Friday, October 22, 2010

Sometimes, loopholes rock.

Something not everyone knows about me.  I would like to design and build guns.  Weapon design in general is fantastically interesting due to the juxtaposition of mechanical requirements and physiological and psychological requirements.  I could go on and on about this, but maybe later.  For now, I'm just going to say that I've run across a loophole in the Federal Firearms License.  If you intend to manufacture weapons other than destructive devices (grenades, bombs, guns with a barrel larger than .50 inches other than sporting shotguns) and you intend to sell them, but only at gun shows, you do not need a Federal Firearms License.  Which is good, because I've got reason to worry about whether I'm approvable or not.

We are now one step closer to Torvaun being as well known a name as Winchester or Remington.  Or Garand.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I've been pretty busy.

Things I've done recently.  Consolidated all my debt into student loans.  Decided to apply to UW Madison's mechanical engineering school for next fall.  Hours and hours of metalcrafting.  Fewer hours of mechanical drafting.  Some computer work for a friend.  Pricing out my machine shop wishlist (Approx $16,000).  An astonishingly small amount of video-gaming, which has long been a stress-relief mainstay.  Searching for and downloading schematics for a variety of machines, which I'm using to get a head start on understanding the basics of mechanical engineering.  Figuring out what I'll need to do to convince someone to give me money to start a machining business (work in progress).

Monday, October 4, 2010

I am a left wing gun owner.

A magical, mythical beast!  The left-wing gun owner!  Get thee to the fainting couch!

Right.  Got that out of the way.  I think the biggest problem is the NRA.  Back in the day, I've heard they were good people.  Worried about making sure everyone who had a gun was using it safely and properly.  Using their expertise in the field to help draft effective legislation, like the National Firearms Act of 1934.  But now they seem to be taking the position that a heavily armed society is a polite society, pointing to every shooting and saying "this could have been stopped if everyone there was carrying a gun," citing the safety of legal gun owners, and forgetting that we are this safe because we have had safety drilled into our skulls since before we ever touched a firearm by the people who introduced us to them.  Legal ownership does not make someone a safe gun user.

The NRA has turned into nothing more than a lobbying organization playing on the legitimacy it once had.  It has done this at the behest of rich white people who think of guns as toys, and don't want to see the government getting in the way of their fun.  Now, I'll be the first to admit, shooting is fun.  At targets.  On a gun range.  While strictly observing the rules of safety.  I don't imagine myself whipping out a pistol at a mugger.  I don't imagine scenarios where me and a legally concealed handgun (not actually possible in Wisconsin) save the day from nefarious villains.  Well, I do imagine these scenarios, because I'm a prolific planner who believes and hopes that enough planning will prevent random horrors (including car accidents.  Yes, I'm deluded, and yes, cognitive dissonance sucks.)  But I don't fantasize about them.  I do not ever want to be in a situation where I need a gun.  I do not ever want to be in a situation where the best possible action is to end the life of another human being.  But I support gun ownership for people who can demonstrate safe handling and use of a gun, and I support concealed carry permits for the same after background checks and psychological evaluations.  Because if I or someone else encounter that horrible situation, I want the best possible action to be possible.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

It's been a while, I just don't really know what to talk about.

However, I am often hanging out in #teaspoons on the synIRC IRC network.  So if people are interested, you can probably find me there.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The world is now a little more like a Neal Stephenson novel.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20100921/ts_csm/327178

That link describes a new weapon.  The first of its kind.  A massively precise targeted virus attack intended to seize control of a specific industrial facility.  And then, presumably, destroy it.  This must be what people felt like back in the 40s when the atomic bomb was first unveiled.  But even that wasn't this kind of jump.  Atomic weapons were dropped from bombers, same as any other.  It was an incredible new mechanism, capable of letting one bomber destroy most of a city, but it was still a bomb dropped from a plane, impressive for smashing the incremental improvement curve.  This is transcendent.  It is a creation of the mind, something that could theoretically be done by anyone, and then carried in apparently in the pocket of an unknowing contractor until it has very real, very physical effects. 

The deliverer of this payload would pass any polygraph or brain scan.  They would have no suspicious contacts among friends or family.  They could be the most trustworthy employee you have, truly meaning you no ill-will.  And they would carry in a bomb capable of destroying your factory, a bomb that looks exactly like a useful piece of equipment, that has no markers, sets off no chemical sniffers, in the most refined version would be utterly undetectable.

I am a paranoiac.  This was only ever intensified by depression, eventually to the point where I was looking in the ceiling and the walls, and disassembling approximately everything I owned to look for signs of tampering.  And at my worst, I could have been infected by a weapon of this sort.  This could be considered the perfect payload.  Not the perfect weapon, I've got ideas on that that bypass many of the weaknesses this has, but Fat Man wasn't exactly a paragon of its kind either.  This is the first.  It will not be the last.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sometimes, the things you love don't love you back.

In my case, band saws.  Really, this is more a treatise on how no one is so smart they don't need to pay attention to safety, because I could easily have lost part or all of my thumb today if it weren't for shear* dumb luck.  The band saw is something akin to the platonic ideal of saws.  It is of industry.  This one is made to cut through hardened steel, and it will probably hit bone faster than nerve conduction velocity.  As it is, I felt the air blower that keeps the immediate work area clear on my thumb.  Further testing revealed that this is only possible within an inch of the blade.

Fingers are an interesting case as far as stuff getting chopped off.  They are completely controlled through tendons, ligaments, sinews, and all that other stuff I'd know about if I was a medical major of any sort.  No muscles in them.  To my mind, this should mean that they'd be easy as pie to make working prostheses for.  And, geek that I am, those would immediately need to be modded.  Current best ideas are a lighter, a laser pointer, or a thumb drive *rimshot*.  Comments suggesting other stuff to put in a prosthetic thumb or finger are on topic and probably hilariously awesome.


*I'm torn between not pointing out the joke and not having people tell me I did it wrong.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Cargo shipping...

Cargo Ship.  It occurs to me I maybe shouldn't start with a TVTropes link, because it'll now take hours for you to get back here.  Regular readers will remember that I'm asexual.  Well.  I have found true beauty.  It is in precision.  In my machine tools program, I am spending basically a part time job worth of time each week shaping metal to my will.  I am using machines that have the ability to be more accurate than any of our tools can measure.  I can create physical objects exactly to theoretical specifications.  There is love, and it is in picking up a knurl so precisely you can't tell where it left off.

Now, despite the trope, no.  There is no having sex with a lathe.  The best possible result isn't all that great, and the worst is absolutely horrific.