- "BIG Freakin’ Cartridge Test 003: Vympel .223 Remington Golden Tiger 55gr FMJ, 14.5″ Barrel, and Accuracy"--The Firearms Blog. As would be expected for cheap, steel cased ammo, velocity (and thus, accuracy) was all over the place. The author also experienced cycling issues in a mid-length gas system, with low gas so it was not fully cycling the bolt and, thus, failing to engage the bolt hold open.
- A crime of opportunity. "Open Carry Firearm Stolen In North Carolina Walmart"--Bearing Arms. The facts are very sketchy--basically, a man grabbed a gun out of the holster of someone open-carrying and ran off with it.
- "Review: Springfield Armory XD-E"--Shooting Illustrated. The author begins: "The defining feature of the Springfield Armory XD-E is ... the DA/SA hammer-fired system that signals a return to an action often overshadowed by modern striker-fired defensive pistols." A couple advantages of the DA/SA system mentioned by the author are (1) the long double action pull acts as an extra safety when the weapon is deployed (recognizing that while we always say to keep your finger off the trigger, in the real world, it will happen that the finger will be rested on the trigger), and (2) added safety when using appendix carry.
- "Three 'All-Around' Rifle Cartridges"--All Outdoor. Let me just warn you from the get-go that this is a fluff piece merely setting out a couple of the author's personal anecdotes about deer hunting. Oh, and the author's recommendations as to "all-around" cartridges are (surprise! not) the .30-06, .270, and .30-30.
I have actually put some thought into "all round" cartridges recently--that is, cartridges that are useful for a wide spectrum of purposes or game, and readily available--because my oldest son and I have been discussing what would be a good hunting rifle caliber for him, and I agree that the .30-06 and the .270 would make good all-round rifles. The .30-06 has a long-history of a "do-everything" cartridge, largely because it can be loaded down to shooting low recoil, light weight loads good for plinking or small game, or hand-loaded to nearly magnum power. While its long range accuracy is less than other calibers popular for long-range shooting, it is more than accurate enough within 700 or 800 yards. In addition, .30-06 rifles and ammunition are plentiful. Much of the same applies to the .270.
Notwithstanding all the foregoing, I recommended to my son that he look at the .308. And the reason for this is that while it is less powerful than the .30-06, it is still fairly close in its capabilities; it is slightly better in the accuracy department; it can use most of the same range of bullets as the .30-06; and you can find rifles using it that employ a short-action, which makes it quicker and handier than the .30-06. The advantages of the .308 are not so great that I would replace a .30-06 with a .308, but if I was buying a new all-round rifle, it would be a short-action .308. And I think a lot of people recognize this, as the popularity of the round seems to increase each year. In fact, the article to which I cited notes something critical (although I'm not sure the author recognized the significance):
With my curiosity stirred up, I went to the owner of the gun store and asked why there were so many 30-06 and 270 on the shelf. He explained that he gets more 30-06 and 270 used rifles than anything else. Rarely will he get a 308 Winchester. When he does get one, it sells quick.
The author seems to relate this anecdote as evidence that .30-06 and .270 rifles are more common; I see it as an indication that .308 rifles are more highly valued than .30-06 and .270 rifles.
- "CRIME LAB: Myths & Misconceptions"--Guns & Ammo. The author relates some misconceptions he had concerning bullets, ballistics, and wounding, which were quickly dispelled after he began working in a crime lab. First, that bullets follow a straight trajectory through a target:
Hitting any target can upset the artificial stability imparted to a bullet by rifling. If the bullet starts to yaw, it can change direction. ...
... We worked an officer-involved shooting where a policeman made an essentially level shot on an armed assailant with a .357 Magnum hollowpoint. Having expended most of its velocity in the bad guy’s chest, the bullet exited and struck a wall about four feet behind the suspect. The pockmark on the wall was close to seven feet off the floor even though the exit point on the suspect was less than five feet from the floor. If one assumes that bullets always travel in a perfectly straight line, the officer would have been lying under the floorboards shooting up, something that both civilian witnesses and the officers involved said didn’t happen.
I often wish that some pundits making claims about a certain historical shooting in 1963 would take this very common behavior of bullets more seriously.
Second, that doctors generally remove the bullet from a shooting victim:
Best medical practice is to fix important bodily bits that the bullet damaged. If the bullet is not going anywhere, leave it and worry about the leaks. Needlessly going after the bullet can increase blood loss and complicate recovery.
And there is no issue of lead poisoning: the body secretes a substance around the bullet to stop toxic materials from the bullet.
The third myth had to do with caliber and lethality:
I quickly learned that “what hits you” gets trumped by “where it hits you” as the major factor in lethality. I did a survey in 1972 of about a decade’s worth of recovered autopsy bullets. I found that .22-caliber and .38-caliber revolver bullets were almost equally represented and made up about 80 percent of the sample. Everything else fell in the remaining 20 percent. Granted, some people died of penetrating gunshot wounds where no bullet was recovered, but the study was still an eye-opener in that there were as many .22s as .38s in the sample.
- "More Chicago gangs arming themselves with rifles as alliances spread conflict"--Chicago Sun Times. The two primary gangs mentioned in the article are the Saints and La Razas--both Hispanic gangs (the article specifically states that the Saints gang had grown because of an influx of Mexican immigrants). Although these gangs started the trend toward using rifle-caliber weapons, other gangs are mentioned in the article as turning to rifles: the Two-Sixes and the Satan Disciples. The article also mentions that La Razas and the Satan Disciples may have formed an alliance. Essentially, the article describes some of the specific attacks made using rifle-caliber weapons, the gradual escalation or increase in using such weapons, and the changing tactics in using vehicles to scout out and attack targets:
As the neighborhood became more Mexican, people began referring to them as Latin Saints. They pioneered the use of “rammers,” large and often barely legal SUVs kept hidden from police until they were brought out and used to crash into other gang members.
They were among the first to take up rifles in the current conflict.
* * *
Fewer gang members stand outside traditional hangouts, throwing bottles, rocks and gang signs and harassing passing motorists. With fewer obvious targets, gangs have turned to cars and vans, often stolen, to chase down and shoot rivals.
* * *
Rifles are not easy to conceal, so gangs have used a car, or van or SUV — often stolen — in nearly every rifle shooting. They’ve used SUVs driven by a woman with the shooter lying down in the back seat. They’ve used scout cars to find targets. Police have found stolen cars parked with a gallon of gas stashed in the back seat so it’s easy to torch after being used in a shooting.
My take away is that these Latin gangs are adopting the tactics of the cartels in Mexico, although they are mostly just targeting one another. In any event, it is important to keep in mind that the number of rifle caliber weapons is still very small. The article describes whole gangs as having access to only a couple or few rifle-caliber weapons at a time.
I want to also address the description of the weapons. Although the author of the article uses terms like "military-style" or "AK-style" to describe the weapons, the actual quotes from law enforcement are "military assault rifles" or "weapons of war." I'm going to take the law enforcement at their word that these are military weapons--i.e., selective fire weapons--rather than that the police may have misspoke or misrepresented the types of weapons being used (they would never do that, right?). There are a couple implications to this. First, that these gangs are somehow obtaining these weapons directly or indirectly from government sources since there would be no civilian source for select fire weapons. Second, the fact that these gangs can obtain NFA weapons in Chicago, with its strict gun laws, means that it is impossible for either national or local laws to prevent criminals from obtaining firearms. That is, gun control laws are merely another form of security theater.
- Brr. "Bundle up! Life-threatening bitter cold weather takes hold of northern US with record-breaking arctic blast bringing temperatures as low as 37 below zero"--Daily Mail. Some new low records being set, including International Falls, Minnesota (-37 F, breaking old record of -32 F set in 1924).
- True colors: "Alcohol makes people more racist and homophobic by acting as an 'igniter' to prejudice"--Daily Mail. I thought alcohol merely reduced inhibitions. The article also mentions that there is some researcher that shows that smoking marijuana actually causes people to commit violence. I take this as meaning that it is not just a reduction of inhibitions, but actually motivating violence.
- This is why there can never be a productive dialogue about race and racism:
The definition of racism that this writer finds the most useful is prejudice + power. This is why you hear people say things like Black people can’t be racist⎯ it is not to say people of color cannot have prejudices, but in most cases we lack the institutional privilege or power for those prejudices to negatively affect White people outside of hurt feelings. A Black person’s prejudice cannot impede on a white person’s standing in society, whereas racism is institutional and historical, affecting people’s income job opportunities and overall ability to just exist in society without being discriminated against. People of color are inherently disadvantaged by racism, and though that racism is impacted by people’s personal (racist) opinions it is an overall insidious system that functions without most (white) people’s knowledge or conscious encouragement.
- "Australians Applaud the 'Erosion of Religious Liberty' as Same-Sex Marriage Becomes Law"--PJ Media. This article discusses the passage by the Australian parliament of a law legalizing same-sex marriage (SSM), and how the parliament had rejected any protections for religious objectors, including proposed amendments that would have exempted churches and pastors from having to perform SSM weddings. (It is not clear from the article whether this applies to pastors or churches that make themselves generally available to the public for a fee, or all pastors and churches). The author makes some excellent points:
The religious freedom issue is contentious across the English-speaking world. In September, the speaker of the British House of Commons declared that same-sex marriage won't be "proper" until churches are unable to refuse to host same-sex weddings. In February, an LGBT group in Ohio announced plans to invade church spaces and try to force church buildings to host same-sex weddings, against their sincerely-held convictions.
* * *
The Bible clearly speaks against homosexual activity, and many brave Christians who struggle with same-sex attraction have embraced lives of celibacy to stay faithful to God. Some traditional Christians have even criticized Christians who embrace same-sex marriage as endorsing a separate religion.
"I completely understand – in an altogether different way – those liberal, progressive Christians who have no interest in protecting their traditional brothers and sisters who hold different convictions than they do," wrote Stephen McAlpine, an Australian essayist and lead pastor of Providence Church Midland.
"I completely understand that underneath that Christian exterior, there’s pretty much a secular heart beating in time with whatever the culture decides," McAlpine charged. "None will bat an eyelid or raise a voice for the sake of their brothers and sisters."
Then the Australian pastor presented the chasm between Christians on this issue: "I completely understand that orthodox Christianity and its progressive iteration are basically different religions. They hold diametrically opposite viewpoints on human origins and endings, sexual ethics, biblical authority, the centrality of the cross, the means of grace and how one is justified before a holy God, if God even is holy, or even is God. Who even knows?"
Sadly, his claims are partially true, especially when it comes to same-sex marriage.
Even the nation's attorney general, George Brandis, also a leader in Australia's Senate, suggested the law on same-sex marriage is less about extending marriage benefits to gay couples and more about normalizing homosexuality.
- "The Confusing Way Mexicans Tell Time"--BBC. The title of this article is completely wrong, almost like the editor didn't bother reading the article. What the article concerns is the use of the phrase "ahorita" in Mexico versus its use in other countries (especially in standard Spanish usage). The term is generally translated as "right now." But in Mexico, the term has the opposite meaning: that of an indeterminate amount of time, if ever.
Ahorita llego, which directly translates to ‘I am arriving right now’, in fact means ‘I will be there in an indeterminate amount of time’, while ahorita regreso (‘I will be right back’) means ‘I will be back at some point but who knows exactly when’. ‘Ahorita’ is even used as a polite way of saying ‘no, thank you’ when refusing an offer.
The author continues:
Mexicans are famous in the Spanish-speaking world for their extensive use of the diminutive. While in most Spanish-speaking countries the addition of the diminutive ‘ita’ to an adverb like ahora (meaning ‘now’) would strengthen it to indicate immediacy (i.e. ‘right now’), this is not the case in Mexico. Dr Company explained that Mexicans instead use the diminutive form to break down the space between the speaker and the listener and lessen formality. In this case of ‘ahorita’, the addition of the diminutive reduces urgency rather than increasing it – a difference that can be extremely confusing for foreigners.
Subtle adjustments to the pronunciation of the word also affect the way ‘ahorita’ is interpreted. “The stretch in the ‘i’ sound in the word ‘ahorita’ is a demonstration of the stretching of time,” Dr Company informed me, implying that the longer the sound, the longer one can expect to wait. Equally, “if you want to imply that you really mean right now, you would say ‘ahorititita’,” she explained, noting the short, sharp sounds represent the idea that something needs to happen at once.