Friday, April 30, 2004- - -
How's this for a straw poll?
NY Post -- John Kerry's appearance on "Meet the Press" took a bite out of the show's typically stellar ratings - and drew half the audience that President Bush did on the program last February.
The BLM has a problem: The grasslands are being overgrazed. Essential habitat for sometimes rare species is being damaged and destroyed. They want to remove more 'wild' (they're actually feral) horses from that range. Unfortunately, under current law, they must either adopt these horses out, or hold them in pens until they die of natural causes. Needless to say, adopting an old, diseased, un-trainable horse can be very difficult, while feeding them for years is expensive.
Meanwhile, environmental groups insist that domestic livestock be removed from the range instead, essentially asking that the economically beneficial livestock give way to another equally non-native and equally destructive species, the horse, which has no economic benefit other than perhaps attracting a few tourists. These environmental groups don't say what they propose to do when the 'wild' horses expand their populations in response to increased forage availability from the removal of livestock.
Now we used to know how to deal with problems like this, and it didn't involve paying much attention to the wishes of city slickers who have no basis for their demands other than horses = cute, cows = bad.
Thursday, April 29, 2004- - -
Sorry, I've got a lunch date
Which is more important, national security, or a lunch date with Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin? According to the InstaPundit, the answer for some members of the 9/11 Commission is not one I'd have liked to hear.
It was a closed meeting with no chance to do any political grandstanding, so why stick around, eh? And somehow I get the impression that the rest of our "leadership" take national security just about this seriously.
Ps. The New York Post calls this a "stunning snub." They also point out that "A recent Fox News poll showed that the commission is seen as a partisan joke by 56 percent of Americans."
Interesting that this little incident was buried in the very last paragraph of the WaPo story on the meeting. Naturally, the NY Times mentions only "… the session ended only when the panel signaled that it had run out of questions and after two commissioners had left because of other appointments …"
Wok your dog, mister?
I'm not sure I see the humor in this, I've done the same thing myself.
Doing the sKerry
Senator Kerry says of the Bush administration: "... they have no record to run on ..." Judging from this WaPo OpEd, it would appear that the good Senator feels he has a record to run from:
That's why the Kerry campaign's response to Mr. Cheney's speech this week was so inadequate. In his address in Fulton, Mo., Mr. Cheney was unsparing in his criticism of Mr. Kerry, but his line of attack had nothing to do with Vietnam. Rather, Mr. Cheney questioned Mr. Kerry's record on defense and foreign policy, asserting that he "has given us ample grounds to doubt the judgment and the attitude he brings to bear on vital issues of national security." Some of his points were unfair; for instance, Mr. Kerry's proposed cuts in the intelligence budget a decade ago aren't evidence, as Mr. Cheney would have it, of a "deeply irresponsible" attitude toward funding the war on terrorism. But the vice president's recitation of what he termed Mr. Kerry's "inconsistencies and changing rationales" on Iraq, from the Persian Gulf War to the present, gets to the heart of what this campaign needs to be about: America's place in the world, the right and wrong times to use force and similar weighty questions. Recalling Mr. Cheney's multiple draft deferments isn't a rebuttal; both campaigns need to engage on the merits.
Kerry reminds me of the old joke:
"Do you know how many Vietnam veterans it takes to screw in a light bulb?"
"No? Because YOU WEREN"T THERE, MAN!"
There's a sad undertone to this: Some veterans returned from Vietnam bearing emotional scars that haven't healed to this day, and some still view the world through that emotional lens, as the joke aptly illustrates. It is a bit scary when a candidate for President of the US responds to every question and issue "How dare you question me? YOU WEREN"T THERE, MAN!" I'm beginning to think he's more of a candidate for pity than for president.
Ps. Steve Den Beste echoes my observation of the standard Kerry response, in a few more words, of course:
"By the same token, if Kerry's campaign can somehow convince people that someone who actually served in combat is somehow different than someone who did not, then he hopes to avoid dealing with his voting record on defense and national security, for instance. If the Bush campaign runs ads asking why Kerry voted against a supplemental appropriation to fund operations in Iraq, he hopes to respond, "I served in combat and Bush did not. Who is he to even ask questions like that about me?"
It's a Crime!
UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution Wednesday that will compel governments to make it a crime to transfer nuclear, biological and chemical weapon materials to terrorists and black-market arms dealers.
Yessiree! That'll have 'em shaking in their boots. The very idea of having a UN resolution passed against them should shape them up in no time.
Wednesday, April 28, 2004- - -
Poetry Wednesday has been a sometime thing of late, so I thought I'd drag out one of my all time favorites:
The Ballad of the Ice-Worm Cocktail. Enjoy!
Ps. Well, this makes it official! It's poetry day over at Asymmetrical Information too.
PPs. In case you just can't get enough, here's another from Robert Service:
The Ballad of Blasphemous Bill.
None of that sissy, flowery stuff here!
According to StrategyPage. The Army and Marine sniper schools have changed a lot since I attended them (they were called "marksmanship schools" back then, an odd foray into euphemism), but I'm glad to see the doctrine is taking hold. I'm particularly amazed by the number of sharpshooters now employed: Three dozen to each brigade!
A study in the obtuse
The DenverPost editors seem to miss the central point of the Kerry medal-toss brouhaha. It's not what he did, or did not do 35 years ago, it's the fact that he appears to be lying about it now. All Kerry had to say was 'Hey, I was 21. Didn't you do anything dumb when you were 21?' But instead he has dissembled with great vigor and imagination. But then, Democrats don't lie, they're just "inconsistent."
Tuesday, April 27, 2004- - -
Expecting a visit?
The InstaPundit wonders where Syria got the WMDs they appear to be shipping to Khartoum. I'm wondering why they'd ship them out of Syria. Perhaps they expect a visit from the Marines?
If true, this certainly shows what a shell game can be played with small bits of nasty stuff. Considering some of the military technology that's at large, the analogy to Pandora's Box comes to mind. Certainly I think that draining the Middle Eastern swamp is a good idea, but even if we succeed in winning the hearts and minds of 99.99% of the population, we're still in a lot of trouble if the other 0.01% get their hands on nukes, or virulent biological agents.
Howard Kurtz has a roundup of news coverage of the John Kerry medal-toss. My favorite is this excerpt from the Boston Globe:
"Kerry angrily accused ABC News and the Republican National Committee of creating 'a phony controversy' by portraying him as both unpatriotic for throwing away US medals and inconsistent because his details of the event have changed over time."
When Kerry says he 'gave back' his medals, and then says he didn't, and then says they were someone else's (!), he's not lying, he's just inconsistent. Still, this is a pretty feeble bit of spin, in an otherwise fairly damning article by the Boston Globe. It would seem that Howard Kurtz' observation that reporters aren't particularly fond of Kerry rings true.
Unfortunately, the articles Kurtz rounds up all seem to focus on the medal-toss itself as a controversial act that happened long ago, rather than focusing on the lying about it that would appear to continue to this day, which raises a more basic question about Kerry's integrity, not just then, but now.
Monday, April 26, 2004- - -
By now I'm sure everyone who's interested has read the transcript of the John Kerry interview by Charlie Gibson that was posted by Drudge and linked by the InstaPundit. But just in case you missed it, here's a little tidbit I picked up:
In the next to last paragraph of the transcript Kerry whines about the Republicans dredging up something from 35 years ago: " … what the republicans are trying to do is make this into an issue because they have no record to run on and they can't go out and talk about jobs or health care or environment. they are going to attack 35 years ago. …"
But simultaneously he raises the old 'did Bush show up for duty' issue, not once, not twice, but three times in one short interview. So it's unfair to pick on Senator Kerry for something he did 35 years ago, but perfectly fair to hammer on Bush for something he supposedly did just as long ago? Liberal logic at its finest. Or perhaps the second finest example, as you can't get much better than claiming that pointing out Senator Kerry's voting record is accusing him of being unpatriotic.
Gee, maybe they're just not fooling anyone ...
Via the InstaPundit, Mickey Kaus wonders: "Which is creepier--the possibility that the Times prints only pro-Kerry letters, or the possibility that it receives only pro-Kerry letters?"
Actually, I don't think it's particularly creepy, or surprising, that the NY Times only prints pro-Kerry letters. It is utterly biased, but that's what we've come to expect. I would be a little surprised if they only receive pro-Kerry letters. While I'm sure most of their correspondents are perceptive enough to realize that pro-Bush letters are very unlikely to be published, I would think that among their vast readership there would be some quixotic individuals who write letters they know won't be published, just because it confirms their impressions of the NY Times biases.
Statue "Bertuzzi-ed" in Calgary
Like a certain Mr. Fisk, I suspect that Bertuzzi's name will be immortalized long after he himself is deservedly forgotten.
A very sophisticated Coyote
In response to my post on the new Long Range Advanced Surveillance Systems (LRAS3) package about to be fielded by the US, Capt. J.M. Heinrichs sends a couple (1, 2) of very interesting links to the Coyote, Canada's armored reconnaissance vehicle. It seems they've already got a system very comparable to the LRAS3, and go it one better in mounting the sensors on a 10-meter-tall telescoping mast. I'd wondered what that mast was all about, and I can certainly see where it would be very handy.
Says the good Captain:
I wonder where the idea originated???
Although the LRAS3 does have the means to relay images to others, a capability which was absent on the Coyote originally and possibly not yet rectified. I chatted with one of the staffers on the project in 1992 or so, and he was dismissive of the need: cost and technical issues. While I agreed on both, I wanted to know if the capability could be inserted when cost and technology allowed. Evidently the staff were not interested as their projections indicated that it would be years before such could happen. So Coyote didn't get digital links to higher, now it probably is a primary spec for Coyote Mark II.
And it is a comfortable fence we straddle, according to our political 'leaders'.
Where did the idea originate?
At the Armor Engineer Board of course! We futzed around with various radars, thermal sights, laser rangefinders, GPS position finders, video cams, etc. way back when all of it was pie in the sky. Actually, I suppose there really is no good idea that can be attributed to a single source. I'm very impressed with those links to the Coyote, I had no idea it was quite that sophisticated.
I do hope that the designers of all this super electronic gadgetry have given due consideration to the fact that it must be maintained by tankers ("gimme a sledge hammer, this thing ain't workin'").
Sunday, April 25, 2004- - -
Size does matter!
Hey, ten billion spam emails couldn't all be wrong, could they? Except that in this case too big isn't good either. I'm talking about cast bullets of course. I'd loaded up a dozen rounds each of Mt. Baldy's 250 gr Keith, and three batches of my own cast bullets, all dropped from a Lyman #429421 Keith mold and lubed with LBT blue soft. I'd resized Mt. Baldy's 0.430" bullets and all of mine to 0.429" in a Lee push-through die, to match the 0.4290" cylinder throat and 0.4286" groove diameter of the Baby Beast, my .44 Mountain Gun. My bullets were cast of air-cooled wheel weights, water drop-hardened wheel weights, and Midway's Hardball alloy, also air-cooled. All were loaded over 9.5 gr of fresh Alliant Unique, in new Winchester cases, with CCI #300 Large Pistol primers.
Trying to beat the wind, I went to the range this morning for sunrise services. Had to scrape the windshield for hopefully the last time, and plunking my butt on the cold, frosty ground didn't appeal, so I did all my shooting off a 2x12" plank extended a couple feet off the tailgate of the pickup, resting my wrists on a sandbag and seated on an up-turned pickle bucket. I'm sure that resting the butt and frame of the gun solidly on sandbags would produce better groups, but I figure that in the field I'll be shooting either from Keith's old reclining position, leaning back on one elbow and resting my wrist on the outside of my knee; from a back-supported sitting position clenching my wrists between my knees (the position I've done most of my shooting from of late); resting my wrists over a rock or tree limb, which I simulated today; or, as a worst case, sitting and resting my wrists over my up-raised knee (I'll get to that). I'm not so interested in how well the gun will shoot as in how well I can shoot the gun, and I want to know just how far I dare take a shot at a game animal, so I've been concentrating on positions resembling those I would use hunting.
I shot two six-round groups at 25 yards with each of the four bullets I've described above. Now usually I can be counted on to throw one out of every six-round group, but I was having one of those days and threw two out of six several times (Aarrrghhh!!), so I'll report the best four just to make myself feel better. In each case, those best four did fall right on the sights, and show that the Beast really wants to shoot, and a lot better than I can hold it. Here are the results:
- - - - Best - Best
- Six - Five - Four -- Bullet
2.12" 1.91" 1.18" -- Mt. Baldy 250 gr Keith
2.76" 2.14" 1.93" -- " " " "
2.52" 2.14" 0.79" -- Midway Hardball Alloy, weighed 243.7-243.8 gr
4.00" 2.38" 1.42" -- " " " "
5.10" 2.80" 2.38" -- water-hardened ww, weighed 249.8-250.2 gr
-- ? - 2.79" 2.25" -- " " " "
4.13" 2.61" 1.83" -- air-cooled ww, weighed 250.0-250.2 gr
3.65" 2.80" 2.30" -- " " " "
Yes, I managed to pull one clean off the blessed target, which means it went at least 3" below my point of aim. I didn't shoot the groups in the order they're presented. Rather, I alternated between the Mt. Baldy's, Midway Hardball alloy, and water-hardened wheel weights until I'd shot the first six groups, and then shot the last two groups with the air-cooled wheel weights. I'd noted in past shooting sessions that my first two groups had been the largest, either because it takes me that long to remember how to do it, or possibly because the gun shot better with a fouled bore. I saved the air-cooled wheel weights until last, as I expected they would give the worst lead fouling, being softest.
I was wrong. I inspected the bore after each six-shot group. After the first group, shot with Mt. Baldy's, there was a bit of lead fouling and the next five groups didn't add noticeably to that initial bit of leading. Then I fired the first group with air-cooled wheel weights and looked down the bore to find most of the fouling from the previous groups gone! The last group, again with air-cooled wheel weights, pretty much removed the rest of the fouling leaving only a tiny bit of fouling along the leading edge of the rifling lands. Go figure.
Mt. Baldy doesn't make any claims about the hardness of their bullets and I don't have a Brinell hardness tester (another $100 gadget I'll buy someday). Midway says their hardball alloy is about BHN 16. Veral Smith's little book says water drop-hardened wheel weights should be between BHN 20-35 (quite a range), and that air-cooled wheel weights aged at least two weeks, as mine were, should be around BHN 12. I've read somewhere that Elmer Keith preferred an alloy that was about BHN 11, close to that of my air-cooled wheel weights. From this little bit of experimenting it might just be that the old bird was right, at least when shooting bullets of his design in revolvers and pushing them around 1000 fps.
I'll declare the accuracy results inconclusive (do overs!!) as far as which bullet is best, but that little 0.79" four-shot cluster with Midway's Hardball alloy certainly is appealing. I felt like I wasn't as steady as I would have been in a back-supported sitting position with the gun held tight between my knees, so I think I'll go back to that position for continued testing. All things considered though, I'm going to look real hard at air-cooled wheel weights. They're cheapest, easiest to cast, and the cleanest shooting to boot.
Clean-up was a snap. Alternating a patch wet with Hoppe's No. 9, a dozen passes with a nylon bristle brush, and a dry patch, four times around, left the barrel shiny clean. (Yeah, yeah, I know Veral Smith recommends not cleaning the barrel when you use his bullet lube, but I find I'm psychologically incapable of that.) I also notice that there was virtually no leading in the barrel/cylinder gap. There was a black ring of carbon around the front of each chamber, but none of the lead smearing I'd experienced in past shooting sessions. I can only attribute that to properly sized bullets. Also, while I shot some atrocious groups, I didn't notice that the first two groups were appreciably larger than the others. I'm afraid I'll have to claim full responsibility for the bad shooting this time.
One source of inaccuracy I may have is that the Hornady neck-expanding die I've been using opens the inside of the case to about 0.429" and bullets sized 0.429" could be seated with finger pressure alone. I think with the next batch I'll go to my RCBS neck-expanding die that only opens the cases to 0.425", which should give a harder and hopefully more consistent 'bullet pull'. At the least then I won't be relying entirely on the crimp to hold the bullet while pressure builds.
Out of curiosity, I gave a sample bullet of each type the 'hammer test', which simulates ... putting the bullet on an anvil and whacking it with a claw hammer. All stood up well, with none shattering or flattening excessively, although I note that they can be hard to find if you don't hit them square! At least I should have no fear of any of these bullets shattering on a big shoulder bone, or mushrooming to excess and failing to penetrate.
Ps. Another argument for air-cooled cast bullets, as opposed to those that are heat-tempered: The heat-tempering only lasts a couple of years at most, and the bullets steadily soften. Any loads cooked up hot with heat-tempered slugs should probably be shot fairly quickly, or the effort of tempering will be lost. I've got loads I put together 10 years ago that I still shoot when the occasion arises, so I'm not that enamored of working up a load where some component will change with time. As much as I enjoy piddling around with reloading, I enjoy hunting and tramping in the hills more, and I'd rather not be forced to work up fresh loads every few months.
On the other hand, I suppose it could be argued that casting and loading enough bullets for a single hunting trip isn't that time-consuming, and practice does make perfect -- shooting the leftovers is good practice. My problem though is an inability to plan much ahead. Being self-employed, I have 50 bosses, any of whom may call at any time. Thus, most of my hunting trips are impromptu, last-minute affairs.
Says Ed Quillen of the DenverPost: "Eliminate the minimum drinking age, and kids could learn all about alcohol long before they turned 16 and got their driver's license. Booze wouldn't seem like some glamorous adult activity."
We all know that any attempt to remove any law from the books inevitably leads to sex with dogs in the middle of Main Street, but judging from the police and court reports around here, it would also leave the cops and courts with an awful lot of time on their hands.
There's got to be more to this story
MONTREAL -- A bullet-proof vest prevented a man from suffering serious injury during a shooting after a 50 Cent concert. The life of a man in his 20s wasn't in danger because of the vest.
Body armor. It's all the vogue at concerts these days.
Saturday, April 24, 2004- - -
Another one from Trudeaupia, a speech by John Kekes, given at the North American Philosophy of Education Society meetings in Toronto, this March. Kekes rails against the subordination of teaching and research, truth and reason, to political ideals, and makes several very good points.
In a perverse way though, I think that the excess of political correctness on America's campuses serves a good purpose. College students are at the age where they reflexively rebel against us oldsters and our orthodoxy, whatever that might be at any given time. Therefore, the more that our college professors try to indoctrinate their students with their politically correct nonsense, the more politically incorrect their students are likely to become. It's an inadvertent form of reverse psychology that appears to be having a salubrious effect on the young folk I know.
For those who want apologies
Capt. J.M. Heinrichs points to a very interesting post at Trudeaupia: Confessions of a hawk. I'll admit that I too am a little surprised by some of our difficulties in Iraq, but as an anthropologist I shouldn't be.
It has long been noted that most people will very quickly adopt new technologies -- those such as the Amish are very much an exception to the rule. We see New Guinea highlanders who were headhunters 25 years ago embracing the television and VCR, and the Toyota pickup truck. However, cultures tend to give up their native languages more slowly, and most cling to their religion and mythology most tightly.
Thus, it is a mistake to think that because people wear western cloths and watch television, that they will think and behave as we in the west do. Outward appearance is a thin veneer on feudal cultures that have developed over thousands of years in the Middle East. It's easy to dress them up, but it will be awhile before we can take them anywhere.
I bet it would be great for finding elk!
This is way cool! StrategyPage has an article on the new Long Range Advanced Surveillance Systems (LRAS3) that should be deployed in the next year or so. The LRAS3 includes a thermal sight, a GPS laser range finder system that calculates range and position of items being observed, and a video cam. The visual sensors have high magnification, allowing distant objects to be identified. The picture indicates that it's a big box, usually mounted on a Hummer.
Contribute all you want! The Chinese do.
Capt. J.M. Heinrichs forwards a link to the "FundRace 2004" map, graphically showing the money that's been donated to the Dems and Repubs across the country in the now infamous red/blue colors. Observes the good Captain: "Note that Canadians remain fencesitters." Ookaaayyy.
Friday, April 23, 2004- - -
Oh bite me!
It's always nice to be called an unethical bastard by a state senator on the front page of the Casper Star Tribune. Says Sen. Mike Massie, D-Laramie, a historian who was associated with the State Historic Preservation Office for 20 years: "I think SHPO employees have tried to work with industry but are under continual pressure to just look the other way."
I represent the interests of industry. They pay my bills. My archaeologist and historian friends in the various federal agencies represent the interests of their agencies and the federal government. The SHPO is supposed to represent the interests of the state and people of Wyoming. It's a system of checks and balances designed to insure that everyone's interests are taken into account. At the same time, we private consultants, federal archaeologists, and SHPO are all professionals who subscribe to a code of standards and ethics that is supposed to supercede our crass pursuit of a paycheck. One of my federal friends is extremely indignant over this article. Says he: "I've never asked them to look the other way on anything!" Neither have I. On the contrary, we're usually begging the SHPO to come out and see for themselves what's going on.
Is the SHPO under pressure? You bet they are. The energy industry is a high pressure business and we're all under pressure. The people who work for the various energy companies are under pressure too. If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen, but don't whine about being under pressure, it's part of the job.
And that leads to this 30 day review period that everyone grumbles about. By regulation the SHPO does indeed have 30 days to comment, but that is a maximum time, not some sort of cooling-off period. If they do not respond in 30 days to a request for their comment, it is presumed that they accede to the agreement I and my private consultant compatriots have arranged between industry and the federal land managers. But there's nothing in the regulation that says they must take the full 30 days. Sometimes there's no rush and they could take their sweet time. Other times, a bunch of people are going to be laid off if a project isn't pushed through expeditiously. It's that inflexible 'we've got thirty days' mentality that must be done away with. Yes, the law is the law, but sometimes the law enforcers are asses.
Ps. There's more news today: The BLM will be placing an 'historic preservation liaison' in the State Historic Preservation Office. According to Governor Freudenthal: Instead of allowing disagreements between qualified professionals to extend over months, the idea is to have someone there to get a problem solved more quickly. Now there's a job I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.
In my experience, only very rarely does the SHPO flatly disagree with the findings and recommendations of the field archaeologist and federal reviewer. They occasionally have questions or request additional information or clarification, as does the federal agency, but in most cases their review is mostly an editorial exercise -- and it's a useful one.
The real problem isn't that they disagree, it's how bloody slow they are to agree. The problem is exacerbated by the ever more baroque paperwork and review procedures they devise. The forms and records they require are extremely complex, thus difficult and time-consuming for me to complete accurately. They are equally difficult for the federal and state archaeologists and historians to review. The SHPO people say they're not being deliberately obstructionist, and I can't read their minds so I don't know what their intent is, but at the very least they've never heard of the KISS principle, although they are living advertisements for its application.
That's a lot of torsk
Northern Pike have disappeared from Watson Lake, near Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. No one knows what happened to them.
A delightful sense of humor too
Via the CalgarySun, Calgary Choral is presenting a selection of music from well known Canadian singers and song writers -- Music in the Key of Eh! It's this Saturday at 8 pm. Luckily, the Calgary v. Vancouver game is a 1 pm.
Ending every sentence with 'eh?' is a delightful mannerism that gives you away as either Canadian, or a denizen of the 'backwoods' of North Dakota, Minnesota, or Wisconsin. I suspect that we from those backwoods picked this up from our trips to the Big Cities, Regina and Winnipeg, in my case.
Thursday, April 22, 2004- - -
It wasn't me!
Capt. J.M. Heinrichs wants to know if these guys were friends of mine. It does sound remarkably familiar …
A similar story from way back when. I was assigned to Range Control at Ft. Drum NY, managing range repairs and, as Post Safety Officer, running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to keep the various National Guard and Army Reserve units from killing themselves or each other. I got a call one day from the Air Force tower -- the AF ran an A-10 gunnery range at Drum -- saying they had someone pitching camp at the end of one of their firing ranges, and could we please hustle them out of there, as they had a flight of A-10s in-route to do some shooting.
I jumped in my jeep and drove out to their range, noting the signs along the way: "Warning, approaching impact area, no unauthorized personnel beyond this point." "Warning! Entering Impact Area!" and finally "STOP! IMPACT AREA! NO ADMITTANCE!" Each on a larger sign in larger and finally bright red print. I also noted fresh tracks of several vehicles proceeding up the road past the signs. Shortly beyond, I found my miscreants, a field hospital unit from NYC, commanded by a LTC who informed me that he could read a map and knew where he was, and didn't appreciate our using bogus impact area signs to add confusion to their field training. He refused to believe that he was in the impact area until I called the Air Force tower and had them make a dry run with their A-10s directly over the camp. Later, I checked the training area assignments and found that the folks 'who could read a map' were not just slightly miss-located, but nearly 30 miles from where they were supposed to be. Sigh.
What's for dinner, Mr. Donner?
A friend has a new book out! Donner Party Cookbook: A Guide to Survival on the Hastings Cutoff. Yes, it actually has recipes.
Oil for food: "Behind closed doors, however, many U.N. diplomats continue to view the investigation as an effort by the Pentagon, and Iraqi opponents to Saddam's regime, to settle scores with Iraq's former trading partners (most of whom opposed the war and are making little effort to help rebuild Iraq today). They wonder why the kickbacks suddenly became a scandal in 2004 when everybody knew about them all along."
Everyone on earth except the US seems to have known about this dirty deal. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?
Ps. Every time I read about the UN oil for food scam, I can't help but be reminded that John Kerry wants to get the UN more involved in Iraq.
Mulch ado about nothing?
Wanda Baucus, wife of Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., has been ordered to stay away from Johnson's Garden Center in Washington, D.C., after being charged with assaulting another woman after a Tuesday night dispute over mulch.
Wednesday, April 21, 2004- - -
Another sign of progress
WASHINGTON - Egypt's president says Arabs hold a "hatred never equaled" toward America.
“A controversy has arisen about this: whether it is better to be loved than feared, or vice versa. My view is that it is desirable to be both loved and feared; but it is difficult to achieve both and, if one of them has to be lacking, it is much safer to be feared than loved.”
-- Machiavelli The Prince
I suspect that this is a hatred born of fear. I should think that would be a good thing at this stage in the Game of Princes. The more Arab governments fear us, the more likely they are to make sure none of their subjects piss us off.
Ps. Of course, they have every reason to hate and fear us, we're rocking their comfy little boats.
'Trailer Park Modern'
A collection of more than 350 velvet paintings will go on display at Calgary's Heritage Park on May 1st. It's supposedly one of the world's largest collections of such. I bet 'Elvis' and 'Nude Women' will be the two largest categories.
Oh ye of little faith!
Today's CalgarySun totally unscientific on-line poll asks: "Do you think the Flames will beat the Detroit Red Wings in this round of the Stanley Cup playoffs?" Only 60% say 'Yes'.
On the other hand, 100% of Avalanche fans hope the Flames beat Detroit.
Can you tell the difference between a grizzly and a black bear? The Wyoming Game & Fish Department has an on-line test they'd like you to take. I scored 87%, missing question #2 and #15.
The Game & Fish is considering making this test mandatory for bear hunters, but it's excellent info for anyone who strays into the woods. Click on the picture of the bears at the bottom of the page to start. Good luck!
Ps. It wouldn't do you much good to be able to tell the difference if you don't know what to do when you encounter a bruin. Here's the Be Bear Aware website. It's spring and the bears are coming out of hibernation. 'Hungry as a bear' isn't just a euphemism.
Tuesday, April 20, 2004- - -
What the hell?
Via the Command Post comes this BBC report that Italian police have intercepted a shipment of "7,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles" being shipped to the US. The shipment is supposedly worth $7.15 million bucks. That would keep a lot of gang bangers in business for a long while.
I am a bit suspicious of the report, as the stated value would be $1021 per rifle, perhaps what you might get for one from said gangsters, but wouldn't even they get a volume discount?
Ps. More from the NY Post. The count has gone up to 7500 weapons and they were supposedly in route to Century International Arms' warehouse in Fairfax, Vt. "Investigators are uncertain how the weapons got into the ship's containers and whether they were part of the Century shipment or put there without the company's knowledge."
An opportunistic non sequitur from one of the usual suspects: "The startling seizure prompted Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Nassau) to call for a renewal of the 1994 federal ban on assault weapons, which is slated to expire Sept. 13." As if the federal ban on 'assault weapons', which is still in effect, would have stopped this illegal shipment.
PPs. The Feces Flinging Monkey writes:
I've been watching this story develop, and listening to some informed speculation. I'm pretty sure it's nothing.
The press reports are sketchy, but the weapons in question appear to be AKs that have been "altered" to render them semi-auto only. Presumably, this alteration was not done to US specs, otherwise there would be no problem importing these guns.
Century is a large, legit arms importer, and there are at least two innocent explanations for what we are seeing:
1) Guns that are not suitable for sale in the US may still be imported (with proper permits) so that they may be cut up for parts. Century does this all the time.
2) They might be imported so that they can be correctly modified to semi-auto configuration to conform with US specs. Again, Century does a lot of this.
It sounds to me like some paperwork was not correctly processed, and the customs people got surprised by what they saw.
I suspect that's probably right. It does seem like a hell of a bunch of automatic weapons. I can't imagine even the folks who supply the gang bangers being that irresponsible, after all, their customers would kill each other off!
Anton Sherwood writes:
The fuzz like to quote the highest possible retail price for the dope they seize, so why should guns be different?
Yes, I rather suspect that is the case. Who knows? My suspicions were soothed somewhat when I heard they weren't in-route to Idaho or Montana.
PPPs. It also occurs to me that Century might be simply jumping the gun (so to speak) and rounding up a supply of semi-auto AKs in preparation for the lifting of the ban in September.
Heheh. It appears that I'm not the only one who sees some value in a big, slow, heavy bullet. StrategyPage has a brief article on the "mini-50" .50 caliber (12.7mm) round and the modified M16 that fires it. This got me looking, and I found a much more detailed article on the Airborne Combat Engineer's blog. It throws a slug weighing between 280 and 385 gr at velocities up to 2200 fps (presumably with the lighter weight bullets) and it looks like the wee beasty would pack a heck of a wallop. I do have to wonder about StrategyPage's assertion that a 30 round M-16 mag will hold 12 mini-50 rounds, if only because the standard magazine is designed to feed a double stack of 5.56mm cartridges, rather than a single stack of 12.7mm rounds. I've got to think the magazine would require some modification of the feed lips.
Kerry against bull market!
Okay, that's not precisely true, but it's not far off what the headline would be if a Republican were arguing against allowing Canadian beef into the US.
Skydiving isn't dangerous …
It's that sudden stop at the bottom. [snort] You know we're getting a bit too litigious when someone complains because they weren't warned that skydiving could be hazardous. These folks sound like prime candidates for a Darwin Award. Or a quick swat with a clue bat.
Better get Microsoft!
I notice that Blogger hasn't gone on daylight savings time (I didn't really make the post below at 2:49 am, it was 3:49). I didn't realize they even made a computer anymore that doesn't automatically reset its clock in spring and fall.
Let's make a movie!
"Thicker Than Water" sounds like an interesting movie, although the premise is a bit odd:
The story line involves an old family ranch in northeastern Wyoming that lacks one thing.
"You have a rich rancher that has everything but good water rights and he tries to get ahold of another ranch," says Bill Dahlin, the Sheridan, Wyo., businessman who is bankrolling and producing the first Western movie to be shot in Wyoming in many years.
So how did this guy become a rich rancher without good water rights? Of course, there are plenty of rich ranchers who didn't become rich from ranching, but the 'old family ranch' bit suggests that he's not a proctologist from California. I'll be curious to see how they handle that bit. Oil wells would be the obvious answer.
Sunday, April 18, 2004- - -
Okay, one little tax rant
Via Castle Argghhh!!! comes this short article in the NationalReviewOnline, outlining where our taxes go. The pain is still too recent and intense, and I won't get into a general rant on taxes, but I must note that the IRS surely has the least people skills of any government agency.
As an example, take the "Self Employment Tax," Schedule SE. It's actually the same social security tax that everyone pays, except of course that the employer matches each employee's contribution, so the employee doesn't even see half of it being withheld from their check. It's money the employer could have paid the employee that's instead diverted into overhead cost to the employer. Crafty. Being self-employed, I pay the whole works, the usually withheld part and the overhead part, which makes it particularly painful, but it's really no more or less than anyone else pays, at least indirectly. Surely though, only someone terminally uncaring for public perception would call it a 'self employment tax' and make it sound as if it singled out the self-employed.
Now that's plinking!
Dale at Mostly Cajun tells the tale of almost too much ammo on a tank range at Ft. Knox. Of course, what led me to the story was that nifty picture of the M60A3 in silhouette at Castle Argghhh!!! (No! I was not a tanker, I was a cavalryman made a tanker under protest! But it was still a hell of a lot of fun.)
I should think they'd make poor donors
Scott Wickstein at Samizdata reports on a South Australian sperm donor registry run by, and for, lesbian couples.
Another Nattering Nabob of Negativism
That old barking moonbat Paul Krugman proves his own point at least as far as the return of Nixonian politics. [Via Jeff Goldstein]
The prodigal returns!
I'm glad to see Jeff Goldstein back and it looks like he's been saving a massive load of spleen!
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
WaPo -- "We as a government are not optimally configured to deal with the terrorist threat," said John O. Brennan, the head of the Terrorist Threat Information Center, a new entity that's supposed to coordinate intelligence about terrorism.
I suspect 'not optimally configured' is a nice way of saying we're not nearly totalitarian enough.
Need I mention:
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
-- Benjamin Franklin
Isn't 'Indian Trust' an oxymoron? It probably should be.
According to this DenverPost OpEd, there's been some movement in Cobell v. Norton. As they note, the problems with federal management of Indian assets aren't just historic, they're on-going.
Knives in School
Ed Quillen of the DenverPost has an interesting article on how times change. Specifically, Boy Scouts used to be encouraged to carry a pocket knife and 'be prepared'. Now kids are expelled for such behavior.
I'd point out that little girls also carried knives. My wife was rummaging through old stuff a few days ago and found her Brownie knife. It's a tiny, single-bladed knife with red plastic handles, made by Kutmaster. On one handle scale it says "Brownie" and on the other it says "Be wise, Beware, Use me with care."
Quillen is absolutely right when he opines that "Useful tools that can be used as weapons aren't the problem - misbehavior is." Of course, being a confirmed lefty worshiper of government regulation he's not particularly consistent in his philosophy, as he can't resist concluding that the legislature should keep the existing law, of which he says "… the relevant part of our state law defines a "dangerous weapon" as "A fixed blade knife with a blade that measures longer than three inches in length or a spring loaded knife or a pocket knife with a blade longer than three and one-half inches."" I guess one person's 'useful tool' is another's 'dangerous weapon', most every knife I have would be considered dangerous under that law. But I haven't stabbed anyone yet.
Heheh. It occurs to me that most butter knives would be considered dangerous weapons under Colorado's law, but a box cutter wouldn't be. Their legislature would appear to be typical: Their reach exceeds their grasp.
Blogger had better cooperate
I'm going to try posting a couple of emails I've received while I was gone, with apologies to my other correspondents who should receive equal time, if I only had the time (reformatting email to post to Blogger is a genuine pain, even when Blogger is working properly, which it's not). To shorten these as much as possible I'll post them without my comments:
Douglas Chandler writes: I am afraid you may be right about that jump from the cylinder to the forcing cone with paper patch bullets. In my old 3rd edition Lyman Cast Bullet Manual, I found an article for loading paper patch .30 caliber bullets for .308, .30-06, and .300 Winchester Magnum. In the article it states
"2. Seat the bullet to bring the patch against the barrel forcing cone." and
"a. Overall cartridge length with bullet in case. The nose of the bullet should touch-even engrave on-the rifling.
"b. Height of paper proper paper wrap up the side of the bullet. The leading edge of the paper patch should just enter the chamber's forcing cone."
I recently purchased a 1911A-1 Springfield WWII Mil-Spec pistol. I've been looking more and more like prey rather than predator as I age. Durn, I just wanted weapon for self-defense, now it seems I've joined a religious cult demanding time and financial sacrifices. Anyway, it has been a learning experience. I knew I needed new glasses, but until I took the pistol to the range and tried to hit something with those itty bitty GI sights, I didn't know how badly I needed the new glasses. I had to go to the range since I had just sent a check to the IRS and really needed some release. What's worse, I went out and spent a minor fortune on new specs and while there was some improvement, that rear sight notch is still so blurry that I am going to have spend money to get after market sights installed. Right now any bad guy further than 10 yards from me is safe, unless I get lucky. I'm going to have to reload to ! be able to get enough shooting time in to become reasonably accurate. Of, course the closest place form me to shoot is an indoor range and no cast lead bullets allowed. Sigh, Rannier plated bullet I guess. Did I mention range fees?? I kinda wish I could get a concealed carry sawed of shotgun license.
I blamed Kim du Toit for all this because of his constant "buy a gun" and "buy some ammo day" rants. He told me to stop sounding like a Democrat and blaming others for my problems and cough up the money for the new sights. That sounding like a Democrat crack really hurt my feelings.
Jim Gwyn writes: I found your posts on cast bullets fascinating. I am rather fond of Lyman's # 429244 which is nominally 0.429" and weighs 245 grains when cast of linotype and their 311291 which is 30 caliber and weighs 169 when cast of linotype.
I have found that Hornady's gas checks don't hold on well but Lyman's do. I use the 429244 bullet in a .44 Ruger Redhawk with good results. This bullet was IIRC, actually designed by the great Keith (bow towards the West in memory...)
The 311291 I use in a 30-06 and a .308 battle rifle. I have worked up a load for the battle rilfe that is so-so for accuracy and reliably cycles the action w/o leading. (I use 50/50 alox/beeswax lube.)
Two tomes I have found useful are:
The Art of Bullet Casting by Dave Wolfe, Wolfe Publishing P.O. Box 30-30 Prescott Arizona. ISBN # 0-935623-08-5. Cast Bullets by Col. E. H. Harrison, NRA Press. ISBN 0-935998-49-7. [Sorry, can't find that one on-line].
Mr. Wolfes' book has seven articles on paper patching bullets. Col. Harrison's tome only has two; one on paper patching and the other on teflon patching. It is a compillation of articles from the American Rifleman dating back to the '50s.
Lyman has a good book on the subject too.
Hey! Blogger seems to be cooperating. I'd better stop whining about it though or I too will sound like a Democrat. Thanks for the letters guys!
As Blogger seems to be behaving, here are my replies:
To Douglas Chandler: The 1911 isn't a religious cult figure, it's much more important than that! ;-) Some of its aficionados do seem to go a bit overboard, don't they?? I don't think you can go far wrong with a 1911, but they do take quite a bit of practice to master.
I can relate to your problem, as my eyes aren't what they used to be either. I wouldn't worry too much about the rear sight being a bit blurry. No matter how big and sharp the sights are they're going to be in different focal planes and the rear sight will always be blurry if you focus hard on the front. One of my biggest problems in doing accurate shooting is breaking myself of the habit of changing my focus from the front sight to the rear and/or to the target. I note a marked increase in my accuracy if I let the rear sight and target blur out and focus hard on that front sight. I've become convinced that the rear sight isn't all that important as long as the front is clear and *square*, and your grip is consistent. I've discovered that I can do pretty well in low light conditions with a tritium front sight and plain black rear, even though I can't see the rear sight at all. Those tiny sights are going to aggravate matters no matter what though. I do highly recommend the tritium front sight and plain rear set-up -- sort of a modern rendition of the old McGivern 'speed bead' -- there's nothing more disconcerting than being in a low-light situation and discovering that you can't see your sights at all. If I recall correctly, McGivern often used guns with no rear sight whatever and he was one of the fastest and most accurate handgunners who ever lived.
And to Jim Gwyn: You couldn't prove this by me, as I haven't cast many bullets that require gas checks, but according to Veral Smith's book "Jacketed Performance with cast bullets," the bullet's shank must be tapered to match the brand of gas check being used. However, I note that elsewhere Smith says all Lyman and RCBS gas checks are now made by Hornady to Hornady's specs.
Doesn't it figure that about the time you find something that works they'd change the design?
I am considering a gas-checked bullet if I can't get the plain base Keith to shoot well, particularly since I'd like to arrive at a load that will also shoot in my .44 carbine. I note that Elmer Keith tried gas checks and generally panned them, while Veral Smith, Ross Seyfried, et al. vehemently disagree. I can't help but think that gas checks would at least help alleviate some of the leading problems that come from pushing cast bullets at rifle velocities.
Of course, there's also considerable disagreement whether the Keith-style or LBT-style bullets of Veral Smith's are best. Obviously, more research is in order!
[Okay, ignoring the strange extraneous question marks that Blogger seems determined to sprinkle through the text, it's working JUST FINE. Grrr.]
Okay, I give up again!
I was going to the range, but the wind came up with the sun. High winds are unusual here in Worland -- the climate here really is one of the best-kept secrets in Wyoming -- but it is spring. Also, 'high winds' in Worland would be considered dead calm most places in Wyo.
So I'm perusing the news (and testing to see if Blogger is working any better). Doctors in Wyoming want caps on medical malpractice awards, while Wyoming attorneys think this would be an awful idea (imagine that). This reminds me of an old joke you've probably heard somewhere before (I'm into recycling):
Two attorneys boarded a flight out of Seattle, one sat in the window seat, the other sat in the middle seat. Just before takeoff, a physician got on and took the aisle seat next to the two attorneys. The physician kicked off his shoes, wiggled his toes and was settling in when the attorney in the window seat said, "I think I'll get up and get a Coke." "No problem," said the physician, "I'll get it for you." While he was gone, one of the attorneys picked up the physician's shoe and spat in it. When the physician returned with the Coke, the other attorney said, "That looks good, I think I'll have one too." Again, the physician obligingly went to fetch it and while he was gone, the other attorney picked up the other shoe and spat in it. The physician returned and they all sat back and enjoyed the flight.
As the plane was landing, the physician slipped his feet into his shoes and knew immediately what had happened. "How long must this go on?" he asked. "This fighting between our professions? This hatred? This animosity? This spitting in shoes and peeing in Cokes?"
Okay, I give up!
I wanted to publish a couple of interesting emails on cast bullets and general gun stuff from Douglas Chandler and Jim Gwyn, but Blogger is going through one of its periodic episodes where it won't post anything more than about three sentences long without great difficulty. I'll try again later if I can find time, but it's time for sunrise services at the rifle range.
But it's still a Hole
Jackson Hole, that is. We returned yesterday afternoon from Jackson, where we attended the spring meeting of the Wyoming Association of Professional Archaeologists -- the sole topic of new business was 'how do we protect our phony baloney jobs' [sigh] -- so we've just had a fresh taste of the wealthiest county in America.
What the article doesn't note is that it's also easily the most ostentatious and pretentious county in America. The place absolutely reeks of nouveau riche. And of course, one of the reasons it makes the list of richest counties is that the cost of living is so high that most of the people who actually work there are forced to live over the border in Idaho and commute. Ah well, the beautiful people have to be somewhere I suppose.
Ps. What I find particularly amusing about 'The wealthiest county in America' as I've noted below: Jackson is the only place in the State of Wyoming where I can't cash a check with proper ID. Businesses all over town have signs that say "Sorry, we don't accept checks from anyone." You don't suppose they hear 'Don't you know who I am?' a lot? Yes, I bet they do.
In case you thought that those signs were for Vice President Dick Cheney and World Bank President James Wolfensohn, named in the article above, this article has a long list of the folks from whom they won't accept checks, among them: Harrison Ford, Sandra Bullock, Columbia Pictures CEO Alan Hirschfield, Patagonia founders Yvon and Malinda Chouinard, former hose monster Bill Clinton, investment banker Max Chapman, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, and former Clinton press secretary Jake Siewert.
I do get a chuckle out of that last linked article. Only someone from a big city somewhere would think that Jackson Hole was a 'gentrified cow town' or part of the 'true West'. Jackson has always been a resort community and hangout for the 'rich and/or famous'. Tom Mix, Alan Ladd, John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Charlton Heston, Wallace Beery, Glenn Ford, Kirk Douglas, and Clint Eastwood have filmed 'mostly forgettable' movies there. Last Friday Richard Petty was supposedly wandering around downtown, and son Kyle is a visitor. So yes, they probably do hear 'Don't you know who I am?' often enough to be tiresome. (And I'd bet the poor folks making minimum wage to wait on their tables would like to answer 'Yes, and that's why I want cash'.)
Saturday, April 17, 2004- - -
StrategyPage has a brief article on the performance of the Stryker LAV in Iraq. It sounds like they're doing quite well. I'm particularly intrigued by the 'battlefield internet' system, which sounds like a tremendous boon to the commander -- it's hard to keep track of your unit when they're going seventeen different directions at top speed.
Friday, April 16, 2004- - -
Further proof that our government is insane
Sage grouse numbers have declined precipitously in the last few years here in Wyoming, with the population declining by 85% according to this article. I can believe that. Neither I nor most of my friends hunt sage grouse anymore. First, they're difficult to find, second, you'd feel bad if you shot one. (And third, they taste awful anyway.) So according to the article, the US Fish & Wildlife Service is considering whether to grant the sage grouse more protection under the Endangered Species Act. At the least the decline of the species ought to be studied to see if there's anything we can do to help them recover.
Meanwhile, the State of Wyoming continues to allow sage grouse hunting, with a general Upland Game license. Granted the season is severely limited -- by Wyoming standards -- but you can still take two grouse per day from September 27th to October 5th. Granted, hunting doesn't seem to be the cause of the grouse' population decline, but under the circumstances you'd think a moratorium on hunting would be in order.
Thursday, April 15, 2004- - -
Spinning like a pair of tops
How very interesting. Over at Air America Radio we have the "O'Franken Factor," billed as a "Zero Spin Zone," a blatantly obvious take-off on the O'Reilly Factor's No Spin Zone (or is it a free speech-protected satire?). Fox would probably sue, but I suspect they know this is one case where, if they ignore them they will go away.
Heheh. Apparently, even if you don't ignore them they go away. Try following this link through the InstaPundit and you get a rather strange 404 message. Elsewhere at the InstantMan's it's reported that they've bounced a check for air time. To bad they didn't do that in Wyoming, where intentionally writing bad checks is a FELONY. Which is why I can write a check anywhere in the state with ID. [Ps. Except in the 'wealthiest county in America' as I've just found out. I find that hilarious!]
Got to love Air America's response when they're kicked off the air for not paying their bills [Also via the InstaPundit]: "MultiCultural Radio Broadcasting's conduct in this matter has been disgraceful. To shut off a broadcast that listeners rely on without warning and in the middle of discussions is the height of irresponsibility and a slap in the face of the media industry. In addition, it is a clear violation of their contractual obligations, and we are seeking legal remedies against them in court."
Hmm … I bet part of the contract involves paying their bills. But what a delightful bit of indignation by the naturally entitled. They truly fill their billing as liberal talk radio. Of course, if they sue their broadcaster in this situation they'll find more just standing in line to sign them up. [smirk]
Hey! You could get a nasty infection from a little scratch!
President Bush released his military medical records, now it's Kerry's turn. I hope you're not holding your breath.
The burnoose tightens
Saddam was ready to negotiate too. Apparently ol' Moqtada is starting to think he might be in a bit of a bind. Such courage in their convictions these guys have.
A shoot-out between rival rap groups?
Shouldn't that fall under the 'good riddance' rules?
Ps. Too bad this freak wasn't caught in the cross-fire.
Schools discover Google!
Kerry wants to have his cake and eat it too
"I have consistently been critical of how we got where we are, but we are where we are, sir, … and it would be unwise beyond belief for the United States of America to leave a failed Iraq in its wake." Says John Forbes 500 Kerry.
At least both Kerry and Osama see the importance of international support, although Kerry thinks we need more and bin Laden apparently thinks we have quite enough already.
Ps. And if you were wondering whether Kerry was a dreamer:
"The exchange over Iraq overshadowed an announcement by Kerry's campaign of an expanded plan for national service that seeks to put 500,000 young Americans in service to the country.
For those who give two full years of service, Kerry would have the federal government pay the cost of four years of in-state college tuition. A campaign fact sheet said Kerry could pay for the plan, whose cost the campaign estimated at $13 billion over 10 years, by ending the guaranteed profit for banks on student loans."
Wouldn't that pretty much end the guaranteed student load programs? Why that shakes my sense of entitlement right to its roots!
Spies in our midst
I'm glad to see I'm not the only one concerned at the prospect of giving the government broad new powers to spy on us. The ACLU warned against such shenanigans last year.
Ps. According to the ACLU: "In its 1947 charter, the CIA was prohibited from spying against Americans because, among other things, President Truman was afraid that it would engage in political abuse."
The CIA says: "By direction of the President in Executive Order 12333 of 1981 and in accordance with procedures issued by the Director of Central Intelligence and approved by the Attorney General, the CIA is restricted in the collection of intelligence information directed against US citizens. Collection is allowed only for an authorized intelligence purpose; for example, if there is a reason to believe that an individual is involved in espionage or international terrorist activities."
Okay. So the CIA is already authorized to conduct domestic spying operations against possible terrorists, at least in their opinion. That certainly makes me wonder what purpose is served by giving them even broader powers.
WaPo OpEd -- "Mr. Bush is surely right that the terrorists and insurgents now kidnapping, bombing and shooting Americans and other foreigners in Iraq want to drive the United States out and that they understand the importance of shaping public opinion here to achieve their aims there. But that's a perpetual and inevitable challenge for a wartime leader in a democracy. His response can't be to question the critics' legitimacy; it has to be to explain why they are wrong. On that score, this administration continues to fall short."
The terrorists aren't the only ones who understand the importance of 'shaping public opinion'. One wonders just what President Bush would have to do to satisfy these guys. Um … well no. We know what he'd have to do -- lose the election. It's such a simple little thing and it's what they really want in their black little hearts. I've a feeling nothing less will satisfy them.
A truce with the evil infidels?
I think I'll take this as an encouraging sign of progress in the WoT.
What? There's no Plan?
No cookbook to tell us how to drag a bunch of 12th Century barbarians kicking and screaming into the 21st Century? Well imagine that. At least these folks are consistent though, they never will admit that the battle in Iraq is an essential step in the WoT. Of course, if they admitted that, even to themselves, they'd be left to wonder if there's a next step, and that idea is too hideous for them to contemplate. Better to just keep their heads … in the sand.
"Dead Wolverine stirs curiosity"
It looks like wolverines are just a bit more rare now. But what the heck was a wolverine doing down by Kemmerererer? Seems like they ought to be up in the high mountains somewhere. But then there's few things I know less about than wolverines.
It's Buy a Gun Day!
I've got mine picked out! I've always got one picked out, but I'll have to squeeze a couple hundred bucks more out of the tax liability to afford it. At the least, I'll try to get to the range this afternoon and work off a little pent-up rage. I'll certainly need it by then.
So go to Aaron's Rantblog and read about everything you can do to celebrate Buy a Gun Day!
In case you wondered where your taxes were going ...
They're paying our law enforcement professionals to shut down evil bingo parlors [link good today only]. I don't know about you, but I feel safer.
Ps. I've been trying to find another link to this story that won't evaporate like the morning dew, but apparently no one else is paying much attention. It's no fun unless they can march away a few old timers in irons, I guess.
Wednesday, April 14, 2004- - -
The little old lady next door came to the door this morning clutching her chest. She's already had one heart attack and she was having chest pains. So she called her doctor, who told her 'don't walk to the hospital, find someone to give you a ride'. Well that someone was me, so I've been playing ambulance this am. (She didn't want to call the ambulance because she'd have to pay for it -- a rant for another time.)
'Find someone to give you a ride!' And they whine about the high cost of malpractice insurance. Forgive me, but I have no sympathy for the SOBs.
Ps. Sigh. And now for the rest of the story, from my wife who's been over at the hospital most of the afternoon:
When our little old lady called the doctor's office she got the receptionist, who told her to call 911 or find someone to give her a ride but not to walk to the hospital. So not calling an ambulance was her choice. It still seems to me that the doctor's office should have dispatched the ambulance and not left that decision to someone who's old and confused and in pain -- and afraid of what it would cost -- but it does make them look somewhat better.
As for the cost of the ambulance, it's a matter of priorities. The ambulance is supported largely by our city and county tax money (undoubtedly with major grants from the state and feds), as is the fire department. Now when some pyromaniac farmer starts burning his fields and the fire gets away from him, he calls the fire department and they come out and put out the fire at no cost to the farmer. Needless to say, the fire department is very busy putting out intentionally set fires. On the other hand, when some oldster on a fixed income needs medical attention and calls the ambulance, they get a bill for the ride, even if it's a legitimate emergency.
If I were a hard core libertarian I'd probably argue that both the farmer and the old timer should pay their own way, but given the situation as it is, rather than as I wish it were, it seems highly unfair to subsidize the yahoos who throw a match in a pile of weeds and then go home for coffee, while the old folks on fixed incomes do pay, at least partially, for the service they get -- to the point of scaring me half to death when they won't call the dang ambulance because it's a choice between getting to the hospital fast and eating next month.
PPs. She'll be fine, acute angina, but at least not another heart attack.
Yeah, I'm stalling, there's taxes to do ...
This morning the InstaPundit links to an article in the Boston Globe about last month's Project for Excellence in Journalism study, The State of the News Media 2004. (The DenverPost reported on the study last month and I mentioned it then).
The study concluded that "The public believes that news organizations are operating largely to make money, and that the journalists who work for these organizations are primarily motivated by professional ambition and self-interest."
What no one mentions is the fact that any news organization that doesn't operate to make money won't be in business for long. Likewise, it shouldn't be shocking that journalists are human like the rest of us, of course self-interest is a powerful motivator.
Given the economic realities and human nature, what can news agencies do about their loss of credibility? The Boston Globe concludes:
And if there is a rough consensus among people concerned about the media's declining public image, it is that the journalism business must do a better job of communicating -- not just news and information but journalism's virtues and values as well.
"We need to work harder to explain what we do and why we do it," says Edward Seaton, publisher and editor in chief of The Manhattan Mercury in Kansas and a former president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors.
Adds Barbara Cochran, president of the Radio-Television News Directors Association: "I think it's a case of the news media not doing the job it might do to make its decisions and process transparent to the public."
Making the process more transparent is certainly a good idea, but I find it difficult to imagine that blowing their own horns about their 'virtues and values' could do anything other than exacerbate the problem. We already know they're full of themselves, will patting themselves on the back more frequently accomplish anything except to make us wretch? For my money, making 'fair and balanced' a motto and a mockery is certainly the least impressive activity at FoxNews. Do we need more news agencies telling us how great they are more often? How about just being up-front about their biases instead of trying to maintain the tired and very tattered facade of objectivity? Perhaps admitting and confronting their biases would even help achieve the ideal of balance.
More excuses to fiddle!
The Fusilier Pundit writes: Enjoyed your post about casting bullets for the Mountain Gun.
Reminds me of some ST and G&A articles about paper patching. Get jacketed-bullet velocities without the fouling. With practice, maybe compensate for any sizing differences by varying patch material and number of turns.
I've been wanting to try it, but my wife keeps getting pregnant. I even bought a book, "The Paper Patch" and haven't more than skimmed it.
Interesting idea, I've never heard of it being done and I'm not sure how paper patching would stand up to the jump from cylinder to forcing cone in a revolver. If the patch folded back on itself the pressures could get *exciting*. It would make some interesting plinking/varmint rounds to paper patch some .452" pistol bullets and shoot them in the .45-70 though, and I've also thought about paper-patching .308 Win rounds. That seems to me the best bet for getting jacketed bullet velocities with a cast bullet. Someday ... (And my wife isn't even pregnant, she's just got this funny thing about paying the bills -- women!)
I did just receive a Lee .429" push-through sizing die and I've loaded a batch of Mt. Baldy 250 gr Keith bullets resized to .429" from .430" over 9.5 gr of Unique. After resizing the slugs form a perfect tight slip-fit in the cylinder throats and should be about .0004" oversized for the groove diameter of the barrel -- pretty much a perfect fit according to all the gun pundits. Veral Smith maintains that this is *the key* to getting the best accuracy from a revolver. We'll see. I'm also interested to see if these loads give any noticeable difference in recoil -- they should reduce pressures somewhat -- and hopefully they'll shoot a bit better from a clean bore. Another situation where I desperately need a chronograph.
In the mean time, I've also received a nice new Lyman #429421 Keith-style bullet mold and cranked up the casting furnace, although I'm still waiting on bullet lube. I've got to admit that I'll need a lot of practice to produce bullets of as high a quality as Mt. Baldy's, although I suspect he's using an alloy with a higher tin content than wheel weights. With wheel weights I'm having trouble getting the base of the bullets to fill out completely, although getting the lead hot enough to frost the bullets a bit and gently tapping on the sprue plate until the sprue hardens helps a lot. My bullets are weighing consistently within 0.2 gr, so they're not that bad. I'm also wondering if an over-powder wad would compensate somewhat for the slightly rounded bases. Something else to fiddle with!
Congrats on the coming addition to the family!
DR. SUESS ON PCS
I'm probably the last person in the world to see this, but it's still funny ...
If a packet hits a pocket on a socket on a port,
and the bus is interrupted as a very last resort,
and the address of the memory makes your floppy disk abort,
then the socket packet pocket has an error to report.
If your cursor finds a menu item followed by a dash,
and the double-clicking icon puts your window in the trash,
and your data is corrupted 'cause the index doesn't hash,
then your situation's hopeless and your system's gonna crash!
If the label on the cable on the table at your house,
says the network is connected to the button on your mouse,
but your packets want to tunnel on another protocol,
that's repeatedly rejected by the printer down the hall,
and your screen is all distorted by the side effects of gauss,
so your icons in the window are as wavy as a souse,
then you may as well reboot and go out with a bang,
'cause as sure as I'm a poet, the sucker's gonna hang!
When the copy of your floppy's getting sloppy on the disk,
and the microcode instructions cause unnecessary risk,
then you have to flash your memory, and you'll want to RAM your ROM.
Quickly turn off the computer and be sure to tell your mom.
-- Gene Ziegler
Tuesday, April 13, 2004- - -
Dangerously close to reality
The Onion -- "In the latest round of political mudslinging, both John Kerry's and George W. Bush's election committees have replaced ads that focus on their opponents' shortcomings with ads that personally insult the voting public."
This would seem more like a spoof if Democrats and Republicans alike hadn't been insulting our intelligence for years.
Watch what they do, not what they say
Washington -- "Draft reports by the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks portray Attorney General John Ashcroft as largely uninterested in counterterrorism issues before Sept. 11 …"
Of course, he's changed his focus since. That's why we see big honking ads advising "Does someone you know have a postage-stamp yard and a ton of fertilizer in the garage? Call 1-800-555- …" Right? You've seen those ads in the newspaper and on TV, haven't you? Um, well no. The feds are still spending their advertising dollars on ads for operations like this one: the "National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign." In fact that ad was imbedded in the article I linked above on Ashcroft at the NYTimes. Now keeping kids off drugs and booze is certainly a worthy cause, but should it be front and center right now? Shouldn't protecting our kids from terrorists take a higher priority?
Apparently not, which is why the other article in today's NYTimes: "Bush Sees Need for Reorganizing U.S. Intelligence" sounds an ominous note to me. Domestic spying in the cause of fighting terror is scary enough, but when our Attorney General shows himself much more interested in pursuing an ultra-socially conservative agenda than in fighting the WoT, I shudder to think to what use he'll put his domestic spies.
Sunday, April 11, 2004- - -
I've used Zwickey's Judo points for field shooting for years. The little spring arms are great for eliminating lost arrows. Early on, I thought that the longer arms of Zwickey's Kondor point might have some use in bird hunting, but the little spring arms aren't stiff enough to deliver an effective blow.
Well, great minds must think alike. Check out the new Gobbler Guillotine!
Few realize just how far back John Kerry and Ted Kennedy go. In fact, they once appeared together in an obscure science fiction movie! Kerry played the swashbuckling hero, while Kennedy made a cameo appearance as himself. Kerry still has the same hair, but it looks like Ted has put on a little weight since then, eh?
Saturday, April 10, 2004- - -
Just what is it good for?
In his Commentaries for this March, Col. Cooper asks: "Does anybody have any use for the three-shot burst? It seems to me that is simply a good way of wasting two shots, but somebody, or some committee got it attached to various handheld weapons. If anyone has a good use for this arrangement, I would like to hear about it."
It occurs to me that the three shot burst mechanism is an attempt at a mechanical solution to a lack of adequate training. It stops the ill-trained from loosing an entire magazine of ammo with a single jerk of the trigger. I will disagree with the Colonel somewhat here: I think it's a good way of wasting three shots. My reasoning: It takes a good deal of training and practice to hit anything with full-automatic fire. If you have the ability to make good hits in full-auto, it's very likely you also have the discipline to fire short, controlled bursts, and a burst mechanism will be an unnecessary impediment. If you don't have the requisite training and ability, then a burst mechanism only insures that, in a panic situation, you'll waste your ammo three shots at a time, rather than by the magazine-full. It certainly doesn't insure that even the first shot of the burst will be effectively aimed.
Small arms training being somewhat lacking for most troops, I suppose that a burst mechanism is desirable from a logistical point of view -- it does save ammo. But that is the only useful purpose it serves as far as I can see, and restricting less trained troops to semi-auto fire would probably be the better solution. Unfortunately, there's also the psychological effect -- how do you tell your troops that under no circumstances will they flip that selector all the way over and let rip?
Now this is interesting
StrategyPage has a brief note on a new thermal sight that only weighs three pounds and is capable of being mounted on a rifle -- sweet! They mention that thermal sights are superior to passive night vision in interior areas, but they don't mention the other great advantage of thermal sights: a human stands out like a light bulb in a dark room in a thermal image (providing the ambient temperature isn't near body temp). Searching room-by-room in built-up areas just got a lot safer for our guys.
The Roman disease
If you've ever thought I might have eaten too many paint chips as a child, well no, I didn't, but you were close. I spent about 20 years shooting the NRA and ISU indoor smallbore rifle course, so not only have I inhaled a lot of lead fumes, I got down and rolled around in lead dust on a near-daily basis for years. I figure I've exceeded my lifetime exposure to heavy metals by a considerable margin.
Thus, while I cast a lot of bullets years ago, I haven't done it in a long while. Aside from the health reasons, I've also not seen much point in it, when I can buy perfectly good bullets from folks like Cast Performance and Mt. Baldy. However, re-reading Veral Smith's Jacketed Performance With Cast Bullets has inspired me to give it another shot. I'm convinced that the little Mountain Gun will shoot much better than it has so far (which has been darn good in some cases), if only I feed it bullets properly sized and of correct hardness. I can certainly resize Mt. Baldy's bullets from 0.430" down to 0.429" to better fit the cylinder throat and barrel, but I can't control the hardness of the bullets without casting them myself. Veral Smith's book gives detailed instructions for mixing various lead alloys, and heat tempering and annealing cast bullets to achieve different degrees of hardness, all of which I find intriguing.
And then there's a little cost differential. With shipping, Mt. Baldy's .44 caliber 250 gr Keith-style bullets cost me about $19.60 per hundred. Even ordering the alloy and paying to ship lead (which sure ain't cheap!) I can cast my own 250 gr Keith bullets for around $5.50 per hundred. If I buy scrap wheel weights for $0.15 per pound, I can get the cost down around $0.75 per hundred. That sounds like a huge savings, but then again, I've not yet fired the first 100 Mt. Baldy bullets down range -- I've used less than $20 worth of bullets in three range sessions. There's also the consideration that the mold, mold handles, melting pot, flux, etc., etc., run a couple hundred bucks to get set up. That's why I really haven't seen any point in casting my own. I've figured that I don't shoot so much that the cost of bullets is killing me, my time is worth something, and I don't really need any more lead in my system.
Balanced against all the reasons not to bother, casting my own slugs will open vast new territories for tinkering though, and that's just irresistible. So... I've fired off orders every which way, for a Lyman #429421 mold, designed by old Elmer Keith, some LBT blue soft lube, a 0.429" bullet sizing die, and various other oddments. That ought to keep me futzing about for ages! Besides, it's too late to worry about a little more lead in my system, isn't it?
I believe the "lousy" part
Our favorite Montana State Trooper emails this tidbit:
Go to Google and type in "weapons of mass destruction" (include the quotes), then hit "I'm feeling lucky." (Or just hit this link).
You should get a screen that appears to be a 404 message at first glance. It isn't. It's actually the rarest of things, a lefty message delivered with a sense of humor. Almost makes me want to buy one of their T-shirts. And they have a point, there is something oddly Strangelovian about Donald Rumsfeld.
Friday, April 09, 2004- - -
"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
-- Benjamin Franklin
The barley planting is done and last night it started to rain, a nice gentle soaker that's still coming down. It was desperately needed and the timing couldn't have been better.
Ps. Whoa Nellie! It was 40°F and drizzling when I got up at 4am. By 9am when I walked to the gym it was 35°, raining hard, and the rain was trying to get chunky. At 10:30 when I left the gym it was 32° and snowing like a motha! It kept coming down hard until about 1pm and put about an inch of sloppy wet stuff on the ground, then it warmed back to 35° and changed back to rain for a brief encore.
I drove out to the Wringneck later in the afternoon and I could almost see those little barley plants growing. The snow won't hurt it a bit. There's a reason they make beer out of barley, it's reliable. Ah! Another year's headaches in the making.
Thursday, April 08, 2004- - -
The multiple personalities of Bill O'Reilly
Back on April 6th he writes: "Unlike Afghanistan, where the majority of people seem to be cooperating with America, the Iraqis lay back, perhaps traumatized by decades of Saddam's oppression.
"Understandable, but not acceptable. If these people won't help us, we need to get out in an orderly manner."
But yesterday he'd found a bit more spine: "America cannot back down from this fight. That would lead to increased terrorism everywhere."
And today he's a veritable war hawk: ""Talking Points" urges the Bush administration to continue hammering the enemy, using full force and determination. At this point, politics and the hearts-and-minds strategy must step aside and allow the military to deal with bad guys."
Bill O'Reilly, fairly unbalanced.
Okay, so I'm in a strange mood today
Here's a fresh Darwin Award nominee. Unfortunately, he only succeeded in half-removing himself from the gene pool, but he's a gutsy contestant.
What's all this about a Grand Kegel in the White House? Didn't Clinton retire?
Oh, wait, that's a Grand Kleagle! Never mind.
The not-so-lonesome cattle call
Over 1100 comments have been received on the issue of re-opening the US border to Canadian beef. I suppose this is democracy in action, but I've got to wonder at the value of public comments on an issue of veterinary science. I can imagine that most of the comments are from folks who're speaking in their own self-interest, which is perfectly fine, but doesn't seem very helpful in this situation.
It's April 1st all over again. Or at least it seems so. I certainly thought I'd never see the day when Rush Limbaugh would argue for letting a criminal off on a legal technicality. Of course, in this case it's Rush's lawyer who's doing the arguing and Limbaugh himself who hopes to get off. At the least one might hope that ol' Rush will look a little differently on the ACLU in the future.
Ps. Then again, why should he look any differently on the ACLU? After all, they're proving his argument about pointy-headed criminal-coddling liberals. Oh, the irony.
Wednesday, April 07, 2004- - -
The plot thickens
Court-appointed investigator of the Individual Indian Trust, Alan Balaran has resigned, accusing the Department of the Interior of routinely allowing energy companies to shortchange Indian royalties from oil, gas, timber, and other leases of their land.
"The department said in a statement on Tuesday that Mr. Balaran "seeks to absolve himself of any responsibility for his actions by concocting preposterous charges of a government conspiracy against him," adding, "Mr. Balaran's theory is based entirely on innuendo, supposition and baseless speculation.""
Three years of investigation and all he has to go on is 'baseless speculation'? Don't they wish.
And for a tiny bit of actual blog reportage: I was told yesterday by DOI employees to expect their computers to go down again shortly.
Monday, April 05, 2004- - -
Some days you should just stay in bed
That's how I felt after firing my first two groups yesterday. I'd intended to shoot a couple more groups with 9.0 gr and with 9.5 gr of Alliant Unique under a Mt. Baldy 250 gr Keith, to give the 9.5 gr load another chance in the .44 Mountain Gun. But I'd as well have shot those first 12 down-range with my eyes closed. The first group, shot at 25 yards resting the revolver between my knees, starting with 9.0 gr, put six into 4.95" and the 'best' five into 3.70" -- absolutely horrible, and much worse than I'd done in the past with this load, although it closely parallels my first group from my last shooting session. I also notice considerable barrel leading after the first group, which continued shooting seems to clean out somewhat. Hmm ...
My second group, with 9.5 gr of Unique, wasn't much better though, with six going into 3.52" and five in 3.03". Fouling of the barrel may be causing some of the erratic shooting, but I suspect that a big part of it is my failure to concentrate fully on the front sight. I have a terrible habit of letting my eye stray down to the target as I squeeze, something that's not much noticed with a longer-barreled weapon. I probably wouldn't have noticed this time, except that a flock of turkeys wandered by my target as I was getting set up for my second pair of groups -- Oh, the temptation! -- fortunately for the turkeys I'm a law-abiding sort, but I couldn't resist admiring the lovely sight picture they presented ... and I noticed that I wasn't looking at the sights nearly as much as I was admiring that big tom who was shaking his tail feathers at me.
The reminder of how to do it -- and why I'm doing it! -- sunk in, and I managed to follow my first miserable performance with a pair of groups a bit more to my liking, putting six into 2.28" with five in 2.19" with 9.0 gr of Unique, followed by a genuine bragger, six in 1.74" and the best five in 1.54" with 9.5 gr of Unique, a nicely centered little cluster about two inches straight above my aiming point, dead center in the black. Pretty.
It is interesting that each group fired was progressively tighter than the last, and the initial barrel fouling seemed to clear up some. Perhaps Veral Smith has a point when he recommends that the barrel not be cleaned when using his bullet lubes. The Army has left me positively neurotic about cleaning my weapons, but this might be one time to give it a rest.
I also suspect that I'd get less initial fouling if the bullets were more closely sized to the cylinder throat and barrel, which mic an even 0.429" and 0.4286", respectively. I'll try running a batch of bullets through a Lee push-through sizer to squeeze them down to 0.429" from their current 0.430" and see if that helps.
In the mean time, I'm re-reading Veral Smith's little book, Jacketed Performance With Cast Bullets, which is absolutely crammed with ideas and guidance from someone who's obviously put many thousand cast pullets down-range. An excellent little book and I highly recommend it.
Incidentally, my new grips from Collins Craft did not break! Linen micarta is tough stuff and Don Collins does an admirable job of fitting them to the frame. A bit of pressure is necessary to seat them, and when fully pressed home on the frame there is absolutely no gap between the shoulder on the inside of the grip and the overhang at the top of the grip frame -- they fit tight!
Because the dimensions of grip frames vary slightly Collins leaves the grips a bit large, and his design follows the more recent profile of Smith & Wesson grips, which can be a bit thicker through the grip than the grip frame is wide, making them feel a bit awkward in my hand (and this is by no means a ding against Collins Craft, S&W's own grips fit this way). Being a fussy sort, I decided to go ahead and work the grips down to a profile more similar to the old 1950's S&W 'coke bottle' shape. Crimony! Linen micarta is tough stuff. It took three mornings with a chainsaw file and sanding blocks to get them down to the point where the grip thickness matches the width of the frame, then a couple more days of sanding, and a couple of days of polishing with jeweler's rouge, but the final result is worth the effort. Now they have a nicely palm-filling swell that tapers to a waist that falls under the middle finger, and then flair at the top as the older S&W grips did. They fit my hand very well, and when highly polished they really do look like aged ivory.