Monday, March 30, 2009

L'Argent Turonistanique

When Americans apply for a visa to visit Turonistan, one of their most frequently-asked questions is, "What's the current rate of exchange?" And the answer was always an easy one: "We use American dollars in Turonistan." Makes it easy when everything in a foreign country is listed in dollars, right?

Well, not anymore.

Sadly, the Turonistani Bureau of Engraving and Printing has just announced that we have cut ourselves off from the U.S. dollar. In fact, the B.E.P. has been closed and henceforth all currency will issued by the Turonistan Armory.

It seems the U.S. dollar is about to take a precipitous fall, and to protect citizens of Turonistan from this devaluation a new currency has been issued.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Time Exposure

Amazing collection of time-lapse photos.

500-fps Pellet Meets Fruit

VERY, VERY cool!

h/t Traction Control.

Living With Crazy Buttocks

LONDON -- A heavyweight study of the future of soft cheese has won Britain's annual competition to find the year's oddest book title. "The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-milligram Containers of Fromage Frais," by Philip M. Parker won the Diagram Prize, awarded Friday by trade magazine The Bookseller. The runner-up was primate study "Baboon Metaphysics," by Dorothy L. Cheney and Robert M. Seyfarth.

Horace Bent, who runs the award, said Parker's volume was a surprise winner given the competition from racier-sounding finalists like "Curbside Consultation of the Colon" - a medical manual - and hobby handbook "Strip and Knit With Style." Bent said "Fromage Frais" was a worthy winner that had "turned the supermarket chiller into the petri dish of literary innovation." Fromage frais - literally "fresh cheese" - is a dairy product that originated in France and has a similar consistency to sour cream. The book is a 188-page study of the global retail market for the product.

Parker's book is published by Icon Group and sells for a hefty $795 (euro589.)

The Diagram Prize was founded in 1978, and the winner is decided by public vote. This year's other finalists were "The Large Sieve and its Applications" and "Techniques for Corrosion Monitoring." Previous winners include "Bombproof Your Horse," "Living With Crazy Buttocks" and "People Who Don't Know They're Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

“The streets were dark with something more than night.”

Raymond Chandler died fifty years ago today.
"I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun.”
-- from “Farewell, My Lovely "

Two Heroes

Apropos of nothing.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

We Don' Need No Steenkin' FFLs!

Army officers look at weapons seized during operations against drug trafficking gangs at a military base in Reynosa, on Mexico's northeastern border with the U.S., Tuesday, March 17, 2009. Mexico has deployed more than 40,000 troops and federal agents as part of the nationwide crackdown on drug cartels.(Photo: AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini)
I see grenades, mortars and a belt-fed machine gun.

You can't buy those north of the border, not for love or money.

You CERTAINLY can't buy any of those at X-Caliber Guns in Phoenix.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


The Pungent Aroma Of Cannabis ...

. . . fills a dank, cool vault just north of the Mexican border. Shelves are piled with bales of marijuana totaling 27,000 pounds. One rack features boxes of methamphetamine, cocaine and other hard narcotics. Another is stacked with guns taken from smugglers. A file cabinet in the corner contains $500,000 cash.

Irresistible article on contraband vault in Nogales, Arizona.

Via boing-boing.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sylvia Plath's Son A Reported Suicide

The Times of London -
The son of tragedy-scarred poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath has killed himself 46 years after his mother gassed herself, The Times reported on Monday.

Man, that is just awful. He was a professor of fisheries in Alaska.

[edited to add:]
There was also this:

Dr Hughes’s parents split up before he was 1, his father leaving Plath for Assia Wevill, the exotic wife of another poet. The winter that followed was unrelentingly harsh. Struggling to get by on very little money as a single parent with two young children, Plath’s fragile mental state collapsed. She wrote many of her finest poems in a final burst of creativity and killed herself early one February morning.

Six years later Wevill, who had lived with Hughes and the children for much of the intervening period, also gassed herself. It was March 23, 1969 – 40 years ago today – and her death differed from Plath’s in one appalling respect: she had murdered four-year-old Shura [her daughter] in the process.

Those poor kids! Jeez, they just couldn't catch a break.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Saturday, March 21, 2009


In Hatcher's Notebook (pp 396-398) there is a description of some experiments in lock-time performed at Springfield Armory by John C. Garand on a model 1903 rifle. Garand measured the time, in milliseconds, between the tripping of the sear and the end of the firing pin travel in an ingenious way. He devised a rig consisting of the trigger mechanism mounted in a test stand. A rigid wire pointer was attached to the cocking piece. The end of the pointer was in contact with a "smoked disc", a rotating disc coated with lamp black, and the disc was spun at exactly 3057 RPM. The pointer thus made a circle on the spinning disc. When the sear was tripped, the pointer would move across the face of the disc to another position, and when it came to rest it would inscribe a circle of a smaller diameter on the disc. Connecting the outer circle and the inner circle would be a small helical section representing the time during which the lock mechanism was in motion. By measuring the angle of this section, and knowing the rotational speed of the disc, the lock time could be determined.

Garand found that the lock-time of the service rifle was 5.7 milliseconds, and the National Match rifle with the special headless firing pin was 4.9 milliseconds.

Garand then fabricated a special firing pin spring using chrome vanadium steel and square wire. However, when the wire was wound into a spring, the outer diameter of the wire was stretched and the inner diameter was compressed, and the coils of the spring would not lie flat. So Garand had special wire made with a "keystone" cross-section, so that the coils of the spring would lie flat when fully compressed. With this special spring he achieved a lock-time of only 2.2 milliseconds.

For comparison, modern bolt-action rifles have lock times in the region of 2.6 to 9.0 milliseconds. The legendary Remington 3200 shotgun has a lock-time of 3.2 milliseconds.

You can read a discussion of lock-time in shotguns in Bob Brister's "Shotgunning - The Art And Science" here:

Hatcher's Notebook can be found here:

Friday, March 20, 2009

"Is This The End Of America?"

Canadian columnist Terence Corcoran asks.

Commenter "MRX5000" answers,

If it's the end of America then it's the end of the world, including canada, so look out. We'll cross the border in roving packs, steal your women and your beer.

This Is The F.C.C.! Come Out With Your Hands Up!

Federal Communications Commission raids pirate radio station in Florida.

via boing-boing.

Today In History: Sarin Gas in Tokyo Subway

On the morning of 20 March 1995, Aum Shinrikyo members released sarin in a co-ordinated attack on five trains in the Tokyo subway system, killing 12 commuters, seriously injuring 54 and affecting 980 more. Some estimates claim as many as 5,000 people were injured by the sarin. It is difficult to obtain exact numbers since many victims are reluctant to come forward.

Steamed Bagels

Broad Ripple has a new bagel place; Roberta X has discovered it.

Google Earth has it, too. I wonder if the Google Earth photo car people stopped for a bagel?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

How To Stop An Avalanche

Using a 105mm recoilless rifle.

From the NYT.

If We Catch You Kissing, We'll Draft Ya!

Young women in Israel can avoid the draft if they claim religious modesty, but the Army may snoop on them, and if they're caught kissing a boyfriend . . . BUSTED.

What Plane?

The challenges of building spy planes in the middle of Burbank, California.

From the LA Times.

A Bouquet of Bangs

Bangs are IN! This is Elle MacPherson:

This is Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue. She was the real-life inspiration for Meryl Streep's character in The Devil Wears Prada:

Big Red Sun

A spectacular sunrise this morning. Huge, deep-red sun rising behind layers of horizontal clouds. Amazing!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Women's Orgasmic Meditation Center

In (where else?) San Francisco, located on (where else?) Folsom St.

What's He Doing In Austin?

From the New York Times:

To the Editor:

Here’s how the Obama administration should handle the A.I.G. bonus situation: Withhold the bonuses, then challenge the A.I.G. executives to sue. Let’s see how many of them would be willing to stand up in a courtroom, face a judge and a jury, and explain exactly why they deserved all that money.

John Holmes
Austin, Tex., March 16, 2009

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mexican Narco-war Arms from Central America

Mexican drug wars fueled by military arms smuggled from Central America. Excerpt:

Reporting from Zihuatanejo, Mexico, and Mexico City -- It was a brazen assault, not just because it targeted the city's police station, but for the choice of weapon: grenades.

The Feb. 21 attack on police headquarters in coastal Zihuatanejo, which injured four people, fit a disturbing trend of Mexico's drug wars. Traffickers have escalated their arms race, acquiring military-grade weapons, including hand grenades, grenade launchers, armor-piercing munitions and antitank rockets with firepower far beyond the assault rifles and pistols that have dominated their arsenals.

Most of these weapons are being smuggled from Central American countries or by sea, eluding U.S. and Mexican monitors who are focused on the smuggling of semiautomatic and conventional weapons purchased from dealers in the U.S. border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

The proliferation of heavier armaments points to a menacing new stage in the Mexican government's 2-year-old war against drug organizations, which are evolving into a more militarized force prepared to take on Mexican army troops, deployed by the thousands, as well as to attack each other.

These groups appear to be taking advantage of a robust global black market and porous borders, especially between Mexico and Guatemala. Some of the weapons are left over from the wars that the United States helped fight in Central America, U.S. officials said.

"There is an arms race between the cartels," said Alberto Islas, a security consultant who advises the Mexican government. "One group gets rocket-propelled grenades, the other has to have them."
Well, DUH!

But in Zihuatanejo? The personal paradise of Andy Dufresne? Inconceivable!

As Travel Declines, Aircraft Boneyard Fills Up

Photos from aircraft boneyard in Victorville, CA from the LA Times.

So Far, Few Ripples From Landmark Ruling on Guns

New York Times article on Heller vs D.C.

“A year ago, I might well have taken for granted the authority of Congress to require that a person charged with a crime be prohibited from possessing a firearm,” Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV of the Federal District Court in Manhattan wrote in December. Heller changed that, he said.

“The right to possess a firearm is constitutionally protected,” Judge Francis wrote. “There is no basis for categorically depriving persons who are merely accused of certain crimes of the right to legal possession of a firearm.”

The cases discussed so far all concerned federal laws, and there is no question that the Second Amendment applies to the federal government. The great open question after Heller is whether the Second Amendment also applies to the states or, in the legal jargon, whether the amendment is incorporated against them.

The Supreme Court has said that most but not all of the protections of the Bill of Rights are incorporated by the Fourteenth Amendment, one of the post-Civil War amendments.

The consensus among most legal scholars is that incorporation of the Second Amendment is likely....

Assault Weapon or Machine Gun?

Excellent video explains the difference:

Sunday, March 15, 2009

"Emergency" Book Review

The title of the book really IS "Emergency - This Book Will Save Your Life". The author, Neil Strauss, writes for the New York Times and Rolling Stone and is the author of several books. He describes his voyage from skeptic to survivalist in this unusual and entertaining book. Along the way he takes classes at Gunsite, learns Krav Maga, gets an Arizona CHL, a California security guard's license and gun permit, a ham radio license, an EMT certificate, attends tracker school and gets three days of survival training from Kevin "Mad Dog" McClurg. He learns how to set up an offshore limited liability corporation as a parent holding company for irrevocable trusts to shelter his assets. But the topper is that he gets a second passport from a foreign country, without compromising his American citizenship.

Here's an excerpt:

"If you're attacked by pirates,you can sink their boat with your Remington shotgun. Just remove a slug from the shell casing and drill a quarter-inch hole in the slug. Then insert a .22 short round backward and replace the slug. When fired at the water line of most boats, the round will blow a hole that can sink it." (p 350)

I had a lot of fun reading this book and I highly recommend it.

Oh, and he also buries a cache and leaves clues in his book about how to find it.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Ma Google

New Google phone apps to revolutionize residential phone service.

And threaten competitors.

Winston Churchill

Totally awesome bio from Badass Of The Week. Excerpt:

He also took every possible opportunity to tell Communism and Nazism to "suck it" because Churchill fucking loved Democracy and Capitalism and that's just how he rolled.

h/t Total Survivalist Libertarian Rantfest.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Monday, March 9, 2009

Was It Good For You, Too?

Ruby Scala enjoys a smoke in the aftermath of a flash mob pie fight at the Powell and Market cable car turnaround in San Francisco.

Barbie Turns The Big Five Oh!

Barbie was introduced on March 9, 1959.

It was the end of the world as we knew it.

"60 Minutes" Preparing Segment on Gun Shows

According to an email alert from VCDL:
Yesterday at the large (and very crowded) Richmond C&E gun show at the Showplace, the CBS show "60 Minutes" was filming a segment dealing with gun shows, gun show legislation, and the recent explosion of firearm and ammunition sales due to concerns that the new administration might be hostile to the second amendment, worries about the economy, and potential terrorism.

I was interviewed at length by Lesley Stahl and I walked some of the show floor with her.

The camera crew and I also went to Dominion Shooting Range in Richmond to film me shooting. Dominion graciously helped with the arrangements.

Some of you are probably drawing in a deep breath about this time, and I thoroughly understand.

However, VCDL has had a policy of being open with the press, even those who have been hostile to gun owners in the past.

Last summer VCDL cooperated with ABC's "Nightline" on a story on open carry, which I thought was very fair: )

Saturday, March 7, 2009

What Happens To A Bullet Fired Straight Up?

A 150-gr .30-'06 bullet will return to earth at 320 feet per second.

A 718-gr .50-caliber bullet will return to earth at about 500 feet per second, with energy of about 400 foot pounds.

A 1000-pound 12-inch artillery shell will return with a speed of about 1300-1400 feet per second and over 28,000,000 ft. lbs. of energy.

- from "Hatcher's Notebook", p514

N.Y. Times Describes War In Iraq As "Victory"

"The main mission has instead shifted almost entirely from combat to stability operations, from fighting insurgents to rebuilding Iraq's services and shattered economy in a way that could offer a better chance for the country to succeed, making America's exit more like a victory than a retreat."

Friday, March 6, 2009

Congratulations Are In Order

Via James we learn that his blog and 49 others have been named
"Fifty Best Blogs For Gun Enthusiasts" by the Criminal Justice Degrees Guide.

The list includes:

And thirty-nine more that I don't read regularly. But I have bookmarked the announcement page and will use it as a "Favorites" list.

[Edited to add David Hardy's "Arms And The Law"]

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Today In History: The Death Of Stalin

Stalin died March 5, 1953.

This mug shot and information card on "I. V. Stalina" is from the files of the Tsarist secret police in Saint Petersburg, 1911.

British Pie Week Starts Sunday

And the winner is ....

London Times.

Filmmaker plans "Eyeborg" eye-socket camera

via Reuters.

Curio and Relic Eligible

1918 Maxim machine gun, expected to fetch $8,000 - 12,000.

h/t Sharp As A Marble.

Today In History: The Match Is Lit ...

It's lit in the garage of Gordon French of Menlo Park, California.

March 5, 1975 was the first meeting of the Homebrew Computer Club, from whose ranks would come Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak and other computer luminaries, such as legendary hacker Captain Crunch, aka John Draper.

from Wired.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I Had A Dream ...

... about a Super Gun-Blogger Fest, like the ones in Indianapolis. Only this one was national, and there were hundreds of gunnies, maybe thousands, dining and socializing together. And in my dream there were metal detectors at all the entrances. And if you couldn't make it chirp, you couldn't come in.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Harold and Maude

This 1971 film is one of my favorites. It didn't attract much attention when it was released. I saw it at the Biograph theater in Richmond in 1974 and can't remember being so affected by a movie. Wow! The best use of music in any movie, ever!
Hal Ashby, Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon

One of the first movies directed by Hal Ashby. He was a superb film editor ("The Russians Are Coming!", "The Thomas Crown Affair", and "In the Heat of the Night" for which he won the Academy Award in 1968) But for some reason, his bio on doesn't even mention "Harold and Maude".

Ruth Gordon was the oldest person ever to host Saturday Night Live. She was also a close friend of Natalie Wood and was godmother to Wood's daughter Natasha Gregson Wagner ("High Fidelity").
Ruth Gordon won the 1968 Academy Award for
Best Supporting Actress for "Rosemary's Baby"
In her acceptance speech, she said, "I can't tell
you how encouraging a thing like this is, for a
young actress like myself."

Bed-Head: Ruth Gordon in 1920.

"Don't be officious! You're not yourself when you're officious.
That is the curse of a government job."

Stealing a cop's motorcycle.

The screenplay was an original by Colin Higgins. He was gay and that may explain the very poignant "forbidden love" theme. He died of AIDS in 1988.