27 December 2006
Covering the action, and trigger spring
Even glued the mag plate on, damn Cosmoline,
Nastiest crud you've ever seen...
Yes, this glorious Christmas weekend what did I do? Why, learn how to clean 50 year old Cosmolene off of my new Mauser M24/47, of course! A gift from my parents ("you'll shoot your eye out, kid!"), it is a late 40s Yugoslavian-built 8mm Mauser 98k. While the stock was a bit rough, Cosmoline impregnated into every possible nook and cranny, and the action a bit stiff, I can see the inner beauty. This is a fine rifle! Completely disassembling a Mauser is quite a task, especially to those who have never taken a rifle completely down before (my Enfield has had its bolt taken apart, nothing more). I took the bolt completely apart, then I worked at getting the stock off. Took off little extra parts like the butt plate and sight shroud. Took out the magazine assembly and trigger assembly, and disassembled each of those...then finally the bolt release lever. Degreased every thing, soaked it in mineral spirits, and coated everything up with lots of CLP. The bolt and trigger assemblies are back on the receiver/barrel, and I'm finishing the stock nicely with some boiled linseed oil...after a good scrubbing with 0000 steel wool it feels slick and smooth, much nicer than the rough, raw initial feel. The oil gives it a natural, non-glossy finish, nicer than the mirror-bright lacquer they put on commercial hunting rifles.
Ordered some non-corrosive 8mm FMJ as well as a matching Yugo bayonet (goodbye, Christmas bonus!). I probably need to scrub the bore some more, it looked a little crudded out still, hopefully not too much corrosion. I need a better bore brush rod, the threads on mine are stripped out so I can't run it back and forth, to really scrub at it.
But yes, now I own an example each of what were probably the two greatest bolt-action rifles of the 20th Century...the Mauser, and the Lee-Enfield. Personally I much prefer the bolt on the Enfield, but it may just be familiarity...the "bolt cocking upon opening" thing is a bit strange to get used to. And if you somehow manage to decock the bolt when taking it off, you're in for a fun time, I can tell you. But the Mauser is probably the big one that influenced later designs, moreso...I just like the crude, sloppy simplicity of a good stout Enfield.
And now I'm defying reason by unceremoniously linking two previously written posts...one you have read already regarding my Mauser, from which I will now segue into an older post concerning, well, something that mixes rather poorly with firearms...
I pray your benevolent graces to grant me such indulgence as to expound fatuously upon both the salient and subtle virtues of some of world's most noble spirits.
[takes off the Poncy Hat]
Excuse me. Anyway, we're going to take this opportunity to chew the fat (aka performing lipomastication) on some of the classiest booze around. Sorry, there's got to be middle ground between noble spirits and classy booze. High quality adult beverages, there you go.
Anywhichwaybutanyway, the whole reason I started this post is that I'm in relatively high spirits (ha! ha!) because I have just entered another little seasonal quiz competition with Aberlour, which in the past has yielded not one (no!) but two (yes!) grand prizes. The first was a bottle of their ridiculously good a'bunadh, which is an old-fashioned, unfiltered, cask strength Speyside single malt. It is a bracing 120 proof, but the concentration of flavours is amazing. It leans much more heavily to the warm, inviting "raisin" notes imparted by aging in sherry butts (as opposed to the brisker, more austere notes of the other main Scotch aging method, used bourbon casks). It is a very vinuous whisky that is easily one of my favourites. And the other thing I won from them is a pair of fine Riedel single malt tasting glasses, etched with Aberlour's logo. So, yes, I'm partial to them...their 10 Year Old is probably one of the best single malts around in that age bracket (and especially at the price, a relatively modest $30). Maybe I'll win their 15-year, who knows! I've made the bottle of a'bunadh last what, two years now.
Right now I've also got bottles of Dalmore Cigar Malt and Speyburn 10-year (a very respectable whisky for the low price), as well as a few brandies. My latest interest in brandy has drifted away from the admittedly snobby and overpriced cognacs and armagnacs (yes, they are nice, though) and onto a less well known spirit, that of calvados. Calvados is apple brandy from Normandy...similar in some aspects of production and labelling to the grape brandies of the Cognac and Armagnac regions. Cider is fermented, and then distilled, and the resulting white spirit (raw apple brandy) is aged in white oak barrels for a period of years. The younger Calvados tends to be a paler, brighter spirit with a fresher apple flavour, and a rougher edge. As it ages, the fruity apple notes fade a bit to the background and the spirit becomes smoother, and incorporates more of the traditional old brandy aromas...dark aromas like oak and (I'm not making this up) leather. I've tried an XO calvados, and I don't actually think it is necessarily worth the increased cost...when the aging obscures most of the character of the original apple spirit it kind of defeats the purpose, and one might as well have a grape brandy. And Spanish brandy? That can be rather a treat, it tends (in my experience) to be immensely dark, fruity, and sweet. Much more appealing I'm sure to those new to spirits. In 2004, I bought a small 50ml bottle off an auction website of Hine Triomphe. Hine is probably my favourite cognac distillery, and the Triomphe bottling is a blend of 45-55 year old brandies. Very good stuff, although I'm hardly going to shell out $300 for a 750ml bottle. It was nice to try, definitely.
There are other spirits that interest me at least...high quality American whiskies such as Kentucky bourbon and rye, and Irish whiskey is quite pleasing I think. Rum can be good (and can be very, very bad) but I tend to prefer the older, well-aged sipping rums. I like gin, but certainly not as a sipper, it needs to be well diluted with good quality tonic water. Vodka and tequila....well, life is too short to waste my liver on those. Vodka might as well be Windex...pure ethanol, no taste, and if there IS any flavour it is because you are drinking cheap vodka with lots of nasty impurities. Tequila, well, tends to taste "planty" to me and I've never quite understood the appeal, although an 1800 Anejo Reserve I tried was peppery and interesting.
I'm bored. Time to end the post. Soupy twist!
18 December 2006
(Note how I used that smarmy, fatuous blogger technique of taking an idea thought to be exceptionally insightful, and separating it into its own single-sentence paragraph.)
So, in my half-hearted quest to keep one ear open to the endless stream of crap music churned out by the uninspired rock musicians of the day, I listened to an interesting song on the radio..."Starlight" by Muse. I admit the fuzz bass hooked me initially, but the vocals and melody was exceptional for the genre, at least. The guy obviously has a Thom Yorke infatuation, but I'll forgive him that. They are British, and apparently from the same generation (starting in 1994). I've listened to the rest of the album (2006's Black Holes and Revelations), and most of it is hit and miss. Sometimes the music reminds me of stuff my old band did, when I was into what we pompously called "progressive alternative" (could a music style possibly sound any more "San Francisco" than that?). All around there is some good music in it, but the lyrics...
Perhaps they are simply marketing to the wealthy ignorati of American youth...but the gist of the album seems to be a huge anti-Bush screed. This being a BRITISH band, I remind you (not that that stopped their idols, Radiohead, from releasing the likewise childish "Hail to the Thief"). And its not even a logical anti-Bush screed. It contains the popular paradox of Bush as both a foolish simpleton and an evil genius. The first track, "Take a Bow", accuses Bush (or who/whatever) of "crimes against the Earth", "cast[ing] a spell on the country you run", and bringing corruption, death, and destruction to all that he touches. Then he ventures into an orgiastic fit of Bush-hating schadenfreude about how he will burn in hell for his sins. The final track has a line "how can we win when fools can be kings". I'd love to believe that the lyricist was venturing a bit deeper than just politics. "Take a Bow" would have been much subtler, surprising, and interesting if it was written about...let's see...the use of sodium bicarbonate in toothpaste. Or about Dick Clark. In fact, it would have been great to do it about Dick Clark, casting him humourously as the Dark Lord over the Earth. But no, it is a humourless amalagam of tired, childish cliches, served up to emotionally stunted people that find an irrational hatred of a government official to be a bedrock in their lives, a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Imagine if they wrote this song about the Secretary of State in 1991. Anyone remember who that was, offhand? No?
My point is that they think that politics is this high ideal...that political protest songs are deep and meaningful. If anything, political lyrics only serve to sever any potential depth of a song, rendering them entirely shallow and shrill. If you think that your life is going to radically change depending on which brand of bureaucrats is helming the leviathan of federal government at the moment...then get a grip, and get on with your life. And if you care that much about the government of ANOTHER COUNTRY...then you're even more silly and pathetic! I can understand Radiohead and Muse seeing a market and exploiting it, I suppose. Just like Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, et al writing silly country songs about kicking terrorist keister and rememberin' them thar Twin Towers, this kind of music is just silly, shallow claptrap marketed to people who feel validated when pop stars sing mantras to them that seem to confirm their feeble thinking.
That said, I know that Eustace Lufgren is in the process of writing a song entitled "Hu Jintao", but it is far from a protest song. More a song of love forelorn, of admiration unspoken, and of funkitude inexplicable. "Hu Jintao...don't you know we gonna make it somehow....somehow."
Perhaps this is the biggest reason I gave up trying to be in a creative rock band. On the rare occasion that I've found creative, talented musicians that have the free time to write and play music, often they end up having a dream to be singer-songwriters as well and have ABSOLUTELY NO TALENT FOR THAT. Honestly, if you can't write good lyrics, shroud them in obscurity. These people would write gut-wrenchingly bad quasi-emo lyrics about the pain (the PAIN!) of whatever-despair-they-are-currently-subjecting-their-emotions-to. Hup-BLAAAAGGGGHH. But the crappiness of emo lyrics is a matter for another day. And...if you are reading this wondering if this rat bastard was talking about you in this paragraph, never fear. The people I'm referring to probably don't even remember me or know my last name, much less know of this blog. I've worked with a lot of great musicians actually, none of us (myself included) seem to have any free time anymore.
Oh, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. (shoot me! shoot me now!) OK, sorry, I won't continue speaking Christmas lyrics. But I'm looking forward to it. Not least for the two days off that I have. Speaking of shooting...I got a Dremel polishing/cleaning kit at Walmart. Yet another tool in my slowly expanding gunsmithing kit. Did some light polishing on the feedramp of my Bersa...hopefully it will work nicely with the Magtech FMJ I still need to buy for the next range trip. Oh, and our Christmas tree may be a rather spindly and cheap Douglas Fir, but its real, at least! I'm not sure about alive, but at least it WAS alive. Although given that petroleum was developed from the organic material of prehistoric plant life, and plastic developed as a petroleum product, you could say the fake-o trees were alive, once, as well.
05 December 2006
Let me first say the obvious. I'm rich. I'm typing to you on a fairly high-tech computer (yes, its a Celeron, but its a computer, dangit!). And, as you are reading this on a warmly glowing CRT or LCD screen yourself, you're rich too! How fantastic, isn't it?
First off, the term "rich" is an annoyingly relative word as I have probably just demonstrated...I imagine most readers reading that would recoil and say, "I'm not RICH, I'm middle class" or "I'm just a student, I eat ramen noodles for Pete's sake". But my point is, everyone tends to think that THEY are not rich, but that people who make more than them are. The man who makes $100,000 a year will consider himself middle class while a millionaire to him is rich. The man who makes $30,000 a year will think of himself as far from rich, but to him the $100K earner is a rich man. And the man in rural Africa that lives on subsistence farming will certainly think a man who makes 30,000 US dollars in a single year is rich indeed.
America is a rich nation. Look at our nation's poor. They tend to have television sets. Many have automobiles. Starvation in America is more linked to the disease of anorexia than famine...how strange that would seem to the people of five centuries ago! Overeating and its ensuing obesity is more of a health risk to America's poor than malnutrition and starvation.
People in America, regardless of income level, can general achieve a relatively (compared to most other nations and civilisations past) high standard of living. How do you think that was accomplished? To me it is the triumph of free enterprise and capitalism. What has communism done for its poor? Where would our poor be today if we had adopted communism? Better off? I doubt it. But I'm eluding the point I wanted to make...
Basically, in the centuries past when the poor could barely survive, I could sympathize with the proponents of communism. I still feel that communism actually made people worse off (as proved by early colonial experiments) but the intent was noble. But now, socialism and communism as applied in this country can not claim such a noble goal. The concept of equality is the only thing left. "He has it, I want it, its not fair". And make no mistake, from screwed up tax structures (an inevitable result of politicians consistently hiking taxes on the "rich" and lowering taxes on the "poor"...always popular with the ignorant masses) to every form of entitlement that goes beyond simple provision of food to the poor, it is a sort of modular, piece by piece communism. I can at least respect the goals of helping the poor survive, but now that that is hardly a concern, the nobility is lost, and communism/socialism/leftism are completely bankrupt...bereft of good intentions, without historical success, and devoid of sound logic. Obviously nobody calls it communism anymore, but the entitlement/equality side of liberalism continues to thrive on two things...the guilt of the wealthy and the envy of the unwealthy. But it ultimately helps neither.
It seems like it may be about time to brew again...winter is an excellent time for that. The tapwater for immersion chilling is ice cold, the house temps are great for ale fermentation, and with the chilly weather its much more pleasant huddling over a boiling, steaming kettle for an hour or two.
27 November 2006
Sagacious words of advice there from Stephen Fry, with which I have chosen to initiate yet another pointless conglomeration of unrelated and entirely irrelevant drivel. Bear in mind I don't offer that caveat merely out of my habitual admission of the utter crapitude that decks the hallowed halls of this blog, but this is one of those posts that I start without even having an inkling of an idea on what I should write. And so, the post lacks any sense of cohesion or relevance. But does that stop me? You should know by now, of course not!
I shot somewhere on the order of 250 rounds of pistol ammunition over the last weekend, which isn't that much really, but my hand is feeling the pain. Could barely grip anything. Found out that my Bersa does NOT like Winchester FMJ. Shoots nicely though when it feeds properly. I've had no problem with Remington Golden Saber, which is what I've got in it right now. Feeds nicely, and its a good round. I'd consider carrying Cor-Bon DPX instead (I plan to load my Kel-Tec 9mm with this) but I doubt there is that much of a difference and the Rem GS round is quite a bit cheaper than Cor-Bon.
That's it, no more, I'm done. Duty/work calls.
22 November 2006
We've got a fun weekend ahead full of...you guessed it...lots of shooting with my beloved lead dispensers. The Bersa, which heretofore has only had a brief testing period with some Sellier and Bellot FMJ (only 25 rounds), is going to get a fierce testing with the 250 rounds I've purchased since. I'm breaking it in! I've also got some hollowpoint .223 to test in my PLR-16. I think I've mentioned all this before...oh well. Some low recoil .38Spl Hydrashok to test out, too.
Let's babble about shotguns, shall we? I've heard it said that had it not been "grandfathered in" as a traditional hunting implement the shotgun would be outlawed as a destructive device. As a home defence weapon it is second to none, it seems. Look at a single shell of 3" 00 Buck. In each shell there are 15 copper-coated lead balls, each of .33 caliber...just minutely smaller than a 9mm round. It propels them at a muzzle velocity of around 1200 fps, faster than most 9mm loads. So, essentially, with each shell fired, it is essentially equivalent to emptying an entire high-capacity magazine from a 9mm pistol (such as a Beretta 92 or Glock 19). That is enormously powerful. If you assume a 9mm Luger shell has a bullet diameter of .354" and each Buck pellet has a diameter of .33"...each 9mm bullet makes a hole of 0.0984 square inches, and each pellet 0.0855 square inches...times 15...1.2825 square inches, which is about 13 times as much.
That said, a shotgun is not a precision implement. Not the sort of thing with which to defuse an in-home hostage situation (an area where a tactical carbine like the compact AR-15s would excel). But the sound of racking a shell into the chamber is universally known and feared, and hopefully would have an intruder retracing his steps and looking for an exit strategy, so as to keep his vital organs non-perforated and functioning properly.
Yes, it has been some time since I've gone shooting and I'm all geared up for it as you can tell.
Happy Thanksgiving all. Eat lots of cranberries, they are healthy and patriotic.
20 November 2006
Duhhh..duhduhh, duhh, duhhhhhhh...
As no doubt you've already guessed, I'm humming the signature tune of 24 (also known by its more cumbersome German name, "Vierundzwanzig"). We just started netflixing the third season, and we've gotten through about 1/3 of it. Much fun as usual! Jack always sporting his signature Sig-Sauer and lots of humorously unrealistic action scenes. Great stuff!
I have to pause and give some credit to a very nice local restaurant. We went to "Thai Place" in Westport this weekend, luckily going early enough to miss some (but alas not all) of the crazies that flock down there on weekend evenings. Really, really good food. I'm going to have a hard time going back to the usual Chinese-American food (sorry, that should probably be "Sino-American"). Their Tiger Cry Beef was probably the best thing we tried...basically some really, really tasty marinated and grilled beef, that would have been top-notch on its own, but with a "Tiger Cry" sauce that was flaming, smoking hot, I mean numb-half-your-face-like-Novacaine hot. You can spoon the sauce on to taste, which was good as Debra is a little less heat-obsessed than me. But the entrees were excellent as well...my wife ordered the Ginger Fried Rice with beef, which was very tasty, with long shoots of caramelised fresh ginger. She ordered it to a mild heat level but it was still very flavourful. I ordered mine, Phad Kee Mow with pork, to a medium-hot heat level, and it was also quite viciously hot. But good! The place is a little pricey (actually quite pricey, being definitely in the upper echelon of restaurants we go to), but quite worth it. You could easily share an entree...they give you a lot of food. And this may just be because they are in Westport, but I was stunned by their on-tap beer selection. They even had New Belgium's 1554 on tap! How is that for obscure, especially for a Thai restaurant! I didn't try anything as the only thing I really enjoy with such spicy food is either a good cider (preferably my own) or a really, really hoppy American IPA or DIPA. I mean, scrape the hop resin off your tongue hoppy...anything less would just get lost in a glorious tidal wave of capsaicin.
Capsaicin and lupulin, two of my favourite chemicals. I know I sound like a meth junkie or something, but for a future "St. Crispin's Dinner" I should do something like this...extremely bittered ales paired with flaming hot food, possibly Asian. Heh...people might never come back, though...we'll see.
And for your viewing pleasure, here's what I may seek to make my new home defence shotgun...the Saiga 12, converted by Tromix Lead Delivery Systems. Basically all the goodies added, semi-auto gas operated magazine-fed 12-gauge with a folding stock, updated sights, and a door-breacher on the muzzle. OK, a bit TOO tactical, I confess, but still, looks like a fun gun to shoot.
14 November 2006
Blast it, I've been writing tech support emails all day and the pads of my fingers are very sore. No matter, sounds like a good spot to end this blog entry.
07 November 2006
It focuses on non-denominationalism (which is kind of ironic in that it is essentially a denomination) and an absence of creed. It talks of an "inner light" guiding the individual, and there are a lot of parallels I seem to see with the Emerg[ent/ing] church movement. It is a strange and unexpected comparison for me, but perhaps a fair one. But the line that stuck out to me in the article was one that said the Quakers "thought of themselves as part of the restoration of the true Christian church after centuries of apostasy". From what I have read, nothing so succinctly seems to describe the Emergies as that. At least the Quakers had the humility to assert they were only "part" of the restoration!
All this isn't to pick on my Quaker homies or you extra-cool Emergie types. It is just to call attention to the words of Solomon...nothing new under the sun.
And in deference to the pacifism of the Quaker faith, I'll avoid telling y'all (yes, I appear to have gone Southern) about my new nifty magazine loader gadget that will make loading pistol mags a breeze, at least in this thread. Cheers all! Get down with your funky Quakin' selves!
27 October 2006
You, you, you, you
The you who do what none can do
The you that haunts my ears
On the shortlist of wasted rains
The avenue of chandeliers
That shames my frozen veins,
That shames my frozen veins.
You, yes, you, you, you
You who knows what once I knew
The you that spits my blood
And stares at both my clouds
You wear a sleeve of mud
Your cuffs become my shrouds,
Your cuffs become my shrouds.
You, yes, you, you, you
You the which why how and who
You crumple the skirts of need
In the belly of desire
Where my freshly planted seed
Can spin its tangled wire,
Can spin its tangled wire.
In other news, I am surrounded by my company's gooseneck cameras, all coiled in various positions, giving me a vague sensation of being surrounded by black metal snakes. The "other news" category is really being stretched today as you can see. Anybody else like their Mac mini? I do...have the little $599 wonderbox on my desk right now, tiny little thing. Of course, I don't like actually USING it so much as admiring its smallness. If you like Macs its a great little bargain, but I'm a Microsoft man. If you know how to handle Windows, its a powerful, stable, and safe operating system. Mac OS is more limited (to me), but has an out-of-the-box safety factor that makes it good for more casual computer users. That said, I'm not going to be touching Windows Vista for a long, long time. A totally unjustified upgrade. I can get a lot more mileage out of XP.
I've come this close to doing another paragraph on several entirely irrelevant and unimportant topics, but it isn't in me, I'm afraid. Thus endeth the worst blog entry ever!
Just....the parcel...of my dreams.
23 October 2006
So who's up for a jumbled collection of thoughts on pacifism? You are? I thought as much! And a few caveats...for those of other faiths or of agnostic/atheistic persuasions, bear in mind that these arguments are not intended to be relevant to you necessarily, but they are concerned primarily with Christianity and pacifism.
St. Peter's Sword
Jesus's rebuke to Peter in John 18:11 is often used as an argument for pacifism. Bearing in mind the context, what is more likely Christ's motivation in this rebuke? That Peter was to meter out violence in defence of others, or that Peter was trying to intervene in the fate that God had chosen for His Son? Examine the two things he said. He asks Peter if he should refuse the cup the Father chose for him; he knew that resisting was futile and counterproductive. He instructs Peter, "put up thy sword into the sheath". He never tells him to cast it aside. He tells him to return it to its proper place: in its sheath, hanging at his side, ready to be used if truly needed. In Matthew 26:52 Jesus says "put up again thy sword into his place", which indicates that it was properly carried at his side, and the sword belonged on Peter's belt. Peter was a civilian, not a soldier or centurion. It is notable that Jesus had walked with Peter for three years, and had never admonished him to cast aside his weapon.
Swords as a Defensive Weapon?
There is often the implication that swords differ from handguns in that they can be "defensive" where handguns are purely "offensive". This is perpetuated by the concept of parrying and blocking which is possible with swords and similar weapons. However, it is fundamentally flawed. Handguns are defensive in that they can deter hostile action, or force it to cease when it occurs. Additionally, swords are naturally offensive...they would not require edges or points if they were purely designed for parrying the blows of an opponent.
The Sword as Symbolism
Throughout the Bible the sword is used in symbolism, typically to refer to the Word of God. If warfare and violence, for which the sword was designed, is inherently and consummately evil, then why would God choose a tool of evil to represent something so holy? Why would the sword be holy in a symbolic or spiritual sense, but be evil in its physical manifestation? This is a similar argument to those who see wine as inherently evil; God doesn't choose things he hates to symbolize things of purity and holiness. The sword was chosen because during that age it was the predominant sidearm. If Christ had come and the Bible had been written in modern times, would God have symbolized His Word with a Smith and Wesson revolver? I know it is abjectly unpoetic and distasteful to think about, but at the time swords were the cutting edge (seriously, no pun intended, believe me!) of weapons technology. Would Christ have told Peter to "put up again your Springfield 1911 into its holster"?
Weapons of Our Warfare - II Corinthians 10:3
As Paul states, the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but spiritual. This is to say, that we as Christians do not win the war of the kingdom with Crusades, jihad, forced conversions, or genocide, but through spiritual warfare: through prayer and ministry of the Word. But to say that this makes the presence of "carnal weapons" wrong lacks something...just as Jesus and Paul spoke of spiritual bread, meat, wine, and milk, we still require physical food. The physical food we eat is a part of our simple daily life, and has no real importance to our eternal souls, but it is not sinful. Our use of physical food keeps our bodies (for which we are stewards) alive, just as the carrying of physical weapons likewise is intended to keep our bodies (and those of others) alive. Do we win souls and advance the Kingdom with them, or tear down strongholds of the Enemy with them? No...and Paul's point here is very important, because there was a lot of misunderstanding about this in the Middle Ages, in particular, by people who thought they were doing God's work by waging war with the Mohammedans in Palestine. Islam continues with this concept (embodied in "jihad") to this day.
Sell Your Shirt and Buy a Sword!
In a passage (Luke 22:36-38) that I've often read over without a second thought, Jesus speaks to his disciples before his crucifixion, and admonishes those who do not have swords to do what they need to do (including selling the shirt off their back!) to buy a sword. The Greek word used here for sword (maxairan) references a contemporary Jewish short sword or dagger used for defence against robbers and wild animals. Because this passage surprised me so much when I read it, I went to a number of commentaries to see what people had said of it in the past. To my surprise, the few that did not skip conveniently over this text all seemed to dismiss it as symbolic and non-literal, without giving any clear reason why or what he actually did mean, seemingly because the commentators could not believe or accept what Jesus said at face value. It reminds me of the classic Monty Python line about the misheard "blessed are the cheesemakers" at the Sermon on the Mount: "obviously it isn't meant to be taken literally, it refers to any manufacturer of dairy products." A plain reading of the text, on the other hand, shows Jesus clearly telling his disciples to arm themselves. If Jesus did not want his disciples to do so, why would he have used such confusing and apparently literal language?
All will readily agree that God engages in spiritual warfare; he is not a "pacifist" in the spiritual realm. In that the physical reality is a reflection of the spiritual reality, would God see engaging in battle as inherently sinful in this world but inherently righteous in the spiritual realm? It is worth bearing in mind that the spiritual realm is not, as we sometimes imagine it, "less real" and more symbolic, as if the term spiritual warfare was just a conceptual model for the struggle between God and Satan; the spiritual realm is eternal, and thus "more real" than the temporal physical realm.
Faith and Pacifism
A frequent argument for pacifism is that arming oneself for protection is to be lacking in faith in God's protection. We are to have faith for much more than just protection from evil men; "our daily bread" is just one other example. How many of us have refrigerators and pantries full of food, instead of waiting every day for God to mystically provide for us and making no provision for our nourishment? Is this a lack of faith? Most of us apply for jobs to earn money to take care of ourselves, and we plan for the future, setting money aside for our children's education, and other types of preparation. Would the God who gave the Book of Proverbs to Solomon find this planning wise or foolish? Is faith wise or foolish? God grants us stewardship of our lives, our bodies, the things we possess, and he trusts us to do his will with what he has given us. A sidearm is simply a tool used to preserve our bodies, just as physical food is, and we realize that we require no less faith for our protection when we go armed than when we are unarmed, because either way, our lives are still in his hands. An excellent article on this subject is posted on the Ethics/Religion section of http://www.corneredcat.com .
Jesus, upon meeting the Centurion in Matthew 8, never exhorted him to lay aside his weapons, but rather praised his faith. The man's very identity was embodied in his skill to do violence and lead his men in war; if such things were inherently sinful, would Jesus not have addressed it? Similarly this brings up the very practical and contemporary issue of police officers. Does a man who straps a Glock 22 every morning, trained and ready to use it to defend his life and the lives of others, violate God's law? Can a Christian be a policeman in good conscience? Or are these people "necessary evils" that we honor greatly because they do a work of evil that keeps us safe so we don't have to? If we stop and examine it, instead of conveniently ignoring it, is the work of a policeman, who is trained and willing to use lethal force if need be, sinful? Most would say no...and the delineation between policemen and civilians becomes markedly blurred when we think of off-duty cops, retired cops, ex-volunteer cops, EMTs and other first responders, and highly trained and certified civilians. Where do we draw the line? Is the use of lethal force sinful across the board, or in some contexts, or does it depend on who executes it? This all becomes very arbitrary and pointless to debate, but it illustrates that it is unfortunately not quite as simple as "Christians should never kill anyone".
David and Goliath
A very interesting case, in that it is used frequently as a testament of David's great faith in God, that God fought for him. But David did not take the pacifist role of inaction, waiting for God to smite Goliath before his eyes without lifting a finger. God had sent the bears and lions to him with his flock probably in order that God could teach his "hands to war" and "fingers to fight". Thus when David picked up his sling and carefully selected 5 stones (which could be considered equivalent to picking up a S&W J-frame and 5 rounds of carefully selected JHP), it was a tremendously deadly weapon due to his God-given skill in wielding it.
Many pacifists will point to non-violent martyrs as examples of the righteousness of pacifism, and it is certainly a good point. You could take as an example Jim Elliott and his party that were martyred by Aucas. But the problem is that you can't take the moral decision from that instance and apply it as easily to another situation. If a hostage rescue sniper is sitting on a rooftop with the reticle of his scope trained on a hostage taker's cranio-ocular cavity, he may be forced into a decision; if the hostage taker, who for the sake of an example is holding a revolver up against the head of a pregnant woman, pulls the hammer back on his revolver to shoot, the marksman is faced with a choice. He has sufficient training and experience to take out the criminal and save the woman's life. If he fails to do so, he will watch an innocent expectant mother be brutally murdered for no reason. What is the Christian decision here? This is a genuine question, and I can't claim to know the answer. In Ecclesiastes 3:3, the Preacher says there is "a time to kill". It seems that pacifism says, "no there jolly well isn't!".
Selflessness and Selfishness
There is a distinct difference one can note between selfish violence and selfless violence. The men who comprised the front rank of a Greek phalanx (a square formation of spearmen) knew they had almost no chance of survival going into battle, even if their side won decisively. A policeman walking into a "shots fired" situation or a SWAT team member taking point on entry into a hostage rescue assault are not acting in their personal interests, but they are exhibiting a good degree of selflessness. Selfishness and selflessness can be defined pretty broadly, so this is not a moral rule of any sort, but it is important not to conglomerate all acts of violence, both the selfish and evil, and the selfless and noble, as the same thing.
A father's instinctive reaction to physical harm threatened against his young son or daughter, that is either sin nature or God's nature. The Bible speaks repeatedly of God's dedication to destroying those that harm his children, which leads me to believe the latter. A protective instinct is natural, but are all natural natures sinful? There is a natural nature of selfishness and greed which is sinful, but just as love for children is both present in physical nature and in God's nature, the protective instinct can be present in both natures as well.
Psalms 144:1 "Blessed be the LORD my strength which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight:"
Judges 3:16 "But Ehud made him a dagger which had two edges, of a cubit length; and he did gird it under his raiment upon his right thigh."
Luke 11:21 "When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace:"
Song of Solomon 3:7-8 "Behold, it is Solomon's carriage! Sixty mighty men are around it, of the mighty men of Israel. They all handle the sword, and are expert in war. Every man has his sword on his thigh, because of fear in the night."
Genesis 3:24 (First Mention) "So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life."
16 October 2006
I don't want to wage a holy war on the emerg[ent/ing] church movement on here, at all, but I find Chesterton and Lewis, in particular, quite refreshing when considering these movements. While I've just started it, Chesterton's "Orthodoxy" seems to be a comedy of irony, or "farce" as he puts it, that shows Mr. Chesterton coming full circle as a logical, free thinker that finds the answers in the place he leasts expect...traditions, the established church. And Chesterton was (egads!) a Roman Catholic (hisssssss). And Lewis...well, he was a member of the Church of England...not exactly that great of a church, but he accepted its faults and didn't call for a "revolution" against the established church. Nor was he a conformist or a traditionalist. In The Screwtape Letters he talks about how churchgoers can be tempted to turn their focus to the frailties of the church body itself, by looking at their neighbors and dismissing the church because it is composed of imperfection. The thinly veiled contempt of the Emergies (great new word!) for "conventional church" reminds me so much of that. The thing I like about both of these authors is that they didn't dismiss 2000 years of church history because, surprise surprise, there was sin and apathy in the churches. But anyway, don't want to open a can of worms here. If I go into a real critique of "la revolucion" I would go on for a long time and probably run the risk of being firebombed by some revolutionaries. Debra and I discuss this stuff a lot, we are analytical types. No matter, though. Movements falter and disappear, denominations come and go, revolutions and rebellions fade to footnotes of history before being squeezed out of even such insignificant notoriety by the march of time...God remains.
On that note...I hate to say this, because other than being a hippie (and Cartman haaates hippies! "hippies everywhere! they wanna save the earth but all the do is smoke pot and smell bad!"), I've got nothing against him, but I've amused myself quite a bit coming up with parody ideas for Rob Bell videos. I mean, the guy is interesting and all, but his videos are just ripe for parody...I can't help it. I'm not sharing the ideas on here though, so at least I've got *some* self control.
I think "Emergies" is a great new term. What about you? It's like the Monkees meet the Goonies meet hippies meet Erwin McManus. See, why can't I have a nice logical discourse on this stuff without inventing a new pejorative term by which I am probably the only one even remotely amused?
By the by, I am now a happy possessor of the complete first and second seasonings of "A Bit of Fry and Laurie (Deceased)". I think with that sketch comedy, my favourite five British comedies have been established, including the following: Monty Python's Flying Circus, Fawlty Towers, Good Neighbors/The Good Life, Yes [Prime] Minister, and A Bit of Fry and Laurie. Honourable mention to Jeeves and Wooster, though its more of a series than a sitcom. Kind of literary sitcom, in a sense.
06 October 2006
"A Word, Timothy" - nice little punchline, that...
"Milk Pot" - wanton, profligate silliness
Oh, and the episode of the Office that was on last night...fan-sodding-tastic. The fallout of Dwight's attempted coup had a dramatic inevitability and such a magnificent sense of ominous foreboding. He knows, Dwight (or is it "Dwigt"). He knows it was you. And it breaks his heart. The other side effect to that show is that now at work, I really want to play Call of Duty. Can I transfer to Stamford? I know what the difference between an MP40 and a 44 (assumedly the Stg. 44) is, unlike Jim. And I'd take the Sturmgewehr 44 over the MP40 any day. Huh-hoy.
Speaking of!!! What a magnificent transition. I've decided on two rounds, I believe. In .380 ACP for the Bersa, the Remington Golden Saber is said to have excellent reliability and is used widely among Bersa owners. For the Kel-Tec in 9mm Parabellum, I will probably go ahead and use Cor-Bon DPX. That is expensive stuff, about $1 per round, so it won't be for practice once I prove its reliability, but it is probably the best in that chambering. Excellent expansion, uses the Barnes X bullet. The expanded bullets look like little copper flowers, and if I recall correctly, can hit 3/4" after expanding, which is essentially .75 caliber. Although, hang on a minute...that may be the number for the .45 in DPX, so I'd expect the 9mm version to be more in the .50 to .65 range after expansion. Anyway, I'm feeling range deprived...need to get some more .380 to run through the Bersa. I won't trust it til I've run at least 200 rounds through it, and it runs malfunction free. Right now it is at 1 malfunction in 25 rounds, but it is still in the break-in period.
I cannot get Bertie Wooster's version of "47 Ginger Headed Sailors" out of my head. What a silly little song. "It's all the rage at the Drones at the moment".
04 October 2006
Hugh Laurie singing "America":
The "Major Donaldson" sketch:
Hugh Laurie's angry and incisive "Where is the Lid" song:
The "Subject of Language" sketch:
Two quasi-jazzy but very witty Hugh Laurie songs, "Mystery" and "Little Girl":
This is just wrong...a chipmunked "Hey Jude":
A limp-wristed song about Steffi Graf:
OK, this final one is the strangest, most absurd thing I've ever seen. And it is abjectly disconcerting...the sort of thing where you are unsure whether to laugh hysterically or just be confused. Don't watch this until you've watched at least most of the others, just so you don't prejudge the comedy of Fry and Laurie:
Also, check out a number of the "related" videos, because there are tons of Fry and Laurie clips on youtube. Enough to easily waste an afternoon. Trust me, I know.
02 October 2006
But "The Scandal of the Century of the Weekend" is Mark Foley. Let's look at what we know. Mark Foley is a prat, first off, we'll all readily admit it. He was commonly known to be gay, and he sent lurid emails and IMs to a 16 or 17 year old male teen page working at the House. Oust him? Sure! I'm all for that.
But what irks me is the predictable reaction to this...that Republicans and conservatives are all hypocrites and, well, evil child molesters. That conservative moral standards are somehow bad because someone who advocated them turned out to fail them miserably. Sooo...painting with a broad brush, conservatives say that there is right and wrong. Some of there members crash and burn and fail to live up to those standards, and liberals scream hypocrisy. Liberals don't really have to worry about hypocrisy because they hardly ever take a moral stand on anything. I am not communicating this well...it makes more sense in my head. But it is like one side saying "sin is wrong" and the other side saying, "there is no sin". The first side sins, and then the other side attacks them as hypocrites for sinning when they said sin is wrong. Well, newsflash, all men are by nature sinners. The fact that people are imperfect does not excuse the faults in our lives. The right thing for Republicans to do is to live up to the standards and punish Foley according to the law. If it was a Democrat, he would be celebrated and feted for his heroic stand for ephebophilic Americans. Don't believe me?
Gerry Studds was a Democrat congressman who was in an actual, physical relationship (not just instant messages) with an underage 17 year old male page. He was lightly censured by Congress when it broke in 1983, but he went on to be elected FIVE MORE TIMES to Congress. Tell me. How is this ANY different. The only difference is that one is a Republican, one is a Democrat, and Democrats feel that they don't have any standards to abide by sexually...pretty much in their book anything goes and its all "private matters". But when a Republican does it, shrieks of hypocrisy break the clouds from the Left. When will they understand...conservatives are not advocating moral standards to be forced upon all the other imperfect underlings...they advocate those moral standards because we are all imperfect, we are all prone to sin. If a Republican is caught speeding in his car it does not mean that the party's support for speed limits is not genuine. There will always be corruption, scandal, and immorality in Congress. The answer is not to claim it doesn't exist or to interpret its existence as support for removing moral standards, but to root it out whereever it does exist.
Ehhh, running out of concern here. Pardon me, this was probably one of the most poorly written blog entries I've done in a while. It makes me feel like a writer for Newsweek (har, har).
On to more pressing matters! The flat-stack 9mm I've had on order is shipping, though I'm far down the list. However, a guy on the Kel-Tec Owners Group forum managed to snag one Sunday...looks beautiful! He even managed to get it to the range, fed it 50 rounds with no malfunctions. He said the trigger was a little stiff, so we'll see on that. I'm trying to decide what a good ammunition selection would be...I've got it nailed down to Remington Golden Saber or Federal Expanding FMJ (EFMJ), both in +P. I think Golden Saber may be the first choice, but if I have any feeding issues, the Federal EFMJ will be next in line as its round nose will feed quite reliably. I'd love for a .357 SIG version of the PF-9, but due to the increased recoil that is unlikely. For the uninitiated, .357 SIG is a newer caliber that takes a 9mm bullet with an (approximately) 10mm necked-down casing, resulting in what is essentially a 9mm +P+P+P cartridge...huge muzzle velocity and energy because you're using the power of a 40cal cartridge to push a smaller 9mm bullet. There have been very good field reports from police departments around the country regarding the cartridge...including reports of higher-than-average one shot stops, and non-fatal shots that still stop an assailant.
Also, there is a company developing an electric less-lethal round that is very interesting...it generates electricity as it is fired and delivers a strong electric shot upon making impact. Note it is not "non-lethal" in that it could still be lethal, but the diminished need for multiple shots to stop makes it more likely that you could stop an attacker without necessarily killing him. Which we can all agree is a good thing!
For next time...no politics and no gun talk. I promise. How about a Bit of Fry and Laurie? Coming soon!
25 September 2006
Took only three to Lake City on Saturday. I put only about 20 rounds through my Kel-Tec PLR-16, basically just to get it "close" to being sighted in. It is closer to POA (point of aim) but nothing precise, really. I emptied several clips of .22LR from my Ruger...always a fun little plinker. And lastly I put the Bersa .380 through its paces. One failure to feed in 50 rounds...gouged a hole in the bullet face. I assume that is what happened as opposed to the gouge being there already and causing the stoppage, but I don't know. I'll have to pick the brains of the online gun gurus on that, as well as tear the gun down for a thorough cleaning. Recoil isn't bad...between firing the massive PLR and the light, almost recoil-less Ruger, I found it somewhere in the middle. More recoil obviously than the 22 but nothing like the thunderous blast of the PLR, which I may remind the audience is essentially an AR-15 chopped down to a pistol, albeit with a superior short-stroke piston for the gas operation, instead of direct impingement. So, like an AR-15, with one of the better aspects of the AK-47 thrown in. But all in all, I think I much prefer shooting down at the lake, with the inlaws. More informal, and much better suited for pistol shooting. Do you know how disheartening it is trying to shoot at a 6" target from the minimum distance of SIXTY feet with a short-barreled concealment pistol? 7 to 15 yards (21-45 feet) are much better ranges for pistol shooting, especially in a tactical training context. Lake City is more of a "come and hone your deer hunting skills" sort of place...crack out the scoped rifles, but pistols are kind of worthless.
In other news, I am too tired to write about other news. To quote from my favourite silly show of the moment, "Three pints of damnation and a chaser of hellblast, John!"
20 September 2006
Well, the new addition to the family is here:
I apologize for the COB'ed manufacturer photo, but mine looks exactly like this...a duo-tone Bersa Thunder 380. Basically an Argentinean .380 compact pistol, blowback action, basically an improved version of the classic Walther PPK (a very famous gun...wielded in style by James Bond, used by Hitler to blow his brains out). First shot is double action, a very smooth trigger pull compared to the Walther, and consecutive shots are single action. Sights are very visible, and the fit and finish is excellent. Safety is a bit stiff but I've got instructions on how to make it smooth as silk. But the ergonomics of this gun are its high points...it melts into your hand. I know that sounds silly, but compared to either my snubbie or my 1911, this one just fits the hand, instead of the hand fitting the gun. It fits quite nicely in the shoulder holster for my snubbie, which surprised me...I just have to adjust the retention straps a bit. I bought a box of S&B ball ammo, which I'll be sending downrange this Saturday when I put it through its paces at Lake City. All my effusive praise and gushing aside, this isn't really my gun, it's Debra's. We were looking at compact .380s (including the ultra-compact Kel-Tec P3AT, which I fired last Saturday down at the lake) and this was the one she liked best. Perhaps not the smallest, nor the lightest, nor the most powerful, but well balanced. Fairly small, manageable weight, reasonable power with the right JHP loads, nice trigger, good sights, and excellent grip. The Kel-Tec on the other hand had great advantages in size and weight, close to equal power (though one less round, and a shorter barrel leading to lower muzzle velocity), VERY tricky trigger, non-existant sights, and a grip that was hard to manage comfortably. The Kel-Tec, don't get me wrong, is the ultimate answer for deep concealment and pocket carry, but it would actually be better for more avid and experienced shooters like myself...most people would actually perform better with more of a compromise, like the Bersa. Odds are the Bersa will be more reliable as well...they are built like Volvos...a little heavier than they need to be but solid and reliable. Kel-Tecs on the other hand are finicky race cars...great performance, and at the top of their class in certain respects, but they take special attention and care, and can be, as I said, finicky. My main carry pistol will probably be a Kel-Tec, but their flat stack 9mm soon to be out. I've had it on order for a while, but it will be a while yet before they come out with it.
I've got an experiment running that should be good...the "Dark and Stormy" is a cocktail made with a shot of dark (usually black) rum in a spicy ginger beer (ginger beer in the non-alcoholic but very spicy ginger soda sense...something like Reed's, not Canada Dry). I'm going one up and creating a "Less Dark But Even More Stormy" cocktail...basically I took a dark amber rum (Bacardi Select...hey, it was fairly cheap!) and I'm infusing it with a pound of peeled and chopped ginger root. Ginger-infused rum! The flavours go so well together...perhaps because they are both Carribean flavours, but the spicy, sugary "rumminess" of the rum (well, how else would you describe the flavour?) with the hot, fiery ginger...a dose of this in some Reed's, or Bundaberg...great for zingiphiles like myself. Yes I just made that word up (Zingiber officinale being the scientific name for ginger).
There are big issues to tackle on here, for you, my countable-on-one-hand audience, but I never seem to muster the mental effort to get started. The emerg[ent/ing] church movement, pragmatism and trusting God, and pacifism and the Bible. But I never actually buckle down and address these, do I? Oh well, not as if I'm doing the world a disservice by not enlightening the masses with the golden rays of Neufish opinion...its easier and quicker to rant about little things like hobbies!
S I V I S P A C E M , P A R A B E L L U M
12 September 2006
First off, Hugh Laurie has become a favourite actor of mine...I'm not terribly keen on the general genre of "House", for which he is most famous currently, but his manic, darkly comic acting makes it much more entertaining than it could be. My favourite stuff of his, though, has always been with Stephen Fry, starting with Black Adder III and IV. As Prince/Lieutenant George he was crazy, foppish, innocent, and wholeheartedly daft. The sort of person who said, bally-ho, chaps, and advocated sunny optimism in total obliviousness to the utter crappiness of his circumstances...much to the chagrin of the more intelligent and cynical Blackadder (played by Rowan Atkinson, before he became the Bean). In Jeeves and Wooster, he plays the upper-class twit perfectly, and his interactions with Stephen Fry (as Jeeves) make what should be a very boring series (of the sort you'd see on PBS Masterpiece Theatre) into a quite funny and engrossing little show. And lastly, "A Bit of Fry and Laurie" ends up being my favourite, as a sort of reincarnation of Pythonian sketch comedy. Very, very funny and diverse stuff, and it highlights their talents as writers. Most people are surprised to learn that "House" isn't American, much less that he is principally a comedy actor.
"The Path to 9/11" was an exceptionally good TV movie. I've not seen a made-for-TV movie as good as that one, and it was highly engrossing, in a "24" sort of fashion. Although I really didn't trust Condi Rice when she was played by the actress who played the back-stabbing Sherri Palmer on "24". And Patricia Heaton? What a typecast role, hehe...you could almost hear her grating voice going "Ray.....get your parents out of the Embassy THIS INSTANT!". She ought to try to land some roles where she isn't...how shall I put this delicately...eternally bitchy. If she keeps these roles up she'll never be allowed to smile on film again. But on the whole, an excellent, well rounded film. Why in the world did the Clintons and the Democrats get their undies in a wad over this? Quite lame of them, I'd say. The film hands out blame in small dosages to BOTH administrations but reserves the greatest quantities for those that deserve it the most...the Islamist terrorist wankers themselves. It does a good job as well of not stereotyping...with the Massoud character, the Paki colonel, and the two informants...you don't walk away equating Muslim with terrorist at all! In fact, I was enormously saddened at the reenactment of Massoud's assassination (yes that actually happened), as he was one of the heroes of the film, and probably was equally as admirable in real life. Though perhaps the Russian Spetznaz didn't think so highly of him...
Finally, I'm digging myself into an ammo hole. Why is it that I can never buy two guns that share a caliber? It would save on ammo. Each firearm I own is of a different caliber which means I have to keep on hand a box of each for taking to the range. Right now I've got a new automatic coming, which will be my wife's gun. It's a fine pistol, a Bersa Thunder 380, which is an Argie gun loosely patterned after the Walther PPK. Small, compact, and comfortable to shoot. Fires the 9mm Kurz (short) 380ACP round, 9X17mm. My next gun (which will be for me, this time) is the on-order Kel-Tec PF9. Half the weight of the Bersa and more power (9mm parabellum)...not as comfortable to shoot for that reason, but very, very small and powerful. So those two will take me up to seven calibers to keep in stock (.22LR, .223 Remington, .303 British, .380 ACP, 9mm Parabellum, .38 Special, .45 ACP). Oh well! All the more fun to take to the range.
There's also a great website about women and concealed carry:
It has some fantastic articles on Christianity and pacifism:
Very good reading. Even if you are not a woman...
06 September 2006
First off, a good show worth checking out is "Yes Minister", a British comedy I thought I'd give a shot since I rather liked Paul Eddington in "The Good Life". Very clever show...a bit too blasted clever sometimes, and I wish the DVDs had closed captioning, as it can be hard to follow. But a great indictment of office politics (and naturally government politics) and the stonewalling/CYA maneuvers of superfluous bureaucracy. One of the best written shows I've ever seen...can you imagine a show done in America about just three 55-year-old white men working together in an office for government administration? No wacky characters, no crazy situations, just the drudgery of paperwork and meetings. Cheap gags are at a minimum...they have to work for it to be funny, and they succeed at that.
Secondly, both Steely Dan and Michael McDonald were excellent in St Louis on Monday night. Jon Herington, in particular, is a freak of nature. With a guy like that in the band, Walter Becker ought to just sit down when it comes time for a guitar solo. Herington was the closest thing to mind-blowing I've seen in a live guitarist, whereas Becker, well, he does what he does pretty well, but his addiction to bluesy phrasings stuck out like a sore thumb on some songs. He definately has his own voice. But in terms of relatively unknown guitarists, Herington is it. I know this is one of those stupid sayings, but the guy really does reinterpret the original solos. Usually I am disappointed by the live solos, but not with this guy...easily an equal with Carlton and the others, if perhaps a generation late.
08 August 2006
I found this surprising...not least because I'd never seen it before. Wondering how it was traditionally interpreted, I went to several commentaries, and found that the only ones (that I had) that mentioned the passage made unsupported claims that "obviously" this was not meant literally, without even presenting a lucid explanation of what he meant otherwise. Of course that immediately made me think of Python's "blessed are the cheesemakers" line, "obviously it isn't meant to be taken literally, it refers to any manufacturer of dairy products". Its that sort of snivelling contempt for the words of Jesus...that obviously we know what he MEANT to say, never mind what he actually did say. Jesus would not be so ignorant and uneducated as to advise his followers to purchase swords, would he?
36Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. 37For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. 38And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.
There are reams that can be (and have been) written on Jesus' lack of compliance to pacifism, and its very interesting and eye-opening to study it out. It is just very different from the common wisdom that I was taught.
Again, I will flesh this all out and actually support it one of these days, just not today.
One final note...I've got a small copita glass of a Dalmore single malt, and I have to say, malt whisky from Scotland is one of the greatest imbibable inventions to which man can lay claim. They are as varied and as unique as the wines of Europe or California, each region having a distinct style, each distillery having a peculiar trademark, and each blend and bottling having a fingerprint, so to speak. This particular one has a splendid nose of honey, light molasses, and fleeting floral notes...an aroma more complex and varied than I can parse into words. The complexity is particularly amazing when you think the only real ingredients are barley malt and water. I used to think more highly of brandy than of whisky, but with the exception of certain varieties of apple brandy, that has switched. I have to say, I can see no higher purpose for barley.
Cheers to John Barleycorn!
31 July 2006
Ummm, yeah. I didn't realize I had comment verification turned on or something, so I had 7 comments, spanning six months (yeah, this is a high traffic blog) that didn't get published. I was not being unresponsive if I neglected to respond to these comments...just unaware that they existed, and all that. Thanks to my wife for pointing out the obvious.
Josh...the Gervais show is a podcast, downloadable (or at least it used to be, you may have to pay for it now) at www.rickygervais.com.
Matt, thanks for the MacDonald link, and no, the commie libs at UMKC didn't put anything in my yard, presumably because they are aware of my intense appreciation of diversity: .303, .38, .45, .223, etc. Muahahaha. Also thanks for the offer of loaning Orthodoxy...I'm immersed in library books regarding English cooking and restaurant planning right now so don't worry about getting it to me right away, but it is something I'd love to read.
29 July 2006
This is my Kel-Tec PLR-16, a long-range pistol chambered in .223 Remington. It is similar to an AR-15 pistol, but it does not use direct impingement, relying instead on a short stroke piston system. It also does not have the buffer tube the AR pistols typically do. It has been customised to an extent...note the 30 round magazine and the compact foreend with the picatinny rail, both nice upgrades I think. I added a holographic reflex sight, BSA's multi-reticle version, which has worked out great. And most recently, the soft case (on which it is sitting) and the Yankee Hill Machine flash suppressor were given to me by my father-in-law for my birthday...quite nifty. I *could* modify it further with accessories on the underbarrel rail (such as a laser, or a tactical light) but I don't really need that at all. And a vertical foregrip would put this into a restricted class of weapons so I'll happily skip that.
How about a better view of the flash suppressor and reflex sight:
I'm looking to get this back out on the range again soon. It doesn't kick as much as you expect...the weight absorbs a good amount of recoil. Certainly nothing like the recoil you'd expect from something like this:
25 July 2006
A type II malfunction, the failure to eject or stovepipe malfunction, is not ideally corrected by racking the slide, as I wrote before (and read in a Gabe Suarez book). Because the slide catches on the casing as it is returning forward, it could be that the next round is being chambered, and racking the slide back fully could chamber another round, resulting in a much more frustrating double feed malfunction. The ideal choice here is to curl your support hand over the top of the slide, in front of the ejection port, and sweep your hand backwards, catching the half-ejected casing and pushing it (as well as the slide that is holding it) enough to release it, which will then allow the slide to finish its action and go into battery. Since you aren't racking it all the way back, you won't be in danger of a double feed.
However, I luckily haven't been hit with one of these yet, so I can't say that my method works better in practice. Actually it certainly isn't my method, it's very common...I read it in an Erik Lawrence book, but I'm sure its been around for some time.
I watched "Walk The Line" over the weekend too, and have some strong feelings about the movie. I've never been a huge fan of his music; in my opinion I think people enjoy his style, his character, and those aspects of Johnny Cash more than his music itself. Kind of the same with Bob Dylan, though his are more about the lyrics. But I'm getting off topic. I grew to hate this movie for its message. It made a feeble attempt at justifying Cash's abandonment of his wife, and somehow tried to make his adulterous pursuit of another married (off and on) woman seem "romantic". It may be true to life, and I'm not condemning Cash here, but I'm disgusted how the movie portrays him as cool/admirable/etc. As Sam Miles would say, he was a "butt sniffer". Totally without character or integrity, totally given to whatever he felt he wanted at the time. It is very popular to justify infidelity and divorce with feelings and emotions...his wife "didn't support him or share his dreams", they were emotionally distant, they fell out of love, he and June were soulmates, all that BS. Just like John Lennon and Cynthia Lennon...one reason I never had much respect for Lennon, as an individual (though he had a wicked wit and and amazing musical gift). I've heard this movie defended in that their marriage was "over" by the time he pursued June, but that's respectfully a load of bollocks. A good half of the movie, spanning years, represents the time in which he is chasing one particular skirt and neglecting and dishonoring his wife, still very much married to him and still very much wanting him to be back with her. And all through the movie, they documented countless times when Vivian would desperately work to revive or repair their marriage, but I can't think of any drop of effort made by Cash to make it work.
I feel bad, because I'm not meaning to rag on Cash personally, despite the factual or unfactual nature of the movie, but its more the movie itself and the way it is popularly received that bothers me...that people look with such a flippant eye at the slow degradation of a marriage, the ounce-by-ounce betrayal that is painfully, horribly detailed and documented in this movie. It isn't a love story at all. They at least portrayed June in a more positive light, in that she resisted his advances for a long time and recognized how wrong it was. But like I said, the movie is painful to watch because "romance" is overshadowed and sullied by the terrible slow starvation and death of his first marriage, due to neglect and betrayal. The fact that this is so quickly glossed over and ignored by fans of the movie is what bothers me, that people can easily justify the dissolution of a marriage and the vows that come with it if it just starts to "not feel right" or if something better comes along. The moment you say "I do", you've picked your soulmate, and whoever else comes along, they aren't for you. And did anyone else notice how the Cash character was always doing this kind of lecherous leering thing towards the Carter character?
OK, I'll stop with the crotchety old man thing. It's just one of those things...why do you think 50% of marriages end in divorce? People say it is better to divorce than to lead an unhappy life. I kind of doubt people who try to lead lives of integrity and make every effort to honour their vows to their spouses end up all that unhappy as compared to the people who fly from relationship to relationship down a road paved with infidelity, divorce, and broken promises in pursuit of "happiness". But what do I know, I'm just a 20-something.
Besides, I prefer comedy. Like a romance between Johnny Cash and Jimmy Carter. Think of the giant swimming rabbit jokes that could be made! Oh and that wasn't so much a gay joke as a Jimmy Carter joke, so no offence, pooftas.
Another St. Crispin's dinner is in the works, for August. Perhaps I'll put up a menu, although as our invitees grow more numerous, my dining room is not getting any bigger, so I'm not sure how to handle that, exactly. But so far we've got dishes from Wales and Cheshire for this time. Don't have a deep fryer yet (yet being an operative word) so we'll have to wait a bit longer for fish and chips and Scotch eggs (aka cholesterol cluster bombs, arterial bunker busters, etc).
20 July 2006
The Good, the Bad, and the English
Pardon this poorly titled review of two English culinary items, both sampled last night. First off is the bad...blue Stilton. I should have known better, given that the last time I sampled blue cheese (gorgonzola) I found it so disgusting I had to eat random items of food to expel the acrid, moldy taste from my mouth. Likewise, I found this cheese to be eminently inedible. There are those who love it, who sings its praises, who unjustly crown it "King of English Cheeses". To me, I'll stick with the venerable Cheddar, which in its aged and mature form is quite complex and delicious. Other great cheeses include Wensleydale (a new favorite), Cheshire, and Double Gloucester.
But onto the good...Cheshire Pork and Apple Pies. I diced up a pound of lean pork, added a couple diced rashers of bacon, and seasoned the mixture with salt, pepper, a healthy amount of sage, and a dosage of cream sherry to moisten. Then I diced up two Braeburn apples (I'd have rather had Cox's Orange Pippin, I'm sure, but hey, I'm stateside, and these are good apples) and rolled out two pastry crusts. I layered the pork alternately with layers of apples, and then finally dotted the top layer with a tablespoon or so of butter. I drizzled a tiny bit of apple brandy over each one (just, well, because) and folded the pastry over on itself and sealed it. Brushed it with beaten egg to glaze and vented the top with a knife...then into the oven for an hour.
It was quite good! Very interesting, a definite change of pace from other meat pies, most of which have a formula predominantly of beef/lamb, onion, and potatoes or other veg. I might go a little bit easier on the sage next time, and maybe sweeten the apples with a dusting of brown sugar, but on the whole it was great. Another obscure discovery of English cooking. Cheers to my wife for putting up with the experimentation.
14 July 2006
First off, Henry V remains firmly the greatest of Shakespeare's works...challenged in my view only by Hamlet and Richard III. Henry V on the surface appears to be a simple patriotic history, but what a great play it is. Cheers to Lucian Cannole and the rest of the cast in the KC Shakespeare festival. All did a great job. I'll address what I think were the strengths and weaknesses, in comparison to Kenneth Branaugh's cinematic version, which I hold in high regard. Henry V in the stage version does well and seems very reminiscent of Branaugh, but the one area he lacks is due to the nature of stage performance. He doesn't get to cooly whisper lines with "hard favour'd rage" on his brow, the subtlety and self-control that Branaugh's character showed (thanks to closeups and good audio, luxuries the stage version lacked by nature) was one of my favourite things about it. Exeter, as well, had a kind of John Rhys Davies sort of authority as he was cast in the movie. The scene where Exeter addresses the French council in a full suit of armor and thunders his message...again, with some subtlety and a certain awing sense of bridled power...was excellent. "Scorn and defiance...slight regard...contempt..." And lastly, you just can't really upstage Derek Jacobi as Chorus. He put an almost comical amount of energy into that performance. The stage actor did well, too, but Jacobi had a fierce, visceral intensity that befits the seriousness of the play. Now, on the other hand...I think the "ethnic" portion of the play (Welsh, Scotch, Irish, and lower class English) had loads of great actors. The Welsh captain Llewellyn was particular excellent ("aye, leeks is good!"). And Captain Jamie, of course...played by Mr. Cannole quite well. But on the whole, I think you get more of an authentic Shakespeare experience with the staged version. A movie version offers a great many advantages and I admit I tend to prefer them (Gibson's Hamlet being another favourite of mine...and try as a I might I have never really liked Lawrence Olivier versions). But you get the feeling you are at a traditional play when they cast off the luxuries of movie sets, special effects, and the like.
Plans are progressing for an English brewpub in Kansas City. My responsibilities will be creative direction for the food, atmosphere, and all aspects of brewing. The financial and managerial tasks I will leave to my associate. But I am working aggressively to expand my repertoire of British cuisine and enhance my brewing techniques. Perhaps in the not too distant future there will be a place for you to watch the BBC while enjoying bangers and mash and a pint of freshly brewed bitter. Trust me, bangers and mash and a pint of bitter is a lot better than you might assume. I've had the real stuff at an expat joint in LA.
Next...firearms safety, and a discussion of autoloader malfunctions. First the four basic rules of gun safety:
1. Treat every gun as if it were loaded. Additionally, always check the chamber carefully before considering the gun "safe" or unloaded.
2. Muzzle Discipline: never let your muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
3. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it. Never shoot at shadows, and always realize that bullets can penetrate quite a lot, including interior walls (easily).
4. Keep your finger off the trigger and outside of the trigger guard until on target and ready to fire.
Next up, a discussion of typical autoloader malfunctions. I've experienced a few of these lately and as such have investigated them a bit.
First, failure to go into battery. This means that the bolt has cycled but failed to fully bring the next round into battery, and the symptoms are that the slide doesn't fully close and the trigger is inactive. Simple fix...strike the back of the slide to send it fully into battery. Had two of these but I treated them as duds (type I malfunction and racked the cartridge out of the gun).
Second, a Type I malfunction, failure to fire. Hammer falls and gun does not fire. It is best to hold for 30 seconds to ensure that it isn't a retarded primer, but then you tap the magazine to ensure it is fully seated, rack the slide to eject the dud and chamber a new round, and get back on target to resume firing.
Third, a Type II malfunction, failure to eject, or the "Stovepipe". This happens when a casing gets caught by the returning slide as it was ejecting, jamming the gun. Simple fix, similar to the Type I. Rack the slide back while simultaneously turning the gun to the side, throwing or dropping the spent casing clear, release the slide, and fire.
Fourth, the dreaded Type III, failure to feed/failure to extract. A spent casing fails to extract out of battery and the slide tries to chamber a new round, causing a double feed jam. I had one of these, and the important thing to remember (it took me 3 minutes to figure this out) is to immediately, before doing anything else, lock the slide open. Then remove the magazine (you might have to slide the half-fed cartridge back into the magazine to get it out). Then rack the slide at least twice to eject the spent cartridge...then put in the magazine securely and rack the slide, and you're ready again to fire. This one had me flummoxed, but at least now having dealt with it, I understand it fairly well. Better to be flummoxed by a jam on the range than under a God-forbid situation of extreme circumstances. But this is a tricky one to fix and I'll admit, its a good reason why people should either have a backup gun, or consider the slower firing but more reliable revolver. Autoloaders are excellent machines but they require more dedication, training, and maintenance than a simple double action revolver. Someone who doesn't know how to rapidly and safely address the potential malfunctions listed above should probably stay away from them. They are like racehorses...excellent performance but slightly finicky and jumpy, requiring an expert handler. At this point, anyone considering a firearm for home defense would be best served in my view by a medium frame double action .357 Magnum, or a 12 gauge pump action like a Mossberg 500 or Remington 870.
I've got to step up my dry fire drills, I think, as my marksmanship is a long way from what it needs to be, and I need to smooth out things like my draw/presentation considerably. I'm not sure how I feel about controversial topics such as point shooting. I've read avid praise of it, and ever so much more passionate criticism of it as well. I lean towards the "always use your sights" persuasion, because simply getting a hit will not stop an attacker necessarily, and as has been said before, the three principles of stopping power are marksmanship, marksmanship, and marksmanship. But on the other hand, sometimes you aren't given the luxury of extra time, in the case of a closing-within-arms-length attacker.
I have of late created what I think might be the best beverage I've ever run across. In Normandy there is a drink called "Pommeau de Normand". Normandy is famous for its fermented cider, as well as calvados, its oak-aged apple brandy. Pommeau is an almost equal blend of young apple brandy and fresh, sweet, unfermented apple cider/juice. The brandy preserves the juice, which is typically in the 17% to 20% ABV range. I simulated this hard to find beverage by blending a glass of Martinellis Sparkling Apple Cider (which I have found to be the most flavourful of sweet apple juices I have tried) with Laird's Straight Apple Brandy. The resultant beverage was extraordinary, full of complexity and flavour. Butterscotch, vanilla, floral notes, and of course crisp apple...very unique! I'll be blending and bottling some more of this, definately.
26 June 2006
I'm experimenting with Danish cooking now. Perhaps inspired from my many trips to Solvang, California (sort of a touristy "Little Denmark"...I highly recommend the trip, nonetheless).
My last blog entry bemoaned the confusion surrounding caliber dimensions. Reading up on the 357 Sig cartridge I found out that no, 9mm does not equal a .38 caliber, more like a .355 caliber. Why then is .380 ACP called 9mm Kurz? Is .380 ACP really .355 ACP? .40SW equals approximately 10mm, I can accept that...but this 9mm range of calibers from 357 Mag to 38 Special to 9mm Parabellum, I'm quite confused on. Is there a single, actual .38 cartridge out there? Do I care? Sadly, yes. I do. It's the Schrute in me. "The Schrutes produce very thirsty babies." Sorry for the Dwight quote, I couldn't help myself.
15 June 2006
How's this for nerdliness: I'm going to make a crappy simulation of ballistic gelatin. Ballistic gelatin is a form of (duh) gelatin that is made do the density of the human body, and cartridges are fired into it to examine penetration, fragmentation, and wound channel size. It allows for a good comparison of terminal ballistics of various bullet calibers and styles. It also looks cool, I admit, which is the real reason I may attempt this. Basically I'm just going to mix up plastic milk containers full of jello (made to a thick consistency) and chill it, then blast it to kingdom come, and hope that it captures some bullets before they exit the other side. It would be awesome to get a perfectly expanded jacketed hollowpoint, even just to explain to people what the point of a hollowpoint is (because yeah...a LOT of people sure do ask me about that stuff...right...).
On the cooking front I've been interested in Asian foods, doing a lot of noodle dishes here recently. I like Thai rice noodles rather a lot, I've been cooking them and vegetables with pad thai sauces, curry sauces, and peanut sauces, all with a shot of Sriracha chili/garlic sauce for some blistering heat. If I ever do start that British brewpub, I'll be supplementing the good old Brit favourites with colonial tastes...chicken curry or tikka masala from India, and perhaps a Burmese/Thai noodle dish with lots of fiery chilies. That would go rather nicely with a malty, sweetish Southern England brown ale, I think. No fizzy pisswater lager allowed! Perhaps in October we could brew an honorary Oktoberfest Maerzen-style, but other than that, the lightest thing on the menu will be Bitter!
Two, at most three things remain on my "to get" list of guns for practical purposes. Note these are not "toys" like some guns might be...things to take to the range and have fun shooting with. I admit my last purchase, a Kel-Tec PLR-16, may have bordered on that, being basically designed as a weapon to be deployed against hordes of zombies. The first is a lightweight carry pistol, such as the planned-to-acquire Kel-Tec PF9. An HK USP Tactical would be "fun" but too expensive and impractical for anything but open carry. The second is that most trusty and proven home defence weapon, the 12-gauge shotgun. My plan would be to acquire a Mossberg 590 with ghost ring sights and retrofit it with a pistol grip and folding stock. Finally, and more optionally, would be a simple modern rifle with long range optics and a moderately powerful caliber, 7.62 NATO or higher. No there aren't many (any?) self-defence scenarios when you would need a long-distance rifle, but say I wanted to go hunting with the lads? Likewise, the Mossberg could double as a hunting weapon, though it would be comical to fire birdshot out of scary black folding-stock shotgun replete with tactical accessories. Kind of like hunting deer with an M82A1 Barrett .50 cal sniper rifle. Insert obligatory "go ahead Bambi make my day" joke here.
OK, one last gun-geek note. Is anybody else pissed that they named the .38 Special a .38 Special? Apparently the .38 Special is NOT in fact of a caliber of .38, as one would assume. I was always confused, because a revolver chambered in .357 Magnum can shoot .38 Special. Turns out, the .38 Special is actually .357. It's a bloody .357 Special if you ask me. Here I was thinking that a .38 Special was a rimmed, revolver version of a 9mm round. Just for clarification, the .380 Auto round, or 9mm Kurz, is 9mm x 17. 9mm Parabellum, the ubiquitous round known simply as "9mm", is 9mm x 19. I was thinking .38 Special was 9mm with a longer case than that, basically a juiced up 9mm. How wrong I was. The misleading bastards!
02 June 2006
Barely managed to drag meself into work this morning...spent all last night (from 4:30, directly after work, til about 11:00) brewing a mild ale so I'm a bit tired...brewing is a relatively active hobby. For the uninitiated a mild ale is an old English style that resembles a brown ale in its emphasis on dark malts instead of hops, but with a light body and a very small alcohol content. I'm going to bottle this in the smaller 12oz bottles so I can perhaps have a bottle at mealtime when I'd prefer to minimize the consumption of alcohol. I suppose this belongs on my brew log, not my main blog, right?
I've been having some fun with an Airsoft pistol. It's a Beretta 92 clone. All I can say is, man, why didn't they have stuff like this when I was a kid? But it's nice to be able to sit on the couch and fire across the room into my cardboard target trap (making reasonably small groupings, I might add) while watching TV. Cheaper and easier than going to the range, although I of course recognize we're talking apples and oranges.
I watched the NBC Office marathon last night, which is a great show if not on the atmospheric level of the UK version. I think everyone is supposed to think of themselves as Jim and Pam, the normal, fun characters. What's funny is that my wife and I end up sharing a comic assortment of some of the MILDER qualities of another "couple" on the show, that of Dwight and Angela. No I have never dressed up as a Sith Lord before you jump to conclusions. But seriously, I built model tanks as a kid, I can discuss small arms tactics with confidence and interest, and I am a stickler for abiding by rules...in general. Am I Dwight Schrute? Perhaps. QUESTION: what is the point of this post anyway?
Behold the mighty Schrute Space:
22 May 2006
So watching a few TV shows...I've got some issues. First off is 24. Of all TV shows it is the most faithful to proper tactics and firearms training, but here are two issues. In season 2 which I am watching courtesy Netflix right now Jack shoots a thin young woman in her arm to get her to drop a gun. Jack, who never seems to carry anything but a medium frame automatic, may in fact be an excellent shot but no one trusts a sidearm to have that kind of accuracy, or at least no one should. I realize he needed to take her alive, but that's why he needed a 12 gauge with less-than-lethal rubber slugs or something. But I can forgive that. The other issue, which is also somewhat understandable from a TV show standpoint, is that for some crazy reason, he is always the first to enter hostile environments...which in itself is unlikely...and he does so never equipped with the body armour, helmet, ballistic face shield, and M4 carbine that all the other members of the assault team have. I'm sorry, but he should at least take an MP5 if he's going to go point on every single entry on the show. But I am grateful for this, they actually look like they've been trained on their weapons. Jack readily assumes the Weaver stance on a weekly basis and I did see him use the Harries technique once. None of this one-handed garbage.
Speaking of, I don't watch this show, but it is the feminine equivalent of 24...Alias. If I watched it (I've seen snippets) I could probably write reams about how it is unrealistic, so I should probably not open that box anyway. I doubt people expect realism from it. But the TV advert for it showed the heroine holding a large frame automatic with one hand, aimed at a target (presumably not the broad side of a barn...which would most likely be a challenge for her). Pardon my nerdliness as I emit a guffaw and a "yeah right". I don't care how much you train, one handed shooting will always be a fraction as accurate as a properly supported two handed stance, like the Weaver. It's a bloody fashion shoot, that show. Which reminds me of another (funnier) advert showing Wes Anderson, for a credit card company...the money quote was "can you put a bayonet on a .357?".
And lastly, last night's episode of Desperate Housewives. Admittedly the last place you'd expect to see accurate portrayal of CQB or SWAT tactics, but the final scene where the young killer guy has the mother (Bree, yes, I know most of the character names, I will admit that) at gunpoint...he's using a one handed stance but its at close range and you expect an untrained thug to do just that anyway. But when the SWAT team takes him out, apparently with an M4 carbine through the window, it gets a little trickier. First off, you don't hear the shot...totally unlikely, they didn't have silenced weapons and even if they had them off camera no one would put it on a sniper rifle for SWAT purposes. Secondly, the suspect was hit and made no immediate physical recognition of the hit...no jerking, no reflex, no jolt upon impact...highly unlikely. When a 5.56mm FMJ bullet strikes you in the chest, I would see it as highly unlikely that you'd stand stone still, then realize you've been hit, then fall down. And lastly, they went for a chest cavity shot. Unlikely...he was pulling the double action trigger and the chamber was cycling, with the hammer raising. The only way to stop that suspect was a careful shot to the cranio-ocular cavity. A shot to the chest would have a very likely reflexive action that would complete the shot.
OK, enough ranting, back to work.