Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Automotif CXLVII...

While I wouldn't call it a "daily driver", this '61 Falcon gets driven to work by its owner a couple days a week during the non-road-salt months.

Pretty sure this is driven by the same owner...

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Hard to keep up with the arguments...

Monday, July 29, 2019

Overheard in the Office...

RX: "Do you like cold fried chicken?"

Me: "No, cold fried chicken is blasphemy."

RX: "It is not!"

Me: "It is, too. If it weren't, the books of the Bible would go something like 'Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Cold Fried Chicken,  Deuteronomy..."

What is it good for?

This is absolutely the coolest firearm acronym ever.

The adventuring life...

Martin & Osa Johnson travelled all over the world from 1917 to 1936 making documentary films in locations like Borneo and Kenya.

They got their pilot's licenses and bought a couple of Sikorsky flying boats in the early Thirties and were the first people to fly over Kilimanjaro and film it from the air.

Now I want to track down a copy of Among the Cannibal Isles of the South Seas.

Slow to develop...

In the early Eighties, with Detroit reeling from the second fuel crisis, Pontiac decided to redirect a stalled design for a mid-engine two-seat sports car (frivolous things like sports cars not selling well in recessions when gas is at record high prices) and re-focus it as a little two-seater commuter runabout. It would be cheap & fuel efficient, a good second car for families or an only car for singles.

To maximize the "cheap" part, the bulk of the car was built by raiding existing GM parts bins. The front suspension was from the Chevette, the rear was a Chevy Citation front clip flipped wrong-way 'round, and the motor was a wheezy pushrod 4-cyl making less than ninety horsepower.

After initial success, people realized it was a dog and buyers stayed away. Pontiac applied numerous upgrades: a port fuel-injected V6, new front and rear suspension, and a slick Getrag-designed 5-speed gearbox. By the final model year, 1988, the Fiero GT was a slick little car, but it was too late to overcome the initial impressions, and GM held it under until the bubbles stopped.

If the Pontiac Fiero were a camera...

Hey, let's look at Canon's first effort at a mirrorless camera, the EOS M!

Despite being about the same size as Nikon's J1 offering, the M had a DSLR-sized APS-C sensor. With its 18MP APS-C sensor and DIGIC 5 processor, it was basically a Canon EOS Rebel T4i, minus the mirror box and pentamirror. Effectively, you were just using Live View all the time.

Initial excitement about a pocket-size DSLR equivalent that would be able to use all EF and EF-S lenses with native functionality (via an adaptor) quickly cooled when the implications of "using Live View all the time" were realized. Focusing was sluggish, and "pocket DSLR" dreams died quickly.

On top of that was the weird control setup...

Much like Nikon's 1 series, the target market seemed to be people who wanted to move up from smartphones or pocket cameras, but found the knobs and dials of DSLRs too intimidating. (This demographic has proven to be largely illusory, or at least much tinier than hoped.)

Accordingly, the controls were super simplified. There was a three-position selector on top for selecting between fully automatic operation, a position that allowed you to select between what Canon calls "Basic Zone" and "Creative Zone" modes, and a dedicated video-shooting position.

The problem was that to select between any of those Basic and Creative modes, and make adjustments once you were in one, you had to fiddle around on the touchscreen. And if you were one of those unicorns moving up from smatphones/pocket cams, and did decide that this whole interchangeable lens thing was cool and wanted to move on to a Rebel or a prosumer-tier Canon, none of these controls translated over to the standard Canon layout.

Canon's issued steady upgrades to the M line and the current standard model, the 24MP EOS M6, features a standard mode dial and a pair of control wheels so you can move back and forth pretty seamlessly between it and Canon's regular DSLRs. The screen will at least flip up for vlogging or work as a waist-level finder now, and a built-in flash has been added. Most importantly, the camera now has Canon's fast dual-pixel autofocus.

Whether any of this is enough to save the M line is up for debate. Canon introduced a pair of new M-mount lenses in early 2016, and then one more early last year...which is a polite way of saying that only one new lens has been added to the smallish M-mount library in the last three years. The M6 is a sweet little camera, especially with the 22mm f/2 pancake mounted, and being able to serve as an emergency backup body to a real DSLR on a photo shoot is neat, but the reputation earned by the early version of the M might just make it Canon's Fiero.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

I did not know that...

Apparently Evansville, Indiana has a pretty nice little zoo. It's about ten acres smaller than Indianapolis's own (relatively modest) zoo, and houses 200 species to Indy's 320, but it's actually older, having been founded in 1928, well before Indianapolis's post-WWII zoo.

The only downside to visiting is that I'd probably want to overnight there. Evansville is the state's third most populous city, located down in the toe of the state. (The "toe" being in the southwest corner near the confluence of the Wabash and Ohio rivers.) Until I-69 gets completed, it's sort of in "you can't get there from here" territory for day trips from Indianapolis.

This is wonderful...

I can't tell which was the better video clip I saw this weekend: This, or the trailer for Zombieland 2.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

"It's alive!" (Part Two)

Driving the Mustang makes me realize just how long it had been since I drove a car with a live rear axle, especially one with any real wheaties.

There was that year I spent with the '84 Trans Am in 2000-2001, and before that...I guess my ex's Plymouth Duster? So...1993?

I'd read car magazine road tests back in the Nineties and wonder why they constantly griped about the solid rear axle in the pony cars of the day. "What difference would an independent rear suspension make?", I'd wonder.

Now, when I'm driving the Zed and the Mustang, yeah, that's really noticeable. Especially under throttle, when you hit a bump in a turn with one rear wheel and the whole back end of the car's gotta involve itself in the process.

There's an interesting article on why it took the Mustang so long to get an independent rear suspension here.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

"It's alive!" (Part One)

Finished all the paperwork to get this done today, simply because it tickled my sense of whimsy.

Indiana allows the use of "year of manufacture" license plates on a vehicle that qualifies via a simple checklist. Since this is just a fun car for the occasional roadtrip or weekend rumble to the ice cream shop (the Zed Drei is still my daily driver for gas mileage reasons) I paid the tariff.

Still, since this is the very newest Mustang...and the first year of this body qualify for the year-of-manufacture plates, I'll be keeping my papers handy any time I go runabout in it for the next year or three. I'm just happy the "Amber Waves of Grain" plate matches the car so well.

EDIT: Also waiting for the inevitable "Those are 1996 taillights!" emails. Yeah, I know they are. The originals are dumb-looking and in a box someplace.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Automotif CXLVI...

1986-1991 BMW M3. This original E30 version was referred to as the "batmobile" for the bulging fender flares and prominent rear wing.

This was the only version of the M3 to use a four-banger motor. At the time, ~200bhp from a normally-aspirated four-cylinder was kind of a big deal.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The attraction of "portrait mode".

The advent of the iPhone 7 plus and its "portrait mode" in 2016 introduced the wider general public to a new word: bokeh.

Using distance info gleaned from the phone's dual cameras, and a bit of computational wizardry, the phone would blur the background of a portrait subject.

iPhone 7 plus generated "bokeh" of Huck. Notice that in simulating the bokeh, the phone camera vanished his whiskers entirely. Subsequent software and hardware updates have improved the appearance of "fauxkeh", but you still see occasional bloopers.
This gave the photo a "pro" look for reasons that most people couldn't put their finger on, but the cause is due to the way the in-focus areas (known as depth of field or "DoF" in photography jargon) of a picture are determined.

Basically, the smaller the sensor and the smaller the aperture relative to it, the less background blur (or bokeh) you're going to get at normal portrait distances. And cell phone cameras and point&shoots have tiny sensors and relatively small apertures. Generally, the only way you'd see significant background blur in a head-and-shoulders portrait would be with a DSLR-sized sensor, so those sorts of photos got subliminally tagged as "taken with an expensive-ish camera by someone who at least considers photography a bit of a hobby."

Huck shot with a Fujifilm X-E1, which has an APS-C sized sensor, like you'd find in a DSLR, using a Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 lens shot wide open.
With the sensors found in P&S cameras and cell phones, background blur usually only shows up significantly in extreme closeups (or "macro mode", the little green flower button you want to push for taking pictures of bitty things up close.)

If you've seen older manual focus camera lenses, that is, by the way, what that hockey rink's worth of painted lines are for. On some lenses, Nikon even color-coded them to make reading them easier. If you look at the zoom lens below, you'll notice the aperture numbers are color-coded. If you set the aperture and then focus the lens on an object, the two colored lines will point to the nearest and farthest in-focus distances on the lens's distance scale.

Shooting versus shooting (versus shooting?)

Mike at The Online Photographer talks about how long he's shot film versus how long he's shot digital, and he makes an interesting delineation in noting that, while he really caught the photography bug in 1980, he'd been taking pictures for nearly a dozen years before that.

That resonated with me, because while I started working in a photo lab in '90 and all my "serious photography stuff" happened between 1990 and 1993, I grew up with a camera around.

Dad worked in camera stores most of my childhood, and the first film I remember exposing was a roll of black and white Instamatic film on a field trip to the U-505 in first grade. I'd received the little GAF, with its very Seventies woodgrain trim for birthday or Christmas, and most of that first roll consisted of badly flash-burned pictures of the back of the classmate ahead of me in line as we shuffled through the submarine display at the museum.

In high school I'd graduated to some simple 35mm so I could bore people with vacation slides, and I took a darkroom class, but the only time I would have labeled photography as a hobby was that stretch from '90 through the very beginning of '93. Those were the years I had access to free processing, as well as employee discounts on film and printing. It's easy to forget, these days, that each press of the shutter button used to have an actual price tag.

Similarly, while I got my first digital camera in 2001, I wouldn't have described photography as any sort of hobby. I labored along with a series of point-and-shoots until taking the plunge on a couple of cheap used Rebel bodies in 2013.

But then I also started dabbling with film again back in 2015...

So that's twenty-two years with film, with maybe seven of it serious, and eighteen with digital, and six of that being serious.

Canon EOS 7D, EF 24-105mm f/4L IS
It's much the same way I look at the arc of my gun-owning/shooting. I have owned firearms since I turned eighteen, but the arc of my real growth as a shooter didn't begin until probably 2010 or so, when I really began seeking training and taking dry-fire practice seriously.

Monday, July 22, 2019

This looks interesting...

There's a kickstarter out there for a digital back for old medium-format film cameras.

The sensor itself is bitty, and I don't know what kind of internal optical path the back uses to avoid ridiculous focal length multipliers, but it might be fun to play with if one had an old Bronica or suchlike lying about.

Sunday, July 21, 2019


So, my usual Sunday morning entertainment of local news followed by Meet the Press was bumped off the air by some big game of pasture pool over in the British Isles today.

I channel-surfed around for a bit and watched This Week With George Stephanopolopolopolous and Face the Nation and then accidentally wound up watching a Space: 1999 marathon on CometTV.

I couldn't tear myself away, it was that bad. I remember liking it, but I guess eight-year-old me was pretty easily impressed.

On the other hand, it's ready made for some home-improv MST3K silliness with your friends. Bobbi and I laughed ourselves silly a few times.

Friday, July 19, 2019

The difference between H. sap and Harambe...

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 XQ1...

Alas, my little Fuji XQ1 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.