Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009: More Guns, Less Crime

FBI Reports Huge Decrease In Murders As Firearm, Ammunition And “Large” Magazine Sales Soar
 
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
 
Last week, the FBI issued its preliminary 2009 crime report, showing that the number of murders in the first half of 2009 decreased 10 percent compared to the first half of 2008. If the trend holds for the remainder of 2009, it will be the single greatest one-year decrease in the number of murders since at least 1960, the earliest year for which national data are available through the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Also, the per capita murder rate for 2009 will be 51 percent lower than the all-time high recorded in 1991, and it will be the lowest rate since 1963—a 46-year low. Final figures for 2009 will be released by the FBI next year.

According to gun control supporter dogma—“more guns means more crime”—the number of privately owned firearms must have decreased 10 percent in 2009. To the contrary, however, the number rose between 1.5 and 2 percent, to an all-time high. For the better part of the last 15 months, firearms, ammunition, and “large” ammunition magazines have been sold in what appear to be record quantities. And, the firearms that were most commonly purchased in 2009 are those that gun control supporters most want to be banned—AR-15s, similar semi-automatic rifles, and handguns designed for defense. The National Shooting Sports Foundation already estimates record ammunition sales in 2009, dominated by .223 Remington, 7.62x39mm, 9mm and other calibers widely favored for defensive purposes.

Also indicative of the upward trend in firearm sales, the number of national instant check transactions rose 24.5 percent in the first six months of 2009 compared to the first six months in 2008, the greatest increase since NICS’ inception in 1998. Through the end of October, NICS transactions rose18 percent, compared to the same period in 2008.

More Guns Means More Crime? Hardly. In 2009, more guns meant less crime, in a very, very big way.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

LRGC Third Annual Red, White and Blue December

Yesterday I participated in the 3rd annual Red, White and Blue December match at Langhorne Rod & Gun Club.  This is the annual Kalashnikov match run by LRGC.

This year was a bit different from the prior two events.  First, participation was limited to 33 pre-registered shooters, run in three strings.  Second, there was no pistol component, it was rifle-only.  Finally, each shooter ran the course individually, rather than having everyone shoot at the same time.  The match director described the event ahead of time as, "Reflections on a gentle Summertime in Grozny."

Due to really foul weather* and a half flooded range, the planned course of fire had to be changed up a bit.  Anyway, it was as follows:

1. Four steel targets from 200 yards, maximum of 15 shots.  Each steel target was about 2/3 the size of a human torso.
2. Advance to a plywood cutout of a car, neutralize two IDPA targets from urban prone under the car.
3. Advance to another car and neutralize 3 IDPA targets while avoiding a no-shoot target.
4. Advance to a Bianchi Barrier (basically a big rectangle barricade), hit two steel, and neutralize 3 IDPA targets.  Avoid a no-shoot.
5. Advance to barrel and neutralize 3 IDPA targets while avoiding a no-shoot.
6. Advance to a car, neutralize 3 IDPA targets and hit two steel.
7. Hit two small swinging targets about the size of a cantaloupe while advancing.

When advancing from one stage to the next the rifle had to be placed on safe.  At the end of the course it was cleared and placed down while range officers scored targets.

The temperature was in the 40s and it rained all day.  Also, we'd gotten about a foot of snow about a week ago so everything was soaked.  To stay dry I wore my Mountain Hardware Exposure parka, a ball cap, a pair of German surplus rain pants, and Merril Waterproof boots.  I also had a pair of Mechanix work gloves which became soaked rather quickly.

All my foul weather gear performed exceptionally. Except for my hands I'd remained totally dry and warm until I had to advance to position #4, when I found myself in a foot-deep mixture of water and slush.  At that point my nice waterproof boots became buckets.  The second half of the course (stages 4 through 7) was covered in from 8" to 12" of this slop.

The steel targets took one hit apiece to neutralize, while the cardboard IDPA targets.  These required two kill zone hits to neutralize, so I put at least 3 shots into each.  The final targets in stage 7 required one hit apiece to neutralize.

By the time I got to stage #7 my rifle was shaking all over the place so hitting targets the size of melons was not easy, even though the range was about 10 yards.  I really need to get into better shape.

I shot my Century Arms M70AB2T Yugoslavian underfolder AK, fed with Combloc steel mags and one Tapco plastic mag (which came with the rifle).  Ammo was from an older lot of Wolf Military Classic 7.62x39 with lacquered cases.  In the 292 seconds it took me to run the course I went through almost 3 full mags.  The rifle ran like a champ.  It's very smooth shooting and the extra pound or so compared with Romanian stamped AKs helps to reduce recoil and muzzle flip.  I've only had the Yugo for a couple months but it's become one of my favorite rifles.

Shooting a rifle while on the move, in poor conditions, and against the clock is a lot different than on a nice sunny day on a square range.  As you move and your heart races it's harder to keep your rounds on target.  There were also a couple times when I had to wait a fraction of a second for my sight picture to clear from the smoke from oil burning off or steam from the water hitting my rifle.  Unconventional shooting positions like urban prone (where you're laying down and the rifle is almost on its side) are not conducive to the most accurate shooting, either.

Likewise, when your gear is not merely wet but soaked it's harder to run.  Thankfully, the plastic Century furniture provided a secure grip even when wet.  Being a Russian designed rifle, the AK was designed for use in crappy weather when you're wearing gloves, with a nice big selector and charging handle.

To carry my magazines I used a Hungarian surplus AK mag pouch.  I'd prepared my magazines ahead of time with paracord loops to aide me in pulling them out.  I'd also tied a Maxpedition Rolly Polly dump pouch to the strap of the mag pouch but it flopped around too much and I wound up dropping the mags, which is OK in competion but not so good if you're in a fight.  Next time I'll work out something better.  (I'd planned to have it on a belt but said belt wouldn't fit around me while I was wearing a fleece jacket and waterproof shell.  I forgot to check this out ahead of time.)

I wound up finishing in the middle of the pack.  I had problems hitting the steel from 200 yards do to never having fired this rifle at that distance before.  After using up about 10 rounds of the maximum 15 for that stage, I decided to just take the time penalty for the misses and move to stage #2.

All in all, it was another kick-ass event at LRGC and more good hands-on time with my rifle.


*The LRGC Practical Rifle crew holds their events no matter how bad the weather is, unless the conditions are actually hazardous.  E.g., lightning.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Belgian Corporal

This is an excerpt from the book  "The Gun Rights War" by Neal Knox, posted by Chris Knox to the book's Facebook page.




The Belgian Corporal

by Neal Knox

In the summer of 1955, I was a young Texas National Guard sergeant on active duty at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. A corporal in my squad was a Belgian-American named Charles DeNaer. An old man as far as most of us were concerned, being well over thirty, Charley commanded a certain amount of our respect, for not only was he older than the rest of us, he had lived in Belgium when the Germans rolled across the low countries by-passing the Maginot Line on their way into France. He had seen war.

One soft Oklahoma afternoon, sitting on a bunk in the half-light of an old wooden barracks, he told me his story.

In Charley's little town in Belgium, there lived an old man, a gunsmith. The old man was friendly with the kids and welcomed them to his shop. He had once been an armorer to the king of Belgium, according to Charley. He told us of the wonderful guns the old man had crafted, using only hand tools. There were double shotguns and fine rifles with beautiful hardwood stocks and gorgeous engraving and inlay work. Charley liked the old man and enjoyed looking at the guns. He often did chores around the shop.

One day the gunsmith sent for Charley. Arriving at the shop, Charley found the old man carefully oiling and wrapping guns in oilcloth and paper. Charley asked what he was doing. The old smith gestured to a piece of paper on the workbench and said that an order had come to him to register all of his guns. He was to list every gun with a description on a piece of paper and then to send the paper to the government. The old man had no intention of complying with the registration law and had summoned Charley to help him bury the guns at a railroad crossing. Charley asked why he didn't simply comply with the order and keep the guns. The old man, with tears in his eyes, replied to the boy, "If I register them, they will be taken away. "

A year or two later, the blitzkrieg rolled across the Low Countries. One day not long after, the war arrived in Charley's town. A squad of German SS troops banged on the door of a house that Charley knew well. The family had twin sons about Charley's age. The twins were his best friends. The officer displayed a paper describing a Luger pistol, a relic of the Great War, and ordered the father to produce it. That old gun had been lost, stolen, or misplaced sometime after it had been registered, the father explained. He did not know where it was.

The officer told the father that he had exactly fifteen minutes to produce the weapon. The family turned their home upside down. No pistol. They returned to the SS officer empty-handed.

The officer gave an order and soldiers herded the family outside while other troops called the entire town out into the square. There on the town square the SS machine-gunned the entire family-father, mother, Charley's two friends, their older brother and a baby sister.

I will never forget the moment. We were sitting on the bunk on a Saturday afternoon and Charley was crying, huge tears rolling down his cheeks, making silver dollar size splotches on the dusty barracks floor. That was my conversion from a casual gun owner to one who was determined to prevent such a thing from ever happening in America.

Later that summer, when I had returned home I went to the president of the West Texas Sportsman's Club in Abilene and told him I wanted to be on the legislative committee. He replied that we didn't have a legislative committee, but that I was now the chairman.

I, who had never given a thought to gun laws, have been eyeball deep in the "gun control" fight ever since.

As the newly-minted Legislative Committee Chairman of the West Texas Sportsman's club, I set myself to some research. I had never before read the Second Amendment, but now noticed that The American Rifleman published it in its masthead. I was delighted to learn that the Constitution prohibited laws like Belgium's. There was no battle to fight, I thought. We were covered. I have since learned that the words about a militia and the right of the people to keep and bear, while important, mean as much to a determined enemy as the Maginot line did to Hitler.

Rather than depend on the Second Amendment to protect our gun rights, I've learned that we must protect the Second Amendment and the precious rights it recognizes.

Permission to reprint or post this article in its entirety is hereby granted provided this credit is included. Text is available at www.FirearmsCoalition.org. To receive The Firearms Coalition's bi-monthly newsletter, The Knox Hard Corps Report, write to PO Box 3313, Manassas, VA 20108.

©Copyright 2009 Neal Knox Associates

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Zero Day Vulnerability in Adobe Reader

There is a zero day security exploit for the Adobe PDF Reader that is currently out in the wild and for which there is no patch.  It exploits a vulnerability in Reader’s Javascript implementation.

Details here.

If you must use Adobe Reader you should disable Javascript until this is fixed.

  • On Windows, launch Adobe Reader and go to Edit > Preferences > JavaScript and uncheck Enable Acrobat JavaScript.
  • On a Mac, launch Adobe Reader go to the Adobe Reader menu > Preferences > JavaScript and uncheck Enable Acrobat JavaScript.


Alternative free PDF viewers are Preview.app on Mac (included with OS X), and Foxit Reader on Windows.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

PDANet for Android

I think I mentioned PDANet in a prior post.  If not, it's a program that installs on several different kinds of smart phones enabling their use as cellular modems (AKA "tethering").  With my Blackberry I had to pay VZW $15/month for this privilege but with PDANet on my Droid there's no recurring charge.

Today I was notified of an update to PDANet for Android.  It now supports USB tethering on Macs.  Previously, Mac tethering was supported only via Bluetooth, which is slow.  When I tried Bluetooth tethering my download speeds were in the 350 kbps range.  Via USB it's around 2 Mbps, quite an improvement.

I sent the developer an email requesting clarification on licensing.  Depending on which machine I'm using I may need to tether either my MacBook Pro or Hobbit, my MSI Wind Netbook running Windows 7.  I need to know if I need to buy one or two licenses, since a desktop client is required for USB tethering.  I'll post an update when I have an answer.

In the meantime, if you have a smartphone and the need to use it as a cellular modem, PDANet is worth checking out.

Edit 12/22/09:

I received the following reply from June Software regarding my desktop client licensing question:

Hi,

As long as you have PdaNet on only one phone device, you can install it on as many computers as you like.


Thanks,
June Fabrics PDA Software Support
http://www.junefabrics.com

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Chanukah

Happy Chanukah.

While you're enjoying the holiday tonight, try to remember why we celebrate.  It's not about trying to have the Jewish equivalent of Christmas.  I'd also urge, in a time when the Federal government has pretty much gone off the reservation, that my fellow MOTs reflect on the support the majority of Jewish Americans have traditionally given to big government, as I discussed a few years ago.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Quick Range Report

I managed to get to the range twice this weekend.

Friday night was Alexandra's birthday party.  It was girl-only, so after I was kicked out once I gobbled down two slices of pizza I packed my range bag, drove over to my parents and picked up my dad and went to his club.

I shot my 1958-vintage Ruger Single Six and my Springfield XD9.  I've been leaving the Ruger in my range bag along with some Federal bulk pack .22 LR ammo.  This way if I go to my club -- about a 50 minute drive -- and the rifle ranges are occupied, I haven't wasted a trip.

The Old Model Single Six was well used when I got it several years ago.  The action is very smooth and the piece is accurate.  I ran about 30 rounds through it then switched to the Springer.

The XD9 continues to impress.  I figure I've got about 600 or 700 rounds through it so far, a mix of Speer 124 grain Gold Dot JHP, Federal 115 grain FMJ, and Brown Bear 115 grain FMJ.  So far I've had zero malfunctions.

My second range trip was yesterday, to verify the zero on my Norinco 84S AK in 5.56x45.  This was also the first time shooting it since swapping the furniture for some Romanian wood I had laying around.  It feels a lot better with the shorter length of pull.

I'd been planning to use the Type 84S in LRGC's upcoming Red, White and Blue Kalashnikov match.  Unfortunately, I had a couple of malfunctions for which I'm not certain of the cause, so it looks like I'll probably shoot my Yugo M70AB2T instead.

One thing which pleased me with the Norinco is that it's definitely more accurate than my AKs in 7.62x39.  I think this is probably due to the Prvi Partisan 5.56mm ammo being made better than the Russian 7.62x39 I generally shoot.  It would be interesting to see how well the Yugo or my Arsenal SLR-101 would shoot with American made ammo, but it's expensive.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Motorola Droid Phone

Thursday on Thanksgiving my brother came over with his new cell phone, a Motorola Droid on Verizon.  I caught a bad case of geek envy and wound up getting one of my own on Black Friday.

Although I've been happy with my Verizon BlackBerry 8330 I've been interested in something better.  Apple's iPhone was interesting but I have zero desire to switch to AT&T, whose 3G network is not nearly as widespread as Verizon's.  I also don't like the idea of a non-swappable battery.

Aside from a better wireless network, the Android has a slide out QWERTY keyboard which you can use instead of the touchscreen keyboard.  The keys are small but usable, at least for me.  It would be better if the keys weren't flat, i.e., if there was a more pronounced edge or space between adjacent keys.  There's also a square trackpad/scroll thingy on the keyboard for screen navigation.

The 3.7" screen is very nice, clear and sharp.  This is the first phone I've seen with virtual desktops, three total.

Of course, the Droid has a camera.  Resolution is good at 5 MP.  It also takes video.  I haven't done much with either yet but if I plan on taking pics I'll be grabbing my Nikon S560, not my phone.

The hardware seems like it has plenty of power.  When connected to my home WiFi network browsing, checking email, and downloading applications all go very fast.  Browsing on Verizon's 3G network is a bit faster than it was on my BlackBerry; it appears that pages render faster on the Droid.

I've only made a couple phone calls but quality seems fine.


The Droid uses the new Micro USB connector for charging or connections to a computer.  This is good in that it's a new standard across cell phone brands but bad for me in that I had to shell out for a new car charger.  C'est la vie.

Overall, the hardware feels very solid and well made.

So far I've mostly been using the Droid like a pocket computer, at which it is quite a bit more advanced than my BlackBerry.  The applications which I've installed are:

- Dolphin browser.  (Supports multi-touch like an iPhone.)
- Google Finance. (So I can watch my portfolio crater.)
- GPS App. (Gives you a compass and other stuff.)
- My Verizon. (Basically a shortcut to my online VZW account.)
- Weather Channel.
- OneKey Terminator. (Provides one touch killing of all open apps, in case your phone gets sluggish due to having too many open.)
- ScanLife barcode scanner. (Allows you to scan bar codes and look them up online. In the case of books takes you to the Google Books entry.)
- OI File Manager. (File manager for your SD card. The Droid comes with a 16 GB card.)
- Wardrive. (Scans for and detects wifi networks then stores them in a map database.)
- Wifi Toggle Widget. (Adds a one touch widget to the home screen to enable/disable WiFi.  This is handy because leaving WiFi on when you're not using it eats battery life.)
- Star Wars Sounds & Ringtones. (I'm in tech. Being a Star Wars nerd is pretty much required.)
- CIDR Calculator. (For calculating subnets and masks.)
- AK Notepad.
- ConnectBot. (SSH and Telnet client.)
- Tricorder. (Displays gravitation and magnetic field, environmental and geographic information, including a compass.  Also has a WiFi monitoring mode. The GUI is styled after the tricorders in ST:TNG.)

All of the above apps can be found in the Android Market, accessible through on Android phone.

I've also also using the included email, Gmail, Facebook, Google Maps, and YouTube apps, all of which work smoothly.  The Google Maps Navigation feature turns the phone into a car GPS.  If I was Garmin, Magellan, or a similar company I'd be concerned.

Like the iPhone, tethering is not yet supported on the Droid.  As I understand it, Verizon will be supporting tethering sometime in the Spring.  While I occasionally used tethering on my BlackBerry I doubt I'll spring for it with the Droid, saving myself about $15/month.

Since getting the Droid yesterday it's been hard to put down.  For gadget freaks this thing will be like crack.  For computer geeks like myself it's simply amazing.  Jerry Pournelle has said that his iPhone is almost the manifestation of the pocket computers from The Mote in God's Eye.   The Droid is another version of the same thing.

Edit 11/29/09: Thanks to a Facebook friend, I now can tether my Droid to my MacBook Pro or Hobbit (my MSI Wind netbook) using PDANet, even though Verizon does not yet officially support tethering the Droid.   PDANet supports only Bluetooth tethering on Mac and Linux, while Windows users can install a desktop client and use USB tethering.  Speeds on the Mac were slow, around 100k to 300k.  On Hobbit, though, it's around a 1 Mb connection, which is very usable.  Best part?  No monthly fee.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hide the Decline



LOL.

More Analysis of the Leaked Docs from Hadley

ESR has been digging into the docs leaked from the Hadley CRU.  This in particular is damaging:

From the CRU code file osborn-tree6/briffa_sep98_d.pro , used to prepare a graph purported to be of Northern Hemisphere temperatures and reconstructions.
;
; Apply a VERY ARTIFICAL correction for decline!!
;
yrloc=[1400,findgen(19)*5.+1904]
valadj=[0.,0.,0.,0.,0.,-0.1,-0.25,-0.3,0.,- 0.1,0.3,0.8,1.2,1.7,2.5,2.6,2.6,$
2.6,2.6,2.6]*0.75 ; fudge factor
if n_elements(yrloc) ne n_elements(valadj) then message,’Oooops!’
;
yearlyadj=interpol(valadj,yrloc,timey)

As Eric notes, this is purely manipulation of data to get the desired result.  This isn't science.  This is propaganda.

Edit: The Geek has some additional thoughts.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Open Sourcing the Climate Change Debate

ESR posts regarding the data leak from the Hadley CRU:

In the open-source software community, we understand about human error and sloppiness and the tendency to get too caught up in a pet theory. We know that the most effective way way to combat these tendencies is transparency of process — letting the code speak for itself, and opening the sources to skeptical peer review by anyone.

There is only one way to cut through all of the conflicting claims and agendas about the CRU’s research: open-source it all. Publish the primary data sets, publish the programs used to interpret them and create graphs like the well-known global-temperature “hockey stick”, publish everything. Let the code and the data speak for itself; let the facts trump speculation and interpretation.

If the AGW advocates are confident in their position they will disclose their data.  When you consider the ramifcations of global warming, including drastic new taxation schemes, there really is no alternative for informed debate and consideration.  If they refuse we can reasonably presume they are being less than forthright with their data, analysis, and agenda.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Democrats Then and Now

A Democrat then (President Grover Cleveland's address to Congress, 12/6/1887):

When we consider that the theory of our institutions guarantees to every citizen the full enjoyment of all the fruits of his industry and enterprise, with only such deduction as may be his share toward the careful and economical maintenance of the Government which protects him, it is plain that the exaction of more than this is indefensible extortion and a culpable betrayal of American fairness and justice ... The public Treasury, which should only exist as a conduit conveying the people's tribute to its legitimate objects of expenditure, becomes a hoarding place for money needlessly withdrawn from trade and the people's use, thus crippling our national energies, suspending our country's development, preventing investment in productive enterprise, threatening financial disturbance, and inviting schemes of public plunder.



A Democrat (Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, 2009) now, when questioned on where the Federal government gets its Constitutional authority for healthcare reform:

Are you serious?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hadley Climate Change Research Unit Hacked

From the Examiner:

The University of East Anglia's Hadley Climatic Research Centre appears to have suffered a security breach earlier today, when an unknown hacker apparently downloaded 1079 e-mails and 72 documents of various types and published them to an anonymous FTP server. These files appear to contain highly sensitive information that, if genuine, could prove extremely embarrassing to the authors of the e-mails involved. Those authors include some of the most celebrated names among proponents of the theory of anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

(The original FTP link is down.  The ZIP archive is now on BitTorrent.)

If this turns out to be legit,  it'll be the equivalent of the Pentagon Papers for the Anthropogenic Climate Change swindle.

Edit:  The leaked materials appear to be genuine. More coverage here, here, and here.

Edit 2: Fox has picked up on it.

The Dollar Carry Trade

There's been a lot of buzz in financial news and blogs in the past few months about the dollar carry trade.  The dollar carry trade can be defined as:

...low U.S. interest rates enable investors around the globe to borrow dollars for next to nothing and invest them elsewhere at higher rates.

This bet -- known as the dollar carry trade -- appears to be one of the forces pushing down value of the dollar. Though there are few reliable figures on the size of the carry trade, the dollar's trend has clearly been down since stock and bond markets revived.

Link.   A big problem with having the dollar as a carry trade currency is that while the Fed can pump lots of money into the markets, it has no control over where those dollars go.  Because investors are able to buy dollars cheaply they can invest them in assets denominated in other currencies for a higher return.  Another consequence of this is declining faith in the dollar, further causing its devaluation relative to other currencies.

Google Trends has an interesting graph reflecting a recent uptick in interest in the dollar carry trade:



One thing that's quite interesting is where these queries originated.  In order: India, the USA, and then the UK.   Earlier this month, India bought 200 tons of gold from the IMF, half the amount the latter had planned to sell to raise money to assist poor nations.

It looks to me like a lot of people outside the US are looking at the monetary policy  of the Obama Administration and the Fed and asking, "WTF?!"

Look around your house and see what's made overseas.  Virtually all consumer goods ranging from your PC to your clothes to the gas in your car.  Now ask yourself what will happen if the dollar crashes and you want to buy more.  That's right, the price of imported goods is going to rise.

In our consumer based economy that's a recipe for disaster, especially when it's lumped on top of high unemployment, cratering real estate values, and the tax increases planned by the Democrats.

Have a nice weekend.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

National Ammo Day November 19th

Just a reminder that November 19th is National Ammo Day.  This was started a few years ago by Kim du Toit as a BUYcott.  To wit:

The goal of National Ammo Day is to empty the ammunition from the shelves of your local gun store, sporting goods, or hardware store and put that ammunition in the hands of law-abiding citizens.  Make your support of the Second Amendment known--by voting with your dollars!

Now, this year is a bit unusual in the Americans have been on a guns and ammo purchasing binge since Obama won the election in 2008.  And we certainly did empty the shelves.   As a result, in many places ammo in most popular calibers is still in short supply.  The situation is getting better, however.   Unfortunately, with the economy in the tank and with no recovery in sight, it's more difficult for a lot of folks to buy in.  Participate if you can.

I made my contribution last night in the form of an order for a 1000 round case of Brown Bear 7.62x39 FMJ.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Survivor of Socialism Has Warning for America

{H/T Alphecca}

The South Dakota Family Policy Council sponsored a speech tonight at First Assembly of God in Rapid City by Kitty Werthmann of Eagle Forum in South Dakota.

The presentation was entitled “Socialism vs Freedom” and was a part of the SDFPC “Heritage Under Attack” series.

Werthmann is the head of the South Dakota chapter of Eagle Forum, and was born in Austria. Werthmann lived for seven years under the Nazi rule of Austria, eventually coming to the United States in 1950 to become a naturalized citizen in 1962.

...

Austria had private health care prior to the Nazis, and the quality was good. But the government took over the health care system, and when health care became “free” the doctors quickly became overloaded by frivolous use of the system.  Surgeries of a more important nature, however, had waiting lists of about 18 months because of all the “hypochondriacs” abusing the system.


...


Welfare became a “huge apparatus,” said Werthmann. Everyone had access to subsidized housing, food stamps, heating subsidies and many other benefits until everyone–regardless of salary–reached the prescribed standard of living.


...


Austria also received gun control. Many people in Austria hunted, but the government said there were too many hunting and other types of gun-related accidents, and too much crime. So the people were forced to register their guns. The government then said the accident and crime problem didn’t improve, so the people would have to give up their guns.

“Keep your guns,” said Werthmann. “And buy more guns. And make sure you have plenty of ammunition.”


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

End the Clinton Military Base Gun Ban

Thanks, Bubba.

Time after time, public murder sprees occur in "gun-free zones" - public places where citizens are not legally able to carry guns. The list is long, including massacres at Virginia Tech and Columbine High School along with many less deadly attacks. Last week's slaughter at Fort Hood Army base in Texas was no different - except that one man bears responsibility for the ugly reality that the men and women charged with defending America were deliberately left defenseless when a terrorist opened fire.

Among President Clinton's first acts upon taking office in 1993 was to disarm U.S. soldiers on military bases. (Emphasis added.) In March 1993, the Army imposed regulations forbidding military personnel from carrying their personal firearms and making it almost impossible for commanders to issue firearms to soldiers in the U.S. for personal protection. For the most part, only military police regularly carry firearms on base, and their presence is stretched thin by high demand for MPs in war zones.

Because of Mr. Clinton, terrorists would face more return fire if they attacked a Texas Wal-Mart than the gunman faced at Fort Hood [where civilians may legally carry a concealed firearm with a permit].

It seems that the hoplophobes need to be reminded that the Army is indeed part of our armed forces.  At a minimum, officers and NCOs should wear loaded sidearms while on duty.  This would enable immediate response to attacks from terrorists or gard variety crazies.

{H/T Alphecca}

Monday, November 09, 2009

Windows 7 on the MSI Wind U100 Netbook

Earlier this week I decided to install Windows 7 on Hobbit, my MSI Wind netbook PC.  Hobbit shipped with Windows XP Home SP3 installed, to which I added Ubuntu Linux in a dual boot configuration.

I have a couple reasons for installing Windows 7.  First, it's a much more up-to-date OS than XP.  In playing around with it at work I've been impressed.  Second, as an IT professional it behooves me to keep up with new technology.

To install Windows 7 on Hobbit, I first needed to acquire a USB optical drive.  I bought an LG Electronics GP08LU10 8X Slim LightScribe DVD+/-RW External Drive. (11/17/09 - Link updated from NewEgg to Amazon.)  Aside from creating the recovery media, booting DBAN from System Rescue CD, and installing W7, it will allow me to access optical media more conveniently on Hobbit.  (Previously, I've copied files from CDs and DVDs to a thumb drive using another computer, or accessed discs over the network.)

I then burned an XP recovery CD.  MSI ships the Wind with an XP recovery partition but no media.  They do include a utility to create a recovery disc. 

For my W7 install I wanted a clean slate, i.e., no OSes on Hobbit's hard drive.  I selected a Custom install, deleted the existing partitions, and created a 50 GB partition for C:\.  (I later formatted the remained of the drive as D:\ after I was up and running.)

The install went smoothly and all my hardware was detected.  After installing the Microsoft Security Essentials antivirus/antimalware suite, Firefox, and a few other apps, I used Hobbit over the weekend.  (My previous favorite AV program was AVG.  The last couple of versions have become increasingly bloated.  I've had good results with MS's offering.)

I am impressed.  Windows 7 runs very nicely on this hardware (1.6 GHz Atom CPU, 2 GB Kingston RAM, Intel 4965agn WiFi card).  In fact, I'd say it runs better on Hobbit than XP Home or Ubuntu 9.04 did.

So far so good.  I'll be using this setup frequently.  But if the initial impressions hold up I think MS has a winner on its hands.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Nice Day at the Range

I had a nice day at the range today.

The weatherman blew it again.  It was supposed to be in the 50s with a better than even chance of rain.  He got the temp right but it stayed overcast for most of the afternoon, then the sun came out at around 3:00 PM.  I have no complaints. :-)

I shot two of my rifles today.  The first was a Century Arms Yugoslavian M-70AB2T underfolder AK, while the second was my Century VZ-2008, a clone of the Czech VZ-58.  Ammo was Wolf Miltary Classic 7.62x39 FMJ, from an older lot with lacquered cases.

I started with the Yugo at 25 yards to get it on paper, since this was my first time shooting it since getting it two weeks ago.  Once that was accomplished I moved over to the 100 yard range to fine tune my zero.

Overall, I put around 100 rounds through the Yugo, mostly using the 30 round Tapco plastic magazine that it came with.  I had no malfunctions.  The front sight is bottomed out for elevation but that shouldn't be a problem.  It's a very pleasant, soft shooting rifle even with the underfolding stock.  I did wrap the right stock strut with 550 cord to make it more comfortable.  I'll probably do the left side as well.

I've had the VZ-58 for about a year.  It's a neat rifle often confused with an AK, since they look similar. However, the only thing they share in common is the cartridge they fire.  No parts are interchangeable, including the magazine, unfortunately.

This VZ-58 has given me problems in past outings, which I am hoping were caused by needing to break it in.  In prior trips to the range, I've had to "mortar" the rifle several times to get it to open after firing a round.  (This involves pulling down on the charging handle while you slam the butt on a hard surface.)  I put about 50 or 60 rounds through it today with no malfs, so I'm hoping its problems are over and done with.

The VZ-58 is lighter than the Yugo and has a different gas system.  The folding stock is not as comfortable as the Yugo's.  Overall, the Czech design jumps around more than the AK and smacks me in the cheek more.  I may swap the stock for the fixed variant to make it more comfortable to shoot.

Accuracy with both rifles is comparable.  Shooting slowly from a bench I can keep them in the black of an SR-1 target at 100 yards.  Shooting offhand or rapidly and my groups go to hell.  Open sights and a short sight radius make for imprecise shooting.  With a dot sight I would no doubt shoot much better, but for close-in work the irons will do.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Grumble, grumble

The weather for the past few days here in the Philadelphia area has been pretty crappy.  Rain, fog, some wind, but not too cold.  This morning as I was driving my daughters to preschool care I passed the bus stopfor the middle schoolers at the end of my street.  There were only about 1/3rd the regular number of kids standing on the corner.   The rest of them were waiting for their parents in their SUVs.

{Curmudgeon}

When I was in junior high I waited out for the bus no matter what the weather was.  In high school I walked to school in the rain or snow.  We had these things called RAINCOATS and UMBRELLAS.  We even had WINTER COATS.  We got to experience being cold and wet.  It made us appreciate being warm and dry.  It also made us more capable of dealing with adverse circumstances.

Nowadays, it's the end of the world if Junior gets wet or has to shiver a bit.  No wonder we're turning into a nation of pussies.

Bah!

{/Curmudgeon}

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dismantling America

As usual, Thomas Sowell nails it.

Just one year ago, would you have believed that an unelected government official, not even a Cabinet member confirmed by the Senate but simply one of the many "czars" appointed by the President, could arbitrarily cut the pay of executives in private businesses by 50 percent or 90 percent?

Did you think that another "czar" would be talking about restricting talk radio? That there would be plans afloat to subsidize newspapers-- that is, to create a situation where some newspapers' survival would depend on the government liking what they publish?

Go read the whole thing.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

LRGC Second Annual Zombie Shoot

Yesterday I attended Langhorne Rod & Gun Club's Second Annual Zombie Shoot.  Once again, the LRGC staff put on one hell of a fun and safe event.

I'll describe the event and then some impressions of gear that I used and saw in use.

This was a three gun shoot divided into several stages:

1. House of Horrors. In this stage, a team of two shooters had to clear three rooms of a zombie infestation within two and a half minutes.  There were about 40 zombies, each of which had to be killed with headshots.  Each shooter was given a full auto airsoft M-4 carbine fitted with a red dot, weapon light, laser and one magazine of about 130 rounds.  I don't know what the cyclic rate of the guns was, but it was fast.  Unless you fired short, controlled bursts, you'd run out of ammo before the stage was complete.

My partner and I cleared this stage without getting killed in one minute, forty two seconds.

2. Get the Ammo.  The scenario for this stage was that you're armed with a shotgun and need to make it past a eleven zombies to a car in which there's a case of ammo.  The three firing points in the stage were a car, simulated by a plywood cutout.  Mixed among the zombies were some no-shoot targets; you'd get "ripped"  for shooting a no-shoot target.

For this stage I used my Mossberg 500 Mariner 12 gauge.  I've made two mods to this gun: I replaced the factory stock with a Hogue youth-length stock for a 12" length of pull, and added a Brit surplus L1A1 sling in Uncle Mike's QD swivels.  Ammo was Remington Gun Club Number 7.5 shot low brass target loads (#7.5 was the largest size permitted.)  I cleared the 11 zombes in 10 shots and avoided all the no-shoots.

3. Apartment.  In this stage, you've been holed up in an apartment (really the 50 yard range) since the zombie outbreak and ran low on supplies.  You needed to go out and replenish them, but as soon as you exited through your apartment door, you ran into about 10 zombies, which you had to take care of with your pistol.  After clearing these zombies, you needed to put two rounds from your pistol into each of four more zombies, in this case represented by steel plates of various sizes.  After this, you find that you've run across one of your neighbors who has succumbed to the zombies but thoughtfully left a shotgun and some ammo behind for you.  You don't know what condition the shotgun is in (since before running the stage you give it to one of the staff along with some shells), but you need to engage four zombies (the aforementioned steel plates) with one shot each.

I ran this stage with my Springfield XD-9 pistol and Federal 115 grain FMJ, and the Mossberg.  Staff loaded the shotgun with two rounds, after which I singled loaded the follow up rounds through the ejection port.  This stage had a one minute time limit which I barely made.

4. Melee. Here, you had to engage four zeds with a bayonet, then get at least two sticks in a log target with throwing axes, out of 12 tries.  Both were provided  The bayonet was attached to a Model 1891/30 Mosin-Nagant.  Again, I made it through this stage.

5. Onslaught/Horde. This was the rifle event, consisting of two 60 round sub-stages.  In the first, your team of four or five shooters has to engage two onrushing zombies, one swinger, and a bunch of zombie paper targets.  Kill zone for the targets was the brain or spine.  One shooter fired offhand and took care of the onrushing zeds and the swinger, while the others shooting from kneeling or prone took care of the paper zombies.

The second part was firing at a horde of zombie paper targets from 100 yards, from behind a barricade made of the shooting benches upended.  Again, only brain or spine shots counted, and if any targets weren't killed, a precision rifle shooter had to make up the difference, but his targets were paintballs.  Luckily, my platoon did not leave any zombies alive, so our precision shooter didn't have to engage.

My rifle for this stage was my Colt Government Model AR15-A2 Carbine (model AR6520), fitted with a Trijicon Reflex II sight with the amber triangle reticle and an Israeli patrol sling.  Magazines were 30 round Magpul P-Mags and ammo was Prvi Partizan M-193 Ball.

Support gear:

When shooting in an action rifle/pistol/shotgun match, you need someway to carry your guns an ammo.  I prefer simple gear which is easier to setup and has less to go wrong.  Aside from the simple slings on my long guns, I use a USGI M-9 holster, attached to my pistol belt.  Also on my pistol belt is a pouch for two pistol mags, two GI surplus 30 round M-16 magazine pouches, and a small flapped pouch holding a Victorinox Farmer Swiss Army Knife and Countycomm Peanut Lighter, both of which are dummy corded to the belt with some paracord.  Holding all this up is a set of M-1956 H-suspenders.  (The M-16 mag pouches, belt, and suspenders are leftovers from my Civil Air Patrol days back in the 1980s, but they work and aren't hot like a tactical vest in the Summer.)

Clothes:

The weather yesterday was bad awful.  The temperature was about 60 degrees F., but it rained virtually all day.  Precipitation ranged from occassional nothing to downpour.  So, wet weather gear was essential.

On top of my regular clothes (jeans, a wicking t-shirt, and a long sleeve cotton t-shirt), I wore a German military surplus rain parka and matchin rain pants.  Both are made with a breathable membrane similar to Gore-Tex, and are in the German flecktarn camo pattern.  They work great to keep the rain and wind out and mud off your pants.  Based on past experience, they also work well as an outer layer in snow.  However, you still sweat and so I wound up getting wet just from that.  If I had to stay out overnight I would've been in trouble due to the sweat buildup, wicking undergarments are a necessity if you need to stay out in this kind of weather.

Good footwear is essential.  I wore REI merino wool hiking socks and a pair of Merrell lightweight hiking boots, which are waterproof.  My feet stayed dry and comfortable all day, even after sloshing through a lot of mud puddles.

Other observations:

I need to find some more of the anti-fog wipes I used last year when I went and played paintball with my friends.  My glasses kept fogging, rendering me near blind in the final rifle stage.

It may be 60 degrees and raining but you better stay hydrated.  Thankfully, we didn't have any dehydration cases, AFAIK.

One guy showed up with a pistol grip only Mossberg 500.  Unless you're breaching doors and using your shotgun as a master key, put a shoulder stock on the gun.  Really.

It is better to know how to run your gun than to have 7 pounds of bolt on tacticool gear and not know how to run it.  I saw problems with guys with bead sighted shotguns shooting high, because they weren't keeping their heads down on the stock.

Running your gun when it's wet and your soaked is harder than when it's dry.  When I had to clear my XD-9 at the end of the Apartment stage I had a difficult time racking the slide because it was so slippery.  I didn't have problems shooting the gun but clearing it was a challenge.

If you get your gun wet, unless it's properly coated with a good rust inhibitor, guess what you'll see if you wait to dry it and clean it.  Today one of the other shooters posted a picture of his Remington 870 Express to the LRGC mail list.  He had to wait several hours before cleaning his gun, and all the while it was in its case.  The receiver was mottled with rust.  Regular automotive paste wax is supposed to help prevent this.

After getting home last night I was too pooped to clean my guns but I didn't want them sitting in their cases.  So, I laid them out in my den where they could dry overnight.  This morning the only gun with any traces of rust was, ironically, the Mossberg Mariner, which had gotten throroughly waterlogged.  The sling swivels showed some discoloration, as did parrt of the safety mechanism on the inside.  Both cleaned up quickly with some WD-40.

Prizes:

This event was sponsored by Geiselle Automatics, DPMS, Evolution Gun Works, Rogue Elite, Tapco, and Area 51 Tactical (I may have missed one or two).  After checking in following completion of all stages, you were issued a raffle ticket based on how well you did.  Then, tickets were drawn and shooters were allowed to pick from a passle of prizes.  Shooters with no rips went first, guys with two rips next, and so on.

By the time my ticket was drawn the big prizes (A DPMS M-4 upper, an EGW AR-15 upper, and a Pentagon weapon light) were already taken.  I got to take home a grab bag with several AR-15 accessories from CAA.  The bag included a vertical front grip fro attaching to an M-1913 rail, a light mount/grip which attaches to a M1913 rail, a magazine coupler, and an M-4 stock cheekpiece saddle, along with a couple of pens from Area 51 Tactical.  I added the cheekpiece to my Colt's stock today and it feels pretty nice.  The mag coupler fits USGI mags, P-Mags seemed a bit too tight without forcing things.  At this time none of my rifles have M-1913 Picatinny rails, so the vertical grip and light mount remain in the bag.

Additionally, I was given an Eotac Field Jacket by my friend at Rogue Elite.  This is combat smock based on a 1950s French pattern, in a reproduction of their Lizard camo.  It's a fine jacket which merits a separate post.

Pics/Vids:

I brought my camera and took some pics, the best of which I've uploaded to a Picasa Web Album, here.

Arfcommer "discworld717" took some videos with a helmet cam, you can see them on YouTube, here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

MAJOR Bug in Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard

There is a MAJOR bug in Snow Leopard.

Computerworld - Snow Leopard users have reported that they've lost all their personal data when they've logged into a "Guest" account after upgrading from Leopard, according to messages on Apple's support forum.

The bug, users said in a well-read thread on Apple's support forum, resets all settings on the Mac, resets all applications' settings and erases the contents of critical folders containing documents, photos and music.

...

Specifically, Snow Leopard's home directory -- the one sporting the name of the Mac's primary user -- is replaced with a new, empty copy after users log-in to a Guest account, log out, then log-in to their standard account. All the standard folders -- Documents, Downloads, Music, Picture and others -- are empty, while the Desktop and Dock have reverted to an "out-of-box" condition.


Full story here.


The best way to prevent getting bit by this bug is to go into System Preferences > Accounts and disable the Guest account.  I also recommend disabling Guest access to shared folders.

Hopefully, Apple will fix this in OS 10.6.2.  In the meantime go disable your Guest account if it is still enabled.

Friday, October 09, 2009

QOTD

"When small men begin to cast big shadows, it means that the sun is about to set."


--Dr. Lin Yutang

Gallup: Record Low Level of Support for More Gun Control

Mirroring the news from Rasmussen earlier this week:

PRINCETON, NJ -- Gallup finds a new low of 44% of Americans saying the laws covering firearm sales should be made more strict. That is down 5 points in the last year and 34 points from the high of 78% recorded the first time the question was asked, in 1990.

Link.

Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize and World Asks, "WTF?"

Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize today.  I had to check the date to make sure it's not April first.

FOR WHAT?

What has he accomplished on the international stage?  Where has he brought peace?

He's engaged in a worldwide apology tour, spouted off some pie in the sky horsecrap about a world free of nuclear arms (about the most surefire way to ensure we have another world war, BTW), and hung Israel out to dry?

Seriously, WTF?

Edit: Fark.com's headline on this is priceless:

"Barack Obama linked to terrorist Yasser Arafat"

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Fifty Percent of Americans Oppose Stricter Gun Laws

From Rasmussen:

Just 39% of Americans now say the United States needs stricter gun control, as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to review the constitutionality of state and local anti-gun laws.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 50% are opposed to stricter gun control laws, and 11% are not sure.

...


Seventy-one percent (71%) of Americans continue to believe that the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right of an average citizen to own a gun.

Back in March, 43% favored stricter gun laws.

Americans are catching on to the fact that gun control is in fact counterproductive when it comes to reducing crime.  I think this is probably due to a couple of factors.  First, Americans have seen the abject failure of strict gun control lawsin reducing crime, e.g., in Washington, D.C.  Second, the influence of the rabidly anti-RKBA mainstream media has been on the wane for several years.  People are less likely to buy the MSM/Democratic Party line on this issue anymore.

This is a good trend.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Reopening Survival & Emergency Preparedness Blog

I've decided to resume posting at my Survival & Emergency Preparedness blog.  Please check it out if these topics interest you.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Blackberry Desktop Manager for Mac

Last Friday, Research in Motion finally released the Blackberry Desktop Manager for Mac.

Heretofore, Mac users wanting to sync their BlackBerries with their Macs have had to use either PocketMac or Mark/Space's The Missing Sync.  The free PocketMac was a turd, to put it mildly.  In my experience it worked for a few syncs with my BlackBerry 8330 and then became very unstable.  The not-free Missing Sync was better but still buggy.  E.g., I kept running into calendar corruption issues.

In early September a late Beta of BDM for Mac leaked onto the 'net.  I downloaded it and gave it a try and it seemed to work OK.  While TMS allowed me only to sync, BDM can also backup the BlackBerry and upgrade the device's firmware.  So far, so good.

I'm glad to see RIM finally paying more attention to Mac users.  Not all of us have iPhones.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Obama's Healthcare Lies

Fact-checking POTUS' speech to Congress:

It is a good thing that other congressmen did not follow Rep. Joe Wilson’s lead. If they yelled out every time President Obama said something untrue about health care, they would quickly find themselves growing hoarse.

Obama's speech did nothing more than continue his campaign of dissimulation.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

New MacBook Pro

After several years of using my personally owned Mac laptops for work, I decided recently to let my employer pay for wear and tear.  (An influencing factor is my increasing need to connect my machine to the company network, instead of just the lab network.)  My old company laptop is a 2004 vintage Dell Latitude D600, which was a good machine five years ago but after our IT folks implemented full-disk encryption, began running like crap.  Even with the RAM maxxed out at 2 GB, it is painfully slow to use.

Thankfully, getting approval for Mac laptops has gotten much easier in the past couple of years.  Most users in my company could use a Mac since the primary applications used are Word and Excel.  Our email system is MS Exchange with WebDAVS enabled, so Entourage works as an Exchange client.  The main office apps which don't run on OS X are Project and Visio.  I rarely need to view Project documents and when I do, ask for a copy in PDF or JPEG format.  When I need to work with Viso files I either use OmniGraffle Pro or run Visio on XP inside of a virtual machine.

My justification for a Mac instead of a Dell was twofold: (a) is required to run Apple's OS X Server Admin utilities, and (b) has a native implementation of X11.

It doesn't hurt that the Dell Latitudes we buy cost about as much as a MacBook Pro, so cost really isn't a factor.

Anyway, my new machine came in last week and I picked it up Thursday afternoon.  I finished moving my stuff over to it yesterday.  It's a mid-level unibody MacBook Pro with these specs:

* 15.4" glossy screen
* 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo CPU
* 4 GB of RAM
* 320 GB hard disk
* SuperDrive
* 802.11n AirPort Extreme wifi card
* Gigabit Ethernet
* 2x USB 2.0 ports
* 1x FireWire 800 (IEEE-1394b) port, backward compatible with FW-400
* 1X card reader
* Mini-display port

Along with the laptop I got an Apple keyboard and a Mini-display to DVI adapter.  I need to get a Mini-display to VGA adapter.  I'm using a $15 Logitech mouse, since I don't like Apple mice.

The software load was OS 10.5.8 (the recovery discs have 10.5.7), MS Office 2008, Parallels Desktop v4 with an XP Pro virtual machine already setup and loaded with Office 2007, and Cisco VPN client.  IT is integrating our Macs with our Windows domain using the Directory Utility, and have also installed MacFuse, which I assume is to assist with accessing our Windows file servers.

Yesterday I upgraded the machine to Snow Leopard.  After using it on Rohan, there are a few features which I found I really liked and didn't want to be without.  For example, Expose works better in 10.6 than previous versions of OS X and overall, the system is a bit faster.  If the machine needs IT's attention they'll reimage it with Leopard, but I do not foresee this happening.

The hardware is beautiful and I've gotten used to the keyboard, though I think I still like Rohan's keyboard better. I LOVE the new clickable trackpad, and have configured it so that pressing the lower right hand corner is the same as a right-click.  Finally and Apple laptop with a right mouse button!

The screen is absolutely gorgeous.  Text is crisp and colors are really vibrant.  So far I haven't had any problems with glare under the flourescent lighting in our office or incandescents at home.

The new machine seems to run cooler than Rohan, judging both by the temperatures reported by iStat Menus and how it feels to the touch.

Battery life seems good, but I am still not thrilled with the idea of a laptop battery that is not easily user replaceable.  However, if it comes to the point where the battery needs replacement, I get to pawn the job off on someone else.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Popular Mechanics on Emergency Preparedness

Short article here.  Conspicuously absent is mention of firearms and the knowledge to use them, which is a little surprising given PM's generally pro-gun bent.

Letterbox Beta 4 for Snow Leopard

I use Mail.app as my primary email client.  One thing it's missing is the ability to take advantage of today's widescreen monitors by placing the folder list, message list, and preview pane side by side.  Aaron Harnly's Letterbox extension for Mail takes care of that.  Beta 4 for Snow Leopard is out and I just installed it.

So far, so good.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Range Day

We had a beautiful day yesterday and I was able to get out to the range for about an hour and a half. I brought a few toys with me: my Old Model Ruger Single Six in .22 LR, Ruger 50th Anniversary Blackhawk in .357, and my Remington 870 Wingmaster.

I started off with the Wingmaster since I haven't practiced with a HD shotgun in awhile. My 870 has a 20" cylinder bore barrel with rifle sights. I had a few different loads with me, a box each of Remington Slugger rifled slugs and 00 buckshot, and a box each of Federal Vital Shock Tru-Ball slugs and 00 buckshot in their Flite Control wads. Both the Federal loads were of the reduced recoil variety.

All rounds were fired at 25 yards. The Sluggers grouped in the 10 ring of an SR-1 military target with a 6 o'clock hold, while the reduced recoil loads have a point of impact about 6" higher at that range. This is because they achieve less recoil with lower muzzle velocity. This results in their spending more time in the barrel.  Thus, they leave the barrel while it's raised higher from the still significant recoil.

The Federal buckshot patterns into about a foot at 25 yards from this barrel (and also in my cylinder bore Mossberg Mariner). It might do a bit better in a barrel with some choke, but this is good enough for my needs.

The Remington 870 has a factory recoil pad, which is less punishing than a hard buttplate, but these loads all have significant kick.  Before shooting, I therefore put on my PAST Field Recoil Shield.   This is a rubber pad about 3/8" thick and makes a noticeable difference.  Even so, after 15 rounds I'd had enough. I wound up not shooting the Remington buckshot.

A budget minded person could do a lot worse for a one gun battery if he got a used Remington 870 with a short barrel for home defense, and a long barrel with choke tubes for hunting and shooting at clays.

As always the Ruger single actions were fun to shoot. I ran some Federal bulk pack 36 grain high speeds through the Single Six, and some Winchester .38 Special 148 grain wadcutters through the Blackhawk.

Adapt and Improvise

When law abiding people are subjected to oppressive gun laws which make it difficult to obtain weapons, accessories, and ammo, they improvise.  Over at the Firearm Blog there are a couple of posts describing how a gun enthusiast in Nigeria is making the best of a bad situation.

According to the first post, Nigeria's gun control laws are very strict and civilians are pretty much limited to shotguns.  Unfortunately, Emmanuel was only able to obtain a Turkish made shotgun with a pistol grip stock, sans butt stock.  Pistol grip only (AKA "PGO") shotguns have very limited use.  Compared with a shotgun having a conventional stock, a PGO shotgun is much harder to shoot well.  Improvising with a piece of steel rod and a walking stick, Emmanuel made a butt stock so that he can more effectively use his shotgun.

In the second post, Emmanuel recounts how the only ammunition available is birdshot.  Birdshot is fine for birds and small game but a poor choice for self defense.  It doesn't offer enough penetration to reliably reach vital organs and stop a determined aggressor.

Once again, Emmauel improvised.  Using a metal plate, a nut and a bolt, to make a mold, he extracts the birdshot from shells, melts them, and casts his own slugs.

Go check out the links, they are worth your time.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

9/12 Washington, DC Tea Party

Over at Reason.com Matt Welch reported from the 9/12 Washington, DC Tea Party:

* Big crowd. Do not believe any description that says "thousands." If there weren't at least a healthy six figures there, I will permanently revoke my head-counting license.

Picture here.

* Nineteen out of 20 signs were hand-made.
My reaction to that picture: Holy crap!

The Obama, Pelosi, and Reid et al. better wake up.  If they can motivate Libertarians and Conservatives to take to the streets in these numbers, they are pissing off the majority of the American people.  How many Americans who didn't attend agree with those who did?  I'll bet it's about 10 non-attendees to each participant.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Snow Leopard Impressions

Now that I've been using Snow Leopard for a few days I have some impressions to share.

GOOD

Boots fast.

Applications run faster.

More free disk space.  Snow Leopard is smaller BUT it also changes the way it calculates used and free disk space.  Under Leopard Finder showed there being about 322 GB free.  Under Snow Leopard it's about 353 GB free.

Updated Expose is nicer in that it aligns the small windows to grid.  Also, clicking and holding on an open application's dock icon pops up small windows for each running instance.  (Similar to Windows 7.)

AddressBook now syncs with Gmail Contacts, even if you don't have an iPhone.
AirPort drop down menu now has signal strength indicators.

ANNOYANCES

The Apple server administration utilities were wiped out by the upgrade.

Still waiting for Letterbox extension for Mail.app to be made compatible.  Letterbox allows viewing of the mailbox list, message list, and preview pane side by side.  Apple should incorporate this functionality into Mail.

Had to re-setup Bluetooth pairing with my Blackberry 8330.

Had to reconfigure Bluetooth Dialup Networking (DUN) with my Blackberry.  In the Advanced properties of the Bluetooth connection, had to set up the Modem as Generic Dialup Device.

In Mail, Apple changed the keyboard shortcut to empty the Trash from CMD-K to SHIFT-CMD-BACKSPACE.

The polls on AR15.com do not work in Safari 4.0.3.  The boxes to select an option do not appear.  Oh well, back to Firefox.

Snow Leopard ships with a version of the Adobe Flash Player which has vulnerabilities.  You need to go to http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/ to get the most current patched version.   


STILL WAITING TO TRY

My exployer hopes to migrate to Exchange 2007 by the end of 2009.  Until then I will not be able to try the Exchange integration in Mail, iCal, and AddressBook.  I'd like to dump Entourage if it works well.

Remembering September 11, 2001

There really isn't anything I can say this year that I haven't said in past years.  Please just take some time today to remember those we lost eight years ago.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Snow Leopard

I am now running Mac OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" on Rohan, my MacBook Pro.  Previous Mac OS upgrades (10.3 to 10.4, and 10.4 to 10.5) went very smoothly.  Not so this time.

In preparation for the upgrade I uninstalled programs which I knew would be incompatible: e.g., CrossOver v7 and iSlayer Menus.  I then used OnyX to run a full system optimization, including cleaning out various caches and verifying the hard disk.

The Snow Leopard installer crashed on my three times with a message that an error had occurred.  Reviewing the installer log didn't reveal anything out of the ordinary.

On the third reboot the install finished (it appeared to pick up where it left off after each prior reboot).  Once logging in, SL informed me that incompatible software had been disabled and moved to the /Incompatible Software folder.  A Read Me file in that folder stated that Parallels Desktop 2.5 had been disabled.

Apparently, when I uninstalled Parallels Desktop 2.5 (probably last year), the uninstaller did not remove its kernel extensions.  (Thanks, Parallels. Grrr.)  When I replaced the hard disk in the machine recently, I first cloned the disk using SuperDuper!, which brought over those obsolete .kexts.  I suspect that the presence of these kernel extensions caused problems with the upgrade.

Anyway, we're now up and running.  I haven't used it enough to start making observations but will do so as time permits.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Unemployment

This is not from some tinfoiler:

The real US unemployment rate is 16 percent if persons who have dropped out of the labor pool and those working less than they would like are counted, a Federal Reserve official said Wednesday.
"If one considers the people who would like a job but have stopped looking -- so-called discouraged workers -- and those who are working fewer hours than they want, the unemployment rate would move from the official 9.4 percent to 16 percent, said Atlanta Fed chief Dennis Lockhart. (Emphasis added.)

Full story.

Green shoots, my ass.

Chromium on Mac

This morning I installed the latest build of Chromium for Mac.  This is the port of Google's Chrome browser to OS X.  It's still considered alpha code.  It appeared to stall when trying to import my Firefox bookmarks.  However, after I killed it and relaunched, it's been running OK for a little while.  So far the only pages I've used it for have been Google, Google Reader and links therefrom, Facebook, and now Blogger.  No issues yet. Strike that. It had problems processing things when I hit the "Publish Post" button for this post.  I.e., nothing happened.

Like Chrome on Windows, Chromium is very fast.  If anything weird pops up I'll make a note of it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Denninger Knocks One Out of the Park

Will It All Come Tumbling Down?

A couple key points from the piece:


So let me see if I get this right.  
At 5% of non-performing loans a bank is at risk of being insolvent.
But the entire banking system in The United States had its non-performing loan ratio increase from 5.58% in the first quarter to 6.49% in the second, a record, and higher than the 5% level at which the survival of a bank(ing system) is threatened with collapse.
...
Here's reality folks: 
The system still has too much non-performing debt in it, and that percentage is going up, not down.  
It is getting worse, not better.
...
But there is a mathematical limit to this sort of papering over of control frauds.  It cannot go on forever; we do not have the ability to tax or borrow an infinite amount of money.  Unemployment will not ease and true production and consumption cannot resume at a normal level when a trillion dollars or more is being stolen every year to cover up these scams.
The entire piece is worth reading.

Even Nat Hentoff is Scared of Obama

Nat Hentoff, not exactly a member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, is scared of the Obama Administration.  He is right to be.

I was not intimidated during J. Edgar Hoover's FBI hunt for reporters like me who criticized him. I railed against the Bush-Cheney war on the Bill of Rights without blinking. But now I am finally scared of a White House administration. President Obama's desired health care reform intends that a federal board (similar to the British model) — as in the Center for Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation in a current Democratic bill — decides whether your quality of life, regardless of your political party, merits government-controlled funds to keep you alive. Watch for that life-decider in the final bill. It's already in the stimulus bill signed into law.

The members of that ultimate federal board will themselves not have examined or seen the patient in question. For another example of the growing, tumultuous resistance to "Dr. Obama," particularly among seniors, there is a July 29 Washington Times editorial citing a line from a report written by a key adviser to Obama on cost-efficient health care, prominent bioethicist Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel (brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel). 

 Go read the whole thing.

Pocket Computers

On one of the mailing lists where I participate, we were talking about pocket computers.   Jerry Pournelle has referred to his iPhone as approacing the pocket computers that he and Larry Niven wrote about in The Mote in God's Eye.
 
Similarly, my Blackberry 8330 approaches being a pocket computer, although there's no way to hook up an external mouse, monitor, and keyboard.  But it's a phone, still camera, video camera, GPS, and more.  Specs here.

An example of the usefulness of these capabilities occurred last weekend while my family was on an overnight getaway.  I have the Google Mobile apps installed.  I was able to use Google Maps to get a real-time traffic report for Marshall's Creek, PA, which is in the Poconos, well outside where you can get traffic reports on the radio.  I was also able to use the Google Maps search feature to find a place to stop for lunch.  (Note that while Verizon doesn't allow Google Maps to talk to the internal GPS, the app can give you a rough idea of your location by triangulating from cell towers.  If I need the GPS, I need to use the OEM Blackberry Maps application.  I am hoping this handicap is not present in my next phone.)

To heck with tablet PCs.  I've tried them and they are neither fish nor fowl.  They are too big to use comfortably without a keyboard.  If someone introduces a smart phone device to which you can connect a docking station with a mouse, keyboard, monitor, and Ethernet adapter, it'll be game changing.  You'll be able to take all of your data (or a large subset) with you, yet still be able to use a comfortable user interface when in the office.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

JOTD

"J" in this case refers to Jefferson, not Joke.

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.

–– Thomas Jefferson

Monday, August 17, 2009

More Astroturfing From the Left

First, we have a black man who created a fake Facebook account, posing as a white supremacist threatening to kill black people because Obama got elected.

Second, we have White House spokeswoman Linda Douglass basically admitting that they've reached a deal with Big Pharma to pimp Obamacare.

Third and Fourth, we have an Obama supporter falsely stating she's a doctor in support of Obamacare at a town hall meeting held by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), while at the same meeting Obama campaign activists share the front row with Dr. Fake.

So much for the transparency and high level of ethics the Democrats were supposed to bring to D.C.

"Keep your laws off my body!"

Obviously, the title of this post is a well known pro-choice slogan, which conveniently ignores the presence of a second person, i.e., the unborn child.

On the other hand, "Keep your laws off my body!" sums up my sentiment about the Federal government sticking its nose somewhere it doesn't belong: healthcare.

Have you ever danced?

An old prospector shuffled into town leading an old tired mule. The old man headed straight for the only saloon in town to clear his parched throat.

He walked up to the saloon and tied his old mule to the hitch rail. As he stood there brushing some of the dust from his face and clothes, a young gunslinger stepped out of the saloon with a gun in one hand and a bottle of whiskey in the other.

The young gunslinger looked at the old man and lau ghed, saying, 'Hey old man, have you ever danced?'

The old man looked up at the gunslinger and said, 'No, I never did dance, -- just never wanted to.'

A crowd had gathered quickly and the gunslinger grinned and said, 'Well, you old fool, you're gonna' dance now,' and started shooting at the old man's feet.

The old prospector, in order to not get a toe blown off or his boots perforated, was soon hopping around like a flea on a hot skillet and everybody was laughing fit to be tied.

When the last bullet had been fired the young gunslinger, still laughing, holstered his gun and turned around to go back in to the saloon.

The old man turned to his pack mule, pulled out a double barreled shotgun, and cocked both hammers back. The loud, audible double clicks carried clearly through the desert air.

The crowd stopped laughing immediately. The young gunslinger heard the sounds too, and he turned around very slowly. The quiet was almost deafening.

The crowd watched as the young gunman stared at the old timer and the large gaping holes of those twin barrels.

He found it hard to swallow. The barrels of the shotgun never wavered in the old man's hands.

The old man said, 'Son, did you ever kiss a mule's butt?'

The boy bully swallowed hard and said, 'No, sir. But I've always wanted to.'

There are two lessons for us all:

Don't waste ammunition.

Don't mess with old people.

Shipping Industry Circling the Drain?

From Speigel Online:

[T]he global financial and economic crisis has stifled the boom in container shipping, and it has happened almost overnight. For the first time in its history, the industry has stopped growing and, in fact, is shrinking. In the first six months of this year alone, the shipping industry declined by close to 16 percent.

Accompanying the article is this telling graph:


Decline in Shipping

The Obama Administration and its supporters in the media are fond of saying the economy is showing signs of recovery.  Shipping figures are a reflection of global demand for good, and those numbers continue to point to declining demand.  In a consumer-driven global economy, declining consumption is not a sign of recovery.  Quite the contrary, in fact.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Who's Astroturfing?

I would like to see a documented case of opponents of Obamacare engaging in astroturfing.  The Obama administration and the leftist press are quick to slime their opponents as pawns of right wing interest groups or of the GOP.  Actually, the GOP lacks the ability to generate this kind of grassroots outrage.  But ramming socialism down the throat of the American public has resulted in many people gagging on it, and the outbursts we've seen in the past few weeks are the result of when you push people beyond a certain point.

In contrast to the inept/nonexistent grassroots by the Republicans, the Democrats are very good at rabble rousing.  Take this Craigslist ad for example:

Craigslist Ad for Agitators

(Click the pic for full size.)

That's a screen capture I took today of an ad placed on the Washington, DC Craiglist, titled, "DEFEND President Obama's Health Care Plan over August Recess! $500+/wk (Capitol Hill)." Link. (Which will probably expire sometime this month.)

Even better, the ad was placed by The Fund for Public Interest, a non-profit to which various left-wing causes  outsource their fundraising.  The FFPI has a bad history of poorly treating their workers.  Link 1Link 2. Link 3.

Isn't exploiting the workers a tactic of the capitalist bourgeousie? {/sarcasm}

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Obamacare is going to SUCK if you're old or disabled

As quoted by the former mayor of NYC, Ed Koch, who is an Obama supporter:

Most alarming for people like me, who at 84 years of age recently needed a quadruple bypass and aortic valve replacement, are the pronouncements of President Obama's appointee, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, brother of Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who, according to a New York Post op ed article by Betsy McCauley, former Lt. Governor of the State of New York, stated, "Savings, he writes, will require changing how doctors think about their patients: Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath too seriously, 'as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of the cost or effects on others' (Journal of the American Medical Association, June 18, 2008)." He also stated, "...communitarianism' should guide decisions on who gets care. He says medical care should be reserved for the non-disabled, not given to those 'who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens...An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.' (Hastings Center Report, Nov.-Dec. '96). " (Emphasis added.)

Link.

If this doesn't sound to you like the early 20th Century's eugenicists, who had a great deal of influence on the Nazis and Communists, you need to turn off American Idol and go crack open a history book.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Refurbed Panasonic Toughbooks

eCost.com is selling refurbished Panasonic Toughbooks for $385. LINK. The specs are modest by current standards but one would make a good secondary machine for keeping vital info on in the event of an emergency and you must evacuate, especially if your primary computer is a desktop. (See ShaneS's Listening to Katrina for why you want to do this.) You'll probably want to add more RAM and a WiFi card, but those are cheap.

Note: I have no relationship with eCost.com although I have bought a couple things from them with no complaints.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

A Little Flintlock Smithing

The weather today was crummy -- hot, humid, and scattered thunderstorms.  So, instead of going to the range as I'd planned, I stayed home and did a bit of 'smithing on my flintlocks.

First up was my Middlesex Village Trading Company Tulle Fusil de Chasse 20 gauge.  (Note, MVTC's website still shows the prototype only.  I bought one off the shelf last month at Dixon's.)  It came with a rather thin, whippy ramrod made of some Indian mystery wood.  The ramrod thimbles are large enough to accept a 3/8" rod but the channel in the stock needed to be sanded out.  I did this using some sandpaper wrapped around a short section of 3/8" ramrod, after removing the thimbles.  However, the hole in the forearm which the ramrod goes into needs to be drilled out.  I need to get a ramrod hole drill, basically a 48" long drill bit.  Track of the Wolf has the appropriate size for $37, so I'll probably add one to my next order with them.

Setting the fusil aside I decided to try smoothing out the lock on my MVTC French M1717 musket.  The locks on the Indian guns imported by MVTC are made from forged parts but in some places they are a bit rough.  Also, the springs are very strong, especially the sear spring.  This results in truly atrocious trigger pulls.

To properly disassemble a lock from a muzzleloading gun you need a mainspring vice.  After removing the lock place it on half cock, and then place the vise over the mainspring.  Then, pull the hammer back a bit more and tighten the vise.  At this point you should be able to pull the hammer back a bit then press on the sear lever, and gently let the hammer forward.  Once the hammer is down you can pull the mainspring off the lock plate.

With the M1717's lock disassembled I used some 600 grit emery paper to polish all the parts.  You need to be very careful when polishing the sear engagement, i.e., the tip of the sear and the notches in the tumbler.  You just want to smooth them.  Go slowly. Remember, it's very easy to remove metal but it's hard to replace it.

Much of the MVTC guns' heavy trigger pulls is due to the very strong sear springs.  When you're pulling the trigger to fire, not only are you working against the mainspring, but also the sear spring.  So, after polishing the spring, I put it in a bench vise and using a sanding drum and gringing wheel in a Dremel tool, I carefully thinned and slightly shortened the tip of the spring.  I went slowly making sure that I did not overheat the spring.  Anytime the spring got too hot to touch with my finger I let it cool down.

With the lock back together and the gun reassembled I snapped the hammer a couple of times.  The trigger pull is probably half of what it was before, and the lock feels much smoother.  Since the musket lock came out well I did the same thing to the fusil's lock.  Neither gun has a trigger I'd find acceptable on a rifle, but they are much, much better now, which should result in better shooting.  I'm hoping to be able to try one of them on Friday.