The last several weekends have been too wet to go shooting. Well, not too wet to actually do some shooting, but too wet to get to the place I typically go shooting. But, after a windy week where we didn't get much precipitation, I decided to give it a try, and found the road (a glorified cattle trail, to be honest) to be passable. It was cold--temperature was about 28 degrees (F) plus a constant strong wind. Based on the various flags I passed on my drive, the wind was at least 20 mph. (Here is a nice tip for estimating wind speed using a flag: "Estimate the angle between the bottom of the flag and the pole if the flag is extended. Divide the estimated angle by 4 to get the wind speed in miles per hour. For example, if you estimate the angle to be 45 degrees, the wind speed is approximately 11 miles per hour (18 kilometers per hour). This is the method used by United States Army sharpshooters"). Needless to say, I was not shooting any great distance, and had to switch to a kneeling position for some of my shots because my body was swaying too much because of the wind. I used my Riflecraft shooters sling on this outing and was very happy with it. Since it was too windy to put up target stands, I was just shooting at a couple of reactive steel targets--the types that look like large jacks.
Anyway, on to some articles:
- "How to Configure a Standard-Issue Sling for Optimal use With the M4A1"--Primary and Secondary. Video at the link.
- "2018 Practice Session #6"--Active Response Training. Greg Ellifritz discusses shooting drills and the need for structured practice to improve your skills.
- Lately I've seen some articles questioning the effectiveness of handguns versus bear spray in protecting against a bear attack. For instance, here is one from Ammo Land that contends that handguns have a 97% success rate based on 37 incidents (broken down by caliber). But I would note that quite a few of these incidents involved black bears. Big difference between black bear and grizzly/brown bears.
- "Fenix TK35 Ultimate Edition (UE) for 2018"--The Firearm Blog. The author reviews a new Fenix flashlight that offers over 3,000 lumens on "turbo" mode, 1,000 lumens at its high setting (1-1/2 hour maximum run time), with various lower settings for longer use. If the author's photographs are to be believed, this thing really seems to offer very good illumination.
- Another article asking "What Changed? Not Guns, Not Kids… Culture"--Jerking the Trigger. The culture has changed, but others are suggesting it was not the culture, but medication: specifically, prescription psychotropic drugs. For instance, this article at Ammo Land lists recent mass shooters and the medications they were using and SSRI drugs of various types dominate the list. Prison Planet also has a list of mass shooters using SSRI drugs.
- Related: "Nikolas Cruz: 'We had this monster living under our roof and we didn’t know.'"--Sun Sentinel. An interview with James and Kimberly Snead, the couple with whom Cruz was living at the time of the shooting. James is a military intelligence analyst, and his wife is a nurse; neither noticed anything unusual. But they knew he was deeply depressed, and "[f]ive days before the shooting, Kimberly Snead took Cruz to the office of a therapist she has been seeing." Of course, we cannot ignore all of the people that didn't do their jobs: the FBI ignoring two warnings that Cruz was planning on shooting a school, the police who responded to 39 calls over a 7 year period, social workers that ignored warning signs, etc. And did Cruz know that the school resource officer--the only armed person in the building--would be gone the day he chose for his shooting?
- Related: Julian Assange asks: "Why is it that 94% of mass shootings are perpetrated by people who have either identified or registered as a Democrat?"
- "Atibal Verum + GG&G AK Optic Mount Review"--The New Rifleman. He gives the quick detach mount high marks.
- "Granny’s Guerrilla Gun"--Mountain Gorilla. The author makes a good point. If someone asks us for a recommendation for a firearm, but they can't afford what we recommend, rather than tell them to suck it up, we should have a less expensive alternative in mind. In the example he cites, he was asked by a man (married with kids, and working a low paying job) about a good home defense pistol, and recommended a Glock. After the man explained that he could not afford a Glock, the author suggested he purchase a decent quality .38 Special revolver rather than a cheap semi-auto. Of course, the specifics may vary. I noticed in a recent Guns Magazine an article by Massad Ayoob discussing his coming across a used Colt Detective Special for $200. However, I don't see prices like that around where I live. But I've seen Glocks in .40 S&W for pretty cheap.
- Brazil is one of the most diverse nations in the world: "Brazil Military Takes Control of Rio de Janeiro’s Security"--Bloomberg. Per the article, "[t]he move, the first of its kind since Brazil returned to democracy in 1985, is a response to growing demands ahead of the October general elections for a crackdown on crime and violence."
- The Religion of Peace: "Five women killed in shooting outside Russian church"--Sky News. ISIS is taking credit for the attack.
- Interesting story at Popular Mechanics about how airports have to rename runways because of the shifts in the location of the north magnetic pole. Apparently the runways are named based on their orientation to magnetic north.
- "Foreign Freeloading to Blame for High Drug Prices"--The American Spectator. From the article:
Americans consume about 46% of the world’s brand name drugs but supply 70% of patented drug makers’ profits. France, Norway, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Italy, and other government-run health systems buy the identical drugs at bargain prices — usually half what Americans pay. These state-run health systems often threaten to exclude a drug from their country entirely, even if it could save lives, until they extract a deep discount. Norway barred Roche’s breast cancer drug Perjeta, until the company slashed the price far below what Medicare pays.
These foreign governments know, when push comes to shove, a manufacturer will sell for a price that barely covers the cost of production, rather than not sell at all. That leaves American consumers stuck paying exorbitant prices to cover the sunk costs of researching and developing a new drug.
- The wages of
sinsocialism: "Colombia Health System Strained by Fleeing Venezuelans"--Voice of America. The article reports:
So many have fled to neighboring Colombia for health and other reasons that its president, Juan Manuel Santos, announced last week that his country would beef up security along the 2,205-kilometer border. Just last month, Santos had reiterated Colombia's longstanding offer of "humanitarian support in the matter of food and medicines," and his criticism that "the Venezuelan government has refused because they do not want to accept the serious crisis they have on their hands."
Colombia's foreign ministry estimates that roughly 600,000 Venezuelans have arrived in the country, straining the health system.
- Deep dreams: "The Dark Secret at the Heart of AI"--MIT Technology Review. A lengthy article, but worth the time. The gist of it, however, is that the most successful AI systems have been developed using artificial neural networks that are capable of learning. And they have been pretty successful at learning difficult tasks and spotting patterns that have eluded humans. The problem, however, is that the scientists, engineers, and programmers that have developed these systems don't really know how they work. Yes, the systems have learned how to perform tasks, and deliver useful results, but the developers don't know how these neural networks think; that is, the processes and considerations that they use to get from the raw data to the final conclusion or result. And this could be a problem if the systems make a mistake--the developers won't know how to debug it.
- Related: "Artificial intelligence poses questions for nature of war: Mattis"--Phys.org. War has always been, at heart, a human endeavor designed to solve human problems. Mattis questions whether this will continue in the coming era of AI controlled drones and robots.
- Antipathy toward homosexuals is a consequence of the disgust response: "Gays Getting Parasites From R***ming"--Anonymous Conservative. AC cites an article in which the author complains of having to be treated for Giardia and Entamoeba histolytica, two parasites that are transmitted via fecal matter. The amazing thing about this is, notwithstanding the author's repeated infections and infecting his "boyfriend", that he has not considered changing the behavior that led to the infections. Rather, he is upset that a medical clinic that caters to LGBT has not done enough to warn the gay community.