Saturday, January 24, 2015

Identify the Weapon

I was walking by Notre Dame yesterday and saw the usual Police Nationale patrols. They are now wearing body armor. One of them was carrying a familiar looking sub machine gun that I have not been able to identify. According to Wikipedia, they use Ruger Mini 14s but this weapon looked like the familiar M3 "Grease Gun" in that it had a cylindrical body. However the barrel was shorter than the M3. The magazine was a straight clip that probably held 20 or so 9mm rounds. I have not been able to find any modern sub machine guns that look like this one did. Is it possible they are using some modified M3s from WW II? Anybody have any thoughts?

Found it! A Beretta M12.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pssst...You Got any Charlie Hebdo?

Finding the magazine Charlie Hebdo has been difficult. Most news stands sold out early and I have been waiting for the second printing. As I was walking back to the apartment tonight, I saw a girl buy one from the local kiosk. So I walked up and asked, "Avez vous Charlie Hebdo?" "Of course I have Charlie Hebdo" the middle eastern looking guy replied and I gave him 3 euros.

He reached under the counter and then rolled it up so that the front cover would be hidden before he handed it to me. I wasn't sure if was doing that because he was Muslim or what.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Book Review - The Bridge

This is the latest in the Robert Parker's ghost written series featuring Cole and Hitch by Robert Knott. I looked back to see if I had reviewed the previous two books by Knott but I had not. I guess that I was just not impressed enough to put in the effort. This book also does nothing to change that opinion and I feel I must warn you about it.

The plot starts with the destruction of a major bridge but that story line is quickly dropped and the author takes us to the home life of Cole and Hitch as Allie anticipates the arrival of a theater troup. In this troup is a mysterious fortune teller that Hitch takes up with (duh!). She predicts danger ahead for our hero (double duh).

The story drags on with little movement towards a resolution of the crisis at hand. Instead, we are treated to pages and pages of one line dialog between our two boys about almost anything except the key plot line. When the story is finally resolved, it is anti-climatic with almost no literary tension.

Read it if you must, but DO NOT expect a reincarnation of Robert Parker. I mean, what can you expect from the guy who wrote "Coneheads"?

Naval History

I was walking to Luxembourg Gardens today when I passed this location. John Paul Jones of "I have not yet begun to fight" and " I wish to have no connection with a ship that does not sail fast for I intend to go in harms way", hero of the Revolution and Father of the Navy, died in Paris in 1792 at the age of 45.

Jones had a colorful career. He was a harsh disciplinarian and was often at odds with his superiors. And like many soldiers, he didn't do well during peace time. After the American Revolution, he found employment under Catherine the Great for the Russians. He got in a bit of a controversy there and returned to France. He died in Paris (from kidney disease) and was buried in a royal cemetery.

After the French Revolution, all royal property was seized and the location of his grave was lost. It was not located again until the US ambassador (Civil War General Horace Porter) decided to find it in 1905. Using old maps and a description of Jones' coffin (He was buried in a lead lined casket filled with alcohol in case America wanted to bring his body back home,) he was able to locate Jones body and confirm its identification. Jones was then shipped back to the US and interred at the USNA where he now lies in a tomb rivalling Nelsons.

If you want a complete history of his last days and the search for John Paul Jones body, go here.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Tech Problems

Blogger seems to have problems uploading my photographs. I've got a couple of posts pending because of this issue.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Seen on the Streets of Paris

I've noticed a couple of things since I returned to Paris after the Charlie Hebdo attack. First, The military patrols now consist of a full squad of 7 soldiers instead of the usual fire team of 3. They are organized in the familiar squad column formation with full 360 degree security. And all are carrying the FAMAS assault rifle.

Second, I see almost no muslims on the trains or the streets. Before the attack, women in head scarves were prevalent. Muslims could often be seen reading the Koran during their train commute. Now they are nowhere to be seen. Train ridership seems to be lighter. I'm not sure if that is because of the lack of muslims riders or of a public fear of an attack on the train system. I subscribe to an automatic alert about problems on the Metro and there has been an increase of the number of service interruptions due to "suspect packages".

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Charlie Hebdo and Unintended Consequences

Everywhere in Paris there are signs in support of Charlie Hebdo, free speech and against Islamic terror. Islamic terrorists have managed to take an obscure publication with a circulation of about 60,000 and bring it international notoriety such that a press run of 3,000,000 copies were sold out in hours. On top of that, Paris is putting 10,000 military on the streets. Somebody over there in Sand Land needs to do a little demographic research and realize that their actions are not having the desired result.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Paris Street Iron

Saw this on Rue Buci in Paris on Sunday:

It's a "Facel III". FACEL was a French sheet metal stamping company that went into the automobile business in 1954, FACEL stands for Forges et Ateliers de Construction d'Eure-et-Loir. This was their sports car version. It had a 1.6 liter 4 cylinder DOHC engine. The cam shafts on this engine only had 2 bearings each. The engine manufacturer was being innovative and used special steel instead of adding bearings. Unfortunately, the cam flexed too much, the engine lost timing and broke. A new CEO tried to fix it by replacing the bad engines with Volvo power plants but it was too late. The company went belly up in 1964.
Prominent owners included Ava Gardner, Joan Collins and Ringo Starr. Pixar put one in the movie Ratatouille.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Self Explanatory

"I'd rather die standing up than live on my knees."

(Charlie Hebdo)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Book Review - Full Force and Effect

I am usually approach ghost written novels with caution but Mark Greany has proven himself now with a total of 5 novels written for the Tom Clancy franchise. His latest follows the continuing adventures of young Jack Ryan as he and his covert team from "The Campus" work to thwart North Korea's plans to corner the rare earth market. The book is full of non stop action and is a good one to have in your bag if you are facing a long flight.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Head Count

Saudi Arabia beheaded 13 criminals in December. They were a mix of murderers, druggies and a rapist. This brings their 2014 total to 82 as we reset the counter for 2015.