5:47 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

Shooting



I stopped off after work and fired a few rounds through two of my guns today.

I put four rounds through my Steyr-Mannlicher M95s (8mmx56r) and my Schmidt-Rubin K31 (7.5mmx55)

Nice guns. They had some kick, but it didn't feel too bad. My shoulder feels bruised, but I don't mind. The feeling of the gun bucking against my shoulder as I squeezed the trigger was heaven! Surprisingly, the K31 seemed to have a slightly stronger kick.

Turns out I still seem to have a fairly good eye.

Here's the story. Since I had never fired these rifles before, the range officer suggested that I shoot on the 25m range just to see how the rifles fire. The first round out of the M95 seemed to be a flier; the first round through a perfectly clean, cold barrel, after all. But then again, I had no idea what to expect from the trigger pull, and wasn't really trying to recreate a similar sight-picture. So maybe it was 100% operator error, dunno. The ranger officer had put three orange dots on the back side of a target, about 12 inches apart in a row, vertically. All rounds were aimed at the center dot. The first round was about even with the top dot, 12" high! But not unexpected, since these pre-WWII rifles are often sighted in for 300 yards or so. The next one was off to the left about an inch, and just about halfway in between the top and middle dots. Better. The next one was 1/2" down and to the left, and the fourth nearly went through the same hole as the 3rd. Sure, it was only 25 yards. But these were the first rounds through any weapon in my hands for nearly 3 years. The three-shot group I got showed me that despite the lack of practice, my breathing, trigger squeeze, steady position, and sight picture skills were all in good shape. The nicest part was despite hearing that the mil-surplus rifles have excessive, two-stage trigger pull, the trigger seemed very responsive, much better than an M-16 or 92F pistol. I wasn't jerking in anticipation, and the shot always surprised me, just like it should. With the M-16 and 92F, it was always: "get a good picture, decide to fire, start to pull the trigger, pull more, pull more, crap! when is it going to fire??? pull, bang!" This rifle was "get a good sight picture, decide to fire, bang!" I really like that.

I was only trying to make sure there were no signs of excessive pressure on the cartridge (which would mean too much headspace), and didn't have much time, so I switched to the next gun.

Then I did something foolish. I hadn't cleaned the K31, but really wanted to fire it. I had only brought 2 rounds with me, and no cleaning equipment. I asked the range officer, and he said, if there are no obstructions in the barrel, go for it. I told him I could see rifling all the way down the barrel, so I chambered a round and squeezed the trigger. Just like the M95, as soon as I liked my sight picture and wanted to shoot, bang! No delay, no time to anticipate.

And the round went directly through the dot I was aiming at. I'd heard the K31 can do with iron sights what other rifles can do only with scopes. I believe it now. I can't wait to move to the 50-yard and then 100-yard ranges. I'm sure the K31 will do well even on the 200-yard, but we probably won't get much chance to try the 600-yard, since they have to shut down the parking lot to use it.

This is great!
|W|P|92864819|W|P||W|P|9:46 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

More for the Liberals (if you're still here)



Okay, maybe it seemed like I was gloating over how Iraq turned out. Many conservatives are feeling rather smug right now, because I think it's pretty clear that invading Iraq turned out far better than anyone expected, and was A Good Thing To Do on several different levels.

But no one should really feel smug. The average conservative is no smarter than the average liberal. Despite what I assume is your gut reaction to that, the reverse is true as well. In fact, this is almost like rooting for your favorite sports team, and this year's winner is talking smack to the loser. But it doesn't mean that one team's fans are any smarter, better, or more pure than any other.

There is one difference, though. This war, and the arguments for and against, weren't a sports competition, despite all the rooting for and against the Coalition forces. One side actually was right, and one side wrong. The way everyone lined up, there was no way both sides could be right.

Both sides were looking at the same situation; how could we come to such different conclusions?

One factor is because the leaders and the spokespeople for each side made different decisions on what was important, what was significant. This was then passed on to us masses, as the leaders/spokespeople explained the reasons behind their positions. The way things played out, it should be obvious now which side made better judgments.

So if you're a liberal, you don't really have to eat crow. Your philosophy, your paradigms, your way of looking at the world, all led you to believe that the interpretation from the DNC, Democrat leaders, France, CNN, the NY Times, etc, was correct. These leaders have had to backtrack so often, offer so many retractions or such radically different reinterpretations, their credibility has been seriously compromised. Yet you listened in good faith, and made your own decisions based on the faulty information/interpretation given to you by your sources.

And that forms the basis of my earlier questions. What are you going to do now? Who are you going to listen to? No one can see everything with their own eyes, on the scene. No one can be an eyewitness to everything, to be able to form accurate opinions; we all depend on different sources. If your source has shown itself to be unreliable, how long will you continue to listen? When will you seek better input for your thought processes.

This isn't about you being wrong; if your intentions were noble, no one can fault you for that. But the acronym from the early computer days, GIGO (garbage in, garbage out), really applies here.

If you listen to source only because it is telling you what you want to hear, regardless of its utility in making judgment calls in the real world, then, ­well, I think that sort of decision speaks for itself. I cannot be a person who prefers comfortable illusions to uncomfortable truths. Can you?

So perhaps you should start thinking about your sources of information regarding education, taxes, social services.

But I guess the most important thing is: think.
|W|P|92820323|W|P||W|P|6:11 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

More on guns



Kim du Toit has been helping so many people select guns and get into
shooting, he's adopted a new slogon for his site:

"Turning America back into a nation of riflemen, one person at a
time"



Well, I'm one of his converts, er, adherents, er, whatever. I'm a
rifleman now.

It was a decision I made for several reasons. I shared a few with you
before. But over time, as I've talked about it to people and commented
at other blogs, I feel my explanation has evolved and condensed.
Here's the latest:

I'm a rifleman because there are people in the United States right now
who Hate. Hate will always seek the most effective weapon it can use.
Hate will use firearms, which is why many liberals want to see them
banned. But they fail to recognize that Hate will also use improvised
explosives, knives, poison, clubs, or even their own fists to kill and
maim. Hate is not limited by a weapons ban.

But its antidote is. I will never lift my rifle in Hate, but I will in
Love. That may sound strange, but it is the Love for my Nation, my
family, my friends, and the Freedom from those who Hate. The same type of
Love that demands the culling of a herd, or the excisement of a cancer.

Now, I don't pretend to sit in judgment of my fellow man. I will not
decide who is the cancer, or who must be culled. The people against
whom I would lift my firearm are self-electing. They decide by breaking
into my home and threatening my family, by trying to overthrow our
democratic govt, by trying to use force to impose their will on the people
of the United States. None of these have happened yet, and probably
never will. But I help to make sure they won't happen by owning and being
proficient with firearms. And if they do, I will be ready.

I am an American Rifleman.

(A word of thanks to my instructors at the USAF Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection Level II course I attended 6 weeks ago--you guys gave me the final info I needed!)
|W|P|92810182|W|P||W|P|8:19 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

A Great Author



Okay, maybe I'm slinging the compliments too freely. But Lois
McMaster-Bujold is pretty dang awesome. Only Robert A. Heinlein won more Hugo
Awards for best novel, and that's some good company. Sure, she's in
the SF ghetto, so she is unlikely to be noticed by the mainstream. But
her characters are complex and realistic, her plots are twisty,
entertaining, unexpected and believable. She writes novels with textbook
talent. If I ever succeed in becoming a writer, I hope I'm compared to her.

Except for one thing. She's also a textbook liberal.

Maybe all the polarizing politics of the last 2-3 years have had an
effect on me, but I didn't actively notice it until I re-read A
Civil Affiar
. It's one of her best novels. Of course, ALL
of her novels are so good it's hard to pick only a select few as being
best. I guess what I'm saying is there is nothing in this novel that
renders it inferior to any others.

But I was struck by the liberal propoganda in it this time.

The planet Beta seems to be held up as an ideal. People there are
tolerant to everything. There, sexual freedom of all types has been fully
attained, with no drawbacks. Girls are gently brought into sexual
maturity and fulfillment, rather than "painful fumblings in the dark".
Beta developed uterine replicators for pregnancy, and 'body births' are
now condescendingly considered anachronistic. The main character from
Beta is always right, is held up as being the ultimate in sensibility,
and everyone is always persuaded to her view, eventually. The
Progressive Party is always on the side of good, as opposed to the mean, old,
evil Conservative Party.

I have some problems with the simplicity of this. Everything else in
her novels is nuanced, consistent, well-thought out. Take the uterine
replicators, for instance. These are science fiction novels, but not
"hard" SF; she never provides any details of how the science works, and
things like "wormholes" and "stunners" are never explained at all. No
problem, because she rigorously thinks through the methods of use,
drawbacks, advantages, etc, of every technology she describes. She has even
set up mysteries revolving around the applications of these fictional
technologies, and done so extremely competently, without any hint of
contrivance.

But she doesn't apply that same logic to the replicators. Science has
already proven that the birth process is beneficial to both mother and
child, when compared to C-section. Not a great difference, but a
difference nonetheless, yet she never consideres that the ultimate in test
tube babies (from conception to birth without being in a human body)
might have a drawback at all. Some possible negative side effects were at
least considered in Beowulf's
Children
, and raise some interesting questions about the
effects of sharing blood with the mother, something that cannot be done
in a replicator.

The ideal of sexual freedom/openness is also never challenged. Never
once does she hint that although losing your virginity to a skilled
professional prostitute might, in fact, be the most pleasant and least
stressful way to be introduced in the art of love-making, you then lose the
chance to give your virginity to your spouse, that you lose the joy of
discovering pleasure with someone, rather than being taught.
She divorces the act from the emotion by this ideal, and I think that
strips it of much of its ability to satisfy. Her ideal would also tend to
result in setting up expectations of sexual bliss that might be
impossible to match. If this were truly the ideal, then why link sex with
marriage at all? Shouldn't random and multiple partners then be better,
if all that matters is the experience? Sure, many people (maybe even
most people, these days) have negative initial experiences with sex. I
might even agree that initial sexual experiences are generally more
enjoyable for the male than for the female. But 'enjoyable' certainly
doesn't mean 'without cost', and Lois McMasters Bujold's advocated ideal
seems to be an attempt to ensure that females have an initial experience
as pleasurable as she imagines most males experience. I certainly
agree that rape, sexual abuse, or even just a "Paradise by the Dashboard
Lights" scenario are not desirable; but I disagree that the method
described tangentially in the book is the correct alternative.

Her portrayal of the Progressives vs. Conservatives reveals a common
problem most liberals seem to have: a simplistic view of conservatives.
They feel motivated by compassion for those less fortunate, it seems,
so any who disagree must simply lack compassion. Uh-uh. In the book,
the conservatives are all about keeping everything exactly the way it
is, meaning keeping power in the hands of male nobility. While it is
true that 'conservatives', in its most basic definition, means keeping
things the way they are now, it is never that simple. In the United
States, for example, 'conservatives' want to change the status quo on
abortions, taxation/spending, and more. The traditional US attitude
toward the world is Isolationism, and the the 'conservatives' are against
that these days. 'Conservatives' want to develop science (which
changes everything rapidly), including pushing for a robust space program.
Nothing 'conservative' about that. 'Liberals', on the other hand,
aren't so liberal when they impose gun control laws, speech codes at
universities, quotas in hiring, and higher taxes on the populace. The
only positive aspect to Conservatives, as depicted in the book, is they
have a strong sense of honor. Never once does she explore possibly
moral motivations for the Conservative mindset. It is disappointing that
in her book, the goals of the 'Progressive' party must automatically
mean progress, that she misses the nuance that 'change' isn't always
'change for the better.'

With all these reactions bouncing around in my head, I noticed
something else that bothered me. The characters are all rather immoral in the
aspect of respect for individuals. Sure, it's fiction, but any person
who crosses a non-main character is usually thoroughly beaten for
having the audacity to defy the main character. Often they are destroyed.
It doesn't seem to matter if the motivation is honest-but-deluded,
spiteful, or even (in one case) justified. The main characters act in pure
self-interest to reach their goals, subverting laws of state or
precepts of custom in order to thoroughly humiliate the opponent. Mind you,
I'm not complaining about the (over) use of Imperial Power to squelch an
annoyance, because there was a plausible aspect of state security
involved.

All this does seem to be right in line with what I've seen from
liberals in the United States, as well: they are willing to stomp on any
person who gets in their way of helping The People TM, they feel their view
is the only way to help The Children TM, despite all evidence to the
contrary. And they are willing to ascribe all sorts of horrendous, yet
extremely simplistic, motivations to conservatives. If I say something
negative about circumstances associated with homsexuality, I am a
homophobe, period. If I am for the war, I am supporting Big Oil, er,
American Imperialism, er, KILL! KILL! KILL!. If I say people always have a
choice to alter their circumstances, I am accused of hate speech. Not
by all liberals, mind you. There are many who are able to discuss
reasonably and logically. It's the irrational ones that leave a bad taste
in my mouth, however, and it also seems to be these annoyingly
unreasonable ones who are the organizers of Anti-War protests (go check ANSWER)
and are the spokespeople for the Left (check out the simplistic
arguments coming from Dan Rather, John Kerry, James Carville, Paul Begala, the
editor of the New York Times, the leader of NOW, the leader of NARAL,
nearly any left-leaning celebrity, etc. For all the complaints I hear
about Ann Coulter (and many are justified, I grant you), these people
are just as bad...they just don't get the same bad press.

But despite all this, I wholly and heartily recommend ANY Lois
McMasters Bujold novel. She's an excellent author. I laugh and cry when
reading any book of hers. Choose any book; it will move you, it will
entertain you, it will change you. And for the most part, her liberal
viewpoint isn't invasive at all. She has the right (and responsibility, I
think) to present what she feels are aspects of an ideal society.
Despite what I've written, she certainly doesn't hit you over the head with
it. The stories are good; go become a fan, okay?
|W|P|92755361|W|P||W|P|8:14 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

Gotta Link This



Kinda puts it into perspective, doesn't
it?

Thanks for the link, via Kim Du Toit
|W|P|92755102|W|P||W|P|8:12 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

Socialism



I don't like socialism.

Don't bother telling me to read "Das Kapital" or Mao Zedong Thought or
anything, okay? Ideas are fine; there are lots of things that sound
good on paper but don't work in reality. "Textbook communisim has never
been tried yet" is a hopelessly weak argument, because people HAVE
tried to implement textbook communism; the fact that you never have
textbook results is because you are dealing with real people, individuals with
individual aspiriations, rather than faceless masses who do what you
want them to.

So here's my major problem with socialism/communism: it can only work
with 100% participation. That means 100% of the people put out 100% to
make it work. That will never happen. Ever. The only way communism
can ever come about is by force. Most of the people who socialism
claims to help would be (and actually were) jailed or executed in true
socialist regimes. Shall I state it more clearly? Socialism purports to
help the people who cannot or will not take care of themselves. But when
full socialism is instituted, those people are seen as a drag on the
system. The feeble are sterilized or euthanized, and the ones who will
not participate are executed or persecuted as dissidents.

Capitalism, on the other hand, works for you whether you participate or
not. How many teenagers have actively participated in the capitalist
process, yet still have the benefit of the internet, phones, cars,
televisions?

Capitalism does seem to be inherently predatory. If you take a
snapshot of the capitalist world on any one day, you see the United States at
the top of the food chain, you see several mid-level nations doing much
of the assembly of goods, and you see the workers of the 3rd world
working for pennies an hour while the resources of their nation are
stripped from beneath them. Naturally, this is an evil system, no? Except
that it is just a snapshot. You cannot see the motion or the change
inherent in the system. Capital is flowing away from the US,
through the mid-level nations, and into the 3rd world nations. Sure,
the people are working for $1/hour, or maybe a $1/day. But before
capitalism arrived, they were working for $1/month, or even $1/year...when
they didn't die of an easily-treatable infant disease. Lifespans
lengthen and standard of living rises in any nation touched by capitalism.
That is a fact, go research it if you dare. The mid-level nations of
today were poverty-stricken 3rd world nations yesterday, and the current
3rd world nations are collecting capital to leverage themselves out of
the muck even as we speak.

Sure, I wonder what will happen to capitalism when there are no 3rd
world nations to exploit any more, when resources are exhausted. But
that's another issue, since the same things happen under socialism...but
usually at worse levels. Go visit China if you want to see a land being
raped and a people being exploited for material gain, and then compare
that to the US. And then compare how much better it is in China now as
they move toward capitalism than in the Great Leap Forward, when they
were at their most collectivized, and 30 million people starved.

So what is the attraction of socialism?

For the most part, I think it is an intelletual movement. In
socialism, power collects with the people who understand and communicate the
ideology the most effectively. That means power goes to the
intellectuals. Ah, things are becoming clearer.

In capitalisim, power collects in those who risk the most. You simply
cannot make money in a capitalist system without risking capital. The
peope who are rewarded are those who put their own heart, mind, blood,
sweat, toil, and tears into their business. Again, I can see where the
ivory-tower intellectuals might not like that. That also explains why
so many people on welfare are for socialism; they've already
demonstrated themselves to prefer security to risk.

Socialism is the goal of anyone who has ever hit an obstacle and
thought, "I wish someone else would take care of me so I wouldn't have to
struggle any more". Socialism is the dream of anyone who feels they
cannot succeed in a self-correcting, meritorious system, and who would move
to a position of power/prestige/comfort only by being a part of the
group that imposes a new system on the people of the world.

One of the thing that most intrigues me about American socialists
(including the milder variety found in the Democratic Pary) is how intent
they are on making the United States more and more socialist. Higher
taxes, more services! But you know, nations with this reality already
exist: mostly in Europe. If the liberals really like the Canadian health
care so much, or the British health care so much, why not move there?
That's not a crude "America: love it or leave it" rant, I am really
curious: since what the liberals want already exists, why don't they seek
to go there as soon as possible? There is no other place that has the
United States' freedom; we were more free from taxation in the past,
and I want to head in that direction, but the liberal/socialist/democrats
won't let us. Yet there is no place else I can go to get that. I can
only try to return the US to the status of the only free nation that
doesn't over-tax its citizens, that allows capitalism to be the rising
tide that lifts all craft. This merely underscores the main argument
against socialism: they care so much about The People TM, that they care
nothing for the person, in me and those like me who don't want it.
"We'll impose socialism on you for your own sake, whether you like it or
not!" Can't the liberals see the anti-humanity aspect of that? Can't
they see how that restricts freedom?

And before a liberal simplistically accuses me of being heartless, of
hoping little babies starve in the cold, let me remind you that I care
as much and more than the average liberal. I think charity starts with
your own hands, not with convincing a politician to raise taxes for
everyone. If you have compassion, you will carry food and blankets to the
home of the poverty-stricken. You will look into their eyes and know
their pain. When your soul is satisfied you have done all that is
necessary, then you can relax, rather than just voting for your favorite
democratic candidate, going out and protesting against drilling for oil in
Alaska, then driving home to drink a Tall Latte as you tell your
friends on the internet that you did your liberal duty.

The Central Planner in a socialism cannot know who is starving by
looking at numbers. Someone in Washington can't make the decisions to help
a family in Oregon with any accuracy at all. I'm not sure the
decisionmaker in Salem, Oregon can really understand the plight of someone in
an eastern Oregon farming town, either. Problems are best handled on
the lowest level possible.

Responsibility. If we all pay our taxes and depend on the govt to take
care of the poor, then I guess you can sleep at night if the taxes turn
out to not be enough. But without the govt, you might actually have to
make some effort, huh? Take some risk. DO something.

I got an idea: you are not allowed to vote for a Democrat unless you
have your ticket stamped showing that you did at least 10 hours of
community service each week for the previous year. Likewise, you aren't
allowed to vote for a Republican unless you show that you tithed 10% of
your income, did 10 hours of community service each week, worked at least
40 hours/week, and spent at least $500 a month for the previous year.
Guess what? Even with the greater restrictions, I'd bet the Republican
voters would STILL outnumber the Democrat voters.

Democrats: if you really believe any of the stuff you're spouting, stop
writing anti-Bush letters to your local lazy-reporting indie newspaper
and join the Peace Corps or work in the inner city on nights and
weekends. Republicans: if you really believe any of the stuff you're
spouting, hire a qualified minority without being forced to by quotas, er,
affirmative action. Oh, you mean the Republicans already are backing up
their words with actions. Hmmmm..... Doesn't seem right, does it?

Okay, this started as a short comment and turned into a rant. I
apologize for that.

Here's another aspect to
what I'm saying.

Remember what I said before (a little over a month ago, I think)? A
government should protect its people from foreign aggression, and from
each other, and that's about it. Basically what he says here, more
eloquently than I, though.
|W|P|92755043|W|P||W|P|5:39 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

Hey, Anti-War Protestors!



Just thought I'd remind you: it's going to happen again. The United States will again invade a weaker, sovereign nation. Maybe Syria, maybe Yemen, perhaps Somalia or Sudan. Or even Iran or North Korea. The success of this war against Saddam Hussein, and the evidence of his atrocities and connections to terror that have come to light recently pretty much guarantee that the War Against Terror will continue with more invasions.

It will probably be at least a year before the next move. You have time to marshall your plan, to think about strategy. Or to consider whether it is even worth it. Maybe you'll start to consider the Left's silence on Cuba...

With every story of murder, rape, or torture that is confirmed, you lose credibility. Is it about being right, or about appearing to be
right? Do you really care about the people in the nations we invade, or are you just interested in opposing Bush?

This is your chance. You can point out that the people you trusted for information seemed plausible, but now that the truth is out... You can mention that even CNN didn't report about much of the evil in Iraq (because they didn't want to lose access), so how could you know? Decisions based on flawed information usually end up flawed themselves.

But now you have more information, and more correct information.

Choose now.
|W|P|92616993|W|P||W|P|5:36 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

Puzzled



If there is one thing that leaves me confused and saddened about many (though not all)
forms of opposition to the war, it's that there seems to be a general
incapability to understand that the reasons for war need not and cannot be boiled down to
one simplistic motivation. Liberating of the Iraqi people, ensuring
the destruction of WMD, wiping out one major source of terrorism
funding/training/basing, bringing stability and/or democracy to a major Middle
Eastern nation... all are good reasons in and of themselves; but if
govt types cite different reasons on different days, it doesn't make the
govt schizophrenic. These are complementary reasons, not
self-contradictory. And it looks like it has paid off. I haven't visited any of the
liberal websites I usually visit, so I don't know the level of
backtracking or denial going on. And if they remain anti-war, it must be either eating crow or refusing to face reality, given the
information that has been coming out over the last few weeks.

Any objections?

|W|P|92616796|W|P||W|P|