Saturday, January 31, 2009

NRA on Ballistic Fingerprinting

A couple of years ago (March 14, 2007), the National Rifle Association posted a video on YouTube which purported to legitimately point out the fallacies they found in a "60 Minute" segment discussing "Ballistic Fingerprinting".

There are several problems with the NRA production, perhaps as problematic as the 60 Minute segment. (Which I have not seen.)

In the first place, the NRA production failed to define the term "Ballistic Fingerprinting". Perhaps their point was that all "Ballistic Fingerprinting" techniques were fatally flawed. But my instinctive willingness to forgive the NRA is as insupportable as their nine minute video.

During discussions, the NRA seems to be talking about one aspect while demonstrating another. Most notably, during one sequence the seem to be talking about comparing the rifling marks on a bullet. But much of their footage demonstrates not bullet striations, but comparisons of the base of the cartridge.

Strangely, while they are in the middle of demonstrating how easy it is to change the striations on a bullet (they seem to be suggesting that simply cleaning the barrel, or perhaps using buffing compound to clean the barrel ... they are not clear here), they cut away to a shot of a lab technician filing the firing pin.

It's intuitively obvious that filing a firing pin will change the configuration of primer indentation, but they never mention that.

I have some doubts about the efficacy of a "fifteen second" application of (again, presumably) an abrasive grease on a bore cleaner rag at a cost of "no more than 20 dollars" will definitively change the striations on a bullet.

Not only do I suspect that this light-weight effort will significantly change the striation marks on a bullet ... regardless of their assertions ... but I even question the price they quote; I'm not sure where one can purchase a buffing compound which is so abrasive that it costs $20 for what appears to be a six-ounce portion.

I have no way of knowing how much time, effort and money the NRA has expended to produce this video, but I am disappointed. I have no doubt that any reader here could have been a better, more fact-based Producer or editor.

I have never been an enthusiastic supporter of the National Rifle Association. It's not that their espoused goal is not worthy of my support, but they all-too-often produce arguments in support of the Second Amendment which are so lame that I am embarrassed to admit my association with them.

While I appreciate the effort the NRA put into producing this video, I'm disappointed that they couldn't find competent editors who would make sure that the result was consistent, illustrative of the point they were attempting to make, and comprehensive.

My NRA membership has recently expired. I have no intention of renewing it. I realize that many readers will suggest that "They may be flawed, but they are the only organization which lobbies for your Second Amendment Rights".

If this is the best that Free America has to offer, I would just as soon save my $20/year (or whatever) and produce my own videos.

So if you will all please send me twenty dollars, I will replace the NRA. I may not be able to make such 'glossy' videos, but they will be at least better produced with the meager funds available.

Isn't that better than the CRAP that the NRA produces?

Rockets In Your Pockets

What the heck.

It's Saturday night, I have had a cold for two days now, and I'm getting cabin fever.

I feel like presenting a video of Alan Sherman's "Camp Grenada" (the official music of the Pacific NorthWet) but I can't find one.

Instead, I am reduced to watching "Whose Line Is It Anyway" videos on YouTube.

That was fun.

When I say I can't find a video of "Camp Grenada" by Alan Sherman, I mean that several videos can be found on YouTube, but almost all of them are without the audio track. A note on their webpages reads:
"This video contains an audio track that has not been authorized by WMG. The audio has been disabled."

That's not fun.

I've had that happen to me a lot lately as YouTube is increasingly patrolled by the Music Police. They either disallow access to the video, or delete the audio portion. Too bad, many of the videos are much more interesting with the music soundtracks.

FYI, here is the BEST version of a "Camp Grenada" video I could find ... and I only select it because it includes the written lyrics.

And the sound is terrible. I apologize for the the annoying "truck horn" at the beginning.

Here's a video where the song is used as the basis for a 'RuneScape' style video.

Racism as Defined by Obama, Et Al

"The Highest Social Concern"

Newly elected President B.H. Obama's new Economic Adviser, Robert Reich, has made a clear statement that a major part of O's new Economic Stimulus Plan be should used to get "Long-term Unemployed, Minorities, Women, People who are not necessarily Construction Workers or High Skilled Professionals" hired to repair and construct "Infrastructure" projects.

Reich goes on to clarify that he has "nothing against white-male construction workers. I'm just saying that there are other people who have other needs as well".
... "Criteria can be set so that the money goes to others" who are (women, non-white males, etc. etc. etc.)

(Rangel wants to "... find some way to establish formulas to expedites there where Governors are going to be forced to find some kind of formula to find out how to get the money where the hemorrhages are."

In other words, this is defined as NOT a way to improve the infrastructure ... bridges, roads etc. .. but to redistribute money from productive workers to wanna-be workers who have not the experience to know whether their work will result in another bridge collapse.

In the view of Reich and Rangel, the 21st Century America will rebuild and replace America's Roads and Bridges (etc) not only using the "Lowest Bid" contractors, but also using relatively unskilled labor.

Why is this a valid assertion?

Because Reich (and Charley Rangel) want to to base hiring on Race and Gender, and Economic Need, rather than on demonstrated competency.

While it has yet to be proven that the best use of Economic Stimulus funds will be to address "Shovel Ready" Infrastructure, R&R (Reich and Rangel) seem determined to play both the Race Card and the Victim Card when addressing the vital role of Infrastructure Rehabilitation.

Would I feel comfortable driving across a bridge built by R&R's New Deal Workers?

No, I would not.

Would you?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Geek Sick?

There are those among my readers (most of them) who would aver that the title of this article should be "Sick Geek!".

However, it is not my purpose to reward their intemperate canards.

Rather, I regret to report that I seem to have caught the Common Cold.

It has been slowly impinging upon my Co-Workers for a week. Andy had the cold last week, and continued to come to word "regardless". He makes his presence known by the occassional Ka-WHOOP!.

Deb missed Monday, and came in to work on Tuesday where she was immediately dubbed "Coughing Woman". She lasted for about six hours, finally yielding the the gentle advice (Geek in origin) to "Go home!". She hasn't been back yet, yielding three sick days and one sick-but-shoulda-stayed-home day.

This afternoon Mark started clearing his throat -- loudly -- of congestion every few minutes. I realized that every time he HrrrUMPPed!, I HrrrUMPPED immediately afterword. This continued until, about 4pm, I realized that my HrrUMPP was changing to a robust Ka-WHOOP!

And then my nose started to run.

I finally left the office about 15 minutes early, unable to further ignore the undeniable evidence that I was Catching A Cold.

There are more than the usual number of down-sides to this, quite apart from my own discomfort and loss of work-time:
  • I can't be around SWMBO when I have a cold. Her immune system has been entirely suppressed by the chemotherapy, and she isn't really strong enough to deal with a cold.
  • The redoubtable Hobo Brasser had planned to come down to visit us this weekend. His Lady Wife, the estimable Mrs Hobo Brasser (aka, in her own right, "Spicey") had planned to furnish dinner ... her made-from-scratch Macaroni and Cheese is reputed to be The Stuff that Childhoods Are Made Of. I am gonna miss this, but they did want to have dinner and visit with both of us, and I am temporarily rendered Hors d'Combat.
  • A co-worker has recently purchased a new pistol. I had tentatively planned to take him to the range this weekend to both provide him with an opportunity to shoot it, but also to make sure he has the gun-handling instructions which will help him to use it safely.
(Break: Now I'm sneezing, and my nose is running worse than it was when I started writing this. Ha-CHEW!)

I really don't appreciate it when people bring their Winter Colds to work. It's like "Take Your Daughter To Work Day", only with fewer annoying squeaky voices and more disappointment.

Here's a personal hint, from me to you:

If you have a cold, please stay home and enjoy it. You may feel you are an important contributor to your office (jobsite, whatever) efficiency. In reality, you may be willing to "play through the pain", but the rest of your co-workers are probably going to end up spending some work-days at home. They will not thank you.

Hmmmmm - I'm not sure I got the message through to everybody. Let's try it again:

If you have a cold --


Thank you for your kind attention.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Presidential Agenda: Sportsmen

President Obama's official agenda does not specifically address support for the Second Amendment. However, he nicely covers this under the category of "Sportsmen".


President Obama did not grow up hunting and fishing, but he recognizes the great conservation legacy of America's hunters and anglers and has great respect for the passion that hunters and anglers have for their sports. Were it not for America's hunters and anglers, including the great icons like Theodore Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold, our nation would not have the tradition of sound game management, a system of ethical, science-based game laws and an extensive public lands estate on which to pursue the sport. The President and Vice President recognize that we must forge a broad coalition if we are to address the great conservation challenges we face. America's hunters and anglers are a key constituency that must take an active role and have a powerful voice in this coalition.

That's nice.

The Presidential Agenda effectively equates the Second Amendment with the right to keep and bear fly-fishing rods.

I wonder what his position is on Deep Sea fishing equipment, which has no legitimate purpose except the wanton slaughter of innocent Marlins outside the 12-mile limit off the American coast.

Maxine for President!


Back in 1990, the Government seized the Mustang Ranch brothel in Nevada for tax evasion and, as required by law, tried to run it. They failed and it closed. Now we are trusting the economy of our country and our banking system to the same nit-wits who couldn't make money running a whore house and selling whiskey.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Welcome to "Old Pharts TeleVision"

Dundee Practical Shooters hosted a Club match this weekend, and for the first time in several months I not only attended, I participated.


Good weather (Winter in Oregon, but no rain and no wind), good stages, good people to shoot with. It don't get no better than this.

(click here to see the scores)

I looked very much like a guy who hasn't fired a round in practice or in competition for several months, and I didn't expect much more than a good time.

Going to a USPSA match when you're out of practice is like kissing an ugly girl; you don't expect much, and you're grateful for anything that exceeds your expectations, but mostly you just really, really want to get ... kissed.

I got kissed by the Ugly Ammo girl. I had a bunch of high primers. Out of the 150+/- rounds required in the match, I experienced misfires once on four of the six stages. I've been having problems with my Dillon XL650 for several months, which explains why I haven't shot many matches lately ... at least in part. The high-primer cartridges weren't obvious. I had gauged and inspected all of my ammunition and didn't catch those four. (Sorting through my ammunition box, I found another 'suspicious' round and dumped it into my range bag. I'll check that out 'later'.)

The match was better than my shooting. Evil Bill set up a six-pack of challenging stages which met the minimum requirements for 'rainy season' matches. There was a lot of steel, and in case of rain the targets could easily be replaced right out of stock without time-consuming painting. I talked to Evil Bill about this:

"I've changed my stage designs. If I want to restrict the shooter's access to the target area, I don't often paint it black. I just staple a no-shoot on top."

I saw a couple of black-painted targets during the match, but they were the exception, not the rule. This makes it much easier to replace targets during the match, because there are no concerns that the 'hard-cover' matches the original target.

Evil Bill made the maximum use of steel targets for this match. He had a Texas Star, a plate-rack (you'll see this later), and many Pepper Poppers and US Poppers to provide challenging stages without the need to replace a lot of cardboard targets (both Classic and Metric targets were featured).

The most interesting stage in the match was on Stage 1, Bay 1: "Get Over It".

Brief description: This was a symetrical stage, based on a six-plate plate rack. Vision barriers prevented full view of the plates from either side. You could only see six plate-rack targets, plus a single 9" plate, and 3 full-vision Metric targets from each of the two sides of the stage. Vision barriers forced the competitor to move from one extreme lateral side of the bay to the other in order to see/engage all of the targets. Eight plates and six Metric targets comprised the challenge and for the average shooter 20 seconds with no more than 3 or 4 points 'down' constituted a good run.

Here's how it looked for three Ol Pharts who were all shooting Open Division with varying degrees of success:

One of the things I appreciated about this match, which featured three "lateral design" field courses, was that the round count for most stages exceeded 20 rounds. This challenged the shooters using high-cap (over 20 rounds) magazines to decide when, where and whether they would reload.

The Hobo Brasser twice announced, at the end of these stages, "I should have listened to The Geek". I had advised to use 20-round magazines rather than 25+ round magazines, because that strategy would force the Open shooter to reload during the long run from one side of the bay to the other. The COFs were so challenging that only one or two misses would throw your round-count past your magazine capacity.

I admit, I made the same mistake on three stages, where I ran out of ammunition before finishing the stages (taking a miss rather than do a standing reload).

The thing about Old Pharts is that we know all the ways to screw up a stage, but we are beyond learning from our previous experience or the advice of our peers.

(Incidentally, Fish beat the crap out of Geek and The Hobo Brasser, because he took the time to make sure that he got first-shot hits on the plates. There's a lesson here, but I'm not quite sure what it is.)

And although there were a plethora of Old Pharts shooting Open Guns, one young man named Dante (attending with his father) was also shooting Open in this squad. He did a fine job, even though he forgot his holster and had to shoot from the "low ready" position. [This may be the wave of the future, but I hope not.}

Near the end of the match I approached Dante's father, Adam, and told him:
"I wish you had told us that your son was shooting without a holster because he didn't bring it with him. I thought you were teaching him USPSA shooting before you introduced him to holster work. I have a holster, magazine carriers and belt in my car that I would have been glad to loan him, if I had only known".

Adam replied: "That's okay. It will teach him a lesson. I think he will never go to a match without making sure that he has all of his gear".

(I never mentioned that in the past 25+ years I had forgotten almost every piece of equipment when attending a match, including pistol, holster, magazines and ammunition.)

"So, you are big on giving lessons, are you?" I replied.


"I'm glad you aren't my father" I said.

But this was not intended as criticism of Adam's parenting techniques. Actually, I think he has done The Right Thing. If my father had introduced me to Competitive Shooting instead of to shooting in general, I may have avoided a lot of embarrassing matches.

Here's how Dante looked at one of the match stages: