Saturday, September 16, 2006

Update to Nurse Strangling Intruder

It looks like the nurse I referred to in the last entry wasn't attacked by a random intruder. He was a hitman. Not a very good one, but a hitman. Her estranged husband seems to have hired the deceased because his wife wouldn't reconcile with him.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Fine Example of the Self Defense Mindset

Nurse Strangles Intruder With Bare Hands

- - - - - - - - - - - -

September 08,2006 | PORTLAND, Ore. -- A nurse returning from work discovered an intruder armed with a hammer in her home and strangled him with her bare hands, police said.

Susan Kuhnhausen, 51, ran to a neighbor's house after the confrontation Wednesday night. Police found the body of Edward Dalton Haffey 59, a convicted felon with a long police record.

Police said there was no obvious sign of forced entry at the house when Kuhnhausen, an emergency room nurse at Providence Portland Medical Center, got home from work shortly after 6 p.m.

Under Oregon law people can use reasonable deadly force when defending themselves against an intruder or burglar in their homes. Kuhnhausen was treated and released for minor injuries at Providence.

Haffey, about 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, had convictions including conspiracy to commit aggravated murder, robbery, drug charges and possession of burglary tools. Neighbors said Kuhnhausen's size -- 5-foot-7 and 260 pounds -- may have given her an advantage.

"Everyone that I've talked to says 'Hurray for Susan,' said neighbor Annie Warnock, who called 911. "You didn't need to calm her. She's an emergency room nurse. She's used to dealing with crisis."
I'm sorry that she had to do this without the physical and psychological distance a firearm would have given her. On the other hand, good for her. She did better than most people would have.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Fine Leatherwork

I just received two superb examples of the leatherworker's craft from Chas Clements of Denver. The first is a book weight modelled after the classic from St. John's College in Santa Fe, NM. It's made from soft leather (elk hide?)and nicely outlines a page from a typical hardback. The other is a soft sap, a slightly larger version of his standard Bouncer's Pal.

It's hard speak too highly of Chas' work. His pieces are very well constructed, almost over-engineered. The choice of materials, quality of craftsmanship and attention to detail are all top-notch. He also does other leather goods - cases, belts, holsters and the like.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Is This the Face of the Urban Future?

Back on August 11th there was a bank robbery in Tacoma. This isn't really news unless you live there. It wouldn't be except that the three people arrested were Army Rangers. That got me thinking. The diagnosed rate of stress disorder for returning vets is about 1 in 10 or 1 in 5 depending on whose statistics you believe. Returning veterans are finding it difficult to get work where "difficult" means an unemployment rate of fifteen percent for younger vets. There have already been a couple cases of soldiers and Marines coming back with their urban warfare reflexes intact - unable to deal with American cities as anything except a war zone. At the same time wages are a smaller fraction of GDP than at any time in the last 47 years. Real wages are at best holding steady while benefits are shrinking and vacations are disappearing. In short, it is not a good time to be a returning veteran from Iraq.

This would be bad enough if the military had its usual high caliber of recruits. Unfortunately, that's no longer the case. The only way the Pentagon has been able to maintain manpower has been by "stop loss" - keeping servicemen and women after their hitch is up - stretching the National Guard and Reserves beyond reason, calling up the Individual Ready Reserve and lowering standards.

How are they lowering standards? The Army has tempered its policy of zero tolerance towards fascists and neo-Nazis. They are getting into the military with the specific goal of getting combat skills. More recruits are getting in with criminal records of a sort that would formerly have disqualified them from the Service. The Army has even upped the proportion of Category IV recruits, high school dropouts and those who score in the lowest third of the AFQT from two percent to twelve. In a military which increasingly relies on complex skills and advanced technology this is alarming.

What's the problem? A bunch of guys who aren't too smart will end up carrying rifles. A few people with criminal records will learn to fear their sergeants so much that they'll turn into soldiers, Marines, airmen or sailors. During WWII and the later parts of the Vietnam War the military would take almost anyone.

Aside from the implications for the nation's defense I'm afraid that it means serious trouble for law enforcement. Sooner or later they will come back. Most will reintegrate into society. But there will be a large number of unemployed or unemployable young men and women with professional experience in urban warfare. More than the regular number will be pre-disposed towards crime or violent political extremism. If our last extended war is any indication many of them will be badly psychologically damaged. It sounds like the makings of a perfect storm. It won't happen all at once, but I predict that we will be paying for the current war for years through professionally executed violent crime. Bank robberies may be only the beginning. Home invasions done by groups with combat experience clearing houses? Criminal gangs who are better trained than the police who oppose them? It sounds bad. So far it hasn't been part of the national consciousness.

I'm afraid that that will not last.

A Weekend of Sera, or Boil Me In Dit Da Jow

This weekend was Guru Plinck's second annual Sera weekend. It's primarily for his students although others are sometimes invited and generally welcome. This year was a little bit smaller than last time. It was still an excellent event. A couple people from out of town showed up, notably Bobbe Edmonds from Seattle.

The large floors of our old venue in St. John's have mostly been walled in, and the Capoeira school which had offered to host the event evaporated. The people at The Place to Shoot and Portland Thai Boxing & Martial Arts were kind enough to rent us their facility on very short notice. A local barbecue joint, known as Honey B's or Loiusiana Ed's depending on how long you've been in Portland, provided dinner Saturday at a very reasonable price.

It was sort of like Guru Plinck's regular classes, except that it lasted fifteen hours. Sensitivity drills, fundamentals, footwork, handwork, body mechanics, distance, timing, juru-juru and ground fighting. There was more emphasis this year on strong limber legs and working low to the ground. As the Guru says "Your martial arts are only as good as your base". What was almost completely missing in the stand-up portion of the program was technique. Most of us were his students. The rest all had strong martial arts backgrounds. We already have more technique than we'll ever use. The emphasis was on developing skill and understanding so that we can make what we have work.

Everyone seemed to have a great time and learned a lot. We're looking forward to next year, maybe on a more convenient date.