Thursday, September 25, 2008


"Trevor" is a Local Shooter, a Master-class shooter in USPSA (in more than one Division). He's a teacher, a hard worker, a nice guy and someone whom I love to watch while he's tearing up the cardboard and knocking down the steel at a match.

He's fast, he's accurate, and he has the moves.

Trevor has been posting some videos on YouTube this year (2008), and if he's not too shy to post them, I'm not too shy to show them.

Here are a couple of his videos, just to pique your interest.

The first one appears to be a video montage from the ARPC Single Stack Championship, 2008. I'm glad I didn't compete in that match, now, because I couldn't do as well as he did even if I was shooting with my Race Gun.

(NOTE in the second stage sequence, the door is closed at the start of the stage. It is opened when the activating target is knocked down; you can see it S-L-O-W-L-Y opening. It's important to find some other 'constructive shooting' things to do while waiting for that door to open.)

The second video shows Trevor shooting Chucks full-auto Glock. Note that Chuck is a LEO, and is authorized to possess full-auto firearms.

Frankly, I don't think the full-auto shoots much faster than Trevor shoots a semi-auto pistol. Certainly, the ration of hits to rounds fired can't be any better.

Night of Thunder: A Bob Lee Swagger novel

Night of Thunder I've just finished Steven Hunter's newest book, "Night of Thunder".

This is a book which I was able to put down.


It showed up in my mail box, courtesy of, two days ago. I read the first three pages and thought I better go do my chores. When I went to bed, I read some more, but was too tired to continue. So I put it down the second time.

When I picked it up the next day, I finished it. I didn't need the bookmark because I couldn't put it down.

Yes, this is another Bob Lee Swagger book, and Bob The Nailer is in high form.

I admit, I was a little disappointed by the preceding Swagger novel, "The 47th Samurai". I read this in October of 2007, and reported that Bob "Goes All Samurai". Although I enjoyed the concept and especially the dialogue, I thought the scene where a sixty year old broke-down sniper learns The Art of The Sword in a few weeks and then beats a Master Swordsman in a fair fight was too great a strain on my willingness to suspend disbelief.

No such stretch of the imagination here. The skills and abilities of Bob are reasonable, considering that Hunter worked hard to set the circumstances to match the possibilities of our Aging Hero.

The Aging Hero
The Possibilities of the Aging Hero are harder to portray than are the Problems of the Aging Hero.

For years, Robert B. Parker worked hard to keep his no-first-name hero Spenser young, viral, active and strong. Spenser was a Korean War Veteran, which put his birth date somewhere around 1938 or 1939 (The war ended July 27, 1953. Spenser must have spent at least 6 months in-country. He would have been in training for six months before being posted, and was 17 when he enlisted according to Spenserian Lore. Do the math.) The Godwulf Manuscript, the first Spenser book, appeared in 1973 ... Spenser would have been about 37 years old. The last Spenser book, Now and Then, was published in 2007. Parker is struggling to get the last book out but he has moved on to 'other heroes' because the penultimate book "Hundred Dollar Baby" (2006) illustrated a 33 year timespan ... Spenser would have been at least 68-70 years old, if continuity of time had been a factor in composing the stories. Unlikely to be beating up recalcitrant bad-guys.

That's not a problem if you're Charley Brown, who stayed 10 years old for over 30 years. But if you want to depict a realistically strong hero who is a 3+ tour veteran of the Vietnam War (Bob), and you deliberately put your latest book in an action sequence which ends in 2009, you must acknowledge the effects of time on your Last Action Hero.

Hunter allows Bob to age. Bob has doubts, makes mistakes in logic, questions his competence. Hunter also portrays Bob as 63 years old in 2008 or 2009, which puts his birth date around 1944 or 1945.

What can Bob actually ... do? In a combat situation?

He can rely on his skills and conditioning. (Bob is a man who never stops 'playing with guns', practicing skills, and doesn't lose that competitive edge. He's also a hard-working rancher, who maintains a better physical condition than, for example, a same-aged Geek slaving all day over a hot keyboard.)

No, the character of Bob, as portrayed in this book, is not inconsistent with his chronicled age. I don't know what Hunter will do with him next year, but this year he's more believable than he was last year.

The Story
The pace of the story was excellent.

Some of the clues to the mystery weren't hidden so well that the reader couldn't figure out solution. Rather than detract from the story, this is the mark of the Master Mystery Writer: it is consistent with the goal that Agatha Christie always strove for, an Honest Mystery. The clues are there for the reader. It's not enough to spot them, the Amateur Detective must figure how they fit with the facts, and interpret them correctly. There are sufficient Red Herrings tossed into the fish stew to make it both challenging and fun. No, I didn't have it all figured out, it wasn't what you could call predictable. Still, I 'had a clue' and that added to the fun of reading.

One of the joys was the discovery that we renew our acquaintance with the Grumley and Pye families, who are returning characters in previous incarnations of the Swagger Saga. Not these particular Grumleys and Pyes, of course: the descendants of the (few) survivors of those books. They're just as bad, they're just as evil, they're just as degenerate as they have been for three generations ... and they continue to constitute a Target Rich Environment.

There's even a strong "USPSA" thread, which I believe makes this a "Must Read" book.

Read The Book/Own The Book
Don't borrow this book. Don't check it out of the library. Buy it! You will find yourself going back through your collection of Hunter novels and re-reading a select few which deal with the sword play, the history of Nikki (now a 24 year old journalist), and the adventures of Earl and Hot Springs.

(Note to The Usual Subjects: SWMBO gets my copy to read next. Yes, I refused to let her read it first. After all, she has been bogarting the latest J. A. Jance novel for the past 2 weeks.)

At 287 pages, this isn't the longest book that Hunter has written. But with its continuity of time and place, the tight writing, the sparkling dialogue and driving action (sorry, I couldn't resist), this could well be one of the best.

Given Stephen Hunters consistently high quality of writing, that's high praise indeed.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Navy shows off unmanned submarine-detecting craft - Los Angeles Times

Navy shows off unmanned submarine-detecting craft - Los Angeles Times

The U.S. Navy is planning to stock up with "Robot Boats" to patrol Litorral waters.

SAN DIEGO -- To the world it might be called a robot boat, but its proper name is the Unmanned Surface Vehicle, and the U.S. Navy expects it to be a major tool in countering what officials believe is a growing threat posed by quiet diesel-powered submarines owned by rogue nations.

In advance of the official roll-out today, reporters were allowed to see the boat on Thursday at Naval Base Point Loma before it took a trial run on San Diego Bay.

The goal is to greatly expand the Navy's ability to detect hostile submarines by sending the unmanned boats, equipped with sonar, to probe the nooks and crannies where subs might be hiding to ambush a Navy ship or a merchant vessel.

The boats will be controlled by sailors at a safe distance on a much larger ship.

The Navy wants to have 32 of the unmanned boats, each packed with the most-sophisticated electronic gear available.

The first of the two boats, developed and stuffed with sonar-detection gear, cost $197 million.

In the future, the price is slated to drop to $46 million per boat.

Each aluminum-hulled boat is 39 feet long, weighs 17,000 pounds and can carry up to 5,000 pounds of intelligence-gathering technology while traveling up to 35 knots in rough waters.

If all goes as planned, the first will be deployed in 2011, possibly to the Persian Gulf, where the Iranian navy says its submarines, lurking undetected, could close the Strait of Hormuz, through which tankers carrying much of the world's oil supply travel.

The boats are meant to be launched by the so-called Littoral Combat Ships, shallow-draft ships that can maneuver close to shore.
My son will complete Secondary Training in his Primary Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) at the end of the month ... Master at Arms. Also known as Shore Patrol, or Military Police. That is to say, he will be a Military Cop. He will be stationed at San Diego for the next three years.

I assume that this is one vessel which will not call for a MoA to be stationed on the deck.

Or however the Gobs say it.

Woman Trapped in Home by Giant Pig - Rescue Planned for Woman Trapped in Home by Giant Pig | Europe News

Caroline Hayes, 63, tried to leave her house in Uki, New South Wales, to use the outdoor toilet, but the animal bit her and shoved her back inside.

Bruce, who is the size of a Shetland pony, showed up at her home 10 days ago after his owners were unable to cope with him and let him loose in the rainforest.

Hayes began feeding the beast, but he became more aggressive, demanding more food and biting her on the leg when she tried to go to the toilet.

Local rangers tried to rescue her but could not capture the huge animal.

The case has now been handed over to the Rural Lands Protection Board (RLPB), who have promised not to put the animal down.

Hayes told how she took pity on the beast, but it soon took over her home.

"When I found it, it had 15 ticks in its eyes which I actually took out," she said.

"One of its eyes it couldn't see out of, so I put cream in it, but apparently it's actually claimed my land and claimed my place."

Cujo ... V-2.0 ??

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Practical Pistol Practice: Air Gun Style

Shooting Wire: Action Airgun Competition Worldwide

Jim Shepherd, in his Monday (September 22, 2008) article, writes about the joy of practicing Practical Pistol with an Airsoft pistol.
It's actually a kit (available for 'under $300, but not by much') consisting of:

  • a 1911 pistol, same weight as the Real Thing, that shoots airsoft pellets
  • pellets
  • gas cartridges
  • targets
  • "target holders"
  • A timer which is especially sensitive -- it can pick up the sound of the pistol's discharge
I'm not sure what else is available in the kit, but apparently it's everything needed to simulate action pistol shooting in your garage.


I'm so pleased to report that The Shooting Wire is now posting their ENTIRE daily (almost) articles online, including Jim Shepherd's reports.

If nothing else, that allows me to link to their website rather than to copy-and-paste Shepherd's article while worrying that I can only actually copy "this much, and no more" of the content without worrying that I am violating his/their copyright protection.

I don't know how long they have archived their three-times-a-week (Monday/Wednesday/Friday) webmail posts; it's a relief that they are doing so now. Here's a big Geek Thank You to the folks at The Shooting Wire. - H.R. 6842, The National Capital Security and Safety Act - H.R. 6842, The National Capital Security and Safety Act

Some people aren't happy about this. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland's 8th District), for example, isn't happy because both Maryland and Virginia have state laws forbidding the purchase of more than one firearm a month. So does D.C. This bill would disallow D.C. to have continue a similar existing law, and Van Hollen doesn't think that's fair. (The link includes both a BAD YouTube video, and the full text of his remarks.)

What this bill, the substitute bill, would do is say the people of the District of Columbia, they can’t pass the same law the people in Maryland have and the people in Virginia have. That is absolutely wrong.
He's also outraged that:

This bill eliminates, for the purpose of the District of Columbia, the ban on interstate trafficking of guns that applies to every other jurisdiction in this country, which not only puts at risk people in the District of Columbia, but puts a burden and a risk on the people of all the surrounding jurisdictions. Why would we eliminate that provision which applies throughout the country just in the District of Columbia?
He may be right. It may be that the the Supreme Court will soon be addressing similar infringements on the 2nd Amendment by states, not just D.C. It may come to that.

This is a very confusing issue ... no surprise to most of us.

One of the confusing factors it that, although HR6842 has been passed by the House, and forwarded to the Senate, there was an 'alternative' (House Report 110-843) which was reported to have "replaced" the original bill.

The "Second Amendment Enforcement Act" (HR6691 -read into the house on July 31, 2008) may be the 'alternative' which was accepted by the house.

(Full Text available here ... I think.)

[This is strikingly similar to the 2003 "District of Columbia Protection Act" (HR3193), which apparently failed aborning.]

That bill seems on the surface to address the more egregious actions of D.C., including the definition of a semi-automatic firearm as a "machine gun", and requiring registration of firearms.

And just when you think you understand what's going on, you look at the dates on the bill and they don't seem, somehow, to be ... sequential.


Without conducting a line-by-line comparison of H. Rept 110-843, HR6691, HR6842, and the original "Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975" (District of Columbia - I do have what seems to be a thorough reference here but I can't say that this quotes the Act directly), it's impossible to tell what existing statutes are being addressed by which 'new' bills.

(Wikipedia summary of FCRA/1975 here.)

My intention is not to act as a legal scholar by thoroughly compairing all existing and proposed legislation to provide a point-by-point evaluation of this body of legal action. I'll leave that to someone who is so inclined and who is qualified.

The purpose of this is only to caution you to not be too optimistic that the latter legislative actions are not necessarily going to result in what you may personally consider a pure interpretaion of the Second Amendment, as you understand it.

Please, do prepare yourself to be somewhat diappointed in this, the third round in the D.C. v 2nd Amendment, controversy and legalistic embroglio.

Remember, all participants are lawyers.

Or Politicians.

Almost 100% of the time, all politicians are lawyers, which constitutes the most deadly boulibaise of self-interest, drive for re-election and bias that the world has ever seen.

"First, we hang the lawyers"
-- William Shakespeare

"It ain't over until it's over"
-- Yogi Berra

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday Night

I love Sunday evenings. I never know what the night will bring. It is as much the ending of the previous week as it is the beginning of a new week.

Sunday is primarily a Blogging night. The best night of the week (beginning or end) because I have decided, some months ago, that I will bring the best thoughts of other, better men (and women) for the consideration of you and me.

Specifically, I use a "Random Quotes" generator to summarize my current mood and thinking, for no better purpose than to direct our thoughts to subjects which we might otherwise not consider. Because the quotes are presented randomly, I usually require myself to "Use The Force". I say 'usually, because last Sunday I tried a new approach: I published only the thoughts and words of a single author, in this case it was Mark Twain.

Sometimes I try to guide my articles using the quotes, but I fear that this has been haphazard at best. "Breaking News" has an energy all its own. I am often and easily distracted.

Tonight, I though I would spend some of our time talking about the quotes I found, and why I chose them.

One thing you should know is that the software only allows 500 characters in the area which I have chosen to publish them ... that would be the blue area with white letters at the top of the page. If you haven't yet noticed that it changes every week, now you will know to pay attention to it.

Here's how it looks this week:

If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score?

- Vince Lombardi

I find that a great part of the information I have was acquired by looking up something and finding something else on the way.

-- Franklin P. Adams

I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and I didn't like it and didn't inhale and never tried it again.

-- Gov. Bill Clinton

Here's how it would have looked, if it could be kept within the 500 word limitation:

If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score?

-- Vince Lombardi

I find that a great part of the information I have was acquired by looking up something and finding something else on the way.

-- Franklin P. Adams

When I was in England, I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and I didn't like it and didn't inhale and never tried it again.

-- Gov. Bill Clinton

The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.

-- Thomas Jefferson

The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.

-- Mark Twain

The vice-presidency ain't worth a pitcher of warm spit.

-- Vice President John Nance Garner

Why did I choose as I did, and why did I edit as I did?

Interesting questions, and I'm glad you asked them.

Winning: Vince Lombardi

This blog is dedicated primarily to Practical Shooting, and I have demonstrated time and again that I am not deterred by my inability to 'win' any match, stage, division or class. Lombardi was a professional and he is paid to win. I am an amateur, not particularly skilled, and my payment is the joy of competition and the joy of shooting.

I compete because they keep score, which allows me to evaluate my shooting skills against others. When I discover that they are better than me, it's only an interesting factoid; it isn't a disappointment. I'm here for the fun and for the good people that I meet here. I'm occasionally thrilled if I win something by any measure of the game, but it doesn't spoil my day if I lose by every measure of the game.

Information: Franklin P. Adams

I don't know who Franklin P. Adams is, and I don't care. He lived from 1881 to 1960 and had a kinky way of looking at things. The thing that interests me is that in his long life, most of it lived WAY before the advent of the Internet, he researched life the same way I do. He starts an information search on one subject, and discovers that he is easily distracted by fascinating incidental subjects.

I do the same thing. I start out reading an article in the newspaper (for example) and soon discover that I'm reading other articles in the same source. I have frequently written on subjects discovered in this manner, and my original source is only infrequently recognized by a "Hat Tip".

You experience may be similar. Or not. I don't care, frankly, although I encourage you to explore the available resources 'on-line' and I appreciate the wealth of information available here.

Smoking Marijuana: Bill Clinton

I have a TON of things to say on this subject, and I've never found an appropriate venue to say them until Bill popped up on my Event Horizon. If you're a Fan of Bill, I apologize for off-putting you by revealing my prejudices. Here are my thoughts on Bill.

I like Ike. Campaign slogan, sure, but it summarizes my adolescent appreciation of President Dwight David Eisenhower. He spent his entire tenure playing golf badly. (Not as badly as Gerald Ford; as nearly as I can tell, Ike never hit a spectator with a golf ball. Ford did ... twice. Look it up.) But Ike did initiate the Interstate Freeway System to provide emergency landing strips for American Bombers and fighter planes in case of a national emergency. As it turns out, we haven't needed them for that purpose, but in the meantime we enjoy some of the best highway systems in the world.

Bill's accomplishments include ...feeling our pain. He made a career out of feeling our pain, but he never contributed much toward the otherwise-laudable goal of easing our pain. He raised taxes, he initiated the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA, and what a joy that has been), and he spotted the occasional blue Dress.

During his initial run for the presidency, as "Governor Bill Clinton" (Arkansas), Bill found himself in a debate with his presidential opponents. As I recall it, the interlocutor asked the question "have you ever used drugs?". The response from William Jefferson Clinton was:

"When I was in England, I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and I didn't like it and didn't inhale and never tried it again."

I have a few thoughts on that subject. Please, act surprised.

First, my impression of a man who says "I didn't inhale" are the same as the impression of a man who says "I didn't swallow". Read into that what you will.

Second, I sometimes step outside of my office building to take a smoke break. I light up on the steps, right next to the posted sign which states: "No smoking allowed within ten feet of the building entrance". (This is intended, I believe, to prevent smokers from blocking the entrance and also to prevent visitors from dying as the consequence of inhaling 'second-hand smoke'.)

One day I thought about the wisdom of this practice, and mentally postulated the following exchange:

Visitor: "Hey, you're smoking by the door! You can't do that, it's against the law!"

Me: " It's okay, I didn't inhale."

Visitor: "But you're blowing smoke all around, and it's forbidden."

Me: "Wait a minute. Bill Clinton said he smoked Marijuana, but he didn't inhale. He was elected President of the United States based on this concept. How can you judge me differently?"

Visitor: "Bill Clinton was a Democrat!"

I rest my case.

(Note that I deleted a few words of the direct quote; this was done only to fit the quotes within the 500-character limit.)

Vice Presidents: John Nance Garner

"The vice-presidency ain't worth a pitcher of warm spit."

I find this quote particularly significant in light of the recent nomination of Sarah Palin as the Republican Vice-Presidential Candidate.

The Republicans love her: She's a Republican governor with integrity, she's outspoken, and she pisses of the Democrats. What's not to like? Besides, she has only two years of experience in this Executive position, which constitutes a slap in the face of the Democratic Presidential Candidate, B. Hussein Obama (who has ZERO Executive Experience and whose limited Senatorial experience has produced ... nothing worth bragging about.)

Because of her candidacy, the Dems are currently forced to attack her 'lack of experience', which only high-lights their own Presidential candidate's own lack of experience.

Perhaps more important, Theodore Roosevelt entered the Vice Presidential race with less than 2 years of experience as the Governor of New York. And there were at least two other presidents (including Calvin Coolidge) who came into the office of President with little more executive experience than Sarah Palin.

John Nance Garner was FDR's first Vice Presidential pick, and he had little respect ("... not worth a bucket of [warm] spit") for the office. It makes us wonder whether the office is that important, sometimes, considering that the office is largely ceremonial and the office holders ... and observers ... are often so unimpressed by their duties (see here and here and here).

Reading: Twain and Jefferson

Finally, we come to the concept of "Reading" as an important factor of intelligent participation in society.

This was, in my mind, the most vital concept of today's quotes, but I had to delete the whole thing to meet the 500 word limit mentioned above. It is perhaps the reason why I wrote this article, and I promise to be as brief as possible.

The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.

-- Thomas Jefferson

and ...

The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.

-- Mark Twain

The last quote was included last week. The first is (or would have been) included this week.

The point of both sources is that it is important to read. Jefferson used the concept to denigrate the use of newspapers as a primary source, which may be interpreted as a criticism of the New York Times and other Main-Stream Media.

Twain took a broader approach, postulating that ANY reading of ANY kind would broaden one's intellectual horizons, encourage us to consider new thoughts which we cannot spontaneously envision based on our own experiences, and consider concepts which are foreign to us ... but which may be valid nonetheless.

I believe that they are both correct, and that the priorities which they individually encourage are not two sides of the same coin, but entirely different in detail ... if similar in the broad concept.

Twain encourages us to read ... above all else, read as much as you can so that you can learn what other people think. It may cause us to consider abstracts which had never occurred to us before.

Jefferson encourages it seek other sources of thought than the popular media, which may be tainted by the preconceptions of the authors because there are often "hidden agendas" in the popular media.

Fortunately, the solution to these tendencies to cleave to insularity of though is readily available through the variety of conceptualization provided by the Internet. Read the thoughts of people who do NO agree with you. Avoid the comforting familiarity of those whose opinions mirror your own; you will not be critical, and uncritical reading is the balm of petty minds.

The rest of the analysis is left as an exercise for the reader.