I ate my wafer...


Hmm, DDT anyone?

So, Krupa just churned out another post in his "Cuba sucks" series, this time on Dengue Fever. All considerations of what's completely FUBAR'd about Cuba aside, I've been trying to figure out if DDT is really necessary as part of insect control in the developing world. Now, usually I'm a big fan of modern chemistry, be it better drugs, or better lubricants, but I have a hard time wading through the propaganda to figure out whether the DDT replacements are that much more expensive, or how many birds DDT really kills off.

Some preliminary thoughts on the topic:

A. I really hate it when people use the term "organophosphate" for the common DDT replacements as if it was a particularly evil group of compounds just from the name. I mean, DDT is an organochlorate , namely Chlorodiphenylnitrichloroethane which is just as scary sounding. Oh, and I'm really tired of hearing how organophosphates are close kin to nerve gas, because DDT is ALSO a nerve posion. There's apparently some evidence that organochlorates do all sorts of nasty things to small creatures, and probably people as well. Unfortunately, a good number of articles about human organochlorate poisoning are in Spanish, since they're mainly used in Latin America and I can't read a bit of Spanish.

B. I'm willing to sacrifice a few birds for public health, however, I'm more than a bit curious as to how quickly insects become resistant to pesticides. That is, if DDT only buys us 40 years before resistant super mosquitos drive us to organophosphates, I'm not as willing to accept using it.

C. Unfortunately, I didn't pay nearly enough attention in chemistry, mostly because I was busy snickering with Mr. Krupa about the football players accross from us, and I'm have a really hard time figuring out whether organophosphates should be much more expensive to synthesize than DDT.

So, does anyone have simple answers to the DDT question?


M1 Garand KB: be careful when reloading.

Here's what was a nice M1 rifle after firing a single round reloaded with a fast burning pistol powder. The shooter walked away unharmed, though the rifle turned into little bits of wood and metal. I believe the load involved was a 150 Grain FMJ, with about 45 grains of a flake style pistol powder, I can probably find out exactly which powder if anyone cares, but in all honesty, 40 grains of ANY pistol powder should produce the same results.

I've posted the rest of the photoset here:


Geocaching, Sextants, and etc.

So, I've played around with geocaching recently, which does have some of what I like about Urban Exploring, namely the whole sneaking around somewhere commonplace to do something relatively interesting and secret. This afternoon while in the process of waiting for @#$% Microsoft Access @#$% laboriously compact a large database, I was poking around on the internet considering the purchase of a GPS when I realized that I no longer own a sextant, and my celestial navigation skills are certainly getting rusty. Besides bidding on a sextant, I fired up google to see if someone had posted the relevant tables online.

When I found them, I realized that usually in situations where one would be navigating by the stars it is a bit hard to find a Wi-Fi hotspot. But then again, there's always that one time where you have internet, or perhaps text messaging from your sinking boat, but have no idea where the heck you're at.

As a side note, if I ever write a list of skills that all humans should have, ala Heinlein, celestial navigation will certainly make the list.


Gun Control statistics and other lies.

Since Krupa's return to blogging, his output has been prodigious, and I've fallen slightly behind in reading his work. Rather than write a lengthy, and somewhat tangential comment what is now an old post, I've elected to post about the gun control issues here.

Let me preface this by pointing out that I have been involved in shooting since before I could read. Not only have I long owned a large number of firearms, I've been around their construction and repair both professionally and personally. However, some thoughts for discussion about the gun control issues that Peter raised:

A. I value honest science highly, and both sides in the gun control debate are involved in horribly misleading uses of statistics. Proponents of gun control use a variety of silly statistics, such as attempting to credit the 1990's crime decrease to the Brady Bill/AWB, and the asinine "43 times more likely" argument. To be equally condemnatory, I would give the examples of the gun lobby's use of the lying jackass Lott to insist that the 1990's crime decrease (pdf)relates to CCW laws and firearms ownership. Personally, I think the strongest thing one can argue is that the statistics do not correlate gun ownership with crime in a manner that supports any massive change from existing U.S. policy on the Federal level. Granted, given the lack of NFA weapons used in crime, I think a good argument can be made for removing the 1986 Machine Gun ban, and I can think of a number of state level changes I'd support, but I certainly would not feel comfortable arguing from crime statistics to support Federal significant level changes.

B. Gun control advocates seem vastly ignorant of the technical issues involved, especially the easy in which illicit guns can be manufactured and are willing to make completely outrageous technical arguments. This doesn't even touch on the areas in which deliberate fabrications are used, such as running television news pieces showing licensed NFA regulated machineguns to illustrate reports on the 1994 AWB.

C. A major pet peeve is the completely fabricated 1935 Hitler quote bumper sticker. The most relevant Nazi gun control legislation removed restrictions from the prior Weimar republic law and made it much more permissive of firearms ownership. To suggest that Nazi atrocities were enabled by gun control seems like a horribly misleading correlation. There's nothing more irritating than seeing the "Guns don't kill people.." sticker, which denies the correlation between guns and crime on the same car as the Hitler quote sticker which implies a correlation between restrictive gun control and Nazi atrocities.

Towards the end of the 3rd Reich, the Nazi's were arming pretty much everyone in Germany as part of the Volkstrum, which can be thought of as the Michigan Militia with better weapons and training. Likewise, Iraq has incredibly high rates of civilian firearms ownership during the entire Baathist era. In other words, it isn't necessarily safe to argue that civilian light weapons ownership inevitably prevents totalitarian atrocities. Only firearms (and more likely, heavy weapons) owned by people that have already decided to resist in mass deter atrocities.