Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Movies...

I've been watching a lot of DVDs lately, and I had forgotten just how anti-gun some of them can be. The Lethal Weapon series really surprised me. I knew that it had been rather cop-sided, but I'd forgotten just how strongly they pushed the victim disarmament. Anti-gun and anti-NRA posters are often visible in the precinct, they blame guns when they get shot at by drug-dealing kids, and they even throw Pesci's character's gun off the boat in the 4th movie...and he's one of the non-cop good guys. That, of course, also violates his property rights, and is even worse than just keeping him disarmed, but they thought it would make a great gag.

I had also forgotten that Die Hard 2 perpetuated the myth that Glocks are "porcelain" and don't get caught by metal detectors. Sure, I knew that it was cops and bad guys that had guns in the DIe Hard movies, but at least the other good guys are given guns once in awhile (though the third one has Samuel L. Jackson's character fail to utilize it, but that's a blatant plot device).

Mind you, I know Hollywood's not really big on facing the reality of armed citizens, but they are big on appealing to any group they think they can profit from. What about those of us who choose to protect ourselves? With the ever-growing number of people who own guns, you'd think they'd see a market for it. About the only movies in which the non-cop, non-criminal citizen gets to be armed are westerns. And most of those are just about lawmen and outlaws these days, too.

Eh, I'd better just throw Tremors in...they may call Burt crazy, but no one questions his right to own his arsenal. Maybe it won't annoy me.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Broken XD45

No, not mine.

A customer brought it in to exchange it, saying it was defective. I opened the box expecting to find that he had accidentally tried to reassemble it with the mag in or with the takedown lever down.

What greeted me inside that case, though, was far from what I expected. The slide was jammed about halfway back, with no movement either way. The feed ramp on the chamber was wedged into the chunk of metal the little feed ramp on the internals is carved out of. I could not move the slide, barrel, or guide rod a bit. Not only had the 6'4" 300 lb soldier forced the thing into place, he had also taken a mallet to it. I took it into the vault and grabbed a mallet. Unfortunately, we only had brass mallets, which I'm not entirely comfortable with using to hammer the slide out of that position. A coworker took out the pins in the frame, but the takedown lever was stuck, so we couldn't move the internals (of course, that was the first one I had tried to tap out, so I saw no point in removing the pins).

Eventually, I took it to a manager who also fancies himself a pseudo-gunsmith. He was upset that we would dare try taking the pins out and told me to "try" to get them back in "as much as [I] can." Well, knowing the gun pretty well, I put them back in, tossed the thing on his desk, and went back to helping customers.

Turns out, he had a plastic mallet, and he hammered away until things broke loose. He then pronounced the guide rod the wrong one for the gun. I looked it over, turned to him, and told him I was pretty sure it was right. He showed me how it stuck out a little when the gun was in battery. I told him it was an XD. They do that. It wouldn't go back to the locked slide position, though, so something was indeed wrong. I checked another guide rod, but that apparently wasn't the problem. The manager then huffed something about "well, I don't know what to tell you then," and I put the gun in the pile of defective guns and those in need of repair.

The lesson here: If you need a mallet to reassemble your gun, don't touch it. Let somebody else put it back together so I don't end up having to deal with your "defective" gun. Or, hell, look at the damned thing again. I'm sure he didn't have the guide rod in there appropriately, which is what stopped it up, and then he bound it up entirely when he forced it.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Throw a fit, get a discount

I don't understand people sometimes. When you go into a chain store and tell the employee that another employee quoted you a price well below the company's cost, do you really think that the random employee will be able to nearly halve the price to meet that quote? And do you think telling said employee about your practices in your own business will get you what you want? Yeah, you can choose to take a loss. An employee at a chain store can't take a loss. It's not his loss to take. Finally, don't get upset when that person goes to find someone above him to figure out the best possible deal available. It's the only way you'll come anywhere near getting what you want.

The worst part is that other people will make similar scenes knowing they'll get to speak to managers. And they'll get what they want. Repeatedly. And they don't seem to feel even a little guilty.

Meh.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Constitutional Republic

Law Dog has an good post up about the depressing willingness of the American public to entrust the President with far more power than the Constitution allows. Unfortunately, I don't think that's going to change in the near future.

The funny thing about it is that none of our so-called "Constitutional scholars" worry about the document they're "interpreting." Go to your nearest college and talk to some professors in the political science department. They'll cite case law that backs whichever stance they'd like to defend on whichever issue is big at the moment, but ask them about the Constitution and see what happens. Many of them will tell you that it's a "living document" and "open to interpretation," but they'll very rarely even dust off a copy of it and look at what they're interpreting.

I had professors who routinely called our political system a democracy and would not accept a correction. If, heaven forbid, I brought up a point regarding the Constitution, they would simply spout precedent, if they bothered to present a reason for the disagreement at all. "Why is this done this way?" "Well, they've been doing it since it was first done by..." "But what about the Constitution?" "It's a living document, and the founders couldn't have foreseen our world. That's why we have to rely on precedent."

It's my experience that, for everything that changes, human nature never does. Sure, we have different technology, but people still want to pursue their individual dreams without interference. People still want to protect their own interests, property, and families. Sure, the internet and television have largely supplanted the printing press, but it's not a new concept, just a new media. Our Republic was designed with the unchanging aspects of humanity in mind, though you'd never think it with the modifications that've led to the current state of affairs.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Sorry about the wait...

I'm sorry to have let this blog die. I've realized just how important it is to choose jobs you don't hate. Not necessarily jobs you love, but jobs that don't drain the life from you. Big box retail, for me, is one of those life-suckers. I still haven't quit, but I've stopped waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel to get brighter. It's a damned cave, and that light bulb's burning out, so I'm going back to the surface.

That aside, working in the corporate-controlled world has taught me a few things about myself. In college (and for a time thereafter), I felt like I could make a difference. Not because of the Republican Club, the Libertarian Club, the school newspaper, or any of the other things that students often think might have a lasting impact. No, I was already cynical then. I knew the school paper was a joke that no one read, though I put a LOT of work into editing it. (It seems literacy is not a prerequisite to taking journalism classes.) I had fun with that one, writing opinion pieces and never trying anything seriously.

It was an underground publication that let me make a difference. My senior year, a new president took over at my college (which was dubbed a university at the same time). Some would say that I seemed to dislike him from day one. It's probably true. Right away, I knew he and I weren't going to see eye to eye, and I did not like the direction he was going to be taking the college. The first freshmen to come in under his regime were greeted with a speech including such key lines as "at any university, there are parties every night of the week. But you shouldn't party every night. You should pick two nights a week that you can party, and stick to just those two nights." I quickly opened MSPaint and created a quick comic. It was poorly drawn, but it became the centerpiece for the first issue. (There were a few more issues after that, and they all had similar stick figure comics)

People thought that I went into the school in the middle of the night to distribute the paper, but I did something less conspicuous. While evening classes were still in session, no one paid much attention to a guy sliding a couple papers under teachers' doors. After all, it was probably late homework. And they certainly didn't notice a few papers being left in various accessible areas where they'd be discovered by students killing time before class the next day. From the beginning, I was the prime suspect. The fun was letting everyone go on accusing me without letting them have their proof.

It was fun seeing the reaction and watching the administration try to trick me into taking credit for my work. It was expensive, but it was worth every penny and more.

By the end, I was getting sloppy. A few supporters learned who I was because they happened to be in their offices when I was delivering. It just made me even more brazen. The final issue was delivered while quite a few offices were occupied, and I was caught by someone who had no love for the publication. She didn't end it, though. She told the head of security who had done it, and he told me to keep my head down. It didn't matter. I knew it was ending. I had finally found the story that would be impossible to top: a letter from the faculty to the president, outlining the various problems they had with him. After that was public, the local newspapers picked up on it and the president resigned. Though it was nothing on even a statewide scale, it was a massive event for the college. The paper ended because it couldn't top that. It had done its job.

Even when I was working on a larger level, things looked brighter in those days. When I wrote about wasteful government spending in Washington State (things like unaccountable gas spending by the state, building a rehab facility that didn't actually make residents sober up, or painting a plane like a salmon), I saw my stories picked up around Washington and even in other states (in small doses, and never really changing things). When I wrote about Michael Idland, a state trooper who was still receiving pay while imprisoned on charges of molesting women he'd pulled over, I had the satisfaction of knowing the State Patrol knew who I was. Sure, they dodged a lot of my questions and only partially answered some, but I knew they were getting nervous. And the judge made him pay for his incarceration, though the plea deal left him pretty much unscathed. (Of course, that wasn't really my doing, but it was good to see some sense on the bench.)

In the corporate-controlled world, I find myself just keeping my head down. If a policy is terrible, I complain to those above me and never see a change for the better. I can't subvert the process, since the head honchos don't want to listen and aren't around to be forced to listen. In the short time I've been in this world, I've seen them change to an automated scheduling system, which means no one gets a decent schedule; I've seen the employee discount range cut because their research saw that the average was 25%, so that should be the new top of the scale (instead of 40%); they've given customers ridiculous discounts and free meals to make amends for things that the customer screwed up or made up; I've had to return guns that I KNEW the customer had broken; and I've seen that they don't give people better pay for having more responsibilities or even for the risk of felony charges (after all, a screwup at the gun counter could really bit a person in the ass).

That was kind of a long post just to complain about work. But I think I'm going to be starting this blog back up fairly soon. And I'll get back to regularly reading some of my favorites, as well.