Saturday, August 20, 2005

Mexico, what to do about

Was browsing around and a link took me here(dammit, I can't remember where I found the link at!), a guy living in Mexico and his thoughts on what it'll take to fix the situation there.

Short version about a century. With luck.

I've never been there, so I'm going by many things I've heard and read. I know it's about the only country where the State Department recommended that any U.S. citazen getting in a legal problem is better off paying a bribe than trying to handle it in court(do they still recommend that?). I know that in many cities they paid police a bare-minimum salary because it was expected they would take bribes. But his description is amazing.

Take a look and see what you think about it.

My primary take for the last few years was wishing President Fox would shut the hell up about how Mexicans have a 'right' to come here any time they please, and worry about fixing his own damn country. This post just made it worse. It also made worse my wish that Pres. Bush would tell him to shut the hell up and start doing something on his side of the border.

Friday, August 19, 2005

More OKC Bombing news

KTOK-AM carried this story today: "Salt Lake City attorney Jesse Trentadue says he is surprised at the order of a federal judge who wants to see unredacted FBI files in Trentadue's Freedom of Information fight."

I mentioned in my last post on this that Mr. Trentadue had received a bunch of documents; they were heavily redacted, with names and information blacked out.

"Earlier this week the judge made it known to the FBI he wants to see the FBI files turned over to Trentadue last month. But Judge Dale A. Kimball told the FBI he personally wants to see the 'unredacted' version of the documents, those papers which have not been blacked out by the government to protect the names of individuals. The judge set a hearing for October 12th at 3pm."

This is serious stuff. If the judge sees that government lawyers lied to him, I believe that is an offense for which they can be disbarred and/or prosecuted. If the FBI agents involved are proven to have lied, I do believe that is called purjury, and carries a prison sentance. And it would almost certainly go 'way up the chain of command in the FBI and Justice Department.

If you haven't heard of this mess before, what started Trentadue digging into it? "Trentadue has been fighting the government for documents about the August 1995 death of his brother Kenneth Trentadue at the Oklahoma City Federal Transfer Center. He believes his brother died in a fierce FBI interrogation because he closedly matched the description of a suspect sought in the bombing of the Murrah building."

And the longer the government lawyers drag this out, the worse it'll be in the end.

Part 4, hardening and tempering

Heat-treating is generally two steps. First, you have to get the piece up to critical temperature, evenly thoughout the length and width(more on that later), and quench it in whatever's appropriate for that steel to harden it. Second, you have to heat it up again, but to a much lower temperature; you have to ease the stresses in the blade enough that it won't be brittle, but will still be hard enough to hold an edge well.

What steel you used decides what the critical temperature will be, how you quench it, and how you temper it. Most of the fairly simple carbon steels are very similar in these respects; critical temperature is 1450-1550 degrees F. They can all be quenched in oil to harden. And the temperatures for tempering range from 350-600, depending on the steel and the use intended. A blade that has to be able to do heavy cutting and chopping shouldn't be as hard as one for fine work where you don't want to have to sharpen it often, for instance.

To touch basically- very basically- on how this works, steel has a crystilline structure that changes according to temperature and stress. When you heat it up to the critical temp, several things happen. The matrix of the structure opens up and carbon atoms can actually migrate through it(this is what allows case-hardening to work); the steel gets soft(duh); and most steels go non-magnetic(this temp is also known as the curie point). If you take a piece to a low heat, say 1200 F, and let it cool slowly, you normalize it, evening out and relieving stresses in the piece. If you get it to that temp and cool it very slowly, in hot ashes for instance, you can anneal it, making it as soft and easy to work as it can be, with the structure settling into, let's call it a relaxed structure(yes, there are specific words for the different states, but I can't remember them right now and don't have a reference handy; I'll try to add them in later). If you take it to the critical temperature and quench it, the structure freezes in a very stressed state, and under a microscope the structure will look different, with a needle-like appearance called martinsite(the one word I remember offhand). A high-carbon steel in this state is very hard; a sharp file won't cut it, and it's so brittle that dropping it might crack or break it. Tempering changes the structure a bit and relieves some of the stress, and here you have the hardness/toughness balancing act.

Let's say I'm making a large bowie or dirk out of 5160 spring stock. First problem is to get it up to proper heat along the full length. If you have access to or decide to buy or make an electric furnace, no problem; set the temperature to 1500F, set the blade in the oven and let it get to critical heat. In a forge, you may have to modify the firebed to get a long, narrow fire. What I wound up doing is taking a piece of about 3" diameter steel pipe long enough to fit into the firepot; split it lengthwise; then drill a bunch of holes in one half, no bigger than 1/4" and all along the length and partway down the sides. Then, get a piece of sheet steel and cut an hourglass shape out(you'll have to measure, cut and try to get it to fit), bend it in the middle, take the grate out of the firepot and set this into the hole. The idea is this piece will spread the air blast along the length of the pipe grate, instead of mostly hitting in the center. Set the pipe grate in place, and build your fire over it.

While the fire burns, make sure your quench method is ready. With smaller pieces you can use a can or bucket of oil, but for longer ones you'll need more length. A double-edge piece will have to be quenched point down, but a single-edge can be quenched lengthwise. I got a piece of steel channel about 3" square, cut one side open, and had ends welded on; I can fill it half to two-thirds full and do a fairly long and heavy blade in it. In either case the oil needs to be warmed, because it will flow better and give a more even effect; I usually set a piece of bar stock about 1" diameter in the fire while it's burning clean, and when the bar is low red, put it in the oil, you want it at about 100 F. A point here about single-edge blades; you don't have to heat them all the way from edge to back. Take a dirk that's about 2" wide at the ricasso and tapering. You can heat it so the area about 1/2" to 3/4" back from the edge is at critical temp and lower it edge-first into the oil. It'll smoke and bubble something fierce, and may ignite on the surface, so use tongs that will hold it securely and give you some distance. The advantages of this are two; first it's a lot easier in most cases to heat this section than the whole width of the blade, and this gives a hardened edge section with a softer, tougher back. Done right a blade like this is incredibly tough, and you probably won't live long enough to wear back through the hardened section. Further note: with a long single-edge blade, I try to finish the forging and grinding so the piece actually curves up toward the back a bit; when you quench it the edge section will shrink and pull it down into line.

You'll need to let the fire burn clean and even, then set the piece in. You want a very low air blast here; the piece needs to heat up slowly and evenly, so move it back & forth a bit too. You can check the temperature four ways. If you have one/access to one, an infrared thermometer would be nice. You can use a Templestick, a high-temperature crayon; pick one for the temp you want and either mark the blade and wait 'til it melts or lift it enough to wipe the crayon on it. You can use a magnet. When I mentioned they go non-magnetic, it means that at that temp a magnet will not stick, so you can use a shop magnet on a handle and touch it to the blade, when it doesn't stick you're there. And you can do it traditionally, learn to know the color that means you're there. I'd say a cherry red, but the description varies by who's giving it, so use some scrap pieces and practice. If the piece is not hot enough, it won't harden completely; too hot and the structure enlarges and the piece will be weaker than it should, in extreme cases the edge can actually crumble a bit under stress. So work the piece back & forth and watch the heat. When it's ready lift it out and put it into the quench. If you do this inside, you better have a fan set up for ventilation, especially with a big piece it takes a bit for it to lose heat and the oil will be smoking the whole time. Leave it until all heat coloring has disappeared, and if possible a while more, then take it out and let it cool completely. Turn the fire down but not out, because when the piece has reached ambient temperature, you need to clean it off thoroughly; inspect it for any warping so you'll know where to straighten it(mark with soapstone or something similar); and harden it again. I generally do two quenches with most steels. After the second, leave it in the oil for a while, then take it out and let it cool. And unless you're doing another piece, you can put the fire out now.

When the piece is all the way cooled off, inspect it again, and if all is well you can start tempering it. I wipe it down thoroughly, then wash it with dish soap(Dawn in my case) to get rid of the scale and oil, and put it in the oven. Yes, the one I bake in, which is why I'm fairly damn picky about washing all the oil off first. I set the heat at 375 F for the first heat, let it get up to temp and then leave it for about an hour. Then I pull it out and let it cool, then I hit it with the belt grinder to shine the sides up. I could probably do this before the first heat, but if I drop it it might crack, so I do one heat first. After shining it up I put it back in and, in the case of a piece like this, set the heat up to 425, leave it for long enough to get up to heat plus one hour. Pull it out, let it cool and check the color. For a big blade like this I want a bronze color, or dark yellow, along the edge. If it's lighter than that I increase the heat for the next time. If it got too hot? I reduce the heat by 25 degrees for the next heat, and hope the testing shows it's not softer than I want. Which is why I start below what I figure is needed and work up. And yes, for some things I know what temp I want and just go with it, but for bigger or more intricate shapes I start a bit low.

I do three tempering heats, cooling completely between. After cooling from the last heat, it's time for the next step: testing.

Carnival of Cordite #27

Over at Gullyborg. Some interesting stuff again, so go see.

And when you can, look over his place; it's well worth the time.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Ok, THIS just screws up my good mood

Went over to Kim's place and found this. Short version, they Brazilian the British cops killed was killed in error and the cops lied about it.

No 'heavy coat', no 'suspicious behaviour', no 'attempt to flee'. Instead the cops screwed the pooch bigtime and killed the man.

Crap. As Kim says, read the whole article here for the full flavor of this screwup.

The Gunny Bestiary

The last time I went to the range, I found that some people had left behind what is termed, by handloaders, as a 'buttload' of .30-06 and .30-30 brass, heavy on the '06. It occurred to me, as I was picking this up, that there is a sub-species of shooter that might not be that familiar to the new shooter, and to some more experienced folks. Thus, I present this small contribution to your knowledge base.

The Handloader or Reloader (brassus used pickupus) is a somewhat common subtype of the shooting genus. Physical appearance can vary widely; both sexes can be found in this type. Often the male of this type has a mate who shakes her head and mutters things when he brings a new bounty into the nest area; females are usually mated to a male who is also a Reloader. There is some disagreement as to whether this is an actual subspecies, or simply a common shooter(bang-bang multiplus) who has been infected by some agent causing this change in behaviour.

In the nest area they are easy to tell. The work areas tend to have buckets/bags full of cartridge cases, instruments known as 'loading presses' and 'scales' and 'measures', and (often) numerous books and other publications on this subject. Occasionally the work area has a strange scent reminiscent of smokeless propellent, which when noticed causes cursing and a rapid search by the Handloader for any loose lids on containers. There may also be precision instruments(they claim) such as 'micrometers' and 'calipers'. The 'scale' and 'measure' should probably fit into this classification, but depending on whether they have been dropped/knocked down/shot, they may not actually be that precise.

In the 'open range' environment they sometimes may be told by plastic ammo boxes and notebooks on the bench; truly rabid specimens may have some of the 'scales' and/or 'measures' and a 'press' on the bench, where they mutter alchemical formulae and construct their own ammunition. These signs are often missing, however there is an almost no-fail method of telling the specimen; they will often be found, after they or someone else has finished shooting, walking around/in front of the benches in a crouch picking up fired cases. If in doubt, observe closely and you may well see the specimen holding the fired case in such a way as to attempt to see how many holes are in the bottom; since the hole/holes will be on the inside, this can lead to some amusing head and hand motions as they attempt to see inside.

In the clubhouse or gun store they may also be found speaking in tongues, referring to things such as 'meplat' and 'leade' and IMR(followed by numbers); they can sometimes become rather testy and loud when some other Handloader informs them that their 'pet load' doesn't work worth crap and that the Handloader being addressed is an idiot.

Overall the Handloader, while sometimes boring/annoying, is a harmless creature, as long as you do not smoke in the work area; this activity can cause serious upset in the being.

Although it is suspected to be an infectious activity as opposed to an actual different type, no special protection is required in their presence.

Although occasionally earplugs may be considered a plus. Especially if someone does smoke in the work area.

For what it's worth.

No more of my money for this idiot

I always liked the music of Carlos Santana. Never knew much about him, other than his being a good musician. Then, a few months ago I read of his wearing a 'Che' t-shirt to the Oscars, and the reaction to that. And today, I read this, linking to this.

Crap. I really hate finding out that an artist I admire has turned out to be a jackass such as this. Especially when it's someone who, had he lived in Cuba under castro and his little butt-monkey, would have wound up in a camp and/or spending a few years in the cane fields.

Want to find out more about this? Go here, it's the search page for Babalu Blog on 'Santana', and click around. Just about guarenteed to piss you off. At least if you actually care about the idea of freedom.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

As Kim puts it, it's Red Curtain Of Blood time

If this crap (found at Libercontrarian) doesn't make you see red and need breakables put out of reach, you need help.

We've been hearing a lot lately about judicial arrogance and abuse of authority; this is exactly the kind of crap spoken of. People held in jail and no communication allowed with the outside world, because the judge says he feels 'threatened'.

This idiot SHOULD feel threatened, threatened with being thrown off the bench, disbarred, and tried and jailed for his violations of the highest law of this land. And THEN his ass sued off, along with every idiot, like the prosecutor, who had a part in this. As the Rivrdog put it, this is the kind of thing that makes people remember what the 2nd Amendment is there for.

Just read it.

It seems connected...

By that I mean the stuff I've noted earlier about the FBI & co. telling lies to judges and defense attorneys and covering up, and the other covering up coming uncovered ref the 9/11 Commission and Atta and Able Danger.

As various people from Roger to the Captain(here and here) to Mark Steyn have been pointing out, the commission, it turns out, seems to have spent as much time acting to protect people as it did actually, oh, investigating things. When on the commission, as Steyn puts it, "There was at least one person with an outrageous conflict of interest: Clinton Justice Department honcho Jamie Gorelick, who shouldn't have been on the commission but instead a key witness appearing in front of it.", that tells you something about the aims of the commission.
And seems to match up pretty well with what has been happening in the OKC Bombing case; lots of information turning up that shows the FBI knew a lot more about McVeigh and connections to other people than it said, that the Bureau lied about it, and is stonewalling to try to cover up as much as possible.

I've said before that I take no pleasure in pointing out this crap. I grew up around law enforcement, I always respected those wo do the work and expected that they would do the right thing. Especially a group like the FBI. I don't question that there are good people in that agency, and ATF; I also no longer question that there are bad people there, people who will lie under oath, and cover up wrongdoing by themselves and others, and do almost anything to protect 'the Agency' or 'the Bureau', including violating the oath to protect and defend the Constitution that they took. And there's far too many politicians who will wink at it, or actively support it, for various reasons. It's horribly disillusioning, it's downright painful, and I don't like it.

The best that can come out of this is fairly simple and straightforward: find the ones who lied, who did wrong, who covered up, and a: fire them and b: prosecute them. If for some reason you can't prosecute them, you can at least get them out of their position so they can't do more harm and make examples of them. We NEED law enforcement to be trusted, to be able to do the job, and we won't- probably can't- have that if they don't act, and Congress won't act, to clean it up when things like this happen. The problem is there are, as I mentioned, people in Congress who think it's a good thing they did these things because it suits whatever agenda they're trying to promote.

God, this is a mess.

Monday, August 15, 2005

I'm baaaaaack...

But not much to say tonight. Good visit with some good folks. An even better visit in that it involved helping them choose and buy things that go 'bang'.

Oh, you know Cabela's? Big catalog store, until recently didn't have a store anywhere in the region; until now. They recently opened a store just north of Fort Worth, and we spent some time looking around. Lord, it's huge! Guns and ammo and bows and boats and clothes and boots and sharp things and fishing gear and, and, and.... If you're anywhere close enough, it's worth the trip to see. Where else are you going to find .470 Nitro Express snap caps and, in the fine guns room, a .470 double rifle? AND a couple of .500 Nitro Express.

There's even a damn candy store, with some of the best fudge you'll ever find.