Monday, September 30, 2013

Pack of Motorcyclists Chase Ranger Rover

This is an interesting story from the NY Daily News.  When I heard "bikers", this is not what I pictured

Photo credit:  NY Daily News

It is a herd of little gangsters in full-face helmets on sport bikes.  I don't know that the cager did not do something to provoke the riders, but drivers of cars and trucks do that all the time.  If you are going to ride, you have to recognize and accept the risks. 

There is nothing wrong with riding in a group if done with etiquette and a touch of good sense. As a motorcycle rider and the driver of a relatively tall F-150, it is sometimes difficult to keep track of smaller vehicles, especially ones just off the passenger-side rear tires.  If they are able to accelerate and change positions as quickly as a sport bike, they can be in the danger zone before the driver knows it. 

Personally, I enjoy seeing even swarms of sport bikes.  Most of these guys are not going to harm anyone with their foolishness except themselves, and it is a generally innocuous exercise of testosterone-induced bravado.  I used to do stuff like that on dirt bikes, and the crashes were part of the fun.  Bragging rights come along with the bruises and scars.  It is sad that sometimes these mistakes prove permanently damaging or even fatal, but danger is spice. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

When Better Beats Perfect

When we say that the greatest enemy of the best is second-best or some parallel proverb, we usually mean that as a negative.  There is a difference, however, between what can be done and what can't be done.  Over at, Gary Galles says Liberty Delivers a Better World While Utopians Promise a Perfect One.  The subject is Leonard E. Read who established, along with libertarian thinkers like Hazlitt, the Foundation for Economic Education in 1946. 

Whether a person is engineering software or bridges, one of the first things to be discovered are the limitations and the resources.  What do we have to work with in terms of material, time, manpower and budgets?  Every project will have its boundaries and restrictions.  The only ones that do not are the various disastrous government boondoggles with cost overruns, corruption, payoffs and pork.  In the real world, what the customer wants must be reconciled with what can actually be done.

The same thing is true in economics, in education, and in services.  We do not have a perfect world; we are not perfect people.  A system designed for perfect people is going to fail. Galles writes that Read understood the fallacy of a utopian system for non-utopian souls: 

Read saw that liberty’s defenders must face the fact that markets are amoral servants which enable people to do whatever they want better. They cannot be relied upon with certainty to only do good and inspirational things. But whenever they enable doing ill, they only reflect the desires individuals have. If we reformed ourselves, markets could do no harm. In contrast, coercively “reforming” ourselves by law does not eliminate the cause of such harm and so does little to actually stop it. Moreover, the restrictions on markets adopted in the process throw out the amoral servant that allows us to accomplish greater good than achievable via any other known means.
(h/t The Circle Bastiat)

Sadly, today, we live in a society that has lost the understanding of a true free-market economy.  Republicans embrace corporatism openly, the Democrat Party does so in the guise of corrupted government regulatory capacity favoring those who diligently pay their protection money. 

In the end, that which is whispered in the corner will be shouted from the rooftops.  Our character will be revealed.  As I often tell the grandkids, the only person you can change is yourself.  It's a full-time occupation if you do it right.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bear and Sons Neck Knife Mods

Recently I reviewed my impulse-purchased Bear Ops Constant Neck Knife.  Summary:  nice knife for the money, bad sheath.  The knife would not stay in the sheath, and I did not feel completely comfortable with my ability to hang on to the short, slender grip. 

I have changed some things, and I am much happier.

First, I got rid of the ball or johnny chain and replaced it with an appropriate length of paracord.

There is a tactical reason for using the johnny chain, and it is the same reason cops and guards wear clip-on ties.  I look forward to the day some fool with a regular necktie wants to fight me.  It's like a choke collar on a dog. I normally, though, wear a neck knife under my shirt which makes it less readily available for use as a garrot.  Also, there is a sharp blade at the end of the rope, as opposed to, say, a tie-tack.  Still, there is some risk involved.  Everyone should decide for himself or herself.  I just don't care for the chains.   

I added a bit of a lanyard to the knife's hilt.  This helps a great deal as far as control and retention.  In a hammer grip, the lanyard goes between my ring and little fingers, reversed between the index and middle fingers.  

As noted, my main complaint was that the knife could not be trusted to stay in the sheath when it was upside down.  This is a serious flaw for a neck knife that is worn, you know, upside down.  After thinking about it for a while and looking around at what I had on hand to remedy this problem, I settled on a solution.   I cut two strips from a piece of bicycle inner tube, about 3/16" by 3/4".  I glued these into the part of the sheath where the spine of the knife rests.  Putting a piece of paper towel over the knife, I inserted it into the sheath and left it to set over night. 

The next day I tested my fix rigorously, and the knife stayed solidly in place yet can be easily drawn.  The rubber strips exert enough pressure to keep the guard engaged behind the retention groove, plus they add some friction to the slick Kydex. 

My final modification was to add a means for carrying the knife on a belt, as the picture below illustrates.  Because it is so slender, the rig rides nicely under any of my belts, while the stiff Kydex allows for swift, snag-free removal and and replacement of the blade.  It would be simple enough to enable horizontal carry with a couple of longer pieces of cordage going around the sheath.  
It's a handy knife with a good edge, and I have no more issues with the sheath -- except that Bear and Sons should have thought of it in the first place. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sir Francis Galton -- The Art of Travel

Galton was quite an explorer.  Here he talks a little about various articles of clothing that may still have some merit, at least as provoking some thought:

Articles of Dress.--Hats and Caps.--There is no perfect head-dress; but I notice that old travellers in both hot and temperate countries have generally adopted a scanty "wide-awake." Mr. Oswell, the South African sportsman and traveller, used for years, and strongly recommended to me, a brimless hat of fine Panama grass, which he had sewn as a lining to an ordinary wide-awake. I regret I have had no opportunity of trying this combination, but can easily believe that the touch of the cool, smooth grass, to the wet brow, would be more agreeable than that of any other material. I need hardly mention Pith hats (to be bought under the Opera Colonnade, Pall Mall), Indian topees, and English hunting-caps, as having severally many merits. A muslin turban twisted into a rope and rolled round the hat is a common plan to keep the sun from the head and spine: it can also be used as a rope on an emergency.

Coat.--In nine cases out of ten, a strong but not too thick tweed coat is the best for rough work. In a very thorny country, a leather coat is almost essential. A blouse, cut short so as to clear the saddle, is neat, cool, and easy, whether as a riding or walking costume. Generally speaking, the traveller will chiefly spend his life in his shirt-sleeves, and will only use his coat when he wants extra warmth.

To carry a Coat.--There are two ways. The first is to fold it small and strap it to the belt. If the coat be a light one it can be carried very neatly and comfortably in this way, lying in the small of the back. The second is the contrivance of a friend of mine, an eminent scholar and divine, who always employs it in his vacation rambles. It is to pass an ordinary strap, once round the middle of the coat and a second time round both the coat and the left arm just above the elbow, and then to buckle it. The coat hangs very comfortably in its place and does not hamper the movements of the left arm. It requires no further care, except that after a few minutes it will generally be found advisable to buckle the strap one hole tighter. A coat carried in this way will be found to attract no attention from passers by.

Waistcoats are more convenient for their pockets than for their warmth. When travelling in countries where papers have to be carried, an inside pocket between the lining and the waistcoat, with a button to close it, is extremely useful. Letters of credit and paper money can be carried in it more safely than in any other pocket.

Trousers.--If you are likely to have much riding, take extra leather or moleskin trousers, or tweed covered down the inside of the legs with leather, such as cavalry soldiers generally wear. Leather is a better protection than moleskin against thorns; but not so serviceable against wet: it will far outlast moleskin. There should be no hem to the legs of trousers, as it retains the wet.

Watch-pocket.--Have it made of macintosh, to save the watch from perspiration. The astronomer-royal of Cape Town, Sir T. Maclear, who had considerable experience of the bush when measuring an arc of the meridian, justly remarked to me on the advantage of frequently turning the watch-pocket inside out, to get rid of the fluff and dust that collects in it and is otherwise sure to enter the watch-case.

Socks.--The hotter the ground on which you have to walk, the thicker should be your socks. These should be of woollen, wherever you expect to have much walking; and plenty of them will be required.

Substitute for Socks.--For want of socks, pieces of linen may be used, and, when these are properly put on they are said to be even better than socks. They should be a foot square, be made of soft worn linen, be washed once a-day, and be smeared with tallow. They can be put on so dexterously as to stand several hours' marching without making a single wrinkle, and are much used by soldiers in Germany. To put them on, the naked foot is placed crosswise; the corners on the right and on the left are then folded over, then the corner which lies in front of the toes. Now the art consists in so drawing up these ends, that the foot can be placed in the shoe or boot without any wrinkles appearing in the bandage. One wrinkle is sure to make a blister, and therefore persons who have to use them should practise frequently how to put them on. Socks similar to these, but made of thick blanket, and called "Blanket Wrappers," are in use at Hudson's Bay instead of shoes.

Shirt-sleeves.--When you have occasion to tuck up your shirt-sleeves, recollect that the way of doing so is, not to begin by turning the cuffs inside out, but outside in--the sleeves must be rolled up inwards, towards the arm, and not the reverse way. In the one case, the sleeves will remain tucked up for hours without being touched; in the other, they become loose every five minutes.

Gloves, Mits, and Muffs.--In cold dry weather a pair of old soft kid gloves, with large woollen gloves drawn over them, is the warmest combination. Mits and muffetees merely require mention. To keep the hands warm in very severe weather, a small fur muff may be slung from the neck, in which the hands may rest till wanted.

Braces.--Do not forget to take them, unless you have had abundant experience of belts; for belts do not suit every shape, neither are English trousers cut with the intention of being worn with them. But trousers made abroad, are shaped at the waist, especially for the purpose of being worn without braces; if desired. If you use braces, take two pairs, for when they are drenched with perspiration, they dry slowly. Some people do not care to use a belt, even with trousers of an ordinary cut, but find that a tape run through a hem along the upper edge of the trousers acts sufficiently well. Capt. Speke told me he always used this plan.

Boots.--Boots of tanned leather such as civilised people wear, are incomparably better for hard usage, especially in wet countries, than those of hand-dressed skins. If travelling in a hot, dry country, grease plentifully both your shoes and all other leather. "La graisse est la conservation du cuir," as I recollect a Chamouni guide enunciating with profound emphasis. The soles of plaited cord used in parts of the Pyrenees, are durable and excellent for clambering over smooth rock. They have a far better hold upon it than any other sole of which I have knowledge. Sandals are better than nothing at all. So are cloths wound round the feet and ankles and tied there: the peasants of the remarkable hilly place where I am writing these lines, namely Amalfi, use them much. They are an untidy chaussure, but never seem to require to be tied afresh. In the old days of Rome this sort of foot-gear was common. Haybands wound round the feet are a common makeshift by soldiers who are cut off from their supplies. It takes some months to harden the feet sufficiently to be able to walk without shoes at all. Slippers are great luxuries to foot-sore men. They should of course be of soft material, but the soles should not be too thin or they will be too cold for comfort in camp life.

Leggings.--Macintosh leggings to go over the trousers are a great comfort in heavy showers, especially when riding.

Gaiters.--If the country be full of briars and thorns, the insteps suffer cruelly when riding through bushes. It is easy to make gaiters either with buttons or buckles. A strip of wood is wanted, either behind or else on each side of them, to keep them from slipping down to the ankle.

Dressing Gown.--Persons who travel, even with the smallest quantity of luggage, would do wisely to take a thick dressing-gown. It is a relief to put it on in the evening, and is a warm extra dress for sleeping in. It is eminently useful, comfortable and durable.

Poncho.--A poncho is useful, for it is a sheet as well as a cloak; being simply a blanket with a slit in the middle to admit the wearer's head. A sheet of strong calico, saturated with oil, makes a waterproof poncho.

Complete Bush-costume.--Mr. Gordon Cumming describes his bush-costume as follows:--"My own personal appointments consisted of a wide-awake hat,  secured under my chin by 'rheimpys' or strips of dressed skin, a coarse linen shirt, sometimes a kilt, and sometimes a pair of buckskin knee-breeches, and a pair of 'veltschoens,' or home-made shoes. I entirely discarded coat, waistcoat, and neckcloth; and I always hunted with my arms bare; my heels were armed with a pair of powerful persuaders, and from my left wrist depended, by a double rheimpy (thong), an equally persuasive sea-cow jambok (whip of solid leather). Around my waist I wore two leathern belts or girdles. The smaller did the duty of suspender, and from it on my left side depended a plaited rheimpy, eight inches in length, forming a loop, in which dangled my powerful loading-rod, formed of a solid piece of horn of the rhinoceros. The larger girdle was my shooting-belt; this was a broad leather belt, on which were fastened four separate compartments, made of otterskin, with flaps to button over, of the same material. The first of these held my percussion-caps; the second, a large powder-flask; the third and fourth, which had divisions in them, contained balls and patches, two sharp clasp-knives, a compass, flint and steel. In this belt I also carried a loading-mallet, formed from the horn of the rhinoceros; this and the powder-flask were each secured to the belt by long rheimpys, to prevent my losing them. Last, but not least, in my right hand I usually carried my double-barrelled two-grooved rifle, which was my favourite weapon. This, however, I subsequently made up my mind was not the tool for a mounted man, especially when quick loading is required."

Times do change, but a man's love of gear is eternal.-- mushroom

Friday, September 20, 2013

Bastiat on Government

From Frederic Bastiat's Essays on Political Economy, regarding government:

Slavery is subsiding, thank heaven! and on the other hand, our disposition to defend our property prevents direct and open plunder from being easy.

One thing, however, remains--it is the original inclination which exists in all men to divide the lot of life into two parts, throwing the trouble upon others, and keeping the satisfaction for themselves. It remains to be shown under what new form this sad tendency is manifesting itself.

The oppressor no longer acts directly and with his own powers upon his victim. No, our conscience has become too sensitive for that. The tyrant and his victim are still present, but there is an intermediate person between them, which is the Government--that is, the Law itself. What can be better calculated to silence our scruples, and, which is perhaps better appreciated, to overcome all resistance? We all, therefore, put in our claim, under some pretext or other, and apply to Government. We say to it, "I am dissatisfied at the proportion between my labour and my enjoyments. I should like, for the sake of restoring the desired equilibrium, to take a part of the possessions of others. But this would be dangerous. Could not you facilitate the thing for me? Could you not find me a good place? or check the industry of my competitors?or, perhaps, lend me gratuitously some capital, which you may take from its possessor? Could you not bring up my children at the public expense? or grant me some prizes? or secure me a competence when I have attained my fiftieth year? By this means I shall gain my end with an easy conscience, for the law will have acted for me, and I shall have all the advantages of plunder, without its risk or its disgrace!"

As it is certain, on the one hand, that we are all making some similar request to the Government; and as, on the other, it is proved that Government cannot satisfy one party without adding to the labour of the others, until I can obtain another definition of the word Government, I feel authorised to give my own. Who knows but it may obtain the prize? Here it is: 

Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavours to live at the expense of everybody else

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Our Enemy, The State

I'll be out for a few days, so I'm posting some bits and pieces from others that readers might fine interesting.  We start today with Our Enemy, The State by Albert Jay Nock:

In the United States at the present time, the principal indexes of the increase of State power are three in number. ...  

A third index is seen in the erection of poverty and mendicancy into a permanent political asset. Two years ago, many of our people were in hard straits; to some extent, no doubt, through no fault of their own, though it is now clear that in the popular view of their case, as well as in the political view, the line between the deserving poor and the undeserving poor was not distinctly drawn. Popular feeling ran high at the time, and the prevailing wretchedness was regarded with undiscriminating emotion, as evidence of some general wrong done upon its victims by society at large, rather than as the natural penalty of greed, folly or actual misdoings; which in large part it was. The State, always instinctively “turning every contingency into a resource” for accelerating the conversion of social power into State power, was quick to take advantage of this state of mind. All that was needed to organize these unfortunates into an invaluable political property was to declare the doctrine that the State owes all its citizens a living; and this was accordingly done. It immediately precipitated an enormous mass of subsidized voting-power, an enormous resource for strengthening the State at the expense of society.

This was written, I think, about 1934.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Lying Journalists

Yes, I know, the title is generally redundant, but Emily Miller of the Washington Times tells the truth.

It seems that early reports of the Navy Yard murderer having an AR-15 or a rifle of any kind were all wrong.  Also very wrong is a report by the New York Times, repeated on CBS and possibly other outlets, that the killer attempted to buy an "assault rifle" at a Virginia gun store but was rejected.  I repeat, this is not true. 

Miller explains: 

The Times has a story Tuesday on its homepage with the headline “State Law Stopped Gunman From Buying Rifle, Officials Say.”

The first line says: “The gunman who killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday test fired an AR-15 assault rifle at a Virginia gun store last week but was stopped from buying one because state law there prohibits the sale of such weapons to out-of-state buyers, according to two senior law enforcement officials.”

Apparently neither the reporter nor his editors took the time to fact check their vague “law enforcement officials” sources. 

“Virginia law does not prohibit the sale of assault rifles to out-of-state citizens who have proper identification,” Dan Peterson, a Virginia firearms attorney, told me Tuesday night. The required identification is proof of residency in another state and of U.S. citizenship, which can be items like a passport, birth certificate or voter identification card.
The leftist media is so intent on making this a story about evil guns that they will write anything that even vaguely suggests that their evasive, unicorn-like assault weapons were involved.  They are as delusional as the poor people who think they have been abducted by aliens.

More from Miller:

While it is true that Alexis rented and shot an AR-type rifle at Sharpshooters Small Arms Range in Lorton, sources close to the investigation tell me that he did not attempt to buy the rifle.

Instead, he passed both the federal and state background checks and bought a Remington 870 shotgun and 30 shotgun shells (00 buckshot), which he used, tragically, to kill 12 innocent people.
The use of a shotgun could be a reason for the high death toll of 12 (not counting the murderer) relative to the eight victim who were wounded but survived. 

As Miller points out, there are already thousands of gun laws on the books.  None of those laws will stop a madman.  Further, as Wayne LaPierre said back in the '90s, if we were serious we would enforce the laws we have.  Enforcing the law regarding discharging a firearm, reckless endangerment, destruction of property, and, probably, assault, in Seattle in 2004 would have prevented the murderer from legally owning firearms and would have kept him from having a security clearance.  I would hope, anyway.  That might have prevented this horrific loss of life.  Yet another gun law would not have done so.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Murderer Picked Up Guns From Victims

There seem to be multiple sources confirming that the Navy Yard shooter began his attack with a shotgun.  I would insert a gratuitous Biden joke, except it is not funny.

This is from a rather jumbled report by NBC Washington:

When it was over, the suspected gunman lay dead amid an armload of weapons. Sources told News4 that surveillance footage showed that he began his attack with a shotgun, but was found with a 9mm pistol and an AR-15 assault rifle.

NBC News correspondent Pete Williams is reporting Alexis purchased a shotgun in Lorton, Va. during the past week or so. 

The suspected gunman appeared to have seized firearms from two of his victims as he moved through the building along the Anacostia River in southeast Washington, where 3,000 Navy employees go to work each day, many of them carrying authorized firearms.
A couple of things in this are probably wrong or misleading.  Most likely the "AR-15" was not a civilian weapon but a weapon taken from the police officer who was shot.  Some of our county deputies carry AR-15 variants in their cars, none of which, as far as I know are select-fire, but that may not be the case in DC.  Some reports indicate bursts of fire so there is a good chance the weapon taken was a police-issued M-4.

I also think those "carrying authorized firearms" are only security personnel -- such as the guard at the gunman's entry point, and military police who might be in facility.  Our service men and women are generally disarmed on bases. 

One thing we have to be careful about is going along with tighter restrictions on people with "mental health issues".  This guy was probably crazier than a loon, had anger issues, and may well have been taking psychiatric medication.  In that case, it's probably a good idea to limit access to weapons.  However, that is not the same as having classes of people declared mentally unfit by government-approved shrinks or having to undergo psychiatric evaluation to buy a firearm.

Making mental-stability a requirement to own firearms may be the new gun-grab.

Update:  I meant to include this link and something shiny went by.   Gateway has a rundown of the gunman's encounters with law enforcement.   The one that strikes me as rather egregious is the 2004 incident in which the perpetrator shot out the tires on a car, as described by the Smoking Gun

Alexis was also arrested in mid-2004 after allegedly firing several shots into the tires of a vehicle parked in front of his Seattle, Washington home, according to a police report. Alexis told cops that he had perceived that the car’s owner--a construction worker from a nearby job site--had “mocked him.”
Police recovered a Glock .45 caliber handgun and ammo that Alexis stored in his bedroom in a residence owned by his grandmother. After waiving his Miranda rights, Alexis told investigators that he believed the victim had “disrespected him” and that perception resulted in a “‘black out’ fueled by anger.” Alexis added that he did not remember pulling the trigger until 30 minutes after the shooting.
Alexis, a New York City native, told police that he “was present during the tragic events of September 11th, 2001 and how those events had disturbed him.”

In a subsequent interview with Alexis’s father, the man told cops that his son had experienced “anger management problems” that family members “believed associated with PTSD.” Alexis’s father “confirmed that his son was an active participant in rescue attempts of September 11th, 2001.”

Alexis, who had a Washington State concealed pistol license, was charged with illegal discharge of a firearm and property damage. The disposition of those counts remains unclear.  (Emphasis added by me)

That is felony territory.  Anything that carries a sentence of over one year in jail generally disqualifies a person from legally purchasing a firearm.  I can tell you that if I had done that I would never have been able to own a gun again.  Maybe the Seattle prosecutor already had his/her quota of young black males for the year. You have to prove you're not discriminating or profiling, right?

Not that not having legal access to a firearm would have made any difference.  The murderer could have stolen a gun or used a knife or a baseball bat to take out the guard and arm himself.  Nevertheless, someone needs to answer as to why this nutcase was still walking around and getting security clearances. 

Let's Call Them What They Are

Schools, work places, businesses, and military installations that ban the carrying of weapons by law-abiding citizens are NOT Gun Free Zones as shown by the dead bodies of multiple victims.

They are Self-Defense Free Zones. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Sanest Man on the Internet

It's not me.  It might be James Lileks, as in this example from today's Bleat:

No, there was more. Daughter had two friends over for a sleepover, and they went up to the water tower to slide down and be giddy 13-year-olds. It’s a joy to be around them. 

“You wear Converses,” said the . . . more forward friend. “Are you a hipster?”

“I’m too cool to be a hipster,” I said. I get more comments about wearing Converses than anything else. I have eight pairs. That’s what I wear. For some reason being shod only in a particular brand whose myriad deviations are available to all is something of a distinction; I haven’t the faintest idea why. A man should have a pair of Converse shoes, a Zippo, and a Swiss Army Knife. It should be a given.
Lileks is in his mid-50s, younger than I am by a few years.  I totally agree on the Zippo and SAK, even though I usually carry a butane lighter.  Maybe I just fell through the Converse crack.  The only thing I ever thought they were good for was running the river, and I have -- I don't know what you call them -- aquatic athletic (?) shoes that won't rot and fall apart after a month. 

I remember a commercial for Lee jeans, the denim Pepsi to Levi's Coke, in which the narrator was singing about getting a new girlfriend, a new pair of sneakers (which meant Converse back then), and a new pair of Lee jeans at the start of the summer.  The girl was gone after a couple of weeks and the sneakers wore out by the Fourth of July, but the Lee jeans were just starting to get broken in good.  I think I was better at keeping women and harder on shoes, but it's not too far off.  Apart from that, though, Lileks helps keep me within a couple of digits of sane's zipcode.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Bear Ops Constant Neck Knife Review

I was at the local Academy store recently, went by the knife display and was pleased to the see a number of U.S.-made Bears and Sons knives available.  You can read my positive review of their carbon steeler Trapper pocketknife here.  It seems that neck knives have kind of gone mainstream as Academy had a Bear and Sons version in exchange for a picture of Andy Jackson.  I was picking up a few other things so impulsively added the necker and headed to the checkout. 

My initial impression of the knife itself was rather good.  This is part of the OPS line, designated as CC-400-B, made entirely of 1095 steel with a black epoxy powder coat.  Overall length is 6.25 inches, blade length is officially 2 and 7/8 — though I would call it 2 and 3/4.  The Constant Neck, as it is called, has, as you can see a modified drop point with an almost khukri-like mini-curve to the cutting edge.  I haven't had a opportunity to put it to extensive and varied use as yet, but it is a very handy size and shape.  It will work for most utilitarian tasks such as opening boxes and dressing game.  It appears to be strong enough for use in a self-defense situation, more a slasher than a stabber, but that has its advantages. 

The skeleton grip does not give a lot of purchase for my wide, thick hand.  Unlike the much smaller, lighter Folts Minimalist, there are no finger grooves to improve retention and control.  Nevertheless, I like the weight of the knife, the thick spine, and the non-stainless material.  The grainy powder finish not only protects from corrosion, it adds much needed "grippiness".  I think I can further improve the knife's usefulness by adding a paracord lanyard and, perhaps, wrapping the haft in some paracord.  I haven't done that yet because there is one thing about this knife that is negative. 

 The knife comes out of the kydex sheath very easily.  Too easily.  Simply putting the chain around my neck and letting the sheath drop — something I do all the time with the Minimalist — results in the Bear and Sons knife falling to the floor.  This is not a good thing.  There is too much play in the sheath so that if the knife moves "spine-ward" in the holster, the guard easily slips past the indentation that is supposed to hold it.

I consider this a case of inadequate testing of the design.  It's a neck knife so it is going to hang upside down.  It needs to stay put and the retention needs to be trustworthy.  You would think that somewhere during the prototyping and development cycle it would have occurred to someone to run this obvious check.

I like the knife.  It is solid.  The edge is excellent.  It would be a good fit for a slimmer hand than mine, and I can easily enhance the grip.  In fact it may be that the bulk of some paracord will be enough by itself to eliminate the dropping.  If it doesn't, a bit of epoxy or some heat and pliers will.  But I should not have to address this issue on a new "tactical" knife.       

UPDATE:  Follow-up, modifications are here.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Override of Governor's Veto Fails by One Lousy Democrat Vote

in the Missouri State Senate -- via Gateway.  The House approved the override 109 to 49.  Of course, two-thirds is needed, and we did not get it. 

So, the Second Amendment Protection Act will not become law in Missouri.  A sad day, but we gave it a good run.  Nixon is a lame duck at this point and is probably aiming to unseat Senator Roy Blunt in 2016.  Maybe this veto will work against his ambition, not that Roy is any prize, but he usually votes right. 

Note to Governor Nixon:   Remember, if you are behind in the polls going into November, the plane crash worked out great for Mel.  Oh, but you won't have that scumbag Roger Wilson to violate the law and appoint your old lady.  Sorry.  Maybe you should just retire to the farm with the casket-dragging Carnahan clan instead.

Keep in mind that Nixon was the one who insisted repeatedly that people thinking Missouri was passing data on concealed carry holders to the federal government were just crazy conspiracy theorists or right-wing lunatics -- until his own DMV Director and head of the Highway Patrol said that they were sending just exactly that kind of personal information to the feds.  Nixon is so stupid that he stuck to his lame denial even after the truth came out. 

JAPSF -- Just another police state fascist.
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Recalls and Voting Patterns

Good news today as a couple of anti-gun Colorado state senators are recalled by the voters.  Ed Morrissey gives a nice rundown of it on Hotair.

Morrissey quotes from Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post:

The particulars of Tuesday’s elections prompted some gun-control advocates to argue that the results shouldn’t be over-read. For one thing, voters didn’t receive mail ballots automatically, a substantial change of protocol in a state where the majority of voters cast their votes via mail.
Automatic mail ballots.  You wonder why Colorado became a blue state?  Why an anti-immigration candidate like Tancredo would lose the governor's race to Hickenlooper?  That's your answer.

They call it Election Day for a reason.  All this early voting, voting and registering by mail and the other shenanigans pulled in the name of "voting rights" are means of enhancing fraud.  The left always screams that there is no fraud.  That's really easy to say if the rolls and the votes cannot be audited.

The best thing that can be done for freedom in this country is for every state to pass a law requiring a picture ID for voting.  The next step would be to limit voting to election day, and require people to register and vote in person unless their are mitigating circumstances for absentee voting.

I have voted absentee when I knew I would be out of town.  My mother-in-law used to vote absentee every election because she was home-bound.  The county clerks have no problem dealing with the exceptions.  That's what they are elected to do.  But voting by mail as a normal process is an invitation to stuff the ballot box.

Anyone too lazy and unmotivated to get a photo ID, and too indolent to vote on election day or file a legitimate absentee ballot, does not deserve a vote.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Spin Cycle

Axelrod says that Obama should get credit for Putin's Syrian solution

It's called affirmative action credit. 

Obama and Kerry threatened an unbelievably small attack that would force Assad to eat his Cheerios with a fork and possibly limit him to almond milk.  Even that threat was mitigated by 60 to 70% hard disapproval on the part of the American people as well as increasing resistance in Congress for authorizing force.  At this point, even the fat cats in the Senate would likely vote it down.

The Russians, seeing an opportunity to make a mockery of America's Nobel laureate, offer a diplomatic settlement which Assad immediate accepts. 

If I found the evidence for Assad's deployment of chemical weapons rather fragile before, it is absolutely gossamer now.  Assad has Russian support and does not need to use chemical weapons.  The al Qaida-backed insurgents are losing ground and, though the civil war may continue for some time, are unlikely to topple the Assad regime.  Assad is dictator, but he is a dictator with western, secular leanings.  His remaining in power is likely the best outcome, at least in the short term.

Does Obama come out of this unscathed?  I would say, yes, mostly.  Even with the most intense of media spins, he still looks like a weak dope.  Claiming the securing of chemical weapons was part of a discussion between him and Putin sounds rather lame to me.  It's just too much of a "Yeah! Me, too".  I think a lot of Americans will have the same reaction.  After all, the attack was supposed to be about "punishing" Assad for crossing Obama's red line (that really wasn't his, you know).

Obama's plan, as in Egypt and Libya, was to replace the existing regime with a Moslem Brotherhood/al Qaida-affiliate government in the name of "democracy".  It seems quite strange that Americans owe the former KGB head, Putin, our thanks for keeping us out of a nasty, pointless engagement that had the potential to ignite the entire region.   

Monday, September 9, 2013

Nullification and Missouri

An editorial from a Connecticut paper called the Journal Inquirer takes the Missouri legislature to task for attempting nullification, going so far as to urge Barack Obama to follow in the footsteps of slave-owner Andrew Jackson:

President Barack Obama might benefit from President Andrew Jackson’s response to South Carolina’s attempt at nullification: “Tell them if one South Carolina finger is raised in defiance of this government, then I shall come down there and once I’m there, I’ll hang the first man I lay hands on to the first tree I can reach.”
I don't know how that would have worked between Jackson and South Carolina.  As far as Barack Obama is concerned, he's welcome to come on down and start at my house.  I have a lot of nice big oak trees.  I'll even supply the rope.  Of course, he might want to bring along some help if he plans on hanging me.  I guess he could bring Michelle and threaten to have me wake up next to her.  I'd hang myself.

You see, federal firearms laws, despite collusion on the part of the Judicial Branch, are mostly in violation of the the Second Amendment, which is still the supreme law of the land.  The federal government is the one acting defiantly.  Missouri, if the legislature is able to override our Democrat governor's veto, would be acting to restore balance in an overly-centralized system.  I have a feeling Jackson would be aghast at the reach of the central government and of its bureaucracies.  There's a good chance that, as a somewhat compulsive duelist, Ol' Hickory would be calling people out before he'd give up his guns. 

The Journal Inquirer has the audacity to make it a matter of patriotism: 

The National Rifle Association refuses to give its opinion about the nullification argument. The question should be put to the NRA again and again until an answer is given. Here is a real issue of patriotism.
OK, so the editor was equally indignant, I'm sure, at the Connecticut legislature's violation of citizens' Second Amendment rights?  Or with the District of Columbia's long-standing unconstitutional ban on handguns?  Or with draconian firearms restrictions in Chicago and New York City? 

No, probably not.  Only Missouri hillbillies are evil, stupid nullifiers.  Nullification only counts when it is in defiance of laws the editor likes.  Nullifying the plain language and intent of the Constitution is acceptable.  

Where is this editor when our rights to self-defense, to privacy, to security in our persons and property are casually subsumed by the federal leviathan?  Remember when dissent was the highest form of patriotism?  I am a patriot of my country.  I have no use for the rogue government that is running unchecked in Washington, DC.  But, you, Eddie the Editor, being a journalist, are clearly too stupid to understand the difference.

Finally, this maroon buffoon under the protection of the First Amendment express its contempt for all Missourians: 

Missouri’s attempt at nullification is an insult to the nation. It should be tested immediately and anyone who tries to use it against federal law should be arrested and tried. President Obama should notify Missouri’s governor and legislature that he plans to do exactly that.
No, we are not insulting the nation.  Again, the editor confuses the nation with the government.  They are not the same.  There are, in fact, a multitude of governments within the nation.  Does E Pluribus Unum ring any bells?  One nation, under God, not under Obama.  If one level of government fails, citizens are able to call upon other levels.  I'm sure the editor saw the value of this when state Jim Crow laws were nullified by the federal government.  It's mostly been one way for the past 150 years, but what comes down sometimes goes up. 

Maybe we just need to change our battle cry from, "Revolution!" to "Rebalance!"

Meanwhile, to paraphrase (and significantly sanitize) what my father once told someone who ordered him and a friend out of town, Missourians are in the habit of doing as they please.  If the Barack Obama or the Journal Inquirer or anybody else doesn't like it, it's really too bad.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Fencing Fun

I've been back in the woods clearing out for a new fence.  The ground is a little steep in places. 

And there are a few rocks now and then.  Fortunately I'm on this side of the stream.  Last night I was just driving steel posts.  
The only problem is carrying them back there and remaining upright while I drive them (unrolling the barb wire is interesting, too).  The night before, I put in a cedar post so I had to set it.  I'll be doing the same tonight with a braced set coming to lower ground, but it will be flatter there. 

It's pretty hot work, but it's mostly in the shade, and it's scenic.  I'm not complaining.

They are just phone pictures, but you can click to see them bigger. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sometimes Violence Is A Pretty Good Answer

Via Gateway Pundit (continue to pray for Jim Hoft):  Teen Robbery Suspects Beaten By, uh, Victims?

Speaking of Virginia, the two future rocket scientists pictured above attempted to rob a couple of University of Virginia students at gunpoint.  Can we say that maybe the plan did not come together?

It's just beautiful.  You can read more at the link.

Hope in Virginia?

There is a good chance that Virginia, increasingly a blue state as government employees colonize across the Potomac, will elect the odious Clintonite, Terry McAuliffe as governor.  Cuccinelli, someone with good conservative credentials, is losing due in part to a strong showing by a relatively unknown Libertarian candidate named Robert Sarvis.  I hope the equation changes, and Virginians elect Cuccinelli.  Not being from Virginia or all that familiar with the personalities and platforms, It’s possible that I agree with Sarvis as much or more than I agree with Cuccinelli.  I do know that Attorney General Cuccinelli worked hard to thwart Obamacare, and I appreciate that. 

The problem for Republicans is that they have become nearly as much a Big Government party as Democrats.  Sure, they want to talk about cutting taxes, but when the government still spends more than it takes in, cutting taxes is not going to help.  We need to cut government.  The “Rovian” approach has failed.  Not Quite As Extreme As the Democrats is not a winning slogan.  The GOP establishment wants to change the priorities of Big Government – a stronger military (a more strenuous military, their hero, Teddy Roosevelt might say), more law enforcement, less welfare – as opposed to moving government out of people’s lives as much as possible. 

From what I can pick up, McAuliffe’s primary point of attack against Cuccinelli is that he is a social conservative who would limit “personal freedom”.  By this McAuliffe means killing babies and endorsing sodomites – as our friend Justin would say.  You can bet that McAuliffe wants more restrictions on firearms and concealed carry, property rights, and the way in which parents are allowed to raise and educate their children.  Strangely, the very fundamental and essential rights of self-defense, privacy, being secure from unreasonable searches and confiscation of property, and choice in education are not considered personal freedoms by corrupt thugs like McAuliffe.  He will work to increase the size and scope of government and the intrusiveness of the Commonwealth’s various bureaucracies if he is elected governor. 

Republicans, if they are going to be a viable party in the long term, are going to have to clearly articulate their support for small ‘l’ libertarian values, like property rights.  Like limitations on the police state.  Like reducing regulations and shortening the reach of bureaucracies.  Republicans do not need to run on a platform supporting drugs, vice, and anarchy, but they do need to make the case for a non-interventionist government.  I suspect that one reason most are so poor at articulating this idea is that they do not really believe in it.  Conversely, Cuccinelli, viewed as a TEA Party hero, appears to be a true believer who could win in a tough state if he can get his message past all the interference.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Machete 101

I was raised by an axeman.  Dad always used a double-bit felling axe for anything that might be considered a reasonable application.  We also had a steel-handled scythe which we called our brush-hook.  The old-timers who had cradled wheat and oats from sunup to sundown could probably shave a feller with their "sickle" and never nick him.  Machetes, though, were not common in the hardwood.  We did have the rusted remnants of a corn knife which I confiscated as a sword when I was a child.  For work, I used a double-bit axe, a down-sized True Temper that I got for my birthday -- the picture looks like I was about eight.  I cut sprouts, cleared brush, and delimbed the logs we cut for firewood.  In winter, I took an axe with a well-worn and battered head to open holes in the ice for our stock cows.  All that, and I am still have to shorten my stroke when I chop left-handed.

I always figured an machete was too light and too short to be of much use around here, though I am fascinated by big blades.  As I noted before, I decided to get the Cold Steel Magnum Kukri Machete to pack along for heavier stuff when I as running my string trimmer.  Since that time, I have come to conclude that it's actually a pretty good tool back in the brush.  I pack it a lot, despite the length being occasionally awkward while on the tractor. 

Always being one to want to learn something new, I recently ran across these youtube videos of a gentleman down in Ecuador, Don Fernando Caamano, who has considerably more than a passing acquaintance with the machete:    

Making a reaping hook for brush cutting.

Using a reaping hook in clearing brush.

Don Caamano looks like he knows what he is doing. 

A reaping hook used in conjunction with a machete allows the wielder to avoid getting too much that will bleed in the way of that big swinging blade.  The hook is used to get the brush or weeds into a better position for the blade to cut safely and efficiently. 

I cut the one pictured above with my chainsaw from some variation of black oak.  It's pretty tough, and maybe a little heavier and more substantial that Don Caamano's hook.  The thing I like about it is that it is a solid stop for the blade.  In other words I can put the knob end of the hook behind something light but tough like buckbrush and chop into it so the material is effectively sheared off.  It's kind of like anvil pruning shears.  A straight stick would work as well part of the time, but the hook is handy for pulling brush out and holding clumps together.  The hook takes a lot of abuse, but it saves the blade, and the raw material for a new one is amazingly cheap around my place. 

I was working on a very steep hillside yesterday, clearing for some new fencing.  I wound up using the hook to grab a sapling and hold myself in place a time or two and as a staff for stability.  Sticks:  the original cutting edge technology. 

Anyway, for machete work, I would say that the reaping hook has proven its worth in terms of convenience, safety, and efficacy.