Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Some Blog Pimping for awards

Okay guys, it's the last day of voting for the gunnies, and I'm up for most educational.

The voting link is here:


It's an interesting instant runoff system with preference ranked voting (from 1-10 in this case). Everyone votes once, ranking candidates in their order of preference. There are a number of "rounds" of voting equal to the number of candidates who recieved a vote (and it automatically assigns preferences if you dont), and in each round, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and that candidates votes are redistributed to the rest of the candidates in proportion to their preference order and number of votes recieved. Then in the next round the next weakest is eliminated and their votes redistributed and so on.

It's an interesting system, and several countries use it or a variant of it, in their electoral system (including Ireland - which produces some odd results).

The biggest thing about isntant runoff, is that it allows third party (or 15th party) candidates a stronger position than they would otherwise have, because they will frequently be the second choice of a strong first party supporter, while they rank their direct opposition party last.

This tends to produce results with both more consensus candidates; and with more extreme ones. Basically it punishes extreme partisanship, and encourages side parties.

In this context, and looking at the voting, I appear to be most folks first or second choice, as is Mr. Completely. Unfortunately for me, he seems to be more folks first choice than I do; or at least he is higher in more folks rankings than I am.

So get out there and vote early, vote often etc... (actually you can vote once per day), and if I'm not your first choice, at least put me in second hey? And Mr. Completely in last ;-)

Monday, January 30, 2006

A funny thing happened on the way to the TV

So I'm getting ready to make dinner, and one of my favorite '80s teen romps comes on, Summer School. It's a pretty baaaad movie, but there were some great moments, mostly provided by the dialogue of one Francis "Chainsaw" Gremp, A.K.A. Dean Cameron.

Actually the movie has quite a lot of actors who actually had carreers, like Mark Harmon, Courtney Thorne Smith, Patrick Labyorteaux, and the aforementioned Cameron.

So the funny thing is, Cameron is also a hardcore libertarian, and has spoken at the last two national conventions (not a Big "L" libertarian here, but it's better than being a liberal).

So anyway, I do my normal thing and browse through the bios of the actors on IMDB, and I notice this: "Is the inventor of the Bill of Rights: Security Edition cards"

Huh... think I need to check these out... So I hit the website and see these:

"What is the "Bill of Rights - Security Edition" ?

The Bill of Rights: The First Ten Amendments to the constitution of the United States printed on sturdy, pocket-sized, pieces of metal.

The next time you travel by air, take the Bill of Rights - Security Edition along with you. When asked to empty your pockets, proudly toss the Bill of Rights in the plastic bin.

You need to get used to offering up the bill of rights for inspection and government workers enforcing the USAPATRIOT ACT need to get used to deciding if you'll be allowed to keep the Bill of Rights with you when you travel.

Flipping Brilliant!!!!

I bought the five pack, and I'm sending them to certain selected friends. Frequent travellers who can appreciate the sentiment, and dont mind pissing off the TSA.

Self Selection

Kim has an interesting post up today looking at Kevin Bakers crime stats post I linked to the other day, and talking about violence in society, immigration, and American culture.

I thought I'd put in my two cents here.

I grew up dead poor in a rich town, because we would rent a house from my grandfather who was quite well off. We always had enough to eat, and clean clothes; but other than that we were pretty well skint, until I was a teenager.

My mother would periodically get a new job or get into a new business and we'd move someplace where we werent getting a lower rent because of my grandfather. So when I was a kid, we moved around a lot, into some of the worst ghetto areas in this country because that is what my mother could afford on her own.

Thing is, we always moved back to that nice rich town after a year or so in each of those nastier places; because pride be damned, my mother wanted us to live in a safe place where we could get a half decent education

Since I’ve grown up, I’ve been rich, and I’ve been dead poor. I’ve lived in luxury homes and in my car. I’ve lived in the U.S. , Ireland, and for short periods of time (a few months) the U.K., Australia, Japan, and Russia. I’ve lived in good neighborhoods and bad; with all income levels, all social levels, all nationalities, and all races.

In all of this, one thing has been abundantly clear.

Almost all crime against strangers in a healthy society is commited by people who deliberately hold themselves apart from the productive mainstream of society.

In the western world it was once common for groups to be alienated from society by force through racism or other arbitrary prejudices; but in most places in the west these days institutional pervasive racism is not only absent but illegal (though personal racism will always remain). Most of what racism remains is because of toxic ignorance, tribalism, identity politics, or as a reaction to the self selected alienation by the groups I am speaking of.

Be they the chronic dolists (permanent welfare recipients for us Americans) , the “refugee community”, “travellers”, gypsies, gangs, punks, skinheads, or any other group; the people commiting the majority of crime in these societies are all self selected groups that refuse to integrate into society.

It doesn’t matter if you are black, white, yellow, red, or puce; pervasive violent crime against strangers is a symptom of alienation from society; whether it be from racism, tribalism, other self-selection into an alienated sub-culture (tribalism is a form of it), or sociopathy.

The mainstream “black culture” in America is one of these self-selected, alienated subcultures.

“Self selected you say? But they’re born black, how can that be self selection?”

Because in this country, your position in society is not determined by your birth, your race, your looks, or any other arbitrary factor; but by your work, your intelligence, and your drive.

Yes, it is HARDER for you to succeed depending on your circumstances at birth, but since when was something being hard and excuse for failure…

Oh wait, that’s right, we’ve made it not just an excuse, but a completely valid reason. Just because it’s easier for a good looking kid born to rich white parents to get ahead than an ugly kid born to poor black parents; it’s OK to sit back and do nothing.

If you choose to participate in a destructive, nihilistic, and anarchistic sub-culture of disrespect, macho phony “honor”, hedonism, infantilist social oportunism, and predatory crime; well that’s your choice. Societies choice is - or should be - then to exclude, and eventually imprison you.

If a society does NOT exclude you for these behaviors, then that society will fail.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

One of the reasons I love TR

Even though he was an overly populist president, he definitely had some clear and good ideas (and just as clear and bad ones, but hey). Look at this quote about imigration (from NoR reader 'TheRoyalFamily"):

"In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man’s becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American ... There can be no divided allegiance here.

Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile ... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language ... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."
That's jsut about exactly how I, and I would suspect most folks reading this, feel on the subject.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

20 Years, in 73 seconds.

I was one of the schoolchildren that NASA had arranged to watch the challenger launch. I remember sitting there in science class, greay haried and floral printed Mrs. Burke and the kids I'd been with since kindergarten all around me.

It seemed like it took forever for the conutdown, and then the engines, and the steam and smoke and it took FOOOOREVER for it to lift off; but there it went.

73 seconds...

When you're a little kid, 73 seconds seems like an awful long time.

Most of the kids were already starting to turn away, bored, but I was still watching; and so was Mrs. Burke.

73 seconds...

I don't remember seeing the explosion honestly. I know I was watching, I know I saw it, I remember the emotions.. confusion, anger, fear, sorrow, more confusion... but I don't remember seeing the explosion.

What I remember most is Mrs. Burke gasping, and crying. I'd never seen a grownup outside of my own family cry in public before. and in the halls you could hear the sound of more crying. More grownups crying.

We were all sent home that day. Everyones faces looked wrong. Everyone knew that those people had died; but bigger than that, something great had been wounded badly that day.

We hadn't had an accident that serious since Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee died in the Apollo 1 fire.

Funny thing though, Gus had a thought about accidents and the like:
If we die, we want people to accept it. We are in a risky business and we hope that if anything happens to us it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life.

--Virgil I. Grissom, after the Gemini 3 mission, March 1965
And so here we are 20 year later, and we have progressed no father; in large part because of the shuttle program (which I would consider a failure, but a necessary one) holding us back.

I can't say anything better than what Gus did (oh and I should note, though I loved the movie "The Right Stuff" it did a great disservice to Grissom).

14 men and women have died in the shuttles, and yet, their death has accomplished so little. We are still stuck on the outside, looking in, and so long as we depend on NASA, or any other government agency to lift us up off this rock, we will be.

It is our entrepeneurs, and or engineers who are our tru stargazers, and they will be the way to the future.

Friday, January 27, 2006

I was just waitin for it

In the post Hallelujah, praise the lord, and pass the ammunition I wrote the following:

From Global Security:

"The US Special Operations Command [USSOCOM] issued a solicitation in August 2005 to obtain commercially available non-developmental item (NDI) Joint Combat Pistol (JCP) system, Caliber .45 (ACP). The Program (which absorbed an earlier Future Handgun System program) will use full and open competition to fulfill the JCP requirement. The JCP will be delivered in accordance with specification entitled "Performance Specification Joint Combat Pistol" to be provided with issuance of the solicitation. Two configurations of the pistol will be required. One configuration will have no external safety and the other configuration will have an external safety.

The Combat Pistol System consists of: a Caliber .45 pistol and its ancillary equipment including: Magazines (standard and high-capacity); Suppressor Attachment Kit for operation of the pistol with and without sound suppressor; Holster; Magazine Holder (standard and high-capacity); Cleaning Kit; and Operator's Manual..."
I've been saying this was coing for a while now, first it goes to SOCOM, then we may see general issue. The Contractor grapevine has been buzzing that the RFP was written just for HK to get the bid, but we'll see.

... snip ...

Then theres this:

"The JCP shall have a standard magazine capacity of no less than eight [8] rounds (T), greater than eight [8] rounds (O) of .45 ACP ammunition. The JCP shall also have a high-capacity magazine of no less than ten [10] rounds (T), fifteen [15] rounds (O), of .45 ACP ammunition."
Hmmmm... somebody is either thinking HKP2000/USP Compact, a SIG P220, or a 1911...

and these two narrow it down further:

"The JCP length, with standard barrel, shall be less than 9.65 inches (T). The JCP width shall be less than 1.53 inches (T).

The JCP shall function in double action/single action (DA/SA) or double-action only (DAO) including Striker-Fired Action (SFA) (T). The JCP should have a modular action mechanism that allows reconfiguration at the unit level without modification to the weapon’s major assemblies (O).

All DA/SA pistols shall have a consistent trigger pull of eight to ten [8-10] pounds on Double Action, and a consistent trigger pull of four to six [4-6] pounds on Single Action and all DAO pistols shall have a trigger pull of five to eight [5-8] pounds (T). All pistols shall have a trigger pull that is consistent within one [1] pound from average pull (T). When pressure is applied to the JCP trigger and then released, the trigger shall reset to its forward-most position, even if the pistol is not fired (T). The operator shall be capable of pulling the trigger, without shifting the firing grip."

Uhhh yep, looks like a SIG or an HK to me, and HK is "owed" a major military contract. Actually the more you read, the clearer it is that this was indeed written for HK to win.

Well it seems my prediction is going to come to pass, at least in part:

U.S. Brings Back the .45

January 27, 2006: After two decades of use, the U.S. Department of Defense is getting rid of its Beretta M9 9mm pistol, and going back to the 11.4mm (.45 caliber) weapon. There have been constant complaints about the lesser (compared to the .45) hitting power of the 9mm. And in the last few years, SOCOM (Special Operations Command) and the marines have officially adopted .45 caliber pistols as “official alternatives” to the M9 Beretta. But now SOCOM has been given the task of finding a design that will be suitable as the JCP (Joint Combat Pistol). Various designs are being evaluated, but all must be .45 caliber and have a eight round magazine (at least), and high capacity mags holding up to 15. The new .45 will also have a rail up top for attachments, and be able to take a silencer. Length must be no more than 9.65 inches, and width no more than 1.53 inches.

The M1911 .45 caliber pistol that the 9mm Beretta replaced in 1985, was, as its nomenclature implied, an old design. There are several modern designs out there for .45 caliber pistols that are lighter, carry more ammo and are easier to maintain than the pre-World War I M1911 (which is actually about a century old, as a design). The Department of Defense plans to buy 645,000 JCPs. "

Well, the top rail is a universally stupid idea unless it's on a fixed barrel, with a low mass slide, or a bolt action system. I only know of one centerfire automatic pistol with that design that isn't a competition pistol, and that's the Desert Eagle; which is obviously not a consideration.

Oh and why a 15rd magazine? Servicemen with small hands ALREADY have a problem with the doublestack 9mm, a doublestack .45 is going to be that much worse.

There is NO reason to have either optics or a huge magazine on a military combat pistol. A pistol is NOT AN OFFENSIVE WEAPON. The SOLE purpose of a pistol in military service is to allow you to defend yourself until you can get to a real weapon, and preferably a radio.

Okay, end of rant.

Anyway, other than that, I see no reason to change my judgement that this RFP is written specifcally for HK. It also seems to me that the USP is still the most likely platform, even including the rail and 15rd mag.

Go, Read, Now

Kevin Baker posts probably the best breakdown of violent crime statistics I've seen anywhere:


Thursday, January 26, 2006

A Computer that does what I want it to... is that too much to ask?

The eerie coincidences between Eric and myself continue...

So, I'm in the middle of re-installing windows on my primary working laptop.

After about six months since my last re-install, it's simply non functional; to the point where yesterday I had two crashes within minutes, and lost 5 days worth of work to file corruption (I had to restore to my last backup, from last thursday).

I was telling my boss (as in my actual boss inasmuch as I have one, being an independent contractor; he's the guy who holds my contract) this:
"I'm on my ninth reboot at this point, and I havent even finished installing all the drivers yet, never mind the hard part; the applications. The first thing I had to do was fix all the broken, stupid, or "easy to use" settings that makes XP so bad; then I need to isntall my most basic working utilities set; then my Microsoft applications. I've been working on this since 9am, and it's going to take me the rest of the day to get to a minimally usable state; and probably three days of non-productiveness before I get everything fixed.

I hate windows. I would use Linux for all my work if I could. It's not that I'm an OS zealot, I jsut want a system that does WHAT I WANT, not what it thinks I want based on it's almost always incorrect decision matrix etc... etc... I want it to do it reliably, and I want to be able to fix it when it breaks. Is that too much to ask?"
Wonder of wonders, while I'm waiting for the MS drivers to download I've got firefox open to my blog reads, and jsut as I turn back to the hell box, what do I see but this:
"If you want a computer that lets you surf the web and check email, then you probably don't need anything other than Windows. If you want a computer because you are a competitive gamer, then you probably haven't got much choice but to use Windows. But, if you are somewhere in between those two groups, which covers a whole bunch of us, then you might want to reconsider whether Microsoft is the right choice for you, because Microsoft's goals are not yours.

Your goal is likely to be a computer that does things you want it to do and does them well. The key is the computer does what you want it to do. So, thinking about all of that, it seems clear to me that the reasons I think *nix is superior to Windows are also the reasons I think that many computer users should learn how to use Linux and open source software...

...So, what's the point of this? Most Windows power users that I know spend a tremendous amount of time making their Windows installation do things that Microsoft doesn't intend for it. For example, when I get a new laptop at work (and I have to use XP on it, for a variety of reasons), the very first thing I do is undo as much of the dumbing down of the user interface as I can. I get rid of the simplified control panel, change my settings to the "classic windows" desktop and start menu, and so on. Then I install a bunch of open source software, including GIMP, OpenOffice, Firefox and Thunderbird. Then I boot up a Knoppix LiveCD and make sure I can use it on my laptop (in fact, I'm using Knoppix on my Dell Latitude D610 right now)."
Of course I saw this within minutes of stripping all the useless crap off of XP, installing GIMP, OpenOffice, Firefox, and Thunderbird.

Why do I run XP for my work PC, when my security work would be cleary better done with *nix (I'm a Kubuntu fan at the moment)?

There are exactly five reasons:

1. Groupware: The companies I contract with all use either Outlook or Notes for their scheduling,time tracking, task tracking etc... and the available open source clients have varying levels of non-functionality with these systems. This is non functionality I can't afford.

2. Microsoft Project: I HAVE to use it. I hate it. It's one of the worst project management programs that has ever been designed. EVERYONE USES IT; and worse, they make you use it.

3. Microsoft PowerPoint: Powepoint is actually a half decent app. There are open source solutions that work jsut as well, btu they don't always work the same way, with the same files; and again, this is incompatibility I can't afford

4. Microsoft Visio: Visio is THE standard for technical diagraming. Everyone uses it, everyone makes you use it; because again, there are non MS apps available (some of them MUCH better), but if I can't be 100% compatible with Visio, I have a MAJOR problem

5. Propietary remote access VPN tools: Much of my work is done remotely. Many companies have VPN infrastructure for remote users that REQUIRES propietary VPN clients. Hell most of the time these thigns barely even work with WINDOWS never mind anything else. Is it necessary that they be this way? Absolutely not. Are there functional open source alternatives, ABSOLUTELY, in fact they mostly work better. These programs are generally so bad, that installing two of them on the same PC will usually cause your networking to fail completely, and may jsut destroy your box utterly; requiring an excorcism and ritual cleansing.


Because sales reps tell them to mostly. Or purchasing managers. Because they are included "free" with other products. Because the manager only wants to use a single vendor...

...because of Network Effects basically.

And it's not going to change any time soon; so we're all jsut going to have to suffer through re-installing windows every few months.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

How about a book

So I've had a few folks say I should take my writings below, fill in some missing pieces, copy edit, and collect them into a book. I could then do some on deman publishing or summat.

Whadya think? Worth doing?

Honestly I'm not so sure. I mean I know I can write well when I get around to it, and I can pretty easily edit and fill in my wirting below into a consistent theme (or set of themes), that being personal defense; and the individuals role in the national defense.

I'd also want to include some law (something I dont post much about) philosophy, tactics, more training recommendations etc...

Ehhh it might be worth it jsut for the personal satisfaction.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Oh look, someone finally noticed

It's too late,

But I saw this cartoon and had to put it up. Wilson Pickett died a few days ago, and I'm gonna cry

I've done Mustang sally in every rock, soul, blues... hell anything but folk and choir music; that I've ever sung.

If you need me, call my name and I'll be there. Wicked Wilson Pickett, rest in piece.

1000 geeky words

Monday, January 23, 2006

A Personal "Best of ME Symphony"

Well, countertop was tired of the various blogging awards not recognizing us gun bloggers; so he decided to make an award of his own; The Gunnies.

I've been nominated in the "Most Educational" category; and Kim has I think been nominated in every category except "best aggregator".

So go, vote, enjoy.

Oh and I did vote for myself first; because of the ones listed I really think I am the most educational for beginners and general gun lovers. If you're a gun builder however, Heads Bunker has me bitchslapped; so I put him second; and the RWVA has all the great "how to be a rifleman" stuff, so I put them third.

Theres only one thing with the RWVA, in that they aren't really a blog. What they call their blog is really more of a news and updates page, and so I don't think they should be eligible. That said, I HIGHLY recommend their site anyway, and if they WERE a real blog they'd have everyone elses ass kicked from here til tuesday.

The rest of the nominees are great, and most are regular reads; but other than me and Head, they dont tend to do the long in depth educational posting thing. Oh I am surprised at how many folks werent nominated that I was expecting would be however.

Not that I'm trying to pimp for an award. It's not like they matter; but they ARE fun, and they get people more exposure so thats a good thing.

Anyway, the whole point of this, is that it prompted me to update my link sidebar. It's been forever since I added anything; and I'm way behind. Also, my 1 year blogiversary is in three weeks, so it seemed like an appropriate time.

What I'm planning on doing is taking all of those educational posts I was nominated for and sticking them in under the "guns, grunts, and gear" section:

Serious Chamberings for Serious Business
Less Lethal
The First Handgun
No Second Place Winner
Everything Old is New Again
The "Oh Shit" test of basic skills
Basic Ammo Questions - Part 1
What's Wrong with the 1911
So, you want to write about guns
Objects of Lust - Volume 1, Custom Auto Pistols
The Ultimate 1911
The SECOND Best .45 Auto
Building the "All-rounder"
Loooong Range Shooting
A Little More on the Logic of Chambering Selection
Magnum Opus
The Four Point Draw
Hard Parts
Good Triggers
Mixed Drill
The Golden Triangle
Why Bullpups are a Persistently BAD Idea
Enhanced Battle Rifle
Self Defense Stories
The Ultimate Road Trip - Part 1
Lies, Damned Lies, and Ballistics
The Right Weapon for the Job
Getting Down to Specifics
Why I Like the AR
The Myth of AR Unreliability
The Liability of Self Defense Gun Modification

Primers and Liability
How to Make a Glock not Suck
Framing the Issue
The Gift of a Knife

Oh and I'm thinking I need to add these posts to my various "best of" sections while I'm at it (these are the ones not specifically gun related). Oh and I'm thinkin I'll break out a new "rants" section in the best of me bit.

The 20 things I know about Kids
Right to Work
A Question from a Marine
Dominance and Submission
Shooting Cops
Authoritarian, Libertarian, Anarchist
It's NOT about Race - Part 1
It's NOT about Race - Part 2
Specialization is for Insects
Wal-Mart and the Free Market
At The Movies
Driving Through
Network Effects
In Memorian - The English Man
Who'da thunk it
Oral Sex, Pizza, and Documentation
Peer to Peer
Managing Cynicism
ANWR and the Automobile
Ignorant, Dumb, Stupid, Idiotic, Crazy, and Insane
Dumb Questions, and Ignorant Questions
Israel, Palestine, Terrorism, and Politics
Addiction and Manipulation
I don't really know what to say
Crime, Punishment, and Poverty
Expressions that Irritate Me
Going on the Pill
Nothing More, Nothing Less
What are your useful skills?
Fit, Fat, and Thermodynamics
Superiority Complex
Fusion, Will it EVER Happen?
Losing our Delusions

My Mothers Medical Saga

The REAL ER - Day 1
The REAL ER - Day 2
The REAL ER - Day 3
The REAL ER - She's Home
The REAL ER - Update
Back Again

I'mna put the whole stack of team infidel posts there under a separate heading as well.

Team Infidel
Team Infidel Rides Again (gun related)
This guy does HORRIBLE things to the Koran
Why did I do it?
Updates and Reactions
Far Fetched
Responding to Comments
Infidel Followup

So, that's my favorites list from the last year. If any of you have other favorites, let me know and I'll stick them on the side bar if I agree

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Another oh shit moment

My mother had another stroke on Tuesday.

She called me up this morning, AFTER she got home, and told me. Jesus christ; AFTER she got HOME. Of course my brother never bothered to call me.

They told her this time that it looks like the cancer has come back. It seems that she finally has the large, inoperable malignancy that they've all been worried about for years. She's going back for another MRI next week; but theres a lot of unexplained shadows; and the effects are exactly what they'd expect.

Worse, they actually KNOW she's had more aneurysms.

She's lost almost all her short term memory; she has a ten year memory hole (she doesn't remember her second marriage at all - which on balance isn't such a bad thing); her speech is seriously impaired, she's lost the ability to perform basic math, all control of her left hand, and most of her left leg...

As my regular readers know, she's been a pretty bad way for a long while; but now she's really getting ready for the end now. She's asked me to go through all her financials, insurance etc... and get things sorted.

So I brought Mel and the girls to meet her; and it was great. They all got on famously, my mom had some actual joy in her life for a few minutes. She loved the girls; she loved Mel. It was the happiest I've been in a hell of a long time.

Then of course my brother showed up.

Yeah that was fun.

It's not about Race

A frequent canard of black activists, liberal advocates, "justice" advocates etc... is that there are "sentencing disparities between powder and crack cocaine"; followed of course by "Clearly because crack is seen as a black drug, these harsher sentences must be racially motivated".

It is repeated so often that even some responsible conservatives (and a LOT of libertarians)who really should know better, think there is something there.

Only it's not true. In fact it's not even the slightest bit true.

It's not about race; it's about power, and control.

It is all predicated on a technical detail, that isoften overlooked; and that most don't understand even if they see it.

See, most people think you should sentence people based on the amount of drugs they have or are trying to sell etc... Which makes sense to a degree. Most people further assume that this amount is based on the number of doses of the drug. This is just intuitive on most folks part; because they think of "one pill, one dose" etc...

Here's the problem though; in this country, drug related sentencing is generally calculated based on the weight of the drug INCLUDING THE CARRIER; not by the dose.

By that I mean, the actual active ingredient of the drug is generally only a small part of the weight they charge you on, because the weight of all the inactive ingredients is counted as well.

If I mixed 7 grams of cocaine into 1 oz of baking soda, 1 oz of milk sugar; I would be charged as if I had 63 grams of cocaine (which would be a minimum 10 year sentence); even though there is only 7 grams of actual cocaine there.

So why are sentences for crack "so much higher" in comparison to powder?

Crack actually contains a relatively small amount of cocaine by weight, vs. powder cocaine, and the sentencing laws ONLY CONSIDER WEIGHT.

A person with a gram of coke, has maybe 4-6 doses (less for a heavy user); and 1-2 grams would be a typical days usage for a habitual user; with up to about 5 grams for the most serious users (Richard Pryor level).

A person with a 1 gram dime rock of crack cocaine has only about 1/8th to 1/4 gram of actual cocaine in it (there isn't a lot of consistency in dosage). A crack user will go through anywhere from 5 nickle rocks (1/16th to 1/8th gram of coke) to 10 solid rocks (a $20 2 gram or so rock with between 1/4 and 1/2 gram of actual coke) in a day (from $25 to $200) depending on how much they can buy; and how much tolerance they have built up (10 solid rocks in a day would probably kill a new user)

Thats as little 5/16 of a gram of coke, to maybe 5 grams; about the same as a days use of powder cocaine; but the total weight is from 2.5 to 20 grams.

The sentence is calculated on the total weight, therefore one days worth of crack is counted as anywhere from 2.5-20 times as much drug as one days worth of powder.

And you are sentenced as if you have 2.5 to 20 times as much of the drug.

Of course this doesnt just apply to cocaine.

No-one ever talks about sentencing disparity in LSD, which typicaly has a dosage of less 25 to 50 micrograms, which is one 2000th of a gram in weight; but which is often absorbed into tablets or a piece of heavy paper that may weigh more than a gram.

This means that someone who has five doses of LSD in 1 gram tablets is charged as if they had several hundred, to several thousand doses.

There are dozens of hippies serving 25 to life in prison right now for selling as little as 5 doses of LSD to DEA and FBI agents.

Then theres MDMA, which has the same issue.

It's not about race; it's about inflating the numbers of the drug enforcement agencies; and inflating the records of district attorneys. It's about power, money, and control; pure and simple.

Update: Reader Pete Guither, who runs the site DrugWarRant.com has this to say
"Interesting, but that has nothing to do with the sentencing disparities that most people refer to in comparing crack and powder.

The mandatory minimum sentencing laws established by Congress in 1986 reflect the belief that crack is more harmful than powder cocaine and penalize crack defendants more harshly than powder cocaine defendants. Defendants convicted of selling 500 grams of powder cocaine or five grams of crack cocaine receive five-year sentences. For five kilos of powder cocaine and 50 grams of crack, the penalty is 10 years. Thus there is a 100:1 ratio.

Simple possession of any quantity of powder cocaine by first-time offenders is considered a misdemeanor, punishable by no more than one year in prison. Simple possession of crack cocaine is a felony, carrying a five-year mandatory sentence."
Yes, I'm aware of (and strongly disagree with) the mandatory minimum sentencing laws; and the ridiculous overcharging under federal guidlines for crack vs. powder cocaine, and the ridiculous rationale behind it.

I still maintain, this has nothing to do with race; it is merely an extension (to even more ridiculous heights) of my argument. All mandatory drug sentencing is a power grab by U.S. attorneys and federal law enforcement; combined with populist pandering by our elected officials to seem "Tough on Crime".

For them, it's not about race either, it's about votes. Whatever gets them votes is what they'll do; unless they think they can get away with something else of course.

Have I mentioned that I love my country, but hate and fear my government?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

PDA preferences

Ok, my venerable Palm Tungsten T3 is dying (it's hard resetting, corrupting files, and the battery may last 8 hours, it may loast 40 minutes), succumbing to mobile bit rot I suppose.

Anyway, I NEED my pda for work; it's such a part of what I do that I don't want to go without one. I hate WinCE/Windows Mobile, and I've been on the Palm platform since the Palm IIIc.

I'd also like something that can play MP3's so as not to have to haul around an MP3 player; which means I need decent storage capacity with it. I figure a gig is enough, and changeable cards are OK , so either a good sized internal hard drive, or SD cards are necessary.

Finally, I need a good color screen, good battery life, bluetooth, and WiFi.

Palm currently offers two models that meet these specs, the Life drive, for $449 ($399 street):

and the Palm TX for $299 (about $270 street):

The life drive has all of what I listed as requirements, plus a 4 gig hard drive, a faster processor, and comes with more free software than the TX. It's a bit thicker than the TX, a bit heavier, and a bit more fragile.

The TX is lighter, thinner, a bit tougher, and has more user accessible RAM, plus it's around $150 cheaper.

Of course once you add in the cost of 4 gigs worth of memory cards, (2 gig cards are running $125 these days) the TX is MORE expensive than the lifedrive.

As near as I can tell, those are the only technical differences, so the question here is, which is the better value, which is the better PDA, and what are the caveats from actual users and owners?

I hear the first production run of life drives had HUGE problems, but the recenct production ones are much better. That said, I've never even seen one in the real world; whereas I have seen a few folks with the Palm TX's.

Also isn't the lifedrive due for a model update/replacement? The TX is a pretty new model.

Anyone out there have anything to share?

Serious Chamberings, for Serious Purposes

So, once again, the question is asked "What caliber should my first defensive handgun be"...

Oh boy...

Since we aren't supposed to talk about politics and religion in polite company; that can be a difficult question to answer, but what the hell, I'll give it a shot...

Ooooh sorry about the bad pun, it was entirely unintentional.

Where to begin...

Well, basically you've got two categories of commonly commercially available defensive chamberings, one for revolvers, and one for auto pistols (with some limited crossover).

Theres a fair but limited selection of choices within those categories; each appropriate to a different situation, or a different weapon.

What are the factors to consider, leaving out the choice of a particular weapon?

1. Wounding capability: Tied for the most important factor in choosing a defensive caliber is it's wounding capability. The more effective the caliber, the better it is right? Well, yes, up to a point; because it has to be balanced with the other factors, or else we'd all be shooting 10mm and .44 magnum.

2. Shootability: The other half of the tie with wounding capability; if you can't shoot it well, it doesn't matter how good the chambering is at wounding. Misses don't count for half points when you are defending your life.

Some folks can eat the recoil of a .44 mganum or full power 10mm all day long; some have trouble with the 9mm. Also, some chamberings are inherently more or less accurate and precise than others.

Oh, and the next factor (packability) makes a big difference in shootability, so you need to take that into consideration as well when making your choices.

3. Packability: The size of the cartridge, and of the gun, effect how likely you are to have the weapon with you when you need it. Generally speaking, the bigger the cartridge, the bigger the gun; or the fewer rounds it can hold.

If your only defensive need is a bedside gun, than get the biggest thing you're comfortable with (both in caliber and in gun size), because it will be more effective, and probably shoot easier (the extra weight). If packability wernet a primary consideration, no-one would shoot anything smaller than .45acp. If on the other hand you are in Arizona in summer or carrying concealed to the beach... well lets just say Kel-Tec is successful for a reason.

4. Ease of acquisition: I'll say this right now, and a lot of folks may disagree with me (but most of them have their own reloading bench and know how to use it); if you can't buy at least one decent loading of the caliber at your local WalMart (assuming you live in a free state), you shouldn't consider that cartridge for a defensive weapon. By the same token if there arent at least a few guns in the chambering in your local gun store, I wouldn't even consider it.

Also, there have to be sufficient defensive loads available for the weapon so that you can find one it likes; and so that you have an option to buy it at all when it comes time. In a lot of less common calibers you will only find practice ammo (white box hardball and cheapo JHP)

For example, I think the .32 H&R magnum could be a great defensive cartridge; because it's relatively powerful but can be chambered in a remarkably small revolver (because it's a very long and skinny case). Unfortunately I wouldn't recommend it to anyone as their primary defensive choice; because you are going to have a hard time finding ANY ammo for it, never mind decent defensive ammo, at a local store.

5. Cost of ammunition: If ammo is cheap, you will practice more. If you practice more you will shoot better. Conversely if ammo is expensive, you will shoot less. WAY less. That is self evidently a bad thing.

So, given these factors, what chamberings do I think people should generally consider?

Defensive Auto-pistol Chamberings
.22 lr: There are a few things that make the .22lr a serious consideration
  • First of all it's tiny; in fact it's the smallest commonly available caliber (well, other than .22 short). That means you can have a very small gun that can tuck in almost anywhere, and still carry a lot of cartridges.
  • Second, it's VERY easy and fun to shoot. More fun, means more practice.
  • Third, it's very very CHEAP to shoot. Cheaper ammo means more practice
No, I'm not going to recommend this be your only defensive handgun chambering, but it's not something you should discount completely either. If nothing else it is absolutely the best practice weapon, and about the most fun. You learn more basic shooting technique firing 500rds of .22 than you do 50 rds of 9mm for the same price (yes, that's how cheap .22lr is).

The trick with using a .22 as a defensive chambering is this: Pick a gun with a big magazine, always have it with you, when you have to use it, empty it into the scumbags face from 5 feet away, then run as fast as you can.

.380ACP: Much like the .22, the .380 is small. It's not the smallest commonly available centerfire pistol round (that distinction falls to the .25acp - which is less powerful than the .22 magnum, and only slightly more powerful than the .22lr - don't even consider it), but it's the smallest round that has useful and effective defensive ammunition commonly available for it.

With modern bullet technology, in a high pressure loading, the .380 can be more effective than 9mm hardball, and almost as effective as 9mm hollowpoints (at least at short range anyway. The .380 is a 5-7 yard cartridge as far as I'm concerned).

As with the .22, being small means you can have a small pistol wrapped around it. My backup/pants pocket gun is a KelTec P3AT in .380, and it's smaller than my wallet (and weighs less). It goes into my pants in the morning, comes out when I get ready for bed; and I ALWAYS HAVE IT.

The most effective gun in the world is useless if you don't have it with you.

The downsides? Well .380 is less effective than just about every other centerfire chambering. Also, it can be a handful in most of the small guns chambered for it; especially since most of them are straight blowback designs.

Also, they are making 9mm pistols as small as most .380s these days (though generally not as small as the KelTec), so if you don't need a pants pocket gun, one of the ultra mini 9mm offerings may be a better choice. The Smallest Kahr 9mm is only slightly bigger than my Kel-Tec (about 1/2" taller, the same length, but twice the weight) and the new (and incredibly expensive and impossible to get) Rohrbaugh is almost the same size (1/4" taller, same length, and 50% heavier).

9x19: This is the "default" defensive choice for the majority of the worlds military forces, (including our own, for now), and the most common chambering of any certerfire handgun outside the U.S. (here it's .45acp, and 9mm is second).

The 9mm is a small, relatively high pressure, relatively high velocity loading. It's chambered in just about evrey size and weight of handgun from tiny pocket guns (like the Rohrbaugh), to full size 18 shot bullet hoses like the Glock 17.

9mm is generally considered the easiest "full power" cartridge to shoot, having mild recoil and report even in snappier loadings. In a full size pistol, the hottest 9mm loads are far easier to shoot than a compact .380 (and of course that fullsize pistol holds a lot of them).

With modern bullet technology the 9mm is a decent stopper; and is ideally matched to the more compact designs like the Kahr K9 that I carry regularly. I love the gun, and with the right +p hollowpoints I dont feel underarmed.

If you're going to go with a full sized gun however, you might as well step up to a more effective caliber. There's no reason to choose 18 rounds of 9mm over 16 rounds of .40S&W (or .357 sig) or 13 rounds of .45acp.

Also, it's important to note that the performance of 9mm's is predicated on a modern premium expanding bullet. If those are unavailable to you (if you're a soldier shooting at an organized enemy, or if you live in New Jersey for example) or if the bullets fail to expand (which happens a lot), that performance goes out the window, and the 9mm is not much more effective than the .380.

Oh and one of the biggest advantages of the 9mm is that it is the cheapest and most available centerfire chambering to shoot, because of the mass popularity of 9mm around the world. EVERY shop that sells centerfire pistol ammo, anywhere in the world, will have 9mm (this is not always the case with .45 outside the U.S.).

.357SIG: The .357 sig is an attempt to get .357 magnum ballistics into a medium sized auto-pistol frame; and it has been mostly successful at doing to. The .357sig takes a 9mm bullet (which can be the same size as the .38spl and .357 magnum bullets), and necks down a .40s&w case to hold it. Then they turn the pressure up; and in the top end loads, the chambering approaches the power of the .357 magnum, which is historically the most effective defensive pistol caliber in civilian use.

Sounds great, why isn't every gun made in .357 sig? Well, you are cramming a pretty hot round, into a medium sized gun, and that has some side effects:
  • It's VERY snappy. Some people have a problem with the recoil
  • It's VERY loud. Lots of powder, high pressure, high velocity, big muzzle blast etc...
  • It's a lot harder on guns than either the 9mm and the .40S&W
Generally speaking the guns that are chambered in .357sig are converted from designs intended to fire the .40S&W, a much lower pressure round. In many cases those .40s&w guns were just scaled up 9mms to begin with. So yes, some guns have a problem with the SIG.

Personally I LIKE the recoil of the .357SIG, because it's a fast recoiling round, which allows for a faster recovery for follow on shots; and also allows for better doubletaps.

Also, I don't buy low quality guns, or poorly designed ones. If you stick with new production SIG, Glock, HK, Springfield, Beretta, and Taurus; you shouldn't have any kind of problem there. You MIGHT be a bit wary about used guns in this chambering though.

The biggest disadvantage to the round as I see it, is that the .357sig isn't as widely available as the other chamberings listed here, and is generally a LOT more expensive.

.40 S&W: The .40 S&w was an outgrowth of the 10mm cartridge. When the 10mm was initially developed as a combat round for the FBI, many agents found that it had more recoil than they wanted to handle on a regular basis. Also, the armorers found that it was harder on their chosen guns (the first generation of S&W's 1006) than they wanted. The FBI then requested that a less powerful loading of the 10mm be developed for general duty use.

Well, S&W, Remington, Winchester, and Norma all noticed that they could shorten the case quite a bit, and still give the same performance of the reduced power 10mm load; in a smaller and lighter pistol, at lower cost.

If that seems like a pretty good idea, it is. The .40s&w has taken off like a rocket, and is now the second most popular chambering for police agencies behind the 9mm. Correspondigly, it is also very popular with defensive pistol shooters; because it offers a very good balance between power, control, and overall size.

The .40 can be fit into pistols that are designed for the size of the 9mm, if they are just a bit overbuilt (like Glocks and Kahrs), or with a little internal re-inforcement; but it gives you a significantly more powerful, and more effective cartridge. Better, you generally only lose a single round capacity (sometimes two) moving from the 9mm to .40.

The only major issue that .40 seems to have is that some pistols that were scaled up from 9mm weren't properly strengthened for the higher pressures (the same problem 10mm and .357SIG have, but to a lesser degree).

A minor issue is that .40s&w isn't as inherently accurate as 9mm, 10mm, or .45acp; but at defensive ranges this doesnt make much difference.

Also, the anti-Glockers will get bitchy if I don't mention this, but some have found that Glocks .40 chambers are a bit too loose, and contribute to case head separation or case splitting in +p rounds, or in reloaded rounds. This can cause your pistol to go Kaboom! which is of course a very bad thing; but I don't think the problem is unique to Glock, and it is almost always overstated by the anti-Glock folks.

10mm: The 10mm was originally developed as a high end combat and competition pistol round, to rival the medium magnum revolver chamberings in an auto pistol.

Full power 10mm is roughly comparable in energy to the .41 magnum (which is roughly the same size); and has proven to be a very effective wounding round. In fact it is powerful enough to take medium to large deer.

Of course that power comes at a price. The FBI's complaints about the 10mm were overblown, but there IS an issue with a lot of users, and a lot of guns. The 10mm is a handful, especially if you prefer "slow push" type recoil. The 10mm's recoil signature is very snappy, and very fast.

Which of course means I love it. I can recover very rapidly with the 10mm, and drill two very tightly spaced and very destructive holes in my target very quickly.

The other contention... well there's no way around that. The 10mm is HARD on guns. Other than the Glock 20, which is one of the toughest handguns ever built, just about every 10mm autopistol will eventually crack, and long before the same pistol would in other chamberings.

The slide velocities and momentum generated tend to just batter the heck out of the guns, generally necessitating some kind of recoil buffering mechanism to ensure the pistol doesn't crack into peices prematurely.

In particular, 1911 based 10mm designs seem to have the worst difficulties. I don't know if that's just because they are the most common 10mm platforms; or if it is something in the design interacting with the cartridge (I suspect it's some of both); but EVERY 10mm 1911 I've ever seen, shot etc... will fail a hell of a lot sooner than the same weapon in .45acp or even .45 super.

There is one more issue; the 10mm is EXPENSIVE. In fact it's generally about TWICE the cost of the next major caliber, the .45acp. Again that means less shooting, and less shooting is bad.

.45acp (and super): The .45acp is the most popular centerfire handgun cartridge in the United states, and the second most popular world wide. There are more guns chambered in .45 here in the U.S. than any other centerfire caliber, and I suspect more than all of the other chamberings combined (with the exception of 9mm).

There's three reasons for that.

1. Tradition
2. The 1911 auto pistol
3. Because it really is just that good

To my mind, the only better defensive auto pistol chambering than the .45 (even including .45 super) is the 10mm; and the 10 has a lot of issues that the .45 does not.

The .45 is a relatively mild recoiling cartrdige; with a high overall recoil energy in comparison to smaller calibers, but a far less sharp, and more diffused "slow push" impulse; that makes the .45 easier to shoot for many, than other chamberings of comparable energy and wounding potential.

It's a relatively heavy (almost twice the weight of a 9mm), relatively slow (30% or more slower than the 9mm), and very big around bullet (about 40% larger diameter than the 9mm). Basically it makes big holes, and doesn't beat up your hand, or the gun, to do so.

Because the .45 is relatively mild, it can also be chambered and handled in guns smaller than the 10mm can be; and in fact not much larger than the .40S&W. For example, I personally carry a Glock 36 frequently. The G36 is the smallest .45 pistol that I'd want to shoot with any regularity, and it can be a handful with +p loads. It's a bit chunky, but VERY compact, and with a finger grip extension (I have very big hands) it's not too bad to handle. Shooting it with standard pressure loads is comparable to shooting my KelTec with the high pressure Winchesters. This is appropriate because both guns share the same philosophy: put the most destructive power in the smallest possible package.

The .45acp is available in a wide variety of loadings, from the marginally powerful reduced recoil rounds (650-850fps at 185-230 grains), to standard hardball (230gr at 850fps), all the way up to +p+ defensive screamers (up to 1150fps at 200gr). Additionally, many .45acp guns can also chamber the .45 super, which is dimensionally identical to the acp, but uses a different case, and is loaded to a MUCH higher pressure, velocity, and energy (200gr at up to 1350fps for example).

Unlike the 9mm, which depends on expanding hollowpoint ammunition for it's effectivenes, .45 is reasonably effective in hardball loadings. Not that those would be my choice, but if you are loading hollowpoints and they fail; the unexpanded .45 is going to be almost as big as a fully expanded 9mm; and generate wounds accordingly. When the hollowpoints perform as designed, that hole is obviosly a hell of a lot bigger.

The .45 is also a relatively inexpensive round. Though certainly much more expensive than .9mm, it is generally less expensive than the other centerfire choices listed here. Less expensive, more shooting, good thing etc...

Finally, this isn't related directly to the cartridge itself; but the pistol design most strongly associated with .45acp is the 1911, a pistol that most expert handgunners regard as the best autopistol design of all time (though certainly not without it's flaws). Even the ones that do not, respect it for the excellent weapon that it is.

The only bad thing about the .45, other than some folks not liking the recoil (this is usually a psychological "it's big and scary" issue, but some folks jsut dont like the "big slow push" of the .45 and prefer lighter and snappier), is that it IS a big, and heavy round. That means pistols designed for it, no matter how tightly shrunk, will always be larger than most of the other cartridges mentioned here.
Auto-pistol Reccomendations:

I'll say it right now, I almost always recommend the .45 acp as the proper primary defensive autopistol cartridge, whether you are beginner or expert. It is the perfect balance of power and control; it's cheap, it's available everywhere, and there are any number of excellent gun choices for it.

As a beginner, the only time I'd recommend something else, is if you can't handle the recoil of the .45 (go to a 9mm), or if you can't conceal a pistol that you are comfortable shooting in .45.

That last one is why I have my Kahr (9mm), and my Kel-Tec( .380), because even a big guy like me needs a smaller gun for lighter clothes. My G36 is pretty small, but it's still too bulky to wear without a covering garment. I can carry the Kahr K9 (and if I had the K40 it's the same size) with a bloused shirt and have it be near invisible; and the KelTec in my back pocket.

And of course, there's always the 1911. I have a couple, I love them. My personal preference is the commander size, which I have no problem concealing with a covering garment, and which balances for me better than almost any other handgun. Lots of people love them, have no problem carrying them etc... but lots of other people DO have a problem carrying them.

For beginners who don't want a .45 for whatever reason (and there are certainly valid reasons no matter what .45 bigots say), I usually recommend they go down to the .40. There are plenty of excellent pistols available in this chambering, in every size from ultra compact to full size. Bascially every design made in 9mm, except the very smallest and lightes, and some of the cheapest; is made in .40.

Now, if you are an expert shooter, then I can't recommend the 10mm, and the .357SIG highly enough. I'm not saying I recommend them over the .45; but I'll put the 10mm right there, and the .357sig only slightly below (it would be my choice for anything smaller than .45).

In particular, the .357 sig in the SIG 229 (or a similar sized pistol from Glock or HK whcih may be jsut as good) is one of the finest and most effective ways of defending yourself I have ever owned; and I recommend it unreservedly.

I don't have a particular 10mm recommendation, because unfortunately so many 10mm pistols have had so many problems. A good custom 1911 or a glock 20 are about the best ways to go, and both are excellent pistols; but it's just something you have to try for yourself. I know one guy who swears by his Glock 29, but I'm not sure I'd want to shoot full bore 10mm through somethign so small, and if you arent going to the full bore, why not just shoot .45 (thus my G36, which is 1/4" taller, but 1/4" thinner and 6oz lighter - though it only holds six to the 10mms ten)

Oh and the 10mm and .357 sig both have one slight advantage over the 45acp (though the super can have the same advantage). They both penetrate soft and medium cover (including soft body armor at close range shooting hardball) very well. The slower moving, wider .45 is more likely to slow down or flatten out. Of course that also means the 10 and SIG are more likely to overpenetrate; but there aint no such thing as a free lunch.

Defensive Revolver Chamberings

.22lr: All of the same arguments apply here as with autopistols; except that you usually have a somewhat reduced capacity, in exchange for even smaller size with a .22 revolver. For example, North American Arms line of mini-revolvers is so small, you can wear them as jewlery, conceal them in a cell phone case etc...

.22 magnum: The .22 magnum is actually only slightly less effective as a defensive cartridge than the .380 acp; and is far more effective than the .25acp.

Generally regarded as a small game or small varmint round for rifles; in a mini revolver it can be a useful defensive round. Even better, they are only jsut a little bit bigger than a .22lr revolver. In fact, many of the small revolvers (again like the NAAs) have interchangeable cylinders for .22 magnum and .22lr.

Unfortunately it's not generally available in small autopistols, because it's a much higher pressure round that doesn't cycle well in the straight blowback actions used by most .22lr auto pistols. This means that a pistol manufacture would need to make a new, stronger, and more expensive to produce design, jsut for a pistol that will almost certainly be less popular than the .22lr option... well lets just say it's obvious why most manufacturers don't bother.

That's ok, it jsut leaves more .22mag for revolver shooters.

Oh and as a bonus, .22 magnum (also called .22wmr) is still cheaper than most centerfire ammunition as well; though not as cheap as .22lr.

.38spl: .38 special is the oldest defensive centerfire cartridge (the .22lr is even older) we're considering; being an outgrowth of a blackpowder pistol cartidge from 1884. The .45lc is older, dating to 1873, but it wasn't loaded in it's modern form until the 'teens; and the modern .38spl cartidge dates from 1902. The .38spl really came into it's own however after WW1; when it became the dominant chambering for police issue revolvers.

The .38spl is a long, medium bore, low pressure round; and delivers a light-medium weight bullet at low velocity. As such, it's extremely pleasant and comfortable to shoot; even in some of the smallest revolvers.

It's also available in a VERY wide variety of loadings, from cowboy loads that recoil barely more than a .22 in a full sized revolver, and are less powerful than a .380acp; all the way up to +p+ defensive loads that are more effective than most 9mm loadings.

.38spl has the additional advantage that a gun chambered in .357 magnum, can fire the .38spl; because the magnum is just a stretched and uploaded .38 (the reverse is not true).

Given this, my general recommendation to beginning defensive handgunners is that they purchase a .357 magnum chambered pistol, and shoot mostly .38spl through it.

One more thing, .38spl is CHEAP. It's the only other centerfire caliber that can be as cheap (and in some cases even chaper, though that's rare) as 9mm.

.357 magnum: As mentioned above, the .357 magnum is an outgrowth (literally, it's about 1/5" longer) of the .38spl.

.357 is historically the most effective defensive cartridge in civilian use. It seems to be the sweet spot between usable power, and overpenetration. By this I mean that it's the most powerful chambering that will generally fully expend it's energy in the intended target without overpenetration (though the 10mm is a bit more powerful, and only very slightly more likely to overpenetrate).

Also as mentioned above, guns chambered in .357 magnum can also shoot .38spl, which cannot be overstated as an advantage. .357 magnum ammo is fairly expensive, but .38spl is dirt cheap.

The .357 is chambered in a wide variety of guns, from the ultra small (10 oz) 5 shot S&W scandiums, compact 5-shots like the SP101, medium frame 6-shots from every manufacturer, all the way up to the 8 shot large frames from S&W, Taurus, and others. You will always be spoiled for choice with the .357

The same applies for loadings. The .357 magnum is probably supplied with more effective defensive loadings than any other caliber, and in this I include 9mm and .45acp; because there are a lot of hunting loads that also make excellent defensive loads.

Basically there are only two disadvantages to the .357. One, it is a serious magnum pistol round, which means it's a fairly hard recoiling round. In the smaller pistols it can be quite unpleasant to shoot. This however is offset by the ability to fire .38spl through it. Two, .357 ammo is NOT CHEAP; but again, that is offset by .38spl.

Honestly, the .357 is just about the best defensive chambering there is; and I'd say it absolutely is the best in revolvers (the 10mm is slightly more effective, but also has alot more disadvantages). There are certainly more damaging calibers, but none have the balance of benefits with the lack of drawbacks of the .357, revolver or auto pistol

10mm: There are a number of revolvers available chambered for the 10mm; and they have all the benefits and drawbacks of the 10mm in auto pistols but for one. The 10mm revolvers are stronger than hell, and there is no need to worry about the gun dying a premature death.

Oh, and some find that 10mm's recoil is more manageable in the revolvers chambered for it. That also means you can use more powerful loadings of it should you so desire, without as much difficulty in handling.

.44 magnum (and spl) : Great round. Love it. Very Powerful. Great guns chambered for it...

Don't bother unless you are an expert, or a handgun hunter. Gun shops used to be full of used .44 mganums that were shot once and then sold because the owner didn't know what they were getting into.

We call it the "Dirty Harry" effect.

Oh and the reason I say "used to be full of"? Because after a while, the gun makers made a hell of a lot less of them; because folks just weren't buying all that many new ones. As cool and as great as they are, they are a very specialized weapon, with a fairly limited audience; and that audience has been very well supplied with used models fired once and then sold.

The .44 magnum is a chambering that should only be selected for defensive purposes by handloaders, who can download the cartridge to more appropriate power levels; or wilderness hikers who need the protection from dangerous animals.

Because of it's size and power it is generally only chambered in large, heavy guns; and the few exceptions are so violent to shoot that they are 100% experts only weapons.

The one mitigation to this is that guns chambered for the .44 magnum can load the .44 special (again, as with .38spl the reverse is not true); which is chambered in a number of nice medium framed five shot revolvers. It is an EXCELLENT defensive round, and is not much more difficult to handle than a +p .45acp.

That said, both .44 magnum, and .44spl are ridiculously expensive; the only way they are affordable to shoot is if you hand load.

.45 acp: As with the 10mm, there are several revolvers chambered to accept .45acp. This has all the attendant advantages of the .45 as described above; and really no disadvantage; at least in the available large frame revolvers.

The recoil of +p+ .45acp through a 4" S&W 625 (which I keep as my bedside gun) is as mild as standard pressure .45 through my commander (though the muzzle blast is impressive). Even .45 super loads (which the 625 is more than strong enough for) are relatively mild.

.45lc (and .454 casull): .45 colt, also called .45lc is a very effective cartridge. It is the cartirdge that most people associate with the old west, but since the 1870s it has been modernized significantly (around the WW1 timeframe it was completely converted to modern smokeless powder loadings) ; and is now one of the most effective handgun rounds available.

It's available in loads from just above .38spl power levels (cowboy .45lc loads); all the way up to massive hunting rounds, really designed to be fired from rifles. In that range are some remarkably effective defensive loadings, with a huge variety of different bullet types and designs (the .45lc is a relaoders dream in terms of options).

With Taurus chambering some gorgeous light weight mid-sized titanum revolvers in .45lc, this cartridge is a very serious consideration for winter carry, open carry, wilderness carry etc... S&W is also producing on a limited basis it's 625 revolver in .45lc; and I can't tell you how much I want one.

The .45lc is also a reasonbly priced round; with bulk ammo available for quite a bit less than the price of .44 magnum; though of course much more expensive than .38spl. Defensive ammo can be expensive of course, but you arent going to be shooting all that much of it in comparison to the bulk practice loads.

The .454 casull is lengthened and strengthened .45lc; and it's my personal favorite big bore handgun cartridge; because it give you the option of one of the most powerful handgun rounds there is, but also lets you download to .45lc for practice and potentially carry.

The only problem is, most .454 guns are pretty heavy; and they need to be to handle the power of the cartridge. That said, if you live in bear country I can't imagine a better defensive revolver than the Ruger Alaskan. It may be a handful and a half, but when you need it, you REALLY need it.

Taurus is also producing some smaller .454 guns; and I expect other manufacturers will follow suit.
Revolver Reccomendations:

Well I really think that everyone who owns a handgun should have a medium frame .357 revolver (and a .22 practice pistol). Seriously, it should be a law that every homeowner is issued one of each along with their mortgage.

There is no better balance between capability, shootability, cost etc... than in the .357. The only downside being the medium and large frame revolvers that are more comfortable to shoot it in, aren't very packable. Of course for that we have the ultrasmall titanium pieces; but there is no doubt those are expert only guns.

As to the others, well they are all excellent choices; but I can't say as I'd recommend them as a first defensive handgun.

That said, honestly, I dont think any of the centerfires are a bad choice, except for the .44 magnum, which some folks love; but which is better suited to experts, and to handgun hunting.

The one caveat to that, is that even if you intend on shooting only .38spl, that you buy a gun chambered for .357 magnum. It will be stronger, and give you that extra option in case you ever need it.

Oh and I suppose I should mention the .41 magnum here - because if I don't the rabid partisans of the round will string me up; though I didn't in the listings above. It's an excellent defensive chambering; with loadings from the low 10mm range (.41 special), all the way up to the low .44 magnum range. The problem is, it's almost completely unavailable for anyone other than handloaders (who tend to love it with a passion, go figure); and it's only chambered in the same size guns as the .44 mag; with no particular advantage over it.

The 10mm... well as I said, I love the cartridge, but I don't see any particular advatage to it in a revolver over a .41 magnum or even a .44 special; except that it can be ammo compatible with your 10mm auto-pistol (and if you're lucky your 10mm carbine).

In the same vein, .45acp revolvers are a great thing. I love mine, I highly recommend them; the only issue is, you can get the more effective .45lc in a gun the same size (though again, if you have other guns in .45acp, the ammo commonality is great). The .45lc is only chambered in larger guns, but if you're going to keep it at home, or take it out in the woods with you; I think it's a near ideal choice.

Next holy war, which to choose revolver or autopistol....

The River Dog writes an excellent piece on first handgun selection to tie into this one. Oh and yes, as the man says, this article is a bit long (about 6000 words - it took me about 8 hours two write it), and can be a bit much to absorb all at once.

Love Monkey - A Thumbnail review

First thought: From the commercials I thought I was going to hate it. I actually kinda liked it.

Before you watch this show, go read Nick Hornbys "High Fidelity" or at the very least watch the far inferior (though still good) Cusack movie based on it.

Read or seen it now? Good.

Now take that, dial it back about 50%.

By this I mean pull out the dark sarcasm, obscure cultural references, depression, and obsession; and replace them with witty snarkiness, sardonic and self deprecating humor, quick snap oneliners, less obscure cultural references, and take monologue as dialogue device back about 50% . Take the characters we love to hate, and make them likable and quirky. Then push everyone about 50% higher on the economic scale, and move it to New York (with all the "inside NYC" that goes with that).

Yep, that's the show.
From my thumbnail you would think it would suck; but actually it's not bad. Decent comic acting, great prodcution values, good timing and rhythm... overall a decent show.

Will I watch it again? Sure, if I remember to bother. Still, it's a lot better than most mid-season replacement type shows.

Last nights menu

Just had to share last nights dinner menu.

We did 10oz filets, pan broiled in a little bacon grease; and a prosciutto chicken and parmagian tortellini pasta salad with diced cherry tomatos, cucumbers, and a bacon dressing (pan drippings, white whine - just to deglaze -, balsamic vinegar, crumbled smoked applewood bacon, cream, ground mustard, crushed black pepper).

Oh and a bit of turtle cake for dessert.

Unintended consequences

I LOVE this site http://www.turnleft.com/geo.html

Yes folks, it's a list of cities you may want to visit and live in; because liberals hate them.

Unfortunately the entry for Phoenix is way out of date; but hey, I like the idea anyway.

Oh and yes, obviously it was intended to be the opposite; but I say, USE the idiots efforts against themselves. It's the Jiu Jitsu way after all.

Point a gun at a cop, get shot. That's the way it is

A few days ago a kid decided to commit suicide by cop. He got what was either a pellet gun, or an airsoft gun (it's no clear from the stories), brings it to school and holds his classroom hostage with it.

The kid eventually deliberately corners himself in a bathroom, holds the gun to his neck, and says "I'm going to kill myself, or I'm going to die" then points the gun at a Sherrifs Deputy, who very rightly shoots him.

The next day there was grumbling in the Florida legislature that a law should be introduced making it a felony to disguise the bright orange markers used on toy guns (which is why I'm confused as to whether the pellet gun was an airsoft, or one of the various realistic simulation .177 or BB guns).

I don't know if the cartoon above is true; but honestly it would surprise me if it wasn't


Here's the deal. Cops have three things on their mind when going into a situation like this, in order of priority.


2. Make sure any bystanders get out ok

3. Resolve the situation, hopefully without the subject harming themselves

If you point a weapon, or anything that looks like a weapon; at a cop, or at ME for that matter; YOU WILL BE SHOT.

Take a look at this gun here, which is either the model he used, or something VERY similar:

Theres an unstable kid, he's got that in his hand, he's taken hostages, he says he wants to die. You're scared, you don't want to get hurt, you dont want the kid to hurt anyone else, or himself; then he does it; he points that thing at you.

What would you do?

There is no question, nor should there ever be any question; if you point that gun at someone who has a gun, you WILL BE SHOT.

This is one more reason why you should follow the four rules at all times, unless you are using a clearly marked demonstrator; even when you know the weapon is safe.

Now, becaues this kid couldn't deal with his frustrations (and believe me, I know how bad they can be); this officers life and career is certainly going to be severely disrupted for at least a year; and may possibly be ruined completely. Never mind his conscience after finding out it was just a pellet gun, or even worse, an airsoft gun.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I actually own one very similar to this..

I even made a few of them for friends etc... I used to do some interesting wood, metal, and leather crafts, from armor to fetish gear.

You're a Braided Australian Cat. No nonsense, and you take no prisoners. Small children cry when they see you, and you like it like that.
You're a Braided Australian Cat. No nonsense, and
you take no prisoners. Small children cry when
they see you, and you like it like that.

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Think Maybe He's on to Something Here?

I really like Jeff Jacobys writing, and stuff like this is why:
Maybe fewer and fewer people want to call Massachusetts home not because of its oppressive winters but because of its oppressive and demoralizing political culture. In the state that produced Michael S. Dukakis and Sen. Kerry, the concerns of ordinary citizens are so often met with disdain, while the political class lets nothing get in the way of its own appetites and priorities. A state legislature that stays in session year-round? A supreme court that turns same-sex marriage into a constitutional right? Public ''authorities" that answer to no one? In most of America, no way. In Massachusetts, no problem.

On Beacon Hill last week, the big issue for Massachusetts lawmakers was whether tuition should be reduced for illegal aliens at the state's public colleges. On Capitol Hill, the senior senator from Massachusetts was busy implying that Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. is a racist and a liar. Is it such a stretch to imagine that an awful lot of Americans look at Massachusetts and think: How can people stand to live there? Or that a fair number of Massachusetts residents eventually decide that they can't stand to live here?
HT: Kim

Massachusetts isn't quite completely insane yet

Just mostly. Every once in a while the one party system democrats remember that if they do something, the populace won't vote for them; no matter HOW many patronage jobs they can bring back to their districts.

Check this lovely bit of prose from human events:

In addition to being perhaps the most liberal state in America, Massachusetts is occupied by a surprisingly large number of illegal aliens, who are every bit as vocal as their handlers have trained them to be.

And then there is the Massachusetts legislature to consider. Of the 160 state representatives, a whopping 20 are Republicans. Yup. You read that correctly. If you think a two-party system is frustrating, you should try dealing with a one party system. And just as one might expect of a system in which few representatives will ever face a viable challenger, the legislature of Massachusetts is not very responsive to the concerns of its voters.

So the only question was whether the bill would pass by a large enough margin to override a promised veto from Republican Gov. Mitt Romney, who functions as a sort of living insurance policy to keep the 87% Democrat legislature from entirely seceding from the United States and joining Communist Cuba.

For those opposed to the bill, the weeks before the vote were thus a little like the last moments before a car crash: you’ve obviously lost control of the car and now you just have to watch in slow motion to see exactly how hard you’re going to hit the tree.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Google does MLK

I kinda dig that...

Actually, I'm not a big fan of MLK day. No doubt King was a great man, but I do somewhat object to him being elevated over so many of our founding fathers. It would seem to me that if we are going to have a national holiday named for a person, there are more important people than King.

How about we celebrate Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson individually rahter than just the generic "presidents day" (we USED to celebrate both Washington and Lincoln, but it was combined in '71. Oh and I should note, I don't care for Columbus day either; but that's another argument).

It seems to me that King was chosen to be the token representation of "black achievement" to make a holiday for; and I find that to be disrespectful of King, disrespectufl of the achievements he is supposed to represent, and disrespectful of all of us.

In particular, I find the notion of special holidays for black, white, woman, man, whatever, to be offensive. Black history monthshould be offensive to both blacks and whites as far as I'm concerned.

We take all of the legacy of civil rights, and we squeeze it down into one day? We take all the legacy and culture of the black man in america and squeeze it into one month?

There's somethign wrong there.

Remember King by his words, not by his observed birthday:

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity. But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free.

One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.

So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition. In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.

This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.

So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights.

The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges. But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. we must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" we can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring." And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"