Archive for January, 2010

G-8 and his battle aces.

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Speaking of fighter aces, someone needs to do a full-blown biography of Brigadier General Robin Olds (USAF, ret.).

The first chapter of John Darrell Sherwood’s Fast Movers is a good start on one, but I think much more needs to be written about General Olds.

Two quotes from Sherwood’s book stand out for me:

Olds’ tremendous success as a combat leader stemmed from three elements in his personality; his loyalty to his men, his desire to share danger with his men, and his willingness to socialize and interact casually with his troops. Olds never asked someone else to do something that he wouldn’t do himself. He also did his utmost to shield his men from policies and orders that he considered nonsensical or downright dangerous.


Unlike many other leaders during the war, Robin Olds’ loyalty extended down to the lowest-ranking man in his outfit. Even if one were only a slick-wing captain, if one had a hot idea Olds would listen, and if one could sell him on that idea, Robin Olds would put his career on the line to see it implemented. Moreover, Olds did not come into the outfit thinking he knew everything. He was willing to learn from others. More significantly, he was willing to share danger with others. That he occasionally made mistakes is evident in this narrative. That his men forgave him when he did had everything to do with his willingness to share risk. Not once in his entire career did Robin Olds ever ask a pilot to do something that he would not do himself.

No class.

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

The University of Texas, in a cost-saving move, has announced plans to close the Cactus Cafe, and end the “informal class” program.

I’m pretty indifferent to the Cactus Cafe shutdown, not being much of a fan of live music (and thinking there’s no shortage of live music venues in Austin), but the end of the informal class program saddens me. I’ve taken probably a half-dozen of the informal classes over the years, in things like wine tasting, kendo, and photography. That program was one of the things that I thought made Austin, and the city’s relationship with UT, special. I also would have thought the program was self-supporting; apparently not.

The cuts will save about $122,000 a year, Smith said. The programs had an operating cost of about $1.3 million, he said. UT officials said the Cactus Cafe and informal classes generally draw people who are not full-time students; about 10,000 people attended informal classes last year.

In recent years, both programs have required additional money from the university’s budget, even though they were intended to be self-sufficient, said Juan Gonzalez, vice president of student affairs. “They haven’t been for a number of years,” he said.

Five down and glory.

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Obit watch: Lt. Colonel Lee A. Archer (USAF, ret.).

Lt. Colonel Archer was one of the Tuskegee Airmen, and is believed to be the only black ace.

Archer was acknowledged to have shot down four planes, and he and another pilot both claimed victory for shooting down a fifth plane. An investigation revealed Archer had inflicted the damage that destroyed the plane, said Brown, and the Air Force eventually proclaimed him an ace pilot.

(Title hattip: here.)

Edited to add 2/4/2010: See here for notes on an important correction.

For those expecting more thoughts on Salinger: here’s the LAT obit. Beyond that, I have nothing to say; I’ve never read The Catcher in the Rye, for reasons other than censorship. My parents were very proud of the fact that they never censored my reading, and it was Huck Finn, not Salinger, that became the subject of censorship battles when I was in school. I basically just missed reading Catcher when I was the right age to be caught by it; any desire I might have had to read it now has been killed by listening to Lawrence talk about it. (I’m trying to talk him into posting his thoughts on Catcher, but he hasn’t. Yet. When he does, I’ll throw up a link.)

Edited to add: Lawrence’s thoughts on Salinger are now up.


Thursday, January 28th, 2010

The NYT is reporting the death of J.D. Salinger. More on this as it develops.

Edited to add: Link here. I’m sure the paper has had this one in the can for a while.

Murder was the case.

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

And Raynella Leath has been convicted of killing her second husband.

So why do I care about a murder trial in Knoxville? Because it has some rather strange aspects; I was going to blog this NYT article on Sunday, but got distracted by shiny objects.

There was a fatal car crash, a love child, a missing will and, strangest of all, the 1992 death, officially by cattle stampede, of the Knox County prosecutor, Ed Dossett, who happened to be Ms. Dossett Leath’s first husband at the time.

Dossett’s death was ruled an “agricultural accident” by the medical examiner.

Mr. Dossett had been in the late stages of terminal cancer, and Ms. Dossett Leath told the authorities that she had helped him out to the barn to feed the cattle at his request.

The medical examiner who made that ruling

lost his medical license after being convicted of sedating and sexually molesting minors in 1995.

The current medical examiner found

Mr. Dossett’s morphine level was “so extraordinarily high it is unlikely that any human could function in an ambulatory manner or continue to live.”

Les Jones, as I recall, was covering this case for a while.

Ah, Austin.

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

More than 200 people gathered outside Austin Police Department headquarters Monday to protest what they said was heavy-handed enforcement at a gun show held Jan. 16 and 17.

I didn’t find out about this until 6:30 PM last night, or I would have gone and covered the event for my loyal readers (all three of them; and I’m counting the guy with the tapeworm twice).

Musical notes.

Monday, January 25th, 2010

The Hindu Love Gods album is now available from iTunes. I believe exactly two of my readers will find this significant.

Also, thanks to a tip from Caleb (yes, the Caleb of tactical coffee fame) on Tam’s site, I’m enjoying Kompressor’s World Domination. Especially “Kompressor Does Not Dance” and “Red Robot Theme Song”.

Obit watch.

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Pernell Roberts, star of Bonanza and Trapper John, M.D.

Interestingly, at the SDC we were discussing M*A*S*H spinoffs and Trapper John, M.D. came up. (When was the last time you thought about that show? And many people remember AfterMASH, but did you know about W*A*L*T*E*R, the bizarre failed spinoff?)

Also interestingly, Trapper John, M.D. is officially not a M*A*S*H spinoff:

Legally, the show is considered a spin-off of the original motion picture, MASH, rather than the M*A*S*H television series. This is due to a court case in which the producers of the television series sought royalty payments on the grounds that Trapper John, M.D. was a spin-off of their series. The court found, however, that the series was a spin-off of the original movie – itself an adaptation of H. Richard Hornberger’s MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors (published under the nom de plume, Richard Hooker). As a result, the series producers did not receive any royalties from Trapper John, M.D.

[Citation needed.] Seriously, if anyone knows more about the court case, I’d love to hear about it.

And I want to mention one of Pernell Roberts’ lesser works; yes, it was cheesy, and, yes, I have no taste, but I enjoyed FBI: The Unheard Music The Untold Stories.

Edited to add: NYT obit. Formal LAT obit.

Random notes: January 25, 2010.

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Our long national nightmare is over. Or just starting. US to lift 21-year ban on haggis. And just in time for Burns Night, too. (Hattip: Overlawyered.)

Philip K. Dick in Orange County. I don’t think there’s much new here for the serious Dick fan, but I do like the Tim Powers story that starts off the piece.

Covered elsewhere, but still worth linking: ESPN Ombudsman Don Ohlmeyer on the network and Mike Leach.

There’s an interesting story at the WP site about Rabbi Menachem Youlus, who specializes in rescuing Torahs lost in Europe during the Holocaust. But the Post article suggests that the stories Youlus tells may be somewhat exaggerated.

Nets watch: current winning percentage 0.070 (3-40).  That projects out to 5.74 wins for the 82 game season.

More Austin gun show notes.

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Lawrence was on me today about doing some reporting of my own on this situation; after all, the Statesman isn’t going to. (And would we really want them to, given their track record on gun issues?)

One of the reasons I haven’t done so is that Howard Nemerov is all over the story like poorly tattooed Asian MySpace dwarf slut Tia Tequila on a camera. He’s posted a followup story today. I’ll pull one key paragraph here (stuff in  [brackets] I’ve added to the quote to clarify who’s who):

According to [APD Detective T.J] Vineyard, the prior tenant, Bill Mitchell, subleased to Saxet Gun Shows. When Mitchell lost his lease, Saxet apparently approached [Andrew] Perkel [of Austin Marketplace, who subleased the space from HEB and who did the booking of events] when he took over the space previously leased by Mitchell.  Perkel, having previously rented another part of the building, said he was aware of the nuisance problem that began with Saxet and refused to lease to them.

There was another arrest at last weekend’s show, of an illegal alien attempting to purchase a firearm from an unlicensed dealer. Nemerov’s article has more details on this arrest as well.

And it looks like that arrest was the final straw for HEB and Austin Marketplace; the TGS website states they are looking for a new Austin location.

One aspect of this that should be explored is; why Austin? As far as I can tell, Saxet hasn’t had this kind of problem in San Antonio. (Saxet did move locations at the first of the year, but I’m not sure if that was just a matter of needing a larger venue; based on their websites, the San Antonio Event Center is larger than Freeman Coliseum.)

Random notes: January 21, 2010.

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Was the death of Haing S. Ngor a murder by a group of gangbangers? That’s the official theory of the case, and three men are doing time for his murder. However, there’s still speculation that his murder was actually a revenge hit by the Khmer Rouge.

I remember being angry and upset when I heard about the murder; that a man who had been through so much would be killed on the street by scumbags for a watch and locket enraged me. But there’s a natural human tendency to see patterns and conspiracies even where none are present; we use this as a tool to try and make sense of the world.  (Stingray has a wonderful post on this at the Atomic Nerds site.) As much as I’d like to believe Ngor’s death was part of a conspiracy by the Khmer Rouge, I’d need to see more evidence than what’s in the LAT article.

Very interesting. Very interesting indeed.

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

I wonder if this is why Saxet stopped doing gun shows in Austin:

Austin police said that last year, while assisting federal agents in combating the sale of guns to undocumented immigrants, they recorded a number of illegal transactions. The repeated offenses at the site — a former Sam’s Club location on North Lamar Boulevard — prompted police to refer the location to the department’s nuisance abatement unit, which works with owners to reduce the number of crimes on their properties.

Police officials said they met last week with representatives from H-E-B, which handles the lease of the property, and with Boedeker, during which they outlined recommendations for reducing crime at the site.

The suggestions included permitting only licensed gun dealers to sell firearms, providing private security to prevent parking lot gun sales and defining a process for people other than licensed dealers who want to sell a gun at the show.

Edited to add 1/21: Say Uncle was kind enough to link to this post along with posts by Howard Nemerov and Sebastian. Nemerov’s post in particular adds considerably more background than was reported in the Statesman. This statement caught my attention:

While TGS was not the promoter during last year’s investigation which led to a possible abatement proceeding

Also, this statement in Sebastian’s comments:

The “multiple arrests” that were the basis for a “nuisance” complaint were 12. Over 12 months. During which 12 gun shows were held.

(I’m aware of one arrest that got a lot of publicity at the time; a local boxer was arrested for having his girlfriend purchase a gun for him. I’ll see if I can dig out a link later. Edit: link here.)