Thursday, October 31, 2019

"This is going to be a fighting ship..."

Is this actually the wreckage of the USS Johnston?

(If you haven't read The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy's Finest Hour, you're wrong, and you should take steps to fix that, soonest.)

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Poor kitty!

Interestingly, Rannie has always cried in the car all the way to and from the vet, a plaintive "Mew! Mew! Mew!" that we've termed the "Kitty Distress Beacon". It's distressing enough that I'm usually murmuring "It's okay, baby, we're almost there. Be a good kitty! You'll be okay!" while driving.

I don't know what it is about the Mustang, whether it's the engine note, or the absence of wind noise, or the different smell of the cloth upholstery versus the Zed's leather seats, or whatever, but Rannie rides quietly in the Mustang.

At the vet, Rannie is such a good patient that all the vet techs, as well as the doctor, fall all over themselves complementing her. Apparently many cats are a handful, especially with needles or thermometers, and try and run away or else try and eat the face of their tormenter. Rannie just huddles there and lets whatever is going to happen, happen, apparently aware that the less fuss she puts up, the quicker she'll be able to slither back into the carrier and go home.

Also, anybody who doubts that our feline and canine companions possess a basic awareness of what's going on has never observed the difference in trying to get a cat into a carrier to take them to the vet, versus getting them in the carrier at the vet to take them home. At home, I have to use guile, trickery, and sometimes main force to get Miss Wu into the carrier. Getting her out of the carrier at the vet is a similar production. But when her checkup is over? Just open the carrier and she will bolt right in, anxious to be whisked homeward.

Do you even use that thing?

I've blogged before about how I feel that a gun with a bellicose name like the "Wilson Combat CQB" or "Springfield Armory Professional" that looks like it never gets used deserves the epithet "Minnie Pearl gun".

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

That'll buff right out...

Fortunately the bus was practically empty. It could definitely have been more exciting if it had been full of people and all the stuff they tote along on the bus.

Monday, October 28, 2019

That didn’t take long...

Ever since the Red Line went into operation, College Avenue...or at least the portion of it closest to home...has been devoid of regular IndyGo buses.

The Red Line’s tandem buses are electric, which took some getting used to. For one thing, they step off right smartly from a standing start; you’ll want to be holding on to something. They get up to a pretty good head of steam, too, if they get a long stretch with no red lights. Lastly, they are freaky quiet, with just a sort of dynamo whine as they motor along, and they’re as quiet as a modern car sitting still. (I’m assuming there are various electrically powered compressors aboard for brakes and doors and climate control.)

It’s that last feature that came to mind most recently when I was sitting on the patio at 20 Tap and a regular diesel IPS school bus sat clattering away at the red light not twenty feet off. Jesus, those things seem loud all of a sudden...

Friday, October 25, 2019

This thing puts the REEEE in Ferrari.

QotD: Economies Of Scale Edition


In an era when you can video chat in real time with people pretty much anywhere on the planet, when Wikipedia is a click away and you can keep up with the news from foreign countries in real time, it's hard to imagine how far off and exotic the unknown lands over the horizon were for most of humanity's existence.

Everybody knows about Marco Polo's travels to far-off China, of course. A less well-known travelogue is that of the Greek philosopher Posidonius, who traveled from Rhodes to far-off Gaul and wrote about the life and culture of the Celts he found there.

One I did not know about until just the other day was a guy known in Japan as Yasuke. Most likely from somewhere in the eastern part of Africa, he had enough of a case of wanderlust to make his way to India, where he apparently spent several years. From there, he continued eastward, showing up in Japan in 1579, where he was befriended by no less a person than Nobunaga hisself.

That's still early days in the Age of Discovery, when much of what people "knew" of foreign lands was only myth, rumor, and conjecture. Some people have always just had the itch to go see things for themselves.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Perverts and Creepers and Sickos, oh my!

It's been a good long while since we discussed some of the odder second-order effects of our laws surrounding convicted sex offenders here at VFTP, but I have to say that this latest bit of news out of Georgia leaves me in a weird place:
"Georgia is not among states that have instituted "no-candy laws" that prohibit sex offenders on parole and probation from handing out candy on the holiday and require them to display signs revealing their status in their yards. In Missouri, registered sex offenders must remain inside their home between 5 and 10:30 p.m., unless they have to be somewhere, like their jobs, or for medical emergencies.

With Halloween coming around again next week, the Butts County Sheriff's office plans to continue placing "no trick-or-treat" signs in sex offenders' yards unless a judge rules it can't, Sheriff's Assistant Amanda Bone told CNN on Thursday.
Apparently, this Georgia county sheriff had gone around last year sticking signs in the yards of the county's registered pervoids reading something along the lines of "Hey, kids! No Trick or Treating at this house! A pervert lives here!"

This triggered a lawsuit that hasn't yet been settled, and the sheriff has announced that, barring a no-no from a judge, he's heading out to put slightly modified versions in the yards this year: "Hey, kids! No Trick or Treating at this house! A pervert lives here!"

It's a creative (yet creepy in a Big Brother sort of way) solution to the problem at hand, and it triggers a host of thoughts like "If these people are so dangerous, why are they out of jail in the first place?"

A different Georgia county apparently just rounds its known perverts up on Halloween and carts them to an Anti-Kiddie Diddlin' Hootenanny that evening:
"The Newton County, Georgia, Sheriff's Office this year plans to corral sex offenders for its 13th annual Halloween shut-in in Covington. Offenders will hear from speakers from the sheriff's office, courts and Department of Community Supervision."

Meet the Press

That West Point cadet who went on the lam with his M4 carbine apparently turned up dead.

What I found most interesting was a statement put out by the USMA and repeated verbatim just about everywhere in the press:
"The search began when Kurita did not show up for a military skills competition Friday night, according to West Point. An M4 rifle was also missing, but the cadet was not believed to have any magazines or ammunition."
This makes it sound like he'd made off with an M1 Abrams sans its breechblock or a nuclear warhead without the fissile material. Apparently either the PAO at West Point or the average reporter (or both) are unaware that the magazines and ammunition for the M4 are available at better hardware stores and bait shops everywhere.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

This is the Golden Era of automotive performance...

Imagine going back in time to the darkest part of the Dark Age of automotive performance, say about 1981 or so. That was the year that Car and Driver tested a California-spec Mustang Cobra, whose 255cid 2-bbl V-8 wheezed out a mere 115bhp, that took an agonizingly long 18.1 seconds to travel 1,320 feet, wheezing through the timing lights at 77mph. Even the Corvettes of the time strained to crack the nine-second 0-60 barrier.

The future was presumed to be a bleak expanse of three-cylinder turbodiesels, with fast cars being an artifact of the past.

Now tell the car nuts in 1981 that in 2019 there are 4-door sedans that will run quarter miles in the twelves, right off the showroom floor. On pump gas. With automatics and a/c and power everything. And one of them is a Korean import, while the other has a Hemi.

Definite sign of fall in the air...

We are now officially in the time of year when coffee mugs pulled out of the cabinet (against an exterior wall) need to be pre-warmed with hot water, lest they chill your coffee to near room temperature almost instantly.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Failed State Next Door?

From a trusted source on FB:
Sent to me by a friend, I'm confirming what source. Very well written commentary on recent events in Mexico;

Now to business. To Mexico. I think the questions raised by El Anti-Pozolero, below, might require more urgent attention than we seem to be able to muster these days. I cannot say whether he’s right: I haven’t set foot in Mexico in more than twenty years. But worthy of our thought? It sure looks that way from the news:

You may have read the news just a few days back: the Mexican military captured not one but two of El Chapo’s sons in the heart of Culiacán, the Sinaloan capital. One son freed himself—which is to say his entourage and retainers at hand overpowered and killed the soldiers at hand—and then, in a decisive riposte, seized the entire city center of Culiacán to compel the liberation of his brother.

The forces that emerged were in the literal sense awesome and awful. Heavy weaponry that would be familiar on any Iraqi, Syrian, or Yemeni battlefield was brought to bear. More and worse: custom-built armored vehicles, designed and built to make a Sahel-warfare technical look like an amateur’s weekend kit job, were rolled out for their combat debut. Most critically, all this hardware was manned by men with qualities the Mexican Army largely lacks: training, tactical proficiency, and motivation.

Then the coup de grace: as the Chapo sons’ forces engaged in direct combat with their own national military, kill squads went into action across Culiacán, slaughtering the families of soldiers engaged in the streets.

Cowed and overmatched—most crucially in the moral arena—the hapless band of soldiers still holding the second son finally received word from Mexico City, direct from President AMLO himself: surrender. Surrender and release the prisoner.

It’s an absolutely extraordinary episode even by the grim and bizarre annals of what we mistakenly call the post-2006 Mexican Drug War. The Battle of Culiacán stands on a level above, say, the Ayotzinapa massacre, or the Zetas’ expulsion of the entire population of Ciudad Mier. Killing scores of innocents and brutalizing small towns is one thing: seizing regional capital cities and crushing the national armed forces in open fighting in broad daylight is something else.

“Drug War” is a misnomer for reasons the Culiacán battle lays bare. This is not a mafia-type problem, nor one comprehensible within the framework of law enforcement and crime. This is something very much like an insurgency now—think of the eruption of armed resistance in Culiacán in 2019 as something like that in Sadr City in 2004—and also something completely like state collapse. The cartels may be the proximate drivers but they are symptoms. Underlying them is a miasma of official corruption, popular alienation, and localist resentments—and underlying all that is a low-trust civil society stripped of the mediating mechanisms that make peaceable democracy both feasible and attractive.

Note as an aside that the cartels are not even necessarily drug-trafficking-specific entities. There have been ferocious and bloody cartel battles—against one another, against the state—for control of economic interests ranging from port operations to the avocado crop to lime exports. Illegal drugs supercharge their resources and ambitions, but absent them and that illegality they would simply assume another form.

I want to pause here and be explicit: none of this is an argument that Mexicans are incapable of liberality and democracy. The millions of Mexicans in the United States illustrate the contrary quite well, and localist democratic structures in Mexico proper are often of the sort that would make a communitarian conservative’s heart swell with pride. What is argued here is that Culiacán illuminates that the Mexican state as constituted is incompetent to that end.

Simply put, we can understand the past two centuries of Mexican history as a cyclic alternation between chaotic liberality and pluralism on the one hand, and orderly (if corrupt) autocracy on the other. The orderly and corrupt Porfiriato was followed by the horrors of civil war unleashed by Madero, followed in turn by the “perfect dictatorship” of the PRI, followed in turn by this century’s emergence of true Mexican multiparty democracy—and therefore the disintegration of the state we see now.

This is important because Americans have not had to think seriously about this for nearly a century: there is a place on the map marked Mexico, but much of it is governed by something other than the Mexican state. That’s been true for years.

The Battle of Culiacán, government surrender and all, made it open and explicit.

What happens now, barring an exceedingly unlikely discovery of spine and competence by the government in Mexico City, is more and worse. The country is on a trajectory toward warlordism reminiscent of, say, 1930s China or its own 1910s. Some of those warlords will be the cartels. Some of them will be virtuous local forces genuinely on the side of order and justice—for example the autodefensa citizen militias of Michoacán. Some of them will be the official state, grasping for what it can. Some of them, given sufficient time, will be autonomous or even secessionist movements: look to Chiapas, Morelia, et al., for that.

The lines between all these groups will be hazy and easily crossed. None will be mutually exclusive from the others.

It is tragic and a pity, because Mexico has in fact mastered the forms if not the substance of democratic civics. It is a shame because much of the Mexican diaspora in the United States is transmitting back home ideas of natural rights and a virtuous armed citizenry—right at the moment we ourselves have stopped believing in those things. (This has been a significant driver of the autodefensa phenomenon.) It is a loss because, depending on how you measure it, México just this decade tipped into a majority middle-class society for the first time in its history. In regions like the Bajío, advanced manufacturing is taking root and a class of engineers is slowly changing the old ways.

Nevertheless as any student of history will tell you, revolution happens not when things are bad, but when expectations are frustrated.

So what does all this mean for the United States? A century of relative peace along our southern border has left us complacent. We haven’t seriously thought about what it might mean if a nation of one hundred twenty million people with thousands of miles of land and coastal access to the United States went into collapse. We still tell ourselves a series of falsehoods about Mexico: that the immigration problem is about immigration, that the crime problem is about crime, that the Mexican state is the solution and not the problem, that they can handle their own affairs, that light-armor forces can overrun Culiacán and it isn’t our problem.

From Culiacán, Sinaloa, to Nogales, Arizona, is one day’s drive.

We know how we handled it last time México evaporated as a cohesive state, in 1910-1920. By late spring 1916, cross-border raiding got so bad that we mobilized the entire National Guard and called for volunteers. Most people remember the punitive expedition against the Villistas. Less remembered are the raids and counter-raids at places like San Ygnacio, Texas—and still less remembered is the time the United States Army was compelled to attack and occupy Mexican Nogales in 1918, and Ciudad Juárez in 1919.

You may rightly ask whether we are capable of the same policy now—and if we are, whether we are competent to execute it.

Mexico is not an enemy state, and the Mexicans are not an enemy people. Yet as Mexico falls apart, we need to ask ourselves questions normally reserved for objectively hostile nations. There is a war underway. It won’t stop at the border.

It’s time to look south, and think.

— El Anti-Pozolero is a pseudonym.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #179...

Interwar German handguns:

The Mauser's frame serial number certainly falls into the right range for a "red nine" wartime gun, everything on the frame is serial numbered correctly, and only the top end is a post-WWI short-barreled "Bolo" .30 Mauser gun. When was this top half mated with the frame? Well...somewhere between November of 1918 and when I traded into it last year.

The Luger is a short-barreled .30 Luger gun as well. While its serial numbers would seem to denote an earlier manufacture, the caliber and barrel length are definitely postwar.

See, the Treaty of Versailles and its codicils prohibited the shrunken German arms industry from making military pistols. Barrels of 4" or more and bore diameters larger than .32 were verboten as military ordnance.

So these were less-military.

The "Bolo" nomenclature for the short-barreled Broomhandles comes from the fact that the newly-triumphant Bolshevik government in Russia was having a hard time securing arms deals from foreign states until they could get their own small arms industry restructured after the revolution.

Weimar Germany, a fellow international pariah, was happy to make the sale, and the short-barreled Mausers are known as "Bolos" to this day.

Since C96's had been popular with White Russian forces and those of various separatist republics, these fit well into the nascent Soviet army. As a matter of fact, when the USSR designed its first homegrown pistol, the TT30 Tokarev, it used a cartridge that was little more than a slightly spiced up 7.63 Mauser round.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

ZCQOTD: A Plan Coming Together Edition

Eyeballs flattened, no waiting.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Durable Characters...

Back when I first started flying again...2010 or 2011...I remember reading an article in the airline's in-flight magazine about the new trend for fictional characters as spokespeople for companies in their ads. It's interesting to see that, nearly a decade later, Mayhem and Flo are still at it...

Those are good, long runs in the volatile world of advertising.

Day Trip

Initially, IndyGo was going to have rides on the Red Line be free for the month of September and start charging on October first. However the rollout of the fare-paying app seems to have had some hiccups, and so the free ride period on the Red Line has been extended until they get the bugs ironed out, now tentatively the tenth of November.

The fare-paying app is necessary because the Red Line will be run like a trolley, and you'll pay either at the station or via app. The buses aren't going to stop long enough for people to queue up at the door and fish through their pockets for change; riders will be kept honest by random fare checks on the moving buses.

Wednesday I rolled downtown to the central bus terminal to get lunch at the City Market. After a pulled pork sandwich from Gomez BBQ, I walked back to the depot to catch a northbound Red Line bus to the Statehouse station so I could walk over to the State Museum a few blocks west.

Arriving at the depot, I discovered an unintended consequence of the way the Red Line is structured. The drivers have strict instructions to only let passengers on and off at the stations. The northbound bus was just pulling away as I arrived at the terminal...and got caught at a red light right there at Washington Street. This resulted in the bus having pulled maybe a dozen feet forward, but the driver wasn't allowed to let me board while we shrugged at each other over the awkward minute or so until he got his green light.

No real biggie, because the next bus was only ten minutes behind.

I spent an enjoyable hour roaming the State Museum and then hopped the Red Line home at about three, before traffic started up.

Giant sloth

Short-faced bear

The camera slump...

A internet acquaintance was photographing her kid at a pumpkin patch. When she pulled out the Canon DSLR, one of the other children present blurted "Look, mommy! A real camera!" As more and more people are just using cell phones for their snapshot needs, the sight of a "real camera" is indeed becoming rarer.

Thom Hogan is rattling people's cages again...
"I'm going to put a stake in the ground and predict ILC volume will be 4m units in 2023. It's possible that isn't the bottom, that we go all the way down to 3m units. It's possible that 2023 isn't the bottom year. However, market size is such an existential problem at Canon, Nikon, and Sony that they're going to have to find a way to keep the market from slipping below 4m units. That means that they have to embrace the 21st century with their products and start attracting younger users again. I believe that's possible, but I also don't see clear signs that any camera company has figured this out. (Sure, the average buying age of a Sony purchaser is lower than that of the average Nikon purchaser at this point, but that age is still in the Gen X/Boomer realm. They're not making any more of those models ;~)."

I don't see a ton to disagree with in his conclusions.

Parenthetically, I wonder if Panasonic's efforts in the video realm plus Olympus's attempt to transition Micro 4/3 into a premium sports/air show/birdwatching system with the E-M1X will be enough to save the format. Big box stores will sell you the bottom-tier Canon and Nikon DSLRs, but if you look around at Target or Best Buy, you could be forgiven for thinking that the only mirrorless ILC system was the crop-sensor a6xxx system from Sony.

Thursday, October 17, 2019


A pretty cool video presentation of the Battle of Midway, carefully presented from only the Japanese point of view...

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Overheard Online...

From a conversation elsewhere:
Friend A: "Anime by itself isn't supposed to be cringy. There's lots of good anime out there."

Friend B: "Intentional or not, that's the effect on me."

Friend A: "Well, what anime have you watched?"

Friend B: "Let's see... Pantyflash Crisis, Fanservice High School, and Animal-Eared Preteens, I believe."
I laughed so hard I nearly lost continence.

Tab Clearing...

Interesting Times

So, Russia has decided it will use its troops to head off potential conflicts between invading Turks and the forces of its ally, Syria.

Of course, Turkey is still a de jure NATO member and the spearhead of their invasion of Syria is not made up of disciplined Turkish regulars, but a wild-eyed pack of Allahu Akhbar'ing Arab militias operating under the sanction of Ankara, so I see no possible way this could go wrong.

Monday, October 14, 2019


An interesting writeup on a couple who have decided to party like it's 1889, for the most part, at least.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Pre-Assault Indicators...

Recognizing this stuff can be a lifesaver.

Being able to articulate it can be a freedomsaver.

I can't recommend training with John Murphy highly enough.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Sketchy on its face...

Unless there are some pretty serious extenuating circumstances, leaving the building to spray the area with your AK doesn't pass my "It was self-defense" smell test.

Spoiler Alert

Car and Driver had a little throwaway listicle* entitled "The Best-Selling Car in America the Year You Graduated High School: Find the top-selling car from each year, from 1978 to today."

Spoiler Alert: If you're a late Boomer or early Gen X'er, it's probably an Oldsmobile Cutlass. For most Gen X'ers, it's the Taurus or Accord, and then it's Camrys from there on out. (There's a jumbled period in the mid-'80s where Cutlass dominance had crumbled and a few forgettable GM and Ford products scrambled for first place; horrid little commuter boxes like the Escort and Cavalier. My graduating year featured the Chevy Celebrity, the most vanilla variant of GM's spectacularly mediocre '80s A-body. Imagine a car so dull that the Lumina was an edgy improvement.)

*Safari's spellchecker knows "listicle". Huh.

Seasons Change

Spending the tail end of September up in Vermont and New Hamster gave me a bit of a foretaste of fall, but it's finally caught up to me here in the Circle City.

After ninety degree temperatures just last week, we had a few days of perfect convertible weather for a breather, and then yesterday's cold front brought the first frost of the season and the lowest overnight temperatures since April.

Woobie weather has arrived, and it's almost time to swap out the cotton socks for the wool ones and the short-sleeved tees for long-sleeve pullovers. Next thing you know it'll be long johns and warm boots weather for walking to Twenty Tap.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Gratuitous gun pr0n #178...

Smith & Wesson's Model 59, seen here in a nickel-plated variant, was an eye-opening vista onto a whole world of copycat blasters...

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Net Gains

Found an interesting article explaining the differences between SAE Gross and SAE Net horsepower ratings, and also highlighting some of the shenanigans that went down with manufacturer's advertised horsepower ratings during the performance wars of the '60s, when "BHP" might as well have stood for "HorsePower as measured at the Brochure".

What brought this to mind recently was driving the '94 Mustang GT. The 302cid motor in that car is the tail end development of the pushrod small-block Ford V8; in another two model years it would be replaced with the overhead-cam 4.6L. It's rated in the ad copy as developing 215bhp and, while not completely overwhelming the driving experience like the 327 in my Chevy Monza did, it's always there with power on tap if you want to break the rear end loose and get up to shenanigans.

Thing is, it's a completely docile and tractable engine. It starts easily, idles calmly with hardly any "lope" from the cam, delivers reasonable MPG for what it is, and features good throttle response all across its rev range.

What makes that interesting is that it would have had, in Sixties advertising "Gross BHP" terms, close to one horsepower per cubic inch. I've driven and/or owned several of the really high-output small-blocks from the Glory Years of the Muscle Car, and those things are an experience. Hard starting in cold weather, tepid throttle response at low revs, lumpy cams that have them idling like a paint mixer (seriously, the radio antenna on my 327 Monza, which was purely camouflage and not connected to a radio, would whip violently side-to-side at traffic lights), and 10.5- or 11.5- or 12-to-1 compression ratios that demanded premium gas...if not a drive to whatever local station offered Sunoco 104.

It's interesting that the '94 Mustang GT has performance numbers that more or less perfectly overlap a '70 Boss 302, when you allow for differences in tire technology, and the 94 will do it with a/c, cruise control, and power windows. The EPA took a lot away in the early 'Seventies, but by the mid-Eighties, computer-controlled ignition and fuel delivery, as well as computer-aided design of intake & exhaust components as well as combustion chambers had given it all back and then some.


True Firearms Confession...

I am in constant danger of ordering a pistol-length 6.5 Grendel AR upper just to watch the fireballs.

I am not proud of this.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

QotD: Political Discussions on Social Media Edition

"It’s important to revere the founders. Wise men like FDR, Heinlein, Guevara, and Mencken left quotes to guide us in interpreting their intent in the Bill of Rights, which is the first ten amendments to the Declaration of Independence."

A surprising find...

I carted a couple large boxes of books to Half Price Books yesterday. If you've never done this, they have a pretty organized system for processing incoming books. Books are stacked and their barcodes scanned (or ISBN numbers entered) and sorted into stuff for which they're paying you and stuff which they'll be glad to take off your hands if you don't want to cart it home.

You can tell if they stumble on a real find because they'll hesitate, maybe wipe it down, and double-take at the monitor in front of them. When I saw the clerk do that over a yellow-jacketed book in the stack I brought in yesterday, I figured I'd better google it up and see what I found. I'm glad I did, because it appears that Dougal Dixon's Man After Man is bringing rather more than the $2.99 I gave for it all those years ago.

Anyway, I decided not to sell that one to Half Price Books and threw it on eBay instead.

Monday, October 07, 2019

Mental Picture

So, a dude comes up into some bar in Kansas City. The bartender doesn't serve him because dude is apparently yelling gang slogans. Dude gets mad, throws a cup at the bartender, comes around the bar and tries to chuck a bottle at him, and gets hustled out the door by the other patrons. He comes back with a buddy and some blasters and they shoot the place up. (I know you're going to find this a shock, but police already had mug shots of the suspects on file from previous arrests.)

But that's not what's funny. What's funny is the abbreviated headline on's front page:

"Came back armed with another man" reads to me like he came back with another guy who he started swinging around the room by his ankles.

Player Two Has Entered the Game

The Taxonomy of Modern Dangers sprang from the realization that ninjas, pirates, and zombies were not the only threats out there on the horizon that might cause a responsible person to want to keep a firearm handy. The threat spectrum was gradually fleshed out with face-eating monkeys, killer space robots, werewolves, vampires, clowns, and hippies, and the various shifting alliances and conflicts among the factions.

And now this headline pops up at CNN: "Pigs were spotted using tools for the first time, a new study says"

This is why we keep this stuff in an expandable three-ring binder, people.

A Ballad of the Republic in the Current Year

The Washington Post had a clever riff on the state of baseball in the Sabermetrics/Moneyball Era entitled "Casey @ the Bat":
The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day;
The score stood four to two with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney whiffed again, the eighteenth K that night,
A sickly silence fell, for somehow baseball wasn’t right.

A straggling few got up and left, annoyed they even came;
And most who stayed were kind of drunk or wagered on the game.
Yet still to come was Casey, whom the fans had long extolled,
Though at the age of 31 the metrics deemed him old.

But first ahead of him was Flynn, a player much accursed;
His BABIP was atrocious, and his WAR was even worse.
Another guy came up as well, his name recalled by few;
Confusion sowed by double switches made in hour two...
Go and read the whole thing. It's brilliant parody and I wish I'd written it.

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Automotif CLIII...

The lady driving this old Super Beetle ragtop parked and ran into a shop. I grabbed my Nikon D700 off the patio table at Byrne's Grilled Pizza and started ambling over to grab a photo. A couple of other patrons of the restaurant saw me get up, swiveled their heads to see where I was headed, and then turned back toward me smiling and nodding.

If you don't love a Beetle, you ain't got no soul.

(Poor Nikon! "When I was new, I was a state-of-the-art multikilobuck professional camera! I was taking pictures of runway models in Milan and NBA action in New York. Now I'm just an aged used camera and this chick is using me to take pictures of parked cars.")

Seen while out and about...

Bobbi and I pedaled over to Twenty Tap for lunch today. I had the EOS 7D and EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 along for the ride.

This Royal Enfield Classic 500 Chrome caught Bobbi's eye...and mine, too, to be perfectly honest about it. I'd definitely tool around Broad Ripple on one of these.

This adorable golden retriever pup was charming everyone on the patio at Twenty Tap.

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Automotif CLII...

"Pardon me, do you have any Heinz brown mustard in the squeeze bottle?"
Him: "Cool car!"

Me: "Thanks! You too!"
He gave the '94 a walkaround and got a kick out of the year-of-manufacturer plate. "I didn't realize any of these were old enough for vintage plates!"

Messing up our average...

The Broad Ripple area managed to go through all of 2017 and 2018 without a homicide. In February of this year, a dude got whacked during an attempted home invasion robbery at 64th and Central, but that doesn't really count because he was the one doing the invading and was killed by the invadee.

Now some guy gets plugged outside an after hours pub that I didn't even know was there, just north of the canal, behind The Good Earth. (For longtime blog readers, this is where the hippie fell off the bridge that one time.)

Weather Whingeing

Yesterday was August 63rd.

Or at least it felt like it.

September 30th ended a record hot September in Indianapolis with a record high for the date: 92°F. Mother Nature liked that number so much she used it again for October 1st and 2nd. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the previous hottest October day in the Circle City was October 8th a dozen years ago, when the mercury hit 91.

Today is apparently going to be September 1st-30th all at once, and our normal seasons will resume tomorrow, for which I am grateful.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

In case you haven't checked...

I've been getting caught up on content at the Patreon page since getting home from vacation. There are several fresh posts.

Who was on trial here, Mr. Crump?

There's a brand new dance but I don't know its name

From elsewhere, when someone else remarked that the Bokeh Binge would fizzle out as a style in fifteen years, I replied...
At first, extreme shallow DOF [depth-of-field] and a creamily blown-out background was a way of signaling "I have a professional camera with a big sensor and a ginormous aperture!"

Now it's a way of signaling "I have a high end cell phone!"

When quality computational photography trickles down to fifty dollar LG Cricket phones, it's gonna be time to find a new way to flex on the poors.

(And FIFTEEN years? Dude, cartoony HDR already looks SO 2015. I expect fauxkeh to have a similar lifespan. ;) )
Speaking of "the style of the time" (which is why I have an onion on my belt), Mike at The Online Photographer notes a side effect of modern photojournalism being shot on cameras with dizzyingly high resolution sensors, at least relative to what was available in the past. In reference to the photos in The End of the Caliphate, he writes:
"Naturally the first few times you look at a book like that you respond to the content, with emotion; it takes a cold heart indeed to see a picture of a woman wailing by the bloody steps where her son was just killed and think, "they got a nice blue in that dress." So only on my fourth or fifth time through the book did I really consider the technique directly—I looked at it in the light of our sharpness discussion. When I did, it occurred to me that if I had encountered this book thirty years ago or forty years ago, I probably would have considered it to be bizarrely, garishly, intrusively oversharpened; it might have impeded my appreciation of the content of the pictures. As it was, when I took my first pass through the book I just sort of thought, in the back of my mind, that it's a good example of modern photographic style, and got right into the content. It was what I've come to expect. No big deal."
Photographic fashion, like politics, may be the art of the possible. (This last is behind a paywall, but it's an interesting look at how the capabilities of the tools at hand influence style.)

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

It's not a dry heat, either.

So we just finished having the warmest September on record in Indianapolis, as well as the third driest.

The weather doesn't seem to be noticing that we just flipped the calendar page, either. The previous record high for October was 91 degrees on 10/8/2007, but they're predicting that'll be tied or maybe even broken today or tomorrow.

An Eye for an Eye

I envy this blogger's eye for an image. I tend to take a picture of an object or a person, rather than a scene, and I don't know if the ability to do the latter is an ability I can cultivate.

If the cost of doing so is the bitterness that comes through in that post, though, I think I'll stick with taking formulaic pictures of my roommate's cat.

As a matter of fact, contemplating this has triggered some introspection on my part about how much negativity I've allowed into my daily life. It's probably past time to cut sling load on a lot of that.

Automotif CLI...

This murdered-out Cadillac CTS wagon caught my eye. The market's overall preference for crossover SUVs (aka "station wagons with built-in booster seats") has always struck me as odd. If you were to compare an all-wheel-drive CTS wagon with a car-based ute like the Cadillac SRX, the wagon would give up almost nothing in off-pavement ability to the crossover SUV. The extra couple inches of ground clearance would make a difference in the sort of off-roading that most crossovers never see.

Actually, the CTS/SRX comparison is especially apt since the first-gen SRX was built on the same Sigma  platform/driveline as the contemporary CTS. You got a bit more ground clearance and headroom and better sightlines in exchange for being slower, clumsier, and getting worse gas mileage. I suppose that skidpad numbers aren't important to someone shopping crossover SUVs, but the fact that the SRX was Cadillac's best selling vehicle while the sharp-looking CTS wagon lasted four model years before being discontinued due to lack of interest will always puzzle me.