The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Truck Comparison

I have been continuing to teach my son the "Millennial anti-theft device" also known as the 5 speed.  He commented that with him shifting gears, he has to pay attention to the road.   I inwardly smiled and said "Eureka, me thinks the kid grasps the reasons."   Actually the truck being a stick was a fortuitous happenstance, and he now has the mechanics down for shifting, he just has to "do it regularly".  He is so excited to have his own truck and he knows the penalty if his grades go down.....Can you say "Big yellow Banana?, the loser cruiser"   That is the kiss of death, LOL.  

Big Height difference,

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

New arrival at Casa De Garabaldi

We got my son his truck this weekend.

 The truck is a 2002 F150.5 speed and a v6 and 4X4.  A co worker was selling it so I had no doubts on the condition and how the truck was taking care of.  It is a base truck, but everything works.

We went out today learning how to drive a stick, there are some fits and starts but he did ok.  I didn't want him on the road during rush hour so we curtailed the lessons. 

Monday, August 26, 2019

Monday Music "Wild,Wild West" By the Escape Club

I am continuing songs that I don't care for.  It was catchy but corny, but it never grew on me.  I don't dislike it like Men at work song "Its a Mistake" .  but I don't care for it.  I will change the channel when this song comes one my Sirius/XM.  A lot of people really liked it, it was very popular in the clubs in Germany when I was stationed there.

"Wild, Wild West" is a song by The Escape Club from their debut album of the same name. The single hit the charts in late 1988 and eventually reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 the week of November 12, 1988, making The Escape Club the only British artist to have a No. 1 hit in the United States while never charting in the UK.
 The lyrics, with phrases such as "I love her eyes and her wild, wild hair," "heading for the '90s, living in the wild, wild west," are augmented with gunshot, laser and blaster (a la STAR WARS) sound effects. Critics have noted that portions of the song bore a strong similarity to Elvis Costello's "Pump It Up" due to the distinct drum beat and vocal patterns during the verses.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

"How to track a person".

I learned some of this stuff in the Boy Scouts in the late 70's.  Back then the BSA was run by the veterans of WWII, Korea and Vietnam and they didn't mind passing their skills down to us.  I remembered instead of tracking a person, I was tracking a "Track". I and my NCOIC was in a "jeep",

One of these, We had the doors off because it was September 1986 and we were on maneuvers in Baveria.  Somehow our "track" wandered off, and this is before cell phones and we didn't have a radio and the track was moving and hasn't set up yet.  Well I was going through this German town and following what I believed was our "Track".  A Track was Army slang for any of the M113 Series of vehicles....There were "tanks" which were the M60's and the new M-1's and the "Tracks" were the 113 series,   I really don't know what they called the later Bradley series of APC's.  Well anyway we we were following one of these....
Well anyway whenever a tracked vehicles uses it "Laterals" or even its "Pivot steer" it locks the tracks and turns on the stopped track.  Well when it makes the turn, it picks up all the rocks and gravel that is on the road and sprays then in a pattern.  Well I started driving down this town and noticed the "pattern" and turned down that road and my NCO asked "What the hell are you doing?" and I replied "Following the Track".  He snorted "Yeah right.....". but I went through this town and drove straight and slowed down when I got to a side street and looked for the "pattern", and kept the process going for a while and finally we saw the track 45 minutes later.  I glanced at my NCO and he shrugged, but I think I impressed him with that.

     I shamelessly clipped this from "Art of Manliness"

October 13, 2016 Last updated: January 26, 2019

How to Track a Human

man tracking human footprints on river bed illustration
It’s a common trope in classic Westerns. A posse is rounded up to find some bad guys who’ve headed out into the desert to hide. To help track them down, they bring on an Indian scout. To the astonishment of the cowboys, the native guide can determine how many people are in the bad guy’s gang, how long ago they camped at a particular spot, and that one of the ruffians is injured. It almost seems like magic.
But it’s not.
The scout was simply using a set of keen, field-developed senses, and practicing good forensics.
A few years ago when I did the ITS Tactical Muster, one of my favorite classes at the event was on human tracking, taught by professional combat tracker John Hurth. In just a few short hours, John was able to show us how to know what’s going on with someone on the lam and where he or she is headed simply by looking at their footsteps or noticing a broken branch.
Why would you need to know how to track a human? You’ll probably never have to go on a manhunt for a fugitive, but it’s a handy skill to have nonetheless. Maybe your kid wanders away from your house, or you lose a buddy in a remote wilderness area. Instead of wandering frantically and aimlessly, calling their name, you can know how to search for them effectively and efficiently.
Plus, once you know how to track a human, you can reverse engineer the process as well; that is, you’ll better be able to make your own escape without leaving a trail. You know, just in case you find yourself on an island, being chased by a stalker playing “the most dangerous game.”
Below, we provide a primer on tracking humans. Keep in mind, to really learn how to do this stuff, you need to practice it and practice it for years. But with some dedication, you may eventually reach the level of tracking evinced by the crack trackers in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, of whom the protagonists repeatedly said with exasperation, “Who are those guys?”

Develop Your Situational Awareness

The most important attribute a tracker must develop is his situational awareness. Without it, clues and signs that would lead him to his target go unnoticed.
Situational awareness comes down to two things: 1) observing, and 2) correctly interpreting your observations.
Learning how to become more observant takes time and dedication. It requires changing your mindset, training your memory and senses, and daily practice in truly noticing what you see. Fortunately, we have some fantastic guides on how to do all of those things:
Once you sharpen your powers of observation, you next need to know how to correctly interpret what you see, in order to reach correct conclusions about what’s going on. To do that, you must broaden and deepen your mental models.

Broaden and Deepen Your Mental Models

Mental models are simply ways of looking at and understanding the world. These paradigms create our expectations for how the world works — helping us grasp what’s happened before, what’s happening now, and what’s likely to happen next.
For a tracker, the mental models he needs to broaden and deepen the most are the ones that will better help him find his target. These fall into two main categories: environment and psychology/habits.


The most obvious subject a tracker needs to know inside and out is the environment in which he is tracking. He needs to understand things like how snow keeps a track changes depending on whether it’s more wet or dry. He needs to know that spiders usually spin their webs late in the evening (if footprints are beneath an unbroken spider web, the tracker can assume that the target passed the point earlier in the day). He needs to know about the fauna and rocks in the area. He needs to know how the wind blows. He needs to know the usual temperature of embers a certain number of hours after a campfire has burned out.
He also needs to know how stuff ages in an environment. A skilled tracker can look at objects or signs in his surroundings and roughly gauge how long ago they were left there by his target. He knows how long it takes for paper to start to brown or a plastic bottle to become discolored after being discarded in a desert or forest. He should be able to look at a broken branch and, based on the color of the exposed wood, roughly guess when it was broken. He even knows what human feces look like 1, 2, 3 days after it was excreted by his target. Developing these mental models will come with practice and time, but one way to build them up before you need them is to make “aging stands.”
Aging Stands: The Tracker’s Experiment
aging stand for learning human tracking techniques illustration
Aging stands are described by expert combat tracker John Hurth as “science experiments” for trackers. You make a one-row grid on the ground out of branches and place different objects into its squares. Ideally, each square will be exposed partly to direct sunlight and partly to areas shaded and protected by trees. In week one, you put items that you want to test in the first square: footprints, paper, broken twigs, water bottles, and yes, even poop. You want to make sure you have duplicate samples in the shaded and unshaded part of the square.
Each day, visit your aging stand and take notes on how things have changed. How have the exposed branches changed color? Has the paper started fading? What’s happened to the poop? Have the impressions of the footprints changed over time?
The next week, move to the next square in the grid and put fresh samples of the same items in it. Compare them to the samples in the first week’s square. Take notes on differences. The next week put new samples in the third square. Compare them to the first and second week’s squares. Over time, you’ll get a rough idea of the aging progression undergone by both natural and manufactured items.
You’ll want to conduct aging stand experiments at different times of the year — spring, summer, fall, and winter — to learn how seasonal variations in humidity, temperature, and precipitation affect the aging process. It’s a laborious exercise, but it’s essential for creating the mental models you need to successfully track someone.

Human Psychology & Behavior

A tracker needs to not only know what’s going on in the environment in which he’s following a target, but what’s going on in the target’s head as well. He needs to develop mental models that deal with human behavior, and this means having a robust knowledge of human psychology and sociology. Knowing the mindset and cultural background of your target can help you know how he’ll act and lead you to where he is. The famous scout Frederick Russell Burnham had this to say about developing these kinds of mental models:
“It is imperative that a scout should know the history, tradition, religion, social customs, and superstitions of whatever country or people he is called on to work in or among. This is almost as necessary as to know the physical character of the country, its climate and products. Certain people will do certain things almost without fail. Certain other things, perfectly feasible, they will not do. There is no danger of knowing too much of the mental habits of an enemy. One should neither underestimate the enemy nor credit him with superhuman powers. Fear and courage are latent in every human being, though roused into activity by very diverse means.”
Besides general cultural and psychological mental models, you need to develop mental models for your particular target. Does he like to eat certain foods? Does he have any medical conditions? Does he smoke or bite his nails? Is he familiar with the outdoors or is he a city dweller? Does he have any particular fears or insecurities? Does he know anyone in the area?
Knowing this sort of information about your target will inform the way you conduct your search and interpret the evidence you find in the field. For example, if you know your target smokes, you’ll be on the lookout for cigarette butts. If he has diabetes, and you come across a puddle of urine that smells fruity, you’ll know you’re on the right track.

Scan and Search: Taking in Your Environment

Now that you’re working on increasing your situational awareness by becoming more observant and developing appropriate mental models (this is in fact an exercise that should never end), it’s time to start actually tracking.
When you’re out tracking, you’ll be engaging in two visual modes: scan and search.


When you scan the landscape, the goal is to get a general, big-picture overview of your surroundings. Keep an open focus. Don’t have any particular thing you’re looking for, as that will cause “target blindness” and result in your missing other pieces of evidence. Visually sweep the area for possible anomalies in your environment like tracks, litter, blood stains, etc.
Rather than scanning an area haphazardly, tracking experts David Diaz and V. L. McCann recommend dividing it horizontally into thirds:
“Imagine the territory in front of you is a two-dimensional canvas of a painted nature scene. The top boundary is the horizon; the bottom boundary is the ground in front of you. Now divide that canvas into three equal parts: the foreground, the mid-distance, and the far ground…
In order to ‘see’ everything in such a vast area, it must be scanned systematically. With a horizontal movement of your eyes, sweep the foreground from left to right, right to left, and left to right, moving your line of vision up just enough to slightly overlap the area above the last sweep.”
In this way, you methodically work your way up to the far ground and ensure that you don’t miss anything — distant or near — lying before you.


Diaz and McCann describe searching as “in-depth analysis of an area or object.” You can begin searching at any point in the scanning process once you’ve noticed an anomaly. Searching involves looking at the anomaly more closely and recording it in your mind or notebook for later analysis.
Just because you’ve searched one anomaly, doesn’t mean you should stop your scan of the area. Keep scanning and looking for more anomalies that you can more closely examine. As you continue your scan and search, take extra caution to avoid contaminating signs that you’ve uncovered. Leave litter where you found it, and don’t walk on footprints. You want to leave things in their original locations so you can put the pieces together and construct a story based on the evidence found.

Using Light for Scanning and Searching

man tracking humans using angle of sunlight to help illustration
As you scan and search, use the light available to you to better locate possible anomalies. For example, in the morning and evening, the sun casts long shadows over impressions in the ground, bringing them into sharper relief. To better see these shadows, position yourself so that the tracks you’re following are between you and the light source. This will require you to change your position in relation to the tracks. Be mindful of not contaminating them with your own prints as you do so.
Tracking at night is possible with the assistance of a light source like a flashlight. You’ll want to use a colored light like green or red to avoid disrupting your night vision. (Side note: red used to be the preferred nighttime light color, but many operators are switching to green because it allows them to see objects more clearly without reducing night vision that much.)
using night vision to track someone in the dark
When you’re searching at night, if you look directly at the object you’ve identified, you’ll likely stop seeing it. Looking directly at objects requires you to use the cone area of the retina, and that’s not very active during low-light settings. To make up for this deficiency, you’ll want to use what Diaz and McCann call “off-center vision.” Instead of looking directly at the object you’ve identified, you’ll want to look left, right, above, and below it, pausing at times to verify the properties of the object.

Know What To Look For

As you scan and search your environment, you want to be on the lookout for a few indicators that will help you track your target. Hurth suggests being on the lookout for the following visual indicators (I haven’t included all of them — check out John’s book for the complete, exhaustive list):
Ground Indicators (on the ground)
how to track a person grass disturbed in straight line illustration
  • Footprints
  • Vehicle tracks
  • Trampled grass
  • Boot and shoe scuffs
  • Turned over dead leaves
  • Disturbed grass or soil
  • Mud, soil, sand, and water transferred from footwear onto another medium
Track Traps: The Honey Pot of Ground Indicators
Hurth suggests being on the lookout for “track traps.” These are areas on the ground that do an excellent job of capturing your target’s tracks. He calls them “honey pots” because they leave so much information behind. Mud, sand, soft dirt, and snow are great examples of track traps. Bodies of water or oil spills can be track traps too. A target who steps in water or oil will likely leave footprints on the ground after stepping in the fluid.
Aerial Indicators (above your ankle)
broken spider web between two trees how to track a person illustration
  • Broken cobwebs
  • Detached or missing leaves
  • Broken branches that point in the direction of the target
  • Scratches or scuffs on trees
  • Cut or broken vegetation
  • Tall grass or vegetation pushed down into an unnatural position
  • Clothing fabric in branches
  • Hair in branches
Litter Indicators (objects discarded intentionally or unintentionally)
  • Cigarette butts
  • Candy and food wrappers
  • Spent ammo casings
  • Used medical supplies
  • Gum/tobacco
  • Clothing
Blood Indicators
blood indicators what type of wound identification illustration
Your target might be injured and consequently leaving blood stains. The color of the blood stain can tell you a lot about the injury he or she has and how long it’s been since they left the blood stain there.
  • Dark red drops of blood. Indicates a venous wound. Non-life-threatening.
  • Bright red streaks of blood. Indicates a possible arterial wound. Life-threatening.
  • Pink, frothy blood. Indicates a possible wound to the lungs.
  • Light red, foul-smelling blood. Indicates a possible wound to the stomach.
Blood changes color over time as it’s exposed to the elements. Initially, blood spots will be brighter but will eventually fade to a brown or rust color.
Bodily Discharge Indicators
Vomit, poop, pee, snot — these bodily discharges may not be pleasant to contemplate, but they can not only help lead you in the direction of your target, but also paint a picture of his current condition.
Vomit and poop can tell you what sort of food your target’s been eating. If there’s a lot of liquid, clear vomit or you see diarrhea, there’s a chance he could be dehydrated.
If you find a urine spot that has a very fragrant ammonia smell, the target is likely dehydrated. If it has a fruity smell, there’s a chance he’s diabetic.
how to track a person man's urine on the ground illustration
Man peeing
how to track a person woman's urine on the ground illustration
Woman peeing
The relation of a urine stain’s position to a set of footprints can tell you if it came from a man or a woman. If the urine stain is in front of the footprints, probably a dude. If the stain is in the middle of the footprints or near the heels, likely a lady who popped a squat to do her business.
Audio and Olfactory Indicators
As a tracker, you can’t just rely on your sight to track down your target. Sounds — heavy breathing, talking, crying, movement in brush, coughing, etc. — can provide insights as to where your target is.
Smells can also provide useful clues. The smell of smoke can lead you to a campfire where the target is currently or has been recently. If the target’s been without a shower for a couple of days, he might also be giving off some pungent body odor.
Bottom line: as you scan and search with your eyes, don’t take your nose and ears offline. They can provide useful information you’d be missing using sight alone.

Identifying and Interpreting Footprints

While you should be scanning and searching for signs and indicators like blood, trampled grass, and broken cobwebs, footprints will be one of your primary ways of following and tracking your target.
A professional tracker is so adept at tracking footprints that he can identify individuals simply with a glance at the impressions in the ground. They can also immediately tell if the person is running, carrying a load, carrying another person, or even walking backwards.
The ability to create this dossier on a target simply by looking at their footprints requires some careful observation. Here’s what to look for when identifying and interpreting footprints.

Collect Information on a Footprint Data Card

A footprint data card is your police sketch of your target’s footprint. (John has a template in his book.) You’ll draw the pattern of the sole of his footwear on the card, determine if it’s a boot, shoe, or sandal, and make measurements that include the length of the print overall, the width of its heel (and its length if it’s a boot), and the width of the ball of the foot. You’ll also note if the impression reveals any manufacturer or sizing labels and if the toe is rounded, square, or pointed. You’ll want to record the time and location you located the print and the direction of travel as well.
Hurth recommends putting a nickname on top of the footprint data card based on its salient characteristics. So if you see a “Vibram” logo in a print, you can call that print “Vibram.”
If the target is barefoot, you’ll want to note whether he has a high arch, regular arch, or is flat-footed. You’ll want to measure the width of the ball of the foot and the heel. Make notes about their toes too — missing digits? Hammer toe?

Interpreting Footprints

determining meaning in footprints when tracking humans illustration
If you look closely enough at footprints, they can tell you a lot about what your target was doing when he left them.
For example, the spacing and depth of the impressions can tell you about the target’s gait — whether he was running or walking. Impressions that are far apart from each other and deeper in the toe or the heel indicate that the target was running; impressions that are shallower and closer together indicate walking.
If the gait is shorter and the impressions are deeper, the target was likely carrying a load like a backpack. If you see a short gait and deep impressions, along with intermittent additions of another set of prints next to the target’s, you can deduce that he was carrying a person (and occasionally putting them down for breaks).
A set of impressions that have a circular indention to the side indicates that the target is using a walking cane or stick.
If one foot leaves a deeper impression than the other, it likely means the target is favoring that leg and that the other leg is injured.
So as you look at footprints, don’t just stop with the observation phase. Try to put together a story of what your target was doing, as this can help you develop a theory as to what he’s likely to do next.

Determining the Number of People in a Group by Footprints

determining number of people in a group with footprints illustration
Sometimes counting the number of people in a target group is easy because there are distinct sets of footprints that you can count. But often the footprints overlap and mix together. How do you get a count then?
One way is to use the Box Method to get an estimate. Draw a line behind one print and then measure 48-60 inches forward and draw another line. Count all full and partial prints between those two lines (round up if you end on an odd number). Divide the total print count by two, and you’ll have a rough estimate of the number of people in your target group.

Practice Reading Footprints

Reading and interpreting footprints is a skill that can be acquired through practice. A great way to do that is to create an artificial track trap out of sand and then have your friends walk through it in different ways while you’re not looking. They can run, limp on one leg, carry each other, walk and then kneel, drag a body, pretend to fight each other, etc.
After they’ve left their tracks, go to the track trap and interpret what they did by looking at the tracks. After you’ve recreated the scenario your friends acted out, use a rake to clear the track trap’s slate and have your buds walk through it again.
I did this exercise with Hurth at the ITS Tactical Muster and had a blast. It’s pretty cool to be able to determine whether a fight went on or if someone was carrying a rifle simply by looking at footprints.

Putting It All Together: Creating a Story of Your Target

Tracking requires you to be hyper observant of your environment while simultaneously orienting your observations to the mental models in your head. This back and forth observing and orienting allows you to create a story of what’s going on with your target even though you weren’t there to observe them firsthand. By creating this story about your target as you collect evidence, you’ll be in a better position to figure out where they’re headed so you can find them.
Combat Tracking Guide by John Hurth (If you get the chance, take a course from John. He’s extremely knowledgeable and a great teacher.)
Tracking Humans by David Diaz and V.L. McCann

Friday, August 23, 2019

White Nationalist...?

This post is hard for me to write,  I consider myself and my friends "Nationalist" which to me means that we have pride in being an American.  But the past few months the democrats have changed from screeching "Racism" to changing it to "White Nationalist".   I find myself wading through a myriad of emotions trying to write this post,

It seems like I and people like me are being blamed for all the sins of the world.   The are equating anyone that disagrees with them as "racist" and of that don't work, the new  double barrel shotgun in their arsenal is "White nationalist" or White Supremacist" and if they don't like you, they give you both barrels.  I will use the example given here, By a panelist on MSNBC

You don’t communicate to them, you beat them. You beat them. They are not a majority of this country — the majority of white people in this country are not a majority of the country. All the people who are not fooled by this need to come together, go to the polls, go to the protests, do whatever you have to do. You do not negotiate with these people, you destroy them.”

It is ok to talk about genocide against white people, it is politically correct and acceptable, but if it had been a white dude that said that stuff, there would have been gnashing of teeth and wailing and screaming by the gatekeepers of knowledge of the endemic racism of white people but since it is a POC saying that stuff, it is perfectly acceptable.  This guy is basically saying that if you disagree with the liberal left, you need to be wiped out and destroyed.  Funny how genocide against an group of people is perfectly acceptable in political discourse and nobody calls him on it because he is of the "protected class" of liberal intersectional politics.

   I do not agree with the Jew in the background manipulating the scene, that is straight up Aryan nations crap,  but the rest of the cartoon is what I see as my perception.

     I believe that the "old fashioned " values that made America great are being attacked all across the board, they are trying to break our spirits, break our belief in our country and in God.   We are the representatives of Western Civilization, where the individual is prized.  In other societies, it is what family or what tribe you belong to, Life is cheap.   I see us regular people being pushed into the "White nationalist" camp and I don't like this.   I am a student of history and I see bad things coming down the pike.  When a group get demonized to such a extent, then "The People" cry out for the government to punish them for the past sins.  The same things happened to the Jews in Europe with the pograms and this culminated with the final solution.  Also this is what Lenin and later Stalin did to the Kulaks and this is what I see for us.
     The buzzword is "White Nationalist", now., they flat out ran the word"Racist" into the ground and buried it. The left had to come up with a new word and they have, I wonder what the next word is.

      Again why is this going one? besides to punish us because we bitter clingers and deplorables voted for Trump, was he the optimum candidate? hell no...but he was a hell of a lot better off then the alternative known as Felonia Von Pantsuit.  The endgame is to break the middle class, a huge chunk of the "Middle class is white.   The people that believe that they are "Our betters" due to education, family connections, and flat out beliefs think that they are fit to rule over us like the nobles of old, and we the middle class or what was known as the "Mercantile Class" are the checks and balance against the will of the nobles or "Our betters".  The "Cloud People" wants 2 classes of people, them and the "Dirt people", and the dirt people are the poor, the ones that get their sustenance from the state and will do what they are told because they know their place in the great scheme.  To break us, they gotta take our guns, and they will use emotions to push through controls after controls that don't tackle the root cause of violence in America but will be used to strip the means of protection that we the middle class use against tyranny of the state and the occasional wolf that tries to grab one of us.  Once we are stripped of our means of defense, then many people will agree to all the restrictions on us by the state "For your protection". mind you.

     Once they have stripped us of our firearms, then it will be easier to strip us of our wealth and once they have stripped us of our wealth, then we can be herded into camps to to be reeducated and atone for the past sins of our race by working us to death.   Think Pol Pot and the Khymer Rouge but on a bigger scale. Stalin emptied entire villages in the Ukraine and either had them killed off or sent to the camps where most died.  But it is just the excuse, the real goal is to seize all of our wealth and break our political power so the people in charge can rule by imperial fiat.
     This is what I see coming and I am not sure how to stop it.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

The Standoff at Ruby Ridge

I remembered this going on after I returned from Desert Storm.  Before this I was very supportive of the "Alphabet agencies" but the incidents at Ruby ridge dismayed me, then Waco really pissed me and a bunch of other people off.  Ruby Ridge in my opinion was basically a "dick" measuring contest and it got worse after Bill Clinton became President.  Bill and Janet Reno wanted to use WACO to make examples of people that they didn't like for ideological reasons.  This all started in Ruby Ridge and the lawlessness and cancer spread due to the political appointments by Bill Clinton and yes I blamed Hillary back then, the phrase was "Co president".  Hillary was very active and I believe that she told Reno what to do, Bill was too laid back to get stupid like that and I am sure that the administration wanted to make an examples of the Branch Dividians.  Gotta put those people in their place you know...

I met Randy Weaver at a gun show at the farmers market in the late 1990's.  I only talked for him for a minute but I did buy a sticker.  I should have bought more but back then I didn't. 
   The article was supposed to post earlier than it did, but I got the time wrong in the scheduler thingie.

 I got this article from ammo.com

The Siege at Ruby Ridge is often considered a pivotal date in American history. The shootout between Randy Weaver and his family and federal agents on August 21, 1992, is one that kicked off the Constitutional Militia Movement and left America with a deep distrust of its leadership – in particular then-President George H.W. Bush and eventual President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno.
The short version is this: Randy Weaver and his wife Vicki moved with their four kids to the Idaho Panhandle, near the Canadian border, to escape what they thought was an increasingly corrupt world. The Weavers held racial separatist beliefs, but were not involved in any violent activity or rhetoric. They were peaceful Christians who simply wanted to be left alone.
Specifically for his beliefs, Randy Weaver was targeted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) in an entrapping “sting” operation designed to gain his cooperation as a snitch. When he refused to become a federal informant, he was charged with illegally selling firearms. Due to a miscommunication about his court date, the Marshal Service was brought in, who laid siege to his house and shot and killed his wife and 14-year-old son.
Randy Weaver was, in many ways, a typical American story. He grew up in an Iowa farming community. He got decent grades in high school and played football. His family attended church regularly. He dropped out of community college and joined the United States Army in 1970. After three years of service, he was honorably discharged.
One month later he married Victoria Jordison. He then enrolled in the University of Northern Iowa, studying criminal justice with an eye toward becoming an FBI Agent. However, he dropped out because the tuition was too expensive. He ended up working in a John Deere plant while his wife worked as a secretary before becoming a homemaker.
Both of the Weavers increasingly became apocalyptic in their view of the world. This, combined with an increasing emphasis on Old Testament-based Christianity, led them to seek a life away from mainstream America, a life of self-reliance. Vicki, in particular, had strong visions of her family surviving the apocalypse through life far away from what they viewed as a corrupt world. To that end, Randy purchased a 20-acre farm in Ruby Ridge, ID, and built a cabin there.
The land was purchased for $5,000 in cash and the trade of the truck they used to move there. Vicki homeschooled the children.

The Weavers Move to Ruby Ridge

After moving to Ruby Ridge, Weaver became acquainted with members of the Aryan Nations in nearby Hayden Lake. He even attended some rallies. The FBI believed his involvement in the church was much deeper than it actually was – they thought he was a regular congregant of the Aryan Nations and had attended the Aryan Nations World Congress.
Both Randy and Vicki were interviewed by the FBI in 1985, with Randy denying membership in the group, citing profound theological differences. Indeed, the Weavers (who had some points of agreement with the Aryan Nations, primarily about the importance of the Old Testament) mostly saw their affiliation with the Aryan Nations as a social outlet. Living off-grid, the nearby members of the Aryan Nations were neighbors in remote northern Idaho.
Later, in 1986, Randy was approached at a rally by undercover ATF informant Kenneth Faderley, who used a biker alter ego of Gus Magisono and was currently monitoring and investigating Weaver’s friend Frank Kumnick. Faderley introduced himself as an illegal firearms dealer from New Jersey. Randy later encountered Faderley at the World Congress of 1987. He skipped the next year’s Congress to run for county sheriff, an election that he lost.
The ATF claims that in 1989, Faderley purchased two illegally shortened shotguns from Randy Weaver. However, Weaver disputes this, saying that the shotguns he sold Faderley were entirely legal and were shortened after the fact. The notes from the case show that Faderley purchased the guns and showed Weaver where to shorten them, which would constitute illegal entrapment. What’s more, the government preyed on the destitute nature of the Weavers, who lived in a small cabin in the woods with no electricity or running water.
The real purpose of the investigation was not to grab Weaver, but to use him to infiltrate a group in Montana being organized by Charles Howarth. In November 1989, Weaver refused to introduce Faderley to Howarth, and Faderley was ordered by his handlers to have no further contact with Weaver.

Randy Weaver Refuses to Turn Snitch

In June 1990, Faderley’s cover was blown. It was then that the ATF reached out to Weaver, stating that they had evidence he was dealing illegal firearms. They told him they would drop all charges if he would agree to become their new informant regarding the investigation of the Aryan Nations groups in the area. Weaver refused.
To coerce him into changing his mind, the Feds staged a stunt where a broken down couple were at the side of the road. Weaver stopped to help them and was handcuffed, thrown face down in the snow and arrested. He had to post his home as bond. Still he refused to become a federal informant.
The irony of the federal government’s desire to obtain informants within the Aryan Nations is that different branches of federal law enforcement and intelligence gathering occupied five of the six key positions in the organization. This means that the Aryan Nations were effectively a government-run shop, with agents spying on each other to ensure the integrity of an investigation – into an organization almost entirely run by the federal government.
The government had an obsession with the Aryan Nations due to Robert Jay Matthews, who was a member of The Order, a terrorist organization including members of the Aryan Nations. The FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team burned Matthews alive inside his own home.
Due to his ongoing refusal to snitch, Weaver was then arrested in January 1991, on illegal firearms sales charges. These charges stemmed from Weaver’s earlier “sale” of two shortened shotguns to Faderley, the undercover ATF agent – a sale which the feds later admitted constituted illegal entrapment.
Weaver’s court date was set for February 19, 1991, then changed to the next day. Weaver, however, received notice that his court date was not until March 20. He missed his February court appearance and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. The United States Marshals Service wanted to allow Weaver the chance to appear for what he thought was his court date, however, the United States Attorney’s Office sought a grand jury indictment on March 14th – six days before his notice said he was due in court.
Already skeptical of the Feds after their repeated strongarm tactics, both Randy and Vicki saw this as further evidence that Weaver would not receive a fair trial. They increasingly isolated themselves on their Ruby Ridge farm, vowing to fight rather than surrender peacefully.
During the standoff, a voluntary surrender date was negotiated with the Marshals Service for October 1991, but the United States Attorney’s Office refused the settlement. The Deputy Director of the Special Operations Group of the Marshals Service, using evidence obtained through surveillance, believed that the best course of action was to drop the indictment, issue a new one under seal, and use undercover agents to arrest Weaver, who presumably would have dropped his guard. This recommendation was again rejected.

Shooting the Weavers’ Dog: The Siege of Ruby Ridge Begins

On August 21, 1992, six heavily armed, camouflaged U.S. Marshals went to the Weaver property with the purpose of reconnaissance. The Weavers’ dogs gave away the position of the Marshals, alerting their 14-year-old son Sammy and a 24-year-old friend of the family named Kevin Harris, who investigated what the dogs were barking at while armed.
Unsurprisingly, there are several accounts of how the shooting began.
The Weavers claim that the camouflaged Marshals fired first and refused to identify themselves. The Marshals claim that when they rose to identify themselves, they were fired on by Sammy Weaver and Kevin Harris. In yet another version of events, Marshals shot the Weavers’ dog Striker as he exposed their position and were fired upon by Sammy in retaliation.
Once the shooting began, Randy Weaver’s son, Sammy, was shot in the back by Marshals immediately after yelling, “I’m coming, dad!” as he ran back to the house. That is to say, he was fleeing the scene, not regrouping for another attack.
After this initial exchange, the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team – sometimes disparagingly called the “Hostage Roasting Team,” due to their proclivity to burn down buildings – was called in to assess the situation.
Sniper and observer teams were deployed by the Hostage Rescue Team. A sniper aimed for an instant kill shot on Randy, but Randy moved at the last minute and the shot entered his shoulder, exiting through his armpit. He then fled back to the house from the shed where he had been viewing the body of his dead son.
A second shot missed Kevin Harris and hit Vicki in the head, who was holding their 10-month-old daughter at the time in her arms, a powerful image often invoked in the telling of the story. This same second shot hit Harris after exiting Vicki. An internal investigation found that the second shot was out of policy and that the failure to request surrender was “inexcusable.”
FBI Sniper Lon Horiuchi fired through a door without seeing who was on the other side of it – at people who were fleeing and posed no threat. He was later charged with manslaughter in these deaths, but the charges were dropped. Horiuchi was also involved in the Waco siege, and Timothy McVeigh printed up cards for gun shows encouraging people to target him. Indeed, McVeigh considered targeting Horiuchi and his family rather than the federal building. In 1995, he pleaded the Fifth when questioned about the matter by the United States Senate. His whereabouts are currently unknown.
The rules of engagement were changed on the fly to effectively encourage shooting anyone on sight. This included the remaining Weaver children, who were known to carry weapons 81 percent of the time. Once the siege began, none of the Weavers fired a shot.
The standoff lasted ten days, and involved between 350 and 400 agents who cruelly named their camp, “Camp Vicki.” They would routinely call out “Vicki, we have blueberry pancakes,” but claimed to not know that she was dead. Supporters of the Weavers and opponents of the ATF and FBI formed a vigil.
Weaver’s commanding officer from Vietnam, James “Bo” Gritz (who was currently running for President on the Populist Party ticket) acted as a mediator between the family and government agents. Radio broadcaster Paul Harvey intervened, offering to pay for a robust defense for Weaver if he surrendered. This was what led Weaver to abandon the standoff and surrender himself to federal authorities.

The Aftermath of the Federal Siege at Ruby Ridge

Weaver was charged with ten counts, including the original charges, of illegal firearms sales. His attorney, Gerry Spence, successfully defended Weaver against a host of charges, including murder, by using a self-defense argument. Weaver was ultimately only convicted of the charge of failure to appear, for which he was sentenced to 18 months in prison and a fine of $10,000. He was credited with time served plus three months. Kevin Harris was acquitted of all charges. These were the longest deliberations in Idaho criminal history.
Weaver sued the federal government, which avoided a civil trial by awarding damages of $1,000,000 each to the three surviving Weaver children and $100,000 to Randy. Harris eventually received a settlement of $380,000 after several years of appeals against a government who claimed they would never issue any payment to someone who had killed a federal marshal.
It is worth noting that the federal government took active steps to cover their tracks after the Siege of Ruby Ridge. The chief of the bureau's Violent Crimes and Major Offenders Section pled guilty to attempting to destroy all copies of the FBI’s internal report on the siege. Federal Judge Edward Lodge penned a lengthy list of misdeeds, including fabrication of evidence and refusing to comply with court orders.
Deval Patrick, then-Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights and later Governor of Massachusetts, later found that federal agents had not used excessive force.
One of the biggest changes after the Siege of Ruby Ridge was a change in the rules of engagement. In October 1995, the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Government Information ordered all federal agencies to standardize their rules of engagement, particularly as pertained to deadly force. Randy and his daughter Sara wrote a book about the events in 1998 entitled The Federal Siege at Ruby Ridge. The family now live in Kalispell, Montana. Sara became a Born Again Christian in 2012, and forgave the federal agents.
There was, predictably, very little meaningful blowback on the United States Marshals Service or any other parts of the federal government. The Ruby Ridge Task Force delivered a highly redacted 542-page report. And the six marshals involved in the initial shootout were given the highest commendations awarded by the United States Marshal Service.
In 1997, the Justice Department declined to prosecute senior FBI officials for covering up the details of the case. Two FBI agents were prosecuted, one served 18 months in prison for destruction of evidence and the other had the charges dismissed. The second-in-command of the FBI was demoted and three other agents were suspended.
In 1996, Weaver offered his services to defuse tensions between the FBI and the Montana Freeman, however, this offer was declined. In 2000, Weaver visited the former site of the Branch Davidian Church that had been destroyed in another high-profile siege. He later offered support to Edward and Elaine Brown, who were resisting federal taxes at the time.

How It Could Have Gone: John Joe Gray

While it might be easy to take the cynical route and say that Ruby Ridge changed nothing (particularly in the wake of the Waco Siege, which took place a mere year after the Siege of Ruby Ridge), we have at least one example of the federal government admitting that it tread lightly to avoid another Ruby Ridge-like situation.
John Joe Gray is a sovereign citizen living on a 50-acre wooded ranch in Trinidad, Texas. During a traffic stop, he became involved in an altercation with Texas Trooper Jim Cleland. Cleland reached for a .357 in Gray’s car. His car was filled with anti-government literature, including pamphlets referencing bombing a bridge. After the altercation with the Trooper, he was charged with two felonies: taking a police officer’s weapon and assault on a public servant.
Gray promised to have no weapons while he was awaiting trial and posted bond. After the fact, a judge declared that his bond was insufficient. He then ordered Gray arrested. Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt stated that "This kook is not worth it. Ten of him is not worth going up there and getting one of my young deputies killed."
So how long did local, state and federal authorities allow Gray to hole up on his ranch without any kind of armed confrontation? Just a few days shy of 15 years, in what was the longest law enforcement standoff in American history.
The charges were eventually dropped, under the premise that Gray had essentially served a 15-year house arrest term and that a militant confrontation in the style of Ruby Ridge didn’t benefit anyone.
While Randy Weaver’s stand might have made the Feds think twice about coming in guns blazing the next time they can’t strongarm someone – with an eccentric lifestyle and unusual beliefs – into turning informant, this is likely cold comfort for Weaver who lost his 14-year-old son and wife.
This is why those in the freedom, patriot, Constitutional, survival and Second Amendment movements remember this day. It is a chilling reminder of the predatory and aggressive nature of federal law enforcement.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The Fastest class of ship by class in WWII

I shamelessly clipped this from "The Navy General Board".  Only ship they really missed was the Submarine, and I will do some research on that one.   Yep found it, There were 2 of them actually, one was Japanese, the Type I-201 and the German XVII.  The Japanese sub started construction but was never completed.  It was projected to be phenomenally fast, but the class was never commissioned, whereas the German submarine was commissioned and entered service, but there were only 3 of them that were commissioned and one became HMS Meteorite.  the others were scuttled after the war by their crews.


 The Type XVII U-boats were small coastal submarines that used a high-test peroxide propulsion system, which offered a combination of air-independent propulsion and high submerged speeds.

In the early 1930s Hellmuth Walter had designed a small, high-speed submarine with a streamlined form propelled by high-test peroxide (HTP) and in 1939 he was awarded a contract to build an experimental vessel, the 80 ton V-80, which achieved an underwater speed of 28.1 knots (52.0 km/h; 32.3 mph) during trials in 1940. In November 1940 Admirals Erich Raeder and Werner Fuchs (head of the Kriegsmarine's Construction Office) witnessed a demonstration of the V-80; Raeder was impressed, but Fuchs was slow to approve further tests.
Following the success of the V-80's trials, Walter contacted Karl Dönitz in January 1942, who enthusiastically embraced the idea and requested that these submarines be developed as quickly as possible. An initial order was placed in summer 1942 for four Type XVIIA development submarines.

Do you have the need for speed? The warships in this article certainly do! We have previously done articles about the largest cruisers and the biggest battleships. For this article we are breaking the fastest warships of World War 2 based on class. We will examine the fastest destroyer, cruiser, battleship, and aircraft carrier used during the Second World War. Some ships are relatively well known, but a few of our winners are largely unknown warships to the public at large. However, they all have one thing in common and that is that they are all exceedingly fast.

Fastest Destroyer – Le Fatasque Class

fastest warships of world war 2
The fastest destroyers of World War II actually entered service during the mid 1930s. These destroyers were the Le Fantasque class of France. The Le Fantasque class were designed to operate with France’s high speed battleship and cruiser forces. To perform in this role, the Le Fantasque class needed to equip powerful engines in a large hull for the nessacary speed and seaworthiness.
Six ships of this class were built, consisting of the ships Le Fantasque, Le Malin, Le Terrible, L’Indomptable, L’Audacieux, and Le Triopmhant. Though the ships were large, exceeding 430′ (132m) in length, they carried a correspondingly large powerplant. The destroyers could produce up to 81,000shp, enough to propel the ships to speeds of 45 knots. This not only made them the fastest destroyers of World War II, but the fastest destroyers of all time!
At the start of World War II, the six ships of the Le Fantasque class were all assigned to France’s powerful Force De Raid squadron. Following the German conquest of France, the sisters then joined the Vichy French fleet. Two of the ships, L’Indomptable and L’Audacieux, were lost. (L’Indomptable at Toulon in Nov 1942 and L’Audacieux at Bizerte in May 1943). The surviving four ships joined the Allies and were sent to the United States for refit. Under the Allies, the Le Fantasque class were reclassified as cruisers. They were also equipped with so much new weaponry and equipment that their famous speed was dropped to 37 knots. This made them slower than other destroyers (Tashkent, Shimakaze), however none of those ships could approach their original speed. The remaining ships surviving World War II and survived into the late 1950s, early 1960s.

Fastest Cruiser – Capitani Romani Class

fastest warships of world war 2
The Le Fantasque class destroyers were amazingly fast ships and for that reason, they worried France’s rivals. Italy’s solution? To develop the fastest cruiser to counter the fastest destroyer. These ships, the Capitani Romani class, were designed to outrun and outgun the powerful French destroyers. To do this, they carried a light cruisers armament and powerplant and crammed them into an oversized destroyer hull.
Though twelve of these ships were envisioned by Italy, only four would be completed. Of those ships, only three (Scipione Africano, Attilio Regolo, and Pompeo Magno) managed to be completed before the Italian Armistice. At only 466′ overall and displacing less than 5,500 tons, the ships were small for cruisers. However, with their powerful 125,000 shp engines the Capitani Romani class could exceed 40 knots. During trials, the ships exceeded 43 knots though at combat displacement they could only manage about 40-41 knots at combat loads.
The Capitani Romani class did not see much combat during World War II. Of the three ships, only Scipione Africano saw combat. On the night of July 17, 1943, she ambushed a small squadron of British MTB (Motor Torpedo Boat). Using radar, Scipione Africano detected the British ships and immediately accelerated. Using her high speed, she managed to catch the MTBS by surprise. With rapid, accurate fire, she sank one and damaged another. She rapidly cleared the area before the remaining British ships could mount a counter-attack. After the War, the Capitani Romani class saw more use. Two of the ships were ceded to France where they were refitted and served until the 1970s. The other two ships continued to serve in the Italian Navy, one making it until the 1980s.

Fastest Carrier – Shokaku Class

fastest warships of world war 2
During the mid 1930s, Japan removed itself from the Washington Naval Treaty. Freed from the treaties’ limitations, Japan sought to produce a new purpose built aircraft carrier that would combine all the best features of previous designs. Ordered in 1937, this new design would become known as the Shokaku class. Entering service in 1941, the Shokaku class might have been the best aircraft carrier design in the World at the time.
Two ships of the class entered service, Shokaku and Zuikaku. Capable of operating up to 84 aircraft, the ships were large with a length of 844′ and a displacement of 31,600 long tons. Getting this bulk through the water was not difficult however as the Shokaku class were fitted with the most powerful power plant ever installed in a Japanese warship. Capable of generating over 160,000shp, the powerplants of the Shokaku class were more powerful than those found in the monstrous Yamato class battleships or the powerful Mogami class cruisers. The powerful engines, when coupled with a sleek hull design and a bulbous bow, gave the Shokaku class an extremely high speed of 34.5 knots.
The Shokaku sisters fought in every major naval battle of the Pacific Campaign. They were arguably the most powerful carriers in the Japanese arsenal. (Taiho might be considered more powerful, but she never carried an experienced airgroup like the Shokaku sisters.) Immediately after commissioning, the carriers began preparing to take part in the Pearl Harbor raid. Following the raid, they then took part in other engagements such as the Battle of Coral Sea and the Indian Ocean Raid. These early engagements resulted in the loss of experienced aircrew. The sisters continued fighting, but not quite at the lethal efficiency they once enjoyed. Shokaku was finally sunk during the Battle of the Philippine Sea by a submarine. Zuikaku was sacrificed as a diversion during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, being sunk by American carrier aircraft.

Fastest Battleship – Iowa Class

fastest warships of world war 2
Prior to World War II, the United States had long been preparing for a possible conflict with Japan. Realizing the complications from engaging a nation that was on the opposite side of the Pacific, the United States developed War Plan Orange. The plan called for the American fleet to fight its way across the Pacific and engage the Japanese Combined Fleet in a decisive engagement. The of the major issues was the Japanese Kongo class. American planners feared that the high speed of these warships would allow them to simply bypass the main fleet and strike the vulnerable transports and carriers. To counter a high speed battleship, a battleship with even higher speed was needed.
The Iowa class battleships were the result of that requirement. Six ships were ordered, but only four (Iowa, New Jersey, Missouri, and Wisconsin) would be completed, the first ships entering service in 1943. The need to carry a powerful powerplant resulted in the largest US Battleship ever produced. The ships were just over 887′ in length overall with a displacement of 57,000 tons at full load. Propelling this bulk through the water was a massive 212,000shp powerplant. At combat loads, the Iowa class could exceed 32 knots. Lightly loaded, New Jersey managed to steam at a remarkable 35.2 knots for six hours during a trial run in 1968.
The four Iowa class sisters had longer careers than any other ship on this list. All four ships served on and off throughout the mid to late 1900s with the ships finally being retired by 1992. During their long service careers, the ships found in not just World War II, but in the Korean War, Vietnam War, and even the Gulf War. This is particularly amazing when you consider the fact that the age of dreadnoughts ended with World War II, 45 years before these ships were finally decommissioned for good.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Monday Music "Harlem Shuffle" by the Rolling Stones

I am continuing my run of songs that I don't care for.  My favorite Rolling Stones song is ""Paint it Black" and this song ain't nowhere the same caliber.  I don't knock the Stones, they have broken more records and surpassed the Beatles on sheer influence. 

The Rolling Stones' cover version, with Bobby Womack on backing vocals, appeared on their 1986 album Dirty Work, and went to #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and #13 in the UK. Keith Richards had been looking for songs to possibly include on the album and had been working up songs with Ronnie Wood and Womack while waiting for Jagger to return to the studio in Paris after doing promo work on his solo album. To Richards' surprise, Jagger liked the feel and cut the vocals quickly. It became the first cover song the Stones had released as an opening single off a new studio album since 1965. It opens with:
You move it to the left and you go for yourself
You move it to the right yeah if it takes all night
Now take it kinda slow with a whole lot of soul.
In 1986, a 12" extended single mix of the song was released. One side contained the "London Mix" and ran 6:19. The other side had a "New York Mix" and ran 6:35. Both mixes were variations of the 7" mix. The "New York Mix" is available on the CD, Rarities 1971–2003, although it has been edited to 5:48. Both full-length 12" versions can be found on Disc 25 of Singles 1971–2006.

Music video


The Rolling Stones produced an accompanying three-minute music video, which combined live-action and animation. The live-action was directed by famous animation director Ralph Bakshi and the animation was directed by future The Ren & Stimpy Show creator John Kricfalusi.  Other animators who also worked on the video included Lynne Naylor, Jim Smith, Bob Jaques, Vicky Jenson, Pat Ventura and two other unknown animators. 

Friday, August 16, 2019

Manners and conversations.

I am working on a blogpost or trying to organize my random thoughts processes into a coherent blogpost, but that will come.  Anyway I ran across this posting from "Art Of Manliness".  I remembered seeing something several years ago at a restaurant, there were 4 teenagers around a table at a popular local restaurant and all of them instead of spending time with each other, they all were on their phones, and people wonder where the art of Social interaction went.  Old NFO commented more recently of the same thing. 

When people no longer know how to act with each other in realspace, then you wonder why the world is getting cruder.  I remembered reading the words of Lazerus Long" and I have that same book somewhere.  Well anyway I recall something that was written "Manners is the lubricant that allows the interaction of human beings without blood being drawn".  People have forgotten how to be polite.  When you can spew vitreol all over social media, one forgets that real life don't work that way and people get upset and pissy. 

Much has been said as to how a technology-driven reduction in our face-to-face interactions may be negatively impacting our physical health and mental happiness. In the absence of strong relationships, anxiety, depression, and likely certain diseases as well, have been on the upswing.
While the negative psychological and physiological effects which result from the loss of face-to-face conversation are worthy of continual cognizance, this trend begets another deleterious impact which goes overlooked: a diminishment in character.
While we often think of character as something that’s exclusively forged, if not in big crises, than in decisions with clear moral weight, it can in fact be developed in any of our ordinary, everyday activities. How we carry out everything we do, radiates effects both outwardly and inwardly. While this is true of any habit, it is particularly true of conversation. In fact, given its daily accessibility, its repeatability — allowing for practice, correction, refinement — and the numerous, varied virtues it calls upon and exercises, face-to-face conversation constitutes one of the best ways of training the human soul.
Below we illuminate the many qualities of character that can be built through active, effortful participation in conversation:


The behaviors we must summon to engage in a conversation happen with so little conscious awareness, that it can be easy to miss the extent to which they require strenuous self-control.
We must check our body language and facial expressions, demonstrating interest and friendliness, and avoiding eye rolls, inappropriate looks of shock, disgust, or boredom, and postures that read as closed-off, nervous, or defensive. We must watch what we say, abstaining from non-sequiturs, excessive negativity and complaints, gossip, and inadvertent insults to the person to whom we are speaking and those they know. We must keep ourselves from saying things that are thoughtless, whether literally, as in devoid of meaning, or in the sense of wounding another’s feelings. We must listen attentively and react appropriately to what the other person says, trying to hit the right tone and content in our responses. We must choose our words carefully, articulate them well, and talk neither too fast nor too slow.
All in all, a good conversation takes a tremendous amount of mental discipline! (Which is why, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you can feel quite fatigued after a night of socializing.) On the path to self-mastery, face-to-face dialogues are an underrated tool.


Conversation is a singular exercise in being present in the moment. To engage it fully you must shut down the distractions of the outside world and disentangle from devices. To listen attentively to another, you must continually bring the mind back to the present each time it wanders. You must commit to the idea that there is nowhere else you’d rather be, than right there, right then, with this other person.

A Bias Towards Effort and Action

It’s easy to be the person who waits for others to make the first move, who hopes someone else will come up and start talking to him. It’s easy too, especially in a group, to hang back, only half-listening, and let others do the conversational heavy lifting — to let others introduce all the topics and think of questions to ask.
We sometimes excuse these passive behaviors as shyness or introversion, when really they are the hallmarks of passivity or outright laziness. E.g., we say we can’t remember what someone told us about X because we have a poor memory, when in truth, we actually didn’t listen well enough.
A good conversationalist isn’t idle or inert; he’s an initiative taker. He realizes that like any other worthwhile endeavor, conversation takes work. Rather than waiting for a great discussion to happen, he sets one in motion and injects the energy that keeps it going.

Calm Composure

If good conversation requires a bias towards action, it also necessitates a mastery of reaction.
In the give and take of conversation, each partner offers responses that address and build on what the other person says, and the deftness of those responses can only grow out of attentive listening. One cannot perform such dialed-in listening in a state of stress and anxiety — you cannot attend to what the other person is saying, if you are attending to an emotional maelstrom within. Anxiety will make your words jumpy, awkward, rushed, and/or mumbled. A good conversationalist must therefore learn to quiet his nerves.
Even if not stressed in socializing, a calm, cool composure is needed to keep one’s responses measured when the other person says things that may feel insulting, anger-inducing, jealousy-producing, or simply differ significantly from one’s own views. The ability to receive whatever someone says with unruffled poise and stoic equanimity makes one unafraid to enter into any kind of dialogue, with any kind of person.


A disdain for small talk is often cloaked in a contempt for the superficial, but in fact finds its roots in a less flattering form of pride. It’s the same manifestation of ego that wants to skip the less exciting early phases of any new endeavor, in order to jump right into its more interesting depths. Like the man who eschews starting at the bottom rung of a job in order to work his way up, the man who spurns small talk thinks that such “menial” conversation is beneath him.
The good conversationalist knows that the development of any pursuit starts with the basics, with gaining a grasp of the fundamentals. He doesn’t feel he is too good for chit-chat; he is willing to start small, and patiently let the talk grow bigger.

Powers of Observation

The landscape of conversation is surprisingly rich, diverse, and nuanced. There is much to notice as you journey through its contours: the places where you and the other person connect, and disagree; the topics he finds most animating to talk about; the pauses, hesitations, and subtle changes in tone that emphasize or belie the words spoken, or disclose a tremor of meaning left unexpressed; a reference mentioned in passing that points to a revelation he’d like to divulge, but is having trouble surfacing directly.
He who would turn a discussion into a deeper exploration, a conversation into a curious investigation, must be a good detective: he must keep his eyes and ears highly attuned, listen in the spaces between the “notes,” decipher clues most others would miss. He who would learn the art of conversation, also develops the art of noticing.

Decreased Self-Absorption

When we talk only about ourselves, and fail to ask the other person anything about themselves — when we boorishly interrupt, hardly allowing someone else to get a word in edgewise, and failing to listen to them when they do — conversation can be just another platform for expressing one’s narcissism.
But done properly, as a true exchange, few things can get us outside ourselves like conversation can. It allows a space in which you can cultivate real interest in others. The good conversationalist is animated by questions like: How can I understand this person better? How can I put them at ease? What feelings and experiences underlie this disclosure? What are they really trying to say? The good conversationalist willingly cedes the floor and spotlight in order to answer these questions. He is able to curb the need to interject, and to turn every subject back to himself. The good conversationalist transcends ego-absorption to notice, highlight, and engage the ideas of another. Free from feelings of jealousy or insecurity, he recognizes, appreciates, and compliments the strengths that are surfaced as another person speaks.


Conversation is a skill, an arena for proficiency and strategy, like chess.
Conversation is also an art, a cooperative act of creativity, like dance.
Conversational partners must flow together, hit the right notes, move to a harmonic music of their own composing.
Like the members of an orchestra, the participants in a conversation build something together that they could not create apart. The collision of energies within this collective combinator generates fresh, life-giving feelings, meanings, insights, and ideas.
It’s no coincidence that the places and periods in which conversation has been most celebrated — whether within the agoras of ancient Greece or the salons and coffeehouses of 18th century Europe — have also produced much of history’s most original thinking and philosophy.


Every step into conversation is a step into the unknown. How will it go? Will it result in connection? Intimacy? Embarrassment? Hostility?
It’s by reason of this unpredictability that as we approach the threshold of a conversation — especially one with weight — we feel anxiety, even fear. And it is for this reason that crossing that threshold, knowing not where it will lead, takes courage.

Curiosity and Openness

Every person is like a tiny sovereign country, a micro culture, a world onto themselves. And the passport to visiting these territories is conversation.
Every person has something to teach us, if we approach them with openness and curiosity. Because every person has had different experiences, and filters the world through them, each can give us a different angle on life. These may be educated factoids or profound insights, or, they may be subtle mindset shifts on the forces shaping humanity, the struggles folks are up against, and why people think the way they do.
The fact that we can learn from everyone with whom we converse applies not just to new acquaintances, but friends and family members we have known for years and even decades. Unfortunate is the common habit of believing we know everything there is to know about our long-time associates. Fortunate is a dedication to keeping relationships fresh — to remaining perennially curious and ever seeking new secrets, revelations, opinions, and desires — no matter how long we’ve known someone.   


Engaging another in conversation is a gift. You offer a listening ear, interest, humor, encouragement, warmth, compassion. You give your time and energy, your presence and bandwidth, your body and mind. You give the resource for which people today feel most starved: attention.
Engaging in conversation is an act of hospitality. No matter the location or circumstances, one takes on the role of host, imparting a sense of welcome, putting others at ease, helping them come home, to themselves.


It is easy to think we are cool, confident, and charming when we’re by ourselves. It is easy to think our ideas are indisputably brilliant when they’ve only been sounded within the confines of our own minds.
When we interact with our fellow humans, however, we realize we are other than what we thought. We realize we are not as smooth and secure as we like to imagine. That we are more lazy, distracted, and self-absorbed than we supposed. We find that opinions which seemed crystal clear in our heads, emerge as a confused jumble when we attempt to articulate them. Our seemingly bulletproof ideas turn out to have some very airy holes.
Conversations can be uncomfortable because they challenge the inflated self-perception we form in seclusion. Our conversational partner serves as a sounding board, which allows us to hear our own thoughts more clearly in the reverberation. Our partner acts as a mirror, which allows us to see our flaws more clearly in the reflection.


Listening well to someone else requires not using the time in which they speak to think about what you are going to say when they’re through, and instead focusing entirely on their words.
That means when it is your turn to talk, you have but a moment to gather your thoughts, before offering a coherent response. It is then impossible to know exactly what you’re going to say before you say it. You make it up as you go along. You improvise.
The materials we have at our disposal in “jerry-rigging” the content of the response depend on preparation: the reflections we’ve taken time for beforehand, the ideas we’ve contemplated in advance, the manners we’ve practiced previously.
The extemporaneous delivery of said content depends on confidence — a comfort with riding the flow, a faith in leaping without looking.

Rightly Ordered Loves

Saint Augustine argued that virtue is essentially having your loves in the right order, while sin is allowing them to be disordered. Conversation is an excellent way of ensuring you have prioritized them correctly. 
When you fully tune into a conversation, you show that you love your friend more than you love your digital device.
When you refrain from sharing juicy gossip as you talk, you show that you love integrity more than status.
When you set aside out-of-office work to have a conversation with your spouse, you show that you love relationships more than money.


People rarely change as the result of being lectured. A direct haranguing produces defensiveness rather than transformation.
Within the less guarded flow of a conversation, however, something you say can strike another with meteoric impact. Indeed, sometimes a single conversation can change the entire direction of someone’s life.
Sometimes we can offer someone a fresh angle on an old problem. Other times, we merely remind them of something they once knew, but had forgotten, or felt, but couldn’t articulate.
Often the influence we wield through conversation comes not in the form of catalyzing dramatic light bulb insights, but enacting a steady process wherein the positive language we speak, and the ideals which undergird it, slowly bring out the goodness in another. Each conversation is a chance to leave someone better than we found them. If the world changes at all, it changes one conversation at a time.


Have you ever felt your anger at someone progressively swell in the space when you were apart? The more you ruminated about them, and the wrong they had done you, the more your seething grew. Yet, when you finally saw this person face-to-face, and looked in their eyes, your anger melted away. The one-dimensional abstraction you had created of them in your mind, where all you could see was their flaw, was again replaced with a multi-faceted figure; the positive memories you share, their numerous good qualities, your feelings of affection, reasserted themselves.
Such is the power of empathy, a power activated an order of magnitude greater when we interact in person rather than at a distance. Up close, we recognize the commonalities in our hopes, fears, and struggles. We recognize that other people are just trying to make it in this mixed-up world, the same way we are. Thanks to “mirror neurons,” we actually feel what the other person feels. As a result, we experience a sense of patience and compassion that overrides the misunderstandings and unfair characterizations that arise when we only communicate digitally, if at all.

Ensouls Others

In communicating at a distance, we can lose not only our empathy for others, but sight of their very humanity. We come to see people as means rather than ends in themselves, as objects to be used, manipulated, discarded.
When we talk on our phone, while nominally interacting with a cashier, we treat them as an automaton.
When we sit next to someone at a party without saying a word, we treat them as indistinguishable from a house plant.
When we break up with someone via text, we treat them as a tool used only for pleasure.
Conversely, when we chat with the cashier, we see them as a creature of flesh-and-blood, with hopes, dreams, feelings, and life outside this role and that name-tagged smock.
When we make a comment about the weather to our fellow party guest, we acknowledge that we share the same reality.
And when we break up with someone face-to-face, we recognize them as a multifaceted human being, with whom we are not only willing to share mutual enjoyment, but mutual discomfort.
When we make room in our schedule, space in our bandwidth, to converse with another, we fulfill the most basic of human needs: to be recognized, acknowledged, seen. We en-value people with our words. We ensoul them with our attention.


With all the above qualities, the arrows of conversation work both ways.
Cultivating inner decorum leads to outward decorum. Generosity of spirit leads to generosity of speech. A well-ordered mind leads to a well-ordered exchange.
At the same time, as conversations call upon qualities of patience and courage, effort and creativity, humility and influence, these virtues are honed through practice.
Conversation then both requires character, and refines it. Available to us daily, such exercise strengthens the soul of the individual, and the heart of society. The health of family, town, state, and country, ultimately emerges from the skill and art, the power and pleasure, of one-on-one exchanges.