Archive for March 2009

DIY Thermite

I finally picked up the Big Bang Pack at Restricted Knowledge after seeing the Exploding Targets episode of Wreckreation Nation (which showed a sniper school tonight – making a perfect combo if you ask me). I love esoteric knowledge; there’s something cool about learning how to make thermite. I suppose I’ll never have the chance to destroy a T-800 series but you never know.

And the Napalm how-to could come in handy during the Zombie Apocalypse.

Spring Peepers Are Peeping

The Family took a drive through the Brandywine Valley to blow off some steam; the Kid was brooding about things a 12 year old broods about; I was stressed out over taxes and the Wife was bummed about her friend and her dead husband.

At such times a drive in “the country” tends to soothe the soul, but we got an extra comfort in the form of tens of thousands of 3/4 to 1” frogs known locally as “Peepers.” Peepers are like cherry blossoms in Delaware; they are only around for a few days so when you find them they are quite a treat. Wikipedia notes:

Spring peepers breed in southern areas from October to March, depending on the local temperature. In northern areas, they breed from March to June when the warm rain starts. P. crucifer typically lay around 900 eggs per clutch, but up to 1000 is possible. In very cold weather, they hibernate under logs and loose bark. Spring peepers are nocturnal frogs, and they are mostly heard but not seen. They are especially easy to hear due to their extremely loud mating call which gives them the name “peeper”, but it is often hard to pinpoint the source of the sound, especially when many are peeping at once.

After finding a particular loud crop we pulled off the road and searched the flooded marsh to see if we could find the little critters. The noise was so loud it was like someone was blowing a whistle in your ears – it rattled your ear drums. We searched but didn’t find them – although we did find nice crops of slimy frog eggs.

We then hopped back into the car and drove around listening for peepers until the sun went down. Those 3/4 to 1” frogs sure improved our mood.

Another Brilliant Mind Lost to Addiction

A friend of the Wife died on Friday. He was a young doctor with a sharp mind, handsome and athletic, married to another doctor with a child on the way. During his residency he had become hooked on drugs but over the past year had gotten clean with the help of his wife and his boss. On Friday he appeared to be sick but nothing out of the ordinary. His wife went to work and when she came home nine hours later she found him dead in their home.

Had he relapsed? Tests will determine that. In all likelihood what killed him can be traced back to his addiction whether he had relapsed or not. Perhaps it was a blood vessel in his brain that had thinned prematurely over the course of his drug-taking; or perhaps his immune system had been so weakened from addiction that he wasn’t able to fight off an infection.

I met him a couple of times over the years. I didn’t know him well, but his death has saddened me regardless. All of the effort  put into raising him, the hard work of high school, college and medical school. The investment he had put into himself as well as the investments of his family and most especially by his wife. All wasted.

Some deaths are merciful; others justifiable, but his death? A complete and utter waste.

The Imaginary Leader

Obama is clearly enjoying himself as president. He’s already had one vacation and last week hit the Tonight Show to gab with Jay Leno. Earlier this week in a 60 Minutes interview Steve Kroft asked him if he was punch drunk.

“You’re sitting here. And you’re laughing. You are laughing about some of these problems,” Kroft told the president. “Are people going to look at this and say, ‘I mean, he’s sitting there just making jokes about money?’ How do you deal with—I mean: explain … Are you punch-drunk?”

The man is clearly enjoying the attainment of his lifelong goal. Meanwhile the ship of state drifts onward, leaderless.

Obama’s supporters talk about his vaunted leadership skills, but sixty plus days in to his presidency we have yet to see it. The biggest piece of legislation during his term, the Stimulus bill, was crafted by Democrats in Congress. They are also responsible for Obama’s budget.  The various bailouts were crafted by Tim Geithner’s Treasury working closely with Larry Summers and Congressional Democrats. His Foreign Policy is run by the State Department.

Personally I don’t believe his leadership skills exist. I think that Obama is more of a figment of the imagination than a real man. People believe that he is a leader, so they follow him. They believe he is a talented speaker but their imaginations edit out the teleprompters.While Democrats made much of George W. Bush’s lack of experience prior to becoming president, at least Bush governed a state – one of the largest and more complex ones in the country. Obama lacks executive experience, so it’s no surprise that he doesn’t know how to lead.

Throughout his career he has been pulled up the ladder of power by men (and at the very genesis of his career, a woman) more powerful than himself and placed on higher rungs, propelled by more by the ambition of others than his own.  Now that he has achieved the pinnacle of power, there is no where left to go – no one above him to pull him any higher. Having fallen upward, Obama does not know how to govern – which is why he has resorted in recent weeks to campaign mode – bashing the Republicans and traveling to an Indiana factory to push the Stimulus plan.

Even the New York Times, which acted as his unofficial press department during the 2008 campaign, is expressing worry over the failure of their Chosen One to lead. Krugman doesn’t like his economic policies; Dowd doesn’t like the way Michelle Obama has been sidelined or the playboy persona the President is projecting; Rich frets over the growing taxpayer revolt which his newspaper refuses to discuss; and Tom Friedman whines about Obama’s failure to speak frankly to the American people about the economic situation. The paper itself is horrified that Obama hasn’t freed the remaining terrorists at Guantanamo and issued them suicide bomb vests with maps to the New York City subway system in the breast pocket.

Canadian columnist David Warren, writing for the Ottawa Citizen, blames Obama’s leadership failure on his narrow intellect.

All his life, from childhood through university through “community organizing” and Chicago wardheel politics, through Sunday mornings listening to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, to the left side of Democrat caucuses in Springfield and Washington, he has been surrounded almost exclusively by extremely liberal people, and moreover, by people who are quick and clever but intellectually narrow.

He is a free soul, but he is also the product of environments in which even moderately conservative ideas are never considered; but where people on the further reaches of the left are automatically welcomed as “avant-garde.” His whole idea of where the middle might be, is well to the left of where the average American might think it is. To a man like Obama, as he has let slip on too many occasions when away from his teleprompter, “Middle America” is not something to be compromised with, but rather, something that must be manipulated, because it is stupid. And the proof that it can be manipulated, is that he is the president today.


For the past year reality has been pushed aside for the fantasy that is President Obama. A leader without any leadership qualities of his own; a talented speaker who cannot utter a word without reading it; a transformational figure to all but those who refuse to accept the fantasy.

The Council Has Spoken – March 27, 2009

Congratulations to this week’s winners.

Council: The Provocateur - My Grandfather, the 14th Amendment, and the AIG Bonuses

Noncouncil: Big Lizards - The Great Dictator

Complete voting here.

Washington Post Hates Jews

In the 1950’s William F. Buckley lifted conservativism out of the muck by driving out the John Birchers and racists, forming a modern political movement that changed America a generation later. Today liberalism continues its swift descent into the same sewer conservativism left, supporting religious extremism and spouting neo-nazi rubbish. There is no better example of this than the following cartoon.

This cartoon did not appear in a Middle Eastern paper, one that regularly demonizes the Jews for all the world’s problems. No it appeared in an American paper that refused to display the Mohammed cartoons for fear of getting a suicide bomber in the editorial office: the Washington Post.

As Roger Simon notes, “Oliphant – whose work I usually find humdrum in the extreme – has done us a favor. Deliberately or not, he has dropped the oldest of phony Leftist pretenses – that anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are not the same.” That’s something I’ve noticed recently; increasingly the Left is dropping the pretence no doubt due to the fact that the pretence is a sham. Hating Israel is simply the politically correct and modern way to hate Jews. After all anti-semitism is probably the oldest existing prejudice and hatred, and being called an anti-semite just makes one seem old-fashioned.

It fascinates me how the Left, which claims to champion feminism, supports a doctrine where women are second class citizens. The Left claims to uphold gay rights, but supports regimes and groups in the Middle East where homosexuals are stoned to death. Yet I – who support these very rights – am dismissed as a “conservative” and called thug.

The Left is sliding into irrelevance the same way conservativism did in the 1930’s. Until it’s own version of Buckley comes along and cleans it up, the Left is looking mighty pathetic.

In the meantime liberal outlets like the Washington Post will slowly resemble the Arab media. How far is the cartoon below from the one above?

UPDATE: Does anyone else find it odd that the Arab media enjoys showing Jews as modern day Nazis considering that the Arabs were Nazi allies during World War 2? This group appreciates the irony.

UPDATE: Barry Rubin weighs in.

The Council Has Spoken March 20, 2009

Congratulations to this week’s winners:

Council: Joshuapundit - What Netanyahu Should Say About Peace To The Arab World

Noncouncil: Pajamas Media - Welcome to Francis Ford Coppola’s White House

Full voting here.

Congressman Lives in MD – Represents California

Congressman Pete Stark (D) (MD/CA)

Lord, do they become stupid or are they just born that way?

Bloomberg reports:

A senior member of the U.S. House’s tax-writing Ways and Means Committee from California has been taking advantage of a tax break for a home in Maryland that he claims as his principal residence.

Representative Pete Stark, the second-ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means panel, in 2007 and 2008 saved a total of $3,853 in state and Anne Arundel County taxes on a Maryland waterfront home that he claims as his primary residence, according to Maryland tax disclosures.


So if his primary residence is Maryland, how can he represent the California 13th district – 25 miles southeast of San Francisco? He’s using his wife’s parents’ address who live there. This is completely legal although I’d argue that it defies the spirit of the Constitution.
To serve in the House, the U.S. Constitution says that candidates must be U.S. citizens for at least seven years, an ‘‘inhabitant’’ of the state in which they seek election and 25 years old when their first term would begin. California law says the residence for its House members is determined by where they are registered to vote, which is ‘‘conclusively presumed’’ to be their domicile.

Stark is indeed registered to vote in California – but the 77 year old does not live with his wife’s parents – who are probably younger than he is. A quick Google determined that his wife, Deborah Roderick Stark, graduated high school in 1985, making her 42 years old – 35 years Congressman Stark’s junior. Here’s the screenshot of the website in case the site has been altered. I’m supportive of June-December romances, but using his wife’s parents as a voting address strikes me as pretty weasely for a Democratic pol in the Hope and Change Era.

So to keep the tax break why doesn’t Stark come clean and change his voting address to his 6.35 acre estate on the Chesapeake? Because that would put him on  House Majority Leader’s Steny Hoyer’s turf- assuming that Hoyer in fact lives in his district and isn’t using his wife’s parents’ address too. Hoyer is one of the most powerful Democrats in DC; Stark wouldn’t have a chance if he had to face Hoyer in a primary. It would make more sense for Stark to move his family to San Lorenzo California. It too is on a bay – San Francisco Bay. Granted I doubt that even a wealthy man like Stark could afford 6 acres there but the US Constitution can be a bitch sometimes.

UPDATE: It appears that this story has legs.
The Mercury News reports:

“My message to Pete Stark,” said Ron Nehring, chairman of the California Republican Party, “is that California is a wonderful place to visit — and it’s an even better place to live. He should try doing that.

“It’s an outrage,” Nehring added, “for someone to purport to represent California but take a tax deduction claiming that they don’t live in California.”


The San Francisco Chronicle notes:
The issue for voters in Stark’s 13th Congressional District is whether he remains in sufficient touch with their communities and concerns when he considers his “home” to be 3,000 miles away.

There is an upside to being represented by the gentleman from Maryland. The next time Stark unleashes one of his notorious tirades (such as suggesting that troops were being sent to Iraq to “get their heads blown off for the president’s amusement,” as he did in 2007) or ends up on Esquire Magazine’s list of 10 worst legislators on Capitol Hill (as he did in 1988) ... residents in Alameda, Castro Valley and other parts of the East Bay district can blame their erstwhile homeboy’s bad manners on his East Coast address.


One of the 10 Worst Legislators of 1988?  He won again in 2008! One can almost feel sorry for Chesapeake Pete after Esquire writes “Stark gives bumbling, dyspeptic old fools who say stupid things a bad name.” Ooh snap! Well  I suppose he can take solace in the bosom of his wife who entered kindergarten the year Stark entered Congress.

Throwing Dodd Under the Bus

Is Obama throwing Sen. Chris Dodd under the bus over the AIG bonus fiasco? It sure appears that way. Dodd admitted to CNN that he dropped an amendment to the Stimulus bill last month that would have banned such bonuses:

“I agreed reluctantly,” Dodd said. “I was changing the amendment because others were insistent.”

Dodd won’t say who those others are – yet. But I suspect that he soon will because the Obama administration seems much more willing to let Dodd take the fall over “TurboTax Tim” Geithner.

For Obama it’s a no brainer: Dodd is already damaged goods thanks to his “Friend of Angelo” status and his cozy Irish cottage deal. Geithner was one of Obama’s first appointments. Dodd fails and the Democrat majority in the senate drops to 58. Geithner fails and Obama’s leadership takes a hit.

Obama is ruthless. He will happily sacrifice any and all to protect himself. Right now Dodd is damaged goods and the wheels are upon him. Should things continue however, Geithner will be next.

The Great Academic Swindle

I graduated from college with a degree in political science. I never regretted that degree because I got it from a top-notch state school and left with only $12k in debt that I paid off in three years. But even though I am an avid student of art, history, economics, politics and the sciences, I will never step foot in academia again. Why? Because with few exceptions higher education is a waste of money.

This is an argument that I first ran up against many years ago while running the ITPAA. A common complaint made by those supportive of importing skilled labor – people like congressman David Dreier (R-CA), former New York senator Hillary Clinton, and Bill Gates – was that there weren’t enough highly educated workers in the American workforce. Their solution? Import skilled workers and fix America’s education system by throwing large gobs of money at it.

But as someone with 12 years of experience in the information technology field, what I saw were highly educated Americans being replaced by highly educated but lower paid foreigners.  This LA Times article from 2006 notes the problems faced by educated Americans in the increasingly globalized labor market.

Most studies suggest that beyond the manufacturing sector, the “offshoring” of jobs has been comparatively modest. But some analysts say the ground has been laid for a substantial pickup. In a recent paper, Blinder offered a rough estimate that suggested that as many as 42 million jobs, or nearly one-third of the nation’s total, were susceptible to offshoring.

These analysts warn that more education alone will do little to stop the flow of jobs to other countries.

“What’s missing here from both parties is a global economic strategy and a worker adjustment strategy,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, a scholar at the National Center on Education and the Economy who was appointed to major commissions by Presidents Reagan and Clinton.

“When they don’t know what else to do,” he remarked, “there’s a tendency among politicians to stand up and say ‘education.’ “


As Carnevale noted, politicians love to cite their commitment to education and offer their program to fix it. Bush promised to expand Pell Grants for college students. As well as expanding Pell Grants further than Bush,  Barak Obama promises to “make college affordable to all Americans.”  In 1997 President Clinton promised to “open the doors of college to all who work hard and make the grade.” Education has become some magical fairy dust for politicians to sprinkle over the electorate to make them prosperous.

Unfortunately it hasn’t worked. The education has not provided everyone with the high paying jobs promised by the pols, and worse it has left them with mountains of debt.

How big are those mountains? Figures found vary from as little as $10,000 to $26,000 with the average being somewhere between $19,000-$21,000. A fiscally sound rule of thumb is for a new graduate entering the workforce to avoid paying more than 10% of his or her monthly gross income to student loan repayments. A loan of $20,000 at 6.8% for 1o years results in a payment of $230/month. To comfortably support this debt load requires a starting salary of $27,600. The National Association of Colleges and Employers publishes an annual survey of starting salaries for college grads, and the lowly Public Relations major wins the honor of  lowest starting salary in June 2008 at $30,667 – beating out Journalists ($32,250) and Liberal Arts majors ($33,258). Granted college graduates expect to do earn more as they gain experience in their chosen fields, but they also tend to buy cars, homes and have children, increasing their financial responsibilities.

A recent article in Forbes article (hattip: Half Sigma) referred to the education as economic solution panacea as the “Great College Hoax” and noted:

For an indication of how out of touch the degree factories are with economic reality there’s no need to pick on UCLA’s course in queer musicology or Edith Cowan University’s degree in “surf science.” U.S. universities also minted 37,000 history degrees in 2006, including 852 Ph.D.s. That for a field with fewer than 500 job openings and average pay of $48,500. Plumbers, by contrast, enjoyed 16,000 new jobs that year and earned only $6,000 less than historians, census figures show.

The problem is that college tuition has been fueled by cheap student loans. As long as students could finance their education, and the government backed their loans with federal funds, banks were willing to loan them the funds needed. Consequently colleges and universities felt no pressure to lower their fees – resulting in tuition increases that outpace inflation. This lead to students needing even more loans and finishing their schooling deeper in debt – resulting in an  ”Education Bubble”.

But the bad economy has exposed the truth about these loans. The tight job market is making it difficult for students to land the jobs with salaries required to keep up their student loan payments. With many former students now underemployed or unemployed, default rates are expected to rise. But thanks to changes made to the bankruptcy laws in 2005 bought and paid for by lending institutions, it’s almost impossible for student loans to be completely discharged during bankruptcy. Newly minted grads are faced with the double whammy of huge mountains of debt coupled with the worst job market in over a generation.

During the Education Bubble student loans became a substitute for parental contribution since most parents were indebted themselves. As loans dry up the bubble will deflate since students will not be able to afford the rising cost of tuition.

More students will be forced to make adult choices earlier than they would have during the inflation period of the bubble. Some may avoid a four year college altogether and choose either a community college, a trade, or the military. Others will pay closer attention to the value of their education, avoiding expensive private schools in exchange for public schools, or pursuing degrees that have been proven more lucrative after graduation.

In the end the price of education will fall as demand dries up. Schools will have to make decisions and cutbacks to adjust to a reality where students focus more on the value of their educations. Only then will students receive an education that prepares them for the “real world.”

AIG Does What It’s Supposed To – Analysts Freak

AIG is in the business of insuring firms against financial losses. Before the recession this worked quite well and the firm pretty much printed money. Since the recession began however AIG has been hit by too many claims. It turns out that AIG didn’t gauge risk properly, charging firms way too little during the boom to stay solvent during the bust. This has caused AIG to bleed cash.

Many of these firms that AIG wrote policies for are headquartered abroad. This too is no surprise since the bulk of AIG’s business comes from overseas. Now that the recession has hit, AIG has been paying claims to these foreign-based firms.

Last year American treasury officials and Congress decided that AIG was too important to fail, so they propped it up.  The US government has funneled hundreds of billions of dollars into AIG, and AIG paid this money out to foreign firms.

This has caused some analysts to freak out.

The disclosure of US taxpayer money going to foreign banks rankled some analysts. “These revelations raise serious questions about the extent to which U.S. taxpayers are being asked to bail out foreign banks,” said James Rickards, the Senior Managing Director for Market Intelligence at Omnis, an applied research organization. “Why were French and German authorities not asked to pick up the tab for their portion of potential AIG losses?”

I don’t know what scares me more: the fact that AIG has turned into a rat hole or the fact that a Senior Managing Director for Market Intelligence at an applied research firm is shocked.

The Council Has Spoken March 13, 2009

Congratulations to this week’s winners:

Council: The Provocateur - The Financial Crisis White Paper

Noncouncil: This ongoing war - “I was born into a Bedouin tribe…”

Full voting here.

Government Stimulus Used by Nigerian Scammers

I just got this in the mail…

NOTIFICATION OF ATM CARD ACCREDITATION

This is to officially inform you that an Inter-Switch ATM-Card Valued at
$6.8 million dollars only has been accredited in your favor by the Federal
Government. Your Personal Identification Number is ATM-8222.The ATM Card
has a daily withdrawal limit of $1,500.00 USD Per Day. You are advised to
contact Mrs Linda Hill for claim processing.
(mrslinda.hill20006@yahoo.com.hk)

This is to ensure that you receive your ATM-CARD grant Award on time to
avoid delay.

Please provide the following details for processing:

  • Full Name:
  • Delivery Address:
  • Sex:
  • Age:
  • Occupation:
  • Phone Number:
  • Country of Residence:
    Please note that you are to pay the sum of $50 for delivery of the card via
    FedEx
    after verifying the account, Please note that the payment is very
    compulsory
    otherwise don’t reply
    and there is no deduction from the ATM CARD because it is sealed with a
    hardware government policy and nobody can access it accepts you

We look forward to receiving the information necessary to complete the
process so the prize can be sent to you.

Regards,
Senator David Mark.
Tel: + 234-806-468-xxxx
Chairman, Committee on ATM-CARD Payment

Simply amazing…

The Failure of Non-violence in Tibet

Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Chinese clampdown in Tibet that drove the Dalai Lama into exile. Since that time the Dalai Lama has lived  in India and advocated a policy of non-violent resistance by the Tibetans towards the Chinese occupation. Speaking in Japan last November he admitted that this policy had failed. “Our approach never affects the inside situation… Things are not going well.”

Since China invaded Tibet in 1951 1.2 million Tibetans have died as a direct result of the occupation according to the government in exile headed by the Dalai Lama. During this time the Dalai Lama has never demanded Tibetans take up arms against the Chinese. This has made the Dalai Lama a celebrity but has done absolutely nothing to loosen Beijing’s grip on Tibet.

Non-violent resistance has worked in some cases. Most famously Mahatma Gandhi’s campaigns for Indian independence were successful, although anarchist Peter Gelderloos argued that history has elevated Gandhi’s role at the expense of those who advocated guerrilla warfare such as Subhas Chandra Bose. Similarly Martin Luther King’s non-violent actions pushed forward the Civil Rights agenda in the US - although Malcolm X and the Black Panthers have not received much credit. Most recently Nelson Mandela triumphed in South Africa, although his party the ANC was at times throughout its history a violent organization (Mandela himself advocated violence early in his career and only repudiated it while later incarcerated.)

These successes and the failures of non-violence in Tibet suggest the following limits to nonviolence.

1. The oppressed group must outnumber the oppressor and continue to do so throughout the struggle.
In India the British were a tiny minority who couldn’t hope to slaughter enough Indians before losing their grip on the subcontinent. This was also the situation in South Africa.

However Tibet is being colonized by Han Chinese in an effort to populate the country with a majority of ethnic Chinese, making Tibetans a minority of 6 million in their own country. The longer these immigrants remain in Tibet, the more “Chinese” Tibet will become.

2. The Oppressing Government must be subject to the opinion of its citizenry.
In essence, the oppressor “must have a conscience.” Prior to India’s independence, British public opinion gradually became sympathetic towards the Indian independence movement. After World War 2 this trend accelerated from the exhaustion of the expense and effort required in maintaining its empire. This strong support by the British public constrained the actions of the British government even more than the empty coffers in Parliament.

In China the government controls the press and determines the limits of opinion its citizenry can express. It is not subject to public opinion  except in extreme cases of national emergencies such as natural disasters. The average Chinese does not support Tibetan independence and even if he did there is no way for him to influence government policies towards the Himalayan kingdom.

3. The Oppressing Government must view compromise as the lesser of evils.
It must be afraid of something. In the case of Great Britain, the British were well aware of the slaughters of English citizens on the Subcontinent during the various mutinies and rebellions that occurred in the 19th century. The white South African government under Pik Botha viewed the ANC under Mandela’s firm grip as a preferred negotiating partner compared to other, more radical groups.

In the case of Tibet China fears nothing or no one. The cause of Tibet has been relegated to a bumper sticker slogan among its trading partners, and efforts to organize boycotts against Chinese goods over its policies in Tibet have failed. In Tibet itself there has been very limited violence, so there has been no pain that would force Beijing to consider the limited autonomy advocated by the Dalai Lama.

All three of these elements must exist in order for a non-violent campaign to be successful. The Tibetan independence movement has none of these. This is why the Dalai Lama has failed to free his people in Tibet, and why Tibetan independence will be doomed unless a significant change in tactics and philosophy occurs by its proponents.

Guns and Explosives

I am a kid at heart – so when I watched Wreckreation Nation on the Discovery Channel and saw people shooting everyday objects with high-powered rifles and making them explode, the years peeled away. Of course I didn’t have a wife when I was a kid but she didn’t seem surprised when I told her that I had found a new hobby once we move. She didn’t even seem to mind.

I am not the only one who has been bitten by this unique bug. YouTube is full of videos of people blowing up stuff with guns. For example here’s a guy who blew up his Macintosh. It reminds me of this scene from Office Space.

Office Space Guys Get Medieval On a Printer
Source: Josh Smith

Just imagine what those boys could have done with a few pounds of tannerite and an AK-47. BTW this movie has gradually become one of my all-time favorites, and this scene in particular stands out. I’ve been using PCs for 20 years and I still run into printer problems. My current fave at the office: people who send legal jobs to printers that don’t have legal loaded – and the printer is too dumb to skip those jobs and allow letter-sized jobs pass. That raw hatred they have for their printer? Yeah, I feel it. But I digress.

There are several cool things about the explosive (tannerite) used in the hobby of explosive target shooting.First, the explosive used is completely legal. I’m simply too old to do dumb illegal stuff anymore. I’ll leave that to the Kid. Second the explosive is a mixture of two common inert ingredients that once mixed must be hit by a high velocity round traveling at least 2,000 fps. You can even bang the stuff with a hammer or light it on fire and it won’t explode. That’s a plus because I like being old and would prefer to get even older. I’m way too fat and old to have lived fast, died young and left a good looking corpse. Third the stuff is cheap. Target shooting is already expensive enough so the last thing I need is to make it even more expensive. Finally it gives me an excuse to get an assault rifle. I like the looks of the AK, but I like the feel of the AR-15 much better.