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Massad Ayoob on Guns

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Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Massad Ayoob

LATEST FROM STEPHEN HUNTER

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

For months now since I got my early review copy, I’ve been keeping my promised silence, but now at last Stephen Hunter’s latest book “G-Man” is going to officially go on sale May 16.  I can only say – read it!

Regular readers here know I’m a huge fan of Hunter’s work.  He gets the gun stuff right.  He gets the characters right, too.  

In “G-Man,” Hunter creates a character who is a fictional composite of the great manhunters of the early ‘30s who hunts down folks from the Dillinger gang and, in the alternate universe of fiction, ends up facing Baby Face Nelson.

If you’re an NRA member, you’ve seen the current issue of American Rifleman magazine that has Hunter’s superb article on the shootout in Barrington, Illinois in which two federal agents and Nelson killed each other.  Having accessed hitherto unpublished investigative reports on that shooting, Hunter believes Nelson used a Colt Monitor – the civilian version of the BAR, the Browning Automatic Rifle – in that gun battle.  In the novel, however, Nelson is armed for that encounter with the Thompson submachine gun that most historians believed he used in that fight.  My own research, without benefit of the material Stephen accessed, had pointed more toward a .351 Winchester customized by “gunsmith to the outlaws” Hyman Lebman.

Fiction demands the proverbial willing suspension of disbelief.  Bring some of that to the book, and you’ll love it.  Based on the considerable amount that is known of the gunmen involved, Hunter brings them compellingly to life in “G-Man.”

From the reviewer’s side, I was born in 1948. Both my parents, like all of America during the Depression years, had watched the wild ride of all those early ‘30s “celebrity criminals” like Dillinger and Nelson.  I remembered reading about them in my mom’s detective magazines, which were popular in the ‘50s.  Dillinger, Bonnie & Clyde, and Nelson met their ends from police gunfire in 1934.  Those shootings were about 20 years in the past when I first learned of them as a little boy. For perspective, the FBI shootout in Dade County, Florida in 1986 is now more than 30 years in the past, yet today are still widely cited in discussions of ballistics and tactics. So, you can see I was interested before I opened Stephen Hunter’s latest book.

I can only repeat, Read it!  It’s one of the best from one of my favorite authors, and I expect you’ll enjoy it, too.

Massad Ayoob

WHAT MIGHT HAVE SPARED THE TAO OF DR. DAO

Saturday, April 15th, 2017

Unless you’ve been hiding from North Korean nukes incommunicado for the last few days, you’ve seen the viral video of Dr. David Dao being dragged stunned and bleeding off a United Airlines flight out of Chicago.  It seems that the plane was full and United needed to ferry four crew members to another upcoming flight out of Dr. Dao’s destination airport.  When the airline didn’t offer enough incentive for four volunteers to disembark and fly later, they arbitrarily picked four people to kick off the aircraft so they could take their seats. Three departed obediently. The physician did not, and physical violence ensues that will be an example of bad customer relations for all time.

In Chinese philosophy, “tao” has been defined as “a way, or code of behavior, that is in harmony with the natural order.”  Bloodying and physically removing a customer from a seat he has paid for is certainly not the natural order of things, even with us frequent fliers who have tales of airport frustration to tell.

Much dialogue (and many amusing memes) have ensued.  However, the most cogent commentary comes from one of the sharpest minds I’ve ever encountered in a lifetime spent in the criminal justice system, that of appellate lawyer Karl Erich Martell.  He recently wrote:

 My very first thought when I heard this story was about the economics of it, but also the psychology. I immediately remembered the book Freakonomics and thought, “If only the gate agents had presented their offer in terms of the number of people who would be inconvenienced should the flight crew not be able to be relocated.” Seriously, I think an appeal along these lines would have worked:

“Ladies and gentlemen: I need your help. I know that it’s very important that all of you get to your destinations on time, but I’d like for you to listen to our quandary and see if you’d consider helping. We have a flight crew that needs to get to Louisville right away or else their plane cannot go out. None of the people on their plane will get to their destination. I know your trip is important, but I’d like to ask you to please consider the possibility that there might be someone on the Louisville plane that has a trip that may be even more important. Maybe someone is traveling to see her dying mother and this is her last chance to see her alive. I can’t say. But I can tell you that we would be so, so grateful if you’d consider giving up your seat for one of these crew members so they will be able to fly that entire plane of passengers to their destination. And I wouldn’t ask you to do it for nothing: we will fly you to your destination tomorrow. We will pay for your hotel overnight and meals. And because we’d be so grateful, we’d like to give you $800 cash to thank you for your kindness in helping us, and helping that whole planeload of passengers.”
I’m telling you, a little applied psychology, and they would have had ten volunteers. Alas, I wasn’t the gate agent.

Here’s an economist’s blog posting on the subject – and his take on why it wouldn’t have made sense to offer more.

Me, I don’t think it would have hurt to do that before sending in the (police), but I think they could have easily gotten all the volunteers they wanted for $800 if they’d just asked the right way. People are empathetic and want to help.

To what Erich just said there, I can only say, “Amen.”  Ya think that might have been more in line with “a code of behavior that is in keeping with the natural order”?

Massad Ayoob

END OF AN ERA …BUT STAY TUNED

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Dave Duffy, founder and publisher of Backwoods Home magazine, has announced that the periodical will cease publishing its print version this year.  Its sister publication, Self-Reliance, will remain as a hard copy magazine.  The electronic version of Backwoods Home will continue, at least for now, online.  So will this blog, and Jackie Clay’s.  Stay tuned for further updates.  Dave’s own statement on the matter is here.

Now, Backwoods Home ain’t done yet by a long shot.  Print edition production is scheduled to run through the November-December issue, and January-February is what’s current now.  Stay tuned for further announcements.

Having been Firearms Editor for Backwoods Home for some twenty years and blogging here for almost nine, I’m going to miss leafing through those dead tree pages and absorbing lots of useful knowledge from the many contributors who’ve been there and done that.  The anthologies that grew from that have proven to be precious resources, and I believe there will be more to come.

Dave’s magazine lasted a helluva lot longer than Benjamin Franklin’s.

Massad Ayoob

REMEMBERING

Monday, January 9th, 2017

It’s January 9.  That’s a date I’m unlikely to forget.

My mother was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts on January 9, 1909.  She would have been 108 years old today.  She died at 66, two years younger than I am now, of heart failure.  She was a wonderful woman and a great mom, and we lost her far too soon.

My first grandchild was born on January 9, ten years ago today.  Happy birthday, kid! Your great-grandmother would have been hugely proud of you!

A bit later in 2017 I’ll experience the 40th anniversary of writing the Cop Talk column in American Handgunner magazine.  The late, great Col. Rex Applegate had kicked off Cop Talk in the July/August 1977 issue http://americanhandgunner.com/1977issues/AHJA77.pdf .  I was assigned the column a couple of issues later, the November/December ’77 issue which was the same one that introduced Col. Jeff Cooper as a contributing editor to the magazine http://americanhandgunner.com/1977issues/AHND77.pdf , and my first Cop Talk oddly enough was Part 2 of a Part 1 that had begun the issue before in a column then called The Combat Course  http://americanhandgunner.com/1977issues/AHSO77.pdf .

Ah, memories…

…but…

…at the same time we remember Shakespeare’s admonition “What’s past is prologue,” and Santayana’s reminder that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” we also have to keep in mind that we can’t change the past (as much as those who practice disingenuous alternate history try), but what we CAN influence is the future.

Gonna keep on trying.  For the next generation, like my granddaughter on her birthday today, and so many more.

Massad Ayoob

THEY WALK AMONG US

Saturday, January 7th, 2017

For non-tech Luddites like me, the world can be a scary place.

My sweetie, the Evil Princess, was playing one of her incessant iPhone games. You have to understand that I’m the guy who sees a computer as a typewriter with a built-in silencer, and her credo is “iPod, iPad, iPhone, therefore I am.”  Innocent child of the mid-20th century that I am, I asked her what she was playing on the iPhone that never leaves her hand.

Her reply sounded like “pokey Mongo.”

This struck me as strange, since I have dealt with some Mongos in my life and none of them struck me as slow and pokey.  In fact, most of them were quicker than they looked.  This led to discussion.

Turns out that Pokemon Go has gotten people in trouble, hurt, or even killed.  They walk around blindly following images in their iPhones to find phantasmic, hideous creatures and capture them in ways I have yet to understand, and stumble cluelessly into traffic or onto the posted property of angry homeowners who don’t like trespassers.

And THEN, she explained that they’re invisible except to her tribe of iPeople with iDevices, and surround us everywhere.  She showed me a picture of one that sneaked up on me unnoticed while I was at a magazine stand in the Midwest waiting for her to finish shopping.  Aauugghh!

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They seem to be not only impertinent, but unresponsive to verbal commands and impervious to pain compliance techniques. Here’s one she photographed in California. Turns out you can put a cigarette out on their head and they get pretty nonchalant about it.

2016-12-02-18-42-16

They’re also sneaky. Around Christmas, this one – apparently, a leader among his kind – tried to sneak up on me in Florida.  This time, however, I was ready, and was able to convince him to leave at gunpoint.

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Pikachu, meet “Glock-at-chou!”

It’s a scary world out there.  Beware!

 
 
 
 
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