Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Family: 6 Months and Counting...

Six months ago today, I married the most beautiful woman in the whole world. How are we celebrating? I'm leaving town on a business trip and will be gone until Friday. I guess that's what my wife gets for marrying such a bad boy.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Guns and Politics: Liberty

Someone's signature on a firearms forum I frequent had the following quote from a New York Times editorial written by editor (and huge liberal) Verlyn Klinkenborg:
Sometimes I think the N.R.A. isn’t really about guns at all. It’s about making certain that the public — our political and civil society, in other words — has no ability to limit the rights of an individual. That is really what the logic of the “concealed carry” and “shall require” and “shoot first” laws says.

Guns make a perfect test case, because the end result is an armed cohort that is very prickly about its personal rights.
Uh oh, fellas, they're catchin' on!

Lord knows this is why I give the NRA my money in any case. The 2nd Amendment is not in the Constitution to protect hunters. It is there so that the people will have the means to violently resist local tyrants and overthrow their own government if necessary.

UPDATE: David asked if Short Barreled Rifles are legal in Delaware. A quick scan of the Delaware Code indicates that silenced firearms, automatic weapons, and any sort of short-barreled or sawed-off shotgun are illegal. The law does not mention short barreled rifles so they may be legal in Delaware provided you purchase them legally and have the appropriate tax stamp to satisfy federal law.

Guns: Tiny Terrors

Several people have shown me this .17 caliber small scale browning machine gun. Frankly, were I to purchase a small caliber "automatic" weapon, it wouldn't be that one. The gun is a true Class III machine gun which means it is illegal in Delaware (and would require giving Uncle Sam additional money if it wasn't). .17 rimfire ammo isn't cheap either.

No I'd much rather go with a gatling gun in .22 long rifle. The ammo is cheap ($10 for 500 rounds) and it isn't a machine gun according to the Feds because you have to constant turn a crank to fire it. There are kits available so you can build one yourself, but they don't appeal to me. I would rather go with the unfortunately expensive small-scale historical guns.

Politics: Global Warming

Hurricane season ends on Thursday after a grand total of 9 named storms. A little over half made it to hurricane status. What did the globe stop warming or something?

Family: Leftovers

Amy and I dined on some lasagna my Uncle cooked for the crowd at my parents place over the weekend. And some pie and banana bread nobody got around to eating. Man, I have to start hitting the gym.

I have come to the realization that lasagna is practically the perfect "leftover" food. Once-cooked lasagna becomes "twice-baked" lasagna when you reheat it. Provided you don't overcook it, the reheated variety is even yummier than the original. I shall have to look into this further...

Blogging: Not the Grammar Police

But I might be an informant. I thought I did pretty well, especially for an engineer:
Your Language Arts Grade: 100%

Way to go! You know not to trust the MS Grammar Check and you know "no" from "know." Now, go forth and spread the good word (or at least, the proper use of apostrophes).

Are You Gooder at Grammar?
Make a Quiz

By the way, the last question does count. I did the test both ways to see. Thanks Anna.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Gear: Pneumatic Rocketry

My cousin's kids were playing with an Air Hogs pneumatic rocket during their stay at my parents place. It is an amazingly simple yet fun toy. My brother and I even had a go pumping it up and launching it. About the only way to hurt someone with it is if they're standing on top of the rocket when someone fires it off. When playing with careless 4 year-olds, that happens more than you might think. But even then I think most of the injury would be to the person's pride. Really, it's fun for all ages.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Fun: Taking Them at Their Word

Kim Du Toit is relating an amusing and surprisingly non-firearms related anecdote.
Clearly, our soon-to-be ex-motorcyclist is either a young man, or on his first marriage, or both. For the benefit of my Readers who may fall into any of these categories, allow me to translate.

“Do whatever the f*** you want!” does not actually mean you may do whatever you want.

It really means: “If you don’t buy me flowers within the next two hours, you’re a dead man.”
Yup. If a woman ever defers to your preference in a statement that includes an exclamation point or profanity, you're in trouble. It doesn't mean she actually defers to you. It means she is so angry with you that she can no longer articulate it.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

God and Politics: Thanksgiving

I really like Thanksgiving. It is probably my favorite holiday just because the Puritans seem to have gotten it right. They said that Christmas was too commercial (even in the 17th century) so lets establish a non-commercial holiday. A holiday you celebrate by getting the family together, thanking God, and eating food. And it worked.

To this day Thanksgiving is practically commercially incorruptible. Other than turkey sales and a few other things, businesses go from Halloween costumes straight to Christmas decorations. And Thanksgiving, if not about God in many households, is at least about family. Which I'm fine with because, in comparison, a modern Christmas is ultimately more about things than people.

Anyway, Steve put up the original Thanksgiving Proclamation made by George Washington in 1789. I'm sure if someone gave it today, people would be screaming "Theocracy!" Which just goes to show how far we have come.

Guns and Politics: No-Knocking on Heavens Door

So a 92 year-old woman was killed in a mistaken no-knock raid in Atlanta, Georgia. I initially saw it on Instapundit, but he links to good coverage at Reason. QandO also has good commentary and thankfully avoids standard Libertarian rhetoric like "how many people have to die in the War on some Drugs."

I hate no-knock warrants. Cato has a Google Maps chart of where they have gone wrong. It is an impressive list, yet it is not a comprehensive listing. While I conceed that these types of warrants may be necessary, I think police officers should be held liable for their actions in civil and even criminal courts when they go wrong (instead of assumed sovereign immunity). That should drastically reduce their frequency.

Guns: Abercrombie & Fitch

Why can't I get these at the mall? It would blow away an overpriced fleece that's for damn sure. At one point Abercrombie was much closer to Cabela's than its current incarnation. At least Old Navy hasn't gone crazy yet. I just wish I could buy an Colt 1851 there.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Wheels: Danish Speed Control

Words escape me. Might this have the same effect as traffic cameras, less speed but more frequent accidents?

Fun: Maps and Statistics

World Mapper scales the physical size of nations according to various statistics like land area, population, or GDP. Some make for interesting pictures, others make me wonder about how some statistics may skew analysis when used in a vacuum (like birth rate).

Blogging: Test of the Week

You paid attention during 100% of high school!

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Create a Quiz

Via Tamara.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Blogging: Speeling and Grammor

So I just searched my archives for the word "udpate." You know, my most common misspelling of "update". There were more occurrences of that than I care to admit. But they're fixed now. I wonder what other common transpositions I have lurking in my archive?

Wheels: The Super 7

Did you know that there was a Caterham 7 dealer in Wilmington? Yup Mid-Atlantic imports and sells them from New York to DC. I never realized they were so close.

Anyway, the Caterham cars are pretty amazing. Unfortunately they're also fairly expensive and impractical. Until you realize that a 7 will outrun and out-handle a Ferrari. The CSR can take an Enzo at a 20th the price. The $30-50k you spend on one might be a bargain.

Guns: What is Wrong with this Picture?

I've never tried to do that, but it can't be easy...

UPDATE: Here is a closer look...

For those not in the know, AR-15 mags don't normally bend that way. This police officer has somehow managed to put her magazine in the rifle upside down and backwards. How I don't know, because they're designed so that they won't go into the magazine well that way. It does not look like she has multiple mags clipped or taped together. Even if she did, they wouldn't normally bend that way.

Fun: Worst Burglar Ever and Friends

Anna Venger lead sent us this YouTube video after the Friday night DCBA meet up. Why doesn't it surprise me that this guy knew how to properly assume the position at the end of the video?

For another more self-deprecating bit of humor, check out this commentary on blogging from Philtube.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Gun Politics: Fool or Patriot

I don't know what to make of this guy. Long story short, a bunch good ole boys get together a form a militia under the laws of the state of Arkansas which provide for such things. As a duly constituted and regulated militia, they manufactured several sub-machine and machine guns. Then they called the Feds and asked whether the ATF would like to arrest them for what they did. After an 8 month long post-confession investigation, the Feds finally serve warrants and arrest them. They aim to test the constitutionality of current firearms law in court. Hopefully in the Supreme Court.

Well he's got stones. Brains? Jury is still out on that one, but definitely stones.

Politics: Vietnam and Iraq

Steve has this to say about President Bush's recent statements on the war:
So President Bush shared in his trip to Vietnam that one of the lessons learned from that war was, "We'll succeed unless we quit." What? That's the lesson we learned in Vietnam? I am not an expert in the Vietnam war, but I'm pretty sure that wasn't the primary lesson that we learned.
Actually it was, especially when you get down to the military nitty-gritty of the war. As someone who has worked or contracted for the US Army since I was in college, the lesson the military (and by extension the government) learned from Vietnam is that the only place we will lose a war is the home front. The enemy cannot stand against us in battle in either a fair or an unfair fight. They can sting us and hurt us, but they cannot stop us. But the people of the United States can and probably will lose heart if the enemy bloodies our nose badly enough and often enough.

Because of this realization, the military has extensively researched force-multiplying technologies since the end of the Vietnam War. Better armor. Better weapons. Robots to do dangerous missions instead of men. Etc. Etc. Why? So the enemy can't put pictures of American dead on TV like in Vietnam or Somalia or Iraq. The military can't fix America's glass jaw, so their only option is to try to win the war quickly and decisively so we don't take those casualties in the first place.

Gear: Sucking It Up

PGJF has this to say on vacuums:
Bagless is ten times filthier than any bag vacuum I had ever used. You have to empty the canister after each use, which means you have to do it outside if you don't want to spray dust everywhere (and I do mean everywhere) inside your house. The HEPA filter is great, except that it completely clogs after each use. So you have to remove and tap out the filthy, dusty filter after each use. It's positively nasty.
That is my experience with the bagless Dirt Devil I bought several years ago. I often have to vacuum and clean the kitchen after I empty the dirt cup, because there is no sense cleaning it before. Nasty gray dirt gets everywhere. And it seems Dirt Devil has changed filter designs on me so I'm just reusing the old one over and over. I generally prefer my parent's bagful machines to the current bagless ones.

I don't have any complaints about the suction or cleaning power of the vacuum itself though. Generally if it isn't picking anything up, it is because I've "vacuumed" our entire apartment with the vacuum set to "hose" instead of "floor". Doh.

Blogging: The Bloggies

Nominations for the 2006 Weblog Awards are now open. Physics Geek, Jesus Freak nominated me for Best Individual Blog. That's really flattering. And I didn't even have to twist his arm or put a gun to his head. As I have no chance of winning in that category, if someone wants to nominate me (hint hint nudge nudge knowhatimean) for something I might potentially win, then Best 2500 to 3500 Blog is probably the way to go.

Oh and did anyone notice that there is no Best Religious Blog category this year? I wonder why since God Blogging is a major blogging subcategory.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Gear: Small Scale CNC

I get to see cool stuff because of work sometimes. Working for the Army does that. Today that cool thing was a desktop or worktable-top computer controlled CNC mill. A bunch of robotics engineers needed a mill and rather than wait in line at the base machine shop, they just built one from the equivalent of an old drill press. There are sites to help you put the hardware together and free software to handle the Computer Numerical Control of the system.

Oh and if those engineers got really bored, maybe they'd CNC their Etchasketch.

UPDATE: Fixed the link to the Linux EMC software.

Fun: Zombie Games

Other battling the undead hordes in Urban Dead (which I really enjoy) you might want to try playing Zombies 4 and Winter Zombies. They're simple java-based shooters where you try to contain and confront a zombie outbreak on a series of maps. It's good fun. Winter Zombies seems to be a bit more difficult than Zombies 4 so you might want to start with Zombies 4 first.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Wheels: Minicars

If even I'm in Atlanta, I'm going to have to stop by the Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum. As their excellent website demonstrates, it's the home of more microcars than I thought existed in the US. The Whattadrag Isetta is great of course, but for some reason I kind of like the Messerschmitt KR200s and the lotus-esque styling of Goggomobil DART.

I can't help but wonder what would happen if you put a modern engine, even a sub-800cc motorcycle or scooter engine, into something like this. The KR200 only weighed 500-550 lbs, so it wouldn't take much. Unfortunately I doubt the suspension could handle it, but hey you'd have built yourself a pretty quick little coffin.

UPDATE: Hey somebody in the UK makes reproductions of these things.

UPDATE2: The ME KR200 is a trike, which means it is probably classified as a motorcycle in the US. Does that mean you might actually have a reason to own one of those stahlhelm-styled motorcycle helmets? I mean if I owned a Messerschmitt I'd certainly think about buying one. Or maybe a pickelhaube, that would have less Nazi overtones.

Guns: Marine Corps. Rules of Gunfighting

Joe Carter posts these oft-mentioned rules of combat. Also as usual, most of the comments that follow are barely worth reading. It really must suck to be Joe, he writes good stuff and then has it torn to pieces by idiots. Sometime I wonder why he keeps it up.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Fun: Evil Tree Rats

From Steve on squirrels:
It's been a little while now since the breaking and entering incident when one snuck in to my apartment, snagged a Little Debbie brownie and relaxed on my fouton, but I still find them to be strangely amusing but destructive little creatures.
I knew we got the cat for a reason.

Guns: Robbing the Wrong Guy Redux

Two guys break into your house and start threatening your kid with a pistol. What do you do? You grab the only weapon that is handy, in this case a sword you have under the couch, and cut the guy's trigger finger off before he can do any damage. He and his buddy high tail it. The best part? The cops print the finger and the guy had a record.

Gear: Electric Motors

MakeZine is linking to these old plans for building your own electric motor. We made something like this in high school as a lab experiment. Lets just say that it didn't go very well for most of us. The plans we used were frankly pretty crappy and everyone had trouble getting them to work. In the end we had to make them work by altering the design as best we could. I think I finally threw my motor out when Amybear and I were busy trying to fit all our stuff into one apartment.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Fun: Great Caesar's Ghost!

I'm no Perry White, but two British cops dressing up as Batman and Robin to catch a crook off his guard is hilarious. Several British papers are covering it. A few funny quips:
PC Eames said: "The bad thing about the operation is that we had to endure hours of terrible puns from PC Holman [who was dressed as Robin]."
Unfortunately form didn't exactly follow function:
"But it was difficult finding somewhere to put my CS spray. There was nowhere for the handcuffs, but then Batman does not need handcuffs."
Come on Sgt Smith, everyone knows that is what the utility belt is for!

Will they do it again next year? Same bat-time, same bat-constabulary?

Fun: Shonen Knife

Shonen Knife is what you get when you have Ramones-style music played by Japanese women. Turns out Amybear likes them a lot after being introduced to them by my brother. I have to admit that a lot of the tracks on their Happy Hour CD are darned catchy.

Guns: Robbing the Wrong Guy

If you're going to hold up a used car salesman, don't rob the one in the NRA hat.

As an aside, I'm not fond of wearing second amendment related merchandise while carrying. Whenever I see someone wearing pro-gun t-shirts or hats, I start looking for tell-tale lumps or concealment devices. Is that a fanny pack placed in the cross-draw position? A big lump on their belt? A "photographers" vest with nary a camera in sight? Come on people, at least try.

I remember way back when one of the News Journal Columnists, maybe Rhonda Graham, suggested that Delaware should require individuals exercising their concealed carry permits to wear a special identifying badge to let people know that they were armed. It was a very stupid idea, especially considering the tiny number of Delawareans who are actually allowed to carry by the state. Yet hundreds of gunnies do it to themselves when they walk out of the house.

Gear: The True Meaning of Tools

If Mister Murphy wrote a metal shop manual, it would look much likethe descriptions of tools and shop devices written by other members of Team Moon Robotics. A friend of mine had a Mustang for which this holds true:

A tool ten times harder than any known drill bit that snaps off in bolt holes you couldn't use anyway.
Their description of the true nature of owners manuals (A completely useless object containing the manufacturer's liability disclaimers and inane safety warnings) is equally true.

Gear: The Hammock

Thanksgiving is approaching and with it my family's annual contest to see how many relatives we can cram into my parents house for the holiday weekend. Perhaps these would be of some use. Or maybe not.

I actually spent a week or two sleeping in a hammock on a missions trip to Mexico back in High School. We were building a seminary down there. The hammock is still around somewhere, but I never found the thing to be minutely comfortable. Even when I was in my teens and they bothered my back if I spent any amount of time in them. I can't imagine what a hammock would do to me now.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Guns and Politics: Gun Control

Now that the Democrats are in control of congress, the big question is "How long until we see gun control legislation coming out of the Capitol Building?"

It's a good question. Gun control has been one of the issues that the Democrats have avoided in the past few years, largely because it has been seen as a loser for them. They passed the Assault Weapons Ban in '94 and lost Congress. Bill Clinton has blamed gun control for Gore's lost in the 2000 presidential election. And the new class of Democrats are a fairly conservative bunch for the party considering how heavily they mined the ex-military for candidates.

That said I still don't trust them. I agree with most of the firearms community, that a new Assault Weapons Ban or other more egregious legislation could find its way into the next anti-terror bill. So I'll be stocking up on high capacity magazines for my AR-15 and Hipower just in case. Oh and I may put together that cartridge converted C&B cowboy pistol I've wanted for a while. It can't hurt to have a pistol off the books (but still legal) at this point.

What is really going to hurt is the coming tax increase. Most of the Democrats around here seem to have run on that platform. That is going to really cut into any money I can put towards a house especially in terms of monthly mortgage payments.

Guns and Politics: Veterans Day

It's tomorrow, but have you thanked a vet yet?

I've always been to republish past posts, but this one from a D-Day is still topically relevant.

UPDATE: This is how to thank a vet properly.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Politics: Rumsfeld Resigns

Good. People have been saying that we are losing the war for a while. "Iraq is sliding into Civil War, etc." We've heard that for months on end. And mostly it's scaremongering. They're generally wrong about us losing the war. We're taking constant, but sustainable, losses. That doesn't mean we're losing the war. Losing the war is taking constant and unsustainable losses. There is a difference.

But taking constant losses is still a problem. It means things aren't getting any better. We are currently just holding our positions. We aren't winning. We aren't going to lose in Iraq unless we lose our will to fight (which may have happened yesterday). But we can't keep doing what we're doing and expect good things to come of it.

We need to change, adapt, and overcome to win. Rumsfeld has been hesitant to do any of that. So he's out. And I don't think many people will miss him.

Fun: Lockpicking

Just what we need in these troubled times, a comic book on how to pick locks.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Politics: Voting Twice

It occurs to me that I might be able to vote twice. No, I didn't discover a dead aunt who is still on the voting roles. We all know Democrats get the zombie vote anyway. No, my lovely wife simply hasn't made up her mind yet. I think all the TV advertising has brought her to the conclusion that all the candidates are lying. Well to some extent they probably are. But after dinner tonight when I head to the polls, I'll be trying to convince her to join me in voting for Ferris Wharton with my last breath.

Oh and for other stories of people voting twice or not at all, try Colossus. And remember, if the Republicans scrape by, it's a fix. And voting for Black Republicans is voting for Barrabas.

Political Fun: Comedy Gold

Via Locusts and Honey, it's the further comedy stylings of John Kerry!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Family: Darn Genetics

Ah so it's recessive gene MC1R that I have to blame for my inability to tan. Darn you Chromosome 16!

Fun: The Trojan Horse

It still works in Australia, although it seems the Turks learned their lesson. Via Geek with a .45.

Family: The Southern End of a Northbound Cat

Well we found out something is wrong with our cat. Or should I say that something else is wrong with the cat since he has already been treated for worms and some minor flea troubles.

Milo had an accident last week. It was all the more momentous because he had it on me while I was half asleep in bed. We had purchased a new litter box a few days before, it was covered and I assumed this was our cat telling to us that he didn't like the new way of doing things. We took the lid off the box and haven't had any more trouble. Amybear, being a better kitty parent than I am, though he might being having urinary tract trouble in addition to trouble with the litter box.

A few days later I went with her to our vet, who is an interesting guy. He just seems to spend a lot of time around animals and perhaps not enough time around people. When we told him what was going on, he suggested that there might be urinary tract trouble and proceeded to feel up the cat to see whether he could provide a urine sample. Milo hadn't gone in a while so the vet took him into the next room and squeezed the piss out of him. Literally.

When the lab results came back, it turns out that Milo does indeed have a moderate problem with crystals in his urine. Sort of like kitty kidney stones, only not as severe. We're in the process of switching him onto a special diet and Amybear is looking into a new water dish or other product to get his fluid intake up.

UPDATE: Amybear has a slightly more up-to-date take on the story at the cat blog.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Gear: Fun with Electrochemistry

So you have an LED, thirteen pennies, thirteen dimes, thirteen metal paperclips, an ice cube tray, and some salt water. What else do you have? A flashlight. File that away in your survival tech folder.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Fun: Accents

From Hube:

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: Philadelphia

Your accent is as Philadelphian as a cheesesteak! If you're not from Philadelphia, then you're from someplace near there like south Jersey, Baltimore, or Wilmington. if you've ever journeyed to some far off place where people don't know that Philly has an accent, someone may have thought you talked a little weird even though they didn't have a clue what accent it was they heard.

The Midland
The Inland North
The South
The Northeast
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Fun: Powerpoint Rangers

Heh, you'd think this would have occurred to me while I was making slides today.

Fun: Truest T-shirt Evar

From the Onion, via Tamara.

Update: Well that was an embarrassing typo. It seems Firefox's spell checker contains some four letter words I didn't expect. I'll have to remember that.

Fun: Urban Dead

If you're feeling a little bored, try Urban Dead. It's an online massive multiplayer where you are a survivor of the zombie apocalypse. Or one of the zombies. You play it through your web browser via a scripting language. Currently I'm the latter, largely because I chose the wrong class to start with (fireman or scout are good choices if you want to live). Scouts get you into buildings. Firemen have an axe so you can't ever run out of ammo.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Politics: John Frickin' Kerry

Truth be told, I'm sick of this election cycle and have been for months. You probably have noticed that considering the amount of time I'm spending writing about the cat and what girlie movies Amy made me watch this weekend. And I'm already sick of John Kerry. I've been sick of him for over two years now.

But this response to his recent comments by the Minnesota National Guard deserves a link. Via the Anchoress.

Wheels: Steaming Away

So I have steam power on my mind right now. For fun stuff to look at I suggest the Steam Car Club of Great Britain and Steam Automobile Club of America. I especially like the Field Mk II steam bike at the UK site. Steam bikes seem like the way to go from a practical (if steam power can be called practical) sense since it gets you around a lot of motor vehicle regulations. If I ever want to really piss Amybear off, a steam bike is the garage project for me.

Gear: The Periodic... Spiral?

What an interesting idea. As many people remember from high school and college chemistry, the periodic table is useful. But in many ways it is only sort of useful. Hydrogen is only sort of like the other elements in its column. You have that staircase where properties start shifting as the atoms get bigger. The lanthanides and actinides don't really fit where they belong in the middle of the table. The periodic spiral tries to remedy all that. Whether it actually does it is for you to decide.

Family: All Saints Day

I hope everyone enjoyed Halloween. Amybear and I celebrated by dressing up the cat. Doesn't he look happy? I hope everyone celebrates All Saints Day with equal vigor, by ... uh ... going to convenience stores and picking up lots of candy for 50% off. As a good Christian, I intend to do my duty in that regard.

Review: Lost Loses a Viewer

I'm not a Lost watcher. It seemed like too much work to me at the time. Now that it's a few seasons in, it is definitely too much work for me to catch up. So I never got the show and I never got into the show. Now people that have and did are getting out:
I'm acting as Gabe's proxy in this strip - essentially, he's "broken up" with Lost. It's complicated by the fact that he holds weekly "Lost Nights," where Lost-themed snacks are sometimes offered, but he's come to conclusion that there's no story actually being told. He no longer believes that events are happening according to some overarching plan. Watching the show now is apparently awful, because where he once perceived a carefully revealed structure he now just sees a couple guys out back beneath a tarp, flashlights held under the chin.
That sounds like the reason I stopped watching the X-files in college. There wasn't any there there. X-files had lots of different puzzle pieces, but it was pretty apparent that the writers had never figured out what the picture looked like before they made the pieces. Nothing really fit. I wonder if Lost is having similar problems.