Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hurricane Gustav

Xavier has some coverage of hurricane Gustav.

I wonder if George Bush is personally down there nailing plywood over people's windows, like he was apparently supposed to do with Katrina...

I mean... How else are they going to be prepared?


Ok, my S&W 442 shoots sparks from the firing pin when I dry fire it.


Vote McCain / Heart Attack 2008

A conservative's choice is clear;

Vote McCain.

Then vote Heart Attack.

Friday, August 29, 2008

2008 Corona, Ca. Appleseed

I saw the event scheduled a few months ago, and after a bit of research decided to go. I'll be attending with a friend who is somewhat new to rifle shooting.

I'll be there October 18th and 19th. If you're also attending, let me know!

I'm not going so I can shoot on the move, fire from cover, practice tactics for the urban long gun, engage in life-fire stress training, or learn how to set punji stick traps. I don't care if Fred once said to someone who knows someone who knows my ex-brother-in-law's neighbor's gardener's wife that he was a jelly donut.

I'm going to learn techniques to improve my marksmanship.

Because that's the service offered.

They use slings in their training, which somehow makes people dubious. "A sling?! The devil you say! Harumph! Harumph! Harumph!" When I started learning to shoot (not to pull the trigger; to actually shoot) I didn't even know you could USE a sling to steady your rifle in prone, sitting, and standing positions. After I bought Art of the Rifle by Jeff Cooper, I learned about the shooting sling and how highly he regarded it. At the time, though, I practiced his other techniques and eschewed the shooting sling as an anachronism. But that didn't stop me from picking up two cheap ones from the next gun show. After a few false starts, and a bit of practice revisiting Col. Cooper's tips, I realized that I could hold a rifle in the prone position as steadily as I could from a bench.

Anyone who argues there is no value in that is flat-out wrong.

Of course, none of the above has a damn thing to do with my primary reason for attending the Appleseed program. Which is; of course, "Because I feel like it." So don't bother wringing your hands or stamping your feet. I'll attend, and report my experiences.

If it sucked; I'll tell you.
If the guys were douches; I'll tell you.
If it was a waste of time and money for my current skill level; I'll tell you.
If they tried to indoctrinate me into a sling-related cult; I'll tell you.
If I had a great time and would recommend it to anyone interested in improving their riflecraft; I'll still tell you.

I bought a 10/22 for it, because 500 rounds of 5.56 at $0.45 is more than a new 10/22, and this range only allows the 25 yard training. I may bring the m39 out for the second day. I would bring the AR, but I can't do mag changes without being sent to prison. (Whoopsie! You're a felon!) The Space Gun would have been too oddly shaped to get practice that would transfer to other rifles. (Besides, I don't think I'd even be able to sling up with it...)

Looking forward to the event, and the practice I'll do leading up to it.

E-mail referrals and Jennifer Connelly

Sitemeter shows referrals so you can see what pages link to your pages. This is pretty useful, because you can tell when forums link to your posts, or see the search terms that prominently display your page. You can also see when people see your page, and actually e-mail them to friends. This seems to be pretty rare, since people usually reserve e-mail for stuff recipients can disprove on snopes later, so seeing those referrals has some kind of significance to me.

The usual ones are expected ones like, Why own guns?, 40 Reasons to ban guns, and The Walking Dead. Others include links to posts that have funny or odd videos, expected stuff that people might send to their family or friends to change minds or for a bit of amusement.

Jennifer Connelly, however was not one of the posts I had expected to be e-mailed around. It's just a picture with a few words of... approval. Not anything to write other people about. But since I've posted it, I've seen four e-mail referrals to it. Hopefully I'm spreading the word about JC. (link removed for extreme NSFW-age!)

Additionally, Jennifer (we're on a first name basis now :P) is starring in the new The day the Earth stood still. Apparently she was the director's first choice for the role. More JC love. :)

Here's some screencaps from the trailer.

Oh yeah...

The Palin Pick

SR has a good read and a good link.

Soooooo... Is it wrong to hope for a heart attack?

Just kidding! Just kidding!




Thursday, August 28, 2008

Criminals for gun control

Well done video.

From Xavier

Sign of the times in California

"For Lease" signs are everywhere.

Our office is located in a industrial area of Irvine, and as I leave for lunch I see every building on the street has space to lease.

No surer indicator of economic times.

I really want to stay in California, and I'll bend quite a few degrees backwards to stay here, but if there is no work here, there's really no way around that.

Keep squeezing California.

Pretty soon there won't be anything left to squeeze.

Quote of the microstamping

Fast forward to the summer of 2012:
"Hi, is this Mr. Bill Johnson, of 149 Elmwood Drive in Albany?"

"Yes it is. Who's this?"

"This is Detective Schifferbreins with the Boston Police Department. We recovered some shell casings at the scene of our city's latest homicide, and we traced them back to the Smith & Wesson .45-caliber handgun you reported stolen five years ago."

"Wow, that's amazing!"

"I know. It's this great new microstamping technology that made it all possible."

" were able to catch the bastard who broke into my house, raped my wife, and stole my guns while I was out of town?"

"Well, um...not exactly."

"Oh. Well, did you catch the shooter from the homicide you're investigating?"

"Um...not exactly."

"But, you have a good idea who it was, right?"

"Um..not exactly"

"Oh. Well, did you recover the gun?"

"Um...not exactly."

"Oh. Well, when you do, can I have it back?"

"What are you, retarded?"

The marvels of microstamping. Old, but sadly still relevant from Bruce.

Quote of the military surplus firearms

For every "cosmo queen", there is a rifle with a battered stock and a little wear that has a story to tell. Holding a surplus rifle, you can imagine what it was like to carry it into battle. You can picture what life was like for the man who depended on that weapon with his life. Did he clean it and care for it? Or did he toss it aside after a hard days march or fighting? Perhaps it saw the rubble of Stalingrad or Berlin or the icy snows outside Moscow? You may never know the story but someone, somewhere carried a rifle like it with all their hopes and dreams along with it. And perhaps died with it, the last object they ever held in their hands.
~ The Armed Canadian

Quote of the active shooter unarmed rush

I was hoping to see if there was anything on the Internet we could readily use to illustrate the success of groups of unarmed people taking on a lone shooter, and this was the best I could come up with on short notice.
~ David Codrea

Windowlicker - Aphex Twin

Not safe for work (language, wet bikinis)

Probably not safe for home. (obtuse, confusing, disturbing)

If you're at work, start playing it with headphones on, then minimize it and listen to the intro and the music. For best effect listen to just the music at least twice before you watch the video.


Strange video, great music, and like all his other videos:
110% Aphex Twin.

Whether that's good or bad depends on you.

Jennifer Connelly


That is all.


][ pu'][' 0n /\/\y r0|3e & \/\/1z@r]) |-|@t

I'm the number two search result for the title of this post. I don't want to post the phrase again because I think it'll up my rank.

It's bugging me to keep seeing it on my sitemeter.

I don't know what to do with it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Prepare yourself

For SR's terrible new power.

The horror.


These toys go over here

As an update to Ava's toy roundup I noticed another odd thing about her toys recently.

She has two of the same toy, similar to this. While the toys rarely find their way inside her cage, I noticed that she put two toys that were the same into her cage. All the others stayed out. After I saw that I noticed she took one of the balls out, played with it a bit, then hopped away, only to return and replace the ball in the cage.

Next week we're going to try some calculus. I'll keep you guys updated.

Whiskey helps...

I mean, with the wisdom tooth; not just in general.

Since I don't normally drink hard alcohol straight, I try to amuse myself by pretending the shot of Jack is all that's keeping me from blowing my brains out to keep that alimony check from my cheating bitch of an ex-wife's painted fingers.
I was this close to that record deal and rock stardom, you damned she-devil!

Good times :)

A bothersome trend in the gun blogs

Some gun bloggers have been bugging me lately. Bugging me enough to keep me from reading their stuff for a while. Of course, I'll eventually get back to their blog, yet I'm usually disturbed to discover they've yet to learn.

I don't say anything to them because, frankly, it's none of my goddamn business how they run their personal blog. So I'll keep my opinions right here, speak my peace, and not bore you with them again.

Below are examples of posts that have irked me lately;

I've come to a quick conclusion! Let me share it with y'all!

[82 comments later]

Ok, so maybe, I was a bit quick with my conclusion...

Poorly thought out ideas presented, then defended, only to be abandoned do not make good blog posts. They depreciate the value of the blogger to the reader. Not that I oppose an open exchange of ideas, or *gasp* changing your mind(!), I'm just saying that if this keeps happening to you; maybe some more thought should be given before we push Mr. Publish Button.

My opinion is more valid than yours. I offer no hint or reason for this increased validity, yet am not above implying it is related to my hit count.

People read your blog because they see value in what you write. Thinking you don't have to do the diligence of-- explaining *spit* yourself smacks of the same elitist crap bloggers complain comes from ye olde media. Don't be a douche and expect people to lap it up.
Lets keep things in perspective folks: you're still just some dude or dudette with a keyboard and an opinion.



'nuf fucking said.

I philosophically oppose/support an idea.

[225 comments of poorly formed arguments between people who should simply agree to disagree]

The particularly applies when commenters obviously troll or bait. We understand your philosophy. We understand the opposition's philosophy. Arguing bitterly with the opposition accomplishes little. Honestly, it should only take three long comment replies to say all you need to say. Instead, bloggers and commenters fight with paltry statements that must be qualified and clarified in many, many follow up comments. If someone disagrees, address their points clearly and obviously. Anticipate their arguments and diffuse or comment on them. When your piece has been said; shut up. Leave it be. Drawing it out only makes you look bad, and turns off readers. It especially looks bad when it's on a topic in which there should be no equivocation.

In closing this uncharacteristic jaunt into finger wagging, and general obtrusiveness; a closed mouth gathers no foot. Considering folks on the internet (and gun folks on the internet particularly) have no shortage of opened mouths, one would regard a closed mouth better than one hanging agape, waiting for a nearby foot to Hoover in. A little bit of forethought, research, and taciturnity, goes a long way.

Perhaps better stated; A taciturn mouth gathers significantly less foot.



Environmental Warmongers


How long until we're going to war over other countrys' carbon footprints?

It's gotta be the next step right?

Forget "World Police," more like "Police for the World."

... Just curious...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

This is why I love sandbox games... get to make your own fun.

Killing Time In GTA IV

2. Grab a hooker and take her with me everywhere. Over stunt jumps, car washes, to the Pay 'n' Spray, to pick up friends. They leave when you pick up some one else. You should be able to have more than one passenger. It's also funny when they scream while you're doing the stunt jumps.

This reminds me of a time playing Just Cause when there was some activity that warranted a helicopter's scrutiny, and the helicopter was following Rico, so he hopped in an NPCs car as a passenger, and was driven around the island with the helicopter following. (with the NPC driver staring at him the entire time)

9. Run into cars so they run into cop cars and get arrested.

I know they're just electrons and 1s and 0s, but making NPCs get arrested is fun. It's like tossing enemies off a tall building or structure in Crackdown.

10. Drive around at high speeds in the cinematic view.

This is a lot more fun than it should be.

17. Taking cops off stunt jumps with me. They don't see it coming.

Bonus: You get to watch them fly off in slow motion.

From Some Kind of Robot.


An update to this nonsense,

Me: And why not?
Me: Yep.
Me: Because you didn't involve me in the process as I requested, and in your haste to sell, you promised results for something you knew nothing about.
Me: Because you didn't involve me in the process as I requested, and in your haste to sell, you got incomplete data.
Me: No.
Me: Because you didn't involve me in the process as I requested, and in your haste to sell, you failed to notice that we are replacing their current firewall.
Me: No. I'm going to deliver an empty report, and you're going to charge the customer $4000, and if the customer complains, you can explain to them that because you didn't involve me in the process as I requested, and in your haste to sell...

Ok, so that last part hasn't happened...


Arizona Peach Tea is still the shit

(An update to a previous post)

Clarity was the shit

Monday, August 25, 2008

These toys are mine

Ava has a number of cat toys that she plays with, along with her beach ball, and she frequently moves them around the apartment.

A few days ago I looked at her and saw she had gathered all her toys from the corners of the living room, and was laying down among them. These toys are mine. A few days before that, she had two of her cube shaped toys in the same spot, and was sitting between them. We joked that she was pretending to be a cube.

Since Ava is more independent and less interactive it's easy to think she's not as intelligent as other pets.

I'll let you guys know if she gathers her spherical toys and lays down between them.

Last wisdom tooth is coming in

Last one...

I made it through the first three, so I can do it one more time.

It's really more annoying than painful.

Stouty is back!

Stout Republican Conservative returns with the post Time to Reflect.

He actually names this humble blogger as one of the reasons he returned to blogging;
ET - Patient, yet refreshingly ADD.

Patient? Perhaps. But I don't think I'm AD-- LETS RIDE BIKES!

We celebrated his triumphant return by drinking ourselves into truly impressive hangovers. Never had a hangover like that. Good times :)

Friday, August 22, 2008


PROTIP: If you don't know what you're selling *dramatic pause* TALK TO SOMEONE WHO KNOWS FIRST, OR DON'T FUCKING SELL IT.

Me: Didn't I say that everyone should talk to me about any security work before it is sold so we're delivering the right service, scanning appropriate targets, and not making ourselves look bad?
Me: Isn't that the new customer that we've been fixing for the past three weeks, and are not yet done fixing? Why would we test a network that we know is incomplete?
Me: I really need to review what the customer has before recommending security work. What are we going to do if the report is blank, or finds problems we're in the process of fixing?
Me: You're not understanding me...
Me: That's not the point, if we don't do this right we can get burned if we give them a clean report and they get compromised again. Strictly from a CYA standpoint, we need to do a number of things to make sure the hacker doesn't get back in, and destroy all the work we've already done!
Me: ...

So, big fucking surprise, the report's empty because there are NO OPEN PORTS! That's gonna look pretty damn good to the customer. Especially considering this provides a snapshot of the current externally-facing network status which we are in the process of CHANGING FOR THEM.

Fucking sales.

Bubble Bernanke

10000000000000 hours in mspaint

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

With apologies to my female readers;

Womens' beach volleyball in the rain.

Doesn't get much better than this.

Fuck yeah.

Quote of the Outlaws

Two BIG pistols. Both loaded. One little purse. I believe this woman wouldn't hesitate in a second in shooting an offensive person in the face. No CHL. Big Outlaw.

She told me she doesn't wear a seatbelt either, which will get you in REAL trouble these days. Forget the pistols.

From Robert

On Down The Road

Hold to the course, though the storms are about you;
Stick to the road where the banner still flies;
Fate and his legions are ready to rout you--
Give 'em both barrels--and aim for their eyes.

Life's not a rose bed, a dream or a bubble,
A living in clover beneath cloudless skies;
And Fate hates a fighter who's looking for trouble,
So give 'im both barrels--and shoot for the eyes.

Fame never comes to the loafers and sitters,
Life's full of knots in a shifting disguise;
Fate only picks on the cowards and quitters,
So give 'em both barrels--and aim for the eyes.

~ Grantland Rice

Paintball video; Pumping it up

Some videos from my first day back Paintballing last Saturday. We all played pump except for one young semi, and we stuck to the speedball fields. It was hot, but it was fun.

I'm the player on screen at 0:13, and moving up at 0:56

This was one of the first games back, and I am obviously sluggish :) I wasn't shooting straight for the first few games, so that was my first out of the day.

I make a brief appearance running to my bunker off the break (right side), then you don't see me until I get shot out at 3:03. Bleh.

This is a little later in the day, and was one of those games that just sucked. It's funny that I couldn't see a damn thing that game, and the camera couldn't see me either :) It's interesting looking at it from this angle because the way the bunkers were set up, I could only see one player on the opposing team, and he wasn't focused on me so I wanted to move up, but couldn't get an idea of where everyone was. My teammate at the 50 was not able to communicate because he was caught up. So I just sat there, trying to see somebody to shoot, and taking a few shots at the one guy I could see whenever he moved to the other side of his bunker. Eventually one of my teammates asked me to watch a bunker, and when I switched back to that side I shot it out with a player I hadn't seen before, and caught one in the forearm. I'm always so surprised how different the game looks once you step to the side of the field.

These are the only videos of that day

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

But I'm angry NOW!

I recently decided to start getting into shooting competitions, and had been contemplating the expenses of such an undertaking. Mostly ammo. Lots of ammo. Expensive ammo. It seemed training was best accomplished with a .22 conversion on your gun of choice, and after looking at some of the best 22 conversion kits on the market I realized I didn't even have one of the best guns on the market and should probably reign it back a little. So I decided on a similarly dimensioned firearm that happened to already be on my list; a Browning Buckmark.

The local gun shop was having a sale on Buckmarks, and I was happy to oblige. Sadly, the recent purchase of my S&W 442 and California's one handgun per 30 days law meant I'd have to wait until the 20th to start DROS.

So here's my question; if the point of the 10 day waiting period is for "cooling off" (federal background check takes seconds) why couldn't the 10 day waiting period start 20 days after the previous handgun purchase? Well, that question assumes some form of logic applies to the gun laws.

Buckmark standard URX

Will be my first .22 pistol. I'm looking forward to shooting without my brain automatically calculating the cost of each shot downrange.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Quote of the democratic process

From Drug War Rant comes a story of a juror who questioned the legitimacy of the drug laws.

My question was where, if, . . . as every schoolboy knows, the highest law in the land is the United States Constitution, and if [C]ongress had to go to amend the [C]onstitution in, actually it was ratified in 1919, the 18th Amendment, in order to have the power to ban not interstate commerce but mere possession, where is [Congress' authority to ban mere possession of drugs] in the [C]onstitution[?]

Congress is empowered by Article I, in a list of about 17 specific empowerments, I'm unaware, and it was never made clear to me, where [banning mere possession of drugs] is authorized in the Constitution.

The judge advised the juror to simply accept the law, and refrain from judging its merit. The juror continued to have difficulty, and the judge replaced him with a juror who promptly convicted the defendant.

But it is a line the judge wrote about jury nullification that brings us our quote of the day. A quote that made the editor of Drug War Rant laugh out loud, and made me laugh like a hyena when I read it;

If Taken Seriously, Jury Nullification Threatens to Undermine the Democratic Process and the Rule of Law

Clearly the judge and I have differing views of what the word "democratic" means. Jury nullification just about the purest form of democracy you can have. Stating that a citizen is REQUIRED to send someone to jail based on the law the citizen may not support is ludicrous.

Hat tip to Uncle

Come to Georgia, we've got peaches on our quarters

A vacation has been finalized!

9 days in Georgia, likely sans internets! [insert shock and disbelief here] D:

Going to visit my girlfriend's brother in the middle of September, and looking forward to the awesome that will likely occur. There might even be some paintballing! I'll bring all my gear just so I can see what kind of looks I get.

"Where you from Mr. Speedball? Ka-lee-for-knee?"

I kid! I kid! :] I'm interested to play some real woodsball and scenario ball. You can only take a baby step in the direction of that kind of gameplay around here. Nothing that could possibly compete with the epic 6 hour scenario games across acres and acres of land!

It's really just about getting away for a bit. I'm glad my girlfriend talked me out of the Thursday to Monday idea. I knew I'd just get there the first day, and worry that I only had 4 days left. If I was going to be taking 3 days off of work for a 5 day vacation, why the hell wouldn't I add two more for a 9 day vacation?

How exciting!

Some stuff never gets old.

Shut up Monkey, just dance for me.

I was at the local ad-infused theater watching Mirrors yesterday, and among the never-ending advertisements was a spot for a lawyer show full of sexy female lawyers who punctuate their sentences by screaming objection, and hookers with hearts of gold lawyers who care about their clients. This wasn't a problem since it was simply par for the course.

The issue I had was when they started doing the edgy, behind-the-scenes interviews with the actors who played the lawyers, and they talked about the justice system and what it means to be a lawyer.

I'm sorry; who the fuck are these people again?

Aren't these the people who get paid truly obscene amounts of money to be someone they're not, and read words other more talented people wrote? Asking their opinion on ANY subject matter besides acting is, in the most artful of terms, pants-on-head retarded.

Actors are Monkeys.

They dance for our amusement.

If we stopped looking at them, they would cease to exist.

The fact that some of these actors realize that they're only Monkeys dancing for our amusement, and feel so self-conscious that they have to run out and demand a position in fields like world politics should be amusingly patronized as one would a child who wanted to grow up to be a firetruck.

The fact that these Masters of Pretend Land are regarded as highly as some would politicians, would be a point of enlightenment were people to actually stop and think about it for a moment.

Wait! I think I just discovered the secret of the Actor/Politician cross over!

My techie sense is tingling!

One of our sales people was back in the noc talking to us about some such nonsense and one of my coworkers responded to the sales person's question. Half way through his reply he stopped, got a spaced-out look on his face and squinted absently upward, apparently stuck in thought.

Strange? Almost. We all did it at the same time.

Coworker: Did you just...?
Coworker: Yeah where was it?
Coworker: I don't--
Sales: What are--?
Everyone: SHHH! ...
Coworker: It just came back.
Coworker: Yeah... Ok, it was the CS server.
Coworker: That damn box.

Techies are like prairie dogs when the pitch of a room's collective computer fan hum changes

Paintball LOLtivational poster

After a day of paintballing, I only had two body hits, and both were on bunkers so I didn't mind. The one on my shoulder was pretty tame, but the one on my side was considerably closer, and looked much worse. The hits only hurt after you're done playing (and only if someone pokes or touches them), but I had forgotten that I was supposed to fix a hole in the built-in knee pads on my pants, and skinned my knee pretty good sliding into the bunkers. The skinned knee hurt more than the two hits combined.

This morning I inspected the hits and saw that the one on my side broke skin strangely. Usually paintball impacts leave a crescent moon (I've got a perfectly shaped crescent moon scar), or a outline of a circle. (FYI, if you make friends with any pro players and see them without their shirts on, they look like leopards) But this hit didn't have either of those shapes, and when I realized what I was looking at, I had to take a grainy cell phone picture.

(NOTE: do not try to adjust your monitors; I really am that pasty. I have a skin condition called Computera Geekus)

clicky for large size

I LOL'd heartily, then I made this;

clicky for large size

Good to be back.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A blog's purpose

I've made it no secret that I post to this blog for my own amusement and review, but since I've picked up return readers, I've pondered what defines a blog, and what is the best way to run one.

Some people have personal blogs, topical blogs, news blogs, aggregating (linky) blogs, and some people have a combination of all of the above. The difficult part is that others seem to expect your blog to fit a mold, and by deviating, or being inconsistent, you annoy or alienate readers. I wasn't sure how I felt about this since I had clearly defined what I expected of my blog, but still found myself second-guessing.

How much solid topical writing do you need to deliver, and how much personal chaff is too much?

After a bit of thought on the topic, and thoughts on the blogs other people run, I determined that playing it by ear is the best way. Blog about whatever comes naturally, and forget the molds.

I have blogs I visit for news, and blogs I visit for entertainment, but when I think of the bloggers who run those blogs, I realize that all those molds take the personality out of the blog. A gun news blog I read or a good aggregating blog could easily switch bloggers with little noticeable impact. Certainly news blogs supplement mainstream news, and offer a service that has benefits beyond teevee and radio delivery media, but I think blogging was not originally intended to provide this function.

Web logs (gasp! Blog's full name!) were meant to be personal online journals. At first this seems like an oxymoron, but to me the intention was part of the increasing effort to personalize the internet. The idea was not to provide a warehouse of information for the masses to peruse at the leisure; it was to connect the masses with each other to counteract the social disconnect the internet was beginning to cause. It saw the rise of social networking sites, and a general change in the way we view the internet.

Reading a personal blog that touches on a variety of topics gives you a view into the mind of another random faceless person somewhere in the world. The more you read from their mind, the more connected you become to a person who you've never physically met. The internet becomes a more personal space, where relationships were developed.

You may scoff at my use of the word "relationships," but in the few years I've been actively blogging, I've made two (count 'em!) friendships that have crossed into the real world. One friend is very local, and we hang out regularly, and have become close friends. The other friend is not as local, but we've become very good friends despite the distance, with the help of the internet. Not to mention the business contacts, and contract work I've picked up because of this blog.

"We met on the internet" is becoming less and less of a joke.

So when you're staring at that blank blog post with an idea in your head, wondering whether or not you should post it; just play it by ear. Post it, and see how you feel about it. I guarantee you, there is someone out there who is having a similar experience, and wants to know he or she is not alone.

We are on the the bleeding edge of a cultural revolution that is trying so hard to grow into a digital renaissance.

Things would be very different if everyone realized that all the nameless, faceless people they pass by every day had the same hopes, fears, ambitions, insecurities, loves, hates, and life that they had.

When people start seeing themselves in other people; how could they do wrong?

By my calculations; if every blogger posts two personal facts about themselves for the world to see, we'll all evolve in to balls of energy within 10 years! So get cracking! :)

Wasn't much for Putin, but this new guy...

Gears of War - Content Filter: ON

Penny Arcade is goddamn hilarious

Monday, August 11, 2008


This weekend, I turned off the DVD I was watching, and the olympics was on. After a few minutes of watching, I realized that this was probably the only time when hyphenated Americans were proudly unhyphenated Americans. When our swimmers kick off, there is no graphic that indicates Mexican-American, or African-American. It just says American. Our national identity is summed up by a simple rectangular graphic of our flag. There is no mistaking ethnic identity with national identity here; the difference is clear as red, white, and blue.

I began thinking about why people feel the need to hyphenate their nationality to indicate their ethnicity, and was reminded of a story a coworker told us. She told us that she was a little ashamed that her grandson (7 years old) came from school, and told her he didn't like the people with the lighter color skin than he, and that kids with the same color skin needed to stick together. I told her that humans are naturally programmed to form groups and hate other groups, and that only with age and experience and philosophy will true acceptance of other people develop.

I only scratched the surface with my coworker, but this time I was thinking more about the root cause of this behavior.

After a bit of thought I came to the conclusion that the problem is that people don't feel special.

People want to feel special and different from other people, so they join exclusive groups. When they find themselves in places where everyone is equal, they actually seek divisiveness to feel special at the expense of others.

The childrens' tale of The Sneetches simply explains this complex social interaction, and makes light of how hopelessly some cling to cosmetic differences in order to feel special.

This is, of course, silly because everyone is different in unobvious ways. But the issue seems to be that the unobvious differences are unobvious. People insecurely only feel different when they know their difference is obvious to others. They define themselves by how other see them.

While this core issue always existed, it didn't always exist in Americans seeking a different national identity. Not all immigrants to America resisted their new nationality. This seems to imply that this is some kind of generational thing, where this generation feels insecure about their national identity. They seem to feel too American, and react by trying to divide their national identity.

The insecurity may never go away, but hopefully this flight from Americanism will dull with time.

Friday, August 08, 2008

As if engineering hadn't fucked up enough already

I asked for a fresh server, and they gave me one that was totally fresh... Except the E: drive was unformatted. No problem, except that the program I'm having trouble with was installed on the E: drive. This caused the reinstall to seize up, and managed to corrupt the replication data, rendering the install about as useful as a .380 to the head.

Eng: "It's just the E: drive. The C: drive is a totally fresh box."
Me: "But the E: drive has the program I'm having trouble with on it. This new box is hosed because this software was written by hypochondriacs, and won't install right unless you actually buy a hoop and jump through it while you type in the serial number!" (he said wondering how on earth these idiots were the leaders in their industry)
Eng: "So dig through the registry and remove all references to it."
Me: "One; I already tried that, and two; even if I hadn't, my answer would still be 'no.'"
Eng: "Well, rebuilding it will take like an hour, and it's afterhours on friday."
Me: "Yeah, it is, isn't it? The perfect time to start replication for a fresh install of [software], don't you think?"
Eng: "This seriously can't wait till Monday?"
Me: "Dude! YOU nuked my server AND made me fuck up the fresh box I was going to reinstall on!!"
Eng: "...Ok, ok. It'll take a bit."


Such an undertaking is inadvisable

It is not recommended to bypass fast food for a long time, and then return to it.

Brain says, "I ate this stuff all the time, it tastes good."
Body says, "Sorry dude, I ain't eating this stuff."

Somehow, was not yet taken. It is now.

Now I just gotta get off blogger, so I can have a proper redirect.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Risk Game: Revenge of the Sun

Cool music, and interestingly shot. Entertaining.

Always take time...

From the Almighty Oleg.

Microsoft Support

After a phone call and a trip to the DIY despair generator

No, that is not what I asked. Please try again.

To the brain surgeon who actually entered this into a search engine;

The search engine is not a human being. It is a series of ones and zeros that process your request based entirely on keyword entries.

It does not need to be corrected.

It does not require cordiality.

It DOES, however, require you have a simple understanding of the internet.

You fail.


Backups... I need them.

The server I primarily work off of was damaged in a tragic vmware migration. Due to extenuating circumstances (they didn't backup the fucking server) I must rebuild the server from scratch... and reset all the settings... that it took me two weeks to get working smoothly... and another week to tweak the sql scripts to work with the new version.

FSCK would have saved it.

What can a gun give you?

My whole outlook on life has really changed. I feel empowered. No one can hurt me ever again. I feel safe, secure, and confident. Guns healed my wounds in some way. Being a victim is hard. Living like one is even harder, but knowing that now you will fight will everything you have changes your life. I’m not scared any more. I’m not scared to be home alone any more. I’m not scared to be out at night by my self any more. It’s the first time in my life I know I can take care of myself. And absolutely nothing feels better than that. As my counselor told me I’ve gone from victim, to survivor, to thriver. Thank you 2nd amendment, you did more than years of therapy have done.

A gun can save your life, but it can also give you life.

A gun can give you your life back.

A gun can make a victim a person again.

A gun can give you the confidence so many take for granted.

A gun can heal.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Life's hard lessons: An introduction to gun ownership

Two months ago I was on the last few minutes of my shift when the phone rang. I was a little surprised to see a friend of mine was calling so late, since he usually doesn't on weekdays, and picked up. He told me that a friend of his, with whom I was well acquainted, had an incident with a neighbor, and was afraid to stay at his apartment that night. He wanted to know if he could borrow or buy a gun from me.

By 9:30pm I was at the first friend's house, waiting for the second friend to arrive with his girlfriend. First friend had expressed interest in firearms, and had been meaning to buy a gun after he became more aware that he was the only one who could protect his loved ones in cases of sudden violence. Though he worked the next day, I recommended he stay up to catch the general firearms safety I was going to cover, and he agreed. While we chatted, I jotted down notes for firearm safety points to cover as they popped into my head. I didn't want to skip something important when second friend had an immediate threat.

An hour later the second friend arrived with his girlfriend. Both were very shaken. Second friend told me what had happened.

Second friend was returning home, and while ascending the last flight of stairs, saw his neighbor from across the hall standing at the top of the stairs fuming with rage. The neighbor began yelling at second friend, insisting that everything was "all your fault" and "you know what you did." Second friend had had extremely limited contact with this particular neighbor, aside from the occasional "hello" they hadn't spoken. This made the anger at second friend cause for confusion. Second friend attempted to calm the neighbor by insisting he hadn't done anything, and asking for specifics as to what the neighbor believe he had done, trying to diffuse the situation. As the neighbor began to calm, second friend didn't want to leave any animosity between them, and offered to go grab some beers, and sit down with him, and talk about what was going on. Second friend just wanted to be a good guy, and keep things smooth between neighbors. Neighbor agreed, and after indecisively rattling off a surprising number of alcoholic beverages, settled on one. Second friend was happy to be one step closer to resolving the confusion, and went to a nearby store to get the drinks.

Without getting into too much detail; second friend returned, and entered neighbor's apartment to drink and talk with him. Neighbor began acting erratic and in a threatening manner, and after second friend began to realize neighbor's instability he began to think about the situation he was currently in, and realized that he was in serious danger. Second friend feared for his life. Fortunately he managed to escape to his apartment, and called the police. The police arrived, but said they wouldn't want to write a report of the incident because of the odd nature of the story. Neighbor didn't answer the door. Second friend and his girlfriend packed up some short-term supplies, and went to his girlfriend's mother's place nearby. At first it seemed to me that neighbor was on some sort of substance, but hidden in the details of the story, neighbor exhibited control and forethought that indicated he was well aware of what he was doing, and that he seemed to be toying with second friend. Fortunately, the details also revealed neighbor was afraid of the police.

After a short discussion about how to correct the police's actions, and recommendations on further action, we got into the firearm safety training.

California law prohibits transfer of firearms under 50 years old without a 10 day waiting period, and a background check, and prevents lending of handguns if the recipient does not have a Handgun Safety Permit (a simple test meant only to add another hurdle to gun ownership, and drain more money from gun owners). I brought my Chinese SKS since it was a long gun, and met the C&R requirements for transfer. I would have lent them a loaner shotgun I had picked up, but I hadn't test fired it yet, which made it impossible for me to lend for personal safety from a specific threat. An SKS was not the best tool for this particular situation considering overpenetration, and minor complexity of a semi-auto; but it was the best I could do at the time. Because the gun was C&R, my intention was to legally sell it to second friend to avoid potential complications surrounding borrowed firearms.

Neither of them had had any extended contact with firearms, and were understandably skittish. The first part of the lesson was focused on the 4 rules of firearm safety, and why they exist. They were very receptive, and were comfortable enough to ask questions as we progressed. After the first run-through, I covered the rules again, and made sure they had them memorized. I made sure they understood that guns will not fire on their own, and that they are in charge of making sure the gun is safe. I recommended they correct each other if one sees the other break rule two or three, because these rules can be broken absent mindedly or out of natural habit, and that safety is everyone's responsibility.

We then got into the legalities of using a firearm in self defense. I gave them example scenarios, and told them how each would be viewed by themselves in the heat of the moment, by the district attorney, and by a jury. I made absolutely sure they understood that the firearm was to be treated as an ace-in-the-hole, only to be pulled out at the last minute for immediate use. I was relieved that they seemed to grasp the concept that the gun would only escalate the situation, and that their attacker should never know it exists until it's too late. People seem to think a gun can serve as a deterrent in most situations, to be brandished, or threatened with, but in most situations, implying or threatening use of a gun will only make things worse.

Second friend had always been very laid back, but as I talked about the possibility of neighbor kicking down their door and crossing their threshold, I could see the fire in his eyes. He knew he had screwed up before, and he came to grips with the knowledge that he could have lost his life just because he was trying to be a nice guy. When you talk to people about gun ownership, you can sometimes tell if they'll pull the trigger when it matters most. Second friend was scared at the thought, but it was obvious to me that he would to pull the trigger if the time came. He had experienced one of life's hard lessons, and had emerged rattled, but unscathed. He had learned from it.

We talked about the layout of their apartment, where to have the firearm, and what state to keep it in (they settled on bolt open, magazine loaded, which was acceptable to me because of the reliability of the SKS). I told them that they always shoot center of mass, and that they always shoot until the threat is stopped. I told them to keep their phones ready, and charged, and what to tell the 911 operator. Then I told them how people can accidentally incriminate themselves when they give police reports, and that the only sentences out of their mouths after a self-defense shooting should be, "I was afraid for my life, I thought he was going to kill me" and "I want to talk to my lawyer."

After the bulk of the legalities were out of the way, we got into specific firearm instruction. I took apart the SKS, and (to their intrigue) explained exactly how it worked. I told them how it loaded from the stripper clips, how it fired, and how the gas operated the piston that pushed the bolt back, ejecting the spent casing, and loading a new cartridge. As I explained how the gun worked, they began to relax. They told me that now that they understood how it worked, and what everything did, the gun wasn't as scary. I showed them how to make sure it was unloaded, how to drop the magazine, how to operate the bolt and safety, and how to clear a jam.

After follow up questions were out of the way, we began actual practice. First, with the unloaded rifle and the ammunition in the next room, we practiced working the action, shouldering the rifle, lining up the sights, and squeezing the trigger. I was a little worried about second friend's girlfriend since she was on the petite side, but she handled the rifle with resolve. After some more practice and familiarity, we practiced loading the rifle from stripper clips, dumping the magazine, and clearing the chamber (followed up by a second check of the chamber).

After all this, second friend and his girlfriend were sitting taller in their chairs. They told me that they felt much more confident about the whole situation, and the relief in their faces amplified the statement.

After a quick recap of all we had covered, and a few outstanding questions, we were just about done. After determining second friend was legally eligible to own the rifle, I legally sold the SKS and 50 rounds of ammo on stripper clips to second friend for one dollar and no cents.

We set a date the next day to go to a nearby gun store and pick out a gun. I left at 1:30am.

The next day we met at the gun store, and due to California's paperwork requirements could not yet start DROS on a handgun. (why did they decide on a handgun instead of a long gun? You'll have to ask James) Instead we set a date that weekend to go to the range, and try out some handguns.

An epilogue will follow. I gotta go for now.
Don't worry, everything ended well :)

Courtesy of the EPA

But why would the EPA do such a thing?!

Neanderpundit has the dirty details.

The law of unintended consequences can never be revoked, and a simple fact hangs heavy in the thick, soot-filled Bejing air;

Where ever the government involves itself, things get worse.

New Orange County Sheriff resumes CCW processing

My sooper seekrit unnamed sources have indicated that the Current OC sheriff, Sandra Hutchens, has taken up the reportedly 2 foot high stack of CCW applications that have been ignored since she was placed in the position.

We should soon have an answer to the question of how she will interpret "Good Causes" and the status of many existing permits issued by ex-sheriff Mike Carona.

Keep your toes crossed.

Monday, August 04, 2008

A review of the Thief series

Everybody's favorite thief is back on duty. With the Xbox360 subbing as an expensive paper weight (it's fixed now), the original xbox was fired up with the most recent version of my favorite game series, Thief: Deadly Shadows.

The original in the series, Thief: The Dark Project explored the experiences of the disarmingly cool master thief, Garrett. You are armed with a sword, a blackjack, a variety of arrows, and your ability to blend into shadows. You'll live and die by the light indicator at the bottom of your screen which indicates how illuminated you are. In complete darkness, Garrett can practically vanish, allowing guards to pass within inches of you safely. Firing noise maker arrows or tossing objects will attract the attention of sentries, and allow you to slip past guards as they investigate. Since you are a thief, you're not much of a fighter, and avoiding combat and detection is preferred. Stats at the end of a mission include the amount of times spotted, enemies knocked out, etc. Difficulty increases insist you find almost all the loot on the level (which meant more dangerous exploration), and required enemies only be knocked out. It was the first in a new genre of gaming; First Person Sneaker.

The story started simple enough, break into some fat nobleman's mansion, steal his trinket, and get out. However, Garrett quickly finds his exceptional skill has brought him to the attention of some powerful factions. As he tries to extricate himself he begins to realize that he has been in the middle of a pitched fight between gods, demons, and fanatics. The story is related through an interestingly animated series of cutscenes for which the Thief series has become known (and celebrated).

The gameplay was admittedly clunky, and unpolished. If you messed with the world enough, it would break. Objects would fall through the floor, doors would occasionally fly off their hinges when opened, and walls would fail to render. These issues were mostly cosmetic, and while distracting, were not distracting enough to get you to stop playing. There's a lot of what some gamers call tilt in this game. Playing through a mission, on your last save, and hoping that patroling guard won't hear your footsteps just before you blackjack him, spin around, and run you through, really increases the gaming experience. There are a lot of close calls, depending on how you choose to play or the difficulty at which you play. The first few missions have you ducking from shadow to shadow, distracting guards, and slipping by sentries unnoticed. The missions included expansive levels that were as much vertical as they were horizontal. Retrievable rope arrows that would stick to any soft surface made the game very 3d and opened many more options for completion of your goal or simply evading guards. Unfortunately as the game progressed, it turned from you skulking around large buildings, distracting guards, figuring out patrol patterns, and ducking from shadow to shadow, into you killing monsters while running around like a headless chicken. This change became very apparent when you came to a doorway with immobile monsters guarding it, with no way around it other than to simply fight your way through. Fail. However the game was so open, that the missions sans monster, were played at all difficulty levels, in different gameplay styles, with different self-imposed challenges, until every inch of each level, and every patrol pattern was committed to memory. In fact, I so loathed the idea of Garrett running around in circles swinging his sword at buricks, or trying to down zombies long enough to flee, I hardly remember playing those levels. The story developed nicely through the cutscenes, but playing those levels was a chore.

Thief 2: The Metal Age was probably that Thief 1 should have been. The series was back with even more plot intrigue and even larger, more open areas to play through. Full exploration of maps revealed sub-plots that develop in future missions through scripted events. Making your way across the rooftops to the far side of the cathedral, while encountering disturbances, or overhearing conversations, really gives you the feeling that you are in a world larger than yourself. Vague maps and smarter enemies make it more important that you safely explore the level so you can understand the internal structure of buildings or areas before you can complete your mission. Your missions get harder, requiring you to spy on conversations, and position yourself to pick pockets in order to find out exactly how you'll need to continue. Of course, these tips, and important moments are not on your map, and can only be discovered by exploring, problem solving, and listening at doors. The result is a more fluid gameplay where you must uncover the details of your mission while on the prowl. When you begin to uncover startling information on missions, and have to change goals, you feel more like you're experiencing Garrett's trials, instead of just participating in them. Getting from X to Y is rarely as easy as it seems, and will likely include some other nasty consonants.

Thief 2 continued to develop the factions introduced in the first game seamlessly, and sustained the plot twists and turns that kept you interested in the first game. Missions were no longer just about grabbing loot, and escaping, when you became genuinely interested in the characters, and their motivations. Tilt remained a huge part of the gameplay, and was increased by sections where Garret was not entirely safe, or you had to take a chance. Monsters are few and far between, and are usually avoidable (as they should have been in the first game). Minor technical issues arose, but were no where near prevalent enough to interrupt gameplay.

Thief 2 was, and still is an extremely good game.

Thief 3: Deadly Shadows was picked up by a new game developer, and would be released on a console and PC. I was sure this would be a problem. I was happily wrong. Thief 3 was Thief 2 and more. They were not afraid to explore new level designs, and really stretch to interesting objectives. Thief 3 was the first in the series to use active lighting. In Thief 1 and 2, water arrows could be used to put out torches to make static areas lit or unlit. But in Thief 3, light sources could be moved around, and would actively generate shifting shadows that required you to move to stay hidden. It also embraced more of a sandbox environment in the form of interstitial cities that you had to sneak your way through to make it to your missions. You were no longer quantum leaping into Garret's head just as he began each mission, because you had to sneak your way past city guards, and angry fanatics to make it to your mission. Developments in the plot caused different things to happen in the cities that kept you on your toes. Even having items ready for the next mission now required making your way to a fence to sell your stolen goods, then to a shop to buy your thieving equipment. Small side plots, and quests kept your trips through the city interesting, and helped you complete your objectives, while adding a realism that let you get lost in the experience. New game mechanics and mission types kept you wondering what to expect, and always kept things interesting. Thief 3 also began allowing you to play third person, which made it easier to look around corners since the camera wasn't placed firmly inside Garret's eyes, but I found that playing this was was FAR less immersive than playing first person. The only problem with this addition was that peeking around corners normally gave you limited visibility (visibility to your opponents, not visibility to see things), but in Thief 3, they seem to have skipped that part since peeking around a blind corner in poor lighting immediately results in guards on the other side coming to investigate. I suspect this mechanic was ignored or skipped because QA testers played in third person, and could look around every corner without threat by moving the camera around.

The entire series poured a lot of energy into sound. Sound is almost half of the games. The 3D engine applies specifically to sound, and listening to the varied volumes of nearby footsteps, throat clearing, of idle conversation gave you valuable information about the location of nearby guards, and their patrol direction. Beyond serving as a simple utility to locating guards, the sound has very subtle tones, hums, and some music that dramatically adds to the atmosphere of the game. Ghosts speak in echoing wisps, and frighten you while you're straining to hear patrolling guards. Disembodied voices unsettle you by disturbing what you previously knew your surroundings to be. Omnipresent hums and notes set a dramatic mood, and raise your anxiety level as you sneak from shadow to shadow, avoiding death by mere inches. Immersion is immense in gaming, and no other games immerse me like the Thief series.

So buy Thief 2 for PC, or Thief 3 for PC or Xbox, and give them a shot. They can be had for dirt cheap if you shop around, and if they're up your alley, they will pull you into Garret's world, and won't let go.

The death of Hackers

Most true hackers follow a natural progression. They start out bored in school, not because it's hard or they're lazy, because it's not challenging. So they look for new challenges, usually in electronics because of they are based on logic. After they begin to understand how the computer works, they start seeing if they can make it do tasks by itself, they learn to code. When they begin to understand program architecture, they become interested in the architecture of other code, they speculate on how programs they use work. They discover (on their own or through other sources) that if you give some programs tweaked or improper input, you can make the program do different things, including things it's not supposed to do.

That's really the essence of hacking. Making something do something it shouldn't do, just to see if you can. Why part out a VCR, learn to write serial interfaces, and do some minor PIC programing so you can have an automatic pet feeder, when you can just buy one from a store? Curiosity. You know what it is, you understand what it does, and you have most of the knowledge to make something that accomplishes the same task, why not see if you can make one yourself? You've never made something like that before, but you only need to learn a few more skills, and you'll be able to do it, then you can use those skills for other things.

Curiosity makes you see something and wonder if you could make a better one. Curiosity makes you see existing hardware or software with potential for new functionality, and try to add that functionality. Curiosity makes you stay up all night reading reference books and white papers on obscure topics you'll never use again just because they're interesting. Curiosity makes you toss an apostrophe in a web field to see what error it gives. Curiosity makes you learn javascript because your entry was sanitized. Curiosity leads you to learn that by modifying the raw POST data you can bypass java restrictions.

Curiosity is the mother of innovation.
Curiosity is what defines a hacker.

One would think hackers would be viewed as assets to our society, and country. They're the people who grow up to found new technologies, and advance our technical understanding. But based on the (over)reactions and statements released by the "Cyber Crime" division of many government TLA departments of departments, this seems closer to reality than it should... Funny I should make that association, because the electronic crime group I'm a member of, which is run by see-krit service and populated by various agents from various government agencies, offers a free showing of Die Hard 4 at the next meeting. I'm sure they'll preface it with "This is fiction, and is not an indication of something that could actually happen." Yeah... I'm sure they will...

Contrary to what those who know little but speak much would like you to think, hackers are not (all) angry, anarchistic, teenagers out to disprove mommy and daddy. They're regular people who apply clever solutions to complex problems. I'm inclined to agree with O'Reilly's definition of "hack."

Hack: A clever solution to an interesting problem.

This includes a little bit of mischief. Usually, because early hackers don't have a complete testing environment with all forms of systems and software. I won't say that these young hackers are doing nothing wrong, because in legal terms, they are, but I also won't say what they do is any more destructive than a kid sneaking a candy from the bin at the store.

These baby steps, and missteps eventually culminate in the evolution of a true hacker. Someone who does not think the way school-taught programmers think. Someone who sees problems from angles others are not taught to see. Someone who founds new technologies, and creates The Next Big Thing. I've had many experiences with these cookie-cutter outsourced programmers, and what I always find lack is exactly what is most important; creativity.

Except that hackers seem to be dying out now.

Our technical creativity is being outsourced more and more, with depressing results. Our paradigm shifts are decades old, and rotting on the vine. Our shining new worlds few and far between.


Because hackers are terrorists.

They control a media that our world depends heavily upon, yet fails to understand. They are feared for it.

Like early man feared the gods, the notion that a lone hacker could hack the planet, and crash our economy, triggering the second great depression looms in the minds of regular people, and infinitely more frighteningly; the minds of our government.

I've personally viewed presentations at aforementioned government attended meetings that warn "attacks" such as an innocuous port scan, should be regarded as an attempt to disrupt service, and the economy. Certainly I allow them some dramatic flair, but it seemed clear to me that many of these government officials returned to their offices and turned on logging for such an event.

The idea that a lone hacker, or group of hackers will do any more than temporarily interrupt availability to a website is incredibly unlikely. The idea that systems will be damaged so badly that recovery will be impossible is simply false when you consider the infinite funds of any government or financial institution.

Indeed, the idea that hackers have the power to destroy the country and should be regarded as terrorists is so wrongheaded, it actually invokes memories of the Salem witch hunts.

But that doesn't stop hackers, mostly kids, from being tossed in jail, ordered not to touch computers, or put on lists for the rest of their lives. Nor does it stop professional hackers from being regarded with the same distrust centuries of people gave to those who understood what they did not. Not while government "specialists" get to send out press releases of foiled "cyber crimes," and extricate more funding from taxpayers to buy the latest and greatest wizbang toys for their playgrounds. These "specialists" know how little most people know about their profession, and make a name for themselves by cracking down on kids who have no idea what they're doing, and filling the collective public mind with visions of fantastic Die Hard 4 "Fire Sales."

With the continued fervor over domestic terrorists, and the constant expansion of that term, it seems unlikely this will stop any time soon.

Our innovation will continue to suffer in fields we should be leading, and we will lag behind the world while we chase our tail until the surprising and enlightening day we actually catch it.

Death by red herring

Sorry for the lateness of this post, I'm trying to clean out the draft folder...

Guns campaigner stabbed to death

Mrs Regan's friend Sylvester Johnson, 74, said: "She didn't want any young people to get caught up in the trouble that her son got caught up in.

"She was very brave and I don't know of anyone who would have a grudge against her."

In February, Mrs Regan was involved with the launch of a DVD warning about the dangers of gun and knife gang culture.

"She made a huge impression on me and on many people that she met. She was determined to do all that she could so that other mothers didn't go through the experience that she went through when her son, Danny, was killed."

I'm not an anti-gunner, and thusly, I'm not apt to the blood-dance they enjoy whenever someone dies that they can leverage to support their position. Consequently, I feel no animosity for this woman. She had a tragedy in her life in losing her son, and began what she thought to be the right course of action; fighting to limit the availability of guns and knives.

This is a red herring.

This is the easy, obvious answer. But it's not the right one.

I can't bring myself to speak ill of this poor woman who's only problem was that she didn't look closely enough at what she was fighting for. Make no mistake; anti-gunners, and any persons or groups who fight against availability of tools to limit their misuse, are wrong. The facts are not on their side, history is not on their side, statistics are not on their side. The only thing they DO have on their side, is the knee-jerk reaction most have to this kind of violence.

The sentiment is that people are generally good, and but for the availability of these tools (be they guns, knives, SUVs, or chainsaws) murderers would be regular, non-violent people.

I think the reason it is so widely accepted is because it allows bystanders to believe that even the most evil people are good at their core.

It's hard admit that evil exists in the world. It's especially hard to believe when you're trying to deal with the loss of a loved one. But it's reality. It's what's happening in the world. It's what sometimes happens to our loved ones. Refusing to believe it at first may be excused as frustration at a loss, but continuing to believe it, and refusing evidence to the contrary, is simply cognitive dissonance.

Believing the world is made of sunshine and rainbows will not protect you from a meth-head with a steak knife. Believing that banning guns will stop murder will not protect you from an ex-boyfriend with an illegal gun. Believing knives longer than 10 inches cause stabbings will not protect you from a crazy man with a hammer.

Anti-gunners are anomalous in that they are not well versed in the facts of the matter for which they fight. One would think that anyone who takes their fight seriously would arm themselves with as many facts as possible, but these anti-gunners seem to just run on grief and emotion. Every victory for them is worse than a shining spotlight cast upon a red herring, because every victory for them denies others the ability to protect themselves from the very tragedy that fueled these anti-gunners to fight.

Only when these useful idiots are stopped will people be able to properly address, and truly deal with the problem of violence in our communities.

Well, MY argument allows women to protect themselves from rapists; so what does that mean YOUR argument does?

Just Cause - Review

If you want a full review of this game, look elsewhere. I will simply hit the highlights and why I keep coming back to this game.

There aren't that many console games that I return to. Most are great for a once-through, but replay value is low. Microsoft has attempted to fix this by adding achievements to their 360 games, and has thusly increased the play time of inexcusably short games with the least effort possible. Certainly the maps are enormous, areas beautifully rendered, plot well developed, and progression smooth, with enough attention to detail to convince you that the world YOU live in is less realistic; but who cares when it's all over in 5 hours? Sure, you'll probably get another play out of it on a harder difficulty, and maybe another to catch any achievements or extras you may have missed, but we're still looking at limited replayability. Just Cause is the only console game that I really have enough fun playing to come back to it month after month.

The outline of the game is simple enough, and could easily belong to any one of a hundred shitty $50 races to the finish line with a victory lap to the store for trade in. You play Rico Rodriguez, a CIA agent whose over-the-top Antonio Banderas in Desperado character modeling is as obvious as getting hit in the head with [clever thing to get hit in the head with here]. Rico must fight along side local guerrillas to unseat a hostile banana republic dictator, and free the people of San Espierto. Your superiors are a fat, Hawaiian shirt-wearing, mai-thai-sipping CIA boss, and a sassy, tough-as-nails, flirty, special forces love interest. (Though judging from how she acts, one might speculate which "special" they meant) You are armed with a slew of weapons, ranging from never-ending dual revolvers to 9 shot missile launchers (most of which you carry on your person at one time, GTA style) and enough health to take on endless streams of cross-eyed opponents without breaking a sweat.

Yes, this game had all the hallmarks of a game I wouldn't even be able to make half way through before uncontrollable vomiting forced me to ritualistically destroy in sacrifice to the god of GOOD games. There were only two things that kept me playing, and they were such good reasons, I could overlook all the other bullshit.

1. Suspension of disbelief
Suspension of disbelief is the name of the game (but Just Cause is catchier), while playing this game you will be able to make use of an endlessly redeployable parachute, make use of an endlessly redeployable grappling hook, go for a drive as a passenger with an NPC, drive your burning car off a cliff as you bail out and deploy your parachute so you can watch it explode in the air as it arcs down the valley into the river below, fall for thousands of feet into the ocean uninjured, fall for thousands of feet only to open your parachute with a few feet to spare and land safely, steal a tank and drive into a military base blowing up everything on the way, fly your helicopter low over a major freeway raining indiscriminate death onto the cars below, call in a vehicle air drop from anywhere, leap from speeding cars onto cars speeding in the opposite direction, hijack cars, boats, tanks, helicopters and planes, go skydiving, grab onto the tail of a flying helicopter from a skydiving free fall, leap from the tail of the helicopter into the cockpit and take control, fly into restricted air space and engage enemy helicopters and fighter jets, bail out of your burning helicopter before it explodes, grapple onto and parasail behind a passing fighter jet, jump onto the wing of a fighter jet, hijack a fighter jet, tear around San Espierto at Mach 3, and crash into a mountain side because those damn jets are hard to fly. Almost all of these things are utterly impossible, yet doing them (with a little challenge) is somehow very satisfying. You have the power to do all these things, and are provided with endless scenarios in which to do them. In most games it's not fun to be invincible and all-powerful, this game is a serious exception for me.

2. The world
San Espierto is VERY big, and quite diverse (though mostly jungle). It is not encumbered with loading screens, and you are allowed to see as far as one would expect to in real life. Skydiving gives you a view of clouds and weather systems along with a topographically accurate birds-eye-view of the island. On foot, you could probably walk from one end of the island to the other in at least two hours, on a vehicle, maybe 30-45 minutes. The place is huge, and spotted with small villages, towns, high-rise cities, air strips, military bases, secret mountain-side facilities, odd structures, cartel bases, and much more. I've been playing for a long time, and I'll still fly over something strange, and stop to investigate it. The jungle can be fun to get lost in, or dirt bike through. For as many things as there are, there is still detail in a tiny island with a shack and a dock, or a small cove in the side of a mountain. Being able to see so far makes standing on top of tall things or skydiving a lot of fun, you can watch the same tiny lake grow larger and larger faster and faster as you rocket toward it, and dive into it. Surfacing to steal a passing boat, and run it aground at full speed, launching you into the air and onto the busy streets of a city, then getting yelled at by civilians, and chased by cops for illegally parking your boat. While there is technically a lot of repetition in the places, there is a boatload of variety in the situations you can get yourself into and how you can deal with those situations. If SAMs are taking down your helicopter when you attack a military base, fly it in low, and park it where it'll be safe while you run around clearing out the SAMs before starting the attack on the base, and launch missiles down from above with cold impunity. The explosions, fire, and sound effects are exciting, and enjoyable. Skydiving gives the real sense of speed, and somehow manages to stay exciting. Firing a missile into a group of enemies, and watching as a few sail past you never seems to get old. Firing at random cars, and chasing down those that run or watching them crash into other cars as they flee is just fun. Driving a car evasively as a military helicopter fires missiles at you is just fun. Shooting down a helicopter, and watching it fall into another helicopter is just fun. Starting a long mission, and ignoring the regular path by hijacking a helicopter, flying up past all the roadblocks, and hovering down into a volcano to kill the assassination target is just fun. Flying fast along a bridge, dodging in and out of supports is just fun. Stealing a jet, and making multiple passes over a military base raining missiles on them, while outrunning SAMs is just fun.

Just Cause is just fun.

...and could probably be had for pretty cheap around now.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

New gun pr0n!

S&W 442-2

Just for comparison...

Range report coming tomorrow!

The Boomershooter: Savage 10fp

Mmmmm... Heavy barrel

I'm itching to get this to a local 700 yard range. A range report will follow within a month.

Case modding is fucking stupid

But this is fucking awesome.