1 Apr 11

DTI Instructor’s Course:

We generally run only one DTI Instructor’s Course per year.

This year, it is in Rochester, IN on the weekend of 21-22 May 11.

Students are trained in our instructional techniques, and we do a lot of shooting (Handgun, Rifle, Shotgun) as we review and exercise principles of effective instructing and coaching.

If you’re ready for an Instructor Course and want to be certified as a DTI Certified Affiliate Instructor, plan on joining us!

Get hold of Frank Sharpe at dtomfrank@hotmail.com for details.



2 Apr 11

With regard to the advancement of our Art:

“Art happens! No hovel is safe from it. No prince may depend on it. Vested intelligence cannot bring it about. And, ill-conceived efforts to make it universal, invariably end in quaint comedy and coarse farce!”

James Whistler

This is why, between private and public enterprise, the private sector is always at the leading edge. The public sector comes along, eventually. The danger associated with pushing the envelope is, of course, distinguishing genuine advancement from facetious self-promotion on the part of a single individual.

I cling to the axiom that our greatest individual right, is the right to be wrong, and our greatest freedom, is the freedom to fail! When you lose your fear of failure, of “being wrong,” you’ll simultaneously lose your fear of success, and finally begin to move forward. The realization of ignorance is the beginning of wisdom. Insisting that one is never wrong, nor has ever been wrong, nor indeed is capable of being wrong, is the mark of a charlatan. And, finding the burden of even occasionally “being wrong” intolerable, a certain indicator of an unstable mind!

So, in addition to just facts, we must pursue the “suchness,” the poetry, of our Art (for lack of a more descriptive term). We need to see ourselves within history, within our Culture. We need to concentrate on inspiring our students, filling their minds with troubling thoughts, so that they suddenly wake up and, in turn, “take it from there.” When they really want to learn this Art, they’ll find a way! We instructors merely provide occasional guidance.

The rest is just commentary!

“‘Culture’ is activity of thought, and receptiveness to beauty and humane feeling. A merely ‘well-informed’ man is the most useless bore on God’s earth!”

Alfred Whitehead

It is our simultaneous privilege, and curse, to discover ourselves living through “exciting times.” It is my sincerest hope that history records our current era as the time when our Art flourished, as never before.

To be able to say that we had a small part in that Golden Moment, motivates me, for one, to continue to relentlessly, fearlessly push forward!



3 Apr 11

Friend and colleague, Dr Dave Kahn, puts it well:

“‘Ars Gratia Artis’ encapsulates it. It’s what separates strategy from tactics.

‘Strategy’ is a behavioral outline, a blueprint consisting of general rules and fundamental goals. Agencies and groups work with strategy, necessarily via consensus (or autocracy) that drives thoughts, that drive actions. Innovation and intellectual advance are not on their agenda, because constitutionally, they can’t be.

‘Tactics,’ as colleague Massad Ayoob correctly defines them, comprise applying common sense, with a knowledge of relevant disciplines, to personal security issues, as they present themselves. Only individuals can use tactics. And tactics, though shaped by basic principles (strategy), can only be applied idiosyncratically. That is, tailored to the particular challenge at hand, and the totality of circumstances that define it.

Individuals have ideas! Individuals devise solutions and innovate new approaches that sometimes represent improvements.

Our world occasionally furnishes us with personal security challenges. We agree collectively on the outline of our ultimate goals and general methods. Each of us takes this outline and, on the spot, devises a specific methodology, a particular way through the problem. The smart among us propose and innovate. They’re inspired! The balance of us dispose and imitate. When it works well, and often, we adopt it!

We all do it, despite inherent risks, for the love of the doing, for being personally associated with positive, forward progress.

Ars Gratia Artis! Loosely translated: “Skill defines the artist”

It’s the way, and the only way, our Art has advanced, since before history was recorded.”


“The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we shall be! This nation, and the world, are in dire need of creative extremists.”

ML King, Jr



4 Apr 11

Fool’s Paradise:

“Despite his atheism, Karl Marx cannot be understood without the Bible. His myth of a perfect society… is, in fact, the Biblical myth of Paradise on Earth! What is Marxism, if not Messianism?”

Eugene Jonesco

Yes, but Marx was a counterfeit messiah, and Marxism a delusional paradise, a fool’s paradise. His spiritual ascendants today, including many elected officials in America, flat-out know and understand this. They know full-well that Socialism/Marxism/Communism invariably leads, not to paradise, but to despotism and slavery. How often does it have to happen?

But, their public face assures anyone feebleminded enough to believe them that “paradise” is just around the corner. Their naive listeners then serve as “useful idiots,” sitting around with their collective hands out, at least until they can be herded into gulags!

Their currency is lies, but smooth lies, the kind of comfortable (albeit preposterous) lies that the naive love to hear, even when they know they can’t be true. And, like leftists everywhere, they love to pontificate, but will tolerate no questions, nor open discussion.

They need to listen to the likes of Robert Ingersoll:

“A fact never went into partnership with a miracle. Truth scorns the assistance of wonders. A fact will fit every other fact in the universe, and that is how you can tell whether it is a fact or not. A lie will never fit anything, except another lie.”

Yes, Karl Marx is a trumped-up, self-professed “messiah,” like a thousand other charlatans that have long-since come and gone, and his current crop of devotees are mendacious angels.

Who, but a self-deceptive idiot, believes that Communism really “works,” except that all the “wrong people” have been in charge so far? With the “right people” in charge (the ones pitching), universal Communism will surely usher in a bright new Age, Paradise on Earth.

The sales pitch hasn’t changed in a hundred years!

Neo-Marxists tell us they’re building this “new world.”

They better build plenty of coffins.

That’s all they’ll need!



4 Apr 11

“New” Morality?

“The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative, the day after the revolution!”

Hannah Arendt

“Humanity strives to find a truth. It relaxes when it finds an error that is liveable.”

Albert Camus

From a colleague:

“The ‘new morality’ of which you speak is nothing more than the ‘new immorality,’ which is not moral, and hardly ‘new!’

Even professing leftists know right from wrong, although they insist they don’t, and it usually takes a personal crisis for them to finally admit it.

So, whenever I encounter one of these starry-eyed nincompoops, espousing their relativistic ‘morality,’ I say to them, ‘So then, if it is all the same to you, which you claim it is, give me all of your money and possessions right now, since my position says I should have all that you have. I claim to be neither ‘right, nor ‘wrong,’ since those concepts don’t really exist anyway, right?

So, give it over to me.’

You can guess their unfailing reply. Curiously, they instantly morph into moral absolutists! They become unconditionedly certain of the inherent inviolability of their personal right to private property (although they’re still not sure about anyone else’s).

Their convenient ‘conversion’ usually takes less than a second!”


“Relative morality” is akin to “relative pregnancy!” For the sake of your own mental health, you had better believe your beliefs, and truth had better anchor your personal philosophy. You may be smugly comfortable now. That can all change tomorrow morning, and some “tomorrow morning,” it surely will! And, when your Test comes, it will be too late to change your mind, too late to discover you’ve been wrong, dead-wrong (and arrogantly so), all along!

“Truth does not change because it is believed, or is not, by a majority”

Giordano Bruno (burned at the stake in 1600)

(Sometimes called “Gudio” Bruno. “Guido” is actually an offensive nickname. “Giordano” is the Italian form of the name, “Jordan,” which has its roots in “Yarden,” the Hebrew name for the Jordan river, flowing between Jordan and Israel. It is derived from “yarad,” meaning “to descend,” or “flow down.”)



6 Apr 11

Vacation South of the Border?

Friends in the Federal System tell me Central America, including Mexico, now tops the list of violent, unsafe parts of the world. The only current exception is active war-zones. You are safer in West Africa than in Central America!

The Mexican government, hand-in-hand with the BHO Administration (in the personage of our current, grossly-incompetent HS Secretary) are still in naive denial. But American tourists dare not be!

Even so, I often talk with people, even today, who tell me they are currently planning Mexican vacations! I sternly advise them to immediately cancel all such plans and stay well within CONUS for the foreseeable future.

It’s not just border-towns. Even well-established vacation/tourist areas are not exempt from gratuitous drug-gang violence. In addition, targeted kidnappings of foreign tourists are rampant, and there is precious little either government can, nor are likely to, do about it, aside from endlessly wringing their collective hands.

Control exercised by local governments in Central America, including Mexico, is weak, and deteriorating by the day. Trans-national drug-gangs are well on their way to becoming the central political force in the region. Indeed, in much of Mexico, they are already!

By all accounts, their viciousness and utter lack of concern over human life is without limits, and they are not currently being effectively challenged, except by rival gangs.

The message is clear: Don’t go there!

The places in this world where you’re reasonably safe are shrinking by the day. Don’t be naive. Don’t allow yourself to be conned. Don’t expect governments to tell the truth… about anything! And, don’t trust someone else to care about your safety more than you do.

Keep your head up. We’re in for a bumpy ride!



8 Apr 11

More on Mexico, from a friend in the security business there:

“We have manufacturing facilities throughout Mexico, including border towns.

I just had two regional security managers (based in Mexico City) precipitously resign, one after only three weeks on the job, the other after three months.

The first watched two employees simultaneously murdered (shot to death at close range) as they were entering the manufacturing facility, which is very secure. Two suspects escaped and are still at large. Local police, between yawns, said, ‘… it’s probably drug related.’

Last week, the other was on his way to work and was abducted at gunpoint. He was subsequently driven around the city, withdrawing funds from various ATMs. This is called a ‘flash’ or ‘express’ kidnapping, and is prevalent in Central and South America. He lived through it, but resigned immediately afterward.

Unless you have a close, personal relationship with specific members of a police unit, you cannot trust local, nor federal, police here. When not involved in criminal activity directly, they often tolerate, even actively support, others who are. Honest police are routinely run-off. Entire precincts have been shot-up! Police chiefs, and members of their families, are kidnapped/murdered almost every week.

Like you, I advise everyone who thinks they want to visit down here, don’t! When they insist, I advise them to stay far away from border-towns and stay away from drugs. Many really dumb Americans travel to Mexico with the notion of obtaining cheap drugs. This is a dangerously stupid idea! Becoming mixed up, in the slightest way, with people involved with the illegal drug trade down here is tantamount to suicide. Many are discovering that the hard way!”

Comment: “With all the pain and sorrow in store, why do we always arrange for more?”




10 Apr 11

“I come to you from the West, where we have always seen the backs of our enemies; from an Army whose business it has been to seek the adversary and beat him when he was found… I presume that I have been called here to pursue the same System. It is my purpose to do so, and speedily.

… I am sure you long for an opportunity to win the distinction you are capable of achieving. That opportunity I shall endeavor to give you.

… The strongest position a soldier should desire to occupy is one from which he can most easily advance against the enemy … Success and glory are in the Advance. Disaster and shame lurk in the rear. Let us act on this understanding…”

From a speech to his subordinates, by newly-appointed Major General John Pope, upon arriving to take Command the Army of Virginia (later “Army of the Potomac”), 14 July 1862

I love that speech!

But, Pope’s inspiring, indeed Patton-like, attitude was, unfortunately, not coupled with Patton-like tactical genius! Pope, wholly outclassed by the formidable combination of Robert E Lee, Tom “Stonewall” Jackson, and James Longstreet was promptly and soundly, defeated at the Second Battle of Bull Run (Second Manassas) on 30 Aug 1862, and compelled to retreat in ignominy. Lincoln fired him less than two weeks later. His tenure endured barely two months!

Pope was only the third of seven failed generals (McDowell, McClellan, Pope, McClellan again, Burnside, Hooker, and Meade) in turn precipitously fired by an increasingly frustrated President Lincoln, until US Grant finally took overall command of Federal Forces and, at long last, ended the War.

Pope, like so many failed generals, was subsequently shunted out West (and into clement obscurity) where he, in an attempt to put the past behind him, participated briefly in Indian Wars.

His reputation was not helped by his attempt to blame his embarrassing defeat at Second Manassas on the ostensible incompetence of a subordinate. The subordinate in question, General John Porter, was subsequently court-martialed and convicted, but later (1879) exonerated by a Board of Inquiry. As expected, the Board was caustically critical of Pope himself.

Blaming failure on subordinates rarely has the desired effect!

After that, no one had much regard for Pope. Unlike McClellan and Grant, he didn’t write a book!

He retired in 1886 and died quietly six years later at a Soldier’s Home on Ohio.

Comment: At least Pope stepped up to the plate! Who do, better expect history’s roughshod, unsympathetic analysis, as we see.

Like Burnside and Hooker, Pope was in over his head and should have recognized it. And, Lincoln should have seen it also. Burnside, at least, admitted it (shortly before his own disaster at Fredericksburg)!

Even Grant, when he first went up against Lee, was promptly handed a disastrous defeat at Cold Harbor. But, unlike the litany before him, he swallowed his loss and relentlessly pressed on. And, Cold Harbor was not his last blunder, but he saw the War through to victory, and a merciful end, less than a year later!

None of his predecessors were able to do that. And, maybe even Grant himself could not have done it earlier in the War.

Like politics, war is an inexact “science.”

“In the end, that’s what the Game is all about, isn’t it? Doing the right thing, at the right time, for all the wrong reasons!”

Lancy Howard, played by Edward G Robinson, to Eric Stoner (“The Cincinnati Kid”), played by Steve McQueen, in the 1965 movie, The Cincinnati Kid

“Fame is a trivial, petty thing, as fickle as the weather!”




11 Apr 11

ILEETA Conference, 2011

As in past years, 2011’s ILEETA (International Law Enforcement Educators’ and Trainers’ Association) Annual Training Conference is this time of year, and in Wheeling, IL (near Chicago).

Today was the first day.

I attended several of the wide spectrum of excellent Classes.

The overriding theme this year is preventing and dealing with violent, gun-wielding domestic felons, as well as terrorists (foreign and domestic), in work-places, schools, etc, who are in the process of actively murdering innocents. Several well-known lecturers addressed this subject.

Here are recurrent themes:

(1) The first few minutes are more important than the next few hours!

(2) Police (regular, patrol officers) have to get there fast and (1) stop the murdering, and (2) stop the bleeding.

(3) The new emphasis is that we’re not waiting for SWAT Teams to arrive, nor for “perimeters” and “command-posts” to be set up. While we’re taking time to do all those things, murderers are murdering, fortifying their position, consolidating their gains, and expanding their control.

(4) Active murders must be intercepted, distracted, and their plan disrupted immediately, even when only one officer is available to act!

(5] This means that all patrol officers need to be equipped with, and extensively trained with, military rifles, so they have the immediate capability necessary to [a] establish a beachhead, [b] distract the murders with effective fire, [c] disrupt the murderers’ plan, [d] fix them in position, and, using effective fire, [e] neutralize all of them as quickly as possible.

Other Classes of note:

Springfield Armory conducted an excellent Armorer’s Course for their famous XD Pistol. This Class was full to overflowing! The XD Pistol has gained acceptance into the American Police Community, and many departments had representatives there. Each student was provided with an elaborate tool kit and accessories. SA’s commitment to Law Enforcement was well received and well demonstrated!

An excellent Course on “Back-up Officer Tactics” emphasized that, when a suspect is Tased (via a hand-held Taser), he should be subsequently “cuffed under power.” I had to think about this, but instructors cited several incidents where a tased suspect, the moment his “ride” ended, jumped up, drew a concealed pistol, and shot officers who were trying to complete the arrest. So, now these instructors are recommending getting back-up officer(s) to the downed suspect quickly, while the Taser is still active, and getting him restrained before he regains the use of his limbs.

Makes sense!

Tomorrow, I’ll be attending more Classes and touring the vendor area.



12 Apr 11

Today, I heard truly inspiring lecture/presentations by Art Aplin, Jeff Chudwin, Don Alwes, Dave Spaulding, Brian McKenna, Bob “Coach” Lindsey, Ron Borsch, Bob Hindi, and Mike Brave. These guys are all legends, and I am proud to say, my friends.

There were many other excellent lectures I just didn’t get to!

The vendor area was lively, will all major players in attendance.

Once again, the ILEETA is one LEO Conference you don’t want to miss!



18 Apr 11

I’ve just completed an Urban Rifle Course in WA. As always these days, there was much enthusiasm on the part of my students!

I had two SIG 556s (223), 2 RA/XCRs (also 223), one DSA/FAL (308), one AUG, one Beretta CX4 (9mm), one AK, one PTR/32 (7.62×39) and the customary contingent of ARs. Most were equipped with optics, Aimpoints and EOTechs. One ACOG.

Everything ran fine! Neither SIG ever hiccuped once. Neither did the FAL, the AK, nor the PTR. The balance had a few, but all were quickly reduced by the Operator.

I used NGA’s (Next Generation Arms) new X7. It’s a premium AR. It’s antecedent, the MP168, a copy of which I also have, is an excellent AR too, but a little clunky.

By contrast, the new X7 is smooth, slick, slim, short, and expertly engineered. With NGA’s exclusive ceramic coating, there is nothing on it that rusts, and, unlike most other ARs, it doesn’t need to be oily to run!

The X7 comes equipped with a BCM charging handle, the best available. Trigger is smooth. Reset is crisp. No sharp corners, nor edges.

My copy has, of course, an Aimpoint T1, forward mounted on a Larue Quick-Release mount, a Insight Weaponlight on the right side, and a BFG Vickers two-point sling. Iron sights are co-witnessed.

My copy ran all weekend without a single bobble.

NGA, located in ID, is a wonderful company and is dedicated to refinement of the AR System.




19 Apr 11

Comments on ARs, from a colleague and Instructor from last weekend’s Urban Rifle Course:

“The Stoner (AR) System has improved considerably in the last ten years. A decade ago, students would have had numerous, complex failures with their ARs. Some would have surely gone down for the duration.

Last weekend, we had very few stoppages of any kind. To be sure, we had competent students who had good gear, but there is no doubt ‘AR-bar’ has been raised!

Comment: I have to agree! Serious manufacturers of Stoner-System rifles, as a group, have magnificently elevated their collective quality-control standards. After forty years of refinement, the Stoner System now runs pretty well. Thorny issues associated with the System when it was new have mostly disappeared. Brands I currently recommend, RRA, S&W, NGA, BCM, Doublestar, LMT, Daniel Defense, Noveske, Sabre-Tech, are all up to serious tasks. Their rifles are what we refer to as “Operator Grade.” Floor price is currently 1k.

Conversely, there are also non-serious target/competition rifles, masquerading as ARs, in circulation. These are known as “Hobby-Grade.” They are designed strictly for non-serious tasks and, accordingly, are not recommended. Some are relatively cheap, but not all.



19 Apr 11

AK Improvement, from an Instructor:

“The AK Platform runs well, no matter where they’re made. I currently have an Arsenal SGL21, and I have had no issues with it. It is a gem (in the rough)!

On the other hand, ubiquitous Soviet-style AK flat sights are less than satisfactory. For a long time, I’ve looked for a low-mounted rail that would mount on the side-rail, centered over the bolt, rather than forward.

I finally found one that works! Made in Belarus, it’s the Kalinka BP-02L mount

I received a copy last week, snapped it in place with the throw lever, stuck an Aimpoint on the top, and instantly converted my Arsenal AK into a slick, fast fighting rifle that even I can use effectively

The mount is solid, but it doesn’t co-witness with iron sights, as it sits too low. However, I can remove the whole thing in a second or two, so that issue is, at least, a minor one.

So far, this is the best, quickest, and sturdiest mount that I have run across for the AK Platform.

It is surely worth considering for anyone who wants to upgrade their AK.”

Comment: Soviet-style rear sights are indeed difficult to use for all but the eagle-eyed. There are lots of AKs circulation that would benefit from this upgrade!



19 Apr 11

More AR comments, from a noted riflesmith:

“I have assembled, and repaired, many ARs! Nearly all functionality issues have been directly connected with bolt/bolt-carrier assembly, extractor, and chamber.

I’ve seen bolt-carrier interiors so rough that the bolt would barely move, regardless of adequate lubrication. Loose gas keys also used to be common, as were extractors that were so dull they would not dependably grab a case. And, of course, chambers too tight, and with such inadequate leade, that rifling would grab the bullet upon chambering. And, these faulty barrels were fraudulently stamped, ‘5.56!’

Defective parts came mostly from ‘reputable’ suppliers. I have never attempted to buy cheap parts.

As you indicated, those days are mostly gone now. Current rifles from the manufacturers you recommend are mostly good to go, right out of the box.

For one, I’ve settled on BCM bolt carrier assemblies. They are unfailingly dimensioned correctly, are universally finished well, inside and out, and bolts are individually ‘MP-tested’ and so marked. There are probably others just as good, but I’ve never seen any that are better!

The other quantum improvement is coatings. High-tech coatings, like NGA’s ceramic, Robar’s NP3, Nickel/Boron, and Melonite vastly contribute to reliable operation and corrosion resistance. At a minimum, bolts and bolt-carriers should be so treated.

Finally, all these wonderful advances will be rendered pointless when you use poor-quality magazines! Always mate your high-tech rifle with high-quality magazines, like P-Mags. ”

Comment: Add to the “Recommended List” DSA’s AR/CQB and LaRue’s OBR, both suburb, Operator-grade rifles. Shame on me inadvertently omitting these in the previous Quip!

At long last, the AR is what it can be!



20 Apr 11

ADCOR Defense at Jensen’s in Loveland, CO

ADCOR Defense, makers of an innovative gas-piston AR, will be putting on an elaborate display of their GPR (Gas-Piston Rifle) at Jensen’s in Loveland, CO on 14 May 11 (Sat). This weapon is new to me, but ADCOR is marketing it aggressively, and Jensen’s is the premier gun retailer in the state of Colorado. ADCOR’s GPR retails for 1.7k, and up, so it is on the high end of the AR market. Charging-handle is on the forend (H&K style), left or right side, at the shooter’s option. This is a good chance to get your hands on a copy, as well as other denizens of Jensen’s extensive inventory of serious rifles, including XCRs, PTRs, AKs, FALs, M1As, SCARs, et al, as well as shotguns, pistols, and accessories.

The local Chapter of the Marine Corps League is simultaneously hosting their annual BBQ, also at Jensen’s, so it is going to be quite an affair!

Despite the current, prolonged economic downturn, Americans are enthusiastically buying serious weapons and hoarding ammunition, at least the smart ones! The more knowledgeable people you converse with, and the more weapons you get your hands on, the better buying choices you’ll be capable of making!

You can call Jensen’s at 970 663 5994



20 Apr 11

Lesson in preparedness, from a friend and Instructor:

“I took some of my grandchildren on a field-trip to VA last week. We stayed at a nice hotel, which, as it turned out, had also been selected by a tornado!

Late in the evening, after the children were in bed, my wife and I were relaxing over a few drinks by the pool. We turned on a television in order to catch local news, and watched with great interest as regular programming was interrupted with a report of a tornado ‘watch,’ which quickly morphed into a tornado ‘warning!’ The weather map showed that we were directly in its path!

We sprung into action, dumping our drinks and jumping into street-cloths. Of course, we donned our pistols, blades, and flashlights. My wife went to wake the children, while I went to the front desk to see about the hotel’s evacuation plan.

I found the ‘night-manager’ intently watching basketball! When I asked him where we could seek suitable shelter, I got a blank stare! When I pointed out the weather-alert scrolling, in red, across the top of his TV screen, he started mumbling incoherently. A binder I discovered at the front desk was useless. All suggested ‘shelters’ were out of the question due to large windows. Now clearly panicked, the clerk muttered something about informing guests. I cut him off mid-sentence, indicating that I would not be wasting any more time with him, and that I had a plan for my family. He, and other guests, were his problem!

As it turned out, the twister missed us. Others were not so lucky!

One valuable lesson: Two of the grandchildren had no real shoes, just flip-flops. They could barely walk, much less run. I told their mother that, from now on, she will send them with real shoes, or we’ll immediately return them to her!”

Comment: The level of naive, clueless unpreparedness of many Americans is difficult to understand. Even with warning signs flashing (literally), many, probably most, automatically lapse into denial, foolishly squandering critical seconds, because facing the truth is “just too unpleasant.”

The technical term for these dolts is “statistics!”



25 Apr 11

The “Servile” (slave) Wars

Between 135BC and 71BC, a series of three slave rebellions took place within the Roman Republic/Empire, then still in it’s Expansive Phase. The First lasted three years; the Second, four. The Third, barely two.

Within Roman military culture at the time, scant glory attached to putting down domestic insurrections among disgruntled, disordered rabble, and thus few commanders of note sought command of such operations, preferring instead headline-grabbing victories against foreign/national armies outside national borders, although most such “armies,” whether in Gaul, Britain, Africa, or the Iberian Peninsula, were little more than loosely-organized rabble themselves!

Roman governor/commander, Suetonius, would make this sad discovery decades later, in 61AD, in Briton, even after putting down the Boadicean Rebellion in probably the most lopsided victory in Roman military history. Unhappily, trouncing “rabble” did nothing to enhance his resume!

Accordingly, the “Servile Wars,” garnered scant attention from most Roman historians. We would know today far more details if they had! The first two, taking place on the Island of Sicily thirty-one years apart and having no political, nor genetic, connection with each other, are virtually unknown today. The third (and last), the Spartacan Rebellion, took place on the Italian Mainland and did garner the attention, and for a while the distress, of the Roman Senate. However, it, too, would be mostly unacknowledged today (at least in America), were it not for the 1960 feature film, of the same title, staring Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis.

Taking place twenty-seven years after the Second, and again having no political, nor genetic, connection, the Third Servile War, also known as the “Gladiatorial War” or the “Spartacan Rebellion” was the shortest-lived of the three, lasting between 73BC and 71BC. Afterward, between 71BC and the year “0,” Rome was relatively quiet!

Little is known about Spartacus himself, except that he was an inspiring and extremely clever military/political commander. His uncanny ability to convert a mostly uneducated, untrained, diversely-ethnic collection of runaway slaves, disaffected gladiators, and hangers-on into a astonishingly effective military force is carefully studied, even today. However, contrary to the way he is portrayed in the movie, Spartacus was as ruthless and remorseless as any bandit/brigand of the era, and had no compunction about brutally raiding and plundering, as necessary, in order to keep his Band fed and equipped.

In fact, it was the love of their short-lived, but freewheeling, tenure of mostly-unopposed plunder that ultimately seduced Spartacus and his co-commanders into remaining on the Italian Peninsula, only to be ultimately trapped there and defeated, rather than exiting to the north when they had the chance (which, by all accounts, had been the original plan), where it is unlikely they would have been pursued by Roman Legions. Of course, no matter where they chose to go, they knew full-well that a warm welcome was improbable!

Born in present-day Bulgaria, Spartacus probably came from a noble family and thus had a good education. He was also likely associated with the Roman military, perhaps even serving for a time as a Legionnaire, because he was intimately familiar with Roman military doctrine, tactics, weapons, and politics. At some point, he suffered a reversal or fortune, and he found himself disenfranchised and in a Roman gladiatorial training camp, along with many others whose luck similarly had run out, and who were looking forward only to a bleak, and short, future!

In 73BC, Spartacus led a revolt within his training camp. Using only eating utensils and other improvised weapons, he and his cohorts overpowered guards, broke out and, in the process seized other, more formal, weapons. They numbered fewer than one hundred. However, within two years, their numbers would exceed 100k!

Rome’s best soldiers were occupied at the time on various frontiers, so lesser, “interior guard” forces were casually sent out to round-up Spartacus and his unruly escapees. However, in a subsequent series of stunning reversals, Sparticus ingeniously out-generaled, and routed, them all! It became painfully obvious to the Roman Senate that Spartacus’ rapidly-growing Band was a legitimate, indeed superior, fighting force and represented a real threat to the Republic.

Marcus Licinius Crassus, a wealthy Roman businessman and part-time general, stepped forward and volunteered to lead a force to track down and destroy Spartacus’ Band once and for all! Crassus had personally witnessed local Legions progressively going soft, so his plan was to crack the whip among his own forces before going after Sparticus. He did, in spades, making few friends along the way, but, in the end, his harsh discipline paid off. When his forces were ready, Crassus started the Pursuit, in earnest!

What followed was a series of indecisive engagements, which had the effect of progressively attriting Spartacus’s best troops. Sparticus himself was forced to confront the fact that, unlike his predecessors, Crassus was no amateur. He was utterly relentless, unhesitatingly expending whatever resources necessary, in his goal of destroying the Rebellion. Sparticus knew his days of intrepid plundering were rapidly coming to an end, and that his chances of ultimately defeating Crassus, and his hardened Legions, were nil.

So, Sparticus devised an escape plan. He and his followers were now in the “toe” of the Peninsula, having been chased there by Crassus, so there was no longer any possibility of exiting the Peninsula to the north. Knowing of previous slave revolts on the nearby Island of Sicley, Sparticus decided to arrange with local pirates for he and his Band to be transported there, thinking that many potential recruits awaited him when he arrived.

No such luck! Spartacus was double-crossed by the pirates (probably due to intervention by Roman agents) with whom he had made the deal. No ships would arrive.

Crassus, now joined by additional Legions under Gnaeus Pompeius (hastily pulled out of Spain to assist in putting down the Rebellion) knew he had Sparticus cornered. In fact, he built a wall and ditch, from sea to sea, to prevent escape, a remarkable feat of engineering in its own right!

In an equally remarkable feat, Startacus broke through the wall, but was thereafter quickly surrounded and forced to fight it out. As a final act of defiance, Sparticus crucified a young captured Roman soldier, hoisting him high enough for his comrades to see him suffering. This act, of course, infuriated Crassus and his troops, setting the stage for the battle, and aftermath, that followed.

The final Battle, at Silarus, near Brundisium, saw the vast majority of Sparticus’ fighters, probably including Sparticus himself, killed. A mere six thousand were captured alive, although most of them were wounded. At Crassus’ order, all were crucified at precise intervals along the Via Appia (the Peninsula’s main north/south road), and left to rot on the cross. He made sure none of them would never fight again, nor would most others who saw their anguished fate!

The Rebellion was definitively over. For the next several hundred years, there would not be another significant “slave rebellion” in Rome!

Curiously, the “first” Battle of Silarus had been fought 141 years earlier, on the same ground. That is when Hannibal of Carthage decisively defeated a Roman force under Marcus Centenius Penula.

Rome was more fortunate this time!

In the aftermath, bitter contention broke out between Pompeius and Crassus, as both claimed credit for the victory. Venomous distrust ever-characterized their relationship thereafter. In an effort to make Spartacus look even more clever and formidable than he really was, and in the process make their own victory appear more significant than it really was (much as had been the case with Scripo, when he defeated Hannibal), both Crassus and Pompeius heaped complements upon Spartacus for years afterward, and prominently noted them in their respective resumes.

Crassus, in an attempt to further enhance his military resume above Pompeius’, eighteen years later led a force into modern-day Turkey, where he was killed, along with his son, in 53BC, at the Battle of Carrhea. He was sixty-two.

Pompeius (Pompey) subsequently went into politics, which included an uneasy alliance with an ambitious Julius Caesar, eventually leading to Pompeius’ assassination (at Caesar’s behest) in 48BC. When he died, Pompey was fifty-eight.


“‘Shibumi’ is a Japanese word that loosely translates to ‘effortless perfection.’ Anything that is Shibumi is quiet in refinement, noble, and fulfilling in a manner not shaped exclusively by analytical thought. In Japanese culture, Shibumi implies ‘simplicity of spirit,’ an attitude of refinement without pretense, honesty without apology, beauty without gaudiness. Shibumi must be found, not won. Shibumi is understanding, rather than knowledge. It is harmony, in action. In art, it is understated beauty, elegant brevity. In philosophy, it is spiritual tranquility that is not passive; it is ‘being,’ without the constant anxiety of ‘becoming.’ In serious fighting, it is ‘No wasted parts; no wasted motions.’”

Rick Wiggington

“In times of disorder, fanatics play a prominent role. In times of peace, it is critics. Both are shot the day after the Revolution!”

Edmund Wilson



27 Apr 11

Easy Targets!

During an attack by terrorists, gang-members, political goons, et al, you’ll not know a lot more than you do!

Is this really serious? Who are they? What are their goals? Whom are they after? What kinds of weapons do they have? How sophisticated are they? How long will it take for police to arrive and become effective in some way? How many of them are there? How wide-spread is it?

You’ll likely not have answers to any of those questions, at least in the short term.

In most cases, the immediate, and most important, question for you personally will be:

Should I

[a] hide?

[b] surrender?

[c] run away?

We all need to understand one thing: In most cases where modern VCAs are involved, all hostages are dead! It is unlikely any will be rescued by outside forces. Becoming a hostage needs to be avoided at all costs, as you’re probably going to die anyway when you become one!

“Lock-downs” are currently in vogue, at least in American schools. The strategy is not popular in other countries, and for good reason! It is nearly impossible to find an example of a child being shot as he or she runs away from the source of danger, in any direction. It is far more common for children to be shot as they cringe in place, helpless and motionless.

During the Mumbai event, two couples on the dance floor of the Taj Mahal Hotel tried to run away from gun-wielding terrorists. A terrorist commanded them all to stop. One couple obeyed and simultaneously raised their hands in surrender. The other couple kept running. The couple that kept running, got away. The couple that stopped and surrendered were both shot to death seconds later, as they turned around!

When you’re armed, of course, you’ll have options the unarmed won’t, but, either way, my advice is to exit the area at the first sign of danger. When you perceive gunshots, people screaming, explosions and flying debris, fire, and mass confusion, don’t let curiosity kill you! Exit quietly when you can, but run away as fast as you are able when necessary. When possible, run in a zig-zag pattern. When those with you hesitate, leave them behind.

Terrorists might shoot at you as you’re running away, and they might be successful, but they’ll likely be a lot more successful when you’re standing still! A single person running away is not a high priority for most terrorists, particularly when there are plenty of other, easy potential hostages who are handily accessible, paralyzed, and motionless.

Any time you find yourself in an institutional setting, such as an office building, work place, or school, and you hear someone, anyone, saying, “Stay where you are and remain calm,” ignore them and aggressively exit, without delay. They’re saying it for their benefit, not yours! Get out immediately, as fast as you can, any way you can, anywhere you can, pushing others aside when necessary, breaking windows/doors when necessary, ignoring “orders,” when necessary.

Terrorists may have a detailed plan, and they may not. Either way, they’re weakest and most disorganized at the beginning. Your chances for successful escape diminish significantly with every second you hesitate.

Whatever happens, the incident will not have a happy ending! Always have an exit/escape plan, be in constant motion, and don’t become a hostage! Insure that other family members with you are cued-in, and all on the same page.

You won’t get a chance to “do it over!”



28 Apr 11

Case in Point, from a friend in Chicago:

“Your last Quip was a timely reminder.

Yesterday afternoon, as I stepped out of my office building in downtown Chicago, I was suddenly greeted by dozens of emergency vehicles with lights flashing, clogging the street in front of me.

Huge crowds choked sidewalks on both sides of the street, and scores of uniformed police officers, more than I’ve ever seen on one place, were moving through the crowds and congregating in groups.

Everyone’s attention was focused on a single, large building. Both ends of the block had been closed to traffic, and evidence-tape had been set up around the entrance. A massive Chicago Fire Department Hazardous Materials Vehicle sat idling in front. Multiple news crews were hurriedly setting up cameras.

I found myself moving slowly through the crowd, trying to catch pieces of conversations, staring up at the building (along with everyone else), intensely curious about the situation. I stopped for a moment on the sidewalk in front of a group of CPD officers and considered asking them what was going on.

As I pondered, I heard, literally, your voice run through my head:

‘Hey, Dummy! Shut up! Find an exit and keep moving. Get out of there!’

I was immediately pulled back into reality! I quickly realized that I had already dithered far too long. I scanned for the best exit, picked up my pace, quickly rounded a corner, and got away from the area as rapidly as I could.

It turned out to be a benign ‘suspicious package,’ but the President was in town, so it was taken seriously by the PD and FD… all of which I later discovered as I watched the evening news from the relative safety and comfort of my home!”

Lesson: It’s all too easy, in a moment of weakness, to allow natural curiosity to drive, when detached reason needs to be at the wheel, always!

Your life depends on it!