I don't mean to offend. It's probably going to happen anyway.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Article II Gun World Range

Being from around Chicago, good outdoor ranges are hard to come by in a reasonable radius. My dad and I have found one, the Conservation Club of Kenosha County, that we quite like, but it's a bit of a hike, and not the sort of trip we can arrange spur of the moment. This means that we are essentially restricted to indoor ranges around Chicago. We have a couple we have used many times, but never been particularly satisfied with, as they are short, dirty, not particularly well run, and of occasionally dubious clientele. The complaints were never enough to make us stop going, but it wasn't the experience it could have been.

Considering our dissatisfaction, we looked with great interest on the announcement of a new range opening up in Lombard, the Article II Gun World Range. With initial opening set for the first couple months of 2011, we got email updates with pleasure, until the updates contained more delays than good news. Seems the city of Lombard wasn't keen on a new range opening, and put up every inch of red tape possible, and there were several problems with contractors doing bad work. The net result of all this is that the range finally opened last Wednesday.

Seeing as I was home for Thanksgiving break, Dad and I decided to check it out on Friday, as we are not crazy enough to even consider black Friday shopping. When we got there, the staff was friendly and helpful, and I spent a while wandering around the cases trying not to drool too openly. They have some very interesting, beautiful, and rare pieces on display, though I am not knowledgeable enough to know what exactly I was looking at most of the time.

The range was entirely filled when we got there, so we were put on a waiting list. While we waited, we wandered around the shop in front for a while before being called to the firing line. I gotta say, this is the nicest, cleanest range I have ever been on. Whether or not it will stay that way remains to be seen, but considering the industrial air filters they have going, I'd guess it will stay cleaner than most. They have I believe three 75-foot typical ranges, and one club range, also 75 feet. They tested the ranges with a .50 BMG, so everything currently in the armory is fine for shooting there, including the Mosin Nagants.

The biggest difference between this range and the others around Chicago has to be how it's run. The other ranges, there may be one or two people behind the counter, and there they stay. The ranges themselves are inhabited solely by the shooters. At Article II, there are quite a few people behind the counter, a range officer outside the three ranges, and a range officer walking through the ranges making sure everything is functioning well. For people in more gun-friendly areas, this may seem like no big deal, but by Chicago standards, this was quite a nice feature.

There are still a few minor bugs to be worked out it seems, such as the line for the target carrier in the next booth popping out of its track a couple times, but the range officer fixed that quite quickly. Other than that though, the entire experience was excellent.

I was somewhat surprised as I ended up shooting at my best, with about a 5" group at 75 feet with a Ruger Single Six, despite not shooting for several months. It's an interesting type of shooting, when the front blade obscures most of the target. I also shot <2" groups at 30 feet with a Ruger mkII 22/45, and nice tight groups with a pt1911 in 9mm and Kel Tec P3AT. Perhaps the improvement has something to do with rock climbing improving my grip strength, or perhaps a more pleasant shooting environment had more to do with it.

I was thoroughly pleased with the entire experience, and can recommend without any qualms Article II Gun World range to anyone in the Chicago area. Considering we now have a good place to shoot, we may need to expand the armory some.... the one major arsenal hole at the moment is an EBR, (Evil Black Rifle) so perhaps that should be the next acquisition.

Called It

Remember comments about slippery slopes here?

I hate being right.

More content later. Thanksgiving and general life took precedence the past two weeks.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Political Ethics 2

Considering political ethics to be the means by which governing figures balance and carry out the responsibilities they have, the next logical point of study is what exactly those responsibilities are.

In terms of the social contract, the governed give up something in return for something, almost universally protection, and its subset of societal structure and welfare. The specific terms are highly variable, and will not be identical between neighboring households, let alone between Oregon and Florida. The specific ramifications of this will be discussed later.

One of the best places to look for this agreement is the US Constitution. The first sentence demonstrates it perfectly.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Here we have a self-identified group, the People of the United States, agreeing to sacrifice some freedoms in return for a list of responsibilities that another group, the government as defined in the Constitution, has. To the people of the US, Justice, being here protection against other people (including the government) and redress of grievance, domestic Tranquility, being again protections from other people and from assorted other causes of societal disturbance, defense, in this case being against foreign powers both militarily and diplomatically, general Welfare, being a very general summation of the assorted duties of government in aiding societal function, and the Blessings of Liberty, being governmental guarantees of personal freedoms, are what the people of the United States thought government should be involved in in 1787.

What all this boils down to is that the government's responsibility is to uphold the terms of the social contract that it was created under. The particular nature of the protections vary from place to place, but government exists at the behest of the people, for the good of the people. As said here,
"The social contract exists so that everyone doesn't have to squat in the dust holding a spear to protect his woman and his meat all day every day. It does not exist so that the government can take your spear, your meat, and your woman because it knows better what to do with them."
Next week, how is all this broken, and how did it happen?

Apologies for missing a week, things got busy. Also, mondays are generally a better posting day, so that will probably be the schedule for a while.

Friday, November 11, 2011

College WIN

I go to the coolest school. This happened quite literally across the street from me right now.

This shows quite nicely one of the best things about engineering and pure research both. Both have a tendency to give you results wildly different than anticipated, but still useful and or interesting. In this case, try to make one awesome thing, an invisible speaker, and make another, an invisible anything.

The technology may still be in very much an infantile stage (it acts like a mirror that you can turn on and off more than invisibility persay) it's quite neat to see what happens when you take smart people who see something that makes them say 'Huh. That's weird.'

EDIT: Sorry for the incorrect link; should be fixed now

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Veterans Day

"We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm." -- Winston Churchill

It may be misquoted, warped, and misunderstood to the point of having difficult if not impossible attribution, but that doesn't make it any less right. Freedom isn't free.

By all means give the veterans a day. My one complaint with Veteran's Day is that it is only one day. Those men and women are deserving of our thanks and admiration. Let them know you appreciate it, today and every day.

And for those of you who can, join them. This country needs its protectors.

If this turns up twice, it's because Blogger hates pre-scheduling posts.

Friday, November 4, 2011


I hear the word revolution from the OWS folks quite frequently, as well as a few other sources. They, especially the OWS people, claim it as heroic or noble.

Not exactly.

Revolution is, by definition, failure. If you are in the course of revolution, it means that you are either incapable or disinclined to go about effecting change through non-violent means. Be this through personal incompetence or governmental tyranny is not entirely relevant. It means that the mechanisms of control by the people in government are stagnated or no longer wanted.

This is not to say that revolution is never the correct answer. It merely means that it can only be the lesser of two evils.

If you have to take up arms for something, it means that society and you have failed. And, to reference Robb Allen, avoiding failure takes more than rooting for the right team at the ballot box.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

1001 values

Hat tip to MattG for the link to this. The 1001 rules for my Unborn Son remind me of a Led Zeppelin opener. "In the days of my youth I was taught what it means to be a man. And now I've reached that age I try to do all those things the best I can."

I read them all over the course of the afternoon, and by and large it's good, solid advice of the sort that I was raised under. Thanks Dad.

It got me thinking earlier though how to many it would seem 'Old-Fashioned.' This led into some broader thinking along the lines of nostalgia, and how everyone frets about the end of the 'good old days.' Quite contrary to Candide, it seems most people believe we live in the worse of two worlds. This notion goes back to Socrates, the Mahabharata, the Shahnameh and many others. Societies look back and say that what has passed was a greater time (with notable exception in rising empire, but that's another topic)

The retrospective is the ultimate rose colored glass though. Those people that we remember are indeed frequently good examples of the paradigms we hold in such high regard. On the other hand, we remember them for a reason. We remember the best of people, and the average and the bad slip into obscurity in history. The good old boys are worthy of your respect, but because they are good, not because they are old. Society today is not necessarily any more or less moral than any other time. People are just and have always been dissatisfied with the present.

On the other hand. To todays youth, and their parents: Read that list. The values in it are by and large still applicable and good. Live by them and teach them. We may not be in the worst of all possible worlds, but it can always be better. I know I will be saving that list.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Blogroll Additions

Few additions to the blogroll today.

RobbAllen at Sharp as a Marble is frequently witty, often informative, and has an excellent handle on much of what is happening in the world today. Definitely worth your time and attention.

AEPilotJim at Confessions of a Gun-Toting Seagull brings the snark frequently and with great gusto. Highly entertaining as well as interesting views on the world around us.

MattG at Better and Better is a beautiful writer who frequently takes the more philosophical stance than many. I only started reading him recently, and already he's given me a great deal to think about.

As always, I run a reciprocal blogroll, so if you link me and don't see your blog on the right, leave a comment and I will rectify that.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

If You Didn't Bring Enough to Share.....

Then you shouldn't have it at all. This is a fairly familiar line to most people having gone through public schooling, at least within the last 19 years (which is all I can speak to.) While talking to a friend today, she mentioned that someone unfamiliar with the term had commented on its communist nature.

This got me thinking. These teachers are apparently of the impression that imposing this sort of rule will be a successful deterrent for whatever practice they take offense to, most frequently gum chewing. By and large, it is. Most student choose either to not chew gum, or to do so in a manner they think they can get away with.

Why is it then that these same teachers and students are frequently among the most vocal supporters of communist or socialist programs? The same people using socialism as a threat or dodging the requirements are supporting it. This seems to be something of a logical disconnect. It's not just this particular analogy either. Many if not most school rules are, as a product of an authoritarian system, not dissimilar to other authoritarian rules. Students are quite gifted at dodging rules, finding loopholes, and not getting caught. Yet they attempt to impose the same sorts of rules that they find offensive on the entire country.

This just plain doesn't make sense. It's internally inconsistent. Yes, I know that people are frequently inconsistent, but the sheer level of incompatibility makes me wonder how people don't think about it. It's the same thing as a treasury head who cheats on his taxes (but that would never happen of course /sarcasm.) Those imposing rules are unwilling to follow them. Why should they expect anyone else to do so?