Sunday, June 29, 2008


Dorkbot is an interesting bunch of techno-geeks who favor fun with electricity or electronics, or electrically powered sculpture. Saturday they held another presentation which included a computer-generated noise demo (the amps go all the way to 11!) which was reminiscent of hanging out on the flight line, too close to the engines, an indie band consisting of 2 guys playing 2 Apple notebooks and a drum simulator, who sounded pretty good, Motoman, who specializes in robotic mayhem reminiscent of Survival Research Labs, and some geek with a pneumatic squirrel gun.

Motoman had, as part of their props, a couple of chipboard cutouts of police SWAT team members. They graciously loaned me one of them for my demo, and a small kid propelled one of my darts, made from a 12 ga shotgun shell hull, with a 1/4-20 bolt through the primer hole, THROUGH the chipboard cutout. People were impressed.

The party was just getting rolling when I left. Long day.

Pistol Match

I missed the deadline for the postal match due to being entirely too busy all the time. Work is the curse of the drinking class, as they say. The club did put on a pin match, our first, as far as I know, and great fun was had by all. Lots of helpful suggestions were offered, from the friendly members to the shooters, several of which will NOT be repeated here.

Mr Completely shoots pins regularly, and would likely be appalled at how we do it. For example, we have no steel table at the correct regulation height, whatever that is, so we used a couple of sawhorses, which put the pins pretty close to head high for me. We used an old hollow core door for the surface, which meant that a low hit would not drop the pin from the lead splash. Instead, we had one shooter put 5 rounds so uniformly low that the door now sports a perfect set of holes in the near edge, almost exactly on the centerline of the edge, and the back edge has been knocked completely off.

There was some sentiment for leaving the doorknob on the door, but it was removed anyway. This allowed us to set the center pin upside down as an option, but again the organizers insisted that all the pins start out upright.

Scoring was strictly by time, from the start signal, to the point at which the last pin hit the ground. Remember the ground is somewhat further away than is usual. There is also an absolute time limit of 15 seconds, at the end of which, you must quit shooting and take 1 second per each pin left on the table. This is to keep the duffers from running out of ammo on the first table. Distance was 25 ft.

Following this was a cracker shoot, your choice, Ritz or square saltines. This match is shot with .22s, pistol and rifle. Scoring was an ad hoc method for which you loaded your gun to full capacity and were scored on your percentage of hits. 8/9 with an automatic beats 5/6 with a revolver. It was suggested that a confidant fellow could take a single shot gun, hit the first cracker, and quit with a score of 100%. This was ruled illegal, and a six-shot minimum was established. Eating your crackers afterward was optional.

Results will be posted shortly, I’m sure.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Heller decicion

Since I'm told that comment is obligatory.

We won today, not huge, but about like I expected. Yes, you have a right to own a gun, subject to some restrictions. What restrictions? Why, practically anything the government wants, short of outright prohibition. More interesting than the decision, were the dissents. Thanks to scotusblog for these two, among others.

Justice John Paul Stevens, in dissent:

"Until today, it has been understood that legislatures may regulate the civilian use and misuse of firearms so long as they do not interfere with the preservation of a well-regulated militia. The Court's announcement of a new constitutional right to own and use firearms for private purposes upsets that settled understanding, but leaves for future cases the formidable task of defining the scope of permissible regulations."

Get that, a new constitutional right. Delivered up from the clear blue air! Who would have thought?

Justice Stephen Breyer, in dissent:

"The majority's conclusion is wrong for two independent reasons. The first reason is that set forth by Justice Stevens — namely, that the Second Amendment protects militia-related, not self-defense-related, interests. These two interests are sometimes intertwined. To assure 18th-century citizens that they could keep arms for militia purposes would necessarily have allowed them to keep arms that they could have used for self-defense as well. But, self-defense alone, detached from any militia-related objective, is not the Amendment's concern.

"The second independent reason is that the protection the Amendment provides is not absolute. The Amendment permits government to regulate the interests that it serves."

The constitution allows the government to limit the rights it grants to the peasants, apparently to whatever degree the government wishes. So why have a constitution if not to circumscribe the actions of the government?

We really don’t need any more like these.

Here’s a reaction to the decision, again from scotusblog:

"This decision's going to say to these guys that it's OK to have guns — that's the message the street gets from this ... If you take this ruling the wrong way, everybody and their mother's going to go out and get a gun." — Tio Hardiman, of the Chicago violence prevention group Cease Fire.

Now imagine you’re a punk, in need of redistributing the public wealth from their pockets to yours. Imagine further that everybody took Mr. Hardimans advice. You need to put on your “thug mug” and try to intimidate someone into turning over their watch and wallet. Do you feel lucky, punk? Well, do you?

We won a battle. We've not won the war by a long, long, shot.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Obama Kills Baby Seal

Go here for the link and even more on the Latin.

Meantime, try your Latin skills with this:Members of this group are not elegible to be guessing.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Range Reports; Blow Up the World

The 19th annual Blow Up the World day at the range and BBQ has come and gone with minimal hitches, and some things to report.

First was the absence of our Grillmaster, who has, I hear, left the state. He was missed, bit not terribly, as most folks seemed to have brought something to eat that didn’t require grilling.

Good to see this year was a bumper crop of youth shooters ranging from 16 down to about 5, all of whom got plenty of quality trigger time.

I brought a 2.75” BP mortar,

Shown here as we prepare to launch our first astronaut into low-earth orbit. (just kidding. He was industriously swabbing the barrel with the gun brush at the time.)
Also a 3.0” BP howitzer and some new loadings to test.

The mortar is chambered specifically for a pop can full of cement (abt 1.5 lbs), and with 500g of 2fg, can toss them the better part of a mile. Last year, I tried 400g of 2fg under 6oz of regular gas, and got a very narrow spike of flame about 15 feet high. This year I tried a load comprised of 200g of 2fg powder under 8 oz of regular gas in a pop can, and was rewarded with a very satisfactory fireball about 10 feet in diameter, which resolved to a smoke ring, also about 10 ft in diameter. You could feel the heat from 30 feet away, which was the end of the pull cord.

The effect I was looking for was a large black mushroom cloud, rising majestically from the muzzle of the mortar. I’m getting close. Further experimentation is indicated.

The howitzer is made from very heavy wall stainless steel pipe, and has a 3 inch bore, which, coincidentally, exactly fits a #303 can, of the type that normally holds Spaghetti-Os, black olives, or diced tomatoes. Filled with cement, this weighs in at about 2#, and can be launched with 500g of 2fg powder, or up to 1000g of fg cannon powder. Today’s special load was a #303 can full of lug nuts of the type that are closed on one end. The effect I was looking for was whistling as the nuts fly down range. As the lug nuts weighed a bit more than the cement, I used 400g of Pyrodex, and while the nuts whistled quite satisfactorily, the range achieved was disappointing. Additionally, the can needs to be pre-cut down the sides to insure all the nuts get out and to improve the spread. I suppose some shotgun guru could have told me this, but he didn’t drop by as I was preparing all this. Again, further experimentation is indicated.

When I presented 2 cans of lug nuts to the counter man at my favorite junk yard, and explained exactly what I planned to do with them, he let me have them for free. An entertaining story as to the end use of otherwise mundane parts is frequently good for a discount. Besides, I buy so much stuff from them that they know who I am by now, but they sell to me anyway.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Party Town

Denver's municipal entertainment budget takes a big jump:

From the Rocky Mountain Snooze

"Denver police are stocking up on guns that fire a pepper spray-like substance instead of bullets - a less-lethal weapon used to disperse crowds - in advance of the Democratic National Convention."

The Mk IV is semi-automatic. Yup, gonna be a hot time in the old town.

Additionally, one can expect some aggressive panhandling to go with the "dancing in the streets".

The article says Gov Ritter has been "blocking out periods of time each week to help raise funds to put on the Democratic National Convention in Denver in August." Presumably so that when he makes calls from his office, he's "off duty" or "on break", and thus not in violation of laws forbidding use of state facilities for partisan political purposes. Or maybe he walks across the street and uses the phone at the Quorum bar. I'm sure it's all on the up-and-up since Mr Ritter was Denver DA before becoming governor and knows all the loopholes, arguing at one time that the State constitution does not apply to the City of Denver.

Last I looked, the jury was still out on that one although it's been successfully argued before.

Life at Work

Today I spent the entire day in a meeting on how to have more effective meetings.

It was very effective.

Extinct Dragon Found in Iraq

I report, you decide. They claim to have a video, but don't put it up.

It's the End of the World... we know it.

Or maybe not.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Politics as usual

As I mentioned here earlier, the Irish, bless their collective souls, recently saved all Europe by voting down a backdoor attempt at a constitution, whose merits are subject to a good deal of debate.

A Romanian MEP (Euro-parliamentarian) was miffed at being unable to ascend to his rightful, lofty position.
I found this in The Devils Kitchen:

Referenda and Democracy

The EU has now accumulated significant (bad) experiences with referenda.
It was very delicately yet effectively communicated by the Romanian social-democrat MEPs:

“The referendum in Ireland has demonstrated that direct democracy (by way of referendum) cannot ensure the progress of the European process.
The security, liberty and prosperity of hundreds of millions of European citizens ask for complex leadership actions, which cannot be appreciated by heterogeneous populations, from the point of view of the information level and the education one.
European integration is a process that must be conducted politically by the elected representatives of the European citizens.”

Gee, it's good to know that our elected representatives don't have that kind of condescending opinion of us, now do they?

Fun with the news


"France Poaches Top Climate Change Eurocrat"--headline, Financial Times, June 13

Wall St Journals tongue-in-cheek comment:

We Prefer Them Grilled

My comment:

What's wrong with burning at the stake?

Fanciest BB gun ever

From IZH-Bakal.

Thanks to Say Uncle for the pointer.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Fusion reactors

While the era of cold fusion in a plastic bucket in your basement is over, it appears that relatively low-budget work is proceeding in a promising manner.

Low budget is a relative term, but can be impressively affordable.

While the Polywell WB-7 looks to be about 2 feet cubic, plus the vacuun chamber, ion injectors, and associated support equipment, it also seems that if one of these units were to be scaled up to something beyond a laboratory curiosity, it would be rather too large for your basement, never mind the engine bay of your DeLorean.



I have always been a fan of the pocket rocket, a small car with a generous helping of motor, that can deliver the kind of performance full-sized cars can only dream about without a 6+ liter motor.

So here, courtesy of Tam, is probably the ultimate pocket rocket so far: a Smart car with a Suzuki Hyabusa engine. The Smart normally sports 70 hp, the Suzuki puts out 170. About halfway up the rpm range, the Smarts tires throw in the towel and light up. Impressive.

Friday, June 13, 2008

.50 BMG sniper rifle: $29.95

Got your attention? It got the governments. From a GAO report:

"A government study found that a used .50 caliber BMG sniper rifle can be purchased online for just $29.95"

Armed Canadian has the skinny on this one.

In the News

Back during the cold war, one frequently could see headlines in the Enquirer and its sibling publications that began with the words "Leading Russian Scientists...", and going on to describe earth-shaking advances that would shortly bring about utopia/fall of the west/whatever.

These stories, it turned out, originated with the same two Russian "scientists" every time. They would put together some far-fetched yarn, and perhaps an accompanying picture, and then the fun started. The KGB had friends in various papers all over the world, most of them rather small local rags who got their stories from the KGB the same was American papers get their news from AP. Notably, these stories went to a small paper in India, who would print anything handed to them without question. They reported, honestly, that "it has been reported that...", insert story here.

Note that the veracity of the report was not the issue, only that it had been reported.

The story next appears in an African paper, of similar repute, but now its "it has been widely reported that", since the story had now appeared on 2 continents. Lastly the National Enquirer would pick it up with all the notes about how widely the story has been reported, and put it on the front page.

The Democrats have caught on to this technique.

You've got to admit, with a willing press, it works.

Up the Irish

Three cheers and a hoisted pint for the Irish!

The Irish today voted to reject the Lisbon Treaty, AKA the new European constitution. You may remember it as the one that runs 260-odd single-spaced pages and covers pretty much everything. When it was originally put forward for referendum across Europe, it was frequently rejected by the voters, much to the annoyance of the largely unelected bureaucracy who would be the biggest beneficiaries.

This time around, the thing was packaged as a treaty, which sometimes required only the signature of a nations PM to make it binding on the whole country. In Ireland, they put the treaty to a vote.

Bad idea.

Anyone who hands you a constitution that won't fit into 3 pages of single-spaced 12 point is trying to sell you something you don't really want to buy.

Up the Irish

The Irish today voted to reject the Lisbon Treaty, AKA the new European constitution. You may remember it as the one that runs 260-odd single-spaced pages

Three cheers and a hoisted pint for the Irish!

Anyone who hands you a constitution that won't fit into 3 pages of single-spaced 12 point is trying to sell you something you don't really want to buy.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Eeeeevil conspiracies. I love a good conspiracy. I haven't seen a really good one since the "smoking bananas" hoax of the late 60s. Here's one in a darker vein, but I know there are better ones than that.
Here's mine, based on the one in the previous link:

It’s all part of the deal Bush made with the Clintons. He would prepare the camps, on the grounds that captured terrorists need to be kept somewhere, and when Hillary was sworn in (you don’t think they’d let Obama get the presidency, did you) the enemies of the state (of the trilateral commission, that is) would quietly disappear, and in return for his help, Bush would get a generous “retirement package” over and above what he would normally get. Hillary would then invoke those executive orders to disband congress and declare herself “president for life”, a title lost to the Dems since 1944.

OK, blogsters, internet meme time. Tag you’re it. Take a big hit off the ‘ol bong, and see if you can do better.

The North American Union one is off limits. Hillary doesn't want to be president of Mexico. They can just cast absentee ballots.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


There's a nice post over on Samizdata on how awful the republican candidate is, and how the dumb republicans deserve to be punished for nominating him, complete with witty repartee from Libertarians around the US on how they will not give up their principles, even if it means the end of the world, or something near it.

Libertarians are like locusts who come out of the ground every 4 years, trash the political landscape, and disappear again. If they would work on their party a bit in the by-elections and start bringing forward some saner candidates. they'd do better in the general elections.

If you really want to elect a democrat to "teach the republicans a lesson", vote for McCain, "the least repulsive democrat running". If you really think that Obama, led by Harry Reed and Nancy Pelosi, would be better, be honest and vote democratic.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Bike to Work

Posting has been light lately on account of the new job. The new job is fun, fast-paced, and close by. So close, in fact, that it's possible for me to get there on my bicycle. This, alone, is worth $140/month over the last job against driving the truck, or half that in the summer, versus riding the motorcycle. It's a nice ride, about half on a trail, and the other half busting stop signs and red lights like Lance Armstrong on crack.

The health benefits are good, too. I'm told that a bit of regular exercise improves ones thinking processes, and will reduce the recovery time one spends in the hospital after being run down by an irate car driver after busting a stop sign or red light.

Forget the red light part. In Littleton, the lights are so screwed up that it's worth it to take a slightly longer route rather then get stuck waiting for the things to eventually change, so my route no longer includes any light-controlled intersections.

I ride a recumbent, so avoiding traffic is probably a good idea anyway.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Friday Humor

Because it's Friday, I've shamelessly stolen this from someone else, who stole it from someone else without attribution, too.

Hello and thank you for calling The State Mental Hospital
Please select from the following options menu:
If you are obsessive-compulsive, press 1 repeatedly.
If you are co-dependent, please ask someone to press 2 for you.
If you have multiple personalities, press 3, 4, 5 and 6.
If you are paranoid, we know who you are and what you want, stay on the line so we can trace your call.
If you are delusional, press 7 and your call will be forwarded to the Mother Ship.
If you are schizophrenic, listen carefully and a little voice will tell you which number to press.
If you are manic-depressive, it doesn't matter which number you press, nothing will make you happy anyway.
If you are dyslexic, press 9696969696969696.
If you are bipolar, please leave a message after the beep or before the beep or after the beep. Please wait for the beep.
If you have short-term memory loss, press 9. If you have short-term memory loss, press 9. If you have short-term memory loss, press 9.
If you have low self-esteem, please hang up; our operators are too busy to talk with you.
If you are menopausal, put the gun down, hang up, turn on the fan, lie down and cry. You won't be crazy forever.
If you are blonde, don't press any buttons, you'll just mess it up.
This coming week is National Mental Health Care week.
You can do your part by referring this post at least one unstable person to show you care.

Smart Cars

I was chatting with a salesman today, who passed on this bit of automotive trivia: It seems that he was in Germany on business, and motoring down the autobahn at about 160kph (100 mph) in a BMW when he saw headlights flashing in his mirror. Being a courteous driver, he moved over to let the faster car pass. He described it as a turbo version of the smart car, and estimated it was doing about 200kph (125 mph).

He probably was not getting 60 MPG at the time.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Light-hearted Humor

Here's a quiz for you:

What Kind of a Western Bad-Ass are You?
You scored as a Clint Eastwood
Names aren't important as you dish out steaming bowls of piping hot brutality to your enemies. You also enjoy a good spaghetti dinner once in a while.
Clint Eastwood

Lee Marvin

John Wayne

Lee Van Cleef

Charles Bronson


And I like his hat, too.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Ding Dong, the Wicked Witch…

May not actually be dead, but AP and others are reporting that the Big O has the delegates to take the nomination. I’m half expecting a report later this evening that Hillary, after securing herself in her underground bunker, and sending out orders to her campaign staff to “kill all the chickens”*, has offed herself and ordered her body burned so as to prevent it falling into the enemies hands.

Of course there’s always the chance that Obama might offer her the #2 spot on the ticket. I’m thinking she’d take it, but even Obama knows that if he won the election on such a ticket he would be unable to buy life insurance anywhere in the US.

Why does this all remind me of South Park.

The news is also reporting that Obama is now reaching out to the Clinton folks. As long as he pre-screens the speeches and carefully removes any references to “crackers”, I suppose.

One of the things that sticks in my mind from the last several presidential elections, is that it seemed that at least one, and sometimes both parties did not actually want to win the election, seeing bad times and unpopular decisions ahead. This seems like one of those years, writ really large, with both parties stuck with only marginally popular candidates. I have voted for candidates before, not really liking them, but because I felt they would do me less damage than their opposite numbers. This year looks like a choice between “Death or Zub-zub”.

( In the joke, Zub-zub is a long, drawn out, humiliating and painful near-death experience, and death seems like a definite improvement until you find out that it is preceded by Zub-zub.)

*Look it up.