2014-11-26

Statistics: death at the hands of Police

The entire nation seems obsessed about a single death in Missouri this past summer.

Somehow, the death of a single man of a minority race at the hands of a Police officer of a majority race has turned into an excuse for a violent mob to break windows, take things, and blame Other People for problems that are likely caused by a complex mix of social forces. (This mix of social forces includes, but is not limited to, attitudes like 'I have a problem with Society, and I can express that problem by destroying/stealing property that belongs to others.')

In all of this, I stopped to think about the general subject of death-at-the-hands-of-Police-officers, as compared to violent death in general.

That's cold

Not just the weather over the past week.

The earliest sighting of ice on the Great Lakes in the past 40 years of record-keeping.

Not sure what that portends about the weather. But I was hoping for a milder winter, after the combination of snow and cold last year.

2014-11-24

A day at the range

On Saturday, I spent some time at the pistol range.

It was somewhat relaxing. Though partway through, I noticed that my hands shook slightly as I took aim. Not tension or worry: it's a kind of physical exertion that I don't do very often.

I set the target at 21 feet. Then I began shooting. I tried to hit a pace that wasn't too fast, but didn't dawdle: fire, breathe, aim; fire, breathe, aim.

Even with that, I felt like I was rushing. I had a scattering of shots to the lower-right on my target.

Something like 40% of my shots (even with slightly-shaky hands) ended up within the 10-ring on on the target. Another 30% or so were inside the 9-ring.

This feels low to me. Not dangerously low: all of the 70% would be considered good shots in a self-defense situation. (Assuming the assailant stood still long enough for me to shoot more than once...)

A distance of 21 feet is dangerously close in one regard. However, it is a challenging range to shoot a pistol at. Most of the other people at the range were working at 15 feet or less.

One man, a much more patient shooter than I, taped a playing-card to his target at a distance of 15 feet. Then he tried to shoot out the "Ace of hearts". One carefully-aimed shot at a time.

I took away two lessons. One: I need more time practicing hold-and-pull-trigger on my carry pistol. Two: I need to aim carefully. Speed can be accomplished after accuracy.

2014-11-19

Opening Day

This past weekend was Opening Day.

That is, the first day of deer hunting in Michigan. (I know, first day of firearms-deer season. Bow hunters have been hunting since the beginning of October.)

I didn't go this year.

I've gone many years. Only once did I draw and fire on a deer. Missed that time (with a compound-bow). Mostly because I didn't read the distance correctly.

This year, I spent some time practicing my marksmanship. (Both bow and rifle.) But I didn't go hunting.

I guess I like marksmanship more than hunting.

2014-11-12

Missed it...

Armistice Day, now known as Veterans Day, is past.

The Armistice took place in 1918, at the 11th hour of the morning on the 11th day of November. It was an end to the fighting of the Great War.

As Tam mentioned a year ago:, it is hard to grasp how many young men marched to death on a daily basis during the Great War. A mix of old tactics and new technology contributed to a four-year-long war with little military progress. The count of soldiers killed or wounded runs into the millions for Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and Austria-Hungary. It runs into the hundreds of thousands for most other countries listed.

The horror of that industrial-scale bloodletting is hard to grasp. While it is now beyond the edge of living memory, the marks it has left on Europe are long and deep.

The Armistice was an end to the deadly struggle, and the beginning of a new global order.

While Veterans day is supposed to be about the living, it is also a reminder of the scars that the Great War left on the world.

2014-11-10

On this day in history...

Actually, yesterday.

The Berlin Wall was opened on the 9th of November, 1989.

That summer, a large number of people left East Germany via Hungary. Later, they went through Czeckoslovakia. Demonstrations and a Peaceful Revolution culminated in the government of East Germany deciding to allow refugees to cross the border freely.

A combination of events--TV broadcasts of the announcement, poor communication between leadership of the German Democratic Republic and the soldiers at the gates, a crowd of people wanting to leave, and no one willing to issue orders to kill protesters at the Wall--led to the guards at the gate letting people through.

The Wall was opened that November. It was not torn down for some time after.

It was the beginning of the end of the Warsaw Pact. And it was the foreshadowing of the fall of Communism in the Soviet Union.

2014-11-07

Cars

I recently thought a lot about cars, repair, and diagnosis.

On a more prosaic front, I didn't ride my motorcycle as often this year as I did last year.

Last year, my four-wheeled vehicle was a Jeep. She had many nice features (height in traffic, towing power, ground clearance). However, I rarely had need of those features.

This year is my first full year of driving a Subaru sedan with a manual transmission. It's much more fun to drive.

Not just the manual transmission: the all-wheel-drive, the steering, and acceleration profile are all more enjoyable.

Of course, weather this past summer may not have been as friendly to riding as in years previous. And I spend less time thinking about the cost of fuel. (For the motorcycle, I spent between $0.10 and $0.11 per mile. In my Subaru, I've been paying nearly $0.15 per mile. The Jeep cost me above $0.20 per mile last year.)

Next year, I may ride more--or less--as opportunity arises. I may even purchase a motorcycle that is less than three decades old.

However, I think I'll keep the Subaru for some time.