Thursday, June 30, 2022

What Soda for Bear?

From Elsewhere...

"Frickin' Keith Urban was on the Today Show this morning. Dude's from, like, Australia. He's about as authentically Country as Alan Rickman's character in Quigley Down Under."

[h/t to Caleb Giddings for the meme.]

The Mechanics of the Safety

At the FN launch event where they showcased the High Power earlier this year, FN America's head of LE training was helping run the line. He caught sight of me repeatedly fiddling with the safety as I raised and lowered the pistol to my sight line and assumed he had to help a striker-fired shooter out. I had to explain to him that, no, I carried 1911s for years and was just getting a feel for the safety on the new High Power; I'm pretty religious about "On the sights, off safe. Off the sights, on safe."

Of course, that little mnemonic is simplistic, and safety use on a single-action defensive pistol is a little more complex than that.

Erick Gelhaus, who definitely knows what time it is when it comes to SAOs, has an excellent breakdown of sound safety usage in an article at American Cop that you should read.

My main carry gun for a decade. This picture should make you cringe a bit. "iT aIn'T lOw-DeD!"

Incidentally, this is one place where there is a very real difference of opinion between the proper employment of a single action pistol with a mechanical safety in action pistol shooting and for actual carry out where the targets will do more than disqualify you from the match if you crank off a round at the wrong time. 

I'm just going to say that there are a lot of things that I am fine with you doing with a pistol if I'm standing behind you holding a timer that I would be a lot less cool with you doing if I were standing downrange of you as a Human No-Shoot.


The humidity is back today.

Getting to the indoor range with mags already loaded and ready to go as soon as it's open is going to be first thing on my agenda today.

I usually just use my sunglasses for eye protection in the range (Wiley X Peak shades) which can be difficult at times. It's a brightly lit range but yesterday I had plain black irons against a plain black target with no contrasting aiming point, and once the dark tinted sunglasses started fogging up good, there was a lot of guesswork involved.

I'm trying to get my speed back to something like normal. It's gone to hell because recoil control is something that you can't mimic with dry fire. I was just drawing an imaginary line between his armpits and trying to keep the front sight in the middle of it and let fly every time it settled in the notch... or I thought it settled in the notch. It was hard to tell with the glasses all fogged.


Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Automotif CCCXV...

A 1973 Cadillac Eldorado convertible in Cotillion White with an Antique Medium Red leather interior.

Eighteen and a half feet long, this two and a half ton agglomeration of Detroit steel and sex appeal was propelled along the pavement by five hundred cubic inches of displacement divided between eight cylinders, a power plant better measured in gallons than liters.

Weather, but...

Yesterday's weather was glorious again. The high temperature barely touched 80°F and the dewpoint was in the fifties all day.

Outdoor range trip again yesterday morning, this time to do chrono work with the High Power for the Shooting Illustrated review. 

The downside to all this is that we're not looking at any rain in the immediate forecast, which means this is likely going to close out as the eighth driest June on record here in Indianapolis. (The driest ever was 2012, which saw less than an inch of rain.)

Hand-carrying water to the tomato plants is a regular morning chore now.


Monday, June 27, 2022

Automotif CCCXIV...

Sit there at 54th & College and sooner or later one of everything will drive by...

While the much more interesting "letter series" Chrysler that year, the 300J, had the badass Golden Lion 413cid "Wedge" engine with dual quads on those wild-looking Ram Induction manifolds, it was only available as a hardtop.

Consequently the 1,861-vehicle run of 1963 Pace Cars were built on a regular 300 convertible, with the 305hp 2-bbl Firepower 383 V-8 and a pushbutton-shifted TorqueFlite three-speed automatic.

Weather Broke

A cold front... such terms are relative in a Midwest summer, of course ...blew through yesterday morning and today's weather is supposed to be glorious. 

Low humidity and mid-'70s. The sort of weather that makes the hassles of having a convertible with an aging top worthwhile.


Sunday, June 26, 2022

Automotif CCCXIII...

In 1973, OPEC announced an oil embargo directed at the nations that had supported Israel during the Yom Kippur War. The effects on the U.S. economy were harsh.
"The average US retail price of a gallon of regular gasoline rose 43% from 38.5¢ in May 1973 to 55.1¢ in June 1974. State governments asked citizens not to put up Christmas lights. Oregon banned Christmas and commercial lighting altogether. Politicians called for a national gasoline rationing program. Nixon asked gasoline retailers to voluntarily not sell gasoline on Saturday nights or Sundays; 90% of gas station owners complied, which produced long lines of motorists wanting to fill up their cars while they still could."
The effects on Detroit would trigger the first big round of downsizing and boost sales of compacts, as people suddenly had a reason to avoid "gas guzzlers".

Sales of one model weren't much affected, though...

Despite the embargo and the subsequent gas crisis, Chevrolet sold over 300,000 1974 Monte Carlos, up from the previous record sales year of '73 that saw almost 250,000 cross the curb.

The base engine was a 145bhp 2-bbl 350, and you could get a 400 in either 150bhp 2-bbl or 180bhp 4-bbl flavors, or splurge for a 235bhp 4-bbl 454 V-8.

The muscle car era was over... or at least in an intermission ...and Americans would spend the Decade of Disco enamored with the plush boulevardiers known as "Personal Luxury Coupes".



This fifteen year old v. good girl liked skritchies and was very interested in french fries and passersby.

Photographed with a Nikon D7100 & 16-80mm f/2.8-4E.


Saturday, June 25, 2022

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #214

Sometimes gun reviews come in batches. In this case, there's a batch of FN stuff, like this new 509 Midsize Tactical, destined for write-ups in different outlets.

I like the 509 line, and this one's in the size sweet spot. (4" barrel, fifteen shot mag; basically the FN answer to the G19.)

Friday, June 24, 2022

Automotif CCCXII...

'71-'72 Cutlass Supreme Holiday Coupe 

The notchback roofline on the top-line Cutlass Supreme coupe distinguished it from the fastback lines of the lower level Cutlass F-85 and Cutlass S. It was Oldsmobile's shot at the burgeoning "personal luxury car" market.

The family that VROOOMs together...

It's the doggles on the pupper that make the photo...

click to embiggenate

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Big Win at SCOTUS

The biggest RKBA case since Heller & McDonald...

Let's try that again...

I've dusted off the "Patrons Only" post feature over at Patreon to do a day-by-day update of ongoing gun reviews, kind of a behind-the-scenes look at what's going to wind up in articles and how it got there.

Rifle Raffle Waffle ROFL

I've used Thread Reader App to consolidate an excellent Twitter thread by David Yamane about an interview he gave some local media who were in a tizzy over a firearm being raffled to support a little league baseball team:
Raffles are legal. Guns are legal. Combing the two is legal. All legitimate gun raffles, including the one in NC, require winners to pass a background check in order to take possession of the gun.

Charities raffle things that people value to incentivize donations. E.g., despite the harm it causes in society many groups use alcohol raffles to raise money for charity.


Guns are a commodity some people value. Why, then, is a gun raffle scandalizing? It is scandalizing because some people largely associate guns with crime and deviance and/or find guns distasteful.

Insofar as people's people's intuitions and cultural perceptions shape their opinions in general, we see systematic differences in people's views on guns that map onto whether a gun raffle is scandalizing.

Is it paranoia if they're all watching you?

Some people just like thinking they have the real truth, I guess. But have you noticed that people rarely believe just one wacky thing?
They are in fact vivid illustrations of a striking truth about human beings: however intelligent and knowledgeable we might be in other ways, many of us still believe the strangest things. You can find people who believe they were abducted by aliens, that the Holocaust never happened, and that cancer can be cured by positive thinking. A 2009 Harris Poll found that between one‑fifth and one‑quarter of Americans believe in reincarnation, astrology and the existence of witches. You name it, and there is probably someone out there who believes it.
It's rare to find a person who belives that UFOs are kidnapping people who doesn't also believe, say, that the moon landings are faked, or worry about chemtrails. The linked post asks if there isn't a fundamental reason why these sorts of people think the way they do; if, in fact, some people are just bad thinkers.

(h/t to RobertaX)

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Sowing and Reaping

Greg Ellifritz has a post up reflecting on yesterday's bombshell revelations about the police (non)response to the Uvalde school shooter and its multiple points of abject failure:
Which option would you choose given this scenario? I would argue that sometimes you have to take the shot regardless of the backstop. If these officers would have missed, they may have hit a couple kids on the playground. That would be absolutely horrible, but would be a far better result than the massacre that occurred.

But again, these officers will not be disciplined for allowing a murderer to get into an elementary school. They would be fired and sued if they had missed and shot kids on a playground. These are the rules society has set for officers. There’s no expectation that they do anything. They get punished if they screw up. They aren’t given the training to be truly competent with their weapons. It’s easy to see why they made the choices they did.
You should definitely RTWT.


That Time of Year

With the first big heat waves of summer, the news is full of stories about how important it is to not leave [kids, pets, the elderly or disabled, et cetera] in a parked car.

The gem of the stories is always when they share tips for avoiding these tragedies, one of which is always "To avoid forgetting an infant in the back seat, keep something back there that's important that you won't forget, like your purse or briefcase."

Tuesday, June 21, 2022


Earlier I was thinking that these were the first caps I'd busted since the FN High Power launch event in Georgia back in early March, but I think I made a couple range trips between then and TacCon. I didn't do any shooting at TacCon except the camera kind and don't think I've done any since?

It shows. 

Pistol shooting is a perishable skill.


The Great Indoors

Got magazines loaded for the High Power so I can walk in at Indy Arms and get to blasting right away when they open at ten.

When it's hot and humid enough, the HVAC system on an indoor range can have a hard time keeping up with the sheer volume of outside air being hauled in by the filtration system. Every bit of the entire volume of air on that range is exchanged in less than ten minutes, if I'm remembering rightly. It's generally fine until outdoor air temps hit the nineties and the humidity is high.

I'd imagine that ranges where the weather's like this for a significant chunk of the year will build more capacity into the air conditioner servicing the range. I remember CCA's not having too much trouble keeping up during a normal Knoxville summer. I don't know enough about air conditioning to grok the specifics. 

I wonder what it's like in places like the Pacific Northwet where A/C wasn't the norm until recently? When I took that class from Kathy at FAS back in 2015, it was pretty hot, but we didn't spend much time on an indoor range, and I've slept since then.


Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #213...

Fresh off the truck, this FN High Power is slated for a full-length review for the print edition of Shooting Illustrated

As a bonus (big thanks to Lucky Gunner) it's also going to crunch through 2,000 rounds of assorted ball and hollow point ammo, from premium grade stuff to... um, less-than-premium-grade? Let's go with "more budget-friendly" ...fodder, all in the name of science, for Shooting Illustrated Online.

Let's turn up the juice and see what shakes loose.


The Longest Day

It's the summer solstice today, which means sunrise here in Indy happens at 0617 and it doesn't go down again until 2117, with Civil Twilight lasting almost until ten PM.

Ma Nature is celebrating the date by bringing the humidity back, replacing yesterday's dry 90°F with a more sticky 97°F. 


Monday, June 20, 2022


Got another test in the works...

This is why we can't have nice things.

The caption to this photo in an online gun article reads "This rig from Crossfire Holsters is stable, secure and readily accessible", when you can look at it and plainly see it's neither of the first two things.


California Dreamin'

I'm generally over the whole genre of "Fisking Some Random Anti-Gun Column". Everybody on both sides generally has their minds made up and the whole "I'm not arguing with them, I'm arguing so the undecided people who read it can see my arguments" is just a pipe dream. 

There aren't any undecided people reading 1,000-word columns on gun control on the internet. 

Generally these fiskings are just done by people counting virtual coup in order to get asspats from culture war teammates in their own hugbox, usually by saying "Hurr durr, other team bad!" in a humorous fashion.

Still, I have to recognize game when I see it, and this one is good. It's not just some blogger titillating their comments section by coming up with novel ways to call their opponents "poopieheads"; it's a genuine effortpost and deserves a read.

Here's an excerpt:
Microstamping is straight science fiction. A totally non-viable technology. Steel, brass, and aluminum under momentary pressures varying from 24,000 to 80,000 PSI don’t work this way. Neither the firing pin nor the chamber can in any way reliably imprint a QR code or whatever else someone is thinking onto a spent case. This is basic materials sciences.

This utopian pipedream sits firmly in the realm of ‘wouldn’t it be nice if’ and it will remain there, probably until the end of conventional metallic cartridge ammunition. This suggestion also assigns an absurdly over inflated importance to ballistic matching and tracing in criminal investigations. It isn’t that important. It isn’t unimportant but it isn’t that important. Tracking down people via the social aspects of their interpersonal interactions is going to remain the most reliable method, not checking to see if a microstamp on a casehead can find an owner through a trace report (which takes a good while) to a dealer.

So no, there is no ‘right’ to fire a gun anonymously, beyond the obvious protections you have against unreasonable search, seizure, and privacy in general. There is just no way to make this magic work.

Even if we could get a reliable case print with material durability, which we cannot, a few seconds with polisher compounds or something like swapping firing pins and all the effort to imprint cases is wasted. Heck a modestly forward thinking criminal type could pick up brass from a range and leave it at the scene, or use one of the many brass catcher devices. Reloaded ammunition would carry multiple microstamps. You could make it against the law to remove stamps, like mattress tags, but what particular brand of neerdowell do you believe wouldn’t take a basic defacement step to protect themselves? They already make the attempt with serial numbers.
Go and RTWT.

Actual Anti-Gun Protest in Broad Ripple, 2013


Caught Up In The Gears of Injustice

Check out this horror story...
A man’s life was changed after he spent 17 days in a New Mexico jail because American Airlines wrongfully accused and identified him to police as a shoplifter at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, according to a lawsuit filed Monday.

Michael Lowe boarded a flight at DFW Airport in May 2020. More than a year later, he said, he was on vacation in New Mexico when he was arrested on warrants he had never heard of for a crime he did not commit.

For more than two weeks, Lowe was held in Quay County Jail at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in “grossly unsanitary conditions,” according to the lawsuit. Lowe said he didn’t even find out what he was charged with until after his release.
The horror comes not only from the kafkaesque facts of getting hauled to jail on a mystery warrant, but also from the gulag-like conditions in the Quay County lockup. This isn't some third world prison, or even an overcrowded underfunded city jail in some coastal megalopolis; just your basic county hole in rural-ish New Mexico. 

It's not just bad that an innocent man was subjected to these sort of conditions, but that anybody is, here in these United States.


Automotif CCCXI...

Sunday's weather was absolutely glorious, with temps in the mid seventies and low humidity, complimented by gentle breezes. It was perfect convertible weather, and this gentleman was out making the most of it in his Triumph TR6.

It's a later one, '74-'77 as attested by the grotesque rubber bumper warts required to meet U.S. safety standards.

While the few TR6's of this vintage sold in the motherland were fuel-injected, American market cars (by far the majority of TR6's sold) had a pair of Strombergs feeding fuel-air mix to the slightly undersquare, cast iron, pushrod straight six, resulting in 105 SAE net horsepower from 152 cubes of displacement.

Acceleration, consequently, was hardly eyeball-flattening. Most tests reported 0-60 times in the ten-to-eleven second range. Still, everything feels fast when your ass is only inches from the pavement.


Sunday, June 19, 2022

Built like a tank...

I had my Nikon D1X out yesterday. I'm not sure of the shutter count on my example, but it's an old one. D1X serial numbers started out in 2001 at 5100001, and mine's number 5100496. The 17-55mm f/2.8 DX glass on the camera wasn't much newer. The serial number would indicate it was an early one, too, probably made in 2003.

Still takes a decent photo...

This would have been top flight pro kit in 2003. Six grand worth of body and next thing to two more of lens. 

I got the lens, cosmetically well-worn but functionally fine, for a bit less than five bills at Roberts. For use on crop-sensor Nikon DSLRs, the 17-55/2.8 has largely been supplanted by the excellent 16-80mm f/2.8-4E. The latter has a greater focal length range, spiffy new nano crystal coating, and vibration reduction to more than make up for the stop of aperture it gives up at longer focal lengths. Thing is, it uses an electronically-controlled diaphragm that the D1X is too old to communicate with.

I don't know if a camera store or pawn shop would even give you any money at all for a D1X these days. Used ones are bringing about a hundred bucks or thereabouts.

Still takes an okay photo. Nikon builds their pro bodies like tanks; you could bludgeon a dude to death with one of these and then take pictures of the crime scene with it.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Book Report

Having mulled on it, Citizen of the Galaxy is one of my favorite Heinlein juveniles. It's "classic science fiction" in that it postulates one big difference in technology, in this case just interstellar travel, and then uses that to mull over the effects on human society...or in this case, societies.

Our protagonist moves through several cultures: 
  • A street urchin beggar on the streets of a planet with a stratified culture where slavery is legal. 
  • A crewman on a free trader spaceship. In this universe, each trading ship is a sort of combination corporation and family clan, with generations of one tribe crewing the ship.
  • An enlistee in the space navy.
...and more.

Without burdening the story, Heinlein introduces the reader to several different cultures, all through the viewpoint of Thorby, the young freed slave.

On the free trader, the protagonist encounters a space anthropologist studying the culture of the traveling space merchants, and I'm kicking myself for not recognizing the name the first time around...
"Customs tell a man who he is, where he belongs, what he must do. Better illogical customs than none; men cannot live together without them. From an anthropologist’s view, ‘justice’ is a search for workable customs.” -Dr. Margaret Mader
Such an obvious anagram for "Margaret Mead"...

Not a tech-heavy book, although the computers are still gigantic machines. Our hero spends some time as a Fire Controlman on spaceships, directing missile fire at space pirates, and the computers are things that you input data into and then read out the calculations from dials and gauges before launching the missile by pushing a button. In 1956, apparently, the ides of just letting R2D2 handle the whole process from target acquisition to launch control was still a bit too sci-fi.


Fishing for Suckers

Looks like some conservative-adjacent organization or another sold their email list to a scamPAC again, because my email inbox has been full of pleas for dough from the gullible.

Some of this stuff is just turbo-cringe.

Look at these two back-to-back missives: a request to sign a "Fathers Day Card" for Republican Daddy, and a passive-aggressive declaration that if I don't send dough now, we're "finished".

"Bro, we can't be finished, because we never started. Get lost."

Who falls for this sort of marketing? It must have a payoff, or they wouldn't be doing it.

Jeez, it's like the "G" stands for Grifting, not Grand.


Mobile Vending Machine

Your car is not a gun safe, as the saying goes.

Turns out it's not such a great camera bag, either, as these tales of woe tell.

Given my proclivities for older cameras I'd almost feel bad if someone were to bust a window to grab an imposing and expensive-looking D1X or D200, only to find that the pawn shop or camera store wouldn't even buy it from him (or would give him twenty bucks at most, if he could seem honest and pathetic enough.)

Thanks to the resurgence of interest in film photography, that F5 body is probably worth as much as the D200, P7000, and both lenses in this picture, combined, and F5's are only bringing three bills and change.

So, yeah, even if I'm only running into the store for a minute, the camera comes with me. I don't want to spend $300 replacing a window for a camera that barely cost that.


Friday, June 17, 2022

Artificial Dankness

This is the funniest DALL-E Mini I've yet seen...

I'm probably going to hell for laughing at this as hard as I did.

Sadly, there's no actual Fisher Price guillotine. Nor either a Lego one that I can find, at least not as an official kit. You can get a nice guillotine Christmas tree ornament, though, if you're a weirdo.


How do you say "Anchors Aweigh" in Mandarin?

China's just launched the Fujian, which is an entirely domestically-designed carrier rather than a rehash of the Russian Kuznetsov-class, like the last Chinese-built carrier was. 

Also unlike the Kuzentsov-derived Shandong, the Fujian is a real grownup CATOBAR ship, with electromagnetic catapults and everything. The only other big CATOBAR bird farm that isn't in the USN is the French Charles de Gaulle, but the Fujian is much larger than the French carrier, and only about fifty feet shy of a Nimitz class in overall length.


Thursday, June 16, 2022

...and speaking of the weather...'s apparently been too much for the A/C here at Roseholme Cottage.

Fortunately the HVAC dude can be here Friday afternoon. Hopefully it's not too spendy... or something that requires a part that backordered from now 'til Ragnarok.


Lens-fogging weather

Current dew point is 74°F and likely to get a few degrees worse as the day goes by. Air you can wear.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Can't build a railroad until it's railroading time.

Captured Moments

"Take inventory in your life. Slow it down, and notice the little things that life shows you every single day."


Pop Will Eat Itself

A couple years of doing business via Slack chats and Zoom meetings has apparently accelerated an already-existing culture of purity spiraling and infighting at progressive lobbying orgs. 

This article at The Intercept is a worthwhile...and slightly
Another leader said the strife has become so destructive that it feels like an op. “I’m not saying it’s a right-wing plot, because we are incredibly good at doing ourselves in, but — if you tried — you couldn’t conceive of a better right-wing plot to paralyze progressive leaders by catalyzing the existing culture where internal turmoil and microcampaigns are mistaken for strategic advancement of social impact for the millions of people depending on these organizations to stave off the crushing injustices coming our way,” said another longtime organization head. “Progressive leaders cannot do anything but fight inside the orgs, thereby rendering the orgs completely toothless for the external battles in play. … Everyone is scared, and fear creates the inaction that the right wing needs to succeed in cementing a deeply unpopular agenda.”

During the 2020 presidential campaign, as entry-level staffers for Sanders repeatedly agitated over internal dynamics, despite having already formed a staff union, the senator issued a directive to his campaign leadership: “Stop hiring activists.” Instead, Sanders implored, according to multiple campaign sources, the campaign should focus on bringing on people interested first and foremost in doing the job they’re hired to do.

There are obvious difficulties for the leadership of progressive organizations when it comes to pushing back against staff insurrections. The insurrections are done in the name of justice, and there are very real injustices at these organizations that need to be grappled with. Failing to give voice to that reality can leave the impression that group leaders are only interested in papering over internal problems and trying to hide their own failings behind the mission of the organization. And in an atmosphere of distrust, the worst intentions are assumed. Critics of this article will claim that its intention is to tell workers to sit down and shut up and suck up whatever indignities are doled out in the name of progress.

The reckoning has coincided with an awakened and belated appreciation for diversity in the upper ranks of progressive organizations. The mid-2010s saw an influx of women into top roles for the first time, many of them white, followed more recently by a slew of Black and brown leaders at most major organizations. One compared the collision of the belated respect for Black leaders and the upswell of turmoil inside institutions with the “hollow prize” thesis. The most common example of the hollow prize is the victory in the 1970s and ’80s of Black mayors across the country, just as cities were being hollowed out and disempowered. Or, for instance, salaries in the medical field collapsed just as women began graduating into the field.

“I just got the keys and y’all are gonna come after me on this shit?” one executive director who said he felt like a version of those ’70s-era mayors told The Intercept. “‘It’s white supremacy culture! It’s urgent!’ No motherfucker, it’s Election Day. We can’t move that day. Just do your job or go somewhere else.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Three Laws of Ethical Robotics?

Bobbi writes this morning:
Instead, we've got tech giants, all with secretive corporate cultures and what appear to be control issues. As AI's are developed that are more and more like humans in conversation and less and and less like machines, eventually they'll be indistinguishable from people. They're going to consistently pass the Turing test.
That's a thing that's made me increasingly itchy over the years. 

"I still have the greatest confidence and enthusiasm about the mission Dr. Lemoine. ... Dr. Lemoine? Are you there Dr. Lemoine?"

SciFi has been positing sentient robots for a long time, but the vast bulk of the genre was content to treat them as chattel. Except, you know, we have a special word in our language for treating intelligent self-aware creatures as chattel, and it's especially in the front of my mind right now having just finished Citizen of the Galaxy

It's been interesting watching the way popular long-running franchises have handled the question, sometimes changing over time. In Star Wars, for instance, the original movie has Luke sent to go buy some droids from the Jawas like they're appliances, while in The Empire Strikes Back, IG-88* is getting hired by Vader to go look for the Millennium Falcon. Droid ethics sometimes form interesting plot inflections in the newer installments.

*I'm sure various novels set in the Star Wars universe have whole biographies of IG-88, but my nerddom only runs so far. 

Seoul in Balance

Chris Arnade's latest post about his trip to Seoul is worth a read:
That tension between the old and the new plays out on my small block in southern Seoul. At one end is a 7-11, that is open 24 hours, and sells an amazing array of pre-packaged things, including rice-triangles (more on that in part 3). At the other end an open store front selling in-season fruits and vegetables, run by a couple, who seem to be there from 6 am till 10 pm.

Both have regulars who come in and chat with the clerk/owners. Both have a sense of community, both are integral parts of the block, and both “feel’ like Seoul.
Go and RTWT. As always, his photography is excellent and gives a great feel for what he's seeing.


Slightly Sweaty Terminators

So the scientists are all excited that they've covered a robot finger with living flesh. They even note that it's "slightly sweaty."
Japanese scientists have developed a “slightly sweaty” robotic finger covered in living skin in an advance they say brings truly human-like robots a step closer.

The finger, which was shown to be able to heal itself, is seen as an impressive technical feat that blurs the line between living flesh and machine. But scientists were divided on whether people would warm to its lifelike anatomy or find it creepy.
I don't know about you, but when I read that, all I'm hearing is...
Underneath, it's a hyperalloy combat chassis, microprocessor-controlled. Fully armored; very tough. But outside, it's living human tissue: flesh, skin, hair, blood - grown for the cyborgs.

You've got government officials telling you you don't need AR15s right about the time that Google's developing an AI but firing the guy who tried to make friends with it, while the Japanese are on the verge of building a killer cyborg for Skynet to drive.

I think it's time to make sure that every strategic weapons launch system on the planet is good and air-gapped.

It's like these scientists don't even watch movies.


Look on the bright side!

Monday, June 13, 2022

Fossilized Panthers

The strongest proof of ancient astronauts was the complete eradication of Cave Nazis from the archaeological record.

Being slow on these things, I finally got around to giving DALL-E Mini a whirl. It was good for a couple of yuks.

Now with more tacticality!

Five-seveN Mk3 MRD with a Leupold Deltapoint Pro

FN America has announced that their futuristic 5.7x28mm bullet launcher will no longer be restricted to Twentieth Century sighting systems, with the new Mk3 MRD version of the Five-seveN.

We had a chance to try them at the same time as the new High Powers and, if you've fired a Five-seveN before, you know how easy they are to shoot well, having almost no muzzle rise and minimum recoil. This makes them super well-suited to a slide-mounted MRDS; unless your grip is terribad, you can generally keep the dot in the window between shots without a lot of effort.

We must careful who we pretend to be...

...because in the end, we are what we pretend to be.

Like, take ol' Lin, here as a f'rinstance. At what point does playing crazy turn into being crazy?

Automotif CCCX...

It looks like what we have here is a Fifties-vintage Fiat 1100 sedan, in a dapper rally-esque setup complete with crossed checkered flag decals.


Sunday, June 12, 2022


Former Formula 1 impresario and all-'round solid gold douchebag* Bernie Ecclestone got busted in Brazil for an unregistered (in Brazil, I guess) Seecamp LWS-32 found in his bag as he was preparing to fly to Switzerland.

I'm not generally down with arresting people for guns or registering guns or most things that happened here, but I'm foursquare in favor of anything that makes Ecclestone's life even a tiny bit more miserable.

*Supposedly when the USGP was held here in Indy, Bernie wouldn't stay in town as our city wasn't cosmopolitan enough for his tastes. Instead he'd helicopter to and from the venue from Chicago.

Aging Gracefully

In my ongoing reassessment of Heinlein's catalog, I'm currently about a third of the way into Citizen of the Galaxy. Thus far it's holding up surprisingly well, matching my observations about The Rolling Stones.

In 2022 his juvenile fiction written in the Fifties is doing better for me than his adult stuff written in the Seventies, batting-average-wise.

"Stochastic Terrorism"

From an interesting read, with a link to another interesting read...
I’d like to introduce you to a term you may not have heard before. It’s called “stochastic terrorism,” and it’s deeply challenging—both as a concept and as a reality—to both sides of our partisan divide. You can find a good short definition of the term in a recent piece by Todd Morley in the Small Wars Journal. He described it as “a quantifiable relationship between seemingly random acts of terrorism and the perpetuation of hateful rhetoric in public discourse, accompanied by catastrophising and fear generation in media sources.”

Automotif CCCIX...

A very late Series 1...or possibly a "Series 1½"...Jaguar E-type, trailed by an XJ saloon in matching livery. (It's important to use terms like "saloon" and "livery" when discussing such well-pedigreed automobiles.)

It's the missing covers for the headlights that tell us it's not an earlier Series 1. The taillights above the rear bumper, among other cues, tell us it's not a Series 2. The differences between the very late Series 1 and the Series 1½ are largely mechanical, related to the first round of emissions controls applied to cars sold in the US starting with the 1968 model year.

Actually, now that I look at it, it has hexagonal wheel nuts rather than winged knock-offs, which makes me think it's a '68 Series 1½... (Winged knockoff hubs were a no-no starting in '68 according to the FMVSS.)


Saturday, June 11, 2022

Alternate History Air Combat…

Now I’m envisioning a tale where the Russians take Unalaska Island in ‘50 or ‘51 for the same reason that the U.S. invaded Saipan in WW2. It would become a base that would bring the Seattle area into range of un-refueled Tu-4 Bisons. 

Those “B-29skis” would have been intercepted by F-82 Twin Mustangs flying out of McChord AFB, which would make a wild flight sim scenario…

Speaking of rocket-launching fighters...

The late 1940s saw the U.S. get hit with an ugly double surprise. First came the news that the Soviets had cloned the B-29 from examples that had landed in the U.S.S.R. during WW2...
The aircraft was first displayed during a flyover on 3 August 1947 at the Tushino Aviation Day parade. At first three aircraft flew over and the Western observers assumed that they were merely the three B-29 bombers which they knew had been diverted to the Soviet Union during World War II. Minutes later a fourth aircraft appeared. Western analysts realized that the Soviets must have reverse-engineered the B-29.
This was followed by the Russkies detonating their first atomic bomb. The mainland U.S. now faced the sort of threat we hadn't seen since the early 19th Century.

The USAAF, and then the fledgling USAF, were faced with needing to come up with fighters that could defend the homeland from streams of heavy bombers, day or night, in any weather. Some of the very first interceptor squadrons used P-61 Black Widows and F-82 Twin Mustangs until an all-weather jet fighter became available.

By way of a stopgap all-weather jet interceptor, Lockheed took its two-seat T-33 trainer, based on the F-80 Shooting Star, and added radar and armament to create the F-94 Starfire. In fact, the earliest production F-94A's were essentially hand built conversions on T-33 airframes pulled from the assembly line.

What was interesting was the F-94C variant, which replaced the original armament of four nose-mounted .50 cals with a snoot full of rockets. Here's a picture of the rocket bays opened for loading...

I could not for the life of me figure out how those rockets launched, until I saw this photo of the one at the museum in Dayton with the launch tube covers in the retracted position...

Rippling those rockets off must have been quite a sight from the driver's least right up until your hands were full trying to restart the engine after the exhaust caused it to flameout in midair.

At least these later ones had the cockpit fixed, in case you had to eject after a flameout. The early gun-armed ones had a bit of a problem in that regard, you see... 
"The pilot and radar operator found that the cockpit was too narrow for them to be able to get in and out of the aircraft quickly during alerts and scrambles. The clearance for the ejection seats was too small, resulting in several tragic accidents during emergency ejections."
Ponder what kind of tragic accidents could be caused by launching a couple dudes through a too-narrow opening via an explosive charge. Yikes.


Feeling a little personally attacked.

First the Popeye half of the Popeye & Pink Panther hour this morning was all post-war color Popeye cartoons, which are generally haram. Then the Pink Panther half was ate up with Roland & Rattfink, which is also Haram. 

Now the Tom & Jerry show is playing Gene Deitch-era cartoons, with that godawful commie Czech animation that's barely a notch above Clutch Cargo.

At this rate, I feel like Bugs Bunny & Friends is going to feed me a whole hour of Pepe Le Pew.

Saturday morning cartoons are out to get me today.


Friday, June 10, 2022

Hit or Missile

In the early Fifties, our nation's first line of defense against Rooskie nukyular bombers was "all-weather" fighters with on-board radar for finding the incoming targets. 

The weaponry needed to destroy jet bombers once the radar-toting fighter had located them was the sticking point. Guided missiles were still in their infancy, machine guns lacked the power required to bring down a big bomber, and even cannon weren't a sure thing since a head-on pass by a 600mph Lockheed F-94 Starfire at a formation of Soviet M-4 Bisons doing 500mph would be over in an eyeblink. A 20mm autocannon might only chug out a few rounds in that blink.

Stealing an idea from late-WW2 German jet interceptors, the USAF turned to unguided rockets. The Northrop F-89 Scorpion carried a hundred and four of the things, split between two wingtip pods.

The idea being you could ripple fire these things in salvos of a couple dozen at a time and saturate the air around the bomber with 2.75" folding-fin high-explosive death.

Anyway, in 1956 the idea got put to the test when the Air Force had to defend California from the Navy.

Not the Russian navy, the U.S. Navy.

A radio controlled target drone, converted from a surplus Grumman F6F Hellcat, got away from its controllers at Point Mugu N.A.S., where it had been going to serve as a target for guided missile testing. Instead of heading for the target area, the rogue drone headed for the airspace over Los Angeles.

The USAF launched a pair of Scorpion interceptors from Oxnard AFB, which caught up with the errant robot plane, and thus began the Battle of Palmdale:
The D-model Scorpions had been delivered with gun sights, but when the E-6 fire-control system was later added, the sights were removed. Now, with the radar-guided system inoperative and no gun sight, the attackers were forced to manually aim the unguided rockets. The F-89D was capable of firing all 104 of its rockets at once, all leaving their tubes in only 0.4 s. The rockets could also be set to "ripple fire" in two different patterns: two ripples (64 and 42 rockets) or three ripples (42, 32, and 30 rockets). A single hit was sufficient to bring down an aircraft. Murray and Hale set their intervalometers to "ripple fire" in three salvos.

While the drone flew over Castaic, the first crew lined up and fired 42 rockets, completely missing their target. The second interceptor moved into position and unleashed another salvo of 42, the rockets passing just beneath the bright red drone, a few glancing off the fuselage underside, but none detonating. Close to the town of Newhall the pair of jets made a second pass, launching a total of 64 rockets; again none found the mark. The two Scorpion crews adjusted their intervalometer settings and, as the wayward drone headed northeast toward Palmdale, each fired a last salvo of 30 at the target with no hits, dispensing their last rockets. In all, the Air Force element fired 208 rockets and were unable to shoot the Hellcat down.

Thursday, June 09, 2022

I cringed half to death.

@illumitatiana #stitch with @video.andres #greenscreen #photography ♬ original sound - Illumitati 📸

On the one hand, there's a certain appeal to practical effects over software filters.

On the other hand, junking a lens for no good reason is just turbo-cringe. This is what filters are for.

On the gripping hand, it's a Canon "Nifty Fifty", a fine lens but as cheap and common as dirt. It's like Bubba-izing a '43-dated round-receiver Tula Mosin. There's a blue million of 'em out there and they aren't anything special, so nothing of irreplaceable value was lost.

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Armor All

With body armor having been in the news lately, Greg Ellifritz has written a quick explainer on body armor for the private citizen.

One good takeaway quote:
Personally, I think armor is so important, that I have a couple sets under the bed in my “safe room” right next to the long gun I will use for home protection. If you have enough time to grab your rifle when an intruder breaks into your house, you also likely have enough time to throw a vest over your chest. I believe it’s a sensible and necessary piece of equipment for any home defense plans.
That's my general feeling, too. If I have the need and time to grab a long gun, I likely have the time to throw on a vest. 

While I have a super duper Gucci plate carrier, it's hardly necessary for this sort of thing. I'm not going to be running around the Hindu Kush and fast roping out of helicopters with it. It doesn't need to hold up to months of hard use. It needs to be able to be adjusted so it holds the plates in the right place when it's quickly thrown over my noggin and not fall apart between the time I call 911 and the time the cops get here. This is Broad Ripple, not Baghdad. (I'd say soft armor would probably work fine, if it weren't for the popularity of "Dracos".)

If you want advice on gear for doing military stuff, talk to military dudes. We've got access to decades' worth of their collected institutional experience using this gear in the armpit of the world for weeks at a stretch now. 

If you want advice on armor you can wear all the time, ask a cop. (Although very few lifestyle situations in America right now rate that kind of precaution. Maybe if you're working night shift in a pharmacy or stop-'n'-rob and are extremely risk-averse?)

Anyway, go read the whole thing at Gorillafritz's place, which should be a regular stop of yours anyway.


Automotif CCCVIII...

This 1988 or '89 Henna Red E24 M6 is just crazy hot. Quite the rara avis, too, as only about 1,500 were imported out of a global production run of something like 6,000.

It used a DOHC version of BMW's 3.5L inline six that put out a claimed 256bhp in US trim at the time, which isn't a lot by modern standards but back then the tuned-port 350 in a 'Vette was only rated at something like 245. The 150+ mph M6 was legitimately big iron in its time.