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

Monday, April 23, 2012

Posted Without Comment

Blogshoot Photos

It's been a lot of fun reading over the assorted accounts of the shoot online. Something of a way to keep the fun going for a few more days.

I didn't end up taking too many pictures, mostly on account of spending more time shooting guns than cameras.  This, quite honestly, suits me just fine.  Here are some of the better pictures I got on Saturday.

The range, featuring Hope-N-Change the Magic Unicorn

Close up on Hope-N-Change, taken from the same spot. I love 30x optical zoom.

Borepatch, our wonderfu host.  Seriously, meet this guy if you can.

Pat St. Jean shooting a neat left handed AR

There were guns. Lots of guns.  These are just RedneckEngineer's offerings, including a .50 on the far right.

Kevin Baker, Redneck Engineer, and Traction Control, from left to right.

Redneck Engineer shooting Traction Control's KRISS

Yours truly, exhibiting my two oddities for the day. The first is of course the stupidhuge grin.  The second is that I shot pretty much everything but the Saiga and .50 in target pose, because that's simply how I learned to shoot.  Looks odd, but hey, it worked.

Unicorn Farts stuck through particle board.

This tickled my fancy for some reason probably related to Peace Love and Butterflies. Those butterflies got all over everything, including shooters midshot.  I'm afraid I don't remember who it was, but someone mentioned that just as they were lining up their shot with the .50, a butterfly landed directly between their eye and the scope.

Bayonet Charge Aftermath
[video will be posted once I get it onto Youtube]

A closeup of the same.

Nick the Blogless lifts his trophy high

Small bits of unicorn littered the ground for a good 7-8 feet past the target.
This is just a small spattering of the awesomeness from that day.  Final thoughts and a video of the charge will go up sometime in the next couple days.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Texas Blogshoot AAR

First off, a huge thank you to Borepatch for putting this together. If you ever get the chance to meet him in meatspace, do so. He is a thoroughly nice guy.  I'd also like to thank The Redneck Engineer for giving me a ride to the shoot, spotting me some ammo, letting me shoot lots of fun guns, and generally taking me under his wing.

On the topic of attendees, as much as I'd like to, I don't think I could provide an accurate list of attendees, so for want of not leaving anyone else, I will leave that to more organized people.

On the topic of fun guns, oh my goodness.  The steady stream of gunfire continued pretty much unabated from 10-3:30, from all sorts of fun things.  I tried to keep track of the assorted guns and people, but there were so many of both that that was somewhat difficult.  It was an exciting enough day that even keeping track of the highlights is proving difficult.

I shot an AR15 for the first time today, and, simply put, I understand the love.  They point naturally, balance well, are far more accurate than me, and are easy on the shoulder.  We were shooting along the Trinity River, and every so often someone would chuck a piece of wood or tennis ball into the water as a target.  The two guns I hit the most with were the AR and .22 pump action (which was also a hoot. No recoil to speak of and fairly accurate, with potential for a very high rate of fire.)  On a related note, tennis balls floating in the water make insanely fun targets, as a hit on the bottom (or sufficiently close) will send the ball flying up to about 50 feet in the air.  Small slices of log are similarly fun, as even a good hit from a .22 will break one into smaller targets.

Other firsts for the day included a suppressed pistol, a Ruger Mark 2 with can and red dot, a 12ga shotgun, a Saiga 12 (also my first semi-auto shotgun) a .50bmg, a homebuild of Redneck Engineer's, a KRISS (squee!) and a Garand (which Kevin Baker was kind enough to share with pretty much everyone.)

No blogshoot would be complete of course without the sacrificial stuffed animal.  It held up to the small arms fire remarkably well, especially considering photos I've seen of the results of other shoots.  However, no stuffed animal can withstand the might of 6-7 guys with bayonets.  I, not having my 91-30 (and more importantly the overly large bayonet) down in Texas, was unable to join in the charge, but did get some decent film, as well as somehow ending up with the maimed and dismembered critter. It now hangs on the wall between my two flags in honor of the event.*

It was both a pleasant and fascinating experience to put faces to names I have seen before, and in the case of Kevin, read for years.  This was my first time meeting anyone from the gunbloggosphere in meatspace, and I kept thinking throughout the day about how Heinlein got it slightly wrong. An armed society is not just a polite society. An armed society is a friendly society.  Everyone there all day was pleasant, friendly, and not only willing to allow others to shoot their firearms, but actively wanted to share them (or so it seemed.)  Overall it was a fantastic experience, and I fully intend to go to many more.

Pics to follow.

*Entertainingly, my mom gave me a cardboard deer head for my birthday, as even target shooters who shoot paper need trophies. I have moved onto a different medium now, and I already have a trophy.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Militant Idealism

I got into a very interesting discussion on Facebook this morning that started in homosexuality and quickly turned into a discussion about religion, and it got me thinking about religion specifically, but more generally the 'us vs. them' mentality that pervades human thinking.

The discussion started after a comment decrying the use of spirituality to justify bigotry towards homosexuals. Another commenter chimed in saying that it came directly from the bible, and that since the bible had been used to justify bigotry, all scripture should be trashed.

To me, condemning all Christians who put stock in interpretation of scripture is bigotry, just as Christians condemning people who don't fit with their perception of the world is bigotry.

Tam said in a recent post, "Man isn't the rational animal, he's the rationalizing animal." This of course applies to far more than just loss prevention and asset forfeiture. I like to think that most people want to be good, or at least don't want to be bad. The trouble is how easy it is to convince yourself that you aren't being bad. The Christian camp that condemns homosexuals based on a selective reading of Leviticus are not using their acts to do the work of god, they are using the bible to justify their acts. Similarly, the condemnatory atheists are not using their acts to promote peace and equality for everyone, they are using a selective idealism to justify their acts. Both are guilty of hypocrisy, and both are entirely convinced that they are in the right.

This is not to say that it is wrong to judge people in life. In the preceding paragraph, I handed down judgement to two groups of people who engage in certain acts. Avoiding someone you don't get along with, calling out bad behaviors in people and other things are entirely natural and proper. Even a certain degree of prejudice is necessary in life. Situational awareness depends on it. When you see the guy who's followed you for the last three blocks hiding his face in a hoody* with a lump in his pocket at 2AM, it would be irresponsible to yourself to not seek help or avoid the person.

The real problems are twofold. The first is when you allow prejudice to continue past contrary evidence. If the suspicious character catches up to you, tells you you dropped your wallet a couple blocks back and returns it, yet you still treat them as an immediate threat, that is improperly judgmental. Similarly, when you take the actions and causes of judgment against an individual and paint an entire group who share some characteristic with the same judgment, you are doing an injustice to the rest of the group.

Among the worst offenders in this are people with political motivations on both sides of the aisle. Many liberals paint all conservatives as heartless, bitter, uneducated cynics clinging to guns and religion. Many conservatives paint all liberals as unintelligent, greedy, incompetent right stealers spending their lives in a pot cloud. There are people who fit both stereotypes. In my experience though, most of both parties are fundamentally good, intelligent people who have different primary motivations and philosophical foundations.

It is a different thing though to judge or decry those who personally do these things. One can look at Obama's or Romney's record and dislike him for it. One can look at Westboro Baptist and say that what they do is wrong. One can take issue with GLSEN's pamphlets. One is justified in perforating the guy in the hoodie who pulls a knife on you and threatens your life.

People are not always going to get along. It's pretty much a given. The die hard bigots are going to stay bigots. People are going to be judgmental and prejudiced. However, it's important to remember how very easy it is to fall into the same trap. While group x, a subset of group y, may do things that are legitimately bad, if group z acts against group y, they are likewise problematic.

There's one other theme that runs through this. To me, legitimate cause of judgment is always about action. People can believe whatever they want personally. The problem always comes when they ACT badly on whatever justification they have created. Similarly, actions of others are the foundation for legitimate condemnation. You can disagree with someone's core beliefs all you want, but until they attempt to impose on others, there is no case for condemnation.

It is very hard to overcome preconceived notions. Many of them are hardwired. People are programmed to stick to their own group, however that is defined. The strange or different on a gut level is uncomfortable. Acting on them in modern society is still wrong. It's a conscious effort. If the suppression is successful, then I cannot fault someone for having these notions. To quote Albus Dumbledore, "It is our choices, Harry, that show who we truly are, far more than our abilities." All that matters is if you choose to act on your preconceptions.

This got a touch more rambly than expected, which happens whenever I spend more than one session on a post, so my apologies for that.

*I really don't want to hear anything about Trayvon Martin over this comment. Please.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


I don't want to comment on the Zimmerman/Martin case specifically. There isn't enough information for a final judgement, and others have covered what we do know far better than I can.

This is a rather good opportunity to talk some about media in general though.

We in the blogosphere tend to take out main stream news with at the least a grain of salt, and at most about half the yearly production of Khewra. We recognize that media outlets frequently have agendas, often* at odds with ours. I know that whenever I read an article in the MSM, my brain is divided between digesting content and determining spin, which ranges from near stationary to industrial end mill.† TV news I generally don't even get to pay attention to content, as there rarely is any under the spin.

Most people, my college peers particularly, don't think this way. They have CNN running in the background of their lives, and take what they see at full face value. During the Occupy protests, people I talked to were largely unaware of the huge rates of disease, crime, and stupidity. The UC Davis case ran the same way. When challenged on the false impressions some of them had formed, several people replied "But I saw it on CNN."

The primary responsibility for being properly informed falls on the individual. Allowing other agencies to manufacture your impression of an event is foolhardy in the extreme. It is a tacit acceptance of being a pawn in someone else's game, which is especially entertaining coming from modern young radicals claiming intellectual independence and complaining about the sheeple.§

That being said, the main stream media is well aware of their influence, and are deliberately misleading people in the pursuit of their agenda. I have no problem with talking heads getting their feathers ruffled by the latest incident du jour, but I have a problem with them twisting facts to suit their outrage. The MSNBC doctoring of the Zimmerman 911 call seems to me just short of libelous. UC Davis was painted as an unprovoked attack out of convenience. The media actively suppressed accounts of the Occupy awfulness.

The media have sold their credibility for outrage and agenda. The days of the muckrackers, investigative reporters who would dig through anything for a story, are passed, replaced by reporters who will fling any quantity of muck to hide stories and paint the picture they want to show the world. Their claim of fair, unbiased and objective reporting is a shameful travesty, their abdication of their journalistic responsibility is a tragedy, and the way people accept it is enough to bring the cynic in me to full force.

At this point, if I want news of any big news event in the US or world, I turn first to BBC. They have agenda too, but it's not so heavily tied to this country. Finding reputable objectivity should not take another continent. Lest Fox think it gets a pass on these matters, they are likewise guilty, simply possessing a different agenda. The fact that said agenda more closely mirrors mine is irrelevant.

If the media is going to behave this way, one of two things should happen. Either their mainstream credibility should drop to that of blogs, or the mainstream credibility of good blogs should rise to meet that of media. While I'm making empty wishes, I'd really like an AR in 6.8 Grendel and a pair of matched Coonan 1911s. Oh, and a viable presidential candidate. And a pony.

*ok, ok, almost always
†I do this with blogs as well. We spin too.
See? I have opinion and agenda too.
§Swap in reactionary and you have a leftist's opinion of me, so there's another grain of salt.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Dallas Area Blogshoot

Looks like I will be in attendance at the Dallas Blogshoot being put on by Borepatch. Short form, I am quite looking forward to this.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Summery Meal

Having eaten quite well in Florida, I was not exactly looking forward to a return to college fare. I was essentially resigned to the necessity of this until I found a clump of wild mint on campus. While a sane mind might react to that by saying, "Oh, mint. Smells nice" and walk by, my brain immediately said "Harvest. Cook" I walked back to my room with several clumps of mint perfuming my bag.

After a potentially obsessive amount of research into what to do with fresh mint, while sucking down a glass of home brew iced mint tea, I decided I should make this. After a trip to the grocery, I ended up with rather more ingredients than expected, including a half pound sirloin.* As such, in a trait inherited directly from my dad, I decided to experiment

Seeing as my efforts towards a summertime meal ended up rather tasty, I figured I'd share with all of you.

Mint Orange Soda (makes several servings)
1 20oz bottle Tonic or seltzer
~2 tbsp fresh grated orange zest
8-10 chopped fresh mint leaves
4" cucumber, chopped.
Sugar to taste

In rather a complicated recipe, open the tonic, shove all your ingredients except the sugar in the bottle, cap, shake, and refrigerate. Pour through fork or strainer to remove solid, add sugar and serve over ice with twist of orange.

Orange zest steak
Montreal steak seasoning or personal choice
Orange zest

Dry rub steak with orange zest and seasoning and let marinate for a while. Pop on grill and cook to taste.

Mint fruit salad (my favorite from this meal)
1-2 tbsp sugar
2-3 tbsp orange zest
10-12 fresh mint leaves
Juice of 1 quarter lemon
Sliced strawberries
Any other fruit you so choose to throw in

Fine chop the mint leaves and mix mint and orange zest into the sugar. You should end up with a clumpy consistency. Let sit for a few hours. Chop your fruit, mix juice of lemon into sugar mixture and drizzle over fruit. Enjoy.

All three of these recipes are very easy, and quite tasty. The berries and soda particularly are quite refreshing on a hot day, especially with a grill going next to you. The overall cost was very low, and cooking could be entirely accomplished in a dorm room apart from the grilling. Seems to me a nice way to get nicer, quality, non-greasy summertime food for college students particularly.

If any of you try these, let me know how it goes in comments! Buen Provecho, Bon Apetit, Smacznego, Velbekomme, Приятного аппетита!

*Great thing was, I bought 4 packs of berries, three oranges, a lemon, and a steak for 11$. I rather like this grocery. Good stuff too. Not sure if Sprouts is a Dallas only thing, but it's sorta like a much less pretentious and expensive Whole Foods. I recommend.