Saturday, May 30, 2009

Killer Solar Storm Predicted for 2013

Weather Scientists at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration early this month predicted that in May of 2113 the most severe Solar Storm since 1858 will blast the earth with solar radiation.

The problem isn't sunburns or melanoma, it's the drastic effect on communication and electronics.

Solar storms are eruptions of energy and matter that escape from the sun and may head toward Earth, where even a weak storm can damage satellites and power grids, disrupting communications, the electric power supply and GPS. A single strong blast of “solar wind” can threaten national security, transportation, financial services and other essential functions.


"As with hurricanes, whether a cycle is active or weak refers to the number of storms, but everyone needs to remember it only takes one powerful storm to cause huge problems," said NOAA scientist Doug Biesecker, who chairs the panel. "The strongest solar storm on record occurred in 1859 during another below-average cycle."

The 1859 storm shorted out telegraph wires, causing fires in North America and Europe, sent readings of Earth’s magnetic field soaring, and produced northern lights so bright that people read newspapers by their light.

A recent report by the National Academy of Sciences found that if a storm that severe occurred today, it could cause $1-2 trillion in damages the first year and require four to 10 years for recovery, compared to $80-125 billion that resulted from Hurricane Katrina.
One to Two Trillion Dollars, eh?

The question you have to ask yourself is "In what way will this be more disastrous than Obama's Economic Stimulus Package?"

Good question.

According to a May 28, 2009 Fox News report, the U.S. is not prepared for such a storm.

Scientists at the 2009 Space Weather Enterprise Forum spoke of ...

... the legendary "Carrington Event," a series of magnetic storms from the sun that hit the Earth in August and September of 1859, disrupting telegraph lines across the U.S. and triggering auroras so bright they turned the night skies into day as far south as the Caribbean. The storm went on for days.
In 1859, that was inconvenient for the few people who regularly expected to send or receive telegrams, but other than that it was probably was only -- "interesting".

Even in 1959, almost every home in the United States had electricity, and there were few electronic system to demonstrate their vulnerability to "power surges".

There are lessons to be learned from these past events, the researchers emphasized, and the danger posed by solar storms is increasing.

This growing threat comes not from changes in the Sun, but from the increasing dependence of human societies on technology and electricity.

A storm on the scale of the Carrington Event could damage the U.S. electrical grid to such an extent that vast regions of the country could be without power for weeks, perhaps months.

Without electricity, drinkable water would soon be in short supply, as would fuel, food, communications and just about everything else society depends on to function.

An extreme solar storm hitting our modern, high-tech world would severely disrupt oil and gas supplies, emergency and government services, the banking and finance industry, and transportation. The cost of the damage could reach into the trillions of dollars, he said.short supply, as would fuel, food, communications and just about everything else society depends on to function.

"The consequences would be almost incalculable," said Daniel Baker, director of the University of Colorado's laboratory for atmospheric and space physics

New electrical systems are designed to be efficient, which is different from being robust and hardened against the effects of a solar storm.

"There is an efficiency-vulnerability tradeoff," said George Mason University social scientist Todd LaPorte, who studies critical infrastructures. "Sometimes efficiency isn't your friend."

Sounds almost like the effects of the ElectroMagnetic Pulse (EMP) generated by a nuclear device detonating in the atmosphere. Remember that television movie (The Day After) in the early 1980's, where Jason Robard showed us what it was like to be caught on the very fringes of a nuclear attack? Everybody's car died, and most of the people in them.

I don't think we have to worry about a "Nuclear Winter", or people's hair falling out from radiation poisoning, but folks who telecommute to work may have a new definition of the "Network" concept.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Oklahoma Pharmacist vs Antwun Parker

On May 19, 2009, Antwun Parker (16) and another teenage friend entered a drug store in Oklahoma with the intent to rob it. In the ensuing events, pharmacist Jerome Ersland drew a pistol from his pocket and shot Parker in the head. The other robber fled, followed by Ersland, who returned to the store after he was unable to catch the second robber.

Sometime during that few minutes, Ersland shot Parker another five times in the abdomen, killing him.

An autopsy revealed that Parker was still alive, despite being shot in the head, when Ersland shot him in the abdomen. Those shots were the cause of death.

After reviewing the videotape of the robbery from surveillance videos mounted inside and outside the store, and visiting the crime scene, the Oklahoma County District Attorney arrested Ersland on charges of First Degree Murder. He contends that Ersland was justified in shooting Parker the first time, but that the subsequent shots were essentually gratuitous, and tantamont to murder.

When I read the story on the NEWSOK website, I thought this was a fascinating story, one which explores how far the right to self-defense is limited by circumstances.

After all, First Degree Murder includes the element of premeditation. When did the robbery 'end'? Was the defendant still defending himself, and his co-workers, when he returned to his shop to find the shot robber still on the floor, but alive? Did Ersland "plan" to kill Parker? Ersland contends that Parker was "trying to get up". Does that justify shooting him again?

Apparently, between the time he returned to the store and the time he shot Parker five times in the abdomen, he retrieved a second gun from a locked drawer, after walking past the recumbant Parker, and it was this second gun with which he delivered the fatal five shots.

Before I began writing this article, I visited some of my favorite blog authors only to find that Xavier Thoughts presented the situation so well that I cannot presume to upstage him. (Xavier lives in Louisiana ... he gets to his keyboard hours earlier than I do.)

I recommend that you read his article "Robbery Victim Charged With Murder", and watch the videos ... which I had not even been able to search out before I read his rendition.

After you read the whole thing, you'll understand why one of the man-on-the-street interviewees on the second video, when asked "if you were on the jury, how would you find for this case" (or words to that effect), replied "I'd Abstain!"

It's a curious case, reminiscent of the Texas home-owner (Mr. Horn who last year shotgunned to death two men as they exited their neighbors house laden with booty gleaned from a daring day-time burglary.

"Mr. Horn, do not go outside the house. You're going to get yourself shot if you go outside that house with a gun," the dispatcher told Horn at one point."You wanna make a bet," Horn responded. "I'm gonna kill them. They're gonna get away."
Mr. Horn was acquitted by a Texas Jury, who obviously believed that robbers ... even unarmed burglars ... deserve anything that happens as a consequence of their deliberate Felonious action.

Will an Oklahoma jury feel the same way about a commercial robbery in which one of the robbers (though perhaps not the one who was killed) was armed and pointing a gun at the victim?

And why did the armed victim shoot the robber who was NOT pointing a gun at him?

As the Chesire Cat confirmed to Alice:
"We're All Mad, Here."

Jeff's USPSA 2009 Nationals Blog

Jeff B., a local USPSA competitor, has just started a new blog today and I've included him in my sidebar. Look for the link under "Hot Link(s) Of The Week" for now, I'll move him to a permanent spot later.

Jeff started the blog to chronicle his adventures (and perhaps mis-adventures) at the USPSA Nationals this September, and he has started it early enough to include all the preparations that a "a lowly B-class shooter" makes prior to going to the biggest USPSA match of the year.

I suggest you stop by his blog, perhaps bookmark it for frequent visits. (I did.)

Today, you'll learn how "a lowly B-class shooter" got Hornaday to sponsor him for the Nationals!

ps: if nothing else, you appreciate the Neon banner he has at the top of his blogpage. I'm experience Pix Envy!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Microstamping in Wisconsin: Another Cheezy State Weighs In

The Cheeze-Whiz Wheel has roped in another state.

Wisconsin has introduce bills requiring that (Semi-automatic Handguns) sold within the state of will "microstamp" identifying information on every cartridge case.

This isn't a one-house shay ... Assembly Bill 211 (introduced April 17, 2009) and Senate Bill 174 (introduced April 23, 2009) appear to be identical, in the summaries presented (see links).

Most of the provisions of these bills seem familiar:
This bill prohibits a gun manufacturer or a firearms dealer from transferring a semiautomatic handgun that does not produce an identifying code (microstamp) on each cartridge case it expends if both of the following apply: 1) the handgun was manufactured on or after January 1, 2011; and 2) the handgun has not previously been transferred to a person that is not a manufacturer or dealer (new handgun).
This bill also prohibits a manufacturer in this state from manufacturing, on or after January 1, 2011, a semiautomatic handgun that does not produce a microstamp. A person that violates one of these prohibitions is subject to a fine of up to $1,000 or imprisonment for up to nine months, or both.
An interesting sidelight:
This bill prohibits a person from modifying a semiautomatic handgun that produces microstamps if the person intends to prevent law enforcement from being able to access the microstamp on an expended cartridge. A person who violates this prohibition is guilty of a misdemeanor and is subject to a fine of up to $1,000 or imprisonment for not more than 90 days, or both. A person who transfers a semiautomatic handgun that he or she knows has been modified in violation of this prohibition is subject to a fine of up to $1,000 or imprisonment for not more than nine months, or both.
So, if you sell a non-microstamped handgun you can get 9 months in the pokey, but if you deliberately deface the stamping portion of a handgun you only get 3 months in the pokey. Who are they going after, the retailers or the criminals?

Obviously, this is an attack on the Firearms Industry. There are no serious provisions to "reduce crime".

Of course, there are the usual impositions on dealers, including:
The bill also requires manufacturers and dealers who transfer a handgun that is required to produce microstamps to certify that the handgun, if it is a new handgun, produces microstamps and that the manufacturer of the handgun will disclose to a law enforcement agency that has collected a microstamp from an expended cartridge during a criminal investigation the make, model, and serial number of the handgun that expended the cartridge.
SOoooooo ... if you're a dealer, you not only have to personally verify that each semi-auto pistol is manufactured so as to microstamp ammunition, you have to provide an "expended cartridge" ... and (as far as the bill summary suggests) KEEP the expended cartidge in the event that some LEO representative or other governmental agency decides they want to examine it.

This bill receives the enthusiastic support of the Crime Laboratory of the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

The complete text of AB221 is available in PDF form here ... and there's not much more information than in the earlier links.

Similarly, the Senate Bill SB174 is available in PDF form here (you have to go to the bottom of the StateSurge webpage and click on the SB174 link under "Bill Text").

The Senate Bill, on pages 4 and 5 of the PDF, includes a bit more detail than does the Assembly Bill. For example:
Any person who modifies a semiautomatic handgun, or portion of a semiautomatic handgun, that produces microstamps with the intention of preventing law enforcement from being able to access the microstamp that identifies that semiautomatic handgun is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor.
I don't know if "a Class B misdemeanor" is more perilous than "...a misdemeanor and is subject to a fine of up to $1,000 or imprisonment for not more than 90 days, or both." But it does seem to standardize the penalty clause.

Most interesting, a review of both bills fails to detect any funding for this program. That is to say, the Great State of Wisconsin has managed to put the entire financial burden of complying with these bills squarely on the shoulders of Private Enterprise. The state does NOT fund any kind of program to enforce these draconian laws; they apparently don't expect to have any problems including the enforcement and prosecution to increase the expenses of either Law Enforcement or the Judiciary.

What, they expect everyone to comply voluntarily?

If you're a resident of Wisconsin, here are the folks you have to thank for these bills:

April 17, 2009 − Introduced by Representatives YOUNG, BERCEAU, TURNER, RICHARDS, GRIGSBY, A. WILLIAMS, COLON, KESSLER, SINICKI and PASCH, cosponsored by Senators COGGS and TAYLOR. Referred to Committee on Criminal Justice.
April 23, 2009 − Introduced by Senators COGGS and TAYLOR, cosponsored by Representatives YOUNG, A. WILLIAMS, TURNER, BERCEAU, GRIGSBY, COLON, RICHARDS, KESSLER, SINICKI and PASCH. Referred to Committee on Judiciary, Corrections, Insurance, Campaign Finance Reform, and Housing.
Go get 'em.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My 2-year old can kick your honor student's butt at 8-Ball!

Two year old is a Pool Wizard, called "The Little Sniper".

Awsome pool-sharkery.

The kid only needs longer legs to get into The Color of Money.

We've seen the same phenomenon (almost) in Practical Pistol competition. Get a child interested in competitive shooting young enough, and if he has any talent and determination at all he ends up a World Class competitor.

Witness ... Travis Tomasie.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Dundee Match: May, 2009

It was a sunny day, it was a fun day.

No wind, no rain, no dark of night.

There are no better precursor to a Good Day At The Range.

The company was convivial, and I thoroughly enjoyed my match even though I didn't shoot well at all.
We had some very challenging stages, which taught us (as they should) to strive for accuracy rather than for speed.

One example was Stage 2:"The Door Into Summer" ... which is reminiscent of a Robert Heinlein story.

Another example was Stage 6: "Croc Run", which supposedly intruded us to the kindof stage we could expect to see at the 2009 Croc Match.

All in all, Coach Paul and Evil Bill (who designed and built the Evil Oregon Star) gave us an exciting and challenging introduction to the 2009 Croc Match ... only without such a high Round Count.

I love this game. I'm not very good at it, but I can't imagaine a better way to show my appreciation for a sunny day,.

Psssst! Wanna buy some hot primers, cheap?

I had barely stepped out of the Damed Old Ford at the Dundee match last weekend before Coach Paul stepped up, shook my hand, and started asking me about ... the availability of reloading components.

He is concerned about the 2009 Croc Match, currently scheduled for September.

He said he usually gets 20 or 30 emails asking about the match by this time, but this year he has received exactly one query. (Four guys in Virginia want to travel cross-country to take in the annual Banzaii Ballistic "You Got Bullets?" match.)

Trouble is, it's now hard to find bullets. Also powder. Especially, there are zero primers available to reloaders in most markets.

The Shooting Wire's Jim Shepherd, in his May 20 (2009) wrote:

At NRA, everyone talked about two things: [one was] the ongoing "bubble" in firearms sales, and the continuing backlog for product and ammunition. Yesterday, word that some ammo was coming back into the marketplace. A couple of retailers are advertising .223 and .22 caliber ammo availability. Pricing ranges from around twenty bucks for a "brick" of .22 caliber "plinking" ammo to around $400 for 800 rounds of .223.

Powder, primers, bullets and cases, however are a different matter for handloaders. Manufacturers and reloading equipment companies tell me there's still quite a delay on components.
[emphasis added]
Michael Bane had an even grimmer perspective on his blog last week:
The short story?

The end is not on sight.

"If everybody in America stopped shooting tomorrow afternoon, it would take us 3 months to clear the backlog, best case."

That quote is from a friend in the ammo industry who knows his stuff. Consensus I heard was the huge shortages continue until AT LEAST through the year and maybe through Q1 2010. And - again the consensus view - when "normal" returns, it's going to be the "new normal," not the normal we remember. We've proven what we're willing to pay for ammo and components, so don't expect a return to $89/1000 5.56.

Civilian demand, military and police contracts, and issues/prices of components was sited as the culprits.

Re: advice was buy what you can find at a sane price...reloading components may well be the last to recover as the industry sucks up all the available components for loaded ammo. Some of the back orders for primers at the big Internet sellers are being filled at roughly 4-5 months lag time.
And a co-worker approached me last week asking where he could buy .22 ammunition.

I told him that I had no idea where he could find any ammunition at all. I told him about my exercise in futility early this month when I stopped in the local Bi-Mart asking for Large Pistol and/or Small Rifle primers, by any manufacturer. The cheerful blue-vested clerk laughed, and said "what you see on the shelf is it! I have three boxes of primers, and they're all for shotguns." (I would be willing to bet that those three boxes are gone, by now.)

My co-worker asked me why the good folks who make ammunition components couldn't build more. My best response was to quote other bloggers who note that the manufacturers seem to have already gone into maximum productivity profile (one assumes 3 shifts a day, 7 days a week), and between the expense of building a new factory and the governmental hurdles required to get the necessary permits, there is a minimum of a full calendar year before manufacturing capacity is likely to increase.

Isn't it odd?

The Obama Administration is bailing out Bankers, the Mortgage Industry and Automobile makers, and it doesn't seem to help a bit.

On the other hand, here is a thriving industry which can't meet the demand on their (already proven) product, but nobody in The Obama Administration seems willing to step in and offer the "stimulus" incentives to allow this industry to grow.

It's especially curious since The Obama Administration -- and the fears that firearms and ammunition access will be curtailed by The Obama Administration.

I mean, they made this supply-and-demand crisis. They say they want to 'grow' the Economy, but they seem to have a blind spot against paving the path for economic growth for this one small portion of the economy.

It's as if they would prefer that new jobs NOT be created here.

One wonders why?

Getting back to the Dundee Match, during the Shooter Walk Thru, Coach Paul asked for a show of hands for "anyone who thinks they will have enough ammunition to shoot the Croc Match in September."

Surprisingly, at least half of the 48 competitors raised their hands.

I'm sure that was encouraging to Coach Paul and Evil Bill, the current Administrative Staff for The Croc Match. They're now rethinking their choice of (a) holding a match which is poorly attended because nobody has enough ammunition, or (b) taking a vacation this year, and promoting next year's Croc Match in the expectation that the current Reloading Components Crisis will be over by then.

Personally, I hope that the match will be held this September, and there is a record turn-out.

If you have definate plans to attend the September Croc match, please contact Coach Paul and reassure him of your participation by sending in your entry.