Category: Useful Shit
How many of you have had a great experience with your health insurance company? Who here can say that their health insurance company is altruistic, easy to contact and forever has their best interest at heart? Just a quick show of hands. Take your time. I’ll wait.
You should never type while angry. That’s sage advice, to be sure. However, I’m about to, with malice and aforethought, intentionally ignore it.
I’m going to give you a peek behind the curtain that surrounds the modern practice of medicine in America. While all jobs have their administrative headaches, these are mine. If anyone gets their feelings hurt, then I hate it for you.
As part of some truly diabolical medical research, the Nazis forced certain Jews in the death camps to fill out a questionnaire while standing at a podium. The form was of a prescribed length and asked a bunch of mundane demographic questions. After the forms were completed, the Germans just threw them away. They didn’t care one whit about the information. It was simply that to fill out the forms, you had to stand still for a set period of time while a powerful x-ray emitter built into the podium irradiated your groin.
The point was not to gather information. The point was to bombard these poor unfortunates with high-intensity x-rays in hopes of creating a quick and convenient way of sterilizing large numbers of people without their knowledge. Needless to say, that didn’t work. Such a scheme seems about par for the course for the Nazis, the absolute scum of the earth. Now hold that thought …
PA is a Four-Letter Word
Forgive my bias, but from my perspective, it seems that your health insurance company doesn’t much care whether you live or die. They would sell your kidneys on eBay if they thought they could get a decent rate of return.
There are times that literally half of my professional day is spent worshipping at the profane altar of modern electronic medical records, all the while trying to placate the dark gods of plaintiff’s attorneys and health insurance companies. To wit …
Insurance companies have done a splendid job of shaping my prescribing practices toward cheap generic drugs. In fact, we no longer see drug reps at my clinic simply because I am sick of fighting insurance companies to get them to pay for any drug that costs more than about a nickel a month. As a result, when I prescribe an expensive branded medication, it is always because I already can’t divine a cheaper alternative.
Now, health insurance companies could just explain to the patient in straightforward prose that they will only cover cheap meds and that anything else is the patient’s responsibility. However, that’s not how they do it. They just demand a PA.
In medical parlance, PA stands for prior authorization. I have no idea who ever thought this was a good idea. Satan, the Lord of Darkness, would be my guess.
The online PA clearing house is called covermymeds.com, like consolidating this diabolical monster into a single digital location is somehow doing me a favor. I have to log in and then work through a series of online menus begging the insurance company to approve a patient’s medications. Sometimes they demand to know everything that has been tried before and failed. These are things that only the patient knows, and they’ve already gone back home. I don’t have time to do these stupid things until late at night when the rest of the day’s work is done.
The one I did yesterday, by contrast, only had me laboriously enter the name, address, phone number, and sundry other mundane information about my clinic, all stuff that is available automatically from dozens of sites online. They didn’t ask anything about my patient or his history. All this just takes time.
On a slow day, I’ll see 20 patients. A stupid busy day flirts with 40. Spending 10 minutes verifying my address online so some insurance company will cover Eliquis (a fairly safe but expensive blood thinner) for an 82-year-old woman who honestly cannot manage her own coumadin (a fairly dangerous but cheap blood thinner) is time I just don’t have. And, just like the Nazis, that is the point. If they can put enough artificial impediments in my way, maybe I’ll just give up. The patient won’t get the medicines they need, but taking care of sick people is my problem, not theirs.
Some medicines are just stupidly expensive. I get it. I really do. Somebody has to pay for all those obscene billboards adorning every goat trail in America. You know the ones I’m talking about. There will be some two-story grinning ape in a suit alongside stuff like “1-800-SUE-ANYTHING-THAT-BREATHES. We work hard to get you more.”
Nobody wants to see insurance executives sitting on the side of the road holding signs that say, “Will frivolously waste your time for food.” Actually, never mind. Upon further introspection, that might be kind of cool.
The one-year anniversary of Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine was marked by a torrent of commentary and events remarking on what the war has meant and speculation about what is in store. For the most part, however, there has been little reflection on how much was incorrectly assessed since late 2021, particularly by persons or institutions who were wrong. That may be one of the biggest lessons of the war that should be taken to heart in 2023 and beyond: Assessments must be better.
It is hard to measure in hindsight what the consensus was, but it is worth reviewing some of the dominant projections and views and just how wrong they were. Here are a few, for example: “Russia would not invade Ukraine.” It did. “If Russia invaded Ukraine, it would only have minor aims in the Donbas.” Its goals were far larger. “Russia would crush the Ukrainian military in a couple of weeks.” It did not.
Western anti-tank weapons such as the Lockheed Martin Javelin and Saab’s NLAW were decisive. They helped Ukraine but did not defeat Russia. Tanks were again pronounced obsolete. Yet Ukraine wants at least 300 tanks, and Poland announced major orders from the U.S. and South Korea. The value of rotary-wing aircraft also was questioned after an initial Russian helicopter assault failed. But then Poland ordered Boeing AH-64 Apaches, and the U.S. proceeded to award a Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft contract to Bell Textron.
Another projection was that sanctions and export controls would crush Russia’s economy. They have imposed costs on Russia, but it is manufacturing weapons that include Western microelectronics, and its economy is not in the gutter.
Some observers said China would not dare help Russia. But it has in minor ways, and China could provide substantially more help in 2023. Some said that Putin would not risk a broader mobilization of Russia or that he would fall. Putin has mobilized more widely, but he has not fallen. Many expected that Ukraine would not be able to mount a major counteroffensive, and yet it has. And there were worries that countries in the Middle East and North Africa would starve and Europe would freeze. Fortunately, neither has happened.
I used to work for a research director who stated that “surprises” were a Wall Street myth. Someone knew if a quarter’s shipments were going to be missed or there was a major cost overrun. A turnaround could be delivering far better results than recognized by outsiders. Bob Lutz of Chrysler discusses this in his book Guts.
“Surprises” also may be a military-geopolitical myth. The U.S. and other European intelligence communities were prescient in warning that Russia would invade. People who had observed Russian military exercises or worked with its military units could attest to its performance. Some individuals know how Russian logistics and maintenance compare with NATO practices and standards. Some know the quality of Ukraine’s officers and soldiers.
Another “surprise” is economic and defense-industrial: In the spring of 2022, analyses noted how dependent Russia’s industry had become on European and Asian machine tools. Coupled with the brain drain of Russian engineers fleeing the country, I thought its defense sector would face insurmountable problems supplying the military.
Clearly, Russia’s defense sector has struggled, but the Royal Services Institute has done excellent work documenting how Western microelectronics are still finding their way into Russian weapons. Data compiled by Matt Klein and published on his blog “The Overshoot” shows that the value of total exports at the end of 2022 were 15% below their monthly preinvasion average.
Some current and emerging narratives on the Russia-Ukraine war are worth probing. One is the provision of Western combat aircraft to Ukraine, notably Lockheed Martin F-16s. The fighters will be provided eventually, I expect, but I doubt they will be decisive in tipping the balance of the war in Ukraine’s favor.
Another narrative is that no end to the war is in sight. I don’t know how this war will end, but wars typically end in a negotiated armistice or cease-fire—the Korean War in 1953, multiple Arab-Israeli wars, Iran and Iraq in 1988 and the Desert Storm conflict of 1991 are all examples. Or they end with the total defeat and collapse of one of the combatants, such as happened in South Vietnam in 1975 and Iraq in 2003.
Surprises are part of war, as 2022 has amply demonstrated, and we are certain to see more surprises in 2023 that confound dominant narratives. Ukraine’s offensive could be highly successful in routing Russian forces. Or Ukraine could lose the armor and other kit supplied to it in a poorly executed offensive against a Russian military that might have learned from events last year.
Contributing columnist Byron Callan is a director at Capital Alpha Partne
An unassuming, relatively kind man has been sitting alone at the bar…His name is Poland and he is a regular here.
China and Korea (also regulars) are sitting at a table. They usually just hangout and keep to themselves. One is enjoying a rum and coke. The other, a red-bull vodka (respectively).
Every once in a while Poland runs into his buddies Britain and France, but neither are here at the moment. Poland being Poland, contents himself with a drink or three, wondering if his friends might show.
Japan heard that China and Korea were at the bar though. Japan figured he would show up and give them a hard time. Japan has a Napoleon Complex. He is sort of a maverick.
Italy goes to the same exact bar with his friend Germany. It’s the usual rabble. When they get there, Italy runs straight to the radio to pick a song. Germany slugs the beer as quickly as Switzerland the bartender provides them.
The USSR meets Germany at the bar. They usually hate each other, but fuck that guy Poland, just sitting there acting all innocent… They secretly agree to jump Poland when he decides to go take a piss.
Lest we forget Japan who just ripped a few shots of Sake. He is feeling nice.
Silently, Japan strikes!
He karate chops Korea and China at the point where neck meets shoulder…
This renders both men unconscious before they, or anyone else, even realizes that it happened.
Japan gives them a couple more whacks for good measure, steals their money, and doesn’t even leave enough coin to cover China and Korea’s tab… acting like any/all of this is perfectly acceptable…
Nobody else seems to care, which is absurd.
Italy walks over to Germany and grabs a seat.
While Italy was fiddling with the radio station, Germany got him a beer, even though he knows Italy prefers wine.
Italy dutifully drinks the beer.
Germany hopes beer will make Italy tougher.
Poland finally gets up to go take a piss!
Germany and The USSR quickly follow him.
While Poland is facing the wall urinal, relieving himself. Germany charges in and punches Poland from the left, and The USSR punches Poland from the right.
They totally catch him with his pants down.
Poland is knocked out cold and he might have serious brain damage.
Germany and The USSR agree to divide up Poland’s valuables, his watch, the cash in his wallet, even the ring on his finger.
As Germany and The USSR exit the bathroom France and Britain walk into the bar.
France is jacked, but his muscles are mostly for show. He is even more muscular than The USSR.
Britain is smart and he knows it. He knows his friends are less likely to get in trouble if he goes with them. They were supposed to meet Poland but they were not known for their timeliness.
Oh well, sorry Poland.
They go to the bar to grab a drink.
Germany and The USSR walk by France and Britain. It is fairly awkward because two of these guys do not get along well.
Germany says something about France’s mom.
France fires back and says something about Germany’s sister.
They get up in each other’s face. Most of the shit talking is incoherent. Their accents are thick, and they insist on talking over one another while pointing in random directions.
Britain just asks everyone to calm down and make some concessions. He wants to appease everyone, and wants to talk this out.
The USSR does not really want any part in the argument and walks away. He just keeps walking back to his seat. He just saw Finland walk in and he fucking hates Finland (because Finland exists).
With a glass of wine now in hand, Italy shouts encouragement to Germany over Italy’s shoulder. That’s what it sounded like at least. Italy is standing over near the radio again turning knobs. He’s searching for a radio station to listen in on a football match.
The USSR decides now is his chance to pick on little Finland. He fucking hates Finland for simply existing, and everyone else seems distracted at the moment.
He walks right over to Finland (who is sitting down drinking a brewski).
Finland gives The USSR more than he bargained for though.
While sitting down drinking a beer mind you, Finland kicks The USSR in the knee really fucking hard. The USSR lunges for him but “Fin” slides under the table and pops out on the other side.
Finland then finishes his beer and gives The USSR the middle finger.
The USSR looks like a bitch in front of his tough German friend.
Boom! Just across the bar Germany punches France straight in the gut, where he least expected. No one saw it coming. France goes down faster than anyone would have thought. Then Germany swings at Britain, but Britain dodges it and ducks out of the bar.
Britain is thinking to himself, ’holy cannoli that escalated rather quickly I dare say.’
He needs to regroup and gather his wits about him.
France is somehow already down and out for the count.
Germany rallies a few more of the Central Europeans sitting at some tables around the bar. They include Austria, Romania, and Hungary to name a few.
They join in because they want Germany to like them, and they do not want him to knock them out like he did to France. A few saw what happened to Poland and they told everybody else.
They’re a bunch of kiss-asses.
That cocky American has been drinking at the bar with his good pal The Philippines.
These two always go for the cheaper beer so they can drink them in quantity. They are trying to ignore most of this seemingly petty nonsense but the booze are getting the best of them.
It seems like Switzerland the bartender is fine with letting them drink to their hearts content.
Germany gathers his new friends. They happen over to the bar to grab more beers from Switzerland the bartender as well.
But “guess who’s back… back again?”
No it’s not Slim Shady, it’s Great Britain!
Britain rolls through. He gathered his wits, and he’s back for a good scrap. Britain shouts for Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and America to come over to his side of the bar and help a brother out.
To Britain’s credit, he was willing to stand alone either way.
America decides to go drink a beer with his buddies because fuck bullies.
America and Germany are uncomfortably close to each other now.
It’s actually rather awkward… America wants to help France, China, and Korea get back up, but Germany is not about to let that happen.
Japan feels like America needs to mind his own business and go back to his spot on the other side of the bar.
Suddenly, and without warning, Germany grabs a bowl of bar nuts and starts throwing them at Britain.
Britain starts throwing bar nuts back at Germany…
Honestly, at this point they are throwing any small to medium sized objects that they can get their hands on. Few projectiles actually hit their intended targets!
Switzerland is beside himself.
America wants to go back to his seat at the moment and enjoy his beer/s away from the ruckus and hubbub. He makes a point to give Britain an extra bowl of his fresh popcorn on the way though.
Germany notices this! He wants fresh popcorn too! What’s America’s deal!?
Germany throws bar nuts at America and pretends it wasn’t him…
Luckily, America gets back to his seat. His seat is pretty far away from Germany, so he knows he is safe for now (safe from Germany’s beer nuts at least).
Canada to his credit, endures further onslaught afield.
However, Germany’s supply of beer nuts are dwindling, and without them, he will struggle to regain the initiative!
Consequently, Germany has been contemplating the fact that The USSR has something like half of Poland’s stuff…
Germany wants ALL of Poland’s stuff (Poland had some nice stuff). He also noticed that The USSR has a slight limp now. Finland might have shown The USSR to be weaker than Germany first thought…
Could this be the opportune moment to strike?
Germany feels confident he can take on The USSR now. The USSR even sees Germany coming from across the bar and does absolutely nothing about it. He does not think Germany “has the balls.”
Nonetheless, Germany full hand bitch slaps the Soviet straight across the face, followed by a strong knee to the testicles (with surprisingly little resistance).
The USSR takes a knee, holding his genitals.
Japan runs over to Germany and says “nice one man.” Japan fucking hates The USSR more than anyone else, except maybe Finland.
Japan high fives Germany and pretty soon they are standing back to back. This is a new friendship because they used to fight each other.
It will have to do.
America, Australia, and the boys (finally) decide it’s time to help China and Korea.
Their friend The Philippines could use some help too, now that you mention it.
Basically anyone with arm’s reach of Japan has taken a few whacks.
Consequently, America tries convincing Switzerland the bartender to stop serving Japan and Germany any alcohol.
The majority of the bar is in agreement, and their supplies of alcohol begin to dwindle down to precarious levels. Switzerland is no longer inclined to replenish their stocks.
Japan and Germany are definitely going to need more alcohol (and bar nuts).
America turns to point and yell at Japan, but SMASH!!
Japan cracks a bottle across the back of America’s head then lunges after The Philippines.
“Who is America to tell anyone else how much they can have to drink!? Who said Budweiser is the ‘King’ of Beers!?”
America stumbles. The Philippines gets thoroughly pummeled in retaliation.
Germany basically refuses to realize he might be screwed now. He picked a fight with half the bar, and that is probably not exaggeration. His friends include some Central Europeans, Japan…who just took a cheap shot at America and The Philippines.
And Italy… who abruptly tries to stand and put up a fight for a change, mumbles something incoherent, only to fall face first into a table.
It would seem the table dealt more damage to Italy than Italy dealt to the table.
Take note, Italy probably should not have mixed beer and wine. He is thoroughly passed out.
You could blame Germany for that, but Italy is responsible for his own decisions.
Everyone else goes back to their altercations. Italy is left alone… but Germany’s rear is now exposed as a consequence.
Japan has his hands full fighting America who is “wicked pissed off,” and sobering up.
He figures Japan has been a real pickle, and America is going to light Japan up if he can. Japan always puts up a good fight, but he is smaller than America.
Meanwhile, The USSR finds his footing again. He gets back up, albeit slowly. He wants to confront both Germany, and Finland. The USSR is still feeling those last hits though and has to take it slow. His balls still hurt, but the fact that he is still in the fight is a commendable feat unto itself.
Germany has to focus on The USSR now. He sees the look on the guys face, realizing that he really pissed The USSR off…
(Actual picture of The Soviet Union’s face after getting kicked in the balls by Germany)
Credit – Revenant
…Germany should have thought this through more thoroughly.
Germany is trying to figure out how to best deal with The USSR. One would assume that after getting full-hand bitch slapped in the face, and kneed in the testicles, The USSR would have given up (most others would have).
Italy is still laying face down, knocked out cold, and unable to provide support in any meaningful capacity. He is unresponsive, but is clearly alive as evidenced by his rising and falling chest (indicative that Italy is in fact still breathing). Again this was largely self-inflicted.
Meanwhile, France tries to sit back up and Germany does not like this, not one bit. His attention is now divided.
America, Britain, Canada and company go over to France to help him to his feet, briefly tripping over Italy along the way.
As the Allies get close, Germany and his friends throw what few projectiles they have left. It’s a mess.
Luckily, no one has a nut allergy.
The popcorn leaves stains on everyone’s trousers though.
After running out of said projectiles, Germany attempts to kick France while he is still down. He’s a sore sport.
America, Britain, and Canada are determined to help France tho.
“Don’t make us come over there.”
Germany just stands there and taunts them with his schnitzel, calling their bluff.
So… America, Britain and Canada go over there.
Germany is now officially fucked. He should not have waved his schnitzel around like that.
France begins to get back up. And with the help of his friends, a tenuous grip on the counter, and some much needed wine, France rises to his feet.
France is wobbly but he should be alright if he has some time to get his bearings and resuscitate his pride.
Japan would go back up Germany, but he is on the other side of the bar dealing with his own problems, which are compounding.
America is a tough opponent by himself, but now he’s linked up with his home boys Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Canada, and The Philippines.
Japan steadily loses ground, but viciously, savagely defends every inch.
The USSR and Germany are duking it out now. Every once in a while, Germany manages a nice counter blow, yet this does nothing to stop The USSR.
It’s a truly epic fight of historical proportions. But, Germany has overextended himself… once again. He should’ve learned his lesson from Napoleon a century prior. You don’t attack Russia, especially in winter, unless you’re stupid and/or have a death wish.
(Note the Soviet Union is pictured in red/orange and Nazi Germany is pictured in white)
Germany’s energy is running dangerously low, he is overextended, and things are rapidly getting worse.
It is clear that Germany will lose, it’s only a matter of time. Determined to fight to the bitter end, he has two options; Keep getting his ass beat, or surrender. Most would quit by now, but not Germany.
Against all sensibility, Germany opts to get his ass kicked for a bit longer, but he finally falls to the combined force of the Allies after a few last-ditch haymakers for good measure.
From the looks of it Britain, France, America, and The USSR literally had to beat the Nazi out of him.
A new world definition to hanged-drawn-quartered.
However, they were too late to save the roughly 7-12 million innocent people (give or take) that Germany had exterminated… The numbers vary. Either way, it’s really fucked up.
Suffice to say, Germany is kaputt…
America and the boys still have their hands full with Japan though. Japan has put up a good fight, but he is steadily losing ground.
America is now determined to finish the fight at all cost, but Japan has no intention to surrender.
After repeated warnings (and pamphlets tossed about the establishment), America connects one… and then two haymakers with the chin of Japan. Both landed in quick succession. Japan gets rocked, and the aftermath is just as bad. The guy loses several teeth and bites clean through his tongue. He is concussed, bleeding, and clearly traumatized from the attacks.
An eerie, weird silence then ensues.
Japan knows that The USSR fought with America, Britain and their pals to beat up Germany and his friends. Japan also saw what happened to Poland.
Soon The USSR would come after Japan too.
Japan, tempted by Seppuku, wisely chooses to surrender to America instead.
It was a previously unthinkable act.
Everybody is stunned…
Everybody except Italy, who is somehow upright and drinking again… a warrior in his own right.
Much of the bar is once again destroyed, bodies lay strewn about, but the fight is finally over.
Hopefully nothing like this ever happens again, but humans are notoriously stupid and forgetful so who knows.
Back when I was loading trucks I used to look for this shit in pallets.
I’d snatch a can out and wait until lunch, then I’d go back to the dock about halfway through my break. I’d grab that can and find a trailer that one of my buddies (usually Greg The Whiny Li’l Bitch) was loading, then I’d depress the stem and tape it down before tossing it into the trailer and shutting the trailer door.
All the loaders would come back from lunch and the victim would pop his trailer door and stagger backwards with his eyes watering and screaming “LANE, YOU SORRY MOTHERFUCKER!!!” before shutting the door and stalking off to the shipping office.
Next thing you know, the hostler would pull the trailer away from the dock door about 3 feet, fire up the reefer and open the trailer door to blow that shit out.
The bosses made me quit doing it – not because I was wasting product but because the stench would spread over 150 yards of loading dock, gagging the entire workforce.
The only loader that didn’t mind it was Brotherman Jerome who went to an all black high school in Stockton – said that it reminded him of his first high school dance.
Trust me on this one honey, its dead!
A 1901 execution at the old Bilibid Prison, Manila, Philippines
I have to put the disclaimer and warning at the beginning of this article. The reason is very simple. Even a Martial Artist operating on an Expert Level of control of hands, elbows, knees and feet can underestimate the destructive power of weapons if they are not intimately used to them.
Weapons multiply force, that is why they are so dangerous to the human body. Even if you are used to choking techniques, a simple leather belt used to hold up your pants, if placed around the neck, can cause severe damage if used with the same force as a choke not using a mechanical device like a belt.
And yes, when you use a belt or a rope, it is a mechanical device used to multiply the force of a choke. It has no moving parts, it is still a mechanical device when attached to your hands.
What I would strongly suggest you do if you wish to train how to defeat these rear attacks is to construct a padded post to practice on.
If you use a live training partner, once the loop goes over the neck, STOP! Any attempt to throw or take down could cause severe injury, the vital structures of the neck are easily damaged, any number of incredibly serious injuries could occur, up to and including paralysis and/or death.
And, keep in mind, with a cutting garrotte, there is absolutely, positively NO WAY WHATSOEVER to practice safely with it so do not even attempt to do so.
I cannot be held responsible for your own negligent attitude, I’m writing this, I’m not doing it with you, you understand… You are strongly advised to seek Professional, safe Instruction in whatever methods you wish to study.
You are on your own, I do not advocate or condone you practicing these things. They are, in a very real way, put up here for historical purposes and for very advanced Martial Arts practitioners, including Marines and Soldiers who might find the history and information useful.
Do NOT practice these things unless you are using an inanimate “Dummy” or a padded post.
Is The Garrotte a Legitimate Self-Defense Tool?
Some people have a heavy opinion on this issue. They have opinions as to the legitimacy of the garrotte as a tool of self-preservation. Others have strong opinions as to the definition of “garrotte.”
[I’m not going to debate the spelling, I’m using Col. Rex Applegate’s spelling of the word and whenever you see me use something different, it’s a typo.]
Some people say, “Well, the garrotte is a…” and then they define it to the exclusion of anything else. The simple fact of the matter is, a “Garrotte” was an execution device that was utilized in Spain up until the mid-1970s. A few other countries used it now and again. And there were many different types of garrottes used as execution devices.
When someone says, “The garrotte is only a killing weapon…” Technically, they are correct, but they are not usually speaking of the execution device that was once used for Capital Punishment, therefore, they are incorrect in reality.
The number one deciding factor is intent. How you use it. You can use some “garrottes” as a Flexible Weapon with no intent whatsoever to kill.
The garrotte had a couple of different forms. One had a metallic collar that was placed around your neck and the collar had a threaded hole that a bolt was inserted through. On the other end of the bolt was a large “T” handle for the executioner.
The condemned was seated in a chair, the collar placed over a wooden post and the head of the prisoner, then, the executioner began to tighten the contraption until your neck was crushed or your vertebrae were dislocated, broken or crushed.
Later versions had a blade that ran through the bolt for what was thought to be a “mercy killing.” The blade was slipped between the vertebrae, severing the spinal cord.
In a pinch, the improvised garrotte could be a seat, wooden post, strong cord and a metal bar. The noose being affixed around the post and neck of the condemned, the bar could be inserted and the cord twisted until death occurred. Much like using a tourniquet and stick.
These are “garrottes.” The important thing to remember is, if someone says, “No, that’s not a garrotte, this is a garrotte…” And they are speaking in absolutes or anything other than an execution device, they’re incorrect. More on that later.
So, if we exclude the execution devices, what is left? If we do exclude the execution devices, any flexible or semi-flexible weapon that cuts the air off by compressing and/or crushing the trachea, severs (up to and including complete decapitation) the trachea and other vital structures (carotid arteries, jugular veins, vagus nerve, etc.) or breaks the neck, we have a list of items that have been used as a “garrotte.”
One Point of View: The Debate
I was once involved in a debate with a person who insisted that a “True Garrotte” would be a “cutter.” Meaning, a piano wire or guitar string garrotte. The wire being so fine that it would cut into the structures rather than compress/crush them.
If we trace the lineage of these hand held devices back to the origin of the word, as I did above, we see the “Original Garrotte” did nothing of the sort. The “Original” killed by compression and/or crushing and sometimes neck fracture.
Yet, I consider the “cutters” a form of garrotte because there is modern history to back that up. However, the “cutter” type of garrotte is not a “true” garrotte. It’s just another type of garrotte.
Back before delicatessens had slicer machines, the cheese was usually cut by a wire. Yes, a “Cheese Cutter” was basically a wire with two handles. As far as I can tell, this is where the “Modern Cutter Garrotte” came from. The source is Melton’s “Clandestine Warfare.”
The British SOE and American OSS used these devices, to what degree I do not know. Some wire garrottes with machined and knurled brass handles (for enhanced grip) were manufactured and issued. They are in the OSS Weapons Catalog, as well as other references…
Gigli bone saws were also used as “Survival Saws” as well as “Cutter” Garrottes during World War Two.
“The Garrotte. Thugs in India have long been known for their method of strangling, called garrotting. It can be executed with a rope, strong cord or a piece of twisted cloth about three feet long with a noose in one end. This is a garrotte. Properly applied, it produces a deadly, silent strangle.
Slip the noose over the forefinger of the right hand so that the loop lies down across the palm toward the little finger. Close the right hand and pick up the free end of the cord with the left hand, so that the thumb and fingers are on the inner side of the cord and the end is even with the little finger.
Approach the victim from the rear and, opening the right hand, throw the loop over his head with the left. Use the left hand to draw the noose through the right hand until it is nearly taut about the neck.
Then close the right hand about the noose at the back of the victim’s neck and twist as you would in applying a tourniquet. With your hand against the back of his neck and your right arm stiff, the victim is held at arm’s length and is unable to free himself from the strangling cord or to reach his attacker.
A hard pull to the rear at this point will make the victim fall backward and cause his chin to fold down over the cord, thus adding his own body weight to the pressure of the strangle.” ~Col. Rex Applegate, Kill or Get Killed
In the illustration above you can see the finishing position of what Applegate describes. The right hand is INSIDE the loop, when the loop is pulled tight around the neck and your hand, a fist is made with the open hand then the fist is cranked counterclockwise.
Much like a stick in a tourniquet. The palm is open and oriented UP, then closed into a fist and oriented DOWN.
What Colonel Applegate was describing was the method and weapon of the ancient Thugee Cult of India. This is where we get our slang word of “thug.” The word “Thug” comes from the Hindi verb, “thaglana,” which means, “to deceive.”
I do not know if the garrotte described above contained a rupee or not. There is another line of thought that there was more than one way to strangle with a scarf [rumal]. And that was, a rupee or rupees [coins] were tied into the end of the scarf to give it weight so it could be thrown around the neck and then the strangle was initiated.
In fact, more than a line of thought, there is proof of this from the period of British Occupation of India when the British suppressed the Thugee Cult and executed and imprisoned thousands of Thugs.
Throwing the Japanese Fighting Chain, which is weighted, in such a way that the chain is propelled around the neck is also throughout Japanese Martial Arts that focus on the Manrikigusari/Kusarifundo.
In “Kill or Get Killed,” Applegate then mentions the “Stick Strangle.” This is a triangular method where the stick is held in reverse grip and inserted under the chin from behind (or from the front)…John Steyers covered this Stick Strangle in his book, “Cold Steel.”
Then, he addresses other methods of strangulation:
“The Cord Strangle. Another type of strangulation, as old as history in the Far East, is accomplished with any light cord or wire of good tensile strength, about 18 inches long. The thinner the cord or wire, the quicker will be the effectiveness.
Tie a loop at each end of the cord, or tie small wooden blocks on the ends, so that a secure grip can be taken. Approaching the man from the rear, throw him off balance, as with the stick [strangle], with your right foot against the inside of his right knee.
With a hand on each end of the cord (the cord held taut), bring the cord over the victim’s head and back against the throat. Cross the hands at the rear of the neck and apply pressure both ways. Strangulation is quick and silent…” ~Applegate
You will notice that Col. Applegate describes the cord/wire as being taut when going over the head. During the approach, the arms would not be crossed. After the garrotte is thrown over the head, the arms would then cross at the wrists/forearms.
Imagine holding your hands out in front of you as if you are preparing to clap your hands together. Then, with your right palm, touch your left elbow and simultaneously, with the left palm, touch your right elbow.
The forearms are parallel to one another. That is the motion you make. This also takes a shorter cord/wire to use effectively. The wrists/forearms are crossed after the loop has been thrown over the head, not before.
This is actually a weaker garrotting method than having the arms crossed on the approach as is currently taught in the U.S. Army’s Combatives Manual, 21-150 where the arms are crossed at the wrists/forearms on the approach.
Then when the loop is thrown over the head of the enemy, the arms are jerked apart. This is much stronger.
There is another, older way of achieving the same position without approaching with the arms already crossed. It was depicted in the U.S. Navy’s World War Two Hand to Hand Combat Manual for Naval Aviators, the famous “V-5” manual. This is shown below.
Notice that as the years passed, not much changed. This is the U.S. Army’s Field Manual 21-150 marked December 1971. Showing the same, basic method.
In this method, your left hand makes a cross-body movement and is positioned at the back of the enemy’s right shoulder.
The right hand holding the other end of the garrotte is then looped over the head of the enemy in a semi-circular, counterclockwise motion and then the arms are pulled apart.
Take downs, Using the Enemy’s Weight
There are four basic ways to take someone to the ground immediately following any of these maneuvers.
#1 Pulling straight downward and back.
#2 Kicking the back of the knee and pulling back and down.
#3 Knee strike to the lower back and a pull backwards and down.
#4 A quick turn of the body where you are back to back with the enemy and the enemy is hoisted off of his feet to complete the crush. This is the movement that can possibly result in decapitation if a “cutter” garrotte is used.
So, is the garrotte a legitimate tool of Self-defense? That was the original question. The answer to the question is, it all depends on what type of garrotte you are going to use really.
I cannot imagine going through the trouble of carrying something with such a single purpose as a “cutting” garrotte. That is a specific type of weapon and the only outcome from the proper use of one is death of the opponent, and that is going to be carried out from behind almost exclusively, as in Sentry Removal.
Any belt, length of rope, cord, a telephone cord, whatever is at hand, can be a garrotte. You can carry a very strong bandana or scarf with that being carried with the intent to be used as a flexible weapon. A jacket or light coat can be used as a garrotte, like the belt, it is a common, every day item. The every day items that are all around us points to flexible weapons being really viable and valuable Self-defense tools.
Anything other than a “cutting” garrotte can be used with lethal or non-lethal intent. So, if you make an improvised garrotte from 550 ParaCord, what you do with it will be the deciding factor.
Now, we can break this down and go to Part Two, “The Flexible Weapon.” Before we do, here is a series of pictures showing just a few methods. Some are not “Classical Garrotte” Techniques. They are still very important. It also shows what can be done totally unrelated to a rear attack, or, a response if the enemy turned to face you. What if someone were trying to Garrotte you from behind? This shows you how the weapon might be used against you if you thwarted the rear attack and you turned to face the attacker.
Always remember, the only way to defend against a weapon and develop real, demonstrable skill, is to know how the weapon is used. It is for that reason I wrote this article.
Rope cannot be banned, and criminals can always find weapons anyway, but could you defend yourself against these methods? That is the question…
In that last series of illustrations, you can substitute a jacket or a belt and you can still see the viability of the techniques. You do not have to tote around a “Garrotte,” and always remember, the criminals don’t have to either.
Stay safe. Train safe.
[Drawings are altered from U.S. Army Combatives Manual, Public Domain]
Elon Musk’s command of the Ukrainian military
The world’s richest man has more power than you realize.
THE UKRAINIAN MILITARY IS RELIANT ON STARLINK internet provided by SpaceX. In other words, the world’s richest man has the power to screw up the operations of Europe’s second-largest army at any moment.
How we got to the supremely weird place of Elon Musk controlling Ukraine’s battlefield communications from half a world away is an interesting story.
It goes something like this: Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, dispatching armed “little green men” from its military to the country’s east without identifying insignia while repeatedly lying to the world about it. Those Russian troops helped shoot down a civilian airliner carrying 298 people and fueled an astroturfed uprising that killed tens of thousands more. By 2015, Russia had illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. Two international peace agreements were negotiated but ultimately failed to end what had evolved into a bitter World War I-style trench war.
On Feb. 24, 2022, Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine and resorted to its usual wartime playbook of attacking civilians and critical infrastructure. Rightly fearing Russia would intercept their calls, Ukrainian civilians flocked to the encrypted Signal messaging app. So did soldiers.
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As the Russians jammed the hell out of Ukraine’s military radios, Signal emerged as a secure alternative to coordinate air strikes, share intel from the treeline to targeters, and call friends without fearing a cruise missile strike.
Starlink internet is now the backbone of Ukraine’s ad-hoc military command-and-control network. Aside from powering defenders’ voice and text chats, Signal and other internet apps are used to target Russian positions with artillery. And Starlink can even claim credit for helping counter Russian propaganda and supporting Ukraine’s information war: a drone can kill one Russian soldier, but video of the act is used to kill Russian morale.
SO WHY ARE UKRAINE and its western allies questioning Musk’s reliability?
On Oct. 3, Musk provoked outrage after proposing a peace plan on Twitter that called for Ukraine to cede territory illegally seized by Russia in a bid to end the war. It was a strange idea for a country whose Army had, only a month earlier, broken the attrition-style warfare that Russia preferred and turned the tide in a stunning counteroffensive, pushing demoralized Russian troops some 200 miles closer to their own homes. Notably, Musk has suggested this peace proposal for weeks and has shared Kremlin talking points with his 100 million+ followers.
Meanwhile, geopolitical expert Ian Bremmer says that Musk spoke with Putin before floating the deal “and [Musk] told me Putin (in a direct conversation with him) was ‘prepared to negotiate.’” Bremmer stood by the reporting even after Musk denied it.
It’s a game of he said, she said: one man is an intellectual who wows Economist readers with insightful analysis of Vladimir Putin, and the other is a wildly successful entrepreneur and investor whom a federal judge found had lied about considering taking Tesla private at $420 a share in 2018, which led to a jump in the stock price and a securities fraud charge that Musk settled for a $40 million fine and other penalties.
“[T]he three August 7, 2018 statements,” wrote Judge Edward Chen in an Oct. 13 order finding three of Musk’s tweets, “were false and that Mr. Musk recklessly made those representations.”
Meanwhile, in an interview getting considerable attention in national security circles, Russia expert Fiona Hill says “it’s very clear that Elon Musk is transmitting a message for Putin.”
“Putin does this frequently,” said Hill, a former top National Security Council official, noting that she had personally spoken with business intermediaries of the Russian president when she was in government.
“He uses prominent people as intermediaries to feel out the general political environment, to basically test how people are going to react to ideas…” she said. “He is basically short-circuiting the diplomatic process. He wants to lay out his terms and see how many people are going to pick them up. All of this is an effort to get Americans to take themselves out of the war and hand over Ukraine and Ukrainian territory to Russia.”
This all before news broke on Oct. 14 that SpaceX had sent a letter in September to the Pentagon requesting it take over funding the cost of operating Starlink in Ukraine. Musk complained about the annual cost to provide Starlink service in Ukraine—roughly 0.045% of his estimated net worth—before reversing himself a day later.
“The hell with it … even though Starlink is still losing money & other companies are getting billions of taxpayer $, we’ll just keep funding Ukraine govt for free,” Musk tweeted on Oct. 15.
So anyway, the Ukrainians’ battlefield edge is now a huge vulnerability.
“For the time being, let’s be happy that he is paying for it. But we need to be on the safe side,” a European Union official told Financial Times. “The Ukrainians are very worried that he will still cut it off.”
Eddy Etue, a U.S. Marine veteran serving with the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Force in southern Ukraine:
“I think his almost immediate backpedaling and commitment to pay says he’s not as out of touch as we thought he was,” Etue told me of Musk while observing Iranian kamikaze drones crashing into nearby buildings.
Asked what would happen if Starlink were cut off, Etue said, “It will just be shitty cell signal for both sides. We’d lose the high-speed interweb advantage.”
Doug Livermore, a U.S. Army Special Forces officer and non-resident fellow at the Joint Special Operations University and Irregular Warfare Initiative:
“SpaceX was able to rapidly provide communications support at a critical time in March/April when the U.S. government was struggling to respond. Arguably, the speed with which the private sector, exemplified by SpaceX, was able to respond shows the real advantage of the ‘private’ part of these partnerships,” said Livermore. “However, it also shows the danger, as private industries are vulnerable to profit margins and other external actors.”
Joe Cirincione, a longtime national security analyst and author:
“I love my Tesla, but Musk is methodically destroying his brand,” Cirincione said in reply to a tweet Musk later deleted. “How can you have confidence in his companies when he regularly publishes unhinged, [uninformed] rants flirting with fascism?”
Peter W. Singer, a national security strategist and military consultant:
“The richest man in the world and the former and maybe next president of the United States have repeatedly advocated the policy positions of the two biggest authoritarian foes of the U.S.” said Singer, meaning Russia and China.
“The National Security community and media just can’t seem to wrap their heads around this shift. And even more, what it means for the future of both U.S. politics and security. No single weapons program, no matter how awesome, is more important to our national security and democracy than how we deal with the larger issues of authoritarian threats to and influence on our politics.”