Wednesday, February 21, 2024

A Jog Around the Blogs


Spies Like Us

Russian intel services on the rebound:
"Russian intelligence, though bruised, is firmly back on its feet after its recent humiliations. In recent weeks the Insider, a Riga-based investigative website, has published a series of stories documenting Russian espionage and influence across Europe. They include details of how a GRU officer in Brussels continues to provide European equipment to Russian arms-makers, and the revelation that a top aide in the Bundestag and a Latvian member of the European Parliament were both Russian agents, the latter for perhaps more than 20 years.

“It’s not as bad for them as we think it is,” says Andrei Soldatov, an investigative journalist, who reckons that the Russian services are “back with a vengeance” and increasingly inventive. Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, and once a (mediocre) KGB officer, is “trying to restore the glory of Stalin’s formidable secret service”, explains Mr Soldatov. He points to a case in April 2023 when Artem Uss, a Russian businessman arrested in Milan on suspicion of smuggling American military technology to Russia, was spirited back to Russia with the help of a Serbian criminal gang—a common intermediary for the Russian services.

In the past, says Mr Soldatov, the FSB, SVR and GRU had a clearer division of labour. No longer. All three agencies have been particularly active in recruiting among the flood of exiles who left Russia after the war. It is easy to hide agents in a large group and simple to threaten those with family still in Russia. Germany is of particular concern, given that the many Russians who have moved there could make up a recruiting pool for Russian spy bodies. The flood of new arrivals is thanks in part to Baltic countries having grown more hostile to Russian emigres.
Meanwhile, U.S.-made components are finding their way, via third-party buyers, into North Korean ballistic missiles.

Unseasonably Balmy

We got a brief cold snap with that snow over the weekend, but things here in Indiana have returned now to our previously-scheduled weather, namely one of the warmest Hoosier Februaries on record.

Today's predicted high of 64°F will be a few degrees shy of the record for the day, which was 69°F back in 2018, but I'll take it.

I could use a good, long walk under sunny skies. Maybe touch some grass while I'm out there.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Meme Dump

("Actually, unless it comes from the Tank region of France, it's just a sparkling armored fighting vehicle.")

"Four out of five dentists agree. The fifth is on Joe Rogan warning us about the conspiracy behind Big Floss." 

Monday, February 19, 2024

Generation Gap

Sitting next to me at the bar yesterday was a dude out with his parents celebrating his 21st birthday.

Guy was a student at IU in Bloomington... twenty-one years old would be, what? Junior year of undergrad? ...and was mentioning to his parents how he'd recently found not having a driver's license to be inconvenient a few times.

My mind was blown.

I knew the trend of getting driver's licenses later had started with the younger end of the Millennial Generation, but Zoomers are taking it to extremes that seem unimaginable to this GenX'er. My social life was positively stunted by my folks holding off on letting me get my driver's license until early in my senior year of high school, bare months shy of me turning 18 and presenting them with a fait accompli by getting it on my own stick. By the time I was twenty-one I'd owned probably five cars...and two motorcycles.


Halfway Back to the Future

On newsstands right now is RECOIL Concealment issue no. 37, which contains my review of Springfield Armory's Emissary pistol.

I liked it, but that's not much of a surprise. I think Springfield Armory is still, on average, your best value for the money in an off-the-shelf 1911 maker if you're not going to spend Dan Wesson or Wilson Combat money.

One thing I did find puzzling about the Emissary though was that, despite the very Current Year machining and modern touches like the slim G10 grips, light rail, and bull barrel, they didn't ship it with an optics cut. If I scrape up the dough to buy the test gun, which I'm trying to figure out how to do, I'm going to have it cut to take a Trijicon RMRcc.

If you're gonna go all future-y, go all the way future-y.


Sunday, February 18, 2024

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Social Media Wisdom

Before you take someone's opinions seriously enough to have an internet argument with them, research their online corpus to ensure they're worth taking seriously in the first place.


/me looks out window at snow on ground

/me goes back to bed

Friday, February 16, 2024

"I'm not lost, I live here."

The bartender at Fat Dan's Chicago Style Deli, photographed with the Samsung TL500. I was shooting in Program mode with the ISO set to Auto, and the camera picked ISO 200 and 1/30th at f/2.3, thereby illustrating the advantages of the lovely, fast Schneider-Kreuznach glass (most pocket cameras will only open up to f/2.8 or so at their widest; the TL500 will go all the way to f/1.8 if necessary) and Samsung's optical image stabilization.

His shirt touts Rocky Ripple, an eclectic little urban village nearby. Nestled behind levees on a floodplain island between the White River and the canal, Rocky Ripple is only accessible by two road bridges over the canal and its denizens often sport bumper stickers on their cars that read "I'm not lost, I live here."


Who didn't see this one coming?

"Aleksei A. Navalny, the most outspoken domestic critic of President Vladimir V. Putin, has died in prison, Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service said on Friday.

It said that Mr. Navalny, 47, had lost consciousness after taking a walk in the Arctic prison where he was moved late last year.
I'm guessing that, due to the lack of ninth floor windows in the gulag, they decided to just novichok his breakfast gruel.


Thursday, February 15, 2024

Gray Man Fail

"There’s a saying that “all costumes fall apart at the shoes,” and it’s largely true. Next Halloween or costume party, give it a try for yourself: cowboys with Converse and pilgrims with Pumas. Footwear, sunglasses, watches, and other daily wear rarely changes on a whim. Fit can be very personal, and people tend to stick to what they like.

And even if you don’t know much about shoes, many out there do. Salespeople, in particular, are more class-conscious, using watches and shoes to determine if someone is a “good fit” (more or less likely to purchase a product). There are endless Facebook groups and forums that obsess over every aspect of personal items, taking the time to identify and psychoanalyze the choices of others in some form of fashion phrenology.
Those 5.11 ATACs match a Hawaiian shirt about as well as white sidewalls and Oakleys go with tie-dye, Joe Friday.

"Nobody knows I'm armed!"
Photo by Oleg Volk

People Pics

Although it's not marketed that way, Canon's EF 24-105mm f/4L IS zoom lens is not terrible for portraits.

Especially on the older pro bodies with the APS-H sensors, the 1.3X crop factor means your effective focal length range of 31-136mm encloses the trinity of standard portrait focal lengths: 85mm, 105mm, and 135mm. (Here's me lamenting again that Canon abandoned the APS-H sensor size with the launch of the EOS-1D X.)

While f/4 isn't a screamingly fast aperture, it's big enough to get a reasonable amount of subject separation from the background. You're not going to blow the surroundings out in a creamy blur of bokeh, but at the same time you won't be worrying as much about not having enough depth of field to get both eyes in focus, either, so there's that.

Half everyone's dumber than average.

Via the NYT, we hear of this Monmouth University poll:
"Just under 1 in 5 Americans believe the singer Taylor Swift is part of a covert effort to help President Joe Biden win the 2024 election.


Just under half (46%) of the American public has heard something about Swift being part of a supposed covert government effort to help Biden win the 2024 presidential election. Just under 1 in 5 Americans (18%) believe such a conspiracy involving Swift exists.
"Wow," you say, "That's crazy!" Except it's not really that out of line with overall numbers in a land where better than one in ten agreed with the statement "The moon landings were faked" and less than six in ten agreed with "Humans evolved".

I mean, the New York Times is wringing its hands about one in five people believing in this moronic TaySway conspiracy only a few thin sheets of newsprint away from where it prints the frickin' horoscope!

We are a fundamentally unserious people, and one in five of your neighbors, at minimum, is a credulous moron.


Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Automotif CDLXVIII...

Dating this Azure Blue Firemist Cadillac Coupe DeVille (EDIT: Looking more closely at the trim, this appears to actually be a ritzier Fleetwood Brougham Coupe) is made easy by the fender badge, which denotes that it had Caddy's V-4-6-8 engine.

While cylinder deactivation isn't especially uncommon now, it was pretty radical back in the days when really powerful computers still had their memory measured in kilobytes.

The 1980 Caddies had been using the 368 cubic inch L61 V-8, which was the older 425 cube motor with the bore reduced to 3.8 inches. The stroke was left at 4.06", which made for an undersquare tractor motor that got better gas mileage. It was fuel-injected on the front wheel drive Eldos and Sevilles, but the RWD bodies still used Rochester Quadrajet carbs.

For 1981, Cadillac added a complicated cylinder deactivation system that would use solenoids to lock the rocker arms on the deactivated cylinders, creating the 140bhp L62 V4-6-8. Now using throttle body injection on all models, it would theoretically use all eight cylinders for accelerating, six for normal around-town driving, and only fire on four cylinders for interstate cruising.

It was a public relations nightmare, received thirteen programming upgrades in its sole model year of retail sales, and would probably be remembered as the crappiest artifact of the Malaise Era if it weren't for the fact that Oldsmobile's 350 Rocket Diesel hadn't been an even bigger disaster.

Fortunately, the whole system could be disabled by disconnecting a single wire, which this one has almost certainly had done since the driver does not appear to be shedding tears of impotent rage.


Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #250...

At the range the other day getting red dots dialed in. That 509 Edge longboi shoots like a laser, and if you went back to 1996 and showed me that FN Reflex with the enclosed emitter Holosun EPS Carry and a tiny five hundred lumen Streamlight TLR 7 Sub, and then popped out the magazine with eleven witness holes, I'd have thought it was some kind of sci-fi space magic.


Well... bye.

Back in Atlanta, when I'd hear someone going on about how much better things were back in whatever city they'd moved there from... and Atlanta is a veritable city of transplants standard response was that old airline advertising slogan: "Delta is ready when you are."

In that spirit...

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

u mad bro?

Apparently that whole "boycotting the NFL" thing isn't working very well.
"This year's Super Bowl was watched by an average of 123.4 million people in the US, making it the most watched broadcast since the 1969 Moon landing.

Preliminary US TV ratings put Sunday's game just behind Apollo 11's historic landing, which was seen by an estimated 125 to 150 million people.

Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers 25-22 in overtime.
Alas, however, the claims that a Chiefs victory would spare us having to watch the increasingly pathetic spiraling career flameout of Tucker Carlson seem to have been entirely bogus and based on a post from a satire account on the ex-Birdsite.


Monday, February 12, 2024

Legit LOL'ed...

Ken White was on fire last night...

Dust Bowl

In 1936, The Atlantic published a series of letters from a woman in Oklahoma to her friend who had given up on farming out west and had decamped for her home turf in Delmarva.
"Since I wrote to you, we have had several bad days of wind and dust. On the worst one recently, old sheets stretched over door and window openings, and sprayed with kerosene, quickly became black and helped a little to keep down the irritating dust in our living rooms. Nothing that you see or hear or read will be likely to exaggerate the physical discomfort or material losses due to these storms. Less emphasis is usually given to the mental effect, the confusion of mind resulting from the overthrow of all plans for improvement or normal farm work, and the difficulty of making other plans, even in a tentative way. To give just one specific example: the paint has been literally scoured from our buildings by the storms of this and previous years; we should by all means try to 'save the surface'; but who knows when we might safely undertake such a project? The pleasantest morning may be a prelude to an afternoon when the 'dust devils' all unite in one hideous onslaught. The combination of fresh paint with a real dust storm is not pleasing to contemplate.

The prospects for a wheat crop in 1936 still remain extremely doubtful. There has been no moisture of any kind since the light snow of early January...
Now I have a hankering to re-read The Worst Hard Time, which I cannot recommend highly enough.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Automotif CDLXVII...

Hyundai's made several runs at producing an inexpensive sporty coupe. The first one, back in the early Nineties, was the Excel-based Scoupe. The Scoupe (or S-Coupe) was an attempt at making their dull entry-level econobox more appealing to youthful buyers by giving it a sportier roofline. It's largely forgotten today and for good reason, as it was an utterly forgettable car.

Next up came the Tiburon, which is Spanish for "shark". The first generation debuted in the '97 model year and had a unique, swoopy body and your choice of 1.8L or 2.0L four-cylinder engines.

The second generation of the Tiburon, like the one in the photo, launched as a 2003 model and came either as a base 2.0L coupe, or in GT form with a 172bhp 2.7L V-6.

Given a mid-cycle styling refresh in 2007, the car fizzled out only a couple years later. After a couple year hiatus, Hyundai tried again in the early 'Teens with the Veloster, but that's a tale for a different day.


Friday, February 09, 2024

A Jog Around the Blogs


Snap Softener

The ostensible purpose of yesterday's range trip was to get the Trijicon optics dialed in on the FN 509's, but on the way out the door I tossed the Smith & Wesson Model 639 into the case as well, since I hadn't fired it yet.

I'd forgotten how much 9mm recoil a two-and-a-quarter pound all-stainless pistol soaks up. This is a very soft-shooting handgun. I'd also forgotten how the stainless front sight, machined integrally with the slide, disappears against light-colored targets.

I let my friend Michael pop off a few mags, too, and managed to get at least one decent action photo!

Less-Than-Special Sauce

The .44 Special cartridge debuted with the large frame Hand Ejector revolvers at the start of the previous century.

It was a hot-rodded version of the existing .44 Russian cartridge, and used a longer cartridge case so to avoid being chambered in the old top-break No.3 Smiths, in much the same way that .32 S&W Long had been stretched so as not to be used in older .32 top-breaks.

The natural home for the new round was a big N-frame with a 6.5" barrel, like the one at the top in the photo above. In those hoglegs, it lobbed a fairly heavy 246gr lead round-nosed projectile at velocities on the north side of 750 feet per second.

With the coming of the .44 Magnum, though, the old Special largely fell out of favor and is now mostly found in one of two settings. The first is cowboy action shooters who just gotta be different from the .45 Colt majority and are perfectly happy shooting 246gr LRN bullets in their single action sixguns.

The other setting is big-bore snubbies on medium frames, a fad that started with the Charter Arms Bulldog, but has since been riffed on by Rossi, Taurus, and Smith & Wesson.

Shooting heavy, unjacketed projectiles in these smaller pieces tends to turn them into kinetic bullet pullers, especially the lightweight models. In fact, the aluminum-framed and titanium-cylindered Smith & Wesson Model 296Ti, bottom center in the above photo, goes so far as to mark "MAX. BULLET 200 GRAIN" right there on the side of the barrel.

There are a few 200gr loads I'd carry without much in the way of worry: Speer's 200gr Gold Dot would be my first choice, but I wouldn't lose sleep if all I had was 200gr Federal LSWC-HP or 200gr Winchester Silvertips.

I dunno about the Hornady Critical Defense, though. It uses a 165gr version of their FTX Flex-Tip hollow point, and clocks over 900fps out of my Model 296. Thing is, Hornady's own ad copy says it'll only penetrate ten inches of ordnance gel after defeating 4LD. And against bare gel? Well, it expands beautifully but bleeds off a lot of penetration in the process, barely making it eight inches into the gel block. That's pretty underwhelming performance for a big-bore revolver cartridge.

Remember, bullet placement is three dimensional!


Thursday, February 08, 2024

And so it goes...

Mojo Nixon is with the King now.

...until it is.

So on the Bookface the other day, several of the self-identified "Old Timers" got ahold of the phrase "It's bullet placement" as though it were some ideal rebuttal to everything from the importance of projectile design to the necessity of fast and accurate shooting.

I really hate the way that aphorisms replace thinking when it comes to personal protection. It's like the term "combat mindset". I've heard dudes at the local range talking about how they'll be fine should they ever have to yank out a handgun because they have some special mindset, when I know for a fact that they couldn't hit a barn from the inside with the door closed if you gave them all day to do it because I've seen them shoot. 

Just saying "it's bullet placement" doesn't actually, you know, place the bullet.

Further, using statements like "it's bullet placement" when used to pooh-pooh thoughtfulness in ammunition selection completely ignores the fact that bullet placement is three-dimensional. To take it to the reductio ad absurdum, it doesn't do you any good to place a bullet right in the dude's snotbox if it only penetrates a half inch.

John Hearne explaining that bullet placement is three dimensional

Marty Hayes, a well-known retired firearms trainer, mentioned that he had hosted the famous Jim Cirillo, victor of numerous gunfights, and that Cirillo's mantra was "use of cover and shot placement". That is true, as far as it goes! Yet in Cirillo's own book, Guns, Bullets, and Gunfights, he spent twenty-five pages... roughly a quarter of the book ...nerding out over bullet design and the various projectiles he'd helped develop to reduce the likelihood of round-nosed lead and FMJ bullets skidding off the curved bone structure of ribs and skulls.

Resist the urge to think about this stuff like it came out of a Chinese fortune cookie, that there's one magic concept, such as "combat mindset", "bullet placement", a "fast draw", or whatever, that's going to save the day.

No single aspect of this stuff is important by itself... until it is.

I love .44 Special... unless it's a 165gr FTX hollow point that only penetrates 8" or so.

Wednesday, February 07, 2024

People in My Neighborhood

My Fujifilm kit has been missing a dedicated portrait lens. I fixed that.

Fuji X-T2 & XF 50mm f/2 R WR

Tuesday, February 06, 2024

Meme Dump

Glamour Pigeon

I'm no ornithologist, but I think this is a mourning dove, which is essentially a shyer, more tastefully-dressed pigeon with a good diet and better public relations.

Snapped with an Olympus E-5 wearing a Panasonic Leica D Vario-Elmar 14-150mm f/3.5-5.6, which is a great all-purpose walking around lens on the Oly Four Thirds DSLR bodies. Alas, the lens hoods for these long-discontinued superzooms remain unobtainum.


Way Too Much Information

Didn't we kill an awful lot of redcoats specifically to ensure that I wouldn't have to endure television newspeople telling me the condition of the king of England's junk before the breakfast hour?

I realize that RAF Typhoons are doing yeoman's work helping us bomb Houthi launch sites further back into the stone age right now, but if splashing a couple of them in an egregious blue-on-blue incident would get the talk of the royal package off my morning TV news, I'd be at least moderately in favor of it.


Monday, February 05, 2024


I was today years old when I learned the source of the term "jerkwater town".

Original steam locomotives could only go a fairly short distance before needing to replenish their water supply. The solution was to add a "tender car" behind the locomotive that carried additional fuel and water (there was a water tank under the wood or coal you see piled in the car behind the locomotive in old western movies.)

Even so, that only stretched the range to maybe a hundred and fifty miles or so between top-ups. Out in the west, this might not be far enough to get you to the next station, so the railroads built fuel and water stops at regular intervals along their routes where the locomotive could top up its tender. You've seen those water towers with the long spout that the engineer could jerk out over the tender to dump water into its tank, right?

Little hamlets would often spring up around these fuel & water stops, even though they didn't have an actual train station...


Trail's End

Here are the keepers from my last stroll with the Nikon D1X, wearing the Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G ED AF-S zoom lens...

This was shot at ISO 800 indoors, available light with the 17-55/2.8 wide open.

Always a Student

Yesterday afternoon Bobbi had to run an errand, so I rode along and while we were out, her car swung into the parking lot of Half Price Books as though on autopilot. 

While I'm not what you'd call a professional photographer, I have been paid for a picture or two at this point, and I've learned along the way. Mostly what I've learned is how much more there is to learn. That's the flip side of Dunning-Kruger: once you fall off the other side of Mount Stupid, you have an endlessly long slog up the Slope of Knowledge out of the Valley of Despair.

That goes for any skill. Greg Ellifritz is a widely respected trainer in the world of firearms and personal protection, and he writes:
"I think it is the job of a professional instructor to remain up to date in their fields of endeavor. I won’t stop taking classes as long as I am teaching these skill sets. I vow to never become one of those instructors whose peak instructional training is a weekend NRA class.

I think I owe it to my students to show them that I am continuing to do the work.
One of the meta-instructive things at a group event like TacCon or the old Paul-E-Palooza was you got to see which instructors were out there taking classes from other presenters in their free time. When someone decides they're too cool to learn anything new, it makes me question the value of their teaching.


Sunday, February 04, 2024

Ironically Orwellian

Look, I get that the World War Memorial downtown is an historically significant monument and one of the crown jewels of Indianapolis. We don't want it vandalized and it's probably a good idea to have video surveillance to help apprehend anyone who would do such a thing.

But could they have picked a slightly less ironically Orwellian location for the camera housings?

"Safe beneath the watchful eyes!"



There's apparently a stargate in downtown Indianapolis, on the state government campus, right behind the Indiana Statehouse.

Fuji X-T2 & XF 16-80mm f/4 R WR

David Merrill and I strolled around downtown taking photos yesterday and he was like "Let's go to the stargate!" and I was moderately embarrassed that I was entirely unfamiliar with said sculpture, what with having lived here for years at this point.

Now I'm low-key obsessed with getting the ideal shot of the thing...


Saturday, February 03, 2024

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #249...

The Fabrique Nationale Five-SeveN with a Trijicon RM08G and a magazine full of very angry bees.


King of the K-frame Carry Magnums

One of the most sought-after postwar K-frame variants, from back in the earliest days of the Smith & Wesson Performance Center: 
"In the early ’90s, Smith & Wesson introduced their Performance Center, and back then it was much more of a custom gun shop than it is now. With the pistol half of the Performance Center helmed by Paul Liebenberg and the revolver side of the house under the supervision of John French, the shop turned out small numbers of essentially hand-built variations on the standard production models found in the Smith & Wesson catalog.

In 1995, the Performance Center took standard round-butt Model 13 frames and fitted 3-inch heavy barrels, but with a full underlug. The cylinder latch was cut away on the bottom to make sure it would clear speedloaders, which wasn’t the standard practice on S&W revolvers at the time. With the action converted to double-action only, the hammer spur was bobbed and the trigger had a non-adjustable overtravel stop fitted in its backside.

The action was slicked up, the cylinder charge holes were chamfered, and the barrel was treated to quad Mag-Na-Ports to tame recoil. Finally, the whole thing was finished in a bead-blasted matte blue, fitted with abbreviated Eagle Secret Service grips for maximum concealability without compromising grippiness, and the finished product was etched with the Performance Center logo.

Friday, February 02, 2024

Requiem for a Heavyweight

I had my Nikon D1X out to get some exercise a couple days ago, and when I went to take a shot, the shutter made a weird noise and it looked like the mirror didn't cycle properly. I powered it off for a quick count of ten Mississippi and turned it back on again and everything seemed to return to normal.

Then yesterday after noon I was out with it again and when I went to take a shot the mirror stuck in the up position. Even with a fresh fully-charged battery, the camera just makes a muted whirring noise when the shutter button is pressed and the mirror doesn't budge.

Nikon D1X & 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D VR

I think this is the end for my D1X. Time to put a body cap on it and shelve it alongside my Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II, which had taken to spending more time throwing error codes than functioning properly.

Considering that Nikon launched the D1X in early February of 2001 with serial number 5100000 and mine is serial number 5100496, it's an old one. I was down to one really good NiMH battery pack and one that was on its last legs. It was too old to even work with my favorite Nikon DX lens, because it couldn't control the electronic diaphragm on the 16-80mm f/2.8-4E.

At this point it's a 20+ year-old DSLR that, to judge by the body, saw years of hard pro service before I bought it back in 2015; the equivalent of a workhorse getting a job giving kiddie rides at a petting zoo as a retirement gig. It's not economically repairable, but I've had some good times with it. Took it to Blogorado back in '15, shot some roller derby with the Atomic Nerds in Albuquerque, and it accompanied me on plenty of neighborhood walks.

I knew this day was coming, but I'm still a little sad.

Good job, Nikon.

Thursday, February 01, 2024

Great Moments in Bad Gun Ideas

This photo just popped up in my Microsoft OneDrive memories for the day...

I mean, the trigger was nice, and it shot okay, but the more and more I thought about it, the lessless  I dug the whole basic concept behind it...

"Hey, guys, let's make a pistol that adds a bunch of extra mechanical complexity while negating one of the principle advantages of 9x19mm, namely dirt cheap training ammo, all for the dubious benefit of adding a possible 25-to-50 feet per second of muzzle velocity!"

I mean, if you want one as a range toy-slash-safe queen simply for the mechanical curiosity because you're an absolute gun nerd, that's understandable, but I'm pretty much of the opinion that it's a fundamentally unserious choice as an actual life-saving tool.



"Scott Napper, a biochemist and vaccinologist at the University of Saskatchewan, can easily envision humanity’s ultimate doomsday disease. The scourge would spread fast, but the progression of illness would be slow and subtle. With no immunity, treatments, or vaccines to halt its progress, the disease would eventually find just about every single one of us, spreading via all manner of body fluids. In time, it would kill everyone it infected. Even our food and drink would not be safe, because the infectious agent would be hardy enough to survive common disinfectants and the heat of cooking; it would be pervasive enough to infest our livestock and our crops. “Imagine if consuming a plant could cause a fatal, untreatable neurodegenerative disorder,” Napper told me. “Any food grown within North America would be potentially deadly to humans.”

This nightmare illness doesn’t yet exist. But for inspiration, Napper needs to look only at the very real contagion in his own lab: chronic wasting disease (CWD), a highly lethal, highly contagious neurodegenerative disease that is devastating North America’s deer, elk, and other cervids.
Well, if you want me to read your article on CWD and other prion diseases, that's certainly an effective hook of an opening paragraph, let me tell you.


Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Automotif CDLXVI...

Here's a first generation Chevrolet C/K pickup, obviously someone's half-done hot rod project (or entirely-done rat rod... it can be hard to tell the difference sometimes.)

The doors say it's a '64-'66, I think, although I'm hardly fluent in Old Truck.


Can I get an "amen"?

"[T]his disaffected bloc of Americans (and the poor souls living in swing states) will have to endure months on end of extreme partisan rhetoric, negative advertising, cable news vitriol, and people losing their minds on X, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok about other people’s political views and choices—all fueled by billions of dollars in unaccountable funds from wealthy sources and activist groups that are perfectly content to see the country break in two for ideological or financial gain.


The only rational form of self-protection from this madness is to refuse to engage in America’s misshapen partisan politics and to instead pursue other forms of citizenship.

Focus on something other than politics. Talk with friends and colleagues about anything other than partisan divides and culture war clickbait. Turn off and disable the media and tech sources spreading partisan negativity. Turn the mind towards something positive and constructive in life rather than imbibing party propaganda designed to make people anxious, confused, angry, or vengeful.
To be knee-deep in the Very Online kulturkampf these days is to drink from a firehose of negativity and panic and anger, because that's what gets the clicks and the donations and the virality.

To see a politician's TV ad is to be bombarded with images and messages suggesting the country is on the verge of ruin unless you vote for our guy... oh, and help us save America by giving us money by texting CANDIDATE to 12345.

The effect is to keep your "fight-or-flight" reflex on constant low burn, keeping your brain simmering in a 24/7 broth of stress hormones.

Unplug from that shit. Go a week without talking to anybody about anything political. Otherwise you're going to find yourself listening to a podcaster or vlogger rambling about how the CIA Deep State is rigging Taylor Swift to make Travis win the Vaccine Bowl for Biden or whatever cockamamie nonsense is making the rounds now. If you do find yourself watching that and nodding along, you need to go outside and touch some grass, friend.


Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Retro Pockets

I used the Amazon gift card Bobbi gave me for my birthday to order a used Kodak Easyshare V1073.

Now I have a copy of each digicam I used before getting my first DSLR:
  • Sony Mavica FD88
  • Nikon Coolpix 990
  • Kodak Easyshare V1073
  • Canon PowerShot SX500
Now to go back and see if I can reshoot some things I shot back in the day, using the same gear, but do it better! The arrows are the same, but the Indian's gotten a bit better over the years, or at least I'd like to think so.

Alas, I won't be able to re-do the Lucky Gunner Blogger Shoot, or Knob Creek, or classes with Louis Awerbuck and Todd Green, or...

Kodak Easyshare at Knob Creek in 2011

Sunday, January 28, 2024

The Moment

Once upon a time, the cover of Sports Illustrated was the showcase for some of the best sports photography in the world.
"For sports fans of a certain age, the memory of running to the mailbox to see what was on the cover of the latest weekly issue of Sports Illustrated is indelible. For decades, the magazine’s photographers, writers and editors held the power to anoint stars and deliver the definitive account of the biggest moments in sports, often with just a single photograph and a few words on the cover. It was the most powerful real estate in sports journalism."
Over time, though, it became less an exhibition of action photography and more and more of a celebrity showcase.
"“It became less of a news thing and more of a personality thing,” said Al Tielemans, a staff photographer for almost 20 years. He described an evolution of editors’ wanting the key moment of the game, and then a good photo of the star of the game, and then a photo featuring the most famous person in the game, and then finally just a headshot of a star."
SI laid off all its staff photogs in 2015, and now the publication itself might be a goner.
"The internet, and social media platforms like Instagram, mean that more photography is showcased to more people than ever before. Now that fans see every angle of every game, with highlights and shots available instantly on social media, no single image has the same power that Sports Illustrated’s cover once did."
Checking their online schedule, it looks like the first weekday matinee home game for the Indianapolis Indians is on Wednesday, April 17th. I guess I'll mark my calendar and get ready to go larp as a sports photojournalist...