Monday, June 30, 2014

Range Report 100m

Following Prof. Hale’s instructions, I started testing my ammo at 100m range.  All shots were fired from the bench using the collapsible bipod, holographic sight with 5x magnifier.

Let’s start with the weak stuff first.

MFS (Russia) Zinc-plated FMJ 55gr. $7.39/20:

MFS .223 Rem FMJ 55gr

The Brass Kings (Reloads) “Metal Piercing” FMJ 62gr. $27.95/50:

The Brass Kings 'Metal Piercing' 62gr

WPA (Russia – Wolf, I think) HP 62gr. (don’t have the price, but it was probably cheap):

WPA (Russia) .223 Rem HP 62gr

TulAmmo (Russia) FMJ 55gr. (don’t have price, but probably around $.30 per):

TulAmmo (Russia) .223 Rem FMJ 55gr

I had written previously that the Russian ammo gave solid performance for the price, but I’m not seeing it today.

CBC FMJ 62 gr.  I don’t have the price again, but I think I paid to much, maybe $.45 per:

CBC 5.56x45mm FMJ 62gr

Barnaul FMJBT 55gr. $6.95/20.  This one is missing a couple off the right side.

Barnaul .223 Rem FMJ (Boat Tail) 55gr

Brown Bear (Russia) HP 62 gr. $7.29/20 when I bought it, but it’s less now.  Also missing a couple off the right side.

Brown Bear (Russia) .223 Rem HP 62gr

The others did better.  Here’s a new one:

Silver Bear (Russia) bi-metal HP zinc-plated 62 gr. $6.95/20.

Silver Bear (Russia) .223 Rem Bimetal HP Zinc-plated 62gr

That’s not terrible, but what I really want is to find a not-too-expensive 62 grain hollow-point that shoots a consistent 4-inch group at 100m.  This might be it, but I’ll have to test it again.  This was my next-to-last test of the day, and I was getting tired.

The Brass Kings (Reloads) FMJ 55 gr. $31.95/100:

Considering the price, not too bad a plinker.

Aguila (Mexico) FMJ 55gr. $174.95/500 (pre-Newtown prices). 

Still shooting way off to the left while almost everyone else shoots to the right.  Probably failed the 4-inch test.

Colt FMJ 62 gr. zinc-plated $7.49/20:

Colt .223 Rem FMJ Zinc-plated 62gr

Inside a three-inch group!  Too bad it’s not a HP.

PMC Bronze FMJ 55 gr.  Probably paid $.35 per.

That’s not too bad for PMC Bronze.

Here’s another new one.  Hornady Match BTHP 75 gr. $17.95/20:

  Hornady Match .223 Rem BTHP 75gr

So, well inside a 3-inch group.  I’ve been looking for a match-grade HP to replace the Korean PMC Precision, which is no longer sold in the U.S.  This might be it.  That was my last test of the day, and as I said, I was getting tired.

But the day’s winner is still . . . the DRS FMJBT (Reload) 55gr. at $36.95/100:  match-grade performance at plinker prices!*

Dam, if the internet ever finds out how awesome this ammo is, it’ll bid the price past what I can afford!

Oops, wait . . .

Moving on, my perception is that I have trouble maintaining a consistent "cheek weld" through a group. Now, the alleged benefit of a holographic sight is that it is supposed to be "parallax free" -- in other words, the reticle should at distances 50m or greater consistently line up with the target regardless of what aspect the shooter has on it through the viewfinder. But I'm not sure that's really the case, at least with my $100 Sightmark.

* I've been singing the praises of DRS for a while now, but since writing this post, I opened my second 100 round bag, purchased much later. I may have to add some nuance, so don't run out and buy it just yet.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

How do you boycott free?

I have a question in the wake of the Brendan Eich business.  I’ve never installed the Firefox browser on my laptop; Internet Explorer handles my browsing needs just fine, thanks.  I have an older desktop that’s still in service, but IE bogs down so we use Google Chrome instead.  I do have Firefox installed on my work computer; I have a couple of programs that require it, and my experience is that it is modestly more robust that IE on our crappy government networks.

But my question is, how do Mozilla and Google make money on free stuff?  Google supposedly makes money on targeted advertising and on selling consumer data for marketing purposes.  But while I regularly use Google for internet shopping, I have never – not once that I can recall – clicked on an embedded Google “targeted” advertisement and bought something.

And Mozilla?  They’re not even a search engine!  The only product they make that I know about is Firefox.  I assume they have an option to track my browsing history, but the user can opt out of that (as I have done at work).

So while I’ll be happy to help punish Mozilla for gross moral turpitude, I don’t actually understand the path a dollar takes from my wallet to Mozilla.

Any explanation would be appreciated.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Whole Life MLM

Warning:  the following is for blogging purposes only.  Those looking to purchase life insurance of any kind should consult a qualified financial advisor.

In reading “the article” on MLMs I cited in my last post, I was disturbed to see one of my own life insurance companies listed among those whose sales practices and treatment of its interns show the same pattern of abuse for which MLMs have come under so much criticism.  Full disclosure:  my father-in-law was a highly successful career agent for this company.  He purchased and initially funded whole-life policies from this company for his children and later sold policies to me.  I can only assume he believes whole-heartedly in their products.

I’m disappointed to learn that this company now requires its interns to attempt to sell life insurance to their pre-existing contacts (a.k.a. “friends and family”).  As my father-in-law described it, his own internship in the early ‘60s required a lot of cold-calling, a soul-sucking enough activity at that.

My own experience is limited to that of a customer.  Based on that experience, I will offer some criticisms of this company, but before that I will offer the following qualified praise:

For a fixed monthly or yearly premium, and over a significantly long policy life, whole-life policies appear to offer tax-deferred returns significantly above most other interest-bearing savings vehicles, the cash values of which is as secure as the company itself.

Let me expand on these caveats.  Whole-life policies are, first, life insurance policies.  Like term life policies, they pay out to your beneficiaries when you die.  Unlike term policies, they accumulate what the industry calls “cash values” (and what other investments call “principal”).  In the first few years of a policy, these increases in cash values (what other investments call “returns”) are some fraction of your annual premiums (what other investments call “contributions”); in later years, they progressively exceed the annual premium.  These cash values do not count as income for tax purposes until the policy is “cashed out”; hence they are tax-deferred.  Like an equity investment, the  returns on the principal are not guaranteed (beyond some trivial level); however, unlike an equity investment, once the cash values increase, they can never go down.  Thus the “principal” is as secure as the company.

Let me give you an idea of what this looks like in practice.  To evaluate the “performance” of my whole life insurance policy, I follow what strikes me a simple formula:  subtract the annual premium from the annual increase in cash values and divide the result by the previous year’s total cash value.

For instance, I have a $100K policy started in 2000 that showed the following yearly increases for the years shown below.  These are representative; you may interpolate for the intervening years.

Year 2003 2004 2005 2007 2010 2014
Increase $1144 $1245 $1356 $1636 $1945 $2377
Premium $1295 $1295 $1295 $1295 $1295 $1295
Cash Value $1991 $3135 $4380 $7232 $12473 $20940
Return (7.5%) (1.6%) 1.4% 4.7% 5.2% 5.2%

Again, while as a matter of law, life insurance is NOT an investment, I will use the language of investment to describe it:  steep negative returns in the early years for which premiums exceed earnings, followed by uninterrupted positive returns.  As you can see, the longer the life of the policy, the more attractive it becomes as an investment; by the ten-year point, they are paying returns that are well above anything else you would get at a comparable level of risk.  For instance, fourteen years in, I have paid $18,130 in premiums; my cash value is $23,317.  Like I said, 3.75% isn’t great, except compared to any other investment with a comparable level of risk.


Now let me share the downside.

It’s not an investment.  By law, whole-life insurance policies are not investments, and are not to be marketed as investments.  This is downright weird:  for their face value, whole-life policies are an order of magnitude more expensive than term-life insurance, and wouldn’t make sense except as an investment.  But because they are not an investment, the insurance company doesn’t report their performance as actual investment companies do.  The customer is left to his own records to this out, as I have done above.

Obscurity.  Because they aren’t investments, there are some things about them that strike me as needlessly difficult to figure out.  For instance, every year, the insurance company reports the increase in my cash values (called “paid up additions” in the industry).  Some fraction of these increases are designated as “dividends”.  So, what is the difference between the “dividend” and “non-dividend” portion of my paid-up additions?  I asked this question years ago, and never did get a satisfactory response.  Indeed, the agent (who took over the servicing of my policy from my father-in-law upon his retirement) seemed not to know.  All he could do was mail me a blizzard of paperwork that didn’t really answer my question.

“It’s tax free!”  No, it’s not.  The policy owner has the option of “borrowing” from the policy up to the full amount of his cash values, and there are no taxes on loans.  But the premiums would still have to be paid, the rate of cash value increase falls, and some amount of interest on the loan has to be paid as well.  On balance, it amounts to a net negative return on the policy.  Now during the ‘90s, it was plausible to argue that you could invest your cash values in reasonably safe equities and still come out ahead.  This was pretty dumb advice then – what investor takes on more risk when he retires? – and utter nonsense today.  But it didn’t stop my father-in-law from suggesting it.

When the policy owner wants his money, he has two choices:  he can cash out the policy and take the entirety of his cash values.  The taxes on the policy are due that year.  I have been given to understand that the taxes only apply to the cash values in excess of the premiums paid, but I can’t claim to have seen this written anywhere, and don’t have any direct experience.  Alternatively, he can buy an annuity from the insurance company.  How taxes are calculated on the annuity, I have no idea.  And the annuity rates, last I looked at them, didn’t seem very good.

So that’s it, or at least as much as I think I understand.  On balance, and given my investment record since 2000, I’m pretty happy with my whole-life policies.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

SAPR Day: “Surely, Comrade! Surely You Do Not Want Jones Back!”

In my continuing series on the SAPR program, I want to share another set of slides.  These slides were not shown at the SAPR Day assembly, but were available on the network.Slide1

TRIGGER WARNING:  These slides were only intended for those people who not only drank the Cool-Aid, but licked the glass.


Well, this looks potentially constructive:

  • Discuss and explore historical factors that have provided societal support for sexual assault
  • Illustrate relationships between the social contexts of sexual assault in relation to prevalence, incidence, and other associated statistics
  • Explain the impact of trauma from a victim’s perspective
  • Distill prevalent myths with respect to sexual assault in general, and sexual assault victims and perpetrators in particular.
  • Rephrase existing offender research, how offenders operate, how offenders choose victims, characteristics of sex offenders, types of force employed by offenders, and known recidivism of offenders.

This would be an excellent time to discuss the history of the sexual revolution, the decline of the social supervision of sexual activity, the rise of the “hook-up culture”, and the psychology of the blurred lines of consent.


And . . . wait . . . what?

From the slide notes:

  • The Patriarchal Cultural Value System is an “underlying foundation” which has given men “social permission” to control women and children for centuries.
  • Patriarchy is a system of social stratification, which means that it is uses a wide array of social control policies and practices to ratify male power and to keep females subordinate to men.
  • Social patriarchy refers to a sex/gender system in which men dominate women and what is considered masculine is more highly valued than what’s considered feminine.
  • Patriarchy is a structure that gives some men power over other men, and all men power over women.
  • A look back through history helps to explain how this system has become so solidly structured.
  • In viewing 3 of our societal institutions, the family; the church; and the government it becomes clear as to how we have gotten to the place we have today when it comes to viewing women in our society.

So first of all, I’m pretty sure that patriarchy was never about “men” controlling women and children, but about husbands and fathers controlling their own wives and offspring, including adult offspring.  It’s the kind of system under which a father could say, “No, young man, you may not put your hands on my daughter,” which would seem to go a long way towards preventing the very issues we are supposedly having a problem with

Second, patriarchy was a system of laws that limited women in specific ways.  The slide’s overuse of that weasel-word “social” will be used to hide the fact that patriarchy has been well and truly dead for a long time; indeed, has been deliberately undermined by a host of new laws and government policies.

And third, what the hell does patriarchy have to do with a 20-year-old getting blind drunk at a party and waking up in the bed of someone whose name she can’t remember?


From the slide notes:

  • If we look back to Roman history we find the origin of the commonly used term “family”, it is actually derived from the Latin word “familia” which translated as meaning the total number of wives, children, and slaves belonging to one man.
  • Entitlement
  • In Roman times, under Roman Law, a man had the right to determine life or death over all in his family
  • By these terms it is clear to see that the government saw a man’s family as his property.
  • Think of the impact that such a law would have on the psyche of a man.
  • Think of the impact that such a law would have on the psyche of a woman.

What’s weird about this is that the author of these slides obviously believe that male leadership is culturally based, not driven by biology.  But in that case, the impact of Roman culture on the psyche of Romans would be limited to, you know, Romans – unless you argue that the culture was strong enough to have an evolutionary impact, in which case we’re right back to biology.  But I will note in fairness that this seems to betray a better understanding of patriarchy that the previous slide.


From the notes:

  • I’m sure many of you have heard of Confucius and many of his philosophical sayings.
  • I wonder how many of you knew that he also said that:
  • “One hundred women are not worth a single testicle!”
  • From what I know, and what I have read, Confucius had a significant impact on large number of people. Many believed what he said was gospel.
  • Now just imagine the detrimental effect had on women of the time.
  • What do you see as the possible long term effects?
  • Promotion of male prowess
  • Dehumanization
  • Entitlement

I read the Pearl S. Buck novel The Good Earth a few years back.  Women in China had it pretty rough.  Props for not just beating up on Western Civilization.


Gotta love that graphic of a very middle-American looking church on a slide a medieval Catholicism.  From the notes:

In the Middle Ages we see again see advise from the church. Between 467 BC and 1453 BC men of the cloth advised that:

•“Men should beat their wives. Wives should kiss the rod that beats them.”

Here we not only see support and encouragement for chastisement of ones wife, we also see the church implying that wives should be appreciative of it. It serves as one of the many roots of a belief that a man has a right to beat his wife.

I don’t know if this is true or what the context was, but this isn’t a lecture on domestic violence.  It’s a lecture on sexual assault.


First:  dude, didn’t you hear me?  This isn’t a lecture on domestic violence!

Second:  from the notes:

  • The English legal system followed up on this papal advise by advise by advocating chastisement of one’s wife legal. The Rule of Thumb derived from English Common Law stipulated that:
  • “A husband could use a stick no thicker than his thumb when striking his wife.”
  • We use the term “Rule of thumb” so loosely in daily conversation, perhaps we wouldn’t use it so freely if we knew its true meaning.
  •  Married women in 19th century Europe and the US were unable to sign contracts, lacked title to wages and to property (even that inherited or owned prior to marriage), had no claim to their children following separation, couldn’t vote, sit on juries, hold political office, or enter many professions or trades.
  • Entitlement
  • Male Privledge [sic]

It took me 30 seconds to find “Rule of Thumb” on Wikipedia:

It is often claimed that the term's etymological origin lies in a law that limited the maximum thickness of a stick with which it was permissible for a man to beat his wife.[6][7][2] British common law before the reign of Charles II permitted a man to give his wife "moderate correction", but no "rule of thumb" (whether called by this name or not) has ever been the law in England.[8][9] Such "moderate correction" specifically excluded beatings, allowing the husband only to confine a wife to the household.[10]

Nonetheless, belief in the existence of a "rule of thumb" law to excuse spousal abuse can be traced as far back as 1782, the year that James Gillray published his satirical cartoon Judge Thumb. The cartoon lambastes Sir Francis Buller, a British judge, for allegedly ruling that a man may legally beat his wife, provided that he used a stick no thicker than his thumb, although it is questionable whether Buller ever made such a pronouncement.[11] The Body of Liberties adopted in 1641 by the Massachusetts Bay colonists states, “Every married woman shall be free from bodily correction or stripes by her husband, unless it be in his own defense from her assault.”[12] In the United States, legal decisions in Mississippi (1824) and North Carolina (1868 and 1874) make reference to—and reject—an unnamed "old doctrine" or "ancient law" by which a man was allowed to beat his wife with a stick no wider than his thumb.[7] For example, the 1874 case State v. Oliver (North Carolina Reports, Vol. 70, Sec. 60, p. 44) states: "We assume that the old doctrine that a husband had the right to whip his wife, provided that he used a switch no larger than his thumb, is not the law in North Carolina." In 1976, feminist Del Martin used the phrase "rule of thumb" as a metaphorical reference to describe such a doctrine. She was misinterpreted by many as claiming the doctrine as a direct origin of the phrase and the connection gained currency in 1982, when the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights issued a report on wife abuse, titled "Under the Rule of Thumb".[

Again, kudos for explaining patriarchy a little bit better:  it was about actual, black-letter law, not just social customs.  But even as a metaphor, the reasoning fails.  The lore of the “rule of thumb” was intended as a limitation to prevent men from using objects much more dangerous.

Parenthetically, we see this a lot:  Christianity comes to a civilization urging, for instance, the humane treatment of slaves, and modern scholars, who never did anything for anybody, come along centuries later and assert that Christianity supported slavery because they were modest in their social reforms.  We see this applied to, say, the Old Testament command, “An eye for an eye,” failing to understand that this, too, was a limitation preventing wildly disproportionate revenge, for instance massacring an entire village because one of its men raped your sister.


I could write a separate essay on the moral implications of this case, but let me stipulate that patriarchy, too, was never free from abuse or injustice.  Indeed, it would be hard to point to any human system actually tried that ever was.  But an honest discussion of patriarchy would be recognize that putting women under the protection of their families specifically prevented the crimes we are seeing today, and that the dissolution of patriarchy is implicated in the whole problem of “sexual assault” as the Air Force is presently grappling with it.

But this isn’t an honest discussion.  Rather than admit that our society has made certain trade-offs between patriarchy and the sexual revolution, it seeks to blame the shortcomings of the latter on the long-defunct former.

We now come to the long-promised slides that explain what the “rape myths” are:





I don’t really have anything to say about all this.  Obviously, rape is a real thing, even if its definition has been expanded beyond appropriate bounds.  But you can see what the agenda is:  linking objections to that expansion with the wrong-headed notions of the past.  It’s an old Leftist trick, exemplified by, for instance, The Mismeasure of Man, in which Steven Gould tries to discredit modern psychometricians by alleging that the IQ tests of 100 years ago were poorly done.


Except that women commit domestic violence at the same rate as men.  Men only do more damage because they are stronger.


From the notes:

  • The only 2 innate biological variables that appear to be determinants of violent behavior are youth and maleness.
  • These patterns are universal across cultures, history, and social circumstances.
  • This pattern is also seen across a wide variety of species, including our closest primate “relatives”;
  • For example in all Mammalian species (including human), males are reported to be the more aggressive sex.
  • It is the positive correlation with male sex hormones or androgens, especially testosterone; and
  • The negative correlation with female sex hormones,
  • Testosterone facilitates and stimulates aggressive responses to environmental stimuli,
  • Just as estrogens and progestogens inhibit aggressive responses.
  • There is also increasing evidence that serotonin is another biological inhibitor of violent behavior.
  • Men on average have lower levels of serotonin than women do.
  • Thus, men would seem to have larger amounts of the male sex hormones that stimulate aggression, and smaller amounts of 2 classes of inhibitors of aggression.
  • While these finding suggest a biological cause of sex difference in violent behavior, we should not forget that psychological and social factors are also determinants of whether one will grow up to be violent.
  • These latter determinants may in fact be potentially more powerful than the biological ones.

The authors are straying dangerously off-message here.  The very qualities that make men violent also make them better warriors.  How they reconcile this with the goal of putting women in combat is a mystery.

But don’t women use violence?


Well, that’s a relief!  As soon as our military is sent to, um, overthrow the civilian government, perpetrate terrorism, beat up kids, oldsters, and each other, well, they’ll have an army ready to go!

From the notes:

  • Women throughout history have utilized violence in various ways.
  • Still, most battering is perpetuated by men, and most male victims of battering are being battered by their male partners.
  • 40-93% of women in prison for murder or manslaughter killed partners who physically assaulted them, most in direct relation or to protect themselves and/or a child. (Stark)

That last bullet needs some nuance.  In point of fact, any woman in prison for murder had her self-defense claim rejected by a judge, jury or both.  Because she probably murdered her “partner” while he was fast asleep and then claimed he had been violent, a claim he couldn’t rebut, being dead.


Any excuse to show that Dolce Gabbana ad!  From the notes:

If we look at how gender expectations are expressed we find traditional gender socialization, femininity is defined in relationship to men

Describe the traditional feminine woman:

  • Attractive to men;
  • Her status is determined by the status of the man who is her partner

Describe the traditional masculine man:

  • Strong, powerful;
  • Has a submissive, attractive, traditionally feminine partner

What does this socialization process say?

  • Underscores the lesser status of women; &
  • Provides an incentive for offenders to assert authority over women

In what ways/forms has wide-spread sexually coercive behavior tacitly manifest in our society?

  • Sexual harassment, sexist joking, and inappropriate touching, is not the same as sexual assault, BUT it conveys to the offender that his actions are ok

How does the sexual predator take advantage of this climate?

  • It provides a justification for his actions, in a view that everyone, to some degree or another, shares his views of his victim(s)

The final cultural platform that supports sexual violence is our collective acceptance of violence is the entertainment industry

  • Violence has been made into entertainment art
  • Some even pair sexuality and violence to the degree that experts fear that there are generations of people who have been trained to be aroused by violence

There is a mix of reasonableness and absurdity in all this.  But what I want to leave my readers with is:  in a free society, socialization and biology tend to self-reinforce each other.  The underlying dimorphism of male dominance-female submission can manifest itself in healthy, socially constructive arrangements . . . and they can also manifest themselves as in that Dolce Gabbana ad.  These manifestations will then magnify the tendency.  The authors see this amplification and assert, well, if we can only get rid of the socialization we will emerge into the sunlit uplands of perfect sexual equality.  But just as the Dictatorship of the Proletariat never quite got around to yielding to the Withering Away of the State, so these Cultural Marxists are stuck in an endless cycle of authoritarianism and failure.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Why Short-Selling?

In reference to my recent posts on the dueling MLM moguls and their diversity minions, I have a question:  how does short selling work?

I know the textbook answer:  short-selling means “borrowing” stock and selling it, hoping the price goes down so it can be re-purchased at a lower price and returned to its owner.  But . . . what does it mean to “borrow” a stock?  Or more precisely, why would anyone “lend” me their stock?  I assume the lender charges some kind of rent for his loaned stock and a fixed lease time, but is that correct?  And why would I be enthusiastic about lending stock to someone so he can “bet” on a price decrease?  Especially (as in this case) when the short-seller is politically connected, and might be able to drive the price down irrespective of the stock’s value fundamentals, during which time I can’t sell it myself because I’ve loaned it out!

And why, as a regulatory matter, do we allow short-selling in the first place.  I get that, in theory at least, speculators aid in price discovery.  But short-selling is something beyond that, and it’s not really clear how it adds value to the market.

I would be grateful to anyone who can answer these questions.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

People vs Values

Here is a scenario that raised an issue that I though deserved a post all its own:

SSgt Peter Vega-Maldonado was a highly rated NCO who served two tours in Iraq with 12 convoy missions to Baghdad. SSgt Vega-Maldonado pleaded guilty to having sex with female trainees while he was an MTI in exchange for 90 days confinement and his testimony against another MTI. He later acknowledged 10 other trainees whom he had inappropriate relationships with. He groomed trainees by giving them candy and extra time on the phone. He also had phone sex and sent risqué text messages to prior trainees.

SSgt Craig LeBlanc used his post as an instructor to conduct wrongful sexual relationships with trainees. He is serving 30 months in prison and is dishonorably discharged from the Air Force for 9 convictions of having sexual relationships with trainees, adultery and maltreatment of male trainees.

These two instructors exhibit narcissism; a sense of self importance and a pursuit of self-gratification because the culture allowed them to get away with it. What is meant by “the culture allowed them to get away with it”?

  • The rank and power that comes with rank is not challenged by trainees in that environment
  • The other MTIs who knew about their behaviors did not correct or challenge them
  • The continuum of harm (sexual harassment, sexual innuendos, etc.)was present in the environment
  • There is a sense of loyalty to peers over loyalty to values

Peers vs. values:  who is more likely to let me down?

The answer isn't obvious.  My median expectation from a random sample of the people I see every day is frankly pretty low.  But if you come to me talking about "values", my first question will be:  are they in the Bible?  My second question:  are they in the U.S. Constitution?  If the answers are "No/Don't know/Don't care," then I'll take them under consideration, but I'll be inclined towards skepticism.

As an example, let's take the "Core Value" of the Air Force:

  • Integrity First.
  • Service before Self.
  • Excellence in All We Do.

Now, as values, these are not prima facie objectionable.  It's not especially encouraging that they replaced the values implied by the phrase, "Bring Me Men"; then again, the Cold War is over, and so is the space program.  The future of air combat is a pimply-faced enlisted man with a joystick at a drone control station.  So maybe more process-oriented values are more appropriate than values of adventure and conquest.

On the other hand, there is nothing "core" about them.  They aren't even 20 years old yet.  Get back to me in another 50 years, and assuming America is still around, and assuming it still has an Air Force, and assuming these are still the Core Values, and assuming their application during that time has been non-stoopid, then I will concede the deference that is being asked for them.  Until then, I'll wait and watch.

And that's a relatively benign example.  On the other extreme, consider the value of "professionalism".  If there is any doubt that professionalism isn’t just a word used to bully people you don’t like, consider its infinite malleability in the case of tattoos and hair styles.  The armed services have in the last few months begun rigorously screening out for enlistment people with large tattoos, and they have also moved to prohibit elaborate hair styles among women, all in the name of professionalism.  But will they stick?  Since the rules against tattoos mainly affects white men, nobody cares, but the elaborate-hair-style-ban is getting Congressional pushback, since this affects black women. 

Now consider the "values" promulgated in this excerpt from another of the SAPR scenarios:

Col Scott Lockwood, the Commandant of the Air Force’s Officer Training School (OTS) at Maxwell AFB, addresses every new Officer Trainee (OT). He briefs them about vision and mission and leadership. He stresses that the nation and the Air Force’s success is dependent on leaders of moral character. Col Lockwood describes what leaders of moral character look like and how they act. He speaks about a culture of dignity and respect. He uses historical and contemporary events to clearly define this culture as he realizes that OTs come from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. He lays out clearly his expectations and the cultural and climate demands for moral character and behavior. He talks directly about behaviors on the continuum of harm that degrade and humiliate others and support offenders who harm our Airmen. The Commandant tells the trainees that they will embrace this culture and adjust to AF standards, values and ethics or they will be asked to leave.

Come off it!  These "values" are nothing more or less than the latest iteration of the effort to confer special privileges and immunities on protected classes of people, and everyone with a lick of sense knows it.  They don't actually prevent a person qua person from being treated like crap.

Indeed, as an expression of "values" the whole of SAPR Day is an exercise in bogusness.  I do not impugn the many honest commanders who justify their participation on the grounds that combatting sexual assault is a worthwhile enterprise.  But in point of fact, the problem of sexual assault -- indeed, the problem of forcible rape -- is orders of magnitude worse in America's prisons than it is in the Armed Services.  Yet because those victims are men (and indeed, probably white men suffering at the hands of blacks), the problem receives almost zero political attention.  Likewise, SAPR Day informs us that jokes about rape are awful, yet as depicted in entertainment, the threat of prison rape is routinely used by "good guy" detectives against (white male) suspects, and nobody complains.

Yet because the military victims of rape are women, and because the perpetrators can be cast as an expression of the military's "masculine" culture, only now is the issue a "crisis" meriting vast effort and resources to extinguish it.  In light of such hypocrisy, my answer is:  No.  I have no loyalty to such values beyond the reach of their enforcement.  I choose to oppose rape according to the dictates of my own conscience as guided by a transcendent moral code, not a bogus, made-up, politically expedient moral code.  By that code, even the loyalty to random stranger looks good by comparison.

Monday, June 09, 2014

SAPR Day Scenarios

In the afternoon session of SAPR Day, we broke into small groups to discuss various scenarios involving sexual assault or its attempt.

My readers are correct in their anticipation that I find much to criticize in the way these scenarios are used.  These criticisms are not an apology for sexual assault; on the contrary, and especially now that the armed services are soon to be overrun by faggotry, I agree with the principle that nobody should be handled against their will.  But not everything said and done in the name of this principle is just, fair, or right, as my commentary on these scenarios will show.

“Sexual Assault” covers behavior with significant variance of malfeasance; however, we only have one category of offense and therefore one punishment:  dishonorable discharge, plus whatever prison time is assigned.

As usual, I will be happy to produce the full program for any that want it; I have presented here

2. EXERCISE: “The Reality Walk”

[Embarrassing dramatization emphasizing the number of Air Force victims of sexual assault.]


4. Why do offenders want us to question victims and believe the myths around sexual assault?

  • They can get away with what they do
  • It allows them to hide
  • It’s easier to think that what someone did caused the crime than the “good guy” was capable of doing it (just world theory, our wingman wouldn’t do this to one of our own)

6. Those of you who do personally know a survivor, that means a lot that they can trust you with such private information. What can we do to encourage victims of sexual assault to come forward and report when they are ready?

  • Believe them
  • Know who to refer to if the person needs help
  • Never blame them no matter what the situation is
  • Respect their privacy by not gossiping

We will get to the "myths of sexual assault" in greater detail in a subsequent post. Meanwhile, given the statistics about the prevalence of not-quite-true or out-of-context accusations, "questioning victims" ought to be part of any investigation.  But since this training is given to the general population, the agenda appears to be creating an ideological culture in which women never lie, never misrepresent situations, and are never at fault in any way.  All this is in the service of “encouraging” women to report any and all infractions, no matter how trivial.

I want to tread a thin line here, because I don’t actually believe that women (or men) should be expected or required to put up with physical contact that they don’t want.  Here’s a personal example:  I got my butt patted during a soccer game 20 years ago.  I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t sexual; since the player was on the opposing team, it was probably a dominance move.  I didn’t like it, and if it had happened twice I would have made a point of telling him to stop.  If it had happened a third time, I would have liked to have the option of having a higher authority to order him to stop.  But this kind of escalation isn’t available anymore.

4. The Invisible Backpack (20 minutes)

Objective #1: Participants will appraise how daily interactions directly affect survivors of sexual assault.

Objective #2: Participants will categorize behaviors as either supportive or detrimental to encouraging victims to report.

The facilitator puts on a backpack or shoulder bag. On the floor in the front of the room put down several (10-20) sheets of crumpled up paper that will represent rocks.

STATE: In 2012 there were 3,311 victims of sexual assault in the Air Force. Assume for a second that your best friend in the AF is one of those people, but you don’t know about it, nor does your unit. Your friend is carrying a heavy backpack. They are struggling with whether to report. What are the kinds of things that are said or done that may discourage them from coming forward and getting help?

Procedure: Allow participants to brainstorm and list as many reasons as they can.

  • Jokes about rape and assault
  • Stating that victims lie or make false reports
  • Stating that victims should have…or shouldn’t have….done something
  • Not believing that sexual assault really happens
  • Degrading comments about the opposite gender always…

For everything that is said, keep track of the number and who offered the example. Then when all examples are exhausted, have each person who offered a response go get one of the crumpled up pieces of paper that represent a rock, and put it in the backpack. This represents who these comments and events add to survivor’s burden.

STATE: Each of you who gave a response, please grab a paper and put it in the back pack. The papers represent rocks. Each rock weighs down the victim. Each rock makes it harder for a victim to ask for help, to report and to heal. In 2013, 1,376 people reported their sexual assault. There are many more who have not reported. We don’t know who they are but they live and work among us and they carry a heavy invisible backpack. Things we do or say or allow to be said around us add to the weight of what they carry.

STATE: What are things that are said or done that might encourage a survivor to come forward and get help?

Procedure: Allow participants to brainstorm and list as many reasons as they can.

  • Confronting someone who jokes about rape
  • Asking if someone is okay when you notice they might need it
  • Supportive comments about victims when you hear about sexual assault stories
  • Stopping people when the gossip or judge a report of sexual assault that they were not present to witness
  • Sharing your personal commitment to sexual assault prevention
  • Confronting any type of sexual harassment in the work place

1. Do you think reporting a sexual assault makes the back pack heavier or lighter?
 Could do both depending on how it is received and how the victim is supported: if the victim is blamed, not believed or receives a lot of “rocks” then the back pack would be heavier. If the victim is supported then it may be a relief to have reported.

5. If the unit immediately jumps to the defense of the reported offender, what message does that send to the silent non-reporting victims?

  • They are already judged as lying or the trouble maker
  • Don’t come forward to report because no one will believe you

(It is important that we remember that all are innocent until proven guilty. This does not, however, state that we don’t believe and support the victim. When we are not present during an event it is important not to judge what happened. Our role is to remain as neutral as possible.)

This isn't especially consistent. We are simultaneously urged to believe and "support" the victim without reservation while suppressing the doubts of others on the grounds that they weren't there so how could they know? Support for the accused, for reasons of character, are ruled out of order.

“Innocent until proven guilty”:  that last bit is for the lawyers. At least two sex assault defendants have successfully argued that the hang-'em-high rhetoric from the president on down constitute unlawful command influence and prejudiced the legal proceedings against them. Of course, the entire point of everything up to that last paragraph is to give all prejudice to complainants.

5. The “Break Room” scenario
(45 Minutes)
Objective#1: Airmen will create intervention strategies as it relates to the scenario and practice the strategies in the session.
Objective #2: Using examples in the scenario, airmen will understand the basic differences between sexual harassment and sexual assault.

STATE: We are going to discuss some scenarios; each is a true story that happened recently in our Air Force. I would like to have a volunteer read a scenario, “Who Does This?”, out loud for us. As he/she reads I would like to ask you to raise your hand, hold it for a moment and then put it down each time some sort of intervention should have taken place.

Who Does This?

A SARC received a phone call one day from an Airman, we’ll call Airman A, who wanted to share an experience. Airman A was in the break room at work and overheard a couple other co-workers discussing their plans for the weekend. They shared an elaborate plan to spike the punch at an upcoming party they were having. They were going to have beer and hard alcohol but would label the spiked punch as the “safe option”. They then went on to discuss the intent to get the “hot chicks” smashed in order to have sex. One of them joked “like A1C Exteria over there, check out her rack” pointing to an Airman who was eating across the room. Several people in the break room laughed at that point. The two Airmen went on to challenge one another about who would be more successful in getting “lucky”.
The gut reaction of Airman A was that this was not okay. It just didn’t seem right. Airman A described looking around the room, which had Airmen of all ranks, to include a supervisor, to gage their reactions. Since no one seemed to be phased Airman A thought “maybe I’m being a prude” “maybe I’m over reacting”. Airman A chose to do nothing and thought that would be it.
A few days later Airman A heard a couple women talking about a party. One of the females was crying and talking about passing out, not knowing what happened, only drinking punch, and being sexually assaulted.
Realizing that this was the same party that the Airmen in the break room were discussing a cold chill ran down Airman A’s spine. Airman A was calling the SARC to find out what to do, what could have been done, and how he felt now.
DISCUSSION for Who Does This?
11. What would you have been comfortable doing if you were in Airman A’s position in the break room? (encourage participants to come up with many interventions)
 Could have talked to the two guys directly. “Do you guys really think that it is ok to talk to her like that?” “Would you like for someone to make that comment to your mother or daughter?” “All of these sexual assault trainings that we have received and you are still making comments like this?” “Everything that is going on in the military about sexual assault and sexual harassment and you guys think that it is ok to talk like this?” “how lame that you have to lie to get women” “hey, knock it off”

The irony here is that this list of encouraged responses omits the very response that I would be most likely to make:  you’re going to get in trouble!

Let me tell you a true story:  a few classes ahead of mine at Squadron Officer’s School at Maxwell AFB, a few captains decided to re-enact a memorable scene from the Pat Conroy novel The Lords of Discipline.  In a close competition, they decided to leave a platter of Ex-lax –laced brownies in the classroom of a rival flight.  Hilarity ensued . . . except, in the real world, drugging fellow military personnel is a criminal offense.  IIRC, these officers got away with “Article 15s” in lieu of courts martial, but that was the end of their military careers.

Confronted with this conversation, I would hasten to tell this story, with this added warning:  if whatever happens becomes the subject of an investigation, and it comes out that you spiked the punch, you will be in for a world of pain.  Save yourself the trouble.

What I like about this response is that it doesn’t come from an adversarial posture.  I don’t happen to think much of the morality of the individuals in this discussion, but I doubt that coming at them from that angle is as a constructive approach as one that puts us on the same side in keeping them out of trouble.

And the fact that this response apparently occurred to none of the authors of this discussion guide highlights for me that they don’t actually want people to just not commit sexual assault.  They’re looking for ideological submission.

6. Jack Video and offender I’s (30 minutes)

DISCUSSION: Let’s now evaluate the film about Jack the offender.

2. If Jack wouldn’t have met the female in this scenario do you think he would have stopped or would he have looked for another victim?
- Would have looked until he found a victim
- Would have repeated it on other occasions too
3. How does focusing on offender behaviors relate to sexual assault prevention?
- In order to stop sexual assault we have to stop the offender because he will keep creating victims
- It’s the offender who’s behaviors are illegal and harmful
- It is the offender’s behaviors that caused the crime, not the victims; if Jack didn’t get that victim he would have gotten another.

See my earlier commentary on the “Jack” Video.

STATE: A more accurate question when it comes to understanding offenders’ behaviors is not “why would they do that?”- they do it and continue to do it because they can- it is “why would they stop?” Offenders know what they are doing, intentionally take advantage of others and are manipulative. What in the environment sends an offender the message that they won’t be accepted, that they will be confronted, that victims will be believed and they will be held accountable? As members of the Air Force we are the people responsible for sending offenders this message.

7. Is this a leader? (30 minutes)
Objective #1: Participants will be able to identify environmental factors that allow offenders to operate.
Objective #2: Participants will appraise precursors in offender behaviors that would alert bystanders to intervene.
Objective #3: Participants will evaluate how early bystander intervention helps prevent harm to Airmen and our Air Force mission.
Is this a leader? Part 1
SSgt Luis Walker was convicted on 28 charges ranging from rape, aggravated sexual assault and sodomy along with other charges. He is serving a 20 year sentence and received a dishonorable discharge. During the investigation and trial, details revealed how he operated. Trainees and other MTIs testified that Walker often used lewd comments and was flirtatious to trainees. He often gave special attention and spent extra time with specific trainees and made sexually suggestive comments and sent inappropriate text messages. He would gain the trust of trainees and get them alone in his office or in empty buildings. He then forced kissing, touching, or penetrations. Two victims testified that they said “no” but the MTI ignored their refusals. SSgt Walker would threaten victims that he would get them kicked out if they told or that he would ruin their military career.

It was found that SSgt Walker perpetrated crimes against 10 victims. None of the victims came forward on their own. One victim told a friend, we’ll call Trainee X. Trainee X was washed back and told her new MTI that her friend was sexually assaulted by SSgt Walker. Trainee X asked the MTI not to tell anyone. The MTI did report to his supervisor who told the MTI “it’s not going forward” because it’s “not a credible report”. Three weeks later the original victim did report her sexual assault. In that three week period SSgt Walker sexually assaulted 2 more victims.


3. At trial others testified that they knew of or saw the grooming behaviors and sexual harassment that SSgt Walker continued to perpetrate. Why do you think these individuals did not report or confront him?
- Fear, rank, power
- It was common place so no one thought it was a big deal
- It was just innuendos, jokes etc. not a crime like rape, “no big deal”
- Pluralistic ignorance: They thought everyone else was okay with this so they did not want to address it

Question:  was it apparent to “these individuals” that the “grooming behaviors” (a.k.a. seduction) were non-consensual?

That question doesn’t seem to interest anyone.  MTI-student fraternization is specifically prohibited under all circumstances, but the responsibility of maintaining professional relationships falls entirely with the MTI; even if they consent, the trainee is exempt from punishment.  But the argument being put forward is that third parties somehow have an obligation to police these boundaries in the name of preventing “sexual harassment” that the alleged victim does not.

Is this a leader? Part 3
Two military training instructors were working out in a small gym. The MTI #1 told the MTI #2, “you have to get some 18 year old ass- they can’t turn us down”. The MTI #2 told a MTI #3 who went to tell a supervisor. The supervisor said “I got it” but didn’t do anything with the information. The MTI #3, knowing that the supervisor did not take the report anywhere, reported it to the squadron superintendent when they were on the golf course. The report did come out and along with other information from the investigation MTI #1 was convicted of sexual assault. MTI #3, however, who brought all this to light was ostracized by his peers for reporting.

2. Why would MTI #3 be ostracized for reporting this crime?
- A culture that supports offenders or abusing power will work to hide one of their own
- It brings shame to the career field; what happens at BMT stays at BMT

A couple of points here.  First, this would be another example where the appropriate reaction would be to confront MTI #1:  You’re gonna get in trouble talking sh!t like that.

Second, the social dynamics aren’t hard to figure out:  nobody, including people fully on board with the program of stamping out sexual assault, likes eavesdroppers who report private conversations.  MTI #1 was ultimately convicted of sexual assault; although it isn’t clear from the narrative whether “other information” included, you know, sexual assault.  (Our own facilitator admitted this as a source of ambiguity.)  Now, my personal threshold for reporting a private conversation would be a specific admission to a past crime or a credible threat to carry out a future crime.  But this kind of locker room trash-talking, while dangerously inappropriate (obviously) in the current environment, wouldn’t make the cut.

That’s not to say that I would necessarily hate MTI #3 or ostracize him.  But I’d be extra restrained around him. 

8. Positive Bystanders (15 minutes)
Objective #1: Participants will hear and share positive examples of bystander intervention.
Objective #2: Participants will appraise the benefits of Airmen being proactive bystanders.

STATE: The following are stories from our Air Force that describe how individuals used their power and leadership to help prevent a possible sexual assault.

An Airman was off base at a local bar with a couple friends. They noticed three men taking a young female who was obviously intoxicated out of the bar. The Airman decided to check it out and followed them out of the bar. He saw the men trying to get the young lady to come with them, she kept refusing. The Airman asked the 3 men what they were doing and they stated that they knew the young lady and had it covered. The Airman was quick thinking and asked the men what the lady’s name was. They stated “Jane”; the Airman looked at the lady and she shook her head “no”. The Airman told the young lady “Come with me if you want to live!” He then put her in a taxi and sent her home.

As all the young airmen rushed to avow how they, too, would rush to help any young lady in that situation, one said something very revealing:  “What’s the worst that could happen from offering to help?  That she tells you to buzz off?”

I’ve spent quite a few posts now picking at the moral and logical loose threads of the SAPR ideology.  But, emotionally speaking, this question goes to the heart of what bothers me about this program.  With the partial exception of my first assignment 23 years ago (and even then people knew not to act up in front of women), the military culture as I experienced it post-Tailhook has been remarkably free of anything that looks like sexual harassment, let alone sexual assault.  Perhaps it’s a problem in other career fields.  Perhaps I just haven’t been invited to the right parties.  Perhaps I’m just oblivious.  But the argument that sexual assault is some kind of crisis besetting the military is one completely beyond my personal observation that I can say with confidence that what ever problem it is, it isn’t my problem, or rather, it’s not a problem that I am likely to ever have to confront personally.

However, the culture of buzz off is one that I deal with every day.  Granted, it never comes to a verbal beat-down.  It never comes to a verbal exchange at all.  It’s rather passing the same women in the hallway day after day, seeing them see me, and then watching as they either study the floor in embarrassment or stare straight ahead in icy determination not to make eye contact.  And no, not all women do this; plenty are sociable enough.  But this is my median expectation of white women under 30.*

Now, on the one hand, I’m over it:  I’m a securely married guy, and I don’t put my ego on the line by initiating interactions with women I don’t already have a relationship with.  But that’s kind of my point.  I don’t send chatty emails to girls at work.  I don’t offer to “show them around base”.  I don’t talk to them unless they talk to me first.  And I don’t offer to “help” them unless they ask me. 

This isn’t much of a threat.  There is basically zero probability I’m going to be there under those circumstances, if such even exist, that might make a young woman wish they hadn’t coldly ignored all the men whose help they suddenly need.  But that only means that the government is wasting my time and energy with its endless SAPR briefings, lectures, “down-days”, and all the rest.

* Parenthetically, this is something that I’ve mainly noticed in my present work environment.  Thinking back on it, I have seldom been (how can I put this) exposed to the presence of even moderate numbers of young women as I am here.  That’s the advantage of engineering:  it’s the last all-male environment.  The only exception was teaching non-engineers as a university instructor.  But being an instructor carried a certain cachet, and perhaps being an officer instead of a civilian carried modestly more cachet as well.


Thursday, June 05, 2014

Welcome Home

According to the traffic on Drudge and Ace, a lot of former soldiers and conservative pundits, including our own Professor Hale, are upset at the recent exchange of Taliban prisoners for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who walked away from his unit's camp and fell into enemy hands in 2009. Prepare to read a contrary view.

Bowe Bergdahl was by all accounts a loner, probably an introvert. He was not without competence in discrete infantry skills -- indeed, he was something of a geek in that respect -- but he had no ability to integrate with a team. Add to that a weirdish religious and social background. Add in also his strongly-held but half-baked opinions about the actual mission of our soldiers occupying Afghanistan. (PH speculates that Bowe is homosexual, which is certainly plausible but not necessary.) The result was that he was socially ostracized ("psychologically isolated") within his unit.

Someday I will put fingers to keyboard and explain my General Theory of Introversion, but for now I will assert that introversion confers at best a modest tolerance for ostracism. In any case, Bowe broke down under the strain. Perhaps he saw himself as a T. E. Lawrence or John Dunbar, going "native" in the Hindu Kush, but he obviously had wildly naive ideas about the fate awaiting an unarmed American soldier wandering around eastern Afghanistan by himself.

The pundits are all saying that Bowe "deserted", which by the facts of the case was his intent, although the expected legal case will hinge on whether the definition of desertion covers a soldier captured by the enemy within a couple of hours of setting out. Bowe's erstwhile compatriots are now leveling more serious charges: that he defected to the Taliban, and/or that he collaborated with them in captivity. While there is almost no evidence for the first charge, there is plenty of circumstantial evidence for the second: the Taliban markedly improved their tactics against his former unit after his disappearance. But the Taliban's propaganda that Bowe taught them how to build cell phone IED detonators is patently absurd: the Taliban, if they didn't already have their own IED experts, learned these skills from Al Qaeda years before Bowe got there.

An open question is how much duress Bowe required from his captors to secure his tactical cooperation. My hunch is: not much. As I have said to anyone who will listen, leaving people to stew in their own isolation and loneliness make them susceptible to all kinds of bad behavior. Put another way, his fellow soldiers were a$$holes, earning little of Bowe's loyalty and inspiring none of it. But those howling for Bowe's prosecution should remember that in the wake of the most recent relevant precedent, Vietnam, we declined to prosecute collaborationist POWs who had far more social support available to them than Bowe did.

Obviously, much of the above is my speculation and is subject to revision as more facts emerge. But some of the commentary on this case is transparently stupid:

  • "Bergdahl served with honor and distinction." Like everything else coming out of the administration, this is self-serving nonsense. Bergdahl was weak and foolish. He might have made the Army a decent small engine repair technician, but he had no more business in combat infantry than I did.

  • "We shouldn't trade prisoners for deserters!" Wrong. We shouldn't trade prisoners for defectors. But we've always traded their prisoners for ours, including the ones we've hanged on receipt. And at war's end, the living all go home anyway.

  • "We released terrorists!" If the only way you can get yourself through the day is by calling your enemy names, knock yourself out. But if your definition of "terrorists" include duly appointed officers of a state we invaded and occupied, then the word doesn't carry the moral weight you think it does. More charitably, you may be confusing the Taliban with Al Qaeda, non-state actors striking civilian targets worldwide.

  • "The men we released will kill Americans in the future!" Only if we continue to militarily occupy their country without their consent. In which case, those are the rules of the game we're signing up to.

  • "Exchanging their terrorists for our POWs only encourages them to take more of our guys hostage!" As opposed to what? Decapitating our guys on YouTube? Forgive me for thinking that this was the preferred option.

  • "We upheld our oath. Bergdahl broke his." No. You took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and precisely ZERO of what you did in Afghanistan, and probably your entire enlistment, had anything to do with that oath. What you did is what I did, and what Bergdahl failed to do: to a first approximation, what we were told to do, Constitution be damned. That may make us braver and stronger. It doesn't make us "oath-keepers".

  • "Better men died trying to rescue him!" As opposed to dying doing . . . what? Some pointless COIN operation? Trying to rescue Bowe was the most worthwhile thing you did during your entire deployment.

  • "Obama says we shouldn't leave men behind, but he left men behind in Benghazi!" True, but irrelevant. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don't.

  • "Obama broke the law!" Yes. Obama was required by law to notify Congress before releasing Guantanamo Bay prisoners. Add it to the long list of Obama's crimes that Congress also isn't doing anything about.

  • “Obama promoted Bergdahl to staff sergeant!”  Yes.  All POWs are promoted in the zone.  When he’s court-martialed, as I fully expect, he won’t keep it.  He’ll be stripped of rank, forfeit all pay and allowances, serve whatever prison time is judged appropriate, and be dishonorably discharged.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Who Needs History?

[“El-ahrairah and Rabscuttle] stopped to speak to a group of smart young bucks and does sitting under the elder bloom.

“’We want to find Loosestrife,’ said Rabscuttle.  ‘Can you tell us where his burrow is?’

“’I never heard of him,’ answered one of the bucks.  ‘Are you sure he’s in this warren?’

“’Unless he’s dead,’ said Rabscuttle.  ‘But surely you must have heard of Captain Loosestrife?  He was an officer of the Owsla in the fighting.’

“’What fighting?’ asked another buck.

“’The fighting against King Darzin,’ replied Rabscuttle.

“’Here, do me a favor, old fellow, will you? said the buck.  ‘That fighting – I wasn’t born when it finished.’

“’But surely you know the Owsla captains who were?’ said Rabscuttle.

“’I wouldn’t be seen dead with them,’ said the buck.  ‘What, that white-whiskered old bunch?  What do we want to know about them?’

“’What they did,’ said Rabscuttle.

“’That war lark, old fellow?’ said the first buck.  ‘That’s all finished now.  That’s got nothing to do with us.’

“’If this Loosestrife fought King What’s-His-Name, that’s his business,’ said one of the does.  It’s not our business is it?’

“’It was all a very wicked thing,’ said another doe.  ‘Shameful, really.  If nobody fought in wars, there wouldn’t be any, would there?  But you can’t get old rabbits to see that.’

“’My father was in it,’ said the second buck.  ‘He gets on about it sometimes.  I always go out quick.  “They did this and then we did that” and all that caper.  Makes you curl up, honest.  Poor old geezer, you’d think he’d want to forget about it.  I reckon he makes half of it up.  And where did it get him, tell me that?’

“El-ahrairah went along the hedgerow to the wood and sat alone under a nut bush, looking out across the fields.  As the light began to fail, he suddenly realized that Lord Frith was close beside him, among the leaves.

“’Are you angry, El-ahrairah?’ asked Lord Frith.

“’No, my lord,’ replied El-ahrairah, ‘I am not angry.  But I have learned that with creatures one loves, suffering is not the only thing for which one may pity them.  A rabbit who does not know when a gift has made him safe is poorer than a slug, even though he may think otherwise himself.’”

“El-ahrairah and the Black Rabbit of Inlé,” Watership Down