Thursday, January 26, 2006

XL650: 9mm, .45acp, & 10mm

I reload umpteen thousand rounds of ammunition a year, and I use a Dillon XL650 reloading press.
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us9 MM: I got the press in the winter of 1992, and I originally used it to load 9x19 caliber ammunition, because that's the caliber of the gun I was currently using for IPSC competition, in my S&W 659 "Crunch&ticker". I had paid $700 for the gun. I had paid about $450 for the press, plus another $150 or so for the Casefeed Assembly option.Free Image Hosting at

I was shooting in "D" class at the time . . . there was only one Division back then ... and it took me until 1995 to work myself up to "C" class.

.45 acp:In 1997, I realized that the targets were all being scored 'minor power'. While I had originally bought the 659 for the magazine capacity (14-15 rounds, rather than the 7 or 8 rounds availble for the most common 1911 in .45acp), I was not a good enough shot, or a good enough competitor, to get decent scores. So I researched the latest guns on the market, and decided to buy a Kimber custom in .45acp. I couldn't afford more, and by shopping around I got mine for $234.
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They didn't look as good in 1997 as they do now ... the trigger was different, for one thing. But I could buy it for less than the Springfield, and the Cold 1991A1 looked like crap. Besides, Kimber already included as 'standard equipment the features which were 'options' from anybody else: Commander-style hammer, extended beavertail, adjustable trigger. Sure, it had fixed sights, but I didn't think it would be a problem, and it wasn't. The only disappointment was that there were TWO Kimber Customs in the shop, and I only bought one. I've been kicking myself for that bad decision for eight years, so don't feel obligated to tell me what a dummy I was. Oh geez, I had the money in my pocket . . . who knew it would turn out to be so good that I would forever refer to it as "The Beloved Kimber"?

The only thing I changed was to buy a Smith & Alexander extended magwell adapter, with the arched mainspring housing, in stainless steel. It not only dressed up the gun (as much as you can do with a pistol which is obviously a 'working gun', but it (a) allowed me to make magazine changes faster, and the arched mainspring housingmade the skinny grip fit my large hands much better.

(Other than buying new recoil springs, barrel bushings, grip screws and a lot of guide-rod bushings, I've not spent another penny on the gun itself. However, the new holster, magazines and magazine carriers cost me almost as much as the pistol!)

That meant I had to change from loading .9mm to .45acp. I realized that I would probably STILL want to load for the 9x19, so I not only bought a caliber conversion kit but I also bought a new powder measure assembly, a set of Large Primer feed tubes, new toolhead, Large Primer priming system, a Large Pistol Casefeed Plate, and a toolhead stand. I figured this would make it easy to switch between calibers, and I was right. I can't tell you how much it cost me to gear up for the new caliber, but the cost of the new Dillon XL650 components was about what I paid for the pistol alone. I didn't NEED the toolhead stand, toolhead and powder feed assembly, but the difference in time and effort to switch between calibers was worth a lot more to me than the cost of the components.

I was soon competing in "C-Stock", as there were now TWO divisions in IPSC -- Open and "Limited". (Originally, "Limited" was designated as "Stock" Division, but that changed about the time I bought The Beloved Kimber.)

In 1999 I went to my first IPSC Nationals, in Las Vegas, with The Beloved Kimber, shooting Limited. I was competing against the latest round of hi-cap (.40 S&W) Limited pistols. My limited magazine capacity was working against me, and so was my ammunition load.

I had gone to the Area 1 match in Reno a couple of months earlier, and there I was using Unique powder at the time, and it was such a large granule size that it wouldn't charge consistently. I was down to my last bullet before I got enough rounds at high velocity to make Major Power (then, 175pf.) Like Scarlet O'Hara, I swore that I would "never be poor again", and I changed my powder measure. At Las Vegas I was shooting a 196pf, and The Beloved Kimber kicked like a mule. I had the distinct impression that I was overpowered, and started looking for another answer --- preferably, one that would include a higher magazine capacity.

10mm: I had been corresponding with Dave Skinner, of STI, for a while, and I told him that I was in desperate need of a hi-cap Limited pistol. I didn't like the round-count of the .45 acp, but there were so many accounts of the "Ka-BOOM!" incident with the new .40 S&W round, I didn't trust it for safety's sake. I wanted a 10mm, and preferably in the Edge.

In 2000, Dave sent me an email announcing that the STI Edge in 10mm had just been approved in Limited Division. By return mail, I sent him an order for a pistol with the custom serial number which he had suggested: Geek2011. I paid $1650 for the gun, another $150 for a holster (you couldn't find many holsters for an extended-dust-cover 1911 at the time), extra magazines and Safariiland magazine carriers. As long as I was at it, I bought a Safariiland inner/outer Velcro belt system, too. Total cost for accessories was about $500, which was largely accounted for by the high cost of 140mm 18-round magazine tubes under the Brady Bill.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usAs far as I know, I was the first person to order an Edge in 10mm for IPSC competition. Probably the last, too.

The standard 10mm load, as the FBI had already learned, is WAY too heavy for normal shooting. You only want to use the full-bore 10mm if you want to kill a bear.

Since 10mm ammunition cost something like $25 a box of 50, I started looking for ammunition. A few folks in the Columbia Cascade Section ("Tom the Gadget" and Everett, the then-Section Coordinator) had 10mm ammunition that they didn't particularly need, and they donated the loaded ammuntion so I could break in the gun.

The first part that got 'broke in" was the tungsten guide rod. It had been designed for the .40S&W, and I was shooting about 200+ power factor.

I immediately ordered some 10mm brass from Dillon (exorbitant price), adn went to my local range to find more USED brass. This was generally priced low, but mostly it was 10mm which had been shot in a Glock, which meant that all of the cases were bulged. Taking a hint from a friend, I bought a Lee sizing die, which is one one-thousandth of an inches tighter, and used it on an old Lee press to pre-size the cases. I also de-tempered a new RCBS case holder, ground it down as short as I could, and re-tempered it so I could get the sizing die down as far as possible on the cases.

Shortly after this I found a new source of 10mm brass. A friend knew a guy who was a janitor at the FBI firing range in Portland. He got the brass for me at $50/k, deprimed and sized it, and tumbled the brass in a solvent which left the entire case, including primer pocket, as clean as brand new brass.

One of the advantages of the 10mm was that the case was MUCH stronger than the .40S&W brass, and could handle heavier loads. Another was that it used the Large primer (as did the .45 acp) rather than the Small primer (as did the 9mm). I had already found that the Large primer fed more reliable through the Dillon XL650, so that would have been worth the effort of choosing the 1omm even though the brass was much more expensive and harder to find, harder to work with. I had some terribly heavy charges go through the 10mm in following years, but they never caused me any problems except for the heavier recoil. A good choice, and if I had to do it all over again I would still choose the 10mm over the .40 S&W.

For the XL650, I already had the Large primer system, the Large Pistol casefeed plate, so I only had to buy the caliber conversion kit, the dies, the toolhead and the powder assembly. Of course, I also bought a toolhead stand so I could keep it upright on the bench when I was loading a caliber. Surprising to me, the updates to the Dillon XL650 cost less than the new holster, magazine carriers and Safariiland belt assembly. In fact, it cost about what two new 140mm magazines cost me, including tube, follower, spring and basepad.

This will be continued in the next post, "XL650: .38 Super"

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Border Wars

Smugglers in military dress fuel border concerns |Houston Chronicle

On Monday (January 23, 2006), Three Hudspeth County (Texas) Sheriff's deputies spotted along with a state trooper began chasing three SUVs, which they suspected of carrying drugs, on Interstate 10. The 12-mile chase ended at the Rio Grande near Highway 34, where the 3 vehicles attempted to cross the International Border back to Mexico.

One of the vehicles, a Cadillac Escalade, was abandoned with a flat tire before it reached the river. It was later found to contain 1400 pounds of marijuana.
A second vehicle safely reached Mexican side of the river and left.
The third vehicle became stuck in the river. A group of men were seen to unload what appears to be bales of marijuana from the vehicle, which they then burned.

As the American Lawmen approached the Rio Grande in hot pursuit, they encountered a Humvee occupied by men in Mexican Army uniforms. Reports indicate that the vehicle was armed with a mounted .50 caliber machine gun. The Humvee also returned across the river, where it provided oversight protection while the bogged SUV was unloaded.

No shots were fired, nobody was injured.

This time.

The Mexican Government asserted that the nearest military detachment does not have equipment of the type which was reported, and proposed that these were all civilian drug-runners, some of whom were fitted in imitation army uniforms. However, Mexico has ordered that army units may not approach within 3.2 miles (approximitely 5 kilometers) of the Rio Grande without written authorization.

From the Huston Chronicle report:

Mexico's secretary of defense has ordered a full investigation into the incident. However, Rafael Laveaga, a spokesman for the Mexican Embassy in Washington, D.C., said he does not think the men in military fatigues seen escorting the traffickers were soldiers. The Mexican military installation in Ciudad Juarez, which is nearest to where the incident occurred, does not have any vehicles or weapons like those described by the Hudspeth County sheriff's deputies, he said.

''We strongly deny that members of the Mexican army participated in any incident at the Mexican-U.S. border," Laveaga said. ''I think it's fair to say that criminal organizations sometimes wear military uniforms and use military vehicles to provide confusion among authorities of both countries."

Mexico's presidential spokesman Ruben Aguilar insisted again today that the uniformed men were drug smugglers, not Mexican soldiers. Aguilar said the FBI supported that view, but he gave no evidence of the claim.

"These were not Mexican soldiers," Aguilar said at a news conference. "It is known that these are drug traffickers using military uniforms and they were not even regulation military uniforms."

Still, Washington is demanding answers.

The El Paso Times provided expanded coverage, as well as some photos.

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Editorial comments: With all of the incidents which have occurred on the Mexican Border over the past several years, it's a wonder that American Law Enforcement Officers haven't been murdered by this border trash on a regular basis. The world looks upon calls by American Citizens to strictly enforce our borders as a mixture of paranoia, racism and 'insensitivity', which is possibly the worst accusation they can think of.

We've been hearing about the poor "undocumented immigrants" who suffer from fear of being arrested for no more crime than trying to better their life by doing "the jobs that Americans won't do."
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I've talked about the problem with "undocumented aliens" in this respect before, and while I admit it's a problem which should be resolved with some kind of "guest worker" program. However, I don't think amnesty should be part of the solution. Whatever the reason people sneak across our border, they have started out their new life by breaking our laws. How badly do we need people who disrespect our country and our laws? We already have enough native-born people with this attitude, we don't need any more and we certainly don't need to reward them. The money which they earn in this country is largely sent 'home', which constitutes Mexico's second largest source of outside income after their petroleum industry. The Mexican government makes claims that they are trying to provide incentives in their own country so that their citizens can earn good money without leaving the country, and in fact this was one plank of Vicente Fox's campaign platform. He hasn't managed, this, though, so instead he has officially instituted measures to make it easier for his citizens to invade our borders with relative impunity, and applied political pressure to coerce the American government to accept the illegals who already provide between five and twelve MILLION of the people in this country today.
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But the fact is, since 9/11 we've discovered that our greatest fear is the terrorists which may use this route to enter American and attack us from within. If drug smugglers can bring in tons of illegal substances every day (say, two tons of marijuana in three SUVs, and there's enough profit in it that they can afford to abandon a Cadillac Escalante with 1400 pounds of grass), and 'coyotes' can bring in "undocumented immigrants" by the dozens, there's no reason to expect that these same smugglers can be prevented from bringing in terrorists and whatever equipment they require to attack America. Again.

What else is being smuggled in?

Drugs, of course. Has anybody lately mentioned that Methamphetamine addiction was one of the greatest contributors to domestic crime in America today? Where do you think most of the meth comes from? Hint: Look at a map of North America. Look at Texas and California. Their southern borders are the most frequent access for the output of Mexican Meth Labs. Of course, we have our own domestic meth labs. Sometimes the police find them and arrest the people who are working in them, selling the meth, or transporting the meth between states. Look in the newspaper and read the names of the people who are arrested. We have city parks in Oregon where mothers can no longer take their children to play because the Mexican drug gangs have taken it over and are using it as a marketplace for illegal drugs.

Crime is not limited to drugs. Howard Sutherland writes in VDARE.COM back in 2003 about the problems with Salvadoran criminals and their increasing incursion into the United States. The Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang is an exceptionally violent group, whose members seem to travel back and forth across the border with impunity. They are not the only gangs composed of "undocumented immigrants", of course, but they are the most extreme examples.

Also, illegal aliens are overloading social services in this country. While many of the people whom the "insensitivity sensitive" Liberals chamption include those who work as day laborers, these are exactly the people who are likely to live in the shadow economy, being paid in cash for their labor and leaving no documentation behind (which is part of why they are referred to as "undocumented".) They pay no taxes, they pay no union dues or withholding, they just show up, work, get paid, and disappear.

They also have no insurance plans. They get sick, they go to the hospital, the hospitals have to take them. When they get better, they just . . . walk away. Who pays for their health care? You do.

Even NPR mentions the phenomenon:

Weekend Edition - Sunday, February 20, 2005 · As the U.S. government tightens security along the border with Mexico, nearby hospitals are seeing an increasing number of serious injuries in their emergency rooms.

Many uninsured illegal immigrants cannot afford to pay for this medical care, so more hospitals are forced to foot the bill.

From smugglers' use of unsafe, overcrowded vehicles to immigrants who can't -- or won't -- pay for treatment, medical resources along the border are being strained. Amid the argument over who should pay, hospitals on both sides of the border are looking for answers.

In fact, since 2005 the system has become so overloaded with "undocumented immigrant" freeloaders that some hospitals may have to close their doors because they can no longer afford to provide so much of their resources to those who will not pay for them. That means the people who can pay, the legal citizens of the community, are being inflicted with a "denial of service" in their own home town.

In response to that health-care crisis, in 2005 the United States Government has agreed to provide up to $45 million to reimburser Arizona hospitals and hospitals in other states for services rendered to illegal aliens. That's forty five million dollars ... a year. For up to four years. How much of this money comes from the illegal aliens who incur the expenses? Your guess is as good as mine, but I'm not sure that $180 million total reflects an investment in good citizenship.

Let's get back to "Border Incursions" before we close this out.

The Analogue Kid at Random Nuclear Strikes provides us with a partian shot from The OTHER Border . . . Canada.

Here's the original article that The Kid cited:

U.S. murder suspects arrested in shootout at B.C. border

A police chase that closed the Peace Arch border crossing south of Vancouver, ended in the arrest of two men wanted in California on murder charges following a shootout.

The incident on Tuesday night temporarily closed the Canada-U.S. border crossing, and caused dozens of Canadian guards to walk off the job, fearing for their safety.

The chase started when two men tried to get into Canada.

Officials say Ishtiaq Hussain, 38, and Jose Antonio Barajas, 22, are now in custody. One of the suspects was wounded in a shootout with police.

U.S. sheriffs say the pair managed to make it to the check point about a metre before Canadian soil

Wait a minute, back up. What was that about ...

The incident on Tuesday night temporarily closed the Canada-U.S. border crossing, and caused dozens of Canadian guards to walk off the job, fearing for their safety.
That's right: Rather than to protect their own borders, Canada just ... walked away. Fortunately ...

Officials credit a brave deputy sheriff for stopping the pair, who were considered armed and dangerous.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usBill Elf, of the Whatcom Sheriff's Department

CBC News has learned that when unarmed Canadian border guards found out the murder suspects were coming their way, they left their posts at two crossings along the B.C. border: the Peace Arch crossing at Douglas, which was closed for a while, and the Pacific Highway Truck Crossing, to which traffic from Douglas was diverted.

Supervisors were left at each crossing to protect the Canadian side.

A spokeswoman with Canada Border Services says the guards have the legal right to refuse to work if they believe they are in imminent danger.

Canada won't protect its borders. Mexico can't keep its people at home. America is subject to international castigation when it tries to protect its borders.

Some people blame it all on NAFTA.

Maybe it's just that the American had to take a good look at the "undocument immigrant" problem, realized the scope of the problem, and decided that there was none of the possible solutions would contribute to political survival.

What? Do I have a solution?

No, nothing short of a police state.

Some people have suggested that America reinforce the borders by assigning military units to guard the borders. These people just don't understand the situation. There aren't enough troops in this country to guard our borders, even if we bring every military unit back from their current assignments and assign border security as their exclusive priority. Besides, who wants to become the island this approach would suggest.

Better minds than mine are working (we hope) on this problem, but don't expect to like the answer they finally come up with.

If they ever agree on a solution. Which it won't be.

(H/T: Fish)

Note: Between the two of them, Fish and The Hobo Brasser provide enough blogmeat to keep me busy even if I didn't tend to be an opinionated, mouthy, pedantic old poop. I don't know why they don't start their own blog. I once offered The Hobo Brasser a "Guest Blogger" option on this blog, but he ignored me.

I wonder why?

Right decision, wrong outcome

Resistance is futile!: Right decision, wrong outcome

This is a terribly difficult thing to write about. I hesitate to attempt it, because I know it will be misinterpreted and because it is such a personal subject. I'm writing this paragraph after I've finished the entire essay, and after you read it you may understand. I hope you do, but even if you don't I have to write it anyway.


If you're not a regular reader of Gullyborg, you may have missed his article last week (Tuesday, January 17, 2006) regarding the Supreme Court's refusal to set aside Oregon's Assisted Suicide Law.

His opinons on that decision elicited a lot of comments, and mine were in support of the Oregon law and the decision of the Supremes.

To briefly summarize the law, it allows a physician to administer a lethal dose of drugs to end the life of a patient.

The restrictions are these:
  • The patient ("he") must be suffering from a medical condition which in which the prognosis is terminal
  • He must be in control of his mental condition to the degree that he is able to make such a decision
  • The physician must not make this decision (to assist the patient in suicide) alone; at least one other physician must concur with the medical opinion that the previous two conditions have been met
  • The patient must, in the opinion of the physician (or consulting psychologist), be "capable, acting voluntarily, and informed"
  • The patient must be capable of making his wishes known to the physician (both written and verbal request)
  • He must be able to rescind his request
  • There is a 15 day waiting period between the time when he makes his request and the time it is acted upon
  • He must be an adult: at least 18 years old
  • No contract or other agreement, written or oral, can over-ride the request or the patient's decision to rescind it
  • The decision to voluntarily request assisted suicide will not abbrogate or nullify any insurance policy
  • The physician will not be subject to legal action, including civil action, for acting upon the request; no health-care provider or professional organization can take disciplinary action for the physician's participation; no legal, professional, organizational, contractual or financial penalty shall be applied to the physician ("health-care provider") for his participation
And here's the part that protects the patient; I cite it here verbatim, in the interest of accuracy:
127.890 s.4.02. Liabilities. (1) A person who without authorization of the patient willfully alters or forges a request for medication or conceals or destroys a rescission of that request with the intent or effect of causing the patient's death shall be guilty of a Class A felony.

(2) A person who coerces or exerts undue influence on a patient to request medication for the purpose of ending the patient's life, or to destroy a rescission of such a request, shall be guilty of a Class A felony.

(3) Nothing in ORS 127.800 to 127.897 limits further liability for civil damages resulting from other negligent conduct or intentional misconduct by any person.

(4) The penalties in ORS 127.800 to 127.897 do not preclude criminal penalties applicable under other law for conduct which is inconsistent with the provisions of ORS 127.800 to 127.897. [1995 c.3 s.4.02]
This means, among other things, that the family or friends, or other interested persons can NOT make the decision for the patient. Nor can they influence the decision of the patient through coercion, undue influence or fraud.

Gullyborg is a law student, and contends that this is "a bad law". I'm not sure of the reasons why he believes it is a bad law. He professes no moral judgement about the concept that a person in the last extremities of life should or should not be able to make this decision.

I disagree. I think that this is an entirely personal decision which can legitimately be made by a person in the last extreme of life. I hope that I may never find myself in the position where it seems an attractive alternative to life, but I also hope that if I do -- the option has not been taken away from me because of someone else's philosophical or intellectual or political priorities.

My position is that there are circumstances which may occur, wherein an individual may be fatally inflicted with a painful and debilitating disease or injury which leads him to believe that the only possible end to the agony is death, sooner rather than later.

The law, in my understanding, does not permit a person to choose death. Any person can do that, although they may not be able to enact it. The option of suicide is always available IF the person is capable of ending his own life. That capability may not be available, because the medical condition may be so extreme that he lacks the ability to do so.

The law seems NOT to provide legal permission for a person to end his own life. In fact, ATTEMPTED suicide has traditionally been unlawful. I believe they can put you in jail for it, though I have no doubt that most courts would find it difficult to apply such a punishment to an incapacitated person. Of course, there is no punishment for a SUCCESSFUL suicide.

The purpose of the law is to protect the physician who choses to provide this final mercy to a terminal patient. It also defines the conditions under which the physician can determine that the decision of the patient may be considered to be 'free and informed'.

Nothing more, nothing less.

The response of the Federal Government has been that physicians who "assist" a suicide by medical means may be prosecuted if these means involve the administration of restricted medication ... that is to say, a fatal dose of narcotics, or other federally controlled drugs.

I find that curious, since most states (and, as far as I know, the Federal Government) have historically executed Capital Prisoners by much more painful and barbaric means . . . hanging, firing squad, electrocution.

Now more states are using 'humane' means, which amounts to a three-stage administration of drugs:
  1. a drug to put you to sleep
  2. a drug to stop you from breathing
  3. a drug to stop your heart
If the first series of drugs don't kill you, they'll do the entire procedure over again, until you are dead.

This is considered a progressive, humane method to execute a person who has somehow offended society's laws. Can a law-abiding person expect anything less?

The execution of prisoners may be at the hands of a physician; more frequently, it is at the hands of medical technicians. One presumes that the 'patient' has not been consulted in the decision.

Opponents of the Oregon Assisted Suicide law suggest that it is somehow frivilous, that it undermines the concept of 'sanctity of life', that it constitutes nothing more than an extreme way to "treat depression".

And yet, they may suggest that they want to keep the Medical Profession "out of it".

I submit that Depression is not the primary consideration for those who are compelled to make this difficult decision.

No, I would not choose "Depression" as the word to justify this law.



Yes, those are perhaps more appropriate word to describe the conditions under which a person might make this difficult decision. Add to that the fact that the physician has doubtless told the patient, if the patient is competent to understand the pronouncement, that the rest of his (the patient's) life will be a prolonged condition of pain, to be climaxed by an undignified death.

I have some history with this situation, involving a family member afflicted by both cancer (in several versions, including bone cancer) and Alzheimers. The Assisted Suicide law would not have been an option, because of the mental degeneration. Helpless, unable to feed, dress or express himself, he was reduced to catheters and diapers. He did not recognize family members, but was obviously distressed when these indignities were inflicted upon him.

Make no mistake about it, agony is a condition which cannot be ignored despite the non-fatal levels of narcotics which may be prescribed.

And the lack of dignity of this helpless person may have been alleviated only by the twisted Grace of Alzheimers, although we can't know if he understood what was happening to him. We can hope that he didn't feel the shame of being subjected to a dependency on care-givers who would change his diapers, empty his bladder bag, and provide daily sponge baths; who rolled him like a piece of meat to change his linen daily. It isn't a life which I would wish on someone I loved,

What if he didn't have Alzheimer's Disease? What if he was in full possession of his mental faculties, and realized what was happening to him? Would he be any less fearfull, less agonized by the pain as his bones rotted inside him?

I doubt it.

Personally, the idea of suicide is anethema to me. But more repulsive still would be to find myself in the position where I was in unrelieved and unrelievable pain, with no prospects but a painful death, knowing what anguish my family must be feeling, and yet be unable to do anything to stop the process before it became even more unbearable.

Is the Oregon Assisted Suicide Bill "a bad law?" I don't know. I don't know much about the law.

But I do know something about living, and about dying. Under extreme circumstances, the priorities somehow reverse themselves. It's difficult for us to make the decision for a loved one to live, when life itself it only unendurable agony.

And yet, it's not a decision we can make for him . . . to live in agony, or to die immediately and thus stop the unremitting pain.

If that loved one can make the decision for himself, do we have the right to stand in his way?

Put it another way: if you found yourself in the situation where your loved one had no future but PAIN, would you feel tempted to help them end it with a gun, a knife, a dozen pushes on the "administer" button on their morphine drip? Or would you sternly deny him his right to make the decision for himself.

Only if you had no heart.

But if that person truly loved you, would they be willing to trade their pain for the consequences of the de facto murder you would be committing?

If they were that kind of person, would you have loved them?

The answers are no, and no. And no.

UPDATE: February 2, 2006
It was never my intention that Assisted Suicide become a "recurring theme", although it is a subject about which I hold strong views.
However, while researching an unrelated subject I ran across this article from Talk Left (The Politics of Crime), which suggests that I'm not the only one who believes there is ample cultural and legal justification for assisted suicide.

The article, written April 8, 2005, cites a Connecticut man who handed a gun to a "cancer-stricken" friend, and 'counselled' him on the best way to shoot himself. No evidence that the man actually held the gun or pulled the trigger, and a compassionate judge sentenced the 74-year old 'assistant' to what is effectively no more than administrative punishment. Of particular interest are the comments attached to the article.

I call the judge compassionate because, in passing sentence, he stated "I can only say to you, I'm glad it wasn't me put in your position that day."

When we watch a loved one in unrelenting agony, our natural empathy makes us want to do anything we can to help. When that person tells us that they just want the pain to end, we may assume that their ability to communicate this choice is evidence that they are able to make an informed decision.

Then, we are presented with a quandry: whether it is worth the personal legal penalties to allow your loved one the last grace with dignity, and whether there are alternative methods.

Watching your friend blow his brains out is not the best solution, but apparently in Connecticut it may be the ONLY solution.

Living in Oregon, I am comforted, somehow, that people I love are not required to burden their friends and family with such an awkward choice. The Oregon Assisted Suicide law protects a physician from the consequences of granting this last request.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

GeekNews - Jan24

GEEKNEWS: News That Caught My Attention In The Past Couple of Weeks!

Volume I, Edition II: January 19 - January 24, 2006

We've been surfing the blogs lately, and there are some interesting things to read out there.

Tyler at .45 Caliber Justice showed a nifty little US Map with "Places I've Been In America" (or words to that effect.) It's an interesting graphic you can create to show your own travels.

Here's mine (resized via ImageShack, click on image to see full size):
Free Image Hosting at

create your own visited states map

Not surprisingly, most of the 'visits' were for hunting, participating in IPSC matches, or travels while I was in the army. That long southern link from Georgia to Texas represents a cheat. After I completed NCO Candidate School (Ft. Benning, GA) in 1969, my then-wife and I drove our nifty 1969 Ford Maverick from my OJT Training station in Ft. McClellan, Alabama back to Oregon via Tennessee, (don't ask me how we ended up on the outskirts of Memphis), Mississippi, Louisiana, then into Texas and on to California, then up to Oregon.

Michael Bane featured Stephen Hunter's Paen to Winchester (I mentioned the other day that they were closing their New Haven plant, but not as eloquently.) Bane calls it "Brilliant Brilliant Brilliant", which has a pithy eloquence of its own.

Here's the opening:

Out With A Bang

The Loss of the Classic Winchester Is Loaded With Symbolism

By Stephen Hunter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 20, 2006; Page C01

A famous ad that most boy baby boomers will recall from Boys' Life, the old scouting magazine of the '50s, showed a happy lad, carrot-topped and freckly like any number of Peck's Bad Boys, his teeth haphazardly arrayed within his wide, gleeful mouth under eyes wide as pie platters as he exclaimed on Christmas morn, "Gee, Dad . . . A Winchester!"

All gone, all gone, all gone. The gun as family totem, the implied trust between generations, the implicit idea that marksmanship followed by hunting were a way of life to be pursued through the decades, the sense of tradition, respect, self-discipline and bright confidence that Winchester and the American kinship group would march forward to a happy tomorrow -- gone if not with the wind, then with the tide of inner-city and nutcase killings that have led America's once-proud and heavily bourgeois gun culture into the wilderness of marginalization.

And now Winchester is gone too, or at least the most interesting parts of it. The traditional company whose symbol was a fringed rider flying across the plains on a pinto, gripping his trusty Model '73, is finally biting the dust ...

Read the whole thing.

Gun-Blog Beauty Contest
Wadcutter mentioned the voting for best gun blogs presented by Countertop Chronicles, including a gracious thank-you for his own honorable mention. Since I had encouraged you to participate, it occurs to me that you might like to know how the voting came out.

The winners in each category are (TA-DAHHHHHH!)

Category 1: Best Gun P0RN

1: Olek Volk
2: Castle of Aaarrrgghhh!

(NB: Kim du Toit was a dead-heat tie for 2nd place, I don't know what criteria was used for the tie-breaker. NOTE also that this is NOT the link for Kim's "Original" blog.)

Category 2: Most Educational

1: The ArchAngel
2: Mr. Completely

(Runner up: Head's Bunker)

I'm pleased to see Mr. Completely finish so well, as he was one of my premier picks. You'll see a lot of him in the results, although perhaps not QUITE as much as Kim du Toit. Mr. Completely accomplishes his goal of communicating without angst, anger or foul language. When it comes down to it, I'll vote for a Gentleman every time. No, this isn't meant as a criticism to Kim's more . . . aggressive style, and I have not doubt that personally he is a fine gentleman; but while Kim has been blogging for a LOT longer, with a LOT more hits, much of his success has been due to his rants. One tires of that, eventually.

I note that Mr. Completely posted some rather modest comments last Sunday night.

Category 3: Best Rants
1: mAss Backwards
2: Kim du Toit

(3rd place, Gut Rumbles)

Happily, The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler was never a contender.
Unhappily, Geek With a .45 was sadly under-rated. I really think he deserved a better evaluation from his peers. If for no other reason, any man who deliberately moves out of New Jersey because of the anti-RKBA attitude there just naturally deserves to be recognized.

Category 4: Best Legal Analysis
1: John Lott
2: David Kopel

(runner up: Eugene Volokh)

When you think of it, and I did, John Lott was pretty much a no-brainer. The real race in this category was between 2nd and 3rd place, and it could have gone either way in my opinion.

Note that the link for David Kopel also takes you to "The Volokh Conspiracy", which is the child of Eugene Volokh. Kopel is a prominent, but not the sole, contributor. You can also read Kopel in his many articles posted to National Review Online, and at his personal Home Page . Volokh can also be read at NRO and at World Net Daily's Commentary Page)

The Smallest Minority was facing such fierce competition from professionals that he never had a chance. Maybe next year, if there IS a 'next year', professional writers will not be considered unless they can prove that they do most of their writing while wearing pajamas.

Category 5: Best Aggregator
1: Alphecca
2: Mr. Completely

(Runner up: Resistance is Futile, another of my recommendations)

I'm not sure what "Best Aggregator" means, but I assume it means quality of a cross-section of posts. Something like "All-Around Cowboy", perhaps. I note that Cogito Ergo Geek actually got two (2) votes in this category, which would be flattering except that I'm not sure those two fine, upstanding and stalwart individuals didn't read "Aggregator" and mistakenly thought it meant "Agitator". Whatever the reasons, I'll paste it in my scrapebook and ... Thanks For The Memories, Mom! (But you really shouldn't have voted twice.)

Category 6: Best Range Reports
1: Mr. Completely (who lead through EVERY round of balloting)
2: Kim du Toit

(Runner up: Texican Tattler)

NOTE that Mr. Completely was one of my recommendations. Other contenders included Cowboy Blob, Michael Bane (two more of my recommendations) and, a complete surprise to me, Michael Yon. Mr. Yon is a powerful writer, but it wouldn't have occurred to me to consider his Iraqi blog as "Range Reports". On reflection, however ... why not?

See above for a stylistic comparison of the writings of Mr. Completely and Kim.

Category 7: Best Commentary

1: Kim du Toit
2: The Smallest Minority

(runner-up: Ravnwood)

A well-deserved vote for The Smallest Minority, proving that Geek-Length Posts still have a place in this world.

UPDATE: The comment (see the link below) from Mr. Completely informs us that voting will continue until January 31. His advice is to keep on voting!

It's late, I have more to talk about but tomorrow's a School Day and I REALLY need my Beauty sleep. I'll add the rest of it another day, but for now ....

That's All, Folks!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Pirates: Coming Home to Roost

U.S. Navy Seizes Pirate Ship Off Somalia


The Marines haven't landed -- yet -- but the Navy is here and has the situation well in hand. Along with a handful of Somalian Pirates.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - The U.S. Navy boarded an apparent pirate ship in the Indian Ocean and detained 26 men for questioning, the Navy said Sunday.

The 16 Indians and 10 Somali men were aboard a traditional dhow that was chased and seized Saturday by the U.S. guided missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill, said Lt. Leslie Hull-Ryde of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain.

The dhow stopped fleeing after the Churchill twice fired warning shots during the chase, which ended 54 miles off the coast of Somalia, the Navy said. U.S. sailors boarded the dhow and seized a cache of small arms.

The dhow's crew and passengers were being questioned Sunday aboard the Churchill to determine which were pirates and which were legitimate crew members, Hull-Ryde said.

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By now (24+ hours later, the Navy should have been able to sort out the crew and the pirates should be firmly escounced in the brig.

I have been ranting about pirates for eight months. Last May I reported on a pair of yachts which combined forces to drive off a pirate attack off the coast of Yemen during the month of March, 2005.

Two weeks ago, I suggested that the U.S. Navy should begin actively following up reports of piracy, hunt them down, and capture or kill them.

Apparently, somebody else had the same idea.
Sailors aboard the dhow told Navy investigators that pirates hijacked the vessel six days ago near Mogadishu and thereafter used it to stage pirate attacks on merchant ships.

The Churchill is part of a multinational task force patrolling the western Indian Ocean and Horn of Africa region to thwart terrorist activity and other lawlessness during the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

The Navy said it captured the dhow in response to a report from the International Maritime Bureau in Kuala Lumpur on Friday that said pirates had fired on the MV Delta Ranger, a Bahamian-flagged bulk carrier that was passing some 200 miles off the central eastern coast of Somalia.

<>Yes, that's just the way to do it. Way to go, Navy!

The only obstacle to final justice can be abridged by the shipwrights on the Churchill. Unlike Navy ships of previous centuries, a Guided Missile Destroyer is lacking a necessary accoutrement in The War Against Piracy;

A yardarm.

Those Somalian pigeons need a place to roost.

Extended Reportage:
Quotes are from MY WAY news.
The U.S. Navy website has a similar report.
The "Globe & Mail" has a more detailed report. Proud that the action was taken by "... the only U.S. warship named for a foreigner ...", this Canadian newspaper notes that the Churchill is a sister ship to the U.S. Cole, which was attacked by terrorists and nearly sunk in a Yemen port in 2000.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Study: Most college students lack skills

Study: Most college students lack skills

Working as I do on a college campus, I find this study's results to be entirely disrespectful of the caliber of college students.

Here's the kind of canards the authors present as a representative view of college students:

WASHINGTON -- More than half of students at four-year colleges - and at least 75 percent at two-year colleges - lack the literacy to handle complex, real-life tasks such as understanding credit card offers, a study found.

The literacy study funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the first to target the skills of graduating students, finds that students fail to lock in key skills - no matter their field of study.

The results cut across three types of literacy: analyzing news stories and other prose, understanding documents and having math skills needed for checkbooks or restaurant tips.

Without "proficient" skills, or those needed to perform more complex tasks, students fall behind. They cannot interpret a table about exercise and blood pressure, understand the arguments of newspaper editorials, compare credit card offers with different interest rates and annual fees or summarize results of a survey about parental involvement in school.

"It is kind of disturbing that a lot of folks are graduating with a degree and they're not going to be able to do those things," said Stephane Baldi, the study's director at the American Institutes for Research, a behavioral and social science research organization.

Most students at community colleges and four-year schools showed intermediate skills. That means they can do moderately challenging tasks, such as identifying a location on a map.

On behalf of College Students everywhere, I find myself obliged to speak up in their defense against this egrigious evaluation.

Sure, I see college students running around on campus in January, "The Cold and Rainy Month", dressed in dungarees and a t-shirt, but they have their book-bags to keep them warm.

Yes, there young women on campus who haven't yet learned that their body shape suggests they should NOT dress themselves in tight-fitting blue-jeans, short tops which allow their waist rolls to overflow the waistband of their trousers, and should absolutely NOT be showing their "Thongs", but who among us would criticize their determination not to sacrifice style in the cause of comfort? What are they going to college for? To get an education, undistracted by chills and shivering in class? Nonsense, they have their priorities.

Granted, they tend to ride their bicycles in the dark and the rain without benefit of safety devices such as headlights, and they cut in front of cars during the rush-hour without concern for the likelyhood that they may not be readily visible to commuters who are driving with fogged-up windshields, but they should be congratulated for their natural assumption that their fellow students are completely 'situationally aware' of the probability that crosswalks, sidewalks, and (rarely) bike lanes are occupied by bicyclists.

The authors of the study should ignore the fact that the parking lots near undergraduate dormitaries (usually occupied by students in the 18-20 year-old range) are cluttered with empty, squashed beer cartons.

Personally, I don't for a moment give credance to the near-anocdotal evidence that the student parking lots, filled to overflowing at the beginning of each term but with several parking spaces available at the end of the term, leads inexorably to the conclusion that students are flunking out of college. Rather, I prefer to assume that this is an indication that the students are becoming more involved with the Green movement, and eschew the use of Privately Owned Vehicles (eg: "Classic Cars", "Mom's Cars", and F350's and Beemers) for their day-to-day conveyence in favor of buses, skateboards, bicycles and Public Transportation.

We have accepted without criticism too many studies which suggest that students come to the collegial environment without basic academic, social and 'survival' skill. I say it's time to take the logical step needed to completely discount these accusatory, HURTFUL studies.

Stop funding the studies.