Friday, March 30, 2007

an inconvenient half-truth.

In the environmental community, people who dispute the current Global Warming theories are generally looked upon as heretics. Global Warming has become the darling cause of the left, because it makes it possible to wrap anti-industrial and anti-capitalist sentiment in the mantle of social respectability.

Is there such a thing as global warming?

Yes, without a question. The planet is getting warmer, no doubt about it. That part of Global Warming Evangelism is true.


What Al Gore and his save-the-spotted-owls brigade aren't telling you is that the planet routinely gets warmer and colder, in roughly 500-year cycles, and it has done so since pretty much the dawn of recorded history.

Around the birth of Christ, the planet went through a warm spell, making it possible for the Romans to extend into the north of what is now the British Isles. Between 300 and 800 AD, the planet went through a cold period, which caused some of the Germanic tribes to migrate south in search of new pastures. In the early Middle Ages, another warm spell followed (the "Medieval Warm Period", also called the Medieval climate optimum), where wine was growing in Newfoundland, and the German Rhineland supported the cultivation of figs and olives.

Now, the medieval period is marked by a distinct lack of industrialization, and combustion engines were similarly scarce. What evil human interference caused the Medieval Global Warming?

(Must have been all the witches they burned. It is a known fact that not only did Medieval Europe burn billions of witches every year, but also used them for fuel in hovel and castle alike. They also built bridges out of them.)

From 1300 to roughly 1700, we have another cold period that is documented well enough to go by the moniker of "Little Ice Age". Around 1800, the planet warmed up again. All of these climate changes happened with the CO2 content of the atmosphere remaining basically static.

Human production of CO2, natural (by aspiration) or artificial (by combustive processes) counts for only 1 to 4% of the world's CO2 generation. All the world's cars create 2.1 billion tons of CO2 annually; the world's humans create 2.5 billion tons of it just by breathing. The vast majority of the world's CO2 comes from animal exhalations and ocean water evaporation.

Even such respected newspapers as the Frankfurter Allgemeine (Germany's rough status equivalent to the New York Times) are concluding (grudgingly, in some respects) that cars and other human inventions have little to do with CO2 levels, and that even if Germany outlawed all combustion engines overnight, it would have no effect at all on the global climate. The Frankfurter Allgemeine article concludes that human contributions to CO2 production shouldn't be denied or belittled, but that they're not suitable for supporting a "climate hysteria".

Science is all about facts. Gather the data, observe and record, and come up with a conclusion that's supported by evidence, regardless of whether your emotions contradict that solution. The truth is the truth, and your emotions have no bearing on the data. It's funny how the left-leaning crowd makes fun of the Creationists for selectively reading evidence and ignoring the bits that don't fit their desired conclusion, and then turns around and commits the same fallacy in their own arguments. Once you do that, you're no longer practicing science, but theology, and the way in which the climate warriors deal with dissidents in the scientific community makes one think of the medieval church persecuting heretics.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

15 bean soup.

I was just digging in the pantry for peanut butter to make Quinn a sandwich, and found a colorful bag of beans labeled "15 Bean Soup".

I didn't count all the different kinds of beans in the bag, but it certainly looked like a substantial variety of beans in there.

The question that popped into my head was this: who decided on the proper number of beans in a "Multiple Bean Soup"? Did someone prepare and eat a 13 Bean Soup once and say to himself, "There are just not enough beans in this soup"? Conversely, did someone else concoct a 17 Bean Soup, only to try it and decide, "There are just too many damn beans in this soup"? I mean, how does one arrive at a decision regarding bean diversity equilibrium?

Yeah, it's a slow day.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

nukes are for hugging.

One of the folks commenting on my "Why the gun is civilization" posts brought up the question of nuclear arms. He specifically wants to know whether I think that all nations "should be allowed" the possession of atomic weapons. (Note the wording of that statement; I'll come back to it later.)

Nations are groups of individuals, nothing more. A nation's right to self-defense springs from the individual right to self-defense inherent to its members. This is where I have to subordinate my feelings to reason and apply my philosophy consistently. To wit: I don't care if my neighbor has a machine gun on his front porch draped in a Nazi flag, as long as he doesn't try to shoot me with it. For my logic to remain consistent, I need to extend the same concept to nations. I don't care if the Iranians or the Israelis or the Micronesians possess atomic arms, as long as they don't try to fire them in my direction.

Of course, the same person who posed the original question is now jumping in joy like a Jack Russell terrier. Folks who pose the Atomic Challenge to a libertarian do so because they think the libertarian will bow out of the debate out of fright and concede the field (note the comments by Chris in the comment section), or the libertarian will respond in the philosophically predictable manner and give the questioner a victory.

"A-ha!" they say. "Libertarians are insane! They would let anyone have a nuclear bomb in the garage!"

The thing about a rational philosophy is that it requires you to act against your feelings when those emotions are contradicted by reason. I wouldn't feel good about it if my neighbor had a machine gun draped in a Nazi flag, but I would have to concede that his right to property and possession of arms overrides my emotional whims. (If he swings it in my direction and works the charging handle, that's a different story altogether.) Opponents of the libertarian position claim that by allowing people or nations to possess dangerous arms, the libertarian leaves himself open to the possibility of attack, and that this philosophy is self-destructive in the end. Personally, I'll side with the Gallatinists in that I'd rather have my principles shot out from underneath me, than put a bullet into them myself.

The argument about the "nuke in the garage" doesn't hold water, anyway. Nuclear arms are extremely expensive, very difficult to manufacture, and completely out of reach for 99.999% of the population even if there were no restrictions at all on the possession and manufacture of thermonuclear warheads.

Regulations of arms, any arms, are merely a restraint on the law-abiding, not those willing to disregard them. We currently have strict regulations on atomic arms worldwide, and it didn't seem to keep Kim Jong-Il from acquiring enough plutonium to roll a few warheads of his own, successfully circumventing the strictest arms ban in the history of the world. You know what keeps people like him from actually bullying someone with those arms? The knowledge that his little fiefdom will be turned into radioactive slag if he shoots his firecrackers at any nation that possesses nukes of their own (or any nation allied with them), that's what.

The threat of overwhelming retaliatory force is what keeps the peace both on a personal and a global scale, as absurd as it may seem to some. When NATO and Warsaw Pact were sure that any offensive use of nukes would result in the attacker being eradicated as well, nobody was crazy enough to start a war. If only a few nations have nukes, all it takes for another global unpleasantness is for those nations to vote themselves a leadership that's willing to use their force advantage to get their way with lesser armed nations. (Does anyone really trust the Russians to keep the ultranationalists out of the Kremlin forever? What would the Romanians, Poles, Lithuanians or Estonians do if Mother Russia decided to re-embrace their former vassal states by force of arms? They'd probably join NATO to level the playing field just to make sure...oh, wait.)

(By the way, every single member of NATO is armed with atomic weapons for self-defense purposes. That's right, even little Estonia. They may not possess any thermonuclear warheads, but their big friends certainly do, and NATO doctrine states that an attack on a member state is an attack on all member states.)

In Washington D.C., Joe Normal may not carry a gun for self-defense. It is expressly forbidden, under severe penalty of law, to even have one in your house, much less walk the doggy with a .38 in your pocket. As a result, D.C. is an absolutely great working environment for armed thugs--our Capital is always in the top two or three when the annual murder and robbery rates are tallied up. Are you honestly able to say you'd feel safer on the streets of D.C. (where nobody is "allowed" to carry arms) than anywhere else in the country? And if you can say that you wouldn't, why would you use a different logic on a global scale?

Lastly, I'd like to address the use of the word "allowed" I've mentioned in the first paragraph. It's instructive, because it shows that the questioner works from a mindset where things are forbidden by default, and one has to ask "permission" before doing anything. Who has the right to tell the Iranians or the Israelis they can't build their own nukes for self-defense? The gun rights crowd always says that weapons are morally neutral, and that it's the person behind the trigger who decides whether the use of the weapon is good or bad. Are we so willing to go back on that principle just because the scale differs? If you can argue that certain nations should be disallowed the use of such arms because "they might snap" and start taking out their neighbors, then you must apply that logic to individuals as well.

And in the end, isn't the best insurance against people who "might snap" the ability of potential victims to answer force with force? What do you think would keep Iran from using its clandestine warheads against Israel more effectively--the prospect of embargoes and frozen bank accounts, or the prospect of Israeli retaliation turning Iran's biggest cities into glowing dust?

Look, any rogue country which wants nukes will get nukes, international controls or no, much like any criminal who wants a gun will get one. The only thing that can keep the Ahmadinejads and Kim Jong-Ils of the world from taking the wallets of the Liechtensteins and Micronesias of the world is the knowledge that their little fiefdoms are going to get turned into glass parking lots if they do. Nothing restrains a bully than the certain promise of retaliatory ass-kicking.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

a good sword.

A sword never jams, never has to be reloaded, is always ready. It's worst shortcoming is that it takes great skill and patient, loving practice to gain that skill; it can't be taught to raw recruits in weeks, nor even months.

--Robert A. Heinlein, Glory Road

Before the age of the firearm, warfare was a more intimate affair. Back then, battle meant to close with the enemy and stick him with the sharp end of a stone, bronze, iron or steel blade.

Someone once postulated that the Roman gladius has felled more people than any other weapon in history until the advent of the machine gun. Considering that the military might of Rome spanned a thousand years and most of the known world in antiquity, it's not hard to believe. For hundreds of years, Rome's legions took all comers: Germanic barbarians, Egyptian chariot riders, Celtic and Pictish woad raiders, Carthaginian war elephants, Numidian cavalry, Greek phalanxes, and every other sort of fighting outfit the world had to offer. The Legions did not consist of supermen, but they were the first true professional army in history. They were soldiers, while their opponents were merely warriors.

Roman weaponry reflected the pragmatism of Roman warfare. The main sidearm of the Roman soldier, the gladius, was a wasp-waisted short sword with a triangular tip. To Katana fanboys or Renaissance re-enactors, the gladius looks like a blunt little porker, lacking the length or elegance of the later two-handed swords of European or Asian provenance.

I've handled my share of swords over the years. There are two-handed swords that are terrifically nimble and balanced, especially the better replicas of late European swordsmithing, and Scottish claymores and Japanese katanas can deliver terrific cleaving blows. The gladius, however, is what comes to mind when I think of a true fighting blade. It's not for cutting, but for thrusting from behind a shield. When you pull a gladius back for a thrust, you'll notice that it's just long enough to be pulled back and run through an opponent who is standing nose to nose with you. While the gladius can be utilized for cutting just fine, its main mode of employment was the thrust.

"They were likewise taught not to cut but to thrust with their swords. For the Romans not only made a jest of those who fought with the edge of that weapon, but always found them an easy conquest. A stroke with the edges, though made with ever so much force, seldom kills, as the vital parts of the body are defended both by the bones and armor. On the contrary, a stab, though it penetrates but two inches, is generally fatal. Besides in the attitude of striking, it is impossible to avoid exposing the right arm and side; but on the other hand, the body is covered while a thrust is given, and the adversary receives the point before he sees the sword. This was the method of fighting principally used by the Romans, and their reason for exercising recruits with arms of such a weight at first was, that when they came to carry the common ones so much lighter, the greater difference might enable them to act with greater security and alacrity in time of action."

Flavius Vegetius Renatus, De Re Militari Book I: The Selection and Training of New Levies, 390 A.D

Lacking the funds for a real Roman blade, I had to settle for a gladius from Museum Replicas. It was made by Windlass in India, not in the Roman Empire. The blade steel is tough and springy carbon steel, not carbonized iron like the real thing. The fittings are hardwood, and the handle is genuine camelbone. The whole sword weighs 1.73 pounds, or 28 ounces, which is five ounces less than my svelte Smith & Wesson K-frame. It's very maneuverable, can be wielded exceptionally well in tight quarters, and will go through a whole bunch of stuff with pretty absurd ease. I have a feeling that a real Roman centurion would have given his left nut for the Windlass version, as the leaf spring steel used in the modern version is infinitely superior to the softer iron blades of the original.

This is precisely the kind of sidearm I'd wear to a night out at Meep's Texas Barbecue, if we lived in a society where the carrying of swords hadn't fallen out of favor. (Off-side "centurion" carry, of course...the right side is already taken up by the Smith & Wesson mentioned in the previous paragraph.)

Ah, weapons. Even if we had a 0% crime rate, and the lions played canasta with the lambs, I'd still have a house full of 'em. Their best feature is their utility, of course, but they're also living, breathing history.

Monday, March 26, 2007

be a mentor.

I didn't see the SNL episode hosted by Peyton Manning, but this "United Way" ad spoof is hilarious.

I'm not into football at all, but I can appreciate guys who can make fun of themselves. Self-deprecating humor requires a mature personality.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


I'd like to address a few points made by folks who disagreed with some of the conclusions I made in my last post.

"The 'gay guy against a car load of frat boys' argument collapses if you arm the attackers as well as the defender."

While it is true that a number of determined armed attackers will be able to defeat a lone armed defender most of the time, it's also true that the presence of a gun in the defender's hand fundamentally changes the scenario for the attackers. What was an easy proposition before is now a potentially life-ending event. Your group of attackers may (and probably would) prevail, but nobody ever wants to be the first to catch a bullet. That's what makes the gun so valuable in the defender's hand. It does not guarantee victory, or even survival, but it makes the attacker ask himself a fundamental question: Do I want to harm this person badly enough that I'm willing to die for it?

Scores of encounters of armed citizens with suddenly less-than-enthusiastic aggressors show clearly that 99 out of a 100 times, the answer to that question is not just "no", but "hell,no."

The gun in the defender's hand is never a disadvantage to the defender, just to the attacker. Arm the defender, and he will be able to prevail against any number of lesser armed attackers. (I'm not calling someone without a weapon unarmed, as any number of healthy adults can easily kill a single person with their hands and feet alone.) Arm both defender and attackers, the defender is still at a disadvantage, but the implications of the scenario change for the attackers as described in the previous paragraph; the defender is certainly no worse off than if nobody was armed.

"Could you explain how something like trickery plays in here? The good ole carrot on a stick. Deceit and deception. Would that fit under reason, since it seems reasonable to the sucker?"

Trickery is fraud. Fraud is in the same category as force, not reason. I suppose my original classification for human transactions (force or reason) needs to include fraud as a separate category, but loosely put, fraud is the kissing cousin of force. Force is a violation of another's body or property by physical action, whereas fraud is a violation of someone's property by deception.

"Illogical argument! "My gun is bigger than yours" force equal force-nobody wins or survives. I'm not anti-gun. I'm anti-stupidity."

First of all, I'm always open to others pointing out flaws in my reasoning (it improves reasoning skill, after all), so I'd be grateful if you could point out specific logical fallacies you may have spotted.

"Nobody wins or survives" is not the inevitable outcome of the "force equals force" scenario. For example, I can send you a dozen or so snippets of news stories from the East Tennessee region just from the last year which involve good guys (victims of attempted force--muggings, home invasions, etcetera) prevailing against bad guys solely because the good guys had personal firearms at hand. In most cases the attackers were armed, and in most cases, the defenders not only ran off or killed their attackers, but came away unscathed. That's just a dozen or so incidents locally...on a nationwide scale, the number of successful self-defense incidents with firearms is quite substantial.

Again, the victims were never at a disadvantage for having the gun--it was only a disadvantage for their attackers.

To be accurate, there are some (rare) incidents where victims of crime had their own weapons taken and used against them. This happens, but it doesn't happen nearly as often as an armed defender prevailing against an armed attacker, and the ratio isn't even a thousand to one.

As for the "nobody survives" scenario: to me, that's still a preferential outcome over the "bad guy survives" scenario. If I happen to draw the short straw against an armed attacker someday, I'll do my level best to make sure I'll skid into Valhalla with my attacker in a tight headlock. Like some smart police officer once said: "You may find me dead in a ditch someday, but by God, you'll find me in a pile of brass." Anything beats surrendering yourself to the mercy and reason of an attacker who is already unreasonable enough to rob folks for a living, and the gun at least gives you an option. Unarmed, you have none.

"Why are you so afraid and paranoid that you feel the need to carry a weapon in public? Do you think everybody is out to get you?"

This one has always been a head-scratcher for me. Who's paranoid: the person who wants to be able to defend himself against the few bad apples in society, or the person who wants to render everybody harmless?

Think about what an insult it is to insist on disarming another person. What you're saying to that person is, "I don't trust you until you have no means to harm me." Now that's paranoia.

(Now ask yourself why on earth anyone would vote for a politician who says that to you. L. Neil Smith is absolutely on the money, of course: if the politician doesn't trust you not to kill him or anyone else, why would you even give him the time of day, much less vote for him?)

Friday, March 23, 2007

why the gun is civilization.

Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that's it.

In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.

When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force. The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gangbanger, and a single gay guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.

There are plenty of people who consider the gun as the source of bad force equations. These are the people who think that we'd be more civilized if all guns were removed from society, because a firearm makes it easier for a mugger to do his job. That, of course, is only true if the mugger's potential victims are mostly disarmed either by choice or by legislative fiat--it has no validity when most of a mugger's potential marks are armed. People who argue for the banning of arms ask for automatic rule by the young, the strong, and the many, and that's the exact opposite of a civilized society. A mugger, even an armed one, can only make a successful living in a society where the state has granted him a force monopoly.

Then there's the argument that the gun makes confrontations lethal that otherwise would only result in injury. This argument is fallacious in several ways. Without guns involved, confrontations are won by the physically superior party inflicting overwhelming injury on the loser. People who think that fists, bats, sticks, or stones don't constitute lethal force watch too much TV, where people take beatings and come out of it with a bloody lip at worst. The fact that the gun makes lethal force easier works solely in favor of the weaker defender, not the stronger attacker. If both are armed, the field is level. The gun is the only weapon that's as lethal in the hands of an octogenarian as it is in the hands of a weightlifter. It simply wouldn't work as well as a force equalizer if it wasn't both lethal and easily employable.

When I carry a gun, I don't do so because I am looking for a fight, but because I'm looking to be left alone. The gun at my side means that I cannot be forced, only persuaded. I don't carry it because I'm afraid, but because it enables me to be unafraid. It doesn't limit the actions of those who would interact with me through reason, only the actions of those who would do so by force. It removes force from the equation...and that's why carrying a gun is a civilized act.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

quote of the day...

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages. Nobody but a beggar chooses to depend chiefly upon the benevolence of his fellow citizens.

– Adam Smith, "The Wealth of Nations"

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

how to break a country. has an interesting article on present-day Zimbabwe, whose economy has been in free fall since President Mugabe evicted thousands of white land owners from their farms seven years ago. Mugabe resolved to right colonial wrongs, taking the farmers' property and turning it over to black "war veterans" of Zimbabwe's 1970s civil war. (Many of the armed gangs that took over those farms were comprised of young thugs that were just a twinkling in their fathers' eyes in the 1970s, but who's picking nits?)

When the evil white farmers tilled their own soil, Zimbabwe was the bread basket of the region, exporting grain and food and tobacco to the rest of Africa. The gangs that took over the farms had no idea how to farm, and no interest in doing the work involved. Seven years later, Zimbabwe has gone from bread basket to basket case, with chronic food shortages and a 1,700% annual inflation rate. Mugabe's government and his cronies are the textbook definition of corruption, and Zimbabwe is slated to become the next entry in the list of countries that have been run into the ground by looters.

Africa's biggest problem is Africa. The continent seems to be plagued by an endless parade of governments that seize and hold power for the sole purpose of filling their pockets as long as possible, with no regard for the devastated countries they leave behind.

Our Western governments are chock-full of "public servants" of the same caliber, but at least ours are smart enough to realize that it's better to keep milking the cow than to slaughter it outright. The milk will sustain you for a long time, and the cow's offspring can be milked or butchered for additional profit, but it's dumb to chop off Bossie's head just because you're hungry now.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

real estate bargains.

The good news: you can get a house in a major metropolitan area these days for less than the price of a decent used car.

The bad news: your house will be in Detroit.

birkenstock nuttery.

More proof that the extreme fringe of the "animal rights" crowd is more about hating humans than they are about loving animals.

In a nutshell...a polar bear cub is being hand-raised by zoo personnel in Berlin, because its mother rejected it. Some animal rights activists now claim that the bear would be better off dead than raised by humans, as such a thing is not "species-appropriate", and they would like to see the zoo euthanise the cub.

While they have a point about the natural selection process, zoos ("animal penitentiaries") are already pretty far removed from natural surroundings, especially when it comes to predators.

Some times, it's necessary to humanely put down an animal to spare it further suffering. I've had to do so more than once in the past, and it's never a pleasant thing, but there are cases where there's no quality of life left, and the barbiturate overdose means an end to needless suffering.

In this case, however, it seems a bit ludicrous to argue that the animal needs to be killed merely because it gets its milk from a bottle rather than a momma bear.

I've long held the opinion that extreme "animal rights" advocacy merely constitutes a socially acceptable outlet for nutcases to inflict harm on their fellow hated humans, and stuff like this tends to reinforce that opinion.

Monday, March 19, 2007

huffing and puffing.

When I was in the military, way back when Soviets roamed the Eastern European plains, we ran an awful lot. Airborne outfits pride themselves on using their boots where more sensible service branches use trucks and buses, so we put plenty of miles on our issued running shoes every week. At my peak, I was able to do a 5K run in combat boots and with twenty pounds of gear in well under 30 minutes.

Well, that was then, and this is now. I have not been running on a regular basis since well before Quinn was born, and my attempts at getting back into it were all pretty short-lived because I tried to pick up right where I left off. There is no better way to sour on running than lacing up the old running shoes and setting out on a 2K run without gradually easing back into the exercise. You puff along for the 2K, you're completely winded and miserable halfway through, and then you kind of lose interest in getting up at 5am just to set your lungs on fire again.

I took some advice from a pretty good running website, which has a "Couch to 5K" running plan. You ease back into it by alternating running with walking at for a minute, walk for a minute and a half, repeat for twenty minutes. Each subsequent week, the running stretches get longer, and the resting stretches shorter, until you can once again run 5K at a good pace without stopping.

I'd try the whole thing old school, in fatigues and boots and with a rifle, but I think KCSO may just take a dim view to a guy in military dress running along Emory Road at 5:30am with a rifle at port arms...

Friday, March 16, 2007

early literacy.

This is what we do most of the day.

Quinn goes over to a friend's house every once in a while, where they have magnetic letters on the fridge for their three-year-old daughter. The first time he saw those letters, he was fascinated with them, so Robin bought him several sets of fridge magnet alphabets and a set of foam letters for the bathtub.

He plays with letters and books all day long, and he knows just about the entire alphabet, although the concept of capital and lower case letters still eludes him somewhat. (He reads the lower case "b" as an upside down "p", for example.) His first activity of the morning, even before breakfast, is to ask for a book from his shelf, which he will peruse and narrate over breakfast.

When we're out and about, he'll read out all the letters he sees, from the writing on the sides of passing trucks to the letters on the banner above the supermarket sliding doors.

The other day, we went to see the in-laws in western NC, a two-hour plus drive. He has a personal DVD unit strapped to the headrest of the passenger seat in front of him, and I tossed in a Disney DVD for entertainment to keep him from getting bored and cranky.

I couldn't help but smile when he preferred leafing through his book over watching the movie in front of him. He may just become a bookworm like mommy and daddy.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


People suck.

Seriously, someone who does something like that is a profoundly disturbed individual.

Serial killers often start young, displaying their lack of empathy by torturing and killing animals. One can only imagine what this particular individual might do for a rush once he or she moves on to taking it out on people instead of animals.

knee-deep in empties.

I just rummaged through my gun closet to find some bore paste, and I had to dig my way through several grocery bags full of boxed .38 Special brass.

I took a minute to count up the brass, and I have about a thousand empties in boxes, plus another grocery bag full of loose brass. Make it 1,500, give or take a few. (That's one of the benefits of being a revolver can retain every single piece of brass you fire through your guns.)

I guess I should finally get that reloading press and roll my own...ammo isn't getting any cheaper, that's for sure. .38 Special is relatively inexpensive at $9-10 per 50, but it's still 50% more pricey than 9mm Luger.

Ooh! Then I could get one of those nifty Marlin 1894 lever guns in .357 Magnum and cook up some deer smackers...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

quote of the day...

"The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can't get and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is sort of an advance auction sale of stolen goods."

-H.L. Mencken

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

special k.

Four or five years ago, I found a well-used and scuffed Smith & Wesson Model 65 at the local cop shop. It was scratched, and it had a fair amount of endshake (the undesirable condition where the cylinder has too much fore-and-aft play in it), but it had the magical three-inch heavy barrel, and it was only $225.

Now, S&W made a fair number of three-inch heavy-barreled K-frames, but their availability and pricing on the used market is completely out of proportion to their production numbers. It seems that people who own them generally keep them. People who constantly laud the three-inch K as the best fighting revolver ever made just need to shut the hell up about them. Ahem.

I handed the gun to gunsmith Shannon with a short list of Things To Be Done, and a few weeks and $100 later, it came back to me with the endshake fixed, the scratches polished out, the whole gun finely beadblasted for a nice frosted finish, and a new orange insert installed into the front sight.

Some time thereafter, I had a hankering for Something New, and I traded the M65 to Tamara for some fancy flatgun of European provenance. A week or two ago, I had a chance to rectify that mistake, and now it's back in the stable. This brings my battery of hard-to-find 3" K-frames up to three.

Here's what it looks like now:

I set it up with the same grips as my M13, so the two are just about identical twins, with identical handling and riding in the same holster.

I finally settled on the three-inch K as a carry gun two years ago, and one has been riding in my holster pretty much continuously since then. For those who know me, that's practically forever. Now I'm at the point where no other gun feels quite right in my hand, and my trigger finger is used to a smooth K-frame double action trigger and spoiled for anything else. I guess I'll just keep sticking with the K and become like those scary old guys who can drive nails at 15 yards with their finish-worn M&P which they bought at the hardware store right after the war for $80 brand new, yessirree.

Monday, March 12, 2007

investors wanted.

I have a business idea that has the potential to be an international attraction for like-minded folks all over the world.

It's a gunshop/range/bar/walk-in humidor/bookstore called...wait for it...."The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms." The business goal is to create the most politically incorrect establishment of its kind in the world, something that will induce heart attacks in the patchouli-and-Birkenstocks crowd merely by reading about it in the newspaper.

The gunshop part will have a 25-lane climate-controlled indoor range, and tactical black plastic will live side-by side with walnut and blued steel. There will be a vast collection of rentals, including buzzguns, and every rental gun with screw-on grips will have genuine ivory grip panels.

Rental targets will include kittens (for rimfire plinking), baby seals (for casual or light shooting) or manatees (for buzzguns or heavy-duty practice; those manatees take a lot more hits before falling apart.) Maybe we can have an outdoor skeet/trap course where the clay throwers toss spotted owls and songbirds.

We'll sell holsters and belts exclusively made from exotic animal skins: snake, alligator, and anything else that's pretty-skinned and on the endangered species list.

The bar will be clad in some exotic Brazilian hardwood right from the middle of the rainforest. Bar stools will be covered in seal fur. Spit buckets and trash cans will be mink-lined genuine elephant feet. Drinking and shooting will be permitted; just make sure you're bonded for restitution if you shoot anything you didn't buy. There'll be smoking allowed everywhere, including the firing line, and the lane trays will have cupholders for pint, martini, and lowball glasses.

Overhead music will be gun-related classics like "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner", "Lawyers, Guns and Money", and similar crowd pleasers.

I'm still working on a sufficiently non-PC book assortment to offer in the bookstore, and it goes without saying that the humidor will feature smuggled Cuban cigars as well as every smokable intoxicant yet devised by humanity.

I figure I'll need about $20 million or so to get this baby off the ground. Who's in?

Friday, March 9, 2007

wealth redistribution, german style.

Germany has the "right to Rente " (publically-funded retirement) written into its constitution. (I cannot for the life of me figure out how you can make something a right that necessitates financial obligation by others, but I'm just one of those pie-in-the-sky libertarians.)

Germany, of course, has the same mathematical problems with social security as our own system. The people who thought it up failed to plan for an upside-down ratio of beneficiaries and working folk, and with the baby boomers starting to retire in both countries, both systems will be hopelessly upside down by 2020 or so. At that point, there'll be more money paid out than comes in via social security contributions, and the SS system will weigh down the general fund to the tune of a few trillion dollars.

Of course, our politcritters in both countries care little about mathematics. The retirees in Germany and the United States constitute a huge voting bloc (old folks vote), and a great number of them sides with the AARP and its German equivalent, which basically say "screw you, junior, we'll be long gone when the pot is empty." (The people in charge in Washington and Berlin also know very well that they'll be long gone when the system collapses, and somebody else will have to sort out the mess.)

Here's an instructive table from Germany. It shows the contribution-to-benefit ratio for future and current retirees based on their current age.

As you can see, people who are 65 receive about a quarter million euros more in benefits over the course of their lives than they actually pay into the system. In contrast, people who are now 25 will pay in almost 150,000 more in euros than they'll receive from the system, providing that it still exists when they retire at the age of 67. (Retirement age has just been raised in a grudging acceptance of elementary math.)

That means that my brother and his wife, who are both in the 30-35 age bracket, will be relieved of a combined quarter million dollars over the course of their lifetime to finance the current retirees' "constitutional right" to state-funded retirement. Count in their two (soon to be three) kids, and assume against all logic that the Sozialstaat won't collapse fiscally by the time the youngins reach retirement, and you're probably approaching a million bucks pilfered from just that little five-person household over the course of their lifetimes.

(That's just their contributions to their social security net, of course. I'm not even counting the money taken out of their paychecks for the almost-20%-VAT, sales taxes, ruinous gasoline taxes, and various other ways in which the state will claim a right to their paychecks.)

That is what socialists call "fair", and "socially progressive". That's their "fair share".

I have no doubt that our system is similarly unfavorable for the Gen-Xers, but that's the way the cookie crumbles. Next time you see one of those AARP ads exhorting you to call your Congressperson and tell them to "leave Social Security alone", keep in mind that the system's fine only if you're in retirement, or near it. For everyone born after the Baby Boomer generation, AARP has nothing but a shrug and a jar of Vaseline.

Nobody would need a "social net" if the government didn't confiscate half the paycheck of every working man, woman, and child at gunpoint. (In actuality, effective tax rate is closer to 90% if you count in every tax that is levied on everything you can buy or make.) Would you need to worry about your retirement years if you could deposit all of your gross pay in the bank, and in addition everything was suddenly available at a 90% discount....housing, food, cars, anything?

To speak with Harry Browne, government breaks your legs, hands you a crutch, and says, "See? Without government, you wouldn't be able to walk!"

Thursday, March 8, 2007

truth in advertising.

In the world of online gun forums (fora?), I have come across several instances of people referring to their new Kimber pistol as a "Dessert Warrior".

This strikes me as doubly funny, because it describes the most likely use of those pistols more aptly than the correct spelling of the product name, seeing how most of the Desert Warriors sold at my local gun shop are more likely to regularly see the buffet at Golden Corral than the mean streets of Fallujah.

In related news, I find it hard to take advice about tactics and self-defense from folks who look like they can't walk from the car to the same buffet without getting out of breath. I mean, I'm no longer as lean as I was in basic training at 17, but I can still chug around the 2.3 mile circuit out at Lakeshore Park at a somewhat decent pace without succumbing to a heart attack. If you wax on about preparedness and SHTF plans in a gun store, it helps your credibility if you don't look like you plan on living off your body fat for two years once the comet hits.

parental denial.

Last week, two 19-year-old girls colluded with a convicted felon and a bank teller to lift a fair chunk of change from a Bank of America branch in upscale suburban Atlanta. They were caught with said convicted felon three days later, and all four are now in the Cobb County klink, facing charges of felony theft and drug possession.

The parents of the two darlings come on record as "shocked" (naturally!), but the degree of their reactions is quite instructive. Little Miss Heather Johnston's dad said that "God gives us free will and it's up to us what we do with it," and "any adult has to make decisions and live with them -- good, bad or indifferent." That sounds like dad has no problem with the concept of "do the crime, do the time," even (or especially) when it's his own offspring. (He also hasn't bonded little Heather out of jail.)

Little Miss Ashley Miller's mom, on the other hand, has a full case of "he was such a good boy/she was such a good girl" syndrome, where parents of miscreants adamantly refuse to acknowledge that their offspring might be capable of doing naughty things. She has stated that the two are just "little girls that made a bad choice", and shrugs off her daughter's admission to police of being a drug dealer with "she is taking the blame for the boy who has the drugs, 'cause she's a sweet girl with a big heart."

Ashley's mom hasn't bailed her out, either, but it turns out that in her case it's due to the fact that she violated her probation for a 2006 DUI conviction, which makes her ineligible for a release on bond.

Oh, and it turns out that both "little girls" were working for an Atlanta strip club called "Shooter Alley", where they apparently have been gyrating around poles for the last few months. Not that there's anything wrong with working at a strip club, or strip clubs per se, but the combined list of "oh, really?" factoids in this case makes Ashley's mom look like a bit of a chump.

If Quinn decides to disregard parental advice and upbringing at the age of 19, and I receive a call from the county jail asking me to bail him out 'cause "the bank robbery was just him falling in with the wrong crowd", I think my answer would be something along the lines of, "That sucks, son. I guess I'll be forwarding your mail for the next few years."

And that wouldn't be because I don't love him, but precisely because I do.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

quote of the day...

...comes to us courtesy of 3yellowdogs by way of Tam's comment section.

...for all of those out there who are just pining for that "free" govamint, single payer healthcare nirvana, all you have to do is look at Walter Reed Army hospital. If injured heroes who WORK for us are treated that way, what kind of care do you think Uncle Bill will get for his hip replacement?

observations from the gun store.

Last weekend, I went out to the local gun haus to peruse the new wares and have a chat with my friends and acquaintances over there.

While I was chatting with Tam, the room gradually filled up with students for the carry permit class that's taught at the shop once or twice a month. While they were waiting for roll to be called, I took a demographic sample, so to speak, and it occurred to me why the gun control crowd is mostly barking up the wrong tree.

You see, when the patchouli-and-Birkenstocks crowd thinks of gun owners, they think of fat men in camouflage, beer-swilling savages who eat beef jerky while waiting for deer to wander into the killing zone. In their minds, anyone who wants to own (or worse yet, carry!) a gun is a guy who's just trying to compensate for the small size of his wedding tackle.

Well, perception is not reality, especially not in this case. The people assembled for the carry class were as far from the "redneck gun owner" stereotype as you can get. For starters, fully half of them were females in the 21-40 age bracket, a demographic that incidentally has the most to gain by carrying around a portable force equalizer. The guys did not exactly match the bias either...many of them looked like accountants or bank tellers. In short, the assembled crowd looked indistinguishable from the folks you see on the street everyday, Mr. and Mrs. Suburbian. Plenty of purses, wedding rings, button-down shirts and pleated Dockers, and a suspicious absence of camo clothing or NASCAR apparel.

While it still rankles me that these good folks still have to waste a Saturday sitting through a class before being allowed by their government to obtain a chit "entitling" them to exercise a Constitutional and human right (do we need free speech and churchgoing permits from the State?), it's good to see that people are joining the Good Guys with Guns club in such encouraging numbers.

If I can't tell a permit holder from your average soccer mom on the street, neither can a carjacker or mugger.

More importantly, if I can't tell a gun-toting voter from a gun-hating one, Mr. and Mrs. Candidate will have a hard time with that as well, and maybe they'll start to realize why it's not a good idea to try and "take guns off the street". You just don't know whose purse contains one, and you don't want to piss off a voter.

You see, most politicians are vote whores. They'll swing whichever way they think gets them the most votes, and if there are enough average folks out there saying "keep your grubby hands off my thirty-eight", then gun control will be a non-issue.

So, take a friend or co-worker shooting today. Show 'em that there are far more gun owners wearing khakis or skirts than there are wearing camouflage, and you'll go a step towards the day when putting a gun on your belt before leaving the house is considered as sensible and uncontroversial as sticking a cell phone into your pocket.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

goose and gander.

As we all know, Jim Zumbo learned a painful lesson about free speech a few weeks back: you have the right to speak your mind, but you have no right to an audience, nor a right to be shielded from the consequences of that speech.

A bunch of whiners criticized gun owners for boycott calls, and companies like Remington for withdrawing their sponsorships of Zumbo. They said it was "censorship".

Now they have a chance of proving the consistency of their position: Ann Coulter, a darling of the right-wingers is starting to lose money for exercising her own right to free speech.

Quick, Informed Blue Staters! To the rescue!

For the record: I dislike Ann Coulter and John Edwards, but I support the right of that shrill little harpy to exercise free speech. I also support the right of the companies involved to take their ad money somewhere else, just like I supported Remington's right to pull the dollar rug out from underneath Jim Zumbo's feet. The principle doesn't change just because you like or dislike the speaker...the First Amendment recognizes the right to free speech; it doesn't recognize the right to an audience.

Monday, March 5, 2007

question from the peanut gallery.

I've crossed the Atlantic Ocean via economy class about twenty times or so. Security protocols and hassles have changed over the years--quite drastically so after 9/11--but one thing has always remained constant: the unflinching vigilance of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, whose agents make sure that no one brings produce, fruit, or ham sandwiches into the United States.

These guardians of liberty confiscate sandwiches, apples, and all other food that is not packaged, to make sure that visitors and returning citizens don't import a nasty case of apple crud or pig sniffles into the Land of the Free.

That, of course, brings me to the Question of the Day.

Why is it that I have Oma's tasty German liverwurst sammich ripped out of my hands at gunpoint upon arrival at U.S. Customs, and some self-important, blowhard rap "artist" can have a complete Indian meal delivered from Wales to New York?

Sunday, March 4, 2007

tales from the big book of bullets.

Not-so-smart cartridge concept #592: the 9mm Federal.

Designed as a rimmed 9mm for use in revolvers (much like the .45 Auto Rim), it had the misfortune of being able to fit into .38 S&W chambers. There are always folks who cannot read the caliber designations and warnings on ammo boxes, and will shoot anything out of anything as long as it sorta-kinda fits the chamber. A few blown-up blackpowder antiques later, the only revolver manufacturer who ever chambered guns in 9mm Federal (Charter) went out of business, and Federal ceased manufacture of the cartridge.

Friday, March 2, 2007

headline of the month.

Switzerland accidentally invades Liechtenstein.

There's got to be a joke in there somewhere...


Just in case you've missed it, there's a bunch of clips from "300" up on Yahoo's movie section.

My favorite, of course: "Lay Down Your Weapons", but they all rock hard.