Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Okay, here's my cunning plan:
About five years ago, Oleg and I kicked around the idea of a book (or an ebook) that would combine his gorgeous firearms photography and my keyboard diarrhea into something with prettier pictures and less technical reading than the stuff from Collector's Armory, but more facts and more detail than the typical Salamander or Barnes & Noble coffee table book. For the last several years, though, talk is all it was; I just couldn't find the time to actually write.
With my recent transition from Merchant Of Death to Unemployed Bum, I decided to take advantage of the fact that I have a small monthly stipend that is large enough to keep a roof over my head and my cupboard full of Ramen Pride, and get some actual writing done. Most of what goes up at The Arms Room (except for the Sunday Smiths filler) is a sort of condensed book format of what the book will eventually feel like. I'm also finally making some progress on Better Killing, Incorporated, which has been percolating in my noggin for the better part of a decade now.
I'm hoping that by singing for my supper here at VFTP, the tip jars and AdSense will keep me from having to sell too much stuff before I finally go look for something low-stress and part-time that will leave me the time to finish the first project up and find a publisher. With any luck, I'll not have to go punch keys on a cash register 'til September or so. To those of you who have contributed (Amazon's tip thingy keeps it anonymous, so I'm not sure who you are,) a sincere "Thank You".
(...and a PS: I've got three swords I was about to list on eBay, all from Museum Replicas. Good carbon steel, never sharpened or sparred with, all in excellent shape. With the news from eBay yesterday, I'm all in a quandary. Do I boycott in righteous indignation? Anyone want a Gothic Bastard Sword, Swept-Hilt Rapier, and brass-hilted Dark Ages Sword? I've got a sword belt for the rapier, too. $150 ea, or $400 takes the trio, plus actual shipping costs... I figure I'll try here first before holding my nose and going to fleabay.)
Translation: "How many victims? And their families each have a lawyer. F&*#, that's a lotta lawsuits! We'd better be seen doing something proactive before they get the idea to come after us, too." The only "right thing" they are concerned with here is the kind that can be deposited in the bank.
Trust me, they've already crunched the numbers and have determined that firearms parts and reloading supplies net them only a tiny fraction of the revenue of, say, counterfeit Hello Kitty merchandise...
Who this is really going to affect is folks with old guns looking for repair parts. Maybe even more than Numrich, eBay was the place to go to look for that hand you needed for an Iver Johnson revolver or an extractor for a Frommer Stop.
Monday, July 30, 2007
When every argument you have can be easily refuted with facts hyperlinked by anyone with a browser, it makes your cause a tough sell on the Infobahn.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
"Remember, I've known you longer than your daughter has." :D
Does anybody believe that?
Then again, optimism causes folks to respond to 419 scams every day...
Capturing some 14-15,000 Bulgarian troops, Basil II of Byzantium had them blinded, but showed what a nice guy he was by ordering that one man out of every hundred be left one-eyed so that he could lead the other 99 home.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
I bet I could have gotten three seats free. (Actually, I bet I would have called ahead and reserved three together, but never mind that.) I would have approached a couple of my fellow business class passengers and said, "Excuse me, please. These three ladies are friends traveling together. Would you mind swapping seats with them so they can sit together for the flight? I'd really appreciate it." Failing the subtle and polite approach, I'd have asked my friend Ben Franklin if he'd help persuade them.
MILAN (Reuters) - A Qatar sheikh held up a British Airways flight at Milan's Linate airport for nearly three hours after discovering three of his female relatives had been seated next to men they did not know.When none of the other business class passengers agreed to swap seats...
I can't imagine what kind of colossal prick it took to get the entire complement of business class passengers turned against him, but I'll wager that it has something to do with his wishes not being phrased in the form of a cordial request.
This is, of course, ignoring the somewhat quaint nature of a faith that won't let a woman sit next to a strange man on an airplane because we might somehow get 'stranger cooties' or something.
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints...
-from "Tommy", by Rudyard Kipling
My fascination with military history and the soldiers who made it began at a young age. In my early teen years my mother would go down to the town square on Saturday mornings to make her circuit of the thrift shops. Just off the square was a dusty little storefront that dealt in militaria from the Civil War to the present, run by an older gentleman by the name of Mr. Woodlief. Soon my Saturday mornings became a ritual; while my mother did her rounds at St. Agnes' Attic, St. Gertrude's Garage, and St. Sophia's Spare Room, I was deposited under the watchful eye and curmudgeonly tutelage of Mr. Woodlief, eagerly soaking up the tales spun by the old man and his customers. One morning I received a lesson that was to remain with me to this day.
The tinkling of the door bells announced my weekly entry into the cocoon of musty history and dancing dust motes that was my Saturday hideaway. On Mr. Woodlief's display counter, illuminated in a shaft of watery winter sunlight through the fly-specked windows, was a dress dummy wearing the tunic of an officer in the Army Air Force of WWII. I stopped and stared, transfixed by the gleaming officer's insignia and the impressive rows of medal ribbons. "You like that?" asked Mr. Woodlief. "That was mine during the war."
He began to name the decorations, narrating a little story on the origins of each one. I stood agog, absorbing the information. He squinted at me. "So, can you believe all that?"
I nodded mutely.
"Don't be an idiot," snapped my mentor, "I made all that up. Don't believe some guy's stories just because he tells them, unless you know some kind of facts that can back them up."
Plying my trade in later years, this skepticism served me in good stead. I saw many German Luger pistols brought back from WWII. If their bearers were to be believed, every other one was taken from a dead Nazi general, complete with a "swastika armband" which now couldn't be found. Apparently the Western Front was manned by whole divisions of Luger-armed generals, whose "swastika armbands" must have surely hampered any attempts at camouflage. Similarly, every other Japanese military sword had an ill-defined smudge on it, which was of course dried blood, from where the former owner of the sword had decapitated the foxhole buddy of the sword's current bearer before being bested by Our Hero. As for Vietnam tales, such popular currency in those pre-Gulf War days, I resolved that I would just flatly disbelieve anyone who claimed to have served in a combat capacity unless their story rang particularly true or was supported by outside evidence; as best I can tell, the US military effort in Vietnam consisted of thousands upon thousands of Ranger Sniper Green Beret SeALs, supported by one cannon-cocker, one truck driver, one helicopter crew chief, and one guy running a radio at Tan Son Nhut.
For the better part of my adult life, I have worked in the company of soldiers and veterans. I have learned a lot from them, some good and some not so much. On the negative side of the ledger, my language has taken a pounding. People who only know me through my writing, which while still heavily colloquial, benefits from at least a modicum of editing, are sometimes shocked to find that in person I speak like Bea Arthur with Tourette's Syndrome. ("F__k", while impossible to use as a conjunction and hopelessly awkward in the adverbial, is so remarkably versatile in every other part of speech.) On the positive side, I have become conversant with the War Story (and its close cousins, the Sea Story and the Cop Story.) Many, however, are unaware of the lore and protocol surrounding these tales.
The first important thing about the War Story is being able to identify it, and to tell it apart from a Fairy Tale. This isn't as hard as it may at first seem. A Fairy Tale begins with "Once upon a time..." while a War Story starts out with "No shit, this really happened..." Next is the appropriate usage of the War Story. A War Story may be used to instruct the new guy, astound your friends and relatives back home, or get a free beer at a bar from fellow veterans. Lastly come the elaborate rules surrounding the War Story: 1) If you are in a rear area, and the War Story happened to anyone in your unit, and no one from your unit is present, you may claim the story happened to you; 2) If your buddy told you the story but it happened over one year ago or over one thousand miles away from your current location, you may claim it happened to you; 3) If there is anybody in earshot who can flatly contradict your War Story, you may not claim it happened to you. Telling your story to a national audience puts an awful lot of people in earshot.
Once upon a time, an up-and-coming movie director wrote a tale of Vietnam. His story, informed by his own experiences there, rang superficially true. However, as time went on many veterans of that conflict pointed out that the experiences his protagonist went through, while individually and separately occurring on occasion over the duration of that long conflict, would have been impossible for one man to experience in one unit on one tour. Oliver Stone had been caught telling War Stories.
It seems Oliver has a groupie.
(CNN) -- A police chase through the streets of downtown Phoenix turned into a midair tragedy Friday afternoon when two television news helicopters covering the action collided and crashed to the ground in smoke and flame, killing all four people on board.Hey, baby, if it falls flaming from the sky, it leads!
Friday, July 27, 2007
You're cheating yourself if you don't read it.
As someone who has had to make use of the professional services of their brethren and sistern more than once, it really, really makes me appreciate all those people do. (If you've never looked up a hazy black tunnel at the ceiling of an ambulance to hear an EMT yelling "Hey! Breathe, honey! Breathe!", I don't recommend the experience. They're swell people and all, but it's more fun to meet them socially.)
When confronted, he asserted he was not responsible. According to one report, "Professor Churchill has, on more than one occasion, claimed that certain acts that appear to have been his were instead the responsibility of some other actor: his editor or publisher, his assistant, or his former wife and collaborator.""I didn't fake the research! And those sock puppets weren't me! It was Sumdood!" Yeah. Sure.
(H/T to Zendo Deb.)
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Behold: Digital Fossils.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- A top South Korean envoy is headed to Afghanistan, scrambling to save 22 of his country's citizens held captive by Taliban kidnappers after the militants killed one hostage.I initially misread that. I thought for a second that it said "...after the mutants killed one hostage."
Incidentally, seeing the headline SKorea Races To Save 22 Hostages, I had visions of them sending the 707th Special Missions Battalion to settle some Taliban hash. Nope, turns out they're sending a negotiator.
"We will not use force against the militants to free the hostages," he said. "The best way in this case is dialogue."...Well, you tell 'em, Chun. That oughtta strike some fear in the heart of the Hadjis.
"We oppose military operations and there won't be military operations that we do not consent to," Chun said.
Have I found the message board for you.
"Cool," I think to myself, and so true. All the good stuff is borderline subversive. Heinlein, Bova, Pournelle... Even Poul Anderson is hardly what one could call a fan of monolithic government. This is leaving out the obvious polemics, like Alongside Night, The Probability Broach, and Kings of the High Frontier, which don't even attempt to disguise their contempt for the Nanny State.
This isn't what I found discussed in the article. Instead...
I realized that this is just one part of a larger trend within the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre since the Bush administration has taken office. I do not intend to connect people’s view of Bush with anti-government Sci-Fi/Fantasy movies and books, but rather will just use his ascension into office as a time period in which to examine.
Look, sprout, I'm here to tell you that government wasn't all marshmallow skies and gumpdrop mountains before Bush took over as the latest in a string of American presidents of varying degrees of crapitude running clear back to Herbert Hoover. (And before Coolidge, it's a long walk back to Jefferson.) If the Bush administration with its Patriot Acts and foreign wars is what it took to get you on the pro-freedom bandwagon, all well and good. But don't forget that ten years ago we weren't reading Harry Potter, we were reading Unintended Consequences.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
"I don't get paychecks from Bond movies."No, wait, that's not what he said. He said:
Bond is "an imperialist and he's a misogynist. He kills people and laughs and sips martinis and wisecracks about it,"Well, Matt, that's what people like about James Bond. They want the hero of their escapist fantasy to smoke a half dozen SMERSH heavies after an epic car/gondola/snowmobile/autogyro chase, make a joke, and get hammered on martinis. If they wanted their hero to be tortured in his soul after being forced to carry out his duty, they'd be reading the After Action Reviews and psychology articles in law enforcement trade magazines, not standing in line to get tickets for the latest Bond movie at the Cinema Gargantuplex. You want to know three more reasons why Bond is totally cooler than Bourne?
- Jason Bourne doesn't have an Aston Martin with machine guns in the bumpers and an ejector seat.
- Jason Bourne never chucked Richard Keel off a cable car.
- Jason Bourne never totally wiped out a secret underground base with an army of friggin' rappelling ninjas.
This is why people still go to James Bond movies after all these years. Sure, they're formulaic, but like Eleanor Ringel said "Going to a James Bond movie is like going to the zoo; either you're happy to see the giraffes again or you're not." Obviously, folks are still happy to see the giraffes.
French doctors are amazed that a 44-year-old civil servant with an abnormally small brain has led a normal life with a slightly lower than normal IQ, according to a report on Physorg.com.The article goes on to state that "the brain was virtually absent" and that the condition is rare, affecting about 1 in 25,000 live births.
You'll notice that it hasn't seemed to affect the man's career as a "civil servant". I believe that if they ran some bulk CT scans down at, say, the DMV or OSHA, they'd find the condition is a bit less rare than they think.
(H/T to War and Peace.)
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
(H/T to Dustbury.)
I know for sure that the round fired by the Glock 17 (their standard 9mm service pistol) fires the same round as the 9mm Beretta, the M9 (known in the civilian world as the 92… I know quite a bit about guns, and I have NEVER heard of a 9mm round with a “square back”. In fact, I’ve never heard of ANY centerfire cartridge with a squared-off rim. A square rim would screw up how the round would sit in the magazine, and how it would feed into the chamber. The only “square” “cartridges” I’ve ever heard of came with caseless rounds, and weapons using caseless ammunition is so complex that it has yet to be fielded in any form.Now, when I read that, I knew immediately what the writer meant. On the back of the shell casing is the primer. When it strikes the primer, the firing pin leaves a mark. Glocks use a striker with a rectangular (or "square") cross-section, unlike pretty much every other pistol on the planet, which all use a round firing pin.
I could walk onto a commercial firing range littered knee-deep in spent 9mm shell casings, pick one up, and immediately tell if it was fired from a Glock by the rectangular firing pin imprint on the primer (or "square back" in non-technicalese).
Let's be careful to stick to debunking the factoids we're sure of, okay?
I'm no Oleg Volk, and I apologize for the crappy picture quality, but on the left is a round of .357SIG brass from a Glock 33, and on the right is a .40S&W shell casing from a Beretta 96. Note the squarish outline to the primer strike on the left-hand shell casing as opposed to the round dimple on the right.
It wasn't until today that I backed out the magnification a bit and noticed that the "out-of-season" segment containing VFTP Command Central was a large strip that included most of the Y-12 complex out at Oak Ridge. You think that might have anything to do with it?
Boy, the name alone tells you everything you need to know about the law, its future consequences, and the mentality of the jackanapes and scoundrels who penned it.
Monday, July 23, 2007
...and it won't eavesdrop for The Man.
(H/T to Unc.)
Better, I think I got a copy of Might & Magic I up and running on the PowerBook 190. We've successfully generated characters; we'll give the gameplay the actual smoke test tomorrow. If the '040-powered 190 is too swoopy for the archaic software, we'll just have to use the Mac SE.
I have discovered that what was fun then is still fun now; if the game was only cool for its bling, it doesn't age well, but solidly fun gameplay is solidly fun gameplay. You know, it's been a long time since I played Zork. I'll bet it's still a hoot...
Sunday, July 22, 2007
We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you...
-from "Tommy", by Rudyard Kipling
The most recent steaming pile of "Anonymous Tell-All From Iraq" proffered by The New Republic (and already ripped by the The Weekly Standard, among others,) is going to be lapped up by its echo-chamber audience because it caters to one of two mutually-contradictory myths that they hold near and dear to their hearts; two myths that positively grind me to a halt.
The first myth, and the one not played up to by this latest laugher, is the Young Republican Chickenhawk Myth. Simply stated, it runs that the U.S. military should be brought home out of pity because it is populated by the dregs of society, uneducated dropouts from the wrong side of the track with room temperature IQ's and fewer prospects for a rosy future than the Washington Nationals, and who deserve our sympathy for being forced to fight a war to benefit the wealthy and educated children of privilege. The other myth, the one catered to here, is that of Soldier-As-Barbarian; a psychotic killer who has finally found in the U.S. military and its immoral war a family of peers and a stage for his depravity.
Compelling myths, especially if you don't know any actual soldiers. Any tales that bolster these myths are going to be believable to the echo-chamber denizen, accustomed as he or she is to being fed The Truth from Reliable Sources. For people who love their "Question Authority" tee shirts so much, they don't seem to actually do an awful lot of it; witness how little Questioning Jesse Macbeth initially got on claiming to be an Authority on Iraq.
These distorted views piss me off so badly because they spurn the reality of the soldiers and airmen I know, the ones I call my friends. An infantry mortarman working on his Master's in history; a man who gave up the pay of a nuclear physicist to go back into the army as an E-5 in the infantry after 9/11; an MP NCO college student whose father-in-law is a district attorney: are these the disenfranchised, uneducated proles dragooned into fighting for The Man? A career senior NCO with a degree in Theater and a love for the poetry of Khalil Gibran; an infantryman trained as a gourmet chef: These are the vulgar barbarians I'm to scorn?
Before trying to concoct myths, you should spend some time in the company of actual soldiers. Actually knowing a soldier other than the ones you saw on the screen in Platoon or Jarhead would make your myths so much more believable. Of course, actually knowing a soldier might make you pause before concocting your myths in the first place.
I read the first book a few years ago. It was okay, I guess, but it certainly didn't have me running out to buy the rest. Last night, chatting amongst the crew here at Oleg's, I brought this up. One of the guests remarked that he'd had to read the first three books when he was in high school, "back in the day."
"If you were reading Harry Potter books in high school," I replied, "it was not 'back in the day'."
"Well, we had the choice of reading them, or re-reading How To Kill A Mockingbird."
I stood there stunned and blinking, as politely as I could, and very carefully did not say "I weep for the future of America."
The great excuse for the existence of the series is that "They get kids to read books." This is weak tea to someone whose unabridged paperback copy of Kipling's The Jungle Book was held together with a rubber band before she was in second grade; I mean, comic books get kids to read, too, but nobody's holding up The Uncanny X-Men as a classic of Western Literature.
Or if they are, I don't want to know about it. Please.
(And since when has Morocco been stable enough to be sending peacekeeping troops?)
Of course they are. How can you expect otherwise in a world where Marx is presented to students in Econ courses rather than in Comparative Religion?
Cynical and misanthropic as I am, I’m still regularly amazed by the profound, widespread ignorance of economics displayed by otherwise intelligent, educated people. Granted, I was an econ major so I naturally think that MY field is especially important; hell, I’m sure even the sociology nutjobs manage to convince themselves that what they study has some relevance. But really, economic forces have a tremendous influence on just about every facet of your life: what you do, where you live, how many kids you have, and, as the recent insanity over corn-based ethanol production illustrates, what you put in your belly and your gas tank.
I was watching the promotional clip for Brainwashing 101 that I found saved on my machine at home the other day. There is a college professor interviewed in that film that looks sincerely into the camera and discusses how all the cutting edge strides in economics today are being made in "black political economy" and "feminist economy", as though supply had a race and demand cared about your gender. With crap like that being taught, is it any wonder that ignorance abounds?
Saturday, July 21, 2007
A couple of minutes ago, I'm sitting here at Oleg's surrounded by preparations to go to the range. Next thing I know, Oleg's handing me his cell phone. It's my downstairs neighbor. There's a Charter tech there claiming he needs authorization from someone in order to bill me $49 to "fix the self-install" before he can begin work.
"Let me talk to him. ... Hello?"
"Yes, I'm here to fix a self-install. The charge is $49. I ne..."
"There's nothing wrong with the install."
"My sheet says tha..."
"Look, the modem's installed right where I installed the last Charter cable modem; plugged into the same outlet, hooked up to the same cable jack, connected to the same wireless router."
"Yes, well maybe the..."
"They were supposed to send a line tech out on Tuesday to see if everything was hooked up correctly after the septic tank guys cut the cable. You think that might have anything to do with it?"
"I was installing internal 1200 baud modems in Turbo XT's while you were still singing along with Barney; I was working in BellSouth's DSL help center while you were still worried about girl cooties; this ain't my first rodeo. Can you just make sure I get a line tech out here on Tuesday?"
"I can't schedule that. You'll need to call the toll-free service number."
Which is back in Knoxville, where I ain't.
He hung up. I felt muscles knot and veins pound.
"Oleg, please take your cell phone out of my hand before I throw it. Thank you."
I didn't go along to the range with the rest of the crew; it's hard to have fun when you're this upset.
Yet this makes me mad.
This is what it's come to. This is where the Republic has wound up; a never-ending quest for suitably unpopular activities to tax into oblivion to pay for ill-thought, graft- and incompetence-riddled, un-Constitutional programs that exist merely to buy votes from the soft of heart and soft of head.
Congress -- meeting in smoke-free rooms -- is looking for an extra $35 billion to $50 billion for the state children's health insurance program [which is none of Congress's business according to the Constitution] and hopes to raise most of it through excise taxes on products like tobacco.
There is currently 4.8 cents-per-cigar tax cap but under the proposed bill, taxes on "large cigars," a category that includes all but the tiny cigars sold in packs of 20 like cigarettes, would rise to 53 percent.
A version of the bill being considered by the Senate Finance Committee sets the maximum tax per cigar at $10.
...and 225/45 17's aren't cheap.
Watch this space for some great deals on some of my swords when I get home. :(
I had one or two adolescent encounters (and I say "adolescent" from my current viewpoint; I would have bristled at the term when I was 19...) that resulted in the expected bout of yelling at my shoes. As a result, I couldn't stand the stuff for years. I think the necessary sea change came when I was living with my ex. We were both inveterate computer gamers, and he was a serious coffee drinker. Add the two together, and between the two of us several pots of coffee could vanish in the course of a Friday or Saturday, my share of which was drunk black.
"Bitter" is not a taste sensation the young normally seek out, but several zillion cups of black coffee will make you a connoisseur of bitter. Good coffee bitter. Bad coffee bitter. This-coffee-is-burned bitter... A year later, after a sweltering summer day working at the gun shop, which was in a tin-roofed building with two glass walls and no A/C, my boss offered me a beer after we'd shut down. I seem to recall it was a Miller Genuine Draft in a bottle. I remember it was very cold, and very wet, and boy did it hit the spot. And hey, it didn't even taste bad!
Still, it remained a hot weather beverage for me. Nothing I'd seek out for the taste, specifically, mind you. It was another couple years until a friend introduced me to Whitbread Ale on draft at a local pub. This was actually tasty; something you'd drink just for the pleasure of drinking it, not just to cool off on a hot day. From there, it was a just a short hop to Bass and Sweetwater 420 IPA, Mendocino White Hawk and Stone Ruination, IPA's and Barleywines.
Anyhow, Matt, that's how it happened for me.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Guess who couldn't post her biggest post yet? Yeah, right in one.
But plan on seeing a magnum opus on the Swiss Schmidt-Rubin 96/11 about five minutes after the Charter guy leaves.
So, Wednesday's posts were a colossal pain in the buttocks to type. Apparently all the connectivity I've had of late has been poached off a neighbor's WiFi. And spotty connectivity it's been, too. To get those posts onto the intarw3bz Wednesday required using the "repair connection" wizard every thirty seconds and rebooting the wireless LAN card twice. Then the network just gave me the finger and went away for good. Festive.
So the next morning I sucked it up and drove to the local Charter office, exchanging money I don't have for a modem of my very own. ("No thank you, I don't want premium digital cable. No basic cable either. No cable TeeVee at all, as a matter of fact. I don't care how much money I'll be saving on the package, since I don't have a, you know, actual television on which to watch the crap.") I got home and called the techies to let them know that I had hooked up the modem, and would they please provision my account?
Guess what? Problem with the wiring, and their service guys are pretty busy. Would Tuesday be okay with me?
"Would threatening to come down there and shoot people in the kneecaps until my intarw3bz are up and running speed things up? No? I guess Tuesday will be fine then..."
"Hello?" (Said with slight Russian accent.)
"Hey, Oleg! Mind if I come borrow your couch and your WiFi for a day or so? Yes, again."
Ever feel like the fates are really pissed at you for something? Le Sigh.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Before the main event at the World of Wally, I had to swing by Borders. You see, I've been re-reading (for, like, the third time) Michael Curtis Ford's The Ten Thousand which is, along with his Gods And Legions, one of my favorite historical novels. I mentioned this on my blog yesterday, and look who turned up in the comments section. When an author comments on your blog, you have to go buy one of his books. That's a rule, I think. So I picked up a copy of The Sword Of Attila, which appears to revolve around Aetius, one of the most interesting figures of late Imperial history, and is therefore pretty much guaranteed to be an enjoyable read.
Then off to Wally World for shelving. Finally having some free time on my hands, VFTP Command Central is being converted from the place where I sleep back to the place where I live. One shelving unit was of the large, black, plastic, ventilated kind to go directly behind my desk chair and serve as a rack for the PowerBook museum I have inadvertently started. Horse trading with Marko yesterday netted me a 1400 and a 2400c, and I had earlier traded him out of a longtime dream machine of mine, a G3 Wall Street. So now all the Mac laptops have a home, and I've run an extension cord up behind it so that I can keep the ones I use regularly all charged up. The other shelving unit was for DVDs, which didn't anywhere near fill it. Clever bookends had to be used, such as a neat bronze statue of a Spartan hoplite and the cup-type grenade launcher for a World War One British Lee-Enfield rifle. Old boxes are getting hauled off, things are getting sorted onto shelves, and it's starting to look like home again for the first time in the last three years or so.
Emperor Nero immediately invented urban renewal, and advanced the sciences of eminent domain abuse and arson-for-profit by giant leaps, when he scarfed up all the primo land at fire sale prices and used the acreage to build a palace fitting for his imperial self. (Which is to say that it looked about three fifths Versailles, one fifth rap star, and one fifth just plain bizarre.) Then he blamed some whacky fringe cult and set some of them on fire, too.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
So, being smart, anyone can see that you need to put your corn into corn squeezins, and not Fritos; at least you do if you want any of that sweet, sweet government candy. Only that makes the price of Fritos go up. And now we can't afford to send any Fritos to Chad to keep people there from starving. Whoops.
Imagine, government meddling with the market via subsidies distorts pricing and causes problems.
Who could have seen that coming?
Normally in summer, I don't make much use of the landing at the top of the stairs. Summers are fairly buggy here on the lake, and this one had been buggier than usual. More bugs means more spiders. I'm not fond of spiders at all, but I reach a sort of modus vivendi with them in the summer months: as long as they eat bugs and don't build webs where I run into them, I let them live. (Also, they should attempt to not be gross looking and should always avoid my observation, but I try to be tolerant.) This means that by mid-July, the landing at the top of the stairs is pretty well swathed in spiderwebs, so I stand rather still while reading to avoid being forced into a spider-killing frenzy by touching a web.
Anyway, I'm standing there reading, when I catch movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked up in time to realize that I was about to be divebombed by the holy crap, no-kidding, biggest damn bug I have ever seen outside of a museum. I'd like to take this moment to apologize to my neighbors, as well as probably folks as far away as Sevierville, for the big girly shriek, followed immediately by the loudly slamming door, as I dove for cover. When it hit the door behind me (and it did; it was coming right for me,) it rattled the glass in the pane. This thing was huge. Gynormous. Whamdigeous. It had to be seven inches across the wings, and its body was as big as my thumb. It could have carried a regular moth under each wing, and a good-sized Luna on a centerline pylon.
I never saw it fly off.
It might still be waiting for me out there.
Jeez, I hate big bugs.
Monday, July 16, 2007
That is, it was the star, until a guy brought in what looked like a brass-based paper towel tube. It was labeled "0 Gauge", and was the shell from a breechloading punt gun from back in the days of market hunting. You could have dropped the 4 Bore and the .50 BMG down in there, added a .600 Nitro Express and a .458 Win Mag for good measure, and rattled them around like beans in a maraca.
Xavier has video of a sidehammer punt gun being fired.
So I've got 1600-something posts here. I'd have probably twice that number if everything that came into my head got put down. I'll be wandering about the apartment and the idea for something to write will pop into my head. I'll grab my book & beer and go sit on the porch, the book forgotten as I write and rewrite the post in my head. I know it'll be good if I make myself chuckle.
Finally, with a smile, I know I've got it right. As soon as I finish this beer and this chapter, I'll go write it. Dang, this book is good. Well, maybe one more chapter. Hmmm. My beer is empty; I'll go fetch another. Is it getting dark out? And then I go upstairs and sit in front of VFTP Command Central and... what was it I was going to write about? Crap, better just throw a goofy Simpson's avatar in there as filler.
Anyhow, this morning it hit me... Did you know (and I'm not making this up) that there is a program in Windows called "Notepad"? Really, it's true. And using this program, you could make a file called something like "Post Topics" or "Writing Ideas" and put it right on your desktop, and every time you had an idea for a post, you could write it there using just a sentence or a couple words to jog your memory. Then when you wrote the actual post, you could cross it off the list. I swear to you, this is true. I know this, because I just crossed off "I'm an idiot for not making notes".
All the other kids were doing it.
("If the other kids were jumping off a bridge, would you?"
"How many other kids?")
There was no apparent way to do the pony tail through the ballcap thing. How bitter was I?
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Gunsmith Bob: "What's so funny?"
Me: "The ambassador from the Persian emperor says I should be punished for my insolence."
Gunsmith Bob: "Sometimes I think you should be punished for your insolence."
Me: "Good luck with that to both of you; I just invented ironclads."
Bailey Goodman was driving her friends to her parents' vacation home when her SUV, which had just passed a car, swerved back into oncoming traffic, hit a tractor-trailer and burst into flames. Five days earlier, the five teenagers had graduated together from high school in Fairport, a Rochester suburb.
Goodman's inexperience at the wheel; evidence she was driving above the speed limit at night on a winding, two-lane highway; and a succession of calls and text messages on her phone were cited Friday by Sheriff Phil Povero as possible factors in the June 28 crash in western New York.
"The records indicate her phone was in use," Povero said. "We will never be able to clearly state that she was the one doing the text messaging.
Go and read it.
Un provoked, out of nowhere I hear “that is not an appropriate shirt.”
Not thinking it could be directed at little old me I sample some of the bruschetta (tasty, but it could use some olives), when I hear “and you have a baby with you, disgusting.”
At that, I turn around: “Can I help you?”
1) Driving to Nashville, I get 30-31mpg running the A/C most of the way. Coming back to Knoxville, I only get about 28 over the same route. This is because I-40 westbound takes a brief, steep climb up out of the Tennessee river valley west of Oak Ridge, and then generally trends downhill the rest of the way to Nashville. On the return leg, it's the reverse.
2) Temperature in Nashville: 91 degrees. Temperature in Knoxville, down in the valley: 91 degrees. Temperature up on the Cumberland Plateau between the two: 85 degrees.
3) It took me a bit to realize why it got dark earlier in Nashville. I'd be sitting on Oleg's back porch reading a book and suddenly look around bewildered, "Huh? It's barely 8 o'clock. Why's it dark already?" Nashville is towards the very eastern edge of the Central Time Zone, while Knoxville is at the far western edge of the Eastern Time Zone. This accounts for the sun setting 50 minutes later in Knoxville than it does in Nash Vegas.
I tell you, it's heartwarming little human interest stories like this one that make me want to go shopping for surplus armored fighting vehicles. When you snap, you want to do it with style. "I don't know, officer. This M2 half-track just came out of nowhere and ground every ramp in the skateboard park to kindling under its treads and then drove off. I swear I heard some lady cackling her head off from inside the vehicle, though..."
Saturday, July 14, 2007
There's no bread, let them eat cake
There's no end to what they'll take
Flaunt the fruits of noble birth
Wash the salt into the earth
But they're marching to Bastille Day
La guillotine will claim her bloody prize
Free the dungeons of the innocent
The king will kneel and let his kingdom rise
Bloodstained velvet, dirty lace
Naked fear on every face
See them bow their heads to die
As we would bow as they rode by
And we're marching to Bastille Day
La guillotine will claim her bloody prize
Sing, oh choirs of cacophony
The king has kneeled, to let his kingdom rise
Lessons taught but never learned
All around us anger burns
Guide the future by the past
Long ago the mould was cast
For they marched up to Bastille Day
La guillotine claimed her bloody prize
Hear the echoes of the centuries
Power isn't all that money buys
If you make a point of playing it in the morning every July 14th, you're a geek. Welcome to the club. :)
Friday, July 13, 2007
"Got a reasonably priced WWI German Gewehr 98 bayonet?"
"Arisaka bayonet. WWII vintage. Got one?"
"Do you have a cheap Garand bayonet I can use to cover up the lug until I can afford a good one?"
"How're you fixed for Argentine Mauser bayonets?"
"Bayonet. Azerbaijani M1887 Mauser. How much?"
Okay, I just made that last one up. Still, he was batting 1.000 until this most recent show when I asked "Do you have any bayonets for a Brazilian 1908/34 Mauser?"
*Rummage* *Rummage* *Dig*
"Nope. Not here; I'll bring one next show."
I was floored. Anyhow, I did some digging around on the intarw3bz to get an idea of what I'd be looking at, price-wise. (Don't worry, I'm not going to cheat on him. He said he'd bring one; I'll buy it from him.) While surfing, I came to the site that is the point of this post. ("Point". Ha, ha. Get it? I kill me...)
"ebayonet". That is just too clever for words. Wish I'd thought of it...
"...neither of you are concerned about other’s [sic] safety, when it comes to gun crimes & violence. All you care about are your access to guns ~ and such selfishness comes through loud & clear buddy."You know what? You hit it right on the head. I am not concerned one iota with your safety. After all, I don't know you from Adam's housecat, so how does your fate affect me? I am, however, concerned with the safety of myself and the people I do know and care about, and I care about access to firearms as a means of securing that safety.
Do you know what the difference is between you and I? I don't pretend to care about your safety. My selfishness is out in the open for all to see. You see, you don't care about my safety either. You say you do, of course, but that's not why you want my guns gone. You want my guns gone because the only safety you care about is your own, and yet you refuse to take any personal responsibility for it. Your faux concern for my safety is merely a fig leaf for your own pusillanimity.
Let's ignore for the moment the fact that you could roam the scepter'd isle from Wick to Land's End and not scare up enough honest-to-Falwell beer guts to fill the first row of seats in the bleachers at Darlington; our man has determined that there is a problem, and Something Should Be Done about it. That Something, of course, should take the form of social engineering via taxation. Backed up by .pdf's full of charts and no-doubt-snappy PowerPoint presentations, our do-gooding crusaders claim that as many as 3,200 lives could be saved annually by this scheme.
Call me a misanthrope, but I'd have a hard time making a list of 32 lives that need saving, let alone 3,200. And I'd have an even harder time thinking of 32 that would be worth saving if the cost meant expanding the confiscatory powers of the government. "Well, Aunt Bessie, they say you'd have another three years if I agree to the tax on the Pringles... Sorry 'bout that." This is what taxation has come to in the declining years of the Western Welfare State. There's not even a pretense of it having anything to do with revenue anymore; it's all about control.
The most important question here, though, is where do they get off thinking that it's any of their business what you put in your mouth? So it's not healthy; so what? If you want to pour yourself a nice, frosty mug of battery acid and down it in one gulp, how is that any business of mine, let alone some faceless drone in the government? "Don't put that in your mouth!" is something you tell your three year old, not a middle-aged father of four.
There's a flip side to this, of course. If you do subsist on a diet consisting solely of Schlitz and double bacon cheese greaseburgers and go into cardiac vapor lock at age 34, don't come crying to me; I didn't force them down your throat. But that's a subject for another post...
(Hat Tip to B&N.)
Thursday, July 12, 2007
The battle for Iwo Jima is one of the most epic battles of all time. 30,000 Marines went ashore on D-Day, hitting the beaches of an island defended by over 21,000 Japanese troops. For those who are not students of military science or military history, it is accepted as a general maxim that at least 3:1 odds are preferred when attacking an enemy in prepared positions. When all was said and done, the Marines had suffered more than 25,000 KIA and WIA, seeing 75% casualties in many infantry units. Of the 21,000 Japanese defenders, 250 surrendered. The rest fell in combat. Again for the unfamiliar, the standard rule of thumb is that a unit is rendered hors d' combat when it has taken 30% casualties. Twenty-seven Medals of Honor were awarded to American fighting men on Iwo in slightly over one month. The island had a total area of eight square miles. This is out of a total of 464 for the entire US Armed Forces in WWII over the entire globe between 12/41 and 8/45.
I'm only about a third of the way into it, but this is definitely a great read.
A quick chat with the guy at the counter, and I was pointed to Lost Coast Brewery's Indica IPA.
Dang. This is pretty good stuff! Matt should try it, since he likes the Dogfish Head IPAs so much.
Well, New York Assemblywoman Eddington (Dolt-3rd District) knows where she can get some. Naturally, you have to launch them out of a .50 caliber
(Really, y'all, watch the video; the woman's shrill naivety, her malevolent ignorance, is simply breathtaking. It's a wonder she doesn't starve from forgetting which end of the spoon goes in her mouth. Also note that the rifle in question is the single shot AR-50, which the President of Armalite has stated has never even been sold to the military.)
Josh works at an institute of higher learning in California; we have those here in Tennessee, too. And while our Department of Differently-Abled Wymyn Of Color Studies may not be what he's used to at Patrice Lumumba U., we do have Glenn Reynolds.
Hm. "Move To Tennessee, Get An AR." I wonder who else we could go entice with this plan? I got yer Chamber of Commerce right here.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
A two-page color glossy photo of Jim Zumbo blazing away with a stubby M-16 variant on full auto, grinning like a kid on Christmas morning.
The accompanying nine-page article covered the whole back story of the Zumbo/Outdoor Life debacle from Mr. Zumbo's point of view; his current, much-changed feelings on the topic; and the results of him taking a tactical carbine course from none other than Pat Rogers. I started the article with, I admit, a bit of a smirk on my face, and finished it with a grin only slightly smaller than the one Mr. Zumbo was wearing while he let rip with the buzz gun. Thank you, Mr. Zumbo. And thank you Ted Nugent, Denny Hansen, Pat Rogers, and Rich Lucibella. This was one of the most happy-making things I've read in a while.
If y'all blog readers don't subscribe, you should, or at least pick up a trophy copy on the news stands when it shows up there soon. Behold the power of the intaw3bz, indeed... :)
...for what is, in essence, a Pentium I-class machine. Swoopy case design, though. And hand-stitched Italian glove leather palm rests. The Bose sound system kicks, too. Someone should go buy it.
The pièce de résistance? The trackpad is detachable, and its little cord spools into a recess on the underside of the keyboard. If you detach and deploy it, there's another little recess under the keyboard that contains a leather covered piece contoured to fill the gap left by the track pad. That's just ever so slick. Ten years later, and the machine still looks like a science fiction movie prop...
If you didn't notice the dust on the PDA, and the fact that the P4 was doing nothing but web surfing while the Performa was idling away at a game of Civ II, you might think I was actually getting stuff accomplished. Wotan knows the setup sure looks productive.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
I'd rather everybody in this country got killed by meth-crazed biker hoodlums tomorrow than continue this inanity that goes on in the name of stopping the substance. The cure is much much much much worse than the disease.Thank god that oxygen isn't used in making meth, or the damn DEA would issue an administrative ruling making it a felony to breathe.
The liberties that have been taken by the government to fight meth make the darkest days of the "crack epidemic" look like the Libertarian Party platform...
Now that I've got Google's attention, I wonder how low a package deal containing a .300 Fireball upper and a matching can could be priced and still remain profitable? I wonder how many people would be interested?
Discuss amongst yourselves; I'll see if I can't point certain people towards this post if it seems to arouse any interest...
1) Republicans wanted to outlaw fun, but would leave your money alone.
2) Democrats would make fun legal, but would take all your money so you couldn't afford to have any.
3) Republicans got caught in other people's bank accounts.
4) Democrats got caught in other people's pants.
Now politicians can't even get their scandals right: Louisiana has a Democrat Congressman who got busted for a financial scandal, and now they have a GOP Senator caught up in an illicit nookie scandal.
What's this world coming to?
Flashback to a conversation earlier that day:
Me: "So do you remember if that Performa 636CD had any problems? I don't think I ever booted it up."
Marko: "No, it was working when I tried it out back then. I think the battery on the motherboard is dead, though."
Me: "Cool. I'm going to hook it up tonight."
Lug. Sweat. Grunt. Heave. Whine. Poke. Bonggggg! Chime. Happy Mac. Cool!
The computer that had sat untouched in a corner for over five years ground to life. I poked around on the hard drive and, Hey! Presto! It has Civilization II loaded! I sat up 'til the wee hours last night playing one of the best computer games ever on a computer that required no shortcuts, workarounds, or kludges to run it. I think I'll leave the machine set up on the desk for that reason alone. Is any other reason really needed?
And the reason I've never joined in is because on this day in 1985, without waiting for UN permission or seeking any kind of world consensus or anything, the Frogs sank the hell out of that floating Greenpeace annoyance, the Rainbow Warrior. Anybody who sends a barge full of hippies to Davy Jones' locker can't be all bad.
I think I'll have some brie.
Monday, July 09, 2007
I've got the CD single in the drive right now. Incidentally, the opening lines should begin "Soon I discovered that this rock thing was true. Jerry Lee Lewis was the devil. Jesus was an architect, previous to his career as a prophet..." They're abbreviated in the video because the video is set to the mix on the CD called the [Short, Pusillanimous, So-They-Can-Fit-More-Commercials-On-The-Radio Edit]. Sixteen years later, it still makes me want to go drive. The back of the tee shirt says, in bold, black, sans-serif caps, "No Man With A Good Car Needs To Be Justified." I dread the day that shirt starts falling apart...
(For the gearhead geek, the engine on the t-shirt and CD cover is a late-'60s Mopar 440 Six-Pack.)
H/T to SayUncle.
I expect to now go to the science page and see "Black hole gets denser" or "New, wetter water".
With any luck, both sides are busy enough with the hatin' that they forget to do any legislatin'. The next best thing to no government is a gridlocked one.
Sunday, July 08, 2007
#1: A short trigger. These are available from pretty much every aftermarket trigger manufacturer. I'm partial to STI, but Greider makes a nice unit if you don't want a polycarbonate trigger pad.
#2: A flat mainspring housing. I like Smith & Alexander because I like lanyard loops (which can be used to open bottles.) I've also had good luck with Ed Brown's part.
#3: Slim grips. These will require slim grip screw bushings and short screws. As an alternative, Navidrex offers coke-bottle contoured slim grips that will allow you to use the factory screws and bushings.
Et voila! A 1911 set up for the small of hand.
Avoid putting an extended slide stop on the gun. These are too easy to hit by accident with the support-side thumb while shooting, plus their increased mass can give them enough inertia to lock the slide during normal cycling. Nothing screams "teh n00b" like an extended slide stop on a 1911.
The iBorgs showed up in his comments section, sounding very Microsoftish with their "It's not a bug, it's a feature!" claims for the lack of battery swappage on the new iPhone, and pointing out that the iPod was this way, too. This ignores the fact that if your iPod batteries go dead, the worst that happens is you can't use your Super Walkman for a couple of days. The iPhone, on the other hand, is touted as a device to run your whole fricken' life; if it goes Tango Uniform, the consequences are much, much worse. There are plenty of people out there who don't even have land lines anymore; if they need to ship their iWidget off for battery replacement, they are well and truly screwed until it gets back: incommunicado, with their phone directory gone so they can't even call folks and tell them why they can't talk to them.
I really like Apple products for the most part. I collect old Macs. I paid over a grand for a TAM on ebay back in '03, coming out on top in a three-way bidding war. It was built in '97 and I still use it as a bookshelf stereo. I could probably get my money back out of it right now, too. By contrast, the Compaq Presario I owned back in '97 is probably in a landfill someplace. In 2001, I was looking to buy a portable DVD player. Most of them on the market back then were selling for about $1k. I bought a used iBook instead for about the same price; it's the computer I was posting on from Oleg's, having performed yeoman service for six years now far above and beyond its original duties as a gadget for watching movies on roadtrips.
Macs have always been solidly built, and their design has always inspired bizarrely cult-like loyalty. I mean, I love my Color Classic, but not like this guy does. However the iBattery thing is just the latest in a string of "WTF were they thinking?" moves that have been with us since the Mac debuted on my birthday in 1984. Take the Mac's mouse. Please. I know they claim they have reasons for it, and clinging to the archaic one-button setup is probably single-handedly responsible for the existence of Logitech, but have you ever seen anybody offer a one-button unit for Wintel machines? I rest my case.
Another annoyance is the Mac's keyboard. Every time I transition from my home machine, a Wintel P4 tower, to the iBook, I have to remember that I no longer have both "delete" and "backspace" keys, and that "delete" now means "backspace". Again, has anybody ever offered a simplified Mac-like keyboard for Wintel machines? No, but you can buy lots of zillion-key Wintel-type keyboards for your Mac.
The worst thing, though, is the fans. The iBorgs. I mean, does the bunker mentality come free in the box, or do they ship it to you after you've sent in the registration card? It's the same reason I have a cordial dislike for Glocks; the product may be adequate, but if you use it, people might think you're one of them, and I'm just not ready to join The Collective, thankyouverymuch.
(A PS: I would like to clear up one point, however. KdT got some digs in on TD's work in firing up his old NeXTstation, poking especial fun at this:
NEXSTEP, by the way, was the first operating system shipped on CD-ROM. NeXT computers, though, did not come with CD-ROM drives.It should be pointed out here that the NeXT was not a home computer, but a business workstation intended to operate on a network. The reason it had no external media drives is so that Suzy Secretary or Joe Accountant or Eddie Engineer wouldn't go sticking floppies or CDs with virus-filled, buggy Mahjongg games and Star Trek screen savers into their work computer. If software needed to be loaded, it'd come from the server. If the OS needed to be re-installed, some guy from IT would trot down with an external CD-ROM drive and install it. In other words, it was designed to keep the end user from dicking around with things with which they had no business dicking around, something that every IT guy who supports an office full of Wintel machines would heartily applaud.)