Monday, December 14, 2015

Just a Rifle

Yet again, there's a dubious photo meme going around on Facebook.

Just a Rifle
I'm not going to try to make a case that you should not be allowed to purchase an AR-15 rifle like the one at the bottom of the image. I just want to point out that this whole "just a rifle" argument is disingenous. Rifles have different designs for different purposes, and terminology has adapted to describe those purposes. Not all rifles are made equal.

According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, an "assault rifle" is a "military firearm that is chambered for ammunition of reduced size or propellant charge and that has the capacity to switch between semiautomatic and fully automatic fire." By design, they are easy to carry, have a high rate of fire, carry a large amount of ammunition in the magazine, and reload quickly by changing the mazagine. The only distinction that the civilian model at the bottom has from a military weapon is that the civilian weapon is not capable of fully automatic fire.

The first (top) rifle in the image is a lever-action rifle. Today, they are designed mostly for hunting at moderate range. Looking at online advertisements, they are available in a wide range of calibers. The magazine typically seems to hold about 10 rounds of ammunition, which would have to be loaded into the weapon individually. The weapon must be cocked by lowering and raising the lever before every shot, which will limit its rate of fire, but if you went on a crazy shooting spree with this weapon, you could probably shoot ten people before you had to stop and reload, allowing potential victims to either escape or attack you.

The second is a bolt-action rifle, also typically used for hunting these days, although military sniper rifles are also frequently bolt-action rifles. Generally used with a scope, they are accurate at long ranges. The World War 2 era rifle that I own myself holds 5 rounds in the magazine; these can be loaded individually or loaded all at once using a "stripper clip" that holds all five rounds together in the right orientation for loading. These rifles typically use a powerful cartridge like the .30-06 round (7.62 mm). The bolt-action must be manually worked before every shot. If this was your weapon on a shooting spree, you could potentially hit from a large distance, but you would still probably only be able to hit a few people before your victims scrambled for cover.

And finally, the third weapon, which is also "just a rifle". The design is military, although the fully automatic fire capability is removed for the civilian market. For the military, it is intended to fire a lot of bullets in a short time at moderate range. As far as I know, civilians typically buy such weapons for home defense, plus just liking the idea of owning such a weapon. The AR-15 fires .223 caliber ammunition (5.56 mm): a small but fast bullet. The civilian model is semi-automatic, loading a fresh round into the chamber after every shot, allowing you to fire as quickly as you can aim and pull the trigger. I found online ads for AR-15 magazines holding anywhere from 10 to 40 rounds of ammunition. By design, the magazine can be detached when empty and quickly replaced with a full one. If this was your weapon on a shooting spree, and you had practiced with it, you could reasonably expect to shoot dozens of people.

I am not against gun ownership. As I said, I have a rifle myself. In it's time, my Mosin-Nagant was a military combat rifle.

I am against bad arguments for anything. Pretending that there is no difference between the three rifles in that picture is dishonest. You don't need 40 rounds of .223 semi-automatic fire for deer hunting; a weapon like the AR-15 is meant to kill people.

Sure, "assault" is an action, but it is also a design specification.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Gun for Home Defense

A popular argument against gun regulation is that "good guys with guns stop bad guys with guns" and "we need guns to protect our homes".

According to a study conducted by Emory University, a gun in the house is over 20 times more likely to be used to harm a resident than to fight off an intruder.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Not Exactly Gumbo

This one consists of onions and garlic sauteed in olive oil, sausage, shrimp, cheese tortellini, additional pasta, and chicken broth.


One chopped onion goes into the pan first, along with some salt, pepper, dried thyme, basil, and oregano.  They cook over medium heat until the onions are translucent, then a chopped clove of garlic goes in for a bit.

The sausage is half a link of a spicy sausage I got at the European Market & Deli, diced up and added to the pan for another few minutes.

The shrimp were frozen, so I put them in the pan, covered it, and let it cook for a couple of minutes to thoroughly thaw them.

Finally, I added frozen tortellini and a couple of shaped pastas, then added about a quart of chicken broth to cover everything. I brought up the heat to high until it was boiling, then dropped to low and covered it for ten minutes.

Turned out really good.

Death Star Conspiracy

A new conspiracy theory has emerged on Facebook.


Like conspiracy theories typically are, this one is full of holes:
  • Darth Vader was not in command of the Death Star; Grand Moff Tarkin was.
  • Darth Vader didn't build R2-D2; that droid was built before he was born.
  • There is no record of Darth Vader having children.
  • The exhaust port was not two feet wide: it was two meters wide; there are kids on Tatooine who can hit a target that size from a skyhopper.
These conspiracy nuts clearly don't want to acknowledge the very simple failures that lead to the loss of the Death Star.
  • If the Imperial intelligence services had been doing their jobs properly, the schematics for the station would never have fallen into rebel hands in the first place.
  • If every single gun turret on the station hadn't been designed to shoot at cruisers with no regard to the possible threat of fighters, the rebel attack would have been quickly repelled.
  • If the exhaust port had been fully shielded instead of just ray-shielded, there would have been no rebel attack at all.
This is yet another smear campaign aimed at Darth Vader simply because he was the sole survivor of the Death Star, when logs of the battle show that he was the only one who took action when it became apparent that the station's gun turrets could not rotate quickly enough to target starfighters. He ordered his squadron of fighters to repel the attack, placing himself at risk to lead the defense.

We should be glad he survived instead of trying to blame the Death Star fiasco on him.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Classics, of course

The Wolf Man


Psycho


And there are always flying monkeys to worry about.


Dracula



White Zombie, in its entirety.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Porcelain

A short piece made by an SCA friend of mine.


And I'm adding this bit of disturbia that I found on Facebook this morning.

Posted by Secretcha Phet Cha on Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Monday, October 26, 2015

Shelob

And something less likely to creep out the arachnophobes.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Hall of Mirrors

Quite possibly the most ridiculous fight scene ever. Certainly a contender.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Big Hero 6

Of course, it could have been so much simpler.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Hidden

Classic sci-fi horror from the 80's. Plus Claudia Christian!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Selfies


Okay, no more selfies for me.. Trending NowTag your friend that takes too many selfies!
Posted by Trending Now on Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Age of Tinman


That was too short to be the only post of the day.


And as long as we're on the Avengers.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Cookie Rage!

This one is probably more gruesome than you're expecting. Also uses adult language.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Force vs Magic

We've had Star Wars. We've had Harry Potter. Time for both at once!


Thursday, October 08, 2015

Black Magic

This situation really could have been avoided.


The worst ones tell you that you deserve it.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Rewarded for Rocking the Boat

As you may have heard, two scientists received the Nobel Prize in Physics for showing that a widely accepted theory had some flaws.

I bring this up because some climate change deniers or evolution deniers say scientists are just following the party line on things like climate and biology. You don't get a Nobel Prize for following the party line: you get a Nobel Prize for making an important discovery.

According to the widely accepted Standard Model of particle physics, neutrinos are mass-less particles, like photons. Despite the predictions of this well-established model, Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B. McDonald -- working independently -- were able to show that neutrinos behaved in ways that were only possible if they did have mass. They showed that the Standard Model was not entirely correct (although it certainly still does work in most cases).

So the idea that scientists can't get funded or published if their claims contradict the establishment is absurd. Contradicting the establishment is exactly what gets a scientist recognition. The thing is, they have to produce the evidence to show that their contradictory claim is correct.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Halloween videos.

Voila! The ZF-1!

Monday, October 05, 2015

Til Death Do Us Part

A suggestion from Brandy.

If you're not a country music fan...

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Friday, October 02, 2015

Bad to the "Bone"

Today's theme is music.



And I suppose I should have at least one shark-themed video this year, so...

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Physics

This one seems to take a surprisingly long time to queue up, but it's funny.


A Tale of Momentum & Inertia from HouseSpecial on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Pro Life

Donating bone marrow is something that most people can do to save lives. The procedure is done in a hospital and requires the donor to be placed under general anesthesia. Needles are inserted through both sides of the back of the pelvic bone to extract liquid marrow. This liquid is then sent to the patient who requires it. Common side effects include back or hip pain, fatigue, throat pain, muscle pain, insomnia, headache, dizziness, loss of appetite, and nausea. They are generally gone within two days of the procedure. The median time to full recovery for a marrow donation is 20 days, although it can take up to a year. Due to the life-saving benefits and minimal risks of the procedure, donation is mandatory. Effective immediately, all adults shall be required to donate bone marrow as often as possible, unless they have a medical exemption.

Platelet donation is a procedure that can be performed in the offices of a blood donation organization such as the Red Cross. Platelets are often needed for patients undergoing chemotherapy or organ transplants. During the procedure, blood is extracted from the donor, platelets are separated from the other blood components, and the rest of the blood (with some supplementary fluid) is returned to the patient. An anticoagulant is also administered to aid in the collection process. The procedure typically takes about two hours, after which the donor can typically resume normal activity, although they should avoid heavy lifting for the rest of the day. Effective immediately, all adults are required to donate platelets as often as possible unless they are making other tissue donations that would prohibit platelet donations or are medically ineligible to donate.

Effective immediately, all citizens are organ and tissue donors. Upon death, all viable organs and tissues will be collected and sent to waiting patients. Everyone will need to be pretested for organ matching to expedite the process, which will help save people in need of life-saving donations. Participation is mandatory.

When everyone is okay with all of these pro-life policies, we can talk about outlawing abortion. If we are going to require women to donate nine months of their lives to save a fetus while taking the risks associated with pregnancy and childbirth, everyone can take lesser risks to make donations that will save the lives of people who have already been born.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Cracked Facts

I'm now pretty sure that the lists of "facts" that go up on Cracked.com and get shared all over Facebook and other social media are not checked to be sure they're factual. Case in point:


I find that hard to believe, since Harrison Ford starred in American Graffiti, a successful George Lucas movie that came out four years before Star Wars.

In other news, lately I seem to be especially snarky about (dis)information shared over social media.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

No License Required

At least that's what "Todd Foster" (if that's his real name) claims.


I'm more than a little dubious about his claim. He bases his argument mostly on legal statements that go back to the mid-nineteenth century, well before motorized vehicles were commonplace. If you can't come up with a precedent from the age of automobiles, I don't think you have much of a case.

He says there's no law against driving without a license for personal, non-commercial travel, but I took the liberty of looking up Tennessee law on the subject and found the following:
TN Code section 55-50-301: No person, except those expressly exempted in this section, shall drive any motor vehicle upon a highway in this state unless the person has a valid driver license under the provisions of this chapter for the type or class of vehicle being driven.
So it would appear that it is at least illegal to drive without a license on a "highway".

Foster's video strikes me as the sort of thing which is likely to get some gullible citizen arrested or fined (or killed, given recent police excesses) because they unquestioningly accept his claim. It's libertarian nonsense, based on quote mines of case law that probably isn't applicable or has at least been superseded by subsequent law and court precedent.

Of course, I'm not a legal expert, so I can't say with certainty that his claims are complete BS, but I don't think I'm the one making an extraordinary claim here. Besides, he can prove his claims quite easily.

He can let his license expire (assuming he has one, which I bet he does), and then publicly announce that he is going to go on a cross-country drive (or even just a long intrastate drive, like Miami to Pensacola in his home state of Florida). In the announcement, dare the state police to arrest him for driving without a license, giving them his plate number, vehicle description, planned route, and date(s) of travel. When they do, all he needs to do is use his cited precedents to challenge the arrest in court and win.

Until then, I'll keep my license current.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Circulating Nonsense

The disinformation super-highway has done it again.

People are circulating an article with the headline "Civil War museum closed, Confederate artifacts burned" in complete seriousness. The first line of the article, visible in the Facebook post, is:
"On the heels of the Confederate flag controversy, the City Council of Harrisburg voted to permanently close the doors of the Civil War Museum last week."
Some of the comments from the thread on Facebook where I saw it include the following:
  • "And all those other times when people decided to burn / erase history and artifacts from the past: How did that turn out? Did it ever turn out good?"
  • "In the tradition of the Taliban, ISIS, Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and the Red Chinese Cultural Revolution to just go back 90 years or so... and just to name a few... statists are insane."
  • "Rewriting history is classic Soviet behavior."
  • "Go authoritarian fascism"
When I looked at the headline, I immediately suspected that the article was a hoax. Do people really swallow such an absurd headline with no checking at all?

It took me less than ten seconds to find the website of the The National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA. Apparently the article has been getting shared a lot, because they had this statement on the home page.
In light of the situation in the current press, The National Civil War Museum has issued the following statement:
The Board of Directors of The National Civil War Museum have no intentions of closing the museum and we will be conducting business as usual.
The post links to a site called "The People's Cube" which looks like a troll site. Seriously, just look at it for a second and it's obvious.

How foolish have we become that we accept such a blatant troll article at face value?

Monday, July 13, 2015

To the Rescue!

This showed up in my office email:
Greetings to you, how are you doing today and i hope you are up and strong, am very sorry to write you at this moment cos its late to tell you that i made an urgent successful trip to Phillipines MANILA with my fam. On the way coming back, got mugged at gun point and all fund and valuable items including all our phones. The worst scenario is that, i am owing the hotel right now and i must pay all bills to get out of here. $ 2,750 USD is urgently needed right now to pay the hotel bills, promise to pay back ASAP we made it home.

Kindly get back to me ASAP you receive this mail, cos i hope on you.

Sincerely, [Friend's name]
The "From" address is my friend's Yahoo email address. I have no reason to suspect that this friend is anywhere near Manila, so I'm quite sure that it's a trick to get some money. I did notify them via Facebook that I think their Yahoo account has been hacked.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Mad Lib Time!

I haven't done one of these in ages, but recent events reminded me that I once did them, so without further ado...

1. An amount of time
2. An event
3. A collective thing
4. Verb (past tense)
5. Adjective
6. A date
7. Verb (present participle)
8. State of being
9. State of being
10. State of being
11. Possessive noun
12. Adverb
13. Verb
14. Verb
15. Verb
16. A holiday

I will mix the best responses into a new post, and put individual responses in its comments.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Sharktopus!

Sharktopus Poster
I found a source of cheap DVDs in my area. I picked up Sharktopus for $0.99. I live-commented about it on Facebook, and I have copied the transcript here so you can share my pain.

You may want to view the trailer before you start reading.

My live commentary begins after the jump.

Also, see my review at Badmovies.org.

Job Offer

I got two copies of this email to the same corporate email address within 14 minutes.
Hi... We Have a PT/job. we pay $250 per job and we want you to participate. Your job is only to act as a regular customer and conduct normal business, Customer service is valuable.Please complete contact information below Full Name: Address: City: State: Zip/Postal Code: Alternate E-mail: Cell Phone Number Home Phone Number ALT Email Address AGe Present occupation AVAILABILITY Days/Hours Available Hours Available: from _______ to ______ We await your urgent response.
 My guess is that it's an identity theft scam.

Monday, June 08, 2015

More Phishy Email

This one is just some jackass trying to get a foot in the door of the corporate network.

As usual, the horrible grammar gives it away, although the signature kind of gives an excuse for that. On the other hand, we have no reason to be doing business with a Chinese food distributor, so that's a fail of its own.

A good phisher should know the waters and have the right kind of bait. This phisher is apparently just throwing out as many lines as possible: quantity over quality.

Monday, June 01, 2015

UN Holding My Money

This looks intriguing. I've apparently inherited money from a relative or acquaintance that I didn't know existed, and the United Nations is trying to make sure I receive it, in spite of corruption.
UNITED NATIONS ORGANIZATION PALAIS DES NATIONS, 1211 GENEVA 10,
SWITZERLAND.

Attention Fund Beneficiary/ Email Owner.

IRREVOCABLE PAYMENT ORDER VIA ATM CARD

we have actually been authorized by the United Nation, and the International Monetary Fund, to investigate the unnecessary delay on the payment approved in your favor.
During the course of our investigation, we discovered with dismay that your payment has been unnecessarily Delayed by corrupt officials of the Bank who are Trying to divert your funds into their private accounts.

To forestall this, security for your funds was organized in the form of your personal Identification number (PIN) ATM CARD and this will enable only you to have direct Control over your funds in the ATM CARD.
We will monitor this payment ourselves to avoid the hopeless situation created by the Officials of the bank.

An irrevocable payment guarantee has been issued by the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on your Payment. However, we are happy to inform you that based on our recommendation/Instructions; your complete Inheritance funds have been credited in your favor through ATM VISA CARD.

You are therefore advice to contact: Mr.  Brine World,
Director ATM Payment Department
(Intercontinental Benin Republic)
Email Address: XXXXX.com

Contact him now and tell him to advise you on how to receive your ATM CARD.  As soon as you establish a contact with him, an ATM card will be issued to you immediately which you can use to withdraw your funds in any Bank ATM Machine in your Country, but the maximum to withdraw is
5000 per day.

When contacting him, contact him with your data as stated below:

1. Your Full Name:
2. Address Where You Want the Courier Company to Send Your ATM Card
3. Your Age:
4. Occupation:
5. Telephone Numbers:
6. Country:

NOTE: You are advised to furnish Mr. Brine World with your correct and valid details; Also be informed that your ATM CARD is valued 
1,000,000,00GBP. Congratulations.

MESSAGE FROM THE PRO
UNITED NATIONS ORGANIZATION.
What is the scam, I wonder? Identity theft seems obvious, given the information they've requested. I suppose there will be some costs to get "my" ATM card set up, so there's advance fee fraud, as well.

The email address is an anonymous account, of course. Why would the World Director of the ATM Payment Department at the World Bank Group have a corporate email address?

Have scammers never interacted with a real bank, such that they could come up with a convincing email address? Have they never run the grammar/spelling check on a word processor? Could I get paid to proofread their scam emails?

I suppose it's just as well that these guys are incompetent at thievery.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Adventures of EmoMage

As I may have mentioned, when I started playing Dragon Age: Inquisition, I decided to make the most emo-looking character I could. Since then, I've been experimenting with the video capture feature of my PS4 and Adobe Premier editing.

The result is a series of short videos of EmoMage in action. I'm editing out the gameplay and just showing the cut scenes so she's shown in all of her emo glory. These will include some spoilers, so don't watch if you are concerned about that possibility.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Malibu Shark Attack (2009)

"Malibu Shark Attack" on Hulu. This is a 2009 killer shark movie from Insight Film Studios, which appears to work out of Australia.

IMDB summary: When a tsunami floods Malibu, it brings with it a hunting pack of deep-water, prehistoric goblin sharks that go after the lifeguards in their half-submerged station on stilts and a team of construction workers stranded in a flooded house.

Here’s the trailer.


I shared my experience live on Facebook. The transcript is below the fold.