Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Amongst the Canucks

I've been in Canada for a few days on an R 'n' R/work combo trip. I'm staying with the folks in Vancouver, which is normally rather Seattle-ish, but we enjoyed a few inches of snow today. This was absolute heaven after a zillion straight months of non-stop inferno-like Texas swamp-heat.

Carnaby and I were more or less raised in Canada, and most of our childhood was spent way up in the north where the sun sets at about 2 PM this time of year. That place holds some of the best memories of my life, and I think I speak for both of us when I say that Canada will always feel like home. A clueless, dopey kind of home, but home nonetheless.

It's been about a year since I was here last, and about eight years since I moved south of the border. My impression of this place has changed a little for the better since then, but not much. A few observations...

Canadians aren't as reserved and grumpy as I used to think. Many of them are downright friendly.

The accent is almost exactly the same as that of Minnesotans.

Paul Martin is a total dink.

If Canada would ditch its stupid healthcare system and acknowledge gun rights, this would be a swell place to live.

Canadian chocolate bars are still superior to American chocolate bars.

That last point is really important. There's only one store in Texas that sells only one kind of Canadian candy -- Coffee Crisp (the best chocolate bar ever invented) -- and, luckily, it's 16 miles from where I live. But you can get them all over the place here in Canuckistan. Plus, they have a genuine delicacy -- Coffee Crisp ice cream.

A nice light snack.

You can't watch FOXNews here. (What is this, North Korea?)

Driving around here often resembles what I imagine driving in a third-world country is like. Probably because two-thirds of the people on the road are from third-world countries.

Pubs galore. I realized how much I miss a good Canadian neighborhood pub. Texas just has bars (many of them of the naughty variety). Bleh. What I really want is to be able to spend my Friday night playing air hockey and having a relaxed drink and good pub-grub on the cheap.

Canada is one of the few places where you'll hear people snarl about the Conservatives in one breath and then curse the Liberals in the next. Everyone's corrupt. Within the last two decades every single political party in Canada has been discredited by some kind of huge scandal. Except maybe the Natural Law Party and the Bloc Québécois, but I'm too lazy to check that.

Canada has famously restrictive gun laws, but there are an amazing number of shootings here.

The second night of my stay I realized how vulnerable I feel in Canada. I'm used to sleeping within arm's reach of two loaded firearms. But here, nada. If somebody broke into the house, the best we could do is point my surly Jamaican step-mother at them. But it's more than just me, as an individual, being unarmed. It's knowing that every single person on this block is probably unarmed, as well. And that everywhere I go, the only people who are armed are criminals (there is virtually no police presence in Vancouver). I like to tell Canadians that I am surrounded by armed and dangerous people in Texas -- my neighbors -- and that's a good thing. But Canadians just don't get it. They inevitably associate guns with bad guys, and I kind of understand, because, unless they've grown up in the far north or Alberta, none of them has grown up in anything resembling a self-reliant culture. I'd always been a 2A supporter when I lived in Canada, but the reality of the gun-culture was a little scary when I first moved to the States. My first couple of times to the range, I wasn't 100% sure that the guy next to me wasn't some kind of maniac. It was weird trusting a complete stranger with the power of life and death over me -- and that's the root of Canada's problem with guns. Canadians just don't have faith in freedom. They worry that people are going to screw it up, which people do, but really not all that often.

Anyway, I guess the lack of guns explains why there are so many rottweilers and pitbulls in Vancouver. But, as Carnaby showed, you're more likely to be injured by having one of those in your home than by having a gun.

Update: From Cox & Forkum

Canada agrees: Paul Martin is a dink.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Via KOMO4 News
Parents of the man most seriously wounded in a shooting rampage at a shopping mall said Tuesday that he drew a pistol and confronted the gunman before being shot.

Brendan "Dan" McKown, 38, was hit twice in the abdomen on Sunday, when a gunman opened fire on crowds in the Tacoma Mall.

Doctors at Tacoma General Hospital believe McKown may have suffered permanent paralysis because of spinal damage, hospital spokesman Todd Kelley said.

Tacoma police spokesman Mark Fulghum said detectives don't know if McKown simply brandished his handgun to show the gunman he was armed, or if he was preparing to fire the weapon. Witnesses told the family McKown was shot after he pulled the gun.

Roger McKown, 63, of Yelm, called his son a hero and said he has been licensed to carry a firearm for years.

"Dan has been one that always believes in protecting other people, and he put his life on the line for other people," he said at a hospital news conference.

The younger McKown has undergone two surgeries and remains on a respirator, the hospital said. He also suffered a superficial gunshot wound to the right elbow.

It seems one of our own was hurt attempting to protect others. I was kinda wondering why a CCW holder didn't stop or at least attempt to stop the "gunman." Our prayers are with you and your family, Mr. McKown. Now I'm going home to work on my draw and to think about tactics.

Quiz Time! In which sci-fi crew would you best fit?

According to my sci-fi profile, I belong with the crew of the Enterprise D.

You scored as Enterprise D (from Star Trek). You have high ideals and know in your heart that humanity will continue to evolve into a better people. Now if only the borg would quit assimilating people.

Enterprise D (from Star Trek)


Serenity (from Firefly)


Moya (from Farscape)


SG-1 (from Stargate)


Nebuchadnezzar (from The Matrix)


Millennium Falcon (from Star Wars)


Galactica (from Battlestar: Galactica)


Bebop (from Cowboy Bebop)


Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? (pics)
created with QuizFarm.com

Personally, I would have chosen to be amongst the crew of the Galactica or Serenity. While I'm a fan of the ST:TNG series, the Federation reminds me too much of the U.N. Being part of a small group on a desperate and lonely quest is much more appealing to me than belonging to a monolithic bureaucratic entity, no matter how benign.

[Hat tip: robot guy]

Monday, November 21, 2005

Lo and Behold ...

... I got an answer from the Tacoma PD in response to my question about the weapon used by the Tacoma mall shooter. How about that! Here's the scoop:
Similar to (but not) an SKS-definitely not a .22.
Interesting. Now I just need to find out what sort of magazine capacity the thing had and how many mags the shooter had.

I guess now the thing is that the bad guy used good old spray 'n' pray. Effective technique, it seems. Right up there with gangsta style sideways pistol handling. I think they should teach these techniques to bad guys everywhere. Didn't the guy in Wisconsin shoot about the same number of rounds from a similar weapon and kill several people? He was military trained, if memory serves. In our case, the punk kid was evidently spray-firing from the hip -- with the corresponding results.

I'm actually kinda surprised that nobody with a CCW was there. I wonder if there's an angle for blood-sucking lawyers to sue on behalf of one of the victims, since the mall does post "no concealed weapons" signs. Although in Washington State you can pretty much ignore these signs. In such an establishment they can ask you to leave if you blow your cover, but otherwise, legally, you're fine carrying there.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

AK5 Assault Rifle?

We just had a shooting at a mall in Tacoma by a "gunman." Lord, please let me never be referred to on the news as a "gunman."

Komo4 TV News reports that "one man said the weapon used by the shooter was an AK-5 assault rifle." And then they whip out the obligatory big black banana-clip (yeah, I know, it's a "magazine") assault-rifle picture. Strange choice of weapon. The AK-5 is a Belgian-made actual assault rifle used in Sweden, capable of shooting 650 rounds per minute full auto. There are none listed for sale on gunbroker.com, nor on auctionarms.com. They are full auto and hence not legal in Washington State. In fact, since that they were made circa 1986, they would not be legal anywhere in this country for civilian ownership. So, give me a break. Who was this witness?

I left the TV before the piece was over, and my wife said they did interview what appeared to her to be a bonafide gun-nut, who, from the sound of the weapon, figured it was semi-auto, not full-auto, not that the AK-5 doesn't have the select-fire capability, but was this the same guy who thought it was an AK-5? My wife said he didn't say it on air.

Ah, here we go, the Seattle PI reports that it was an AK-47. Great, just what we need. Here come the demands for an assault weapons ban. How was it exactly, though, that the gunman hit seven people and nobody died? Only one in critical condition, thankfully. I would have expected a lot more damage from a semi-auto AK-47 variant. That, and the witnesses all reported that the gun only made a "pop pop pop" sound, or something to that effect. Centerfire rifles -- especially indoors and at close range -- tend to do a lot more than "pop." Hmmmm...? All the local news outlets are jumping on the "assault weapons" bandwagon without actually knowing what the weapon really is. I'm sensing biased knee-jerk reporting. Alert! Alert!

Hey, now look at this. Accurate reporting by CNN.com!
The man barricaded himself in a music store at Tacoma Mall, taking three employees hostage, after opening fire with a semi-automatic rifle about 12:15 p.m. (3:15 p.m. ET), Tacoma Police spokesman Mark Fulghum said. A SWAT team took him into custody after he released the hostages unharmed, Fulghum said. (Posted 9 p.m.)
And more from CNN.com where the Tacoma PD spokesman, Mark Fulghum, offered only a few details
He said the shooter, who was armed with a semi-automatic rifle, "was just in the mall and he opened fire," apparently at random.
Carnaby Fudge will get to the bottom of this!

Update I: I've sent a couple emails to Tacoma PD after a few unsuccessful attempts at calling them to try to get some answers. We'll see if I get a response.

Update II: A response! See here.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Taste of Freedom

A letter from the soldiers on the ground. Read it and pass it on.

[Hat tip: Michelle Malkin]

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Bruce Willis, All-Around Good Guy

Bruce Willis has gone to Iraq and seen good things happening there. Now he's coming to terms with the media response
"I am baffled to understand why the things that I saw happening in Iraq, really good things happening in Iraq, are not being reported on."
Good for Willis for saying it. I think a small part of it has to do with the fact that bad news sells better than good news, but it's only baffling if you think there isn't an agenda being pushed by the media.

It gets better
Willis also revealed he was in talks to make a movie about the Deuce Four, the soldiers whose heroic exploits have been chronicled by embedded blogger Michael Yon.
Wow, a positive portrayal of our military. I may just faint from excitement!

Now the best part. He's offering $1 million of his own money as bounty for the al Qaeda masterminds behind the 9/11 attacks
Bruce Willis is such a die-hard patriot that he's offering $1 million to any civilian who turns in terror kingpins Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri or Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The hairless Hollywood he-man announced his bounty offer on MSNBC's "Rita Cosby: Live and Direct" this week.
That's it, Willis gets my vote for the awesomest man in Hollywood -- an American patriot and all-around good guy.

[Hat tip: Libertas]

Saturday, November 12, 2005

That's Right, It's Maximus

You scored as Maximus. After his family was murdered by the evil emperor Commodus, the great Roman general Maximus went into hiding to avoid Commodus's assassins. He became a gladiator, hoping to dominate the colosseum in order to one day get the chance of killing Commodus. Maximus is valiant, courageous, and dedicated. He wants nothing more than the chance to avenge his family, but his temper often gets the better of him.



William Wallace


Batman, the Dark Knight


Lara Croft


Neo, the "One"


Captain Jack Sparrow


Indiana Jones


The Terminator


El Zorro


The Amazing Spider-Man


James Bond, Agent 007


Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0
created with QuizFarm.com

Thanks, Jed, that was fun.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

SF Handgun Ban: Don't "Turn In" Your Guns!

Do you live in San Francisco? Are you aware of the new handgun ban? In the event that the NRA fails to overturn this piece of junk legislation in the courts, don't just turn in your pistols to be destroyed by the government. Sell them to me!

I'll pay a solid $0.10 to $0.25 on the dollar for what your gun is worth (depending on what it is), and I'll make sure it gets a safe, comfy home. Don't worry about breaking any laws either, as I'll get myself an FFL license before any transactions take place, or just have you ship the thing to my favorite gun dealer.

While I hate to take advantage of any of you poor souls still hanging around in that liberal pig-pen, I would be very distressed at the thought of all your fine weapons being melted down. Seattle and carnaby fudge will take them!

Just email me at carnaby_fudge AT hotm**l dot c0m.

Note: Ideally, just move out of SF before April 1 2006, and preferrably out of the slimy state.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Workin' Hard

Posting's been light lately, because I'm swamped at work.

I'm still working on the never-ending paper, which has its genesis in my now-ancient master's thesis about black hole-galaxy evolution. The reason this has taken years to develop is that my analysis showed something rather peculiar -- a controversial result, and the opposite of what I expected. I can't go into details as of yet, but the graphics below provide clues as to the nature of the paper. The reason this result is controversial is because there is no theoretical explanation for it (yet!) If I publish, I will be the first person to make such a claim on the basis of strong observational evidence. My thesis advisor is worried about the potential for embarrassment, but the only exciting premises are the risky ones.

A central galactic supermassive black hole.

The expected result would have required little justification, but now I have an extraordinary claim, and as Carl Sagan once said, an extraordinary claim requires extraordinary evidence. I have been running simulations (the last of which finished this morning) to check for bias in the data. The sims show my conclusion is likely not the result of some kind of observational bias -- it is probably real.

The galaxy M104 seen edge-on. Deep in the center of the bulge lurks a supermassive black hole.

My group is very excited, but this is nerve-wracking stuff. You don't want to go to press only to find out you made some stupid mistake that obliterates your conclusion. Hence the caution that has strung this project out for years.

Once this paper is accepted for publication, I'll post something about it. In the meantime, posting will likely continue to be light (from my end, anyway) for the next couple of weeks.