Quote of the day—Joshua Browder

These processes are so bureaucratic that if you have no resources at all, it really is impossible to get the help you need.

Joshua Browder
September 20, 2018
Meet the Robot Lawyer Fighting Fines, Fees, and Red Tape
DoNotPay is launching a “denial of service attack on the legal system to make it better.”
[I could see this being useful in places like New York City where gun ownership is, technically, legal but is out of the reach of anyone except those who have the money for a lawyer.

Of course I could also see government entities getting their own “robot lawyers” and you end up in a proxy war with the outcome out of human hands.

Interesting times…—Joe]

Quote of the day—Bruce Schneier

Companies like Facebook are the largest surveillance organizations on the planet, and they need to be recognized as such.

Bruce Schneier
October 24, 2017
An interview with Bruce Schneier on the Internet of Things, global surveillance, and cybersecurity
[I could tell you a lot more. There is stuff that will make your skin crawl. Ask me in person sometime.—Joe]

Wireless devices for home protection

As an electrical engineer specializing in communications I have a certain bias when I hear the word “wireless”. The “Internet of Things” and the involvement of those sort of things in home security is a big thing these days. Because of the surprise of context switch with this image I received from Rolf a while back I thought it was very funny:

HighSpeedWireless

Friends don’t let friends use Serpa holsters

If you have a Serpa holster please throw it away. Tell others to throw theirs away. Don’t go shooting with people who use Serpa holsters.

If I know you well enough I’ll tell you the story as to how I came to this very firm conclusion via an email request. Otherwise ask me at match or other shooting event. I won’t be blogging about it.

I was not injured.


Update: Apparently some people aren’t familiar with Serpa holsters:

SerpaHolster

The gun is locked into the holster until you depress the unlocking lever with your index finger. You must keep it depressed until the gun is withdrawn maybe an eighth of an inch. What ends up happening is that the index finger keeps on pressing as the gun is completely removed from the holster. There have been many cases of there being an accidental discharge during the draw because the index finger ends up on the trigger and putting sufficient pressure on it to fire the gun before the gun is pointed away from the shooter.

In the report I have in hand what is believed to have happened was the shooter was moving the gun in and out of the holster practicing the release of the lock. When his finger entered the trigger guard on the partial draw and he then pushed the gun back into the holster catastrophe happened. The shooter survived and probably will make an, essentially, full recovery.

Quote of the day—Quinn Norton

Facebook and Google seem very powerful, but they live about a week from total ruin all the time. They know the cost of leaving social networks individually is high, but en masse, becomes next to nothing. Windows could be replaced with something better written. The US government would fall to a general revolt in a matter of days. It wouldn’t take a total defection or a general revolt to change everything, because corporations and governments would rather bend to demands than die. These entities do everything they can get away with — but we’ve forgotten that we’re the ones that are letting them get away with things.

Quinn Norton
May 20, 2014
Everything Is Broken
[This appears to be true. I suspect part of it is because most people want to belong to a social group. They want to be “normal” and liked and “supported”. If you take someone out of their social support group they loose their confidence. Making someone an outcast, for many people, is a terrible punishment. “Public opinion” matters because we evolved in an environment where shared values and group support gave us an advantage. Those shared values could contain some great falsities—a rain dance doesn’t change the weather, sacrificing a young girl to a “volcano god” doesn’t appease it, and the Final Solution to the “Jewish problem” didn’t make the world a better place. But a common belief that they could change the unchangeable and improve society by murdering millions probably improved morale, gave them a sense of accomplishment, and increased the productivity of the group.

Belonging to “the tribe” is important at a very deep level. This knowledge gives us power to take down powerful forces. But to be effective you can’t just make large numbers of people outcasts. You have to replace their existing “tribe” with another tribe. Religious cults recruit social outcasts and fulfill this basic need and they will believe the craziest things. Democrats recruit a groups of that believe such crazy things as a people can tax their way to prosperity, the government can control prices with no ill effects, or people and even states cannot afford health insurance but taxing people and filtering the money through the federal government will result in plenty of money. This coalition works and is powerful despite the crazy beliefs for the same reason the rain dancing and sacrificing to the volcano gods work. We have can’t just mock them and make them outcasts. They will further insolate themselves from the truth.

I appears to me that all political parties have their share of crazy beliefs and do their share of rain dancing, appeasing non-existent gods, and murdering innocent people. Don’t align yourself with political parties and leaders any more than you have to. Align yourself with the truth and work to make social outcasts of those who promote falsity. Yes, I know truth is very hard to discern but as long as you don’t get emotionally involved with the answers you find along the way you can work your way closer with very little backsliding.—Joe]

Forensic ballistics under fire

Interesting:

And in 2016, a government-appointed advisory group of leading scientists and engineers released a study that cited serious concerns about the underlying science of ballistic analysis. The study said the practice relies on circular logic and its “conclusions are subjective.”

“It’s basically a guess,” said Jon Loevy, an attorney representing Pursley’s case in civil court. “I’m sure there’s a lot of ballistics examiners that swear by the science, but that doesn’t make it scientific.”

Specifically, Loevy questioned the subjective nature of the analysis.

“Why do we believe science? It’s not just because it’s a guy who says ‘I’m a scientist’ giving it — it’s because you can replicate results with studies,” Loevy said. “Well, there’s no study that corroborates that this shell casing looks like that shell casing — it’s just some guy’s opinion.”

I know a fair amount about biometrics and it appears some of the same issues which trouble the use of fingerprints are also issues with forensic ballistic analysis. Verification is much better than identification. That is, the examiner can say that the odds that a given bullet (partial fingerprint) matches a given gun (person) with 99% certainty. But given a bullet (partial fingerprint) then finding the correct gun (person) out of the entire population of guns (people) the certainty might be only 0.1%.

Think of it this way: Suppose each gun stamped a number from 1 to 100 on each bullet fired. Given a random bullet and a random gun you could reject 99 guns out of 100 as not shooting the bullet. But if there are 100,000 guns, and the numbers are distributed evenly, 1000 of them could have shot the bullet.

The markings left on the bullets (and shell casings) don’t have sufficient persistent “resolution” to uniquely distinguish between all guns when the population of guns is very large.

Denial of service by a spider

I have a security webcam set up to send me an email of the image when there is movement in its field of view.

A spider decided the camera lens (maybe the IR light was the attraction) was a nice place to do a dance. So… I started getting extremely frequent emails which had large attachments. This filled up the email box on my server and blocked incoming emails from people.

Denial of service by a spider.

It could have been worse. Do you remember my story about denial of service by a dust bunny?

Pro For Sho ear protection

I recently received an email from Michelle of Pro For Sho asking if I would be interested in reviewing their ear protection.

I expressed my interest because of the mention of rifle shooting and their website was up front about their product being useful for shooting.

I frequently put in plugs rather than try to work around the bulky external muffs required to get good protection. And besides, they are claiming 34db NRR when my go-to muffs for pistol shooting when I am alone (Pro Ears) are at best 30db (title says 30db, but the text of the description says 26db) NRR.

I received them today and tried them on. As I expected, they cannot compare to Pro Ears in the softness of the material around the ears (they are amazing!). But they are better than a lot of muffs I have used and I expect they will be comfortable with the one or two hour sessions I have when using passive muffs.

I put on some loud music with plenty of high frequency content and compare the two sets of muffs. I couldn’t determine which were better.

But, my real test was, “Will they allow me to shoot a rifle?”

Here is a picture of my Pro Ears muffs next to the Pro For Sho muffs:

20180410_185058

This is a huge difference in clearance between your head and the rifle stock. I got out my rifle in Bellevue (I have another rifle in Idaho I should try it with as well) with the least clearance. As expected the Pro Ears were being pushed up by the stock. The Pro For Sho muffs just barely touched. It’s a win!


Additional information from Michelle:

I just want to mention, since we keep getting a lot of similar feedback from our customers, I think it’s necessary to point out that due to the High NRR Ratio, if you find the earmuffs a bit snug when you first start using them, it’s totally normal. It will loosen up over time. Please FIRST double check to make sure you fully adjust the length of the earmuffs by sliding the cup up and down to find a better fit.

Just in case the earmuffs are still tight, we always suggest to stretch them to make it more comfortable. If the earmuffs are still tight after you fully adjust it, take the earmuffs out and clamp it over the box and let it sit overnight. It worked great with most of our customers who tried it.

MORE INFO ABOUT OUT PRODUCT (just want to save your from checking other resources online 😉

We have two types/sizes of Pro For Sho Shooting Hearing Protection Earmuffs:

1. Pro For Sho 34dB Shooting Ear Protection – Special Designed Ear Muffs Lighter Weight & Maximum Hearing Protection

This comes in one size only, which is Standard Size.

This is a more compact sized earmuffs, which is available in 10 different colors.

2.  Pro For Sho All Terrain Safety Ear Protection

This comes in Large Size and has an NRR of 32dB.

This was also designed with larger ear cups.

This one is specifically built for larger head size, available only in black color.

I would like to point out that the Small size actually is the Standard size which is designed for a universal fit, and the Large size should be Extra Large size. Since Amazon only offers a very limited option of the Size Variation, we had to use Small and Large instead of Standard and Extra Large. We already tried coordinating with Amazon to address this issue.

Ballistic gel tests

I received an email from Brandon B. of Ammunition To Go about a bunch of ballistic gel tests they recently completed. Nearly 100 different handgun loads were tested. See Self Defense Ammunition Ballistic Test for the overview. There are links there to the individual tests but here are the shortcuts to each of the calibers tested:

There were some interesting results in there. I have a probably 400 hundred rounds of some cheap .40 S&W JHP I bought years ago that I thought might use as carry ammo.

And I did use it as carry for a while. But it sort of bothered me that I didn’t have any data to support it being “high quality”. After a year or so I paid about twice as much per round for other ammo that I knew was used by many law enforcement agencies. I have continued that practice ever since. I don’t always buy the same ammo as the previous time, but I always buy something which has been tested and found to work well with the FBI standardized tests. Yes, the FBI tests have some flaws, but if a cartridge performs well in the FBI tests it isn’t likely to be a failure if I ever need “stopping power” in real life.

So, I looked up the cheap ammo in the test results. It did not do well. I might as well use it for practice, reload the brass, and use the shelf space for something else.

The ammo I have more recently purchased did much better.

XKCD for the win

I love the insight XKCD displays at times. This is a great example and so timely:

Robots

Whenever you visit XKCD be sure to use your mouse to hover over their image. In this case you will see:

Don’t be nervous about the robots, be nervous about the people with the resources to build them.

Of course, we aren’t too far away from the day when there will be robots to do all the mining, transportation, and processing to build themselves.

Quote of the day—Comfortably Smug‏ @ComfortablySmug

Listen to the sound of their gears and them walking. Remember that sound. You’ll hear it again soon enough as you hide in a closet, holding your child close, fighting the urge to scream. Watching the sliver of light under the door until they arrive.

Comfortably Smug‏ @ComfortablySmug
Tweeted on February 12, 2018
[Skynet smiles.—Joe]

This has to be a coincidence, right?

Via a retweet from David Whitewolf we have this:

6 x 5 x 2 minutes in an hour
8 x 3 hours in a day
7 days in a week

So every month has 8 x 7 x 6 x 5 x [# of weeks] x 3 x 2 x 1 minutes in it.

So there are 8! minutes in February.

Except, of course, on leap year.

This is incredible. This has to be a coincidence. Right?

It would appear so (see also here). In any case, wow!

Quote of the day—Cody Wilson

Gun control is not dead, gun control is undead. We just keep killing it but it keeps coming back.

The handgun is at the center of what is protected in the Heller decision. So, whereas, AR-15’s may not ever be backed up by the Supreme Court, there’s no way of getting around, right now, the protections that the Supreme Court gave to the handgun. And so this is the core of the Second Amendment liberty as it’s currently understood.

Cody Wilson
Director of Defense Distributed
February 5, 2018
Want to Make an Untraceable Handgun at Home? Cody Wilson Can Help.
[For certain values of “understood”.

These are interesting times we live in.—Joe]

Cell phones are good for rats

Back in the early 2000s I talked to a researcher who said he did tests which showed that rats exposed to satellite phone radio emissions had fewer cancers than rats not exposed to the radio emissions. Then about two years ago more research indicated the same thing with conventional cell phones.

Today, another study came out which reported:

The radiated rats somehow lived longer than comparison rats that were not exposed to cellphone radiation.

Okay, I’m convinced. If you want your rat to have a long and healthy life you should give it a cell phone.

D-DAY Through German Eyes

My brother Doug told me he recently read D DAY Through German Eyes and really enjoyed it. I am almost finished with the second book now. It’s very good. There were a number of things I learned about the weapons the allies had but what I have enjoyed most was what the German soldiers believed they were fighting for.

I didn’t realize the allies had planes and ships that fired rockets. I thought the planes only had guns and bombs. And I thought the only weapons the ships could use against land based targets were their guns and planes from the aircraft carriers.

Some of the rockets had phosphorous warheads. There were also warheads with explosives and ball bearings which were used for anti-personal as well as anti-material. And amphibious tanks! This surprised the Germans too. Some of the tanks also had flame throwers. The Germans really didn’t like the flame throwers. Some refused to go back into battle facing the phosphorous and flamethrowers even though the alternative was an expedited court marshal and execution the same day.

There were Russians who defected on the Eastern Front and joined the Germany army who assigned them to the western front. When the allies took prisoners the Russians were separated from Germans and handed directly over to the Russians. The Russians executed them. There were thousands of them.

One soldier told of the “Browning Assassination Pistol”. From the description it has to be the FP-45 Liberator. What I found most interesting is that the soldier (a military policeman) who mentioned them said thousands of them were distributed in France and probably hundreds of German soldiers were killed by French civilians with them. This is in direct contrast to what Wikipedia says about them.

The MP was guarding a small group of Germany officers the night before D-Day. As the bombing started they went to a private residence set up as a small hotel for the officers. After dinner one of the waitress suggested to one of the officers that he looked tired and perhaps he would like to go to bed (it was implied the waitress went to bed with him). He did. Later the other officers wanted to speak with the “sleeping” officer and the MP went looking for him. He found him in the bedroom, a hole in his head, blood all over, and a “Browning Assassination Pistol” on the floor. All the hotel staff were gone.

Did you know that Germany was actually protecting France? They needed to be protected from the International Socialists to the East, so there was a partnership between the French and Germany governments. The Germans were National Socialists but that wasn’t a threat to the people of western Europe. Germany united Europe. This was good for people of Europe. Why would the Americans and Canadians have a problem with that? Sure, the British hated the French and wanted a piece of France, but the Germany was protecting France from the British and the secret societies (the Free Masons) to the west who were being manipulated by the international bankers.

At least that is what was believed by many of the German soldiers.

High altitude highway

Via Boomershooter “Squirrel Hunter” we have the Karakoram Highway

The Karakoram Highway (KKH) is one of the highest paved international roads in the world. It connects the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China and Gilgit–Baltistan of Pakistan across the Karakoram mountain range, through the Khunjerab Pass, located at 36°51′00″N 75°25′40″E, at an elevation of 4,693 metres (15,397 ft).

Connecting China’s Xinjiang region with Gilgit–Baltistan region of Pakistan, the road is a popular tourist attraction. Due to its high elevation and the difficult conditions in which it was constructed, it is referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World.

Wow! And I thought Idaho, Washington, Montana, and Colorado had some “interesting” switchbacks and high altitude construction on some of their mountain roads.

Nope. Nothing I have seen in the states even begins to compare.

That’s what I carry

This is kinda cool. FBI Selects Winchester’s .40 S&W Ammunition for Duty and Training:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has completed an extensive evaluation process and Winchester has been chosen as its primary source for .40 S&W pistol ammunition. This includes a bonded jacketed hollow point (JHP) service cartridge as well as full metal jacket (FMJ) and frangible training loads. Winchester has been supplying the FBI with service and training ammunition for many years and is honored to be awarded the most recent contract and continue to support our nation’s premier law enforcement agency.

The 180 gr. bonded jacketed hollow point (JHP) cartridge selected by the FBI is designed with patented technology that utilizes a reverse-jacketed, bonded bullet that can penetrate a wide variety of intermediate barriers while maintaining very consistent target penetration and reliable expansion. The nickel-plated cartridge prevents corrosion and ensures smooth feeding and extraction. Flash suppressed powder is used in this cartridge to maintain an agent’s night vision and meet the FBI’s stringent darkened range evaluation.

The Winchester .40 S&W, 180 grain, JHP cartridge (Ranger) is my carry ammo.

Update: In the comments John Hardin asked if the FBI chose the Ranger bullets. I think the answer is yes. As near as I can tell the “reverse-jacketed” bullet refers to their patented reverse taper (thick near the opening, thinner on the sides and base) JHP with with the jacket pre-scored in the area intended to expand. This gives the uniform size and characteristic hooks at the end of the “petals”:

image

Winchester sells several different 40 S&W 180 grain JHP cartridges. Two of them appear to use the same bullet, the W40SWD and S40SWPDB1 cartridges. A third, USA40JHP, appears to be using a conventionally jacketed bullet:

image

There are also what appear to be different brandings, and/or nickel plated brass casings, of these same three cartridges:

So, I believe the FBI must have chosen a cartridge with the same bullet as what is in the Ranger bonded cartridge.

Q#

I already know C#, I guess it’s time to learn Q#:

Microsoft today launched a preview version of a new programming language for quantum computing called Q#. The industry giant also launched a quantum simulator that developers can use to test and debug their quantum algorithms.

The language and simulator were announced in September. The then-unnamed language was intended to bring traditional programming concepts—functions, variables, and branches, along with a syntax-highlighted development environment complete with quantum debugger—to quantum computing, a field that has hitherto built algorithms from wiring up logic gates. Microsoft’s hope is that this selection of tools, along with the training material and documentation, will open up quantum computing to more than just physicists.

We are living in the future.

I’m not sure how to interpret the feelings this causes in me. I think it might be fear.

Quote of the day—John D. Clark

The old destroyer gun turret which housed our card-gap* setup had become a bit frayed and tattered from the shrapnel it had contained. (The plating on a destroyer is usually thick enough to keep out the water and the smaller fish.) So we had installed an inner layer of armor plate, standing off about an inch and a half from the original plating. And, as the setup hadn’t been used for several months, a large colony of bats —yes, bats, little Dracula types —had moved to the gap to spend the winter And when the first shot went off, they all came boiling out with their sonar gear fouled up, shaking their heads and pounding their ears. They chose one rocket mechanic —as it happens, a remarkably goosy character anyway—and decided that it was all his fault. And if you, gentle reader, have never seen a nervous rocket mechanic, complete with monkey suit, being buzzed by nine thousand demented bats and trying to beat them off with a shovel, there is something missing from your experience.

John D. Clark
1972
I G N I T I O N !: An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants, page 171
[I love this book.—Joe]


* The card-gap test is used to determine the shock sensitivity of a potentially explosive liquid. A 50-gram block of tetryl (high explosive) is detonated beneath a 40 cc sample of the liquid in question, contained in a 3″ length of 1″ iron pipe sealed at the bottom with a thin sheet of Teflon. If the liquid detonates, it punches a hole in the target plate, of 3/8″ boiler plate, sitting on top of it. The sensitivity of the liquid is measured by the number of “cards,” discs of 0.01″ thick cellulose acetate, which must be stacked between the tetryl and the sample to keep the latter from going off. Zero cards means relatively insensitive, a hundred cards means that you’d better forget the whole business. As may be imagined, the test is somewhat noisy, and best done some distance from human habitation, or, at least, from humans who can make their complaints stick.

Quote of the day—Bruce Schneier

The market can’t fix this. Markets work because buyers choose between sellers, and sellers compete for buyers. In case you didn’t notice, you’re not Equifax’s customer. You’re its product.

Bruce Schneier
September 13, 2017
On the Equifax Data Breach
[I agree with his astute observation but not his conclusion (government legislation is required).

If someone is harmed by the carelessness of another the careless person can, and rightly so, be sued for damages. How is this any different?—Joe]