Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Who needs Kevlar when you have a DoubleD?

I must share with you an article in my latest issue of SWAT magazine, written by Scott Reitz.

Apparently he received a call from a reporter regarding an incident that took place in Los Angeles where a young woman was shot through the right arm and the velocity carried the bullet into her chest. Her surgeon said, “ I saw the CT scan. The bullet fragments were millimeters from her heart and her vital organs. Had she not had the implants, she might not be alive today.”

The young reporter, Ching-Ching Ni, apparently took this to the, well I wouldn’t say the next level, but rather somewhere in a world of logic – apart.

Her questions to Scott Reitz reflected a preformed idea she apparently did not wish to let go of in the face of any fact or reason. Listen to this:

“So Mr. Reitz,” she asked, “would you say that women should get breast implants to save their lives in the event of a shooting?”

He explained the unlikely events of caliber, velocity, and aspect angle of introduction of the wound that would have to take place to make that a “yes”.

“So you’re saying it could save someone’s life?”

“Under ideal conditions, yes.”

“So would you recommend that all women get breast augmentation?”

“Yes, but not necessarily for that reason.”

“What do you mean?”

“Forget it.”

Does it matter that the breast is filled with saline solution?”

“I really don’t think most men care about that one way or another.”


“Forget it.”

“Well, would the saline solution stop a bullet?”

“It could, but the damage would be a crying shame.”

“What do you mean?”

“Forget it.”

“Do you think that this situation is more unique to L.A. than the rest of the country?”

“Well, if it’s frontal ballistic protection you’re talking about, then I guess L.A. has everyone else in the world beat, hands down, no questions asked!”

He went further to explain to the woman that if breasts implants were truly a foolproof protection against getting fatally wounded, he would get a set himself. He went on to explain to her to make the protection worthwhile one would need the implants back and front, above and below the waist….

I swear to you this is a real article in the August 2010 issue of SWAT magazine and the young woman’s article did run: “Scarred but grateful to be alive, L.A. Times, 25 February 2010.

You just have to wonder what goes on in the brains of some people…

Monday, 28 June 2010

New article on Powder Room Graffiti! I'm fairly sure this one will be controversial so please go over and add your opinion and support! Thank you.


Friday, 25 June 2010

The FRIDAY book review

A new feature here on Braveheart… I am inspired by two events: the movie Julie/Julia – which I highly recommend, where a young woman cooks her way through the Julia Child cookbook. Is there nothing Meryl Streep cannot do? And the purchase of 1001 Books YOU MUST READ BEFORE YOU DIE.

I intend to make my way through the book, commenting on each selection. Obviously there are 1001. There are 52 weeks in a year, with each having only one Friday, so the project will most likely have a span of at least two to eight years. Stay tuned…

I am a veracious reader and fortunate to be a rather fast one. I am, as was coined by a writer on Power Room Graffiti this week, “a literary whore”. I will read anything if it can hold my interest. I will be honest and tell you when I have not read an entire tome or not at all and am merely reviewing the review which I can see happening in the case of anything listed written by James Joyce. I read Ulysses and that was it for Joyce and me. I am on firmer ground with the old dead Russian writers as I think I read all of Tolstoy and Chekhov.

I am not firm on the format yet. I may well review more than one book at a time and throw in whatever I am reading on the side. I tend to read three to five books at a time, jumping from one to the other until done and then incorporating new books into my flow. I like to have one non-fiction, one murder (preferably serial, argh), one science-fiction (military over fantasy), and a really, really, good spy thriller (hard to find). I’m not much of a romance girl but I will read an occasional Sandra Brown or Christine Freehan – both consistent writers of
“whoo, hand me my fan” hot love scenes. I recommend them both if you like that sort of thing (she said ahem….)

So we shall see and let it evolve as I go shall we? Suggestions welcome!

First up: Aesop’s Fables by Aesopus
I believe we all had to work our way through this at sometime during school years eh?

“Aesop, according to legend, was a tongue-tied slave living on the Greek island of Samos, who miraculously received the power of speech, and subsequently won his freedom, only to be thrown to his death by the citizens of Delphi for insulting their oracle. (tough crowd) Aesop’s Fables is in reality a body of work from a huge variety of sources. Among the earliest recorded narratives, these stories have become embedded in the Western psyche…”

Included are the best known, “The Hare and the Tortoise”, “The Boy who cried Wolf”, “Jupiter and the Frogs”, where “the frogs ask Jupiter for a king. Not content with the king he sends them at first, an easy-going log, they ask for a more powerful ruler, only to be sent a water-snake, who kills them off one by one.” And bada bing, “careful what you wish for” enters the vernacular of the masses.

The Fables have been translated into languages around the world and many other bodies of work have evolved from the stories – The romance of Reynard the Fox, and Kafka’s The Metamorphosis would not have come to fruition without this background of literature. “There would be no Just So Stories by Kipling, and Orwell would never have written Nineteen Eighty-Four.”

When people talk about the fact there are no “new” ideas in literature, plays, or the movies – this tome comes to mind.

Lifespan: b.c.620 BCE (Greece), d. 560 BCE
First Edition: 4 BCE, compiled by rhetorician
First Published: c.1475 (L. Symoneli & other, Paris)
Original Title: Fabulae Aesopi

If you got through school without reading it, I do recommend it; or if you have children about the place, it is a great entertainer while teaching life lessons.

The adorable husband is a big reader as well, he tends more toward biographies so I shall try to include his reviews on whatever he’s reading.

On my reading table at present; after reading everything John Ringo has written by himself; I am now reading everything he has written in collaboration. He is a military science fiction writer of the first order. I have already finished all the series: Troy Rising, Paladin of Shadows, The Legacy of the Aldenata, The Last Centurion, and Ghost ( the adorable husband’s favourite as it made me randy as a goat in heat – go figure).

I have the same two words for John Ringo that I have for the military/spy fiction writer Vince Flynn – write faster. I recommend everything Flynn has written and read them in order, more fun that way. He creates a main character it is impossible not to root for and his cast of supporting characters is very strong. He lays out a believable plot line in the political climate of today’s world with just enough unbelievable heroics to leave you cheering.

I’m also reading Storm Prey by John Sandford – the king of serial killer thrillers. This one is off to a bit of a slow start, I’ll let you know.

And Gideon’s Spies by Gordon Thomas – “the secret history of the Mossad”. It is really fascinating I must say. Also in the non-fiction arena I am started on Lions of Medina by Doyle D. Glass – “The Marines of Charlie Company and their Brotherhood of Valour”. I’m just opening this one up..

On the non-fiction front I think everyone should know something about economics even if it is the most nebulous of subjects, and the best book I can recommend for the novice is The Mystery of Capital by Hernando De Soto (Published in 2000, still valid). I will tell you truthfully that I had to read through it twice, but I think I got it and it is mind blowing. I found it right after it came out in hardback, and have loaned it out and recommended it ad nauseam. Read it.

Remaining in the non-fiction vein, I recommend as well The End of Poverty by Jeffrey D. Sachs – another mind bender/opener to the economy of the world; included in this tome is what we might do to change it for the better.

Also The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman gives a look at the global economy and what that means for all of us on a daily going-about-our-lives basis.

These three can all be found in paperback now I’m sure.

Now I must give my little lecture (you just knew one was coming didn’t you?) that every thing we read, be it modern or ancient, was written by a person, in a particular political, cultural, religious, and economic atmosphere – that affects what people write about and how they write it. WE are all influenced by our upbringing, our education, and the lives we live; so as we read we inject our own opinions as well. I try to remember where the words came from and when, and keep my own mind open for new ideas. I’m just saying…

Thursday, 24 June 2010

I'm just saying...

What’s in a word?

I had begun this post some time back as the policy of vocabulary change of the current White House administration concerns me. After the fiasco with McCrystal yesterday I am pissed.

I get it. I get it. It was stupid to allow the reporter access. But it was a special ops solider, a general with more on the ground combat time than any other current serving general, who committed a stupid political move. He is not a political man, he is a solider. He is not a stupid man, he came out of the field to attend the War College and get his advanced university degrees. But he is not a political animal – obviously.

Bringing him back to Washington like a recalcitrant schoolboy did not sit right with me – you do not treat such a warrior in such a manner. Call him to task for the dumb interview, have him apologise, and let him get back to work. I realize Obama, who is falling out of favour with this voter, had to look all in-charge but if he could have put his bloody testosterone on hold and looked at the greater good he would have accepted an apology. He ended the career of a great soldier who has sacrificed much for his country and risked his life more times than I can count. “Allowing him to resign” is the bloody same as firing him.

My feeling about the crap for brains and shit for judgement reporter shall go unmentioned.

Is no one reading his or her history? Shiva! This region has been ungovernable, undefeatable (is that a word?), and unmanageable for more years going back further in time than the written word. I think the Taliban is one of the worse regimes since my guy Genghis Khan, who came through the region, but unless we colonize Afghanistan we are never going to be able to govern it nor set up a democratic government that puts the people first. This will not happen until more people in the country want it than are too afraid to die for it. Democracy cannot be imposed, it can only be won.

I said the same thing about Iraq – if we are going, throw away the pretence, colonize the place, get it in order, then stay and run it or pull out all together and leave them to it.

President Karzai – what an idiot and why are we supporting him? Karzai controls a one km area around Kabul, or rather the western forces in country control a one km area, and that’s it. That’s it. You understand that? He has no control over the rest of the country, and like all Afghanistan politicians I have ever known, he is on the take from anyone willing to pay out.

Petraeus is an army wiener, he was in charge of Iraq and look how well that went - all I have to say on that.

The White House policy on nuclear weapons and changing the vocabulary of the War on Terror….taking out “Islamic Jihad”, “Islamic extremism” and substituting less onerous terms borders on the absurd if it was not so inherently dangerous.

Calling it something different will not make it go away; it will not protect citizens of America, Israel (who I don’t see rewording anything), France, Britain, Morocco, or any other nation. Words are important, they give an issue weight. You want to change the wording on something, how about changing the wording on the “War on Drugs”? There’s a bureaucracy that has outgrown it’s purpose, and the DEA can now only exist as an entity if there is a “WAR on Drugs” – not a lot of incentive to end off eh?

Hoover began the trend with his “First War on Crime” back in the day of Dillinger, to use an issue to build a bureaucratic empire and finance it with taxpayer dollars.

Yes, I expect a great deal of disagreement with these views, so knock yourself out. I’m still pissed.


Tuesday, 22 June 2010

New Article!

On Power Room Graffiti

Please go read and comment. Thank you! Photographs of the trip tomorrow!


Monday, 14 June 2010

Trips, travails, and triumphs…

Once again the adorable husband and I tread into the wondrous land of vacation. Once again there are stories of wonder and angst.

This trip BEGAN with the angst! In the ‘isn’t that wonderful but what about ME?’ category: our lovely housekeeper Jamie had a healthy beautiful baby boy three days before we were to leave. She had assured me she had someone to fill in for her, but all week and no one showed up to clean and I began to fear for the lives of all my plants and my garden as her fill-in was scheduled to take care of my dears while we were gone. I began to come up with Plan B. That resolved nicely when I called her on Friday and she assured me that her husband would be driving her niece over to look after the plants while we are away. Whew, one down.

We departed for the airport on Saturday morning with great anticipation. I love San Francisco and I love the idea of having the adorable husband all to myself for a week. He is excited to be away from the stresses and time clock of work for a week. We arrived the airport, put in the time one must to pass security and wait… Once on the plane the adorable husband who is a window sitter; I am an aisle sitter by virtue of my legs and frequent bathroom sojourns, both to empty my bladder of the large amounts of water I try to consume on the flight, and the chance to circulate some blood through my legs! I have compromised the past year or so and sat in the middle as the adorable husband lets me lie all over him and use him like a big cushion, and he entertains me toward the end of the flight when I get antsy and ready to ‘be there!’.

On this flight, he had been chivalrous and put me in the aisle seat, which in turn landed him in the middle for as he said, “I always sleep away the flight anyway.” Well not this one! Oh we had one of those, thank the gods seldom, but nonetheless regularly occurring horrid seatmates.

In the beginning it did not appear so, as he appeared to me a nice young man, and crawled into the window seat with good grace. The moment he was seated the adorable husband turned his face to me and mouthed, “B.O.!” The young man stank of unwashed flesh and during the entire four hour flight he fidgeted in odd ways, coughed (without covering), and passed wind shears of foul smelling flatus so potent that I had to get out of my seat on several occasions and run for relief at the rear of the aircraft.

Arriving in San Francisco and being thrilled to be off the airplane we were downhearted to find the temperature was almost 90 degrees! One of the main reasons we came here was to escape Houston’s heat. And not everything is air conditioned here; it’s like the old days in London when it just never got that hot for that long…

Our next unpleasant surprise came when the adorable husband called the manager of the condominium we had rented. This is our first time trying this instead of a hotel, but it looked really great over the Internet. We had already had one bad episode when the manager charged us the rather large fee twice once he had the credit card data. He did however correct that ‘error’.

Instead of saying he would meet us at the apartment and show us about, as we expected, as he had said he would, he directed us to a petrol station in a dodgy part of town to meet him and pick up the keys, after that we were on our own.

Our one piece of luck so far, as there are truly only five taxis in all of San Francisco, is that we had lucked out with Ricardo – a lovely young man who was both helpful and efficient.

We stepped inside the apartment and the adorable husband asked me to get his computer and set up the wireless so he could find a hotel. I did go ahead and unpack, thinking like the Hotel Dieu (see Paris trip 2009) we could make it work out. He found a couple of hotels around Union Square and I suggested we go for lunch first as we were both hungry and tired, not a good time to make a decision.

We walked over to 685 Market Street (one of my favourite little squares in The City as it has Merrell, Bvlgari, Tiffany’s, Saks, etc. all in a contained area) and went to the top of Macy’s which houses the best Cheesecake Factory restaurant I know; Q and I used to eat here often when out shopping. Did I mention there is a bookstore near by?

Lunch was relaxing, delicious, and informative. When Joel queried the bartender (while waiting for our table we were lucky enough to snag two stools) about local hotel and restaurant data, he recommend the Prescott Hotel over on Post street which apparently also houses a brilliant restaurant. Loaded with data, relaxed with 18-year-old Macallan and a Moscow Mule, we made our way to the Prescott where Lydia, the adorable and informative clerk/concierge not only quoted us a price for a room or suite, but took us on a tour of the hotel before we said, “Oh my yes, give us the suite please, now.”

We returned to the mistake at 118 O’Farrell, # 315 (and yes, consider this a warning; the website is - don’t), REPACKED our bags and after tucking the key under the door and kissing our $1800.00 goodbye – we happily and with great relief, took a taxi to the Prescott where we are so very happily ensconced in our little suite.

Part II later today as we are off now to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge!

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Scratch your head over this...

20 Things You Didn't Know About... Nothing
06.05.2007 DISCOVERY Magazine
There's more there than you think.
by LeeAundra Temescu
1 There is vastly more nothing than something. Roughly 74 percent of the universe is “nothing,” or what physicists call dark energy; 22 percent is dark matter, particles we cannot see. Only 4 percent is baryonic matter, the stuff we call something.
2 And even something is mostly nothing. Atoms overwhelmingly consist of empty space. Matter’s solidity is an illusion caused by the electric fields created by subatomic particles.
3 There is more and more nothing every second. In 1998 astronomers measuring the expansion of the universe determined that dark energy is pushing apart the universe at an ever-accelerating speed. The discovery of nothing—and its ability to influence the fate of the cosmos—is considered the most important astronomical finding of the past decade.
4 But even nothing has a weight. The energy in dark matter is equivalent to a tiny mass; there is about one pound of dark energy in a cube of empty space 250,000 miles on each side.
5 In space, no one can hear you scream: Sound, a mechanical wave, cannot travel through a vacuum. Without matter to vibrate through, there is only silence.
6 So what if Kramer falls in a forest? Luckily, electromagnetic waves, including light and radio waves, need no medium to travel through, letting TV stations broadcast endless reruns of Seinfeld, the show about nothing.
7 Light can travel through a vacuum, but there is nothing to refract it. Alas for extraterrestrial romantics, stars do not twinkle in outer space.
8 Black holes are not holes or voids; they are the exact opposite of nothing, being the densest concentration of mass known in the universe.
9 “Zero” was first seen in cuneiform tablets written around 300 B.C. by Babylonians who used it as a placeholder (to distinguish 36 from 306 or 360, for example). The concept of zero in its mathematical sense was developed in India in the fifth century.
10 Any number divided by zero is . . . nothing, not even zero. The equation is mathematically impossible.
11 It is said that Abdülhamid II, sultan of the Ottoman Empire in the early 1900s, had censors expunge references to H2O from chemistry books because he was sure it stood for “Hamid the Second is nothing.”
12 Medieval art was mostly flat and two-dimensional until the 15th century, when the Florentine architect Filippo Brunelleschi conceived of the vanishing point, the place where parallel lines converge into nothingness. This allowed for the development of perspective in art.
13 Aristotle once wrote, “Nature abhors a vacuum,” and so did he. His complete rejection of vacuums and voids and his subsequent influence on centuries of learning prevented the adoption of the concept of zero in the Western world until around the 13th century, when Italian bankers found it to be extraordinarily useful in financial transactions.
14 Vacuums do not suck things. They create spaces into which the surrounding atmosphere pushes matter.
15 Creatio ex nihilo, the belief that the world was created out of nothing, is one of the most common themes in ancient myths and religions.
16 Current theories suggest that the universe was created out of a state of vacuum energy, that is, nothing.
17 But to a physicist there is no such thing as nothing. Empty space is instead filled with pairs of particles and antiparticles, called virtual particles, that quickly form and then, in accordance with the law of energy conservation, annihilate each other in about 10-25 second.
18 So Aristotle was right all along.
19 These virtual particles popping in and out of existence create energy. In fact, according to quantum mechanics, the energy contained in all the power plants and nuclear weapons in the world doesn’t equal the theoretical energy contained in the empty spaces between these words.
20 In other words, nothing could be the key to the theory of everything.