Friday, December 28, 2007

Bowling Night, 12/27/07

Two words: Freakin' Poppers!

I don't know what it is with those steel popper targets. Maybe it's the fact I'm shooting down towards them since it's not at chest or eye level. Whatever it is, though, I lose more time in a match with those targets than anything else.

After going through the stage and then going through the reshoot, I found that I spent even more time on the re-shoot than the first run-through. These should be easy targets, as they stand out as bright white against a dark background. For whatever reason, though, it's one of my slowest sections of a stage.

Someday, though, I'll figure out what I'm doing and get over that hump.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I wish you all peace and happiness for the years to come.

"For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord." - Luke 2:11

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bowling Night, 12/13/07

Well, I think I saved Santa's helpers last night. Our no-shoot targets were decked out with little red Santa hats last night. My shooting wasn't great, but it wasn't bad. I got a really good tip about using my support hand when firing two-handed. Keeping the grip of my support hand strong will help me keep on target. I'd like to score a lot more A-zone shots since those will both score and time. The big success for me will be able to achieve the double-tap: one shot followed up a second that is so quick that they'll land close to each other. It's not a mythical shot by any means, but it's going to require a lot more practice on my part. Recoil isn't a bad thing with regards to the XD40. Keeping it under control with a strong support hand will mean faster follow-ups and better scores. Practical shooting is a skill that requires a lot of self-control as well as controlling your point of aim. It's a lot like golf or bowling in that respect. You have to be very precise even though you're dealing with a lot of physical forces trying to keep you from doing what you want: gravity, wind, muscle power, speed, centrifugal force, all the fun parts of motion. If a stronger grip will help tame those forces a little more, it will be worth it.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Bowling Night for 12/06/07

I have a love-hate relationship with my monthly IPSC qualifiers. Any good shooting I do on the other weekly stages disappears with the qualifier stages. Last night's run was no different. I was shooting low most of the time. My guess was I was pushing the gun down to fight recoil. It just tells me that I need to practice double-tap shooting more often. Despite all the problems, I still managed to have a fun night of shooting. Between the social aspect of the shooting match and the common pursuit of refining a useful skill you can have a lot of fun even if you're not a perfect shot.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

So Public it's even on NPR!

Today, December 5th, is DAY OF THE NINJA! Get out there and enjoy your inner ninja! Walk, sneak, and even work in your cubicle... like a ninja!

Funny how this holiday always manages to sneak up on us, isn't it? Ah, sometimes I amuse mysA;LFDHGL[L;REJYHY80-SDHG

Ow... those ninja critics are murder!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Advent is here

The cold weather decided to show up along with one of the most important seasons of the Church. I won't complain a bit about a longer or warmer autumn. Advent is still a wonderful season regardless of the weather. Pope Benedict's homily on hope intertwines with his latest encyclical. The letter, Spe Salvi, deals with the theological virtue of hope. I'd suggest reading it. It's a very academic text, so the Holy Father has plenty of footnotes to provide further reading and research on this subject. The story of Saint Josephine Bakhita, a girl from Darfur who was sold into slavery in her home country and finally freed in Europe meshes with this message: regardless of status, hope is God's way of reminding us He is with us. The relationship between faith and hope is also well-discussed. It might be a bit long for some, but it's worth reading through to the end. It might allow for further insight into the nature of faith for some of you.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I hope everyone's Thanksgiving holiday was better than the previous year's. As for my family's Thanksgiving, it was nice. One of Dad's friends came over for Thanksgiving dinner and we had a fine old time shooting the breeze. Sadly, we did no shooting of any firearms as the weather decided to go from pleasant to cold and rainy overnight, and it's been this way seemingly all weekend. I also came down with some kind of cold. Note to anyone out there: those Zicam swabs work great. They really do help alleviate the worst problems of your usual cold.

I should also mention the Thanksgiving dinner, as it was delicious as usual. Mom worked her usual magic on the turkey, keeping the bird moist to where I'm sure I could have eaten some of the white meat. I prefer dark meat, though. The extra fat makes it better. Plenty of vegetables were in attendance for me, being green beans and these amazing mashed potatoes that Mom and Dad put together. Mom also made her usual deviled eggs, and there is definitely a trick to making them just right. We also had our usual bread stuffing, which is full of sage and tastes heavenly. For dessert we had originally gone out to Bakers Square to pick up one of their French Silk pies, but my Dad's friend brought over a no-bake cheesecake that was unique, and certainly put the pie down a few notches. It was a standard no-bake, except for the addition of Grand Marnier, Mozart Chocolate Liqueur, and Bailey's Caramel Cream. I can't really describe how good it was.

Now we get to wait for Christmas and New Years' Eve, and the fun will begin anew. The last two months of the year always seem to fly by quickly. I don't mind, though. The sooner we get through this nasty weather and get back into warm and sunny temperatures, the happier I'll be.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Pro-Life Option to Embryonic Stem Cells?

I certainly hope so. If the research in Japan and the US pans out, we may have added a little more value to human life. Turning your own skin into viable stem cells could be nothing short of miraculous. There's so much potential there to be able to save lives without taking the life of another in return.
Washington Post: Supreme Court to hear D.C. vs. Heller

Next spring the court will hear arguments in a case that could decide the constitutionality of handgun bans and other restrictions to the Second Amendment. The Heller case is interesting for seeing just how much a city, state, or federal district can ban the ownership of certain types of firearms. It is our right to defend ourselves when threatened with violence, and such a right has been enumerated in our Constitution. We do have the right to eschew violence as well, thanks to the Ninth Amendment. Thanks to the First Amendment, we also have the right to try to convince people to avoid committing acts of violence upon others.

We also have the right through the First Amendment to tell those people who preach non-violence that we strongly disagree with their opinion and will continue to keep that as the last resort should someone attempt to deprive us of our lives, our property or our inherent dignity. This is reconcilable with the potential act of violence stripping away the inherent dignity of the offender; he or she is a human being after all, and there is a base given by God that we must respect. Most criminals refuse to see that dignity in others, or they focus solely on themselves. By focusing on themselves, they twist that lens that reveals their own inherent worth, and declare themselves superior. Sometimes they will deny that any God-given dignity exists within them or the others around them and deny others their right to live peacefully. You can accept the abuse dished out by people like this, or you can resist them passively. You'll end up dead or subservient and unequal. You can resist actively by fighting, and they'll either be dead or they'll get the hint and leave you in peace. If we want to be left in peace, we must exhaust all available options first. You must defend yourself, though. Killing is the last thing you want to do. It should not be an easy choice, but it should be available nonetheless.

Even the Catholic Church recognizes this in the Catechism. Part 3, section 2, Chapter 2, Article 5, 2259 to 2269. (For those unfamiliar with it, think of the Bible as the Source Code and the Catechism as one of those huge books that give you very detailed answers as to why the source code reacts with programs in the way that it does. It's as much a troubleshooting guide as a "did you ever look at it this way?" guide.) We must respect the individual's right to live. We must also respect his right to defend himself from those who would deprive him of life. So, while we tell another person to look for ways of avoiding violence, we are not allowed to forbid him the right to kill when defending himself from those trying to kill him.

Some people have used the old phrase "Better to be tried by twelve than carried by six" to describe why they'll fight back. That's a bit too simplistic, but it gets the point across very well. It's my hope that the justices will affirm the right to individual right to self-defense as well as the right to own handguns for self-defense. This is going to be a big issue next year as both a legal issue and a political issue.

Monday, November 19, 2007

National Ammo Day - What Are We Buying?

Well, as for me it's four boxes of .40 S&W for my XD40, and two boxes of .357 Magnum for my Smith & Wesson 649 and its new companion piece, a Puma 92. The Puma is a Brazilian copy of the old Winchester model of 1892 lever-action rifle. Have you ever seen the old Chuck Connors tv western "The Rifleman" on any of the old networks? The gun he uses is a Winchester 92. The new version I have is all stainless steel instead of blued steel so it's slightly easier easy to clean and protect. The hardwood used for the stock is only mildly finished but quite nice nonetheless. It's a very affordable rifle, too, coming in well under $500. .357 Magnum is a common pistol caliber so I don't have difficulty finding ammunition for it.

So far I've bought 300 rounds of ammunition. It's not much, but it's a nice start anyway. My major purchases of firearms are pretty much complete. The next step is getting very good with them, and I've got quite a few years to do that.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

National Ammo Day is this Saturday!

Go out and buy a box or two of your favorite ammunition this weekend. Doing so ensures that you're voting with your dollars and supporting the firearms and ammunition manufacturers. And don't just go pick up a box at Wal-Mart and call it good, either. Head over to your local gun shop and put your money into the local economy, too. Your gun shop might have a nice range attached to it, and you might even find another gun for your collection or to fill a need. Don't have a deer rifle? Saturday will be a good chance for you (unless, of course, you're out hunting deer, as it's firearm deer season in Illinois) to get that rifle, shotgun, or handgun you've wanted.

If you'd like more information, go to The National Ammo Day website. Go buy a brick of ammunition and support the Second Amendment.
Bowling Night Report 11/15/07

There's not much new here. Went out, shot the stage twice, did about average. The steel targets dropped pretty quickly for me for once, so I'm happy there. I also finally got my timing down to make decent double-tap shots; that is, two shots in rapid succession. So I have the speed down for them. I'm running a heavy bullet through my .40 caliber pistol, and it goes nice and fast so I've got the power as well.

The accuracy, though, is still in need of a little work. I missed a few shots tonight which will pretty much negate one score tonight. I'd love to hear nothing but "Two Alpha" (meaning that both shots hit in Zone A of the target and are worth the most points) on each target as it is scored, but that'll be a while. As long as I get points on each target, though, it'll improve my scores.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Happy Birthday, Jarheads!

Congratulations and thanks to the United States Marine Corps for killing our enemies before the Air Force has to step in and do it right. What is it, 232 years of meek subservience to the Navy?


I've got family, friends, and co-workers who are or were in the Marines, and I'm very thankful for their service. Carry on, gentlemen, and enjoy the day.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Bowling Night Report, 11/8/07

I could also call this "Aaah! My ears!" night.

Tonight's first set of targets was shot through what is called a "Cooper Tunnel," which is basically to get you used to firing out of enclosed spaces. The "tunnel" is actually a 55-gallon plastic drum cut to half its height It's then set on its side on a frame, so basically you're shooting through this big "O" shape. You don't actually crawl into it, thankfully. However, you do get very close to it, and every shot is amplified as the noise echoes off the inside of the plastic barrel. Some people wonder why I wear double hearing protection (foam ear plugs underneath headphone ear protectors that cover the entire ear) when shooting anything louder than a .22. One, it's a habit from when I was in the Air Force. I fixed aircraft avionic systems and there were times you'd have to go through your operational checkouts by running the engines. Also, when launching or recovering aircraft, you'd be close to two very large turbofan engines so you'd be near noise levels of over 90 decibels (that's really loud). At full afterburner, the noise from the engines would go up to 180 decibels, and you do NOT want to have anything less than double hearing protection. So, by default I always kept ready a pair of foam earplugs for regular work noise and a headset for engine noise. This way I managed to stave off a lot of hearing loss. I always had good hearing as a kid, and I don't relish the idea of only having average hearing as I get older. So, to keep that hearing as good as possible, I wear double ear protection.

As for the shooting, my nemesis is apparently steel targets. I couldn't seem to hit them on the first shot at all last night. They're narrow targets so pulling shots left or right will be a definite miss. This is why you need accuracy. You also need to be able to knock the target down, which requires a decently-powerful round. Also, you need to do so quickly, as your score isn't just based on where you hit your target, but also how fast you completed the course. This is summed up in the motto of the group who invented the game, the International Practical Shooting Confederation. It's "Diligentias, Vis, Celeritas" which is Latin for "Accuracy, Power, Speed." Pretty simple, no? These are three simple ideas to combine and balance to achieve your goal of becoming a better shooter. I think I'll need a lot more practice during the week as well. Hopefully I can find the time for it.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Bowling Night, 11/1/07

So, I took a month off from shooting my weekly IPSC matches. I felt like I'd hit a plateau, so I needed to take a little time off. I went back tonight and wow, there was a great difference. Tonight's match was to engage seven targets with one shot each, do a mandatory reload, then engage all seven targets again with one shot each. Any shot after that would dock you ten points off of your score, so you had to really limit yourself. No-shoot targets were placed on top of five of the targets, partially concealing the targets. If you shot the no-shoot target, it was counted as a miss. The scenario was pretty much a modified "human shield" scenario, where you had to miss the human shields and get the nasty folks behind them. I did pretty well tonight. My shooting was still slower than some, but faster and more accurate than usual. The only problem was on the second re-shoot where I decided to go as fast as I could. I missed 3 shots out of 14, which isn't a good thing at all. The main shoot and first re-shoot, though were top-notch for me. Hopefully the scores will show the same.

I suppose this goes to show you that when you need to take a break, you take a break and rest. When you go back, you'll shoot better than if you try to tough it out. Shooting competitively is as much mental as it is physical. I also missed the smell of gunpowder, too. There's something about gunpowder that may not smell like victory, but definitely smells like fun.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Political Correctness, Imperial Rome, and a Little Validation

Thanks to Glenn Reynolds' being the center of the blogging universe for the time being, a post by Gail Heriot at The Right Coast came to my attention dealing with a book by Dr. John Ellis of the University of California at Santa Cruz. Dr. Ellis is a professor emeritus whose specialty is Germanic literature. Now, as a History major, I had to dabble a bit in literature, a bit in economics, a lot in political theory, a lot in research and finding primary sources, and some amount in interpretation and writing. It is the primary sources, interpretation, and political theory which I'll deal with for this post.

Dr. Ellis' book excerpt in the Washington Post from his 1997 book Literature Lost: Social Agendas and the Corruption of the Humanities upholds within its first few paragraphs an idea I was explaining to my professor before she dismissed it out of hand as "wrong." For all the problems I may have with Dr. Stocking's office politics, she is an excellent professor for Roman history. She specialized in 5th-century Spain, putting her right into the study of the Late Western Empire and the effects of its collapse. We were discussing the concept of German tribal structures as shown in Tacitus' Germania. In his description of German tribes, Tacitus compares the nobility, wisdom, and morality of these "barbarians" with the moral depravity, laziness and general unworthiness of Roman upper-class life.

If this sounds familiar like the "noble savage" myth of Rousseau, you'd be right, and Dr. Ellis says it as such. Tacitus was projecting the qualities of his desired Roman society upon a rather warlike and bloodthirsty group of people back in the first century A.D. He had no actual primary source, relying on secondhand accounts from travelers. Where Tacitus lacked information, he plugged in his ideas of what their society would be like based on a simple but faulty premise. His premise was that Roman society was rotten to the core, and that as the Germans were not Romans, therefore their culture was not rotten either. This, mind you, was the same group of enlightened people who later invaded Roman lands, trashed the place and tossed Western Europe into the era known as the Dark Ages.

The evidence I used to back up why Tacitus would project his own wishes upon foreigners were my professor's own lectures on previous Roman writers and their own problems with historical accuracy. Men like Livy and Cicero couldn't always get a verbatim report of which general said what to his army especially if the battles they recounted took place centuries before the author's birth. So, they had to figure out what they would say if placed in that historical event and then ascribe it to the historical figures. This was done to not only inspire the reader but also to pass along a moral truth as seen by the author. Tacitus followed in the same tradition as these men, ascribing certain moral traits to the varied characters in the books. The issue here was a matter of scale as Tacitus wrote of the tribes in a manner stereotyping them as more noble than mere Romans. He gave the tribes the aspects of the morals he wished to instill within his readers. How then could Tacitus be one hundred percent accurate with his descriptions of the Germanic tribes? He was not one hundred percent accurate because he projected his ideal Roman society on a group that was nothing like Rome at all.

For this defense, I was simply told I was wrong and the matter was settled. Tacitus was not accurate in everything, but the Germans were morally and culturally superior to the crummy old Romans. He contention was that at least Tacitus got that part right. I should have known better than to badmouth the Visigoths' ancestors in front of someone who studied them so closely.

However, let's go to 7 and a half years later. Thanks to pure happenstance, I find that a professor from the University of California at Santa Cruz is of a similar mind that Tacitus was projecting his desires for a better Rome upon the Germanic tribes. Dr. Ellis does go off on a different tangent showing the roots of the "noble savage" myth, where a writer filled in what he didn't know with what he thought was ideal. This leads to all kinds of wackiness with folks like Jean-Jacques Rousseau and his rebirth of the noble savage myth, the troubles with the French Revolution, and so on.

The effect is still the same though. Someone else agrees with me that Tacitus wasn't accurate in his descriptions, and wasn't accurate because he wanted to show everyone what Rome had thrown away in terms of morals and civil society. The fact it was an idealized Roman society doesn't make it less of an embellishment. Tacitus wasn't a liar out of intent to deceive, he was a poor guesser. It's a minor victory, but it's nice to have my arguments backed up by scholarly writing. I only wish I'd had Dr. Ellis' book in my possession when I made my argument.
Three Words:

Freakin' Red Sox!!!

The Rockies just did not have the energy to go past 8 innings against the Freakin' Red Sox. This is the second sweep that they can chalk up for the Rivals of Those Stinking Yankees. Well, Colorado, maybe next year your team will be in again, ready to avenge this year's loss. This is under the supposition that St. Louis doesn't self-destruct like this year.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Meh, it doesn't look like the Rockies are doing too well. I'm still hoping for the best for Colorado, though. I'd like to see another expansion team get a championship.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Another World Series Looms...

While my Cardinals sucked their way into third place in the National League Central (aka "The Special League" considering how bad all the teams were this year), I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Colorado Rockies managed to play their way into the World Series. When I was in tech school at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, the Rockies had their inaugural season. I watched a lot of their games on tv and saw two of their first-season games live. As a result I've got a place in my heart for the Rockies, though nothing like the Cardinals I've followed since childhood. I'm hoping they'll give their opponents in the American League a challenging series.

As far as the American League goes, I'm pulling for the Indians. Cleveland is a good team, sure, but it also helps to have a vocal and devoted fanbase to energize the team. They're like Cubs fans in that respect. I don't care how Boston loses the American League Championship Series as long as they lose. 2004 wasn't that long ago, and I'll admit to being just a tad bitter over that.

I'm hoping that the Rockies win in in 5 games.

Friday, October 12, 2007

SIU Pres. Poshard: Not A Plagiarist

I've kept this on the back burner for a while, watching the process here and there. Basically it looks like the people who charged President Poshard with plagiarism used more recent standards of citation practices to make their claims. When Poshard's dissertation citations were compared to those of other students in the same time period, he was found to be maintaining the standards set back then. This was at its core a big game of "gotcha" from whatever group of people at SIUC were ticked off at him. I think it's kind of stupid for him to have to update his dissertation to newer standards when no one else is required to do that, but it's a minor hassle at worst. President Poshard has been exonerated according to this article. I have no idea how much of that is true outside of the article.

I graduated from SIUC with my BA in History. Naturally, I followed with great interest when a former history professor who taught there when I attended was raked over the coals for offering a different viewpoint of race radicals in the 1960s and 1970s as an optional reading assignment. I never went to any of Dr. Bean's classes, but a problem in the History Department still made me take notice anyway. The situation with Pres. Poshard is quite similar: find a minor difference and present it as damning evidence of malfeasance. Way to go, Southern.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

It's not even Winter and the Blahs have hit

This is one of the many things I hate about changing seasons. As soon as it starts getting colder, I have less and less desire to go out and actually do stuff after work. Weekends are no trouble but after work I want little else but to go home and vegetate. I don't even feel like going to my competition shoot tonight. It must have something to do with the lack of sunlight. Well, there's always next week.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

I didn't shoot this past week either. The car was in the shop, so I had no transportation out to the range. It was getting some body work done. Last week did provide a pretty good-sized surprise for the City of Heroes MMO community. We got our first looks at Issue 11.

It was known that in Issue 11 two new powersets would be available, those being Dual Blades and Willpower. These two sets will provide some new options for the melee archetypes in the game (Brutes, Scrappers, Stalkers and Tankers). Most of the ranged and support players weren't too happy as this doesn't help them much. The biggest surprises of all came in a one-two punch combination: Weapon Customization and Flashback.

Weapon Customization is a nice cosmetic feature for the game, as all the various players of weapons-using archetypes can swap out older weapon models for newer ones. The ability to change colors on some weapons will help make the characters a little more unique. I was very surprised to hear about all of the custom weapons models for the underused War Mace powerset that Tankers can choose. This set has been the neglected child of the Tanker secondary powersets for quite a long time. Mediocre damage plus a chance for weak stuns did not make this a very good set. This set will be getting many new models to replace the standard mace. It seems War Mace tankers will now have a plethora of tools such as hammers, wrenches and shovels to use in place of the spiky war mace, as well as other mace designs.

Flashback is touted as giving players a chance to replay their favorite story arcs with their favorite characters. In addition, you can also set a lot of parameters for each mission to further challenge yourself. If this is pulled off properly, I think it could be as big as the previous Issue's hero and villain co-operative zone and random Rikti attacks. I think it ought to be pretty decent as the level of people complaining about it is still outweighed by the number of people willing to give the developer team a chance to stand or fall on their own. The last Issue was a big success, I hope this will be the same.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

After a week away from work, I'll say this: now I know why I don't take vacations. I've been bored all week. I don't travel anymore, and I really don't much care for even driving out of town. I won't take the train, either, as one trip from Chicago to Springfield sucked enough for me to rule future use of our rail system. Yes, I am judgmental like that. From now on I'll stick with going to work every day unless I'm sick or need to be away from work for other reasons.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Bowling Night, 9/20/07

Last night wasn't great, but it wasn't bad, either. I started trying to fire more double-tap shots than normal. It's not perfect, since I have to ensure I don't let the trigger go fully forward. There's a point where the trigger goes forward and the sear resets. Eventually I'll have that "sweet spot" on the trigger memorized and my times should start dropping. Other than that, I did okay for Production. One of the competitors in Open Class (where you get to do all kinds of custom work to your gun, run red-dot electronic sights, and there's no real limit to your magazine capacity) ran through the stage in eight seconds flat. It would have been much slower if he would have had to stop to reload during his shoot. The shooting was good for everyone last night, though, even if you had trouble with your gun.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

How much do we know about American Civics?

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute, a conservative education think-tank, regularly puts out a list of US universities who perform a great disservice to students by not reinforcing the lessons learned in previous grades regarding US History and Civics. I've always considered Civics to be sort of a catch-all category, as it takes lessons from history, economics, and government classes and puts it all together to show the effect of these things on a US citizen. It can get watered down sometimes. Anyway, ISI has put up the Civics quiz they gave to college freshmen and seniors. It's 60 questions, multiple choice format.

Take the quiz.

I missed 1 out of the 60 myself, the question regarding the Federal Reserve purchasing government bonds. I scored a 98.33%. The average Harvard student? 69.56% for the average student there in regards to the basic knowledge of our nation.

Thankfully I didn't miss any in the American History section. The sad thing is that the history and current events and basic economics in this quiz should be known by heart to college freshmen. They should know the philosophical foundations of the Founding Fathers, and why it led men like Thomas Jefferson to write the Declaration of Independence. They should know what problems occurred during America's first years that led James Madison write the Constitution. This history is our inheritance. It's our precedent to know what to do and what not to do to make our nation more successful. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to be a history teacher when I was in college. If I could make this knowledge second-nature to every student of mine, I'd have given them a foundation to know why our United States are great and why it matters for us to preserve it. I don't think that's what schools are looking to pass on to students these days if this basic quiz is any indication. It's almost like we spend more time praising those who dissent without ever looking at the cause for the dissenting opinion. Only half of the story is told, and when that happens ignorance reigns.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Happy 60th Birthday to the United States Air Force.

I may only have fixed avionics systems when I was in, but it's still 4 of the best years of my life. I'd do it all over again if need be. The general staff finally added extra training to Basic, reflecting the change in battlefield tactics by our enemies. I remember most of the junior enlisted asking why we didn't have more base ground defense training, why we didn't have more range time. I also remember that being ignored as it wasn't a mission priority. I'm thankful that attitude has changed. Carry on, Airmen, and serve our nation proudly.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I just got back from the range, which was very crowded this weekend. It seems a bunch of college students decided to come in and learn the ropes of basic handgun safety. Good. There wasn't any macho posturing, it was all "keep your mouths shut and listen" type of training. Sure they compared shots, but they did so safely and carefully. It's nice to see someone come to the range and find out that they're a better shot than they thought they were.

I managed to grab a lane and load up. My Springfield XD40 is still in good shape, and I managed to keep almost all of my shots in the "A" zone of a standard IPSC target at 7 yards. Some were just flyers I didn't control as well. They hit the IPSC target, just not in the highest-scoring part of the target. For further assistance, I tacked up some 8" diameter bullseye targets. I kept most of them in the center, though I could see that after about 50 rounds I was pulling low and to the right. That meant it was time for the XD to go back into its case while I brought out my other handgun.

My other handgun is a Smith & Wesson model 649. It's a five-shot revolver in .357 Magnum. The barrel is pretty short as well at 2 and 1/8 inches. It's got a shroud that covers the hammer so it can be drawn more easily from concealment, but still allows you to pull the hammer back and fire single-action shots if you like. That configuration is what S&W calls a "bodyguard" configuration, and it's no surprise that the original version which was (.38 Special only, not .357/.38 like mine) was marketed towards bodyguards and other personal security types.

Now, .357 Magnum is known for having a kick, especially in small revolvers like mine. The .357 was designed back in 1934 as an answer to FBI and police needs to shoot through the engine blocks and bulletproof glass of its day. Either way, the .357 is designed as powerful ammunition, and is very good for personal defense.

So I warmed up with a few rounds of Remington .38 Special. I'm not very happy with this ammunition as a round for my revolver because it throws out a lot of flash. The powder doesn't burn completely, it seems. If anything, the tiny black sight on the 649 made me happy that my XD40 has a sight that is at least slightly more visible in low-light conditions. If I modify my 649, it will be to get a high-visibility sight installed. I managed to keep most of my shots inside the 8" target. Short-barreled guns like the 649 aren't designed for long-distance shooting, they're designed for about 7 yards at best for us lesser beings, though a skilled and well-practiced shooter can make the gun effective out to 25 or so yards.

So next, I fired off ten rounds of .357 Magnum, from Speer's Gold Dot line of personal defense ammunition. The bullet size, a 135-grain jacketed hollow point, and the powder were designed to create a good balance of speed, stopping power and less muzzle flash. Less muzzle flash is good for low-light conditions since it won't affect your night vision as much. One thing I noticed about the Gold Dot bullets compared to other .357 Magnum rounds is that the opening of the bullet is much wider than other jacketed hollow point rounds. Hollow points are designed to expand, so the Gold Dot probably starts out wider to help jump-start the expansion when it hits. The Gold Dots are my standard .357 round, so I used those as a base line for testing out another brand of ammunition. These rounds will cause the 649 to jump more compared to the .38 rounds. The flash wasn't super noticeable like the .38s, and the recoil is solid but not uncontrollable. Again, I got a decent enough shot out of 10, though only one of my ten-ring shots grazed the bullseye. My first string of 5 shots was double-action only, and the accuracy was okay. Not great, but okay. The second string was 5 shots using single-action. Single action shots are easier, if only because you don't have to fight the heavy trigger pull (2 pounds of force compared to about 11 pounds for double-action). I did substantially better, with four of five shots going into the 9 and ten rings. The fifth flew off to graze the bottom of the target. I flinched on that one. Overall the Gold Dot ammunition is good self-defense stuff.

I had that as my baseline. Now it was time to compare something to it. So, I looked along the shelf of the ammo counter at the range and found Black Hills 158-grain jacketed hollow points. How would it fare compared to the specifically-formulated-for-snubnose-revolvers Gold Dots? I decided to give it 15 rounds instead of 10. 10 would be shot double-action and five would be single action. My first double action shot was about 95% in the bullseye, but even with my single action shots I never got in the red again. I was expecting a lot more flash from unburned powder, and possibly even a lot more kick since these were for use in any .357 revolver. I didn't get blinded by the flash and could reacquire just as fast with the Black Hills as I could the Speer ammo, and there was no perceptible difference in the recoil. I was expecting the heavier bullet to generate more pressure and maybe cause more recoil. That wasn't the case.

Upon comparing the targets I noticed that the wider openings of the Gold Dot bullets made a larger hole in the target than the Black Hills. My guess is that expansion would start much faster had I hit a solid target because of the increased surface area. That's also something to think about when considering self-defense ammunition. What stops your opponent faster? The kinetic energy of the bullet or the tissue damage from the more rapidly-expanding bullet?

The final comparison is price. It's around $25 for 20 of Speer's Short Barrel Gold Dots, and about $19 for 50 Black Hills Jacketed Hollow Points. Black Hills wins that easily.

So let's summarize it.

Price: Black Hills wins here.

Flash: No discernible difference.

Recoil: No discernible difference.

Extras: The Gold Dots start out making bigger holes.

The Black Hills 158-grain Jacketed Hollow Points are a cheap and effective alternative to Speer's Short Barrel Gold Dots.

Other things found out at the range: shooting with a bunch of new shooters is fun, and high-visibility sights would probably improve the 649 for use in darker conditions.

Friday, September 14, 2007

There's no Bowling Night report this week. I didn't feel much like going. This weekend, however, I'll probably wind up at the range to test out some various types of ammunition. I want to see what works best in my guns.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I want to ask my readers to take some time to pray today if they're so inclined. Pray for peace, pray for successful conclusions to our involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, and pray for everyone who has lost a loved one due to this war. We've had lots of victories in both countries, and slowly but surely we are seeing that yes, nations can be governed by something other than violence and oppression in the Middle East. The people of Iraq and Afghanistan are capable of joining the outside world without the constant threat of violence from their own government. Neither of the two new democracies are perfect by any means; there is a level of corruption in the governments that most people in the US don't recognize. I see Iraq as having a Chicago-style government at the moment. Instead of ward bosses and neighborhood associations we've got sheikhs and other tribal leaders each with their own ideas on how things are to be run. Replace "ward" with "tribe" and you'll see the similarities. If ward bosses dealt with food and power distribution, we'd probably see something similar to what is seen in Iraq and Afghanistan right now.

I don't mind so much that these two nations haven't gotten past this stage just yet. It's going to take years for people to understand that they no longer have to fight for every scrap of basic necessities. Living under regimes like Saddam Hussein's dictatorship and the Taliban made people fearful, forced them to justify their existences on a daily basis to their rulers. You don't replace that kind of conditioning quickly or easily.

We found connections between Hussein's government and al-Qaeda, tenuous as they were. Members of a totalitarian state's secret police don't just take a few weeks' vacation on a whim in order to pursue their life's dream of being a driver/bodyguard for the head of an international terrorist group. Blind eyes were turned to training facilities being used for more than just government operations. We overestimated the WMD threat and caught the Baathists while they were still in the planning stages of rebuilding an arsenal, and found caches of chemical weapons that went unfound during the post-1991 inspections scheme. Thankfully they'd started to degrade. We were very lucky to catch them early and disorganized.

For anyone complaining that there's no separation of church and state here, try living under the Taliban. You have some serious perspective problems if you think that you live in a theocracy because most members of Congress are regular churchgoers. I'd love to say they've finally learned a few of the lessons being taught, but Congressmen are human, too. Too bad their slip-ups can cost taxpayers so much and damage the morale of our armed forces while they're serving. Regardless, the threat to people's very rights to speak freely is blown way out of proportion these days. If it was that bad we'd see all the websites whose authors are critical of the President being shut down by the government.

It's staggering to see the number of changes in life from six years ago today. I remember the lack of urgency regarding national defense, the carefree attitude from the day before. Some of that joy has returned, thankfully. There's less sense of complacency that we'll always be safe and secure without having to lift a finger. There are more people who will stand up to defend their neighbor, even when said neighbor is rude and insulting. There's a larger number of people who understand that the security of their nation starts with them, not with their government.

Until we all see the scourge of terrorism reduced and contained, the least we can do is pray.

Monday, September 10, 2007

In Which I Say Something Honest About My Literary Background

Apparently I'm one of the few people in my circle of friends who wasn't all that impressed when reading A Wrinkle In Time in first grade. I had no problem with Isaac Asimov, loved reading Joseph Wambaugh, and enjoyed reading many technical manuals on how to operate heavy machinery such as cranes and other construction equipment. Madeline L'Engle, though, I just did not dig her writing. I read it, put it back and went on.

I've also realized that as I get older I read less fiction and less science fiction. The last two fiction novels I read were part of John Scalzi's current sci-fi series starting with Old Man's War. I was done with those books in a night each. They weren't too bad.

Something killed my desire to read fiction, most specifically fantasy and sci-fi. I'm not sure what it was. I know it wasn't The Three Musketeers that did it. I can re-read that book. I can read history books and classics and plow into them with no troubles. Even ancient stuff like The Odyssey, Herodotus' Histories, Livy's History of Rome, and Discourses on Salt and Iron makes for a good read for me. Modern fiction leaves me flat, sadly.

Hmm. Maybe it was William Gibson's Idoru that did it. I don't think I've ever finished that book. I think it might have been the only cyberpunk/ post-cyberpunk book I've never read in one sitting. I love that genre, the whole melding of human and machine, the tribalism that comes from a breakdown of the good society, the justifiable paranoia of living in a world where being watched is one part control and one part entertainment. There was always something in the background that said "despite this, we will adapt to it and overcome." Somehow, the desire to read anything new died out. At some point, nonfiction became more entertaining. I know many people first found a love for reading through L'Engle's books, and for that she deserves her Newbery Award. She didn't have much of an effect on my reading when compared to some of my peers. I don't begrudge the effect she had on others, though I do wonder why it didn't take with me. While my peers were reading A Wrinkle In Time, I was busy finishing The Choirboys.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Bowling Night, 9/6/07

The first match of the month is a qualifier at our shooting club. This helps to determine your skill level at IPSC matches and in the case of the serious competitors, national rankings. If I was near that level I'd be quite happy, that's for sure. Most clubs will have a qualifier match once per month. The only way I can really describe them is that a monthly qualifier is like haiku; the stage is short with little or no room for wasted ammunition, it goes by fast and requires a lot of skill to do it well. As for me, I shot my usual fair-to-middling match. I've got quite a few more qualifiers to run before I can see if I can go up to a higher skill rank.

The ranks for IPSC and USPSA (the US governing body for IPSC matches; dozens of nations have similar bodies) are Grand Master, Master, A, B, C, D, and U. U is Unranked and is for someone who hasn't shot enough qualifiers for a proper average yet. I'm at Rank D. As the matches are timed, you have to find a good balance between accuracy and speed to get the highest scores. I can hit nothing but perfect shots, but if I take 15 seconds setting up a shot I'll lose the time factor that's critical to a good score. Likewise, I can blaze through a match in 8 seconds, but if I miss half my shots my score suffers. Rank D is usually the slow but accurate crowd, which is a majority of the new guys. I'm not happy with that level of skill so I use every non-qualifier match as a chance to increase my speed with my accuracy, get more familiar with the pistol that I'm using, and get a good feel for how I'm reacting to the situation provided by the target setup.

I get more chances to qualify later on in the year at gun clubs around the county. I've been thinking about taking the drive out to one and see if I can increase my rank through more practice.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Celebrating the end of Summer, 62 Grains at a Time

I headed over to the local indoor range and finally got a good sight zero on my AR-15. The front sight adjuster works like a charm. I had no problems trying to move the front sight post. At 25 yards it shoots where I point it. At 50 yards, however, I still need some more work. Rifle shooting may have a lot of similarities to pistol, but the distances traveled make precise breath control and trigger squeeze even more important. Moving even half an inch to the left can mean the difference between a perfect shot and a missed opportunity. I'm also trying out using a sling to remove some of the body's natural shaking when you stay still. It's a great help as it keeps you on target longer. One thing is for sure, though, and that is that I need more practice. I think between using the AR and the .22 I've got plenty of chances to become a decent rifle shot. Once I do that, then I can start playing around with different bullet wights and lengths to find a .223 cartridge that I and my rifle both like. The 62-grain full metal jacket round is pretty nice. I want to try some heavier rounds and some soft-point or hollow-point rounds to see how they react to my shooting.

Shooting is an expensive hobby, but it is never a boring one.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

I didn't go shooting Thursday night. I got home from work and didn't want to move out of my chair. Some nights I'm ready to go out and compete and some nights I'm not. I'd rather miss out a night of shooting than show up and waste ammo because I didn't listen to my body. Ah, well. Tomorrow is Labor Day, and I will be making a trip out to one of the ranges out here. I need to get a good sight zero on my AR-15, as well as doing some more target shooting with the old .22 rifle. I also might take the revolver as well. I have a lot of .38 Special to burn through, and I think that firing it outdoors will probably be better than firing it inside. It's rather dirty ammunition, leaving a lot of smoke in the air.

Eh, knowing me I'll sleep until noon and spend the afternoon on the internet reading the news. It's a holiday.

Monday, August 27, 2007

29 Counties in Illinois Stand Against Further Gun Laws

Yes, they're non-binding. The point of the resolutions are to show the governor and the Cook County elected officials that their love of excessive gun laws should stay in Cook County. The board members in Pike and Brown Counties have put their counties on record saying that the Cook County legislators need to stop thinking that their laws work for everyone. All of the gun laws that Governor Blagojevich wants to sign will have a deleterious effect for anyone trying to buy spare parts or extra magazines for their preferred guns.

Using myself as an example, I do competitive practical shooting with handguns at this time and in the future I'd like to expand that to 3-gun matches. 3-Gun matches test your skills with handguns, rifles and shotguns. A full course will have you firing multiple magazines of ammunition from your rifle, so 30-round magazines are a plus. I understand why some Cook County types get antsy around semi-automatic weapons such as the ones based off of the AR-15/M-16 platform. These are built on the same pattern as rifles used by military and police forces. Gangs want these weapons as well, though they'd rather have the fully-automatic versions instead. Contrary to popular belief it is not easy to convert a semi-automatic version of the AR-15 to a select-fire or automatic-only operation. In most cases it's downright impossible without access to a machine shop, and even then you will most likely destroy the lower receiver before you make it a functioning automatic rifle. Nonetheless, these weapons scare the living daylights out of politicians, because of their cosmetic features. It appears that they'll try to restrict the number of rounds fired instead since banning the guns outright is a non-starter. All this does is drive up sales of rifle magazines. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I'd say the Democrats were getting kickbacks from gunmakers to drive up their sales. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, however.

The main reason Cook County pols do this stuff is to placate their voters. A kid gets shot when criminal activity occurs, the people in said victim's neighborhood go out in front of the cameras and demand that something be done, so the pols put together a law that affects the entire state. Meanwhile, another kid gets shot, and the pols get pressure from religious "community leaders" to ban all guns. The pols try passing a law while another kid gets shot. The pols got those laws passed, so they get re-elected. It doesn't mean that all violence ceases. It just means that more people are unable to defend themselves and get their assailants to back off. Laws which do little to empower the law-abiding get passed and weaken the common people to further predations by criminals. If Cook County wants to force every city, town, and village to be a gun-free community, they need to ensure that the law goes no further than the the Cook County line.

Sangamon County needs to step up and pass a resolution similar to Pike County's resolution. Sangamon County is the home to the state capitol, and it would be a great win for the gun-rights crowd. It might also embolden other counties in Central Illinois to do the same. Seventy counties out of 102 saying "no more" may only be a blip to the politicians who only look out for their neighborhoods, but it's a large enough blip to make them take a second look. The resolution-setting crowd would do well to focus on counties like Sangamon, Macon, McLean and Peoria. Getting these counties on board will help to spread the idea that Cook County needs to police its own messes in its own territory before dictating to others how they should live.

I've only had the pleasure of driving through Pike countys on my way to some Knights of Columbus events in Quincy, though I've wanted to stop by PASA Park to check out its shooting ranges. A trip may be necessary some weekend.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Yesterday I woke up to hear the rather gleeful reporting that a new book about Mother Teresa showed that throughout her life she doubted her faith and even the existence of God. The letters collected in the book show her constant searching for God, only occasionally getting a glimpse of God's presence. The evening news seemed to also take great delight in the fact that the author is a priest who is also her postulant for canonization. Both of the segments devoted to this seemed to throw the idea around that Mother Teresa did not believe in God.

The news segments could not be further from the truth. Mother Teresa still had her faith, even to the end. Though she could not feel God's presence, her work continued unabated. Though decades passed between her feeling the presence of Christ by her side her mission to care for the poor, the dying, the unloved, never wavered. Was this a single-minded devotion to duty, or perhaps a feeling that since she'd been "caught" she should continue the charade? It was not. Every act of kindness, every second spent with one who was ignored, these were her cries to God: please give me a sign of Your existence!

She was asking for her faith to be confirmed, though even Jesus said that no signs except the Resurrection would be seen. In short, Mother Teresa struggled with doubt as all Christians do. We cannot see God, we are constantly amazed by the wonders of science and horrified by the excesses of man against his fellow man and we doubt God's existence. We desperately want a sign given to us so we can say to others "Now you can believe!" We want to be right, and want everyone to know how right we are. We are human and we do not watch ourselves as we envelop ourselves in hubris. This false pride in knowing everything there is to know, and the fear of being wrong leads to doubt God's existence. The motive for belief is questioned and leads to one of many questions on the nature of existence if God does exist.

Faith conquers that doubt. For the faithful, God does exist and though He is not always felt in the believer's life, faith reminds us that he is there. Mother Teresa prayed despite her questioning of her beliefs and motives. She had faith to continue her works and her prayer despite these questions. Mother Teresa had moments of doubt in her life but faith, trust in God, is what kept her going forward. She believed.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bowling Night, 8/23/07

It wasn't a great night in terms of speed and it wasn't a great night in terms of accuracy, either. For once, the steel plate targets decided to cooperate like the poppers and the cardboard targets normally do. I was off my game tonight. Well, there's always next week.
So, the engineers working on the 35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis-St. Paul may have found something that caused the bridge to deteriorate faster than it normally would. The result? Pigeon droppings!

I think this calls for learning to shoot trap and skeet in order to help reduce the population of bridge-wrecking birds.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Well, that illegal immigrant who was cooped up in the church in Chicago got arrested and deported for violating a 1997 deportation order. Funny how they didn't catch her going out the door in Chicago, but waited until she was in Los Angeles. She broke the law, why should she not be punished because of it? There's a big difference between being charitable and being taken for a sucker. I think these churches that are providing sanctuary are getting taken for a bunch of suckers. If you're going to live here, follow our rules for becoming a citizen or permanent resident. There are so many new citizens I've seen come to the United States who went through the entire process. Was it tough? I'm sure it was, but they got through it. Maybe that's what it is. Maybe the illegals don't have the strength of will to get through the process.

If that's the case, they know which way is out.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sorry, gang, no Bowling Night report this week. I didn't feel like going. Hopefully I'll get a chance to head out to the nearby range for some further work with the AR and the .22
Dutch Bishop Suggests Calling God "Allah"

Okay, clearly Pope Benedict needs to have a talk with this guy. The Arabic word for God is "Allah," and it's heard regularly in Masses. Those Masses do happen to be held entirely in Arabic, though. His suggestion makes it sound like Catholics in his diocese should be using "Allah" in place of the Dutch word for God. Funny how that just happens to be "God." Mind you, this bishop also advocates stealing bread if you're hungry. Here's the problem. He doesn't exactly give the circumstances where it's acceptable, and he should at least refer to Scripture and the relevant parts of canon law and the Catechism. His stance on using condoms to prevent AIDS is troubling as well, if only that he should properly teach the virtues and practice of chastity, continence and abstinence. I think he's mistaken popularity for authority, and in my opinion he'd rather stir up controversy through sound bites than stir it up by actually sticking to Catholic teachings. If he wants to be on television so much, he should do it by preaching the Truth that is Jesus Christ. That will provide more than enough controversy for anti-religious media producers.

If you'll also notice, he manages to annoy both Muslim and Protestant alike with his advice. Great job, Bishop Muskens! Yes, exacerbate the problems between Muslims and Christians with this statement, and expand the rift between Catholics and Protestants.

Bishop Muskens needs some Papal guidance in the manner of wall-to-wall counseling. I do hope that he will receive that guidance. We have enough troubles in our Church as it is, and this just adds something new to it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

SJ-R.COM - Capitalism did its job well, but it’s time for change

I have only one major question about this article: What is his alternative to capitalism?

Would he like there to be central planning of some sort as envisioned by the numerous production boards and agencies created during World War II?

What will he do if people who don't think like him wind up running his alternative system? In fact, what will he do if these central planners should turn out to think that his wants should be lower priority than someone else's wants? I think the writer has mistaken his wants for "needs." He'd much rather start class warfare than offer any real alternatives by name.

It does not appear to me that the author has fully thought out the consequences and possibilities that might occur should an alternative to capitalism be put into place. The writer may consider himself to be "progressive," but he's only putting forward a jealous rant instead of offering an actual idea in there. If he wants socialism and government-enforced equality and equal amounts of misery, he should say so. If he wants better management of tax dollars, he should say so.

Also, I would suggest that you avoid the reader comments. There are a lot of commenters who would rather sling hyperbolic statements around than actually comment on the article. That's about all I can say about the reader comments and still be charitable about it. Comments like the ones usually found in the Journal-Register's reader comments sections make me wonder when the people in my hometown decided to lower their collective skill in grammar.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

This is not the proper way to handle a gun in an IPSC match.

It's so wrong, yet so funny. It's looks like it's Sweden's version of Reno 911, a movie called "Kopps."
Bowling Night, August 9th Edition

Shooting left-handed is working better than I expected. When I first got my gun and brought it to the range, my shooting was awful, as it should be when you haven't touched a gun in over 10 years. You're going to be rusty.

As time went on, I saw that I wasn't getting any better. Was I just a naturally lousy shot, or was there something else? Well, one of the guys at the range suggested that I might be cross-eye dominant, that even though I was left-handed, my right eye was my primary focusing eye. I switched to shooting right-handed and suddenly my accuracy increases almost overnight. The range owner hooks me up with the local IPSC shooting club, and I start shooting competitively.

Well, there's a huge difference in being able to line up a shot on a static range and being able to line up a good shot when you're moving and trying to move from target to target quickly. My practical shooting was dismal. So, I checked my eye dominance again.

I'd either switched to left-eye dominance or I may not have been right-eye dominant at all. I think my scores jumped about ten to twenty percent in one week, and tonight's session just reinforced it. I'm shooting southpaw again.

One of the upsides is I now have two holsters that fit my gun should my eye dominance change. The other is that while I'm not great with my right-hand shooting I won't miss every single shot if I have to shoot right-handed. I do feel good that I've been able to increase my scores, too. The past two shooting sessions have been very good for me.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Bowling Night, 8/2/07

It seems all I needed to do was clean out the magazine which gave me such trouble last week, and it works fine again. I used it during the competition and there were no hangups. I ran three sessions, and my second seemed to be best. I now have enough qualifier matches to get ranked nationally. I have a feeling I'll be closer to the bottom of the pack than the top, but that's what happens unless you go into the competition with only a few months of regular shooting activity under your belt. I also fired some of the Black Hills jacketed hollow point rounds as well, mostly to make sure they still fed properly. I could easily see using these as self-defense ammunition, as they work great in my gun.

Of course, the chance to pick up any of my preferred Blazer Brass ammo dried up before I got to the local Wal-Mart, as everyone who fires my gun realizes how good it is. So, I got the second option, Winchester's 165-grain full metal jacket rounds. They're a decent target round, but they always leave soot or something close to it in my gun. It's very dirty ammunition.

Of course, if I was really into the competition beyond what I am, I'd have a reloading bench set up. Someday I'll be able to do that, but for now, no.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Wait, there was a weekend in there?

City of Heroes just released Issue 10, the latest patch/enhancement for the MMORPG. It's a blast. The former Rikti Crash Site has now also become the Rikti War Zone thanks to the nasty aliens deciding to invade us for reasons known only to those who have gone through the entirely new story arcs. I haven't finished them yet. The Rikti have also been visually upgraded as well, to include clothing. So now we all come to the realization that we've been fighting alien nudists all this time, and it's made a few heroes shudder. However, that attitude won't stop the invasion and now villains have a chance to get into the act as well. The Rikti War Zone is a hero-villain cooperation zone where heroes and villains can fight side-by-side in homage to the old comics trope of teaming up the likes of the Fantastic Four with Doctor Doom to save the world from one threat or another. And yes, there's still PVP zones so you can get back to doublecrossing each other like it ought to be.

The rest of the game world hasn't been left unaffected, either. Any team that successfully concludes the Lady Grey Task Force against the Rikti will trigger a zone invasion whereby a fleet of dropships will send hundreds of bombs to the ground and blast everything left and right. Shortly thereafter, hordes of Rikti will show up and attack everything in sight. The only major problem I've had with this is that if you get hundreds of heroes all firing off their powers while the aliens are firing off their powers, your computer and graphics card will start to lag behind. I had a case of powers not firing off until up to 2 minutes after pressing the keys. That was on the first day, and things have dropped down to a three to five-second delay. Also, there's no need to worry about zone-dpendent creatures, either. What will target "red" (fight at three levels higher than you) on a Level 1 hero will now target red on a Level 50 hero as well. The damage will scale so that you can team up with any mix of levels and powers. That part is a lot of fun.

Finally, we have a new raid option: the Rikti Mothership. Put together a team, conglomerate into a huge mass of teams, and set out to destroy the shield generators the surround the mothership. Once that's done, your teams have to scramble to set enough bombs to damage the Mothership so that it can't repair itself, return to its homeworld and bring back another army. Keeping it damaged will allow Vanguard, a shadowy multi-national anti-alien combat team, enough time to examine the mothership and find its major weaknesses. The ship is also swarming with the Rikti's elite troops and these guys are tough even for Level 50 heroes to fight. The average villain level is 53, so these guys are dangerous to everyone. If you get all the bombs set, you then have to deal with the Master of Weapons U'con G'rai, a Rikti general. He's a bit tough, much like how Siberian winters are a bit cold.

I have enjoyed this latest upgrade as much as when City of Villains came out. There's all kinds of great stuff to do. I'd love to see a few decision-tree-based "mysteries" included some time for the detectives among us, too. You'd have to figure out how to randomize the "who" in the whodunit, though.

With this, the police radio/newspaper, task forces/strike forces, and trials, you can breathe new life into old heroes and experience all kinds of new content with your newer ones as well. I'm keeping my subscription current.

Friday, July 27, 2007

No Bowling Night Report This Week

I apparently left my competitive mindset at work last night. I'll have to make up for it with a range trip this weekend.

I also got my front sight adjuster and "Oh Shoot" spring and pin kit from Rock River Arms. A quick test on the sight this morning shows that the adjuster works perfectly and will be going in the range bag in a place of honor with the handguard removal tool. The spring and pin kit stay in the case with my rifle.

It has now gotten much easier to zero in my rifle. This makes me a happy shooter.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Gun Shop Owner IDs VT Wannabe?

It looks like a student at Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville decided that he wanted a whole bunch of guns all at once. That's not a problem, normally. It is a problem if you get all twitchy about it at the store. The problem is compunded further if you've written something that threatens a campus shooting spree if you don't get money in a certain amount of time. It's even worse if you abandon your car and leave the note where it can be found.

There's something else here that doesn't add up. He's under investigation for fraud and theft in regards to making a false online sale at a gun auction site. He's acting like he's trying to be some kind of gunrunner, but failing miserably at it. I suppose we should be glad for such small favors. But he's also got the whole double life thing going: two passports (American and Nigerian), two places of residence (Englewood NJ and St. Louis) and two seemingly distinct personas (the nice guy persona is posted on Facebook, the angry college student on MySpace). His friends all deny he could do something like that, as he's a nice guy around them. He's also a fraternity president who apparently is a self-styled rapper, writing lyrics typical of the genre.

So, we've perhaps got a guy here who has some kind of split personality problems, or we're faced with a guy who's a thug using a nice guy act to cover his trail, or even a Walter Mitty-type character who conflates fantasy with reality. I definitely want more information on this. It's a shame we can't trust every gun owner to be responsible, but it's better to weed out the miscreants instead of punishing the entire group.

Oh, before your anti-gun friends freak out over online gun sales, remind them that in order to receive a gun via the mail you MUST have a valid Federal Firearms License. Those things aren't cheap and you do get a lot of regular scrutiny (and if the local agents are dicks, regular harassment, too) from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. If I were to make an online purchase of any gun, I would have to have it sent to one of the local FFL holders. These FFL holders are mainly gun dealers with their own shops and stock, so in my case it's just easier to order something directly through the shop owner. Besides, transfer fees have gone up recently because of people trying to pull crap like what happened downstate. So, try as you might, you can't just go to the internet, order an automatic rifle and have it shipped right to your doorstep without there being some kind of government observation. Mail-order gun sales were prohibited with the Gun Control Act of 1968. You don't break that law unless you really like the idea of spending time in federal prison.

Also, the Saluki alumnus in me says "Thank God it didn't happen in Carbondale! They have enough problems down there!"

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The sun is out, the birds are singing

...and I'm stuck in the office. Today looks like perfect weather for outdoor shooting. I guess I'll wind up doing what I normally do instead: practicing my draw and initial aim for tomorrow night's IPSC match. Fifteen minutes of doing nothing but draw, bring the gun to eye level and point at the target.

I'd also love to talk about my job. Suffice it to say that the thrill has not yet left the job, despite being here almost a year. Most of my other jobs had the enjoyment crushed out of them long before this point in time. On average, my old customer service jobs burned me out in about five months. Here I am at almost eleven months and I'm loving the job, despite taking phone calls that range from assuring campaign treasurers that we don't arrest people because of paperwork mistakes (my agency doesn't have that kind of power, we give it over to the State's Attorney if we see something that is truly criminal in nature) to giving software tutorials over the phone to first-time electronic filers. It seems sometimes like those are the only calls we get, but they're a lot more fun now than similar working with similarly-upset callers in the private sectors.

My job has also been a wonderful lesson in keeping political opinions to oneself and getting the job done. Sure, I'd love to berate some state and local politicians for their pin-headed ideas on how to govern, but I may work with the treasurers of those pols' campaigns whenever a phone call comes in. I have to put everything aside and be politically neutral. I can't favor one group over another. I also can't work on any political commitees for candidates or referenda due to those creating conflicts of interest with my job.

That's why my blog has become more or less a shooter's diary with the occasional Second Amendment-related post thrown in. Gun ownership is a non-partisan issue, despite how political parties in general line up in regards to ownership issues. It's something that is every American citizen's right to learn to the best of their ability. I don't sympathize with people who choose not to exercise this right, but I have no problems with letting them continue their existence. I only have a problem when people who wish to eliminate gun ownership decide to force others to take the same position as they do. Said anti-ownership types should not mistake the kindness and good nature of gun owners for weakness. Likewise, gun owners should remain polite if not outright neighborly with the anti-ownership people. Being polite and neighborly doesn't mean being passive, either. You can still defend your right to own a gun without yelling. It's appropriate at times to be angry and make snide remarks to get your point across, but not every time. Constant anger about a subject isn't a sign of moral purity or zeal, I know this much from experience in my blogging. It's a sign that you're investing too much of yourself at that moment, and that you need to go and relax.

I suggest taking a trip to your local range to relax. Plinking with a .22 rifle is more relaxing for me even than fishing.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Well, I feel awful thanks to someone giving me a cold in the summer. But enough about me. There really isn't a lot to talk about today. Guns? Nah, not right now. I'm in no shape to go shooting at the moment. I'm not in the mood for discussing Catholic stuff, either. Politics had to go by the wayside, too. I guess I could talk about history, but I haven't found anything new on the various layers of Chinese bureaucrats during the various dynasties. Today is a lovely day to be outside and I think I'd like to be out there. This assumes, of course, that my sinuses don't decide to drain all in one go when I'm talking to someone. I guess I won't be going anywhere, then.

Whoever gave me this cold deserves a good dose of the plague in return.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Bowling Night, 07/19/07

I would have done much better had one of my magazines not misfed three rounds. Other than that, it was a pretty easy stage. A nice trick for those of you who are cross-eye dominant: tuck your chin into the shoulder of your shooting arm and look down your arm that way instead of trying to rely on your non-dominant eye. It really helped me out tonight.

The magazine misfeed is kind of troubling. I think a good cleaning should sort it out. It looks like there's a hairline crack in the back of the magazine, but I don't think that's the cause of it. Overall, though, the failures to feed really annoyed me tonight and ruined my scores. Oh well, there's always next week.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

At a Private Range, No One Can Hear You Swear

So, I found this super-secret local range thanks to my dad getting a membership there. Eventually, I'll be able to join as well but for now I've got to pester him so I can go to an outdoor range. I took the new AR out to see how rusty my skills are at firing that type of gun. And wow, are they ever rusty. It didn't help much that the front sight post notches are so small that you can't keep the nose of a .223 round in it long enough to make one "click," but my zeroing targets were nothing short of awful. My best work was at 100 yards, and even then I was hitting high and to the left. The AR was pretty much an exercise in frustration as I couldn't make any adjustments like I'd hoped. All I want is a simple sight zero at 100 yards. Of course I find out later I'm using the short range sight, when the proper sight zero uses the long range sight. Feh! Foiled by a simple piece of metal and over a decade of not shooting an M-16! Well, there's always the next range trip.

I also made sure to take out the .22 rifle that Dad gave to me recently. It's a Marlin 60 that had been sold under the Revelation brand at Western Auto back in the early 60s. We took that to the 25-yard range. My dad hadn't fired the gun since 1963, shortly after he bought it. The sights are still dead-on after 44 years. The only flyers we had outside the 10-ring and the x-ring were due to twitching or sweat. It was quite hot out at the range. But oh, what a wonderful feeling to just do some plinking and realize that I'm only out of practice with one long gun, not all long guns.

I've also picked up a few new gadgets for the AR that will help me with maintaining it. I already had the Boresnake that I needed to keep the barrel nice and clean, but a lack of decent brushes for the bore, the bolt and the inside of the upper receiver have made cleaning them a nasty chore. So, I've got some new brushes made for the AR's design quirks. I also have one of those handguard tools to remove the handguards for cleaning now. You run part of it into the magazine well and push down on the frame, and it provides enough leverage and force to allow you to separate the handguard halves. It's like a magazine loader; you don't realize how much you needed it until you finally got one.

Hmm... I just noticed that one of the spare Palm Pilot styluses I have would look to be about perfect for adjusting the front sight post. And... it is! The plastic tip is going to get shredded, so it doesn't look like it'll last too long. However, it ought to last long enough until I can procure a proper sight adjusting tool. Between that and improving my draw from the hip for the upcoming IPSC matches, things are looking pretty good. I hope the luck continues through my shooting tomorrow night.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Bowling Night- 7/12 edition

I think I need to pick up a left-handed holster. I shoot all right with both hands but lately my eye dominance has been switching from my right eye to my left. It goes back and forth. I thought I was right-eye dominant, but it's not working out very well at the moment. I switched over to shooting right-handed because my right eye became dominant as I was learning to shoot. Now it's switching back.

I'm also getting a bit more body awareness; that is, where my hands and feet are, how my weight is shifted in my stance. Having the foot that is opposite my shooting hand forward really helps out. Plus I still find myself locking my elbows more often than not.

I still manage to get plenty of scoring shots, though, so I'm pretty sure I'm improving. I've set a goal of getting at least a B classification by next year, and I think that's possible.

In non-IPSC competition news, I also got my recent order of 400 rounds of .223 Remington. Yep, I bought an AR clone from Rock River Arms a few weeks back. It shoots pretty nicely, though I need to take it to an outdoor range to really put it through its paces. I hope I remember my M-16 familiarization enough to shoot properly.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Bowling Night, 7/5/07

Thankfully this time the scenario didn't require as much pattern-recognition as last week's, but there was still a no-shoot target blocking a good portion of two targets. I hit the no-shoot target once, which cost me points of course. Overall, though, I did pretty good. I think my shots all went into targets as opposed to missing completely.

I'll say this much, though: I'm not crazy about Winchester ammunition. I shot a total of 32 rounds of their 165-grain FMJ (full metal jacket, it doesn't expand like a hollow point or soft point) and when I went to clean it there was all kinds of crud in the barrel. I don't know what CCI/Speer does with their Blazer Brass ammunition or what Black Hills Ammunition uses in their cartridges but I have never had such a dirty barrel before. The 165-grain rounds were kind of snappy. I hoped they'd produce a bit less recoil, but it was about the same.

Cleaning my handgun also became a bit easier thanks to judicious use of a Hoppe's Boresnake. It's a woven cloth tube with two copper brushes embedded within the tube itself. Basically what you do is spray your bore cleaner into the barrel and swirl it around to get the best coverage. Wait for the cleaner to do its thing, then pass the boresnake through 2 to 4 times. I followed it up with a dry patch to see if I could pick up any remaining grime, because the Boresnake seems too good to be true. It worked as advertised. The inside of the barrel was gleaming and free of crud as it should be, and I essentially pushed a clean patch all the way through. I finished up with a light coat of oil for the barrel and then cleaned the slide and frame as normal. So, my XD40 is once again ready for next week's shooting match.

Now I just need to lavish further attention on the rest of my collection. Guns are nice to look at but if you aren't at the range, competing in a sport event or hunting they're just pieces of art you keep in a box.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

I got to thinking how best to explain the concept of America's problems with immigration, the Catholic concept of charity, and how such things can be resolved. So I'll use a bit of storytelling here to explain the problem of illegal immigration as I see it.

In the middle of the night, you're woken out of a deep slumber by a frantic ringing of your doorbell, pounding on your door and all kinds of shouting. You grab a shotgun, crank up the lights as you go and investigate. You open the door to find a stranger at your door, rather fearful of the gun in your hands. "Please," he says, "I've been thrown out of my home and I fear for my life because my father says I should give him all of my paychecks without regard for my welfare. If I don't he'll kill me. I've been on the road for a few weeks now and I'm starving. Will you please give me something to eat?"

Well, if he's asking for food and not cash, that's a good sign he's not trying to find the alcohol section of the local convenience store. So, you warm up some leftovers or grab a frozen dinner out of the fridge and give the stranger something to eat. You're probably wired from all the commotion, so you know it's going to be a long night. Eventually, though, you're able to find shelter for him even if it's only getting some sleep on the couch before getting him to a social services group for their assistance. The stranger thanks you, and gives you his name so you can find him again, because he wants you to see how he's doing, and so you know he can repay you. You've done what is right.

A week later, another stranger knocks on your door shortly after dinner. "Hello," he says, "Sorry to bother you, but I'm Mr. So-and-So from another neighborhood and I was hoping to move in next door very soon. I need to make some extra money, so do you know of a business that could use an extra licensed plumber on its staff?" You say you're not sure, but you take his business card and give him some leads, saying to use you as a reference if those businesses ask how he heard about them. You send him off armed with leads to a new job.

The next night, you're walking down to the basement when you hear a creaking noise that sounds like one of your basement windows opening and shutting. Again, you go for the shotgun and the lights. There's another hungry-looking stranger in your basement who you've caught as he's setting foot on your basement floor. "Oh, hi," he says, "Yeah, about this. I was, uh, looking for a job at two in the morning when I thought it would be nice to find a place to sleep. Your basement window had a dodgy spring on it so I just sort of slipped in." You ask him why he didn't knock on the door and you get the first answer "Well, I didn't want to bother you."

It's funny how this stranger says that sneaking into your house, making you grab a gun and investigate a place that should be safe for you isn't a bother. So, you point the gun at the stranger, tell him to leave and not come back and follow him out of your house and watch him walk out of your neighborhood. You secure the window and go back to bed.

The next night, it's the second stranger again. Same window, same deer-in-the-headlights look at your shotgun. This time he says "You really need to get that window looked at. I know I was told not to come back, but hey, that's not very nice. So, I'm going to go upstairs, order a pizza and hang out until it gets here. Then I'll, uh, clean your carpets or something as payment. How does that sound?"

It sounds like he's broken into your basement again. Even though this is your property this stranger isn't too keen on respecting your rights as a property owner. So, you march him out again.

Yep. Third night in a row, this stranger comes in through the basement window. However he's got his girlfriend with him this time. How she got through the window in the 9th month of pregnancy, you're not sure, but they found a way. "Hey, I know what it looks like, but you're wrong. I just want my girlfriend to have a comfortable place to give birth, all right?" You call an ambulance and the stranger yells out "I'll have them bill you! It's cool, right?" as he rides away in the ambulance. So you secure the window again and put up some boards and a sign that says "No Trespassing."

Why is it that four nights in a row this guy has decided to break into your house? "Oh, well, I've always lived here," he says, "even before you did. Really. So, uh, get off my grandpa's property!" Shotgun, march out, you know the drill. This time though, he called a press conference to show you, the quite torqued-off homeowner as you throw him out. "Why aren't you being nice to this guy? He's got a girlfriend and a new baby registered at this address!" the news reporter shouts at you. "Are you trying to evict him through violence? How cruel! What a horrible person you are! He came to your house looking for help and this is how you repay him?"

So you show the reporter your busted-out window and the No Trespassing sign. "Well, you should have fixed that. And that sign doesn't mean anything. It's a free country, he can go where he wants. Why do you hate this guy who has to squeeze through that tiny window just to live here?" You explain that he never announced himself, that you found him there uninvited. "Oh," says the reporter. So, he calls the police and you wound up with the pastor doing his ride-along tour tonight. "So, this guy keeps breaking into your house? Well, you never called us, so it's obviously okay for him to stay. And we won't ask if he belongs here or not." The pastor looks at you and says "Where's your sense of mercy for this poor unfortunate?"

Yeah. You've had it. So, you ask everyone to leave because you're tired, you want this stranger gone, and you just want one night of peace. The cop tells you not to tell him how to enforce the law and starts looking around your house for stuff, the reporter screams that your shotgun can jump out of your hands and cause others to go on killing sprees, and the pastor names you at Mass on Sunday as a horrible monster who would rather shoot at strangers than help them out of their awful situations.

And all through this the stranger is flipping you off from behind their backs, but plays innocent whenever they turn around.

THAT is the problem right there. No one sees a repeated break-in, they just see a a guy in a bathrobe holding a shotgun and telling some other guy to stay out of his house. America is a wonderful place if you can present yourself as the noble underdog. We love our underdogs here, as they struggle to gain something that they can call their own.

However, we've gotten so blinkered by the concept of the noble underdog that people we put in leadership and informational roles have decided that anyone who is struggling for success should be rewarded at the expense of people who haven't had so difficult of a time. This is stupid, flat out stupid.

The first stranger understood that his need was desperate and was willing to brave your anger to get some food and directions on where to stay to turn his life around. These are our political refugees, ones who truly realize they're desperate and are willing to beg you for help regardless of how much it hurts them. All you can do is hope that he'll get back on his feet.

The second stranger didn't want to stay a stranger for long; he announced his intention to become your neighbor and asked for help in finding more work so he could pay his own way. These are our economic immigrants. They understand what makes this country the way it is and they want to be part of it from the beginning.

The third stranger? He breaks into your house, uses your services to make his life easier, brings his girlfriend, bills you for her medical problems, then goes and cries to the authorities hat you're hurting him when you try kicking him out of your house one final time. This ingrate is an illegal immigrant. He breaks into your house, inconveniences you, tries to kick you off of your property and make you pay for the privilege.

This is where the Catholic concept of charity comes in. "Charity" comes from the Latin "caritas," or love that is directed outward. The food, the shelter and the opportunities you provided to the first two strangers are acts of Charity. You were helping them because of their situations because it was the right thing to do.

The third stranger? When someone breaks into your house, the nicest thing you can do is tell them to leave and not come back. When they come back again despite your attempts to patch the things they've broken. You hoped he'd learn it was bad to break in the first time and not do it again. Instead he broke in again and you acted in a manner you thought was charitable by not calling the cops. No, you lulled him into thinking that he'd just get off with another warning whenever he did that. Charity would be bringing in the police to cart him off and let him realize the error of his ways. It didn't happen that way, though.

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops refuses to see this for what it is: breaking into someone else's house. Instead they blur the line between the desperate immigrant and the illegal immigrant. One is here because it's his last hope, the other is here because he has no respect for us. We ask him to identify himself and what happens? He sneaks in through the basement window instead of knocking on the door, then gets angry once he's caught. We're told that every human being is equal in the eyes of God. This is true. But why is the guy who is coming into my country illegally being treated better than me, the guy who is already here and asking people to make their presence known beforehand so I can get the place ready?

While a human being might not be illegal, his actions can certainly be illegal. We should be able to punish people for their actions against established laws. These laws aren't just fun little guidelines, they're designed to keep some amount of public order and safety. Why do we reward those who openly act illegally? That's what has disappointed me with the USCCB position. The Conference has refused to accept that we are punishing people for their illegal actions, and instead say that we are punishing them for being poor and hungry.

That President Bush refuses to see this as well is saddening. In our current war, I have supported him as Commander-in Chief. As Head of State and Chief Executive, I have supported him against detractors. When he put forth policies that would benefit my retirement savings, worked on cutting taxes further, allowed me to defend my home with more ease and agreed that the lives of the innocent are inviolate, I supported him. I cannot support President Bush on the issue of immigration. This has been as much a failure as letting No Child Left Behind, the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Safety Authority become bloated mockeries of what were presented as lean frameworks to assist communication, provide oversight, and enforce what was already stated law. I will still support my President, but I will do so conditionally.

We are mistaking Charity for handouts. There are grave differences between the two. Why do our legal and spiritual authorities insist on blinding themselves to those differences?

Friday, June 29, 2007

Bowling Night or "Wait, they changed the order?"

So, on Thursday I went to my usual night of IPSC shooting. The concept was simple. Each target had a club, diamond, or spade on it. You draw a card, and whichever of those three suits you get, you do NOT shoot the targets with that suit on it.

So I step into the box, hear the signal, draw and fire. Great! Go to the next station, and I'm laying into those targets like it's no big deal. I hit the third station and it's all over!

Yeah, I didn't realize that the next two stations would change out the positions of each suit in the set of targets. One went club-diamond-spade, the next was diamond-club-spade, the last was club-spade-diamond. So, instead of looking at the entire target, I focused on the front sight and engaged the wrong target in the last two stations.

Just remember that you've got to analyze each set-up as fast as possible and assume nothing until you see what you're presented. I did much better on my re-shoot, though. The reason I did much better because I surveyed the targets before shooting to make sure nothing had moved around again. Still, though, it's pretty embarrassing. It also drove home the idea that you MUST be sure of your target before you fire. I'm glad I learned it in a sporting situation instead of a real-world one. I can learn from this mistake and become a more careful shooter and thus a better shooter.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Bowling Night Results

Okay, so it's not really bowling, it's actually IPSC night. Practical Shooting night is pretty much the equivalent social sport to me that bowling was two generations ago. So, I call my weekly or bi-weekly shooting night bowling night.

Anyway, I did all right, but I'm all over the place. Focusing on my front sight hasn't helped much, but I still score all right. I still shoot a bit low, so it caused some trouble on tonight's shoot where I grazed the no-hit targets a couple of times. The no-hit targets covered up about a third of the desired targets. The roughest part was being the first shooter of the night. It was a bit odd seeing all those unpatched cardboard targets and pristine white steel poppers in front of me. I ran very low on my regular target ammo, but I managed to snag a couple of pretty inexpensive boxes of Black Hills hollowpoint rounds for home defense a few weeks ago. I used two magazines of those for my reshoot. I don't know how they manage to make their ammo so affordable, but you get a great cartridge for the price you pay. I'd recommend their ammuntion to anyone, just like I do with CCI/Blazer Brass ammuntion. They're good bullets at good prices.

I finished early, though, so I had some time to peruse the gun shop that's attached to the range. They had some pretty nice new lever-action carbines in there. Now, if only they had them in a caliber that I already shoot, I'd be very tempted to make another purchase. Besides, this is the United States of America. Lever-action rifles are a part of our history.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Don Herbert, aka Mister Wizard, died this week. He made me like science even more than I already liked it. I even had a favorite experiment that he did, too. He wanted to show the kind of chemical reactions that you got with bases (as opposed to acids). So, he sprayed a bunch of oven cleaner on to some aluminum foil, folded it up and waited. A few minutes later it started to smoke as the base in the oven cleaner ate through the foil. He only had to say two sentences to make me try it as an experiment at school:

"Don't get too close! It creates toxic fumes."

That's as good as saying "free money!" to a boy in sixth grade.

Eventually, though, I found that I liked history and politics more than I liked chemistry, thus the History degree. Still, though, Mister Wizard kept that sense of wonder about science alive.

*pours a molar solution of HCl on the curb*

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Found on Marathon Pundit

Cardinal George Tells Local Priest To Stifle It

Okay, so that's my idea of a good headline, no one else's. Anyway, Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina's Parish in Chicago has been reprimanded by the Archbishop of Chicago for using threatening words in his recent appearance at an anti-gun rally in a nearby suburb. See, when you talk about "snuffing out" the person whose behavior you don't like, the common parlance is that you're wanting to kill them. Using "snuff" as a verb means "to extinguish." Did Father Pfleger call for the owner of that gun store to be extinguished? His verbiage says so. Using the term "snuff out" to mean "expose" is kind of dumb. Father Pfleger needs to realize that by playing to local politics he makes himself look like a fool when seen outside of the South Side. I have no problem forgiving Father Pfleger if he realizes that maybe he should check the Catechism again about self-defense, look at the Book of John and the Book of Luke to see that Jesus wasn't against people being armed for their defense (otherwise Peter couldn't have carried a sword around, now, could he?) and generally stop trying to act like a hellfire-and-brimstone street preacher. Even if that's what his audience demands, he needs to be a bit calmer and think things through.