Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bostodelphia 21 Gun Salute to the Firearms of 2007 #7: Remmington M24 Sniper Weapon System

The Remmington M24 Sniper Weapon System (SWS) is the standard issue rifle for snipers in the U.S. Army. Both Remmington and official Army jargon refer to this rifle as a "system" as opposed to simply a "rifle" because of the essential use of a scope and other accessories beyond the basic working of the rifle proper in the sniper's mission. According to Remmington's specifications, the M24 is 43" in length, has a combat weight of 6.5 kg with an integral 5 round magazine, capable of firing either 7.62 Nato or Winchester 300 Magnum ammunition. It has an effective range of 800 meters with its day scope, and over 300 meters with its night scope.

Some U.S. Army snipers in Iraq issued the M24 have come under media and military justice fire for tactics allegedly given them by the army's Asymmetric Warfare Group. Apparently, the AWG advised sniper teams to plant explosives, wire, rifles, and other materials useful to insurgents as "bait" to draw insurgents into a sniper's sites. Because this tactic is part of larger classified program of instruction the AWG provides a broad range of Army units, the existence of this program leaves the civilian observer wanting for clarification. For example, it's unclear why active, organized, and presumably covertly operating insurgents would risk picking up materials outside of their particular faction's supply chain. It's also unclear how a sniper is to determine whether someone in contact with the bait materials is indeed an insurgent or other "bad guy" as opposed to someone troubled with or made curious by such materials in his or her neighborhood or path. What is clear is that this tactic, while controversial, is apparently legitimate in the military and its oversight's eyes, as the snipers in the referenced court martial covered by the Timeswere tried not for employing these tactics, but adapting them to place "drop weapons" on the corpses of Iraqis to justify their shootings.

Che Rambo?

Is it just me, or is a certain poster campaign for an upcoming film trying to capture a certain popular revolutionary icon's graphic style?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Bostodelphia 21 Gun Salute to the Firearms of 2007 #6: Bersa Thunder 380 Concealed Carry

Specific makes and models of firearms are hard to come by in the major market media's coverage of gun use. Bostodelphia selects the Bersa Thunder 380 Concealed Carry as number six in our 21 gun salute to 2007 because we were looking for a .380 semi-automatic pistol that met the descriptors "easily concealed" and "cheap" for reasons you'll see below. The Bersa .380 came out on top of our search. It is also to our knowledge the first firearm on our list to receive the endorsement "pocket rocket" from a YouTube gun model.

Jeff Quinn clears things up over at Gunblast. The Bersa 380 is not so much "cheap" as a serious "bargain." In Quinn's own words on the weapon itself:

The Concealed Carry (CC) is a slimmed and trimmed version of the Bersa Thunder .380, and the subtle changes make a big difference in the feel and concealability of the weapon. The CC weighs in at only 17.4 ounces unloaded, and is about the same size as my J-frame Smith & Wesson. The CC uses the same eight-shot magazines of the Thunder, but with a flat magazine floorplate for better concealment. The grip panels are very thin, but textured for a secure grasp. The backstrap is rounded and grooved, with finger grooves machined into the frame for a very comfortable hold. All of the controls are low-profile, but easy to reach and operate. The thumb safety is right side only, serves to safely drop the hammer without firing the weapon, and imposes a block between the hammer and firing pin, while disconnecting the trigger. The weapon also has a magazine disconnect safety, rendering the pistol inoperable when the magazine is removed. On the left side of the slide is a loaded chamber indicator. On the left side of the frame, just above the trigger, is an internal key lock for those who like to use such devices to secure the weapon from firing. Also on the left side is the slide release lever and magazine release button. On the right side of the frame is the take-down latch for easy disassembly of the weapon for cleaning. Like its big brother, the Concealed Carry has a barrel that is fixed to the frame, which also serves as a recoil spring guide rod. It is a very simple, reliable blow-back operated weapon. As stated earlier, the Bersa CC is very close in size to a five-shot thirty-eight, but is much thinner. It conceals very well in a jeans pocket or a slim holster. In an inside-the-pants holster, it would all but disappear. It is a very concealable weapon, and with a nine-shot total capacity, offers almost twice the firepower of the five-shot thirty-eight. Needless to say, I was elated when the long-awaited little pistol finally arrived. (emphasis added by Bostodelphia --cti)

With our selection thoroughly covered by the well-versed Mr. Quinn, we at Bostoldephia can now dwell on the factor that drew this firearm to our attention, concealability. Aside from avoiding whatever social stigma open carriage of a firearm may draw down upon ou, so to speak, the ability to conceal your weapon is just the feature one may want in order to get the jump on one's opponents. It's unknown whether the Bersa Thunder 380 Concealed Carry was the .380 automatic a particular individual was packing when he attempted to ambush two workers in an attempted robbery of David Geppert Recycling this past October. What is now known is the element of surprise may be lost when you yourself are surprised that the employees of your target business are encouraged to carry weapons themselves and use them if accosted by an armed robber.

It should be said that firearms and recycling's meeting in Philadelphia need not always be so violent. Rather, while a local artist isn't exactly implementing the swords to plowshares principle to the letter, unless you wish to wax metaphorical about furrowing the fields of fashion or whatnot, her gesture is appreciated in a city with a lot of lethal iron lying around.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Bostodelphia 21 Gun Salute to the Firearms of 2007 #5: Glock 19

The Glock 19 is an extremely popular weapon amongst law enforcement and private citizens. Firing the 9mm cartridge, it can use magazines with capacities from 10-33 rounds. Online price seems to be about $450.

This gun gained a new infamy when it was used by Seung-Hui Cho in the April 16, 2007 Virginia Tech Massacre. There is a tremendous amount of acrimony regarding gun control in the United States. This crime was so terrible and the risk of the mentally ill gaining access to firearms is such an obviously bad idea that even Wayne la Pierre was on board with a new bill with Democrats in Congress to enhance background checks on handgun purchases.

Ron Paul is against the Civil War

From the Washington Post:

And he decried the Civil War, calling it a needless effort for which hundreds of thousands of Americans paid with their lives. He rejected that the war spelled the end to slavery in the United States, saying that the U.S. government could have simply bought the slaves from the Confederate States of America and freed them.

That's right, Ron Paul would have preferred making slavery vastly profitable for the Confederacy over ending this scourge on the American landscape. Look, the Civil War was incredibly nasty and its aftereffects still echo throughout American culture and politics to this day, but to call it "needless" is just ludicrous. Stick a fork in this guy, he's done.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Xmas from Bostodelphia!

Happy Holidays from Bostodelphia's deadly sandwich and well-protected fish. Cheesesteak will be away until the weekend, so unless Coddy can get away from his family to dwell in our arms locker, the 2007 gun show salute will be taking a bit of hiatus.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Safeties On: A-Team Operating Ahead

Taking a break from our year-end arsenal, I was searching online for an image I've seen on the Philadelphia streets promoting the new Rambo to little avail. However, perhaps in consolation, the magic of Google did direct me to Niall Browne's report at Screenrant regarding the script for a movie version of The A-Team to be helmed by John Singleton. Based on a posting that has since been taken down from Moviehole, Browne provides the following brief synopsis and reaction:

Hannibal, Face and B.A are set-up by some villainous soldiers who stage a heist in a Baghdad museum. Face cuts a deal and is set free, while his two friends are sent to a military prison. However, while in prison Hannibal and B.A meet and befriend Murdock: a crazy Captain with a bipolar disorder. Following a prison break, they set out to get revenge and clear their names.

Now, let's get one thing straight, I'm no A-Team purist. I watched the show as a kid, and I've probably seen it four times in the last twenty years (yes, I'm that old), but this film sounds like it's just another example of stealing the name of a television show to help marketing the movie.

The comments to Browne's post were in a similar vein. Readers were appalled at the idea of Face betraying his friends, one speculated that Dirk Benedict's Face character will be re-sexed a la Starbuck in SciFi's Galactica re-imagining, and there was a bunch of jibber jabber pitying the fools responsible for this faithless travesty to the original (B.A. lingo lifted from memory-jogging Screenrant participant Jae Senn).

Now, as stated above the MovieHole script review has been taken down, so all I got is Browne's synopsis to guide my thinking. That said, man, these pre-emptive haters have no imagination. Or memory of the original apparently.

Need they be reminded of the show's opening narration:

In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire... The A-Team.
Wikipedia provides the definition of that crime, which fits my memory of the show:
During the Vietnam War, the A-Team's commanding officer, Colonel Morrison, gave them orders to rob the Bank of Hanoi to help bring the war to an end. They succeeded in their mission, but on returning to their base four days after the end of the war, they found their C.O. murdered by the Viet Cong and his headquarters burned to the ground. Therefore no proof existed that the A-Team were acting under orders, and they were sent to prison by a military court. They were sent to Fort Bragg, from which they escaped before they could actually stand trial.

Seems to me, setting the A-Team up to rob the International Museum of Iraq (which in real life apparently was looted by everyone else in Iraq except the American army) is an audience-accessible update for the "crime they didn't commit." It's unclear from Browne's synopsis if Hannibal and B.A. bust out with Murdoch to get revenge on Face or not. My hunch would be Face's "betrayal" is part of one of Hannibal's plans coming together (to Hannibal's love and cigar). They know they're screwed in the courts, so Face goes "turncoat" to lay the groundwork on the outside for his buddies' escape.

I don't think they'll 'Starbuck' Face, at least if they hold to the notion that the A-Team are special forces (women still can't fill that job in today's army). However, there could be another outside contact, and strong female character, if they reboot "Triple A" Amy, the journalist who helped them out in the series. Write her as an embed with them in Iraq to cement some bond between her and the team before she's needed.

Beyond this, I'm a little confused about all this news coming out in the midst of a writers strike. Also, who thinks the film will hold onto the bloodless gun, explosive and car demolition violence of the series? I'm pretty sure critics won't stand for special forces soldiers coming out of Iraq to deal nerf-like violence stateside, I'm not sure about audiences though.

An updated A-Team coming out of Iraq is interesting. The whole "reinvent the properties of the 80s" thing going on in Hollywood aside, the original A-Team has been seen as part of American culture's acceptance, however sophomoric, of Viet-Nam as part of America's cultural history. I don't know if the U.S. is ready for that with Iraq, witness the cancellation of Over There, the dismal box office of Redacted, Valley of Eljah, and a bunch of other non-documentary films, presumably for their "too soon-ness." Then again, ER and Las Vegas had successful plotlines involving characters in Iraq, but those were more broadly conceived shows addressing current events than a show focused in its conception on the current event. Somewhere between these successes and failures is the Quatar special forces camp in Transformers, but I'll be trying to wrap my typing around that one at some point in a later post.

Personally, if you want to see what I think will be one of the lasting Hollywood images addressing the Iraq War, you'll have to sit through the almost entirely otherwise disappointing Southland Tales for Justin Timberlake's beer soaked lip-syncing dance number to The Killer's "All These Thing's That I've Done."

Oh wait, looks like through liberal interpretation of intellectual property laws, one may find fair use access to the shot here:

(Whoops, Southland Tales reminds me that Dwayne Johnson, while still performing as "The Rock" starred in a remake of Walking Tall that made Johnson's character a returning war vet, instead of the original and real life basis's retired profesional wrestler, maybe to avoid confusion. I got a feeling that one tanked critically for reasons besides any relationship it had with the war).

Bostodelphia 21 Gun Salute to the Firearms of 2007 #4: Heritage Rough Rider SA .22 Revolver

Number four in our twenty-one gun salute to 2007 was selected for the budget conscious. Made in the U.S.A., the Heritage Rough Rider single action .22 revolver has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of just over $160, but simply typing "Heritage Rough Rider" and ".22." into Google gives product search results as low as a little over $140.

While the phrase "Saturday Night Special" is more a term of journalism and politics than technical classification, .22 revolvers like the Heritage Rough Rider are cheap guns. In the online gun culture, some reference is made to "kit" or "starter" guns, usually with .22 revolvers in mind, presumably having something to do with their ease of use and low monetary investment. For instance, in a 2003 post on plans to attend Washington state gun show, gun blogger "Jeffersonian" opines, "Not expecting to expand the collection, unless I find a splendid deal on a .22 revolver for luring people into the gun culture." If the AK-47 makes our salute (duh), there may well be some punning about "gateway drugs". However, we at Bostodelphia want to point out here that some in the self-styled gun culture do apparently speak of "gateway guns."

And sometimes the gateway opens a bit prematurely, and accidentally. Last June, Philadelphia media reported about an incident around the Wonderland Pier of Ocean City, N.J. where an off duty Philadelphia police officer lost his (presumably personal, non service) North American Arms .22 magnum revolver. Unlike the gun pictured in this post, the gun in this incident can actually fit in the palm of an adult's hand, and apparently can be easily mistaken for a toy. In fact, the 16 year old girl who found it initially thought it was cap pistol until she fired it into a sand dune. Still, she held onto it, even taking it on one of the pier's rides. Fortunately, this incident doesn't go much beyond embarrassment for an unnamed police officer as the girl and the girl's mother turned the weapon in after reports of the officer's missing piece were televised.

That said, less than a month later, a .22 revolver, perhaps more along the lines of the Rough Rider, initiated self-styled thug Charles Meyer into the American incarceration system. Meyers, 18 at the time, shot once and killed 14 year old Tykeem Law. Law was riding a bicycle in front of car transporting Meyer, and Law's unwillingness, reluctance, or inability to clear out of the vehicle's way to Meyer's satisfaction apparently prompted Meyer's firing. "With a body on him," as the thugs put it, Meyer was welcomed into the "inside" of the criminal fraternity with a variation of open arms: a courthouse holding cell beating on the day of his arraignment that postponed his hearing until late September.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Bostodelphia 21 Gun Salute to the Firearms of 2007 #3: SIG P226 9mm

Number three in our 21 gun salute to 2007 is our first pistol, the Sig Sauer P226. Chambered for 9mm, given a 12 pound trigger pull, and configured for DAO fire, the P226 is one of three pistols authorized for use as a NYPD service weapon. As a gun produced as a "service weapon" yet also produced for the civilian market, the P226 apparently runs the risk of losing a literal "beauty contest" that apparently takes place within the non-service weapon marketplace. For instance, take Jan Libourel's qualification within his otherwise excellent review of the piece in The Arms Sight:

Let's face it, some handguns are loaded with glamour, allure, "sex appeal" or whatever you want to call it - the Luger is one such gun that comes to mind, the Colt Python another. The SIG-Sauer P-226 is not such a pistol; it's built strictly for business. If your primary interest in a handgun is as an object of aesthetic contemplation a lovely thing with lustrous polish and blueing and a figured exotic wood stock, I suggest you forget about the P-226 right now and turn to the next article. If, on the other hand, you might be interested in a superbly accurate, rugged, reliable service auto that may just be the best thing of its kind in the world today, then read on ...
Having forgotten the likely metaphorical origins of colloquial references to a pistol as a "piece", the admittedly not gun buying contributors to Bostodelphia had not considered the above discussed "vanity" criteria to the gun buying market. This factor will certainly be weighed as we continue with our salute; but before continuing our salute to the P226 as an NYPD service weapon, it should be mentioned in the interest of fairness that Sig Sauer does manufacture, among a number of configurations, a special edition of this sidearm crossbranded in collaboration with a company that has been noted this year for both its service and vanity, Blackwater USA. As we're not sure whether the Blackwater P226 is in fact standard issue among Blackwater operators, and being sure that Blackwater will come up again at some point during our salute, we'll now return to the P226's more humble, less mercenary, service.

While actual statistics on the number of P226s on the streets with the NYPD have not been discovered by Bostodelphia, we'll gamble that there is a good chance a plain clothes police officer was carrying a P226 when she was assaulted by Philadelphia CBS3 anchor Alycia Lane. While this incident has generally been discussed in terms of Lane's recent scandal-checked and bad judgment call colored career, it wouldn't be Bostodelphia's Saulte to the Firearms of 2007, if we didn't also mention that Lane's career also included as a stint and anchor for NYC's Cable 12, where she covered the 1999 "41 shots" police shooting of Amadou Diallo. While members of Bostodelphia have propagated elsewhere the conspiracy theory that this whole incident was staged as "payback" against Lane's coverage, we weren't really taking that flight of paranoia seriously.

Bostodelphia 21 Gun Salute to the Firearms of 2007 #2: FN SCAR

Our second gun of 2007 is the FN S.C.A.R. (SOF Combat Assault Rifle). This was scheduled for limited testing by US Special Operations in the fall of 2007. Beating out 9 rivals in a competition, it is a completely new rifle chambered in both 5.56mm and 7.62mm and is available with 3 barrel lengths. A civilian version is anticipated for release in 2008.

According to UZI4U:

All of the traditional rifles are considerable improvements. Let's compare the FN SCAR to the M16/M4 for a minute:

Folding stock: SCAR has it, M16/M4 cannot have one by design.

Monolithic upper: SCAR has it, M16/M4 do not.

Free float barrel: SCAR has it, service M16s and M4s do not.

Quick change barrel: SCAR has it, service M16s and M4s do not.

Easy to clean gas-system: SCAR has it, service M16s and M4s do not.

The ability to rechamber the weapon into a different caliber without replacing the upper: SCAR has it, M16s and M4s cannot by design.

Then we can go into all the little improvements... Like the receiver being better sealed to keep sand and dirt out (just a little important these days). Or the fact the SCAR has an actual charging handle, making it much easier to chamber a round while prone. Or the fact the SCAR has better ergonomics and is more ambidextrous.
So there you have it. The regular troops soldier on with the M16 and M4 rifles, which are somewhat notorious for their need for regular cleaning and dislike of sand and dust, while the relpacement, the XM8, has been cancelled. Meanwhile the Special Forces get what sounds like a very capable weapon.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Bostodelphia 21 Gun Salute to the Firearms of 2007 #1: Hi Point 995 Carbine

Our inaugural firearm for 2007 is the Hi-Point 995, a semi-automatic carbine chambered for 9mm pistol ammunition, holding a 10-15 round magazine in its pistol grip, manufactured for the civilian market, and popular for its simple design and low price point (the laser-sited model pictured has a manufacturer suggested retail price of $295, a "basic" version of the rifle lists for $220, though online discussions suggest it can be purchased within the $190 ballpark).

Gun blogger Mr. Completely sums up his experience with Hi-Point 995 carbine as follows:

Overall impression: I really liked it! Is it a high precision, close tolerance firearm? Nope, not even close. It is exactly what it was intended to be, a reasonably priced, durable carbine that's fun to shoot, and it's ALL of that, and more.

In comments to Mr. Completely's review, a discussion developed addressing this gun's hunting potential. While we here at Bostodelphia are not armorers or gunsmiths, based on the content of the review, we found the most eloquent insight into this weapon in these two responses:
1. 9mm is NOT an acceptable deer cartridge. You would have to be retarded or starving to try to take a deer with this rifle. Taking a 9mm on a deer hunt is completely unethical, as any deer you shoot is more likely to never be recovered and die slowly of infection over the next few weeks.
2. Hi-points are pieces of junk marketed to criminals. The sporting goods store I work in has stopped taking special orders of these guns because of the high number of "denies" we get back on NICS background checks of people trying to order these guns. Usually we receive a deny back from NICS less than 1% of the time ( I was bored one day and counted) with Hi-Points products we get a "deny" back 20%+ of the time. I have a very strong suspicion that all these positive reviews I have seen of Hi-Points online are coming from a few select very questionable sources with a profit motive.
You should never hunt anything larger than a coyote with a 9mm - it just doesn't have the oomph to do the job humanely, reliably. Even the 40 [Hi-Point manufactures a .40 caliber version of the carbine as well -- ed.]is less than should be used for deer hunting.
Do yourself a favor, and don't hunt with this carbine. Use it if you have it in hand for pest control (wild cats, coyotes, etc), but that's it. Use a good high-power rifle for deer hunting, not this thing.
As to a certain type of gun attracting criminals, I don't believe it.[speculation on the 20% denial figure, based on a questionable understanding of the straw purchase market deleted--ed.]

For our 2007 salute, the Hi-Point 995 was the only actual firearm (if you can even see it) amidst this assembled to impress display of police and prosecutorial confiscatory power:

All the other menacing banana clip, pump action, and bipod-mounted hardware here are airsoft weapons, bb gun replicas of military weapons. It should also be noted that no ammunition for the Hi-Point was found when this arsenal was seized, nor ever was found.

This impressive-when-photographed-at-a-press-conference haul was seized from Dillon Cossey, a 14 year old alleged to have been planning a "Columbine" style attack on Montgomery County's Plymouth Whitemarsh High School. Cossey was just sentenced a couple of days ago after pleading guilty in juvenile court to charges of criminal solicitation, risking a catastrophe and possession of an instrument of crime. Yes, it is true that Cossey had online disucssions about murder with eventual Finnish gunman Pekka-Eric Auvinen, he did have Klebold/Harris shrine, etc. He was clearly a disturbed individual, and needed the help he's hopefully getting within the state mental health care system. However, despite the grandstanding before prop guns of District Attorney Bruce L. Castor, and the community guardian pose struck by Judge Paul "You'll Never Do This in My Community Again" Tressler, no bullet was really dodged here, as there were no bullets.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

This Blog Blows (Me Away)

I have not indulged in Rumpleminze, nor do I intend to.* Yeah, we're busy in greater Bostodelphia. The fact that Ron Paul Air Command chickened out of parading their flagship anywhere near our radar, let alone over our sights, seriously stymied our plans.

C'mon this is the official do nothing time of year. I mean should we stoop to the level of the major market media as well as media 2.0 and put out a "Top Arbitrary Number of Something We Claim to Know a Thing or Two About, 2007".

Actually, it's 4:21 as I type this, and I just got high time for an idea (no idea what that means). In tribute to the MIA, AWOL even before he was supposed to report for duty, Necco Commando: a 21 Gun Salute to the Firearms of 2007. 21 posts between now and New Year's, each one in tribute to a firearm that somehow speaks to 2007. Let the volley begin!

*I am however open to endorsing anyone, of whatever standing, who'll ship me a bottle of Middleton's. Perhaps one of you gun manufacturers looking for some good press in the forthcoming salute.

This blog sucks

Perhaps it's the incessant snow. Maybe it's Cheesesteak's overindulgence in Rumplemintz. Likely we've just been too damn busy.

But we have to post more. CtI, post something dammit.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Footnote Marches On

While the blimp apparently was confined to the Carolinas on account of weather, the Ron Paul people staged another money bomb to coincide with the 234th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. More later, maybe.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Worst. Commute. Ever.

Ahhh...a quick passing storm went through eastern MA tonight. 8" of snow fell from 1pm to 8pm. No big deal, I left work at 1:30, got to my town an hour later - a mere 30 minutes longer than usual when taking back roads. I got onto the street I live off of, which is a feeder road from downtown to both the Mass Pike (a.k.a. Massachusetts Turnpike a.k.a.Rt-90) and Rt-95.

And there I sat. Over the course of the next 3.5 HOURS to go 0.4 miles. There was no where to go in either direction, it was a total jam. I should have listened to my instincts and ditched my car in a local restaurant's parking lot and walked home but nooooo I was too dumb to do so. I ended up leaving the car further up the street (and an hour of sitting in traffic) in the parking garage of the local medical center with their permission. I'll get it early in the morning. Without real snow tires I never would have made it to the parking garage since their access road was virtually unplowed. Ah yes, the winter combo of a Swedish car and Finnish snow tires is tough to beat. I then walked the rest of the 1.1 miles home.

The problem was actually due to a hill next to my apartment building. For some reason, while it's not that steep a slope, it gets extremely icy and there are frequent accidents and spinouts there in winter. Those going up the hill were just helpless and were sliding all over both lanes, so people trying to come down the hill (the direction I wanted to go in) could barely pass by. Look people: all-season tires (with the exception of the Nokian WR) are not adequate in real winter weather. And it snows every frickin' year.

Verily, this was the worst commute I have ever experienced. Total travel time: 5 hours. Normal travel time: 25 minutes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007 Afraid of Atheism?

Cod's mentioning of the Repub's Jesus pushing/pandering reminded of something in the pop culture world I wanted to take up last week. Last week's poll asks:

"Some Catholics say The Golden Compass is anti-church; the filmmakers deny it. Will you see it or avoid it because of this?"

Fair question. The Golden Compass has indeed got a lot of well publicized grief from lay Catholic groups (to my knowledge no ordained Church official has issued any announcement). However, the responses the poll allowed made some pretty clumsy assumptions about potential movie goers, particularly the sort who would frequent
1.) I'll see it and make up my own mind.
2.) I know the books are anti-religion, so I'll pass.
3.) Depends. How different is the film?

Where in this poll is something along the lines of "I'm aware of the implicit attack on establishment religions; and as an atheist, agnostic, or a believer in spirituality unfettered from the dictates of established religions, I have no problem with that position. In fact, I welcome such an 'advanced' idea within a mainstream media offering"?

This poll implicitly embraces the notion that atheistic perspectives are somehow damaging or problematic. Even what I'd call the "progressive" option, which the majority of pollsters selected, implies a decision must be made whether The Golden Compass is indeed dangerously anti-religous or "safe."

Really, the science fiction audience includes a not insignificant portion who have been exposed to atheistic perspectives in their pursuit of science fiction. In fact, quite a lot of science fiction , fantasy, and horror (including most recently the much The Mist) pretty openly declares that excessive God-fearing, not non belief or heterodoxy, is the real problem in our world.

I suppose soft-pedaling the surfeit of atheistic and a-religious perspectives within the genre from which gets its name may well be buckling to the market pressures of perceived "mainstream audience" sensitivities. Still, going back to the notion that some of the best works of the genre strive to appeal to an audience that "knows better" than those sensitivities, I couldn't help but feel was insulting its audience's intelligence in this instance.

And speaking of the Republican candidates...

The Republican candidates are collectively nuts on a number of topics, torture and illegal immigrants being amongst them. You've got them collectively endorsing torture, bashing immigrants while hiring them, and calling for a bigger tougher military and aggressive foreign policy. Meanwhile they also deny evolution and pushing Jesus on the rest of us (note to Romney who claims religion is necessary for freedom: are you utterly unacquainted with human history? Sheesh).

Of course the 'respectable' media doesn't call them on any of this insanity. Here's what I predict to see in the last Republican debate...

An illegal immigrant from Mexico is brought onto the stage. He is tackled by Tom Tancredo and held down while Ron Paul tasers him into submission. Romney and Giuliani then proceed to waterboard the guy while Huckabee praises Jesus. At this point McCain waves a sealed envelope containing evidence the poor guy was affiliated with the Oaxaca branch of Al-Qaeda and demands justice. The Republicans then fall on the purported Islamic Mexican terrorist/illegal immigrant/gay/migrant farm worker and beat him to death. Afterwards, the Giuliani and Romney camps will have dueling press releases over who was tougher on the now-deceased victim, Giuliani with his steel-toed boot kicks to the head or Romney using a spiked baseball bat to the gut. And the media will calmly discuss as though such a spectacle is an utterly ordinary affair in US politics.

Ron Paul Resurrection

Well, this guy fell off our radar too for a bit; and it looks like the MSM is currently fixated on the Huckabee v. Romney v. Giuliani threeway (an epic battle of monstrous political views I think we can safely term Destroy All Integrity. But he's back with an air force!

Now there'll be more said on this aerial maneuver in future posts. For instance, there's interesting campaign finance "logic" being applied here; but for the time being we at Bostodelphia are particularly tickled with this brand of optimism:

Imagine.. the mainstream media is mesmerized as the image of the Ron Paul blimp is shown to tens of millions of Americans throughout the day (and throughout the month).

Imagine: the major market media (new term coined, trademarked Bostodelphia, out of annoyance with the aforementioned MSM) are going to be captivated by a blimp. Does Goodyear even have their branded blimp anymore? Like the efforts of grassroots Ron Paul supporters to associate November's money bomb with the parliament bombing imagery of Guy Falkes and V for Vendetta, is it really smart to associate their candidate with a giant bag of hot air? I've been wrong on Ron Paul before, at least according to Ron Paul's own news machine. However, I think there's just something to kamakaze-quaint in this earnest effort to use really old media to generate Ron Paul buzz. In short, an attempt to get big media exposure without making media buys; but really, when was the last time a blimp made major news?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Sandbag woes

After several days, I have yet to get in a workout with the ole Ultimate Sandbag. The play sand I bought leaked dust from the polypropylene filler bags. I also created too many filler bags and couldn't get more than 60 lbs into the sandbag, which will hold up to 80. I already have a 53 lb kettlebell so I'm looking to max out the sandbag.

Ironmind recommends all-purpose sand to avoid the stone dust with their filler bags. I should have listened... Now I have managed to stuff 90 lbs of sand in 2 filler bags in, but it's one at each end and the sandbag acts like it's hinged in the middle.

I am considering just punting and taking a tip from K2 Fitness, and just filling the Ultimate Sandbag with pea or fine gravel. No filler bags needed (the US has a massive zipper and a cover flap with huge snaps, so it won't leak gravel) and with smaller gravel I should still get close to 80 lbs.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Almost completely missed Day of the Ninja again.