Sunday, September 22, 2019

Jinxed.

I have two cars, both fairly sporty models with manual transmissions, so one would be correct in assuming I enjoy driving with a little bit of verve.

Thing is, I also live in a city that is generally flat as a pancake in a place where the roads are generally ruler-straight and intersect at tidy right angles. It's not an environment conducive to pulling g's in corners.

There are a few stretches of road near the house that actually have some curves and elevation changes, like Westfield just north of Broad Ripple village or Spring Mill between Kessler and Holliday Park, both due to the terrain along the White River.

Naturally, I incorporate these stretches into my errands if at all possible, like the other day when I was transporting a trunkload of books to Half-Price Books in the Mustang. Instead of shooting straight up Meridian to 86th, I jogged west on Kessler to take Spring Mill instead.

This, of course, was fate's signal to have me preceded through the s-curves on Spring Mill by a septuagenarian in a car of similar vintage to mine, but instead of a Mustang GT, it was a blue-green Buick Regal sedan in the same cosmetic state it was when it rolled off the lot in the mid-Nineties. And its owner was determined to keep it that way by not exceeding twenty miles per hour in those curves.

Of course, on the way back, I was following a trailer full of lawnmowers downhill through those same curves at the same velocity I'd come up. The traffic gods did not smile upon me that day.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Another One Rides the Bus

I took the IndyGo Red Line down to pick up the film from my first trip on the IndyGo Red Line, which feels incredibly recursive.

It was a roll of Ilford XP2 I'd burned up in the Canon EOS Elan II. XP2 is neat because it uses the C41 color process for developing, so if you have one of the few 1-hour or overnight labs near you, they can do this film. (Roberts Camera will do regular B&W, but it's done by an employee in his home darkroom and so turnaround time is longer than for color film.)

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Bang for the Buck

I contributed some thoughts on the best value in a 9mm pistol over at the Ammoman blog today. Go check it out!
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Monday, September 16, 2019

Automotif CL...

I spotted quite a sight in the Meijer parking lot today; this was definitely not your ordinary grocery-getter. I was glad I had the Fuji X-E1 and Zeiss 32mm f/1.8 along, because this deserved better than a quick cell phone snap.

It's a 1955 Ford Thunderbird, the first year of production, when they were fairly close-coupled two-seaters intended as a counter for GM's Corvette. As if to underscore the intended target, Ford shortened the wheelbase on their standard chassis to the same 102" as the Chevrolet 2-seater.

The '53 and '54 Corvettes had only come equipped with the "Blue Flame" inline-six, and so the T-bird's 292cid, 193* bhp V8 was intended to give it a leg up, but 1955 saw Chevy drop their own 265 cubic inch V8 in the 'Vette, where it put out a claimed 195* bhp. From the beginning, the Thunderbird was more of a tourer than the sportier Corvette, and it was only a two seater for the first few model years.

This "Thunderbird Blue" example, with a "Turquoise & White" interior, appeared to be unrestored.

In the late '70s my dad briefly had an immaculate, low-mileage, unrestored black '55 T-Bird. When he wasn't fiddling with it, it was stored in the garage with the hardtop removed†, covered in blankets to keep the dust off.

Other than one or maybe two rides around the neighborhood, I mostly remember the cockpit as the absolute best place in Hide & Go Seek, because none of my siblings or cousins expected anyone to hide in the DON'T YOU DARE TOUCH DAD'S T-BIRD.

Here's something that caught me off guard today when I was thrown into a reverie by the sight of this classic: When I was watching dad work on that oh-so-old Fifties vintage auto, with its quirky old six-volt electrical system and all, it was only twenty-three years old or so.

It wouldn't have qualified for Indiana vintage plates yet, unlike the Ford I took out for a spin to take in the sunset today...


*This was "SAE gross horsepower", which was measured in a climate-controlled dynamometer chamber with the engine out of the car, all power-draining accessories removed, and probably the air cleaner and exhaust manifolds replaced with velocity stacks and straight pipes. And then the numbers would be further massaged by marketing. It's not super-science, but you won't go far wrong by assuming that the actual SAE net bhp is somewhere between 60 and 75 percent of that number. In other words, don't drag race a Prius in your stock '55 T-Bird.

The 1955 Thunderbird came standard with a lift-off fiberglass hardtop. A convertible top was an option, one that neither the pictured car nor my dad's had.

Game Theory

This column does make some interesting arguments about the Electoral College, namely the way it works in the age of statistical analysis. Gaming the EC has had the same sorts of results on presidential campaigning that the statistical min-maxing of the Moneyball/Sabermetrics era has had on baseball.
"As it stands now most of the country, both rural and urban, goes ignored during presidential campaigns as candidates compete for victory in the Electoral College. FairVote, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to electoral reforms, tracked public campaigning in the 2016 election and found that apart from private fundraisers or studio appearances, the major parties focused solely on those states that were deemed as competitive.

For instance, after the two major party conventions concluded, 94% of all public campaigning took place in 12 states, and 70% took place in just six states. No major party candidate held a rally, gave a speech or held a public event in any state with only three electoral votes.

The same is true for many of the most highly populated states. FairVote's analysis found that Donald Trump and Mike Pence failed to campaign in more than half of the 50 states, while Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine failed to campaign in nearly three-quarters of the states in the union.
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For all that it may be statistically valid, I can't help but read that article's headline, "The road to abolish the Electoral College may just run through Texas", as "The road to Sarajevo may just run through Texas".
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Late Adopter.

I didn't get a CD player until the early/mid Nineties. I think the first one I had in a car was the one I installed in my 280ZX when I was working at the pawn shop/gun store in 1994.

I never used Napster, and continued to use the CD changer in the Zed Drei until it finally gave up the ghost a few years ago. I need to replace the head unit in that car so I can listen to music while driving again, but, you know...one of these days. The radio still works and picks up NPR fine, so I keep putting it off.

Anyway, here's a neat animated chart showing the percentage of market share of various music formats, from 1973-2019. Watch the fall of 8 Track! The death and rebirth of vinyl! It's pretty neat.


(h/t to The Online Photographer.)

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #177...

Ammo shortage resistant Gen4 Glock 35 with SSVI Tyr trigger, Ameriglo I-Dot Pro sights, and additional barrels in .357SIG and 9x19mm...
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Tab Clearing...

"Beeeeeeeto Jenkins!"


Beto was on Meet the Press this morning, and claimed to have been approached by gun owners at a gun show in Arkansas and a sporting goods store in Texas who were said something along the lines of "Gosh, I realized I don't need my AR15 for hunting or home defense, and I'd be happy to turn it in!" (The transcript of the show isn't up yet, else I'd have copied it verbatim.)

Saturday, September 14, 2019

"Good Gun Owners"

One interesting feature of op eds or stumping political candidates these days when they bring up the idea of AWB v2.0 is that they all cite some "Good Gun Owner" who had an epiphany after a mass shooting and decided that they didn't need an EEBIL AR47 to hunt ducks or defend themselves from burglars, and voluntarily renounced the "assault weapon" lifestyle and turned the bad guns in.

Which, in light of actual compliance rates in recent ban states, is purely whistling past the graveyard.
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...but only because of the unconstitutional NFA.



When the Hughes Amendment went down, goes the lore, a few smart SACO employees got a handful of Mk 19s "on paper". The exact total is uncertain, it might be as many as three or four. They're rare enough that I've never seen two on the market at the same time, let alone two in the same place.

When they come up for sale, they bring stupid money; one brought half a million bucks a dozen years or so ago. And then each live 40mm grenade is another $200 tax stamp...
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Friday, September 13, 2019

At least he's honest?



Thanks, Beto! It was right decent of you to motivate the gun owner vote. I was worried they might be a little complacent, but with you reminding them what the game plan is, that'll get folks to the polls.
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Yesterday (well, day before yesterday), Part Three

I had a pair of full-frame bodies with me at the zoo: A Nikon D700 and a Canon 5D Mark II. It wasn't really a comparison, because they were wearing very different sorts of lenses. The Nikon had a 24-120mm "travel zoom" lens, a focal length range good for a wide variety of shooting.

The Canon, on the other hand, was fitted with the 70-200mm f/2.8L zoom, a lens I'd been itching to play with at the zoo since the day I got it...








For a pair of cameras that haven't been cutting edge for a decade, they both did pretty well, I think.

All my zoo photography thus far has been with APS-C or smaller sensors, so as it turned out, I often found myself wanting more reach from the 70-200. It was so bright outside that even capturing flying water droplets from the grizzly was doable without having to resort to wide apertures, and I only made use of the full f/2.8 in the desert biome and snake exhibit. In retrospect, I should have brought along my 2X Extender, because the 140-400mm focal length would have perfectly complemented the other camera and having the maximum aperture reduced to f/5.6 would have been no handicap.
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Tab Clearing...

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Yesterday, Part Two

The hike to the zoo wasn't terribly far. It's probably somewhere between half and three quarters of a mile between the corner of Washington & Capitol and the zoo gates. Complicating factors were that it was, as mentioned, hot as Hades on Wednesday, and I was also carrying ten pounds of camera gear.

The ten pounds of camera gear, however, were kinda the whole point of the trip...







State of the Gunblogosphere?

I started paying less attention to site numbers 'way back when The Truth Laid Bear and the "blogger ecosystem" finally went away for good, and I pretty much stopped altogether when Sitemeter went the way of the dodo. I couldn't tell you to the nearest five hundred what this blog's daily traffic is in this current year.

But traffic is important for monetization, and any money this blog makes for me is incidental; extra ammo money is great (and so's the occasional windfall for geriatric cat food by the case!) but it's not the end of the world if the faucet slows down.

Greg Ellifritz, on the other hand, has been diligently maintaining his blog. He's been diligently tracking traffic, and conscientiously putting out column-to-article length pieces multiple times a week.

And what Greg's noticed is...well, I'll let him tell you:
"When I first started realizing that I was hemorrhaging pageviews, I decided to write more. In 2019 I’ve been writing a few more articles each month. As compared to the same time period a year ago, my year-to-date writing is up 43,000 words in 2019.

An average novel is usually around 100K words. So I’ve basically written half a novel more free information this year than I have in any comparable time frame in the past years.

In August, I really busted my ass. I wrote 20 articles and my total word count was more than any other month in the history of my site. What did that get me? Fewer readers.

I got my August website stats update from Google. My hard work wasn’t enough. My total pageviews declined by 12.52% in the last month. The number of unique visitors to the site dropped 7% from July.
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Greg's a smart dude and turns out a lot of quality content. Following him has taught me a lot, and I recommend his stuff highly.

Yesterday, Part One

Fuji X-E1, Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8
So, my plan yesterday was to make a trial run to the zoo using the new Red Line. Sort of a benchmark to see how long it took and how much of a hassle it was. My feeling was that if it was a breeze to walk, it'd be worth popping for an annual membership at the zoo next time I had some spare  cash.

So I left the house at 12:30 and walked to the nearest Red Line stop, at 54th & College (not the one pictured above.) Just as I reached College, a southbound bus pulled up to the station and pulled away. Well, that meant ten minutes of sitting until the next one arrived. As things happened, it turned out to be only eight before I was boarding a half full bus headed south.

People were getting on and off at every station, though, so the Red Line was definitely seeing use, and the bus was pretty much at least three quarters full for every stop from 42nd to the Medical Center stop at IU Health.

Nikon D700, Nikkor 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6 VR
I got off at the Statehouse station, the last one before the bus jogs east to the central depot before continuing south to Fountain Square.

The Statehouse station is facing the southeast corner of the state capitol building. From there it's a couple blocks walk along Washington Street until you get to the museums and White River State Park. A short walk through the park and you reach the old Washington Street bridge over the White River, which has been converted to a pedestrian bridge that links the museums and concert venues on one side with the White River Promenade, White River Gardens, and Indianapolis Zoo on the other side.

iPhone 7 Plus
After taking a brief wrong turn on the Promenade, I asked a jogger for directions and was pointed toward the correct path to the zoo's front gate.

I bought my ticket, wandered through the gate, and checked my watch. It was 1:37, which put it at slightly over an hour door to door, given a wait for the bus and plenty of dawdling and picture taking. (Plus it was hotter than Satan's stovetop yesterday.) But, hooray! I was at the zoo!

To be continued...
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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Stranger in a Strange Land

The New Yorker sent a writer to the NRA's Personal Protection Expo in Texas recently. It went about like you'd expect it to.

If you don't want to talk to reporters at a gun show or any other firearms-related event, just wear a polo and some chinos, or other business casual type attire, and they'll 100% leave you alone to go talk to the dude in the wife beater and the rebel flag gimme hat.
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A triggering too far.

Apple's new iPhone release has been plastered all over the internet, and it's triggering something other than arguments with Android fans for a change...


Trypophobia is the fear of (or revulsion at) small holes...typically in organic matter, like skin or plants, but apparently some people can't pass up the opportunity of a good triggering letting them tell the world what to do.

Yeah? Well your abuse of apostrophes triggers my dunceophobia, so check your idiot privilege.

Look, my fear of heights is enough that my palms literally sweat at the sight of the tower-climbing videos Bobbi watches, but you don't see me demanding that people stop putting them on the internet.

What if I said that I'm triggered by your triggering? Stop triggering me by getting triggered! Checkmate, bitches!
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Sad News

Charles Hill, who blogged at Dustbury for as long as blogging was a thing, maybe even longer, has passed away.
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It's in the bag?

The problem with pro-body cameras like the Nikon F5 in the picture above, with their built-in vertical grips is the paucity of carry options for them. There are minimalist "DSLR holsters", which are padded affairs carried on a belt that hold pretty much the camera and a lens up to about 70-200mm f/2.8 size, and nothing else. And then there are various full-size bags that are intended to hold a couple of bodies, several lenses, flashes, a tripod, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Big cameras are used by serious photographers for serious photographer business, apparently.

But I like to play with obsolescent pro cameras, and if I'm out walkabout in the city, I just want to bring the camera along and an iPad, maybe a notepad and some pens.

I have a Think Tank Suburban Disguise 30i, which is a pretty minimalist bag. It has an iPad compartment and it'll hold even a decent-sized DSLR like the D700 or 5D Mark II, but it's just not quite deep enough for a pro body (or a battery grip on a regular camera.)

My ideal would be a bag with interior dimensions about 11" tall by 8" square, with a lid that flipped open and a slit pocket on the back to hold a normal-size tablet in a vertical orientation. Like this, but a little deeper and taller.

Alas, I am still looking.
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Monday, September 09, 2019

Automotif CXLIX...

1995-'99 BMW E36 M3 sedan. I would not mind driving one of these at all.
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Sunday, September 08, 2019

Ouch, my eye-rolling muscles.

At one fell swoop...

I'd never used IndyGo, our city's mass transit system, in the ten years I've lived here. I hate memorizing bus schedules and transfers and stuff like that, and so just never bothered.

The Monon Trail? I use that all the time; it's a convenient bicycle highway from home to Broad Ripple Village proper, and you only have to worry about one grade crossing between here and there, since there's a bridge over busy Kessler Avenue. But buses? Just never really bothered.

But then they put in the Red Line, a simulated streetcar service using articulated buses instead of trolley cars, right down the middle of College Avenue near the house.

People griped that they were "taking away" a lane of traffic on College, but really they were just taking it back, what with College being three lanes wide since the streetcars used to run up the center lane. You could even see the old railroad ties where they tore up the road to install the Red Line stations, since they'd just paved over the old tracks.

Anyhow, now a bus whizzes past the station at 54th and College every ten-ish minutes in either direction. In a sort of "The first hit's free, kid!" fashion, the Red Line is free to ride for the month of September, and I made use of that fact to go and do a couple downtown errands without having to worry about parking or the like.

The downtown Roberts Camera store is an easy ten minute walk from the Red Line station at Capitol Avenue & 9th Street, so I dropped off a roll of Ilford XP2* on Thursday and then strolled over to The Eagle on Mass Ave for lunch, then walked the few blocks south down Delaware to the central bus station and caught the northbound Red Line for home.

That was handy, and with none of the annoyances of driving downtown or trying to find parking. (Last time I tried to eat lunch at The Eagle, I circled the block twice until I got a parking space that was reasonably close.)

I repeated the performance on Friday, albeit grabbing lunch at The Tap instead of The Eagle, and it went just as smoothly.

I'm a big Red Line fan now.


Noodling around in Google Maps this morning, I realized that the Red Line station at Capitol Avenue and Washington Street is, like, a ten minute walk from the front door of the State Museum and it's not much further to the gates of the zoo.

Thanks to the Red Line, it is now about a one mile walk from my house to the zoo, with a thirty minute bus ride sammiched in the middle of it.

Guess where I'm going at some point this week?

*Ilford XP2 is a C41 process black & white film that can be processed by any place that processes color film. Actual B&W processing is a lot harder to come by these days if you don't do it at home.
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Saturday, September 07, 2019

Raw Concrete

The north side of the building. Canon T50, Kodak BW400CN
Ah, the humanizing warmth of 1970s Brutalist architecture! In this case, it's the Minton-Capehart Federal Building in Indianapolis. To be fair, this isn't its facade. That's slightly more welcoming, facing west overlooking the plaza.

Olympus OM-D E-M5, M. Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO
Its backside, which faces a stretch of Delaware street that doesn't get a lot of pedestrian traffic, is even more stark.

Olympus OM-D E-M5, M. Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO

It was interesting to find out that there was originally a reason for the building's inverted ziggurat shape and stark lines:
"The Federal Building would replace a barren parking lot on the east side of Veterans Memorial Plaza, right in the heart of the Indiana War Memorial Plaza, a historic public gathering space on par with Washington, D.C.’s National Mall. Woollen believed that there was one main issue for the project. “We thought the whole plaza was badly in need of containment,” he said. “The buildings just weren’t holding things in or defining the park or the plaza.”

The firm convinced the GSA to abandon plans for a 13-story building on a small footprint in favor of a six-story structure that spanned the length of the block—“a much shorter, longer, and fatter building that would fill in the leaking space of the plaza and dramatize it in a way European spaces are,” Woollen explains. The design called for an inverted ziggurat, a stair-stepped shape that would be the inverse of the pyramid crown of the nearby Indiana World War Memorial; that is, each floor would be a little wider than the one below it. Woollen chose to render the building in concrete to suggest the permanence of the federal government as an institution. As construction began, he even ordered the mixture custom-blended to a particular golden hue, and gave it a polished finish. Thick columns lift the hulking structure off the ground to create an open plaza around the base, which is wrapped with a rainbow mural by graphic-design pioneer Milton Glaser, the founding design director of New York magazine and designer of the “I Heart NY” logo.

Woollen conceived the mural as something joyful, but he wasn’t surprised when it was met with disgust. “Indy rose up in arms when they saw the colors going up, probably because 80 percent of our city’s population are chromophobes,” he says. “There was a massive fright—letters to the editor, editorials in the paper.”

In fact, The Indianapolis Star later said that the building had been called “a pigeon coop” and that it appeared “ready to fall on its knees.” As far as Glaser’s mural—which has faded considerably over time—motorists were known to shout their disapproval to the construction crew even before it was completed.

Any focus on the building’s appearance puzzles Woollen today. “It’s not meant to be a pretty building,” he says. “It’s meant to do an important mission in terms of enclosing the Indiana War Memorial Plaza.” He anticipated that—as with European plazas—other buildings would come along and ensure that the Federal Building didn’t stick out so much. “We realized we were leaving a blob out there, but we thought it would eventually come together,” he says. “It hasn’t yet.”
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If you dig architecture in general, and especially if you dig Indianapolis architecture in particular (dude also designed Clowes Hall at Butler U.) the whole linked story is definitely worth a read.
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Door knocks and shoe leather.

I was sitting in the office, still in my PJ's at a little after ten on this Saturday morning, while Bobbi was whipping herself up some breakfast in the kitchen, also in sleepwear and bathrobe, when there came a knocking at the front door.

Grumble, grumble...

"I'll handle it!", I called out.

I shuffled to the front door and stood tiptoe to peek through the small fan light window high in the door. There was a vaguely familiar-looking middle-age white dude on the porch wearing some kind of logo'ed polo...

Normally, being still in my pajamas, this would involve that awkward one-hand-behind-my-back conversation through a cracked door. Thanks to the developments from yesterday's post, though, I had both hands free.

I cracked the door just enough to admit my head so I could talk, and one foot so Huck couldn't insert himself annoyingly into the space between the front door and the security door.

The knocker was our state senator, out grinding the shoe leather and dropping off surveys.

Similarly, I recollect our state rep out doing the same thing once. That time, it turned into a thirty minute conversation, since when he strolled up, I'd been sitting on my front porch talking to The Democrat Next Door and she, being fairly involved in local politics, knew our rep rather well.

It's the little incidents like this that remind me that the country is run by the people who show up.

You wanna affect things? You need to show up*.

"Bitching on the internet", notably, does not qualify as showing up.


*And I don't just mean "vote", because that's the lowest-effort tier, but actually get involved. Volunteering as a poll worker would be an easy start, for instance, and would let you meet the people who actually are showing up at your local level.
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Friday, September 06, 2019

Downtown...

Easy Rider

Smith & Wesson 43C: It weighs only twelve ounces with a full cylinder of eight CCI Mini Mags and a set of DeSantis Clip Grips. As an experiment, I installed the clip grips yesterday evening to see if the setup was light enough to work in the waistband of my pyjama bottoms.

I was surprised to discover that it works peachy keen. This setup, then would seem to be a great solution for the person who wants to lounge around the house in gym shorts or sweatpants but not be one of those people who keeps guns stashed all over their home. I dunno that it'd work for any activity more strenuous than typical around the house chores, but I took out the trash, loaded the dishwasher, fetched stuff from the basement, and never felt like the gun was in the way or likely to dislodge itself.

Props to Claude, Mark, and John for the idea.
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Language Policing

Last month, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to institute a new "person first" language policy in their jails, courts, and law enforcement agencies:
"Going forward, what was once called a convicted felon or an offender released from jail will be a “formerly incarcerated person,” or a “justice-involved” person or simply a “returning resident.”

Parolees and people on criminal probation will be referred to as a “person on parole,” or “person under supervision.”
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The same Board of Supervisors recently passed another resolution, regarding the NRA, declaring it a terrorist organization:
"Nor is the resolution isolated to NRA leadership. While it states that the leadership “promotes extremist positions, in defiance of the views of a majority of its membership,” it also states that “any individual or member of an organization” commits a terrorist act by giving support to a group that this person “reasonably should know” gives “material support” to any “individual [who] has committed or plans to commit a terrorist act.” It closes the noose around NRA members’ necks by stating that the NRA “promote[s] gun ownership and incite[s] gun owners to acts of violence.” Congratulations, average NRA member: Your $30 one-year membership makes you a terrorist."
Point of Order: By the San Francisco Board of Supervisors own "person first" language edict, I am not a terrorist, I am a "terror-involved individual".
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Thursday, September 05, 2019

Meatless "meat" products expand.

So Hormel and Kellogg's subsidiary Morningstar Farms have both jumped into the fake meat biz. Hormel's line will be called "Happy Little Plants" which seems twee, yet a little weird. Are you telling me that plants are happy about getting smooshed up and eaten?

Kellogg's, on the other hand, apparently conducted all their focus grouping with Dad Jokes support groups, because their marketing department decided that "Incogmeato"would make a swell product name.

Ohhh-kay, then...

I can understand the fake meat thing for people who decided to veg out for dietary reasons, but where I don't get it is for people who've abandoned eating meat for ethical reasons. If you're not eating meat because you think it's unethical to eat animal flesh, then fake animal flesh is as creepy as fake "long pig".
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I can't pass it without snapping a pic...


This little Ducati just lights my fuse, man. I'd put up with a lot of mechanical fussiness to be able to putter around Broad Ripple of a crisp fall day on that thing.


I was pedaling past on the Broad Ripple SUV, and happened to have the Nikon D700 & Nikkor 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6 VR along, so I hopped off to get a better photo than the somewhat potato ones I'd already taken of it with various pocket cams.

Speaking of the Broad Ripple SUV, I was pulling it out for a ride early this summer and noticed that the leather on the saddle had worn through in one spot. "What the hell?" I thought, "This is my new bike!"

And then I thought it over and realized that I bought this bike ten years ago this month.
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Wednesday, September 04, 2019

You won't need a bigger boat...



A private yacht larger than a World War Two USN destroyer, it's got its own submarine and tender in the well deck, and space for two helos and an SUV in the vehicle garage.

You could have your own amphibious assault ship like a proper Bond villain.
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Monday, September 02, 2019

The Boys Are Back in Town



Bobbi and I watched the first episode of Amazon's superhero trope-subversion series The Boys over dinner tonight.

Well, she'd already seen the whole season, but was willing to watch through it again with me. (That's a good sign.)

The blogger review I read kinda liked it but seemed to be disturbed by gratuitous violence and inappropriate dark humor, which are two things that told me this would be right in my wheelhouse. I was not disappointed. Looking forward to bingeing the bejeezus out of this.
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Sunday! Sunday!

Sunday I went to the range with two hundred and twenty-six rounds already loaded in magazines and worked on getting some speed back, experimenting with pointers I'd picked up from Scott and John in gun school over the last several weeks.


Sunday, September 01, 2019

Range Day Friday

Friday morning saw me at Indy Arms Co. with a pair of review guns for Shooting Illustrated.

Both the Zev OZ 9 and the IWI Masada ran fine. Stay tuned.
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Saturday, August 31, 2019

Change in the Weather?


So, this morning when the news came on, the predictions for the track of hurricane had shifted. Instead of a beeline for the center of the Florida peninsula, the new prediction called for Dorian to take a sharp right turn and track north along the coast for several hundred miles.

Some of my friends on Facebook were jubilant, claiming that God had heard their prayers and diverted the hurricane away from them.

They seemed confused when it was pointed out that, were their claims true, they had prayed the hurricane away from them and right into the residents of the Carolina coast, which seems like kind of a dick move.

Relatedly: Short form social media is maybe not the best outlet for complex technical topics.

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Friday, August 30, 2019

Obsolete

Everybody's favorite hyperbolic camera shill, Ken Rockwell, wrote a piece a while back called "Future Trash", about the built-in obsolescence of digital cameras.
"Digital cameras are consumable, disposable and perishable commodities like milk, film or gasoline. Buy them if you have photos to make today and don't expect them to have value in three years. Contrast this to film gear which was a durable good more like investing in gold. Of course times change, and just as the value of gold drops if replaced by a better technology so have 35mm film cameras.

I'm the biggest cheapskate around and have been for over 30 years. I always buy my film cameras used when I can. For instance I just bought a used medium format panoramic camera system in 2005 for $5,000. New it would have been over $12,000. So why do I always buy new digital cameras, even when I know they'll be worthless for resale in three years?
"
It's a subject with onion-like layers, though.

For starters, no digital camera is as durable an artifact as a true all-mechanical, all metal camera. My Leica IIIb is eighty years old and completely repairable, restorable, & rebuildable, short of something completely destructive like getting run over (in which case the salvageable bits could be used to repair, restore, or rebuild other old mechanical Leica III's.)


Contrast that with late film cameras like the Nikon 8008's that I've binned simply because they had untraceable electronic issues that prevented them from turning on, Nikon no longer supports them, and frankly I'm not going to spend a ton of effort on a plasticky '90s bit of electronica that's worth $20 in perfect working order.

As for Ken's statements about the built-in obsolescence of digital cameras, and how they were advancing in capability so fast that buying an old one to save money made no sense, it was reasonably true...in 2006 or 2008. Digital camera technology was still in its relative infancy and was advancing by leaps and bounds.

Sure, in 2008 you could buy a six-year-old pro body for about the same price as a current consumer DSLR, but sensor technology and other basic camera functions had come so far in that time that there was no point.

This, however, is no longer true.


If you bought a ten-year-old pro digital camera in 2010, you were buying a camera that bordered on experimental. The Nikon 1Dx or Canon EOS 1D use finicky and obsolete battery technology and when they debuted early in the new millenniums, they were breaking new ground in trying to mate up still relatively new digital imaging sensors with well-established SLR camera hardware.

Conversely, if you buy a ten-year-old pro digital camera in 2019, you're buying fairly mature technology. Ten years ago, pro DSLRs were already good enough to film scenes for Hollywood blockbusters. Cameras like the D700 or EOS 5D Mark II differ from their current iterations a lot less than they do from their predecessors.

Now, while a DSLR is not the durable artifact that an all-mechanical camera is, a pro body from Nikon or Canon has a lot of shooting in it. A D700 can have more than a million shutter actuations in it. That's a lot of shooting. And, frankly, I get more joy out of shooting my 5D Mark II than my M6, despite the latter having a more modern sensor and an image processor three generations newer. (Not that the M6 isn't a ton of fun, and more likely to be with me because much smaller.)

So, as long as you stick to about 2008/2009 or newer, there's not as much reason to avoid the used DSLR market as there used to be, at least for the higher-spec bodies.
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Thursday, August 29, 2019

Rise of the Machines

Sketchy...



Translation: "I reacted hotheadedly in the moment and realized that walking to meet the schoolbus with a rifle in hand made me look like a barking loony, so...uh...it was coyotes. Yeah, that's it! Coyotes!"
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Near the Flagpole + White Woman = National News

It's a hundred and thirteen to ninety-three, by the way. Homicides in 2019 so far, that is, in Washington DC and Indianapolis, respectively. Given that Naptown has 160k+ more people than the nation's capital, that's not good news for the District.

What's funnier is that it was hard to get those numbers, due to the actual topic of this post.

See, I'm gonna go out on a limb and bet a statistical majority of those 113 dead bodies have been young Aftican-American men in the sketchier portions of town. Looking at the murder map tends to bear out the geographic clustering of the murders, like in most cities. Wherever you live, you probably know where the "bad side of town is" where all the murder happens. (The area I refer to as "Thirty-Whatth and What?" here in Indy.) There is a serious and complicated crime problem in the 'hood.

But trying to get to that data was made difficult this morning because "murder Washington DC" kept turning up results to a story that even made local news here: A white woman was stabbed to death walking a dog in the Green Zone.

It's weird, the calculus that determines what's national news and what's not. I'm sure bodies were getting stacked as usual last night in bad neighborhoods across the country, but a white woman getting stabbed at random in a nice neighborhood near the national media's bifurcated NYC/DC flagpole cracks into my local news here in flyover country.
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Trying to get off to a quicker start this morning.

After two cans of Monster Zero Ultra it's probably time to throttle back to something like black coffee.

I've got a bunch of backlogged writing to do, a lawn to mow, and I need to squeak in a range trip this morning, too.

I've been suffering from a bad tendency to languish in bed reading in the mornings; working from home can lead to this attitude where I'm like "Well, I don't have to commute, so I can just lay here in my PJs and shamble down the hall to the office at the last minute." That needs to stop, hence the forcing myself upright and overcaffeination. I reckon I'll keep doing that until old habits reassert themselves; I used to get a ton of writing done by 8AM.
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Not an angle I'd have expected...

"The federal mandate today is to create a completely safe school environment. The US Department of Education in August 2010 declared the goal of eliminating bullying from schools. In many states, schools will be denied No Child Left Behind funding if they fail to demonstrate that they have guaranteed students' safety from bullying. Children cannot concentrate when they live in fear of bullies, and they deserve a school environment free of fear. Therefore, it is our responsibility to provide them with a completely safe school environment. School staff are now required to constantly monitor children’s social lives to prevent any bullying from occurring. Many schools are eliminating recess and shortening lunch periods to prevent the chance of children hurting each other. Some schools have forbidden all physical contact among children, teaching them to high-five each other without touching and to play the game of tag by stepping on each other’s shadows rather than tagging their bodies. Some school districts are hiring “recess coaches” to make sure that an adult is constantly supervising students’ play activity."
When articles in Psychology Today are talking about the negative outcomes fostered by aggressive anti-bullying policies and zero tolerance for physical contact in schools, it might be worth stepping back and reassessing them.
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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Force of habit at this point, really...

Today marks fourteen years now that I've had this silly stock Blogger template.

That's a lot in dog years, let alone blog years.
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The Motor Law

 Well, the red one's not a barchetta...

...and the barchetta's not red, but either way I would be entirely up to LARP'ing some old Rush songs if this sort of silliness were to go down here:
"If you’re any kind of a car enthusiast, or you just think the personal automobile is a terrific transportation device, this news has got to be chilling. The cross-party Science and Technology Select Committee of Parliament has issued a report that says that if the United Kingdom is to reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050, private automobile and truck ownership must end.

Oh, and if you think your morally pure Tesla or some other EV is going to protect your privilege for personal transportation, no, the environmental Jacobins are coming for all privately operated motor vehicles.
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Look, I like living in a walkable neighborhood. I use a bicycle as an actual grocery-fetching vehicle (eight months out of the year or so). I take Uber to the airport, and am stoked about the new Red Line faux trolley service that is being put in just blocks from my house that will have busses rolling by every ten minutes to whisk me downtown and back.

But America in general, outside of a few dozen urban cores, is not set up like that. Further, I still need a car when I want to venture to the burbs to visit friends or drive to a class or go to the range or whatever. For better or worse, we are wedded to private vehicle ownership for the foreseeable future. And I like it that way, because private vehicles are freedom machines. That makes some people itch, though.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

It's the Jitterbug camera!



Hey, old people! Do you find computers and electronics confusing? Do you miss getting fingerprints on badly machine-printed 4x6" glossies? Then, boy, does whatever Third World company that currently owns the Vivitar name have a deal for you!

Ironically, this commercial was made in 2010. Several of the digital cameras I use regularly are older than that, like the D700 I was shooting at the State Fair this year...



Carrington Event

Since it happened on this date in 1859, the huge geomagnetic storm caused by the planet getting centerpunched by a solar coronal mass ejection didn't fry any computers. It did electrocute some telegraph operators, though.
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Monday, August 26, 2019

The Desert of the Unreal...




The blogger at Leicaphilia has been on a well-written tear lately about the shredding of photography's almost unique position as an art form that was also archival, documentary.

Nowadays we have this photo of Chuck, taken with an EOS 5D Mark II and an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS lens...
Now, that digital image was captured in RAW format and run through minimal post-processing. Basically I employed the auto lens correction button and auto light/level balance button to the RAW image in Photoshop to get a .jpeg for internet use.

But one of the most common ways for people to consume photos these days is Instagram, which has a dozen or so preset filters, including one that mimics the look of cross-processed film...

Now we have a digital approximation of a thing that has been manipulated in a way to approximate an actual analog capture of a thing that was processed mistakenly.

Now add a filter site like Prisma...


Photographic proof?
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