Vanishing Point

I have spoken often of my distaste for much of modern life, and here’s just one more thing to make me want to pack a picnic lunch and an assault rifle, and go find a tall building somewhere.

Sadly, the end of the manual transmission is near, and the unfortunate truth is few people will miss it. Most young adults don’t know how to drive a vehicle with a manual transmission, and they aren’t interested in learning. Many modern automatics offer better fuel efficiency and quicker acceleration than their manual counterparts. Porsche now delivers 75% of its 718 and 911 sports cars with automatic transmissions. The new C8 Corvette is only available with one. When the stick shift loses Porsche and Corvette buyers, you know it’s quickly heading for the rearview mirror.

But it gets worse.

In the future, cars won’t only be automatics; it appears they’ll increasingly be automated, electric vehicles. The satisfying throbbing of the exhaust and the pleasure of driving will also become victims of progress. Traveling in a personal vehicle will be as exciting as riding in an elevator with windows.

And this guy adds his take, talking about

the dystopian future in which you’ll sit passively in your computer-driven car with government-mandated speed limits and instantly-revocable travel permissions programmed in.

In the next year or so I’ll be needing to get a new car because the old Tiguan has north of 115,000 miles under its belt.  Don’t be surprised if I get something with a stick shift (assuming I can find one, and even if it does limit my choices), if for no other reason than to shake my fist at the Empire.

  

And just let some future asshole government mandate “smart” guns with chips embedded so that they can be “controlled” by some central source — essentially, the same principle as automated cars.

At that point, my prospective trip up to the rooftops won’t just be a joke anymore.

Different Time

I sense that people I speak to are getting tired of me excusing excesses of my youth by saying, “It was a different time.”

Granted, the difference between then and now (for so many things) is vast, but not much compared to, say, my earlier life and the late Victorian- or even Edwardian eras.  Now that was a jump.

What brought this all to mind is the story of former King Juan Carlos of Spain:

His passion for exclusive sports, from hunting and shooting to skiing and yacht-racing, has been matched only by the vigour with which he has pursued women, clocking up roughly 5,000 sexual partners, according to a historian called Amadeo Martinez Ingles, who, in a recent book, dubbed him ‘an authentic royal stud’ and ‘sexual predator’ whose list of best-known conquests ‘represents the tip of a monumental sexual iceberg’.
During one short spell at military academy in his early 20s, Juan Carlos seduced 332 different women, according to Ingles, whose research drew on confidential reports compiled by spies of the country’s former dictator, General Franco.
He has described the tally as ‘good for any actor specialising in porn films — four per week’. At the height of the King’s romantic career, a ‘passionate period’ between 1976 and 1994, Ingles reckons he bedded 2,154 women.
Even in his so-called ‘winter period’ of 2005 to 2014, when he was aged between 67 and 76 and supposedly slowing down, the King’s libido seems to have remained as unchecked as that of his namesake, the legendary seducer Don Juan, allowing him to squire another 191 mistresses.

Hey, great work if you can get it.  Of course, this Evil Womaniser And Seducer once turned Spain from a fascist dictatorship into a parliamentary democracy but that’s just, like, Ancient History, Dude.

Men in positions of power seldom lack for female attention — ’twas ever thus — and let’s be honest, the king of a Mediterranean country… Grace Kelly, anyone?   The higher the rank, the classier the totty.

And his latest — last? one hopes not — squeeze probably epitomizes the type, being a commoner who married into royalty herself:  the wonderfully-named Corinna, Prinzessin zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, a Danish chick who married up (and up again) before finally ending up in the bed of the old Spanish goat.

I know, I know:  who cares about outdated political constructs like royalty, anyway?  Of course it’s not important.  But an average of four women per week for over forty years?  Even for those different times, that’s impressive.

Waffen Durch Plastik

Yeah, I’ve noticed this alarming development too:

Taking a look at some of the most popular firearms companies, I was honestly a bit shocked to see how the synthetic/polymer/laminate wood stocks have come to dominate the market. The vast majority of RugerRemington and Savage rifles and shotguns are stocked in something other than walnut. The Winchester Model 70 maintains a walnut stock advantage, as does the lineup of Winchester lever-action rifles, but synthetic-stocked lever-actions are popping up regularly these days; Marlin and Henry being two examples which come quickly to mind.

This bullshit is something I’ve bemoaned ever since I was first able to hold a gun.  Here’s why:

A well-sealed walnut stock will actually stand up well to most hunting situations, though they aren’t as rigid or easy to produce as a synthetic stock. While the mass-produced stocks are created by machinery, the higher-end walnut stocks are finished by hand. Custom stocks are a work of art, and to watch a classically trained stockmaker hand-carve a stock is like watching Michelangelo work. Names like Ralf Martini, Todd Ramirez, D’Arcy Echols, Mark Renmant and JJ Perodeau, just to name a few, can make the stock of your dreams. And I firmly believe that, like a fine watch, everyone should own at least one gun with a stock they are truly proud of.

That’s part of it, but not all of it.  I love the feel of a wooden stock in my hands, a feeling that is entirely absent when I hold a piece of fucking plastic.  Wood is warm, it feels natural and somehow seems to form a bond between gun and man in a way that some synthetic material just… doesn’t.

And I don’t buy this “wood warps and pushes the barrel out of register” bullshit.  I’ve shot rifles in some pretty damn extreme conditions (African heat and Wisconsin cold, not to mention Scotland windy and wet) and I have never experienced that, in any rifle.  I suppose it could  happen, if the stock is too tight against the metal (which it shouldn’t be to begin with);  I’ve just never noticed it.

Frankly, I think the clue to this nonsense lies in here:

Those [wood] stocks—even the blanks from which they are made—are not cheap. The custom walnut stock is extremely labor-intensive, and the highly figured walnut, which was much more common a century ago, has become a rarity. Many of the hardwood stocks in use today are rather plain looking, and the figured stocks come at a premium, for certain.

Much easier, cheaper and more “efficient” (fuck, I’m starting to hate that word) just to pour some polymer crap into a mold and screw the rifle action in, ten seconds’ work and all done.

Bah.

I have only two rifles with Tupperware stocks — my Marlin 880SQ and 882SSV rimfire rifles — simply because Marlin doesn’t offer those two models with wood stocks, and it’s a long-term project of mine to replace the soulless black plastic with wood, one day, even though the stocks will probably end up costing me more than the original rifles themselves.

Compare the above with the rifle below, and tell me I’m wrong.

Let’s not even GO here:

(I note, by the way, that fine shotguns seldom come with PoliGrip stocks, so that’s all I need to say about that.)

I know:  yelling about this is like moaning about the wind-tunnel shape of modern cars — it’s pointless, and as a trend, plastic stocks are no doubt here forever.

But I’ll tell you this (and it’s a promise):  the day that new rifles are ONLY offered with plastic stocks is the day I stop buying new rifles altogether.

My Style

As Longtime Readers are fully aware, I loathe Modernist architecture and interior design with something approaching destructive impulse (a polite way of saying that of I could get away with it, I’d pay Muslim assholes to fly empty airliners into all of them).  Lest we forget, here are a couple of examples of same:

So, you may ask, what do you propose in modernism’s stead?  Well, if we go according to the precept that “architecture doesn’t have to  suck”, we could do with more of these:

…and for the interior design, more of these:

The above two pictures, by the way, are of an AirBnB apartment in Edinburgh (one of my favorite cities in the whole world), where I will most certainly be staying the next time New Wife and I pop Over There.

Here’s another example of an interior taken not a million miles away from a certain country house in England’s South West, where I have stayed before:

…and where we will doubtless stay again when we venture into Hardy Country.

Yes, I’m hopelessly old-fashioned and so (to the surprise of precisely nobody) is New Wife.  Your opinion may vary from ours in that you prefer the top two pictures;  but if so, you suck and so does your ghastly Bauhaus  architecture.