Yesterday, Magistrate Judge Nachmanoff of the Eastern District of Virginia handed down the first substantive ruling in the lawsuit filed by Fireclean. In order to support their lawsuit, Fireclean had asked the court to force me to turn over all kinds of financial and other information, including about my subscribers. They also sought information as to any servers that might host my blog in Virginia as well as communications with Virginia residents relating to the blog.
Their most confusing discovery request was for copies of communications with Fireclean. On this matter the judge stated, “One would expect Plaintiff to have knowledge of its own communications with Defendants.”
In denying all of Fireclean’s demands, the judge called their motion a “fishing expedition.” Fireclean must now proceed to respond to my pending motion to dismiss their case with only the information they already have. My motion to dismiss the case will be heard by the court next month.
I realize that articles regarding sexual assault on campus are not normally found on my blog. Nor is this a topic which my readers, if they were aware of the specific case to be discussed, were likely to be sitting by their computers waiting for my opinion on the matter. However, as you will see, I have strongly held personal beliefs regarding this topic and feel it is an appropriate time to discuss them.
Before I delve into what I believe, based on personal experience, to be the real problem, I’d like to pause for a moment and head off a few comments I can envision being posted soon after I publish this article. While I personally would not drink until I passed out simply for health reasons, an adult’s choice to do so should not be punishable by rape. I’d also like to say that while in the gun world we focus on guns as a solution for violent crime including rape and sexual assault, guns are not the answer to every crime, and I don’t think carrying a gun would have helped the young lady at the Stanford party, or even the majority of sexual assaults in the United States.
With that said – reading the details of her attack brought back memories of my time in college, and something that happened, or almost happened, while I was at a party in the fraternity house at which I lived for a semester or so.
As some of you may know, I started college early. I certainly focused on academics part of the time, but I’d seen Animal House and wanted to experience some of the fun and camaraderie and history lessons seen in that classic of American cinema.
However, not many fraternities would take a 16 year old pledge, either by choice or according to their bylaws. I found one that would take me (by chance a national fraternity that was about to set up a chapter on campus) and began participating in meetings, activities, and after we took over a house vacated by a fraternity on a five year suspension, plenty of parties involving the generous consumption of alcohol. While I wasn’t everyone’s best friend in the fraternity, some of my “brothers” and I became pretty close.
At one such party, a girl passed out after drinking too much. Some of the guys took her into the vice president’s room and put her on the bed so she could sleep it off. A short while later, the treasurer beckoned me down a hallway away from the main party, where I had been trying and failing to impress girls, and into the doorway of the president’s room. I was a little slow on the uptake, but soon realized that he either wanted me to join him in raping the unconscious girl or to just go ahead and do so on my own. She was at the time fully clothed, so I don’t think anything had happened to that point, but I refused whatever his exact request was and went to make something of a fuss about it with the fraternity vice president, then stood outside the room for a while. After that, I was persona non grata in the fraternity – not that I was the coolest kid to begin with.
I’m not telling this story to impress anyone – really all I did was decline to participate in a rape, which is about the minimum level of acceptable behavior for a human being.
I am telling this story because I don’t think Brock Turner got the idea to take this girl behind a dumpster, partially disrobe her, and shove his fingers inside her limp form all on his own.
In my opinion, the real problem is that he didn’t get to a point in his life where he thought it was acceptable to do all of that (lacking consent) without a clear lack of moral guidance at home and an example of how to behave at school.
His father wrote the judge a letter asking for probation, and I think all or nearly all of the answers I was seeking as to how this happened may be found within the father’s despicably self-centered pleadings. As with the impact statement above, I would recommend you read it in its entirety.
Most telling to me is that while it claims Brock is sorry for having hurt those involved, the only specific people he mentions as having been hurt are members of his own family. It’s as if he’s willing the woman involved to not exist. And while he talks about spelling tests and academics and athletics, he seems to confuse achievement in those areas with character. Character is not what drives you when everyone is watching, but reading that letter, it’s clear to me that Brock was raised only to care about what happened when everyone was watching. “How fast can you swim? How many words can you spell? How high is your GPA?” There’s nothing about “What are you going to do when you’re alone with someone who is vulnerable?”
To be clear, my dad never sat me down and said “Son, don’t rape people.” He simply set the example that my mom, his wife, was an equal. He gave me books in which men were men and didn’t have to subjugate women in order to feel manly. He did a million other things, but of course he wasn’t alone in making me who I was that night at a party, a teenage boy desperately trying to fit in with the older, cooler kids. Without his guidance, though, I don’t know who I would have been that night.
Shortly before that party I had participated, along with members of my fraternity, in a fundraiser for Take Back The Night, which is an event dedicated to ending sexual and relationship violence. The guy who tried to get me to rape that unconscious girl was there too, smiling at all the girls, paying lip service to an idea he clearly didn’t believe in. When we were done with the fundraiser we left and that was that. Other than wanting to put a check mark in the volunteer box in a visible way, we had no more interest or motivation to attend that event than we would have had in picking up trash along the road. Several years after I dropped out to join the military (which was soon after that party), that fraternity was kicked off campus for unrelated and repeated allegations of rape.
Last year, I took part in the planning committee for Take Back The Night at U of A. This basically consisted of going to meetings and speaking up only when I felt it was appropriate, which wasn’t very often because the other members knew what they were doing. When the event came around, some fraternities showed their faces for the opening walk around campus but didn’t stick around to listen to women (and men) who’d been sexually assaulted tell their stories. It was unsurprising but still disappointing to see that nothing had changed in a dozen years.
I am also telling this story because I’m tired of feeling like I’m the only straight guy with a vested interest in this conversation. There were gay guys at the booth we had at the center of campus trying to get people involved, but let’s face it, no 20 year old straight male athlete or fraternity bro is going to listen to what a gay college student has to say about sex with women. I don’t quite know how I can reach those kids with my message that you are not more of a man if you have sex with an unconscious woman who cannot give consent, but I’m going to try, and I think you should too.
– Fireclean filed in Virginia, but cannot establish a reasonable justification for a Virginia court to have jurisdiction over me;
– Most of my statements were either not defamatory or opinions protected by the First Amendment;
– Despite saying the word “malice” a lot, they are unable to allege or prove any actual malice – that is, that I published anything either knowing it was false or seriously doubting that it was true, and without actual malice (which is a specific legal term defined by the landmark Supreme Court case New York Times Co. v. Sullivan) they have no case. This may be due to the fact that I absolutely believed, and still believe, everything I published on this matter to be true.
– They claim there was a concerted action between Everett Baker and myself to injure their business, but have no facts to show that any such plan ever existed.
Donations to the GoFundMe account have been exceptionally helpful in a number of ways. Your continued donations will help ensure full victory in this great and noble undertaking.
A major thrust of their suit is that I claimed or implied their product was Crisco. If you will recall from the first article, I clearly stated “I did not – and still do not – believe that FireClean is Crisco…”
When TFB posted an article titled in part “FireClean is Crisco,” I urged the author to change his title and commented publicly on the article that, again, I did not think FireClean was Crisco.
There are obviously issues with their other claims in the complaint, but that is one I felt needed to be addressed immediately.
Furthermore, the series of articles published here contained tests from three different laboratories, and I published every bit of available data and every relevant quote from those who reviewed the data. FireClean’s legal complaint contains a redacted (missing the full spectra) NMR test from a single laboratory.
This article was in specific response to the inundation of media articles I saw at the time discussing how, I perceived, the US was so horrible for using nuclear weapons – but their use was written about in a vacuum, without proper, or in most cases, any context regarding why we decided to use nuclear weapons against Japan. I also wished to call attention to the fact that other mass deaths of civilians at the hand of the Allies were not given such special recognition, or in fact any recognition at all, even if their death tolls exceeded that of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
There were many comments on the article, including some overtly racist ones which I quickly sent to the trash bin, but also some very thoughtful comments criticizing and/or disagreeing with my conclusions.
Many, many articles and books and papers have been written about whether or not the bombings constituted the right thing to do, with many saying that Japan was on the verge of surrender and a blockade of a few months would have pushed them over the edge, while the other side says an invasion would have been necessary and would have ended up costing more lives. I do not really wish to rehash all of these arguments, but as today is the 71st anniversary of the raising of the American flag on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, I felt it necessary to say a few things.
I have in the interim read (truth be told, listened to) the book The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945. I think it is a fantastic work, and would encourage anyone with the time to pick up a copy. The author, John Toland, told the story from as much of a Japanese perspective as possible, including many interviews with primary sources – essentially making the reader a fly on the wall of many important meetings on both sides throughout the war. I felt that I was fairly well educated on the topic of the Pacific war prior to reading this book, but learned numerous important facts over the last few weeks.
Still, it should not surprise anyone that the writer of an article called “We Shouldn’t Feel Bad About Nuking Imperial Japan” went into the reading of such a book with a few preconceived notions and came out of it with those notions strengthened and reinforced.
Japan was not united on the concept of continuing the war to its bitter end, but those with the real power – the military – were almost to a man absolutely committed to fighting no longer to win, but to preserve what we can loosely translate as the “national essence” of Japan. To this end a number of last-ditch efforts were underway in the expectation of an invasion including arming civilians with spears and bows.
Many of the primary Japanese actors were not viewing the situation in a manner I as an American would consider rational. Despite the fact that the Japanese military and political leadership knew since 1943 that they were losing the war and by no means had the industry to win, they continued fighting “for the Emperor.” Their decisions led to mind-boggling losses on both sides.
In mid-August, when the Emperor decided to use his influence to force his government into (more or less) accepting the terms of surrender set forth by the Allies, a coup was attempted by very “loyal” Japanese troops who believed that the Emperor had been misled and that his surrender declaration must not reach outside ears.
In other words, “for the Emperor” to them no longer meant fighting for the actual Emperor but for the idea of an Empire. From 1931 to 1945, in fact, the military of Japan essentially did whatever it wanted and said it was “for the Emperor.” This thought process was derived from the, again, loosely translated concept of “insubordination.”
As stated previously, today is the 71st anniversary of the flag raising on Mount Suribachi. I find today to be an especially poignant time to argue that the use of atomic weapons against Japan was more than justified, both at the time and in hindsight. Although American troops captured the highest point on the island on the fifth day of the battle, fighting continued for another month as virtually every Japanese fighting man on the island fought to the death or hid out in the complex network of caves and tunnels that had been prepared for the defense of the island.
This for a tiny bit of rock that held little strategic significance other than that it was one step closer to the Home Islands. I find it hard to believe that the Japanese would fight so tenaciously for little gain in February and March of 1945 and yet be on the verge of surrendering their homeland in August of that same year – without the psychological shock of the use of atomic weapons.
Over the years since I started this blog, many people have asked if I am going to make t shirts – at least four or five people in the last six or seven years. Well, their long-forgotten wishes are now true, and they even have a choice of colors, Union Blue or Rebel Gray!
Do you lament Sherman’s March to the Sea? If so, you’ll want a Rebel Gray shirt, even though there’s a terrible irony in the motto on the back of the shirt, “Burning Bridges Since 2009.” Actually, this color is more of a charcoal than simple gray, which makes sense since we are talking about burning bridges, after all. Or cotton fields. If you’re not a Southerner but are scared of colors, like my friend Brett, you’ll want this charcoal shirt.
Are you a proud Yankee/American, even though all those icky Northern states seem to not like guns any more? Well, Union Blue is definitely more your style. Even if you’re from the South and want a non-tactically colored shirt to tell your friends you like an obscure gun blog, you’ll probably want to break from tradition and go with blue.
The shirts themselves are quite nice, if I may say so. The design and cheeky motto with absolutely no intended reference to anything specific are printed on Next Level Apparel poly/cotton (65/35) shirts. These shirts feel very soft and stretchy. Sizing seems to run on the smaller side – kind of like a Wylde chamber, they might make you more accurate, but I am not responsible for popped primers or bulging waistlines.
And while women comprise approximately six percent of my Facebook/YouTube audience, over twenty percent of the shirts available are in women’s sizes! Inexplicably, the women’s shirts cost almost a dollar more to make each, despite their being the same material. However, I will not pass these increased costs on to you! Don’t say I’ve never fought the patriarchy!
Pricing is $17 per (~3.5-4.5oz) shirt, approximately ten dollars less than a two pack (2x2oz) of FireClean from Brownells, making it a better deal by weight. The first 20 shirt buyers will receive a free sample of FireClean! That has to at least double the value of the shirt. Add $1 if you would like your shirt blessed with FireClean.
Sizes available are mens medium, large, extra large, and extra extra lavrge. Also available are a limited number of womens small, medium, and large. As the sizes/colors sell out, I will update this post.
Shipping options are Priority Mail small flat rate box for $6.80 or USPS First Class in a Tyvek envelope for $4.30. I would prefer payment by PayPal to email@example.com. If this is not possible, I suppose that I could also accept check/money orders or body parts.
A few weeks back I bought a few Anderson lowers from AIM Surplus for $40. The anodizing and machining look very nice. However the grip screw hole wasn’t threaded nearly far enough, even for the shortest grip screw I had. Fastest solution was to tap that hole with a 1/4-28 tap. Okay, so I don’t have the most expensive tap and die set in the world, but for my low volume needs, it works fine.
I also noticed that the bolt catch detent hole wasn’t deep enough prior to anodize, but they had apparently caught that and drilled it deeper, through the anodizing.
I assembled the lower with PSA PTAC lower parts (purchased from PSA as part of rifle kits) and don’t have anything bad to say about them so far. The trigger pull is actually quite crisp and none of the other components seemed to vary from other LPKs I’ve used in the past in terms of quality or appearance.
Having to tap the grip screw hole was annoying, but a diversion of only a few minutes and I’d still say these $40 lowers are well worth the price.
I’ve taken a few of the uppers apart and noticed disappointing things like barrel nuts torqued to over 100 ft-lbs (they should be over 30 but I prefer less than 80) without the use of anti-seize, front sight bases that are slightly canted, taper pin holes drilled haphazardly, etc. But nothing that has affected function yet – zero malfunctions so far with all seven uppers -not a very high round count, but a good mix of brass and steel cased stuff.
This is definitely the time to buy if you’re looking to build an AR.
After a long hiatus, Brett and I have completed the fourth podcast episode. In it, we discuss Froglube, Palmetto State Armory, 5.45×39, SHOT Show predictions, and some other random things which may or may not interest you.
When I sent the results to different people for their input, here is what they had to say:
“For the IR, you are looking at how functional groups of atoms in a molcule absorb light. The X-axis gives us the stretch of the molecular bond and the Y axis gives us the number of photons that were absorbed. These IR spectra are clearly hydrocarbon spectra. Samples 11, 12 and 13 are functionally identical. There are minor differences in sample 16 from 6 and 8 that reflect the presence of carbon oxygen bonds which may suggest the absence of an additional functional groups, perhaps oxygens, so perhaps that is a different kind of vegetable oil like peanut oil, but these are all effectively light vegetable or vegetable like oils. In fact, I am a bit shocked at how similar samples 11, 12 and 13 are…”
(note: samples 6, 8, and 16 will be discussed in a separate post)
“All three samples in that spectrum look nearly identical, with the caveat that IR is not a very conclusive way to determine the overall structure of a molecule. IR allows us to determine the presence of various functional groups (esters, alkenes, alkanes, alcohols, etc), but doesn’t really provide a way to link them together (NMR is a much better technique for this). The only thing I can really get from those is the presence of a carbonyl compound at 1750 cm-1, and various C-H stretches near 2800-2900 cm-1. So for example, a wax might look very similar to a vegetable oil in IR, but there’s obviously a huge difference in the physical properties as a gun lube. In this case though, they are so similar, it’s likely that all three are composed primarily of the same compounds. “
A Separate Laboratory Analysis And Opinion, January 2016
Infrared spectroscopy is one important part of this analysis, but a more complete picture can be found with additional testing. To that end, NMR and GCMS tests were done at a separate laboratory (NMR stands for Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and GCMS stands for Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectroscopy). What follows was written by the person conducting these tests, who has a PhD in chemistry.
TrackLube vs. Seal1 vs. FrogLube
TrackLube, Seal1, and FrogLube all appear to be very similar, color differences notwithstanding. The 1H (Figures 1 and 2) and 13C (Figure 3) NMR data shows nearly identical spectra for all three products. They are a blend of a few different compounds: primarily methyl salicylate (wintergreen oil) and mostly-saturated triglycerides, with some preservatives and other molecules rounding out the mixture. The degree of saturation (as compared to the more highly unsaturated triolein, for example) makes these triglycerides semisolid at room temperature, which would explain the paste-like consistency of these products. A very rough estimate of the methylsalicylate:triglyceride ratio (as the 1H NMR peak areas) suggests these consist of a few percent wintergreen oil by mass.
Upon opening the tubs of product, one notices that Track Lube and Frog Lube smell very similar, with a strong wintergreen scent. Seal 1 also has this minty scent, but one might also notice hints of bubblegum, and this likely means there are small volatile compounds not present in the other two paste lubes. The best way to quickly determine the identity of all of these compounds is GCMS (Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectroscopy). As we see below (Figure 4), all three lubes are very similar, in that they share nearly all the same representative peaks. It’s not too illuminating to measure the height of each peak, nor is it particularly helpful to measure the relative peak areas (much more thorough and expensive work is needed to do with any decent accuracy). As predicted by smell, we see that Seal 1 (red) has two small peaks that correspond to isoamyl acetate (4.0 min) and limonene (5.7 min), which smell of banana and lemon, respectively. Otherwise we see a number of compounds present in all 3 samples: BHT, terephthalates, and the fragments of mostly-saturated triglycerides. The size of these fragments suggests that triglycerides with carbon chain lengths of ~10-18 were most common, but it is difficult to tell based on the nature of GCMS. These numbers do roughly match up to NMR integrations, so it’s likely a good estimate of the range. As in the NMR spectra, it is difficult to tell exact proportions here. It may be that the ratio of methyl salicylate to triglyceride varies somewhat, and that the average chain length changes slightly between products, but in general we can say that they are very similar mixtures.
Since the mixtures’ exact ratios were difficult to discern, rheology was performed on the samples to get a feel for their mechanical properties at various temperatures and shear rates. First, samples of each were subjected to moderate, constant shear and the temperature was swept from 25-60°C (77-140°F) to simulate a firearm warming up under use. The viscosity of the mixture decreases drastically from 25-45°C (77-113°F) as the pastes melted, and then held steady. The plots do show some differences in viscosity during melting, and there may be several possible causes: (i) potentially varying ratios of wintergreen oil to triglyceride slightly affect the melting temperature, (ii) air bubbles/voids in the paste escape during melting, causing faulty readings by the instrument, or (iii) variation in the triglyceride chain length/degree of saturation alters the melting characteristics. Either way, at slightly warm temperatures, they have nearly identical viscosities, which serves as a rough proxy for other mechanical properties one might find useful in a firearms lubricant.
The second rheological test was a sweep of shear rate while held at 25°C. This test showed that there is significant shear thinning at higher rates, typical of these types of mixtures. Again, there are differences between the three products, but the same general response was noted for each with respect to decrease in viscosity at higher shear rates. At high shear rates (such as found on rapidly moving firearms parts), these differences are very small, and the various products have very similar properties.
From the above data, we can see that Froglube, Seal 1, and Track Lube are very similar in composition and mechanical properties. Perhaps a thorough and robust firearms live fire test is necessary to determine any practical differences, but all expectations are that they would perform similarly. At the time of writing, the costs of Seal 1 ($18.95/8 oz, Amazon.com), Frog Lube ($18.40/8 oz, Amazon.com), and Track Lube ($16.99/8 oz, tracklubeplus.com) are also nearly identical, so it ultimately comes down to these two questions: Do you prefer your firearms to smell like just mint or minty bubblegum? Is your favorite color green, blue, or yellow-orange?
Company Responses & My Opinion
I contacted each company and asked if their product was identical to the others.
Froglube has no contact info other than a customer contact form on their site, and their response was to thank me for my inquiry and direct me to the instructions on how to use their product. No, I’m not kidding. I called them after the second round of testing. When asked if FrogLube was the same as TrackLube, they replied, “no, it is not.” When asked if it was similar, the response was “It’s an all-natural lubricant.” When asked if FrogLube was the same as Seal1, the response was “no, it’s not like Seal1 at all.”
Tracklube+ told me that they have been selling their product since 2003 to amusement parks around the country and just started selling direct to the public. They said that their company does not sell Tracklube+ under other names. In the interests of fairness, here is their entire response.
“OUR LUBRICATE IS A MULIT-USE LUBBRICATON THAT WE HAVE RECENTLY RELEASED FOR SALE BY OUR WEB SITE . BEFORE THIS WE ONLY SOLD TO AMUSEMENT PARKS. WE HAVE BEEN IN BUSINESS SINCE 2003 .OUR TRACK LUBE PLUS IS EXCELLENT FOR AREAS THAT SQEAK, SQEAL OR CREATE FRICTION. IT WAS ORGINALLY CREATED IN 2003 TO BE USED AS AN ECO-FRIENDLY AND WATER RESISTANT LUBRICANT FOR ROLLER COASTERS ALL AROUND THE WORLD. PLEASE VISIT OUR WEB SITE @ TRACKLUBEPLUS™.COM FOR MORE INFORMATION. WE DO NOT SELL OUR PRODUCT UNDER ANY OTHER NAME. OUR MISSION IS TO PROVIDE YOU WITH A GREAT ECO- FRIENDLY LUBRICANT THAT YOU CAN USE IN MULTIPLE WAYS, MAKING YOUR LIFE EASIER.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR INTEREST IN TRACK LUBE PLUS™.”
I contacted Seal1 by email and their response was:
“Our product is not similar to Froglube or Tracklube. We develop and manufacture all of our own products. Please give me a call if you have any further questions.”
On the phone, Seal1 told me that their product was unique, entirely unlike Froglube and Tracklube, and when I described the results of the test, they said it must be “false readings.” They also said it has been in development since the early 1990s. Okay.
Let’s operate under the assumption that Froglube, Tracklube+ and Seal1 are all the same thing with, say, different food coloring added to give the appearance of uniqueness.
I’m not even mad. They’re all priced roughly the same. It’s not like Froglube is just Tracklube+ with a huge markup and a snazzy marketing campaign.
If you like Froglube and see no other reason to stop using it, I wouldn’t be mad about this and wouldn’t stop using it. However, I think there are much better products on the market.
When I last wrote about a variety of gun oils and gave my thoughts on them, I said that I had never used Froglube. That has since changed. During the 2014 test of a Battle Rifle Company AR, all 10,000 rounds were fired with Froglube as the lubricant. This was done because BRC prefers Froglube, and I probably fired about 6,000 of the 10,000 rounds. The performance of the weapon during the test was somewhere between Gigli and Taurus, but I don’t think Froglube had anything to do with it. The gas port was way too big which caused major problems – all of the problems, as far as I’m concerned.
I have never used Seal1 or Tracklube+ on a rifle – but then again, if Seal1 and Tracklube+ and Froglube are identical, and I’ve used Froglube, then I guess I’ve used the other two as well.
I do have some specific concerns about a claim made by Froglube which I think cannot possibly be true. Those will be addressed in a future blog post.
If you order Tracklube+ it comes in a brown paper wrapped box from a company called “Amusement Lubrications Specialties” and your longtime mail lady will never look at you the same way again.
Also, in my opinion, Seal1 smells better than Froglube. It smells the way Banana Runts taste.