Sunday, December 28, 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008

About Angels and Poems

On Saturday, Kathy and I attended a memorial service for the sister of a friend. I barely knew the sister, having met her only once and in passing. I'm puzzled as to why the service affected me as much as it did.

It would be presumptuous of me to write that I "know" her, because all that I know of her is what I learned during the service and from talking with her family and friends at the service.

This person selflessly gave herself and her time to her chosen close friends and to her family. She wasn't a mother, in the biological sense, but *was* a mother to her many nieces. But at the same time she clung to her identify and knew instinctively that to avoid sinking into the muck of darkness and ugliness that surrounds us in our daily lives when we venture out of the safety of our homes, she must gain sustenance from the shared love, laughs and silliness with her husband, her close chosen friends and her family.

As it often seems, a person "comes by" when you need them the most. This person "came by", however briefly and remotely, when I was searching for the answer to the question "what next". I think I already knew the answer, but the memorial service was like the little man tired of being pushed back in the line because he is small and rushes to the front of the line and yells: "Hey! I'm tired of being pushed back. I have something important to say!" And say it, he did.

Don't isolate yourself.

That's it!!! As geeks, we tend to isolate. Perhaps we are by nature solitary and asocial. Perhaps the nature of our work requires lots of alone time. Perhaps it is due to the competitive nature of our existence, the competition that leads us to finding little faults in people, competitively self-elevating ourselves above the "faulty" others, and thus pushing them away. But in isolation, we can succumb to the darkness and ugliness. And no good comes from walking down that road.

During the service, a poem, "Questions About Angels" by Billy Collins, was read. One passage in that poem still brings a tear to my eye every time I read it.

She sways like a branch in the wind, her beautiful
eyes closed, and the tall thin bassist leans over
to glance at his watch because she has been dancing
forever, and now it is very late, even for musicians.

I'm pretty sure the poet's intention was to illustrate the timelessness of angels. But mortals in angel form must rest.

I ended up buying one of Billy Collins' anthologies, "Sailing Around the Room". For someone who hated "literature" in high school in general, and poetry in particular, Billy Collins' prose is quite lucid and understandable.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Time to visit Utah

Seems that Prop 8 opponents are calling for a boycott of the state of Utah as punishment for the Mormon church's support of Prop 8.

I have no dog in the race and groups (read Hollywood and yuppie Californian skiers) are certainly entitled to exercise their 1st amendment rights just as the members of the Mormon church exercised theirs during the elections. On the other hand, statements like the following are sure to endear gays to the general public and advance their cause to show people they are "nice normal people".

"The main focus is going to be going after the Utah brand," he said. "At this point, honestly, we're going to destroy the Utah brand. It is a hate state."

A "hate state"? Wow! Sounds a little harsh to me. I predict this will backfire at the "gay community".

I've never been to Utah and the thought of spending time on the slopes without hordes of "sensitive" Californians does have a certain appeal.

Let's see: spend money on crappy movies coming out of Hollywood or go to Utah and spend some money there. Hmmm.

Solution to the recession

Seems the election of "The One" has spurned an economic recovery. All the gun shops in the area tell me that their distributors are backlogged, and several ammo dealers (AIM Surplus and J&G Sales) report shipping delays as the volume of orders spiked following the election.

This anecdotal evidence is confirmed by a report that gun and ammo sales have spiked nationwide.

Today, GM reported a 45% drop in sales as evidence of a recession.

Now I'm not the president elect but the juxtaposition of those two stories would tell me two things:

(a) consumers are shifting spending priorities from cars to guns and ammo.
(b) the recession could be eased by making policy changes to boost the production of guns.

Clearly, that's what consumers want. Imagine how much money they could inject into the economy and how many jobs could be created if there were more guns for them to buy.

Now THAT would be Change (tm) I could sink my teeth into. ;-)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Prominent Obama supporters are controlling assholes

Or, "Socialists are sphincters".

Took my daughter to the beach today. It's a 23mi drive from my house to Santa Cruz on HWY 17. Normal driving protocol is slow cars move right for fast cars. Now, I don't drive that fast. THREE TIMES I come up on someone driving below the speed limit in the "fast lane". I politely flashed my high beams and politely waited for them to move over. EACH TIME they tap their brakes and SLOW DOWN so they're now pacing the car next to them in the slow lane, preventing anyone behind them from getting around them. EVERYONE of these road boulders was sporting an Obama sticker.


They're not content to hog the fast lane, but they want to CONTROL EVERYONE AROUND THEM.

Now you know.

House to House

Just finished reading House to House, by David Bellavia.

David was a sergeant in 3rd Platoon, Alpha Company, part of the Army's Task Force 2/2 in November 2004, when the US army assaulted Fallujah to destroy the insurgents terrorizing the city. His was one of the first companies to penetrate the city and his book describes the harrowing events of the first three days inside Fallujah, clearing house by house while dealing with insurgents hopped up on atropine and epinephrine. He encounters houses wired to explode, filled with trip wires and booby traps. And he describes a story of personal heroism and courage.

He describes soldiers, like Corporal Piotr Sucholas who is a liberal, who cynically believes that the assault is a political ploy to get Bush reelected, but who in battle is unyielding, rock steady and dependable. He describes a military that is professionally committed to what they are doing, believing in the end goal. Each infantryman believes that America is a force for good in the world, and living free of tyranny and oppression is a basic human right.

At the same time, however, he understands that his fight isn't clear cut. In describing his enemy he says: "The young ones were more committed. They've been indoctrinated since childhood and are radicalized beyond reason. They will go willingly when their leaders stay back and order then to their deaths. I wonder if this place is beyond hope."

Unfortunately, the media portrays America's warrior class with two wide brushes: "that of the victim and that of the felon. They appreciate neither."

But the best is left for last. In my mind, the last chapter, the epilogue, is the best writing of the whole book. David describes leaving the army to commit himself to being a father and a husband, having neglected his wife and son. It is bitter sweet because he understands that the camaraderie of brothers in arms will be gone forever. He will probably never see his brothers again. He returns to Iraq in 2005 to gain closure, and to memorialize the sites, by placing a carnation at each site, where three of the most important people in his Army life gave up their lives in Fallujah; Command Sergeant Major Steven Faulkenberg (shot by a sniper during the early hours of the assaut), Lt. Edward Iwan (cut down by an RPG while standing in the turret of a Brad commanding his men), Cpt. Sean Sims (killed in an ambush while clearing a house). After placing the last carnation he describes feeling like he's being watched, a lone westerner without a weapon. In his rush to "get away" he crashes into a woman coming around a corner, and rushes on without apology. He then writes:

"Then I heard her footsteps stop. I turned, and saw her regarding my carnation. She stared at it for a long minute before looking back to study my face in the early morning light. My shoulders sagged. I could not even feign a smile for this woman. Instead, I turned up a street to leave her and this miserable city behind. I took a few steps. Behind me nothing broke the stillness of the morning. I expected to hear the swish-swish of her sandals again walking on the side of the road, but there was nothing. Curious I glanced over my shoulder again. She was kneeing in front of my flower. Tenderly, she placed her own weeds alongside my cheap carnation. She touched her heart then the ground and uttered a prayer. She kissed her hand and touched her heart again. My mouth fell open. She looked over at me and as our eyes met again my heart broke. All the emotions, all the bottled up angst and grief I pretended didn't exist suddenly broke free. Tears rushed down my cheeks and I began to sob uncontrollably. I covered my face in complete shame but I knew the woman still watched me. She regarded me sadly. For a moment I thought she would attempt to console me. Instead she nodded, turned and ambled away. An anonymous elderly woman, lost in a city, I unapologetically helped destroy. I slipped off into an abandonded home, a street away, embarrased and surprised by my own meltdown on that Fallujah street. I sat and stared at the front gate. I have no idea how long I sat there, wracked with guilt for surviving. I lost track of time, lost track of where I was. Finally I moved outside the gate in an attempt to find that woman again. I looked up to see an empty street. I was alone. She left without knowing the gift she'd given me. She wasn't the reason I came to fight in Iraq. But she reminded me of the importance why we fight. The soil in Fallujah and all of Iraq has been consecrated with the blood of our dead, and her reverence reminded me of that. Fallujah will never be just another battlefield. This old woman showed me that my time in Fallujah was a life-altering privilege. It was here that we fought for hope. It was here that we fought to end the reign of terror that had descended on the innocents of a city. Through it all I witnessed the best of human condition - the loyalty, the self-sacrifice, the love that the brotherhood of arms evokes. I realized that I am complete for having experienced that. Those who died gave their lives for their brothers. They gave their lives a noble ideal: that freedom from tyranny and oppression is a basic human right. We were the force to do that, and my brothers paid the price. I stood up and headed for the street again, tears gone now. I had work to do, a fight to continue but I knew this: as long as I honored these men each day, I would have a second chance at redemption. At last I understood."

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Voting for B.O.

Are folks voting for Obama as proof that they aren't bigoted? [Yeah, I could vote for a black man for president. Show me one who's conservative and I'll vote for him! Heck, show me one more conservative then me and I'll kiss the man's feet!] Is this a PC-vote for an empty man?


Voting for Obama to prove you're not bigoted is like jumping out of an airplane to prove you're not afraid of heights. Either way, it's not the leap-of-faith that kills you; it's the rapid deceleration upon contact with hard reality.

UPDATE: Someone like this perhaps! HOT DAMN!!!!

It pains me to see y’all still on the plantation with chains on your brain. I escaped, y’all. And I’m trying to come back and pick the lock on them shackles that you still have on you. You know, when people put crabs in a bucket, they don’t have to put a lid on it. You know why? ‘Cause if a crab tries to crawl out, another crab’ll grab it and pull it back down there with it. And that’s what liberals are like. You got a brother that tries to climb out of the bucket and you got another hater that’ll pull him right back into that bucket. Back into that bucket of blame and victimhood.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The senate must think we're not that bright

As you may have heard, the senate just passed the "bailout plan". It's on to the house and I hope reps. get their ears pasted back by their constituents prior to a vote, and toss this thing down the nearest sewer.

Like a parent trying to get a fearful child to take some bitter tasting medicine, the senate "sweetened" the deal:

  • An increase from $100k to $250k in the value of deposit accounts insured by the FDIC
  • Tax cuts
Does the senate really think "We the People" are that stupid? The net affect of the above two changes is to increase federal liabilities and reduce funding for these liabilities. Huh?

Mark my words: the bailout is BAD BAD BAD!!! Without a doubt, some banks will (and should fail) because of toxic investments in their portfolios. Bad choices will and must have consequences in a free market economy.

One problem with the bailout plan is that it essentially gives the Treasury Secretary the power to choose which banks get to fail and which get to live on. He gets to choose which of an array of toxic investments he buys on the taxpayers dime. Not all banks are in bad shape, and most will survive after this is all over, bailout or no bailout. But placing the power over "life and death" in the hands of one man who now gets to choose which banks die and which survive worries me immensely. As ex-CEO of Goldman Sachs, I'm sure Mr. Paulson has the unbiased experience and will do the right thing. Uh huh!

The other essential problem with the bailout plan is that it delays the inevitable and thus delays recovery. These toxic investments move from private hands (banks) into public hands (taxpayers ... er ... federal government). In private hands, these investments would be written down, mortgages would be foreclosed and remaining funds recovered. In public hands, (there's no incentive for the Treasury to even buy them at market value) these investments will not be flushed because which politician has the needed courage to start foreclosing on "over their heads" home owners (interesting perversion of the word, no, when these owners own zero equity in the homes they currently occupy?) and recover remaining funds. No, the investments will be kept in the hopes that their value will rise. Right! The housing bubble has burst, folks, and these toxic securities will never regain the value they had when the banks that securitized mortgages believed in infinite bubble expansion.

Some experts are chastising us lumpen proletariat as lacking in understanding of how the financial system works. They're saying we should stop calling this a bailout plan and call it a credit flow rescue plan. Excuse me, but a plan that bails out, er ... rescues, some banks at the expense of others, at the discretion of the Treasury Secretary can't be impartially called anything but a "buddy bailout" plan. A plan that bails out, er ... rescues, some banks while leaving the taxpayer holding a bunch of "underwater" investments that will never regain their value is a "buddy bailout" plan.

Let the recovery begin now! Vote this sucker down. The result will be the same, it will just take longer if this thing is allowed to pass.

Monday, September 29, 2008

No stinkin' BAILOUT!!!!

As you've probably heard, congress rejected the projected $700B bailout. Mark my words: this is a GOOD thing!

McCain even stood up and said he was voting against it. Wonderful political move, I must say.

And the price of oil dropped to $96/barrel, on fear of a slowdown .... nice bonus there!

The media has been using scary words (Americans are apparently easily scared) saying that this bailout is needed to avoid a complete collapse of the financial system and to avoid another Depression. Bullshit, I say.

The chickens are coming home to roost, and the Democrats in congress (Barney Frank and the Black Congressional Causes, please call your office!), who brow-beat financial institutions into extending no-cost mortgages to people who had no business buying houses, are to blame.

If a 20% drop in the value of my 401K is the price I need to pay to clean HOUSE (yes, that house), then it's money well spent.

Hang on .....

Thursday, September 4, 2008

SKS trigger job

Bit the bullet. Took the trigger group of my Yugo SKS apart to

  1. figure out how the thing works
  2. reduce weight
  3. eliminate crunchiness.
Yesterday, I was successful in all three endeavors. What a goofy design. The sear rides on a pair of rails and is pushed by a bar, horizontally, levering off the trigger. The disconnecter pushes this bar vertically, thus allowing/disallowing engagement of the trigger bar with the sear. This design almost cries out for crunchiness because there is so much contact surface between the sear rails and the sear that any particles or non-smoothness will be amplified by the full weight of the hammer spring bearing down on the sear pushing it into the rails.

Nevertheless, smoothing/stoning out the top surface of the rails and the sear/hammer engagement surfaces did wonders for the crunchiness and shortening the sear spring and the hammer spring by one loop reduced the weight of the trigger quite nicely. The pull is still long, but is now uniform and smooth. I can imagine that the length of pull could be reduced by taking some material off the hammer edge that engages with the sear -- another day perhaps.

I was *quite* surprised at the outcome. The before and after difference is noticeable.

Let's do a step-by-step tour.

After removing the trigger group from the rifle, locate the latch stop pin near the front of the trigger group. This pin also serves as a group retention pin, sliding into recesses in the receiver to hold the trigger group in place. This pin must be driven out. One can start it out with a few taps of a brass hammer and then complete the driving out with an appropriately sized punch.

Once the latch stop pin has been removed, the latch stop, the sear spring and the sear can be removed by sliding them out the front of the trigger group housing on the rails they ride on.

Next, we need to remove the hammer from the trigger housing. Fortunately, this can be done without disassembling the rest of the trigger group. Merely, hold the hammer in a vice so that you can push the trigger group down against the weight of the hammer spring. The hammer must be in the decocked position before an attempt is made to remove it. The hammer hinges in two recesses, one on either side of the housing.

Once the hammer is pushed past these recesses, it can be removed.

We can now see the rails on which the sear rides.

Since the sear is pushed down against the top portion of these two rails by the full weight of the hammer spring, the top portion of the rails must be polished to remove any burs and non-uniformities. We do this with a ceramic stone.

Next we polish (again with a ceramic stone) the two engagements surfaces between the sear and hammer. Here's a view of the engagement surface on the sear.

And here's a side view of the two engagement surfaces.

Like with the stoning of any sear engagement surface, care must be taken to not introduce high spots by stoning the left and right sides non-uniformly. Don't remove any more material than is necessary to achieve a mirror smooth surface. The leading edge of the hammer surface can be rounded a little to spread the weight of the hammer weight over a larger radius.

Finally, I cut one loop off both the hammer and sear springs with a pair of wire snips.

The edges should be ground flat against the coils of the springs.

Reassemble and give it a go. I will be taking this SKS to the range this weekend to test whether the smoother trigger affects accuracy.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Knife porn

When I was in Texas in May, I visited “Burton’s Blades” in Rocksprings. He had on display a bunch of Anza Knives. These knives are built from “raw” carbon steel files, rough cut, ground, heat treated and honed. Elk horn or Maple grips are added. The effect is beautiful.

I bought two small knives from Burton’s Blades while in TX. Upon returning, I looked up Anza Knives and discovered that the builder is in my own home state. Naturally, I bought two more, bigger knives.

Here they all are for your viewing pleasure.

First the two small ones.

and the two larger ones.

And here's a picture of all of them together.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The hitchhiker's guide to Douglas Adams

Just finished reading [the first three books of] Douglas Adams' "The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". This is a compendium volume of five of his best known novels. I'd been immersed in the culture of Adams since college. "42", the ultimate answer, "Don't Panic" and "Mostly Harmless" were well known phrases in my lexicon, but I'd never read any of Adams' actual works.

Reading Adam's works is somewhat like reading the script to a Monty Python sketch. Characters may be brutal, but decorum must be maintained. Tea is a priority even if your ship is being destroyed. And like Monty Python sketches, not all story lines are necessarily tied together because that isn't necessarily the intention when the goal is highlighting the absurdness of certain human activities.

The five books should be read in sequence as they are sequels of each other and cannot be made sense of if one hasn't read the predecessors.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Many millions of years ago a race of hyperintelligent, pandimensional beings (whose physical manifestation our universe is that of white mice) got so fed up with the constant bickering about the meaning of life, that they built a huge, powerful computer, Deep Thought, to solve their problem once and for all. This gigantic computer was tasked with coming up with “The Answer”, the answer to “Life, the Universe, and Everything”. It would take Deep Thought seven and a half million years to come up with the answer. When it finally spoke, its answer was “42”. This, it claimed, was the answer to the “Ultimate Question” of “Life, the Universe, and Everything”. But when asked what the ultimate question was, Deep Thought said that it did not know, that it would fall upon the one that came after to calculate it.

So, this race of hyperintelligent, pandimensional beings contracted with some Magrathean engineers and scientists to build a more powerful computer, “Deep Thought II”, to calculate the “Ultimate question” to the “Ultimate Answer” to “Life, the Universe and Everything”. This computer was Earth. However, just before Deep Thought II was to speak the answer to the ultimate question, it was destroyed by a Vogon constructor fleet because it was in the way of a hyperspatial expressway.

The only survivors were:

  1. Tricia McMillan (aka Trillian) – who was now a guest of ex-president of the universe Zaphod Beeblebrox aboard his ship the “Heart of Gold”, which was powered by the Infinite Improbability drive.
  2. Ford Prefect – a denizen of a planet six hundred light-years away in the vicinity of Betelgeuse. He’d been stranded on earth for the past fifteen years while research entries for the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
  3. Arthur Dent – a denizen of Earth who was befriended by Ford Prefect and thus whisked off the planet just before it was destroyed, ironically just after his own house was destroyed by a village bulldozer making way for a highway bypass.
  4. Two white mice – these two were, nominally, Trillian’s pets but were in fact members of the race of hyperintelligent, pandimensional beings on Earth to observe the progress of Deep Thought II.

Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent ended up hitching a ride on a Vogon ship just before Earth was destroyed, but because the Vogons weren’t exactly a sociable race they were flung out of an airlock into space. Fortunately they were picked up, just in time, by Zaphod Beeblebrox.

The mice, seeing their investment destroyed figured that since Arthur Dent was a product of Deep Though II (aka Earth) his brain would contain hints to what the ultimate question was. Consequently, they wanted to remove and examine Arthur Dent’s brain. Naturally, Arthur was somewhat resistant to this. Escaping aboard Zaphod’s ship, the group went to seek a place to grab a bite, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe gets its name from being balanced in time just on the edge of the event when the universe comes to an end, drifting back and forth across this event horizon; quite a fireworks show, guaranteed to entertain diners.

In the meantime, the Vogons, not liking leaving a job unfinished, trying to finish off the destruction of earth and all its inhabitants, attacked The Heart of Gold. It appears, however, that the reason for the destruction of earth had more sinister roots. Gag Halfrunt, figuring that discovery of the question to the answer to the ultimate question would put his psychiatric business to an end, paid the Vogons to destroy earth and all its inhabitants.

After escaping the Vogon attack on his ship, Zaphod figured that consulting with the real ruler of the universe, Zarniwoop, would provide them with a hint as to the question to the ultimate answer. Marvin, the paranoid android claimed he could see the question in Arthur brainwaves but refused to say what it was. Zarniwoop turned out to be quite a disappointment. He didn’t believe in much, except his dog for example.

After escaping from Disaster Area’s (the loudest band in the universe) stunt ship, which was diving into the sun as part of Hotblack Desiato (Disaster Area’s front man) opening act, Arthur and Ford Prefect end up on earth of two million years before it was destroyed. They come into contact with two groups of people; the primitive ape men who Arthur had previous assumed (Dr. Darwin call your office) he was descended from and a group of Golgafrincham’s whose ship had crashed on earth. They were the vanguard of the evacuation of their planet which, at least as far as they were told, was doomed. In fact, they were the useless third (hairdressers, TV producers, insurance salesmen, personnel officers, security guards, public relations executives management consultants, lawyers and telephone sanitizers) rejected by the actual doers (the leaders and the makers) who stayed home and lived full, rich and happy lives until they were suddenly wiped out by a virulent disease contracted from a dirty telephone. When the “apemen” came into contact with the Golgafrinchams, and witnessed their “fire making committee” in action, became so depressed and desperate that they died out. Hence, Arthur realized, he and the rest of the erstwhile Earth's population was descended from the useless one third of the race of Golgafrincham.

Later, still in search of the question to the ultimate answer, Ford Prefect postulates that since Arthur is a product of Deep Thought II and “The Question” is imprinted in his brain patterns, that perhaps he can coax the answer out of Arthur (without removing his brain like the mice wanted to do) by having him draw Scrabble tiles out of a bag; the resulting sentence construct would be “The Question”. Arthur agrees and proceeds to draw tiles.


[Read that carefully and realize that the ultimate answer to Life, the Universe and Everything was 42.]

Ford Prefect's Sub-Etha Sens-O-Matic hasn't picked up a signal for years, so he and Arthur are well and truly stuck on earth of two million years ago. But Arthur may be finally discovering the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything. While talking with Mella and Agda, two of the surviving Golgafrinchams, about what happened (or will happen in two million years) to Earth, and not making much sense, Arthur stops worrying and throws his copy of the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" into the river.

Life, The Universe and Everything

On prehistoric Earth, one fine day, Arthur Dent is spectacularly insulted ("You're a jerk, a complete kneebiter") by Wowbagger. Wowbagger is immortal and doesn't instinctively know how to deal with his status, because he wasn't born with it but rather had is thrust upon him due to an unfortunate accident involving an irrational particle accelerator, a liquid lunch and a pair of rubber bands. His purpose, he determined, would be to insult the Universe and he would do it in alphabetical order. His next stop would be Arthur Philip Deodat.

That same day, Arthur and Ford Prefect spot a red couch moving across the landscape. Ford understands its significance (it's a time portal) and they both chase it down and jump on it ... emerging in the middle of the pitch at Lord's Cricket Ground, St. John's Wood, London, toward the end of the last Test Match of the Australian series in the year 198-, with England only needing twenty-eight runs to win.

When they arrive, you meet up with Slartibartfast (remember him? He won an award for designing Earth's Fjords). His ship, disguised as an Italian bistro, was parked just behind the bleachers. Ford Prefect points out an S.E.P. (Someone Else's Problem) just as an alien ship lands disgorging white robots who proceed to kill everyone in sight and leave after taking the Cricket trophy.

Slartibartfast urgently ushers Ford and Arthur to his ship which is powered by a "Bistromathic Drive". Dissimilar to the "Infinite Improbability" drive that powers Zaphod's "Heart of Gold", Bistromathics is a revolutionary new way of understanding the behavior of numbers ... in a restaurant. It operates on three non-absolute numbers, the first of which is the number of people for whom a table is reserved. It varies during the course of the first three phone calls to the restaurant and will finally bear no resemblance to the number of people who actually show up.

Inside the ship, Slartibastfast explains to Ford and Arthur what just happened, and what they must do. The white robots were foot soldiers of the planet Krikkit, a small planet surrounded by a huge dust cloud. The people of Krikkit were peaceloving people who, because the dust cloud obscured their view of the sky, believed they were completely alone in the universe. When a derelict spaceliner, the starship "Titanic" built as one of the first experimental ships to be powered by a prototype of the Infinite Improbability drive , crashed onto Krikkit, the people of Krikkit realized that they were not alone. They built a ship which took them beyond the Dust Cloud, into the starry, inky blackness of the infinite universe beyond. Upon seeing this infinite universe, the people of Krikkit decided that "It will have to go!". Overnight the whole population of Krikkit was transformed from being charming, delightful, intelligent, whimsical ordinary people, into charming, delightful, intelligent, whimsical manic xenophobes. The succeeding destruction, Slartibartfast told Ford and Arthur, was long and violent and came to be known as the Krikkit Wars.

The wars were finally won, and the people of Krikkit contained, when His High Judgmental Supremacy, Judiciary Pag, L.I.V.R. (the Learned, Impartial and Very Relaxed), Chairman of the Board of Judges at the Krikkit War Crimes Trials sentences them to be encased for perpetuity in a "slo-time" envelope, shut and closed by a lock placed on an asteroid slowly orbiting the envelope. The key was the symbol of the peaceful Galaxy (peaceful after the Krikkit Wars), the Wikkit Gate. The "slo-time" envelope would deflect all light and escape from it was impossible. It was intended to slow down the progress of time on Krikkit, thus rendering the people of Krikkit harmless until the end of the universe, when they would reemerge and continue on, alone.

The key consists of three vertical pillars, connected at the top by two bails. The pieces were scattered.

When the envelope was put into place, a missing Krikkit warship, presumed destroyed but actually only missing, remained outside the envelope. The Krikkiters aboard this ship zoomed around the galaxy retrieving the five pieces of the key.

  1. The Steel Pillar -- one of Marvin the paranoid Android's legs,
  2. The Plastic Pillar -- the royal scepter of some or other (I forgot the name) minor deity,
  3. The Wooden Pillar -- the reconstituted ashes of a cricket stump burnt in Melborne, Australia, in 1882, to signify the death of English Cricket,
  4. The Silver Bail -- part of A Rory, a small silver thing set on a large black base, the award for The Most Gratuitous use of the word Belgium in a Serious Screenplay.
  5. The Golden Bail -- the heart of The Infinite Improbability Drive aboard Zaphod's ship, The Heart of Gold.
Slartibartfast explained that they must proceed to Krikkit and prevent the opening of the lock and stop the Krikkiters from activating the ultimate weapon that would destroy the universe.

After reconstituting the key and unlocking the slo-time envelope, the Krikketer's proceeded with their plan to destroy the universe. They'd invented (or thought they had) a small bomb that was actually a junction box in hyperspace that when activated would connect the heart of every major sun, thus turning the entire universe into a hyperstatial supernova.

However, with Trillian's shoulder to cry on, they apparently had a change of faith with regards to the whole universe destruction thing.

Trillian told them a story. Hactar, a supercomputer, was contracted by the super violent race Silastic Armorfiends of Striterax to built the ultimate weapon: a junction box in hyperspace that when activated would connect the heart of every major sun, thus turning the entire universe into a hyperstatial supernova. Hactar designed in a flaw hoping that, upon sober reflection, no one would use the bomb. The Silastic Armorfiends disagreed and pulverized the computer. Hactar was build like a brain; each and every cellular particle carried the pattern of the whole. Hactar ended up as the impenetrable dust cloud around the planet Krikket. He felt bad about not fulfilling his function by introducing the flaw in the ultimate weapon he built for the Silastic Armorfiends and nurtured the Krikketers in their xenophobic binge of destruction, thus allowing Hactar to fulfill his function by proxy. And now his plans were foiled again.

Arthur returned to Earth, to bring back the ashes of the burned cricket stump. Standing on the pitch at Lord's Cricket Ground, he found a small red ball in his bag and had an urge to bowl it at a White Robot that miraculously appear in front of the wicket. [The little red ball was another bomb planted there by Hactar while he and Trillian were in the dust cloud over Krikkit] While bowling, he was distracted and discovered that he could fly if he forgot to hit the ground while falling. The bomb, which would have been activated had the White Krikkit Robot hit it with his club, sailed harmlessly off into space.

Arthur, having saved the universe twice in one day and seeking a quiet place was dropped off on Krikkit, which had by then returned to being an idyllic place, where he pursued his desire to learn how to fly more effectively and to talk with the birds. To his astonishment he realized that most of what birds talk about was exceedingly boring, having to do with wingspans, weight-to-power ratios, etc. He "settled" for living on the ground.

The game of Cricket, on Earth, is a echo of the memory of the Krikkit wars, a White Robot hitting a little red ball being one of the most heinous images to the rest of the galaxy. One has to wonder what Douglas Adams thought of the game of Cricket. :-)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Learned a new word today.

The word is canardly. The word's normal usage can be explained by the following, hypothetical, exchange.

Person 1: "That your dog?"
Person 2: "Yeah, that's my canardly."
Person 1: "Canardly? What kind is it?"
Person 2: "I don't know. It's so mixed up, I can hardly tell."

Apparently, the wild canardly (cunardly) has discovered in Antarctica. :-)

Thanks to Mildred Armstrong Kalish for introducing me to the word.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Justifying violence

Seems the chicken-shit, yellow-bellied, cowardly ALF members are at it again. Over the weekend, they firebombed a UCSC professor's house, while he and his children were inside, and another professor's car.

It's the same story. He's "cutting up animals" in his lab. Dipshits! He's doing primary research into cell growth and development. You know? Research that is directly applicable to cancer prevention?

And to make matters worse, their chicken-shit spokesman had this to say:

Spokesman Dr. Jerry Vlasak showed no remorse for the family or children whose home was targeted. [...] Vlasak said often the people responsible for these types of acts notify his group eventually. “We certainly understand where these people are coming from,” he said. ”We understand their frustration. We understand why they are doing that sort of thing.”

Really? So if I’m frustrated I’m justified to use violence? Let’s see, I’m frustrated at all the bums and pan-handlers on the mall in Santa Cruz, and wish the police would cart them off to San Francisco. Am I justified to firebomb them? I’m frustrated with the friggin’ tree huggers and bark munchers up in the trees near the science buildings at UCSC. Can I start shooting them down out of frustration?

And here he's quoted as saying:

Vlasak said the bombers likely were not trying to hurt Feldheim, but were instead "trying to send a message to this guy, who won't listen to reason, that if he doesn't stop hurting animals, more drastic measures will be taken ... it's certainly not an initial tactic, but a tactic of last resort."

Really? Good thing the Santa Cruz police aren't treating this as a "harmless message", but are treating this as attempted homicide. Sorry folks, someone attempts to throw a Molotov cocktail at my house and I shoot them dead, no jury would convict me.

Dr. Feldheim writes:

I would like to see the citizens of Santa Cruz and our elected officials (including the mayor) step up and condemn this kind of violence.

Dr. Feldheim. I am EXTREMELY, Red-Curtain-Of-Blood (tm), angry about what happened to you. If it was up to me, I’d be rounding up all ALF members and especially that Vlasak ass, but to expect the citizens of Santa Cruz, who by and large have their heads up their collective asses and have a deficit of logical thinking ability, to come to your defense .... well, don’t hold your breath.

But, on the bright side, the good doctor now has all the justification, even for Santa Cruz, to apply for a carry permit and to start carrying. But to be fair, I know a few Santa Cruz cops ... and they feel just as frustrated by being hamstrung by the socialist city council as I am. And not all Santa Cruz residents are left-leaning, pantywaists.

COME ON SANTA CRUZ. If you condone this behavior, you are no better than those who harbor, aid and abet homicidal criminals.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Don't use guns for self-defense .... you could get hurt.

Fred had me giggling, as usual. The money quote:

What is true of intruders is that they don’t want a firefight. When you rack a round into the chamber of a semi-auto, the sound is unmistakable and means only one thing: Someone is preparing to fire. You have to want a television very badly to go against someone who audibly is planning to kill you and audibly has the means.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Harbor Freight can be so sexy

So there I was leafing through the recent Harbor Freight catalog. The page was turned to this item.

My wife leans over, looks at the page, and says: “I didn’t know they make those things out of concrete”.

You sexy thing you. ;-)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My senator speaks to me

Got this in my spam filter from the esteemed Senator Boxer:

Dear Friend:

As a result of the drought declaration by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, many Californians will soon likely face mandatory conservation orders. In fact, many water districts and cities have already asked for voluntary measures.

... blah blah blah ...

Because of global climate change, our weather is changing each year. While we can hope for wetter years in the future, it is important that we begin to plan for dryer years. I hope that you will start saving water today.


Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

Emphasis is mine own. I’m speechless.

By her brilliant logic, “climate changing” --> “weather changes”. Gee. Whodathunkit?

In her next epistle, she will surely impart the further wisdom that “sun setting” --> “cooler temperatures”

I can’t wait ......

As for those “mandatory conservation orders” ..... she can kiss my big hairy bean bag. Instead of socialistic threats, why not allow the free market to rule? Eh? You know, allow the unit price of water to rise, when demand exceeds supply? Free market choices? I guarantee you that individuals will make choices to balance the demand. But, I can hear it now: "The pore and stavin' blah blah blah ....".

Indeed, I should SAVE some water. [Pricing out a 40,000 gallon underground tank]

Friday, June 13, 2008

Cult of the Colt porn

I recently bought an abused series 70 Colt. It was pitted along both sides of the frame and slide, the blueing was seriously compromised and the previous owner had welded in a garish front sight. Yuck.

I sent the gun to Hank Fleming in Austin TX asking him to remove the front sight, cut a dovetail, install “traditional” white-dot front and rear sights and re-blue the thing.

It came back on Tuesday. Wonderful work.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

BEING someone or DOING something?

"Do you want to BE someone or do you want to DO something?" he asked. I would want to know "What is the relative cost of each".

Just finished reading "Boyd: The fighter pilot who changed the art of War" by Robert Coram.

John Boyd was born in 1927 and lost his father early in life. His sister suffered from polio and his mother raised the family by herself. His mother instilled in him the lesson that one should never share private family matters with anyone outside of the family. Perhaps because of the combination of growing up without a father, an inward looking perspective on problems life throws at you, and a desire to prove himself to his home town, his life took a very determined and driven path.

Though he missed out on major combat, first WW-II and then later Korea, he became a superb fighter pilot. Known as "40 second Boyd" he had a standing offer to any pilot. Starting from an inferior, defensive position, he would turn the tables on his opponent, moving to a superior, offensive position, in 40 seconds or less or else he would pay his opponent some money. He never had to pay up. It was during this time, thinking about quantitative measures and comparisons of fighter maneuverability, that he started on his incredibly creative and valuable contribution to fighter aviation and combat in general.

He was undoubtedly a creative genius and determined to get his way, which was usually right. His contributions include
  1. Development of the E-M (Energy-Maneuverability) theory, that allowed the quantification and comparison of fighter airplane maneuverability and dynamics.
  2. Design of the F-15 (which he hated for being gold-plated) and later a lightweight fighter, that became the F-16.
  3. Research into theories of creativity -- Destruction and creation.
  4. Maneuver warfare -- Boyd developed his brief title "Patterns of Conflict" over time. Taking liberally from Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" and from various military engagements spanning Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great and the Wehrmacht's "Blitzkreig", Boyd realized that centralized warfare and decision making are inferior to distributed decision making. Commanders should lead from the front, disseminate the overarching schwerpunkt and command lightly by fingerspitzengefuhl but leave the tactical decision making to sub-commanders in the field.
  5. The OODA loop -- get inside the decision making loop of your opponent, get inside his mind, and you get to control your opponent's thinking and behavior.
  6. Weapons systems procurement reform and careerism.
He was also a gifted leader. During the Vietnam War he was commissioned to command a "spook base" in Thailand plagued by morale and racial problems. During his commission he completely turned it around, all the while maintaining good relations with the local Thais on whom the success of the base depended.

Though lacking in tact and with an abundance of arrogance, aggressiveness and drive, he progressed to full Colonel in the Air Force before he "retired". Ironically, his arguably most valuable contributions to aviation and warfare, were made, from an office in the Pentagon, after he retired from the Air Force. Even though his Air Force pension was minuscule ($1300/month) he refused to be a paid consultant at the Pentagon. Pentagon rules however required that he be paid no less than once during any two week period, so he relented to accepting a pittance of a salary.

During this time, he took on the establishment as, arguably, the ringleader of the "reform movement". His experience with the B-1 bomber convinced him that the weapons development and procurement process was seriously broken. Weapons systems often were not what was needed, and budgeting was inaccurate and wishful, thus leaving US armed forces in a position of unpreparedness. For example, when development started on the B-1, the projected costs were around $20M per copy. By the time Reagan approved the bomber and production started, the costs where $260M per copy.

Later, Boyd developed his brief on maneuver warfare and tried to get the Air Force to adopt some of the techniques but was blocked time and again by doctrinaire generals. Only the Marine Corp adopted some of his ideas to great success.

John Boyd had six close friends, his acolytes. They all suffered through "the pain", Boyd's daily phone calls, usually late at night or early morning, which lasted for hours at a time. Boyd would debate or discuss his latest breakthroughs or read whole passages from books he was reading on topics he was researching. All proteges were asked the "Do you want to BE someone or do you want to DO something" question. Boyd considered careerism to be anathema and was completely unconcerned about rank or title or compensation. He clearly wanted to contribute to his country, to make a difference; to DO something.

But a protege who was asked this question never responded with "At what cost?"

After reading this book, I'm left with a profound sadness concerning the life of the people AROUND John Boyd. He fathered five children, but neglected them profoundly. His first son suffered from polio and rather than move to Florida, as his wife had frequently requested so that Stephen could enjoy his one pleasure, the beach, Boyd insisted that his family live in a tiny basement apartment in a low-class neighborhood near the Pentagon. He didn't seem to spend a lot of time with his family, so absorbed was he in his work.

One could argue that Boyd didn't have the financial resources to take better care of his family. But, so determined was he to DO something that he never cared whether his work was attributed to him. He thus never really benefited from his work. Though he constantly railed against careerism at the Pentagon, one has to wonder whether the families of the so-called "perfumed princes" (as he referred to high ranking officers primarily interested in climbing the ladder) suffered as much as Boyd's family did as a result of their choices.

Having a family is a choice and once made assumes that one dedicates time and energy to the betterment of said family members. Neglecting ones duty of the betterment of ones family raises the question of the original choice. Observing how Boyd "hosed" his various opponents at the Pentagon leads one to the conclusion that he meticulously planned every move of his strategy, every choice. So one is left to conclude that Boyd chose to neglect his family.

I read a review of the above mentioned book on Amazon. The reviewer "publius_1788" wrote:
I'm not sure I would want to work for him or with him, and I certainly would not want to be one of his children, but America needs more like him.
Without a doubt, Boyd's contributions to reforming military decision making and war making are essential to America's strength. His personal sacrifice in these endeavors is honorable and beyond compare. Requiring the unchosen sacrifice of others is, however, contemptible.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Brotherly love in the new South Africa

I guess it's not what the ANC promised. On the other hand, I bet if it happened here, illegal Mexicans would think twice about sneaking across the border.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

West Texas pig hunting

Spent the week hunting feral hogs on a deer lease ranch in west Texas near the town of Rocksprings. I love west Texas, and west Texans.

The people in the small towns of west Texas, like Rocksprings and Junction, are genuine and sincere, and unfailingly friendly and courteous. I was raised, in South Africa, to be polite, to say “please” and “thank you”, to refer to adults and strangers as “sir” and “madam”. Living in the “modern world” (such as it is) such courtesy is not emphasized and it seems one who practices such courtesy is regarded as some kind of throwback. Interacting with folks in west Texas reminded me of my upbringing, and I was transferred back to the place of my upbringing. I almost didn’t want to come back home.

Being so far away from the centers of "civilizations" with no major airline flight paths over the region (I didn't hear a single commercial jet fly overhead for the three days I was there), and with nothing to listen to at night but the wind, the song of the Whippoorwills and one's heart beat, and with nothing to look at but the lightning bugs and the bright stars overhead, must addle peoples' minds. [Note: If it's not obvious, I'm being facetious here] At a hamburger restaurant in Rocksprings, a budding poet placed the following sign on the wall [or something to that effect; I'm going from memory]

This is not a fast food restaurant. We go to great lengths to serve you the best food. If it arrives quickly, that is a bonus but not a priority. You are now south of the tension line. So sit, relax, stay a while and allow us to prepare your meal in the best possible way we can.

Ah ... nothing to listen to at night but the wind, the song of the Whippoorwills and one's heart beat, and with nothing to look at but the lightning bugs and the bright stars overhead. Sitting in a deer blind at 5am, waiting for the sun to rise, the tensions of my rat-race existence seemed distant and unimportant; the priorities of the “modern world” dropped WAY DOWN the stack. I haven’t slept so well in a long time ..... yes, in the deer blinds even.

And then the sun comes up.

There are Whitetail deer, Axis deer, Aoudads, turkeys and of course lots of feral pigs. All these animals passed by the blinds I was sitting in, but I wasn't interesting in hunting them. I was intent on shooting pigs only.

A small herd of Axis deer: a large buck, a young buck, two does and two fawn.

A troika of Whitetail deer.

But, when you're not hunting deer, at least one can take pictures of them through one's gun sights.

125yds ... could place the shot pretty much anywhere I choose.

From inside the bunker, looking out over the DMZ.

But eventually, patience pays off and the "target" passes by in front of one's blind. In this case a a red pig, weighing about 120lbs, passed by the feeder about 225yds from the blind I was sitting in. A single shot right through the shoulders dropped him like a rock. Nice clean entry but a nasty looking exit wound. The 200gr Sierra HPBT bullet must have tumbled.

On one of the days I was there, another piggy, a 150 pounder, was trapped in the ranch's hog trap, a huge fenced area about 30’x100’. It was my “job” to finish him off, to climb into the pen and face him off manno-a-manno. Two go in, one comes out. One has to admire the “never give up” attitude of the feral hog. He charged me. He was gonna knock me on my ass and run back out through the gate. One 240gr Hornady XTP/HP bullet from a Freedom Arms mod. 83 right between the eyes dropped him right in front of me. The poor guy had a tick attached to his eyelid.

Though clearly dead, since the bullet passed through the pig's head, the pig continued to twitched and jerk. I shot it again to the side of head, taking most of its face off. One has to respect the power of a 240gr XTP/HP bullet travelling at close to 1900fps.

I saved the piggy's tusks, each about 4" long. Thinking about it later, things could have turned out quite badly had I missed the pig and he hit me. The tusks could have ripped into my leg, leading to obvious bacterial infection and god knows what kind of other piggy AIDS in the pig's blood. I guess I didn't think about the possible consequences of missing the pig, because I wasn't planning to miss.

Am I embarrassed to say I love hunting and killing pigs? Uhhh ..... nope. It's a thrill.

Return airplane ticket to Austin, TX: $235
Two meat BBQ plate at Buster's BBQ in Austin: $9.35
Watching one of your hunting buddies chasing after a racoon with a .45, emptying the magazine in the process: priceless.

And, no, I didn't bring any of the piggy meat back with me. However, west Texas buzzards are eating well this week.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

400 Corbon vs. 10mm -- conclusions

In this post, we discussed the 400 Corbon round. Since then I worked up [what I consider] maximum loads around 155gr and 180gr bullets and performed apples-to-apples comparisons of muzzle velocity. In both cases, the powder used was Alliant Power Pistol. Here's some powder weight vs. muzzle velocity graph.

First, a Hornady 155gr XTP/HP bullet and Speer 155gr JHP-GD bullet.

Second, a Winchester 180gr JHP bullet.

We can see that for all powder weights, a bullet launched out of a 400 Corbon will be about 100fps slower than when launched out of a 10mm cartridge. This is because the 400 Corbon has a larger effective volume than a 10mm cartridge and hence the chamber pressure is lower for any given powder weight.

However, one can achieve equivalent ballistics from the 400 Corbon as from the 10mm.

So, in conclusion, the 400 Corbon is at least as good a round as a 10mm with the addition of the following advantages:

  1. An existing 45 ACP firearm can be readily converted to shoot 400 Corbon by the mere drop-in installation of a barrel. The same cannot be said for 10mm as the conversion to fire 10mm is more complex, requiring, at a minimum, a different breech face, magazines and barrel.
  2. For the handloader, 400 Corbon brass is cheaper and more readily available than 10mm brass -- one merely necks down 45 ACP brass.
  3. A bottle-necked cartridge (e.g. 400 Corbon) feeds more reliably than a straight-necked cartridge (e.g. 10mm).

Springtime in the CA outback

Spring hiking is the way to go. Springtime really is a wonderful time in the CA outback. The azure blue skies, the green hillsides covered in purple, yellow and orange flowers, the critters out looking for "romance" ....... lovely.

Monday, February 11, 2008

On War: Strategy and Spirit

Just started reading ”Thunder Below!” by Admiral Eugene Fluckey.

Captain Fluckey revolutionized submarine warfare during WW-II by employing a somewhat controversial strategy. At a time when submarines were supposed to stay submerged and wait for the enemy to come to them, he hunted on the surface, taking advantage of superior speed.

Luck is where you find it—but to find it you have to look for it. [...] There’s a big ocean out there. I search it on the surface with our high periscope up and a wide, sweeping zig plan, using as high a speed as our fuel supply will allow. Now, I realize that we may be sighted, depth charged and bombed more often, but we’ll find a helluva lot more targets.

Following the USS Barb’s 8th war patrol, with Fluckey in [his first] command, the crew spent two weeks in Pearl. At a party they overheard a woman’s voice.

From the adjacent group, I heard a strident female voice ring out. “Rig in your jib, before I deck you with a belaying pin!”
I had to meet this old salt. Tapping Chief Frank Starks on the shoulder, I asked, “Who is she?”
“Mother Reilly, captain. Would you like to be introduced?”
A few minutes later, I had taken her away from the boys. “Mother Reilly, I have to leave shortly, but I must know where you picked up such salty language.”
“Sure, skipper, but first I want to tell you what a wonderful crew you have—they think the world of you. [...] As for me, I am married to the sea. My husband was skipper of the Empress of Asia, lost when the Japanese sank her. I then shipped out as a stewardess on the Murmansk run. Caught German torpedoes and sank twice. The last time I was picked up by a tin-can—my leg and ankle were broken. I have to use a cane because my leg is not quite right.
“What are you doing now?”
“Sitting on my backside waiting for a berth. They stopped letting women serve aboard in the Atlantic, so I came out here. Some women are on runs to Australia. Cane and all, I’m ready. As long as there’s an American flag flying over the waves, you can bet your bloody seaboots Old Reilly will be in there pitching.

Brought tears to me eyes.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Truth about Muhammad

Just finished reading The Truth about Muhammad: Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion by Robert Spencer.

The author spends the first nine chapters going over Muhammad's life and the development of Islam: the last chapter is dedicated to the legacy of Muhammad and what it means for the west.

I’d thought that the word prophet means someone who foretells the future, but as used in the context of Muhammad it means a spokesmen for God. The whole development of Islam consisted of Muhammad resolving issues, sometimes even compromising and then later reversing himself, by means of “revelations” from Allah. Now, for an atheist like me, a “revelation from Allah” is another way of saying “pulling shit out of your ass to justify your agenda”. And that seems to be how Islam developed.

Now that in and of itself wouldn’t be so bad, if Muhammad is to be viewed as an apostle who merely interpreted the word of God, and hence the Quran should be taken as a historical narrative. But unfortunately, adherents of Islam regard Muhammad as the perfect example of righteousness, to be emulated. And therein lies the problem for the west. I don’t really care how Muslims view themselves and their relationship to their God. However, it’s their relationship to the rest of the world that’s a concern. For example,

  1. apostates should be put to death
  2. “people of the scriptures” (i.e. Jews and Christians) should be allowed to convert to Islam, or be protected by “dhimmah”, i.e. second-class status and subjugation.
  3. other non-believers must covert to Islam.
Now lots has been made of the true meaning of Islam and that the extremists are just that, on the fringes and extremes. But after reading this book, I can’t see how one can be an adherent of Islam and go contrary to the example set by its prophet. Chief among these is the fundamental and complete intolerance of other religions.

I highly recommend this book.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

400 Corbon: A cheap man's 10mm

While talking with a friend about the ballistics I was achieving with a super-charged 45ACP load he suggested I take a look at 10mm loads. Searching the literature for 10mm will tell you it's the parent of the 40S&W after being deemed "too powerful".

The 10mm round is interesting in that case capacity is similar to that of the 45ACP but the bullet diameter is smaller (0.400" vs. 0.452"). Consequently, one should be able to build loads with lighter bullets pushed to higher velocities than what one could normally do with 45ACP loads. For example, it would be difficult to build a 45ACP load around a bullet lighter than 185gr.

Now, the availability of new 10mm handguns here in CA is limited, due to the "approved handgun list"; essentially, one is limited to a Glock 20 or 29, and a Kimber Eclipse Custom II or Stainless Target II. But, assuming one already has a handgun chambered in 45ACP and one doesn't wish to invest in another handgun just to experiment with 40 calibre bullets, the 400 Corbon round comes to the rescue.

The 400 Corbon is a now defunct wildcard round. The round uses 0.400" diameter bullets in a necked down 45ACP case. The advantage of a 400 Corbon round over a 10mm round is that with only a barrel change, an existing handgun chambered for 45ACP can be used.

My first experiment with the 400 Corbon was with my existing Glock 21. I ordered a 400 Corbon barrel from EFK Firedragon.

The barrel dropped in with only one minor modification. The Firedragon barrel was a tad too thick in the barrel bushing area and hence the slide would not lock into battery completely.

However, about 10 minutes with 200 grit sandpaper to the first 1" of the barrel from the muzzle, fixed that problem right up.

400 Corbon brass can be made by running 45ACP cases through a 400 Corbon full-length resizing die (and trimming to the correct length, of course). Here, from left to right, is a 45ACP case, a 400 Corbon case and a 10mm case.

Now, for a performance comparison between 400 Corbon and 10mm, I used an additional Kimber Eclipse II chambered in 10mm. I worked up two progressive sequences:
  • 10mm -- 0.400" Speer 155gr JHP GoldDot bullets atop Alliant Power Pistol powder; weight varied from 8.0gr to 10.1gr in 0.3gr increments.
  • 400 Corbon -- 0.400" Hornady 155gr XTP/HP atop Alliant Power Pistol powder; weight varied from 8.0gr to 10.7gr in 0.3gr increments.
Load data for the 400 Corbon is not readily available, so I was being conservative on the upper powder limit. However, since the 400 Corbon case has a greater capacity than the 10mm case (25.0gr of water weight for the 400 Corbon as compared to 23.7gr of water weight for the 10mm) I felt safe to use a greater upper powder limit for the 400 Corbon than the 10mm. Both sets were built to the same OAL; 1.230".

The above two sequences where then shot through a Chrony and the velocities plotted.

As can the seen, the graph of velocity vs. powder weight of the 10mm is "higher" than that of the 400 Corbon. This implies that the 10mm chamber pressure is higher at any particular powder weight. The obvious reason for the difference in chamber pressures, is that the 400 Corbon case has a larger usable capacity than the 10mm case. The 400 Corbon case is shorter, but both cases have roughly the same capacity. This means that when one builds the two rounds to the same OAL, the bullet is seated further out in the case of the 400 Corbon round. Consequently, the usable capacity is larger.

There are two other potential reasons for the difference in chamber pressures.
  1. I used two different bullet types; a Hornady XTP/HP in one case and a Speer GoldDot in the other. The two bullet types, though of the same weight, could result in slightly different chamber pressures.
  2. The higher case capacity of the 400 Corbon case may be accounting for the lower chamber pressure. This also implies that the 400 Corbon load has more "head room".
The next experiment to try will be built the two progressive sequences using identical bullets. But the results are promising and point to the 400 Corbon being capable of higher safe velocities with the same bullet.