Saturday, December 04, 2021


Boy howdy, did Bitcoin...and cryptocurrencies in general...take a dump last night or what?

From the Wall Street Journal:
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies fell sharply Saturday, another sign that investors were pulling back from riskier bets after this week’s stock-market selloff.

Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency by market value, plunged more than 20% to $42,000 at midnight Eastern Time on Saturday before bouncing back, according to data from CoinDesk. It was trading at $49,127.60 around 3 p.m., down about 9% in 24 hours.

The declines were widespread across the cryptouniverse. Other widely traded cryptocurrencies including Solana, Dogecoin and Shiba Inu coin lost more than a fifth of their value.

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #209...

If "roller-locked short recoil semiauto pistols" were a Jeopardy! category, it would only have one question: What is the CZ 52?

Commercial Sellier & Bellot 85gr FMJ averages over fifteen hundred feet-per-second out of this thing, with the traditional fireworks display at the muzzle and brass flung somewhere into the weeds on the berm.

These, along with the Makarov and various Tokarev variants, were among a trio of Cold War commie blasters that were imported in such numbers to actually have a bit of an aftermarket. Hogue does hardwood replacement grip panels, both smooth and textured, and some holster makers have supported it. Prvi Partisan even loads JHP ammunition, if you're so unfortunate* as to have to rely on one for carry.

Also, unless you're absolutely certain that the decocker has been checked out to be safe (or the gun's been modified to make it so) do not trust that thing. In a distressingly large number of them, the decocker essentially functioned as a second trigger. We spent a summer making the decockers safe to use on several thousand of them back in '03.
  • Open the crate. 
  • Pull the slides off all the pistols. 
  • Put the frames on a cart and wheel it over to Shannon. 
  • Shannon would huck the frames up in the mill, take a pass across the rear face of the takedown latch so the slide would sit a teeny bit further forward, and then hit the hammer face a lick on the grinder. 
  • Wheel the cart of finished frames back to me. 
  • Cold blue all the hammer faces. 
  • Reassemble the slides onto the frames. 
  • Pick the pistols up one at a time and hit the hammers a whack with the handle of a screwdriver to make sure they stayed cocked. 
  • One at a time drop a dowel down the barrels and use the decocker to make sure the dowel didn't budge. 
  • Put the pistols back in the crate. 
  • Open the next crate. 
My car smelled like cosmoline all summer. (The Zed Drei was still fairly young back then and still whiffed of leather upholstery on warm Knoxville summer days. When it was ninety degrees out, I'd get in the car to drive home from the shop and the combination of the leather smell and the cosmoline that clogged all my pores and coated my jeans made a combination that whiffed of mildewed sweat socks and high school gym locker rooms. I have PTSD.)

*Look, when these were under a hundred bucks, you could argue that it beat a handful of nothing for a broke college student. Nowadays they're a collectible going for damn near new Glock prices and there have to be literally hundreds of better options for self defense in that price range.

Thursday, December 02, 2021

Automotif CCLXVIII...

This example of the last iteration of Jaguar's XJ line of sedans was shot with an Olympus E-3 & a Zuiko 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 II lens. The beaded water caught my eye for some reason.


Does Not Work That Way

Look, Alec, I get that you're absolutely gutted by this. 

I could be convinced that you legitimately believe that you did not pull the trigger. Our brains... our egos... will tell us some amazing lies in order to protect our id. Even though I think you're a huge asshole, on some basic human to human level, I feel bad for you, because this is obviously a horrible experience.

But guns, and most specifically Colt Single Action Armies and their clones, do not work that way.

If it were some striker-fired semiauto, we could concoct some bizarre and cosmically unlikely hypothetical whereby the sear broke at the same time as the aliens from planet Zoltar beamed the firing pin safety out of the gun, but not on that smokewagon you were holding. You had to at least manually cock the hammer on that replica hogleg while pointing it at someone.


Funk-B-Gone Recall

I'm not gonna lie, when I saw the link at CNN, I clicked through with almost morbid eagerness...

"Cancer causing chemicals in body spray? I wonder if it's something nasty and radioactive in Axe?" I wondered, visions of a popped-collar apocalypse dancing in my head.

Apparently not. Instead, it's benzene in aerosol deodorants like Secret and Old Spice, which have already been recalled. So be on the lookout for increased rates of armpit cancer in Old Spice users in twenty years or something.

In other news, "Increased Rates of Armpit Cancer" will be the title of the debut album from my next group, Popped-Collar Apocalypse.


Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Single Sentence Sci-Fi. Ready? Go!

Sense of Proportion

They're talking like he helped him fix a parking ticket or offered to be a character witness in a shoplifting case.


Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Wooden Ships, Iron Men, 'Splodey Shells

When we think of the tactics of the 18th Century running into the harsh reality of 19th Century industrial technology, we usually think of Union troops assaulting into the massed rifle fire of entrenched Confederates or Mahdists falling in windrows to British Maxim guns.

One example of this collision that's less well known is the Battle of Sinop, a naval engagement in the opening stages of what was to become called The Crimean War.

An expanding and industrializing Russia had been bumping up against an increasingly broke and sclerotic Ottoman Empire along their frontiers in the Caucasus and the Danube basin. They'd already resorted to fisticuffs in the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-'29, which resulted in a smarting defeat for the Ottomans.

In the wake of that war, finances caused the Turks to downsize their army and navy, and the Sultan became more dependent on loans from Britain and France to keep things going. Meanwhile, Russia was expanding their Black Sea flotilla with freshly-built men o'war with an eye toward keeping the sea a Russian lake. (Russia was, at the time allied with the other retrograde monarchies of Austria and Prussia in the anti-liberal Holy Alliance.)

When hostilities kicked off in 1853, the Black Sea squadron under Admiral Nakhimov went hunting and cornered a large chunk of the Turkish fleet anchored at Sinop, forming up for a supply convoy under the protection of the harbor forts.

Nakhimov's ships sailed right on in, maneuvered to put the Ottoman ships between his own and the guns of the harbor defenses, dropped anchor, and started blasting. 

On top of the fact that the eleven-ship Russian force included a half-dozen ships of the line versus a dozen Turkish frigates and corvettes, the new Russian ships were armed with the latest in high-tech naval weaponry: Paixhans guns. These were direct-fire, flat-trajectory naval guns firing explosive shells rather than solid shot, the forerunners of the famous Dahlgrens of the US Civil War.

The effect of these shells on the wooden Ottoman frigates and corvettes was devastating. By the time the smoke cleared, the Turkish fleet had blown up, burned to the waterline, or been run aground to keep from sinking. One paddle frigate, the Taif, managed to bolt for the harbor exit and escape, eluding Russian pursuers on a mad dash for the Bosporus.

The effect of Sinop was to demonstrate to the world's navies that unarmored warships were practically helpless, fragile and flammable deathtraps, in the face of shell-firing guns. Ironclads became increasingly common, and in less than a decade the Monitor and the Virginia would be bouncing Dahlgren shells off each other off Hampton Roads, marking the definitive end to the age of wooden ships and iron men.

My guilty nerdy pleasure: Wooden Ships & Iron Men

PTSD and the First Responder...

Greg Ellifritz has a great post up on career advice he'd give to new police officers:
No one likes the smell of a decomposing body, but I’ve never vomited after seeing a decomposed corpse. I’ve never had any nightmares about all the death I’ve seen. I don’t have PTSD. Like many of you reading this, I simply did my job in the face of horrific crime scenes and never let what I did get to me.

Or so I thought…
It's worth reading in its entirety even if you aren't the po-po. The principle of not inviting unnecessary additional negativity and trauma into your life is widely applicable.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Mystery planes...

Scoping out the Sukhoi factory in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, I was puzzled by the small planes with broad, swept wings and what appeared to be high engines. I couldn't figure out what they were, so I googled around and found the answer: A neat little Beriev amphibian, the Be-103.


"This is my safety, sir!"

Because it's never not time for these...

Nothing makes me more nervous than someone who's convinced they're too safe to screw up.



Going through a corner of the living room I ran across my first nice camera bag, a Lowepro messenger that's a sort of Domke knockoff, and it's apparently so old it's been discontinued.

Camera bags are sort of like holsters, in my experience, in that you can go through a few trying to find The One™ and, once found, you stick with The One™ for quite some time. Meanwhile some corner of the house becomes a graveyard of previous experiments.

The One™ least for me. Your The One™may differ.

Still, that Lowepro is a nice bag, and it wasn't exactly cheap. I should find a use of some sort for it.


Tribal Signaling

Oh, for heaven's sake, either cover your germholes in enclosed public spaces or don't, fellow Broad Riparians. There's no mandate in Marion County anymore and hasn't been for months if you're vaccinated or a liar, and I think Fresh Market is the only place I go regularly that still has signs up, although nobody's enforcing them and only half anybody pays them any mind*. 

But walking around a grocery store or restaurant performatively protecting the world from your chin germs in an apparent effort to let everyone know you didn't vote for Trump is just ridiculous.

Sign at Roberts Camera from middle of last year.

*My personal rule of thumb is if they're making the employees wear masks, then I'll pull one on while I'm in there out of solidarity. I know these people by name; I've been shopping in the same stores for many years now, and if they're going to make my friendly neighborhood cashier wear one for eight hours, I can put one on for five minutes while I'm dropping off film or picking up bagels because I'm not a giant douche.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

The funniest Mel Brooks movie...

...that isn't Young Frankenstein:


Apparently a dude was discovered as a stowaway on an American Airlines flight from Guatemala City to Miami. According to FlightAware, AA1182 is a thousand mile daily run, a roughly two and a half hour flight at 37,000 feet with a 737-800. The news says dude was in a main gear well, but how do you do that without dying of hypoxia?

According to an FAA report (PDF) from the 1990s, it's a fifty-fifty gamble at best.

I get claustrophobic in an aisle seat, so gear well steerage is right out as far as I'm concerned.