Sunday, December 30, 2007

What's He Up To

I've spent the week making a fair amount of deferred home improvements. The curled linoleum in my kitchen is now tacked down. Our good china is now in quilted containers in the new china cabinet. Except for the broken ones which went back to Bed, Bath, and Beyond for replacement. A bunch of pictures have been hung with something akin to care. All that and I've slept in, played Mercenaries on PS2, and gotten the cat reacquainted with what I look like. It's been a good vacation.

Ideally I'd have rebuilt my blog layout over the break too, but I may run out of time before that happens. I still have several items on my list and I don't know whether it'll get done before I go back to work on Wednesday. There's always my Friday off though.

Gift Cards

Geek with a .45 hates them, likening the gift card to giving someone foreign currency. On the other hand, Billy Hollis at QandO and myself (and the rest of America) gave them as presents. Why? Because this year people in my family specifically asked for them. Foreign currency? If you keep with that analogy, wouldn't real gifts be some type of barter system?

The key with gift cards is to treat them like gifts not like they're cash. Make sure you buy someone a gift card to somewhere they shop. Do not buy them one from somewhere you shop. For that matter if you're mailing it to someone out of town, make sure they have that store within convenient shopping distance. My sister gave my wife and I several gift cards to Trader Joes. It's a wonderful establishment and I'm sure my sister loves it, but the nearest one is 30 minutes of highway from us and we never shop there anyway. Amy's Grandmother gave me a gift card to Books-A-Million for Hanukkah a couple years ago. The nearest BAM is on the other side of Baltimore so spending it was problematic.

And despite what they say at Geek's, cash is a horrible gift. It generally says "I didn't spend any effort buying this gift." In comparison, a gift card says "I bet you like to shop here, buy yourself something on me." I've given someone cash once in recent memory. I thought they might have a better use for cash than an extravagant item, because the recipient had just been laid off. Looking back, it was probably a crappy present and I should have just bought him something nice.

A Word for Telemarketers

This applies to everyone but especially the Police Athletic League and Fraternal Order of Police. If you call my home at 8am on a Sunday and wake my wife up from some especially restful slumber, don't expect me to give you money. This goes double for the local FoP who seem to be dedicated to running good officers out of the force and opposing gun reforms.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Doors

After months of trying, Amybear and I have a new front door at Casa del Baptiste. When we bought the house, the front door frame was rotted out and the seal on the transom window was blown. I wonder if we can get any tax breaks come income tax day?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Gun Myths: Part 1

If you read gun boards, you inevitably run across the same garbage over an over again. Here are two I saw today:

Myth 1: The amount of energy a bullet has is the most important thing in it's terminal ballistics.

Truth be told, bullets don't have that much energy. If you took all the kinetic energy from a bullet fired from my AR-15 and used it to heat a standard 8oz cup of coffee, you'd raise the coffee's temperature by a couple of degrees Fahrenheit. That's it, just a couple of degrees. And handgun bullets are much less powerful than rifle rounds.

This is important because humans are a lot like a cup of coffee. We're mostly water with some extra organic compounds. Bullets really don't have that much energy compared to what our body can absorb. So it isn't the amount of energy that matters, it is how that energy gets used. You want a bullet that is good at breaking stuff and the right stuff. You want a bullet that will penetrate deeply to the very important parts of the human body like the heart, lungs, and central nervous system. The parts that are buried deeply because it makes them difficult to injure. Then you want it to damage those critical parts when it gets there.

Now more energy is good because tends to help you put the hurt on. But "tends" is a key word because it doesn't have to do that. You really need to look at expected penetration and expansion rather than some energy number. Why? Because manufacturers like to sell ammo by putting up big energy numbers. They do this by using very light bullets that won't penetrate as well as a slower, less energetic round will. The light bullet just doesn't have the mass to provide adequate penetration.

Myth 2: Caseless firearms don't need extraction systems.

Caseless ammunition is ammunition that does not have a traditional brass cartridge. It uses a different technology so that, if everything goes well, the case is either consumed in firing or sent out the barrel with the bullet. The closest caseless ammunition has been to fielding is the G11 rifle the Germans were working on when the Cold War ended. Caseless has its problems, like ammo durability and heat transfer issues. One of it's reported strengths is that it simplified gun design because you not longer need to extract the case. This is largely BS. Why? Because there are lots of reasons people want to get a bullet out the chamber of a rifle.
  • If the gun fails to fire, the standard clearance drill is the Tap, Rack, Bang drill. You tap the magazine to make sure it is seated properly, rack the bolt to get a new round in the chamber from that magazine, and fire the gun. If you don't have a manual extraction system on the gun, you can't do the rack step so it won't clear several kind of problems. This is something that needs to be done easily in combat.
  • Standard procedures for making firearms safe and storing them generally require an empty chamber on the gun. How do you do that without an extractor of some sort? This is something that is performed routinely and ought to be accomplished easily.
So you need at least a manual extraction system even for caseless guns. Once you have a streamlined manual system, making it automatic isn't hard. You just make sure recoil or gas pressure exerts similar forces in similar places that the rifleman's hand does.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


I share John the Methodist's love of the Western. I've read a few Louis L'amour books, but really it's all about John Wayne movies on AMC. I watched a lot of Gunsmoke and Maverick on TV Land when I was out of work after I finished Grad School. I have half a mind to put a few disks of Have Gun-Will Travel on my Netflix queue.

I almost bought myself a cowboy pistol this weekend. When I stopped by Millers Gun Center in Newcastle, they had an Uberti Cattleman Hombre chambered in .38/.357 for $300. I don't love the guns matte finish, but the price is right and with .38 specials I could actually afford to shoot the darn thing. In the end I passed on it, mostly because I don't actually like Colt Peacemakers very much. My hand doesn't fit on the grip quite right so the recoil bugs me. I might not have that problem with a .38, but why risk it? Besides I have more important things to spend $300 on right now.

UPDATE: Reminder to self, Numrich Gun Parts carries a variety of .45 ACP cylinders for the Uberti Single Action Armies. They even have them in the rough but cheap matte "millenium" finish. For about ~$110 you can turn a .45 colt SAA into a .45 ACP SAA. This is important because a .45 colt gun costs almost twice as much to feed as a .45 ACP gun and, since my 1911 is also .45 ACP, I already have the ammo lying around. The cost of the new cylinder would probably pay for itself within 500 rounds.

UPDATE2: John waxes poetic about the Winchester rifle, but he wants a Marlin. I guess Winchester's marketing department isn't what it used to be. I wouldn't mind trading my M1 carbine for a good lever gun myself.

UPDATE3: Turns out the .45 ACP guns are generally more accurate than the .45 colts. .45 colt has a huge amount of case volume compared to more modern cartridges. The amount of modern powder required to achieve it's pressure spec is just tiny. You can do the same thing with a .45 ACP case and have much less wasted space, which makes for a more accurate round.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Clinton III: Bride of Clintonstein

QandO is discussing Bill Clinton's worth as an asset to Hillary's presidential campaign:
Bill's addition to the campaign is reminding voters that the Clintons come as a package and what they're getting is not change, but the return of the old guard.
Amybear and I were watching a Babwah Waltahs special a little while ago. Babwah was profiling the years most interesting people. One of them turned out to be ole Slick Willy himself. The interview eventually tackled the topic of Hillary's campaign and his position in her potential presidency. But what Bill said was essentially "well I wouldn't want to sit in on every cabinet meeting..." Klaxons started going off in my head.

Bill expects to have a position in Hillary's presidency similar to her position within his own two terms. Unlike most First Lady's who are little more than presidential cruise directors, Hillary was a serious policy maker. Bill is not going to be a grand old man standing aside to let his wife make all the decisions. Bill's presidency was criticized for being the most joint presidency since John and Abigail Adams. Hillary's will be the same. Shudder.

Shaving Tools

Kim du Toit is chastising James Lileks for his choice in shaving implements. Now, if there is one thing that men care about, it is shaving. Why? Because we all hate slitting our own throats, that's why.

I'm a Mach 3 guy. I don't care about the three blades, but I do really like the head design. It just tracks my face well. I seem to cut myself less with it than it's predecessors. I started using it after a boss told me the hype was justified. On the other hand, one of my coworker's hates the Mach 3 and won't use anything more modern than a 2-bladed Sensor. I'm sure there are people out there whose tool of choice are old-school safety razors or even cutthroat straight razors.

Shaving foams are the same way. I also use aerosol foam and I don't really care about which kind. They all keep my place equally well. But I know people who demand a badger brush or a particular brand of soap. To each their own.


The Right Coast is discussing watches and they recommend the Seiko Black Automatic Diving Watch. I suppose it is a nice piece of equipment, but it is also massive. I don't like massive watches because I have rather fine wrists. I'd rather not look like I'm carrying a diving bell around on my wrist.

I bought a Hamilton Khaki automatic as a splurge gift on my honeymoon. It is a great watch as long as you wear it. It's an autowinder so if you leave it on the nightstand for a day, you'll have to reset it. I love the sapphire crystal which is so hard that scratching it would require actual effort. It also has military time on the face, which I require in all my watches because I actually use it at work.

I still wear the Timex beater it replaced, usually to the shooting range. It is a good solid watch, but it's also disposable.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Buggerit Millennium Hand and Shrimp

Terry Pratchett has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. The announcement on Paul Kidby's website shows he hasn't lost his wit though:
I would just like to draw attention to everyone reading the above that this should be interpreted as 'I am not dead'. I will, of course, be dead at some future point, as will everybody else. For me, this maybe further off than you think - it's too soon to tell. I know it's a very human thing to say "Is there anything I can do", but in this case I would only entertain offers from very high-end experts in brain chemistry.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Does My Life Amount to Something?

Bold the ones you've done:

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree

10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm.
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise

14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can

32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster

35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and didn’t care who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer

40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends

43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero

58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football

61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain

65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married

73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Gotten flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music

87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
98. Passed out cold
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about

130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life

From Paul Smith

Hostile Work Environment

All my coworkers are sick. They're hacking up lungs on the other side of the cubicle dividers like two pack a day smokers. Its times like these that I really wish I had taken more Vitamin C this morning.

UPDATE: The prime cough contributor has realized that they are sick and went home early. Woot!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas Sales

They're fun, especially when they involve full tang carbon steel katanas retailing for under $50. These aren't the greatest katana ever, but they will hold up to my typical light cutting exercises like soda bottles.

UPDATE: In anti-zombie equipment news, Cold Steel has most of their "special projects" items on sale. This includes their handy tomahawks and their pole axe which is actually on closeout for $30.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

About Integrity

Paul Smith has a good piece expressing concern about Mitt Romney's "JFK" speech:
The problem with both Romney's and Giuliani's statements (and JFK's) is that they seem to compartmentalize their religious beliefs. They are claiming to have religious beliefs, but that they won't carry them over to their activities as President. If you're truly devoted to God, how can your belief in Him not carry over to every part of your life? We should strive to make God part of every moment of our lives and allow Him to direct us at all times, not push Him aside at certain points. Now, realistically, due to our imperfections, we don't live up to that standard, but that should be our goal at all times. We can't consciously decide to push Him out of a certain part of our lives because our faith might inconvenient to ourselves or others.
Exactly. I touched on this a bit some years ago with a piece on morality and integrity. Integrity is not about whether you are a good person or not. It is about whether you are a consistent person in different settings and situations. Romney's speech was largely about compartmentalizing his faith away from everything else. You can't do that and have integrity. Perhaps Romney has been in politics too long to realize this.

The sad thing is that too many people don't seem to understand this concept.

Revisiting Guns in Church

Considering recent events in Colorado, a lot of people are re-examining the issue of concealed carry inside of church buildings. Mostly because it was an armed church member who stopped the mass murderer. John the Methodist is conducting a discussion over at his place on the topic.

I've touched on this a couple of times now. The first was almost two years ago when a church in Harford County, Maryland was robbed at gunpoint. The second was about ten months ago and has a more thorough account of my reasoning on the subject. Most of the arguments for prohibition fail to get any traction with me, the two most common are:
  1. "We should trust God to protect us!" Really, does your church have fire insurance? Flood insurance? Regular termite and pest inspections? If you don't trust God to protect the building with his divine presence, how much more should you actively safeguard the people inside the building. Because the church building is just a building, the parishioners are actually God's Church.

  2. "Weapons are evil!" No, weapons are inanimate objects. They are things. They have no intent or moral nature in and of themselves. They only acquire moral nature through the perceptions of people. Some people's perceptions on this subject may get in the way of their worship, which is why concealed carry is a good idea. They'll never know and be disturbed by it.
If I had a concealed carry permit, which I don't because Delaware's permit process is deliberately laborious and labyrinthine, I would probably carry during my usher rotations. I would do it for the same reason I keep my CPR, First Aid, and Defibrillator training current: it is the responsible thing to do. Otherwise, probably not. I don't want firearms to become an idol to me.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Black Cherry Fresca

Amybear and I drink a lot of diet sodas. We've found that it's a great way to cut empty calories out of our diet. And if you drink them enough, you stop noticing that they taste funny. Until you hit one that tastes really strange. Black Cherry Fresca is just such an animal.

We like fresca a lot. The Peach flavor? Also good. But Black Cherry Fresca tastes like you're chugging Hubba Bubba. I rarely chew bubblegum and I certainly don't want to drink it. Because I bought a 12 pack and because I'm too cheap (or well raised) to throw away perfectly good soda, we'll be drinking it for about a week.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Public Service Announcements

Unlike American PSAs which aren't allowed to actually provoke a response in people, Canadian PSAs seem to have taken the opposite approach. They appear to be made by horror movie producers. Via Tamara

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Hannukkah, Channukkah, Schmannukkah

Amybear is listening to XM radio's Hanukkah music channel via Directv. When she initially told me about it, my reaction was "How many arrangements of Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel can there be?" Amy didn't think that joke was as funny as I did. What was really funny is that when she told her father about the Hannukah channel, our family's very own Jewish patriarch said the same thing I did.

Actually there is a pretty wide variety of Hannukah music. So far I've only heard a lot of klezmer music, a fair amount of unintelligible (to me) Hebrew, one arrangement of Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel and another of the Hannukah Song. I think I'll keep count.

UPDATE: Two, Two Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidels... Ah, Ah!

Oh and turns out the Jews have the same sort of goofy children's music that Baptists do. Go figure.

Monday, December 03, 2007


Turns out that legal immigrants aren't fond of amnesty. This is important because currently legal immigrants are the only ones who can actually vote in elections. I'm sure the Democrats will keep trying to change that. It also turns out that legal immigrants vote Republican a lot more often than some other minority constituencies.


The latest episode of Project Runway made me cackle with unrestrained mirth over the weekend. Finally, after four seasons, the challenge was tackling menswear. Could these people reinvigorate the business suit? We'll see.

Let me just say that the contestants failed miserably. And it was wonderful. Most of the designers had never worked in menswear. It showed. It made giggle with glee since in previous seasons, the menswear designers made hasty exits. They simply didn't have the requisite skills and background to compete in a competition dominated by the female form. If this episode did anything, it was show that the problem goes both ways.

The Manolo points out that the challenge they were given was almost impossible. He's right. Not because menswear requires years of experience, but because the designers should have had access to their models much earlier to aid in fitting. Nothing fit as the photos Manolo linked to show. They also should have had access to a more full featured accessory wall that includes ties, belts, and perhaps even dress shirts.

The performance was sad. It wasn't just because nothing fit, it was because their design choices were so very boring. Everyone was trying to make a business suit. I find it sad that the first thing that came into these innovators heads was a 75 year old clothing design. The winner, Jack, made a shirt and pants. His major fashion innovation was cutting some shirt material on the bias. Yawn. Kit's fleece sportjacket was at least clever and innovative in comparison.

Friday, November 30, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth

Current Democrat reaction success is so very telling. For instance John Murtha changed his tune recently about the effectiveness of the Surge. Democratic leaders reaction? This truth is very inconvenient to us, the Speaker will be furious. Congressional Democrats are noticing that the war issue is quickly losing salience with the public. This is bad as it has been their major campaign point. Now they have to address major issues like the budget and immigration. Things they don't have good answers for.

And remember that the sad this is they brought this on themselves. Back when they were for the war before they were against it, the Democrats wanted to increase troop levels in Iraq. Then they went anti-war for the 2006 election. When the administration co-opted their strategy they ganged up on him for it. Unfortunately they were right before they were wrong. Oops.

Wet-Dry Vacs

Instapundit points out that if you have to have one, you really have to have one. My dad received a wet-dry shop vacuum as a present some time ago. Their use of it is uncommon but urgent. I know they've bailed out one of their neighbors after their basement flooded. I'll have to plan on getting one at some point, but I'll probably need a shop before I bother with a shop vac.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Wally and The Goatee

I suppose I can take heart because my beard has not done irreparable harm to the goatees of all mankind. I guess my level of uncoolness must be of a more mundane variety.

The De Camp Centennial

Instapundit notes that L. Sprague de Camp's 100th birthday was the 27th and The Cimmerian laments even his fans didn't notice.

Frankly, I'm not a de Camp fan. I'll haven't read much of his fiction except the Conan pastiches and I consider them inferior to Howard's original work. His non-fiction works are interesting, but tend to be marred by the character of their author. While Instapundit reports that de Camp was "a delightful person", in his writings he often came off as an uptight ass who was quick to adopt hypercritical and pseudo-scientific airs.

But even for his faults, he deserves to be remembered.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Girl Genius

I ran across Phil and Kaja Foglio's Girl Genius years ago. Girl Genius is a "gaslight fantasy" (essentially steampunk) comic about mad scientists. At the time it had just made the transition from conventionally published paper comic to webcomic. Because of how the Foglios chose to do that, releasing back issues gradually at the same time they issued new pages, I found it incomprehensible. You had the early stuff which made sense, then a continuity jump of unreleased back issues, then the new stuff which lacked sufficient backstory. I'm please to say that the gap of unreleased print material has been filled in since I last visited the site. What was once incomprehensible is now comprehensible. Or at least any incomprehensibility is purely the fault of the storytelling instead of the release schedule.

It's good stuff. But the archives are deep enough that it will probably take you the better part of a couple days to read it all. So don't get into it until you have the time to spend.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Norris for VP

While his recent campaign spot is brilliant, Steve Lamp hopes Mike Huckabee doesn't choose Chuck Norris as his running mate. I don't know about that. I think people would tune in to the Vice Presidential debates if they thought one of the participants could unleash a spinning roundhouse kick at any moment.

A Rhetorical Disembowelment

Steve Lamp read through Debbie Maken's Getting Serious About Getting Married over the holiday weekend. His five-part fisking (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5) covers the breadth of the book. Maken's book makesI Kissed Dating Goodbye seem like manna from heaven.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Debate Obsoleted

Well it's turning out that embryonic stem cell research is something of a dead end and that adult stem cell research is really the way to go. Why? Partly because adapting embryonic stem cells to a specific patient is too much work. Mostly because embryonic stem cells suffer from severe supply problems which are alleviated by using adult stem cells.

Who could have seen that coming? Well I did for one. I even mentioned it in passing almost two and a half years ago. It was essentially a throw away remark in a post about the moral considerations surrounding embryonic life.

I must say this whole thing really pisses me off. We've wasted how many years on this? Six or seven? Bush made this whole stem cell compromise before 9/11 didn't he? The whole issue is mooted and predictably so. What a waste.

UPDATE: As a response to comments, my prediction for future stem cell research is this: if stem cell treatments become practical at all, they will use adult stem cells for reasons of ethics and economics. Some fundamental research will still be conducted with the embryonic cells, but most applied research will also switch to some form of adult stem cells as soon as possible.

The Tenth Dimension

This is a really neat explanation of higher dimensional physics. It's probably wrong in a multitude of ways, but it's still mind-boggling.

Via John C. Wright

Monday, November 19, 2007

Dapper Fashion

A coworker came in this morning in an Old Navy Moleskin Blazer. He paid ~$20 for it over the weekend during a sale event. While the website successfully makes it look like a $20 blazer, it is actually quite handsome. Many inexpensive sport coats seem thin and bodiless because the manufacturers cut corners with the jacket material and construction in order to save money. While that may be true with the Moleskin, it didn't show it on my coworker.

It's also a sport coat, not a blazer. Sorry Old Navy, but blazers have brass buttons and no pocket flaps. Now if only it had three buttons...

Enough of Chuck

While this Mike Huckabee campaign ad is hilarious, I think the Chuck Norris list is about played out. It showed up in an illustration during one of my pastor's sermons two weeks ago. Enough already.

National Ammo Day

Did you know that today is National Ammo Day? National Ammo Day is an activist event designed to show the buying power of the shooting public. I have no idea if it actually works. So get out there an buy your ammo.

And if you don't have a gun and live in Northern Delaware, my guns are chambered in 9mm, .45acp, .30 carbine, and .223 Remington. I also have a .22lr, but that's the cheap way out. Drop me a comment or email and we can set up a shooting trip.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Be Your Own Bowyer

While I was out buying John Wright's Fugitives of Chaos, I finally paged through a copy of the Dangerous Book for Boys. Instapundit has been hyping it for quite some time. It looks like a really fun book. One chapter which caught my eye was building your own bow. This sounds like a fun idea. To the Internet!

It turns out that bow plans are widely available. The US Army Survival Field Manual has simple instructions for building a field expedient bow. Vintage Projects has more detailed plans for everything from simple flat bows to traditional long bows. I especially like the repeating crossbow on their site. It's perfect for surviving the Zombie Apocalypse.

Best of all, doing this stuff isn't expensive. Like many building projects, you just need time. Sam Harper has walk throughs for building bows from items available any Home Depot or Lowes. He even gives you great illustrations, although his spelling could use work. Similar advice can be found at the Bowyers Den.

Now if only I had a lot of time on my hands... Maybe I'll get around to finishing this after I complete that chain maille shirt I started back when Amy and I were long distance.

John Wright's Chaos books are great by the way. Or at least the first two are. I'll be picking up the last one when it comes out in paperback soon. I started reading his Everness stories and its patchier in its execution.

UPDATE: I have discovered the downside of bow-making, arrows are actually the expensive part of the equation. I thought modern arrows would be fairly cheap. They're just extruded lengths of aluminum rod with some cast or molded plastic parts glued or screwed on. I don't know why they're so expensive unless it has to do with production volume and durability. Take the demand curve of .30-30 ammo, then make everyone a reloader, and I suppose you would get something similar with firearms.

Bright College Days

From a new shooter report by Kim du Toit:
Herr Mayer insisted on retaining his shot-up target silouette, which he says he will proudly hang on his wall back in Munich (no doubt to the consternation of his friends and family).
While I was in college, my brother took me shooting with his Saiga 12 gauge. I put a fair amount of shot downrange and kept my silhouette. Not only was it peppered with birdshot, but the shot cups had torn gaping holes through the chest and neck of the target. It looked impressive. I hung it on my dorm room wall. I lived on a men's floor and everyone thought it was awesome.

Now I went to school at the University of Delaware in the late 1990s. Back when I was a student, the university was using Robert Wood Johnson Fellowship dollars to hammer home the idea that drugs and especially alcohol were bad, m'kay. And that worked really well. I mean I only drank from that bottle of Scotch in my room on rare occasions. And I would never have dreamed of downing a Killian's or Bass Ale in an underage friend's room. Not unless it was her beer of course. Really. Honest Injun.

I have to wonder if posting a target on my dorm wall today would result in something other than my floor mates thinking I was a bad ass. Would I be accused of a hate crime? Would I be sent to the re-education camps? I don't know. It bothers me to think that I might be treated more harshly today than all my pothead neighbors were back then.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


QandO is discussing a CNN piece on steroid use in professional wrestling. Dale Franks examines two versions of a statement by John Cena.

The first youtube feed is as aired by CNN and essentially says, "You can't prove it and I'll pass every test you give me." The second is raw footage taped independently by the WWE. In it Cena essentially states, "No, I have never taken performance enhancing drugs. I hate that people allege that I have or others have, simply because we excel. You can't prove it and I'll pass every test you give me. But the allegation will still remain and stain my achievements."

Big difference no? Makes you wonder what other stories they've doctored, doesn't it? Or to use Cena's own words in his interview:
This is a one-hour documentary on wrestling and as much as I like to think the world revolves around WWE because I’m so proud of what I do, there are bigger fish to fry out there like the war in Iraq, the presidential race, et cetera, et cetera. And if they’re messing with my quote for an hour documentary just to get the point across that they want the viewing public to think that we’re all on drugs, I can only imagine what [else] they’ve done. was my homepage. I’d get pretty much what’s going on with the world on a daily update. I changed it immediately because now I just get the inkling that they may be telling me what they want me to hear.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Unitarian Party

Eugene Volokh has brought to light an quote made by Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean to a Jewish group:
There are fundamental differences between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party believes that everybody in this room ought to be comfortable being an American Jew, not just an American; that there are no bars to heaven for anybody; that we are not a one-religion nation; and that no child or member of a football team ought to be able to cringe at the last line of a prayer before going onto the field.
Is proclaiming universal salvation something a political party should be doing? No, not really. By endorsing such an explicitly theological statement, aren't they destroying the atmosphere of religious neutrality they're trying to foster? Yes, probably. Does this show Howard Dean is a dumbass? Almost certainly.

Look I'm married to a Jew, so I get what Howard was trying to say with his pander to the important Jewish voting block. But once again he puts his foot in his mouth out of his own ignorance. His favorite New Testament book is Job after all. Maybe he doesn't really know or understand the implications of his statements. Again. I wouldn't be surprise if the Democrats quickly made a statement to bury this gaff as quickly as possible.

250cc's of Fun

I was surprised to see that Kawasaki is bringing out a new version of it's venerable Ninja 250 for 2008. The old Ninjette has been in continuous production with few changes since the late 1980s. The new one will see improved suspension, brakes, and tires. The outstanding fuel economy will stay about the same and it will still cost less than four grand buy one. Alas, I will still have to ogle it from afar.

I Know Something You Don't Know

In my required workplace leadership training, we did an exercise called the Johari Window. While it sounds like some form of eastern transcendental meditation, it is actually a simple diagram meant to emphasize concepts in interpersonal relationships. One of them is that sometimes other people know you better than you know yourself.

An example of this blind spot is a quote from Daily Show writer Rachel Axler's New York Times article about the travails of the current writers strike:
A man in a suit passes by. He yells, “I hope you all get fired!”

Look — this is weird for us, too, you know. Writers are not a naturally combative species. We’re used to sitting in front of our computers and crying. Fresh air is like poison to us. If protocol didn’t dictate otherwise, it’s very likely we would never wear pants. But we’ve given up our salaries and our jobs — easily the only jobs we’re qualified for — to stand outside and yell at people. So, for the sake of decency, could you please not yell back?
I don't know about you, but I've never found the Daily Show's mostly-political humor to be non-confrontational. Writer's aren't non-combative. They're just passive-aggressive about it. They have that luxury because their words are being delivered by third parties like books or anchormen. But non-combative? Not by a long shot.

This principle is also why I'm skeptical about personality tests. These test what you know or think about yourself. So they're drawing conclusions based on a very subjective data set. They'll probably sound right to you, but whether they correct in an absolute sense is anyone's guess.

An aside, I don't have a lot of sympathy for the writers. Yes they probably deserve an increase in their residuals because the 1985 VHS deal was a poor one. But the WGA is requesting twice the current DVD residual (from ~0.36% to 0.72%) and an electronic media residual of 2.5%(!). The former is probably reasonable, but the latter is ridiculous. They also want jurisdiction over non-union programming like reality TV, animation, and the internet. Also unacceptable. Unions should have to work to unionize a field. When you consider that the other media unions will be making matching demands when their contracts are up, I don't find these demands acceptable.

Where are the Beam Sabers?

The Japanese version of Land Warrior is called "Gundam." You know, I would think a Japanese Soldier in a Mobile Suit would be taller.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Products I Don't Need

I give you the Little Wizard Bird Shot Detector, are hilarious:
Detect that elusive piece of shot before you're even close to eating it! ... It's a worthwhile investment in ducking that painful and embarrassing bite...
Ducking get it? The Little Wizard is what it sounds like, a miniature metal detector to find any pesky bird shot in your food before it finds your sensitive dental work. For some people I'm sure this is serious business, but I'm not one of them. Like most Americans, poultry's natural habitat is found in various grocery aisles.

Tam pointed out Tactical Grilling tools. They offer Grill aprons with MOLLE webbing for your spatula sheath or beer pouches. Fortunately they're currently made in Army ACUPAT so the grillmaster will still be easy to spot from a distance.

UPDATE: Amybear has been browsing She thought the Chihuahua taco holders were funny, but the Hillary Clinton Nutcracker topped it.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Highland Sword Play

YouTube is great for finding clips and sometimes even whole episodes of your favorite TV shows. Even if they don't air in your country (like Top Gear did). But you can also find things on YouTube that you just couldn't get before. Like this simple video showing the basics of scottish highland swordplay:

You're never going to see that on TV or even commercial video. But it is mindboggling useful if you like playing with sharp pointy objects and want to develop your skills beyond "the pointy end goes in the other man."

Activism I Can Get Behind

From Jokers to the Right:
Saying he could no longer stand idly by while a vital part of American culture is lost forever, activist and Broadway producer Mel Brooks has founded a private nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the word "schmuck."

An emotional Brooks stopped short of kvetching at a schmuck fundraiser Monday.

"Schmuck is dying," a sober Brooks said during a 2,000-person rally held in his hometown of Williamsburg, Brooklyn Monday. "For many of us, saying 'schmuck' is a way of life. Yet when I walk down the street and see people behaving in foolish, pathetic, or otherwise schmucky ways, I hear only the words 'prick' and 'douche bag.' I just shake my head and think, 'I don't want to live in a world like this.'"
I like the word schmuck. It's Yiddish for "dick", both anatomically and figuratively. When I was getting to know Amybear's parents, words like schmutz and schmuck helped me bridge the cultural gap between this gentile and his in-laws to be. And for that I'm grateful.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Bedknobs and Broomsticks

While I don't recall Angela Landsbury being "kinda hot", I was a huge fan of the Disney film when I was a little. I remember trying to use the corner of my bed to work traveling magic on at least one occasion. Generally it was when I was bored out of my mind after I had been sent to my room by my Mom.

Angela Landsbury was in her late forties when she made Bedknobs. She might have been slimmer and trimmer than when she was doing Murder She Wrote, but I don't recall her being especially either. Now when Landsbury made The Court Jester, that was a different story. She was 31 and really in her svelte leading lady years. I was amazed the first time I saw it in college. She didn't remind me of Jessica Fletcher at all.

Explaining Military Procurement

Chris Byrne explains some of the obscurities of military procurement. The conclusion he comes to is this:
So, our barrier to entry here is this: Is the value of changing the chambering away from 5.56 nato equal or greater than $6 billion dollars; and the difficulty of changing chamberings in the middle of a war.

For right now, the answer is clearly no, at least as far as our government is concerned. As I said above, most of the time, the 5.56 chambering is getting the job done; and governments will take "adequate most of the time" over $10 billion dollars" most any day.
Of course how he gets to that conclusion is the interesting bit.

The problem of replacing the M16 series of rifles is they're very difficult to beat by a decisive margin. The design is highly modifiable and therefore flexible to meet mission needs and new capabilities. In order to justify the cost of replacement, you'd need outperform the current rifle in some key metrics by a margin of 15% or 20%. That's pretty difficult.

Similarly, 5.56 isn't ideal for all conditions but it also hits the sweet spot in weight, cost, recoil, and lethality. I personally don't like current general issue M855 ammo. It is designed to penetrate body armor at range. Unfortunately, we sacrificed the wounding ability of the older M193 round to get the armor penetration of M855. Even more unfortunately, our current enemy doesn't actually wear body armor so we've sacrificed something for nothing. But the old M193 round (which I like) and the newer mk262 round (which is nice at range but expensive) would both get the job done. And you can shoot them out of current guns without any problem anyway.

So expect to see the M16 around for a while yet. But look for a possible change in issued ammunition in the future.

Environmentalism Run Amok

California State Senator Tom McClintock's gave an amazing speech on global warming last month. In it he rails against Al Gore and outlines why California's economy is going into the toilet because of their progressive environmental regulations.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Today in UD Scandals...

Eugene Volokh is covering the uninvitation of Middle East expert and former IDF soldier Asaf Romirowsky from a joint College Republican/Democrat panel on anti-Americanism in the Middle East. UD PoliSci Professor Muqtedar Khan remarked (he claims jokingly) that he wasn't comfortable sharing the stage with Romirowsky in an e-mail to event organizers.


Anyone else go to work in costume? My coworkers had a brief gawk at my kilted expense.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

UD Gets Some National Attention

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is taking aim at the University of Delaware Residence Life system. While there was definitely ideological problems within ResLife back when I was a student, it wasn't anything that a determined student couldn't easily circumnavigate or ignore. Either things have gotten worse or mountains are being made of mole-hills. Via Instapundit.

UPDATE: John Leo takes it to the University in a similar manner, largely because most of his post if FIRE quotes. Joanne Jacobs coverage starts with FIRE, but includes first hand accounts of the ResLife brainwashing.

If you would like to look into this further, try UD ResLife's home page. I believe many of the more flagrant statements come in their Whole New World Training for RAs. The Torch, FIRE's blog, has more statements that sound like actual ResLife policy. (The ones in their earlier press release sounded cherry-picked from documentation.)

Helping the Wounded at Home

Chris Byrne made me aware of a program to procure computers for soldiers rehabilitating in military hospitals around the country. These laptops are equipped with software like voice command capabilities that allow even disabled members of the military to keep their minds active while bedridden. It is a great idea.

In the spirit of friendly competition, they have broken the donations down by service even though all the money ends up in the same place. Chris is ex-Air Force. I work for the army so...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ordered to Buy Toys, What a Woman!

Amybear has been fighting a case of pink eye. Because it is highly contagious, she's quarantined at the house under eye doctor's orders and isn't allowed to go to work. Which would be great if she actually paid for sick days. The lack of income isn't really a problem, but cabin fever is definitely starting to set in.

So what did we do? Last night, she sent me out to buy a crimson DS Lite with Brain Age 2 and Pokemon Diamond. The clerk at GameStop was amused when he saw the post-it Amybear used to specify my purchases. He asked if it was a gift and I told him that I was buying video games under my wife's orders. I told him I intended to savor the experience of being told to spend money on video games by my spouse. He admitted that it was pretty unusual.

I played a little Brain Age and it's ok, but parts of the interface just piss me off. Dr. Kawashima, the game's host, really annoys me. I just want to get to the puzzles not discuss their benefit to my prefrontal cortex with a polygonal physician. Hopefully he'll show up less as I play more and get through all the mandatory mini-game tutorials. The recognition software also has a hard time with my handwriting. Not only does it fail to recognize things, but sometimes it will recognize them incorrectly. My 4s become 9s, etc. Which means I end up with "mistakes" that aren't mistakes. And it is slow. While I don't have an alternative for the word games that require the full alphabet, the game would run a lot smoother for me if they just gave me a numeric keyboard on the touch screen for number games like Sudoku.

But maybe it will grow on me. And maybe I should hit my brother up for some of his old GBA games that need some love.

UPDATE: This has come up a couple of times, so I thought I'd address it here. The DS can play both DS games and Game Boy Advanced games. Because the two game cards have different form factors, the DS does this by having a DS slot and a GBA slot on the unit. The GBA slot is also used for some other peripherals. Like the Game Boy Micro and unlike the GBA or GBA SP, the DS cannot play original Game Boy through Game Boy Color games. The DS also uses wi-fi for multiplayer instead of cables so the multiplayer modes on GBA games won't work either.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Trials of Success

The Press seems to be admitting that the Surge has worked. You can tell because now they're focusing on relations with Turkey and Iran instead of soldiers getting blown up. So the question is, when are prominent Democrats like Speaker Pelosi going to start being for the Surge before they were against it?

UPDATE: Don Surber makes pithy quote: "You see, if the enemy turns its swords into plowshares, that’s bad because the enemy will corner the market on plowshares." Exactly! Just like the Iraqi unemployment crisis in the grave digging sector.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Movie Reviews: Knocked Up and Fantastic 4 II

Amy and I rented these over the weekend. The second Fantastic Four movie was comic book eye candy. People stretch, catch on fire, and warp the fabric of reality. Good stuff, but not a lot of character development or a real strong plot. If you liked the first Fantastic Four movie, I'm sure you'll enjoy this one as well. Its very comic book in both good and bad ways. I'm sure Stan Lee would be proud even if Sue and Reed didn't let him into their wedding.

Knocked Up was quite good. I was pleasantly surprised really, because I didn't expect to like a movie built on the premise of illegitimate pregnancy. Illegitimacy is probably the greatest unaddressed problem of our times and I don't find it especially funny. However, the film actually uses the crude comedy to lighten a film dealing with weightier issues like personal responsibility and accountability.

Alison is a nice girl who lives with her sister and brother-in-law in LA. Alison is a promoted to on-air talent at E! and goes clubbing to celebrate. She meets affable stoner Ben who came to party with his drug-addled housemates. The two get very drunk and have a one night stand. 8 weeks later, Alison finds out she is pregnant and discovers that Ben isn't just socially awkward, he's also a penniless illegal Canadian immigrant whose job aspiration is starting an internet porn venture with his buddies. Not father material, but she decides to keep the baby anyway.

The plot thickens. Alison's sister's marriage hits a rocky patch that forebodes poorly for Alison's future with Ben. Meanwhile Ben's attempts to be a responsible father conflicts with his irresponsible lifestyle. Will Ben clean up his act? Can he? Is Alison capable of being a single mother? Should the two of them even end up together?

The movie's comedy is earthy, but with a halo of truth because raising children is a messy business. The jokes are like ones I've heard friends and family tell about having their own kids. More striking to me was the thematic importance of honesty, responsibility, and commitment in the film. But keep in mind the movie is R-rated and it deserves it, so you can find plenty to dislike if that sort of thing really bothers you.

Computer Solutions

Well after a lot of trouble this weekend, my home computer seems to be virus free. I found the manual mode on one of my anti-virus tools last night and was able to get rid of the DLL that allowed the infection to keep growing back. Thanks to everybody who offered to help, but things look stable at this point.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Saying What You Mean

John the Methodist has a great clip of poet Taylor Mali from the second season of Def Poetry Jam.

One of the good things about Christianity is that you ought to know what you believe. You should be able to make definitive declarations about it. The bad part is that definitive declarations are a double edged sword. Many people will respect you for saying what you mean. Many others will consider you a jerk. It is a difficult path to walk.

Friday, October 19, 2007

On Writing

John Scalzi recommends Stephen King's aptly named book about storytelling. I read the book while on business travel a few months ago. King writes in a very open honest style and the book is part memoir, part writing guide, and part introduction to the business of writing. It is a good, well-rounded book.

The Positivity Blog has an overview of King's writing suggestions, most of which are heavily influenced by Strunk and White. King pays homage to Strunk and White. At one point he states that most books on writing are largely full of bullshit. He knows On Writing is no different because it is at least three times as long as Elements of Style.

Amybear's Kind of Gun

Forget the pink shotgun, go for the Hello Kitty Kalashnikov.

I think whomever is planning to take over the work using teenage Japanese girls wielding HK-AKs has made a grave tactical error. Old japanese grandmothers are indestructible. Young japanese girls? Not so much.

Viral Annoyances

My home computer has some sort of viral/trojan/hellspawn infection. Grrrr... It's still hanging on after multiple Ad-Aware and Norton Anti-virus sweeps. Joy.

UPDATE: My computer is infected with the Vundo trojan. My copy of Norton is smart enough to detect it, but not smart enough to completely get rid of it. It's a persistant SOB, but thankfully only opens advertising pop-ups. I was able to use the VundoFix tool from Atribune to knock the infection back to manageable levels. Unfortunately it hasn't gotten rid of it. I'm currently using a Zone Alarm firewall to keep it contained. From some research I've done this morning, I've discovered a few more tricks and utilities I can use. Hopefully I can kill the last of it tonight.

By the way, Vundo gets in through security flaws in old Java installations. If you aren't running the latest, it is probably worth your time now to avoid an entire weekends worth of annoyance later.

New Rugers

Sturm, Ruger, and Co have recently come out with a new 9mm automatic explicitly designed to compete with Glocks, Springfield XDs, and other similar weapons. Either it was announced very suddenly or I somehow missed it in my new found obsession with 19th century sabers. Can you blame me? The French 1829 and the US 1840 Artillery Sabers are gorgeous. Ruger handguns? Not so much really.

But the new gun, the SR9, is trying to be pretty. The grip is modeled after the 1911 as is the manual safety. The backstrap is adjustable for different hand sizes. The slide, unlike Ruger's usual massive steel slabs, is actually fairly svelte. Ruger makes some claims about it being the thinnest 9mm slide on the market, but I doubt it actually has the Hi-Power beat. The real question is whether the trigger pull is any good. If it is the typical striker spongy squeeze, then I'm not interested.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Micro-Stamping Firearms

California passed a stupid new law, this one requires that guns stamp microscopic info on fired cases on fired cartridges. Why is it stupid? Because it doesn't work.

Laws like this have come up before. Fired cartridge registries are almost as stupid and just as worthless. Why are they stupid and worthless? Because they are easy to circumvent and fundamentally flawed.

If you buy a gun in California, all you need to do to circumvent this technology is to purchase and install a new firing pin. Since firing pins are not a regulated component you can just go to the a gun parts shop in real life or online and buy a new one. Install it (which is usually trivial) and now you have an unmarked gun. Or just take a file to the tip of the firing pin. Or just buy a revolver because they don't eject brass in the first place. Or just shoot your gun a lot because letters that small will probably wear off or become illegible rather quickly.

Worse yet, the technology really doesn't work and the State knows this because they funded a study on it at UC Davis. The ID numbers are only correctly identified on about 20% of fired cartridges. That is one hell of a failure rate. Want a scarier thought? What is the false positive rate from the 80% of incorrectly identified numbers? What is the chance that innocent men and women will be brought in for crimes they didn't commit because forensic scientists misidentified their gun as one used in a crime?

Were I a handgun manufacturer, I'd just stop selling in California at this point. All of California, including and especially the cops. It really wouldn't hurt me much. Some manufacturers already don't sell in California because their draconian gun safety laws push the limits of profitability.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Zombie Weapons

So the dead are rising and shambling about. And for some reason they're really hungry. What do you need? Well food and water of course! But food and water are boring, so lets talk about armor, guns, and sharp pointy things instead.


Zombies are pretty strong, but not superhumanly strong. They have normal human strength, but they don't regulate the amount of force they use. Either they can't or they won't. And they're pretty uncoordinated and not especially bright. They're like big brain-eating toddlers. They're also stupid like toddlers, so about all they can do is shuffle up to you, grab on with all their might, and bite down really hard.

The good thing about all that is that defenses are pretty easy. A good concrete wall or a strong reinforced fence will hold small numbers back. But a larger mob can be more problematic because a bunch of people can exert a surprising amount of force. Most walls and fences are really only part of a layered defense.

What about body armor? Well you don't need heavy bullet proof vests or kevlar helmets that's for sure. Not to protect you from zombies at least. All you need is something that they can't bite or tear through easily. A set of full motorcycle race leathers would probably do it. Add a set of boots you can walk comfortably in for long distances, a good hockey or football helmet, and something to protect your neck.

If the dead walking is a supernatural event, you could stop there. But there is a chance the zombies are because of an ancient plague or modern genetic engineering. If so, these things only seem to be spread by a zombie's bodily fluids. So pack safety glasses and a surgical mask or bandanna in case you get some of him on you when you kill him. And maybe some cleaning chemicals for afterwards.


I see a lot of people saying 12 gauge here. Or machine guns. No, not really. While big guns might be useful if the living dead cause an overall breakdown in the social order, they're not necessarily that useful on zombies. Why? Because the only shot that counts on a zombie is a shot to the head that penetrates the skull and scrambles its brains. Shotguns and machineguns deliver a cone of fire, but they aren't going to give you an accurate head shot over long ranges. Plus the ammo is expensive and gets really heavy, really fast.

My suggestion? A decent .22lr rifle and a lot of ammo for it. The gun itself is cheap to buy and most are accurate. Ammo is cheap so you can stock up. Ammo is light weight so you carry a lot. Now you can own any zombie that gets within about 25 yards of you. They're also quiet so your gunfire will be less likely to attract other zombies who want to eat you. They're even quieter if you shoot from inside a building or with a silencer (which is unfortunately illegal to own in my state).

If you want more lethal range or something that will deter people, get a .223 rifle as well. The AR-15 is a great choice because they're generally quite accurate. This will let you own zombies over greater distances, but the gun is really loud. Really really loud. Just start making blood curdling zombie groans yourself loud. Which will attract more zombies to your position. So you have to fire and move or prepare to significantly reduce the entire local zombie population.

As always, handguns suck over everything but short distances. But at very short ranges they could be all that saves your life.

Manual Brain Scrambling

Unfortunately, you might run out of ammo. Well crap, now what? Well you need a hand held and muscle powered tool that will let you destroy a zombies brain or decapitate him. I prefer the former because Zombie heads can still bite and they tend to wind up under foot.

Don't use baseball bats. Hitting two round objects together, like a bat and a skull, is a recipe for ineffectual glancing blows. Plus they break easy. A friend of mine once broke two aluminum bats in the space of 15 minutes. Yes he was a burly blonde mountain of a man, but do you want to risk it if the dead are walking the earth?

A good makeshift solution is to buy an ax, sledge hammer, or crowbar from the hardware store. Swing it over your head and into Zeds. These have fairly long handles which keep you out of reach and can do a good job of cleaving or crushing a skull. And they're cheap.

If you want to be flashy, more specialized weapons are always a possibility. Max Brooks likes the shaolin spade, but its a decapitation weapon and where do you get one? I like the good ole poleaxe. Spike him through the eye or bring it down on his head. A flanged mace isn't a bad idea either. Spears are cheap, but I don't know how easy it is to penetrate the skull with one. If you're looking at swords, I recently discovered Windlass Steelcraft's Civil War reproduction sabers. They're sturdy, reasonably well balanced, and often priced under $100. That's a great price for a sturdy sword with a decent temper that will take a good edge. Or go buy a katana like everyone else.

There are of course other options for killing zombies. Just keep in mind that if it doesn't destroy the brain, it doesn't do the job. Unless you rain fragments down on their heads, blowing them up doesn't work. Don't unleash a flamethrower onto the zombie hordes either. You just get zombie hordes that set things on fire.

Cute Puppy

Awww, Chris and Melody Byrne have a new puppy. He's a Rottweiler/AmStaff mix so he's going to be a big puppy. One my parent's neighbors had/has a pack of Rott/Pit mix puppies. They're big sweet dogs.

UPDATE: They've named him after Jayne from Firefly/Serenity. And put him in a funny hat.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The People Problem

John the Methodist addresses calls for reforming the process the Methodist Church uses for ordaining ministers by saying this:
But I think that none of these critiques address the root problem in the UMC ordination process. ... It is this: our denomination is shrinking in America. ... Were we a rapidly growing denomination, as we were in the 19th Century, the District Committees and Boards of Ordained Ministry would be struggling to find even semi-qualified candidates to fill pastorates in new churches as a wave of revival sweeps across the land.
I'm not a Methodist and the sum total of my experience with the process of becoming a Methodist minister is from a college buddy who married one.

I've given this some thought and I really don't think you can separate a declining church with a poor ordination system. Why? Because ultimately church growth is about going forth and making disciples. Ordination ought to be the final part of that discipleship process. Now not everyone is called to be a minister, I'm certainly not. But if you aren't training ministers and doing it well, then you ultimately aren't making disciples properly. That will effect church growth and could cause church decline. While the ordination process is not the only problem within the Methodist church, it is a serious problem and should be resolved.

Could a major social and religious change in America alter this? Probably not, no. If a huge American revival happened in the US tomorrow, how can you expect to exploit it without manpower (and womanpower in the case of the Methodists)? You need mature Christians to be able to start discipling those people. If you don't have leadership to offer them, then they will either fall away from the Church or go to another denomination. I've seen it happen.

Even in more mundane situations, an overstretched clergy has a hard time making headway. My aforementioned friends wife covers two churches on different sides of a small town. She preaches two sermans and she splits her Sunday mornings in half. I have no idea how she manages to build decent relationships with her congregants. I have no idea how she manages to tailor her sermons to something relevent to her churches.

Myself, I think having too many spiritual leaders is a far better problem to have than having too few. Reforming the system may not help, but good Lord it certainly can't hurt.

Back to Self Defense Basics

Larry Correia discusses self defense with hand guns, shotguns, and rifles. He covers almost all of the important bits and does it in a way that is easy to understand. Most of it is very similar to my own past advice, but these are the basics and the basics are always worth covering again.

Oh and Correia also has a piece on HK which is a hoot. Rife with hyperbole, but a hoot. If HK mp5s or G3s were such cheap stamped guns, there wouldn't be infinity threads on gun boards complaining about Century Arms or Special Weapons. But everything he says about the HK416 upper is completely true.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Kitten Cuteness

Awwww. Knees getting weak, must hit back button before consumed by kitten cuteness...

Actually, I wonder if kittens are so cute for just that reason. You get overwhelmed with cuteness, then they gang up on you and go for your jugular. Then they eat you. It wouldn't surprise me to see a brood of feral kittens take down a deer or a hiker that way.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sounds About Right

How smart are you? - Intelligence Test

Via Tamara

On to Barsoom

John C. Wright noticed that Pixar is developing a movie series based on Edgar Rice Burroughs Mars Trilogy. Sweet! I wonder how they'll deal with the horrific violence and every present nudity found in the books. Hopefully not by dumbing them down too much.

By the way, the first three books in Burroughs Mars series are now in the public domain and are available from Project Gutenberg.

Oh But I Love the Color!

I highly recommend shotguns as home defense weapons. The gunblogosphere has been going nuts over Gander Mountain's recent debut of a pink 20 gauge Remington riot shotgun. The perfect defensive gun for a woman! Right people?

Yeah, I guess. I have a 12 and a 20 gauge and I wouldn't want to stand in front of either. 20 gauge is certainly more manageable for people of lesser stature and training. So I'm not pissing all over the caliber. My 20 gauge is a Sears marked Remington 870 that I inherited from my Grandfather. Roughly the same gun Gander Mountain is selling.

I have to question the price tag though. $370 for youth/bantam shotgun? You'll notice that Gander Mountain sells the same gun with normal wood stocks for $290. In my mind pink is not worth an $80 premium even if you do get a free Remington hat. A polymer stocked gun and a can of Krylon will get you a pink (or purple or green) gun for a lot less than Gander Mountain is charging.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

...Like a Pirate Day

I guess I missed sword review like a pirate day. And of course he reviews a stout cutlass. Or perhaps not so stout as it is a Windlass product.

Pick-up Lines for Church

I think my favorite line from this Parchment and Pen post was "Until this moment, I thought I had the gift of singleness." I took a lot of those hackneyed spiritual gifts tests in college and the gift of celibacy showed up a fair bit. Most of us who received it quickly reworked our tests so we ended up with more appealing states of giftedness like martyrdom.

Via Locusts and Honey

Fun with Paracord

Parachute cord is really useful stuff if you know how to use it. Stormdrane's Blog seems to have a lot of different ideas and options that range from belts to bookmarks.

Police Rifle

I guess that's how I'll start describing Mabel: a police-style Ar-15 rifle. But of course only cops should have guns...

Monday, October 08, 2007

Lawn Catan

For those sunny days when you just want to play outside. Some of the materials they used were actually pretty ingenious. As with standard Settlers, the the sure way to lose is still to get 9 points.

They Came From.... Behind

I'm bucking the trend that everyone must make a Porkins reference when they see this video of an amateur rocketry X-Wing braking up in mid air.

UPDATE: No one has pointed out that my Gold 5 title quote is inappropriate yet? I thought someone would have noticed that Gold squadron flies Y-wings not X-wings by now. I guess my readers are not the nerds I am looking for.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Property Rights

From Instapundit:
Message to Republicans: The entertainment industries are your enemies. They're one of the main sources of money for Democrats, and provide a lot of valuable free media for them, too. Why help them out? Especialy when you might actually pick up some youth votes by taking a different position?
Why? Because property rights are the foundation of free societies and you can't stop respecting them just because you don't like the property owners. You would think that a libertarian would understand those kind of principles.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Definitely Not a Motorcycle

According to my beloved wife, I'm not allowed to own a motorcycle. Something about probably killing myself. I believe I have now found a feasible automotive alternative: the Westfield Seven. This is a rough copy of the Lotus Seven now licensed by Caterham. The Westfield cars are built from kits and have a version which accepts Mazda Miata donor parts. Left hand drive versions are available in the US for a fair bit less than a Caterham. They'd be even more reasonable if the exchange rate improves.

No power anything, no doors, and seat-of-the-pants driving, but it still has seats with racing belts, a safety cage, and a roll bar. Close enough to a motorcycle. Now if only I had money, time, a garage to build it in, and a place to park it.

UPDATE: It seems I'm not the only person that compares the Seven (or Se7en) to a motorcycle. Here is quote from the late Colin Chapman, the Seven's creator:
The Seven was the car I dreamed about as a schoolboy. When I got the chance to build it, it was the most basic, lightest, high performance little car we could come up with... a student's car if you will – a four-wheeled motorbike.
This is from Jalopnik's two part trip up "The Dragon" with a group of Seven enthusiasts.

WWII and Tactics

McQ at QandO has been watching Ken Burn's new series The War. He likes what he's been seeing.

Meanwhile Kim du Toit is dispelling some bigotry spouted by David Frum towards the American fighting man of WWII:
It’s all very well to say that Americans win because they have more equipment than anyone else. Here’s the newsflash: that’s how we fight.

We are a technology-based society, and we have a giant economy with which to back our troops up.

From Band of Brothers in the WWII era: “Horses? What were you thinking? Say hello to General Motors, and Ford, and Chrysler!”
In Stephen Ambrose's book Citizen Soldiers, there is a story about two generally equivalent infantry units fighting over a medieval fortification in France. The Germans take the old fort and barricade themselves into a great defensive position. The American infantry tries to take it, but meet murderous resistance and have to fall back. So the Americans wheel over a 155mm howitzer and blow the hell out of the place. When they storm it, they capture it easily. After the fight, the Germans accused the Americans of poor soldiering because under the same conditions the Germans would have had to make do with what they had. The Americans replied that what they had was a 155mm howitzer thank-you-very-much and enjoy your stay as a POW with Uncle Sam.

An often-overlooked aspect of the war is that after Normandy, the US Army was actually employing something like modern combined arms doctrine. Not only did we have more stuff, but all our "inferior" units could cooperate efficiently to form a superior whole. If American infantry units ran into trouble, their first resort was to liberally apply high explosives via air or artillery or armor support. Most of the other Armies just couldn't do this. What was unfair or poor soldiering according to those Germans was actually an artifact of American tactical and strategic superiority.

When Bad News Comes from Bad Newsmakers

Captain of Crew of One is dissecting a recent CBS News report on assault weapons. Predictably, the weapons they display in their piece aren't actually assault weapons according to federal or state definitions. Most are handguns or shotguns. One is a muzzle-loading rifle. So much for expert reporting.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Justice Concerned With Justice

The blogosphere has been going on about Clarence Thomas's new book lately, but several of the interviews he's given have provided a lot of insight into him as a man. I loved Richard Miniter's Pajamas Media interview and the transcript of Rush Limbaugh's 90 minute marathon is just as good. For instance his take on legal writing legal opinions is refreshing:
So, in writing opinions, you are trying to take something, if it's complicated, you're trying to explain it in a way that as many people as possible can understand it. You're making their Constitution and their laws accessible to them. We talk about "accessibility" in terms of people with, say, disabilities in a wheelchair where a curb is like the Great Wall of China if someone is in a wheelchair. Well, you can use language and writing about the court or about the Constitution that sort of puts a Great Wall of China between them and their Constitution. My idea is simply to be able to explain it to all of my fellow citizens.
The unintelligibility of government pisses me off. It is nice to see someone in government doing something about it, not because he has to, but because he feels it is his responsibility to the people.

I also love that Thomas spends his breaks driving cross country in a big motorcoach with his corvette in tow, eating a truckstops, and talking to average joes.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Weekend Rentals

Amy and I rented a couple of movies for the first time in a long time. And we were reminded why we hadn't bothered in a while. My pick at our local Hollywood Video was 300. Amy chose with Catch and Release. Neither choice was without its shortcomings.

While 300 had some stirring images, it was just too comic book for me. Although there was some great imagery spaced throughout the piece and good action scenes, the narrative was just clunky. Large parts of it bore no resemblance to actual history and I like the actual history. All the movie made me want to do was read a better fictionalization of the Battle of Thermopylae, like Gates of Fire.

Catch and Release was marketed as a romantic comedy, but it isn't. The story opens with Gray at the funeral of her fiance Grady on the day they were to be married. It doesn't get much happier. The whole piece is largely Kevin Smith playing himself, Jennifer Garner looking sullen, and everyone else being varying degrees of horny or pathetic. Skip it.

Kicking It Old School

Feel the urge to play some classic Nintendo games, but you don't want to spend all day blowing into cartridges? Is downloading emulators and pirated roms hard on your soul? Behold, classic 8bit nintendo in Java format! Unfortunately you will be stuck using keyboard controls. I guess nothing is truly perfect.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

22 Cravings

Dick's Sporting Goods has a .22lr Remington 597 with Scope for $140 after mail-in rebate. Hmm... I think I'll have to do some research on 597s. I shot one at Targetmaster a few years ago and I don't remember loving it. But I didn't hate it either and supposedly they've made some design improvements since then. I think it's worth a look.

UPDATE: Ever wondered at the fingerprints you've left on the internet and forgotten about? Take this:
I shot one at my range. I thought it was pretty mediocre in every way. Accuracy was bad, ergonomics were ok, and it had frequent feed/ extraction problems. My range doesn't show the rentals much love though so it may have just needed a good cleaning.
I wrote that about the 597 in August of 2004. I may have to rethink this. If I can't trust a reviewer as smart as that guy, then who can I trust.

UPDATE2: It seems that several of the improvements to the gun have occurred since my last review. The current generation of magazines (the ones that actually work) came out in 2005. Extractor changes have occurred as well.

UPDATE3: I went to Dick's today, but did not drive home with a new rifle. While the 597 they're selling looks and feels quite nice, it has one problem for someone looking for a training rifle. It doesn't have iron sights. Now it comes with a scope, so this isn't a problem for most people. But I need to learn to shoot with iron and without. Without sights it's really only a half a rifle.

Rhetorical Ambushes

MSNBC correspondent David Shuster rhetorically ambushed Tennessee Representative Marsha Blackburn with the name of dead soldier from her district. Fact checking later showed that Shuster was the one in error, the soldier wasn't from Blackburn's district at all. Instapundit had this to say:
Interestingly, though, it's a trap that, in its nature, underscores how historically low casualties are in this war. You wouldn't have heard that question in World War II, not only because the press would have been ashamed to ask it, but because casualties then were such that nobody could possibly keep track. That it can be asked in this war demonstrates not only the cheap-shot tendencies of a hopelessly partisan press, but also the small scale of the actual warfare.
Very true. This was driven home in a meeting I had yesterday about the war. I can't talk about most of it, but one of the factoids I thought was interesting had to do with the relative death rates in various US Wars. About 200 people died per day in WWI, in WWII it was 300, in Korea it was 30, in Vietnam it was 20, in Iraq it is only 2.

And on the subject of ambushes, how about Ahmadinejad's trip to Columbia? It didn't quite turn out like I expected, thats for sure. I would like to point out one little thing though: Admadinejad is not a dictator. While the Presidency of Iran is not the figurehead position it once was, the real power in Iran lies not with the elected President but with the appointed Supreme Leader. If you want to call someone a brutal despot, you need to point your finger at Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Which Spongebob character are you?

You are Squidward! Lighten up a bit, won't you! You hate your job, but love you clarinet. You also think Spongebob is the most annoying person ever!
Take this quiz!

Via John the Methodist

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Amazon MP3

Amazon just launched a new store where you can download mp3s for less than a dollar per track. Since I own a non-iPod non-iTunes MP3 player, this might be nice for singles. For whole albums, I'm probably still better off purchasing a CD and ripping them myself though.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Thompson Mystique

Kim du Toit explains election strategy and unintentionally explains why Fred Thompson is doing so well despite his mediocre campaign appearances:
What we need to find in the primaries is a Stupid Party candidate who is religious “enough” for most conservatives; against high taxes “enough” to satisfy, say, the Heritage Foundation; hostile “enough” to Big Government, and pro-gun ownership “enough” to satisfy, say, me...

If we look at the current crop of Stupid Party front-runners, Giuliani fails on several issues, and makes the grade only on law-and-order and foreign policy; McCain fails dismally on most, scoring high only on the War On Terrorist Bastards; Romney fails on just about every point; and Thompson scores reasonably well in almost every area.
Thompson is doing so well because the Republican party is the party of American Conservatives and Thompson is the only Conservative running. It is that simple.

Ok that's not quite true. Duncan Hunter is probably a Conservative, but nobody knows who he is.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Delaware Gun Shows

When you live in a small state like Delaware, one of the regular annoyances is that big events don't come to your state. It usually doesn't matter because they're held in adjoining states with reasonable travel times. I really don't mind that the Delaware Highland Games is actually held at Fair Hill in Maryland. There is no law preventing me from crossing state lines in a kilt.

But there are exceptions where legal restrictions defeat the purpose of the trip. One such example is gun shows. I'm mostly a pistol shooter. Buying a pistol at a gun show in Pennsylvania or Maryland means having to pay to have it shipped to my FFL in Delaware and then paying my FFL for the trouble. No thanks. With all that paying, I'm better off staying at home. I've looked for Delaware guns shows that are actually in Delaware, but without much success.

Until now. Hopefully when the show comes around in a month, I'll still remember it. And I'll be able to figure out where the Shrine Building is. Time to pick up that 22 I've been wanting.

UAW Strikes

Starting at 11am, the GM and the UAW are on strike. The Canadian Auto Workers are expected to join in with a sympathy strike sometime this afternoon. Here's to hoping that GM comes out ahead on this one.

I do have some sympathy for the UAW, but I don't have that much. After some research on my part, I've come to realize that the union contract terms are ridiculous. It is one thing for them to stipulate factory working conditions, salary levels, or benefits. It is quite another for the workers to tell their company where cars can be manufactured. This strike is over the latter.

Autoblog reports that GM has enough inventory for a month or two. More than that and this could get interesting. If I were them, I'd start hiring scabs now using contract terms similar to Import-brand factory labor. If they're successful enough with that, they might not have to hire the union back at all.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Continental Dental Hygiene

According to Instapundit, French dental care is incredibly poor. My mind reels at the thought that the British might actually have the best teeth in Europe.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Coming of Caspian

The movie poster for Prince Caspian is out and looks pretty cool. I join with John Wright in hoping that the Pevensie kids aren't such wusses in the new film.