”, and even if you pay some conscience money afterward.  If someone forces another to have sex it’s still rape even if they just used intimidation and never struck a blow.

And even if they drop a C-note on the dresser on their way out the door.

How’s that 4-D Chess working out? (A Renamed Blast from the Past.)


It’s been over a year since the Trump Administration unilaterally re-defined the meaning of the term “machine gun” so as to make bump stocks illegal with no grandfathering.  (Among other things making that an ex-post-facto law.) The Usual Suspects were all “It’s 4-D Chess, part of a larger plan.” Well, I wrote this in response to that, and find no reason to change a word:

So the ATF under the Trump Administration has unilaterally changed the definition of “machine gun” to include a firearms accessory, specifically bump stocks, making the possession of them illegal.  There is no “grandfather clause”, there is no way to render them legal by registering them and getting the $200 NFA Tax stamp (no new machine guns could be registered after the 1986 Hughes Amendment).  That makes this not only a violation of the 2nd Amendment but also of the “nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law” provision of the 5th.

But the die-hard “Trump can do no wrong” crowd are claiming once again that Trump is “playing 4d Chess” and this is all part of some plan to accomplish… something. What exactly it’s supposed to accomplish, and how, is left unclear.

Look, there is no “4-D chess” here. There is no “deal.” I, for one, do not think Trump is stupid enough to buy the “give up something now in return for the promise of something in return later” so beloved of the Republican party (that the “something in return later” never materializes never seems to faze them). One does not develop a business empire of that size by being stupid and certainly not from repeatedly falling for “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a Hamburger today.” If he’s giving up bump stocks now it’s not in the expectation of getting something else (like, say, national reciprocity which claim I’ve heard from the “4-D chess crowd) later. No, he’s giving it up for nothing.

Doesn’t matter how much you say “Bump stocks are no big deal” or “nobody really needs a bump stock” (we back to “bill of needs” again?) or “they’re just a way to waste money while losing accuracy and actual utility.” None of that matters.  All that matters is that people are being deprived of property, and the right to own said property if they want (all the justification anyone ever needs, at least if you want a free society) for nothing, giving up liberty not even for “a little temporary safety” just for…nothing.

When Trump does things of which I approve, I’ll say so.  And when he does things of which I disapprove, I’ll say that too.  This falls squarely in the “disapprove” side.

The thing is, despite what the “Trump can do no wrong” crowd would like to believe, he has never been a fan of the 2nd Amendment (or the 4th, or the 5th, or the 1st, or…) As just one example, while he was campaigning he was more than willing to throw semi-automatic rifles under the bus after the Pulse Nightclub shooting.

He’s not a fan of the 2nd. Never was. Pretending otherwise is naive in the extreme. Now, it’s possible that the Supreme Court Justices he’s appointed–Goresuch and Kavenaugh–might be, but that’s purely incidental. If they are (I don’t know enough about their history to say for certain.  And even if they were before it’s not unheard of for a Justice to change once ascending to the Supreme Court) he appointed them despite that, not because of that.

So buckle up and hold your hats, folk who actually care about liberty. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Another Breakthrough in the Ice Follies.

The last couple of days the beginning of the public skate session wasn’t too busy.  This gave me an opportunity to do more technique practice.  Yesterday, I worked one of the corner circles to work on my backward skating–half swizzle pumps on the circle and backward outside and inside edges.

To explain a bit, the rink is laid out for hockey so there are five circles on the floor under and visible through the ice:


During public skate times, the skaters for the most part skate around the entire rink counter clockwise.  Kind of like the guy said about how to win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway:  “put your foot to the floor and keep turning left.”

Well, I’m not in any races here, but that’s the gist of it.   Most of the skaters tend to stay around the outside edges of the rink.  The more advanced figure skaters, doing spins and turns and what not which take them in directions different from the overall flow of traffic work in the center of the rink.

Now, when I’m doing work like backward skating or things that involve turning to the right rather than to the left (a lot of which is done using one of the circles as a guide), I could use that circle in the center, but the folk mostly working there are so much farther along than I am that I really don’t want to get in their way and be an obstacle to their work.  So…I use one of the circles toward the corners.  So long as the rink isn’t too busy and I keep an eye out for traffic–be prepared to veer out of the way of someone following the normal pattern or pause to let people pass–I can get some good work in.

That’s what I did yesterday.

First I did half swizzle pumps on the circle:

Then, backward outside and inside edges:

After a while, however, the rink started getting busier and I had to stop–just too much collision danger–so went to the left hand turn pattern along with everyone else, which is fine in and of itself since it lets me practice the basics of my one foot glide and left-handed crossovers.

Today, however, during public skate, none of the more advanced skaters were present I went ahead and grabbed the central circle.  That gave me more time to practice.  Today’s practice target was forward crossovers in the clockwise (turning right) direction.  This is not something I can generally practice during public skate so my turns in that direction were a lot weaker than my turns in the other.

What it should look like:

in the video she’s turning left (counterclockwise), and I’m pretty good with that these days.  But the other direction?  Well, there was a good bit of stumbling at first but as I kept it up, it started coming together and started approaching my left hand crossovers.  So, much progress was made.

But today in my actual class.  My instructor said “Would you like to try some backward crossovers?”

I went, “Eep.”

Okay, not really, more like a hesitant “I’ll give it a go.”

Backward crossovers look like this:

Well, mine didn’t look like that.  They were clumsy.  I kept getting sideways after the cross.  And I wobbled a lot.  But I stayed upright.  And I stayed, mostly, on the circle.  That is a major, major step forward for me.  It’s one of the big things I need to complete “Adult 5” (the penultimate level in the adult basic skating curriculum) or Basic 5.  I was mostly doing the second type described in the video, picking foot up and over.  There’s a girl who skates there–one of those more advanced skaters I mention–who does that first type of crossover, sliding the foot around in front and it’s just such a beautifully gracefully move as to bring tears to the eyes.  I, really, really would like to be able to do that but…in time maybe.

Still…progress.  And mostly now a matter of practice and keeping my weight over the front to back center of the blade so that I don’t drag the toe picks (something I still do most of the time once I pick up a foot going backward).

Rough Lately, but…


Things have been kind of rough lately.  Other posts go into some of the reasons why.  Other reasons, well, they’re not my story to tell, or not entirely anyway.  So, I’ll grab what positive news from my personal life that I can.

On that note, I note that my weight has been hovering around 200 lbs. It’s dipped below that a couple of times but not consistently…yet. OTOH, my waist is down to 31 3/4 pretty consistently. Looking in the mirror, I’m starting to see some separation of my muscles, particularly in the forearms and less so in the thighs. But the thing I note most is that I’m starting to see just a hint of separation between the sectors of the abs. It’s nowhere near anything anyone would call “washboard abs” but there’s a bit of hint of it. So the electronic “smart scale” with the app set to “Athlete mode” and giving a reading of 18% body fat is probably about right.  I seem to be in the ballpark judging by the pictures up top.

BMI is wonky.  29.7 which is at the very high end of “overweight” and just shy of “obese.” I should note that my best ever weight, when I was bicycling 1-4 hours a day, six days a week (training for competition), was about 170.  My sister on a visit back from college, asked my mother “what is he doing to himself?” apparently thinking I was bordering on anorexic.  Nevertheless, that would still have classed me as “overweight” according to BMI.

And people use that as some kind of judge of healthy weight?  I don’t think so.

Feeding the Active Writer: Chicken Curry (Sort of)

A quick (in terms of prep time) sort of chicken curry (all ingredients are “-ish”–I didn’t measure precisely):

  • 5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast.
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbs xantham gum
  • 2-3 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp red curry powder
  • 1 Tbsp turmeric
  • 1-2 tsp ground coriander
  • salt to taste

Toss all the ingredients in a slow cooker. Oh, you can cut the chicken into pieces if you want but it’s not necessary. It will fall into shreds at the end anyway. Cook on low for about eight hours. Stir.

Serve over whatever “base” you wish. I use riced cauliflower.  Top with the garnish of your choice.

Tasty. It’s a very mild curry as it stands. One can add more spices if one wants more “heat”. I probably would in the future but that’s for my taste.

Since the local Kroger sells chicken breasts in packs of about that size at a ridiculously low price it’s cheap too.