Tough Watches, Disposable Watches

In the military there are a few schools on watches for military use. Some use the “buy’em cheap and replace as broken” and others are “buy’em once and cry once.” There are success stories from both methods, and in the end a watch is (mostly) just there to tell timw. In my uneventful and completely normal career I’ve encountered plenty of folks wearing Casio, Luminox, Citizen, Rolex, Omega, Tag Heuer, Victorinox, and plenty of Timex offerings. It really doesn’t matter what watch you have on your wrist as long as it does its job, but when you are in the backside of the moon as far as resupply goes, having a reliable watch is a nice comfort. Having that watch work when you need to meet a “hit time” is doubly comforting. Having a watch fail you during a working vacation can be a bit of an emotional let down.

The cheapest offering listed here is the Timex offerings. The olive drab “GI” watch works, isn’t particularly rugged, but is available and cheap. If you want a step up in price and quality even if there is a step down in absolute timing accuracy, a Seiko 5 is a much better option and will outlast several Timex watches (I was introduced to the Seiko 5 military line through a UK Royal Navy Officer who had his for the better part of a decade and just kept replacing the strap with another NATO band as they wore through). Between the Timex and a Seiko 5, the Seiko is the better buy, but not always available at some random PX in the middle of nowhere.

Next up is the ubiquitous Casio G-Shock. I’ve worn through plenty of G-Shock bands myself, and a G-Shock “tough solar” offering will probably outlast you if you don’t rip the watch right off the band. Unfortunately ripping the watch right off the band is how I lost one, and the others when the band failed. Good watches although big on the wrist. If you like that style of watch, replacing the band with an easily replaceable NATO strap should help you suck every possible minute of life out of it. Generally a G-Shock will be available in the PX in the middle of nowhere, but the NATO strap won’t be.

Next up in the price range of common military watches is the Luminox brand. Essentially these are overpriced plastic watches with battery powered quartz movements and tritium illumination, and the Navy SEAL selling point. I don’t recommend spending 180 bucks or more on a quartz dive watch when a Casio quartz dive watch can be had for less than 50 dollars. But, these watches are pretty popular with the folks who wear them, and they do seem to hold up well. But in the price range, there are other options that are every bit as rugged. The 200 dollar range really starts to open up some great watch options. A British Army Diver showed me his issued Citizen Promaster Dive watch, powered by light, and it had great illum and a solid steel case. I honestly think this is a better buy than the Luminox offerings which are slightly lighter, but are all battery powered in this price range. Alternately a Seiko SNE109 style solar powered dive watch can be had in the 150 dollar range, and I think that is also a better buy than a Luminox.

Above 200 dollars you run into the Omega, Tag Heuer, and Rolex crowd. These are the watches that you see on the wrists of single Captains, married Lieutenant Colonels, and contractors. These are status watches, even among the military community. They tell time just fine, but are also success symbols.

The watches I see that are a little scraped up but still going strong are usually the Citizen and Casio offerings. Seiko as a brand doesn’t have a huge penetration into the military culture that I’ve been around, but I expect that to change as Seiko has been consciously branding itself towards the “rough use” crowd with their Prospex line (and I’ve seen the Seiko Prospex dive watches in the display case of at least one PX).

If you see a lot of dive watches represented in this list, that is largely because dive watches have a well deserved reputation for being more rugged than other watches. But to explain how hard military culture is on watches, I’ve seen the seals break on G-Shocks and let condensation in, fogging the crystal. I’ve seen that on an Omega too. I’ve seen a contractor stop wearing his Rolex Submariner because the equipment he was around caused it to run fast (the movement got magnetized) so he went out and bought a Rolex Milgaus. I’ve seen a LTC who jumped into Panama wear a 25 dollar digital Timex for as long as I’ve known him. And I’ve seen a Captain with a Tag Heuer that was utterly beat to death and still telling time through a very scratched crystal that was in desperate need of replacement.

If you have a loved one looking to go into the military, I think the Seiko Solar dive watches with a metal bracelet, or the Citizen offering when put on a NATO strap, are the best watches for starting out. Most watches fail because of the strap, followed by the crystal, so getting something with a very tough or easily replaced bracelet is critical, and having a good crystal (sapphire is best, mineral crystal second best, plastic the worst) is second. Even a 48 dollar Casio diver that requires a new battery every 18 months or so is going to get the job done (but I hate getting batteries changed out on a dive watch, means you have to open the case).

Comments are open, what type of watch do you like, and why?

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Thoughts on Radical Activism and Sniper Rifles with a few things in between

I’m still catching up on the three weeks of my life spent in internet isolation, so here are some of the things I’ve noticed having been connected back to the digital world for a bit more than 24 hours now.

One thing the election of Donald Trump did for aging hippy activists is give them something to protest against. You know, all the things that Barack Obama did that Donald Trump is now doing, but somehow they are bad because Trump is now doing the Presidenting instead of the iWon doing the presidenting.

The “fight for $15” crowd is going strong, economic literacy obviously not being one of their strong points. The minimum wage is $0 and always will be, if labor prices itself out of the market to be replaced by machines or companies not having enough of a profit margin to justify the risk of doing business, then laborers will effectively make zero dollars per hour.

The social justice warriors out in Berkeley and other places are getting more acquainted with violence, and the “resist every day” movement has started posting videos with guys trying to operate AK-47 variants (seriously dude, don’t go there, the revolution just ain’t going to happen). This is a troubling development for a number of reasons, the first of which is that government has spent so much time and effort into infiltrating “right wing” groups that I’m not sure they have any sort of experience infiltrating “left wing” extremists. The second of which is that left wing nutjobs have always been “bomb” oriented rather than “gun” oriented as they are inherently cowards (as is anyone who wants to kill someone else without risking their life to do it). Here is an article written three years ago, and remember that the time between then and now makes this the “good old days” while the Overton window shifted to make even more extreme tactics “normal”

California is trying to go full retard on gun control, which will have the predictable results of doing both “jack” and “squat” for any sort of measurable crime statistics. Of course gun control isn’t about safety, it’s about control. So getting all those icky red voters to move to Nevada, Oregon, or Utah seems like a feature, not a bug.

And “JadeGold” the online handle for Guy Cabot, has resurfaced. The election of Donald Trump has brought a lot of loonies back out of the woodwork, evidently the failure of America to know what is good for us and elect another Clinton has really irked our coastal betters.

Donald Trump is definitely a polarizing figure, his comments about NATO have stirred up a lot of discussion in Europe. With Russia actively waging an information war against NATO and the west at almost every turn the rather cordial relations between the Trump Administration and Russian Federation are tempered with the increased flow of troops through Europe and the US participation in “Enhanced Forward Presence” which puts US troops within a few minutes of the Russian border. But, historically treating Russia as a “frienemy” has always turned out to be a better option than treating Russia as either friend or enemy. Just like a High School romance, “it’s complicated” sums up effective diplomacy between the US, NATO/Europe, and Russia.

But…I’ve not seen political activism like this in my lifetime, even the “Code Pink” protests against GWBush were utterly tame in comparison to this. The “Trump Derangement Syndrome” is real as even Fox News is 52% “negative” when covering Trump. Seriously, even the “blatant right wing news source” has a 4% swing on negative coverage of someone supposedly a darling of the right . On the flip side of that, it means it honestly does not matter what the Trumpster does, because it will be protested and hated. This gives him an amazing amount of political flexibility to do whatever the hell it is that he wants, which seems to be exactly what he’s doing.

But speaking of radical activists, even Kim Du Toit is back on the scene, and still ranting about the AR-15/M16/M4 platform in 5.56×45 as if he ever carried one into combat. Spoiler alert, he hasn’t. The 5.56×45 still remains a potent killer and there is a reason that the 6.8 SPC adopted by SOCOM never really found traction even in that community. There is nothing wrong with going to a .25 to .27 caliber intermediate catridge, but there isn’t much right about it either. Sometimes different is just different. Having carried several hundred rounds of 5.56×45 in my rucksack on several occasions with 210 rounds on my kit, all ammo gets heavy fast. I wouldn’t mind a replacement for the 7.62×51 down to a slightly smaller and light round, but the odds of that happening are slim to nil. In fact the Army just spec’d out another semi-auto sniper rifle in 7.62×51. Here is the now late Bob Owen’s take on the matter:

Honestly though, if you want a 308 semi auto sniper rifle, just wait for a Palmetto State Armory sale on one of their PA-10s. Upgrade the handguards to a free float tube and you too can have guaranteed 1.5″ minutes of accuracy. Of course people snicker at 1.5 minutes of accuracy, but historically that has been closer to the norm for military grade sniper rifles, which are expected to deliver that performance in conditions that would make benchrest shooters cry. And as much as the current “long to ultra long” sniper trend has gone, the bulk of all sniper engagements are still in the 300 to 600 “sweet spot” range (whether ranged in yards or meters). As much as I love the M14/M1A platform, they acutally make pretty abysmal sniper rifles compared to the AR platform, mainly from an ease of maintenance and barrel swap perspective.


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Back on the net for a bit…

My forced sabbatical from blogging having come to an end, the first thing I notice is that the Trump Derangement Syndrome hasn’t abated one bit. Were conservatives every this annoying about Bill Clinton or Barack Obama? Probably.

On more important matters, another mind has taken a look at the FBI data on police shootings and come to some of the similar conclusions as I did, the “condition one” carry isn’t what saves your ass, it is situational awareness that saves your ass by giving you time and time gives you options (condition one is fine, take it or leave it but it isn’t the end all of self defense).

In other news, LTC retired Dave Grosman has doubled down on his war against video games. Evidently having a “mass shooting” number bounce between 1 and 10 per year in the United States over multiple decades is a “growing epidemic” and clearly Grand Theft Auto is at fault. Except the data doesn’t support that at all, between the millions of consoles and games sold, a the “mass shootings” in the time frame conducted have never broken the double digits per year. In a nation of 330 million people, that’s what we call “normal range” of data.

Then again, only Grosman would be the guy to have an article on heat street with the supporting data presented pulled from Mother Jones while he raves on about social morals like a member of the John Birch society…

But, as horrific as “mass shootings” are, it is comforting to know that the homicide rate in 2016 was at a 51 year low:

That puts things in perspective doesn’t it? I mean if video games were really causing violence, then shouldn’t the homicide rate be going up? Or could it be that Grosman is an idiot who is grasping at a very small sample size to cherry pick data in order to sell more of his books, speaking engagements, and keep his “brand” viable? Ocham’s Razor says that Grosman is full of crap and in it for the money.

The “WannaCry” ransomware… well that is what we get when a three letter agency lets its hacking tools get loose into the wild. Makes you feel really great when the FBI double pinky promises that it would NEVER let the custom hacking tool it ordered Apple to create for it fall into the wrong hands. Seriously folks, the next time the FBI takes Apple or Microsoft to court, it will have an uphill battle to suppress the evidence of the government getting hacked and releasing hacking tools…

Comments are open, how did your last three weeks of life go?

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The Prophets of Doom and Disaster

You don’t have to go far around the internet on the anniversary of Earth Day, now 47 years old, to recall all the wrong (and not just wrong, but comically wrong) predictions made at the original Earth Day back in 1970.

One of the reasons that scientists get taken seriously is that, well, they are scientists. However, science is a discipline that very little to say on predicting the future. Science is actually no better at predicting the future than “Madame Cleo” of psychic hotline fame.

Science, is a descriptive field, not a predictive field. There are predictive disciplines within science, such as genetics describing what the normal distribution of phenotypes for the follow on generations within a particular population, but that level of prediction falls into a statistical range and doesn’t say that “for sure 25% of offspring will exhibit this trait.” The actual reality is whatever happens happens, and the predicted distribution rarely matches reality exactly.

Looking back on the original Earth Day predictions which came from scientists who taught at prestigious colleges and universities it is easy to see why people took them seriously. They had all the right credentials, and they had a public platform to express their predictions, and they expressed those predictions in such a way as to impress upon the recipient that danger of not changing their sinful ways. In short, those scientists abused their positions and made a mockery of the scientific process to say something that science doesn’t actually support.

Now, don’t misunderstand, we can build models that predict future conditions based on historical observed data, but those predictions are essentially meaningless once reality has come into being and the future has become the past. But, unless you can validate your model to have relevance (by actually reproducing a historical output from a historical input) you don’t have a model, you have a toy.

And unfortunately for the Prophets of Doom and Disaster, things like “the weather” are not easily predicted. In 1987 the book “Chaos: Making a New Science” by James Gleick entered the market, and began the process of upending the “deterministic” worldview that previously dominated the western view of science. For those not familiar, “determinism” is the belief that if “we just know enough detail, all things will become transparent.” The observations about the nature of chaos have shown that even simple, easily understood systems, can have chaotic output.

Often times “chaos” has been shorthanded as “sensitivity to initial conditions” so that any minor change in initial conditions produces large changes later on in the prediction. This is just one aspect of chaos, another is measuring how quickly two models diverge based on the changes to initial conditions. The faster the models diverge the more “chaotic” behavior they exhibit.

So, especially in the fields of climatology where we want high confidence predictions, we are not likely to get high confidence predictions any time in the near future (a prediction, I know). So when I read that people are actively trying to block the EPA from basing policy on science that doesn’t meet the standard criteria for science, I chuckle a bit:

And just in case someone thinks that I’m a big meanie who doesn’t care about all the dangers of “climate change” I’d like to point out that I do care about pollution and the human conditions on our planet. However, any potential impacts of climate change are outweighed by the very real conditions of poverty, and the accompanying conditions of malnutrition and improper sanitation. Those issues we can work on now, and good people ARE working on now.

The world has problems, but I’m not losing any sleep over climate change. After all, the Earth Day guys told me that I’d be dead by now from smog and starvation.


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Violence, revisited

In the book “Caliphate” by Tom Kratman, the idea that retaining authority over the prosecution or pardon of some crimes will eventually allow “America to clean house” of all the internal rot that prevents engaging in total war against fundamentalist Islam.

In 2017, we see the selective enforcement of law allowing leftists to riot in California. Even in the heyday of leftist violence, the ATF never avoided arresting you while you were in town, preferring to play with new toys in the siege of the Branch Davidian compound. Had it been a leftist organization, it would have turned out differently.

This is because in American culture, the right has an automatic credibility when it comes to violence. Whether this credibility is deserved or not is debatable, but when Tim McVeigh murdered all those fellow Americans, he demonstrated the efficacy of someone with a plan who can competently follow it through to execution. During the heyday of the “war on terror” the FBI routinely busted self radicalized jihadists who reached out to undercover FBI agents through the internet, giving rise to the rather accurate meme that “FBI stop FBI terror plot!”

At the “Malheur Standoff” it was estimated that between a quarter to a third of all “occupiers” were in fact, “informants.” This heavy infiltration of “right wing” groups is a theme that Matt Bracken used in his novels. Using selective enforcement to gain leverage on an individual to get them to do your bidding, well just because that’s tyrannical doesn’t stop a government from doing just that.

But, back to the violence. The violence itself doesn’t bother me too much, we’ve had the LA Riots, the Ferguson riots, but what is different about this is that it is political violence based on agendas. This is not rioting based on an incident sparking a legitimate grievance.

There are two ways to go from here, the violence can get worse, or it can taper off. The longer President Trump is in power without unleashing the might of the FedGov on the leftists “Antifa” (who fight against free speech and for a homogeneous identity politics utopia, which is in fact fascism) the more likely it is to taper off. If Trump does something stupid, like actually react, that will encourage the leftists to double or triple down on the tactic of using violence to achieve and endstate. And due to the always on, always connected internet based world, the violence doesn’t have to be local to you to FEEL like it’s local to you.

We live in interesting times.

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A Library Burned

They say a library burns when an old man dies.

Hognose, the currator of Weaponsman blog, has passed on. We never met in real life, and it wasn’t until his brother gave is name that I had any idea of who he was. He was a man that much of the world met through his words, shielded by the thin anonymity of the internet.

This is not the first time an “internet friend” or acquaintance has passed on. Fritz from a sporterizing forum, Ray (who I did meet in meatspace), Connie Du Toit, and now Kevin O’Brien. Sometimes the links stay up, the blogs stay up, a digital memorial to the contributions of lives now in the past.

But…just like they won’t let you stay in the Army forever if you live long enough for them to kick you out, you can’t live forever either. The most powerful honor the living can give to the dead is a profound sense of loss or diminishing in the universe.

And so if it feels like a library is burning, it is because we the living are diminished by his passing. May Kevin find fair winds and safe paths on his next journey.

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The current spate of hard left violence (and the hard right counter protests) is an interesting trend given America’s history. The last time we saw this much violence was the end of the heyday of the civil rights movement, end of the Vietnam war, the beginning of the rise of Asian manufacturing displacing American manufacturing, and all the “useful idiots” were pawns of the Soviet security services just trying to get America to tear itself apart.

Now, it’s mostly the end of the war on terror, the end of the equal rights for LBGTQ movement, the firm rise in foreign programmers and technicians replacing American programmers and technicians, and all the “useful idiots” are convinced that someone is in bed with Russia to destroy our nation. The past may not repeat, but it sure does rhyme.

So…it is a time of change. Maybe the memories of my childhood are wrong, but I remember my parents stressed about money, how Dad worked as he could in the multi year recession. Things aren’t so different now, really, but the world is smaller as more people exist, and more people are connected. So this time, people watch the riots as they are live streamed rather than hear about it on the radio or read about it in the paper.

I don’t know what the change will be this time, but I hope my boys have good memories of their childhood. For all I remember my parents stressed, they did their best and it was good enough to get me into adulthood.

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