Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine. A police officer, working in the small town that he lives in, focusing on family and shooting and coffee, and occasionally putting some people in jail.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Doctor's appointment.

Got the sniffles or a chest infection? Go to the doctor. (G.P.)

Got a skin infection? Go to the doctor. (Dermatologist.)

Got a broken bone or a torn ACL? Go to the doctor. (Orthopedic surgeon.)

Got a heart problem? Go to the doctor. (Cardiologist.)

Got diabetes? Go to the doctor. (Endocrinologist.)

Got cancer? Go to the doctor. (Oncologist.)

Got female troubles? Go to the doctor. (OB/GYN)

And on and on and on

So what's with the stigma, when someone gets the psychiatric equivalent of the sniffles, with going to the doctor? (Psychiatrist.)

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Hurt feelings

I've cut him breaks before.

I've counseled him before.

I've dropped by his house and checked on his status, before.

On this particular night, I had to pull him over again.

And he lied to me.

And I told him I had caught him.

And he lied to me again.

And I told him that I had caught him, and gave him another chance.

And he lied to me again, and threw his friends under the bus.

And I arrested him. Gently.

And I took him to the P.D. Carefully.

And I sat him down without cuffs. Unsafely.

And I read him his rights. Dutifully.

And I asked him to write me a statement. Dutifully.

And he threw his friends and family under the bus. Legibly.

And I witnessed his signature to his confession. Dutifully.

And I began the book-in paperwork. Stolidly.

And he began to complain. Childishly.

And I continued with the paperwork, moving on to his PC affidavit. Studiously.

And he continued to complain. Viciously.

And I continued to write his rather lengthy PC affidavit. Doggedly.

And he began to hurl insults. Personally.

And I placed him in handcuffs. Safely.

And he continued to spit personal insults. Vitriolically.

And I called for another officer to join me. Blandly.

And he proceeded to come up with new attacks. Ichorously.

And the other officer arrived. Dutifully.

And the prisoner attacked him. Verbally.

And the officer engaged. Verbally.

And I intervened. Peacefully.

And I calmed the boy down. Reasonably.

And I turned back to my paperwork. Haggardly.

And he began the verbal abuse again. Insistently.

And he made veiled comments about our personal lives. Threateningly.

And I warned him not to say anything that could get him in trouble. Evenly.

And he calmed right down. Temporarily.

And he cast wild aspersions about our character. Blindly.

And we chuckled about the inaccuracy. Wryly.

And I transferred him to the transport officer. Gladly.

And I buckled him into the cruiser. Carefully.

And I wished him good luck. Sincerely.

And I clocked out, went home, and drank a beer. Unhappily.

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Thursday, February 28, 2008


It's not a very big number.

It is, however, the number of days that I've been married.

45.8% of all marriages in this country end in divorce.

Probably a number exceeding the 4.2% remaining to make up a half are estranged or Not Doing Well.

Mine is happy.

I thought about telling y'all the story of how I met and married my wife.

But the problem is,

A: It's interesting to me, but probably not to the rest of the planet, and
B: That's mine. I'll share it with you over a cuppa, some time. But not here. Not this way.

I've got to close here, to go climb in bed with the woman that I've been married to for 10 years.

And in the morning, I've got to figure out what the hell I'm gonna get her that's made of tin.

I love my wife.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Worth watching.

Randy Pausch is dying. Pancreatic cancer, and he was told, about 6 months ago, that he had 6 months to live.

A professor with Carnegie Mellon University, Dr. Pausch became a hotshot at making computers more fun than they ever had been before. He's one of those young professors whose classes people fight to get into.

In September of 2007, he gave a lecture in a series called The Last Lecture.

The title of his lecture is: "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams."

This thing is fun. They guy is pretty tickled to be where he is, and delighted to have done what he set out to do as a kid. Keep in mind, this man has a personal expiration date that implies that if he signs up for "Fruit Of The Month" club, he's probably not going to get to find out what comes after "Bartlett Pear."

Why's he cheerful?

Because he actually has achieved his dreams. Is, even now, still living them.

And he gives advice, in a very interesting, quick, funny way, on how to achieve one's dreams.

Well, a guy who can laugh at the face of his own death has a pretty damned good place to stand while giving such advice.

So here's the lecture. It takes a little while, and you may want to just let it run in the background (though he does use lots of visual aids) while you surf other stuff. If your attention span is shorter, you can watch the much shorter Oprah version of the lecture. (Okay, that right there should tell you something about the quality of what he says-- I actually linked Oprah.)

Look: It's not sad. It's not boring. You can always close it halfway through.

Not smarmy. Not "spiritual." Interesting.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Well, I guess we've all got to be first at something.

Someone came here from Googling an unfortunately pejorative term that I heard all the time as a kid.
Turns out that my blog comes up first for a search of that term. (Only because of a confessional piece I wrote about a year ago.)
I don't know what that person was looking for, but I hope he read the blog.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Now *that's* cat blogging.

"You just wouldn't believe the cutest little thing my kitty did," bubbles up the memory of the most inane comment that I sat through while talking to a girl on the phone in my teens. I didn't protest verbally, but my thoughts went along the lines of "who cares? Can we move on to the part where we establish where we'll meet for some snogging?"

Ah, the things we'll put up with for lust love.

But since that time, I've not been terribly interested in discussing what someone else's kitty's exploits were, nor even their dog[gy]'s highlights. I know you find them cute. They're your pets. That's why we keep pets. If we didn't find them cute, we would do without them, and just burn hundreds of dollars, spread hair everywhere, and put landmines in the yard.

I'm not coming across as a very warm person, am I?
- - -

Any-flippin'-way, my evil scientist proudly nerdy online friend Stingray gives a fine report on his cat, in a manner that I find most acceptable. Uh, after the first paragraph, anyway.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Why not this time donate...

...a tubal ligation?

H/T to Nautical Dawn.

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I'd just like to note...

...that my elder daughter, who is, like her father, somewhat challenged in her physical IQ (don't laugh-- that stuff exists), and who had never picked up a basketball before November 2007, scored her first basket tonight. (Well, last night-- 22 Feb 08)

In a tournament.

To give her team the lead.

Not just us. Not just her coach. Not just the bench. But even teammates on the court cheered. I've spent worse lunch breaks.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

That's about as fast as I get.

I'm not hopped up on caffiene or anything, but this is about my typing speed.
49 words


H/T to John Shirley

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Gunship Diplomacy

Friend Tamara brings up a good point: If we're gonna be called an imperialistic hegemony, and people are going to treat us like one, then why can't we act like one, once in a while?

Tamara also brings to mind a scene that was best portrayed in one of my all-time favorite movies, The Wind And The Lion.

There are two superb scenes in that altogether great movie.

The first is in the opening scene, where Sir Joshua Smith is taking high tea with the American Mrs. Eden Perdicaris in her Morocco courtyard. Disturbing their tea, a group of armed Berbers sweeps in on horseback to kidnap Mrs. Perdicaris and her brood. The British man, like all good gentlemen abroad, is heeled. He draws his Webley, stands, and begins firing with some effect, unhorsing at least two Berber attackers before his revolver goes click on an empty chamber as another attacker bears down on him. Sir Joshua Smith looks at his revolver with great disdain and says "Dahmn!" before he is cut down.

I was about 14 when I first saw that movie and that scene, and ever since then, I've wanted a Mark I or early Mark II Webley .455 revolver.*

The second great scene of the movie is when, irritated that a foreign "dignitary" (for such Raisuli, the leader of the pirates, claimed to be) should take an American captive, and not unaware of the international (as well as political) repercussions of his actions, Theordore Roosevelt decides to send in the South Atlantic Squadron (later known as the South Atlantic Fleet). When negations for the Perdicarises fails to bring their release, a company of Marines, supplemented by sailors, come ashore in Tangier and march at double time to the palace**, where they take the Pasha captive, right smartly. The guard force that too late attempts to defend the palace is dispatched with alacrity.

It's beautiful.

The movie is loosely based on a historical incident. Some have made hay over the fact that diplomacy won the day, and that no shots were fired in the taking of the port of Tangier in the actual 1904 incident. So? When a fleet of SEVEN battleships and several companies of Marines comes knocking at your door, and you submit, you have effectively been subdued by military force (the threat thereof.).

* Roberta knows what I'm talking about.
** You really ought to watch that clip, if you've got a minute. Part 1 to that is HERE.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

I'm just a little confused.

Serbs break into and burn up the American Embassy, and a contingent of Marines are present, and there are no reports of Serbian arsonists' corpses littering the streets of Belgrade.
"The State Department officials said no protesters got into the embassy's main chancery section, a separate area that was manned by a U.S. Marine guard unit and some security personnel."
Look, I know that they're stationed there for the protection of the embassy staff, and not for property. But There. Is. A. Point.

"In his speech, Tomislav Nikolic, a member of the ultra-nationalist Radical Party, which is Serbia's largest, accused the U.S. and the European Union of stealing Kosovo. Protesters booed and jeered at every mention of the U.S. and EU. 'We will not rest until Kosovo is again under Serbia's control. Hitler could not take it away from us, and neither will today's (Western powers),' Nikolic said."

Serbia, don't piss us off. Seriously.

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Why? Because it's frickin' cool. That's why.

I know that I've referenced here some folks (cough, INLAWS, cough) who have voiced their opinions that "The only thing the space program ever brought me was Tang, and I don't even like Tang!"

You know, I'm not even going to get into the fact that they watch satellite TV, use cell phones, expect the weather forecast to be perfect, and are jingoistic in their foreign policy take. Not to mention their reliance on modern medicines.

All I'm going to say is: without a space progam, you don't get incredible images like this one:

View of a total solar eclipse (occlusion) from the International Space Station, 29 MAR 2006. (click to enlarge)

And, for what it's worth: I liked Tang. I think I'm gonna go buy some right now.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Kinda cool, I guess.

A lunar eclipse is going on right over my head this very second.

They don't come around all that often, but they're nowhere nearly as rare as total solar eclipses.

You remember some of 'em. I recall looking at the partial one on the night of May 19-20, 1994, with my Dad, through his binoculars.

I guess the reason we like to watch them is for the same reason that we like to watch dawns and sunsets. There aren't many naturally-occuring celestial incidents that we can view with the naked eye, that we can watch happen over the course of minutes. Not as fast a half-hour sit-com, perhaps, but about as quick as a season finale 2 hour episode.

What would the druids think of our current attention spans?

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Part of the problem... that no one knows who Jacob Ryker is.

But there's a big Wikipedia web entry on who Kip Kinkel is. (Which Ryker isn't even mentioned in!)

Let's fix that.

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Monday, February 18, 2008


In my Advanced Criminological Theory class tonight, the topic of the lecture was Environmental Theories, such as Regular Activity Theory, which basically says what you already knew: that if you participate in risky activities, in risky places, at risky times, you're more likely to become a victim.

"I'm beginning to wonder, with all the school shootings, if I really did pick such a safe, mundane field for regular activity," quipped my rather funny, generally empowered, fast-talking young mother of a professor.

"But remember: grad students had better not be coming in packing! You like this class, remember?" she said, and chuckled.

I waited a second before quick-glancing the room. I spotted two other guys wearing cover garments that were a little too warm for the packed classroom. One of them I know works full time for a larger P.D. I don't know where the other guy works. Neither one of them were, in my estimation, carrying the last time we met for class, two weeks ago.

Ah, well. What she doesn't know, won't hurt her.

Like car seats, we are so strapped!

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Haiku #11-- Teenaged Girl Driver

Tears have no effect.
I will not be finagled.
Press hard while signing.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Haiku #10: Negative Correlation.

A relationship
Exists, Between those who bathe
And those with warrants.

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Decision point: Now.

In the blog before last, I called for your action in time of crisis. But, frankly, I left one point a little ambiguous. I said:

And there he is. Picking people off. Maybe you're next. Or maybe chance will smile on you. How many guns does he have? How many bullets? Maybe he has enough for all of you. This can't be allowed to continue.

It's time.

Time to decide-- are you going to dig down and hide among the fallen and hope that you live? Are you going to claw your way to an exit and leave the rest in the lecture hall? How are you going to live with yourself after that?

To which, in the Comments, my friend Don Gwinn rightly responded:

I decided a long time ago.

My decision is not quite as simple, though, because at any given time I'm the adult responsible for 12-24 children. Other peoples' children. So there are risks I've chosen not to take. I won't go looking for anyone, for instance. I've been called a coward for that, but the fact is that I don't see the percentage in leaving a group of students on their own to take their chances while I go glory-hunting.

That said, I think the only way to react fast enough to matter if someone does burst into the room and start hurting people is to know ahead of time exactly what you plan to do about it.

My plan is simple. I intend to reach the attacker as fast as I can and disarm him as fast as I can. Everything else depends on what's between us, what he's armed with, what I'm armed with, and what happens next.

Don states it very simply, and very well: in the instance that someone appears to be displaying a threat of deadly force to those in his charge within his area of responsibility, he will immediately address the problem directly.

When I was 12, my dad called it "Contingency Planning."

When I was in Driver's Education, they called it "IPDE" ("Identify. Predict. Decide. Execute.")

In the military and tactical training, they call it the "OODA Loop." ("Observe. Orient. Decide. Act.")

If you wish, think of it as a protocol. The ONLY decision that you should have to make is whether to implement your self-defense protocol.

Make scenarios in your head:

--"IF a man walked into the room shooting AND I can reach him, THEN I will attack him."

--"IF I'm alone in a room or building AND a man points a gun at me AND I can get away, THEN I will run like a striped-arse ape. "

And so on.

(No, I'm not going to explore the logical "Else" part of programming.)

Make this part of your life. Just like slamming on the brakes when an idjit pulls out in front of you on the road, you must decide ahead of time how you will react. Waiting until the occasion arises is a road to indecision.

Decide now.

Decide before you have to.

And, like putting on your seatbelt or paying flood insurance on yur house, I hope you never need to use it.

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Aw, man!

Awesome thunderstorms rolling through-- perfect for sleeping through-- and I have to get up in 6 hours to go back to work.

"Then what are you doing up writing this for?" you may well ask.

Well, it's hard to make myself drop right to sleep 15 minutes after walking in the door from work, you know?

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Hoka hey.

I'm going to die.

And so are you.

And so too will our children die.

From the moment that we leave our mothers' wombs, we are taking the long route to become worm poop.

Nobody gets out of this life alive. Nobody.

If you know in your heart that your religion or belief system has preserved your soul forever, then that's superb, and I know that you'll have plenty of peace of mind when you accept the fact that your body will fail, at some point in the future. You. Will. Be. Dead.

2,365,200,000 looks like a big number, until you realize that it accounts for the average number of seconds that the average man will live in this country. How are you enjoying each of those two-billion-some moments? Good? Constructively?

A second is about how long you will have, to take in what is going on, when the Crisis hits, and you have to start reacting. It may be the most important second of your life, and yet it costs the same as all the others. You got it for the price of your birth. How will you spend it?

In our most recent school shooting, a man entered the front of a lecture hall, and began shooting at students. Most of them died with shots to the head. Most of them, unable to run, hid under their desks. I can already picture how the headshots occured: in modern lecture halls, there's no protection from the desks, and the students pitched forward, trying to get closer the the floor. So the tops of their heads were presented to the shooter.

My good friend Tamara posted a thread a year or so ago called "Ain't Going Out Like That." Tamara has decided that she would rather fight and die or fight and win, than to give her life up to chance. Tamara carries a pistol or three wherever she goes. She has chosen.

Some young people have chosen to obtain a high powered, high dollar college education to propel their careers forward. At most major universities, carrying a firearm is not only cause for expulsion-- it's cause for indictment. These students want to finish with their class, and carrying a gun just doesn't really seem like a worth-while option. I can understand; I was one of those students, and still would be. Why risk your career?

So there you sit. Right with the law. Right with school policy. Your notebook is half-full, your pen is half-empty, and you're trying to pay attention to what that professor is saying, when in walks a Loser who is going to make everyone else pay for his inability to adjust. He has a gun, and you don't. He starts shooting. The aisles are full. The room is a death trap. There's no way out.

And there he is. Picking people off. Maybe you're next. Or maybe chance will smile on you. How many guns does he have? How many bullets? Maybe he has enough for all of you. This can't be allowed to continue.

It's time.

Time to decide-- are you going to dig down and hide among the fallen and hope that you live? Are you going to claw your way to an exit and leave the rest in the lecture hall? How are you going to live with yourself after that?

Planes have fallen from the sky.
Students and worshipers have died in their seats and in the aisles.
Hiding doesn't work.

Today is a good day to die.

If you must die, would you not rather die falling toward your killer, stopping your attack? If you're hit, don't you want to stop him?

Take him down. Yell "Get him!!!" and take him down.

Use books, book bags, fists, keys, knees, elbows, fingerclaws, pens, pencils... but take his ass down. And kill him.

There are worse ways to die, for you, than to die while doing this.

_ _ _

*I am now given to understand that "hokahey" was not Sioux for "today is a good day to die," but rather the Sioux warrior term for the equivalent to "let's roll." That's fine. Go with it.

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Let's hold off on the over-reaction, shall we?

I'm not sure what the best response should be, generally, to deal with the school shootings. But before people begin to demand bannings, I would note:

1. There are MILLIONS of firearms in this country. What kind of wand makes them disappear?
2. It's already a felony to carry a handgun on campus at Northern Illinois University. That didn't seem to discourage Stephen Kazmierczak from bringing three, plus a shotgun, yesterday. People that murder other people before committing suicide apparently don't worry about that putting a felony on their Permanent Record.
3. Creating effective gun-free zones on campuses is impossible. I have NEVER been challenged to produce identification as a peace officer on campus, and I always carry on campus. Putting metal detectors at the front doors to the lecture halls is untenable. I'm late for class as it is. Think of going into the secure zone of a major airport every time you entered a class. Good. Lord. (Not to mention the cost of manning the hundreds of new posts on campus.)
4. Making this tragedy political would be the lowest of the low.

That is all.

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Oh, come on!

My last Wikipedia safari reveals that the first director of MI6, who espoused the use of semen as a field-expedient invisible ink ("Every man carries his own stylo."), was named Mansfield Smith-Cumming.

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How close does it have to be?

Well, they've just discovered a smaller planetary system (I almost said "solar system," but I think that's reserved to our own star.), using a nifty new technique called microlensing.

They figure that, given how quickly they found the two gas giants in that planetary system, they're going to find a lot more. Only problem-- that star is 5000 light years away, which means that live television newscasts reporting about Enoch (Methuselah's daddy) inventing the eyed needle are just now getting to that star.

Too far.

But how far is close enough?

Let's just say we manage, using RamJets, light sails, or (most likely) nuclear pulse propulsion, to get a starship to average 10% of c. That would take us about 40 years to reach our closest neighboring star, Proxima Centauri. Hm. A 30 year old man would arrive at aged 70, and would find that he had no one to yell at to turn that damned music down, because there's nothing there.

Well, we're already planning to send one kind of exploratory craft or another to Alpha Centauri B.

Well, whoopie. Time to put some men and women on a ship, and send them. Why? Because Longshot and Daedalus both will take ~100 years to get there, plus another 4.5 years to report back.

Bull puckey. Longshot's expected payload is 30 tons. Double it --triple it--- and send humans.

Back to that original question: how close (by which I mean "how short a time") does it have to be? 5000 years is too far. 30 years or so is okay. Now we're bargaining. 200 years?

Surely what with cryogenic sleep, embryonic storage, robot technology, and a skeleton crew, we could do a few generations?

Would you do it?

Are you thinking that we should?

I do.

Get this thing moving. We don't have all that much time.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

When good things happen to good people.

My online pal, accountant cum merchant of death (and author of a fun book that is destined to become a kickass B movie) Larry Correia has officially opened his new store. To say that it's being well-received would be an understatement.

Fuzzy Bunny Movie Guns (FBMG) is there for all (and I mean ALL) your gun needs. Yes, they're out of Utah, but they can find and acquire for you all the Class III stuff (legal silencers, machine guns, recoiless rifles, etc) you desire. They are full service. And Larry C. is a hell of a guy.

I have not yet pimped his newly-published book Monster Hunter International, because I've not yet acquired my own copy to give you a proper book report on, yet. I enjoyed the rough draft that he sent me to read a couple of years ago, so I know that I'll love the novel. But I'll hold off on that for another post.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008 a larger rodent based in a privy...

I'm finding that I don't much associate myself with the current Republican party.

But folks, watch this man's video urging you to give up and go full-bore Democratic Party, and see if you don't find that you're developing a twitch or two.

(Oh, and that legislation that he espouses at the end? Who signed it?)

H/T to The Sniper, by way of Tam.


If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

I've been trading emails back and forth between a trooper I know down in SW Texas and a good friend that lives in the Big Bend area. I found myself sending the following in an email this afternoon:

Every time I hear about how stemming the tide of illegal immigration is impossible, I ask, "How do you know? We've never tried to do it, yet."

Every time I come across a bona fide mojado, who admits that he's an undocumented alien, who makes no bones about having come across illegally, I'm generally ready and willing to get his butt documented by his deportation process. But we're regularly being told that ICE won't bother with them unless we catch them with at least a Class B or greater crime.

Will a fence work? I don't know. Why don't we try it and see.

My friend who works at DPS licensing bureau is being told to accept Border Crossing Cards that are only supposed to be good 70 miles north of the border, to give honest-to-Gawd Texas ID cards, which then turn into licenses.

I'm dealing with El Paso insurance agents that are giving insurance to undocumented aliens, even though they don't have a Texas drivier's license, and the State Board of Insurance won't do anything about it. This is a shame, because if they don't have license or insurance, I can tow their car. If they only are missing one, I have to give them a ticket. (Dept. policy, which is common in many departments).

Given the rate at which we're devaluing the nation AND losing rescouces with regard to population, I have the solution: Annex Mexico. They should jump at the chance-- better quality of life, US dollar, Medicare, Social Security, better emergency response, etc. Even better environmental situation. In exchange, we get their resources, we move our southern border down to Guatamala (much easier to patrol), and we get 'em all documented and tax-paying.

I'm not sure I'm joking about this. Actually, I'm beginning to get pretty sure that I'm not joking.


The more I think about it, the more I like it. No more accusations of xenophobia. I don't want to export them-- I want to make them my countrymen! :)

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More Evidence Of Why We Need To Vote In The Democratic Primary pick the lesser of two evils.
(Click To Enlarge)
There's a LOT of backlash out there, people.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

What's the point?

Note: This is a post about guns, and gets very slightly technical. If you're bored to tears by such drivel, you are forewarned; come again and see what I've got tomorrow.
_ _ _

I recently had business at the house of another cop.

I was in uniform, and he asked me what happened to my 1911 pistol. I had to admit that I now work for a department that issues Glocks, and expects me to carry one on duty. I allowed that I was able to do decent work with one, just not the higher-end shooting that I had been doing with my personal 1911.

"Speaking of 1911s, you want to see what I just bought?" he asked me.

Aha! I could see that he was eager to show me, and hey-- I'm always up for some show-and-tell. "Sure," I said. "Let's see what new play-pretty you got." To be honest, I was kind of curious.

As he unloaded the pistol (I appreciated his attention to safety) which he had just retrieved from a back room, he said, "I'm actually quite proud of this one." He handed it to me with some reverence that made me want to wince; if I didn't like it, I was clearly going to have to fib about it, to avoid hurting his feelings.

I looked down in my hand at a Springfield Operator, a semi-custom out-of-the-box 1911 .45 acp. His had been customized some more, making it undoubtedly more than the MSRP of $1100.

The black "Armory Kote" finish was blacker than black, and seemed to repel dust. The stocks that he had on it were some kind of very hard, checked grey stocks that had a slight cut-out for the thumb to more easily access the magazine release. They felt good. The 20 lpi checking was on the back of the flat mainspring housing, and on the frontstap of the frame. It had medium-profile tritium sights that gave a good sight picture. It had a bump on the extended grip safety, and a short hammer spur. It had an extended safety, which the ball of my overly-long thumb found easily. It had slide serrations on the front as well as the back.

I could deal with all of this, just fine. Actually, I liked it.


It had a magazine funnel. These were originally popularized during the bastardization of IPSC, by making magazine changes faster. They allow the opening in the bottom of your magazine well of the pistol larger, thus making it easier to hit with blinding speed with the full magazine that you are inserting. There are problems, however:
  1. To work (with blinding speed, or with any speed at all), the magazine must be longer than the standard 7 round magazine introduced 97 years ago. The standard method of doing this is to attach a "bump" or buffer pad to the bottom of a 7 or 8 round magazine, to extend its length. If you have a standard-length magazine designed to fit flush against the bottom of a standard 1911 pistol, you're going to have to press it in with the tippy-tip of your off-side thumb. Which is not fast.
  2. This extends the length and bulk of your pistol, right where it sticks out from your body. Range shooters love this-- it absolutely can make the pistol easier to shoot. People carrying pistols begin to realize that they hit doorframes and such. They also become much more difficult to carry concealed.
  3. It's one more part hanging off your gun.
  4. It makes disassembly slightly more complicated.

Ambidextrous safety. I'm more amenable to them than some, because my mom's a lefty and her 1911 always had a Swenson ambi safety-- I thus grew up with an ambi-safety'd gun in the house, and shot one a lot. But if you're right-handed anyway, why hang more crap off your gun? Especially with the right side (for left-handed persons) safety also being oversized and extended? This can interfere with some holsters, and generally makes things bigger and less likely to go bang.

Flat mainspring housing, long aluminum trigger. One, or the other; either your hand is big, or your hand is small. Why increase the trigger pull with the longer trigger, but put a thin flat main spring housing in? I have big hands, and like an arched main spring housing a la the 1911A1.

Light rail. I can take 'em or leave 'em. I don't like that my boned holsters might not work with 'em, and I don't like that some people will rely on weapon-mounted lights to investigate sounds in the dark. Shining your weapon-mounted light into an unknown corner means that you're pointing your weapon at a previously unknown corner. No bueno. That said, they're great for dealing with known threats, in conjunction with dedicated lights. Training is needed, and the right mindset. I'll call that one a wash. (But damn, they're ugly.)

Rear sight raked back at a sharp angle, from the front. I suppose that this is to allow easy re-holstering. But they also disallow one-handed racking of the slide on jeans or table-edges.

Mediocre trigger. For better than a grand, I want that trigger to give me a surprise break, no creep, and a minimum of over-travel. I got none of this, on about a ~5 pound trigger. Not bad, mind you-- just not anything special. Come on, folks-- it's a single action pistol that's supposed to be an elite combat gun-- gimme a really good trigger.

Finally, it had the deal-breaker: A Full Length Guide Rod. It is this piece of metal for which I have entitled this blog entry. I ask, without a hint of snark in my voice: What is the point of the FLGR?

See here a picture of a field-stripped 1911 pistol (made by Colt) that I found somewhere in the public realm. You see that stubby tube of metal stuck in the right side of the recoil spring? That is the standard, and proper guide rod for the Model 1911 pistol, as John Moses Browning designed it. Its purpose is to give the end of the recoil spring an interface to press its force against the pistol's frame, as the recoil spring begins stacking its load against the slide as the slide moves rearward with respect to the frame. The entirety of the spring is enclosed within the dustcover of the frame and the front of the slide.

A Full Length Guide Rod is, relative to the pistol, a fairly new addition to the M1911. It replaces the standard length guide rod, and runs down the length of the spring, keeping it really, really straight. It is approximately the same length of the barrel, and when the slide is pulled back, it protrudes out beneath the barrel of the 1911, like this, or like this.

To accomodate this, a FLGR must have a special bushing (red) that allows it to protrude out the front, replacing the proper recoil spring plug that John Moses Browning designed almost a century ago. In some instances, the FLGR uses a hex-head (purple) to be unscrewed to take it out. That's what my friend's used.

This requires extra tools to disassemble the M1911 pistol. That's a shame, because the 1911 pistol is actually quite easy to field strip, as demonstrated to me regularly by my 9 year old daughter, who only requires a pencil or a pen (to remove the firing pen retention plate). (Teaser: we're working on her times, and will soon present high speed demonstrations, as soon as I figure out how to make video work.)

It also makes it more likely to break down, by increasing the number of bearing surfaces and parts. Also of interest: In a pinch, an empty .45acp case can be used to replace a missing recoil spring plug. (How could one of those go missing? Well, when the pistol is disassembled, the recoil spring is under some pressure. Things can sometimes get launched.) But if you're sporting a FLGR, you cannot utilize such field expedients.

Speaking of field expedients, in the case of a combat-worthy pistol, one might want to plan for the exigency of racking the pistol, one-handed. With an original-designed 1911 pistol complete with a standard-length guide rod, one need only to press the bottom of the slide (where the recoil spring plug is) against a hard edge, like table top or a door frame, to rack the pistol. With a FLGR in place, this is not very possible. Also, "press checks," wherein one pushes back on the slide slightly to assure that a round is in the chamber, are harder to accomplish with the FLGR in place.

Full-length guide rods don't only require more tools, they require more skill to break down.

So what's the point of the FLGR?

I've been told that they reduce the likelihood of the recoil spring "kinking". I have asked around among my gun afficianado friends, and I can't find any of 'em that have ever seen a "kinked" recoil spring, except for out of a pistol that blew up from a double-charged reloaded case (in which case, the pistol was ruined). I've been told that they somehow "buffer" the pistol. (By friction?) I've been told that they improve the accuracy of the pistol. I think that this is the one that really sells to most people. With a FLGR in place, the pistol feels tighter. It seems to rattle less between shots. There is a perception that the FLGR makes the gun shoot tighter.

A false perception.

When I got my brand new Kimber Stainless Classic 1911 (Series I. Seriously: they were made a lot better back then.), I took it out, and fired a couple of groups off of a sandbag rest at 25 yards with the factory FLGR in place. I then took the factory FLGR out and replaced it with a standard-length guide rod, and a standard recoil spring plug. I fired several more groups out of it, and found that they were precisely the same as the previous groups. Not "about the same." Not even better. Just, exactly, precisely, not-even-a-little-bit-different, The Same. I never put the FLGR back in.

The only possible benefit that I can possibly see to having a FLGR in place is that it adds a minute amount of weight to the muzzle, to assist in reducing muzzle flip during recoil. To that end, why not get tungston ones?

So why are they so prevalent among custom pistols? Even gun-smart men and women whom I respect are often carrying them. Why? Replacing the "custom," hard-to-use and hard-to-disassemble Full Length Guide Rods requires only that the guide rod and the spring plug be replaced. These are some of the cheapest parts for a 1911, and do not require hand-fitting. The cost should run less than $10 to replace them with old GI gun parts. (Which is what I have in my go-to gun.) Once disassembled, a nine-year old girl can put them in, without hesitation, the first time she tries. (I see her do it all the time.)

_ _ _

I commented on the parts of the gun that I liked, and I asked him about why he kept the FLGR for a duty gun. I just couldn't help it. He blinked, and said that he hadn't thought to do otherwise. I offered to show him the difference sometime. I hope he takes me up on it.

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Spoilin' to spoil

My good friend Bill and I were talking this morning about being political spoilers.

Of the current POTUS election, I know little that I can hang my hat on, beyond this:

1. I don't want any of the viable candates from either party elected.
2. I don't have much choice in the matter-- one of them will be elected.
3. The Republican party choice is basically decided.
4. The Democratic party choice is completely up in the air.
5. I have personal distaste for Hillary Clinton that goes deeper than my distaste for Barack Obama.
6. I'm unimpressed with McCain's credentials as a conservative.

Really, it's probably all the same to me-- call them vanilla or chocolate or strawberry-- I don't want a taste. But I know that I don't want a turd sandwich, and that means that I don't want Hillary Clinton to be an end candidate.

I think that Obama needs to be the Democratic candidate.

I think that I need to vote in the Democratic primary.

On March 4th, 2008, I am going to hold my nose, march right into my local poll, and vote for Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee for President Of The United States.

This means that I need to register as a Democrat.

So be it.

There ain't much difference, these days, anyway. (Sigh.)

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Bleg to my fellow Texans

Our state is making a new license plate design, to accompany the rollout of the new 7-digit license plate format. (Bah.)

The state has decided to let the citizenry vote for which plate design is used next. Good idea, right?

Well, sort of.

I'm all for democracy. I think that creating a work that is generally pleasing to the eye of the citizenry is pretty cool.

But here's the thing:

Most people are going to pick the pretty ones, without regard to the function of the plate.

What's the function of a license plate?

Answer: To identify a given vehicle for administrative and emergency purposes.

Now, some of y'all might think "Screw it-- if the cops or the robot revenuers can't read my plate, that's just so much the better." But a license plate allows not just cops, but the general public at large to read a vehicle's identifying numbers, and to report that the vehicle was at a specific time at a specific place, performing a specific action. Hit and run? Get the plate number. Robbery? Get the plate number. Road rage? Plate number. DWI running people off the road? Ditto.

Plates are hard enough to read as it is. Road grime, soot, spattered asphalt, etc all make them hard to read from 50 feet away on a highway while driving at highway speeds, and still taking due caution to drive safely yourself. That's one reason why the state requires that the plate be kept clean. But when we remove the high-contrast of black on white, the plate starts off being harder to read.

I ask you, gentle reader, to help me out: go to the Texas Department of Transportation License Plate e-Vote Page*, and vote for "Traditional Texas:"
Classic. State of issuance is easy to read (more important than you might think, with multiple plate designs from 50 states, other territories, Canadian provinces, and Mexican states), high contrast, not overly busy, with the Texas Lone Star on the bottom. Superb.

Better than the current plate, in my opinion, which is listed as "My Texas."

I love bluebonnets, and think that our state flower is a wonderful representation of this great Lone Star State. But we don't need muted fields of them behind our letters. First, bluebonnets should never be muted in their colors. Secondly, it takes what should be white, and makes it the color of lead. Dumb. Please do not vote for "Natural Texas:"
While I find "Lone Star Texas" to be visually pleasing, it's still too busy for a license plate, and should be thrown out:
And while the contrast is okay with "New Texas," the design is horrid. Reminds me of a banner you'd see at a Gay Pride parade (not that there's anything wrong with that) during the Bicentennial. Ugh:
Yes, a secondary function of our license plates can be to show our state pride, but the foremost reason that we muddle with the sleek lines of beautiful cars is to identify them. Keep in mind that the number one cause of unnatural death and injury is by automobile. You, as a citizen, benefit when we can read the blasted things. And I don't have to tailgate your car as much when I'm running your license plate. And that's a Good Thing.
Thanks in advance.
_ _ _ _

*Note: two votes per household, and it doesn't seem to care whether you live in Texas or not.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Pity the irony.

That I should discover Melbourn Bros. Spontaneous Fermentation Cherry beer of the Lambic style, only because my local purveyor of fine beers is putting it on close-out because the distributor is no longer carrying it in this region.

The sour cherry flavor is phenomenal. I put it against Lindeman's Kriek lambic, any day, for 1/4 the price or less. Brewed in Lincolnshire, England, the Melbourn Bros. beer can't properly call it a "lambic" any more than the better California sparkling white wines could call themselves a Champaigne-- it wasn't brewed from the spontaneous wild yeasts and bacterias [!] blowing in the windows of the breweries around Belgium.

It has 6 ingredients: Water, Barley Malt, Wheat, Hops, Yeast, and Cherries.

I've tried the stawberry, and it's fit to drink, too.

Even the bottles are worthwhile-- extra heavy-duty and with a hard shoulder in the old style, to pour the unfiltered beer into a glass in one pour, leaving the dap of yeast and cherry sediment in the bottom of the bottle and giving you a clear glass of red goodness.

I may have to find me a source. Maybe the same one that will finally bring me a bottle of Stone's Ruination.


Saturday, February 02, 2008

Horrible story.

Bad things happen in this news story:

1. It's about people minding their own business and getting murdered for their troubles.

2. It's terribly written. Read it again-- what's the suspect's description?

3. The premise is laughable. An armed robber with a portable firearm committed murder that in a suburb of Chicago? Ridiculous. Handguns are outlawed around there, and only good guys are allowed to possess any guns, after the hesitant approval of the state of Ill Annoy. NO ONE is going to believe such claptrap. . .

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Go back and look.

If you read my previous post before 1430 hrs CDT today, then you were probably confused at the link in the middle, which I meant to link to a YouTube video of a pre-dawn launch of the penultimate flight of Space Shuttle Columbia. Instead, due the fact that I had taken a little Wikipedia safari, I had inserted a far less interesting link by accident. My bad.

But if you haven't seen it, go look at the short video of the launch, and watch it at least throught the SRB separation. Really. It's that good.

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6 miles away.

Five years ago today, on a Saturday morning, I finished up some paperwork at the P.D. at 0800 CST.

It was quiet. The radio was dead. I toiled on.

I hadn't paid any attention to the fact that the oldest space shuttle in our fleet was landing that morning. If I had, I would certainly have been outside watching for it, as it came across my sky. Stupidly, I still wish that I had, if only to see it for the last time it was to be seen. If I had been outside, I probably would have heard and seen the disintegration of the Columbia.

Why the hell didn't I? As I sat in a tiny little patrol office doing some inconsequential paperwork, seven men and women died, about 200,000 feet above my head.

I've never seen a spacecraft, beyond the satellites that scram across the sky (more and more you see the Iridium satellite flares), but those aren't craft, so much as cargo that got parked. I would have been happy to have watched a 22 year old stopgap spacecraft pass by.

I'm one of those who will someday pay to go stand on some ground 6 miles away from the launch pad of some other spacecraft in eastern Florida. I don't reckon that I'll ever get to go up in one, but at least I can hope to watch one go.

And if it's half as exciting as it looks through my little monitor, as I watch the the event through the lens of someone's handheld video camera, then I'm all in. Take a second and watch the launching of Columbia's last successful mission. Watch the exhaust as it passes above the terminator on its pre-dawn flight, into the the coming day.

Listen to how happy the crowd is when the SRB separation is successful. Hell, I was cheering, too, over 5 years and 1300 miles later. By that time, they were about 30 miles away from the shuttle, but they're just so happy to see that it made it.

Raise your cup to the memory of those who have gone, but don't mourn. Rather, give thanks for the hope that others may --will-- go also.

"When the ship lifts, all bills are paid. No regrets."

_ _ _
Edit: Fixed the link in the middle to show the launch of the last successful round trip of the Space Shuttle Columbia.

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