Saturday, December 07, 2002

A 40'S KINDA WEEKEND
Everybody go over to the links on the left and check out the Belligerent Bunny Blog. There's a swingin' 40's weekend going on over there that you don't want to miss.

A QUESTION FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT
A few weeks ago I noticed a discussion on some other blogs. They were wondering at the root causes of criminality. What makes someone break the law? Is it poverty, since more criminals come from the lower income set? Is it a problem with upbringing, since people from broken homes are more likely to commit crimes? Or is it a case of marginilization, since people from under represented minority groups make up a disproportionate number of the criminal class?

Just from my own experiences I'd say that all of that is bunk. Man is a predator, and all of society is geared towards forcing us to toe the line. People who face economic ruin and social disgrace from a jail sentence are more likely to play nice in an attempt to keep what they have. Those from the other side of the tracks have less to lose so they don't have as much incentive to keep from indulging the passions that we all have.

Go ahead and post your opinion. You might think I'm full of it, but so far I haven't heard any compelling arguements against.

I WANT SOME OF WHAT THESE GUYS ARE SMOKIN'
I was just reading the latest on-line edition of Policy Review. One of the articles was about the origins of America bashing.

Seems that most of the people who claim that America is the spring from which all evil flows are shrilly hanging on to Marxist ideals. This is so even though Marx and Comunism has been shown to be an absolute failure. The fact that so many of these guys in Europe (and some in America) still cling to this thoroughly discredited model of economics and politics is amazing. Whenever I read about a Euro election return and I notice that the Socialists or the Communists made a good showing I have to wonder if the voters over there are on some heavy duty medication.

Seems most anti-Americans are enamored with something called the Baran-Wallerstein thesis, which states that prosperity in developed countries is based on oppression in the 3rd World. In other words no one can be rich unless they steal it from someone else. 'Course, anyone with a passing interest in history could tell you in a hot minute that most people who live in the 3rd World are still living the way everyone there has lived for thousands upon thousands of years. Wouldn't their lives have been made progressively worse with the increasing population in developed countries?

So these guys are full of it, and everyone who doesn't have their head stuck up their fundament can see that they're full of it. So how come they keep winning elections over in Europe?

I suppose it all comes down to the determination to never allow reality to interfere with a good fantasy.

SMART WEAPONS IN IRAN
Jane's Defence is reporting that Iran has developed Precision Guided Munitions (PGM). These are also called "smart bombs".

I'm not too worried about it. Notice that they have to be delivered by aircraft. If we decide that we have to go toe-to-toe with Iran I think we all know what will be flying overhead about ten seconds after the flag goes up.

HAPPY INFAMY LIVING DAY!!
Today is the day that will live in infamy. In 1941 the most modern and (probably) most powerful navy in the world conducted a surprise attack on the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor. Most of the U.S. Pacific Fleet was damaged or destroyed.

America was terribly unprepared for war. It took 9 months for the U.S. to be able to launch it's first ground offensive. Even so, Japan was a smoking hole in the ground a mere 3 years, 9 months later.

Less than 4 years for the United States, fighting in two major theaters (Europe as well as the Pacific), to smash the crap out of a powerful and ready enemy that was half a world away. People who want to screw with the U.S. should remember Santayana's dictum, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Friday, December 06, 2002

CALLING ALL CARS
The Guardroom is a law enforcement blog run by real live cop John Daley. Mostly short on commentary and long on reporting issues of interest to law enforcement professionals, the Guardroom is now thinking of branching out.

If you'd like to have a forum for your voice then please go to this post and follow the instructions. John will set up an account so you can access the site and post items when it's convenient for you. People with current law enforcement jobs only, please.

One of the problems I always had is with the public thinking that what they see on the TV is the way that real police work gets done. This could be a very good tool to help educate people about a necessary and stressful job.

Thursday, December 05, 2002

LIES, DAMNED LIES AND EUROPEANS
I see that Prof. Reynold's has been the target of some pouty little comments from this guy. He says that it's just so unfair the way that the Americans are picking on the Europeans. Proof that we don't know what we're talking about.

Prior to 9/11 I knew that the Europeans had become appallingly weak on the military front. The whole Serbia mess proved that they were useless, worthless and pathetic. But I still though they were our allies, our buddies, our pals. Didn't we stand with them, guarding them against the Soviets? (Imagine what would have happened if the individual European states had to stand alone. England would still be free because the U.S. Navy would have kept the U.S.S.R. at bay from that island nation. Everything else would have been under the Communist heel)

I also thought that we pretty much stood for the same thing. Democracy, freedom, self determination. I thought we all could see how obvious it was that Capitalism had provided the material needed to kick Communism back to it's kennel, so free and fair trade between nations was something else we could agree on.

Then 9/11 happened. America attacked. Innocent people, harming no one, but killed in a most foul way. An act of war.

NATO said they'd stand with us. Now, I figured, we'll see a payoff for all of those American dollars spent during the Cold War. Now we'll see some appreciation for the American lives lost on survellience missions over Russia, or seamen lost while keeping an eye on Soviet ship and submarine movements. When they played the U.S. national anthem during the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace there was a lump in my throat so big you could play soccer with it.

Didn't work out that way. NATO was a joke, with the member nations insisting that the U.S. do nothing. France even refused a combat mission while our boys were under fire! (That would earn you a court martial in any armed forces in the world. Or you'd be pistoled down for displaying cowardice in the face of the enemy in a time of war. The French got away with it, though) All the time the insults came fast and heavy from every European politician (excpet some English ones). They said that America sucked, our people sucked, our President sucked, our policies sucked, our culture sucked, capitalism sucked, we deserved to be attacked because we suck so bad, suck suck suck. Everyone seemed to be lining up to drink down some anti-American milk from the Eurowheenie tit.

Now I'm sick of it. Nuke goes off in Paris? Why should I care? They must have asked for it or else there wouldn't be people mad at them. Sweden is having problems with bombs and terrorists? So what? The only things that came out of Sweden that was worth a damn was meatballs, massage and porn. We've already got those so Sweden isn't worth bothering with. All of the European countries have large populations of unassimilated Muslims that might revolt and riot if the U.S. invades Iraq? Listen to the sound of my heart breaking. We'll send some U.S. Marines over to help calm things down in Britain. The rest of you guys can go hang.

One of the blogs that I link to is Innocents Abroad, and a post on IA by Colin May that pretty much says the same thing. Mr. May tries to strike a more intellectual tone than my own (deliberately) populist style. But I'll bet that my sentiments more closely capture what most Americans feel.

THOSE GUYS FROM HARVARD ARE AT IT AGAIN
Yet another bogus study has come out of the gun-hatin' Harvard School of Public Health. Their favorite anti-gun-nut, Dr. Matthew Miller, states that homicide is higher in those states with high gun ownership. (The link is to a story on the Yahoo! news server, so it will rot in a few weeks)

The Dolts from Harvard claim that the homicide rates in the 6 states with the highest gun ownership (Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Wyoming, West Virginia and Arkansas) is greater than that in the 4 states with the lowest gun ownership (Hawaii, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Jersey).

C'mon, Harvard Dolts, let's not insult my intelligence too much. Where's Maryland? Last time I checked Baltimore used to be called the Murder Capital of the World even though Maryland has one of the most draconian set of gun control laws in the nation (they even have a "ballistic fingerprinting" system for new handgun purchases). Gun ownership is nice and low in the Land of Mary, yet the murder rate is nice and high. Those numbers couldn't be crunched so you simply decided to ignore them in your "study"?

What about California? Another state with very harsh gun control laws and a very high murder rate. Heck, I bet the city of Los Angeles alone has more murders per year than any of the six states listed as having the highest numbers of gun ownership. How come you didn't mention California?

Let's not forget Washington, D.C.! Sure, it's not a state, but it certainly would blow your study apart in thick gooey bits. I can just guess why you don't mention D.C.

The money shot is found in the last line of the news article. "Still, Miller's team notes that it is not clear whether the higher rates of household gun ownership caused or resulted from the increased number of homicides." Which means that people who live in states with more murders might just get a gun in an attempt to protect themselves.

There it is, out of the mouths of the researchers themselves. They can't prove that there's a correlation between increased gun ownership and increased homicide but they claim that there's a connection anyway. Sorta like me claiming that I'm irresistable to women even though my personal dating history is rather skimpy. If I worked at Harvard I could make that claim in the reasonable hope that no one would notice how absurd it was.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

AN AMERICAN BLOVIATES
Blog goddess Natalie Solent asks the question why the U.S. has a higher rate of violence compared to other countries. She notes that the States had a higher murder rate even when the U.K. and the U.S. had similar gun laws.

I think there's two reasons for this. The first is cultural. Most of the rising crime rates in Europe are blamed on an unassimilated immigrant population. America has always had large groups of immigrants, usually on the lower rung of the social ladder. Whenever there's friction between two cultures interacting closely together there's going to be violent fringe elements that are going to find reasons to stir things up. I mean, c'mon. Until recently the English thought of the Welsh as being exotic.

The other reason is due to governmental control. Individuality, self determination, freedom. These are qualities that the Americans worship, some of us even hold them to be more important than our own lives. This distrust of governmental authority bleeds in to our criminal justice system. Although we would all agree that there are some people who need to be supervised or else they'll hurt others, the Americans are extremely reluctant to give such power to the government. I noticed a different attitude the few times I was fortunate enough to be able to talk to law enforcement officials from other countries. Restrictions on search and seizure are looser, interpretations of "cruel and unusual punishment" are looser, and the chances the courts are willing to give convicted felons are fewer. This means that the police in England operate in a manner that would result in big lawsuits and jailed cops over here.

THESE GUYS SHOULD HIRE ME AS A CONSULTANT
Just saw a news item on the Yahoo! news server (which means the link will rot after about 6 weeks 'cause Yahoo! doesn't keep a very big archive. Oh, well). The story reports that some guys have been trying to sell Stinger missiles in Afghanistan.

I'm not really worried about this. Those Stingers have been around for more than ten years. Their rocket motors and batteries for their guidance systems start to go bad after about 5 years, so they'll probably miss. And the batteries aren't something that Eveready makes that you can find in your local department store. They're specialty items, costing about $800 U.S. each, and they can't be recharged. When they go bad you need to replace it with a fresh one and that's that.

A good example of this is the missile attack on the Isreali 757 that was taking off in Kenya. Two Chinese copies of the Soviet SA-7 Grail shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles were used. The angle of attack was perfect, from behind the aircraft as it was slowly gaining altitude. Both missiles failed to lock on the heat from the exhaust and steer themselves in to the aircraft, probably because their guidance systems no longer had any power. Even so, the missiles passed close enough to the wing to give the plane a little joggle as they passed.

This doesn't mean that these old missiles aren't dangerous. They move pretty fast (850 MPH or so) and they'll bring an aircraft down if they actually manage to hit one. But it's the hitting that's the problem.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

WHY DO PEOPLE GET SO EMOTIONAL ABOUT THIS?
When I first started shooting I noticed that many people who were serious about using a handgun for defense would favor the .45 ACP cartridge. These guys would show a great deal of scorn if someone choose something else, usually cracking wise about how a person would have to be the greatest of slack-jawed idiots if they passed on the mighty forty-five. It got worse when the U.S. military decided to adopt a 9mm handgun over the old service pistol. Some of the .45 fans were claiming that it was a plot by the United Nations to weaken our military so they could take us over!

Besides having a rather inflated opinion of the role that the handgun plays on the battlefield, these guys did have a point. Hollow point ammunition isn't allowed in modern warfare, and when it comes to ball ammunition the .45 has the 9mm beat hands down. The reason is that the small high velocity bullet tends to zip right through the target instead of dumping it's energy inside, where it's supposed to. The slower and larger .45 round doesn't have as much of a problem with stopping.

But the advantages pretty much disappear when one uses expanding bullets. Take a look at the ballistic tables for the .45 ACP. You'll notice that the defensive loads deliver around 400 ft/lbs of energy to the target, which means that the .45 is a respectable (but not outstanding) defensive load.

Now take a look at the ballistic tables for the 9mm. One of the first thing you'll see is that many people are still worried about overpenetration, so several slow (under 1000 ft/sec) and heavy loads (147 grains) are offered. In my opinion this is trying to fit a round peg in a square hole, and the loads are simply not suitable for defense. The fast 115 grain loads play to the advantages of the round, and you can see that they deliver about 385 ft/lbs to the target.

385 ft/lbs for the 9mm and 400 for the .45 ACP. The difference doesn't seem to be that great.

When I point this out to .45 fans they usually refuse to believe it. If they can't deny it then they'll try and offer ever more ephemeral advantages that the .45 enjoys. The .45 is "battle proven" (what did the Germans use when the conquered most of Europe, or the Israelis when they won all of their wars in the 20th Century?). The .45 will knock a man clean off of his feet (so why doesn't the shooter go flying when he pulls the trigger?). The wound channel is greater with the .45 so the bad guy will bleed out quicker (unless a major blood vessel is hit it will take minutes or even hours for blood loss through such a small hole to be significant, and the gun fight should be over long before then). The tissue the round destroys by crushing it is greater with the .45, which means that there's a greater chance that something vital will be hit (the difference is less than the width of a pinky. C'mon!).

So far I've just put all of this down to snobbery but I think I gained an insight during my recent Email conversations with Troy Loney. Troy worked out a mathematical formula for the momentum that various rounds impart to the gun they're fired from. His spreadsheet shows a significantly greater recoil from .45's than from smaller and lighter rounder like the 9mm, even if the smaller rounds have as much energy.

This fits with what I've experienced. The .45 has a greater kick to it than the 9mm, even if there's only a 6% difference in energy. I think this goes a long way towards explaining the regard the .45 enjoys. People are certain that it's twice as effective as the 9mm because it feels like it's twice as effective, actual data be damned.

My stance on the whole thing is that the best someone can do is to choose a gun that they feel comfortable shooting, that way they should be able to concentrate on hitting the attacker instead of worrying about how they don't like firing their gun. The people who like .45's certainly have made a choice. I just don't think the spleen they vent against other choices is warranted or realistic.

THIS SEEMS TO MAKE SENSE
I've received some very interesting responses to this post where I discuss my limited experience with multi-rounds, pistol ammunition with more than one bullet loaded in the case.

Regular readers Troy and Fusilier Pundit question whether multiple hits from a measly handgun would be able to generate shockwaves of sufficient power to increase damage (which is what proponents of the double tap method claim). They instead favor the larger number of wound channels, increased blood loss and emotional trauma as the bad guy realizes that he's been shot multiple times. All of this makes sense and it certainly explains the results.

Fred Bones, Patrick and Sigivald have all mentioned other systems with the multi-round concept. Proof that it would be a good idea if someone would just get off their duff and invent an inertial dampener of some kind so we don't have to deal with the punishing recoil.

Troy was also kind enough to engage me in a series of Emails. He worked out a spreadsheet to explain how perceived recoil is a function of the bullet weight overcoming the gun's inertia, which is why some rounds feel more deadly even if the results don't warrant the high regard.

That's the subject of the post above. I just thought I'd let everyone know that I appreciate the feedback.

THE CASE OF THE INVISIBLE SODA THIEF
Being a 3rd shift worker I like to take my dogs on long walks in the middle of the night on my days off. It's peaceful and I can toss the little bags of poo in the closest trash can instead of carting them all the way back home.

This last Sunday at 04:00 the wind was blowing pretty hard and it was bitter cold (25 degrees F). We were just coming home after a 45 minute walk, the trees creaking in the wind and the lights swaying so the shadows danced and shifted. It was one of those eery times that you can find every so often even if you live in the middle of a big city.

There's a small grocery store that we had to pass in front of on our way home, and the store had a few soda machines out front. As we were passing the store I could hear someone trying to jimmy one of the soda machines, except there was no one there.

I mean no one at all. The power to the machines was off but there was plenty of light from an overhead bulb. There was no place for anyone to hide. There was no one in view except for me and the dogs. But I distinctly heard someone trying to jimmy that machine open.

I walked up to the soda machine and stood there, wondering what was going on. The dogs stood tense, fur puffing up all over, eyes wide and staring at the machine. So they heard it too. It sounded so convincing that I was tempted to haul out my expanding baton and wave it around in front of the machine to see if I would hit some shivering invisible thief. But right then there was a sharp banging noise and brown liquid started to pour out of the dispenser tray. The dogs gave little barks of happiness and tugged at the leash so they could lap it up.

Seems that some of the cans in the machine had frozen and were bursting. What I heard was the cans shifting and moving around, the spray of liquid from already burst cans cooling off others and causing them to burst. All of the noise I was hearing was coming from inside, and it wasn't caused by anyone standing in front of it.

But I've noticed something else that's strange since then. Mysterious sticky paw prints have been appearing all over the house. There must be some sort of invisible dog made of sugar hiding in my house somewhere.

I'll keep you posted.

WHAT WE HAVE HERE IS A FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE
So I'm over at Prof. Reynold's blog and I see that he linked to an article at StrategyPage.com. So I decided to read it. The first paragraph is a shocker.

"The American people won’t tolerate being attacked at home by foreign terrorists. This is THE dominant factor in the war against terror. Americans' definition of victory here is security from attack at home, which even the Democratic Party does not understand, let alone foreigners. This war began when we were attacked at home and will end when further danger of that has passed. We’re fighting for our security at home, not to create a better world elsewhere, but the latter is all the Democratic Party proposes."

This suddenly makes some things so clear. I thought the Dems were harping about domestic conditions right before the recent elections because they couldn't see any way to challenge the Bush administration on it's handling of foreign security issues (Afghanistan defeated in ten months! With minimal U.S. casualties! During the winter!). It never occurred to me that they just couldn't figure it out.

Hey, how come they can't figure it out? It's not like we've been keeping it a secret or anything. Where have these guys been?

I've always considered myself to be a liberal (still do). I sincerely believe in equality. A woman/Hispanic/African American wants to become a military officer/firefighter/police officer? If they can do the job then what's wrong with that? Harrassment of someone due to their sex/religious beliefs/race is just plain wrong. Sometimes life overwhelms you with bad times. A little help from the gov in those times isn't a bad idea (like 6 months unemployment benefits, as long as it's available after a long period of unbroken employment).

Not that I've ever been a Democrat. I've always been an independent, mainly because there're other issues that the Dems have just dropped the ball on. Like the right to self defense, or limiting taxes, or keeping the services offered by the gov to a minimum so we don't need that many taxes in the first place.

Over the past ten years or so I've noticed that the Republicans have pretty much taken a more rational stance on many issues while the Dems have become ever more Star Trek. Now someone would say that I'm firmly in the Right Wing camp, if only because I'm too much of a practical guy to listen to people who think that subsidized housing is an overwhelmingly important issue when the U.S. is at war.

Still think of myself as a liberal, though.

Sunday, December 01, 2002

RED ALERT! SHIELDS UP!
Jane's Defence has a more in-depth article about the "Bird of Prey" stealth demonstrator. Developed by Mcdonnell Douglas, the aircraft isn't supposed to be flown in combat. extremely slow and with a very low ceiling, the craft was instead supposed to show a relatively low-cost way of demonstrating new technologies.

It seems to have performed it's function flawlessly. The Bird of Prey is said to have a smaller Radar Cross Section that that of a mosquito. With it's tailess construction and a body designed to minimize shadows, it would make it difficult to see even with the naked eye. This is just another step in the holy grail of combat aircraft design: daylight stealth.

WE DON'T STAND ALONE
More from Jane's Defence. It seems that the U.K. is preparing for an invasion of Iraq if the U.N. inspectors turn anything up.

It would be interesting to dig up an ancient hermit, someone who lived through WWI and WWII but went in to seclusion and hasn't seen the news for the last 55 years. I bet he'd be shocked that the U.S. was leading and the U.K. was following. But I doubt he'd be at all surprised that we're doing it together.

LESS STICKING UP MEANS LESS TO SHOOT AT
According to Jane's Defence, a brand new tank turret has been developed by Jordan.

The turret itself makes use of an autoloading system that the Soviets first introduced. Since there isn't any need for all the empty space that a crewman would need, the turret is markedly smaller than most. This means that the tank will present a smaller target in hull-down positions and (hopefully) provide better survivability overall.

If successful the Jordanians are talking about designing a brand new tank from the ground up to go with their turret.