Category Archives: Administrivia

Sunday Spending

Today, we’re treating a group of five to a chance to participate in a Box Office wave: let’s set some records for Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, and, not least, Chris and Taya Kyle.

Cost of tickets for five at the IMAX central to our locations: $82.50. No wonder box office records are higher each year, so are the ticket prices. Still, we are expecting to get value for our money. The reviews are generally positive (true, The New Republic’s assclown’s review was bitterly negative, but it turns out he reviewed it without seeing it. #Journalism). But what’s really driving attendance is word of mouth and stratospheric Cinemascores (audience ratings).

Even if the movie stank, seeing it with old friends and a couple of impressionable teen boys would be a blast anyway. But we’re expecting it not to stink.

Before that, we have the usual Sunday things, and one unusual one — peeling more blue plastic off sheet aluminum airplane parts. (If you leave the protective plastic on, the adhesive sets up hard in a couple of weeks, other builders have warned us).

This is what we’re building: Van’s RV-12. It’s an excellent, simple small plane (although “simple” is definitely relative when you’re lofting a forty-pound box of rivets, every one of which one of you will have to install before this thing flies). For those lacking the DIY gene, or perhaps the patience, to build, the factory will put one together for you, for a reasonable price (again, this is relative).

Right now, it doesn’t look like much. We’ve only got the tail kit in the shop (from which, we will build the rudder, vertical stabilizer, stabilator, and the tailcone of the fuselage from behind the cabin), and it looks like a lot of sheet metal parts that need a bunch of deburring, drilling, countersinking, not to mention priming, before being clecoed together as test assemblies, and then finally riveted.

Embarrassing true story. The Blogbrother has never riveted Thing One in his life. So we demonstrated how to rivet two washers together with an Avex pull rivet (aka pop rivet). POP!

And all the parts went in different directions. We’d absently picked up a rivet where the shop head wound up smaller than the ID of the washers we were demonstrating with… ¡estupido! Our reputation for Papal-echelon infallibility in matters aeronautical just took a hit.

That Was the Week that Was: 2015 Week 03

That was the week that was TW3This is our first TW3 of 2015. We got ahead of the wave for a moment this weekend, so here it is. We’re going to keep this brief, like a well-run Saudi beheading, and not drawn out and painful, like a Taliban one.

While we’ve enjoyed using the pretty lady from the original TW3 TV show (well, the American one, we think), she’s got to be 75 if she’s a day now, and she’s black and white, so we’re thinking of getting a new TW3 girl, along with some other new art.

The Boring Statistics

This week wasn’t anything too special. We posted 25 posts, and a total of about 17,000 words. If there were any milestones, we didn’t see them. Comments were light at 148 so far. mean and median post length were 702 and 485 respectively. The long post on the VT fuze on Tuesday (From the Academy to the Arsenal) drove the mean up and away from the median.

Comments

We had some great comments, but as we mentioned, not many. The most commented post was Poly-Ticks: Anti-Gun AG Threatened with Indictment in PA on Thursday, the story of extreme anti-gunner Kathleen Kane’s trouble with laws against corruption, but even it had only 15 comments at press time.

The Week in Posts

Here’s the recap of our posts for this week The links may not be live till later, maybe even tomorrow:

  • Sunday Settlement is our routine Sunday post.
  • OPSEC: A View from Fiction. Every once in a while a fictional character utters complete good sence. This is one of those times.
  • NY Times Misses a Detail: “What do we Want? Dead Cops!” <i>That</i> detail. That’s okay. Boston’s not a big college town.
  • We asked this when nothing seemed to be going on: Is this the Pre-SHOT News Blackout?
  • Continuing our series of reports from bleak trouble sports, we have the Official Report: the 507th Maintenance Fight
  • We described how Variable Time (proximity) fuzes made the leap, as their product did, From the Academy to the Arsenal.
  • What do you say when your personal flag uses only the center stripe of the tricolor? Je Suis Victor Charlie
  • Mike Pannone: Making an M4 Run like a Gazelle
  • Yikes. Magpul Launches 60-Round Drum. We weren’t expecting that.
  • It Looked Like an Assassination Attempt… but if so, this nutcase was doing it wrong.
  • Would it surprise you to learn of Another Gun Crime in a Gun-Free Zone
  • And we offer A Little More Info on VT Fuzes to follow up on the arsenal.
  • Tool-free maintenance goes a long way back. The Gun is its Own Tool Kit. — Browning ANM2.
  • Marine Women Continue to Excel… Just Not Enough to pass the Infantry Officers Course. Of course, the Army just declares them graduates and gives everybody a participation trophy.
  • Poly-Ticks: Anti-Gun AG Threatened with Indictment in PA. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving weasel.
  • We mention All the other stuff we get up to around here
  • In anticipation of a SHOT show, there’s Big News From MagPul: <i>Glock</i> Mags
  • The Army lets slip that Rangerettes are Official: Coming This Spring
  • In Case Gun Coverage Isn’t Slanted Enough… Bloomberg, the Columbia School of Yellow Journalism, and the Dart Center are running a course to teach reporters how to slant more cleverly.
  • If you read one thing about Stolen Valor this month… read Andrew Tuohy’s column at Vuurwapen Blog.
  • Park Rangers, historians, and people of the gun are all asking: Did this Rifle Sleep for a Century?
  • We have a short GhostGunner Update.
  • They pick a weekend to do their dirtiest work. Breaking: ATF Revokes Some Shoulder “Brace” Letters
  • We really do enjoy the movie reviews, so here’s Saturday Matinee 2015 03: Cocked, TV (2015)
  • That Was the Week that Was: 2015 Week 03 — that’s this post, so don’t expect a link.

Going Forward

We can’t promise you everything we’re working on, because life and other people have a vote over a lot of what we’re trying to do. We can promise to have fun with you.

All the other stuff we get up to around here

If posting’s been a bit erratic lately, it’s because other activities have been consuming a great deal of time.

One of them is work, and we’re preparing to hire a bunch of folks to teach some allied airmen something seemingly mundane, but absolutely critical — how to speak and understand technical English.

We have always said, “Work is a four-letter word. But so is cash.”

Next up has been the usual medical drills, personal and family alike, which seem to burn lots of precious time. And we’re still not un-grounded, despite a clean bill of health from various docs. Ah, bureaucracy.

And the final thing has been the cool one even though it’s completely non-gun-related. With Blogbrother, we’ve established the Rong Brothers Aeroplane Factory in the basement workshop at Hog Manor. And the first package of parts has arrived and been inventoried. Two small questions that arose on reading the plans for the RV-12 empennage have been resolved — mostly. And we’re wrangling out a solution to the paint booth problem, so that we can etch and alodine or epoxy prime the parts (the Atlantic seacoast is definitely a high-corrosion area).

So if posting’s slow as the snail version of the short school bus for a while, all these other things are pirating the time.

 

Sunday Settlement

So, we’re settled back in at home, but the new plan is that we’ll alternate as able, having at least one son present with the old folks for at least one week a month. Right now, more than that would be an imposition; less than that isn’t sufficient burden relief.

We have a pile of the other kind of settlement to do. It’s time to take a first run at 2014 taxes and clear up some historical K1 problems that have previous years’ taxes on extension. (If you’ve never extended, it’s not a good deal for you; you have to pay up front what you expect your liability to be, and if you guess low, they crucify you. So people overpay, which is like withholding or quarterlies: it’s a 0% loan to the Government, which is then mostly handed straight to the second most unproductive human beings on earth, welfare recipients, and the most unproductive, federal employees.

Then, there’s settling back into the home and office after a week away. Some subtle things are always changed, and some are quite the same, and they’re never the ones you expect. Through the miracle of modern commercial aviation we covered 1,600 miles or so in three hours, with an addition four hours for ground hassles and delays on both ends, which is normal. The guy who cracks the airport nut will make himself insanely rich, but now that the mall ninjas of the TSA are involved most progress in airport ground operations is impossible forevermore.

There are other settlements. What is the value of the blog? We’re not inclined to monetize it. If we made readers pay, that would mean fewer readers, and we write to be read, not for money alone. If we packed it full of ads all the fun would go out of it, and have you noticed that there’s almost an inverse relationship between quantity of intrusive net advertising, and quality of product? We could add a tip jar but that reminds us of an NPR telethon. “Send us money so we can continue to produce state-controlled broadcasting in the spirit of Djugashvili!”

Eh. So none of the ideas appeal, and we continue to make money the old, analog way, at least until our rendezvous with the LaBrea tar pits or what have you.

A Sunday of Service

We’re away from home, but we’re not. No, we’re not all zen-via-Jackie-Chan. There’s nothing symbolic or paradoxical about that at all, because the thing is, we’re at the folks’ home.

Aging parents are Just One Of Those Things™. Everybody our age has got ‘em, and knows the delight you feel when someone has such a good day, she forgets she’s beaten down by endless rounds of dialysis and having to suck generated oxygen through mostly-dead lungs.

Everyone our age has got ‘em, and knows the heartache of seeing someone who was strong as Kong getting his ass kicked by a pill-bottle cap.

It’s good just to help, it turns out. It does a soul good. And God knows they were there through the kids’ diseases, dead pets, ER visits, romantic rejections, romantic successes (more costly in the long run), professional triumphs and tragedies, and personal ones.

God knows there’s a debt owing.

It is meet that it be paid.

Just one of those things, you know.

Some Predictions for 2015

In WeaponsMan.com and the Gun World:

  • We’ll get the Afghanistan Tribute M4 finished
  • The ongoing WWI Centenary will spark interest in Great War weapons.
  • Manufacturing and fabrication technology will continue to be powered down to the little guy. This is a macro trend whose shape and consequences are hard to imagine.
  • We’ll be somewhat distracted by Rong Brothers Airplane Factory activities. The first kit (empennage) arrives at Hog Manor this coming Friday — Blogbrother and Kid are on their own to get it into the shop.

Elsewhere on the Net:

  •  The gun people and anti-gun people will continue to talk past each other.
  • The anti-gun folks will continue to apply asymmetric warfare concepts to keep their weak organizations alive and win what victories they can, all the while never losing sight of their totalitarian dream.
  • They will try to use deceptively labeled initiative petitions, and
  • They will pursue backdoor registration through medical approaches.
  • Trolls still gonna troll.

Here on the ground in New Hampster

  • More and more people will give up their land lines, as a new election season spreads like herpes across the Granite State, and the annoying surveys, pollsters, and robocalls crank up to 11.
  • More and more people will move in. (Two of the last horse fields, and the one last large piece of undeveloped land, in our little burg are under construction). Will they be pro-gun folks fleeing oppression, or more Massholes fleeing taxes, but demanding the same loopy social services that produced those taxes in the first place? Time will tell.

In These United States

  • The 2nd Amendment Penumbras (in Glenn Reynolds’s prescient term) will continue to expand, forcing reluctant authorities to recognize more gun rights.
  • The anti-gun wealthy will spend heavily to prepare the battlefield for initiative petitions in 2016, and will finance bogus “medical research” by activist doctors.
  • New leaks and investigations will expose more instances of ATF and FBI acting as partisan political police.
  • The DOJ and DHS will reorganize their criminal investigators; a couple smaller agencies may soon be gone, and others may lose missions (all Secret Service’s investigation missions going to other agencies is a good bet. IRS losing all its armed investigators is a more remote possibility. ATF was on the bubble, but is no longer that vulnerable. None of this is going to be firm for a while, and the whole thing may be binned if a new AG is confirmed.

In the Important Parts of the World

  • Britain will quietly reevaluate its 70-year trend of an ever-smaller and more-sketchily-outfitted professional military, in the light of new threats to Britons in the metropolitan archipelago as well as in overseas territories, notably the Falklands. The problem is always resources.
  • Japan’s rearmament will take two paths — an overt rebuilding of air and naval power, and a clandestine preparation of nuclear armament, should it be necessary. They won’t actually go there — they’ll make ready to go there, if they need to. And they’ll shudder if they have to.
  • Western Europe will continue cutting defense.
  • A terrorist attack in a Nordic country will shake decades of consensus on immigration.
  • Russia will digest the Ukrainian provinces it has eaten for a while. The Ukrainian populations will be ethnically cleansed; meanwhile, it will get tougher for Russian ethnics in some of the border republics, where it’s already been tough for them since the end of the USSR. This is the spark of the next problem.
  • Lower oil prices mean financial ruin for Venezuela and damage for Iran.

In Afghanistan and the Middle East

  • The remaining prisoners, released from Gitmo, will join their predecessors in committing new acts of terror.
  • Both Afghanistan and Iraq will plumb new depths of barbarity in 2015.

All in all, the most depressing kind of forecast: an interesting year. Hope you’ll see it in, and out, with us.

 

Three Years (and a Million Hits in 2014) for WeaponsMan.com

Gun cake! From CakeCentral.com.

Gun cake! From CakeCentral.com.

Happy birthday to us, it’s good to be us.

WeaponsMan.com went live on 1 Jan 2012 with a post we called, “Signal to Noise Ratio,” setting out the philosophy behind WeaponsMan. We wrote:

Here’s how we’re going to try to keep the S/N high on here.

  1. Stick to what we actually know
  2. Document and source facts where we can
  3. Explain the reasoning, as well as source the facts, behind our opinions.

It’s really not ours to say whether we hit that X-Ring or not. But we know our intent to keep the blog apolitical and above the fray collapsed when we were attacked in late 2012 by anti-gun forces of the media and politics, and saw a number of Quislings in our own ranks flushed out. We’d rather talk tech, and we definitely don’t want to be just another site with predictable political rants.

We’d rather throw unpredictable weapons facts at you. But we’re not going to roll over and play dead in the face of billionaire enemies who look at the Gestapo and see, not a chilling lesson, but a model of police work and domestic surveillance deserving emulation. To hell with that. We were too young to fight the Nazis, but spent a long time fighting their soul brothers, the Communists. And we’ll fight their fifth columns at home.

That said, through 3,248 live posts (counting this one), we have tried to keep the site entertaining and informative. To that end, we posted about 30 Saturday Matinee movie reviews, as well as our When Guns Are Outlawed series where we look at some of the gunless ways people have for doing mayhem unto themselves, loved ones, or perfect strangers.

Over the years, we increased our post rate to the point where we post four posts most days, except for Christmas and maybe Thanksgiving Day. We would not be shocked to see that roll back to two or three posts a day in 2015, as we have more analog stuff to do. In 2014, we posted about 1,360 posts containing about 950,000 words, or about ten genre novels’ worth (or one Russian novel). We’re still going to give you at least one gun tech, history or usage post, and one military, SOF or warfare post, every working day.

A Million Hits on Our Humble Blog

Yes, we did get a million hits in 2014. The actual total was 1,081,435, and there was a period of six weeks (from 1 Sept 14 to 14 Oct 14) that we collected no data, so the real total was probably more like 1.2 million. (We only have unique visitor numbers from 14 Oct, and they come to 341,740).

Thank you guys! That includes the regular readers, the commenters (who are kind of like the corps d’elite of readers, no?), and especially the many fine folks from many fine sites that have mentioned us, linked to us, or gotten into pissing contests in our comments.

What are some good goals for 2015? Maybe we need some New Years’ Resolutions.

Sunday Ave atque Vale for the Year 2014

On a blog we read from time to time, one of the team posted this remarkable sentiment: “Good Riddance, 2014.” This is the last Sunday we’ll have in 2014, and as usual at year’s end, we’re taking that arbitrary1 point in time to look back. And we cannot have such a bleak view of the year that has passed.

Gun Technology in 2014

On gun technology, we’ve seen the proving-out of customer Tracking Point systems, something we find very interesting. Meanwhile, historic firearms continue to be resuscitated, with GunLab’s VG 1-5 at the ATF’s Firearms Technology Branch for approval even as we write these words. Sure, it’s a limited production thing, but a gun that only a few museums have ever held is going to be in private collections in a working, and little changed except for legally-required modifications, replica. We’ve seen the continued explosion of manufacturing technology for the little guy: industrial processes like injection molding are now in reach for the small or home shop, while advanced prototyping and additive manufacturing tools are taking off like computers in the 1980s.

Meanwhile, hobbyists pursuing firearms design, engineering, and manufacturing have never had more information, more tools, and more options than now.

The Gun Market in 2014

Ammunition returned to stores and internet sellers, with the notable exception of rimfire, which remains scarce and high-priced; and while prices are higher than before the 2012 political and media gun-ban push began, they’re at a stable equilibrium, and you can find everything.

Some manufacturers and dealers who overextended themselves in the post-2012 boom have had to retrench, but sales remain at very high levels. Some of the new entrant and non-traditional customers behave differently from our historic customers, but many of them don’t; a significant percentage of them become gun-of-the-month club, avid shooters.

The pace of innovation in gun developments slowed even as it accelerated on the manufacturing side. Your gun buyer tends to be small-c conservative, that is to say, old-fashioned, and new ideas take time to catch on. (It has taken a generation for polymer-framed pistols to go from curiosity to mainstream).

Politics and the Gun Culture

On the legal and political front, 2014 had some wins, as some of the predictions in law professor Glenn Reynolds’s “Second Amendment Penumbras” article have come to pass exactly has he has foreseen, and the vast majority of high-profile anti-gun candidates in competitive districts went down in flames. The one big victory for the zillionaires who would disarm all but their own Praetorians was in the Washington initiative petition, where they managed to win on the strength of a politically favorable jurisdiction, deceptive advertising, and — to be brutally frank — ineffective opposition.

They are nowhere near giving up: the human impetus to enslave your fellow man is a strong one, and it drives people like Mike Bloomberg, Ladd Everitt, Josh Sugarmann, and Shannon What’s-her-face. They believe, based on the legislative history of things like the Hughes Amendment and the Nazi-derived Sporting-Purposes Test, that they only have to win once, while we have to win every time. That’s the challenge, and we have to face it, because they’re not going to give up their dream of absolute power over you, not while they’re on this side of the Judgment Day they consider a quaint superstition. The same urge drove our enemies past, and most of them are unknown today. Unless you have been defending gun rights for decades, names like WWII draft dodger Howard Metzenbaum, crooked senator Thomas Dodd (the who copied Nazi laws), trust-fund columnist Cleveland Amory, shifty William Hughes and more mean nothing to you. But these evil men once drove gun policy in the United States.

Yet — the gun-ban regime that the Hugheses and Metzenbaums worked for has never been more in retreat, nor has the gun culture ever been more ascendant. More Americans (and more citizens of other nations, too) have more access to their rights to own arms and defend themselves than at any time since Jim Crow ushered in gun laws in the late 1860s. A number of those victories took place, under the media radar, in 2014, in municipalities and state houses, but also outside the political sphere, where someone took a nervous housewife, or musician, or white-collar worker to a range for the first time, and empowered him or her quite literally. Just incidentally demystifying firearms and teaching that their owners are not necessarily some 300-lb neckbeard brandishing a tapco’d-out piece of stamped crap in Starbucks, but normal and healthy neighbors and friends, engaging in a variety of enjoyable activities. That is why we have won so much, that is why we are still winning, and that is why we will win further in 2015.

UW in 2014

We’ve seen a continued retreat from US responsibilities worldwide, and an abandonment of the troops in the field by their soi-disant betters, the Acela Corridor crowd. These things are without much in the way of counterweight, but note that in Iraq, Kurds, Shias and downtrodden Sunnis have nervously banded together and held a line everyone expected to see fray. In Libya, Syria and Egypt, misguided US support for Islamists has failed utterly, leaving the nation in better hands (Egypt) or has failed partially (Libya and Syria), leaving the nation in chaos, which still beats Islamist slavery.

Most of the militant dystopias of the world share a single vulnerability: they depend for their power on oil revenue. US oil production, despite attempts by NIMBYs2 and BANANAs3 to curtail it, has grown, and the Saudis have put downward pressure on oil prices for their own reasons.

Of course, when one applies pressure to a system with weaknesses, what happens is more amenable to analysis after the fact, than prediction before. But anything that works to disarm the destabilizing leaders of the world is, on balance, a good thing.

We can predict this: it’s going to be an interesting year ahead.

Notes

  1. Arbitrary? Well, yeah. The merciless savages who celebrated the solstice, and phases of the moon, had more connection to rational, physical processes, than we do when we make a big deal about January 1, a date that owes its name to one of the least of the forgotten pagan gods of a fallen empire. Then again, maybe that is our connection, not to the physical world but to our own ancestors as civilized humans. For we’re all the inheritors of the Romans and Greeks even if our personal bloodlines are African, Australian-aboriginal, or Inuit.
  2. A moderate “environmentalist,” the most usual kind; driven by selfishness to pull the boarding-ladder up: Not In My Back Yard.
  3. An extreme “environmentalist,” typically leaders of the movement; Luddites whose war cry is: Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything.

Please Note New Page: Gun Design Books

Please note the new page, Gun Design Books and Resources. It went live at 0600 this morning, but because it’s a permanent Page rather than an ephemeral Post, it doesn’t post to the main page. (We’re probably missing some obvious way to make it do this).

You can access it from the margin of the site, above, or by simply clicking the link in this sentence.

It is our intent to provide a comprehensive listing of books for the would-be gun designer or design engineer. We’re aware that we’re a long way from comprehensive as it stands, and we even have some sections that are unpopulated, apart from headings. But we believe that we have listed the key resources available, both online and in hard copy, with a bias towards currently in-print or available sources.

We’re also very, very interested in your suggestions for additions.

We hope you find the page enjoyable and informative.

Starting to Look Back on WeaponsMan’s 2014

We may or may not do a real year-end wrap-up. We’re doing analog stuff right now and won’t be on the computer much; there will just be a single post Christmas Day, much like we do on Sundays, although this one will be a post that tells a Christmas story.

It’s not a unique or rare story, really. One suspects many of our readers have a similar one , or their fathers do.

We had a busy 2014. When the dust settles, we will have posted over 1,300 posts, containing over 90,000 words of ad-free content — about the length of a short-end-of-average genre paperback. We will have received around 9,000 comments (although that count includes trackbacks and our replies). We will have discussed hundreds and hundreds of weapons, from arms and armor of antiquity to the science-fiction armaments now being made real in labs and workshops.

We actually spent much less range time in 2014 than in 2013. That’s a bad trend that we will look to reverse. On the other hand, we did welcome some interesting new hardware and tools, and have even more cool stuff on order.

We wasted too many recycled pixels, we think, on politics and on international affairs, but both of them have been rather fraught as of late. The US is underperforming the disastrous Ford & Carter years of the 1970s in the world, and that’s a failure that translates to real people losing their lives and their freedom — as it did in the 1970s. We thought it would be bad, although we didn’t know how bad. What does that make us, some even-worse Cassandra who didn’t believe our own prophecies?

In any event, a machine off center can only center itself, or destroy itself through vibration. Interesting times lie ahead.

We would like to think we upheld the standards of our Regiment, but only the Regiment can judge that; we wouldn’t be so presumptuous to make the claim.