Saturday, May 31, 2008

Civics test

This is a civics literacy test, it is only a test.....

You answered 50 out of 60 correctly — 83.33 %
Average score for this quiz during May: 73.4%
Average score since September 18, 2007: 73.4%

Some of the questions are pretty esoteric. I guess I should have read more of the heavy philosophers so I could understand the real, underlying reasons for shooting at revenuers.

Gun Goodness

Based on the results from the last club match, and the last postal match, I'm a bit off my pace, and in need of more range time.

Mmmmm range time.

The next postal match is up at Sebastians, and what do you know, it's something I've done before: NRA Silhouette. He's even added a masochists class for you folks who believe in leaving no target unshot, no matter what it takes.
1.Bring lots of ammo for this one.
2. You will be expected to count ALL the holes.

For me, this would be easy since by the time I hit every single target, there would be only one large ragged hole in the paper.

Sex in the City

Whilst hanging about with my homies at the range today, we put our collective heads together and figured out how to get husbands and S.O.s to take their ladies to the otherwise too-chic(k)-to-be-seen-at woofer of a flick: Place it at multiplexes, and insure that the theater across the hall is showing a Best of Benny Hill compilation. Going to a movie together doesn't necessarily mean sitting together, now does it?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Cap and Trade, or Rationing Fire

John McCain has proposed a “Cap and Trade” scheme to help save the world from Global warming (see post below). Let me try to explain in simple terms that even I can understand, just what this means.

First, there’s carbon, in the form of carbon dioxide. When Mr. McCain proposes limiting carbon emissions, you bet he isn’t talking about the black solid stuff. That’s called coal, and is used for fuel in a process called combustion, or if you are a simple rock-banger like me: fire. Now there are two types of fire, the traditional type used for cooking or transportation, and the lower-level, but no less important kind called metabolism, without which you become a candidate for use of the first kind, which changes your status from “member of society” to “food”.

“Cap and Trade” refers primarily to the first kind. You burn carbon (mostly) and in return you get cooked food, transportation, and a warm place to sleep. So far, so good. Under the proposed scheme, everybody will be given a ration card (allocation) for an arbitrary amount of fire (permission to burn carbon). Some will need more than their allocation, and some will need less. Maybe you agree with Pope Al that the world is getting warmer, and decide to drive to Jellystone park for a summer vacation, betting that winter will be warm, and you won’t need permission to burn extra carbon to heat your house in December. If you’re wrong, and you have some money, you can buy permission to burn carbon from someone who doesn’t need as much heat or transport as you, say the Cuban government. Of course if you don’t have money, you may have to sit out the snowfall wrapped in blankets at home. Remember, any powered transport at all requires a ration card to use. Hope you live close to work.

Speaking of work, note that businesses are also included in this plan. In fact, they’re the primary targets of it. Imagine that the company you work at, say Acme Widgett, needs to produce 4 million widgets a year to cover their expenses, including, but not limited to, your paycheck. Now, imagine that the amount of fire allocated to them by the Dept of Fire, falls a bit short of what’s actually needed to produce those widgets. First off, nobody gets a raise next year, as the money is necessary to buy more fire rations. Second, some of the employees will be let go, for the same reason. Third, unpaid overtime will be required, and lastly, the factory will be relocated to some place where all you have to pay for is the energy, and not some damnfool permission slip to actually use it. Places like this are, universally, in another country, and you can bet they won’t pay to relocate you there, even if you actually wanted to go.

So Cap and Trade is actually an all-encompassing tax on fire in pretty much any and all forms, coupled with an arbitrary, and decreasing limit on how much can be used for any purpose, independent of population shifts or anything else.

Imagine a utopian future in which Winter is cold, Summer is hot, shelter is a cave, and food is killed with a pointy stick and eaten raw, as nature intended.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Global Warming

I love a good hoax. Properly executed, they provide entertainment by causing some folks to behave irrationally to the amusement of others. The scale is only limited by the means of communication for the thing. One of the largest was H.G.Wells radio broadcast of War of the Worlds. My own personal favorite in recent history was the “Bananas-as-a-hallucinogen” hoax of the late 60s. Think of them as the practical jokes of the mind.

They can be abused, however, and when this happens, they transform from a relatively harmless hoax to an outright fraud, the difference being that a fraud is perpetrated to separate someone from their life, liberty, or property, and is a crime in most societies.

Historic frauds include various end-of-the-world scams involving perps predicting the imminent demise of everybody, and promising salvation, or something, to anyone who would turn over their soon-to-be-worthless worldly goods to them. Several of these turned out not too badly when the instigators, apparently believing their own prophecies, neglected to leave town in a timely manner with the most portable of the worldly goods, and were treated to their very own apocalypse by their former devotees.

I am NOT advocating that anyone set out to make their living by becoming a professional grafter, but if you must, the best way to run one of these is to describe some vaguely defined, but definitely bad outcome that can only be forestalled by a modest, but regular sacrifice. Money, for example. An example of this is the ongoing NPR fund drive, without which, NPR would have to rely exclusively on taxpayer funding. Donate, they say, or else we’ll be shut down. Unlikely, I say.

The best scam yet, millennial division, has to be Global Warming. For this, you pick a phenomenon that’s been going on since the rocks cooled, and inform people that unless they sacrifice mightily, the phenomenon will …. keep on happening, but you won’t like it. The threat is so nebulous that anything at all can be used to “prove” it, and the consequences so awful (Canadian wine, Manhattan populated by gondolas) that no tax is too high, no regulation too onerous, and no bureaucracy too useless if it forestall the coming doom.

Here is a list of things that will happen, or might have already happened, as a result of global warming. For myself, I suppose I can tolerate the beer shortage . I’ll drink rum and suffer.

H.T. to my friend Robert for the disaster list.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Blow Up The World

This is the RSVP page/post. RSVP in the comments.
Below is the map, note location in upper right-hand corner.

Google Maps address is 35550 E. 144th Ave, Hudson, CO.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Republican Party

There has been a good deal of discussion lately on what, exactly ails the Republican party. At the end of the day, it has too be a wholesale abandonment of first principles. Last year, while chatting with a friend, i blamed this on the Dems sudden apparent lurch to the left, exiling Lieberman and all that. As nature abhors a vacuum, the leftward shift of the Dems set off a leftward shift in the Republicans, seeking to cover the abandoned center-left ground.

My position is that socialism-lite is like smoking lite cigarettes: doesn't taste as bad, but in the end, you're just as dead.

The republicans were quite successful with the "Contract with America" concept which laid out basic principles, and required signatory candidates to at least promise to abide by them. Good idea then, good idea now. The Republicans should produce a very basic document outlining very basic principles, (KISS principle) stating that the undersigned candidates will abide by them.

They need to make sure this document is widely circulated and as time passes, make REAL sure the signatories stick with the contract.

Signatories would call themselves the Contract Coalition, which can, in time, morph into a real party in and of itself.

Vote CC.
Get what you pay for.

Possible line items for this document would be:
1. Less government. There are lots of things the government has no business doing.
2. Lower taxes. If the government isn't trying to mind everybody's business, it doesn't need the money it collects to do this.
3. Pay closer attention to legitimate obligations. do cost-benefit studies before spending Brazillions on stadiums or toy train sets.
4a. Border security. At the local level, requiring proof of citizenship and e-verification of SSN goes a long ways toward discouraging illegal immigration. If you know in advance that there's no jobs and no government dole here if you're illegal, it really reduces the incentive to come here in the first place.

At the Federal level, national defense and free trade become important issues. An awful lot of other stuff is at best, fluff, at worst, pork.

4b Border security. Same as 4a, but includes actually securing the border.

5. Tort reform. Several states have accomplished this on their own. Needs to be done at the Federal level. Won't happen at all until the lawyers' lackeys are run out of town.

Other items could certainly be added, but I think the list should profitably be kept to 5 major items at either the local or Federal level.

On a slightly different note, Boris Johnson, in his campaign for Mayor of London, lampooned his opponent, "Red" Ken Livingstone's extravagant, if baseless promises by facetiously promising that, if elected, every mans wife would have bigger breasts, and there would be a BMW Z3 in every garage. Boris is a conservative while "Red" Ken didn't get the tag for his hair color.

Boris, now that I think about it, was probably to an extent, justified in making such a promise.
Elect a conservative and he will stop the job-killing, tax-hiking BS the left proposes, and your job won't need to be outsourced, you'll keep more of your paycheck, and you'll be able to afford cosmetic surgery and a new sports car (YMMV). It's your money, after all.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Polar Bear Endangered

The DOI has declared the polar bear an endangered species, so if you find one rooting through your trash, don't shoot it. Go out and give it a big hug.

Political humor

British scientists got the go-ahead today to begin producing human-animal hybrids.

Ted Kennedy is having all his female staffers donate cells to be sent over and mixed with fish DNA in hopes of producing a campaign aide who can breathe under water.

Ba-dump, ching!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

CZ vz82 vs. Rossi .357

Just finished a postal match over at Armes et tir passion, using both my regular 6" Rossi .357 and my new (to me) CZ 82. The results rather surprised me. The Rossi is a known quantity, and I've been shooting it in informal competitions for several years now. The CZ is my first centerfire semiauto and I'm still getting used to it.

Disregarding the flier on the center target, the Rossi delivered an average score of 7.75/shot, while the 4" CZ on the left, delivers 8.4.

The second target is a single bowling pin image. Bullseye is the triangle on the bottom half of the pin.
At the rather modest distances I was shooting at, the point of aim for the Rossi was about 1/2" above the bottom center of the pin, and for the CZ it was the lower RH corner of the dark stripe around the pin neck. The Rossi delivered a 2.75" group, and the CZ came in at 3.4".

All things considered, including the fact that this was not one of my better days at the range, the little CZ is proving to be quite good.

NOTE: In case you're not familiar with pin shooting, a real pin shoot features real pins on a table with some depth to it, so that if you don't get a good square hit, the pin falls over and rolls to a position that presents the smallest possible area and worst angle to the shooter, and your time runs until you clear the table. I would not recommend the CZ for pin shooting as it's a bit underpowered for this kind of work, but for paper pins, it works fine.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


When I started this blog, I really didn’t want to get wrapped around the axle of politics, but in an election year, I suppose it’s unavoidable, especially in light of my own interfaces with the forces of bureaucratically imposed mediocrity.

I am a born tinkerer. I recently found a picture of my very first motorcycle, which I built when I was in high school. This thing started as a Huffy 3-speed bicycle, and I added a 3hp horizontal shaft lawnmower engine. The go-kart clutch and sprocket set from Sears drove into what was formerly the pedal crank, and from there back to the rear hub. No one ever warned Sturmey-Archer there would be days like this. You had to shift very carefully, lest you strip the innards out.

I actually licensed the thing. This involved visiting offices across 2 counties and 5 municipal districts, which I accomplished easily by driving the thing from office to office. At the end of the day, I had my plate, and was asking myself why I had bothered, as not a single cop had so much as looked at me twice, and they had all seen me at least once.

Later I branched out into trikes. They seemed so easy to make, and they were. After the first one I knew most of the things to avoid, and I had a good handle on what the DMV wanted, and what it actually needed, which are 2 entirely different things.

After 3 VWs, I built one from a Buick, and learned that the CO DMV understood what a VW trike was, and had no problem with it. If you say “Just like a VW trike.” the faces go slack and the approvals are forthcoming. If you suggest you have anything more than just passably different, the wheels grind quickly to a stop.

When you visit the DMV, repeat the magic mantra of approval:

“Just like a VW trike.”

“Just like a VW trike.”

“Just like a VW trike.”

You’ll be out in half an hour.

My last vehicle was sort of a doctors thesis in bureaucratic management. This one was made from a Subaru, and featured 2 wheels in front, and one in back. No matter what I said, I could not convince anyone that this was even remotely like a VW trike. The dickering over the paper on this thing ran 2 months, and included an engineer’s negotiation (pissing contest) with the deputy director. In the end, I got my paper, but was required to add in floorboards, a windscreen, and a windshield wiper on my 3-wheeled motorcycle.

The documents I had to produce were a stack nearly half an inch thick, and the process ate up valuable summer development time, so some of the bugs never did get sorted out. The D.D. also wrote out a 3-page “office memo”, which in his case carried the weight of statute law without involving a bothersome legislature or Governor, defining what constituted a “3-wheeled motor vehicle” in the state of Colorado, overriding existing statutes. Needless to say, my Subie did NOT meet his specs. Fortunately, this sort of meddling is limited to the tenure of the wonk writing it, and he’s long gone. The other day, I believe I saw my old Subie with the bugs worked out, cruising down the road. Victory for the good guys!

The point of all this is that I have a couple of ideas bubbling on the back burner, which might get started at some point.

At this point, politics, again, raises its ugly head.

The Federal government is not permitted by the constitution to actually do very much, but since FDR, has figured out how to grow and justify the growth. Each state sends money to the Feds, and the Feds spend a modest part of it on stuff they’re supposed to do: Provide for the national defense, maintain the patent office, and regulate commerce between the states, for example. After that the money is returned to the states, in approximate proportion to what was sent, but with conditions attached, and after some percentage is removed. If a state wants to improve its roadways, for example, it must know what to kiss, and how much tongue to use if it wants to see any of its money. In our case, road repairs came at the price of putting half the money into a trolley system that primarily benefits the mayor of Denver, and a requirement that the newly widened roads be restricted to their former width during peak usage hours, to promote car pooling. The upshot is that we only got ½ the roadways we thought we paid for, and most of us aren’t allowed to use them when we need them most. For this, we re-elect our congressmen.

By my own count, restricted access, or “carpool” lanes serve about 4% of the motoring public, and take 33% of the available pavement. The trolley system takes another 2% of the commuters off the streets, according to their own usage stats. This is good enough to get their funding increased every year over any voter objection.

Carpool lanes, being social engineering at its worst, the permitted users have been expanded from carpoolers (2 old ladies in a Caddy going gambling) to motorcyclists,

who are already at 50% capacity, and hybrid vehicles. So far, I do not believe the Smart car qualifies for the Birkenstock lane, as it’s not a hybrid, but I’m sure that’s coming.

In the summer, I really enjoy the carpool lanes on my motorcycle, bombing along at 50 mph while the peasantry is parked, watching me go by. My biggest fear is that frustration will overcome the fear of the $40 ticket, and someone will pull into my lane in front of me. This frequently happens, and the police have turned commuter frustration into a cash cow at certain locations.

In the winter, the state frequently neglects to assign me a rider to carpool with, and my employers recklessly neglect to hire people in contiguous neighborhoods, so I’m stuck in my car, alone, and wasting gas.

Remember that motorcycles are allowed among the anointed all year round. Now, what if someone were to take a Geo Metro, to keep this simple, and replaced the rear axle with a single wheel. This can be registered as a homebuilt motorcycle. With heater, defroster, windscreen, doors, cupholders, and everything, suitable for getting to work in the icy grip of global warming.

I’m starting a new job, close enough to ride a bicycle to, and not subject to any restricted lanes in any case, so the urge to do this has dropped off. I am available as a consultant, should some daring soul feel up to fighting the DMV dragon.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


On a somewhat more serious note, you can tell a lot about someone by the friends he or she has. Thanks to Power Line blog for this rather edifying video of an Obama call center. Watch the video before it's pulled.

Just to keep things balanced, Mr. McCain has been attending the church of Pope AlGore, and is sated with kool-aid.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Political humor

The folks attacking Mulligans Bar (see post below) no longer have anything to complain about.

Now I'm not a big fan of Obama, but this goes beyond anything and fast approaches a crime against humanity.

No accounting for taste, I guess, as some folks are debating replacing their classic renditions of dogs playing poker or the fat sweaty Elvis for one of these.

Political humor

Mulligans Bar in Marietta GA is being attacked for allegedly portraying Obama as Curious George.

The local assemblages of the perpetually offended are most likely upset because after all these years of referring to president Bush as "Chimpy McHalliburton", implying a relation to one of the great apes, their candidate is reduced to the status of a monkey.

I personally think that a 2-term president should rate higher status than a 2/3 term senator, and can only laugh now that the banana is in the other foot. Class envy at its worst.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Guns and crime

D.C. is following Chicago's lead and has decided that the solution to endemic gun violence is to flood the streets with assault weapons.

Considering that most of the time, by the time the cops get there, the shooting has stopped and all that remains is to draw the outline around the bodies and mark the shell casings.....


For those of you too young to remember the Ford Thunderbolt (no, NOT Thunderbird), you can still buy an exercise in outrageousness from the blue oval folks.

H/T to Tam

Man Skills

Popular mechanics has a list of 25 skills every man should know, of which I think several could be traded for an alternate skill and a honey-do to be named later. One of these is "Expand your wireless home network.

Well, OK, I think this one is kind of marginal myself, in that the occasion to use it comes along every 10 years or so, and the technology will be radically different every time. This should logically fall under the category of things you can do if you can read and follow simple directions.

I have 2 computers, 1 modem, 1 router / hub / switch, the assistance of multiple talented friends, and access to the all-knowing internet, and getting this hooked up and running is kicking my ass.

So far, the process is sort of like starting in the divorce court and working your way back to the honeymoon, as both machines can now get out on the net, but refuse to acknowledge each others existence. Oh well, almost there.

Man skills, to my mind, fall into 2 categories: Emergency actions where life, death, or at least serious injury are at stake, and recurring tasks that need to be done competently.

In category 1 would be things like rescuing the capsized boater, setting a broken bone, stopping major bleeding and the like. A situational aptitude test I remember seeing once had a question reading: "Under your desk are the dis-assembled parts of an '03 Enfield rifle and 5 rounds of ammunition. In 5 minutes a hungry tiger will be released into the room. Take whatever action you deem necessary. Be prepared to justify your actions."

You could probably get extra credit for shooting the hippie in the seat next to you and using his body to distract the tiger while you finish the test. Tigers are endangered, after all.

In category 2 would be things like changing a tire, using basic power tools, reading and following simple directions, changing the oil in your car, taking out the trash, and saying "Yes, dear" in a suitably convincing manner. The criteria for competency in category 2 is that your attempt doesn't get you into category 1.

Friday, May 9, 2008


Volkswagen is getting on board the three-wheel bandwagon with the 1l concept "car", which is so named because it can get 100 km/1L of petrol, which translates into some 230+ mpg.

The 2-in-front configuration has always been the more stable way to make a three-wheeler, and in most states, such a ride is considered a motorcycle, and thus exempt from a bunch of nanny-state regulations imposed on automobiles.

Here, for example, are 3 examples of what you get from this approach. #3 is what you get when you start with an unassuming Subaru GL station wagon (FWD only) and throw out everything you don't actually need to make it go. Ah, if only I had some skill at making the swoopy bodywork. That ugly duckling would, I'm guessing, do the 1/4 mile in the 13s.

What I really regret is that the donor car I really wanted, was unavailable, due to its owner being the kind of pack rat who probably still has the thing parked in the weeds in front of his house. The first choice donor car was a 78 Cad Eldorado with a 455 V-8. Just think, the end product would have come in at around 1000 lbs with all that HP and torque. Zowie!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The next election

Since it's now fashionable to begin campaigning one or two election cycles in advance*, check out Emmit Tyrells postulation as to who might be running for the presidency in 2016. Tyrell suggests that Obama might well not only get elected, but also be a 2-termer, although I'm not even close to being that kind of doom-sayer. I'm having a hard time seeing the big-O getting elected in the first place.

Mr Johnson is a happy, well-adjusted proper conservative with a background in executive management, journalism, and television comedy. Sort of like Fred Thompson, only younger, with a blond haystack of hair, and actual enthusiasm for the job.

What's not to like? Well, we'll find out over the next few years as he settles in to his new job as Mayor of London.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Postal Match

The postal match for May is up at Armes et tir passion, and it's posted in English so you can read the rules. It's a sort of training match for pin shooting.

For those of you who have never done it, it's tougher than you'd think. First you have to hit the bowling pin with a hand gun. Second, it doesn't count until it's off the table. You get 5 pins to shoot for time. Pins that fall over and remain on the table have an annoying way of aligning themselves in such a way as to be able to ignore your best efforts by spinning in place.

Printed targets should fill an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Motorcycles and offspring

My daughter has a MC learners permit which lets her ride with a more experienced rider. Group of 2 or more. Coming back from shopping yesterday some doof had done a leftie in front of not one, but 2 large (Road King sized) bikes. Bagged both of them. Last year here, someone did the same thing and got 4 at a single whack. I think one died. Don't know how the 2 from yesterday made out.

I keep reminding her, and anyone else who will listed that riding a bike is a lot like the old Pontiac commercial that featured the giant ball bearings rolling through the city streets and the Pontiac deftly avoiding them. Traffic is the giant mindless steel ball bearings. They generally follow conservation of momentum, but are subject to occasional random direction changes. They are not actively trying to kill you, they are simply oblivious to your existence.

The fact that they have stopped and the driver is looking right at you does not mean the driver actually sees you. Most of the drivers have not been trained to look for 2-wheelers. They know the shape of another car, or a truck or pedestrian, but do not look for a bike. The proliferation of scooters this year, operated by people who don't know how to ride them, will likely result in a big jump in 2-wheel fatalities, which will result in a bunch of nitwit laws proposed, but no change to the drivers ed coursework to emphasize cycle awareness.

An awareness campaign would save a lot of lives. A push for a helmet law will get a politician a lot of camera time. Guess which is most likely.

Guns and Cosmetics

The gun community has been slowly coming around to the idea that you can make a gun in something other than dark walnut and dark blued metal bits. Some of the folks in my shooting club have rifles with painted stocks, and yes, even flame jobs. There's even a significant collection of pink guns available for the ladies whose tastes incline that way.

This may be overdoing it, just a tad, you think?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Squirrel Gun

It appears there's a small problem with the pneumatic squirrel gun. I've seen a couple of them nosing around the barrel, but it seems the little lardbutts don't want to, or can't climb up the 3 in tube. Well no problem-o, I have a 4 in tube, and have installed it.

Come to daddy.

Friday, May 2, 2008

World Politics

In Italy last week, conservative Silvio Berlusconi was returned to office with big margins. What was even more significant was that, in a country where MPs are elected by proportional representation, where 3 soft-core porn actresses have held seats, the Italian Communist party and their close personal friends, the Greens failed to win a single seat.
Yesterday, in England, the socialist Labor party suffered a defeat that could be compared to "national thermonuclear devastation". Even in the left-leaning bastion of London the mayor, "Red" Ken Livingstone, has been turned out.

With pro-capitalist, conservative governments now in power in Germany, France, and now England, is it too much to expect that the same could happen here?

The Workshop

OK, here it is in all its glory, the pneumatic squirrel launcher.

It is balanced near the middle on the wooden support. Air is supplied via the hose to a port by the gage, visible on the right. Inside the barrel, all the way back, is a piece of ethrafoam with peanut butter smeared on it. The weight of a squirrel is enough to cause the whole thing to tilt slowly clockwise until the plenum hits a switch mounted on the right end of the base. This triggers the lawn sprinkler valve, the green object between the barrel and the air plenum, launching the little rodent far, far away.

Note to any budding mad scientists out there: A 24 VAC sprinkler valve will work just fine on 12 VDC. The cordless drill I use is a $10 (on sale) Drillmaster unit from Harbor Freight. It is 14 or 18 volts, depending on the vintage. If you run the valve at 18 VDC for extended periods of time, you will burn out the coil. Short time use is fine. The sprinkler valve is rated at 120 psi. The Spears company will tell you to never put compressed gases into its PVC tubing. Over time the oil that goes with the compressed gas will degrade the PVC, and it WILL fail. You've been warned.