The perils of cheap knives and swords

As part of writing the next Western novel in my Ames Archives series, I’m devoting a lot of attention to knives and their use in the Old West.  There were plenty of cheap ones, but also a surprising number of higher-quality, custom-made fighting blades.  I won’t spoil the book by revealing too much, but it will cover the subject in some depth. As part of it, I’ve been talking with Sven, the knifemaker who made a custom Damascus steel knife for Miss D. a couple of years ago.  He’s going to help me make a very authentic replica of a

Continue reading

Stuff, according to George Carlin

Yesterday I wrote about Americans’ accumulation of “stuff”, and how they deal with it.  A commenter pointed me to one of comedian George Carlin‘s performances, where he comments on that issue.  It’s a lot less profane than many of his rants, so I’ll post it here.  He still uses a few less-than-polite words, so if you’re easily offended, you might want to skip it;  but it’s a very amusing performance. A few e-mailed comments from male readers, following yesterday’s article, alleged that the “stuff” problem in their homes was largely due to their wives and daughters, not to the men

Continue reading

Stuff, out the wazoo

When Miss D. and I moved to Texas, two and a half years ago, we shed an immense amount of excess belongings before the trip.  I reduced my library by two-thirds, carting six (six!) pickup-truck-loads of books to the second-hand store, and we got rid of a lot of other stuff as well.  Even so, we’re finding it difficult to remain within our bounds now that we’re here.  The garage is filling up again, and Miss D. has made it clear I need to winnow it down to a manageable amount of stuff once more.  (That’s only fair – I’m

Continue reading

Low, fast and stupid

This video, apparently dating from 2014, shows a Ukrainian Sukhoi Su-24 (a Soviet equivalent to the US F-111) making a very low, very fast pass over other Ukrainian aircraft at the Starokostiantyniv air base. At that speed, and that (lack of) height, one slip and he’d have been a smear of metal and strawberry jam on the earth . . . Peter

Continue reading

Hobbit shrimp???

I daresay the shade of J. R. R. Tolkien is laughing at this news. A student at the Netherlands’ Leiden University named Werner de Gier recently [discovered] … a pair of new shrimp species during a research project for his bachelor’s degree. One of the species was unique in that it had hairy feet and not one to let such an opportunity slip by, de Gier and his supervisor, Charles H. J. M. Fransen, decided to honor one very special hobbit. The shrimp’s official scientific name is Odontonia Bagginsi, which as you might have guessed is a nod to one

Continue reading

A very worthy new Combat Magnum revolver

Smith & Wesson originally applied the name “Combat Magnum” to their short-barreled Model 19/66 K-frame revolver chambered in .357 Magnum.  It gained a stellar reputation among cops and civilian carriers alike during the 1960’s and beyond.  It’s still being made. However, Smith & Wesson have now introduced another “Combat Magnum”, this time chambered for .44 Magnum.  It’s a short-barreled variant of their Model 69, an L-frame, five-shot revolver. For those of us who remember the long-out-of-production Model 696, a 5-shot L-frame revolver chambered in .44 Special, the new revolver is a thing of beauty.  Its barrel is only ¼” shorter

Continue reading