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Friday, December 23, 2011

Book Review: M-1 Garand Assembly Guide (so where you can look to find out about modifying your M-1 Garand)


Some people learn by reading; others learn by doing.

For the gun owners who lie in the latter category, a historic firearm becomes more than a relic to hang above their fireplaces while they sit under it and read of its exploits.

For those hands-on learners, historic guns become bygone battlefields for minds and fingers to explore--a way for you to connect with whatever past soldier first field-stripped that gun years ago.

Geared towards that hands-on historic gun collector, "The M-1 Garand Complete Assembly Guide" by Walt Kuleck aims to present a simple guide for someone with no Garand modification experience, according to its introduction.

Does the book meet that goal? The specific, detailed subject may frighten brand-new general gun enthusiasts into believing they will not understand Kuleck's book: not so.

In fact, the book simplifies Garand assembly for the new owner almost to the point of the ludicrous. The author wasn't satisfied just to write the caption "note the receiver" above an image of a receiver, for example; he also wrote it again two inches away on the image with a big dark arrow pointing to the indicated part, in case the reader, a consummate idiot, still does not note the receiver.

The clear, step-by-step images take the reader through disassembly from trigger guard to buttplate, and then back through assembly. The images makes the book: I only wish I had seen these pictures before interviewing Mr. Kuleck on Garand accuracy--it would have made researching the gun much easier.

Each set of basic directions includes safety features throughout that should also provide a solid aid to new Garand owners. "Always wear your safety goggles" brings back memories of high school robotics for me, but Kuleck's story about a gun exploding on his hand reminds the young and reckless that this isn't the science fair anymore.

Also for safety, Kuleck's book recommends a full read-through before an owner makes any modifications, and a final check with a certified armorer before the owner fires the finished gun. He illustrates, with images, the unsafe way to remove a trigger assembly--with a cocked hammer--and what used or welded gun parts could prove disastrous additions to a rebuilt Garand.

Despite the simple language and safety instructions geared towards beginners, long-time Garand owners may benefit even more than newbies as Kuleck, a Garand Collector's Associaton board member, builds on established knowledge with his experienced, trial-tested tips for the best techniques, the trickiest pitfalls big and small, and ideas for saving time.

Continue reading here:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

How to make an old gun (M-1 Garand) shoot like new. Okay, not really. How to make your historic M-1 Garand more accurate

M-1 Garand honor football game
                                                                                                                                 Image courtesy of
Reserve color guard honors World War II veterans at a football game Nov. 8, 2010 in WWII uniform, with M-1 Garands
Guns & Patriots asked Garand expert Dr. Walter J. Kuleck, a board-member of the Garand Collector’s Association and author of several authoritative gun manuals, what tweaks can give your Garand its best competition accuracy.

“First off, you need to make sure that the rifle is kept clean and lubricated with a high quality grease. If you don’t have a basic platform to start with—a clean, solidly assembled rifle--it really doesn’t matter what you do to it from there on,” said Kuleck, a doctor of psychology who spent many years as a Boeing engineer.

The former engineer said improving the accuracy of any rifle requires three critical points: the barrel, the fit of the stock, and what happens at the front end of the gun.

“If the barrel is rusted or pitted or defective in some way, you’re not going to get anywhere in terms of improving the accuracy,” he said.
The second critical accuracy point, the stock, may need adjustments to tighten its grip around the receiver, said Kuleck.

“The stock is held between the receiver and the trigger group. That is to say, when you field-strip a Garand, you swing down the trigger guard and remove the trigger group—that’s got the hammer, the trigger, the safety—the stock then comes off and you have the barrel of action, in other words the receiver,” he said.
“If that fit isn’t tight—in other words, if the receiver’s allowed to move around in the stock just a little bit—the accuracy is going to be materially affected, negatively,” he said.

When the Garand was standard military issue, finding a perfect stock for a rifle was easy for armories because they had so many Garands available, said Kuleck.

Today, when stock-fit decays, Garand owners can use glass reinforced resin or fiberglass bedding to tighten their aim, he said. “That enables you to get a perfect, lasting fit between the stock and the barrel receiver.”

Kuleck said the final focus area of the gun for accuracy enhancement lies on the front end of the gun: a study by the Marines showed that even just placing a penny on the top of the front end of the barrel by the sight would dramatically alter rifle accuracy.

“You would shift the place the bullets were hitting by feet at 600 yards,” he said.

The front end must always return to the same place with respect to the rifle--this means making sure that the gas cylinder does not bind on the barrel, because if it does, when the barrel heats up the cooler cylinder ring will bend the barrel, he said.

“On a service rifle, you want the front hand guard to rattle a little bit back and forth because as a rifle heats up, if it’s all jammed in there, it’s gonna have a similar effect—it’s gonna begin to warp as it gets hot. So on a match rifle, what you do is you secure the rear of the handguard to the metal piece that surrounds the stock, called the front-end ferrell,” he said.

Typically a gun-owner could secure the ferrell with glue, or drive screws in through the back and then glue it into place—while ensuring that the handguard does not have the freedom to touch the back of the gas cylinder, he said.

Tweaking those three critical points will help hone the inherent accuracy of the rifle, but a shooter must also find ways to reduce user error, Kuleck said.

“You can’t stop there. The interface—I hate that word, but some places it just works--between the shooter and the rifle is extremely important, and the two important elements that I’m talking about are the sights and the trigger,” he said.

Sights should enable the user to adjust placement with respect to the bulls-eye, so size matters: choose a sight that’s too big, and the shooter can’t tell where it is under the bulls-eye, while too small means hard to see through, said Kuleck.

Standardized Garand national match sights end up somewhat smaller than normal service rifle sights, and have a bit of a taper from back to front to reflect any glare forward rather than back towards the shooter’s eye, he said.

A smaller back sight aperture creates a sharper image, and for accuracy the aperture is adjustable so each click in the horizontal direction is one half minute of angle—half the normal adjustment for a battle rifle, said Kuleck.

“One minute of angle translates to one inch at a hundred yards, two inches at two hundred yards, three inches at three hundred yards, and so on,” he said.

The trigger forms the final accuracy-enhancing aspect of the gun/user interface, said Kuleck.

“If the trigger has a lot of what we call creep—in other words, you have to really move it a long way before it goes ‘bang’—rifle shooters don’t like that very much because it allows—it keeps you from discharging your rifle when you want to,” he said.

The weight and delay of pulling a single-stage four-pound trigger, for example, might cause a shooter to lose aim while the gun fires, said Kuleck.

To make a trigger pull more smoothly, Kuleck said owners can...

Can what? How can you make a trigger pull more smoothly? How not to not end a sentence. = P Keep reading here:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Kim Jong Il is Dead--What Next? Clinton&Genba summit, persecuted Christians, and political analysis of life after his death

Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton met Japan's Foreign Minister Dec. 19 to plan a strategy with regards to North Korea as humanitarians worldwide expressed hope--and fear--in the wake of Kim Jong Il's death.
"We share the recognition that it is important to make sure that the latest event would not negatively affect the peace and stability on the Korean peninsula," said Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba. "For this purpose we affirm to closely monitor the situation concerned and to coordinate closely with each other by sharing information."
Dictator Kim Jong Il died from working tirelessly for the North Korean people, said Ri Chung Hee, the same news anchor from the Korean Central News Agency who announced Kim's father's death.
"He died of a sudden illness on Dec. 17. We make this announcement with great sorrow," she said, dressed in black and weeping.
Genba said he hopes to see concrete efforts towards denuclearization of North Korea, and also expresses gratitude to the United States for raising the issue of North Korea's abduction of Japanese citizens during every North Korea/US dialogue, he said.
"Due to the most recent developments we are seeing an increasing bubble of interest and attention to how the process of dealing with the abduction issue develops in Japan," he said.
Clinton said the Obama administration is relying closely on the advice of other countries in the region in the aftermath of Kim's death. "We reiterate our hope for improved relations with the people of North Korea, and remain deeply concerned about their wellbeing."
Prof. Ronald G. Dimberg of the University of Virginia, who teaches the history of inter-Korean affairs, said without understanding Kim's successor, Kim Jong-un, it is difficult to tell whether possibilities for healthy US/North Korea relations have improved or not.
"No one knows much of anything about him, including the extent of his apprenticeship. We know that his father had several years of training before succeeding Kim Il-sung, but the same is clearly not the case with Kim Jong-un," he said.
Kim Jong-un received part of his education in Switzerland--more exposure to the outside world than most North Koreans, including most of his family members, could imagine, said Paul M. F. Estabrooks, Canadian senior communications specialist with the humanitarian advocacy group Open Doors International.
"No one knows for sure if that's a positive thing in his outlook on the world," he said.
Dimberg said the US should tread lightly. "Of utmost importance now is to stay alert and to do nothing to raise fears and concerns in Pyongyang. Remember the importance of the year 2012 for the DPRK, marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung. That was to have been, and will be, a very special year for North Korea, but now for reasons unimagined originally."
Dr. Carl Moeller, president of ODI, said with increased government surveillance following Kim's death; some underground Christians in North Korea have become fearful they might face more suffering. "Though this brutal dictator who was responsible for so many atrocities has died, the future is still unknown."
North Korean prison camps hold an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 Christians, he said.
Todd Nettleton, spokesman for Voice of the Martyrs, another persecution advocacy group, said his contacts in North Korea do not expect much change in the government's attitude towards Christians following Kim Jong Il's death.
"North Korea doesn’t announce anything publicly until they are ready to deal with the situation and maintain control," he said. "So this public announcement means they think they are ready to deal with the situation and maintain control and power within the country."
However, officials have stepped up house raids on hidden Christians since the Oct. 2010 annunciation of Kim Jong-un as next leader, said "Simon," a Christian in North Korea whose last name was withheld for protection.

Continue reading here as "Simon" shares more of his inside view--also, the woman who stabbed herself to cry for Kim Jong Il's father

Friday, December 16, 2011

U.S. Infantry Weapons in Combat: A book review, snapshots of soldiers and the weapons they loved

American Soldier poster
                                                                                                                                 Poster image courtesy of
Foreground:(left to right) a 1945 Army tank guard with a submachine gun, a Major with an M-1 carbine, and his radioman, with an M-1 rifle.
Step inside this book, and you slip into heavy boots in muddy foxholes, stiff fingers shivering as you field strip a frozen M-1 or clean your Browning Automatic Rifle with its .45 caliber brass brush.  Look through the sights of the guns detailed in US Infantry Weapons in Combat, and you look into the soul of a bygone era.
The book, written by historic weapon enthusiast Mark G. Goodwin, consists of 65 interviews of American infantry soldiers who participated in World War II and the Korean War.
The author and publisher both have deep emotional histories with World War II weapons--especially the M-1 Garand: Scott A. Duff, the book's publisher and author of its foreword, believes that the M-1 won World War II.

Stories range from the lighthearted to the morose, from the soldier ready to return home to the young man hankering to stay on the battlefield, but they all hang on the common thread of historic guns.
The gun details make Goodwin's book riveting:  "The first thing this reader must know about this book is that it is a gun book," according to the foreword by Duff.

The book shows the tension Korean War hero Jack Walentine felt 40 or 50 feet from the top of a ridge during a final charge, as he asked himself, "Did I shoot four, five, or six rounds?"

In another interview story, World War II vet Marion Throne’s M-1 clicked without firing, alerting German soldiers to his presence. "I couldn't believe I was so stupid to not tap the operating rod,” he said.

This is no cut-and-dry thesis of statistics quantifying the technological contribution of a certain gun to military achievements. Through the medium of guns, the soldiers interviewed paint vivid pictures of their personalities, American wartime culture, and war as a whole.

It's odd--and rather funny--to think that no one thought to write this book 20 years ago and make it required reading for some obscure college history class.

Modern warfare is all about guns, but most educational histories on American wars focus on strategic maneuvers, politics, or large-scale socioeconomic trends. Personal histories and war memoirs tend to focus on family stories and cultural clashes.

Yet as a trigger for starting to tell a war story, guns have a definite advantage both because of the intense detail with which infantrymen learned their weapons, and because of the emotional attachment soldiers had to the only thing between them and inflicted or inflicting death.

Infantrymen spent most of their time clutching a firearm; it's impossible to understand their thoughts and relationships with their enemies and friends without understanding their perceptions of their guns...

Continue reading here:

Friday, December 9, 2011

Getting better at updatin' faster: MF Global CEO says it's not his fault, it's taxes!

For those of you who don't know, MF Global failed around Halloween, costing tons of people millions of dollars.

Here's my story about the Congressional hearing.

Testifying Dec. 8 before the House Agriculture Committee, the former CEO of commodities brokerage MF Global blamed new tax laws, not his bets on European sovereign debt, nor the $1.2 billion in missing client funds for the company’s Halloween bankruptcy filing.

The company’s losses that forced the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing came from new tax regulations removing assets from the company, said Jon S. Corzine, former New Jersey governor and senator, who is an intimate member of both the Clinton and Obama political families.

“The lion’s share of the quarterly loss was a write-off of approximately $119.4 million that reflected a valuation adjustment against a deferred tax asset,” he said.

The company’s repurchase transaction derivatives, also called RTM’s, were used to facilitate its bets on high-yield debt issued by European governments and carried an asset, not a liability, he said.

“That asset had been created by years of non-RTM tax losses cumulated—mostly before I arrived at MF Global—in the firm’s United States and Japanese subsidiaries, which had allowed MF Global to recognize as an asset potential tax benefits in future years,” he said.

“Under applicable accounting rules, by the second quarter of MF Global’s 2011 fiscal year the firm was no longer permitted to recognize those tax benefits as assets, and therefore, with the advice and knowledge of its external auditor, it recognized a loss in that amount,” he said.

This bookkeeping adjustment, related to practices that predated his tenure, caused the firm’s downfall, he said.

Corzine said the company did not fail due to risky European investments, which he conceded were done at his initiative.

“In light of the attention that has been given to RTMs, and the press reports that attributed MF Global’s loss to RTMs involving European debt securities, it is important to make clear here that the loss was not related to these positions,” he said.

The fallen CEO’s testimony was preceded by appearances from Jill E. Sommers, who leads the MF Global investigation for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and James B. Kobak, Jr., counsel for the trustee appointed to execute the Securities Investor Protection Act liquidation of the firm.

Corzine was often confident and engaging during his testimony, but when he spoke about the missing $1.2 billion in client funds, he played as perplexed as the congressmen glaring at him under hot television lights.

“I was stunned when I was told on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011 that MF Global could not account for many hundreds of millions of dollars of client money,” he said.

“I remain deeply concerned about the impact that the un-reconciled and frozen funds have had on MF Global’s customers and others,” he said.

Responding to questions from Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R.-Texas) about the missing funds, Corzine said that because of the turbulence in the days leading up to the bankruptcy, which came on the heels of his November 3 resignation, he only knows what is already in the public record.

“There were an extraordinary number of transactions during MF Global’s last few days, and I do not know, for example, whether there were operational errors at MF Global or elsewhere, or whether banks and counterparties have held onto funds that should rightfully have been returned to MF Global,” he said.

“I have not had access to my emails or any of the reconciliations,” he said.

Corzine said he hoped the situation will change as his attorney works to open company records to him before the end of the year.

The former CEO, who joined MF Global in March 2010, said he has no access to information on botched customer accounts.

“I simply do not know where the money is, or why the accounts have not been reconciled to date. I do not know which accounts are un-reconciled or whether the un-reconciled accounts were or were not subject to the segregation rules,” he said. Segregation rules regulate how a company can put a client at risk against its own proprietary trading.

Sommers said MF Global’s issues revolve around customer segregated accounts: as a futures commission merchant, also known as an FCM, the firm was permitted to invest funds in protected accounts, but under certain restrictions.

“While an FCM is permitted to invest customer funds, it is important to note that if an FCM does so, the value of the customer segregated account must remain intact at all times,” she said.

“In other words, when an FCM invests customer funds, that actual investment, or collateral equal in value to the investment, must remain in the customer segregated account at all times,” she said.

Continue reading here: 

And a little note...why do I label all the newsposts as American History?
To make a statement, my make a statement.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rand Paul and the White House on Education--American Action Forum, vouchers, and how Dr. Paul Jr. wants to take away summer vacation = P

Rand Paul diagram
Sen. Randal H. "Rand" Paul (R.-Ky.)
At a packed education forum Dec. 1 a Bluegrass Senator urged changes like merit-based teacher salaries and vouchers to guarantee students better value for parents’ taxes--without increasing education funding.
“Let’s figure out how to have competition in our schools—competition for better schools,” said Sen. Randal H. “Rand” Paul (R.-Ky.) to the American Action Forum.
“Let the students decide where to go; attach the money to the kids, and the money will go to the better schools, and the poorer schools will meet their demise,” he said.
Teachers should also receive competitive pay, without union interference, said Paul, who was joined at the forum by a panel of education experts including Zakiya Smith, Anne Neal, Jeff Selingo, and Andrew Gillen.
“Why not on occasion give a really good teacher $100,000? You’ve got to break up the idea that every teacher deserves $55,000, no more, no less—the idea that everyone’s going to contribute the same and we’re not going to reward some teachers and not re-hire some teachers,” he said.
John Stossel wrote about some 400 teachers in New York who had inappropriately touched students but could not be fired because of union agreements, said Paul. “You can’t do that. You have to change—we’ve got to break up the ideas of what we’ve been doing.”

Paul’s son tore a ligament in psychology class while the teacher sat with his feet up on the desk and let the kids play basketball every day; that teacher should not get the same pay as the teacher who works in and out of the classroom, calling parents and engaging with students to increase their test scores, he said.
Often parents cannot blame teachers for failing students, said Paul: a study by Malcolm Gladwell showed that the education gap between impoverished and well-off students widens during the summer.
“He comes to the conclusion that the only thing that he’s identified objectively through statistics that would work would be longer school-years,” he said.
Constitutionally, states, not the federal government, should manage education, he said. “There’s nothing in the Constitution that says anything about education. We’ve drifted from that.”
Increasing education funding will not fix the problem, he said.
“I think it doesn’t work. I mean, look at Washington, D.C., we spend what, $16,000--or is it $20,000--per pupil in Washington, so the school district that spends more money than any other school district in the country has arguably one of the worst educations in the country,” he said.
Annie Hsiao, director of Education Policy at the American Action Forum and major organizer of Paul’s talk, said funding for American college educations has also come to crisis.
“Based on 2009 numbers—the state of student loans right now--the default rate for student loans is 8.8 percent. Federal default rate is 13.8 percent,” she said.

“You do see a market increase in students being unable to pay back their student loans because in many cases they graduate—or in many cases they don’t graduate, half of students don’t graduate—and aren’t able to find employment because again they haven’t been equipped with the skills necessary,” she said.
Read the rest of the article here:
Are the long titles getting to be too much? Maybe I'll cut back next week. = P

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The State Department changes its response from "No M-1 Garands" to "Yes, maybe"--and I got to hear it first. = P

Big, big how not to no-no. No putting smileys in titles. Absolutely not. It looks juvenile. Teenage. Distinctly unprofessional. Smileys are great for personal blogs, and even for news blogging within the text when the tone allows, but absolutely not for this article:

"The State Department announced Dec. 2 that it will re-consider its stance against allowing M-1 Garands into the United States if South Korea offers another sale.

“The Department will consider a new request from the Republic of Korea (ROK) to transfer its inventory of approximately 87,000 M-1 Garand rifles into the United States for sale on the commercial market,” a spokesperson at the U. S. Department of State said to Guns&Patriots on Dec. 2. “We have not yet received that request.”

“These M-1 Garand rifles date back as far as 1926 and remain a legacy of decades of U.S.-South Korean security partnership. The ROK intends to use the net proceeds of the sale, estimated to be between $2 million - $10 million depending on the condition of the rifles, to upgrade its Homeland Defense Mobilization Reserve components with more modern rifles,” said the spokesperson.

Sen. Jon Tester (D.-Mont.) said the new developments encourage him and he hopes the State Department will move forward quickly.

“For over a year, I have pushed the State Department to allow the importation of M1 Garands, so it’s encouraging to hear that folks at the State Department are open to making that happen.  I look forward to the State Department and the Republic of Korea reaching an agreement soon so American collectors can start adding these historic rifles to their gun collections,” he said.

The Department of State made the decision to reconsider their ban in response to additional information received from ROK authorities, as well as in an effort to compromise between the competing sides for and against the importation, said the State Department spokesperson.

“The Department of State considered several important factors when reviewing the proposal for a limited shipment, including the close and enduring bilateral relationship with the ROK, the historic value of these firearms to collectors in the U.S., and the potential public safety, law enforcement, and cross-border transshipment implications attendant to the importation of these firearms,” said the spokesperson."
Continue reading here:
Oh wow that link formatting is so ugly I almost couldn't do it. But this is thehownotto blog, after all!
Enjoy the rest of the article, and the awesome picture of John Garand (the M-1's inventor) that I cooked up out of thin National Park Service air.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tester Introduces Defense Authorization Amendment to Prevent EPA from Banning Traditional Ammo and Tackle--(How Not to Link an Article on Your Blog). And I Make This Title Longer. Again.

A Treasure State Democratic senator introduced an amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization Act Nov. 29 ensuring hunters and anglers can continue using traditional ammunition and fishing tackle.

“When it comes to our outdoor heritage, Montana’s hunters and anglers deserve common sense,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D.-Mont.), chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus. 
“It’s my job to make sure that Montana’s sportsmen can access and enjoy the Big Sky’s great outdoors without having to look over their shoulders,” he said.

The EPA previously decided not to restrict traditional ammunition and fishing tackle, but with that decision now in the courts, Tester’s measure would have enshrined protections for hunters and anglers in law, he said.

The American Sportfishing Association and the Congressional Sportsman’s Foundation also supported Tester’s efforts, Tester said, and the amendment would not affect current U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service safeguards aimed at protecting water fowl.

Christopher W. Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, said...
Dun dun dun...want to know what he said? Click here! 
This is how not to get your reader to click into your full article. Silly gimmicks often make readers feel like you're wasting their time. But anyway, click there to read the rest, if you dare, and find out what happened to Tester's amendment. Will the EPA win in the end?
I'm not a scorched-earth anti-environment person, btw. Just trying to establish dramatic tension with the evil EPA vs. ordinary Jon the Democrat so you'll click this link.
See how obnoxious that is? That's exactly how not to do it!