Saturday, September 30, 2006

Politics: A CCTV world.

Big Brother is watching.

This could get ugly.

India claims that the Mumbai bombings were masterminded, planned, and financed by the Pakisani ISI (their monolithic state intelligence service.) The Pakistanis deny everything, of course, but the Indian investigators seemed to have a pretty damning case.

What effect another Indo-Pakistani war would have these days is anybody's guess, now that:
1) Pakistan and India both have limited nuclear capability.
2) NATO has boots on the ground on Pakistan's northern border.
3) The nation-shaped powderkeg of Iran is on Pakistan's western border, and may get all friendly and fellow-Muslim if the balloon goes up.

Interesting times.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Not to pile on Canada or anything...

...but getting all a-twitter about a couple of .30-caliber M240's on some Coast Guard patrol craft doesn't do much for the national image of virility traditionally associated with postcard images of Mounties, lumberjacks, and gap-toothed hockey players.

Trust us: those peashooters aren't on the boats to turn them into "gunboats". They're not there because we're planning on invading Canada (we hope we'll be able to take you quietly someday.) And they're certainly not there because we're all a-feared that the rabid Canuckistanian hordes are about to pour over our northern border, swimming ashore at Lakeshore Drive and terrorizing the shoppers at Water Tower Place.

No, the boats have belt-feds on them because there are things along the shores of the Great Lakes that we'd rather not have blown up, and having a 240 handy could keep them in an un-blowed-up condition.

So calm down and don't panic; we're still your buddies. When we sail the USS Tarawa up the St. Lawrence, then you can panic.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The World Turned Upside Down...

China's building fusion reactors, while New York City's banning trans fats and begging a supermodel to come to her trial.

These backwards nations are too busy with their arcane laws and too worried about pleasing their aristocrat class to make any headway in the serious areas of science or engineering. Such topics are too dull for the flighty natives.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Blog Stuff: I was afraid of this...

I am nerdier than 74% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

(H/T to Jeff the Baptist.)

From the Vault: Revolutionary rotary...

Germany had barely begun issuing the new Gewehr 88 to its troops when it found itself dragged into a courtroom by Osterreichische Waffenfabrik-Gesellschaft, better known here as Steyr. The Austrians took issue with the fact that the German Rifle Testing Commission had more or less pirated the clip loading system invented by Steyr's star designer, Ferdinand von Mannlicher. The resulting settlement allowed Steyr to manufacture Gew.88's for the German army, as well as for foreign sales.

By this time, Mannlicher had a new protege, and Steyr a rising star, in the form of a fortysomething engineer by the name of Otto Schoenauer. He set about making various refinements to the Gew.88 and, when the older rifle began losing ground to Paul Mauser's newer charger-loaded designs, fitted his modified version of the Commission Rifle with a slick new development: A rotary magazine. This magazine had a rotating spindle in it, notched to hold the bullets, and would feed cartidges very smoothly, as it minimized the friction of the cartridges rubbing against one another in the magazine, unlike the staggered box designs common on other rifles of the day. Packaging his new magazine in his latest upgraded rifle, he began shopping it around Europe.

Above: Greek M1903/14 Mannlicher-Schoenauer, Photo by Oleg Volk

The rotary magazine could be charged with a stripper clip like a Mauser, but could be safely unloaded through the ejection port with the press of a button unlike Mauser designs, which needed the magazine floorplate to be hinged down or removed for safe unloading. The rifle itself was slim and graceful, weighing in at only 8.25 pounds even in the full 48" long infantry version.

Left: The rotary magazine, viewed from above. The button on the right-hand receiver wall releases the magazine's contents. Photo by Oleg Volk.

The action was ultra-slick, with a full-length guide rib, and had several safety and reliability tweaks over the Commission rifle, but this didn't help sales. Fearing complications caused by the slightly Rube Goldberg-esque magazine, armies stayed away from the new design in droves, and Schoenauer's baby was flattened by the Mauser juggernaut on the world market.

In the end, the only nation that bought the rifle was Greece, who, in a bizarre twist of fate, found themselves on the wrong side of the trenches from their main rifle supplier when World War One broke out. By the end of that conflict, Greece was badly short on Mannlicher-Schoenauers, and was making up their losses with captured Austro-Hungarian Steyr-Mannlichers and hand-me-downs from their allies. After the war they needed more rifles, but Steyr was located in the new nation of Austria and, as part of the losing side, couldn't sell military arms on the world market under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Relief was to be had in 1926 when Breda, in Italy, was contracted to supply M/S 1903/14 rifles and carbines. The Greeks eventually phased the rifle out of frontline service, replacing it with Mausers, and later, as a part of NATO, with British and American arms. Rumor has it, incidentally, that the Breda contract rifles were actually merely assembled and marked there, and had actually been manufactured at Steyr.

Right: Gew.88-derived action. Used in Greece. Marked in Italy. Made in Austria? Photo by Oleg Volk.

So as a military rifle the Mannlicher-Schoenauer was a flop, but its smoothness made it a very popular sporting rifle. It was successfully marketed and sold as such from 1903 into the 1950's, pretty much unchanged. One reason that original military models are so scarce on the collector's scene today is that most all of them were turned into sporters after they appeared on the surplus market.

Oh, and about that fragile rotary magazine that militaries of the day didn't like? Maybe it's not so bad; it hasn't stopped Ruger from selling a blue million 10/22's...

Blog Stuff: Zendo Deb hangs up her modem.

The leading source among gunbloggers for heartwarming tales of smoked goblins, as well as cautionary warnings on the ineffectiveness of restraining orders, is taking a break. Zendo Deb of TFS Magnum is using the opportunity presented by some high-speed connectivity glitches to get some work done on her boat.

Hopefully she'll be back, tanned, rested, and ready, before too long.

Opera cancelled for fear of angering Buddhists, Christians...

Berlin's Deutsche Oper has cancelled performances of a production of Mozart's "Idomeneo" for fear of sparking rioting and terrorist violence among Christians, Buddhists, and pagan Greeks.
After its premiere in 2003, the production by Hans Neuenfels drew widespread criticism over a scene in which King Idomeneo presents the severed heads not only of the Greek god of the sea, Poseidon, but also of Mohammed, Jesus and Buddha.
Pat Robertson called for Neuenfels' head on a pike, while mobs of protesting Buddhists wore vests covered with mock sticks of dynamite and chanted "Guatama's will be done; Berlin will burn and drown in the blood of the infidels!" Pagan Greeks paraded with effigies of Poseidon's head and signs saying "Molon Labe!", ancient Greek for "Come and Take It!"

Or something like that.


The above is, of course, heavy handed sarcasm. Nobody has rioted over the heads of Poseidon, Jesus, or Buddha. Three guesses who got their knickers in a twist and caused the opera to be cancelled, and the first two guesses don't count.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

An update on the Taxonomy of Modern Dangers.

In an attempt to see if I could rattle a normally unflappable co-worker with a total non sequitur, I asked Shannon the gunsmith, completely out of the blue "Which do you think is more dangerous? Face-eating monkeys, or killer space robots?"

Without batting an eye, he replied "Killer space robots shouldn't be a problem, since you could just rig your microwave oven to produce an electromagnetic pulse, and then take them out with a wrench. I'd be more worried about the face-eating monkeys; they probably travel in packs."

Then he went back to his work as though nobody had asked him a totally bizarre question for no apparent reason.

That was probably some good advice about using your microwave against the killer space robots, though...

Like Chinese water torture...

Saturday was a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day.

It's not that any one single part of it was that horrid; it was just that steady drip... drip... drip... of minor annoyance piled on minor annoyance that makes you want to climb a clock tower with a sack lunch and a scoped rifle.

It started at midnight, as most days do...

Actually, scratch that. It started about 10:00PM on Friday night. My downstairs neighbors were graciously letting me use their laundry facilities, and I was sitting on the porch reading and waiting for my clothes to finish in the dryer. The sky looked a little ominous, so I took my book upstairs, figuring I'd hear the buzzer through the floor when the clothes were done. I reclined on the bed with my book...

...and was awakened at 2:53AM by the sound of cat #2, Random Numbers, yakking on my leg. Let me tell you, folks, it can be hard to drift off to sleep again once you've elevated the ol' pulse with a bit of cat-punting. Then comes the roller-coaster as the adrenal high of chasing the cat under the futon is replaced by the abyssal low of the realization that you have, like a jerk, left your laundry sitting in your neighbor's dryer, and you don't have a damn thing to wear to work tomorrow. After all that excitement, it can be hard to get back to sleep again, so I sat in front of the computer keyboard, surfed a bit, and dealt with a titanic case of writer's block (you may have noticed the staggering amount of my creative output on Saturday.)

Finally got back to bed at 6:00. The alarm went off at 8:00. This gave me almost thirty more minutes to stare at a blank "New Post" screen and its accusatorially blinking cursor before heading to work in a pair of jeans that had one too many holes to really be dress-code perfect. (Makes it hard to be a good example for the troops. Sigh.) It was raining pitchforks and taxicabs outside, the Beemer had already started leaking, and I arrived at work in a foul mood.

I threw some date-critical mail in the mailbox at work, and went back inside to see if we could organize something in the way of food. Lunch plans rose and fell like bad souffles, while my blood sugar started to make like Evil Knievel halfway across the Snake River canyon. After I'd snapped off one head too many, I decided to strike out on my own for lunch. As I grabbed my purse and jacket, my boss came in with the incoming mail in one hand and a soggy envelope in the other.
"Here. The mailman didn't pick this up."
I felt a primal scream boiling up.
I inquired as to the location of the nearest big blue mailbox, and dashed through the pouring rain to the car. By now, the Beemer was leaking like a sieve, and pouring rain was flooding across the road in the low spots.

I went down Dutchtown road, turned left, and came to a stop. The road ahead was under a foot of swirling, muddy water. Quickly reversing direction, I turned onto Lexington and, Huzzah!, a mailbox! I verified that there was a 6:00PM Saturday pickup, dropped my letter in, got back into the car, pulled back onto the road and as I crested a hill, saw that the road ahead here was also flooded out, complete with a stalled car in the middle of the puddle. I retraced my path, drove past the store, and got out onto Lovell, headed for the Turkey Creek shop-o-rama.

Unfortunately, everone else was also headed for Turkey Creek. I sat in the line of traffic, the water steadily drip-drip-dripping on my left arm, and gnawed on my steering wheel in a vain attempt to remain calm. Finally I made it through the intersection and motored toward the Bear Rock Cafe. After a couple wrong turns in the parking lot, I found a space and jogged through ankle-deep water in the parking lot to get to my vittles, for which I had cleverly phoned ahead.

The herd was lined up at the dine-in register, and so I politely elbowed, kneed, and head-butted my way past them to the register clearly marked "Takeout Orders". I gave my name, received the bag containing my reuben, handed over my Visa and... *BOOOM!* With a flash of lightning and a windowpane-rattling clap of thunder, the lights went out...


"Oh, sh..."

The guy in line next to me, apparently recognizing me from work, immediately started up. "Hey, don't say 'oh shoot!'. I'd really be worried if you said 'oh, shoot!'. Get it? If you said 'oh, shoot!'?"

I didn't shoot him. I swear. I have witnesses. Nor did I break down into helpless tears, although the temptation was mighty.

The lights came back on, I paid and left, and got in the car for the boat ride back. Turkey Creek was out of its banks by now, and the traffic lights on Lovell at the I-40 off-ramp and at Lexington were both flashing yellow. By the time I finally got back to the shop with my lukewarm sandwich, I was vibrating like a tuning fork.

That afternoon, a friend called.


"Hey, Tam! How's your day going?"

If you're reading this, I have a confession to make: We weren't disconnected, I hung up. But there's your answer.

Jeff Cooper: 5/19/20-9/25/06

May he rest in peace.

It'd be funny, if it wasn't so expensive...

Your tax dollars at work.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Blog Stuff: Random stupidity, worldwide.

1)Hussein: "I have a demand. I am not going to be quiet."
If we can't shoot him, can we at least stuff a sock in his mouth?

2)Pope Benedict XVI expressed "total and profound respect for all Muslims"
All Muslims? Or just the ones not calling for your head on a plate?

3)Nephew of slain Afghani bureaucrat says "we had no personal emnity with anyone"
Well, except for all those knuckle-dragging troglodytes who were offended that your aunt was the head of the province's women's affairs department instead of being barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.

4)The nails involved in the incidents were more than three inches long and an 1-1/4 inches wide.
If this keeps up, crayons are going to become blocks of colored wax, six inches on a side. That's going to make staying inside the lines nearly impossible, and damage the self-esteem of generations to come.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Politics: Fallout.

A mosque in Melbourne Florida got shot up yesterday as the Moslem holy month of Ramadan began. Police allegedly found the shooter's hiding spot, complete with binoculars and footprints, including one set that "resembled cowboy boots."

The words "hate crime" have already been trotted out, making the utterer of those words look like a complete moron. Of course it was a hate crime; the shooter probably hated muslims in the same way that the guys who flew those planes into the WTC or set off their TNT Underoos in crowded bazaars hate infidels. Thing is, the more hate crimes that one side commits, the more hate crimes they are going to generate in return; if there was another terrorist attack on this soil comparable in magnitude to 9/11, there will be hate crimes that make a little gunfire at a mosque look like a friendly "Howdy, neighbour!" There are people still alive who have been in lynch mobs before, and wouldn't hesitate to join one again.

This is monstrous and wrong, but it is very much a part of human nature, and our foes, who have convinced themselves that they are fighting a culture of spineless cowards and degenerates, need to remember that. People, no matter how decent, no matter how cowardly, no matter how self-righteous, can only be pushed so far before the killer ape at all our cores gets exposed, and in this game of tit-for-tat hate crimes, the other guys would do well to recollect that the biggest IED's on the planet are parked in concrete-lined holes in the ground in the American midwest, all ready to be used in the biggest hate crime of all.

Friday, September 22, 2006


I am so there.

Number one line from the graphic novel? Easy:

Persian emperor Xerxes (during a parley): There is so much our cultures could share with each other...

Spartan king Leonidas: We've been sharing our culture with you all morning.

EDIT: Bastards yanked the trailer; apparently it was an unofficial leak. That's okay, I am still so there. If you didn't see it, well... boy, did you miss out.

EDIT PART DEUX: ...and now the trailer's back up. W00t!

(H/T to Marko.)

Boomsticks: 1911 lingo...

In the gunsmithing shop at work, there's an elaborate patois that has sprung up around various 1911 bits and modifications. I used some of it on TFL and got blank stares in return, so I thought I'd offer up the following primer:

  1. "Series Stupid": Various fiddly bits added to the lockwork to keep the pistol from discharging should you drop it from seven feet up in such a way that it lands muzzle-first on concrete. Termed "Series 80" by Colt or "Series II" by Kimber.
  2. "The Jammer": Full-length guide rod.
  3. "Lesser Manglers": Forward cocking serrations.
  4. "Greater Mangler": Accessory rail.
  5. "Marshmallow Impersonating Metal": Metal Injection Molding, aka MIM.

Never let it be said that gunsmiths are timid about having opinions on various topics...

The new look for Fall... "Blackwater Chic."

(As seen here. And I roll old skool; that vest is Royal Robbins, not 5.11, you n00b poser. :D )

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Blog Stuff: Fall is in the air...

VFTP Command Central isn't exactly palatial; instead of central heat & air, I get by with a big window A/C unit and a baseburner-type propane heater.

When we had the propane tank topped off a month or two ago, I cut my pilot light on but left the thermostat turned down to the lowest setting. I arrived home to my darkened crib last night to see the eerie glow of blue flames in the corner announcing that it was a mite chilly in here. Time to break out the comforter for the bed...

Y'all have fun now, y'hear?

East TN bloggers will be getting together for a fun evening of debauchery conversation on September 30th, about an hour and a half before I even get off work. The kegs will no doubt be blowing air before I get a chance to darken the door...

Sometimes Google loves me too much...

How the &^#$ did I get to be the number one search result for "pseudoephedrine cook"?

Nothing to see here, Mr. Gonzales! Please move along!

Einstein's joyride.

Here's a tip for you wannabe felons out there: When you and your buddy have boosted a car, and you then have to dodge a speed trap, don't try to evade the heat by crashing through the gate of CENTCOM headquarters. The only way you could make things easier for the forces of Law & Order is if you neatly parallel-parked your stolen vehicle in a cell block at the county lockup.

Good job, morons.

(Then again, if they were smart, they wouldn't be out boosting cars in the first place...)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Ready for the Two Minutes Hate?

Bringing a new interactive dimension to the Gilded Gulag, Middlesborough has added speakers to their array of public CCTV cameras. Now in addition to monitoring the proles as they go about their day-to-day tasks, they can remind them that Big Brother is, indeed, watching.
The Mail on Sunday watched as a cyclist riding through a pedestrian area was ordered to stop.

'Would the young man on the bike please get off and walk as he is riding in a pedestrian area,' came the command.

The surprised youth stopped, and looked about. A look of horror spread across his face as he realised the voice was referring to him.

He dismounted and wheeled his bike through the crowded streets, as instructed.
What the hell? I don't know about you, but I'dve had a hard time not yelling back "Will the nosy sumbitch with the microphone please stick it where the sun don't shine?" This is exactly the kind of thing that would bring my anti-authoritarian streak bubbling to the surface.

I blame it on growing up in an America gearing up to celebrate its Bicentennial, but whatever the cause, I was twelve before I found out that e pluribus unum wasn't Latin for "You ain't the boss of me." If I feel like I'm being monitored, I feel a nearly irresistable urge to run home and rip the tags off mattresses. Yet this seems to be okay with plenty of folks:
Law-abiding shopper Karen Margery, 40, was shocked to hear the speakers spring into action as she walked past them.

Afterwards she said: 'It's quite scary to realise that your every move could be monitored - it really is like Big Brother.

'But Middlesbrough does have a big problem with anti-social behaviour, so it is very reassuring.'
I don't care if it absolutely eradicates street crime, honey; get that camera out of my face before I find a rock and a slingshot.

I guess it's the absolute lack of negative reaction to what I see as stifling intrusiveness that gets to me, just grinds me to a halt. The fact that nobody minds some camera operator watching them pick their nose, or stealing a kiss in a secluded nook after meeting someone new in a nightclub, is a chilling thing for me to see. I get that same bleak feeling I always get at the end of 1984...
"The voice from the telescreen was still pouring forth its tale of prisoners and booty and slaughter, but the shouting outside had died down a little. The waiters were turning back to their work. One of them approached with the gin bottle. Winston, sitting in a blissful dream, paid no attention as his glass was filled up. He was not running or cheering any longer. He was back in the Ministry of Love, with everything forgiven, his soul white as snow. He was in the public dock, confessing everything, implicating everybody. He was walking down the white-tiled corridor, with the feeling of walking in sunlight, and an armed guard at his back. The longhoped-for bullet was entering his brain.

He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother."

(H/T to The Student Shooter.)

Blog stuff: Go, Lawdog, go!

What you no doubt are -- besides a boil on the arse of humanity -- is a mono-synaptic, pimple-faced, uber-veggie, hemp-wearing, deodorant-avoiding, eco-conscious, midget-zipper-trout with delusions of adequacy...
...and much more where that came from. It's such a beautimous rant, it brings tears to your eyes.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Boomsticks: CCW safety, or "Stop touching that!"

Over at, a poster asked folks if they really carry their guns at home, and if so, why? This of course generated the usual "What if someone breaks in? I wanna be ready!" replies, which in turn triggered the expected "Are you ready for meteorite strikes too?" snarkiness.

This whole dialogue baffles me for two reasons. Firstly, I've been carrying a gun daily for long enough now that it has completely been divested of all emotional freighting. Putting the pistol in the holster in the morning is as routine as making sure my wallet, pocketknife, and store keys made the transfer from yeterday's trousers to today's; it's not strapping on a gat, it's just getting dressed. Because of this, there's an obvious disconnect in the conversation:
"Why are you carrying a gun?"

"Huh? What?"

"The gun. Why are you carrying it?"

"I dunno. I didn't want to forget it at home? What's the big deal about it, anyway? It's just a gun."

See? Same planet, different worlds. To one person it... The Gun an object with some sort of totemic significance. To the other, the question is as inane as "Why are you wearing a hat?"

The second stumbling point I have is a more pragmatic one, and that's one of safety. The pistol on my hip is loaded and cocked. It will be loaded and cocked when it is set gently in its storage rack tonight, and will still be loaded and cocked when it gets holstered again tomorrow morning. Actually, the only time it is not loaded and cocked is when I've shot it dry on the range, or have it torn apart for cleaning; otherwise it is either sitting safely in a storage rack, or safely in the holster on my hip, where there is no chance that it will spontaneously go off. Contrast that with the more typical on-again-off-again gun toter. Here's how that routine seems to go:

1) Wake up in morning and decide that maybe they should carry today. Hmmm... Glock or Kimber? Maybe HK? They decide to take the Glock today. They pick up their (empty) pistol and a loaded mag, chamber the top round off the mag, top off the mag, and put the Glock in its holster.

2) Get done with running errands, get home, take Glock off, unchamber round, do some dry fire practice at the teevee.

3) Buddy calls and invites them to a movie. To pack or not to pack? Better take the Glock. The top round off the magazine gets re-chambered (maybe for the second or third time), the gun is re-holstered, and off they go.

4) After the movie they decide to stop for a beer. Gun is unholstered and put in glovebox. Gun is reholstered for trip home.

5) Nighty-nite time. Gun is unholstered, unchambered, and the chambered round is placed in the mag so it can be chambered again tomorrow (bullet setback, anyone?)

See how much unnecessary futzing around with the pistol that involves? Every time you go in and out of the house you are adding more windows for opportunity for an ND by adding more administrative weapons handling. This is when ND's occur: how many stories of police negligent discharges happened when they were putting their gun in the lockbox at the jail and fumbled it, or when they were unholstering it in the lavatory? Put it in the holster in the morning and, as best you can, leave it alone. If your daily rounds take you to a lot of victim disarmament zones, get a holster that goes on and off easily so that you are handling the holster, not the weapon.

So, long way 'round, there's my answer: yes, I carry in my home, because I'm too lazy and too safety-conscious not to. ;)

It's September 19th, Mateys!

You know what that means, right?

That's right: It's International Talk Like A Pirate Day, ye scurvy dogs!

In just a few hours I'll grab my ARrrrr-15, hop in my carrrr, and drive to work at Coal Creek Arrrrmory.

Best of all, today is Tuesday, which means it's Ladies' Wenches' Day at the Arrrrmory! ;)

All us piratical wenches get free range time! W00t! Come show your pirattitude! (I'll spot a CCA hat to anyone who shows up wearing an eye patch or a stuffed parrot.)

Monday, September 18, 2006

How did I wind up on the wrong side of the cage door?

In a scene that would be right at home in the primate cages at Yerkes, a bunch of folks burned effigies of some guy in a dress yesterday because he allegedly said bad things about their invisible friend. Or something.

As best I can tell, it went down like this: The guy in the funky clothes, who is the head spokesdude for a bunch of people who like an invisible guy, repeated some seven hundred year-old slander about a bunch of people who like a different invisible guy (or maybe the same invisible guy going under a different nom de guerre; theologians differ.) Basically, he implied that they were all violent and warlike. The fans of the second invisible guy, upset at being called violent and warlike, immediately protested this unfair characterization by rioting and promising to go to war against the followers of the first invisible guy.
"We shall break the cross and spill the wine. ... God will (help) Muslims to conquer Rome. ... God enable us to slit their throats, and make their money and descendants the bounty of the mujahideen,"
This would be comical, if it wasn't for the fact that the followers of the second invisible guy are trying their level best to get nukyular weapons.

Personally, I don't see what there is to get all-fired upset about. I mean, so the spokesdude for the first invisible guy said some mean things, but how seriously can you take a guy who wears dresses with red loafers and has a staffer in charge of casting out demons who gets publically wrapped around the axle over children's novels? This doesn't stop the followers of the second invisible guy, though, not for a minute; they can get their noses out of joint to the point of rioting over an editorial cartoon, so actual seven century old slander is like a red flag to them, and rates a spot of nun-killing at the local children's hospital.


How did I get stuck on this planet?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Boomsticks: Sistema day!

Friday was pay day, which meant that the Argentine Sistema I had set back could be sprung from durance vile and brought home. This is the first time I've picked up a beater pistol for the express purpose of getting hands-on with it myself to learn more about the way the process works; I figure the more I know, the better a liaison between our customers and our gunsmiths I'll be.

Saturday I replaced all the pins and springs in the gun with an Ed Brown rebuild kit and a Wolff spring package. I also replaced the wretched grips and grip screws with a spare set of cocobolo slabs I had lying around, and then raided my spare parts box for a Dlask trigger and the thumb safety off a ParaOrd Limited I had lying about. I grabbed a box of Remington 185gr MC ammo and took the old beater out on the range and... quelle surprise! No malfunctions! Aren't these unmodified vintage 1911s supposed to be jammomatics? ;) Anyway...

Pics to follow, as well as running commentary as various experiments get tried on the piece.

My gawd! It's like a Dick Tracy rogue's gallery...

Big Boy Caprice, Mumbles, Flattop, Chavez, Castro, Ahmadinejad, and Kim Jong Il's chief henchman, Kim Yong Nam, all gathered at the secret clubhouse of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants all at once. All within inner-tube-and-orange-crate raft range of Florida. You got Chavez running around and swearing that "blood will run" if the US messes with his buddies in Havana or Tehran. To my way of thinking, it seems like a chance too good to pass up. I mean, what the hell am I paying for all these cruise missiles for in the first place?

Friday, September 15, 2006

This Just In:

E. coli outbreak traced to bagged spinach; 1 dead, millions of children ecstatic.

"Now if they could only trace E. Coli to liver and onions," said Jeremy, age six, of Peoria, IL.

*&$%# Blogger...

Sorry for the seemingly narcissistic post; just needed a place to park a copy of this image online where Blogger could find it so I could use it in my profile...
Photo by Oleg Volk.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Irony Alert:

Courtesy of SayUncle, we get a link to an editorial at the Texas Tech daily rag where one Chris Kellerman, with the always-amazing ingenuousness of youth, argues for the repeal of the Second Amendment by throwing out the following line:
The founders are treated like prophets and the Constitution like the Bible. I am so tired of it! People throw quotes from Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin into political debates with me all the time, and I want to hit them in the face.
Let me clue you in on something, Chris; the threat of being punched in the face by strange young men with violent urges is what causes some folks to carry guns. You might want to re-think your phrasing there, sport.

I ain't goin' out like that...

This may come as a shock to people who only know me through my carefully-constructed web persona, but I'm really pretty much a shiny, happy person. I like kittens and flowers and blue skies full of fluffy clouds and smiling Mr. Sun. Also, I carry a gun.

Now, here in the upscale west end 'burbs of Knoxville, the odds of me ever needing to actually use my gat for anything other than a spot of recreational target practice are about the same as the odds of me winning the Powerball jackpot (and I don't buy tickets) but I carry one around just the same, more as a concealed symbol of my personal creed than anything else, the way some folks carry a St. Christopher's medal in their pockets. And my creed is a simple one: "I ain't goin' out like that."

Imagine a happy college campus, set in tightly-gun-controlled Canada. Not just in Canada, but in the part of Canada where they speak French, a language with more words for "surrender" than the Eskimos have for "snow". The only place that could be safer would be at a convention for Mother Theresa impersonators, right? Right. At least until some Emoid freak with a bad 'do, a Matrix wardrobe, and a cheesy plastic Beretta popgun shows up and tries to live out his Quake fantasies in real life.
"I saw the gunman who was dressed in black and at that time he was shooting at people," student Michel Boyer told CTV. "I immediately hit the floor. It was probably one of the most frightening moments of my life."
I ain't goin' out like that. Whether it's some Columbine wannabe who's heard the backward-masked messages on his Marilyn Manson discs, distressed daytrader off his Prozac, homegrown Hadji sympathetic with his oppressed brothers in Baghdad, or a bugnuts whackjob picking up Robert Frost quotes transmitted from Langley on the fillings in his molars, I am going to do my level best to smoke that goblin before my carcass goes on the pile. I am not going to go out curled into a fetal ball and praying for help that won't arrive in time.
Barone said a police officer emerged from a corner next to the cafeteria and fired a shot in the direction of the gunman no more than several yards away and missed him.
Even if the police are right there, it might not do me any good. Heck, I might not do me any good. But, dammit, I am going to try. If a 51 year-old nurse can overcome a hammer-wielding psycho with her bare hands, the least I can do is go out on my feet. I'm not going to wait for the coup de grace under a desk; I'm not going get in the abductor's car; I'm not going to comply with their demands; I'm not going gently.
Barone said as they were crawling out toward an exit they saw a girl who had been shot in the torso and who was face down surrounded by a pool of blood.

He said officers told them: "Don't look, don't look. Keep going out."
I ain't goin' out like that.

UPDATE: Marko weighs in with his views, as well as the Quote of the Day:
(As a side note, "killed by Canadian police" is high up on my list of "most uncool ways to die" much for going out in a blaze of glory, loser-boy.)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Blog Stuff: The coolest thing I've seen on the 'net in a while...

One day, back in early '00, a young man named Noah Kalina took a self portrait. The next day, he did the same thing. And so on, and so on, for the next six years. The result, converted to a time-lapse video and set to an original piano score, is an oddly haunting view of someone growing up. Pretty cool.

(H/T to Les Jones.)

Boomsticks: Coals to Newcastle...

UK cops broke up a smuggling operation that was running guns into England. "Hundreds" of guns were seized from a home in the London suburb of Dartford including, allegedly, fully automatic weapons. The heat in Ol' Blighty doesn't apparently go in for the meejia-photo-op "Junk On The Bunk" display, so it'll be hard for me to work up a full fit of snark, but from the one postage-stamp photo I've seen it looks like the smuggling ring managed to clean out the budget long gun racks at a pawn shop or three.

A gentleman with the impressive title of "Detective Chief Superintendant" breathlessly pointed out that "live ammunition was found lying on the floor." Shocking. Hope he never sees my closet. Anyhow, I couldn't help but note the irony of where the other end of the gun-running pipeline was plugged in: New Jersey. That's right, the state where you need official police permission to buy a Daisy Red Ryder.

Just another shining example of how strict gun laws work so well.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Supermodel (You better work!)

I'm too sexy for my rifle... :)

There's nothing that'll make me feel over the hill faster than standing in front of the VolkMeister's lens, especially in his groovy new studio. That said, some of the pics turned out quite well, and one will be my new blog picture. What I was happiest about were a couple where I was asked to point the carbine as though firing; Oleg gave me a DVD with some of the raw files as proofs and as I was scanning through them, I saw my own form with the weapon and thought "Good hand position, proper trigger finger discipline, nice cheekweld, elbows tucked in, great lean... Work it, girl!" :)

Funny Oleg's Studio story: Back when Marko and I were roomies, we drove out to Nashville for one of Oleg's soirees. Since we were out-of-town guests, he put us up in the only accommodations available. To wit, a big ol' queen-size air mattress in the downstairs room he was using for a studio. The air mattress was in the middle of the floor, surrounded by lights, reflectors, tripods, and other photographic paraphernalia. We both got our PJs on and climbed into the bed. Despite us being just platonic buddies (and graveyard tired to boot,) it took hours to fall asleep because every time one of us was about to nod off, the other couldn't resist humming "Bow-chika-bomp-baa!" a la cheesy '70s porno flick soundtrack, as a nod to all the camera gear surrounding the bed, resulting in fifteen minutes of helpless muffled snickering into the pillow (so as to avoid waking the other houseguests, who were snoring on every other available horizontal surface,) every time the gag was repeated.

Casa Volk ain't the place for the camera-shy, but don't worry: His mad, 1337 skillz will make you look good. :)

What a sucky way to go...

There is a drive to look good in this society. In a previous age, you were compared with the prettiest girl in the village; these days the village contains several billion girls, and the prettiest one gets paid many thousands of dollars to get her picture taken so that it can be put on billboards to remind you that even if you buy that particular brand of clothing, you still won't look like that.

It's enough to make folks self-conscious of their looks. I know that when I'm looking at pictures of me, it's all "Oh, that one makes me look too fat. That one makes me look too gawky. I look like I'm abusing 'roids in that one. Oh, christ, why didn't I take a bit of time with makeup?" It makes it easy to understand the insecurity that makes some folks willing to do anything to look just a little prettier. Plastic surgeons make their Porsche payments because they offer a no-muss, little-fuss nip-and-tuck improvement that appeals to folks who feel awkward about their looks.


At what point does one get the feeling that one's surgeon may not be on the up and up? I mean, there are plenty of only moderately competent docs with proper offices and I-love-me walls papered with the appropriate sheepskins (Old Joke: "What do you call the guy that graduated last in his class from med school?" "Doctor.") in every city in America, so when one is being led into the basement of a residential condominium by a guy with an accent and nary a board certification to his name, does it not get one's spider sense to tingling? Is there not a warning shiver that makes one think "This guy's going to be cutting on my face! What if something goes wrong? What if the anaesthesiologist dicks up? Where's the crash cart? What if I get sucked to death? What am I doing here?"

Apparently not. Apparently the drive to be pretty can run common sense right off the road and into a ditch...

Monday, September 11, 2006

Blog Stuff: Weekend Update.

When we last left our heroine, it was Friday afternoon and she was reading Domestic Enemies on the front porch. She'd left a couple of messages for Oleg, hoping to get driving directions to his house, but she hadn't been called back, so she figured she'd go upstairs and turn in way early (she hadn't had much sleep the last few nights, you see,) and make for an early start on Saturday...


"Hmph? Gawurflfrizzle?"


"Mrrphh... Hello?"

"Hey, Tam, it's Oleg..."

Sure enough, it was. It was 9:35 local. Having just had a refreshing forty-five minute nap, I stumbled out of bed, scribbled the directions he gave me on the back of a business card, and made like a character from the Matt Bracken novel I'd been reading: In fifteen minutes, the Beemer was loaded with a backpack full of clothes, toiletries, and a laptop, an armload of guns, and the rest of my "to go" gear. By 9:59 I'd hit the local Kwik-E Mart, topped off the tank with cash, and was westbound from K-town toward the 'Ville on I-40, hoping I didn't have to have a chat with Johnny Law at any point in my journey:

"Do you have any weapons in the car?"

"Sure, whaddaya need?"

A good time in Nashville was had by all, and I'm sure Oleg will have stories and pictures at his place, but my portion of the Rashomon-like tale will have to wait 'til I get home, because it's back to the grind this morning.

Five years later...

Osama's probably cave paste.

My driver's license is a de facto internal passport.

Iran's got the bomb.

Some days it's just not worth getting out of bed...

Friday, September 08, 2006

Books: Domestic Enemies update.

I'm on page 415, sitting on the front porch. There's cold cervazas in the fridge. Memories of my Terlingua vacation are drifting behind my eyes.

Allen Wayne Damron's Gringo Pistolero is playing softly from the boom box.

On my hip is a big Colt automatic, and on the bench next to me is a Springfield '03. Its sights are set to 800.

Life may be better somewhere, but I'll want to see proof. ;)

Blog Stuff: Whatever generates the hits...

In just one upping-the-ante LawDog post (plus comments), you can get boobies, tits, and big, wet jugs!


I love it!

Boomsticks: Caveat Emptor, baby...

"Combat shooting."

It's the last refuge of the incompetent shooter.

Whenever some "Reality-based instructor" tells you that they are going to teach you what really matters about pistol shooting, and their pitch includes things like "the sights don't matter", "tight groups are for prissy bullseye shooters", and "you want your hits to be spread around, so you have a better chance of hitting something vital", what they are really doing is trying to massage your ego, which is bruised by being unable to make an A-zone hit on demand, and trying to separate you from your hard-earned dollars.

If you are bound and determined to tote a pistol with you every day, the first skill you need to master, at least from an ethical standpoint, is being able to place a bullet exactly where you meant to place it. Remember: once it leaves your gun, you are going to pay for every single thing that bullet hits. Take your time; there's no rush. Then work on more rapid fire. Then work on snap shots from the low ready and from the holster. Then, and only then, work on things like "point shooting", "hip shooting", "instinctive shooting", the "speed rock", or whatever the new terminology is.

Don't try and massage your ego by telling yourself that even though you can't hit what you're aiming at, it's because you're a "real combat pistolero".

Remember: You will pay for everthing your bullet hits. Make sure you can hit only those things you want to buy.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Politics: Why Suzy can't dunk.

The Australian government recently spent a wad of money on figuring out why women's sports weren't more popular in generally sports-mad Oz.

A few thousand taxpayer dollars later, they located two culprits:

1.) Spandex.
2.) A lack of burkhas.

I can kinda understand the spandex thing; there have been times in my life when I'd have been less than enthusiastic about donning bike shorts just to play a game. Point two leaves me stumped, however.
"It would be great to see sports clubs look at their dress codes, for teenager girls, but especially for young women of the muslim faith. There's anecdotal evidence that one reason why young muslim women don't play sport is they've got to wear short skirts."
No matter how hard I try, I'm having a difficult time envisioning a quick pickup game of hoops while wearing a chador...

Blog Stuff: I have obviously missed the boat...


...and I got two thousand hits in one day for nowt but some lousy bikini pictures?!? I obviously need to rethink my strategy. (...although not breaking out into a raucous, hooting bout of laughter while trying to grope myself in time to a Dubya speech would be a Sisyphean task...)

(H/T to PDB and his obviously selfless dedication to scanning the daily... er,... political news.)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Books: It's gonna be a long night...

My downstairs neighbours dropped by the shop today bearing a little brown cardboard box plastered with the logo. I bounced up and down like a schoolgirl, realizing that my copy of Domestic Enemies by Matt Bracken had arrived.

I got home after work, settled in on the porch, popped open a beer, lit my citronella candle, and cracked the covers. It's now quarter to midnight, I'm one hundred and fifty three pages in, and sleep is nowhere on the horizon.

I'd type more, but I gotta get back to the book.

Review to follow...

Books: A window to the past...

I'm currently reading the Textbook of Automatic Pistols, written by an Englishman by the name of R.K. Wilson. The book is an extremely technical work that is still filled with that eminently readable dry British wit. It's mostly a compilation of articles written for the magazine "Game and Gun" in an England of seventy years past and, seemingly, light years away.

Apart from having to learn new words ("scear"=sear, "half-cock bent"=half-cock notch, "bullet envelope"=bullet jacket,) I'm mostly struck by the feeling of a message in a bottle from a parallel universe. Here are the words of a gentleman who shares my career field, coming from a land where that field is now, for all practical purposes, abolished. They echo to the present from a time of danger, as the publisher's note in the front of the book grimly states
"The completion of this work was interrupted by the breaking out of the present war..."
and the Author's Forward is addressed from his duty station with the 85th Field Regiment of the Royal Artillery.

I wonder where Lt. Col. Wilson's England went?

News Flash: Internet full of white dudes.

Virtually all U.S. schools are connected to the Internet. The gaps in Internet usage between whites and minorities, though sizable, are smaller during the school day.

That's not the case at home.

A total of 54 percent of white students use the Internet at home, compared with 26 percent of Hispanic and 27 percent of black youngsters.

Well, duh.

See, as much as all of us way-cool bloggers would like to deny it, in the larger, relentlessly anti-intellectual scheme of American pop culture, having your nose pressed against a monitor by your own free will in your own free time is still considered a pretty geeky thing to do. And from this dudette's perspective, geekiness seems to be largely a white dude's domain, Urkel notwithstanding.

Hopefully, MySpace will continue to exist as a gateway to the internet for folks who actually got dates in high school and haven't memorized the titles of every Star Trek episode.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Minutes of the First Monthly Symposium Towards a Taxonomy of Modern Dangers.

The symposium was held in a booth at the Mellow Mushroom pizza joint. In attendance were noted experts on modern dangers; namely Mr. P, Thing One, and myself.

Me: "Okay, we're here to sort out all the modern dangers that require folks to own guns. Everybody knows that the most imminent peril is Zombie Apocalypse, but what about the other dangers out there? What about pirates, ninjas, vampires, werewolves, killer space robots, face-eating monkeys, and hippies?"

Mr. P: "Wait, killer space robots? When did those get added to the list? You guys are just making this stuff up!"

Me: "No, they're dangerous. Trust me on this. You gotta be ready."

Thing One: (looking around) "Why are we in some hippie joint?"

Mr. P: "They have good pizza."

TO: "Ah. Okay."

Me: "Alright; we know that the vampires and the ninjas are in cahoots, because they're both basically shifty, plus they have that whole invisibility thing going on..."

Mr. P: "When's the food going to get here?... Hey, tomorrow I pick up my prescription Wayfarers. Wayfarers are cool; they let you see the ninjas."

Me: "Really?" (Pulls Wayfarers out of purse, puts them on, and scans restaurant.) "Huh. It's true! There aren't any ninjas here. I wonder why that is?"

TO: "It's the hippies. Ninjas hate hippies."

Mr. P: "It stands to reason. I mean, pirates are basically just hippies with a violent streak."

Me: "So the hippies and the pirates are on the same team! That'd make a hippie pizza restaurant the perfect pirate hideout!"

TO: "Naturally. Look there, in the kitchen. See the guy with the bandanna on his head? And the other guy, with the bushy beard and all the earrings? Those are obviously pirates."

Me: "...and pirates can't wear Wayfarers; that'd totally be against the pirate dress code, which is why they keep werewolves around, since they can smell the ninjas. Plus, since pirates are basically frugal, they can save money by feeding the ninjas to the werewolves."

Mr. P: "We have way too much time on our hands..."

Me: "I am so totally blogging this."

TO: "Here comes the pizza."


Okay, call me insensitive, but who didn't see this coming?

Swat the grizzly on the nose enough times, and it gets hard for folks to feign shock when you finally pull back a stump...

Monday, September 04, 2006

Sigh. Light blogging today...

In my younger days, next door to a Geek Store I frequented, was a dry cleaning establishment run by hard-working individuals of Middle Eastern origin. At the tail end of August, a hand-lettered cardboard sign went up in their window, announcing "We Open Lebber's Day."

Much like that dry cleaners, Coal Creek Armory is open Lebber's Day, and I have to get there, so the posting of the minutes of the first monthly Symposium Toward Describing A Taxonomy Of Modern Dangers will have to wait for tonight. Stay tuned to find out:

  • What could be almost as dangerous as Zombie Apocalypse.
  • How to see Ninjas.
  • Why there are no Ninjas at the Mellow Mushroom pizza joint.

...and much, much more.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Books: EFAD.

I'm re-reading Matt Bracken's Enemies Foreign and Domestic to get myself back up to speed on background while patiently waiting for Domestic Enemies: The Reconquista to arrive from Amazon. EFAD is an interesting read, and I'm naturally sympathetic to the heroine, what with her being a motorcycle-riding shooter and all. I remember someone asking Matt if he'd based the Ranya character on me. He replied by saying that he'd written the book before crossing electronic paths with me, but knowing I existed made him feel better about the plausibility of the character he'd written. :)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Boomsticks: "Somehow, I thought you'd be... shorter."

Boy was I all stoked about that Venezuelan carbine. I could hardly wait to get it home; I just lurve handy little Mauser carbines, and with its 17.6" barrel, this one should be even shorter and lighter than my Chilean 7mm carbine.

Only not.

TOP: Chilean M1895 Carbine
BOTTOM: Venezuelan FN24/30 Carbine

As it turns out, due to the fact that the Fabrique Nationale-produced gun is built on the large-ring '98 action, it is (despite having almost an inch less barrel) a pound heavier and a quarter inch longer overall than the earlier carbine. It's a nicely-made weapon; FN Herstal was originally formed to make Mausers under license for the Belgian army, and after WWI, as part of their war reparations from Germany, they recieved licenses for the latest Mauser designs and the right to sell them worldwide. (Incidentally, so did CZ Brno, and both companies eagerly took up the slack left by the absence of Oberndorf on the military arms export scene.)

The Chilean M1895 is about forty years older, and built on the small-ring Mauser action. My example was made by Ludwig Loewe in Berlin to the usual precise antebellum standards of German weaponry. These weapons are an interesting illustration of the proliferation of the European arms industry in the dying days of the colonial era. European arms houses cheerfully sought out contracts with emerging nations, who were all eager to have the latest and greatest weaponry. These two carbines, coming from former Spanish colonies, are chambered in the round originally developed for the Spanish army by Mauser in 1892. Folks can talk about the ubiquity of the AK or the service of the Enfield with a globe-spanning empire or the M16's forty-plus years in the hands of GIs, but from Oberndorf's first foreign contract with China in 1878 to the last shipments from Brno and Herstal in the '50s, when the world wanted rifles, it went shopping for Mausers.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Boomsticks: Gratuitous Gun Pr0n No. 36

Carbon steel, stainless steel, aluminum, titanium, adjustable sight, fixed sight, round butt, square butt, blued, nickel, polished, matte, N-frame, L-frame, six shot, five shot, wood, rubber, mother-of-pearl...

...there's just something about a .44 Special that's... well... special. :)