Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gun/Ammo Question

So, I bought the new-ish Brad Pitt shoot-em-up KillingThem Softly and can unreservedly say that if you like the typical mob violence genre than you'll enjoy this iteration too.

That said, there is a slo-mo scene where the Brad Pitt character shoots the Ray Liotta character at a traffic light with what looks like a typical example of the 1911 framed pistol (exposed hammer, apparent SAO, etc), but the spent shell casings are visibly necked down.  Not having ever owned or fired a 1911 in .38 Special, I'm guessing this is an example of one in cinematic action but thought I'd display my ignorance and put this out there.  Given that this film is adapted from the George V. Higgins novel Coogan's Trade it could very well be some comparatively obscure Euro caliber instead, but if I read the book it was too long ago now to remember.

And just in case people are really bored, is there a consensus on how well a .38 Special round out of an auto loader would perform in the assassination role (as opposed to the alternative 9mm or .45acp)?  Over kill (to include my usual bad pun)?  Kinda iffy?  Too much buck for the bang?  They didn't use one in the film, but how might a suppressor alter the dynamics of such a shot?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Choices And The Opportune Moment

I finally broke down and bought an AR-15 rifle a couple years ago (one of these) and despite Jeff Cooper's whingeing I've found it to be both an effective (I suspect that most of the good Colonels complaint was centered around the performance of the ammo available in his day as opposed to the rifle itself) and a fun rifle to shoot.  But I do take his point about the lack of oomph inherent to the caliber, so I've been thinking about getting another rifle in .308 Win as a companion piece for those occasions when you'd really be more satisfied by putting a bit more emphasis on the object of your attention.

This Saturday just past, I went to the shooting range and, along with contributing another 100 or so 9mm brass cases to the club reloading effort, I spotted one of these beautys on the "For Sale" rack (the 6803 to be precise) (oddly, the Ruger site doesn't advertise the 20 round magazines that come with the gun - ETA: that would be because it's a 10 rounder too.  Durr.) and, much fumbling about and shared if's, but's, and maybe's later, I'll be taking home my own "Gunsite Approved" Scout rifle in another couple weeks (once I have the other half of the $810 cash-in-hand).

So, what glass for .308 Win out of a carbine length barrel?  Preferably something that doesn't cost (too much) more than the gun itself does, please.  Also, any brand recommendations on a CW sling?  I expect once I've made that choice picking swivels will become obvious and, if the guy who made up the gun says that's the way to go, who am I to argue?

I first learned riflery through the adjustable rear peep/fixed front post sights on a 1903 Springfield pushing .22 LR out of a heavy target barrel that seemed to weigh a ton to my still-a-summer-shy-of-13 self.  The adjustable rear peep and front post factory-installed sights on the Ruger offer a comfortably familiar feel with a much more practical design, but I've not had good luck using elevated scope rings on other guns before this - maybe the forward mount/long eye relief design will change that.  If not, I'll have to pick one or ta'other again.  If only all of life's choices were between pleasurable options, eh?

Now, about that .308 ammo ...

Saturday, April 20, 2013

I Said It, I'll Own It

Eric S. Raymond has a post up about the Boston Marathon Bombing suspects being identified in which he notes certain Shi'a Islam-specific (well, more so than is the rule with Sunni muslims) facts about the two brothers.  Well down the comment thread (#31 or so, I think) I point out the existence of alternative facts being possibly more important/relevant than is the shared religious background being indicative of Iranian influence/involvement in the terror attack the two men carried out.

I said:
As long as we’re speculating on possible connections/ramifications regarding these two, I think the very fact their family hails from Chechnya is itself potentially of much greater concern than a possible Shi’a Islam connection with Iran.
Recent history shows that Chechen (insert your euphemism of choice here – I’m going with the generic “gangs”) have proven themselves ruthless and effective at combating organized state forces in Russia (and the previous iteration as USSR) in both straight up military conflict and in “direct action” (Beslan, etc). If Chechen gangs have begun to take up the notion that the US is an opportunity for them to advance their ideological (or simply criminal) strategy, then we may be in for a rude comeuppance indeed. The statement-making examples of terrorism we in this country have experienced have all been contrived as unique acts; “professional” (as in this is how the members make their living) ideological killers (as opposed to outright crime gangs of limited scope and predictable operation) with organization and experience are entirely beyond the scope of American law enforcement organization and training.
We’ve already seen posse comitatus go out the window (only drug-related police actions are allowed the direct involvement of .mil assets afaik – I doubt Boston PD owned all those Blackhawks zooming the Common and environs earlier today), the citizenry having their 4th Amendment rights arbitrarily revoked and all the rest the people of that part of Mass. experienced from their government these last few days. Imagine the reaction to an actual organized, experienced and equipped group carrying out an actual strategy to defeat Russian military success in Chechnya from here in the US. That would seem no more implausible than turning airliners into autonomous cruise missiles.
It’s too easy to get all wrapped around the obvious axle of a shared religious connection and thereby ignore the other also likely-seeming possibilities this event offers.

Also see the follow up comment by "Bryant" four entries after my initial comment; he provides several links that clear up the (that would be my ) confusion on the posse comitatus issue I mention.

Just to be clear; I think we are speculating about issues this event raises that there simply hasn't been time for any investigation to have more than superficially looked into yet.  The focus to this point has been on capturing (or otherwise "apprehending")  the two men.  While esr makes an interesting (and perfectly valid) observation, I suggest we would all do well to let those in a position to ascertain an answer have the time to ask the necessary questions. 

Which hopefully won't focus only on the easy and obvious possibilities.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Hard Part About Inalienable Rights

Glenn Reynolds points to a piece at Reason.com by Ed Krayewski and asks: "Is that the right analogy?"
 The case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, horrific on its own, is not helpful as a stand-in or argument in the wider debate about abortion and reproductive rights (because what he did is already illegal), just as the case of Adam Lanza, horrific on its own, is not helpful as a stand-in or argument in the wider debate about personal safety and gun rights (because what he did is already illegal).

As seems the usual case; yes, and no.

Yes, these are analogous as questions of political and legal debate.  Both are examples of individuals abusing lawful activities in what is already legislated to be a criminal fashion.

But that's not what anybody wants to talk about in either instance.

The hard part about inalienable rights is coming to terms with the decisions individuals sometimes find themselves compelled to make.  Mostly we question the choices of others, but ...

And, mostly we try (when we don't absolutely insist upon) considering those decisions in isolation, not as the difficult-choice-in-a-complex-(often hurried)-and-demanding-context-of-countervailing-options-amidst-doubts-and-uncertainties-galore they actually so often are.  So, no, they are not analogous because one [Gosnell] is acting in response to a legal request (however illegal his method of response unquestionably seems to have been) and the other [Lanza] imposed his unilateral decision on an unconsulted other.

Lets get one critical aspect of what's involved here clearly out in the open; as a society, we in the United States have decreed that killing is not unlawful - only highly constrained.  Indeed, it is a fundamental stipulation of the concept of "inalienable rights" that the decision to kill another person is an inherent condition of anyone who possesses such rights (and that's just for Texas; your state may have differently worded laws, but they're just as complex in practice - go look for yourself and see).  As a matter of law, beyond recognition of the individual's option to conform to moral edict in purely private and personal matters, religion can play no formal role in deciding what the law will prohibit.  Like the responsibility for the outcomes of our personal choices, responsibility for the consequences arising from the laws we cause to be written is ours.

Abortion is a type of killing of another human being that we as a society have chosen to sanction under stipulated circumstances.  The question facing the court in Philadelphia is whether, and to what degree, Mr. Gosnell exceeded the constraints placed upon that otherwise legislatively sanctioned killing.  Mr. Lanza, however, was never within the constraints of the law in his act of killing others, so the judgement he would have faced is seemingly a more straightforward issue.

In America, the law is always a matter of imposed considered judgement (anything else being a failure of law).  As such, the law is itself always subject to reconsideration and evaluation, as it should in a representative form of government (I would like to argue in any form of government, but outright tyranny makes for a very slow and ... how to put this, rigorous evaluation process, usually lasting only as long as the tyrant-in-question).  While individual moral judgements of both men are inextricably bound up in the process of considered judgement as to the lawfulness of their respective choice of action, religious preemptive commands have no place in American statute.  We damage our society by forgetting that in moments of aroused passion in response to circumstance.

The temptation to cast moral aspersions at another for their behavior is a personal judgement; calling for a religious verdict as a matter of law is simply another form of tyranny.  Justice and Tyranny are never analogous.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Making Work = Job: The Sequel

Thanks to the resounding response (for a given value of response) to my initial post, I'm writing this follow-up post anyway.  Also, to whoever it is that owns the url storyteller.com congratulations, best wishes and etc; I own the url www.storytellerworld.com and will be pursueing developing this idea there (eventually).

To re-cap; Story Teller World is intended to provide anyone with a story idea (fictional, instructional, whatever really) with the support and development tools established writers receive from their publishing house or film production company (or have to develop for themselves as they go).  In addition to that, STW will offer digital story development software tool(s) specifically designed for novice writers using much the same process as that used by the Turbo Tax income tax software (fill in the basic info, then answer questions to further develop the idea in a structured and interconnected format).

Having had a period of time in digital solitude in which to do what I like to call "thinking", I have come up with what I hope will prove to be improvements to my original concept.

1.)  Tax and contract legal advice.  I'm going to have to acquire some money to pay someone that actually knows something about the topic, so back burner still.

2.)  Reference links.  I believe Ref Desk is an even better choice than I originally considered.  Being financially supported by contributors, STW will arrange to provide sufficient financial support to Ref Desk so as to receive a dedicated portal through which all member writers story research must be directed.  Ref Desk provides links to all major reference sources online and can no doubt be convinced to add any specialty links as might be desired (and legal - erotic stories are not excluded from STW, but there are still legal boundaries to be taken into account).  This arrangement makes possible an anti-plagiarism mechanism along with a credit-sharing mechanism for shared projects.  More on this below (see: 6.).

3.)  Editorial support.  Back burner.

4.)   Co-Author job posting requests.  Some on this below too.  Back burner the rest.

Gods Above (and other archaic-sounding expletives) this item-by-item narrative format is really tedious; I won't be doing it again, that's certain.

5.)  Marketing.  I'm sure I have more thoughts on this, but only one comes to mind just now.  I am strongly inclined to publish all stories written on STW through Smashwords and let the individual buyer select which eBook format fits his/her reader technology.

The back of the stove is getting crowded, too.

6.)  Back-story Development.  Finally.  STW will provide an individual page for each member linked from the site Home page as part of the membership fee.  Each project a member wishes to develop will receive its own separate page accessible only through the members personal page (for a minor one-time additional fee) and accessible by others only by the members arrangement.  All research done in development of a story must be through the Ref Desk link by way of the members personal page, thereby documenting when/where every aspect of the story came from - either document-ably through Ref Desk or directly through the writers head (still thinking about scanning data not otherwise available online - fixable but not decided yet).  In the event two or more members (not all of whom are necessarily writers themselves) choose to develop a project jointly, their individual development page will link to a joint-development secondary page (for, you guessed it, yet another additional one-time minor fee) for that story only.  All individual contributions to the final story are each made through the individual member's personal page, thus allowing for a reasonably precise accounting of just who contributed how much to the published product, thereby also allowing for a fair distribution of proceeds should there ever be a dispute.

7.)  Story Teller must be at minimum a two-tiered structure.  I have changed my pricing model considerably (see 6. above for example).  I still want there to be a free page available for anyone to work from (for members to research for project collaboration and individuals to advertise for co-authorship's or other development opportunities) (all such arrangements paying a fee or percentage to STW btw), but that membership should be a mostly nominal US$30/year.  Each additional project page a member starts (and owns for life of the membership and/or copyright as appropriate) costs an additional US$10 initiation fee, with joint project pages sharing an additional US$10 initiation fee between all contributors by whatever division they arrange between themselves (so long as content ownership is stipulated by the developing members to be on either a stipulated division of shares basis or percentage of contribution as measured by the STW site software through each members personal page).

8.)  The STW writing software needs to be written in such a fashion that it can be readily adapted to other applications of a generally similar, but discrete, market (story written for print, to be adapted for film/video, to be further adapted for video game, etc).  I know what follows was originally part of  #6 in the original; what's your point?  I am more convinced than ever that STW must be built around original software purpose written for this application.  There will no doubt be much content that is licensed from others, and mostly expected to be accessed through a hyperlink, but I strongly believe an open source based purpose-built software program that is designed from the outset for ease of member usage and adaptation to as broad a spectrum of potential applications as possible (but without the need for writers to also be knowledgable coders too) is still the best marketing tool STW can ever offer to people.  One of the more time consuming distractions and expenses writers have is the spelling and what I think of as the there/their/they're problem, so one of the features I want the STW software to offer is a variety of check programs that the writer can run repeatedly to check work prior to engaging in the expense of a reader or editor (all of which will still be necessary, but hopefully more individually affordable as a result).

Having no idea what esr and his cohorts charge for their professional attention (and wanting more than the sound of the hair growing in my ears for resources, and isn't that a mental image to attract an investor with?) I'm hesitant to ask.  That said, I recognize that people need some sort of (at least seemingly plausible) guesstimate of funding requirements desired, so I hope to attract US$2,000,000 to fully fund the initial 5 years of development and operation, along with anticipated expenses to expand into other languages than English during the 4th or 5th year.  This amount will pay my salary for 5 years, fund work space and equipment for same, transportation, development and promotional expenses (which are expected to require my personal involvement on-scene) and funds for contingent opportunities (partnership contracts with other businesses being a prominent example), especially in the final two years of initial development.  This also assumes having to pay for all the ancillary expenses that might otherwise be met through a partnership with Jobster or Baen as mentioned in the first posting.  In return, at the end of the 5 year initial term, the goal is to have 10,000 individual annual paying members, each of whom has initiated on average two development projects during that same period; this results in approximately US$500,000 in paid fees plus whatever the published stories have earned (remember, STW is in for 20% of all royalties each story earns, too) by that time.  Those benchmarks can reasonably be expected to produce US$240,000/year in paid fees alone thereafter, with expenses being approximately 60% of that amount all else remaining the same.

The Story Teller World financial model is: individual member annual fee of US $30, individual story development page of a one-time US $10, assignment of 20% of all sales royalties to Story Teller World for a stipulated (but negotiable - at least a 10 years minimum though) period of time, 20% of all royalties divided between the story developers (shared between the original creator(s) and any adaptation creators) and 60% of all royalties apportioned as negotiated between all contributors to a story's final published form.

Some business development methods I especially plan to employ are:

A.)  As soon as possible after the software is basically written, I wish to tour around the country hosting local events with certain bloggers known to me to be accomplished writers in their own right.  STW will pay them a stipulated amount to write as beta developers in their area of expertise (for which they have an established audience).  This and their individual experience of the STW writing process will be published through the STW site and their personal blogs simultaneously.  This should take no more than 3 months, so by code writing + 3 months after funding has STW well known on all internet social media platforms.

    A. (1):  As part of the software writing development process, I will be working with selected (and compensated) other writers to put together a book that creates a story line for other writers to work in as part of a "how to" book explaining the STW writing process and software tools for publication at the time of public announcement of the business.  This will serve as a quality check of the software writing development process and expressly included in the code writers contract.

B.)  The online charity Kilted To Kick Cancer will become a sponsored charity of STW.  This includes a company cash donation directly, solicitation of donations from the membership and more generally online and an annual writing contest that directs some of the publication proceeds to the charity as well (at least from the STW royalties share - individual writers generosity is up to them).  This will require my personal involvement in various KTKC events during the month of September each year and hopefully sponsorship of an event as well.

C.)  Effectively simultaneous with A. above, certain established writers will be approached in an effort to arrange for them to develop a writers guide book (often referred to as a "universe or story bible") for other writers to work in established story lines he/she/they are no longer actively writing in.  STW will compensate these authors for their development costs (including their writing fee) and pay them for their written evaluation of the writing process experience offered by STW.  This will be intended for publication over the code writing + 6 to 12 months period (allowing for a non-overlap with the KTKC effort and some allowance for competing demands on the author's time).

I wish to make clear that, if developed and managed correctly, Story Teller World is designed to permit its management ample opportunity to be directly involved in the writing process personally (and under the identical terms and conditions of any other member too).  This allows for a real-time quality check of the process as well as potential for reducing the financial demands an otherwise full time manager might be expected to charge.

With any luck (mine, not so much yours), there will be more to follow.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Weird Science

Thanks to the Instapundit link, I've discovered the fascinating Soylent nutrition supplement/replacement experiment - a sort-of Open Source science project.

Mr. Robert Rhinehart of San Francisco had the inspiration to try to meet the human body's (well, his body anyway) nutritional needs directly from the basic chemical components - without all the "packaging" nature puts all of that in.  He hasn't revealed the exact percentages of the components mix yet (with certain exceptions; it seems several people with the requisite chemistry training worked it out for themselves too and they are cooperating together now from what I have read), but has stated the basic objective to be marketing of a nutritional supplement that can (mostly, it depends on the individual) replace the requirement for traditional "food" and can do so for anyone having access to potable water and a container to mix the two together.

There is a discussion board now, plans for a kickstarter type effort in the near future and the opportunity to participate in making the future. 

To appropriate the Heinlein phrase, this is opporknockity tuning in to your wavelength; don't miss out.

Monday, April 8, 2013

It's Official, RC Church Declares For Fascism

One Sister Mary Ann Walsh, who glories in the title Director of Media Relations for the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has publish an article in the Washington Post in which she proclaims that the Catholic Church equivocates the church's historic stance against abortion, along with its more recent rejection of the death penalty, as being as morally objectionable as individual self defense ownership of fictional firearms:
Some things seem naturally abhorrent – forceps to crush a cranium in an abortion, a needle to deliver a sentence intravenously on death row, and an assault weapon in the hands of the man on the street. Each instrument may have a purpose some time, somewhere, but as used above, each reflects brutality in our society.
The Catholic Church opposes use of all three instruments to take a life. The church’s pro-life stand against abortion is undisputed. So is its pro-life stand in opposition to the death penalty. It can only be justified if there is no other way to keep a deadly criminal from hurting more people. And in the most recent – and all too common – threat to human life, the church opposes the growing preponderance of lethal weapons on the streets. It stands as another important pro-life position.

I'm not clear on a few points raised in her article.  Is the church declaring certain tools to be inherently "abhorrent"?  The actions people might take with those tools?  The people who might have those tools, irrespective of anything else?  As far as I can tell, the good Sister declares the entirety of American Catholic Bishops to be logically incoherent in declaring whatever position it is they are apparently publicly laying claim to.

Yes, I understand the Catholic Church wants to declare the position "pro-life" as being in moral opposition to the individual exercise of the "God-given inalienable right" to defend that same life.  Or something.

What this is, in my opinion, is the latest example of the Catholic Church betraying the interests of its parishioners so as to advance some of its politically objectionable positions at their expense.  The Catholic Church has historically been willing to sacrifice the laity whenever doing so was convenient for the "elect".  This is just more of the same and further proof that the US constitutional prohibition against establishment of a state religion remains just as valid and necessary a political position as it was nearly 2 1/2 centuries ago at the founding of the USA.

Pope Francis has an opportunity to make the Catholic Church much more viable to the rest of 21st century planet Earth; I wonder how he feels about his American Bishops political grandstanding this way?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Stop Helping The Opposition

Say Uncle says:
Gabby Gifford’s hubby continues having a rough few weeks. The latest is that he tried to buy a handgun out of state and illegally. He was denied because we already have background checks and you can’t buy handguns out of state. He went to the same gun store and tried to purchase an AR-15 illegally earlier.
In comments, I replied:

Ok, just to make sure I haven’t missed something in this saga of ineptitude, what was the illegality in the AR purchase? And please don’t say “straw purchase”; it is entirely legal to purchase a firearm as a gift as long as both the buyer and recipient aren’t “prohibited persons” (for whatever reason, criminal background, age restriction, etc). Kelly himself is still legally permitted to buy a gun (after jumping through the oh-so-noninfringing hoops we all do), the Tucson PD (the stated giftee of the AR) isn’t prohibited, so straw purchase won’t wash (see the instructions to buyers on the back of any Form 4473, something the seller might consider as well per Breitbart). The seller not wanting to deal with a dick is also perfectly legal btw, but what was Kellys crime in the AR purchase?

As to the pistol, the story clearly says the AZ ID he presented on the second attempt passed the background check; simple ignorance of the law is a more likely seeming explanation for this fool presenting an out of state ID than does deliberate subterfuge. Other than posting a misleading (if not quite outright fraudulent) video online, what crime did Kelly commit on the second attempt at a successful purchase of a pistol? He presented a legal (apparently, he did pass the background check he submitted it to) AZ drivers license and, despite speculation above, there is no evidence he didn’t surrender his TX license to get the AZ version, so again, where is the crime?

Agreed that he’s a dick (and possible wife abuser – psychologically at least) and a publisher of an apparently deliberately misleading video; neither of those fails the requirements to qualify as a gun buyer without formal legal sanction of that despicable behavior. Fault the guy deservedly all you like, but please stop promoting his name and cause falsely. That hurts the rest of us gun owners more than either Kelly or his cause ever could on their own.
Which leads me to ponder; if I were to hang a gun shaped dog turd on a hook and call it jewelry, would all of the gun bloggers line up to misrepresent the facts while helping me advertise the sale?  How is that example materially different from what so many seem anxious to do for this tosser?

C'mon people; thimk.