Drones Over Berks

This story is amusing me greatly: Activists Drone Shot out of Sky for Fourth Time Their argument is that “canned hunts” are somehow unethical and unlawful. I think the obvious counter argument is that there’s nothing wrong with canned hunts anymore than a farmer walking up to a canned cow and shooting it in the head with his captive bolt gun. It’s just how farms work. If farmers actually gave the animals the same chance as the birds, they’d cut the cow loose in a field and have to chase it down. The birds are actually doing better than the livestock. Why don’t the cops seem to care? The reason is because the SHARK idiots are in violation of the PA state law. Chapter 34 Statute 2302 concerns Interfering With the Lawful Taking of Wildlife. The answer is – “You’re doing it”. One drone landed on the property, almost all the other drones enter the airspace of the club. If the club is wingshooting, there’s no difference between this and driving an ATV into a deer herd. More on the point the drone obviously comes down near the operators, but if there actually is someone in the woods, then the drone is out of control by their own admission and nearly hitting people. If it was a car, it would be reckless endangerment. Here’s the video they posted:

What’s conspicuously missing? The cloud of shot and the wadding. I would expect to see one (or both) on the videos. It’s more damning to them than the gun club to post this, so I took the liberty of mirroring it locally so I can repost it if the link goes down.

But the real comedy gold comes at the 2:42 minute mark (video quality is poor because they only uploaded at 480p)…

Does that look like a wire that’s been shot? Nope, you can clearly see the copper stranding, which is much thinner than the insulation, which means it wasn’t covered in insulation to begin with if the stranding is all exposed in different directions. My guess is they bought the drone at a yard sale for losers and just twisted the wires together (hence the stripped insulation) and when it fell out of the sky they decided it had to have been shot down. Then they spend three minutes yelling at nothing in the woods, and post it to youtube. Hur dur.


Oh Keltec, You’re Not Sig Sauer

I really want kel-tec not to suck. It’s pure oldschool american nostalgia, they’re the last company in America really innovating and selling to the American market. The problem is for everything they make, there’s just one killer feature which holds them back from being awesome. German weapons are always in a class of their own, so it’s unfair to compare American guns to German guns. But we can gripe about those common things we expect to be there and are missing.

The first person to say “But 22LR and 22mag suck” should have to swallow an entire lead ingot. The caliber is nonwithstanding.

The entire P- series of pistols: The slide is so low on the gun that most adult males get slideburn. If you’re a dude, you’ve got big hands. If you’ve got big ol’ meaty hands, you are going to get that little flap of skin between your thumb and pointer finger all bulging out. The bulge is going to get slide burn. The worst part is – the weapon cycles so reliably and is so nice to shoot that you won’t notice the slide burn until the gun slips out of your blood soaked hands. This might even be OK, if it weren’t your blood.

The PLR- line: I haven’t shot these, but it would seem like it desperately wants a carbine stock. Even a wire folder like poland made popular on their AK would be better than floating this. With the magazine so far forward and the barrel being as long as it is, I can’t imagine the Han Solo gun would be very nice to use. In real life, the Mauser C96 had a wooden stock. According to Keltec, it does accept a stock, but none is pictured and no part number is offered on their site.

The PMR-30: Feels like a Beretta Neos knockoff, but it’s missing the floating rail and carbine conversion. However it’s chambered in 22WMR, which gives it more power. Still, I can’t help but feel like this would have been better serviced as a 17HMR. With Volquartsen withdrawling their 17HMR cheetah from the market, this is a hot but neglected caliber. (Volquartsen used to deal exclusively with Ruger before they sold the brand, now they’re a botique gunsmith based out of Iowa).

The Sub-2000: Why use the rear sight as a pivot?

The SU- Rifles: These are the PLR pistols with ergonomic stocks, which seems to completely defeat the purpose. The stocks could have been like the C96 stocks or the AK74 folder, but they’re not. Also conspiciously missing are rails on everything but the SU-16D. The D gets it right by having a folding stock and rails, but the barrel is now longer too. With the barrel folding under, it can’t be done if the clip is too long or the wrong shape. It’s just frustrating. The 22LR version could have used a skinny clip, but you guessed it, they opted for a full sized clip and wasted the space.

The RFB: Woo American bullpup OH GOD WHY CAN’T IT USE BANANAMAGS? Again, I really wish it were designed differently. To their credit, the FAL magazine doesn’t have a severe arc. AK mags tend to bind just for that reason. FAL mags are almost always straight, even hi-cap mags.

I wish Kel Tec would be the last great American gun maker. Everyone else stands on the shoulders of Stoner and Kalashnikov, Kel Tec deserves kudos for trying to innovate. However what makes the German guns great is the fact that they pay attention to ergonomics, and this is something I wish Kel-Tec would take to heart.

Battlefield Bad Company 2: VIETNAM

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this add on. For one, it’s a lot of fun. It also brings back the fast rush gameplay since C4 (TNT) now does the old level of damage. On the other hand I spent a countless amount of hours playing the original vietnam, and it is not the original game. Hastings and the remake of Wake Island (the C shaped island with the carrier deployment) in the original are the two iconic Vietnam maps which got the most rotation. Both of these are conspicuously missing, minus the fact that Hastings will come out when they have 69 million player supporting actions (revives, etc). Or basically the end of January.

The good stuff is that the maps make decent use of the battlefield engine (frostbite). There’s a metric ton of trees and grasses and the battlefield engine does that particularly well. There’s PT boats and a variety of paths for good players to use to get between objectives. The problem is that the maps tend to feel cinematic rather than strategic. The other problem is that they all blend together. I played it for about three hours last night (counting the bottlecaps) and I can’t tell you which map is which. There’s nothing particularly distinctive about them except that one has a napalm strike and one has a temple. The temple could have been a cool urban-ish combat feature, but it’s not. The napalm strike turns into sniper wars since you walk out and go oh that’s COOL right before you realize there’s only one tunnel in and out and that’s the first thing that gets filled with flamethrowers and shotguns. Basically that’s the end of that map. Maybe the other team plays it badly or maybe your snipers are good enough to keep their heads down but if you make it through the tunnels you end up at the objectives and met with more flamethrowers and shotguns. I hate to say it but the maps, while they look cool, just aren’t as well built as the other maps for this game. Even the ones which they shoehorned into the other mode and then patched to move the MCOMs (white pass) are better built than the vietnam one. And what’s conspicuously missing is Heavy Metal, which would have been an awesome vietnam map but is an utter failure in the bad company 2 vanilla format. Finally, urban combat? Completely missing.

The classes have good balance. The engineer feels grossly underpowered. I barely silver starred the engineers machine gun. The RPG just doesn’t do enough damage. The medic does well, there’s no real gripes. The sniper takes quite awhile to get used to, the bullet drop isn’t there. The mortar strike is wonky. The anti-tank mines seem to do less damage, which is also a bad thing because it makes the engineer entirely unremarkable. You absolutely must have an assaulter follow you around since you’ll be running out of mines and RPGs. Even the extra explosives perk only gives you one extra, instead of doubling it. Finally the worst of the worst is that marking bad guys, even bad guys which should be terribly obvious (helos, tanks), only sticks around for 30 seconds or so.

Vehicles – vehicles are cool. The jeep is just about uncontrollable and slow which sucks because it makes it more of a target than a tactical helper. The jeep is useless. The tank is actually decent, it takes a good beating due to the engineer being useless. Tanks really get killed by TNT, otherwise things just marginally hurt it. The mortar strike, which used to be a super mortar strike with the explosives perk, only really hurts a tank about 10% to 20% of it’s health. The helo is a death machine. It’s fast and maneuverable and the guns on the side do stupid amounts of damage. On the other hand all the weapons hurt it, so on a half competent team even the engineer can kill it with small arms. Mostly though it seems like the bullet penetration is set to max because it’s not uncommon to shoot both gunners out of the helo. The PT boat people are bitching is too strong, it’s not. The trick is to shoot the driver and gunners with precision fire. The PT boat itself offers them no cover whatsoever, so a thumper or an RPG aimed at the crew will often clear the decks in one hit. People shooting at the boat itself are the people bitching it’s too strong. In fact one of my games had two PT boats consistently wrecking us, the solution was to shoot the driver so it was still enough I could make use of cover to shoot the gunners. (The other team went entirely sniper after that).

The really bad stuff I’ve saved for last and it really comes down to the flamethrower. It’s so powerful everyone is using it but the range is so short it’s reasonably balanced. If you’re using explosives perk as an assault, you can usually grenade them out of cover. On the other hand the flamethrower itself seems glitchy. People standing in water take fire damage for as long as you’re shooting them, but they go out immediately. People in the presence of a med pack don’t seem to catch on fire (or even take damage sometimes). There’s nothing to distinguish between friendly and enemy flame streams. You don’t hurt yourself with the flamethrower even firing it at your feet. The flame spread is cool, but as an assaulter I usually just toss down ammo, hold down arm and spin wildly shooting flames to put up a wall of death around me. It doesn’t set off C4, mines or TNT. It doesn’t blow down buildings. It takes awhile to clear brush with it. It’s not obvious if it gets buffed by explosives or magnum ammo. Finally the worst part is that you have to hit “reload” to transfer “ammo” from your “pouch” to your weapon. It’s just weird. If you let the game reload for you, the flamethrower sputters. It’s just buggy. The worst is the fact that it won’t burn down a building. Toss a grenade in the huts and it’ll blow the hut down. Hit it with a flamethrower and nothing happens (but weirdly enough the people inside get hurt even though the animation doesn’t show fire inside). I have a feeling they won’t fix it though.

Is it worth it? Yes. It’s fun. It brings back quick rush mode. The maps are neat despite their flaws and the flamethrower is hilarious. It would have been nice to see better maps and the vietnam weapons available in standard battlefield 2, but there’s enough there to justify the cost. What it really needs is tighter integration where multiplayer could be “battlefield 2”, “vietnam” or “both” just like rush or conquest can be sorted, or not. But these are things which can be patched, and I think the price was fair considering the amount of other freebies we got from DICE.

Regurgitating the Apple

This is absolutely worth a read. It’s a heritage.org aritcle about how liberals think.

The only thing that rubs me wrong is the invocation of Brokeback Mountain. Really it falls prey to itself here because Brokeback isn’t something used in line with the argument. In fact, the way it’s used is counter to the argument. The argument being made here is for self-determination and discrimination (or judgement). Brokeback is a movie about two cowboys who want to be gay on their ranch. Fine, great, it’s not my thing. If they had wanted to make the correct point, they should have pointed out towns where they have pride parades, etc. There’s no pride in being “straight” and they make the point with Desperate Housewives saying the message isn’t “you’ll make a great family” but that “your life will suck if you’re a housewife”. It’s the tyranny of standards argument being put forward. That being said, towns with pride parades do represent a form of tyranny. With no pride parade celebrating wanting to be straight, or (my favorite) the white heritage day, celebrating any other holiday is flat out wrong. While this argument itself plays into the problem raised in the article that we’re treating everything as mediocre, I believe this is the point. If there’s no discernible mediocrity, if there’s nothing which is obviously evil then we can coexist. But this requires judgement and this is the crux of the article. The Brokeback reference is used wrongly.

On the other hand I am sympathetic to the idea that we have no moral compass as a society. If one group is off murdering your group, then you probably should go over there and kill them before they get you. As pointed out in the article and that godawful song Imagine (which is another pet peeve of mine I happened to lol at when I saw it come up), Hitler started in a beer hall. He didn’t have his own nation. Germany didn’t wake up one day and say “well lets give this nazi thing a go and hand out microwaves! we’ll tell those jews that they’re hats!”. There is evil in the hearts of men and we should seek to stamp it out and lament the fact that doing so requires armed conflict. Another opportunity is missed here, but brought up under the guise of Abu Graib. Treating people badly to prevent or persuade them from evil should be preferable to killing them outright. This is what separates the west from the middle east. We don’t go around bombing their civilian centers. We do give them a trial. We treat them badly, but we don’t actually hurt them. Again, the point is lost in the articles writing but the point he wants to make is restraint is a virtue. You should own a gun. You should know how to use it, be comfortable with it, and pop off rounds every weekend. This doesn’t mean when there is conflict you immediately smoke the guy, but it means that you understand the zen of gun ownership. You’re willing to treat people badly (pointing a gun at them) to prevent further evil (shooting them). Of course when their potential for evil outweighs the actual cost in terms of real evil of keeping them alive, our heros should be perfectly willing to shoot them with confidence and sleep like babies at night.

Try putting that on TV. It will be made an action movie, rather than a movie about self doubt, moral exploration and finally confidence and sorrow at conflict.

Minor quibbles about framing aside, it’s a decent read. I said to my brother the other day that we had, as a society, fallen prey to the spiritual danger of not owning a farm. The topic was the LL Bean catalog. The version they sent us, supposedly the full catalog, didn’t include any of the hunting section. Well it turns out they do have a hunting section and it seems to have some nice stuff. But the point was that a lot of these places make up crap so we can play dress up. We own boots which don’t keep our feet warm, we buy camo jackets which only serve to make our corpses harder to find when we freeze to death, etc. When we do make value judgements on things, we don’t make them because they’re rational or just, we make them because we want to play dress up and this camo is more military than that camo, etc. I realize this flies in the face of the plea above saying that barring egregious offenses to the general morality of society (murder), we simply shouldn’t care.

As above, so below, or what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If we say that something is crap we should ensure that we ourselves can pass our own judgement. This is why I’m not huge on EMS or Cabelas either. There might be good stuff there, it might work as advertised, but it’s overpriced and therefor it is vanity. My favorite hunting jacket is still an M65 Field Jacket. It’s warm, it’s built correctly (who in gods name thought velcro was smart to put on tactical stuff?), it’s camo, it’s got pockets in the right places and the best part is that they’re $20 when they’re on sale. Can’t be beat. But this is a good example of the middle road. Traps are on each side of the line. It’s possible to be too permissive as it is to be too iron fisted. How do we maintain the middle ground? We examine ourselves and we judge.

Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping Digest

The new presentation of the 2010/2011 PA Hunting and Trapping digest is tops.

It includes some new illustrations, the maps are now broken out in a much easier to read format and it has a grid of orange requirements per season per device per activity. The “handsome deer tine” illustration is still there. They still don’t explain what the difference is between a rabbit and a hare.

What’s lacking is the wording can still be goofy in places due to legalese and the hunting licenses are now 7 little thermal squares. The antlerless application still is printed on it but the paper is the glossy stuff that came out of old fax machines and thus it’s impossible to write on. To their credit, they broke out the seasons now so you have the standard “short season” listing, but later the season is in a color coded box and the box corresponds to the appropriately colored page of the digest. This makes it much easier to flip through in a hurry.

The big news for the state was that hogs are being regulated. Previously it was just hush hush over the whole thing and if you shot one you got a wink-wink-nudge-nudge pat on the back. While it’s been regulated to the back page right next to the elk permit, the green box says “yes we have a hog problem and it’s open season except where they’re being trapped”. Where are they being trapped? No-one knows! Since it didn’t make the digest I’m going to simply say shoot’em if you see ’em.

Child Molester Shot

Aaron Vargas has a point – but he’s also got nine years.

Normally this would be commendable except for one problem I have with the case – their relationship extended into Vargas’s adult years. Not only that but their relationship was broken off four years ago. Vargas is 32. This means he was 28 when he started saying no, and in North Carolina, the age of consent is 16. This means Vargas has maintained a sexual relationship with Darrell McNeill for over 12 years. The papers don’t say at what age the abuse allegedly started, but 12 years is a long, long time for not only McNeill to keep the relationship a secret from his wife but this also gave Vargas over a decade to say no. More on the point Vargas could have gathered evidence and basically ruined this guys life if he really did have a sexual relationship with him for over 12 years.

Just to comment on the firearms, or why it’s significant he’s using black powder – Vargas apparently has an unspecified criminal record. Any weapon he possessed was probably illegal. Probably being the operative word here, without knowing if it was a jaywalking record or what I don’t know. Black powder arms can be bought freely mail order. He was simply looking for something which would likely work once. This lends some sincerity to his story that he felt he had been wronged and he’s not murderous towards the general population, but I strongly disagree with the judges assessment that he wanted the other man to suffer. At the end of the day a firearm is a firearm and they kill really quickly on the grand scheme of ways to die. Were there an actual intent to cause harm before death, where’s the knives? The waterboarding? The gasolene and road flares?

While I think his case is more complicated than a 12 year old boy bringing a rifle around and smoking his molester, I also disagree with the judges assessment than anything more than simple murder took place.

Conibear Trap: GROUNDHOG

The groundhog snare has been setting consistently. The problem is he’s either wiggling his way out, or I find my wire cut. Admittedly I used spiderwire fishing line instead of steel, but groundhogs have excellent teeth and claws and it’s become apparent to me that snaring it isn’t going to work. I’m not around when he’s snared to see what’s going on, and it renders the snare ineffective as a result. When he’s snared, all he’s got is time to work on it.

The snare is a really simple tip up – there’s a cinder block balanced on my fence with a branch under it acting as a prop. The line is tied through the block, through one of the diamonds in the fence, tied to the prop and then went to a loop. So far it’s been tripped three times and if I haven’t gotten the hog in three tips it’s not going to happen. At least two of those had the groundhog in the snare because the loop was chewed on or frayed. The idea was the spider wire would constrict the groundhog but I’ve come to realize the fundamental problem is that it’s too near a fence and growth the groundhog can prop himself up on. He gets snared, but the funnel effect from the brush gives him enough purchase he can work on the line before suffocating, and the spiderwire is of such high quality that it won’t snag on itself either direction.

I was thinking about buying a hav-a-hart trap but frankly the one for groundhogs starts at $70. My Economics of Caring end at about $20 (about the cost of losing one carbon arrow) so the pricepoint for a live trap was well above what I was interested in. Part two was the goal really never was a live trap, the snare I set was fully intended to go around his neck and I was just going to use the maul to dispatch him humanely when I found him. If I got on him quickly enough I was going to throw him in a box and drive him to the far end of the park, but frankly I briefed my wife we were going to find a hog hanging from the fence one morning.

After two weeks and three trap tips I was largely fed up with the operation and I had taken a shot at him with the bow. The bow doesn’t track like the rifle does through brush, so I was even going to nail him with the rifle with subsonics. I wasn’t sure a subsonic 22 was going to put him down, so this was easily the most grisly of options. I happened to be browsing the internet for better snare designs and someone mentioned the conibear trap. To make things even better – the trap is designed as a kill trap. And finally it has the last requirement which is important: the whiskers for the trigger are inside the body of the trap vertically, so I don’t need to worry about larger animals (like our deer population) stepping into them and having their legs broken. The neighbors cat may end up being a casualty, but she typically jumps over the fences and doesn’t go into the earth under them, so I think we’re OK. The local sporting goods shop had the #160 which is exactly the size I wanted. They also had the trap tool, which is basically the worlds largest set of snap ring pliers. Since I figured I could use those also I purchased them.

Total cost was $25, which is a bit more than I wanted to spend but now I have a trap set I can use over and over again.