Saturday, May 30, 2009


I shot my Dixie/G.L. Dech longrifle today with some .480 Hornady balls I picked up the last time I went to Dixon's.  Using a pillow ticking patch, Track of the Wolf's Mink Oil patch lube, and 80 grains 2Fg Goex, it'll hold the 8 ring of an SR-1 target offhand at 50 yards.  It will probably hold the 10 ring from the bench, maybe the X.  The rifle has a 41" barrel which combined with the slow lock time of a flintlock makes it difficult to shoot offhand without a lot of practice. I need more practice.

Loading is noticeably easier than when using .490 balls.  I am able to thumb start the patched ball and don't need a short starter.  I was able to go 5 rounds between wiping the bore.  I probably could've gone a couple more but I didn't try.

To clean I used a mix of 1/3 Ballistol to 2/3 distilled water, then straight Ballistol followed by some WD-40 after I got home (I want to leave a good anti-rust coating in the bore until I shoot it again).

After getting home I grilled some burgers and hot dogs while enjoying a Baccarat Rothschild cigar, and I'm about to indulge myself with a glass of Elijah Craig 18 y/o single barrel Bourbon to make the ATF day complete.

Letter to My Senators Opposing Sotomayor

As one of your constituents, I am writing to express my TOTAL OPPOSITION to the nomination of Judge Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.

Judge Sotomayor's legal opinions are widely regarded as lacking depth.  One of the key characteristics of a Supreme Court Justice is the ability to issue well written, clearly reasoned opinions.  In this she falls short.

Additionally, in the wake of the Supreme Court's 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, she has persisted in the erroneous belief that the Second Amendment does not protect an individual right to keep and bear arms.  Even the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, generally perceived as the most liberal Circuit Court recognized in light of Heller that the Second Amendment indeed DOES protect an individual right, one preexisting the Constitution.

Worst of all, Judge Sotomayor seems to believe that her gender and ethnicity confer a special degree of judicial wisdom more suited to that of a Supreme Court Justice than that of white males.  In plain language, she's a racist and a sexist.  If a white male nominee had said that because of his gender and race he was more qualified than a woman of color, the nomination would be withdrawn so fast it would make your head spin.  But I suppose that's par for the course for the Obama Administration.

Thank you.

David S. Markowitz, Esq.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Little PC Cleanup Today

This morning I was asked to do a favor for one of our electrical contractors, who'd brought his home PC in with the hopes of getting it cleaned up.  Specifically, it was infected with the "Personal Antivirus" malware program, which looks quite a bit like AVG Antivirus, which is of course a legit program.

Hitting Google for removal instructions, the first link I clicked on recommended using Malware Bytes to get rid of Personal Antivirus.  I've recently been evaluating Malware Bytes, so I figured this would be a good test on a system known to be infected.  It worked, and picked up a few other items as well.  Good deal.

After getting that squared away I also installed Spybot Search & Destroy for realtime protection, the HOSTS file from, and CCleaner.

The system was already setup to receive Windows updates automatically, so the final piece of software I loaded was Firefox with the Adblock Plus extension.  I imported all the bookmarks and settings from IE but left the latter as the default browser.

Before returning the PC to my boss I taped a note to the side with a description of what I'd done and with some recommendations, including replacing Norton 360 with AVG, and using Firefox instead of IE.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Update to The Shooter's Bar

I updated The Shooter's Bar(SM) this morning.  TSB remains the Internet's oldest publicly available list of pro-RKBA attorneys.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

SCOTUS: Now OK to Question Suspects Without a Lawyer

The Supreme Court has now ruled that police may interrogate suspects without the presence of a lawyer.

The Supreme Court has overturned a long-standing ruling that stops police from initiating questions unless a defendant's lawyer is present, a move that will make it easier for prosecutors to interrogate suspects.

The high court, in a 5-4 ruling, overturned the 1986 Michigan v. Jackson ruling, which said police may not initiate questioning of a defendant who has a lawyer or has asked for one unless the attorney is present.

The Michigan ruling applied even to defendants who agree to talk to the authorities without their lawyers.

The court's conservatives overturned that opinion Tuesday, with Justice Antonin Scalia saying "it was poorly reasoned, has created no significant reliance interests and (as we have described) is ultimately unworkable."

Full story.

Although I haven't yet read the opinion, I have some concerns about this, especially given the ever-expanding number of criminal offenses.  And before law 'n order champions celebrate, they should remember that ultimately a criminal defense lawyer's job is not merely to get his client off.  Rather, it's also to ensure that the government does its job properly, IOW, that the government plays be the same set of rules to which it holds the rest of us.

Same Old Blues

This political cartoon is from 1934.  Change the names and it could've been drawn this morning.

1934 Political Cartoon

We fail to learn the lessons of the past and wonder why things fail to get better.

Nikon Coolpix S560

I picked up a Nikon Coolpix S560 point-n-shoot digital camera over the weekend to replace my 2001-vintage Sony DSC-P50.  The Sony still works but it's only a 2.1 MP camera, while the Nikon has a resolution of 10 MP at its highest setting.  The Nikon is also smaller (pocket sized) and accepts larger memory cards.  I got an 8 GB SDHC card to go along with the 44 MB memory that's built-in.

The Nikon uses a rechargeable Li-Ion battery, something I wanted rather than AAs.  It came with a charger. The Sony battery could be recharged while in the camera but the Nikon battery must be removed.  I may pick up a spare, looks like a replacement from Nikon is only about $23, while aftermarket batteries are even cheaper.

The Sony has both a viewfinder and an LCD screen, while the Nikon does not have a separate viewfinder.  I rarely used the Sony's viewfinder anyway, as one of the things I like about digital cameras is the preview you get from the LCD on the back of the camera.

The S560 will shoot in continuous mode, and has different scene modes to account for different kinds of shots, e.g., portraits, on a beach, landscape, or action shots.  I'm still going through the manual.

The macro mode seems to work well.  Sample shot of my Smith & Wesson Model 28-2 (click thumbnail for full sized picture):

Smith & Wesson Model 28-2

I still want to get a DSLR some day but don't want to spend the money on one now.  The Nikon was $179 at Microcenter.

Monday, May 25, 2009

New Picture From the White House Rest Room


Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day.  Please take a moment or two to remember those men and women who gave their last full measure so that we may be free.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Guns and Ammo: Where There's a Will, There's a Way

One tactic sometime proposed by gun banners is to attack the ammunition supply rather than the gun supply.  After all, a gun with no ammo is just an awkward club.  And as many people are  discovering with the current run on ammunition, it's best to keep a good supply on hand as a hedge against shortages.

That said, even if the gun banners were able to enact a ban on ammo sales, or impose a prohibitively high tax, American shooters possess a huge amount of ammo already, along with components for reloading (though there is also a run on components of late).  Further, the machines necessary for reloading ammunition are in good supply and widespread.  Handloading machines run from simple table-top devices like the Lee Loader, to very sophisticated progressive presses like the Dillon Super 1050, capable of churning out hundreds of rounds per hour.

Even in a worst-case scenario people who need ammunition will make it.  For example, check out this formerly-secret Haganah factory for 9mm ammunition at Ayalon in Israel.  During the British occupation of Palestine the Haganah (precursor to the IDF) needed 9mm ammo for pistols and submachineguns.  So, they obtained the machinery to make it from raw materials, running it right under the noses of the British.

Where there's a will, there's a way.  Prohibition -- whether it's of alcohol, drugs, or guns and ammo -- does not work.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


From Herbert E. Meyer in The American Thinker:

During the last 30 years we Americans have been so politically divided that some of us have called this left-right, liberal-conservative split a "culture war" or even a "second Civil War."  These descriptions are no longer accurate.  The precise, technical word for what is happening in the United States today is revolution.

Because of our country's history, we tend to think of revolutions as military conflicts, and of the revolutionaries as the good guys; the image of Minutemen fighting valiantly against the British forces at Lexington and Concord lies deep within our DNA.  But sometimes -- quite often, actually -- revolutions aren't military conflicts, and the good guys are the ones trying to keep the revolution from happening.  In January 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany by its elected president; he would spend the next two years consolidating his power with the legislative connivance of his political allies in the Reichstag.  In October 1917, Lenin and his Bolsheviks took control of Russia from Kerensky and his Social Democrats -- who had overthrown the Czar earlier that year -- entirely through parliamentary maneuvering in Russia's fledgling Duma.

What defines a revolution -- and this is the crucial point to grasp -- is that when it's over a country has changed not merely its leaders and its laws, but its operating system. 

Go read the whole thing.  Sadly, I fear he's correct.

Further, it appears that a large number of Americans believe that this is what's happening. Witness the Tea Parties.  Also witness the unprecendented surge in sales of firearms and ammunition since November 4th, prompted in large part by the palpable fear that efforts to resolve this peacefully will fail.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Odd MacBook Pro Audio Issue

This morning I ran into an odd issue with Rohan, my MacBook Pro which I purchased new in January 2007.

Last night I had Rohan setup in my home office, connected to an external monitor, keyboard, mouse, USB hub, FireWire 800 drive, and speakers.  When I shutdown for the night all the peripherals were attached.

This morning after getting into work I started Rohan as usual, including connecting a pair of external speakers.  However, the machine kept muting the audio itself.  I'd adjust the volume back up but within a minute it would mute itself again.

Searching on Google revealed some other users with this problem.  Apparently, if you have external speakers connected when you shutdown, then start the machine without speakers attached, the box will sometimes start this auto-mute behavior.

The fix was to connect external speakers and reboot.  After logging in again I haven't experienced the problem.  To prevent it from recurring, disconnect external speakers before shutting the machine off.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Interactive Revolver Animation

This site has an interactive animation of a S&W Model 66 revolver.  (The animation would be the same for any modern S&W revolver with a frame-mounted firing pin, except for the concealed hammer models, such as the Model 640.)

Take a look if you ever wondered how a wheelgun works.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

AK47 Section 922(r) Compliance Worksheet

When putting together a semiauto AK47, US residents must remain compliant with 18 USC Section 922(r), which governs the maximum number of imported parts a rifle may have.  GunWiki has an interactive worksheet which helps you ascertain if your build will be legal.  Simply clear the checkmarks from the boxes on the worksheet which correspond to US made parts, and the sheet will let you know if you're rifle is legal or if you need additional US-made parts.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Irony of The Day

"Only a despotic and imperial government can coerce seceding states."

William Seward US Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln in 10 April 1861 to Charles Francis Adams, Minister to the Court of St. James (Britain).

Good Grief

We just got in a Dell XPS Studio PC at work, with a 2.93 GHz Intel Core i7 CPU, 6 (yes, SIX) GB of RAM, and running Vista Home Premium 64-bit.  Even with the monster CPU and a shitload of RAM, Vista is still a dog.

Once I've finished getting it setup and imaged, I think I'll try Windows 7 RC 64-bit on the box.  It can't be any worse than what's on there now.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

New Operating Systems

I've been playing with two new OSes the past couple of days: Ubuntu 9.04 and Windows 7 RC.

Yesterday morning I upgraded Hobbit, my MSI Wind netbook, from Ubuntu 8.10 (it dual boots XP Home) to 9.04.  I used the built-in upgrade function of the Update Manager.  Everything seemed to go OK, except for the Applications > System Tools > Root Terminal shortcut.  When I click on it the program launches, I get prompted for my admin password, then crashes after I click OK.  This is annoying but not fatal, as I can just use sudo from a normal terminal.  If I figure out what's happening and can fix it I'll post a follow up.

Aside from that I'm not seeing a dramatic difference between 8.10 and 9.04.  More refinement than anything, though it seems a bit snappier.  XFCE in particular seems noticeably faster and more responsive than it did in 8.10.  For Ubuntu 8.10 users 9.04 may be a good upgrade but it's not a must-do, at least for now.  That said, I would not hesitate to recommend it to someone setting up a basic PC for web, email, and light office tasks.  The GNOME GUI is at the point where it should be very usable, even for non-techies.

Windows 7 Release Candidate is of course Microsoft's latest version of their follow on OS to Vista.  This morning I installed it onto a PC in my lab.  It's a pretty generic box with an Intel mobo, 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo, 3 GB of RAM, and a SATA hard disk and DVD-RW drive.

While Vista is a turd, W7 is very promising.  When I use a machine running Vista I feel like I'm dragging my cursor through molasses.  In contrast, W7 is very fast on equivalent hardware, easily on par with XP.  The one thing Iike about Vista is the aesthetics, and W7 retains this.

Unlike prior versions of Windows, W7 strips out things like Windows Mail, but provides a shortcut in the Start menu for you to download them.  This is good as it reduces bloat and removes potential security holes.

MS is making Windows 7 Release Candidate available for free to everyone for at least a couple of months, and will allow you to use it unfettered through March 2010, after which time it will shut down every hour or two.  The final deadline to purchase it will be June 2010, when the RC will be disabled.  According to media reports, W7 will be released this Fall, but if you get it now you'll be able to use the RC for almost a year.  If you run Windows in a business, I recommend installing it on a spare PC and testing your apps before the deadline.  Eventually MS will discontinue support for XP, so it would be prudent to identify any issues with your existing apps and W7 as soon as practical.

I'm going to continue to play with Windows 7 on my test box, and I'm giving serious thought to replacing XP Home with W7 on Hobbit.


Senator Arlen Specter (Quisling-PA) is a member of the Senate committees on Appropriations, Judiciary, Veterans Affairs, Environment and Public Works, and Special Aging.  In the wake of his party switch,

[his] switch to the Democratic Party has cost him his seniority on Senate committees. The Senate passed a resolution Tuesday night that made him the most junior Democrat on the committees on which he serves.

Nobody likes or trusts a traitor.

Monday, May 04, 2009


The weather in SE PA has been rainy for almost a week, but I didn't let that stop me from going to the range yesterday with my Norinco MAK-90.

The MAK-90 is an AK variant imported from China from 1990 through 1994.  Following the elder Bush's import ban in 1989, the Chinese came up with an AK which met the more strictly-construed "sporting purposes" clause.  The result was basically an AK with a wood thumbhole stock and no bayonet lug.  IIRC, around a million MAK-90s were imported in the 90s.

The thumbhole stock isn't bad for righties but I am left handed.  So, in accordance with 18 USC 922(r), I "debanned" the rifle after I bought it.  To do so, I replaced the furniture with a Tapco T6 stock, SAW grip, and Galil-style handguard.  After having the Tapco handguard on the rifle for a couple of years but never being happy with it, I replaced it a few months ago with a K-Var US-made upper and lower Bulgarian-style handguard set, which includes a steel heat shield.  The result is much more satisfactory.  It looks better, is more robust, and provides much better thermal protection.

In addition to replacing the furniture, I replaced the fire control group with US-made parts in the form of a Tapco G2 kit.  The Chinese FCG gave a nice smooth and light trigger pull, but I needed 3 more US parts to make the rifle 922(r) compliant.  I have G2 FCGs in two rifles and they work very well.

Anyway, I think I'd only had the MAK-90 to the range once or twice since debanning it.  So, I packed it along with some Wolf Military Classic 7.62x39 and headed down to the Southern Chester County Sportsman's & Farmers Association.

The outdoor ranges at SCCSFA are covered, primarily for noise abatement, but because of their arrangement vis-a-vis prevailing winds, they also keep you dry if it's raining.  With some good rain gear you can stay pretty dry when it's time to post or change targets.

As expected the MAK-90 ran fine, especially since my round count was low and I shot in 5 round strings.  My main goal for yesterday was to fine tune the 100 yard zero, so that point of aim and point of impact coincide.  This will allow me to take advantage of the rear sight elevation graduations for ranges past 100 yards.

One thing I noticed yesterday was that the MAK-90 has a lot more muzzle movement during firing than my Arsenal SLR-101SG, which has a good muzzle brake.  With the Arsenal I can easily deliver rapid aimed fire.  With the MAK-90 and it's slant brake, which is designed for right handed shooters, not so much.  So last night I placed an order with Cope's Distributing for an AK-74 style brake.  The AK-74 brake should not only reduce the already mild recoil, but also keep muzzle flip to a minimum.  I used to own a Saiga in 7.62x39 with such a brake and it worked well.  (Interestingly, my SAR-1 with a bare muzzle seems to jump around less than the MAK-90.)

Once I've mounted the new brake and get the change to test fire the MAK-90, I'll post a follow up range report.

Mountain Hardware Exposure 2 Parka

I'd been dissatisfied with my Winter coats for awhile.  For a variety of reasons none of the coats I own met my functional needs of Winter wear in my mid-Atlantic climate.  So, back in January I went over to REI to look for a new coat, with several criteria in mind:

1. I wanted a shell, not an insulated parka.  This will let me layer according to the temperature, and extend the usefulness of the coat beyond Winter.
2. It needs to be waterproof but breathable.  It rains a lot during Winter in SE PA.
3. It should have pit zips to allow cooling when it's warmer or if I'm exerting myself.
4. The color should be either neutral or something that will blend in with the crowd in an urban environment.  I work in Center City Philadelphia, so camo sticks out like a sore thumb.
5. The cut should allow CCW.
6. There need to be a good number of pockets, both inside and outside.  At least one of the pockets accessible from the left (I am left handed) should be large enough to CCW a 2" S&W J-Frame in a pocket holster.
7. A hood is required, and it needs to be large enough to comfortably fit over either a baseball cap or a watch cap.  A good size brim would be valuable, as would the ability to be rolled away when not in use.
8. The outside surface shouldn't be too slick.  I dislike it when the strap of my bag slides off my shoulder because it can't get any traction.
9. The coat needs to be made well.  I'll pay for quality.
10. It needs to be parka length, not just waist length, and have a two way zipper.

After going to REI and examining several different jackets, I came home with a Mountain Hardwear Exposure II Parka in sapphire blue and black.  They also make the parka in several lower profile colors but this is what REI had in my size.  This color is low profile in an urban environment, anyway.  Plenty of people are wearing colored coats and this will blend in with the crowd.

The outer shell is Nylon in a textured "Dobby" weave, with MH's "Conduit" waterproof laminate membrane and durable water repellent finish.  The texture met my criteria for not being too slick.  Inside, there's a Coolmax mesh and taffetta lining.  The Coolmax helps wick away perspiration.  Also inside is a powder skirt that you can snap together to keep snow from being blown up the jacket if you're boarding or skiing.  It would be valuable if you got caught in a blizzard, as well.  There are glove rings on the outside of the forearms, and the ends of the sleeves can be adjusted for weather tightness via Velcro straps.  There are drawcords at the waist and at the bottom hem which can be used to snug the coat against you to seal out drafts.  The hem drawcord can be adjusted with one hand from the outside.

I'm 5'6" with a gut and found a Large to fit me well when worn on top of a fleece layer.  The sleeves are long enough so that I can keep my hands completely covered inside.  This can be useful, e.g., if I forget gloves or just want a little extra warmth when I'm not doing something which requires my hands.  The sleeves could be a little roomier for adding extra layers underneath but I think the coat will work OK for me as-is.  The temps around here during the Winter are generally in the 30s or 40s, sometimes dipping into the 20s.  It sometimes does go lower, especially at night, and of course we sometimes get colder Winters.

The body is long enough to cover me down to below my butt, which makes it warmer than a waist length jacket.  There are pit zips for ventilation (very important to keep sweating under control), several pockets (see below), and a hood that's big enough for my needs.  The front is closed by a two-way zipper, covered with dual storm flaps to keep out wind and water.  The zip goes up high and combined with the generously sized hood, really allows you to seal out the weather.

There are three pockets accessible from outside the jacket.  Two chest pockets and one Napolean pocket on the left, which is big enough to hold my iPod, a phone, and some other stuff.  The fleece lined chest pockets are good sized, closed with zippers covered with Velcroed flaps.  Inside, there's a large zippered security pocket and a mesh pocket for a water bottle, useful to keep your water from freezing in cold weather.  It's big enough to hold a 32 oz. Nalgene.

The hood was a big deal for me, one of the first things I checked out while trying it on.  I wear eyeglasses and so like to wear a baseball cap to help keep rain and snow off the lenses.  When I put the hood up I don't want it to scrunch the cap down on my head, a problem I had with my last shell.  The Exposure II's hood is generously cut so that this doesn't happen.  It also has a laminated brim.  Last night when I got off the train it was raining and I was wearing a knit watch cap, sans brim.  The hood's built-in brim kept my glasses dry.  The opening of the hood can be cinched down to minimize the entry of precipitation or wind.  The hood can also be rolled away if you won't be using it.

Now that I've had it for several months I feel that I've given it a good shakedown.  I've been very pleased. When worn over a a Columbia Titanium fleece jacket it's very comfortable down into the high 20s (F).  For lower temps I add a heavier shirt, long underwear, and a fleece vest or sweater as needed.  It worked well to keep me warm and dry when sledding in windy, snowy weather.

I've been wearing the MH shell without a fleece layer for the past month or so as a raincoat.  It's as good in the rain as it is in the snow, and during the warmer weather we've been having I appreciate the pit zips.

Mountain Hardwear advertises this parka as suitable for snow sports and mountaineering.  Overall the design is well thought out for these uses or as a shell for a commuter.  The quality of construction is outstanding.  Seams are neatly sewn and sealed.  I don't see this coat wearing out anytime soon.  If I could add anything, I'd add a sleeve pocket, and maybe pockets down at the bottom front of the jacket, or a poacher's pocket in the back (you can't have too many pockets, IMHO).