Bullet versus glass

I thought I had posted about this first video before but I can’t find it so I’m going to do it now as a prerequisite for the second video.

Now, see what happens when you shoot the head of a Prince Rupert’s Drop with a .22:

Here is a frame grab:


Now, the awesome video of a bullet shattering against a small piece of very special glass:

Jeff K. told me about the video at the match last Saturday. Then this morning gonxau (‏@gonxau) sent me a tweet about it. Thanks guys.

Quote of the day—warddorrity

It’s been said that when blacks riot, cities burn. When whites riot, continents burn.

December 29, 2016
Comment to From A Reader
[I used to know a Ward Dorrity. That was nearly 20 years ago when the Microsoft Gun Club email list was quite active. Here are some quotes by him I saved from that time:

I wonder if it is the same guy.—Joe]

Privacy in the 21st century

This bears watching:

In what may be a first, police in Arkansas asked Amazon for recordings potentially made by an Echo device in connection with a murder investigation. Amazon declined to provide the data.

As Echo currently works it keeps less than 60 seconds of sound internally and only sends recordings to the cloud (Amazons servers do the voice recognition) after you get it’s attention with the word “Alexa”. This is probably an acceptable tradeoff for most people.

Still, it is easy to imagine government mandates for “updates” to selected users which enable the devices to send continuous sound to law enforcement. And of course the same could be said of any other sound or video recognition devices in your home such as Xbox.

Quote of the day—Stephen Green

Twitter was fun in its freewheeling early days, a sort-of 24/7 cocktail party you could visit when it suited you. But it never was useful at driving web traffic, and its signal-to-noise ratio got way out of whack, just as the company was making ham-fisted efforts at monetizing a platform where there wasn’t much money to be made.

The social justice warrior stuff of the last couple of years was really just the stale icing on a badly made cake.

Stephen Green
December 21, 2016
ANALYST: Twitter is ‘toast’ and the stock is not even worth $10.
[Three top executives in the company have left in the last month or so. It will be interesting to watch Twitter over the next few months as the rubber hits the road of economic reality. —Joe]

Quote of the day—issor

I don’t think they seriously think ROT13 is a means of secure communication. I agree it seems to be confusing people enough to collect a good set of downvotes, but for the rest it’s just intended as a lighthearted joke. Everyone knows you at least need ROT14 to be secure.

December 10, 2016
Comment to Op-ed: I’m throwing in the towel on PGP, and I work in security
[I broke out into a laugh that Barb probably heard half way across the house.

Yeah. It’s a joke for computer nerds. And probably mostly old nerds.

Via email from Sean.—Joe]

Move over, fracking

Looks like the oil-party isn’t over just yet.

Short version: a new method to extract “unconventional oil” in oil shale and similar formations using microwaves to heat it is being explored. It uses much less water, and will be usable in places where fracking might not be for various reasons. To put it in perspective:

If producers can find a way to microwave oil shales in the Green River Formation, which sprawls across Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, the nation’s recoverable reserves could soar andenergy independence could become more than an election slogan. Even with existing methods — strip-mining the shale and then cooking it, or injecting steam to cook the rock underground (hydraulic fracturing is useless here) — the formation contains enough oil to last the U.S. 165 years at current rates of consumption. Microwave extraction could goose those numbers even higher. After all, there are more than 4 trillion (with a “t”) barrels of oil in the Green River Formation.

Yeah. Looks like we might manage to muddle through on that whole energy thing. Especially considering we might soon have nuclear frikkin’ batteries.

The next level of surveillance

Via Bruce Schneier:

Here, we develop an approach to translate chemistries recovered from personal objects such as phones into a lifestyle sketch of the owner, using mass spectrometry and informatics approaches. Our results show that phones’ chemistries reflect a personalized lifestyle profile. The collective repertoire of molecules found on these objects provides a sketch of the lifestyle of an individual by highlighting the type of hygiene/beauty products the person uses, diet, medical status, and even the location where this person may have been.


Perhaps the next level beyond this will be similar type of analysis of the air around you. Imagine going through airport security and the scanning machine blows air over you and determines your health, how recently you fired a gun, what pets you have, your DNA as well as that of your spouse, children, and mistress.

He has a time machine

On August 5th, 2015 Scott Adams, the Dilbert cartoonist, wrote How Trump Becomes President. That’s right, 15 months before yesterday’s election.

Less than a week before the election he said:

I predict Trump wins in a landslide.

This was even when almost all polls were telling us Hillary was going to win. The polls continued this claim to the morning of the election. The polls, built and conducted by hundreds, if not thousands, of extremely experienced political observers, mathematicians, and pollsters got it wrong. They couldn’t see the future a few hours ahead of time as well as some guy who makes his living drawing cartoons about engineers and pointy haired bosses did 15 months prior to the event.

Trump, who had never held a political office or been in the military had to defeat, what was it, 16 republican candidates for the nomination? Then he had to defeat whoever the democrats threw at him in the general election. That first point, alone, is unheard of in this country.

For Scott Adams to successfully make this prediction one has to believe he has either, hereto unknown to mankind, god-like political insight or that he has a time machine he isn’t telling us about.

Occam’s razor says he has a time machine.

Quote of the day—Brian Krebs

I have been asked by several reporters over the past few days whether I think government has a role to play in fixing the IoT mess. Personally, I do not believe there has ever been a technology challenge that was best served by additional government regulation.

Brian Krebs
October 25, 2016
Senator Prods Federal Agencies on IoT Mess
[I have nothing to add.—Joe]

Interesting times

Think about this for a minute. After the chill up your spine subsides make appropriate contingence plans:

The wireless provider released a statement saying that a malware attack via Twitter on Tuesday night “generated some unplanned 911 calls but 911 services and calls were not affected.”

“We are obligated by FCC regulations, as is every other wireless carrier, to notify authorities in your city if 911 services might at all be impacted, which is what we did when this problem was first detected. But this actually affected 911 nationwide and on any Apple device running iOS 10 or earlier (regardless of wireless carrier).

The malware has been disabled, but we’re advising our customers who clicked on the link to reboot their phone and update their software to 10.1. We’re also working with Apple to determine if any additional steps are needed.”

Apparently some number of malware infected iPhones repeated called 911, nationwide, in a denial of service attack on our emergency services.

Why would someone want to reduce or eliminate your ability to contact emergency services?

  1. They get a kick out of breaking things.
  2. They want to increase their odds of success in some sort of criminal/terrorist attack.

I can’t think of another reason.

Who needs a fire extinguisher or a gun? Just call 911 and you’ll be fine, right?

Smokeless powder basics

Widener’s has a web page and video Guide to Smokeless Powder (via email from Anne Taylor at Widener’s where I buy some of my reloading supplies). The basics are explained at a superficial but useful level:

Smokeless powder may be the most important component for any shooter who is reloading ammo and it’s probably the most complicated as well. With different characteristics and a ton of variables, gunpowder needs to be fully understood before you attempt to reload ammunition.

This guide will take you through the basics of reloading powder, show how all smokeless powder is not the same and demonstrate how the different characteristics of powder can make your reloads more effective depending upon your intended purpose.

I liked the video in particular (but check out the web page as well) because I have had people insist smokeless powder in open air will go up in a flash from a spark. My experience attempting to use it for recreational purposes in such a fashion was quite disappointing. This video is consistent with my experience. It’s tough to even ignite smokeless powder and, in open air, it burns slowly.

Quote of the day—Stephen Green

I’m not sure whether to say “faster, please” or worry about what Skynet might do with an army of mind-controlled cockroaches.

Stephen Green
September 21, 2016
21ST CENTURY HEADLINES: Mind-Controlled Nanobots Used to Release Chemicals in Living Cockroaches.
[I would worry more about the nanobots releasing chemicals into the brains of people thinking “wrong thoughts”.—Joe]

Those who need to know already know what the following means. If it’s not crystal clear to you then don’t worry about it. It’s not for you. It’s more fun and games for the NSA:


What caliber for the most dangerous animal in the world?

So… what animal is the most dangerous to humans? That is, what animal kills more humans than any other each year?

Almost for certain you have had direct contact with one, or one of their “cousins”, multiple times in your life. Think about it for a bit. As this is a gun blog, what caliber of gun do you think would be most effective in defending yourself from this beast?

If I were the betting type I would bet you chose wrong. Almost for certain this animal would sneak in past your defenses and bite you on the neck without you being able to get off a single shot in its direction. Guns are essentially worthless against it.

What is this deadly beast? Alien? Predator? An escapee from Jurassic Park?


Omar Akbari, a molecular biologist and assistant professor of entomology at the University of California, Riverside says:

Aedes aegypti is literally probably the most dangerous animal in the world.

And from the same article:

The same type of mosquito caused dengue to proliferate from Southeast Asia through tropical regions world-wide during the last quarter of the 20th century. The dengue virus infects an estimated 390 million people a year, killing thousands of them.

Aedes aegypti also is a carrier of chikungunya, a crippling disease that causes lasting joint pain, and yellow fever. In southern Africa, officials are struggling to contain a large outbreak of yellow fever, which can lead to fatal liver disease.

And another type of mosquito transmits malaria which kills nearly a half million people each year.

But scientist are working on genetic tools that could possibly direct selected species to extinction:

Imperial College London researchers are refining a system under development for the past several years to drive a self-destructive genetic trait into the Anopheles gambiae mosquito, the major carrier of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. The trait could eventually shrink the malaria carrier’s population. Malaria kills an estimated 438,000 people a year.

With Crispr/Cas9, scientists can use an enzyme to snip DNA and insert changes, then build something called a “gene drive” that makes those changes more likely to be inherited by future generations, altering them. Normally, genes have only a 50% chance of being inherited.

Prof. Adelman and Virginia Tech biochemistry professor Zhijian Tu see a way to do this with genes involved in mosquito reproduction. In a paper published in Science last year, the researchers identified a gene that makes Aedes aegypti mosquitoes male.

“This was the master switch that controls sex,” says Prof. Tu. He and Prof. Adelman were co-authors of the research.

The researchers now are working on a system to program mosquitoes to develop as males. Since only females bite, that change could reduce the ability to spread viruses. The researchers aim to then use Crispr/Cas9 to build a gene drive that would spread the change through successive generations.

“If you’re successful, then you end up with all males, and the local population crashes,” says Prof. Tu. Prof. Adelman cautions that a system to target Aedes aegypti would have to be designed to leave the African forest-dwelling mosquito Aedes aegypti formosus intact. That type of mosquito doesn’t threaten human, he says.

Prof. Akbari at UC Riverside is using Crispr/Cas9 to design a gene-drive system that would inactivate a fertility gene in female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes and then pass on the inactivated gene. That would sterilize future generations of females.

The tradeoff is millions of human lives saved versus the preservation of the most deadly animals on the planet. Which will we chose?

Every move you make

Via Bruce Schneier we have this:

American and Chinese academics built a keystroke recognition system called WiKey consisting, at its simplest, of a standard router (sender) and laptop (receiver). WiKey can recognize typed keys in the middle of the system based on how the Wi-Fi signal lands on the receiver.

“In real-world experiments, WiKey can recognize keystrokes in a continuously typed sentence with an accuracy of 93.5 percent,” the researchers wrote.

However, they go on to say:

This is not something you should expect to see deployed in the real world tomorrow by spy agencies or hackers. Other distortions throw the entire thing off. If someone else is walking through—or simply in—the room, the current set up falters.

That’s somewhat reassuring but what they don’t say is that it tells us that our keystrokes, some our smallest movements, can be determined via radio waves. It doesn’t have to be Wi-Fi signals from access points already in the environment. It could be any type of custom built radio transmitters and receivers specifically brought to your location. By illuminating your environment with numerous transmitters/receivers one can imagine doing the equivalent of a CAT scan of your home/office, in real time, with centimeter resolution.

If that’s not enough to concern you Bruce shares another way WiFi can be used to spy on on people:

In this paper, we propose a novel approach for human identification, which leverages WIFI signals to enable non-intrusive human identification in domestic environments. It is based on the observation that each person has specific influence patterns to the surrounding WIFI signal while moving indoors, regarding their body shape characteristics and motion patterns. The influence can be captured by the Channel State Information (CSI) time series of WIFI. Specifically, a combination of Principal Component Analysis (PCA), Discrete Wavelet Transform (DWT) and Dynamic Time Warping (DTW) techniques is used for CSI waveform-based human identification. We implemented the system in a 6m*5m smart home environment and recruited 9 users for data collection and evaluation. Experimental results indicate that the identification accuracy is about 88.9% to 94.5% when the candidate user set changes from 6 to 2, showing that the proposed human identification method is effective in domestic environments.

I think my utopian, underground, home is going to also be a Faraday Cage with some sort of HARM missile capability.

16th Century Revolver

An eight-shooter from over 400 years ago. But those who wrote the constitution could never have imagined a multi-shot firearm.

Am I seeing a barrel-mounted, spring operated indexing pawl which engages tiny notches in the front of cylinder between the priming pan covers? On the other hand, maybe that lever on the right side behind the cylinder is part of the index locking mechanism.

Now what we need is a gas-operated, automatic firing, flintlock chain gun artillery piece.

Quote of the day—Chris Rock

I don’t want to live in a world where hacking comes in second to ISIS.

Chris Rock
August 6, 2016 at Defcon 24
How to Overthrow a Government
[This is the white Australian Chris Rock, not the black U.S. Chris Rock.

This was his response to someone who said the biggest threats the world currently faces are, in order, ISIS, Hacking, … some other stuff. His point was that he thinks hacking should be number one in the list of threats to the world. Why should hacking come in behind a bunch of incompetent amateurs? So, he showed how hacking was used to create changes in the government of Kuwait a few years ago. At least that was strongly implied. It wasn’t clear to me whether this actually happened or was just a plausible explanation of what might have happened.

Here are some pictures from his presentation:

Interesting stuff.—Joe]

Data gets in the way of legislation

Interesting data:

A recent study by Temple University researchers found that wearing body cameras was actually associated with a 3.64% increase in fatal shootings of civilians by police officers.  Perhaps even more surprising is that no increase in fatalities was noticed in police interactions with Whites/Asians but police were found to be 3.68% more likely to kill Blacks/Hispanics while wearing body cameras.  The study suggests that police officers are actually more likely to pull the trigger if they have video evidence to support their use of force.

As Tyler Durden says in his post, “Don’t you just hate it when data gets in the way of legislation?”

Fingerprints should not imply uniqueness

News you can use:

For over 100 years, fingerprint evidence has been used as a valuable tool for the criminal justice system. Relying on the generalized premise of “uniqueness”, the forensic community has regarded fingerprint evidence as nearly infallible having the capacity to “individualize” the source of a fingerprint impression to a single individual. While the uniqueness of a complete record of friction ridge skin detail is generally undisputed, the extension of that premise to partial and degraded impressions has become a central issue of debate. Nevertheless, forensic science laboratories routinely use the terms “individualization” and “identification” in technical reports and expert witness testimony to express an association of a partial impression to a specific known source. Over the last several years, there has been growing criticism among the scientific and legal communities regarding the use of such terms to express source associations which rely on expert interpretation. The crux of the criticism is that these terms imply absolute certainty and infallibility to the fact-finder which has not been demonstrated by available scientific data. As a result, several authoritative scientific organizations have recommended forensic science laboratories not to report or testify, directly or by implication, to a source attribution to the exclusion of all others in the world or to assert 100% infallibility and state conclusions in absolute terms when dealing with population issues. Consequently, the traditional paradigm of reporting latent fingerprint conclusions with an implication of absolute certainty to a single source has been challenged. The underlying basis for the challenge pertains to the logic applied during the interpretation of the evidence and the framework by which that evidence is articulated. By recognizing the subtle, yet non-trivial differences in the logic, the fingerprint community may consider an alternative framework to report fingerprint evidence to ensure the certainties are not over or understated.

Dillon Precision

I’ve had Dillon Precision presses for ~20 years. No idea how many rounds I’ve loaded, but I remember buying primers by the case several times. Not quite this level, but enough to give the anti-gunnies conniptions. The Square Deal B is my go-to press for pistol cartridges. I’ve not used it in a while, though, between work, kids, writing, and everything else.

Anyway, when I went to assemble some 38 Special ammo today it wasn’t feeding primers reliably. Long story short, I call Dillon Precision’s tech support (they have a toll free number), get charged nothing, get my answer, and they are sending some replacement little plastic gizzies (technical term, that) which go on the end of the primer feed tube, mailed out tomorrow at no charge. He also told me how to clean the primer feed tube by pushing an alcohol-dipped Q-tip through it with the primer follower. That got quite a spectacular bit of corrosion / crud out of it, and it definitely feeds better, now. Not quite perfectly, but a great improvement.

Dillon presses are not the cheapest on the market, but I have never been disappointed by the presses or the technical support. As a former tech-support guy myself, I have high standards, and they meet them every time. If you plan on doing reloading, you can do much worse than Dillon.