Thursday, July 31, 2003- - -
"They're going to dismantle the National Park Service as we know it," said former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, of Bush administration plans to outsource National Park and Forest Service jobs. Babbitt should be the last one to accuse anyone of radical ideology after his attempt to put millions of acres of the public's lands off-limits to the public.
Of course the morale of the NPS, BLM, and Forest Service archaeologists is at an all-time low. Fifteen years ago there was one archaeologist in most BLM Districts, ten years ago they expanded by putting one archaeologist in each Field Office, with each District often having two or three Field Offices. Now they have three or four archaeologists in each Field Office. That's an increase of at least 500% and more like 1000% in personnel in this one area alone. Now they're told there will be a 17% cutback - naturally it is TEOTWAWKI* from a bureaucrat's perspective. They've worked very hard to 'grow' their programs and extend their power, although for the life of me I'd be hard pressed to show where they actually do any more today than they did 15 years ago. I'd have a lot more sympathy for them if they really had the attitude of public servants, rather than setting themselves up as the princes of their little fiefdoms.
On the other hand, while privatization of public jobs makes a good deal of sense, privatization of all public lands, the concept that Babbitt so clearly fears and an idea often espoused by Libertarians, is a bit silly. The government tried to give away those lands for years under the Homestead Act and Desert Land Act. In many cases, the folks who did take them up on the offer found that farming or ranching in the Great American Desert was a slow but sure way to starve. There's also the issue that all of the public lands are not equally valuable, yet all these proposals seem to suggest that everyone should get a deed to a few acres somewhere, seemingly at random. In reality, I have a suspicion that any such give-aways will result in a favored few receiving the deeds to very valuable and scenic tracts and the rest of us receiving the deeds to 'jackrabbit ranches', land so barren you can't raise a jackrabbit and so far from the road that you'll never see it in any case.
The 'crats are squawking because a very few of the most recently hired may be laid off, a little bit of reality they thought themselves immune from in their nice safe govmint jobs. For the most part this is much to do about nothing.
*The End Of The World As We Know It.
A fox in the cathouse?
It appears that larger predators are killing and 'mutilating' the cats being found in the Denver area. I suppose this shouldn't be surprising, as the drought is forcing wildlife out of the hills into lower areas closer to water and feed. Strange though that some of the cat's sponsors (you don't really own a cat) say they find it comforting that the 'serial cat killer' isn't human.
A typing tornado!
I've finally dumped the miserable $5 keyboard that came with the current box and up-graded to a $20 Microsoft Internet Keyboard. If I'm having any problem now it's that I was getting used to hammering on the sticky old bastard. I've had the new one installed for all of ten minutes now and I'm already picking up speed in my typing.
I do find it amusing that after all these years of mousing they've now added keys for some of the more common mouse functions. A rather retro concept, but one that touch typists should find amenable.
But riddle me this: Why do computer assemblers ship their product with a wretched $5 keyboard when a really nice one can be had for $20? And they [who shall remain nameless] don't offer a better board as an up-grade. Considering how much the feel of the keyboard shapes perception of the quality of the machine, common sense would suggest that this would be one area where they wouldn't want to scrimp, especially as they save so little. But then common sense has always been an uncommon commodity.
Ten Sleep Music Festival
It's time to make plans for Nowoodstock III, the sequel. Where else could you attend a three day music festival for $15? And be sure to tell the promoter and sometime archaeologist Pat O'Brien that I sent you!
And in case you were wondering about the name, Ten Sleep is on the Nowood River.
Wednesday, July 30, 2003- - -
Sometimes a well-aimed moon is the only response adequate to express one's true sentiments, but as Steve Den Beste points out, such demonstrations, no matter how sincere, will rarely impress an adult audience. I think Steve has hit on a very apt analogy to much of leftist anti-war argument.
Farther below decks at the USS Clueless [yes, I'm catching up on my blog-reading], Steve discusses the Reformation and Enlightenment, and it's implications for the Islamists. A very interesting post, much too long and convoluted to summarize here, so do read it. As an aside, Steve's discussion jogs my memory of a principle of anthropology* faintly recalled, that bodes ill for a quick resolution to the Islamist problem. The principle, in an extremely generalized and very much ad hoc sense: Culture can be subdivided into three realms, technology, sociology, and religion, each of which has a very different diffusion-rate between cultures.
Of these, technology diffuses, or is accepted most readily when introduced to different cultures. You have probably noted that even those who most vehemently reject western ideas and ideals generally have few qualms about adopting our technology. People who had no contact with the outside world thirty years ago now drive pickups and barter for VCRs. Obviously there are exceptions to this rule even in this country, where some religious sects avoid modern machinery, but in general the more useful bits of technology are readily adopted.
The sociological aspects of culture are less readily adopted, but still diffuse over relatively short time periods. Clothing styles, housing preferences, family organization, language and such often distinguish between recent immigrant groups and the core culture of an area or country, but the process of assimilation eventually blurs these distinctions although it may take a generation or two, and even if there is sometimes some question of who is assimilating whom.
On the other hand, as we see in this country and through much of Europe, absent active coercion, religions may co-exist, peacefully or not, for millennia. Religion and all things linked to religion tend to diffuse very slowly from one culture group to another, if at all. Just as religious conviction leads some groups in our country to eschew modern technology that is readily adopted by the rest of us, the deeply held religious convictions of the Islamists may well lead some of them to reject the principles of democracy and equality that we espouse. To the extent that they react with violence to these things that they find religiously abhorrent, we are in for a long battle.
*With good reason, Kent Flannery referred to such principles as "grandmother laws," all those things your grandmother would have told you if she'd only realized that you were too dense to figure them out for yourself.
Things that make you say "Hmmmm. . ."
Being away without internet access has forced me to rely on the cable news channels for input, so I've gotten the standard eye-full of Uday and Qusay, and an ear-full of speculation on how best to convince the Iraqi people that they're really most sincerely dead. 'Have them viewed by a trusted Imam' or 'have their DNA tested by an Iraqi scientist', etc.
Now "Saddam" has released a tape mourning his sons and declaring them martyrs. How very strange, given their value to the Ba'athists alive, and how very convenient for us, as who would be more believable than the old monster himself? And what a diabolical masterstroke if we actually faked the tape. Think about it: Everyone who believes the tape will believe they're dead. Anyone who doubts the tape will be that much more likely to doubt any future missives from Saddam. If it was a fake and Saddam sends another message to contradict it, it gives us one more chance to find him, and causes even more confusion among his dwindling band of followers. If the tape is fake, it's disinformation at it's delightful best.
And same-sex marriages are a problem?
After having their 11th child, an Alabama couple decided that was enough,
as they could not afford a larger bed.
So the husband went to his veterinarian and told him that he and his
cousin didn't want to have any more children.
The doctor told him that there was a procedure called a vasectomy that
could fix the problem but that it was expensive.
A less costly alternative, said the doctor, was to go home, get a cherry
bomb! (fireworks are legal in Alabama), light it, put it in a beer can,
then hold the can up to his ear and count to 10.
The Alabama man said to the doctor, "I may not be the sharpest knife in
the drawer, but I don't see how putting a cherry bomb in a beer can next to
my ear is going to help me."
"Trust me," said the doctor.
So the man went home, lit a cherry bomb and put it in a beer can. He held
the can up to his ear and began to count:
At which point he paused, placed the beer can between his legs, and
resumed counting on his other hand.
I'll blame this one on Patty in Oklahoma.
Thursday, July 24, 2003- - -
I've finished a big stack of paperwork and we're off to see the M-I-L for a few days.
In for a fight
I figured Denver's new Mayor John Hickenlooper was in for an uphill battle when he said he wanted to put City Hall back to work. Now he wants to overhaul their system of automatic pay raises. I predict serious fireworks, but I hope he sticks to his guns.
Drink Up, Shriners!
The barley harvest is underway and it looks like a good one. Soon another year's-worth of headaches will be on its way to a store near you.
Wednesday, July 23, 2003- - -
mtpolitics points to this site: What's your Pirate Name?
Mine is Calico John Kidd.
Douglas Chandler emails with a suggestion regarding my unsightly premises:
A buddy of mine got tasseled by the township because a neighbor complained about a tarp covered old car in his back yard that he was in the slow process of restoration. My buddy figured the neighbor had to stand on a ladder to see it. The neighbor had the reputation of a rat in the neighborhood. My buddy's brother worked for another town ship so he called him up and asked what was the best way to get the citation dropped and be left alone. He followed his brothers instructions. He went to the city hall and got a list of all the neighborhood appearance rules. Then he drove around the town after work for several days listing violations and the relevant addresses. He then went to the township and said, "If you are going to enforce one you are going to enforce them all or this lists goes to a newspaper." Since several city employees homes were on the list. The decided! to leave him alone.
Don't think I haven't considered something of this sort, especially as the boneheads only enforce these city ordinances when someone complains. But I decided that would just make me another neighborhood busybody/crank.
Fuze is building himself a scout rifle. I've never tried the Colonel's concept, just something I've never gotten around to. The Steyr Scout is a bit pricey and building one from a Remington Model 600 as Fuze is doing is hampered by the scarcity of the M600s, which haven't been made in years. Remington has just come out with a new compact rifle, the M673, but I don't think they're producing it in .308, which really is a must for a true scout.
The forward-mounted scope would certainly make for handy carrying, but I wonder how well I'd really like it, as I do take advantage of the variable power scope, keeping it set at lowest power for most hunting, but cranking it up when I have the opportunity, for better shot placement on small targets or at long ranges, and for shooting groups when I'm working up loads.
More on three-shot disposable weapons
Awhile back I posted comments on the 'firefight' that ensued when the 507th Maintenance Company took their wrong turn in the Iraqi desert. Or rather the lack of a firefight, as most of their weapons malfunctioned at that critical point. Since then I've been having an interesting email exchange with the Fusilier Pundit on that topic [Well, at least it started on that topic. It took off like a bunny through the sagebrush and ended with a discussion of GPS locators.] Rather than convert our conversation into something coherent, I'll be my lazy self and reproduce the entire tirade here.
Fuze: Another distinct possibility for the inexcusably lost 507th people's jamming weapons, which has happened to me (in an exercise, so I live to tell of it).
For a time our M16 rifles were degreased and put into storage DRY. All lubrication had been removed. Next exercise they were brought out, issued, slung still dry.
The M16's Blank Firing Adaptor plugs the muzzle almost entirely, so all of the propellant gas (except enough to make a little muzzle flash) is directed to cycle the action. It should have cycled just fine. But my first round stovepiped. Five other members in my flight had the same result. A case of lube was hastily found and distributed.
This doesn't change much---you're issued the rifle, you shoot it, you clean it, well then you're on the hook to lube it too.
I suspect these troops handled their rifles about as often as I officially handle mine, once to qualify with 80 rounds every other year, and once or twice in between to fire blanks at aggressors during exercises. The frequency would have to be several orders of magnitude more often for trainees to get a feel for when the weapon is too dirty, or fired too many rounds, to continue to function; when too much or not enough lube has been used; when a part has worn or broken and the weapon must be serviced, and so on.
I hear that TriFlow is a sand-magnet too, so Uncle Sugar can bear the blame for both inadequate training, and supplying an inappropriate or defective component.
Me: Unfortunately, as you note, a lot of folks only handle their weapons once a year, or less, when they draw them from the armory and go straight to the range, fire 40-80 shots, clean 'em, and rack 'em for another year. OR, they draw them, throw them behind the seat in a pile of gear, lug them around in the field for a week, then clean 'em and rack 'em. I've never known a unit to spend a week in the field *and then* go to the range. I suspect the results would be informative- both to the troops and to their commanders. I've been awed and amazed at the condition of weapons returning from field exercises - and I was in combat arms.
You're absolutely right that several times more training is necessary to be truly proficient. Unfortunately, in their annual inspections, a maintenance unit like Pvt. Lynch's will be rated on how well they do maintenance. If any attention at all is paid to weapons qualification it will be to see that there's a check in the box next to 'qualified' on each troop's personnel record. If the weapons are inspected, it will be to see that they're clean and properly stored. I absolutely agree that everyone should be riflemen first, but by all accounts even the Marines who espouse this doctrine don't always do so well at it. A friend who was a Marine supply clerk managed to get off three shots with his M16 before it jammed when his unit came under fire during Desert Storm. This seems a distressingly familiar scenario.
Map reading and navigation is one of those skills that seems utterly beyond some folks. I once had a huge argument with a senior officer who was setting up camp *in the impact area* at Ft. Drum - he knew where he was so he'd ignored the "Impact Area - Danger - Keep Out!" signs, which were obviously put there to confuse him. Sigh. A pair of A10s - who'd alerted me to the situation in the first place - were waiting to use that range and the Air Force tower was happy to have them make a dry run over the camp if it would help get their show on the road. I've seldom seen anyone turn so pale as that Lt. Col.
With GPS systems cheap and available, there's less excuse all the time for getting lost, but some folks seem capable of F***ing up a free lunch. Perhaps it says something about human nature, but it seems that in order to get really lost a person must be absolutely convinced that they know where they are, and it's the map and compass and GPS that are wrong. To mis-quote Davy Crockett, 'I've never been lost, but I have been misoriented for days at a time'. I've had 'the compass must be wrong' misorientation a time or two and it's a mind-bending experience. It is really hard to force yourself to trust the instrument when all your instincts are saying 'no, it's gotta be wrong', so I won't be too hard on the folks who got lost in Iraq. 'Trust your instruments' should be hammered into everyone's head, but it seems not to be.
Fuze: Roger that on not trusting one's instruments. I got myself good and lost one day in buck season, in rolling hills of Centre County, Penna. Overcast. Compass in my pocket, I didn't listen to it.
After a few hours and a few km of folding back on my own trail, I trusted the compass and it got me out.
GPS, however, I've had issues with, mostly when I have my Eagle beside Uncle Sugar's PSN-11. I believe the Eagle. Nothing to do with positioning accuracy, more to do with ergonomics.
Me: I just bought a GPS (Garmin 12) a few weeks ago and I'm still fiddling with it. A way cool toy to be sure. One thing I note is a distinct lack of info in the accompanying manual on how to relate a lat/long to a topographic map. It's not difficult to figure out, but took some punching on the calculator and scaling on various maps to figure out that one minute of latitude is about 1.26 mile (2.04 km) and one minute of longitude is 0.92 mile (1.49 km; at 40 degrees north lat, that will vary with latitude), helpful info for tracking your position as you travel down a trail. I have an advantage in using a map package that will project the lat/long and/or UTM grids on a topographic map, but most of the hard copy maps I have do have lat/long and UTM tics printed on the map border. The Garmin will also read out in UTM grid, which would be darn handy for anyone working with military maps, but the readout from the GPS seems to lose some slight accuracy in the conversion. [I forgot that UTMs aren't the same as the MGRS (Military Grid Reference System) even though they're both metric. Ed] It's only a meter or two difference and is probably also a factor of the map projection, hardly enough to make a difference.
I suppose the 'track back' feature alone would get you back out of the woods, and that seems to be the feature most touted by the manufacturer, but it won't help you find a place you want to go but haven't been before, unless you have the lat/long or UTM of the destination. I see that as a much more useful feature and I'm surprised the manual doesn't explain how to find the coordinates of any desired point on a map.
I've been reading the latest on the 507th, and it appears to me that no combination of maps, compasses, GPS, etc. would have helped, as it appears their commander, Capt. Troy Kent King, had the wrong route marked on his map! What can I say but @#$%@#!!! That does seem simply inexcusable.
Fuze: Speaking of conversion between lat/long and various UTMs: are you aware of any utility or algorithm to convert from raw UTM to Alt MGRS? Anything I can pack into an .xls?
Me: You might try this utility for UTM to MGRS conversion.
I don't have any way to test it for accuracy or reliability, but hey, it's free. And probably worth every penny . . .
And now y'all know what we bloggers do when we're not blogging. Is it any wonder that I replace my keyboard every year?
Like a needle in a haystack!
So Qusay and Uday were hiding out in an opulent stone mansion. No wonder they were so hard to find.
Tuesday, July 22, 2003- - -
We shall live forever!
One of my professional web rings is having a discussion on 'archival quality' printed matter and what it takes to preserve things for the long term. But I ask you, is there anything sillier than archaeologists trying to make things last forever?
Hmmm. . .
Steve Den Beste says: "Right now the Democrats are running around like chickens with their heads cut off, in thrall to their extreme wing, and trying to peddle a message full of recriminations. But they'll soon realize that their message of hatred, panic and shame isn't selling to the majority of voters here, and they'll either fade into political insignificance for the next 20 years, or (far more likely) the idiots will get marginalized and more practical voices will emerge. Within a year, the argument will no longer be about whether we should have gone in. It will be about what we should do next."
I hope he's right that the idiots will be marginalized, but I don't see much evidence of that happening as yet. Notice that my last two posts comment on OpEds by Nickolas Kristof and Paul Krugman, both of which appeared in today's NY Times. Only one of these OpEds focuses on the WoT, but both are loopy as hell, to the point of being either dishonest or delusional, or both. And this follows on the heals of A Big Shake-up at the Times. There's got to be a considerable market for this foolishness, which suggests that they're playing to more than just an idiot fringe. I'm afraid that Steve's first scenario is the more likely - the Dems are too far gone around the bend to come back that easily. They're going to marginalize themselves and spend the next 20 years in the dark, gnawing on the bones of their discontent.
Pull up the ladder!
Nickolas Kristof bemoans the sad economic situation in Oregon, quoting Arthur Schlesinger's comment that "… history is not just what Washington decides but also what Main Street endures." Unhuh. Washington decides, Main Street endures. The locals are just innocent victims of federal government.
Obviously, Oregon's economic situation has nothing to do with the long reign of their tree house environmentalists, who've done everything they could to keep new industry out, kill off the industry they have - like those timber towns, was it depression that killed off the sawmills, or layer on layer of environmental regulation? - and keep anyone else from moving to Oregon. Remember, it was in reference to recent immigrants to Oregon that the term 'tree house environmentalist' was coined. "Okay, I'm in, pull up the ladder!" It's been said that an environmentalist in Oregon is someone who built their lakeside cottage last year. They made their beds, let them lie in them.
Making fun of a cripple
I've read so many variations on the same thesis by former economist and Enron advisor Paul Krugman that he's starting to look like a junior college professor bucking for tenure by fluffing his publications list. The words and topic may change, but the underlying theme remains the same week after week. The guy is clearly obsessed and this fixation on his hate for President Bush is starting to look borderline neurotic.
Or maybe not so borderline. This week he says: "But as the bad news comes in, those who promoted this war have responded with a concerted effort to smear the messengers." I've already posted about the 'bad' news coming from Iraq, some in the media are spinning this so hard I'm surprised they aren't dizzy. This is a war and you can't possibly expect there to be no casualties. Of course any casualties are regrettable, but they've also been remarkably low. That's 'bad news'? No, it's dishonest and/or delusional. But notice the non sequitur of Krugman's 'smear the messengers' bit. Do I detect an incipient persecution complex? Krugman has got to know that a lot of folks think he's way over the top. If I don't brutally ridicule his diatribes more often it's because I'm starting to feel it's like making fun of a cripple. In fact, I rarely read his maunderings anymore. I know what he's going to say, it's boring and repetitive and borderline loony. And I suppose that this post is exactly what Krugman means by 'smearing the messenger'. But I don't mean to smear him, I just wish he'd wipe the spit off his chin and find another topic.
The front page blurb for this article in the WaPo says: White House mulls formal guarantees to not attack if Pyongyang agrees to dismantle its nuclear facilities.
Hehe. Let's be a little more plain-spoken. How about: 'We promise not to kick your ass if you get rid of your nukes'. I see no problem with the Prez making that statement and I suspect it carries the same implied threat in Texas that it would here.
The Chrétien Crawfish
It's a dance: One half-step forward and a quick shuffle to the side. PM Chrétien first spearheaded a 14-nation proposal that would rescue people being brutalized by dictatorial regimes, even going around the UN if necessary. Then he did a quick sidestep by calling for the UN General Assembly to consider establishing a system under which the UN would authorize military intervention. Of course, BJ Clinton was his dance coach on this one.
I think this is why mtpolitics refers to them as the Billings 'Guess-at-it'. They have an on-line poll today that asks: Should natural gas drilling be allowed along the Rocky Mountain Front? Three options are offered: Drilling should not be allowed in these pristine, wild mountains. 17 Votes - 33% of respondents. Drilling for natural gas should be allowed. 18 Votes - 35% of respondents. And Drilling for natural gas should be allowed but not in protected wilderness areas. 16 Votes - 31% of respondents.
I seriously doubt that anyone even remotely aware of the federal law is proposing to drill for gas or oil in any officially designated wilderness areas. That was the point of creating wilderness, to provide protection from development of all kinds and keep those areas wild. Congress designated the areas and it would take an act of Congress - literally - to open one up for development. It ain't going to happen.
Either the good folks at the Guess-at-it are ignorant as a box of rocks - entirely possible - or they're joining with the radicals in the environmental movement in trying to stir people up by falsely raising the specter of destruction in the wilderness.
Monday, July 21, 2003- - -
More on Orrin's Hatchling
Robert Levy and Gene Healy have an article at Cato today discussing Parker v. District of Columbia, their civil suit which challenges the DC gun ban on 2nd Amendment grounds, the NRA's copycat lawsuit, and Orrin Hatch's DC Personal Protection Act . They make it clear that Publicola's analysis of the situation is spot on. The NRA, through their lawsuit and Hatch's legislation, appear to be trying to derail Parker. As I've suspected for some time, gun control is good business for LaPierre et al. and the NRA. The last thing they want is for the Supreme Court to rule that the 2nd Amendment means what it says.
Hmmm. . .
Here's a fine OpEd on Kobe Bryant. Unfortunately, it's published as straight-up news by the DenverPost.
I've just heard that Michael Jackson is moving to Wyoming. . . To Dubois.
Umm, okay, it helps to know that we pronounce it just as it's spelled.
Who in the World?
One of those totally unscientific CalgarySun polls asks: Does the world have an obligation to act militarily to save people from the tyranny of their own leaders? 57% say 'Yes'. That's a fine sentiment, but judging from current events one is forced to wonder who the respondents think will actually shoulder the world's obligation. Or you might consider this a thinly veiled plea for help, but if so it's doomed to be disappointed because I doubt we'll be invading Canada any time soon.
Turn off the lights, California!
Things have changed considerably at the Forest Service. The 'tree hogs' used to spend their FS careers 'getting out the cut', cutting every tree they could find and damn the consequences, and then they'd retire to work for a lumber mill. I remember the Bitterroot in the '60s when square miles of clear-cuts left a landscape reminiscent of nuclear devastation. I remember it before and after, and I'll never advocate going back to the days of the tree hogs.
But I wonder what those good ol' boys would have thought if they could see the transformation: Now FS employees retire to work for environmental organizations. Or at least we hope they retire first. Like some recovered alcoholics, the personality change at the Forest Service has been radical, and while one hopes that the change is for the best, there are times when you wonder if you didn't like the drunk better. It's not so much a case of Jekyll and Hyde as one of multiple disordered personalities. It's like dealing with a manic depressive off his medication. There might be a few moments of balance between swings, but it's mostly one extreme or the other. Cut it all down or lock it all up. Those seem to be the alternatives presented, and if there's a voice of moderation in the room it's a faint cry in the background.
Sunday, July 20, 2003- - -
Jeff Soyer is wound up over a cop in NYC who's ticketed a guy for possession of a cat in the subway:
And don't fucking tell me that the cop was just "doing his job" because that's bullshit. Any real man would have said, "hey, you know what, there are folks being robbed, raped, and murdered right now and I'm not going to bust some poor soul for possession of a cat while trying to scrape together a few bucks in the subway."
Jeff thinks this is anti-American police-state fascist bullshit, but I think there's a less sinister, if no less appalling reason for this sort of thing: It's just bureaucracy in action and rampant laziness (but I repeat myself), it's why they call them petty bureaucrats. On the part of the cop, it's an effort to justify his existence without doing anything too difficult or stressful. It's far safer and easier to ticket the cat guy than to go in search of actual criminals. It's easier to bust the prostitute than the pimp. It's easier to coax a teenager into selling you a joint than it is to go after the outlaw bikers selling crank, it's far safer, and a bust is a bust, a ticket is a ticket. It all pays the same.. It is, sad to say, human nature.
It infuriates me that the local police march up to my door to inform me of the dire consequences if I don't deal with that branch that's dangling 9 feet above the sidewalk (10 feet is the city standard), while there's a vacant property down the street with weeds 5 feet high and shrubs grown out over the sidewalk. But it's the path of least resistance. I'm available right there, the owner of the other property is not. It takes five minutes to give me a royal case of flaming butt, but tracking down the other guy would require actually finding out who owns the place and calling, or worse, writing a letter. Either one counts equally as a citizen contact for an unsightly premises.
Likewise, it's easier and more politically expedient for the politician to propose yet another law than to take a hard look at why the last 27 laws haven't solved the problem. It's easier to spend yet more money than to ask why the billions already spent have had no effect. It's easier to give the illusion of accomplishment than to actually accomplish something.
It's the easy way out, the quick fix, the easy answer to the difficult question. It's the teacher who can't, the voter who doesn't, the statesman who isn't that pave our particular road to hell. We're not beset by beasts, we're nibbled by ducks. And the ducks are overworked, just ask them.
I'm not sure there is an answer to the problem other than the occasional hot reboot of society. Jeff isn't alone in feeling the temptation to hit that 'Restart' button.
Ps. Yes, I think this was the point Claire Wolff was making when she said that America is at an awkward age, too late to work within the system, but too soon to shoot the bastards.
PPs. Publicola also waxes indignant over the Great New York kitten caper, wondering when it will be time to start shooting. He even quotes Claire Wolff, once again proving that great minds do indeed think alike! Or at least read the same subversive literature.
Radley Balko has an article in FoxNews discussing the latest Quixotic effort to rein-in our lawmakers.
And please grease the Johnson rod
Joanne Jacobs has a FoxNews article that explains why the local auto shop can't change oil without losing your dipstick. I didn't even know she was mechanically inclined.
Whine of the Times
This delightful tidbit, Why Liberals Are No Fun was hidden in the Arts section of today's NY Times. Perhaps because it's such an artfully rendered rebuttal to the 'myth of liberal media bias'. Says the Times:
Despite their domination of the entertainment industry, liberals barely have a foothold in the part of show business they are most exercised about. Barbra Streisand may have a contentious Web site, but Rupert Murdoch has an empire. As David Brooks put it recently in Mr. Murdoch's Weekly Standard, Democrats are in "despair that a consortium of conservative think tanks, talk radio hosts and Fox News — Hillary's vast right-wing conspiracy — has cohered to form a dazzlingly efficient ideology delivery system that swamps liberal efforts to get their ideas out." This week brought the news that Rush Limbaugh had even infiltrated ESPN's "Sunday N.F.L. Countdown" as a new cast member. And so liberals plot and dream, with the undying hope that their own Rush or O'Reilly or Hannity might turn up as miraculously as Lana Turner supposedly did at the Schwab's Pharmacy soda fountain.
Yes, the liberals really need a cable news network, and perhaps one day they'll even have their own newspaper to get their ideas out. Don't miss this one, it's hilarious.
Sorry, Mr. Anonymous
In response to my comments on the InstaPundit's take on Homeland Security, and their expansion into all sorts of areas that have nothing to do with homeland security, I've received this email:
This is not for publication, however, you can check it out yourself. DHS is not sticking its chin into areas beyond its mission. DHS is composed of 22 agencies and/or parts of agencies. These agencies all had slightly different missions. Their original missions did not change when they were formed into one new one, anti-terrorism was added. Instapundits concern was pornography. Immigration, moved in toto into DHS, was concerned with illegal aliens. Customs, again moved totally into DHS, touches everything that crosses the border. It is involved in pornography, drugs, money laundering, copyright and trademark violations, fraud and more as they relate to anything coming over the border in any way. It is simply p.r.
The email is anonymous and innocuous, so I'm a little puzzled why the sender wouldn't want it published, and I'm less than inclined to honor requests of anonymity from the anonymous at any rate, although I'll withhold the return address. Mr. Anonymous is of course, correct. He also highlights the incredible joke that is the Department of Homeland Security. They've got not just their fingers in the dike, but various other appendages as well.
I feel like a victim . . . Of Bureaucracy
An editorial in today's DenverPost says that subsequent to the Columbine massacre and September 11th a lot of us feel like victims. We're afraid, confused, and even depressed. To respond to this the South Metro Chamber of Commerce is launching a program, StandingTall.net, to show people how to empower themselves. Naturally, they don't suggest buying a gun and learning how to use it, they don't want you that empowered. They suggest things like collecting your birth certificates, wills, deeds and insurance policies and putting them in a safe place. Buy first aid supplies and make an emergency kit. That sort of thing. Fine advice to be sure, but pretty high on my namby-pamby scale.
My favorite bit: "This program pushes citizens to be a bigger part of the team and it pushes government to be more efficient," says Cunningham Fire Chief Ira Rhodes.
More efficient government? What a great idea. So why didn't they simply refer people to Ready.gov, which supplies all the same advice? Perhaps because 'efficient government' is oxymoronic in the extreme? Yes, I thought so.
All Hail, Hickenlooper!
Denver's new Mayor takes over on Monday. According to the DenverPost, he wants to transform city hall from a slow-moving bureaucracy into a business-friendly enterprise. I wish him a lot of luck, but he is going to be facing an up-hill battle with the city's employees. We're most familiar with the problem in the clichéd but true scenario of road construction workers, where one guy works while 10 lean on their shovels and watch. In my experience as a civilian government employee this behavior isn't exclusive to road construction, and getting those other workers back to work isn't going to make the new mayor any fans among his employees. Those who've been used to drawing a paycheck for putting in an appearance, attending meetings, and doing 'studies' aren't going to be happy with this new administration. I'll be looking for the bureaucracy to sabotage the mayor at every opportunity.
Bobcat Draw WSA
While out on our bikes yesterday, we came across a wooden post that had been fitted with a small brown plastic BLM sign. The sign had been torn off - a common mute comment on the BLM - but we retrieved it from the sagebrush. It was still legible and proclaimed that the area we were entering was a Wilderness Study Area - but it didn't say what WSA it might be. This was certainly news to us, as the only WSA near Worland that we were aware of is the Honeycombs, between Worland and Ten Sleep, another spectacular badlands area.
In fact, it took quite a bit of on-line sleuthing to discover that we had stumbled upon the Bobcat Draw Wilderness Study Area. There appears to be nothing on-line specifically about this WSA, but it is mentioned a couple of times in documents on 'wild' horses in the Bighorn Basin (1, 2). And no, we didn't see any 'wild' horses, nor any sign of wild horses, nor any sign of the wolf pack that's supposedly been spotted out that way. As my wife says, they must have been passing through, packing a lunch, because other than the wild horses and some few prairie dogs, the only wildlife out that way in any numbers are antelope and wolves certainly wouldn't be much threat to them, except perhaps during calving season.
These WSAs have been a point of contention for years, with most of the recent concern focused on the Jack Morrow Hills, where deposits of oil, gas, and coal underlie the WSA. As there's absolutely nothing out there anywhere near Bobcat Draw - yes, it certainly is as wild as it gets - there's been no notice paid. We'll have to explore farther to the northeast into the WSA and see what's so special about this particular bit of badlands. Its not roadless, except perhaps in the sense that the roads aren’t legally registered rights-of-way, but once off the county road system few of the two-tracks are legal rights-of-way. It's no more remote nor scenic than most of the rest of the western Bighorn Basin. So why there? Did someone simply pitch a dart at a map? Further investigation is needed.
Saturday, July 19, 2003- - -
Another good one
If you're not reading The Smallest Minority you should be. Excellent stuff!
Cough, Choke, Wheeeeze
We hit the road at dawn this am, up Gooseberry Road to Murphy Draw Road, where we parked and rode our mountain bikes up Murphy Draw to the Squaw Teats and then on north to the north end of East Ridge. Yes, I said Squaw Teats, one of the last place names that hasn't been sanitized by the mapmakers. This is a high spot (okay, a nicely formed pair of high spots) out in the middle of the Willwood Formation badlands, where you can look out over the entire Bighorn Basin and all of the surrounding mountain ranges. The Willwood Formation is spectacularly scenic, with brightly variegated strata of red, tan, purple, and white, laid down as deltaic deposits during the Middle Eocene, about 55 million years ago. To stand in the middle of all that and look off toward the Pryor, Bighorn, Bridger, Owl Creek, and Absaroka mountain ranges circling almost entirely around is well worth the drive, and riding bicycles into the middle of the Willwood badlands confers an extra measure of moral superiority: It's bloody hot and so barren that even the jackrabbits pack a lunch. Of course, the rancher we encountered was completely flummoxed by such clearly insane behavior - You parked your air-conditioned truck down by the highway so you could ride bicycles up here? You sure you don't want a ride?? The poor guy really was a little uncertain what to do, as the unwritten code says you don't abandon someone in the desert, especially if they seem a bit tetched, but we assured him that we were fine and he went on his way. Shaking his head I'm sure.
Unfortunately, today the smoke drifting into the basin from the Deep Lake fire turned the mountains into faint ghosts with barely discernable snow caps peeking through the haze. It didn't do much for the close scenery either. By the time we got back to the Jeep our eyes were burning and our throats were raw, and we wondered whether we were improving our health or damaging it, so perhaps the rancher was right. The air reminded me of vintage 1960s LA smog, without the chemical tang true, but thick and nasty nonetheless.
It sounds like Mordor, and today it was, but this really isn't usual, or truly unusual I suppose. There's a forest fire somewhere every few weeks in the normal course of things, it gets smoky for a few days and then it clears up again.
What is Orrin Hatching?
Publicola has an absolutely excellent analysis of Sen. Hatch's bill proposing to repeal parts of DC's firearms laws. He suggests that Hatch and his NRA sponsors have ulterior motives. Specifically, they're trying to undercut Cato's lawsuit and protect the phony baloney jobs of the gun lobby. I think he's nailed it. Go read!
Friday, July 18, 2003- - -
Ode to the Redneck
Via Bill Quick, the latest at the Tocquevillian magazine is not to be missed.
Thursday, July 17, 2003- - -
Says the InstaPundit:
While the Democrats are trying to savage Bush over African uranium, they’re missing the biggest opportunity of the year. Tom Ridge has basically admitted that the Department of Homeland Security doesn’t have enough to do, as he’s decided to expand beyond antiterrorism to an attack on “child predators.” You can read about it in this column of mine from the TechCentralStation webzine. The way I see it, the Democrats have to win on this one. Either Ridge is right, and the risk of terror attacks is over — meaning that the Democrats can safely move to non-terror-related issues, or Ridge is wrong, in which case the administration is being cavalier with Americans’ security.
I usually find it difficult to find anything to disagree with in Reynolds' writing, but we part company on this one. I'll argue that Ridge is wrong, period. He's wrong for sticking his chin into areas beyond the mandate of his agency and he's wrong for being cavalier with our security. But since politicians and bureaucrats on both sides of the isle are . . . well, politicians and bureaucrats, I'll not hold my breath until anyone challenges Ridge on this. After all, expanding one's sphere of power is what pols & 'crats do, Ridge isn't alone, he's typical.
Lord I'm a slut for a pretty gun and today I received a couple more pair of bonded ivory grips from Boone Trading, for my little Chief and my favorite M29. With this I think I've rid myself of plastic and rubber pistol grips. Not only do the ivory grips look better, they are amazingly heavy and considerably change the balance and handling of the long-barreled .44. For the better I think, but this is obviously pretty subjective. They do make the gun look just like some of old Elmer Keith's favorite big bores.
On the Chief they make it look like the classic snubbies on the fronts of cheap detective novels, even more so because the gun is a Fitz conversion with bobbed hammer and trigger guard. I note that variations of "Fitz conversion" draw no hits on Google, so perhaps I should point out that this was very popular back in the '20s and '30s, when a gunsmith at Colt named Fitz busily bobbed hammers and trigger guards from a variety of revolvers, and even from a few 1911s. At least in theory, the idea was to make the gun more pocket friendly - the bobbed hammer spur wouldn't get hung up on clothing and removing the trigger guard allowed a revolver to be more easily fired in the pocket (ouch!) if necessary in a pinch. Why this would be done to the big 1911 Colt I have no idea, although it looks funky as hell. On the little Chief the cut-away guard does help me get my big sausage finger onto the trigger, although it's best to be darn careful re-holstering a gun that's been done this way: Shooting oneself in the butt is considered poor form.
But would you really want such shallow friends?
I note a sidebar ad for the South Beach Diet over at MSReynolds.com that proclaims "Lose the belly, thin the thighs, make new friends!"
Are we there yet?
There's more than one way for the media to reveal their biases. In today's Northern Wyoming Daily News print edition [article not on-line anywhere], Mort Kondracke has an OpEd that leads: For the past three months, the news from Iraq has been almost continuously bad, dominated by accounts of US casualties. . . . He's right of course, the news has been bad. As an example, today's Casper Star Tribune print edition front page carries a picture of "An injured US Army soldier" and an article on page A5 with the headline "Pentagon dashes troops' hope of return." [Neither of which is available on-line at present.]
But let's take an objective look at this relentlessly bad news. [You, objective? -- Ed. Quiet you! If FoxNews can say they're "Fair and Balanced" I can call myself objective.] While it's regrettable that we live in a world where we need soldiers and where they must occasionally be deployed overseas, and it's doubly regrettable that they take any casualties whatever, calling the casualty rate in Iraq 'bad news' seems to lack perspective. Compared to the casualty rate in any previous war we've fought, the casualty rate so far in Iraq is in fact excellent news, it has been extremely low by historic standards. Hopefully it will remain so. But the only way that our casualty rate in Iraq is bad news is as compared to no casualties whatever, and that seems more than a little unrealistic.
Then there's this business about our troops bad morale - it's hot and they're missing their blockbuster movies, according to the Red Star. Worse than that, they've been deployed for eight months and no one will tell them when they can come home. I commented on this at Bill Quick's last evening, but I think it's worth pointing out again: I believe that these accounts of bad morale are seriously overblown. Our troops are highly trained professionals. Suggesting that eight months of deployment has destroyed their morale doesn't give them much credit. Particularly arguing that 'not knowing when they will come home' is a hardship is tantamount to suggesting that they are akin to a bunch of kids in the back seat whining 'Are we there yet? Are we there yet?' Certainly we've been getting a lot of this from the media and from the loyal opposition: 'How much will the WoT cost? When will it be over?' But personally, I give our troops more credit for professionalism than I give the press. Or the pols.
As I pointed out at Bill's, keeping the troops in the dark and feeding them bullshit has been standard command procedure since Hector was a pup. It really should be nothing new to any of them who have been in the service more than six months. Despite the cries of "Vietnam!, Vietnam!" this is no Vietnam. Our troops know exactly why they are over there. They've seen the video of the WTC and they've seen the mass graves where Saddam's victims were buried. I doubt they're chanting 1, 2, 3, what are we fightin' for? They know what they're fighting for, it's the press and the lefties that sometimes seem a bit confused on that point. While they have every right to be pissed off for the jerking around they're getting, I seriously doubt it's damaging their morale or softening their resolve, at least to the extent that some would have us believe.
Right after September 11th the Prez said this would be a long hard fight. He was not lying. He did not exaggerate. So tell the kids 'No, we're not there yet'.
Ps. Perhaps I don't give the press and at least some on the left enough credit either. Sometimes I think the only way they could be so overplaying their role as useful idiots is if they're in on the gag. And it really is starting to look like John Weidner is right. 'Oh whaaa! We want to go home! If they hit us just one more time we're all going to mutiny!' nudge nudge, wink wink. Think of Baghdad as a roach motel for terrorists. . .
Wednesday, July 16, 2003- - -
More gun fiddling
Awhile back I mentioned that my dad has given me the old S&W Combat Masterpiece that he carried as a deputy sheriff. Those were certainly different days when a cop felt well armed with a .38 Special. Actually, I still feel perfectly well armed with a .38, although the ammunition has been improved considerably over the old 200 gr. round nose lead Remington (R38S9) police loads that my dad carried.
While the action is smooth as butter from the hand-fitting of yesteryear and years of carry and use, I was astonished at how heavy the mainspring and trigger pull were when he first gave it to me. I suppose those heavy springs were meant to provide an extra degree of reliability in a duty revolver that might be loaded with less than perfect ammunition and maintained less than immaculately, but they seemed more than excessively heavy to me.
I've used the excellent Wolff springs in my 1911 for years, but I'd never had call to try them in a revolver, so I ordered up a set of Wolff reduced power springs from Brownell's (their Pro-spring kit SWK/L/N-201) for the old S&W. The kit provides a "Power Rib" reduced power flat mainspring and a set of 13, 14, and 15 pound rebound springs. With visions of rebound springs launching themselves around the room, I also ordered their S&W rebound slide spring tool to aid in disassembly and reassembly.
The slide spring tool saved a lot of aggravation as I dropped in the main spring and 13# rebound spring, and the springs lightened the action delightfully. The gun seems perfectly reliable, with a robust hammer fall that leaves a good deep primer indention, the trigger returns crisply, and the double-action trigger pull is much improved. As with most S&Ws, the single-action pull was light and crisp before and remains so now.
I was so impressed with the spring set that I've since installed the same spring set in my favorite S&W M29 and installed Brownell's Pro-Spring Kit SWJ-200 in my Chief. The improvement was not so marked in either of these guns, but I figure that a new set of springs every 25 years or so can't possibly hurt.
It's simple, really
Let's try to keep this straight: The Bighorn River flows through Big Horn County in the Bighorn Basin, which is just west of the Bighorn Mountains. Neither Bighorn Ridge nor Bighorn Mountain are in the Bighorn Mountains, but Big Horn Reservoir and the Big Horn Mine are. And yes, you can find Bighorn sheep in the Bighorn Mountains. Got that?
Some days I can relate
Strange snippets of muzak at the sudatory emporium:
"I'm not crazy, I'm just a little impaired"
Here's a brief article from the Billings Gazette on one of my favorite areas: Adobe Town. It truly is spectacular, as is all of the country you will see getting there, and you won't see another tourist. The access directions they give at the bottom of the page are probably the best way to get there and the road that way is a decent graveled road maintained by the county, but I'd point out that it is one devil of a long way from Yellowstone and it would be better to plan a day trip out of Rock Springs or Rawlins. In fact, it's three hours one way from Rock Springs.
Even I marvel at the isolation of the Eversoles, who live on a working cattle ranch south of Delaney Rim, and I love the basketball hoop on the telephone pole in the corral, it reminds me of where I grew up (hard to dribble amongst the cow pies). There are indeed a lot of feral horses in that area and they are some of the finest-looking I've seen, especially the many dapple grays, who start out black as colts and gradually turn pure white with age. Absolutely beautiful.
I highly recommend the trip, but warn you that it's best to take a good 4WD. We always take plenty of food and water (enough for several days), plenty of warm clothing (it's a high desert and gets darn cold at night even in summer), and make sure someone knows where we're going and when we'll be back. A friend made the mistake of getting stuck in a dry wash out that way without adequate food and water. He had a very miserable three-day walk back to civilization, where he promptly came down with Giardia from drinking from a water trough. I'm not joking, it's about as far as you can get out in the middle of nowhere in the lower 48, don't go unprepared. But do go, it really does rival the national Parks and Monuments for scenery. And you'll be the only one on your block who's ever been there.
Tuesday, July 15, 2003- - -
"I shall not obey!"
The armed and ever dangerous Eric Raymond pokes a few holes in the myth of Man the Killer in a long and thoughtful essay. Says he: "Our original sin is not murderousness -- it is obedience."
I think he's dangerously close to the truth here. Must reading!
This will force me to polish up my lamentably bad Russian: Gun.Ru a website for gun enthusiasts in Russia with lots of fascinating links to manufacturers and gun clubs, chat rooms, articles, etc.
Douglas Chandler writes in response to my recent post on the reliability, or lack thereof of weapons in the hands of the inexpert:
I've been trying to think up a good mix and/or design of weapons for support personnel in the armed services. The problem I'm having is lack of experience and knowledge about past and current weapons. About all I have going is spotty reading and half remembered conversations with veterans and relatives who have seen the elephant. One Army vet who served in Korea said that the most reliable weapon in the cold, at least for his unit, was the BAR. I have no idea how it functions in the sand though. He said the M-1 carbine would sometimes fail to cycle in extreme cold and even the M-1Garand would sometimes malfunction in that environment. I knew a Marine who thought well of the old "Grease Gun" but that was in Vietnam. It seems really fine sand is the worst about jamming weapons, the black sand at Iwo Jima apparently jammed a lot of Garands. The SEALs were and are said to be fond of the M-14. Off course those guys know how! to take care of weapons. I know Sgt. Barnyard traded his M-16 for a semi-auto only M-14 when he was in Vietnam. Pump shotguns, lever or pump action .223 rifles? The FN-90, don't know how it reacts to talcum powder sand and it has a proprietary round. Bolt action SMLE in .308? Ak-47 variants in .223, of course I remember reading about how they found the magazines of the low level Iraqi conscripts so full of sand that they wouldn't work in Gulf War I. I guess until they make some solid state ray gun that you throw away after the battery expires are you going to find a maintenance free weapon. Any ideas?
I know of no piece of machinery with moving parts that requires no maintenance, and I certainly know of no weapon that can be used with no training. It's a hell of a problem and isn't going away any time soon. As the M16 is proving to be a three-shot disposable weapon in these situations, it might be better to accept that the weapon is disposable and go with something like the old M3 greasegun, which cost about $30 a copy. Seal them in a bag with a couple of loaded magazines and issue them with the instruction not to open the sealed bag except in an emergency. At least that way the troopies would have a clean, properly lubricated weapon when they needed one. Unfortunately, that only addresses the reliability issue and not the training needed to employ the weapon.
Gerald Ford turned 90 on Monday and said he hopes to be remembered for restoring honesty and integrity to the American presidency.
Don't have a cow!?
Why, rent one then!
Your tax dollars at work
The US cycling team and Lance Armstrong are sponsored by the US Postal Service?
I received the new sights I'd ordered for my little Mountie and installed them, and finally reached the moment of truth. I took it to the range, tested it out, and sighted it in.
When I install a receiver sight I always install the new sight before I remove the old rear sight, so I can line up the receiver sight with the old sights. Then I remove the front sight and line up the replacement with the receiver sight and old rear, finally removing the old rear sight and lining up the new fold-down rear with the new receiver sight and new front sight. In theory at least this keeps everything pointing in more or less the same direction and can save a lot of time getting on paper at the range. Sometimes it works better than other times and this time I was lucky, the gun shot to point of aim at 50 yards with no sight adjustment whatsoever. Not only that, but it feeds and fires flawlessly. Sometimes I even amaze myself.
So how does it shoot? The first group from the bench was a bit disappointing, with seven shots going into 2.94" at 50 yards. The eighth shot was a misfire, calling a halt to what I'd intended to be a 10-shot string. This was mostly disappointing because I was shooting the cheapest 'green box' Remington 40 gr. solids - I have a pile of them from a bulk purchase and none of my guns will shoot them worth a damn. That's not surprising I suppose, considering that there are noticeable differences in the report from one shot to the next, and the misfire appeared to be entirely the fault of the ammo, the firing pin indention is robust.
So on to my favorite cheap stuff - Federal's American Eagle .22 hollowpoints, which generally give acceptable accuracy and are excellent small game killers. These put four shots into 1.27" right at the point of aim, with a fifth flying high and expanding the group to 1.63". I'll blame the last shot on the sweat dripping in my eyes, it was 102° at the range according to my pocket thermometer.
With that, I packed it in. It was simply too hot to be enjoyable. 1½-inch groups aren't in the same class with my scope-sighted Ruger M77/22, which will give sub-½-inch groups at 50 yards with ammo it likes, but not at all bad for an iron-sighted lever gun. After all, accuracy isn't the big selling point of the lever-action. Speed at short range is the desired object and the combination of receiver sight and square post front with white line insert is very, very fast for me. I'm pleased that the handling and sight picture are very comparable to my big-bore lever guns, and I'm sure the added practice will do me good.
Park Service may ax archaeologists
Oh yes, in their case it would be archeologists, as one of the most notable things they've done was try to change the spelling of the term. Too British with an 'a', I guess.
Rep. Doug Bereuter (R-Neb.), whose district includes the Park Service' Midwest Archeological Center, concluded that the initiative was driven strictly by quotas -- "a very arbitrary decision," he said: "On a job-by-job basis there are firms that could do this work, but you're not going to have the institutional history, archives and resources. This will destroy centers of expertise that can never be reassembled."
Unhuh. This assumes that private consultants don't have institutional histories, access to archives, and resources of our own. I realize that these folks are desperately trying to save their jobs, but that's just insulting. I've been at this for 30 years now, considerably longer than a lot of the wet-behind-the-ears pups they send out here. I've got just as much access to, and considerably more familiarity with the Wyoming state archives than most anyone in Nebraska does - I've actually done research in our archives - hell, I helped move the state curation facility into its current location. But mostly it assumes that you can create 'centers of expertise' in a field that is inherently very specialized.
I would argue that no one's expertise can be so broad and so deep that they are better qualified over a larger area than any of the people who regularly work in the region. This is the fallacy, and the unwitting handicap that the Park Service works under: They are the experts you see, no need to consult anyone who might actually know something about the area. Consequently, on their occasional forays to the wild, wild west they have produced some atrociously bad work. They've occasionally done some very good work too, but usually when they were lucky enough to have someone on staff, or wise enough to contract someone who was familiar with the local area or the problem at hand.
I can't wait to hear the screaming and shouting among my government employee colleagues, who will undoubtedly see this as at least an indirect threat to their jobs. We do indeed live in interesting times, but that's not always a curse.
Ps. Oh, and don't miss the bit from John E. Ehrenhard, superintendent at the Park Service' Southeast Archeological Center, who says "We do what's in the best interests of the public, which is not always in the best interests of some developer and may not make the most sense economically. . . .But we're the government, and we can't be bought."
Just priceless. Only government employees have any integrity you see.
PPs. GGRRRR!! The more I think about that 'can't be bought' bit the more times I recall when bozo bureaucrats caved like a bad soufflé under the least bit of political pressure. Can't be bought, indeed. What self-serving crap.
PPPs. Bwwwaaaahahaha!! I put out a link on a professional web ring this morning and the response has been . . . interesting. Oddly enough the reaction of the government employees and that of the private sector is just about diametrically opposed. Imagine that.
You could put your eye out!
The law of the hammer rules . . . and government is the biggest hammer of all. In today's totally unscientific CalgarySun poll an astonishing 41.5% of respondents answer 'Yes' to "Should it be mandatory for pellet guns to be licensed?"
Friday, July 11, 2003- - -
The Osama connection
Via the Instapundit comes a report that says that an Iraqi intelligence officer, Abid Al-Karim Muhamed Aswod [how appropriate] coordinated activities between the Iraqi regime and "Osama bin Laden's group".
My wife just stopped by the police department to drop off our bicycle registrations. The lights were off and there was no one there. I hope Andy and Barney forward the 911 calls while they're at lunch.
The Next Green Revolution
Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, Nobel Laureate, primogenitor of the Green Revolution, and proponent of biotechnology, has an interesting article on agriculture in Africa in today's NYTimes.
Thursday, July 10, 2003- - -
It seems that Wayne Easter, Canada's Solicitor-General, is urging the UN to copy the Canadian firearms registry scheme. But, says the National Post, "Canada's gun registry has become a sad symbol of government overspending and incompetence. The last thing Mr. Easter should be doing is encouraging other nations to copy Canada's billion-dollar folly."
It seems to me that the UN is a sad symbol of government overspending and incompetence, so I'm sure they'll be happy to entertain Easter's recommendations.
[Link forwarded by Capt. J.M. Heinrichs]
Take a hard left, then straight on over the cliff. . .
Washington Post - When Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch's lost maintenance company was ambushed in Nasiriyah, Iraq, on March 23, many of the unit's soldiers were unable to defend themselves because their weapons malfunctioned, according to an Army report.
"These malfunctions," the report says, "may have resulted from inadequate individual maintenance in a desert environment" where sand, heat and improper maintenance combined to render the weapons inoperable.
. . .
When Cpl. Damien Luten, sitting in the passenger seat of a 5-ton tractor-trailer in the second group, attempted to fire the unit's only .50-caliber machine gun, it failed, the report said. Luten was wounded in the leg while reaching for his M-16. Spec. James Grubb, in the passenger seat of a 5-ton fuel truck, "returned fire with his M-16 until wounded in both arms, despite reported jamming of his weapon," it said.
The third group of vehicles, which included the Humvee in which Lynch was riding, also had weapons problems.
After Lynch's Humvee crashed, Sgt. James Riley ran with two other soldiers to see if the vehicle's occupants could be saved. His weapon jammed. Riley reached for 1st Sgt. Robert Dowdy's M-16 to use instead. Dowdy had been killed instantly in the crash. Riley ordered the two soldiers with him to take cover and then tried to use each of their M-16s against the Iraqis. "But both jammed," the report said.
The two soldiers, Spec. Edgar Hernandez and Spec. Shoshana Johnson, were wounded, and "with no means to continue to resist, Sgt. Riley made the decision to surrender the two soldiers and himself."
A perennial problem: Weapons designed to be maintained and employed by expert infantrymen don't fare too well in the hands of mechanics and truck drivers. I don't know that there is a solution other than coming up with two classes of weapons, and that would certainly complicate logistics.
Ps. I suppose that the answer is additional training, but weapons training is incredibly expensive, and comes at the cost of less training in some other, perhaps more essential areas.
Update: Mike Jackmin writes:
Well, that's an easy enough question to answer; assuming that these are the only these two alternatives, which one would be cheaper?
Consider the M1 carbine, first intended for use by mechanics and truck drivers - it used a different cartridge than the M1 rifle, which really would be a logistical nightmare (I suppose it was then, too). Nonetheless, I think the idea was sound, and the carbine certainly was popular with those folks.
I suppose a modern equivalent would be the folding-stock, carbine version of the Israeli Galil - it uses the same ammo as the M16 (and perhaps we could modify it to take the same magazines) and is reportedly immune to dust and dirt. The logistical burden would still be there, but it hardly seems a difficult one. Most of the logistic problems would exist back home, not in the field. (Do we even have forward people who fix rifles anymore, or do we just replace them and ship the broken ones back)?
OTOH... if these guys were too poorly trained to maintain their weapons, aren't they also too poorly trained to fight well, even if their weapons do work?
I can say this - if I was in charge of a maintenance company, and if I had limited training resources available and I realized, as a practical matter, that I could have ace mechanics or credible fighters but not both, I'd see that they were ace mechanics first. Given that, I'd welcome the Galil as a potential lifesaver.
Of course, I've never served in the military…
Unfortunately, I suspect that Mike is right, they're probably no better trained to fight than they are to maintain their weapons, and it probably is due to a conscious decision to train mechanics to be mechanics. Tighter rear area security might help, but it drains resources from the fighting units. There's no easy answer I'm afraid.
Wednesday, July 09, 2003- - -
Most armed country in the world!
Steve Den Beste has an interesting post on gun ownership in the US and the UN's desire to disarm us.
The new carrier rocker for my Marlin Mountie that is. I've really got to hand it to Gun Parts Corp. I ordered the parts on-line Saturday, July 5th, they notified me by email that they had been shipped on Monday, July 7, and they arrived in today's mail. Granted the five screws, the carrier rocker and carrier rocker spring, cartridge stop and cartridge stop spacer must have weighed at least two grams all together and the whole works came First Class in a regular business-sized envelope, but still, that's great service. Every single part and screw was correct, and the whole works cost $36 with shipping.
I degreased all the parts and installed them - it must have taken at least 15 minutes - and I now have a fully operational baby lever gun. Since I'd fooled with the cartridge stop, which allows only one cartridge at a time to be fed out of the tubular magazine, and with the carrier, which lifts the cartridge from the magazine up in line with the chamber where it can be chambered by the bolt, I function tested the gun to insure that it feeds and ejects properly. It does, although with the new parts and springs it is a bit stiff. I suspect that it will smooth up some with use, and as it is the action is considerably smoother than any modern-manufactured Marlin I've tried lately. Fit and finish of the little gun are also first-rate, something that has been largely lost to the high cost of skilled labor over the last many years.
One thing I did note in function testing: The tiny ejection port makes it impossible to see into the action to determine if the gun is loaded. To clear it, the best you can do is remove the inner magazine tube, drop the cartridges into your hand, reinstall the magazine tube, and then work the lever several times to make sure that no more cartridges feed from the magazine into the chamber. Of course you can, and should(!) look to see that the chamber is empty, but not being able to visually inspect the action to insure that no cartridges remain does make me slightly nervous. This is one place where the Colonel's rule - "All guns are always loaded" - applies in spades. It's certainly not the safest gun for the inexperienced. But is a lovely little thing.
Somehow, I don't think I'll be able to wait until the new sights arrive to take it out and try it.
Tuesday, July 08, 2003- - -
You can observe a lot just by watching.
-- Yogi Berra
The WaPo searches for a clue
An editorial in today's Washington Post says: While reaching out to U.S. allies, President Bush also needs to speak more clearly about Iraq to the American people. Last week he finally acknowledged that rebuilding Iraq would be "a massive and long-term undertaking," but his shallow "bring 'em on" taunt to the militants merely underlined his failure to clearly explain the objectives of U.S. forces and how long it may take to achieve them.
First, one is forced to wonder where the editors of the WaPo were when Bush declared war on terrorism immediately after September 11th, and stated that the war would be long and difficult. Then there's the "bring 'em on" bit. Apparently the WaPo thinks this a baseless taunt by brainless ol' Dubya, but others have suggested that it is a carefully crafted ploy to draw out terrorists and Islamists, dealing with them on our terms and on what is now our turf.
I find all the demands that the administration and military be more open and clear in their plans and timetable for Iraq and the broader war on terror to be either naïve - tantamount to the wails of the children in the back seat "Are we there yet? Are we there yet?" - or disingenuous - 'they should share their secret plans!'. Let's not forget that secrecy is necessary to achieve surprise, an essential tenet of warfare. Demanding less secrecy in warfare is just silly.
Personally, I like the idea that the WaPo is serving as a useful idiot for the Prez. After all, if they're going to be idiots they'd as well make themselves useful.
Who'd a thunk it?
My beloved CalgarySun on-line polls are bunk? Well. . . yes, of course they are. But it depends on whether you're looking for validity or validation, or another reason to be aggravated.
Take today's poll for example: Do you think people deserve to do jail time for throwing pies at political figures? An astonishing 62.5% say 'Yes', probably indicating that a lot of political figures answer these polls, or that most people think this a terrible waste of pie.
The poll was prompted by the recent pie-ing of Alberta Premier Ralph Klein at the Calgary Stampede. With typical humorlessness, the perps are being charged with assault.
Now here's a good opportunity for libertarian guerrilla theater: Why not offer bounties on bureaucrats? A full-face coconut cream = $500, plus bail. Bop him with a long-range blintz = $50. Rotten fruit at $25 a pitch, etc. Show 'em the respect they richly deserve.
Take me drunk, I'm home!
From the Police Report in today's Northern Wyoming Daily News [report not on-line]:
David Christopher Wilks, 33, was arrested for public intoxication at the Law Enforcement Center after walking in the back door intoxicated and not knowing where he was.
Yes, it appears that he got drunk, got lost, and walked into the police department. In training for a Darwin Award, I presume.
Monday, July 07, 2003- - -
Back on June 26th I opined that the Supreme's opinion in Lawrence v. Texas could apply equally well to the whole gamut of victimless crimes. I'm glad to see that the Blogfather agrees.
Update: I note that the Instapundit also posted on this back on June 26th. I guess I should read his MSNBC columns more often.
Well, some archaeologists seem to see vaginas everywhere they look.
On the other hand, I'd probably be arrested if I posted pictures of some of the rock art around here. It can go beyond obscene.
The fine folks at Gun Parts Corp. have just emailed to assure me that they do indeed have a carrier rocker for my Mountie, along with all the other miscellaneous bits & pieces I need to put it back in operation. In celebration, I've ordered a Williams Foolproof receiver sight, an Ashley post front sight with vertical white line insert, and a Marble's folding leaf rear sight to fill the rear sight dovetail slot, all from Brownell's. This will set up the .22 to match the sights on my big bore lever guns, never a bad idea.
Now if I just had a nice K22 to match the Mountie I'd be in redneck nirvana. . .
Hmm. . . Of course, I'll be pretty close to nirvana if I just draw an elk license.
I thought that life was good when I nabbed a Mountie last weekend, but today the nice mail lady brought me two pair of bonded ivory grips from Boone Trading Co. I heartily agree with John Taffin's observation that 'life is too short to spend it with an ugly gun' and I've been dressing up mine. I bought a pair of checkered bonded ivory grips from Boone for my 1911 a few months ago and liked them very much, so I sent off for a pair for my Python and another pair to dress up the old .38 Combat Masterpiece that my dad carried as a deputy sheriff. Such things don't grow on trees and it took several months for them to arrive, but they came today. And they are gorgeous.
Both pair are the minimalist 'magna' style that I'm coming to appreciate after years of oversized wood and rubber with finger grooves. True, the finger grooves and filler behind the trigger guard do help keep a consistent grip, and oversized grips help soak up recoil, but the smaller magna grips are the type originally designed for these handguns and somehow they just look and feel better. The feel of the S&W grips is particularly nice since they are also contoured like the older originals rather than having parallel sides. Both pair fit very well with only minimal fitting required.
The bonded ivory takes on a patina like solid ivory, and looks and feels like solid ivory, but is (supposedly) much more durable and less likely to check with age. There's no chance that they will be mistaken for plastic imitation ivory. Best of all, they're 28 bucks a pair, a real steal, and only about a tenth the price of comparable solid ivory grips. Life is good.
Ps. Speaking of classic handguns, I also received my August Handloader today and I note that Ross Seyfried has an article on Classic Smith & Wessons! My beer mug runneth over.
I'm not often tempted to buy anything from the fists-full of advertising flyers that are inserted in every bill and bit of commercial correspondence I receive, but I am tempted by the Disco still sucks T-shirts.
"A National Disgrace"
Nice to see the Indian Trust case getting some traction, this time in the DenverPost.
Sunday, July 06, 2003- - -
Isn't that cute?
Imagine my surprise to see that Marlin Firearms Co. is advertising a lever action shotgun! It's less surprising once I see that it is a .410 based on the firm's Model 1895 frame, as are it's .45-70, .450 Marlin, and .444 Marlin rifles. A neat idea, I'll have to keep my eyes open for one in the flesh.
Hmm. . . On further perusal I note that this beastie weighs in at 7¼ pounds, more than a bit stout for a .410. Surely a lighter weight barrel and stock would reduce its heft and make it a far handier outfit.
Ps. Also check out Marlin's new Model 1897 Texan! It's essentially an octagon-barreled version of their old Model 39M Mountie.
And here's one that Craig Henry will enjoy: Marlin's new Model 1894FG in .41 Magnum.
Sigh. So many guns, so little time and money.
PPs. Cheri and Mike Jackmin write:
A couple years back, Winchester offered a .410 model 94. Why? Nobody knows. But everybody seemed to want one.
Personally, I think pistol caliber leverguns can be excellent home defense guns. Mechanically obvious, easy to store safely while loaded, short, handy, powerful, mild kick, what's not to like? They even look nice and traditional to the jury, none of that assault-weapons stuff going on here, no sir.
So maybe that's why they came out with the .410?
Who knows why anyone would want a lever-action .410? There have been a few lever-action shotguns produced over the years but none of them were ever very popular.
The point about using a 'cowboy gun' for home defense is a very good one. Even out here in the wild, wild west there are plenty of folks who don't think anyone should have one of those ugly black guns, but most folks also look on the lever guns as innocuous antiques. I believe that Massad Ayoob also made this point in one of his books: After the gun fight you'll likely face a jury and if you used a black gun they may well think you were spoiling for a fight. If you defended yourself with an 'antique' they will be much more sympathetic.
Yet in a gun fight, I'll happily take my old Browning M92 .44 magnum over any 9mm squirtgun you could name.
Saturday, July 05, 2003- - -
Blah, Blah, Blah . . .
Nick Gillespie at Reason's Hit and Run notes ". . . an Agence France-Presse story of a University of Maryland survey that found "52 percent of respondents said they believed President George W. Bush and his aides were 'stretching the truth but not making false statements' about Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's chemical, biological and nuclear programs."" In the story, only 10% "said US officials were presenting Congress, the American public and the international community 'evidence they knew was false,'" while 32% "said they thought the government was being 'fully truthful' about the Iraqi arsenal."
Gillespie suggests that this might follow from a high degree of public cynicism regarding the government: We have come to expect our leaders to be dishonest and/or incompetent and simply don't care.
However, believing we've been lied to and not caring is quite a different thing from not believing we've been lied to, as 32% of the respondents did. This is an odd situation considering that the vast majority of the mainstream media have been screaming 'Bush lied! Bush Lied!'. The simpler explanation of these poll results might be that only 10% of this poll's respondents really believe what they have been told so loud and often by the media. Cynicism yes, but with a far different object.
Perhaps Paul Krugman is really an agent provocateur of the GOP craftily discrediting the leftist talking heads with his over-the-top rhetoric? If so, he and his brethren couldn't be doing a better job, could they?
Ps. For the anti-Bush media, there is an inconvenient bottom line to the U. of Maryland Polls: When asked "Do you think the US made the right decision or the wrong decision in going to war against Iraq?" 68% responded 'Right decision' in the May Poll and supposedly 65% still said 'Right decision' in June. Only 22% responded 'Wrong decision' in May, with 10% not responding.
Furthermore, when asked in May "How would you rate President Bush's leadership in dealing with the following international problems and issues: The situation in Iraq?" 53% responded 'Very strong leadership' and another 21% responded 'Somewhat strong leadership'. 14% responded 'Neither strong nor weak' and only 5% and 6% responded 'Somewhat weak' or Very weak', respectively.
So let's get this straight: somewhere between 65-68% of the public think the Prez made the right decision in going to war with Iraq, and about 74% (in May) think he exhibits strong or very strong leadership in Iraq. Funny that those statistics don't feature prominently in the news (1, 2). "Nothing to see here, move along! Move along!"
PPs. Lest you think I'm picking on Nick Gillespie, I'll point out that he's just commenting on what the mainstream media have reported, in a forum that's devoted to opinion. What I find objectionable is the supposedly unbiased news reports that ignore the strongest findings of the U. of Maryland poll, that 68% of the public thinks the Prez made the right decision in Iraq and 74% think he shows strong leadership, and focus on the one finding that supports their biases, the 52% who think Bush may have stretched the truth a bit. I'd like to say I'm surprised at such behavior, but I'm not.
Lest we forget
Don't miss the concentration camp photos being posted by Silflay Hraka.
Or in this case old toys that are new to me. I've finally acquired one of those guns I always wanted but were always too expensive/impractical, or outright impossible to find, a 1950's vintage Marlin Model 39M "Mountie," the straight-gripped, 20-inch-barrelled version of their lever action .22. When I was a kid this was about as close as you could get to a lever-action rifle in .22 caliber and I wanted one in the worst way. Worst because the little Marlin has always been one of the most expensive .22s in production, putting it far out of my juvenile reach. Later, when I could afford one, I'd become an accuracy freak and nothing but a scope-sighted bolt gun would do. By the time I'd gotten all the scope-sighted .22s I could possibly ever use, Marlin had discontinued the Mountie and committed the atrocity of fitting their remaining lever guns with a cross-bolt safety, which useless gadget offends my sensibilities mightily. Nothing but the original sans safety Mountie would do, and those have been hard to find, until now.
Best of all for my tinkering nature, this "Original Golden 39M" overcame the twin objections of expense and impracticality by arriving at my door in pieces, and a few too few pieces at that. It had broken and the previous owner's attempt to fix it had resulted in the loss of several of the smaller, but still essential bits. The price was definitely right - "If you think you can fix it, you can have it." Let me think about that for a minute . . . Okay, times up. Does it still have a barrel sticking out of the front of the receiver? Yes, it does. Then I can fix it, thanks!
First up, the action was so full of carbon and bullet grease and lead shavings that it was impossible to determine what was wrong or what parts might be missing, so a detailed disassembly and thorough scrubbing was needed. Ordinarily I'd use a toothbrush and a dash of Hoppe's, but this one needed an industrial-strength cleaning with a brass brush and a pan of kerosene (outside on the steps, it's flammable!!) before I could finish up with the more traditional solvent and toothbrush. A good scrubbing revealed that a large lead shaving had jammed the carrier rocker outward and caused the tiny hook on the carrier rocker that lifts and lowers the cartridge carrier to be broken off. Without a functioning carrier rocker it won't feed cartridges from the magazine, rendering it a rather poor single-shot due to its tiny ejection port.
Further examination found that the cartridge stop, cartridge stop spacer, and cartridge stop screw are missing, as well as the two screws that secure the fore end cap and the two plug screws that fill the scope mounting holes. I made a quick pass through the Gun Parts Corp. web site and have all of these parts on order for a whopping $30. I'm crossing my fingers because their site indicates that the carrier rocker is in limited availability, although it would be a relatively simple part to make. Still, I'd much rather buy one for eight bucks than spend hours milling a new one, lazy of me, I know.
Other than that, the gun is in fine shape with a shiny bore and 98% of the original finish, although the stock was so dry it appeared gray from many years of languishing in a closet. A heavy dose of Formby's lemon oil furniture polish brought out the original color of the walnut and a good going-over with oiled 4-ought steel wool removed some slight surface rust from the blued steel. Now all I need is parts. And of course a new Williams Foolproof receiver sight, an Ashley post front sight with vertical white line insert, and a Marble's folding leaf rear sight to fill the rear sight dovetail slot, all from Brownell's.
All together I'll have about $150 invested, not bad considering that a comparable Mountie is currently listed for $495, and a new Model 39A is about $400. I'll finally get the chance to play cowboy! If anyone needs me I'll be waiting by the mailbox.
Ps. I may be a bit nuts, but at least I'm not alone. I note that John Taffin's first gun was a Marlin Mountie.