Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Dude can write, alright.

Apparently they've flipped a switch, making Kevin D. Williamson's latest column readable by non-subscribers, and it is good stuff.

This excerpt isn't even the main thrust of the column, but it was chucklesome.
Perhaps you have seen this interview, in which Tucker Carlson makes the case for banning automated trucks in order to save truck drivers’ jobs. Carlson has a point, of course, but he misses the real enemy: Sure, we could save some jobs by preventing technological progress in transportation, and we could create a lot more jobs in transportation by taking the proactive step of banning trucks and making everybody use donkey carts, but the real problem—the real job-killer!— is, obviously, the wheel. Make people transport goods with bindles like medieval serfs and we’ll have more transportation-sector jobs than we know what to do with. Of course, we’ll have a medieval-serf standard of living, too.

(Some of you are hearing these words in your heads: “Why not use spoons?”)

This is nonsense, and I know Carlson doesn’t actually believe this. If he did, he would quit his job. As in transportation, technology has radically increased the financial returns to a successful career in asinine demagoguery, but it also has put a lot of asinine demagogues out of business. There would be a lot more jobs for asinine demagogues if they had to travel around the country—on horses, of course, if not on foot—giving speeches on soapboxes and stumps the way they did in the early 19th century.
You should RTWT...



I seem to be posting with greater frequency. This is the eightieth post this month, and I haven't posted eighty times in a month since the summer of 2016.

I should keep it up.


ZCQOTD: Historical Fetishism Edition...

You'll notice that the marble statues in their "PATRIOT NEWSMAN OF THE WEST" profile pics are all in the plain white stone of now and not painted up like circus clowns the way they were in the CLASSICAL WEST to which they wish to RETVRN.


So S&W is basically doing the Ruger thing now?

Making product-improved versions of Kel-Tec designs has been a healthy business model for Ruger, so why shouldn't someone else hop on that train, I guess?

If you're already an M&P shooter, you get mag compatibility with your pistol, and since it's a side-folder, you don't have to worry about optics ruining its stowability.

MSRP is supposed to be $659, so that would put street prices probably somewhere in the mid-high fives? If build quality is good, it might be worth a look if I were still rockin' an M&P 9 pistol.

Monday, February 27, 2023


If anyone's been curious about the latest news from the ongoing popcorn fest at Twitter HQ...

Here's the shot, from The Platformer last Thursday:
On Wednesday, Twitter employees had the tech equivalent of a snow day: the company’s Slack instance was down for “routine maintenance,” they were told, and the company was implementing a deployment freeze as a result.

That same day, Jira – a tool Twitter uses to track everything from progress on feature updates to regulatory compliance – also stopped working. With no way to chat and no code to ship, most engineers took the day off.

Jira access was restored on Thursday. But Platformer can now confirm that Slack wasn’t down for “routine maintenance.” “There is no such thing as routine maintenance. That’s bullshit,” a current Slack employee told us.
...and here's the chaser, from Sunday's NYT (the link bypasses the paywall):
Twitter laid off at least 200 of its employees on Saturday night, three people familiar with the matter said, or about 10 percent of the roughly 2,000 who were still working for the company. Elon Musk, who acquired the social media platform in October, has steadily pared back its work force from about 7,500 employees as he has sought to reduce costs.

The layoffs came after a week when the company made it difficult for Twitter employees to communicate with each other. The company’s internal messaging service, Slack, was taken offline, preventing employees from chatting with each other or looking up company data, five current and former employees told The New York Times. On Saturday night, some employees discovered that they were logged out of their corporate email accounts and laptops, three of the people said — the first hint that layoffs had begun.

The most wholesome thing this week (so far)

Early Spring

I'm not saying it's been an unusually warm winter here in Hoosieropolis, but the trees seem to have lost all sense of what time of year it is.

Looking at the ten day forecast, we're only slated for one hard freeze in the near future, late this week.


So Bad It's Good

VHS Revival has a great review & hilarious behind-the-scenes dissection of one of my favorite schlockily terribad '80s Golan-Globus action flicks, Bloodsport, which was Jean-Claude Van Damme's movie debut.
Bloodsport‘s plot is so simple it makes the most primitive 16-bit game seem complex by comparison, but that’s the beauty of it. Van Damme’s training ― though again said to be of real-life origin ― has fighting game bonus round written all over it. Dux is subjected to a series of trials designed to sharpen his instincts and test his mettle, like catching fish with his bare hands, fighting blindfolded, DRINKING TEA blindfolded, and, in what seems like something of a (ahem!) stretch, is even tied to a makeshift torture rack, the very same that were designed to dislocate joints and tear out limbs. Van Damme, who is subjected to such nonsense for real, certainly earned his meagre $25,000 fee.
The review is worth reading in its entirety.

So yeah, Van Damme's first movie role, which he landed by impressing a movie producer with his roundhouse kicking talent while waiting tables in a posh restaurant, paid him twenty-five grand. That's something like sixty long in 2023 dollars, which seems like a bargain to me, but I've never hired anybody to star in a kung fu movie so I can't be sure.

The movie is based on the BS war stories and drunken fabulations of noted Bullshido master Frank Dux, whose claims include winning a Medal of Honor while participating in super secret missions as a USMC reservist in the early Eighties, in between occasionally competing in apocryphal underground death matches like the one in the movie, or the ones in which Pam from Archer fought to pay for college.

I gotta say, you kids who weren't around in the days before the internet really missed out on the golden age of bullshit. Teenage insecurity tends to lead to wild tales of girlfriends in Canada or your friend's brother's uncle's 200mph Trans Am, but nowadays everybody's got Google in their pockets and can fact check your ass, and so people tend to get mocked right out of the habit of telling easily disprovable whoppers by the time they graduate high school. 

Not back then, though! The world was full of Frank Duxes! Any Army-Navy store of any size had a handful of regulars who spun tall tales at the cyclic rate with a glorious disregard for plausibility. While only a few hundred SEALs served in Vietnam, every neighborhood gun store had at least three or four of them.

I guess that's part of the nostalgia of Bloodsport for me. Anyway, if you haven't watched it...you can stream it with Amazon Prime...it's a hoot.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Automotif CCCXLVI...

Tasty 2023 Camaro ZL1 in Radiant Red Tintcoat, with 650bhp of supercharged 6.2L V8 under that carbon fiber hood bulge. These things look like they could be cited for Intent to Speed while still parked.

Falling Off The Edge

From a review of the next book on my digital reading pile, Off the Edge: Flat Earthers, Conspiracy Culture, and Why People Will Believe Anything...
"Ultimately, there’s a need to get on the prevention side of conspiracism. That probably means keeping the pressure on social media companies to sacrifice some profit by reducing the addictiveness of their online products. However, it’s also true that the mental habits of conspiracy are probably as old as the human species, and may be rooted in certain evolutionary advantages (e.g., pattern-seeking, symbolic language, cooperative skills) that have betrayed us. The erosion of traditional authority, namely religion, and the transition away from small, intimate communities in favor of large, impersonal urban settings has been rattling us emotionally and psychologically since before Charles Darwin posited evolution over special creation.

It’s not that we haven’t been here before. It’s that we arrived and never left. We are caught in a recurring cycle of acute identity crisis (Are we a divine creation or a cosmic accident?) with our sense of our own dignity locked in a war against scientific and technological progress.


Saturday, February 25, 2023

Pop quiz, hot shots...

Do you remember what Julia's job was in Orwell's novel, 1984?

Overheard in the Kitchen...

Me: "I'm going to go downstairs and put the dryer on 'Wrinkle Release' so I can fold my laundry while you're in the tub."

RX: "Folding wrinklies..."

Me: "What's that? Senior citizens jiu jitsu?"

Book Report

P.E. Fitch just reviewed Glock: The Rise of America's Gun for GAT Daily. I enjoyed reading his take on it.
The first chapter opens up with the infamous 1986 Miami FBI gunfight. Barrett sheds details of the rise of the “wonder nines” and the demise of the service revolver in American policing. Coupled with the young company’s competitive pricing and proactive sales tactics, the timing for the Glock’s entry into the handgun market could not have been better either.
"Competitive pricing and proactive sales tactics" is such...diplomatic phrasing.

It was interesting to see his take on it and caused me to go back and reread my old review.
The book is a combination of investigative business journalism, and Margaret Mead-esque anthropology, as Barrett turns his outsider's eyes on familiar names, spending time with Massad Ayoob and interviewing Dean Speir. As with any investigative journalism, the book rakes muck, and Glock is a company with plenty of muck to rake: Lawsuits, accusations of shady business practices, executives for which "colorful" would be a charitable description... even a strip club scandal.

All in all, though, I have to hand it to Mr. Barrett. He claimed he was going to write an even-handed portrayal, and he did. (And I'm not just saying that because I have a tiny, off-screen part: I laughed out loud when he mentioned that Dean Speir was "banished" from GlockTalk.) If you want the warts-and-all story of how Glock went from nowhere to being the 800lb gorilla of the handgun world, you should read this book.
I'd forgotten that the book's author popped up in the comments section of that post back in 2012.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Unsolicited Product Endorsement

I've gone on before about how much I dig Peak Design's stuff, and they've yet again sold me on a little gadget. This time it's their Packable Tote.

It collapses into this little pouch about six inches long, secured with a snap. When you open it, you get a pretty fair-sized tote bag and the integral stuff sack is now an interior pocket that can be snapped closed.

The zipper closure appears to be pretty quality hardware. The bag itself is sewn from a single piece of water-resistant ripstop nylon and the carrying strap has a microfiber pad that is textured to keep it from sliding off your shoulder if you carry it slung.


Automotif CCCXLV...

I was going over the SD card in my Nikon Coolpix A and found this shot from last May.

It's a 1967 Imperial Crown hardtop sedan in Haze Green, from back in the day when Imperial was a brand unto itself at Mopar, competing head to head with Lincoln and Cadillac for the premium domestic car market.

The 1967 model year was one that marked an event horizon for the Imperial marque. Up to that point, it had been a body-on-frame design using its own platform, but the '67 models were unibody designs, sharing the same "C-body" platform as the full-sized Chryslers. You could get any motor you wanted as long as the motor you wanted was a 440 cubic inch Mopar RB-block with a 4-barrel carburetor.


Today in "Not Helping"

I've long practiced the habit of keeping "sterile" bags that I use as airline carryons. These bags never get used for gun stuff and, on the occasionally unavoidable trip to the range with one of the camera bags, they get thoroughly emptied and manually searched for even stray spent shell casings before being used for carryon duty again.

This is intended to prevent accidental good-faith "whoopsies" like turning up at the TSA checkpoint with that pocket knife, loaded magazine, or even...God forbid...that little pocket pistol I hadn't seen in a while reappearing by surprise in a little-used side pouch.

I recommend this practice to other people, too, but that presumes that they're actually making a good faith effort to not accidentally bring a gun on the plane.

On the other hand you've got dudes trying to sneak guns in all kinds of improvised hiding places in order to avoid having to check a bag...or smuggle a pistol to a foreign destination.

While we're on the topic of people not helping the RKBA cause, let's consider this gun totin' school administrator from Texas:
Superintendent Robby Stuteville confirms the 3rd grader found the gun at Rising Start Elementary School back in January and notified a teacher immediately without moving or touching the weapon.

Stuteville walked KTAB and KRBC through the incident, explaining that both he and the school principal open carry on campus.

When he was using the restroom, Stuteville says he took the gun off and placed it in a stall, where it was then left unattended for around 15 minutes until it was found by the student.

“There was never a danger other than the obvious,” Stuteville claimed.
"Other than the obvious" is a great moment in Stating the Blindingly Obvious, there, Robby.

Maybe you should take a little break from going armed until you figure out how to safely go potty while carrying, Superintendent.


Get Smart(er)

Greg's got his Weekend Knowledge Dump up at Active Response Training.

It's always worth checking out.


An Author's Favorite Words...

Marko got to type "The End" on his latest manuscript and get it winging off to the publisher.
I just turned in the completed draft for SCORPIO, the first novel in a new Frontlines spin-off series. I don’t have an exact release date yet, but it will most likely be toward the end of this year.
Yay! More content from the Frontlines universe should be here by the end of the year!


Thursday, February 23, 2023

"bUt mUh dEtErReNt!"

So, a 41-year-old customer at an Atlanta area Dunkin' Donuts was either open-carrying or half-assed concealing a pistol. Teenager there in the restaurant noticed it protruding from the back of his waistband, snatched the weapon, and took off running.

The gun's owner chased him into the parking lot where they struggled, and the thief shot the dude dead with his own gun.

I guess the kid forgot he was supposed to be deterred by the sight of a pistol sticking out the waistband of a middle-aged dude who wasn't paying attention.

Yet another reminder that it's up to the other guy whether he's deterred or not.


Home Invaders

Earlier this month a dude on the near northwest side of Indy shot and killed a guy trying to force his way into his house at four in the morning. The area around 26th Street and Harding is a fairly sporty neighborhood, but still...

There was another home intruder fatally shot just a couple days ago, at an apartment complex up at 75th & Shadeland. This time a dude kicked his way into his ex-girlfriend's apartment and got hisself capped.

Here would be a good time to insert a couple of public service announcements:
  1. For the price of a swoopy AR-15 and plate carrier for dealing with hypothetical home invaders, you could probably get a good steel exterior door and high quality deadbolt. Maybe if you feel like you live someplace that warrants it, look into an outward-opening security door, or some sort of extra reinforcement. All the home defense gizmos in the world are worthless if your front door will yield to a determined boot.

  2. Like the apartment shooting reminds us, "stranger danger" is way overplayed. The vast majority of criminal violence happens between people who already know each other. Good relationship hygiene is important; statistically speaking, you already know the person you are most likely to have to pepper spray.

Scene of the Crime

You're probably going to hear about the weird multiple shooting in suburban Orlando yesterday.

A woman was found shot to death in a car late in the morning, before lunch. Po-po show up and do their crime scene thing, and later in the day a news crew from a local cable news channel is there doing their standup bit...you know, reporter talking to the camera saying something like "Police say the suspect is still at large," or whatever, when the suspect stops being at large and starts being right there.

For whatever reason, dude returned to the scene of the earlier shooting, shot at the news crew, killing the reporter and critically injuring the photographer, and then ducked into a nearby house and shot a mother and child, killing the little girl.

Cops arrested the suspect, who looks like a real pillar of the community.

A reporter getting shot doing a routine standup after the crime scene tape has been rolled up and the scene long cleared is going to hit really close to the metaphorical flagpole in newsrooms across the country, so this is going to get understandably outsized coverage.

Plus it's just a really weird crime, period.


Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Do you know what those words mean?

I like this guy on Gun Broker asking big money for a "PINNED AND RECESSED" Smith & Wesson Model 940 that clearly does not have a pinned barrel, nor ever did any 940 have recessed chambers. Plus the gun has a clearly visible 7-digit alphanumeric serial number with a "BKR" prefix that dates to the early Nineties, a decade after any pinned-barrel Smith left the factory.

What do people like this even think "pinned & recessed" means these days? Are they just using it as shorthand for "I think it's old?"

Look, Ma! No clips!

For Wheelgun Wednesday, here's a Smith & Wesson Model 547, dating from probably late 1982.

Photographed with a Hasselblad Lunar & Vario-Tessar T 16-70mm f/4  

The HKS speedloaders for these things border on unobtainium. Back when I was working at a gun shop in Tennessee I ordered a few from one of our regular wholesalers, who was probably delighted to see them go. Nowadays they fetch big bucks on eBay, apparently.

It has numerous interesting mechanical features that differentiate it from your typical K-frame, and Kevin McPherson at RevolverGuy has a lavishly illustrated post detailing all the little changes required to make this 9mm revolver run...and run without moon clips, at that.

The relative size of the cartridges tends to make folks associate 9x19mm with .38 Special, but its 35,000psi maximum SAAMI pressure (38.5k in +P form) puts it a lot closer to the .357 Magnum than it does the old low-pressure .38 Spl. Further, a lot more work has gone into 9mm projectile engineering over the last thirty years than either .38 or .357, at least for defensive use.

Of course, there are a lot more practical ways to carry a 9mm round for defense than holstering up a scarce and increasingly valuable Smith...but I could if I wanted to!


On newsstands near you...

...in the latest issue of RECOIL: Concealment*, is a feature-length writeup on this gizmo.

*If you don't want to go to a newsstand, digital subscriptions are cheap, although they only work on tablets and phones, not my desktop app for some reason.


Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Round vs. Flat

No, I'm not talking about round guns vs. flat guns, I'm talking about flat meplats vs. round-nosed ammo.

That quote Caleb's dropping in that Instagram post there is something that NYPD veteran Pat Rogers was quite fond of pointing out. Rather a lot of dudes have been dropped by plain old 158gr lead round nosed .38 Special over the decades. It's not a round that lacks for penetration, after all. If you draw that imaginary line between the bad guy's armpits and put a 158gr LRN projectile right in the middle of it, it's going to work just fine.

The one weakness of the load is one it shares with pretty much all other round-nosed projectiles, whether the mild .32 Smith & Wesson Long 98gr LRN or the mighty .45ACP 230gr FMJ, and that's when a round-nosed projectile meets curved bone, like a rib or a skull, weird stuff can happen. There's a reason Jim Cirillo (himself no stranger to putting .38 Special bullets into bad guys) spends a huge chunk of his book Guns, Bullets, and Gunfights* nerding out over bullet shapes that are more resistant to that tendency. 

Of course, the flat meplats and sharp shoulders that make wadcutters and semiwadcutters more resistant to glancing off bone and more efficient at tissue damage also make them easier to fumble on a speedy reload, with those flat surfaces and corners hanging up on the edges of the charge holes, especially if said edges haven't been chamfered.

This is why, if you drill down in the comments at Caleb's instagram post, while he may have SWC in the cylinder, he's got LRN in the speed strip. Likewise, I may have 148gr Federal Gold Medal Match wadcutters in a J-frame, but if I have a reload, it's going to be something with some ogive to it.

47-year old S&W Model 37, 10-year old Dark Star Gear holster, and an HKS speedloader full of Disco-era 95gr +P Silvertips

*If you haven't read Cirillo's book, you're wrong and should fix that, soonest.


Monday, February 20, 2023

Did you know 'gullible' isn't in the dictionary?

I remember a guy trying to pimp my friend on a 2.5" Smith & Wesson 686, telling him it was from a Lew Horton special run.
Friend: "How do you know it is a Lew Horton gun?"

Dude (produces screwdriver and removes aftermarket stocks): "Oh, it's a Lew Horton, alright. See on the inside of this grip, where it says 'LH'?"

Me (holds up other stock): "Was this one from Lew's brother, Ray?"

Wow, this photo is old enough to vote.

Magnum Monday

A lot has changed since I bought this Smith & Wesson 629-1 over twenty years ago.

For starters, at the time four hundred and fifty clams seemed like a crazy lot of money for a used Smith revolver. These days an early Lew Horton snub like this one will bring multiples of that tariff...three or four times that sticker, maybe more if it's a pristine safe queen, which this one obviously isn't anymore. I've put honest holster wear on it in that time.

Back then, if you wanted to carry reloads, you were limited to pretty much the HKS 29-M speedloader. In those days, speed strips for anything other than .38/.357 were pretty much unknown. Not anymore, though; now you can get them for the .44 also.

Nowadays I'm more likely to carry the QuickStrips with just the outboard pairs of rounds filled and the center two holes empty. Both Claude Werner and Grant Cunningham have me pretty well convinced that the ability to rapidly and positively load a pair of rounds is of more practical value than having every last hole in the strip filled with a cartridge.

The holster was bought about the same time as the revolver. It's an ancient Comp-Tac. I haven't carried it a ton over the years, but it's seen several months of actual day-to-day use, all told, over the last couple decades.

You'll notice it's set up for IWB carry at about the 3:30-4:00 position, just behind the point of the strong-side hip. It's set up to ride high, with the bulk of that big N-frame cylinder riding above the belt line. The forward rake assists access and an easier draw, and the length of the holster that extends below the belt line helps keep things stable. I've used it with an assortment of three- and four-inch N-frames over the years.


Automotif CCCXLIV...

The lugs on the frame for mounting the (now-removed) federally-mandated 5mph bumper tell us that this is a post-1973 Avanti II. Probably has a 400cid Chevy small block.

The lines of Raymond Loewy's Avanti have aged pretty well.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Ego Defense

Reminder: When someone types “Does the Blastomatic 2000* suck?” In a search engine, it’s not because they’re thinking about buying a Blastomatic 2000 and are looking for unbiased reviews.

It’s because they just bought a Blastomatic 2000 and are looking for arguments on the internet they can jump into to white knight for their impulse buy.

Entire social media groups are built around ego defense. People construct online identities around consumer goods that cost less than a week’s pay.

*Substitute any particular optic, flashlight, accessory, ammunition…or pretty much any non-firearms-related consumer good, for that matter. Once people have tendered green for an object, it’s natural for their ego to be bound up in that purchase.

It's Huck!

Nikon Coolpix P7000

A lone sunbeam was peeping through the drawn living room drapes on a lazy winter Sunday morning. So of course it attracted a cat.

Nikon D7100 & 16-80mm f/2.8-4E VR

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Hey, look!

RECOIL used a couple of my photos from CanCon '22 to illustrate David Merrill's review of the Maxim Defense PDX SD.

These were shot with my Fujifilm X-T2 & the rugged, versatile XF 16-80mm f/4 R OIS WR

Normally I use Canons for work stuff, but the forecast called for rain at the range, and the Fuji X-T2 and a "WR" (weather resistant) lens is a great foul weather choice.


QotD: Contrarianism Edition...

From Howard Anglin...
"It does seem that you can get so used to being on the other side of common opinion that it weakens your ability to differentiate between being right and in the minority and believing that you are right because you are in the minority. The fact that almost everything you read and everyone you talk to tells you that you’re crazy ceases to give you pause—worse, it confirms that you are on the right path."
You should RTWT.


Whispers of Winds

Here's an interesting substitute for counting sheep that I hadn't considered.
"Most nights I don’t sleep well, so to relax, I often listen to audiobooks or the radio. Other people’s words keep me from sliding into the canyon of doom, where all around shouts of “you’re screwed” reverberate. For many months I put on murder mysteries, but in an effort to embrace a more soothing sort of rest, I have started listening to compilations of the Shipping Forecast, a BBC Radio 4 production that is no fancier than its name suggests: It is, simply, a program featuring weather reports that narrate the gales and tides around the British Isles. If some people doze off to the sound of rain, I fall asleep to broadcasters announcing the rain that is to come."

17 years, 17,000+ posts...

That's a lot of blog posts over a lot of years, with a lot of outbound links.

It's hard enough for me to remember to remember to police up the sidebar on any sort of semi-regular basis, it's literally impossible for a solo blogger like myself to go back and make sure that some random link that pointed to a webcomic or personal blog back in 2009 isn't now pointing to an URL currently being squatted by a Serbian Virus Ranch or some site in Bangkok hosting weird kinky videos of people doing stuff with animals in vats of jello.

Anyway, Google just unpublished three old posts until I could go remove the links from what used to be a gun blog and is now a hacker collective in Uzbekistan or something.

Ah, well.


Friday, February 17, 2023

Ain't you just an artist?

"Get any good photos?" he asked.

"Dunno," I replied. "I think I have a couple keepers. We'll see after I process them."

"But that's a DSLR."

"Yeah, but I gotta run 'em through Photoshop* to see what I've got."

"Hmm." (Here there was an audible sniff of disdain.) "I don't use Photoshop. I prefer straight-out-of-camera**."

"You don't shoot RAW?"


"So you just let the camera photoshop them for you."
See, the camera sensor records incoming light. In order to view the image, it needs to be processed into an easily viewable format, usually JPEG.

By the time you pop it onto your computer screen, the camera's corrected the lens distortions, tweaked the color profile, contrast, saturation, the works...

Even inexpensive consumer cameras will offer you a minimal level of control over this, usually giving you a choice of color profiles, like "Natural" or "Standard", "Vivid", and maybe a few artsy options, such as the "Black & White", "Sepia", and "Cyanotype" offered by this little Coolpix S6500 on my desk.

Use any of those color profiles, including the completely arbitrary "Standard" and, congratulations, you "photoshopped" there, Ansel Adams.

Higher-end pocket cameras, and pretty much any DSLR or Mirrorless, will give you the option of saving the "RAW" file. This is called by a bunch of different names, depending on the manufacturer...they're NEF in Nikon-speak, CR2 in Canon-ese, ARW in Sony cant, et cetera...but they're essentially the captured image data sans any processing. (Some people call them a "digital negative", but a negative is still processed film, so there's a bit of ACKSHYUALLY here.)

Thing is, you can't just view the RAW file without some sort of image converter software...like the Camera Raw plugin for Photoshop. There are various cheaper or freeware ones, but I have an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription for work purposes, so I use the Photoshop one. I like the way it gives me access to Photoshop and Lightroom on my phone, laptop, tablet, desktop, et cetera. Being able to process photos in a hotel room on the road is often important for me. Anyway...

Going to shooting in RAW format, something I had to do back in 2017 so I could do photography for RECOIL Magazine at SHOT Show was a huge bump in getting better photographic results for me. It was for my picture shooting basically the equivalent of what buying a shot timer and ordering targets and ammo by the case was for my pistol shooting.

*The Camera Raw plugin for Photoshop, ackshyually.
**Often referred to by the acronym SOOC.


Thursday, February 16, 2023

Color me shocked...

...to find that Seymour Hersh was talking out of his ass again.
"When first reading through Hersh’s account of the events, the level of detail he provides could add credence to his story. Unfortunately for Hersh’s story, the high level of detail is also where the entire story begins to unravel and fall apart. It is often stated that people who lie have a tendency to add too much superfluous detail to their accounts. This attempt to “cover all bases” is in many cases what trips these people up. Extra details add extra points of reference that can be crosschecked and examined. In Hersh’s case, this is exactly what appears to have happened. On the surface level, the level of detail checks out to laymen or people without more niche knowledge of the subject matter mentioned. When you look closer though, the entire story begins to show massive glaring holes and specific details can be debunked."
The ship Hersh named, BTW, hadn't moved under its own power in a decade and was, in fact, apparently scrapped some time ago.


I hate to break this to you, Ms. Press Secretary...

...but the Venn Diagram of "People Who Legitimately Worry We Shot Down Aliens" and "People Who Believe Anything The Government Says About Anything" looks like the business end of a coach gun.
But in the briefing filled with unanswered questions, one statement from White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was as definitive as anything else: The US military had not shot down any UFOs from outer space.

“There is no – again, no indication – of aliens or extraterrestrial activity with these recent take-downs,” she said. “Wanted to make sure that the American people knew that, all of you knew that. And it was important for us to say that from here because we’ve been hearing a lot about it.”

But my cell phone has a camera!

Getting home from running errands yesterday, I exited the garage into the back yard and caught a squirrel halfway over the fence from the neighbor's yard.

He froze and eyed me suspiciously and I pulled out my cell phone, an iPhone 13 Pro Max, and "pinch-zoomed" to an indicated "13X".

Now, the lens of the regular rear-facing camera on the 13 Pro Max has a full-frame equivalent focal length of 26mm, so 13X that would be...carry the two...roughly 338mm of digital "zoom" on that 12MP sensor.

What I got was this impressionist hot mess:

Below is an image from a 12MP APS-C Nikon sensor with a 200mm zoom lens, giving a 300mm full-frame equivalent focal length of real, actual, optical zoom:

There's just no comparison between an actual long lens and "digital zoom".



Nikon D2X & 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR II

According to the map of their range on Wikipedia, the range of the fox squirrel includes both Georgia and Tennessee, but I don't recollect seeing them much in metro Atlanta or Knoxville. I was a lot more used to the smaller Eastern gray squirrel.

The fox squirrels are huge compared to Eastern grays, being half again (or more) the size and weight.

Didn't see many Eastern gray squirrels when I first moved up here, but they've been gradually spreading northward through the neighborhood, the nearest ones living in trees only a few doors south of Roseholme Cottage now.

Canon EOS 1D Mark IV & EF 70-200mm f/4L IS

They both have two litters a year if the eating's good...and it's a veritable squirrel smorgasbord here in SoBro, with yards full of oak trees and bird feeders. The grays tend to have slightly larger litters, I think.


Sounds horrifying...

An interesting piece on The Villages in Florida and their coming demographic crisis featured this creepy little tidbit:
I rented a golf cart during my visit, paying $25 for a day of puttering around. It was mid‑May, so already fairly hot. Presumably due to the combination of age and weather, there weren’t many people out. On the main cart thoroughfares, golfers would whiz past my speed‑regulated rental, prompting me to offer repeated apologetic waves. There are wide‑open gates at the entrances to the various villages, policed by local residents who nod everyone through. Most residential streets that morning were empty, treeless under a cloudless blue sky. Driveways were occasionally ornate and, to a house, clean, but nearly every house was shut up tight. People were watching, though; one woman with whom I spoke as she was watering plants assured me that she would receive multiple calls after I left to inquire about who I was and why I was there.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Speaking of destabilized countries with nukes...

So apparently Gazprom is joining Wagner and the Chechens in having a semi-autonomous armed force that reports directly to Tsar Vladimir rather than through the regular military chain of command.

As the linked article points out having competing centers of power is a classic balancing act for authoritarian regimes. Also, from the Caesar's Praetorians to Hitler's SS to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran's mullahs, having an armed force that answers directly to the Maximum Leader rather than potentially uppity generals is a longstanding tradition.

But...and it's a pretty big "but", like, Sir Mix-A-Lot big...
"So what if Putin falls? Eventually, one way or another, Putin will no longer be president of Russia. Autocratic regimes are notably unstable at times of leadership transition, and it won’t be fun to have lots of different groups with guns vying for control—a scenario that could resemble the plot of Crimson Tide.

It’s hard to tell, though, who would want to be in charge of Russia’s nukes in the chaos that will follow after Putin has died or been deposed. Even if some warring faction other than the Ministry of Defense were to somehow secure all of Russia’s nuclear weapons—in submarines, at air bases, in missile silos, on road-mobile launchers, and in storage—and the command-and-control systems to launch them, what would that faction stand to gain? The expense involved in supporting that nuclear infrastructure is enormous, and it’s not clear how they could be used against domestic political opponents, anyway. It’s very hard—though not altogether impossible—to imagine a situation in which anyone but the Ministry of Defense would have both the capability to use the country’s nuclear weapons and a motive to do so. The prospect of pieces of Russia’s nuclear arsenal being sold off appears only slightly more realistic. Of course, there’s always the unexpected. Authoritarian regimes are most unstable when their leadership changes, and the potential for catastrophe after Putin is disconcerting.


Automotif CCCXLIII...

Here's a rare bird. The Porsche 944 S2 Cabriolet was only officially imported into the US for the '90 and '91 Model years (although a handful of demo '89 models made their way here as well) so this is a 1-of-2,402 sighting.

There's another one in the neighborhood, too.

The ultimate naturally-aspirated iteration of the 944 design, the S2 featured a 3.0L DOHC 16V inline four, rated at 208bhp, a considerable bump from the original 944's 143 horse 2.5L SOHC 8V four banger.


Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Low Altitude

Pretty cool cockpit vid of some Blackburn Buccaneers doing their low-level thing at Nellis...


Monday, February 13, 2023

Viper Training

A pretty detailed look at what would actually be entailed in getting Ukrainian fighter jockeys spun up on the F-16...
“Going into combat against a Su-35, even a Su-27 in contested airspace — now you’re talking about years of experience. You can’t do that with a brand-new guy who has seen everything once! You can have all the capabilities of the jet, but if the pilot doesn’t know how to use it correctly, then that’s useless. So for a pilot coming from a MiG-29, having to learn a brand-new PVI [pilot-vehicle interface] where everything looks different, use weapons that they’ve only ever read about, to give them three-months training then toss them into combat — that’s a tall order!"

“The MiG-29 to a Block 50 or Mid-Life Upgrade Viper isn’t a big step in performance, but it’s a huge leap in technology — the weapons and avionics. Even after 69 days of intense training, that’s only a wingman qual [qualification], so who is going to lead the mission? Do you just send them off as a rogue single-ship to try and shoot down anything with more than one vertical tail? To be super effective, you at least need a four-ship, and to lead that needs at least a year of intensive training — then you can crush the opposition.”

“The answer initially would have to be based on building a new syllabus based on Ukraine’s specific needs and the threat scenario, and to then take that into combat would need anywhere between six and 12 months of training. It would still be risky, but that might outweigh the rewards.”
RTWT if you're into that sort of thing.


That would be bad.

The last year has brought Pakistan to the brink. A series of rolling disasters — including catastrophic flooding, political paralysis, exploding inflation, and a resurgent terror threat — now risk sending a key, if troubled, global player into full-blown crisis. If the worst comes to pass, as some experts warn, the catastrophe unfolding in Pakistan will have consequences far beyond its borders.

“This is a country of 220 million people, with nuclear weapons and serious internal conflicts and divisions,” said Uzair Younus, the director of the Pakistan Initiative at the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center. “The world didn’t like the outflows of refugees and weapons that came from countries like Syria and Libya. In comparison, Pakistan is magnitudes larger and more consequential.”
Of all the countries I wouldn't want to see collapse into civil disorder à la Syria or Libya right now, yeah, Pakistan is close to the top of the list. 

It would destabilize more than just the immediate region, and the worst part is there's not much anybody outside the country can do to prevent it.

I mean where would the refugees even go? Two borders...India and Afghanistan...are out of the question, and that leaves Iran, which is teetering on the brink of outright civil war itself. It wouldn't take much of a push to kick that one off for realsies. And India would probably see that as their cue to firm up their position in Kashmir...


Adorable Pupper!

This adorable little beabull (beagle & English bulldog mix) was having lunch with her peoples on the patio at Twenty Tap yesterday. She was a very good girl.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Shut up, Cletus.

Watching dudes like the Facebook commenter quoted over at Prof. Yamane's blog thump their chests and posture and try to basically run off anybody who dares trespass on the sacred territory of their hobby is so frustrating.

You're why we can't have nice things, Cletus.


Military Heffalump

I did not know this.
But by far, the most famous individual elephant of the [China/Burma/India] campaign was Lin Wang—an elephant who served on both sides of the war.

Lin Wang started his service as a pack animal for an Imperial Japanese Army unit. In 1943, Nationalist Chinese forces under the legendary Gen. Sun Liren captured Lin Wang, conscripting him and several other elephants into hauling supplies.

Lin Wang served under Sun for years. Chinese forces brought the animal across Burma to China—along with several other elephants—for use in construction projects. In 1947, Sun went to Taiwan, and brought the remaining three elephants with him, including Lin Wang.

The other two died of illness, and in 1952, the Nationalist army gave Lin Wang to the Taipei Zoo where he lived until 2003, dying at age 86.
I mean, I knew elephants were long-lived, but the idea of an octogenarian WWII veteran pachyderm living into the current millennium is pretty cool.

Elephant loading a USAAF Curtiss C-46 Commando


Unidentified Aerial Memes

A reminder that there is a longstanding problem here that we've been waving off as "UFOs".


Saturday, February 11, 2023


While recreational weed has been legalized in two adjoining states (Illinois and Michigan) and a third, Ohio, has medical marijuana and decriminalized possession, Indiana is still not down with the jazz cabbage.

While I've had very little in the way of buyer's remorse with our current term-limited governor, he has been foursquare against the legalization of wacky tobaccy, and it's unlike our state legislature would send him a bill anyway.

Nevertheless, just walking through the parking lot of the local big-box store has had me wondering if I'd be able to pass a whiz quiz by the time I get to the front door. I'm told this ain't the Oaxacan ditch weed of my youth. When the stuff is so dank you can smell it from multiple car lengths back at interstate speeds, this is a whole different strain of the chronic.

Alas, 5th Circuit decision or no, my line of work keeps me from finding out until we legalize the stuff federally.


QotD: You Don't Have To Be A Douche Edition...

From Professor Yamane...
"I don’t have much of a stomach for politics but I do think it’s important that we, as citizens of the United States, talk to one another about issues of common concern. And if we can start those discussions with more empathy… then I think we can get further in those discussions even if we never completely agree."



Dude came cruising down the street and glided to a stop in the turn lane at 54th & College like something out of Back to the Future 2.

Apparently some of these things will do thirty miles per hour, if that's your kind of crazy, I guess.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #232...

So, the plan is that, once it's dialed in, this Taurus 856 TORO with a Holosun EPS Carry is going to be my carry gun this year, including hopefully some classes and matches, along with regular range use and practice.

We'll see how it holds up and if I wind up getting kilt inna streetz for carrying a wheelgun...one with batteries, no less.

Thanks to Big Tex Ordnance for hooking me up with one of the still hard-to-find EPS Carry optics, and to Dark Star Gear for getting a pre-production optics-ready Apollo holster to me on short notice.

It'll be interesting to put this concept through the wringer.



I'm old enough to remember when "Made in Japan" was shorthand for "cheap manufactured goods".

The funny part, of course, is that the idea was already largely obsolete by the time I was old enough to mouth the words. Oh, sure, in the Seventies the labor and manufacturing costs were still lower than here in the U.S. (although rising fast), but the quality of manufactured goods from the island nation was by then as good as anyplace else in the world and better than most.

The main source for inexpensively assembled electronics and optics has wandered around Southeast Asia for a while, as costs in Japan rose. I've owned optics from the Philippines and Taiwan, for instance. Vaunted camera maker Nikon only made their most expensive DSLRs in the Home Islands before relocating all camera production to their Thailand plant.

Pretty much for the last couple decades, China has been the source for this stuff. The country has a sophisticated manufacturing base and low manufacturing costs, and it's not like good stuff isn't produced there (you don't often hear people accusing iPhones of being shoddily built) but they will make your electronics or optics to whatever price point you want, and QC & materials prices are easy places to slash overhead.

With China apparently having hit peak population growth, though, that standing of being "least expensive source for sophisticated goods" isn't guaranteed to be a forever thing, and I wonder who's next?

Will we be making fun of inexpensive Indian goods, or are they tracking the same arc as China too closely to be able to supplant them for a decade or two? Or maybe some African country will get its governmental ducks in a row long enough to be seen as a good source of cheap manufacturing and we'll see "Made in Nigeria" pocket knives and toaster ovens?