Saturday, May 04, 2002

I was vastly amused by all of the hype surrounding the Segway Human Transporter. Touted as a revolutionary new transportation device, there was rampant speculation that it would be somethign really cool. Instead it was just an extremely overpriced scooter.

But I was totally wrong about this. I wasn't thinking of the aid that such a device would be to terrorists.

I think we're in trouble now.

Friday, May 03, 2002

Just woke up a few minutes ago (I work nights) and came across this news item.

I'm sure that Reynolds and the rest have already spoken about this and moved on. But I just wanted to point out that the U.S. is overwhelmingly ready to condemn the suicide bombers and accuse Arafat for supporting terrorism.

Where's the U.N.? Why didn't they do something like this long ago?

And the Europeans can't figure out why the United States is way ahead of them in almost every respect.

Thursday, May 02, 2002

I was reading Reynold's blog when he linked to this article in the TimesOnline. At the end of the peice they quote a speech made by George W. Bush.

"America values and welcomes peaceful people of all faiths; Christians, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and many others." he said. "Every faith is practised and protected here because we are one country. Every immigrant can be fully and equally American because we are one country."

Damn straight! Let's hope some of those Euroweenies are listening. This is why the people who refuse to take swift and decisive action against those that target the members of a particular faith for violence (or actually condone that violence) are losing any credibility they might have had with the U.S.

France in particular and the rest of the E.U. in general, are you paying attention?
I just read an excellent op-ed piece in the Cleveland Plain Dealer about the recent German school shooting. You can read it yourself here.

"In a land with strict gun control, a teenager obtained powerful weapons and went on a school rampage that resulted in more casualties than any American school has ever experienced.

"This is not meant to suggest that American or German teachers should be sent to the classroom armed with lesson plans and handguns. But it is meant to suggest that small-arms control serves mostly to disenfranchise those inclined to obey the law or defend life."

Here, here! Especially the part about those that are inclined to defend life.
An Email conversation with the Captain of the USS Clueless has got me to thinkin'. I thought I'd share a few thoughts on Civil War artillery.

Some people are probably thinking that this is a dull and boring subject. But it's all about big guns shooting big bullets that blow stuff up. How can that be boring?

Most people have the idea that Civil War cannons only shot stuff that looked like this. A perfect round iron ball that would plow through the enemy ranks or chip away at fortifications. But there was a great deal more to it.

For one thing, the ball itself was usually filled with gunpowder, and a fuse was used to set it off. In this picture here you can see a CW cannonball with the hole where the fuse was inserted. The fuse allowed the ball to be set to explode either when it hit something or when the shell had travelled a certain distance and was over the enemy (airburst).

Here's a picture with an intact fuse still inserted in the ball. Just turn the fuse a certain number of revolutions (or fraction of a revolution) to set the time before the ball would explode.

But it was much more involved than that. CW artillery shells were available in a dizzying assortment. Shells for long range shots, shells for punching through armor, and shells designed to discourage closing infantry were all in the cannoneers arsenal.

So why do most people think that they only shot roundball?

Mainly because roundball was the cheapest and most reliable, so they were used the most. Walk through a museum and roundball is probably what you'll see. And there's something similar going on today.

Most of the artillery shells available to modern cannoneers are pretty much improved versions of CW artillery, but there's a great deal more to it. We now have programmable ammunition, which means that the gun crew can turn a screw and the same ammo will do different things . We also have stuff designed to destroy certain targets, so it will do the job more effeciently. All in all, the artillery can do awesome things as long as they have the right loads in the caisson.

But the stuff that's just imporved CW shells are used the most, just like roundball was used the most during the Civil War. The reason why is the same: it's cheaper and more reliable than the fancy ammo.

I wonder if people 150 years in the future will forget that we had all this neato stuff and just think the we fired roundball?

P.S. All of the Civil War shells shown here are actual relics that are for sale here.

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

Remember that new study from Harvard. The one I mentioned that supposedly showed a distinct correlation between American gun ownership and the high death rate of American women?

Well, it seems that the study has been debunked (big surprise). Wendy McElroy of points out that the primary author of the study admits that he can't prove causation. In other words, no matter how these gun hating yahoos try they can't prove that it's gun ownership that is the cause of higher mortality rates among American women.

Not to blow my own horn, but I mentioned earlier that previous studies touted as showing a correlation between gun ownership and suicide were bunk because there was no systematic record of suicide causes. Heck, I always thought it was tough to make blanket statements without some sort of proof to back up your assertions. Proof that can only come from hard data gathered under controlled conditions.

But I suppose that the fine researchers at Harvard have found a different source for data.