CS Students and Guns

                           The Squirrel Nest 
                      Presentation announcement 
 22-May-87 19:26
 It's common knowledge that whenever you get two or more CS grad 
 students together, the conversation will inevitably drift to the
 same topic: automatic weapons. Lately, we've noticed that whenever 
 we attend a CS party, picnic, or bullsession, we always hear the
 same questions and discussions, usually from the younger grad 
      "When I switched from guncotton to standard ball powder on 
      my .223 loads, the gas ports on my M16 would clog like you 
      wouldn't believe. Steer clear of that stuff."
      "You haven't cleared an ejection port jam until you've
      cleared one in the Hill district at 4:00 AM on a Saturday 
      "I want to mount an M60 in front of the sun roof of my
      Tercel, but the mounting bracket wasn't drilled for import 
      cars. How did Josh Bloch do his?"
      "What exactly are those special 'conference rounds' that 
      Newell hand loads before AAAI every year?"
      "Some of my friends at the MIT AI Lab don't like M203's 
      because the grenade launcher adds too much weight, but I 
      wouldn't have gotten out of IJCAI-85 in one piece if it 
      hadn't been for those 40mm flechette rounds. What do you 
      "Do you have to be a god-damned tenured professor to get 
      teflon rounds at this place?"
      "Does the 'reasonable person principle' cover hosing down 
      a member of the Soar project after he's used the phrase
      'cognitively plausible' for the fifteenth time in a 20 
      minute conference talk?"
      "Where *did* Prof. Vrsalovic get that Kalashnikov AK-47?" 
      "I used to use Dri-Slide to lube my M16. How come my
      advisor says Dri-Slide is for momma's boys and Stanford 
      "Does the way Jon Webb keeps flicking the safety of his 
      Mac-10 on and off at thesis defenses make you nervous, 
 In short, there is a lot of concern in this department for the
 proper care, handling and etiquette of automatic weapons. So as a 
 service to the department, we are starting a two week daily series
 on "The Care and Handling of Your M16A1." Every day for the next two 
 weeks, we will post on the wall outside our office the day's helpful 
 hint on care and maintenance of that good old departmental standby: 
 the M16A1. Our thanks to the US Army, whose training manuals we have 
 shamelessly cribbed for material.
 We would like to encourage other knowledgeable members of the CS
 community to share their expertise in a similar fashion. There is a 
 real need for this kind of dialogue in the department. The new
 students come in here every fall, and are totally unequipped to
 handle the realities of graduate student life at CMU. Computability 
 theory and lexical scoping are fine things to know about, but they 
 just don't cut the mustard when somebody from the Psych department 
 opens up on you with an Ingram set to full auto.
      -the friendly automatic weapons enthusiasts of SkyCave1, 
      Olin, Derek, and Allan
 Date: Tue, 26 May 87 09:55:15 PDT
 From: jkh%violet.Berkeley.EDU@BERKELEY.EDU (Jordan K. Hubbard) 
 To: Olin.Shivers@h.cs.cmu.edu
 Subject: Supporting one's opinion with sustained fully automatic 
 weapons fire.
 I had recent occasion to view your Presentation Announcement on care 
 and feeding of automatic weapons during lecture hall. I found it
 most amusing. I would very much like to see and/or contribute future 
 We have similar problems here at Berkeley, though it has been 
 difficult to wean our students away from more the more mundane
 assortment of Browning Hi-Power's, Beretta 92SBF's and Sig-Sauer 
 P226's. The 9mm clique is pretty strong here, and the young grad 
 students fairly parsimonious. They tend to balk at the idea of
 spending enough money on ammo to make full auto firefights
 practical. Lately, they've taken to sniping at each other from the
 Campanille tower and engaging in loose hit-and-run guerrilla tactics 
 during finals. This is obviously not the American Way and needs to
 be changed. While I've been able to slowly ween them into more 
 progressive arms (such as the Beretta 93R and an occasional
 mini-uzi), I still can't seem to get past the supply problem. My 
 questions are:
      "Do you buy your ammo in bulk, or do appointed individuals 
      do shifts on a progressive reloader?"
      "Does the school pay for this?" 
      Thank you.
      Jordan Hubbard
      U.C. Berkeley
      moderator of rec.guns
 27-May-87 02:16
 Automatic Weapons, part III
 My reply to Mr. Hubbard of UC Berkeley: 
 Mr. Hubbard-
 Thank you for your letter. It was certainly interesting to hear of 
 conditions out on the West Coast. What can I tell you about the
 situation here at CMU? I'm really glad I came to CMU. The faculty is 
 absolutely first rate, and they all take pride in their weapons
 skills. We are admittedly a pretty opinionated bunch, which provides 
 for many interesting interchanges within the community. I, for
 instance, think the long barrel .44 Automag is more of a fashion 
 statement than a weapon, though you won't catch me saying that
 within earshot of Prof. Fahlman. If you catch my drift. 
 Yes, I am aware of the West Coast predilection for 9mm pistolry.
 When I was an undergraduate, I spent one summer doing AI hacking at 
 the MIT AI Lab. We'd hired this west coast guy to do Lisp hacking, 
 and I can clearly remember being a little stranged out by his
 attitudes. He just wouldn't shut up about Interlisp and Browning
 Hi-Power's. Every time I tried to explain to him the way our project 
 did things, he'd interrupt with "the right way," i.e. the West Coast 
 Way, to do it. He just couldn't get it through his head that I
 didn't want to hear about Interlisp, and I damn sure didn't want to 
 hear about 9-fucking-millimeter automatics; we were a Zetalisp/.223 
 project. I finally gave up on him; that was the first time I'd ever 
 personally encountered the east coast/west coast split in Lisp style 
 and weapons choice.
 I'm not quite as adamant about that sort of thing as I used to be. I 
 guess these days I tend to have a "whatever gets the job done"
 attitude -- even if it's franz or a .22 Woodsman. But I've always
 thought that the west coast was really missing out on a good thing. 
 I mean, on the east coast, public comment sometimes requires you to 
 tuck a Beretta discreetly away in a shoulder holster. But when you 
 are in Berkeley, it being the sort of place that it is, you can
 stroll down the street toting your automatic rifle of choice without 
 so much as raising an eyebrow.
 I am very fond of Berkeley. I think that while LA represents the 
 dark, twisted
 side of California weirdness, Berkeley represents the very best of
 the pure, innocent-killer side of it all. The first weekend I ever 
 spent in Berkeley was in the summer of 1983. I was sitting down at 
 one of those really delightful cafes you have out there. To my left 
 some old man was drinking cappucino and practicing Chinese
 calligraphy; down the street some undergraduates were engaged in a
 running firefight. I was taking it all in, thinking that Berkeleians 
 have remembered something about living well that the rest of America 
 seems to have forgotten, when this kid's stray .223 slug shattered
 my glass of pomegranate soda. "Crazy undergraduates," I remember 
 chuckling to myself as I put the safety back on my Hi-Power and 
 returned it to its holster.
 It seems a shame that ammunition is so hard to come by out there,
 though. We are quite spoiled here at CMU. The departmental attitude 
 towards logistical support really crystallised for me in September
 of my first year. One of the incoming first-year hot-shots had taken 
 out Prof. Felton with a head shot from 500 yards. We were all really 
 impressed, and I think it was generally agreed that Felton couldn't 
 have asked for a more painless, appropriate end. It was a beautiful, 
 almost poetic way to cap what had been a textbook career of
 brilliant, original mathematical insights punctuated with outbursts 
 of random, deeply unhinged violence. Many were the stories of Felton 
 told that week -- we were particularly touched that, in a very real 
 sense, he'd died with his boots on. He may have been all of 65, but 
 his .357 Magnum had been in his hand when he hit the ground, a
 reflexive feat of almost mystical proportions, considering that by 
 the time he'd become aware of the danger to himself, most of his
 processing hardware had become so much organic garbage heading west 
 at Mach 1.
 You've probably heard of Felton (National Academy of Science, IEEE 
 Past President, NRA sustaining member). My advisor told me later
 that Felton's academic peak had come at that now-infamous 1982
 Symposium on Data Encryption, when he presented the plaintext of the 
 encrypted challenge message that Rob Merkin had published earlier
 that year using his "phonebooth packing" trap-door algorithm. 
 According to my advisor, Felton wordlessly walked up to the
 chalkboard, wrote down the plaintext, cranked out the multiplies and 
 modulus operations by hand, and wrote down the result, which was
 obviously identical to the encrypted text Merkin had published in 
 CACM. Then, still without saying a word, he tossed the chalk over 
 his shoulder, spun around, drew and put a 158grain semi-wadcutter 
 right between Merkin's eyes. As the echoes from the shot
 reverberated through the room, he stood there, smoke drifting from 
 the muzzle of his .357 Magnum, and uttered the first words of the
 entire presentation: "Any questions?" There was a moment of stunned 
 silence, then the entire conference hall erupted in wild applause. 
 God, I wish I'd been there.