Archive for the ‘Endorsements’ Category

Putting the touch on you once again.

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

Friend of the blog South Texas Pistolero had a kitchen fire yesterday.

Nobody was hurt, and the family has a roof over their heads. But they’ve lost a lot of stuff, mostly clothes.

The great and good Erin Palette is taking point on this and has set up a YouCaring page for money donations. If you’re tight on money but long on spare stuff, Erin’s page also has a list of some specific needs.

When I get paid this week, I plan to kick some money into the kitty. Y’all know I wouldn’t ask you to donate if I wasn’t doing it myself.

I know I don’t get the readership of Erin or Borepatch or Tam, but if people could spread this widely, that would be appreciated at well. I still haven’t met up with STP (one of these days…) but we’ve exchanged blog posts and the occasional email. He and his family are good people who have been having a run of bad luck.

Please donate if you can. If you can’t, publicize.

Random gun and cop crankery, some filler.

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Easter Sunday, a group of us went shooting at the KR Training range. Because what better way is there to celebrate the resurrection of Christ than to shoot off guns? Hey, didn’t the man say “If you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one?”

(Also: KR Training, official firearms trainer of Whipped Cream Difficulties.)

While we were out there, the actor we’ve hired to play Karl mentioned that you can get AR pattern lowers (and uppers) in pistol calibers…that take Glock magazines. Here’s an example. (Not endorsed by WCD: I have no experience with the company or product.) Since most folks who are serious Glock users have a bunch of magazines around, this is an attractive idea. Even more so when you know that you can get magazine extensions for those standard Glock magazines and load up even more rounds.

My mind immediately went in a particular direction, but I’m going to come at it from the long way around. Because that’s just the kind of hairball I am. Let’s start with the question: what calibers do Glocks come in?

I can almost visualize a .380 ACP Glock AR carbine (or an AR pistol). The vision I have of it in my head is that it would be a kind of cute plinking gun…that shoots relatively expensive ammo and doesn’t have a fun switch. It reminds me of the old MAC-11, but even less useful. (Though the AR platform carbine would perhaps be more reliable.)

9mm seems to be where the AR/Glock action is, and for good reason: 9mm ARs are fairly popular in various places, 9mm ammo is relatively cheap, and this seems like a very practical pistol caliber carbine. Perhaps even more so if you pay for the tax stamp and make it a short-barreled rife. I think a lot of folks are looking at these, even without the SBR tax stamp, as good home defense weapons: easier to handle, point, and shoot than a pistol, without the possible over penetration issues of 5.56.

You could make the same argument for .40 S&W, except that the ammo isn’t as cheap as 9mm. and I don’t think it has the same following that the 9mm carbine has in the tactical community.

.45 ACP could be an interesting build. I don’t see a lot of tactical operators talking about operating tactically with .45 ACP carbines. But I don’t hang out with a lot of tactical operators, either. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

.45 GAP? Well, that’d be weird. The Winchester ballistics calculator on my phone says that .45 GAP will drop a little less and have slightly more velocity at 50 yards. But my impression is that .45 GAP is a dying caliber (even though Glock still chambers guns in it) and is maybe a little more expensive than .45 ACP by a few dollars a box for comparable ammo. However, I haven’t shot or bought .45 GAP, so don’t take that as gospel truth. Check prices at your local dealer or online ammo vendor.

.357 SIG? Ah. That’s the first place my mind went. I remember .357 SIG being touted as having a flatter trajectory than the .357 Magnum, but the same punch at range, higher capacity, and the ability to actually feed it in auto pistols. That same Winchester calculator (which only goes out to 50 yards on the iPhone) does show slightly less drop and a slightly lower velocity for the .357 SIG at 50 yards. If I can find a better calculator, I’d love to run numbers out to 100 yards.

Apparently, I’m not the only person who has this thought. there’s an interesting discussion over at Better and Better where Matt G mentions much the same idea (and also responds to a question from your humble blogger about the current role of the police shotgun).

And finally: 10mm? Why not? I like this idea, too. It reminds me of Jeff Cooper’s “Thumper”. I could see a SBR version of this working perhaps as a compact police carbine, but more so in Cooper’s original conception: a personal defense weapon for tank crews and other people who need something they can carry and deploy in tight quarters. I think I’d pick a 9mm or .357 SIG version for my daily use. But if I was in an appropriate military position, I’d build up a few 10mm ARs for experimental purposes in the sandbox.

More crankery after the jump.

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April, come she will.

Sunday, April 9th, 2017

I intended to throw this up yesterday, but got overtaken by events. A close family member had to go to the hospital and ended up being admitted. (They’re doing fine now, thank you for asking, but I expect they will be in for a couple more days at least.)

Anyway, with slightly less than a week’s advance notice: April 15th is National Buy a Gun Day. And while the pressure might be off for the moment, why not go out and buy a gun to celebrate (or commiserate) over recent events?

Even better, BAG Day falls on a Saturday this year, to make your BAG shopping just that much easier.

“Are you celebrating this year?” Yes, I am. This year, I actually had something I wanted as a combined BAG/birthday present for myself, and planned to pick it up on BAG Day. However, while I was checking GunBroker, I found a pretty good deal on the item in question, put in a bid…and, shockingly, won. (I believe this is actually the first contested GB auction I’ve won, as opposed to “buy it now” deals.) I’m hoping it gets to my FFL before Saturday; the weekend promises to be busy, so it might be the Monday or Tuesday after BAG Day before I can throw up pictures. I will give a hint, though: I am indulging my inner Jeff Cooper fanboy.

If you can’t buy guns, buy ammo. If you don’t want to do either, well, you might throw a few bucks in the direction of the blogger McThag. He recently went through a difficult personal legal entanglement which could have cost him his right to keep and bear arms. Fortunately, he’s free and clear of that now (the whole story is on his blog) but he’s somewhat in the hole for legal expenses and could use a hand from those so inclined.

As always, I would not ask you to donate if I hadn’t already done so.

(Hattip to the great and good Erin Palette for first making me aware of this.)

I heartily endorse this event or product. (#15 in a series)

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

My “Secret Ops of the CIA” calendar arrived today. (Previously.)

The WP, for once, wasn’t wrong: it really is a beautiful piece of work, and I think it is worth every penny the creator is asking for it.

(My favorite entry? April. Because 1) my birth month, 2) Stingers, 3) Charlie Wilson.)

I heartily endorse this event or product. (#14 in a series)

Saturday, January 7th, 2017

EZ Frame Fixer
2308 E. Cesar Chavez #A
Austin, TX 78702
512-391-9900

For various and uninteresting reasons, I needed to do something about my prescription glasses. And I wanted to do something relatively cheap that didn’t involve new lenses, since I plan to go see my eye doctor in the near future and will probably wind up with a new prescription.

Lenscrafters doesn’t make the frame I need any longer, couldn’t repair the existing frame, and told me they couldn’t move the lenses to another frame since they were sized specifically for that frame. (I would have figured that frame sizes are pretty standard, but..)

They gave me EZ Frame Fixer’s number and suggested I give them a shot.

Thing #1: When I called and asked if they were open today, the guy who answered the phone said, “I can be.” It appears their “official” hours are Monday-Friday 10 AM to 5:30 PM, but the guy (“Christino”, I think, according to their business card) basically told me, “I live eight blocks away. Come on down, call me when you get there, and I’ll come over and open up.”

Thing #2: So I got down there, and he was already at the shop. Went in, laid the glasses on the counter, showed him what was wrong (the arm on one side had come detached from the hinge)…

Me: “The guys at Lenscrafters said you might be able to solder this, but the hinge may not fold any more. I’m okay with that…”

Him: “No, when I do a job, I do it right. (Emphasis added- DB) It’ll work.”

And it does. He fixed the glasses for me while I waited, charged only $30, and they work perfectly. You can’t even tell they’ve been repaired.

I suspect most people just throw away their broken frames. Why bother getting anything repaired any more, when you can just get cheap crap online and throw it away? But it is nice to find somebody who can do this kind of work if you need it, who will go out of the way to help you on the weekend, and has that old world sense of craftsmanship.

I don’t know what your other choices in Austin for eyeglass repair are, but if you need frames repaired, give EZ Frame Fixer a call.

The story you are about to hear is true.

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

Today was pretty much a write-off. You know how it is, one of those days where you end up feeling you got nothing productive done, and all you can do is give up on the day and tell yourself you’ll do better tomorrow.

I was at loose ends for dinner, so I went down to the Mandola’s Italian Market in Bee Cave. (They have some good happy hour appetizer specials, and a soup I like. I wasn’t really that hungry, having had a bowl of noodles from DFG Noodles (one of the few bright spots in the day) for lunch, so I figured a cup of soup and some cheese would do me.)

Anyway, guy behind the counter asks me how my day’s been. It’s slow (this is before the dinner rush on a weekday) so I tell him what I just told you about the whole day being a write-off, etc. I pay, they bring my food out to me, I eat…

…and as i’m sitting there sipping my drink, the guy from behind the counter, Jonathan (not 100% on the spelling there) walks up to me, hands me a chocolate eclair, and says, “Here. This is on me. I hope it makes your day a little better.”

Which it did. What can you say to that except, “Thanks, Jonathan.”? Which I did say, just for the hysterical record.

I’ll also be emailing Mandola’s tomorrow morning, but I wanted to get this up tonight.

Art, damn it, art! watch (#52 in a series)

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

I am backing the Kickstarter for The Jerry Orbach Memorial Art Car.

Why?

1) He’s not asking for a (relative) lot of money, and the rewards tiers are reasonable. $10 for four bumper stickers? I don’t think you can get bumper stickers for that price at the gun show.

2) Brandon Bird, who I have written about before in this space, is the person behind it. I have faith in his ability to deliver.

Consider this an endorsement. Let’s make The Jerry Orbach Memorial Art Car a reality. You’ve probably blown $6 this week on a bad lunch: why not brown bag it one day and throw a few bucks to the memory of Jerry Orbach?

(Shame he lives in LA, though. There’s a pretty active art car scene in Houston, and he could get an old DPS car from the state surplus store.)

Edited to add: Mike the Musicologist made a good point to me: Orbach seems to mostly be remembered for his LawnOrder work, but he did a lot of stuff before that (as the true cognoscenti know).

On the one hand, I understand why Brandon Bird focuses on Lennie Briscoe (and I find his story about how Briscoe changed his life oddly touching). On the other hand, I agree with Mike too, and wanted to find something non-Lennie to throw in here: I just couldn’t find anything I liked.

Fortunately, Mike saved me the trouble.

(And I’d really like to see that production of “Chicago” with Orbach as Billy Flynn.)

Random notes, philosophical asides, bookmarks, endorsements, and other things.

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Some things I think are interesting, some I want to bookmark, some I want to plug, something for everyone, a comedy tonight! I am going to try to put these in some kind of rough topic order…

“Introduction to GPU Password Cracking: Owning the LinkedIn Password Dump”.

I Sea, “a mobile app that claimed to help users locate refugees adrift at sea”, appears to be a complete fraud.

The developers swapped information, including screen shots of a static image and a weather tool that one person claimed was used to mislead users into thinking they were looking at live images of the sea. Others noted that the app had been coded to tell users that their login credentials were invalid.

Bonus: the NYT mentions my third favorite security blogger, @SwiftOnSecurity. (Sorry, SecuriTay, but I’ve had my photo taken with the Krebster, and I know Borepatch. Third is still good enough for a medal, if this was the Olympics.)

And it isn’t just that the coding is screwy: PopSci makes a pretty strong argument that what I Sea claims to do is physically and logistically impossible.

To provide images of 1 percent of the total area of the Mediterranean would run over $1 million. And that’s just for one set of still photos. If the app were to provide up-to-date imaging, as it claims, the images would need to be refreshed regularly, at $1 million each time. And that cost is for unprocessed data, Romeijn says. Processing will cost more, as will the licensing fees required to make those images available to the public.

And those satellites make one pass a day, so you’re not getting “real-time” imaging, no way, no how.

The Oakland PD mess, summarized. Yes, I’m linking to an anonymous person on Facebook, but much of the information in this summary has already been reported in the media: this is more of a handy round-up if you haven’t been following this mess from the start. (Hattip: Popehat on the Twitter.)

And speaking of Popehat: the guys get shirts! Women, too. I just ordered mine: not only is $23 very reasonable for a shirt these days, and not only do I like Popehat, but I think Cotton Bureau does good stuff. (You may remember them from the BatLabels “Henchman” shirts, which are back in print! Hoorah!)

Flaming hyena #32: Democratic congressman Chaka Fattah.

In addition to racketeering conspiracy, Fattah was found guilty of bribery, bank fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, making false statements to a financial institution, and falsification of records.

A bunch of other folks took the fall with him, including Herbert Vederman:

Through cash payments to the congressman’s children, college tuition payments for his au pair and $18,000 given to help purchase a vacation home in the Poconos, prosecutors said, Vederman bought Fattah’s support in seeking appointment by the Obama White House to an ambassadorship.

(Hattip on this one to Mike the Musicologist.)

Prominent (well, in Chicago, anyway) Chicago journalist Neil Steinberg decides to pull the old “look how easy it is to buy an assault rifle” trick. So he goes to a gun store…

…and they deny his purchase because he’s a drunken wife-beater. (I have seen other versions of this story that state BATF first issued a “delay”, then a “deny” (BATF doesn’t have to give a reason for “deny”), Steinberg threatened to write that they were “denying” his purchase because he was a journalist, and the gun shop then decided to point out that he was a drunken wife-beater. However, this version seems to me to be to be the best sourced, and it doesn’t mention any BATF verdict.)

But at least he had the good taste to go with a Smith and Wesson M&P 15.

Just got paid today…

Friday, March 18th, 2016

…so I feel comfortable asking you to give money to a cause I believe is worthy. As I’ve stated before, my policy is: I don’t ask you to donate for things I haven’t donated to myself.

Short version: Alexis Nicole is eight years old, and a competitive shooter. Her grandfather was taking her for training last week when he was killed in a car accident.

Longer version of the story from Oleg Volk here.

YouCaring page for donations to help with medical and funeral expenses here.

Hattip on this to the great and good Erin Palette.

I heartily endorse this event or product. (#13 in a series)

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

The Cotton Bureau is doing another run of HENCHMAN t-shirts.

You can also get HENCHWOMAN t-shirts as well.

And you can get them in youth sizes, and even in a onesie.

These shirts are brought to you by way of the Batman 66 Labels project, aka “my new favorite thing on the Internet ever“. How can you not buy a HENCHMAN t-shirt after seeing this?

Seriously, I own one of the shirts from the first run, and think it is a fine shirt. If you have children, you should purchase at least one for each of them. Orders are being taken through March 23rd.

(I’m not getting any kickback for this: I just really like my shirt, and Batman 66 Labels.)

After action report: Spokane, WA.

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

The Smith and Wesson Collector’s Association annual symposium was in Spokane this year.

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Like an oncoming train.

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Christmas is coming. But you don’t have a lot of time to shop and get physical objects delivered.

What to do? What. To. Do.

Well, if the object of gift giving has a Kindle or something like it, ebooks make fine gifts. And they can be delivered, even on Christmas morning.

I just finished, and enthusiastically recommend, Brian Krebs’ Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime-from Global Epidemic to Your Front Door. It isn’t quite the general book about spam I was expecting. His Krebsness is mostly writing about the Russian pharmacy spam gangs and their internecine warfare. There’s a lot of good stuff in Spam Nation; I’d recommend it for anyone in your life who has a interest in computers, computer security, or spam.

Another book that I really enjoyed this year is Amy Alkon’s Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck, an etiquette guide for the modern age. Much of her advice is based on the latest developments in cognitive science, too, so it isn’t just a list of arbitrary rules. Also enthusiastically recommended, for just about everyone. (With the possible exception of very small children. But if you have a late pre-teen or teenager on your list, I think they could get a lot out of this.)