Monday, July 31, 2006

Weekend Miscellany

1) Thanks to a co-worker, I finally saw Napoleon Dynamite. I spent the first third of the movie in slack-jawed incomprehension, and by the time it was over, I actually got a little weepy/smiley for the yutz. The movie was a lot cleverer than I initially gave it credit for. I also realized that I only have When In Rome on cassette; I need to go buy a CD...

2) Bidness has been brisk at the shop for this time of year; whatever the economy is doing, it sure isn't keeping folks from buying guns.

3) Picked up some .44 Special/.44 Magnum dies from the shop. Next payday I'll probably pick up .45 Colt. My Fearless Prediction: Reloading is going to be very popular by this time next year. Expect component shortages going into the peak season around winter time.

Blog Stuff: Does this seem like a good idea?

Yeah, that's just what I want: My cell phone constantly blurting out my Visa number wherever I go... Why not have it broadcast my bank account number and directions to my house, while we're at it?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Running late...

...can't think of a thing to type, so here's a picture of a bunny with a pancake on its head.

More later.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Well that kind of narrows it down...

They're playing this one extra-cautious:
"The analyses of the sonar pictures and the comparison to historical documents show that it is the Graf Zeppelin," Zajda told The Associated Press.

Zajda said a number of characteristics of the shipwreck exactly matched those of the Graf Zeppelin, including the ship's measurements and a special device that lifted aircraft onto the launch deck from a lower deck.

The naval experts were still waiting to find the name "Graf Zeppelin" on one the ship's sides before declaring with absolute certainty that it is the German carrier, Zajda said.
Number of carriers sunk in the Baltic: One. But just in case the USN or Royal Navy misplaced a flattop and didn't tell anyone, they're holding off on official pronouncements until they can see some proof of ID.

(H/T to Marko.)

A memo from the secret underground bunker of the Gnomes of Zurich:

"zomg! WTC 7 collapsed straight down!"

Did gravity have a strong lateral pull in NYC that day? Which way was it supposed to collapse? The number of people who think that buildings are supposed to topple like trees shows the woeful state of science education in this country...

Somebody in that thread states that a current poll shows that 60% of people believe that dreck. I'm skeptical about those numbers without seeing the raw data, but assuming they're true, I'd like to see a followup poll showing the corellation with folks who think that Capricorn One was a documentary.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Forms and Observances.

Let me open this monologue with an illustratory tale: Once upon a time, my ex (an Atlanta native) and I attended the laser show at Stone Mountain with a couple of yankee transplantee friends. At the highlight of the show the strains of Dixie waft through the humid air of a Georgia summer night. We both dutifully rose, but my reverie was disturbed by the sound of my ex-schmoopie digging his toe into the ribs of his still-placidly-seated counterpart and hissing "Stand up, God damn you! They're playing Dixie!"

Anyhow, reactionary that I am, I'm really big on forms and observances; those mindless customs we perform to show that we are part of the tribe. I stand for Dixie, as well as the Star Spangled Banner and the "Hallelujah Chorus" of Handel's Messiah* (bet you didn't know you were supposed to stand up for that one, did you? Ya bunch of visigoths...) Why do we do this? Well, because we just do, that's why.

Recently on Glock Talk, there was a thread on whether or not ladies should remove their hats during the playing of the National Anthem. A couple of troglodytes displayed their burgeoning patriotism, alongside their complete lack of knowledge of the Flag Code, by opining that Yes, we Should. This was followed by people attempting to delve into the whys and wherefores of this custom, from quoting its origin in religious shows of respect (True: A man doffs his cap to show humility, while a woman keeps her head covered,) to quoting some fruity fashion nabob who stated that it was purely functional and related to the elaborate headgear worn by women of a bygone era, and that a woman wearing a unisex ball cap should remove it. (I've got news for you, Pointdexter: If I quickly doff my "simple unisex ball cap" for the National Anthem, my ponytail holder is going to put out the eye of someone three rows back. If the cap was a fitted one, it will be accompanied in its trajectory by a bobby pin or two.)

The real reason that we, in the present day, remove our headgear if we are non-uniformed males (they salute) or leave it on if we are women is this: Because That's Just The Way It Is Done. If you can't wrap your head around that, then don't try and come over all conservative-like on me, because you're just making things up as you go, ya hippie.

(*: Tradition holds that at the premier of Handel's Messiah, King George II was so moved by the "Hallelujah Chorus" that he stood up. Of course, everyone else present stood because the king was standing. Thus, we stand when it is performed to this day. Whether the tale is true or not makes no nevermind; we stand up because that is what civilized people do when the "Hallelujah Chorus" is performed.)

Boomsticks: Gratuitous Gun Pr0n No. 34

Beretta 96D with Surefire light and Cold Steel Recon 1. I thought the bottle of household cleaner was a witty addition at the time. ;)

Baseball: "In the Beginning was a Civil War hero..."

I'm currently devouring Bully For Brontosaurus, by Stephen Jay Gould. Anybody who loved natural history, science, baseball, and the exercise of the written language as much as he does is okay in my book, even if he was a Pinko socialist at heart.

In the essay "The Creation Myths of Cooperstown", he discusses baseball's true origins vis a vis the myth of Doubleday and Cooperstown presented by Albert Spalding, parenthetically comparing them to the current debates on evolution and abortion. Regardless of one's views on the topics referred to, the essay is worth the read if only for gems like the following:
"The silliest and most tendentious of baseball writing tries to wrest profundity from the spectacle of grown men hitting a ball with a stick by suggesting linkages between the sport and deep issues of morality, parenthood, history, lost innocence, gentleness, and so on, seemingly ad infinitum. (The effort reeks of silliness because baseball is profound all by itself and needs no excuses; people who don't know this are not fans and are therefore unreachable anyway.)"

Amen. ;)

Countdown meme...

TEN K-frame Smith & Wessons

NINE thousand three hundred forty eight posts at

EIGHT William Gibson novels

SEVEN Todd McFarlane figures

SIX feet of atti, er, altitude

FIVE pairs of boots

FOUR bottles of Snake Dog IPA

THREE Tarantino movie posters

TWO fluffy kitties

ONE Beemer with a dented nose. :)

(plus ZERO encumbrances to the wandering life.)

Heh. That is harder than it looks. Props to Dustbury. Rules can be found here.

(EDIT: The torch has been taken up by Prince Wally, pdb, and Joseph.)
(EDIT Part deux: While counting my William Gibson novels, I noticed the absence of Mona Lisa Overdrive. Hey, ColtCCO! Do you still have my copy or do I need to don a miner's headlamp and dig under my futon?)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Blog Stuff: You don't really like me for my mind.

Just kidding.

Still, the bikini photo posting was a fun experiment: 1,990 hits on a Sunday, when I'd normally expect about 400-450. Now to figure out a way to incorporate this into my plans for eventual global domination... Perhaps a new ad slogan? "Come for the boobies; stay for the snark"? Too blatant? ;)

Blog Stuff: I feel like a stool pigeon.

Okay, let me get this out there: I hate red light cameras. I mean really hate. I just loathe the idea that R2D2 is perched up there on a post, waiting with mechanical patience for me to violate some regulation or another so it can fink on me to HAL, who will then mail me my citation.


Just as a prisoner in a concentration camp may loathe the guards, yet still feel a bit of schadenfreude when they put a beat-down on the camp bully, I get a warm 'n' tingly feeling when I see that fireworks display of flashes go off as some asshat of an eighteen wheeler pilot runs the reds at the Lovell Road exit, now that the shiny new cameras are up.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Boomsticks: An odd kind of snobbery...

Let me make a shocking confession: After thirteen years in the gun business, most guns bore me. I can walk through a gun show in thirty minutes without my pulse rising above the resting rate. Oh, look. A table of Glocks. There's a bunch of SIGs and some Kimbers. Hooray, it's some Taurus revolvers.

It gets hard not to feel rude when one can't work up a proper level of enthusiasm over a friend's new acquisition. I mean, I'm happy for your new Ruger SP-101 or Ed Brown Kobra, but I'm having to fake the oohs and ahs because I've seen a dozen of them and I can pick up the phone and order a dozen more. This is what has caused my interest in the types of guns that still hold fascination for me: Old S&W revolvers, rare old military rifles, and true custom 1911's. These are different in that you can't just pick up the phone and get one whenever you want. You're dependant on the vagaries of chance and your patience and your skill in tracking. It's the difference between ordering a hamburger at Mickey D's (or even a great steak at an expensive restaurant) and hunting for your own food.

The acquisition of a current production gun has no drama to it any more, at least for me. I know they're out there, and all it takes is money and a phone call and it's mine. It's different with the old and the rare. That Ross rifle that wandered into the shop the other day, the first I'd ever seen in real life, was the heart-pounding equivalent of the biggest Boone & Crockett buck you've ever seen suddenly strolling into your sights one day in the woods. It was the same sensation with the Affordable .44 Special Hand Ejector. You know Mbogo is in the brush someplace; you've heard tales of him but never seen him, and then suddenly he's right there in front of you. Is your bank account a big enough caliber to bring him down? Or are you going to have to let him get away and hope that someday you'll run across him again when you're packing a checkbook with a few more foot-pounds? By contrast, the nicest current production Les Baer or HK is tied to a stake, just waiting for you to take your shot. It doesn't seem... sporting.

I was joking with the guy who bought the Ross that the reductio ad absurdum of all this becomes "catch-and-release" gun collecting. Since so much of the thrill is in the chase, why not just take a picture of the gun next to a stack of hundreds big enough to show that you could have bought it if you'd wanted to? I don't think I'll ever get quite that zen-like in my gun collecting, but it's an amusing thought nonetheless.

Blog Stuff: Who comes up with this?

Razr? Krzr? Rizr?

I'm waiting for the Pozr or the Luzr.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Boomsticks: Triviata.

Tuesdays are Ladies Day at the Armory.

On Tuesdays I carry a magazine with a pink bumper pad in my 1911. It's my big concession to girliness. :)

Boomsticks: The timing couldn't be worse...

I have a thing for milsurp rifles. My affliction has progressed past the point where the quick fix of a Yugo Mauser or a M1944g carbine does anything for me; I'm mainlining Mannlicher-Schoenauers and Springfield MkI's with the Pedersen cut.

What should walk into the shop yesterday? The very first Canadian Ross that I've ever seen in real life, and thanks to the M39, Greek M-S, and the .44 Hand ejector, I'm so broke I can't even afford to pay attention. It's a Ross MkII that's had the stock sporterized, so it's out on the floor for only $399. Someone please come buy this thing so I don't have to stare at it all day. Please? With sugar on top?

Books: Good stuff to read.

Just wrapped up Charles Sheffield's Aftermath; an interesting novel set in a world staggered by the effects of Alpha Centauri, our nearest stellar neighbor, going supernova. It has a good storyline, EMP, freakish post-apocalyptic weather, astronauts, a creepy Hannibal Lecter-like doctor, good hard science (what with Sheffield being the actual 80-lb brain scientist,) and there's even a sequel for me to buy. Yay! :)

I've been meaning to read more Steven Jay Gould, having thoroughly enjoyed Dinosaur In A Haystack. I knew I'd like his stuff, because despite his Steven King-esque output, like Heinlein you almost never see his stuff in used bookstores; folks tend to keep his books. On my last trip to McKay's, I scored big time, and was able to snatch copies of Ever Since Darwin, The Mismeasure Of Man, and Bully For Brontosaurus. I'm stoked.

For years I've been trying to remember the title of a book I read back when I was dispatching for SmithKline's corporate flight department in Atlanta. Nights got long and lonely around the hangar, and so I had plenty of time to read. One of the pilots left a novel lying around; it was a Cold War espionage thriller with a fascinating plot revolving around a secret KGB academy in the woods and the sudden re-appearance of a US pilot declared MIA in VietNam. I really enjoyed it and wanted to get a copy for myself, but I hadn't been able to recall the author or the title; only that there were Russian nesting dolls on the cover of the hardback. I have literally laid awake nights trying to remember what it was. Mad props to Kit for ending years of torture through freakish coincidence. Off to Amazon. :)

Monday, July 24, 2006


Woke up late. Got engrossed in my current reading material. (Aftermath, by Charles Sheffield.) Now I don't have time to make fun of anything before I go to work.

More this evening...

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Bikes: Don't try this at home, kids.

Idjit trashes perfectly good motorcycle in Oklahoma.

Nice work, Tex. Whatcha gonna do for an encore?

Boomsticks: Go figure...

It's apparently been a violent year for shooting deaths in South Jersey so far.

Meanwhile Kennesaw, Georgia had its first homicide since 2004. It was done with a knife.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The old bikini picture inside joke...

When I referenced "the bikini picture" in a previous post, I didn't stop to realize that not everyone who reads this blog also reads the gun boards (ie. The Firing Line, The High Road, Glock Talk,) and even then, not everyone was around on those boards long enough to remember it. So here's the story:

A long time ago, I was younger. As younger people often are, I was also thinner, largely wrinkle-free, and moderately toned. I dabbled a little bit at modelling, and at one point we were going to do a photo shoot to make a poster for the shop I worked at at the time. It was going to feature me holding an AR-15 carbine and wearing an American flag, a smile, and not much else. ("Y'know" mused the photographer, "I've done plenty of 'cheesecake & guns' shoots before, but this is the first time the model brought her own rifle.") Anyhow, a day was spent on the lake on my boss's cabin cruiser burning up film.

Fast forward a couple years: I'm recuperating from a motorcycle wreck, wheelchair-bound, and fairly well opiated. A thread comes up at Glock Talk entitled "Post a picture of yourself!" or somesuch. Since the only picture I had of me that was on my hard drive at the time was a scan of a 4x6 outtake from that shoot, I posted it. It seemed perfectly reasonable to me in my pill-sotted condition.

Don't do drugs and post, kids.

As the pain pill wore off, I came to my senses and deleted the photo from the board, but the damage was done. For several months folks would post inquiries about the picture. I would deny having it available. A third party would pipe up with "That's okay, I saved a copy!" In time, this became a running gag. And that's the rest of the story.

Now, having come clean, I figure that if I'm going to crassly exploit anybody for the sake of a couple hits, it may as well be me. Preferably a younger and faintly scrawny-looking me who can't fight back and who I could probably beat up if she did. Behold:

zomg! There's a war in Israel!

That must mean Jesus is coming back Real Soon Now.

Just like he did in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1970, 1973, 1982...

In other words, you should probably go 'head and keep saving for little Suzie's college fund.

(H/T to SayUncle.)

Memphis PD: "We don't encourage people..."

A young man at a Schnucks supermarket went bezonkoids with two large kitchen knives and began carving up co-workers at a pretty good clip, landing five of them in the trauma ward. When he chased one into the parking lot, it attracted the attention of a Mr. Chris Cope who, despite not being equipped with a badge or a hat or shiny boots or those other things that Gun-Fearing Weenies believe are required to operate a weapon, nevertheless snagged his 9mm pistol from his pickup and proned out the knife-wielding maniac to await the (eventual) arrival of the police.

In light of Mr. Cope's brave and unselfish deed, which almost certainly saved at least one life, one would expect him to be held up as an example worthy of emulation, right? Wrong. The Memphis PD's spokesdrone continued to advocate the SNiVeL technique of defense, saying "[W]e don't encourage people to take that kind of risk. He could have been hurt."

Listen, Zippy, if he hadn't taken "that kind of risk" somebody could have been killed. What the hell are you doing in police work, anyway? Shouldn't you be off arranging flowers someplace?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Oh, ick.

This search just hit from a lonely Nova Scotian.

Ah, the joys of SiteMeter...

Boomsticks: You know you're a gun nut when...

1) Ammunition you keep on hand includes calibers like .22 Remington Jet, .455 Webley Automatic, .405 Winchester, and .577-450 Martini.

2) Someone asks you how many guns you own and you truthfully answer "I don't know."

3) When visiting south Texas and contemplating a daytrip to Mexico, your local guide reminds you to clean any ammunition out of your purse, as possession of just one round there could be a felony. Dumping your purse out reveals the following objects rolling about in the detritus of pens, mascara tubes, and dead batteries at the bottom: a speedloader for your carry revolver, two loose rounds of the same caliber, a sandwich baggie with eight .22 shells, a loose .22 shell, an unidentified antique rimfire cartridge of about .40 caliber that someone must have given you at a gun show once, and a single loose round of 5.7x28 that you have no recollection of ever receiving, especially since you haven't even seen a gun in the caliber yet.

Politics: "Free" stuff still popular.

Apparently thinking that one can still get something for nothing and that free lunches can be made available if everybody will just close their eyes and wish really hard, the good citizens of San Francisco have been granted "free" health care by the city's board of supervisors, regardless of immigration or employment status. Marko at The Munchkin Wrangler has written a great post on this triumph of wild optimism over common sense. Go read.

Virus alert.

Microsoft issued a warning about a PowerPoint virus on Thursday. Apparently, this virus can infect every system in a corporation, bringing productive work to a halt and generating gigabites of cheesy slide shows with goofy bar graphs and trite dissolve transitions.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Boomsticks: We don't trust you.

All the hoohah generated by the Brady Campaign and other victim-disarmament groups over the "Castle Doctrine" or "Stand Your Ground" laws sweeping the US seems, on closer examination, to be designed to appeal to people with serious self-esteem issues. Take this sign: It says, in effect, "People like you might have guns. Better be careful!" They don't trust you and, by implication, seem to assume that you don't trust yourself.

The reality of the matter is that normal folks just don't pop off and shoot each other. For Vishnu's sake, there are more guns in America than we can count; if we were likely to shoot each other over slight provocations, we'd all be dead in a week. Working in gun stores, I've carried a gun at work for thirteen years; almost all of my co-workers over that period carried guns, too. It's no different than any other workplace; there are all your standard-issue personality conflicts, arguments, and even the occasional red-faced shouting match or person quitting in a huff. But you know what? There's been a surprising shortage of dead bodies, because sane people just don't shoot each other over workplace arguments and crazy people are not nearly as common as the six o'-clock news would have you believe.

So, naturally, folks have made some Truth-In-Advertising suggestions to alter the Brady Campaign's signage. It won't happen, but the signs are at least worth a chuckle.

(H/T to Joseph)

Interesting times redux.

It appears that India isn't the only one getting pissed off at Muj leakage from Pakistan.

Baseball: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

15, 11, 10, 15, 14.

Five games.

20 homers.

65 runs.

The last time a Major League team scored double digit run totals in five straight games, it was 1930 and their lineup featured the names "Ruth" and "Gehrig".

The last time a Braves team scored 59 runs in five games, it was 1897 and they were still called the Beaneaters.

The last time a Braves team, even one with players like Matthews, Aaron, Murphy, Justice, McGriff, Gallaraga, or Sheffield in the batting order, hit twenty dingers in five games was... well, never.

After a dismal June in which they went six-and-twenty-one, the Braves have won seven straight and are playing .900 ball over their last ten games. At least it's not a dull season. :)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Like you and me, only richer...

Here at VFTP Command Central, a morning's net surfing has been whiled away by researching markings on Finnish Mosins and scrounging for reloading dies for 6.5x54mm Mannlicher-Schoenauer. Meanwhile, in Arlington, WA, someone driven by the same urge has been studying the proper markings for a Hawker Hurricane Mk.XIIB and looking for fuel injector parts for a Daimler-Benz DB.601. While I'm looking for a larger storage space to accommodate milsurp rifle number 36, someone else is needing to think about another hangar in which to park warbird number 36.

When the time machine bug bites, it can bite hard, and the resultant hemmorhaging is limited only by the size of the bank account. The urge to share the joy of discovery is strong, be it by writing articles on a web page, letting a friend shoot a rifle he'd only read about in history books before, or by opening your collection of flying warbirds to the public. Having heard folks ask "Wow, do you really shoot those old things?", I am totally sympatico with the sentiment expressed in the article:
Allen and his staff at the Flying Heritage Collection are careful not to call it a museum.

"Instead of planes that are just statically displayed for people to see, they're restored to the most authentic artifact that they can be," said Michael Nank, spokesman for Allen and his investment company Vulcan Inc.
I will probably never meet Paul Allen since we just don't run in the same circles, but if I ever did, I know we'd have something to talk about: folks who are into time machines usually do.

From the back forty of SiteMeter: Strange Google Searches...

I get an absolute metric ton of hits off various combinations of "7.62x39mm Ammo Shortage", "top break 32 s&w revolvers", and "Springfield Armory Professional Model", and I expect that, because that's a lot of what I talk about here. I also get quite a few hits on "VF1000F" and "GPz550" and other motorcycles I've mentioned by name, and for the guy sweating over his busted old bike and looking for technical advice, I'm sorry to have wasted your Googling time but you have to agree that the mistake was understandable, no?

It's the weird ones that confuse me (and probably confuse the searcher when they wind up here.) For instance, the guy searching on "george noory freemason" was probably not looking for this. The searcher from was probably looking for something a little more specifically carronade-related than this, especially since he typed his search in quotes. Little Ilse at probably actually wanted to play counterstrike games, rather than read my snarky ramblings. The winner of the Most Disappointed Googler contest, however, has to be this one; I am fairly confident that they were not looking to hear some chick natter on about packing heat.

Monday, July 17, 2006

While everybody's watching the left hand...

With all the world's attention on Israel and Lebanon, India has stepped up its rhetoric against Pakistan, a nation with which it has been in four shooting wars in the last sixty years. Should the tanks roll in Kashmir again, how will it play out? The Pakistanis are friendly with China, a nation that has also been at war with India in living memory. Pakistan is also Muj Central.

Interesting times...

Blog Stuff: It's all about me, me, me.

Apparently, in order to generate maximum linky-love I need to either threaten to kill somebody or call someone a "douchebag".

Now accepting nominations...

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Boomsticks: Some random gun stuff...

1) We now have a broad selection of VZ grips in stock at the shop. I picked up a pair of blasted black canvas micarta Gatorbacks for my Springfield Professional, and my hand is in lurve with them. I've gone from the original checkered cocobolo to Ergogrips to Barnhart Burner grips over the last two years in an attempt to find something that will let me grasp the gun quickly and surely, but which won't shred my clothes. Mission accomplished, finally. Plus, they look darn good.

2) Yikes with the ammo price increases at the wholesaler level! As much as 40% on some brands and loads! If you don't reload, now would be an excellent time to start. My fearless prediction: A box of Federal American Eagle .45ACP 230gr FMJ will be $20 retail by January 1, 2007.

3) I picked up a schweet Finnish VKT M39 Mosin. With the Greek M1903, that makes two milsurps I owe y'all pictures of. (We've still got three Sako M39's at the Armory which, you'll note, has a swoopy new web page.)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Baseball: The view from the porch.

Sitting on the porch last night...

Me: "Have you checked out that Two-Four guy's blog? He's got a great essay on the '91 Series. Damn, that was the best World Series ever. I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember that season like it was yesterday. I remember where I was sitting and what I was wearing when the Dodgers lost and the Braves clinched the pennant that year. I was sipping margueritas on the patio at the Buckhead Taco Mac's, about to go to Oxford Books across the street... God, the whole city was just giddy for weeks."

Gunsmith Bob: "How far back were the Braves at the All-Star break that year?"

M: "I don't know. A long way."

GB: "I think they were twelve and a half games out of first. Do you know why I want them to come from behind and win the division this year?"

M: "Why?"

GB: "Because it would just absolutely crush the hopes and dreams of Mets fans for generations to come. They'd never recover."

M: (Mentally picturing a gum-chomping Bobby Valentine) "How could anybody be a Mets fan?"

GB: (Sighing) "Y'know, Tam, you could ask me 'How could anybody be a...' and just leave it blank, and I could think of seventy or more things I just wouldn't understand. Like 'How could anybody be a Democrat?'"

*Contemplative pause as the sunset turns really pretty for a bit...*

M: "Most Mets fans are probably Democrats."

GB: "Oh, definitely! All of 'em are. And probably gay, too. And bottoms. And they like Ted Kennedy. And I just don't get any of that."

M: "They're probably all from Canada, too."

GB: "Canuckistan!"

M: "...and they probably wish they had an American League team so they could have a designated hitter!"

GB: "Whoah, there! Don't talk blasphemy, now!"

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Politics: Bad moon rising.

So, finally fed up with Hizbollah antics along its northern frontier, Israel has once again taken a poke at Lebanon. Of course, they are still engaged with Palestinian terrorists the Palestinian government in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and New York City. Israel hasn't been engaged on that many fronts since 1973, and in 1973 there weren't US and Coalition boots on the ground just a few hundred miles away.

Now, there have been US and Coalition boots on the ground in Mesopotamia before, but at that time, the civilized world wasn't forcing a showdown with the possibly-nuclear-armed country next door. And the last time the civilized world was worried about Iran, there weren't international troops putting the smackdown on Mujahedeen guerillas in Afghanistan. And the last time foreign troops were fighting Islamic guerillas in Afghanistan, said guerillas weren't blowing up civilians in India. (Who has nukes, and hasn't any love lost for Pakistan, which has always been Muj Central.)

So, what we have here is a rising storm of conflict, brewing along an arc running from the mouths of the Indus to the Nile Delta. Civilization's home turf, as it were, is sporting very few signs of it these days. That may be the soil where writing and agriculture and beer and other good things first sprang from, but that's not all that was invented there, and sometimes it shows.

It looks like we're in for some interesting times.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Boomsticks: One of my favorite funny pictures.

The War on Terror and the War on (Some) Drugs have combined into a perfect storm that, over the past years, has inundated law enforcement agencies across America with a tsunami of toys. From Detroit's shiny new panzerkampfwagen to St. Petersburg's M-16s, cops from sea to M-60-equipped-Zodiac-patrolled sea have hardware that would have brought tears to the eyes of an infantry company commander not two decades ago.

Troublesome thoughts from the Founding Fathers on the topic of standing armies aside, it would be nice to at least be able to take consolation in the fact that these are a well-trained (as well as well-equipped) elite who, as part of a solid and well-organized plan, are forming an impermeable barrier between ourselves and the barbarians beyond the gates.

Alas, there's always plenty of evidence to the contrary.

"I'm the only one professional enough to mount the $400 optic on my weapon backwards."


I feel safer already. Can I have my tax dollars that were wasted on his "training" back? I'd like to use them to go to Thunder Ranch.

(H/T to SayUncle.)

Today's motivational snippet...

Is brought to you by Kit, who completely rawks. :)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Okay, now...

Stop it, you perverts.

That picture isn't here. It doesn't exist. You've never seen it. Furthermore, these are not the 'droids you're looking for.

Notes from a busted civilization.

Rocky Barton was a defective unit. I'm not really sure why he was defective; maybe his momma didn't love him, maybe his daddy was an ass, maybe he didn't get a pony for Christmas when he was a kid, maybe he was just a bad seed. Regardless, he was defective.

He offered proof of his nature, as well as offering society a chance to return him to the manufacturer for warranty work, when he savagely beat his second wife, stabbed her, and slit her throat. Since she lived, society instead decided he was worthy of rehabilitation and sentenced him to fifteen years in the big house. After eight years, since he promised he wouldn't ever do such a thing again, society let him walk. He promptly beat his third wife and was, instead of being given the necktie party he'd earned, sent back to the pokey. For one year.

While he was still in the slammer, a childhood friend named Kimbirli married him in a triumph of optimism over good sense of the kind that keeps PowerBall afloat. Not long after he got out, he was busted for... Can you guess? That's right, beating on Kimbirli. She didn't, however, press charges, and so he was allowed to remain free. Months later, fed up, she moved out, and the situation spun towards its inevitable denouement. Kimbirli came over to his house to pick up some stuff, escorted by her daughter and Rocky's uncle. Mindful of his promise to society that he would never again slit his wife's throat, Rocky instead blew Kimbirli away with two blasts from a shotgun, then turned it on himself.

Because the universe is basically unfair, he survived turning the lower half of his face into pink mist.

Because the universe is very, very unfair, you and I paid for his medical bills, including reconstructive surgery.

Now, finally, we're paying to do what should have been done nigh twenty years back: Put an end to Rocky's oxygen thievery. After fixing his face, of course, instead of leaving him lying on his front lawn to bleed out as he so richly deserved.

In the midst of the midden heap of this sordid tale gleams one gem of black humor. Rocky's uncle, Paul, speaking on the events of that black afternoon, said
"I still can't figure out what happened or why... I thought Rocky was fine."
Let me get this straight: You thought that a man who once beat a woman within an inch of her life, slit her throat, and left her for dead, was fine?

That's okay, Paul. Although you should feel like an idiot for thinking that, you shouldn't feel like a lonely one. Despite ample warning signals, society apparently thought he was just fine, too. Even Kimbirli did.

Right up to the end.

(H/T to Zendo Deb.)

Boomsticks: Gratuitous Gun Pr0n No. 33

Heckler & Koch P7M8 and Boker Limited Edition "1 of 1000" HK 50th Anniversary tactical folder. If you gotta have a popgun, this is the popgun to have. :)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Boomsticks: Time for new Holy Grails.

As most of y'all know, I collect two kinds of firearms: Smith & Wesson revolvers, and old military rifles. For the last couple of years, I've had two Holy Grails, one of each type. I badly wanted a reasonably-priced prewar fixed sight N-frame, and a Greek M1903 Mannlicher-Schoenauer. In the last three weeks I scored on both counts. Pics to follow...

Politics: He could get punched by Gandhi.

With the news that Japan, a nation whose militaristic tendencies were turned into radioactive ash some 61 years ago, is considering the ethics of taking a poke at North Korea in the name of self-defense, one has to ask this of the North Koreans: WTF?

I mean, really; WTF?

Maybe there's some kind of cachet attached to being the last place on the planet that tourists can't visit, and wouldn't want to if they could; maybe there's a consolation in knowing you're the last holdout of Stalinism in a world where all your Fraternal Comrades were seduced from the true path by detente and glasnost and Levis; maybe there's some kind of martyr-complex smugness inherent in being the only Pacific Rim nation to never experience the buzz of wallowing in the bounty of an economic boom. None of this, however, explains the attraction of acting in a fashion that causes even the bitter old commies in Beijing to pretend that they suddenly don't know you; of potentially goading a pre-emptive strike from a nation whose military is only slightly more numerous and aggressive than the Swiss Navy; of playing nuclear chicken with nations that still possess enough throw weight to turn every hamlet between Kiev and Vladivostok big enough to rate a traffic light into a heap of glowing slag.

Of all the tacks you could have taken to get attention, to get help, to draw concessions, you had to pick the only one that was sure-fire guaranteed to draw international condemnation. We have to assume there's a method to your madness, because the alternative is even more depressing, so tell us, please.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Proudly obsolete.

I was dragged, kicking and screaming, into the wireless era when I moved into my current abode. My then-housemate and I decided to go with a cable modem and didn't activate the house's landline. This meant I had to finally swallow my pride and get a cell phone. I went with Cricket, and picked up the cheapest phone they had; an already-antique Audiovox. "But Tam," you say "Cricket is local calls only! You won't be able to get calls when you're out of town on vacation!"


Anyhow, I've been perfectly happy with my little phone. It doesn't have ringtones. It can't take pictures. It doesn't have a color screen that lets me play Prince Of Persia or Tetris. All it does is allow me to place and receive calls. Which is all I want it to do.

After five years, though, its battery was in such a state that I had maybe fifteen minutes of talk time a day. Although I talk on the phone so infrequently that this only caused a problem once a month or so, I finally realized that I was going to have to do something about it. Unfortunately even Cricket's most rudimentary phones these days seemed to be all fruited up with MP3 players and goofy little picture icons representing the person who you are trying to avoid by not answering the phone in the first place. That's the last thing I need: Aunt Hilda's visage staring accusingly out of the phone's screen while I'm trying to pretend I can't hear it ring.

It was with great relief that I found that Batteries 'R' Us stocked the proper power pack for my paleolithic rap rod. Granted, it cost almost as much as Cricket initially charged me for the phone, but I paid for it happily, knowing I'll be able to drag my knuckles for at least another five years for less than eight bucks a year of initial investment.

Ahhh, Luddite bliss. :)

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Notes from a day off.

1) Have I mentioned that the Chop House has darn good steak? I had a pound of rare prime rib yesterday that was so tender it would fall apart if you spoke at it sternly. A pair of visigoths ladies-who-lunch sat at the next table as I was finishing off my draft Newcastle and enjoying my post-meal cigarette; one ordered prime rib, medium-well, and the other ordered a filet cooked well-done (why not just ask for a charcoal briquette, honey? You'll never know the difference.) As I hurriedly gathered up my book and purse to escape the sight of ruined meat, I heard the filet-murderer ask the waitress if she had any steak sauce. For her twenty-three dollar cut of prime beef. I had to wait for my tears to subside before I could drive. Continuing the sad note, somebody had beat me to Leaf & Ale and bought every six-pack of Mash House Hoppy Hour IPA in the place. The selfish meanie.

2) Drove to McKay's and picked up ten pounds of good reading for about two bucks a pound. My boss and Bob the Gunsmith had been heckling me to pick up something by Tom Wolfe. "You need to read more mainstream fiction." Look, if I want to read about failed relationships, career problems, family struggles, and substance abuse, I'll write a friggin' diary. The characters in the books I like to read have problems, too, but they usually solve them with laser beams or tactical nuclear warheads. I read these books because I wish I could solve my problems that way, too. This is called "escapism", and is why most folks seek entertainment in the first place.

3) Got home to discover an almost perfect storm of linky-love had left VFTP with its best ever one-day hit count. Residual effects from being mentioned on the previous day, plus a bit of linky-love from SayUncle and LawDog, plus a link from Two-Four, coupled with a mention on RealClearPolitics all combined to leave me with a happily self-satisfied feeling as I sat down to watch the sun set over the lake. You like me! You really, really like me! ;)

Friday, July 07, 2006

Blog Stuff: My shrieking harpy moment.

Given some of the various customs inflicted on women in the more primitive corners of the world, I'm beginning to come to the conclusion that the wrong folk are being punished for the fact that their menfolk are weak.

Take for example the corners of the dark continent where they lace up a young girl like a running shoe to protect her from rapacious menfolk until she's safely married, at which time her husband can presumably untie things and they can attempt to enjoy what connubial bliss is available after such hideous mutilation. Since it's the weakness of males that she's allegedly being protected against, why don't we leave her alone and take all the single guys in the village and stitch their thingies to their legs? Then, when they get properly hitched, their snookums can take a stitch popper and cut them loose for matrimonial fun 'n' games.

Or look at the Muslim world, where better than half the population is forced to wander about in the desert heat dressed like a circus bigtop lest the sight of an ankle or a collarbone drive a Son of the Prophet into thinking impure thoughts. Since it's the guy seeing something that might cause problems for him, why not let Islamic womenfolk dress however they want, and make all the guys wear blindfolds in public? This would have the added bonus of keeping the men from flying planes into buildings, as well as forcing all the women to learn to drive, so they could shuttle their fellas about on their daily rounds. The guys would, of course, be allowed to take their blindfolds off at home, where they could presumably think all the impure thoughts they want.

As far as the latest outrage to hit the news from Cameroon? It seems to me like the wrong person's body parts are being ground under red-hot rocks.

Triumph of the banal.

Via a slow news day at the Reuters desk in Baghdad, we learn that dues payments have fallen slightly at the Iraqi Philatelic and Coins Society, although the diehard few are still willing to dodge car bombs and Kalashnikov fire to swap postage stamps.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Boomsticks: Economics 101.

Customer: "Hey, I was wanting to trade my Blastomatic Thunderboomer in on that new Euroshooter 2000. Do y'all take trades?"

Me: "Sure. What do you need to get out of your gun?"

C: "I don't know. As much as I can get, I reckon."

M: "Hey, I have price tags on my stuff. Be fair, give me an idea of what you want."

C: "I really don't know. I think it's worth $450."

M: "Indeed it is, and that's probably what I would sell it for. But I can't buy it from you for what it's worth and then try to sell it for more than it's worth. If I tried that, it would be dark in here, and my staff would be very hungry."

C: "Well, what would you give me for it?"

M: "I could probably allow you about $345 on the trade in. This will allow me to price it at $450 and still have a bit of room to haggle, as customers are wont to do on used firearms."

C: "But I paid $575 for it!"

M: "Indeed. That is the going tariff for a new one, which yours manifestly is not. I can't put a used firearm in the showcase for the same price as a new one."

C: "But you said you could sell it for $450!"

M: "Indeed I can, and so can you. Just not to me. If you wish to sell it to a private individual, I would recommend asking $450; it should move reasonably quickly."

C: "But I don't know anybody who wants to buy it..."

M: "You could put an ad in the Thrifty Nickel, or walk it around the floor at the next gun show."

C: "That sounds like a lot of hassle. Plus, I don't want to sell it to a stranger, or have strangers coming over to my house to look at it. I don't know..."

M: "Does that sound like about $105 worth of hassle?"

C: "I don't... What are you getting at?"

Sigh. It's obvious that "Adam Smith" is just a name in the phonebook to a lot of folks these days...

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


If I could just think of something clever to write, this place should see its hundred thousandth hit sometime this evening...

Cool. :)

Blog Stuff: Yesterday I saw...

1) ...a homemade butane-powered cannon shoot a saboted blueberry muffin across my lawn.

2) ...a bazillion rounds of ammunition go downrange out of everything from a .357 Magnum revolver to a tricked-out AR-15. Smallest caliber used: .22LR. Largest caliber used: .405 Winchester.

3) ...a cute rifle being shot by an even cuter kid.

4) ...the sky light up from horizon to horizon (including directly overhead) with the results of thousands of people turning hundreds of thousands of dollars into noise and light.

What a country. :)

(One of the fountains we touched off last night was called "Desert At Night", but for some reason the picture on the label was the silhouette of a Saguaro cactus, rather than the Baghdad skyline. Odd.)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Blog Stuff: The sad highlight of my day...

With no work today for the first time in a long time, it'll be the first chance I've had to wear my fabulous collection of non-dress-code tee shirts in eons.

I'm starting the day in my "MINISTRY: Jesus Built My Hotrod" shirt. From there, we'll progress to either my "Made In Vagina" shirt from Queen of Wands, or maybe my "Farfrompukin" spoof tee from the old Fahrvernugen VW ads (complete with little VW stick man staggering about with two mugs of frothy goodness in his hands.) We'll finish up the evening in style, wearing either a NIN tour tee from January '95 or the tee shirt from the Harley dealership in Hachinohe, Japan that my friend brought back from his vacation.

It's really sad when the mega highlight of a day off is trying to figure out which of your favorite old tee shirts to wear. ;)

Happy Independence Day!

The Armory is closed for the day, and I bunkered in enough beer, frozen burritos, and fireworks last night that I shouldn't have to set foot off the homestead today.

Y'all have a happy and safe Fourth! :)

Monday, July 03, 2006

Blog Stuff: Redefining "gauche".

Other than the one obvious similarity, I have pretty much nothing in common with the pack of shrieking harpies bunch of nice ladies at Tennessee Guerrilla Women.

However, I have been to three state fairs, a circus, and a rodeo, and I have to agree that this might be the single goofiest thing I have seen in all my born days.

I like the way it looks like the partially unveiled statue is wearing a burkha, though. That's friggin' hilarious.

Sometimes history sits quietly in a book...

...and sometimes it pokes you right in the eye.

Maintaining the contents of the Museum is an ongoing chore. Every few days I'll get all motivated and drag one or three of the relics out and give them a thorough going over, checking for rust, disassembling, oiling, and that sort of thing. Friday evening I turned up the iTunes, pulled out the Webley auto and wiped it down, then fetched out the Siamese Mauser, giving it the same thorough treatment. Then I fetched out my Radom.

I got my Radom from a friend; it's a GI bring-back "Type III", which indicates mid-war production. I had recently scored a guide rod assembly for it via eBay, as well as a full spring kit from Wolff, and was pleased to have the old pistol restored to shootable condition. While I had it stripped down, I noticed a marking on the recoil lug under the barrel: a single "S" rune. Now, I don't know from Radoms, but I knew that on Mauser rifles that mark signified SS contract guns that had been assembled by slave labor. A little chilled, I started researching on the internet. It seems that by the time my pistol was made, a lot of Radom parts were made under contract by Steyr, at their facility at the Mauthausen concentration camp.

I'd like to think that whoever made that barrel got out of the war alive. If they didn't, I'd like them to know that the pistol, usually issued to SS units, was reportedly retrieved from a German who "didn't need it anymore."

I reassembled the gun, oiled it, and returned it to its place in the museum.

But I'll never look at it quite the same way again. This is what separates a piece of history from 'just another gun'.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Lazy Sunday morning...

Had to come into the Armory way early today to let the lead cleanup guys in. Turned out to be less work than we thought. Now I'm stuck at the range by myself for a couple of hours 'til we open. Hmm... What to do? What to do?

A little paperwork...

That didn't take too long.

Some straightening up...

Still only eleven o'clock.

I wonder how that MP5K is running since the gunsmiths worked on it?

I guess I'd better go check it out on the range. Where are those mag loaders?

The sacrifices I make for this place.

Sucks to be me. ;)

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Today in history: 21,392.

At 7:30 AM on this morning in 1916, the fire of over fifteen hundred British artillery pieces shifted from the ground they had been pounding for eight days straight. Eleven British divisions clambered out of their trenches and, following orders not to run or become disorganized, started walking forward across No Man's Land. Huddling in their bunkers where they had been pounded with almost two million artillery shells for over a week, the German troops knew exactly what that silence meant. They dragged their machineguns up stairways and ladders to firing embrasures, and for the next hours, a thirteen-mile stretch of French countryside became a scene more grotesque than anything Heironymus Bosch had ever painted.

"We were surprised to see them walking, we had never seen that before. The officers went in front. I noticed one of them walking calmly, carrying a walking stick. When we started to fire, we just had to load and reload. They went down in their hundreds. We didn't have to aim, we just fired into them." -A German machine gunner
In minutes Haig's planned "Big Push" blew apart in a torrent of Maxim bullets. Wire had not been cut by the bombardment. A British mine that had been dug under the German trenches detonated late, killing British troops that had already advanced that far. The methodical pace and four rank attack, deemed necessary by Haig and his staff due to their professional skepticism regarding the soldiering qualities of the new "Kitchener's Army", turned the mud in front of the German positions into an abbatoir. The British 8th Division, attacking near Ovillers, started with 300 officers and 8,500 other ranks. After two hours, it had been reduced to 82 officers and only 3,226 enlisted. The slaughter was similar all up and down the front. The only gains were made in sectors where subordinates had ignored the plan, either by having their units lie belly-down in No Man's Land before the attack, or ordering them to charge at a run rather than stroll at trenches that were supposedly devoid of life due to the bombardment.

When the sun set on that first day of what history remembers as the Battle of The Somme, the British army had suffered almost sixty thousand casualties, 21,392 of which were dead or missing. A French artillery observer, watching the attack, turned and commented to his British liaison, echoing the same words spoken in the Crimea half a century earlier: "C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre."