Friday, February 26, 2021

Falling Off a Cliff

First, the scaremongering video. Anybody who was invested in these companies would soil their Underoos watching this.

That's...well, that's bad. Right?

Of course, they go on to explain that's only telling part of the story. Measuring everything from 2010 is ignoring the fact that 2010 was a peak for camera sales after years of explosive growth. 

In 2000, digital cameras were weird and clunky things still. The Mavica I bought in 2001 recorded 1024x768 images on floppy discs. It was discontinued merchandise at Wally World, already obsolete only two years after being released with a thousand dollar MSRP. 

Ten year later, a thousand bucks would buy a Canon 60D, which is still a recognizably modern DSLR, capable of recording eighteen megapixel images; that means that unless your screen resolution is set to 5184x3456, which I'm betting it's not, you're not going to see the whole image onscreen at once*.

The stretch of time from 2000 to 2010 was a decade of explosive, crazy, Moore's Law-esque growth in the digital camera world, and it kept people on the upgrade treadmill pretty effectively. Camera makers relentlessly searched for niche markets of customers needing a way to record images, and tried to fill every little one of them. Look at how many different camera models Nikon alone introduced in 2010, from DPreview:

And that was a middlin' busy year for Nikon intros. Look how thinly they were slicing that market! There's even a camera in there with a built-in projector.

This is one of those scenarios where, with the benefit of 20/20 (or 20/21, as the case may be) hindsight, you wonder "Why did nobody look around and think 'There's no way this can last. Eventually everybody's gonna have a camera that makes them happy.'"

Which is, of course, what happened. 

It happened because 2010 is also about the time that sales of smartphones with actual usable cameras really took off and now pretty much everyone does have a camera that makes them happy, only it's part of their phone and therefore not counted by CIPA, the camera industry's . The NSSF should thank their lucky stars that smartphones don't come chambered in 9mm.

I know that even with its feeble (by modern standards) 3.2MP rear camera, my first smartphone dramatically increased the number of photos shared on the blog. Meanwhile, by the time I bought my first DSLRs in 2013, the market was about to enter free fall. In a way, I helped, since I bought a used Rebel XTi, deciding that a camera that was a couple generations out of date was still plenty adequate for my modest needs.

Over at The Online Photographer, Mike has a philosophical take on it, suggesting it might be more of a return to normal from a bubble.
"As far as "our end of the market" goes, I'm concerned, yes, but not panicked. We had a lot of good choices back in the '80s when I went to art school, and we have a lot of good choices now. There were 5.2 million DSLR and mirrorless ILCs sold in 2020. If you compare that to the top end of the market in 1985 when I graduated from the Corcoran School of Art with a degree in photography—setting aside all those point-and-shoots—well, I don't know for sure, but I'll bet the players at that time would be plenty impressed with that figure. Yes, I was sad we lost Olympus; but consider that, thanks to Andreas Kaufmann, Leica survived to thrive in the digital era, which looked pretty darned unlikely at times during the transition. I would have bet against it. And Panasonic was definitely not a player when I came up. Fuji was mainly a film manufacturer. Lose some, win some."

*...and ten years after that, a thousand bucks gets you Canon's full-frame mirrorless EOS RP, which sports a 6240x4160 resolution. The curve is leveling out, though, and the dwindling market means it will probably continue to do so.


"Listen, Legoland..."

I used the word "gackass" last night and it wound up requiring explanation. I'd thought everyone had seen this, but apparently not.

Thursday, February 25, 2021


I thought the opening credits to American Gods had a familiar feel. Looking into it, the production house that did them, Elastic, also did the opening for Altered Carbon and (maybe my favorite) the first season of True Detective.


Stay frosty!

Remember, everyone that drives faster than you is a maniac and everyone who drives slower is a moron.
"I'm prepared, you're paranoid, that guy over there's a sheeple."

By the way, if you're not reading Growing Up Guns, you should be.


Light Painting

Borepatch's co-blogger ASM826 describes the technique of "light painting" using a flash:

Here's a video that shows some light painting in action. (I don't know anything about the dude who made the video, but it's illustrative of the technique.)

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Sympathetic Wince

What do me and Tiger Woods have in common? 

Steel rods in our right shins from catastrophic compound tib-fib fractures, and neither of us can play golf right now.
"Tiger Woods is recovering following hours of surgery to repair comminuted open fractures in his right leg following a serious car accident in Los Angeles on Tuesday (February 23) morning. A comminuted fracture is when a bone breaks into several pieces and pierces the skin. 
Orthopedic trauma surgeons at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center had to insert a rod to repair his tibia and used screws and pins to stabilize the damage in his ankle and foot. 
"Comminuted open fractures affecting both the upper and lower portions of the tibia and fibula bones were stabilized by inserting a rod into the tibia," Dr. Anish Mahajan said in a statement. "Additional injuries to the bones of the foot and ankle were stabilized with a combination of screws and pins. Trauma to the muscle and soft-tissue of the leg required surgical release of the covering of the muscles to relieve pressure due to swelling.""
Dude's gonna be off his feet for a bit and he's gonna need to learn to walk all over again, which sucks. His break sounds even worse, because I got off lightly in terms of soft tissue damage and my feet didn't get busted up.


Speaking to the gods & feelings in your belly.

I'm engaged in a project to dramatically reduce the number of books and magazines in the attic. I had been dragging stuff to Half Price Books in fits and starts before the Time of the 'Rona, and since then I've just been dropping off boxes at the Goodwill store on Keystone Avenue.

Gun magazines are mostly goners except for ones I'm in, or older ones I use for reference. In fact, most magazines are going away except a few old collectibles and my fairly complete library of Car and Driver. Nonfiction books are getting culled pretty heavily, keeping only ones I'll use for reference purposes or found entertaining enough that I'll likely reread them at some point.

The fiction paperback shelves are getting culled in much the same fashion: Outside of certain classics or favorite authors, the general test is "Am I going to reread this?" As an example, the Harry Turtledove shelves got cleared pretty heavily. I liked most of his stuff just fine when I read it, and I definiely recommend him as an author, but most of it just doesn't have a lot of re-reading potential for me, personally.

There are a couple exceptions and one is Between the Rivers, which is both in a historical setting I find interesting (the dawn of the city-state era in Mesopotamia) and has at its core a very interesting conceit. In this novel, most of the early Bronze Age Mesopotamian city states are still under the sway of their gods, with their people practically no more than automatons. The novel's protagonist comes from a particular city,  Gibil, which has propitiated its city deity to the point that he slumbers constantly, giving the citizens of that city state a unique amount of free will. Madcap hijinks ensue.

This is a riff on the theory put forth by Julian Jaynes in The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, which is pretty controversial and leaves some serious unanswered questions.

The review of the book at Slate Star Codex has, I think, a useful take on the idea...

"Here Jaynes is at his most brilliant, going through ancient texts one by one, noting the total lack of mental imagery, and highlighting the many everyday examples of conversations with gods. Every ancient culture has near-identical concepts of a god who sits inside of you and tells you what to do. The Greeks have their daemons, the Romans their genii, the Egyptians their ka and ba, and the Mesopotamians their iri. The later you go, the more metaphorically people treat these. The earlier you go, the more literal they become. Go early enough, and you find things like the Egyptian Dispute Between A Man And His Ba which is just a papyrus scroll about a guy arguing loudly with the hallucinatory voice of his guardian spirit, and the guardian spirit’s hallucinatory voice arguing back, and nobody thinking any of this is weird (people who aren’t Jaynes would wimp out and say this is “metaphorical”). Every ancient text is in complete agreement that everyone in society heard the gods’ voices very often and usually based decisions off of them. Jaynes is just the only guy who takes this seriously.

Turn on what Terry Pratchett called “first sight and second thoughts” and try to look at the Bronze Age with fresh eyes. It was really weird. People would center their city around a giant ziggurat, the “House of God”, with a giant idol within. They would treat this idol exactly like a living human – feeding it daily, washing it daily, sometimes even marching it through the streets on sedan chairs carried by teams of slaves so it could go on a “connubial visit” to the temple of an idol of the opposite sex! When the king died, hundreds of thousands of men would labor to build him a giant tomb, and then they would kill a bunch of people to serve him in the afterlife. Then every so often it would all fall apart and everyone would slink away into the hills, trying to pretend they didn’t spend the last twenty years buliding a jeweled obelisk so some guy named Ningal-Iddida could boast about how many slaves he had.

If the Bronze Age seems kind of hive-mind-y, Julian Jaynes argues this is because its inhabitants weren’t quite individuals, at least not the way we think of individuality. They were in the same kind of trance as a schizophrenic listening to voices commanding him to burn down the hospital. All of it – the ziggurats, the obelisks, the pyramids – were an attempt to capture not individual humans, but those humans’ daemons – to get people to identify the voice in their head with the local deity, and replace their free will with a hallucinatory god who represented their mental model of society’s demands on them."

Go and RTWT.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Today's Cat Picture Interlude...

Holden appears to have taken possession of one of Bobbi's notebooks. Pic done with an EOS M6 & EF-M 22mm f/2 STM lens, wide open at ISO 1600.


Mars Needs Mic Mittens

That skycrane lowering the rover from a near hover and then blasting away on its thrusters is pretty epic, and took a lot of engineering confidence. Used also with the Curiosity rover, it's lot showier than bumping down in a ball of airbags like earlier efforts.

Curiosity descent illustration from Wikipedia

Lots of oohing and aahing from the network anchors about the "sounds from Mars", which is just wind blowing across a mic and normally something networks pay money for gadgets to eliminate. I don't know what Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb thought they were going to hear. Thoat farts? Thark war cries?


Monday, February 22, 2021

Sign of the Times

Because I try and keep at least a trickle of ammo coming in for testing purposes, I'm winding up seeing weird stuff in these days of beggars not being choosers. Importers and wholesalers are finding what they can get and selling it on.

The most recent acquisition, purchased from Lucky Gunner, was some 9x19mm 115gr JHP from IMI Systems that they're calling "Di-Cut". It comes in brown cardboard fifty-round boxes. The primers appear to be sealed and the bullet has a sort of SXT look to it. I'll get some chrono data, and shoot some jello here later this week.

Cleanup on Aisle GBBL

From the Gun Blog Black List:
"I took it over in 2013 after the others had to leave for professional reasons (can't blog AND be a paid gun writer)."
Huh. I learned a lot from Farmer Frank, but he never told me about that part.

Anyway, Old NFO and the crew who are currently maintaining the GBBL are asking for help in cleaning up the sidebars, so check in if you're active, don't if you're not, I guess?


Sunday, February 21, 2021

Mouseguns, Then and Now

A frequently-encountered fixture at the gun store is the crusty old dude leaning on the doesn't matter if he's leaning on the employee side or the customer side, he's there somewhere...and intoning that all these new-fangled nine millimeter pistols are silly and calibers don't count for self defense unless they start with "four".

Given the persistence of this hoary myth, where did all those .38, .32, and even .25 handguns come from back in the good ol' days?

For starters, dispel the myth of the Old West being someplace where people walked around all the time with spurs a-jingle-jangle-jinglin' and the big iron on their hip. While it wasn't the network of strict gun control laws that revisionists try to paint it, nor either was it the open-carry paradise of Hollywood myth.

In mid-late 19th Century America, walking around a town or city setting with a full-size horse pistol stuffed in your belt would be seen as eccentric as it would in similar surroundings today. Perhaps more so, since 19th Century Americans didn't grow up watching old John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies on cable. On the other hand, guns were everywhere.

"But wait, Tam!" you say, "I thought you just said people mostly didn't walk around with the big iron on their hip!"

Well, generally they didn't. First, a Colt's M1873, the Peacemaker of Hollywood lore, went for around twenty bucks over most of the time period of the Old West. They made about 175,000 of them, including military contract guns, over that period. (Smith & Wesson, by comparison, made almost twice that many of the big No.3 top-breaks, for what it's worth.)

Twenty bucks was a lot of dough, relatively speaking. About a tenth the cost of a good saddle horse and the equivalent of a pretty nice AR-15 these days. Since cowboys and miners around the various cowtowns and mining boomtowns were overwhelmingly young, single men with fairly low-overhead lifestyles, it wouldn't be amiss to think of the Colt Peacemaker and well-saddled Quarter Horse in 1870s Dodge City as the equivalent of a Daniel Defense carbine and Ford Raptor in 2010s Midland-Odessa. I have no idea what the 19th Century equivalent of truck nuts was, and considering that male working horses are almost uniformly geldings, I'm not sure I want to.

Meanwhile, there were literal millions of .22, .32, .38, and .41 pocket guns, rimfires and centerfires, sold over the same period. Human nature hasn't changed much over the years, and I didn't see no metal detectors at that saloon in Tombstone. Most every person had a gun for pocket, purse, or nightstand and, probably like most gun owners today, carried it if they felt like they were "going someplace they might need it."

In its original black powder format in tip-up Smiths, the .32 Rimfire Short essentially duplicated the ballistics of .31 caliber cap & ball pocket revolvers.

Thing is, most of the little black powder guns really were anemic. An old Colt 1849 Pocket Model, a .31 caliber cap'n'ball number, struggled to hit 600fps with a 50gr round ball and normal loads. The .38 S&W black powder cartridges used in top-break Smiths fired a much heavier bullet, albeit at about the same velocity. The .41 Rimfire Short, used in Remington Derringers and some pocket revolvers, barely got its 130gr conical bullet up over 400 feet per second; I've seen one go through a cardboard target, only to fail to penetrate a hardwood stump a dozen or so yards downrange deeply enough to lodge itself firmly in the wood.

Reel West vs. Real West: Guns like this S&W .32 Single Action and Colt New Line .38 rimfire are a lot more typical of the period than the Peacemaker.

When the French introduced smokeless powder, everybody went a little gaga over the higher velocities offered by the new, small, metal-jacketed bullets. Velocities for pocket pistols were topping 800 or 900 feet per second with the new .32 cartridge from John Browning. Equipped with FMJ bullets, cartridges like the .32ACP and .380 had no problems with penetration, at least compared to the pocket pistol rounds of the black powder era. Newer revolver cartridges, like .32 Smith & Wesson Long and .38 Special, were reaching these dizzying velocities with lead bullets.

I'm sure in the early 1900s you could find someone leaning on the gun counter at the local hardware store speaking in Authentic Frontier Gibberish about how "they didn't make a .46!", no doubt. But that didn't stop the Russians and Japanese shooting each other in job lots in the trenches of Port Arthur and Mukden with service revolvers chambered in cartridges whose bullet diameters would have caused Gun Counter Guy to curl his lip in involuntary disdain, but which were viewed as modern because of their higher velocities relative to the black powder rounds they supplanted. (9mm Type 26's for the Japanese versus 7.62x38 M1895 Nagants for the Russkies.) Heck, gun store guys like Teddy Roosevelt, right? Well, when he had revolvers issued to the NYPD, they were .32 Long Colts.

But, hey, if there's one thing we've learned about the Old West, it's that when the legend becomes fact, print the legend.


Saturday, February 20, 2021