Saturday, September 30, 2023


This is your occasional reminder that Post-WW2 Popeye cartoons in color are haram.

(Also, in the trivial pursuit category: Popeye's outfit was dark before he went into USN whites in the 100th Fleischer Studios theatrical short, The Mighty Navy, in October of 1941.)


Friday, September 29, 2023


I guarantee that there are a lot of Democratic politicians and political operatives dealing with a bit of internal shame over the little initial frisson of relief they felt when news of Senator Feinstein's death broke. Things had been getting increasingly Weekend at Bernie's-ish surrounding the senior senator from the Golden State of late, and frustrations had been mounting.

There have been a lot of people trying to nudge her toward the exit for some time, and it was no secret that a lot of Dems were not at all pleased about her decision to hang on for the remainder of her term.

Both her and McConnell had been worrying their respective parties. Now Gavin Newsom will appoint a temporary replacement to fill the vacant seat, something he'd said he didn't want to do.


Rough Neighborhood...

While the world's eyes are on the Ukrainian conflict, things are getting spicy again in the Caucasus.

The Armenians got run out of Nagorno-Karabakh by the Azerbaijanis and the 2,000-man Russian peacekeeping force didn't keep much in the way of peace.
“We feel very alone and abandoned,” said Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Mr. Pashinyan’s former foreign minister.

That is not a good place to be for a country in the South Caucasus, a volatile region of the former Soviet Union where the destiny of small nations has for centuries been determined by the interests and ambitions of outside powers.

“Mentally we live in Europe, but geographically we live in a very different place,” said Alexander Iskandaryan, director of the Caucasus Institute, a research group in Yerevan. “Our neighbors are not Switzerland and Luxembourg, but Turkey, Iran and Azerbaijan.”
The Armenians were getting genocided at Ottoman hands since before "genocide" was even a word, so the bad blood goes back a long way in that neighborhood.


"Do some of that pilot $#!+, Mav!"

On this date in 1940, a pair of Avro Ansons collided midair over Brocklesby in Australia.

The pilot and navigator of the lower aircraft were miraculously able to bail out and both survived.

Even more miraculously, the pilot of the upper aircraft found that, although his engines had both stopped due to prop strikes on the other plane, he had all his control surfaces functioning and, since both engines on the lower aircraft were still running...he just bellied the entangled planes into a nearby field.

For bonus points, the upper Anson was returned to flight status after being repaired.


Thursday, September 28, 2023

Speaking of…

…the enshittification of Amazon, there are certain products you should just flat never purchase from them because the odds of getting a counterfeit approach one hundred percent.

Most notable among those are tourniquets.

If you’re doing a search for, say, “Canon EF 50mm f/1.8” and buying one that’s sold by and shipped from Amazon, you’re on pretty safe ground, but there is a lot of easily counterfeited stuff out there.

As they used to say in Rome, “Caveat emptor, baby.”


You Are The Product, Example #3732

People are beginning to notice that Amazon's getting more frustrating to use.
"Lately, though, shopping on Amazon has become an exercise in frustration. My purple-wig search started with sponsored listings from unfamiliar brands with just a small disclosure noting that they’re advertisements. The organic results eventually do show up, offering hairpieces from brands with names such as DAOTS, MorvallyDirect, and eNilecor. Scroll only a little deeper into the sea of indigo fibers, and the sponsored items resume.

What happened to Amazon? The company no longer excels at the thing it’s supposed to be best at: shopping. Its unparalleled convenience and cost helped turn it into an e-commerce juggernaut, one that now faces an antitrust lawsuit from the Federal Trade Commission over alleged anticompetitive practices. Now around every corner lies a brand you’ve never heard of, selling a product you’re not sure about. Good deals on name brands are harder to come by. Amazon’s dominance has also transformed it into a different kind of company. Along the way, the famously customer-obsessed company has lost track of what its customers actually want.

Start with the ads. At the top of the results for purple wig, I hit a block of stand-alone results, a sponsored storefront from an unfamiliar brand named BERON. That’s followed by four paid results from unidentified companies, followed by, finally, organic results. Even then, those recommendations are based in part on customer reviews, which vendors have notoriously gamed.
This is yet another example of the process Cory Doctorow termed "enshittification":
"Here is how platforms die: First, they are good to their users; then they abuse their users to make things better for their business customers; finally, they abuse those business customers to claw back all the value for themselves. Then, they die.

I call this enshittification, and it is a seemingly inevitable consequence arising from the combination of the ease of changing how a platform allocates value, combined with the nature of a "two-sided market," where a platform sits between buyers and sellers, hold each hostage to the other, raking off an ever-larger share of the value that passes between them.
Amazon is practically Patient Zero of enshittification, or maybe Google is. The economics of the internet practically demand it.

Facebook is another classic example. 

I see people bitching about their FB posts with outgoing links getting buried by the algorithm, and thinking it's some conspiracy because they're links to gun stuff or conservative political sites, when the fact of the matter is that Facebook flattens all outgoing links. 

Zuck ain't in the business of sending traffic to non-Meta websites, so unless you have a mess of organic readership on the Bookface, nobody's gonna notice your outgoing links regardless of whether they're going to sites about firearms or flower arranging, because they're going to pop up in hardly anybody's feed.


Discount Depression

Dollar General is not a place I normally shop. I'm only in one on rare occasions when I'm on the road and in a small town where there's literally no other alternative.

I can remember maybe one or two that were reasonably clean and orderly, but they always struck me as absolutely soul-crushing places to shop.

I'd thought that was just me being hopelessly bougie, but apparently not...
"Sometimes the problems compound each other, OSHA records suggest. Pest control couldn’t service a receiving room in Minnesota; it was too cluttered. Stolen HVAC systems in Arizona went unreplaced for weeks because management “had not received the OK” to get new ones. When an Iowa store’s water pipes burst on Christmas Eve, a plumber refused to fix them, because of asbestos. Asbestos was also a worry at another Iowa store, where workers experienced respiratory problems. But state officials said the latter store’s likelier culprits were mold or “stains on the wall that were bat feces.”

Along with bats and birds, workers say, the stores are home to spiders, ants, mice, rats and squirrels. Employees have been cut on the arm, leg, torso or neck by rusted or faulty metal moving palettes, or “rolltainers.” Broken heat or air conditioning has forced workers to don five layers or line their pants with ice packs. In Georgia, former employee Shantay Millsap says she broke out in hives from the constant heat and caked dust; the company responded by cutting her hours. In South Carolina, employee Tiffany Gettle says the 109F heat in her store has made produce wilt and colleagues vomit, but a manager dismissed it by saying, “The more you complain, the worse it makes it.” (In its statement, Dollar General said it has “various cleaning protocols,” works with pest control firms and will sometimes take other steps to “ensure a healthy and safe environment.”)
The article details some eye-popping stuff. The store in Apache, OK (pop. 1,400) where the birds had gotten into the ceiling and were nesting in there and crapping all over the merchandise, and... Well, go read it for yourself.


Wednesday, September 27, 2023


I'm sitting here looking for an adjustment tool to spin the screw on a Holosun 507k (which is a great CCW optic, don't get me wrong), and it's making me pine for the raw utility of the entire range of Trijicon MRDS sights... the RMR, SRO, RCR, and even the RMRcc ...which have elevation and windage screws designed so you can use the cartridge rim of a 9mm or 5.56 round to turn them in a pinch.

The original RMR was designed to be mounted atop the ACOGs being used by guys at FOB Beyond The Pillars Of Hercules, and all subsequent MRDS optics from Trijicon carry those genes.



QotD: War On Whatever Edition...

Over at Bobbi's blog, she mused:
"We've been sold a war on poverty, a war on drugs, a war on the border and a war on the sources of terrorism, but in every case, the conditions for victory are unclear, the price is higher than advertised and the sincerity of the pitchman is questionable."
The whole "War on [Fill In The Blank]" is problematic as a mental construct. The concept of "war" promotes binary thinking, zero sum outlooks, and a willingness to transcend niceties and violate rights in pursuit of victory. 

If you gotta put some maybe-innocent people in camps, censor some newspapers, suspend some habeus corpus...well, can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. Whose side are you on, anyway? Ours or the enemy's?

I'm reminded of P.J. O'Rourke's thoughts from All the Trouble in the World (maybe his last truly laugh-out-loud, snot-bubble-blowing hilarious book, BTW; Peej at the acme of his powers.):
"Politicians are always searching for some grave alarm which will cause individuals to abandon their separate concerns and prerogatives and act in concert so that politicians can wield the baton. Calls to mortal combat are forever being sounded (though only metaphorically– politicians don’t like real wars, too much merit is involved). The idea is that people will drop everything for a WWIII. Remember the War on Poverty? And how Jimmy Carter asked Americans to respond to a mere rise in the price of crude oil with “the moral equivalent of war”? (What were we supposed to do, shame the gas station attendant to death?) Now we’re “fighting pollution,” “battling AIDS,” “conquering racism,” et cetera."


Out of the blue and into the black...

Just finished reading The Underworld: Journeys to the Depths of the Oceans, which I'd mentioned a bit ago.

The author, Susan Casey, is fascinated with the deep sea and there's a whole chapter covering William Beebe, whose adventures in his Bathysphere fascinated me when I was in elementary school. I used to draw elaborately layered views of the ocean depths, teeming with all the strange critters he reported.

She also talks about diving off Hawaii in the Pisces-class subs operated by the Hawaii Underwater Research Laboratory and the book climaxes with her accompanying Vescovo* for part of his Five Deeps Expedition.

Although a journalist, Casey writes with a novelist's eye for people and action, and the book steps right along with a very "you are there" vibe. Definitely recommend.

*Vescovo is the only dude to have been to the top of Everest, the bottom of the Marianas Trench, and outer space. (Also the North and South Poles.)

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Automotif CDXII...

Despite GM having made a bajillion of the things, you don't see a lot of second generation F-bodies out and about. Locally there are a couple three Pontiacs that roll by occasionally, and one elusive Z28, but that's about it.

They were super rust-prone, like almost everything was back then, and telephone poles likely accounted for a large number of the ones that managed to avoid rusting away to nothing.

This one sounds brutal. I'd love a peek under the hood.

Yeah, that's a hit...

"At least six men and two vehicles were involved in the killing of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar outside his place of worship, according to video reviewed by The Washington Post and witness accounts, suggesting a larger and more organized operation than has previously been reported."
Modi can deny it 'til he's blue in the face, but two cars and six dudes is a hit squad, not some random street beef. Either the Indian government ordered it, which would look bad, or the Indian intelligence services are going around conducting rogue rub-outs without orders, which would look even worse.

After events during the Global War on a Noun, unfortunately, the U.S. isn't in much of a place to do a lot of finger-wagging on the topic of extrajudicial hits. Any nationalist strongman worth his salt will simply equate saying bad things about the government or advocating a separatist movement to be basically the same thing as Osama Bin Laden or Qassem Soleimani.

If the U.S. can drone somebody for masterminding the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians, why shouldn't Saudi agents be able to disassemble a newspaper reporter with a meat saw for saying the Saudi crown prince is a very naughty boy? It's basically the same thing, amirite?


Monday, September 25, 2023


Automotif CDXI...

Here's a tasty 1964 Chevrolet Impala hardtop coupe in Tuxedo Black, southbound on College Avenue on a gorgeous first Sunday of fall.


QotD: Mixed(Up) Media Edition...

"Media is off focus, out of proportion, increasingly ephemeral and wrong headed. In defense of the profession where I spent a half century laboring, there are places of excellence and too there are many reasons for the demise we witness.

So much of broadcast news, print journalism and on-line is a waste of time and even silly. This is what happens when newspapers are killed by financial vultures, when reporting and editing staffs are thinned to ludicrous levels so profits are boosted, when broadcast and print are forced into the blender of social media, a world of platforms that do not operate by the old journalism codes of conduct, ethics or canons. The public's "right to know" is now an afterthought, if even that, and it has become part of the broil that is ratings, revenue, investment portfolios, news deserts and a who cares attitude.
From Tom Cochrun's "Light Breezes" blog.


You can't be serious.

"Fellas, is it gay to make millions shilling beer and then bang Taylor Swift while wearing two Super Bowl rings?"

Man, the perverse incentives of the Culture War sure make people say absolutely moronic things to get clicks.

Also, this inane division of consumer products, restaurants, and even musical tastes by sociopolitical faction is idiotic. A nation cannot long stand half Chick-Fil-A and half Panera Bread.


It got me to click, alright...

This was the blurb in the sidebar at the NYT this morning:

I chortled. "Well, that sure puts them one up on the average American voter."

But I clicked through. It's an interesting bit of experimentation that shows that, after repeatedly swimming into something, box jellyfish will adjust their behavior and stop bumping into it.
"After a handful of collisions, the box jellies changed their behavior. Less than eight minutes after arriving in the bucket, they were swimming 50 percent farther from the pattern on the walls, and they had nearly quadrupled the number of times they performed their about-face maneuver. They seemed to have made a connection between the stripes ahead of them and the sensation of collision."
Meanwhile, despite actually physically having a brain, the average voter sends the same people to Congress over and over again and it's shaping up that next year's presidential election is going to be a rerun of 2020's Battle of the Fogies.


Sunday, September 24, 2023

Speaking of the South China Sea...

Realpolitik makes for strange bedfellows.
A package, which could come together within the next year, could consummate the newly upgraded partnership between Washington and Hanoi with the sale of a fleet of American F-16 fighter jets as the Southeast Asian nation faces tensions with Beijing in the disputed South China Sea, one of the people said.
This would bolster the Vietnamese Air Force's abilities against the PLAAF, as well as putting a finger in the eye of the Russians, who have been angling toward making some under-the-table cash by selling more Sukhois to Hanoi.

It's not a done deal, but it would be wild if it happened.


The Next Flashpoint...

The PRC is getting really froggy in the South China Sea and the Spratlys...
As dawn broke, we could see both the fortifications on Mischief Reef and an array of Chinese vessels closing in from different directions: half a dozen maritime militia boats and a recently commissioned navy corvette designed to carry anti-ship missiles. The navy tugboat stayed near, too.

On other occasions, Chinese coast guard and militia vessels have rammed, doused with water cannons and sunk civilian boats in the South China Sea. In 2019, for instance, 22 Filipino fishermen were left to float amid the wreckage of their boat for six hours after a Chinese militia vessel struck them.
It doesn't take a lot of imagination to sea an overeager PLAN officer kicking off a shooting incident with the Philippine or Vietnamese navies.


Automotif CDX...

Just going by the weather, this weekend should make for some primo car spotting on College Avenue, but yesterday was kinda weaksauce.

Probably the neatest thing to roll past was this early Sixties Volvo 122S wagon.

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


Saturday, September 23, 2023

Automotif CDIX...

Why, I haven't seen a Ferrari California T in the 'hood since, oh, July or thereabouts.

Those steering wheels look the business...

Photographed with a Nikon D300S & 17-55mm f/2.8 DX glass.


I LOL'ed...

Man, this one hit David Brooks right at the waterline...
"First of all there is the quintessential tenured Times columnist move: Here is a thing that happened exactly once, to me, which conveniently happens to explain an entire widespread social phenomenon. "


Tab Clearing...

They'll tell you who they are.

Trying to rehab the rep of Iron Felix is certainly a tell...
Today, however, the Chekists run Russia again and Putin’s tenure has witnessed nostalgia for the KGB become state policy. A big tell was the restoration of December 20, the Cheka’s “birthday” in 1917, as a holiday, in Soviet fashion.

Now Dzierżyński’s statue is back in a place of honor. The placement of this new statue is revealing. It’s a slightly smaller replica of the statue torn down 32 years ago in front of the Lubyanka, but its new home is in Yasenovo, a southwestern suburb of the capital, at the headquarters of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, the SVR.


Imagine the head of German foreign intelligence unveiling a statue of Heinrich Himmler in front of BND headquarters, while citing the SS boss as a virtuous moral example to follow, and that’s where Putin’s Russia is today.

Friday, September 22, 2023

QotD: Nuance Is A 4-Letter Word Edition...

"Complexity, it turns out, is a niche market." -Prof. Yamane
Ouch but true. People want pat answers and easy fixes, preferably ones which agree with their assumptions.


Today is the actual last day of the summer of 2023. Autumn starts sometime before 0300 tomorrow morning.

As summers go, it hasn't been a horrible one. I got to go to gun school, made it to an Indians game, took some decent photos...

Also, it was a month ago that the post count for the year here at VFTP exceeded the entirety of my post total in 2019. Now I've blown past the post count of 2018 as well. It's good to get back into the habit of posting more frequently.


The Ackshyually Game

Pedantry is a turnoff, especially when used to gatekeep or flex on n00bs.
"The tone and tenor of constructive and educational conversations involving firearms need to consider both the appreciable understanding of the audience and the best way to orient that audience to new learning. The overplayed bits of esoteric knowledge that is ‘technically more correct’ than the audiences’ general understanding can often hamper learning and turn people off of continued education."

Juice Worth the Squeeze?

Compensators on carry pistols...true expansion chamber comps, not weedy little ports EDM'ed into the barrel...have a few downsides and only one really practical upside. 

I mean, yes, they reduce split times, but raw split times hardly matter in a private citizen's defensive handgun usage, where each and every bullet fired is a use of force for which the firer will be held accountable.

What it does do is reduce muzzle flip to the point that, with proper technique, the dot will remain in the window during recoil.

It also complicates takedown and reassembly, vents gasses upward when shot from retention, and can be noisier for the shooter in some environments.

Most importantly, it makes the gun more ammo sensitive. Comped guns will often struggle to run with el cheapo 115gr ball ammunition, which frequently has barely enough energy to cycle a regular pistol.

Just a thing to be aware of if you decide to run a comped gun.


Tab Clearing...


Thursday, September 21, 2023

Automotif CDVIII...

Yesterday afternoon, northbound on College Avenue, there appeared a 1956 Pontiac Chieftain hardtop coupe. I think this one is in Bolero Red and Rodeo Beige.

1956 was the second year of this body style, a platform-mate to the famed '55-'57 Chevies.

The 1955 Chieftain and Star Chief debuted Pontiac's first in-house V-8 motor, dubbed the Strato Streak. The '55 version displaced 287 cubic inches and could be had in 173, 180, or 200bhp flavors, the latter with a 4bbl Carter carburetor.

For 1956, Pontiac lengthened the stroke of the Strato Streak, bumping the displacement to 317 cubes. The base 2bbl version was rated at 192 SAE gross BHP and 4bbl versions could be had in 216 and 227 horsepower variants. Pontiac also sold some two hundred cars with 10.0:1 compression ratios and dual quad carbs, intended for NASCAR and drag racing. These boasted a claimed output of 285 gross horsepower and were kind of a big deal at the time, outmuscling even the most potent '56 Corvette motor, the 240hp 265cid Small Block Chevy.


Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Negative Outcomes

The incident in the previous post where the dude capped his tree-trimming neighbor for no adequately explainable reason reminds me of the (in)famous Duel at the Dumpster in Texas a few years back.

If you haven't read Claude Werner's excellent series of posts about that clown show, you really should.


Looks like Florida Man is at it again.

Sounds like the shooter messed up by the numbers. Also, it sounds like his neighbor, the decedent, flunked an important test, too.
"One of the 911 calls came from the wife of the shooter, in which she stated her husband went outside to scare the neighbor with a gun and shot him," the affidavit said. "The caller further stated her husband did not mean to do this and he just meant to scare him."

Druzolowski told a Volusia deputy in a recorded interview, that he retrieved a 357 Magnum revolver and confronted Ford after his wife told him Ford was on his property and that a gate was open, the affidavit said.

Druzolowski told officials that when he told Ford to get off his property, Ford allegedly told him to mind his own business and cursed, the affidavit said.

Ford also asked Druzolowski if he was going to shoot him, the affidavit said. Druzolowski said that he warned Ford to stop walking toward him or he would shoot, the document states.

Druzolowski also told the deputy, the affidavit said, he feared for his life, but acknowledged Ford had not threatened him.
I don't know about you, but I'd sure hate for my last words to be "What are you gonna do? Shoot me?" Dying is bad enough, but feeling like an idiot while you bleed out would just add insult to injury.

If someone's demonstrated that they're unhinged enough to point a gun at you because you're trimming branches on their side of the fence, you should probably vacate the premises. Maybe call the po-po.

So we've got one guy dead, a kid without a dad, and a septuagenarian who's gonna spend the rest of his miserable life jammed up in the gears of the legal system because he mistook a revolver for a magic problem-solving wand.


For Real Every Day?

FN 509 Compact MRD w/ Trijicon SRO & Streamlight TLR-7 in a Henry Holsters Spark. Also the most adorable Apple Watch charging stand ever.

As a freelance writer who works from home (save the occasional retail job in a gun store) and who can therefore dress like a tactical hobo, carrying every day isn't hard for me. For the last twenty years, I've pretty much carried everywhere that didn't involve walking through a metal detector.

Not everyone can do that. Some people work in places where it would be a firing offense to tote, and some even work in places where it's flat out illegal.

What do?

The guys at Tactical Tangents had a good discussion on the topic.
"If you’re a habitual firearms toter, how do you carry to and from places where you can’t carry? Do you? What if it’s someplace where there’s no provision for securing it at your destination? Whether going to and from the neighborhood BJJ gym or visiting a military base, this can be a real dilemma for the carrier. In this episode, Jim and Mike take a hard look at solutions.

One of our favorite topics at Tactical Tangents is realistic risk management, and this applies in the personal world as well as the operational one. While “EDC” has turned into a marketing term for everything from watches to para cord bracelets, what do you really carry every day. Listen to this episode for a deep dive into the topic. Remember, millions of people go unstrapped yet remain unclapped every day.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023


It’s 78 degrees Fahrenheit and bone dry out there right now.

If the weather were like this year-round, I couldn’t afford to live here. Absolutely Chamber of Commerce weather.


Holster Fail

You know what's like fingernails on a chalkboard to me? When someone takes one of those spring-clip IWB holsters and uses it as an OWB holster on the wrong hip. Like, a right-handed holster will have the spring clip on the right-hand (outboard) side of the holster, so that the holster is inside the waistband and the clip goes on the outside. But some goobers look at these and assume the clip is to allow it to be clipped outside the waistband on the other hip.

Only slightly less wrong are the people who take a clip-on IWB rig like that and stuff it between the waistband and the belt like the gent in this photo is demonstrating...


The belt is barely supporting the holster there, and the whole thing is going to flop around like a freshly-caught trout at any pace more vigorous than a brisk walk.


Raw Like Sushi

I was today years old when I leaned that the Moonies were kingpins in the U.S. sushi industry.
"Moon used his state connections and his growing Japanese income to build a large portfolio of holdings. Tongil Heavy Industries, headed by one of Moon’s cousins, manufactured artillery guns and other weapons for the South Korean military. Moon’s family owned or controlled chemical and construction companies, resorts, Brazilian soccer teams, and real estate all over the world, including the New Yorker Hotel. Moon’s most successful business venture may have been sushi, which he and his Japanese followers helped popularize in the United States. Eating raw tuna was still an exotic pursuit to Americans when Moon—the self-declared “king of the ocean”—began investing in shipyards in the late 1970s and sending his followers to sell door-to-door from refrigerated vans. True World Foods, a seafood company founded at Moon’s direction, controls a large share of the sushi trade, selling raw fish to thousands of restaurants across the United States and Canada."


Automotif CDVII...

Ford went through the Oil Crisis of '73-'74 with the Lincoln Continental Mark IV as its flagship car, a nineteen foot long coupe weighing most of two and three quarters tons, powered by a 460cid V8 and which struggled to top 8 miles per gallon. It was replaced with the even-longer-but-lighter Mark V.

When the next oil crunch, triggered by the Iranian revolution, hit in late 1979 however, it arrived at the same time as a newer, smaller Continental Mark at the top of the Ford heap.

Debuting in autumn of 1979 as a 1980 model, the new Lincoln Continental Mark VI was almost a foot shorter and a quarter ton lighter than the car it replaced.

Where the final year of the Mark V had been powered by a 2bbl 400 cube V8, the newer car came with either a throttle-body injected 302 or a 351 Windsor with a 2-barrel Motorcraft carb. Since both motors were rated at 140 net horsepower (the 351 gave a slightly higher torque output at lower revs) and it was the middle of a gas crisis, few 351 cars were sold and it was dropped after the 1980 model year. Incidentally, this was the debut of fuel injection on Ford's 5.0 small block.

Ford had intended to downsize the Mark more radically than they did, by moving it to the Fox compact sedan platform, but financial constraints meant that the Mark VI would be built on the new full-size Panther platform along with the regular Continental and the Town Car, which is why there was a Mark sedan for the first time since the label's revival in 1969. The Fox-platform Lincoln didn't happen until the Mark VII debuted for the '84 model year.

The car in the photo is an '80-'83 Lincoln Continental Mark VI sedan in Bright Red.


But why, though?

Civilization has fallen so far that there are instructional videos on YouTube for doing burnouts in a 5.0L five-speed SN95 Mustang.

Bro, I don’t know how you stretch “Drop the hammer and then sidestep the clutch” into an eight minute vid for your fans, but it dismays me.


Monday, September 18, 2023

I LOL'ed

Book Re-Report

I'd read Elizabeth Moon's Deed of Paksennarion trilogy before, back when I was still living in Tennessee. Call it most of twenty years ago. I remember really enjoying the first book, thinking the second was okay, and kinda getting lost in the third.

I figured I'd give it another whirl and see how well it aged, and was pleasantly surprised.

The three books follow the same main character, but have very different vibes. Reading them straight through, however (something I didn't do the first time around) makes for a much more satisfyingly continuous storyline.

In the first book, Sheepfarmer's Daughter, our protagonist runs off to find fame and fortune in a medieval-esque mercenary company. There's a typical MilSF-style basic training experience that introduces us to the world and its inhabitants.

It's definitely a swords-and-sorcery world that would be familiar to any fantasy RPG player, but our point of view character, Paksennarion, is a Level 1 spear-toter (well, sword-toter, technically) three ranks back in the second file from the left. Magic is rare and expensive and paladins are shining figures on horses maybe glimpsed in onesy-twosies, from a distance, during important battles.

But Paks gets some chances to shine and complete an important mission that brings her to the attention of the duke that commands her legion of mercs.

Eventually she becomes a trusted veteran and outgrows her role in the company, setting off to learn more skills, perhaps to come back to the company as an officer or squire.

If the first book is a grunt's-eye view of swords and sorcery battlefields, the second book, Divided Allegiance, is a straight up Dungeons & Dragons adventure, with Paks meeting friends and foes and killing orcs in a dungeon and coming to the aid of a village beleaguered by bandits in the forest that's come under an Inexplicable Shadow of Evil.

Having overcome that and gotten up to say, Level Three or Four, Paksennarion heads off to Paladin U., a sort of Holy Hogwarts of swordfighting and divine warfighting for the cause of Good.

As a baby paladin, Paks accompanies a bunch of higher level characters on a quest that ends up with Paks taking a possibly career ending setback.

The process of healing that damage segues us into the third book, Oath of Gold, where now a fully-fledged Paks the Paladin sets off on her ultimate quest, to find the True King and return him to his Rightful Throne.

I have to say that on re-read, it's really a good story and quite fun, and I owe the book an apology.

Fortunately the three books are available in an omnibus volume, which makes for a much easier read-through and I think that helps it immensely.


Automotif CDVI...

A 1969 Ford Mustang convertible in Candy Apple Red. The hood scoop claims there's a 351 in there, but whether it's the 2-bbl Windsor or 4-bbl Cleveland, I have no clue.

Sure is a sharp-looking ride, though! (Even if dude did leave one of his hood pins a-dangle.)

It was photographed with a Canon EOS 7D & EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens.


Just Missed...

The NYT crossword gets more difficult from Monday through Saturday, and I just missed a personal best on the solution for the Monday puzzle today.

Off by eight seconds. So close!

(Yes, I've become the sort of person who does crossword puzzles for fun. I figure it's good for the brain, and since I work with words, it's probably useful.)


Saturday, September 16, 2023

Automotif CDV...

Here's a super-straight 1969 Buick Electra 225 hardtop sedan in Twilight Blue. The '69 model year was the last for the 430cid Buick V-8. It was replaced the following year by the 455, which was essentially a bored-out 430.

While the 430 only came in the 10.25:1 compression 360bhp form, the base 455 eked out about the same power (350) with a lower 10:1 compression ratio because there's no replacement for displacement. There was also a Stage 1 version of the 455 offered in 1970 with a 10.5:1 squeeze and a likely under-rated output of 370 SAE gross horsepower.

Hole in the lineup...

I really like a fast 85mm lens for casual portraiture. The best part is that they're reasonably cheap. If you're shooting an FX Nikon body, you can get an old Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 AF-D for peanuts. Good used ones are under two hundred bucks on BezosMart or at KEH or Roberts.

Nikon D3 & 85mm f/1.8

Similarly, for full-frame Canons, an EF 85mm f/1.8 USM is under three bills used and does yeoman work for candid portraits.

Canon 5DS & 85mm f/1.8

The 85mm focal length is considered so important that even in non-full frame sensor sizes, they'll make an equivalent. In the Fujifilm X-mount, which is an APS-C sensor, they make the 56mm f/1.2 R. Corrected for the 1.5x crop factor, that's an 84mm equivalent field of view.

In the defunct Nikon 1 system with its tiny 1" sensor, there's the 1 Nikkor 32mm f/1.2, which is an 87mm equivalent after correcting for the 2.7x crop factor.

Nikon 1 V1 & 32mm f/1.2

So why don't Nikon or Canon make a dedicated crop-sensor equivalent?

I suppose for the DSLR mounts it's a dead letter now. The EF-S and the DX F mounts are headed for that big camera store in the sky. With Nikon I guess you could always use the FX 58mm f/1.4, which would be an 87mm equivalent. But there was just flat nothin' in the Canon lineup that would work the same on their little APS-C sensors because Canon has always phoned it in on their crop sensor lens catalog.


Friday, September 15, 2023

Automotif CDIV...

Photo shot with a Nikon D3 & 85mm f/1.8

Here's a '94-'95 Thunderbird LX in Opal Frost.

This was the mid-cycle refresh of the MN12, and featured the replacement of the 5.0L pushrod motor with the 205bhp SOHC Modular 4.6L. Base motor was still the 140bhp 3.8L Essex V6, which was woefully underpowered for the lardy 3,600 pound MN12 'T-bird.

It's weird that this thing is older now than the '55 T-bird was that my dad had when I was in grade school.

Incidentally, there was some hope that the MN12, with its independent rear suspension would form the basis for the next generation mid-Nineties Mustang. But cost and weight concerns meant that the SN95 rode on a lightly refreshed Fox platform, with its live rear axle. Outside of occasional special versions, an IRS Mustang was still twenty years away.


Thursday, September 14, 2023

Pocket Popper

Although there are definitely more pocketable options these days...

Everything in the photo is a smaller, lighter, more pocketable alternative to something bigger. 

Obviously there's the Beretta 3032 Tomcat, the subject of an upcoming review in RECOIL: Concealment.(The photo is an outtake from the shots I did for the article.)

Then there's the Surefire Sidekick, my little rechargeable 300-lumen key fob. There's also the always-handy POM pepper spray, with probably ninety percent of the capability of my trusty Sabre Mk.6 at a fraction of the size.

Finally is the svelte little Spyderco Roadie. It's got good-looking Italian style and was designed specifically to comply with the proposed (but, alas, withdrawn) TSA rules that would have allowed small penknives on planes again. It has a 2" non-locking slipjoint type blade that also features a finger choil forward of the pivot to prevent accidental closure should you have to put it to non-penknife type uses. Between the short blade and the lack of a mechanical lock, it should be legal in most any jurisdiction that allows any kind of knives at all.

(The watch is a Bertucci field watch, if you're into that sort of thing. I'm not really watch people but it's lightweight and looks cool.)

Automotif CDIII...

Here's a 2019-'20 Mercedes-AMG GT R Pro in, I think, Jupiter Red. The "Pro" model is a one-of-750 track-focused variant of the already-hairy GT R, like the one below.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

QotD: Follow The Money Edition...

John Halpin notes that a big part of the problem is that keeping people mad enough so they stay tuned in for the next commercial break has turned out to be a very lucrative business.
"If we look briefly at the time period covered here we can see how this partisan animosity was generated. On the media side, both MSNBC and Fox News began operations in 1996, and later evolved into the primary cable proprietors fueling intense partisanship on both sides of the aisle. If a person wants selected nuggets of information to dunk on the other side, they can get them all day long. If they don’t want them, they get them anyway. Likewise, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter started in the early 2000s and grew exponentially over the next decade—along with lightning fast internet access and everyone having a smart phone. If a person wants to get outraged and yell at people randomly online, or listen in on others on a podcast or video doing it for them, there’s an app for that. If they don’t want it, some algorithm might boost the anger anyway.

When the Supreme Court eliminated virtually all restrictions on corporate and individual spending on politics in 2010, partisan advertising, organizing, and ideological combat soon became a multi-billion dollar operation. If a rich person wants to launch scurrilous attacks on leaders, parties, and other Americans—or advance a pet radical cause or culture war issue through a tax-exempt organization—nothing stands in their way. Small donors can now do the same.
You can get non-stop outrage on your car stereo during your commute, on the radio in the shop, and even in your pocket when you go to the john at work. And it's all there to sell ads.


The Rule of Stupids

Five people got shot at a "street takeover" on Indy's near northwest side on Sunday night.

If you're unfamiliar with the phenomenon, it's where a flash mob barricades off a few blocks of a major thoroughfare so that people can do burnouts and throw down for street races and whatnot. It generally happens in the not-so-nice parts of town, so it's not like any city councilmen or CEOs are likely to have their evenings disrupted.

Anyway, along MLK between 25th and 29th, the shenanigans happen frequently of a Sunday evening. This time, during the impromptu block party, a couple dudes had a beef, the beef escalated into a fight, someone pulled out their popper and opened fire, and next thing you know everybody was apparently blazing away...

I feel sorry for the residents who may live along MLK there. But the attendees?

As the great John Farnam says, "Don't go stupid places and do stupid things with stupid people" and attending an illegal street racing party packed with armed and intoxicated people would seem to be a textbook example of just that.


Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Even a blind Hogg finds the occasional acorn.

From the department of "A Stopped Clock is Right Twice a Day" comes this notification that it's one of those times.

When you're getting pushback from leading gun control proponents, you might have overreached.

Gov. Lujan Grisham has done stepped in it. I mean, one of the foundational principles of leadership is "never give an order you know won't be obeyed" and, uh...
Bernalillo County District Attorney Sam Bregman, who once served as a Democratic party leader and was appointed by Lujan Grisham, on Saturday joined Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and Police Chief Harold Medina saying they wouldn’t enforce the order.

“As an officer of the court, I cannot and will not enforce something that is clearly unconstitutional,” said Bregman, the top prosecutor in the Albuquerque area. “This office will continue to focus on criminals of any age that use guns in the commission of a crime.”
I don't know what she saw as the upside of this. She's freshly re-elected, but term-limited, so she'll be looking for work come 2026. There're rumors that the senior senator from NM might be eyeing the governor's office come the next election cycle, so maybe she wants his job? I dunno, though, I can't see this playing well in statewide elections in that fairly purple state.


Apocalypse Now

First Morocco gets tagged with an earthquake that has claimed at least two thousand lives, although it'll be a while before the final toll is known.

Now, about a thousand miles to the east, heavy rains across the northeastern Libyan coast have unleashed torrential flooding.
The city of Derna has been most acutely affected, after raging torrents of water tore through two dams and swept entire buildings into the sea. Othman Abdul Jalil, health minister and spokesman of the U.N.-recognized government in western Libya, told local television channel al-Masar that the situation continues to deteriorate in the eastern city, and at least 2,000 people have been found dead.

“I expect numbers of dead will rise to 10,000,” he told the channel early on Tuesday. The final death toll remains unknown, as many parts of the city remain inaccessible, he said. Derna is estimated to have had around 90,000 residents.

Ten thousand fatalities is a mind-boggling total.


Automotif CDII..

This is an interesting ride. The basic vehicle is a 1929 Ford Model A in the "roadster pickup" body style, which is pretty cool. Sort of a proto-Ranchero albeit with a convertible top.

But what's under the hood is even wilder!

If my eyes (and that sticker) ain't lying, that's a DOHC Cosworth four-banger, which is an esoteric powerplant choice.

Ah, a Purdue grad! Now it all makes sense...


Poetry Hour...

To quote Robert Burns:
O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion:
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
An' ev'n devotion!
Professor Yamane has an interesting callback to that piece in the NYT by Harel Shapira and the stir it caused on the gunternet:

There's a post accompanying it, which you can read at this link.


Monday, September 11, 2023

Automotif CDI...

For the four hundred and first Automotif subject, I figured it best to put up something that truly fits the "CDI" description*.

Here's a 1971 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray coupe in War Bonnet Yellow with a black interior. It's got the base L48 350cid small-block, which saw its compression lowered to 8.5:1 for the '71 model year so it could run on lower-octane fuel. Rated at 270 SAE gross horsepower, this one's putting its power to the rear wheels via a 3-speed Turbo-Hydramatic slushbox.

The photos were shot with a Canon EOS-1D Mark IV & EF 24-105mm f/4L IS and should embiggenate quite nicely.

*"Chicks Dig It", in case you didn't know.

Speaking of Indianapolis politics...

So, while crime in Indianapolis is not at record rates, it's still higher than pre-2020 norms. If there was going to be a wedge issue that allowed the two-term Democratic incumbent, Joe Hogsett, to get unseated in this year's contest, that'd be the one.

Former city councilman Jefferson Shreve is running as a Republican to challenge Mayor Hogsett, who already had to fight off a spirited primary challenge from state rep Robin Shackleford.

Now, somewhat unusually for a city the size of Indy, the Dems don't have a deadlock on the mayor's office. We had a Republican mayor, Greg Ballard, as recently as 2015. This is because Indianapolis & Marion County have a "UniGov" setup: Everything you see in red on the map of Marion County below is part of Indianapolis.

 So if Shreve ran a disciplined campaign and stuck to crime and budget issues, he had a legitimate shot at the office, getting votes from the Republican base, independents, and the occasional disgruntled centrist Democrat.

The Hogsett campaign ran attack ads along the two axes where Shreve is most vulnerable: Abortion and Guns.

There's nothing a GOP candidate can say or do on the abortion front in these next election cycles; it's not gonna be a winner for the Pubbies in an urban/suburban environment like Indy. On the gun issue, Shreve's best bet was to just keep quiet and ignore the attack ads. He wasn't going to pick up any votes by leaning in on RKBA, but he wouldn't lose any by just shutting up.

Instead, he opened fire on his own foot with a high-capacity clipazine...

That's right, the GOP candidate decides to come out in support of Scary Looking Gun Bans and a repeal of permitless carry (neither of which stand a snowball's chance in hell in Indiana, BTW).

WTF was he thinking? It's not like this is going to get him any votes from disaffected Dems that he wouldn't have been getting already, but it's going to evaporate his support among the GOP base and libertarian-leaning independents.

This has, in my opinion, effectively torpedoed his campaign. Beforehand, I'd have said it was a coin toss, but now Hogsett's going to mop the floor with him.