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Friday, October 24, 2014

Compare and Contrast...

This has been bugging the heck out of me all week.

On the one hand, run "Palin brawl" through Google: 231,000 results.

Contrast that to "Biden cocaine" through Google: 21,100 results.

The story of someone who ran for vice president eight years ago getting into a shouting match at a barbeque has more than an order of magnitude more results than the son of the current vice president getting kicked out of the Navy for illegal drug use.

Oh, but there's no media bias, nossirree. Well, there is, it's just that evil right wing Fox News, you see. MSNBCBSCNN are nothing but paragons of equality and fairness, right? But yeah, the non-story to end all non-stories, about the Palin family being involved in an altercation, has been front-page news for weeks (the brawl happened September 6th).

Yet the son of the Vice President of the United States is discharged from the Navy - after receiving special waivers to get in - for illegal drug use, and it's no big deal. Oh, and speaking of waivers, Hunter also received a second waiver to join the Navy, for a drug related charge he accrued in the late 1980s.

Repeated drug use, special favors, and the media can't be bothered. A dust up at a backyard barbecue and it is front page news for weeks. Nope. No bias here. The media is absolutely dead-on fair. The daughter of a woman who ran for vice president is involved in a shouting match at a party, and that warrants non-stop coverage for six weeks (and counting), whereas the son of the sitting vice president commits an actual crime and the crickets are deafening.

Here's another metric:

CNN's main page, search for Palin: 7 out of the top 10 are about the "brawl" that happened 6 weeks ago.

CNN's main page, search for Biden: 5 out of the top 10 are about Hunter's discharge.

So, the all-news network has more stories about the Palin family getting in an altercation up in Alaska than the son of the Vice President getting kicked out of the Navy for doing coke.

Right. No bias here.

That is all.


Friday Car Pr0n #53

There was absolutely no question as to what today's car pic was going to be.


1953 Chevrolet Corvette.

#53 had to be the '53 'Vette, the one that started it all. Whatever your thoughts are on the current state of General Motors, the 1953 Corvette was a bold statement from the company. After suspending production during WWII (can you *imagine* any car company doing that today), American car manufacturers roared back with a vengeance. It took a few years to get back into the swing, but by the early 1950s American cars were three things: ornate, showy and large.

The Corvette was none of these things. It sat two people, the driver and a single passenger, in a time when most cars could seat six. For dinner. It had chrome, sure; no car at the time didn't, but it wasn't dripping in it. And it was small, with a powerful (for the time) engine, a 253 cubic inch six cylinder putting out 150 horsepower. It was designed to be America's answer to the Jaguars, Austin Healeys, Alfa Romeos, and other small, light two-seaters from across the pond.

Because, if WWII showed us anything, it was that if the Europeans could do something, we could do it better.

That is all.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Top. Men.

I feel so much better now that the grownups are back in charge.

Former U.S. president candidate Hart to be representative for Northern Ireland
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday named former Senator Gary Hart as his representative on Northern Ireland, nearly 30 years after the Democratic politician's bid for the U.S. presidency was cut short by a sex scandal.

Kerry said in a statement that Hart, 77, who in recent years gained a name as a national security expert and author, would play a "direct, on-the-ground diplomatic role."
Gary Hart. The man who dared the media to follow him around to ensure he wasn't cheating on his wife and then had his girlfriend sit on his lap on the boat named -- I kid you not -- Monkey Business. Top. Men. The man was a Senator nearly 30 years ago, lost the Democratic nomination in 1988 to Michael Dukakis, and became famous for an affair in which he got caught. Easily.

Now, how Hart, a former Senator from Colorado, became a national security expert is anyone's guess. He's been on several boards through the Obama administration, and stumped for Lurch in 2004 (yes, bringing *all* the star power of Gary Hart), but somehow this makes him a security expert. The man who had an affair after telling the media to follow him to prove he was innocent of having an affair.

Then again, our "Ebola Czar" is a lawyer whose main claim to fame is having been Joe Biden's chief-of-staff, so why the hell not?

That is all.

Another dispatch from...
(image courtesy of Robb Allen)

Fairwell and Fair Seas...

As of Sunday, for the first time in nearly 20 years we will no longer own a camper. Our home-away-from-home, the traveling sanctuary that has served us so well in the White Mountains, at the beach, on Cape Cod, and elsewhere will be picked up by her new owners and given a new set of adventures.


Farewell, old friend.

We bought the camper in March, 2007. That's seven and a half years, with an average of two or three trips a year. Some years we took it out more, a couple we didn't even get it out once. Even if the move to VA hadn't forced our hand, I think we'd have been looking to sell it in a year or two, anyways. The Dodge has another couple years in her (at least); I think we'd have sold the camper before trading it in and avoided another pickup.

But that's neither here nor there.

The biggest reason is that the kids are growing up. The last time we took the camper out - when TheBoy was 12 and BabyGirl G. was 10 - TheBoy complained about the bunk bed being too small. He had a much better time sleeping on a cot in a small tent with me than on the family trip - sure, part of that was the one-on-one attention, but I think the bigger part is the independence. He's asserting more and more every day, testing limits and boundaries, etc. and I think the last place he wants to spend a week is a small metal box with mom & dad...

Besides, we have a lot of exploring to do here in Virginia without bringing a camper along...

It's going to a friend-of-a-friend, through a family who lived on our street that also owns a travel trailer. They're going to be able to camp together, that sort of thing, and will get many years of fun out of the trailer; certainly more than we would have gotten. Their kids are younger, the folks buying the trailer are younger, I think she's going to a good home.

It got me to thinking, though. Some of my favorite memories growing up involved the small class C camper my folks owned. They bought it when I was 5 - I remember one of our first trips in it was a road trip out to visit family in Minnesota, and my sister was just a baby - and sold it when I was either 10 or 11. My folks had that little van-front camper for less time than we had our travel trailer, yet I still, some 30+ years later, have vivid memories of it. I remember nights spent listening to the foghorns of the ships passing through the canal as I "slept" on the bunk over the cab. I remember walking on the beach at dusk, collecting seashells.


I hope my kids have the same types of happy memories from our camper, and I hope the folks who bought it make some memories of their own...

That is all.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Reason 216,692 I'm Glad Left...

...is this lovely little bit of socialist agit-prop from Moscow-on-the-Fort-River, courtesy of #1 blogdaughter.

Mass. district’s new curriculum shifts balance ‘away from the individual and towards the social whole’
While many school districts slyly implement far-left social justice reforms behind closed doors, others are flying the red flag proudly.

The Amherst-Pelham Regional School District, which recently subjected middle school students to a social justice assembly that left children sobbing and traumatized, penned a 63 page document in 2008 detailing their intent to socially transform America, via your children.
Can't you just envision the teachers, sitting around in the teacher's lounge, congratulating each other over their Che T-shirts, thinking they're the most multi-culti district in the Commonwealth? I'm sure they all went to a lumberyard and cried about trees later, then retired to a trendy coffee shop, where they complained bitterly about the baristas making "a living wage", yet left no tip.

I'm sure they try their level-best to ensure that all sorts of diversity is taught in their classrooms - except diversity of thought, no doubt. I'll bet if you asked them, each one thinks - no, is certain - they are doing a Great Social Good. I wonder if anyone ever asks them how the children do compared to the national average.

Then again, who cares about education when there's social indoctrination to be had?

That is all.

Just... Watch.

Saw this on Facebook last night. Had to watch the whole thing.



The Buick Grand National is my third-favorite car ever, following the 1959 Cadillac El Dorado Biarritz and the 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge. The Grand National was unlike anything the 1980s had seen. Since the gas crisis of the 1970s, and increasing emission controls, cars had gotten slower and slower and by the early 1980s were a mere shell of what they had been in the 1960s and early '70s. Gone were the big block V8s, the 440 CI plants putting out over 400 horsepower; in their place were anemic six cylinders and dramatically de-tuned small 8s. The 2.8L V6 that got put in small trucks. The 4.1L V8 that went into the 80 foot long Cadillac de Ville. It was generally a bad time for American cars, all around.

And then the Grand National. It looked nothing like a Buick; it looked far more like one of the Chevy pace cars put together for show. Except for that 3.8 liter turbocharged V6. At the time, it was one of the very fastest cars in the world - a 0-60 acceleration time of 4.9 seconds, which at the time was phenomenal. The Lamborghini Countach and Ferarri Testarossa were slower. SLOWER. A Buick - the brand of car your grandmother drove (mine had four Buicks in the 30 years I knew her) - beat the living daylights out of the best Italy had to offer from a dead stop. That's amazing.

Yeah, there's a good reason to love the GN...

That is all.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Softer Side of Prison

Wow. Seems like some folks really do reach for the stars. Of course, sometimes it's just to steal them. Talk about aiming high, though...

Sears clerk arrested for swiping nearly $4 million in items
New Jersey police charged one lone Sears clerk for stealing —and then trying to sell —$3.7 million worth of goods from a warehouse, The Daily Mail reported on Monday.

The publication said Kim Watson, 32, was arrested on Friday and allegedly sold high-end merchandise from the Sears Distribution Center in Logan Township, New Jersey. An investigation found items from bedding to kitchen appliances missing from the warehouse.
I'm trying to wrap my head around this. I mean, Sears sells appliances, but I find it hard to believe she was moving dozens of ranges out of the warehouse every week. Now, granted, there's no time period listed - this could have been over the past decade - but I have to believe that even if it was over a period of 10 years, Sears would notice more than a third of a million dollars a year going missing.

Now, police are pretty sure she had accomplices and a distribution network, so it's likely there's a lot more to the story. It never ceases to amaze me just how cheaply some people will sell out their good names and their vocations. At least in this case, it's in the millions. I do have to laugh, though - this woman absconded with millions of dollars of merchandise, sold it for cash, and her bail was $50K...

I wonder if she'll try to use some variation of wealth-redistribution as her defense?

That is all.

One Year...

As of 8:30 this morning, I will have been at the new (dream) job exactly one year. I still cannot believe that I managed to score a gig that pays me to write about guns on the internet. Heck, one day I actually was tasked with posting a picture of a shotgun with a bayonet on Facebook.

As. Part. Of. My. Job.

In the past year I've gotten paid to attend SHOT and the NRA Annual Meeting (which, BTW, is NOWHERE near as glamorous as it sounds, trust me); I've gotten to go to Wyoming to learn how to shoot at ridiculously long distances (that WAS as fun as it sounds), I've been to Smith & Wesson as a legit media-type, and I've met literally hundreds of folks in the business I'd followed for decades.

There are times when it's stressful, when we're under a deadline or waiting to hear back from a manufacturer for a critical spec for a story. But that's life, really. I had deadlines at my last job, and the job before that. I had episodes where I was waiting for input from folks outside my sphere of influence in both previous jobs as well.

But neither of those jobs paid me to post a picture to Facebook of a shotgun with a bayonet attached, either...

A year. Wow. It has flown by, and I have learned so much. One of the biggest things I've learned is that I still have so very much to learn. As I expand my horizons and learn things outside my comfort zone I see how much more there is to learn and how much I truly don't know. It's rather zen, really. I'm still having a blast, loving the new job, and getting used to the idea that I got the hell out of Massachusetts.

Still miss the friends and family I left behind; the politics, though, not so much...

That is all.

Monday, October 20, 2014

I Wish This Shocked Me...

But given that it's MA, it doesn't.

Hopkinton School Bus Driver Arrested For OUI With Students On Board
A school bus driver has been charged with operating under the influence — his third offense — while driving a bus full of high school students, police say.

On Saturday, 25 Hopkinton High School cross country athletes were returning from a meet at about 10:30 p.m., when the coach on the bus called police and reported concerns that the bus driver might be intoxicated, according to a Hopkinton police statement. Police met the bus as it turned into the high school’s parking lot and let students off safely.
I honestly don't know which upsets me more: On the one hand, we have a guy tasked with driving high school kids to and from an athletic meet that decided to tie one on to the point where other adults on the bus had to call the police. That's bad. However, is it as bad as the fact that he had twice previously been found under the influence while behind the wheel and was still not only driving on a valid license but driving a school bus?

I mean, still having your driver's license is bad enough, but being eligible to drive a school bus? *TWO* previous OUI convictions isn't enough to permanently bar you from driving a school bus? Are we really that hard up for drivers that we let the worst of the worst drive?

So, how many months before he gets his fourth offense?

That is all.


Knowing Your Limitations...

Folks who are friends with me on Facebook know I did something foolish this past weekend. Even though I really should know better; even though I am in the business; even though there's plenty of evidence against it; I did something stupid:

I field-stripped a Ruger Mark III.

I know, I know. I'm funny like that. You tell me I shouldn't do something, well, that's like waving the red flag in front of the bull. I had instructions. I had tools. I had an afternoon ahead of me...

I should have known better. It came apart pretty much exactly like the directions said it should. I got the four main groups separated, cleaned, and oiled with no problems.

Then I attempted reassembly.

The barrel went back on the grip assembly easily. The spring went into the bolt easily. The bolt even went into the barrel easily. Then I tried to get the mainspring housing back in and all hell (figuratively) broke looks.

Apparently, they're not kidding when they describe the steps that must be followed in order to get things back in place. I missed something (I think it was inserting the magazine to pull the trigger, now that I think about it) and when it all went back together, the bolt stuck open and the trigger wouldn't release the hammer.

At some point - I think it's when I grabbed the industrial-size screwdriver with the intent of prying the mainspring housing out of the pistol the hard way - I carefully zipped the Ruger in a pistol rug and put it in the safe. I had reached the point where any further action would have resulted in actual damage to the firearm, and despite how angry I was, I didn't want that.

I cleaned another gun (actually just ran a boresnake through an AR upper that I'm breaking in, that's about all I was good for at that point), took a nice, long, hot shower, and then did a little reading up on the Mark III on the 'net. Went downstairs into the workshop with a clear mind and took another look at the Ruger.

Now, I still don't know what I did to free up the mainspring, but it freed up and I was able to get the Ruger disassembled again. This time I took careful note of the position of things (and inserted the magazine), and was able to get it all together correctly. A couple function checks (including dry-firing a rimfire, which sets my teeth on edge even though they say it's okay) later and it was fine.

"A man's got to know his limitations." Dirty Harry, Magnum Force. Smart, smart words, and ones that we would do very well to heed. It's taken me a long time to get to this point, and even at that, I'm still working on it. I could tell the frustration level was getting to a point where I wasn't going to be able to do anything constructive, and was FAR more likely to result in something destructive. I took the most sensible route and walked away.

Kinda wished I'd done that more often, but I guess that's how I got to this point...

That is all.

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Word Or Two About Ebola...

Man, this is just turning into a complete and utter goat-rope, isn't it? I mean, we're seeing actual news articles out there that would have been rejected by the staff at the Onion for being too far-fetched:

First, we have a cleanup crew powerwashing the outside of an apartment where the first ebola patient was staying in the US after he vomited all over the sidewalk. Notice the distinct lack of anything even remotely resembling protective gear, caution tape, or anything that might indicate folks should stay away.


A nurse who treated the first ebola patient called the CDC to see if she should fly, even though she had begun to exhibit signs. The CDC cleared her to fly on multiple occasions. Now, it's bad enough that the CDC told someone that DIRECTLY INTERACTED WITH AN EBOLA PATIENT that it was okay to get on a plane despite running a fever, but for a gorram nurse to STILL GET ON THE PLANE???

We have a "supervisor" overseeing the transfer of someone stricken with ebola shown in immediate proximity to the patient with zero protective gear. The official Ishityounot explanation is that he needed to be able to see the transfer. Folks, if you believe that, I have oceanfront property in Kansas to sell you.

The director of the CDC is apparently telling people you can give - but not get - ebola on a bus. Because that makes ALL kinds of sense. If someone shouldn't get on a bus if they think they have the virus, then clearly you *could* catch it on a bus. Or a plane.

And speaking of planes, airports are now screening travelers arriving from West Africa. There's no word on what they're going to do if they do find someone with an ebola-like fever. $20 says they'll admit the person to a hospital, but not quarantine the entire plane.


And of course, there's the blame game:

Ebola is the fault of the NRA. Because the NRA opposes Vivek Murthy as the US Surgeon General, and is apparently the sole reason he has not been approved, the ebola outbreak happened. Or something like that.

Ebola is the fault of the GOP-led Congress. Apparently we're not shoveling money at ebola research fast enough. We can sponsor studies into why certain protected groups get fat and others don't, and waste allll kinds of money attempting to treat firearms like a disease, but cut funding even the slightest and ZOMG EBOLA.


Now, don't misunderstand me. I'm not panicking about ebola, far from it. What I am doing, though, is taking note of how pathetic our response has been. We haven't stopped people from coming to the US from infected areas, even though Europe has done exactly that, we haven't taken any serious measures whatsoever, and our policy appears to be little more than "run around like a decapitated chicken reacting poorly to every new twist in the crisis." I'm not filled with anything resembling confidence at how this administration would handle ANY crisis after watching their laughable response to the ebola situation.

Another thing that gets me, though, is that *both* sides have crackpot conspiracy theories out now. The loony left is represented above, while the crazy right is running around babbling about FEMA concentration camps and Obama canceling the mid-term elections using ebola as a cover. When both sides start coming out with batshit insane conspiracy theories, that's rather worrisome. I fear it's because the truth is almost scarier: This administration is in WAY over its head, has no f**king clue what it's doing, and hasn't the faintest idea how to deal with any of this. It appears their plan is nothing more than "hide under a pile of blankets and hope this all goes away."

I think I'd go for conspiracy theories, too.

That is all.

Friday Car Pr0n #52

Man, I hit a stumbling block today. I stared at the computer for, well, several seconds before thinking of a really cool car to post...


3rd generation Nissan Skyline GT-R. While all the iterations had their strong points, the third gen had a twin-turbo inline 6 cylinder that put out 276 horsepower. In the late 1980s. Remember, this is the time period that saw the Ford 5.0L V8 only putting out 225 horsepower and the Chevrolet big-block 454 CI V8 putting out 210 HP. 276 HP in a small, light RWD car was an autocross dream, and the GT-R had the sneakers to pull it off.

Japanese cars have always been either Godzilla (yes, that is intentional, and Skyline fans ought to get it right off the bat) or ridiculously underpowered toys, like the original Honda Civic (which, for those that remember, was actually the CVCC, after the engine's designation). It was a 1300CC, 55 HP econobox in an age of American land yachts with engine displacements quadruple that size.

Man, give me a twisty track and a GT-R and a full tank of gas and that's one helluva fun afternoon...

That is all.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Perspective...

I don't remember how exactly I got on the line of thinking; it just kind of happened.

When I was 10 years old, we didn't have cable TV. Cassettes were the latest and greatest, CDs and even videotape weren't around in any capacity yet, and video games were limited to arcades - certainly not anything in the home. We had radio stations, broadcast TV, and movies in the theater (and 187 years later when they came to broadcast TV).

About the only thing I had that my dad didn't have when he was 10 was cassette tapes. He had broadcast TV, radio, and movies in the theater. While I could go to a video arcade and play Space Invaders, he could go to the soda fountain and play a pinball game - pretty much a wash when it comes to the generations.

Well, my son's 13. Three years ago he was 10. Three years ago, we had a Blu-Ray player, a big-screen TV, MP3 players, OnDemand for movies, etc. Oh, and high-speed internet with pretty much all of recorded human history available at the push of a few buttons. Home computers - unheard of when I was a 10 year old, are so commonplace as to be unworthy of note. TVs are dirt-cheap, and we have literally hundreds of channels to choose from.

We have tiny computers capable of doing our banking, shopping, and basic human interaction living inside the phones we carry around for instant communication. My iPhone can do more than could the communicators in Star Trek - the 1960s vision of humanity many hundreds of years in the future. All of this is so readily available to my son that he thinks nothing of it whatsoever - it's part of the background (that's not to say he's not grateful for the things he has, mind you, just that it has always been a part of his life).

My dad brought home a VCR in the mid 1980s, probably 1983 or 1984. At the time, that was the most dramatic change in family dynamic I had ever seen. We could go to the neighborhood video store (what my son might think of as a giant RedBox), pick out a movie that had only 6 months prior been in the theater, and watch it in the privacy of our own homes. This was earth-shaking.

Friday nights would see us getting a couple pizzas at the local pizza place and renting a movie as a family. From National Lampoon's Vacation to Goonies to Indiana Jones, we watched the latest and greatest from Hollywood in our living room, on our own comfy couch, while eating popcorn we made for pennies. And we thought this was the single greatest thing that humanity had ever devised.

It's just weird that in the thirty years between my father and I, the biggest advance was in how we listened to music, whereas pretty much everything changed in the thirty years between my son and I. Had my father at age 10 been transported to meet me at age 10, not a heck of a lot would have surprised him. Sure, we had more than one TV, and the largest screen was a whopping 19 inches, but the basic device would have been familiar. Ditto the record player. While dad might have puzzled at the cassette tape, the basic concept would be familiar from a reel-to-reel device.


It would certainly be different for 10 year old me being transported 30 years in the future. The iPod Classic, smaller than the FM radio I thought was pure electronic magic in the early 1980s, can hold hundreds of hours of music with exceptional quality. TVs are larger, clearer, and more affordable now. We don't even need recorded movies - we can order them up through our cable TV service to watch literally any time we want. Need to research something for a paper? No need to run to the library and rummage through the card catalog; nossir, we just Google it.

It does make me wonder what my grandson's world is going to look like...


That is all.
 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

One Hell Of A Road Trip

I think I might get a Mercedes G Wagon for my next car. Apparently they can really rack up the miles, at least the one in this video that Stretch sent did - some 500,000 miles...



Man, ain't that something? I'd be happy just to do a trip like that in North America, honestly. While Gunther really did rack up some impressive-as-hell pictures from the thousands of awesome locations, he went places I don't think I'd ever dream of going. While the trip to Australia only cost money (and, I would assume, shipping a G-wagon from Europe to Australia probably costs more than my truck is worth), going places like North Korea, Iraq, and Cuba is not high on my list of things to do.

Again, though, a full-on North America trip might just be possible, assuming I could find friends in Washington state and Maine to hold onto my guns when I hit the Canadian border. I could see taking a decade to criss-cross the USA and another to hit Canada. Heck, at a decade, that's 5 states a year (on average; you could do New England in a year, easy, that allows a little extra time for the boat trip to Hawaii...). Some of the larger states might require more time - I'd wager you could spend a full year in Texas, easy - but that'd be the fun of it.

And heck yeah, I'd want to meet up with as many people as possible along the way...

That is all.

Looking For A Barn...

...Like the one in the story that Formynder sent me...

Man bought a property with a few acres with a welded shut old barn – Jackpot!!
A man retired. He wanted to use his retirement money wisely, so it would last, and decided to buy a home and a few acres in. The modest farmhouse had been vacant for 15yrs.; the owner and wife both had died, and there were no heirs. The house was sold to pay taxes. There had been several lookers, but the large barn had steel doors, and they had been welded shut. Nobody wanted to go to the extra expense to see what was in the barn, and it wasn’t complimentary to the property anyway….. so, nobody made an offer on the place.
Just look at some of the pictures:

Group shot

Abarth Scorpion

Mini!


Sadly, the story as described above is not true: Barnfind.
What Cotter found out by tracking down the photographer was that the owner of the barn (and the 180 or so vintage cars contained within) was not a lucky buyer who had just purchased the property and was astonished to find a treasure trove in one of the farm buildings. The owner was an automobile dealer in the 1970s and 1980s who had built up an assemblage of cars over the years and stashed it in the barn (locking and soldering the doors shut when the structure was full) and who simply hired a photographer to document his collection.
It's still pretty damned neat, don't get me wrong. It touches on pretty much every one of a true car nut's dreams: finding that unmolested gem, the getting way more than you bargained for, the classic cars buried for years just waiting for restoration... The truth is more pedestrian, of course; no one "forgets" about an industrial warehouse full of cars.

Even the revised story doesn't sound complete. Why on earth would a dealer just walk away from literally millions of dollars in inventory (180 cars, some quite rare, some in original condition? That's pretty much the definition of fortune right there)? I would wager there's a not-inconsequential amount of tax dollars involved with keeping a property this size; has someone just been paying this all along and one day changed their mind?

It would be interesting to know the full story behind this "barn find"...

That is all.