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.


Friday, August 30, 2019


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 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 D1X 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.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Rise of the Machines


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, was coyotes. Yeah, that's it! Coyotes!"

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.
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.

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?

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Chicken Wars?

Everyone going on about Wendy’s chicken sammich or the one from that Catholic chicken joint, Pope Yes...

Look, I’m a pretentious hipster foodie douchebag who generally doesn’t eat at chain restaurants of the sit-down type, let alone fast food joints. I’ll make an exception for Chick-Fil-A.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Overheard at the Gun Show...

I was trying to explain to a younger friend today what a weird scene the Applied Violence Community (for lack of a better umbrella term to encompass armed and unarmed combatives) was from 1990-2000.
"The US military had seen barely two weeks, total, of ground combat since 1973. MMA hadn't really taken off yet. You didn't carry the internet around in your pocket so you could fact check bullshit claims.

You think stolen valor, PX heroes, fabricated tough guy backgrounds, and bullshit kung fu woo-woo run rampant today? It's nothing compared to back then.

This is a thing I don't get. I'm not any kinda badass; I'm just a writer who goes out to learn stuff and then report back what I learned. I don't understand the whole wannabe-sensei thing.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Probably the coolest thing ASP makes...

The Key Defender is a neat little gizmo, but best reserved for people who are physically fit and have some hand-to-hand skills. It's a tiny spay vial with three-ish shots of a fairly short range cone-type spray.

The range problem is common to the smallest form factors of OC spray, like the little keychain size unit in the picture below. It can be mitigated some by going with a stream instead of a spray, but then you have to aim better to walk it across the eyes. Get an inert trainer and take some test shots so you have an idea of how far the thing will shoot and what the pattern looks like.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Back home again in Indiana...

While the drive out to Topeka wasn't brutal, I benefitted by gaining an hour, and I hadn't just spent two days in class.

On the return trip, I decided to exploit my Holiday Inn loyalty status by snagging a discounted hotel room halfway home. This meant I could depart Topeka late enough to miss morning rush hour and get into Wentzville, MO on the far west side of Saint Louis before evening rush hour started there. Then Tuesday morning I could make another leisurely departure and roll into Indy somewhere around 2:30-3:30 in the afternoon.

Along about Effingham, halfway across Illinois, the sky got ugly. Shortly after that, it opened up into an apocalyptic downpour. From Effingham to Terre Haute, I-70 occasionally slowed to a 40mph crawl as I tried to squint through rain that was like like a cow peeing on a flat rock just to see the taillights of the car ahead of mine.

I pulled off at Terre Haute to get gas, and got back on the interstate. It was only raining within normal parameters until I got to the I-465 perimeter highway around Indianapolis. From there into downtown Indy it was again raining streetcars and taxicabs and I could barely see twenty feet in front of the car.

Siri then started chirping for me to bail on the interstate miles before I normally would. I resisted for one exit, but by the second, traffic on I-70 had slowed so much that I got off at the Harding Street exit, then had to resist Siri's blandishments as she kept trying to steer me through the geographically quickest route home...through some of the sketchiest neighborhoods in town.

"No thanks, Siri, I'll just cut over to Illinois on 16th and head north from there. I'm good."

The East Is Red

Everybody all over social media is all a-twitter (if you'll excuse the expression) over what the Chinese government is doing to protestors in Hong Kong. I'm all "Forget Hong Kong, look what the Chinese government did to Maverick's jacket! That's my childhood they're messing with!"

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

School Daze

Since I was already in Topeka for Handgun Tests and Standards, I stuck around for Chuck Haggard's OC Instructor class. I've sat in on Chuck's two-hour pepper spray blocks at Tac-Con and Paul-E-Palooza and it was apparent that he had so much info on the subject that he could barely cram some of it into two hours, so I was definitely interested in seeing what an 8-hour day would include.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Pet Peeves...

The phobia some cultures have for pocket knives, no matter how small or innocuous, is one of those things that just grinds me to a halt.

Dude, understand this: In the ancestry of H. sapiens are many different predecessors. Go back far enough and the genus name changes from Homo to Australopithecus.

Do you want to know the difference between Homo and Australopithecus? The former had the sense to carry around a sharpened rock against expected need, and that's what made them human.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Have you forgotten?

Why, yes. Yes, I have forgotten.

Every trip I forget something.

This trip I forgot my portable HDD, which I use for photo storage. Worse, I also forgot my CF card reader, so it looks like I won't get to play Photoshop until I get home tomorrow.

A long day on the range...

More tomorrow...

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Under the spreading chestnut tree...


The New Original Sin...

Do you know what causes Republicans? White people.
"At the core of the strategy is Trump’s consistent drumbeat of equating the white European immigrant experience with the American ideal, setting those on his side of the divide against the politically correct elites, outsiders, immigrants or nonwhites who he implies are unfairly threatening what is good about the country.

His strategy is sharply reminiscent of that waged by segregationist George Wallace in multiple presidential campaigns beginning in the 1960s. Republican candidates including Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush have since used milder variations of race-based politics to try to pry white voters from the Democratic Party.

But Trump has been notable for repeatedly saying out loud what earlier candidates merely hinted.

Do you know what causes gun violence and keeps us from passing those oft-referenced "sensible gun laws"? White people.
"White Americans’ attempt to defend their status in the racial hierarchy by opposing issues like gun control, healthcare expansion or public school funding ends up injuring themselves, as well as hurting people of color, Metzl argues.

The majority of America’s gun death victims are white men, and most of them die from self-inflicted gunshot wounds. In all, gun suicide claims the lives of 25,000 Americans each year.

White Americans are “dying for a cause”, he writes, even if their form of death is often “slow, excruciating, and invisible”.

Do you know what causes divisive discourse in this country? White people.
"As a white writer who writes extensively about race, I've been observing this situation closely since well before the 2016 election, and I've been dismayed by the unwillingness of so many of my white peers -- people who are personally horrified by Trump and his success -- to come to grips with what is happening in our country. Among white centrist Democrats and liberals there's been a great deal of talk about the importance of civility and free expression, and an explosion of anxiety about how the Democratic Party has lost touch with a monolithic entity called "the white working class." There's been much less discussion in the national press about the underlying political transformation that made Trump's election possible: the rapid growth in racial resentment and white nationalism as primary issues -- even single issues -- among conservative and right-leaning white Americans."

Interestingly, all three opinion columnists, as well as the quoted sociologist, Dr. Metzl, are whiter than sour cream, a fact for which they seem almost desperate to atone. This ain't healthy.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Holliday Park...

I visited Holliday Park today. I needed some sunshine and fresh air in my life...

Tuesday, August 13, 2019


The Today Show on the TV in the other room is doing a piece on bulletproof backpacks. The reporter just said, in an 'A-ha, gotcha!' tone of voice, "The manufacturers claim the backpacks will stop handgun bullets, but they don't claim that they can stop bullets from semiautomatic weapons like those used in recent shootings!"

Unpacking the levels of ignorance in this sort of reporting would be an all-day project.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Professional Camera

State Fair steak sandwich. Amateur camera in background.
It's a sign of the times, I guess, the level of security you pass through to get into the Indiana State Fair. There's an almost courthouse-like magnetometer arch and an accompanying table with a tray for your pocket detritus.

Bobbi and I pedaled down the Monon Rail Trail to get there, since the state fairgrounds are barely a dozen blocks away and bicycle parking is free. I left my blaster at home and, before I left the house, I swapped out the usual Spyderco Delica pocket knife I carry for opening boxes and such for a little Kershaw Chive, figuring it was as tiny and inoffensive a knife as you could imagine. At the last minute, I binned it, too, since I was planning on buying a flint or obsidian blade from the knapper in Pioneer Village. (Good thing, too. They wouldn't let Bobbi bring her normal-looking work pocket knife through the checkpoint).

When I got to the entrance to the fair, I noticed that the sign at the entrance said "aerosol sprays" were forbidden, too, so I put my pepper spray canister in the document pocket of my Royal Robbins overshirt along with my flashlight, and then pulled the shirt off and handed it through along with my camera before I stepped through the arch.

Despite the shirt being weighed down with cell phone, pen, notepad, flashlight, pepper spray, camera batteries, CF cards, and house keys, it cause not a single batted eye.

What did cause consternation was the camera.

The rent-a-cop looked at my Nikon D700 with its 24-120mm travel zoom on it, looked up at me, back down at the camera, and finally intoned "Professional cameras aren't allowed."

"Huh?" I replied, wittily.

"They don't want professional cameras. They have the rights to pictures," said the guard.

"Uh, that's not a professional camera, that's my camera."

"What are you taking pictures of?"

"I dunno. The fair? Tractors? Baby goats? Kids eating funnel cake?"

"But for what?"

"I dunno. For me? For my Facebook page? For the hell of it?"


"No, just a person with a camera."

"They don't want professional cameras."

"But it's not a professional camera! I'm not selling photographs!"

"It looks like a professional camera."

We have reached an age where any actual physical "camera" looks, to the great unwashed masses, as though you are there to shoot for Reuters or NatGeo. Never mind that the "professional camera" in question was a creaky antique, at least in digital camera terms, and was equaled in pixel count by the iPhone in my shirt pocket. In the smartphone era, "no camera" rules are at King Canute levels of ineffectuality.

He wound up letting me bring the camera in, albeit sullenly and reluctantly. I wonder what will happen when I return tomorrow?


Saturday, August 10, 2019

Start the conspiracy theories...

TV news just said that Epstein was found dead in his cell. Hasn't even hit yet.

Frankly, given the news of the last couple days, allowing him to have a bedsheet would have been bordering on criminal negligence.

Friday, August 09, 2019

It's that time of year again!

Case steam tractor that was running the sawmill. I don't know enough about these to be sure, but it's looking like a larger one. 80hp, maybe?

I guess running the steam engine is pretty fun.

 "Osha? Never heard of her."

I forgot to check for chestnut trees, spreading or otherwise.

Today's State Fair photography was done with the D700 & Nikkor 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G VR combo.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

This is weird...

The M1903 Mark I, M1917 Eddystone, and M1 Garand are all gone from my collection. I still have a bunch of .30-'06 ammunition, though, and the only rifle I have left to fire it is a Brazilian Mauser.

This is like how I no longer have the FAL, M1A, or HK91, and the only thing I have left to use up all this .308 is a Spanish FR8.

Automotif CXLVIII...

Late '70s MG Midget 1500, Nikon D700, Nikkor 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G VR

The Golden Hour lighting really loved on this car.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Overheard in the Checkout Line...

Dude at the store was keeping up on his homework on his laptop between the sparse weeknight customers. As he rings me up...
Me: "Hey, what's that sticker on your laptop lid?"

Him: "Hm? Oh, that's the symbol of my religion."

Me: *squints, jogs memory* "Oh, yeah! Sikh?"

Him: *beaming* "Yeah, Sikh! You know it?"

Me: "Dude, yeah. It's like the universe designed a religion I'd want for next-door neighbors. Rock on."

Things I didn't think I'd do today...

Among the things I didn't anticipate doing today: Nodding vigorously along to something I was reading in The Village Voice.
"You’ve also reduced yourself to a set of opposing views, and reduced your relationship with him to a fight between the two. The humanity has been reduced to nothingness and all that’s left in its place is an argument that can never really be won. And even if one side did win, it probably wouldn’t satisfy the deeper desire to be in a state of inflamed passionate conflict.

The world isn’t being destroyed by democrats or republicans, red or blue, liberal or conservative, religious or atheist — the world is being destroyed by one side believing the other side is destroying the world. The world is being hurt and damaged by one group of people believing they’re truly better people than the others who think differently.
I'm no shrink, nor do I play one on TV, but when each and every simple conversation with another human being is an existential struggle to be won or lost, that can't be good for your headspace.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Uncommon Sense on Mass Shootings

Neil deGrasse Tyson brought out statistics in an attempt to inject some perspective into an emotionally-charged situation, perhaps to calm fears...

Instead, all it did was rustle jimmies and Tyson wound up throwing himself on his, keyboard after a vicious public dragging, and apologized for not being properly triggered.

Claude Werner, the Tactical Professor, attempts to inject some common sense as well:
"As I’ve said for many years, if we were really concerned about nutballs going out and slaughtering people, every car in the country would have a mandatory breathalyzer interlock on the ignition. But that would inconvenience everyone, which is unacceptable even if it would save tens of thousands of lives every year. I’ve been accused of deflecting for saying that because it’s a fact that everyone wants to ignore. It would inconvenience everyone who drives at least twice a day and “ain’t nobody got time for that.”"
...but he has some words for Team Pro-Gun, too...
"Everyone should get training! As I’ve pointed out, there’s a serious numerical problem with the idea that everyone needs training. Folks who advocate that everyone needs training should do some research and then plug the numbers into Excel. It would take 500 years, that’s not a typo, to get everyone who owns a gun trained to even a mediocre level. The idea that those who carry a gun should be able to make a 25 yard head shot on an active killer is so far out of reach that I won’t even hazard a guess at how few people could be trained to that standard."
He's right. The idea that everyone's going to become a training hobbyist is as much a fantasyland as the anarcho-libertarian paradises in Freehold or The Probability Broach.

I'd like the world to be one where anybody intent on shooting up a Wally World will change their mind based on the sure knowledge that they'll get plugged in the back by a pink Kel-Tec wielded by Mrs. McGillicuddy, but this world is not yet that world, and likely never will be.

Most people don't get carry permits, and even those who do mostly don't carry their guns. The odds of a mass shooting are already like a lightning bolt or meteor strike. The odds of a mass shooting happening within 25 yards of a truly skilled shooter with a USPSA GM ticket or FAST coin* are "meteor strike in your back yard that goes through the hoop of the basketball goal in your driveway and gets nothing but net" rare.

That being said, it's important to understand that these things *do* happen, to have what William Aprill calls a "parking space" in your mind, so that you don't get killed by Normalcy Bias.
"It is critical that, not only do we learn to acknowledge that this shit does happen, every day, and can happen to us, we’re not going to be prepared for it when it does happen, regardless of how courageous we “think” we are, and how well armed we are. Courage isn’t manufactured into the gun. You’ve got to provide that on your own."
In order to avoid standing there like a duck in thunder, it's important to have plans available to pick from should you wind up in one of these freak occurrences. I have my plans. If there is gunfire, I am moving away from it, toward the nearest exit, which I have already located. (You do know where the nearest exit is from where you're sitting right now, right?) Only if there is no exit in a direction that is away from the gunfire, or the incident goes down right in my lap, do options involving my own blaster come into play.

Parenthetically, in the period of time after an incident like this, a lot of those people who don't normally carry and are seriously under/un-trained are going to dust off those permits and be running around jumping at shadows. I don't know I'd be walking across the parking lot of a suburban strip mall to the sporting goods store with an uncased long gun to get the scope bore-sighted for the next few weeks.

*The "truly skilled shooter" comment has also rustled some internet jimmies already. Like Tyson, I seem to have strayed from "my team's" Conventional Wisdom. Hey, look at the size of your typical big box store...let's take my local Meijer for an example. From the center checkout lanes to the  entrance/exit doors at either end of the front facade is over 25 yards. When was the last time you shot a moving B8 bullseye at that distance? And it wasn't shooting back, and there weren't screaming people running around between you and it. People develop some pretty elaborate fantasies around this. I'm not saying that there's nothing an armed citizen can do, but often your best course of action is to get the heck out of there.

When Everything Is Racist, Nothing Is

"Reaching deeper into his bag of bigotry, President Donald Trump hauled out some old tropes to describe Baltimore as a "disgusting rat and rodent infested mess" and "very dangerous & filthy."

Rodent. Rat. Infested. Filthy. Even casual students of history will recognize this vocabulary echoes the hateful terms used by notorious anti-Semites. Nazi propagandists used images of rats to depict Jews, and Nazi manuals -- such as "The Jew as World Parasite" -- described them as being "filthy." A Nazi film called "The Eternal Jew" drove the notion of infestation home, emphasizing Jewish-borne contagions.
The column is titled, "Just When You Think Trump Can't Sink Any Lower, He Does" but it could be titled "Just When You Think A Columnist Can't Overstretch Farther To REEEEEEEEEE!, He Does."

Sunday, August 04, 2019


A country where rampant drug armies leave headless corpses dangling from bridges like ghastly piñatas is hopping up on its moral high horse and "going to take legal action" over the El Paso Wally World shooting. Maybe you want to slow your roll there, Pedro, until you can keep tourists from getting shwacked in Cancun.

Causality error.

Oh, my god. You know the security camera footage of the shithead in Texas?

NBC News is blurring out the gun...but leaving his face clear.

Talk about getting cause and effect bass-ackwards.

Saturday, August 03, 2019

We've been over this before.

Say you want your own Wikipedia page. The easiest way to get one would be to...

  1. Find the cure to a horrible terminal disease,
  2. Train hard and win a gold medal in an Olympic event, or
  3. Buy a shitty Century Arms rifle and murder a bunch of suburbanites.

I swear to God, we know what the copycat effect is, but we fall all over ourselves to encourage these assholes because Jesus wept, will you look at the ad revenue?

I will bet cash money that more Americans know Lee Oswald's middle name than what the "F" in "JFK" stands for.


At the start of the State Fair every year, there's a hot air balloon race. The balloons all launch from the infield of the racetrack at the Fairgrounds.

With Roseholme Cottage being only a dozen or so blocks north of the Fairgrounds, they usually pass directly overhead or slightly to our east. Every year they manage to catch me by surprise because I'd forget to check when the race was scheduled to occur, and so I'd be walking out the door to go to the range with Shootin' Buddy and look up to see the sky overhead dotted with balloons and me without a camera.

Not this year, though! This year I checked ahead of time, and made sure I was out of bed and dressed this morning early enough to catch the 7:30AM launch. The 1Ds Mark II had memory cards and a freshly-charged battery in it and the 70-200mm lens mounted, and I grabbed it and ran out on the front lawn...

To be greeted by an empty sky.

Peering around, I finally spotted a balloon in a gap in the trees just over the peak of the next-door neighbor's roof.

Figures. The one year I was prepared, the winds aloft were carrying the balloons west-northwest from the Fairgrounds.

Ah, well... Next year.

Friday, August 02, 2019

Money Shot

Speaking as someone who photographs shooters, catching brass in the air still never fails to make me happy.

Whether it's just exiting the ejection port...

 ...or making a pretty rainbow arc in the air... never fails to elicit a smile. But if I were shooting a dude firing a carbine and then chimped the back of my camera to see the sight that greeted A1C Andrew Sarver in September of last year, I'd have come pretty close to decorating my cupcakes right on the spot.

That overgassed M4 sent the brass spinning forward to the shooter's two o'clock, and Sarver got the money shot.

Because it's been discussed so much, it's pretty highly placed in Google image search results for "M4 carbine". As a matter of fact, when I did that very image search to write this post, it's the highest-placed photo that actually shows a person firing an M4. As an added bonus, it's a .gov photo, which means it's public domain.

Which means that forever more, whenever some hand-wringing journalist is searching for an image of an M4 carbine, they're going to stumble across this handy, dramatic, free-to-use photo. Now, maybe they think that's actually something coming out of the end of the barrel, I don't know and it doesn't matter, because they're going to use it because it looks cool.

And when they use it, every smooth-brained gun dork on the internet comes bouncing out of the woodwork to show off how much they know about guns. "HA HA LIBTARDS! GUNS DON'T SHOOT BRASS! FAKE NEWS! PHOTOSHOP!"

I hate having to start the day with a headache...

Thursday, August 01, 2019

You keep using that word...

Editing a pile of photos from yesterday...

"No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!"

This timeline just keeps getting weirder. Turns out that not only was Epstein a squillionaire with a bad case of the short eye, he was a legit Bond villain:
On multiple occasions starting in the early 2000s, Mr. Epstein told scientists and businessmen about his ambitions to use his New Mexico ranch as a base where women would be inseminated with his sperm and would give birth to his babies, according to two award-winning scientists and an adviser to large companies and wealthy individuals, all of whom Mr. Epstein told about it.

It was not a secret. The adviser, for example, said he was told about the plans not only by Mr. Epstein, at a gathering at his Manhattan townhouse, but also by at least one prominent member of the business community. One of the scientists said Mr. Epstein divulged his idea in 2001 at a dinner at the same townhouse; the other recalled Mr. Epstein discussing it with him at a 2006 conference that he hosted in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands.

The idea struck all three as far-fetched and disturbing. There is no indication that it would have been against the law.

Once, at a dinner at Mr. Epstein’s mansion on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Mr. Lanier said he talked to a scientist who told him that Mr. Epstein’s goal was to have 20 women at a time impregnated at his 33,000-square-foot Zorro Ranch in a tiny town outside Santa Fe. Mr. Lanier said the scientist identified herself as working at NASA, but he did not remember her name.
It's like A View to a Kill meets The Boys From Brazil and no, the irony of the latter comparison is not lost on me.

It's weird observing the effects on people of reality-distorting accumulations of dough. Sometimes when people get enough money to do any damn thing they want, you get relatively benign results like Oprah Winfrey, and other times you wind up with this sort of Auric Goldfinger does the Neverland Ranch thing.