Friday, March 24, 2023

Museum Wars

Automotif CCCLII...

Here's a Bentley Brooklands Coupé, of which 550 examples were hand-built between 2008 and 2011. This nice lady putters hers to the Fresh Market for groceries every now and again.

The 6.75 liter twin-turbocharged V8 is rated at 530 bhp and 774 lb/ft of torque, but I've never seen her really boot it to flex that monster torque curve.


Thursday, March 23, 2023


Via a commenter in a post at The Online Photographer, I learned that the folks at The Internet Archive are taking extraordinary steps to make sure as much of the content at Digital Photography Review is crawled and archived as possible.

That's a big deal, because DPReview is pretty much the definitive source for digital camera info going back to the days when a single megapixel was considered to be a really big deal.

I have no idea why Amazon, owner of more cloud storage space than almost anybody, decided that it wouldn't be cost-effective to archive the site themselves.



How it started...

How it's going...

I wonder where they're going to source 100mm ammo? I guess there's some in storage, and the PRC probably manufactures it. It looks like the tanks on the rail cars still have active infrared searchlights, which would be borderline suicidal to use on a modern battlefield.


It begins...

 I've actually been carrying a Taurus revolver so far this year. A Model 327, to be specific, loaded with 100gr Ventura Munitions .32 H&R Magnum lead semiwadcutters, in a Dark Star Gear Apollo holster.

It was only a placeholder until I could get this thing sighted in, though...

Thanks to Big Tex Ordnance for getting me the hookup with the EPS Carry.

That's going to be the carry gun for this year, an 856 TORO with a Holosun EPS Carry in an optics-cut Dark Star Gear Apollo. Classes, maybe some matches, and a lot of range work. I'm interested to see how the whole "red dot CCW revolver" concept shakes out. I'm impressed so far, but it's still early going.


Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy.

I've blogged before about incidents like the one on the strip a few years ago, where two dudes bumped into each other outside The Vogue and decided that the way to answer such disrespect was to spray bullets at each other, hitting half everybody present except the dude at whom they were actually shooting.

Let's say that you, an upright and law-abiding CCW toter are present. What do you do in that situation?

You listen to Greg Ellifritz's advice, that's what.
You off-duty cops and legally armed citizens have exactly one role in this situation: Make sure you and your family/friends don’t get shot. That’s it. End of lesson.


They don’t want to shoot you. The only way you will get hit is by accident. Don’t go looking for trouble. Don’t try to intervene. There is no “innocent third party” to protect. Let the dumbshits shoot each other. You don’t have to play their game.
You ain't Batman and these ain't Supervillains.


End of an Era

Nikon's D1X is one of the earliest DSLR cameras, released way back in 2001. The twin towers still stood in New York, GWB had just started his first term, the Chevy Camaro was about to be discontinued for slumping sales...

The website Digital Photography Review was already around to review the camera. In fact, it had been around for several years already, being founded in London by Phil Askey in 1998.

DPReview, as it's become known, became pretty much the benchmark for photography hardware reviews, with attached forums and photography contests. It got bought by Amazon back in 2007 and the operation was relocated from London to Seattle in 2010.

As video became more popular and people stopped reading text-based sites as much, they branched out into DPReview TV with video format reviews to supplement the articles on the site.

With Amazon retrenching and laying off workers, though, it looks like Digital Photography Review is one of the things that's getting the axe, and the site will be shuttered in April.

So it goes.



Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Empty-Headed Clickbait

Did it make you feel good about your biases and click "Like"? Did it get you mad and cause you to try and reply with a dunk? Either way it worked!

(...and the fact that I quote-tweeted it for a dunk of my own and shared it here means it worked on me, too. Engagement, baby! Remember: The internet doesn't differentiate between hate-clicks and love-clicks. The opposite of love isn't hate, it's indifference.)

QotD: Antisocial Media Edition...

"[P]rotracted internet dependence warps your perception of people. It wears down your attention span, makes you irritable, and fractures your day into dozens or hundreds of unconnected bits and pieces." -Addison Del Mastro
You should read the whole thing, and maybe the piece he linked, "The Internet is Made of Demons", too.

As for me, I'm off to reread The Shallows. Without pausing to check the Bookface every ten pages.


Secret Weapon

As I was going through the stacks of books in the attic, winnowing things out to be dropped off at Goodwill or used to stock the Little Free Libraries in the neighborhood, I ran across this tome about one of the U.S. Army's most important weapons of the Cold War...

Not really a "weapon" per se, the Army' fact, the whole U.S. military' system was predicated on the idea that our guys would be outnumbered and have to rely on superior training and tactics to win. Units rotating through NTC could expect to get whupped by OPFOR.

This book was published in '89, and a bit over a year later, the destruction of the Iraqi army in a hundred hours showed that the training had paid off.

Turns out the Russians didn't train that way.


Monday, March 20, 2023

She's a Lady (Smith)

It was taken as gospel that the triggers in the 3913LS were somehow improved over those in the regular 3913. The gun magazines told us so!

Back in 1993, Dean Speir (writing as "Waldo Lydecker") wrote "The LadySmith pistol, like the LadySmith revolvers, boasts a smoother, lighter trigger pull for what is presumably those dainty little hands which S&W thought would be the primary market for the firearms." I seem to recall Smith marketing hinting at that, too, so I'm sure the writers were just passing on what they'd been told.

Imagine my chagrin years down the road to find that there doesn't appear to be any separate SKU for LadySmith mainsprings...or any other spring or action part, actually...vice the ordinary Model 3913. Indeed, there's no difference in the weight of the DA pull on the two pictured autos and, while the LS does have a slightly subjectively smoother DA pull, it's hard to say how much of that difference came from the factory since both pistols were acquired used. They certainly have identical six pound single action pulls according to my trigger pull gauge.

The differences are indeed cosmetic, being differences in the shape of the dust cover and the color of the xenoy wraparound grips. Oh, and the LS was thinner due to having the offside decocker/safety lever deleted.

But oh what a difference those cosmetic changes make. The 3913 is a functional little single-stack auto, perhaps my favorite of its genre, but the 3913LS is downright hawt-looking.

In retrospect, I should have been a bit more dubious that the LadySmith received any additional trigger polishing and massaging at the factory when the MSRP was the same as the regular model.

We live and we learn.


Arguing on the Internet

You know those guys who stand on the street with signs saying "THE END IS NIGH"? What did you do with crazy people on the street? You walked around them, right?

But look what happens when you run across him saying crazy things in your Facebook feed:
In terms of who this guy is and who you are absolutely nothing has changed. And yet here you are—arguing with him on Twitter or Facebook. And you, yourself, are being brought to the brink of insanity. But you can’t seem to stop. You have to respond or read the comments of the other people responding and your cortisol and adrenaline levels are spiking and your blood pressure is rising and you’re suddenly at risk of a heart attack.

And the ugly truth is that you’ve become addicted to arguing with the “End Is Nigh” sandwich board guy. The guy you used to quietly skirt, you now seek him out and you bring your friends and for some idiotic reason you think that if you just post a little bit more you’re going to get him to see reason. Or put him in his place.
If you just say the right words, surely he'll see that the earth is round, or that we landed on the moon, or whatever...


Rites of Spring

The equinox has arrived and, thanks to Daylight Savings Time, we've seized that useless hour of daylight from the morning, where it was only being used by farmers, poultry, and joggers, and redistributed it to the rest of us. 

Sunset in Indianapolis tonight is only a few minutes shy of eight o'clock. If Bobbi and I decide to run to Meijer after she gets off work tonight, it won't be in the dark.

Today's high temps will be back into the 50s.



Sunday, March 19, 2023

Archival Research

Getting ready for some Sunday Smithery over at the other blog, and that meant pulling out some old gun rags...

I remember reading this issue behind the counter at my first gun store gig, back when it was new.


Friday, March 17, 2023

Automotif CCCLI...

Olympus E-510 & Lumix 14-150mm f/3.5-5.6

First spotted back in 2020, this Austin-Healey Sprite Mk.II has been an ongoing restomod project for its owner.

It sounds quite healthy now as it goes zipping around SoBro...


That Nineties Show

I was setting up a photo shoot for a magazine article yesterday and snapped some phone pics to test the layout...

Thanks to a reader for hooking me up with that very Nineties box of Black Talon, complete with the period-correct twelve buck price tag. (Of course, sixty cents a pop was pretty premium stuff back in 1992 or so.)

The 3913LS was released in 1990, a couple years after that Nikon F4 and 35-70mm f/2.8D. The Motorola MicroTAC is a later model, probably mid '90s.

The Nikon and the Smith are still useful tools, but the phone is something I picked up off the 'Bay for ten bucks to use purely for a photo prop.



I know a lot of people really dig Saint Patrick's Day, but I prefer to celebrate Saint Cletus.

He's the guy who put the snakes in Ireland in the first place, which was probably a lot more work.


It's March, But I Ain't Mad

This city really goes nuts for the Big College Squeaky Round Ball Tourney. 

People take long lunches and crowd local eateries at midday like it's Super Bowl Sunday just to watch some early round of the bracket with the West Dakota College of Veterinary Medicine squaring off against St. Hubbard's University of Scientology or something.

It's wild.


Thursday, March 16, 2023

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #234...

Speaking of Best Millimeter, the latest test gun has arrived...

The FN 510 Tactical answers all your handheld autocannon needs! The pistol ships with the flush-fit 15-round magazine like the one in the photo, as well as a 22-round(!) 'stendo, just in case your position is about to be overrun by a fire team of mutant undead ninja grizzly bears.

If it can't be solved with 22+1 rounds of 10mm Auto, it's probably not the sort of problem that can be solved with a pistol in the first place.


Best Millimeter

So, in going down the rabbit hole about the origins of the frame-mounted decocker on Third Gen Smith autos, I came across this post at Dean Speir's sadly defunct The Gun Zone blog, which is fortunately archived on The Wayback Machine. Apparently the genesis was that the cartridge was decided upon before the gun. Under the direction of John Hall, the FTU had decided that the Bureau was definitely going to the 10mm Auto.

Speir quotes a 1990 Gun Week piece by Mas Ayoob:
"The FTU was given carte blanche to find, or if necessary, create the best possible autoloading pistol for use by FBI agents. Originally, attention had focussed on the 9mm. Expansion of the analysis to include the .45 caliber slowed the process. It was slowed still further when, almost as an afterthought, Hall proposed researching the 10mm as well. When the administration balked, Hall reminded his bosses that a nation was watching them; FBI was a trend setter, and if they adopted a round that turned out to be eclipsed by something else, a disservice would have been done to law enforcement itself as well as to the Bureau."
So the cartridge was decided upon, but that kinda narrowed the pistol choice down a bunch.

Let's hop over to this post by (sadly departed) retired Louisiana State Police trooper "LSP972", who was a scholar on such matters:
"Compounding the issue was the fact that The Director Had Spoken; FBI was going to 10mm, despite his FTU people telling him it was a real bad idea; and there were exactly three to choose from... the Colt Delta Elite 1911, the G20, and the S&W. FBI held to the prevailing (at the time) cop perception that any SA gun with a manual safety was bad juju for LE work; one that is still valid today for a general-issue piece. The Glock was still new, and considered by FBI FTU to be the anti-Christ (due to all the negligent injury/wrongful death suits Glock was facing at the time, caused by cops who had not been trained to keep their finger OFF of the trigger, etc.). So that left the S&W.

An amusing aside was the fact that they first approached Sig about making a 10mm P226, and the Sig/USA guys over here said "Sure, we can do that." When the idea was floated in Germany, the Teutonic engineers nixed it, knowing that a complete re-design would be necessary and that an alloy frame would not stand the pounding. What makes it amusing is that , I was told, Sig neglected to inform the FBI of this decision, so after Ted Hollobaugh and his merry men developed the "10mm Lite" cartridge, they informed Sig of this and asked "Where's our gun?"

The answer allegedly was, "Gun? What gun?"

Bottom line, they (FBI FTU) were between a rock and a hard place now, and the S&W offering was the lesser of three evils. The frame-mount decocker was indeed a last-minute add-on. And the rest, as they say, is history...
The resulting decocker assembly was a kludge. As Chuck Haggard recollects, the decocker lever itself was derisively referred to as the "Bart Simpson" in armorer's classes for reasons that should be obvious. (Trivia: Kansas City, MO issued the Model 4026 as their first autoloader.)

This "Bart Simpson" picture stolen from Midway.

Didja ever wonder why...?

Did you ever wonder why next year's model cars start popping up in dealerships this year? Car and Driver has the answer...
"You don't need to travel at the speed of light to witness time travel. In fact, all you need is a subscription to Car and Driver to see the theory at work. How else can you explain the way we always send you a magazine dated at least one month ahead of the month of receipt?

It's not just magazines that appear to bend the space-time continuum. Vehicle model years frequently differ from the official calendar year. Your calendar may display the year 2023, but somehow new-car dealerships across the country are starting to stock 2024-model cars and trucks. What gives?

Blame Franklin D. Roosevelt.
I should have listened to my grandmother, who thought that FDR was responsible for every evil, from sending grandpa off to fight the Germans to bad weather.

Anyway, you can go read the whole thing.


Wednesday, March 15, 2023

"Nova" means "Doesn't Go"

Literally half of everybody in this hemisphere speaks Spanish, and y'all didn't think to run the title of this movie by one of them?

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #233...

I've been wanting to get my hands on one of these for a while now.

In the Third Generation S&W autoloader least the original four digit ones before they mucked it all up with the "value series" three digit guns...the third digit nominally indicates the type of action the pistol uses. If that third digit is a "2", "3", or a "7", it indicates a traditional double action pistol with a frame-mounted decocking lever, like the one on SIG Sauer's classic P-220 and its offshoots.

The pictured pistol is a Model 5926. The "59" indicates a full-size double-stack 9mm. The "2" is a full-size pistol with frame-mounded decocking lever and no manual safety, and "6" is for stainless steel frame and slide.

This model was only produced for a short period, from 1990 to 1993, and the prominently hooked trigger guard marks the one in the photo as an early gun.

The frame-mounted decocker was something of a kludge on these, and had to be recalled once because some FBI agents managed to brick their 1076s. Via hearsay (and unconfirmed at this point, so take it with a grain of salt) if the decocking lever were to be inadvertently partially depressed during the firing cycle, something in the mechanism would break, leaving the user with an inoperable handgun. At least an all-stainless Smith weighing 29 whatever ammo was still in the gun...would make a pretty fair bludgeon.

All the frame-mounted decocker pistols were recalled for an upgrade, and upgraded guns feature a couple dots punched into the frame under the lever. This pistol does not appear to have been upgraded, but I'll need to call Smith to be sure; they were upgrading pistols as recently as a couple years ago, but guys on forums were reporting getting the gun back without the punch marks as far back as the late '00s.

So, why did Smith even go with this weird, retrofitted decocking system? It's hard to be sure. One would assume it's involved with going after LE contracts, since the FBI went with the frame-mounted decocker on their Smiths rather than the traditional Walther-style slide-mounted hammer dropping safety used on most S&W autos.

With traditional Smith & Wesson revolvers, you can always turn to History of Smith & Wesson by Roy Jinks, or Smith & Wesson 1857-1945: A Handbook for Collectors by Neal & Jinks and get well-researched scholarship on the origins of the classic models and the reasons for various changes, but there's no scholarly equivalent for Smith's metal-framed autoloaders. It's a shame, too, because one could be written now while a lot of primary sources are still available, but that situation ain't gonna last forever.


Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Ballistic Voodoo

But what if this guy escapes?

I know in my head that there's no real reason to be carrying 10mm Auto in my day-to-day life. Outside of some elaborate scenario involving a grizzly escaping from the Indianapolis Zoo, there's nothing it does that a good 124gr +P 9x19mm Federal HST doesn't do just fine, except recoil and cost a bunch.

But my heart doesn't want to listen to any of that. My heart keeps telling me that ten millimeter is best millimeter, the mighty Hammer of Thor...

I try not to listen to my heart, but it's tough sometimes.


Monday, March 13, 2023

Carrying Off the Beaten Path

My latest column at Shooting Illustrated has some thoughts on realistic preparations for carrying uncommon (or no-longer-common) guns
As 2022 drew to a close, I began to weigh the options for my next carry-gun project.

Regular readers of this column will know I strenuously discourage the weird habit of the “carry rotation,” whereby one selects one’s CCW pistol every morning based on the color of one’s mood ring or whether its grips match one’s choice of socks that day.

That being said, every year or two I will change out my own primary CCW pistol. Most frequently this is because I’ve wrung out a project to my satisfaction and want to go look at various frontiers of pistoleerdom I have yet to explore. This winter would be an example of that desire...

Fight the Power

From a short piece on the similarities between Orwell & Camus:
"Both Camus and Orwell are rightly credited with being “antitotalitarian” writers. And yet their reasons for being so are not wholly political. They were antitotalitarian not just because they opposed totalitarian regimes, but because they both understood that the totalitarian mindset requires you accept that truth comes from ideology. If the ideas say something is true, it becomes true, and is true. For Fascists and Communists, ideology is not merely a set of values or beliefs, but a cohesive explanation of the past, present and future of mankind."
It's a quick and worthwhile read.


QotD: Don't Creep the Creepers Edition...

From a good post noting several life lessons regarding our ubiquitous tech to be gleaned from the art house flick, Tár. For instance:
"If you’re being stalked online, it’s far too easy to adopt the habits of your stalker

Online stalking creates weird, unholy bonds between people. This is why we must be careful not to become that which we are ostensibly fighting against.
Most social media platforms these days include an array of features to mute, ignore, or block people. Use them. Don't obsess back at your trolls or creepers. Block and move on.

Good feed hygiene is an important part of a positive relationship with social media.


Another One Rides the Bus

The thing about Indy is it's not a city where people have to use public transport if they have the option of a personal vehicle. In a dense coastal metropolis, where the traffic is brutal and just finding a place to park a car can be a herculean task, there are large enough downsides to vehicle ownership that people are willing to overlook a certain amount of hassle to ride the bus or subway.

Here in the north part of Indy, there's not an apartment, condo, or house that doesn't come with a parking space or two and, as long as you don't try to navigate long swaths of the major arteries that get clogged with commuting suburbanites during the morning and evening rush hours, traffic is never really that bad.

So a certain amount of people were willing to try the Red Line as a novelty.

But if those young urban professionals gotta deal with hobos barfing on their wingtips, they'll be back in their Teslas and 3-series Bimmers with a quickness. 

And the hobos don't pay to ride; what little non-tax money IndyGo gets to offset the cost of running the Red Line comes from those yuppies that the hobos scare away. I don't necessarily expect a city bus line to turn a profit; it's a service, like pumping poop, that can be justified as a public long as it works and is convenient, and if it becomes hard to tell the buses from the sewers, that ain't convenient.

The Red Line is working okay for far. But I've seen the cracks starting to form at the edges, and it worries me.

., not that kind.

I'm up and at 'em here on time change Monday, readin' and writin' and whatnot.

While I'm getting caffeinated, here's a link to a good piece at on the factors involved in regulating the sights on a revolver so that Point-of-Aim and Point-of-Impact have more than a notional relationship to each other.

 One thing that can make it trickier is that most revolver chamberings offer a wider range of bullet weights and velocities than traditional autoloader rounds. Expecting, say, a 2.5" Model 686 to shoot to the same point of impact with 148gr .38 Special target wadcutters at 650fps and 125gr .357 Magnum loads at better than double that velocity is unrealistic.
"Let’s start with velocity. A fast bullet will exit the barrel more quickly than a slow one, which means that it will exit earlier in the barrel’s rise under recoil. The result is a bullet that hits lower on the target, all else being equal. The reverse is true for a slower bullet than normal, which can print higher."

Gratuitous old Model 34 Kit Gun photo

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Icy Hot Stuntaz

Vulture has a pretty good piece on why there should be Academy Awards for stunts...and also hands out their own "Stunt Oscars" for the past year.

This year, Best Aerial Stunt was over before it started, a total gimme.



When you need it for a photo prop...

I've got 1990s-vintage ammo boxes to use for photo props in most every common handgun caliber... except 9x19mm, because at some point back while I was still living in Tennessee I consolidated most of my handgun ammo...and apparently all my 9mm...into MTM Case-Gard containers and pitched the boxes.

So of course I need some vintage 9mm boxes today.

I can set up some pretty good early Nineties tableaux: Nikon F4, Motorola MicroTAC, Macintosh Powerbook Duo, early Chris Reeve Sebenza...but no old Cor-Bon ot Hydra-Shok or Winchester Subsonic 9mm boxes.

Thanks to Commander Zero, I have a .45ACP Black Talon box, and nothing's more Peak Early Nineties than Black Talons.

Maybe I can position it in the photo so the caliber can't be read and the size disparity isn't too noticeable?


Saturday, March 11, 2023

Size Matters, Except When It Doesn't

Taurus's older Model 85 small-frame .38 Special revolver was a five-shooter almost exactly the same size as Smith & Wesson's J-frame family, enough so that they fit the same holster.

Despite the protestations of some Taurus fanboys that the new 856 is the same size as the 85, just with an extra charge hole somehow magicked into the cylinder, it ain't. It's a bigger gun.

Here's a Taurus 327, built on the same frame as the 856, side-by-side with a Smith & Wesson 432PD. Both are .32-caliber six-shooters, albeit the Taurus is chambered for .327 Federal Magnum while the Smif is a .32 H&R Mag.

With warm .32 H&R Mag, like the 100gr LSWC from Ventura Munitions, the Airweight Smith is right on the edge of the dreaded "brisk-but-manageable" territory, which is old-school gunwriterspeak for "each shot felt like getting smacked in the palm with a tee ball bat". I tend to favor Federal 95gr LSWC ammo for carry for that reason. No, it doesn't expand, but it's got a nice flat meplat and sharp shoulder and it has yoinks of penetration.

On the other hand, being all steel and therefore a bit heavier, plus having just a teeny bit more grip, the Taurus 327 is plenty controllable with any .32 Mag load you put in it. With .327 Fed, on the other hand, it takes a lot more work for me to keep the muzzle from pointing skyward between shots.

While the Smith is light and small enough to be a coat pocket gun, that's not a role I'd ask of the Taurus.

On the other hand, in a tuckable AIWB belt holster like the Dark Star Gear Apollo, they're essentially the same size...

As an aside, I really wish they hadn't discontinued those compact hard plastic original gangsta J-frame Lasergrips. The closest these days are the LG-105s, which have the same abbreviated "boot grip" contour and smooth plastic construction that won't stick to your shirt like soft rubber does, but I think the placement of the second finger was better for me on the originals.



I certainly didn't have a good old-fashioned bank run on my 2023 bingo card, and yet here we are. (Rather, here Silicon Valley Bank is...or, technically, was.)
It was an extraordinary denouement less than two days after the bank shocked Wall Street and its depositors with emergency moves to raise cash and stave off a collapse in the face of withdrawal requests and a precipitous decline in the value of its investment holdings. The bank as of Friday morning was working with advisers on a potential sale, a person with knowledge of the negotiations said, and had halted trading in its shares in the wake of a rapid fall.

The F.D.I.C. created a new bank, the National Bank of Santa Clara, to hold the deposits and other assets of the failed one. The regulator said in a news release that the new entity would be operating by Monday and that checks issued by the old bank would continue to clear.

Friday, March 10, 2023


"Mechanical offset", "height-over-bore", whatever you want to call it, is a thing I'm more used to dealing with when using AR-pattern carbines at close ranges than when shooting pistols and revolvers.

Getting this T.O.R.O. dialed-in reminded me that the center of the optical sight is most of an inch above the axis of the bore, and given the wide range of velocities in .38 Special ammunition, it opened a whole 'nother can of worms.

The other sighting system on handguns that has this amount of offset from the bore is lasers...well, most of them, that is. They're usually slung below a flashlight on an accessory rail or perched out on a CTC Lasergrip, like the ones on the old Painted Ordnance "Gun Blog 9" here.

With Lasergrips I've come around to the solution of adjusting them so that the beam is parallel to the bore axis, such that the bullet's point of impact will be about a half inch left and an inch above the dot (on my J-frame) at anything out to something over 25 yards.

There's no real equivalent of that for a MRDS, though, as far as I know.


QotD: Doomer Brain Virus Edition

From a pretty good read on the pitfalls of doomerism:
What doomerism does, basically, is to execute a distributed denial-of-service attack on our threat perception. If we start to see everything in the world as a mortal threat, it makes us incapable of focusing our efforts on the actual priorities. I see doomerism as an extreme version of “polycrisis” thinking — the tendency to see all the bad stuff in the news as part of a mutually reinforcing web, instead of a list of challenges to be addressed one by one.
Worth the read.


Meanwhile, in Asia...

Xi Jinping got hisself elected to an unprecedented third five-year term as president of China by a vote of 2,952-0 in the CCP's legislature.

Man, that's a bigger margin than Trump pulled in The Villages! (You thought I was gonna say Biden and Detroit, didn't you?)

ANYway, Xi has pretty much solidified his control over the reins of power in China, and that's bad because his whole schtick, foreign policy-wise, is pretty aggro.

This is having some interesting effects in other Asian nations. We've seen the Japanese bolstering their military capabilities and increasing defense spending, and now they're engaging in high-level talks with South Korea, which is pretty wild given the literal centuries of bad blood between Korea and Japan.

Meanwhile, Australia has committed to the purchase of up to five Virginia-class nuclear attack submarines from the US to replace their own trouble-plagued Collins-class diesel-electric subs as they age out of service.


Thursday, March 09, 2023

Majordomo of the Forest

This little fella was alongside the Monon Trail yesterday, looking for all the world like he's welcoming you to the woods.


Epps Oops

Comedian Mike Epps forgot his S&W 442 in his backpack at Indianapolis International Airport and got busted at the TSA checkpoint.

To add insult to injury, now we all know he carries 90gr Critical Defense Lite in the Fuddiest manner possible: with an empty chamber under the hammer.
Police spoke with Epps, who told them he was in town for a show at Gainbridge Fieldhouse and forgot the handgun was inside his backpack.

According to the report, police found a .38 Special Airweight revolver, loaded with four rounds of Hornady .38 special ammo, the spot in the cylinder with the firing pin was empty.
This is a DAO revolver with an enclosed, rebounding hammer and floating frame-mounted firing pin. You could use a fully-loaded Centennial as a hockey puck without it discharging.

Don't be like Mike. Check your bags before you get to the airport, people.


Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Automotif CCCL...

Probably the low-water mark for the North American import Mercedes-Benz SL-class, performance-wise at least, was the '81-'85 380SL.

It replaced the 4.5L V-8 of the earlier 450SL with a 3.8L SOHC V-8 that was rated at 155 SAE net bhp in U.S. trim, a haircut of 25 horsepower from the preceding model. The '79 Oil Crisis had left a bad taste in the public's mouth for "gas guzzlers". Further, the federally-mandated Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards for imported marques rose from 19.0 miles per gallon for the 1979 model year to 27.5 for the '85s.

It all seemed pretty par for the course in the early Eighties, which was the peak of "Decal & Ground Effects" performance packages that added very little real performance. You can see how people watching cars get slower and dumber year after year would write books like The Probability Broach. We had no idea how close we were to the renaissance.


Helpin' a Brother Out...

Hey, do you have kids or grandkids (or know someone with kids or grandkids) who could use a book about firearms safety?

Yehuda Remer is a nice dude and he's got a little children's book called Safety On: An Introduction to the World of Firearms for Children which is all about how a kid learns about safe gun handling, storage, and ownership from his dad. It's charmingly illustrated and an easy read for a young elementary schooler.

What do you call a snowflake made of milk?

Apparently a bunch of senators have been lobbied by Big Dairy to propose some vital legislation that would prevent things that weren't squirted out of udders being referred to in commerce as "milk".

Tuesday, March 07, 2023


The crocuses are truly exceptional this year in SoBro. 

They're always such a joy to see!

The top two photos were with the Canon EOS 1D Mark IV, while the one below was snapped with the Nikon D2X.


It's rare that I run into a truly unsatisfying experience with a lens. There are certain known lemons in the lens world that I stay way from, but generally if you are using Nikon or Canon glass other than the jankiest older kit lenses, things will be dandy as long as you're mindful of the camera on which you mount them.

It's when resolutions go up, especially on larger sensors, that the weaknesses of cheaper lenses can become apparent. I've mentioned before how lenses that turn out tack sharp images on the 12MP Nikon D700 get underwhelming on the 36MP D800.

Yesterday I had a chance to see the results from an old Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens on a Canon EOS-1D Mark IV.

Not a lens for pixel peeping, or at least my copy isn't. Works okay on the older 10MP 1D Mark III, though.

If it offered a huge size or weight benefit over the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS, I might be more charitable to it, but its only advantage is price. The 28-135 goes for $150-$175 in used-but-nice shape on BezosMart, while the vastly superior 24-105/4L can be found used for as low as five bills.


Automotif CCCXLIX...

In the late Sixties, Buick elevated the Gran Sport from an option package on the Skylark into its own model, following the trail blazed by Pontiac with the GTO and Oldsmobile’s 442.

With General Motors dropping its in-house 400 cubic inch displacement cap in midsize cars for the 1970 model year, the motor in the Buick GS swole up to 455 cubes, putting out 350bhp and a whopping 510 ft/lbs of torque. If that wasn't enough, you could opt for the "Stage 1" option package that added a bunch of performance modifications, yet mysteriously added only a claimed 10 horsepower bump.

Insurance companies might have been fooled by the 360bhp rating, but the timing lights weren't. Even Motor Trend managed to crank off mid-13 second E.T.'s from their Stage 1 test car, putting it in rarefied company back then*.

This super clean Diplomat Blue 1970 convertible lacks the Stage 1 package, but I wouldn't kick it out of the garage for leaking oil.

*It's easy to forget, given the rose-tinted glasses through which Boomers and us GenX'ers viewed the Muscle Car era during the automotive dark ages of the late '70s and early '80s, that even during its absolute heyday in '68-'71, the number of cars that would run a quarter in the 13s in stock trim off the showroom floor could be counted in most years without pulling off both socks. 

You could get big motors in the Mustang-Camaro-'Cuda pony cars, but they tended to be traction-limited; nose-heavy and not enough rubber and weight to get the power to the ground. Conversely, the full-size cars were generally too heavy, no matter what monster mill lurked under the hood. Other than the hairiest Corvettes, only a handful of big-motored midsize cars in any given year could lay down an honest sub-14 second run in factory form.

Monday, March 06, 2023

Rat Bike!

Check out this agglomeration of parts that have been bodged together into a funky neighborhood putterer...

Yes, he's rigged up a hand shift lever. No, there aren't any brakes on that front wheel, making the disc purely ceremonial. Yes, the front wheel is from a mountain bicycle.

Yes, that's a Thrush automobile muffler. The "truck nutz" really tie the whole thing together, though.


What makes a classic?

Blogging has occurred at the other place.

Relatedly, this 27-year-old Gen2 Glock 19 has outlived its second set of night sights. Time to put some Trijicon HD XR's on it like I've been meaning to.

Truth in Advertising

Sunday, March 05, 2023


Bobbi and I went for a walk yesterday afternoon and stopped to visit with one of our favorite neighbors.

He was hanging out by the bench and trash can there at the side of the Monon Trail. He let Bobbi pet him some, but was a little more aloof and cranky than usual. Possibly he was dealing with a bit of attention overload from the steady stream of people, both big and little, and their dogs...also both big and little...using the trail on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

At least we got him to do a bit of posing for the camera!

Just using the old D2X and trusty 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II superzoom.



Over on Facebook, John Correia was tickled by the fact that the Auburn 852 Phaeton in the previous post had a Lycoming engine, what with John being a private pilot and Lycoming being best known these days as a provider of engines for general aviation aircraft.

What I learned while digging up info on the car was pretty interesting. Lycoming's roots go back to a Nineteenth Century sewing machine manufacturer that had, by the fin de siècle, diversified into the typical array of Second Industrial Revolution manufactured mechanical goods: bicycles, typewriters, et cetera.

In 1907, in the middle of the economic contraction surrounding the Panic of 1907, the company was sold and restructured. Sewing machines not being as profitable as they had been, it stuck its corporate toe in the growing market for automobile engines. (In those early days cars were assembled from pieces by engine makers and coach builders, generally. Those "Body by Fisher" emblems on the scuff plates of your Grandma's Bonneville were a vestige of that.)

After the Great War, Lycoming had grown to become, among other things, pretty much the sole source provider of engines to the luxury trio of Auburn, Cord, & Duesenberg, enough so that E.L. Cord bought the company and brought it under his corporate umbrella. At the time, aviation was experiencing the same explosive growth that the automobile industry had been twenty years earlier, and Cord got Lycoming involved in developing engines for his new aero endeavors.

And now you know the rest of the story!

In the late '30s, Cord consolidated Lycoming and its other aviation assets under the "AVCO Lycoming" umbrella, which is still around and has been known to make a gas turbine or two.

Saturday, March 04, 2023

Automotif CCCXLVIII...

I'd forgotten about this one. I spotted it back on the 11th of January and just never got around to posting it.

That's a 1936 Auburn 852 Phaeton out tooling around on the city streets with more pedestrian automobiles around it to provide proper scale.

This is from the second-to-last year of production for Auburn (and its Cord and Duesenberg stablemates). With the Great Depression crippling the market for ultrapremium luxury cars, they ceased production after the '37 model year.

The 852 came in normally-aspirated and supercharged versions. This is one of the former, and it's powered by a 280 cubic inch flathead Lycoming straight-8 with a 2-barrel carburetor, rated at 115 horsepower. Power is fed through a three-speed manual transmission to a dual ratio rear end. The driver can select between final drive ratios via a lever on the steering wheel hub.

You talkin' to me?

"Blue Steel!"

Sometimes you can get them to pose just right!

"Come at me, bro!"

Both photos are from Thursday's walk to lunch with the Nikon D2X & 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II combo.

It's almost twenty years old now, but I still get a ton of use out of it. I'll keep using it until it succumbs to some unfixable malady.

With the right lens, it can still take a bangin' photo.

We've been warning you!

If you want to give tanks to Ukraine, not only do you need to have the tanks to spare in the first place, but they need to actually be in running order and not mothballed off in some corner someplace, half-cannibalized for spares.
Some German officials expressed sympathy for Finland, which is not yet a NATO member and has Europe’s longest border with Russia, some 830 miles. It does not want to weaken its defenses now that Russia has shown a willingness to attack a sovereign neighbor.

But some European officials were hoping for a larger contribution from Finland, given promises from the United States and Britain to come to its defense if necessary, even before NATO accession.

Nordic countries such as Sweden, which had long pushed for Leopard deliveries but on Friday offered only “up to” 10, are facing another unexpected problem, several German officials said: While their politicians and members of the public appear keen to offer tanks to Ukraine, their militaries are not.

For decades, European countries enjoying a post-Cold War “peace dividend” had seen war as almost a thing of the past, regularly cutting military support. Now, the shrunken armies tend to be protective of what they still have. At NATO, European militaries are sometimes called “bonsai armies,” after the miniature trees.
A whole generation has grown up after the Cold War and let formerly muscular defenses atrophy. The Bundeswehr is an underfunded shadow of its former self. It used to be the brawniest army on the continent and now it has fewer MBTs than the Greeks. And if the Bundeswehr is in such a sad state, imagine what, say, the Dutch or the Belgies are looking like these days.

War just wasn't a thing that was gonna happen anymore in the new globalized world. What were you? Some kind of paranoid loon that thought Russia was just going to start invading neighboring countries?

Hey, they started back during the last years of the GWB administration and basically haven't stopped since.


Friday, March 03, 2023


Whatever the NE Ohio Regional Sewer District is paying their social media person, it's not enough.

Sleepytime reading...

Holden appears to have nodded off with a copy of Dashiell Hammett: Man of Mystery. It's Bobbi's book and she says it's quite good, but a lot of the words might be too big for a young tomcat and it probably doesn't have many pictures of birds.

Automotif CCCXLVII...

Photographed with a Nikon D2X & 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II

Here's a sinister-looking murdered-out 1980 or '81 Chevrolet Camaro Z28.

The factory motor would have been a 350cid LM1 V8, rated at 185bhp in 1980. The '81 model year introduced new emissions controls that dropped the horsepower rating to 175.

1981-1983 was probably the absolute low point of automotive performance in the US. The lardy 175-horse 3500-lb boulevardier 1981 Z28 would have squared off against its rival from Dearborn, the Mustang. For the '81 Model year, the top version of the Mustang was the Cobra, with lots of decals and aero doodads.

The Cobra was 900 pounds lighter than the Z28, since the latter was riding on an eleven-year-old platform* that had been designed when Sunoco high test was 35 cents a gallon and CAFE regs were half a decade in the future, while the Mustang was on its third model year of the then-new Fox body. However the top performance motor for the Mustang was the anemic 255cid V8 that sipped gas through a dinky Motorcraft 2bbl carb and only spit out 120 horsepower.

Basically even though the Camaro had been reduced to a plush-bottomed shell of its former wild-eyed glory, it'd still maul the dismally-underpowered Mustang. Those tables wouldn't turn again until Ford stuffed a Holley 4bbl 5.0 under the hood in '83.

Considering that they sold a blue million 2nd Generation Camaros over the eleven-year run of the body style, you don't see a ton of them on the street. I'd wager that rust got a bunch and telephone poles got a bunch more.

*This resulted in an odd situation on Chevy lots in the late-'70s/early-'80s in that the Chevy Malibu, their bread-and-butter midsize sedan, and the Monte Carlo "personal luxury coupe" had already gone through a round of downsizing and thus had the same length wheelbase and were actually a couple hundred pounds lighter than the "sporty 2+2" Camaro.