Monday, February 28, 2022

Cargo Cult Car Stop Cult

I don't know exactly when the red caliper thing started. Italian brake manufacturer Brembo was an OEM supplier to a lot of companies dating way back before brightly colored calipers were a thing.

Late Eighties and early Nineties supercars may have had Brembo brakes, but the calipers were fairly normal colors: black, gray, metallic, whatever. Some were finished in a gold color. It was hard to tell, though, because wheels were 17" and smaller and also tended to have a more "aero" appearance; a flat disc with fewer, smaller holes.

While I don't know who Patient Zero in the Red Plague was, I do know that by the close of the Millennium, as larger wheels with spindlier spokes left more of the braking system in view, racy cars started getting brightly-colored calipers, most often in red.

This, of course, led to goobers spray-painting calipers with high-temperature engine paint, a "performance enhancement" along the lines of a fat exhaust tip and a J.C. Whitney decklid wing.

Possibly my favorite example of this was the dude I saw in the Meijer parking lot who had rattlecanned the rear drums on his early '90s Toyota Corolla red.

"Oh no, baby, what is you doin'?"

I hadn't given it a lot of thought, assuming the fad would kind of reach peak silly with spray paint, but I was wrong.

The other day I spotted what I initially thought was a pretty trick Volkswagen Golf GTI in the parking lot at the Preston Safeway.

As I was processing the RAW files in P-shop, I first noticed that it wasn't a GTI. The calipers looked unusual, too. I zoomed in to read the lettering on them...

"MGP? I've never heard of a brake manufacturer with that name..."

Which was because MGP doesn't make brakes; they make anodized aluminum bolt-on caliper covers.

I guess they add more horsepower than a spray can of engine paint. They'd sure better, for that price, at least.


Defense vs. Offense


Justin Dyal reminisces about his friend Todd Green, and what made him stand out:
I look around the industry, the concealed carry space, and the training world and see many places where Todd influenced things for the better. In some cases he helped start or reframe a discussion, generate thought or interest in an area, or spur developments. Many of these things are still timely. However, I wanted to share a few qualities where Todd was exceptional in ways that are perhaps more universal than ‘just’ shooting.
You should RTWT.


Sunday, February 27, 2022

Handsome Pupper

This v. good boy was photographed with a Hasselblad Lunar & a Zeiss 16-70mm f/4 lens.


Saturday, February 26, 2022

Not bad, for a Metrocon.

Jonah Goldberg is very nearly the type specimen of the Metrocon, but he's treading dangerously close to grasping an important truth here:
In a modern society, where the state has a monopoly on the use of violence, private violence is largely criminalized save in self-defense. If you grew up in such a society—which I assume most of you did—using violence to achieve private benefits is rightly seen as abnormal. Of course, it’s a constant struggle to keep it that way, because humans by nature have a violent streak that can come out among the poorly socialized. This is why calls to abolish the police are so idiotic. Human nature doesn’t change. Fail to tend the garden of civilization, and nature will reclaim it. Because gardens are not natural, they do not spontaneously emerge. They must be cultivated (a word that shares its root with culture). But given human nature, if crime no longer seems like a problem because it doesn’t touch your life, it’s no wonder that some people will think policing has outlived its usefulness. As G.K. Chesterton teaches us, it’s common for people to arrogantly assume a fence serves no purpose just because they don’t know what purpose it serves.
(Of course, we're in a through-the-looking-glass world where Goldberg is in some respects more wookie-suited than Rand Paul, who has spent the last half-decade showing a newfound ability to toady to authoritarianism provided it's draped in the right bunting.)

When you're not currently needing it, the Right to Keep and Bear Arms can feel a lot like Chesterton's Fence, but from Utah to Ukraine, we get constant reminders about why those dead White guys in Philadelphia put that fence out in the middle of a field all those years ago.


War Correspondence

A short and interesting read...
It was hard to tell the combatants apart. The weapons look and sound the same on both sides. Then again, the soldiers firing at each other are practically cousins—so close in language and culture and habit that, in normal times, most foreigners can’t distinguish a Ukrainian from a Russian.

As artillery fire and rockets of various acronyms and millimeters rained down, we crouched in the barn, sometimes even beneath it, shivering like rats, tweeting into the dark about the soldiers trying to kill each other. But we were not supposed to actually ask the soldiers why they were doing it. And they were not supposed to ask us why we were watching. That would be a breach of combat etiquette. Killing is O.K. But to tweet the incorrect acronym for a missile system is an unforgivable faux pas.

Friday, February 25, 2022


Bobbi pointed out that if I could find a way to easily caffeinate that beef broth, I'd have my ideal morning beverage.

She's not wrong.


QotD: Glowing in the Dark Edition...

Bobbi writing on current events:
This will be on History tests, eventually -- presuming there's anyone around and current events don't eventually poke a hole in history big enough to throw a Dark Ages through.
A reporter at the BBC*, sounding a little thick, wondered why... if this was such a humanitarian crisis and an affront to the international order ...Uncle Sam wasn't sending troops.

The reporter first brought up the fact that Ukraine wasn't a NATO member and therefore we were not treaty-bound to defend them militarily, but they then discarded that angle, noting
...that lack of national interest hasn't stopped former presidents from expending blood and treasure on behalf of others in the past. In 1995 Bill Clinton intervened militarily in the war that followed the collapse of Yugoslavia. And in 2011 Barack Obama did the same in the Libyan civil war, both largely on humanitarian and human rights grounds.

In 1990 George H W Bush justified his international coalition to expel Iraq from Kuwait as defending the rule of law against the rule of the jungle.
The real reason we happily intervened in those instances wasn't oil (Serbia didn't have any and we weren't getting any to speak of from Libya) but because neither Benghazi, Belgrade, nor Baghdad had the Strategic Rocket Forces in their hip pocket.

We might risk a nuclear knuckle-joust over an Article 5 attack on a NATO treaty partner, but sorry Volodomyr, you're mostly on your own for this one. We'll send thoughts and prayers and maybe a few crates of ATGMs, but we're pretty warred out at the moment.

*And why was the reporter at the Beeb cocking a snook about Biden not sending troops, anyway? Aren't there people closer to home to whom she could have put these questions? BoJo's not been shy about denouncing the depredations of Hitler 2: Electric Boogaloo, either, but I don't see her demanding that he ship the West Shropshire Fusiliers or whoever off to Kharkiv.

(Not actually current equipment for the West Shropshire Fusiliers... which is a unit I made up.)


If you're gawking at the war on social media, like half the internet is right now, be careful of your sources.

The Beeb's news site has some examples of the sort of bogus stuff floating around, people relabeling old videos of aircraft flyovers or explosions as breaking news from the front lines.

Some scammers are even trying to monetize it, because people are terrible.
Some of the livestreams appear to be authentic, showing crowds gathered in major cities to protest Russian aggression. But other TikTok users are pretending to be in Ukraine, using doctored or dubbed footage of other places in an attempt to solicit followers and monetary donations.

One account, which called for donations through TikTok, featured a livestream of a line of houses in a residential area as the sounds of gunshots, sirens and people screaming for help could be heard in the background. But that account hours earlier had posted a different angle of the same street in which cars with U.K. license plates were visible.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Wars and Rumors of Wars

This might be the year...

Constitutional Carry bills here in Indiana have died in committee in the House every year since 2015 or so, except for last year, when it died in the Senate Judicial Committee instead.

This year it's made it through the House and has passed out of the Senate Judicial Committee, over the howls of the usual "Blood in the Streets, Shootouts in Parking Lots" sort.

It should be a slam dunk in a Senate floor vote, and there's no reason to think Holcomb won't sign it, so... fingers crossed looks like this will be the year for permitless carry in Indiana.

While I have a lifetime permit and therefore don't have any actual personal skin in the game, I'm hoping it does pass. It's the right thing to do. 

C'mon senators. If Kentucky can do it, we can, too.


Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Beef Tea, But Seriously This Time

I had jokingly referred to the broth in some dehydrated "Vietnamese Beef Phở"-style soup-in-a-cup as beef tea before.

Then I discovered that the corner market sells literal beef tea, by which I mean powdered beef bone broth in single serving packets to mix with 8oz of hot water in a mug and sip like carnivore's coffee. And you don't have to eat a mess of noodles first to get at it. It's like fifty calories, all protein and no carbs.

This stuff is delicious... I mean, if you dig beef bone broth. Bobbi's been using it for cooking, too.


Automotif CCLXXX...

In an alternate universe, I flagged this guy down and said "I will trade you everything I own except the clothes I'm wearing, my laptop, my S&W Model 13, and my Nikon D700 for the keys to this car," and he said yes.

And then I walked the earf in an M Coupe, taking pictures, having adventures, and writing about them. The end.

Meanwhile, in this universe, I have stuff I gotta write.


Tuesday, February 22, 2022

QotD: Woke Edition

This is an excellent definition:
This is a great example of one of the key characteristics of wokeness: representation without authorization. The woke present themselves as the spokesmen—excuse me: persons of spoke—for the preferences and agenda of various minority groups, without ever really asking those groups what they want or need.
The linked essay is worth a read, as I've watched people turn "woke" into one of those content-free words that just means "person on the other team", like "commie" or "fascist".


"Low" versus "No"

When someone refers to "low light", it doesn't necessarily mean "In the middle of the night, locked inside the pitch dark ninja closet." During the course of a normal day, people encounter all different kinds of lighting conditions, indoors and out.

There's a reason I carry a flashlight everywhere I go, and it amazes me that people don't. Your neolithic ancestors would have considered it next thing to magic.

While I used to carry the waved Spyderco Endura, the larger Saber Red Mk.6 spicy treats dispenser, and the 2-cell Surefire, I've downsized to the Delica, Pom OC spray, and single-cell Surefire. It may only use a single CR123, but it still puts out 500 lumens when you mash the button, and a useful 5 lumen task light beam when you lightly press it.

Pepper spray and guns are things you have for really bad emergencies, but I find myself using that knife and flashlight multiple times every day, even though I've never been in hand-to-hand combat while locked in the ninja closet.


Monday, February 21, 2022

The Paradox of Site Moderation

It's either jannies, or you're hip-deep in literal Nazis.


"Only losers blog."

"Only losers blog" is a wisecrack I've often made on social media when the topic of blogging is brought up, usually by someone waxing nostalgic. There's no denying that we're well past the glory days of the classic single-writer, non- (or barely-) commercial blog.

The resulting ghost ships adrift on the seas of the blogosphere are interesting artifacts...
Blogging well requires a tremendous amount of work, including work along the lines of what the socialists call “emotional labor.” That’s evidenced by the phenomenon of the dead blog: one that simply stops updating one day and becomes essentially abandoned.

When a magazine closes down, it goes out a bit like a restaurant or a store. There will often be a final publishing day, maybe a heartfelt note to the readers about the difficult media landscape, a last hurrah. Many websites of shuttered magazines remain online for years, frozen indefinitely; they look just as they did on their final day. Others see their archives moved over to another site, or simply vanish into cyberspace.

For dead blogs, however, the pattern is usually different. Sometimes they end following a building sense of boredom or despair; other times they just end suddenly, with no acknowledgement or last words. Sometimes, a blog’s death is something a reader must divine, rather than a fact explicitly stated by the writer. Quite often, a blogger will intend to get back to blogging, and may even occasionally take a stab at it—“long time no write,” they say guiltily, promising to “post more regularly now”—so it can be debated whether such a blog is really dead. Often, a years-old unfulfilled promise to write more becomes a blog’s unwitting valediction.
Do it long enough and don't rigorously and continually curate that blogroll in the sidebar [guilty cough], and it can turn into something of a digital mausoleum, a dead strip mall on a weed-grown offramp of the information superhighway.


Sunday Dinner Theater

Yesterday evening was unseasonably warm, near sixty degrees here in Indy.

Bobbi started some lump hardwood charcoal in the grill and did up a couple of New York strips and some red potatoes...

She then added some nuke-in-the-bag pre-seasoned asparagus from Fresh Market...

...and it made for a delicious Sunday dinner while we watched the "USS Callister" episode from Season 4 of Black Mirror.

I hadn't seen any of Black Mirror before we started watching it recently and this is some really good stuff. The hype seems to have been justified.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Hey, look!

Things were the way they were for reasons...
For the purpose of defensive shooting, this bladed, slow-fire bullseye stance got supplanted in the early 20th century by various forms of “instinctive” or “point” shooting. There were reasons for this, however, beyond it being some sort of fad or trend.

For instance, W.E. Fairbairn and Eric A. Sykes of the Shanghai Municipal Police, had a large force of officers to train, less than 40 rounds a year to issue them for practice and, as trainer Tom Givens points out, Colt .45 and .380 ACP semi-automatics with rudimentary sights with which to arm them. Given that he was mostly preparing them for close-range gun battles in dark alleys where those thumbnail sights wouldn’t even be visible anyway, it’s probably unsurprising that the program of instruction emphasized coarse pointing techniques. Reflecting this, the qualification course was all at a range of 6 to 12 feet and 50 percent or better of hits anywhere on a silhouette was a passing score.

At about the same time here in the States, the “FBI Crouch” was becoming popular, despite it being a technique employed by Jelly Bryce who was, as Texas firearm instructor Karl Rehn notes, a physical prodigy who could see the traces of pistol bullets in flight. It was like expecting every Little League pitcher to be blessed with the abilities and talents of a Cy Young winner. “Just throw it like Randy Johnson did, kid.”
Bullseye and Free Pistol shooters don't hold pistols one-handed because it's more accurate, they hold pistols one-handed because the rules say you can't hold them two-handed.


Shifting Pathologies

Interesting piece that's been languishing in an open tab for literally months while I decided what to write about it. I can't come up with anything useful to add, so I'll just drop the link and suggest reading it for yourself.
"This mix of seemingly good and bad news is no paradox. The good news is often just one consequence of the bad. There are fewer divorces because there are fewer marriages, and so more of those that begin survive. There are fewer abortions because there are fewer pregnancies, and so more of those that happen are wanted. There are fewer out-of-wedlock births because there are fewer births in general. The same pattern is evident beyond sexuality and family too. Fewer teenagers are dying in car accidents because fewer teenagers are getting driver’s licenses. There is less social disorder, we might say, because there is less social life. We are doing less of everything together, so that what we do is a little more tidy and controlled."

Oh, the humanity!

Apparently an entire auto transport full of Porsches was adrift and burning in the middle of the Atlantic, which is much more tragic than an entire auto transport full of Hyundais and Kias tipping over in Saint Simons Sound.

These floating parking garages are ginormous. What's an even cooler megastructure is the salvage catamaran that chainsaws them apart like giant steel wedding cakes. You should look at the pictures in that second link in the paragraph above, they're pretty wild.

The VB-10,000 is literally chainsawing the ship into pieces.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Same Planet, Different Worlds

When we say "gun safety" and when they say "gun safety", are we talking about the same thing? Is there any common ground or overlap? 


While I haven't yet started chasing those $200 internet writing gigs, my first column a dozen years ago, writing about computer stuff for an internet site that was mostly a labor of love for the site owner, paid even less than that. Plenty of people will churn out content for free in return for exposure, and if all you want to do is keep a content farm churning, that and a bit of editing for SEO is all you're really looking for.

"Piss Off Your Readers So They Rage Click Your Links With This One Weird Trick!" has zero appeal to me.


Thursday, February 17, 2022

Explosion and Aftermath

Archaeologists may have uncovered a Turkish coastal village pulverized by the tsunami triggered by the explosion of Thera, one of the worst volcanic eruptions in history.


Hiding the Light

Today I learned you can watch YouTube videos of classic Buick Riviera headlights in action because of course you can.

Automotif CCLXXIX...

Olympus E-3 & Zuiko 14-35mm f/2

This '87-'91 Ford F-150 caught my eye, mostly by the way it appears to be a rolling study in entropy. A fascinating array of colors and textures. You can embiggenate the photo and let your eyes wander over the very sharawadgi collection of surfaces.

Also, check out the EFI badge on the snout, which is simultaneously a reminder that thirty years ago fuel injection was a big enough deal on a pickup truck that it required some flair to brag about it, and that we liked some really weird fonts in the Eighties. That typeface looks like it came from the bridge instruments of a bad Star Trek: The Next Generation ripoff.

War Stories

Pretty cool reporting by a British newspaper stringer back in '18...
We were now on a rutted dirt track, with trees closing in on us. It was pitch black, and inside the car, there was a nervous air. The column pulled onto another, parallel, track, but we continued straight on, our driver worried about being spotted. Our car bounced and ducked, flashes of red from the vehicles’ tail lights appearing occasionally through the trees. Eventually, we came out onto a bigger track and curved back towards the column. To our right, we could just make out the small, rickety barbed wire fence that marked Russia’s border with Ukraine. And about 20 yards ahead of us, we saw an astonishing sight.
On the other hand, veteran photojournalist Lucas Jackson had some advice on Reddit for an aspiring freelance war correspondent:
"...The big reason is that it’s a bad idea to go in by yourself (no-one will pay for you to go w no established relationship) is that if the shit hits the fan you have no one to help you. Ransom (journalists are often seen as walking ATMs), injury (I know someone in Syria who was captured and had all his teeth kicked out) or even repatriation of your body..."

Tuesday, February 15, 2022


The other day I was fixing to go for a walk and went to grab a camera as I was headed out. It was snowing pretty good and I reckoned I'd want something reasonably weather-resistant, so I grabbed my "work camera", a Canon EOS 5DS.

Then I hesitated. I have work I need to do with that camera. TacCon is coming up. The sidewalks are slippery. Suppose I fall and bust ass and land on the camera? What if I have to shoot TacCon with one of my older cameras?

And then I remembered that I'd shot TacCon in 2017 with an old Nikon D200 and in 2018 with an Olympus PEN E-P5, both with consumer-grade zoom lenses, and it worked out just fine. If there's one thing I'm not short on around here, it's obsolescent cameras that still work just fine.

So I unclenched and went for my walk.


Pattern Recognition...

Every morning of late, I've been following a pretty familiar pattern: Get up, grab a soda, throw my watch on the charger, spin up the computer, and before I commence any writing I solve the day's Wordle puzzle and post the score to my smallest Facebook friends list as well as a little running Telegram chat I have with a few friends.

It's a fun little brain-teaser and if nothing else, I start the day having accomplished something, no matter how inconsequential.

Apparently Meemaw over there in Illinois didn't text her older daughter her Wordle score, like she did every day. Worried about her mom, the daughter had a neighbor check on her. The neighbor rang the doorbell and got no answer, but told the daughter that her car was still there. So they called the po-po for a wellness check. The po-po made entry and arrested the naked, scissors-wielding lunatic who'd been holding Meemaw hostage.

Now, we'd never have heard this story if Meemaw had plugged the lunatic with a Shield EZ like she should have... but we'd never have heard it if she didn't play Wordle, either.


Monday, February 14, 2022

Daaaaaaamn, that's gotta sting.

Since we're piling on...

If this doesn't make a person reconsider their support for "Red Flag" laws, I don't know what would.


Sunday, February 13, 2022

Looking back on Friday...

The other weekend I read of a dystopian cyberpunk future full of powerful tech companies that were effectively states unto themselves, balkanizing nations facing crises of governmental legitimacy, wars carried out by mercenaries and contractors serving as cutouts to hide the origins of their paymasters, all set in a world menaced by global plague.

I also reread Robert Heinlein's 1982 novel Friday.

Published two years before the seminal Neuromancer, Heinlein's novel can be viewed as a sort of ur-cyberpunk, with a protagonist who's an "Artificial Person" and who works as a specialized courier in a world full of megacorporations, prototypical street samurai, hypersonic air travel, and earth-to-orbit beanstalks.

Coming on the heels of re-reading the disorganized mess that was The Number of the Beast, Friday was a relieving return to form by RAH. It's probably the best of his late novels in every respect save one: Plot. See, there really isn't one of those; the narrative basically just follows our protagonist through the chaotic events of her life until (highlight for spoiler) a "Happily Ever After" ending.

The most controversial part of the book happens very early on, still in the opening setup part of the book, when our heroine is captured by a gang of baddies and tortured... which torture includes rape. That scene has been called gratuitous, but I believe that it was influenced by the time when it was written. At the time, the U.S. military academies had just graduated their first classes that included female cadets, and I believe this influenced Heinlein's writing of the novel. He was both pointing out the consequences of the existing trend, and at the same time establishing his protagonist's credentials as a pragmatic badass.

Anyway, the novel held up on the reread and remains one of my faves by RAH. Certainly his best post-The Moon is a Harsh Mistress novel. Recommend.

You might be a nerd if...

...the only thing in your recent Google history that starts with "superb..." is the Wikipedia article on the legendary last king of Rome.

Words Mean Things

Like "Boomer" & "Millennial" have become diluted on social media to mean "person I think is older than me" and "person I think is younger than me", "Socialism" and "Authoritarianism" have become nothing but snarl words for "The Other".

Saturday, February 12, 2022

As reported... Bobbi, there's a critter in the basement of some sort.

I was initially down there with a flashlight and my around-the-house gun stuck in my waistband. I hadn't been down there long before the voice of common sense pointed out that a .22 revolver stuffed full of Federal .22LR Punch, optimized for 14" or more of penetration in bad guys, might not be the best choice on thin-skinned varmints in a basement full of Bobbi's old radio gear, to say nothing of the water heater, furnace, and assorted gas and water lines.

So I rummaged around in a big box of assorted CCI specialty ammo I'd received from Farmer Frank years ago (and he must have gotten it for a writing project years before that, because this stuff was a couple CCI label changes old; 1990s, at least) and fished out some .22 CB rounds.

I loaded those into an old favorite...

Those CCI Small Game Bullets in the photo are great for small game hunting, but small game hunting is a different thing than doming a stationary critter from six feet away; CB caps are adequate for that task for anything I'm likely to find in the basement. The last time I did that it was a flying squirrel and a Super Colibri out of a High Standard Double Nine. (Which I felt horrible about, but flying squirrels are horrible pests once they find their way into a home, and this one was the lone holdout at Castle Frostbite, the rest of the troupe having been locked out of the house when their ingress/egress was discovered and blocked.)


Thursday, February 10, 2022

It's not junk science, it's just junk.

If you've been shooting for a while, you probably remember when your new handgun came with a fired case in a little manila envelope... or maybe a sticker on the side of the box that said "NOT FOR SALE IN NY OR MD". Both New York and Maryland set up programs to keep spent casings on file of every handgun sold, with the intention of using the magic of "ballistic fingerprinting" to match spent cases found at crime scenes to specific guns.

Both states ended their programs, the Empire State in 2012 and the Old Line State in 2015, because they were expensive flops that didn't solve anything, and for numerous reasons.
[T]he system Maryland bought created images so imprecise that when an investigator submitted a crime scene casing, the database software would sometimes spit out hundreds of matches. The state sued the manufacturer in 2009 for $1.9 million, settling three years later for $390,000.
The bigger problem is that "ballistic fingerprinting", like many other forensic techniques, relies on pattern matching and is highly subjective, despite being presented to juries as "science".

Here's Radley Balko, writing at The Daily Beast on the other kind of "ballistic fingerprinting", whereby the claim is made that a fired projectile can be conclusively matched to a specific firearm:
Alicia Carriquiry is director at the Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence at Iowa State. She and her team have been assembling a database of the ballistics marks left on bullets. Their research thus far has indicated there’s little support for the claim that every gun leaves unique marks on the bullets it fires—or least not in a way that’s useful for distinguishing one gun from another.

Controlled studies have also shown that the entire field of forensic firearms analysis is inherently subjective. The Houston Forensic Science Center is one of the few crime labs in the country to take a strictly scientific approach to forensics. Director Peter Stout regularly administers blind proficiency tests to his analysts. He first gave his ballistics analysts “sensitivity tests,” in which they were asked to determine whether two bullets were fired by the same gun. The analysts reached the correct conclusion about 76 percent of the time—leaving a lot of room for reasonable doubt.

Stout also gave his analysts “specificity tests,” in which they were asked to determine whether two bullets were fired by different guns. Here, the success rate dipped to 34 percent.

Carriquiry points to another recent sensitivity study—funded by the FBI itself—in which the analysts’ success rate was just 48 percent. “A dispassionate observer would say that they would have made fewer mistakes if they had flipped a coin,” Carriquiry says. “Given that astonishingly low accuracy, it seems pure hubris to be recommending to examiners to ‘push back.’”
(Archive Link)

Jurors have watched plenty of police procedurals on TV and think that projectile matching is some precise science when in fact going much beyond "Well, the octagonal polygonal rifling tells me this .45 caliber bullet was likely fired from a Glock" is educated guesswork.

Tuesday, February 08, 2022

Automotif CCLXXVIII...

Bentley Flying Spur V8 in, I believe, Old English White rolling down College Avenue yesterday. I was on the way to Fresh Market for sodas on foot. I still haven't attempted backing the Z3 out of the garage, but I'll have to brave the alley tomorrow or Thursday. We're supposed to get a good ten degrees of thaw every day for the rest of the week, though.

The "V8" badge on the fender means this one has the Audi-sourced 500bhp twin-turbo 4.0L motor, rather than the 600bhp twin-turbo W12.

Shot with the Nikon D2X & 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II.

Monday, February 07, 2022

The Truman Show

Mas Ayoob has a review up of an interesting sounding book, Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip...
After graciously turning over the controls of government to his successor, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Truman and his wife Bess left Secret Service behind and went on a road trip in his new 1953 Chrysler New Yorker, with Harry at the wheel virtually the entire time. Visiting friends in DC, doing the tourist thing in New York City where their only child Margaret lived, and eventually back to their home in Independence, Missouri, the Trumans were in touch with ordinary Americans the whole time. There are some who argue that they were the last “ordinary American” first family to occupy the White House.
This sounds right up my alley, so it's next in my reading queue.



One problem I have with a photographing urban wildlife is that a lot of these critters are remarkably skittish. They're best stalked with a long lens.

Thing is, most long lenses... let's go with a full-frame focal length equivalent of 300mm-400mm ...are really big and expensive, or fairly big and have slow maximum apertures at the longer focal lengths. Even with "Image Stabilization" or "Vibration Reduction" or whatever the manufacturer calls it making camera shake less of a concern, you're going to want fast shutter speeds to keep these twitchy little critters from being motion blurs.

That's what's cool about the Zuiko 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 lens for the Four Thirds system. It's the equivalent of a 100-400mm zoom on a full-frame, yet even out at the maximum focal length, it's still capable of a fairly fast f/3.5 aperture.

Here it is compared to the classic older Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D VR:

Don't let the relative sizes fool you! The Oly is from their high-grade line, and is dust- and splash-resistant. Since most Olympus 4/3 DSLR's have in-body image stabilization, the Oly lens doesn't need any of that built into the lens. Therefore despite being a full 1⅓ stop or more brighter across the entire focal length range, it weighs ten ounces less than the Nikon (a bit over 37 ounces for the Zuiko versus 47 for the Nikkor). 

When you factor in the size and weight difference of an Olympus 4/3 DSLR versus a full-frame Nikon, that difference gets felt in the neck muscles during a day of roaming the zoo or wandering up and down the Monon Trail.

Even on the fairly archaic 12MP sensor of the Olympus E-600, it gets results. Look at the little droplets of melted snow gleaming in the squirrel's tummy fur! This image isn't even cropped at all.

Sadly, the 4/3rds DSLRs are a dead system, and the newest bodies are a decade old, with 12MP sensors. The lenses will work with an adaptor on Micro Four Thirds mirrorless bodies, but in order to autofocus, the cameras need to be capable of phase-detection autofocus. This means the pro-grade OM-D E-M1 series, the oldest of which would go for a bit under $300 used with some careful shopping and which would park a 16MP sensor behind this glass.

Red-bellied woodpecker in a tree across the street.


Sunday, February 06, 2022

Greatest Hits

Saturday morning cartoons on MeTV, as I've mentioned, run in three one-hour blocks: Popeye & Pink Panther from 7AM to 8, Tom & Jerry from 8 to 9, and then an hour of Bugs Bunny & Friends.

I tend to wander in and out of the room during these shows, because rarely will an entire hour be made up of cartoons I really dig. During the Warner Brothers hour, for instance, I'll rarely sit in on newer Tweety cartoons or Larriva-era Road Runner, and Pepe Le Pew is just one joke done over and over.

Yesterday, though, was a treat, as it was a solid hour of some of Chuck Jones's greatest hits.

They played the entire Bugs & Daffy hunting trilogy: Rabbit Fire, Rabbit Seasoning, and Duck! Rabbit, Duck!. They played Zip N'Snort, which is peak Chuck Jones Road Runner. They played the one where the little squirrel battles the coconut, Much Ado About Nutting, and the surreal Ready, Woolen, and Able, which might be the funniest of the Ralph Wolf and Sam Sheepdog series.

And then they capped it off with what might be the best Warner Bros short, One Froggy Evening...

Just masterful stuff. No dialogue; none is needed. Facial expressions and body language tell you all you need.

The embedded video above is an excerpt; you can see it in its entirety here.

When I was little, this was the stuff I loved on Saturday mornings, and it was already all mostly twenty to thirty years old. We were already on the greasy slope that slid down from Scooby Doo down through He-Man and She-Ra and wound up at Captain friggin' Planet.

Thankfully it's still out there in reruns to brighten my weekend mornings again.


Saturday, February 05, 2022


Luca was very friendly and wanted skritchies.

Olympus E-3 & Zuiko 14-35mm f/2

Friday, February 04, 2022

Yelling at Clouds

Classic Movies

Some of the best cinema around these days is only thirty to sixty seconds long and airs in the middle of other programs...

This is a sequel to the one that aired during the summer Olympics last year, of course.


QotD: Accessory to the Crime Edition...

From NJT:
"If you wanna fight crime, go after criminals. Don't go after the criminal's shoes or the criminal's earrings or the criminals other possessions they sometimes use to help them commit crimes."
When he's right, he's right.


The worst kind of snow...almost.

What I'd forgotten to take into account about yesterday's snowpocalypse was Wednesday's weather.

See, from pretty much sunup to sundown on Wednesday we had a long, steady, soaking rain. This prevented DPW and INDOT from treating the roads since any brine they put down would be immediately washed into the sewers.

Fortunately the temperature dropped like a rock after sundown on Wednesday so we only had a brief period of sleet and freezing rain before it transitioned more or less directly to snow. I understand that the south side of Indy and down toward Columbus and Bloomington had it a lot worse, getting an inch or more of real ice before the snow started.

So the roads were untreated when it started snowing, and it came down all day yesterday at rates up to an inch an hour.

Indianapolis is prepared for snow, compared to other places I've lived, but it ain't New Hampshire or upstate New York. Without being able to pre-treat the roads and a steady day-long snow, the plows were doing well to keep a sort-of-clear travel lane on major arteries. Indy was pretty well shut down yesterday.

I walked over to Fat Dan's for lunch... you can't call yourself a "Chicago-Style Deli" and shut down for a bit of snow, so I knew they'd be open ...and then to Fresh Market for groceries.

They'd shoveled and salted the walk once already...

I walked the neighborhood again at 4PM and even Fresh Market had packed it in and sent the employees home. (Their parking lot had been freshly plowed when I walked through it on the way to lunch and you couldn't hardly tell it just four hours later.)

Chicago Combo: ½ beef + ½ Italian sausage, hot peppers, dipped roll

Thursday, February 03, 2022

I guess it's the thought that counts?

SHOT: In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Brad Pitt started a foundation called Make It Right that solicited famous architectural firms from around the nation and the world to build homes in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans for returning residents. Architects from L.A., Philly, Manhattan, and as far away as Japan answered the call.

CHASER: They should have solicited some architects from New Orleans.
Although some of these structures are not yet a decade old, my data shows that only six remain in reasonably good shape. Most either have had partial repairs or have been completely renovated because of structural problems. Two were demolished because of severe mold problems.

Many of the houses lacked ordinary, essential features such as rain gutters, overhangs, waterproof painting or covered beams – all of which are necessary to withstand New Orleans’ subtropical climate and heavy rainfall.
This sequel to The Ugly American could be called The Ugly Angeleno, I guess?


Purse Fight

"The scheming New York Times has spent big bucks to buy the very popular free-to-play online game, Wordle!" ...breathlessly reports the Washington Post, who were probably mad they didn't think of it first.
The Times spent an undisclosed figure on the game, but described it in the “low-seven figures.” The company said in a statement that “at the time it moves to The New York Times, Wordle will be free to play for new and existing players, and no changes will be made to its gameplay.” The migration will happen “very shortly,” a spokesman said.

It’s a notable acquisition for the news organization, which has a goal of reaching 10 million digital subscribers by 2025 and has singled out the games and cooking parts of its business as “a key part” of its strategy. As of December 2021, New York Times Games and Cooking had 1 million subscribers each.


Automotif CCLXXVII...

2007-2008 BMW 335i in Jet Black. The twin-turbo 3.0 liter N54 came from the factory with a whisker over three hundred horsepower and could be easily tweaked to produce a whole bunch more. The large intercooler peering out from behind the air dam on this one suggests it has been thus tweaked.

Just in case the tow strap, stance, and intercooler aren't enough of a giveaway, there's also the license plate...

Even though I own a 5.0, I ain't mad. That's a cool car, and a clever plate.

Wednesday, February 02, 2022

Settle down, Tod Lubitch.

"You encounter a mugger. Roll for initiative."

From a conversation elsewhere:
One thing I find interesting is that average consumer/shooter has an idea of projectile velocities that doesn't have a lot of correlation with the real world. It's not their fault, because it's entirely encouraged by the ammo manufacturers. (It's why I joke about "Velocity as measured at the cartridge box flap".)

As a for-instance, I have here on my desk a box of Winchester's 127gr +P+ Ranger-T ammo. Winchester's web page says its velocity (out of a test fixture) is 1250fps at the muzzle and 1236fps at five yards. I measure pistol velocities at nine feet from the muzzle, and when I chrono'ed that lot out of my M&P it averaged 1206fps over a ten-shot string, with a velocity spread from 1190fps to 1230fps. Adding a quarter or half inch of barrel length might boost the an amount small enough to get lost in the statistical noise.

Mr. Boberg's written reasons behind the [XR9 pistol] design (increasing velocity in hopes of better expansion from 9mm bullets) always struck me as a very...well, simplistic grasp of terminal ballistics. "I will add .5" of barrel length which will add 25fps of velocity which will increase damage by 1d8+1" when all of it is just picking fly poop out of pepper.
That particular batch of Ranger-T, with a ~40fps velocity spread across a ten-shot string, was actually pretty consistent, especially for +P+ ammunition. (High pressure loads in 4" and shorter barrels can be a crap shoot. Is everything gonna combust good before the bullet leaves the barrel or not?) 

By way of comparison, .357SIG 125gr Winchester Ranger fired out of my M&P357 had a velocity spread of nearly 80 feet per second. You could... and I did two rounds of RA357SB from the same box of ammo loaded into the same pistol magazine and have one doing barely over 1300fps and the next one moving just shy of 1400.

Obsessing over 50fps is a waste of time, in my opinion.


Gun Culture 2.0

Prof. Yamane on why he believes that Gun Culture 2.0 is the dominant paradigm and a "Gun Culture 3.0" is still largely hypothetical.

Tuesday, February 01, 2022

Judging a Book by its Cover...

Marko has unveiled the cover of his next book, Centers of Gravity, at his blog.

It's my second favorite cover art in the series, after Fields of Fire.



If your feed path includes the cartridge having to make a layover or buy a bus transfer to get from the magazine to the chamber, rather than taking a direct flight, you have not gamed out the simplest solution to the problem.

And before you hit me with "But Hiram Maxim...!", he died when ships and planes still had reciprocating engines and had to inefficiently waste energy yanking pistons to a halt and hauling them back to the starting point.

Barriers to Talent

This is about cats. Cats and cameras. Cats and cameras and, yes, guns.

Yesterday, Bobbi noticed Holden all snuggled up on the window seat in a patch of winter sunlight and called out "You might want to grab a camera!"

Nikon D3

He looked cute... to the human eye. To a camera, he was a very dark object that was strongly backlit. There was a light-colored cushion off to the right that was bouncing a little bit of fill onto him, but it's not like you can get natural-looking pictures of a dozing cat by dragging in a reflector or using fill flash. Well, you might get one, but it would be terribly rude to the cat.

Fuji X-T2

Anyway, he did look cute, but it was a tricky shot. I wound up attempting it with a couple cameras, as much to see how the different sensors and metering systems would deal with the tricky conditions as anything else. I grabbed the old D3 and tried the Fuji X-T2 (itself not state of the art, but one of the newest cameras I own.)

I tried with an Oly also and quickly realized that, as much as I love playing with the Olympus E-3 and as dreamy as the Zuiko 14-35mm f/2 zoom lens that lives on it is, I had no idea how to quickly switch the metering on it from evaluative ("ESP" in Olympus-speak, what Nikon calls "Matrix" and Canon calls "Multi") to center-weighted.

Fuji X-E1 & XF 23mm f/2

The experience was one of those reminders that I like cameras too much to ever be a really good photographer.

I’m the photography equivalent of that shooter who brings a big case full of half a dozen guns to the range and cheerfully blasts a box of ammo through each just for the joy of messing with them, rather than grinding through a dedicated practice regimen with that one gun they’re trying to master…

…and I’m okay with that.