An Unique Use For Camouflage

I will readily admit to being intrigued by the various sorts of camouflage whether it is the newest variant being considered by the US military or the dazzle paint schemes used on naval ships during WWI and early WWII. Thanks to TheWorld.Org’s GeoQuiz I found another use:  preventing shark attacks on surfers and divers.

A collaborative effort of Shark Attack Mitigation Systems and the Oceans Institute of the University of Western Australia seeks to reduce the number of shark attacks on swimmers, surfers, and divers. Western Australia ranks first in the world in the number of unprovoked great white shark attacks. Researchers found that while sharks use a number of senses to detect their prey, the sense of vision is the critical sense in the final stages of an attack.

The Oceans Institute team headed by Professor Shaun Collin and Professor Nathan Hart has been studying shark vision for a number of years and is considered the world leading authority in the field. The team has made a number of significant scientific discoveries relating to shark sensory systems – including the fact that sharks see in black and white.

Although sharks use a number of senses to locate prey, it is known that vision is the crucial sense in the final stage of an attack. By disrupting a shark’s visual perception, an attack can either be diverted altogether or at least delayed to allow time to exit the water.

Using this research, they developed two types of camouflage. The first, SAMS Cryptic(TM) technology, is used to make it difficult for the shark to actually see the swimmer or diver in the water. The goal is to make it difficult for the shark to actually see the swimmer. It uses disruptive patterns and coloration to allow the diver or swimmer to blend in with their background. This has been applied to the wetsuits shown below.

SAMS Cryptic(TM)

 The second type of camouflage is called SAMS Warning(TM) technology. This camouflage seeks to make the shark perceive the wearer as either a danger or unpalatable.

Scientists note the distinctive vivid coloration of many fish species, including the striped pilotfish which spends it’s life living alongside predatory sharks.

The SAMS Warning™ pattern is designed to overtly present the wearer as unlike any shark prey, or even as an unpalatable or dangerous food option. At the very least this will provide the user with increased protection, but it could also provide the time needed to evacuate the area if a shark is in range.

 This zebra-like pattern has been applied to both surfer’s wetsuits and to hard objects such as surfboards, kayaks, and dive tanks.

SAMS Warning(TM)
SAMS Warning(TM) decals

As you would expect, it took a lot of testing to develop these patterns. The researchers tested various patterns extensively off the coast of Western Australia to come up these patterns. They do warn that they can’t guarantee that they will be 100% effective against shark attacks as they were developed in clear water and good light. Murky waters and other variables could reduce their effectiveness.

Camouflage – it’s not just for the tree stand and battlefield anymore.

Times Editorial Is Laughably Inaccurate

The editorial board of the New York Times wouldn’t know the difference between actual grass roots efforts and astroturfing if it bit them on their privileged asses. They show their ignorance in an unsigned editorial about the Colorado recall elections titled, “The Gun Lobby Takes Vengeful Aim.”

The ink was barely dry, however, before the National Rifle Association was vindictively pressing for recall votes against two supporters of the stronger law, the State Senate president, John Morse, of Colorado Springs, and State Senator Angela Giron of Pueblo.

The recall vote, set for Sept. 10, could hardly be more important as a barometer of whether the public, which repeatedly registers support for tougher gun controls in surveys, will show up at the ballot to defend politicians who bucked the gun lobby.

If by gun lobby the New York Times means gun owning constituents, then they might be correct. However, this is not what they mean and we all know it. Unlike the gun controls measures which were written and lobbied for by Mayor Michael Bloomberg with the threat of money to primary opponents of any Democrat who didn’t support them, the recall efforts have been actual grassroots efforts led by Coloradans.

The Basic Freedom Defense Fund was set up in February of this year to fight the gun control measures being financed by Bloomberg. After those measures were rammed through by Democrats, the Fund decided to start recall efforts against four Democrats. While the Times only mentions Morse and Giron, the recall effort also targeted State Sen. Mike McLachlan (D-Durango) and State Sen. Evie Hudak (D-Westminister). They were unsuccessful in getting enough signatures in the time allotted to force the recall of McLachlan and Hudak.

These politicians were targeted for two basic reasons. First, they were considered vulnerable due to close past elections. Second, they had ignored their constituents. Chris Wiggins of Shooter Ready Radio who lives in Pueblo told me over 1,000 constituents had turned up for a townhall meeting regarding gun control with State Sen. Angela Giron. Of these, less than two dozen spoke in support of gun control while the rest were adamantly opposed to the proposed measures which Giron ultimately supported.

Senate President John Morse (D-Colorado Springs) you may remember famously told his Democrat colleagues in the State Senate to ignore all the phone calls, emails, and letters from constituents and to vote for the gun control measures. This is the same Morse that the Times editorial calls “a respected Second Amendment proponent” and who states “Recalls are for unethical behavior, and not disagreements.” I would agree with Morse but would go on to say that his behavior has been unethical and that a recall for him is right and proper.

The Times editorial concludes by saying this is an opportunity to rebuff the NRA and the gun industry.

For all the message of risk for politicians embodied in the vengeful recall attempt, there is a parallel opportunity for the public to rebuff the gun industry. But enough voters must show up in defense of two lawmakers who conscientiously stood for public safety.

The gun lobby’s defeat in Colorado would send a stirring message to statehouses across the nation that the public must not be denied in demanding better gun safety.

What they really mean is that the gun owning peons in Colorado should sit down, shut up, and kow-tow to their “betters” who know whats best for them. I hate to tell the Times editorial board this but we fought a revolution over 200 years ago over similar attitudes. The rabble won against the world’s greatest army then and the rabble (aka the grassroots) will win again against Mayor Bloomberg and his bought and paid for minions in Colorado.

FN-FALs In The Libyan Civil War

I came across a study this week from the Small Arms Study on the firearms used in the Libyan Civil War that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi. The Small Arms Study is an independent research project located at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. Their research focus is on the spread of small arms and light weapons which they consider a threat to “human security”. While generally what we would consider a gun control organization, their research is leagues ahead of anything that might come out the gun prohibitionists such as the Violence Policy Center.

This study found that the most common rifle seen on the battlefields of Libya after the ubiquitous AK was the FN-FAL.

After Kalashnikov-pattern rifles, Fusil Automatique Léger (FAL) rifles were among the most frequently sighted
firearms during the 2011 armed conflict in Libya. A number of FAL rifles used during the conflict were subsequently recirculated throughout the broader sub-region. Indeed, between 2011 and 2013 FAL rifles
reportedly smuggled from Libya were seized or documented in several countries, including Algeria, Lebanon,
Niger, Syria, and Tunisia.

Although factory markings, serial numbers, and technical characteristics do not provide conclusive proof of the
age or end users of Belgian FAL rifles used in the Libyan conflict, they do allow useful inferences to be drawn. This report discusses the basis of such inferences and offers guidance on data gathering with a view to advancing our general knowledge of the use and circulation of Belgian FAL rifles and encouraging relevant authorities to step up tracing efforts.

Using a desk chair and FN-FAL against jet fighter in Libya – from The Atlantic

The report examined the factory markings on the FALs found in Libya to determine origin and age. They concluded that most of the FALs found were made after 1971 because FN Herstal had changed from “Fabrique Nationale d’Armes de
Guerre Herstal Belgique to Fabrique Nationale Herstal Belgique or, alternatively, Fabrique Nationale Herstal
Belgium” in late 1971.

FN Herstal exported a number of FN-FALs to Libya from 1969 through 1988.

Evidence suggests that most of the FAL rifles used in Libya in the 2011 conflict were FALs of Belgian production
(FN FALs). Belgian records document authorized exports of 46,260 FN FAL rifles to Libya from
1969 to 1988, though the actual number of rifles exported may be lower. In addition to direct sales from Belgium, re-exports of FN FALs from other countries to Libya may have occurred before or during the 2011 conflict. Illicit sales of FALs to actors in Libya through underground arms merchants may also account for a portion of the rifles used during the 2011 conflict.

The study goes into extensive detail about serial numbers and receiver variations seen in FN-FALs. While some might find this boring, fans of the FN-FAL like myself  will find it quite interesting. I’d recommend downloading and reading this short (8-page) study.

Home Security

Former Navy SEAL Dom Raso is one of the three new younger commentators for the NRA. In his latest, he takes on the attempts to limit our right to defend our homes, our families, and ourselves.

He makes an excellent point when he says, “For many people, home security isn’t worth talking about.” Too many people are both unprepared and unaware. They live in a world of denial that violent crime can happen anywhere and to anyone. 

Alabama Summers And Snowballs

Now that the Zimmerman trial is over, gun prohibitionists and their political allies have declared a jihad on Stand Your Ground laws. Many of the attempts to repeal the protection that these laws give to persons exercising their right to self-defense will come in the state legislatures.

One of the latest attempts to repeal these laws is coming from the state of Alabama where certain Democrats vow to repeal that state’s Stand Your Ground law.

A Democratic lawmaker said Tuesday there would be an effort to repeal Alabama’s version of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law in the next legislative session, but acknowledged it could be a difficult fight.

“We know it will not just be uphill, but up mountain,” said Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma, at a news conference.

Alabama has had a Stand Your Ground law since 2006 when it was sponsored by then-State Sen. Larry Means (D-Attala). Much like in Illinois in 2004 where then-State Senator Barack Obama supported that state’s Stand Your Ground law, this law was supported by Democrats.

In the last session of the Alabama Legislature, they were presented with a bill to repeal the Stand Your Ground law. That attempt didn’t make it out of committee. Nonetheless, Sen. Sanders plans to attempt it.

Sanders said he did not know what the scope of any Senate action would be or who would take the lead on it, but said he would sponsor a repeal effort if no one else did. Republicans control large majorities in both chambers, but Sanders said he would work on repeal for “however long” it took.

Frankly, I’d rate his chances of getting his bill out of committee right up there with a snowball not melting when left out in the midday sun during a hot Alabama summer. In other words, it doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of passing.

Gunning For Noxious Weeds

The Hawaiian islands are having trouble with an invasive weed that is shading out natural plants and causes erosion.

The weed in question is miconia, a plant that has infested much of the Big Island and has been trying to gain a foothold on Oahu, Maui and Kauai. Miconia’s large leaves can block out sunlight for smaller plants, and its shallow root systems can increase erosion. A single miconia plant can produce eight million seeds a year.

“Miconia is the number one weed problem in the state of Hawaii that most people don’t know about because it’s impacting areas that people don’t have access to,” Leary told Hawaii News Now in an interview from the UH Maui Agricultural Center in Kula.

The solution developed by conservation scientists from the Hawaii Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management is called Herbicide Ballistic Technology or HBT. In layman’s terms, they are using a paintball gun with special paintballs filled with herbicide to kill the miconia.

The scientists from NREM take to the air in helicopters searching for the miconia and shoot it with the herbicide-filled paintballs. It has been likened to helicopter hunting for feral hogs in Texas. It appears that they have have some significant success according to Dr. James Leary of the University of Hawaii.

“We have protected over 3,000 acres, eliminating 5,000 miconia targets, and reducing what we call incipient populations, or satellite populations, by 80 percent,” he said.

Who would have ever thought that paintball guns could be put to such important conservation use.

Best Comment On Absurd Statement By Pelosi

Last Friday, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) released a statement on the first anniversary of the shootings in the theater in Aurora, Colorado. It was, as you would expect from the source, nonsensical. Rep. Pelosi stated in part:

“In Congress, there can be no more fitting memorial to the lives lost in Aurora, in Newtown, and across the country than a concerted effort to enact commonsense gun safety legislation. We must uphold our oath to ‘protect and defend’ the constitution and all Americans by expanding background checks and keeping dangerous firearms out of the wrong hands.

Beyond misstating the Congressional Oath of Office that she took, the rest of the statement is just absurd.

The cartoonists at Failure To Fire nailed her on this today and they did a damn fine job of it.

A Welcome Unintended Consequence Of Colorado’s New Laws

The new Bloomberg-backed background checks law in Colorado has had an unintended and welcome side effect: it prevented a gun buyback. Together Colorado had planned a gun buyback for August 4th in the People’s Republic of Boulder. They had to call it off at the request of Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle.

Organizers have canceled a gun buyback at the request of Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle, who said Colorado’s new gun laws would make the Aug. 4 event nearly impossible to stage.

“The bottom line is what we anticipated doing would still be legal — but procedurally we can’t follow through with it at this time,” Pelle said Tuesday.

A stricter law that went into effect July 1 requires buyers to go to a licensed firearms dealer and undergo a background check. The InstaCheck systems used in the checks are not mobile, which means they couldn’t be used at the sheriff’s compound where the buyback was planned.

“It’s not a portable system,” Pelle said. “It can’t be done at the site.”

Essentially, for the event to work, Pelle said the group would have to find a licensed firearms dealer to host the event and then pay the dealer per transaction, “which becomes very unproductive,” he said.

That is just too bad for both Together Colorado and Sheriff Pelle who gave the event his full support.

It is also really too back for Boulder metalworking artist Jessica Adams who was to be given parts of the destroyed firearms to make a sculpture “creating gun violence (sic) awareness.”

HB 937 Passes Both Houses And Is Sent To Governor

It appears that the North Carolina General Assembly can get its act together when it is under time pressure. The amended HB 937 was passed by both houses of the General Assembly this evening. Earlier reports had it being on the calendar for tomorrow.

The vote was 73-41 in favor of the amendment from the Conference Committee in the House while the Senate passed it by a vote of 32-14. The roll call of the votes are not available yet.

Agreement Reached On HB 937

The Conference Committee hammering out differences between the Senate version and the House version of HB 937 has reported back to the North Carolina General Assembly with an amended bill which can be found here.

The bill has been put on the legislative calendar for an up-down vote tomorrow. I would expect it to pass.

I will have more on the changes as I read the Committee’s report.

UPDATE: The bill stays the same except for Sections 17 and 18.  The changes include:

  • Section 17.1 drops the word “license” from § 14-403.
  • Section 17.2(a) changes § 14-404 to require that a person denied a pistol purchase permit be given the reason for the denial; that the denial include specific facts as to why the applicant was denied including listing by statute number the applicable law. 
  •  Section 17.2(a) requires the sheriff to keep a list of denials, minus the personally identifying information, including the specific reason for a denial as a public record.
  • Section 17.2(a) requires the Clerk of Court to send records to the NICS System within 48 hours of being notified of any judicial finding, court order, or other factual matters that would cause a person to be denied a permit under
    § 14-404
  •  Section 17.2(a) sets the cost of a purchase permit at $5; does not allow any limit on the number or frequency of permits issued to an individual; does not allow the sheriff charge extra for the investigation, processing, or medical background checks; and requires either a permit or denial be given to the applicant within 14 days.
  • Section 17.2(a) requires the revocation of a permit for anything that happens subsequent to the permit’s issuance that would have denied a permit in the first place. Also required is that the permit holder surrender his or her permit when notified of its revocation.
  • Section 17.2(b) requires a report from the Administrative Office of the Courts regarding the implementation of the Clerk of Court NICS System notification requirement.
  • Section 17.2(c) sets the effective date for NICS System notification at July 1, 2014; for the remainder of Section 17.2(a) at October 1, 2013; and for the rest of Section 17 immediately upon becoming law.
  • Section 17.3 requires the sheriff of a county to examine the validity of all outstanding permits by January 31, 2014. If there are any that would be subject to revocation, he or she is to take steps as detailed above. A report is required from each sheriff on results of their review by March 31, 2014.
  • Section 17.4 requires sheriffs to keep a record of permits issued as well as denials. These records are non-public and confidential.
  • Section 18 just makes a minor clerical change to GS 14-315(b1)(1) which concerns a prohibition on giving or selling weapons to minors.