Thursday, October 20, 2005

Of Arms and the Law: CEO of Brady Campaign resigns, citing stress of losses

Of Arms and the Law: CEO of Brady Campaign resigns, citing stress of losses

Congress may decide in conference to ease District of Columbia gun restrictions (H.R. 3058). The House will vote Wednesday on shielding gunmakers from liability suits (S. 397). And last year, Congress let the assault weapons ban (P.L. 103-322) expire.

It's enough to make a gun-control advocate quit.

"It's not an easy job to get up every day and duke it out with the gun lobby," Michael Barnes, president and CEO of the Brady Campaign and Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said Tuesday, "but it's very important."

Barnes resigned this week.
(Emphasis added)

It's enough to cause Kim du Tuit to do the Happy Dance. Farewell, auf wiedersehn, Ta-ta, good-bye, don't let the screen door hit you in the butt on the way out you hidden-agenda hypocritical gun-control loser! The world will be a better place without you.

Hat Tip to Smallest Minority, respectful nod to ArmsAndTheLaw, and thanks to Daphne Retter, Congressional Quarterly Staff.

The Gun-Control Goof Squad is getting smaller, folks.

I like it like that.


At the advice of "Josh", I added HALOSCAN trackback and commenting today. This is a dramatic step for me, because I don't know how well it's going to work or how (or whether) it will affect commenting on this site. It's nice that it adds trackback capability to the page, but mainly I added it to get better control of Blog Spamming (See below.)

If there are no obvious negative repercussions, I'll see if I can remove the code-word filter from the comments. I've not had any complaints about this security feature, but I just don't like to put speedbumps in the path of people who have something to contribute to the various topics hosted here.

With HALOSCAN, I should be able to identify blog spammers and prevent them from ever again spamming the blog. We'll see how this works out.

In other news:
the blog which made IPSC videos was so well received, I plan to offer videos from the 2005 CROC match here in the near future.

Also, I'm working on establishing web-pages which host these and other videos. There are two possibilities:
  1. I install PHOTO GALLERY software which can host both *.JPG and videos, perhaps expanding the service to provide a gallery for, at least, the Columbia Cascade Section so others can contribute their own photos. This way, we're not limited to the photos and videos I provide.
  2. I install a real website on the ARPC-IPSC server (hosted by Brian B.) and put the photo links there. Then I can make the blog entries shorter, include a link on the sidebar to the gallery, and only use the blog to announce the addition of new photos and videos. That way, the connection to the videos doesn't 'drop off' in a couple of weeks when the 'announcement' blog-article goes into the archive. The downside of this it that it's going to cost Real Money, either because the best available FreeWare (Blue Vue) mandates webhosting at eight bucks a month . . . the webpages don't actually create HTML coded pages, but are encrypted so that they can only be hosted by Blue Vue . . . or I have to buy a decent web-hosting software package such as MS FrontPage at around $200.
There's a third possibility: I do both. The photo gallery software I've tentatively selected requires the Host to do the actuall installation, and I haven't talked Brian into it yet. That makes gallery hosting a reduced possibility, but it's still alive.

The web-authoring is also still an attractive option, because I don't need to convince someone else to do the work. Just to pay the bills! Fortunately, I work on a university campus, so there's a possibility that I can but web-authoring software at 'academic' pricing, which represents a significant reduction in cost. This actually supports my professional geek-ism, because the skills I would learn in web-authoring might directly be applied to the things I do every day in the office, and I would be using the same tools which are available at work. (I obviously can't use the tools available at the office, because there are departmental policies which preclude using university resources for personal projects. The university has no restrictions on HOW or in WHAT projects I use the software which I buy through them at 'academic pricing' because it obviously increases my professional expertise . . . which is all to the good for them.

Note: Today I spent a lot of time at work learning how to make a mainframe program format fonts in reports. It's a geek thing, don't worry about the details. But the point is, as I exclaimed delightedly to my boss, "this job requires me to learn all these nifty new things, and they pay me to do it. How kewl is that!"

Way kewl.

Some days, I REALLY like my job.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Amazing Grace


That's what it is.

I zero ONE lousy 145 point stage in a club match, and my so-called friends are all over me like flies on puppy poo-poo.

Here's the good news:
I filmed a couple of the stages.

Here's the bad news:
SWMBO filmed the stage I zeroed.

The really good news:
it's my blog, and my camera, and my SanDisk media . . . I don't have to air my dirty laundry in public. (And I won't because it's freakin' embarassing.)

Here's the really really good news:
Chris Y. of TeamDarkside, a member of the Unofficial IPSC List, has suggested that I use Windows Movie Maker to edit my movies. I can also title them, and then cut the size of the files so that I don't have to offer you the option of either (a) download umpteen-MB files, or (b) forget the whole thing.

It took me two hours to edit and convert eight video files from HUGE 4 or 5mb (or 10mb!) files to tiny 2mb files. I'm going to present them here in the original MPG format and also in the edited, and much smaller, WMV format. I suspect that the MAC users among us can view one but not the other. Anybody who Has A Clue about Mac can let me know which formats are/are not convenient for them.

These videos will cover two stages: Steel Presidente, a 12-round (60 points) all-steel stage with a mandatory reload between 6-target arrays, and Side To Side, a 23-round (115 points) stage with the targets spread out in roughly 3 arrays, lots of down-range movement, one disappearing target and three Pepper Targets.

The video from each stage will be provided in the two formats: MPG will be 4 or 5 MB (or 10MB), probably more than you are interested in seeing unless, of course, you are the Shooter; and WPV, about 2MB and edited to remove all the "ARE YOU READY, STANDBY, " and "IF YOU ARE FINISHED, UNLOAD AND SHOW CLEAR" etc. folderol at either end of the film.

(Actually, some of this is worth watching, but you need a weird sense of humor to appreciate it.)

On my computer, when I click on the WMV link it immediately starts Windows Media Player and runs the film as soon as it completes downloading ('buffering'). Apparently you can save it via the LIBRARY/ADD function of WMP. Since all of these files exist several times in my computer, it's possible that I'm running versions already downloaded. YMMV. Clicking on the MPG links starts a download dialogue in almost every case. I'll learn the fine points of managing these files later. Right now, I'm just interested in making videos available through the internet.
Okay, the first stage is "Steel Presidente".

First we have SWMBO, a C-Open shooter, running the stage in 12.07 seconds with a couple of make-up shots. Not her very best stage, but she gets style points because, well, she looks good no matter what she does. (Anybody here read Robert B. Parker? SWMBO reminds me very much of Susan Silverman. Don't 'front me on this; she can be my Susan even if I'm not up to Spenser-quality guyness.)

Film available in 5mb MPG, or in 2mb WPV.

In comparison, Norm the Ungrateful (one of the two Match Directors for this FUN MATCH, in conjunction with Alan . . . which makes this the Norm-Al match) shoots the same stage but he gets some really inexplicable help from The Range Gods in "Norman's Magic 5th Bullet".
Film available in 5mb MPG, or in 2mb WPV.

Okay, that's enough of that.

Next we go to another stage, "Side To Side". This is the 115 point stage where you get to shoot on the move. Some do, some don't. Essentially, this is a view of the various styles and personal Solutions to the Shooting Problem as demonstrated by six different Open Division competitors. The equipment is about the same . . . everybody is using an STI Open Gun in .38 super, except that (A) Norm's STI is chambered in 9x19 Major, and (b) Gary Shadenfreude's shooting an Open Glock in .38 Super.

A little more background:

There are two crucial arrays in this stage.

First, you start out shooting at two static IPSC targets, then a Pepper Popper which activates a disappearing IPSC target (DT). You can only see the Pepper Popper from the left side of the Bianci Barricade (BB), but you can see the DT from either side . . . although you have to lean far past your natural balance point to engage the DT from the left side, you can address the DT faster. On the other hand, it takes you longer to exit the shooting box, because you're on the 'wrong side'.

Question: is it better to shoot the DT from the Left side of the BB, or move to the right side to engage it? There may be a test at the end of the class, so take notes.
After that point, you move downrange and engage three static IPSC targets. These are mere fillers, because they're close and, although they represent a potention "180 trap", you have to be a real dork to do other than get good, fast, easy hits.

Then you have a LONG run down to the extreme downrange end of the bay, at the end of which there are four IPSC targets partially covered by no-shoots. This is not a problem for MOST folks (it was for me . . . I nailed a no-shoot and had to waste time making up the miss).

But between here and there, you get to engage two Pepper Poppers, one of which is forward-falling. Question: do you shoot them from the extreme uprange position from which you engaged the previous three easy static IPSC targets, or from the last position from which you stop to enage the final array of static IPSC targets hiding behind No-Shoots? Or from somewhere in between? Hint: from where you can engage the final array, you have to move back a step or lean WAY back to see the two Pepper Poppers. No final test, it's a matter of personal preference and how good you REALLY think you are.

We'll be discussing the various approaches as we see the videos, because these ARE the kind of questions that every IPSC shooter faces, and must answer based on his own estimation of competence and confidence, on most stages.

For lack of a better criteria, I'll present these videos in the original shooting order. Oh, and I'll also cite the number of points earned out of 115 possible, the penalties (usually zero), and the time required by each shooter to complete the stage. In order to provide perspective, I'll give the overall place of finish as well. You decide which approach is 'best'.

First Shooter:
Film 2495, Gary
Herr Shadenfreude chooses to engage the DT from the right side of the
BB, and to engage the Pepper Poppers (PP) from the same place he engages the 3 static targets. Time: 23.35 seconds, 108 points, no penalties: B-Open shooter ends up in 21st place for the stage.
Film available here in 5mb MPG, or here in 2mb WPV.

Film 2496, AJ.
There was a hesitation while engaging the first array, and a make-up shot on the Pepper Popper which activated the DT, because AJ is experiencing some "Loss Of Dot" problems with his aging OK sight. Other than that, he ran the stage about the same way as did Herr Shadenfreude. Time: 28.08 seconds, 83 points, 40 penalties: C-Open shooter temporarily loses his Dot and ends up in 45th place. (I've done worse; in fact, I did worse today.)
Film available in 6mb MPG, or in 2mb WPV.

Film 2497, The Geek.
Engaged the DT from the right side of the BB, moved out of the starting box with some hesitation. Engaged the two PP on the move, caught a No-Shoot on the last array and had to make up the shot, incuring a NS penalty (10 points) and wasted another half-second. Time: 17.71 seconds, 101 points, 10 penalties: B-open shooter looks pretty good until the end of the run where he demonstrates a basic inability to keep the hits in the stinkin' brown cardboard, had to take an extra shot to make up for a miss/noshot hit, ending up in 13th place for the stage.
Film available in 10mb MPG, or in 2mb WPV. (Okay, it's a 10mb film. SWMBO was running the camera, and she flatters me with extra footage. What's not to like?)

Film 2498, SWMBO.
SWMBO engages the DT from the left side of the BB, by cranking herself too far out of balance: multiple misses on the DT. Waits until she is completely downrange and has engages all other targets (without hitting the NS targets, thank you very much) before she handily engages/hits the two Pepper Poppers in the left-hand corner. Looks good for most of the stage, floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee. Motto: "I'm low on estrogen, and I Have A Gun". Behave yourself. Time: 23.31 seconds, zero penalties, 101 points. Finishes in 24th place, and gets big-time style points because, well, she's got style whatever she does.

Film available in 5mb MPG, or in 2mb WPV.

Film 2499, Norm.
Abbie-Normal takes the DT from the right side of the BB, and the Pepper Poppers on the move . . . with extra make-up shots. Thank GAWD he has extra rounds in the magazine. Lookin' good, styling, great stats. Time: 16.37 seconds, 113 points, no penalties = 5th place for the stage. I liked the guy until he turned out to be so talented, and I rue the day we suggested "Hey, Norm, ever think about shooting an STI?"
Film available in 4.5mb MPG, or in 2mb WPV.

For the Ultimate Shooter:
Film 2500, Big Dog.
He had some undefined problems getting the first shot off, which slowed him down a second or two. But he took the DT from the right side of the
BB, which positioned him perfectly to get 'out of the box' quickly, and engaged the PPs on the move. He's got a fast trigger, and makes it look easy. Too easy. Excellent run on the stage. Time: 22.80 seconds, 111 points, zero penalties. Big Dog ended up in 19th place overall, and at the end was applauded by SWMBO. You have to look at the MPG file to see the start, and hear the accolades, of course. (The MPV files only give you the bare-roots performance version of the stages.)

Film available in 5mb MPG, or in 2mb WPV.

Note that these photos and videos are not available for commercial purposes. All photos, images, files and videos are copyright 2005 by Jerry the Geek.

UPDATE: January, 2006
In case you haven't been a regular follower of this blog (this is one of the most popular articles over the past year, and is often reached via internet search), there are a LOT more IPSC Videos now available on this blog. Click here to see them all. Note that this gallery website is updated on a regular basis . . . visit often, okay?

North to Alaska

No More Concealed Carry Permits Needed!

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Starting Wednesday, handgun owners won't need permits to carry concealed weapons in the seven Alaska cities where they're still required. There also will be no more restrictions on keeping a firearm in a vehicle.

A new state anti-gun control law that goes into effect will essentially bar municipalities from passing gun laws that are more restrictive than state law.

The National Rifle Association, which helped Republican state Rep. Mike Chenault write the legislation, says except for the concealed weapon permit requirements, most Alaska city and state gun laws are the same.

What the NRA wants to do is prevent cities from passing more restrictive laws in the future. It calls it state pre-emption, and Alaska will be the 44th state to have such a law on its books.

"We are looking to make it uniform to all 50 states," said NRA spokeswoman Kelly Hobbs. "Without it, it creates an unfair, inconsistent and confusing patchwork of local firearm ordinances."

In the immortal words of SWMBO: