Wednesday, January 31, 2007

is everyone in washington an idiot?

CNN reports that the Pentagon has suspended the sales of spare parts from our recently retired F-14 Tomcat fleet, citing concerns that those spare parts could fall into the hands of Iran.

Problem is, the re's only one foreign customer that has ever taken delivery of the F-14, namely the (then) Imperial Iranian Air Force.

That's right, folks...the only F-14 Tomcats in the world that aren't U.S. Navy property, or in an aviation museum somewhere in the United States, are owned by the Iranians.

Now, it says that the Pentagon considered a large portion of these parts "general aviation", meaning they're not F-14-specific, but you have to wonder about the wisdom of putting spare parts onto the world market that require little to no duct-taping to make them fit into an Iranian Tomcat.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

wtf, over?

This is what we are raising to be in charge of the country in thirty years or so.

To wit: a high school student strips naked, greases himself down, and proceeds to streak the cafeteria. His fellow students execute the only emergency drill they have been taught: huddle in a corner in abject terror and wait for the resource officer to come and solve the problem.

Officer Friendly instructs the student to cease and desist his nefarious prank. Student refuses to comply immediately, whereupon he is Tasered and hauled off on charges of "inducing panic", among others.

Now, I may just look back at the past through the rose-colored goggles of nostalgia, but none of us would have cowered in a corner at the sight of one of our fellow students streaking in the cafeteria. The prankster would have gotten laughter and food hurled at him in more or less even quantities.

Alas, this is the Brave New World, where anyone hurling food at the guy would have been hauled off along with him for assault and disorderly conduct. If anyone dared to laugh, it would probably result in a counseling session with the school shrink.

This is what the system is producing: soft little Eloi who quiver in uncontrollable fear at the first sign of danger, completely relying on the authorities to come and make things better.

Monday, January 29, 2007

go tell it to the palestinians, jimmy.

While Jimmy Carter asks for "Peace, not Apartheid" in the Holy Land, the Palestinians demonstrate once again that they are in favor of apartheid, one of their number blowing himself apart in a bakery in Eilat.

hee hee.

Last weekend's Saturday Night Live had a skit featuring a faux Hillary Clinton on her "yes" vote for the Iraq war:

“Knowing what we know now, that you could vote against the war and still be elected president, I would never have pretended to support it.”

learning social conventions.

Quinn has learned how to say "please" and "thank you", and he uses both expressions in a correct context with regularity. Now we need to work on "Give me liberty or give me death".

I am happy to report that our attempts at early indoctrination are successful: the boy loves books. He's been getting a bedtime story every night since the day he was born, and mommy and daddy have been pushing his nose into books pretty much since he could sit up, and it's starting to have an impact. He drags books out of his room frequently during the day, and then he'll either take them to the couch and look at them by himself, or he'll bring them to me and ask for me to pick him up and read to him.

Hey, of all forms of addiction, the one that involves literature is the least harmful, and also one of the least expensive. A hundred bucks won't get you much in the way of cocaine, but it'll get you a nice stack of used books at McKay's. Also, there are very few recreational drugs that can be used over and over again after purchase.

Friday, January 26, 2007

don't be food.

Via Tam, we get the story of a woman who refused to let her husband of almost 50 years become cougar chow.

Kudos to her, but part of me has to wonder why two "experienced hikers" were traipsing around in known mountain lion country without so much as a pocket knife. it's probably the same reason why people don't carry any means of self-protection in known hoodlum cities...the "it can't happen to me" syndrome. People convince themselves that they move in special portable crime-free bubbles, and carrying anything suitable for self-defense would interfere with the process of denial because it would be an acknowledgment of the threat.

I had a discussion with my ex once where she questioned my sanity for wanting to carry a gun for protection. "This is Knoxville," she said, rolling her eyes.

Of course, crime doesn't happen in Knoxville, or does it?

As I've told her back then, it's not the odds that bother me, it's what's at stake.

their own worst enemy.

Revisiting this blog entry, I get some solid chuckles out of the reports that the "Obama=Radical Islam" thing was concocted and distributed by Senator Clinton's staffers, who are apparently trying to get a head start on taking chunks out of a potentially troublesome rival.

If that is indeed the case, then I have to smile at the humor potential here. The same people who fall for the "OBAMA IZ TEH MUZLIM" urban legend that has been spreading on conservative gun boards would probably be mortified to learn that they were doing Hillary's work all along.

But what do I know? I'm just one of them Atheist Muslims. (Or was that "Muslim Atheists"?)

Oh boy! I am so looking forward to November 2008, when I get to make my mark next to the question "Do you want America to become a.) a police state, b.) a nanny state, or do you want to c.) throw your vote away?"

At least it looks like Ron Paul will be running. Even if he doesn't win the primary, and even if he chooses to not run as an Independent, I'll write him in. That way, I won't have to hold my nose when I hit the button on Robby the Vote-Stealing Robot. Not even turkeys are dumb enough to pick their own butchers in hopes of getting "the lesser of two evils". You still end up on a dinner table with ruffles on your feet if you do.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

strange new forms of poetry.

I found this one oddly moving, and not just because of the music (which is Arvo Pärt's "Spiegel im Spiegel").

Humanity. What a strange and interesting bunch we are.

Monday, January 22, 2007

some people are slow learners.

The ultra-conservative Serb nationalists were in charge of the country when Yugoslavia broke up, and they promptly started wars of aggression with those former Yugoslav republics who did not want to be called Yugoslavia anymore.

Then they engaged in ethnic cleansing and the worst incident of European genocide since the days of World War II, and the international community took note. NATO intervened and bombed the ever-loving stuffing out of Serbia. As a result of the prolonged civil war and the subsequent smackdown by NATO, the Serbian economy is still in shambles.

After the smoke had settled, Serbs elected themselves a new moderate government, and their old head of state died a well-deserved death while on trial for war crimes.

Well, Serbia recently had elections once more, and the majority of Serbs decided to give the old ultra0conservative nationalist party another try, because apparently they hadn't totally destroyed the country when they were at the helm, and maybe they deserve another chance?

Wave a flag and collect votes. It works the same in any country, really.

Civilization is a very thin veneer, folks. Nationalist and religious grudges run deep, and even a modern industrialized nation whose people sold pizzas and boat rides to German tourists for the last 40 years can and will revert to savagery if the right set of circumstances are met. All that's required is perceived social status and moral absolution from his fellow citizens, and your friendly neighborhood grocer will happily grab an AK-47 and start kicking out gold teeth.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

the sufferings of being quinn's dog.

When you're a dog in this household, you generally have a charmed existence: regular food, a yard that's accessible 24/7, lots of stuff to bark at, and prompt and regular veterinary care.

In exchange for such a posh life, you have to put up with the occasional hat being placed on your noggin by a 2-year-old.

why'd they have to name it that?

Via pdb, we learn that Magpul, a company known for its AR-15 stocks, has designed yet another new stock, and along with it a whole new rifle to which to attach said stock. It's called the "Masada".

Masada, of course, was the Judean fortress whose Jewish defenders committed mass suicide when besieged by a vastly superior Roman army. I'm not entirely sure it's a cool name for a fighting rifle, but at least it sounds catchy. Alas, if I were to buy one, and a band of home invaders decided to pay us a visit some time thereafter, the historically correct use for the product would be to shoot my family and then myself before the home invaders manage to break through the front door.

On a side note, Masada is often referenced as an example of fortitude due to the defenders choosing death over slavery or execution. It may just be the Nordic streak in me, but if I am faced with the certain knowledge that I will either die or be executed by my attackers, I'd grab a sword or three and make sure I skid into Valhalla with one attacker under each arm. There may be dying on my part, but I'd want to make damn sure I wasn't the only one punching a ticket that day, if you know what I mean.

On another side note, do you think the Roman attackers walked into Masada, saw all the dead defenders, and said, "Oh darn, we lost the moral victory?"

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

oh, my poor head.

This is why I am fed up with the "conservative" pro-gun crowd lately.

If you just read the post linked above and find that your are nodding your head in agreement, please return your brain for a refund and excuse yourself from the species that builds rocket ships and nuclear power plants. Better yet, give your brain to some poor CP patient or stroke victim, as they can make better use of it. Your spinal cord should be perfectly sufficient for the eating, grunting, and drooling you call a fulfilling existence.

I'm probably not going to vote for Senator Obama if he decides to run for President. This assessment is based on the man's political stance, his known positions on issues, and his voting record in the Senate. It is most assuredly not based on the man's ancestry, his skin color, his religion, the religion of his parents, or the location of his upbringing.

People who come up with such agitprop have very small skulls. Their brains are only big enough to contain one entry each for the categories "Us" and "Them". Right now, the enemy of the day for these folks is Islam in general, despite the fact that the radical Wahhabists make up roughly half of a percent of the religion as a whole. Muslims are the designated boogeyman of the day, and therefore everyone everyone who doesn't fit into the "Us" compartment will get squeezed into the "Them" compartment (currently labeled "Muslims", but with a backward 's' at the end), logic and reason be damned.

Case in point: this adorably pathetic attempt to claim that atheists are, in fact, a kind of Muslim.

Trying to correct such idiocy is an exercise in futility. The people who think in such ways are deeply convinced that they have The Truth, and nothing you say will sway them. Having only one enemy to think about is both easy on the noggin and emotionally satisfying, especially when that enemy can be readily identified by one easily spotted characteristic.

This has precisely jack all to do with "political correctness" (the conservative equivalent of the liberal's claim of 'racism' in a discussion). It has to do with the fact that any method of assessing an individual not by their personal actions and intentions, but by a trait shared with other people, is deeply flawed and only suitable for lynch mobs to whip each other into a killing froth.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

the bad, the good, and the pretty?

I like the 1911, I really do. It fits the hand well, it has a lot of history, and it throws a heavy bullet of ample diameter. The 1911 is very easy to carry for a gun of its size, and it's pretty much the small block Chevy of the gun world as far as customization and parts availability goes. Every gunsmith in this country knows how to work on a 1911, every gun store has leather and spare bits in stock, and every gun skul teacher worth his khaki 5.11 pants carries one (in a leather IWB rig, of course.)

My affinity for the platform has not, however, risen to Kool-Aid levels, which is why I have an issue with Michael Tan's latest writeup of the Ed Brown "Special Forces" 1911, to be found in February's S.W.A.T. magazine. He gives a thorough account of his experience with his new toy, and proceeds to laud it as an "excellent weapon" despite experiencing a failure rate of one in fifty rounds. He then lists the strong points of the gun, which are a.) a nice trigger, b.) great fit and finish, and c.) the snag-free sights.


A well-fitted gun is a nice thing to look upon. A nice trigger is good to have, and snag-free sights are great on a carry gun. However...

I don't care if a gun was manufactured to subatomic tolerances by naked German virgins and quenched in a dragon's blood, with a trigger that operates on thought alone, and with fiberoptic nuclear night sights that are smooth as soap and never need recharging--if the damn thing cannot run through a case of ammo without a failure (much less a box), then it's utterly unsuitable as a defensive weapon. That kind of gun, pretty as it may be, would be a safe queen or a gunsmithing project, but I'd never tote it out on the street with any degree of confidence.

Reliability is the number one requirement for a carry gun. Capacity, sights, fit, finish, trigger...all of those are important in various degrees of importance, with all of them ideally contributing to something that totals up to more than the sum of its parts, but reliability is the factor that trumps them all when it comes to a self-defense piece. The gun has to go bang without fail when the trigger is pulled--everything else is gravy.

Now, I'm not saying that the 1911 in general is an unreliable platform. I've owned plenty of them, and some were stone-axe reliable. A basic, un-messed-with 1911 fed with ball ammo from seven-round magazines is an exceedingly reliable gun. Many custom 1911s are equally reliable, and even some of the much-maligned "chop jobs" (sub-Commander length 1911s) run like tops. My old Colt Defender ate anything you cared to stuff into it without fail.

What I am saying is that unreliable 1911s are more common than the Kool-Aid drinkers want to admit, and some of them carry $1,500+ price tags. If you have what is supposed to be a fighting pistol that doesn't run through a box of ball ammo without choking, you don't wax on about its prettiness and its super trigger. You either hand it to your gunsmith to fix, or you get rid of the damn thing and buy one that runs right. Of course, there's always the magazine blame game if you want a psychological mechanism to facilitate denial ("oh, this gun really runs like a top with Wilson 47Ds with polished mag tubes and springs that are less than six months old"), but at some point, you gotta drop the Kool-Aid pitcher and admit to yourself that you just dropped two grand on a pistol that's only good for showing off at the range.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

intarwebz funny.

"Family Man" (to the tune of the "Spider-Man" TV theme song):

Family Man, Family Man, Drives around in a minivan, Has two kids and a wife, Pays the bills, has no life. Look out, here comes Family Man!

I found this in some corner of the series of tubes that make up the Internets, so I can't claim credit for it.

I'm posting fluff today so my blood pressure will stay low. I could go on about the half trillion dollars we've chucked down that sandhole in the Middle East just so the Iraqi Shiites can grudge-fuck the Sunni (which had been fucking them for the thirty years prior to our invasion), but I won't.

Instead, here's a picture of a little boy doing a practice run on his new portable potty. This exercise was thankfully not a live-fire one.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

a chicken in every pot, once more.

The new assembly of dunces in the House of Representatives wasted no time establishing that they're every bit as clueless about economics than their predecessors. By legislative fiat, they want to magically make more money appear in the pockets of minimum wage workers.

Boy, that'll show the greedy plutocrats! They'll be forced by law to pay their workers more, and Mr. and Mrs. Congresscritter can claim feathers in their hats for "doing something for the working folk". Because Mr. Businessowner is just going to cough up more money, and all will be well, right?

Well, in reality, Mr. Businessman may do no such thing in the long run. While the bill is squarely targeted at mega-retailers (that means "Wal-Mart"), it will impact small businesses in a disproportionate fashion. You see, the majority of business enterprises in this country are relatively small operations. When they're faced with a 40% increase in labor costs, they will do one or all of three things: lay off workers, stop hiring new workers, and increase the price of their product or service to compensate for the added expense. In either case, the supposed beneficiaries of an increased minimum wage end up with the short end of the stick.

If the greengrocer around the corner has three employees, and he needs to lay one off to pay for the 40% salary increase in the other two paychecks, it's a bad thing for his three workers. One will look at a pink slip, and the other two will have to work 40% more to make up for the loss in manpower. In addition, the greengrocer may crank up the price for apples and turnips by a quarter or two a pound to defray the rest of the labor cost increase, which means that everyone who shops there will have to pay a little extra to finance the generous wage increase bestowed on the staff by the benevolent Friends of the Working Class in Congress.

Now, you want to make the greengrocer lay off even more folks, and possibly go out of business or move his shop (and jobs) to a different state? Make him (and all the other evil plutocrats) pay for universal health care for the uninsured.

Once more: you can't legislate yourself free money, and it doesn't matter where you want that free money to appear. It has to come out of someone's wallet, and most often it comes out of the wallets of the same people you're trying to bribe....err, help.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

the new geek toy holy grail.

The new iPhone looks pretty cool, but $500 and $600, respectively? Damn. That money will buy a complete Mac mini desktop system.

Then again, you get a combination high end camera phone, PDA, iPod, and video player all in one device. For those who don't like to lug around six different devices for six different tasks, this will be just the ticket. For guys with limited toy funds (such as myself), the old candy bar style Nokia will have to keep pulling duty alongside the Palm m500 and the iPod nano.

Hey, maybe I can stick 'em all together into one unit with some double-sided tape.

Friday, January 5, 2007

newsflash:royal navy just turned into royal coast guard.

Once upon a time, the Royal Navy ruled the seven seas. From the days of Elizabeth I, when they beat up the Spanish Armada, to the outbreak of World War II, the Royal Navy was the most powerful and experienced naval force on the planet.

Times have changed.

Since World War II, the United States Navy has claimed the title of varsity team. (In fact, the U.S. Navy is bigger than the world's 17 next largest navies combined.) There have really only been two true blue-water navies in the world since WWII, and one of them just mothballed half its fleet.

"What this means is that we are now no better than a coastal defence force or a fleet of dug-out canoes. The Dutch now have a better navy than us."

Let's hope world events don't force our British brethren to regret saving on the wrong end in the future. As Germany found out the hard way in World Wars I and II, a nation's force projection power hinges on the size and capabilities of its navy. It gives your diplomatic efforts a great deal of credibility when you can park a bird farm off a nation's coast on short notice, especially when that flattop carries more air power than most countries have in their air forces.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

a treatise on the shoulder holster.

Ask any gun skul instructor or seasoned competition shooter, and they'll tell you that the only way to carry a fighting handgun is in a strong-side belt holster, with spare ammo placed on the other side of the belt in open-topped carriers. There is still lively debate between proponents of the inside-the-waistband school and the pancake-and-paddle-holster crowd, but in general, most "serious" gun toters agree that strong side carry is the be-all and end-all of toting a gun.

Ask any of those folks about the utility of the shoulder holster, and you'll get reactions ranging anywhere from snickering to pitying glances to "Miami Vice" references. The shoulder rig is seen as an "unprofessional" mode of carry, one that is usually chosen by uninitiated new gun owners who are influenced by television cop shows and action movies. They'll tell you that the shoulder rig is slow to draw from, that it violates muzzle safety, that you always need a cover garment with one, and that you're far better off just sticking the pistol onto your belt where it belongs.

In truth, the shoulder holster has advantages and disadvantages, just like any other mode of carry, and the suitability of this particular mode is largely determined by the personal circumstances of the user. Holsters are as personal as handguns--there is no "best", only a "best for you".

On the plus side of the ledger, the shoulder rig offers several compelling advantages.

  • It offers fast access to the gun while seated. Getting to a strong-side holster is a difficult task when you're strapped into a car seat, but it's a piece of cake to get to a shoulder rig. For that reason, pilots and bodyguard types make up a large chunk of the shoulder holster-wearing population.
  • It lets you get your hand on your weapon in an inconspicuous manner. When you see trouble coming, it's easy to just cross your arms in front and get a firing grip on your weapon without alarming anyone or giving yourself away. The fastest draw is the one where you have your gun in hand already when the trouble starts, right?
  • It takes the weight of gun and spare ammo off your belt (and your lower back) and distributes it evenly across your shoulders. In fact, it negates the need for a belt entirely. Some people with back problems prefer the shoulder rig for this reason, and quite a few female gun toters (police and otherwise) like the shoulder rig because they don't need to wear pants or skirts with the belt loops required to accommodate a sturdy gun belt.
  • It combines gun and spare ammo in one convenient "grab and go" package. It takes a lot longer to thread a holster and ammo carrier onto your belt than to grab the shoulder rig hanging over your chair as you head out, and you're not likely to forget any equipment if everything is combined in the shoulder rig. You can carry extra magazines to balance out the gun, or you can carry any combination of magazines, flashlight, or cuffs (if you're in a line of work that requires their use.)
Of course, only Kool-Aid drinkers extol the virtues of a system without acknowledging the drawbacks, and the shoulder holster does chalk up a few entries on the minus side of the ledger.

  • It requires you to wear a cover garment at all times. (Then again, so does the belt holster, and a well-fitting shoulder holster can be worn under a button-down shirt if necessary.)
  • It offers a slower draw than a belt holster. (That's indisputable, although the issue is somewhat mitigated by the ability to access and grip your gun in a covert manner. Like a salty old gunslinger once said, if you need to draw quickly, you're not paying attention to your surroundings. Also, it's actually faster to draw from a shoulder rig than from a belt holster when you're wearing heavy winter clothing, like a zipped-up jacket.)
  • It makes the muzzle point at things behind you, which some people see as a safety no-no. (A belt or IWB holster makes you point the muzzle at yourself, and you had best not sit down or walk through the upper floors of a multi-storied building if you think you can always prevent your gun muzzle from pointing at anyone.)
  • It makes you vulnerable to Sonny Crockett jokes. (That point I'll have to concede.)
All things considered, the shoulder holster is not the "best" carry method, but it offers a unique set of advantages to the user, and it has its utility.

I just got a belated Christmas present, having turned some holiday cash into a Galco Jackass rig for my Beretta. Back when I toted a Glock 19 and a SIG P229, I used a Galco Miami Classic, which I liked a lot, but the Jackass is superior in a few important respects. It has wider straps, and they're suede instead of smooth leather, which makes it more comfortable to wear. It's less bulky, with a more streamlined design, and it prints less as a result. It can be adjusted to a more vertical angle than the Miami Classic, which lets you fit it to your body type more easily, and it's cheaper to the tune of about $40. The only drawback to it is that it's only available in Havana brown, while the Miami Classic can be had in tan or black.

For a minivan-driving stay-at-home dad, the Galco rig is a practical way to carry around a full-sized pistol and two spare magazines. It eliminates printing to the rear when bending over, which you do a lot when out with a toddler, and it doesn't rub through the fabric of the car seat after a while like the butt of a gun in a belt holster (and the floorplate corners of the spare magazine/s.) You can take it off like a jacket and put it on a high shelf when you get home without having to undo your belt and unthreading a belt rig.

I won't be winning speed-draw contests or quickly clearing IPSC stages with this setup, but it fits my lifestyle. That doesn't mean I'll get rid of my belt holsters, but I do get excitable as to choice.

Monday, January 1, 2007

what, 2007 already?

This weekend's most unsettling glimpse into the future, from CNN's report on the Times Square New Year's Party:

Police were still compiling reports early Monday from the celebration, which had gone on amid tight security. Spectators passed through police checkpoints; no big bags or backpacks were permitted and bomb-sniffing dogs roamed the crowd.

Public drinking was banned, and visitors were herded into a series of viewing pens that prevented them from bar-hopping.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said last week that revelers would be "safer in Times Square on New Year's Eve than anyplace else," but he insisted that tight security would not spoil the show.

Police checkpoints, Fourth Amendment cancellation canines, being herded into pens, and benevolent Big Brother smiling down upon the disarmed masses to assure them that they are the safest creatures in the world now.


I had a fun day yesterday. A friend of mine threw a cozy little New Year's party at his place in the NC mountains, and I went down there after breakfast to hang out for the day.

Rich's place is awesome...there are various pepper poppers and other steel targets set up in the backyard, right outside the back porch, and we ran a bunch of ammo through our guns. I must have fired about a case of 9mm through my Beretta. Reactive steel targets at an outdoor range are so much more fun than paper targets at an indoor range...there's something very satisfying about the instant audible and visual feedback you get when your bullets are knocking down those tall steel lollipops.

Regrettably, I couldn't stay for the night, since Robin has to work today, and Quinn doesn't sleep well in strange places. However, the day was well worth the trip...good friends, good food, and good shooting.

Today begins that annual three-week period where I still write the previous year's number on checks and dated stuff.