Thursday, August 21, 2014

"Whose side are you on? Ours? Or ISIS's?"

The ratings, baby.

I wouldn't tell a CNN or NBC reporter his own debit card PIN for fear he'd leak it just to get the scoop.

(I'm letting Foggy Bottom off the hook in this post because everybody with a room-temperature IQ knows they've been a branch office of the Lubyanka since the 1940s.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Automotif XLVII...

Seen in the Fresh Market parking lot yesterday:

Super-tight Benz 450SL

Yellow calipers, cross-drilled rotors, and AMG wheels

Canary yellow

Immaculate interior

You must be this nerdy to enter.

So, as I was heading toward GenCon last weekend, I reflected on the fact that I hadn't set foot in a Con since... what year did Cool World come out? ...since I helped work the computer gaming broom closet at Dragon*Con in '92, helping folks run Wing Commander and Aces of the Pacific on a couple dozen 386s.

Anyhow, I was a little unprepared for the size and scope of the convention, as well. I mean, I didn't get to see Larry or Mike while I was there, but with 50,000 attendees, that's like going to Elkhart, Indiana and saying you didn't bump into Fred or Joe.

I was amazed at the makeup of the crowd, too. Playing wargames back in the day, I was never very surprised if I wound up the only chick in a room full of people that looked like a casting call for Revenge of the Nerds V: The Undiscovered Country. Now? Endomorphic cracker neckbeards are still probably the largest single demographic, but it was a bare plurality; there were all shapes, sizes, and colors of nerd on hand. And why not? It's an easy club to join: All you gotta be is a nerd who likes to play games, and let's grab some d20s and throw down, friend. Hell, Curt Schilling's a gamer, and he's a known jock*.

As we were walking back to the car, Shootin' Buddy commented at how much more like a Benetton ad the exhibit floor looked like than the gaming stores of our youth, and we agreed this was a cool thing.

Apparently we were at a different GenCon than the one attended by the Tor columnist who received a brutal and well-deserved fisking from Larry, because the convention he attended was some horrible throwback to the Raj, where mustachioed white male villains were being waited on hand and foot by cringing dusky-hued servants.

I'd hate to live inside that dude's head; it's a messed up place.

*Anybody who holds onto the silly jock/nerd stereotypes past high school is doing themselves a disservice, BTW. Smash your cliques; like what you want; befriend who you want.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"Speak softly and carry a 3-wood."

Savages gonna savage.

The Good Ol' Days

There's an odd ahistoricity to some of the "militarization of the police" discussion kicked off by the Ferguson rioting. Joel, one of my wookie-suited moral compass needles, has pointed out to the people suddenly noticing that the po-po had scary guns that
Cops have been gunning up very publicly since the seventies...
Which is true enough, as far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough back.

In the Twenties, cops had better guns than the military. Submachineguns and self-loading rifles were widespread in law enforcement before they ever were in the Army. People need to stop getting their history from Andy Griffith reruns. Frank Hamer didn't gun Bonnie and Clyde down from ambush with a flintlock musket, you know.

In the Sixties, they’d have already turned the dogs and water cannons on the Ferguson protestors. In the Twenties, Andy and Barney would have broken the old Potato-Digger out of the armory and started mowing them down. The po-po used to be pretty quick to go weapons-free on unruly crowds, especially if such crowds were made up of black folk or commies.

Delaware Statie in the '60s.
Realistically speaking, the rate of police violence (like all violence) is probably at a low ebb, but in this age of social media, ubiquitous cameras, and the 24-hour news cycle, you get to hear about every bit of it. (And of course the media is 100% infallible when they report on police brutality, the way they are with gun-related stuff. We mock the "shoulder thing that goes up" utterances and then Gell-Mann our way across the page to nod in sage agreement at reported use-of-force abuses.)

Sure, in the old days, Officer Flatfoot walked a beat and said "Hi!" to the kids and helped people carry their groceries in. He also "tuned up" the occasional vagrant with some brass knuckles for giving him lip or helped a black guy ensure that the sun didn't set on his back in Pleasantville, and everybody just shrugged and went on, because that's how things were.

Let's everybody be thankful that, so far, Ferguson 2014 hasn't turned into either Los Angeles 1992 or Tulsa 1921.

The MIM meme continued...

When Og talks about MIM and manufacturing and machining and such, you should listen. He very likely helped make the stuff that made your stuff.

Pockets must have been sturdier...

Nearly a hundred years separate the two pistols above. The Pieper Bayard 1908 was, for many years, the smallest .380 self-loading pistol ever made. The derringer-sized auto held 4+1 rounds of .380ACP and fit in the palm of your hand, or a vest pocket...

...but it would need to be a sturdy vest pocket, because the Bayard is a little brick of a gun. Based, to an extent, on John Browning's original 1899/1900 pocket pistol design, the recoil spring is above the barrel, and it and the slide's mass are the only things resisting the rearward force of the cartridge in this straight-blowback design. By contrast, the BG380 is a locked-breech short recoil pistol, and its slide can be lighter since it and the barrel are locked together for the first few millimeters of travel.

The Bayard is 15.8 ounces empty and 17.6 ounces with five rounds aboard, compared to 12.4 and 14.7 for the Smith (and the Smith holds 7 rounds; almost half again the capacity, if you want to look at it that way.)

The Smith is much easier to shoot well, with the Bayard having a fairly wretched single action trigger, unlike the Smith's heavy-but-smooth DA pull. The Bayard also has, like almost all pistols of its vintage, only the most notional of sights. Still, if you dropped one in a sock, you could really mess someone up with it, I suppose.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Automotif XLVI...

Seen at lunch today:
1958 Chevrolet Corvette

'58 Vette, with Porsche 944 Turbo and Lotus Eclat in the background.

1972 MG Midget

Bentley Continental GTC

Morlocks and Eloi

My first thought was "How do you reach adulthood without knowing what foam earplugs look like? Have you never been on a shop floor and seen the dispensers? Or rode in a military aircraft? Or been on a shooting range?"

No. No, they haven't. Same planet, different worlds. Speciation is well underway.

Please keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle.

In the picture above, you can see the polymer Picatinny rail on the underside of the KSG's foreend, to which the Magpul vertical foregrip is attached.

Yesterday, Unc linked to a report of a KSG user who had been running a ProMag VFG on a Kel-Tec KSG and managed to blow part of his hand off when the grip's attachment to the rail failed. Apparently on the forward stroke his hand continued on out past the muzzle, probably still clutching the busted grip, while his trigger finger said "F&#$, I Got My Orders" and went ahead and pressed down with predictably gory results.

As noted over at The Firearm Blog's post on the incident, the ProMag grip in question does not use a crossbolt to secure itself to the rail, but a little plastic nubbin that is conspicuously lacking in confidence-inspiring qualities. While not at the Tapco level, ProMag stuff does tend to be pretty chintzy, and this is an extreme example of what can happen when you cut corners on things like this.

On an AR, this grip failing would have been a little "Ha ha!" moment. On the stubby pump shotgun, it had permanently life-altering effects. But, hey, the ProMag unit is half the price of a Magpul MOE VFG and a full fifty bucks cheaper than a Troy modular VFG!

I hate cargo cult crap.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Paging Og...

Can anybody decode the dimples on the underside of the BG380 slide? Paging Neanderpundit...

I've got the laser, now all I need is the shark.

Both my 432PD and the Bodyguard 380 have lasers. The latter sports an integral laser made by Insight (new ones are by CTC) and the former has a set of CTC Lasergrips.

My feelings about the two lasers couldn't be farther apart.

I think the J-frame lasergrips are handier than a pocket on a shirt. I wouldn't carry a J-frame without them anymore, given the choice, and that set right there is on its second gun, having first been installed on a 442 a dozen years ago. They're fantastic dry-fire aids on the snubby revolver, and for a gun that may be fired from an awkward position in a hurry and under less than ideal lighting conditions, they're a boon.

Meanwhile, the laser on the BG380 is next to useless for me.

The difference? The CTC Lasergrips on the J-frame are grip-activated. There's nothing you need to remember to push or nudge or whatever; grab the gun and the laser switches on.

Meanwhile, on the BG380, the activation switch is a lightly countersunk rubber nubbin in front of the trigger guard that takes a deliberate press with your trigger finger to turn on. It might as well be in Albania for all the odds that I'll remember to hit it in a hurry.

Building the frames with a built-in laser using a button on the front- or backstrap would probably add too much cost to the little guns. There's a no-laser variant available now, and if it had been around when I bought mine, it's what I'd have gone for.

Silver King tractors...

1939 Silver King
1939 Silver King. I think an R-38?

Closeup of the sign in front of the little Silver King.

silver king tractors
Nicely restored 1948 Silver King on the right, unrestored original finish on the left.
silver king tractor steering wheel
View of the unrestored tractor's dash.

"Weight, weight, don't tell me..."

Out of curiosity, I threw them both on the postal scale:
  • 6-shot 432PD revolver: 14.0 oz. empty, 16.0 oz. loaded
  • 7-shot BG380 pistol: 12.4 oz. empty, 14.7 oz. loaded

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Speciation continues apace.

Back in New Jersey, Tony Soprano is dead, but Snooki is still alive.

(H/T to Bitter.)

Overheard at GenCon...

His bike was too speedy for me. We also saw Darth Vader. Apparently the chow's pretty good in the Death Star cafeteria these days, 'cause I don't know if the Sith lord could pass the Imperial Forces PT test anymore.
So, we're walking toward the exhibit floor at GenCon, which started out as a convention for tabletop wargames* back in the day before morphing into the general station of the cross on the nerd party circuit it's become. Threading our way through swarming gamers and cosplayers...
Shootin' Buddy: "So, where are the games with the maps with hex grids and the cardboard counters with numbers on them?"

Me: "In the 1980s."
First card games and then computer games put paid to the classic games of SPI and Avalon Hill from the '60s, '70s, and '80s. Although, I do find it interesting that a couple of publishers are doing revivals of the old intellectual property; there are reboots of Panzer Leader and other classics out there, and Advanced Squad Leader has been in constant publication by Curt Schilling-backed** MMP since Avalon Hill went moribund and got bought by Hasbro. As the nerds of Gen X reach our peak earning years and start having midlife crises, I predict a revival of the old style of games: Nostalgia runs on 20-to-30 year cycles, after all.

I will also note that crowds don't come much more peaceable: They were bandying about attendance figures of around 50,000 souls, and we didn't see a single uniformed cop anywhere in the convention center. I'm sure there were a couple, but we never saw 'em.

*If anything, map-'n'-counter wargames are even farther outside mainstream pop culture than pen-'n'-paper role-playing games. They never did a Saturday morning cartoon based on Wooden Ships & Iron Men or Drang Nach Osten!, after all.

**Yes, that Curt Schilling, who is apparently a big ol' fellow nerd.

Just to note this someplace...

Phrases from recent forum or Facebook conversations that I thought would be swell in a musical context:
Band Name: Hopeless Dirtshooter
Debut Album: Benevolent White Ass

Band Name: Biogas Jackrabbit
Debut Album: Punching Bozo
Facebook is too ephemeral for my taste... well, it's not actually that ephemeral, vis-à-vis any other content on the tubes you'd care to pick, it's just hard to search. If I'm still blogging five years from now, for instance, this post would be pretty easy to find by searching on "ephemeral" which is not a word that pops up in conversation too often...

Overheard on the Internet...

Someone was asking how good the new M&P22 Compact was as a general bumming around/woods walking/critter pest disposal gun:
Caleb: "The three dead prairie dogs and the biogas jackrabbit say it's pretty good."

Me: " Is that autocorrect, or a new alternative fuel source out of the Dakotas?"

Caleb: "Autocorrect. I got a new iPad recently and I haven't trained it up yet. It still thinks "Kimber" means "Kimberly.""

Me: "For the record, Biogas Jackrabbit would be an awesome band name. "

The MIM meme...

So, here's a closeup of my Bodyguard 380, manufactured in August of 2012, all field-stripped. Notice anything (other than that I should have stopped down on the aperture for more DOF)?

Growing mold.
See the mold line atop the chamber? Unlike the multipiece barrel of the Walther PPX and its forged barrel housed in a MIM breechblock, this is a one-piece barrel, machined from a MIM blank. I never thought I'd see the like.

I didn't know such a thing was possible, as the internet has long informed me that powdered metallurgy is responsible for parts breakages, guns malfunctioning, rains of frogs, and the heartbreak of psoriasis. (This is, ironically, the very same internet that is practically wetting itself with excitement over the possibilities of "3D printed guns". Shhh. Don't tell them; it'd break their little hearts.)

.380 ACP maximum operating pressures are, of course, only ⅔ of standard 9x19mm and barely more than half those of 9x19mm +P. But they're about the same as .45 ACP. You'd think if there was a rash of BG380s going high-order in people's hands, we'd have heard about it by now, no? I've got a little over two hundred rounds through mine now without a malfunction, which isn't a lot by any measure, but probably more than most of them will ever shoot. Most will shoot a box of ammo, plus how ever many rounds it takes to pass a particular state's CCW licensing regime, and that's it.

In my book, these little pocket .380s like the BG380, P3AT, and LCP are largely disposable anyway, so complaints about their soulless qualities are pointless. Their primary virtues are light weight, compactness, and a price low enough "that every man (and woman) be armed." This is as volkspistole as it gets right now; in a perfect world, these things are sold in blister packs next to the disposable vacation cameras.

More Tab Clearnig...

Friday, August 15, 2014

Looking for work?

Contact this guy. He's getting paid big bucks by his employer to fill in in an entry-level position because they don't have enough entry-level people. (And entry-level is apparently a $50k/yr gig, which is plenty enough to keep body and soul together.)

In case you hadn't seen it...

I'm only about halfway in. It's interesting so far.

Random stuff...

A good start for a Friday morn.

Bobbi's working odd hours this week, which has juggled the sleep schedules of everybody in the house who is not a cat. She's sleeping from the early afternoon into the night, so as to go in at 0MyGawd30. I catch a late night nap, see her off, and then go doze another three hours until awakened at 0600 by an 18-lb cat who is sure he is about to starve to death if he doesn't get some food right away. I then get another couple hours of sleep before stumbling into the office to turn on the free ice cream machine and then do some writing for people who will exchange money for words.

This morning, it seemed that no sooner had I dozed off from the cat feeding than I was awakened by the sound of... Oh, damn! That's the garbage truck!

I hope the neighbors dug my PJs.

Because I hate using all my material at away games...

In response to the suggestion that America no longer has the constitution to make the rubble bounce, despite having the manifest ability to do so:
I dunno. I dunno what we'd do if NASCAR America were sufficiently terrified, but I don't imagine it would be pretty (and have no delusions it would be "permanent", except for those directly under the bombs.) As you alluded, we're a big country composed, by and large, of little men these days. Bob Heinlein had a quote that was something like "Never frighten a little man; he'll kill you." All the head-chopping and VBIEDing on the far side of the globe has only titillated Middle America; they have not frightened Joe Sixpack and Suzy Soccermom. Yet.

I'm talking the same quasi-libertarian isolationist line now that I was in '03, but let 'em set off bombs in Lucas Oil Stadium and I reckon I'll be out there in the street, clamoring to "Burn the nest!" like everybody else.

ETA: Also, thinking back to the mood thirteen years ago, the perpetrators of the attack on Manhattan had one thing in their favor: They were stateless actors. By declaring a "caliphate" and drawing borders and claiming nation-state status, IS has also drawn a handy bullseye around itself in a way AQ never did.

Blogmeet-Type Sort Of Thing

With the Indy 1500 coming up on the last weekend of this month, who wants to meet up for lunch at the Broad Ripple Brewpub at 3PM, Sunday the 31st? I'll be there for sure, because it's a fantastic way to relax my aching dogs after shuffling up and down the crowded aisles, getting crop dusted by Cletus and Jasper.

Tin cans beware!

I see Smith has a new miniature-size plinker-grade .22 pistol out, and this one's not a 1:1 scale model of a centerfire like the existing M&P22. Well, Umarex and Ruger are laughing all the way to the bank with their P-22 and SR-22 designs, and when it's raining soup, a company would be a fool to not stick a bowl out the window. (cf. S&W Governor.)

I've heard good things about the larger M&P22, and liked the ones I've tried. I'm dragging my heels on buying one as a replacement for my 22/45 simply because the latter gun may not be a perfect "understudy" for my carry gun anymore, but it's just been such a little trouper. I have put an ungodly crap-ton of ammo through my MkIII 22/45 for several years straight, and that with a cleaning regimen that would probably have ToddG accusing me of gun abuse; I'm talking chipping big chunks of carbon out of the receiver with a dental pick a couple times a year when the bolt starts getting sluggish no matter how much more lube I glop on it.

If the light-metal slide full-size understudy M&P22 will put up with that, I'll buy two.

Although I didn't get my Ruger from Bud's, this right here is the one I got. I see that they still list a new retail price of ~$250, which I think is pretty near the best deal in Christendom in a new self-loading pistol. It's a soulless little Sten gun compared to a Woodsman, Smith 41, or a High Standard, but it seems to thrive on abuse and neglect.