Category Archives: Uncategorized

Air Strikes Astray — what did we tell you?

mq9 and JDAMs

PGMs on an MQ-9 Reaper. If it only had a brain.

Repeat after the WeaponsMan:

  1. PGMs, no SOF on ground, result misery.
  2. No PGMs, SOF on ground,  result misery.
  3. PGMS, SOF on ground, result happinesss.

You will recognize the first case as the Clinton pinprick Tomahawk raids of 1998, and the aerial operations of the Kosovo war of 1999. The second, of course, fits Operation Gothic Serpent to a T. (Mogadishu, 1993). The third is Afghanistan, 2001.

So given two proven failure pathways and one proven success pathway, what did Washington do? Pick Failure Door #1. Result, misery:

U.S.-led air strikes hit grain silos and other targets in Islamic State-controlled territory in northern and eastern Syria overnight, killing civilians and wounding militants, a group monitoring the war said on Monday.

The aircraft may have mistaken the mills and grain storage areas in the northern Syrian town of Manbij for an Islamic State base, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. There was no immediate comment from Washington.


The strikes in Manbij appeared to have killed only civilians, not fighters, said Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Observatory which gathers information from sources in Syria.

“These were the workers at the silos. They provide food for the people,” he said. He could not give a number of casualties and it was not immediately possible to verify the information.

via U.S-led raids hit grain silos in Syria, kill workers: monitor – Yahoo News.

We’re not really upset that some Syrian grain elevators did what grain elevators have occaisionally done entirely on their own, namely, blew up. That’s just collateral damage, and it’s not like any faction of Syrians are our friends these days. What’s upsetting is that this kind of warfare is ineffectual and does not damage the enemy’s centers of gravity or, really, just about anything about him.

We have chosen a mode of operations that is more or less guaranteed to fail.

But hey, we understand the Army is sending help to Iraq… a Division Headquarters. That’ll surely help. Hope they remembered the divisional band, because they might as well go under playing Autumn or Nearer My God to Thee.

Bubba the Gunsmith proves 1911s are destructible after all

First, it’s an ATI to start with, and we’re unaware of anything made by ATI that’s liable to be mistaken for professional military armament quality. But if you had asked us, “Can you make an ATI pistol worse by giving it to Bubba for a style job,” we’d have had to admit that, although we could not imagine how, that if we’ve learnt one thing in this racket it’s this: do not wager against Bubba’s strange marque of insalubrious inspiration.  In fact, we wonder if it’s a Bubba attempt to convert one of ATI’s pot-metal .22s to a .45, with dire but not-yet-catastrophic consequences. Now on GunBroker:


ATI Bubba Gun

Here’s a 1911 that some amateur had a little too much fun with. We do not have the time or technical know-how to get this weapon working properly. Here is a description of the problem: Upon loading and firing the weapon, the cartridge casing is ejected. However, a new round fails to feed and the slide remains in the rearward position until manually moved forward. This is sold AS IS/For Parts and no returns will be made available.

via ATI 1911 .45 ACP gunsmith special – $199!! 45ACP : Semi Auto Pistols at

Great Googly Moogly, that thing was chased through the Ugly Forest and didn’t miss a tree. It’s really hard on the eyes, like that girl with all the piercings is going to be when she’s 40. Check out the harmonic convergence of household pliers and barrel bushing:

ATI Bubba Barrel Bushing


Yes, that bushing does look like something in the nose end of the slide does not fit quite right. We’d guess the failure to return to battery is a combination of really bad fit between frame and slide, resulting from “drop in and hammer to fit” soi-disant gunsmithing, and an anemic recoil spring, maybe one from ATI’s .22 roots.

This is one zombie that’s probably better off staying dead. But I bet the bubbas on GB bid it up over $300. If that happens, we’ll get a bag of ATIs and mass produce these things.

  1. Buy a pallet of lousy guns.
  2. Make them even worse.
  3. ?? Find fools?
  4. Profit!!!

We came across this example whilst enjoying our latest timewaster, the discovery that GunBroker can be searched for the grim keywords “Gunsmith Special.” We were actually looking for a project, but found them to be few and far between. However, the comic value is sufficient reward for time spent browsing the link. (We have it sorted by price, top down, and haven’t even got into the Gunsmith Special equivalent of penny stocks yet).


What’s a Target Shooter Like?

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) wants us to know that today’s target shooter is not like the one from even a few years ago. You think of target shooters is typically middle aged, white, male, more likely to be rural that urban. While those shooters are still plugging away, the new shooters are younger, increasingly female, increasingly minorities (although this doesn’t come up in the infographic), and often urban and suburban.

And target shooting of all kinds — rifle, pistol, shotgun; organized or informal — is growing, up 19% in a few years. To communicate this change to a nation reduced to TV and USA Today levels of cognition, they put together this infographic.


Our own observations are that there are definitely more women and “obvious” minorities in the shops and at the range. We don’t see any profound differences in the why by demographic slice, except that women are more likely to start off with a strong interest in self-defense than with the generalized curiosity about guns that seems to bring the guys in.

This is all couched in socio-psychological weasel words like “more likely” because the plain fact is that all shooters are individuals and their reasons vary as much as their personalities do. You can’t make any assumptions about what the customer at your shop or range wants based on the bins that pollsters put people in. You don’t know if he or she’s a history buff, an arch-competitor, or someone looking for a pastime with a little more frisson to it than golf.

One of the most interesting findings, in our opinion, was that fewer of the new breed of target shooters are also hunters. Does this mean that the base demographics of the two sports are destined to diverge further, or does this mean that there’s a pool of new flat-range shooters who are at a high potential of being evangelized for hunting as well?

Tool Deprivation Syndrome: Excuses and Gunsmithing

This Brownell's premium AR toolkit is $1500, but you don't have to wait till you buy it to work on ARs -- if you're careful and sensible.

This Brownell’s premium AR toolkit is $1500, but you don’t have to wait till you buy it to work on ARs — if you’re careful and sensible. (That’s a good thing, as it’s on backorder anyway).

IF you spend a little time in the professional tools section of Brownell’s or Midway’s catalogs or website (let alone turn yourself loose on McMaster-Carr or MSC Direct) you may just develop a case of Tool Deprivation Syndrome. The TDS sufferer has a backlog of jacked-up guns and a series of excuses that begin with the magic phrase:

If only I had a [insert magic talisman], I could fix the [insert name of appropriate member of the dead-gun pile].

You know the way it goes: “If only I had a drill press, I could mount that scope.” “If only I had an action block.” “If only I had a CNC Bridgeport.” We call bullshit. Today, in guerilla workshops in Darra Adam Khel and in shantytowns in Mindanao, bush gunsmiths are making functional copies of modern weapons with saws and files and grinding wheels, because nobody told them they need a CNC Bridgeport.

There are four answers to a dead-gun project that get the gun up and running:

  1. Admit you’re never going to fix it, and take it to a pro.
  2. Suck it up and get the tool.
  3. Improvise, substitute, or make your own equivalent of the factory tool.
  4. Take a patient, manual approach.

Take it to a Pro

There are some things that absolutely require Approach #1. An example of that is coatings: a professional that does them all the time will do them, especially difficult ones like rust blue, flame blue or straw, and aluminum anodizing way, way better than the home or small-shop smith can. (Well, with practice, anyone can get good at simpler coatings like rust blue or parkerize, but you’re going to make some ugly ducklings before you’re turning out swans). The semi-Bubba alternative is Cerakote. You never want to go full Bubba, but the full-Bubba approach is Krylon rattlecan. (Unless you’re trying to emulate an SF team’s personalized camo finish on their arms, which was probably applied with Krylon rattlecans).

Suck it Up, Get the Tool

Bubba was here. His wrong-sized screwdriver slipped, taking the finish quality of this revolver down 5-10% and the value down 30% or more. Hope it was his own revolver. Screw fit is such a big deal we ought to do a post on it alone. Image: courtesy Wheeler Engineering.

Bubba was here. His wrong-sized screwdriver slipped, taking the finish quality of this revolver down 5% and the value down 30% or more. Hope it was his own revolver. Screw fit is such a big deal we ought to do a post on screwdrivers alone. Image: courtesy Wheeler Engineering.

There are some things that absolutely require Approach #2. One of them is a small thing, and yet it seems to be the last one newbie smiths acquire — a very comprehensive set of screwdrivers. Before you get the Ruritanian FAL handguard bushing no-go gage*, have a set of premium screwdrivers. Gunsmiths need hollow ground or parallel-ground screwdrivers, not taper ground hardware store drivers. A screwdriver should fit exactly in its screw slot. The semi-Bubba uses an undersized driver, damaging the slot in the screw. Full Bubba uses an oversized driver, or a right-sized one deployed off center, to provide optimum damage to the screw and to the wood and metal around the screw head. One screwdriver manufacturer has a whole drawer full of images like the one to the left. (That’s actually a mild one).

Similarly, a full set of punches in steel and brass are mandatory. Roll pin punches and roll pin starter tools, also, if you work with modern firearms that use these fiendish fasteners.

Finally, a set of reamers. You know why the pins in your homemade AR lower rattle, and the ones in an el cheapo lower rattle, and the ones in a GI rifle don’t? The GI gun (like most premium ARs) is drilled undersize and reamed to size for a perfect fit. Perfection is an asymptote: you may never get there, but you ought to be trying, or go back to Approach #1 and Take it to a Pro.

Improv, Substitute, Make

Approach #3 is actually the trad gunsmith solution for… inter alia, screwdrivers. If you have an unusual size screw, find an oversize (but expendable) screwdriver and grind the tip to a perfect fit. You’ll never damage a screw or any of the things it fastens this way.

This Bubbalicious moment is actually from an online disassembly guide to the SVT-40. Note the cheap Chinese hardware store wrench. Don't do this!

This Bubbalicious moment is actually from an online disassembly guide to the SVT-40. Note the cheap Chinese hardware store wrench. Don’t do this!

Some foreign and obsolete weapons require odd spanner wrenches or slotted screwdrivers; the temptation here to try to use a general-purpose tool like a vice-grips or Leatherman is strong. Resist it, for that is a path well trod by Bubba the Gunsmith and quite a lot of actions and stocks bear the scars of it, in mute testimony to his passage.

One good substitute for a punch is a reversed drill bit of the right diameter, chucked into a drill press. Best to do this with a worn-out or run-out bit, lest you scar the cutting edges with the jaws of the chuck. Scarred cutting edges go walkabout in wood and metal alike, producing drill holes that are not cylindrical, or even not round.

Take a patient, manual approach

In finance, borrowing is “leverage” and leverage, just like a lever in mechanics, gives you an amplifying effect. If you win and borrowed to leverage your bet, you win proportionately bigger. If you lose… you got it, you lose bigger if you have leverage. Leverage in gunsmithing comes from power tools and time-savers. If you’re not doing this for money, you’re not trying to beat the clock (in the standard English idiom, not SAS, sense). Take your time, think it through, do it gently, get it right. Use nonmarring tools and cushion the jaws and surfaces of marring ones. Most of all, never let your tools, especially power tools, get to anyplace your mind hasn’t already been.

Bubba is always in a hurry. And being Bubba, he doesn’t even know why that’s a bad thing.

To Sum it Up

Judgment is more important than purchasing power when you have a job that needs a specialized tool. The Brownell’s tool kit shown at the top has many (not all) the tools you need for AR work, and it has some good and overlooked necessities (non-marring vise jaws and an FSB block go a long way towards making you “not Bubba.”). But here are a few secrets Brownell’s won’t tell you (although you can pick them up if you read the reviews judiciously).

  1. The tools in the kit aren’t always the best ones. (They’re always OK, though).
  2. It’s nice to have a box with cutouts for the key tools, but the box itself is cheap molded polyethylene, and you can save $150 by skipping it. That’s more than 10% the price of the whole set, for the lowest quality item in it.
  3. You can actually detail strip and reassemble an AR, apart from four seldom-needed things, without any of the tools shown here. The AR is so well-designed for assembly that you can do it with a dummy cartridge or a wrong-caliber cartridge (for safety), or even use the firing pin if you don’t have a cartridge, although we don’t recommend using the firing pin as it may mar the wider pins. The parts you need tools to disassemble are: barrel from barrel extension (especially to reassemble), FSB from barrel and return, staked key from carrier, staked receiver extension (buffer tube) from receiver (and it’s good to have a torque wrench for receiver extension reassembly).
  4. These tools are not “everything”. You’ll still need headspace gages (unless your name begins with “Bub” and ends with “ba”), a good bench vise or machinists vise (quality costs here), and if you’re dealing with old barrels (and who isn’t) a throat and muzzle erosion gage, which is a very costly precision gage, and a straightness gage (although you don’t need a gage to identify a barrel that’s not straight by the shadows in the rifling). By comparison, Brownell’s kit for the FNH SCAR 16/17S includes both 7.62 and 5.56 headspace gages and a barrel straightness gage.

Since you still need some expensive things even with the $1,500 armorers kit, consider a much less expensive kit from Wheeler Engineering (also available from Brownell’s, and, we think, Midway). However, Brownell’s kits are made mostly from US tools, and Wheeler doesn’t say where their stuff is made; and the Brownell’s click torque wrench, for example, seems to be higher quality than the Wheeler beam one. (As a rule of thumb, click-type wrenches are more accurate than beam type but are more vulnerable to losing calibration, especially if stored improperly). Fortunately, the torque requirements for AR parts are quite wide-ranging, at least, according to the M16 and M4 maintenance documents.

While we’ve used AR-specific examples, most of what we’ve said about tools is just as applicable if you’re working on 1911s, Smith & Wesson revolvers, or a Brown Bess (for the latter, you should probably make your own screwdrivers, as each maker made his own screws and the slot sizes are all over the place — plus, many have been Bubba’d in the last couple of centuries).

Us your judgment first. Then use the right tool, in accordance with your judgment. And you’ll never be Bubba.

* In case you didn’t figure this out already, Ruritania is a fictional country, FAL handguards do not have bushings, and if they did, it’s hard to imagine what a Ruritanian FAL handguard bushing no-go gage would look like, or what page of the Brownell’s catalog it would be on. It’s just an expression

Vikings and Women in Combat


They were just like this, we’re sure of it. However, she needs to fire her Personal Protective Equipment designer.

There’s a new round of nonsense out there about women in combat, stemming originally from a catastrophic reading comprehension error made by a pseudonymous writer for the painfully-politically-correct fantasy fiction website, The idjit, blinded by visions of Vikingettes from, we are not making this up, a television show that we think runs on the Gullible Alien Show Watchers Channel, misread a paper that says half of the burials of Viking-era settlers were women as saying that half of Viking warriors were women.

We won’t bother to fisk this anonymidiocy; open-source legend Eric S. Raymond has already done so with the speed and power of a war-axe letting light into some dim social-justice-campaigner’s brain case.

I’m calling bullshit. Males have, on average, about a 150% advantage in upper-body strength over females. It takes an exceptionally strong woman to match the ability of even the average man to move a contact weapon with power and speed and precise control. At equivalent levels of training, with the weight of real weapons rather than boffers, that strength advantage will almost always tell.

Supporting this, there is only very scant archeological evidence for female warriors (burials with weapons). There is almost no such evidence from Viking cultures, and what little we have is disputed; the Scythians and earlier Germanics from the Migration period have substantially more burials that might have been warrior women. Tellingly, they are almost always archers.

To be able to swing a sword in a battlefield, you need to be in the condition to, say, swing a baseball bat. How many women have broken into pro ball? Oh, none. The patriarchy, right? Thing is, when the major leagues opened up to previously-excluded black ballplayers after World War II, the level of play in the leagues exploded higher as previously untapped black talent surged into the leagues. Nobody has any illusions that female Jackie Robinsons are out there in baseball,

Archery too meant a different thing 1000 years ago. The average man could not draw an English longbow, let alone control in and fire arrows accurately with it, without both archery-specific and strength training. These non-compound bows were high tech for the period, but they required a strong man: the draw weight of a longbow could be 200 lbs.

No single weapon requires that degree of physical strength simply to operate, except of course for contact weapons, which remain in use (yes, we have had guys knife-fight, fight hand-to-hand, and have to pistol-whip enemies) but are no longer primary. But the thing is, combat isn’t a half-hour sporting match. It can be months at a time of physical activity to the edge of muscle failure.

This process has been accelerated by the end of DADT. As we’d always predicted, gay men are not flocking to the decidedly non-fabulous world of infantry combat, but humorless bull dykes, already a “thing” in the female officer corps, are on the march. They’re not gay, as the saying goes, they’re angry, and it’s all the fault of the “patriarchy.”

That would be us.

Look, there are many excellent military careers open to, and ably served by, women. (And nobody cares who they go home and crawl under the covers with, much. It’s a free country). But the social experiment of women in ground combat is one where the only doubt about the outcome is which of an array of possible bad endings the experiment will have.

And the only certainty about the experiment, apart from its certain failure, is that those currently pushing it harder will react to the failure by making discussion of that failure a thoughtcrime, and pushing it harder still.

Now with mythological Viking warriorettes, to go with their other examples from myth and legend, and, of course, television.

Saturday Matinee 2014 038: Shooter (2007)

shooter dvdWhen Mark Wahlberg was named to play the part of Marcus Luttrell in Lone Survivor, we cringed. Everybody we knew cringed. Everybody who knew Marcus really cringed. And one reason we cringed is because of this dreadful movie, featuring that same Wahlberg falling entire grid squares short of the compelling character created by Stephen Hunter in the novel Point of Impact

We were wrong about Wahlberg in Lone Survivor: he played Luttrell with grit and grace, and did honor to him and to the Teams. It was a good movie. So, considering that, we thought we’d give Shooter a second chance. Did it suck as badly as we remembered?

In a word, yes.

Shooter is, as mentioned, a botched adaptation of Point of Impact. There are a few (cough) differences: instead of a country-boy sniper steeped in patriotism and displaying an unrelenting intelligence, a guy that survived war by solving tactical puzzles, we have a low-brow sniper burned out on his country and his surface, a guy that survived war by being an unthinking, reflexive killing machine. Key supporting characters in the book are either bleached of all character (Nick Memphis, played as well as could be done with the lousy script by Michael Peña) or completely absent (Sam Vincent).

The villains, naturally, are the evil Bush and Cheney and a plot to start a war over, drumroll please, oil. This alternative plot is so poorly articulated as to leave audiences wondering, “WTF just happened for the last two hours?” And the character development is so lame as to leave themselves answering, “Whatever. Who cares?”

"I can haz explosion!" Hey, Wahlberg, Stallone called, he wants his Rambo XVILXIIV script back.

“I can haz explosion!” Hey, Wahlberg! Stallone called, he wants his Rambo XVILXIIV script back.

In the final, climactic assault, all the villains are clustered around chortling and cackling about the success of their cartoonishly evil plan when Swagger drops the cinematic hammer on them. It’s like something out of High School of the Performing Arts remedial scriptwriting class. Fortunately, there was an enormous budget for special effects, so lots of car crashes and explosions substitute for the plot that isn’t there.

Wahlberg shooter

Antoine Fuqua just doesn’t have the intelligence or talent to adapt a Hunter book, and Wahlberg doesn’t appear to have the intelligence or talent to play even a bowdlerized Swagger. A series of books has not become a series of films, because the initial adaptation was so incompetent.

Acting and Production

It’s hard to say whether the acting is bad, or whether it’s just that the parts are all written too small for anyone to play, even if he was half the weight of the ghost of Hervé Villechaize.

Apart from all the other distractions and tweaks gumming up the script, the major shift of Swagger from Vietnam vet to current warrior empties a great deal of the character’s depth. His alcoholism (and ongoing recovery from same) is a recurrent theme of all the Swagger books, and it’s simply blown off here. Swagger in the books is a man with a community and a family. Instead, we have Swagger as John Rambo — not-too-bright, damaged loner. This same script could have been First Blood XVIIXLIV or whatever. Indeed, Stallone should probably sue these guys, except that if they keep making movies like this, they’re going to wind up judgment-proof.

rambo wahlberg

Even the action setpieces — Fuqua’s strength in, say, Training Day – come across as phoned-in and clichéd.

A lot of money was spent on this film. Apart from the crash cars and the pyro, it was mostly wasted.

Accuracy and Weapons

You would expect a movie that has a sniper for a hero and precision marksmanship at the root of both his problems and his solutions to have been made with care to get shooting scenes, terminology, and physics right. You’d be wrong. A list of errors would double the size of this review, no, treble it; some of them are listed on the IMDB page. It’s easier to just say nothing is right. 

The sniper stuff in the book wasn’t completely accurate, but literally nothing is right in the film. (900 yard shots with an M203? And they couldn’t even be bothered to find a realistic-looking mockup of an M203). In places, the budget was so low, or the director so careless, that the good guys and bad guys seem to use the same gun in the same scene. They couldn’t make the Barrett work with blanks so Wahlberg cycles it by hand. He snipes a moving helicopter through a 10x scope. He fires a supposed 1 mile shot hitting a soup can, but can’t explain sniper terminology, just rattles off a vocabulary list at one point.

The supposed one mile shot setup.

The supposed one mile shot setup.

We don’t know if they hired an Airsoft kiddie to do the gun stuff, or what, but it’s bad enough that Airsoft forms a plausible explanation for the accuracy of the gun stuff here — that’s how bad it is.

The bottom line

Shooter fails on almost every level.

It certainly bothered us that it demeans vets as (1) blockheaded dunces who serve cruel and evil leaders unthinkingly, and (2) helpless victims who are abused by an evil, not-worth-saving country. It’s not the worldview of Hunter’s novel, so all this negativity was imposed by the producers, director, and writer, and so it must be presumed to reflect their worldview. Can anyone have aught but pity for them? Surrounded by today’s vets, they can’t see them, so imprisoned are they in their imaginary world.

But perhaps worst of all, it’s not very entertaining. The more you know about shooting, the more you know combat, the more distracted you are by the film’s many failings and flaws.

There are a lot of bad films about snipers and sniping, but Shooter stands far above them as the one deserving the superlative: worst.

Unfortunately, it’s not dead yet. Paramount is planning to expand the movie into a series with Wahlberg, according to Deadline Hollywood. We normally don’t want creatives’ brainchildren to be strangled in the crib, but here’s one we’d make an exception for. Unless they bring in either Hunter or Luttrell (preferably both) to keep it on track, and make it more like the Wahlberg we saw in Lone Survivor than the bozo we saw in Shooter. 

For more information

These sites relate to this particular film.

  • DVD page:

  • IMDB page:

  • IMFDB page:

  • Rotten Tomatoes review page: as you might expect, it’s rotten.

  • Wikipedia  page:

What happened to this abused child?

This is a passage from a book of nonfiction by a guy who is, unusually, celebrated both for his award-winning fiction and for his award-winning novels. (He’s also an Army combat veteran, a fact modestly omitted from his book-flap bio). It describes how a child was disciplined. The only change we have made was to substitute generic terms or pronouns for proper names.

His father was old-fashioned, a firm believer that beatings were a part of the boys education. These were administered with such regularity that he was once thrashed, following [a notorious murder], merely because he questioned the notion of his own mortality and eternity. In particular, he became suddenly dismayed by the thought that if he died the world would simply go on without him, and he would be forgotten, and that would be the end of it and of him. His father’s reasoning for beating him was that abstract concepts such as these were better with to his father and other adults rather then occupy important time in a 10-year-old’s mind.

Boy, that sounds rough. And he obviously remembered it, for it to have a place in his biography. Must have scarred the kid for life, don’t you think? Probably made an utter ruin of the boy. What do you think happened to this abused child? Let’s take a poll!

What happened to this abused kid? free polls


Answer in a separate post (along with the ID of the book) at circa 1800 EDT today.

Don’t Drone Me, Bro

cyborg unplugAh, what will they think of next? A New Zealand entrepreneur has come up with a small unit called Cyborg Unplug that you can use to kick such users as drones and Google Glass wearers off your network.

They warn that you might be liable for what occurs afterward… like the Google Glass guy collapsing into catatonia because his feed stopped.

 Billed as a “wireless anti-surveillance system,” Unplug is, essentially, a portable router that can detect drones, surveillance cameras and mobile tech like Glass trying to access your Wi-Fi signal and boot them off of it.

“Whether business office, restaurant, school or nightclub: it’s your territory and your rules, so make it harder for those that seek to abuse it,” Cyborg’s website reads.
That’s Unplug’s stated purpose, anyway. But, as its creators freely note, it also has an “All Out Mode” that would let you knock devices off of any wireless network, not just yours.
The company says it doesn’t recommend doing that because … you know … it’s probably really, really illegal.

The company notes that the device is not a jammer, which blocks all digital signals in a particular area. Instead, it targets certain devices the user has identified. So, for example, you could tell Unplug that Glass is no bother, but drones and microphones need to be shut down. It uses the unique hardware signature that all Wi-Fi devices have to recognize what it’s seeing before sending a “deauthentication packet” blocking access.

via A gadget to knock drones, Google Glass offline –

Boy, there’s a great science fiction story to be written around the idea of a “deauthentication packet.” Where’s Philip K. Dick when you need him? Oh, yeah. Dead. Anyway, this device is pretty useless from a surveillance denial point of view, because the typical surveillant is not planning to use your router to stream his drone feed. It’s a parlor trick, albeit a clever one.

Cognitive Dissonance: A pro-gun article in Time

You know, TIME magazine, famous for wringing its editorial hands over whatever the latest trendy bullshit is.

You know, TIME magazine, famous for wringing its editorial hands over whatever the latest trendy bullshit is.

Thanks to Massad Ayoob, we came across this remarkable article by Dan Baum in Time magazine.

After we got over our first shock, that there still is Time magazine, we had the second shock from Mas recommending the article. Then, we got to the article, where the title was Shock Number 3, or maybe in deserves a Super-Bowl size Roman Numeral: Super Shock III. The title:

Letting Kids Shoot Guns Is Good for Them, by Dan Baum. 28 Aug 2014.

Holy Schnikeys. He said what? In Time magazine? That’s the equivalent of T-34s on Unter den Linden, as a marker of victory in the culture war. That’s the title, though. Was it meant sarcastically? Did the deck row it back? It did not, forsooth:

Marksmanship builds concentration, confidence and trust.

Holy — we said that already. But seriously, Baum makes points that we’ve all seen made before, but in The American Rifleman or Shooting Times. The magazine where this column appeared has a long history of bitter and vehement hostility to guns, gun rights, and gun owners, and to read this column was almost disturbing, in its feeling of having escaped its normal place to invade new habitat, like a gator in the Manhattan sewers. But it’s our gator.

A Google Images search for "TIME gun control cover" finds a few (score) that make it clear which side the mag's on.

A Google Images search for “TIME gun control cover” finds a few (score) that make it clear which side the mag’s usually on.

Add to that, that Baum writes well, clearly, and persuasively. The occasion of the article was the disaster of a range accident by a child conducting a range experience under the guidance of an instructor who made several fatal errors. You’ve certainly heard of the mishap and heard all the usual arguments about it, but Baum takes a radically different tack for someone in the legacy media.  A short taste of his argument near the leading edge of the article:

Shooting a rifle accurately requires children to quiet their minds. Lining up the sights on a distant target takes deep concentration. Children must slow their breathing and tune into the beat of their hearts to be able to squeeze the trigger at precisely the right moment. Holding a rifle steady takes large-motor skills, and touching the trigger correctly takes small motor skills; doing both at once engages the whole brain. Marksmanship is an exercise in a high order of body-hand-eye-mind coordination. It is as far from mindless electronic diversion as can be imagined.

Other activities build skills and concentration, too — archery, calligraphy, photography, painting — but shooting guns is in a class by itself precisely for the reason highlighted by last week’s accident: it can be deadly.

A single-shot .22, while easier to control than an Uzi, can kill you just as dead. So how can such rifles possibly be appropriate for use by children? Again, context is everything. Under proper instruction, shooting is a ritual. You do this for this reason and that for that reason, and you never, ever alter the process, because doing so is a matter of life and death. Learning to slow down and go through such essential steps can be valuable developmentally. The very danger involved gets children’s attention, as it would anybody’s. But there’s an added benefit to teaching children to shoot: it’s a gesture of respect for a group that doesn’t often get any.

It’s not terribly long, so do click over and Read The Whole Thing™. It’s a very insightful and remarkable article — one that may be better to the similar ones we’ve seen in our niche publications, and it will be read by a lot of grey-haired voters who otherwise get their news from the dim light of a TV screen.

It is all the more remarkable in that Baum is not a “gun guy,” and is an opponent of armed self defense and a supporter of gun owners. Here he is on his home ground, in Mother Jones: 

The NRA is a catastrophe for the country. It’s a catastrophe for gun owners because the face that the NRA puts on gun owners is an angry, intransigent, male, extremist, frightening scowl. It makes non-gun owners think anyone that owns a gun is that way because they are the only people who speak. It wasn’t always like this. The NRAgot taken over in 1977, and used to be a marksmanship and safety organization. This is a relatively recent phenomenon, and it’s a hideous organization.

Part of it may be an old white guy sense that the world is coming apart because old guys used to run the world and now they feel like they run the world no longer. So they just have to believe the chaos is real, and I think that could well be part of it. I think in many cases the desire to carry the gun comes first and later comes the belief that crime is out of control to justify carrying the gun.

The only thing that’s standing between a bunch of sportsmen together at a range enjoying a nice afternoon pursuing their hobby and a mass killing the whole country will be grieving over is the personal choices of the people at the range.

So you see, he’s neither one of us, nor an ally. He supports registration and licensing, and bans on private manufacture, sales and loans, although he opposes “assault-weapon” and magazine bans; and he opposes armed self defense, even in the home. He himself says he has a, “liberal collectivist worldview.” So the article in Time is even more remarkable, for it’s an argument against all his natural political and media allies. It is an article it took moral courage to write, and you don’t see that every day.

As to the question of the ill-fated instructor Charles Vacca and the 9-year-old with the Mini Uzi, we haven’t addressed it because we think it’s pretty obvious. Mr Vacca made a couple of terrible errors, and died for it. A terrible tragedy for him and his family, and no doubt he never intended such an outcome. Our guess is that the girl will be fine, in the long run. It wasn’t her fault and no decent human, and especially no firearms instructor, could ever say it was. Kids are pretty resilient, if their grown-ups don’t lose their grip. (How many perfectly normal victims of childhood trauma do you know? The answer probably is, “More than you think.”) As to the various people arguing about “Age 9 is too young for…”, what a bizarre, collective argument. Have you no kids? No nephews or nieces? Hell’s bells, no recollections from your own childhood? One child at 9 is physically strong, another feeble and uncoordinated. One is a sensible instruction-follower, another willful and impulsive. Every child is an individual, and has to be treated as one. Sure, some kids hew close to the median, but not on everything. There are many lessons to be learnt from the mishap, but to us the first is: treat every new shooter as an individual, and trust only after you verify.

Not having a gerontologist to go to, we’ll probably never see an issue of Time again. But to see this there was… otherworldly. It was followed by more common Time content: a puff piece about Hillary!, an article following the yoga twists of the Administration’s leading-from-behind Middle East policy, and praising its brilliance with the dewy-eyed fanboy fervor of a Wobbly following Stalin in 1939. So its presence was even more jarring, because it’s not part of an overall change of the tired old rag.