Friday, July 19, 2019

Tab Clearing...

Delayed Launch

Zora Arkus-Duntov started work on the CERV-II, which hinted at an at least semi-production mid-engine Corvette in the future in 1963, the year after John F. Kennedy made his "Moon Speech".

This year we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the moon landing...and we're finally, really getting the mid-engine Corvette.

While the mid-engine C8 has been no secret for about a year now, probably the biggest surprise at the official launch is that Chevy's holding the price of the base model to around $60k, same as the current edition.

(When the rumors first floated, there was even speculation that the mid-engine version would be some separate super-'Vette with a stratospheric price tag and that a front-engine model would soldier on as a sort of entry-level model.)

I feel the need, the need to squee!

This looks like just my sort of big, dumb summer fun.

Off tackle left on three worked well last time, so just run the same play again.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Because that's not creepy at all...

"Elon Musk wants to insert Bluetooth-enabled implants into your brain..."
Okay, look. You can leave your cell phone at home if you want to go out and get up to shenanigans (although idiots go get their crime on with their GPS-enabled tracking devices in their pockets all the time).

You can unplug Alexa , and you can put tape over the camera on your laptop, but how you gonna pop out your brain implant if you feel the need to get your mischief on? Your Juggalo makeup may foil the facial ID camera, but your built-in Bluetooth headset is gonna give the game away.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Hey, look!

Two articles in RECOIL Concealment this issue...

Also, if you don't want to drive to Walgreens or Books A Million or wherever, Concealment is apparently now available via regular subscription straight to your mailbox.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Back at it again...

One thing I discovered at the range last weekend was that my ability to control the trigger at speed had gone to hell, and my recoil control had suffered, too.

While the desultory dry-firing I've been doing at my desk over the last couple months has kept my slow-fire accuracy from going completely to hell, there's no way to improve recoil control or resetting  during recoil and prepping as the sights settle without busting actual caps.

Seven yards, and struggling at a pace that would have been dawdling at this time in 2017; mostly .35-.45 splits. Nothing for it but to get back at it...

(For some reason I reversed the guns in that pic. The lower fifty rounds were with the Grayguns P30L, the upper fifty with the Grayguns SP2022.)

Monday, July 15, 2019


The comment regarding Grossman in this post is echoed by too many people I know who have valid, cross-referenced body-stacking credentials for me to ignore it.
I don't know what video games Rwandan teens were playing to get them over their reluctance to chop up fellow humans with machetes, or what movies Cain watched to help him overcome his inborn resistance to killing Abel...and neither does Grossman. Humans have been easily...almost casually...killing other humans for as long as there have been other humans to kill. Lose your illusions.

How I Spent My Weekend...

Spent the weekend at Deer Creek Conservation Club up in the Greater Gas City-Marion Metropolitan Axis taking a pair of one-day classes from Scott Jedlinski of Modern Samurai Project.

Day One was "AIWB Concealed: The Path to Performance", and Day Two was a 1-day version of his  red dot pistol class.

I haven't done any serious shooting (especially from the holster) for way too long and it showed. I haven't had this much of a "drinking from the fire hose" feeling since Todd's Speed Kills/Get SOM weekend back years ago. Scott's a talented and introspective shooter and a good coach; I'll be doing a detailed writeup of the class soon.

Anyway, I learned a ton, and I need to start incorporating things I learned into my own practice...and I need to get back to doing at least some practicing. These skills ain't gonna just ingrain themselves.


From Elsewhere:
"We need to do a post-apocalyptic RPG but, instead of dungeons, you have the basements of suburbia. Instead of helmet-wearing orcs using rusty scimitars and greasy crossbows to guard bolts of silk looted from passing merchant caravans and chests of silver pieces, you have fedora-wearing weebs using flea market katanas and Tapco'ed WASRs to guard their Japanese f@$kpillows and boxes of half-painted WH40K minis."

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Is de Blasio safe?!?

From Elsewhere:
"Dude, both MSNBC *and* Fox News are wall-to-wall coverage about 44,000 Manhattanites needing to use flashlights and candles. 
I'm currently in Marion, Indiana...a city of some 30,000 souls...and it would draw less non-stop TV coverage if it got wiped off the f@$king map right now. 
Jesus Christ, let something happen close to the flagpole in NYFC, and these reporters just lose their tiny little minds."

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Hunt for Red Coke-tober

I swear to heaven I thought he was saying "Halt-o Chewbacca!" for a second there.

I'm not sure how willing I'd be to pilot a semisubmersible in the open sea like that. And I wonder what the range is? Does that thing have the legs to make it to Florida from wherever, or do they get launched from a tender over the horizon someplace?

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Automotif CXLV...

Spotted this lovely right-hand-drive 1952 Bentley Mk VI parked up out front of the ice cream parlor over at 56th & Illinois at lunchtime today. Fortunately the wee little Panasonic GM1 was in my shirt pocket.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

"...and You'll Only Drink Milk From a Christian Cow"

I've made discoveries of heretofore-unknown-to-me literary genres at Half Price Books before:

"Men Who Lost Their Shirt", for example, was apparently a well-defined subcategory, if you'll excuse the obvious pun.

Yesterday, while dropping off another load of books, I wandered the aisles and stumbled across this:

"Those books were almost certainly printed on electric-powered printing presses," was my first thought, followed by "And the covers sure are colorful and decorative...", those being attributes that the Amish aren't generally known for embracing.

It turns out that the novels aren't written by the Amish, nor are they written for an Amish audience. Instead, they are targeted at a fairly specific demographic, over-50 Evangelical women, offering a chaste romance tale with a happy ending and in a setting guaranteed to have nothing pornographic or impure, like an uncovered ankle.

It's a weird kind of cultural appropriation that nests inside the larger movement of Christian fiction, which is a thing that, like Christian rock* and Christian video games, allows one to line the pockets of fellow believers rather than heathens**.

I'm not sure how I feel about that stuff, looking back. I'm sure much of it is well-intentioned, but a lot of it seems like an attempt to pawn off substandard dreck knowing it will be bought by a ready-made captive audience if you slap the "Christian" label on it.

*Somewhere around here I have a Petra album...Beat the System, on vinyl...that I stood in line at the local Christian bookstore to get autographed as a teen. I remember the band members seemed so edgy in their parachute pants...

**This line, like the title of the post, inspired by a Steve Taylor song...


This can be taken two ways...

The camera industry took a 22% hit in units shipped for 2018, according to a Japanese business publication, which makes it sound like nobody wants cameras.

Yet it's a safe bet to say that probably more photos were taken in 2018 than in any other single year in human history, and Instagram is one of the most popular sites on the internet.

So I guess cameras are selling fine, it's just that most people want a convenient one with a phone attached.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Border Crossing

A post shared by Tamara Keel (@tamarakeel) on

Smoke in the heavens, caused by fires in Canada, is making colorful streamers in the sunset here in central Indiana...

Alas, Poor XF1...

Alas, my little Fuji XF1 has succumbed to the overexposure problems they're known for. Apparently, at any focal length other than the widest, the aperture blades have a bad habit of getting stuck wide open.

It's a shame, because on paper, it's nearly the perfect camera nerd's pocket digicam: The lens collapses down so the whole thing's the size of a deck of cards, it's got a full-on PASM dial, shoots RAW, has a big (for a pocket cam) 2/3" sensor, and a 24-105mm equivalent f/1.8-4.9 lens.

The fatal flaw in the aperture mechanism (and Fuji's washing their hands of the whole mess) leaves it a Do Not Recommend from me.

I can't in good conscience try and sell it on, so I'm finna have to do the equivalent of tossing a C-note in the trash can. At least I got a few good pics out of it.

The most recent successor, the XQ2, has a lens that doesn't seem to suffer from the sticking aperture issue, but that's going to have to wait until I'm less poor.

Swalwell bails...

Seeing some high-fives and sack dances in social media over the news that Swalwell dropped out of the Dem primaries yesterday. This is understandable, I guess, considering that my social circles are fairly gun-centric and Swalwell gave this parting note to reporters:
While Swalwell would not formally endorse any one Democrat on Monday, he told Burnett that his support will hinge on the candidates' work to combat gun violence. 
"I'm going to take some time, I'm going to be looking at who will elevate the issue of gun violence as their top issue, and to promise Americans that we don't have to live this way," he said.
So, yeah, when he'd basically tried to stake his position as The Anti-Gun Guy, there's gonna be some gloating when he chokes...

But, seriously, there was literally zero chance of this guy winding up on any potential Democratic ticket next November. The media was tepid about him and he had hardly any name recognition outside the circles of gun owners who accused him of threatening to nuke flyover country.

That tweet did make for chucklesome headlines today, though...

Monday, July 08, 2019

From Elsewhere...

Fast Radio Burst

Scientists have located the origin point of a fast radio burst, from outside our galaxy. What causes these radio bursts?
"Meanwhile, the mystery behind the cause of fast radio bursts remains, causing speculation. 
People love to believe that they're from an advanced extraterrestrial civilization, and this hypothesis hasn't been ruled out entirely by researchers at Breakthrough Listen, a scientific research program dedicated to finding evidence of intelligent life in the universe."
The thing is, see, that it comes from a galaxy 7.9 billion light years from ours, so that even if it is a message from an intelligent civilization, they almost certainly uploaded all their brains into the matrix, or nuked themselves into oblivion, 7.89 billion years ago.

If you think that the transmission delay is annoyingly bad when it's Christiane Amanpour reporting from Jalalabad, that's tiddlywinks compared to this. A CNN correspondent would have to hold their hand to their ear and nod robotically for 4.15224e+15 minutes before answering Anderson Cooper's question about what life is like amongst the methane breathing silicon creatures. You'd have time to get a beer and go to the bathroom without missing the answer.

Big Lizard in My Back Yard

With the Everglades overrun with so many pythons that bounty hunters are...well, being paid bounties to hunt them, Florida has decided to get serious about other invasive reptile species as well.

Florida Man (and Florida Woman, too!) has been cleared hot to go after the state's iguana population wherever it may be found.

Apparently the lizards are not only incredibly fecund, but they poop everyplace, transmit salmonella, and devour the herbaceous borders. Also, their burrows threaten pavement and foundations.

Friday, July 05, 2019


Cool photos of Tankfest 2019 may be found here.

Go nerd out like I did!

The far side of nowhere...

A lava lake was just discovered, one of only eight on the planet that we know of. The reason it was just discovered is because it's on Saunders Island in the South Sandwich Islands.

Saunders Island is a frigid volcano poking up out of the south Atlantic. It's hundreds of miles from anyplace you'd call "inhabited", and calling South Georgia Island "inhabited" rates air quotes because nobody actually lives there permanently, other than Shackleton's corpse; there's just a seasonally fluctuating crew of scientists, meteorologists, and government officials keeping an eye on the Patagonian toothfish harvest. (There's also the ruins of a whaling station that'd make a killer first-person shooter map, and actually was the location of a multiplayer first-person shooter between Argentinians and Royal Marines.)

Anyway, the nearest thing you'd call an airfield to Saunders Island is clean off in the Falklands, so it's not like you could just ask a passing plane to look into the summit of the 3k'+ volcano, and discovery of the lava lake needed to be done by satellite.

Working well so far...

My new 9-to-5 social media blackout (more or less), combined with banishing it from bedtime use, means that I'm not only more productive writing, but I'm also getting back into the swing of reading. Not only did I finish Marko's new novel and re-read The Enemy Stars, but I decided to re-read William Gibson's Bridge trilogy, and am about half done with Virtual Light.

This'll probably be my fourth or fifth read-through of the first book, since I read it when it came out and again when each of the subsequent books were released and maybe again later. However, these three are probably my favorite Gibson story arc, and definitely contain some of my favorite characters of his.

The weirdest traffic jam I've seen.

So, one of my occasional diversions is roaming the interior regions of America using a combination of Wikipedia and Google's satellite map & Street View features.

Not long ago I was "flying" over Clark, South Dakota* and noticed something weird on the western outskirts of town. It looked like a formation of cars out in a field, and it was too far from the road to be a used car lot, plus the cars were all the same color...

Maximum resolution in the satellite view wasn't enough to solve the riddle, and a "drive by" with Street View didn't clear anything up, either, so it was off to the Google search engine armed with little more than "cars, field, Clark South Dakota, US HWY 212".

The result turned up the answer...
"You’re catching a driveby glimpse of Ken Bell’s Conversation Pieces, one of those abstract interjections you’ll discover any time you make tracks across the Northern Plains. The Parade, as Bell calls the LTD procession, is where it all started."
Huh. It might be one of the largest collections of orange '76 Ford LTD's in private hands!

*Hometown of Urban Odson, a first-round pick in the '42 NFL draft who played 44 games for the Green Bay Packers from '46-'49 after serving in the Navy during WWII. Some of the Wikipedia pages for these little towns are full of nuggets from local history buffs, and others are hilarious puff pieces written by someone from the local Chamber of Commerce, but both are preferable to the dull nothing-but-basic-facts Wiki template pages.

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Happy Independence Day!

George III never had a cheeseburger this good. Also, my eyes were bigger than my tummy.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

That went by too quickly...

I finished off Aftershocks in bed last night, about ten PM or so. That went by entirely too quickly.

Unlike the Frontlines books, which are told entirely through the eyes of the protagonist, this new series has multiple viewpoint characters. The overall tenor is almost as if David Drake (at about the At Any Price point in his career) wrote a story in the setting of The Expanse.

I enjoyed it immensely and can't wait for the next one.

That pink thingie...

Sig P320 Compact with Grayguns trigger, Boresight Solutions frame, and Dawson Precision sights.
In addition to the purple Dark Star Gear P320 holster, you might notice that my usual black UpLULA mag loader has been replaced by a brightly-colored pink one.

There's a story.

I keep two range bags in the trunk of my car, one is the big GPS backpack that has...well, everything in it: timer, laser rangefinder, pasters, stapler, spare staples, spare eye pro, blowout kit, boo-boo kit, bug spray, sun screen, extras of most everything, and a partridge in a pear tree. This is the outdoor range & gun school range bag.

The other "range bag" is a gimme bag from the Sig Sauer booth at SHOT or NRAAM a few years ago, and it's mostly used to haul my indoor ear pro, an UpLULA, pocket blowout kit & TQ, and that day's ammunition back and forth from the trunk to the firing line at Indy Arms Co.

Now, for the last several years, I've had two UpLULAs: One on my desk and one for the range bag. One day the other week, I forgot the loader in the other range bag and decided to just bite the bullet on a third, so that now I have one at my desk and one for each range bag. The bright color? They're a lot less likely to walk off that way, especially because a lot of dudes seem to be allergic to pink in a way they aren't to bright yellow or safety orange.

Now I just need to remember to swap out the black one in the GPS range bag for the raspberry one on my desk.

Today In History: Unfriendly Fire

On this date in 1940, the Royal Navy took the French battle fleet under fire while it was anchored in its base at Mers-el-Kébir in French Algeria.

This was biggest and best-known part of Operation Catapult, the British attempt to seize or disable French warships to keep them from falling into the hands of the Nazi war machine after the Armistice  between the French and their German invaders was signed June 22nd.

Back in Britain, French ships in the harbors at Plymouth and Portsmouth were boarded and taken under British control, sometimes after armed resistance. The commander of the French flotilla in Alexandria, Egypt agreed to disarm his ships and stay in port. Only at Mers-el-Kébir did negotiations fall apart, resulting in the Hood, Valiant, and Resolution shelling the bejeezus out of the anchored French battleships, along with torpedo and mine attacks from aircraft flying from HMS Ark Royal.

Some 1,300 French sailors and officers were killed, a thousand of them on the pre-WWI dreadnought Bretagne, which suffered a magazine explosion after multiple direct hits from the Brits' 15" guns, rolled over and sank.

This did nothing good for Anglo-French relations, as you may imagine.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

A Stopped Clock is Right Twice a Day

"The rush to respond to a social ill with control, with extra rules and procedures, with the commanding power of the state, has been typical of American policy making in the postwar period, and especially since the 1970s. And whatever specific arguments may have justified a command-and-control response to crime, this kind of response reared its head for every major political problem encountered by Baby Boomers: housing, jobs, education, crime, and, of course, debt."
This being The Atlantic, the observation is not followed through to the logical conclusion.

Pop Will Eat Itself

"In “Trashing: The Dark Side of Sisterhood,” a 1976 Ms. magazine article, Jo Freeman described how feminists of her generation destroyed one another. Trashing, she wrote, is “accomplished by making you feel that your very existence is inimical to the Movement and that nothing can change this short of ceasing to exist. These feelings are reinforced when you are isolated from your friends as they become convinced that their association with you is similarly inimical to the Movement and to themselves. Any support of you will taint them…. You are reduced to a mere parody of your previous self.”"
Purity spirals and public draggings are nothing new, the internet just lets them be done faster and more efficiently.

Monday, July 01, 2019

Finally back to the range...


Last night I finished up re-reading The Enemy Stars, by Poul Anderson, while lying in bed. I'd forgotten what a good book that is; I knocked it out in three sittings. For a six-decade old work, it holds up remarkably well.

I was up late because Bobbi had been called in to work to fix something, and so it was just past midnight as I finished reading Anderson's '59 Hugo Award nominee.

Because it was just past midnight, just as I closed The Enemy Stars, a new book popped up in my Kindle library like magic: It was release day for Marko's new novel, Aftershocks. This is the first book in a whole new series, set in a different universe than his Frontlines series.

As a result, it was after 2AM before I finally drifted off to sleep...

Poor Choice of Backstop

One of the most fraught things a private citizen with a CCW permit can do is insert their firearm into a third-party situation.

I mean, if you wanted to make a safest-possible, best-practice rule of thumb, the boilerplate answer would be "Just don't ever do it." But that's not practical because decent people want to help other decent people when they're in trouble. So all I can say is "Be really really sure of the situation and your capabilities, and understand what you are risking by getting involved."

There are tons of scenarios you can use to illustrate the "be really really sure of the situation" portion of this:

  • You come across a big, fit-looking 20-something dude who is straddling a smaller, slightly older guy and giving him a pounding...but what you don't know is that before you rounded the corner, the older guy had been trying to rob the younger guy at knifepoint, and got the tables turned on him.

  • There's a woman screaming "Help! Rape!" as a bigger man wrestles her into a car in the Kwik-E-Mart parking lot...but you don't realize she's being arrested by a plainclothes detective for having stabbed her boyfriend and lit his double-wide on fire thirty minutes ago.

This is all stuff worth pondering before you commit yourself to jumping into a third-party confrontation. You and I don't have qualified immunity because jumping into third-party situations ain't our job, and gunfire isn't covered by Good Samaritan laws the way CPR or a pressure dressing is. I say it, and I say it, until I'm blue in the face: Your toter's permit is not a Batman badge.

Knowing when to make something your business is a learned skill.
The other thing to be really really sure of is your capabilities.

On the near northwest side of Indianapolis last Friday evening, the police went to pull a car over, and it didn't stop, triggering a short pursuit. When the car came to a stop on a side street, one of the passengers bailed and took off on foot.

One of the neighborhood residents, seeing Sumdood running down his street with the police in pursuit, decided that the best way to help was to whip out his blaster and start shooting at Sumdood.

He missed, of course, and instead one of his bullets struck an eleven-year-old girl in a house across the street. We don't know yet how much his overestimation of his capabilities, ignorance of the situation, and poor choice of backstop is going to cost him, but it won't be cheap.

He didn't know why the cops were chasing the guy; it could have been for shoplifting, which ain't a shooting offense. And how much experience did he have shooting running targets at 15-25 yards with a pistol? (Spoiler: It ain't easy.)

All I know is that everybody involved (except this guy's lawyer) wishes he'd just left his gun alone in the holster.

Even the most seemingly clear-cut situations can be fraught.

Remember the Indiana woman who shot the dude who was wrestling with the Fish Cop in her front yard? The dude was getting the best of the DNR officer and it likely would have wound up with the cop getting shot with his own gun if the woman hadn't grabbed a pistol and shot the perp off the supine officer.

Well, the perp died and some bottom-feeder came along and helped the dead guy's family file a suit against the IN DNR, the officer, and the woman. It wasn't dropped until earlier this year.

Fortunately, a law was passed here in Indiana that would prevent that suit from being filed today, but these are things worth thinking about.

Know what your triggers are ahead of time. In other words, "If thus-and-such, I'm going to be a good witness, but if I see this other thing, then I know it's time to go to guns." Having done that, make sure you have the skills and abilities to do good work if those conditions are met.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Eight Legged Tentacled Freaks

Didja hear about the octopus that was miffed by the bright light over its tank and so would short it out with well-aimed water jets? For fun, it would juggle hermit crabs, which probably stressed the hermit crabs out.

In other octopode news, it appears that their central nervous system is distributed such that their tentacles are capable of rather a lot of autonomous action without needing to pester the brain for instructions.

From an Away Game...

Someone asked me why I made a certain comment about Ken Rockwell's gear reviews, specifically a comparison he'd done on the Nikon D700 vs. the Canon 5D Mark II.

I replied...
Aside from his normal reviews which are superlative-laden, as you noted, this "comparison" has its own special Ken-ness... 
An example would be "The D700 is sturdier but heavier, while the 5D Mark II is lighter, but flimsier." Flimsier? Everything's written in clickbait-y language.

In order to understand Ken's language, you have to understand that most people do not read reviews or comparisons to make buying decisions. People read reviews and comparisons to justify the impulse buying decision *they already made*.

If someone googles "
Is the CaNikon D9000 Mark X a [sucky/good] camera?", it's because they're sitting there at home with a freshly-unboxed CaNikon D9000 Mark X in their lap, needing something to do while the battery charges, and they're trying to assuage that tickle of buyer's remorse creeping into the edge of their psyche.

This holds for cameras, lenses, guns, cars, et cetera.
If you bought one or another of those cameras, the review will convince you that you probably made the right choice and the other camera is ate up with fatal flaws.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Automotif CXLIV...

I mean, it's true...

Rannie update...

The vet's office called with her blood work results today. Her kidney function was no worse and apparently her pancreas is showing its age a bit, but nothing alarming.

Abdominal ultrasound will be scheduled for this week.

It's the only play in the book...

Imagine if the TSA was in charge of administering health care at the VA using the DMV's customer service model.

Now imagine the whole world like that.

The Thousand Dollar Book...

So, I've been finishing up a second read-through of Straight Talk on Armed Defense: What the Experts Want You to Know, and I'm still impressed at what a useful compendium Mas Ayoob has put together here.

Mas wrote a book back in the Eighties, The Truth About Self Protection, that was a wide-ranging overview on the topic. Rather than a gun-fondling manual comparing foot-pounds and magazine capacities, it was full of practical lifestyle advice, from mindset tips to comparisons of deadbolt brands. (I mean, there was some gun stuff, too, but it wasn't the majority of the book.)

I asked him a couple years ago why he hadn't written an updated version, and he allowed as how putting together the research on such disparate topics and cramming into even a chubby 400+ page paperback to meet a promised deadline was an experience he wouldn't wish on anyone again. However, he suggested that I look into this newer book, as it was something of a spiritual successor to the old work. Best of all, he had, talked some subject matter experts into submitting chapters on their fields of expertise.

Having shelled out my own hard-earned coin to learn from some of these folks, I can attest to the worth of the material.

John Hearne has turned the study of performance under pressure into an avocation. His presentation on the topic at Tac-Con or Paul-E-Palooza now stretches to an eight-hour lecture, and none of it dull. Basically John was curious as to why some people seem to just go to pieces under stress while others execute basic skills with mechanical precision, and the research he's uncovered on the topic of "overlearning", the importance of recency, and other factors is fascinating stuff.

The chapter he contributed, "Inside the Defender's Head", is a great intro to his findings.

Craig Douglas of Shivworks should need no introduction. His chapter, "The Criminal Assault Paradigm" is more or less extracted from a part of the lecture portion of his 2.5-day ECQC curriculum. It dives into the "how criminal assaults happen", and the key elements that are almost universal among them. (Hint: They rarely involve a stationary criminal squared up to you 21 feet away, yelling "Hey, throw your wallet over here!" followed by an electronic "BEEEEP!".)

Another contributor whose material I can't laud enough is William Aprill of Aprill Risk Consulting. At this point I've sat through...let me check my chart...some twenty hours or so of his various lectures. At the most recent class I attended, I was so sure I'd heard the material before that I cockily didn't bring pen and paper...and found myself frantically taking five pages of notes via the touchscreen keyboard on my iPad.

You'll find some of that material in the chapter he contributed: "Violent Actors/Violent Acts: A Conceptual and Practical Overview".

Mas himself contributed a chapter entitled "The Armed Lifestyle", which touches on a lot of territory, both legal and practical, that people don't consider when they apply for that toter's permit and decide to go strapped in their day-to-day life.

The chapter on "Finding Relevant Training" was written by Tom Givens, a dude who has provided more than his fair share of such. In it, he offers some thoughts on what to look for in the background of your prospective firearms trainer as well as their course curriculum and judging its suitability for your day-to-day needs.

One of the most interesting chapters is by "Spencer Blue", a dude I've met but who's contributing pseudonymously out of necessity. Having spent time as a major crimes detective for a large urban agency, he's built up a tremendous case file of incidents where armed citizens resisted violent criminals. Best of all, he's filtered out the obvious criminal-on-criminal, domestic violence, gang-related incidents and other obviously targeted incidents to give a look at the actual outcomes of random street crimes and what worked and what didn't when citizens resisted.

The book is definitely worth the asking price, especially when you consider how much it would cost to get the material delivered to you as separate power point presentations.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Poor Old Cat

Rannie has had kidney issues for a while now.

I'd hoped that last Friday's horrible nighttime vomiting incident was just the occasional normal bout of cat horking triggered by a combination of a hairball and overindulging at the water dish or food bowl, but she seemed worse over the last few days.

She was barely picking at her food, not drinking regularly, and seemed to be having a hard time pooping. This was pretty similar to the situation that had her taken to the vet in January.

During January's vet visit, the doc explained this was a likely consequence of a flare-up of her kidney issues. They gave her subcutaneous fluids and sent her home with a prescription for Miralax and Gabapentin.

So, this morning it was off to the vet again for Miss Wu.

She was poked and prodded and palpated. The vet said that her colon didn't feel full, but there was something she was feeling up in her intestines that the vet didn't like the feel of. At all.

An ultrasound was scheduled for early next week and subcutaneous fluids were administered, but I know the sound of a vet who's hinting that I'm not going to like the results of the ultrasound, yet trying to not sound too negative until she's sure.

When she got home, Rannie perked up a bit from the fluids, and was cuddly and affectionate for a bit, before heading to the futon to curl up on a quilt.

We'll see how she does with dinner here in a bit.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Faux Fujifilm...

Given the nature of eBay and other more-or-less global marketplaces, this is worth passing along if you're a retro film-shooting hipster like me...

Apparently there's fake "Fujifilm" circulating out there. Worse, it's a 35mm movie film stock that can't be processed in C41 and could contaminate the chemistry if someone tried.

The Shallows

As far back as 2013 I noted how my reading was being impacted by the fact that I was doing most of it via the Kindle app on an iPad.
"[T]he difference between reading on the iPad and reading a regular book is that on the Apple product, the distraction machine is built right in. Reading a history book and encounter something that tickles your hindbrain? Wikipedia is a button press and screen touch away! And while you're in there, better check your Facebook and Twitter, and see if anybody's posted in that forum thread you replied to, and your email account just chimed, and... where were we? Oh, yeah... page three. Still."
In and of itself, ebook technology is a marvel; your whole library in your pocket!

But avoiding the distraction machine is hard. Worse, the distraction machine itself alters the way you think.

When your job requires extended focus, especially on a creative task, for hours at a stretch, tearing your mind away every fifteen minutes to chime in on a Twitter conversation or answer an email can really put a stick in the spokes. Marko threw his hands up and punched out of social media pretty much altogether. I don't blame him at all.

Unlike Marko, FB is still my primary means of communication with rather a few far-flung friends. (Twitter was never a problem for me, because I use it as a repository of throwaway one-liners and don't keep a feed open all day.)

I tend not to have really strong reactions to people being dumb on the internet; if they're annoying enough I just block them. But I definitely noticed the corrosive effect on my focus and concentration. How do I keep up with those friends and not see myself reduced to a rat obsessively checking Facebook for that latest food pellet reward?

A couple days ago I decided that there'd be no social media from 9-5, and when I hit the bed every night, it's just books and no Bookface. I've done pretty good so far. I was weak at lunch on Tuesday and spent five minutes looking at FB before shaming myself into closing it.

It's kinda like quitting smoking in some ways, in that there are a lot of linked behaviors. Sit on the toilet and out comes the smartphone; "My thumb was headed for the icon all by itself" is the digital "I had the lighter out and the cigarette halfway to my lips".

In that time I've written more, including more of the multi-paragraph blog posts of the sort I used to write. I've read an entire novel for fun in the last two days, something I hadn't done in eons. (Master and God by Lindsey Davis. Highly recommend.)

If this holds up, it should do wonders for productivity, which in turn should help with the endless funk in which I've found myself mired. I can still jump in for a quick FB discussion in the evenings or in the morning over coffee, and the people who need to get in touch with me during the day know how to do that.

I'll let y'all know how this experiment goes...

Island of Misfit Toys...

Boy, if you thought the opening rounds of the 2016 GOP primaries were a veritable Lollapalooza of longshots, weirdos, and narcissists, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

I hadn't intended to watch Wednesday night's session, since Thursday (featuring Harris, Sanders, Biden, and Buttigieg) looked more interesting. I'm glad I did, though, because there was at least one moment that was like Tumblr Come To Life.

For the most part, there weren't many surprises. Klobuchar was composed but bland and staked out the Sensible Centrist position (Delaney kept trying to, but his inability to shut up didn't help him) while most of the rest of the stage galloped hard to the left. Gabbard came across as very genuine, which unfortunately tends to translate as "bad on television". Beto took a beating at the hands of Castro.

But the mayor of NYFC managed to come across as a stereotype of a New York F#&@ing City mayor. In addition to running over time on nearly every question, he interrupted every chance he got, and then had the unmitigated gall to drop this howler:
Something that sets me apart from all my colleagues running in this race and that is for the last 21 years I’ve been raising a black son in America,” said de Blasio, who is white, referencing his son, Dante. “I have had to have very, very serious talks with my son…including how to deal with the fact that he has to take special caution.
Cory Booker was visible in the shot and just going off his facial expression, I was kinda worried dude wouldn't be able to finish the debate due to having bitten his tongue off. I think the moderators lost a shot at great television by missing the expression that flashed across Booker's features and not immediately allowing him to rebut.

Twitter, predictably & justifiably, lost its collective mind...

Wednesday, June 26, 2019


To get an idea of the field of view represented by the Hubble Ultra Deep Field Photograph, go out under the night sky, find a blank piece of blackness between the stars...
"...take two pins or sewing needles and, at arm's length, cross them. The small square where the two pins overlap is approximately the visual area represented by the Hubble Ultra Deep Field photograph."
Wonderful and awesome in the most literal senses of the words.

It still makes me chuckle...

The opposite of a polar vortex?

I guess this is a "Equatorial Burp"...

I do not think that word means what you think it means.

According to Aquiles Hopkins, president of the Confederation of Associations of Agricultural Producers of Venezuela, national production currently covers only 15%–20% of the country’s consumption needs. “Socialism is what you have in Norway, in Finland,” said Hopkins during an interview in his office in Caracas. “This is an autocracy.”
No, socialism is not what you have in Norway and Finland. What you have in Norway and Finland is largely capitalism with generous social safety nets and public services supported by very high taxes on extremely productive economies (and North Sea oil revenues in the case of the former.)

This can work okay in a culture with strong social taboos against both ostentation and freeloading. How well it can continue to work with large influxes of people who don't have those same taboos remains to be seen.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

I warned you! But would you listen?

"We identify monkey stone tools between 2,400 and 3,000 years old and, on the basis of metric and damage patterns, demonstrate that capuchin food processing changed between [approximately] 2,400 and 300 years ago, and between [roughly] 100 years ago and the present day."
Right now they've progressed from using little bits of quartz to get at the good parts of seeds and fruit to using bigger rocks to crack cashews. What happens when they progress to even bigger stones to eat people's faces?!?

This moves them up the threat matrix past vampires and werewolves to rough parity with killer space robots. At this rate, they'll be passing pirates and ninjas before you know it.
"If the monkeys follow a similar evolutionary process to humans, they will develop nuclear weapons at some point after the year 3,500,000.

We’re glad to report that the nightmare scenario of (another) nuke-crazed ape species running wild on our planet is unlikely to come to pass."

Odd Vessel

The above is an air-lock diving bell plant, a self-propelled barge that would putter around Gibraltar harbor and lower a caisson to the seafloor.  Workers could climb down that central shaft and install or maintain anchor points for Royal Navy warships in the rocky seabed while working in shirtsleeves.

Pretty funky.

Ripple Effects...

So, the first gun shop I worked at did probably 90% of its business with two wholesalers.

Chattanooga Shooting Supplies provided most of our ammo and a regularly restocked consumables like cleaning supplies. They weren't the cheapest on a strictly per-unit basis, but their truck came by once a week and kicked the boxes off and the convenience and savings on shipping for heavy items made up for that.

The other was Ellett Brothers, whose tagline "As Big As All Outdoors" was descriptive of their inventory. They carried pretty much everything. That's a lot of creditors...

Still Running the Bluff...

Given the mountain of evidence that Chicago authorities have released, either Smollet is the cheekiest individual to walk the face of the earth, or he's pathological.

"Alright, Jussie, let's see them cards. I'm calling your bluff."

Jussie smiles confidently and fans three cards out on the table in front of him.

"Okay, let's see here... You've got 'Black', and 'Bisexual' and...wait, this isn't a card! You've just taken a 3x5 piece of cardboard and written 'VICTIM' on it in crayon!"

Not blinking, Jussie continues to smile and radiate confidence...

Today In History: "Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of police action!"

On this date, sixty-nine years ago, North Korean troops launched attacks across the 38th parallel, triggering U.S. involvement in the first of our many post-WW2 not-a-wars.

Our military, shrunken from its WW2 size, was oriented on Europe and mostly configured with an eye toward nuclear combat, toe-to-toe with the Russkies.

Our initial response was haphazard and piecemeal, and included the stinging defeat of Task Force Smith, followed up by the 24th Division's HQ getting overrun and its commander captured by the Norks. The 24th Division's resistance at Taejon likely did buy time to get enough troops into Pusan to fortify the perimeter, though.

It was not the most auspicious of starts.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Automotif CXLIII...

In a video review of the original Viper RT/10, I remember Brock Yates quipping "You have to wonder how they got all that power out of only 488 cubic inches..."

In the years since, I've occasionally encountered writings from motor journalists who hail from the other side of the pond lamenting that the Viper could eke more power from less displacement by using this or that technique...all of which misses the point that the whole idea behind the Viper is that nothing exceeds like excess.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Pew! Pew! Pew! Pew! Pew!

A proper Viking sendoff will have an open range.

It was a long and bittersweet, happy/sad day today.

There's a common saying that states if you want to know how irreplaceable you are, look what happens if you put your finger in a bucket of water and pull it out.

"See how long it took for the water to fill the hole left by your finger?" goes the theory, "Well, that's how irreplaceable you are."

Today was a reminder that it takes longer for the water to fill in some people's absences than others.

Friday, June 21, 2019

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream...

I was awakened at 3AM by the sound of my elderly cat, Rannie, being violently ill somewhere in the house.

I found multiple sites where she had horked on the floor and cleaned those up and, deciding I was a little parched, had a can of diet ginger ale & lemonade before flopping back into the bed.

I tried to get back to sleep to no avail. Not even reading through the last few chapters of Russian Roulette could help me doze off, and I had barely drifted back to sleep when the alarm went off.

Despite having vowed to not laze about in bed this morning, there was no way I was going to try to function on that short rest, so I set alarms on the iPad for 7AM and 8AM and figured to get another hour or two of sleep.

This let me drift into a vivid and lengthy-seeming dream, one part of which involved staying in a hotel where the rooms were just depressions in the tops of this really tall mesa, connected by winding arroyos that served as hallways.

At one point I was trying to take a shortcut from one room to another by going from the "balcony" to the "balcony", which essentially meant hand-over-handing across a 90-degree inside corner over a yawning drop to the ground below. This is obviously something I would only do in a dream.

Anyhow, I got my foot stuck in a crevice and, as I was pondering how to get it unstuck without plummeting to my death, I woke up. So that was convenient.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Tomorrow Afternoon...

The 2020 race kicks off...

"Our Radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice, and rage. They want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country, as we know it."

POTUS was on the stump last night at a rally, talking about the platoon of Democratic Party candidates fixing to duke it out...

How To Social Media (and How Not To)

This is the best timeline...

Hi Point set up a “Name Our New Gun” contest on social media. “YC-9”, for “Yeet Cannon”, got the most votes.

So they put up a short list of finalists, and “YC-9” wasn’t on there. The backlash on Hi-Point’s FB page was swift, and included this post from HK USA’s official account:

Bonus: Check where the web address "" resolves...

HK USA's social media game is fire.

PS: Hi-Point, I absolutely would buy a "Yeet Cannon 9".

Monday, June 17, 2019

Taste Sensation...

In all these years, I had never tried the Italian beef at Fat Dan's Chicago Deli before.

This past weekend, they had a French dip sandwich, and it was delicious. Today I went there for lunch and ordered an Italian beef, hold the giardiniera peppers and add Swiss cheese. The result was an excellent French dip!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Investments for Hard Times...

Automotif CLXII...

1964 Chevrolet El Camino, photographed with Nikon D700.
I've always had a fondness for the various weird open-bed car/trucks. Rancheros and El Caminos, Rampages and Rabbits...

When I saw this super-straight 2nd Gen El Camino as we were leaving the parking lot at Target today, I asked Bobbi if she would stop and let me hop out to take its picture, and she kindly obliged.

Considering that she'd also sat patiently at Half Price Books while we waited on them to tally up an offer for the several boxes of books I'd brought in, this was above and beyond the call.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

...and then the realization hit me...

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Neighbor & Puppers

Spotted waiting these happy puppers keeping their hooman company outside the local Fresh Market the other day. Photographed with Ilford Pan F Plus 50 film in a Nikon N80 with a 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-D.

Zero-Sum Politics: Team Sport Edition

Had a range day yesterday morning...

...mostly for photographing stuff.

The SBR'd Sig Sauer MPX with the Romeo 8T sight is a hoot.

I tried some different things, moving a bit out of my comfort zone taking photos. For this one, instead of standing off with the 24-105mm f/4L IS USM* or even farther out with the 70-200mm, I got all up in his space with the wide-angle zoom (an old 17-35mm f/2.8L) and got shooter, gun, and target all in the frame.

I think for long guns shooting reactive targets, especially, this technique could turn out some neat shots and I'm anxious to play with it more. I'm wanting to get the shooter, shotgun, ejected shell, and busted clay all in a shot...

*The 24-105 is rapidly becoming one of my favorite lenses. It's great on a full-frame body, but even on a crop-sensor Canon it's got a pretty useful focal range, becoming the equivalent of a 38-168. That's goes from the wide end of "normal" to a reasonably useful telephoto on the long end. For the sorts of photography I usually do around the neighborhood, it's actually better on a crop sensor.