Sunday, December 28, 2008

Heirloom Garand

Several years ago, my grandmother gave us my grandfather's old M-1
Garand. We set it aside and it was not touched for years, except for
a friend cleaning and oiling it. I recently decided to get the
equipment and practice to make the rifle useful.

My brother, father, and I went to a gun show this weekend. They had a
lot of fun just looking around, and so did I. But I was also on a
mission to gather up what I needed for the Garand. I got a carrying
case, ammunition, paper targets, and a repacking kit that included six
clips and a bandoleer to hold them. Sometime soon I will get a
cleaning kit and maybe some more ammunition. I am still deciding if I
want to get a bayonet for it.

I have loaded all of the clips. Then I will go back into the woods to
practice shooting. I know where there is a deep ravine cut into red
clay that will make a very safe shooting gallery. I will set up the
targets in the side, make sure there are no rocks near them, and then
go to the top of the ravine and shoot down. I know that I will never
win any marksmanship awards, but I would like to practice until I am
comfortable with the weapon and my accuracy.

Friday, December 26, 2008


Okay, it has been almost three weeks since I posted anything. First I
had final exam week, and then I was home for the holidays. It is
amazing how much less time I spend online when I am on vacation. I
basically just check my email once a day and glance over the RSS feeds
to see the news headlines.

This shows how our habits depend on the situation. If something is no
longer convenient, or we are no longer exposed to environmental
stimuli that cause us to think about it, we are less likely to do it.

Monday, December 8, 2008


I cannot even begin to count or describe all the ways that this is
horribly wrong:

I'll just comment on how this is another example of why you need to
make people pay the real price for things. If you give something away
for free, then people will be astonishingly creative in finding ways
to destroy or abuse it.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

"Health Halo"

This is a good article:

It illustrates yet another example of how people can become infected
with magical thinking: when they think that a food is 'healthy' they
lose the ability to make accurate judgments.

" 'People who eat at McDonald's know their sins,' Dr. Chandon said,
'but people at Subway think that a 1,000-calorie sandwich has only 500
calories.' His advice is not for people to avoid Subway or low-fat
snacks, but to take health halos into account. "

The more interesting finding is that adding a pack of crackers to a
meal will cause people to reduce their estimate of calories in a meal
if the crackers are labeled 'Trans Fat Free'. The presence of a
'healthy' food somehow made them think that the entire meal would be
less fattening.

Actually, that is not accurate. When I wrote 'people' I should have
written 'Americans'. Foreigners did not make the same mistake.

My mother, a nurse, has told me about a similar, but far more lethal,
mistake that her patients often make. People who have diabetes need
to avoid sugary foods, and their doctors and nurses try to teach them
how to do this. But these people often buy foods that are labeled
'Low-Fat', thinking that it will be healthier. This is exactly wrong.
Processed foods with a 'Low-Fat' label will almost always contain
extra sugar to make up for the loss of the fat. Diabetic people
should be eating foods with more fat and less sugar, but a belief that
'Low-Fat' means 'healthy' causes these patients to harm themselves.

As the article mentions, the root of the problem is food fads, social
conditioning, and lack of basic scientific knowledge. So beware of
the 'Health Halo' and remember that more food will always turn into
more fat.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Random thought: cliche

When people say "Don't bite off more than you can chew" they are
usually advising you to bite off less.

But you can also solve the problem by improving your chewing technique.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Scientific Method

A lot of people do not understand the basics of what science is. I
will attempt to state it as simply as I can:

The scientific method means that a theory can be disproven by the
facts you observe in reality. If there is no possible observation
that could disprove a belief, then that belief is not scientific.

Science means looking for things that might prove your belief wrong.
People who are constantly looking for reasons to justify or explain or
defend something are never being scientific.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Russian Population

I'll be pretty busy for the next couple of weeks, so I'll just post
the occasional link:

Russia is still capable of nuking the planet, and it is likely to
cause all manner of minor trouble in upcoming years, but it will never
again be a real power. Its days are numbered; it is nothing but a
shell of its former self and the collapse will continue to accelerate.

All they have now is oil. In a few decades, we will develop
technologies that will greatly reduce the demand for oil, and then
Russia will truly be history. Their only hope is a complete change of
government and social norms, but that looks extremely unlikely. The
people in power are extremely good at keeping power, and it seems that
there is no popular will to change anything.