Saturday, August 11, 2007
In his recommendation, Lt. Col. Paul Ware said murder charges brought against Sharratt were based on unreliable witness accounts, poor forensic evidence and questionable legal theories.
"The government version is unsupported by independent evidence," Ware wrote in an 18-page report. "To believe the government version of facts is to disregard clear and convincing evidence to the contrary."
Which is a fancy way of saying 'innocent of the charges made against him'.
Mr. Murtha, those Marines and their families are waiting for your apology. Just in case you have the guts and integrity to make it.
Which I will not hold my breath waiting for.
These graphs were created by NASA's Reto Ruedy and James Hansen (who shot to fame when he accused the administration of trying to censor his views on climate change). Hansen refused to provide McKintyre with the algorithm used to generate graph data, so McKintyre reverse-engineered it. The result appeared to be a Y2K bug in the handling of the raw data.
McKintyre notified the pair of the bug; Ruedy replied and acknowledged the problem as an "oversight" that would be fixed in the next data refresh.
NASA has now silently released corrected figures, and the changes are truly astounding. The warmest year on record is now 1934. 1998 (long trumpeted by the media as record-breaking) moves to second place. 1921 takes third. In fact, 5 of the 10 warmest years on record now all occur before World War II. Anthony Watts has put the new data in chart form, along with a more detailed summary of the events.
Which article led to this:
Two months ago, I reported on an effort to validate this network. A volunteer group headed by meteorologist Anthony Watts had found serious problems. Not only did sites fail to meet the NCDC's requirements, but encroaching development had put many in ridiculously unsuitable locations -- on hot black asphalt, next to trash burn barrels, beside heat exhaust vents, even attached to hot chimneys and above outdoor grills.
Got that? Sites recording weather data, including the temp readings used to say "We're going to burn up!"[/algore] were in not very suitable locations that would give higher readings.
Doesn't matter to the True Believers, as they have The Goreacle to lead them to his Revealed Truth, but for us infidels some very interesting information.Update: here's more
Friday, August 10, 2007
Current handgun training tends to be 'always use the sights unless you're at contact range', and without question it's generally easier to hit accurately, even at close range, with sights. But point-shooting can be very fast and- with practice- very accurate. And considering the number of reports I've read where someone said they never really used the sights(in normal manner), I think skipping it is a bad idea. At least some familiarizing would be a good idea.*
James at Hell in a Handbasket has a good piece on it here, and if you look around the gunboards you can find more. If you have time, one book I'd strongly recommend is No Second Place Winner, by Bill Jordan. If you've been around the shooting world a few years, you've probably heard of him; he was a Big Name for a long time, with a lot of years on the Border Patrol and having(as one guy put it) ended more gunfights than most would-be tough guys ever thought about starting. The book's good for the stories if nothing else, but his chapter on 'Combat Style Shooting' is what we're after here. To shorten it quite a bit, the closer the bad guy, the closer you have the pistol to you when you fire. To illustrate his method, I scanned these two pages from the book:
If you've never tried it, or never seen someone who's in practice shooting this way, the accuracy you can get is amazing. Jordan would, for demos, stand aspirin tablets on edge on a table about ten or fifteen feet away, draw and fire(S&W Model 19) and shoot the tablets off without touching the table. The man who handled firearms training for OK Highway Patrol for years, a gentleman named Dan Combs, was about that good, and I got to watch him a couple of times. Flat damned amazing, both accuracy and speed.
I'll throw in, the way dad was taught(and he taught me) was to get both hands on the piece as soon as possible: so for anything beyond contact range to, say, five or six feet, use both hands as the additional control and accuracy is worth it. Jordan was a big, strong man(look at the hand holding that Model 19) and shot with one hand a lot, and could handle .357 Mag loads one-handed with no problem even in rapid fire; most of us ain't quite to that point.
That kind of speed and accuracy takes a LOT of practice for all but a few gifted people, but for the practical need of placing shots in an attacker's vitals at close range, just about anybody can pick it up with a bit of practice. It's a skill well worth working on. Let me close with a couple of paragraphs from the end of the chapter:
"One last suggestion: For 90% of your practice, draw from the holster and fire one shot. It's that first shot that is important and it is the one most difficult to place accurately. Don't practice "hosing" your shots, depending on seeing hits to get you on target. You learn nothing from this and you are lost if you can't see the strike of your bullets. Your crutch won't work at night or with no background to mark your shots, and then you will be in bad trouble. The first shot is all important, and if it is in, the others will follow.
For the other 10%, if you are concentrating on that first shot and it goes in you will have no difficulty with the rest of the burst. your wrist and forearm will stiffen automatically for recoil control. And above all, take al the time necessary but don't dawdle. Remember, "speed's fine, but accuracy's final"- if you are given time to display it!"
*A while back I read a piece by a police officer whose department had gone back to training on point-shooting after numerous reports of close range and/or low-light fights found that officers either didn't use the sights(seldom) or kept moving their eyes from sights to target(very often); if I remember right, the training improved their record quite a bit.
UPDATED It's been two years since I wrote this, and I've got a new post up here that touches on the subject. I'll also add that I think you should practice firing quick pairs in point-shooting, same as sighted fire; What I should have written here originally was 'fire single shots to learn point-shooting, and when you have the idea start firing pairs'.
And please remember: I'm not an Expert, I'm a guy stating opinions and thoughts. Don't think I'm the last word on a subject(I may luck out at some point says ego, but ignore that); if you want to try something I've mentioned, check out everything you can on the subject. There are very good books, like Massad Ayoob's and Jordan's, and nowadays lots of stuff on blogs(remember, some of those folks are just like me, while some of them really are experts), so there's lots out there to read on just about any subject or method you can think of. Do your research.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
The first New York Charter School for Arab girls is selling T-shirts emblazoned with the words "Intifada - New York."
The principle of the school, Dhabah Almontaser, said "I think it's pretty much an opportunity for girls to express that they are part of New York City society ... and shaking off oppression."
Just absolutely freakin' wonderful, isn't it?
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Blade is 5160 spring steel, about 11" from the guard to the point and about 16" overall. Fittings are copper, and the grip is a piece of leg bone from a whitetail. Yeah, the forge marks on the blade were left there deliberately; I like the way it looks.
Monday, August 06, 2007
So I worked up a routine, varying a bit for different blade types. First step is to look the blade over very closely after heat-treating. Then sharpen it*. The most basic test is toughness, for which I take the blade, clamp the tip in a vise(how much in the vise depends on length/thickness) and flex it back & forth. It should flex and return to straight, repeatedly(amount of flex depending on the blade).
Second is the edge hardness with the brass rod, posted before.
Third is cutting. For edge-holding, I use 1/4" sisal or manilla rope, depending on which I've got or can find. I clamp a piece of 1x3 or 2x4 lumber in the vise. Then I use a marker to mark an area about an inch long. Then lay the rope on the wood, set the blade on it a little back from the end and push it down to cut through, then move the blade back a touch and repeat, over and over. A blade made of O1 or 5160 or harrow tooth, any good high-carbon steel, should make at least fifty cuts, and that area still be sharp enough to shave hair off your arm, and at seventy-five cleanly slice a piece of typing paper**.
That's for all knives. For a big one that might well be used for heavy cutting(firewood, etc.), I save branches pruned from the trees to test with, limb thickness depending on blade size, I usually use 2-3" for this(a lot of makers use 2x4). Set the branch on a solid surface(bigger branch) and chop it in two, then repeat. It's got to do this at least twice with no damage to the edge or bending of the blade, and still be at least usably sharp. The typing paper is good for this; you hold it by a corner, start near your grip and slice. If it won't cut it, or snags the paper where the blade's been cutting, problem: if it just won't cut it dulled too much, if it snags the edge roughened or nicked. If the latter, check the wood. I've seen a knot in some types of wood hard enough to mess with a knife edge, and if it's an old limb or used 2x4 there might have been a nail or staple in it.
That's the general process I use. It is subject to adjustment depending on the individual knife(I wouldn't expect one forged from a railroad spike to hold an edge like harrow tooth, for instance, but it'll be hell for tough).
*Remember, if the final grinding and polishing did not move the edge back any, you may well have an edge with a little bit of carbon loss from the heat-treating. I've read a couple of makers who say they don't expect a knife to show it's best edge-holding until it's been sharpened at least twice to make sure that decarburized layer is removed. And most bladesmiths leave the final-forged blade just a bit oversize, so the final grinding removes that layer.
**This is subject to the type of steel AND the use expected. Make a blade a little too hard and, while it may well pass the tests just fine it'll be a bitch to sharpen when it dulls; pain for the owner. Something of a lower carbon content- generally speaking- won't hold an edge as well, but can be made incredibly tough and will be easier to sharpen. Everything is a balance.
Sunday, August 05, 2007
The dirk, as I recall was 13" in the blade, about 18.5" overall and about 1.5" wide at the widest, 1/4" thick at the spine near the back, tapering a bit along the length. 5160 spring steel, copper fittings and twisted copper wire inlaid in the grip.
The sgian dhu is about 3.5-4" in the blade, nickel-silver fittings, walnut grip.
In both of these, there's not a guard; that's a collar. It's sized so the mouth of the sheath actually slides inside.