This is not one of those rants that “the world’s getting too damn complicated” (although it is, in my opinion).  However, allow me to draw your attention to a couple of videos that illustrate my point, which is that simplicity does not mean “shoddy” or “primitive”, or anything like that.

Here’s the first video, about the wonderful Vespa scooter/moped and the men who created it.

Towards the end of the video, the narrator draws the very apt comparison between the Vespa and the Mini, which Jay Leno lovingly describes, in his inimitable manner.

And is there place in the modern world for simplicity, as Richard Hammond describes by the experience of driving the Mazda MX-5 Miata*?  Of course there is.

*Why, I wonder parenthetically, did Mazda go with such a long mouthful of a name for so simple a car?  “Miata” would have been fine;  “MX-5” likewise, even if less evocative, so why concatenate all those descriptive terms into a string that only boring motoring journos will use anyway?

Note too that I’m talking of simplicity of use, i.e. as experienced by the end user.  A bolt-action rifle is far simpler a piece of engineering than its semi- or full-auto counterpart, but even I — a die-hard boltie fan — will admit that an M1 Carbine is far easier to use than a Mauser K98k:  load it up, pull back the bolt, and it’s trigger time, compared to load, work bolt, pull trigger, work bolt, pull trigger etc.

Or, to wrench this thesis back on topic, it is undeniably simpler to drive a car with an automatic transmission than one which requires rowing through a manual gearbox, as long as one prefers steering over actual driving.  And if one is doing the daily morning commute to the office in stop-start traffic then yes, it’s a lot easier with an automatic.

Inside each of us, though, is a fundamental need not to have to tax our intellect or bodies to perform mundane tasks, although I think that choosing complexity over simplicity is a fundamental and personal matter of wanting to be in control of mechanical devices.  Nobody would be buying bolt-action rifles or cars with stick shifts otherwise, given the facility of the alternative.

Paradoxically too, as the world becomes more complicated and more complex, there is a persistent urge amongst people to “simplify” their lives, to cut back on both material possession and activities.  I think that’s a good thing, especially as one gets older.  When parents become empty-nesters, the hassle of maintaining a large house often turns into a desire to move to something more fitting [sic]  to the altered circumstances — not just for cost reasons, but once again, for a life of fewer complications.

Nothing wrong with that.  I’d never contemplate buying a Vespa, of course, because I don’t live in a built-up urban area and I don’t have a death wish.  And I already possess a little Fiat 500 with a stick shift, so if push came to shove I’d be perfectly happy to use that as my only means of transport (I “borrow” it from New Wife every chance I get).

But I’d still rather shoot a bolt-action rifle than a semi-auto (other than in times of errr urban unrest, when the old AK or SKS would obviously be preferable), and I’ve already expressed my preference for revolvers over pistols, recreationally speaking.

Just a simple soul, that’s me — but it’s a simplicity by choice rather than by governmental edict.

I told you all that so I could tell you this.

Allow me to introduce yet another rancid bitch (in the Hillary Clinton mold) who wants to tell us how to live our lives.

President Joe Biden’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Friday unveiled new fuel efficiency standards, which acting administrator Ann Carlson said will “reduce harmful emissions.” Carlson has long stressed the need to force Americans to live climate-friendly lives. As an environmental academic at UCLA, for example, Carlson published a 2007 piece titled, “Only by Requiring Lifestyle Changes,” which argued that people would not reduce their energy consumption “voluntarily.” As a result, Carlson wrote, the U.S. government must “induce behavioral change” by implementing policies that “make the bad behavior more expensive.”

In a similar 2009 blog post titled, “Save Us From Ourselves,” Carlson called on Americans to “use less electricity, take more public transportation, consume less, live more simply and so on” to fight climate change. Carlson argued that most people “could benefit from a simpler life” but will not “engage in dramatic behavioral change unless forced,” highlighting the need for government intervention. “Governments and markets need to take steps to make us pay for the full costs of the behaviors in which we engage … they need to limit our infrastructure choices to energy efficient ones,” the Biden administration official wrote. “In other words, we need to be saved from ourselves.”

My immediate thought is to have this foul watermelon bitch dragged from her “temporary” office and hanged from the nearest lamp post, but of course that’s never going to happen.

Alternatively, Congress could reduce the NHTSA’s budget by fining the agency per day the equivalent of her annual salary as long as she remains as the “caretaker” administrator — although that’s about as likely to happen as my first suggestion.

What, I ask, is the point of not confirming someone for a position when they can simply act as a “temporary” head of an agency and de facto determine policy and regulation in the absence of de jure?  Or did I miss something here?

Anyway, I’m so sick of all this “coercion” talk emanating from the mouthpieces of our beloved government.  Forced to wear masks, forced to stop using gasoline-powered engines, forced to quit using incandescent light bulbs, and forced to submit to any number of horrible and senseless rules and regulations that would make Gulliver in Lilliput look like a free man by comparison.

Most of all, I’m really fucking sick of being forced to pay taxes which fund the salaries of all these petty gauleiters.

All appearances to the contrary, I’m actually a very patient and tolerant man, but I have to tell you that my patience and tolerance are wearing very, very thin.

And I bet I’m not the only one.

Idle Thoughts

As one gets along in years, and comes to the realization that one’s time on Earth is not only limited, but foreseeable in terms of its ending, certain idle thoughts come to mind.  In my case, of course, this resolves itself inevitably into a list — in this case, loosely defined as follows:

Assuming that my health would remain more or less as it is, what would be the things I would get now that would last me the rest of my life, and give me pleasure in the use thereof?

For the sake of argument, let me also assume that I’d pare down all the crap I currently possess — sell almost all of it, really — and would have only the things on this list to keep me amused.  Unlike my  normal flights of fantasy, this would not involve a lottery win, so economics will play a part.  It’s a tough question to answer, but I’ll give it a shot, so to speak, and start with the easiest ones.

Car —  almost without question, the Mazda MX-5 Miata RF:

…because it combines fun, performance, fuel economy and reliability in equal measure and compromise.  As for space, the only cargo [sic]  I’d carry would be New Wife, or my guns to the range, or groceries back from the supermarket, and for the latter two, even the Miata’s little trunk would be adequate (long-gun cases could be carried in the front).  The top comes down for the occasional en plein air  experience, and I would be perfectly happy to tour the country in it as well.  Color is irrelevant, although I kinda like the gunmetal blue as pictured, for obvious reasons.  And speaking of gunmetal:

Rifle — it’s a tough one, but to me the Miata of rifles is the Marlin 336 in .30-30 (with a scope because of my shitty eyesight):

Light, handy, reliable, enough punch for most situations, acceptable recoil and the ammo is pretty much ubiquitous in the U.S.A.  Realistically, I’m never going to have to make any long shots, and the lever action works quickly enough for those (shall we say) social  occasions.

Plinker Rifle — this is an even tougher choice, but I’d choose the Ruger 10-22:

I don’t think I need to explain or justify this choice, do I?

Now on to the handguns:

Self-defense — no choice;  my Springfield 1911 in .45 ACP:

Once again, no explanation is necessary.

Revolver — this is a little more difficult, but I think I’d pick the (new) Colt Python 6″ in .357 Mag:

Why the new one?  Why not?  It’s new, it’s a Python, and every gunsmith I’ve spoken to on the topic says the action is far better than the old one’s, and will likely be more reliable.  Of course, I’d prefer it in Colt’s original Royal Blue, but them’s the breaks.

Plinker Handgun — easy enough choice, here: the Browning Buckmark:

Best trigger of any .22 handgun (possibly of any handgun, period), and very reliable.  I’ve owned several, and never had a bad experience with any of them.  We’re talking hours and hours of plinking fun.

Finally on guns, a shotgun, mostly for clays — I’m going to go with something a little more indulgent, i.e. the Chapuis Chasseur Classic in 20ga:

It’s different enough — not part of the Beretta / Browning / Remington / Winchester matrix, and not insanely priced like the premiums — and of course the side-by-side barrels are mandatory.  (I have a 20ga SxS already, but I keep it at Free Market Towers, for obvious reasons.  The Chapuis would be my domestic  gun.)

That’s enough guns.  On to other stuff.

Camera — I’ve done the large SLR thing, and I don’t need that anymore.  My current criteria, based on years of travel, are that the camera be small enough to fit into a coat pocket, and must take AA batteries.  Hence, the Canon Powershot SX100 IS:

I’ve owned this little sucker for well over a decade, and have no quibbles — except that when shooting in low-light situations, you absolutely have to pop it onto a tripod because its lens stabilization is not that great.  Fortunately, I have a mini tripod which travels with the Canon, and fits into the other coat pocket.  (My backup camera — a Nikon Coolpix 4300 — is much better in this regard, but it only takes Nikon’s rechargeable battery which means you have to be close to a power source to recharge it — the reason I replaced it with the Canon.  Like .30-30 and .22 LR, AA batteries are ubiquitous.)

Books — I couldn’t trim my library down any more than I already have, and it’s creeping up again (to the consternation of New Wife, who reminds me constantly that we barely have enough room extant).  Still, I intend to read and re-read several non-classic books for the rest of my life, most notably John Sandford’s Prey and Virgil Flowers novels, as well as any derivatives thereof.  Also P.G. Wodehouse, of whose works I have many, and various Ken Follett novels as well.  It’s all about the style when it comes to novels, and I love all the above in equal measure.  Of non-fiction — history — books we shall not speak.

Binoculars — I don’t use them often, but I always travel with a pair, this being my Steiner AX830 (8×30):

…and while these do okay, especially for their size, I really need something a little more powerful (10x or more, with a tripod mount if necessary, because size is not really a problem).  All suggestions are welcome.

Watch — for me, the thought of having only one watch is akin to having only one gun:  almost a fate worse than death, but if I’m going to have a couple of watches to see out my shift, they’re not going to be automatic, nor need batteries.  Hence, the Longines Master and the Tissot Heritage (depending on whether I need a black- or white face):

Nice big numbers to accommodate my (did I already say?) crappy eyes.  The Longines is twice the price of the Tissot, but still under the magic $1,000 mark.  Both are wonderfully rugged and acceptably accurate.

Music — forget about it.  My music library is quite adequate, not to say extensive, and unless I were forced to sell all of it, I could see my days out with the collected works of Valentina Lisitsa and Genesis (and maybe my Beatles boxed set).

I’m trying to think of what else qualifies under the question at the top, but other than perhaps knives (of which I have many, and just can’t think of any I’d even think of buying today), none come to mind.

As with all exercises of this genre, feel free to participate in Comments.  I look forward to your thoughts, as always.


I’ve got this pic set as my laptop’s wallpaper.  Can you see what’s wrong with it?

As the Son&Heir commented:  “No room for even a plinking range.  WTF?”

It’s a good point, although there’s enough space to put a clay-tosser for a little shotgunning fun…

…using only non-toxic shot, of course.

I Like This

I remember back when Wal-Mart and their ilk were building stores everywhere, and small-town businesses everywhere were being put out of business by their erstwhile customers falling prey to the fallacy that Price Is King, and lured into the soulless caverns that were Wal-Mart, Home Depot and so on, all for the chance to save a couple bucks on nails and screwdrivers.

I was heartened when I visited Britishland for the first time, back in 1997, and found that there were still plenty of ironmongers (hardware stores) dotted in the main streets of British towns.  Invariably, I’d drift into one, and wish that I lived somewhere nearby because of all the cool stuff they sold, stuff which I hadn’t seen in over decade of walking through Lowes or Home Depot, let alone Wal-Mart.

Let me be clear here:  to men of my generation, hardware stores are to us like drugstores are to women.  Yet while you can find a CVS, Walgreens or Osco drugstore within spitting distance of your house in any town, you will not find a hardware store which caters to men.  Oh sure, drive a few miles and get drawn into a Wal-Mart, only to find that if you want a couple of #2 self-tapping screws for that project on the honey-do list, sorry but they’re only available in the 50-pack, $5.99 instead of a buck for the two you needed.  (And yes, I know all about economies of scale and bulk savings — but at the end of the day, you end up spending six bucks instead of two, and are saddled with four dozen screws that you may or may not need in the future.)

It doesn’t have to be that way.  Here’s a story from, of all places, Wales, where the local ironmongery was about to close its doors after years of serving the town, but the locals, realizing what they might miss if the place disappeared, did something about it.

Note how carefully they structured the financing, so that GlobalMegaCorp Inc. couldn’t sink their ravenous fangs into the place and turn it into something other than what they wanted to keep.

I wish we’d done something like this in small towns Over Here, but that bullet’s gone through the church and we’re stuck with megastores, damn it.

There are about three or four posts that burst the banks of this stream of consciousness, but they can wait for another time.


I read this guy’s story with something akin to dread:

And that’s when I realized that little by little, my phone had gotten the best of me.

I’ve often prided myself on one of the few people not shackled to my phone, but after reading this guy’s story, I chided myself for my arrogance.

As much as I hate to admit it, my phone is now an integral part of my existence, as much as my glasses or my car.

We’ve been one-carring it since the beginning of the week — first, my car had to (finally) get completely fixed after my collision with the highway crocodile a few weeks ago, which meant that while New Wife was driving to and from work, I sat at home, isolated.  Then I had to get some errands done (Rx refills etc.) so I had to drive her to and from work for a day.  Then, just as we were going to pick up the Tiguan, I got this call:  “My check engine light just came on.”

So we picked up my car and dropped hers off, to get the oil changed as well as getting whatever the warning light entailed seen to.  All manageable (except the total repair cost for the two cars — I’m going to have to sell a gun or two, and I’m not kidding), but having one car was an inconvenience, really.

However:  had my phone disappeared on me during this time, that would have been simply catastrophic.  Calls to the auto repair shop, calls to New Wife to organize pickup times… the list of critical calls was far longer than I was comfortable with.  And don’t even ask me how I’d have got through to anyone without my phone’s contact list.

Like many people nowadays, we don’t have a landline phone in the apartment.  But I’m starting to rethink that — or else I’m going to get a no-contract burner phone for emergencies.

This modern life is bullshit, and it sucks green donkey dicks.


Via the Knuckledragger, I see this little exercise:

Get Taylor Swift front row seats, or buy this instead

Given that I would rather be boiled in oil than have to sit through a Taylor Swift concert, never mind caught at a distance where I would be sprayed by her saliva as she mimes her way through her dreadful repertoire, it’s an interesting thought:

What’s a decent way to blow $11,000 (!) instead of a front-row ticket in Hell?

The guidelines are:  assume that you have no debts to pay off, and that the eleven grand is just to be spent on yourself.  What would give you the greatest satisfaction or enjoyment?  (Be as silly as you want;  one of the suggestions in the article was to buy yourself a pallet of Arizona Iced Tea — which for me, by the way, would be only marginally less horrible than the aforementioned concert ticket.)

You can choose to spend it on just one thing, or on several.

Your suggestions in Comments;  my choices will be below the fold.

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