Thursday, May 31, 2012

What’s in a Game?

I recently found out that my 11 year-old daughter has been playing World of Warcraft.  Evidently, she found a way to play X number of sessions for free.

Now, I know just enough about WoW that I would absolutely forbid any male progeny I had to get anywhere near it.  Get off your ass and play a sport!  But a girl?  I speak from complete ignorance, but it’s a little less clear to me what the harm is.  Thoughts?
Truth be told, I’m kinda proud that she has the mind for something like WoW, which I understand to be somewhat involved.  I barely have the time and energy at the end of the day for a 22 minute sitcom, let alone managing a whole MMORPG existence.

Apropos of WoW, I got a kick out of this one in a silly sort of way:

Monday, May 28, 2012

Season V, Episode 4

This episode centers around the travails of Pete Campbell, Head of Accounts at the reorganized Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Pryce.  Regrettably, it represent a regression of his character. 

In Seasons I & II, Pete comes to learn that many men who work in advertising cheat on their wives.  Now, Pete himself has lovely and devoted wife, and doesn’t seem especially motivated by sex.  But he is especially attuned to relative status markers, and he instinctively understands that the ability to attract women into low-commitment sex is the mark of a high status man.  Pete is small in both physical stature and personality, and he becomes acutely aware, once he starts looking for it, that women respond to him with indifference.  This indifference inflicts substantial pain, and Pete sets out, with malice aforethought, to seduce more-or-less random women as the opportunities present.

These conquests turn out to be unfulfilling, and events conspire to rob them of the personal affirmation he was seeking.  It had seemed to me that he had got this out of his system and resolved to be content with what he had.  But now the writers are returning to this theme.

In “Signal 30”, Pete faces a full spectrum of failure.  When the kitchen faucet fails catastrophically during his dinner party, Don fixes it while Pete fusses ineffectually with his tools.**  He watches helplessly as the attentions of a young woman he had befriended are snatched away by a taller, stronger man.  He picks a public fight with Lane Pryce and loses – badly.

“I have nothing,” he complains despondently to Don at the end of the episode.  Well, no!  He has a wife that loves him and who apparently isn’t put off by his personal mediocrity.  So, he’s never going to compete with Don; he should change the game.  He’s never going to cut it as a PUA; so, he should play his own league by being a good husband and father.

I totally get that this may not be the life he planned on.  I may even understand that it’s not the life he would choose now.  But it is the life that’s available to him, and one that affords its own joys and happiness if he would but embrace it.

* Parenthetically, in Season V, now that the remarried Draper is doing his best to straighten up and fly right, the writers are having him claim that his earlier philandering was not especially motivated by sex, either.  This claim is frankly incredible; and Draper is either lying, or the writers have gotten lazy and mawkish.  In a series like this, the audience can never be sure if we’re having our chain yanked.

** I’m especially sensitive to this, having been on the receiving end of “help” that only raised the status of the helper at my expense.  In this case, Don should have realized that this was Pete’s house.  He should have coached him through the repair rather than just doing it himself.

Real life example:  I was observing a couple at the range the other day, and watched as the female handled her pistol in an unsafe manner.  Rather than correct her, however, I pulled him aside and explained what she was doing wrong.  He took the cue and straitened her out.  I think this went a ways in upholding the status of their relationship (whatever it was).

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Range Report III: Cheaper ‘n Dirt Edition

I originally put this post together before the catestrophic failure I wrote about Monday.

Brown Bear 62gr. Soft Point, $25.95/100:

Brown Bear 62gr. Soft Point


Tula 55 gr. FMJ, $24.95/100:

Tula 55gr. FMJ

Both of these were Russian “lacquered steel case” ammo.”  You be the judge, but I’m convinced that they were made by the same company in the same batch, then distributed by different American companies.  Steel case ammo can be particularly hard on rifles and pistols, but these rounds exceeded my expectations.  These targets are smaller than what I’ve posted before.  The rings mark centimeter spacing.

Continuing . . .

RWS Copper Matrix NTF 42gr. Frangible, $14.95/20:

RWS Copper Matrix NTF 42gr. Frangible


Federal American Eagle XM856 64gr. Tactical Red Tracer, $9.95/20:

Federal American Eagle XM856 64gr. Tactical Red Tracer


Sellier & Bellot 55gr. SP, $13.95/20:

Sellier & Bellot 55gr. SP

I really like these 8-in. Birchwood Casey “Dirty Bird” targets, BTW.  They are really easy to see downrange, unlike the laser printed ones above.  I highlighted the S&Bs; evidently, one of my rounds missed the target completely.  The large holes are from my .45 USP.  Not bad from 50 yards, except that I had to shoot 20 rounds to get those five hits in the black, with the rest scattered among the neighboring targets.

American Eagle XM855F 62gr. Penetrator, $41.95/100:

Federal American Eagle XM855F 62gr. Penetrator


Black Hills 55gr. Remanufactured Seconds FMJ, $24.95/50:

Black Hills 55gr. Remanufactured Seconds FMJ


For calibration purposes, here is the PMC Precision 75gr. BTHP Match, $16.95/20:

PMC Precision 75gr. BTHP Match

This is still my favorite, even if it’s a bit pricey.

Finally, let’s use the Black Hills 60gr. Soft Point from last time, except now with the backup iron sights:

Black Hills 60gr. Soft Point

Um . . . yes, well, it looks like those sights may need adjusting!  OTOH, my rear sight is already cranked all the way to the right.  Also, you may recall that the Black Hills shot leftward when I was using the Sightmark.  I could adjust the front post, but when I shot the DRS Hornady 68gr. with open sights last time, they landed in the lower left quadrant.  The Hornady with the Sightmark were in the lower right quadrant, more or less, which may confirm that the front post is fine but the rear sight needs adjusting . . . .

The only generalization I can pull from all this is that it’s important to sight in your rifle with whatever ammo you plan on using.  The Russian ammo seems to be a great bargain if it’s a rifle you don’t want to baby.  Otherwise, the XM855 is a good round for having fun, and the PMC Precision is good for high priority targets.  Some of the rounds may have been more accurate if the sights were adjusted specifically for them, but they tended not to be especially precise for the money.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Bad Day Shooting . . .

Can get pretty bad!



Couldn’t get any worse than the back end of a shell blowing half off, right?



I guess it go blow fully off.  But that wouldn’t hurt a big, tough, AR-15, right?



I checked Bing images, just to be sure, and no, the extractor isn’t actually supposed to be bent back like that.


Funny story about that PMAG.  The sales girl told me that some of her customers had driven a truck over one and reported that it wasn’t damaged.

I’m not exactly sure what went wrong here.  I originally thought that a round had gone tragically wrong and had lodged itself in the chamber so tightly that it had to be knocked out with a cleaning rod from the muzzle end.  But when several subsequent rounds from different manufacturers also had to be banged out, I eventually took a harder look at the extractor.  And, of course, that magazine, which seemed to have been damaged on the second or third round after the initial problem.

Obviously, the extractor needs replacing, but the shells also seem to be sticking in the chamber, although it’s difficult to diagnose this problem independently of the extractor.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Downward Mobility

Trumwill wrote a couple of posts on political tribalism that are worth reading in their entirety.  The context was the issue of “artistic integrity” as applied to (or rather, against) CleanFlicks, a company that issued family-friendly versions of movies until sued into submission.

I commented:

The references to “artistic integrity” brought to mind something I thought about a lot at the time, but lately not so much. When I was a HS Junior, our school produced the play You Can’t Take It With You, by George Kaufman. It was a small school, so everyone had a part. I played Tony Kirby (ironically, the romantic male lead - I didn’t say we performed it well).

The play is devastatingly funny, and while nowadays I recognize it to be an anti-WASP screed, we certainly had a good time with it. But the school required us to purge it of all “objectionable” material, i.e. any references, however oblique, to sex, alcohol, dancing, non-Christian religion, etc. You might not think a play from 1937 would have anything bad in it, but you underestimate our censoriousness.

Pretty central to the play is its open advocacy of a drop-out-kick-back-enjoy-life attitude. At the time, I thought this advice to be, at best, a little silly. I also thought that some of the “objectionable content” left on the cutting room floor might be organically related to it, and I was peeved at school officials for being so obtuse as to embrace the attitude but then squelch an understanding of where it might take you.

Looking back on it, I guess I was kind of invested in the idea of “artistic integrity”, though from the negative perspective in this case.

Since I didn’t want to offend Trumwill’s commenting standards, I reserved elaboration on the bolded section for this post.

This was my climatic soliloquy:

"No, I want to talk about it now.  I think Mr. Vanderhof is right- dead right!  And tomorrow I won't be coming to the office.  I've always hated it and I'm not going on with it.  And I'll tell you something else. I didn't make a mistake last night. I knew it was the wrong night. I brought you here on purpose, because I wanted you to wake up!  I wanted you to see a real family; as they really were.  A family that loved and understood each other.  You don't understand me. You've never had the time!  Well I'm not going to make your mistake. I'm clearing out!...  I'm not going to be pushed into the business just because I'm your son.  I'm getting out while there's still time...  I don't know, maybe I'll be a swing dancer, but at least I'll do something I want to do!"

This pretty much sums up the play’s message to its 1930s audience:  leave the commanding heights of industry, built by your fathers, to others in favor of . . . swing dancing.  Or something.

Whatever its merits, it never seems to occur to anyone that this advice, issued by people with names like Kaufman to the sons of men with names like Kirby, might have been, you know, a little self-interested.

Steve Sailer quotes from the movie Metropolitan:

Take those of our fathers who grew up very well-off. I mean, maybe their careers started out well enough, but just as their contemporaries really began accomplishing things, they started quitting—'I’m rising above office politics,' or refusing to compete and risk open failure . . . or gradually spending more and more time on . . . conservation or the arts, where even if they were total failures no one would know it.”

How’s that working out for you lately?

Monday, May 14, 2012

α β γ δ ω σ

From Alpha Game:

A great way to know where you are on the list...

You're in a bar and the piano guy shouts, "everyone kiss the person to your left!" and the person to your left is a single hottie. You...

  • A) Kiss her.. and the girl next to her too... because he didn't say how far to the left. (this is the alpha answer)
  • B) Playfully punch her in the arm or hug her (beta answer)
  • C) Laugh and look awkwardly at her then quickly down at your drink when you make eye contact. (Delta!)
  • D) Safely at the back of the room alone you roll your eyes and act offended that anyone would suggest such a thing because you are way to cool for these stupid games. (GAMMA!)
  • E) Going to the bar never crossed your mind. (Omega)
  • F) You didn't notice because you were getting a … in the theater during The Little Mermaid (Sigma)

Somewhere in B) thru E), perhaps.

As a general rule, I don’t go to bars (omega), although I did go a few times to one that offered dance lessons.

If I did go, I most certainly would not have sat next to the hottie (gamma).  One time, though, I sat next to a hottie on an airplane.  It was the seat number on my ticket.  So I guess if I could contrive airtight deniability, then maybe.  For instance, if I had got there first, maybe I wouldn’t move when she sat down.  But only in Florida or a another state with a “Stand Your Ground” law.

If instructed to kiss her, my instinct, of course, is to stare into my drink, since literally sinking into the floor hasn’t been possible (delta).  But if at some point prior, she had initiated conversation, and I believed us to be on speaking terms, then I might have gotten an arm punch out of it (beta).

On other hand, if, upon hearing the instructions, the hottie had leaned towards me expectantly and pursed her lips . . . well, waddya gonna do?  (Beta+?  Alpha-?)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Rolling Back the Clock, Nation Style

From The Nation (via Mangan):

Just because the white student didn’t get in doesn’t mean that someone took “their” spot. Colleges don’t owe spots to students, and if you don’t get in to the school of your choice, the college took nothing away from you.

I don’t recall The Nation making this point in the run-up to Brown vs. Board.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Gun Culture

When I enrolled my wife in a CCW course, I wasn’t seeking a culturally broadening experience.  It just so happened that during the week she could do it, the only class I could find with open seats was also the least expensive.

The instructor was a heavy-set, foul-mouthed ex-Marine with personal issues right out of a bad country-music piece.  There were seven people in the class, four of whom were women.  Two of the women were black.  One of the black women worked in what is now known as “exotic dancing.”

Hey, it takes all kinds!

As has been widely reported, women are making an ever greater percentage of participants in the shooting sports, and among CCW holders in particular.  Locally, blacks seem to surprisingly well-represented among CCW applicants.

CCW classes are regularly conducted at the public range at which I shoot.  The class was (perhaps) breaking for lunch one Saturday while I was there, and filed past the rifle range from the handgun range.  A fair number of blacks, if not a majority.  They got a long look at us, the exclusively white riflemen, every man of us cradling an AR-15.

I’m thinking we made a good impression.

Monday, May 07, 2012

The Meaning of Death

I saw the movie The Descendants. It is a very well crafted movie that I would recommend seeing. Herewith are a few thoughts.

  • The story surrounds the imminent death of Elizabeth King, a married mother-of-two left in a permanent coma after a boating accident. In the early days of death-by-dehydration, this was called a "persistent vegetative state" (PVS), although the term seems to have been quietly dropped as withdrawal of feeding tubes has been applied to ever higher levels of cognitive functioning. In the movie, Elizabeth had an "advanced directive", and while the phrase "feeding tube" appears nowhere, the audience has plenty enough information to figure this out on its own. Indeed, it is the most honest movie portrayal of the horror involved that I can recall seeing anywhere.

  • Elizabeth's family and friends all pay visits to her bedside to talk to her, and as the movie unfolds, it turns out they have quite a bit to say. But . . . why? "Closure," my wife says, but I can't quite reconcile the contradiction between justifying her death in this manner by claiming she is insensate and then talking to her as if she weren't.

  • Come to think of it, how do practical atheists (as opposed to dogmatic atheists) deal with death? Nobody in this movie evinces anything like a religious sensibility, yet they go through empty rituals as if life-and-death had some meaning beyond an organism that quits. We Christians have our own mythology about this -- "The dead in Christ shall rise first" -- but it's kind of sad to see atheists try to invest significance in something that doesn't have it. But perhaps Elizabeth's husband understands this when he scatters her ashes at the end of the movie. "Well, that's it," he says. Exactly.

  • Several characters hasten to assure Elizabeth's cuckolded husband what an "amazing" woman she is. But . . . why? She was conspicuously failing as a wife and mother and had no other actual accomplishments to her credit that I could discern. But apart from that, I would like to submit as a general rule that we should be cautious about making generalizations about a woman's character to her husband. Perhaps I'm excessively territorial, but I believe it to be presumptuous, for two reasons. First of all, we all of us are deeply flawed to those who know us most intimately. And second, well, who are you to tell a man what his own wife is like? Speaking personally, the reason I love my wife, and the most important thing about her in my eyes, is that she's mine and not yours. So frankly I would rather not hear about how you thought she was amazing.

  • Twenty-one year old Shailene Woodley showed herself to be a competent and engaging actress playing the 17 y.o. daughter. Weirdly, however, I found her physical beauty distracting in a role in which it wasn't especially integral to the story. It didn't help that she wore a bikini top through most of the movie, although kudos to the cameramen for not -- what's the word -- luxuriating in the spectacle. But I'm now at the age where I identify with the dad (George Clooney) more than the boyfriend (Nick Krause). Cognitive dissonance abounds.

Friday, May 04, 2012

If you close your eyes, it doesn't exist (UPDATED WITH CONTENT).

From the Virginia Pilot:

A complaint about anti-Islamic materials used in a class for officers at Norfolk's Joint Forces Staff College has spurred top military officials to suspend the course and order a broad review of instructional materials across all branches of the service.

You may remember the Virginia Pilot as being the paper that sat on the story of the "Justice for Trayvon" beating of two of its own reporters for two weeks, and here manages to avoid quoting a single source contesting the idea that if just close our eyes tight enough and conduct enough audits, then the West's struggle with Islam won't really exist.

UPDATE: Sorry for the snafu. I'm not as meta as that.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Range Report #2: Improvements

. . . with a little coaching from the Professor:

.223 DRS 68gr. Hornady BTHP Match, $49.95/100

DRS Hornady BTHP Match 68gr


.223 Corbon Performance Match 59gr. HPBT, $13.95/20

Corbon Performance Match HPBT 69gr_hilite


5.56 Silver State Armory 63gr. Sierra Soft Point, $16.49/20

SSA Sierra Soft Point 63gr_hilite

Only four shots with this one.  I’ll explain in a minute.

.223 Black Hills 60gr. Soft Point, $32.95/50

Black Hills Soft Point 60gr_hilite

So, using the last two soft point bullets, the rifle jammed multiple times.  I don’t remember the technical terms for all the kinds of jams, but basically it seemed that the bold didn’t go all the way forward.  Once, the jam was so bad that the bolt wouldn’t go forward or back, and I spent five minutes trying to get the live round clear of the chamber.

I’m not sure how much the ammo is to blame, though, because about this time I became aware that my forward grip had been sliding down the well onto the magazine, which might cause feeding problems.  Professor?

Continuing . . .

.223 PMC Precision 75gr. BTHP Match, $16.95/20

PMC Precision BTHP 75gr


.223 Fiocchi 55gr. Pointed Soft Point, $9.95/20

Fiocchi Pointed Soft Point 55gr


Giving the Corbon another try:

Corbon Performance Match 69gr #2

I could feel myself getting a little tired and sloppy.  And ignore that little tear from the hole I cut out of the frame.  It’s from a .45 ACP that I made while waiting for a cease fire.  Not too bad at 50 yards . . . except that I was aiming at the target above it.

Note to self:  Next time you confront a bad guy hiding behind a shorter woman from 50 yards with nothing but a .45 . . . go to plan B.


Using the DRS with open sights:

DRS Hornady BTHP Match 68gr - Open Sights


Aww, skroo it:

Screw It

A bad day shooting still beat a good day working!


1.  I concentrated on breath control, but also tried to relax into the stance.  It seems to be paying off, as all the groups tightened up.

2.  My impression is that ammo behavior is very specific.  Even when my five shot groups are tight, each different brand seems to pick its own quadrant, although I will need to test them again to see if the quadrants are consistent from one group to the next.  (Or rather, if I’m consistent from one group to the next.

3.  As last time, the PMC Precision is turning in the best performance.  I’m very happy with this ammo.  The Corbon seemed to have done well in the first round.  The Fiocchi Soft Point didn’t do nearly as well as the Fiocchi Match King did last time, but then it’s also lighter and a lot less expensive.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Liberals eat their young.

Reading the Reuters profile on George Zimmerman (quoted at length by Steve Sailer), I couldn’t help thinking:  if liberals will do this to George, a Democrat poster child for good citizenship, what would they do to a right-wing crank like me?


I also wondered if the events of the last six weeks have changed George’s view of the world, and if so, how.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Military Understatement

From “AF Tests Smart Cards”:

Differences between the CAC and SIPRNet tokens exist, but they are not obvious to the average user, other than the fact the SIPRNet token doesn't have a picture, name, grade or service component listed.