Sunday, January 31, 2010

A fella could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff.

From Firearms

Like the AFT, that sounds more like an awesome store than a government agency.

Dice and destructive devices! Git 'em while they're hot!

Friday, January 29, 2010

SMRT guns

Fun fact: A ways back, New Jersey passed a law requiring all handguns sold in the state to have "smart gun" technology, which prevents the gun from being fired by anyone but its owner.

There was only one problem (okay, one problem _apart_ from the fact that it's a horrible idea once you start thinking about it). Smart guns don't exist. The NJ law goes into effect "three years after the Attorney General determines that the user recognition technology is commercially available."

See, people tend to get irregular grips when firing under stress, which rules out biometric systems. But _all_ systems face a pair of fundamental problem. A gun is a very hostile place for electronics, and those electronics need to work correctly and instantly every single time. Existing projects are nowhere near solving these problems, they show no sigh of making significant progress in the forseeable future, and most have been abandoned completely. Most reasonable people recognize that it's a good intentioned idea that doesn't realistically work out in real life.

Except, evidently, the Germans. Teutonic death-merchants at Armatix have just unveiled a $10,000 .22 pistol that doesn't shoot unless you're wearing an ugly watch. Or at least, it _usually_ doesn't.

And at any point, the NJ AG can start a three-year clock on this overpriced, unreliable, anemic abomination becoming the only handgun you can legally buy in Jersey.

Oy, whatta state.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Shot at Love with Elsie Pea

At long last, after a two and a half month long investigation by our elite and highly competent State Police, the great state of New Jersey finally granted me its grudging permission to bring home the Ruger LCP I paid for at the beginning of last November.

I picked her up last week, and she's been settling into our place nicely. Here's the first picture of Elsie, who's a bit of a bookworm:

From Firearms

As you can see, she's a petite one. The photo doesn't show it well, but she's svelte, too. She doesn't disappear in my small, girlish hands the way she does in some people's, but still, the difference between this gun and my only marginally smaller but much stockier Browning 1955 is striking. The half-inch shorter barrel, slightly narrower handle, and much lighter weight (courtesy of all the plastic in her frame) put her in a whole different category. She still prints through my pants in her cheap Uncle Mike's pocket holster, but I'll be buying her a swanky, fitted black leather ensemble in the near future. I can't wait to take her to Maine, and should probably step up the plans for a PA-compatible permit. (Is this metaphor gonna put me on the wrong side of the Mann Act?)

She's a classy girl, who obviously cares about her appearance. Where her twin sister tarts it up and looks a bit unkempt, with Elsie not a hair is out of place. Her magazine can accessorize with either of two interchangable floorplates: one has a lower profile while the other has a little horn on it. I find I need the horny one to keep a decent grip on her when she gets down to business. It's the only way I can get purchase with two fingers at the same time.

But enough about the courtin' and the first date. On Monday Danielle and I took Elsie to the range and got to third base with her.

Now, I'm not actually an LCP virgin. At this same range, I'd paid ten bucks for an hour with a rental gun. She was down on her luck and a little worse for wear from going through so many customers before me, but she could still do everything she had to. That LCP liked it rough, and while I learned how everything works from her, she left me feeling beat and uncomfortable, thinking that it was all about the goal, and that getting there wasn't too enjoyable in itself.

With Elsie, though, it was different. I think I'm the one who changed. I'm stronger now, and better able to handle the give and take of this kind of relationship. Don't get me wrong, after about 75 rounds each, Danielle and I were ready to call it a day--Elsie's tiny and light on her feet, but she's still really spunky and demanding (must be Irish). But it was a good tired, not the pain and vague resentment we'd always feel after firing off a few mags with the Browning or that LCP of easy virtue. Even when she roughhouses, it's playful; on my first shot, she flung the spent brass straight up, where it bounced off the ceiling and bopped me on the noggin. Danielle's considering picking up one of her own (at least in the same class, if not actually an LCP), since sharing Elsie when it really counts would be impractical.

Elsie isn't a picky eater. We had a mixed buffet of various American and Serbian dishes (which I'd never tried before), ball and hollow-point, and she cheerfully pecked away without a single complaint.

Her accuracy is fine for what she is. We aren't going to be picking off rams and chickens at 50 yards, but that isn't her specialty. Elsie's a close up, quick and dirty kind of girl, who promises to be strong and reliable in a crisis, not elegant and precise, calm and distant. From a low-ready position, I can snap up and instantly double-tap her to put two rounds in a six-inch circle at ten feet. For the scenes Elsie specializes in, that's plenty good enough. She has smaller than average sights, but again, that's all part of who she is (the 1955 was popular all through the first half of the 20th century with even smaller sights, and Elsie's great aunt doesn't even _have_ sights).

Now, like anybody, Elsie has her foibles. She's the first gun I've ever stripped that needed tools to get her undone. It's a small thing, and I don't mind bringing in some tools if that's what she likes, but I've gotten used to guns like the old-fashioned European 1955, and the rough-and-ready 1911 that are more than happy to strip when you just use your hands right. I understand the .22 MkIII is a vicious, frustrating little tease this way; once I've dealt with her, I'll probably be more understanding of Elsie's demands. Also, while I appreciate that Elsie thought to bring along a slide lock (unlike her less considerate twin sister), in an ideal world it would be the automatic kind that engages by itself when she's exhausted her ammunition. I can forgive this too, though; automatic slide stops are known to engage when they shouldn't if subjected to too much inertia, and Elsie generates a lot of kinetic energy when she gets going. Her slide lock's plenty good for holding her open between sessions, though, and I appreciate that (it tends to make the range officers happier).

All in all, I'm really smitten with Elsie, and see this NRE turning into a long-term relationship. I'm considering a couple little gifts, in addition to that slinky new holster. A ten-round magazine could be handy, but I'm not certian she's an extra-ammo kind of girl. Much more her speed, I know, is a laser sight. It complements her skills very well, and would really help compensate for her weaknesses. It's a very expensive gift, though, and I think it's prudent to get to know her a bit better before taking that plunge.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

From that first day, we were three...

And I--there lies the sting--I had and have no right to think thus of her. As she told me, I was naught to her, and never shall be through the unfathomed depths of Time, unless, indeed, conditions alter, and a day comes at last when two men may love one woman, and all three be happy in the fact. It is the only hope of my broken-heartedness, and a rather faint one. Beyond it I have nothing.
- She, by H. Rider Haggard, 1887

Honestly, I get why there are basically no polyamorous characters in mainstream fiction. Completely apart from there being so few of us in the public eye, polyamory kills, like, sixty percent of plotlines. Imagine if Othello just sat down with Desdemona to discuss his concerns and limits regarding her interest in Cassio. One-act play.

Next in line, The Prisoner of Zenda. Remember, they're only schlocky mass-market adventure novels until they turn a hundred years old. Then they're literature.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dances With Smurfs

Saw Avatar in Imax 3d last weekend; it's what Danielle's mother wanted to do for her birthday.

The visual effects were spectacular for the first half, but the plot didn't get good until the second.

My favorite part was when, after getting Leo to the safety of the Plain of Kor and out of the malarial swamps, Billali waxes cynical about the relations between the sexes:

"In this country the women do what they please. We worship them, and give them their way, because without them the world could not go on; they are the source of life... We worship them," he went on, "up to a point, till at last they get unbearable, which," he added, "they do about every second generation."

The scene in which Ayesha unveils was also more effective than I'd expected.


Which is to say that after an hour and a half of stomach-rocking Imax 3D, I was on the verge of spectacularly decorating the row in front of me, and left the theater to spend the next hour and a half in the lobby reading H. Rider Haggard's She.

It was much better than the movie.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Seen on the Matrix

Massad Ayoob covers S&W's new concealed-carry Bodyguard series, and offers this picture of the .380 version:

From Firearms

When the radio told me Massachusetts had elected a Republican to replace Ted Kennedy, it was obvious I'd fallen into an alternate universe. I just had no idea that universe was Shadowrun.

What an anniversary present.

The last two days have been good to me. I have a brand new handgun that's fundamentally easier to carry than my Browning, and--as everybody in the country already knows--Scott Brown took Massachusetts.

I try very hard to put the race out of my mind on election days. The ones I'm eligible to vote in, I vote in early before work, then try to pretend it isn't happening. Exit polling can be heartbreakingly misleading, and the anxiety's a killer. It's like The Game (which, incidentally, we all just lost), but with the health of our communities on the line.

So it actually came as a surprise this morning to turn on the car and hear NPR's talking heads and pet experts explaining that this was just because Marcia Coakley ran an "insufficiently aggressive campaign", and that it isn't a referendum on Obama, and that it certainly isn't a referendum on his government medical program, because Bay Staters already have their own home-grown government medical program. And they're already trying to condemn "Republican gridlock".

I texted mah wimmins the good news, and drove to work with an ear-to-ear grin.

So. Supermajority broken. Fear of God put into any moderate Democrats with an ounce of sense. Two ambitious, corrupt parties are once again in serious opposition to one another, and able to frustrate any attempts by the opposition to make major changes to the country. In short, for the moment, the country is working more or less the way it's supposed to--or at least closer than it was yesterday. That makes it a good day.

ETA: Ah, and as of yesterday, Jon Corzine is officially out of the NJ governor's chair. So politically, it's been a far better couple days than I would ever have hoped after the Lightbringer came in.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Irony, illustrated

Back at the beginning of last November, I bought a handgun and applied to the state of New Jersey for permission to take it home. After two fees and two and a half months, the State Police finished their background check which, going by how long it took, must have been heroically thorough. I got the call this morning that my pistol permit was ready and (as I don't work on Mondays) swung by the PD to pick it up, and from there on to the sporting goods store to get my new firearm. I gave the clerk my new pistol permit, my NJ Firearms ID (which required another months-long background check to get), and my receipt for the purchase.

Unfortunately, it turns out that the federally-required "instant" background check system is closed for the holiday. So, because background check number three couldn't be completed, my new firearm is sleeping in the gun shop's safe for one more night.

Sorry, you can't exercise a Constitutionally protected civil right because it's Martin Luther King day.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Holy Everloving Crap!

Republican candidate Scott Brown now leads his Democratic challenger by four percent.

In Massachusetts.

In a race to fill Ted freakin Kennedy's seat.


I realize the Democrat is a horribly unqualified candidate, but still, this is Massa-freakin'-chusetts. They haven't looked past the scarlet letter R in over thirty years.

What the hell has Mass voters so pissed off? The paper says it's because of voters turning on the healthcare Obamanation, but that doesn't seem quite right. Massachusetts is hardly a libertarian bastion of resistance to intrusive government anymore, and they seem pretty cozy with mandatory entitlement programs.

Is it all because of Coakley's awful campaign? It seems she (reasonably) assumed that the D would win her the race, and that she didn't have to bother with minutia like "campaigning" or "treating the voters with a bare minimum of respect".

It's natural that public sentiment is swinging to the right; the Democrats were brought into power by a moderate-left electorate, and are trying to govern from a far-left platform. But losing New Jersey and at _least_ coming this close to losing Massachusetts? That's a much, much greater swing than I would've expected based only on Obama stickershock. What exactly is going on here?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Losing my Religion

Uncle reports on an odd exception to the Obamonstrosity: There's an exemption for "religious conscience".

The Amish, as well as some other religious sects, are covered by a "religious conscience" exemption, which allows people with religious objections to insurance to opt out of the mandate...

Although the Amish consist of several branches, some more conservative than others, they generally rely upon a community ethic that disdains government assistance. Families rely upon one another, and communities pitch in to help neighbors pay health care expenses.

Maybe we're going about this all wrong. Instead of trying to instill liberals with some respect for the importance of individual autonomy and accountability, let's take the fight to their turf. We'll found a Church of Selfreliance, with all the trimmings. Ritual, scripture, apocrypha, and--most important--membership cards. Remember, we're dealing with liberal politicians; the depth of your beliefs is a triviality, but your verifiable group affiliation is sacrosanct. We'll claim religious conscience exemptions to every wealth-redistribution scheme under the sun, and get the ACLU to take our cases all the way to the Supreme Court. There, we'll catch Euro-socialist justices between a rock and a hard place, as they typically feel compelled to defend any bizarre behavior when it's attached to a minority religion.

When our countrymen see that they can save their hard-earned money from certain government waste, our religion will grow, starving the entitlement programs and hastening their inevitable collapse, possibly killing them before they cause too much damage to repair.


... A man can dream, can't he?

Friday, January 8, 2010

He got a .32 gun in his pocket for fun--again

The big news from Ruger was the compact SR9, but there was a smaller announcement as well: new versions of the Blackhawk and GP-100 chambered in .327 Federal.

Supposedly the .327 gives outstanding performance with a manageable recoil and, crucially, a skinnier cartridge, which allows more rounds to fit in the cylinder. In the case of the Blackhawk and GP-100, that's 8 and 7 shots, respectively. Don't get me wrong; high-cap revolvers are really neat, and may make the difference for somebody who really likes the feel and operation of a compact wheelgun but isn't comfortable with only five rounds. But for me, at least, that relatively fine difference isn't nearly enough to balance out the inherent disadvantages of a new cartridge: rarity, expense, and the gamble that this new revolutionary cartridge won't go obsolete like so many others. One or two extra rounds in the cylinder simply isn't enough to give the .327 the nod over a .357 or .38sp, a gun I can be absolutely certain will have ammo support for as long as I can buy ammo.

But what about going in the other direction?

What if, instead of making the same size guns hold more ammo, somebody were to make a smaller five-shot .327 revolver? I've handled some old H&R and Iver Johnson pocket revolvers and thought "Man, this would be incredibly handy... if it fired something more serious than .32 S&W." That class of guns was extremely popular in its day, and only went extinct because of their anemic cartridges. Now that we can fit some serious firepower in their chambers, isn't it time for a comeback?

Obviously, designing a whole new gun is a much bigger investment--and therefore a much bigger gamble--than just boring the barrel and cylinder of an existing revolver to a new diameter. And it may be a tough market, what with tiny semiautos being so popular. But if Ruger can find a market for cowboy guns, and Nort American Arms is prepared to gamble on a modern miniature rimfire revolver styled like 19th century pocket guns, there must be enough fans of old-man guns out there to make a subcompact carry revolver worth a try. If Ruger or NAA announced a tiny pocket double action tomorrow, I guarantee Danielle would instantly start jumping through Jersey's hoops to buy one.

There's an actual, bona fide empty niche to be exploited here in the world of handguns, a world where dozens of companies compete to offer minuscule variations on 99-year-old designs, and every major manufacturer tries to pimp its compact black plastic framed double action semiauto as superior to every other company's compact black plastic framed double action semiauto. Let's see some innovation, people!

I said. I bloody said.

New Jersey Senate votes down gay marriage bill.

Pushing marriage failed in freakin' California. The solution? Try exactly the same strategy in Maine. It failed in Maine. The solution? Try exactly the same strategy in New Jersey.

So, any bets? Will the activists adjust and adopt a mature, politically savvy strategy of baby steps toward their goal, or will the impassioned and clueless continue to lead the movement, and just keep screaming "but we're right, dammit!" as they lose more and more rights? Personally, I expect to hear that they're campaigning for marriage in New York next.

Once again, being right just isn't good enough.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I can kind of understand

From Cartoons

This is why word nerds aren't dominating the gene pool.

[From Girls With Slingshots]

A Whole New Frontier in Pants-Shitting Hysteria

The Boston Globe does a story on polyamory.

Shockingly, a conservative site takes issue with the concept.

PSH ensues in the comments.

To whit:

For those of you who don't believe in Christian morality...

Polygamy increases the odds of terrorism. If 20% of men take 4 wives each, this leaves 80% of men to fight for 20% of the women. This gets competitive, creating a culture where violence is acceptable.

This is also why most terrorists are Arab/Muslim, since they are the only ones who (currently) practice it.

Lawdy-lawdy... Subsequent commenters hit on the obvious problems with this insanity: it's not like supposedly monogamous* cultures are necessarily less competitive, there's no shortage of violence outside the Muslim world, there are far more persuasive reasons for the prevalence of Muslim terrorism, and--most importantly--modern polyamory ain't historical polygyny: a woman can have multiple husbands as easily as a man can have multiple wives. My own experience backs that last bit up, incidentally, as I've _known_ as many FMM triads as MFF triads; and as rare as stable quads are, there doesn't seem to be any specific shortage of quads with multiply husbands _and_ multiple wives.

But past all the silliness about "family values" (which usually seems to actually mean "families like mine") and the scaaaawy "redefinition" of marriage, the Spectator's point is entirely valid: as the gay rights train steadily progresses (provided they don't derail themselves taking the turns too fast), you will start to see poly families starting to demand equal protection under the law. Hell, the earliest rumblings are already starting in Canada.

All social movements past the "stop turning dogs and firehoses on us" stage have to use incrementalism to achieve their goals. I don't care whether your goal is gay rights, poly rights, gun rights, or banning guns, for that matter; if you demand everything up front, you lose. And the big players who actually drive policy know this. I think gay rights groups are making three critical errors overall: insisting that gaiety is genetic, and thus homophobic policies are racist (hanging their movement on an unproven and falsifiable assumption); demanding too much too fast (pushing marriage and pro-gay school curricula when most states still give no legal protection whatsoever); and answering "next it'll be plural marriages" with "nyuh-uh!"

Don't knock the slippery slope: it works.

A mature movement knows how to pace its demands, but there will always be less politically savvy folks who demand gay marriage, plural marriage, or paperless machine gun sales at the hardware store right now. The mature movement needs to figure out a practical way to deal with those committed-but-misguided people, even if it amounts to ignoring them. Ultimately, insisting that they don't exist can only ever show the public that you're a liar.

[* - We're all clear on the fact that most cultures are far less monogamous than they think they are, right?]