Mar 22, 2012

In lieu of writing about the equinox

Walnut on slate, 2012

Mar 17, 2012

With me pike upon me shoulder

And you're of the country, aren't ye, lad?

Aye, the son of kings. Maybe the kings of the Annaly bogs but p'raps of the Fearghael  kings of  of the wild Wickelow mountains. 'tis hard to says since the bloody English burned the baptisimal certificates. Anyway, won't I be celebratin' this lovely day in a quiet manner? And won't I not be be with the Germans and Dutch and like pretendin' raff in Emmetsburg? And even if a few sons of the Auld  Sod be there, haven't I already seen me Paddy brothers and sisters brawling' and pukin' in the streets  before and them not even knowing about Colonel Farrell up on Kilgarry Mountain?

But if you're of another mind, lad, don't I wish ye the best of St. Patrick's Day, and as an act of kindness don't I remind ye to keep a few punt in your boot for bail money when the black and tans jug ye just for bein' what youse are. 

Bad bangs

If you pull the trigger and the bang does not sound quite right, you might want to open your action and take a peek.


Mainly, you're looking for a hole through the barrel, confirming the round you just fired made it all the way out. Apparently one didn't when two young snow goose hunters went into action near here this week. The injured fellow lucked out with just minor injuries. 

... (The victim)  was hunting with 19-year-old  (buddy) ... (who) had taken a shot but the shell in his gun didn't fire properly. (Buddy) reloaded and when he fired again, the barrel exploded. Authorities believe the barrel was blocked by the misfiring of the first shell.

It can happen with any ammunition, of course, but reloads are the usual suspects. (I'm particularly sensitive to this because my buddy had a close call shooting unknown reloads in his 1911 a few years back.  And I had provided the mystery rounds. I was shooting them myself. Very, very dumb even though I had reason to trust the guy who sold them to me.) 


I borrowed the picture from a good Shotgun World thread.

Mar 16, 2012

Looking for Boris Karloff

It's brightening a little now, but the first hour of daylight brought memories of   opening scenes in Isle of the Dead which I still consider the ultimate horror movie. I could see the three burr oak trees closest to my window -- about 20 yards. Beyond that was nothing, the kind of nothing harboring something horrible about to emerge, slimy, hungry, and not quite dead.

I thought of taking a picture for you but decided not to bother. What is the point of posting an 18 per cent gray card?

Mar 15, 2012

Advance Australia Fair

Roger. Wilco.

Language note

Pink slime is repulsive stuff they put in hamburger.

It is not the  MSNBC prime-time team.

But if you insist I'll try to be tolerant. After all, language is a living, growing gthing.

The ultimate question

The GOP governor is coming back to the neighborhood Saturday. He'll join our two local GOP legislators for "Eggs and Issues" -- one of those little confabs where the lawmakers try to persuade a skeptical dozen or so people that know WTF they're talking about. It's usually an informal thing with no ground rules other than common courtesy and a bit of Iowa nice.

But the governor is expected to be a big draw. Organizers booked a bigger room and limited attendance to 100 subjects.* They also changed the ground rules. Questions must be written.  The emcee will read them from the podium.

Leading to a pleasant little fantasy. I would write and slip into the middle of  stack, "Sir, why did you give such a bullshit answer to the last question?"

Update: Turns out there will be two meetings. The other one will admit 250.


*How's that for political savvy? They don't call it the stupid party for nothing.

Mar 14, 2012

Why we're broke (or) Is that a corn cob in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?

Things are popping down in Emmetsburg, one of the few places in the country with a statue of Robert Emmet on the court house lawn. The governor was there yesterday to, so help me, assist in announcing that there would be a groundbreaking for a cob plant.

It's a POET project, and we're not talking e.e. cummings here. By its own admission, POET doesn't really stand for anything.  The huge ethanol company concedes it's just designed to conjure up beautiful thoughts about  clean, renewable energy made from corn squeezings and, now,  stover -- the stalks and cobs.

Agribusiness has done well, mostly courtesy of taxpayer subsidies, in turning one of our basic food stocks, corn, into a marginal motor fuel. Of course that comes with a cost, and if you've priced a pound of low-grade hamburger lately you know  what we're talking about. (Assuming the awareness that cows eat corn.)

It finally dawned on us proletarians -- and later on our political masters --  that there might be a conflict  between burning corn in our gas tanks and being able to afford corn flakes. Maybe less corn for cattle meant fewer cows, and that might make them more expensive. Same with pigs. Same for Coke sweeteners. Damn, how can a guy get a hundred bucks worth of food into one little plastic bag?

So the agribusiness fellows decided to oil the water. They would use the stover -- the semi-waste in the corn field --  to create fuel. It isn't very efficient, but, what the Hell,  with the right lobbyists and a crack public relations consultant we can lay off the risk on the suckers.


It isn't hard to understand why the governor was there, or why POET distilleries across the Heartland have drawn visits from presidents. The industry is heavily a political creature of Washington and of state capitols. It is a darling of so-called conservative Republicans, and rural Democrats, aided and abetted by the icky-poo-oil haters, the Greens who consider a tank of gasoline felonious.

I wish it were easier to dig out the actual total of taxpayer forkovers for this little project in my neighborhood. The immediately apparent subsidies total $125 million -- $20 million from the state and a $105 million loan guarantee from the feds. There is undoubtedly much more, ranging from other lightly reported direct handouts to the amorphous cost of mandated ethanol in your Chevy.


But, Jim,  don't you think we must invest in clean energy, get independent of the greedy Arab sheiks and their buddy Chavez, prepare for the day when there is no more oil?

Sure. All of the above. But you're faking it with the word "invest."  You mean "extort."  You're nicking every taxpaying manjack in the country to support a handful of ethanol speculators. It it were an investment the ethanol barons would sit down with private investors and make their case. If the private parties bought the idea, they would front the  money. That would be an investment.

Besides, not to put too fine a point on it, we're already broke.


Nevertheless, the deal is done and Emmetsburg and its outlying growers will benefit. Millions of dollars in checks will be cashed at local banks, and the check will be signed by POET.

All we can do now is hope that there's a glimmer of understanding down there that the real power behind the company check is a sweating Ben Bernanke, hunched over the mimeograph machine with the green ink, cranking out C-Notes for all he's worth.


May I be permitted one final word? Thank you.


Stupid is as stupid votes

The headline poses the question: "How much do voters know."

The answer: Not much. Little enough, in fact, to send sentients whimpering to their beds.

Reporter Alexander Burns presents the case more gently:

"...Add up that litany of contradictory, irrational or simply silly opinions, and it’s enough to make a political professional suspect the electorate is, well, not entirely sophisticated about the choices it’s facing in 2012.

But not always too gently:

“The first lesson you learn as a pollster is that people are stupid,” said Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling, a Democratic polling firm.

The rest of the Politico report expands the theme, and folks should read the whole thing if they are interested in the burning issue of the day: "Why are things so  TARFU?"

Mar 13, 2012

More danged politics

Folks are voting down below the Smith and Wesson line today, and those very clever teevee persons are calling it "Southern Tuesday."  Well, okay.

Mar 12, 2012

Afghanistan -- Editors note

An incomplete post got away from me a little bit ago. I pulled it from the blog but it may appear in some RSS etc. feeds. It's now finished but isn't quite "right," so it's tucked away for revision. Nevertheless,  the posts on which it is based rate mention.  Must-reads, if you ask me.


Tam dissects our domestic bed-wetting in the wake of the Afghan killings. Because a staff sergeant snapped,  our longstanding wise and productive diplomacy in Afghhanistan is imperiled.

Roberta adds essential background. Brutally condensed, it suggests that the Great Western Powers have done bully work in restoring the spirit of the Dark Ages west of the Khyber Pass.

Wells Loophole AAR

My local gang of loopholers totalled six, spread out over three generations.  The youngest came home with a tactical pocket knife and a nicely carved sling shot, featuring a bear's head fashioned from a nub where the forks joined.  The poor kid had to listen to the grandpas tease him about taking them to school for show and tell like we used to do.

Perhaps a stainless steel object which could have been -- but wasn't -- fitted with a shoulder thingy that goes up might have found its way into a certain vehicle.  (My, don't we get weasel wordy in these days when we suspect the gendarmery trolls the internet,  tirelessly alert for words suggesting badthink among the proles.)

Anyway, us older proles settled for non-bangables. In the trove is an early-1940s book co-written by Melvin Johnson (yep, that Johnson). It's a detailed guide to ammunition of the world as it existed before John F. Kennedy was (allegedly) suspected of balling a German spy and sent off to wreck PT boats in the Solomons. The book went to a comrade, and I am jealous...

...Jealous but content, satisfied with seeing old acquaintances, having a few laughs, and scoring exactly $10 worth parts which solved a cursing, hair-pulling problem.  I recently wrote a bit  here about scoping that Mossberg/Varberger .30-06. I'd have sworn I had the correct parts on hand, so I screwed them on. Lovely except for the bolt making minute contact with the scope. Teeth gnashed, and I was frustrated enough to consider dragging out the angle grinder and butchering the offending 1/16th inch from the bolt handle. Or, Hell, maybe the scope. I had a tot of Tullamore  Dew instead.

That rare, correct judgement was rewarded in Wells. A dealer's junk box yielded a ring and base set which looked right, and was. That helped pass an internet-free day yesterday, and I happily report the Mossy is now reliably scoped and  bore-sighted. Just in time for spring gopher season. Always use enough gun.

Mar 10, 2012

Check Point Charlie

We leave Hawkeye free soil on Highway 86, about 10 miles south of thriving Lakefield in the Minnesota SSR. There, we either disarm ourselves or become felons.

While we honor Minnesota carry permits, they scorn ours. So we must go barehanded to the big Wells loophole-in-the-school, at the mercy of any Ole-and-Lena biker gang bent on robbery and murder to finance their lutefisk habit. Pray for us.

Mar 9, 2012

Good morning, America

1. The day of glory arrives. It is a moveable feast. Let history record that on March 9, 2012 C.E. the  Master of Camp J, having read prophets in the Book of Aerology, ceremonially unplugs the heat tape.

2. Attention Willie Geist: It's none of your damned business why I'm up so early. I know. The marketing psychologists told you the way to maintain viewership is to get your audience *involved" with your show. Make them *part* of it by giving them an *ownership stake.*  Look, son, I don't want to own your program. I don't want to participate in any manner at all. I don't care to be your buddy. I want you to sit your eflin butt down behind a desk and read me the news off your teleprompter.  I don't need your clever exchange with the weather guy or your guesses about basketball games. (One concession. If you want to have some papers to shuffle on your desk so as to look more like a really studious and concerned journalist, why, I guess that's okay.)

3. The news this morning seems to be that  the Glory that was Greece is back.. Works like this: You loaned Athens a hundred bucks. Athens promised to pay it back. Athens then decided payback would be inconvenient. So you had your Travis McGee conundrum -- settle for half or take a dead loss. More technically, you had to trade your hundred-dollar IOU for a 50 dollar IOU, backed by colllateral identical to the original: the integrity and competence of Greek politicians.

4. Actually, we get two glory days in a row. Tomorrow is the big loophole in Wells, Minnesota. We may or may not loophole anything lethal, but it's always a pleasant pilgrimmage. Imagine. Hundreds of tables of death insturments in many calibers, most of them capable of bringing down a J3 Cub.  And they're all on display in a school. True, this travesty explains Wells' reputation for rivers of blood and streets of gore, but you can't have everything.

Mar 8, 2012

Britain. Bacon. World War 2

In  late 1940, the port of Liverpool in Merreye Olde was not a nice place to be. The noise of the ship yards.  Rowdy sailors on shore leave and their impure thoughts as they eyed our maidens.  And especially the shortages. There was little enough of anything to eat and almost nothing  *good* to eat.

U-boats sinking too many of the food ships from the colonies, don't you know?

By late November the war had shut down many of Britain's other ports. Liverpool became even more crowded with freighters which survived the North Atlantic run . It became a juicy target for Luftwaffe Heinkels. The concentrated bombing created a bit of a stir. But one night, perhaps, some of the calorie starved civilians might have had one small good word for the Nazi bombers:

"There were, Adams recalls, some bizarre scenes. 'I can remember the warehouse outside the docks being on fire. The bacon fat was running down the gutter, and several women were running out of the houses with their pots trying to save the fat'."*

Fast forward the the time of those ladies' grandchildren whose passion in life is avoiding bowel cancer by banning bacon. Along with the usual Albionic hand-wringing and pants-peeing, our cousins seem, somehow, to connect it with their clever "rear of the year" award.

Okay, sweetheart, even though it's a small picture, I can see you have a delectable rear. Still, all in all, forced to choose, I think I'd have preferred life with your grandma.


*From Andrews Williams, "The Battle of the Atlantic." 2002.  P. 107. ISBN 0 563 53429 x.

My review: Excellent.

Texas Good Guys

Why don't  y'all turn your head toward Klleen, Texas, down there by the gate to Fort Hood in the flat middle of Lone Star? Flip a little salute toward the local junk yard, CenTex Scrap and Metal.

The owner has decided on  an act of public service. He'll pay for the CCW course for his employees who want a carry permit.


One problem.The teevee  station  doesn't even mention that the CenTex policy  will lead to more crazed cowboys packing heat, ridin' in on Sattiday night, gettin' all boozie,  shootin' up the town, and skeerin' the womenfolk.

Somebody ought to caution KWTX that one more error like that and Mr. Obama' s FCC is probably gonna jerk your license.

Mar 7, 2012

Super Tuesday

Romney won the cities, Santorum won the countryside, Gingrich won Georgia, and the Dutch make cheese.

Three scoundrels, alike in their lust to replace the sitting Scoundrel in Chief. Their differences reflect only marketing judgements as to which popular superstitions are most panderable in the amoral quest for fifty per cent plus one.

H.L. Mencken, from Dayton, Tennessee, on July 14, 1925:.

In his argument yesterday judge Neal had to admit pathetically that it was hopeless to fight for a repeal of the anti-evolution law. The Legislature of Tennessee, like the Legislature of every other American state, is made up of cheap job-seekers and ignoramuses. The Governor of the State is a politician ten times cheaper and trashier. It is vain to look for relief from such men. If the State is to be saved at all, it must be saved by the courts. For one, I have little hope of relief in that direction, despite Hays' logic and Darrow's eloquence. Constitutions, in America, no longer mean what they say. To mention the Bill of Rights is to be damned as a Red.


If asked, Mencken would surely have agreed that secular superstitions exist. Free money. The nobility of pre-emptive war. Widely diffused responsibility for individual actions.

I don't know if he would praise Ron Paul, but I think that, at a minimum, he would concede that Paul's ideas are not those of an ignoramus, a word he would have found accurate in describing the Others.

Mar 6, 2012

Have you heard the one about squawberry shortcake?

Every time this claptrap about offensive place names hits the press I recall a jingle in one of the old Boy Scout handbooks. How to make a fire:

"First you get your tinder, dry as can be,
"Then a little squaw wood, dead but from a tree...".

As far as I know this did not lead to widespread disrespect for female Indians, or Native Americans, or if you must, indigenous people of the American continents.  If it had any implication at all beyond simple bush craft, it taught scouts an anthropological fact. In many tribes, men hunted and made war.  Women cooked and kept wigwam.

"Squaw wood" was the term for firewood light enough to be handled by women.  I know of no case in which a lad, upon hearing it, was carried off into perverted reveries about primitive females' private parts or had even heard that "squaw" is a vulgar synonym for the v-word. (Which it probably isn't.)

That came later when white (mostly) America became rich enough to afford to pay idlers to point out and rectify the moral failures of our fathers in naming the new places they ran across. It continues to this day.

And so it is that the board (of  Geographic Place Names) , which tends to listen to what locals want, has slowly set about scrubbing the word from the landscape. Late last year, for example, Squaw Peak in California’s Inyo National Forest became Wunupu Peak, a Paiute name for “tall pine” or “pine-nut tree area” ... and Squaw Creek in Montana became Two Moons Creek, in honor of a Cheyenne leader of the 1870s.

"Wanupu?" Say it out loud and think thoughts of wholesome purity.

"Two Moons?"  If I were a Cheyenne I'd be less than thrilled about a place named for a turncoat who -- after helping lead his band in a couple of victories against the white eyes -- became a turncoat and spent most of the rest of his life as a lackey for paleface General Bear Coat Miles.

I was pleased to see the term "niggerhead" (a rock awash) disappear from United States nautical charts, but beyond that sort of thing this preoccupation with titivating the language of our fathers strikes me as expensive, time-wasting, history-denying bullshit.

And if that ain't the Taku-Wakan's own sweet truth I'll kiss your arse in the shadow of the Grand Tetons and give you three sleeps to gather the tribes.

Good Morning. Let's Welcome a Super Tuesday

Mar 5, 2012

A Maryland win for gun rights, and -- for that matter -- all the others

Maryland cops were looking for an excuse  to refuse a gun permit to Raymond Woollard.  He got one in 2002 after a home invasion. Seven years later the masters denied him a renewal . They decreed that he couldn't prove he still had a need to exercise a Constitutional right. 

Now, Federal District Judge Benson Everett Legg has a birthday coming up, on June 8, and we should send him a nice card.  He told the regulators to stand near  a rope, unzip, and aim high. 

Needless to say, the Bradyites didn't bother to unzip before wetting, but in due course they whipped out their lawyer who said, " “The Supreme Court has recognized the right to have guns in homes, but there is no right in public places,”

Uhh,  Lawyer Lowy, you don't get to make binding judgements like that. Courts do.  And Judge Legg did.

Our friend Alan Jura again led the attack, and we suppose he'll still be with us when the case hits the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

A cursory Bing of the 4th doesn't give much fodder for speculating about how it views self-defense rights lately, but there's a small clue in US v. William Chester, Jr., (4th Cir. 2010).  (That's a long and complicated opinion, but, effectively, it questions government power to deny Second Amendment rights on the sole basis of a misdemeanor domestic violence  conviction.) 

Quote of the Day

From my government via the National Weather Service which ruminates about the minutia of advection and troughs and progging 850hb molecule collisions and all that before getting to the money quote:


Free market Nostradami agree, warm for at least the next two weeks.


Mar 4, 2012


The man who gave us the refined wookie, the self  we wish to be, had died. RIP Ralph McQuarrie.

Speaking of civil discourse...

Ron Paul finishes second in Washington and the local press reports;

 Attending his first caucus at the Labor Temple in Seattle's Belltown neighborhood, Dillon Smith, 31, vowed to write in Paul's name no matter who is on the ballot in November...

Good for you, Dillon. And it isn't a "wasted" vote. It is a statement of enlightened disgust, of which we have too few.

"I would rather die than vote for any of the other candidates," said Smith,...

That may be carrying things further than necessary. You could just move to another country, like maybe Malawi, where all of our over-the-hill celebrity sex sirens lived and adopted babies during the eight years of the Bush Administration.

... because the country needs someone who will "basically slit the throat of the federal government."

Attention all aromatherapy clinics in the Los Angeles-Frisco corridor!   Surely you understand that Dillon is speaking metaphorically and has not demanded ventilating any actual human jugulars.
Five neighbors who showed up from his precinct also supported Paul and voted 6-0 to elect Smith as a delegate to an upcoming legislative-district convention.

On the other hand, you never know. If I were a thug bent on violence, I think I'd avoid taking my jugular to Seattle's Belltown neighborhood.

Mar 2, 2012

Air solution

Some fellows manage to run a house and even a hobby gun-tinkering shop without compressed air. This is sad. Forget people on food stamps; an airless man is the truly deprived soul.

Couple of months ago I became one. The 10-or-12 year-old Campbell-Hausfield blew up.  It was my own fault. A consumer-grade machine  -- the happy-homeowner model -- it  still  would have lasted years longer  if I were more religious about turning it off  when I left the shop. A slow leak in the system kept it needlessly cycling on and off, at least trebling the wear.

I recently hauled a new one home.  It's also assuredly non-professional, with an  advertised output smaller than the old one, about five cfpm  at 90 psi. That's enough for most of the work around here, but too wussy if I decide to use air-hog tools -- sanders, etc. The situation is improved by adding an extra tank to the system.

Aha! Opportunity knocks.

I've never had a convenient air outlet in the gun/reloading shack. But now the old C-H tank will be mounted in or adjacent to the room and fed by the new magic air densifier thourgh permanent piping to its on-board tank.  A whip hose will be handy to the bench.  One result: tidier gun innards.  Another: About 35 gallons of  total storage capacity, just in case I want to sand-blast this or that.

Well, that's probably already more than you want to know about me and my air. So I'll sign off now.

Oh wait, you have a question? ...

Well, yes, hot compressed air is sometimes useful, but I'll be damned if I can think up a way to pipe Al Sharpton into the system

Thank You!

Your diligent discharge of unburned hydrocarbons, C02, and methane into the atmosphere is appreciated. Only three days of grungy chill stand between me and an improved lifestyle.  From Monday onward, as far as meteorological eyes can see,  Camp J will bask in mid-40s to mid-50s temperatures, well above normal. It means blogging a little less and doing actual things a little more.

Start the annual yard cleanup. Clean the vehicles. Build the new compressed air distribution system (q.v. - next post)  Catch a crappie or two.  Et a helluva lot al.

'course, there's no suggestion yet that the sublime no-socks season will arrive earlier than the usual June time frame. I wish it would, of course, and if you care to help you could certainly run your SUV around  the block a few extra times.

Mar 1, 2012

Iowa Stand-Your-Ground Bill

The text of the bill as passed by the house last evening is here. 

It goes to the senate. I can't offer a confident prophecy on its chances there. Comments in the previous Constitutional amendment note also apply here.


The best argument the opponents could dream up seems to be that we're turning gentle,  agrarian Iowa into the "Wild, Wild West."

That's nonsense. But even if it were true, so what?

Wander though the Boot Hills of Deadwood, Tombstone and the like and two things will stand out. (1) They're pretty small places. (2)  In even the toughest towns of frontier legend, moving to the local grave yard courtesy of  a gunslinger's bullet was a remote danger compared to,  say, the fatal results of untreated acne.

The point being, Ladies and Gentlemen of the statist left,  Clint Eastwood westerns are tales written to entertain, not exhaustively researched narratives of the norm in the 19th Century American West.

Iowa Gun Rights Constitutional Amendment

The language finally approved is here.  It would arguably affirm the strongest self-defense rights in the country.

Procedure: An Iowa Constitutional Amendment must be approved by both house and senate in two sessions separated by an election, i.e., two "General Assemblies" in our jargon. Then it must be approved by voters. The next step for this one is the senate where Democrats control things this year. Next is passage -- in identical form --  in the 2013 or 2014 session.

O. Kay Henderson, news director of Radio Iowa and a savvy reporter, says senate passage is unlikely. That may be slightly strong. Two years ago the conventional wisdom ruled out passage of shall-issue because of a Democrat senate and governor. But that was also an election year, and anti-gun lawmakers took a second look at citizen sentiment. They had a sudden epiphany revealing that shall-issue was a very statesmanlike policy indeed.   We'll see.