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Thursday links

  • Can you fix a scratched DVD with a banana? Inquiring minds want to know.
  • Oleg Volk doesn’t approve of the fixation on great marksmanship.
  • Life in Uruguay. I think I could get used to it. Always has kind of struck me as “Switzerland south,” but cheaper.
  • The Flagstaff, AZ, cop who committed one of the most prolonged and barbaric puppycides has resigned.
  • It may be news to the Wall Street Journal that overseas banks, including the famous Swiss banks are tossing American clients out with the trash. But some readers hereabouts know it all too well. From first-hand experience. At least the WSJ has noticed that’s one reason so many Americans are giving up U.S. citizenship. Once a great boon, that blue passport is becoming a burden to many.
  • Travis Corcoran of “I Am TJIC!” infamy is writing his first novel, with overtones of The Probability Broach and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. He’s started posting little teaser bits of it as he re-drafts. It has intelligent dogs. What’s not to like?
  • Speaking of books, David Young, who’s written a couple and is working on another, has a thing or two to say about the future of ebook distribution and the Death of Amazon. I don’t want to see Amazon die (and I think predictions of its death are way premature. But competition? Now, that’s good.

Pop Quiz: Can you identify this object?

The winner gets … well, the great satisfaction of being right. The losers get …


  1. Concealed Carrying Cyclist
    Concealed Carrying Cyclist October 25, 2012 4:02 am

    That’s a trigger-guard holster with a lanyard on it. Tie the lanyard to your belt or something, so when you draw you gun, the trigger guard pulls off.

    Handy if you want to Mexican carry a handgun with one in the chamber, but also want to keep the trigger covered for safety.

  2. David
    David October 25, 2012 4:02 am

    I am guilty of Headline Hyperbole. And it was…fun. I’ll probably do it again. 🙂

  3. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty October 25, 2012 4:55 am

    The trigger guard thing would certainly be useful if you really needed a pocket holster or a way to safely carry a gun in a bag, for instance, but I can’t see it making “Mexican carry” any better or safer in the long run.

    A friend sent me one of those things and I sincerely tried it out, but I can’t imagine ever wanting to carry a gun without a good retention holster firmly attached to my belt. Just not an option for me. But it will be an interesting addition to the box of holsters used for demo to handgun classes.

    Sure wish David’s idea was already the industry norm. I’ve procrastinated long over giving any control over my novel to Amazon, having some real questions about their intentions and integrity after what happened to Bear. But there don’t seem to be a lot of viable alternatives… darn it.

  4. Bear
    Bear October 25, 2012 6:06 am

    Quiz: Looks like a trigger cover (for a Glock?) for pocket/Mexican carry. I’ve also seen a small plastic plug that snaps in behind the trigger inside the trigger guard. Don’t think much of the ideas myself. There’s reasons for holster besides protecting the trigger.

  5. Claire
    Claire October 25, 2012 6:24 am

    Okay, you guys are too smart for me. That’s exactly what that thingie is. It doesn’t work as a carry holster for me because I don’t wear a belt. But it’s handy for attaching a gun to a fixed object for quick grabbing, too.

    So did you guys know what it was or just figure it out from its appearance? I expected the Kydex might be the big Clew, even for some who didn’t know.

  6. grenadier1
    grenadier1 October 25, 2012 7:16 am

    I am not sure of the make but I have one that I carry my M&P in called “the Zack” made by Dale Frick. I use it and train with it and I can attest to its simplicity and complete functionality. Its not perfect but it has some really good advantages over a standard holster. Its main drawback is that the pistol can shift around. You need to keep your belt a little tighter to keep that from occuring but thats not a big thing.
    Its really made for Apendix carry and thats where its big advantages come into play. The main one being the ability to draw offhand by simply turning the pistol around in the waistband and drawing it out. I love mine and its the way I carry everyday.

  7. Bear
    Bear October 25, 2012 7:20 am

    Based appearance (look at it- it’s just the trigger portion of a holster; what else _could_ it be?), since I hadn’t actually seen one of these in person. I have seen a few of the plug-types I mentioned.

    Re:Amazon’s death. Still loading David’s pages, so haven’t read it yet. I think Amazon is large and diversified enough that it isn’t going away any time soon. It wouldn’t break _my_ heart to see their Createspace/Kindle publishing biz crash and burn (for several reasons, beyond my own difficulties with the [expletives deleted] idiots.

  8. grenadier1
    grenadier1 October 25, 2012 7:20 am

    Oh and Claire,
    You dont have to wear a belt. You can put the loop around a small carbiner or S biner and then clip that to your belt loop. The ‘biner makes it easy to move the rig from carry bags to the waistband and then to the nightstand without having to remove the guard from the pistol.

  9. Claire
    Claire October 25, 2012 7:32 am

    grenadier1 — Thanks for the report from experience. That is indeed the Zach, and mine was a gift from a friend.

    Since I don’t even have loops on most of the pants I wear, and the pants also have flexible waistbands (I usually wear sweats), the Zach wouldn’t attach and even if I could figure out a way to make it do so, the action of drawing would pull my pants off. 🙂 However, that’s a very handy doo-dad for securing a gun to a fixed object for quick, easy access. Handy in an earthquake, I expect, when nightstand objects might end up across the room.

  10. Claire
    Claire October 25, 2012 7:35 am

    Bear — “Mutant holster.” That’s what I’d have though. Holster for a toy gun? You guys are all smarter than I.

    As to Amazon … I’m sorry you had such an awful experience with them. They seem wonderful until some problem arises (problems beyond merchandise orders, I mean). Then they act like a big bureaucracy. I love Amazon. But I have no doubt they’ll soon get some healthy competition in book publishing.

  11. Bear
    Bear October 25, 2012 7:56 am

    I feel the need to write something moderately extensive about David’s subject (mostly in support, with some ranting about existing publishers and models). I’ll post to my own site and put a link here, rather than hijacking yours (or David’s) blog.But let’s just say that Coker/Smashwords wouldn’t be someone I’d want to deal with.

  12. David
    David October 25, 2012 8:28 am


    Hmm. I’ll come read what you have to say when you post the link–but right now my daughter wants to go to the zoo. Again. So that’s what we’re doing (okay, I love it).

    Though I wouldn’t mind having my blog hijacked from time to time either. That’d prove it had value, right? …And I’m going to stop right there, before I type what I thought of next.

    As for Amazon…just try getting an account deleted. I tried for months, once, and ended up just entering weird strings of characters to replace all my info. Then there’s the issue with my new Kindle: their software screwed up my order, they couldn’t fix it, I had to re-order, and the whole thing delayed its shipping by a month. For which they gave me a $10 credit. I have a kinda-like/hate relationship with ’em. All minor stuff, but still–I never get the feeling they particularly care. Probably because they don’t.

  13. Samuel Adams
    Samuel Adams October 25, 2012 9:02 am

    Mr. Volk is right as far as he goes, but he needs to address several points.

    * A well run guerrilla insurgency is not interested in holding territory. It is interested in making life hell for the occupiers, in bleeding them to death.

    * More and more insurgencies around the world are finding willing suicide bombers. A sniper willing to suicide could take out quite a few of the occupying army’s officers before being killed.

    * Marksmanship isn’t necessarily a requirement for a successful insurgency. See, e.g. the history of the FP-45 Liberator, which liberated parts of eastern Europe twice.

    * Asymmetric warfare.

  14. Ken K
    Ken K October 25, 2012 9:52 am

    Mr. Volk needs to read some “first person” (i.e., accounts written by former Vietcong and mujaheddin, army privates, NCO’s etc, not generals, politicians, SF/SEALs, academics, and think tankers) histories of the Vietnam war, Soviet-Afghan war, and the US-Afghan war. Please note that the superpowers had better tech and were massively brutal but they were all defeated in the end by irregular infantry armed only with simple mid-20th century light infantry weapons and IED’s.

  15. Bear
    Bear October 25, 2012 10:41 am

    Never mind on that “moderately extensive” bit about David’s idea. The personal SHTF, and I have to find a way to deal with it (a few details at for the morbidly curious).

    Basically, David’s on the right track. Centralized has advantages in potential customers _finding_ you and your books (Amazon’s existing advantage). But centralized allows abuses (financial and privacy) as evidenced by everything Amazon does. I’m leery of the Coker/Smashwords suggestion because the Smashwords rep who wrote me claimed that although they made sales of my books, they didn’t pay Benner (the pirate) because PayPal has suspended _his_ account for apparent problems. But Smashwords continued offering the books. And didn’t offer to pay me either. Just kept whatever money they collected.

  16. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit
    The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit October 25, 2012 12:14 pm

    What Bear said. 😉

    Samuel: Shotspotter + field artillery + a total lack of care or concern for the civilian population = Good luck with that sniping gig.

  17. David
    David October 25, 2012 12:22 pm

    Hi Bear-

    Well…distributed content can have a centralized index. So, the drop-dead simple architecture is a server farm that does nothing but redirect data requests to individual machines, scattered wherever. Users wouldn’t see much difference between that and a standard website. In fact most users wouldn’t see any difference at all.

    To make it more fun, the index can be widely distributed as well, with many “central” nodes. I stole an idea from Mike Nolet at AppNexus for another project, and essentially it does load-balancing via a hacked DNS server. It rotates IP addresses through. A version of which is sitting on my laptop right now–it just does a round-robin thing, but that logic could be improved upon to weight its IPs according to capacity/performance/uptime/whatever.

    There are a couple of approaches to ensuring the distributed content servers are online & functional. One is regular polling (which my Scarecrow application already does in another context, so that’s easy) and the other is for a machine to request work when it’s free…which could be implemented via RabbitMQ or something similar. If it’s RabbitMQ, again my Scarecrow app already does it, because that’s how it distributes work to virtual servers in different physical locations.

    I guess I’m saying I already have many pieces of a functional system architecture lying around as leftovers from something or other. Which doesn’t at all mean I could get (literal) buy-in from authors, and it sure doesn’t mean I’m the right guy for marketing this or anything else. Mostly, when I talk people look for reasons to disagree, so it’s better if I don’t talk.

    Anyway. It’s a neat idea, and I think it’ll happen sooner or later whether I exert myself further or not. Lends itself well to access via mobile apps, too.

    The thing is, the current system is horribly inefficient. If it had started in the software world, it probably wouldn’t at all resemble what people currently think of as normal. So there’s lots of room for improvement, and the limiting factor is probably nothing more (complex or simple, pick one) than an approach’s credibility with indie authors.

    I think.

  18. David
    David October 25, 2012 12:43 pm

    Hmm. I think I’m going to steal from myself and put all that into a third blog post. Maybe then it’d get the heck out of my brain.

  19. Bear
    Bear October 25, 2012 1:49 pm

    Hey, David,

    Yeah, in what would have been the extensive bit, I would have addressed indexed P2P as a model. Starting point anyway. Sounds like you’ve already given it more thought than I and have a lot more expertise. I know just enough to suggest things I’d like to see happen without knowing enough to predict how easily it could be done. [grin]

  20. David
    David October 25, 2012 2:06 pm


    The annoying part is that I’ve hardly given it any thought at all, architecture-wise. I mean, the stuff above is basically a description of software I built/own that I use for other things already.

    That’s so far from being a business, though…and I am as far from a salesman as a person can get, as far as efficacy goes…plus, I really just want to write fiction, and I am opposed to spending my time in what might become a large organization. But it would make me very happy if it inspired someone else. I’d even consult.

  21. Mary Lou
    Mary Lou October 25, 2012 6:02 pm

    LOL, thanks for the ‘cat slap’, that is EXACTLY what my Damcat does to poor Corey …

  22. winston lite
    winston lite October 25, 2012 10:27 pm

    “holster” thing for safer street-style carry

  23. LarryA
    LarryA October 25, 2012 10:47 pm

    Oleg’s articl is a good one, but he disregards one factor.

    Let’s say he’s correct and reduce it to numbers: a hunter sniping at a trained infantry squad can only shoot one soldier before being killed. Lets go further, and say that four out of five hunters will miss, therefore it will take five hunters to eliminate one soldier or LEO.

    When the last government agent falls, there will still be half a million hunters left.

    Hunters: 17,000,000
    Total U.S. military personnel: 2,500,000
    Federal, state, local sworn law enforcement officers: 800,000
    Total government agents: 3,300,000
    5.15 hunters per government agent

    And that’s just hunters, not all 80,000,000 to 100,000,000 gun owners, and disregards the fact that there are more like 500,000 combat branch soldiers on the pointy end.

  24. Woody
    Woody October 26, 2012 4:15 am

    When people speak of “the numbers” they make the assumption that hunters/gun owners are a unified group. That is a false assumption. There are lots of hunters/gun owners who would side with the state. Lets not kid ourselves. Do you think the NRA would council it’s members to oppose the government? Remember “enforce existing laws”, “Operation Crime Strike”, Etc? The NRA has long been a propaganda arm of the government and millions of gun owners believe every word that comes out of their Fairfax headquarters.

  25. Geoff Ross
    Geoff Ross October 26, 2012 8:44 am

    Perhaps Mr Volk should read of the exploits of one Mr Chuck Mawhinney [url][/url]. A Lil o’l Deer hunter who demonstrated what one good shooter can do against an organized military force. In one engagement he killed 16 NVA at night with an M14 and night vision. He lived to tell about it.

    Marksmanship does count. Consider the Revolutionary war battle of Saratoga, the first victory for the colonials. It began with the British Commanding general shot from his mount by a patriot with a “Hunting Rifle”.

  26. LarryA
    LarryA October 27, 2012 3:03 pm

    “When people speak of “the numbers” they make the assumption that hunters/gun owners are a unified group.”

    They also assume that soldiers/law enforcement are unified. In fact that was the premise of the original post.

    My point is that the U.S. government can’t simply tell the military to take out all the gun owners. Nor can the generals decide to take out the government over the objections of gun owners. In infantry terms either would be a “suicide mission.”

  27. A.G.
    A.G. October 28, 2012 2:03 am

    I had never seen the VanGuard 2, which is probably a more versatile rig “inspired” by Dale’s Zach.
    In viewing OLD photos and artwork of pre-20th century fighters from around the world, it becomes apparent that appendix carry was the intuitive norm for defensive weapons. Daggers, bowie knives, tomahawks, and pistols were all carried at what we call the 11 o’clock position. Not only is it the fastest place to draw from due to anatomy, you can access weapons easily from any position. Seated, on your back, etc. I surmise that it’s lack of popularity for the past 100 years was due to two big factors. The first is that it is hard to supervise a range full of police recruits if you are standing behind them and cannot see what they are doing with their hands. The second is that with the advent of the undercover man in a business suit, the need for concealed carry elsewhere developed, hence both the shoulder rig and the now popular 4 o’clock carry. While some AIWB holsters are indeed “tuckable” with the use of a dress shirt (the Zack is, as is another I own by F.I.S.T.)…..speed is NOT their strong suit if so attired. The communist Pinoy “Sparrows” used the technique, but they were crazy thin and wearing only T-shirts:
    Notice the “boost” with the hand in the pocket.

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