Thursday, August 31, 2023

Selection and Deselection

If you haven't read Gorillafritz's excellent piece on spotting a potential assailant via behavioral cues (aka "pre-assault indicators"), you should fix that.

I highly recommend it.


Screwing up by the numbers...

At first I thought this was going to be a typical "Parents need to secure their guns better" story.

Basically, 16-y.o. kid sees someone rifling through mom's minivan in the driveway and then, after the guy has already closed the door and started walking away, kid fires two shots from his upstairs bedroom window. He hit the car burglar in the back, and the dude staggered a couple doors down the street, whereupon he collapsed in a neighbor's yard and expired.

So my first read of the incident was "Gosh, lady, if you had kept your gun locked up, your kid wouldn't be up on homicide charges right now."

But wait! There's more!

It turns out that the teenager wasn't the only one in the house with an absolute and total lack of discerning legal judgment that night. Turns out mom was no Einstein herself.
According to court documents, when police spoke with the 16-year-old, he told them, "My mom got cameras, I checked. Dude got a ski mask, hoodie, checking every car in the neighborhood..."

The shooting suspect's mother allegedly told police she woke up from the Ring camera and was scared. She called for her son, and she said he then got a gun. According to court documents, the mother then said, "He shoot two, two times I think."

Police claim they found ammo, along with two spent shell casings, in the 16-year-old's bedroom, and a 9mm gun in the mother's room.
If the prosecutor is feeling froggy, mom could get fitted for an orange jumpsuit alongside her offspring on charges of IC 35-47-10-6 - Dangerous control of a firearm, but she'd have the defense of being too dumb to realize that sniping dudes in the back from the second floor was a felony.

Folks, for the umpteenth time, your gun is not a Batman Badge.

Here's my periodic reminder that "the basic standard of "A reasonable fear of immediate, otherwise unavoidable, death or grievous bodily harm to yourself or another innocent person" applies everywhere. In your car or in your yard, in your home, while you roam, or on a boat while afloat. Otherwise you may not shoot them, Sam I Am."

You can't just whack a dude for rifling through your glove box, nor can you ask your kid to do it for you.


Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Blogiversary? Oops.

A couple days ago while I wasn't paying attention, this blog turned eighteen.

That's right, View From The Porch is old enough to vote. That's a lot in blog years.

Eighteen years, seventeen thousand eight hundred and twenty eight posts, one goofy page template.


When shooting turns into work...

You know what's a pain?

Trying to do range sessions of a hundred or more rounds at a time with a Beretta Tomcat when you only have the one seven-round magazine.

Load seven rounds in the magazine, pop the barrel up and load an eighth round in the chamber, fire one shot double-action and then try and remember to count rounds because the Tomcat really doesn't like being dry-fired and the manual has a sternly worded admonition against it right there on Page 10.

So you have a pistol that doesn't like being dry-fired, but has no mechanism to hold the slide open after the last shot in the mag is fired. Outstanding engineering there, Giuseppe.

At any rate, to shoot up all the ammo in the picture required going through this tedious process fifteen times.



Oh, Chicago!

This just in from the Ministry of Irony:
"As a Chicago TV crew was covering a spike in armed robberies, their reporting took an ironic twist Monday when they were robbed at gunpoint while filming.

A reporter and photographer were about to film a live shot before 5 a.m. in the Wicker Park neighborhood, when a black SUV and a gray sedan pulled up, the Chicago Police Department said in a statement to The Washington Post. Three male suspects left the vehicles “wearing ski masks and displaying firearms” at the TV crew.

The men demanded money from the crew before stealing the camera used to film the story on robberies, as well as two bags of equipment and the photographer’s backpack...
Back during the crime-ridden '70s and '80s, New York City TV stations began using unmarked vans for news crews. The advertising value of the bright logos splashed on the side was being outweighed by the "Hey, there's valuable stuff to steal in here" signal sent by the same lettering.


Tuesday, August 29, 2023


 Local legend Rusty modeling the t-shirt celebrating every GenX kid's first favorite band...

Rusty, taken with a Nikon 1 V1 & 1 Nikkor 32mm f/1.2

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #247...

Beretta 3032 Tomcat Inox, currently getting the snot shot out of it for an article in RECOIL: Concealment magazine.

By the way, the current issue of the mag, #34, should be on newsstands now, and I've got a few pieces in it, including a retrospective on the Springfield Armory Professional Model.

Automotif CCCXCIV...

Here's a 1988 Honda Prelude Si in Granada Black.

Performance was well along the comeback trail by the late Eighties. The '88 Prelude Si featured a 2.0L DOHC fuel-injected four cylinder putting out 135bhp, which isn't a lot by today's standards, but compare that to the dark days of 1980, when 135 was what you could expect from a smog motor carbureted V8 in a Camaro. A 1980 Prelude only had 75 horsepower.

It's even got a 1988 year-of-manufacture license plate!


Monday, August 28, 2023

Useless Karens

I often refer to NextDoor as "Karens dot com", and for good reason.

While it might be useful for parting with the occasional used appliance, getting a recommendation for a local tree removal service, or posting lost dog notices, the vast majority of the content on the site is an annoying morass of Gladys Kravitzes with too much time on their hands airing their beefs and paranoid fantasies.
"Just a heads up. There was a group of Black youths with backpacks walking down Elm Street at 8AM this morning and they were looking around at the houses."

"Lady, you're a block away from Elm Street Elementary. I think I can crack this case."
As an example of how useless the site is as a neighborhood news service, witness the following.

My out-of-town friends and I were having lunch at the new location of The Gallery Pastry Shop, down at 46th & College Avenue a couple Thursdays ago, when we noticed that the air outside was thick with smoke. So thick, as a matter of fact, that the air inside the restaurant was pungent with the smell of it in short order.

Pretty soon various IFD vehicles came streaming by. Obviously there was a pretty good size fire a block or two to our west.

When we left the restaurant, we went to go see if we could do some rubbernecking, and boy howdy...

Yup, that's a bleepin' fire alright. A big one, tying up a good percentage of the IFD's gear on the near north side. We counted at least six big-ass fire engines, to say nothing of all the smaller vehicles.

Searching NextDoor over the next several days? Crickets. 

Well, not crickets, exactly, just the usual chatter about missing pets and suspiciously parked cars. Not bupkis on the ginormous house fire, though.

Thanks, Karens.



When friends came to visit the other week, we strolled through the sculpture garden at the Indianapolis Arts Center up in Broad Ripple village.

I had my Nikon Coolpix A with me. I'm still working at seeing in wide angle.

Black Titan by John Spaulding

Dave Merrill checking out Twisted House, by John McNaughton

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Automotif CCCXCIII...

Here's the cousin of yesterday's Continental, a Mercury Marquis (or Grand Marquis) from '75-'77. It's hard to pick the year because they hardly changed over that time. Its current owner wants you to know it's packing the 460 V-8.

This was the pinnacle of size for FoMoCo sedans. The mid-'70s Continental, Marquis, and LTD were enormous cars. The final year before the downsizing, a '78 Grand Marquis with the 460cid mill stretched 229 inches between the bumpers and tipped the scales at over 4600 pounds. That's nearly two feet longer than a current base F-150.

In the early '80s my mom's trusty Malibu wagon gasped its last and my folks bought the Mercury Colony Park station wagon the neighbors across the street were selling, basically a Grand Marquis that could transport a whole soccer team. Us kids thought it was cool because it had every plush-bottomed luxo feature in Ford's arsenal at the time. Alas, that experiment lasted only a week or so, if I recall correctly, before mom refused to continue trying to negotiate parking lots and narrow streets with that four-wheeled supertanker.


Saturday, August 26, 2023

Automotif CCCXCII...

Here's a 1974 Lincoln Continental sedan in Medium Beige...although when you slather that color over that much sheet metal, it should probably be "Venti Beige". It weighed in at almost 5400 pounds and was available with any engine you wanted as long as it was a 4-bbl 460 V-8, rated at 215bhp SAE Net.


I LOL'ed

Friday, August 25, 2023

Getting Hammered

There's nothing inherently more modern about a striker-fired design.
"Indeed, John Browning’s first commercially successful semi-automatic pistol design, the FN Model 1899, was striker-fired. There’s nothing new except what’s been forgotten.

Here’s a thing that you had to be around in the 1980s and ’90s to really appreciate: Back when it was new, Glock received nearly as much pushback from traditionalists for the striker-fired action as it did for the polymer frame, and the reason for that is the same reason Glock used a striker in the first place. They’re cheap to make.

I was thumbing through a 1992 firearm-buyer’s guide annual from some magazine or another the other day, and it was notable just how few pistols used strikers back then. Other than the Glock and H&K’s weird platypus P7 series, striker-fired operation was pretty much the sole province of inexpensive zinc-alloy blowback guns from the sort of manufacturers at which brand-conscious buyers would turn up their noses. Because striker-fired pistols are cheap to make.

The FN1899 on the right is striker-fired. So's the Savage 1917 on the left. That thing that looks like a hammer spur is just an external cocking lever.


Misplaced Priorities

The place you are most likely to die in America is your own home, and it's almost certainly not going to be in a gun battle with a team of ninja hit men like some sort of Dollar Tree John Wick.
"When it comes to preventable death, car accidents account for only a little over 20 percent of them — a whopping 70 percent of deaths actually occur inside the home. Per the CDC and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC), the top five causes inside the home are poisoning, falls, suffocation, drowning, and fires."
If you have a pre-staged home-defense long gun but don't have a carbon monoxide detector, you are quite simply not living in the real world.


Projectile Monkeys

From the time our Australopithecine ancestors took to bipedaling their way across the savanna, our signature trait was being able to throw things at other things. 

By the time H. erectus came along, the orientation of the shoulder the torso, the twist to the humerus, the tendons and ligaments to store energy, and the waist mobility that lets us throw from the hips were all there. Our fastballs have just been getting better ever since.

Humans are the only primates that can throw the way we do.

Sure, our chimpanzee and gorilla kin are much stronger, but they throw like wimps. Only H. sapiens throws hard enough to kill.

In fact, the fastest motion generated by the human body is the rotation of the humerus during a hard throw.

Our projectile-oriented nature is thought by some to be a reason hunter-gatherer societies tend to be more egalitarian, less hierarchal, than either the typical primate troop or later, settled agricultural or urban ones. If one or two dudes in a hunter-gatherer tribe got too big for their britches, it was too easy for the rest of the group to stand off at a distance and pelt him with rocks...or spears, or arrows.
"Boehm has discovered that, among the tribal and hunter-gatherer human societies he studies, the development of projectile weapons is a key step in the growth and maintenance of equality: it puts the strong at greater risk from the weak. Such weaponry is one reason that human societies are more equalized than those of other primates.

But weapons aren’t enough to make equality last. Boehm finds that, to really maintain the new social order, the dominated need to trust one another. They must have stable social bonds and anticipate a long future together. Most important, they must be able to communicate effectively.
I first ran across the ideas Boehm is talking about in the Peter Turchin book, Ultrasociety: How 10,000 Years of War Made Humans the Greatest Cooperators on Earth. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend doing so.


Thursday, August 24, 2023

Written in the Book of Lore

I've related the tale here on the blog about the time my dad sprung me from school to see a Cubs game at Wrigley Field before they installed lights in the old ballpark.

Thing is, I couldn't remember the exact day, and I also couldn't remember who the opponent was, but I do remember one thing: Dave "King Kong" Kingman was batting for the other team. I will not forget that nickname, or the sight of that 6'6" dude standing at home plate.

Well, doing a little bit of research, Kingman started the '77 season playing for the Mets and got traded to the Padres. But he didn't get traded until June, by which time we had already moved to Georgia, because I finished the last month or so of the school year in ATL.

So it was a home game against the Mets on a school day in April or May, and there was only one of those. The Cubbies opened the season with a 3-game home stand against the NY Mets: 4/7, 4/9, 4/10... and the 9th & 10th were Saturday and Sunday.

So dad took me to the Cubs' opener in 1977 against the Mets. That's pretty frickin' cool.

Put me in, coach!

I've mentioned that the nearest IndyGo Red Line station is about a five minute walk from the house. From there it's about a twenty minute ride to the Statehouse station on Washington Street, and then a fifteen minute walk to Victory Field, aka "the Camden Yards of the Minor Leagues".

Ever since the Red Line went in, I've been promising myself that I was going to grab a camera and get to an Indians day game, but never got around to it. On a whim, earlier this month I checked the schedule and noticed that there were only two weekday day games left this season, so...

I mentioned it in a photography group on the Book of Faces, and my friend and fellow Hoosier shutterbug, Jordan, said he'd be up for it, so plans were made to catch yesterday's matinee against the Iowa Cubs.

I hopped off the bus, strolled to the stadium, and found Jordan having staked out our seats and noshing on the best-looking Chicago dog this side of Wrigley Field. 

Folks, you can't get seats like these for eighteen bucks at Yankee Stadium, let me tell you.

It was blistering hot, and we had the lower part of Section 107, right behind third base, to ourselves. That meant having a view like this when the catcher ran down a popup. (The blur in the bottom of the photo is the dugout railing.)

The Indians are Pittsburgh's AAA team, so you've got a mix of journeyman minor leaguers, some of whom have had brief stints in the big show, as well as up-and-coming recent draftees and rehabbing Major Leaguers. It's real baseball for sure.

I was using the 70-200mm f/4L IS on the Canon EOS 7D, since the 1.6X crop factor on the 7D makes it effectively a 112-320mm lens. I think next time I'll use the 70-200mm f/2.8L and the 2X extender on the 1D Mark IV.


Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Space Race News

On the heels of the Russian probe making like a Baikonur lawn dart in the lunar surface, the Indian space program has successfully landed its probe and is ready to go lunar roving.
Two visitors from India — a lander named Vikram and a rover named Pragyan — landed in the southern polar region of the moon on Wednesday. The two robots, from a mission named Chandrayaan-3, make India the first country to ever reach this part of the lunar surface in one piece — and only the fourth country ever to land on the moon.



2019 was a nadir for my blogging. That whole year only saw 567 posts here at VFTP.

There's more content of late, since this is the 569th post so far in 2023. Hopefully I keep writing more, because the more I write, the easier it is to write. I need to get back in the habit.


Hey, look!

"The new Reflex from FN America hit the market in the spring of this year with basic stats similar to the other inhabitants of the category. It’s a 9 mm pistol that measures slightly larger than 6 inches in overall length and crams a flush-fit 11-round staggered magazine into a sub-5-inch height. Attentive readers will note that these dimensions drop it roughly into the overall concealment envelope of a J-frame-size revolver, albeit with a width much narrower than that imposed by a wheelgun’s cylinder.

At launch, the Reflex is available in two basic variants, regular and MRD (which is FN-speak for “cut to accept a slide-mounted micro red dot”), differing by 60 bucks in the MSRP department.

At first glance, they look like 509s that someone has left in the dryer too long, but a closer examination reveals that these are actually two very different pistols, and they are far from just another “me too” P365/Hellcat clone.
Click through to RTWT.

"What Gun for Bear?", NYC Edition

When you're only forty or so miles from Central Park, a bear attack has got to be the last thing on your mind, and yet here we are.

The lady who got interviewed in the clip was like "We live in the woods" which is an odd way to describe "between the Target and the golf course", but there are a lot of trees there, so I guess it technically meets the definition. 

I mean, I spent a lot of time in the woods behind our suburban Atlanta house when I was growing up and I can tell you that a bear attack...or even sighting any animal larger than a stray dog...was never a thing I considered within the realm of possibility.


Tuesday, August 22, 2023

QotD: Rubber Gun Edition...

Claude dispenses wisdom:
"Anyone who considers themselves a serious student of the Art should have an inert pistol of some sort. You can use it to practice things you can’t safely do with a real pistol. A SIRT gun is an ideal tool for this but not everyone is willing to spring that kind of cash. For less than the cost of a box of ammo, you can get a training aid that can be used in many different ways."
I agree wholeheartedly.

I would go further and suggest an inert duplicate of your actual carry gun that allows you to use your carry holster is a sound investment.

The Legend That Won't Die

Over at Commander Zero's place, I ran across this blurb:
Functionally, both should, in theory, have an advantage over the AR-15 in terms of reliability due to the gas systems of the 180 and JAKL not venting gases into the receiver. Although, to be fair, if you fire enough .223 in one session to gum up your AR you probably have a much bigger problem on your hand. But, on the other hand, a system that can be indifferent to the occasional benign neglect is always nice. You don’t always have time to detail clean your gun at the end of the day.
My reaction was something like this:

So, when I took that carbine class from Pat Rogers, he had me using "Filthy 14", rather than my own blaster. I know it had been cleaned once back around the 26,000-round mark, but I'm not sure it had been cleaned since, although some grime was probably knocked off as parts were replaced on schedule. 

It was certainly dirty enough to spew a fine mist of carbon mixed with Slip 2000 with every shot. Seriously, the gun was so filthy that I got freckled on my hands and cheeks with garbage blowing out of the receiver. Keep it lubed and it will run.

I don't know that my current school carbine has ever been what you'd call "cleaned", outside of having a bore snake pulled through it a few times. It stays well-lubed and that's about it, now that all it gets used for is classes. (If I were still using it, rather than a gauge, as a house gun, I'd keep it cleaned on general principles.) 

No matter how many times this pre-GWOT myth gets debunked, it somehow lingers in the collective consciousness of a segment of the gun-owning community.

(IMO, the main reason to prefer a piston gun to a DI one is if you're running a suppressor. The increased back pressure can spew a lot of nastiness into the shooter's face with a direct impingement gun.)


A Bit of Consistency, Please?

Someone at Metrocon Fortnightly demonstrates a bit of ideological consistency regarding the latest overhyped culture war anthem:
I don’t understand the adulation on the right for this song’s message.

Anthony sings:

I’ve been sellin’ my soul, workin’ all day
Overtime hours for bullshit pay
So I can sit out here and waste my life away
Drag back home and drown my troubles away

My brother in Christ, you live in the United States of America in 2023 — if you’re a fit, able-bodied man, and you’re working “overtime hours for bullshit pay,” you need to find a new job.

There’s plenty of them out there — jobs that don’t require a college degree, that offer good pay (especially in this tight labor market) and great benefits, especially if you’re willing to get your hands dirty by doing things like joining the Navy, turning wrenches, fixing pumps, laying pipe, or a hundred other jobs through which American men can still make a great living. If you’re the type of guy who’s willing to show up on time, every time, work hard while you’re on the clock, and learn hard skills — there’s a good-paying job out there for you. Go find it.
Everybody else be all like...

Danger Signs

E.B. Misfit linked to a banger of a piece at Vanity Fair on the Titan disaster:
Fortunately, I knew enough to speak to a few people before I got anywhere near the Titan. One phone call was all it took.

Terry Kerby, the veteran chief pilot of the University of Hawaii’s two deep-sea subs, the Pisces IV and the Pisces V, recoiled when I asked him what he thought about OceanGate. “Be careful of that,” he warned. “That guy has the whole submersible community really concerned. He’s just basically ignoring all the major engineering rules.” He paused to make sure this had sunk in, and then added emphatically: “Do not get into that sub. He is going to have a major accident.”
It looks like it's an excerpt from a book, which I just added to my Kindle stack. Her prose really pops*, so the book should be a good read. I've had an interest in subs dating back to early childhood field trips to the U-505 and an old National Geographic with a copiously-illustrated story on the Trieste.

*Bobbi was just commenting that the contraction of the magazine industry has left us with fewer magazines, but generally better ones. (Ignoring zombie husks of former magazines, like Newsweek, that shamble around the internet devouring people's brains.)

Monday, August 21, 2023

Cursed Ground

From an article at The Economist:
But even as calm has been mostly restored to Tigray, the northern region at the centre of Ethiopia’s two-year war, heavy fighting has spread across Amhara, a neighbouring region that is home to the country’s second-largest ethnic group. In early August, Amhara militias known as Fano swept into towns and cities, briefly taking over several of them. They attacked police stations and garrisons, freed prisoners and intermittently took control of the airport of Lalibela, Ethiopia’s most popular tourist town. Local officials fled. The government responded by sending in the army, shutting down the internet across the region and declaring a state of emergency.
Now there's a phrase I hadn't expected to encounter: "Ethiopia's most popular tourist town". (Now that I think about it, though, Lalibela is the home of those amazing underground stone churches that Bobbi and I saw in an episode of of Cities of the Underground, so it stands to reason that it'd get some tourism.)

Ethiopia was one of the few parts of Africa that had enough of a long-established government that it was able to resist Euro colonizers in the Nineteenth Century, but when Mussolini rolled in in the 1930s, it seemed to permanently jinx the place and it's been a mess ever since.

There's been a pretty steady stream of refugees fleeing across the Bab-el-Mandab Strait into Yemen, hoping to eventually make it to Saudi Arabia or the Gulf States. (You know things in Ethiopia are bad if people are fleeing towards Yemen, which is one of the world's foremost hot messes at the moment.)

Anyway, if the world had an armpit, it would probably be located somewhere along the Saudi-Yemeni border, which is a godforsaken mess of mountains and desert and mountainous desert. And when the Ethiopians get to it, hoping to slip across into Saudi Arabia...they're apparently getting machine gunned and mortared in droves.
Border guards in Saudi Arabia have regularly opened fire on African migrants seeking to cross into the kingdom from Yemen, killing hundreds of men, women and children in a recent 15-month period, Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Monday.

The guards have beaten the migrants with rocks and bars, forced male migrants to rape women while guards watched and shot detained migrants in their limbs, leading to permanent injuries and amputations, the report said.

Trey Deuce

At some point in recent years while I wasn't paying attention, KelTec discontinued the P3AT, but the long moribund P32 has returned to the catalog. Let's hope that Ruger continues its recent practice of copying off KelTec's paper?

I've said it before and I'll say it again, there's hardly a .380 pocket gun that wouldn't be better off chambered in 7.65 Browning. 

The Glock 42 would bump its capacity to probably eight rounds and be easier to shoot. 

Beretta's 80X Cheetah is really cool and all, but I'd be unable to resist an 81X with a sixteen round magazine in .32 Auto.

As things stand, I'd load a .32 with FMJ to maximize penetration, but Hornady's XTP works okay in the chambering, too. A carefully-designed solid copper hollow point* could probably turn in solid penetrative performance while offering expansion and more resistance to deflection.

Picture a world where a .32ACP LTT 81X Elite is an actual thing.

*Current ones tend to expand too quickly and underpenetrate as a result.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Lazy Cat

Huck has the right idea for a lazy weekend morning. It's going to be hot and sticky all week, with temps in the nineties, dew points in the seventies, and heat indexes over a hundred...all week long.

Chilling out in the air conditioning of Roseholme Cottage feels like a good idea at the moment.


Saturday, August 19, 2023

Automotif CCCXCI...

Here's a lovely late-'80s Alfa Romeo Spider in the base trim level for the US market. Dubbed the "Graduate", to trigger nostalgia in its Boomer target demographic, who were just hitting their peak roadster-buying years, it was a stripped version of the car with vinyl top and seats and minimal amenities.

The interior is very Eighties Euro, all angular and futuristic.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Chains of Love

I'd never really watched chain being made before.

That's... that's a lot of work. In the days before its manufacture could be even partially automated, a lot of skilled labor went into every single foot of chain. A heavy chain like that could not have been inexpensive.

I don't know how much chain a good smith could turn out in a day, but there's gotta be nearly as much work in six or eight feet of chain as there is in a half-decent sword (if not more), and I know those weren't cheap.

(Shot these photos on Wednesday morning with the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and the EF 70-200mm f/4L IS.)


Thursday, August 17, 2023

Y'know what's cool?

I can pull my bicycle out of the garage at 9:30 in the morning, and by quarter 'til ten, I've locked the bike to the fence at the Fairgrounds, bought my ticket, gone through the magnetometer, and I'm strolling to Pioneer Village with a smile on my face and a song in my heart, ready to take some pictures.

It can take more than fifteen minutes just to park when you drive your car to the Fair.


Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Final Week

Only three days of picture taking at the State Fair left for me this year...

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

QotD: Tactical Talisman Edition

Gorillafritz dropping clue bombs regarding a classic bit of derpy gun counter lore:
Does that mean you should choose a shotgun for home defense because it has a built in potential deterrent mechanism? No. I don’t think that’s the right answer. A criminal who flees at the sound of a racking shotgun will also likely flee when you yell out to him that you’ve called the police. He would likely flee at the sight of ANY gun being pointed at him as well. There’s nothing magical about the shotgun.
You should RTWT.


Just speculating...

That list of co-defendants in the Georgia indictment has a couple interesting names on it. 

Jenna Ellis has been on Team DeSantis for a while now and been engaged in various social media spats with prominent denizens of Trumpworld, and Mark Meadows is an absolute self-serving invertebrate, so I wonder who's on the phone with the Fulton DA looking to cut a deal in exchange for testifying?


That Cold War Vibe

Our NATO allies had to scramble F16s to scope out a couple of Russkie Tu-95s the other day, just like the bad old days...
The Netherlands and Denmark deployed F-16 fighter jets Monday as two Russian bombers approached NATO airspace over the North Sea. The Russian planes turned back after being identified and never left international airspace.


Every year they keep moving it up.

We are solidly in the dog days of summer here. It's the sticky middle of August. Back in the day, this was when Louis Awerbuck would show up in Boone County and you could melt in the sun while getting your learning on. I've still got a week of State Fair left; three more weekdays of lemon shake-ups and fried meat on a stick and feeding baby goats and such.

And on the televisor in the next room I just heard one of the talking heads on the TODAY show say that we're a couple weeks out from Dunkin' Spice coffee hitting store shelves.

Which means we'll be hearing Christmas music shortly after Labor Day, mark my words.


Monday, August 14, 2023

QotD: State Of Social Media Edition...

Mike Johnston, telling it like it is:
"Sigh. I would love to have that many viewers. Unfortunately, to accomplish that, I'd have to be making videos, writing only about products, and relentlessly structuring my my content as clickbait—not only in the title, but in the body of the content."
Mysterious 'bot storms will occasionally cause the spike he noted. It's such a weird internet artifact.


Fossils at the Fair, Part 1

Surely a fourteen year old camera is a useless fossil, right?

Not so fast...

The Canon EOS 5D Mark II hit the market in November of 2008. It sported a 21MP full-frame sensor and was the first Canon DSLR (and the first full-frame DSLR from anyone) capable of recording 1080p HD video. The 5D Mark II was used to shoot things as diverse as the opening credits of Saturday Night Live, whole episodes of House, and scenes in Hollywood movies like Act of Valor and The Avengers.

At launch, the MSRP for the camera was $2,699 without a lens. Nowadays you can pick up a nice used body for $350 or less, which is about as inexpensive as a good full-frame DSLR gets. A lot of these cameras were picked up by enthusiastic amateurs based on the hype and then sat largely unused until their owners decided to trade them in on some new mirrorless hotness or other. Batteries are still available new and of course you can use the entire library of Canon EF lenses without having to worry about an adaptor.

One of the attractions of using the Canon EF lens mount are its "L"-series lenses, identified by their red rings, high quality construction, premium optics, and (typically) enormous price tags.

The latest version of the L-series midrange zoom, the 24-70mm f/2.8L II, goes for something like eighteen hundred bucks at BezosMart, but you can get the older version from the 1990s, the 28-70mm f/2.8L, for around six bills at KEH Camera Brokers if you're willing to settle for "Bargain" grade. (And you should be, because KEH grades very conservatively. Their 'BGN' would be 'VG+' most places.)

Introduced in 1993, the 28-70mm f/2.8L was noted for its optical qualities and indeed still holds its own at DxOMark. I use mine on my 50MP EOS 5DS without worrying about it not being sharp enough on the super high res sensor.

So there you go. If you're willing to shop used, you can get a very competent professional DSLR body and lens setup for eighty percent off.

Sunday, August 13, 2023


There's something about two and a quarter tons of beef on the hoof headed right at you...

12MP photo from Nikon D3 & 80-200mm f/2.8 AF

That's a lot of muscle, and was a favorite source of motive power among the early U.S. settlers staking out farmland in the old Northwest Territory, what was to become Indiana. They didn't need to be shod, fed themselves on grass, were less likely than horses to be stolen by native tribes, and if one of your tractors broke a leg you could console yourself with a good steak dinner.

Did you know that an acre was basically originally defined as the area that a yoke of oxen could plow in a day?

A yoke of oxen are trained together from the time they're weaned and always are yoked on the same side. Only a lummox would try and switch out his nigh ox and his off ox.

24MP photo from Nikon D7100 & 16-80mm f/2.8-4E VR

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Draft Post

It was at the Indiana State Fair that I learned that oxen pull a load with their necks while draft horses push a load with their shoulders.

Friday, August 11, 2023

Rolling Coal


Yesterday I was shooting with the D7100 and what I believe to be the best walking-around, all-in-one lens for DX Nikons, the 16-80mm f/2.8-4E VR. It's got a usefully fast aperture, a useful zoom range (the equivalent of a 24-120mm on full frame), image stabilization, some weather sealing, and it's razor sharp. If I could only have one lens to use on my APS-C Nikon bodies, this'd be the one.


Thursday, August 10, 2023

Five Days Left

I stay away from the State Fair on the weekends. It's way, way too people-y.

It's closed on Mondays and Tuesdays so that the fair folk can have some time to relax and/or tend to their real jobs of keeping us all fed.

I also avoid the heat of the day, because ick. Also, I still need to get writing and stuff done in the afternoons.

I don't go at night because the Fair is a different place at night, as is the Monon Trail between here and the State Fairgrounds. In the morning? I have no problem pedaling my bicycle down to the North Gate and locking it to the fence at 0930, but I generally avoid the Monon south of 52nd (or north of Kessler) at night.

That means my fair-going is limited to a couple hours in the morning, Wednesday through Friday, weather permitting. So far we haven't had any rainy mornings, knock on wood.

According to my calendar, that means I have five mornings of State Fair left this year, and I aim to make the most of them.

Wednesday, August 09, 2023


The oxen-in-training are just too cute.

Canon EOS 5DS & EF 70-200mm f/4L IS

Canon EOS 1D Mark IV & EF 24-105mm f/4L IS


Lawdog has ranted about the 17th Amendment.

Welcome to the party, pal! ;-)


Can I get an amen?

One of my rules on Instagram is I'm there to see pictures of your food and your dog and your kids and flowers and sunsets. I unfollow people on the 'Grams who clutter their feed with political memes. 

If I do that, it doesn't mean I don't like you, but I'm not on Instagram for that. 

If I want to see your politics, I'll go to Facebook, which is apparently made for angry political rants. 

But there need to be spaces in your life that aren't consumed by that nonsense, which is why I enjoyed this piece:
Keep politics out of most relationships and institutions. When people violate pluralistic norms in the workplace or at school or in some other organization, things start to fall apart. This is increasingly the case today as formerly non-political institutions have now been overtaken by people pressing the same dumb culture wars and partisan politics that drive people mad and create conflicts elsewhere.

Don’t be this person. We all need to do a better job of keeping our politics separate from the rest of life—and people in positions of authority within institutions need to better enforce pluralistic norms and rules to help keep it that way.
Another worthwhile read this morning.


Oppy and the Speed Bump...

Today's trivia:
In July of 1942, Robert Oppenheimer left his meetings in California and headed via train for Michigan. There, on the shores of Lake Otsego dotted with holiday cabins, a fierce discussion and debate took place: Could the test of a nuclear weapon set fire to the atmosphere?

Oppenheimer's opposite was Arthur Holly Compton, a renowned Nobel Prize–winning physicist. You will not see him portrayed in Christopher Nolan's just-released Oppenheimer, but he was one of the scientist's closest friends. It was Compton who put Oppenheimer in charge of the Manhattan Project and who years later defended him against bogus charges of Communism. And if you're wondering what all of this has to do with cars, well, Arthur Holly Compton also invented the modern speed bump.
Click through to RTWT.

This watch hit a speed bump.

Monday, August 07, 2023

Meanwhile, in the Sahel...

In that part of Africa that's come to be known as the "coup belt", the usual suspects are hard at work:
"As Russia strengthens ties with governments across French-speaking parts of West and Central Africa, social media users in the region have faced a well-documented barrage of pro-Moscow influence campaigns: a swarm of videos, images, and news stories depicting Russia in a positive light — typically at the expense of France, the region’s former colonial power."

Tryin' that in a small town.

Things got pretty sporty in downtown Greenfield, Indiana over the weekend. A teen got hisself popped and Life-Flighted to Indianapolis, another teen is in custody.
Greenfield police have been investigating a case involving firearms and drugs in the community. Police are working to learn if the two juveniles are connected to that case.

"Since June 26th, 2023 we've been investigating a group of individuals, mainly juveniles, related to the buying and selling of guns and drugs here in the city of Greenfield," said Greenfield Police Chief Brian Hartman. "Since the investigation has started, we've taken six illegal guns off the street, served over 20 search warrants and have made 8-10 arrests including both juveniles and adults."

This didn't happen in a convenience store parking lot in a "bad part of town" at two in the AM. It happened at 4:30 in the afternoon on a summer Sunday, right across the street from the big park in the middle of Greenfield, which straddles U.S. 40, the "Main Street of America" in the cornfields east of Indianapolis.


The New Cold War Update

Headline at the WaPo this morning announces that U.S. imports from China are down twenty-four percent from this time last year.
U.S. companies are accelerating efforts to reduce their dependence upon Chinese suppliers, even as officials in Washington and Beijing labor to put a floor under their sour relationship.
Which, you know, isn't a bad thing. It's one thing to rely on overseas suppliers for cheap shower shoes and teddy bears, but being reliant on foreign suppliers, especially ones in an increasingly hostile power, for semiconductors and baby formula isn't such a great idea.

Meanwhile, in the Aleutian Islands...

That's a notch up from previous incidents, the most recent of which was last year. This incident involves a larger Sino-Russian flotilla and a more robust response from the USN:
The United States deployed four navy warships after Russian and Chinese naval forces conducted joint patrols near the Alaskan coast, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

At least 11 Russian and Chinese ships went close to the Aleutian Islands in the northern US state of Alaska, the WSJ report said, adding that the ships never entered US territorial waters and left. They were shadowed by four US destroyers and P-8 Poseidon aircraft.
So, just to make sure all of us Americans are on our toes, the government's gonna startle our pants off using our cell phones one fine October morning later this year.


Sunday, August 06, 2023

Best Millimeter?

Greg Ellifritz put a post up recently wherein a reader of his blog inquired as to the desirability of toting a specific 10mm load in his CCW piece, namely a 200gr hard cast solid.

We'll overlook the fact that said reader used the phrase "stopping power" in relation to handgun bullets, and note that his choice of a 200gr hard cast solid is emblematic of the state of 10mm ammunition up until recently.

The 10mm Auto cartridge hit the scene in the mid-late Eighties and peaked in popularity in the early Nineties, featuring brief usage by, most notably, the FBI and the Virginia State Police, as well as a longer stint with the Kentucky State Police.

Durability issues with the frame-decocker models ended the flirtation with the round by the Feds and the VSP, and after a decade's use the KSP guns were starting to show wear and tear, and the pistol had been long discontinued by S&W so Kentucky went to the Glock 35.

For many years there were only a handful of CCW/defense type handguns on the market and lack of interest meant that most carry-type loads dated to the late Eighties and early Nineties, in the chambering's heyday. Projectiles like Winchester's Silvertip, Federal Hydra-Shok, and Hornady's XTP were generally excellent performers in bare and clothed gelatin, but lacked features that made for modern barrier-blind (or at least barrier astigmatic) performance.

Then again, as a private citizen I'm not as worried about defeating windshield glass or shooting through plywood with my concealed carry blaster. Were I toting a 10mm, I'd have no issue carrying the 175gr Silvertip, for example, which performs well in tests as well as in real life.

In addition to the classic loadings, there are newer ones out there, thanks to the renewed popularity of the chambering. Rounds such as Speer's Gold Dot, Hornady's Critical Duty, and Federal Punch take advantage of developments in projectile design made since, oh, 1992 or so.

With the newer bullets, I don't know that there's a lot to choose between with .40S&W and 10mm performance. With the older loads, like Hydra-Shok and XTP, I've found that the extra ~100fps bump from the Big Ten turned the heavier 180 and 200 grain loads that could be marginal in the .40 into more reliable expanders that were less likely to glog up and over penetrate.

As far as high-velocity heavy bullet loads, save that stuff for hunting or hiking in bear country, because most of the extra steam's wasted on non-quadrupeds.

College bound?

The normal send-off stuff for college kids is a laptop or other study-oriented gear, but maybe when you're packing the kiddo off to a campus where they might be out and about after dark, you could also gift them another practical item: A keychain-sized light.

And I don't mean some dinky little coin cell powered 10-lumen thing meant to aid in finding keyholes in bad light, but a usefully bright thing like a Streamlight Pocket Mate or a Surefire Sidekick.

They don't look "tactical", they don't need to be stuck in a pocket every day (and therefore often forgotten and left behind in the dorm room), and they have usefully bright high beams in the ~300 lumen range as well as lower settings for just navigating dimly lit areas without throwing a searchlight beam around. Plus they're USB rechargeable, so kiddo doesn't need to keep them in batteries.


Saturday, August 05, 2023


This is Powerhouse.

He's a percheron, and he stands 18 hands tall and weighs a ton. Literally. He's seven. It's his first State Fair.

He's normally pastured with cows and gets a little excitable when there aren't any around, so they keep Percy & Carter, the oxen, out when they bring Powerhouse out, so he stays calm and brave for his bovine pals.

Tom, the percheron who'd been there every Fair since I can remember, wasn't there this year. He'd be 24 now, so probably about retirement age for a draft horse.