Friday, May 31, 2024

Happy Place

At Range Ready... (a first class facility) ...this morning.

Place Holder

Busy this morning. More to come this evening.

In the meantime, say hello to this very good boi.

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Meme Dump...

Sports Fan Alignment Chart

Keeping Ivan Honest

USAF B-52 bombers have been sortieing over the Baltic, letting the Russians know we're keeping an eye on an area where they've been getting increasingly frisky and provocative.


Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Travel Rig

If I’m not traveling with checked bags, that really dings my camera choices.

The Think Tank Airport Advantage has to stay home, and I’m limited to my Peak Design Everyday Messenger that’s big enough for my 13” MacBook Air, one camera body, and three lenses, plus ancillary gear. Plus the cheater body & travel zoom lens I hang around my neck for the trip, that’s two bodies and four lenses.

I can free up a little room by leaving the portable hard drive and the cabled Compact Flash card reader at home. I have a temporary “Travel Photos” folder on my desktop that gets kept synced thanks to Apple, so that’s not a problem, but leaving the CF reader at home means I’m limited to cameras that use SD cards, which can be read via the slot on the notebook.

Only a couple of my Canon DSLRs use SD cards, and they’re still full from TacCon. Plus, two of them are 1D pro bodies and those use enormous batteries with a double charger the size of a literal brick, which kinda defeats the purpose.

Good thing all my Fujifilm gear is in a handy grab-‘n’-go Peak Design Everyday Sling… that, oops!, is too small for the MB Air.

If it’s a one or two night trip, I might rough it without the laptop and just make do with the iPad and its Logitech keyboard cover, but three or more nights in a hotel room, I’m gonna need to get some work done, so it looks like there’s gonna be unpacking and repacking and cross-loading of gear before I leave.


Automotif DVII...

The mid-Fifties was before Chevrolet offered a range of subcompact, compact, mid-size, and full-size cars. If you walked into a Chevy dealership in 1957, there were two basic cars: The 2-seat Corvette sports car, and the full-size Chevrolet.

The latter, however, was available in a bewildering variety of configurations. There were three basic trim levels: the 150, the 210, and the top-of-the-line Bel Air. Further, each of the three trim levels could be had in a number of coupe, sedan, and wagon configurations. (See this '55 Sedan Delivery as an example.) 

In the photo above is a 1957 Bel Air sedan in Tropical Turquoise and India Ivory, classically hot-rodded on mag wheels and fat raised white letter tires.


It's a plague upon the land...

I’m half expecting Maher, Seinfeld, and Dennis Miller to merge, forming some nightmarish Cranky Late Boomer Formerly Funny Voltron and go on a rampage across the late night talk show stages of America.
“He’s 27 feet tall, has laser eyes, hasn’t told a funny joke since 2002, and he can’t take a hint: He’s Overstayed His Welcome Man!”
It's like this formulaic attempt at a career reboot with a "Didja ever notice they won't let you tell jokes about fat people, chicks, and Asians anymore?" routine is being circulated in some private Telegram channel for past their best-by-date comedians.


Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Automotif DVI...

Pontiac launched the Ventura nameplate in 1960, during the "Bunkie" Knudsen years, when Pete Estes and his young assistant John Z. DeLorean were boosting sales by zhuzhing up the division's lineup. This was when Pontiac's rebranding as GM's "Excitement Division" really got underway.

The Ventura was based on the full-size Catalina. It was only available as a hardtop coupe or sedan and featured distinctive exterior trim, unique upholstery, and a sport steering wheel.

The one in the photos is a 1967 Ventura hardtop sedan in Marina Turquoise.

For 1967, Pontiac had upped the displacement of the V-8 offerings in their full-size cars, with the 389 getting bored out to 400 cubes and the 421 getting punched to 428 cubic inches... sorta. There's a story.

You know how the old 302 Windsor in the Ford Mustang is actually 4,942 cc's, but Ford calls it the "5.0", nominally because they already sold a 4.9L inline-six truck motor, but more likely because 5.0 looks cooler on fender badges?

Well, in 1967, Pontiac's large-journal V-8...

(Technically Pontiac didn't have "small block" and "big block" V-8s. All the Pontiac blocks were the same size, but they had smaller displacement motors with narrower main bearing journals and larger displacement ones with wider main bearing journals.)

...anyway, in '67 Pontiac took their 421 and gave it a roughly .030" overbore, yielding a 426.61 cubic inch displacement. But Ford and Chevy were already selling 427 V-8's, so thanks to the magic of the marketing department, the Poncho motor magically became a 428.

In '67 the Ventura could be had with the whole range of Catalina motors. There were two choices of 2-bbl 400: a lower-compression one for running on regular gas and rated at 265 SAE gross horsepower, and a higher compression 2bbl 400 rated at 290. Then you had a 4-bbl 400 that had 325hp with a HydraMatic 3-speed auto or 333hp when equipped with a 3- or 4-speed manual.

Finally you had the 4-barrel 428 in standard 360 horse or 375bhp "Quadra-Power" H.O. trim.

Meme Dump...

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Automotif DV...

The W123 midsize sedans from Mercedes-Benz were the immediate forebears for what's now known as the "E-class" Benz. They were sober-sided, solid cars that broke sales records for the brand.

Launched in 1976, they were sold as coupes, sedans, and wagons, and came with an array of gas and diesel powerplants and both manual and automatic transmissions. These were found in roles as everything from taxicabs to junior executive cars all around the globe, but M-B North America only brought the higher-trim varieties into the U.S. market.

Stateside we could get either the 2.8L fuel-injected DOHC 12V inline-six rated at 142bhp or one of two diesels: the 62hp 2.4L four banger or the 77bhp 3.0L inline five-cylinder. After 1980, only the diesels remained, with the gasoline M110 I6 dropped to keep CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) numbers up.

The late-'70s Mercedes-Benz 300D in English Red in these photos would be bog-slow, with a zero-to-sixty time that struggled to crack the twenty second barrier and a top speed of something like 90mph, but they got good mileage for their time and a well-maintained diesel Benz from this era is harder to kill than a cockroach. If you couldn't get 300k miles out of one, you weren't trying, and in an era when a car was considered completely knackered when its five-digit odometer rolled over, that was nothing short of miraculous.

Moves Like Jagger

Here are a couple of fact bombs you can drop into a conversation if you need to blow some minds...
  • With their July 13th tour date in Inglewood, California this year, The Rolling Stones' first concert will be closer to the 19th Century than it is to their latest concert.

  • Mick Jagger's youngest son is younger than his great-grandson.
Gives a whole new vibe to "moves like Jagger".

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Lyrical Naming

When Toyota and General Motors, two auto manufacturers who have... deserved or not ...reputations for grey-flannel corporate stodginess, launched a joint manufacturing venture here in the U.S.A., they called it NUMMI, which is an appropriately dull and stodgy acronym.

When Mopar and Mitsubishi did likewise, a few years later, the outfit was called Diamond-Star Motors, officially a reference to Mitsubishi's triple diamond logo and Chrysler's Pentastar.

But you know that the latter name was really because some audacious dude in marketing was a Marc Bolan fan and managed to get away with it.


Overheard in the Office...

RX: "These are the people Elon Musk wants to colonize Mars with."

Me: "Funnily enough, these are the people I want Elon Musk to colonize Mars with, too."


Too late, they've bred...

The Collinses didn’t tell me Simone was eight months pregnant when we were making plans for me to spend a Saturday with them at home in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, but I guess it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. They are the poster children of the pronatalist movement, on a mission to save humanity by having as many babies as possible.

Malcolm, 37, answers the door of their 18th-century farmhouse with four-year-old Octavian George, who is thrilled to have a visitor, bringing toy after toy to show me like an overexcited golden retriever. His little brother, two-year-old Torsten Savage, is on his iPad somewhere upstairs. Simone, 36, in an apron that strains across her belly, has her daughter, 16-month-old Titan Invictus, strapped to her back. The imminent arrival of their fourth child, a girl they plan to name Industry Americus Collins, turns out to be only the first in a string of surprises – and one really shocking thing – that I will encounter during my day with the pronatalists.
I don't get these people who act like a bit of population shrinkage would be the worst thing in the world. Remember what a barren, empty hellscape this country was when it only had two thirds as many people as it does now, way back in 1976? Yeah, me too.

Also, are these people trying to make their kids hate them?
Me: "Hahahaha those countries with baby-naming laws are so quaint and authoritarian."

These Dweebs: *name their human daughter in 21st Century America "Titan Invictus"*

Me: "Okay, so about those baby-naming laws..."
I'm like "You people get that these aren't, like, Funko Pops or collectible action figures or lifestyle achievement badges to show off to your friends in your private Discord server, but are actual independent humans who are going to have a life of their own in a surprisingly short number of years and are probably going to loathe their weird-ass given names, right?"

(And before you say "Well, Black people have been naming their kids funny-sounding names for years..." what I want you to understand is that there's a difference between wanting to have names that are cultural signifiers... yet still recognizably names ...that aren't the ones that had been assigned to your family by the people who bought and sold your ancestors as chattel, and just being weird for the sake of being weird. D'shaun or Latisha are names, made-up names, sure, but names nonetheless*. "Industry Americanus" is a dorky-ass affectation.)

*"Why don't they use names from the part of Africa their families came from?" you ask, and the answer is that nobody knows where they came from because it's not like their abductors or purchasers took careful notes on that stuff.

Friday, May 24, 2024

Meme Dump...

Dots Don't Go Everywhere...Yet

I'm on record as mentioning I'm not a huge fan of the 3" J-frame, and that steel J-frames in general don't have a ton of applicability in my world.

Small revolvers fall into one of two categories in my world. Either they're a pocket/ankle gun, or they're a belt gun. For me, a 3" J-frame is too long for a pocket, and a steel-framed one is too heavy for a pocket. I've pocket-carried a S&W 432 (and a 442 before it) for almost 25 years now, but a steel gun would make my winter coat hang funny.

"But you could carry a 3" J-frame in a belt holster!" you say. Well, sure. But I could also carry a Detective Special, a Taurus 856/327, or a 3" Smith & Wesson K-frame in a belt holster with no more real difficulty and get a 20% ammunition capacity boost. In fact I have been carrying an 856 TORO for a year now.

This is what makes the new R.O.C. J-frame red dot mount from Shield Arms a real head-scratcher for me. It mounts to a Smith J-frame using the sideplate screws, but all the photos show it on a Model 442. That effectively makes the gun too big for a pocket and anyone who's actually carried an ankle gun should get a good belly laugh out of the idea of sticking an MRDS in the most dirt-and-lint collecting spot where it's possible to tote a blaster. (Even IWB, the 507k on my TORO needs blowing clean every few days.)

I guess you could use it to mount a dot on a belt-carried 3" 640 or something, but all the J-frame revolvers in Smith & Wesson's current catalog lineup that could really benefit from a small red dot... think the 3" Model 60, Model 63, or Model 317 ...all have adjustable rear sights, which means that they're already compatible with an Allchin-type scope mount.

I mean, I get that red dots are awesome, but we're a ways off from a functional MRDS solution for pocket guns.

(H/T to Gorillafritz.)


Tab Clearing...


Thursday, May 23, 2024

Automotif DIV...

Nikon D3 & AF Nikkor 24-85mm f/2.8-4D

For most of the '80s, the Third Generation of the Ford Mustang ran roughshod over its F-body foes from GM at the traffic lights of America. 

The 305 Chevy, even in Tuned Port Injection form, gave up too much power to the 5.0L H.O. in the Mustang, and the 350 Vette motor was only available with a slushbox (plus the Camaro's more restrictive intake and exhaust choked the 5.7 TPI to the point where it only achieved horsepower parity with the 302 Ford.)

The tables were turned in the early Nineties, when the 275hp LT1 350 in the Camaro easily overpowered the 215hp 5.0L H.O. in the SN95 Mustang GT.

In an attempt to even things up, Ford released a Mustang Cobra under their SVT banner. While the bottom end of the motor was the same as the tried and true 5.0, it got GT40 heads, a new cam and intake manifold, underdriven accessory pulleys, and other tricks to bump the output to 240 SAE net horsepower.

Nikon 1 V2 & 1 Nikkor 18.5mm f/1.8

This was the swan song of the pushrod V8 in Mustang Cobras, because the '96-'98 Cobras featured a DOHC 32V version of Ford's 4.6L Modular V-8. The hand-built versions in the SVT Cobra, like this 1996 or 1997 ragtop, were rated at 305bhp.


Landlords From Hell

What happens when a pack of internet investors buy your apartment complex?
Things started to fall apart, though, sometime after the first months of the pandemic. Tenants moved out in the dead of night as if they didn’t want anyone to see them; eviction notices would show up on their doors long after they’d left. The gym and pool shut down for “safety” reasons; when the building was sold the summer after COVID hit, the latter turned green. According to McMullen-Clarke, phantom surcharges began showing up on every rent bill, but when she called the front office to discuss them the phone would ring and ring; she later learned they’d stopped paying the phone bill. The new management charged $40 a month for “valet” trash service, but canceled its contract with the company retained to pick up trash every evening, so the same overworked maintenance guy who did everything else on the property had to pick up trash as well, and only when he got around to it. “There was garbage everywhere, it was really tragic,” McMullen-Clarke says.


Weeds grew, in which new tenants would let their dogs shit without picking it up. Management would shut the water off throughout the entire complex for hours constantly; once a week at first, then just about every other day. But when the water was on, it would leak from 100 different spots and attract ever more pestilence. The rat population exploded, eventually taking up residence in the ceiling above McMullen-Clarke’s bedroom, where they scratched and fought and made it hard to fall asleep. One day as she was ascending the stairway, she noticed a rat sitting contentedly on the handrail for which she’d been reaching. “I took a deep breath and said to myself, OK, one of us is leaving.”

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Meme Dump...

"This was your father's weapon. I took it after I chopped his legs off and left him in a volcano."

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Is Novelty a Necessity?

In a post about the Heritage Roscoe on social media, a reader asked what the new offering from Heritage would do that a double-action revolver hadn't already done, or if maybe it would do it in a different or better way.

That got me to thinking on how a segment of the market demands novelty as the justification for a new model.

In the case of the Roscoe, you only have to look at the name of the manufacturer, "Heritage", to realize that cutting edge novelty isn't exactly their milieu. After all, their bread and butter offerings are inexpensive plinkers that are functional and cosmetic clones of a 151-year-old revolver design.

Sometimes the retro is the point. Colt has done reissues of their WWI and WWII era M1911 and M1911A1. Springfield Armory sold bunches of their "Milspec" model, so much so that they brought the GI, or as we called it in the shop back then, the Even Milspeccer Milspec.

In the case of the Roscoe, what it does is bring the basic blued-steel 5-shot snub-nosed revolver back to market at a reasonable price. Smith & Wesson still offers the Model 36 Classic, but the MSRP on that thing is better than double that of the Roscoe. 

Of course, fifteen or twenty years ago there would have been no call for a gat like this because its main competition would have been the ocean of used Model 36's, but these days even J-frames aren't immune to price pressures from collectibles. A Chiefs Special that's priced like the Roscoe is gonna be a beater, and one that looks like all shiny and new is going to present the owner with that classic quandary: How much do you want to shoot a gun when a turn ring on the cylinder can knock a Benjamin off the value?

You could do like a lot of collectors: Put the pristine Chiefs Special in the safe and buy a beater 36 to shoot. Or you could buy a shiny Roscoe and shoot it.

Monday, May 20, 2024


Well, it’s been six months since I felt the need to jostle the tip jar suggestively with my elbow while wiping down the VFTP bar top here.

A sudden work trip popped up at the end of this month (and you’ll get the details here at View From the Porch as soon as I’m free to release them) but it’s one of those ones where the public relations agency handling things is like “…and be sure to save your receipts and we’ll reimburse them!”

Now, they’re handling airfare and a hotel and whatnot, but when I read things like that, I’m like “Dude, I’m a freelance writer. Reimbursement of expenses is nice, but I can’t just poop out a thousand bucks on command!

If you’ve just found a twenty in the sofa cushions and can’t figure out where to spend it, the tip jar in the side bar would be much appreciated!

Short Thoughts

Automotif DIII...

With the Indy 500 you have the pace car itself, then you have "pace car" special editions sold by the manufacturer that are cosmetic clones. But there are additional marketing tie-ins! You'll see SUV's, for example, sold as "official vehicles", and then you have the official cars of the 500 Festival, which is the overarching organization for the Mini-Marathon, the 500 Festival Parade, and all the other events leading up to race day here in the Circle City.

For 2018, the fifty Festival Cars were Chevrolet Camaro 2SS Convertible Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary Editions, which feature a distinctive "Orange Crush" paint job and the 455bhp 6.2 liter LT1 V-8. This one went rolling up College Avenue yesterday.


The Airport Cultural Index

As a longtime orbital peeper using the GoogleSat, I've found something interesting about airports. In some parts of the world, they're a mess.

Check out this disorganized corner of ramp in El Alto Airport in La Paz...

...or the back forty of Quatro de Fevereiro airport in Luanda, Angola...

You don't see that kind of disorganization at Narita, or Schipol, or Heathrow. Airports in the developed world tend to be pretty organized places. The mothballed aircraft at Davis-Monthan, Kingman Field, or Pinal Airpark tend to be parked in orderly rows. Even the Libyan C-130's quietly decaying in a clearing in the woods on the grounds of the Lockeed plant in Marietta are tucked in neatly among the pines.

So the state of Russian airports often surprises me. The Apathy of Kleptocracy: It's visible from space!

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Desertification, Coupification

The Sahel is the name of the belt of arid land south of the Sahara desert proper. It's also the portion of the continent that's been referred to as the "coup belt", due to the fact that in the last three years, countries from Guinea in the west to Sudan in the east have been rocked by coups d'etat

As north Africa dries out, the Sahel has been spreading southward. So, apparently, is the coup belt.


Tab Clearing...


Saturday, May 18, 2024

Automotif DII...

Buick used the Skylark name on its midsize cars from 1964 through 1972. These were on the same GM A-body platform as the Chevrolet Chevelle and Oldsmobile Cutlass. After a brief hiatus, the nameplate returned on the smaller 1975 Skylark, which rode on the Chevy Nova/Pontiac Ventura X-body platform.

It made the jump to front-wheel drive in 1980 as the Buick flavor of the Chevy Citation and then spent the final years of the Eighties as an N-body compact, along with the Pontiac Grand Am and Olds Cutlass Calais.

For 1992, the fifth generation Skylark appeared, riding on a stretched and widened N-body. It had a weird sort of "beaked" chrome grille and came with either a SOHC version of the Olds Quad4 motor or the 3.3L GM corporate V6. The styling was weird and somewhat off-putting to Buick's normally stodgy buying demographic and so for 1996 it received a mid-cycle styling refresh with a more conventional snout, like the Bright White 1996-'98 Skylark Custom sedan in the picture above.

Available in two trim levels, Custom and Limited, the base motor was now the 150bhp DOHC version of the Olds Quad4, and either trim level could be had with a 160bhp GM 3100 pushrod V-6.

The Skylark name was retired after the 1998 model year, as was the entire idea of a compact sedan offering from Buick, unless you count the short-lived Verano model of the 2010s.


Friday, May 17, 2024

New revolver from Heritage Mfg...

Fifty rounds of 130gr FMJ, seven yards, double action

Just announced at NRAAM: The Heritage Roscoe. It's a classic 5-shot .38 Special snubby, in carbon steel with checkered wood grips. (Basically, it's the return of the Taurus 85 in a retro format.) Suggested retail is well under four hundo, so street prices should be quite reasonable.

Look for a review in the next issue of Concealment magazine. 

The stocks are pretty, but you'll want to swap them out for carry use.


Meme Dump...

"THERE... ARE... FIVE... GUYS..."

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Today in "People Are Dumb"...

From the Associated Press:
Federal auto safety regulators are warning people not to stick decals on their steering wheels because they can be hurled at drivers if the air bags inflate in a crash.

The warning from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration comes after another driver was severely hurt by a flying emblem during a crash. The air bag inflated and sent two pieces of metal from an aftermarket decal into the driver’s face and neck.

The agency said it couldn’t say where or when the injury occurred. But it said the injury was the second it is aware of involving an aftermarket decal. In the previous case the driver lost sight in one eye after being hit by a rhinestone-adorned decal that hit them in the face, NHTSA said in a statement Tuesday.
Apparently bling-encrusted vehicle logo stickers are a thing that people stick in the center of their steering wheel hub, right over the airbag cover. You know, the airbag that deploys via an explosive charge. Essentially this means you can buy fragmentation sleeves for your safety grenade from Amazon!

From Reddit, where someone hot-glued a homemade claymore.

Imagine if someone did this in a car that had un-replaced Takata airbags!

"Yo, dawg, I heard you like fragments so I put some fragments on your fragments..."


Meme Dump...

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Automotif DI...

Here's a style of car that died out a while ago, largely replaced by small vans. The "sedan delivery" style was a two-door wagon with no side windows into the cargo area. They were more maneuverable on crowded city streets than truck-based delivery vans, and generally cheaper and more fuel efficient.

This one's a '55 Chevy that's obviously been hot-rodded.

Those expanses of sheet metal enclosing the cargo area made a handy place to paint the company name, in this case "Paul's Garage & Speed Shop" which, alas, does not appear to have a web presence under that name that I can find.