A Midsummer’s Light Posting

I’ve not been blogging much lately for two reasons. One: vacation. I went to sword camp (formally, “Polaris Summer Weapons Retreat”) again this year, had great time with friends, learned how to fight using a glaive (a form of bladed polearm). Two: heavy technical work. I’ve been designing and implementing a new protocol for GPSD; my next major post may be about some interesting issues that have come up during this process.

It-increases-my-paranoia news: Massive protests continue in Iran, some news about them leaking out through the news blockade, more reaching me through my NedaNet contacts. My Pennsylvania CCW arrived, so I now carry concealed legally – I had had plans to carry concealed illegally and make a Constitutional issue of it, but I’ve decided I don’t need to be in trouble with both the U.S. legal system and potential Iranian assassins at the same time.

I’m looking into upgrading my pistol competence level via IDPA tactical shooting; there’s a match at a gun club not far from here August 22nd and I’ll probably be at it. I did IPSC, which is similar, once back in 1998: you can read about it here. Then I got busy and famous and stuff, dangit.

Light blogging may continue for a while: World Boardgaming Championships is next week, and I’m playing a lot of on-line games in training for that; my goal is to at least make the finals in the Commands & Colors Ancients tournament.

45 thoughts on “A Midsummer’s Light Posting

  1. s/IPSCC/IPSC/g

    A range officer friend called it the most fun one can have with a gun.

  2. >A range officer friend called it the most fun one can have with a gun.

    I enjoyed IPSC, but I like the IDPA philosophy better — no competition-only equipment, just guns you actually carry.

  3. learned how to fight using a glaive

    glaive, glaive-guissarme, falchion, billet, … [smack]. sorry, d&d flashback …

  4. Yeah, technically it was a glaive-guisarme – has a projection on one side, idiomatically known as “the can-opener” because we actually train to use it to hook an opponent’s shield aside. This is an especially common tactic against shieldmen who’ve been legged and are fighting from the ground.

  5. I cannot recommend IDPA highly enough. It’s the most fun I know of that you can have with your pants on.

    When I got in to it, though, I started by watching a few matches so that by the time I started shooting I knew the rules well, which helped me focus on the stage and not the rules meta-game. I’d recommend the same, if you can find some kind of small weekly match in the area to watch.

  6. “cammon tactic”?

    ESR says: typo fixed.

    Unfortunately, no matter how much you train and carry, you don’t have the element of suprise with you, and unless you can quickly find cover, your odds of surviving an attack are … quite low.

    Perhaps you are better off going into hiding.

  7. >Unfortunately, no matter how much you train and carry, you don’t have the element of suprise with you, and unless you can quickly find cover, your odds of surviving an attack are … quite low.

    My go-to guy on security, a former Special Forces officer with security and counterterrorism experience, thinks differently. Yes: if they send pros against me, I’m probably dead. However, pros are unlikely; against several of the most plausible threat scenarios, a capable shooter and hand-to-hand fighter has good odds of prevailing.

    I’m not going to discuss specific threat scenarios, but I will quote something my expert said in discussing one of them. “You and Cathy could handle ten of them.” he insisted. “Shoot the three brave ones; the others will break.”

    (That conversation was worrisome in some ways, but in other ways quite bracing. I always wanted to be a Heinlein character when I grew up…)

  8. Unfortunately, no matter how much you train and carry, you don’t have the element of suprise with you, and unless you can quickly find cover, your odds of surviving an attack are … quite low.

    Bear in mind the following in mind: ESR and his wife Cathy each have multiple blackbelts in various forms of martial arts, both are more than competent with a pistol, and each have a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

    I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly not going to be attacking them in any dark alleys, thankyouverymuch.

    ESR says: Er, only one actual black belt each. We’ve trained to pretty advanced levels in several other schools, but with less formal rank systems.

  9. Continuing and completing an earlier thought, about the Iranians and all that:

    You know how I always wanted to be a Heinlein character when I grew up? Be careful what you wish for…you might get it.

  10. Does the permit have an expiry date?

    Also, how do you intend to get arrested for concealed carry? Were you just going to do the “concealed” part really really badly?

  11. You know how I always wanted to be a Heinlein character when I grew up? Be careful what you wish for…you might get it.

    The protagonist in the Heinlein short story “They”? ;)

    *ducking*

  12. IDPA is some of the most fun you can have with your pants on. Careful, or you’ll get addicted. (So is IPSC (one C), but it’s more of a toy race rather than a shooting competition.)

  13. >Does the permit have an expiry date?

    5 years from issue.

    >Also, how do you intend to get arrested for concealed carry? Were you just going to do the “concealed” part really really badly?

    I had been just planning to carry without a permit, and push the constitutional issue when and if I got busted. I thought it would be courteous to inform my local police chief of this, and also thought it might help avoid unpleasantness if and when I got busted.

  14. >The protagonist in the Heinlein short story “They”? ;)

    Nah, I see myself as more of an Andrew-Libby-with-a-gun type :-)

  15. It might be helpful to know that PA CCWs are reciprocal with some other states. Among them is Florida, in case you decide to vacation here. Note that in Florida, we have the “shoot first” law: you are under no obligation to flee.

    Now tourist season starts here around November-ish timeframe. I’ve always wondered: if it’s tourist season, does that mean we get to shoot them?

  16. Nah, I see myself as more of an Andrew-Libby-with-a-gun type :-)

    Hopefully with fewer gender identification issues? (CF: Number of the Beast.)

  17. >Hopefully with fewer gender identification issues? (CF: Number of the Beast.)

    I knew somebody was going to bring that up! OK, let me qualify that: Andrew-Libby-with-a-gun-before-Heinlein-got-brain-damage.

  18. >It might be helpful to know that PA CCWs are reciprocal with some other states.

    In particular, PA has reciprocity with Michigan, where I actually spend a significant amount of time doing sword camps etc.

  19. >do you have the kimber in hand yet?

    Took delivery last Wednesday, took it to the range, put a mag and a half through it. Nice pistol – shoots good tight groups, looks clean and new, handles well…and has one defect. The slide doesn’t lock back when the mag goes dry.

    But no worries; the range I was shooting at is attached to a gun shop that’s a Kimber dealer. Counter guy says “Hmm, looks like a factory defect to me. We’ll ship it back to Kimber with a defect notice for ya – they should fix it up for free and have it back here, three weeks or so.”

  20. “mag and a half”?

    HAHAHAHAHA!!

    remember, you’ll fight like you train. Ever hear the story of the cop who was shot because he was putting all the spent shells in a line, just like he (always) did at the range?

    And Eric, spare the ammo, spoil the fight. You don’t know anything about the gun prior to putting at least 500 rounds down range.

    As for the slide not locking back should be something any competent gunsmith can fix in a day. Hell, you could probably discover the root cause during dissassembly.

    Course, all the counter guy said was, “I dunno” in disguise.

    and now you’re without your pistol for 3 more weeks.

    And yes, I own a Kimber (carry model), too.

  21. As for the slide not locking back should be something any competent gunsmith can fix in a day.

    Do competent gunsmiths even exist anymore, outside of the gun manufacturers themselves, I mean? Seems like most of the gun shops that even have access to one don’t even have anyone on-staff: they’ve got a guy who goes around from store-to-store as needed, just like A+ computer techs do in the small computer build shops.

  22. >“mag and a half”

    Oops – should have said “box and a half. 150 rounds.

    I’ve got a Glock 23 until the Kimber comes back.

  23. I feel much the same way about IPSC/IDPA.

    I don’t wish to denigrate IPSC fans – they are excellent competitors – but since my mindset wrt personal arms is one of ‘combat’, I do not value the sportlike nature of IPSC. Low-power rounds and tricked-out guns are simply not useful to my training. I have no doubt, however, that many of the proficient IPSC competitors would be deadly in a gunfight….if they also spend the time to develop the ‘combat mindset’ and develop the physical discipline of full-power live fire.

    I enjoy my local IDPA matches because, although there is an undeniable sporting aspect to them (it is competitive after all), the discipline you reinforce is much more in tune with that of ‘combat readiness’.

    I agree with an earlier comment about hanging back and observing a couple matches (if you can resist!). It’s a zen thing. Get your mind beyond the ‘rule mechanics’ and into the rhythm, pace, ‘vibe’ and energy of the competition. I think you’ll be far more relaxed and confident when you make your first run if you do. Enjoy!

  24. Just heard from the rework shop at Kimber – problem fixed. I let them sell me a three-dot-sight upgrade – that’s the one feature I was really missing in the gun.

  25. On a note unrelated to guns, but [very] peripherally related to your work on GPSD (an article on which I am waiting for): do you plan to resume working on “Understanding Version Control Systems”?

    ESR says: Yes, but Ghu alone knows when it’ll get done.

  26. The one “interesting feature” of DSEE/Clearcase, “the representation of repostories as a special filesystem using magic pathnames encoding revision levels and other metadata, is not found in later designs and is still somewhat interesting,” is, in fact, one of Clearcase’s worst features. It makes setting up a federated, distributed repository umm…..difficult. The concept isn’t bad, but the execution is severely flawed. I once managed 4 separate Clearcase instances at a major American car manufacturer that shall remain nameless, where Clearcase was definitely found on the rack dead.

  27. “I let them sell me a three-dot-sight upgrade – that’s the one feature I was really missing in the gun”

    Tritium? A replacement for “groove & post” or two dot|bar?

    I’m quite happy with my “tee the golf ball” sights, but I would really like some three-dot tritium. I was utterly convinced when I tried some in a low-light shoot. Some crimson trace would be nice too, but now I’m heading into gun porn territory ;)

  28. NO NOT CLEARCASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!

    I had the honor of being responsible for the surgical excision and ceremonial burning of all our Rational Suite/ClearCase nightmares. The memory of that cathartic episode is now my ‘happy place’ ;)

  29. >Tritium? A replacement for “groove & post” or two dot|bar?

    Replacement for groove & post. Not tritium.

  30. >I let them sell me a three-dot-sight upgrade – that’s the one feature I was really missing in the gun.

    I was disappointed to learn that this isn’t the same thing that the Predator uses.

  31. > Replacement for groove & post. Not tritium.

    problem here is you’re supposed to focus on the *front* sight!

    (remember?)

    I run these on the wife’s Glock 30:

    http://www.dawsonprecision.com/ProductDetail.jsp?LISTID=800008E4-1212764612

    I run a factory-installed Tritium front on the Kimber with the standard ‘carry’ (snag-free) rear.

    No fancy colors to align, simply put the green dot center mass and squeeze the trigger. It works for me.

    Maybe try it before you buy, next time?

  32. In defense of Heinlein–I don’t think his last few books were up to his average, but I don’t think there was any brain damage there. Just the usual running out of ideas. And I did like his stories well into the Eighties, including the much-maligned NotB. It was really just the last two books that sucked.

  33. NO NOT CLEARCASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!

    I told we should use Subversion or GIT or Arch, or, for cryin’ outloud, even CVS rather than ClearCase. Did they listen? Noooo……the CIO at the aFORementioneD auto company that shall remain nameless was a former IBMer and still had stock options.

  34. “the aFORementioneD auto company”
    Some bastard just threw a cluebrick in my face!

  35. I’ve gotten good hits with stock glock sights out to about 60 yards (where, in that case “good” counted as one-shot hits on a 12×12 inch steel plate). I’ve gotten good hits with my HK P7 at 25 yards with the rear sight dots out (on the P7 they’re actually short little plastic dowels instead of painted on dots). I should probably get them replaced some day, but since I’m farsighted they really don’t do me a lot of good.

    IDPA isn’t bad for learning how to shoot under stress, but you have to keep telling yourself that it *is* a game, and they trade Reality for Safety (this is not a complaint, a criticism, or an insult, it’s just an observation). Off the range things work differently, and as one poster alluded to people tend not to rise to the occasion, they tend to revert to training–which is how a couple or more police officers have been killed picking up their brass because they’d spent so much time on the firing like where they shot a set, picked up their brass, shot a set, picked up their brass that under the stress of a live shooting they shot, and then picked up their brass and died.

    Another thing to keep in mind–a significant number of people revert to shooting one handed under stress. I’ve got 10s of thousands of rounds using either the isosceles or the modified weaver shooting stances. Under the stress of FoF training I will usually shoot at least the first couple shots one handed. Especially if the range is close.

    And yes, Clear Case. I had to use it once.

    Once.

    >>shudder<<.

  36. >Another thing to keep in mind–a significant number of people revert to shooting one handed under stress.

    I don’t think that’s necessarily bad. For point-shooting man-sized targets at close ranges (like out to 25 feet or so, well beyond the typical 7-10 foot self-defense engagement range) one-handed is plenty accurate, and you can change targets more quickly than with a two-handed grip.

  37. >…but I’ve decided I don’t need to be in trouble with both the U.S. legal system and potential Iranian assassins at the same time.

    Eric, I read a comment (3 or 4 posts earlier) in which a commenter -Stephen Rey?- claimed he knew the so called ‘assassin’. He even revealed some details. I was very excited to know what happened then. Could you and FBI finally identify Kaveh Dadyar or not. It’s O.K if you can not answer the question (confidentiality?) it’s just curiosity which prods me to ask that question and also the fact that Stephen seemed very confident about knowing him.

    thanks,

    Roberto

    ESR says: Alas, I know nothing beyond what’s in those blog comments.

  38. The gender-identity issue may have come along later, but Slipstick was gay all along. In what book is it revealed that he and Lazarus had a long-term affair? Wasn’t that in Time Enough For Love? The “really a woman all along but didn’t know it” was Heinlein way of trying to cope with one of his characters coming out to him. He just didn’t get it.

    Re his last books being bad, the first half of Cat is actually a good short novel. It should just have stopped at the halfway point, with whatsisname dying in the corridor. An epilogue could talk about his heroic death, or his miraculous rescue, but the novel ends there. It’s the second half that stinks.

  39. I think the risk analysis with the Iranian threat is lacking. I’ll attempt one.

    1. The likelihood of the Iranian government making an attempt to kill ESR is very small. They have much more potent enemies that they want to get rid of, and assassinations in foreign countries are always risky. Even the suspicion that your government might be involved is enough to lose brownie points in the international community. ESR has wisely published that he has been threatened, so there is no way to avoid suspicion, should he come to an untimely end. Thus we can more or less rule out a professional job. Otherwise, a professional would make sure that a handgun would be of no help whatsoever against the attack.

    2. If the Iranian government, or an agency close to them would want to make a deniable attempt, they would send a suicide bomber, or a martyr assassin. These regularly get trained in Lebanon by the Hezbollah (who are backed by Iran). The risk of this happening is again very small. It is a major operation to pull off a successful suicide bombing in the U.S. A major risk is that the martyr candidate starts to think while waiting for the right circumstances to show up. Suicide bombers are much more reliable if you can fill them up with religious trash, patriotic dogma and drugs just before sending them off to explode. The bad news is that if you ever encounter a quality suicide bomber, you end up dead, with or without the gun.

    3. Another possibility is a third party who has taken an exception to ESR’s involvement in the plight of the Iranian people. This could for instance be somebody with roots in the Middle East who is a resident of the U.S. but has strong sympathies with the Iranian government (there are all kinds of crazy people in this world). This is by far the most likely of the scenarios where an attempt to kill ESR would be made. There is a remote chance that a handgun would be of use in this case, but it is also likely that it would produce a false sense of security.

    4. The most likely scenario of all is that the threat was made just to keep ESR down. Making the threat is cheap. Even if it has no effect it doesn’t hurt to try.

    If you think there is a real threat, you need to modify the way you live your life. Your home and your friends homes are probably the safest places for you. An attacker would be at disadvantage there. It is public places – the mall, the parking lot outside the dojo, the parking lot at the firing range etc, that are the places where an attack would be most likely. Being predictable at these places would be dangerous if somebody plots against you. Go to different malls to do your shopping. Don’t go to practice at 5 PM every Thursday.

    You may wonder what my qualifications are, for making statements like this. A long time ago, I was for 6 months doing threat analysis and writing rules for engagement for the Swedish UN battalion in Lebanon. We got everyone in the battalion home live and well.

  40. >I think the risk analysis with the Iranian threat is lacking. I’ll attempt one.

    Your risk analysis matches mine (and that of my ex-Special-Forces security consultant, and the FBI’s), as far as it goes.

    Ours goes further and into a couple more threat scenarios. There are some variations of the amateur-night scenario you haven’t considered but we have; these are the ones against which most of our planning is directed. I’m not going to detail them because to do so would implicitly reveal things about my counterplanning and security measures that I don’t want potential attackers to know.

    Your advice about vulnerability is also parallel to our reasoning, and I am already taking appropriate countermeasures.

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