June 13th, 2009

sledge hammer!

hardcore reloading: make your own primers

There's a scene in the Batman NO MAN'S LAND arc that always annoyed me. The premise is that Gotham has been declared verboten, outside of all law, following a calamitous earthquake that largely destroys the city. Naturally, the folks who stay in town (most of our principals) find themselves in a dog-eat-dog situation where survival of the toughest is the order of the day. Because trade between Gotham and the outside world is so restricted, the street punks find themselves running out of ammo. So they break into the morgue to recover bullets from the bodies of their dead chums.

This scene got points for creepiness and atmospherics, but for a gun nut it was pretty annoying. Bullets aren't hard; a lot of people cast theirs, and you don't need to re-use old bullets. Back in the day, you'd see the gun nuts hitting up their friendly neighborhood mechanics for discarded lead wheel weights. Melt 'em down, cast 'em, by god you've got cheap bullets. I knew one guy who did a lot of re-enactment stuff who would use old roof flashings; apparently they used to use lead for that. Anyway, the catch is the other stuff: primers and powder. I figured the biggest problem would be the primers; reloaders buy those intact, so how would you make your own?

Well, with the recent extraordinary rush on all manner of ammunition and related materials, some folks on the gun boards have started talking about that very thing. It seems that you can take the primer apart, fix it up, and re-prime it using powdered strike-anywhere matches. I even found one enterprising guy who is *firing his guns* using match-head primers *and powder.* The match-head powder is corrosive, so you have to wash the gun with water and clean it well after shooting, and the ammunition is underpowered; he says that it makes a .357 Magnum shoot like a .38 S&W, though he could probably get it up to .38 Special. But it is physically possible (YouTube instructional link).

Incidentally, if strike-anywhere matches are too hard for you to get ahold of -- I didn't know this, but apparently they're restricted some places -- you can make your own from regular matches.

Useful gimmicks for anybody who might wind up writing post-apocalyptic stories, or freedom novels.

the Iranian election results

I seem to recall that a while back there were some supposedly serious people arguing that Iran was actually really quite democratic, all things considered. These people tended to ignore the fact that the reigning mullahs had veto authority over who was actually allowed to enter the race, but in their view, the US was creating an inaccurate picture of Iranian despotism. The related arguments include: Ahmadinejad is Not That Bad, and even if he is he's Not a Really Consequential Figure and also the Real Power Doesn't Support Ahmadinejad. I'm looking forward to their commentary on this bit of news. The level of fraud in Ahmedinejad's re-election is making Chicago politics look like a garden club election. There are crowds of people protesting on the street; it's reported that there are scores dead. God knows what's going to happen, but it won't be pretty. Really freaky insight at the previous link: Iranian law requires a three-day wait after an election before certification by the council of experts and final approval by the Leader (Khameini). No such thing happened. Iran's former foreign minister tells THE NATION, bluntly, that what we've just seen is not an election, but a coup d'etat.

President Obama seems resigned to having the Iranians getting nuclear power. I think this is a potentially cataclysmic error on his part, and that's not hyperbole.

(Not to say we don't probably need to focus more on the Norks right now. They're doing lots of nuke testing, and they've got a track record of exporting material and expertise, and they're perfectly willing to nuke Seoul just for the hell of it.)

Odds of a small-scale nuclear war in the next two years: dramatically rising.
savannah and catherine

APED: "i'll leave the light on in the hall"

Your teeth are all brushed,
and the stories are read,
and I'll leave the light on in the hall.
I've checked in the closet,
and under your bed,
and I'll leave the light on in the hall.
It's time now for dreaming,
so sleep with a smile,
I won't be far off, should you call.
I'll be awake, for the next little while,
and I'll leave the light on in the hall.

The pillows are soft,
and the blankets are warm,
and I'll leave the light on in the hall.
And the roof and the windows
will keep out the storm,
and I'll leave the light on in the hall.
And the house will stand sturdy,
there's nothing to fear,
though the world's big and you are still small,
there's plenty of room to grow up in, my dear,
and I'll leave the light on in the hall.

There are fathers and mothers
less lucky than me,
and I'll leave the light on in the hall.
And I've been where they are,
so I know what could be,
and I'll leave the light on in the hall.
And I'll keep the roof sound,
I'll make sure the house stands,
and I'll catch you, my dear, should you fall.
Because I love you so, and also, I can,
I'll leave the light on in the hall.

in other news

The names of the other two guards involved in the Holocaust Museum shootout have been released. They're Harry Weeks and Jason McCuiston. One's a retired cop, the other is thirty years old and was a cop in Georgia before he moved back home to the DC area and took the job as a museum guard. It was sheer luck that they were in the lobby. Weeks had been working somewhere else before a supervisor asked him to go work the metal detectors; McCuiston was roaming around serving as a stand-in for guards who went on break. The WASHINGTON POST reports that it was McCuiston's first gunfight; the article hints that Weeks was in one before, about 25 years ago.

They're not clear yet to talk about the details on the gunfight, but from what I've read, here's how it went down: the perpetrator approached the museum carrying a .22 pump-action Winchester rifle vertically, under one arm. I don't know if he wore a concealing garment, like a long coat, or if he was just hiding it using his body; his age probably helped, because nobody really looks at an 88-year-old guy to see if he's packing. As he approached the door, guard Stephen Tyrone Johns saw him and courteously opened the door for him. As Johns did so, the perp deployed the gun and shot him in the upper right chest. A .22 is not commonly considered a man-stopping round, but this one apparently did some pretty serious damage, because Johns later died in the hospital. Johns went down; he was grievously injured and in shock, and was not able to draw his weapon. Weeks and McCuiston were able to, and did. They fired eight shots. I don't know if the perp fired at them, or what distances were involved except that like most gunfights, it was pretty short. Also like most gunfights, the adrenaline dump caused accuracy to go all to hell: only one of the eight rounds Weeks and McCuiston fired scored a hit. A good hit, though; nailed the perpetrator in the face. The round exited through his neck. The perp went down. He remains in the hospital in critical condition and, one hopes, in serious agony.

Police searching the perpetrator's room found another rifle: make and model unknown, described as .30 caliber. Interesting he didn't use that. Reports are that the perp was in financial straits; evidently he sought to combine a hate crime with suicide by cop. He also had a list of targets in his car. This list included locations significant to Jews and blacks, as well as Washington National Cathedral, a local Fox News office, and the conservative magazine The Weekly Standard. The breadth of the perpetrator's hate is truly astounding; he vilified everybody from Barack Obama to Bill O'Reilly. When I was a kid in school, we watched a film of Bill Cosby demonstrating the venality of bigotry by performing a character who systematically vilifies every single ethnicity and type of person imaginable. It's the kind of thing that adults find deeply meaningful and significant and kids find stupid and boring. Reading about the perpetrator, though, made me recall that film: he truly hated everybody.