Category Archives: Wimpy Corporations

It Starts (or Should Have Done) with a .22

I visit gun shows. Gun store owners groan about this, but I give them enough of my business that they have no reason to. The best practice is to go without any expectations (sounds Buddhist, no?). I never find what I’m looking for, or I find a desired weapon, but it’s price is far above reason or what I can afford. These days, for example, even Mosin Nagants run in the several hundred dollar range–thanks, Mr. President. (Under a hundred is a rational price for that rifle.) But when I plunk down my $5 for a few hours in heaven and just wander the streets of lead and blued steel, something I didn’t expect always pokes its muzzle crown above the others.

Last weekend (2 July 2011), I did my duty as a rebellious colonial and went to the convention center in Springdale to tempt myself into commerce. A friend had to tell me about it (thanks, Duke), since there weren’t the usual billboards up, and I really wasn’t planning to buy anything. There was the usual plethora of overpriced and overhyped whizzbangs (can anyone tell me what the purpose of a Taurus Judge is [and don’t say snakes, ’cause that ain’t it!]?) and reasonably priced, but out of my financial reach beauties. Someday, I’m going to have a flintlock rifle and a Mauser Broomhandle, but not today, alas. Still, as is the way of things, in my sweep through the aisles, a lonesome little belle waited coyly in a rack until I was close enough to see her batting her scope at me.

Oh, dear me, what was this thing of aesthetic pleasure? A Marlin 60W, semiautomatic, fourteen plus one shot (see end note for a tangent), .22 LR rifle with a Tasco 3-7 x 20 scope. $150, and she was mine.

There are two points here that must be explained. I tend to approach things in my own unique, individual, special (and bassackward) manner. My first rifle was an aforementioned Mosin Nagant, and I’ve been working upward from there. My reasoning was that I had no interest in hunting squirrels, so I ought to go for full power. The problem with this is that full power means full recoil, and that means flinch. To this date, I’m not much good at shooting for groups (the goal being to put many rounds through as small a circle as possible from a great distance away). I can hit a two liter soda bottle at a hundred yards when I have time to practice (as long as the bottle sits really still. . .). Well, perhaps I’m just hitting near it and scaring the poor thing into jumping.

I always excused this by saying that I can put a round into the kill zone of an evil Coke or an offensive Dr. Pepper, and that certainly would meet the requirements for minute of deer. But bad guy holding a hostage? Myeh, how likely is that? But none of this felt satisfying, since perfection is the goal, and we all must work ourselves as close to it as we can get.

The other point is that Tasco scopes may be derided as cheap. That I can dismiss easily. Cheap is good enough for me at my current level of expertise. I’ll go for Leupold when I’m good enough to use it. But more than that, a .22 Long Rifle weapon isn’t going to rattle the optics all that much. One characteristic that makes the expensive scopes cost so much is their ability to take abuse from powerful cartridges, but .22 rimfire is a different order of business.

Now that I’ve given the background, let’s talk about why I love this rifle. For one thing, the .22 Long Rifle cartridge has much to recommend it. A box of 550 costs around $15. Compared to fifty rounds of .303 British surplus that go for $30, you can see the advantage. The .22 is also the gentlest round in common use today. It’s quiet, and the recoil is a feathery plink, instead of a punch to the shoulder. This means that shooting it just involves basic technique–breathing, trigger squeeze, sights on target, hold. This is the rifle with which to learn how to be good.

After setting up at the range, I loaded the tubular magazine (no thumb-busting spring-loaded floor plate to push down) and took aim on a bench rest. The first rounds were off, as I expected from an unzeroed scope, so I sighted in and then settled in to see what could happen. Pop. . . pop. . . pop. . . pop. . . pop straight into a group that I could cover with a quarter at twenty-five and fifty yards. In rapid fire, the group opened up a little, but each round was still within an inch or two of my point of aim. Was it the .22 cartridge? The microgroove barrel (sixteen shallow grooves, instead of two to six or so deep ones)? I can’t credit myself for shooting that well.

So much for paper. My next targets were my favorite bottles. Now, as I said, I’m much better with those than with flat bulls eye sheets, but this sweet little Marlin let me shoot better than just the bottle. At fifty yards from offhand (unsupported, without a sling), I was hitting bottle caps!

That whole day, I was giddy. Townsend Whelen once said that only accurate rifles are interesting, and my Marlin 60 is mighty interesting. She was also cheap to buy and is cheap to feed. In that, she sounds like me. If you want to find us, check the local range first.

End Note:

The Marlin company originally made the 60 rifle with a seventeen round tubular magazine (seventeen in the tube and one in the chamber), but the pissant legislature in the People’s Republic of New Jersey decided that semiautomatic weapons that could hold more than fifteen rounds were assault weapons. Uh huh. The Mujahideen and your neighborhood crack dealer both carry .22 rimfire rifles when they want to bust a cap on a squirrel. So Marlin reduced the capacity to fourteen in the tube in the 1980s to comply with the new law.

If I had been a Marlin executive at the time, I’d have looked into just how many rifles we were selling in New Jersey (seriously, could the numbers have been above two digits?) and told the whole state to get down on its belly and beg for forgiveness, something like what Ronnie Barrett did to the People’s Republic of California. But I was just a teenager then, living with anti-gun parents.

I’m Shopping, not Socializing

It’s been a while since my last post, this being summer school season and the time of year in Arkansas when all of us are wrapped in one dense and sodden woolen blanket of heat. But the hiatus is now over.

Today’s rant is on the subject of store clerks. Where do marketing gurus get the idea that I want to be harrassed when I’m shopping? Where do such people come up with the notion that when I actually want information about a product or want to buy it, there are no employees to be found?

Recently, I’ve been looking into buying wood and parts to build a glider for our balcony. This has meant a trip to the local hardware stores, including Home Depot. Any time I go into that store, I get loudly greeted by one clerk after another, no matter how rapidly I’m moving or how much my face says, “Don’t bug me!” And this store is just one example. Fast food joints work the same way. If I get a hankering for a hamburger, I’m assaulted with “Welcome to Braums!”

I realize that these companies want to present a friendly front, but I also know that it’s just a façade. It is the job of any business to separate me from my money. If I’ve walked into the store, I obviously know what store it is, and I’m probably interested in whatever product is for sale there. I don’t want to be tacked upon entering. This false warmth and enthusiasm just makes me want to turn around and leave.

On the other hand, when I’m looking over a product and have a question or when I’m trying to find a particular item that isn’t stocked in a logical manner, suddenly no employee appears to be working. When one does show up, that person knows nothing. I’m not talking here about technical matters, usually. Simple questions are what I mean here. “Does this ice cream maker come in red?” “Where is the leather cleaner?” “Is this movie available in widescreen?”

I do understand why the retail situation is this way. Some focus group told a marketer that we customers like friendliness. That meant that we want human interaction, not insincerity, but no marketer can understand that. Clueless employees are a consequence of hiring people at minimum wage with no benefits who will never have the opportunity to be rewarded for good work. All of this is the result of ballooning corporations that have left humanity behind.

By contrast, consider how a business ought to be run. When I lived in Nashville, TN, I made several purchases at the Eastside Gun Shop, owned and run by Bill Bernstein. He and I talked for a good while each time I went in, since he had gone through a similar course of study in college to mine, and we had an interest in guns in common, naturally. Each time after the first, he remembered me–what I liked, what I was interested in, and yes, what I was likely to buy. He knew what he was selling. He spoke intelligently about each item on offer, both on the technical details and on what would be a good fit for me.

As I said above, I do recognize that a business exists to make money. From my perspective, though, a business will succeed at this when it restrains its desparation for sales and when it demonstrates some expertise on its products. Of course, those are characteristics of small business, something that has lately been out of style. I do my part by shopping at the little establishments in my area, but my choices for this get less and less as time goes by.

I fear that we’ll be left with Walmart and the Internet in but a few years. May the gods save us from our own foolishness.


MGM is producing a remake of the 1984 film, Red Dawn.  The original is a classic, in the same way that The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai is:  interesting story with cheap effects and bad acting.  It starred Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen, if that tells you anything.  That being the case, the idea of the story was a good warning.  It has illegal immigrants crossing the southern border, pretending to be migrant workers, with the purpose of disrupting lines of communication with the Soviets begin the invasion.  As speculation about what could happen, it worked.

So much for the original.  As has been noted many times, film studios these days are incapable of making anything new, Hollywood having adopted the principle of recycling.  Sometimes, the result is worthy or good fun–True Grit or The A-Team, for example.  But usually, we get abominations like 2009’s Star Trek.

Since the film has yet to be released, I haven’t seen it.  According to the news this morning (17 March 2011), MGM is worried that since the new version had the Chinese as the invading power, China might get miffed and not let MGM play in its economy.  The studio is using an airbrush to change national symbols to those of North Korea.  It seems that the DPRK doesn’t have enough movie theaters to warrant MGM’s concern.

What an interesting world.  McDonalds is selling hamburgers in the former Soviet Union, and the Chinese get editorial power on our movies.  My response to all of this is simple: