Monday, February 28, 2011

Because misery loves company...

...I would like to present you with this morning's earworm, which can be found here at Brian J. Noggle's.

If you bop into the office today singing that jingle out loud, it's totally your own fault.

Lowered expectations.

Harry Turtledove, Mr. Alternate History, is an unbelievably prolific writer, who turns out fat novels at a brisk clip. Given that output level, his batting average of about .600 is pretty good.

I'm currently reading Days of Infamy and End of the Beginning, a tale of WWII where the Japanese follow up the air raid on Pearl Harbor with landing a couple divisions of troops on Oahu. It's a pretty good read, and by the second book, you get a really good look at the whole "Arsenal of Democracy" thing. For example, bear in mind that between 1942 and 1945 the USA launched far more aircraft carriers than every nation on Earth, including the US, has launched outside of that three-year span.

Meanwhile, here in 2011, Congress just finished up awarding a contract for a next-generation tanker aircraft. It featured some nasty political logrolling, because the contract was supposed to guarantee tens of thousands of jobs in the congressional district that wound up building the 18-plane run.

18 planes. That wasn't quite a day's output at the Willow Run plant during WWII, where they churned out a bomber an hour...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The free ice cream machine was down for maintenance today...

I took an Intarw3bz Sabbatical Day today.

Mostly I chilled and read a book on the front porch, whined about the boo-boo on my finger, and went to a fantastic blogmeet at the Monon Food Company, complete with special guests from Mordor to the west...

(Seeing Don Gwinn in meatspace is funny, because I've known him for, like, ten years on the intertubes, so it's always hard to remember I've only seen him in real life twice. There are people I wave at every day that I don't feel I know as well...)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Throwing random stuff in the free ice cream machine:

From around the intertubes:
  • On Twitter: "Well, Mr. Christian, we're all out of rum and the lash is broken; you know what that leaves..."
  • On Facebook: People will continue using "anarchy" when they mean "chaos" and "enormity" when they mean "enormousness", and I will continue being annoyed by it. ;)
  • Dodging Dunning-Kruger: When I go to gun school or shoot in a match, my goal is to not set myself on fire and to not come in dead last in the match or be the remedial student in the class. That way, any result better than that and I'm tickled pink.

Things I Never Thought I'd Worry About, #16863

I cannot access Twitter. How the heck am I supposed to whine to the world about the boo-boo on my finger in 140 characters or less?

Friday, February 25, 2011

The best comment thread the internet has ever seen...

"As much as I hate the recent developments at the Ministry of Love, I feel sorry for most Inner Party reeducation technicians..."
Go read the megatons of snark!

Srsly. Go read.

We're winning.

Holy cow, a positive story on women taking combat pistol classes... on a New York City TV channel!

Watch out for flying pigs on the way in to work this morning...

Faux Smelly.

Here's a detail of the markings on the buttstock socket of a bogus Lee-Enfield Mk.III*. Note how the crown is kinda crudely drawn and looks "washed out" in the center. Also note the sans-serif font used, the lack of the "ShtLE" designator, the unevenly stamped numbers in the date and the way the Roman numeral "III" is made from a single stamp and not three separate "I's". (Further, a purportedly wartime gun with no magazine cutoff or volley sights would be marked "III*"...)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Feel-good family hit of the summer!

Having finished Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin while I was out of town last weekend, I'm now working on Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization.

Sure, the author's a hippie pacifist who doesn't believe in any such thing as a just war, not even to stop the Nazis, but it's a handy reminder that there was plenty of nastiness to go around in the Big War, and "But they started it!" sometimes offers only cold comfort.

It's some chilling reading...

This makes sense.

Unc says that a bill is moving in the Tennessee legislature to exempt holders of toter's permits from background checks on firearms sales. This makes sense to me, seeing as how they already had to go through a background check to get the toter's permit in the first place.

Of course, I bought a lot of guns before I ever had to undergo a background check in a gun store*, and I don't recollect having to wade through rivers of blood to do so, but since we're stuck with the Brady Bill for the nonce, this seems a reasonable compromise. And isn't the other side all about the reasonable compromises?

*Those didn't start until early '94.

The latest news from Planet 10...

...brought to us here on Earth by the stalwart comrades of the SPLC:
The number of radical right groups in America -- including hate groups, "Patriot" groups and nativist groups -- increased in 2010 for the second year in a row, according to a report by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Given the criteria they use, I'm surprised that the Boy Scouts of America have managed to stay off the SPLC's "hate group" list for as long as they have. I mean, they are discriminatory, nominally religious, have merit badges for shotgun and rifle shooting, and they seem awfully interested in tying knots, if you know what I mean....

Among other things I learned from the press release CNN article is that apparently Arizona passed "a restrictive immigration law" last year, which came as something of a surprise to me, since I thought immigration law was one of those federal things. I knew that Arizona had passed a law allowing the po-po to check on someone's immigration status, but I was unaware that they'd moved into the sphere of immigration law proper.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sneak Peek:

A look at some of the content on the upcoming third season of S.W.A.T. Magazine TV:

The Party of "No!"

Taking a cue from their cheesehead comrades, Indiana's Democrat legislators have fled the state.

Perhaps they all decided to take a roadtrip to the newly-opened National Institute for Civil Discourse?

If I can't win, I'll just take my quorum and go home.

"Armorer" ≠ "Gunsmith"

There are a lot of people who hang a "gunsmith" shingle out who are really glorified parts-swappers. Sure, they can mount and boresight your scope, free-float a barrel, or put a Wolff spring kit in your Ruger Redhawk, but that's not really gunsmithing. An actual gunsmith, as opposed to an armorer, is someone who could take a block of steel into a machine shop and come back out with a functioning firearm.

On the other hand, over the last couple years, the guys at CCA have fabricated for me:
  • A takedown plug for a Colt 1902 military,
  • A cocking indicator for a Dreyse M1907, and
  • An extractor for a Frommer Stop.
Given a set of drawings or an example to work from, and time and money, of course, I'm beginning to think they could machine a cure for a rainy day.

Incidentally, this is one of the nicer things about old-style machined steel firearms: If you buy the new Blastomatic 2000 tomorrow, and the Blastomatic Corporation goes tango uniform after one year and 5,000 units sold, good luck finding replacements for the toaster parts inside if anything breaks five or ten years down the road. This is one factor behind my hesitation to be an early adopter, even of new designs from established companies; I like making sure there's a bit of an installed user base to guarantee a parts supply and aftermarket support for a good long time. That's the reason that, up until maybe a year or two ago, I would have unhesitatingly picked a Glock over a Smith M&P despite preferring the Smith in amost every way...

Wow. Big shock there.

So it's Mayor Rahm in Chi-town.

Wow. Who could have seen that coming?


Starting in the middle of the day yesterday, I began sporting a positively blinding headache. I beat it back with some Advil in the middle of the afternoon, but it was there waiting for me again when I woke up.

Getting whacked in the head with an axe would be an improvement.

Further, your brain isn't supposed to have pain receptors, so how come I can point to you on the stuffed Binky the Brain doll just where it hurts? It's my right middle frontal gyrus.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Apocalypse Now.

My Roomie tenders up some musings on TEOTWAWKI.

Current events seem to have lots of people in an eschatological mood. I'm not quite ready to go strapping a colander to my face just yet, but I'm keeping the buckles shined and the straps oiled, just in case...


It's time for that quadrennial Día de los Muertos in Chicago, when the residents of the cemeteries are polled to see who Dick Daley has chosen to be the new mayor.
When Rahm Emanuel entered the race to succeed Richard Daley as mayor of Chicago in November, he was far from the front-runner.
*snort* Well, I guess we'll soon find out who offered Daley the biggest bribe.

How come Jimmy Carter's always going off to watch ballot boxes in Nicaragua and Liberia when Chicago's so much closer to home?

Monday, February 21, 2011

From the nation that invented the snub...

Maybe they could record the wedding and send it to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. as a video on an iPod and some Region 2 DVDs...


My most recent 1911 was pulled out of the box and taken to a 2-day, 1,000-round training course without any cleaning. I gave it a cleaning after the class, and it has fired a bit over a hundred rounds since then. This is a tightly-fitted custom that will shoot an inch at 25 yards and has a 3.5# trigger, so after the first case or so of ammo I decided to run it down to the guys who built it at Coal Creek Armory and let them inspect the guts.

Gunsmith Bob tore it down and we examined all the surfaces that you worry about in a hard-fit custom under a loupe and pronounced it good. No sign of battering on the barrel feet, no uneven wear on the rear of the barrel hood... Not that I expected any, but it was good to get the official clean bill of health. I'm happy. I'll bring it back for another check at the 5k mark or so.

I don't get it.

Finally saw the new Coen Brothers remake of True Grit last night. What an excellent, excellent movie! And I say that having just read the book for the first time a few weeks back and thinking it was a very good novel.

I am going to confess that I have never sat down and watched the entire 1969 John Wayne vehicle from start to finish, and now I'm kind of afraid to.

What I don't get is how Hailee Steinfeld is up for Best Supporting Actress. How do they get "Supporting Actress" out of her role? There were scenes without Jeff Bridges, and there were scenes without Matt Damon, but she was on screen for pretty much the entire 110 minutes and the plot revolved around her character.

I wonder if it received any public money?

In the wake of the shooting in Tucson, the University of Arizona has opened the "National Institute For Shut Up And Take It Like A Taxpayer"... er, I mean, the "National Institute for Civil Discourse":
In a statement released by the University of Arizona, Bush said he was honored to join Clinton in "supporting this important effort at such a critical time in our nation's history."

In the same statement, Clinton said, "I believe that the National Institute for Civil Discourse can elevate the tone of dialogue in our country, and in so doing, help us to keep moving toward 'a more perfect union.'"
Bush and Clinton as honorary co-chairs... you just know that's gonna suck. Hey, George and Bill, you know what the worst thing about ex-presidents is? You can't fire them any more than you already have.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"Look! Is genuine EИFIELD!"

Borepatch links to some interesting stuff on Khyber Pass Enfields.

Probably more than one US importer has been spoofed over the last several years by Khyber Pass "Enfields" and "Martinis".

Their agent overseas gets told a tale of old British rifles recently found at some armory out in the sticks back of beyond. Over a couple of bottles of black market whiskey, they get shown some genuine Lee-Metfords or Enfields, which would be a collector's dream if they could get them imported into the 'States. Then comes the hard sell: "You no want these rifles? That man over there, he work for your competitor. He buy. I have other importer on phone. He buy. Never mind. You no get rifles."

They strike a deal to buy the lot, and when the container gets opened in the customs bonded warehouse, they find that they've just bought a tractor-trailer load of back alley Peshawari scrap less authentic than a Luis Vuitton bag in a New York City flea market.

A lot of collectors, myself included*, have found out about this the hard way.

*A lot of what I now know about Enfields and Khyber copies I learned from bitter experience after buying a "1916 Enfield" back in '05 or '06 that, had it been jewelry, would have turned my finger green.

Hostage Delivery Service.

Want to get groped by an angry mob? Planning on funding your retirement with royalties from a 444 Days to Freedom-esque memoir? Book now for the "Freedom Evolution" cruise on the M/V Azamara Quest!
"If I say it's safe to surf this beach, Captain, then it's safe to surf this beach!" -Col. Kilgore
Like the crew of the PBR in Apocalypse Now, you'll sail past scenes of bullet-torn chaos and mobs of howling savages, witnessing history in the making. Just remember Chef's advice: Never get out of the boat.

In other, totally unrelated news: Somali pirates have hijacked a yacht full of Americans.

He'll rip your lungs out, Jim!

Watched the recent remake of The Wolfman on the TeeWee last night.

The script is so predictable that it's impossible to actually be startled or frightened by anything that occurs. Worse, Benicio Del Toro seemed to have been possessed by Keanu Reeves and Sir Tony Hopkins apparently only took his part because he was behind on his Bentley payments or something; in an uncharacteristically lackadaisical performance, his delivery couldn't have been flatter if he actually walked around his scenes reading from a script in his left hand.

On the upside, there was plenty of eye candy, lots of werewolf-tearing-things-up action, and guns. Lots of guns. If you like underlever heavy double rifles so much that you thought they were cheated out of a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in The Ghost and the Darkness, you'll be happy. What gun for werewolf? A sidehammer Rodda 10-bore with silver solids, of course. Oh, and Agent Elrond shows up and does a good job as a Scotland Yard inspector: "You werewolves are a disease. You are a cancer of this planet, and we are the cure..."

If you're a huge fan of werewolf movies or Victorian costume pieces full of Webleys, Martinis, and great big hunting rifles, it's a must; otherwise you're not missing much.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Life, Liberty, and Streaming pr0n.

"One-third of U.S. households lack broadband Web access!" says the CNN headline. Something Must Be Done, because this violates every American's right to play crappy flash games and email lolcat .jpegs to each other in the most efficient manner possible.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, women and minorities hardest hit:
It might also be interesting to consider the implications of local demographics, which can easily be explored via The New York Times' interactive map of U.S. Census data. In some cases, there are interesting correlations between the broadband options available in an area and the race, income or education level of the people who live there.
In other words, neighborhoods full of unemployed, non-English-speaking, high-school dropouts, the ones most likely to want to watch streaming reruns of American Idol on their smartphones, are the ones least likely to be able to do so. In an unrelated economic factoid, these very same neighborhoods are also underserved by Whole Foods stores and Mercedes Benz dealerships. It's obviously a conspiracy.

I'm not sure what the proposed solution is, but I would imagine it involves printing more money.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Speaking of job satisfaction...

If you hate going really slowly up hills, then maybe you should have waited one more commercial break during that 3AM rerun of Knight Rider and called the number for The American Bartending Institute instead of jumping on the one for The US Trucking Academy. Seriously, right there on page one of the job description for "long-haul truck driver" it says "Must be able to spend long periods of time in a chair creeping slowly up hills."

There are plenty of lucrative career fields that do not involve spending long periods of time in a chair creeping slowly up hills: You could go to med school, learn to be a short order cook, get into the burgeoning day care field, or even run a meth lab in your kitchen, and none of these will involve staring at the ass end of another Peterbilt for 20 minutes at a stretch while ascending mountains at 49 miles an hour.

Should you find yourself ascending said mountain at 49 miles an hour, therefore, it shouldn't come as such a big shock that you have to suddenly swerve your truck into the left lane, which is full of cars doing 70+, in such a hurry that you can't even remember to use your turn signals.

If you can't stand going slowly up hills, maybe driving a truck just isn't for you? That'd be like getting a job as a paramedic if you can't stand the sight of blood. I'm just sayin'.

It's in the dictionary, between "shirt" and "syphilis"...

Dear Public Sector Employees,

Back in the day, the rallying cry "Teachers make less than garbage truck drivers!" was sure to elicit sympathy from your fellow Americans. That was before we all had to take part-time gigs loitering inside the entrance at Wal-Mart to keep the wolf from the McMansion door. Nowadays, as many as a quarter of your neighbors are just going to grumble "What are you griping about? At least you have a job. With benefits, no less."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Random Stuff...

1) The Zed Drei came with the make-your-kidneys-bleed sport suspension. Combine that with 40-series rim-protectors on butter-soft alloy rims, and I tend to plan my local routes based on how recently a road has been resurfaced and whether or not there are any axle-breaking bomb craters lurking un-patched in the middle of the travel lane. The GPS does not understand this, no matter how loudly I explain it to the gizmo.

2) When the GPS gives you an inane direction, and then nags you when you don't obey, it is apparently amusing to your passenger when you are reduced to yelling "Shut your whore mouth!" at a little plastic box suction-cupped to your windshield.

3) The law on alcohol and toting in Texas. tl;dr version: Don't.

4) Some boneheaded legislator in Indiana has decided that a 10¢/bag "deposit" on plastic bags at the grocery store is a splendid idea. Every day, I feel more like an extra in Atlas Shrugged. Aside from the questionable philosophical underpinnings of the whole concept, has this asshat ever even been to a grocery store? Generally the cashier has you all rung up before they have any idea how many bags you'll need. Sweet Shiva, I hope this one goes down in parliamentary flames. All I need is another legislative roadblock in the checkout lane; I already have to wait for the guy in the "WWII Veteran" ballcap to pull out his ID and prove to the government's satisfaction that he's old enough to buy a Budweiser.


So a South Korean company is showing off a new robotic gun mount, complete with superlatives built right into the name and the typical manufacturer's claims.

Apparently, the high tech gizmos are intended to bolster the defenses along the DMZ with North Korea, which has been the most heavily militarized border on the planet ever since East Germany filed for Chapter 11.

Of course, the North Korean government has eschewed wasting money on frivolities like food or shelter for its inmates citizens and has instead spent it on hookers and blow for the dear leader and on thousands and thousands and thousands of good old fashioned artillery tubes. All of them sited along the DMZ and all of them pre-registered and ready to unleash a bombardment of the like that hasn't been seen since the Somme, so the wisdom of parking a bunch of high-tech guardbots in the middle of the beaten zone is questionable.

Personally, I don't think the Maginot Line would have worked any better if it had been manned by R2D2 and C3P0 instead of Jacques and Pierre. To paraphrase Ol' Blood & Guts, "Fixed fortifications are monuments to man's stupidity, no matter how much RAM they have."

(H/T to Unc.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #52: Before and after...

Here's a pic of the CCA custom after Training Day 1 of AFHF:

...and here it is after a couple months in the holster:

When I had it built, I threw some grip screws in the box without noticing that they were ghey hex-head screws. As soon as I could get around to it, I went to and replaced them with proper slotted screws. Also, the Ahrend's cordia wood double diamonds were pretty, but my carry guns all have VZ Gatorbacks on them, and so I ordered another pair for the new gun so it would feel the same in my mitt. Lurve them Gatorbacks...

In other news, this is the first heater I've used with the 10-8 sights, and they made me a believer. The night sights on my Pro are starting to get dim, and I think I'll be replacing the Novaks with 10-8's...

Turn left now.

While I was waiting on the car to get tires and an oil change, I wandered across the street for lunch and a browse through the Mart-Mart.

It was there that I noticed that you can get a talking color touch-screen map robot for, like, a hundred bucks these days. A hundred bucks, for a talking computer that knows where you are by decoding signals from space. If it was any cheaper, it would come in a box of Cheerios.

So I went ahead and bought one.

Little did I know that I was buying Electronic Death In A Box!

Now, I'm one of those people who has a pretty decent sense of direction. I bought the GPS on a lark; I mean, I don't have maps in my car. Interstate highways have big green signs that tell you where they're going, and if you didn't fail geography, you should know if that's the direction you want to go or not. (You're in Atlanta and you want to go to Dallas: Do you follow the big green sign that says Birmingham or the one that says Chattanooga? Ready? Go!)

I tend to set off on cross-country roadtrips with about twenty words worth of final approach instructions scribbled on the back of an envelope, so the concept of blindly following Robby the Robot over a cliff is kinda foreign to me, but apparently it's the latest hazard, perhaps even worse than texting while driving.

Good news, everybody!

Once upon a time, Odocoileus virginianus, the North American Hoofed Rat, was extinct in Indiana outside of zoos. Then somebody decided it would be grand to re-introduce them, which strikes me as the equivalent of re-introducing the anopheles mosquito or crabgrass. Every winter since, brave Hoosiers have set out into the fields to beat back the tan menace.

Despite being hamstrung by using only shotguns, handguns, or pistol-caliber carbines, Indiana hunters bagged over 86,000 hoofed rats this season. When you add in the efforts of would-be Dan'l Boones and Robin Hoods, a record 134,004 crop-devouring furry traffic hazards met their demise in the fields and forests of Hoosierland over the '10-'11 season. Great job, everybody! I feel like an absolute slacker for not taking part.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Who knew?

The reaction on the internets to the most recent 1911 post has been hilarious. Apparently it's a pretty Rorschach piece of writing, because it's had me accused of everything from being an emotional and nostalgic defender of the 1911 to a "homo glock-lover"...

Who knew?

...and then everybody dies!

Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin arrived yesterday afternoon. I'm about a hundred pages and a million corpses into the book, and let me tell you, this is the feel-good family hit of the season. Apparently it takes a lot of killin' to make the New Soviet Man.

The big takeaway lesson thus far is that it's damned hard to resist dekulakization when all you have are pitchforks and hoes. This is why we have a Second Amendment, not for shooting deer or giving the government the right to create a National Guard.

This is coming on the heels of having read the Young Adult TEOTWAWKI trilogy that begins with Life As We Knew It, in which some manner of hand-waved cosmic impact nudges the moon into a closer orbit. Massive tides, earthquakes, vulcanism, and piles of dead people ensue. The book is written as the journal entries of a high school sophomore who is definitely going to miss the junior prom on account of the world coming to an end. It's surprisingly good, and surprisingly gritty for a YA novel.

I'm thinking that by this time tomorrow, I'll definitely be ready for some lighter fare, like a book of knock-knock jokes or the like...



Trying to get the free ice cream machine cranked up here.

Talk amongst yourselves.

Monday, February 14, 2011

From the mean streets of Lafayette, Indiana...

...where the prisoners roam free...
"I told him to have a seat in the jury box. He sat down for 15 to 20 seconds, then stood up and ran."
...right out of the courthouse, in fact. Which turned into a foot chase with Rusty the Bailiff through downtown Lafayette, and was therefore big enough doin's for several column inches in the city paper.

(What kind of logic makes someone facing a misdemeanor conviction decide to just up and turn it into "Escape", which is a felony?)

Spun right round.

Today's project will be to find a local tire joint that has anything in stock in a 245/40-17. The right rear has a slow leak, and thanks to the Zed Drei's negative camber in the rear, the inside shoulders are getting worn down enough that it's not worth patching any leaks anymore, so it's time for new skins.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Meanwhile, in Bizarroland... Part II

"...until recently, it was politically incorrect in the West to admit that we defeated one genocidal dictator with the help of another."
"Politically incorrect"? To who?

Look, Anne, our president referred to the Soviets as an "evil empire" almost thirty years ago and unless you were actually standing in a network TV studio or on a college campus when he said it, you wouldn't have heard any gasps of shock.

I understand that in the interim some of the less hardcore fellow travellers in the intelligentsia watched Bob Hoskins be mean to Jude Law in Enemy at the Gates and decided that maybe Uncle Joe wasn't that cuddly after all, but none of this should have come as a shock to anybody who hasn't spent the last three decades drinking bongwater in a broom closet at Berkeley.

The purpose of the orange tomcat is to occupy space.

King: "Catan, what is best in life?"

Catan the Barbarian: "To sprawl full length in the doorway. To stare insolently at the ankles of those forced to step over me. To hear their lamentations as they trip and fall. That is best."

Marching on.

In Florida, a major CCW reform bill is moving in the state legislature. Among issues covered are "parking lot" provisions to allow CCW-licensed employees to store their firearms in their locked vehicles at work, and an "open carry" provision. Florida's original CCW law was written in such a way that even accidentally exposing your firearm, while bending over to put groceries in the trunk, for example, was a serious no-no, so this is a benefit even to those who carry concealed by preference.

Meanwhile, in Indiana, there are two important bills being considered:

The first is SB 292. When Indiana reformed its CCW legislation back in the '80s mid-'90s, some municipalities were allowed to keep "grandfathered" gun laws; SB 292 would remove the exemption for these, giving us true preemption.

The second is SB 506, which would remove the requirement to have a handgun permit to transport a pistol. (The reason so many people in Indiana have CCW permits is because it's $5 to get a pink card to take your pistol to the range and only a few bucks more for a 4-year toter's permit; check a different box and fork over a C-note and you get a lifetime LTCH...)

Pester your legiscritters.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Roomie's stuck working that wonky shift thing this week, so the alarums here at Roseholme went off at 0100 hours this morning. I grabbed a couple hours sleep sometime after six, but I've got stuff I have to go do.

Hopefully I will have coherent things to write about when I get back...

Friday, February 11, 2011


So Barry supposedly had a frosty phone call with King Abdullah over his unhandling of our unpolicy on the situation in Egypt. Dissed! Over the phone! All that bowing and scraping for nothing.

Meanwhile, out here where we actually grow the arugula, we don't much worry about the opinion of any king that doesn't live at Graceland, thank you very much.

Room with a view...

The people on the TeeWee were just doing a piece on the new 76-story Frank Gehry-designed apartment tower in NYC. I'll admit, it was a slammin'-looking building with spectacular views, even if all the views were full of New York City*, but then they mentioned rental rates...

Broom closets down low start at $3k a month, and a two bedroom with a view goes for fifteen grand. A month. To rent.

I have a question: If you're shelling out $15,000/mo. to rent a two bedroom apartment, how are you going to have enough money left over to support the kind of drug habit it would take to make you think renting an apartment for $15,000/mo. is a sensible idea?

*The views are spectacular, but they're all full of New York; if I'm laying out fifteen large a month, I want to look out my window and see Russell Crowe and unicorns, not a junkie knifing a hooker.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

M1911A1 vs. "1911"...

Something that's come up in comments here and here is this persistent internet myth that the M1911 pistol is some elegant weapon from a more civilized age, that the design required "careful tuning" or "hand-fitting" to manufacture. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The M1911A1 was a service pistol, built with interchangeable parts. Over the course of a couple of years during WWII over a million of the things were produced by a typewriter company, a sewing machine manufacturer, and a railroad signal maker. In 1943, the Ordnance Department relaxed dimensional standards even further to ensure that there would be no problem mixing parts from several primary manufacturers and bunches of subcontractors. Manufacturing the M1911A1 is not rocket surgery; the gun is a stone axe, designed to be maintained in the field by draftee armorers using drop-in parts.

However, the result of all that is a reliable, heavy gun with an eight-pound trigger pull, mediocre accuracy, and half the magazine capacity of modern duty pistols, yet one that would still cost over a thousand dollars in today’s economy, because machining steel isn’t cheap.

So various commercial manufacturers started tightening tolerances to improve accuracy, and hand-fitting lockwork to improve trigger pull, and substituting cheaper manufacturing techniques and materials for smaller parts in order to keep the costs out of the stratosphere, and that's how we wind up where we are today, with "1911" being a term as generic as "Kleenex" and applied to almost anything even vaguely shaped like an M1911.

My ’66 Colt is, in essence, a GI gun with improved sights, ergonomics, and trigger; all the crucial parts are dimensioned properly and made from the correct materials. The extractor is still the old Colt part, and nothing's been done to the gun to "make it reliable" because it’s outstandingly reliable as it sits, stubby GI ejector and all. It’s not particularly accurate, however; certainly no more so than any modern polymer service gun and probably far less so than the better examples of the breed, and has barely over half the magazine capacity while weighing two-and-a-half pounds. A manufacturer could build and sell a roughly equivalent gun today for probably not too much over $1,000, but why would they?

Personally, I mostly stay with the 1911 because of sunk costs, and because it's a pistol that is stupid easy to shoot fast and accurately. That, and I like having a sidearm that I know from the ground up, for which I specified every single part. But that's because guns are my hobby. To quote Larry Vickers: "[i]f ... you treat your pistols like we all treat our lawnmowers then don’t get a 1911 – use a Glock."


The mercury is currently hovering at 0°F out there right now.

I don't care if it makes everyone think I'm some kind of delicate hothouse flower to say it, but that's a lot colder temperature than decent people should have to put up with.

At least you don't have to shovel cold.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Link dump:

Just to clear out a couple tabs...

  • You know that old saw about "Use a shotgun or a pistol inside the house because a .223 bullet will go through a hundred walls and hit a school!"? Yeah, well, maybe not so much. This is part of why my go-to long gun changed from an 870 to an M4gery some five years ago.
  • From the Reefer Madness Files: I wonder how much Epic and EA had to pay Fox News for this full-page ad that's guaranteed to drive sales?

Overheard in the Hallway:

Me: "Breakfast this morning is slices of Gouda, Emmentaler, and Parrano, along with some Italian dry salami and crackers. How long 'til I start voting Democrat?"

RX: "There's not really a connection. Besides, there's no fresh fruit there, so you're safe..."

Me: "Thank gawd."

RX: "...although the Democrats only include the fresh fruit to prove they're just regular Joes."

They just don't get it...

The link at read "Medal of Honor winner won't re-enlist".

Obviously, the Army is broken if even its decorated heroes are leaving, instead of reenlisting as lifer career soldiers like Sergeant York and Audie Murphy...

Poorly phrased question:

This should read "Which GOP candidate would the Democrats who read like to see nominated?"

Guilty conscience? There's an app for that.

Are you too proud of your iPhone 4? Seething with envy at your neighbor's Chevy Volt? Too slothful to separate the colored and clear glass in your recycling bin? Lusting after your Bikram Yoga instructor? Couldn't resist that second helping of Camembert?

Now for only $1.99 you can seek absolution from your iPhone!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

By their words ye shall know them.

"As the movement to eliminate tenure takes hold, it’s worth asking advocates for dismissal of incompetent teachers whether they think that teachers are the only underperforming public-sector workers. Do they also favor more dismissals of subpar police officers and firefighters?" -Mark Rosenman
Do I want incompetent cops and firefighters canned? This guy must have a PhD or a Masters, because only an Ed. major with a postgrad degree could ask such a dumbass question.

No, Zippy, I want Clouseau investigating my murder and Fire Marshal Bill putting out my flaming house... much the same way I want you teaching the neighborhood urchins.

(H/T to Unc.)

Errors in judgment.

So Today was running a weepy piece on "car surfing", which is apparently how the cool kids are killing themselves these days, because texting-while-driving is so 2010.

The Ryan White of car surfing, if you will, is some kid in Florida who hopped in a shopping cart and grabbed the bumper of an SUV driven by his buddy, one Michael A. Smith. To the right, you will note a picture of Mr. Smith, taken by the portrait department at the Orange County correctional facility.

Now, I'm highly unlikely to ever decide to clamber into a shopping cart and go for an Orlando Sleigh Ride around the local Wally World tarmac, because it seems like it might interfere with my chronic oxygen habit. If I did, however, I would probably prefer to choose as my pilot somebody who had exhibited better judgment than to have stuff permanently drawn all over his face before he was old enough to realize that some stupid is forever. But maybe that's just me...

Hardly an iconoclastic stance...

Darth Vader Newt Gingrich is apparently blasting the Obama administration's foreign policy on Egypt as "amateurish", which is about as daringly controversial as calling the sky "blue".

If a squad car was following our official position on Egypt, the White House would have been pulled over for drunk driving after the third or fourth time it veered over the center line and Barry would be standing on the side of the road, trying to say the alphabet backwards without the aid of a teleprompter.

Monday, February 07, 2011

But it says "Custom" right on the gun!

Hilton Yam is probably the go-to guy on duty 1911s these days. It's been four years now since he pulled Kimbers from the list of 1911s he recommends for duty use, but it seems like there's always someone who doesn't get the word. Apparently North Carolina's liquor cops spent a wad of money on Kimbers, complete with a fruity "ALE seal carved into their handles", only to find that the guns were lemons. This is my shocked face.

Firearms instructor Pat Rogers sees lots of AR15-pattern firearms from budget manufacturers go Tango Uniform at his classes because they are not made to the true military specification: improperly staked gas keys come loose, cheap bolts shear locking lugs, weak extractor springs fail and cause FTE's, et cetera. His derisive term for these is "hobby guns". Sure, they're up to shooting fifty or a hundred rounds at the range every now and again, but when you run them hard, they choke in the clutch.

Most 1911s made these days are hobby guns. They have ejectors that aren't pinned, MIM plunger tubes that won't take a stake, limp noodle cast or MIM extractors that aren't properly tensioned from the factory, and other failings. These are caused by the fact that the design of the pistol is not friendly to modern manufacturing methods, and so shortcuts get made to keep the guns cost-competitive.

You can get a current production 1911 that's properly built and devoid of these shortcuts for right around a grand, which is what makes the current Kimber situation so annoying: They're selling a shortcut-filled gun slathered in cosmetic fluff at a price that could buy you a real heater. This method works in the marketplace, because the things that separate the real deal from a compromised "hobby gun" are pretty esoteric and not visible when the gun's sitting in a showcase. To the untrained eye there's not much to distinguish an RIA from a Taurus from a Kimber from a Colt from a Baer from a $2k+ custom gun. Why spend big money on a custom when the gun sitting on the shelf next to it costs half as much and says "Custom" right on the slide?

Given the current situation in the 1911 market, if you had to buy guns for 100 guys, and you just had to have .45's with A-zone accuracy in a hostage situation, why wouldn't you just buy HK45's?

UPDATE: Oh, look! They were bitty little 3" Ultra Carries, complete with idjit magwell on a subcompact CCW piece. Color me extra unsurprised! More on this tomorrow...

(H/T to Bob via email.)

Still crazy after all these years...

Reagan's 100th birthday has been an endless source of amusement for me, since the day's regularly scheduled Two-Minute's Hate against Sarah Palin was thrown off course by the grayer members of the audience suddenly distracted by their old bête noire.

The very best of the counter-encomia thus far have managed to blame everything from Glenn Beck to homelessness on the Gipper, and even fairly mainstream CNN got in on the act with a piece of conspiranoia charging the GOP and conservatives with trying to steal Reagan's legacy from... well, from whom it's being stolen is never made very clear.

Kids, if you came of age after 1988 or so and don't really remember watching the news back then, Ronald Reagan was a very naughty man who was as evil as Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin and even George W. Bush all rolled into one. Even though nobody but a couple of hicks in flyover country ever voted for him, he was somehow president for eight years, eight of the worst years of American history, when everyone except the cast of Dynasty was homeless and dying of AIDS and we lived in fear of him blowing up the world. If you don't believe me, you can go read old NYT editorials and look at political cartoons or old Doonesbury strips from those days, then you'll see...

An unexpected windfall...

With the talk of the nation being about how "unprepared"* Dallas was for the bad weather on the weekend of the Doritos Bowl, Indianapolis, Home of Super Bowl XLVI©®™ and also something where they drive cars in circles, couldn't leave my street un-plowed.

So yesterday, for the first time this winter, the city called on its army of subcontractors to clear the side streets and byways of Hoosieropolis. Somewhere about four in the afternoon, Cletus came roaring down the street in his Dodge Ram, followed closely by Jasper in a jacked-up early-80s Chevy K1500. About twenty minutes later, they came flying by in the opposite direction. It was like watching a monster truck race crossed with a speed-plowing competition.

*It just doesn't make fiscal sense for a city like Dallas or Atlanta to buy and maintain a massive fleet of plows and salt trucks that will only see use once or twice a year and rust away to nothing between uses.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

The hit dog yelps.

What's the matter, Detective Sipowicz? Truth hurt?

Planet Matthews is a funny place.

Thanks to roomie's use of the TeeWee as an alarum clock, I toddled in there this morning just in time to turn the volume down on the dulcet tones of Chris Matthews & Guests, describing the current events on Planet Bicoastal.

Chris was going on about how American leaders have a habit of cozying up to Middle Eastern tyrants and that the "bowing and scraping" (his exact frickin' words) can get ridiculous. "zomg!" I thought, "Chris is actually turning against The Tingler!"

But then to illustrate his statement, what video did he roll? Barry kowtowing back in '09? No, silly! Bush and Abdullah holding hands in Crawford six years ago, of course! That was a far more embarrassing example of bowing and scraping than any actual, you know, bowing and scraping.

Roomie was not actually awakened by her television set, but by my cursing at it.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

QotD: Abject Sellout Edition.

Brian J. Noggle on the current state of our "Special Alliance" with the UK:
Whenever I think the president and his smartest-people-in-the-universe have reached the utmost limit in selling out, nay, for selling out, you get something; whenever I think the president and his collegiately credentialed Marxist studies professionals have reached the limit in giving out our nation’s long time allies, they broaden my understanding.
I'm going to wind up pining for the firm, no-nonsense foreign policy of President Jimmy Carter before this is all over, aren't I?

Meanwhile, in Bizarroland...

Cliff Schecter, progressive PR guy, gun-fearing weenie and Huffington Post contributor, has found an even more credulous audience than HuffPo readers to which he can peddle his wares: Al Jazeera! After all, a measurable percentage of Al Jazeera's audience believes that Mrs. Goldstein next door grinds up babies to make cookie dough for Passover, so who knows what else they'll swallow?

Watching the multi-culti progressive crowd cozying up to the Sharia crew is as morbidly fascinating as watching some weird little Mr. Whipple-looking masochist fawning over a real, live serial killer. You find yourself wanting to be around for the denouement just to see the look of hurt surprise on their face when they find out the game is for real.

(H/T to Sebastian.)

Friday, February 04, 2011

I'm glad I didn't make the papers...

The trash pickup was delayed by a day, which was a good thing.

See, the trash cans are in the back yard, and the back yard is surrounded by a wooden privacy fence and the gate in the fence was held closed by a drifted mass that could only be described as a pygmy glacier; a foot-thick layer cake of solid ice on top of some stuff the consistency of Hell's own snowcone, and then more solid ice below that. The area around it, where I would have to stand or kneel to do my chopping and digging, was covered in a frozen slick of roof drippings that let the hatchet go sliding whenever it was set down, and caused me to demonstrate Newton's Third Law every time I stood up and tried to scoop my chippings out of the way with the shovel.

My goggles kept fogging. I broke a sweat kneeling there pounding away with the hatchet. After almost an hour, the end was nearly in sight; the gate was swinging further and further with each try, but if it went on much longer, I was afraid that I was going to collapse and my roomie would come home to find a Tamsicle in the side yard.

The trash cans made it to the street, but boy howdy, I got my exercise today.

Ice, ice, baby...

A pic from Ice Station Zebra:

Some sense of scale can be derived by the cross section at the furthest edge of the hole: The ice is probably 2.5" thick at that point. The chunk that brained me is the lonely-looking one at roughly 10 o'clock from the crater.

The steps were cleared by roomie with a hatchet.

Gimme the snow any day.

During last year's great big snow event, which dumped 12.5" of fluffy white death on Roseholme Cottage, it took me about 45 minutes of sweating effort to shovel out the front walks, which left me with a warm glow of satisfaction.

Yesterday it took the same amount of time to use a square shovel to hack and pry two inches of solid ice off of a roughly 2'x3' oblong by the front steps, which left me with a knot on my head from where a fist-sized chunk of ice broke off under the leverage of the shovel with a ringing clang, came just short of attaining low-earth orbit, and landed on the back of my noggin.

Today will probably find me on my hands and knees with an Estwing attempting to break the ice up a little more thoroughly before I start levering and prying...

Who watches the watch list?

Among the more odious aspects of Leviathan is the stench of all the petty little remoras that cling to its flanks, the latest exemplar of which would be the British border agent who waited 'til his wife was visiting relatives in Pakistan and then added her name to the Terrorist Watch List, figuring that would be a handy way to be rid of her without having to have one of those pesky and annoying break-up discussions.

Gettin' my wookie on...

You want to know what would qualify as a "true cyber emergency", Senator Collins? Lemme give you a clue:

(Found here.)

Thursday, February 03, 2011

The Endarkenment continues apace.

From Wikipedia:
The Age of Enlightenment (or simply the Enlightenment) is the era in Western philosophy, intellectual, scientific and cultural life, centered upon the 18th century, in which reason was advocated as the primary source for legitimacy and authority. It is also known as the Age of Reason.
It is growing ever more obvious here in the 21st Century that Reason has left the building. For example, in the great state of New Jersey, (which sports the word "Liberty" on its flag and seal without the faintest trace of irony,) a 7-year-old boy has been arrested by police officers and faces the full force of the state's legal might, having been charged with the misdemeanor offense of "possessing an imitation firearm in or on an education institution".

I challenge everybody involved in this idiocy to imagine trying to explain to anybody fifty or a hundred years ago that a schoolboy could be arrested by police and charged with a real live crime for bringing a toy gun to school. When I was a child "This will go on your permanent record!" was a joke; now it's a chilling reality.

Billy Beck likes to use the term "Endarkenment" to describe this modern era, one where people are increasingly losing the ability to think, and every day it proves more apt.

Reason #140,122 I'll never move to Massachusetts:

Another piece of legal idiocy I've learned of from the state where having a round of spent .22 brass stuck in the treads of your Reebok is a felony: Suppose you're shooting at the local indoor range, and the guy on the next lane over mutters a curse and then leans over towards your booth, saying "Hey, buddy, I'm all out of ammunition over here; I'll give ya five bucks if ya got an extra box of .22 ya can spare." What do you do?

Well, according to Title XX, Chapter 140, Sec. 122B of Massachusetts state law, you have to say "Tough luck, buddy; I don't want to go to jail for two years for engaging in a voluntary act of capitalism between two consenting adults."

Massachusetts: Live Free or There.

(via Twitter.)

How do you say "Batallón de la Dignidad" in Arabic?

Boy, I haven't seen spontaneous grassroots support this authentic since Manuel Noriega armed the gutter sweepings of Panama City.

Wait, yes I have!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Very superstitious...

Are you superstitious? The last Assault Weapons Ban in Congress was HR.1022. The House magazine ban bill is HR.308, the Senate S.32. The FAA bill is S.223. I feel that the universe may be conspiring against us on this one.
Okay, when I see HR.4570 or S.3220, I'm officially going to think something's up...

Rule Three, Officer Krupke!

NYPD's Emergency Services Unit (which, among other functions, serves as their SWAT team) has managed to rack up three NDs in the past three months, including a rooftop sniper sending one flying while pulling security at a Madison Square Garden event and a cop on a raid in the Bronx shooting the suspect's father in the stomach.

The NYPD has officially stated that
ESU training "has been revised to highlight the weapon's safety position."
How about training these cowboys to keep their &*$%@# booger hooks off the *&#$@% bang switch?

(H/T to Maddened Fowl.)


...the power stayed on through the night.

45mph wind gusts were sending ice-covered tree branch fragments pelting off the side of the house. Several hit the windows hard enough to wake me up; it was like trying to sleep inside a bell being peppered with birdshot.

They're calling for more snow (albeit not much) and high winds for most of the day. If the power lines can survive 'til tomorrow afternoon, I'll feel like we're... er, out of the woods, as it were. While still actually being in the woods, I mean.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

There's always someone that doesn't get the word.

Mayor Ballard has raised the Indianapolis/Marion County travel status to orange...
According to Janet Napolitano, that should have been phrased "Mayor Ballard has warned Indianapolis/Marion County travelers of an elevated threat from terroristic ice accumulations."

Heading for a fall...

Indianapolis is proud of its extremely sylvan nature. Most of the trees in the rest of the state have been chopped down to make room for corn and soybeans, but here in Indy it seems that every piece of ground not paved or built up is covered in trees.

This is pleasant when the weather forecast is not calling for 2+" of ice, which will transform your average maple into a sort of Bokken of Damocles, suspended menacingly over the nearest power line.

Broad Ripple is especially susceptible to this. The thunderstorms of springtime invariably knock out the power for anywhere from an hour to a day, and I'm not looking forward to seeing what the combination of wind and ice can do to the local grid. Our trees are prettier when they're lining the streets and not lying in them.

What a way to start the day...

I am generally not a fan of turning computers off. The bigger, more powerful, and more complex the machine, the less I like subjecting it to wild swings of temperature and voltage.

Last night I powered the Dark Tower down just in case the power lines dropped overnight, and when I went to power it up this morning, it crashed to a BSD with memory errors. Fantastic, and me on a deadline...

Luckily, the original VFTP Command Central was still sitting there on the desktop and I just yanked the cables from the newer machine and stuck them in the old one (and booted up the eMac to check email while VFTP Command Central updated all the software that hasn't been used in lo these many months.)

Again, I guess I shouldn't complain: You know you're leading the life of the Decadent Westerner when one computer on your desk takes a dump, and you just go the backup computer...