Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Blog Stuff: Blog world meets Real world.

I came strolling back into the showroom from gunsmithing yesterday to be greeted by one of the salesguys saying "Hey, there was this guy in here just a moment ago who saw you walk out and said 'Was that Tamara? I know her from her blog.' He said he was from Arizona."

Loud squealing noises as my mental geartrain engaged. Arizona... Blog... "Did he have kind of a goatee?"


"Hmmm. Cowboy Blob's from Arizona, and he's visiting kinfolk back East. I wonder if he's driving through on the way home."

Indeed he was.

We chatted for a bit, after the obligatory "Gosh, you're tall," ;) ("Five twelve without my Very Tactical Boots on.") and then he was back on the road, burning up miles headed west into the sunset, as all good cowboys do.

Politics: Safely stupid.

While bemoaning the sad state of science education in this country out one side of its mouth, the federal government is doing everything it can, via its long-running War On Common Sense, to snuff any remaining interest in science among younger kids.

When I was growing up, I ran with the geeks. We all had chemistry sets, made black powder and home-made rockets; the more talented among us went on to lasers and tesla coils and careers in science. Nowadays, however, the national fear of "They Might..." has paralyzed this curiousity in kids. The Consumer Product Safety Commission fears they might make verboten fireworks. The DEA fears they might make crystal meth, or whatever the scary drug du jour is. Liability-conscious school boards across America fear they might poison themselves in the school chemistry lab. And so on.

Just twenty or so years ago, the kid down the street kept himself in soda money by selling his home brewed black powder to the rest of us neighborhood urchins. Eight bucks bought a coffee can full, and you could use it do do all kinds of cool things out in the woods behind the house, mostly involving little rafts in the creek or your little brother's plastic army men. He had researched its manufacture himself, and even figured out how to corn the powder using urine, which greatly increased its potency (even if it did gross out his clientele, once we found out what his new secret ingredient was.) Somehow we all managed to graduate from school with all of our digits intact and, so far as I know, none of us went on to cook meth in Alabama trailer parks, so the possession of home chemistry sets appears to be a fairly benign thing if our experiences are worth anything.

But the .gov knows what we might have done, and for that, today's children are stuck with balloons and soap bubbles instead of bunsen burners and sulfur. Having grown up wearing safety glasses to blow up balloons in "science" class, what will today's kids see as acceptable restrictions on their own future offspring? In the quest for a perfect Nerf World, it appears that the death of scientific curiousity is acceptable collateral damage.

(Big thanks to pax for pointing me at the article.)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Bikes: Adventures.

I got to ride to work yesterday after all.

Just before we closed, one of the crew asked me "So, what are you doing tonight?"
To which I responded "Oh, I'm just going to ride home and do the usual: Sit on the porch, drink a beer, smoke a cigarette, read a book."

What I should have said is:

"I'm going to ride home through evening air that's going to feel like I'm riding through a stalled conex trailer full of wet towels in the middle of the Mojave in July. I'm going to take a little detour to top off the gas tank and discover that the lock on the cap is a mite dry and rusty, so it won't operate. So, I'll set off for home, only to discover that I already had the fuel tap set on 'reserve', so that when the bike sputters to a halt on Bluegrass, it is well and truly out of gas. Then, not having my cell phone with me, I'll hike 2.5 miles home in the muggy summer night air, wearing an armored leather Joe Rocket jacket and lugging a helmet, because I'm afraid to take the jacket with its reflective patches off, since Bluegrass is narrow, hilly, twisty, poorly lit, and has no shoulders. When the first nice couple stops to help, only a hundred yards down the road, childhood instincts about getting in cars with strangers will make me say "No, thanks, I'm almost home" before realizing that no, I'm not almost home, and armed bikers really don't have much to fear from young couples in Chevy Cavaliers. So, I'll watch them drive off while I keep stumbling through the ditches at the side of the road. Staggering down the home stretch, having sweated off fifty pounds, I'll note that with the lack of moonlight under the trees it is darker than three feet up a well-digger's arse at midnight and I don't have one of the fifty-seven flashlights I own with me. Thankfully my neighbours will rescue me and drive me to get my bike, which despite gobs of CLP being squirted into its lock, still twists the only key to the bike almost to the point of breaking. Then we'll use the flat scales of my pocket knife to try and press the twisted key flat against a handy brick subdivision entrance, since we'll realize that neither of us has our Leatherman tool on our person at the moment. Neither will the friendly K-9 officer who will just happen to show up at that point. I'll finally get the key straightened enough to get the bike started, and my neighbours will follow me home.

Then I'll sit on the porch, drink a beer, smoke a cigarette, and read a book."

And that's just exactly what I did. :)

Boomsticks: The 60th Carnival of Cordite is up...

...over at Gullyborg's, chock full of gunny goodness.

Once again, I slept through the submission deadline. Sigh.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Word of the Day: How to speak Tamarese.

Lazy Stick: (lā'-zē stik) n.

1. Remote Control. "Turn on the A/C, please. It's that blue button on the lazy stick next to your hand."

Bikes: Role reversal.

Waking up late this morning, I had to kinda scotch my initial plan to ride to work. Even when commuting on a bike, a little extra time must be given to gearing up, performing a quick walk-around of the machine, letting the engine warm a bit before setting off, et cetera. Having done it for many years, I'd forgotten the easy "jump in and drive" allure of the cage.

Still, though, it was a beautiful day for a lively drive home with the top down on the Beemer, following the twisty backroads I usually take on the bike. I was preparing to make my right turn onto Mourfield, a beautiful little road that twists sinuously through a leafy green tunnel of creek valley before cresting a hill in a heart-in-mouth off-camber ninety-degree right-hander whose apex is right at the crest, overlooking farmland with the Smokies visible on the horizon, when a Harley made the turn ahead of me. I didn't think much of it, because from the sound of things he was really working the throttle, and I was, after all, in a cage.

It's a weird feeling to be stuck in twisties behind a slow bike, driving a car. I felt like I was in bizzarro world, and half expected the trees to turn a lovely magenta to complement a yellow sky...

I made the best of things by filling the Zed Three's miniscule trunk with provisions at Kroger, and I've already set my alarm clock. I will be on the bike tomorrow, dammit.

(PS: Mourfield is cool, but at the end I make a right turn onto Bluegrass. Bluegrass is notable for being the road on which three different friends have said, from the Z3's navigator's chair, "Um, I think I'm going to throw up." :D )


Light blogging today.

As wise Confucius once said, "Woman who wish to blog in morning should not sleep 'til quarter past ten."

Did you know that on this date one hundred and one years ago the Czar's navy took a one-sided pasting by the Japanese in the battle of the Straits of Tsushima?

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Boomsticks: Gratuitous Gun Pr0n No. 30

S&W Model 64-4, circa 1994, and Greco Whisper, circa 2002.

The above is known teasingly as my "cookie recipe gun." The name came about from me saying "Of course there's a gun in arm's reach when I'm in bed. I assume if I wake up to find a strange person in my bedroom, he ain't there to swap cookie recipes."

Thus, the reasons for the 2" K-frame:

1) It'll likely be used at contact distances, and can't be pushed out of battery like an auto.
2) It'll likely be used at contact distances, and only has a 2" barrel for the assailant to grab, while I have a full K-frame grip in my hand.
3) It'll likely be used at contact distances, and is made of steel so it can be used to beat someone to a paste if the six shots don't do the trick.

So, yeah, a little thought went into picking out a firearm for that particular task. And, for what it's worth, the only cookie recipes I know involve slicing the dough into circles of regular thickness...

Friday, May 26, 2006

Arms are for hugging...

...Knees are for jerking, and hearts are for bleeding.

Apparently social maladroits who believe themselves to be Klingon won't be allowed to keep their ritual weapons in The Nation Formerly Known As Great Britain anymore. No word as to whether radical Wahaabists will be allowed to retain their traditional Semtex Sweaters under a religious diversity exemption.

(H/T to Marko at The Munchkin Wrangler.)

When is a gun more than just a gun?

Just metal and wood?

Xavier doesn't think so.

Nothing like a good cry first thing in the morning. It cleanses the soul.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Just what we need: Another federal law.

Using the usual elephant gun to hunt mosquitos, Congress has passed a bill banning protests at military funerals.

Folks, this is stupid.

I think that Phred Phelps is a lunatic, a jerk, and unfit to be seen in public, but we already have seven million pounds of federal, state, and local laws pertaining to things like tresspass, disturbing the peace, and whatnot. We do not need another one. Further, distasteful as it is, Phred's speech is as protected as yours and mine. You can't rail against "Political Correctness" and "Hate Speech" laws out one side of your mouth and cheer for legislation like this out of the other.

Plus, while I have plenty of respect for America's fallen heroes, a law with the name "Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act" is just a bit Orwellian, and making it a federal felony to say or do certain things (that will be left open to the judgement of future Justice Departments) within 150ft of a road leading into a cemetery is just bad law, bound for future misuse.

Phred is annoying, but he's temporary. He will die, and his loony followers will realize how fruity they look and go join the Moonies or some other respectable cult and harass people at airports instead of at funerals. This too will pass. But federal law is almost always forever.

Please, folks, unwrap that flag from around you and think before you legislate, okay?

Another blogger on the scene...

When we last left Thing One, he was answering the phone at Miss Tam's School for Wayward Yoots. Now he's writing on his very own blog. Go check it out. :)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Reboot your shoes...

Apple and Nike have announced a joint venture that will allow your shoes and your iPod to talk to each other. No, I'm not stuttering: somewhere there is actually a real, live marketing wonk who said "Hey, Bob, wouldn't it be cool if your Air Jordans could rap with your Walkman via WiFi?" And Bob said "Yeah! It would!" And a focus group was convened. And now your personal electronics can snicker about you behind your back with your sneakers and, for all we know, get together with your Blackberry and con the ATM machine into pulling your account down around your ankles while your back is turned. At what point do we just say "Stop! This is crazy! Don't put a computer there!"

I'd type about this more, but I have to go press Ctrl+Alt+Del on my toilet seat...

Boomsticks: The Weekly Check on the Bias... up over at Alphecca.

This week Jeff managed to find another good, unbiased article on women in the shooting sports published in the business section of the Miami Herald.

(The article has plenty of interviewage with Kay Clark-Miculek, champeen pistol shooter, daughter of legendary pistolsmith Jim Clark, wife of supershooter Jerry Miculek, and obviously part of some fiendish plot to breed a master race of future action-shooting champions. All your USPSA will belong to them.)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Bono blogs Africa; Tam blogs Bono.

As seen here:
Why does it take a celebrity like Bono to get the West engaged in Africa?

Celebrity is a big subject to try and get through in a short blog.

A big subject indeed. Enormous. Bloated. Almost as big as Bono's bank account. Or ego.

Multinational corporations have enormous purchasing power. Why can’t they buy from African suppliers?

Doing business is sexy. Trade is sexy.

Blood-borne pathogens and 419 Scams, however, are decidedly un-sexy, and seem to be Africa's two leading exports at the moment. Well, those, and re-tread Maoist politics. Multinational corporations just really don't need to buy any of that, no matter how much it would help prop up failed African economies.

How do you choose the countries you visit and why don’t you focus on war-ravaged countries?

If we are really honest, we need in the next 10 years success stories. We need three or four in the next five years and 10 in the next 10 years.

Plus, in a war-ravaged country, you might get your celebrity ass shot off or kidnapped.

How do we know that aid is going to the people who need it?

Much work is being done to fight corruption both from the African civil societies’ point of view and from the donor communities.

Translation: It's all being used to buy chrome dub deuces for President-for-Life Corporal M'bekebeke's Gelandewagen.

What song is going through your head?

I have a radio on in my head most of the time and I was smiling to myself about the fact that a lot of the songs on the radio I’ve never heard before, which is to say I’m making them up.

"Pretty Vacant", by the Sex Pistols.

Good ol' Bono. You can always count on just some amazing surrealism from a guy who was happy that the G8 summit was held on his home turf so he could get there via Bentley rather than Gulfstream to deliver his rants about the unfairness of capitalism. I don't know what he's doing; it must be art.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Bikes: Oh, not again!

So, it's bike night at CCA again tonight. A chance for me to check the tires, grab the leathers and helmet, and... it rain pitchforks and taxicabs.

How does it know?

Oh, well. They're promising me 79 degrees of sunny cloudlessness tomorrow, so I guess I'll ride then.

Those french fries are Da Bomb..., really.

With the sheer amount of ordnance expended in such a small area over such a long period of time, this is a more common occurance than most folks realize.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Politics: Rudyard Kipling in New Orleans.

From "The Gods of the Copybook Headings":
As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the idjits in New Orleans, dumbass Nagin will re-hire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will bum,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return.

Apologies to my neighbors...

I was in a really, really good mood and feeling all bouncy, and in spite of all her faults, Madonna's "Like A Prayer" is a really catchy, dance-y type tune. I'll buy some drapes, I promise. :o

From the Vault: "Just close your eyes and think of England,"

The above quote is allegedly advice to a young woman about to attempt the isometric exercise of finding ammunition or parts for her Webley & Scott Pistol, Self-Loading, Mark I N. Stuff is out there, but be prepared to pay.

Not at all a common find, these pistols were used as a substitute standard in the Royal Navy during the Great War, as well as being fielded in small numbers by the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Horse Artillery. Standing around with my gunsmith and a gentleman from one of the more active firearms importers, with probably sixty years in the gun biz between the three of us, not one of us could recollect having seen one in the steel before.

I had to have it.

Unusually heavy, yet with an awkward grip angle, the pistol points like you're holding a t-square and may be the homeliest non-Japanese handgun I've ever seen. Oddly for a gun so rare, repro grips are available, and Triple-K has catalogued magazines. Cartridge cases can be made by trimming .45 Colt brass to length, turning the rim down somewhat (the .455 Webley Automatic is a semi-rimmed cartridge) and machining an extractor groove. The barrel locks up very much like a SIG: a squared shoulder atop the chamber mating into the ejection port atop the slide. Everything is intricately machined from big chunks of steel and fitted together to a fare-thee-well.

Other odd features abound: The pistol has dual ejectors, as well as two different methods of disconnecting (should one fail, the gun won't run away.) The recoil spring is a massive v-spring under the right-hand grip panel ("If the recoil spring breaks, you don't know me," said my gunsmith.) The slide stop is activated not by the magazine follower, but by the absence of a cartridge in the feedway. You don't need an empty magazine in the gun for the slide to lock back, it knows when it's empty. (I think that's a little presumptuous of it, but that's just me...) The drift-adjustable rear sight has little micrometer hashmarks to help line things up. All in all, a piece satisfying both in its historical provenance and in its mechanical quirkiness; I couldn't be happier to add one to the museum.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

"Can not give car." "Okay, I guess we'll buy 'em."

Like something out of the movie Three Kings, First Sgt. von Zeal thought he'd scored himself a pretty sweet ride for only five grand when he picked up a used '88 Benz 560SEL in the chaotic conditions of Baghdad, circa 2003.

The Customs Department had other ideas.

Unfortunately, he won't get to wow Friday night crowds at the local Sonic with his sled's swoopy built-in flamethrowers now.

... ... ...

I just noticed my last three post titles all ended with ellipses. Oy, vey! I'm in a rut!

Overheard At Work...

Salesguy: "I've got an idea to make a mint. A new menu item at Taco Bell: the goat meat taco. They can call it the 'Chalupacabra'. It's cheap; it's authentically ethnic-sounding; it's perfect. What's not to like?"

Me: "Hell, I'd buy one."

Friday, May 19, 2006

Here's an idea...

Like lots of other people, I have a "lighting the cheap seats" white light setup on an AR carbine. The whole schmear (rail, vertical foregrip, Viking Tactical mount, and Surefire G2) on my 9mm AR cost less than the PentagonLight MS2 on Project Housegun, and that's not counting the Surefire rail forearm and GG&G foregrip on the latter weapon.

I know lots and lots of users with this setup, either because they're short on funds, don't want to sink a mint into a .gov-issued weapon, or just want a cheap light on a trainer or backup rifle. The first company to make a remote tape pressure switch that'll replace the tailcap on the cheapie G2 Nitrolon will make a mint. I'm waiting...

Bored legislators make goofy laws...

I am of the age where being carded for alcohol purchases is usually more a source of joy than frustration. A carding at the convenience store could provide grist for my conversational mill for a day or two: "Hey, y'all, you won't believe this, but they carded me for beer at the Weigel's the other day!"

The local .gov recently took that simple joy away from me by requiring all retailers to card for all alcohol purchases. It kinda takes the compliment out of the carding when they ask the octogenerian in line behind you for ID, too. Now it seems they want to make sure I can't get complimented statewide.

This is the kind of stuff that happens when you pay folks to sit around and think up laws. The old ad campaign slogan "It's not just a good idea; it's the law," has morphed into "It's a good idea, therefore it should be a law."

Here are some future ideas for our liege lords in Nashville (since they've already done seatbelts and drinking ages and suchlike):

  • Not wearing a sweater when it's really cold outside: Class A misdemeanor.
  • Running with scissors: Class C misdemeanor.
  • Putting something in your mouth when you don't know where it's been: Class B misdemeanor.
  • Not listening to your mother: Class E felony.

Sometimes "Whoops, sorry!" just doesn't cut it.

A screwup by civil servants leads to a dead dog and a grieving owner.

One can hope that the responsible parties will be punished and the victim will be compensated.

One can also hope for world peace and the winning Powerball numbers. :(

(H/T to Zendo Deb.)

Blog Stuff: Coal Creek Armory makes me look good...

True Confession: I haven't updated my AOL home page in, like, six years. Further, the two B&W photos of me there were taken on the night of the "Rodney King Riots", back in '92. Just a year or two ago (about the time I started my current job) I was, well, a bit larger than those photos would indicate; the forced inactivity after my big motorcycle accident back in '00 (plus a sedentary job at the last gun store I worked at) left me torpid, lethargic, and much heavier than I was happy with.

Not long after I started work at the Armory, folks started mentioning that they thought I was losing weight. I didn't pay their comments much mind, but soon I began to notice that my jeans were getting baggier. I spent more time on my feet, didn't just sit around and order out pizzas for lunch, and ran (literally) back and forth between the showroom and the gunsmithing outbuilding eleventy-dozen times a day. Pretty soon I could see the results in the mirror. Tonight I was hanging all my long-sleeve winter clothes in the storage closet and while I was in there, on a whim, I tried on the outfit I was wearing in those 14 year-old photos: It fit fine. Yay! That was a self-confidence booster like I haven't had in years...

The CCA Diet: Maybe I should market it? ;)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Blog Stuff: Twelve Two Angry Men.

LawDog is torqued at NICS, which boots him into limbo every time he fills out a 4473.

Kevin is tweaked at John McCain, who thinks he's better than... well, everybody who isn't John McCain.

Politics: The Biggest Tent in the World.

While the Democrat Party's tent has gotten smaller than the smoking section in a Seattle Starbucks, the GOP has gotten so all-inclusive that it's hard to tell just what it stands for these days. Once the party of isolationism, it gradually became the party of cold war foreign policy hawks. Once the party of laissez faire fat cats, its ranks are now swollen by the union-member lumpen proletariat whose talk-show host heroes use the word "elitist" like it's a bad thing. It's the party of religious agnosticism; of special-interest populism; it's anything you want it to be. Bring some patriotic-colored bunting.

Now we've heard the new GOP stance on Illegal Immigration: Not only do we hate it so much that we'll deploy some troops to stop it, but we love it so much that we're going to make the illegal immigrants into citizens or guest workers or something.

Tents this big sometimes collapse...

Boomsticks: The Importance of Being Surplus.

One of our regular customers was in the shop the other day, browsing the showcases and making small talk with the sales staff. An older gentleman, he's well-known in the local gun collecting scene, and specialises in bucks-up 1911's (mostly rare Colts) with a sideline in S&W wheelguns, so he and I are fairly simpatico. At least, I thought we were, until that day when I was sitting in my cubbyhole entering invoices and heard his voice waft from the sales floor as he came to a halt in front of the floor racks of old Enfields and Mosins: "What does anybody see in these old things?" he wondered aloud.

What, indeed? That set me to thinking. I've mused at length on these pages about the value of old military rifles from my perspective as a history buff and collector of arms, but the more I reflected on it, I came to the realization that the inexpensive military surplus rifle may be of a lot greater importance to the continued health of the "Gun Culture" in the US than most people give it credit for.

Those who came of age into the shooting sports between the passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968 and the fall of the East Bloc in the '90s probably don't see the parallels between today and that earlier time. Before GCA '68 temporarily ended the importation of any arm that had actually seen military service, a young shooter could walk into a gun store and be greeted by barrels of cheap Mausers and Enfields. With the WWII generation reaching its prime earning years, the teevee was full of shows like Combat and Rat Patrol, firing adolescent imaginations with stories of battle from the last big war. Even on a soda clerk's wages, these rifles were easily affordable, and reeked of the stories they read about in the pages of Sergeant Rock.

As they grew older, a lot of those old rifles got modified to make them better hunting rifles. With affluence, they were sold or relegated to closets and replaced with purpose-built sporting rifles, and a new generation of shooters and hunters was born. GCA '68 ended the importation of these rifles, and no new supplies came into the country until the stricture was eased by the Firearm Owner's Protection Act of 1986, but it wasn't 'til the collapse of communism and the opening of the treasure troves of the East that the flood of old rifles started up again.

The tide broke on a shore primed to recieve it by the renewed interest in WWII. With the 50th anniversary of the war and the gradual passing away of the men who fought it, the media again filled with TV shows and movies like Band Of Brothers and Enemy At The Gates. Once again a young shooter could walk into a gun store and find racks of old rifles, just like the ones he saw in the video game Medal Of Honor, and they were again priced low enough to be accommodated by the limited budget of a student working part-time in retail.

With surplus ammunition, the rifles are cheap enough for those on a cramped budget to shoot often, and thus learn about how to be a better shooter. With the internet, they can be researched and used to learn about history and start a collection. With their low entry cost and simple nature, they're cheap and easy to tinker with or modify. Each and every day these old warhorses introduce hundreds of new shooters to the "Gun Culture." Additionally, when the owner of a Mosin Nagant that may have seen service at Stalingrad sees some politico hold up a semiauto clone of a modern service rifle and prattle on about "military weapons", they realize "Hey, I own a real military weapon, and I'm not crazy. What the hell is that person talking about?"

"What does anybody see in these old things?"

The future of our firearms freedoms, that's what. Go 'head kid, buy one; that first Mosin's cheap. ;)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Monday, May 15, 2006

Boomsticks: Fear and loathing in Galesburg.

Today's Day By Day strip by Chris Muir delivers a funny and pointed comment on the recent much-ballyhooed study purporting to link the handling of a firearm with the production of increased levels of testosterone in men. In a nutshell, Chris asks: "So?"

Lots of things probably do likewise: power tools, fast cars, the sight of boobies, Angelina Jolie film festivals (but I repeat myself.) The bizarre subtext to the study is the implication that testosterone is somehow, in and of itself, a bad thing. As Sam in the comic strip points out, testosterone is what makes men... Take the testosterone away from Russell Crowe or Viggo Mortensen and you're left with Richard Simmons or Leonardo DiCaprio and, assuming that one is post-pubescent and heterosexual, who really wants that?

The demonizing of the masculine has become so very entrenched in certain circles that it seems to be taken as a given: Testosterone = Bad. No thought seems to be given to the logical extensions of this way of thinking: If we need to shield poor weak men, who are such prisoners of their hormones, from anything that might cause them to produce their icky testosterone, we can't stop with handguns; it's burkhas for the lot of us.

Whence this Fear of the Male, anyway? Given my job, I've spent more time among them than Dianne Fossey did amongst her gorillas, and trust me, they're not as scary as the average woman-with-a-"y" tries to paint them. Heck, they're kinda cute, even.

Besides, without testosterone who's going to open the pickle jars?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Politics: If you use my tin can & string, can I tell Mom?

GOP apologist and popular ranter Kim du Toit has an essay up explaining and defending the most recent .gov brouhaha, involving the NSA's big 'ol phone database. He brings up several cogent points, but spoils his defense largely on a couple of things. First, the ol' "If you're not a terrorist, you don't have anything to worry about; frankly you're too unimportant for Big Brother to be interested in," angle is wearing a mite thin. It's just bound to set folks to thinking "If I'm so unimportant, then why are they copying my phone call data?"
As far as the vast majority of us are concerned, there’s not much to worry about. Nobody at the NSA is interested in the call you made to your Mom, or even to the call you made to your mistress. Don’t kid yourself: you’re not that interesting.
I've got news for Mr. du Toit: I'm plenty freakin' interesting. I'm so interesting that the Founding Fathers thought I was the most interesting person in the country, and they wrote a whole list of things the .gov couldn't do to me, some of which involved searches and warrants and stuff. Anything that makes folks twitchy on that angle deserves a better defense than "They won't stick it in too far."

Second, of course, is the whole usual "Terminally Stupid", "bloviating", "clueless" nature of folks on the other side of the debate. Now, I know that the whole vein-pounding-in-the-forehead, spittle-on-the-monitor thing is as much a part of his schtick as it is mine, but at the same time, one needs to look at the folks one is calling names. I mean (to use just a couple examples,) SayUncle and Marko are neither one of them exactly stool pigeons for the Democrat National Committee. Plus, I know them both in meatspace as well as via their writing, and would feel pretty comfortable putting either one up against Kim in a spellin' bee, so the "Stupid" insults ring a little hollow here.

A better tack to take would be this: 1) Does this really surprise anyone? I read The Anarchist's Cookbook for the first time back in seventh or eighth grade, and I clearly remember it saying "Never say anything on the phone you wouldn't say to a cop's face." Now, I wasn't particularly anarchic or criminal or anything as a middle-schooler, but that's the kind of advice that tends to stick with one. When someone tells me that Big Brother's been jotting down my call logs, it's hard for me to be shocked when I've subconciously held the idea from childhood that he was listening to all of them. And 2) Even in a perfect Libertarian wolkencuckcuckland, the telcos are private entities and you won't own the wire your call is going over or the electricity that's vibrating it. What's to keep Ma Bell from selling that data to a market research firm, or your boss, or Dr. Evil?

Anyhow, while I see where Kim's trying to come from, his last paragraph,
But I have to tell you, I am really glad that someone at the NSA was doing their job, and began to collect the data a long time ago—because otherwise it would now be gone, and we’d be behind the curve, just as we were on 9/10/2001.
stinks a bit too much of Victory Gin at the Chestnut Tree Cafe for my tastes. While I'm not as outraged as Marko or SayUncle, I wish I was.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Big, dirty fun.

Countertop has video up of him firing the MP5A2 at CCA a couple of Christmases back. Go check it out! :)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Boomsticks: Gratuitous Gun Pr0n No. 29

The Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson describes the Performance Center PC13 as a "very serious carry revolver". Below, then, is a very, very serious carry revolver.

The "PC57", with Chris Reeve Sebenza.

After Marko acquired his PC13, he traded a .41 Magnum Blackhawk for a six-inch Model 57 at a gun show. A few skull sessions between he, uber-gunsmith Shannon Jennings, and myself resulted in the idea for the piece above; the result of throwing cubic yards of money at a poor Model 57 that just never knew what hit it.

The six-inch barrel was yanked and replaced with a factory-fresh 4" tube, but not until the shorter barrel had been sent to Mag-Na-Port for a quad-port job to match that on the PC13. The front sight was red-ramped and the rear blade replaced by one with a white outline. The action was slicked up to near-PPC-grade, with a smooth and stacking-free DA pull of just about eight and a half pounds, and the hammer was bobbed. (A skillful blotchy application of cold blue gave the area where the spur had been amputated a factory case-colored look.) The square butt grip frame was converted to a round-butt contour, and the serrations on the backstrap were excellently restored, leaving the gun looking as though it had come thus from Springfield, MA. The gun was finely bead-blasted and matte-blued, and was lastly fitted with a cocobolo Hogue Monogrip. The result is a no-joke totin' N-frame, as worthy an object of revolver lust as I've ever seen come down the pike. If you're coming by to shoot at CCA, let me know ahead of time, and I'll bring it in and let you run a few rounds through it. You'll probably want Shannon or Bob to build you one like it. :)

"What gun for a woman?"

I cannot begin to tell you how much this question, which constantly pops up both at work and on internet gun boards, completely grinds me to a halt. (At least they don't ask "What's a good chick gun?" or "What gun do you think a broad could handle?")

At work, I have to be nice and helpful because it's my job and all, and so I display the kind of tolerance with the question that makes Job look like a quitter. On line, however, my patience wore thinner than Kate Moss at least four years ago. My answers to the question "What gun for a woman?" have drifted from the trying-to-be-helpful "What will she be using it for? Which does she like?" to the flippant "I like a snubnose .44 Magnum today," to the dripping-with-sarcasm "You'll want something bigger than a .30-30; we charge when we're wounded."

My 'net friend Kathy is irked even more than I am (if such is possible) by the same question, and has finally written the answer it deserves, right here. (...and gawd don't I wish I'd written it first. Good stuff!)

The advice comes as part of her shiny new web presence at The Cornered Cat, which you need to go scope out, right now. I've been enjoying her posts on the boards for years; I can guar-on-tee you'll like her stuff, too.

(H/T to LawDog.)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Random Fact About Your Correspondent:

I always cry when HAL sings "Daisy" in 2001: A Space Oddysey. I mean, sure, he's a psychotic murderous artificial intelligence, but he meant well.

Bikes: The Rainy Season.

I haven't had the occasion to do much riding of late, seeing as it seems to be raining more often than not, and Ma Nature cleverly schedules her dry days for those times when I need a trunk to transport stuff home from work or the grocery store.

I have, however, had the occasion to drop the top on the Beemer on a couple of drives home. It's really neat driving home on curvy roads past farm and through forest, through a wet night, just after it's stopped raining, with the redolent honeysuckle aroma of a Southern Spring filling your nose and just the right music filling your ears. Sometimes it can take a long time to make that short drive under those conditions, what with all the wrong turns and all... :)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Blog Stuff: Today's winning Google searcher is...

...the cat from Yemen who hit me while searching for "Gratuitous Architectural Prosecuted Contours".

Whatever that means.

Boomsticks: Light rifles...

Josh at South Park Pundit wants to build himself a Scout Rifle. The urge is understandable: A light, fast-handling rifle in a do-it-all caliber is a wonderful thing to have.

Alston has a scout rifle that Bob the gunsmith built. It's a slim little wand of a .308, built on a Remington 600 action, and it handles and points more like a .22 than a bolt-action medium bore centerfire.

Myself, I've fallen in love with early Mauser cavalry and engineer carbines. I have a little Chilean DWM M95 carbine in 7mm Mauser that, despite being a bit on the chunky side for a Scout at 7.5 pounds, is a well-balanced little rifle whose barely three-foot length belies its weight. I think if I was going to make a personal Scout, I'd go for an older small-ring Mauser action and chamber it in .275 Rigby, because I love Mausers. I'd also probably cheat on the weight requirement by going with a Mannlicher stock, because life is too short to own ugly guns. :)

Monday, May 08, 2006

I'm too sexy for my boots...

My friend Kaylee was down to visit this weekend. We went out to eat after I got off work Saturday, and then had a good time sitting and chatting on the porch 'til the wee hours.

Sunday morning I got all dressed for work and was headed out the door with my M4gery, when she commented on my attire: Ponytail under the black CCA ball cap, black tee, khaki SigTac pants bloused over 5.11 boots, and nylon instructor belt. "Jeez! If you had some swoopy shades on, you'd look like a 'civilian contractor'." I reached in my purse and pulled out my Romer II's. "That's it!" she said, "Blackwater chic!"

Blackwater chic, kids: It's the new look for Summer. ;)

61 Years Ago Today:

Victory in Europe.

Happy VE Day! :)

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Boomsticks: It's real contagious.

As SayUncle notes, all the cool kids are getting 9 sillimeter AR's... :)

My male readership may want to go make a sandwich...

Okay, we're waiting...

Go on, now...

Alright, the guys are gone; I think it's just us chicks now. Anyhow, being someone who loves hiking and camping and hunting and other things that involve the Great Outdoors, but who doesn't necessarily love the, um, logistics problems one can run into out there, I have to say that I found this article fascinating. Talk about your women's lib!

I'm now on a mission. Wish me luck.

Blog Stuff: Safari on the cheap.

I'm getting a barrel for my Encore chambered in .405 Winchester so I can have lion-hunting fantasies. Not, of course, that I will ever have the money or leisure time to go on safari for the King of the Beasts, but one can daydream. Or maybe organize a cheap substitute here in town...

"Dear Diary: Day three of the safari. After a quick breakfast of Tabasco Slim Jims and Diet Mountain Dew my native guide, Fred, has maneuvered me into an excellent position for the culmination of my trip, the confrontation with Simba. Careful not to spook the skittish herds of preschoolers, which would alert the lion to my presence, I ease around the concession stand. The cloying stench of cotton candy fills my nostrils..."

Like I said, one can daydream... :)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Blog Stuff: Death to the English...


The overall decline of literacy poked me in the eye again this morning. I swung by Oleg's LiveJournal, and clicked on a link to a movie he was excited about seeing. I read the blurb with interest until I got to this sentence:
Observing all is The Writer (Bill Murray) an ex-patriot American who sees Fico being drawn into events as the revolution changes everything.
...which totally put me off my feed.

To the knuckle-walking troglodyte who has somehow got himself a job writing copy for the production company: Bill Murray's character may indeed be an "ex-patriot"; not having seen your flick, I don't know. I do know, however, that the word you were looking for was "expatriate", which is a noun meaning "One who has taken up residence in a foreign land."

My collection of split infinitives, dangling participles, run-on sentences, and excessive vernacular is hardly "writing", but compared to a lot of what I read today, I feel like a regular Hemingway. For gawd's sake, is there not a proofreader left alive in this country?

Friday, May 05, 2006

Politics: Sometimes the jokes write themselves...

Apparently driving talent runs in the family...
Kennedy, son of the Evel Knievel of Chappaquiddick Sen. Ted Kennedy, said Thursday he was apparently disoriented by medication when he crashed his car into a barricade on Capitol Hill.
A Kennedy? Wasted? You have got to be kidding me! The very idea is hard to comprehend. I mean, who has ever seen a member of the Kennedy clan sober publically under the influence?
Police reported seeing Kennedy's car swerve before the crash.
Wouldn't want to hit that pink elephant in the middle of the road, now, would we?
Asked if he thought he got preferential treatment, Kennedy said, "That's up for the police to decide..."
No, Congressman, you got treated just like any other schlub who gets 'faced, slams his car into a barricade, and comes staggering out of the wreckage with bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. Hell, whenever I do that, the police always decline to do a roadside sobriety test and give me a courtesy ride home, too.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Overheard At Work...

Dry-humored Salesguy (talking to friend at the counter): "You have to understand how the whole 'black clothes' thing is with Goths. Nothing is really all black. You have your 'red blacks' and your 'blue blacks' and you really don't want to mix those two, or you'll look like a twink. Then, (of course,) you have your really 'black blacks' you save for special occasions. If any white lint from the dryer gets on those, a dedicated Goth kid has to burn them. Goths even have their own special laundry detergent now..."

Alston (voice wafting out from office): "What's it called? Dark Tide® Of The Soul?"

Boomsticks: The Weekly Check on the Bias... up over at Alphecca.

My favorite knucklehead cited is Cathy Sorvo who entitled her OpEd for the Seattle Pravda "It's Time To Infringe On The Second Amendment."

See, she's an expert on the whole guns'n'violence issue because she went to high school. Or because she lived in an icky neighborhood once. Or because she's a comedian. Or because... well... frankly I can't quite figure out why she feels qualified to offer an opinion on the topic. But did she let a little thing like that stop her? Oh, heck, no... She put that word processor in four-wheel low and drove it right into the middle of the swamp.

Anyhow, go visit Jeff's site, read the weekly check, and leave him a thank you in the comments for his hard work. :)

Politics: Rejoice, Comrades!

The People's Soviet is contemplating further regulation of the means of production! Your relief is at hand!

I find it telling that the Congresscritters all stand up to denounce "price gouging". All solemnly agree it's a Real Bad Thing for the Little People under their care. They'll help out by proposing a law. A law that, in part, asks the Federal Trade Commission to, um, please come up with a definition of "price gouging".

Good luck with that.

Of course, in a nation of whiners who've been successfully manipulated into viewing "profit" as a dirty word and told since they were toddlers that they deserve their "fair share", "price gouging" will be defined as "anything more than I want to pay. Waaah! Mommy! They won't share!"


Overheard At Work...

Bob: "Are you down from your clock tower now?"

Me: "What, was it that obvious?"

Bob: "Oh, yeah, you were up there all morning: 'Grumble, cuss *BANG!* Dammit, mutter *BANG!*'"

Me: "I can't help it, Bob. It's my Happy Place."

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Notes From The 4/23/06 Blogger Shoot:

Both SayUncle and I brought our 9mm AR carbines. Pretty much everyone else there decided that they needed one, too. Big, dirty fun to shoot. Cambi loader works swell with Colt mags, not so much with ProMags.

I also brought along a 3" Smith & Wesson Performance Center 627 V-Comp, circa 2002, and a 3.25" Smith & Wesson .38 Safety Hammerless, circa 1899. The double action trigger pull was, um, slightly worse on the older gun, but it still ran just fine. We'll do a retrospective on the PC627 in 2109 AD. ;)

One of the shooters was a guy who started shooting at our range about a year or so ago, renting .22's. He brought along a stack of his own pistols he'd bought since those days, and even shot the Notorious Deagle. That was cool to see. It's neat to watch someone go from novice to enthusiastic shooter over time.

Kirk did not get a hat that said "I drove all the way from Maryland, got beaned in the noggin with flying brass, and all I got was this stupid hat." (But he would have, if I'd had one to give him. ;) )

At Ruby Tuesdays afterwards (which was a sobering experience, what with me having forgotten my papieren at home. "Sobering"? Get it? Anyway...) I found myself seated between SayUncle and Les Jones, both of whom I'm pretty much of an age with, as they passed cell phone pics of their cute little girls back and forth and waxed all parental. I resisted the urge to mumble "Well, I have cats." I took consolation in the fact that the Beemer has no accommodations for a child seat. (The canvas of the top wouldn't be enough to prevent Mommy's Little Bundle of Joy from achieving low Earth orbit when the air bag deployed if I tried to put one in there.)

Anyhow, a grand time was had by all. We'll need to do that again sometime.

Politics: Is your sock drawer not the way you left it?

Stalinist conduct by the government up 18 percent last year, says a Justice Department report.

No wonder I can never find anything. Look, when pawing through my sock drawer looking for Bin Laden's phone number, can y'all please just put stuff back where you found it? Is that too much to ask?

Monday, May 01, 2006

Blog Stuff: This should be interesting.

I just picked up a 12 pack of Diet Berries & Cream Dr. Pepper. My intuition tells me that this is unlikely to be a beverage that leaves one indifferent towards its taste. I'll either be saying "Hey, wow! Why didn't they do this sooner?" or "My gawd! It tastes like somebody used an old sweatsock for a teabag!"

We'll see...

Politics: Here's a genius law...

I wake up every morning, do my little morning rituals, then settle down in front of the massive banks of raw computing power at VFTP Command Central and scan the Errornet to see if anybody's done anything stupid recently for me to make fun of.

I'm rarely disappointed.
Salazar's legislation would make it illegal to make a false public claim to be a recipient of any military valor award, such as the Medal of Honor, a Silver Star or Purple Heart.
Now, I'm sure that Rep. Salazar's heart is in the right place with his Stolen Valor Act, and I definitely think that pathological liars who make phony claims to great deeds of heroism are complete twinks, and should be mocked, laughed at, and scorned for the pathetic Walter Mittys they are at every available opportunity. But making it a federal crime for Walter to tell his disbelieving audience at the Dixie Barr & Grill that he won three Medals of Honor in the Navy during Desert Storm? Really?

Think about that: A F E D E R A L C R I M E. Right up there with Treason and Counterfeiting and Transporting Girls Across A State Line For Immoral Purposes. Isn't this attaching a bit too much meaning to these BS claims? Isn't this giving them, in a back-handed way, the kind of attention they seek?

Further, are our federal law enforcement officers so bored, are things so quiet on the terrorism front, that we can waste time and my freaking tax dollars prosecuting a whole gun show's worth of fake SquEALs every time they open their mouth? Has anybody figured out the potential logistics of this? Folks, a meaningless, unenforceable law is worse than no law at all, but we pressure our congresscritters to "do something", and the only something they can do is pass federal laws. Think about that the next time you decide to write to your representative to complain about your neighbor's crabgrass, lest your representative propose the Aesthetically Pleasing Lawns Act of '07.

Meanwhile, come on, Mr. Salazar, don't you have anything important you could be repealing doing?

Blog Stuff: The Five Stages of Waking Up.

  1. Denial: "That's not really the alarm clock going off."
  2. Anger: "Oh, holy crap it is! And I didn't get a wink of sleep with that psychotic cat licking my nose all night!"
  3. Bargaining: "I'm just going to hit the snooze button one more time."
  4. Depression: "If I hit the snooze button again, I'll be late. I just can't face this anymore."
  5. Acceptance: "I may as well wake up, because the bathroom's on the other side of the house."