Saturday, December 17, 2005


Not in general, a specific series.

Glen Cook is a pretty good writer. I know his work mostly from two series, The Black Company and the one I'm talking about now, The Garrett Files. Garrett is an ex-marine earning a living as a private agent in a city called TunFaire. There's lots of PI's out there, but his world has some differences: magic works, and there are elves of various breeds and ogres and dwarves out there; mixed with pretty women and villains most vile. His partner is The Dead Man. Literally. Well, not a man, but a Loghyr, a species that has several differences from humans, including a: when dead it takes a long time for their body to decay and b: when killed, sometimes their spirit doesn't go away; it stays with the body, sometimes for a long time.

It's what I used to hear referred to as sword & sorcery fiction, though with the storylines I guess you could call it sword & sorcery mysteries. I like them. Garrett is a believable character, and he's not the only one. The magic is often a factor in a story, but it's not there simply to make a complication, it's part of the story.

The first few aren't in print now that I know of, but they can often be found used(Sweet Silver Blues, for instance). Happily, they do well as standalone stories, not requiring you to read them in sequence.

You get a chance, check them out; you just might like them.

Friday, December 16, 2005

If you're looking for an SKS,

I just had a chance to look at one in from Interordnance, one of their 'M-59/66 SKS Rifle- Excellent w/Excellent Bore'. Man, they're not kidding; the bore was spotless, the finish on the metal parts really was like new, the stock had a couple of small dings and that's it. And all the numbers matched on this one. And it came with all the accessories; sling, oiler, ammo pouch and cleaning kit.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Speaking of guitars...

If you're not, I am. Well, Steve and Acidman started it.

Shortly after my first divorce(and crap, that still hurts at times to say), I wound up hitting some Renaissance fairs, and it reminded me how much I liked traditional and folk music. So I looked around, and in a wonderful shop called The Irate Musician(sadly, gone now) I found this:

It's a Fender 12-string. I hadn't played a guitar in many years, and it's a bit larger and heavier than a 6-string, but I fell in love with the sound. So there went my 'spare money'. In the years to come I spent I have no idea how many hours with it. I bought some music books, and copied pages from library books, and after I discovered the Internet(shut up) I printed out stuff I found there. And I played, at times until my fingers hurt too much to continue.

Years later I started going to a bar that had an open mike night, and finally tried performing. While there are things I can do in front of a crowd without a second thought, this wasn't one of them. Absolutely bloody awful the first time, marginally better the second, and it got easier after that. A guy I met at another bar(Brian MacFarland down in Norman; handmakes some of the best damn guitars you'll ever see or play) installed a pickup for me(trying to sing and play through one mike don't work too well), and that's the only mod ever done to it. This instrument helped me get through some bad times, and the only place it'll ever go is to one of my kids.

The other is a Tacoma 6-string cutaway:

A few years ago I was visiting my folks and hit the music stores in Lawton, and in one found this. If you've never seen one, they've got a very thin body and marvelous sound, and it played very well. On sale, even. For far more than I had. So I went home without it.

About two weeks later I was down in Texas and told some friends about it. Apparently my enthusiasm showed through because Brian asked "Where is it?" Still in the store. "Why?" asked Beverly. Cost. "Uh huh" she said. You'd have to hear her say that to understand.

Two weeks later, on a Saturday, I called Dad and asked him to call the music store and see if they still had it. Turned out the sale was going off that day, and they had one left, and if I was interested they'd hold it- at the sale price- until Monday for me. Uh huh. So I got off work at 9 Monday morning, drove a hundred miles, identified myself to the staff as the idiot who'd relayed a request for them to hold the Tacoma, and they smiled and said "Oh, yes!" and brought it out. And I sat there and played a few minutes, and surrendered. Which in this case means "here's my card, please be gentle". Took her to my folks house to show them what I'd bought(they also fed me lunch), and I've been very happy I spent the money. Apparently just in time, because when I looked at the Tacoma site and other stores, I never saw that model again.

Them's my instruments. I've started practicing regularly again, Fender and Tac alternate evenings, or just the Tac when my hands are bothering me. I'll never give a run to the memory of Stevie Ray, or equal some of the players I've met, but I do love playing them.

On my previous post,

James over at Hell In A Handbasket(nice place if you've never been there) had a long comment that he posted at his place, here. My response is as follows:

"Don't disagree with you. I do NOT take it on faith that anyone with such feelings toward kids is just 'biding their time'. I don't assume that they're automatically a criminal.

I do state flatly that anyone with such feelings has a problem, and they creep me out. No apologies, and I don't think anyone is going to change my mind.

My big concern is that there really are people actively working toward decriminalizing child molestation. Or as they tend to call it 'adult-child sex'. THAT scares hell out of me."

That about covers it. It IS possible for a pedophile to be, call it 'non-practicing', and if they remain so they're creepy but not criminals. I can't help it; if I knew someone like that, I'd try to never let kids be alone with them, and they'd make me very nervous.

My big concern, as I say, is the people who want to 'normalize' it, and who do actively want to decriminalize raping kids. There's not a lot of them, but there's far too many for comfort. And I guess this is something I'll never be cold and rational about.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Ok, things are definately going to hell

Over at Clayton Cramer I found a link to this:
I am tired of being forced into the shadows by society," Ashford said recently in an e-mail interview. "I have committed no crime, therefore there is no good reason that I should have to hide myself. As long as pedophiles continue to hide, there is no chance of them ever being accepted."

The whole article is about how pedophiles are 'misunderstood' and 'not accepted' by society. And how they would like to be accepted because they're not child molesters, they're 'just' pedophiles.

I doubt very much I even have to say this to anyone who reads my bloviating, but: Not a chance in hell, guy. Not ever unless this society goes totally to hell. And if that happens, your problem won't be arrest, it'll be being hanged or shot when you touch someone's kid. If you are sexually attracted to children, you have a serious problem whether you want to admit it or not; if you act on it, it may well be a terminal problem. There's a guy I work with who's homosexual, and we've had arguments and agreements on various things. He was married at one time and had kids, and one of the things we agree on- very emphatically- is that if anyone had ever touched our kids, we'd have killed them. Only thing preventing that would be if the police arrested them before we could get to them.

And that's exactly what will start happening if the clowns trying to 'normalize' pedophilia get their way. We've already got NAMBLA posting tips on how to get kids into seclusion so you can molest them, and a bunch of idiot psychiatrists want to make it easier:
"On Monday, May 19th, 2003 in San Francisco, at a symposium hosted by the American Psychiatric Association, several long-recognized categories of mental illness were discussed for possible removal from the upcoming edition of the psychiatric manual of mental disorders.

Among the mental illnesses being debated in the symposium at the APA's annual convention were all the paraphilias--which include pedophilia, exhibitionism, fetishism, transvestism, voyeurism, and sadomasochism."

I don't know if these clowns realize what they may be setting up; you manage to 'decriminalize' someone molesting kids, and you basically tell people that if some asshole touches their child, or rapes their child, their main avenues now become a: trying to get enough money to sue the bastard or b: making the bastard disappear. Guess which will start happening? Probably a lot?

It's connected to the touchy-feely 'nothing is actually bad, and you shouldn't be judgemental' crap that a lot of 'progressive intellectuals' keep telling us is the only correct way to think; if you tell everyone that nothing is really bad, then how do you pass judgement on anything?

If the psycho-weenies ever do have any real success pushing this, it might be a time to invest in rope futures.

Speaking of places you look only occasionally,

there's one called 'Unclaimed Territory'. Most of the time he leans toward 'Bush lied/lies, Bush is causing/caused disaster', etc., and since I can catch that on the evening news(when I bother to watch anymore) I only look over there occasionally. Then he comes up with something like this on 'The true character of the European Left'. A very nice piece on the whining and posturing by our 'moral superiors' in Euroweenie Land.

And in the comments are some wonderful pieces(for me at least) from his normally "You're perfect!" commenters:
"There may be some things wrong with liberals in Europe, nobody is perfect, but compared to the Bush Administration, why spend your talents swatting at flies when there are real monsters on the loose?" and
"Of course they are more sensitive to human rights abuses and state-sanctioned murder, having lived through it. Why can't we accept that other people do have insight and moral wisdom that we lack? Talk about a character flaw."

But the prizewinner is from a guy in Iceland:
"I think there's something to be said about devoting your energy to where it's most useful. Did it ever occur to you that perhaps European liberals think they'll be able to change the mind of the leader of another Western nation, like the US, than trying to change the mind of a psychopath like Hu Jintao? (a man whose regime is better defended and coddled by your own government than most European ones, by the way)"

Oh, yeah, it's so much easier to bitch and whine at a free country that won't do something nasty to you if you annoy it. And it's so much more satisfying to posture about your moral superiority to the U.S., as opposed to actually trying to DO something about an actual dictatorship. Apparently it wasn't 'most useful' to do something about mass murder in Bosnia, but it was to bitch at the U.S. as to why WE weren't stopping it.

"There's also the small matter of the US being, as y'all so like to put it, "The world's only superpower." If you can't deal with the criticism, then give France tons of money until they become the superpower, and everyone will attack them. Until then, you're supposedly the standard other countries should strive for. You are held up to a higher standard than any other country because of your superpower status.. this immediately opens the US up to more criticism."

Oh, we can deal with criticism. Sometimes by saying "Why should we care what whiny socialists in Europe think?" and ignoring them henceforth. Give FRANCE tons of money, for God's sake? Why? If France hadn't screwed itself up, it wouldn't NEED 'tons of money' from other places to, for instance, come up with enough aircraft to move its' own forces. And the only way you clowns will attack France(the elites at least; from what I've heard most citazens in a lot of countries can't stand France) is if France stops being a socialist government going down the toilet and starts actually demanding people obey the law. THAT would have you squealing and screaming for certain. And we ARE at a higher standard; more people working, more freedom, and we actually do something about multiple murderers other than make excuses for them.

"By the way, I'm sick of the cross Americans constantly put themselves on with this ridiculous notion that the entire continent of Europe hates you. It really makes you look whiny and self-centered. Try coming here someday."

Well, when people like you and the Austrians take every possible chance to call us names and denigrate everything about us, it kind of gives that impression. By the way, we don't think EVERYBODY in Europe hates us; just the idiots like you. There's a number of countries- particularly in the east where they actually knew the kind of dictatorship European socialists wanted everywhere- who have sent their soldiers to do something about the mess in the mid-East, right alongside of ours. So screw you.

Gee, I feel better this morning.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

SKS mods, and a fix for a problem

A while back a Very Helpful Commenter(hereafter known as VHC) mentioned that he'd taken some of the Yugo 59/66 SKS rifles and cut down the barrel to make them shorter, lighter and handier as a truck/car rifle. He sent a couple of pictures and has given permission for me to post them.

DISCLAIMER!! He had good luck with this, and the one I tried it on is working nicely. That does not mean you will have no trouble! This is not a hugely difficult project, but there's a couple of points that could cause a real problem later on if you don't do it right.

With that over:
If you're not familiar with that model, it has a grenade launcher and sight mounted to the front and that end looks like this:

(I'm going on the description party by memory, as one of the side effects of losing my old PC was losing the e-mail that described his process)

What he did was a: take off the launcher and bayonet, b: remove the front sight assembly and cut off the forward extension, everything behind the sight base itself and the bayonet mount, c: re-mount the front sight.

Start by stripping the rifle, including taking the barreled action out of the stock. Pull the screw the bayonet pivots on and it comes off. The launcher is screwed onto the muzzle and pinned; drive out the pin with a punch. Use a vise with padded jaws to hold the receiver(if you have/can make some curved pads to hold the barrel tight enough, go ahead). Then, if you're not worried about the finish of the launcher, grab it with some vise grips or a pipe wrench; if you want to protect it, use some leather or something as padding. It's a standard right-hand thread; I'd suggest get your whatever locked on and give it a sharp blow with a piece of metal rod or pipe, after which it should unscrew.

The sight unit is held in place with two pins(on those I've seen), so drive out the pins, and the piece comes off to the front(note: I took all the pins out at the same time). Put a little oil on the barrel in front of it; mine I was able to twist back & forth as I pushed forward, some may be tight enough to need moving with a wood block and a mallet. Once off, you can do what VHC did and cut off everything in front of and behind the sight base itself:

Or you can do what I did; since the flip-up night sight still had some glow left I decided to keep it. So I cut off the rear section just behind that:

If you cut as much off as he did, you lose both pin holes; if you leave the night sight section on, you'll still have one. To take the launcher sight off, the easiest way is to bend one leg out to take the sight off the pivot pin, then cut/file the pin off flush on both sides. I, for some reason, decided not to do that and drove the pin out. This pin also holds the night sight in place, so I had to put the damn thing back in.

Whichever you do, you now have to decide how long you want the barrel to be. You could leave it the original, threads and all, or cut it back. VHC wanted it short, so he drove the sight base as far back as he could-taking care to keep the sight as vertical as possible- and then drilled through the lower curve of the base and barrel for a new pin.

POSSIBLE SERIOUS PROBLEM If you do this, make DAMN SURE you don't go high enough to either drill into the bore, or too close to it; if you cut into the bore all you can do is move the sight back beyond that point and try again, which will mean either milling/filing/sanding the inside of the base larger so it'll fit further back or cutting down the diameter of the barrel to allow the base further back. And if you're too close, it could possibly cause the barrel to bulge at that point during firing, which may or may not cause a dangerous failure. So take note of exactly how deeply the original pin notches cut into the barrel.

After he set the sight in place, he cut the barrel off a little in front of the base, then filed it square and crowned the muzzle. I'm not going to cover some of the how's of that right now.

POSSIBLE SERIOUS PROBLEMS You could, by opening up the sight base a bit, move it as far back as just in front of the gas block; two things wrong with that. Cutting it back that far might affect the functioning of the action by changing the gas pressure that reaches the system, and it could make your rifle illegal. Remember, the minimum legal length of a rifle barrel is 16", which(according to the ATF agent I called and asked) is measured from the bolt face to the muzzle; by my measurement if you move it all the way back you'll be a bit below 16. So if you decide to do this and move it way back, measure it and make sure you leave the barrel at least the legal length.

I decided to use the original pin hole in the barrel, so the sight stayed in the original location. I marked the barrel about 1/4" in front of it, cut it off and crowned it, which gave me a barrel just under 19". Then pushed the base back into place and set the pin. If your pin doesn't feel tight enough, put a drop of thread locker on before driving it in. And it's done.

It's amazing how much lighter and more balanced it feels now. VHC says he's never had a problem with the action functioning. I did, but that was before the mods, which brings me to

The SKS Fix

I found out there's been a lot of discussion on various gun boards about this model SKS not functioning. As in it fires, but the action either doesn't cycle at all or only partially does, resulting in either stovepipe jams or incomplete ejection. Not good in a rifle at all, but especially bad in one you might have bought as a 'just in case' firearm.

The problem seems to be mainly(maybe entirely) on the 'shooter grade' rifles. 'Shooter grade' all too often seems to mean 'was rode hard and put away wet, but they still go bang!'. Often bores are worn or somewhat pitted, and- the big problem- the gas valve and/or tube is worn or corroded badly. This model has a valve that in the normal position causes gas to flow into the tube and work the action; in the other position the gas system is cut off so all the gas from the blank goes into launching the grenade. The valve fits into the gas block and the gas tube fits onto the end of the valve, so you have a couple of places where wear or corrosion can cause a lot of gas leakage, quite possibly enough to cause your SKS to become a straight-pull bolt-action. If it were the gas tube at the end, a new tube would fix it, but from what I've heard it mostly seems to be the valve itself. I thought of a couple of things that might fix it(other than a new valve; they seem to be hard to come by). One was to get some shim stock and make a sleeve for the valve to fit it more tightly into the gas block, which would do it if the valve body or inside of the block were eroded. Or, do something to make the end of the valve fit the gas tube more tightly.

There's a lip on the end of the valve that looks like it should have some kind of seal on it(it doesn't, but it looks like it) so to see what would happen I found an 'O' ring the right size, put it on and headed to the range.

Perfect function, empties thrown like a frat boy throws an empty bottle. For about 35 rounds. At which point the ring fell apart; didn't seem to hold up too well exposed to the gas stream. So I got a piece of thin, flat steel bar stock, cut a thin strip, did some sanding and made this:

Took some filing/sanding to get it the right thickness and width, but it fit into the lip and the gas tube fit on snugly. And it worked great. Action cycled with no failures. The empties were not flung as far as with the o-ring or a rifle without the problem, but as VHC put it that may be a feature, not a bug; enough gas leaks that the action does not cycle as hard, which means a bit less pounding and stress on the bolt carrier and receiver. In any case, I put 40 rounds through it without a bobble.

Tried two other things. Took a piece of old guitar string and made a ring; that didn't work. Apparently the spaces in the winding let too much leak out, or it just didn't fit tightly enough. The other thing was a piece of brass wire(steel would work as well). Made a ring that fit tightly, but the wire at .065 diameter was too big for the tube to fit on, so I cut it down with a dremel sanding drum so it's about the same diameter as the valve body, and tapering thinnner toward the tube. The tube goes on snugly, and it went through 40 rounds with no problems. Depending on the extent of a rifle's problem, you probably could, in some cases, just use a suitable diameter wire, in others you'd have to shape a piece to give the fit you need.
Or, if you want a new valve, VHC found this link to a guy who started making them when his rifles all gave him trouble.

This ends my current lecture on screwing around with an already functional rifle. Goodnight, VHC, wherever you are.

Monday, December 12, 2005

I shall now give a sermon on tolerance

And what, you may wonder, brought me to this? No, I don't care if you wonder or not, I'm gonna say this anyway.

The subject for tolerance today is 'smoking'. Not the cordite leftovers that drift lazily from a muzzle, the kind that comes from tobacco. In specific, the efforts of a bunch of elitist dictator wannabes to prevent anyone from doing it.

I don't like cigarettes. I think they stink, and being around people who smoke them makes your clothes stink. Most cigars I've been around smell like the proverbial burning rope(there are some exceptions), though I do have a liking for the aroma from some pipe tobaccos. And by the way, what's the crap with places that do allow smoking not allowing pipes?

Ahem. In any case, I have a simple and well-working solution to the problem: A, I don't smoke them and B, I don't go to places where people are smoking unless I'm willing to put up with it. I realize these two things may be a little too simple for some to accept, but it takes care of my needs and doesn't hassle people who like to smoke.

Two things brought this to mind. First was this from John Stossel(blessings upon him) on the planning by the nannies to eventually either ban smoking or make it too difficult/expensive for people(sounds like what some nannies want to do to firearms, doesn't it?). Then there was this from the beauteous Sondra K's place on what's happening in Washington state under Gov. Gregoire. Key quote: " Two days after the Statewide smoking ban went into effect in my fine State of Washington our esteemed Governess politely asks the stateƂ’s sovereign tribal casinos to VOLUNTARILY comply and make their establishments non-smoking also." Take note of the 'voluntarily'; I bet there was a lot of pressure in whatever way she thought she could get away with. Happily, the tribes seem to have told her, in a polite way, to kiss their collective ass.

There's a bar/restaurant here called Galileo's where I used to go every week for open mike night. Amazingly, a lot of people there smoked, so I planned on the clothes I wore that night not being worn again until they were washed. I was willing to put up with the smoke because I wanted to attend those evenings. I did NOT bitch and whine and demand that everyone who smoked leave. When I eat at most places, I just sit in the non-smoking areas; isn't that simple and easy?

Right now there's a commercial being played on the radio about how you should look for a sticker on restaurant doors noting that they don't allow smoking because 'hundreds of people die from secondhand smoke every year in Oklahoma'. Now that is a blatant lie, but they repeat it over and over, and I'm sick of it. You don't want to smell smoke? Don't go into or work in places where people do smoke. And if you're tolerant of people smoking in places you don't go, you'll be noted as a tolerant type who leaves other people to make their own decisions, instead of a pissy little busybody who wants to run the lives of all people- all for their own good, of course.

Amen. Congregation dismissed and the bar is open.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Evening roundup

Was browsing some various news places, and found a number of things.

Instapundit notes that a bunch of Saddam loyalists are urging Sunnis to vote and warning the terrorists off, and the article he links to includes this: "Zarqawi is an American, Israeli and Iranian agent who is trying to keep our country unstable so that the Sunnis will keep facing occupation," said a Baathist insurgent leader who would give his name only as Abu Abdullah." They've got the American and Israeli bits wrong, but he's definately working with the moolahs in Iran. And they're figuring it out. Now if some of the idiots in the Democrat side of Congress would.

Tim Blair notes riots in Australia that started when some 'middle-Eastern' men hassled people on a beach and beat up some lifeguards. It's now a general mess. Now, there probably is an element of thugs on both sides, but I have to say "what in the hell were the idiots thinking?" when they went to the beach to beat people up. This ain't a number of places; any idiot could have told them that a bunch of Aussies would not take kindly to this(ok, not any idiot; these idiots apparently thought they could get away with it).

Some jerk started trouble on an airplane heading to Hawaii and is now in custody. Says he threatened a baby and 'lunged' at the cockpit. It also notes "Passengers tackled and restrained Tizol when he lunged toward the cockpit." Let's see, 'tackled and restrained', hmmm... is that a polite way of saying 'beat the dog shit out of'? If it's not, it should be.

From the Carnival over at Gullyborg, found a couple of things in particular. One is the takedown at "It comes in pints?" of an e-mail Bitter Bitch got. He makes a couple of points in particular about the way the guy tries to frame the argument to make gun owners look selfish, etc. Kind of thing that needs to be kept in mind when we argue such matters. And Of Arms and the Law has this on the Waco mess:
"I got the ATF reports that showed what the ATF undercover agents in the "undercover house" (across the street from the Davidian place) had done on February 19, nine days before the raid.

They went shooting.

With David Koresh."

Considering this was after ATF had insisted they had to do the raid because Koresh never left the house, etc., we're back to people lying in court in order to cover up a series of serious mistakes(at best). Check it out, along with the other stuff on this site.

Oh, and Gully? I don't want the 25mm; ammo would be a pain to get, give me the .50 cal.

The Geek makes a very good remark: "In a truly civil society peopled primarily by enlightened, sober individuals, the carriage of arms might be deemed gratuitous, but it is nonetheless harmless.

In a society that measures up to anything less than that, the option to carry arms is a necessity."

I like it. He also has this marvelous pic:

And I'm done for now. My son turns 21 tomorrow, and I have the joys of that to contemplate.

Carnival of Cordite #41 is up

Once more, hie yourself off to Gullyborg and check it out. Lots of good stuff, and it's the last one this year. Between his finals and Christmas and New Years, he flat won't have time(certain amount of sympathy, there).

So enjoy and learn.