Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Boomsticks: My cross to bear...

A guy just came in and sold the shop three Finnish Mosins, all M39's: A '44 VKT, a '42 Civil Guard, and the absolutely cherriest M39 I've ever seen, a '42 Sako that must've been arsenal refurbished after the war, because there's no other way it could look this primo.

I'm sitting here waiting for the computer to print tags for three absolutely tasty old rifles, and here I've already done gone and promised this month's gun money to someone else...



Still with the spotty 'net connection at home.

Talk amongst yourselves; I'll go into work early and post from there...

Monday, October 30, 2006

Overheard At Work...

An anonymous coworker has a thing about feral cats on his property. Once or twice, they've come to a bad end. As a cat owner, I have sparred with him verbally about this before (my cats, of course, are indoor kitties and decidedly non-feral.)

Me: "What is it you have against the cats, anyway?"

Him: "Well, for one thing, they kill songbirds..."

M: "Songbirds are ghey. All they ever do is crap on my car and wake me up when I'm trying to sleep in. Good for the cats, if you ask me."

H: "Suppose a feral cat crapped on your car?"

M: "Well, that'd depend. How recently have I had it detailed?"

H: "Look, suppose there was a dog that started running cattle?"

M: "I'd shoot it. But that's different; cows taste good."

H: "Well, Italians cook and eat songbirds."

M: "Right, and if you have a pack of feral Italians running loose on your property, you should load up the ol' shotgun and do what you gotta do."

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Oh, the drama...

Got a new post up over at the other blog about the military Remington Model 11 riot gun. I spent a good hour researching and writing when my 'net connection went on the semi-fritz...

Much hair-pulling, tears, and cussing ensued.

Luckily, I managed to get it successfully saved as a draft, and posted from work when I got here (early, thanks to the time change.)

Enjoy. (Or else. I mean it. If you had any idea what I went through getting that post up... So you'd better like it.)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

"Uncovered meat".

Raving lunatic Sheik Taj el-Din al Hilaly tried to justify rape with the following goofy analogy:
But when it comes to this disaster, who started it? In his literature, writer al-Rafee says, if I came across a rape crime, I would discipline the man and order that the woman be jailed for life. Why would you do this, Rafee? He said because if she had not left the meat uncovered, the cat wouldn’t have snatched it.

Well, well, well.

Funny you should use that analogy there, Sheik. You see, just the other evening, I left my pastrami and swiss on rye uncovered for a moment when I went to the fridge for a beer, and the cat tried to snatch it.

The cat got a combat boot in the ribs for its attempt.

Look, Sheik, I don't care if "The Meat" is walking down the street stark nekkid' in broad daylight: "No" means "Keep your mitts to yourself or I'll shoot you between the running lights."

Are we clear?

H/T to Tim Blair

Friday, October 27, 2006

Blog Stuff: Notes from a day off.

1) A new study published in the JAMA confirms what many have long suspected: Precipitation causes flareups of Recto-Cranial Inversion in Knoxville drivers. (Special note to the idiot in the green Honda Oddysey: Standing there like a duck in thunder in the middle of the intersection for no adequately explainable reason is not a good way to endear yourself to your fellow motorists. That's why we were all honking at you, moron.)

2) All those of you who'd been pissing and moaning about some alleged "Rainfall Deficit" for the year, I hope you're happy. Jerks.

3) The filet at the Chop House is still, dollar-for-dollar, the best slice of beef I've found in West Knox. To the people at the next table over: Sorry about any little 'foodgasm' noises I may have made while eating it, but it really, really, really made my taste buds happy...

Blog Stuff: Ahhhhhh.

Made it to another Friday. A whole glorious, blissful day with nothing to do.

I'll read a bit, write up a post for the other blog, maybe take a nap...

I don't know how you folks who get two whole days off every week can stand it.

Boomsticks: An awkward truth.

For the millionth time somewhere on the internet I have read something about firearms being "left to trained professionals, like the police and military."

They never like it when I respond with the awkward truth: The only people with worse gun skills than soldiers are cops.

I know that my gun nut readers who serve our country in the military or law enforcement are grinning ruefully and nodding as they read that.

I'll say this though, from most recent photographic evidence, trigger-finger discipline has advanced light years in the military in the last decade or two, even if muzzle discipline still seems to be pretty atrocious.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The sacred Middle Class.

Over at CNN.com's front page, the link to Lou Dobbs' column reads "Dobbs: Middle class victims of illegal immigration". That's always the way to get America's attention: Invoke the sacred Middle Class. The reason for this is because in America, we're all middle class. Really. Don't believe me? Go ask any American whether he'd consider himself "Poor" or "Rich" or what, and I guarantee you that unless he's currently sitting in a cardboard box over a sidewalk grate or on the deck of a 125' yacht anchored off Cabo San Lucas, he'll say "Neither, really. I reckon I'm just middle class." This is maybe the only nation on the planet where the guy in the $500,000 house with a new Benz in the driveway and the single mom making $8/hr at the Food Lion and living in a single wide will both sigh and turn up the volume to listen in when the TV announcer says "A new threat to the Middle Class!", thinking he's talking to them.

Look, Lou, illegal immigration may be wreaking all manner of untold havoc here in the Land of the Handout, but the true middle class, those folks schlepping their way through the 40-hour grind in cubicleville to keep up with payments on their '02 Camry, are among the least affected. It isn't them losing out on lucrative careers in the chicken-plucking and fruit-picking fields, after all. And when their teenagers say they can't mow the lawn because the grass clippings might inflame their new nose-piercing, it ain't someone named Sven or Yoshi that they turn to for lo-budget landscaping services. That adjustable rate mortgage dragging them under? It would be twice its already bloated size if the bricks and shingles had been toted about the jobsite by someone making union scale instead of by Jorge and Roberto.

Illegal immigration is distorting lots of things in this country, mostly because we keep deploring them out one side of our mouths and promising them free stuff out the other, but leave the already-suffering middle class to its real miseries, like another season of American Idol, and quit trying to scare them with the Brown Peril, okay?

Hippo birdie two ewe...

My bud Marko has just turned 35.

Now he's old enough to smoke a cigar in public without looking silly and to comment on politics or the economy at parties and not have people wonder "What does that kid think he's talking about?"

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Technical Difficulties...

Spotty internet connection at home.

Kept waking up all night.

Jeez, it's cold.

Light/no blogging today.

Maybe tonight.

Monday, October 23, 2006

An idea that I'd been toying with...

I've been considering running a parallel blog for some time now; one that would serve as place to cross-post all the firearms history effluvia and would make it more easily searchable, as I seem to get a fair amount of search engine traffic on that stuff. If I ever decide to sell out and do anything commercial with a blog, I can always do it on that one, since it'll be offering something of value other than chuckles...

When I noticed that "cosmolineandrust.blogspot.com" was open, well, it became clear that it was preordained.

Check it out.

To help out a couple of Google searchers:

To the guy in Northridge, CA, who wondered about a "1911 without the gay grip safety": Blasphemy will get you nowhere, son. For what it's worth, the grip safety is also the hole that provides access for inserting the trigger & lockwork into the frame. You can pin it so it's immobile if it gets your Gaston Glock Underoos all in a twist, I suppose.

To the reader in Morristown, NJ who queried Google with "has anybody shot smokeless powder in encore": Don't do it, okay? Just don't. Stick with one of the black powder substitutes; if you don't, you will turn your expensive muzzle loader into an expensive pipe bomb. If you just have to shoot smokeless powder out of your Encore, buy a .30-'06 barrel for it and do it that way...

Blog Stuff: Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you...

...happy birthday dear Alphecca! Happy birthday to you!

Congrats to Jeff on his blog's fourth anniversary.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Congressman at the shootin' range...

So, there I was a couple months back, whiling away a lazy summer afternoon at the Armory, when a big ol' crew-cab pickup with big Harold Ford stickers in the rear window backs into a parking spot right out front. "Huh," I thought, "that takes a bit of chutzpah, displaying Democrat campaign paraphernalia around a gun store. I wonder who that is?"

In the door walked Harold Ford Jr. himself, complete with a couple of guys for a sort of mini entourage. Apparently he was here to make his Moderate Democrat bones by being seen shooting at the local range. He was a likeable enough guy, in that "Elect Me To Student Government" sort of way. (When did congresscritters get as young as me, huh? When did that happen?)

He didn't score a lot of points with the range staff, who complained afterwards that he seemed to be distracted and in a hurry during the mandatory safety briefing. (Look folks, I know you've been shooting before, and I know the briefing is basic stuff, but the kid has to give it, so you could make him feel better by at least feigning interest.) After a perfunctory session on the range with a stainless Smith revolver, they came out and settled up. The telling comment came after he left. The old guy who'd been standing at the counter next to him watched Ford and his crew leave and then shook his head. "You know," he mused, "I've been in county politics all my life, been elected to a thing or two, and that's the sorriest thing I've seen in a while. That young man stood next to me for near ten minutes and not once did he ask for my vote."

Come to think about it, he didn't ask me for mine, either...

Mullah threatens forcefulness and organization. Plus more terror.

"God willing, in the coming months the war will become many times more forceful and organized," the statement attributed to Omar said.
Jeez, buddy, you always say that.

I did note that the reward on the guy is up to ten million bucks. That's a very American way to pursue things, vis a vis the last guys that were the visiting team at Kabul Field.

When the KGB interrogator says "Tell us where Omar is, or we'll cut off your fingers!" the prisoner can always bow up and get heroic, since he knows that the Commies are going to kill him anyway. When the CIA guy says "Tell us where Omar is, and we'll give you $10,000,000, and a plane ticket to America," admit it: You'd fink on your own Mom for that.

Well, maybe not ten million. Twelve million, though, and I'll not only tell you where she's hiding, I'll lead you there myself.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Dear gawd, it's like a game of "telephone".

Ready for this morning's blurb from CNN? Here you go:
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Saturday that a high-ranking Chinese envoy, who met earlier with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, did not say that Pyongyang would refrain from conducting further nuclear tests.

"I don't know whether Kim Jong Il said any such thing referring to whether he regretted the test or not," Rice told reporters, referring to an earlier report from South Korea's Yonhap news agency.
Can you parse that? She says that what the Chicoms told her that the North Koreans told them is different than what the ROK news guy says the Chicoms told him that the North Koreans told them.

Clear as mud? Thought so.

Boomsticks: It's about time...

I've finally decided to suck it up and start acquiring the For Collectors Only series of books on old military rifles, which is something I'd been putting off. The Big Brown Truck Of Happiness pulled up yesterday afternoon and disgorged its contents: copies of The Mosin-Nagant Rifle, Swiss Magazine Loading Rifles 1869 to 1958, and Mauser Military Rifle Markings.

With a Vetterli, a Schmidt, and three Mosins (Russian, Hungarian, and Finnish) to interrogate, I should have enough detective work to keep me going for a while.

Oh, and a bleg: Anybody know what the going tariff on an Imperial M1891 Mosin (preferrably w/no import marks) is these days? Anybody know where there's one for sale?

(EDIT: Cool! I finally got a date on my M96/11 Schmidt! It came out of Waffenfabrik, Bern in 1900. :) )

Friday, October 20, 2006

Ahmadinejad to world: "Kick me."

Suddenly unsure that he had successfully managed to piss off everybody (or at least everybody in the parts of the world where indoor plumbing, electricity, and nuclear weapons are commonplace), the Punchline-In-Chief of the Iranian government issued a statement to remind the world that, well, he's almost as ronery as Kim Il:
"You should believe that this regime (Israel) cannot last and has no more benefit to you. What benefit have you got in supporting this regime, except the hatred of the nations?" he said in nationally broadcast speech Friday.

"We have advised the Europeans that the Americans are far away, but you are the neighbors of the nations in this region," he said.

"We inform you that the nations are like an ocean that is welling up, and if a storm begins, the dimensions will not stay limited to Palestine, and you may get hurt."
Hey, can't have the Euros distancing themselves from Uncle Sam and Israel; better shove them back in the boat. If you're determined to get your ass stomped, you might as well goad everybody into helping.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: It's fun to mock the current passive stance of the European nations, but history has shown that they are never more than a demagogue away from the concentration kaserne. The Islamic minority tweaks the tiger's tail at their peril...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

"We're the only ones legally immune enough..."

More on the Diotaiuto case at SayUncle.

Politics: Quote of the Day.

I'll have the last laugh, however, even though it will be kind of like a Mauthausen inmate getting a chuckle out of the SS guard stubbing his toe on the other side of the barbed wire. I'll get much amusement out of the sudden dim light coming on in the surprised faces of the Conservatives when they realize that all the nifty tools afforded to the government (USA-PATRIOT, NSA wiretapping, and so on) will be left in the toolshed when the next Democrat moves into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

If you think the Constitution has been gang-raped since 9/11, just wait until the other guys are done with it. -Marko Kloos

My more traditionally conservative friends always seem so placid whenever any of the current laws put in place seem sketchy on the Constitutionality front. "It's all for hunting the terrorists," they tell me, over and over again. Are our memories that short? Do they forget that they screamed bloody murder and fought tooth and nail against them when so very many of these exact same things were proposed by the previous administration back in 1994; back when "terrorists" were white guys who owned guns and listened to Rush Limbaugh?

As Marko says, these shiny new tools will still be in the shed when the people are back in power who think that members of GOA and JPFO are terrorists.

Boomsticks: Been there, done that, got the baggy jeans.

Jacqueline Passey is bemoaning the seeming impossibility of dressing flatteringly, and going armed. Been there.

She probably doesn't want my advice. At least, I'm pretty sure that "Give up" isn't what she's looking to hear. There are advantages to being old enough to be taking 1000mg a day of Fukitol as a dietary supplement.

(EDIT: I thought I had that picture somewhere on the hard drive from an old HighRoad thread... Wow. Those jeans were pretty baggy even then, and that was probably three or four years ago, prior to the CCA diet. They'd look like a circus tent on me now. I no longer own either the pistol or the holster, the crappy belt from The Gap has been replaced with a proper one from Milt Sparks, and the jeans I wear are a good two sizes smaller, but the concept's the same: Keeping the pistol behind the point of my hip allows it to lie flat against the curve of my back without crossing my lumbar spine. So there I am: Hopelessly unfashionable, but heavily armed.)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Blog Stuff: Arghhhh.

The downstairs neighbors acquired a new dog.

It is suffering acute separation anxiety while they are off at work.

It started this morning by waking me at 0700 hours with its whining & howling.

It has not Shut. Up. since then.

I can at least take a little bit of schaedenfreude from the thumping and banging noises suddenly emanating from downstairs.

It sounds like something big & expensive is getting tore up.

Maybe I was too obscure...

...in this post.

Here, let me try and get your attention again: The IRS is looking into ways to tax gains in a video game.


Do I think they'll come up with a way to implement it? No.

Do I think it's some final threat to the Republic, or a harbinger of some Neal Stephenson-esque societal change? No.

What annoys me is the fact that some idiot thinks it's an idea even worth looking into. What really annoys me is that my very non-virtual tax dollars are being wasted used to pay the (no doubt six-figure) salary of the pointy-headed goober who hatched this cretinous plan in the first place. Sweet flaming Odin on a unicycle, people! Is there anybody sane left inside the Beltway?

The thing that really really annoys me is the precedent set for local governments who, if anything, are even less bound by the constraints of the practical than the student-government dweebs who've grown up to infest DC. Can you imagine the dollar signs dancing in the eyes of the Knox County commission when they realize I built a hotel on Boardwalk five years ago? Think of the back property taxes I must owe...

Beer blogging postscript...

Stopped by McScrooge's on the way home from work tonight. Stocked up. Chatted with the guy on duty; turns out he's looking for a CCW class. It felt like this classic headline from The Onion...

I grabbed a couple more Ruinations, a four-pack of Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial IPA, and a six-pack of Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA. Tried one each of the latter two brews before bed. The 60 Minute was good stuff; a classic, hoppy IPA. The 90 Minute tasted as though they'd set out to make an over-the-top-hopped IPA, then repented at the last minute and tried to balance things back out with the barley. The end result is an initial bitter hops assault, but a correspondingly sweetish malty finish. I think I prefer the ostensibly milder 60 Minute.

Actually, what I prefer is the big ol' 22-oz bottles of Ruination lurking in the fridge; I can hardly wait 'til tomorrow night, when I'll give myself a hump-day reward by popping one open after work...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Blog Stuff: T'-hee!


Boomsticks: The Dr. and the Autocannon...

Dr. Strangegun got his ParaOrdnance P-16 back from the gunsmiths the other day after its caliber augmentation operation. It went under the knife a sixteen-shot .40 and came out a sixteen-shot 10mm Auto. Of course, the zippier cartridge made it imperative to correct the factory's sloppy work on the locking lugs, since having only a few thousandths of engagement leaves it as more of a "delayed blowback", which is something you definitely don't want in a 10mm Auto. So, long story short, it's back in the hands of Shannon, hopefully just to get the lug engagement recut (worst case, though probable, would be a new bbl.)

(Incidentally, for those that wonder why I don't normally stock in a broad variety of ParaOrd, here's another reason. The Doc bought it expecting to spend some cash on it as a project gun, and was also savvy enough to recognize the telltale signs of "primer wipe" on the spent cases. A novice shooter might have just gone on and rounded the lugs off with a few hundred rounds, and become a dissatisfied customer when his gun suddenly went Tango Uniform with a ruined barrel and cracked frame.)

More beer blogging...

Okay, first for my Foreignese readers, we'll get the dusty old joke out of the way:

Q: "Why is American beer like making love in a canoe?"

A: "Because it's f___ing close to water."

Har-de-har-har. It must suck to realize that the IPAs coming out of Cali totally pwn anything brewed on the Auld Sod... ;)

Anyhow, to continue the discussion going on over at PDB's place, on to my alleged beer snobbery, and hopefully on the way incidentally dispelling some beer myths:

1) I hate American beers.

Actually, every beer I really like is an American beer. The hoppy IPA may have been born in England, but it got its Green Card over a decade ago, and hasn't lived there since.

2) I think Budweiser sucks.

I think Budweiser, Coors, Michelob, and various other megabrews that have cheapened up by diluting their mash with filler grains like rice taste bland. But...

3) I worship microbrewed beers.

Sierra Nevada and Flying Dog are hardly microbreweries these days, and I think that Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Snake Dog IPA are eminently drinkable brews. Conversely, I've had plenty of supposedly fantastic microbrewed beers that were just, well... lame. For example, I know my Texian friends will recoil at the sound of this, but after my first taste of Shiner Bock, my immediate reaction was "What was all the fuss about? This tastes bland..."

4) I like dark, chewy beers you can't see through.

While I'm not averse to a good Stout on a cold winter night, I vastly, vastly, prefer Pale Ales, India Pale Ales, and their ilk. These are not particularly dark; they tend to be of a blonde-to-golden color. Snake Dog is much more transparent than, say, Killian's. I like hoppy beers. Pilseners, Lagers, Bocks, and all manner of other beers tend to leave me indifferent at best. For me, it's about the flavor, not the pedigree: I don't care if a beer was brewed in the depths of the Schwarzwald by blind monks using an original Sumerian recipe and costs $1,000,000/oz., if it doesn't rate at least in the high 40s on the IBU scale and remain fairly devoid of too much malty sweetness, I'm not interested. (The Ruination I so enjoyed the other night scores north of 100. If you don't squirt lemon into your espresso and chase it with alum, it might seem a bit bitter to you.)

What it really boils down to is this: Having grown accustomed to extremely hoppy beers is like having gotten used to habanero squeezins on your TexMex; it can leave your taste buds a little scorched. Once that happens, it can be hard to enjoy plenty of authentic Mexican food because it's just not as spicy as you've come to expect. The same has happened with me and beer: There are plenty of good beers out there that I can really no longer enjoy because I've become so accustomed to the taste of hops, but as long as there are companies making big, hoppy IPAs, I'll just have to keep muddling through as best I can. :)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast...

While my breast is no more savage than usual, my car CD player has been filled with Linkin Park, Saliva, Faith No More, and Front 242 for weeks on end now. Good music to drive to, but when coming home after a long and stressful day it's hard to really decompress with Every Six Seconds or Angel Dust blaring from the speakers.

Last week I decided to take care of that, and a bit of late night shopping on Amazon netted me a couple of blasts from the past: Heaven Or Las Vegas by the Cocteau Twins and Pale Sun, Crescent Moon by the Cowboy Junkies. Both these albums are amazingly good listening with the top down and a full moon in a clear sky, like it was last week before this gawdawful cold front moved through. My blood pressure has probably dropped thirty points in the last five days.

It's uncanny how you can affect the overall tenor of your life just by fiddling with the soundtrack...

IRS agent slain by Immolation.

Co-workers are in shock at the tragic Immolation death of IRS Agent Fred Jablonski. Jablonski, a six-year veteran of the agency, had been sent to audit the treasure chambers of Timmy Smith, a 16-year old Warlock and paper boy who resided in both The Undercity, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Smith is currently the leading suspect in the slaying, but couldn't be reached for comment because he was in school. The timing of the ambush was suspicious, coming only minutes after the IRS branch office in the Undercity was overrun by hordes of protesting undead and demons. "If they come audit me, " exclaimed one protester, "they'll be lucky if all I do is set 'em on fire!"

Morale among agents in WoW seems to be at an all time low. "I could have been investigating hookers in Second Life, but nooo! I'm stuck here watching my buddies get incinerated by Clearasil-using wizards. Tell me this isn't a punishment posting. I dare you." muttered one agent, on condition of anonymity.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

I'm ruined...

According to the guys at Leaf & Ale, my supply of Mash House Hoppy Hour IPA was cut off for good. This was a horrible thing, because after the bitter hoppy character of my new favorite beer, going back to Sierra or Bridgeport tasted like drinking Michelob Light (or tapwater. Same thing, really.) The closest approximations I could find readily were Cottonwood's Endo IPA and Snake Dog IPA.

Last night after work, Bob & I stopped by McScrooge's instead of Leaf & Ale. We had to do this because Tennessee's bizarro alcohol laws keep beer above a certain alcohol content, I think something like 6 or 7% ABV, from being sold outside of liquor stores (and, incidentally, liquor stores in TN can't sell anything but liquor; no cokes, no mixers, no chips, no smokes. Weird.) We were on a mission. Bob was still looking for some Tucher beer or another, and had given up trying to find it in grocery stores or even specialty beer joints like Leaf & Ale. Maybe its alcohol content was high enough to keep it confined to the booze-a-rama?

Anyway, hallelujah, but did they have a pretty good beer selection. Bob tried the Delirium Tremens Belgian Ale, and pronounced it good. I finally picked up some of Stone Brewing Company's Ruination IPA, and "they" were right: hop-head nirvana. I'm ruined. They also have plenty of Dogfish Head's products for sale there, so I forsee it being a while until I've run out of new beers to try.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Politics: Maybe it's just me...

...but I have a hard time envisioning the following conversation:


"Yeah, dad?"

"I've found you a fantastic interning gig. Instead of that summer job at the office we'd talked about, I've instead arranged you a position in a crime-ridden East Coast city, working as a gopher for an extremely incompetent company that can't balance its books. You'll spend your time surrounded by 435 middle-aged men who are power-hungry, egotistical, and totally lacking in scruples of any kind. You'll love it."

At least, I assume that's how the whole "Congressional Page" thing gets, er... is "pimped" the right word to use in this context?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Heh. Been there...

During the last round of photography at Oleg's studio, something or another was unsatisfactory, and caused the lensmeister to mutter under his breath.

"That's okay," I said, breezily, "we'll fix it in post."

He was laughing too hard to push a shutter release for the next minute or two.

It ain't the years, it's the mileage...

The season changed with a resounding *thud* here in East Tennessee. Less than 48 hours ago it was a sunny, cloudless day in the balmy high 70s and now I'm huddled on the porch with Patagonia capilene on under my jeans and a North Face fleece vest under my jacket(s). The citronella candle that was being used to keep skeeters away just the other night is now burning so I have something to thaw my hand over to keep it limber enough to turn pages in Pournelle's Falkenberg's Legion, which I am re-reading for the umpteenth time.

I let enough life slip by that I never had a chance to shake hands with Mr. Heinlein. Hopefully I'll not make that mistake with Mr. Pournelle; I'd love to thank him personally for hours of enjoyable reading.

Anyhow, it's only 40 degrees outside by the thermometer, and as I wander upstairs for another Sierra (I'd have a Snake Dog, but Kroger closed tonight at 10PM; I guess when they say "Open 24 Hours", they don't mean "...in a row,") my right shin, held together with a steel rod, screws, and (for all I know) duct tape, twinges painfully in the cold. As I reach for the doorknob, my right thumb, broken once in a sportbike wreck and battered by decades of recoil, stiffens and then lets go with an audible *pop!* My left ankle, buttressed by screws of its own, grinds in sympathy. If I'd known I was going to live this long...

Now I know why folks complain about the changing of the seasons, and why our primitive ancestors would give a person's age, not in years, but as "She's survived X winters." Anybody can survive a summer.

Speaking of motorcycles, I wonder if I'll be able to get the CB1 up and running this week. I'll bet the fall colors will be lovely next weekend in the mountains, and the giddy switchbacks of Appalachian mountain highways are calling...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Please stand by...

My morning blogging was interrupted by Blogger puking its little digital guts up this morning right about 0900EDT, right at my peak blogging hour...

Stay tuned this evening for assorted bloggery on:

1) Meeting a digital friend in 3D analog.

2) Music that soothes the savage breast.

3) Belligerent Browning fowling pieces.

...and much, much, more. :)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Now they're making threats...

North Korea has issued stern warnings that further pressure from Uncle Sam would be viewed by them as an act of war. The statement from the NK Foreign Ministry stated that
"If the U.S. keeps pestering us and increases pressure, we will regard it as a declaration of war and will take a series of physical corresponding measures,"
Given the lack of force projection capabilities possessed by the People's Democratic Republic, it's hard to imagine what these physical measure might be. Holding their breath until they turn blue? Rolling on the floor and pounding on the carpet?

Their realistic options for striking directly at the US (as opposed to launching a general war on the penninsula) are limited, and none posit good outcomes for Kim Jong Il & Co.:

1) Smuggle a nuke into the US, perhaps into a port via container ship. In this scenario, they set off a fifteen kiloton warhead in the harbor of, say, Seattle or LA. In return, they get a fifteen megaton airburst over Pyongyang. It's hard to see what they gain there.

2) A strike on US facilities in Japan or South Korea. This brings additional nations into the war, and creates a remilitarized Japan, something no Asian nation wants to see.

3) Well, numbers one and two are really their only alternatives...

Also, it seems that the Norks are busy finding out the hard way that, if it comes to choosing which is the more important trading partner, Beijing is going to pick Bentonville, Arkansas over Pyongyang any day of the week.

Blog Stuff: Additions to the blogroll...

All of me here at VFTP Command Central would like to welcome two new additions to the blogroll. First up would be my friend Matt G at his online digs, Better And Better. I've been knowing Matt for better than half a decade through various online bulletin boards, and have even been fortunate enough to have gone deer hunting with him. (You'll note I said hunting and not shooting, though it weren't for lack of "want to".) He's a thoughtful and intelligent guy; I think you'll enjoy his stuff.

Also freshly added is the famous Bruce of mAss Backwards. I've only recently taken to reading him on anything like a regular basis, but the amazing tenacity of this guy fighting the good fight trapped behind the lines in Kennedy Country deserves at least a tip of the hat, if not an airdrop of supplies.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Boomsticks: Gratuitous Gun Pr0n No. 37

Springfield Armory V10 Ultra Compact and Microtech Lightfoot LCC/DA.

V10 with Microtech Dragonfly.

The pistol sports a Wilson grip safety, Novak sights, a long STI trigger, and Navidrex contoured ebony grips. All custom work done by Shannon Jennings.

Politics: "Thanks, but we'd rather freeze in the dark."

Several small Alaskan fishing villages have let Venezuela's tinhorn dictator know that, while they might feel that the current US president may be unlikely to wind up on Mount Rushmore, it's really none of Chavez's business, and that they haven't really appreciated his recent anti-Uncle Sam theatrics. In response to the Che Guevara-wannabe's grandstanding offer to help them with charity heating oil, they've told him to stick his oil where the sun doesn't shine, and apply a match.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Well, it's official: Dr. Evil has the bomb...

Well, a bomb, at least.

Actually, he may not even have that, since he just set it off, but he could make more if he wanted. And don't you forget it.

China described the test as "brazen", which might qualify as the understatement of the year. Unwilling to be outdone in Strategic Intercontinental Understatements, the US said that an NK nuke test would be a "provocative act". Off the record, a US DoD source said "We've been telling you and telling you, so don't even pretend to act surprised."

Publically, the South Korean president wanted the world to know that the ROK would "react sternly and calmly". Privately, I doubt he was all that calm.

More as the story develops...

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Taxonomy of Modern Dangers: Deception and Adaptation.

One day Bob the Gunsmith was getting ready to hike across the vacant lot to the local truck stop for comestibles and combustibles.

Ever concerned about preparedness in the face of Modern Dangers, I asked him "What will you do if you're walking across the field there, and you're suddenly surrounded by a gang of migratory hippies?"

Without missing a beat in the face of such a non-sequiturish inquiry, he replied "I'd tell them I have beads to trade for stuff, and befriend them."

"But what if, while you were talking to the hippies, a troop of ninjas showed up and, seeing you consorting with their mortal foes, took you for one of them when they attacked?"

"I'd kill the hippies and explain to the ninjas that it was all a clever ruse to gain the hippies' trust."

Thinking on your feet: How to survive Modern Dangers.

Today in history:

135 years ago
When we were all in bed
Old Mrs. Leary
Lit a lantern in the shed
When the cow kicked it over
She winked her eye and said
"There'll be a hot time in the old town tonight."

Bachelorette chow. Now with flavor!

Living the single lifestyle as long as I have, I've never been much into cooking. Long hours and limited free time to read and whatnot mean that I'm fairly happy with my current limited kitchen setup in my little lakefront cottage, which consists of a refrigerator/freezer, toaster oven, and microwave. (Big plans are afoot to add a single burner eye, greatly broadening my culinary horizons.)

Restaurants have satisfied my needs for a properly balanced diet, allowing me to supplement my microwaved fare with products from the other major food groups, including the steak group, the reuben group, the BBQ rib group, and the philly-hold-the-peppers-and-mushrooms group.

I especially love reubens, so y'all please don't laugh at this: I was at the store picking up ingredients for my two favorite homemade sandwiches (roast beef, swiss, & horseradish on rye, and prosciutto, provolone, & honey mustard on ditto,) when I noticed (duh!) that you can buy sauerkraut! That's right: big ol' glass jars of imported kraut! And there was rye bread already in my shopping cart! And dressings were right down the same aisle! And the deli has corned beef!

I don't have to wait for the corner delicatessen to open to get a reuben, I could make one right at home! Oh... my... gawd! (Other shoppers were somewhat distracted by my sudden squeal of delight.)

Makes me sound a little dense, doesn't it?

Anyhow, they turned out delicious and I am ever so proud of myself. Yum.

More Pakistani blues...

I've mentioned India's escalating feud with Pakistan, and the likelihood of it breaking out into a shooting war, before; I've also mentioned that the fact that NATO has troops in Afghanistan on Pakistan's northern border changes the dynamic considerably from earlier Indo-Pakistani flareups.

Apparently, NATO unit commanders in-theater agree.

Musharraf has a tiger by the tail, only nominally in charge of a military and national intelligence service riddled with Taliban and Al Qaeda sympathizers, at the helm of a nation ready to topple to a fundamentalist Islamist revolution at any time.

Will NATO play hardball? Will India's grievances trigger another shooting war? Will Iran and longtime ally-of-convenience China stand by if that happens?

Tune in next episode and find out.

(H/T to Never Yet Melted.)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

From the Vault: The Last Horse Pistol.

While it's common to imagine that cavalry went the way of the Eohippus some time in the muddy Spring of 1915, it just isn't true. Most all of the major military powers retained cavalry formations into the WWII years. Russia and Japan both made extensive use of mounted troops, and the last United States Army cavalry charge was made in January 1942 in the Phillipines by three platoons of the 26th Cavalry.

Since the days of the Sixteenth Century caracole, the pistol has been the traditional sidearm of the mounted soldier, and pistols designed as such are frequently easy to tell from their "badge-of-rank" kin. As far back as the days of the percussion revolver, the Colt Navy had a .36" bore, while the Colt Army, a cavalryman's weapon and expected to be able to kill a horse, was a .44.

ABOVE: ViS wz.35 Radom, photo by Oleg Volk

Poland's cavalry had long been emulated in Europe, and as the newly-reconstituted nation built up an army after WWI, they searched for a domestically produced sidearm to equip their cavalry troopers. In 1935 a design by Wilniewczyc and Skrzypinski was settled on and, dubbed the ViS wz.35, was adopted by the Army that year. It was made at the Radom plant with the assistance of Fabrique National engineers working under contract, and offered an interesting blend of familiar Colt/Browning features with some new touches.

LEFT: Radom disassembled, showing its Browning heritage.
Photo by Oleg Volk

The trigger was a sliding affair, similar to that used on many Browning designs, and the grip safety would be familiar to any user of Colt pistols. The gun was a short-recoil-operated, tilting barrel 9mm, with a single column magazine. It had a butt slotted to accept a shoulder stock, and was provided with a decocker so that the trooper could more safely return it to his holster with one hand than if he was trying to control the fall of the hammer with his thumb while astride a possibly skittish mount.

RIGHT: "S"-rune on barrel lug, indicating contract manufacture for Waffen SS, most likely by inmates at Mauthausen.
Photo by Oleg Volk.

After Poland was overrun by the German and Soviet invasion of 1939, the Radom plant fell in the German -occupied half of the country and the Poles were soon forced to churn out arms for their conquerors. The wz.35 was a common issue weapon to the Waffen SS, and as that force grew, the pistol was simplified in manufacture so as to keep up with demand. Polished bluing was replaced by a brushed finish that got rougher as the war went on; the slot for the shoulder stock disappeared; finally the frame-mounted takedown catch was deleted. Late-war guns produced by Steyr using slave labor are wretched indeed, with extremely coarse finishes and crude wooden slabs for grips.

In 1945 the Radom plant was destroyed by the invading Russians; it was a sad ending for the last horse pistol.

Tennessee doctor wins Ig Nobel prize...

...for nineteen year-old paper on "Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage".

He claims that, being a serious heavy hitter in the cardiac research field now, this sudden attention being paid to a radical treatment he tried some two decades ago is a little embarassing.

Geez, stick your finger up someone's poop chute, write a paper about the experience, and folks just never let you forget about it...

Friday, October 06, 2006

Blog Stuff: Cool!

Apparently if you sit down at your PC in Uzunite, Bulgaria, go to Google.bg, and type in "blind man with a gun", you're directed here.

I don't know if it's what you were looking for, friend, but I hope it was at least amusing. :)

Blog Stuff: Adorable kid pics.

Les Jones has pics up of Katie's second birthday shindig.

This one is especially cute. :)

(If you tell anyone I've been cooing all maternally over cute kid pictures, I'll break your kneecaps.)

It's the end of the world as we know it...

...and I feel fine.

Depending on where you stand politically, I'm either an unreconstructed paleoconservative or a bloody-minded anarchist, both of which supposedly subscribe to the Doomsday Times, but I just can't buy into this malaise.

Here's the human race at the pinnacle of its achievement, mechanisms in place to deliver unprecedented prosperity to any who want it, ready to burst from the egg of its home planet, and still there are those who would feel uncomfortable without their homey little Flagellant nirvana of doom and gloom. Piss on them. Let them go have their snit in a corner. If they want to live in some medieval torture chamber of a world, I have no right to tell them they shouldn't, but they need to go do it privately in a closet someplace, okay? We're busy with the future over here.

Politics: Apparently that yankee busybody...

...thinks that anybody outside the Five Boroughs gives a flying fig about what he has to say.

Hey! Mikey Bloomberg! I know you'll find this hard to believe, but even down here in hayseed Knoxville we have our very own politicians to pester us. We didn't vote for you; you aren't our mayor, so shut up and go pester some Manhattanites.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Quote of the Day:

Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it -Niels Bohr

Somewhere on the back burner of my laptop's hard drive is a science fiction story I was working on where interstellar radios based on the EPR paradox were a major plot device. Now I want to go drag it out and type some more...

Blog Stuff: Today's Googlery...

From Lambeth, London: "Book are window on the past"

They can be, although those that are a window on the future tend to be more entertaining, on the whole.

From Mesa, Arizona: "can i keep a loaded gun in my car"

In Arizona? Probably. (...and just because you're home alone at quarter to one in the morning doesn't mean the shift key is optional, Sparky. Proper capitalization and punctuation make the Grammar Demons happy, and keep them from eating your spleen.)

From El Paso, Texas: "most expensive m1911 handgun"

The one with a botched trigger job that suffers a mechanical failure and puts a slug through the radiator of your neighbor's SL55 AMG.

Blog Stuff: 42%

According to the "Calculate Risk" tab at the World War Z site, that's my chance of surviving Zombie Apocalypse.

Obviously I need more ammo. Thank Wotan we got more case lots of Wolf and S&B in at work...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Dear Mr. Ahmadinejad: Thanks, but no thanks.

Dear Sir,

I appreciate your cordial invitation to spend my vacation in sunny Iran, touring your nuclear facilities to see for myself that they are being used for peaceful purposes, but I am afraid I must decline your generous offer on three counts.

First, I understand your fingerprinting requirement is a sort of tit-for-tat for our government's insistence on fingerprinting your citizens when they visit our country. I recognize why you're doing it, but it's still a little creepy. I don't like it from my own government, much less from a government that has a Bureau of Public Beheadings. Also, in fairness, how many Americans have wandered into your public spaces wearing Semtex skivvies and blown themselves to Pat Robertson in the belief that it will make them a martyr and earn them 72 fixed rate mortgages and a Porsche Boxster in some secular Western afterlife?

Secondly, while I consider myself fairly bright, I'm not likely to be headhunted by Raytheon to design the next generation of nukyular warheads, if you know what I mean. Those could be fuel rods for a civilian reactor, warhead parts, or bits of a moon rocket you're showing me, and I wouldn't be able to tell the difference, so my eyewitness testimony is unlikely to do you any good in the court of public opinion.

Lastly, and please don't take this the wrong way, but I doubt my insurance underwriters would take anything but a dim view of me lollygagging around ground zero your peaceful nuclear research facilities. It'd kinda give me the creeping willies, too, because I'd feel like I had a JDAM targeted at my noggin. Also, while Persian hospitality is legendary, you have to admit that your countrymen have shown a willingness to take mine hostage before and, frankly, I don't look all that hot in a blindfold.

So, I appreciate your offer, but it looks like I'll be skipping the tour of Natanz, and going to Dollywood as originally planned, instead.


Tamara K.

From the department of Obvious Statements:

Lou Dobbs would like you to know that some people are rich, while others... well... aren't.

Thanks, Lou. I'dve had a hard time figuring that one out for myself.

As an aside, when somebody says "The gap between the rich and poor is widening!" it just grinds me to a halt. I think it's pretty frickin' obvious that if Jane Doe has $100 and Joe Blow has $0, the gap between them is going to widen unless Jane has a lousy night at Texas Hold 'Em. It's pretty easy for Jane to get more money, but it's fairly hard for Joe to get less.

Ah, well. Such is life in the land where generations have been schooled that life should guarantee equality of outcome, not equality before the law.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

I don't know what to think...

Part of me is ready to don a Reynold's Wrap yarmulke. I mean, once is a fluke, twice is coincidence, and three times means enemy action, right? I know it's pure paranoia to think it, but when you read
In the nearby town of Bart, Roberts dropped his own children off at their bus stop.

He said farewell to his wife. "He told her he loved her and that was it," said State Police Commissioner Jeffrey Miller.


At home, Roberts had left "rambling" suicide notes, Miller said. Roberts' wife found one and tried to call him. He returned her call on his cell phone and said he wouldn't be coming home.

Miller said Roberts told his wife that "he was acting out to achieve revenge for something that happened 20 years ago."
you instinctively wonder if he signed off the call by saying "I have miles to go and promises to keep" in a dull monotone.

Of course, such conspiracies are nonsense. The fringe elements that propagate those theories seem to forget that they are accusing the same government that can't get a letter across town in a week (or even keep a presidential blowjob a secret) of orchestrating a machiavellian plot worthy of the next Dan Brown novel. The truth is more depressing yet:

Some people are just broken.

For some twisted reason, a reason we will likely never know, a grown male decided that the solution to his life's problems lay in killing a classroom full of young girls before turning his gun on himself. Just all out of the blue and with no warning whatsoever. How do you stop that?

You can't.

How can you predict, prepare?

This being a "gun blog", I know what you're about to say, and it was my gut reflex, too, but it's wrong. This was Amish country. Even if it was legal for teachers in Pennsylvania to get licensed to carry a firearm, there probably wouldn't have been one there; the Amish aren't notably violent people. For the anti-gun reader ready to pipe up in comments, pipe down. This was a grown man in a classroom of children. Young women. Young women belonging to a placid and non-violent faith. He could have walked into that room with a Louisville Slugger instead of a pistol and had his way just the same. He gave no warning. There was nothing to stop him.

So the end result is that this is something about as predictable and avoidable, terrifying and saddening as a tornado.

And, cold comfort that it is, thankfully a lot rarer.

Blog Stuff: Baby pictures, or: The Intarw3b never forgets.

I have somehow acquired something of a reputation as "Conan the Grammarian" on various internet gun boards, hacking and slashing (or at least "carping and whining") my way through the sometimes excruciatingly horrid grammar and spelling that infests these tubes of internets. A use of the search engine over at TFL the other day, however, turned up something that made me a little queasy. Apparently my writing wasn't always very superb, either; at least it seems to have improved dramatically in the last six years...

Bear in mind that the Llama, while extremely 1911like, is not really a 1911 'clone'. If it's parts commonality your looking for the Chuck Daly is the winner there. OTOH, a lot of fairly slick little 1911 raceguns I've seen were built on the lowly Norinco platform. Dirt cheap, 100% parts interchangeability, and if you're going to '86' everything but the frame & slide (and probably machine those) who cares what name started out on it: it'll be an "FVK 1911" when you're done. The best shooting 1911 semi-racegun I ever owned didn't have two peices on it from the same company: Essex frame, Remington Rand slide, & etc. but it was well-massaged and you could wow the locals by chambering & ejecting a mag full of empty cases as fast as you could work the slide- outstanding feed reliability for Brownings venerable warhorse designed for a steady diet of round-nosed hardball.

Ignoring the cheesy use of a line from J. O'Barr's The Crow in the sigline, as well as the bumper sticker-like loyalty to a particular caliber also expressed therein, (and also ignoring things I've learned about firearms in the intervening years, such as the fact that a pistol will chamber an empty case proves only that it will chamber an empty case and speaks nothing of its reliability,) there is a steady stream of errors there that makes me want to [sic] the dogs on that post. So I reckon I will...
Bear in mind that the Llama, while extremely 1911-like, is not really a 1911 'clone'. If it's parts commonality you're looking for, the Chuck Daly is the winner there. OTOH, a lot of fairly slick little 1911 raceguns I've seen were built on the lowly Norinco platform. Dirt cheap, 100% parts interchangeability, and if you're going to '86' everything but the frame & slide (and probably machine those,) who cares what name started out on it? It'll be an "FVK 1911" when you're done. The best shooting 1911 semi-racegun I've ever owned didn't have two pieces on it from the same company: Essex frame, Remington Rand slide, & etc. It was, however, well-massaged and you could wow the locals by chambering & ejecting a mag full of empty cases as fast as you could work the slide: outstanding feed reliability for Browning's venerable warhorse designed for a steady diet of round-nosed hardball.
Also, anybody who uses the word "venerable" in conjunction with the 1911 should be punished. Severely. It was trite and hackneyed six years ago; it's a whippin' offense now.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Today in history: 10/2/1835

The Mexican government's attempt to confiscate cannon from civilians failed miserably at Gonzales, Texas.

Molon Labe, Y'all!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Quote of the Day:

Take care not to feel towards the inhuman as they feel towards men. -The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, VII:65.

Boomsticks: The Sistema Diaries, Volume II.

Sorry about the substandard gun pr0n, but it's oh-dark-thirty hours here and available light photography ain't in the cards today; gotta jet to the shop in a moment to handle some maintenance stuff.

Anyhow, here's how Project Sistema is shaping up:

Take one Sistema...

Parts I already had on hand: Dlask trigger, ParaOrd thumb safety, Wolff 16.5# recoil spring and firing pin spring, cocobolo grip panels from Springfield Pro, grip screws.

Stuff I'd bought: Ed Brown stainless rebuild kit (all pins and small springs), Ed Brown tactical mag catch, Wilson stainless checkered flat mainspring housing (I prefer an Ed Brown or an S&A, but the wholesaler I use was out of the former, and doesn't carry the latter; I'll pick one up later).

Just Added: Cylinder & Slide "Warp Speed" lockwork. Trigger pull is now a crisp 3-3.5 pounds.

I've pretty much reached the limit of what I can do unsupervised, as a lot of the work coming up will involve metalwork. Next up is lowering & flaring the ejection port, some Novak sight cuts, and rounding the tang off the grip safety a la a ParaOrd Tac Four.

Boomsticks: Schooled.

Every time I get to feeling like a big, bad, knowledgeable military surplus rifle collector, two minutes with Google will remind me that I have a long way to go.

I am but an egg.