Monday, February 28, 2005

Bomb Threat

I drove into town today and discovered a bit of a traffic snarl up- the police (quite a few of them) had cordoned off a street and were diverting traffic. It was only later that I discovered that the street was closed because of a bomb threat- a suspect package had been discovered behind a local business. When it was announced on the news (I was in Subway for lunch) no one batted an eyelid. It was a total non-event. It made me wonder how the same news would have been greeted in an American town, or even an English one. Terrorism is a way of life here- it was in the news every day, almost everyone I know knows someone who has been killed, and only here in all of the UK are the police armed and dressed in flak jackets. Only here do the Army launch foot patrols and armed check-points. Only a few years back if you wanted to enter a shopping centre you had to subject yourself and your bags (handbag, rucksack, shopping, etc) to a cursory search by security guards. Again, unlike the rest of the UK, we have photographs on our driving licences as a replacement ID card.

The so-called peace process which has been dragging on for about ten years now has served only to reduce the bombings. The terror gangs, loyalist and nationalist, carry on their business of extortion, drug dealing, robbery, punishment beatings and kneecappings. Now and then someone will be killed on one side or another but this is usually put down to "splinter" groups. Meanwhile under the "peace" deal the British Army has drastically reduced its presence here and nationalist politicians, members of the IRA like Martin
McGuiness, pocket the pay of a member of parliament and gain the benefits of that office, all the while refusing to take the oath of loyalty required. All this and the IRA still have their weapons and have been just implicated in a £26.5 million bank robbery. The bomb threat in town may (hopefully) be just that but the accepting attitude of the people who live here made me realise how much we have come not just to accept random bombings and assassinations, but to expect them.

Friendly Herbivores

Kris left a comment on a post I made on a new species of raptor, mentioning that it would probably be more frightening coming across a gigantic Seismosaurus than one of these small predators. For those not in the know a Seismosaurus is a sauropod, much like a Diplodocus, and the longest dinosaur ever discovered; running up to 170 feet, and weighing around 200,000lbs (that's the same as eighteen African elephants). It was 84 feet high. That's big. In fact it's so big that I can't even imagine what it might have been like to look up at one of these giants. Just pause and think about it for a moment.

Which leads me on to my next point- I'm a big fan of dinosaurs and dinosaur movies, though they are few and far between. Lately the Jurassic Park series has been the main contender and while I have issues with them, I'd sit and watch them over and over again just for the dinosaur action. One of my main complaints (apart from the only gun in the Park in the original movie being a SPAS12. What's that about?) is the protrayal of the herbivorous dinosaurs as being gentle giants. They're able to feed and pat a brachiosaur on the head it's so meek and mild. I just can't buy this- why would these vast herbivores behave like domesticated cattle? Wouldn't they behave a bit more like wild herbivores? Cape Buffalo for example are notoriously mean tempered. Even an elephant isn't that gentle- I'm fairly sure you couldn't just walk up to a bull elephant in Africa and pat it, not without being stomped to death anyway. Wouldn't a brachiosaur behave in a similar manner? I think part of the problem with this is, dare I say it, the liberal view of the wild. The carnivores are basically insane killers, rather than creatures which hunt to eat, and the herbivores are gentle peaceful beings that sing like whales. I think I prefer the sauropod in King Kong, which capsizes a raft and then proceeds to kill the sailors on board.

So now imagine a 200,000lb, 84 foot high dinosaur with a bad temper and a tail which it can crack like a whip (and probably not just one, there's most likely a herd of them). Now, that's pretty damn scary.


ACE today has a post on the ingenious way a Frenchman has circumvented a ban on the military .50 BMG cartridge- he's developed a new one using the same case and bullet! Of course for many Europeans the idea of using firearms for anything other than hunting (and even that it pretty much universally decried) is outrageous and so most European states see nothing wrong with banning military cartrtidges. Obviously they can have no other purpose than to kill.

In Britain semi-automatic long arms are banned along with handguns of all shapes and sizes. An awful lot of handgunners went out and replaced their handguns with lever actions and bolt actions when the ban came into effect. This must have made the country a safer place- better a man with a bolt action 7.62 rifle than a 9mm handgun. AR and FAL-type rifles can still be bought but the action has to be manually cycled- this somehow makes them less dangerous than their semi-auto brothers. Weapons like the Enfield and Mauser are also still legal- apparently the weapons of the World Wars are somehow less dangerous than the modern equivalent.

The problem seems to be that those who want to ban certain types (and eventually all types) of weapon or ammunition, do not understand firearms at all. Their hoplopobia is completely irrational. As I commented at ACE's place, it's illegal in some countries to buy 7.62mm ammo, but legal to buy .308. The former is of course a deadly military cartridge designed for no other reason than to kill people. The latter is a hunting round. Anti-gun types generally seem to have no understanding of what it is they are afraid of. For example, show a hoplophobe a Desert Eagle in .44 Magnum and a Marlin in the same calibre and ask them which is worse and I'm pretty sure they'd say that the former must be banned while the latter was okay. Well, okay, they'd probably want to ban both but if they could only pick one you know it'd be the more dangerous looking Desert Eagle. It would not occur to them that the Marlin could generate greater velocity and muzzle energy out of the longer barrel. The Californian ban on the .50 BMG makes no sense- and it makes even less for a Republican Governor like Arnie to have agreed with it. The .50 is not a noted weapon for criminals to use. It's not even a popular terrorist weapon, coming far behind the AK, RPG, car bomb and suicide vest. There was a .50 sniper rifle in use by the IRA here (obtained illegally- that's the other thing hoplophobes seem to have trouble with; criminals and terrorists don't often obey laws) but it was rumoured that there were only one or two guys capable of firing it. Maybe that's the biggest point that the hoplophobes don't get- it's not the gun, it's the person using it.

The .50BMG ban likely has more to do with a creeping ban of other "dangerous" calibres or types of gun than with any real perceived threat from its criminal use- has there even been a single case of the .50 being used in the commission of a crime in California? And how long will it be before someone suggests banning other "military" cartridges there?

Sunday, February 27, 2005

More Movie Rambling

One of the movies that I'm really looking forward to seeing is Sin City. Hopefully with Frank Miller so closely involved with the film and with Rodriguez at the helm it'll be faithful to the source material. To check out a couple of photos of the cast in character then check out this page at SuperHeroHype.

While you're at it, ponder just what the heck the studio is thinking by possibly casting Kim Basinger as Wonder Woman? Huh? Jessica Biel I could buy in the role (maybe, I still haven't seen her in Blade Trinity) but I can't for an instant imagine that Basinger would be suitable. Or, for that matter, understand why they'd want to make a WW movie (probably hoping for a series of flicks) beginning with an older Wonder Woman? Strange.

There are some other films to look forward to though- Miami Vice not being one of them since I discovered that Colin Farrell is in it. The Wretched sounds pretty exciting in that the plot has Chow Yun Fat in the Wild West as a bounty hunter of the undead. Six shooting zombie killin' action, what's not to like? He's also going to be appearing in Pirates of the Caribbean 2. I thought the first movie was hugely enjoyable thanks to Johnny Depp's performance. Hopefully, this one will be just as much fun.

Then, there's some strange news. Sam Raimi is apparently considering an Evil Dead 4, with Bruce Campbell as Ash. Good so far, but his production company is apparently also going ahead with an Evil Dead remake- the film which was "retold" in the first section of Evil Dead 2. Even if it hadn't I don't see the point at all of remaking it. Maybe Hollywood is out of ideas.

Finally, there's a sequel to John Carpenter's Vampires, called Vampires: The Turning, out soon on DVD. Well, another sequel without Jon Bon Jovi, which can only be a good thing. This time the action takes place in Thailand and contains some martial arts hi-jinks. I liked the James Woods original even though it's not up there with the best of Carpenter's movies. It's fun enough. I'll bet this muay thai sequel isn't a patch on Mr. Vampire though, the all-time greatest martial arts vampire movie around. Trust me, it's superb. Crack open a cold one, sit back and enjoy.

Zombie Terrorist Charges

This is a pretty bizarre story. Taking everything at face value, it seems that an eighteen year old high school student wrote a zombie story which takes place in a high school (not his own). His loving grandparents apparently discovered the tale and, no doubt fearing their grandchild was a burgeoning psychopath, took the story to the cops who have charged him with making terrorist threats.

This is a pretty worrying development; police investigators say they found materials which "outline possible acts of violence aimed at students, teachers and police" - emphasis mine. I should hope so if they were zombies- violence is the only way to deal with the walking dead.

So a kid writes a story and he is arrested for using his imagination? Now, of course if this kid had turned psycho and caused some sort of massacre people would have been asking, but why wasn't he stopped? Didn't anyone know he was a lunatic? Wasn't anyone reading his journal? That's fair enough but when a theatre group can put on a play about assassinating the President, and who knows how may writers can publish books about all sorts of horrific massacres, no one bats an eyelid. No one is arrested for making terrorist threats. I can remember writing a pretty shoddy tale about Russians invading my school (well, they invaded the whole country not just the school) when I was a teenager. I didn't mention my school by name or the teachers or even the pupils, but I it was based on it. Should I have been arrested as a potential Columbine killer? Or is this a storm in a teacup? What about freedom of speech? Shouldn't we be encouraging kids to write down their fantasies rather than acting them out?

I'm in pretty serious trouble if writing stuff like this down is making a terrorist threat (whom was he threatening by the way? Wouldn't it be a threat if he'd actually, you know, threatened someone instead of writing a story?). In my own collection of scribbles I've reduced whole cities, even continents, to ashes. Millions have died in horrible ways- nuclear war, plague, natural disasters, vampires, and yes- even zombies. I've launched wars, struck terrorist attacks, spied on foreign powers and even planned assassinations. I've also repelled the odd alien invasion. None of it is threatening though (unless you count the writing style and that's more offensive than threatening) - it's fiction. It'll be interesting to see how this story pans out.

Gimme 5

Because I can only dream of owning certain weapons, it's a nice little mental exercise for me to imagine what I'd buy if I were able to. Kim du Toit once had a nice little skit like this- whereby you had a certain amount of money to spend at Collector's Firearms. Well, one I've been tinkering with of late is a five gun selection. If you were only allowed to own five guns, what would they be? It's trickier than it sounds- every time I wrote a list I had to take one away to add another. Trying to have a good selection for all your handgun needs, be they hunting, target shooting, plinking, or defence, isn't as easy as it sounds. Anyway, for the time being anyway, here's what I've come up with.

1. A 1911 was the obvious first choice really; not only is the design time-proven but so too is the cartridge it fires. There are a wealth of 1911s available at the moment and it was pretty hard trying to select an appropriate model. Eventually however, I settled on the Springfield Full Size. Specifically the Parkerized version. It's not only sub-$1000 but it has Springfield's reputation behind it. And I wanted a little more than the usual GI-version, which the Full Size offers; the ambidextrous thumb safety is essential for me (lefty), it's got an extended beavertail grip safety and Novak tritium night sights. Features more commonly found on more expensive models.

2. I was considering a pump action shotgun as a serious home defence weapon but I decided against it in the end. Instead I opted for the DeLisle carbine (either this or the Sporter model would suit me fine) by Valkyrie Arms. First, it offers ammunition and magazine compatibility with the 1911 and second, it's a light and handy weapon which is well suited to the narrow confines of a home. It would also serve pretty well in a shtf situation and the ability to carry one type of ammo and magazine would be a huge bonus. Unlike the shotgun option it's not much of a kicker and so the Other Half would be more than capable of using it too if needs be. Of course, as I've mentioned before, I'd like to see it modified slightly- add XS Sights; the Express Big Dot shotgun sights actually look like they'd fit the bill.

3. Next up is the M1 Garand. A centrefire rifle is a must have for me. I love shooting and a day at the range with this baby would be ideal. Not only is it a classic design, but it's also chambered for a manly, hard-hitting calibre suitable for target, combat and even hunting. Last, but not least, it's also a tough, reliable battle rifle should the shtf.

4. My first two options are ideal for home defence but then I had to consider a carry option. This is a bit of a tricky one. I would very much like something along the lines of Smith and Wesson's little and light Model 342PD in .38 Special but I was torn between this option and a Para Ordnance CCW, an LDA (Light Double Action) single stack .45ACP. The advantage of the latter of course is yet more ammunition compatibility- and the proven stopping power of the venerable .45. The recommendation of Wiley Clapp helped too. The revolver may be "the original point and click interface", but in the end I had to go for the .45 option.

5. My last slot was perhaps the hardest to fill- I've already got a rifle, a carbine, a full size handgun and a carry piece. There are a few weapons that I'd just like to own but after much consideration I went for the Ruger 10/22 rifle. The .22LR cartridge is one that even I'm very familiar with and my Dad taught me to shoot with a target pistol in .22. I'd also very much like a Ruger Mark II but I think that the 10/22 is the better choice, but that's maybe just me; better to train the young'uns on a long arm first? The 10/22 is good enough for a plinker in it's standard form but it can also be jazzed up considerably to turn it into a highly accurate hole puncher. It would be an ideal piece to introduce my family to shooting and, if needs be, a magazine of 10 rounds delivered rapid fire could also be directed at a goblin.

Saturday, February 26, 2005


I've been intrigued by the A-Square company ever since I saw a picture of one of their monolithic slugs removed from elephant and buffalo in a book called The World's Most Powerful Rifles and Handguns. I'm not sure of the status of the company right now, their web-page doesn't seem to have been updated in a long time, but it'd be a shame if they weren't still operating. I do recall reading about their founder, Arthur Alphin getting into some sort of trouble with a government agency, most likely BATF, but I cannot for the life of me recall the details.

One of the most interesting thing about A-Square, quite apart from their Hannibal rifle, is the Triad of Bullets they offer. For most of the calibres they offer they have three different types of bullet which, despite their varied function, have precisely the same trajectory as one another. So a hunter could have a magazine of, say, five rounds with different bullets for penetration or expansion or a combination of both- and he will know that all have the same trajectory.

The first of the triad is the Monolithic Solid, designed purely for penetration and where expansion is not required. This is one for punching holes through elephant, buffalo or the like. They are not supposed to deform at all.

The second round is the Dead-Tough. Intended as a general purpose hunting round the Dead-Tough is meant to offer expansion down a third of the bullet, offering a wide frontal area, but keeping the remainder of the bullet intact to stabilise it's path through prey.

The final round is the Lion Load, so named I presume because of the beast's thin skinned nature. This one will only penetrate 12-24 inches of flesh and offers maximum destruction. It appears to be a soft lead nose surrounded by a thin copper jacket, enabling the bullet to mushroom and fragment, dumping all of the energy into the critter shot. It's not recommended for use when bone might get in the way of the vital organs.

As well as bullets for reloading, A-Square offer ammunition from 7mm all the way up to the massive .700 Nitro Express, most of it in the Triad format.

Top 100 Horror Novels

This is a list picked by Stephen Jones (never heard of him) and Kim Newman (movie critic and novelist). It's fairly contentious. I wouldn't have included Macbeth at all. The greats are mentioned of course- Poe, Stoker (twice) and of course the bizarre Lovecraft. Ray Bradbury is at 55 (the list is in chronological order which is a bit of a disappointment- it's always fun to rant and rave about lists like that) with the collection, The October Country. Not with Something Wicked This Way Comes, one of the most beautifully written books I've had the pleasure to read. Outrageous.

There are also some pretty strange picks for authors who did make the list. Clive Barker comes in at 95 with The Damnation Game, but that isn't a patch on his short stories collection The Books of Blood. The same applies to Robert McCammon (99) who is credited with Swan Song. It's a good book sure, but it's not in the same league as some of his earlier works. They Thirst, for example, is a classic over-the-top vampire tale with the undead in LA. I must have read that book a dozen times when I was younger. If you're at all interested in the horror/vampire genre do yourself a favour and go read it. It's surely his best work. Or they could even have picked his Nazi zombie submarine The Night Boat or the alien invader story Stinger, which I'm very fond of. Or even the WW2-set werewolf spy thriller the Wolf's Hour, which sounds ridiculous but which is actually very good fun indeed.

One book I was glad to see in the list is F. Paul Wilson's The Keep. Set in WW2 it concerns a detachment of German troops occupying a keep deep in the Transylvanian Alps where they unwittingly unleash an ancient evil. Though it was also made into a movie (by Michael Mann no less, and starring Ian McKellan, Gabriel Byrne and Scott Glenn), do yourself a favour and read the book instead. It's one of the best modern horror stories I've read, very good indeed. Another of his works which might appeal is The Tomb which features a great character, Repairman Jack, and is a superb thriller with some wonderful monsters. In fact, the more I think of it, the more I have to recommend this book. It's an action packed Boy's Own type adventure with it's roots in British Empire India. This is the sort of book the term "rollicking good read" was made to describe.

All in all I think it's a pretty good list, as it covers pretty much all the horror writers of influence- Nathaniel Hawthorne, Arthur Machen, M.R. James, to name but a few- and it leaves very few out. Brian Lumley is one of the few writers I can think of who doesn't show, but should, for his Necroscope series.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

New Raptor

Not the usual sort of thing I post about but I have a deep and abiding interest in dinosaurs, no doubt brought on by an interest in movies like One Million Years BC- I was so disappointed when I eventually discovered that millions of years separated humans and dinosaurs. Blasted scientists, always spoiling things!

Anyway, it seems that a new species of raptor, given the catchy moniker of Neuquenraptor Argentinus, has been discovered in Argentina. It was previously thought that the raptor dinosaurs never made it to South America but this find has been linked to an earlier one and now it seems that dromeosaurs (characterised by the raptor's famous hooked claw) did in fact exist there sometime 80 millions years ago in the Cretaceous period. Though they were only about two metres long they have an adaption to their skeletal structure which their more famous velociraptor cousins did not- making them into especially swift runners. You can what they looked like here.

My favourite brand of raptor, however, is the oversize Megaraptor, a beast which looked just like a velociraptor (though it it wasn't actually a dromeosaur), but which was eight metres long (26 feet) and which had a hooked claw of over 36cm. That's fourteen inches. And it weighed about a ton. Imagine coming up against that.

Chinese Developments

The always informative World Guns site has been updated today with a new entry for a Chinese sniper rifle, the 5.8mmX42 calibre QBU-88. Built along similar lines to the QBZ-95 (aka Type 95), the new issue assault rifle for Chinese forces, the sniper rifle (or designated marksman rifle, as it seems poorly suited to a dedicated sniper role) is peculiar in that it's not only a semi-auto, it's also a bullpup design.

I have no info on the Chinese 5.8mm cartridge but the QBZ-95 assault rifle is also offered for export in 5.56 NATO so I'm assuming it to be fairly similar. Not exactly a step forward technologically but it's a development in line with NATO moving from 7.62 to 5.56 and the Russians to 5.54mm. Hardly a great selection for a sniper rifle either. Rumours are that the Type 95 assault rifle has not yet widely replaced the Kalashnikov-clone Type 81 rifle in 7.62mm outside of 'special forces' and that it has been having some technical problems. It's available as a standard size rifle, shorty carbine and also as a Squad Automatic Weapon.

I'm not too aware of Chinese weapon systems but I'm going to have to start doing a little research on the subject as the communist state represents a major threat to the Western way of life. One of the best places to get started is Chinese Defence Today, a site I discovered courtesy of MadOgre. Small arms are what I know best but by all accounts the Chinese are modernising their military fast, from attack submarines to AWACS. Front page news on Chinese Defence involves them buying UAVs from Israel. Correction, make that armed UAVs. Surely this is not a good move by Israel regarding their longest standing ally, the USA?

Sky Captain

I finally got round to watching Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow last night on DVD. I'd hoped to see this on the big screen but it never happened. I'm sure that some of the film's impact has been lost seeing it on a small screen. Visually it is stunning and if you have fond childhood memories of watching Flash Gordon or any of the old serials like it, then there's enough in this movie to entertain you. That's not to say that it's perfect- it's far from it. For one the casting/acting is pretty bad- Jude Law just doesn't cut it as a hero, Gwyneth Paltrow is astonishingly wooden and unlikeable as Polly Perkins and I just can't buy Giovanni Ribisi as the super-intelligent side-kick. Perhaps with a slightly better script the acting would have been better but as it stands the characters seem like nothing more than another CGI effect. And one they scrimped on at that.

Law's Sky Captain doesn't cut the mustard as an action hero- there's nothing special about him at all and his character isn't given much of an opportunity to do anything particularly heroic- he gets beaten up a couple of times and he flies a fighter plane but doesn't actually do much fighting. Mostly he flies away from other aircraft . Also, he doesn't seem to be all that bright- the plot has to be explained to him by other characters. His big deal is that he flies a plane which has a few James Bond gadgets built in. Whoop-dee-doo. In this retro-futuristic world, I'd expect Sky Captain to fly a kick-ass jet at the very least. If Ribisi can built a ray gun (which is very cool) then why can't he make the Sky Captain fly something equally wonderful?

Aside from the not very heroic hero, we're lumped with Paltrow's reporter character who is about as tough and feisty as a wet blanket. Her leaden acting doesn't help of course but I found myself not giving a damn about her at all- why is she in the movie? Well, apart from explaining to the Sky Captain what's going on, she doesn't really serve any function at all. True, she saves him once but apart from that she does very little- there's no snappy dialogue between the pair (which is I think what they were aiming for- perhaps they should have watched the Hudsucker Proxy and then had Jennifer Jason Leigh reprise her role from that) and she doesn't even fulfill the role of damsel in distress.

Perhaps the director/writer forgot that the whole point of the old serials was that they were exciting- every fifteen minutes or so one or other of the main characters would be in a life-threatening situation. That's exactly what's missing here- Sky Captain has some great classic references, from the giant robot death rays (the sound effect is lifted from the War of the Worlds) to the image of Godzilla in a newspaper, but what it lacks is excitement. The film just plods along with no sense of real danger and with no characters in particular to care about. Sky Captain's plane gets hit at one point and a stream of smoke trails from the wing but no one seems to care- so the audience doesn't either. The plot's a bit clunky but that could have been overlooked if the film had contained a sufficient amount of danger and excitement. It's a shame really because there are some nice creative touches- from Polly's news story being shown on the window behind her desk as she types to the Sky Captain's plane flying through cloud over a map to show where he's going. Added to that the whole concept of the film was superb- a retro-futuristic New York being attacked by giant robots fought off by the valiant Sky Captain. To screw up a thrilling setting like that takes some doing.

On the whole I've got to say that this is pretty much a visual treat- the digital backgrounds and design are superb but that's about all there is to it. The plot is a tad silly- take the big threat at the end of the movie for instance, it's so ridiculous as to be completely unbelievable- flying giant robots I can accept but that- no way! The acting is sub-standard and the casting was just wrong. I don't know of anyone who can buy Jude Law as an action hero (my Other Half's views was, "This isn't fair, you get to watch Angelina Jolie and I've only got Jude Law"). Hell, I could kick his scrawny ass. But if you can ignore that the film is entertaining, albeit in a lost opportunity sort of way. Maybe Hollywood should plan a remake of this instead of another classic movie which is just fine as it is.

Episode 3

If you've seen the show Spaced (with Simon Pegg of Shaun of the Dead fame) you'll have a pretty good idea of how I too feel about Star Wars Episode 1. If you haven't, really, go check Spaced out- it's very funny. Anyway, Episode 2 was an improvement and I'm hoping that Part 3- Revenge of the Sith- will be even better.

If you're the sort of person who doesn't mind MAJOR SPOILERS then you might be interested in checking out this site- which is basically a page of stills from the new movie. It looks good, particularly the opening scene. Again, there are a lot of spoilers contained therein so if you want the film to be a surprise to you, don't go here.

Left Hand 1911

This is going to be of limited interest but as a Southpaw myself, I took notice- Dlask, a Canadian firm, are offering the venerable 1911 in a completely left hand version- with left ejection port, release, slide release and safety. That's pretty neat if you're a lefty. I haven't really heard much about the company or their products until now so I can't really comment further, but I'm sure that a lot of left-handed shooters would like to see other 1911-makers offer the same options.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

ISP Issues

My ISP has been giving me a really bad service lately- emails not coming in, websites I can't access, newsgroups unavailable. It's a real pain but they tell me that it's due to maintenance and because I can't deal with the thought of changing my email address I'm going to stick with them for a while yet. In the meantime, I occasionally have to access my email online and I'd be lost without this website- Pandamail. Simply type in your details and you can access any email account from their website. The best bit is that it's a free service. Very useful if your ISP is playing silly buggers or if you're away from your own machine and want to check your account.

9/11 News

This is the one news story that really struck me today. And it must be terrible to be one of the families whose loved one has not yet been identified. There's not much else I can say about this.

Saying it has exhausted all DNA technology, the New York City Medical Examiner has halted the process of identifying human remains from the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center site.

Of the 2,749 people known to have been killed at the World Trade Center site, only 1,585 -- or 58 percent -- were identified on the basis of recovered physical remains.

The medical examiner's office received a total of 19,916 human remains, which included fewer than 300 intact bodies or torsos. It identified 10,190 body parts, some as small as a finger tip, primarily through DNA testing. About 9,726 remains remain unidentified.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Another stupid anti-gun measure

ACE reports today on a completely asinine measure being suggested in (you guessed it) California. The proposal is make it a requirement to micro stamp a gun's serial number on the firing pin so that this will be transferred to the bullet when fired so that the police can more easily identify the gun used in the commission of a crime. I've left a few comments at ACE's place on the subject but I'm so flabbergasted by this that I felt compelled to have my own little rant on the matter here too. First off, the law will only apply to semi-autos so whoever came up with the idea knows that the stamping process will not transfer the serial number to the bullet but only to the case. This is an important point because I'll bet that when it comes to reporting this proposal the press will not distinguish between the two- and I'm sure that anti-gun types will not comprehend the difference anyway.

There are several very obvious flaws to the plan. First is the increased cost to manufacturers by not only having them stamp each individual gun, but also making separate lines for California and the rest of the US. Second is the fact that any law passed will only apply to weapons made after the law is passed- so to avoid it a criminal merely has to keep a pre-law semi-auto. Third, the details of each individual gun will be stamped on the case by the firing pin- an item which is easily changed and the sale of which is not regulated at all. Fourth, by collecting any spent brass the measure is defeated.

The point of the proposal is not to defeat crime or to speed up the process of solving crime, rather it seems to be yet another attempt by the anti-gun crowd to control firearms. Much like the proposed tax on ammunition to pay for the cost of armed crime which another moonbat suggested some months ago. Now they want to make semi-autos either more expensive or harder to own. Slippery slope, my friends, slippery slope.

Writing Exercises

As all writers will know there are times when the mind just goes blank and words don't seem to flow. When it happens in the middle of a story I'm usually tempted to write on and them come back later and fix it- but sometimes this doesn't work as I prefer not to plan ahead too much, I'd rather let the characters and story lead me forward. When things aren't going well, writing on like this can kill a story. So, many times instead I'll either try another story- I have a big file of ideas and part-completed works- or else try a writing exercise.

Writing exercises come in various shapes or forms and you can easily Google up sites with dozens of them. Some don't appeal at all to me- write a personal ad, that sort of stuff. No, I'd much rather do one of the following:

1. Take a picture and write a plot/story around it. One of the reasons I have a big collection of jpegs on my PC. One variation around this that I'll do is to pick a picture of a gun and create a character/situation from it.
2. Grab a book off your shelf and take the first line or even paragraph and then start writing your own story to follow on.
3. Take a movie that you liked but which was flawed and do a re-write to fix the mistakes or take it in a different direction. Too many examples to list!

A new technique I've just discovered involves a book that a friend very generously gave to me at the weekend- Radio Times Guide to Science Fiction. It has a long list of obscure movies and serials in it with capsule descriptions of the plot- a team of deep space explorers discover a crazed killer amongst their number, for example- and I'm using those threadbare descriptions as jumping off points for my own stories. Very, very useful for those slow days when nothing seems to be going right.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Russian Enfield

While I'm on the topic of Enfields (see the last post) how's this for something a little different? A Lee Enfield No. 4 rifle rechambered for 7.62 Russian and capable of taking AK magazines. I'd say that this would be a tad more accurate than the standard AK and the calibre is certainly cheap to shoot, but even at that I'm not quite sure about it. Maybe Cooper is rubbing off on me- what is the need for this? I'm not such a fan of 7.62 Russian that I'd want this as my primary weapon in that calibre, but perhaps if I already owned an AK and was looking for something with more accuracy I might be tempted by this- again, compatible ammo and mags would be very useful. However, even at that, I think that a full-size Enfield would be a better choice that this 'shorty' jungle gun.

A curious item.

45 Carbine

I've often wondered at the amazing lack of .45ACP calibre carbines available, especially considering the enormous popularity of the round and the 1911 pistol. Surely a carbine in the same calibre would make an ideal companion piece and/or home defence weapon? Or how about a carbine not only in the same calibre but which also takes 1911 magazines? Up until now your only option for this would have been the now-discontinued Marlin Camp Carbine (if memory serves me well)- but don't despair, there is another option if you don't want a lever action to go with your .45: Valkyrie Arms manufacture a range of carbines based on the WW2-era DeLisle. As well as the traditional "Commando Carbine" (suppressed and faux-suppressed versions on offer), they offer a DeLisle 2000 and a Sporter. All take standard 1911 clips. Surely there must be a massive market for a handy carbine like this?

With a sixteen and a half inch barrel the Sporter would be my personal preference. Though I'd like to lose the rail and see it fitted with iron sights- perhaps an XS Sights ghost ring set up or even their Express sights. If there was to be a rail mount I'd like to see it moved a little further forward in more of a scout configuration, but maybe that's just me. For the ranges involved in personal defence I'd rather have the XS set up than the red dot sight

Of course the DeLisle is a bolt action but I don't see that as much of a drawback- the benefits far outweigh this minor quibble and if the action is anything like it's grown up Enfield cousin it'll be fast. There isn't really a semi-auto option around (bar the Beretta CX4 Storm so far as I recall) but I'd like to see one based on the M1- it's just the right size and weight and while the .30 cal round would suffice for defence it's not exactly a popular round for handguns. Imagine instead an M1 carbine modified to accept 1911 magazines- now there would be a pretty neat package.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

More links!

Kevin, of Smallest Minority, has been good enough to leave a few comments and to add my humble site to his links. I've been to his site a few times in the past and I can wholeheartedly recommend it to any pro-gunners- or even any antis who have somehow stumbled past here. It's pretty erudite stuff. Many thanks, Kevin.

I also discovered today that my site is linked to by, deep breath, Cowboy Blob's Saloon, Humidor and Shootin' Palour. There's some gun stuff, some military stuff and even some ferret pictures. Go have a look 'round. I'm going to have a good look there today myself. Again, thanks for the link.

If you do link to me, let me know- it's always interesting to see who's reading.

Bad News

Take a moment to say a prayer or give a thought to Adam Plumondore- of Kim du Toit's Walter and Adam fund. The Army sniper was tragically killed by a car bomb in Mosul. There's not a lot which can be said when a young man, he was only 22, is killed in the service of his country but my thoughts are with his family and friends.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

New Site

Thanks to a mention in ACE today, I bimbled along to a new (to me) website today- Gun Places (regular visitors will also have noticed that I've updated my links listing on the right hand side of the page). Gun Places is a links page for everything from gun makers, holsters, sights, ballistics and forums. It's a great reference source and there are quite a few sites mentioned there that will shortly be added to my bookmarks.

It was a bit of a shock therefore to see my humble website listed on the blogs page of Gun Places! Cheers for the link! The blogs page is also worth checking out- familars like ACE, Blackfive, Murdoc Online, Kim du Toit and Right Thinking Girl to a whole bunch I've never even read- I'm going to have to find a few hours to check some of these guys and gals out. I'd definitely recommend popping along to check it out.

Gas Piston AR

It looks like at least one manufacturer has spotted the interest generated by the HK M4 with its gas piston- DSA is now offering the Z4 GTC (Gas Trap Carbine). Defense Review reports on a Shotgun News review, which noted that the weapon can push out the Black Hills MK262 round at a very respectable 2751 fps from its 16” barrel. Hopefully this is the start of a major trend to breathe some life into the AR line by offering the gas piston option- surely rebutting the most frequent criticism of the platform.

On another note, DSA also offer a nice 10.5” barrel CQB AR called the CQB MRP, which features a quick change system to swap out barrels. I wonder if the gas piston option will be offered across their line at some point in the future?

Monday, February 14, 2005

Not much to blog about...

So instead here are some guns to have a look at from the fantastic Collector's Firearms. This is always a site for sore eyes (forgive the bad pun). First up, a mint condition Venezuelan 7mm Mauser. Damn, but I'd love to own that. Next is a curiosity piece- a Volquartsen match grade Luger. Yeah, a Luger. Not quite sure what to make of this but it's certainly an unusual weapon. Next up is a big bore- a .54 calibre custom percussion rifle. I'm not much of a black powder enthusiast butI'd certainly be interested in popping off a few shots with this. Keeping with the old school theme, this is a .455 calibre Smith and Wesson Hand Ejector- very nice and a bit different from the Webley which I normally associate with this round. A beautiful modern cousin can be found here- in this Smith & Wesson Model 25 Heritage in .45 Long Colt. Wow, what a fantastic gun in a great calibre.

Finally, a clutch of .45 ACPs, the king of the handgun: an HK USP Tactical, the new Sig GSR 1911, another Smith and Wesson- this time a Model 945 semi-auto (I've never really taken to the look of the SW auto- the grip angle looks all wrong, but this one seems pretty functional) and, you guessed it, another SW, this time a wheel gun- the lovely Performance Centre Model 625.
Oh yeah, and for all you big bore fans, here's one last one- the best looking SW Model 500, the Performance Centre Hunter. That looks like it'd kick like a mule, even with that enormous muzzle brake.

UPDATE - Lots of dead links in this one now so here's an image of the Volquartsen Luger I saved to my hard drive. It has an eight and a half inch match fluted barrel with compensator, match throated chamber and crisp trigger job. Sadly, Volquartsen don't appear to be offering this item any more.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

A General Speaks

I'm lagging a few days behind the news at the moment- in addition to being laid low by a nasty chest infection my PC also decided to fail on my causing a fresh Windows install. Arrgh! Anyway, on the topic of the USMC General saying that it was fun to shoot terrorists- how about this quote from Patton-

"We'll win this war, but we'll win it only by fighting and by showing the Germans that we've got more guts than they have; or ever will have. We're not going to just shoot the sons-of-bitches, we're going to rip out their living Goddamned guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We're going to murder those lousy Hun c**ksuckers by the bushel-f**king-basket. War is a bloody, killing business. You've got to spill their blood, or they will spill yours. Rip them up the belly. Shoot them in the guts. When shells are hitting all around you and you wipe the dirt off your face and realize that instead of dirt it's the blood and guts of what once was your best friend beside you, you'll know what to do!"

I wonder how the press would have reacted to that? The whole speech can be found here.

Walking Stick Fighting

ACE posted a link on Sunday to an article on using a walking stick for self-defence. It's an interesting read. As I sometimes need to use a cane to get out and about it's something I have more than a passing interest in. My own taste is to wield the cane in the same manner as a bokken or samurai sword- two handed grip. The basic moves are not too hard to pick up and blows can easily be aimed to the head, shoulders or throat of an attacker. I was hoping to find some Eskrima classes to take but I can't find a single teacher in the whole of Northern Ireland (if you know better do let me know) so I'm going to have to look into self-teaching some techniques.
A sword cane like ACE's would quickly land me in prison here (and there's a campaign on to change the law so that anyone caught with a blade over three inches faces a minimum sentence of five years- the same as for illegal forearm possession) so I've been considering purchasing a Cold Steel White Wax Wood cane instead. My own stick would probably snap under too much pressure and the Cold Steel variety is exceptionally good value. Of course, the more expensive Walkabout is also very appealing and the lack of a hook handle means that it could very easily double as a bokken. My other choice of course is to purchase a traditional knobkerry or shillelagh, which I'm sure would deliver a very nasty blow- the knotted surface and the knob-shape handle would both inflict a great deal if pain.

Saturday, February 05, 2005


Though I own a Playstation 2 I’m not much of a gamer. As far as I’m concerned gaming began with Doom and ended with Half-Life (and I’m hoping to get my mitts on the latest incarnation of both games as soon as I can find a decent, not too expensive graphics card). However, for Christmas I did get a couple of games from my too-generous Other Half- The Getaway 2 and Killzone. The latter game is, simply, fantastic.

It’s a first person shooter which takes place some time in the future. The basic premise of the game is that your homeworld has been invaded and now it’s time to kick ass. A couple of things make this game stand out- first, the whole concept, the design of the world and, especially, the weapons is fantastic. It’s a fabulous looking game and it looks realistic. Second, as the game progresses the trooper you play hooks up with various other characters- an assassin, a spy and a machine gunner. As soon as you team up you get to play either as the original trooper or as one of the new characters. So far I’m about three quarters of the way through the game and I’m sticking with the assassin (night vision and a nifty silenced weapon). From what I can tell the nature of each level is different depending on which character you choose to be- offering the chance to play all over again. It’s not often I’m that impressed with a game but Killzone is, in my opinion, superb. Very playable and very addictive. Definitely one to check out if you have a PS2.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Good News

I read this and had to doublecheck that I wasn't reading some sort of satire page- the British government seems to actually be listening to the demands of the general public on the topic of self-defence in the home. According to new guidelines being issued (the law has not yet actually been changed but the Tories are campaigning for just that) it is perfectly reasonable for a person to attack and even kill a burglar in their home (even using a weapon at hand) so long as you act as you "honestly and instinctively believe is necessary in the heat of the moment". This is a pretty remarkable step forward considering our Labour government. Obviously this is an issue with which the Tory party could have stolen some votes come election time. Thank goodness for the opposition.

The Tories are campaigning for the law to be changed so that only "grossly disproportionate" force (as opposed to that vaguest of things "reasonable force") would be prosecuted, a change I would gladly back as I'm sure the Crown Prosecution Service and most judges would not believe that stabbing a burglar with a knife or taking a tomahawk to him would be "necessary in the heat of the moment". Only time will tell if these guidelines are actually giving homeowners back some right to protect themselves or if it's nothing more than a ploy to win votes.

Now, if only the government would read this and understand that the right to defend one's family and home is one thing, but the means to do so is quite another matter entirely. Maybe all is not lost and one day gun culture will begin to mean something other than armed gangs.


Of late, I've been trying to not only get my fitness back but also lose some weight. In my Marine days I struggled to get over 11 stone. In the past couple of years, my weight has soared up to just over 14 and a half stone. Not good.

Since Christmas though, I decided that enough was enough. Doctors, chiropractors and physiotherapists have all been unable to help me with my back injury so I've had to try and sort it out myself. Hence my Concept 2 rower and kettlebell. Throw in a slightly healthier diet and my weight has dropped to 13st 3lbs. Just over a stone in just over a month. Not bad. I'm hoping a slimmer me will take a little stress of my spine.

I'd rather not get down to 11st again but a muscular 12 would do me just fine! Rowing has strengthened my back a little and I'm hoping that the kettlebell will mobilise the joints some. Blogging on it has also helped keep me motivated. More updates when I'm doing well.

Nitro Express Revolver

ACE posted a picture of a fictional .50 BMG revolver (though he has also posted about a real prototype .50 BMG handgun) and it not only brought to mind Magnum Research’s oversized BFR .45-70 revolver but also the totally insane concept of the .600 Nitro Express Revolver made by Pfeifer Zeliska. Yeah, you heard right- a Nitro Express revolver. There’s a pic of the beast here with a link to a .pdf about the weapon (sadly in German which I don’t understand).

Quite why anyone would want a gun like this is absolutely beyond me- it’s enormous and surely a nightmare to shoot, never mind the fact that it would be virtually impossible to use it for hunting- and seems to exist for no other reason than an exercise in engineering. Although that’s a good enough reason for me- there’s talk of an .800 Nitro Express on the way (sorry, can’t recall where I heard that) and while I can’t see a real need for it (has someone discovered a lost valley of dinosaurs?) the fact that it can be made is intriguing. Now, if only the world of military cartridges and firearms had the same fast development, we’d maybe be seeing some exciting new developments (G11 anyone?). Anyway, I’d take a nice Holland and Holland double rifle or a Heym bolt action in the .600 NE over the Pfeifer any day.

Note: This post was actually written last week- and yet ACE still beat me with a post on the same topic on his site! Seriously folks- bookmark him now, one of the best websites around at the moment with some fantastic weapons topics appearing frequently.

Most Powerful Shoulder Fired Rifle?

I mentioned the .577 Tyrannosaur not so long ago and ACE followed up with a much more exhaustive post on the calibre, including a terrific Cooper quote. Classic. Now, while I’m all for the bigger is better school I’ve got to say that more modest cartridges shouldn’t be overlooked. Some years back Guns and Ammo did an article on the 7mm x 57 (I believe it was by Ross Seyfried) and I’ve been an admirer of the cartridge ever since. Used by long range marksmen during the Boer War, the 7x57 also served well in an entirely different use in Africa- being used to take up to and including elephant! That’s a pretty versatile round.

Having said that, the bigger and better theory holds a certain appeal and so I’ve got to mention another big game cartridge/gun, the .585 Nyati, which could hold the title of the most powerful shoulder fired rifle (shoulder fired being an important qualifier there) with a muzzle energy exceeding 10,000 foot pounds. According to Accurate Reloading the .577 Tyrannosaur can be taken to an mv of 11,000 but power isn’t just about muzzle energy and I’m assuming that lots of people will have lots of ideas on exactly what constitutes the ‘most powerful’. Again, if you have an opinion of this do let me know. I’ve not been able to track down much useful information on the .585 Nyati myself so if anyone (ACE?) can do better, feel free to do so. Any links are appreciated.


No posts for a few days now- Blogger and I seem to be having some 'issues' with my posts appearing here. Trying to resolve the situation so please stay tuned for some updates.