Creating weapons and children:
Some character, it may have been the devil in a Shaw play, once remarked that he had been looking around the world and decided that most of the inventions humans had made could have been made by a dog if the dog were interested in money rather than the kind of thing dogs take an interest in; ah, but when it came to weapons humans had invested their love.

I know far much than I need to know about weapons.  Yet I continue to take an interest.  The Shaw character was right. 

Evenings I occasionally flop down in front of the TV and mosey around the cable channels looking for something to learn.  Frequently weapons are being discussed and analyzed, so my useless knowledge, or at least my exposure, continues to increase.

Several years ago the phrase “assault rifle” became popular.  The modish unit was called an “Uzi.”  It was cheap and was popular among drug runners, who would toss them away so casually they called them Dixie Cups.  There were two other advantages to the Uzi.

It did not kick, at least not much.  The reason was that it was a heavy weapon, as bulky and heavy as a rifle, which fired a pistol round.  I watched one being used on a target, and as far as I could tell it offered no advantage in accuracy or fire power over a pistol.  A man armed with an Uzi would be at a disadvantage against a pistol, which could be brought to bear far faster, and against a rifle, which had much greater range and accuracy.  Its use evidently was against unarmed civilians.

The other advantage touted for the Uzi was that it was immune to jamming even under extreme circumstances.  That may be true, but the one I watched jammed even though it had come in a nice new cardboard box, suggesting it was a new weapon.  It had never been abused.  When taken apart, the weapon was found to contain grit.  Unless the manufacturing was done under very dirty conditions, it had been used in a harsh environment and then been oiled up and sold as new.  All in all it was a great marketing play but not much of a weapon. 

Another problem was that an Uzi had to be stored in one of two ways.  Either the gun was kept cocked and loaded or uncocked and unloaded.  If kept cocked and loaded, the springs in the gun and in the magazine were under tension for the duration of the storage and thus could fatigue.  Otherwise time had to be spent shoving cartridges into the magazine and jerking back the noisy slide.  And don’t forget to take the safety off … mmm … now which was “on” and which was “off?”  A revolver could sit in a safe for years, spring relaxed, ready to deliver its performance at the first squeeze of a trigger utterly silent until the moment of truth.  Or if it needed to be cocked, it was pretty clear what the cocked position was.

I note with satisfaction that the Uzi seems absent from today’s modish guns.

The assault rifle featured nowadays is the AK 47, a Russian designed weapon that is prized for its cheapness of manufacturing and its durability under adverse conditions.  I used to confuse it with the PPSh-41 “burp gun,” also cheap to manufacture and durable, which like the Uzi was a carbine, a submachine gun firing pistol rounds.  The AK 47 round is more serious.  But I watched an AK 47 fired along side a AR 15, the civilian version of the much maligned M 16 standard military rifle, you know, the one with a handle on the top. 

The TV allows as how the AK 47 is “sexy.”  The demonstration pitted a Seal sniper with the AK 47 against a novice with the AR 15 (after it had been sighted in by the sniper.  Coincidentally, he was a cousin of the missionary I told you about 2 days ago.).  There was no contest.  The AK 47 simply could not put a hole in the piece of paper where it was wanted.  The AR 15 could.  I wound up thinking the AR 15 was a lot sexier.

As far as the ability of the AK 47 to stand up to abuse, one must remember that there are two kinds of AK 47.  In one, a crucial part called the “receiver” is stamped out of medal.  In the other, the receiver is machined out of a block of stainless steel. 

The Russians began manufacturing the guns with a stamped receiver.  Then there are at least two different stories.  According to one story they decided to improve the gun by changing to the machined receiver.  In the other story they could not get their weapon stamping machinery to work well enough for production demands. 

But they had a lot of machinists.

If I am ever herded into a crowd where it looks like we are headed toward a concentration camp and somebody shouts, “Is anybody here a machinist?” my hand is going up right away.  I recon I can get the guy on the next drill press to show me what I need to know to make the one hole I will need to make.  It will probably be very repetitious.  Of course I have never touched a real machine tool in my life.  On the other hand, if they call for a welder, I won’t bother to lie about it.  I doubt I could learn enough the first day to pass inspection. 

Anyway, they switched to machined receivers and then back to the stamped sort because it was cheaper.  The stamped receiver can corrode, warp or simply fall apart.  The machined sort is heavy and expensive but really reliable.  The AK 47 is cheap OR durable.

These are not things I never wanted to know. 

On the other hand, there are lots of stories about highly successful people, men mostly.  I admit I don’t have much stomach for a lot of them.  But let us assume that there are a lot of really famous people from the last thousand years of whom it can be said that we are all a lot better off because they were not strangled at birth.  As soon as I think of one, I’ll tell you.

So where did these paragons of social value come from?  What were their parents like?  Their siblings?  Their childhoods? 

Occasionally one reads a perfunctory remark like, “He had psychological problems because of an overbearing father.”  But what of families in which there were a number of likeable and productive children?  What were they like?  What made them click?  Considering the relative importance of the question, late night TV is oddly silent. 

Perhaps if we took the same interest in children as in guns we would know a lot more.  For one thing, before you can have a lot of wonderful children you must have a lot of children.  A glance over this web site will show you how to do that.  As far as how to have productive ones, I could give you personal tales, but that would only give you a very small sample size.

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