Sunday, February 28, 2021

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #197...

I'm working on a blog post, so in the interim, have a picture of a .22/.32 Heavy Frame Target and a no-dash Model 34 Kit Gun. They're about thirty years apart, chronologically; one's an I-frame and the other's an Improved I-frame. This is tangentially related to the upcoming post.


Saturday, February 27, 2021

Bad Numbers

Like I've said, statistically speaking, you already know the person you're most likely to have to pepper spray.

There's a darker side to that statistic, and Kathy Jackson takes a closer look at it, and what it implies for some of the statistics often tossed around by anti-self-defense types in gun control discussions.
You should go and read what she wrote.


Short Horizons

Shannon Stirone is a freelance writer based out of the Bay Area who apparently covers the Science/Space/NASA beat for a fair number of pubs and also has her own Medium page. Recently she felt the need to go off on Musk for his ideas regarding colonizing Mars.
"Musk is not from Mars, but he and Sagan do seem to come from different worlds. Like Sagan, Musk exhibits a religious-like devotion to space, a fervent desire to go there, but their purposes are entirely divergent. Sagan inspired generations of writers, scientists, and engineers who felt compelled to chase the awe that he dug up from the depths of their heart. Everyone who references Sagan as a reason they are in their field connects to the wonder of being human, and marvels at the luck of having grown up and evolved on such a beautiful, rare planet.

The influence Musk is having on a generation of people could not be more different. Musk has used the medium of dreaming and exploration to wrap up a package of entitlement, greed, and ego. He has no longing for scientific discovery, no desire to understand what makes Earth so different from Mars, how we all fit together and relate. Musk is no explorer; he is a flag planter.
Wow. Maybe she's personally mad at Elon for bogarting a joint at a Bay Area party or something?

Putting aside her patronizing 'splaining to Elon that it's impossible to live on Mars without some sort of artificial habitat, which I'm sure he knew already but could have figured out from nearly any random sci-fi movie or TV show of the last fifty years, her shriveled and joyless view of humanity's future in space is gobsmacking.  

Apparently other planets aren't places for us normies to settle and live on, just for specially-selected government astronauts to occasionally visit and bring back rocks.


Fight for Fifteen, or Fight the Future?

Fast Food Workers of the World, Unite! You have nothing to lose but your jobs!
"At a McDonald's drive-thru in a Chicago suburb, customers may notice something different about the voice that takes their orders for Big Macs and fries.

"Welcome to McDonald's, what can I get for you?" it asks in a welcoming, unmistakably feminine tone. While the voice sounds helpful, it's also stilted and monotonous enough for the average customer to figure out they're being served by a computer, not a human. It's a lot like Alexa or Siri, but for a drive-thru: a system driven by artificial intelligence that McDonald's is testing out to speed up its service.
The article touts the features and benefits of these ordering systems...

It looks like smaller chains, such as White Castle, want a piece of this action, too.
Don't worry, I'm sure that if you haven't opted in to their customer loyalty program, the license plate scanner will totally forget that it scanned yours and it won't in any way affect the flow of junk mail at your house or anything.

You might also remember White Castle from an earlier story along these lines:

I guess burger flippers and fast food order takers should have learned to code.


Friday, February 26, 2021

Falling Off a Cliff

First, the scaremongering video. Anybody who was invested in these companies would soil their Underoos watching this.

That's...well, that's bad. Right?

Of course, they go on to explain that's only telling part of the story. Measuring everything from 2010 is ignoring the fact that 2010 was a peak for camera sales after years of explosive growth. 

In 2000, digital cameras were weird and clunky things still. The Mavica I bought in 2001 recorded 1024x768 images on floppy discs. It was discontinued merchandise at Wally World, already obsolete only two years after being released with a thousand dollar MSRP. 

Ten years later, a thousand bucks would buy a Canon 60D, which is still a recognizably modern DSLR, capable of recording eighteen megapixel images; that means that unless your screen resolution is set to 5184x3456, which I'm betting it's not, you're not going to see the whole image onscreen at once*.

The stretch of time from 2000 to 2010 was a decade of explosive, crazy, Moore's Law-esque growth in the digital camera world, and it kept people on the upgrade treadmill pretty effectively. Camera makers relentlessly searched for niche markets of customers needing a way to record images, and tried to fill every little one of them. Look at how many different camera models Nikon alone introduced in 2010, from DPreview:

And that was a middlin' busy year for Nikon intros. Look how thinly they were slicing that market! There's even a camera in there with a built-in projector.

This is one of those scenarios where, with the benefit of 20/20 (or 20/21, as the case may be) hindsight, you wonder "Why did nobody look around and think 'There's no way this can last. Eventually everybody's gonna have a camera that makes them happy.'"

Which is, of course, what happened. 

It happened because 2010 is also about the time that sales of smartphones with actual usable cameras really took off and now pretty much everyone does have a camera that makes them happy, only it's part of their phone and therefore not counted by CIPA, the camera industry's trade organization. The NSSF should thank their lucky stars that smartphones don't come chambered in 9mm.

I know that even with its feeble (by modern standards) 3.2MP rear camera, my first smartphone dramatically increased the number of photos shared on the blog. Meanwhile, by the time I bought my first DSLRs in 2013, the market was about to enter free fall. In a way, I helped, since I bought a used Rebel XTi, deciding that a camera that was a couple generations out of date was still plenty adequate for my modest needs.

Over at The Online Photographer, Mike has a philosophical take on it, suggesting it might be more of a return to normal from a bubble.
"As far as "our end of the market" goes, I'm concerned, yes, but not panicked. We had a lot of good choices back in the '80s when I went to art school, and we have a lot of good choices now. There were 5.2 million DSLR and mirrorless ILCs sold in 2020. If you compare that to the top end of the market in 1985 when I graduated from the Corcoran School of Art with a degree in photography—setting aside all those point-and-shoots—well, I don't know for sure, but I'll bet the players at that time would be plenty impressed with that figure. Yes, I was sad we lost Olympus; but consider that, thanks to Andreas Kaufmann, Leica survived to thrive in the digital era, which looked pretty darned unlikely at times during the transition. I would have bet against it. And Panasonic was definitely not a player when I came up. Fuji was mainly a film manufacturer. Lose some, win some."

*...and ten years after that, a thousand bucks gets you Canon's full-frame mirrorless EOS RP, which sports a 6240x4160 resolution. The curve is leveling out, though, and the dwindling market means it will probably continue to do so.


"Listen, Legoland..."

I used the word "gackass" last night and it wound up requiring explanation. I'd thought everyone had seen this, but apparently not.

Thursday, February 25, 2021


I thought the opening credits to American Gods had a familiar feel. Looking into it, the production house that did them, Elastic, also did the opening for Altered Carbon and (maybe my favorite) the first season of True Detective.


Stay frosty!

Remember, everyone that drives faster than you is a maniac and everyone who drives slower is a moron.
"I'm prepared, you're paranoid, that guy over there's a sheeple."

By the way, if you're not reading Growing Up Guns, you should be.


Light Painting

Borepatch's co-blogger ASM826 describes the technique of "light painting" using a flash:

Here's a video that shows some light painting in action. (I don't know anything about the dude who made the video, but it's illustrative of the technique.)

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Sympathetic Wince

What do me and Tiger Woods have in common? 

Steel rods in our right shins from catastrophic compound tib-fib fractures, and neither of us can play golf right now.
"Tiger Woods is recovering following hours of surgery to repair comminuted open fractures in his right leg following a serious car accident in Los Angeles on Tuesday (February 23) morning. A comminuted fracture is when a bone breaks into several pieces and pierces the skin. 
Orthopedic trauma surgeons at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center had to insert a rod to repair his tibia and used screws and pins to stabilize the damage in his ankle and foot. 
"Comminuted open fractures affecting both the upper and lower portions of the tibia and fibula bones were stabilized by inserting a rod into the tibia," Dr. Anish Mahajan said in a statement. "Additional injuries to the bones of the foot and ankle were stabilized with a combination of screws and pins. Trauma to the muscle and soft-tissue of the leg required surgical release of the covering of the muscles to relieve pressure due to swelling.""
Dude's gonna be off his feet for a bit and he's gonna need to learn to walk all over again, which sucks. His break sounds even worse, because I got off lightly in terms of soft tissue damage and my feet didn't get busted up.


Speaking to the gods & feelings in your belly.

I'm engaged in a project to dramatically reduce the number of books and magazines in the attic. I had been dragging stuff to Half Price Books in fits and starts before the Time of the 'Rona, and since then I've just been dropping off boxes at the Goodwill store on Keystone Avenue.

Gun magazines are mostly goners except for ones I'm in, or older ones I use for reference. In fact, most magazines are going away except a few old collectibles and my fairly complete library of Car and Driver. Nonfiction books are getting culled pretty heavily, keeping only ones I'll use for reference purposes or found entertaining enough that I'll likely reread them at some point.

The fiction paperback shelves are getting culled in much the same fashion: Outside of certain classics or favorite authors, the general test is "Am I going to reread this?" As an example, the Harry Turtledove shelves got cleared pretty heavily. I liked most of his stuff just fine when I read it, and I definiely recommend him as an author, but most of it just doesn't have a lot of re-reading potential for me, personally.

There are a couple exceptions and one is Between the Rivers, which is both in a historical setting I find interesting (the dawn of the city-state era in Mesopotamia) and has at its core a very interesting conceit. In this novel, most of the early Bronze Age Mesopotamian city states are still under the sway of their gods, with their people practically no more than automatons. The novel's protagonist comes from a particular city,  Gibil, which has propitiated its city deity to the point that he slumbers constantly, giving the citizens of that city state a unique amount of free will. Madcap hijinks ensue.

This is a riff on the theory put forth by Julian Jaynes in The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, which is pretty controversial and leaves some serious unanswered questions.

The review of the book at Slate Star Codex has, I think, a useful take on the idea...

"Here Jaynes is at his most brilliant, going through ancient texts one by one, noting the total lack of mental imagery, and highlighting the many everyday examples of conversations with gods. Every ancient culture has near-identical concepts of a god who sits inside of you and tells you what to do. The Greeks have their daemons, the Romans their genii, the Egyptians their ka and ba, and the Mesopotamians their iri. The later you go, the more metaphorically people treat these. The earlier you go, the more literal they become. Go early enough, and you find things like the Egyptian Dispute Between A Man And His Ba which is just a papyrus scroll about a guy arguing loudly with the hallucinatory voice of his guardian spirit, and the guardian spirit’s hallucinatory voice arguing back, and nobody thinking any of this is weird (people who aren’t Jaynes would wimp out and say this is “metaphorical”). Every ancient text is in complete agreement that everyone in society heard the gods’ voices very often and usually based decisions off of them. Jaynes is just the only guy who takes this seriously.

Turn on what Terry Pratchett called “first sight and second thoughts” and try to look at the Bronze Age with fresh eyes. It was really weird. People would center their city around a giant ziggurat, the “House of God”, with a giant idol within. They would treat this idol exactly like a living human – feeding it daily, washing it daily, sometimes even marching it through the streets on sedan chairs carried by teams of slaves so it could go on a “connubial visit” to the temple of an idol of the opposite sex! When the king died, hundreds of thousands of men would labor to build him a giant tomb, and then they would kill a bunch of people to serve him in the afterlife. Then every so often it would all fall apart and everyone would slink away into the hills, trying to pretend they didn’t spend the last twenty years buliding a jeweled obelisk so some guy named Ningal-Iddida could boast about how many slaves he had.

If the Bronze Age seems kind of hive-mind-y, Julian Jaynes argues this is because its inhabitants weren’t quite individuals, at least not the way we think of individuality. They were in the same kind of trance as a schizophrenic listening to voices commanding him to burn down the hospital. All of it – the ziggurats, the obelisks, the pyramids – were an attempt to capture not individual humans, but those humans’ daemons – to get people to identify the voice in their head with the local deity, and replace their free will with a hallucinatory god who represented their mental model of society’s demands on them."

Go and RTWT.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Today's Cat Picture Interlude...

Holden appears to have taken possession of one of Bobbi's notebooks. Pic done with an EOS M6 & EF-M 22mm f/2 STM lens, wide open at ISO 1600.


Mars Needs Mic Mittens

That skycrane lowering the rover from a near hover and then blasting away on its thrusters is pretty epic, and took a lot of engineering confidence. Used also with the Curiosity rover, it's lot showier than bumping down in a ball of airbags like earlier efforts.

Curiosity descent illustration from Wikipedia

Lots of oohing and aahing from the network anchors about the "sounds from Mars", which is just wind blowing across a mic and normally something networks pay money for gadgets to eliminate. I don't know what Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb thought they were going to hear. Thoat farts? Thark war cries?


Monday, February 22, 2021

Sign of the Times

Because I try and keep at least a trickle of ammo coming in for testing purposes, I'm winding up seeing weird stuff in these days of beggars not being choosers. Importers and wholesalers are finding what they can get and selling it on.

The most recent acquisition, purchased from Lucky Gunner, was some 9x19mm 115gr JHP from IMI Systems that they're calling "Di-Cut". It comes in brown cardboard fifty-round boxes. The primers appear to be sealed and the bullet has a sort of SXT look to it. I'll get some chrono data, and shoot some jello here later this week.

Cleanup on Aisle GBBL

From the Gun Blog Black List:
"I took it over in 2013 after the others had to leave for professional reasons (can't blog AND be a paid gun writer)."
Huh. I learned a lot from Farmer Frank, but he never told me about that part.

Anyway, Old NFO and the crew who are currently maintaining the GBBL are asking for help in cleaning up the sidebars, so check in if you're active, don't if you're not, I guess?


Sunday, February 21, 2021

Mouseguns, Then and Now

A frequently-encountered fixture at the gun store is the crusty old dude leaning on the doesn't matter if he's leaning on the employee side or the customer side, he's there somewhere...and intoning that all these new-fangled nine millimeter pistols are silly and calibers don't count for self defense unless they start with "four".

Given the persistence of this hoary myth, where did all those .38, .32, and even .25 handguns come from back in the good ol' days?

For starters, dispel the myth of the Old West being someplace where people walked around all the time with spurs a-jingle-jangle-jinglin' and the big iron on their hip. While it wasn't the network of strict gun control laws that revisionists try to paint it, nor either was it the open-carry paradise of Hollywood myth.

In mid-late 19th Century America, walking around a town or city setting with a full-size horse pistol stuffed in your belt would be seen as eccentric as it would in similar surroundings today. Perhaps more so, since 19th Century Americans didn't grow up watching old John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies on cable. On the other hand, guns were everywhere.

"But wait, Tam!" you say, "I thought you just said people mostly didn't walk around with the big iron on their hip!"

Well, generally they didn't. First, a Colt's M1873, the Peacemaker of Hollywood lore, went for around twenty bucks over most of the time period of the Old West. They made about 175,000 of them, including military contract guns, over that period. (Smith & Wesson, by comparison, made almost twice that many of the big No.3 top-breaks, for what it's worth.)

Twenty bucks was a lot of dough, relatively speaking. About a tenth the cost of a good saddle horse and the equivalent of a pretty nice AR-15 these days. Since cowboys and miners around the various cowtowns and mining boomtowns were overwhelmingly young, single men with fairly low-overhead lifestyles, it wouldn't be amiss to think of the Colt Peacemaker and well-saddled Quarter Horse in 1870s Dodge City as the equivalent of a Daniel Defense carbine and Ford Raptor in 2010s Midland-Odessa. I have no idea what the 19th Century equivalent of truck nuts was, and considering that male working horses are almost uniformly geldings, I'm not sure I want to.

Meanwhile, there were literal millions of .22, .32, .38, and .41 pocket guns, rimfires and centerfires, sold over the same period. Human nature hasn't changed much over the years, and I didn't see no metal detectors at that saloon in Tombstone. Most every person had a gun for pocket, purse, or nightstand and, probably like most gun owners today, carried it if they felt like they were "going someplace they might need it."

In its original black powder format in tip-up Smiths, the .32 Rimfire Short essentially duplicated the ballistics of .31 caliber cap & ball pocket revolvers.

Thing is, most of the little black powder guns really were anemic. An old Colt 1849 Pocket Model, a .31 caliber cap'n'ball number, struggled to hit 600fps with a 50gr round ball and normal loads. The .38 S&W black powder cartridges used in top-break Smiths fired a much heavier bullet, albeit at about the same velocity. The .41 Rimfire Short, used in Remington Derringers and some pocket revolvers, barely got its 130gr conical bullet up over 400 feet per second; I've seen one go through a cardboard target, only to fail to penetrate a hardwood stump a dozen or so yards downrange deeply enough to lodge itself firmly in the wood.

Reel West vs. Real West: Guns like this S&W .32 Single Action and Colt New Line .38 rimfire are a lot more typical of the period than the Peacemaker.

When the French introduced smokeless powder, everybody went a little gaga over the higher velocities offered by the new, small, metal-jacketed bullets. Velocities for pocket pistols were topping 800 or 900 feet per second with the new .32 cartridge from John Browning. Equipped with FMJ bullets, cartridges like the .32ACP and .380 had no problems with penetration, at least compared to the pocket pistol rounds of the black powder era. Newer revolver cartridges, like .32 Smith & Wesson Long and .38 Special, were reaching these dizzying velocities with lead bullets.

I'm sure in the early 1900s you could find someone leaning on the gun counter at the local hardware store speaking in Authentic Frontier Gibberish about how "they didn't make a .46!", no doubt. But that didn't stop the Russians and Japanese shooting each other in job lots in the trenches of Port Arthur and Mukden with service revolvers chambered in cartridges whose bullet diameters would have caused Gun Counter Guy to curl his lip in involuntary disdain, but which were viewed as modern because of their higher velocities relative to the black powder rounds they supplanted. (9mm Type 26's for the Japanese versus 7.62x38 M1895 Nagants for the Russkies.) Heck, gun store guys like Teddy Roosevelt, right? Well, when he had revolvers issued to the NYPD, they were .32 Long Colts.

But, hey, if there's one thing we've learned about the Old West, it's that when the legend becomes fact, print the legend.


Saturday, February 20, 2021

Friday, February 19, 2021

Plowing has happened.

We got enough snow at once for the city to activate the small army of contractors to clear the side streets. (Indy DPW only does the major streets, which means unless there's a big snowfall, we have to slip'n'slide our way to 54th Street or College Avenue before we get to cleared pavement.)

Yesterday around lunch there was a Suburban with a plow blade clearing the street in front of Roseholme Cottage. The same neighbor with the snowthrower from the other day went out and did the walks on both sides of our street, and the Democrat Next Door called us to let us know she'd paid for a plow to do the alley. 

So that's pretty much the end of the Z3 being stranded for Snowpocalypse '21, aside from maybe a little shovel work right around the garage. Which...I mean, there's no place I really have to drive for the next couple days, anyway, so I'll probably let Mother Nature do her work and take the car out Monday. Being able to walk to the store is nice.

Oh, and it looks like the Monon Trail has been mostly cleared, too...

Looking like this will be the year...

Good news on the Constitutional Carry front here in Indiana:
"House Bill 1369 did make progress this week. It passed out of the Public Policy Committee in the House and was approved by the Ways & Means Committee. Now it heads to a vote on the floor of the House this week, where it’s expected to pass and move over to the Senate."
Funny how it easily greased through a Bosma-less House. I thought he was a conservative Republican and a friend of the Second Amendment?


Thursday, February 18, 2021

Counterintuitively Intuitive

Fountain pens, automatic watches, tube amps, revolvers, mechanical cameras...

There's a certain fascination with this bygone tech. I've gone on before about how I love the mechanical nature of the Leica III. If all you want to do is wind it up and click the shutter, that alone is enjoyable. Assuming, however, that you want to use it to actually make photographs, the process is a little more involved. Just getting the film into the camera with an old Barnack Leica can be an adventure for the uninitiated. (Get a trimming guide. You'll thank me later.)

It's possible to get the entirely mechanical camera experience with a lot less fussiness. Take the Nikon FM2n for instance...

Absolutely mechanical. The only thing the battery does is function the built-in light meter.

The thing is, what are you doing with the camera? What is the function you are trying to perform? If it's just to wind the lever and listen to the click-clack of the shutter and mirror, again, you don't even need to put film in this one either. You can twist knobs and wind levers and spin aperture & focus rings sitting at a desk without any film in sight, like an extremely elaborate fidget spinner.

While it is possible, with good software and a bit of skill, to emulate the look of all manner of film stock in digital photography, the simplest and easiest way I've found to get that "film look" is to just go ahead and shoot on film.

And if the end result, an image on film, is what the user is trying to achieve, then deliberately seeking out cameras that make it harder to achieve that result is...well, maybe it's kinda counterproductive?

These days when I look at "film cameras for beginners" lists, I see recommendations like the Nikon FM2, Olympus OM-1, or Pentax K1000.

These cameras are all-manual. Unless someone has a grasp of the exposure triangle...shutter speed, aperture, ISO (light sensitivity of the film/sensor)...they are going to be burning film trying to learn it.

Hey, you know what one of the cool things about digital cameras is? You can take practically an unlimited number of photographs and see the results instantly for free. Right then. No waiting for developing film to see what came out and how the different settings affected the image. If you want to learn how to shoot in manual mode, and you're doing it with film instead of a digital camera, you're taking swimming lessons with lead bricks in your pocket. 

There's no virtue in suffering; don't needlessly complicate things for yourself. Buy an older, cheaper DSLR and play with manual mode on it before buying a film camera.

But suppose you've played around with an old DSLR and want to use a film camera now? Hey, did you know that there are film cameras that have the same control layout as that DSLR and will even use the same lenses?

And the best part is that these cameras are currently as cheap as dammit.

That EOS Elan II there? That was Canon's "advanced hobbyist/prosumer" camera from the middle of '95 and into the first year of the current millennium. Its controls will be familiar to any Canon DSLR user. It is loaded with features, the film loading and transport is entirely automated, it's got three autofocus points, and when it debuted in 1995 it went for almost a thousand bucks (great big 1995 dollars, not tiny 2021 dollars) without a lens. Now they're all over eBay for $35-$75. 

Why? Hipsters want dials and this thing feels too modern. Hey, do you want to spin dials or take pictures? You can buy two or three of these for the going rate on a Canon AE-1 Program, and if you went back to 1995 and told someone in a camera store that in the 21st Century, tattooed people in skinny jeans and weird facial hair would pay three times the price of an Elan II for an AE-1, they'd have laughed in your face.

And then there's the Nikon N80...

Nosing around eBay, these are going for fifty to a hundred bucks, generally, which is barely enough to put an FM2 or F3 on layaway. Yet this is Nikon's last prosumer film body; it served as the basis for early DSLRs and you could still walk into a camera shop and buy a brand new N80 in the first year of the Obama administration. It's an amazingly capable camera and yet people are out there spending twice the money for Pentax K1000's.

"Oh, Tamara!" you say, "The K1000 was a common learner camera for schools back in the day of film!" Yeah, and my driver's ed program in high school used Chevy Cavaliers and Celebrities. Do you think they did that because Hertz-tier Chevrolets were amazeballs automobiles? Or because they were cheap?

You can pick up a D200 or D300 and an N80 for next to nothing and pick up a lens that works on both. Learn all about f-stops and ISO on the digital body where you'll get instant feedback and then swap the lens over to the N80...remember, the controls will be the same...and use what you learned.

So, yeah, these late autofocus film bodies are absolutely the most amazing deals in film photography right now because so many people are using film cameras to Be Retro rather than using film cameras to Take Photos that the market is driving up the prices on technically inferior cameras.

But, hey, I'm just some random blog writer, so don't take my word for it. Instead, listen to this genuine camera dude:
"The Minolta Maxxum 5 (and all other mid-level AF SLRs from its era) has a specification sheet that would literally melt the brain of any hypothetical time-traveling camera designer who finished his career in 1955 and died one day later. He’d blink at the Maxxum’s spec sheet with bulging eyes and a sweaty lip, wonder how focus can be automatic, scream when he sees multiple metering modes, and puke when automatic exposure bracketing is explained to him. He’d probably instantaneously die if he heard the electronic automated burst mode of a Nikon F90 (4.3 FPS). And then his ghost would desperately wail that “the camera must cost $10,000!” More on cost later. 
“James,” you might say to me if we were on a first name basis, “I don’t believe you. How can a dorky mid-level autofocus SLR from the 1990s or 2000s be so much better than the legendary Leica M3 or the Nikon F3, or the Mamiya 7, or whatever other stylish camera everyone’s currently screaming at me to buy?” 
Let me convince you. Those cameras that everyone wants you to buy aren’t as good as they say they are. They’re heavy, lacking in light meters or auto-exposure modes, or bracketing, or exposure compensation, or multiple exposure modes, or spot-metering or matrix metering or auto anything. These popular camera can’t do one tenth of the things that mid-level cameras from the time between 1995 and 2004 can do. In fact, the only thing that a Leica M3 does better than a Maxxum 5 is look good. The Leica has timeless style. The Maxxum 5 looks like it belongs to a dad at Disneyland who’s wearing a fanny pack and speed-walking shoes for entirely practical reasons."

Go and read the whole thing, if you need further convincing. But he ain't lying.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Weather Report

How it started:

How it's going:

The first picture is a little after lunch time on Monday, and the second one is about noon on Tuesday. There was a fair bit of shoveling this morning, especially since I cleared the sidewalk as far as the front walks of the houses on either side. One of the neighbors across the street got out his snowthrower and cleared the walks on our block on both sides of the street a little after I was done, which was right neighborly of him. I need to leave a sixer on his porch.


You can't let 'em generation gap you, dude.

Evergreen Conspiracy

One of my favorite conspiracy theories has been the one where tens of thousands of (Warsaw Pact/United Nations/Communist Chinese) troops are (staged at hidden bases in our country/lurking just over the Mexican and Canadian borders) and about to take over our fair land.

This meme comes with numerous subtropes, too! There's the one where the stickers on the back of roadsigns, hastily slapped there by DOT workers, are actually a secret code directing the invaders. Because foreigners drive on the wrong side of the road, see? 

This is sometimes conflated with the haphazard adoption of more international-looking symbols on US roadsigns in the 1970s. We never signed on to the Vienna Convention, but we did change some signs, and if you want to get American conspiracy nuts in a tizzy, either change something about the road signs or something about the money. How changing the symbols on the front of the signs is supposed to help the UN troops when they're all driving on the wrong side of the road looking for the stickers on the back of the signs is an exercise best left to the reader.

"Where ever you find "handicapped access" signs and symbols and "YIELD" signs, you will also find a targeted site to be confiscated by the military. 
Again, these signs are *European* in origin. When foreign sinage began to be injected into our own sign system in the 1960's the American people were told by the Department of Transportation, these signs were needful because of all of the *European* tourist entering our country, that we have to make them feel more at home while visiting our country! This fabricated *LIE* wrapped in an excuse is now exposed! In our research, these foreign signs are a major component in a scheme to set-up our nation, not for foreign *tourists*, but for an invasion of foreign troops! This was the real reason for their arrival in America, and it is continuing unabated. Actually, American road signs are becoming more and more confusing to understand as they shift to "wordless pictorials" and strange *stackings* of signage to accomodate the hidden codes for military operations. 
Arrows pointing "UP" are a confirmed code symbol that identifys an important site and has been a regular feature at helicopter pick-up and drop zones."
I can't help it, all the arrows pointing every which way in these diagrams make me think of a much more recent internet meme.

Other sure signs of impending foreign invasion and internment:
  • The barcode scanners at Walmart and other big box stores are there to scan the marks that will be tattooed on the patriots who've been rounded up. They'll then store you in the Walmart garden center, which is why it has a big chain-link fence around it.
  • As a matter of fact, anything with a big chain link fence around it, from basketball and tennis courts to big-city industrial facilities, is interpreted by these loons as a secret detention facility for patriots.
  • Which is why they think barbed wire atop security fences points inward. That's a much more exciting reason than the actual one, which has everything to do with liability.
The most common trope is the flurry of worry that accompanies the sighting of any convoy of military vehicles moving by road or rail. Back in the early Nineties, early in the Clinton years and during the heyday of Michigan Mike and the Black Helicopter panic, several US companies were buying up ex-Warsaw Pact vehicles and refurbishing them for resale. The sight of rail cars or parking lots full of BTRs or whatever was a guaranteed crowd-pleaser on militia boards in the day. 

It reached its crescendo when some company was painting them white with big "U.N." markings to sell on to a country who intended to use them for its peacekeeping forces. That caused such a stir, with people thinking they were the vanguard of the long-feared U.N. invasion, that The New American actually did an investigative piece debunking it. 

Bro, when the frickin' John Birch Society is telling you to stop being a paranoid whacko and slow your roll, you need to stop being a paranoid whacko and slow your roll.

In a way, it was comforting to learn that even now, thirty years on, the details may have changed a bit, but the same fantasy Red Dawn LARP is evergreen and happening right now in the kookier corners of the internet:
It's comforting to know that the myths go on and on and on...

Monday, February 15, 2021

Dodged too late!

Since midnight last night we've probably gotten a solid five or six inches of snow here in Broad Ripple. I just went out and shoveled the walks for the fourth time since this morning (well, three shovelings and a sweeping) and it's still coming down at an inch an hour and not supposed to let up until the wee hours before dawn. I'll probably go out and hit it at least one more lick with the shovel before bed.

I was thinking to myself "Wow, it's been a while since we've seen this much snow all at once. There was December 2012, and then before that was...let's see, the big one in January of '09, not long after I moved up here."

It turns out that it's because I've had good luck on the last couple big snowfalls. In March of 2018 I only saw some sleet and freezing rain at gun school in Terre Haute while Broad Ripple got an eight-inch shellacking, and in January of 2014 I missed a foot of snow while I was visiting Knoxville.

Hey, look!

"In times like these, we see the sock drawers and attic storage of America turned out and heirlooms brought into gun shops. Grandpa’s service revolver or a great uncle’s war-trophy, semi-automatic pistol will be presented to the clerk behind the local gun shop counter with the questions “Can we check to make sure this works?” and “Can I get ammunition for this?”"

So. Much. This.

via TactiComedy

I'd probably recaption it as "Home Security" rather than "Home Defense", because by the time it gets to the "defense" part, a gun is pretty darn handy, and a lot of the "security" part is about keeping it from ever getting to the "defense" part.

EDIT: TactiComedy re-captioned it as suggested! 
(Also, the percentages have been removed because, this being the internet, some people took the made-up numbers in a meme SUPER SERIOUS, YOU GUYS and wanted to debate them.)


Naming Names and Petty Vindictiveness

I understand that, in the name of journalistic ethics, some outlets frown on pseudonyms. I've run into this problem myself.

When I was writing an article for RECOIL on the topic of slings on home defense long guns, I contacted a few various well-respected trainers/SME's to get a variety of viewpoints, pro and con. The thing is, one of the people whose views on the matter I cited was someone I "internet-knew" who was, at the time, a U.S. Army SF dude still a year or so short of retiring.

Mindful of not wanting his views to seem like they were the official views of his employer, I quoted him by first name and last initial. This caused some editorial back-and-forth because RECOIL has journalistic ethics and you don't just quote someone, label their opinion as expert, and then not name them so that readers can research and decide for themselves how much weight to give it.

We eventually hashed out his bona fides to the satisfaction of the magazine's editorial board and the article went forward in the fashion you can read at the link

But suppose the end result had been and the loggerheads? Suppose the verdict had been "either name him or delete the content"? What would my obligation then be as a writer, or as a decent person, even?

Obviously I'd have had to delete his remarks and find another person to cite in that portion of the article, because there are personal ethics that balance and accompany journalistic ones.


Sunday, February 14, 2021

While we're on the topic of cats...

...have another photo of Huck.

Shot with a Nikon D3000 at ISO 400, using maybe the most bang-for-the-buck Nikon DX lens, the 35mm f/1.8G. Fast enough that I can one-hand the little DSLR with my right hand and wiggle my left hand up in the air to give Huck something to gaze at dramatically.


URGENT! Firearms Legislation Alert!

Was the headline clickbait-y enough? I'm not very good at clickbait, so I don't know.

Anyway, this is an update on House Bill 1369, the constitutional carry bill which is still alive in the Indiana legislature. The deadline for the committee to vote on it is Tuesday, so put some pressure on your state legiscritters, fellow Hoosiers.

This is our best chance in years, what with Brian Bosma gone.

Bad Paneling

Probably my least favorite recurring panelist on the Sunday Morning Political Talking Head Circuit is Claire McCaskill, who's a semifrequent round table participant on NBC's Meet the Press.

What makes for a good panelist isn't a non-partisan viewpoint; after all, it's often their partisan viewpoint that they're selected for in the first place.  Rather, it's the ability to get talk about the politics behind the politics, as it were, that makes a quality professional kibitzer. It's that ability that makes Rahm Emmanuel and Chris Christie so good on This Week With George Stephanopoulopoulopoulos. (A certain collegiality while trading barbs is nice, too, but not required.)

It's expected for a sitting politician, when interviewed on the talking head shows, to hew to the party line with the unswerving focus of a Gold Squadron pilot in the Death Star trench. That's understood and, while annoying, it's their job. 

But the panelists are there to provide informed color commentary, not cheerlead or call plays.


Saturday, February 13, 2021

More Human Than Human

I don't know how much of this is hyperbole and how much is actually yikes-worthy:I mean, maybe they just want people for an exciting new life in the off-world colonies?



Holden had a pretty rambunctious morning, alternating between trying to ambush Huck from various hidey-holes in the hallway and trying to jump atop my desk in the office and solicit some attention from me.

But even a two year old's batteries run down eventually and he was looking a little sleepy by the time I snapped this shot of him lazing on Bobbi's desk. Now he's in his little cube, dozing away.


Friday, February 12, 2021

"Hipster Shotgun"?

I was today years old when I became a BoomerFudd...
"The Kalashnikov group, which produces the AK-47 assault rifle, has unveiled its hipster 'gadget gun' aimed at Gen Z customers who can't bear to be without tech. 
The semi-automatic 12-gauge shotgun, dubbed the 'MP-155 Ultima', has a built-in HD video camera and computer to teach its users how to shoot. 
The futuristic weapon, with a stylish composite body and an external display, can record your every move and transmit the information to your smartphone via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth."

Because it's never simple.

So, it all started when I was going to do a short piece for the other blog on the Harrington & Richardson Self-Loading .25 pistol...

To do this, I got out my .32 Webley auto and, in the process, was reminded that the left grip panel was wobbly. So I pulled out a screwdriver and, because I'm a gun nerd who had never had the grips off this relic before, popped the grip off before putting it back on and snugging it down.

Huh. I do not have the knack for visualizing mechanical systems in operation, but even I can see how the safety on this thing functions!

Sorry for the potato-quality cell phone photograph, but you'll note that the safety is of the "up-to-fire" configuration. If you move the safety lever down into the horizontal position, it will uncover the word "SAFE" engraved on the slide, and present a camming surface that will deflect the trigger bar downward when it is pulled, preventing it from making contact with the sear.

With one grip panel off, I went ahead and pulled the second one, too. This revealed something interesting...

The big hairpin-looking thing is the recoil spring, which actuates the slide via that big pivoting lever.

Everything about this gun is a 1908 Model: The recoil spring assembly, the slide shape, the cocking serrations, the lack of a separate rear sight (there's just a simple channel milled in the top of the slide), the safety mounted above the left-hand grip panel rather than next to the hammer... Except that the trigger with the externally visible trigger bar is purely that found on the earlier 1905 Model.

Remember how I said that because Savages were uncommonly collected relative to Colt or S&W, reference materials were hard to come by? Well, compared to Webleys, Savages are common as dirt. There appears to be one good book on the topic, and used copies bring blood money.


Thursday, February 11, 2021

The Rites of Winter...

...have to happen, in order for the Rites of Spring to be possible in a month or so.

QotD: The Weather Edition...

"Today I Learned that Herr Fahrenheit's initials were "G.D." I also learned it's 20 degrees G. D. Fahrenheit outside right now." -Bobbi



Dick Williams has a piece up over at American Cop on a Savage 1917 he picked up recently.

They're such neat guns, with their sort of ray gun Art Deco lines, striker-fired operation, and double-column magazine. (Elbert Searle was over a decade ahead of Browning and Saive with that.)

Savage Model 1917-20

With collectable Colt and Smith prices through the roof, Savage pocket autos are still pretty reasonably priced for the collector on a budget. Also, there are at least two dozen variations, just in the production models of .32 and .380, which makes for fun collecting.

Table of .32 production totals and serial number ranges in Savage Automatic Pistols

While the pistols are cheaper and there's not as large a field of collectors, that means reference materials are more scarce and expensive. James Carr's little volume Savage Automatic Pistols is a handy identification guide but is short on background material, long out of print and expensive when you find a copy. The coffee table book Savage Pistols by Bailey Brower is a more comprehensive history and lavishly illustrated, but it's not cheap either.

Maybe I'll do a Sunday Smith style series of posts on the Savages I've managed to accumulate.

When I'm done with those, I think Bobbi has a few, too, and I don't think we've duplicated any models between us, but I'm not sure.

EDIT: Heh. In the linked piece, Dick Williams mentions that this was his first experience with a Savage, and I noticed a couple issues. 

The first thing that caught my eye was referring to the gun as blowback operated as opposed to locked-breech recoil. Which it is...kinda? 

The Savage is supposed to be a mechanically-delayed blowback, with the rotation of the barrel as the bullet travels through the rifling keeping the barrel and breech together until the projectile exits the muzzle. As to whether or not it actually does this in real life, though? Well, that's a matter of some debate. 

The other was this:
The gun has an external hammer attached to which is a long firing pin that moves rearward with the hammer when the gun is cocked and forward when fired. The Savage is the first gun I’ve seen with this feature as opposed to the internally mounted, spring operated firing pins on the more modern guns I normally shoot.
While the Savage certainly looks like it's hammer-fired, the thing that looks like a hammer spur is just an external cocking piece linked to the striker. The intent may have been to allow the user to de-cock the gun by controlling the "hammer spur" while pulling the trigger, gun safety as we currently know it having not yet been invented in 1907.