Saturday, March 31, 2012

Overheard in the Parking Lot at the Columbus Hamfest:

Me: "Make sure when we stop at the Antiques Mall on the way back that you lock the car, or someone will put more old radio crap in the back seat while we're in there."

Minitru.

Brian J. Noggle offers a rumination on The Official Narrative.

Orwellian, indeed.
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Overheard in the Office:

RX: "I have an idea for curbing the production of paper money: Every bill must be printed with ink containing a certain legally-prescribed percentage of the President's blood."

Me: "Or some equally-appropriate official... That's brilliant!"

RX: "'I don't think we can print more; it's bleeding me dry!'"

Me: "'Beltway insiders warn of another impending bout of inflation, citing Timothy Geithner's drawn and pale appearance at a recent press conference.'"
This legislation would have bonus side-effects, too, by requiring every dollar to actually exist as a paper entity someplace:

1) Another TARP couldn't happen even if you put the president, his cabinet, Congress, and the entire federal bureaucracy above GS-11 on blood expanders because there aren't that many trees or printing presses.

2) Tying the value of the dollar to something as worthless and ephemeral as wood pulp would make it harder money than anything we've seen in this country in the last forty years.

Quick! To the Wikipedia!

So I killed two birds with one stone the other day.

The chimenea on the back patio had suffered enough freeze/thaw cycles that the spalling on the bottom had gone all the way through.

At the same time, there was a persistent bit of bare dirt in the southeast corner of the privacy fence that is obviously not getting enough sunlight for grass.

A plan is hatched!

I schlepped the chimenea over and plopped it on the ground, nestled in the corner. I will now fill it with potting soil and try to encourage something to grow out of it.

I need to find a subspecies of Hygrangeum* that is shade-tolerant and likes to spread all vine-like along the ground, but won't try and climb the fence and vault into the neighbor's yard like the mutated tendrils from a bad Fifties SF flick in an attempt to strangle their little yappy dog. (Although if it could do that all subtle-like and then vault back into our yard without leaving evidence, I'd take that as a plus.)
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*If you don't mow it, can't eat it, and can't stand in its shade, it's a Hygrangeum.

Wow, what a difference twenty-odd years makes.

Wandering the back corridors of YouTube, I ran across this fan video tribute to the Colonial Marines.

It's been years since I've watched Aliens, probably at least since '03 or '04, and I don't remember the gun handling and tactics stuff being that bad. I mean, yeah, I remember that there was a lot of shooting from the hip, but seriously, seeing the footage again last night of the marines unassing the APC and moving up to the doorway of the complex had me laughing out loud with all the skipping and pirouetting up to the abandoned complex, muzzles pointing every which way, and then just standing in the middle of the doorway when it opened, (the area known as the "fatal funnel") pointing their weapons menacingly from the hip like a Tropic Thunder movie poster.

In the intervening years, it's become the norm for movies to retain consultants to try and add verisimilitude, to the point that the only place you see the old traditions of Hollywood gun-handling are in comedies deliberately parodying the skipping-and-pirouetting-and-standing-in-the-open-spraying-from-the-hip traditions of Hollywood Tactical Movement, and seeing it in Aliens felt awkward for me. The movie has such a place in my memory that suddenly seeing the string holding up the rocket or the zipper on the back of the Godzilla suit was both funny and kinda sad at the the same time.

In fact, I'd wager that, given the way Hollywood influences the evolution of pop culture, Hollywood Tactical Movement may soon be gone from our cultural DNA. Hand some random 21-year-old waiting-tables-until-his-big-break actor an airsoft M16 and tell him "Act like some special operations dude going down a hallway and through a door," and he'll do it differently if he's grown up watching Black Hawk Down and 24 than if he'd grown up watching Rambo and The A-Team.

Friday, March 30, 2012

...and now it's time for the main event.

2.5 hours in the dentist's chair today, and that wraps everything up except for the main event: The whole root canal/crown thing. I am told that, now that I have reached the zenlike state of being able to fall asleep while they're drilling my teeth, the root canals should be a breeze. We'll see.

Now for an aspirin and some saganaki & a gyro salad; my special treat for being good and not squirming around too much in the chair.

Overheard in the Office:

Me: "Wait, what? Roseanne Barr tweeted the address of Zimmerman's parents? That's... that's just..."

RX: "No, Spike Lee tweeted..."

Me: "Spike Lee tweeted what he thought was Zimmerman's address. Roseanne tweeted Zimmerman's parents' address."

RX: "You stay classy, Roseanne."

Me: "Y'know, fine. F%$# it. Let's just have that civil war they obviously want so bad. Let's just go 'head and have it right now and get it over with. They don't..."

RX: "You just want a chance to beat Roseanne in the head with a rifle butt."

Me: "No, I..."

RX: "What you don't understand it that the line to do that would be so long that by the time you got there, there'd just be a red smear on the pavement."

Off the shelf...

Just wrapped up The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1944-1945 yesterday. The subject matter is off the beaten path, in that there have been a blue million books written on the final military battles in Europe, and ten times that number done about zomg teh last days of Hitler!!1!, but this book focuses on the people and the bureaucracy behind the lines, and how and why the country had to be ground into paste rather than surrendering before it was utterly destroyed. This is, after all, the same country that threw in the towel while it was still on French territory in the previous war, in hopes of averting exactly what happened in 1945.

If you're in an eschatalogical mood, there'll even be the occasional resonant scene, such as the German Finance Minister, dutifully rearranging deck chairs up 'til the end, being criticized by Goebbels, Reichsminister of Crazy, in March of '45 for relying too heavily on regressive consumer taxes instead of progressive income taxes; trying to balance the budget on the backs of the 99%, as it were. (No word on how tax return forms were to get from Allied occupied zones and through Zhukov's lines to Berlin...)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Raking digital leaves...

Remember all the mess I talked about cleaning up in the front yard yesterday?

Well, I'm trying to do that in my email inbox this morning. It's like the Augean stables in there.
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That was weird.

I don't remember eating anything unusual last night that would have caused me to dream about my former roommate filming a cooking show in the middle of a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

I mean, there was a studio set with lights and cameras and a complete kitchen and everything just out in the open in the middle of this rubble field that stretched like a chopped-pecan-covered pancake to the horizon in all directions. The show was on doing good, tasty meals with attractive presentation using the food from rusty salvaged canned goods.

My subconscious, as it so often does in dreams, neglected to add important technical details like "Where are they getting the electricity for the lights and cameras?" and "Do rats and cockroaches know how to work a TV set? Who's the intended audience here?"

AR Bleg.

I need an AR upper. I know I want a 16" flat-top with a midlength handguard and a fixed front sight, and I want something that's not going to puke if I stuff a case of ammo through it in one weekend. But other than that, I don't have many hard-and-fast specs in mind.

I'd love me a DD or BCM, but I'm torn between that and screwing one together using good parts on my own. Thoughts? Suggestions? Sources for good deals?

Also, I'm debating a .300BLK or 6.8SPC carbine barrel assembly (or barrel & BCG in the case of the latter) for my MGA switch-barrel upper, but that could be another thread.


(In accordance with all requests for firearms input on the intertubes, somebody please remember to say "Get a Glock" within the first eight posts.)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

That feels good.

After running errands and getting a bite of lunch this morning, I decided to make myself productive. During the winter doldrums, I fell into a bad habit of not doing diddlysquat in the afternoons, which made me more depressed, which made me less productive, which... lather, rinse, repeat.

It felt good to drag the rake and leaf-vac into the front yard this afternoon and dredge all the winter leaves out of the raised beds along the front of the house and gather up all the twigs and pine cones from the last windstorms. It was in the mid-70s and sunny; perfect outdoor weather. I worked up a sweat dragging brooms and bags and extension cords and other lawn impedimentia around, and I feel like I did something productive. I ought to mark out a regular block of time to mess in the yard every day.

The First Rule of Heathers Club is...

So, a pack of preteen girls in Rhode Island buddied up to a classmate to get her to attend a party, and while she was there, they lulled her into a false sense of security and then launched a gang beatdown on her.

But, wait! It gets better!

The neighbor guy didn't call the cops because he was too busy using his cell phone to video the whole sordid event. He claims that he thought the girls were just staging it, since some of them were apparently filming it, too.

Here's the dilemma: What do you do in his shoes?

With a cry of "Remember Kitty Genovese!", you vault the privacy fence and yell at them to stop. Suppose they don't? Suppose they ignore that carefully practiced command voice of yours? Do you start grabbing 'em and flinging 'em off the victim?

Suppose, their blood up from a few minutes of putting the boot in on a Group Monkey Dance, one or two of 'em even come at you?

Phhhttth! Who's afraid of a couple of twelve-year-olds? You'd just...

Just what, Batman? Deck 'em? Use your Krav Maga on a couple-three teenyboppers? Wait, no, you'd pepper spray them!

The very act of me typing these words is causing a third-year journalism major to toss in his sleep with a smile on his face and a strange tingly feeling in his naughty place over the very thought of being able to slap a headline like "38 y.o. Gun Nut Pepper Sprays Preteen Birthday Party" over his byline.

Hey, you weren't by any chance open carrying when you went over the fence, were you?

Maybe in perfect Wookietopia or back on Walton Mountain we wouldn't have to worry about this kind of stuff, but here in 21st Century America, I don't know. What do you do in a situation like this? (I mean, beyond hoping you never find yourself facing a wilding pack of preteens singing "Happy Birthday to you! Kobayashi Maru!")

I do know that they take money out of your paycheck for 911 services, and dialing that number will cause a guy dripping with qualified immunity to show up and pepper spray the preteen birthday party, so us bloggers can rake him over the coals for it.

Wild Thing

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tab Clearing...

Overheard in the Office:

So I can hear the TeeWee in the other room and there's a couple of talking heads discussing the whole "zomg some employers are asking for Facebook passwords as part of the interview process!" thing, which is the current backup distraction from the economy in the unlikely occasion of the zeitgeist suddenly going amnesiac on the Zimmerman/Martin thing.

The woman being interviewed said "What's next? Your medical records?"

I blew up.
"Dammit, your employer can make you take a physical. They can run a credit check. They can make you urinate in a Dixie cup. They can make you wear orange spandex short shorts and a crop top, and you're worried that they might see those pictures of you naked at that pool party with a lampshade on your head and shotgunning Ernest & Julio's best straight from the spigot on the box?

Honey, thirty seconds after you put those pictures on the internet, some teenager in Latvia was wanking to them and /b/tards were using them to make lolcats. The privacy horse is out of the barn, down the road, over the horizon, and the Visigoths have burned the barn, and NOW you're worried about it? Just for that, you ought to get a groping AND a porn-o-scan the next time you're at the airport!"
How does she even remember which end of the spoon goes in her mouth?

Of course the solution with this, like everything from the guy in the next car texting to the airlines charging you for an extra suitcase is to run to daddy government and tug on his sleeve 'til he passes another law. And people wonder why I'm a misanthrope...

Nobody's skin sparkles, either.

I have not seen the movie The Hunger Games yet. I will probably be waiting for a matinee.

That said, I have read the books, and found them quite enjoyable, despite their labeling as "young adult" fiction.

Further, I'd rather have today's teens reading about the dangers of oppressive governments and needing arms to revolt against them than daydreaming about being date-raped by the undead.

Obama rocks the mic like a vandal...

"This is my last election," Obama told Medvedev. "After my election I have more flexibility."

While Obama put his hand on Medvedev's arm, the Russian president responded saying he would transmit the information to the incoming president, current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Oh, Barry, we all know it's true. First-term presidents worry more about getting re-elected, and lame ducks are more free to show their true colors, but we don't like to have our noses rubbed in it. You're not supposed to remind everybody.

If you were going to have an open-mic gaffe, you should have been caught telling Medvedev that you'd just signed legislation outlawing Russia and the bombing would commence in five minutes. Not only is that one a proven vote getter, but the look on his face would have been a highlight of future documentaries looking back on your administration.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Fetch me my time travel trousers.

Over at P-F.com, one poster indicated that he was looking for a carbine for his wife, preferably a Colt 6920 (basically a semiautomatic M4 carbine.) Another poster replied:
Have her take a look at Wal-mart if you can’t fine one anywhere else. I saw a 6920 today for just under $1100.
Imagine, if you will, using a magic browser plug-in that would let you copy and paste that whole thread on TheFiringLine.com or GlockTalk.com back in, say, 2003. Or even better, 1999. Back in those days:
  1. Wal-Mart was definitely not in the business of selling scary-looking rifles.
  2. Colt only sold the 6920 model through law enforcement distributors.
  3. The rifle was unsalable anyway, since it was slathered with a full menu of Evil Features prohibited by the so-called "Assault Weapons Ban" of '94.
If you told the folks on an internet gun board back in '99 that in the year 2012, you could walk into Wally World and buy an honest-to-Stoner Colt®-brand "pre-ban"* M4gery, they would look at you like you were John Titor, only less plausible.

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*Now there's a word I haven't used in a while. Ask your parents, kids.

Overheard in the Hallway:

Roomie is getting ready for work. I notice she is wearing a shirt with what, to my uneducated eye, looks like the result of the unholy coupling of a pinout and a circuit diagram. I am informed it is a tube base diagram. And then some.
RX: "*Lots of electronical terms and assorted wharrrgarbl.*"

Me: "And the cathode is called the cathode because it was discovered growing on bushes in the land of Cathay!"

RX: "No."
How the electrons flow through the teeny copper pipes is a topic on which I am a Subject Matter Moron. I mean, I understand it in the sense that I know that there aren't actually tiny people in my televisions and that closing the switch in the wall does not summon the magic Light Demons, but rather causes electric current to flow through the bulb filament, heating it up and making it glow, but much past that and I'm on pretty unsteady ground.

File Under: "What media bias?"

Do not get me wrong: I think SSG Robert Bales should be given a fair and speedy court martial and, if found guilty, should be Danny Deevered promptly, pour encourager les autres.

That being said, I have to wonder how many of the pack of talking heads howling for justice in the Bales case are the same ones who tut-tutted at me about the paper-cut PTSD that should be considered a mitigating factor in the case of poor MAJ Hasan, who buckled under the horrific stress of four months of stateside desk-jockeying and Allahu Akhbared a platoon's worth of his fellow soldiers.

I don't care how many "Support Our Troops" mouth noises they make; it's pretty clear who these blowdried Manhattanites think are the bad guys.

ETA: Apparently I am not the only one engaged in a bit of head-scratching over this oddity.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Where are they getting these crystal balls?

The television coverage of the Zimmerman case, of which I've caught a few soundbites too many, is infuriating. An honest assessment would say that this is what we know:
  1. Zimmerman was out doing his neighborhood watch thing and saw Martin.
  2. He called 911 and followed Martin in his vehicle.
  3. When Martin walked someplace that Zimmerman couldn't follow in his vehicle, he got out of his vehicle and followed on foot.
  4. ???
  5. In the process of getting his ass beaten, Zimmerman busts a cap in Martin.
The entire case turns on what happened in the ???, but don't tell that to the media, the folks playing poker with a deck full of race cards, the victim disarmament crowd, or apparently the frickin' President of the United States of America.

Did Zimmerman follow Martin because he was "walking while black"? Doesn't matter. Was Zimmerman being a Mall Ninja by patrolling the neighborhood and following Martin? Doesn't matter. Zimmerman had as much right to follow Martin as Martin had to walk through any public thoroughfare.

All that matters is what happened during the mysterious "???" of Step 4. And that's the whole of the case right there: Did Martin turn around and launch the ass-beating on Zimmerman out of the blue? Or did Zimmerman grab Martin in an attempt to detain him and get his ass beaten for doing so, because Martin had no duty to retreat, either? Half everybody seems to think they know the answer, but they're all talking about other things.

I wish the media would find another ball to chase soon. I have never hoped for some random celebrity to choke on their last cookie so hard in my life. Elton John would probably do. He'd wipe the whole Zimmerman/Martin thing right off the front page, and he's kinda past his Sell-By date, anyway. I mean, all he's done in the last twenty years is release more re-recordings of songs about dead blondes, right? Come on, Elton, how about leaning in over the plate and taking one for the team?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Overheard in Brigid's Truck:

Brigid dropped by and she and Bobbi and I went out for lunch and shopping and suchlike...
RX: "...and there under that dome is where they rule the world!"

B: "What's that place called? 'Café du...'"

RX: "The signage looks like they want to be Starbucks."

B: "'Café du... du M-something'. I can't quite make it out."

Me: "Café du Merde?"

Measure twice, cut once.

There's always that one person who gets a toter's permit and seems a little, well, Barney Fife about it. Now they're a sheepdog! They run scenarios past you:
"What if you're in a convenience store, and you see a guy in a hoodie with his hands in his pockets, looking around at the security cameras?"

"I leave."

"But what if he's, like, between you and the door? And you can see the butt of the gun in his hand?"

"I try and keep as many aisles of shelves between me and him as possible and be a good witness."

"But suppose he's threatening the clerk?"

"Well, I..."

"...and the shelves are set up so there's no cover between you and him, and the clerk is pregnant?"
For many, if not most, people, this is a process of trying to understand what they may and may not do with the pistol they are licensed to carry. With a small minority, however, it does kinda come across as asking "Can I shoot him now? How 'bout now? Now?" as though the CCW permit were a kind of Junior G-Man badge or something.

One of the staff members at Pistol-Forum.com, who goes by the nom de screen "TCinVA", wrote an extremely thoughtful post that summed up a lot of my feelings on the matter so well that, with his permission, I'm just going to reproduce it here:
Mr. Zimmerman's predicament here brings up some pretty important lessons for those inclined to learn from the circumstances of others.

Let's stipulate for the sake of illustration that Mr. Zimmerman's actions were 100% justifiable, and that at the moment he pulled the trigger he was in reasonable fear for his life.

Was it worth it?

Look at what he's facing now. He's been branded a murderer. Worse, he's been branded a racist murderer. Where a rap artist or NBA star who kills somebody will be forgiven in the public consciousness as long as their new album is critically acclaimed or their stats are good, Mr. Zimmerman's life from now on will come to be defined by this moment when he killed what a huge chunk of the population will only ever believe was an innocent young black boy who was doing nothing wrong. Mr. Zimmerman is looking down the pointy end of criminal and civil liability out the wazoo. His physical and financial freedom are both now at stake. There's enormous pressure in some communities to basically lynch the man because some communities won't care about the facts, only that the outcome wasn't desirable in their view. Hell, even among self defense enthusiasts this guy's getting raked over the coals. (Perhaps deservedly...we don't know all the facts yet) If a guy who claims he acts in self defense isn't getting a whole lot of sympathy from people who are all about self defense, what hope does he have with a jury?

All of this...for what?

This is the bit about self defense that lots of people on the internet don't get. In all their "be a man!" and "sheepdog!" chest thumping, they never seem to get around to the question of what it's like to live with the aftermath of using lethal force. It's not pretty. It's expensive. It's time consuming. It is life-changing...and not in the Oprah self help guru sort of way. It introduces unbelievable levels of stress into the mix that you can hardly appreciate if you haven't been at the center of it before. It can ruin marriages. It can break apart families. It can scatter friends to the four winds.

I know some people who have had to use lethal force to defend themselves and have had to face long drawn out investigations and litigation over the incidents. It put unbelievable stress on their lives. I asked one police officer how he managed to hold it together after having gone through a post-shooting horror story that makes the blood run cold. His answer?

"Because I know with absolute certainty that I did the right thing."

If you deal with something you had to deal with because it was thrust upon you, leaving you with no choice in the matter...well...it's probably a lot easier to live with the aftermath if it goes to Zimmerman levels. So we would do well to ask ourselves if whatever it is we are about to do is worth living a Zimmerman.

I'd gladly risk a Zimmerman situation if it meant saving the life of a friend or a loved one. Over petty theft, though? Not so much.
Yeah. What he said.

Friday, March 23, 2012

I'll ask the questions around here.

I'm sitting here, minding my own beeswax, despite how dangerous an activity that is in the city, when my cellie out on the dining room table starts ringing, so I ran to get it:
Phone: *ring, ring*

Me: "Hello?"

Caller: "..."

Me: "Hello?"

Caller: "Who is this?"
This is who is answering the phone, is who this is. Perhaps if you told me who you thought this would be, I could help you out.

Why is it so difficult to find a person with better manners than your average barnyard animal these days? Not only are these yayhoos apparently unable to practice or even spell "etiquette", they couldn't even tell you what it was.

On a more upbeat note, it seems to have stopped raining for the nonce and the friendly kid manning the RoboCheckout at the local grocery store commented on my INGO hat, saying "Wow, I've never met another INGO member in here before!" so that was kinda cool.

I've got good news and bad news...

Good News: Tactical Firearms Training, LLC has gotten things squared away with the city and contracted to run the public pistol range at Eagle Creek Park in 2012 and beyond. They'll be opening for the season this weekend. Hooray!

Bad News: It's supposed to be raining this weekend.

Good News: There's a covered firing line. And less chance of a wait, since Cletus doesn't like to get wet, plus he'll probably be sleeping off his hangover from tonight's IU/Kentucky squeaky round ball game and the gunfire would only amplify the soundtrack to Zulu Dawn that will no doubt be throbbing behind his temples. So come on out, unless you're made of salt or sugar or some other water-soluble substance.

Childhood dreams come true.

For a while when I was a teen, I thought I would be a coroner, albeit a slacker coroner, and not do autopsies. Instead, I'd just announce that every stiff that metaphorically crossed my desk was caused by "lack of oxygen to the brain" since, you know, that's pretty much what causes dead people.

It appears that the LA County coroner and I are on the same page, here, with his announcement in Whitney Houston's death...
Whitney Houston died from an accidental drowning in a hotel bathtub, but the "effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use" were contributing factors in her death
This could be fun! Here, let me try that:
Rummy McSotted died from the catastrophic impact of his head against the tree trunk. "effects of a .29% BAC and the empty Jack Daniels bottle wedged behind the brake pedal" were listed as contributing factors.
Okay, now it's y'all's turn! Go wild!

Dog bites man.

So about that shooting that happened down on the canal in Hoosieropolis last weekend... You remember, the one where a group of teens were hanging out downtown, just minding their own business* and no doubt on the way to or from choir practice, when all of a sudden and for no reason at all, another teen hops out of a car and guns five of 'em down with a .40, and startles the rest so badly that they nearly dropped their hymnals?

Well, an arrest has been made and... wait, you're probably going to want to sit down for this surprising plot twist... the youth in custody was "involved in gang activity" and the shooting was gang- and revenge-related.

Well, this is my shocked face.

ProTip: You could cut the chances of you getting a cap busted in your ass dramatically by the simple expedient of Not Being Involved In Gang-Related Activity In The Inner City Between The Hours Of 10PM And 4AM. Or hanging around people who are, because those folks are frickin' bullet-magnets. Seriously, standing next to Ice Dog or Ray-Ray after dark on a weekend is like running under the only tree on the back nine during a lightning storm and holding your seven iron over your head for good measure.

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*As any cop or EMT can tell you, "standing around, just minding your own business" after dark is statistically the single most dangerous thing you can do and almost a guarantee that you will require their services before the night's out.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thank you, Marc Randazza.

Remember the big Righthaven, LLC stink? The copyright trolls whose business model for making millions was to squeeze it out of bloggers, one dinky settlement at a time?

Turns out Marc Randazza, a guy I'd only known on the internets as a First Amendment fanatic with a wicked funny sense of humor, was a big player in the courtroom stompings that have left Righthaven without a pot to piss in nor a window to throw it out of.

I did not know that, nor did I realize how thoroughly Righthaven was being ground into paste. Thank you, Mr. Randazza.

(H/T to Popehat.)

Instant Karma! (We All Flame On)

All those times I've seen people expressing their little emotional hissy fits through sudden outbursts of crappy driving, and I've never seen anything like this.

It's nice to know it happened someplace, though. I'd like to think she learned a lesson from it, but I doubt it. Someone that self-absorbed is probably infuriated at the gas station for putting the pump in her way.

More Gun Content:



This video sets me off down two trains of thought.

First, that's one of the unintended consequences of modular, easy to detail-strip pistols supported by a huge and burgeoning aftermarket: The democratization of f***-ups.

It used to be that you needed a file, an Arkansas stone, maybe a Dremel, and a fair amount of mechanical ineptitude to mess up your heater. Now any yob with a punch, a YouTube video, and enough manual dexterity to tie his own shoes can shoot himself in the grape with a runaway gun. You can buy drop-in mistakes; no gunsmith fitting required!

Second, how come so many gun schools feel like I'm watching remakes of Top Gun, but with Glocks instead of Tomcats? Call signs? Seriously? "Hollywood, this is Maverick. We are low on Gatorade and target pasters. I say again, we are low on Gatorade and target pasters. Over." And all the jargon, oy veh!

No longer is it good enough to run the slide on your pistol; these guys want you to powerstroke your weapons system. (Which sounds like something you'd do while watching the DVDs I mentioned in the previous post, but that's neither here nor there.)

I'm a forty-something freelance writer/internet dork. I am paying you to learn how to shoot, not to soak up some of that "jumping-out-of-a-helicopter-with-a-knife-in-my-teeth" ambiance. The whole GI Joe schtick just feels a little silly at my age.

The sad part is that word through the grapevine is that these guys are actually good instructors. I guess they're just aiming for a different target demographic. Maybe 23-year-old Call of Duty players eat that "fantasy basic training" stuff up, I don't know.

Scattered morning thoughts...

Glucosamine pills, which are apparently largely composed of smooshed-up shrimp shells, will make your morning Spicy Hot V-8 taste like Spicy Hot Clamato Juice, no matter how fast you swallow them.

Hey, I just heard the TV talking head in the next room say that the French guy who shot up the Jewish school and just got sent to collect his 72 raisins was named Mohammed Something-or-Other, and not, as initial media reports surmised, Guillaume Smith. This is my shocked face. Call off the search for the middle-aged white guy in the white van. I would remind the Muslims in France that in all of Europe, only the Germans have a quicker Zero-to-Jackboots time than the Frogs. You don't want to get those people feeling all riled up and pogrommy.

The local news this morning was saying something about how people had been really generous with sending the folks in the tornado zones stuff, but there were certain items they still really needed. In my dazed, half asleep state, I had a picture of some guy in Carhartts pleading into the camera, saying "My DSL's out and my power line's been down two weeks. Folks, I really appreciate the thought behind these DVDs, but can you just send some magazines?"

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tab Clearing...

The Book of Numbers

Mike W. has a post up on the decline of QC at SIG and immediately in comments, Bob S. steps up and (rightly) offers the data point that his SIGPro has been 100% since he bought it.

This is my bugbear, my bête noire, my personal cross to bear on the internets. It's how I got my reputation as a mean-hearted gun snob:
Reader 1: "Hey, what do you think of the Blastomatic, Tam?"

Me: "I wouldn't buy one. They're wretched pulsating balls of suck and fail."

Reader 2: "You're just a (gun snob/Brand Z fangirl)! I've owned two Blastomatics and both have been flawless!"
There could be two reasons for the difference between Reader 2's experiences and mine. The first one is a simple matter of statistics. Say that, in my long, bitter years of exile behind the gun store counters, I sold 500 Blastomatics.

Say that one in four of them had some issue or another: The customer field-stripped the pistol when he got home and found it was all rusty inside. It wouldn't light primers reliably in double-action. The framinator wouldn't wollygaggle right and so the gun didn't run worth a damn until we had the gunsmith look at it. The Super Blasto X model had a reputation for not feeding anything other than round-nosed FMJ that had been carefully lubricated with Vaseline. The rifling looked like it had been chewed by angry beavers and the gun patterned like a cylinder bore at fifteen yards.

This means that Reader 2 has had two happy ownership experiences, which the odds state should be the case. If one in four is defective and bad, you have a three in four chance of getting a gun that at least functions properly and isn't messed up out of the box. Meanwhile, every time I hear "Blastomatic", all I remember is 125 pissed-off customers and the defective crappy guns I couldn't prevent them from buying because I was just a lowly clerk and couldn't keep the boss from stocking that garbage.

The other option is that Reader 2 is the typical American gun owner who gets to the range every three or six months, pops off a box or two of ammo from five yards into a ragged, two-foot pattern stringing low and left from the center of a B-27 target, and goes home. His Blastomatic Match Master might have been engineered to crumble into dust after 500 rounds, but he'll never find out, because by the time he's owned it for a year, it's been superseded in his affections by his new Blastomatic Match Master Plus in the likewise new .401Blasto caliber. (His dealer threw in a Blastomatic hat with that purchase.)

Anyhow, odds are that if you buy a current production SIG, you will have a happy and satisfying ownership exeperience. But once upon a time, it was nearly guaranteed, since before they left the factory, they test fired them to make sure they, you know, worked. But that costs money. You can't charge extra for test-firing a gun, but you can for a rainbow titanium finish.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Off the shelf...

Just finished reading Absinthe & Flamethrowers because, duh, Absinthe & Flamethrowers! Also finished The First Frontier: The Forgotten History of Struggle, Savagery, and Endurance in Early America, because I may find myself in New England again before too long, and this is the bomb-diggity-shizznit of books I've read on the topic thus far. It's easy, readable, and runs from Kennewick man through Greenlanders killing skraelings and all the way up through the aftermath of the Seven Years' War that led more or less directly to the Revolution. Recommend.

Now I'm re-reading The Gift of Fear. And then I'm going to bed.

QotD: I Laughed, Then I Cried Edition

Graumagus in comments at Sebastian's:
I’d vote for the guy who runs my local Pizza Hut franchise over Obama: at least that person can form a budget.

Gun-related content...

At the Fun Show this past weekend I found myself wishing that I had bought a Russkie M38 carbine back when they were practically giving them away. I think the wholesale price was thirty or forty bucks there, back in the late Nineties/early Aughties; some wholesalers had to be actively discouraged from throwing a couple in the box with every order.

Instead I picked up a Hungarian-made M44 with the fruity folding bayonet, which turns an otherwise light and handy carbine into something with all the grace and balance of a 3-foot length of 4x4 lumber. And now the M38s are bringing around two bills.

As an aside, Joel over at TUATK had an interesting post on the term "the gun culture", contrasting it with the lack of a corresponding term for owners and users of other tools or possessions, such as an "axe culture" or a "milk crate culture". It's a reasonable objection, I suppose.

When I rode a motorcycle for my daily transportation, the bike was a vehicle. It got me to and from work, fetched the groceries, and was an ordinary, everyday part of my life. It also meant I had something in common with other motorcycle owners and, more specifically, the very distinctive subculture of motorcycle commuters. We had a lot of shared experiences: Having to to dress in such a way as to arrive looking presentable at work no matter the weather, and hauling groceries on two wheels (A gallon of milk is no big deal in a Civic; it's a very big deal bungee-netted on the pillion of a 600cc sportbike.)

I read motorcycle magazines and hung out with other motorcycle riders and yes, there was a motorcycle culture, and I didn't feel that it made me a worse person for being part of it. Conversely, I knew other people who owned motorcycles who only used them for transportation and never went riding for pleasure or hung out with other riders, and that was cool, too.

What gets my hackles up are comments like the one left by commenter Johnathan at Joel's place, who says it's quite one thing to own guns for the necessity of protecting one's home and hearth but "[i]t is quite another thing, however, to glorify the use of weapons, to associate one's image with them, to devote so much mental energy to thinking about them and discussing them with reverence."

Nothing personal, Johnathan, but get bent. Unlike Professor Tolkien's character, I do love the bright sword for its sharpness and the arrow for its swiftness, and I am not ashamed of it one damned bit. I'm sorry that you have been bullied by the society around you into thinking that owning weapons is some slightly shameful necessity, to be borne only until the lion lies down by the lamb and we can beat our swords into plowshares in the sweet by-and-by, but I've got news for you: Your heaven is not mine. If I can't take my pistol, I don't want to go.

There is nothing wrong or shameful about appreciating finely crafted machinery simply for what it is, studying the history behind it, or enjoying the mastery of its use. And guess what? That motorcycle can even do useful stuff, like taking you to work, too.

Convertible weather.

It's the first day of spring, but it's felt like summer for the last week or so here in Hoosieropolis. The monster ridge of high pressure over the heartland has had century-old record temperatures* toppling like tenpins. Today it's supposed to hit 84°F, besting the old record of 80°F set back in 1894, and it's currently 65 degrees outside in the pre-dawn darkness. The average high temp for March 20th is, like, 52°F.

I haven't had the top up on the Zed Drei since Friday, except when I had it parked on the street at the blogmeet. I feel sorry for you folks shivering and turning blue in the cold down in Phoenix and San Diego. (I realize that, now that I've jinxed us real good, there'll either be a blizzard in May or a month-long 100-degree drought in June. Or both.)

____________________________
*Attention Local TV Newspeople: There are two r's in both "Tempacher" and "Febyooary". Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Tab Clearing...

  • It's good to know that Indianapolis isn't the only place you can't turn the television on without hearing Peyton Manning's name every thirty-seven seconds. (And despite us being in the middle of the annual Festival of Squeaky Round Ball, too. Could its days as the state religion be numbered?)

  • Whether it's getting out of town ahead of a hurricane or getting into the basement ahead of a tornado, owners of miniature humans should train them to help in these situations. Unlike those of us with, say, cats, your tiny people can actually assist by carrying flashlights and stuff. Get them in on the plan!

  • I have seen the future, brother; it is murder.

Overheard at the Gun Show:

Me: "Wow, it's even got the original factory box and instructions!"

RX: *beaming happily* "Yep!"

Me: "They're just going to go crazy over that at this month's meeting of the Star Collector's Association."

RX: *glare*

Teasing, of course. Stars are perfect for inexpensive collecting: There are a bajillion different variants and sub-models and they're reasonably priced. You know, like S&W Hand Ejectors were up until fifteen or so years ago when someone noticed that they were perfect for inexpensive collecting. Speaking of which, priced a Finnish Mosin lately?

Life on the Streets.

Check this video, where a couple of young women are walking down a sidewalk late at night in what appears to be an entertainment district. They pass a staggering drunk who spits on one of them. They walk off screen, but then come back and one gets all up in his face, gesturing animatedly and obviously yelling. He flattens her because, yes, boys do hit girls.

Some staggering drunk gobs a lunger on me, I'm probably calling the heat. I'll stick around at a respectable distance and watch and see if he wants to spit on Johnny Law, too, because that's usually pretty entertaining. "Tase him again! Tase him again! Hit him with your OC!"

I'm not tangling with him though, because not even in Texas is "He spit on me, so I shot him full of holes" going to look good in court.

Protip: Nothing good happens after ten PM. Well, actually, lots of fun stuff does, but that's also when a lot of bad stuff does, too. I had my time as a club kid, out 'til oh-dark-thirty having a good time, but if your hobby is being out past the witching hour, when the drunks and the criminals are all clocked in and working, don't be surprised to encounter them. Two of the three times I've had to pull a gun were after 0300 in the city, coming home after picking friends up or dropping them off at a club.

Nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em!

Via Popehat, I encountered this fantastical piece of Luddism from the publisher of Harper's, one John R. MacArthur, who is... well, it's hard to say just what he's on about, actually, other than the internet and filthy lucre* and kids these days. It opens with a bit of industry insider "Hail-fellow-well-met" and reminiscing, then moves through some snide insinuations that this whole internet thing won't last because it's just an artless fad, like talkies at the cinema.

He then rambles through a maudlin complaint that those money-grubbing ad men have ruined everything by making it all about money, because nobody should be making money off this but writers! (And editors! And publishers! Or at least one presumes.)

He then closes with a shudder, describing an horrific scene from a sidewalk cafe where everyone is reading words off of cold, impersonal, glossy Macbook screens instead of warm, soulful, glossy Harper's paper. And they're probably reading the internet, where any lowborn jackanape with a keyboard can post their yawpings! Why, in my day...

Seriously, it's a couple pages, but it's fun, because this dude is in a bubble hanging in a vacuum chamber with acoustic tile walls. I feel a little bad chuckling behind my hand at the unhinged, but this train left the station years ago, and he's still standing on the platform and railing at the conductor.

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*Filthy lucre, by the way, is not "lots of money." It's "lots of money in the hands of people you think are icky or shallow or otherwise undeserving."

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Collecting, stage two...

So, looking at the situation with my old American autos, the Smith, H&R, the 1905-vintage Colt Pocket Hammerless and the 1915-vintage Savage are all in really outstanding shape. The Remington 51, the 1911-vintage Savage, and the 1904-vintage Colt are all pretty rough.

At the next show, it will be time to see if I can find a way to maneuver out of the homely Remington .380 and into a pretty Remington 51 in .32 that this one guy had on his table, using one or the other of the other two guns and as little cash boot as possible. While the Colt is worth more than the Savage, I'd prefer to hang on to is, because it's such a good little shooter. This is the fun part!

Fun Show AAR:

A pretty good crowd inside the show at the 1500, although there wasn't much of a line when we got there and none when we left.

It wasn't just tire-kickers, either. I rarely linger at the tables of the larger dealers that sell new guns; I don't have much interest in the stuff there ("Oh look. A new XD/SIG/M&P/Glock/AR/Mossberg. Just like the fifty thousand other ones I've seen,") and generally just crane my neck to scan their used stuff and see if there are any interesting-looking old Smiths or pocket pistols or military surplus guns. All of these bigger dealers usually have a little area set aside for folks filling out 4473s, and all of those areas were full of customers scribbling away.

There was a definite air of folks turning depreciating pieces of paper into appreciating chunks of metal.

I got caught up in the spirit myself. At the last show at the Armory, the one where I acquired the Savage, a dealer with whom I'd done some business before had a darn nice S&W .35 pistol. That's the last one I needed to complete my early American autopistol set, and the price was good, but still too rich for my blood. I'd been chewing it over since then, and when I saw it again at this show, I asked to look it over; it was in really good shape, and the price was actually pretty good, but still steep. The Smiths aren't common, and I'd only seen three others at shows over the last several years: A primo one for something over eight bills, a re-nickeled shooter for four-hundred and change, and a parts gun that looked like it came up off a u-boat wreck for just under two bills...

I thought and pondered and wandered the show and Bobbi bought a Star and we said hi to friends and acquaintances and that Smith was gnawing at me even if it would mean Ramen for a while and... there's a new Sunday Smith up.
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Saturday, March 17, 2012

A very SoBro St. Paddy's...


If you can't quite make it out, the neighborhood gargoyle is wearing a green plastic bowler affixed to what appears to be a green tiara.

Myself, I prefer to celebrate St. Seamus's Day. He's the guy who put the snakes in Ireland in the first place. Nobody's quite sure why, but some drinking may have been involved.

Meanwhile: Fun Show Today! Hooray!

I've got a strange hankering for a Colt .25 that still has some bluing left on it. (Both mine are actually in the white.) A Webley .32 or .25 Auto would be swoopy, too. I've seen a few examples of these at the show before, so you never know. For a consolation prize, I'd settle for a wartime Sauer or CZ in .32ACP. We'll see what we will see; the hunting's as fun as the finding, so let's all sing the fun show song and go shopping!

Flintlocks and Flop-tops
And Number Three Russians
Black-powder Mausers
From jackbooted Prussians,
Shiny Smith PC's from limited runs
These are a few of my favorite guns.

Socketed bay'nets
On Zulu War rifles,
Engraved, iv'ried Lugers
That make quite an eyefull
Mosin tomato stakes sold by the ton
These are a few of my favorite guns.

Rusty top-breaks!
Smallbore Schuetzens!
And all of Browning's spawn
I just keep on browsing my favorite guns
Until all my money's gone.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spring sproinged early.

With the distinctive mating call of the Ice Cream Truck wafting down Broad Ripple streets the last few evenings, it's clear that Punxsutawney Phil was all wet and Spring has come early. The wool socks have started their annual migration to the far reaches of the drawer and mated pairs of white cotton ones once again gambol in the well-lit nearer areas.

The neighbors' trees are blooming, the day lilies and hostas are sprouting, and it's time to take the bicycle for the annual tuneup, and perhaps the fitting of a front basket. I plan to use it for more grocery hauling this year.

I walked to Good Morning Mama's for a late breakfast this morning. I had the Swiss Bliss omelet: pancetta, 'shrooms, spinach, and Swiss cheese, with the whole thing drizzled in parsley butter. Yum! (Side of bacon, too. Because bacon.)

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

There will be a, for lack of a better term, Blogmeet at 3PM at the quasi-traditional Broad Ripple Brew Pub location. If you're in town for the Indy 1500, you should drop by!
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They have a different definition of 'reasonable', too

In the discussion about the ADA and handicapable pool access over at Bobbi's, El Capitan points out that the pool lifts will only be mandatory on new pools and existing pools could try to skate on grounds of "undue hardship".

Mr. B replies that the .gov has a different idea of what constitutes "undue hardship" than you or I. This has certainly been my experience. Anybody who will tell a farmer that they can't plant crops for fear of endangering some subspecies of beetle obviously has pretty skewed notions of undue hardship.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Things I thought I'd never say:

Poor George Kelgren.

There is an entire segment of the gun industry that consists of nothing but small shops turning out fairly blatant copies of the P-11 and the P-32/P3AT (to say nothing of Ruger using KelTec as their pocket gun R&D lab these last few years.)

I'm pretty sure he doesn’t have any patents on the design, but surely he could lawyer up and go after all these companies on “trade dress” grounds?

We are on beyond zebra now.

Because nobody's ever been sucked into a black hole and come back to tell us about it, we have no idea what the experience would be like. The steep gravity gradient would probably stretch and pull you like silly putty and kill you instantly, but given how spacetime itself is pretty warped there, who knows? There might be all kinds of strange stuff to see in places where causality has no meaning.

It's a useful metaphor for the situation current in American politics right now. We crossed the bureaucratic event horizon some time back and are obviously in a twisted region where regulatory effects need be preceded by no constitutional cause or, in any case, the cause is dreamed up after the effect is a fait accompli. In a land where faceless bureaucrats can dictate your light bulb choices and toilet tank size, is it any surprise that they can mandate handicapped elevator access to swimming pools?

That's right: If the wheelchair-bound can't go swimming in the hotel pool this spring break, ain't nobody going swimming. Fair's fair, and here in America, we're all about "fair". It's one of the founding principles laid out in the Monroe Doctrine by Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King. I remember that from school.

Here's the thing about event horizons: Once you've crossed them, there's no going back. The only way out, if there is an "out", is through. We're not voting our way out of this; voting is how we got here in the first place.

There is no virtue inherent in voluntary helplessness.

Marko writes an excellent rebuttal to the idea
That intentionally making yourself weaker in the face of danger and aggression is somehow more civilized, moral, intelligent, or enlightened
It's well worth a read. If you don't read it now, it will wash ashore in your email inbox someday, encrusted with the barnacles of three years of Fw:Fw:Fw: and attributed to "Maj. Caudill, USMC". Guaranteed.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Tab Clearing...

  • Oh please, don't let it suck.

  • To see the reaction, you'd think that Marlon Perkins shot them with a tranquilizer gun and then Jim wrestled their groggy hobo asses to the ground and locked the 4G Mobile Hot Spots around their necks. Instead of it being, you know, a paying temp job.

  • What gun for robot cheetah?
...and with that, I'm off to run errands. With the top down on the Zed Drei because it's unbelievably nice out today.

QotD: Honor et Virtus Edition

Here is a very serious concern, to me: if all of American politics were sorted-out to my liking, instantly, I am not at all certain that there would actually be enough Americans who could live it. That once required a certain and historically unique grasp of values, which is quite -- quite -- beyond the competence of whole multitudes in my daily observation, now.
-Billy Beck
Sadly, a self-governing society requires people capable of self-government, and the values required for that are largely untaught today.

It's like they're trying to distract me...

So, the stock market is back up, which means stocks are more expensive. Everybody with a vehicle has also noticed that gas is way more expensive, too. Coincidentally, I've noticed that prices on Roseholme grocery staples like milk, eggs, and bacon have darn near doubled over the last couple years.

I say "coincidentally" because my government assures me that there's no inflatin' goin' on here. (Incidentally, it worries me that the guy with his hand on the money throttle thinks that higher oil prices might cause inflation, which is like saying that tides cause the moon. It's like being wheeled into surgery and seeing your cutter waving a chicken-foot-and-feather fetish around or seeing the bus driver throw his hands up and yell "Wheee!")

Meanwhile, look! Solar flare!
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I can't decide if it's like Fat Elvis or Wrinkly Jagger.

Everything I know about writing funny stuff, I know from reading P.J. O'Rourke, (well, except for the parts I know from reading Florence King,) so writing this pains me more than I can say:

P.J. is just not as funny anymore. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy reading his writing; I'm not sorry I bought the hardback and I'll try and get it autographed, and it's still funny, but he's lost a half-step.

Compare "Ship of Fools", his tale of a cruise down the Brezhnev-era Volga on a tour boat full of American peaceniks, to the newer "Republicans Evolving", a record of a cruise through the Galapagos on a ship crammed to the gunwales with Texas Republicans. The latter is funny in a way that elicits an occasional snort or an involuntary smile. The former was funny in a way that elicited gasping shrieks of neighbor-waking laughter and running into the next room to read passages to your housemate.

The decline was first noticeable at Peace Kills, which lacked the hilarity of Give War a Chance, and was readily apparent in Don't Vote..., which suffered from the inevitable comparison to his masterwork, Parliament of Whores.

Maybe it's just the green-eyed demon of a fangirl talking here, but marriage and fatherhood have not been good for the razor edge of the O'Rourke wit; these are the writings of a contented man. Perhaps there's at least a grain of truth to the old aphorism that people raising kids are too busy to raise hell.

A Compact Flash for Liebowitz.

Heedless of the damage done to the plot of every post-apocalyptic scifi story ever written, Encyclopedia Britannica has announced that they will be ceasing production of the print run of their encyclopedia after 244 years because, hey, it's all available online now.

So, if you're outfitting your bunker with all the stuff you'll need to rebuild civilization in a glowing radioactive wasteland, don't forget a wireless router!

270 Grains of Justice!

What would make a perfect backup gun to that whimsical piece of kinetic sculpture shaped like a pair of conjoined 1911s that's been making the rounds of the 'net recently?

The P333AT from Kel-Tec! When questioned, our inside source at Ruger's R&D department in Cocoa, Florida said that joining three Kel-Tecs at the hip didn't seem to make them noticeably less reliable. Using modern manufacturing techniques and judicious application of polymer, MIM, and castings, the P333AT will also ensure that people who are not obscenely wealthy sheiks in Dubai are able to get hands-on experience with clearing a Type I malfunction and a Type II malfunction at the same time!

Pre-order yours today!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Weekly Whine...

Sorry for the paucity of postings today. Three-and-a-half hours in the dentist's chair this AM made me less than loquacious.

Further, on the way home I had cheese enchiladas for lunch at La Piedad and then strolled past Big Hat Books while I was in the neighborhood. I had no idea that P.J. O'Rourke had a a new book out.

I am curled up on the porch with fresh reading material. This will be interesting: In Holidays In Hell, which may be my favorite book from P.J., he traveled around the world to communist hellholes, third-world cesspits, and a Jesus theme park. I'm anxious to see what the sequel's like, now that you don't have to leave the comfort of home to see any of the three...

Looking on the bright side.

Even if you think that modern Western civilization as we know it is fated to collapse into a howling wilderness of savages with colanders strapped to their faces in the near future, there's no denying that there are plenty of upsides to enjoy and be thankful for before it does.

If you find yourself on the Titanic, you might as well sample the champagne, and I hear the prime rib is good, too.Link

When your spider-sense tingles...

Kit has a great post that's like a primer on How To Not Have To Shoot Somebody:
  1. Be aware of your surroundings. Don't have your face down in your Smartphone or your book. Observe what's going on around you and look for things that are out of place.

  2. When something makes you nervous, it's probably for a reason. If the little monkey in the back of your head starts gibbering and wants to run up a tree, be smart enough to at least look closely at whatever it is that's spooking it.

  3. You do not have to make strangers happy. It is okay to be brusque, even rude if necessary, if someone is making you uncomfortable. It is okay to say "No, I am not going to get into your windowless van because you give me the creeps and don't you take one step closer."

Monday, March 12, 2012

It's only bad when those other guys do it.

Apparently Kirk Cameron said he though gay folks were unnatural and were responsible for the collapse of civilization and the heartbreak of psoriasis. Understandably peeved at being called unnatural, gay folks got together and... er, arranged a boycott of DVD boxed sets of Growing Pains, or something.

Kirk got all butthurt and claimed he wasn't being allowed to express his views. Which isn't true! He's perfectly free to express his views, but other people are then allowed to express their own opinions about those views. People saying "That was a dick move" is not censorship.

Maybe Kirk and Rush can go on a double date with a couple of the Dixie Chicks.
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Exploiting the breakthrough...

New Jovian Thunderbolt has a post up with the breakdown on how to apply for a Maryland toter's permit. I'd imagine they are going to be inundated with applications in the wake of last week's momentous court ruling, so don't wait!

You know they're going to kick and scream, but a few tens of thousands of voters people leaving permit applications in the inbox might help them reevaluate the political wisdom of too much resistance.

Mr. The Situation, I presume?

Les Jones dabbles in cultural anthropology in the darkest jungles of the middle of your cable channel listings, spends thirty minutes of his life which he will never get back watching Jersey Shore, sees things that can't be unseen, and winds up underwhelmed:
Somehow I thought it would be more contrived. Like there would be gladiatorial combat or spelling bees. All they do is follow them around with cameras and film their mating rituals – “Guidos in the Mist of Axe Body Spray.”
I do not completely get the whole "reality show" phenomenon either. Sunday morning, feeling the pull of gravity more than normal, I watched a couple episodes of some show called True Grime: Crime Scene Cleanup, which could have been a mildly interesting waste of an hour if it hadn't been full of all the drama queenery and office politics and irrelevant crap. Then again, I suppose you can only get so much airtime out of scrubbing wino blood off sidewalks.

Tab Clearing...

  • What Russia's WTO membership might mean for shooters.

  • Is Jessie's Taurus going to be a Taurus the same way Kyle's Camry is a Camry?

  • Dirtcrashr has a thumbnail Blogger tutorial for those bloggers who were ambushed by the new interface. (I think the last time I voluntarily clicked on a Blogger upgrade was 2007. I haven't even changed the layout or template or whatever you call it since I started, because I hate messing around with that stuff.)

"...nor shalt thou wear the jeans that are skinny."

[T]he Interior Ministry released a statement on the so-called emo phenomenon, blasting it as Satanic.

It said the movement, which it described as young people wearing "strange and tight clothes with graphics such as skulls," is being monitored by authorities with the goal of eliminating it.

To that end, community or "moral police" will be allowed to enter schools in the capital, the statement read.
What the hell? It's like Footloose but with Kalashnikovs and beheadings. I'd like someone to point out to me the surah (or the verse in Deuteronomy, for that matter,) that explicitly condemns black nail polish and Peter Murphy albums.

Speaking of spectacles...

"Parisians marvel at spectacle of U.S. election race" reads the headline, but getting into the body of the article, what I'm mostly marveling at is the gushings of the writer, a left-coast SWPL by the name of Pamela Poole, so smitten with the City of Lights and Curbside Pissoirs and its oh-so-chic denizens that she's practically humping its leg.

Watching a Californian desperate to ingratiate herself with Parisians is a bizarre spectacle in its own right, akin to seeing a tanned and blonde varsity cheerleader standing by the table full of pimply, bespectacled D&D nerds and nervously asking "Is this seat taken?"

Threatening to make the water wetter.

So, while I was busy yesterday, I kept the browser closed and seem to have missed a news cycle. Apparently there are allegations that a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan failed his sanity check and went off the reservation and shot up a bunch of sleeping Afghanis?

The media seem ghoulishly ecstatic, since the guy lived up to every J-school grad Manhattanite's mental image of your typical member of the armed forces, but it's the reaction of the Taliban that is puzzling me most. They are vowing revenge!

I'm not quite sure how that works out. Are they going to set off suicide bombs and conduct some rocket and mortar attacks? Is that what they're going to do? Because I thought that's what they were doing already.

I guess they could, like, do like a radio DJ and dedicate the next hit or something but, also like the radio DJ, they were going to play a tune anyway, although I suppose it's the thought that counts.

As an aside, calls for the alleged perpetrator's head on a plate (and right now!) demonstrate the underlying utter futility of the attempt to unleash the inner voter's-registration-card-havin', HOA-dues-payin', Best-Buy-shoppin' American that Washington seems to think lurks in the heart of every Afghani hilljack: Ten years we've been bombing democracy into 'em and you might as well try and explain "Due Process of Law" to a tree stump as to your average Pashtun-in-the-street.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sorry 'bout that...

Real Life™, of the kind signed by that "Pay To The Order Of" guy, intervened today. That, combined with a late start, served to clog the nozzle of the Free Ice Cream machine.

Sorry 'bout that. I'll make it up to y'all tomorrow.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

John Barleycorn Soybean

So, I'm watching The Rachel Maddow Show just a little bit ago because throwing things at the television helps get my heart started in the morning, and in the closing segment she covered some "crime-related" odds and sods: The mysterious rash of looted reliquaries on the Emerald Isle, the solving of the of the Nine Foot Mystery in British Columbia and, finally, the three inmates mistakenly released from the LaPorte County, IN jail over the last month and a half.

During the last bit, while Rachel was talking, the picture cut away from local affiliate footage of the LaPort jail to a still shot of a smiling and waving Mitch Daniels. "Pretty bad news from your state if you're hoping to win your party's vice presidential nomination," intoned Rachel in voiceover.

LOLWUT?

I'm failing to see the connection; sequiturs don't come much nonner. Then again, our current national Priest Kings are held responsible for everything from the weather to the behavior of foreign peasants, so maybe it's only fair.

Once upon a time, back when we wore bones in our noses and used oak groves as churches, we revered the king until the harvest went bad, and then we killed the dude, because everything that happened to the tribe, good and bad, was his fault. At the rate we're going, we may as well just ditch the whole primaries and elections thing and go back to baking a bean into a sacred cake. At least then we'd have an easy return policy when we got a lemon.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Tone-deaf to the Song of the South:

Meanwhile, south of the Mason-Dixon, Mitt has gotten his patronizing on:
Campaigning in Pascagoula, Miss., Romney said he is turning into an "unofficial Southerner."

"I'm learning to say 'y'all' and I like grits. Strange things are happening to me," he said jokingly.
Wow. "Why won't you stupid, cousin-humping rednecks vote for me?" indeed.

Listen, you cretinous Yankee dimwit, I'm not sure how to break this to you, but My Cousin Vinnie was not a documentary. Having your speechwriters refer to it for thematic inspiration makes you look thicker than Rush's midsection.

I know that the term "carpetbagger" is just a generic political term to you, but you might want to research its etymological origins.

None Of The Above

At BabyTrollBlog, Mark writes:
So I question the truism that "We get the government we deserve" and its corollary that, because we prefer to vote by not voting -- selecting, as it were, "None of the above", we are thereby somehow derelict in our civic duty.
A cogent case was put to me by my roommate a few years back that turning in a blank ballot is voting "none of the above".

Not actually showing up at all is saying "I don't care; do as you will."

I'm not entirely decided on the matter, but it was enough for me to dabble in recreational voting again after a long hiatus, if only to vote wookie where I can and "None Of The Above Is Acceptable" where I can't. Oh, and for whoever is running against Dick Lugar. Just because.

Stadtluft macht korrupt.

Is anybody surprised that the congresscritters from corrupt urban districts are themselves corrupt?

Well, derp. When America's burgeoning inner cities were full of Irish and Italians and Jews, they elected crooked white politicians. Machine politicians from urban slums have been crooked since Pericles was legislating free theater tickets for the poor and Caesar was buying votes on the Aventine.

The Wheel of Justice needs some axle grease.

IMPD Officer David "Bottles" Bisard, who used the front bumper of his cruiser to bunt some stopped motorcyclists into the Great Beyond almost two years ago while allegedly under the influence of alcohol, will be back in a courtroom today.

Prosecutor Terry Curry made the Bisard case the centerpiece of his campaign in 2010, symbolic of taking a new broom to the IMPD, so none of this looks good for him.

Meanwhile, were I Officer Bisard, and I actually hadn't been awash to the gunwales in tonsil polish that morning, I would want to get the case into a real courtroom and out of the court of public opinion and clear my name, rather than being seen to have "skated on a technicality"*. I mean, good cops hate it when bad guys "skate on technicalities", right?


*"Skating on a technicality" is what overzealous Law'n'Order types call adhering to the Bill of Rights.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Meet the new boss...

Read the words of one Eric Holder, some few years ago:
To those in the Executive branch who say “just trust us” when it comes to secret and warrantless surveillance of domestic communications I say remember your history.
If you could remember your history, Eric, maybe you could also remember where all those Kalashnikovs went. Trust me.

How 'bout all those shiny new tools Eric & Co. found in the shed when they got the keys to 1600, eh? Good thing they were only for use against terrorists!

Overheard in the Kitchen:

Musical commentary on recent politics...
"Start spreadin' your legs,
They're coming your way,
They want to get all up into,
Your private parts!
If they can make laws there,
They'll make them anywhere!"

True Confessions.

They say that every criminal secretly wants to be caught, and notorious scofflaw Brian J. Noggle proves it by confessing to his heinous federal crime right there on his blog. What did he do? He used a product "in a manner inconsistent with its labeling."

Law-abiding citizen that I am, I have never held the can of Scrubbing Bubbles Bathtub Cleaner as little as 5.99" or as much as 8.01" from the surface to be cleaned. I am a patriotic American and I love Our Lord and I want to see these crimes punished. If federal prosecutors can indeed indict a ham sandwich, then going after Mr. Noggle should be a slam dunk.

QotD: Can Open, Worms Everywhere Edition

Ian Argent on the eyes in the sky:
To all y'all worried about various.gov pointing their peepers at your backyard shenanigans via Robby the Robot or David the Drone, quit depending on security by obscurity. That horse left the barn with the first bear in the air, and arguably after those bicycle salesmen floated down a North Carolina beach early last century.
What is worrisome is the increasing arrogant disregard for the 4th amendment, not the specifics of the manifestation of that disregard.
You really should RTWT.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Things I Don't Get, #350,175

I understand pistols that are engraved and inlayed and plated to the point that they are essentially un-shootable objets d'art, or at least I do when the guns in question are old Broomhandles or Lugers that probably wouldn't get much range time anyway. They're not my personal cup of tea, but I understand them.

What I don't get is heavy engraving and serious bling on modern MIM-'n'-plastic guns full of toaster parts. It's like seeing hand-stitched Connolly leather, lambswool Wilton carpets, and a hand-polished walnut burl dash in a Toyota Camry with stamped steel wheels and dog dish hubcaps.

(H/T to Rational Gun.)

Overheard in the Office:

I'm minding my own business in the office. Roomie is down the hall getting ready for work, apparently singing to herself. I inadvertently overhear the following...
"♪♫ Cheer up, creepy Jean
Eat some cold green beans ♫♪"
I think she's OD'ed on dead Monkees.

Herding cats.

Because I wanted to make a note of them, Sebastian on why Libertarians suck at politics and, in a tangentially-related post, the Tireless Agorist notes that anti-authoritarians rarely seek positions of authority.

(H/T for the latter to RX.)

The Point: You keep missing it.

In a comment at Sebastian's is repeated the hoary old meme "libertarians just want to get stoned." Rather than snap back with the easy cheap shot of "...and if they did, what business is it of yours, anyway? Who died and made you Commisar?" I will take the time to give a serious answer.

Personally, I don’t care about the dope. Hell, for all I care, you can leave the dope illegal as long you undo all the constitutional damage you’ve done to stamp it out in the last fifty years or so.

All the probulating, door-kicking, snooping and spying, asset forfeiting, and armored personnel carriering has done more damage to this country than a hundred Woodstocks worth of stoners, to say nothing of the obscene profits we have basically legislated into existence for vicious criminal scum south of our borders and in our own cities.

I’d rather my neighbors smoked a bong every day than run the risk of a dyslexic SWAT team taking a battering ram to my front door at oh-dark-thirty. We need to stop burning the village to save it.

It's like Whitney Houston on an exploding space shuttle in a tornado.

I understand that there was some kind of political thing that was going on yesterday, something about a whole bunch of states having their primaries all at once. I can't find out anything about it on the local news, however, because zomg Peyton Manning.

We have coverage from the airport last night. Coverage from the Colts complex. There are interviews with random Hoosiers in the street. The weather is being presented with a "Well, it should be a great day for a Peyton Manning press conference!" angle, and if he was smart, Jim Irsay would check his bushes for photogs and his sewer lines for fiber-optic cameras leading to surveillance vans out front.

So, can one of you people outside of Indianapolis's Blue Bubble tell me which guy is winning the GOP sacrificial lamb sweepstakes?

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

I feel like a piker.

Shootin' Buddy sent an email with a link to this TeeWee news report on a huge collection of antique firearms in LaPorte, Indiana.

If you watch carefully, you'll see a pinfire centerfire cartridge LeMat.

(Oh, and speaking of neat guns, Zercool links to a guy who makes sweet little custom double rifles on .410-sized actions that weigh in under six pounds and can be had in pistol calibers like .357 Magnum. Do want. It'd be just the thing if there was a problem with a pygmy Cape buff tearing up the herbaceous border...)

Milestones.

Tango Juliet celebrates the odometer turning over 20k, while Guffaw In AZ celebrates his first Blogiversary with a jump to Wordpress.

Congrats, y'all! :)

How I knew I was home:

Driving back from Way Out West last year, as I rounded one of the last corners before arriving at Roseholme Cottage, I saw unmistakeable evidence that I was no longer on the High Plains, but rather back in Broad Ripple:





Now, if those were powered by, say, the motor from a 600cc sportbike, they'd probably be pretty zippy. I'd kinda want one, even. No such luck, however...



Coal-powered. And apparently driving one causes you to want to rock out to old Boston tunes.

I can hear Apu singing "The Dream Police".

It is rare that someone relates a dream that makes me jealous, but the other night while I was having some dull running gunfight with zombie terrorists in a giant warehouse full of CNC mills, Unc was apparently having one of the coolest dreams ever.

Changes.

Something I read over at The Ultimate Answer To Kings triggered an epiphany for me:
M often brings cool things when he comes to visit. After our session, he thinks he just might mod this into his carry gun. Because M also likes cool carry guns that not everybody else carries.
I can relate to that. I'm pretty sure that was a large part of why I carried, at various times, a 10mm Glock and one of those funky Teutonic staple guns, and I know it was why I carried a TZ-75 in .41 Action Express. I mean, does that scream gun hipster, or what? "Do you know what caliber my CCW is? Well, it's really obscure; you've probably never heard of it anyway." I'd have carried my Mateba .357 if I could have found a holster.

And there's nothing more unique than a custom carry pistol that you had built from a bare frame.

So it was odd to realize that I'd done a 180 on carry guns. The only reason I'm carrying an M&P9 now is because I couldn't find a generic gun. Seriously, if I could have found a white gun that just said "GUN" on the side in black letters, came in 9mm, and didn't have a single line or curve on it for "styling" or "aesthetics" or "brand identity", I'd have been on that thing like white on rice.

I don't want t-shirts or an owners club or a web forum for fans; I don't want keychains or a shooting league or an official brand historian; I just want the thing to shoot.