Oct 31, 2009

Kiwi wisdom

Our libertarian buddies down in New Zealand are wrestling with the
South Pacific versions of Gorebamaism. F'rinstance they link us to a site calculating the cost of ETS -- Emission Trading Scheme -- the local version of cap and trade. Among other things, the unworkable response to the nonexistent problem will add $21 to the cost of a sheep. That's baaaaaahd. Pendleton shirts are expensive enough already.

Another weekend, another show...

In Windom, Minnesota. This one is a miniature, usually about 70 tables but I've always managed to spend modestly and enjoyably there. It seems to attract a lot of hobbyists and tinkerers -- guys with interesting stuff they're just tired of or have no immediate use for. For instance, from a very similar little show recently:

I consider two grip safeties, a hammer and a mainspring a prudent purchase at $15. One of the grip safeties is GI, the other hollowed for a commander-style hammer.

There's no special want list for this show. I'll depend on the spirits to alert me to what needs buying. A brick of small pistol primers would be nice.

(The gratuitous book porn is just a response to Brigid and some other lady gunnies going on about how they're Irish and Celtic and all -- like I'm not or something. :) It's by Seamus McManus. It's fat and jammed with useful information presented in a style guaranteeing unreadability. Stick with Cahill.)

Oct 29, 2009

We are not alone

Libertarian allies abound. A New Zealand libertarian has a picture and comment on the Brit bobbies pottering about with automatic weapons

(From there you can get to the "Libertarianz," home page.)

Oct 28, 2009

Some gun nuttery economics

1. A libertarian is thrifty because rational self interest mandates getting maximum practical value for any expenditure.

2. A shooter understands that the stronger the hand/arm assembly, the better the shooting, ergo training weights are useful.

3. Copper is a weight, and is found heavily in pre-1982 United States pennies and, to a lesser degree, in U.S. nickels.

4. Confining the coins in a stout bag relieves the thrifty libertarian shooter of parting with them in order to purchase ferrous metal weights -- usually foundry iron which brings more than $1 a pound when cast into dumbbells.

The result of this reasoning is shown in the photograph. The Ruger in .45 Colt is dedicated to slaying the wily whitetail and weighs a little more than three pounds. The black bag is full of copper pennies and of nickels. It weighs a bit over five pounds. You hold it in your extended hand(s) in your favorite stance and thereby gain strength and endurance. And you have an appreciating asset rather than a rusting hunk of iron and a receipt from WalMart.

Abort puttering

A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. And when an artesian well pops up in the driveway AND registers on a man's water meter, a man's gotta dig. With luck, the first hole hits the leak. When stars misalign, a second hole is necessary.

Water is now restored to the Commandant's quarters.

Puttering is to resume forthwith.

Oct 26, 2009

Here's mud in your eye

When a troubled youth with a knife decided he wanted Caleb's stuff, our man reacted with a java toss and followed up with sterner stuff. Go see Caleb.

(H/T to Tam)


That doesn't refer to the golf stick that makes people cuss. It's the verb form and the activity I intend to pursue today. Puttering is important. It helps a fellow find things -- pocket knives, the three-screw Single Six, a letter he meant to answer in August and didn't, and probably some stuff he even forgot he lost.

Oct 24, 2009

Nothing new here

It's just that I suddenly realized I haven't bitched about it before.

An area hardware chain is hawking antifreeze as "50-50" (half water) as though it a very special thing. Ready to pour, y'know. Price is $4.95 per gallon. Full-strength stuff is $5.95. Water being somewhat profitable at c. 1.95 per gallon, you just know that Bomgaars is solidly behind the NEA and others dedicated to producing a dumber America.

Oct 23, 2009


A little local news here, but as you read please keep in mind that Ruby Ridge and Waco were certifiably planned by certified and/or certifiable government planners.

This little county is composed mostly of two middlin' towns and a clutch of tiny contiguous burgs strung around the lakes. The result is that some 18,000 people are governed and taxed by at least seven mayors, seven city councils, the county board of supervisors, and gawd knows how many special taxing units for the sewer, greedy green groups, and so forth.

I just learned that we're beginning another efficiency drive to combine services and all that crap that will either (a) never happen or (b) incur costs higher than "savings." We've heard it before, but this time we've hired an expert, and the radio says, straight-faced and without a hint of irony:

"Alvin C. Blatnik the Fourth (not his real name), who leads the ISU Extension GIS group, will be the lead researcher. He is also a certified planner with the American Institute of Certified Planners."

If all that certifying doesn't curdle your spit with fear I'll kiss your arse at the courthouse flag pole and give you an hour to round up every tax-sucking bureaucrat in the area.

Oct 22, 2009

Maytag One-Lunger?

An email friend asked me what that was. Ahh youth.

Okay, squad. School circle.

By about 1949, the Rural Electrification Administration had wired up most of the farms in Calhoun County, so the prosperous Mrs. Kaddidlehopper of Rural Route 1 was able to replace her smelly, noisy, inconvenient gasoline powered washer with a plug-in model. That meant that she could, among other things, do laundry in the house, very handy in a Midwest winter.

Generally, the old gas Maytags went to People's Hardware, aka the junk yard where, as lads, we shopped.

The engines were cute, no other term for it. With a single cylinder, developing in the vicinity of one or two horsepower, and a horizontal shaft they demanded a second life in the transportation industry, and eight- and nine-year-old boys who went wow over newsreel clips of Mauri Rose and his Offenhausers were suckers for them. They pooled their dimes and quarters and negotiated with the junk man.

Now, ol' Elmer Maytag understood you could make a nifty 8 mph racer from his engine, but he probably didn't understand how poor kids could do it. To wit:

Assemble materials. -- engine; 2 x 12 plank about five feet long, (chassis); piece of pipe about 3 feet long, (clutch control); four wheels, preferably all the same size or nearly so; board (front axle ); steel rod (or water pipe) (rear axle) clothes line rope (steering device); flat belt (transmission); pulley for a rear wheel; wood apple box (seat); lard can full of nuts, bolts, washers.

The single great challenge was attaching the drive pulley to the rear axle, and sometimes the boys would seek the mature assistance of a high school kid who had passed shop.

Other than that, it was a piece of cake. Attach rear wheel assembly with U-bolts if you had them, fence staples if you didn't. Bolt engine to plank just slightly loose in the elongated holes so the whole thing could be moved back and forth a little to tighten or loosen the drive belt. This was the clutch mechanism. Lag screw the front wheels to the board and secure it to the plank with a centered and barely tight bolt. Drill two holes in the axle ends to hold the steering ropes (think horse reins). Nail the seat in place and paint your logo on it. ("Varoom!" was popular because you could vary the numbers of "o"s to achieve an aesthetic symmetry.)

You kicked the starter until the engine caught, ran around to the side and jumped on the seat. You grabbed the ropes, reached back to the clutch pipe and pulled it and the engine forward to tighten the belt. Then you were underway, terrorizing any stray dog, cat, or adult in the alley, trying to steer with two ropes in one hand, the other being occupied maintaining belt tension. Yeah, it was a design flaw.

Vibration was a problem, and the braking system primitive and very hard on the soles of your PF Flyers. We made a few improvements over the years until creatures in dresses started flouncing past the front gate, catching our eye and making us feel kind of squishy in the head. About then, for some reason which escapes me, we started losing interest in one-lungers.

I understand this sort of thing has been replaced by television, texting about Paris, and video games.

That is all. DisMISSED

Hippie time

I just quoted a line from the Kingston Trio to Tam, and that kick-started the old Maytag one-lunger that serves as my memory.

Joan Baez. I was actually thinking of Joan Baez and remembered how a whole damned generation -- Young Republicans to Abbie Hoffman -- lusted to embrace that body, either despite of or because of the Aquarian-age nonsense she sang so sweetly.

But she did give us one great moment of defiant libertarian resolve:

"My daddy made corn whiskey
"Grandaddy made it too.
"We ain't paid no whiskey tax since 1792."

For a long time I assumed my 18th/19th Century Appalachian ancestors sat around the fire and sang Copper Kettle while the moon shone bright. I was crushed to learn that the song may have been written as late as 1953.


(1) The furshlugginer weather continues and is now compounded by the discovery that I have an underground water leak which will deplete the gun fund by a disheartening figure.

(2) Still can't make the new wireless router work in a wireless fashion.

Oct 21, 2009

Domestica redux again

1. The weather dismality index is approaching 8, shutting down outdoor endeavors. Fortunately the last of the firewood chain saw work was finished yesterday.

2. I must go shopping. By the time I put the Stihl away my innards were screaming "Meat!" but had to settle for the the closest thing in the reefers, two frozen brats and a half-pound of bacon. That's meat, in a way, of course, but the aforementioned innards had their heart set on about 18 ounces of medium rare cow.

3. Given the cruddiness outside, I have no excuse to further delay trying to set up the new wireless router. Digitalitis looms, and I wish I had more faith in the power of prayer.

William F. Buckley; Armed and Dangerous

Inspired by an interesting New Jovian Thunderbolt post, I got to thinking about conservatives in general and William F. Buckley in particular. NJT finds it disappointing that The National Review, sired by Buckley, seldom carries pro-gun articles. He attributes this to the preponderance of NR's "Metrocons," a nice term for our citified brothers and sisters who, it is argued, push all the freedom arguments except the ones embodied in the Second Amendment.

Now I'd enjoy more from NR on one of our favorite issues, too, but let's make sure we understand that Buckley himself was not a gun-rights lukewarmer.

Buckley delivered one of the all-time great pro-gun snarks about antigun bills that popped up like toadstools after the 1960s assassinations. Someone like Abner Mikva was hooting that private citizens simply had no need for handguns.

Buckley: "A person who sees an armed thug coming down the hallway toward him may desire a speedier means of relief than a call to the American Civil Liberties Union."


Beyond that, a death threat moved him to get a carry permit during his run for mayor of New York. He took a Mini-14 along on his Pacific passage (see his Racing Through Paradise) and allowed as how it was primarily for recreation but also had "a survival aspect."

And somewhere he wrote "I must have three of four of the things (firearms) around home."

It isn't the kind of high rhetoric which draws recruits to the barricades, but it's not bad for a Metrocon, a man totally of New York who just happened top own a spare bedroom in New Sharon.

All from memory, but I suppose I can dig up the cites if anyone seriously challenges.)

Your $700 Billion at Play

An AP story this morning carries the judgement of a gummint inspector on the TARP program. You may know it better as the Big Boy Bailout.

Watchdog Neil Barofsky says the TARP program sorta worked but, "Treasury's actions in this regard have contributed to damage the credibility of the program and of the government itself, and the anger, cynicism and distrust created must be chalked up as one of the substantial, albeit unnecessary, costs of TARP."

Hold that thought as you continue:

Then he noted the "decision not to require banks to report how they used their rescue money and (the Fed's) 'less-than-accurate' statements describing the financial condition of nine large banks that benefited from large infusions of aid."

I don't quarrel with either Barofsky or the AP report, though they're really telling us nothing new in the first cited paragraph which says, "We're all well and truly pissed" or in the second which says "Because when dealing with the feds you can have them stupid or you can have them crooked. Take your pick."


Deeper in the story there are some enticing hints on how much of your TARP money is being used for kennel fees, Dom Perignon, tux rental and so forth.

Oct 20, 2009

Shop tip

When you're tidying up your shop and stumble across an old tooled leather belt worth restoring and saving, be sure you do not use Gorilla Glue just because it is in a little bottle quite similar to the one where you keep your neatsfoot oil.

Oct 19, 2009

Fun Show AAR

The show was worth the drive to Mankato even if we bought little. The ratio of plastic gun-like things to real stuff was about the same as any other Midwest show, but there was a satisfying number of tables with steel and walnut and more parts than we're used to seeing. I scored GI 1911 parts -- two grip safeties, a hammer, and a mainspring for $15.

The gun prices were astoundingly high, and JohnW may grin at hearing that a Model 99 in .300 Savage and of no distinction whatsoever was offered at $1,350.

There were other adventures in weekend spending. At a neighborhood auction yesterday I paid a little too much for a c. 1900 Hopkins and Allen .22 bolt rifle, an odd design, tube fed but requiring manual cocking after chambering a round. The real coup was theft of a good knipco-style heater which will make winter shop work toasty pleasant.


"Mankato" tickle your memory? There, on Boxing Day of 1862, our forefathers staged the largest mass hanging in our history. Thirty-eight mostly Sioux men were strung up for being on the losing side in Little Crow's war.

Oct 17, 2009

Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer; side note

Just for anyone who happens to be new to the study of this, the disdain apparent in the two preceding posts is based on a couple of things. This guy divided his force twice before knowing what he was facing -- or the terrain in which he was operating.

And while Marie Sandoz may go too far, Custer did have visions of being nominated by acclamation after wiring news of his glorious victory to his political backers at the Democratic Convention in St. Louis.

Custer's complete tactical failure in a situation an experienced company grade officer could have been expected to handle competently is apparent from reading the published histories, but to really get a feel for it you need to walk the land.

Happy Interlude

When contemplating the folly of which famous military heros are capable sickens you, it's therapeutic to find some nice horses to whisper to.

(Private range abutting Custer battle field, September 2009)

Custer's Genius

Just beyond the river, in the dusty flat to the right of the cottonwoods, Major Reno's command started dying. He had been ordered there to guard against Lt. Col. Custer's supreme fear that the raggedy-ass Indians would escape to the Big Horn Mountains.

Reno and other survivors of the Indian counter attack west of the Little Big Horn retreated up this ravine and occupied a shallow depression, the position of the camera in this photo. Later that day he was reinforced by Major Benteen who, himself, had been ordered on a vainglorious escape-prevention mission.

Custer Battlefield September 2009

Fun Show

We're pointing ourselves northeast, about 100 miles this morning, hoping the Mankato show will draw some dealers and hobbyists from further Up North, guys we don't see often.

We're in quest of Something Different. At an extended board of directors meeting last evening, we decided we're getting sick and tired of 200-table shows with 150 of them groaning under tons of EBRs and plastic 9mm hi-caps. Nothing particularly against them, but our souls depend on milled steel, deep rust blue, and walnut.

I'll be allowing myself absolutely frivolous spending up to $250 -- the amount the new Nobel Laureate, His Obamaness, has promised to send me. Anything over that will require thought in view of a letter from my bank, telling me one of my CDs will renew at .04 per cent next week. Yeah, four-tenths of one per cent. Must be that the new Nobel Laureate, His Obamaness, is giving the banks some free money too. Maybe even more than $250?

Oct 16, 2009

On Seeing the WalMart-Amazon Price War

My bookseller of choice is Goodwill Industries, and I'll match the personal library here with most any one's for scope, depth, and sheer numbers of quality tomes. The investment of time can be heavy, but the monetary cost averages something under fifty cents a volume, including some rather good finds. How about a first of P.H. Sheridan's memoirs, both volumes, foldout maps intact?

Of course Goodwill offers me no best sellers until long past their Fifteen Minutes. Fortunately, this is ameliorated by my personal society which is composed of people who do not care to discuss John Gresham's latest lawyer any more than they would care to discuss television programs.

Still, I'm ambiguous about seeing best-sellers -- as bad as many of them are -- selling in hardback for $9. Writing is brutally hard work. Even ordinarily competent writing may offer us joy, enlightenment, wonder. I think of that as I consider the fact that the value society places on any endeavor is measured in dollars.

Oct 15, 2009

Journalism Can Be Fun

But how would the dipstick who wrote this headline for the Des Moines Register know?

Chase ends in shooting; classes at Seymour schools canceled

Oh the horror of armed Americans shooting up public schools and endangering the innocent waifs being baby-sat therein.

Or, if you read the story, maybe your single question is whether this cop (a) did his duty properly or (b) over-reacted in a trigger-happy fashion.

Elect Barry!

I know I'm late on this, but I desire to participate in making sure President Obama gets his well-deserved Heisman Trophy. You can help make it happen. Cast your patriotic ballot here.

Let's find Nate's rifle. He made the same mistake many (all?) of us have made and is now trying, against long odds, to redeem things.

(A nod to Tam)

Trevanian Had the Words for It

The Dismality Index around here is setting records. Color it gray, wet it down, fire up the fog machine.

In "The Main," which all should read, Trevanian's Montreal street cop called it "pig weather," and I've never happened across a better term.

Oct 13, 2009

Hubris in Red Cloud's War

A knoll just beyond Lodge Pole Ridge where 79 American soldiers died with their ball-enhanced, judgement-deprived Captain William Fetterman. On Dec. 21, 1866, the entire command was suckered into ambush and wiped out by Sioux and Northern Cheyenne warriors of Red Cloud and Roman Nose near Fort Phil Kearny on the Bozeman Trail in northern Wyoming.

Fetterman had earlier bragged that with 80 cavalrymen he could "ride through the entire Sioux nation."

September, 2009


Autumn yields to winter in the high
country of the northern Wasatch range.

(Southeast Idaho, October 2009)

Oct 11, 2009

Montana 2

Sacajawea, and so-spelled on the inscription with no revisionist "gaw" vulgarity.

This is one of the more moving representations I have seen. Bird Woman is depicted without contrived heroism, shown simply as a human dealing competently with the circumstances imposed by life.

The child is Pomp, probably the son of Pierre Charbonneau, a mixed-blood fur trader and guide. Beloved by Captain Clark, he would go on to frequent royal halls of Europe but return to live out his life on the American frontier.

Livingston, September, 2009

EDIT: The work is by Mary Michael of Bridger, Montana.


"If I could live away from the sea, I would live in Montana," John Steinbeck, "Travels with Charlie."

The Yellowstone near Livingston, September 2009.

Oct 10, 2009

My Vacation, sidebar

The cultural heritage.

My Vacation

Permit me to introduce a small portion of the Laramie Range, an area of the United States where calling 911 is not part of the cultural heritage.

Oct 9, 2009

Mrs. Nobel Obama

Exclusive. Michelle's immediate reaction:

"For the first time in my adult life I am proud of Norway."

The Nobel Barack Obama

Speechless. Stuttering, foaming, half-gargling, half-screaming speechless.

Not even the flash-frozen brains of a bunch of Norwegian academics and politically connected others should be capable of this.

Why couldn't Barry Goldwater have invented dynamite?

You Will Learn to Love Big Brother

"The 'heartbeat' of the city consists of elected and appointed officials...Collectively these officials come and offer time and talents for public service. Each and every one takes the opportunity to represent the City of (Smugleye-on-Lake) with integrity, professionalism and making all decisions based on what is best for out community."

So says the lead article in the quarterly newsletter I get from the Leaders of SoL, along with the water and garbage dun.

I take great comfort in knowing that the motives of the folks I pay to regulate me are as pure as those of any living human since c. 32 A.D. -- and that they are as omnicompetent as -- well, sheesh, I dunno. Maybe one of Plato's men of gold.

Yet it is disheartening to learn that my government is the heartbeat of my community life. I always thought my heart beat pretty happily in Smugleye because I spend about 100 per cent of my time dealing with folks whom I don't pay to regulate me. Together we create private and uncoerced arrangements, and we're just pretty damned disappointed to find out City Hall figures this is trivial compared to its over-riding role in heart beatery.

Oh well. I suppose I'll just let this statist bullshit ride,* but I shouldn't. The tyranny of the nanny state rests on countless repetitions of such pap so that it will, in accord with Goebbels dicta, in due course assume the status of settled truth.


*Or maybe not. There are some highly rantable restrictions here. How about a zoning reg that requires a building permit to replace a window?

Oct 8, 2009


Giada's neckline has been rising recently, making it less likely I'll hang around for the final reveal of her apple pie with capers, salami, and a nice cilantro garnish.

Going to Cowboy Country- South Dakota

The world contains too many smartasses who think it's funny to crack stuff like the main industry in South Dakota is Mount Rushmore. This is unfair, even for a joke. The SD economic mainstay is Interstate 90, assuming the billboards are econometrically included. (I think the Jinglebob Leather Works may run a close second.)

Somewhere in South Dakota, the West begins. You start your trek in Sioux Falls which is faux West. You see vast seas of corn along the highway, so you know you're still in the Midwest. As you cross the silted ponds that used to be the Missouri River, the corn thins out, and what you do see will exist only at the suffrage of giant spidery assemblies which look like steroidal versions of one of those new species of bugs they're always finding in Papua New Guinea.

Eventually even the irrigated corn gives way to grass and badlands -- and larger signs reminding you that you're getting awful close to Wall Drug where ice water is still free, coffee just five cents, and there is parking for about six thousand senior-citizen tour buses. Here (or just beyond, depending on which nitpickey buddy you're explaining all this to), is The West, and it is now permissible to doff your Topsiders and gimme cap in favor of your Tony Lamas and Stetson. Also to say howdy instead of hello.

Oct 5, 2009

Powder River, Let 'er Rip

There's nothing like a week or so in the Mountain West to clear a fellow's head of all the cobwebby nonsense that accumulates in the semi-civilized environment of the Internet, the mainstream media, the daily arrival of third-class mail, and your occasional surprise visitor who wants to sell you something -- a siding job, a new and improved politician, or a better crack at bliss beyond the grave.

I'll report an item or two of possible general interest, but you'll be spared a What I Did on My Vacation deal. Even in cowboy country, even in the mountains when an early winter storm hits, only a few things are interesting enough for comment.

I guess maybe one of those things might be the blonde with the green parrot at the Three Forks State Park campground. Or maybe not.