Thursday, June 28, 2012

Death of the Republic, Death to Republicans

Figuratively speaking, of course.

Well, isn’t this nice.  Chief Justice John Roberts, Catholic, Bush-appointed “conservative”, sided with the liberals and said that the federal government can do pretty much as it damn well pleases.  Kennedy, Alito, Scalia, and Thomas recognize that the entire law is outside the bounds of federal jurisdiction and completely unconstitutional.  I am sorry I ever voted for anyone named Bush.  Recall that, instead of Alito, Bush wanted to appoint his White Counsel, Harriet Meiers, to the Court. 

The good part is that now I have no reason to vote for Romney or any other Republican ever again.  My one argument was the Supreme Court justices that might be appointed by a Democrat president.  But it was Bush’s appointee that stabbed us in the back and ran our Constitution through the shredder.  It makes no difference whatsoever now.  I am free to vote for whomever is on the Constitution or Libertarian Party ticket. 

Roberts did us one small favor.  By writing the opinion specifically calling the mandate a tax, he has handed Obama and the Democrat Congress one of the largest and most painful tax increases ever on the working class in this country.  The U.S. economy will suffer further degradation, and, if Romney has a brain in his head, he will use this to bludgeon those who supported this monstrous theft of life, liberty and property.  Viewed politically, this will likely lead to the defeat of Obama and to the Republicans taking control of the Senate.  However, there is no guarantee that such an outcome will be anything other than more of the same in terms of the expansion of government. 

I don’t care.  I am going to build a taller fence around my property.  I am aiming for near-self-sufficiency in the next couple of years.  I am going to invite my local veterinarian over to go fishing in my pond, and, if I break a bone, I’m going to call him to set it and give me some antibiotics.  Amoxicillin is amoxicillin. 

I am now forced to pay for things that run completely contrary to my beliefs and values.  The government sticks a gun to my head and says that I must pay for schools that indoctrinate rather than educate, that instill humanist values and trash Christianity and American history.  If I am forced against my will to work to support the indolent, the promiscuous, and the irresponsible, how exactly do I differ from a slave? 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

News of the Day 6-20-2012

I think that the Fed went with a continuation of Twist because it is easier to juggle and jive BLS unemployment numbers than it is to convince people commuting to work every day that gasoline is really not $5.00 a gallon.  Bernanke is going to leave the dollar more or less where it is, keep crude down, and give Obama his best chance to retain power.  At least that is the way it looks now.  His remarks at the press conference leave room for the market to speculate that QE might still come to its rescue.  Most of the market rises lately have been on low volume where a few buyers with freshly printed cash could bump up the indexes.  Certainly nobody in power wants to see the Dow at 10,000 — let alone 6,000.

Meanwhile we have the spectacle of Congress debating a contempt vote on the Attorney General along with the last-minute invocation of executive privilege by the White House.  As the "authorities" often tell us, the Great Unwashed, if you are doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide. 

At the very least, Holder lied under oath when he said the upper levels of the Justice Department knew nothing of Gunwalker.  In all likelihood, Obama and Holder initiated the process and the documents in question make that clear.  This is far worse than Watergate or Iran-Contra, which were principally cover-ups.  In neither case did Administration actions result in the deaths of Americans. 

Not only was Agent Terry killed by ATF-provided firearms, but hundreds of innocent Mexican citizens have been killed with weapons given to the drug gangs with full knowledge, and probably on the orders of, the U.S. Attorney General.  Eric Holder deserves to be in jail.  All this crap about separation of powers comes hours after the Administration declared that it could usurp the authority of the Legislative Branch with regard to immigration laws.  These clowns have no respect for the Constitution, no respect for the Republic, no loyalty, no patriotism, no moral compass, no concern except for the accumulation and maintenance of power.

There are no consequences for spitting in the faces of the honest, hard-working, productive, taxpaying citizens of this country.  There are no consequences for shredding the Constitution.  It's not about which party is involved.  Republicans, including George Bush, have ignored the limitations placed on the federal government by the Founders.  Democrats have made a mockery of the very term "Republic", demagoguing the population, shackling and binding us at every turn.  Both parties are guilty of purloining our freedoms with more invasive, out-of-control government, more spending, and more debt. 

This last move, however, is a whole new level of in-your-face politics and tyranny.  The whole purpose of "Fast and Furious" was to be able to claim that guns from America were being used in Mexico as a pretext for more restrictions on firearms — a backdoor attack on the Second Amendment, a ploy to gin up support for a new assault weapons ban or some even more egregious infringement.  Getting people killed only made it better.  There was nothing botched about the program until it was exposed, at which point the denials began. 

We cannot depend on Congress to fix this problem — though by all means, contact your Senators and Representatives and demand they hold Holder and the Justice Department accountable for this fiasco.  The NRA and other pro-gun organizations are working to expose the truth about this operation.  Join up and support their efforts.  Educate yourself on the issue and talk to your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members about what happened.  Call your local news outlets and demand they cover the story in a full and fair way.     

Speaking of a Lack of Stopping Power

The July 2012 edition of the NRA's American Rifleman includes a story (pp. 38-41) on Navy Seal Sniper Chris Kyle, who now holds the U.S. sniper record for confirmed kills at 160.  Chief Kyle's work was all done in Iraq.  He was involved in the battles for Fallujah, Ramadi, and Sadr City, among others.  During his last tour, Kyle used a .338 Lapua Magnum, but his favorite rifle prior to that was a custom Remington 700 in .300 Winchester Magnum.  For close range fights, he also carried the Navy's version of the Stoner SR-25 semi-auto rifle in .308 (7.62x51, to use the NATO designation) as well as the typical short-barreled M4 in 5.56. 

Interestingly, the Rifleman also features a story on the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the "little black rifle" — the M16, and, very fairly, includes some of the horror stories associated with its use in Vietnam. 

Regarding Kyle's use of the 5.56 in the M4 variation during the battle for Fallujah, the article (p. 40) says: 

While supporting the battle, Kyle reported, he averaged two or three enemy kills per day, for a total of 40.  Several times he shot insurgents at close range with 5.56 rounds and they did not halt, causing him to question the cartridge's effectiveness.  That ineffectiveness may have been caused by drugs.  "In Fallujah we learned the bad guys were on dope," he said.  "The Americans gathering [enemy] bodies for burial found track [needle] marks on the arms of enemy dead."  U.S. forces also found burnt spoons from cooking heroin, syringes, and black tar heroin, he said.

I will give you the fact that the attackers were hopped up on drugs, but this is an expert and experienced marksman shooting at close range.  He had a one-shot, confirmed kill at 2100 yards — a mile and a half, with his sniper rifle (not sure, but I suspect it was the .338).  I would guess that his rounds were going into the vitals of the those attackers.  Heroin or no heroin, he would have been better off with something that made a bigger hole and punched harder.  

Once again, the .223 is an excellent hunting round with flat trajectory, accuracy, and potency within its limits.  It is a  reliable 250-yard varmint round, and I have no qualms using it on deer within 150 yards.   It's not a bad zombie gun since you have to use head shots anyway.  For defending the homestead, I think it can serve well enough, provided non-varmint, expanding ammunition is used.  If your home defense rifle is an AR-type or Mini-14 or similar semi-auto in 5.56, practice double-tapping everything, every time.  The experts can drone on all they like about the advances in technology.  Most of the time, life-and-death confrontations take place at distances measured in feet, in a few seconds time, with the total number of rounds fired by all parties averaging about five.  Magazine capacity, range, and mechanical accuracy are all secondary to reliability and skill in the preponderance of these situations. 

I still like my .30-30 and my shotgun.      

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I said that I was going to write something about snub-nose handguns, and I meant to until something shiny when by and I forgot. 

I have always been a big fan of light, short-barreled revolvers like the S&W Chiefs' Special or the classic Colt Detective Special in .38 caliber.  These are reliable firearms and effective so long as one is aware of their limitations.  I am speaking strictly of the .38 Special non-plus-P weapons.  A .357 magnum snub-nose is an entirely different animal with its own issues — particularly recoil and muzzle blast.  Standard .38 Special revolvers are quite mild-mannered by comparison. 

All snub-nose handguns are best used at short range, unless one as accomplished as the mighty Elmer Keith.  He offered the suggestion that a 4-inch barrel was a suitable compromise for a field weapon, but Mr. Keith had astonishing abilities that placed him well outside the realm of mere mortal handgunners.  For most of us a longer barrel is preferable for longer range accuracy as well as the benefit of increased muzzle velocity.  A shorter barrel is better for carrying, especially concealed, but we give up something with every inch trimmed from the length. 

I have rarely used a snub-nose revolver for anything other than target practice, which is probably the case with most of us.  I have hunted with a revolver on several occasions and often used them for varmints and pests around the house, but those firearms all have barrels ranging in length from four to seven-and-a-half inches.  There's no reason to use a snubby when you have full-size weapons easily available.  My assessment of snubby effectiveness is based largely on comparisons of penetration as tested in various material from pine 2x4s to liquid-filled containers.  Frankly, even when compared to a .22LR, a standard .38 round from barrel of two inches or less is hardly impressive. 

Will a round from a .38 Special snub-nose stop an attack?  It will.  Is it the best fight-stopper?  No, it is not.  There is a very good chance that someone shot with a single round from such a weapon would be able to persist in an attack if they chose to do so.  

I'll tell you what I can about a little incident I had recently.  I cannot give details because I don't want people throwing a fit and possibly accusing me of doing something illegal, though I have not broke any law as far as I know.  There is a certain creature that I absolutely detest for a number of reasons.  It is not a dangerous creature, but it is thoroughly annoying.  I have killed a large number of them over the years, usually at a considerable distant with a varmint rifle in .223 or .22 magnum.  I've killed some with a .22LR rifle and at least one that I can recall with my Single-Six in .22 WMR.  These creatures vary considerably in size, some being only a few pounds while others are quite large and heavy.  The other day I happened onto one of the large, heavy ones, and the only firearm I had available was my good old Rossi 68.  I have been carrying it quite a bit lately since getting some Hornady Critical Defense ammunition for it. 

Brief digression — the Hornady ammunition is excellent.  I really like it and recommend it.  The issue here is not ammunition.  While Hornady has optimized the CD ammo for short barrels, there is only so much velocity that can be generated  and, hence, only so much penetration that is possible from one of these firearms. 

I shot the creature twice.  It is possible — I was not in a position or situation that would allow an extensive assessment of the effects — that I missed the first shot, but the second one was a pretty good hit.  The range was short.  The bullet seemed to expand.  The problem was that it did not penetrate very well.  While the shot proved fatal, I was not, shall we say, pleased with the time it took.  My Single-Six, with its six-and-a-half inch barrel would have terminated the creature much more quickly and humanely.  I also would have needed only one shot. 

I am not saying that  a snub-nose .38 Special revolver should not be carried for self-defense.  I'm suggesting that you test the penetration of your rounds and keep in mind that not all rounds in a self-defense situation will be fired under ideal conditions.  Expansion is good, but a round has to get to the vitals of an attacker in order to be effective.  Shot placement can compensate for lack of expansion, but perfect shot placement may not always be possible. 

We have yet another good reason to carry a big knife.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Follow the Bouncing Ball

Over the weekend, roughly 30% of Greek voters went for the New Democracy party of Antonius Samaras, 26% supported Alexis Tsipras of Syriza, and 12.5% gave their votes to the PASOK Socialist Party.  Both New Democracy and PASOK are pro-bailout.  Syriza is anti-bailout.  Presumably the conservatives of New Democracy and the Socialists can found a coalition government with their combined totals of 164 seats in the 300-member parliament. 

This would mean that Greece would accept the austerity measures called for by the EU as a condition of bailing out the Greek banks, and, by extension, Greek government bonds.  So, for the moment, Greece can continue to run deficits at barely acceptable rates -- even though they are unlikely to ever retire the bonds.  Maybe. 

Spanish bond rates moved into the intolerable range this morning at over 7%.  Italy is facing pressure.  The Greek economy has collapsed, and a single bailout is not going to revive it.  In fact, if the Greeks accept all the conditions and get their money, it merely sets them up to require another bailout in a few months and another and another after that, each accompanied by spiraling cuts in government expenditures as the interest payments on debt eat an ever-increasing chunk of declining revenues. 

This is aside from the fact that Samaras is saying that he wants to renegotiate terms in light of the sweeter deal Spain got last week in its bailout.  As investors and traders have an opportunity to look at the situation in better light, I expect the euro to resume its slide along with equity markets. 

Something that could alter the dynamics would be the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare.  I could see a U.S. market spike if the whole package is tossed -- maybe even just the individual mandate.  A second factor would be an announcement of more QE, either outright or in some more esoteric form, from the Fed. 

I'm tired of this.  I'm going to talk about snubbies later today if I get a break.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Is a Greek Exit Stage Left Tragic?

The U.S. faces possible shockwaves if Greece leaves the euro, at least according to AP writer Matthew Craft.

As usual, a lot of the copy is simply idle speculation to up the word count.  The mention of CDS, credit default swaps, is interesting.  Private holders of Greek bonds have already taken haircuts -- reductions in the face-value of Greek bonds, whereas banks and central banks holding such bonds did not.  In essence, Greek already defaulted on a portion of its debt -- which could have triggered the cascade of CDS claims, except they did not call the action a default. 

To summarize, Greece is going to leave the euro and start printing drachmas which will immediately devalue.  The ECB is going to come in, along with the IMF, probably with some Federal Reserve backing, and stick its finger in the dike.  Everybody will be saying how the crisis was averted and it was really no big deal, for about a week.  But all the governments that pitched in money will now be deeper in debt.  The "eurobond" solution is really a "krautbond" solution, and, as Merkel points out, the Germans are getting restless carrying the rest of Continent on their backs.  I don't blame them.  The Germans should shrug off their collective guilt for WWII and go Galt on the slackers. 

When Greece does bail out, there will be no avoiding the CDS language.  There will be no hiding the exposure of some banks and nations, though creative accounting can work wonders.  The immediate effect of a loss like this is recessionary and deflationary for everybody except Greece where there will be a total economic collapse with skyrocketing inflation similar to Argentina in 2001.  Both the Fed and the ECB will crank up the printing presses to fill the void, but I think it will avail them little this time. 

When Greece goes, there are still some jokers in the deck.  Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Ireland remain significant drains on the EU economy.  Ireland is already a little miffed that they got stuck with a worse deal than Spain appears to be getting.  If, as is speculated, the bond rates on Spain and Italy rise dramatically -- and they are already too high for comfort -- then those countries could have no choice except to follow Greece in exiting.  At that point, I think Germany goes along with the eurobonds, even though it probably means that Merkel and her party are voted out of power. 

You know your good-for-nothing brother-in-law who can't hold a job?  He's the one who somehow manages to always have money for Mad-Dog and Marlboros but who is always hitting you up for a loan to cover groceries for the kids for "until payday".  Now he comes along and says he needs a car for his "new job".  Of course, the bank won't loan him the money because his credit score is in double-digits.  But you have a score of 890, and the bank would love to lend you money, so the BIL gets you to co-sign his car note.  You know how this is going to end, but he is married to your sister, so you sign.  In three months, you find that he's gotten himself fired and is spending the day watching the game show channel while you had to pick up some part-time work because you are paying for his (trashed) car as well as your own debts, just as you expected. 

That is more or less what eurobonds mean to the Germans, and the solution will be just about as enduring as your BIL's new gig. 

Another way to look at it is to imagine a poker game where some of the players are allowed to hand off cards to other players while the rest of us are stuck playing what we have been dealt.  This has gone on for way too long, and the honest, hard-working people have already lost way too much.  Some are finally starting to think they might as well pull out of a rigged game.  As the Gambler says, "You got to know when to fold 'em." 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Graphic Representation of the European Crisis

 The Bluebird of Happiness Meets the Windmill of Reality

In fairness, it's not a bad representation of the U.S. either.  Happy talk is nice, but until a majority of people are willing to face the truth that government can't give anyone anything it does not take from someone else, our bluebirds will continue to be shredded by the relentless blades of arithmetic. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Spain As Microcosm

The Spanish prime minister defends his bank bailout.  The problem is that Spanish banks made bad real estate loans.  I suddenly have this weird sense of deja vu.  So why don't they just let the banks suffer the consequences of their stupidity?  Ahhh ...

There has been growing concern that as the country finds fewer and fewer international buyers for its bonds, an increasingly large amount of Spanish government debt is being bought by its banks. As Spain's banks continue to struggle, weighed down by their toxic property loans and assets, the government is finding it harder to sell its bonds.

One hope among eurozone politicians is that the (EURO)100 billion loan facility will help shore up Spanish banks' balance sheets, giving them back the freedom to loan out money to businesses and individuals - and also buy more government debt. (Emphasis added by me)

Because, you know, this worked so well the first time, and the answer to debt is more debt.  Hair of the dog.  This is not the case in Spain only.  This is also why I call the current situations in most western nations -- including the U.S., fascist economies.

The truth sometimes comes out.  Fiat currency, whether dollars, euros, yen, renminbi, or loonies is backed by the ability of the government to pay back its debts.  A dollar -- that is, a Federal Reserve Note, is a debt instrument when it is issued.  Note.  Get it?  When you have a central bank acting in collusion with the central government or governments, the system is not only subject to manipulation, it is manipulated.  If the banks get into trouble, the government has to do whatever it can to bail them out because they are financing the government's appetite for programs in its quest to have more and more subjects dependent upon it, thereby increasing its power.

I re-read that paragraph, and it sounds like I believe that people in government and finance are doing this with a particular end in view -- saying that they are colluding kind of implies a conspiracy, like one-world government or something.  For the most part, I don't think that is the case.  The financial sector is trying to make money.  The politicians are trying to get re-elected.  The bureaucrats are trying to grow their bureaus and keep the funding coming.  Public-sector unions are trying to enhance pay and benefits for their members.  It just happens that those interests intersect in a way that appears to be optimized in the centralization of power and control of the economy.   

This has happened in Europe, and the consequences of such a system are becoming painfully obvious.  It is happening in the U.S., and we are about to pass the point of no return.  The answer to this situation is not additional government regulation of the financial sector.  It should be obvious from the quote above that such regulation is merely a pretext for the furthering of quid pro quo "arrangements" between government and the banks.

Governments around the world looked the other way when they did not -- as here in the U.S. -- actively encourage banks to make loans that were unlikely to be repaid.  The banks could reap the benefit of higher interest rates on sub-prime borrowers while governments could have enhanced tax revenues from the housing bubble plus lower rates on bonds.  Unemployment was down.  Consumers were spending lavishly with money borrowed on second mortgages, sporting zero-down real estate loans on properties that were skyrocketing in value.   

The real remedy is quite unpleasant.  Everyone -- banks, governments, businesses, and individuals must all accept the consequences of bad choices.  Banks should be allowed to go bankrupt.  No business of any kind is too big to fail.  General Motors is not a trophy of government-private cooperation but a travesty that used taxpayer dollars to continue to bankroll the ridiculous benefit and pension packages of union members.  If GM had gone bankrupt and been allowed to reorganize in a healthy way it would have emerged stronger and more viable, but the unions would have lost their priority in the creditor queue.  Politicians, especially Democrat politicians, who owe their positions to union money, refused to allow the market to take its course.  We will pay for this criminal behavior for a long time.  That is just one example. 

Whether we go into a reset voluntarily or whether we are forced into one determines if we will emerge from the ashes like Iceland or Estonia or stumble along in the garbage heap like Argentina.  If we are looking for a political solution, in America, it is in a libertarian approach to governance and in decentralizing power.  

Don't Take Your Knife to Town, Son

At least don't take 'em to New York City:  A Bible-college student was charged with violating knife laws during a visit to NYC.

There is not a full description of the knife that Clayton Baltzer was carrying and which caused him so much trouble.  (As an aside, I am shocked to learn that one can major in "Camping Ministry".  Whatever.)  Since we are not told the dimensions or details of the knife, other than Baltzer usually uses both hands to open it, we can assume that NYC uses the same standards in their knife bans as in their soda cup bans:  Anything bigger than a Bloomberg is illegal.   

I think knife laws are in some ways worse than gun laws.  I have carried a pocketknife as long as I have had pockets.  I have a visible scar on the second joint of my left index finger where I lopped off a significant piece of hide with my very first pocketknife sometime before I started first grade.  I did not die -- I don't think I even cried, but I did learn to be careful with edged tools.  And that is what a knife is -- a tool.  It can function as a weapon, as my late father would attest, a knife having saved him from a beating by multiple opponents on at least one occasion.  I knew all the participants in that one.  Other incidents were less clear, but the demand of an adversary prior to a fistfight that Dad let someone else hold his knife implied that he might be inclined to use a blade.  He ended up pounding the other boy's head with a rock instead, when the fight went to the ground.  Caveman Kung Fu.

I think swords, daggers and axes should be part of formal dress, especially for weddings and funerals.  In fact, when I die, I want to be painted bright blue and buried in my kangaroo-hide boots with a sawed-off shotgun, a double-bit ax, and a khukuri.  I'm guessing the survivors won't go for that, but it won't hurt to ask.

Having talked to my state representative a couple of times, I can say that he is a fairly reasonable person.  I'm going to see if I can encourage him to sponsor a bill to eliminate all state restrictions on carrying edged tools/weapons.  There is no sense in it, and a knife can be an "arm" -- and thus constitutionally protected -- as much as a musket.   

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

You Don't Need the Government to Tell You What to Eat

This post is specifically for readers who might want to consider losing weight and being healthier.  Those who do not have a weight problem or are satisfied with their health can move on to something else. 

Some time ago I noticed that my pants were getting tight around the waist.  I have never been skinny.  I have relatively short legs versus a relatively long and wide upper torso, no neck to speak of, and a fat head.  Basically I am built for lifting, pushing, and carrying heavy stuff.  I never matched the BMI thing even if they had it around when I was younger, but I could legitimately call a lot of my weight “muscle” -- twenty years ago.  Then I started telling myself that people just gain weight as they get older.  I could always find an excuse.  One day I was looking at old pictures, and there was one of my father in profile when he was older than I am now.  He was wearing a pair of bib overalls.  Now bibs are comfortable, but there is no concealing or camouflaging a gut in them.  Dad, who was built just like me except one size smaller, had no gut.  In fact, he looked as fit and strong as a man half his age, and I knew that was the case. 

As a result, I stepped on a bathroom scale and decided I needed to lose about fifty pounds.  Instead of buying the latest and greatest fad diet book, I turned to John Walker, the founder of Autodesk, and his Hacker’s Diet.   Walker talks about his own issues with weight and how he went from being overweight his whole life to being normal weight.  Anyone who is interested in being healthier – and every prudent person should be – should go to the site and read what Walker has to say. 

But I will summarize.  There is no gimmick.  Losing weight is very simple in that one must eat less than one expends.  The key is finding out how many calories are in a given quantity of food and PAYING ATTENTION to what one is eating.  That’s it.  I lost fifty pounds in about three months.  And, yes, I was hungry a lot of the time, especially early on.  It was painful but bearable.  I found out, contrary to what my mother seemed to think, that being hungry is not a fatal condition.

I took a little notebook I could carry around with me and recorded my caloric intake every time I ate.  Anything.  At all.  At the end of the day, I would total my calories.  It took a while to pick up the habit, but once I had it, it was pretty easy.  I still do it, for reasons Walker’s book explains, but now I do it to maintain.  Walker includes a spreadsheet with calorie counts for common foods.  Other sites offer similar information – this one is helpful. 

My point is anybody can do this.  I joke about writing my own book called The Three Day Diet Plan in which I will explain that to lose weight a person can eat the same foods and the same amounts as always – except that you have to eat that amount over three days instead of one.  I’m sure it will be a bestseller, and I can get on that doctor show my wife watches in the afternoon. 

It is not prudent to pack around more weight than you need.  Exercise is good, both endurance and resistance work, but that alone is not enough unless you have the time to do it, say, four hours a day.  Most of us sit on our asses eight or ten hours a day trying to make a living.  I get some extra work around the homestead here – especially during the summer, but, otherwise, I don’t have time to “work it all off”.  Besides, self-denial is good for character. 

It is possible to lose weight eating almost anything.  I had half a cup of ice cream maybe once a week.  Mostly, of course, I tried to stick with healthier foods.  Watermelon works pretty well as it is low calorie and nutrient-rich as well as being satisfying.  For me, the same is true of naval oranges.  I can eat one orange – 70 to 120 calories depending on the size – and have my appetite appeased for a couple of hours.  Vegetables like cauliflower and cabbage are better than potatoes and bread, but what matters is how much.  I am pretty sure it would be possible to lose weight eating at McDonald’s or Taco Bell – not to say that would be particularly healthy or wise, just possible.  In other words, don’t let the government food pyramid or all the propaganda about “food deserts” and “healthy eating” fool you.  Eat good food when possible.   Eat food you like, just not as much.  You need fat.  You need protein.  You need carbohydrates.  You need vitamins and other nutrients.  I reduced my calorie intake to between 1200 and 1700 per day.  Stick to that and the weight will come off.   I lost the first twenty pounds very easily.  The next twenty took longer, and the last ten were very slow to come off. 

Again, there is no trick to this.  It is simple but not easy.  It requires self-discipline – not willpower, self-discipline.  Make up your mind before you start.  You will be hungry, and it will be hard, especially the first week or two.  I highly recommend reading Walker’s book and downloading it along with his spreadsheets and guides.  The book goes into this in much more depth than I have done here. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Fishing for Silver Marlins

My newest acquisition is a Marlin Model 982VS in .22WMR.  Marlin no longer makes the 982, having replaced this and other rimfire models with XT series.  I picked this one up from the local shop.  Around here, going into a gun shop and asking if they have a .22 magnum will elicit a limited variety of responses ranging from, “Nary a one” to “I think I got one over here”.  The latter response usually results in the presentation of a battered and abused specimen or an overpriced Henry. 

I have said that the shotgun is the hillbilly weapon of choice.  We like the versatility, and most of us grew up shooting shotguns.  For “brush hunters”, the quickness of the shotgun is a benefit, and the limited range is not much of a handicap.  The shotgun is a good choice for home defense.  I read a lot these days about semi-auto tactical carbines being the better weapon with all the advancements in technology.  There may be some truth to this, but confidence and familiarity trump technology as far as I am concerned.  I like shotguns because I know their capabilities, and I shoot them well. 

While we like our scatterguns, a lot of us also like the .22 WMR in a rifle for varmints, pests, and general utility.  Of course, as my wife pointed out, I already have a .22 magnum or two.  However, I had been looking for one in stainless steel given that my ancient Mossberg 640K is kind of an heirloom and has sentimental value. 

I picked the Marlin up Saturday and immediate took a break from yard work to see if it wants to shoot.  Though used, the rifle has not been excessively abused.  The barrel looked good aside from a few nicks and scratches on the heavy bull barrel.  The muzzle is deeply recessed and looked undamaged and clean aside from an accumulation of powder residue which was easily wiped away.  Before shooting, I made several passes through the bore with a patch soaked in Hoppe’s #9 followed by some dry patches until they came out clean.  It really wasn’t bad. 

My main concern was with the scope that came on the Marlin – a very cheap Tasco “Pronghorn” 3-9x variable model.  The quick view at the gunshop was not promising, but I carefully cleaned the lens and adjusted the focus until a sharper image emerged.  I decided to try the 100 yard range on the off chance that the previous owner had not banged the scope around too much.  To my gratified amazement, the first round hit almost on, though slightly to the left – a result, I think of the cross wind that was blowing.  Firing from my makeshift bench – the arm of a lawn chair – I fired three groups of three shots with each going into an inch or less using Federal 40-grain FMJ standard .22 mag ammo.  That was all I had time for Saturday, but I was quite pleased with my purchase.

Sunday afternoon in a very heavy crosswind, I tried out Remington PSP 40-grain and CCI Maxi-Mag 40-grain hollow-points.  I had to move back from the hundred yard range to get anything except a pattern in the gusts, but at fifty yards, both the Remington and CCI grouped nicely given that I was shooting from a sitting position rather than off a rest. 

Without a scope, the Marlin weighs in at an even seven pounds – not heavy by any means but substantial.  It has nickel-plated swivel studs, and a sling will soon be attached.  The weight comes from the small diameter bore in a large, 22” bull barrel as well as the fiberglass-reinforced synthetic stock.  Everything about this rifle is solid, and it shows up in the consistent accuracy.  Several of my acquaintance own or have owned other models of Marlin .22 magnums, and all have been good shooters. 

The weather resistance of a fully stainless steel rifle with a synthetic stock was what got me started on this little quest.  The handgun I carry most is stainless because it needs to stand up to sweat as well as wet weather and accidents with water and chemicals.  It is nice to have another firearm that I really don’t have to worry about in terms of moisture, humidity, heat and cold.  Coyotes will not be safe in snowstorms any longer. 

The trigger on the 982 is not anything special, but it is decent.  Though slightly on the heavy side, it breaks cleanly.  I am weird in that I actually prefer a trigger that has a little creep to it.  While the Marlin does not have that, it will not be difficult to get used it.  The new Marlins have adjustable triggers, and the triggers on the new Savage .22LR and .22WMR rifles are very good.  That might be a consideration for getting one of the others, but I don’t mind the trigger that much, and I like everything else.

Well, everything except the scope.  The Pronghorn is going to have to go.  I will see what I can find, but most likely I will go with a larger bell for more light, as well as a clearer view.  I will probably have to pick up some new taller mounts to go with it.  Finding a scope and rings in silver matte would be ideal, but that may not be possible.  Until I run across what I want, the cheap Tasco will suffice.  I need to do some more testing with different ammunition.  I especially want to see if the rifle takes to Winchester Supreme JHPs – my favorite dispatcher of coyotes and other varmints.

Almost any time you see a discussion of the .22 WMR, someone will interject, “I don’t see the utility of a .22 magnum.  The .22LR is cheaper to shoot, and the .223 is far more powerful.”  While both those assertions are true, they kind of miss the point.  At the shop where I bought the Marlin, the clerk noted that they could not keep .22 magnum rifles in stock.  Around here, the .22WMR will cleanly kill any game or varmint.  They are not legal for deer because they are not centerfire, but a well-placed .22 mag round will certainly take deer cleanly and humanely.  The little rimfire magnum is widely used by poachers, but beyond that, it is a “woodsman’s rifle”.  It is a survival and foraging round as well as a quiet and efficient varmint round.  With full-metal jacket rounds, it can be used on small game, though I would recommend head shots only even with the FMJs. 

If one looks strictly at the numbers, there really is no reason for the .22WMR to exist – just as the naysayers assert.  But shooting is more than numbers.  Effectiveness is more than calculated energy.  The .22 magnum works.  It is that simple.  You can pack fifty or a hundred rounds of .22WMR in your back pocket and not be weighed down while knowing that you are not going to encounter anything you can’t take out if necessary.  Though the .22 magnum has only about half the effective range of a .223, it is also significantly less noisy (from a rifle).  I generally do not need to worry about killing anything at ranges beyond 150 yards.  While that is certainly not the case in some parts of the country, it is true in my part of the country.  To put it more personally and specifically, this .22 magnum rifle works for me.         

Friday, June 8, 2012

New and Used

I think I will have a gear review coming next week.  It kind of depends on developments since this is a piece of used equipment.  I usually prefer to buy new, but sometimes older tools are not only a better deal but better quality.  I am not much of a mechanic thus used cars scare me while I usually feel confident about axes, hammers, and anvils.  Used firearms fall closer to the middle of the continuum.

I have bought a couple of used Rugers that I still have, my 10/22 and my Super Blackhawk.  I didn’t worry about the 10/22.  Not only is this an extremely rugged firearm, but it is easy to replace any malfunctioning part.  In the case of the Super Blackhawk, it was simply a matter of looking down the barrel and checking the cylinder for tightness and alignment.  Again, these single-actions are so overbuilt that wear and tear is usually not an issue, plus aftermarket parts, both factory replacement and upgrades, abound for Ruger single-actions, too.  The same is true for most common firearms – 1911s, Remington 700s and 870s, Mossberg 500s, Glocks, etc. – right now.  That may not be the case in the future.  It would be a very good idea to have replacement parts on hand for your primary defensive and/or foraging weapons.  Now would be the ideal time to acquire pins, springs, magazines, and other parts that might break or be lost.  If the system breaks down, replacement parts may be an issue. 

In considering a used firearm, it is wise to go to some place like Midway and check through the list of available parts.  This will give you an idea of how common the weapon is, as well as the potential cost of fixing or maintaining it. 

I have bought firearms from private individuals.  In some cases, I did not know the people before I contacted them about the firearm.  Be cautious if following this path.  I have mentioned this before, but if you are uneasy about a meeting with someone, back off.  Even the best deal is not worth winding up rolled or worse.  Private sales are nice because there are no records, but on a couple of occasions I have wondered if I might be buying a stolen weapon.  It is best to know the people you deal with if at all possible.  We have a small gun and pawn shop here locally that I frequent for ammunition on a pretty regular basis.  The guys aren’t usually too busy and don’t mind if folks come in, hang out and chat a little.  Once you get to know people, you'll be able to tell if they are willing to give you a reasonable deal.  Sometimes these shops get in interesting pieces.  Also, usually for a nominal fee, you can order lower priced new firearms from places like Cheaper Than Dirt via the local dealer's FFL and NICS.

 Get outside and have a good weekend.