Saturday, August 03, 2002

FIREARMS FOR DUMMIES: GIMMICKS
There's always someone trying something new, something that will be useful in a very small number of situations. Or just something that will be neat.

Case in point is this .22 caliber knife. The knife has 4 small chambers in the handle for .22 caliber rounds. Twist part of the handle and a trigger and sight pops out (the trigger is sticking out the top of the knife while the primitive sights are below). Four shots are available before reloading.
Who could use this type of weapon? There might be a use for commando groups engaged in a night operation or beach assault. I wouldn't want to rely on it for regular self-defense work.

Another rather neato concept is one of a kind weapons built by a gunsmith. Mostly these are functioning guns built specifically for display, and some of them can look very striking.

Way back in the day these hand built guns were popular for people trying to compete in extreme long-range shooting. Since this type of long shots weren't possible unless someone steadied the gun on a bench, it became known as "bench rest shooting". The guns for this type of precision shooting were nothing more than the actions and barrels bolted down to heavy steel plates. At first these guns were known as "iron monsters", but now they are more commonly known as "rail guns".

Some firearms are made for deep concealment. Here's a one-shot pistol that looks like a pen. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and see the attachments that you can hook on to it to form a half-assed rifle (why not buy a real rifle?). Here's a pic of a pen gun that looks more like a pen.

During World War II some auto makers in the United States churned out a million of these Liberator one-shot pistols. They came with a little bubblegum cartoon showing a freedom fighter sneaking up behind Herr Nazi and shooting them in the head. Then the freedom fighter was supposed to steal Herr Nazi's gun and run for it. The idea was to air drop them in occupied Europe and watch the population revolt against their Nazi masters.
Interesting idea, doomed to failure. If you're going to risk a plane to air drop these little one-shot guns then you might as well drop real weapons. It only took about $1.25 to make each Liberator, but it only took $15.00 to make a cheap .45 sub-machine gun. Might as well drop the sub guns unstead.

Friday, August 02, 2002

HE WANDERS AROUND A BIT BUT HE EVENTUALLY GETS TO WHERE HE'S GOING
I was reading some posts on another blog when I came across this little gem. The author talks about how the International Red Cross is patting itself on the back for sponsoring an anti-landmine treaty. In fact, 122 nations have signed on. But Colin May points out that those 122 nations only comprise 30% of the world's population. He also makes the point that the majority of those that did sign are living under a peace enforced by the United States.

It's interesting stuff. Trust me.

Thursday, August 01, 2002

THE END OF A CAREER
Just came across this article on the Yahoo! news server. Seems that two teenage girls were abducted at gunpoint Thursday morning while double dating. Their male companions were duct-taped and left behind. The girls were recovered later that day, and they were still alive! The kidnapper was shot to death by sheriff deputies.

Great news! A good day for law enforcement. But the sheriff decided to talk to the media.

"Kern County Sheriff Carl Sparks said he was certain the kidnapper was minutes away from killing the girls and had chosen a remote location in the high desert. He said the girls had been raped.

"He was hunting for a place to kill 'em and bury 'em," Sparks said on CNN's "Larry King Live" program.


Sparks just committed political suicide.

See, the general public is acutely uncomfortable with the realities of dealing with criminals. Death, rape, torture. Terrible things done to the most helpless of us. All par for the course. But they don't want to hear about it.

If anyone should happen to read this who lives in Kern County you should vote for Sheriff Sparks during the next election. Volunteer your time for his campaign, drive people to the polls yourself.

He's too valuable a man to lose.


Sunday, July 28, 2002

JAMES IS BACK!
No, I don't mean me. I mean James Lileks, a man so talented that I just wish I could thank his Mom for giving him the same name as myself. Now I can bask in reflected glory due to our shared moniker.

It seems that the incomparable Mr. Lileks has taken a few weeks from updating his Daily Bleat so he could devote himself to a houseful of relatives and the barbecue grill in his backyard. This has left him in a, shall we say, frazzled state of mind. He discusses how he feels in his latest post.

And Mr Lileks should realize that I am the Lizard King!

Want to know what the heck all that was about? Then you should read the latest Bleat.

BLOGGING IN A POLICE STATE
N. Z. Bear is the guy who created the blogger ecosystem. You know, that handy dandy little page that tracks how many blogs have a link to your own in their posts (and I'm down there on the bottom with a big fat zero next to my blog's name, thank you very much).

But Mr. Bear is a man of many talents, many talents indeed. He's wondering what it would look like if the terrorists get their act together and hit the U.S. with plague, nuclear fire and more kamikaze planes. And he looks at this nightmare future from a blogger's point of view, of course.

If you like depressing sci-fi then you should go read the whole thing.

It's a good yarn. Trust me.

WHO'D A THUNK?
Remember Pat Sajak? He's the host of The Wheel of Fortune, that TV prize show that's been on for about 20 years.

While I was reading The National Review I noticed that they had a link to a speech he made. A speech made by Pat Sajak? Well, what the heck, I decided to take a look.

Hey, it's pretty good! It skewers the narrow mindset that Big Media is so fond of. The same bias that first attracted many of us to blogging in the first place.

But, hey, don't take my word for it. Go read it for yourself.

YO HO HO AND A BOTTLE OF RUM
I'm fascinated by the idea of modern day pirates. We have sophisticated, effective and high tech law enforcement here on land but travel just a few miles off shore and you're pretty much on your own. The world's oceans are vast and the agencies tasked with law enforcement on the high seas will never be even close to adequate. Added to this problem is the fact that evidence (including witnesses) can be put permanently out of view simply by tying a heavy weight and carrying it to the nearest rail. The only records we have of pirate attack come from claims filed with insurance companies, but there wouldn't be anyone to claim a pirate attack if the attacked ship is scuttled. Makes me wonder how many vessels that just disappear are actually the result of piracy.

James Dunnigan's StrategyPage has just reported that the majority of pirate attacks are staged around Indonesia. More details are to be found on Pravda's online edition. They report that the number of attacks in Indonesian waters (44 attacks) is three times the number of attacks found anywhere else (there were 15 attacks in waters claimed by Bangladesh, which makes it second place). In 2000 only 3 crewmen were murdered by pirates. In 2001 72 sailors were killed. What is the reaction to these criminal acts? Ship captains are urged to avoid the trouble spots.

Things have gotten kind of absurd around Indonesia. Offering very competitive tax rates and licensing fees have meant that many shipping companies now have Indonesian flagged ships. But all of that wealth passing through such a poor country on it's way to somewhere else has proven to be too good to resist for some criminals. It really fell apart last month during a conference held by the International Maritime Bureau. The conference was held in Indonesia, and it was on ways to combat rising piracy. But a tanker carrying palm oil named the Tirta Niaga was seized by pirates in Indonesian waters. The captain and crew were held for several days. They were released before the grand finale of the conference, a staged assault on a cargo ship by local anti-pirate forces while selections from the James Bond soundtrack played over loudspeakers. I notice that no one suggested that those same forces just lock and load and go clean house.

This suggests that the Indonesian gov is getting a kick back from the criminals. The IMB has a crack anti-pirate assault team in place, and many private security firms have stated that it would be easy to put together a really effective force from mercenaries and retired military men, but nothing's being done.

Ah, to be a mutli-billionaire. I'd buy one of these to go tooling around Indonesian waters. I'd need some big guns to chop up those fast but flimsy boats the pirates favor. A couple of those .50 cals and there shouldn't be any problem, but I'd also like something in case they manage to get close. And the crew should have something just in case the pirates get aboard.

Then it would be the pirates who'd end up missing for a change.

IT'S A BIRD, IT'S A PLANE....NO, IT'S A BIRD
I was just looking through StrategyPage.com when I came across this picture of a painted HIND helicoptor.

Heck, that paint scheme is just great!

MORE NEWS FROM THE KINGDOM
There's just something about a monarchy that makes this American itch. It's just so medieval, the idea that some guy who was lucky enough to come from a certain womb (and all his close relations) have the power of life or death over everyone in their territory. We have stuff like this happen from time to time in the U.S. At least we do until the FBI breaks up the latest organized crime organization and sends them all off to jail.

This all comes down to the concept of auditing. I'm not talking about having an accountant come in and go over the books, but the idea that a problem or situation will be honestly examined and those responsible for wrongdoing punished. This is a concept that seems to be alien to the Saudis.

Case in point, this article from the Guardian. It seems that terrorist attacks on Westerners working and living in the kingdom have increased alarmingly. The police and security forces are no help, since they routinely accuse the victims of the crime. Then they toss the Western expats in jail and torture a confession out of them. Just the thing to root out those nasty occidentals who are so evil that they even carry out terrorist bombings against themselves!

Scroll halfway down the article and you'll find my favorite part. Seems that a Scottish accountant working in the kingdom named Ron Jones was injured from a bomb that went off in front of a bookstore. He was arrested from his hospital bed, held for 67 days, and tortured until he confessed. What has the British government done about this? Nothing. Jones is filing suit against the Saudi regime in a British court.

Pathetic, just pathetic. But when you have nothing but empty gestures left I suppose you might as well make an effort.

MAY YOU LIVE IN INTERESTING TIMES
Browsing around on the news servers todya, I came across an article from the Guardian that Saudi Arabia is on the brink of collapse.

Read the article and see just what kind of a mess the kingdom is in. The Guardian reports that protests across the country started after the girl's school fire, where Saudi "morals police" refused to allow female students to leave a burning building because they weren't wearing head scarves. 14 students were agonizingly burned to death. Yet the protests are against the pro-American stance of the country's ruler, Prince Abdullah.

Hey, WE don't let young girls burn to death because they aren't wearing enough clothing! We don't even like the idea of "morals police"! So why blame something on America when we actually condemn it?

The reason is that the protests are also "pro-Palestinian". More anti-Israel crap from the people who live in the region. Since Israel would quickly be swarmed under by their Arab enemies without U.S. support, it's obviously our fault the girls died. These guys might not be allowed to drink due to their religion but they're smokin' some mighty fine shit.

The article goes on to state that the British intelligence services are concerned that members of (or factions sympathetic to) al-Qaeda will take over the country if things come to a boil. This might come soon enough, since King Fahd, the country's official ruler, is ill and languishing in a Swiss hospital. The lid might just come off if he dies.

I'm not a big fan of civil unrest since innocent people always get caught in the middle. But the Saudi regime is rotten to the core. If they go the al-Qaeda route we'll just have to clean house there before invading Iraq. It will provide good practice for our forces, it will secure our supply of foriegn oil, and we'll have a secure base from which to launch an invasion to topple Saddam. It would also send a pretty clear message to the Arab world that a new day has dawned and violent extremism won't be ignored any more.

Looks to me that, should Saudi Arabia go, then it will be a win-win situation.