Phoenix, no ashes.

October 16th, 2014

Lawrence was kind enough to throw me a backlink for my SF Bay Guardian entry. So I thought I’d note here, just for the record, that the Providence Phoenix is also closing down. From what I can tell, the PP is part of the same media group that owned the Boston Phoenix, which shut down last year. (Also, this gives me an excuse to exercise the “Rhode Island” tag.)

I remember picking up a few issues of the PP back when I was going up to Rhode Island on a semi-regular basis, but I don’t recall much about it beyond it being a fairly generic alt weekly. Again, I’m sorry for the folks who are losing their jobs; no snark here. But it is hard to see what the PP had to offer that isn’t duplicated elsewhere.

Also, this gives me a chance to link to yesterday’s TechDirt article about SXSW: Populous, a consulting firm that’s been working with SXSW organizers, is proposing “clean zones” for SXSW:

According to the report, the “Clean Zone” would be a perimeter around some part of the city that:
“protects the brand equity of SXSW and its sponsors but would be made to work with existing businesses and their interests so as to uphold sponsor values and private property rights—in return this may involve a financial exchange linked to the permit process that provides the City with additional funding for security and safety personnel.”

Part of the “clean zone” proposal talks about doing “soft searches” for “forbidden items”. It isn’t clear what that means, though there’s speculation that “forbidden” = “doesn’t have an approved sponsor logo”.

The current policy of the City with respect to the permitting process as ‘first come, first served’ and/or ‘must treat everyone equally’ appears to have become detrimental to event planning process and management of the key stakeholder interests. The SXSW event is one of the largest events in the world, and bespoke treatment is needed to facilitate a continuing safe event in Austin.

A fair number of people seem to be reading this as part of SXSW’s ongoing struggle to get rid of “unofficial” SXSW events, and I kind of think it is hard to read in any other way.

I’ve felt for a while now that SXSW is too big, and I’ve expected a major disaster of some sort. But the funny thing is: we had our major disaster this year, and none of these proposals (or any other proposal I’ve heard) would have prevented it. As a matter of fact, the only thing I can think of that would have prevented it, is more substantial barriers on the closed-off streets.

Kind of seems like SXSW is becoming all the things the AusChron purports to dislike, doesn’t it?

Random notes: October 16, 2014.

October 16th, 2014

Obit watch: Elizabeth Pena. The name may not ring a bell at first, but she was in John Sayles’ “Lone Star”, “La Bamba”, “Jacob’s Ladder”, and was the voice of Mirage in “The Incredibles”, among a whole bunch of other credits. And I have to give a shot-out to this bit of trivia:

She also starred in I Married Dora, a sitcom about a green card marriage between an architect and his El Salvadoran housekeeper that aired for 13 episodes in 1987. The show is remembered by fans of obscure and weird TV for the conclusion of its final episode, when the actors announced on camera that the story cliffhanger they’d been building toward had been “resolved” by the series’ cancellation.

(Video at the link.)

People who know me are aware that I’m kind of a map geek. The very small handful of people I’ve let into my apartment can attest to this; my decorating theme is “maps”.

So I think this is kind of cool, for obvious reasons: free downloadable USGS topographic maps.

Guardians of the Bay Area.

October 14th, 2014

The San Francisco Bay Guardian is shutting down.

I’m sorry for the people who are losing their jobs, but my main reason for making note of it here is that I did a fair amount of coverage of their legal battle with SF Weekly back in the day: a battle that included, yes, hookers and blow. (Also here, here, and here.)

Random notes: October 13, 2014.

October 13th, 2014

The New York Times may have killed their chess column. Or perhaps not.

Greg “Three Cups of Tea” Mortenson is trying to make a comeback. (Previously.)

The WP also has a longish story about the Navy silencer scandal, covered previously here.

At one pretrial hearing, a defense attorney for the auto mechanic, Mark S. Landersman of Temecula, Calif., accused the Navy of impeding the investigation by destroying a secret stash of automatic rifles that the silencers were designed to fit. Prosecutors immediately objected to further discussion in open court, calling it a classified matter.
The destroyed weapons were part of a stockpile of about 1,600 AK-47-style rifles that the U.S. military had collected overseas and stored in a warehouse in Pennsylvania, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

I really don’t have much to say, but the thought of a warehouse full of “AK-47 style rifles” brings a goofy smile to my face.

Your loser update: week 6, 2014.

October 13th, 2014

It was a near thing, but Jacksonville managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Likewise Oakland.

So, six weeks in, NFL teams that still have a chance to go 0-16:

Jacksonville
Oakland

This one’s for RoadRich.

October 9th, 2014

Still under wraps is Lady Gaga’s strapless Hello Kitty gown, made entirely of plush dolls depicting Japan’s most bankable merchandising icon.

The dress in question is slide number eight in the slideshow.

Friends of the blog notes.

October 8th, 2014

Great and good friend of the blog Borepatch had a motorcycle accident yesterday. It appears that he will be fine (after all, he was able to blog) if a bit impared for a while. We wish him and his motorcycle a speedy recovery.

Warning: Sad.

You may have seen this elsewhere, but not everyone moves in the same blog circles as me.

South Texas Pistolero and his wife had their baby.

Erik hasn’t said anything directly, but I think the family could still use a few dollars if you’ve got any to spare.

TMQ Watch: October 7, 2014.

October 8th, 2014

Now that we’ve finished banging our heads against the wall (for reasons that will become apparent shortly), let’s jump into this week’s TMQ

Read the rest of this entry »

Your loser update: week 5, 2014.

October 5th, 2014

NFL teams that still have a chance to go 0-16:

Jacksonville
Oakland (bye week)

Quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore (#2 in a series).

October 5th, 2014

This one is a little unusual.

I find Erle Stanley Gardner (or, as he is often called, “ErleStanleyGardnerTheCreatorOfPerryMason”, all one word) to be a fascinating person.

I’m not very well read in the Perry Mason books; I should perhaps give them another try, but it seems to me that Gardner’s style in those books was somewhat arch and stilted. I think I’ve read a couple of the A.A. Fair books that my mother had lying around the house when I was younger, but I don’t really recall those.

I’m more interested in Gardner as a non-fiction writer. I’ve written about this elsewhere, but his book The Court of Last Resort (based in part on his experiences with the organization of the same name) contains what I believe is some of the smartest and sanest writing about crime and criminal justice ever. There are things in there (especially about drug policy) that still hold up nearly 60 years after the book was written.

Lawrence and I have periodically discussed the idea of putting together a collection of Gardner non-fiction firsts. In addition to his writing about criminal justice, he also wrote about exploring Baja by jeep, Hunting Lost Mines by Helicopter, and other outdoors subjects. Copies of his non-fiction books show up pretty regularly on the Internet auction sites, sometimes even signed, but I have yet to find one that’s in good enough condition to justify Heritage’s minimum $15 price.

I think that’s one of the reasons I’m so fascinated by Gardner: he was certainly a hellaciously smart man, and no slouch as a lawyer, but he was also a serious outdoorsman, and he blended both sides of his character well. (The “Court of Last Resort” actually got started around the campfire one night on one of Gardner’s Baja trips; one of his campfire companions was the publisher of Argosy, who listened to Gardner’s account of the Lindley case and promised him space in the magazine for any additional cases where Gardner felt an innocent man had been convicted.)

(As a side note, we could really use a contemporary “Court of Last Resort”. We could also use more public intellectuals like Erle Stanley Gardner.)

====

Last weekend, I was poking around at one of the Half-Price Books locations and found something that intrigued me: two bound volumes of the American Rifleman from 1971 and 1973. This is close to the time when I started reading AR (Dad had a stack of old ones in the garage, and I was a precocious child), and I still have a fondness for the magazine of that era.

So I started flipping through the bound volumes, and ran across this cover story from the May 1971 issue:

esg_ar

“Well. Well well well. Well.” said I.

(I apologize for the kind of crappy photo. These bound volumes run at about two ox-stunning units, and are very hard to get on a scanner.)

The cover story is a tribute to Gardner, who was also an NRA member, and who had passed away about a year previously. The two guns on the cover were donated by his wife to the NRA Museum. The handgun is a Colt Single Action Army in .45 Colt; it and the leather were given to him by a client in a shooting case. (Gardner won an acquittal.) The rifle is an early Weatherby in .300 Weatherby Magnum, using a Mauser action (instead of the Weatherby Mark V action used in later rifles).

There are a few interesting bits of trivia in the AR tribute that I wasn’t aware of:

  • Gardner was so accurate with a rifle that he gave up using firearms for hunting for a long period of time. Instead, he did his deer hunting with a bow and arrow.
  • In his 70s, Gardner set out to prove that a person with a .22 handgun could survive indefinitely on the small game he could harvest “within 300, 200, or even 100 miles of Los Angeles.” This became a three-part article for Sports Afield. (I dare you to try that today.)
  • “He had a habit of racking .22 tubular-magazine rifles with the magazines pulled partway out.” He also liked inexpensive guns, probably (as the article notes) because his guns were working guns for his ranch, not safe queens.
  • Gardner invented “archery golf”: “Players were allowed so many shots with a bow and arrow to get up to a hole – actually, a paper sack on a pole. Each player then made the hole by shooting an arrow through the paper sack.”

What I find even more interesting than the tribute is that the American Rifleman also reprinted a Gardner essay: “Why Gun Registration Can’t Cut Crime”. I can’t find it online, but it is in another essay collection, Cops on the Campus and Crime in the Streets.

There is an old expression which somehow indicates the subconscious thinking of the American people. It starts out, “There ought to be a law against…”
Whenever the American people want to stop something they want a law prohibiting the thing they want stopped, as if laws in themselves were a solution.

Gardner’s essay goes on from there, outlining the flaws in gun registration laws. (Why would a criminal register their guns? How do you deal with the registration information and keep it secure?)

We aren’t going to disarm the criminal. We may as well make up our minds to that right at the start. We can try to do it, but the criminal is going to be armed. The man who needs a gun in order to perpetrate a holdup is going to have a gun.

I’m used to finding that people whose work I generally like have big blind spots in certain areas, especially guns. It perhaps should not have come as a surprise, but it is refreshing to me that Gardner was as wise and sane about gun politics as he was about other aspects of criminal justice.

Obit watch: October 5, 2014.

October 5th, 2014

Lawrence clued me in to a couple of obits that might otherwise have escaped me.

Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier. It surprises me a little that he was 63, but I don’t think I knew this:

Mr. Duvalier continued to defend what human rights workers called one of the most oppressive governments in the Western Hemisphere, following in the footsteps of his father, François, known as Papa Doc, who died in 1971. The son was 19 when he assumed the post “president for life,” as he and his father called it, becoming the youngest head of state at the time.

I haven’t seen an obit from an outside source yet, but the official website is reporting the death of Paul Revere, of Paul Revere and the Raiders.

Ripped from the headlines!

October 3rd, 2014

In Solvang bust, a bottle of cheap vodka, counterfeit cash, and meth


Cue Major Kong.

The bills were convincing enough that at least a few clothing and jewelry businesses in the Danish-themed town near Santa Maria were fooled into accepting them, officials said. Because of the sophistication of the bills, the Sheriff’s Department has notified the Secret Service, which is conducting its own investigation.

The tweakers are turning out good quality counterfeit $100s? So we don’t have to worry about the Iranians any longer, but the meth addicts? Why does this surprise me?