Sunday, August 30, 2020

Off the (Virtual) Shelf

Brian Aldiss's Helliconia trilogy in omnibus format on Kindle was priced low enough that I went ahead and added it to the library. I've read the first and third books, Helliconia Spring and Helliconia Winter, several times and enjoyed them. My first reading of Helliconia Summer, however, was really more of a skim than a read and it had never set its hook enough to make me want to come back, so I've decided to return to it and give it a fair chance.

The setting of the book is a planet that orbits on the fairly outer edge of the life zone of a dim star. It's naturally an icy, dark place, with a sapient species that sort of resembles upright musk oxen or bipedal yaks. The dim star has been captured into a highly elliptical orbit around a bright supergiant, so that now the planet Helliconia has two "years"; its regular 480-day trip around its own sun, plus the 1,800+ year trip around the big supergiant. During the big year it goes from frozen glacial wasteland to a tropical planet with equatorial temperatures over a hundred degrees small-year-round and then back again.

Oh, and the radiation from the big star caused evolution to run wild on the planet, including among the yak-people's pet monkeys...


Friday, August 28, 2020

Now there's a name I haven't heard for a long time

The headline read "Napster sold for a song to UK virtual events company" and I was like "Wait, Napster is still around?"

Automotif CLXXXI...

What's this I spy? No, not the Alfa station wagon in platform shoes* although that's pretty hawt, too; I mean the car in front of it.

Matching trilby and W113 Benz is, paraphrasing Kevin Creighton, approaching maximum hipster. I couldn't tell if the Becker was tuned to WICR, but I wouldn't bet against it.

I would definitely roll around Broad Ripple in this Pagoda with the top down & listening to smooth jazz if it were mine, and I'm not even a huge jazz fan.

I think it was a 280SL. The front end is Euro, lacking the bumper override guards and sporting the one-piece headlamp/fog light assemblies that were verboten on U.S.-market automobiles back then. However, the rear-view mirror appears to be a later post-'68 black-bordered safety unit and the rear fenders have the FMVSS-compliant side marker lights.

Could be a gray market car, could be that a later owner just liked the cleaner Euro schnozz. I mean, my '94 Mustang has '96 taillights because they look better and I've had people notice that.

*The sight of that Alfa Stelvio, which is one of the few members of the "Compact Crossover SUV" genre that isn't as dull as a math class in mid-May, did make me wonder what the odds were of the hawt-looking Italian station-wagon-in-platform-shoes still being on the road in 2072.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Unrealized Potential

Last year I had intended to carry the Langdon Beretta as a temporary stopgap until I picked a polymer-framed DA/SA gun with more mainstream pricing and finish out the year with it. One thing leading to another, I wound up carrying the LTT for the entirety of 2019 and into this year, until Milt Sparks got me fixed up with a Summer Special for the SP2022.

This means that instead of having already taken the Sig to a year's worth of classes and matches and shooting it a bunch on my own, I've had it in a holster for four months of apocalyptic ammo drought and no gun school. Lame.

I'd intended to switch back to something striker-fired next year after finishing up this project, but now I feel like I haven't given it a fair shake. I'm still torn, because I've wanted to get to putting in some real work with a MRDS gun.  My eyes aren't getting younger and if I'm eventually going to wind up shooting a dot for vision reasons, why not get a head start?

I dunno what I'm gonna do other than at least ride out the year with the SP2022.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Unexpectedly Sage

Kitteh actually has good advice for shooting a slide-mounted MRDS...

A lot of folks recommend using iron sights to learn how to find the dot, when actually doing that is holding the shooter back and slowing them down.

With a slide mounted MRDS, it seems like people's biggest failure is trying to look at the dot, rather than looking at the target and sticking the gun between their face and what they're looking at.

It's actually harder for people who've trained themselves for years to perform the completely physically unnatural act of looking at the gun instead of what they're shooting at. Shooting a pistol with iron sights well, you are training yourself to do a completely counterintuitive thing, which is to look at the weapon rather than what you are trying to hit with the weapon; it's a hard skill to learn and takes a lot of repetition to ingrain it.

But when you swing a stick at something, you don't look at the stick. When you throw a rock, you don't watch your hand. The advantage of a red dot sight is that it allows you to do the natural thing, which is to look at the target, while still delivering precisely aimed shots.

Just stick the pistol in front of your nose while looking at the target and the dot will be there. Your hand knows how to put something in front of your nose; you've been doing it all your life. You can do it with your eyes closed, even.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Bats in the, Breakfast Nook

Our next door neighbor has pretty much decided that Bobbi is her preferred bat evictor, which occasionally makes for some good stories.

Overheard in the Office...

RX: "You should look up the Tibetan fox." 
Me: "Why, what does the Tibetan fox say?"

Survivorship Bias

From Wikipedia:
"During World War II, the statistician Abraham Wald took survivorship bias into his calculations when considering how to minimize bomber losses to enemy fire. The Statistical Research Group (SRG) at Columbia University, which Wald was a part of, examined the damage done to aircraft that had returned from missions and recommended adding armor to the areas that showed the least damage, based on his reasoning. This contradicted the US military's conclusions that the most-hit areas of the plane needed additional armor. Wald noted that the military only considered the aircraft that had survived their missions; any bombers that had been shot down or otherwise lost had logically also been rendered unavailable for assessment. The holes in the returning aircraft, then, represented areas where a bomber could take damage and still return home safely. Thus, Wald proposed that the Navy reinforce areas where the returning aircraft were unscathed, since those were the areas that, if hit, would cause the plane to be lost. His work is considered seminal in the then-nascent discipline of operational research."
What brought this to mind was a discussion on Facebook, prompted by my quipping about music:
Man, I just {LISTENED_TO_ALBUM/WENT_TO_CONCERT} by {$GROUP_FROM_MY_TEENS/EARLY_TWENTIES} and they still kicked ass just like they did when they were new. 
{$GROUP_LIKED_BY_KIDS_WHO_SHOULD_GET_OFF_MY_LAWN} just won't have that same kind of staying power."
Part of that phenomenon is that as people age, we're less likely to form strong emotional connections to specific pieces of music the way we were when we were younger, and part of it is that the music that gets remembered from the good ol' days is just the good stuff that's survived the sieve of time.

The year 1968, for instance, had huge chart hits from The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, but also from 1910 Fruitgum Company and Tiny Tim.

The airwaves had plenty of crap in my teens and early twenties, but I prefer to forget that. Say what you will about the Kids These Days, but they aren't listening to Milli Vanilli...of course, as it turned out, neither were kids back then.

Survivorship Bias is baked right into a lot of hobbies that interface with older things. “Man, they really knew how to build [cameras/pocket knives/watches/revolvers] in the old days!” is skewed by the fact that only the well-built stuff has survived. The handgun counter at the hardware store in a hypothetical Old West town had Colts and Smith & Wessons and Remingtons, and plenty of cheaply-made Victorian equivalents of Hi Points and Jennings, too.

Above you can see an 1875-vintage Colt New Line in .38 rimfire and a janky Red Jacket No.3 in .32 rimfire


Saturday, August 22, 2020

Automotif CLXXX...

1985 Toyota Celica GT-S convertible. All convertible Third Generation Celicas were done here in the U.S. by ASC of California; 200 in the '84 model year and a couple thousand for the '85 model year, which was the end of the line for the angular A60 3rd Gen body style.

The U.S. market was hungry for convertibles in the mid-'80s, having gone through a serious convertible drought for the last decade or so, largely due to stringent rollover standards. The American Sunroof Corporation handled factory convertible conversions on everything from Pontiacs to Porsches.

That angular look is so very mid-80s Japanese sports coupe. Celica/Supra, Subaru XT, Mitsubishi Starion, Honda Prelude...they all had that style about them. It's also notable that back then you could still market a car as having sporting pretensions with a 113bhp 2.4L four-banger under the hood. Very Eighties.

Photos shot with an old Nikon D7000 body & 16-80mm f/2.8-4E VR DX lens.

Ignorance in the Era of Freakout Journalism

Steve Bannon, who's always whiffed of the grift, was actually arrested, along with several of his accused co-grifters, the other day on federal charges of wire fraud and money laundering.

The feds claim that the accused have been using money that marks and rubes sent to their "Build the Wall" online crowdfunding campaign to build walls around heated swimming pools and four-Porsche garages, rather than along the border to keep out swarthy foreigners and terr'rists.

Lou Dobbs flipped out over the mechanics of the arrest:
Addressing the story on his show on Thursday night, Dobbs, one of Donald Trump’s favorite Fox hosts, said Bannon “was arrested this morning, not by the FBI or US Marshals but by inspectors of the US Postal Service while Bannon was cruising aboard a mega yacht, owned by a Chinese billionaire”.

“Yes, you heard that correctly – an elite police unit of the Postal Service. They’re called the US Postal Inspection Service and they had authority to arrest Bannon and they did so … Somehow, the deep state launched agents of the US Postal Service to arrest Mr Bannon.”
Apparently Lou was unaware that wire fraud, being basically a spinoff crime of mail fraud, falls under the jurisdiction of the United States Postal Inspection Service.

This is a law enforcement agency whose roots date back to 1775, thereby antedating the actual, you know, United States itself. It obviously isn't some newfangled bureaucratic construction.

If Lou had paid attention to the Saturday morning Westerns on the ol' black & white Motorola as a kid, he might remember those guys riding in the mail coach with a shotgun. Those dudes weren't working for the FBI. I guess this isn't a part of America Lou wants to Make Great Again?

Settle down, Lou.

Meanwhile, a political candidate's campaign took out an ad at a newspaper. This would seem to be pretty unremarkable, as candidates buying advertising happens all the time.

In this case, however, the campaign is Donald Trump's, and the newspaper it bought ads in was the online edition of the Washington Post (to which I subscribe).

Commentators have been losing their tiny little minds about this. They've been calling out the newspaper's motto, "Democracy Dies in Darkness", and demanding to know how the newspaper could use this tagline and still, you know, accept ads from a political candidate.

Apparently in their minds, in a real democracy only one candidate is allowed to buy advertising? How...Soviet of them. I don't know whether democracy dies in darkness or not, but it sure doesn't seem to thrive in dimness.

Settle down, Gertz & Calderone.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #190...

FN 509 Compact MRD, doing some gel tests last week...

Not the time nor the place for your O.D.D.

A former Navy SEAL who has said he killed Osama bin Laden has been banned by Delta Air Lines after removing his face mask during a flight.

Robert O’Neill tweeted about his ban on Thursday, and the airline confirmed the action.

“Part of every customer’s commitment prior to traveling on Delta is the requirement to acknowledge our updated travel policies, which includes wearing a mask," the airline said in a statement. "Failure to comply with our mask-wearing mandate can result in losing the ability to fly Delta in the future.”
"Thank you for your service, sir. Now please cover your germhole."

Look, dude, it's Delta's airplane. If they say you gotta sing "I'm a Little Teapot" to fly, then you sing "I'm a Little Teapot" or you don't fly and I don't care if you shot thirty-seven Osama Bin Ladens or not.

Now stow your bag and sit down, the rest of us kids have connecting flights we gotta catch.

Jesus, my personalized version of Hell will be filled with all the "Special" people I've run into on airlines.

"No, honey, don't worry; when they said 'all carry-on bags must fit in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you', they didn't mean you."

I know that 'being a sheeple and doing what you're told' does *not* come easily to some people, because it sure doesn't come easily to me, but the miracle of modern air travel only goes smoothly if everyone on the plane does exactly that.

Frickin' swallow your dignity for twenty-nine minutes so we can all get to Detroit on time and then you can go on a tirade to the gate agent when we get there.

You may not like it, but this is what Peak 2020 looks like

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Revenge of the Nerd Calibers

The Rest of the Internet: “There’s no ammunition!”

Me: ha ha boxes from Lucky Gunner and Target Sports go thumpthumpthump

Weird Nostalgia

Putting together that piece for Ammoman has left me with a weird nostalgia for a Surefire M900, the old-school weapon-mounted light built into a vertical foregrip.

Thing is, I don't really have any guns to put it on. It'd just be for a range toy, anyway. Full-size VFGs tend to get in the way, and the only carbine I have that still has an old-school full length rail farm on it already has a perfectly useable modern Surefire Scout.

I've got most of the parts to assemble the gun lying around except for the rail system and a bare upper, but I'd just wind up building some sort of retro carbine, playing with it some, and selling it in this panic or the next.

I'm still browsing eBay, though...

Hey, look!

"The AR-15 (and its many variants) wasn’t always America’s most popular rifle, but it has been for the last twenty years or so. The AR-pattern carbines on the ranges of 2020 look completely different from the most popular models on gun store racks at the turn of the millennium. My friend David has quipped that he can guess the year an AR was built by looking at it. In my experience he’s rarely far off. Driven by changes in technology, the evolution of TTPs (Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures), and simple fashions in the marketplace, the typical appearance and accessories have changed dramatically since the days when customers were snatching them off the shelves as last minute preparation for Y2K."
Surefire M300 Scout puts out better than double the lumens of the ultra-high-output xenon head on the old Millennium handguards, on only a third of the batteries.

Well, this is very 2020.

Apparently mink farms are getting hit by the 'Rona, which does a number on the little fanged slinkies, and it looks like pet carpet sharks aren't immune, either.
"These are the first reported cases of the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, infecting mink in the country. For months, authorities in European countries, including the Netherlands, Denmark, and Spain, have reported outbreaks in mink pelt farms, leading to the culling of more than a million of the soft, furry mammals. From laboratory experiments, it’s also clear that ferrets, a relative of minks, are also readily infected with the novel coronavirus."

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

It's true...

About how I thought that would work, actually...

As a side show to a recent gel project, I popped the block with a couple .41 Magnum rounds. I'd been curious as to what the 240gr Platinum Tip would do, although I had a sneaking suspicion, and I also fired a 175gr Silvertip as a control round.

The Platinum Tip round is fairly heavy-for-caliber and intended as a hunting round. It uses the reverse-taper jacket design, familiar from the Ranger-T and the old "Black Talon", where the jacket petals unfold into pointy 'claws' intended as a secondary wounding mechanism.

In this case, it performed like I thought it would. Winchester claims over 1200fps at the muzzle, which is a bunch for a 240gr bullet, and it expanded like a brochure catalog photo even through four layers of denim and carried through the entire 16" block of clear gel...before punching through the four layers of denim on the back side of the block and coming to rest, base forward, five inches into a second gel block.

This is probably a little too enthusiastic in the penetration department for a personal defense load and, even with the quad-Mag-Na-Ported barrel on the 57, recoil fell into the "brisk but manageable" category for sure.

The 175gr Silvertip was a pleasant surprise, though. It's loaded mildly, at least for a .41 Magnum, and intended for personal defense. It's rated at about the same velocity as the Platinum Tip, but only about three quarters the projectile weight. It's downright shootable from an N-frame.

The Silvertip projectile is an old design and not known for outstanding performance through 4LD, but if you put enough steam behind it and give it enough sectional density, it'll do okay. In this case it expanded violently enough to leave a trail of jacket fragments behind it before coming to rest in the denim on the far side of the block, which is nearly ideal performance in my layperson's opinion.

In this case, if I had to carry the .41 Magnum, I'd leave the hunting bullets for hunting and carry the antique self defense hollow points for self defense in the antique gun.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Paying Attention

Bobbi has a good post up regarding last night's politicking...
"Over on Facebook, a couple of my true-red conservative and pure-gold LP friends have proclaimed, with a kind of outraged purity, that of course they weren't watching the Democrat convention! Why, you couldn't pay them to watch!

That's one way. The problem with it is that if you don't keep an eye on 'em, politicians will rob you blind. Every four years, the two biggest parties go to the trouble of telling us (at least in part) just how they plan to work the heist -- and who would pass up that kind of advance notice?
It would be interesting to do a back of the envelope survey of people who go on at length about the Heinleinian sanctity of exercising the franchise, the need to do so as an informed voter, motivated enough to go to the polls in person on election day and show physical proof of identification, with all balloting materials in English only*...who also can't be arsed to watch or read a scrap of politically-oriented news or commentary from outside their own bubble.

*Because someone incapable of speaking or reading the de facto official language could not possibly be well-enough informed on the issues to exercise the franchise with due care, a viewpoint I will admit to having held off and on in the past.

"I see you've been on social media..."

A post shared by Mark L (@growingupguns) on

I LOL'ed. Been seeing this behavior since the days of reading gun fora over dialup. On a forum, the best indicator of its future occurrence is a screen name with any variation of "wolf" in it.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Dream me has good taste.

For some reason in my dream last night I was carrying my 4" Model 19-5 in an outside-the-waistband  Milt Sparks holster.

Model 19-5 with Hogue Monogrip. It was on the gun when I bought it from Marko and it's sorta grown on me. It must have, because in the dream last night someone mentioned how good it looked.

I don't know why I was doing it, but my big takeaway was the desire to have a nice OWB K-frame rig, perhaps with a cool exotic hide, like the elephant one from the dream.

These always make me laugh...

The emails from dudes who want to put "sponsored content" on my blog, that is.
"Please let us know pricing and options to place sponsored content on your website.

We can provide you with a high-quality piece of content, fitting your website audience."
Number one, providing the content is kinda what I do here, although I can't speak to the height of its quality.

Secondly, if you'd done two seconds of reading before shotgunning out your spam email, you'd have known this.

No you can't write in my online diary. So piss off.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Like a moth against a light bulb...

Watched all of The Tick...oops, no more of those.

Watched all of The Orville...oops, gonna be a while before there are more episodes online.

Watched all of Homecoming...oops, probably that's all?

Watched all of What We Do in the Shadows...oops, COVID-induced hiccup in producing Season Three...

Watching The Umbrella Academy...well, we just passed the halfway point in Season One, with Season Two yet to go, but...delayed oops?

It looks like the next season of The Boys is in the can and ready to roll, so there's that.

One of these days we're going to pick a series to watch over dinner that has eight or ten seasons with a dozen episodes each. The closest we've had recently is Breaking Bad.


Level Heads...

MattG's post from a few weeks ago is worth re-reading.


A couple times this past week I finished up my shooting at Marion County Fish & Game and tooled in to the downtown Roberts Camera store before heading home. This meant driving in to the city center via 16th Street, which runs right past the front gates of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Both times I caught the light right there at Gate 2, from where I could hear the cars howling past only a hundred yards or so to the north.

One of those was probably Conor Daly's USAF-sponsored #47 car, which is painted up as an homage to Glamorous Glennis...

I actually find myself desirous of a die-cast model for the first time in a while.

I'm still really torn on the new ginormous windscreen. Yeah, it's good for aero and yeah it protects drivers better from on-track debris...but so would a roof when you get right down to it. The screen also introduces problems of its own. I remember how Farmer Frank railed against those rear wheel sponsons and I can only imagine how he'd seethe about this.

It does look kinda cool with the right paint job, though, and I guess it's still technically open-topped, but from some angles it also looks like someone driving around with the top down and the side windows rolled up, which every convertible owner knows looks dorky af and is only done in emergencies.

Far from the Flagpole

If it happens between the coasts and it's not in Chicago, it's unlikely to get noticed by the national media.

The WaPo did publish a piece from a Cedar Rapids, Iowa reporter in the wake of the recent derecho that, fortunately, only clipped Indy with its southern fringe.
"In Linn County, where I live, 79 percent of people are without power, still, three days after the disaster. Cell service is spotty, where it exists. The few gas stations and grocery stores with power only take cash. And good luck getting cash from your bank, which is most likely closed. Even if you have the money, lines snake around the gas stations, two hours long or more, and the grocery stores are chaos. A citywide curfew exists. You can see the Milky Way from the darkened downtown.

My friend Ben Kaplan, a local photographer and videographer, described the situation this way: “There is no trash pickup. There are one hundred thousand fridges of rotting food. There are raccoons. There is no escape from the heat, except to run out of town to look for basic supplies in an air-conditioned car. Downtown, bricks and glass litter the sidewalks. Plate glass windows shattered during the storm. Many businesses have been physically destroyed. All restaurants lost all of their perishables. Factories are closed. Offices are closed. The economy — the whole thing — is stopped.” All of the destruction is compounded by complications from the pandemic, which make cleanup, charging stations and distributing meals all the more difficult.
Along with a dramatic photo of some flattened grain bins, the piece mentions that as much as 43 percent of the state's corn and soybean crops may have been damaged,

Friday, August 14, 2020

Suddenly relevant to my interests...

I wonder what the newest commercially-successful pistol design to use a self-sprung extractor is? That's a thing I hadn't really pondered. I mean, the pivoting claw has generally conquered the market, but here was Ruger holding on to the self-sprung type well into the Nineties.

Automotif CLXXIX...

I was sitting at a sidewalk table, enjoying a small "Hot Momma"* pizza at Byrne's, when this Aubergine '73 911T rolled up and parked in front of the Safeway across the street.

Did I scoop up my camera (D7000 and 16-80mm f/2.8-4), get up from my table, and run across the street to take photos? Yes. Yes I did.

*Pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, and jalapenos.

The Office...

The climate control at the office yesterday was busted, so it was pretty hot and sticky and I kept having to wipe the sweat out of my eyes, but the view was nice...

A post shared by Tamara Keel (@tamarakeel) on

I LOL'ed

Come on, man, a whole team of speechwriters to turn out fresh content and the White House hands a hostile media an easy layup like this?

And it was funny. You LOL'ed, too. Admit it.

Strange Side Effects

Apparently the surge in Zoom meetings for work-at-homers combined with the re-opening of voluntary medical procedures has caused a noticeable boom in one of the very most voluntary of procedures:
“I have never done so many face-lifts in a summer as I’ve done this year,” said Dr. Diane Alexander, a plastic surgeon in Atlanta. She said she had performed 251 procedures through the end of July from May 18, when her clinic opened back up for elective surgery. “Pretty much every face-lift patient that comes in says: ‘I’ve been doing these Zoom calls and I don’t know what happened but I look terrible.’ ”

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Time Travel

The Dukes of Hazzard hit the television in 1979, and the Duke boys' famous General Lee was a 1969 Dodge Charger, then a ten-year-old model.

The Charger nameplate itself was a year in the grave when the CBS series debuted, having last been seen on a plush-bottomed Thunderbird/Monte Carlo competitor that was a badge-engineered Chrysler Cordoba (or the Cordoba was a vice versa...).*

If the series were to be launched today, the Charger would be a current production sedan and Roscoe and Enos would be driving AWD 5.7L Hemi-powered Chargers with LED light bars, while the Duke boys' ten-year-old conveyance would be a tarted-up one of these:

*For the last couple years the series was on the air, you could again walk into a Dodge dealership and buy a Charger, albeit the nameplate was now affixed to a 4-cylinder FWD hatchback built on Chrysler's L-platform. This was derived from the Simca-Talbot Horizon and also undergirded the fuel crisis inspired Plymouth Horizon/Dodge Omni econoboxes. No word if you could get one with a Tricoloure on the roof and a horn that played La Marseillaise.


Had a lengthy "lessons learned" post to write over at the Patreon page.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

This right here.

Virtual Sea Voyages

Yesterday morning's nautical web wanderings had me, at one point, looking at stuff about the MS Dana Gloria. I'd gone from Newcastle to Gothenburg on her back in the Eighties and was kind of taken aback to discover she'd been lost in a typhoon a few years ago. I guess the proper rituals weren't followed on one of the vessel's numerous re-namings?

Anyway, doing a Google image search, I discovered that someone is selling 3D printed 1:1200 scale models of the ship. (I think I have a die cast one in the attic someplace.)

That's when I realized that 3D printing has probably completely re-shaped the whole "naval miniatures for wargaming" industry.

Market Ripples

The cheapest 9mm practice ammunition on the internet right now is Wolf 115gr FMJ, loaded with floor sweepings and reeking of hobo piss, being sold by the case for five hundred bucks or in fifty-round boxes for fifty-two cents a round.

...while you can buy all the .45GAP you want...high-quality Speer Lawman, at that...for $0.40/rd. Which is pretty much normal price.

Also, 9x25 Dillon stocks at Underwood and Double Tap seem normal. Which is to say expensive, of course, but availability is normal.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Sidewheeler See Vee...

...only it's not listed in the Navy's historic rolls as a CV (the hull designation for a carrier) but rather as an IX ("Unclassified Miscellaneous Unit"*).

I've mentioned the Navy's paddlewheel aircraft carriers before, conversions created by adding flight decks and island superstructures to passenger steamers. These emergency wartime conversions served to train aviators in carrier operations on the Great Lakes during World War Two.

Most of the photos of these unique vessels I'd seen online are tiny and it's hard to make out details, so I was tickled to stumble across an article at a British online modeling magazine on a large-scale model of IX-64, USS Wolverine, complete with bunches of illustrations of the ship's details.

Originally launched as the Seeandbee in 1912, a luxury steamer running overnight trips between Cleveland and Buffalo, she was converted to a training carrier in 1942 and sold for scrap in 1947.

There's a detailed photo book on the history of these oddball ships available in Kindle form, too.

*The USS Wolverine was IX-64 and the USS Sable was IX-81. The famous frigate USS Constitution, still on the Navy's rolls, was IX-21 from 1941 until 1975.

Cat Quirks

Rannie never seemed happy with the location of water dishes on the floor and always tried to reposition them more to her liking. It's a behavior I'd not seen in other cats, but Holden does it, too.

Bobbi has written a bit of verse regarding this particular feline behavioral quirk, having found a repositioned water bowl with a toe a time or two.


Monday, August 10, 2020

Better late than never!

Even though it is Monday, the Sunday Smith has gone up at the other blog.

Steal This Look! Crimson Trace LaserGrip and LightGuard, and probably thirty cases of ammo's worth of wear and tear. (Not Shown: Dark Star Gear IWB holster in blue kydex, and the Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson, 4th Edition that doesn't list Product Code 150580 for some reason.)


That's just, like, your opinion, man...

So the National Park Service says to not "push your slower friends down in attempts of saving yourself", to which I say "You're not the boss of me, Mister Park Ranger Man."

(I will also note that "don't push your slower friends down" is pretty specific, and leaves an array of options like tripping or kneecapping still on the table.)

It's like a giant metaphor for 2020...

Apparently the Nats ground crew did a pretty convincing Keystone Kops impression with the tarp during a rain delay yesterday...

Some of the replies have been hilarious!

Your own personal museum.

Via a comment to a post at The Online Photographer comes a photo album of a gorgeous personal museum, centered around a stunning BMW motorcycle collection but featuring so much more.

That's all at some dude's house. Notice the little sofas and loveseats scattered about? He can pour himself a pint or a couple fingers of bourbon and go contemplate that R75 sidecar rig in Afrika Korps livery or the 300SL Benz roadster in air-conditioned comfort.


Sunday, August 09, 2020


Automotif CLXXVIII...

Here's a cool story about a 2,000-mile road trip in an un-restored, sight-unseen '79 Trans Am.

And here are some pics of a 1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, 10th Anniversary Y89 option package.

Saturday, August 08, 2020

Par for the course...


I was contacted by several people regarding this video and was prepared to see something awful. I've been out of town for work the last couple days so I was worried...until I watched the video.

Yes, I know where that is. That's Meridian Street, Indianapolis's main north-south artery, where it goes under I-65 between 10th Street and 16th Street, the part known as "Broadcaster's Row" because it goes past the offices for all the local network affiliates and the Indiana public broadcasting offices. That's about four or five miles from Roseholme Cottage as the crow flies.

It didn't look like a violent protest to me. Looked like a pretty diverse crowd, including parents with children, peacefully assembled for the redress of (at least perceived*) grievances. Nobody was breaking anything; they were just chanting slogans. That's in the Bill of Rights, too, even before the part about guns. Yeah, marching down the middle of the street to do it wasn't very bright or polite, but Indianapolis doesn't have a jaywalking ordinance, either.

Instead of taking a right on 12th and cutting over to Capitol Avenue (or a left on 14th and cutting over to Pennsylvania Avenue) and continuing their journey south, dude in the blue truck tried to bull right through the middle of the crowd because MUH RIGHTS and discovered that in Indiana people can carry guns and might take umbrage at you attempting to run them over.

I don't have a dog in that particular fight; not my circus, not my monkeys.

*Indianapolis had a police shooting a couple months ago that, at least to my eyes, didn't seem really controversial, but there aren't any uncontroversial police shootings right now.

Friday, August 07, 2020


So, I remember attending "Establishing a Dominance Paradigm", a three day class team-taught by Tom Givens, Craig Douglas, and William Aprill a few years back.

The classroom portion was all William and, having sat in on a good dozen hours of William's lectures by that time, I didn't bother bringing any dedicated note-taking materials. I was pretty sure I had the material down...

Thirty minutes in, I was furiously trying to keep up on the virtual keyboard on my iPad mini, as I kept hearing things I hadn't heard before, both new material or stuff I'd heard him say before but really didn't have the references to process yet.

I heard yesterday that he just passed away. We are diminished.

Thursday, August 06, 2020

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #188...

When you're doing a bunch of shooting with fairly generic plastic blasters for work, sometimes you have to slip in a li'l sumpin' sumpin' for fun...

Shooting this thing almost never fails to bring a smile to my face. A steel 9mm 1911 is like shooting with the cheat codes enabled...

The Big Bang

Here's a really cool photo essay on the effects of the big blast in Beirut.

That was about fifteen B-17's bombloads worth of explosive going off all at once in one place.

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

"Giant steps are what you take..."

This video shot with the new Sony A7S III is absolutely amazeballs...

It was such a wild shot that my palms forgot to sweat near the end there.

Not least because a near miss could have bagged Hemingway.

Something I've always wondered...

The Beeb had a story about Spain's ex-king, Juan Carlos, leaving the country, and that made me wonder about ex-kings...or, actually, ex-royalty in general.

When you step down from kinging, does your blood still have that magic juju of kinginess in it, that 'divine right' or whatever? Or is it like just regular people blood now?

Like, if some wizard needed "royal blood" as an ingredient for an alchemical potion, could you scrape up some extra bucks to make exile more comfortable by bopping down to the blood bank and squeezing out a pint for him, or nah?

Ignorance or deliberate misinformation or simply convention?

A tale in two pictures:

Sarah Hoyt at Instapundit types "AND OF COURSE THE MSM HERE WILL NEVER PUBLISH ANY OF THIS", which I found weird because I was pretty sure I saw it on both the local and national  network news yesterday evening...

So I expended one mouse click and nineteen keystrokes and found the following:

"Layers of editorial oversight", y'all. Remember that joke from the golden age of blogging? Good times.

"THE MSM WILL NEVER PUBLISH THIS" has become a formulaic partisan dogwhistle that isn't connected to any actual reality. I wonder how many bloggers have some variant of it in a macro?

Monday, August 03, 2020

This is the most 2020 thing I've read yet.

What gun for one million radioactive communist cannibal ants?

ETA: And yes, the story itself dates to last year and is reporting on events that had occurred years before that. But that has just given the ants time to get closer.

I did not know that...

...about John Mosby.
"Meanwhile, Mosby became active in the Republican Party and campaigned for Grant. He fought for reconciliation and tried to secure similar pardons for other Confederate veterans, but many of his ex-Confederate comrades weren’t interested—they saw him as a traitor.

He received death threats, anti-reconstructionists burned his childhood home to the ground and there was at least one assassination attempt. Years later, he wrote to his friend and associate Ben Chapman that there was “more vindictiveness shown to me by the Virginia people for my voting for Grant than the North showed to me for fighting four years against him.”

Pres. James Garfield later appointed Mosby to the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong. After returning from China he spent 16 years in California working as a lawyer for the Southern Pacific Railroad before returning to Washington in 1901.

Dude definitely led an interesting life, being born in an era when Texas was still part of the First Mexican Republic and there were only a handful of steam locomotives in the entire twenty four united states, and dying the day before the Royal Navy's Grand Fleet met the Kaiser's High Seas Fleet in the largest naval battle of a global, industrialized conflict, a war being contested with airplanes and submarines.

Worth a Watch...

Definitely a thing worth thinking about.

Sunday, August 02, 2020

...and not a single rest stop to get out and stretch.

If it's Sunday...

There's a new Sunday Smith up at the other blog!

The drawings of the early prototype revolvers mentioned in it can be found on p.136 of Roy Jinks' History of Smith & Wesson.

Using academia's tools on academia's house.

Prof. Yamane reviews the book Land, God and Guns: Settler Colonialism and Masculinity in the American Heartland, and finds parts of it to be even more problematic than the lack of an Oxford comma in the title. (Which I had to type twice and it still makes me itch to scan it.)

Eternal Verities...

History is full of lessons regarding revolutions.

The first is that every single time, Robespierre wakes up one morning to discover he's no longer woke enough, and the second is this:

The more, the merrier...

From a reasonably even-handed (considering the source) CNN story on an increase in gun ownership among Latinos:
"Even before the mass shooting, the number of hate crimes targeting Latino or Hispanic people increased in 2018 and the previous four years, according to data from the FBI's annual Hate Crime Statistics report.

Tired of living in fear, some people like Martinez have opted to purchase firearms to feel a sense of security.
The Second Amendment is for everybody. Self defense, and access to the the means to do so effectively, is a basic human right.

Sadly, the reporter showed some evidence of missing the point:
"It's unclear how many Latinos have bought guns in the past year, as there isn't a national database of gun ownership that shows demographics."
That's kind of missing the point of the whole Second Amendment. Being able to shoot muggers or lynch mobs is a happy side effect of the constitutionally-enshrined right to keep and bear arms, but its primary purpose is as an ultimate hedge against tyranny. You don't want potential tyrants having a list of who has the means to shoot them in the face.

Saturday, August 01, 2020

Mariprofundis R'lyehianum

Just in case extracting the DNA of the ancestor of bubonic plague from the teeth of neolithic skulls doesn't trigger the final boss fight of 2020 A.D., scientists are also feeding nutrients to dormant hundred-million-year-old bacteria from the benthic mud of the abyssal plains of the ocean to wake them up and see what happens.


There is no way that HLV2514 is going to get here in time.


Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #187...

A Savage 1917 and a Fabrique Nationale Model 1899 at the range on Friday morning. You know I love my .32 Autos!

The striker-fired FN 1899 was John Moses Browning's first commercially successful autopistol design, and the .32ACP is pretty much the oldest commercially successful autopistol cartridge still in relatively common use.

Well, that's pretty gruesome...

A rent dispute between roommates in Connecticut got...well, it got about as ugly as it's possible to get:
"A Connecticut man decapitated his landlord with a sword after being told he had to move out because of overdue rent, Hartford police say.

The Hartford Police Department responded to a 911 call Saturday morning from the landlord, Victor King, who said that his roommate Jerry Thompson, 42, had been "waving a sword at him in a threatening and terrorizing manner" amid a rent dispute, according to an arrest warrant filed by Hartford detectives.
Huh. That seems like a bit of an hysterical overreaction for a normal person to have when...oh...
"Once a search warrant was obtained, police found paperwork suggesting Thompson believed he was a "sovereign citizen," or an individual who believes he is not subject to any statutes and interprets the laws in their own way, the detectives wrote."
I guess the gold fringe on the eviction notice set him off or something.

Since he looks like he's going with the good ol' pro se defense, I need to set up a Google alert for this because those are always kneeslappers.

Dinner Hour Entertainment

Bobbi and I finished up the last of Season Three of Stranger Things early this week. Loved it! The best episodes have an emotional range that is almost Pratchett-like.

Dinner-time theater for the rest of the week was the second season of Homecoming, which is basically, as Bobbi put it, the first season turned inside out. (We'd watched the first season before bingeing Stranger Things.) I loved the cinematography and the way feelings for various characters changed as layers of the story were peeled away. Good TV!

Now we have to decide what to watch next.