On This Day: My Favorite Mormon is Born.

John Moses Browning.  Born, January 23, 1855.

Best known as a prolific inventor and firearms designer.

Born in Ogden Utah, from the age of seven, John followed in his father’s footsteps working in his father’s gun shop where he learned basic engineering and manufacturing and was encouraged to experiment with new concepts.  He developed his first rifle, a single-shot falling block action at the age of 23 and he received his first firearms patent at age 24 for this self-cocking single shot rifle.  He and his brother opened the Browning Arms Company and hand made the rifles.

A few  years later, Winchester Repeating Arms Company noted the Browning rifle bought the design from the Brownings and moved production to Connecticut, where it was produced as the Winchester Model 1885  From 1883 (Browning was 28) Browning worked in partnership with Winchester, designing for them a number of arms including the lever action model 1886 rifle

In 1887, at the age of 32 he took a two year hiatus from his gun work to go on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) in Georgia.

When he returned it was with a bang (so to speak) continuing to work with Winchester on the Lever action Model 1892, 1894, and 1895 rifles.  the Model 1894 is still in production today with over 7.5 million produced, first by Winchester Repeating Arms, then by US Repeating Arms under the Winchester brand, then by the Japanese company Miroku (imported to the US by the Browning Arms company).

Browning’s ongoing relationship with Winchester came to an end with Remington’s design of a long-recoil autoloading (semi-automatic) shotgun (what would become the Browning Auto 5).  Previously Winchester had paid him a flat fee for each design.  This time, Browning wanted a royalty arrangement, a fee for each gun sold, which stood to make him more money in the event that the shotgun proved popular.  When Winchester balked at the idea, Browning approached Remington Arms, but as fate would have it the death of Remington’s president from a heart attack interrupted any attempted deal.  Browning ended up going to Fabrique Nationale.  This was the first mass-produced semi-automatic shotgun in the world.

The list of Browning firearms just goes on and on.  Perhaps the most famous is the M1911 semi-automatic pistol.  The military, unhappy with the performance of service revolvers in .38 Long Colt in the Moro War were looking for a new sidearm.  The request was for a semi-automatic pistol in not less than .45 caliber.  Six companies submitted designs.  Three were eliminated outright.  The remaining three had problems identified and of them, only Colt (Browning’s design) and Savage resubmitted to address the problems.

In one key test, six thousand rounds were fired through the pistols over the course of two days.  When the pistols grew too hot, they were simply dunked in water to cool them.  The Browning design passed with no reported malfunctions.  The Savage design had 37.

Browning went on to develop guns after his success with the 1911.  Further designs include the Browning Automatic Rifle, the M1919 .30 cal machine gun, the M2 .50 cal machine gun, and the Browning Hi-Power 9mm pistol.

On November 26, 1926 while in Liege, Belgium, John Browning passed away leaving behind an unparalleled legacy of advances in firearms design.  Most modern firearms owe at least something to the legacy of John Browning.

Liberty and Border Security

I just have to shake my head.  A lot of “pro-liberty” types, particularly among the “Big-L Libertarians” object to the idea of a barrier at the border and about border security in general.

Look, I get it.  In an ideal world we’d have unlimited freedom of movement.  Individuals might be able to determine who could, or could not, enter their personal property but beyond that there would be no restrictions on where a person can go if they choose to do so.  The problem is that we don’t live in that ideal world, and probably never will.

This ideal world of everybody living in voluntary coexistence, with no threats or other problems arising that cannot be handily dealt with as individuals or as groups of volunteers, where all funding is by voluntary contributions and/or exchanges?  It’s no more achievable than the socialist fantasy of a carefully planned economy where each individual is subordinated to the greater good leading to greater prosperity.  Mind you, that it’s not achievable in totality does not mean we can’t work in that direction.  Unlike socialism, increased freedom and reduced forced (usually government but not always) intervention in people’s lives leads to greater prosperity so even moving a little in that direction is generally a good thing.

But not all moves “in that direction” are equally good.

One of the big problems those of us who favor increased individual liberty and reduced government interference in people’s lives is selling that idea to the masses of people who are frightened of the responsibility that comes with that.  Fear of failure (economically or otherwise) leaving one destitute drives a lot of the calls for a “safety net”, by which they mean resources taken by force from the productive to give to those who can’t or won’t produce.  People worry about the worst that can happen:  What if I lose my job to foreign competition?  What if robots make my job obsolete?  What if we run out of something I want?  What if?  What if?  What if?

“Government needs to do something about it!”

Given how much trouble we have convincing people who grew up here that liberty is a good thing is the cause of liberty really furthered by importing, wholesale, people to whom the very concept is a totally alien thought?  Now, that doesn’t mean all immigrants are like that.  Far from it.  There are always a few cantankerous ones who will rebel against even early conditioning that “the government should…”, “the government must…” and “the government will…” is just the way of the world.  It’s those people we want coming here, people to whom liberty is more than just a word in the dictionary somewhere between “late” and “loser”.  We can handle a few who are “the government should…” types, but too many of those, tipping the culture war even further in that direction, will ensure that we lose freedom here.  And if we lose freedom here…

And it’s only a minor help to ensure that these new immigrants, immigrants that don’t believe in the ideal of liberty, are excluded from voting.  Whether they vote or not, they become part of the cultural stewpot and politics is downstream of culture.

So, yes, I favor border security, not because I oppose liberty but because I so ardently support it.  We need one place in the world where liberty is the watchword.  We who favor it are already enough of a minority.  That doesn’t mean it’s an unwinnable fight.  As Sam Adams said “It does not take a majority to prevail… but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.” However, the more anti-liberty individuals one brings in, the harder that fight becomes.

You can say that it’s not these people’s fault and you’d be right.  They come from places where all their environment and upbringing tells them that the supremacy of government is just the way of the world.  Even when they revolt it’s not to replace tyranny with liberty.  It’s to replace someone else’s autocratic government with their own.  It’s hard, amazingly hard, to throw off early conditioning like that.

It might be a different thing if it weren’t for the simple truth that supporters of autocratic government totally dominate both education and entertainment in the US.  So, when folk come from autocratic regimes, they get here and are not taught the value and virtue of liberty.  Instead, they are told that they’re “oppressed.”  They’re told that only more government can save them.  They are told that “liberty” is their very enemy.

This is why immigration must be controlled.  Ideally we would have people come here who favor liberty and want to participate in the freedom of being Americans.  The very first step would be to actually obey our laws on immigration.  The bar on legal immigration is high, to be sure, but as one immigrant friend of mine put it, “the people we want will crawl across broken glass to get here.”  Mind you, I do agree that legal immigration is too hard and the waits are often too long, but that’s a reason for reforming legal immigration, not just giving up on immigration enforcement entirely.

Allowing a blank check to anyone who walks across an invisible line on the ground?  That’s a sure way to tip the balance toward those who favor autocracy to liberty.

Exercising the New Computer

Yesterday I mentioned getting the new computer up and running.  Last night and today I spent some time “exercising” it using Daz-3D.

I ran through the Daz tutorials again just to see how things worked. It’s nice how much faster the new computer is both in working on things and in rendering. More memory (16 GB vs. 8 GB), more powerful video (6 GB NVIDIA Geforce vs 4 GB) and a more powerful processor (8th Gen Core I7 vs. P4 with dual cores) make a big difference.

There were, however, a few problems. When I did the “Elfish Fury IRay” tutorial in the final posing when I put the bend and twist parameters in for the forearm, the forearm itself did not move, just the weapon. And both the “Sci Fi Warrior” and the “Slaying the Dragon” tutorials got stuck at the lighting step. In the “Slaying the Dragon” tutorial the name of the light set over in the content pane was different from what the tutorial asked for.  The Sci Fi Warrior light set did have the correct name.  In both cases I was able to install the light set but the tutorial would not advance from that point.  It just stuck and all I could do was “stop”.  I know there were further steps in the Sci Fi Warrior tutorial.  I don’t remember if there were in Slaying the Dragon.  So, this is a problem.

Finally, I went through the various figures, adding them each into a blank setting (and deleting after), just to check what I had. I had one named “VYK Riley” but when I attempt to add it I get a long list of files that are missing. The only “Riley” I have in my product list is a “Riley for Stephanie 5”. I tried reinstalling that package but it didn’t help.

Here are the results of the tutorials I did complete.  Note, some of the images are large.

I also redid my most recent cover candidate. Oh, that was sweet.

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(Note on the image: I’ve done some post work eliminating the chevrons, working on the sleeve rings, moving the “Empire waist” belt down to a more conventional level, and adding the chest awards.)

So, a few glitches but otherwise everything seems to be working fine. The latest cover work I did rendered a whole lot faster and actually appears to have gone farther in the render–the previous attempts, based on how grainy they were, seem to have aborted before fully converging.

New Computer First Impressions

My old computer was getting a bit long in the tooth.  It had a P4 generation twin core processor.  I had the motherboard maxed out with 8 GB of memory.  While that was adequate for most of the things I did, when I recently started using Daz-3D for cover art, it started getting painful.  Basically, I could do a render or I could do anything else  Couldn’t do both, especially if the render was anything complicated.

First choice was whether to get another desktop or a laptop.  I went with a laptop so that when travelling I could simply take my primary computer with me.  I times past the compromises necessary to reduce power use (for battery life) and fit the hardware into a reasonably sized “portable” computer meant that you had to trade computing power for portability.  That appears to be far less of an issue today although there does appear to be a modest cost premium to get the power in a portable configuration.  In the end, I decided that one computer both for home and travel was the way to go.  A “gaming laptop” had the features I wanted.  I chose a Dell G5 15, near the top end of the line.  8th Gen “Core I7” processor with 16 GB of memory NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX video with 6 GB of memory itself (for those renders).  It has a 512 GB SSD drive and a 1 TB HD for data.

I upgraded from Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro, added Microsoft Office 2019 Home and Student and got the 3 year subscription to the security software.  Extended warranties so I’m covered for the next three years, which is a long time in computer years.  The computer itself does not come with an optical drive so I got an external DVD-RW drive.  Also got a 1 TB external SSD drive to serve as a backup device.

So I got the new computer up and running. So many things are so much more pleasant with this one. It renders faster and more stably when doing DAZ-3D stuff (like for covers). I can have a render going, be downloading something (for example GiMP)_and_ watching a video on Netflix.  I had not realized how painful some of the other things had gotten simply because I had gotten used to the previous computer and what now seems glacial slowness.  It is very nice to have things happen when I click or type without the lag.

On the one hand the screen’s got a much higher resolution than my old monitor. On the other, it’s physically smaller. Something of a trade off there. I’ll probably want to get a 4K monitor now that I’ve got a computer that can support it (via an HDMI interface).

Now that the computer itself is portable I can probably ditch the thumb drive I used to use for a lot of my writing files.  I previously had worked from the thumb drive taking it with me from one computer to another, but now I can simply take the computer.

There’s this little bitty camera at the top of the monitor, making this the first computer I’ve had with one. Oh, I had an old USB “webcam” for my old computer but I never had it even plugged in.  I’d gotten it for a special purpose that hadn’t worked out and so it sat unused.

The most I can say about the internal speakers is that they’re there. The maximum volume is rather low for my taste.  My hearing isn’t that great, never has been (at least not when it comes to discriminating sounds when there’s any kind of background noise) so I’ve got my external speakers plugged in.

And while the situation has not come up, I expect it will be very nice to be able to pack up my working computer and take it with me.

Windows 10 is…confusing. I’m still trying to figure out how to easily get to the things I want to use most. I think this may be the biggest one step change in the operating system since going from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95. Getting around is proving a little clunky but I’m managing.

Overall, I’m very pleased. I will put up with a learning curve in the UI for the improved performance this machine has over my old one. Oh, my goodness.

First Rounds Ruger MkIV and Ruger SP101

I recently acquired two new handguns a Ruger MkIV 22/45 Lightweight, and a Ruger SP101 5 shot .357 Magnum revolver.

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Took them down to Indy Gun Bunker, a local gun store that has an indoor range to try them out.  I shot 50 rounds of .38 Special through the revolver.  My daughter shot 100 rounds through the Mk IV.  I did 50 through the SP101.

I should note that while my daughter is quite good with a rifle she has next to no experience with handgun.  As for me, I’ve never been more than a moderate shot at best and am quite out of practice.

Here’s the target:

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The red circle on my nose was my point of aim for my first five shots.  However, when I noted my daughter was aiming for head shots I switched to the red circle on the chest as my point of aim for the remaining 45 shots.

The revolver ran well.  That thing you see in the movies where the person swings out the cylinder, turn the gun upward, push the ejector rod and the brass falls to the ground?  That didn’t happen.  The ejector pushed the brass back but I had to pluck it out of the cylinder by hand.

The Mk IV had one light strike in the course of 100 rounds of CCI mini mags.  We ejected the round, put it back in the magazine and the round fired fine on the second attempt.  This was the only problem we had.

Mostly, we just had a good time.

On This Day: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Begins

Late because it’s been a very busy day today.

On the 1st of September of 1939 the German Army invaded Poland, providing the traditional starting point of World War II. (Note, the Japanese invasion of Manchuria was earlier but an argument can be made that this is what made it a “world” war.  It wasn’t just the Germans, of course, the Soviet Union invaded the eastern parts of Poland sixteen days later.  By October 6, the conquest of Poland was complete with Germany and the Soviet Union dividing it up between them.

Once in control of Poland, the German invaders began rounding up Jews and concentrating them into crowded ghettos.  The largest of these was the Warsaw Ghetto, with between three and four hundred thousand Jews packed into an area of just over 1 1/4 square miles (about 3.3 square kilometers).  Over the course of the next few years thousands of these Jews died from disease and starvation–before the deportations of these Jews to the Treblinka extermination camp had even begun.

In late July of 1942 the “Resettlement Commissioner” SS-Sturmbannführer Hermann Höfle presented a demand to the Jewish leadership council requiring 7000 Jews a day to be “relocated to the East.”  Over the course of the next two months, between 254 and 300 thousand Jews were taken to Treblinka and slaughtered. (When he realized what had happened, the head of the Jewish leadership council committed suicide.) Indeed, at first, many of the Jewish Resistance movement at first decided not to fight, believing that the Jews were being taken to labor camps.  While this was bad enough they hoped that by not presenting active resistance they could avoid a worse fate.

They were so very wrong.

On January 18, 1943 a the Germans began a second wave of deportations.  This time, members of the Żydowski Związek Wojskowy (ŻZW, Polish for Jewish Military Union) and some from the The Jewish Combat Organization (Polish: Żydowska Organizacja Bojowa, ŻOB; Yiddish: ייִדישע קאַמף אָרגאַניזאַציע‎ Yidishe Kamf Organizatsie ; often translated to English as the Jewish Fighting Organization) resisted, engaging the Germans in direct combat.  The resistance fighters, with only a handful of arms among them, only inflicted minor losses on the Germans and took heavy losses of their own.  Still, this was enough to get the Germans to halt this round of “deportations” after only a few days, taking five thousand of the eight thousand they had planned to deport in that time.  In truth, the Jewish resistance did not expect to have much effect toward saving themselves.  The forces arrayed against them were too overpowering.  Instead, they fought for the honor of the Jewish people and a protest against the silence of the world.

There the situation remained for a brief time.  The ZZW and ZOB used the time to build fighting positions and to clear their own ranks with the execution of Nazi collaborators including officers of the “Jewish Ghetto Police” and members of the fake resistance organization Żagiew (German sponsored and controlled).

On April 19, German forces moved into the ghetto, intending to clear it within three days.  However they were ambushed by Jewish insurgents armed with Molotov cocktails and grenades.  The Germans suffered 59 casualties and their advance bogged down.  Given their almost complete lack of equipment and the relative strength of the German forces facing them, the insurgents held for a surprising time.  Ten days after attack began, on April 29, having lost all its commanders, the remaining fighters of the ZZW escaped via tunnel and relocated to the Michalin forest.  That marked the end of organized resistance.

But the fight was not entirely over.  Isolated individuals and small groups continued to resist using smoke bombs and the occasional concealed handgun (often a concealed weapon fired after the Jewish insurgent had pretended to surrender).  It was not until May 16 that the uprising was declared officially over and even then sporadic resistance continued until the last skirmish took place on June 5.

In the end, more than 13,000 Jews were killed in the uprising, with more than 56,000 “deported” to extermination camps.  The Germans lost a “mere” 17 confirmed dead and 93 wounded (German figures) although this does not count Nazi collaborators executed.  With such a one-sided result, one might ask what was the point?  Well, the point was that they were dead anyway.  And while some–the remaining fighters of the ZZW listed above–escaped the Ghetto, whether more or fewer would have escaped without the uprising can never be known.  But with the Nazis bent on extermination of the Jewish people, the choice they faced was dead in the uprising or dead in the camps.  And the German casualties, however few, were more than if they had not fought.

And, frankly, for some people it is better to die on your feet than live on your knees, and better by far than to die on your knees.