Tuesday, January 31, 2023

The Shadow Band or the Teal Deer?

The recently implemented counter shows that Twitter engagements are down, reports one writer.
I didn’t reach 42,000 people by tweeting my article. I reached less than 3,000 people. And that has been pretty consistent. Unless I write something spicy that gets a lot of retweets, the view-counter tells me I’m reaching 2,000-3,000 people.

Here’s my post from earlier this week. 2,203 views.
What's interesting here is that this dude is a stock liberal college prof who moonlights in journalism. I thought Twitter was only shadowbanning conservative people who talk about guns and some guy in Florida who thinks calling hisself "catturd" is the height of wit?

It's like when gun bloggers complain about falling engagement and their first argument is "Big Tech is suppressing my pro-RKBA blog!" No, my dude, it's just that an increasing number of people don't read blogs...or anything, actually...anymore. 

The decline in blog readership is broadly the same at photography blogs as it is at firearms blogs. The exodus away from Twitter had begun long before it turned into the latest active front in the kulturkampf, and it's because we're in a world where 280 characters exceeds some folks tl;dr limit.

What's the latest TikTok dance?

Living Legend

Last November at CanCon, Tom Marshall said he was heading south to interview Billy Waugh and I was mad jelly. Fortunately some of that interview is on the web now!

If you haven't read Hunting the Jackal, you're wrong and you should fix that. From enlisting in the Army as a teenager in 1948 and serving in the Korean War to spending his 71st birthday on a mountaintop in Afghanistan, the dude's life has basically been a real-life action movie.


Monday, January 30, 2023

Local Sportiness

Apparently a bit of excitement happened up on Broad Ripple Avenue in the middle of the night...
A Sunday morning incident in Broad Ripple prompted a police chase that ended in a crash and a suspect being shot by police later in the afternoon, IMPD said.

According to IMPD, officers responded to the 100 block of Broad Ripple Avenue, near Broad Ripple Park, around 3 a.m. for a report of shots fired. A woman told officers she was involved a dispute with the father of her child, who she said fired at least one shot, hitting her car as she drove away.

The incident started at 0300 with dude taking a shot at his ex girlfriend's car at "A" on the map.

Cops went looking for him and found him at a gas station at "B" on the map, down by the Fairgrounds. If any of y'all have been to the Indy 1500 gun show, it's the BP station right across the street.

Dude took off north on Fall Creek Parkway, which turns into Binford Boulevard there where it crosses Keystone, and wrecked out into an innocent bystander's car at the intersection of Kessler & Binford, "C" on the map.

He unassed his wrecked vehicle, and decided to blaze away. The cops dumped him with return fire, rendered first aid, and he got whisked off the the hospital where he's in critical condition at this writing.

Dude had two Glocks. Both had 'stendos. The Gen5 G45 with what looks like maybe a Klarus on it fell out of the car there at the wreck site.

The compact he blazed away at the po-po with had a cheap clear 'stendo...note it's broken, either from the fall or possible from getting shot...and a slide cover plate selector switch.


QotD: Contempt of Cop Edition...

From Bobbi's latest...
Nobody has a beating coming from the police -- not the most innocent of drivers pulled over on vague suspicion or the worst violent offender caught bloody-handed. Nobody should ever fear getting kicked by an arresting officer while his peers hold them down. The police are not a street gang and shouldn't get away with acting like one. In Memphis, they haven't.
Go and RTWT.


Sunday, January 29, 2023

I LOL'ed...

Soft v. Sharp

The squirrel is cute, but yikes that chromatic aberration!

The Nikon 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6 is a telephoto zoom lens meant for people who may have bought a D3xxx or D5xxx with the 18-55mm kit zoom and want to add a lens with more reach for shooting wildlife or sports. Build quality is decent, with a metal lens mount.

Alas, if you're trying to shoot your kid's high school football game, focus is painfully slow, especially for a SWM lens. And if you're shooting squirrels on a cloudy day, like I was the other day, the lens is noticeably soft wide open. This compounds the problem with the D2X sensor starting to show noticeable noise at ISO 400.

Also, the chromatic aberration is obvious enough to be distracting in heavily backlit shots. In that picture of the gray squirrel above, the chromatic aberration (CA) is the green & purple fringing on the dark branches in out-of-focus areas.

What it does have going for it is a lot of reach, plus it's (relatively) inexpensive and lightweight. The 300mm long end on a crop-sensor DX camera is the same field of view as 450mm on a full-frame FX body.

D2X & 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR @ 300mm, 1/180th at f/5.6, ISO400

I think it's best left for sunny days when I can stop it down some while still shooting at base ISO.

There's also probably a good example of lens-to-lens variation at work, here. I use the 18-200mm as my general-purpose walking-around lens for squirrel snapping on the D2X and D300S bodies. I've complained about its lack of sharpness on the 24MP D7100, but the 12MP sensors on the older cameras don't reveal its flaws nearly so much.

Neither the 55-300 nor the 18-200 have reputations as super sharp glass, they're priced fairly closely, and places that quantify these things tend to rate them about the same, but a "good" example of one and a "bad" example of the other can have a noticeable difference on the final product.

Nikon D2X & 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR II @ 200mm, 1/125th at f/6, ISO400


Ordering off the special menu...

The daily special at Twenty Tap yesterday was a ramen bowl that was unbelievably delicious.

Because I knew I'd never remember the ingredients, I took a picture of the menu board...

If you're coming to Indy for the NRA Annual Meeting in April, you should check them out. They've been a neighborhood fave of mine for a long time for good reason. It's good chow.


Saturday, January 28, 2023

Be Happy In Your Work

Friday, January 27, 2023

Too much kulturkampf isn't good for you.

"True Crime" is a true crime.

Whether it's suburbanite Gladys Kravitzes reporting every unmarked white work van to NextDoor (or, as I call it, "Karens.com") or people who've listened to enough true crime podcasts to think they're the second coming of Hercule Poirot, this is a fad that's having real world consequences.
"In their attempts to fact-check innuendo, official investigators have faced that most powerful of foes: the trending topic. The murders—having very particular types of victims, and especially horrifying circumstances—quickly became matters of national interest. That made them, also, matters of incentive for content creators. On YouTube, Vanity Fair’s Delia Cai pointed out, the top news clips that address the murders have more than 1 million views each. On TikTok, videos claiming a connection to the murders—#idahocase, #idahocaseupdate, #idahokiller—now have, in total, more than 400 million views. These true-crime takes on the real crime have no obligation to fairness or evidence. Content, in the eyeball economy, is tautological. When attention is its own reward, the tantalizing take is more valuable than the true one. This is the dull tragedy underlying the acute one: The murders did numbers."

I like a whodunit as much as the next kid but c'mon, it's not a lifestyle...


Thursday, January 26, 2023

"Oh, stewardess! I speak bonobo..."

Neat little piece (with a quiz!) on the sign language of the great apes. Turns out that, being great apes ourselves, we actually tend to savvy it pretty good.


Crucial Industry

Like modern military jet aircraft or warships, there aren't a lot of nations with the infrastructure to build tanks. It's important that we retain that...
This should be a teachable moment: The time is right, right now, to cement the Abrams as the single go-to tank for America’s allies and partners. While the Israelis, French, Japanese British and Germans—and the Koreans aggressively marketing the K2—have tank-making capabilities, they cannot match the potential U.S. capacity; in its heyday, the Lima plant produced 800 Abrams per year. Only the United States can fill the demand of all the free countries that need tanks. To begin with, there are lots of M1s in the world—more than 10,000 including all variations. Secondly, even though the U.S. tank industrial base is a shadow of its former self, it’s in far better shape than its European counterparts. Thanks to congressional budget plus-ups, the tank plant in Lima, Ohio has been substantially modernized with new machine tools and its skilled workforce sustained. With a supply chain linking 41 states, tank production and servicing is a boon to domestic manufacturing even as it improves global security. Although the current U.S. Army version of the Abrams is the best tank in the world, there is still room for improvement in the design (the original Abrams entered service in 1980). In particular, new materials for the hull and turret and electric systems to replace hydraulics could save as much as 20 tons of weight while retaining full armor protection and simplifying logistics and sustainment.


One of the challenges in ramping up tank production is a shortage of trained welders—a problem that also constrains shipbuilding. Many of these welding jobs are part of the unionized workforce, which makes it harder for manufacturers to grow their workforces quickly. Specifically, unionization inhibits the manufacturers from immediately doubling the salaries of the welders without affecting the wages of others in the factories. Within the defense sector we need to treat welders the same way the private sector treats star programmers: by paying them extremely well. We cannot afford to have trained welders take jobs at Walmart or as forklift supervisors because they can earn more money. If anything, we should be incentivizing more forklift supervisors to become welders. Welding is a key national security manufacturing task.

See this old M103 heavy tank?

It's kind of an extreme example, but it's basically made of three big-ass castings, two of which, welded together, form the hull. The hull is 22 feet long. That's a big casting and a lot of welding; you don't make those from a manufacturing base that's otherwise capable of making only cookware and kitchen appliances.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Wet Firecracker

I'm not saying that they seriously oversold this snowpocalypse, I'm just saying that if we're going to get "five to seven inches" by lunch, it's got its work cut out for it.


Don't Be That Guy

Tuesday, January 24, 2023


Starting today I can order off the Special Menu at International House of Carbohydrates, so...yay?

I don't even know where the nearest IHOP is, and I haven't eaten in one since...2012? Wait, that was a Denny's.

The sort of restaurants enjoyed by pretentious hipster foodie douchebags like me rarely have senior's menus, alas.


Monday, January 23, 2023

Straw men... and women.

Kevin D. Williamson's latest at The Dispatch is, alas, paywalled. It's absolutely spot on, though.
"Prosecutors at all levels—from local yokels up to the feds—are notoriously loath to prosecute ordinary straw-buyer cases. If there’s a big, juicy, organized-crime case to be made against gun traffickers, that’s another story: For example, the feds were very happy to bust up an Illinois-based gun-trafficking ring involving U.S. military personnel who were acting as full-time straw buyers for Chicago’s infamous Gangster Disciplines, an old-school crime syndicate that has been operating in Illinois since the 1960s. And they should be busting those guys.

But most straw-buyer cases don’t look like that. Most straw buyers are girlfriends or family members of convicted criminals and other prohibited persons, and most straw purchases involve one firearm. (Or so seems to be the consensus; again, real data are difficult to find.) Straw buyers who get charged with the crime are, by definition, almost always first-time offenders, and many of them are sympathetic subjects: Did we really expect that 23-year-old mother of three to tell the felon who is the father of her children and upon whom she is financially dependent to go jump in Lake Michigan when he ordered her to go buy him a pistol? We do not instinctively want to put such offenders in prison—but that is who a great many straw buyers are.

(Similarly, try putting yourself in the place of a firearms retailer, a businessman who already has a target on his back, politically speaking—in the age of “woke” moral panic, how assertive are you going to be about somebody you suspect of being a straw buyer? Short of her preemptively confessing to the crime, are you going to tell a young black woman shopping for a 9mm semiautomatic with her boyfriend that you think she is not a prospective customer but a prospective criminal? This is your family’s livelihood, and the same people who want to put you out of business for selling guns at all will be happy to try to put you out of business on grounds of racial discrimination, however vaguely attested to. I have spoken to firearms dealers who have gone forward with sales they believed to be straw purchases precisely for that reason.)
In all my years of working in the retail firearms biz, I'm only aware of the feds going after one straw buyer, and it was because guns he'd purchased here in the U.S. turned up in cartel hands after he'd traded them for dope. Come to think of it, he was the only big-time straw buyer I was ever aware of, and we just thought he was a guy with a good-paying job and a taste for oddball tacticool-looking guns like SPAS-12s and such.

I've turned down plenty of purchases that my spider sense told me were straw purchases, a lot of them really obvious ones and some that were more subtle. But I can see why some folks would be leery of doing so in this day and age, for exactly the reason Kevin highlighted.


Happy Birthday, JMB!

Your friendly annual reminder that the next time someone makes the claim that striker-fired pistols are somehow inherently more "modern" than hammer-fired ones, you can inform them that John Moses Browning's first commercially successful self-loading pistol design was the FN Model 1899. It was striker-fired. It was copied all over the world and such a runaway commercial success that "Browning" becamse the slang term for pistol in several languages.

Also, not counting the grip panels and grip screws, it only had twenty-six parts. It's such a simple design that the recoil spring also functions as the striker spring. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Gaston.

Cardinal Points

Nikon D2X & 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR II @200mm, 1/160th, f/5.6, ISO400

I've always had such a hard time getting a photo of a cardinal. I'll spot that flash of red in a tree out of the corner of my eye, but as soon as I turn towards it, it sees those two forward-facing eyes pointing at it and flutters off somewhere safer.

The one above was interested in something on the side of the Monon Trail. It fluttered off as a jogger passed, but immediately returned to its object of curiosity. I was able to sidle along with the Nikon held in front of my face and get a half-assed shot or three before it fluttered off. 

It was overcast and the 2004-vintage Nikon D2X sensor is kinda noisy at ISO 400. (The image is slightly cropped.)

I should try the 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR on the D2X.

Canon EOS 1D Mark IV & EF 70-200mm f/4L IS @ 200mm,  1/125th, f/5.0, ISO200

Both photos were shot in Aperture Priority mode, with the Nikon using Area Metering (or what Nikon calls "3D Color Matrix Metering II") mode and the Canon in Center Weighted Average.

Sunken Bookends

Stumbled across an interesting story from last April. Younger readers might not remember the Kursk disaster, or how optimistic everyone was that Russia was just going to be a normal country back in the Nineties after the fall of the Soviet Union.
"The Kursk taught Putin as much as it taught Russia, giving the young and inexperienced president a tragically clear view of what he had inherited — and of what it would take to maintain power in a crumbling empire that for 10 years had been careening between freedom and chaos.

“Everything that has long since been typical of Putin was demonstrated after the sinking of the Kursk,” investigative journalist David Satter, who was banned from Russia for his reporting on Putin’s rise to power, told Yahoo News. “The xenophobia, mendacity and casual assumption that the lives of people without power have no value.”

Sunday, January 22, 2023

When Brassicas Go Bad...

Turnip Lottery is the name of my next band.

"Slight But Definite Grain" is the title of the debut album.


It Cuts Both Ways

QotD: Disintegration Edition

"The virtual world and its system of structured rewards and treats—the likes, retweets, hearts, smiley faces, upturned thumbs, and clapping hands—become divisive because the way such rewards are earned is practically a training program for narcissism and exhibitionism."

"We...associate with people who feel as we do, and create tribes whose loyalty tests become more precise with each iteration and interaction. (Social media administrators know this. “Our algorithms exploit the human brain’s attraction to divisiveness,” an internal Facebook study admitted in 2018.) This tribalism festers into group narcissism that demands, as all narcissism does, constant reassurance—and cable news and social media are happy to provide it in exchange for attention and clicks."

"Political identities that were once constructed from life among those we know in places we live are now formed over huge distances among strangers whose bonds are formed mostly over things they loathe in common."

I'm about three quarters of the way done with Our Own Worst Enemy and it's pretty on the mark so far. Recommend.


Friday, January 20, 2023

Home Defense Tips

I LOL'ed pretty much non stop through this video. It's brilliant!

I can't believe I feel compelled to offer the disclaimer that this is parody. 

In fact, if you think this is serious home defense advice or actually do...well, pretty much anything in this video, I'd like to take this opportunity to remind you that the Second Amendment says you have the right to own a gun, but it doesn't say you have to exercise that right, and you probably shouldn't.


Friday Morning Photo Filler

We got a brief bit of sunshine and nearly fifty degree temps yesterday around noon, so I headed out to soak up some of that love from above before the cold front blew through later in the day with wind and rain.

This little chonker of a tree rat was out catching some rays while snacking, too.

Photos snapped with the EOS 1D Mark IV & EF 70-200mm f/4L IS.


Thursday, January 19, 2023

QotD: Murrican Culture Edition…

ZCQOTD: "I think I’m going to yell 'CULTURAL APPROPRIATION!' whenever I see a foreign revolver from now on.

'My nation’s traditional sidearm is not your costume!

This Post is Banned in the UK...

A pending piece of internet safety legislation in Britain has an interesting provision:
"Under a further change to the bill, video footage that shows people crossing the Channel in small boats in a “positive light” will be added to a list of illegal content that all tech platforms must proactively prevent from reaching users."
Well, as a rebellious Yank...

Six-Shooter Size Comparison

On the left, a Taurus 327, and on the right, a S&W 432PD, both in Dark Star Gear Apollo holsters. Both are .32 caliber six-shooters, although the slightly larger Taurus is all-steel and chambered in .327 Federal Magnum, while the smaller Smith is an alloy-framed Airweight .32 H&R Magnum wearing CTC LaserGrips.

The 327 shares frame and cylinder dimensions with the 856, meaning it has a 1.42" diameter cylinder, which puts it between the 1.31" J-frame and the 1.45" K-frame*. These are close enough that the HKS 32-J speedloader for the Smith can be pressed into service with the Taurus with anything short of flat-meplat 100gr semiwadcutters or full wadcutter .32 Longs.  (Although for carry I prefer speed strips.)

The difference in weight isn’t as great as you’d think, but with 95-100gr .32 H&R Mag LSWC loads, the Taurus is noticeably more controllable. I don’t know that I’d enjoy shooting an Airweight Smith J-frame in .327 Federal.

EDIT: As has been pointed out via email and on FB, the 32-K from HKS is actually the size Taurus recommends for the 327. And this is true. The 32-J is slightly small and not ideal…but I have half a dozen of the things on hand.

*Nerds will note that these are rounded to the nearest hundredth. It's too early in the morning to squint any harder than that at my analog RCBS dial caliper.


Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Automotif CCCLX...

First generation Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4 in Monza Red. Most of these things (and their contemporaries from Nissan, Toyota, and Mazda) have long since been sucked out to the west coast by the gravity well of money in the import tuner scene out there.


The detail!

Again with the Canon EOS 7D and the fantastic EF 70-200mm f/4L IS lens. Embiggenate it and bask in the amazing detail of this squirrel, who was probably ten feet over my head in a tree.

Basically a 5D with an 18 megapixel APS-C sensor in place of the 5D's full frame one, the 2009-vintage EOS 7D was Canon's workhorse crop sensor body for years, popular with airshow buffs, birders, and anyone else who wanted a bit more reach with their telephotos before being replaced with the 7D Mark II in late 2015. These days they're as cheap as $130ish at KEH if you don't mind BGN (bargain) grade. (I don't. KEH grades their stuff so conservatively that pretty much everything I've bought from them has been BGN and I've never had to return anything.)


Stay In Your Lane, Joe.

Look, I'm not saying that there's not room for improvement in police training in the vast majority of departments in this country. In fact, part of the problem when talking about "policing in this country" is that, because of our federal system, you're talking about something like eighteen thousand individual federal, state, and local agencies.

These agencies come in all manner of sizes and have all manner of budgets. At one end of the scale you have the NYPD, with 50,000 employees, of which 35,000 are sworn officers. (For comparison, the Cuban armed forces have about 49,000 active duty personnel.) On the other end of the scale is the typical small town department that usually has ten or fewer officers. In fact, those tiny agencies are statistically the most numerous ones in the US*.

You think the Two Mules, Kansas PD, which has a chief and two full time officers plus two volunteer reserves, has a lot of money to keep everybody trained on the latest and greatest policing technologies and best practices?

Marksmanship training is but one tiny part of all this, and if you know anyone who handles firearms training for a typical municipal or county agency, they can tell you what a chore it is to keep some certain percentage of their officers motivated to pass the (often downright remedial) recurring agency qualification.

Now the other day we have the President of the United States weighing in on police marksmanship in a speech:
"We have to retrain cops as to why shouldn't you always shoot with deadly force. The fact is, if you need to use your weapon, you don't have to do that," Biden said.
Look, Joe, I realize that law school was a long time ago; I was still in diapers when you were admitted to the bar. But you should probably remember that firing a gun at somebody is inherently deadly force. You can't shoot somebody just a little bit.

You might remember a couple years back when some cops in the Philippines broke up an illegal cockfight, one officer got kicked in the leg by one of the combatants and bled out on the spot. If you can get killed by getting kicked in the leg by a chicken, what makes you think it's okay to shoot someone there?

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Ahead of schedule...

Big headline at the Washington Post today:
"China faces a shrinking workforce that will struggle to support a rapidly aging population. Its centuries-old position as the most populous nation in the world is likely to be assumed by India this year, according to projections by the United Nations.

Although long predicted, that reversal has arrived far earlier than expected. Leading Chinese scholars and the United Nations estimated as recently as 2019 that the downward trend would not begin until early in the 2030s.
This has the prognosticators out in force, of course.

A lot of people are pointing out that Japan had already entered a period of shrinking, aging population and a stagnating economy. However Japan was already a thoroughly modernized country, from Tokyo to the hinterlands, whereas China (where 29 percent of the population is over 65) is in danger of getting old before it really gets rich.


Not a Neutral Observer...

QotD: Clickbait Edition...

"Their hearts were in the right place, but their desire for sensationalism made me uncomfortable. They wanted juicy content, not a careful examination of the facts.

I didn’t want to work with them, and I didn’t want to follow them, and that upset them. And while I hate upsetting people, I also know that social media algorithms reward hysteria to an unhealthy extent.
My blog has always functioned as a sort of online diary, mostly about stuff I saw on the internet that I thought was interesting or cool or on which I wanted to comment (or mock). You know, a log of stuff I saw on the web. Sort of a "web log", if you will.

In the early years I sat there and counted hits and stuff, but it was never a driving force behind why I'm writing here. It's been eight years since I posted about the traffic numbers on the blog and I couldn't tell you what they are on a typical day anymore.

There are lots of tricks you can do to boost traffic, but I've never employed them precisely because this is a personal hobby blog. 

Some of these gimmicks are fairly innocuous, like including SEO-friendly terms and topics or writing catchy post titles or reaching out to other sites for link shares.

Others are really toxic, like starting beef (whether real or kayfabe) with a busier site, or writing specifically to get people riled up and stir their negative emotions. The stats package can't tell the difference between hate clicks & rage clicks or love clicks and like clicks, after all. And if it's clicks and attention and internet fame you're really after, who cares how you get it, amirite?


I understand why they did it, but...

...I'm still saddened by its implications.

As predicted, the 856 Executive Grade was just the harbinger of a fuller lineup to come, and Taurus has released the second model in its Executive Grade portfolio. Did they hire some pistolsmiths to tune up an upmarket PT1911? Did the slick Tracker 627 get a corner office and a key to the executive washroom?

I mean, from a pure economic standpoint, a Taurus Judge Executive Grade makes all kinds of sense. Nobody ever went broke underestimating the cluefulness of the American gun-buying public and Taurus sells every Judge they make. I'm sure the Executive Grade version will be no exception to that sales track record. 

But...well... *heavy sigh*


Ghost Brigades

 ZCQOTD: “What are you talking about? Russia’s deployed 100% of their operational Su-57’s and Armatas to Ukraine and not a single one has been destroyed.
It’s funny because it’s true.


Monday, January 16, 2023

Mangy varmint...literally.

Most of the squirrels around here are plump and sleek. Lots of oaks in the neighborhood, plus uncounted bird feeders to raid. 

Some look a little worse for wear, though, like this patchy-lookin' fella.

It's not like he's lacking for food. These photos were snapped under an evergreen tree in front of a nearby apartment complex that's liberally festooned with bird feeders, and even a couple dishes on the ground that are usually piled with sunflower seeds and the like. There's a nearby park bench suggesting that some of the residents enjoy watching the critters.

These were shot with the EF 70-200mm f/4L IS on the Canon EOS 7D in aperture priority mode, at the full 200mm focal length (320mm equivalent on the Canon APS-C sensor), wide open at ISO 400 to try and keep shutter speeds pretty fast. He's in fairly deep shade under this tree with just some dapples of sun getting through, so even though the Image Stabilization on the lens will correct for a surprising amount of camera shake, squirrels are twitchy enough to get blurry at 1/250th and below.


Sunday, January 15, 2023

Getting better…

We’re not that many days away from the sun coming up before 8AM and setting after 6PM.

The SAD gets a lot more manageable from there, although even sunny days feel a little watered down until late March.


Clank Clank Goes the Tank

There's been a lot of hand-wringing about sending weapons to Ukraine, both from the US and our European allies. Early in the war, Germany in particular was mocked for sending naught but some ballistic helmets, apparently afraid that if they sent anything more belligerent, such as excess Bundeswehr pocket knives, a Russian soldier might get shivved with one and the Russkies would make Berlin glow in the dark in retaliation.

After enough T-80s and T-90s got blowed up by Javelins, Western governments eased up and began sending artillery systems and heavier antiaircraft hardware, as well as taking the opportunity to clean out old storage closets of leftover antique armored personnel carriers.

Lately we've been tap dancing up to even heavier gear. The US has announced we'll be sending some M2 Bradley IFVs, and France chipped in some AMX-10 RC heavy armored cars. While referred to as a char, or tank, in French service and apparently some obscure EU regulation classifies anything above a certain weight and with a big enough gun as a tank...and the AMX-10 clears those hurdles...war nerds will insist that unless it comes from the tank region of France it's just a sparkling armored fighting vehicle.

It looks like the inhibition on sending tanks is finally cracking, though. While Germany is still dithering over letting Poland send some of its Leopard 2's, Britain has announced it's sending 14 Challenger 2 main battle tanks.

I found that particular number interesting. Late Cold War and post-Cold War Russian armored units use three-tank platoons and three platoons plus a commander's tank make a ten tank company.

The British Army, from whose stores the Challengers will be pulled, uses some archaic TO&E, possibly left over from the Wars of the Roses or Cromwell's New Model Army, wherein four tanks equal a Bonnet*, and four Bonnets plus two more tanks in a headquarters Bonnet equal an eighteen-tank Spanner†.

Fourteen tanks, however, is enough for three four-tank platoons plus two tanks for an HQ platoon, equalling a fourteen tank US-style armored company. Apparently the Ukies are using a US/(most of)NATO TO&E for their armored units. So the Ukrainians will have at least one company of Western MBTs.

While this is an almost symbolic amount, hopefully Britain's gesture will get Germany off its ass with those Leos. (Ironically, if the West does start sending those Leopard 2s and/or Abrams, the Challenger company is going to be a logistical problem, because the L30A1 main gun on the British tanks is rifled and uses separate bagged propellant charges & projectiles; it's not compatible with the 120mm smoothbores used by the Leo2 and Abrams.)

*Bonnet = Troop
†Spanner = Squadron

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Destroyer of Pizzas

We've got a handful of really excellent pizza joints in the neighborhood: Bazbeaux, Diavola, Napolese. Byrne's Grilled Pizza over at 56th & Illinois does a pretty good thin crust. There are a few decent chains, too, but we rarely make use of those...well, I'll occasionally take the Red Line up to Broad Ripple Village and grab the lunch special at Lou Malnati's.

I'd always wondered why really excellent pies, like the ones from Bazbeaux or Diavola, were always so much better at the restaurant than delivered.

The culprit was not what I would have expected:
"Pizza delivery, it turns out, is based on a fundamental lie. The most iconic delivery food of all time is bad at surviving delivery, and the pizza box is to blame. “I don’t like putting any pizza in a box,” Andrew Bellucci, a legendary New York City pizza maker of Andrew Bellucci’s Pizzeria, told me. “That’s just it, really. The pizza degrades as soon as it goes inside,” turning into a swampy mess.

A pizza box has one job—keeping a pie warm and crispy during its trip from the shop to your house—and it can’t really do it. The fancier the pizza, the worse the results: A slab of overbaked Domino’s will probably be at least semi-close to whatever its version of perfect is by the time it reaches your door, but a pizza with fresh mozzarella cooked at upwards of 900 degrees? Forget it. Sliding a $40 pie into a pizza box is the packaging equivalent of parking a Lamborghini in a wooden shed before a hurricane.
Well that explains it. The crust is always not quite as crisp, the cheese is always a little congealed, the toppings a bit soggier, than compared to getting it served to the table fresh from the oven. All because it gets to spend 15-20 minutes in its own little steam room.

The lunch special at Byrne's: A big ol' slice, small salad or breadstick, and a soda . It's a treat coming home from the range. (Don't forget to de-lead first!)


QotD: Making Stuff Up Edition...

The latest from Kevin D. Williamson is a great read.
"Young couples sometimes wander into my local Beretta boutique, drawn in by the romantic, old-fashioned country clothes and accoutrements for sale but then storm out when they realize that there are firearms being sold at a shop with the name “Beretta” on the sign. The Beretta shop is about equidistant from the Starbucks, where they expect you to order in crypto-Italian, and the Hermès boutique, where they pretend that they’re still in the equestrian equipment business. Yes, I know, Hermès will still sell you a saddle—but George Santos didn’t come out of nowhere. We are all standing on a vast beach of bulls–t and surprised to see little Georgie making bulls–t castles."
You should go RTWT...

Friday, January 13, 2023

Brain Worms

I've gone on before about how much I like my EOS-1N. It's the second-to-last pro film camera from Canon and has the same control layout as my digital EOS-1 cameras and uses the same lenses. Used ones are cheap (starting out just under three hundo at BezosMart)...especially considering they went for over sixteen hundred bucks new in '94, so $3200 in today's dollars...because film shooters would rather have metal, mechanical cameras with lots of knobs and dials rather than a sophisticated photojournalist's pro camera with buttons and auto-everything.


I was reading a review on the camera recently and someone in comments at the blogger's site wrote this:
"These days, using one of these in public makes you look like a member of the MSM. I suppose it would be ok if you live in a more bobo or liberal community, but if you live in a more conservative small town, you may get challenged."
"MSM"? "Bobo"? For real?

Dude, if the culture war has so eaten your brain that you're running around the internet telling people not to use a certain camera because it might make them look like a member of the eeeeevil mainstream media, you need to get off social media, delete your Facebook account, and go outside and touch some frickin' grass, man. Maybe talk to some real people about normie, real people topics, like sports or the weather. The brain worms have gotten to you.

Unqualified Opinions

So the neckbearded influencer dude is claiming that Taurus groveled apologetically and were like "Oh, sorry! Totally our fault, man!" (Which, I mean, they may have done, if only to get him to stop pestering them. It's kind of the job of the folks who work Customer Service to calm people down.) There are even stans out white knighting for him in the comments on Instagram and elsewhere using this as proof that Beardy McBeardson Did Nothing Wrong.

I guess the Customer Service people were too polite to point out that he shouldn't have just tossed the instruction manual aside during his little unboxing video and started blasting, because if he'd read it as far as Page 22, he could have avoided beclowning himself and briefly becoming the gunternet's Main Character.

Double action revolvers are firearms that were popular duty weapons when garages had timing lights and drug stores had tube testers. If you're going to use one heavily, you've got to know which screwdriver gets used for what and when to brush off the front of the cylinder and under the star and what a Dejammer is used for. You can't just glop more lube on every thousand rounds or so and change recoil springs after every five cases of ammo like it's a Glock.


Thursday, January 12, 2023

Hell Train

The name of my next band will be "Trainload of Karens".
"For those of you that are calling the police, we are not holding you hostage," a conductor can be heard over the loudspeaker. "We are giving you all the information in which we have. We are sorry about the inconvenience."

The conductor can also be heard telling people not to open their windows to smoke on the train.
This is the same problem with air travel these days: You're stuck in a metal tube with hundreds of people, each and every one of whom is convinced that they are the most important person in the vehicle and the rules don't apply to them. Nobody has any chill or patience or the ability to just relax and let stuff happen when it's beyond their control. 

Trust me, lady, I'm sure the crew is as eager to see you debark as you are to unass their train, and they are doing everything they can to hasten that blessed moment. 

I can't imagine having to fly yesterday... "We're all stuck here for the moment and yelling at the flight attendant isn't going to fix the FAA's computer glitch, honey, so how about not contributing to the general level of annoyance with your screeching?"

If I travel by train I am definitely springing for a roomette, so that if there's a delay I can just draw the curtains and read until we get moving again.


Wednesday, January 11, 2023


In today's episode of "People I'm embarrassed to have ever taken seriously"...

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

And so it goes...

Apparently Tim Vanderweert, the blogger behind Leicaphilia, which I have linked frequently, passed away yesterday.

As followers of his blog know, it was only a matter of time...in fact, we all thought we'd lost him once already...but he stared down the Grim Reaper with grace and aplomb for quite a while.




I may have mentioned this already, but I am just got by this EF 70-200mm f/4L IS. It focuses fast and it's crazy sharp.

I got my copy from Roberts Camera for a bit over four hundo. It was graded "Good", didn't have the hood or the padded case, and only has some light wear marks on the lens barrel here and there. Used ones at Amazon seem to start just under five bills. New ones seem to sticker for right around a grand, but considering what the f/2.8L alternative costs, that's a deal. This is a lot of glass for the dough; one of the best bangs for the buck in the L-line of pro lenses.


Automotif CCCLIX...

What we have here is some variety of '51-'52 Plymouth two-door wagon. The external differences between the entry-level Concord, mid-tier Cambridge, and top-line Cranbrook were mostly discernible by differences in trim, most of which has been removed from this rat rod-esque ride.

The Ignition Arts website, by the way, is an interesting place to while away some time. You may have seen some of their work; it's all over the place.


Monday, January 09, 2023

Secrets of the Internet

You gotta be smarter than the gun.

So I wrote yesterday's post only having read commentary on the YouTube video in question, but to be fair I went and watched it for myself.

It is full of cues that the shooter in question had nearly zero familiarity with running a wheelgun competently. There's him advising one of his buddies to stage the trigger. (HINT: Don't do that.) He literally spends two or three minutes of the video telling the guy to pull the trigger wrong.

At one point in the video, he starts wiggling the cylinder in the frame and complaining that the lockup isn't as tight as he would expect. (The cylinder in the 856 is only fully locked up when the trigger is to the rear and the hammer has fallen, like most DA revolvers. This is like wiggling the shifter of a manual transmission car while it's in neutral and complaining that the selector lever feels wobbly.)

He's constantly getting cases fouled on the walnut stocks, largely because he doesn't elevate the muzzle to the vertical and operate the ejector rod smartly. The factory stocks on this revolver (on a lot of revolvers, actually) will penalize anything short of proper technique.

There are lots of ways to do this, but that elevated muzzle and brisk operation of the ejector rod are important.

At one point he flicks the cylinder closed like he's an actor in a prewar Hollywood hard boiled detective flick, which is a big red flag. I thought that knowing that the Sam Spade Snap wasn't good for the gun was a thing that had filtered out to the general consciousness of gun culture, but apparently not.

Lastly, homie's grip is a soup sandwich, not riding his hand up to the prawl on the backstrap.

A lot of people are blaming this low grip for his complaints about the wood stocks on the 856 Executive Grade hurting his thumb, but they're wrong. Yeah, his grip is a mess, but those walnut stocks are poorly shaped and beat up the base knuckle of my thumb, too. I mentioned it in my review for RECOIL: Concealment. They should bump the price ten bucks and toss a set of their rubber or G10 grips in the case with the gun. Save the walnut ones for barbecues.


Sunday, January 08, 2023

Under the Influencer

So, because of the way the publishing industry works, that column of mine that's up over at Shooting Illustrated was written months ago. Checking my email folders, it was sent in for editing in the first week of last October.

In that column, about using revolvers for CCW today, I wrote:
"After a good range session with a revolver, cleaning it and checking it over to make sure nothing’s loosened in the screw department is much more critical than with a modern semi-auto."
Note that bit about screws. That's important. 

Anybody who's done a lot of revolver shooting has seen them loosen screws. The very worst I've ever seen was a Charter Arms Bulldog Pug in .44 Special I owned back in the early Nineties. I don't think I ever made it through a single range session without winding up on my hands and knees, looking for the screw that retained the cylinder release.

Another one that's needed more than the usual amount of attention from me has been my three inch Model 629-1. Nowhere near as bad as the Bulldog, the N-frame still requires the cylinder latch screw to be re-tightened every hundred rounds or so. 

It's also one of a couple Smith revolvers I've had that were especially prone to loosening the forward-most screw on the sideplate.

This screw is important because it not only helps secure the sideplate to the frame, but also retains the yoke in the revolver. It does this because it protrudes inside the frame and the tip rides inside a slot machined in the yoke stud, as seen in this illustration from Kuhnhausen's shop manual for the S&W revolver.

Because of this function, it needs to come out of the gun more often than the other sideplate screws.

See, there are certain maintenance or minor repair chores that do not require the sideplate to be removed (in fact, there's really no reason for the end user to need to remove the sideplate) but which are made easier by removing the cylinder & yoke assembly from the gun, which is why I'm not a fan of thread locker on this screw. Just keep an eye on it and ensure it's snug; it probably won't ever require much tightening, but it's worth being aware of.

Incidentally, the revolver will fire and function just fine even if this screw falls out.


All this is a roundabout way to mention that some YouTube influencer...complete with a huge beard and hundreds of thousands of followers and discount codes and everything...had the screw back out on a Taurus he was "testing" and homie absolutely lost his mind about it. He's got people in his comments calling it a "catastrophic failure"* and stuff. Wild.

I'm with Darryl Bolke on this subject: If you don't know what gunsmithing screwdrivers even look like, you might want to slow your roll on being an authority on matters revolveresque.

*When it comes to firearms, "catastrophic failure" has a specific technical meaning, and it doesn't mean "a screw fell out". It means "my blaster went all 'splodey".