Saturday, January 15, 2005

If you had lots of free cash...

what kinds of cool stuff would you buy? Not bill-paying money, free cash that could be spent for anything?

I want one of the green lasers various people have mentioned lately(I lost the link and am too lazy to find it right now). They guy said he was stopping sales because he was worried about someone using one to do harm to an airplane or something; I understand the emotion, but dammit, I want one!

I like flashlights, and the coolest one I can think of is from Surefire. The G2 I picked up will blind you in a dim room and produces 65 lumens; The Beast puts out two thousand lumens. Oh Lord, yes I want one of these. The guys at the indoor range I shoot at said they've been trying to convince the boss that the need one for the store. "It's for display", "It's for advertisement", "instead of renting some spotlights one of us can stand outside and wave it around". All excellent arguments, I would say, but to no avail. So I'll have to simply lust over the picture.

I was at a motorcycle show today, and there were some flat gorgeous bikes there. There was one with a magnificent flame paint job that would look really nice in the garage. It's a hardtail so it's probably not too comfortable to ride, it's got short straight pipes so I'd have to wear earplugs, it's damn near as long as my truck so it'd take up a lot of the garage, but it was so lovely...

It's not really expensive, but a nice leather duster would be good. I could probably buy one now, but I have a oilcloth duster that works quite well in the rain, and I can't convince myself that buying a leather one just because it looks good is a good idea.

A really nice telescope. Lots of things to look at up there.

I'm not going into firearms right here, except for one. In front of the 45th Infantry Division Museum there are a pair of 37mm anti-tank guns from the late 1930's. Of course these have had the breechblocks welded into place, etc., but a working one? Oh, my. You'd need a good half-mile minimum of range to really play with it, but it would be fun. Just solid shot, no HE shells, and targets that would show when you hit. Plastic jugs full of colored water, concrete blocks, and so forth. And just think of the looks on people's faces as they see you towing it to the range!

A Mustang. Just because I've wanted one since I was 15. And if I had the money to buy it, I'd also be able to afford the insurance.

And if I had a house appropriate to keep all this stuff- and the rest- in, I'd want a tower. Probably along one of the front corners, at least 15 feet high(20 would be better) with a couple of rooms and crenelations on the roof. Nice for just looking around, and I could build a small ballista or trebuchet up there to shoot stuff at people on Halloween.

Friday, January 14, 2005

The tsunami mess

I don't really want to write more about this. The U.N. is still corrupt and useless; various people/groups crap on us because we're not doing 'enough', etc.

And all of it is overshadowed by the number. 260,000 estimated dead.

I didn't live in a city that big until I was an adult. It's hard to wrap my mind around that number of dead people. And I really don't have anything else to say right now.

Further down the toilet in Britain

I've written on the situation for gun ownership and self-defense in Britain, because I consider it such a crappy situation. Not just crappy, but seriously dangerous. Not just for the individuals involved in any particular incident, but for their society.

I'm of the opinion that such contempt for the right of self-defense and the means of it are a sympton of rot in a society, and that rot shows in other ways, also. Instapundit has a post with two links about a further loss of freedom of speech over there. From the first link:
"Thanks to a proposed law that would limit permissible speech concerning religion, the UK is is in the middle of a debate about free speech."

It seems to boil down to "You can't say anything about a religeon that might upset someone". From what I've read, this was first pushed by Muslim groups, and of course everyone else wanted to protect their own tender feelings, too. And this is part of the rot in a society.

We've got our own rot. PC thinking is a big part of it; you're not allowed to say something that might hurt someones feelings, and it's best if you're not allowed to think such things, either. At least when you're talking about certain groups; screw everybody else. You see, those groups are so insecure and helpless, we just can't allow anyone to say something hurtful. And it's a bloody load of crap.

I say this for two reasons. First, the freedom of speech issue; it has to allow for both ideas you don't agree with and people you don't like. If you don't allow those things, there is no freedom of speech, there's just this high-sounding phrase people use because it makes them feel good & noble. Second, it combines two things that are, or should be, distasteful; the idea that some people/groups are so tender and helpless they can't handle insensitive talk, and the idea that government has to 'protect' them by banning any speech that 'might' be hurtful.

It's easy to handle both these things. The 'tender, helpless' groups? Get over it. No matter who you are, no matter what you are; no matter your skin color, country or countries of ancestry, religeon, sex, whatever; there is someone who will try to make himself feel better about himself by crapping on you. Deal with it. There is nothing in the Constitution or Bill of Rights that says you're entitled to go through your whole life without having your tender feelings hurt.
For the second, if the government is given power to prevent any group from speaking/writing, they can do it to ALL groups. Including the 'be nice to the poor little helpless ones' groups, just as soon as some bureaucrat decides they are a problem.

Britain is way, way down the slope. Lack of respect for freedom of speech, the right of self-defense, the right to arms, all of it blends together. Those more wise, more intelligent than you, will tell you how to live and where to live and what you can say and what you can own. And smother you in the process.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Here's one big reason why a lot of people fear the government

The courts in particular in this case.

I'll put this bluntly; I do not give a rat's ass what the law is in other countries. I am scared to death when a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court says
"U.S. law is not handed down from on high even at the U.S. Supreme Court," he said. "The law emerges from a conversation with judges, lawyers, professors and law students. ... It's what I call opening your eyes as to what's going on elsewhere."

God damn it, no it does not! The law is made by the legislative branch of government, and it its the job of judges to interpret the law in the case before them. That's 'interpret' as in does it apply? or is it constitutional and such. It is NOT their damn job to MAKE law, or to CHANGE law as it suits them. The law DOES NOT emerge from 'conversation'.

You want to know why so many people are so damn worried about this country? Why you hear the comment 'I love my country but fear my government'? Crap like this is why.

I think I need to write to my congressman and senator about this crap.

Ballistic fingerprinting

Various people have written on this in the past, here's my way of putting it. I think many of the folks who have read my words here are familiar with it, but for anyone who comes by who isn't, here it is.

Fingerprinting works because your prints don't change. You can become scarred on your hands and that simply adds to the ID marks; what remains of your original prints has the scars added to them. Basically, the prints you are born with do not change. Ballistic 'fingerprinting' is based on this idea.

First, when a bullet travels down the barrel of a rifle or handgun, the rifling- the spiral grooves in the bore- grip the bullet to spin it. This engraves the marks into the metal of the bullet, and unless it's completely smashed/mangled by the impact when it hits, these markings can be seen.
Second, the cartridge case is expanded against the walls of the chamber by the pressure of the shot, and also pushed back against the breech face. This causes the shape of the chamber and breech, any scratches, etc., to leave marks. And in semi-or automatic firearms, the extractor- the hook that pulls the case out of the chamber- can also leave marks.
So the idea is that if you save a fired bullet and cartridge case from a gun, then index the marks, then you could- supposedly- take a bullet or case found at a crime scene and run it through a computer and find what gun it matches up to.


This ignores a number of things. Take a brand-new gun and fire it; save the samples; and then, after someone has fired several hundred rounds through it, compare them again. Good chance you will not be able to say, positively, "this bullet/case came from this particular firearm", because these marks change. You don't have to make a deliberate effort to change them, the normal wear of firing does that for you. Cleaning, especially with some abrasive cleaning/polishing compounds, does it. And, as the California AG's study showed, simply firing a different brand of ammo can cause the marks to be different. Different bullet design/materials, slight differences in case material/design, can make a match uncertain ranging to negative.

This is not the same as finding a gun in the posession of a suspect and comparing it with bullets/cases found at the crime scene. In this case it's probably the same ammo, and right after the shooting. You have a very good chance of making a match then. Otherwise...

One of the other things not considered is that in modern manufacturing, barrels are made one after another on the same equipment; as they come off the line, they are virtually identical and marks may not be distinguishable between them. Which means that any normal wear makes immediate changes to the markings left on a bullet. Same thing for the cartridge cases; the chamber in a semi-auto is part of the barrel, so the same holds for the markings on the case. In revolvers you might well have more variation in that the chambers are cut in the cylinder that holds the cartridges, but again they are made one after another, on the same equipment.

The slide of a semi-auto and the frame of a revolver, again are made one after another. There might be more variation here, but again normal wear changes the marks.

Now you get into another factor; deliberate changes. Doesn't have to have a thing to do with trying to change the marks.
A shooter buys an after-market barrel for this semi-auto either for a feature like a compensator on the muzzle or to change cartridges- and yes, some semi-autos can be changed to a different cartridge just by changing the barrel.
A shooter wants to improve the barrel, so he uses one of the many methods to polish the bore.
The breech-face gets polished for smoother operation.
The extractor is polished or replaced, again for smoother functioning.
After-market firing pin for faster lock time.
Any of these will change the marks left on the bullet/case, and the sample the police have now means nothing- except that they have to store it, which takes up space and money.

And the above methods can be used to deliberately change the markings, and are used. I have no idea how many people I've heard of who, first thing they do with a new firearm, is polish the bore, etc., just to change the marks. Their way of telling the authorities 'screw you'. These are honest citazens who just don't like the government keeping records on their property.
Another reason many dislike it is that it is a de facto method of gun registration. And again, unless you are violating the law in your use of something, it is none of the governments' business what you own.

Ballistic fingerprinting as I see it. And apparently the honest people in law enforcement see it the same, as even the Peoples Republic of Maryland is asking for changes in law so they can drop this, and put the money and people into improving their DNA database of criminals, which has the advantage of actually working.

"You've saved our people; now GET OUT"

This is the message from Indonesia to our military forces in the region. Apparently having people saved by evil Westerners is bothering the government and the nut-level muslims, so they want them out by March at the latest. One of their gripes being "in the near future would need foreign medical workers and engineers instead of military assistance". Hey, stupid, just what to you think a lot of those troops are? They're medical workers and engineers. Except for the problem that a lot of people who are glad of the help would die, I'd say bring everyone back to their normal missions and send a bill to the Indonesian government.

Oh, and the U.N. is "struggling to coordinate a massive relief operation have welcomed their participation, particularly to deliver aid to isolated coastlines accessible only by sea or air". Oh, yeah the U.N. is in charge, never mind that the Aussies and us and India in particular were taking care of things before the U.N. could bother to get anyone out of their nice comfortable offices and send them to four-star hotels to 'study' the matter and make recommendations about what should be done. And from the U.N.uchs we get the following also: "Wahlstrom said she remained concerned with inadequate coordination among all groups taking part in the relief effort.". Oh, yeah, you're helping a lot. All those coordination meetings taking people away from actually doing something are a real big help.

Found at Kim's place.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Thoughts on HIV and medicine

After reading about it at Dean's place, I went to the library and found 'Inventing the AIDS Virus', by Peter Duesberg. I'm about 150 pages in, and it's enlightening in some ways.

I admit, I do not like doctors as a general matter, and do not much trust them. There are exceptions. Dean made the comment that doctors are very, very smart people who want to help others. In most cases, I agree. That doesn't change the fact that all too many are arrogant, condescending jerks with God complexes. That would be tolerable, at least more so, if it weren't for a: the times they're wrong and refuse to acknowledge it/take responsibility, and b: the way so many act as if they know everything, and treat patients who question them like crap(and what medical school did YOU graduate from?)

What really bothers me is the way doctors and researchers so often pass on the Holy Writ from their Leader, and anyone who questions it is obviously either a fool or deluded. That's not the way science is supposed to work. It's a human failing, not wanting to hear/tolerate criticism or a flat statement that "this is wrong", but it's a failing that has no place in science. I can't remember who I read the statement from as a kid, some researcher said that a scientist has to be prepared to drop a theory as wrong at any time the facts show it to be so no matter how much time and work is invested in it. That impressed me greatly at the time, and still does. But it apparently doesn't happen enough. And there's no telling how much time and money, and how many lives, are lost because someone can't bear to change.

And how much misery is caused by it. A friend of my daughter was diagnosed a few months back with HPV, and basically told that because of it she had a good chance of developing cervical cancer down the road. Now that is enough to ruin your attitude at the least. But from what I'm reading there's actually no hard evidence that that is true; no proof that HPV causes this cancer. If so, then people are being scared bleepless for no good reason; instead of 'you have a problem that needs treatment' it is 'you have something that may kill you or sterilize you'.

It'll take a while to finish this book. And what I'm reading is not pleasant.

Side issue: a while back I was reading some stuff about BSE, 'Mad Cow Disease', at Tech Central Station. It was pointing out that there's little to no proof that BSE is transmittable to humans, and that there are big problems with blaming it on prions. But because that is what has been 'decided' is the culprit, little funding is available to study other possible causes. How much trouble and loss may be related to the decisions that 'we HAVE to act NOW' and 'this is what to study and think, don't bother us with other ideas'?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

More things that tick me off

People who claim to be 'artists' and therefore exempt from the rules that us commoners must follow. Besides the general stupidity, in many cases it's a matter of 'dressing in black, annoying people and claiming you're not understood does not make you an artist'. (no, I can't remember who said that)

A good many of the people I mentioned earlier who detest gun owners will make EXCUSES for members of NAMBLA, apparently because they're a politically-exempt-from-criticism group. At least exempt from us great unwashed criticizing them. "They're not bad people, some of them just have a problem, and they deserve our patience and tolerance. And they have the right to voice their views". Bullshit. They are exchanging tips on how to kidnap and rape children, you idiots; they ARE bad people. Not because of views they express or something they own, but because of WHAT THEY DO.

People who put some phrase in French or whatever language in a book, with nothing to tell you what it means. Damned if I'm going to check out a dictionary just to find out. Under this same heading are publishing dates in Roman numerals. You got a problem with modern NUMBERS?

People who bitch and whine incesstantly about cops; primarily bitching and whining because the cops remind them that there are rules of civilized behavior they have to follow, like it or not. And the don't like it.

Cops who act like badge-heavy idiots just because they can. Every time some badge carrier treats someone like trash simply because "you are a civilian, and I'm the law", it too often creates one more somebody who'll think 'screw the cops if they treat people like that'. Guys? If you're not in the military or reserves, YOU ARE A CIVILIAN TOO. And that badge is not supposed to make you feel comfortable with crapping on people. I don't mean dealing with some dirtbag who's causing trouble and you know it; when you crap on Mr. or Ms. Average, you make your own future job more difficult.

That's about it for now. But who knows, there might be more coming.

Oh, and I hate freezing my bahoogies off when I go outside.

Man, it's foggy out there!

It is hear-footsteps-see-man-with-tophat-cape-and-cane foggy. Everything is so wet it might as well have rained. Lots of times I can manage to ride the bike even in January; today the temperatures were doable, but not this wet. Not if I don't have to.

And we're supposed to get another arctic cold front in tomorrow evening or night. Yuck.

I went to the range the other night, and cleaned the .45 afterward. In the past I've tried using nylon bore brushes, and as long as you don't have any real fouling other than powder they're ok. This time I used the Corrosion-X with a bronze brush. When I shoot lead bullets I always have some lead fouling in this barrel, and it's a pain to get out. I soaked the brush, ran it back & forth about six times, then let the barrel sit while I wiped everything else down with some C-X on a patch. Let everything sit a while, then ran the brush through four or five times, then wiped with a patch, and damn! The bore sparkled! Whatever they make this stuff with, it works! I'm going to have to seriously test it for rust protection(I know what the maker's tests say, I want to try it for myself), but in lubrication it seems fine and it cleans damn well. Don't know about copper fouling in a big-bore rifle, will have to check it out.
When it's dry enough and warm enough to go outside and shoot one.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Things that tick me off

In no particular order,

Tobacco taxes. I don't smoke cigarettes, and I don't like them. Even less to I like the nanny-state bullshit about them. If you actually think they're terrible, and you care more about other people's health than about money, then push for a ban. Except for a few zealots, it'll never happen, because they really, really want that tax money. Which leads to some real idiocy. Oklahoma recently passed a big tax hike on tobacco, to both 'discourage' smoking and with promises to use the money to fund health-care programs. So if they succeed in the first, and people stop smoking, the funding for the programs dries up. Whatever do you think they'll do then? Also, bars and restaurants are private property; if the owner wants to allow smoking, that should be that. Don't like it? Don't go there.

"Political Correctness". I am not politically correct, and devoutly hope never to become so. If I do, I hope some friend will put me out of my misery. From speech codes to 'hate crime' laws to general squelching of speech, PC attitudes are a plague on society. Besides the general free-speech problems with it, I hate the condescension of it. "You don't have the intellegence/self-respect/balls to deal with speech that might hurt your feelings, or that you don't like people saying, so we'll ban any words that make you feel bad, you poor, pitiful thing". News flash: free speech has to include people you don't like and ideas you don't agree with, or it becomes nothing but a buzz phrase you use to make yourself feel better about how 'open-minded' you are.

Idiot ideas about firearms. Anytime someone starts off with some variation of 'I hate guns', you know you're in for an earfull of crap. They are tools, made of steel and wood and plastics. They don't have the capacity for good or evil, any more than a hammer or spear or saw. So stop projecting your fears onto them. And stop thinking someone is bad in some way just because they own firearms. Like this:
"When I began my research into gun enthusiasm and gun ownership in the mid-1990s, I learned that a number of my academic colleagues held very similar views. One colleague said (trying to sound positive) that I was commiting a real social service by researching “such disgusting people.” Another informed me that because neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and the Ku Klux Klan all obviously loved their guns, until I recognized that the phenomenon of gun enthusiasm was intrinsically racist, I was an apologist for racist violence. A third colleague told me frequently that she found gun owners utterly repellant, and she was surprised (and more than a little suspicious) that I didn’t find them repellant as well. She insisted that until I recognized and acknowledged the ugliness and inherent pathology of gun enthusiasm, my research was disrepectful to victims of gun violence."
Ah, the tolerance of academia. Put a cork in it, dipshit.

'Evil' SUVs. It's a motor vehicle, that's all. Idiocy committed by the driver is the responsibility of the driver, not the vehicle. Nobody says you have to like it, and you have no right to demand that someone else not be allowed to own one because of your dislike. I drive a truck because a: I like it and b: it's damn handy for hauling stuff. Like topsoil, gravel, forge, etc. I also think it's a safer vehicle than a motorized rollerskate. Yeah, most people who have a H2 buy it as a 'prestige' thing. So what? So do most people who buy luxury and sports cars.

Women who bitch about being looked at. Usually these women are dressed in some revealing manner, but seem to think that men should be blind when around them. Ladies, don't wear a skirt hemmed just below your crotch and a top open down to your waist, or a top that ends just below your boobs and pants cut so low they're about to fall of, and then have a fit because someone dared to look at you. You can't have it both ways. Note: this does not include guys who says stupid things or grab your butt; bitch at them all you want.

Idiots, in government or otherwise, who think the solution for any problem is to pass another law. 'Nuff said.

People who bitch and whine about 'banned books week' here in the U.S., but pay no attention- don't even want to know about- Fidel Castro throwing librarians in prison for checking out books not approved by the government.

People who ooh and ahh over a piece of fine handwork, and then act like you spit on them when they find out the price is higher than some mass-produced crap from China or Pakistan.

More later.

Ah, the wonders of ballistic fingerprinting!

Spending lots of money for little/no result! From Geek with a .45 we find a link from the Maryland State Police that basically admits what a waste of time, money and energy their program has been, and asking they be allowed to basically dump it; there are places the money & people can be much better used.

Of note in the document is their admission that of the very few 'hits' the got, NONE were used in prosecutions. So for years of annoying the citazens and putting one more roadblock in the way of honest gun folks, and spending millions of tax dollars, benefits have been zero. Unless, of course, you're one of the people who thinks that making it harder/more expensive for people to own guns makes it all worth it.

Instapundit has had a number of posts on this kind of mess, in particular ref a study in California (here and here are two). Among other things I thought were interesting was that not only were perfect matches fairly rare when using the same gun and ammo for tests, but simply changing the brand of ammo took another big bite out of the accuracy.

It seems that the enthusiasm for these programs come from two things: one is a misunderstanding of how accurate they actually are, and second is the desire of some to make ownership of arms as expensive and difficult as possible.

Side point: last I heard, Canada's national gun licensing scheme was now somewhere between 500 million and one billion dollars cost. I forget how many hundreds of times over the 'official' estimates this is.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Old movies

No, I don't like all old movies, but some, yes. Just finished watching "Man's Favorite Sport". 1950's, and it's funny. Rock Hudson surely could play a part(in more ways than one).

Cary Grant had some good ones, a favorite being "Father Goose", which I swear I'll buy one of these days. Also "Operation Petticoat", which also had Tony Curtis. I loved "The Pink Panther", and one or two of the sequels were pretty good. "The Lion in Winter" is marvelous, and I do have it.

"Casablanca" is one of the best. A few years ago I finally got my daughter to sit down and watch it. When it was over and I asked what she thought she said, "You know, everything in that movie was a cliche'. Except that when they made it, it wasn't". Which I thought a: she's right, and b: that's downright perceptive.

The "Thin Man" movies with William Powell and Myrna Loy were good. Mysteries with some fine comedy mixed in. "The Quiet Man" is one of my favorites. I think I saw the movie, part of it at least, as a child. And then in school one day I found the short story in a book. Next time it was on tv I watched it and marvelled; they had expanded the story to make the movie, and changed some bits, but overall stayed true to it.

A while back I was at a dollar store and found in their DVDs "The Scarlet Pimpernel". For a dollar, a fine movie. The hero makes a marvelous court suckup, and strong leader out of the public eye, and the villain was truly villainous.

On the subject of movies, something that I both wish had been done and am glad it wasn't. If someone had taken the Fafhrd and Grey Mouser stories by Fritz Leiber and handled them well, any of a number of them would have made damn good movies. My concern was always that the Hollywood crap machinery would screw it up. "So what that he was one of the best writers around? We can make it
better", followed by the march into the toilet. Maybe someday...