Monday, December 28, 2009

Mercenary Prick!

Travis Kuykendall, head of the Special High Intensity Trafficking office in El Paso, seems to be a mercenary prick.

He's also blind if he can't see the benefits of drug policy reform.

Then again, someone pointed out a long time ago that it's tough to get someone to acknowledge reality when his job depends on continued denial.

in reference to:

"Travis Kuykendall, head of the West Texas High Intensity Drug-Trafficking Area office in El Paso, Texas was quoted by Associated Press as saying, "There's no upside to it in any manner other than for those people who want to smoke pot. There's nothing for society in it, there's nothing good for the country in it, there's nothing for the good of the economy in it.""
- Washington considering legalizing marijuana | The Money Times (view on Google Sidewiki)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The problem is people

Malthus was right.

It is not necessarily a mistake to fail to foresee future developments, but it most certainly is a mistake to take them for granted.

It's not just the fossil-fuel fueled industrial revolution that created vast agricultural surpluses. Those surpluses only delayed the inevitable for a while, and would not have sustained population growth that occurred in the latter part of the 20th century. For that, the green revolution was required.

What will be the next revolution, the one that's going to sustain two-Chinas worth of people that the globe is supposed to add to today's human numbers if they increase as projected?

It is a mistake to take future developments for granted. It seems unlikely that the "two-Chinas" population projection will come to pass.

To say that "the problem is pollution not people" is to, as they say, put the cart before the horse.

in reference to:

"Indeed, the big mistake made by the original prophet of population doom, Thomas Malthus, was his failure to appreciate how fossil fuels would transform the world economy. To be fair, it would have been hard to foresee, back in 1798, how industrialisation - powered by fossil fuels - would create the vast agricultural surpluses that would sustain a huge increase in population. But his mistake points to the real culprit here: the problem is pollution not people."
- BBC - Ethical Man blog: Are our children to blame? (view on Google Sidewiki)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A key point

This is a key point about why out-and-out legalization is necessary. Decriminalization of use and possession worsens the situation next door, worsening spill-over effects as well.

By refusing to acknowledge reality we will continue to shoot ourselves in the foot, in the process shooting our neighbors in more vital areas.

Excellent article.

in reference to:

"Several U.S. states like California and Oregon have decriminalized marijuana, making possession of small quantities a misdemeanor, like a parking ticket. Decriminalization falls short of legalization because the sale and distribution remain a serious felony. One of the big reasons for the move is to reduce the problem of overcrowded and costly prisons. While this strategy may make sense domestically for the U.S., Mexican officials say it is the worst possible outcome for Mexico, because it guarantees demand for the drug by eliminating the risk that if you buy you go to jail. But it keeps the supply chain illegal, ensuring that organized crime will be the drug's supplier."
- Solutions to Mexico's Drug Crisis - (view on Google Sidewiki)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Good for Catalonia

Salvador Boix equates eating meat and torturing animals? He's not stupid, so what is he?

I suppose Boix might say of this picture (might have to click on it) that the matador cut himself while preparing the bull for slaughter.


Good for Catalonia if they manage to ban bullfighting.

in reference to:

"“This attempt to ban bullfighting shows the hypocrisy of the politicians who all enjoy eating meat but vote to end bullfighting.”"
- Catalan Parliament passes landmark vote to ban bullfighting - Times Online (view on Google Sidewiki)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Beretta Tomcat 32: Stuck Safety Lever

UPDATE2 - December 18, 2009

To hell with it!

I have no more time or patience to deal with Beretta's maze of obfuscation, which you run in to whether on the computer or on the phone.

This Tomcat I'm disgusted with will be the last Beretta product I buy. My advice to anyone happening upon these words is to look elsewhere. Beretta has always been a good brand in my eyes, but no more.


UPDATE - December 18, 2009:

I took this little Beretta Tomcat shooting this morning, after having thought the problem of the stuck safety was fixed, but no.

After shooting just 40 rounds, the safety is stuck again. It is possible to free it from the OFF (down) position by the use of a small glasses screwdriver as shown in the last picture below, but I did not disassemble the pistol this time and the safety gets stuck in the OFF (down) position every time.

I will post Beretta's response. [See above. There's nothing to post.]


This little story gets around to the trouble I had with the safety on a Beretta Tomcat 3032 pistol. It started when my son and I purchased one of these little guns for my wife a couple of years ago. It was my fault that we purchased the Beretta over my son's preferred Kel Tek P32. I was swayed by my lack of familiarity with Kel Tek, my favorable impression of Beretta, the tip-up barrel and the heavier frame (which I thought would help with recoil).

I should have listened to my son, who has known far more than me about guns ever since he was ten years old. My bad. Sorry Eddie.

It turned out that the Beretta was not to my wife's liking because it was just too hard for her to operate. Racking the slide, closing the tip-up barrel, operating the safety and even opening the tip-up barrel all required too much force for her to enjoy shooting this little pistol, so my son and I reclaimed it and got something else for my wife.

All in all, the Beretta Tomcat 3032 that we bought has been a disappointment, largely because of the problems I had with the safety mechanism, which seems to reflect a design or materials flaw of some sort.

Shortly after we bought the little pistol for my wife, the safety lever got stuck in the OFF position. Nothing we tried would free the lever, so we took it to a local gun shop where there is a gunsmith we like and trust. The pistol never even reached our gunsmith, though, because the shop wouldn't work on it. I don't recall exactly why not, but the reason had something to do with Beretta policies. We had the gun shop mail the Tomcat to Beretta for warranty repair.

When the Tomcat came back the safety lever worked again, but in very short order the same problem occurred again. Nothing we did would free up the safety, which remained stuck in the OFF position. I cursed Beretta and put the thing away, and only took it shooting once since then.

Last night I came across the pistol as we were getting ready to go shooting today, and I decided to try to deal with the stuck safety one last time.

Here's a picture of the pistol. You can make out the safety lever in the upper right, shown in the OFF positon because the lever was stuck.

The following picture shows the safety lever in more detail, and you can see the red "safety off" indicator.

Following is an extract from the owner's manual showing three of the four parts involved in the mis-operation of the safety lever.

It's a little hard to visualize how part number 25, the safety lever, relates to the pictures I'm posting of the pistol, but consider that the schematic drawing is rotated 180 degrees about its up/down axis relative to the position of the pistol in the pictures I'm posting. In the schematic, the images are on the far side of the pistol, which would be pointed to the right. The long, downward-pointing shaft on part 25, the safety lever, traverses the frame of the pistol. Spring 27 fits into a small hole in the main body of the safety lever 25, and safety plunger 26 fits into the spring, which pushes the plunger up against a Safety Plunger Contact Pin shown in the picture below.

Sorry, it looks like you might have to click on the pictures to show them in a bigger size in order to be able to read the red text that attempts to explain what is shown.

In the picture above, the safety is OFF (rotated down).

In the picture below, the safety is ON (rotated up). Note in the picture below that the tip of the Safety Plunger (part 26) is visible, whereas it is not seen in the picture above because it is rotated to a position underneath the Safety Plunger Contact Pin. In the picture below, you can see the tip of the Safety Plunger because the safety is in the ON position (rotated up), and the Safety Plunger has rotated to a position above the Safety Plunger Contact Pin.

So, you can see how, when you rotate the safety back and forth between the OFF (down) position and the ON (up) position, the Safety Plunger (part 26) has to slide past the Safety Plunger Contact Pin, in the process compressing the Safety Plunger Spring (part 27), which releases after rotation is complete in order to secure the safety lever in its new position.

Here's another picture that might further clarify things, in which the safety lever has again been placed in the OFF (down) position, and the Safety Plunger is no longer visible, having been rotated back underneath the Safety Plunger Contact Pin:

As I was Googling this problem I came across forum posts in which people said they had lost the Safety Plunger while trying to deal with their pistol's issues, so I was aware the thing might take off. I was very careful about that when I removed the grip to try to get at whatever ailed the safety. Sure enough, the damned Safety Plunger came out anyway, but at least it landed right on the table where I could see it.

Fortunately, now that I think I know what the problem is, it should not be necessary to disassemble the thing to this extent to get the safety lever to work if it is stuck.

If the safety lever is stuck in the OFF position, it should be possible to free it by pushing on it with a small instrument of some sort as illustrated in the picture below.

You can't see the tip of the Safety Plunger when the safety is OFF (lever down), but by carefully feeling around for the Safety Plunger as shown above, applying a little pressure to push down the Saftey Plunger, and simultaneously applying reasonable upward force on the safety lever, you should be able to free the safety lever.

I think what's happened is that either the Safety Plunger tip, or the Safety Plunger Contact Pin, or both, are insufficiently polished and/or insufficiently hardened, and until they are polished enough by repeated rotation of the safety lever there is too much friction, which effectively locks the safety lever in the OFF position because one is reluctant to apply more force to the lever for fear of breaking something. As it was, I don't think I could have exerted much more force on the safety lever without a pair of pliers (which would probably have been a stupid thing to try).

I suppose the problem could be something else entirely, but clearly, there is an issue for Beretta to deal with. Maybe it's a manufacturing defect in my particular gun, where the Safety Plunger hole is drilled at the wrong angle. Maybe the Safety Plunger wasn't machined correctly, but then why didn't they catch that when they worked on this gun? Maybe the Safety Plunger Contact Pin is not positioned correctly in the frame due to some manufacturing issue. Maybe the Safety Plunger Spring is too strong. Whatever.

I don't know, but it seems that the safety lever on this particular Beretta Tomcat is now working correctly as a function of repeated rotations having polished the contact points of the Safety Plunger and the Safety Plunger Contact Pin, thereby reducing friction between them to an acceptable level.

I hope this was a unique circumstance with this one pistol, but that seems unlikely at the moment. I know I could have benefited from a post like this as I searched the Internet, so here it is in case anybody else has this problem.

Beretta, you owe me.