Saturday, December 29, 2007

Ooh, they're upset!

Looks like the folks at Fatman Audio in the UK are miffed about my HCT HMS-100 system:

Warning for all our customers

It has come to our attention that in certain countries a copy of the Fatman iTube and iTube with speakers has appeared. It is important to note that these sub-standard copies are not in anyway connected with the Fatman brand and as such, if they are purchased, we and our various distributors across the world will not support them.

Furthermore, to our knowledge, none of these copy products are approved by Apple Corporation under their Made For iPod programme and as such use unauthorised 30-pin connectors from a non-Apple approved source.

Although it is flattering that such products have appeared as a consequence of the Fatman brand’s success across the world, it is also misleading and confusing for our growing customer and fan-base and this, in our opinion, is unacceptable.

Put simply, if the product doesn’t have a Fatman logo on it, if it doesn’t come in Fatman packaging and if it doesn’t come from a dealer of one our authorised distributors in each country listed on this website, our advice is to not touch it.

Of course it's unacceptable to them - they're charging several hundred bucks for a silly-assed silkscreen of a fat dude, when the rest of us are getting the same damned system sans logo, most likely from the same supplier to the Brits (you really think they can make 'em themselves without cheap Chinese/Korean labor), and sending them a subtle reminder that they're just a smidgen overpriced.

"Copy" my arse. Ya know what? Let Fatman UK open up their amplifier cover and show us where it's really made. Friggin' crybabies, they got beat at their own game, and have nobody to blame but themselves.

Darned Linksys WRT-54G router!

OK, in all fairness, running 6 computers through one Linksys WRT-54G router probably wasn't the best idea. It ties our Charter cable modem to the home network, but from there it goes a bunch of different directions, all with varying demands on the connection. Let's see...

1. Vonage VOIP Motorola box
2. Both home security cameras transmit via the VPON ethernet video box
3. Two computers run WarCrack online during waking hours
4. Two computers (mine and Mrs. G-98) run Pandora Radio nearly constantly
5. One computer (mine) plays Battlefield 1942 online
6. One home business machine moves large Adobe PDF files to and from clients
7. My wife does the VPN telecommuting bit between home and her office
8. My Dell Inspiron 6000 notebook web-browses via the wireless connection
9. A Linksys WMA11B media adapter streams MP3s to the living room stereo
10. A duo of Adaptec SnapServer 1100s with upgraded hard drives play network data server for all in the house

So, yeah, there are a few packets moving here and there. A little D-Link DI-102 broadband accelerator between the router and cable modem keeps the phone voice quality and game latency pretty much in check, and at times the little "traffic" light in the DI-102 lets me know it's working hard to keep things streamlined. However, every now and again, I was getting dropped connectivity - even though the cable modem lights were displaying nominal function.

At first, I figured it was Charter doing an IP address re-allocation, so I simply rebooted the cable modem and all the other components of the laundry room comm rack. That fixed it, for a while. Still, I had to do the reset between 1-3 times a week. Digging a little deeper via the process of elimination, I discovered it was the router that was dropping offline, not the cable modem.

It turns out that the Linksys WRT-54G v5.0 router has an absolute minimum of internal memory, and the router caches a great number of connection types for up to 5 days at a time. Once that cache fills, everything comes to a screeching halt. Were I not running all sorts of stuff through it, it would probably do just fine - but I'm not. Because I have one of the later versions, it doesn't do well with the aftermarket DD-WRT firmware, so I've come up with another way to flush the cache and keep performance optimized until I can come up with a better solution:

It's a digital audio timer, and it simply powers off the router at 5:00 AM every morning, then powers it up again at 5:01 AM, one minute later. Voila'! The little Blackout Buster UPS powers everything there, so that the clock doesn't lose time save for really long outages.

So far, it's been working just fine. I am keeping an eye open for one of the older, large-memory WRT-54G models so I can run DD-WRT Linux and have it reboot/flush via script or menu option. In the meantime, necessity is the mother of invention!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Those mini-ICBM rounds in the pics?

I've had more than a few people ask me what kind of rifle takes those 535gr beauties I blogged about earlier.

An 1874 Sharps Business Rifle replica, of course.

That's a 32" octagon barrel, double set triggers, Creedmoor rear sight, globe front sight, black walnut and color case-hardening galore. I must confess that my centerfire smokeless rifles have been quite neglected in their safes since I got the Sharps.

Older is better, revisited.

As some of my closer friends know, I'm a big fan of decent audio equipment. More often than not, I'll turn off the 42" Hitachi plasma HDTV and put on some Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin. I don't profess to have golden ears - not even close. But I do know when something sounds downright wonderful inside my brainpan via my eardrums. Pratt & Whitney's TF-33 engine may have made a nifty little notch in my hearing response over a couple thousand hours' worth of jet flying time, but I still love good audio.

In my living room, I have a $1,300 JoLida 502A pentode integrated audio amp, being driven directly by the CD/DVD player. It sends the signal directly to the ESS/Heil speakers, no equalizer, tone controls, nothing. Just a straight shot, very clean and minimalistic.

For a long time, in my office/spare bedroom I was using an older Nikko NR-750 receiver to pipe my MP3 collection to a pair of floor-standing speakers. That was all well and good, but it never had the warm sound of my big JoLida. I agonized over getting another JoLida, building a compact tube amp, or finding a cheap one elsewhere.

Cheap tube amps are few and far between, particularly those worth a tinker's damn. So I started designing and breadboarding a small tube amp that would drive an iPod or computer's sound output into a decent set of desktop or bookshelf speakers (think along the lines of the venerable Radio Shack Minimus-7 and Minimus-77 series). I had the prototype nearly completely assembled when I saw an ad in my VA Canteen catalog which made my eyes pop out. There was a smallish, hybrid tube amp and docking station for the iPod, along with a small set of 2-way speakers! The price was equally eye-popping, and they sell for between $500-$700, depending on who's distributing them.

So, being curious, I dug a wee bit, and found out the system was made by HCT Electronics of Korea. From there it goes to different distributors, who put their own silkscreen logos on them, then add several hundreds of dollars to the price tag.

I found mine for all of $195.00, having a simple HCT label and nothing else. Without further ado, I give you the HCT HMS-100 Vacuum Tube Amplifier Speaker System with Dock and Remote:

And to bring it into a vintage frame of reference, a gratuitous B&W photo:

Now, to be perfectly honest, this is a hybrid tube amp, meaning it has a vacuum tube pre-amp stage, and a standard silicon transistor output stage hidden inside the chassis. That's why there are only two tubes in the front and one transformer - they're little 12AX7/12AT7 style tubes to boost the signal prior to going to the MOSFET final output transistors. The tall tube in the rear is a reproduction of the old tuning eye visual indicator, and serves only as a power or level meter, dancing with the signal.

Being a hybrid, it sports a nice 15 watts/channel, but has considerably more warmth and smoothness with the tube pre-amp stage than a comparable solid-state amp. It is still quite simplistic and elegant, having only a power switch, input selector toggle, and volume control. That's it! No tone or balance controls, no bass boost, nothing extra.

How does it sound? Quite nice, actually. I had to let the tubes burn in for a week or so before they settled down, but it's definitely a kick in the pants now. 15w/channel is more than enough to drive the included speakers, and actually drive my floor standing towers comfortably, too.

This will make a great Christmas present for the hard-to-shop-for guy or gal who enjoys audio and a minimalistic touch. I'm ordering a couple more for this Christmas, myself. I've got family members who will love it.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Alton Brown gets a case of ass, and grows man-boobs, too!

I confess - I used to really enjoy watching Good Eats. It was fun to watch, informative, and I even tried some of his recipes.

However, not too long ago, I saw an episode or three of The Next Food Network Star. Alton got a case of ass, and asked the judging panel if he could send the contestants home and start over. Yeah, sure. Like you were a big name on the Food TV circuit for a long time, and not an upstart yourself there, Alton, baby. Think about where you came from before you get snarky foot-in-mouth disease. You're not even close to Anthony Bourdain in that category, and your attempts at it really suck compared to Bourdain's polished delivery.

If you watch Iron Chef America, he snipes at Kevin Brauch on occasion, and his "Just walk away" schtick is tiresome at best. I'm sure the chefs have a pretty good idea of when their time's up, Alton, really.

So then there's the Alton-on-the-road series, named Feasting on Asphalt - The River Run. Yes he was a doofus, categorizing a stuffed porcupine as a nutria. I can forgive a city boy that gaffe. But my Gawd, watch the episode where he's wearing a tight-fitting black t-shirt! He definitely needs to spend time with Stacey and Clinton in What Not to Wear, because Alton has some serious man boobs. I mean, they'd make my high-school girlfriend jealous. Dude! He's also blimped up a goodly amount. No doubt about it, Alton has found himself on the receiving end of too much Good Eats, and it appears he needs to hire himself a personal fitness trainer.

So on a whim, I just google the terms Alton and man-boobs. Voila'! Funny he should post about people losing weight, when his definitely-bigger physique and impressive pecs aren't really from doing benchpresses: And now there's the upcoming Next Iron Chef, which already displays Alton's newfound snark. Joy.

Here's a vidcap of him with Minnesota Smorgasbord Lady, (his) mammaries still quite evident:

Sometimes, even the good ones mess up...

Marko posted a stinker here:

"The spirit and intent of the Second Amendment protects AR-15s and HK91s before Marlin .30-30s and bolt-cranked aught-sixes. The ability to go and shoot deer and such is just a fringe benefit of the ability to be a counterbalance to an armed government. Next time some Fudd mouths off about how 'you don't need an assault rifle to hunt', remind them of the fact that they're just hanging on the coat tails of the rest of us. If the Supremes ever uphold Miller in all its implications, it would mean that the government can ban deer guns, but not military weaponry."

Yeah, sure. And the next time some ARFCOM groupie mouths off about "your bolt-cranked Remington 700 being an adjunct to the Second Amendment", ask him why you cannot use said rifle to become a long-range hero of the upcoming revolution...

Fudds are one thing, but elitism stinks from the other end, too. Nor does it help deliver the RKBA message. I apologize for Marko's posting - I honestly think he knows better.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The quality goes in, before the name goes on...

So I sat there for the better part of a rainy afternoon, carefully weighing 70gr of Goex Cartridge BP, seating a fiberboard wad, kissing the charge with a powder compression die, and then seating the 535gr Postell bullets. In the end, I was rewarded by 20 little soldiers, reminiscent of Emperor Qin's buried terracotta army standing aligned and at attention.

They were almost too pretty to shoot!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Since I won't be using a Mac for desktop publishing and web design...

I tore apart my IBM Intellistation M-Pro 6850 earlier last week. There was method to my madness, because I ripped out the two 1.7Ghz Xeon DP processors, and installed two 2.2Ghz Xeon DP processors as replacements. I then added four more RIMMs of 256mb 800/45 memory, for a grand total of 2.0Gb. I also put in my old ATI TV-Wonder PCI tuner card, to use as a DVR and video input device for editing. So far, so good, so it was time to turn the big black Monolith (Stanley Kubrick would probably agree) back on and watch the show:

No problem getting to the BIOS screen, so I enabled hyperthreading and let it reboot again. Voila'! XP Pro reported that it could make good use of the two hyperthreaded processors:

That's right, boys and girls, 4, count 'em, 4 each Xeon 2.2Ghz processors in the task manager! The bank consists of two hyperthreaded Xeon processors, so Windoze XP Pro sees 4 processors, two real and two virtual.

Now, you'll often hear that hyperthreading doesn't really offer an advantage for non-multithreaded apps. That's true, up to a point. If you have applications that hog a processor or do a lot of multi-tasking on your machine, multi-cpu and/or hyperthreaded processors offer a lot of extra headroom to allow those resource hogs to do their thing at 100% while shuffling background tasks to the additional processors. I learned that a long time ago with my first Tyan dual Pentium 166 running Windows NT 4.0 Workstation.

If you're like me and run multi-threaded stuff like Adobe Creative Suite, or most flavors of AutoCAD, you will definitely appreciate the extra horsepower. The same goes for the more popular applications that edit music and video - they can be quite computer intensive. So while my idea to use a PowerMac G4 for graphics and various media was a good one, my trials and tribulations with the platform simply pointed me into taking the easy route and loading more crunching power into my trusty monster of an IBM.

Just for giggles, I once again loaded BOINC and pointed it towards SETI@Home. This has been a type of benchmark I've always used to check the performance and durability of my various multi-CPU computers over the years. With the new processor and memory upgrades, each CPU can spit out one SETI Work Unit every 12 hours or so. That's not bleeding-edge fast compared to newer processors from Intel and AMD, but remember that little Task Manager graph I pictured earlier? This IBM Intellistation is relying on Symmetric Multi-Processing (SMP) to crank out 4 of those SETI Work Units every 12 hours, or 8 of them per day from just one computer. That ain't half bad.

You're going to see a lot more of the multi-CPU, hyperthreaded, Core 2, Dual Core, Core-Duo , Quad Core whatever processor labels in the near future. Why? Moore's Law has started to fall by the wayside as engineers struggle to shrink die sizes and cram more (Moore?) transistor junctions into a given square centimeter of silicon wafer. Barring any revolutionary breakthroughs in photolithography technology, processor speed has leveled off, pretty much reaching a plateau at the 65 nanometer circuit mask size. Efforts are underway to bring that down to 30 nanometers, but for now, CPU speeds have hit a speed bump near the 4 Ghz mark.

Nor does the clock speed of a processor really tell the whole story of how fast a given CPU will perform tasks. Cache and motherboard memory speed (in the x86 world, at least) usually lag behind the processor's internal speed, so the core is waiting precious clock cycles to retrieve data from cache and motherboard memory. Hyperthreading was a neat trick that made use of the core's down time waiting for external data to go ahead and process a second thread, timing things so that both threads wouldn't ostensibly interfere with each other as they hit the cache. As I mentioned before, having a second CPU on either the chip or the motherboard also allows multithreaded apps to keep crunching efficiently, or at least give some extra headroom to the first processor's task so it can run at 100%.

Since processor, cache, and memory speed have hit a temporary roadblock, Intel and AMD have thrown their eggs into the SMP basket, offering dual-core and quad-core CPUs to the general public, vs. being the exclusive domain of high-end workstations and servers. It would certainly be a bit of overkill, but could you imagine somebody buying a dual processor quad-core system with Hyperthreading enabled, just to browse the Web and send e-mails? Of course, they'd have to run Windows 2003 Server, the Vista equivalent, or a Linux distribution to make use of the mix of 16 real and virtual processors, but my goodness!

As a footnote, my wife, who has the same type of IBM workstation of her own, has been using my machine a bit more lately, and is quite vocal about how zippy it runs. It appears I will have to duplicate the CPU/memory upgrade for her as well. I guess that's only fair.

Tam's muse is back in full stride.

The erudite Ms. Tamara has written a concise entry here regarding something that's very near and dear to my heart.

That would be the Czech VZ-52 SHE rifle, in 7.62x45 Czech M-52 flavor, see the big chunk of wood and metal above and to the right.

For several years now, I've had something of an informational web page describing the rifle, its history, and the care and feeding thereof.

Of course, she has Oleg Volk's excellent photography to liven up her expose' of the obscure little rifle. How can I compete with that? (Yes, I'm jealous)

But I can't be too jealous. Here's the secret: I've been making and selling good reloadable 7.62x45 Czech brass for a while, pretty much about as long as my VZ-52 web page has been running. Most of the sales have been via word-of-mouth, but thanks to my recent military retirement and a few new techniques and tools, I've made a quality product even better and more available at the same time. Tam has helped me by letting the cat further out of the bag with her linky goodness. And for that, I am quite grateful.

The Mac is gone.

And I don't miss it. I traded it off for a Tektronix Phaser 780 fuser assembly. At least that works.

Maybe someday I'll get another one. But not too soon.

Friday, April 13, 2007

I had an interview with J.L. Kirk & Associates last year...

And I couldn't believe the scam job they were trying to pull over on me. It was a beautifully polished, nice setting, with well-groomed and dressed "counselors" and slick pamphlets. But no matter how hard I tried, they wouldn't tell me what their fees were to "network" me into a new job. That was yet another flag popping up in my view, and I felt like going into my professional interrogator role with the guy at that very moment. It would've been fun, too.

However, I didn't have time for his silliness, nor did I bother to attend his second interview where I was supposed to bring the wife along. For a while I wondered how that would've gone.

Not any more. The rest of the story is out there to view in BlogLand, and has caused J.L. Kirk to threaten a lawsuit, as well as shut down their email service. I knew it was a scam, but didn't know how expensive a scam because I walked (ran) away before I could be described as a victim. Here's what goes on, and I hope the Better Business Bureau gets an even bigger earful of what they're doing.

Just Another Pretty Farce

Note that it's also been green-lighted on, so that'll be a thorn in J.L. Kirk's side for some time to come. They may very well have to re-name their business again, like they did a few years ago when they were called Bernard Haldane & Associates.

It ain't a problem. (Until it's a problem...)

From the "poops where it eats" crowd, we learn that Spec Ops has gone against the grain and ordered the HK416 gas-piston upper for their M4 carbines.

The Army has gone on record as stating they won't purchase the conversion for regular troops. Not because it doesn't work better or increase reliability. Nope. They don't want to buy it because they're holding out for the next generation of issue weapons that fire airburst rounds.

The futuristic XM29 and XM8 didn't make the cut. I wonder how long they will hold out before M4 stoppages wake them up to the reality that is the HK416?

I understand the HK416 isn't cheap. It's also a German idea, but damnit, so was the Mauser 93, which was product-improved into the Springfield 1903, lest we forget.

If the GSA bean counters are so adament, let our defense contractors use the HK416 as a starting point for a homegrown gas-piston upper, change the design by at least 10% to avoid patent problems, and call it our own. Then get it to the guys in the sandbox who need it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

How do YOU back up your important files?

It was a good question, really. Maybe I'm a bit over-the-top, but I practice the "Law of Averages Scatter" computer backup technique. What's that, you say?

Easy. The Law of Averages states that if you have several computers on a home network, the chances of all those machines failing at the same time is pretty slim, and the more computers, the better! (Yeah, I know, a lightning bolt can do it, but that lightning has to go through all the APS, Powerware, and CyberPower UPS units first) So I "scatter" duplicate files throughout the network.

Each computer in the home network has an identical hard drive partition, with sub-folders for each person in the household. The partitions are also mirrored on a pair of Snap Server 1100 units. I have the backup software do a file compare of all the files on all the partitions one night a week, and then mirror them across the network. The IBM and Dell workstations also have individual RAID 1 arrays, something I did as part of my IT training a while ago.

Suffice it to say, I'm not too worried about losing data. I don't back up files to CD-ROM, because I've seen them degrade over time, and what's good for today's format will be tomorrow's obsolete format. It's already happening with the transition from CD-ROM to DVD-ROM. So for now, the rat's nest below does the job nicely.

Pee Ess: I really love the little Quantum Snap Servers. They're about as trouble-free as it gets.

The PowerMac G4 is still basically TOAST.

Looks like I'll be taking it to an authorized Apple/Mac shop in Madison next week, unless the Angel of Mac appears to me in a revelation with the fix before then. If it were a PC, I'd think it was a problem with bad or incompatible memory, the machine is so flaky!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

New reduced-recoil .357 Sig round revealed!

So at the behest of all those limp-wristed Glock 31 owners complaining about excessive recoil, it appears Sig has released a new "low-recoil" .357 Sig round. (History repeats itself, ala' the 10mm's downloading to .40 Short & Weak)

In what could be described as an incredible insider scoop, I have procured one of the aforementioned rounds. Without further ado, witness the new .357 Sig mid-range 148gr HBWC load. Remember, you saw it here first at Neural Misfires!

(Reptar dolly included to provide scale comparison)

The PowerMac G4 450 DP Gigabit makes a nice paperweight.

I've moved it into the closet after spending way too much time trying to get it to run.

I can assemble, configure, and boot a PC with Windoze or Linux like there's nobody's business.

But I'll be damned if I can get this PowerMac G4 to even boot reliably off of the OS 9.2 install CD. It's very flaky, and that's with a fresh 80Gb hard drive and 512Mb of (supposedly) Mac-approved PC100 memory. The local Mac shop in downtown Madison wants $65.00 to just look at it, they think it's a memory issue. I may have them do just that. Another option I was told might work is to try a fresh install of OS 9.0, which early-model PowerMac G4 systems shipped with. Then I'd get the "firmware" and work my way up to an OS X Tiger install.

For being supposedly "user-friendly", I'm finding nothing could be further from the truth with respect to my cute little Mac tower.

Bedside manners, revised.

I was never quite happy with the finish on my bedside HD rifle's walnut handguard and forend. So when the brown truck showed up with a nice full-sized wood Bulgarian pistol grip (Thanks, K-Var!), I took it upon myself to sand, stain, and linseed oil the entire complement of furniture that adorns my Romanian SAR-1 sidefolder. As anybody knows who's dealt with the process of using boiled linseed oil as a stock finish, it is tedious, time-consuming, and drop-dead gorgeous when done properly. So, without further ado, say hello to my little friend:

He's a cute little booger, ain't he? The Hungarian 20-round magazine is a nice touch, and makes for a more compact package when sitting between the nightstand and the headboard.

I could barely hear the tornado sirens tonight.

Sometimes, one digs through their music collection and pulls out a blast from the past.

Tonight, it was Queensryche (remember them?), the album Q2K, and the four 6550C pentode tubes were doing yeoman duty driving two 10" woofers and their companion Heil Air Motion Transformers to brilliant presence via the Sacred Ground track.

I disremember who said it, but long ago I was told "if a drummer ain't sweatin', he ain't doin' it right". All I know is that Queensryche co-founder and drummer Scott Rockenfield must've been sweating his arse off when recording Sacred Ground. There's some serious punch in that track, and the rest of the album ain't too shabby, either.

I'll wager John Bonham would approve.

Oh, yeah, we did have tornado warnings and sightings throughout the evening. I finally heard the sirens during a quiet passage between songs, and headed for the basement. Which reminds me, I need a decent stereo system down there...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Such weeping and gnashing of teeth...

I'm not real big on the Federal ID program, to me it's another intrusion of Big Government into my daily life. After this April 1st, I have to produce a notarized birth certificate when I go to renew my driver's license. That's a pain in the tuckus, but I'll comply, just like I comply with the searches at the airport. I comply not because I like it, but because I want to go from Point A to Point B. I'll work to change the laws at the ballot box in the meantime.

Besides, I'm not one of the bazillion illegal immigrants in-country, sponging off society and expecting the USA served to them on a silver platter without having the integrity to become citizens of said country. That chaps my posterior in a big way, and I saw it in Kalifornia, Florida, and now Wisconsin.

From the March 26th Capital Times:

Real ID anxiety

Will new requirement for driver's licenses create unsafe roads and second-class citizens?
By Pat Schneider

Laws requiring motorists to prove they are in the country legally to get a driver's license will force immigrant workers further underground, make roads more dangerous and inconvenience all drivers, local workers' rights advocates say.

A state law goes into effect April 1, requiring proof of legal presence in the United States before a driver's license or state ID card is issued.

The new law will put Wisconsin in compliance with the federal REAL ID law, which requires states to adopt a legal presence requirement by May 2008.

Civil libertarians say the laws could make the lives of immigrant workers unbearable.

"They will be outcasts," Alex Gillis of the Immigrant Workers Union said of undocumented workers unable to get essential identification. "People can't start building a normal life without identification. It's going to be a nightmare."

Immigrant worker advocates say that laws preventing people from getting identification will make it impossible to get a credit card or buy a car and effectively force them into the black market.

"When applying for the privilege of driving on our streets, people's birth certificates are going to be scanned into a database shared across state lines," said Stacy Harbaugh, a Madison community advocate with the American Civil Liberties Union. "We're on our way to a surveillance society."

The federal law is designed to prevent another 9/11-type attack, Wisconsin's U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, said when he introduced the 2005 legislation.

"The 9/11 hijackers could have used their passports to board the planes, but only one did. Why?" he said. "Those murderers chose our driver's licenses and state IDs as their forms of identification because these documents allowed them to blend in and not raise suspicion or concern. Mohammed Atta received a six-month visa to stay in the U.S., yet received a Florida driver's license good for six years!"

Wisconsin has been one of a handful of states that did not require proof of legal presence in order to secure a license.

The homeland security theme was repeated by sponsors of the state legislation.

"In the post-Sept. 11 era, it's amazing this issue has been overlooked in Wisconsin," said state Rep. Mark Gundrum, R-New Berlin.

But critics of the bills said it will needlessly mistreat immigrants and disgruntle motorists without providing real security.

No long lines - yet: Patrick Fernan, director of driver services for the Division of Motor Vehicles, said motorists should not experience significant delays at the DMV office under the state law.

Upon presenting one among a number of acceptable documents establishing legal presence in the United States - ranging from a certified certificate of birth in the United States or a valid U.S. passport to a variety of immigration and Department of Homeland Security documents - the bearer will be eligible for an original, renewal or replacement Wisconsin driver's license or state ID card, Fernan said.

Identification documents acceptable under Wisconsin Act 126, Legal Presence Law, are listed online. Drivers who do not have a certified birth certificate or passport, but who have a valid Social Security number, can sign a form attesting they are a U.S. citizen and be eligible, Fernan said.

There will be no additional or increased fees for drivers under the state's Legal Presence Law starting April 1, Fernan said.

But when the federal REAL ID law kicks in, it will be a different story. Under the law, which goes into effect in May 2008, fewer exemptions, higher costs and longer waits at DMV offices are all but certain, Fernan said.

"The rules from the Department of Homeland Security are even more unrealistic than we feared," he said.

The REAL ID proposed rules were released on March 1, and the state is still developing its comments on them, Fernan said.

He pointed to the federal provision that identification documents be electronically verified on the spot as a key reason the federal law is unrealistic.

"A system needs to be created to validate every birth certificate issued since 1935 with the state of issue," Fernan said. "That system does not exist."

Drivers born before 1935 would not be required to produce birth certificates.

Gov. Jim Doyle called REAL ID "a nightmare" after the proposed rules were released. The $20 million he budgeted to hire 30 more full-time workers to comply with the federal law won't be enough money, Fernan said this week.

REAL ID also would require that every license or ID holder be processed under the new law by 2013, five years after its effective date. That requirement would cut short the state's eight-year renewal cycle, requiring DMV to process drivers in a much shorter period than usual, he said.

It all adds up to higher costs than can by covered by the planned $10 surcharge on driver's licenses, Fernan said.

In urging Congress to amend REAL ID, Wisconsin Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi last year cited estimates that put the cost to the states of implementing the law at $11 billion nationwide over the first five years.

'Waste of money': State Rep. Pedro Colon calls the $20 million the state already is slated to spend to comply with REAL ID "the biggest waste of money in the budget. It doesn't provide any value to the state."

Colon, D-Milwaukee, is especially outraged by a provision of the REAL ID law that would bar residents of non-compliant states from boarding airplanes.

"That's absurd - to stop our economy and freedom to travel," he said.

Colon said he is working to convince the Joint Finance Committee, on which he sits, to put the $20 million budgeted for REAL ID compliance to other uses.

Maine and Idaho have passed resolutions rejecting participation in REAL ID. Bills rejecting the law have been introduced in a dozen other states, according to published reports.

Legislation to repeal and replace the law has been introduced in Congress.

Salvador Carranza, president of Dane County's Latinos United for Change and Advancement, LUChA, said his organization is working with Colon's office to come up with some kind of certificate that would provide for testing and regulation of drivers who can not produce the documentation required under REAL ID.

"People need to get to work, and since we live in a country where public transportation is not as good as it should be, if people cannot get driver's licenses, some of them are going to take the risk and drive without the right training or license," Carranza said.

"And when we're having an increase in accidents involving people who don't have insurance because they can't get a license, the industry is going to have to hike its rates," he said.

"Supposedly the whole idea was to prevent a terrorist attack, but to have a system with the features to be able to do that costs millions the states do not have," he said.

Mario Mendoza, an aide to Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, helped host a workshop geared to Latino residents on the new state law this week. It drew not a single participant.

"There has been a lot of discussion of the law in the Latino community," he said. "Perhaps people already have awareness."

Fears have been circulating in the Latino community that under the state law immigrant drivers who don't have licenses and who are stopped by police will be detained or deported.

But the city of Madison does not enforce immigration law, Mendoza said.

Madison Police Lt. Stephanie Bradley Wilson said the policy of her department will not change under the new law.

"Our main focus is traffic safety," she said. "We want people licensed. But we don't stop people to check their immigration status."

People stopped for a traffic violation who don't have a license will be ticketed, but their names will not be passed along to any federal agency, she said.

My Gawd. Cry me a river, will ya?

They don't want to earn citizenship in these United States the proper way. Slip in under the radar, steal school and health benefits from lawful taxpayers, and cry foul when you're made to atone for it. If you want civil liberties here, become a citizen, pay taxes, and speak friggin' English at Taco Bell when I order at the drive through.

Lady, you're not helping your cause much when you spout this hilarious tidbit, either:

"I'm here to stand up for all Latinos, who are going to need licenses to do all kinds of things, from driving a car to opening a bank account," Postel said. "This law will further marginalize a group that is already on edge."

Last I heard, you need a driver's license to drive a car in Wisconsin, whether you're Latino, Norwegian, Hmong, or otherwise. As a matter of fact, you need a driver's license to drive a car in other states, too. Unless, of course, you're one of those non-licensed, non-insured people out there on the road responsible for driving up the uninsured motorist premiums on my own policy. (Why'd she mention it if she and her Mexican-born husband were already licensed to drive, hmmm?)

It's just a tempest in a teapot. If you've got nothing to hide, no problems. If you're here illegally, yes, you have problems, and it'll bite you in the posterior when you go to get a driver's license, surprise, surprise! (Assuming you intend to drive with a license...)

Tell ya what. If Los Illegals don't like it, I'd be more than happy to hire on as a border coyote to guide them back where they came from. Heck, since I'm a nice guy, I'd give a discount and take them to the nearest INS branch and help them start their application paperwork to become Naturalized citizens. It's only fair, considering how many of their fellow immigrants did the right thing by raising their hands during the ceremony and reciting the Oath of Allegiance (in English) in front of the judge, becoming Honest-to-Gawd citizens in the process. Anything less, and they have absolutely no right to bitch, and the ACLU won't be their knight in shining armor, either. I don't care how "on edge" y'all are, get your crap in one sock or take it elsewhere.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Yup, it's happened.

I've always felt that we as Americans have no stomach for war. We haven't really had said stomach since the end of WWII. While it doesn't take an Air War College or Army Command and Staff College degree to figure out that one takes the fight to the enemy, I've sided with Grouchy Old Cripple, the late Acidman, and Kim du Toit in their observations that the Pussification of America is essentially complete. As much as I hate to say it, we probably deserve to get our asses kicked a good one from a 3rd-world country, if just as a subtle reminder of what we've become.

A gem from a 5-star (BTW, WTF, what or who does one do to garner 5 stars?) moderator on the forum:

Oh please. Don't these right-wingers ever get tired of unconditionally praising the continuing debacle in Iraq? It's not quite as simple as "FREEDOM!" If it were, we'd have invaded numerous other countries by now, and we'd still be in Vietnam.

You go, sport. Just keep turning that other bloodied cheek, until the jihadis run back to Ickystan with their tails between their legs, all flustered that they got no Sharia love after their successful terrorist attack on American soil. That's how it'll play out, right?

Yup. Mark that box checked. Pussification complete. Next?

Stating the obvious...

Marko posts a thesis about the utility of the gun:

Why the gun is civilization.

That's an awful lot of work to basically restate the old adage:

God made men, but Sam Colt made them equal.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Militarization of police...

If ever there was any doubt as to what CIVILIAN police forces are migrating towards, take a look here:

Operation Take Back

Now, I understand the War on (Some) Drugs is a highly volatile, emotion-charged issue. I've got two marijuana-smoking stepsons who think I'm some sort of Federal Killjoy because I won't allow them to indulge while residing under my roof. So be it, I don't like illegal drugs and don't think much of humans who have the need to alter their mental chemistry to deal with life's reality. However, it is their choice and as long as they pose me no problems or additional costs, they can Darwin themselves until the cows come home. Back to the topic at hand, WTF is going on out there in Florida land since I left? Palm Bay PD now wants a reconnaissance drone for law enforcement, and it's not a stretch to think they're in the market for a surplus M113 APC or similar to serve warrants.

Who wants to bet that the M16 variant carried by Tactical Barney Fife here has Da Switch?

Luckily, if you don't have a CAR-15, you can at least Taze the bejeezus out of somebody these days:

“He was resisting the deputy and was not being compliant, so I Tazed him,” said Melbourne Police Officer and SWAT team member Cyril Hopping. “I’m going home tonight. I’ve got kids. I’m not afraid to Taze somebody.”

Cyril, was that before or after the group huddle to "pump up" the SWAT team members prior to engaging in their "tactical operations"?

Achtung, Deine Papieren, Bitte!

Cabin Fever and The Cure.

If there's one sure sign that spring is here in the Great White North, it's the fact that the robins are in my backyard, chirping happily away.

The snow is gone, the grass is attempting to turn green, and I took the last 40-pound bag of salt intended for the driveway and dumped it into the water softener's brine tank. (Of course, it'll probably snow and freeze again as soon as I did that)

I've got a 3-day weekend starting today. To shake the winter doldrums, I'm getting a head-start on reloading at my bench in the garage. I've got 5 pounds of Goex Cartridge BP (none of that girly Pyrodex or Triple Se7en crap for me, thank you!) that needs to be distributed into smaller 70-grain proportions, and several hundred 500-550gr .459" cast bullets that need to be lube-sized and situated on top of those 70-grain BP charges.

I suppose I could take the laptop out into the garage, but the TV and stereo out there are already dangerous distractions. So I'll just put some music on, and after a bit, I'll have 20 more of these ready to go:

That's at least a start, and will get me closer to what I need for practice, and for the 2007 Quigley Match this June. I know, y'all are jealous, aren't you?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I'm tasting the Kool-Aid. Honest!

It's no secret that I'm a PC kind of guy. I have my MCSE, Novell, and A+ certificates filed neatly in the safe, and am a paid IT consultant to a local technology group. I buy, refurb, and resell IBM and Dell workstations and servers that come in off of corporate lease. The home network here looks like some sick nightmare, with dual or quad-cpu workstations in each room, fileservers in the laundry room, a Snap Server on a nightstand, etc.

So what did I do? I bought a Mac. No, really, I did! I now own a PowerMac G4 450 DP Gigabit. I understand it's kind of yesterday's news in the world of all things Mac, but at least it has a pair of 450Mhz processors to share the load. It's sort of cute, too - in an Apple Mac sort of way:

Why did I do it? I'm getting ready to purchase a distributorship for a well-known real estate publication. The printers give a healthy discount if the book is submitted in Mac Quark format. I run PC Quark on my personal IBM workstation, but the fonts are "wrong" compared to the Mac version of Quark. So I found a PowerMac G4 to take over that task and save me some coin.

I bought the Mac sans hard drive and memory. Now it has an 80Gb hard drive and 512Mb of PC-100 RAM. Now if I can just get OS 9.2 to boot properly, so I can upgrade it to OS X Panther or Tiger. Stay tuned, this could prove interesting. Mac pros are more than welcome to offer suggestions or tips.

Blogs are a double-edged sword.

Anybody who fires one up ought to know that right out of the starting gate.

In fact, it should be a binary yes/no switch prior to indulging in the practice.

"Do you know opening your yap on a blog can bite you in the ass?" If you don't click on the little "yes" box, you go no further, period.

As some of my inner circle know, I'm not the biggest fan of Kim duToit. I think he's loud-mouthed, opinionated, and offers as gospel truth that which is merely his opinion. That's fine, he's in America now and can enjoy that right as long as the 1st Amendment still holds value. As for the whole "Nation of Riflemen" thing, well, his heart's in the right place, at least. As for the .45-70 being a 200-yard cartridge, the man had best sell that Browning 1885 single-shot of his, because he doesn't know how to really use it. My 1874 Sharps Business Rifle just starts going at 200 yards, and really shines between 600-1000yds. How do you suppose all those buffalo got decimated 120+ years ago, the hunters summoned The Force?

What I don't underget, however, is the weeping and gnashing of teeth a blogger of Kim's stature displays when somebody has the nerve to offer a different opinion. Witness this little meltdown and hissy fit, where said blogger decided to let it all hang out. Wonderful. Tears at my heartstrings, it does. Now put the big, soft pink underbelly back into the sweatshirt and leave it there. Maybe it's my POW training, but one never volunteers more information than required for the situation. You hit a nerve with a blog posting, Kim, and somebody decided to find a similar nerve in your person. You knew the job was dangerous when you took it. You even had a taste of cause-and-effect when you had to do a makeover from the original KdT blog for fear of employment repercussion.

Like I said, blogging requires little to no prior experience or editorial training. You think it (at least some do-after a fashion), you type it, hit the "publish" button, and you weather the results. However, even though we have 1st Amendment protection against government interference in speech and media, let's not forget that posting something out there in the big wide Web does not absolve one of owning up to their own words. Jim Zumbo learned that firsthand. (Note: How often does your last name end up becoming a verb?)

I read View From The Porch every now and again. Blogess Tamara has this unique capability to verbally disembowel publicized everyday events into their component organs like few others. With her sharp wit and tongue, nothing's sacred, save maybe for cats, motorcycles of the crotch rocket variety, JMB's own 1911, and S&W revolvers. Woe betide the individual who runs afoul of that blog and its owner. It appears I've struck a nerve there, myself, and will refrain from linking to it for a while. I knew the job was dangerous, so it's ok.