Archive for the ‘Endorsements’ Category

Art, damn it, art! watch (#52 in a series)

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

I am backing the Kickstarter for The Jerry Orbach Memorial Art Car.

Why?

1) He’s not asking for a (relative) lot of money, and the rewards tiers are reasonable. $10 for four bumper stickers? I don’t think you can get bumper stickers for that price at the gun show.

2) Brandon Bird, who I have written about before in this space, is the person behind it. I have faith in his ability to deliver.

Consider this an endorsement. Let’s make The Jerry Orbach Memorial Art Car a reality. You’ve probably blown $6 this week on a bad lunch: why not brown bag it one day and throw a few bucks to the memory of Jerry Orbach?

(Shame he lives in LA, though. There’s a pretty active art car scene in Houston, and he could get an old DPS car from the state surplus store.)

Edited to add: Mike the Musicologist made a good point to me: Orbach seems to mostly be remembered for his LawnOrder work, but he did a lot of stuff before that (as the true cognoscenti know).

On the one hand, I understand why Brandon Bird focuses on Lennie Briscoe (and I find his story about how Briscoe changed his life oddly touching). On the other hand, I agree with Mike too, and wanted to find something non-Lennie to throw in here: I just couldn’t find anything I liked.

Fortunately, Mike saved me the trouble.

(And I’d really like to see that production of “Chicago” with Orbach as Billy Flynn.)

Random notes, philosophical asides, bookmarks, endorsements, and other things.

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Some things I think are interesting, some I want to bookmark, some I want to plug, something for everyone, a comedy tonight! I am going to try to put these in some kind of rough topic order…

“Introduction to GPU Password Cracking: Owning the LinkedIn Password Dump”.

I Sea, “a mobile app that claimed to help users locate refugees adrift at sea”, appears to be a complete fraud.

The developers swapped information, including screen shots of a static image and a weather tool that one person claimed was used to mislead users into thinking they were looking at live images of the sea. Others noted that the app had been coded to tell users that their login credentials were invalid.

Bonus: the NYT mentions my third favorite security blogger, @SwiftOnSecurity. (Sorry, SecuriTay, but I’ve had my photo taken with the Krebster, and I know Borepatch. Third is still good enough for a medal, if this was the Olympics.)

And it isn’t just that the coding is screwy: PopSci makes a pretty strong argument that what I Sea claims to do is physically and logistically impossible.

To provide images of 1 percent of the total area of the Mediterranean would run over $1 million. And that’s just for one set of still photos. If the app were to provide up-to-date imaging, as it claims, the images would need to be refreshed regularly, at $1 million each time. And that cost is for unprocessed data, Romeijn says. Processing will cost more, as will the licensing fees required to make those images available to the public.

And those satellites make one pass a day, so you’re not getting “real-time” imaging, no way, no how.

The Oakland PD mess, summarized. Yes, I’m linking to an anonymous person on Facebook, but much of the information in this summary has already been reported in the media: this is more of a handy round-up if you haven’t been following this mess from the start. (Hattip: Popehat on the Twitter.)

And speaking of Popehat: the guys get shirts! Women, too. I just ordered mine: not only is $23 very reasonable for a shirt these days, and not only do I like Popehat, but I think Cotton Bureau does good stuff. (You may remember them from the BatLabels “Henchman” shirts, which are back in print! Hoorah!)

Flaming hyena #32: Democratic congressman Chaka Fattah.

In addition to racketeering conspiracy, Fattah was found guilty of bribery, bank fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, making false statements to a financial institution, and falsification of records.

A bunch of other folks took the fall with him, including Herbert Vederman:

Through cash payments to the congressman’s children, college tuition payments for his au pair and $18,000 given to help purchase a vacation home in the Poconos, prosecutors said, Vederman bought Fattah’s support in seeking appointment by the Obama White House to an ambassadorship.

(Hattip on this one to Mike the Musicologist.)

Prominent (well, in Chicago, anyway) Chicago journalist Neil Steinberg decides to pull the old “look how easy it is to buy an assault rifle” trick. So he goes to a gun store…

…and they deny his purchase because he’s a drunken wife-beater. (I have seen other versions of this story that state BATF first issued a “delay”, then a “deny” (BATF doesn’t have to give a reason for “deny”), Steinberg threatened to write that they were “denying” his purchase because he was a journalist, and the gun shop then decided to point out that he was a drunken wife-beater. However, this version seems to me to be to be the best sourced, and it doesn’t mention any BATF verdict.)

But at least he had the good taste to go with a Smith and Wesson M&P 15.

Just got paid today…

Friday, March 18th, 2016

…so I feel comfortable asking you to give money to a cause I believe is worthy. As I’ve stated before, my policy is: I don’t ask you to donate for things I haven’t donated to myself.

Short version: Alexis Nicole is eight years old, and a competitive shooter. Her grandfather was taking her for training last week when he was killed in a car accident.

Longer version of the story from Oleg Volk here.

YouCaring page for donations to help with medical and funeral expenses here.

Hattip on this to the great and good Erin Palette.

I heartily endorse this event or product. (#13 in a series)

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

The Cotton Bureau is doing another run of HENCHMAN t-shirts.

You can also get HENCHWOMAN t-shirts as well.

And you can get them in youth sizes, and even in a onesie.

These shirts are brought to you by way of the Batman 66 Labels project, aka “my new favorite thing on the Internet ever“. How can you not buy a HENCHMAN t-shirt after seeing this?

Seriously, I own one of the shirts from the first run, and think it is a fine shirt. If you have children, you should purchase at least one for each of them. Orders are being taken through March 23rd.

(I’m not getting any kickback for this: I just really like my shirt, and Batman 66 Labels.)

After action report: Spokane, WA.

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

The Smith and Wesson Collector’s Association annual symposium was in Spokane this year.

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Like an oncoming train.

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Christmas is coming. But you don’t have a lot of time to shop and get physical objects delivered.

What to do? What. To. Do.

Well, if the object of gift giving has a Kindle or something like it, ebooks make fine gifts. And they can be delivered, even on Christmas morning.

I just finished, and enthusiastically recommend, Brian Krebs’ Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime-from Global Epidemic to Your Front Door. It isn’t quite the general book about spam I was expecting. His Krebsness is mostly writing about the Russian pharmacy spam gangs and their internecine warfare. There’s a lot of good stuff in Spam Nation; I’d recommend it for anyone in your life who has a interest in computers, computer security, or spam.

Another book that I really enjoyed this year is Amy Alkon’s Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck, an etiquette guide for the modern age. Much of her advice is based on the latest developments in cognitive science, too, so it isn’t just a list of arbitrary rules. Also enthusiastically recommended, for just about everyone. (With the possible exception of very small children. But if you have a late pre-teen or teenager on your list, I think they could get a lot out of this.)

Annual reminder.

Monday, December 1st, 2014

This is your reminder that, if you use the Amazon link on the right-hand sidebar to do your holiday shopping, I get a small kickback.

Said small kickbacks keep this blog flush, and support my bad habit of purchasing firearms related books. (I am currently pinching pennies towards purchasing a copy of The Rifleman’s Rifle, which is apparently printed on the hide of baby unicorns or something equally expensive.)

Lawrence and Popehat are also deserving of your support, if you’d rather fling money at somebody else.

Speaking of Lawrence, this is also your annual reminder that books from Lame Excuse Books make swell presents for every major and minor holiday, especially if you have an SF fan in your life.

I heartily endorse this event or product. (#12 in a series)

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime-from Global Epidemic to Your Front Door, by Brian Krebs.

Blogger, with occasional Krebs.

Blogger, with occasional Krebs.

I actually haven’t read the book yet. (It is at the top of the pile.) But Krebs did a signing here in Austin last night, and he came across as a really nice affable guy. I didn’t get a chance to talk with him much: I’d estimate there were 150 people there for the signing, many of whom were purchasing multiple copies of the book, so time was limited. But he signed everyone’s book, and even posed for photos with those who wanted, and in general it was just a swell experience. Based on that, I have few qualms about recommending that you purchase the book.

Gratuitous gun porn (#3 in a series)

Sunday, June 15th, 2014

Before last week, I had not purchased a gun since July of 2012*.

There are reasons for that. One was that I went through a period of unemployment, where I wasn’t purchasing anything but essential items.

A second reason is that it has been hard to find things I’ve been interested in purchasing. My local gun shops have had very few used guns that I was interested in; it seems that people are mostly holding on to guns rather than trading them in. When Mike the Musicologist and I went down to San Antonio, I did find a few interesting used guns, but either the prices were out of line (in my opinion) or (at Nagel‘s) I didn’t have the ready cash available to make the purchase.

When I decided I was going to the Smith and Wesson Collectors Association symposium in Columbus, I thought there was a good chance that I’d break the drought. I don’t buy guns just for the sake of buying guns, but I generally have a mental list of “grail” guns at any given time. The S&WCA annual meetings are a good place to find at least some of those guns, since many of my “grail” guns are Smiths.

I was lucky enough to find two guns that I fell in love with, both at the table of noted dealer David Carroll. I was even luckier in that they were within price ranges I felt I could afford, and that Mr. Carroll was willing to work with me on payment and shipping. (Mr. Carroll is a swell guy. Go buy things from him. Please.)

(As a side note, it isn’t as easy to buy guns over the Internet or out of state as lying liars who lie would have you believe. The S&WCA meeting was in Ohio. I live in Texas. As a non-resident of Ohio who doesn’t have any type of Federal Firearms License (FFL), I couldn’t legally buy a gun in the state. Private sale or dealer, it wouldn’t make any difference; I’d be breaking the law, as would the person who sold it to me. I had to have my dealer in Texas send Mr. Carroll (who is a licensed dealer) a copy of his FFL, Mr. Carroll had to ship the guns to my FFL dealer, and then I had to go to my dealer, fill out a BATFE Form 4473, and provide my Texas concealed carry permit to my FFL dealer before I could take possession of the guns. If I didn’t have a Texas concealed carry permit, I still could have gone through with the purchase, but my dealer would have had to phone in a NICS check. The only thing my Texas concealed carry permit gets me is bypassing the phone call, since I’ve already been through a background check.)

(If I had a limited collectors license, what BATFE calls a “Curios and Relics” (or “C&R”) license, I probably could have brought one of the guns home with me. The “C&R” license is less expensive and less invasive than a full FFL, but it limits you (generally) to guns more than 50 years old. So I still would have had to have the second gun shipped to my FFL, plus there’s the whole “traveling with a gun on an airline” thing, which is kind of complicated.)

(And I’ll admit, it gave me more than a little thrill when I went to my FFL to pick up the guns, and the guy behind the counter said, “Oh, yeah. I saw those earlier. Those are pretty.” They especially admired the one I’m about to write about.)

(I’m sure many of my readers already know these things. The above is for the benefit of new readers, and people who may not be aware of the process. Remember: lying liars who lie, will lie.)

After the jump, photos and words and things.

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Random notes, some administrative, for April 23, 2014.

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Apologies for the extended radio silence. The past few days have been busy.

As many of the Whipped Cream Irregulars know, Sunday was my birthday, as well as Easter. This will not happen again until 2025.

Anyway, Mike the Musicologist came up late Friday night, rented a Silvercar, and we drove down to San Antonio on Saturday to do some gun shopping, tour Ranger Creek (which will be the subject of another post), and have dinner with Andrew and Lawrence at Bohanan’s (which may be the subject of another post).

I spent Easter Sunday with family, eating an excellent ham from the Noble Pig and a very good cake baked by my sister. (I don’t remember which cookbook she got the recipe from, but I thought it was very good; perhaps she’ll post here and update.)

Then on Monday, MtM and I took the Silvercar to Dallas, where we did some more gun shopping (including a stop at Cabela’s, but not that one), had a very good lunch at Chop House Burgers, and did some shopping for tacky souvenirs of pre-revolutionary America at the 6th Floor Museum shop.

So Saturday through Monday were jam packed. (For the record, I did not buy any guns. Though I was really tempted by the Sig Sauer 1911 22 at GrabAGun. I was also tempted at one of the San Antonio gun stores that had a couple of Nylon 66s, but I just can’t bring myself to pay $350 for one, even if it did have a scope.)

(Edited to add: Also, $1,300 for a K-22, even if it was an early post-war gun with the box, seems really really high.)

Anyway, I’m back and trying to get caught up on blogging. Profuse thanks to MtM for organizing the weekend.

Cahiers du cinéma: American Hustle

Monday, February 17th, 2014

This is why I love the Alamo Drafthouse so much. I was sitting in my seat watching the closing credits. The usher/waiter came over and asked me, “Was everything okay? Did you have any issues?” And I told him, kind of jokingly, “The only issue I had is that I can’t get these darn pens to write.” (There’s pens at each seat that you use to write down your order.)

And the guy smiles at me, says “Here. Go see a movie on me.” and hands me a free pass. When was the last time this happened to you?

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I liked “American Hustle” a little better than “The Wolf of Wall Street” for two reasons. Namely, these two:

Sometimes, what is hidden is sexier than what is revealed.

Ms. Adams is wonderful. As are her costumes. I could stare at her all day long (or at least until she said “Stop staring at my cleavage”) and would happily take her out for the usual cheeseburger and house red.

Christian Bale completely disappears into the role of an overweight balding scam artist, and Bradley Cooper is fine as his FBI handler. “Hustle” is a perfectly fine way to spend a little over two hours. (At least it is fairly efficient in its storytelling, with no digressions about Quaaludes.) It even has a redemptive arc. So why don’t I have warmer feelings about the movie? Idiosyncratic personal reasons, which you can agree or disagree with.

There is a school of criticism that says you should judge the movie based on what’s on the screen, not the background or the subtext or even how closely it sticks to real events, even if it claims to be “based on a true story”. I mostly agree with this school of thought, but as I get older and Hollywood turns out more “based on a true story” movies, I start to think that it is fair to judge a movie that makes that claim, at least in part, on how closely it sticks to the facts. I don’t think that should be the only factor, but I do believe it is fair to say, “Look, the people behind this movie changed X, Y, and Z, their reasons for doing so aren’t convincing, and I think these changes make the movie weaker.”

“American Hustle”, to be fair, does not claim to be “based on a true story”. David O. Russell states up front that “Some of this actually happened”. And it is arguably fair for him and for the writers to deviate some from the real story behind Abscam.

My problem is that I read Robert Greene’s The Sting Man: Inside Abscam last week (in addition to having lived through Abscam) so the real story is fresh in my mind. And I had problems with the choices Russell made.

Specifically, I didn’t buy into the whole love triangle between Richie DiMaso (the FBI agent), Irving Rosenfeld (the Bale character) Sydney Prosser (the Amy Adams character, who starts out as Rosenfeld’s mistress). Other than Sydney wearing dresses slit down to waist level, what is the reason for the engaged DiMaso to fall so hard for her, hard enough to endanger his career? (In the real world, the Rosenfeld character’s mistress was nowhere near as heavily involved in Abscam as “Prosser” was; the Rosenfeld character got her off the hook as a condition for participating in the operation.)

What happens between the three of them sets up a nice twist ending that gives us catharsis; but the catharsis wouldn’t have been needed without that peculiar choice, which seems to have been motivated primarily by the desire to show off Amy Adams’ cleavage. (I won’t give away the twist in case you haven’t seen the movie, but in reality? Nothing even remotely close to it happened.)

Maybe I’m wrong, or maybe I’m being unfair to the movie. But I think Russell could have made just as good a movie by sticking closer to the true story, while still working in Ms. Adams and her spectacular cleavage.

I heartily endorse this event or product. (#10 in a series)

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Echo Sling.

Remember I wrote a while back about the raffle for Bonnie? Matt Rodgers, the guy behind the Echo Sling, was nice enough to donate several of them to the raffle, and to the Squeak or Treat raffle the great and good Erin Palette was running as well.

And I was lucky enough to win one.

Which has been sitting on the gun cabinet since early November, for various uninteresting reasons. (If you want to say “because you’re slow and lazy”, well, that’s a pretty good summary.)

I actually went to install mine last night, and discovered something that would make the late Col. Cooper cry; none of my current long guns has sling swivels installed. (That’s stretching the truth just a bit; my sporterized M1917 Enfield does have sling swivels. However, it lacks sights; I’ve been saving my pennies to put some good glass on it.) I would have sworn one of my two 10/22s had swivels. Or failing that, the Marlin I bought as a car gun. Or some other gun from the arsenal. But noooooooooooooooo! Apparently, this is something to add to the “things I need to fix” list.

So I can’t bring you a review of the Echo Sling, because I can’t review it, because I’m not set up to review it. Yet.

So why am I writing about it and endorsing it, when I haven’t actually used it yet? Reason one: reliable sources say it is an excellent product. And I believe them.

Reason two: because Matt Rodgers deserves some sort of “thank you” for his donations. So call this a long overdue “thank you, Matt”.

Reason three: word through the gun blogger grapevine is that Echo Sling is struggling a bit at the moment, and I’d like for them to hang around until I can pick up at least two or three more Echo Slings. So this is my small way of helping out someone who’s a good guy. (If he wasn’t a good guy, would he have pitched in for Bonnie?)

Look at it this way: the Echo Sling is only $22 – $23 shipped to your freaking door. For that little money, how can you not at least take a flyer on one? You’ve probably spent that much money on a bad lunch, and I promise you the Echo Sling is much more satisfying.

Especially since the Echo Sling is engineered to withstand German Shepherds.

I’ll provide a comprehensive review once I’m able to get it set up and running on one of my long guns, but for now, consider this an official WCD endorsement.