Friday, August 22, 2014

JPFO and the curse of the institution.

Today I learn from Claire that JPFO--or rather, the (and this is gonna sound hauntingly familiar) arbitrary control structure that pretends to represent JPFO members--suddenly seems hellbent on presenting itself for what seems like certain self-destruction in the form of a business takeover by Alan Gottlieb's Second Amendment Foundation. (For anyone happening across this who needs a primer on why that is a terrible, awful idea, read these items from Claire, who knows the history better than most.)

I must confess that I cannot personally confirm the veracity of most of the details I'm hearing, but I will say that I trust Claire, and David Codrea, and Mike Vanderboegh, in their judgment on this, and I would not be surprised to see El Neil pop back up over the whole matter, recovering-from-stroke or not.  From my own limited exposure to Gottlieb's recent shenanigans with the Manchin-Toomey(-Schumer) pre-emptive surrender, I certainly don't have a great deal of confidence either, that he is not in fact the cat in this observation from the late and much-missed Aaron Zelman:
“A housewife and a cat will both chase mice out of the kitchen. But the cat wants more mice to come back.”
Details sound bad.  Bad enough that it's tempting to wonder if there is not a hand of some Bloomberg-like creep in all of this.  I mean, jeez, where have we heard the "hurry,-we-gotta-do-this-now-before-the-little-people-find-out-about-it" line before?  Again, Claire has details if you need 'em.

My observations at this point are two:

1) This is another (and extremely ironic) example of the risk of vesting power in a centralized authority structure--in institutionalizing.  Claire notes that the board of directors is three people--meaning that any two can destroy the organization in an instant, and it's all "legal and proper".  And in this case (presuming that past history is the way to bet), moreso than in most takeover cases, it would really be tragic to lose the organization's identity, as it is unique.  The tragedy is amplified further by the specific who is "bidding" for the takeover:  the way I understand it, Zelman would never have had anything to do with Gottlieb, going back for some time.  The sense of betrayal among the JPFO rank and file must be seething, and once again, unless I'm getting some pretty bad information, it seems very likely that Gottlieb must have known of Zelman's opinion of him, and stipulating that, it does not exactly cast much positive light on Gottlieb's intentions here.

all of which brings up

2)  If the fix consummates the way it appears to be intended, and the result performs the way long-timers seem to believe it will, it will cost the perpetrators, whether they realize it or not.  It's one thing to take over an organization with no soul or passion, but another entirely to do the same to people who are devoted to speaking plainly and rejecting compromise.  Maybe SAF really does see JPFO as just another list of protection-racket customers, newly available for exploitation.  First of all, I'd say they're simply wrong.  Second, even if that's what they believe and they are right, there is this:  protection rackets can work famously, right up until the moment when they don't.  If it really is Gottlieb's business to perpetually stump for money while never intending to kill his cash cow, he presumably understands that his ruse depends on others not figuring out they're being taken.

He would do well to remember that having a name on a list doesn't constitute...ownership

Monday, August 18, 2014

Not quite what I intended...

(MamaLiberty, this one is kinda for you, given the "so what are you wearing right now?" conversation from comments a few days ago.)

I can now confirm personally that the Kahr CW40 suffers nearly nothing from a ten-minute total immersion in 40-degree seawater;  one small bloom of orange surface rust just inside the muzzle came off easily 12h later with a cleaning, and shows no signs of return yet.  Nor does a Safepacker "un-holster" suffer from the same fate;  it launders normally and should now be salt-free once again.

The gun's owner, by contrast, was much grumpier about the whole episode, mostly because he lost his new eyeglasses, and because he held up the kayaking group, with an unexpected roll in choppy water.  (Apparently he felt the need to prove his noob cred in grand style.)

Of related interest:  the kayak guide was understandably worried about the possibility of hypothermia, but fortunately the Wiggy jacket performed exactly as advertised, and to my considerable satisfaction the cold simply was not an issue.  I suspect he figured out that I was exhibiting absolutely no signs, and was far more irritated than scared or compromised.  I wrung myself out and was back in the water in what was probably less than half an hour.  (I suspect he would have been far more freaked about the contents of the Safepacker, had he been even remotely aware of them.  :-)

Helluva first-kayak-trip, really.  Other than the loss of the glasses and the irritation of being caught off balance by an admittedly rough-conditions day, I'd say it was all win:  lessons thoroughly learned and home in one piece!

Your 'Uncle Frank'-ism for the day.

Just when I'm about ready to give up Facebook again, I seem to get a string of things that are actually useful.  Most of those are usually contacts with people about whom I would otherwise know nothing, but today, there was also this, via a site I don't know called Libertarian Money.  


It's hard to explain my continued amazement at Frank Zappa.  (Put as briefly as possible, I am not sure I know of a better use for the word genius.)  It's nearly impossible to explain to non-musicians, who usually either see him as a noisy, shock-jock lyricist, or...well, as a noisy, shock-jock lyricist.  (Many who appreciate him, do so only for that.)  It's a little easier to explain to someone who plays an instrument, and it's easier still with someone who is a geek about it--the geekier the better.  (For any non-musicians reading here:  let's just say that Frank's musical skills are at least as legendary as those of Miles Davis or Duke Ellington.)

But it wasn't until I figured out--really, actually figured out--that politics isn't the solution to the problem, but rather is the problem, that I discovered the next plane of my admiration for the man.  It's not so much that he often said things that I would now find agreement with, but rather that somewhere along the way I realized that personally, he simply shrugged off everything that wasn't real.  No fanfare or peacockery;  he just did.

Sure, he was known for poking fun at things that aren't real, but hell, lots of others did and do that too, without being conspicuously more than that.  In the blurb above, what stands out is what happened so often with Zappa:  the interview effort completely misunderstood its target and had no answer for what to do about the unexpected result.  I strongly suspect FZ loved this--to be continually underestimated, and to not care what came of it.  It is easy for the well-intentioned to presume that he would have been upset that the interview didn't run--but that would be missing much of the point!  (Being well-intentioned by nature myself, it took me an embarrassingly long time to realize this.)

Consider his own musical genius.  During a time when the popular celebration of musical complexity and virtuosity grew from a counterculture beginning to a state of such self-indulgence and overhype that the next musical wave (punk) was specifically an "eff you!" reaction against it, Zappa was himself poking fun at it nearly the entire time--with the satire itself often buried in structures far more complicated than the chest-thumpers on the receiving end of the ridicule had come up with originally.  (And Zappa was skilled and subtle enough to intermix the anti-peacockery with genuine homages to those who deserved them.)

All this (and believe me, this is brief) illustrates a mind that I admire more and more with every new thing I learn.  He understood the world of the seem and the world of the real nearly without flaw, and played them off each other like toys, on a quantity of levels that I can hardly believe, and yet am still discovering.

The most amazing part is that I don't think he could possibly have done it by accident--and yet the significance of that seems to have been singularly unimportant to the man himself.

Miss ya, FZ.

Added later:  I should have caught this the first time, but it was via Kent McManigal on Facebook that I first saw the Libertarian Money link.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Randomly ran across this today.

Refreshing.  May have to look further at this fella.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

General purpose rifle squee.

I also got a chance to take another look at the .308 Ruger Gunsite Scout rifle while picking up the bruiser loads, and confirmed much of my initial impressions on that gun.  Nine bills for the base gun...add a Leupold scout scope with QD rings...take out all the stock spacers...add a proper Ching Sling...acquire a half-dozen magazines...sweeten the trigger if your example needs it (it's pretty good OOB)...and you are ready to do anything that you might reasonably ask a rifle to do!  I do not think you can get a finer general purpose rifle for less outlay and fuss than this.  No, it's not a Steyr, but it is a grand less, and at least seems to be far more gun than a Steyr-less-one-grand.  (If that makes sense.)

Today it struck me more forcefully than before, that the rear aperture is actually not a proper ghost-ring.  It's a nice aperture, but it's not big enough and the rim is not thin enough to fully disappear during sighting, which is the point of that system.  I suspect that there are already replacement parts available at minimal cost (Brownells, etc.), and while the stock sight is very nice as it is, you'll lose no functional precision and will gain measurably in speed with a bigger, thinner ring.

Why am I thinking about this lately?  There are two reasons.  One is that I'm putting some thought behind a recommendation for how a noob might reasonably build a working battery of guns from scratch, with maximum utility for minimum outlay.  (e.g., first, the general purpose rifle;  then, the general purpose pistol;  then, the general shotgun;  then a survival/combination gun;  from there, add other layers as fits the principal's interest--for fighting, a battle rifle / carbine / carry pistol; for hunting, medium / heavy / varmint cartridges to complement the GP guns;  etc.)

The other reason is this (click to embiggen):

That is my last remaining Gunsmoke project, now in progress, and I am very excited about what's in those pictures.  (There will be a full writeup when it completes, I assure you.)

Bonus points for anyone who, in the meantime, can figure out why.  (I promise, the answer is both fully arcane and personal to me, and also perfectly logical and utilitarian.  :-)

Notes from the fun shop.

I had occasion a few weeks ago to walk into one of my local funshops, and to my total surprise, I not only had a pleasant experience but also a useful one.  (Both the local places have been on my shit-list for some time, on account of reliably giving every appearance of being completely disinterested in my business.  I usually go some 80 miles up the road to get what I need.)  To wit:  the fella behind the counter (who is not new) not only was engaging and attentive, but also went out of his way to let me know they could work with me for special orders.

I was feeling charitable enough that day, not to mention a bit bowled over at a transaction that felt hauntingly normal, and so I said sure, I'd appreciate a call if he could get me a small supply of Brenneke slugs for my 16-gauge Ithaca M37.  That seemed to fit the definition of "low risk, high reward" well enough.

And on Sunday he called me back.  He'd managed to wrest 4 boxes from his supplier, and said that he'd be happy to sell me all 4 at the same time--which is usually against policy during this tiresome Great Ammo Panic Which Exists Because Panic.  (The usual policy with high-demand stuff is one-box-per-customer-per-day.)

And so here I am in the pleasant position of having not only managed to secure a small stock of game loads for the notoriously-hard-to-find 16 gauge, but also #1 buck, Foster and now Brenneke slugs as well.  (Range Day should be fun.)

Okay, score one for one of the local guys.  I'm happy to try that again.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Oh, gaaag.

This sentiment seems to be reaching meme-level proportions lately.  Presumably it has been handed down from The Hive Brain to the practicing faithful, who perform their phone-tree duties on cue as always.  And so this is currently being vomited onto my Facebook feed with gagging regularity today:

Jeez.  This crowd has actually found a way to weaponize irony. 

Look:  I detest the Reich-publicans just as much as I do the Demon-rats, and for the same reasons, really.  (Most of all, the transparency of both parties' lame attempts to dress up their cynical intrasquad games as something other than what they are.)  There is nothing here that constitutes any sort of defense of the R-wing's vision for Total Tyranny.

Still:  oh, come on.  The above coming from the "It's still all Bush's fault, two years into BHO's second term, and anyone who says differently is a wascawwy wacist!" crowd? 

Of all the casualties that modern "civilization" has inflicted upon humanity, the most irritating may well be the complete and total death of shame.