Thursday, September 28, 2006

Blogger Problems

From time to time, my blog host ( gets trashed.

This is one of those times.

I can't publish new articles using Netscape as my browser, although this is my preferred browser, because for the last two days it has taken from 40 minutes to two hours to publish. Compare this to the usual peerformance of FIVE TO TEN SECONDS, and you begin to understand my frustration.

Tonight I resorted to using MS Internet Explorer to publish. The problem is, the sidebar doesn't display. Well, maybe it did if I let it go more than the FIVE MINUTES I gave it to load, but essentially there's nothing I can do about it.

(Note: the last time I resorted to IE as a browser to view the blog, which was over a month ago, it worked fine. This is A Recent Thing.)

Bottom line: it's not my fault, but it's my problem. I probably won't be looking for a new publishing software, if only because reassures us (although nobody seems to believe them more than I do, which is not at all) that this is just a temporary problem due to hackers.

So please bear with me as we, together, endure that which we cannot change.

FWIW, it's not just me. I've visited the forum and there are hundreds of complaints about this problem. Some of your favorite blogs will be affected. I started complaining (most shamefully to GEEKWITHA45.BLOGSPOT.COM about format problems, but it's probably not his fault, either.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Islamic Fascism

I received an email today (from The Hobo Brasser) which appears to be an article from a man named Sam Harris.

Harris presents himself here as a Liberal with a well-established Bush Hatred complex, but he writes to describe his current disenchantment with Liberal Politics (or Philosophy, if you care to put a kindly slant to it.)

The title of the article is "Losing Our Way in a World of Religious Extremism".

Actually, the email I received is only an abridged version of "Head-In-The-Sand Liberals", an article published September 18, 2006, in that great Liberal Fishwrapper the L.A. Times. It's not an important detail, I just mention it because in the first draft of this article I said I didn't care enough to waste the time researching it. After I finished writing the article, I decided you deserved to at least read the original, if you cared enough to read the commentary.

However, there were a few statements that I do care about, for perverse reasons of my own, and I choose to fisk them if only for the exercise.

Here's a selection:

Islamists are not technically fascists, and the term ignores a variety of schisms that exist even among Islamists; but it is by no means an example of wartime propaganda, as has been repeatedly alleged by liberals.

Here's my first quibble, the quote (I added the emphasis) that "Islamists are not technically fascists".

That may be so; Lord knows we have been searching for a phrase which distinguishes the people who cut off head in front of a video camera, fly airplanes into skyscrapers, and force journelists to convert to 'their' religion at gunpoint from those of the same religion who don't do these things.

The problem is, it must be "politically correct".

No, the problem is that it is impossible to be both descriptive and politically correct.

But in recent history (since old age and arrests have gentled Sein Fein and the IRA, the Red Army, the Baader-Meinhof Gang and the Basque Separatists), we have a few basic rules which pretty well define Terrorists:
  1. Not all muslims are Terrorists.
  2. All Terrorists are muslims.
  3. There is no third point. That pretty well sums it up.
So let's give some credit to the Bush administration for at least making a good effort to name the bunch of muslim terrorsts in a way that doesn't offend the muslims who are NOT terrorists.

Harris seems to reject the term "Islamic Fascism" because Fascism isn't a precise description. Let's look at that, using definitions:


Pronunciation: (fash'iz-um), [key]
1. (sometimes cap.) a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.
2. (sometimes cap.) the philosophy, principles, or methods of fascism.
3. (cap.) a fascist movement, esp. the one established by Mussolini in Italy 1922–43.

Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.

My guess is that Harris objects to the usage of the term "fascism" because definition number one refers to "a governmental system lead by a dictator". The objection is that (a) the movement is not confined to a single nation-state, and (b) there is no single obvious dictator involved.

This is mere quibbling. The situation is not really new in history, given the muslim conquests of European cities and states in past centuries, but there doesn't really exist a term which applies to religions rather than "governments" (read: nation/states).

And the fact that no single "dictator" is currently leading the attacks is yet more quibbling.
What is important is not the clearly defined source of the attacks, but the goals and means of the movement.

"... forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism."

I think we can all agree that this well describes the movement, with the possible subsitution of the word "religion" for "nationalism".

In the final analysis, the Islamic Fascists deliberately and consciously, themselves, consider theism above nationalism and racism.

Hmmm ... this must appeal to Liberals, with their philosophic emphasis on "inclusiveness". All nations and all races are welcome, as long as you embrace the muslim religion. Yes, I'm being facetious here, but it's still a valid point.

Speaking of Liberals, here's anothe quote from the emailed article:

Increasingly, Americans will come to believe that the only people hard-headed enough to fight the religious lunatics of the Muslim world are the religious lunatics of the West. Indeed, it is telling that the people who speak with the greatest moral clarity about the current wars in the Middle East are members of the Christian right, whose infatuation with biblical prophecy is nearly as troubling as the ideology of our enemies. Religious dogmatism is now playing both sides of the board in a very dangerous game.

While liberals should be the ones pointing the way beyond this Iron Age madness, they are rendering themselves increasingly irrelevant. Being generally reasonable and tolerant of diversity, liberals should be especially sensitive to the dangers of religious literalism. But they aren't.

There are a lot of "loaded" words here, too.
Words that add emotional overtones beyond the obvious surface meanings.

That angers me, and I don't like it when someone manipulates me like that.
You probably don't like it, either.

Words like "religious lunatics", mainly because the quote equates Islamic extremists with Christian fundamentalists. That's just wrong. How many videos are circulating of Christian Fundamentalists beheading innocent civilians, stoning their own women, or forcing religious conversion at the point of a gun? How many skyscrapers have they destroyed?

Harris, an avowed athiest, is perhaps disingenuous when he attacks "religious lunatics". He isn't just against Christian Fundamentalists. In a recent article, he took great pains to rail against the sins of "Religious Moderates", as well. One may be correct in understanding that he considers any religious belief system to be a fatal character flaw.

But there are words which ring true to me, too

"Being generally reasonable and tolerant of diversity, liberals should be especially sensitive to the dangers of religious literalism. But they aren't."

There is some truth there. Words can describe the world as it really is, rather than as we would wish it to be. Words that disavow "moral relativity", and recognize absolutes.

Absolutes, such as cultural, religious and national survival.

The American people ... generally a Christian Nation (see note below)... don't hate muslims. But they fear the extremism that they see in this decade, and they are generally prepared to to defend themselves from a people who seem (judging from what we see in the media) determined to force us to accept their values and their lifestyle even against our will.

We read that America is the most religious nation in the world. I don't know about that. I'm not religious, and so I don't know a lot of people who are predominatly religious. But we all know that we live our lives as we see fit, and are likely to object when someone tries to tell us how to live our lives.

I don't cleave to liberal philosophy. I think some ways of living are right, and some ways are wrong. But I won't tell any man how to live his live, and I won't let any man tell me how to live my life.

This is perhaps why President Bush's challenge to "Bring It On!" was so appealing to me.

This is the thing about a free people. We'll argue with anyone about anything, but we won't allow them to force our conversion to a belief system that we don't really believe in, at the point of a sword or the muzzle of a gun. (What hypocracy on both sides!) You can kill us, but you can't beat us.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe situation is remotely analgous the the 1948 John Wayne movie "Red River". Here, the main character "Dunson" is so driven by his personal priorities, he forgets his own loves and his own humanity.

This is how I see the Islamic Fascists (tm).

They think that they have a corner on the market of culture, religion and life-style.

We think they have nothing, and despite their acknowledged earlier contributions in mathematics and astronomy, we have to ask:
"What have you done lately?''

Murder, mutilation and rhetoric don't count.

(Ironically Harris just published a book named "Letter to a Christian Nation")

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

2006 Croc Match: Revolver Division

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usThanks to the generosity of Jerry Vanderwerth, I have just come into the possession of videos which show all FOUR (4) of the Revolver shooters shooting the same stage at the Croc Match.

The videos you see will feature Jon, Teddi, Jerry and Roger shooting the same stage. I can't find my Croc Match Shooter Book, so I'm not absolutely certain about the name of the stage. But according to the Croc Match results, and my memory, I'm pretty sure it's Stage No: 1 CROC BARREL BLUES.

(The match was themed "Still Crazy after All These Years". Each stage was designed and named according to the theme from a previous year. I don't know what theme this stage is emulating, but it's clear that it was suggested by the requirement to shoot at blue-painted plates through a blue barrel prop. Was there a year when the theme was "colors"? Check the comments, I'm sure that either Bill Marrs or Paul Meiers, the driving force behind this stellar match, will read and comment on this point eventually.)

The first thing you will notice, as you watch these videos, is that ... for Revolver shooters, every stage is a memory stage.

You have six rounds in the gun, and OVER 25 targets to engage. That is, there are 8 steel plates, so you have 22 IPSC targets and 8 plates. If you miss, it's going to enirely screw up your shooting plan -- which is to make as few reloads as possible.

That means that instead of starting at the beginning (as Winnie the Poo might have said), going all the way to the end, and stopping, you have to engage targets somethat out of order, sometimes. And always ALWAYS allow yourself to screw up without letting it ruin your stage.


The second Revolver competitor is Teddi, also from California. (She and her husband Roger car-pooled to the Oregon match with Jon. There they were squadded with our 'local Revolver Nut" Jerry, who kindly introduced me to them before the match and provided these lovely pictures and videos for our enjoyment.

You will note that Teddi's game plan is a little different from Jon's. She engages different "Bonus Targets" to finish off a cylinder of ammunition. The difference in Bonus Target selection may save some time later in the stage, by virtue of saving steps OR by allowing the competitor to shoot an entire 3-target array without reload.

The third shooter is Local Hero Jerry. His approach is similar to Teddi's, with minor variance in the way he chooses to shoot the 8-round plate array through the barrel. This was the stage bottleneck, for both Revolver and Pistol shooters, and a competitors score on this stage was often determined by the ability to navigate the rocks and shoals of the barrel.

The fourth and final shooter is Roger, Teddi's husband, from Washington.

When you watch this video, pay attention to the quick movement between shooting position and the sense of urgency. Roger obviously understands that they place to save time (assuming that reload times are approximately the same over the course of several reloads .. on this stage, idealy, seven reloads) is in movement.

Also, if you're a revolver shooter, the primary focus is on accuracy. If you miss ONE shot, you will probably find yourself making an extra reload. Miss two shots, add another reload. The accuracy of the shooter is most obviously paramount when shooting the 8 plates through the barrel. You will notice that Roger made NO make-up shots, especially through the barrel. He then shot a cylindar at the next three targets, reloaded while moving, and shot the last target with two rounds of the six available.

He had to slow down a few hundredths of a second on each tight target (read: plates) to make sure he got his hits. But through the entire course of fire, he shot exactly 50 rounds on this 50-round stage. The result was that he made more points, in less time, than his nearest competitor (Jerry, who earned 93+ stage points as compared to Roger's 101+ stage points.)

Roger placed first in Revolver Division for the match, and judging from this one-stage demonstration it was probably because he tended to speed up when shooting easy targets and moving, but slowed WAY down when accuracy was needed.

I wasn't able to watch this squad (which included another 11 shooters, but they were all using auto-pistols) shoot, so I'm grateful for Jerry's generosity in making these videos available.
For those of you who want to see the full video in better definition, you can find them at Jerry the Geek's Video Shooting Gallery.

The B-Team

You've seen the best, now watch the rest.

The Croc Match set the stage for the Master and Grand Master pistoleros to strut their stuff. But what did ordinary, fallible B/C/D Class shooters look like?

Well, we looked not too bad, really. Not as fast as the Masters, of course, and our foibles were magnified in comparison.

If you really want to know, we made a lot of mistakes. We overlooked and/or just ran by targets without shooting at them. Our guns jammed, sometimes the target activators didn't work or the targets didn't get reset correctly when it was our turn to shoot.

But dang it, we looked pretty good on film, and sometimes we even sounded good.

RIP Cooper's Commentaries -- without comment

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usAnnouncement

Final blog


Thank you for informing us,
Michael Bane Blog

Monday, September 25, 2006

Broken Safety

I interviewed Bobby Wright today (Mister "Reactive Targets" of R&R Racing) for a future Front Sight article. As we talked, he made a statement that hit very close to home.

He was discussing the reasons why he preferred to compete in Limited Division rather than Open Division. Here's a reasonably close quote:

"Race guns are too easy. Anybody can shoot a race gun well. Limited guns are not as easy, but they are often easy to tune so that they are almost as easy to shoot as a race gun. Production guns are HARD to shoot!


But besides that, race guns break. Guns are like race cars, they break a lot. The car that you drive to work every day will give you 200,000 miles if you maintain it. But a drag racer, you get three or four runs out of it, and you have to replace the engine. You just put more stress on a race gun or a race car than you do a regular gun or car."

I would ordinarily be inclined to take that as an alegorical statement, except that I have immediate, empirical personal proof of the statement.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usWednesday night I took the STI Competitor out of its gun rug to clean it, and the left hand side of the ambidextrous safety fell off into my hand as I started to field strip it. I hadn't put any pressure on it, I just touched it as I racked the slide with my left hand to pull the slide back so I could lock it in position. I've done this literally thousands of times with no problems.

I first thought that it had become detached from the right side because the dove-tail connection (I'm not mechanically competent, so I may not be using the right terminology, but I'm confident that some helpful reader will provide the correct term) and the left-side just became temporarily detached from the right side. After a few fumbling attempts to just jam the two parts together, I took a closer look and saw that the metal had snapped just at the pivot pin at the rear of the safety. That pin is the part with the erroneously named dove-tail connection.

I've shot this pistol for two years since the thumb safety broke (in almost exactly the same way, and in exactly the same place) and had been replaced. I know that small parts on an Open gun ("Race Gun") should be considered "consumables", in the same sense that paper clips, erasers, pens and pencils are "consumables" in an office. That is to say, they're going to be used up until they don't work any more for one reason or another, or until they are lost, and then you need to replace them.

I keep a number of small parts for this pistol, including a extractor, an ejector, a slide lock, firing pin and firing pin spring and firing pin block, recoil spring and sear spring. But I just have never considered that I should keep a spare ambidextrous safety.

In the first place, they're not cheap. In the second place, they're not a simple drop-in replacement. Sure, if you're mechanically inclined (which I ain't) it's possible to replace an ambidextrous safety under 'field conditions'. But often they require a little work to make them fit. Different pistols may use the same safety, but they don't have the same profile. That is to say, there may be a little metal sticking past the grip safety which would be painful and possibly injurious if you plan to shoot the pistol a lot before you get to where you can take a grinder to it to perfect the rear contour.

Also, the right-hand side of the safety fits into a flange on the frame which is suppose to keep it from falling off in case the two halves of the ambidextrous safety become detached, as I had originally supposed mine had. (Note that this is not a common occurrence ... it was merely wishful thinking on my part.)

Finally, the fit between the two halves (again, the "dove-tail" fit) may not be easy to accomplish under field conditions.

All of these are good excuses reasons for not stocking a spare ambidextrous thumb safety for your race gun, and I've lived by them.

I very much wanted to shoot the club match on Saturday, so I packed up my Limited Gun (STI Edge in 10mm ... which I have not shot in three years, but that's another story) for the match and took the Competitor race-gun along with me.

When I got to the range on Saturday, I hailed the local gunsmith-guru Rob Shepherd of MajorNyneGuns and asked him if he would please see to replacing my safety. He very generously agreed to do so, if I would just give it to him before he left at the end of the match.

Then we all went shooting in our various squads, I with full confidence that I would have a race gun too shoot within a couple of weeks (and armed with my reading glasses because the reason I shoot a race gun is because I can't see iron sights any more ... but that's another story), and Rob doubtless with the satisfaction that he has a nice, easy job of work to build his business with another easily satisfied customer.

Sounds like a problem identified and easily solved, doesn't it?

But wait, there's more!

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usMy SWMBO (She ... Who Must Be Obeyed) was shooting with me, as usual, and I was acting as Range Officer on the fourth stage when I happened to look CLOSELY at the STI Tru-Bore she was using during the Load-And-Make-Ready preparation of the stage.

I said: "Excuse me, but please look at the right side of your pistol."

She did, then looked at me and said: "Okay, I have looked at the right side of my pistol. What?"

I said: "Are you aware that the right half of your ambidextrous safety is missing?"

She said: "Uh huh."

I said: "Ummmm ... how long has it been missing?"

"Since this morning."

"I see. Can you be a little more specific?"

"Well, when I took it out of the bag this morning, it wasn't there."

"So you've shot half the match with half of your thumb safety missing, right?"

"That's right."

Perhaps my verbiage wasn't exactly so calm and organized, but that was the general gist of it.

I am defeated. I have no idea what to do next. In the absence of higher authority, and with the evidence that she has been shooting a completely safe gun all day, I merely asked her to keep track of the left side of her ambidextrous thumb safety and please let the Range Officer know if it comes loose or otherwise seems not to be adequately performing its assigned function.

For those who may be interested in the minutiae of the story, she completed the match with no safety problems and her scores soundly trounced mine for the rest of the match.

After the match I met with Rob at the central Safety table with not one, but TWO thumb-safety deprived pistols.

He looked at mine, with the broken part laid by its side, and said "Well, at least we can see that you are keeping your thumb on the safety while you shoot!" as if that were a good thing.

I had to admit that, sadly, I have a terrible grip and am unable to learn to shoot a pistol in the "High Grip" manner. I never touch the safety after I've switched it /OFF. Rob was a little perplexed, and admitted that he breaks thumb safeties frequently because "When I shoot, I tend to put a lot of down-pressure on the thumb safety."

Boy, I sure wish I had such a good excuse. But I don't.

Do you recall that I have mentioned in a previous post about the Croc Match that the combination of high-round count and accumulated heat often causes a high rate of breakage?

(No, I can't find the link.)

Well it does. But it didn't happen for us.

Still we shot the Croc Match last month, and since then we've shot two club matches of about 150+ rounds each. I do recall mentioning that the pistol was so hot at the end of the day that it was painful to hold. This isn't a phenomenon which only I experienced, several competitors remarked on it.

I just wonder if that didn't have something to do with it, in terms of metal fatigue and over-tempering.

But what do I know? I'm just a Geek with a gun.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A-Team Video

A few days ago I provided a link to Norm the Ungrateful's video, a composit of several videos he shot during the Croc Match.

Norm was kind enough to provide me with the YouTube code to host the video directly.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.