Black Adder

Naming my black rifle “Black Adder” for one my favorite sitcoms seems obvious when you think about it…It was either that, or Black-Helmet Hot Mustard Slinger, but that felt a bit too forced.

The Procrastinating

I’ve had this rifle for about 2.5 months now, and am just getting around to writing about it. I am blame the potatoes for my lack of initiative…

The Building

Putting the damn thing together wasn’t terrible. I watched a lot of assembly videos beforehand to get a good idea of what I needed to do, then got to work putting it together.

Compared to the AK, the AR is a far more complicated animal with lots of tiny springs, detents, roll pins and other fiddly bits to keep track of. All pieces of the build kit were labeled, which made identifying what went where much, much easier. Kudos to Palmetto State Armory taking the guesswork!

A couple of times during assembly, a spring got loose and went flying across the room, but all in all, it worked out in the end.

The Lubing

I decided to go with Supertech Extreme Pressure Multi-Duty Complex Hi-Temp Grease (say that 3 times fast!):

You can find it in the automotive section of Wally World and other fine purveyors of industrial-strength lubricants. It runs about $4 or so for a 14oz can, which is more than enough to outlast both our new Chinese masters and the Robot Apocalypse combined three times over!

If it’s good enough for Polish AK operators, it should work just fine for Joe-Jim Q. Public!

The Completing

So here’s how he turned out:

Since the build came in at under $400, I decided to go ahead and splurge on couple of quality of life upgrades:

  • A decent sling (Ferro Concepts Slingster)
  • A couple of Magpul QD sling swivels
  • Magpul ASAP QD (which would also double as a single-point nut slapper)
  • Magpul Sling Mount (M-LOK)
  • Magpul Hand Stop (M-LOK)

The swollen testicle mag laying across the sling is Big Jim’s contribution to Project Black Adder, a Magpul D60 (60 round drum) – because ‘America!

The Feeling

The fit and finish is great for the price. No gap, no wobble, the whole thing feels nice and solid. The Magpul furniture adds a bit of weight, but if you’re used to the heftier AKM, this shouldn’t be an issue.

The grip is bit meatier than I’m used to, given that everything else I own uses the standard Comblock AKM variety…

The trigger is nice and crisp, so I’ll probably leave it as is.

The Shooting

We’ll see once I get a chance to take it out, but function tests using snap caps seem to indicate that it won’t have any issues. To be continued!

Revisiting the AR

In decades past, an entry-level AR would set you back some $800 whereas you could pick up a decent AK pattern rifle for around half that. As a consequence, I became an AK enthusiast. At the time, they were cheaper to own and cheaper shoot (~$.20 a round vs ~$.35 for the equivalent 5.56 ammunition).

Accessories for the AK developed into a cottage industry, and before long, many of the features that used to be exclusive the to AR became available for the AK (e.g. railed hand guards, telescoping buttstocks, optics, enhanced triggers, AR-style grips etc.).

Even so, the utilitarian nature of the AK lacked many of the quality of life features standard on all ARs (e.g. magazine wells, last-round bolt hold-open, easier safety selector, better ergonomics… etc.). Do any of these features inhibit your ability to send lead down range, or appreciate the simplicity and elegance of a proven platform that has continued to serve its purpose for 70 years? Not at all.

So why consider an AR now? For the same reason I bought my first AK’s: price!

Over the last 6 months, we’ve seen a 180° shift in the market. AK’s (and other mil-surp imports) that used to run $400-800 are now selling for $900-1,600+. AR’s which were manufactured during the election scare that were fetching as much as $700-800+ for a basic plain Jane AR can now be had for as little as $300 with a stripped lower and parts kit.

For that reason, I decided to look into buying one, here’s what I settled on:

  • Caliber: 5.56. Exotic uppers and ammunition get expensive and can come later (if ever).
  • Mid-Length Gas System: Carbine-length (from what little I know) is intended for shorter barrels (14.5″ and less). Rifle-length barrels start at 18″+, and since I’m building on a 16″ barrel, mid-length was optimal.
  • MOE Furniture: Magpul furniture is solid and comfortable. The basic MOE buttstock was designed to be light-weight and snag free. I was very happy with my last MOE lower, and they are still a good option today. While I used to like quad-rail hand guards, I found that I never used all that rail space, which most people would just end up covering with panels/covers anyway. If I wanted to mount a flash light, sling adapter, rail etc., that would still be an option.

The last AR I built was on a Palmetto State Armory complete lower, which cost me $300 in 2012, which I was very happy with but ultimately sold to buy Natasha, an SGL41. Boris, my Saiga 12 will only tolerate 3″ magnum shells…

Today, you can get the exact same complete lower for $160. I opted instead to buy a mid-length rifle kit for $330, and a $40 stripped lower. With a Magpul PMAG and shipping, my total cost was $399.58:

PSA AR-15 Lower Safe/Fire - 1728

What am I expecting for $400? An entry-level AR-15 that cycles reliably under normal operation and is reasonably accurate (at least no less accurate than my AKs). Is that realistic? Ask me again once it arrives! The stripped lower has already shipped whereas the kit might take a little longer. My hope is that I receive both by next weekend month, but we’ll just have to wait and see!

The Ultimate Secret to Happiness

Life is a series of lines in the sand; each represents a milestone, when achieved, will finally bring you happiness and contentment. I’ll be happy when…

  • I’ll be happy when I earn my degree
  • I’ll be happy when I land my first real job
  • I’ll be happy when I start making real money
  • I’ll be happy when I own my home
  • I’ll be happy when I buy my first new car
  • I’ll be happy when I lose 20 lbs
  • I’ll be happy when…

On and on it goes, ad infinitum. Each of these is a lie we tell ourselves for the hope of what tomorrow could bring. We all need something to look forward to, otherwise, what’s the point?

The truth is, happiness and contentment are mercurial. It can’t be captured in a bottle and preserved forever in your wine cellar – and even if you could, would you really want to?

Try to remember the great times you had…

  • I was happy when girls started to notice me
  • I was happy when I stayed up all night with my friends
  • I was happy when I quit a job I hated
  • I was happy when I impaled myself on the tree of knowledge
  • I was happy when I was a broke musician
  • I was happy when I was 12,012.83 km from my place of birth
  • I was happy when…

But don’t forget to take pleasure in the moment…

  • I enjoy paying myself $75/week to lose weight by bringing my lunch
  • I enjoy going for a 3-mile walk every night
  • I enjoy my first cup of coffee every day
  • I enjoy conversations with my friend Jim after work
  • I enjoy laughing to politically incorrect humor
  •  I enjoy talking to strangers
  • I enjoy making arbitrary lists…

We Need to Establish the Cetacean Nation

We need to establish the ‘Cetacean Nation’. I nominate myself to be the United Nations representative to the cetacean nation. Then we will force the white man to give back what he has taken from us.

It is both a philosophical and cultural imperative to perform the seaweed dance prior to making contact with the dolphin spirits. Otherwise, our bodies will be unprepared to receive their awesome powers.

I, for one, have been performing a daily ritual of deep, transcendental meditation, followed by exactly three jimmy flips, two half-berpies and a Krispy Kreme enema to sharpen my senses.

DOOMed

Note: This Article was written on January 15, 2016, then shelved. Now that the “new” DOOM has been released, I figured I’d cash in on the extra traffic.

Hah! Just kidding…as if I got cash for writing these…or traffic…

In the spring of 1994, I downloaded a Shareware copy of DOOM from a local BBS (Bulletin Board System…you know, that dial-up thing what people used before the interwebs).

At the time, my rig was a stock Packard Bell SX33 (33MHz) running MS-DOS 6.22/Windows 3.11, and no sound card. That last part made for an interesting experience as there was no background music, no sound effects (apart from the beeps of the PC speaker), just silence in the dark.

In a way, it was a lot more challenging to play that way as the DOOM engine used sound both to alert enemies of your presence, and to be able to hear their grunts, hisses and growls in the distance. While I couldn’t hear the later, the enemies could still hear me, so progression through the levels was a slow crawl, sneaking around and trying to pick off enemies one or two at a time.

Between pacing and exploring for secrets, I got a lot of mileage out of the game.

Later that year, we would buy an early Sound Blaster Pro ISA sound card which came bundled with a cheap, clunky and inconvenient single-speed caddy CD-ROM drive. A good thing too as I’d later buy a boxed copy* of DOOM II from Best Buy, which came on CD-ROM instead of 3.5″ floppies.

*For the youngin’s not in the know, DOOM (the first one) was only available by mail order. i.e. You couldn’t buy it in stores. So after beating the two Barons of Hell, the only taste of the next two episodes any of us got was this nifty teaser screen. Behold, a Great Orange Cyber Demon! I said, BEHOLD, DAMN YOU!

 

doom_teaser
Later still, I’d go on to upgrade it from 4MB to 8MB of RAM, and would cannibalize friend’s broken-down Packard Bell DX66’s Cirrus Logic on-board video card memory module for an additional 512KB of VRAM, giving me a total of 1MB!

I’d also upgrade the stock 40MB drive to 560MB (Ooooh, aaah!) and slap in a math co-processor that would upgrade the CPU to a whopping 100MHz clock speed!

Those were the days…it would be another 10 years before we’d see the next Chapter in DOOM’s history, and another 10 years after that, we’re now seeing DOOM’s 4th installment.

Looking back at the E3 footage, DOOM 4 (that’s what I’m calling it because that’s what it is…) struck me as a first-person Mortal Kombat X, complete with finishing moves. They’ve brought back the HUD idea (originally conceived for the first DOOM), and modernized it to help with the suspension of disbelief for power-ups and the like.

They also seemed to have kept the generic, bland, featureless alien/mutant-esque look of demons (at least for the Imps and ‘Pinkys’)…

Joejim’s Redaction: They actually do have ‘pinky’ demons again, though sans smooth ass-crack, which is more disappointing than you’d think it would be. What I was actually looking at when I saw the demos was the ‘Hell Knights’, but since they ain’t got horns, or goat feet, they’re kinda bland lookin’ too.

pinky_ass
Whatever happened to the Satanic look of the Pinky’s, Barons of Hell/Hell Knights and so forth? There were bits and pieces of them in DOOM 3, but I never played it long enough to get that far, and it just wasn’t all that interested. It lacked character, personality…

Hark, hark! Another Redaction…kinda: They did break out a proper Baron of hell…kinda…well this one’s at least got the goat feet and the horns, but not the Adrian Carmackian (no relation) goat-skull lookin’ face – more of a squashed baby-face…does that make sense to anyone but me?

In any case, I’ve since bought DOOM 4 and have beaten the single-player campaign. The “arenas” aren’t anything new – just re-branded Left4Dead zombie rooms where the music speeds up and hordes come pouring out – only with demons… I guess that’s a throw back to Ye Olde Sandy Petersen Monster Closets. We have come full circle!

Come to think of it, DOOM 3 (and now 4) have more to do with the original Quake (not Quake II, mind you) than DOOM/DOOM II…

Think about it.

What was Quake if not a tech demo for John Carmack’s new (in 1996) true-3D engine? For Carmack, it was all about the tech and little else – sound familiar, no? Only the faintest hint a of story, and even that was mostly ripped from DOOM (YetAnotherSpaceMarine Fighting zombies/demons with teleporters to Hellish alternate dimensions).

This may have been why games built by IdTech licensees were often superior to those made by Id themselves. A sound enough business model, that was until Unreal came along…

Of course, [John] Carmack is the same guy who said, “Story in a game is like a story in a porn movie. It’s expected to be there, but it’s not that important.”

For those that don’t speak Robutese, the phrase above roughly translates to,
“Fuck you, Tom.**”

You see, ‘J-Car P0’ didn’t just consort with the Robot kind, he was one! There were plenty of great porn stories out there, but they did not compute in his robot “hard” ware…

doom_bible

** SIDE NOTE: The DOOM Bible was a design document written by Tom Hall for DOOM, in response John Carmack’s demands for a seamless (read: no levels) environment. Ironically, Carmack later reversed this decision, and almost none of the original ideas put forth by Hall made it into the released version of DOOM. Further, Carmack would go on to de-emphasize Hall’s role, eventually forcing him out of the company altogether…

Having read that document cover-to-cover, it seems to me the two were on opposite extremes; on the one hand, the charm of DOOM were the ‘good bits’ Tom squeezed in (e.g. color-coded doors, teleporters, secret rooms etc.), which are what made the solo game fun/re-playable. On the other hand, the game is better for having left out some of the more extraneous features Hall suggested (e.g. multiple player characters, lives, some of the guns etc.).

What didn’t work for DOOM made Rise of the Triad interesting and fun, but that’s another story…

In any case, Hall didn’t stand a chance. Carmack was the developer of the engine – without  him, there was no DOOM. By comparison, Tom didn’t bring much to the team…

While the Tom Hall (and John Romero)  were respectable programmers and game developers in their own rights, neither had Carmack’s discipline or ingenuity – at best, all they could offer were ways to help Carmack exploit his technology.

I often wonder where Id would be today had they managed to hold things together. What would I have done as a 20-something overnight millionaire? Would I have acted nobly? Would you?

Well I’ll never know, and unless you were a millionaire in your 20’s in the early 90s, neither will you so back to my story :)…

###

new_doom_spider_mm

Will today’s generation ever get to experience games like DOOM the way I remember them? Probably not…

I recall the download took about 11 hours to complete over my blazing fast 2400 BPS modem. Might have been quicker, but this was dial-up on a shared line, so every time somebody picked up the phone, transmission interrupted. Thank Bog for Z-Modem protocol (i.e. it continued where it left off instead of starting over).

Getting the game to download was only the beginning! Then there was  hours troubleshooting combinations of dip switches, jumper blocks and configuration strings to reach the magical invocation that would allow you connect two modems and play a Deathmatch!

Somehow I just can’t imagine kids today putting up with that to play a game…
I suppose generations before mine had the same thing to say about what things were like in their day (e.g. playing chess by mail)…

In any case, it only goes to show that now is all we have. For better or worse, time marches on, and things will be never the way they were when we first experienced them, emulators and DOSBox be damned.

Why we haven’t posted a new Recipe in a while…

In the 3rd world shit hole I currently live in, I discovered a rare and wonderful treasure called, “Paldo Namja Ramen”  a couple years back. It’s a spicy garlic-flavored Korean-style instant noodle.

The Ramen Rater, Grand Guru of all things Ramen-Related (how’s that for some gratuitous alliteration?) thinks very highly of this one, giving it a 5/5, and I’m inclined to agree.

While they are good out of the bag as is, most people kick them up a notch with other ingredients such as eggs (usually boiled or poached, but sometimes fried), green onion, slices of meat, cheese, soy sauce, fresh veggies or whatever else is handy.

Even so, I’m always curious as to how other people prepare theirs, and on a whim, decided to look around on the YouTube and came across this:

You will never, ever, EVER make Ramen with the flare and gusto this bastard does! …and neither will I :(…

You may as well give up cooking altogether!

How can you, or I or anyone compete with that!? Have you ever seen someone fucking coax an egg out of a chicken in a kind of Gung Fu stroke-gasm?? No, you haven’t! Me neither, now that I think about it… but he did it!

Hell he didn’t even look at his at the pot to make sure the egg he was cracking actually landed in it… clearly, he’s seen the Cool Guys don’t look at Explosions music video. Even so, ANYONE can not look at an explosion — but how many people can crack eggs into a pot without looking whilst pulling off an anguished look on their face??

I know what you guys are thinking – it’s a commercial, they must be using CGI and other movie magic tricks to pull this off. I say you can keep the wool pulled over your eyes if you want to, but I know what I saw…

I don’t know what blue pill he’s taken to pull that off (Viagra maybe?) but dammit I want what he’s having!

A Sad Day for Fellow Amerifats in Burgerstan…

Dr. Burger ‘Luther’ King, Jr. had a dream: That one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of the Big Mac and the sons of the Whopper would be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood, and combine to form the fabled McWhopper!

But alas, this dream is dead and buried. Heir Steve, the CEO of McDowner had this to say in response:

Dear Burger King,

Inspiration for a good cause… great idea.

We love the intention but think our two brands could do something bigger to make a difference.

We commit to raise awareness worldwide, perhaps you’ll join us in a meaningful global effort?

And every day, let’s acknowledge that between us there is simply a friendly business competition and certainly not the unequaled circumstances of the real pain and suffering of war.

We’ll be in touch.

-Steve, McDonald’s CEO

P.S. A simple phone call will do next time.

Note Steve’s (or whoever writes his statements for him) masterful verbal jujitsu! Each sentence is dripping with a ripe mixture of sarcasm and vitriol, like a greasy quarter-pound slap to the face and genitals! In Savate, it is called a ‘Royale wid Cheese!’ You know, because they got the metric system!

Of course, this isn’t the first time McDonald’s has drop kicked everything that made America great with a size-15 red, shiny clown-boot to the head! Let us not forget you, dear Hot Mustard dipping sauce, nectar of the Gods! Ye, who always kept it real, representing all that is good and just in the world…

That is, until Ronald McFucknuts decided to discontinue it in favor that cheep hussy known as the habenero ranch sauce. As if we wouldn’t know the difference?

Fries, McMuffin and Big Mac…all RUINED without that delicious, tangy tan elixir.
That sauce was concentrated childhood nostalgia in tiny plastic peel-top form. I wish I could have stock piled it, but alas – too late, too late :(.

Bring it back, you McBastards, BRING IT BAAAACK!

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

A few years ago, I read a book by Joel Best called, “Damned Lies and Statistics.

The title is based on a phrase popularized by Mark Twain, though it’s origin isn’t firmly established….goes something like this:

“There are three kinds of lies: Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics”

The book began with what Best described as, “The Worst Social Statistic Ever.” The quote was, “Every year since 1950, the number of American children gunned down has doubled.”

When taken literally, that would mean that 35 trillion American children were gunned down between 1950-1995. What the author meant to say was that the total number of child deaths by firearms in 1950 was half what it was in the year 1995.

Surprisingly, the US population grew by some 73% from 1950 to 1995, so it would follow that other counts, such as deaths would also be about double. Point being that statistics should not be accepted blindly. That brings me to a new one I saw today floating around the interwebs:

More Americans were killed by guns since 1968 than on the battlefields of all the wars in American history.

The specific figures are based on estimates from PolitiFact.com:

  • Firearms-related deaths between 1968 and 2015 was about 1,516,863
  • The total number of casualties related to all wars in US history was approximately 1,396,733

I’m not being paid to do this, I don’t have a professional research staff, and my Terminator Robot isn’t programmed to do that for me…yet. So, rather than gather and correlate 47 years-worth of data, I’m just going to pick on 1968’s mortality rates instead.

According to the US Census Bureau, the population that year was approximately ~200,700,000. Referencing the Vital Statistics of the United States 1968 Volume II – Mortality Part A , the total death count was 1,930,082.

That’s over half a million more deaths than all of the American casualties of every US war in American history combined! Impressive, huh?

Of those, 9,425 people reportedly died from “firearms and explosives.” It doesn’t break that figure down to gun-related deaths only, nor does it distinguish between homicide, suicide, war or accidents. That’s accounts for a whole 0.488% of the total death count that year. This is about 1/6th the number of motor-vehicle deaths, which came to 54,862, or about 5.7 times as many deaths by vehicle as there were by firearms and explosives.

The point (if there is one) is this: I can quote unqualified, out-of-context statistics based on incomplete/erroneous “data” to make bogus conclusions too!

In Summary

  • Think for yourself. Don’t rely on eye-grabby statistics
  • Do your own homework and take other facets into consideration
  • Terminator robots aren’t a good source of important information…yet

Meat Puppetry: Photographs

“The last time we [Joe and Jim] were close enough to be photographed together, a gravitational singularity occurred. This resulted in the destruction of a small convenience store and goat farm in eastern Oregon. It’s for the best that we don’t post pictures now. Think of the goats.” – Big Jim, August 24, 2015

Robots

The other night, I was suspected of being a robot, not-so-cleverly disguised as a person while chatting with my new friend on the ‘twit. I assured Ali that I did not consort with the robit kind, nor could my Dyson vacuum with the pet cleaner attachment build a Terminator…yet.

This seemed like a good opportunity to warn Ali of the dangers of PowerPoint, but alas, Ali was unconvinced :(. I tried to call Ed Tufte, but he wasn’t home, so I couldn’t assemble the Psychic Technical-Writer Friends Network… I had to settle for a traditional fact-finding committee.

They couldn’t reach a quorum, and just when I thought all hope was lost, my astrologer told me that my metachlorian count exceeded my cholesterol level, and that I would die of the diabetus within two years. This is good news, because that means I won’t live to see the birth of AI and subsequent robot uprising!

Thank Dog for small favors.