Saturday, January 26, 2008

Rollerblading like you've never seen

Sometimes you can't just jump into something.

This young Korean girl takes her time setting up what turns out to be an incredible performance.

Why should Ice Skaters have all the moves?

People, not guns, are the problem

People, not guns, are the problem

It has been said many times, not the least of which is here, but somehow it seems to ring with a more powerful appeal here ... at the ultra-liberal, ultra-antigun Seattle Post Intelliger OPINION section.

Laurel S. Barton, 'guest columnist', states the facts and not the anti-gun spin:

Body counts garner attention from the media like a flashy neon sign. They create buzz, such as Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels' gun control stance that quotes the figure of 550 violent firearms crimes in 2005 ("Seattle weighs in on handgun ban," Wednesday).

Most people will be horrified and will fail to ask the crucial, underlying question: How many of those guns were purchased legally? After all, laws will affect guns legally acquired, not those from secondary sources. The answer: 15 percent of guns used in crimes are legally obtained. That leaves 85 percent unaffected by changes to gun control laws.

...

The Second Amendment was not an invention by its author, James Madison. It has a long common-law history, a history that afforded this nation the ability to defeat the British during the Revolutionary War. Moreover, in 1856, almost 100 years after the Bill of Rights, the Supreme Court affirmed the interpretation of the Second Amendment in the Dred Scott decision, stating every man has the right "to keep and carry arms."

The problem in this country is not gun control, it's the people. That's right: you. The foundational documents were written with faith in its people. That we were the safest reservoir for absolute power to reside in, and that, if we were not free-thinking enough to exercise that power correctly, the solution was not to take power away, but to educate.

Perhaps the most telling comment in Barton's screed is:
Mommy government is not always going to be there to protect you.
This is the basic credo which is often overlooked in PI-Land.

"Mommy Government" ... essentially, Socialism ... is an attempt to establish The State as the ultimate arbiter of the public good. That is, it puts The State not only as the first and last resource for protecting its citizens, but the ONLY means by which we can be protected from each other.

As we have found to be true with every other bureaucracy, and every other government program, it just doesn't work.

Witness Russia, Zimbabwe, and every socialist state in history.

Friday, January 25, 2008

News - Sheriff cracking down on gun permits - sacbee.com

From the Sacramento Bee:

Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness has revoked concealed weapon permits of a gubernatorial appointee and a state parole official while also vowing to overhaul permit record keeping, both in the wake of a Bee investigation.

Syd, at the Snub Nose Press.

The sheriff's office noted that both public officials for had been cited for driving under the influence (DUI), found that they had Concealed Carry Permits (CCP), and yanked their carry licenses.

McGinness said he canceled both permits because the holders displayed questionable judgment.

"Generally, a DUI conviction on your record should be presumed to be a disqualifier," for a concealed gun permit, he said.

The Sheriff's Department can allow people to carry a loaded gun if they have "good moral character" and prove they have "good cause" for needing a gun, according to state law. But the state grants leeway to local law enforcement in determining which applicants fit those definitions.

I think this was an appropriate action. Possession of a CCP (known in Oregon, under technically different legislative action as a Conceal Handgun License, or CHL) implies that the recipient is trusted to demonstrate responsible judgment under all circumstances. In these cases, the possession of a handgun was not a factor in the violation; however, the violation of law serves to demonstrate that the licensee was not morally or legally responsible.

Holding CCP bearers to a higher standard seems entirely appropriate, in this litigious society.

However, the state law obviously is less inclusive than a 'shall issue' standard. To continue from the previous quote:
The Sheriff's Department can allow people to carry a loaded gun if they have "good moral character" and prove they have "good cause" for needing a gun, according to state law. But the state grants leeway to local law enforcement in determining which applicants fit those definitions.

Despite that, The Bee's investigation found a number of questionable calls, including permits granted for such needs as carrying a lot of money or wearing expensive jewelry. A bounty hunter received a concealed weapon permit even though he had been accused of domestic violence and had been subject to a temporary restraining order – although he was never convicted of a crime.

[Ed: emphasis added]

...

The Bee's review found that [former Sacramento County Sheriff] Blanas had issued a concealed weapon permit to a campaign contributor who bought a vacation home with him and to a couple who contributed cash and liquor to his campaigns, who were allowed to complete their gun training at the department's officer-only range.

In a 'shall issue' state, such as Oregon, patrimony and political contributions are not considered. If a citizen here can show that he is of good moral (and legal) character, with certain other restrictions, and can provide signed testaments to that effect and proof of hangun training, the county 'shall issue' the permit. That is, there is no requirement to establish a 'need' to carry a concealed weapon. That 'need' clause is rife with possibilities to abuse, and is not necessary. In a free society, an honest citizen should not be required to state the circumstances under which he 'needs' to carry a weapon. The very fact of rampant predation in all 50 states should suffice. More, the 2nd amendment supports the 'shall issue' clause.

Compare this to the 'need' to vote, and the ways in which voter qualification laws have historically been abused in the interest of preventing the Negro vote.

We don't have to establish a 'need' to vote, or to possess the right to defend ourselves; those rights are acknowledged in the Constitution.

In 1964, while a college student (under 21 years of age!), I applied for and was 'granted' a Concealed Carry License by a sheriff in Oregon on the grounds that I worked in the summer months as a traveling salesman, carrying cash. My 'need' was, in fact, legitimate. But I traveled 12 months of the year, and my 'need' was as great as a student traveling between college and my parental home on weekends ... but I couldn't get a license to carry without demonstrating that the possible risk of theft was a legitimate justification for the ability to defend myself.

I found that irksome 44 years ago, and resented that the State required me to acquiesce to the concept that the 'need' to protect my employer's money was more important than my 'need to protect my private person.

I resent it still.

USMC Silent Drill Platoon

Except for the time when they are throwing their M14's back and forth, the entire drill is performed with fixed bayonets. No commands are issued during the drill.



Sondra k

Thursday, January 24, 2008

850 rounds through an M-60


You may not be familiar with the M60 machine gun. It was almost exclusively a Viet Nam War weapon of the U.S. Military, and while Infantry is known as "The Queen of Battle", the M60 may be considered the "Queen Consort of Battle".

This crew-served weapon was expected expected to lay down a 'base of fire' in any engagement, and it was well designed for that purpose. This belt-fed weapon fired 600 rounds of 7.62 (.308) ammunition per minute. Weighing just (!) 17 pounds, it was capable of laying down what was popularly called 'a wall of steel' (even though it fired copper-jacketed lead bullets, of course) upon the enemy while support troops either maneuvered to engage the enemy from the flanks, or (as a fixed-defense weapon) the support troops engaged the 'leakers' .. those enemy which avoided its deadly kill-zone .. with their M-16 personal weapons.

Much lighter than the M2 .50 Caliber machine gun, this weapon did not require a tripod mounting device to set it up for engagement. The gun was typically carried with the bipod retracted. In the event that the unit found itself in a 'hasty ambush' ... no warning, the unit walked into an ambush and was unable to establish a 'safe' position for the gun ... the M60 could be fired from the hip, as it was usually carried on a combat sling which facilitated its use while the gunner was standing.

Give only a few moments, the gunner could drop to the prone position, deploy the integral bipod support, and provide an immediate 100 rounds of supporting fire. (The bun was carried with a 100-round belt mounted, with the excess belt-length supported by a canvas 'bag'.)

The assistant gunner (AG) carried either 100 or 200 rounds in a linked belt on his person. In a meeting engagement, there was sufficient time for the AG to connect his carry-ammo with the gunner's carry belt so that the machine gun had 300 rounds of 'immediate action' ammunition.

Because this was a major-caliber fun ( .308 compared to the .22* caliber of the M16 carried by most of an infantry company/platoon/squad), this gun was able to pour a solid stream of fire into any enemy ambush position, early establishing a dominating base of fire to overwhelm the enemy's pre-planned ambush.

The only drawback was that after approximately 300 rounds, the barrel would heat up to the point where this air-cooled weapon was unable to further shed excess heat. At that point the screw-in barrel would first turn red-hot ... and the gun would 'cook off' ammunition so that the runner was unable to cease firing without breaking off the belt-fed ammunition.

If this did not happen, the gun would continue to fire to the point at which the barrel would be sufficiently hot that it would turn white, and then discontinue firing because the barrel actually malformed, causing a malfunction in firing.

Changing the barrel (after the approximately 300 rounds) required the gunner to have in his immediately accessible possession an asbestos-based glove with which he could grab the hot barrel, give it a quarter-turn clockwise to disengage it, and discard the hot barrel. A machine gun crew was expected to ALWAYS have a spare replacement barrel. Unfortunately, in the heat of combat (sorry for the pun), the crew didn't always have the presence-of-mind to replace the barrel before the gun locked up. The result is that the gun was often put out-of-service not because it was knocked out by the enemy, but because it was no longer servicable due to heat build-up.

S.A.W.
In the Middle-East (the "Gulf War"), these limitations were deemed unnecessary. While war in Viet Nam, with its predominantly jungle environment required a heavy bullet to penetrate foliage which was being used by the enemy as cover, the essentially desert environment of the Middle East reduced the need for a heavy-bullet machine gun.

Instead of evolving the M60 (7.62mm) to the next generation, the decision was to evolve the M16 (5.56mm). One distinct advantage was that more rounds of ammunition could be carried per pound of load weight, and it wasn't usually necessary to designate an 'assistant gunner' (or 'ammo carrier') for this weapon. Instead of being a crew-served weapon appropriate to platoon-sized or heavier engagements, the SAW was appropriate to squad-size engagements. There was no perceived need to carry a 'brush buster' round; a magazine-fed fully-automatic weapon with a limited initial ammunition supply (~20 rounds) was deemed sufficient unto the tasks for which it was require.

Some of the advantages of this approach were:
  • SAWs require less training than medium or heavy automatic weapons. Fully automatic weapons require large amounts of expensive live-fire training before troops learn to actually hit targets while not wasting ammunition. SAW doctrine reduces training costs by limiting advanced training to a few picked specialists, usually the men who carry the weapon and its spare ammunition.
  • SAWs are more effective than assault rifles in fully automatic mode. Hand-held fully automatic fire is difficult to control and is less likely to hit an incapacitating part of the enemy's anatomy. A SAW usually has a bipod, which permits the operator to rest the weapon on the ground or other object, increasing stability and reducing operator fatigue.
  • SAWs are more reliable than assault rifles under intense firing. A practical assault rifle needs to be lightweight, and is therefore prone to overheat or malfunction under the stresses of continuous fully automatic fire. Because it is carried by a specialist with a specialized pack load, a SAW can have a heavier barrel and a sturdier action without unduly burdening the entire squad.
This was 'good theory', but in practice the advent of Urban Warfare again showed that heavy bullets provided the penetration needed for effective assault-type warfare. Also, the ability to fire a HUGE number of rounds spoke in favor of an M60-type light machine gun ... except for the niggling problem of rapid overheating.

Enter the improved metallurgy of the 21st Century M60 machine gun.

This gun is able to fire 850+ rounds of ammunition in a very short time, without the need to change the barrel. The overall design hasn't changed significantly since 1960, because it is now able to meet a newly defined mission statement:

"Put a lot of heavy rounds downrange, quickly, without a debilitating maintenance overhead."

The new version of the M60 machinegun performs so well that it meets that minimal requirement handsomely. Yes, it IS a 'crew-served' weapon, if only because the gun cannot be uses to its maximum potential without an assistant-gunner to feed the weapon to the limit of its capabilities. It's still a 17-pound weapon, and carrying the gun with a 'ready action' ammunition in excess of 100 rounds is still a debilitating burden on the gunner.

But with an assistant gunner whose only duties are the (a) feed the gun, and (b) protect the gunner, this new-and-improved light machinegun seems likely to meet mission requirements which have yet to be fully defined in a combat environment.


One thing is sure: the new and improved M60 can not only lay down a daunting 'base of fire', but it can hold its position for a significant period of time, but it can dominate the battleground during that period.


Fifteen THOUSAND rounds? Woof!
(DOWNLOAD this 3mb file here.)

The Hobo Brasser



video

Kids, don't try this at home!

From a blogger known as "Dishhead", here's a cautionary tale of a Negligent Discharge at the loading bench.



Be aware that this website includes a lot of close-ups of the gunshot wounds. They are not for the squeamish, and perhaps NSFW (Not Safe For Work)

In his blog, he said he had been installing a new grip safety in his 1911 .45acp (Federal Hydro Shok ammunition", and was testing the safety when a loud noise startled him. Then he realized he was bleeding. Then the pain came.

He had a through-and-through in his right thigh above the knee, and then another through-and-through in his calf. Apparently, he didn't break any bones ... but there are some pieces of the bullet remaining in his leg.

"I got so used to handling guns and taking them apart and putting them together that safety measures became automatic." he said.

There are a lot of unanswered questions here, among them: "how did you end up with a loaded 1911 when you had just installed a Grip Safety? Surely you didn't work on the gun with a magazine inserted."

I'm grateful to Dishhead for posting this information. I know he's embarrassed, but a dedicated blogger will write about a personal event of this magnitude no matter the personal consequences. It not only illustrates the need to avoid a lackadaisical attitude when handling firearms, but it's a sure and certain way to increase traffic at your blog!

(Sorry, that last was rude but I couldn't resist the temptation.)

Or, as The Hobo Brasser delights in telling me:
"It may be that your purpose in life is to serve as a horrible example."

Dishhead has been updating this article daily. I'll certainly stay tuned to learned whether he is the luckiest man alive.



Xavier Thoughts wrote about this today, thanks for the link.

UPDATE:

When I was talking to SWMBO tonite, describing the incident, she said: "I bet he has a flat spot on his forehead from pounding himself with his fist, saying 'stupid! stupid! stupid! "

We all know how easy it is to find ourself in that situation. Been there, done that ... but without the blood and the pain. Just the embarrassment.

I'm personally gratified to learn that I'm not the only reloader whose loading bench is the centerpiece in a disastrously messy work area.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Heller via WSJ

Misfire at Justice - WSJ.com

Perhaps one of the most concise and cogent discussions of the fall-out from the DC Gun Ban lawsuits I've seen.

It fits well with my own commentary in that it offers a rationalization of Clement's Amicus brief. But it goes far beyond by considering the "legal standard applied by Judge Silberman".

For additional thought-provoking commentary, see this piece in Human Events.


Links to both articles from David Codrea in War Against Guns, and if you're not reading his blog every day you're missing a blog which I think so much of that I've moved the sidebar link to "Blogs I Read Every Day".

For me, that's something.

Wake Up America?

Rivrdog links to a hi-tech video urging Americans to "wake up!"

Right-wing fear mongering?

Overblown hyperbole?

A timely call for action?

As Fox News says: "We report, you decide"

Journalists as Clergy

The Smallest Minority, one of my favorite reads, spent Sunday (and also Friday, Thursday, Wednesday and just maybe Tuesday) writing about Political Bias in American Journalism.

It goes without saying that this is a Geek-Length essay. Kevin obviously agrees with my personal credo, that any subject worth discussing is worth dissecting. And dissect he does, with references to books by such journalistic outcasts as Bernard Goodman and John Stossel.

In keeping with the essential 2nd amendment flavor of this blog, the NRA is prominently featured (as are AARP and ACLU). Not to mention the NY Times and the Washington Post. et al the Liberal Print Media.

Favorite quotes:

. "Note that we move here well beyond the notion of mere gun control and into the realm of general social control, management and regulation."

. "Perhaps the most pervasive way in which journalists are different from normal people is that journalists live in a world dominated by government, and they reflexively see government action as the default way to approach any problem."

. "Of the five groups, NRA necessarily anchors the negative end. The very existence of the potential for uncoordinated violence represented by guns is a threat to an administrative control hermeneutic. Guns simply invite administration. "

. "At the top of the scale, HCI represents the essence of the administrative hermeneutic. It stands for scientific management or rational control and regulation of a problem quite often framed as a general public health concern."

. "
Although I had accurately anticipated the reluctance of NRA officials in releasing information about the activities of their organization, I did not anticipate a general reluctance and the outright refusal of some journalists to explain their activities. Most of the journalists would not return calls when they were contacted and asked to participate in the study. Callbacks did not help. Neither did assurances of anonymity help to reverse the refusals. The non-response rate, thus defined, is almost 95 percent."

Essentially, journalists see themselves not only as members of a profession, the goal of which is "... disseminating and interpreting the administrative word and its symbols unto the public." They may not have written the gospel, but ... hey, wait a minute; they did and they still do.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

January Personals

Randomly Hittin' Witten
My old friend, former IPSC shooter and current Shotgunner, dog-trainer without peer and BBG Master Randy wrote today to say that he's looking for someone who will build him a "cutting edge website" for his business.

I put him in touch with another friend, Brian, who (among other accomplishments) is the webmaster for the Albany Rifle & Pistol Club.

Only trouble is, Brian lives in Albany and Randy lives in Portland. It's less than 100 miles, but Brian may not have the time nor the inclination to commute for the personal conferences which such enterprises inevitably require.

So if you're a web designer in the Portland, Oregon area, or you can recommend someone who is, please email at the addy on the pickup tailgate (bottom of this page).

_____________________________________________________________

New Hardware

SWMBO gifted me with some new computer hardware this Christmas, and tonite I finally plugged them into the Mighty Geek Puter.

First was an ACER 20" LCD Monitor.
I was concerned about installing this, because my computer table is a roll-top desk. I wasn't as much worried about the footprint (my old 19" DELL ViewSonic weighs a ton and takes up more depth than width) as I was about the ease of installation. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the new monitor sits far enough back that I could dig the keyboard out of the keyboard drawer, put it on the desktop (which is at a much more comfortable height) and still have bare desk left over.

Next was a Logitech MX1000 Laser Cordless Mouse.
I haven't actually installed this one yet. But I did all the 'advance work (opened the box, plugged the recharging dock into a power source, put the mouse in the dock to charge.) It has been an hour, and looking at the indicator lights on the mouse I see that it is 'fully charged'. But I don't want to switch to the new mouse quite yet, because as long as I'm using my MicroSoft corded laser mouse, I don't have to reboot.

SWMBO chose this particular mouse because she loves me like crazy. Either that, or I'm driving her crazy complaining about the cord. (As far as I'm concerned, either rationale is acceptable as long as I get rid of the *&@#$! cord, man!)

One of the problems with having a roll-top desk for a computer table is that the mousepad almost necessarily rests on a pull-out 'breadboard' on either side. That's convenient, sure. You can be either left-hand or right-hand dominant, and the mouse is equally close to hand.

But the stinkin' cord, when you push the mouse 'up', gets caught in the gap between the breadboard and the face of the desk. The result is a hang-up, as I try to tug the cord out of the space which I have cleverly named the 'mousetrap'. Actually, I usually call it the *&@#$! mousetrap.

This SHOULD solve the problem because there is [DUH!] not cord. Therefore, there is no *&@#$! mousetrap.

I'll let you know tomorrow how this works out. But I'm already in love with the new cordless laser mouse (don't let nobody sell you a mouse that isn't laser, 'cause that is the Jones, I'm tellin' you!)

The only drawbacks that I can see are:
  1. you have to get use to the feel of a new mouse, which totally screws your Minesweeper stats;
  2. you have to put the mouse in the charging dock at the end of every puter session;
  3. I have NO idea if the mouse can spend as much time on the puter without recharging as I can;
  4. since the recharging dock plugs into the same power bar as the puter, I can no longer turn off the master switch when I'm done working for the night. I can only turn off the power switch for the PC.
That last isn't such a big deal. I just have to learn new habits. Since the BlueBird of Happiness burned my last PC, I've become a Belt AND Suspenders guy about protecting my PC from power surges. Fortunately, I recognize that I am obsessive and I can probably convince myself that I can go to sleep at night with only ONE power switch protecting my PC from burnout.

And no, it isn't easy being me.
__________________________________________________

I'm not going t0 do THAT again!

For personal reasons, I chose to spend my 3-day MLK-day holiday weekend driving to Baker City, Oregon.

I was confident that I could [ahem] weather the weather, and it's not as if I'm unaccustomed to driving in snow. Also, I was confident that the I84 freeway would be relatively snow-free, as Oregon may not do a lot of 'good things' but they know how to keep the Interstate Freeways open.

How else are Californians going to import their beer here?

I drove the 385 miles to Baker City in 7 hours. Simple. Put the charge-o-meter (cruise control) on '70'm, drive until the gas-o-meter (fuel gauge) reads 1/4 tank left. Gas up. Drive the rest of the way.

I left at 11am, after prudently buying a set of tire chains from Les Schwab (if you don't use them, Les will buy them back next summer ... it's a policy of essentially free tire chains over the winter. Les made a fortune with this kind of policies.) The freeway was dry all the way. I pulled in to the Oregon Trail Motel at 6pm, got my room and dinner at the attached restaurant at 8pm ...and it was snowing.


When I got up the next morning, the landscape was filled with snow and my Damned Old Ford was black on the bottom, white on the top.

I took care of my business, waited until 11am to start my trip back. My hope was that the freeway traffic would have cleared the freeway of enough snow that the pavement would be clear of snow.



This was only partly true.

As I approached the first range of mountains, I saw a line of trucks pulled off to the shoulder of the freeway, chaining up.

The country to the side was beautiful in its snowy mantle, but I was having problems. The 19 degree weather had frozen my windshield wipers (not replaced since I bought the Damned Old Ford in July of 2006), and trucks passing me were kicking up muddy slush ... which I could not remove. The windshield washers, of course, were frozen up, the nozzles clogged. This did not change all day.


At the bottom of the other side of that small mountain range, there was another line of class-8 trucks, wearily removing their tire chains because there was too much bare pavement; that breaks tire chains, they had no choice.

After I passed La Grande (a major town in these here parts), I continued on I84 over the BGlue Mountains. There was a sign posted to the effect that "Chains Are Required For Vehicles Over 10,000 Pounds And For All Towing Vehicles". Yup, you guessed it. Another line of semis chaining up along the road.


The next 40 miles was Forty Miles of Bad Road. Part of the roadway was clear, due to previous traffic. That will break chains, as was evident by the occasional pile of broken tire chains on the roadway. It looked like like the trail of a dyspeptic chain monster, who shat chains every few miles. And of course, the 10 freeway miles past La Grande was crowded by truckers who had wearily pulled off the main road to chain up again.

The last 10 miles in the mountains, though, around the vicinity of Meacham, was Trucker Hell. There was no bare pavement, no visibility, and no forgiveness. Just mile after mile of 6 percent downgrade, weak guardrails to keep us from sliding off the road, and we all ... me, and the truckers ... understood why chains WERE required for traversing this Hell Ride.

It took me three hours to drive the 96 miles between Baker City and Pendleton. The last ten mile .. after the end of Killer Hill (nobody ever officially renamed 'Cabbage Hill", originaly named for the Skunk Cabbage plants which populate the roadside during the summer months) were clear of snow. But it's worth the moment to go back and review the road.

There's a place just before Cabbage Hill on this freeway, part of the original Oregon Trail, which is called "Dead Man's Pass". Much like the Donner Party, a wagon train in the 1860's was said to have been snowbound during an ill-timed winter crossing, with many members of the party freezing to death. This was only a historic site in my mind before today. I grew up in this country, and the place never seemed too daunting to me.

That day, though, I was ready to believe that people had died because of the weather. There were no (or few) bare patches on the freeway. Every inch was a slippery, snowy hell.

I quit taking pictures at this point. Too scary to drive, let alone use only one hand on the steering wheel.

After 3 hours, I completed the 96 miles to Pendleton ... where I bought new windshield wipers, and a squeegee to clean my windshield (since the windshield washers were frozen). I drove only another 90 miles to Biggs Junction where I forted up for the night and tried to get some sleep. I was completely burned out due to driving in adverse road conditions.


The next morning, after spending the night in the parking lot, my Damned Old Ford was still redolent in its coat of road grime, frozen muddy slush, and icicles from Hell.

I washed the car before I got home. No telling how much salt had been applied to the road surface; no sense in chancing rust on the car after my naturally sanguine nature had been so thoroughly erroded.

Hell ride, for sure.

The next time I drive to Baker City, it will be high summer and the temperature will be in the nineties. I don't need this slush crap!

We're not doing that any more!

Higbie and Stan both sent me this video. Higbie sent it without comment. Stan suggested that there was a lesson to be learned here. Perhaps so.


video



Money quotes:

First guy: "We're not doing that any more!"

Second guy: "Nope, no more iron.

Third guy: "No more?

I'm guessing that the third guy wasn't the shooter.

You can also see (and download) the video here.