Sunday, January 29, 2006

Range Report: Savage .300 Win Mag

Well, I got the rifle to the range finally. It was bore sighted before I went, and I still couldn't hit the paper at 100 yards for my first couple shots. The bore sight was pretty far off. Once I finally got dialed to the paper the groups were coming in at 3-5 inches, not too bad for a noob. By the time I finally got sighted in, my shoulder was getting pretty sore, that thing packs a wallop. I'm looking for a good recoil pad now.

Anyway, good rifle. The accutrigger is awesome. Next trip out, I'll see what that thing can really do.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Deadly Cure for Hiccups

This is why you never, ever, ever point your gun at something you aren't willing to shoot.

The cardinal rules for gun safety:
  1. The gun is always loaded.
  2. Never point the muzzle at anything you do not intend to destroy.
  3. Never put your finger on the trigger until you're ready to shoot.
  4. Always be sure of your target and of what lies beyond it.
Learn 'em and live 'em, folks.

Stickwick Update

We interrupt Stickwick's blog hiatus to bring you some news...

I finally submitted that controversial paper I mentioned a few months back, and it has been recommended for publication in the Astrophysical Journal. Days after I submitted my article, I discovered an interesting new paper that offers a sound theoretical explanation for the phenomenon I report on. (Incidentally, it is an explanation that I proposed to my advisor some months ago!) My advisor has also published a body of work that he's been sitting on for some time that supports my results. So, my paper has moved from the realm of controversy to one of exciting plausibility. As soon as the paper is actually published I'll formally comment on it here.

The next project involves a follow-up to this result with another big data release from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Since this is rapidly becoming a hot topic, it has evolved to become the focus of my dissertation. My previous focus, the curious absence of the most massive galaxies in the universe, has been demoted to a related side project. My telescope proposal for this project was shot down, because another group in Pennsylvania was doing very similar work with the Hubble Space Telescope. However, this group has only done imaging with the HST, with no plans to follow up by analyzing the spectra of these galaxies (very important for confirming results, and sadly the spectrograph on the Hubble died recently). So I have joined forces with this group, and we are going to collaborate on a spectroscopic follow-up using this nifty facility. (And I'm 99% sure my proposal will be accepted this time!)

That's all for now. I'm positively exhausted at this point from all of my activities, and so posting on my end will remain at a minimum probably until late spring. (Carnaby is still actively posting. I think.)

Monday, January 23, 2006

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin Concedes Election to Conservative Challenger

Thank God. 12 years of that bunk was too much. It'll be a long time before Canada turns the corner to become a country I'd ever live in again, but at least this is a step in the right direction.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Dragonskin Body Armor in Iraq?

I just heard on a "progressive" radio station that US troops have been advised that if they are shot and die while wearing privately purchased commercial body armor (they referred to something called "Dragonskin") that they might loose their $400,000 death benefit for their families.

This sounds pretty outrageous, all things considered. They also touted some statistic that said 80% of the troops who died from a gunshot wound to the torso would have survived had they been wearing "Dragonskin" or some other body armor. Then they went on about how the administration was "for the troops," except when they apparently aren't, and that they're for the free market, but what about this. Blah blah blah.

Any truth to all this? I'm going to check it out further. I listen to the "progressive radio" for my daily dose of bewilderment and frustration. It's fun, try it. I can't seem to manage more than about five or ten minutes at a time though.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Dag Nabbit!

Mr. Completely is getting a gun blogger rondezvous together in Reno for this comming November. Darn it, I won't be able to make it. And I just got a new rifle:

Yep, that's a Savage with the new accu trigger, which, I think, is made out of mithrel. And it's in, uh, how does Kim call it... oh yeah, the manly .300 win mag caliber. I haven't shot it yet, but I expect my shoulder to be sore when I do. Does the pic count as gun pr0n since I'm in my jammies?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Stickwick Blog Break

While Carnaby will still be posting stuff and making a nuisance of himself in the comments sections of other blogs, I need to take a break for a while. I've doubled my teaching load this semester, and added some church and community obligations to my schedule... aaaaannd, I hired a personal trainer to help me stay motivated with my New Year's resolution -- to exercise like a madwoman and get back into good shape. Just gonna to be too busy for a while.

See you in a few weeks/months/whatever. :-)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

BloodRayne: The Review

This is the vampire movie that instantly made IMDb's bottom 100 list, and, after seeing it, I would say deservedly so.

Some random thoughts...

Historically accurate.

Apparently, low-riding skin-tight leather and lycra clothing was popular with women in 18th century Romania. Also, for anyone who ever wondered, the mullet dates back to at least this time and place.

The dialogue is terrible. Someone got paid to write stuff like, "Kagan is building an army of thralls, and we're going to a carnival!?!"

All of the actors look vaguely embarrassed to be in this movie.

Kristanna Loken (of Terminator 3 fame) cannot act. Although she is okay to look at, she has absolutely no grace of motion, and is cursed with that terrible apathetic slouchy posture that is endemic with modern youth. (Compare to Kate Beckinsale, who also stars in crummy vampire flicks, but she moves with confidence and has that fabulous British ramrod-straight posture.)

Michael Madsen looks like he's acquired every bad habit known to mankind between Kill Bill and now. He's become a giant, flabby, leather pancake of a man.

Lamest love-scene involving humans ever put to screen. (Lamest love-scene period belongs to the puppets in Bride of Chucky.) My only thoughts while this was going on were, Why? and Please, stop. Even my husband was squirming.

What in the world is going on with Ben Kingsley? Last year he turned in a weird performance in A Sound of Thunder, and now this. It's hard to believe that the man who starred in Gandhi and House of Sand and Fog has been reduced to playing a big-schnozzed neck-biter in a B-grade vampire thriller.

Action sequences are pathetic. One is acutely aware of actors standing in place apathetically kicking or swinging a sword while the camera is whizzed around to make it appear that a lot more is happening.

Not since the Kill Bill volumes has so much fake blood been employed in the making of a movie, but to so little effect.

Meatloaf shows up in a pointless role about 2/3 of the way through. You find out during the credits that his real last name is Aday. (You know the saying, "A Meatloaf Aday keeps the doctor away." Or something.)

Bottom line: I think it's appropriate that the heroes of BloodRayne belong to the Brimstone Society, because this movie stinks. A connoisseur of bad movies will enjoy BloodRayne (as I did), but I would caution anyone else to beware of anything directed, produced, written, touched by, looked at, or sneezed on by Uwe Boll.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Canada's Wonderful Health Care System (again)

I just got news that my Canadian brother-in-law's girlfriend (they're both high-school seniors) was vomiting blood the other day and went in to see the doctor. She has a condition, which I forget what it's called, that leads to this sort of thing. Well, it seems that there could be more problems than what's usual, and she needs to have an endoscopy to check things out, i.e. make sure she doesn't have cancer or some other equally wonderful problem. They have put her on the waiting list for the diagnostic procedure, and she's slotted in for -- wait for it -- August. Wonderful! Go, Canada!

On a side note, it turns out that her family are Jehovah's Witnesses. Now you might think that this has something to do with them not allowing her to have treatment, but no. She decided that the JW program is full of bunk and so they've done the JW equivalent of excommunicating her. She has to pay rent until she graduates, then she gets kicked out. They cancelled their land phone line and got everyone in the family new cell phones, except her. After she leaves the house they will never initiate contact with her, though she could call them. Really nice.

The long and short of this are that my mother-in-law asked me to find out what it would cost to have the procedure done down here. I called up the UW hospital and they got me in contact with the digestive disease clinic. The procedure will cost $1500+ depending on whether or not she needs biopsies or whatever.

Stupid Canada.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

When the Reviews Are This Bad... almost have to see it. BloodRayne hasn't even been released yet, and it's already made IMDb's bottom 100 list. Heh.

Culture Wars

Mark Steyn has an excellent piece out on the culture war being waged in the world. The situation is complicated, but he very nearly gets it right. Steyn envisions a three-front war between Christianity (i.e. the culture of freedom), multi-culturalism (i.e. Humanists, i.e. the culture of equality), and Islamism (i.e. the culture of virtue).

Let me try to put the argument in a nutshell. While the Left (the political expression of the Humanist movement) is trying to destroy the Right (more-or-less the political wing of the Christian faith), in doing so it would be committing cultural suicide, for the simple reason that the Left does not sustain itself by reproduction. On average, secular types tend to reproduce at a rate that is too low for replenishment (cf. Canada's fertility problems); religious types, however, tend to reproduce at a rate that not only sustains, but grows, their population. But if Humanists manage to destroy Christianity, then without a constantly replenished population, who is going to produce all the wealth that is necessary to provide and sustain all those lovely utopian welfaristic institutions in the Western world? Who would even be remaining after a few decades? But here's the thing. The point at which this is all falling apart (and that point appears to be now), Islam steps in and takes over. If anyone doubts this, consider the surging Muslim population in de facto secular Europe, and the influence it's wielding.

Now, let's play a game where we take Steyn's points and reach some possible conclusions. Hypothetically speaking, let's say that Humanism wins and Christianity effectively dies out. What happens then?
  1. The end of the human race. Once Christianity is out of the way, there can be little doubt that Humanists will train their sights on Islam, which has, until now, functioned as nothing more than a useful weapon against the pro-freedom Christian culture. If Humanism wins, then Islam is wiped out and eventually nobody is left to reproduce at a rate sufficient to sustain the population. Result: The human race simply dies out. (Somebody alert these people.)

  2. Unless...

  3. A new kind of slavery emerges. If Humanism wants to continue, then it must reproduce in some fashion, and since having children of one's own is gauche, one must convert other people's children. But, with those go-forth-and-multiply religious types now a thing of the past, who is left to reproduce? Well, that Humanist blueprint, Plato's Republic, has successfully been brought to bear in one place in the world: can anyone conjure up thoughts of perpetual mating festivals with the state collectively raising the children without thinking of America's inner cities (and perhaps to a lesser extent the low-class populations of urban Europe)? It is very much to the advantage of the Left to keep inner cities in a perpetual state of dependence that results in masses of effectively parentless children. The role of the ignorant, unwashed inner-city masses would be simply to function as slaves: perpetual baby-makers with no hope of anything more. The problem with this, however, is two-fold. (1) With a significant portion of the population consisting of dependants, who produces? (2) There's nobody left on which to blame the inner city's problems and keep the population in a constant state of victimhood. Perhaps the enslaved population rises up against the Humanist elite in protest. Result: After a brief orgy of reproduction followed by revolt, the human race simply dies out.

    Alternatively, what if Islam is not crushed by Humansim, but steps in as the West implodes? This means...

  4. Islam covers the world. Christianity and Humanism have been mutually destroyed. Result: Islam takes over everywhere; anyone who refuses to convert is killed.

  5. Now, here is the only weakness in Steyn's argument. He leaves out the Chinese with their culture of obedience, and it's on its way to becoming a major player on the world scene. These people reproduce like the dickens, and I'm not 100% convinced that the culture of obedience is incompatible with the Islamic culture of virtue and submission. So possibly we end up with...

  6. Conflict/alliance between Islam and China. Result: Unknown (but it can't be good).
My conclusion? The only hope in the foreseeable future for freedom and continuation of the human race is Christianity. This by no means requires a person to be Christian, but the Christian faith must be recognized as the wellspring of freedom and prosperity. I've gone a hundred rounds with anti-Christian and/or atheist peers who believe there's another way, but if Steyn's right and I haven't made any errors in my analysis, then your only choices are:
  • Humanism and annihilation;

  • Islam (and/or Chinese) and submission;

  • Christianity and freedom.
My father, who is pretty observant, predicts that if/when the choices become this obvious, two-thirds of the people in this country will choose freedom. I sure hope he's right.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Flathead Screws

I really dislike flathead screws. They are really stupid and yet they are everywhere and are still made by the boatload. The only good thing about this is that it turns out that, while flathead screws are useless, flathead screwdrivers are quite common and handy. Handy, that is, for lots of other things besides working a God forsaken flathead screw.

Which is sorta like the Democrat party isn't. Unless you could maybe figure out how to use Nancy Pelosi's head to pry open an old paint can.

Firearm Sound Suppression

In case you've ever thought about it, and I certainly have, firearm sound suppression is neat. And it turns out that the suppressors are legal in 35 states, Washington being one of them (I was worried about that, since full auto weapons are illegal in Washington).

Anyhoo, that website linked above has lots of interesting info about sound suppression. Check out their FAQ. Sorry, Uncle, Glocks are not so good for suppressors. Berettas are pretty good. But the devices ain't cheap.

My greatest concern about self defense with a firearm is that there's a good chance I'd have to use the firearm indoors, and my ears would be toast from that. I already suffer from irritating tinnitus and I am paranoid about it getting worse. Of course, the government is not, and so I have to pay a lot of money not just for the silencer, but an additional $300 in fees and whatnot to get approval from the government. Yeargh! No silencers for me for a while. I guess I'll just strap on the ol' hamburger earmuffs* whenever my wife hears a bump in the night.

*No pictures available, so I'll just post the transcript:
Homer decides to seek help from Springfield's scientific community. At Professor Frink's laboratory, the professor loads Homer down with a stack of books.

Frink: And these should give you the grounding you'll need in thermodynamics, hypermathematics, and of course microcalifragilistics, moodavit.

Homer: Look, I just wanna know how to invent things. Tell me!

Frink: Eh, all you have to do is think of things that people need, but don't exist yet.

Homer: You mean like an electric blanket-mobile?

Frink: Uh, well, possibly ... or, you could take something that already exists, and find a new use for it, like ...

Homer: Hamburger earmuffs!

Frink: Eh, well, I suppose that would qualify ...

Homer: Thanks, sucker!

Frink: Wha, oop ... all right, just stay calm, Frinkie. These babies will be in the stores while he's still grappling with the pickle matrix! Gyvinblayvin!