Saturday, March 31, 2018

Miscellany: Surefire E1D LED Defender review

Ten years ago, I bid farewell to my old Surefire E2D flashlight, and it looks like Surefire has done the same with my current everyday carry torch, the apparently-discontinued E1D LED Defender:

I've tried a lot of flashlights over the years (including boutique stuff like Elzettas and Malkoffs), but Surefire remains my go-to brand for serious use. The E1D (and its single CR123A cousins, the EB1 and E1B) hit the sweet spot for me - small enough to clip to a pants pocket, yet bright enough to function as a self-defense light. The E1D in particular has an intense hotspot that throws further than you think - perfect for reaching down a dark alley.

It's not just a "tactical" light, though - I've used the E1D as a primary flashlight in a lot of situations, and it's never let me down. The two-way clip allows it to be carried bezel-up or down (I prefer bezel-down, as it rides deeper in the pocket), and to be mounted on a cap brim for hands-free use. This came in especially handy during two dark nights at a Byron Kerns survival class.

The tailcap switch cycles between two outputs - a 300 lumen high and a 5 lumen low - and defaults to high on the first press. The switch is capable of momentary use, and can also be clicked all the way for constant on. Like the bezel, the tailcap is crenellated, which allows the light to tailstand and also protects the switch from being accidentally activated.

I've bought newer Surefires, including the 400-lumen E1B with Maxvision and the brand-new Tactician, but if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The E1D may be gone from Surefire's website, but it's going to remain in my stable for at least the next few years.

Tech: The Legend of Zelda - Breath of the Wild review

A lot of video games are called "system sellers," but "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild" for the Nintendo Switch is one of the few that deserve the title. For the first month of its release, the game actually outsold the Switch console itself, which can only be explained by (1) the Switch's notoriously scarce availability at launch, and/or (2) eager fans grabbing the "Special Edition" of the game in addition to a standard copy.

For my part, I snagged a Nintendo Switch and "Breath of the Wild" a month after release, and can now confirm that it's so good that it's almost worth buying a $300 Switch just to play it:

The fact that this review is being written in 2018 is one of the big reasons why the game is so special - it's absolutely massive. As Link, you adventure through the largest open world Nintendo has ever made, a devastated, post-apocalyptic Hyrule that has largely reverted to its natural state. As the title suggests, the wilderness is ever-present - you can ride horses, hunt deer for food, or freeze to death on a mountain slope, all without encountering a single traditional Zelda "enemy" or "dungeon."

The audacious scale of "Breath of the Wild" is matched by the bold way in which the game re-imagines Zelda's gameplay. In past 3D Zeldas, things moved along from dungeon to dungeon in rote manner, usually with painfully slow tutorial sequences that explained every jot and tittle of the game's mechanics. Not so here. "Breath of the Wild" takes off the training wheels and gives you almost-total freedom from the start. Link can climb up anything, including trees, houses, and mountains, and you can skip the main storyline altogether and beeline your way to the game's final boss with just your crappy wooden sword as armament.

You'd be annihilated though, and you'd miss the wondrous sights and sounds that Nintendo has spent years crafting. While the Switch is not a technical powerhouse, "Breath of the Wild" has lush cel-shaded graphics that look fine on a TV and absolutely blow away any tablet or cellphone game. And the minimalist score, while not initially as bombastic as you might expect, swells at just the right places:

I have a few minor nitpicks (framerate dips, repetitive sidequests, and a sometimes cumbersome UI), but they are outweighed by more praise than can fit in a blog post (the clever dungeons and shrine mini-dungeons, the physics system, an unexpectedly mature story about the weight of duty). To cut a long story short, this is one of the best games I've ever played, and absolutely worth picking up.

Rating: 94/100

Friday, March 23, 2018

Links: Gun Blogrollin'

Things are getting crazy for gun owners.

Big banks and stores are turning against us for exercising a constitutionally protected right. Tech companies are silencing us for posting about 100% completely legal activities, like handloading ammunition. We've always joked about antigunners pleading "it's for the children" in every debate, but now they are shamelessly shipping kids across the country to disarm the next generation.

Everyone who supports the Second Amendment has to hang together - regardless of our differences, we all believe in private firearms ownership. Thankfully, the Internet gives us a way to connect with each other, like these great blogs:

Home on the Range - Brigid is back. 'Nuff said. - This is one of the few gunblogs that covers wheelguns. It's well-written, and while revolvers aren't on the anti-gun radar now, you can bet they will try and come for them eventually. All it takes is one stupid mass murderer who bothers to bring a speedloader or a New York reload...

Massad Ayoob on Guns - Mr. Ayoob needs no introduction, but lately he's been blogging about the tragedy of the Parkland murders and how so much misplaced hatred and anger are being directed at people who had nothing to do with it.

Misfires and Light Strikes - KevinC's excellent blog has been around for 8 years, but somehow I'm just now linking it. It's chock full of great photography and great writing.

Pew Pew Tactical - Edited by Eric Hung, this site has a lot of fun content and mostly stays away from political debates...except for pro-2A matters, of course.

The GunDivas - Really neat blog helmed by several great ladies. The recent posts about trauma management include information that might make a difference in the next spree killing, unlike bans on bump stocks or restrictions on purchasing age.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Music: The Founding

If you're anything like me, St. Patrick's Day is a time for wall-to-wall Irish and Celtic music. Today I'm listening to The Founding, a great band of Western Michigan University alums (formerly known as Blarney Castle). I am really digging their signature song, "Silhouettes Against the Soil":

The Founding released their first full-length album, Form., at the end of last year, and it's a showpiece of musicianship and elegiac writing:

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Politics: Boiling the Frog

I've tried to keep politics out of Shangrila Towers over the years, because you're always alienating someone, but Governor Scott signed Senate Bill 7026 yesterday.

I wager that most of the people agitating for gun control will never read the amended statutes, much less any of the state and federal gun laws already on the books. They'll be content that someone "did something" about "gun violence," without worrying how a law impacts millions of gun owners who respect the rule of law and don't want to become accidental felons.

I understand the NRA has already sued to stop the minimum age requirement. That's a start, but every gun owner should read these new laws anyway (and it's not just Florida - lots of states are passing all sorts of unconstitutional nonsense like this). Take your kid to the range. Teach a 19 year old college student to shoot. The Second Amendment is nice, but a long-term generational shift is the only way to stop our rights from being infringed.

Section 790.065(13) - A person younger than 21 years of age may not purchase a firearm. The sale or transfer of a firearm to a person younger than 21 years of age may not be made or facilitated by a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer. A person who violates this subsection commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. The prohibitions of this subsection do not apply to the purchase of a rifle or shotgun by a law enforcement officer or correctional officer, as those terms are defined in s. 943.10(1), (2), (3), (6), (7), (8), or (9), or a servicemember as defined in s. 250.01.

Section 790.222 Bump-fire stocks prohibited.—A person may not import into this state or transfer, distribute, sell, keep for sale, offer for sale, possess, or give to another person a bump-fire stock. A person who violates this section commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 741 775.083, or s. 775.084. As used in this section, the term “bump-fire stock” means a conversion kit, a tool, an accessory, or a device used to alter the rate of fire of a firearm to mimic automatic weapon fire or which is used to increase the rate of fire to a faster rate than is possible for a person to fire such semiautomatic firearm unassisted by a kit, a tool, an accessory, or device.

I don't even know if I own what is defined as a "bump-fire stock" - the law is so ridiculously vague that it could encompass a lighter replacement pistol slide, a heavier trigger return spring, or any one of a thousand common gun parts, not to mention a rubber band

And I will tell you this - I am not turning in my rubber bands.