Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Wooden Ships, Iron Men, 'Splodey Shells

When we think of the tactics of the 18th Century running into the harsh reality of 19th Century industrial technology, we usually think of Union troops assaulting into the massed rifle fire of entrenched Confederates or Mahdists falling in windrows to British Maxim guns.

One example of this collision that's less well known is the Battle of Sinop, a naval engagement in the opening stages of what was to become called The Crimean War.

An expanding and industrializing Russia had been bumping up against an increasingly broke and sclerotic Ottoman Empire along their frontiers in the Caucasus and the Danube basin. They'd already resorted to fisticuffs in the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-'29, which resulted in a smarting defeat for the Ottomans.

In the wake of that war, finances caused the Turks to downsize their army and navy, and the Sultan became more dependent on loans from Britain and France to keep things going. Meanwhile, Russia was expanding their Black Sea flotilla with freshly-built men o'war with an eye toward keeping the sea a Russian lake. (Russia was, at the time allied with the other retrograde monarchies of Austria and Prussia in the anti-liberal Holy Alliance.)

When hostilities kicked off in 1853, the Black Sea squadron under Admiral Nakhimov went hunting and cornered a large chunk of the Turkish fleet anchored at Sinop, forming up for a supply convoy under the protection of the harbor forts.

Nakhimov's ships sailed right on in, maneuvered to put the Ottoman ships between his own and the guns of the harbor defenses, dropped anchor, and started blasting. 

On top of the fact that the eleven-ship Russian force included a half-dozen ships of the line versus a dozen Turkish frigates and corvettes, the new Russian ships were armed with the latest in high-tech naval weaponry: Paixhans guns. These were direct-fire, flat-trajectory naval guns firing explosive shells rather than solid shot, the forerunners of the famous Dahlgrens of the US Civil War.

The effect of these shells on the wooden Ottoman frigates and corvettes was devastating. By the time the smoke cleared, the Turkish fleet had blown up, burned to the waterline, or been run aground to keep from sinking. One paddle frigate, the Taif, managed to bolt for the harbor exit and escape, eluding Russian pursuers on a mad dash for the Bosporus.

The effect of Sinop was to demonstrate to the world's navies that unarmored warships were practically helpless, fragile and flammable deathtraps, in the face of shell-firing guns. Ironclads became increasingly common, and in less than a decade the Monitor and the Virginia would be bouncing Dahlgren shells off each other off Hampton Roads, marking the definitive end to the age of wooden ships and iron men.

My guilty nerdy pleasure: Wooden Ships & Iron Men

PTSD and the First Responder...

Greg Ellifritz has a great post up on career advice he'd give to new police officers:
No one likes the smell of a decomposing body, but I’ve never vomited after seeing a decomposed corpse. I’ve never had any nightmares about all the death I’ve seen. I don’t have PTSD. Like many of you reading this, I simply did my job in the face of horrific crime scenes and never let what I did get to me.

Or so I thought…
It's worth reading in its entirety even if you aren't the po-po. The principle of not inviting unnecessary additional negativity and trauma into your life is widely applicable.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Mystery planes...

Scoping out the Sukhoi factory in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, I was puzzled by the small planes with broad, swept wings and what appeared to be high engines. I couldn't figure out what they were, so I googled around and found the answer: A neat little Beriev amphibian, the Be-103.


"This is my safety, sir!"

Because it's never not time for these...

Nothing makes me more nervous than someone who's convinced they're too safe to screw up.



Going through a corner of the living room I ran across my first nice camera bag, a Lowepro messenger that's a sort of Domke knockoff, and it's apparently so old it's been discontinued.

Camera bags are sort of like holsters, in my experience, in that you can go through a few trying to find The One™ and, once found, you stick with The One™ for quite some time. Meanwhile some corner of the house becomes a graveyard of previous experiments.

The One™...at least for me. Your The One™may differ.

Still, that Lowepro is a nice bag, and it wasn't exactly cheap. I should find a use of some sort for it.


Tribal Signaling

Oh, for heaven's sake, either cover your germholes in enclosed public spaces or don't, fellow Broad Riparians. There's no mandate in Marion County anymore and hasn't been for months if you're vaccinated or a liar, and I think Fresh Market is the only place I go regularly that still has signs up, although nobody's enforcing them and only half anybody pays them any mind*. 

But walking around a grocery store or restaurant performatively protecting the world from your chin germs in an apparent effort to let everyone know you didn't vote for Trump is just ridiculous.

Sign at Roberts Camera from middle of last year.

*My personal rule of thumb is if they're making the employees wear masks, then I'll pull one on while I'm in there out of solidarity. I know these people by name; I've been shopping in the same stores for many years now, and if they're going to make my friendly neighborhood cashier wear one for eight hours, I can put one on for five minutes while I'm dropping off film or picking up bagels because I'm not a giant douche.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

The funniest Mel Brooks movie...

...that isn't Young Frankenstein:


Apparently a dude was discovered as a stowaway on an American Airlines flight from Guatemala City to Miami. According to FlightAware, AA1182 is a thousand mile daily run, a roughly two and a half hour flight at 37,000 feet with a 737-800. The news says dude was in a main gear well, but how do you do that without dying of hypoxia?

According to an FAA report (PDF) from the 1990s, it's a fifty-fifty gamble at best.

I get claustrophobic in an aisle seat, so gear well steerage is right out as far as I'm concerned.


Saturday, November 27, 2021

Dehydrated Beowulf

This is absolutely wonderful!

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #208...

Back in the day, before all the budget autoloaders came from Turkey, they came from Spain, and this Star Ultrastar was one of the last of them.

Next up at the other blog...


Sea of Grass, Scourge of God

Doing some reading in the archives of a new-to-me history blog...
To wit, in 1700, the dominant states spanning the breadth of Eurasia had ruling elites with roots in the steppe. Manchu China, Mughal India, Ottoman Turkey, Safavid Iran and even Tsarist Russia, were all dominated by aristocracies stamped by nomadic empires, whether because the ruling dynasties were from the steppe, like the Ottomans and Safavids, or because they integrated steppe nobility like the Russians and the Manchus.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Crazy Friday

I'm not a fan of the concept of Black Friday under the best of circumstances. Packed in like cattle at the break of dawn with people ready to get in fist fights over This Year's Popular Toy sounds like the opposite of fun to me.

This year? You'd need a screw loose to willingly thrust yourself into the scrum. Between the 'Rona and all the spun up, stressed out, overwrought reaction to it...and the spun up, stressed out, overwrought reactions to the reactions...you can definitely count me out of even entering the parking lot of any retail establishments today. 

People are so tightly wound these days that they're throwing down with AKs over pizza being late.

I'll be shopping at home!

VZ Grips are available on Amazon for improving the traction of your favorite blaster without uglifying it in the process. They have their own store there as a hub for all their different offerings.

For the shutterbug on your list there's Peak Design's cool system of carry straps. There's the Leash, for the smallest mirrorless cameras; the Slide Lite for normal-sized mirrorless and smaller DSLRs; and the Slide, which will work even with pro bodies and big telephoto zooms like that beastly D1X & 80-400mm combo above. They have their own Amazon store, too (and their bags are as cleverly thought out as their straps. They're basically the Magpul of photography gear.)

I've gotten literally years of use out of this Logitech keyboard cover now; it's written columns and feature articles over lunch here at home and blog posts on the road and I'm still on the first set of batteries. At this rate it's possibly going to outlast the iPad to which it's connected. Recommend.



Here's what it looked like when Bobbi brought it in from the grill and lifted the lid off the pan:

The turducken (w/sausage stuffing!) itself was lifted out of its savory nest and sliced up:

Piled on a plate with veggies, mashed potatoes, and the whole thing slathered in bacon-mushroom gravy and waiting to be garnished with a healthy scoop of assorted mushrooms:

The photos don't do it justice. I just grabbed the D7000 & 16-80mm f/2.8-4E and tried to snap a few shots at ISO800 by available light while simultaneously not getting in the way and also lending a hand where needed. (I used the D7000 because last time I tried this I grabbed a full-frame camera and the depth-of-field was stupid shallow.)

We sat down to a hearty dinner and another episode of Netflix's live-action Cowboy Bebop. We agreed that it just continues to improve with each episode.

Bobbi has the deets on ingredients and cooking procedures at her blog, as usual. I hope your Thanksgiving stuck to your ribs as much as mine did!


Thursday, November 25, 2021


"X" Marks the Unfortunate Spot

Chris Arnade has documented his most recent walk, across Albany, NY...
Albany is no different, but here the poverty and wealth are juxtaposed against a downtown filled with politicians, bureaucrats, and lobbyists who claim to care about the very inequality they are surrounded by, making it a physical metaphor for the failures of our political class.
One thing I've noticed in his posts are the abandoned-looking buildings with the square placards on them, the ones in Albany have a white X on a red background.

I don't recollect seeing these in Indy, even though my trips downtown take me through neighborhoods with plenty of abandoned structures. I decided to look them up, and discovered it's from the International Fire Code and used pretty widely here in the US.
When you see a Red “X” on a vacant building, it indicates to “first responders”-police officers, fire department staff and building department staff, that the building is considered unsafe for emergency personnel. For first responder safety and as a precautionary measure, the Red “X” symbols are being installed on vacant buildings that have been inspected and deemed unsafe for emergency response personnel to enter. It advises extreme caution and that all emergency responders should limit fire fighting to outside operations only, and to enter inside only if there are known life hazards such as a person trapped inside.

The Red “X” does not show that the building is to be demolished or rehabbed or otherwise. The safety hazards present in a building can be holes in the floor, missing fire escapes, missing or unsafe stairs, and open roofs among other potential safety hazards.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, these signs are a bone of contention in some places. 

They do give off a certain cyberpunk dystopian air, that's for sure, but maybe the neighborhood chamber of commerce might want to worry about why the signs are there in the first place. It's hard to make the argument that they're uglifying the decaying buildings in the 'hood.

I guess taking warning signs on vacant buildings down is what local politicians would rather do about the problem instead of something.


That time of year again...

Happy Thanksgiving to those of y'all still reading blogs. May it be a holiday free from strife and full of calories, spent with the people who matter most to you.


Tab Clearing...


It turns out that a large number of crannogs, manmade islands in Scottish lochs made by basically piling rocks in the water until you have stacked enough of them atop the pile to stick up out of the lake, date back further than expected. Given that doing amazing things with big rocks was something of a national pastime in Neolithic Britain, this is less surprising to me than it probably should be.


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Automotif CCLXVII...

Out walkabout yesterday afternoon, and I spied this Eighties (or very late Seventies) Porsche 911 in an intriguing color.

Here's the problem: The sun was low in the sky and I had an original 2003-vintage Canon EOS Rebel with the 18-55mm kit lens and no lens hood, preparing to do a report on it for the other other blog. On the same side of the street, the car was harshly backlit from any angle where it wasn't obscured by that tree or the trashcan, plus the sun was causing horrible veiling glare. Trotting across the street yielded the above photo, taken by waiting for a gap in traffic. Even then, the 18-55mm lens doesn't have a lot of reach and the 6MP sensor doesn't give you much room to crop.


Tuesday, November 23, 2021

"We meet again, Mr. Berenstain..."

Flash Rob

Roughly 80 masked robbers armed with pepper spray and crowbars ransacked a Nordstrom in Walnut Creek Saturday night, smashing and grabbing goods from shelves, employees and even customers, according to police.
This is the kind of situation you just don't want to be in the middle of.
Some of the biggest names in high fashion are losing thousands — sometimes tens of thousands — of dollars to a team of thieves that is storming into their stores to steal purses and handbags from display shelves, according to [Chicago Police Department] reports. The raids have been happening during afternoon hours along the Mag Mile and Rush Street corridors.
This isn't anything spontaneous, either, like a few acquaintances deciding one day to just bum rush a store and grab stuff. These are organized criminal enterprises.
Connors said people in dark clothing, ski masks and hoods stormed the store “like a flash mob thing” after police began receiving calls about cars driving recklessly nearby just before the 9 p.m. closing Saturday.

People dashed in and out within three minutes and raced away in about two dozen cars that were parked in the middle of the street, many with their license plates covered, Connors said.
As far as I'm concerned, my personal solution to this tactical problem is Amazon.


Monday, November 22, 2021

Automotif CCLXVI...

This is an interesting beastie that prowls our neighborhood. It's been featured here before, some five years ago.

The hood's off a '74 Le Mans Sport GT and the Endura nose is off a '74 Grand Am...

The fender and decklid badges say Grand Le Mans, and the roofline, taillights, and rear bumper agree that it's a '76-'77 Grand Le Mans, but a "6.5 Litre" badge from a Grand Am has been added.

I'd drive it.


Ancient Titans

Have you ever looked at a colossal piece of ancient construction and asked yourself how primitive humans had the technology to make such an amazing edifice?

No, I don't mean the Great Pyramid or Stonehenge, I mean the Hamilton County courthouse in Noblesville, Indiana.

The internet is a powerful tool for letting credulous morons gather together in groups and heterodyne. One of these groups is made up of people who think there was an ancient civilization that dotted the landscape with these buildings and Nineteenth Century residents of North America just moved in.
A dedicated group of YouTubers and Reddit posters see the Singer Building and countless other discarded pre-modern beauties and extant Beaux-Arts landmarks as artifacts of a globe-spanning civilization called the Tartarian Empire, which was somehow erased from the history books. Adherents of this theory believe these buildings to be the keys to a hidden past, clandestinely obscured by malevolent actors.
For evidence, they glom onto old photos that show municipal buildings seemingly rising out of unimproved land, like these ones of the Iowa state capitol.

Knowing that these people exist is doing nothing for my surging misanthropy.


Sunday, November 21, 2021

Garbage on the Ground

Shot with a Nikon D1X and AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8G

If I needed to come up with a porn pseudonym right now, "D'bree Fields" would tickle my funny bone.


Cowboy Bebop

I don't get the hate for the Netflix adaptation of Cowboy Bebop. That's probably because of the fact that, while I may be a nerd, anime is not my particular flavor of nerdery, so I'm not slavishly married to the original.

About the only anime I have any real feel for is Gunsmith Cats.


Artists are Weird

It's not at all uncommon to see black electrical tape plastered over the "Nikon" logo on a camera's viewfinder hump or the red dot on the front of a Leica.

The various reasons given for this range from the understandable to the bizarre.

I've heard people say they do it to make the camera less conspicuous, and that makes sense. The bold white block letters or red circle on a black background do make a camera more likely to draw the eye, which is anathema when doing candid work. Still, if you're waving around a full-frame DSLR and a bazooka-like pro-grade zoom lens, nothing is going to make it inconspicuous.

Marketing to street photogs, Fuji keeps their rangefinder-style cameras low-key out of the box.

Others do it because they don't want to advertise for the camera manufacturer, and I understand where they're coming from, even if I don't entirely get it. 

I think the people who obsessively avoid or remove brand logos and badging on their consumer goods are nothing but the opposite pole on the same axis of neurosis as the people who are obsessed with having the right brand logos festooning their stuff. 

The reason to not use the Canon or Nikon strap that came in the box with your camera isn't because it has the manufacturer's logo on it, but because it's a crappy camera strap. Get you some quality, comfortable Peak Design or BlackRapid gear to hang your expensive camera off. Using the little strap that came in the box to hold your camera is like using the plastic dovetail protectors that came on your Glock as sights.

The silliest are the people who cover the Nikon or Leica logo because they don't want to attract thieves.

Bro, the average street thug don't know a Leica from a lug nut. The only people who care about that shit are other camera nerds. Thieves are keying on the fact that you have a big camera and lens hanging around your neck, not that it has a brand name on it. It's one of the things I sometimes think about when I'm out and about with some antique DSLR; it'd be a shame for something to jump off over a camera that would get a thief laughed out of a pawn shop. "Buddy, that thing's twenty years old. I can't buy that."


Saturday, November 20, 2021


Okay, I've never been a big Wagon Train fan, but on the other hand, I've never really given it a fair shake. This one was on today, though, and it was pretty amazingly good. Maybe I should see which episodes come most highly recommended...


I keep trying to get an ideal photo of the statue out in front of Mama Carolla's restaurant. When the light is right, she's limned from behind, but it's hard to get a camera to reproduce what my eyes see.

Here are a couple recent attempts with an Olympus E-510 & Zuiko 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 II...

Shrinking and growing (and shrinking?)

In our neighborhood there's a relatively straight-looking early 4th Generation Honda Accord, a 1990 or '91 model with the little motorized seatbelt gerbils, still doing yeoman service as a daily driver.

The current Civic sedan is the same length, three inches wider, an inch taller, about three hundred pounds heavier, and has 20% more power. Broadly speaking, the automotive downsizing trend probably slowed and reversed sometime in the early Nineties.

A 1990 Accord LX sedan started at about fifteen grand, roughly six thousand dollars less than a base '21 Civic LX four-door. (Of course, adjusted for inflation that 15k in GHWB dollars is close to thirty two thousand Biden Bucks.)


Thursday, November 18, 2021

Automotif CCLXV...

In the thirty seconds I had these open in Photoshop to convert them from NEF to JPEG, I grew a mullet and a flock of bald eagles landed on the front porch and started screeching the opening chords of Lee Greenwood's Greatest Hit.

It's funny 'cause it's true.

There's not a single form of entertainment that can't be ruined by its own fandom.

Apocalypse Now

Sure, sure, we've had some bad rain and flooding incidents here in the US in the last couple years, but in Egypt they've taken this to the next level. They found a way to add an extra little dash of awfulness to a plain old flood!

I've seen school delayed because it was too foggy to safely run the buses, and I've gotten to stay home from school because of snow and ice, but I have to say that school being closed because of a swarm of scorpions is entirely outside of my experience.

You gotta wonder if the old timers in Aswan are all like "In my day, we didn't shut down school for any scorpion swarm. Heck, Ahmad got stung on the playground and had to get carted off in an ambulance and we didn't even pause our soccer game."

Al Jazeera's piece clarifies things a bit, saying it was the weather that caused the school closures, not the plague of arachnids, which leads to the obvious "Well in northern Egypt we know how to drive in floods!" joke.


Wednesday, November 17, 2021


I've got a 20-year-old DSLR out for the other other blog, and the first thing I'm reminded of is how spoiled we are for good batteries these days.

The D1X uses nickel-metal hydride battery packs, which not only slowly self-discharge over time, but also don't have near the energy density of newer lithium-ion batteries. In order to wring maximum life out of one of the big batteries, I turn off the automatic review function. Not chimping the pictures immediately after shooting gives an oddly film-like shooting experience, especially because if you're shooting uncompressed NEF (RAW) files, you get surprisingly few on a card, even a 512MB one. 

Sixty something lossless NEFs and you're changing cards. (And the D1X uses FAT16, so 2GB is as big as you go with this camera.)

The teeny-tiny 2" LCD monitor only has 130,000 pixels and uses a disproportionate amount of juice.

Fortunately replacement batteries are available, and you can still get 1GB compact flash cards, at least for now. Of course being a Nikon F-mount professional body, it will use pretty much any F-mount lens ever, except some of the very earliest manual focus ones and the very newest ones with electronically-controlled diaphragms. I've had an old 35-105mm f/3.5-4.5 on it for a bit and it seems to be working okay.

The serial number indicates this is the 496th D1X built, so it's an honest twenty years old and still running strong. Eventually something electronic will take a dump and the camera will be uneconomically repairable, but until then I plan to enjoy it...


Monday, November 15, 2021


Guns and Stuff

Over at The Arms Room is a fresh Sunday Smith that looks at the Model 3913.

It's interesting that with the introduction of the 3913 at the close of the Eighties, Smith decided that the future of full-size 9mm single-stacks was over. The 3904 and 3906 were promptly discontinued, and only the 59xx double-stack full-size nine millimeters carried on. 

At the time, it was probably the right decision. Single-stack full-size 9x19mm pistols were a tough sell in the early Nineties. But only a couple years later came the 1994 Federal AWB, and then came the nationwide sweep of Shall Issue CCW all through the latter half of the Nineties and into the early 2000s. Suddenly there was renewed interest in skinny big guns, as can be demonstrated by everybody and their brother making a 1911 clone. Personally, I think a hypothetical 3904TSW with a single-stack ten round mag would be the berries, but I also love a 9mm Commander.

Over at Digital Fossils, I wrapped up the retrospective on the Nikon Coolpix 990. On to the next electronic artifact!


Gaia has a pet rock.

It's not a moon, because it orbits the sun, not the earth. Well, sort of. Its orbit around the sun kind of oscillates around the earth, hence its name: Kamo'oalewa, which is apparently Hawaiian for something along the lines of 'oscillating celestial object'.

There are questions about its origin, whether it's a rogue asteroid that's been swept up in our gravitational orbit or what. The current prevalent theory is that it's an actual chunk of the moon knocked loose in a giant cosmic fender bender, and is following us through space like the celestial equivalent of those busted turn signal lenses you see lying on the pavement in busy intersections.

In order to settle the mystery, and because it would be a baller accomplishment that would be a feather in their space program's cap, China is planning on sending a probe to retrieve samples from it for study.


Sunday, November 14, 2021

Hail Hydra!

Would it be ridiculously pretentious of me to list this thing, the whole kit with all three barrels (9mm, .40S&W, and .357SIG), for seven hundred bucks by promising to throw in a signed copy of the magazine?

I haven't decided yet, because I really dig having a longslide .357SIG, but I'm getting to the point where I need bucks worse than blasters.


Saturday, November 13, 2021

Dynamic Range

Playing with an old Olympus E-510 for a future blog post, I was wondering how well its 2007-vintage NMOS sensor would handle a shot with subtle variations of color. Walking to lunch the other day, I had an opportunity to make a test shot...

Don't get me wrong, I love all the added capability of more modern cameras. They do fantastic things. But the standard DSLRs from the big companies in 2007...Canon EOS Rebel XTi, Nikon D40X, Olympus EVOLT E-510...were absolutely up to the job of taking a decent photo.

Overheard in Front of the Television...

Me: "This is haram."

RX: "MCMXLVII... it's 1947."

Me: "It's in color. All color Popeye cartoons are haram."
Later, Bobbi's in the kitchen making coffee. I wander away from the TV and into the kitchen.
Me: "It's a 1966 Tom & Jerry. I don't think even Chuck Jones can rescue that. They're doing everything but talking to each other and smoking dope."
On the other hand, I found the bathroom rug I need in my life...


Friday, November 12, 2021

Automotif CCLXIV...

It's a 1970 Buick Electra 225, a two-door hardtop in Sherwood Green Metallic with a black vinyl top.

The traditional Buick "Sweepspear" is visible down the car's flank and it has the four "VentiPorts" that mark it as a high-end Buick, instead of the three worn by lesser models like the LeSabre. The 1970 model year marked the debut of the new 370bhp 455 cubic inch Buick motor, replacing the 360-horse 430 used from '67 through '69.


That sound you hear...

...is my distal sphincter slamming shut with an audible "CLANG!"

I will be pooping angel hair pasta for a week.

There are not enough Oh Hell Noes in the whole world to describe this. And yes I see the safety tether. Don't care. 

Thursday, November 11, 2021


On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the guns fell silent.

The Final Savages

The very last Savage .32 pistols were made in the 1920s. Here's one of them.

(If you want to collect Savage's cool Buck Rogers-looking Art Deco auto pistols, I can't recommend Bailey Brower's volume highly enough. It's essential.)


Saye the majick words!

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

"Forced down by enemy fire...no, really!"

Whither Blogs?

Greg Ellifritz made an interesting observation this morning over on that bane of blogging, Facebook:
"This is an interesting look back. I wrote it 5 years ago after publishing my first 1000 articles. At that time I had 100K unique visitors and 400K pageviews every month.

Now even though my writing is better and I'm writing more articles, last month's stats were 29K visitors and 168K pageviews.

I think people are losing their attention spans and don't read 1500-word articles as much anymore. Combine that with social media blocks and shadow bans for certain subject matter and the gun blogs are slowly dying."
I think the talk of social media blocks and shadow bans is largely a red herring.

First, during the heyday of blogs, people linked back and forth constantly, creating freewheeling chains of discussion on various topics.

As some bloggers began to commercialize their blogs, and group blogs became more common, they realized that outside links were bad for traffic, and so blogs became more insular and siloed. Bloggers who counted on traffic became more savvy about building it. (A lot of the stuff I do here on VFTP is actively bad for traffic, but it's always been a personal blog...in the original sense: A Web Log of stuff I've run across on the internet or a sort of diary for random thoughts.)

Deprived of that outside source of link traffic, SEO became prime and content often suffered. Buzzword-heavy 150-300 word clickbait at high frequency trumps a 1,500-word essay every two or three days when it comes to pulling in the eyeballs.

Bloggers frequently try to port content over to Facebook or other social media sites in an attempt to drive traffic back to the blog (VFTP has a desultorily updated FB page, for instance) but that rarely works. See, social media sites penalize outside links for the same reason as the commercialized blogs did. Do you want people to see Facebook posts that link to your blog in their feeds? Then you are going to need to pay for the privilege. It's not a "shadow ban", it's FB trying to keep eyeballs inside its ecosystem unless you are paying to advertise. That is, after all, their entire business model. Zuck ain't your free outside blog promotin' buddy.

This isn't some atempt to kill gun blogs, either. All the cupcake blogs and scrapbook blogs and gardening blogs and comic book blogs that have cratered in at the same time as gun blogs weren't just collateral damage in some sinister Big Tech plot to revive gun control. It's just that text-based media consumption is slumping across the board.

People don't read anymore, they watch (or listen). Video and podcasts are thriving; text is dead.

Get you a Tik-Tok or Insta and condense everything you need to say into fifteen to thirty second chunks.

And don't forget, drink Brawndo. It's got electrolytes!


Hipster Trendoid Posers

The Espio is a fairly nondescript point-and-shoot, the kind that goes for five bucks at Goodwill, not five bills on eBay. Of course, given how fickle film hipsters are, now that Leto has used one as a prop, all bets are off.


Tuesday, November 09, 2021

Monday, November 08, 2021

Sunday, November 07, 2021

Deep State Hijinks

Currently binge watching a couple episodes a night and, speaking as an ardent collector of conspiracy theories, it's hilarious.


Groundhog Hour

If you battle insomnia at times, you can understand the existential horror of the situation.

Despite going to bed dead tired somewhere around eleven o'clock, your eyelids flutter open at...glance at the clock on your iPad by the bed...quarter after one in the morning.

Screwing your eyes tightly shut and counting sheep gets you nowhere, so you open your Kindle copy of The Big Sort, hoping some very serious nonfiction* will speed you on your way back to the Realm of Nod.

The clock in the upper left corner of the iPad's screen says it's 1:35AM as you start reading. Digging in to Bishop's tome, you resolutely turn virtual pages, waiting for your eyelids to sag. 

Check the clock. It's 1:55AM. 

Return to the book. Another chapter down. Sweet slumber continues to evade you. Plow through the text.

Check the clock.


What fresh hell is this?

I'm not going to lie, gentle reader, there was a heartbeat there where I was sure my clutch had started slipping for good and I'd descended into some Kafka-esque horror before I remembered it was just the night of the Autumnal Clock Juggle.

*I like chewy nonfiction as much as the next nerd, but it has a time and that time is not normally when one is fending off the sandman.

Saturday, November 06, 2021

All the Megapickles!

In the year 2000, "all the megapixels" happened to be about 3.3MP, unless you were Nikon's marketing department...


Definitely that time of year...

Starting tomorrow the sun starts going down in the late afternoon, so I'm trying to soak up the sunny while I can. 


Emotional Wreck-age

On one sunny Atlanta summer day back in June of 2000, I turned left off of Peachtree-Dunwoody Road onto Peachtree. Peachtree there is flat, straight, and six lanes wide. 

I was the only eastbound vehicle, in the center of the three lanes, when the white Camry attempted a left-hand turn out of a driveway ahead there on the right.

I don't remember much of the rest of that day, except for fragments, and all of those are pretty awful. That was the end of my motorcycle, too. The guys at my bike shop took a look at the wadded wreckage and were amazed I'd lived. It had cartwheeled down the street rather farther than I had.

I talked with one of the responding officers by chance later that year, after I was out of the wheelchair. He told me that the driver, a Jordanian immigrant who'd come over to help his brother's computer business back in the tail end of the dot-com boom, was freaking out on the side of the road. He was sure the cops were going to send him to jail or, worse, take him to Hartsfield and park him on a plane that afternoon. They had to calm him down and explain that we have traffic accidents in America, too.

He did the right thing and admitted to Failure to Yield. I don't bear him any real animus, but I do wish he'd been paying a bit more attention that day. Let y'all who ain't never screwed up cast the first aspersion.

My life would have been a lot different if he'd paid attention. 

Heck, it would have been different if I'd had change for the toll booth on GA-400 and didn't take the Medical Center exit or, for that matter, if I hadn't bought the Ruger Vaquero that day at my part time gun store gig and needed to swing by the apartment to drop it off before heading to my full time job at the Gwinnett airport.


There was a wreck here in the Indy metro earlier this year that drew a lot of press, because a young couple was killed on the way to prom, t-boned in their vehicle (in a stroke of horrific irony) by a classmate. The wreck happened on one of those board-flat, ruler-straight 2-lane county roads that crisscross corn country, with non-existent shoulders, 55mph speed limits, and intersected by smaller country lanes with stop signs and warnings that Cross Traffic Does Not Stop.

The police report came out and determined that the car that hit and killed the couple was likely exceeding the speed limit by as much as 25 mph. The police report also determined that the other contributing cause of the accident was the failure of the car that was struck to yield the right of way.

The kid who t-boned the vehicle isn't being charged with vehicular homicide because there's no such crime in Indiana. There's Reckless Homicide, but she wasn't doing anything that meets the statutory definition. She got a speeding ticket. The other driver should have gotten a ticket for Failure to Yield, but they're dead, like my Camry driver might have been if I'd been piloting a Suburban instead of a Suzuki.

Still, I watch these videos and I can't imagine having to explain to the grieving family and friends that we have accidents here in America, too.

Friday, November 05, 2021


Somehow the term "pro-sumer", as it was originally used in commercial electronics like cameras and computers to describe high-end gear that was affordable by hobbyists but had features in common with professional equipment, has gotten absorbed into the term "prosumer", which was coined by Alvin Toffler back in the '80s as a portmanteau of "producer" and "consumer".

I blame old-school Apple fans.

After the original departure of Steve Jobs, the most expensive Mac models kept trending upward in price. In 1990, the top of the line "wicked fast" Mac IIfx cost. like, ten grand. In great big 1990 dollars, not itty bitty 2021 ones. 

You know what else cost ten grand in 1990? A base frickin' Camaro RS.

Now, there were plenty of artsy people who loved doing artsy things on Macintoshes, but they weren't likely to be able to lay out new car money for a computer, especially if it weren't a business expense. 

They could maybe swing used car money, though. Hence cheaper Macs, which may run the same professional software, albeit slower, could be afforded by hobbyists. And, hey, if you did some desktop publishing for the church bulletin or family newsletter, weren't you producing something? Therefore a prosumer?

I know if you go back and look at the earliest days of a site like Digital Photography Review, back around the turn of the millennium, the term "pro-sumer" meant cameras in the ~$1000 price class. It was used to refer to cameras like the Coolpix 990, which had features in common with advanced pro cameras but price tags more approachable by the hobbyist user.

People rarely "produced" anything with these other than vacation pics, and "pro-sumer" was clearly being used to indicate pro features at a consumer-friendly price, but that usage seems to have largely withered away. You have to wander into the dusty corners of Wiktionary to find it referenced.

"Pro" in camera body terms is used to refer to big cameras used by pro photogs and built to withstand the occasional out-of-bounds NFL cornerback.


Mouseville, USA

I haven't been to Orlando since SHOT Show 2003. 

The annual National Shooting Sports Foundation trade show was a very different experience back then. For starters, Wikipedia gives the attendance as about 27.5k, which is less than half of the attendance at my next SHOT visit in 2017.

January of '03 was about a year and a half before the end of the ban on weapons that looked "assault-y", and not everybody and their brother made an AR-15 clone at the time. If you wanted to see AR carbines and other firearms of that sort, you had to go over to the "Law Enforcement/Tactical" section which was separated off from the decent, respectable Bambi blasters and fowling pieces. Black anodizing and brown walnut did not rub shoulders in the same booths in those days.

Also, other than a couple boutique builders, the only 1911-pattern pistols in view were in the Colt, Springfield Armory, and Kimber booths. Imagine the very idea of, say, Smith & Wesson, Ruger, or Dan Wesson making Government Model clones!

This was so long ago that security at Disney's Animal Kingdom consisted of a brief glance into my purse, I presume to make sure I didn't have any large and cartoony bundles of red TNT sticks topped with a sputtering fuse in there. The contents of my pockets, on the other hand, were of little to no interest, nor was my waistline checked for magnetic anomalies.

The past was indeed another country.

Anyway, what brought this to mind was the latest foray at the Intellectual Inting blog, in which Chris Arnade perambulates about Orlando, a city that does not immediately come to mind as very perambulateable. 

His foray starts off in front of a building that looked vaguely familiar to me...
Since I was in Orlando to report on a convention, my twenty-mile walk began in Convention-center-land, in the SE corner of Orlando, adjacent to a tourist-land comprised of Disney and other amusement parks that have globbed onto the scene.
I'm think I've grabbed a smoke break under the very awning he photographed in that picture, lo those eighteen years ago. Then again, convention centers all kinda do look the same.


Thursday, November 04, 2021

Automotif CCLXIII...

Here's an '86-'88 Mazda RX-7 Turbo II on a SoBro side street. The second generation RX-7 was bigger and heavier and more upmarket than the original, with more features and amenities. At least the Turbo II version had 182bhp, a hefty fifty horsepower bump over the beefiest naturally aspirated first generation mill, to propel the extra couple hundred pounds of velour and stereo equipment.

If imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, the second generation RX-7 should have made Tony Lapine and Harm Lagaay at Porsche blush. While the 1st Gen  RX-7 was reminiscent of the 924, the 2nd Gen flirted with 944 trade dress infringement. It can be hard to distinguish the two at a distance or with a peripheral glance.


Wednesday, November 03, 2021

The Lesson of Virginia.

Isn’t it interesting that Democrats appear to have forgotten how to manipulate voting machines, stuff ballot boxes, engage in the wee-hour ballot dumps, collect ballots from dead people, and coordinate with Chinese/Venezuelan governments to change the outcome of elections? Two-thirds of Republicans believe that’s what happened in 2020. And yet, only one year later, Democrats have lost the knack?
Don't try and spin up excuses for this disconnect in your loudly-professed beliefs, you pack of credulous goobers. Just keep on believing whatever it takes to get you through the night.


Mistaken beliefs...

When surveyed about the leading causes of firearms-related deaths in the U.S., most respondents guessed completely wrong.

Gasp. Shock. Who could have seen that coming?


Recoil Control

This picture right here shows the secret sauce I wanna learn from Scott. There's surprisingly little muscle effort going on there, and what there is is all in the support hand. It's almost entirely mechanics, because with a service-size 9mm auto there's frankly not a ton of recoil to control.

Weight slightly forward, some bend in the elbows for shock absorption, and a support hand positioned so that there's really no place for the recoil to go. 

One place where Scott shines as an instructor is the amount of individual coaching students receive.

I've seen some instructors whose "lesson plan" is basically a series of drills. The instructor describes the drill, (hopefully) demonstrates it for the class, and then lets the class do a couple repetitions of it. Maybe some handwaving about general principles gets offered at the end of those reps, and then the instructor flips to the next index card in the stack and we're on to another drill.

That's not really teaching; it's practicing from a skill checklist with a range safety officer present. You can do that with a book or a YouTube video at your local supervised range.

One reason the round count is high at a Modern Samurai Project class is that if there are, say, nine students on the line, then each drill is going to get run for at least nine reps. That ensures Scott has a chance to get eyeballs on each student's technique and offer individual coaching.