TV Review: Blindspot

November 23rd, 2015

A friend suggested I check out  new action show on television called Blindspot.

“You’ll love it!” she gushed.  “It has the most gunfights of any show I’ve ever seen!”

Oh, okay.  But I thought Westerns weren’t popular anymore?

old west gunfight

“It isn’t a Western.  It takes place in modern times.”

Celebrity Sightings In New York City - September 10, 2015

Alright, I decided to give it a go.

The premise is that a naked woman is discovered in Times Square, suffering from amnesia and covered in tattoos.

The tattoos hold clues to serious crimes and conspiracies, so the FBI race to decipher the tats in order to prevent such things as terrorist attacks and the like.

Okay, fine.  Interesting premise.  Shows promise, I’d say.

The problem I had right out of the gate is how an extremely small team of three FBI agents are dispatched to investigate clues that are gleaned from the ink, and they let the amnesiac woman tag long!

Hell’s bells, people!  Her skin is covered in clues about crimes and conspiracies!  Doesn’t it occur to anyone that she most likely is complicit?  And, when they discover that she has had extensive weapon and military training, no one seems to think that is a bad thing!

Okay okay.  Let me just take a look at Episode One an see what they do with it.

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Trouble Brewing

November 12th, 2015

trouble Brewing

An old picture, but one I enjoy anyway.

Pop That Pepper

November 6th, 2015

It was way back circa 1990 or so.  I was working for my local police department as a fingerprint technician, and just about every law enforcement agency in the country was urging their officers to use pepper spray.

magnum can of pepper spray

Tear gas had been in use since just after World War I, but a number of suspects had died while in police custody after being sprayed.  Wrongful death lawsuits were being filed, and most departments were tying to find ways to keep the lawyers at bay.  Maybe they could find some measure of immunity if they switched to a kindler, gentler form of persuading the bad guys to give up and come peacefully.

police officer with defensive spray

It would eventually turn out that the suspects which died had serious medical problems which killed them, mostly heart attacks brought about by the drugs they had gulped down before the cops arrived.  But it took some time for that to be determined, and police officers were urged to give up their tear gas sprays for pepper.

I would be the last person to claim that pepper spray is useless, but the sad fact of the matter is that it just isn’t as potent and effective as the good ol’ tear gas sprays.  While some departments made the switch, most law enforcement agencies in the United States decided to keep the good stuff on hand.  What ain’t broke….

There was one aspect to this whole issue that tuned out to be very interesting.  Dried pepper compound can be loaded into common paintballs, and paintball guns can be used to deliver the burning goodness.

pepper paintballs

If there is a protest or riot in a built up area, the crowd can be peppered with pepper paintballs.  That way only the violent mob can suffer the sting of police largess, while using traditional tear gas bombs would inflict innocent and guilty alike as the clouds drifted where they may.

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Ammunition Upgrade

November 4th, 2015

The FBI was involved in a deadly shootout in 1986.  They decided to shun handguns chambered for the 9mm Parabellum round afterwards as being too ineffective.

pile of 9mm parabellum cartridges

Bullet technology is like any other technology.  If there is money to made by developing an improved product, someone is going to put on a lab coat and try to build a better mousetrap.

scientific study

Seems that advances in ammunition design has prompted the FBI to switch back to the good old 9mm.  (Hat tip to Glenn.)  Load up with the new and improved, and the same guns which fell short in 1986 will now get the job done.  A big reason for the change is the impressive capacity that comes with carrying a 9mm autoloader.

beretta p92fs magazine with 17 rounds of ammunition

Okay, so a huge Federal law enforcement agency is going to use more effective ammunition.  Why should you care?  It isn’t like you have access to easily understood test data so you can make an informed choice about your own defensive loads.

Well, actually, you do!

The good folks at Lucky Gunner, an online ammunition seller, have conducted the tests you need.  They also tested other calibers besides the 9mm, so you can see how each round stacks up.

lucky gunner gelatine ballistic test

Simple, easy to use, and with every step of the testing process explained so you can decided for yourself if they know what they were doing.  What is not to like?

James says check ’em out.  The FBI aren’t the only people who might have to clear leather in order to save innocent lives.


“All You Need For A Movie Is A Gun And A Girl.”

October 31st, 2015


(Please click on all pictures to see the animation.)

noir revolver fire

noir revolver fire 2

girl fires revolver

more noir revolver fire

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Positives And Negatives

October 26th, 2015

The Journal of Criminology has published an interesting study concerning the long term effects found in states which issue concealed handgun licenses (CHL).

scientific study

The found that the number of people who carry concealed has no great effect on crime rates.  This seems to run counter to the most prevalent argument in favor of concealed carry laws, that more people carrying guns will prevent violent crime.  But it also pretty much destroys the most common tactic used by those favoring increased gun control, that increasing the number of law abiding citizen carrying guns will lead to increased violence.  Six of one ….

One thing I found very interesting is that the authors of the study concluded that the greatest predictor of people applying for a CHL was the number of gun stores in their area.

another handgun at the time of firing

It seems that people most often go to gun stores to get the training required by law to apply for the license, and so access to training classes determines how many people can sign up for a class.

The authors caution all that this is but one study, and more research is needed before any rock-solid conclusions can be drawn.  So take everything with a very healthy dose of salt.

What Is The Worst That Can Happen?

October 22nd, 2015

spider farm nuclear power plant

Get The Lead Out

October 20th, 2015

I was at the shooting range with two students just the other day.  We were having a big problem with constant jams when they were trying to fire their handguns chambered for the .22 Long Rifle cartridge.

practice at the range

The problems were always the same, either failure to feed or failure to extract.  What does that mean, anyway?

Failure to feed is that the cartridge would only go into the chamber a short distance before getting hung up, half in and half out.  The gun wouldn’t go into battery, and so couldn’t be fired.

failure to extract failure to feed

(Not the actual gun discussed above.)

Failure to extract is the same thing, but it is when the gun is trying to get a cartridge out of the chamber instead of putting one into the chamber.  It pretty much looks the same, with a cartridge stuck half in/half out.

So what caused this annoying and recurring problem?  My students were both long time shooters themselves, and had brought along their own ammunition.  It turns out that the .22 ammo they were using was so old, the exposed lead bullets had started to oxidize.

Okay, so what do I mean by that?  The dark lead had started to turn white.


The white part swells up a little bit, and gets a hard and rough texture.  No wonder the cartridges didn’t want to go fully into the chamber, and it is no wonder they would get stuck as soon as they were jammed in there.

Hey, wait a minute!  I said that the lead oxidizes!  That is what happens when steel and iron rusts!  Am I really claiming that an inert metal such as lead will rust like iron?

rusty gun

Well, yeah, I suppose.  It will mix with the oxygen in the air to produce a new chemical compound.  Isn’t that what happens when something rusts?

This is something that can be prevented, all one has to do is keep the exposed lead bullets from oxygen when storing the ammunition.  One can coat the bullets with cosmoline or other pasty goo, or seal the ammo up in an airtight container with an oxygen scavenging packet.  It isn’t particularly hard or expensive to do.

The ammunition my students were using, however, had been purchased some time in the 1960’s through the 1970’s.  No effort had been made to package it for long term storage, with the cardboard boxes languishing in garages and the back of closets for the past half century.  The thought was that it was finally time to shoot off those old boxes of twenty-two, so they brought them to the range.  No surprise that the bullets were white and crusty.

badly oxidized lead bullets

(Still not the ammunition being discussed.)

The fact that they were trying to shoot cartridges that couldn’t be chambered illustrates two failures.

The first is that even experienced shooters will come across issues that they haven’t encountered from time to time.  They both knew what they were doing, but only when dealing with new and smooth ammunition.  They had seen that the lead bullets had turned white, but thought nothing of it when loading their guns.

The second failure is that even experienced instructors have to act as if their students are complete newbies all of the time.  I hadn’t checked their ammo because of course no one who knew what they were doing would deliberately load up deteriorated ammo in their guns.  That was just a crazy talk right there!

So what happened with the oxidized ammo?

There are ways to restore oxidized bullets, from using fancy solvents to just scraping the white away and polishing the bullets smooth.  But, c’mon, we are talking about common .22 Long Rifle ammunition!  Instead of going through all that effort new ammo was purchased and shot, while the old white ammo was safely disposed of.

Is This Counted As European Martial Arts?

October 11th, 2015

The headline reads Indiana Woman Uses ‘Cosplay’ Combat Skills To Capture Intruder With Ninja Sword.  (Hat tip to Glenn.)

The author of the essay is, quite obviously, an idiot.

Read the news story to see that the woman in question, Karen Dolley, is a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism.  This is a non-profit educational organization of international scope, dedicated to researching and selectively recreating aspects of European societies as they were prior to 1700 AD.

So why do I think the term “cosplay” is insulting?  Well, most people hear the word and think of this …

sexy cosplay emma frost

… and a more realistic image would be this.

Society for Creative Anachronism Fight Practice

Does this man that SCA training is useful in a real world setting?

Not directly, as it is focused on the use of armor.  That having been said, any sport that requires a degree of physical fitness is useful to prepare the individual for life-or-death situations.  It certainly seems to have given fair value to Ms. Dolley.

If you are interested in more realistic and less stylized European martial arts, I think that this YouTube channel will help.  Lots of good info, and the person who makes the videos is personable.

Giving It Away

October 9th, 2015

This essay discusses how the police in Gainesville, Georgia have issued a warning on their Facebook page.  It seems there is some concern that the bumper stickers adorning the family minivan can be used by criminals to glean all sorts of valuable information.  How many people are in the house, where the kids go to school, is there a dog as a pet.  Next thing you know, the bad guys are boldly breaking in to what they already know as a place where no one can resist them.

burglar breaking in through window

There is some precedent to such thinking.  The popular crime novel The Silence of the Lambs (1988)  features a serial killer who slaughters entire families within minutes of gaining entry to their home.  (As was so kindly pointed out in the comments, it was actually the book Red Dragon.  Thanks for the correction!)  He is virtually unstoppable because he knows everything there is before ever making his move, arriving in the middle of the night with a counter to every lock and security measure.  The twist is that the killer works at a company that develops film and photographs.   (Remember when people sent their photos away to be developed before they could look at them?)

strip of developed pictures

He chooses his victims based on what they look like in their home movies and snapshots, and then uses the same material to plan the crime.  Interior layout of the house, locks, windows, security systems, pets, obstacles.  It is all looked over and planned for long before the killer ever gets within a thousand miles of his intendeds.  All it takes is a few days of careful observation of the house to find out their normal routines, and the killer is ready to indulge in his sick hobby.

So we have to ask ourselves: How much of a danger is this to those of us out here in the real world?

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