Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Don't miss this opportunity...

Sean at An NC Gun Blog has opened his October 22nd shooting event to his readership. Said shooting event is going to be a one-day, 8-hour Handgun I course with TigerSwan at their home range in Fayetteville, NC. Cost is $210 plus ten bucks for lunch and other incidentals.

I have heard nothing but good stuff about TigerSwan. Were I still living in K-town, I'd be hopping across the mountains for this class without a moment's hesitation.

National Hair Shirt.

I can hear The Today Show faintly in the other room. It seems we are well and truly reaching the climax of our national month-long banquet of sackcloth and ashes commemorating the tenth anniversary of the Saudi Arabian radical Islamic terrorist attacks on American soil which murdered thousands of American citizens.

Except people being interviewed are saying things like "...and then 9/11 happened...", like it was an earthquake or blizzard, and " husband died...", like he'd just had a little myocardial infarction at his desk one fine autumn day.

Ten years after Pearl Harbor, we had reduced Japan to a glowing pile of radioactive cinders and then rebuilt it and were buying cheap Japanese consumer goods by the shipload. Ten years after New York City was attacked by foreign enemies, all I see as evidence around Indy are a maudlin memorial being erected downtown, TSA probulators and porn-O-scans at the airport, and the occasional young man with an empty sleeve or trouser leg.

Dude, where's my country?

Overheard in the Hallway:

Me: "Boomslang! Boomslang!"

RX: "Actually, it's pronounced 'boomslahng'."

Me: "Yes, but that's not as fun to say. Plus, it's pronounced 'Nee-ha-RAH-ghwa', but we say 'Nicaragua'. And it's pronounced 'Deutschland', and we say 'Germany'."

RX: "...and it's pronounced 'Fran-swah' but we say..."

Me: "Frank-case!"

RX: "We do not say Frank-case."

*Firefox's spell-checker doesn't know 'Deutschland'. "Did you mean 'Sudetenland'?" it offers as a possible alternative just dripping with historical irony.

That '70s Show.

Well, we have high gas prices, gold is up, the economy's stagnant, and now the president's relatives are getting likkered up in public.

It's a good thing we don't currently have an embassy in Tehran, that's all I'm sayin'. (Although, given the grace with which our current Dear Leader handles Anglo-American relations, we still have a shot at boycotting an Olympics.)

Today In History: What a crappy way to go.

On this date in 1422, Henry V, one of the studliest of English Kings and a dead ringer for Kenneth Branagh (at least in my mind's eye) pooped his last in the Château de Vincennes, dying of a case of dysentery he'd picked up in an earlier siege. His sudden death left his son as king of England, demonstrating a great flaw in the whole scheme of monarchy: Namely that not only can it leave a crazy simpleton in charge, but that crazy simpleton might, in fact, be just nine months old at the time.

Incidentally, the Château de Vincennes served later as a prison (whose guests included the Marquis de Sade) an arsenal and a fort, and it was the walls of the Château against which Mata Hari was stood up and shot in 1917 after being convicted of espionage.

Boy, there are just places on this earth where you can get bulk discounts on your history.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

More zoo photos...

I think this guy's an Inland Bearded Dragon, but he has acquired the nickname "Bust-A-Pose lizard", due to his exquisitely evolved ability to make sure you only photograph his good side.

This is the famous common tie-dyed lizard, sometimes known as the "whoa, dude". Its natural range used to extend all the way to the back row of the Grateful Dead concert, but now only runs from the parking lot of the Phish show to the western edge of Burning Man. Most frequently seen basking at the bottom of tequila bottles, lurking in clouds of bhang smoke, or hiding in thickets of peyote cactus.

Tools I found on the internets:

Two handy tools I discovered on the internets and have used frequently ever since:
  • Billy Beck's "cannibal pot" analogy for the evils and perils of collectivism.

  • Joe Huffman's "Jews In The Attic" test as a quick and easy headspace gauge for any proposed piece of legislation.
Both are extremely useful for framing concepts in discussions, too, and I use them a lot in meatspace these days as well as on the 'nets.

Not that it would ever happen...

...but assuming the God Squad actually got their fantasy Constitutional Amendment Defining Marriage, what would happen to all those queer folk out there with pre-ban marriages? Would their marriage certificate be grandfathered, and become as valuable as a transferable M240?

Would their marriage be annulled? Or would they be sent to federal prison (in separate cells, of course)?

I'll tell you one thing: This just goes to show that registration inevitably leads to confiscation. We should get the .gov out of the marriage business entirely.

Overheard in the Office:

RX: "I grew up in a part of the country lousy with artesian wells. It was neat to be walking through a pasture or woodlot and see a horse trough with a pipe next to it and water just bubbling up out of the pipe."

Me: "I grew up in a part of the country lousy with Cartesian wells. You'd walk around and see these pipes spewing mathematical symbols and philosophical arguments into the air."

The Far Side of the World.

So, the other day, I was going to refer to Wouter's Blog in a post as "antipodean". Out of curiosity, I went to see what Wikipedia had to say on the topic, and had typed in a-n-t-i-p-o-d... when autocomplete let me know that there actually was such a place as the Antipodes Islands. Huh.

The Antipodes, situated some 530 miles southeast of New Zealand and about a hundred miles northwest of the ass end of nowhere, are inhospitable, largely treeless, and covered with a lush mat of grasses, mosses, and bird droppings.

They were important during the last part of the 19th Century because, in those days, the most common way to go drop off a cargo of ne'er-do-wells and hooligans in Botany Bay and then pop over to New Zealand to pick up a fresh load of Mokomokai to bring back to London was to sail around the Cape of Good Hope and right into the Roaring Forties.

Since nobody had weather radar or a good GPS on their clipper ships, they were all the time getting blown off course and wrecking in these and other nearby islands. Eventually, the New Zealand government built regularly-patrolled castaway depots on them, to put a stop to shipwrecked sailors dying of exposure while huddling in huts made of driftwood and biscuit tins.

As a sign of the boundless optimism of the age, an English family business decided to try and struggle back from its losses after its rope factory burned down by branching out into the whaling business, and they decided that the Auckland islands, some four hundred miles to the west of the Antipodes and every bit as depressing, would be a splendid place to plant a colony. It fizzled quicker than a Fred Thompson presidential campaign, and the Enderby family went broke.

I have this uncontrollable desire now to go to stand next to that old cemetery on Auckland Island just so I can say "Yup. This is the middle of nowhere, alright."

Monday, August 29, 2011

This Machine Breeds Fascists.

Folk musician Woodie Guthrie, named after Mussolini's hero and New Jersey governor Woodie Wilson, was an icon of the Old Left in America. He palled around with L.A. commies like Hoosier Will Geer and even wrote a column for The Daily Worker.

These were the background influences of the postwar American left, who slogged on their Gramscian march through the institutions, seizing the groves of academy and assaulting up the stairways of ivory towers humming tunes that had originally been strummed on Woodie's guitar, with its famous sticker.

In light of recent events, there is a certain delicious irony in the fact that Woodie played a Gibson.

This land is your land, all right, Woodie; you helped build it with your own two hands. Too bad you didn't live to see it.

The subtle racism of... well, really it's not too subtle.

In a slow-on-the-draw (get it?) editorial from the Orlando Sentinel, all the usual cliches get trotted out to bemoan Florida's "firearms-preemption-with-teeth" law, deriding all those buckaroos and buckarettes who are jest itchin' to turn the parking lot of the local Publix into the O-K Corral. (Were this editorial cliché anthropomorphized, it would be on wife #2 and shopping for a Corvette, yet journalists can no more help repeating it than one of those talking dolls when you jerk its string.)

I'm going to pass up on the chance to mock them for being only 150 news cycles behind the internets, which might explain why it's a safer bet to book Steve Jobs for a speaking engagement in 2013 than it is to buy stock in a newspaper company, and focus on this part instead:
Like many of Florida's local governments, we actually don't like the state-knows-best, locals-haven't-a-clue bias in the '87 law. It's intended to keep urban areas like South and Central Florida suffering gun violence from enacting tougher firearms rules than some rural communities.
Oh, I see how it is. You can trust folks in rural communities to behave themselves with guns, but you need to crack down on... you know... Those People in the cities with some harsh gun laws to keep them from getting up to mischief.

Hasn't that always been what gun control's about? From the Sullivan Act in New York City, meant to keep the swarthy wops from killing each other in wine-sotted papist rages, to Southern states passing laws to keep them uppity darkies disarmed and down on the plantation, that's what gun control is, all the way down to the bone: It's not about guns at all, it's about control.

Who knew?

All that dough spent on the space program and gigantic radio-telescopes, all that grant money used to let grad students while away late nights updating their Facebook pages and mailing off manuscripts in hopes of becoming the next Stephen Baxter, and it turns out that you could have found the center of the universe with your TeeVee remote and the battered 1992 Rand McNally from your glovebox.

Who knew?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Overheard outside the Fun Show:

Friend-of-a-Friend: "I also got this German Dreyse .32 with a cracked frame. They were so desperate for guns to issue to... here, look where they riveted the frame through the crack... The Germans were handing these old World War One pistols out to second-line guys in World War Two."

Me: "Whoah. It's cracked right through, alright. I wouldn't shoot that on a bet."

FoaF: "Wanna buy a Dreyse?"

Me: "Nah, I have one already. I think I'll pass; I'm good on Dreyses."

FoaF: "Twenty-five bucks..."

Me: (fishing in pocket) "Sold."

FoaF: "Heck, the magazine's worth that."

Me: "I actually shoot mine, so I figure I'm buying a complete set of spare parts bolted to a cracked frame."

VFTP is this many!

My first post on this blog was six years ago today. I hadn't a clue what I was doing or why I was doing it.

Six years, 7,915 posts, and more than four million visitors later, I still don't. I hope to figure it out sooner or later, though, so stay tuned!

(It is, by the way, purely a coincidence that the Indy Blogmeet is today.)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The wood police.

I swear to Mises, if Ayn Rand had put a scene in Atlas Shrugged where the federal environmental cops were raiding musical instrument manufacturers because they weren't complying with federal wood-labeling laws, critics would have howled with derision at the fanciful and unrealistic scenarios she was making up to ham-handedly hammer her point home.

This is the part where I am grabbing you by your lapels, shaking you and yelling "Now will you people listen?"
"There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. When there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws." -Dr. Floyd Ferris in Atlas Shrugged

Federal laws get ever more ridiculous, like that scene in the Monty Python movie where the Knights Who Say "Ni!" demand that Arthur cut down the largest tree in the forest with a herring. Except, where Arthur flatly told them it couldn't be done and he wouldn't do it, we just grab the fish and say "Duh, okay," and trudge off into the forest to try and comply. As Eric wrote at Classical Values back in '09:
I think it is no accident that they make the loss of freedom as boring as it is possible to make it. They think this will make most people go away, and they are right. Only a maniac (or someone with a special interest) would actually spend his time reading this bill. There is probably not one member of Congress who read it, but then, they say that about all the monstrous bills cranked out by this monstrous government which every last one of our founders would decry as precisely what they were trying to avoid when they wrote the Constitution.
But nobody's going to say boo about this, because it's about plants and trees, and that's nature. And we'll do anything for nature. Anything.

Is there any possible law or regulation, any edict from the Palaces on the Potomac, that would result in, not just massive noncompliance the way that 55mph speed limits and marijuana laws do, but a collective and unanimous laugh in their face? Derision on the front page of every paper? Mockery on every newscast? Open, public defiance?

Welp, gotta run. Gotta sharpen up my herring and get ready for the day.

Friday, August 26, 2011

"Blow up your dome-piece..."

Unc links to a tale of an elderly couple who botched a suicide pact that involved shooting themselves in the grape. Apparently whatever they used caused little enough damage that they drove themselves to the hospital.

Regardless of what the caliber actually was (my guess would be a .32 of some sort), allow me to expand on the whole "shot in the grape" thing.

A generation of people raised on the TeeVee and vidjo games hears "headshot" and thinks "FATALITY!" with some kind of special animation as your score rolls up. In reality:
  1. The brain only takes up about half of your head. The rest of it can make for messy-but-not-particularly-incapacitating wounds.
  2. The skull is shaped to protect the brain.
  3. Pistol bullets are weak. Even the strong ones.
  4. Most inexpensive pistol bullets have a round nose. The part of the skull that is full of brain is also round. Anybody who has spent thirty seconds at a billiards table knows what most often happens when two rounded surfaces come into contact.
  5. Even if a shot hits right in the face, which is not notably round, there is so much spongy bone before you get to the part where the important stuff is that even major-caliber pistol bullets probably won't reach it.
  6. And if the hit is too high above the eyebrows, that pistol bullet will likely make like the aforementioned billiard balls.
Ergo, "shot in the head" doesn't necessarily mean what the general public thinks it means. There is at least one Vietnam-era helicopter pilot who has a hole from a DShK bullet in either side of his flight helmet. (Which must make for the mother of all souvenirs...)

If a rash of tar and feathers appears, notify your doctor immediately.


(Seen here.)

Mrs. Edna Blascowicz of Dubuque, Iowa...

...the residents of Greenwood, Indiana thank you for your generous contribution.

I mean, they're probably sorry that you came up a couple pennies short at the Safeway today and had to put the box of tea bags back, but those pennies went to a good cause.

When last we had left this story, the good citizens of Greenwood were bemoaning the lack of guardrails around some of the retention ponds that dot the greenswards of this sleepy patch of suburbia.

Well, at least some of them were. Others thought that one inattentive or possibly inebriated driver per annum into the drink was a small price to pay for an uncluttered view of herons and duckies doing the nature thing on these man-made water hazards. (And if the driver that went into the drink had already been into the drink, then so much the better, actually.)

But the recently-bereaved aren't known for their sober and dispassionate calculations or their appreciation of bucolic vistas; if your loved one falls into the Grand Canyon, you want that hazard filled in and damn the cost, so let's put those guardrails up, Mr. Mayor!

When Greenwood city officials pointed out that putting guardrails around just the most obviously dangerous roadside ponds could cost upwards of a million dollars that the city just didn't have, they huffed at the idea of a price tag being attached to human lives:
"I don't know how many lives it takes before money doesn't become an issue," said [bereaved stepfather] Mears.
Except, of course, that a price tag is always attached to human lives and guardrails aren't crapped out by benevolent guardrail-crapping unicorns but bought and paid for by taxpayers, and the taxpayers of Greenwood just didn't feel like coughing up the dough.

Enter Mrs. Edna Blascowicz of Dubuque. And Mr. Frank Johnston of Walla Walla. And Ms. Stefani Lee of Poughkeepsie. And you. The city fathers of Greenwood have shaken each and every one of you down for a contribution to their guardrail fund.
Greenwood applied for a federal grant in May, through the Highway Safety Improvement Program, after several deadly accidents in retention ponds.

They were just approved for the money and hope to start constructing guard rails next year.
So, thanks to whatever part of Article I of the U.S. Constitution says that Congress may tax the citizens of the several States directly and then hand the loot over to the municipal government of Greenwood, Indiana, Darwin has been thwarted yet again and the people that wanted a good view of the ducks are going to be out of luck and the world will get just that much Nerf-ier.

Here we all are, sitting around the cannibal pot.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Oh, suck it up, buttercup.

Unless you've been doing a media fast in a sealed underground bunker for the last forty-eight hours or so, surely you are aware that there was an earthquake recently in the world.

No, I don't mean the big one in Colorado, which doesn't really matter since it's not ski season and therefore nobody's there right now, at least nobody that matters.

I mean The Quake. The Big One of 2011. The one that hit at the epicenter of everything and everybody frickin' important. The one that may have actually sloshed some vodka martini out of a congresscritter's lunchtime pick-me-up at the Article One American Grill or spilled whatever brand of kibble it is that they feed the First Portuguese Water Dog.

But don't worry, the media is on this story, and no expense will be spared to reconstruct the important infrastructure of America's beating heart:

(Found in my inbox. Posted it as soon as I caught my breath from laughing...)

Remember the 5.2 quake Indianapolis had back in '08? Or the 3.8 last December? Neither do we. (I had to look them up; I couldn't have pegged their dates within the nearest six months.)

The Japanese must've been watching the news in slack-jawed amazement the other day. Thank goodness that they're too polite to laugh at us in public.

Well, that sucks.

I went to bed last night planning on taking my lunch at The Aristocrat pub today. The humidity had been broken by the front that moved through, the high was expected to be in the low '80s, and I was looking forward to taking the book I was reading, hopping on the Broad Ripple SUV, and pedaling over to enjoy a bowl of French onion soup and a sammich of some sort while chilling on their shady patio.

Then I walked into roomie's bedroom this morning where the TeeWee was blaring, only to find out that I'd need to change my plans. Dammit.

(Incidentally, The Aristocrat makes a guest appearance in The Weapon; unsurprising, since Mike Williamson lived around the corner for years.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Everybody else is doing it...

Since I've seen this in various places on my daily rounds, I figured I'd play, too. (The list, for the two of you that didn't know, is the "100 Best SF/Fantasy Books" based on a poll of NPR listeners. The meme that's going about its to bold the ones you've read.)

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
3. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert
5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin
6. 1984, by George Orwell
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov
9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan
13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson
15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein
18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss
19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick
22. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King (Only the first two.)
24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
25. The Stand, by Stephen King
26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
28. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman
30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller
36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells
40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny
41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings
42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson
44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven
45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin
46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White
48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
49. Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke
50. Contact, by Carl Sagan
51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons
52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
54. World War Z, by Max Brooks
55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson
59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold
60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
61. The Mote In God’s Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind
63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist
67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks
68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard
69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
70. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne
73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore
74. Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi
75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson
76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke
77. The Kushiel’s Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey
78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson
82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks
84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart
85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher
87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn
89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan
90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock
91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury
92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge
94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov
95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson
96. Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville
99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony
100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis

It's obvious that this was a poll of NPR listeners. I mean, The Handmaid's Tale? Really? (And was The Road actually SF or Fantasy?)

Ain't that how it always goes?

Farmer Frank's latest hunting trip illustrates the timeless adage that "Two is one and one is none":
I had more equipment failures this trip than I ever have had in my entire life. I lost a brand new thermal imagining scope. (It went 'white' screen and wouldn't come back.) Then, my military grade Aimpoint puked, which was followed shortly by my ITT PVS-14 night vision monocular when it went dead. That's D-E-A-D as in "Nothing". I got by after 'borrowing' a PVS-14 from the rancher (I originally sold it to him anyway) as well as another Aimpoint from a friend of his.
I know that Frank James doesn't use crap gear, and some of his stuff picked a dark night halfway 'cross the country to go toes up on him.

This maxim goes double for guns: Ol' Betsy may have never broken or malfunctioned on you at the range but...
  • Travel far from home, or
  • Spend a bunch of money for a hunt or class, or
  • Enter the big match or go on the hunt of a lifetime
...and don't bring a spare, and sure as God made little green apples, it'll choke like the Atlanta Braves in the postseason.

A ≠ B

In the comments section of a post about Rick Perry at Snowflakes In Hell, someone wrote
"Rick Perry is a a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Unfortunately, many will look at his involvement in the recent prayer service as a sign that he is a true friend of liberty."
That made me blink for a second. Huh? What?

I had to reply:
That statement is as non-sequiturish as saying “…his involvement in the recent Little League game as a sign that he is a true friend of stamp collecting.”

Attendance at a prayer service is no more a marker of being a friend of liberty than attendance at a square dance is of being a friend of Chinese food. The two are completely orthogonal.
Attending a prayer service does not preclude being a friend of liberty, nor either is it an indicator of same. The two have not a thing to do with each other at all. It is as possible to pray for liberty as it is to pray people into cattle cars.

As it says in the Good Book: By their fruits shall ye know the friends of liberty, not by what they mouth while standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets and on the Sunday morning political talk shows, that they may be seen of men.

Tab Clearing...

  • Silicon Graybeard points out that, even though fantasies of running around in the woods, yelling "Wolverines!" and shooting at foreign-speaking invaders are a lot more appealing to some people than another Monday morning in the cubicle farm, you might want to make sure that your colander is dress-code compliant.

  • Our buddy Keads gets a moment on the magic talking picture box! In a favorable story about firearms and self-defense, no less!

  • Look, I am foursquare against helmet laws. But don't try and justify* not wearing one by buying into bogus theories that they're somehow more dangerous or something. They're not. (A well-designed, properly-fitting full-face helmet will not restrict your vision, will let you hear better at freeway speeds by eliminating the turbulence around your ears, and is more aerodynamic than your own natural grape, so don't give me that "caught in a gust of wind" crap.) Nut up and be a grownup and say "I'm a big girl and can take the added risk to feel the wind in my hair if I want to, so piss off, Nanny State."
*Incidentally, this is one of my biggest gripes about wading into fact- and data-laden poo-flinging arguments with anti-gunners about crime rates and murders-per-100k and so forth. The correct answer is "Where the hell do you get off thinking you can tell me I can't own a gun? I don't care if every other gun owner on the planet went out and murdered somebody last night. I didn't. So piss off."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Three needles to the lower right jaw followed by a below-the-gums cleaning. I feel like I took a shot to the jaw from Tyson. Seriously, it's about as sore as it was after I had my wisdom teef pulled.

I'm going to take some Vitamin I and have a little lie-down.

Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

Remember six months ago, when France, Italy, and England dragged a reluctant Obama into agreeing to participate in a "no-fly" zone to ground the Libyan Air Force, so that Qa... Kha... Gadhafi wouldn't be able to use it to massacre unarmed civilians? And Obama said stuff about "time-limited, scope-limited" and "days, not weeks" and how we'd just be providing logistical and reconnaisance support for other NATO forces?

And how we then spent the next six months handling the brunt of the sorties, making sure Qa... Kha... Gadhafi's planes didn't fly, nor his helicopters, or his tanks or cannons or armored personnel carriers or guys with rifles?

Because I remember it happening pretty much that way, but MiniTru is telling me I'm wrong:
President Obama added a victory to his record on Monday as Libyan rebels moved closer to seizing control from Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi...
Wait, what? A quick scan around the usual sources and you'd think that Barry was preparing to storm Qa... Kha... Gadhafi's compound single-handedly, with a knife in his teeth, and gas prices will recede like the oceans did at his election.

(Seriously: the local news had a reporter and camera crew out staring at the digital price sign at a local Speedway gas station in the pre-dawn darkness, waiting for the numbers to fall on the news from Tripoli, like a Roman augur taking the auspices from a flock of pigeons crapping on the Forum.)

Monday, August 22, 2011

If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all.

Shootin' Buddy called the other day. His friend with whom he normally goes to gun school had taken a spill and hurt his shoulder and was listed as day-to-day. Just in case, would I want to step into the on-deck circle for an upcoming three-day Awerbuck Shotgun I class? I mean, since it was already paid for and everything?

Duh. "Hey, kid! Want some free ice cream?" Uh, yes.

Phone rings this morning. It's official, his friend is out and said he'd be cool with me taking his slot. Awesome!

When's the class?



I call down to the dental school, but because of the way the students are scheduled, it's not like they can just bump me back to Friday or Monday. Oh, no; the next morning opening for my almost-a-dentist is two weeks out and there's an afternoon slot (which I hate) a week and a half away. And I can tell from the tone that re-scheduling would be viewed as a little uncool, because my case is my student's competency exam and tomorrow's appointment is one more than we'd initially planned on anyway.

I am missing a free trip to gun school because of a dentist appointment. I am going to be sitting in that chair tomorrow, with my face numb and my teeth getting poked and scraped down below the gum line and thinking "Right now I could be at a shooting range, using somebody else's pimped 870, shooting somebody else's ammo, on a free trip to gun school." I am typing this through actual tears of frustration.

I swear, some days it's not worth getting out of bed.

Well that's disorientating...

Normally the alarms go off at Roseholme at 0600. I'll saunter into roomie's room and make sure she's heard them, and then flop down on her bed to watch the little man and woman in the magic talking picture box tell me if it's going to rain today and whether or not the city burned down last night. I'll then meander into the kitchen at about 0630 and scrounge up something breakfast-like, and then go try and be creative on the computer until about 1000 or so.

Not this morning. Woke up on the fly this morning, prepared to gulp down some coffee, cram for my plaque test, leave a one-paragraph placeholder post and head out the door to see Almost-A-Doctor Katie at 0900...

...only to double-check the appointment card and see that the dentist's appointment is for tomorrow morning, not today.


That'll mess up your scheduling, right there.

EDIT: If only I'd known how prophetic that last sentence was.

Overheard in the Kitchen:

Coffee preparation is underway. I start singing, to the tune of the old Folger's jingle...
Me: "The best part of waking up..."

RX: " getting rid of the thundermug."

Me: *uncontrollable fit of giggling*

RX: "I had no idea that 'thundermug' was a triggering word for you."

Me: "It's just one of those funny words. And it's almost as fun to say as 'boomslang'!"

RX: "You really don't want to find a boomslang in your thundermug!"

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Can he balance a ball of C4 on his nose?

Okay, he's pretty big and fast, and he's got sharp teeth, so I can totally see how he could take down Osama Bin Laden, but getting a dozen of those things into an MH-60 Black Hawk has got to be like trying to get the worms back into the can...

Big kitty!

Fred at Guns & Coffee also went to the zoo on Saturday, albeit the one in Madison, Wisconsin.

While he was there, he totally schooled me in the Taking Pictures Of Tigers department.

I really oughtta get a DSLR...

More zoo photos...

A not-very-good picture of a Gaboon viper. I include it for two reasons (other than the fact that it just looks cool and it's almost as fun to say "Gaboon viper" as it is to say "boomslang"...)
  1. The reason that it is not a very good pic is because I was taking my photos with available light, unlike the self-centered jackass in front of us who stopped in front of each tank in the darkened half ot the snake exhibit and lit off his flash. I was ready to grab his DSLR by the zoom lens and beat him to his knees with the camera body. I checked the news this morning in the hope that he had died in a crotch fire on the drive home, but no such luck...

  2. Also, the sign on the tank proclaimed that the scientific name of this subspecies of Gaboon viper is Bitis rhinoceros, which, as Bobbi pointed out, is Huck the Cat's life's ambition.
On the list of "Things That Creep Tamara Right The Heck Out", go 'head and pencil in "The Legs Of A Marabou Stork" at the bottom. (Although if I remember correctly, you could get Marabou Barbie's knees to bend like this, too, which made for very authentic pink Corvette wrecks.)

Obviously these two white rhinos are tired out after a tough day of rhinocerosin'. Either that, or someone just told them that the nickname of their species is "square-lipped rhinoceros", and they're sulking.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Two by two, tongues of blue...

One of the more popular attractions at the Indy Zoo is the twice-daily opportunity to feed the giraffles.

(For those who didn't know, giraffles have tongues a foot long or so. And they're blue like a chow dog.)

BONUS!: Meta-giraffles!

We've got lions and tigers only in Kenya...

There is no zoom-lens trickery involved here. Thanks to Indy Zoo's new tiger exhibit, which has a 1.5" pane of glass separating you from Shere Khan, you can get right up close. I waited for a hole in the wall of kiddies and dropped to my knee to get eye-to-eye with P. tigris.

Of course, there are little pink hairless monkeys lining the walls of the viewing area, and el tigre's pacing the glass like Huck presented with a bell jar full of squirrels, hence the difficulty in getting a crisply-focused pic...

I'm going back on a weekday when I can spend more time trying to get a good shot. (Er, with the camera, not the .405 Win T/C Encore...)


Went to the Indianapolis Zoo with roomie today. Had a great time and took lots of pics, but I am just whupped right now; it's been a long day in the hot sun. Bobbi is already napping and I'm thinking about doing likewise. More later...

Overheard in the Office:

Me: "...and when I was little, we'd go downtown and ride the monorail on the roof of the big Rich's department store! It'd go right along the edge of the roof, six stories up, and it was shaped like a pink pig, and you rode inside the pig..."

RX: "No, Tam, I'm afraid those were the drugs they gave you."

Me: "No, really!"

EDITED TO ADD: Apparently, back in the '50s, before liability lawyers were invented and it was discovered that fun was actually hazardous to children, there was a fad for these miniature monorails in the toy departments of big city department stores. (Although it took an especially inspired madness to make it look like a pig and put it on the roof...) Sadly, it looks like none are actually operating anymore.

Wouldn't it have been have been fun to be a salesman for the Louden Machinery Company, traveling from city to city, going into department store boardrooms and singing...

Well, sir, there's nothing on earth
Like a genuine,
Bona fide,
What'd I say?



Friday, August 19, 2011

Tab Clearing...

  • From deep inside the reality distortion field: Steve Jobs destroys entire computer industry with kung-fu punch! "Within a couple a years Windows will be the niche OS."

  • "Oh, Dave Weber, no!"

  • Months, not days: "Kinetic" Operations would seem to imply that things are actually moving. Thankfully you need to have boots on the ground or a Republican in the White House for the press to use the "Q" word.

  • Licensed coffin makers? Next thing you know, you'll be telling me you need a government permission slip to cut hair. Where do think you are? East Germany?

Always scouting for talent...

via reader BGMiller in email:
A Secret Service agent on assignment in Iowa to help with presidential security has been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

City Police Chief Bill Nixon says 40-year-old Daniel L. Valencia was off duty when he was arrested Saturday in Decorah.
Well, Agent Valencia, I'm sorry to hear that your fed career has probably crossed the double yellow of life.

Look on the bright side of things, though! Should the USSS ash-can you, you've obviously got just the résumé for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. They're always looking for a few good men who can conn a Crown Vic while they're half in the bag.


Waiting for the dishwasher to finish up before going to run some errands, I'm reloading Alan's blog over and over to see the different pictures he uses for the header. (Even though he has them all on one page linked in his sidebar...)

I think the one with the torpedo tubes is my favorite.

I am such a dork.

Well, actually maybe that wasn't so funny.

So Robb Allen posted the other day about Project X-Ray, the World War 2 plan to make primitive guided incendiary cluster munitions by strapping timed pyrotechnic devices to bats and stuffing them into bomb casings so that, when dropped over Japan from USAAF B-29s, they would scatter and roost under the eaves of houses come the dawn.

As it turned out, we were incinerating entire Japanese cities just fine without chiropterid assistance, and so the project was shelved without burning down anything but test targets and the occasional non-target building on the base.

I was going to make a joke in his comments section that we were going to burn Japanese cities with bats in revenge for them trying to burn our forests with balloons.

I seemed to recollect that the Japanese balloon bombs caused the only civilian fatalities in the continental US due to enemy fire during WWII, and so I went to research...

And indeed they did. Not just any casualties, either: A young minister, his pregnant wife, and five Sunday school children went out for a picnic. While the pastor was laying out the picnic goods his wife and the children ran over to investigate what looked like a crashed balloon. It exploded, killing all six right before the reverend's eyes. There's a memorial on the spot today.

Pastor Mitchell, the widower of almost 20% of US Home Front KIA in the Second World War, eventually remarried and traveled to French Indochina to minister to lepers. While there he was taken prisoner by Viet Cong guerrillas and marched into the jungle in 1962, and was never seen again.

And for some reason, I had completely forgotten what I was going to joke about.

"Over __ Days Since Our Last Gaffe!"

An IMPD officer was arrested the other day. Was it for:
A. Streaking
B. Filling In A Wetland Without An EPA Permit
C. Operating A Vehicle While Intoxicated

If you guessed "C", you're absolutely right! Once again, it is proven that the letters stand for "I Must Patrol Drunk". (And while we're on the subject of drunken Indianapolis cops, there's still a stick through the spokes of the wheels of justice in the matter of IMPD Officer David "Bottles" Bisard.)

Ah, IMPD! As long as you keep doing this, I'll never lack for blogfodder.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Overheard in the Office:

I'm reading through LabRat's post on manatees, chatting over my shoulder with Bobbi, who is standing behind me and notices something flash by on the screen...
RX: "What? 'All over Table Mountain'?"

Me: "Oh, yes, they go flopping up the sheer slopes to their traditional breeding grounds at the summit."

RX: "Wait..."

Me: "It's where they lay their eggs!"

RX: "I don't think these are the kind of manatees I'm familiar with."

Public Relations Protip:

When touring the shuttered factories and idled industrial plants of the heartland to bring hope and change to people whom you would like to vote for you, you shouldn't do it in a foreign-made RV. I cannot believe that this gaffe slipped right by all the 20lb brains on Barry's PR staff.

Mr. President, if you had a scheduled stop in Elkhart, IN, you may want to just go 'head and cancel it now that this story has got out.

What're you gonna do? Vote Republican?

In response to Rep. Maxine Waters' public gripefest about the Dear Leader, Bill Quick retorts:
You have no clout. You gave it away. I mean, what are you gonna do? Call him a racist for ignoring you?

(Incidentally, is it just me, or is Maxine actually getting crazier?)

This is what happens...

...when you let the kind of people who worry about shoulder things that go up to write firearms law:
So I bought the book a few months ago, from Parow Arms & Ammo. Completed the open book exam, made an appointment, was handed a closed book exam asking the easy half of the questions from the open book exam, exchanged that for a competency certificate they had printed the week before, and then had to put ten shots into an A5 paper target at 10m with a Norinco LM4 (I think).

I’ve heard that one can fail the competency but if you do you should probably have someone help you with the shoelaces thing in the morning as well.
The above quote is from a post in which Wouter is describing his travails in getting rubber-stamped to buy a semiauto rifle in South Africa.

It's a pretty fine kettle of fish gun owners seem to have found themselves in down there: The Great Big Firearms Law they passed was apparently as convoluted as a bucket of earthworms and has only gotten more Through-The-Looking-Glass with successive attempts to "fix" it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Overheard in the Office, Part Deux:

Me: "RWC just said 'Wait until next week when they offer the board bender package'..."

RX: "What's a board bender?"

Me: "I dunno... hang on..." *clickity-click* "Here you are."

RX: "Oh, one of those! Those are neat! You use those when you're building decks and..."

Me: "Wow, you could really f#@$ somebody up with one of those things!"

RX: "You say that about everything: tools, flashlights, shoes, wine bottles..."

Overheard in the Office:

While we were at the State Fair, Bobbi picked up a couple of neat-o garden auger bits that could be chucked up in a drill motor and used for planting bulbs and suchlike in the clay soil of the raised bed in the back yard.

This morning I was messing around on Amazon and saw one of their Dealio-of-the-Day things.

Me: "Hey, Amazon is having a sale on this "Milwaukee Fork Meter & Cordless Drill" thing. I don't have a drill motor and I don't know what a 'fork meter' is..."

RX: "[arcane explanation involving amps and volts and things that can electrocute me and which I therefore avoid like the plague]"

Me: "So that's something you could find a use for, then?"

RX: "It could come in handy."

Me: "Is $99 a good deal?"

RX: "What do they normally sell the meter for by itself?"

Me: "Almost that."

RX: "So, free drill."

Me: "Right. On the way."
Tools are neat things. I'm glad that some people know what the heck they do. Me? I'm mostly an idea person; execution is generally somebody else's department.


Three more hours of Almost-A-Doctor Mandy all up in my grille with a drill yesterday. I feel like I got socked in the mouth by Mike Tyson.

The worst part about afternoon appointments down there is that they frequently drag on perilously close to 5PM, and then turn you loose on in the middle of a large urban university/medical campus to do the bumper-to-bumper shuffle with a faceful of Novocaine.

On the plus side, it was a great day to drop the top for the drive home, and all the better for having "Die Young Stay Pretty" cranked on the stereo.

I $ New York.

Checking the news this morning, I glanced over something about New York City and bridges and money. "Nope," I muttered to myself, "I wouldn't do it for four bucks and I won't for fourteen bucks. You're going to need to offer me more than that."

And then I realized that that was how much they were going to charge me to drive across the bridges into their wretched hive of scum and villainy, not how much they were going to pay me to do so.

You have got to be out of your ever-loving mind.

Tab Clearing...

  • Jim at the Travis McGee Reader attended the Iowa Straw poll and has a series of posts on the topic written in his inimitable style. I was somewhat disappointed to see no photographs of actual straws.

  • Santa Rosa, CA PD SWAT sets up a little display for the kiddies at a neighborhood festival, including a couple of firearms on the junk-on-the-bunk table. Said kiddies are allowed (under supervision) to touch. The Eloi at the local newspaper issue a Code Brown PSH Alert. Good thing the Army recruiters didn't set up a booth; those guys bring 240 Bravos and grenade launchers.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011



What: Blogmeet-type thing.

Who: You and whoever else feels like showing up.

Where: The Broad Ripple Brew Pub.

When: Sunday, August 28th, starting at 3PM and running 'til whenever we get bored or they start putting chairs on tables and making expectant throat-clearing noises.

Why: Well, duh. Because we can.

Formative experiences...

You want to know why I'm a little OCD when it comes to chamber checks on firearms? Allow me to share a story:

At the first gun shop at which I worked, which was also a pawn shop, we had a relationship with a pawn shop owner down in the city. Every few months, he'd drive out to see us with a briefcase containing a few old Colt Police Positives and Smith .38/.32 Terriers and Browning Vest Pockets and suchlike and we would swap him a big box of Lorcins and Hi-Points and Jennings and cash to make up the difference.

One time he came up, the sticking point in the negotiations was a PPK, an early Interarms-marked stainless example. Initially he was thinking about keeping it. Then he wanted too much for it. Then he relented and we added it to our side of the pile.

He handed the Walther to me, and I locked the slide back and checked the chamber, and passed it to a coworker over at the computer. She printed a trigger tag out for it and handed it, slide still locked back, to one of the other salespeople, who put it in the showcase.

Then our buddy the pawn shop owner crawfished. I sighed and pulled the gun from the showcase, removed the trigger tag, and laid it on the counter between him and my boss. About the time pawn shop guy was leaving, I was walking out of the store to cross the street and get lunch for everybody.

When I came back, there was the PPK, sitting on the counter by the computer. "Arthur changed his mind again?" I asked, and was told that, indeed, he had sat in his car for a moment and then came back in and threw the Walther in on the deal at the last minute. Sweet! I still had the trigger tag handy, so I put it back on the gun and passed it to the salesman who put it back in the showcase with one hand while eating his hamburger with the other.

I wandered off to a far corner of the showroom where I could eat my burger in peace, back turned to the sales floor, when *KA-BAM!*

A customer is standing there with the PPK in his hand and an appalled look on his face, smoke wisping theatrically from the barrel and a divot in the linoleum at his feet containing a flattened Winchester Silvertip.

That's right, Arthur had loaded the PPK back up in his car, and then brought it back in to add to the trade, and not one person who handled it from the time I picked it up and put the trigger tag on it to the time the customer made the loud noise had bothered to inspect the chamber because, hey, we had already done that when he brought it in the first time, right?

Lesson learned: I don't care if I set the gun down and just look away for a second; that gun gets checked again when I pick it up. Period. Unless it has been in my field of vision the whole time, I don't know what might have happened to it while I wasn't paying attention.

Monday, August 15, 2011

QotD: American-Occupied America Edition

"By every account the response by every responsible entity - Mayor Ballard's outstanding police and fire forces - our own Indiana State Police, the security force of the State Fair itself, emergency management personnel, was instantaneous and highly professional. It's equally important to say what I heard over and over and over again last night - that individual Hoosiers ran to the trouble, not from the trouble, by the hundreds, offering in many cases their own professional skills. I've heard it from everybody I've debriefed this morning. People rushing up, 'I'm a nurse, I'm a doctor, I'm a trained EMS responder.' But also people who simply pitched in," -Gov. Daniels
You are your own First Responder.

Books 'n' Tunes:

Driving around with the top down on the Zed Drei the other day, running errands. After the sauna that was July, the weather felt wonderful. Temps in the high seventies, low humidity, and nothing even remotely cloudlike marring the sky.

The iPod in the Zed Drei served up "Fly Me Courageous" by Drivin' 'N' Cryin', Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll", and Van Halen doing "Panama", all of which are perfectly cromulent convertible-piloting songs. I was going to drive around the block again just to see what else would come up, but decided not to push my luck.

Then yesterday I sat on the porch finishing up Mark Steyn's After America (Thank you, Masked Reader!) before starting in on American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Do you know, I've never read a solo Gaiman novel before? Roomie says I'm in for a treat.


While talking on the phone yesterday, I idly field-stripped a Colt 1903 that happened to be at hand. You know, the way you'd twirl a pencil or something to keep your hands busy.

Now I've got a pile of Colt on my mouse pad (it's a big mouse pad: one of those Glock armorer's pads, so there's room for both the mouse and the pony.)

I'm just not motivated to put it back together right this second. Plus, I really should oil it before I do. And maybe I should take a picture while it's still apart, for an eventual Arms Room post.

Whatever. Anyway, now I have a pile of gun taking up half my mouse pad...

When everybody's a millionaire...

At the Indiana state fair, the International Hall was hosting a "Willkommen to Germany!" exhibit (last year was Japan; I'm betting next year will be Italy...)

The owner of Heidelberg Haus had lent the exhibit his framed collection of old German banknotes. Because they were behind glass, I was unable to see if they were as soft and absorbent as they looked, but I have a sort of sinking feeling that we'll get a chance to find out for ourselves before long.

Check out the five billion Mark note there in the middle. Just think how quick we could pay off the national debt if everybody had a few of those in their pocket, eh? I know Bernanke and Geithner have.

Hey, is that smoke coming off those printing presses?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Death and taxes and books and buses and potholes and Peyton Manning.

When Franklin Township in Indianapolis discontinued free school bus service due to budget shortfalls, from the reaction in the media you'd have thought that the lights of civilisation were going out. Never mind that a private company picked up the busing contract and would be happy to tote your spawn to and from the schoolhouse in exchange for cash; obviously right after we stop the school buses comes the part where we're huddled in the ruins, cooking rats over bonfires made of English Lit textbooks.

Instead, many parents (who had already voted down a tax increase to keep the buses running) decided to drive their kids to school. Chaos was predicted! Children would be ground to paste under the unfeeling tires of Gaia-raping SUVs in the Parking Lots of Academe! It would be like Somalia! If only all those private schools would share the magic teleporter technology that they use to get their kids to Mrs. Grundy's 1st period English class safely and on time...

Also on the municipal tax front, Adaptive Curmudgeon weighs in on his opinion of government-funded sports arenæ:
Profitability doesn’t make wrong into right. Popularity does not make wrong into right. Using the force of government to build a toy for a private franchise owner is immoral, it’s wrong, and it’s not the proper role of the government.
tl;dr version: He's agin' it.

Meanwhile, the pavement on Indy's streets is so bad that all four wheels on the Zed Drei have now lost their little glued-on plastic BMW roundels from the center. But we've got a swell new $720 million retractable-roof china cabinet in which to store our Peyton Manning.

Trained and qualified.

Stephen at Standing Outside Looking In writes of an encounter with a dude with a bad case of Only One-itis. If I hadn't once had a similar conversation, I'd accuse him of fictionalizing, but they are indeed out there. It's rare to run into one of those types at a gun shop or range, however; apparently they get pumped full of all the knowledge of firearms and shooting they'll ever need at the academy and somehow retain it 'til their dying day, and therefore have no need to take any particular extracurricular interest in the subject.

When I was still living in Tennessee, Knox County Sheriff's Dept. had a particularly embarrassing little incident involving a few deputies, a dude who was trying so hard to commit Blue Suicide that he'd helpfully drawn a bullseye on his chest, and the better part of a box of ammunition. The score at the end of l'affair du nutcase was one grazing wound to the shoulder at about 15 yards, and a few dozen gutterballs perforating the landscape of suburban Knoxville.

The next morning, one of our regular customers, also a deputy, came into the shop while on break. Shannon and I looked up from behind the counter.

"Hey," he held up his hands, palms out, "I wasn't there last night. If I was, did you think I'd be in here today without a bag over my head?"

"I didn't think you were," I replied, "I know you can shoot better than that. But who all was there?"

He sighed. "Let's put it this way: Nobody you'd know from a gun show or a shootin' range."

Ah. That kind.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Do The Right Thing.

Via The Silicon Graybeard comes this morning's Morality Play.

(It's okay if you get a little lump-in-the-throaty towards the end. I know I did.)

Big Boy Rules.

Meet the men and women of American Defense Enterprises:

(EDIT: Tired of being mocked by everybody on the internets with more functioning neurons than a banana slug, A.D.E. apparently pulled their YouTube video lest it cut into their lucrative market of bilking Angelenos of their hard-earned currency. Luckily, the internets are forever!)

If you read their promotional material, you'll find that the Department of Homeland Security rated them the number one trainers in the world*! And have you seen their "American Warrior Test"? It's the ultimate test of skills. Forget a sub-5 second FAST or a 280+ on the Hackathorn Standards, it takes seven hours just to take the American Warrior Test, which is apparently almost as expensive grueling as earning a Four Weapons Combat Master ticket!

The firearms training industry has grown from a handful of guys in the desert thirty years ago into a behemoth, surfing the wave of the ongoing Global War On a Noun and the popularity of shows like 24, Top Shot and The Best Defense and movies like... well... every summer movie out there. Every idiot with access to a berm and a shirt with epaulets is hanging out their Flat Dark Earth shingle these days, it seems.

It is only a matter of time until some chiropodist at a weekend SWAT fantasy camp gets his kidneys blown out his navel by the Bushhamster of the stranger behind him in the stack preparing to practice breaching and clearing, and somebody like 20/20 or 60 Minutes is going to have a frickin' field day with it. (Quick: Name five big-name trainers you'd leave alone in a room for five minutes with Chris Cuomo and a cameraman, knowing that a hostile hand would be driving the editing controls...)

The complete lack of a self-regulating accrediting body is going to bite the training industry in the ass sooner or later, and the irony is that even having one wouldn't do much good, since there is always a certain subset of trainers who would market themselves as outlaws, teaching SPECOPS SEAL Contractor Dynamic 360° Combat tactics too extreme!! for the other guys, who are a bunch of nancy milquetoasts.

BONUS!: PDB gives an excellent point-by-point breakdown of the suckage, as well as general tips on how to identify and avoid being taken in by the hucksterism and flash of a Mall Ninjas 'Я' Us sales pitch.
*Which claim came as a surprise to the DHS, who issues no such rankings. Incidentally, I know I have some SOCOM types in the readership. Anybody able to vet ADE owner Bill Beasley's claims of being ex-SF?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Overheard at the State Fair...

RX: "Oh, look! The Department of Homeland Security has a booth at the fair! 'Fink on your neighbors...'"

Me: "'...and win a kewpie doll!'"

Tab Clearing...

I've solved the dependence on foreign oil thing...

On learning the news that a second grandiose FDR Memorial is going up (apparently the one in DC isn't enough for our beloved Benito from Hyde Park) I propose that we grab a bunch of copper wire and wrap up my grandmother's coffin in the stuff. Her grave will be easy to find, since I'd imagine that 15,000 r.p.m. emits a fairly piercing whine.

I never heard her refer to him as anything but "that liar Roosevelt" with a venomous tone that made the one used for people who tracked mud on her nice carpets sound like a conversational chirp by comparison.

It's a poor craftsman that blames the tools.

The Place Where Great Britain Used To Be, having already confiscated the guns and invented the anti-stab knife, still has a problem with howling mobs of angry yobs torching city blocks for recreation. What to do?

What do you mean "what to do"? They know what to do. This is Jolly Olde England, where (just like Jolly New England) the knee-jerk response to problems these days is "Ban Something!"
[Prime Minister David Cameron] said the government, police and intelligence services were looking at whether there should be limits on the use social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to spread disorder. Authorities are considering "whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality," he said.
Looking at limits on Twitter and Facebook? That's your answer? Buddy, I hate to break it to you, but they almost burned Los Angeles down back in the '90s, when cell phones were the size of bricks and didn't even have custom ring-tones, let alone 3G internet connections. Hell, the Watts Riots of the '60s happened half a decade before you could play Space War over ARPANET, let alone Farmville on Facebook.

If this simpering twit had been running things during the Blitz, he would have formed a committee to study the feasibility of outlawing Nazi bombers. (The Department of Transport would have grounded the Spitfires and Hurricanes as being too dangerous and insufficiently bulletproof.)

I mean, look at Cameron's résumé: He's a blandly handsome guy who went to all the right schools and has never had a productive non-government job in his life... No wonder Obama hates him; they both wore the same dress to the prom.

England used to be a cool place. It used to rule the world. Now it's like an island of California, except without the nice weather and food.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thoughts on "fit"...

Brigid has a great post on the importance of being able to make sure that you have room to wriggle your toes when you buy that new handgun. Very clearly written. If you can't reach the trigger or the other controls, that pistol isn't going to be as useful as it could be.

About the same time, ToddG put up an excellent post on how the way a handgun "feels" can sometimes be illusory.

Read both.

I have an idea, formin' in me head...

Who all is planning on being in town for the Indy 1500 fun show the weekend of the 26th-28th? Perhaps we could do something blogmeetish?

It would be fun! You'd like it! (And if you haven't been to the Indy 1500, you really should. It's one of the biggest gun shows in the country. Plus, like the machine gun shoot at Knob Creek, it makes an appearance in Unintended Consequences, which kind of makes it a Station of the Cross for good wookie-suiters. You get a merit badge for your bowcaster bandoleer for attending.)

The Ayatollah of Rock and Roll-a!

Feelin' good and apocalyptical this morning, no?

The stock market has shit the bed again, there's Anarchy In The UK, we've got family gangs of bank robbers motoring across the US like something out of a James Cagney talkie...

I don't know about you, but I'm buffing out my colander and mink-oiling the straps. Just in case.

How quickly it can happen.

Wouter's blog documents, among other things, his shooting and firearms collecting hobbies in South Africa. He recently got permits through for several more pistols, including an assortment of Spanish iron that looks like it would be right up my roomie's alley.

Reading through his back posts on the drama involved in getting your hands on a firearm in South Africa today can be instructive, all the more so because, just twenty or thirty years ago, South Africa had some pretty decent gun laws. Then again, so did California.

For most of the US, the nadir of gun rights happened in 1994 or so, and things have been on a generally positive trend ever since, we're still not back to where we were post-FOPA and pre-Bush'n'Bennett's "Imported Assault Weapon Ban". In 1987, you could walk into the sporting goods store at the mall and buy a genuine German HK91 without any background checks or anything. (Of course, in the living memory of someone of my parents' generation, you could just mail-order the thing instead...)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Oh, Bastet...

They're dealing with a sick kitty at the Nerd Ranch. Our very best thoughts here at Roseholme Cottage go out to them; we've been there way too often, way too recently. :(

Owie. Hurtie.

Despite the fact that Almost-A-Doctor Katie is like a frickin' ninja with that Novocaine syringe, it is well and truly wearing off.

My gums feel like they're coming to after a barfight, face down on asphalt and in a pile of broken glass. They're not going to be happy in a few minutes, once they figure out what happened...

It's a good thing I already finished lunch. French onion soup in a bread bowl from Panera was about as challenging a meal as I was up to.

(Speaking of which, what's up with everything they stick in your mouth at the dentist tasting awful? And the awfullest stuff is the stuff they try to make taste good. Take that tooth polish stuff, f'rinstance...

Me: "Ew. Grape? Isn't there, like, a grownup flavor?"

A-A-Dr. K: "Um, I think that is the grownup flavor. The kid's stuff is bubble gum."

Me: "Oh, ick! Couldn't they do, say, ahi tuna flavor? Or French onion soup? Ooh! Soy-and-wasabi flavor fluoride rinse!"
I try and have a good time while I'm there, at any rate.)

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #56: Three Pocket Pistols.

Since I still haven't gotten around to finishing that Arms Room post, here's another photo I took for it.

From top to bottom you have a Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless in .32ACP, a Pieper Bayard 1908 in .380ACP, and a Colt 1908 Vest Pocket .25ACP.

Drill, baby, drill.

Three hours in the chair with Almost-A-Doctor Mandy yesterday. Lots of smoke. And lots more where that came from.

That was my first time with the drill. At one point, Mandy noticed my tummy trembling and pulled the drill out of my mouth "Are you okay?"

"I'm sorry," I gasped between giggles "It sounded like a bad robot sound effect from a B-grade sci-fi movie, with all that chirping and squeaking. I was trying to hold still."

"You were laughing? I saw you shaking and thought I was killing you!"

Heading back in this AM so that Almost-A-Doctor Katie can continue with the deep-cleaning. Looking forward to that face-full-of-Novocaine feeling. Not so much the "just-flossed-with-barbed-wire" sensation after the Novocaine wears off.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Wow. Just wow.

So some entertainment blogger wants to put me in a camp, and even muses on how good a second civil war would feel. To quote Robb Allen:
Go ahead buttercup. I don’t think you’ve thought your cunning plan all the way through.
But that flaw in his logic wasn't what set me to laughing. No, what really got me going about the guy's little screed was the part where he insinuated that the people with whom he disagreed were, and I quote, "contemptible morons... being played by the rich".

Let me get this straight, Jeffrey: Your job, your career, your entire raison d'être, as it were, is to read the tea leaves about the talkie motion picture shows at the Bijou and then explain to me why it's important or relevant or matters two farts in a windstorm that Avatar wins an Oscar for Best Visual Effects and why I should give a damn about anything that comes out of James Cameron's piehole other than the words "Action" and "Cut", and I'm the moron being played by the rich?

Buddy, I am rubber and you are glue, okay?

Branching out...

It was an idea that was kicked around a lot when I worked there, and now it looks like it's happening: Coal Creek Armory is opening another storefront and range.

Now that's austerity we can believe in!

To show how serious they are about slashing costs, Congress has eliminated the congressional page program, claiming that it cost $5,000,000 a year (that's almost one mile of interstate highway!) to do something that had been effectively rendered obsolete with the invention of text messaging and email.

From now on, if congresscritters want underage minors to sexually harass, they'll have to ring out for them and have them delivered on their own dime just like everybody else; they'll no longer be considered a perk of the office to abuse like the free postage.