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Silencer, Thy Name Is Misleading

Silencers are now a well-known accessory for firearms. What amazes me is how wrong most portrayals are. I swear, every time they stick a tube on the end of a barrel and I hear (or read about hearing) a “soft phut,” or a “whisper,” or any other description that implies a near silent shot, I have to stop myself from screaming in protest. (Actually, I don’t always refrain. You should try watching a movie with me.)

Now before I go any further, let me make one thing clear. It is possible to silence a gunshot, and a silencer/suppressor is part of the equation. But not all! Several other things must happen as well.

The gas emerging from the barrel is not what makes a gunshot loud. It is loud, but you know what’s a heck of a lot louder? A sonic boom. Most bullets break the sound barrier. Screwing a baffled tube on the barrel doesn’t do anything for the sonic boom.

In order to fire a silent shot, you must also have sub-sonic ammo. Special rounds that go slower than the speed of sound are available. Used properly, with a silencer and other correct components, these rounds can be fired in near silence.

When you do fire a truly silenced shot, it still does not make a “soft phut” or whatever. What you will hear (when using a semi-automatic) is the sound of the bolt cycling. The sound might be described as a click or maybe a clang.

So, mind your “phuts” and “clicks.” Think before you silence!

(And please don’t try to silence a revolver…)

Credibility – Why Writing It Wrong Ruins It For Everyone

When we write something, whatever it is, we want to draw the reader in. We want them to trust us. We want them to agree with us, to suspend disbelief, and get lost in the story. We write fiction. In other words, “lies.” Pretty, witty, wonderful lies, but lies nonetheless. What’s even better? We make people believe them, if only for the short time it takes them to read the story.

How do you make a lie most believable? By surrounding it with truth. A good writer knows this and uses it. We use truths to make our lies credible. We want the reader to get lost in the mix, unable to separate the truth from the lies. But the writer must know the difference. We must not forget where the line lies and we must resist the temptation to casually make up the truths amid which we will hide our lies. A simple little mistake can bring the reader crashing back to reality and start doubting. It can destroy all trust in the writer, and every time it happens, that reader’s trust will get harder and harder to win back.

But I don’t have the time to research every little detail! I’m a fiction writer, of course I’m going to make stuff up. That’s what I do!

Indeed! One cannot expect to get every detail right all the time. Therefore, we need to understand which sort of details are most critical to the story we are telling and the audience we want to tell it to.

For example, if you are writing the sort of story that depends and pivots around action and a few well-placed bullets, it might be a good idea to get your gun facts straight. On the other hand, if you missed a few bits about the intricacies of needlepoint in the same story, I doubt it would cause as much difficulty.

If you are writing a cozy mystery, about the yarn store owner who ends up investigating the strange murder that involved a knitting needle and a piece of rare silk yarn, you might reverse the factual priorities. Your target audience will probably be more in tune with yarn textures than grip styles. Luckily, the sock-knitting gun-nuts who just love those knitting mysteries probably aren’t expecting you to have read every issue of Guns & Ammo. (They’d love it if you did, but they’ll probably forgive you.)

Writers need the readers’ trust, and a great way to do that is by fulfilling the readers’ expectations. Consider the expertise of your audience and the expectations/focuses of your genre. Then use that information to decide which mistakes your readers will forgive you for and which ones will betray you.

ITF Taekwondo Belt Order and Color Meanings

The belt system used by those of us that practice taekwondo, according to the teachings of General Choi Hong Hi, is pretty simple.

White Belt – This is where everyone begins. The color white symbolizes the student’s innocence and ignorance of taekwondo. (A student with a white belt is classified as 10th Gup.)

White Belt with Yellow Stripe – This is the next step, and the only step that is sometimes skipped for quick-learning students. (9th Gup)

Yellow Belt – The first full color, this belt means that the student is beginning to learn and create a foundation in taekwondo. The color yellow represents the ground or earth in which the seed of knowledge has been planted and will grow.

Yellow Belt with Green Stripe

Green Belt – This belt is in my experience, a milestone. I would say that most people never make it past this point. The student’s taekwondo knowledge and experience is growing at a good pace now. The color green represents the plant as it sprouts and begins to grow.

Green Belt with Blue Stripe

Blue Belt – At this point, the student should have a good foundation in taekwondo and is prepared to begin learning more advanced techniques and theories. The color represents the sky toward which the plant reaches as it matures into a tree.

Blue Belt with Red Stripe

Red Belt – My favorite definition: The red belt is a student who knows quite a bit about taekwondo, enough to be dangerous. Now, the student must learn control, a crucial skill. The color red signifies danger, warning others to stay away and reminding the student to practice control.

Red Belt with Black Stripe

Black Belt (1st degree) – This is the end of the introductory stages. On average, this rank takes 3-5 years to reach. Traditionally, only after achieving the rank of black belt, is the pupil considered to be true student of taekwondo. It is without a doubt a great mark of progress, but is far from the end. Truly, it is only the beginning. The definition of the color black is simple the opposite of the color white.

Novice Black Belt (1st-3rd degree) – This first three ranks of black belt are designated as Novice. The student should concentrate on perfecting (or at least thoroughly understanding) the basics that they have learned while also learning a good bit of new material. The student is also considered an Assistant Instructor during these ranks, addressed as Bo-Sabum.

Expert Black Belt (4th-6th degree) On average, the student has been an actively training and advancing black belt for 9-10 years before they may test for 4th degree. It is a very serious achievement, the student having been training as a black belt about twice as long as they were a colored belt. During this stage, the student should have enough understanding of taekwondo to begin pursuing theory more deeply. Many students begin to specialize as well. The student is considered an Instructor and is addressed as Sabum.

Master Black Belt (7th-8th degree) – Students who achieve this rank have probably been an active black belt for close to 30 years. They are very knowledgeable. At this point, the student is no longer allowed to compete at most tournaments. (Feel free to join me in pondering this.) There are no more formal examinations to gain rank after this point. The student is expected to pursue further knowledge about taekwondo with little or no oversight. Most masters only teach other black belts, leaving the colored belts to the lower ranks. The student is now called Sa-Hyong, or Master Instructor.

Grandmaster (9th degree) – The ultimate rank in traditional taekwondo, there are very few who have made it this far and they are considered to be the greatest experts on the art of taekwondo. The student is now called Grandmaster or Sa-Song.