Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Simple Question

So... hardcore drug warriors out there... I have a very simple question for you...


You can't stop people from getting high. It's NOT POSSIBLE.

It literally does not matter how far you go, you cannot stop it.

We can't stop heroin from getting into supermax prisons, where there are no visitors allowed, and everyone is body searched in and out.

I just had a dedicated drug warrior fully sincerely advocate that we completely seal the border, and that every vehicle, container, and person should be fully cavity searched.

When I pointed out that cavity searches didn't stop heroin from getting in to supermax prisons, he said that we need to have full walls on all the borders, and boats to patrol the coastlines to stop smugglers.

You can't stop people from getting high. This is not an issue of sealing the borders.

Even if you actually sealed the borders successfully, then they would just grow it here.

How exactly would you stop that?

It would require constantly patrolling millions of acres of property, searching all greenhouses, and all forests, and all fields of any kind of anything, at least once every 90 days... in the entire country.

Doing so... aside from the massive violations of peoples rights, would require millions of law enforcement officers dedicated to it.

That would cost more than the entire budget of the United State by the way.

Even if you manage to completely eradicate all opium poppies, and all coca plants on the planet, they will just synthesize it in labs... and by labs, I mean, any quiet room with an electrical outlet, or anywhere you can run a generator, or a blow torch.

If you completely ban all substances that people could get high with, you ban thousands of legal products with legitimate and critical uses, including a huge number of critical medications.

You also have to ban all lab equipment, or closely license and track its sale. And all chemicals of all kind... and many kinds of foods. And most kinds of flowers.

And all machine tools, and glass blowing equipment... and blow torches, and pipes and tubes and sand...

And you'll have to dig out and burn out millions and millions of acres of plants.

We have 7,500 miles of border. We have 13,000 miles of coastline.

You can make it a death penalty offense to posses, sell, or use drugs, or get high. Many countries do in fact... and people still get high.

This dedicated drug warrior said that it didn't matter what it took, it didn't matter what it cost... It didn't matter if it wouldn't work at all... That we had to do it anyway.

When I asked why, he said:

"Because to do otherwise would be to surrender"

Then I asked "Surrender what? To who?"

He said "Surrender to the junkies and the dealers"

I asked "Surrender what?"

He refused to answer.

And again I asked "Why"

He refused to answer.

I said "You're advocating a police state, in order to stop people from getting high. Why?"

He refused to answer.

So... I have a very simple question for you...

You cannot possibly stop people who want to get high, from getting high.

You can't make it illegal enough. You can't ban or control enough. It's not possible... you have to know that it isn't possible..

Prohibition PROVED beyond all possibility of doubt that it's impossible.

The last 45 years of the war on drugs have proved beyond all possibility of doubt that it's impossible.

Maximum security prisons prove beyond all possibility of doubt that it's impossible.

But you still think we have to do it... No matter what it takes... No matter the harm it causes... No matter what rights get violated...No matter how much power it gives the state. No matter how much it costs...


It's a really simple question...

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Eternally Meaningless Caliber Wars

It's funny... as caliber wars become more pointless, they become more vocal and partisan...

This seems to actually be BECAUSE the data show the differential between chamberings is small, and has been getting smaller for decades. As datasets get larger, data and data analysis get better, and as ammunition gets better, the differences between common defensive pistol chamberings are progressively smaller, and less meaningful.

Pistols are Pistols, and Rifles are Rifles.

We have a saying "pistols are pistols, and rifles are rifles"; which means that the difference between reasonable defensive pistol chamberings is small, and effectively meaningless, compared to the difference between pistols, and long guns; both shotguns and rifles.

Compared to rifles, pistols are lost in the noise... and looking at the variability between different rifle chamberings, the differences can be greater than most powerful reasonable defensive pistol chamberings, and nothing at all.

In fact... if we just look at muzzle energy numbers, there can be greater variability within a single chambering.. say, something like subsonic .300blackout, and high velocity .300blackout, with something like 900ftlbs of energy difference between them, and the most powerful reasonable defensive pistol chamberings, such as hot and heavy .357 magnum, at something like 750ftlbs.

Pistols are pistols, and rifles are rifles. 

When there were thought to be larger differences, one could have clear advantages and disadvantages which could be argued. When the differences are small, it comes down to preference, individual performance, and small optimizations. Now, there can be no clear differentiation.

Because pistols are pistols, and rifles are rifles.

So, the caliber wars rage on

The most recent "major shakeup" has commenced, as many law enforcement agencies ( who moved to .40 and .45 in the late 90s and 2000s, after a series of notable failures in effectiveness of 9mm in the 80s and early 90s) have decided to move back to 9mm.

This is happening, because both ballistic testing, and empirical shooting data, show very little difference in effectiveness with modern high performance ammunition.

9mm has always had a few fairly significant advantages... and these are not controversial... that were thought to be offset by its reduced effectiveness compared to .40 and .45. It costs substantially less, it's smaller and lighter (more rounds in the same size, or smaller and lighter with the same round count); and smaller officers, and those who are less skilled with firearms, and who practice less, generally shoot better with it.

Since police generally open carry, large "duty" pistols, and in general are not good shots, who don't get to train very much, and don't have much money for ammo when training; and because there are more and more women and smaller officers on police forces, 9mm is at its greatest position of advantage, in police duty pistols.

With the data showing that modern high performance ammunition gives little or no effective difference between 9mm, .40, and .45; there is really no reason for police duty weapons NOT to move back to 9mm, and some good reasons to do so.

And so 9mm partisans in the non-police shooting world, believe they have scored a final victory over the dark forces of the .45acp.

... this war having been going on literally for over 100 years now by the way; the chamberings having been been developed in 1901 and 1904 respectively, and having first fought on opposite sides of world war one...

Of course, the police duty carry mission, is different from the many different concealed and open carry missions that non-police defensive pistol carriers have.

So the "decisive victory" is nothing of the sort... it's just another set of data points.

There's caliber wars, and there's actual reasonable argument with data.

Most people wouldn't know what the second is, never mind the third.

... Presuming modern premium defensive JHP ammunition, without restrictions...

Basically there is between a 10%-20% or so spread of expected effectiveness between .380+p and .45+p, depending on exactly which data you look at, presuming a human in standard street clothes, and no barrier penetration. About a 10% spread from 9mm (standard pressure) to .45+p and less than 5% from 9mm+p to .45+p... so...

When you factor in things like heavy clothing, barrier penetration and the like, the numbers get even more murky, and less reliable, and less useful...

Effectively, the differences between reasonable defensive chamberings don't matter.

20% is worth debating... 10% maybe... but not really too much, 5% really not at all. It's margin of error, a slight optimization, or a personal preference.

Is it worth upgrading from .380 to 9mm...?

...Sure, if you can shoot it just as well, and carry it just as well... 

Is it worth "upgrading to" .45...?

...Sure, if you can shoot it and carry it just as well...

...and you don't mind 2 or so fewer rounds in the same size package.

Is it worth "downgrading" to 9mm...?

...Sure if you can shoot and carry it just as well...

...and you want the 2 or so more rounds in the same size package.

What about .40?

It almost exactly splits the difference between .45 and 9mm, with none of the advantages of either, and all the disadvantages of both really... With modern ammunition, it's really no longer worth considering (except as a smaller version of 10mm, or the basis for .357sig), except "because I feel like it" or "because I shoot it well"... But it's also probably not worth trading or selling it for either 9mm or .45acp if you like it.

Functionally, the spectrum of defensive chamberings between 9mm+p and .45+p make no difference.

So... what DOES make a difference, and how much?

Ehh... not much, and not much...

Basically, a tiny bit with .357sig and a slight advantage with .357magnum and 10mm... and I don't consider .45lc and and .44magnum to be reasonable defensive chamberings for most people (they're effective, but they're bigger, more expensive, harder to shoot, and harder to carry than most will ever bother with).

There's a little bit of an advantage to .357sig, light .357 mag, and light 10mm over .45acp +p... maybe 5%.

There a slightly bigger advantage to medium .357mag and medium 10mm... a little more than 5% to maybe 10%

There's a slightly bigger advantage to hot .357mag and hot 10mm... a little more than 10% to maybe a little more than 15%, or even 20% under some circumstances (particularly with barrier penetration, and with tougher animals than humans).

However, for all of those upgrades, you get higher cost, more recoil, and its more difficult to shoot well...

In the case of medium and heavy 10mm and .357 in lighter easier to carry guns, it can actually be physically painful to shoot, and most people can't shoot them well at all.

Is it worth the upgrade to magnum class chamberings like these? 

Sure, if you can carry and shoot them just as well, don't mind the extra recoil and the extra cost.

Getting the picture here...?

It's not about the chambering... because pistols are pistols...

It's really about how well you can shoot, and carry the gun, in your chosen chambering... and in personal preference, and in small optimizations for particular missions.

So, what do I choose? What do I recommend?

I'm a really big guy, who can carry almost any sized gun reasonably comfortably. I live in a rural, cold, northern state, and at times have had to deal with wild animals.

Most importantly for my chambering selection, I shoot heavy recoiling guns pretty well, and the differences in recoil between 9mm+p and light .357 and 10mm are basically meaningless to me; with only a slight disadvantage to medium and heavy .357 and 10mm loads.

My pocket carry guns are a 5 shot .357 revolver, and a 7 shot .380... I like how both of them carry, and I can empty them both into a 4" or smaller circle at 10 or less yards with deliberate fire, and an 8" or smaller circle as fast as I can recover each shot... though neither have much in the way of sights.

Once I got the small .357 revolver, I pretty much stopped bothering carrying the .380 frankly, because I can shoot the .357 as well, it's no heavier, it carries just as well, and it's more reliable. I occasionally carry the .380, particularly in shorts, because it's a little flatter and slimmer... but that's really it.

My belt carry guns right now, are all 3-5" barreled 7-9 round .45 and 10mm 1911s... But at times have been 7 to 16 round 9mm, .40, and .357sig, and .357 magnum I've never felt insufficiently armed with any of them. I have never felt over armed with any of them. Though a couple have been a little bigger or heavier than ideal.

I don't feel that an 8 round .45 1911 is significantly more or less effective, for my personal defensive needs and missions, than a 13 round 9mm Browning hi-power. I happen to own a couple of good 1911s in .45 and 10mm that I like... I happen to have sold all my 9mm pistols a few years ago, including my 2 BHPs, expecting that I'd buy more, but I haven't been in a position to do so.

The only ones that I thought were in any meaningful way more effective, were the .357 magnums, and the 10mm, in both of which I carried loads suitable to heavier animals than people, because I lived in the north Idaho mountains. If I had to dispatch an elk or a moose, or god forbid deal with a bear, I wanted 158gr to 180gr at 1250-1350fps... The biggest advantages I could get in pistols that I felt like carrying every day, and could shoot well.

... and really... it's only a small advantage...

Because Pistols are Pistols, and Rifles are Rifles. 

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Lessons From the Well Spouse - The Types Of People You Run Into While Treating Cancer

For the longest time I've held on to the draft of the post you're reading now and since we're starting Chris Has Cancer Round 2, I thought maybe it was time to finish the post. True to form we've seen all of these types again, plus some new types that either we didn't have in our lives at the time or have sprung up since.

The Mostly Benign

The Know-It-All Who Knows Nothing: this person is the instant expert on your condition, despite not actually knowing anything about it. Easily identified by their blanket statements and complete inability to do any medical research, they will gladly tell you how "natural foods will cure any cancer" or "you should try *insert current medical fad here*". Most of their medical knowledge will be gleaned from Facebook. Assess their intentions (most of them are actually trying to help) and if you need to use to magic words, "thanks, I will totally look into that".

The Misinformed Overgeneralizer - this person heard "cancer" and has no clue that not only are there many, many different types of cancer but also that the treatments are highly specialized and not universal. Usually their first comment is along the lines of "omg are you gonna lose your hair?" Generally considered benign, they are sometimes worth educating or at least worth throwing a few search terms to set them on the right path.

The Person Who Can't Use Google - sometimes a variant of the Misinformed Overgeneralizer, they are willing to admit their ignorance. However, they will expect *you* to explain everything to them. This person's opinion automatically does not matter, and depending on how much you give a shit about them you can spend the time to explain or you can tell them to Google it for themselves.

The Math-Impaired - this person doesn't understand odds, survival rates, or any statistics whatsoever. Prone to coming to the wrong conclusion or falling for spurious medical studies (they don't understand the concept of sample size at all) they will come to an understanding of the situation that's either overly pessimistic or overly optimistic. Best ignored.

The Story Teller - this person is usually suffering from the need to say something but not knowing what to say. They will typically try to find common ground, and will sometimes succeed if they're a survivor or close to a survivor. However most of the time they will fall flat on their faces. The stories will run from reasonable attempt ("my aunt had a cancer kind of like that and she survived") to the distressing ("my brother just died from _____ cancer, it was horrible") to the utterly insulting ("my dog had prostate cancer so I totally know what you're going through.") Generally these people are at least trying to do the right thing, so you can at least smile and nod.

The Stunned and Wordless - self-explanatory. These people will mumble "I'm so sorry" when they get their wits back. They're benign, they just have no clue what to do.

The Road to Hell is Paved with These Guys

The Blamer - Monsanto, pollution, the American Diet, chemicals in our food, chemtrails - this person is certain your cancer is caused by *something*. Their intention is generally to help, though their speeches don't actually do anything but annoy the hell out of you.

The Fixer - diet, juice cleanse, exercise, meditation, hypnotherapy, acupuncture - this person puts their trust in everything other than modern Western medicine. They will argue with you over the best treatment for their condition while (unironically, somehow) telling you that surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy will kill you. Sometimes they're right in that some people die from the treatments but they completely ignore the very important fact that an untreated malignant cancer will generally kill you much faster.

The Fixer, Religious Variant - pray enough and it will go away, have enough faith and God will heal you. You will somehow resist the urge to tell them that yes, God has answered your prayers and He will heal you... with the help of your cancer treatment team.

The Fixer, Cannabis Variant - do I really need to explain this one?

The Saint-Makers and Pedestal Builders - yes, they intend it as a compliment when they say "bless you, I could never manage keep calm and carry on in your circumstances". They honestly don't understand that it's really lonely up on that pedestal, and that you don't really want to feel superhuman at the moment, and that you really, REALLY don't want to think of your situation as that bad and unmanageable. These guys will take the wind out of your sails without knowing it, so do your best to accept it as a compliment and remember that if they were in your position they'd probably buck up and manage too.

The Narcissists

The Suddenly Absent - this person used to be a friend but suddenly dropped off the face of the planet when you told everyone the news. This fair-weather friend can't handle the discomfort or you no longer serve their purposes. Either way you're better off without them.

The More Distressed Than Thou - this person is not close to the patient or otherwise impacted by the cancer but somehow has FOUND A WAY to be more upset over the news than you are. There may be hysterics, sobbing, rending of garments or other displays of extreme emotion and those displays will be calculated to get the most attention possible. Sometimes they will suck you into comforting *them*. Avoid them at all costs.

The Conspiracy Theorist - an odd mix of the Blamer and the Fixer, this person should be benign. They're not. In all of their ranting about how Monsanto gave you the cancer and Big Pharma is hiding the universal cancer cure in a bid to get more money, they are actually demonstrating their ability to not be sheeple and not be brainwashed. Congratulations, you are now a character in their latest narrative about how The Man is killing us all.

The Nihilist - "If I were you I'd just kill myself and get it over with." Gee, thanks for that vote of confidence! This person will sap your will to live as they prove to themselves that life isn't worth living.

The Fault-Finder - this person invariably is an adherent to *some* sort of religion or dogma and needs to find the reason that you, personally, are going through cancer, Their reason is usually a variation of their concept of sin. God is smiting you personally for your sins, you smoked or did drugs, you're not a vegan, you're not eating organic, any reason will do. As long as they can come up with some reason why you're sick that's your fault they can avoid the uncomfortable truth that cancer could happen to them, too.

The Doers and the Helpers

The Doctor/ Nurse/ Medically Inclined - this person asks for specifics and either knows about the condition or runs off and does their own research. They can help you with resources, tell you where to find studies or clinical trials, vet your docs, give you tips, and otherwise help with the medical part of things. They can range from totally benign to totally helpful and give you real advice like how to find advocates, how to treat the nurses, who to talk to, and how to fight with insurance.

The Truly Empathetic - this person will listen to you rant, give you a shoulder to cry on, and otherwise be a support as best they can.

The Helper - like the Truly Empathetic they want to help you, but may not know what to say. Instead they'll show up and clean your house, bring you meals, visit you at the hospital, watch your kids, do your laundry, and otherwise help you with keeping life together.

The Avenger - this person lost someone to cancer and WILL NOT LET CANCER WIN AGAIN DAMNIT. Will do as much as they can to help you have a positive outcome, including all sorts of medical, mental, emotional, physical, and logistical support.

The Survivor - like the Truly Empathetic and the Helper they can be an invaluable resource and support, but unlike the Truly Empathetic or the Helper their knowledge of how to get through comes from real experience, either their own or from going through cancer with someone really close to them. They are the Tribe you will become part of for the rest of your life.