Friday, April 29, 2022

You know it's true.

Automotif CCXCIII...

The fifth generation of the Mustang, like the Roush-ified convertible above, looks a lot bulkier than either the SN95/New Edge cars before it or the Sixth Gen "S550" cars that followed. I blame Euro pedestrian safety regs.

Stylists are getting better at coping with those, apparently.

Both photos shot with a Nikon D7100.


  • Amazon posts a $4B loss for Q1 of '22, causing its share price to go on a "10% off!" sale, in case you wanted to get mom a few shares of AMZN for Mothers Day. (It's still nearly three grand a share, so you'd have to really like mom to do that.)

  • What is it about tsars and kooky prophets?

  • Private spaceflight is still pretty cool. Here's video of the first rental capsule returning. I hope Axiom gets their deposit on Crew Dragon Endeavor back.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Return of the Bogeyman

We've managed to waltz our way back to a brink we haven't danced along since I was in high school...
Even the demonstrative use of a lower-yield tactical nuclear weapon by Russia would mark the end of the postwar order through which, under U.S. leadership, most of the world enjoyed relative and increasing levels of prosperity, freedom, and peace. It would augur the beginning of an era more like that of 1914-45, scarred by the Great Depression, totalitarianism, genocide, and world wars that included the use of chemical and nuclear weapons of mass destruction and killed as many as 100 million people.

Sacred Space

Friend John Murphy was through Indy yesterday, so we decided to hit the state's Military Museum in the basement of the World War Memorial, which was closed last year when he visited.

The solemnity of the shrine room atop the Memorial here in Indianapolis is almost impossible to convey via photographs. You really have to see it.

It doesn't stop me from trying, though...

Yesterday I had the Olympus E-600 with me, and a little camera bag slung over my shoulder with a secret weapon in it: A Zuiko 7-14mm f/4.

It was mostly a proof-of-concept trip to check what the field of view would look like. I swapped out lenses on the camera before heading up to the shrine, and this is what I got...

To get it right is going to require a tripod and long exposure at a low ISO, and the nature of the space won't allow a long and complicated setup. Mount the camera on the lightweight Manfrotto downstairs, go up, set up, click, and scoop up the tripod and bail.

That's still more drama than I want to inflict on a non-photographer friend who's just there to see the museum and hang out, so it'll have to wait for a solo visit.


Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Another loss.

New Jovian Thunderbolt started blogging back in '07. We weren't really tight, but we'd exchanged emails and IMs over the years, linked to each other's blogs every now and again, hung out at NRAAM this one time back in the day. He was a fixture in the sidebar and a fairly frequent link, being the coiner of the term "metrocon".

He'd been having health issues lately and last weekend they finally caught up with him. And so it goes.

We are diminished.


Automotif CCXCII...

Fuji X-T2 & 16-80mm f/4 OIS WR

The 911 Turbo has long been known for offering supercar performance in a daily-driver package.

And then there's the 911 GT3 RS, in case your daily drive includes the Nurburgring and you need features like a Pit Speed Limiter button...

Nikon D800 & 24-120mm f/4 VR

Sit at the corner of 54th & College long enough, and sooner or later one of everything will drive by...


Tuesday, April 26, 2022


Have you ever been drawn into a conversation on an internet forum and had the uncomfortable realization, a few posts in, that the person with whom you are conversing... let's go with "has profound mental deficits"? 

This is always awkward for me.


The internet likes dog pictures, right?

Check out the smile on this happy little fella!

He was such a little ham. Very camera aware.

Bonus dog photo...

Both photos come from 24MP APS-C sensors: The top one from a Fuji X-T2 and the bottom from a Nikon D7100. The X-T2 is pretty mature mirrorless technology, but its autofocus drops the ball more frequently than the D7100, especially if your subject is something challenging, like a shiny car with lots of chrome on a sunny day.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Automotif CCXCI...

A groovy-looking 1980-'82 Corvette with aftermarket side pipes. These years were the last hurrah of the C3 body style that debuted on the '68 'Vettes.

Hard to say what's under the hood. Stock engine options for these model years ranged from a 190bhp L-48 350, through the 200bhp L-83 with its notorious twin-throttle-body "Crossfire" injection setup, to the 230bhp L-82.

1980 marked the debut of the federally-mandated 85mph speedometer, with "55" highlighted. My '81 Kawasaki GPz550 had one of those speedos.

Automotif CCXC...

It's something of an achievement in itself to drive a Chevette long enough that it becomes head-turningly cool, like this guy did. It definitely caught the attention of most folks eating lunch on the patio at Twenty Tap.

I hollered "Nice 'Vette! What year?" to the driver, who grinned and answered "1980!"

There was something about it that made my car nerd itch, though. The front end was a little... off. The bumpers seemed a little slim. And, wait, there were no side-marker lights up front.

The cue is in the vintage license plates...

Taken with Fuji X-T2 & 16-80mm f/4 R OIS WR

Those are Sao Paolo license plates... from Brazil, because this is a 1980 Chevette SL from General Motors do Brasil.

The Brazilian model used a 1.4L (85 cubic inch) inline four just like the base domestic Chevette, but the Latin American version had a single overhead cam instead of pushrods.


Friday, April 22, 2022

I kinda miss Mitch, too...

...although I have zero buyer's remorse for voting for Holcomb twice. Anyway, I found this bit from Jonah Goldberg interesting.
Here’s a non-exhaustive snapshot of the kind of America I’d like to see. I want to live in a country where most people don’t think very much about the federal government or national politics. To the extent the federal government is involved in our daily lives, I’d like it to reject metaphors about it being our mother, father, or nanny. In fact, I’d prefer if people didn’t look at the federal government metaphorically at all. But if they had to, maybe think of it as your neighbor. It’ll chip in to help in a dire circumstance or emergency, but its generosity and patience are not inexhaustible, at least not for people who can help themselves. But oldsters, shut-ins, the disabled. Maybe neighbors agree on a plan to help on a more permanent basis.

I want to see a broadly tolerant country where minority rights are protected. I also want a country where majority values are respected. The only way to have that kind of country, by the way, is to have more federalism–under which national minorities can live as local majorities. I want America to remain the strongest country in the world and the leader of the free portions of it. And I’d like us to do what we can, where prudent, to see the free world expand. I want government, at every level, to recognize that spending and borrowing have natural limits.

That’s probably enough on government. One helpful heuristic: Ask yourself “What would Mitch Daniels do?” and whatever the answer is you can be pretty sure I’ll say, “That. I want that.”
He used to be way too metrocon for my tastes, but our paths have been drifting closer to each other since, oh, about here.


Automotif CCLXXXIX...

Everybody is making an SUV these days, of course, even Italian manufacturers better known for sports cars.

Here's Maserati's Levante in Blu Passione...

...and in HyperGreen...

The green one was shot with the D800 & 24-120mm f/4 VR. The latter is one of my favorite "walking around" lenses; it's not too bulky, has a useful focal length range, and is sharp enough to use even on the D800 at normal shutter speeds.

The blue one was the D7100 & 16-80mm f/2.8-4E VR. This lens is basically the twin of the 24-120 for crop-sensor... "DX", in Nikon-speak ...cameras. (With its rugged magnesium shell, weather-sealing, dual card slots, and 24MP APS-C sensor, the D7100 was something of a scaled-down companion to the D800.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

If I'd known then what I know now...

The 296Ti, a five-shot .44Spl, was one of only two models of DAO enclosed-hammer "Centennial" L-frames made by Smith & Wesson back around the turn of the Millennium.

The other was the 242Ti, which was otherwise identical but a .38Spl seven-shooter. I bought the .44, because I was (and still am, kinda) enamored with big bore snubbies. Thing is, the gun's limited to a max bullet weight of 200 grains, lest it turn into a kinetic bullet puller under recoil. That's not such a big deal, though, since most defense-oriented loads in the caliber use 200 grain or lighter projectiles.

None of those bullets expand reliably anyway, and if they did, they'd probably wind up with marginal penetration so it's probably a good thing they don't. Take Hornady's 165gr FTX Critical Defense, for instance. In my experience it's pretty iffy in the expansion department in clear gel through four-layer denim. In bare ordnance gel, it expands just like the brochure photos...and penetrates about eight or nine inches. The same as a decent .380ACP load.

So, loaded with Silvertips or Federal 200gr LSWC-HP, you've got a bullet that penetrates about fourteen inches through 4LD with some reliability, and you've got five of them. If I'd bought the 242Ti and loaded it with 148gr Federal Gold Medal Match .38 Special wadcutters, I'd get the same amount of penetration, less recoil, and two more shots.

We live and learn.

When carried it on the belt, rarely, I carried it in an old Galco Speed Master revolver holster, which had a distressing tendency to collapse and be difficult to re-holster with. These days I'd use the more rigidly molded Combat Master from Galco... if I didn't just go ahead and get a Summer Special IWB rig from Milt Sparks.

Right after I got it, I had a gunsmith do a trigger job, trying to get the lightest possible trigger pull while still reliably busting caps. It was down around nine pounds. Of course, that required a lightened rebound spring and gave a slow reset you could easily outrun shooting fast in double action. I had that problem sorted by the late Denny Reichard of Sand Burr Gun Ranch, who set me straight with a trigger job using factory springs. Sure, it's a couple pounds heavier than it was, but it's much better for real-world use.

I should get a tritium sight on the front...


Automotif CCLXXXVIII...

A slick-looking Audi R8 in Suzuka Gray Metallic, which might be my favorite color on these things.

Right behind the mid-engine V10 Audi...

...came a 760bhp supercharged Shelby GT500.

That Lambo from a few posts back came rolling by not two minutes later.


Tuesday, April 19, 2022


At 12,490 tons, the Moskva is now the biggest warship*, by displacement, sunk in combat since World War Two, taking the title from the 12,242-ton Argentine cruiser ARA General Belgrano (née USS Phoenix), which was sent to Davey Jones' locker by HMS Conqueror in the Falklands dustup of '82.

Moskva may be on the bottom of the Black Sea, but she will sail forever in our hearts on a sea of memes.

*"Warship", because Atlantic Conveyor was heavier than either.


Lines on the map...

Every morning, while I wait for the caffeine to take hold, I play the day's game of Worldle, where one is shown the outline of a country and tries to guess which one it is by its shape. A wrong guess will get an arrow pointing in the direction of the mystery country and the distance in kilometers.

One thing you can tell about the map shapes are that if they consist solely of irregular edges, it's either in East Asia, Europe, or the Americas. Its borders often just sort of... happened ...over time. (Either that or it's an island and Mother Nature drew the boundaries.)

Yesterday's country was Lithuania.

If the country has a ruler-straight border or three? It's in Africa or the Middle East and the borders were arbitrarily drawn by some possibly-inebriated dudes using a map and a straight-edge in Paris or Brussels or someplace in the 19th or early 20th Century.


Monday, April 18, 2022

Hidden Masterpiece

My favorite kind of photography is candid portraiture of friends. Getting an image that really captures something of the person in a shot makes me happy. I've used some pretty spiffy cameras and expensive lenses to do this...

But the important thing is being there in the right place at the right time with a camera. We all have a camera with us these days, and it's often capable of getting the shot.

Anyone who knows Murphy can probably hear this iPhone snapshot...

Your phone may already contain a masterpiece, writes Mike Johnston in an article for The New Yorker. The trick is finding them...
Today, of course, we’re in the age of digital photography. Back in the eighties, I remember reading that six billion photographs were taken each year, a number that seemed as big as the ocean; currently, although exact numbers can’t be known, the world probably collects that many images every three and a half days. There’s a new way in which we can miss out on great photographs: they can be buried forever in the digital tsunami.

Many of us are now like those National Geographic photographers. Almost without trying, we can find ourselves with twenty-three thousand pictures on our camera rolls. Unfortunately, we don’t have picture editors to do the work of sifting and culling and considering. No one helps us discover which shots “have legs” and stay interesting the more we look at them; no one shows us which photographs say what we mean to say; and no one tells us how to identify the best and leave aside the rest. Many of us have also stopped printing our photos. It used to be that we were constrained by our physical photo albums, that we had to choose which pictures to keep and which to leave out. “Redaction is what transforms a quantity of images from a heap to a whole,” the photography critic A. D. Coleman once wrote, referring to the process of culling. The cloud is big, so we don’t redact. We live with our heaps.

Redacting takes time. You can’t edit pictures by thinking; you have to do it by looking. The more pictures you have, the more you have to look.
It's a great piece and you should go read the whole thing.

And then get to curatin'...


Sunday, April 17, 2022


How the Democrats are losing the center (and don't seem to realize or care):
The remarkable thing about the unpopularity of popularism among progressive elites is how it is best understood as self-protection, not just of their jobs and status, but of their worldviews. I’ve been listening to Mike Duncan’s podcast on the Russian Revolution. One of the points he presses to great effect is that the White Russians could have easily beat the Bolsheviks if they just let go of their traditional notions of aristocratic entitlement, czardom, feudalism, etc. But they couldn’t do it. The Bolsheviks were horrible, but they at least made promises that were popular among the workers and the peasants. The Whites just promised to restore the old status quo, so most Russians had no interest in rushing to their cause. In today’s scenario, the progressive intellectuals are the White Russians. They can’t let go of their worldview because it’s so tied up in their identity, their careers, and their ideology.

Average workers are struggling to afford to fill their gas tanks, and Biden’s reminding them that if they bought an electric car (average price $56,000, which is $10,000 more than the average gas-powered vehicle), they’d save $80 per month on gas. That is dumbass politics if your audience is normal voters. But it’s the kind of thing that garners praise from the progressive Mandarins.

Variation on a Theme

Remember the dude in California the other day who sent bullets flying after a fleeing thief and is facing very serious felony charges for hitting a bystander?

Well, only pure dumb luck kept this Terre Haute, IN jewelry store owner from being in the same boat. Not that the boat he's in is all that much better.

Some dudes ran out of his store with a handful of loot, and 72-year-old Mr. Bemis set out in hot pursuit with a handful of pistol. Right out there in the middle of Terre Haute, in the middle of a busy retail area, a couple blocks from a middle school, he decided that the prudent form of action would be to start shooting after the fleeing crooks.

He didn't hit anybody, but he's still being charged with Criminal Recklessness. Normally in Indiana Criminal Recklessness would be a Class B Misdemeanor, but... cue sad trombone ...
Sec. 2 . (a) A person who recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally performs an act that creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to another person commits criminal recklessness.  Except as provided in subsection (b), criminal recklessness is a Class B misdemeanor.

(b) The offense of criminal recklessness as defined in subsection (a) is:

(1) a Level 6 felony if:

(A) it is committed while armed with a deadly weapon;  or

(B) the person committed aggressive driving (as defined in IC 9-21-8-55 ) that results in serious bodily injury to another person;  or

(2) a Level 5 felony if:

(A) it is committed by shooting a firearm into an inhabited dwelling or other building or place where people are likely to gather;  or

(B) the person committed aggressive driving (as defined in IC 9-21-8-55 ) that results in the death or catastrophic injury of another person.
Dude is fixin' to spend a ton of money to try and stay out of jail. A Level 6 felony could be as much as a 2½ year sentence and a ten thousand dollar fine.

If he loses, even if he lucks out and doesn't get time due to his age and no criminal history, he has the penalty of being a convicted felon. Bye bye lots of rights. If he wins, he's still going to have burned a metric ton of money. Unless he has substantial savings, he can probably kiss the business goodbye.

Like Spiderman tells us, with great power comes great responsibility. In Indiana, it is your right to carry a firearm for defense. If you are going to exercise the right to go armed, it is your responsibility to understand all that entails, to know when, where, and why you may use your blaster.

There are books, organizations, and websites with the information you need, but it's on you to seek it out.

The guy in the picture is Mas Ayoob. He doesn't want you, a decent law-abiding citizen, to go to jail out of ignorance. Let him help you.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Automotif CCLXXXVII...

A Lamborghini Huracán LP610-4 lurking its way down College Avenue on a sunny spring afternoon. 

Snapped with a Canon EOS 40D and EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM combo. (The 17-85 would have been the kit lens bundled with the 40D back in 2007.)


The D-Team

The Today Show has been morning background noise for years now. I generally only pay any attention to the opening stories, up to the first commercial break; this is the equivalent of stuff that would be "above the fold" on the front page of the newspaper. After that, I'm down the hall on the computer and only keeping half an ear open for potential blogfodder.

Saturdays, the local network affiliate shows a thirty-minute rump cut of Weekend Today stuffed in between the cartoons on one of their subchannels, I guess due to some sort of contractual obligation.

This weekend, being Easter/Passover weekend, you could tell they were digging deep into their bench... if not actually calling people up from AAA man the desk, because there were a couple talking heads at the table there that I absolutely did not recognize. If you're a junior woodchuck newsreader, that's gotta be an awkward introduction to The Bigs.

(Normally the Saturday show is hosted out of their DC studio by Kristen Welker and Peter Alexander; the other six days of the week it's out of the well-known Studio 1A looking out on Rockefeller Plaza.)

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Not Helping

For the eleventy-seventh time, the possession of a firearm does not magically transform you into some cosmic agent of justice.

For example, take this yahoo in Victorville, CA ...

Did you catch that? Some dudes grabbed some shoes from his shoe store and took off running. He ran out into the mall behind them and, realizing he wasn't going to catch them, just started blasting at the fleeing shoplifters. His bullets hit a little girl and put her in the hospital.

Luckily he didn't kill her, so he's only being charged with attempted murder instead of the whole enchilada, and frankly he deserves it. Any sympathy I had for dude evaporated when he threw down in the middle of the mall for no good reason.

Deadly force is only justifiable when there is the immediate, otherwise unavoidable, danger of death or great bodily harm to yourself or another innocent person.

Literally none of those preconditions were met here. If you're going to carry a gun in public, knowing when and why you can use it is entirely your responsibility.

This guy ain't on my team.


The French Correction

So, set the wayback machine for the summer of 2007, when I was still living in Knoxville, right after I left Coal Creek Armory. Having some spare time on my hands, I drove over to Nashville to spend a few days at Oleg Volk's place, hanging out and providing an eclectic selection of guns for photographic purposes.

The first morning there, Oleg and a few others were heading out to go do some shooting. Having just finished a good long stretch of six-day workweeks at an indoor range, I begged off. "I'll just chill here and read, if it's all the same to you guys. If you want to shoot anything I brought, feel free to drag it along."

Among the guns they elected to take was the MAS-49/56. I handed Oleg a couple boxes of Portuguese FNM-branded full metal jacket ammunition and told him to knock himself out.

He asked where to hold on the target at a hundred yards.

"How the hell should I know?" I replied, "I've had it a couple years, but never got around to shooting it."

I spent a pleasant couple hours in silence with a book, and when the crew came trooping back in from the range, Oleg had an unhappy look on his face and was nursing his right thumb.

"What happened?"

"The rifle tried to break my hand."

Yikes. The internet wouldn't be happy with me if I broke their photographer, no matter how indirectly.

It turned out that Oleg let the bolt fly forward to chamber the first round, and the rifle promptly slamfired, kicking up a gout of dirt a few yards in front of the line and pranging the base of Oleg's thumb with that big round nylon knob on the MAS charging handle.

A bit of research on the internets turned up the fact that this is what we would call a Known Issue with some ammunition, since the MAS has a large, heavy firing pin meant to deliver a healthy lick to a hard French military primer.

The two solutions for this I uncovered at the time were to either have a 'smith lighten the factory pin, which seemed pretty iffy, or to track down one of a small number of titanium firing pins someone had allegedly made in unicorn-like quantities a few years earlier.

The importance I assigned to this task can be assessed by the fact that I finally got around to it last month...



Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Big Interest

According to Tiffany Johnson, who would know, TacCon '23 is something like eighty percent sold out in only 24 hours.

Which is wild. Last year it took not quite a month. Back in 2015, I was at a John Murphy class in Virginia with Tiffany in early November and asked her about TacCon tickets and she told me they'd just sold out in October.

Word gets around.


"Subtle Plans are Here Again"

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #212...

It only took fifteen years, but I finally got around to it. Details forthcoming...

MAS-49/56 and a box of commercial 7.5 French with a positively quaint price tag.

On the Brain...

Last year in Dallas a friend was giving me a lift back to the hotel in her truck, a Shelby'ed-out Raptor with scoops and vents and flares and enough horsepower to light Times Square on New Year's Eve. 

She booted it down the interstate for an eyeball-flattening bit of yeehaw!, but that wasn't the most memorable part of the drive. Instead of remembering that wholesome display of ludicrous torque, what sticks with me is the sticker in the back window of the pickup truck ahead of us at the top of the off-ramp.

I had to photograph it.

Folks, this guy spends entirely too much time thinking about two things: perversion and violence. That ain't healthy.

That's the thing with all the constant talk about pedos and woodchippers. It all reminds me of a passage from P.J. O'Rourke's book All the Trouble in the World, when he was visiting his old alma mater, Miami University.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Act now! Spaces go fast!

Registration for Tac-Con 2023 just went live. It will be held at the Dallas Pistol Club in Dallas, TX again.

Spaces go fast! Tac-Con '22 sold out in early May of '21, so don't wait!

Amused to Death

Another interesting thinkpiece...
[T]he Internet and new media forms have re-arranged social, political, and cultural structures. We see it with Twitter. We see it with TikTok. We see it with short-form video. The messages get shorter. An inescapable progression, or digression, of how we communicate, how we understand the society we live in. We communicate via meme, not thoughtful treatise.

We can’t ignore it.

In 1985, Neil Postman wrote of the impact of television,

“Our politics, religion, news, athletics, education and commerce have been transformed into congenial adjuncts of show business, largely without protest or even much popular notice. The result: we are a people on the verge of amusing ourselves to death.”

What would Neil Postman say today?

We are all Tod Lubitch now.

This piece is a great look at the corrosive effects of social media on a cohesive society, and how it empowers... even encourages ...everything from woke cancel mobs to weirdo conspiracy theories by incentivizing the worst sort of behavior in the name of increasing engagement and selling eyeballs:
The most reliable cure for confirmation bias is interaction with people who don’t share your beliefs. They confront you with counterevidence and counterargument. John Stuart Mill said, “He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that,” and he urged us to seek out conflicting views “from persons who actually believe them.” People who think differently and are willing to speak up if they disagree with you make you smarter, almost as if they are extensions of your own brain. People who try to silence or intimidate their critics make themselves stupider, almost as if they are shooting darts into their own brain.
Eventually social norms will evolve to catch up to the technology, provided we don't devolve into TurboYugoslavia before then.


Monday, April 11, 2022

Coincidence? Well, actually yes.

This piece at The Bulwark today, comparing the arcs of the Russian and Ukrainian armed forces over the last thirty years from a guy who's been watching, closed by quoting a familiar passage from the French novel The Centurions:
"I’d like [France] to have two armies: one for display with lovely guns, tanks, little soldiers, staffs, distinguished and doddering Generals, and dear little regimental officers who would be deeply concerned over their General’s bowel movements or their Colonel’s piles, an army that would be shown for a modest fee on every fairground in the country. The other would be the real one, composed entirely of young enthusiasts in camouflage uniforms, who would not be put on display, but from whom impossible efforts would be demanded and to whom all sorts of tricks would be taught. That’s the army in which I should like to fight."
The reason I recalled that passage is that Colonel David Hackworth used it to close out his memoir, About Face, which I'm currently re-reading for probably the fifth time.

If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it.


Look at the soulful eyes on this handsome young boxer!

Photographed with an Olympus E-600 and the Zuiko 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 II, which is a fantastic walking-around lens, sporting a focal length range equivalent to 28-108mm on a full-frame camera and with a fast maximum aperture on tap across the entire range. The rough equivalent on my full-frame Canons, the workhorse EF 24-105mm f/4L IS, weighs half a pound more, is a half-inch longer, and is a full stop slower on the wide end. (To say nothing of the size difference between most Four Thirds DSLRs and the full-frame 5D series.)


Sunday, April 10, 2022

Automotif CCLXXXVI...

Walking back toward Roseholme Cottage after lunch with friend Staghounds last weekend we were passed  by this little gem tooling down 54th Street. I only had time to get off a quick hip-shot with the Fuji X-E1, wearing the XF 23mm f/2 WR lens. Not the ideal setup for car-spotting...

Most cameras I only shoot in RAW and process JPEGs in Photoshop, but the film emulation modes in Fuji cameras are so cool that they're the only ones I shoot in RAW + JPEG, despite the hit it causes in card capacity. The X-E1's film emulation is set to B&W with a yellow filter.

The shot below is processed from the RAW...

Classic BMW 2002, the ur sports sedan. When these first hit our shores, they caught the attention of sports car fans for having the nimble and tossable nature of a British two-seater, but with a usable trunk and a back seat and Teutonic build quality & reliability.

Car and Driver's love affair with the marque started with this model. Here's an excerpt from David E. Davis's epic '68 review:
Down at the club, Piggy Tremalion and Bucko Penoyer and all their twit friends buy shrieking little 2-seaters with rag tops and skinny wire wheels, unaware that somewhere, someday, some guy in a BMW 2002 is going to blow them off so bad that they'll henceforth leave every stoplight in second gear and never drive on a winding road again as long as they live.

In the suburbs, Biff Everykid and Kevin Acne and Marvin Sweatsock will press their fathers to buy HO Firebirds with tachometers mounted out near the horizon somewhere and enough power to light the city of Seattle, totally indifferent to the fact that they could fit more friends into a BMW in greater comfort and stop better and go around corners better and get about 29 times better gas mileage.

Mr. and Mrs. America will paste a "Support Your Local Police" sticker on the back bumper of their new T-Bird and run Old Glory up the radio antenna and never know that for about 2500 bucks less they could have gotten a car with more leg room, more head room, more luggage space, good brakes, decent tires, independent rear suspension, a glove box finished like the inside of an expensive overcoat and an ashtray that slides out like it was on the end of a butler's arm—not to mention a lot of other good stuff they didn't even know they could get on an automobile, like doors that fit and seats that don't make you tired when you sit in them.
Given the era, the sub-120bhp four banger, 11-second 0-60 time, and ~100mph top speed may seem somewhat low to generate the hype surrounding this car, but that's because our memories of "the Muscle Car Era" are distorted by time and magazine hype. 

For every Hemi-powered Road Runner or SS454 Chevelle, there were literally thousands of sedans and "sporty" coupes being...well, let's charitably call it wheezy 2-barrel small blocks and agricultural inline sixes. They put up horsepower numbers not much more impressive than the 2002, and weighed half again as much if not more.

Anyway, the Bimmer in the picture has the federally-mandated 5-MPH bumpers both front and rear, so a '74 model. It was about to be supplanted here in the U.S. by the first actual 3-series model on these shores, the (bigger, heavier) 320i.


Saturday, April 09, 2022

Fight The Power

Friday, April 08, 2022

Deep State Hauler

The Bear and the Dragon

A guy who's written a couple books on the topic of Russia and energy politics gets interviewed:
Putin continued to do what his imperial and Soviet predecessors had always done. Instead of looking to the East and absorbing the implications of this new reality, he focused on the West and neglected the East. Marx might have said that Putin suffers from “false consciousness.” From the long-term perspective, both the prizes and the threats lie in the East. Yet Putin—together with the hydrocarbon-based oligarchy that surrounds him—continued to focus on Europe. In rhetoric, he talked about a “pivot to the East,” but in practice Europe remained his chief market.

An irony here is that the Russians had already begun diversifying away from gas transit through Ukraine before the war. Nord Stream 2 is actually the last of five new bypass pipelines to Europe; another decade and the gas divorce would have been final.

But Europe is declining and China is rising. Putin is focused in the wrong direction.


Ukraine is winning the propaganda war hands-down. (You might want to let your breakfast get good and settled before hitting Play.)

In which I don't do as I say...

How many years must you do something before it becomes a tradition? Is it as few as two? Because if two years qualifies, I’ve officially made a holiday tradition of not following my own advice.

To clarify, there are two practices against which I’ve inveighed in these very pages. One is the “carry rotation,” whereby the handgun carrier selects the gun they’re carrying based on some random or emotional reason, like “I’m in a .357 sort of mood today,” or “The grips on this 1911 match my socks.”

A firearm carried for personal defense is an emergency tool like the fire extinguisher in your kitchen, and you didn’t pick that out because it matched the cabinetry, did you? (Please say no.)
I think you should RTWT, because of course I do!

Canceled Culture

Megan McArdle went off on a tear about how toxic Twitter has been for journalism. Of course she did it in a Twitter thread, because how else would you reach journalists?
5) Like a lot of social media--and texting & IM--Tweeting occurs in a strange liminal space between oral and written culture. The short format encourages people to treat it like they're chit-chatting with friends (an illusion encouraged by the fact that all their friends are on!)

5a) People say a lot of stuff that is totally fine and appropriate in the context of chatting with their friends, like hyperbolic ranting ("People who drive the speed limit in the left lane should be *shot*) or mean-girl gossip (OMG WHAT is wrong with Jodi Ernst's HAIR?)

5b) Only it's written, so it doesn't stay local and in context. Out of that context, it looks somewhere between unprofessional and psychopathic, damaging you and your colleagues, and forcing your institution to either defend the undefensible, or discipline you.

6) Unless you are always uber-careful getting on Twitter is like playing Russian roulette. Most days, nothing happens, but ...
There's the ever-present risk of being dog-piled by an outraged mob of danger-haired SJWs with non-binary pronouns or a brigade of edgelord internet anime nazis that adds a frisson of danger to Twitter posting, although it's more like playing Russian roulette with one of those French twenty-shot pinfire revolvers and hundred-year-old ammunition; it seems pretty scarce and random if one is capable of a modicum of netiquette. (Now there's a quaint term!)

Of course she got dragged for it...mostly by fellow journalists who don't want to give up the habit of that toxic hellsite.


Wednesday, April 06, 2022

Cool & Rainy

Fifty-something degrees and spitting rain outside.

Warm weather a few weeks ago saw the plastic sheeting come down on the patio at Twenty Tap, as outdoor diners enjoyed temperatures that strayed into the low seventies.

Alas, it was just Fool's Spring.

We've been lucky to see the right side of sixty degrees since then, a real shock after the ninety-degree baking I got on the last Sunday in March down in Dallas.

According to the ten-day forecast at Wunderground, we'll be lucky to see the right side of sixty any time soon, too. They say we might even get another dusting of the s-word on Saturday.

I shouldn't complain; it was another wet firecracker of a winter. We had a couple decent cold snaps, but it was one of the least snowy winters on record in Indianapolis. Knoxville and Atlanta both saw more of the white stuff, I think.

Still, springtime is dragging its ass in arriving and I'm worried we're just going to give it a miss and skip straight to summer.


Hard truth about baseball.

The nerds have killed baseball by turning it into what one commenter called "outdoor Excel" and it will never return to its former glory. Matthew Walther offers a modest proposal to treat it like the historic landmark it is:
Opening day of the Major League Baseball season, which falls on Thursday after being delayed for a week by a labor dispute, is as good an occasion as any for fans of the game to come to terms with certain hard facts. I am talking, of course, about the inevitable future in which professional baseball is nationalized and put under the authority of some large federal entity — the Library of Congress, perhaps, or more romantically, the National Park Service.

Like the Delta blues or Yellowstone National Park, baseball is as indelibly American as it is painfully uncommercial. Left to fend for itself, the game will eventually disappear.


We need to stop pretending that baseball has a broad-based enthusiastic following and begin to see the game for what it is: the sports equivalent of collecting 78 r.p.m. records. Baseball is America’s game only in the sense that jazz is America’s music or that Henry James is America’s literature. It is time that we acknowledged this truth by affording baseball the same approbation we reserve for those other neglected cultural treasures.

It might be a hard sell for some fans, but ultimately a world in which the game not only continues but also does so free of commercial pressures would be a merrier one. Among other things, the league could abandon its doomed attempts to attract more viewers by mucking with the rules for extra innings and introducing impure practices like pitch clocks, signal transmitters for catchers and the universal designated hitter.
RTWT in all its Swiftian glory.

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

Worth a Read...

If you haven't read it, Gessen's short bio of Putin from the October '08 issue of Vanity Fair is available to read at this archive link.

Worthwhile, and a reminder of how long ago 2008 was.



Greg Ellifritz has his TacCon '22 link roundup posted.

He notes:
"I started writing about TacCon back in 2014. It’s interesting looking back. My 2014 TacCon Roundup post had 15 article links. As late as 2019, I had 12 links. This year there are six links. I miss the days when folks blogged about their experiences. In a couple years, I might be the only one writing about this excellent training resource. Yes, the art of blogging is dying."
Hey, I haven't even finished processing all the photos I took yet, dude.

Monday, April 04, 2022


Just because someone is a crank doesn't mean everything they know is wrong. Here's an excerpt from a good, RTWT-worthy piece from Matt Yglesias
When I went on The Joe Rogan Experience in early December of 2020, he surprised me by veering way off-topic to do vaccine-skeptical takes.

Since this is not what my book is about and isn’t something I had professional background covering, I was not prepared to rebut his talking points effectively. That’s especially true because, at the time, the Covid-19 vaccines were loosely Trump-branded, so I wasn’t really expecting this to be a controversial issue and hadn’t looked into it. Which is just to say that Rogan was actually much better informed about the vaccine issue than I was. He (correctly) said the common, non-severe side-effects were considerably worse than I realized. And he also correctly said that the Phase III clinical trials were not long enough to gauge how enduring the protection the vaccines offered was. He, as a vaccine skeptic, had sought out a lot of vaccine skeptic talking points, and many of those talking points were factually true.

I, a normal sane individual who supports vaccination efforts, never bothered to look into anything about it other than when was I going to be able to get my shots.

But this is actually the general pattern in life. A normal person can tell you lots of factual information about his life, his work, his neighborhood, and his hobbies but very little about the FDA clinical trial process or the moon landing. But do you know who knows a ton about the moon landing? Crazy people who think it’s fake. They don’t have crank opinions because they are misinformed, they have tons and tons of moon-related factual information because they’re cranks. If you can remember the number of the Kennedy administration executive order about reducing troop levels in Vietnam, then you’re probably a crank — that EO plays a big role in Kennedy-related conspiracy theories, so it’s conspiracy theorists who know all the details.

Automotif CCLXXXV...

I saw it out of the corner of my eye and at first it didn't trip my early warning radar...and then I thought, "Wait, that's way smaller than it should be." I wound up grabbing the camera off the table and jogging to the corner. Stupid Ricoh GXR with the A16 module booted up too slow to get more than one shot before the light turned green and I missed focus.

(Earlier I'd missed a BMW 3.0 CSi.)

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Sunday, April 03, 2022

Round Tuit

Photo by Oleg Volk

Among those projects that's been sitting on a back burner way too long, I really need to get the firing pin on my MAS 49/56 lightened so it will run this FNM and Pervy Partisan commercial fodder reliably without the occasional slam-fire. They're such cool rifles, with .308-level wallop but handling like a shorty SKS and a usable receiver-mounted peep sight.

Open to suggestions. Or maybe someone has one of those now-unobtanium titanium ones lying around?

EDIT: Having posed the same question on the Book of Faces, it was answered by exactly who you'd think would be Johnny-on-the Spot with solutions for French blasters. Problem solved, problem staying solved. 


Saturday, April 02, 2022

...I mean really through the looking glass.

We are through the looking glass, people...

From a piece at The Atlantic:
The event wasn’t a Putin apologia like those found in some corners of the right. Instead, the phrase of the day seemed to be “Putin is bad, but …” The attendees, who included paleocons, libertarians, and hard-core MAGA acolytes, offered variations on that tune according to their policy preferences: Putin is bad, but we don’t want a nuclear war. Putin is bad, but why should we trust the American foreign-policy establishment? Putin is bad, but the media is in thrall to the U.S. intelligence apparatus. The broad consensus: Putin is bad, but why is that our problem?

“This is not an ism-based movement. There is a specific policy outcome motivating the type of factions we brought here today, which is that we don’t want another war,” Sharma said. “And people have their own isms that they bring to the table.” The result was a conference of the right where Tulsi Gabbard was invited but figures such as Ted Cruz were absent.

In fact, Cruz was the target of a jab onstage from a fellow Republican senator, Rand Paul, who suggested that the Texan’s advocacy for sanctions on Russian energy was simply intended to boost the bottom line of the energy industry in his home state. President Joe Biden, though, received some praise for his comparatively restrained response to the crisis. Saagar Enjeti, a conservative pundit and podcaster, went so far as to say that Biden’s “79-year-old ailing heart may be the only thing standing in between us and World War III.”
We're all warred out here at home. Our military's in need of rebuilding and reorienting. 

I don't mind sending hardware to Ukraine for them to use to bloody the invader's nose; there's plenty of ex East Bloc stuff sitting in the warehouses of newer NATO members, I'd expect. "Donate those MiGs and T-72s to Ukraine and we'll make you such a deal on fresh replacements from Lockheed and General Dynamics."

But unless Putin's dumb enough to step direct to a NATO treaty member, that's as far as I'm willing to support.