Saturday, January 31, 2015


While we were at the theater to see The Imitation Game yesterday, we took in some of the other shops at the tony Keystone at the Crossing mall...

The Tesla dealership is down by the food court. Complete with a naked chassis.

Restoration Hardware, full of groovy-looking stuff that I can't afford. This office set in the corner made me want to give someone a Voight-Kampff test.

Friday, January 30, 2015


No enigma at all: An ultra-colossally great movie.

Seriously, that was an outstanding job of acting he did there.

Complicated-Looking Point & Shoots...

So, the intense battles among the Japanese camera manufacturers for SLR market share in the 1970s resulted in a saturated market. Lots of people wanted to take pictures, but the SLR camera, festooned as it was with dials and knobs and buttons, was off-putting to somebody who wanted to take pictures of their kid's birthday parties and the occasional vacation picture at the beach. On the other hand, point-and-shoot cameras were one-and-done affairs; sell one of those, and that's it, whereas if you sell an SLR, you're opening the customer up to repeated purchases of lenses and flashes and accessories...

This led to an interesting offshoot in the evolution of SLRs: Simple, practically point-and-shoot, SLRs marketed to beginners. While modern DSLR cameras certainly can be, and are, marketed to beginners, they typically retain the ability for full manual control. These older film ancestors were... different in that respect.
The Nikon EM, introduced in 1979, was a departure from traditional Nikon SLRs, which had been tank-like, all-metal things. The EM was smaller, lighter, and less expensive than usual, containing a large amount of plastic in its construction. The body's lines were sculpted by Italian industrial designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, better known for the Lotus Esprit, BMW M1, and DeLorean. Internally, it was conceptualized as an "SLR camera for women".

The top of the camera, instead of the usual array of knobs, had a dial for setting the film speed and a simple selector for auto exposure, a manual 1/90th second exposure (the flash synch speed, but would also work in case the batteries went tango uniform) and Bulb, for using a cable release.

The shooter still had to dial in the aperture, but the camera would pick the shutter speed, and beep politely to let you know if the required exposure time would be 1/30th of a second or longer, which could cause blur from camera motion. The camera used the entire array of standard Nikon "F-mount" lenses, thus serving as a gateway drug to further Nikon purchases.

In 1983, Canon released the T50. This camera goes several steps further than the EM in the easy-to-use department. For starters, it has a built-in motor drive, so film loading and advancing is automated, but you still have to rewind manually at the end of the roll.

The T50 uses Program mode for all shooting: Set the aperture ring on the lens to "A" and the camera handles all the aperture and shutter speed chores. All you have to do is drop the film in and manually set the ISO, focus, and watch out for the blinking "P" in the viewfinder, which lets you know if a shot is no bueno.

These cameras are generally available for a song and the best part is that they use Canon's FD mount. Unlike the Nikon F, when Canon went to autofocus SLRs, they completely changed their lens mount (from the FD to the EF) and the orphaned lenses are dirt cheap. By way of illustration, I picked up a 70-210 Macro and a 100-300, both in excellent condition with front and rear caps, for $100 shipped. For the pair.

Minolta's Maxxum 3000i, released in 1988, is entirely automated. Drop the film in and it loads itself, reads the DX code on the canister to set film speed and is ready to go. It's an autofocus and the lens mount is still in use as the Sony "α" mount. If the Nikon EM was a synchromesh manual gearbox and the Canon T50 was a paddle-shifted twin-clutch manual, this is an actual automatic transmission.

The top of the camera is practically devoid of controls. There's an off-on switch, a button for the self-timer, and a button that selects "Hi Speed" mode, which is basically a shutter-priority mode that selects the fastest shutter speed to stop action.

All in all, it's about the least-intimidating film SLR I'm ever seen. No wonder this Lomographer loved it; it fits in with the Lomo "just shoot" ethos perfectly.


Couldn't sell ice cream to the inmates in Hades.

The shooting industry makes money in spite of its marketing skills. If the kitchen appliance industry possessed this level of savvy, we’d all be cooking over fires in the back yard.

Grab a random gun store customer and ask them to name five competitive shooters and they'll say "Jerry Miculek and..." Some might name Rob Leatham or Julie G., too, but unless they actually compete themselves, that'll be the extent of it.


That was some effective marketing.

I was lying there in my pyjamas watching the Today show, having successfully gotten the last of the trash to the curb (the can went out last night, just in case) when a commercial for Chick-fil-A's breakfast menu came on the tube.

"Dang, that looks tasty!" I think to myself. So I pulled on some clothes, hopped into the Zed Drei, and now I am dining on some tasty, tasty Hate Chicken.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

2,000 words.

Is taking pictures of your "EDC" out in random public places a thing now? I ask because here's this guy coonfingering his gat in what appears to be a "How Many Of The Four Rules Can You Break At Once?" contest, allegedly in a McDonald's.


RandoMosin Musing...

I'm still kinda looking for the right hex receiver 91/30*. Then again, I'm still looking for the right M38 but, day-UM, have you seen the kind of blood money 38s are bringing these days? Without the fruity folding bayonet it's a lot handier and more useful than the M44, and I should have picked one up when they were cheap. I have as hard a time acclimating to the $250+ M38 as I do the $400 used Smith & Wesson Model 10.

Anyhow, it's not any kind of urgent quest. At some point in the future I will be in a gun show with money in my pocket and the right gun with the right price tag will cross my path.

*I've got a '44 Izhevsk 91/30 and a '53 Hungarian M44, but it's not the same as a hex-receiver 91/30 and an M38...


Conference call for work this morning got all up inside my OODA loop.
"New OODA Loops! They stay crunchy, even in milk!"
The ice cream machine should be running shortly.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

QotD: Return On Investment Edition

A person will go on the internet and get into knock-down, drag-out verbal brawls over the superiority of their choice of consumer goods, from phones to video game consoles to automobiles. Why? Because they have invested in that thing and nobody likes to be told they made a bad investment.

If someone will argue that passionately... and perhaps even irrationally ...over something in which they've invested only $163.98 (with free shipping for Amazon Prime members!),then how much more will they argue irrationally for something in which they've invested their very identity as an individual, their entire self-worth as a human being?
"It’s because when you are invested in an ideology, you have to make reality subordinate to that ideology. And when the physical evidence points to the possibility that your ideology doesn’t match reality, then you have to deny that reality, or face the possibility that you ideology is wrong. It’s much easier to dismiss historical records or claim that a video was doctored than to examine your beliefs and concede that everything you believe is wrong."
Nobody likes to think they made that dumb of an investment.

I have to say it was a good day...

So, on Monday we took advantage of Bobbi being off work to jaunt downtown. First stop was at the old Stutz factory, now the Stutz Business Center, for lunch at Bearcats. The fare is typical pub chow, tasty enough and reasonably priced. I had nachos and a bowl of chili while Bobbi had their pork tenderloin sammich. The wall art was all old auto advertisements, not all of them for Stutz...

That car looks like a doozy!
After that, down to the State Museum to take in the Prohibition exhibit. (Only up through February 15th, if you haven't yet seen it.)
"Ninety bottles of booze on the wall, ninety bottles of booze..." The annual consumption of the average American in 1830.
My ongoing quest for the perfect short-faced bear photo was stymied on this visit by the fact that the entire museum was festooned with knitted goods for reasons into which I did not enquire.

I do not think that actual short-faced bears wore knit scarves.
Bobbi browsed the gift shop while I sat down for a minute. The chairs were right under the staircase to the second floor...
Nikon Coolpix has a setting that will apply artificial vignetting to make the glass Nikkor act like a plastic Lomo, for some reason.
On the way home we stopped at Goose the Market...
Obligatory "DISOBEY" sticker on lamppost above dispenser for hippie paper. I guess dissent is patriotic again?
While a candy store holds no fascination for me, I could not work here.

The Meatening.

The photos on this page were taken with a Canon EOS 20D, a Nikon Coolpix S6500, and a Samsung Galaxy S II. The Ilford FP4 is still in the Canon A-1.

Not that kind of tool.

To my surprise, when this article referred to something being unmasked as an "NSA tool", they weren't referring to Michael Hayden.

Sorry for the delay...

Post is up at the other blog this morning.

Webley and H&R autos

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Seventy years ago today...

...advancing Red Army units liberated Auschwitz, and that's why this is Holocaust Memorial Day.


 Someone had put knitting projects all over the museum.

A pair of Canons.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Tuckered out. More later.

Fun and full day out with Roomie. Went downtown, did fun stuff; museum, lunch, grocery shopping*, that sort of thing. More later.

*It's easier to rationalize buying bresaola if you call it "groceries".


Which one to take downtown? Hmmm...

I smell smoke, pass me my fiddle...

The first segment in that '80s midnight movie classic, Heavy Metal, was set in a run-down, crime-infested future version of New York City. Like Escape From New York, this was just simple extrapolation of the arc Gotham had been traveling for the last century, projecting it into the inevitable future. Let's face it: 1970s New York was a dump and only getting dumpier.

The turn-around of the city in the Nineties was nothing short of amazing. I may find the politics and personalities of the last three mayors despicable, but there's no denying that they made the trains run on time. An inevitable side-effect of the city's transformation is a skyrocketing cost of living, and class warfare is always a winning campaign platform in those conditions. The current mayor basically ran a campaign against golden eggs by promising everybody a slice of goose meat.

Certain recent news stories make me wonder if de Blasio will be able to get Manhattan back to status quo ante Dinkins in one term, or if it'll take a second one to finish the job.

Everything old is new again...

via The Online Darkroom.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Your... well, my moment of zen...

Busted caps for the first time this year on Wednesday. I didn't bring a timer or anything, just dragged the table back to somewhere between fifteen and twenty yards and started thumbing rounds into the Ruger's magazines.

Why are those tables all the way up at about seven yards when I get there? I like to think that whoever it was wasn't shooting steel, but that might be giving people too much credit.

I ran through two sets of mags for the 22/45; one hundred and twenty rounds of plated Federal. One failure to fire. Wasn't doing much except playing tunes on the steel... "Ting! Ting! Tang! Ting! Tang! TingTingTing! Tung! Tang!" ...just seeing if I remembered how to work a gun. Yeah, I've been pretty good about dry-firing, but I can lie to myself about my sight alignment when I'm dry-firing; the steel doesn't lie.

Used up the last box of Sumbro in the Glock 19. Fifty rounds with no malfunctions brings the total to 1800 rounds with no malfunctions or cleaning or lubrication since I installed that T&E part. The pistol has lived a life of benign neglect, but it's only 200 rounds from getting a bath now. Ejection has become more erratic in the last three hundred rounds or so.

Hopefully back to the range tomorrow.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

That explains the camera thing, then.

Over on a forum I frequent, a fellow shooter who I believe works as a pilot said about model railroads:
"I'll admit it is my only interest that either is not tied to my livelyhood or doesn't have armies of statists trying to take from me. As such, it brings me a large degree of relaxation."
...and suddenly my enjoyment of this film camera thing made a lot more sense.

Once I actually started getting paychecks for writing, blogging became a lot more of a busman's holiday. The digital SLRs are something I justified as being worth buying for work use; editors like good pictures.

The armies of statists thing? Those two little .25s I purchased at the gun show as collectible historical curiosities are as abhorrent to the Antis as any modern pistol. In my mind, they're hardly even part of the same hobby that includes AR-15s and plastic pistols, and yet I have to expend mental energy and political effort defending their ownership.

But the film cameras? Those are just for fun and nobody's trying to take them away or will look at me askance for owning them. I can parade through Broad Ripple waving around a Leica or Olympus and it's not any kind of political statement. I can tell the waiter at the brewpub that the reason I look happy is because I just got a new camera and not worry about it turning into a philosophical debate.

It's a little refreshing to have a hobby that's just a hobby and that I don't have to defend to anybody.

(Yes, there are some places in rural America that are a lot more gun-friendly than the national average, but outside of some wide spots in the road in Alaska or the intermountain West, if you're the kind of gun nut I am, then you're probably a lot gun nuttier than even the waitstaff at the Stuffed Moose Saloon.)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Overheard in the Office...

Me: "That's a pretty thing. Oldest commissioned warship still afloat!"

RX: "Are they firing..."

Me: "...a 17-gun salute. Yup."

RX: "But just because it's commissioned, we wouldn't actually use it except as some last resort."

Me: "They take it out every couple years and turn it around I think."

RX: "But they don't engage the enemy."

Me: "They could. They're right there in Boston harbor, after all."

Happy Birthday, John Moses Browning!

Colt Model 1902 Military, an early short-recoil pistol design from JMB.
So, the problem with a self-loading pistol is keeping the action closed until the bullet has left the muzzle and pressure in the chamber has dropped low enough that the brass case will be ejected neatly, as opposed to being transformed into a spray of shrapnel in the shooter's face.

Early autopistols relied on complex mechanical setups, like the well-known Borchardt/Luger mechanism derived from Maxim's toggle joint, to provide mechanical disadvantage against which the recoil had to work.
Beautiful, but complex.
It would not shock me to learn that the two main parts of that toggle required more separate machining steps than an entire modern pistol slide. Further, the entire works were exposed to the great outdoors. Friend Marko once jokingly called it "The perfect handgun for a gunfight in a computer clean room."

So, what are our choices to hold the breech closed for that crucial fraction of a second? Well, there's spring pressure, but you can only add so much of that before the action can't be worked by human hands. You can also add weight to the breechblock.

The three locking lug cutouts on the inside of the slide.
It is John Browning who actually patented the idea of extending the breechblock forward and wrapping the forward end around the barrel; this adds weight without adding a huge bulk at the back of the gun. In other words, JMB patented the one-piece slide and breechblock, which is to modern firearms what the wheel is to modern automobiles.

The barrel in battery. Note how the muzzle protrudes slightly beyond the front of the frame. The little metal key is all that keeps the slide from activating the shooter's dental plan, by the way.
This slide was locked to the barrel at the moment of firing by means of mortises on the underside of the slide into which fit matching lugs on the top of the barrel. The slide and barrel would travel rearward together for a fraction of an inch until a downward camming force, originally applied by a pair of swinging links one at the front and one at the rear, pulled the barrel down and arrested its progress, letting the slide continue rearward, extracting the the spent case from the chamber.

The barrel is now fully to the rear and dropped down.

Modern pistols usually dispense with complexity of separate links and locking mortises in the slide, instead just using a camming lug on the bottom of the barrel and a shoulder on the chamber that locks into the ejection port, but the principle is the same one Browning came up with in the closing days of the 19th Century.


I was going to offer a wager as to whether we'd send somebody bigger than the ambassador, but I see that Biden's already on his way to Saudi Arabia.

In many ways, this really is the most transparent administration ever.

The difference...

A staple of my blog is snapshots of cars, as opposed to photographs of automobiles.

My game has a long way to step up.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Wet streets and baked treats.

Downtown Indy on Christmas Eve. This is from the second roll of film I shot through the Leica R4, some past-its-best-by-date Kodak BW400CN [EDIT: Wrong roll. This was Ilford XP2.] Still getting the hang of shifting gears on the camera.

Pastries in Starbucks. After dinner that night, Shootin' Buddy and I walked around downtown a bit, and stopped in the Starbucks there on the circle for some coffee.

Automotif LXIII...

I have no idea how many Teslas I've seen running around the north side of Indianapolis, because up 'til yesterday all the ones I've seen were either white, black, or silver. It could have been dozens, or just the same three over and over. With the sighting of this red 85kw Model S in the Marsh parking lot yesterday, I now know it's at least four.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Automotif LXII...

Spotted this unusual denizen of the Fresh Market parking lot, a Ford Maverick sedan of uncertain vintage, while out perambulating with my Nikon EM. Presumably it arrived and departed under its own power and, given the basic mechanicals under all that rust, could theoretically continue to do so until the body oxidized to nothingness.

(Oh, the first three rolls of film I sent off to The Darkroom have been processed. What a neat service!)




All the way up through the first half of December I was at the range at least once a week, usually more. Since Christmas? Nothing.

But the Zed Drei's tire is freshly patched and it needs a good drive and it's supposed to be above freezing today and we're in the part of the year when anything above 32°F feels like sunbathing weather, and so it's time to go bust some caps and blow the rust off.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

One Caliber To Rule Them All...

And Now A Word From Our Sponsors...

I didn't pay much attention to the Robert Scales Atlantic hit piece on the M4 initially. "OMG, teh AR sux!" is kind of the cosmic background radiation of the gunternet and you have to filter it out if you want to pick up any meaningful signals. It wasn't 'til I saw it referenced (favorably, I might add) here that I went and read it.

This led to Facebook discussion about it, and then to one of my 'net friends doing a bit of Googling of Scales' history of editorializing on military topics, and that led to... Well, here, without further ado, let me present the first and maybe only ever guest post at VFTP, because it needs to be read. Take it away, Terence Nelan:
"In the final days of 2014, The Atlantic magazine published an article by Major General Robert H. Scales (retired) which called the U.S. Army's main infantry weapon, the M-4 carbine, "badly flawed."

General Scales begins with President Lincoln and his famous test of the 7-shot Spencer repeater, hoping to show that the right rifle can bring decisive advantage on the battlefield. Skipping a few hundred years, he then blames the finicky M-16 -- the precursor to today's M-4 -- for the death of three of his men in a night attack on his artillery positions at Firebase Berchtesgaden in 1969. This was part of the famous battle for Hamburger Hill.

With his bona-fides thus established, Scales -- sorry, General Scales -- pauses to invoke the troubled F-35 program as an example of military mismanagement, then proceeds to recycle nearly every boneheaded piece of gun-store drivel there is in his attempted indictment of the M-4.

Far more qualified writers than I have taken General Scales' critique of the M-4 apart. Our hostess Tamara Keel delivered an excellent primer and also linked to WeaponsMan's 2-part evisceration of General Scales here and here.  The guys at Firearm Blog got in on the action too

If you need more, you can mine the comments on those articles or wander over to Ballistic Radio's torture test in which an (admittedly expensive) AR-15 fired 20,000 round without cleanings or malfunctions. It shot nice groups, too.

After all that, there's nothing fiskable left of the General's original Atlantic article, but there's still a big question still outstanding:  why? Why did he take every rusted-out half truth, lie, and cliché he could find on the M-4,  and package them as journalism and himself as a Noble Reformer? As Tam herself pointed out, the Atlantic piece results in calls to the Diane Rehm show by well-intentioned listeners wondering  "why our soldiers weren't being given the best guns?"

You can't really blame the editors of The Atlantic, who couldn't tell an M-4 from an harquebus. After all, their chosen illustration for the article was a civilian AR-15, tricked out with a Slidefire stock, which is about as useful on a select-fire rifle as a screen door on the space shuttle.  That leaves General Scales himself. He hasn't commented anywhere that I can find on the substance of his work or his motivation for writing it, but a review of his other recent work provides some clues.

On December 6, 2013, he wrote a rebuttal of Dana Milbank's opinion piece in the WaPo that called for the reinstatement of the draft.  The article is mostly tepid, prosaic stuff, but includes a rather astonishing claim.
"Thus, it should surprise no one that better trained and acculturated German soldiers had a field day killing Americans with great skill in the hedgerows of Normandy."
Setting aside for the moment that the Wehrmacht was also a draftee army, the US actually won the battle of Normandy, and drove the Germans out of the bocage. In fact, it was the Allied  drive deep into France that  pushed desperate German generals into the failed plot to kill Hitler.  It's true that the Allies took heavy casualties, but any army attacking into prepared defenses in the Normandy hedgerows would have been bloodied.

We now start to wonder, will General Scales say anything at all to make his point?

Another article, dated October 8, 2013, is pegged to the Medal of Honor award ceremony for Captain William Swenson, who was ambushed by the Taliban in Kunar Province on Sept 8, 2009 . Scales tells us that he broke down in tears during the ceremony. He believes the ambush and the subsequent US casualties could have been avoided  if "some soldier-saving technologies" had been in the field with Swenson and his unit.

He begins with the cell phone. First he scornfully points out the bulky radio shown in Capt. Swenson's helmet cam video, and asks "Why can’t our fighting men and women have cell phones in combat?"

At this point, it is important to note that General Scales bills himself as an intellectual, a thinker, technologist and a 'military futurist.'

It's astonishing then, that he considers cell phone communications a valid choice for military communications, as they are fragile,  insecure, and utterly unreliable. Does General Scales imagine that the US would set up cell towers all over Afghanistan, and that the Taliban would leave them alone?

Police departments, fire departments, military units, hell, even power companies all use radios because they deliver superior range, security and reliability. Although anyone who has seen Lone Survivor knows that even the radios can fail.

The shopping list that follows is even more bizarre.

Although Captain Swenson did have a helmet cam, General Scales wonders why he didn't have a helmet cam capable of sending live video back to the screens in the operations center. Surely that would have convinced the command authority that Swenson's pleas for supporting artillery were valid?

Maybe General Scales -- although he says he was present at the award ceremony -- didn't hear President Obama say "as he returns fire, Will calls for air support. But his initial requests are denied – Will and his team are too close to the village."

Let's assume for a moment there was no village. What sort of infrastructure does General Scales (military futurist!) imagine is required to wirelessly transmit live video streams from the battlefields of Kunar province to the operations center? How much might that equipment weigh? He does not share this with us, as he's too eager to report that one can buy helmet cams at Walmart. This prompts the question "would you go to war and depend on a helmet cam you bought at Walmart -- even if it could broadcast a video stream?"  We are not favored with an answer.

General Scales goes on to complain that Captain Swenson's unit didn't have any drone coverage. He speculates that "had a drone been overhead the Taliban would never have dared to open fire." Drones are slow, lightly armored, and not particularly maneuverable. That's why they fly so high that they are almost invisible and inaudible to people on the ground. Even if there had been one, the Taliban would never have known it, which is of course, the whole point.

General Scales further suggests that the army should have seen fit to equip Captain Swenson with a "sensor that detected movement or the metabolic presence of humans nearby." The military should have this, because such devices have "been in use by civilian security companies for years." Maybe there's a difference between locking down a warehouse in Passaic, NJ and walking a trail up a mountain in Afghanistan. Maybe this is the sort of distinction that falls away when one becomes a military futurist.

The last of General Scales' articles is a long and passionate argument for the creation of special instruction and curriculum focused on strategy and strategic leadership at the new Army University. AU is an Army initiative intended to "build an education enterprise that brings all schools from basic training to the staff college under single management."

This is the sort of thing that a former head of the Army War College might really groove on. Scales gets right down into the weeds in this lengthy article and puts a big emphasis on the creation of distance learning and the creation of new standardized testing, which he compares to the GRE.  He says that a " key assessment would be a 'GRE'- like test of verbal and writing skills provided perhaps by a civilian testing service like ETS in Princeton."

This sounds pretty innocuous. Scales is recommending a technology solution here, but unlike his blithe suggestion that the Army magically transmit live video across Afghanistan, distance learning in offices is a Real Thing that People Do.

So why make an issue out of it?

Because General Scales was made president and CEO of Walden University  -- a private, for profit institution -- in the year 2000, and  promoted to Senior Vice President of Sylvan Learning Systems in December of 2002.  (Source:,_Jr.) This is not mentioned in the article.

Suddenly, his enthusiasm for distance learning and civilian testing services seems less selfless. Does he also consult for any other companies that make, say, cell phones, or helmet cams, or rifles?

What else has General Scales been up to?

Back in 2008, he was the president of a consulting company named Colgen, which described itself somewhat immodestly as "America's Premier Landpower Advocate."   The site is no longer available, unless you go dig for it at (Link:

On the site back in 2008, Colgen's business was to assist "landpower Services in creating future warfighting doctrine and operational concepts" and it "translates these concepts into useful strategies and actions for industry, the media, and the congressional and executive branches of government."
 Colgen's "products targeted to these marketing elements including: media commentary, congressional testimony, advice to the executive branch, published works, seminars and conferences."  [emphasis mine] Colgen's "growing list of satisfied clients" includes defense contractors such as General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin.

Note that Colgen clearly states that published works are a marketing product.

If that weren't enough, General Scales played a minor role in a controversial Pentagon program where former military consultants were given preferential access and briefings with the likely expectation that they'd carry water for the Pentagon during their media appearances. How you feel about that program -- described in great detail here -- probably depends on how you feel about the war.

The program was called "psyops" by its detractors, and after it garnered too much attention, it was quietly closed down. The NYT coverage of the program stated that "most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air. Those business relationships are hardly ever disclosed to the viewers, and sometimes not even to the networks themselves. "

The NYT coverage included an email exchange from 2008 which the Times claimed was an implicit trade of good access for favorable coverage. "Robert H. Scales Jr., a retired Army general and analyst for Fox News and National Public Radio whose consulting company advises several military firms on weapons and tactics used in Iraq, wanted the Pentagon to approve high-level briefings for him inside Iraq in 2006. 'Recall the stuff I did after my last visit," he wrote. 'I will do the same this time.'"

Scales says his email was taken out of context and it just meant he'd continue to do a good job as an analyst and consultant.

Was General Scales caught red-handed trading access for positive spin? He claims he never "drank the Koolaid" and he pointed out that he didn't always agree with the administration, or the other analysts.

Maybe so, but when there's money involved, he seems to agree just often enough."
(We were not the only ones to wonder about advertorials, either.)


Jealousy's an ugly thing, there, Seth.

(This is not, strictly speaking, factual. I mean, Superbad did do $121 million domestic gross over its entire run, as opposed to American Sniper's $90M opening weekend total.)

Speaking of entertainment...

...what Bobbi said about The Man in the High Castle is fact. You should watch it; it's free if you have Amazon Prime. The production values are outstanding, which is unsurprising, given who produced it.

Given enough positive feedback, Amazon will make a series out of it. They should get that feedback. Because I want to binge watch this series.

Can they really be that dumb?

The TV screen in the next room is full of yammerheads in a studio, sitting behind a desk, and positively agonizing over whether the movie American Sniper was "pro-war" or "anti-war". In other words, "Is it okay for me to like this movie?" What team is it on? Is it Red or Blue? Which Value Meal does it come with?

"Be a good little talking head and open your opinion cave! Here comes a big spoonful of viewpoint! Vroooom ! Oh, num-num! Good anchorperson!"


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #119...

Steyr Pieper 1908 6.35mm pistol.

Note how the barrel assembly looks like an over/under shotgun? The recoil spring is in the top tube and the barrel is in the bottom one. When you tip the barrels up, that hook on the rear of the recoil spring assembly goes with them and so the breechblock is free to cycle without being under spring tension. A variant of this setup appeared on the Belgian Clement pistols that Smith & Wesson licensed for their original .35 Self Loader.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Home again, home again...

Out early to breakfast at Good Morning Mama's, and then on to the Fun Show. Lunch afterwards and then the 4:00 showing of American Sniper and finally home.

My dogs are barkin' after two good laps of the Indy 1500, let me tell you, but it was not at all a fruitless venture:

Happy Slightly Early Birthday To Me
Left: Steyr Pieper 1908 6.35mm
Right: Harrington & Richardson Self-Loading .25

Note that the H&R is completely devoid of anything resembling sights. Gun derp has been around for a long, long time. There was no derp-free Golden Age.

Fun Show Time!

Yay! Fun Show Day! Let's sing the Fun Show Song!
Flintlocks and Flop-tops
And Number Three Russians
Black-powder Mausers
From jackbooted Prussians,
Shiny Smith PC's from limited runs
These are a few of my favorite guns.

Socketed bay'nets
On Zulu War rifles,
Engraved, iv'ried Lugers
That make quite an eyefull
Mosin tomato stakes sold by the ton
These are a few of my favorite guns.

Rusty top-breaks!
Smallbore Schuetzens!
And all of Browning's spawn
I just keep on browsing my favorite guns
Until all my money's gone.
I cheated and went on a reconnaissance run with Bobbi and Turk Turon yesterday. I've got my eye on a brace of totally adorable little .25s. It they're still there today, it was meant to be.

Friday, January 16, 2015


The calendar says this is the new year, but the dead of winter always feels more like the dog-end of the old one.

I haven't busted a single cap since before Christmas. Dry-fire is good, but it's no substitute. I need to get to the range, if only for therapeutic reasons. I've got enough .22LR on hand that I think it would absolutely be worth taking the M&P15-22.

The Zed Drei's sitting on a flat driver's side front tire in the garage, but that's okay because there's no way the summer sport tires would handle the skating rink of the alley right now anyway, not after Sunday's ice storm. The Subie's still toodling around okay, although I wouldn't trust it for a road trip.

Here's the dead camera:

Don't want the lens to go to waste, so there's an OM-4 on the way. Because reasons.

Fun Show coming up tomorrow, so that's usually a pick-me-up in the mood department.

Dear fellow Broad Riparian...

The blanket of snow on the ground makes two things painfully obvious:
  1. That a large dog has grunted out a steamer right in the middle of our front yard, and...

  2. That it was your dog, what with the trail of incriminating paw prints leading straight to and from your front door.
Unfortunately, I had already used the facilities this morning, or I would have cheerfully returned the favor.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Okay, that's kinda cool...

You know how Amazon Prime works, right? Pay an annual membership fee and get (among other bennies) free 2-day shipping?

Well, Brownells is doing something similar with their new "Brownells EDGE" program. A $49.95 annual membership fee looks to cover all standard shipping fees, give you a discount on expedited shipping, and other benefits like free return shipping and members-only sales and discounts.

I'm sold.

Anti-imperialism as the Prime Directive?

Men Are Not Potatoes references Jon Stewart's skewering of the Obama administration's complete and egregious no-show at the big shindig in Paris.

Meanwhile, an interesting theory on why the White House preferred to show a naked flagpole in the City of Lights:
"It’s not that Obama is saying, pace Malcolm X—a movie whose influence on the president has been noted by more than one close observer—last week’s murderous rampage in Paris is nothing more than France’s chickens coming home to roost. Nor does Obama have any imaginable interest in showing up in Paris for what could have easily been misconstrued as an anti-Muslim immigrant rally, or a rally in support of some racist cartoonists. At the very least, the rally no doubt at first struck him as politically naïve, as though France thought it could wash its hands of colonialism and everyone else would play along. Let the Europeans, each with their own sordid histories of racism, colonialism, and mass murder, extend their sympathies to the French. In the president’s apparent estimation, a violent Muslim backlash against French colonialism and racism is on the French."
It doesn't require any Huckabee-esque allegations of secret Mau Mau connections to understand that, in the circles Barry has always moved in, "imperialism" and "colonialism" are among the dirtiest of words.

Sometimes they really do fall under "good riddance".

I'm not a huge fan of capital punishment. Not because I don't think that there are people in this world that simply need killin' but because I don't trust the same organization that can't bat a thousand in delivering the mail to consistently kill the right people.

On the other hand, when there's no doubt that they got the right guy...? I find myself remarkably un-squeamish.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Upsides, downsides...

The Olympus OM-PC (OM-40 overseas) was a consumer-grade camera released by Olympus in the mid-'80s. I lusted after them at the time partly for their styling and partly for the fact that they were extremely reasonably priced for a relatively feature-laden SLR.

When I picked one up recently for $25, I enjoyed tossing the little camera in my camera bag and taking the odd photograph around town...

Until the mirror stuck up after a snapshot. I gave the camera a light tap to see if it would jiggle the mirror loose, but it wasn't 'til I removed the lens that the mirror (or rather its holder) returned to the lower position, spitting out the half-silvered mirror out the front of the camera and onto the office floor.


On the one hand, I could try to get the camera fixed, or, heck, since I'd only had it a couple weeks, maybe KEH would do something for me... On the other hand, it's a scuffed-up thirty-year old consumer-grade camera that cost the princely sum of $25* and is hardly worth the hassle to fix; it's not like we're talking about a Leica rangefinder here. I think I'll just put a body cap on it and shelve it in the attic.

*Adjusted back to 1985 dollars, that's hardly lunch money.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

It's a funny ol' universe...

Neat-o! A picture of a thing the camera didn't actually see...

I was once working on an SF short story where entangled photons* were used for FTL communications. Actually, it was about eavesdropping, but I nerded out so hard on the radio that the story itself got completely lost.

*Actually, I think it was electrons; it's hard to be positive. I mean "certain". Ba-dum. I'm groggy.

It occurs to me...

...that I have had twelve hours of sleep in the past 72, with the four-hour block last night being the longest undisturbed stretch.

In other words, we are experiencing technical difficulties with the ice cream machine. Please stand by.

Monday, January 12, 2015


In the February 2015 issue of Shooting Illustrated, some blogger wrote a review of the Ruger 9E bargain-priced SR9 variant. You should go buy the magazine because that would be awesome of you.

Day Out...

Oh, the weather outside was frightful...

But the company inside was delightful. 

This evening's ice storm really blows,
I think I'd prefer plain old snow.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Oddly specific...

I dreamed I went out to eat lunch at a little sushi restaurant in Hallstatt, Austria. It was on the third floor and the menu items only cost half as much if you ate on the side of the restaurant that faced the hillside rather than out over the lake. Since I was going to be reading anyway, I went for the cheaper vittles without the view.

The maguro otoro was excellent.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

It's strange in here.


Not a lot of it, but what's there is not in any danger of melting anytime soon.

Out and About

Five degrees fondly Fahrenheit.
Sometime the other night, Indianapolis kicked off its blanket of clouds and let all the heat out. It's bleepin' cold out there now. Tourette's Syndrome cold. So cold that the first word you involuntarily blurt when you step outside into the twenty-five mph breeze would have to be bleeped out on network TV.

Still carrying the little Nikon Coolpix S6500 around with me. In summer I put it in the "document pocket" of my gun burkha, and in winter it goes in the left coat pocket with my phone and garage door opener. (Right pocket is for gloves and car keys.)

Yesterday at Fresh Market I took a misstep and hip-checked the corner of the checkout counter, driving the camera and phone into my hip hard enough to leave a bruise on me and a rather noticeable dent in the camera's case right over the "COOLPIX" label. It still works. I'm impressed with the thing even more now.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Thread I have never ever seen on a firearms forum...

"Hi, everybody! Well, with the news stories that have been on lately, my boyfriend has decided that he wants to start CCWing. He's been resistant to the idea before, so I didn't try to force him, but now that he wants to carry, I realize I have no idea what would be a good gun for a man. You married ladies, what kind of gun is popular with the fellas in your life?"
 Because that would sound fricking retarded.

I liked him better when he was just screaming.

“I stopped calling these people Muslim terrorists,” Dean said on Morning Joe.
They now wish to be known as "Terrorists of Faith". Or perhaps "The Artists Formerly Known As Muslim Terrorists" and now just "الأحمق".

Let it not be too soon.

*glances at calendar* Only a couple decades left to go, thank heavens. It's almost enough to make one want to take up smoking again just to hurry things along.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

He's not here for the hunting.

Hoosier State Senator Jim Merritt liked watching his bill to restrict the sale of Tannerite die in committee last year so much that he submitted it again.

Meanwhile, in committee:
"I don't know of any significant personal injuries that have occurred in its use," said Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "Someone's going to have to convince me that this Tannerite is a problem in the state of Indiana and there's a need for regulation."
It's good to want things, Mr. Merritt. It builds character.

Oh, Jesus, not this again...

Once upon a time I worked in a gun store whose owner had invented a rather colorful Vietnam-era military past for himself. It's called "stolen valor" now, but back then it was still just plain bullsh!t. One of his favorite topics on which to hold forth was how awful the M-16 was, and how, when his unit had switched to the new rifle from the old M-14, he threatened to kill his sergeant and so he was allowed to keep his M-14. I managed to refrain from pointing out that when the Army switched from the 14 to the 16, he was too young to lift either one and, as a consequence, was barely old enough to have been drafted to help pack boxes for the inactivation of Tan Son Nhut.

Every time an AR-15 came in the shop, we'd get an earful about how he wanted to kill Eugene Stoner (who was three years in the grave already) and about all the times his unit had been ambushed and wiped out almost to a man and he had to (and I quote, here) "turn over the bodies of his boys and each and every one of them had a broken-open M-16 with a cleaning rod jammed down the barrel!" The travails of the XM16E1 as reported to the Ichord Subcommittee have taken deep root in American gun nut culture indeed when even semiliterate Bubbas can repeat them as though they were first-person happenings.

Let us leave him to wrestle with the demons of other people's flashbacks and fast-forward to the present, in which a retired general who was a leftenant of cannon cockers back in the late Southeast Asian Unpleasantness tells us in a piece in Atlantic magazine:
At 3 o’clock in the morning, the enemy struck. They were armed with the amazingly reliable and rugged Soviet AK‑47, and after climbing up our hill for hours dragging their guns through the mud, they had no problems unleashing devastating automatic fire. Not so my men. To this day, I am haunted by the sight of three of my dead soldiers lying atop rifles broken open in a frantic attempt to clear jams.
This is alleged to have occurred during the Battle of Hamburger Hill in 1969, and we will treat the general's reminiscences as fact since, unlike my former boss, he was at least verifiably there.

The article meanders on with a paean to gas pistons and a dapper, Atlantic-audience-friendly restating of the "sh!ts where it eats" shibboleth of the He-Man AR Haters Club. All this is stated in such a way that indicates that while the general has a superficial knowledge of how various guns work, similar to the layman's "well, the gas goes in the tank and then the pistons go up and down and turn the wheels" knowledge of automotive mechanics, he doesn't actually like them very much.

His talking points are dismantled (and possible ulterior motives examined) in far more splendid detail than anything I could equal over at WeaponsMan in a two-parter: Here and Here.

Meanwhile, Ballistic Radio just finished up some recent gun testing...

I'll close with a quote from friend Justin O. on FaceBook:
"I find it amusing that when it comes to describing the M4/M16 in a military story, the media has nothing but awful accusations to sling about how these rifles are anemic jammomatics.

But as soon as a civilian picks up an AR15, they're described as military-derived rifles capable of allowing their user to rack up an astonishing body count with no training or knowledge.
Ain't that the truth?

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

This one, too...


Those dang guns went and killed someone again.

Random Musing...

It's amazing the number of people who don't seem to realize that the internet is connected to real life. Where's the first place a prosecutor goes looking for evidence these days? The Facebook page of the accused, that's where.

Despite the protests of Sumdood Dindoonuffin that he was just turning his life around, there'll be pictures on his timeline (which is set to "Public") of him sitting at a table in a skeezy kitchen, busting a pose with a pair of gats behind a couple stacks of bills and the very baggies of dope that are currently residing in the evidence locker.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015


That first roll of Ilford through the Leica included a lot of pictures of random crap as I'm having to get the hang of working the clutch pedal and shift lever all over again. The roll is mostly full of stuff like several exposures of the various illuminated beer signs on the walls at Twenty Tap and assorted Christmas decorations in the neighborhood.

I did, however, enjoy taking the above 4x6 print and affixing it in an old photo album next to a picture of the '75 Ford Granada I was driving back in 1991. I'd taken that photo, also using Ilford XP2, with my Canon AE-1 Program almost a decade before the Subaru in these pictures was made. I should get those old negatives scanned...

Another similarity between the Forester and the Granada for me is that both were "emergency cars".

RX: "What's an 'emergency car'?"

Me: "Well, that's when you weren't really planning on buying a car, but you need wheels right now because your current ride went tango uniform for whatever reason, so you run out and buy a car you may not really want, but it's the car you can afford right then because it's an emergency."

RX: "I think all my cars have been emergency cars by that definition."
Out of the fifteen cars I've owned over the years, only three really count as Emergency Cars. In addition to the aforementioned Granada and Forester, my other emergency car was a truly awful Dodge Aries. While I've grown to like the Forester and grudgingly developed a love-to-hate-it relationship with the Granada, my K-Car experience was a nearly unmitigated disaster.