Nobel Peace Prize To The Bonobos

I suggest that the primate species of Bonobos be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2016. Bonobos are the only hominid primates that don’t have a war-like culture. They are led by females. They solve conflict with sex. They rely on cooperation rather than competition as a means to maintain peace and stability; who don’t resolve disputes with violence. Bonobos stand as an example for all humans to follow. The world would unquestionably be a better place if humans were more Bonobo-like.

Copulating Bonobos

Two high-level Bonobo diplomats vigorously negotiating a peace treaty

Urge the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize to the entire species of Bonobos. Nobody deserves it more. Please sign and share this petition. World peace and the future of humanity depends on your support.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE PETITION!

Ruger SR1911 CMD

I have always wanted a 1911 for no other reason than that it’s one of those handguns you must have in your collection (technological innovation, history and military significance and such). I have previously owned a GSG 1911 in .22 LR which in almost every aspect is as close to a “real” 1911 in .45 ACP as you can get; most of the parts are interchangeable with the real thing. I grew tired of it and eventually sold it (kicking myself today since after the new gun regulations in CT it can’t legally be sold here for whatever reasons only gangster daddy, I mean Governor, Dannel Malloy and his henchmen know).

German made ATI GSG 1911 in .22 LR commemorative edition. Moral of the story: Never sell a gun. You will regret it.

German made ATI GSG 1911 in .22 LR commemorative edition. Moral of the story: Never sell a gun. You will regret it.

A month or so ago I had finally done all my research and it was down to a Kimber 1911 Pro Carry II (4″ barrel) and an all-steel Ruger SR1911 CMD (Commander 4.25″ barrel). I tested both out at Hoffman’s Gun Center in Newington, CT and ended up with the Ruger. Partly because the Kimber isn’t completely true to the original design (doesn’t have a barrel bushing), and because the lightweight alloy frame of the Kimber makes the recoil feel more intense than the full-weight Ruger. The sales guy also more than strongly hinted that the Kimber was inferior. Both were similarly priced at ~$730.

I’ve taken it to the range a few times and have about 200 rounds through it and it’s disappointingly un-fun to shoot. It’s a wonderful gun, looks great, seems to be well made, and I can easily make a fist-sized hole center mass in a stationary paper silhouette that isn’t shooting back at seven yards. But it’s just a little blah, if you know what I mean. Compared to my polymer 9 millimeters it feels like chunky, dead weight in my hands and when you pull the trigger it’s a dull, thumpish boom and recoil. Nothing negative about Ruger here, I guess it’s just the nature of the 1911 platform.

Surprisingly, the trigger is the one thing that doesn’t feel refined about the gun. It’s not too heavy, the pull and break are smooth and crisp, but the reset is crunchy, and we can’t have that. I’ve watched a ton of YouTube videos to figure out how the pistol works and how to take it apart, and, more importantly, put it back together (see pics below, completely broken down except for the mainspring housing, ejector, and hammer strut).

I’m fairly confident about the mechanics of the gun (I only needed to consult the book to figure out how the disconnector and sear mate together upon reassembly). All I need to do now is find out exactly which parts rub on each other for that millimeter or two from when the trigger is fully to the rear and when it resets, polish out whatever burrs or tooling marks that cause the crunch, and hopefully that will fix the issue. I’ve purchased a jig and some stones from  Brownell’s for that purpose.

I’ll update when such time comes. In the mean time I’ll practice disassembly/reassembly until I’m fully confident (as opposed to “fairly”) about the inner workings of the gun. No matter what, I think my new 1911 will spend most of its life in the safe. But at least I have one.

Get 1911 parts here.

Sam Harris On Guns + My Own Thoughts

Anybody interested in the problem of gun violence and America’s unique relationship to firearms (should be all of us), should take the time to listen to this podcast by Sam Harris. It’s probably the most sane and level-headed analysis I’ve heard on the subject in a media landscape dominated by hyperbolic zealots on either side of the spectrum. It’s one-and-a-half hours well spent.

Let me share, briefly, my own feelings on the subject. To set things straight from the get-go, let’s agree to the following: It is indisputable that America has more guns per capita than any other western civilized country we care to compare ourselves to. It’s also indisputable that we have more gun deaths (total and per capita) than any other advanced  nation. It is much easier to get hold of a gun in America than in any other modern, first-world nation. The correlation between the number of guns in our society and the high occurrence of gun violence can hardly be denied. If we cannot agree on these things, don’t bother reading further; you are not a reasonable-minded person.

Still, a few years ago, for whatever reason, I got it into my head that I wanted to own a pistol. The local gun shop in the neighboring town of Monroe informed me that the state of Connecticut requires one to have a gun permit in order to buy a handgun. They kindly offered to provide the training necessary to get the certification. After a six-hour course, including firing a total of twelve shots (the only shots I had ever fired in my life at that point) with a .22-caliber revolver at a shooting range, and passing a 30-question written “test” (open-book, discussion with the other people taking the class allowed, and self-grading of said test), I was given a diploma certifying that I had fulfilled the state-mandated requirements. At the local police station I submitted my application and finger prints for a criminal background check and after about six weeks received notification that I could pick up my pistol permit at the state police facility in Bridgeport. I now had the state’s blessing to own and carry a gun in public.

That very same day I headed off to a gun shop and, on the advice of the store clerk, bought a 9mm Springfield XDM semi-automatic pistol with a total capacity of 19+1 rounds (legislation passed after the Sandy Hook massacre now prohibits me from loading it with more than ten rounds when not on my property, which is rather good news for the 11th person I plan on killing).

Next stop was the shooting range where I had previously “qualified” by shooting a revolver twelve times. The inadequacy of this qualification soon became apparent when I discovered that I didn’t know how to load the magazine of my newly acquired pistol; small wonder as this was the first time I’d ever held a semi-automatic pistol in my hands. Let me repeat this since it’s not insignificant: I was licensed by the state to own and carry any kind of legal firearm, yet I had never operated, and did not know how to load my pistol.

No matter how hard I tried I could only stuff a couple rounds into the magazine before it jammed. I finally sought the help of the range officer on duty, and after he also failed to load up the magazine, he finally discovered the problem: the store clerk had sold me two boxes of .40 caliber ammunition to go with my 9mm pistol.

What I’m trying to say here is that even in Connecticut (and even after Sandy Hook), the requirements to own and carry a pistol, are woefully inadequate. It is absolutely crazy to allow somebody with the training I received to own, buy and carry, openly or concealed (which is the law in CT) any kind of firearm.

I agree with most, if not all, of what Sam Harris said in his podcast, and have become more convinced than ever that what I said in a previous post is true: we need to repeal the second amendment of the US constitution. Or rather, repeal and replace, since I don’t want to ban guns. But the way 2A is worded makes it very difficult to come to any kind of consensus as to what it actually means in practical terms. The gun nuts (the Ted Nugent fan boys) will always point to “the right of the people” and “shall not be infringed”, while the gun grabbers (Bloomberg et al.) will emphasize “a well regulated militia”, and they will both be right. My own vision for a revised 2A might include words to the effect that gun-ownership is indeed an individual right, but not any gun for anybody at any place, and the power to regulate requirements and limitations is given to congress. I believe Sam’s analogy to the requirements to get a pilot’s license is appropriate and sound. I say this knowing full well that any member of Congress who proposes a repeal of the second amendment will have committed political suicide more effectively than declaring an unbelief in Jesus.

 

Political Correctness Gone Amok

alfonso-aguilar

Alfonso Aguilar learning that he is insensitive to the plight of slaves and single moms for using the term “hard worker”.

Look at this face. It is the stunned expression of a man who has just been confronted with pure, unadulterated, full-blown, in-your-face stupidity, and he doesn’t know how to react. Neither would I.

Just when you thought social justice warriors couldn’t get any crazier, Melissa Harris-Perry, progressive talking head, took the movement to a whole new level of being batshit, fucking unreasonable. During a discussion on her MSNBC show, one of her guests, Alfonso Aguilar, a former official in the Bush 2 administration made a grievous and, apparently racist, faux pas when he referred to Paul Ryan as a “hard worker”. Ms Harris-Perry, being acutely perceptive of hidden micro-aggressions from the white, cis-male patriarchy, quickly interrupted to point out that:

Alfonso, I feel you, but I just want to pause on one thing because I don’t disagree with you that I actually think Mr. Ryan is a great choice for this role, but I want us to be super careful when we use the language “hard worker”, because I actually keep an image of folks working in cotton fields on my office wall, because it is a reminder about what hard work looks like. So, I feel you that he’s a hard worker. I do, but in the context of relative privilege, and I just want to point out that when you talk about work-life balance and being a hard worker, the moms who don’t have health care who are working (…) but, we don’t call them hard workers. We call them failures. We call them people who are sucking off the system.

Really? Really??? REALLY?!?

Saying that somebody is a “hard worker” (this presumably is only true for straight, white males) is really racist code speak, an underhanded diss at slaves and working single moms? For fuck’s sake! This shit is getting out of hand.

CarPro CQuartz UK vs GTechniq Crystal Lacquer

Battle of the silica based nano coatings: CarPro CQuartz UK vs GTechniq Crystal Lacquer.

Disclaimer: Any conclusions that I reach in this article must be read with the caveats in mind that 1) I am not a seasoned pro as far as car detailing is concerned; 2) the two cars I tried these products on have very different paint—my 2005 Ford Explorer has very hard silver paint with lots of metallic flake and my wife’s 2014 Hyundai Tucson has very soft pitch black paint with almost no flake.



Prep Work

Both cars were properly prepped for application of the products (the Ford with CQuartz and the Hyundai with GTechniq respectively) with a thorough degreasing wash using Dawn dish soap, multi-step paint correction/compounding/polishing with dual action polisher, and final wipedown with CarPro Eraser and isopropyl alcohol.

CarPro CQuartz UK On Ford Explorer

As I applied CQuartz to the Ford I thought it was tedious and a bit finicky. Not difficult by any means, but you have to pay attention to ensure complete coverage (especially on the light paint) and also to make sure any excess product is completely buffed off to avoid streaks when the product cures. After application it is recommended to wait an hour before applying a coat of CarPro Reload (an easy mist on/wipe off procedure) for best protection.

It took me about two hours total. After the CQuartz was applied I was in no way super impressed by the level of gloss and slickness to the paint (in all fairness, the final result is much more dependent on the quality of your polishing than anything else). It looked good, but I didn’t think the CQuartz added much visually. The application of CarPro Reload changed this noticeably; the paint became much slicker and gave it a glassy look.

GTechniq Crystal Lacquer On Hyundai Tucson

If I thought the CQuartz was finicky, I wasn’t at all prepared for the level of difficulty I encountered with GTechniq Crystal Lacquer. The product applies easily enough with the included cotton pad applicators, but it flashes very quickly and it is important to spread it out and buff off excess residue quickly and completely in order to avoid visible streaks, particularly on darker paint colors. As if that wasn’t enough, the complete process includes two layers of Gtechniq EXO to be applied no less than 3 hours and no more than 12 hours after the Crystal Lacquer. EXO is even more finicky than the Crystal Lacquer and extreme care must be taken to avoid streaks that can only be removed by physically buffing them out and reapplying the product.

From start to finish this was a 10-hour+ project, not including the time it took to correct mistakes I didn’t catch until I pulled the car out of the garage and inspected it in daylight the next day. Similar to the CQuartz, the results weren’t mindblowing after the Crystal Lacquer alone, but after EXO the transformation was nothing less than stunning; the black got blacker, the entire car took on a glass-like sparkle, and slickness was very impressive.

Comparison Between CarPro CQuartz and GTechniq Crystal Lacquer

Application: CarPro CQuartz wins, hands down. While both require more finesse and care than a tradition wax or sealant, GTechniq Crystal Lacquer + EXO gives new meaning to the word “finicky”, with severe penalties for not paying attention.

Results: GTechniq may be harder to work with, but the results make it worth it. While the before/after with CQuartz was noticeable, it was nothing compared to the stunning difference (at least on black paint) I got with the GTechniq/EXO combo.

Cost: GTechniq/EXO is a fair bit more costly than than CQuartz/Reload.

Protection/durability: Both products claim 2+ years durability, protecting against water spots, the effects of harmful pollutants, and even minor scratches. Obviously I’m not able to report on these claims yet.

Final Thoughts

Is it worth it? Final judgment on that will have to wait until I see how these coatings perform and hold up, but if the marketing claims are true, then the answer is a firm “maybe”. It all depends on how much time and money you are willing to put into your daily driver, and how important it is for you to preserve perfect or near-perfect paint. If you are happy to run your car through an automated car wash (aka “motorized paint flogging machine” or “automated swirl installer”) once or twice a month, I wouldn’t bother. These products are not for you. If you want to preserve that new-car look for as long as possible and are willing to, and capable of, making the (considerable) effort, give it a try.

For the sake of full transparency, when saying “I” while discussing the prep and application on the Hyundai, I really mean “she”, as in Marianne, my wife, who did 90% of the work and 100% of the mistakes.

First Democratic Presidential Debate

Bernie and Hillary dominate the first Democratic presidential debate.

Just got through 2.5 hours of the first Democratic debate in the run-up to the 2016 Presidential election, and it was Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton all the way. The lineup also included former senator and governor from RI Lincoln Chafee, former MD governor Martin O’Malley, and former VA senator Jim Webb. But really, it was all about Bernie and Hillary.

bernie-hillary

It was all about Bernie and Hillary in the first Democratic debate.

My pre-debate ranking of the candidates was:

1 – Bernie Sanders
2 – Hillary Clinton
3 – Jim Webb
5 – Martin O’Malley/Lincoln Chafee tied for last

Post-debate impression of how they performed:

1 – Bernie/Hillary tied for 1st
3 – Martin O’Malley
4 – Lincoln Chafee
5 – Jim Webb

Bernie, in my opinion, didn’t have any glaring bungles, but I’ll freely admit I’m biased. I think he could have stood his ground a bit more firmly on the gun issue; don’t be afraid to own that you voted against a bill that would hold gun manufacturers liable for how their legal product is used! He turned around a possible attack on his patriotism due to being a conscientious objector during the Vietnam war to resounding applause, and had the guts to call for a Revolution and admit to being (some kind of) a Socialist. What set him apart from the others was his non-apologetic, unrelenting attack on Wall Street, the billionaire class, and Citizens United. To paraphrase: Congress doesn’t regulate Wall Street, Wall Street regulates Congress. None of the other candidates—certainly not Hillary—can claim independence from Wall Street and corporate interests.

I thought Hillary, while frankly not being my cup of tea, handled herself well. She got support from the other candidates on the e-mail issue, but her obvious gloating over Kevin McCarthy’s faux pas ruined the moment. Her low point was when she suggested that her having a vagina somehow gave her an edge over the other contenders and was an argument for her candidacy in and of itself. Hillary, read my lips: I will NOT vote for you because you are a woman. Her strongest quality was that she had an air of confidence and competence about her, and she speaks effortlessly and with authority on most issues.

I had heard good things about Jim Webb, but he appeared like a mumbling blockhead. He spent too much energy being angry at Anderson Cooper for getting less time than the two main characters (justifiably so), but it didn’t play out well for him.

Martin O’Malley was relatively unknown to me, but he was able to capture my attention a couple of times in a good way without seeming too rehearsed.

Lincoln Chafee is an old fuddy-duddy and came across as such. Or, as Donald Trump would say, a total loser!

While I personally think Bernie Sanders is the candidate with the policies that best serve America, and seems competent enough, I’m afraid him being branded as an America-hating Commie by the Right will make him unelectable in fly-over country. The only person that can deny Hillary the Democratic nomination is, as I see it, Joe Biden, but first he has to join the race. I hope he does.

Final thoughts: I have to roll my eyes at how these debates are themed like reality TV shows and how we have to play/sing the national anthem every time anybody farts (at least there was no Jesus-peddling, though Hillary Clinton managed to sneak in “god-given” a couple of times). Still, it was a relief to watch mostly sane people have something that resembled an exchange of civilized arguments on topics that matter, quite different from the obnoxious clown pageant and bullying in the Republican debates.

Winter Prep Ford Explorer Day 5

Fifth and final day.

Today I tied up all the loose ends. I polished the windshield and rear window with a small (3-inch) Griot’s Garage DA polisher with a glass polishing pad attached. I started out with CarPro Ceriglass polish on the pad, but quickly switched to Griot’s Garage’s own brand of glass polish since the Ceriglass was so totally bitchin’ hard to remove. I treated both windows with CarPro FlyBy30 glass coating.

I treated all exterior rubber trim/seals with Wolfgang Exterior Trim Sealant, sprayed some Meguiar’s Plastic & Vinyl Coating on the wheel wells/liners to black them out and finished off by dressing up the tires with Optimum Opti-Bond Tire Gel.

Closing arguments:

My car is shiny and well prepped for the winter season. But was it worth all the work? Let’s just say it’s going to be a looong time before I do anything like this again. I think I have Marianne’s car scheduled for something similar this weekend.

Winter Prep Ford Explorer Day 4

Unenthusiastically trudging along…

Started the day repairing some rock chips in the paint with a touch-up kit from DrColorchip. It’s not as easy as they make it look in the videos, and it’s also quite time consuming. After a while I decided that I can live with a few tiny chips in my paint. I took care of about six that were really obvious and that was it.

I then wiped down the car (again) with isopropyl alcohol to get rid of all residue from the polishing before coating the paint with CarPro CQuartz UK Edition. From the manufacturer’s website:

This coating is not some special edition gimmick. This is the easiest to apply coating on the market while matching or raising the already high standards of gloss and scratch resistance found in CQuartz.

The exclusive new 70% SiO2 with 99.9% purity formula made for hot or cold temp environment applications. CQUK is based on the same technology as the original Cquartz with some interesting tweaks. Current glass coating products had 20% of SiO2 in the product however CQUK has 70% SiO2 with 99.9% purity. This is the first ever nano silica coat which has this concentration! The pure percentage ensures the most transparent glass coat film over the surface. This guarantees long lasting coating with extreme strength resistance and water-repellency. Once the liquid meets the open air it cures and forms a ceramic quartz hard coating on the surface with extreme hydrophobicity.

I’ve researched these newfangled next-gen paint coatings for quite some time. They’re supposed to act almost like a sacrificial (2 years+) layer of clear coat on top of the factory clear coat, giving great protection, gloss, and slickness. I decided on CQuartz because it had many great user reviews and seemed like the most idiot proof of the offerings out there. I coated the hood with no issues at all, but the result, frankly, was a bit underwhelming. After all the hype maybe my expectations were too high. The paint looks nice and all. It’s glossy, but no more so than the un-coated panels, and it’s not even very slick, certainly nothing like what I can get from a good carnauba wax.

Oh well, it is what it is. Maybe it needs to cure or something. It’s been one of those days. I’ll do the rest of the car for tomorrow.

Update 10-15-15:

So I went through my phone and found some video clips of me applying the paint coating. It’s not much, but you get the general idea how it’s done. I know I mumble a lot; pay attention and maybe you’ll learn something. Or not.

Winter Prep Ford Explorer Day 3

Compounding and polishing 1-0-1

Yesterday I did the hood of the car according to my original three-step plan (actually four): 1. Attacking RIDS (Random Isolated Deep Scratches) with a specialty fast-cutting Flash Pad from CarPro and Menzerna FG 400 compound; 2. general compounding with the same Menzerna FG 400 on a white Lake Country CCS foam pad; 3. CarPro Reflect polish on a gray Lake Country CCS (all steps so far using the Flex 3401 dual action polisher); and finally 4. glossing it all out with Menzerna SF 4500 ultra-fine polish on a Lake Country Gold jewelling pad.

That was the plan. And I abandoned it pretty fast. Because I’m not that much of a fucking masochist.

I ended up doing a two-step, and even single-step with lighter polishes/finer pads on most of the car using the Harbor Freight DA polisher, only using the Flex with the Flash Pad where I found unacceptable RIDS, and on horizontal surfaces.

Update:

Rather than bore you to death with the details, I made a video diary of Day 3. It’s really not that informative (OK, it’s not informative at all), but it does give you an indication of my work ethics and dedication to perfection. Forgive the quality; it’s shot on a low-end smart phone and I spent all day today (today being 10-13-15) editing and putting it together with a trial version of Adobe Premiere Pro. And I do not know how to use Adobe Premiere Pro. A big thanks to all the people who post Adobe Premiere Pro tutorials on YouTube; I couldn’t have done it without you!

Book Review – Lock In by John Scalzi

Lock In: A Novel of the Near FutureLock In: A Novel of the Near Future by John Scalzi
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was nothing more than an old-fashioned murder mystery dressed up as SciFi, and not a very good one at that. It was entirely dialogue driven, and the dialogue wasn’t very good either, it sounded phony and unnatural, like it does when the writer constantly struggles to come up with clever phrases and comebacks for his characters.

As for the mystery itself, everything was dangling in the air until the very last, few pages, at which time it was all neatly unraveled. Everything was told, nothing left for the reader to figure out, predict or anticipate.

As for the basic premise of the novel – people who are “locked in” functioning in the world through mechanical “threeps” – there were just too many holes and glitches for me to find it believable, or even plausible.