Also any argument that begins with a dictionary citation.
Also any argument that begins with a dictionary citation.
2014 was the sixtieth anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster.
You may not know guitars – but you’ve heard them.
NPR did a pretty decent story on the the anniversary, and the guitar, last week. Leo Fender designed the “Strat” as the followup to the much-more-conventional but also legendary Telecaster.
The thing that jumps out at the non-guitar player is the body shape – a radical double-cutaway design (allowing the guitarist to easily get to the highest notes on the neck).
For the musician, there was the vibrato bar – the “whammy bar” – at the bridge, immortalized by a generation of surf-rockers and, in a much-modified form, Eddie Van Halen:
And for guitarists who really, really dig into it? The “Strat” was an incredibly versatile instrument.
Its three “pickups” – the three little oval bars, basically microphones that turn the vibration of the strings into electrical signals that are sent to the amplifier – are connected to a five position switch that allows the guitarist to select which of the three pickups, or which combination, are live. The one closest to the bridge picks up more treble, and is most useful for playing solos; the one closest to the fingerboard is usually lower and bassier, and is usually used for playing rhythm. The one in the middle is…well, in the middle.
The cool part is that the “in between” positions, 2 and 4 respectively, the signals from the fingerboard or bridge pickups are out of phase with the middle pickup. It gives you a funky, reedy tone that is hard to describe, but impossible to miss (think “Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits, or “Smoking Gun” by Robert Cray, or “The Core” by Eric Clapton).
The Strat has been the instrument of choice for an army of guitarists, all over the spectrum; from bluesmen like Eric Clapton (who has been pretty exclusively identified with Strats for the past forty years) and Robert Cray, through rockers like Jimi Hendrix, to peripatatic fretboard stylists like Mark Knopfer and Richard Thompson, to jazz and big band players, the Strat has been there and done that.
And it almost didn’t turn out that way. The Strat’s first couple of years of sales were disappointing; Leo Fender fielded criticisms of the Strat’s bright, sharp sound, causing him to design a followup, the “Jazzmaster”:
The “Jazz” was designed to address the Strat’s “shortcomings”; the pickups were wired for a thicker, warmer sound, with more muted trebles and fuller bass and midranges. It was a more conservative design, both aesthetically and electrically.
But in the interim, rock and roll happened. And the Strat – a relative bargain at the time – became, sharp tone and all, the preferred instrument of a generation of rock and rollers.
So successful was the Strat, of course, that the Gibson company – which had been producing the iconic, heavier, more-expensive “Les Paul”, reacted by producing a “Les Paul Junior”, with a lighter double-cutaway body; it’s better known today as the “SG”:
And, notwithstanding a brief flash of Beatles-driven popularity for Rickenbacker guitars (brought back by Tom Petty in the late seventies), that’s been pretty much bedrock of the rock and roll guitarist’s arsenal ever since.
I’ve never owned a Strat – yet. Someday.
Surly opens its new brew pub near Dinkytown today…
…as the craft beer world finally starts to ask “do we need to apply hops to beer the way William Westmoreland applied napalm and Agent Orange to the Viet Cong?”
We wait a full year for the Shooties – my annual award ceremony for all that is awful about Twin Cities blogging and alternative media.
And yet it’s always so very, totally worth it.
So let’s start making the sausage, shall we?
The Sominex Award: This year, this award goes to the leftyblog that bored me completely stiff.
And this year, the award goes to: The Entire Twin Cities Leftyblogosphere!
Look – Twin Cities leftyblogs are almost always dumb. Most of the smart ones – and there have been a few – have moved on to greener pastures. And what’s left?
When Sally Jo Sorenson is the cream of the remaining crop, you know you’ve got a problem.
The “Oceania Has Always Thought Eastasia Acted Perfectly Normal” Award: For the fifth straight year, the Twin Cities media – the so-called “fifth estate” that ostensibly keeps an eye on government – asked not a single question about the physical or mental health of a governor who disappeared for weeks, and seemed to barely be in the office when he was in the office.
The “Fonzie Is Up On His Skis” Award: The entire political “fact-check” genre jumped the proverbial shark long ago, lost in a welter of bald-faced left-wing biased capstoned by “Polifact”, the putative flagship of the genre, flagging a “Lie of the Year” that turned out to be as true as mom’s apple pie in 2012.
But MPR’s “Poligraph” feature broke new, er, ground this past year – “fact-checking” one of Jeff Johnson’s purely-subjective statements about the governor’s race.
The “That Bludgeoned Feeling You Get” Award: There was a national wave for Republicans – one of the biggest in history. It was a wave that largely vindicated the Tea Party – the fiscally-conservative, socially-libertarian asymmetric grass roots movement that rocked official Washington in both parties back on its heels in 2010, and got pushed back after a massive nationwide campaign of demonization in the mainstream and left alt-medias (pardon the redundancy).
And the wave conquered the Minnesota House – at least in Greater Minnesota. The DFL Machine held most of the Twin Cities metro, but for a stubborn seat in Burnsville that finally fell to Roz Peterson.
And yet the Minnesota GOP didn’t get even one solitary statewide office. Not even the Secretary of State, which polls in the weeks before the election showed as a likely pickup for the MNGOP’s Dan Severson.
Let’s reiterate this: in the midst of a nationwide wave of revulsion for the Obama Administration, where Republicans took the governors offices in Maryland and Illinois, to say nothing of decisively taking hold of the US Senate, the MNGOP laid an egg statewide.
It’s enough to try the patience of even a Saint Paul republican.
The “Nothing Here But Us Davids!” Award: This one goes to the entire Minnesota Second Amendment movement.
After being humiliated by the shooters in the 2013 session, the gun-grabbers came back with hundreds of thousands of dollars of Michael Bloomberg’s money, hiring a platoon of top-flight lobbyists to supplant the hapless Heather Martens and the demented Jane Kay at the Capitol.
And even though the entire Legislature was controlled by the DFL, with a DFL governor, the antis got absolutely nothing. Michael Bloomberg’s money was as wasted as John Bonham, Keith Moon and Ronnie Van Zant in a Motel Six in Houston with an unlimited bar tab.
The Back To The Future Award: The Star/Tribune, in an effort to buff up its online presence, added some new blogs.
And when I say “new”, I mean “pretty much exactly the ones that anyone who is deeply cynical about the Strib’s relentless editorial left-wing slang would expect them to hire”.
You’ve got Mark Andrew, former state DFL chair Minneapolis mayor candidate and self-appointed giver of scarlet letters. You’ve got Molly Priesmeyer, a woman whom the Twin Cities leftymedia takes inexplicably seriously (even though we surely do not). There’s the perfectly capable Aaron Brown – one of a very short list of Minnesota liberal bloggers who don’t deserve to be under police surveillance. And there’s my old friend and former NARN colleague Michael Brodkorb. Michael’s a good writer and great reporter, but let’s be honest; before he started straying from the GOP line, the Strib wouldn’t have collectively urinated on him if he had been on fire. Now that he’s a little more, I think it’s fair to say, unattached? Suddenly the Strib bites.
I’m shocked, shocked, I tell you.
The Benito Mussolini Award: In 2014, the Met Council opened its second light rail line, drilled straight down the middle of University Avenue, at a cost of $1.4 Billion. As has been noted in this space in the past, it was the wrong kind of train in the wrong place (“light rail” is supposed to jet along at 55MPH along routes with stops roughly every mile, like the “Blue Line” does; if you’re going to go down the middle of a busy urban street, you should build a trolley).
So last June, the Green Line, connecting the downtowns, opened with suffocating fanfare and cloying adulation…
…and, as it happens, not much speed. It took over an hour to go from downtown to downtown – about the same as the limited-stop 50 Bus that the train replaced (which did the route in about an hour), not much faster than the local 16 bus (about 90 minutes), and much, much slower than the 94 Express, which did the route with very limited stops in about 25 minutes. (The Met Council responded by eliminating the 94 Express outside rush hour).
So bad was it that even the transit fans at MPR, who had been cheerleading the Green Line since its inception (except for the part where it went past the MPR studios), were unamused to the point of taking the car.
I rode the Green Line once and once only – on its debut night. I rode from Hamline down to the Union Depot; it took about an hour and fifteen minutes, counting walking down to University and waiting for the train. That compared to about 40 minutes if I took the 67 bus (25 minutes) and walked from Cedar down to Union Depot, or 30 minutes if I biked it, or maybe fifteen by car, counting finding a parking spot.
I calculated that if they get the “Southwest Light Rail” built, it’ll mean someone can go from Union Depot to Eden Prairie Center in three hours.
The Charles Townsend Award – In 1765, British parliamentarian Charles Townsend, in noting the Colonies’ protests against the Stamp Act, said:
“And now will these Americans, Children planted by our Care, nourished up by our Indulgence until they are grown to a Degree of Strength & Opulence, and protected by our Arms, will they grudge to contribute their mite to relieve us from the heavy weight of that burden which we lie under?”
Townsend’s statements sum up the arrogance of the professional bureaucrat, the institutional utopian, the Masters of the Universe who believe they were sent here to keep us peasants from crapping in our beds.
And the winner this year? The entire Democrat “Farmer” Labor Party, as well as the entire machine that supports it in this state – Alliance for a “Better” Minnesota, Take Action Minnesota, the Star-Tribune and other left-leaning non-profits – who, after two years of blatantly carrying the DFL’s water on their signature pledge in the 2012 election (“We’ll lower property taxes for the middle class!”), promptly…
…presided over massive increases in property taxes for the middle class.
Which somehow got less media coverage than Teddy Bridgewater’s choice of sneakers.
OK, that’ll do it for this year! See you in 2015!
Probably not a complete mystery for most of this blog’s audience – but fun nonetheless.
When it comes to stating and defending their points under fire, American politicians are pansies.
British parliamentarians? They are like the Mike Ditkas of political speech.
And here’s one, courtesy of Margaret Thatcher, that I would love to see some Minnesota Republican, some how, some way, exhume and use in the coming session.
Because it applies to us, here and now.
Over the weekend, I heard NPR intoning with worried voice that ISIS was working on getting some captured Syrian jet fighters operational.
This, the worried NPR reporters told us, would be a worrisome development in the developing war in the Levant.
And I thought “well, maybe to NPR reporters. But I have a hunch I know one crowd who’d just loooooooove it if ISIS were to cough up a plane or two”:
“I’d sell my first born to engage all three… by myself,” one highly experienced U.S. Marine Corps fighter pilot joked. Another Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle pilot said, “Send me in, coach! There’s no way they get those airborne!”
Western, non-Israeli fighter pilots haven’t had any air-to-air combat since the first Gulf War, 20-odd years ago – and even that was rare. The Iraqi air force largely buried itself in the sand (not making that up) or flew to…Syria and Iran in 2003.
The ISIS “air force” apparently has two MIG-21s – infamous dogfighters in Vietnam, which led to the design of the F-16, forty years ago - and a single MIG-23, a Cold-War-era mainstay of the Soviet air force.
Both were designed in an era where either planes were fighters, or bombers – not both:
“We’re not talking about aircraft that are extremely effective at delivering ordinance both in terms of equipment and training,” said one U.S. Air Force official. “It’s simply not worth it beyond an easily discreditable propaganda ploy.”
The MiG-21 does not carry a huge amount of weaponry and was originally designed to fight other aircraft. Meanwhile, the MiG-23 is a much bigger and more complex jet that requires a professional pilot to operate properly.
Oh, make no mistake – they both require professional pilots. If not to fly them, then to survive in combat long enough to say they were in combat.
There are a fighter pilot or two among the regular commentariat here at SITD. I’ll invite their feedback…
When making your weekend plans, remember – the second ”MN Carry Day and Safety Education Expo” is this Saturday,Saturday, Oct. 18. at St. Paul Harley Davidson, St. Paul
The event is free to attend, and family friendly. And it’s not just for gun owners – the event will cover a wide range of personal safety information.
And there’s a gun give-away, sponosred by Taurus USA, among many others.
And Uncle Franky’s mobile food truck will be on site all day!
Want more details? Go here!
And mark your calendars!
Red Bull settles class action suit about its marketing claims.
Up next – a class action personal injury/paternity suit against Red Bull and the entire vodka industry.
When out and about this weekend, there are two important gun safety and personal defense events coming up over the next couple of weekends.
The “MN Carry Day and Safety Education Expo” will be coming up as follows:
The events are free to attend, and family friendly. And they’re not just for gun owners – the events will cover a wide range of personal safety information.
And they’ll be giving away two handguns donated by Taurus USA, among many other give-aways. Uncle Franky’s mobile food truck will be on site all day at both events.
Want more details? Go here!
And mark your calendars!
Police departments – at least, some that Mother Jones talked with – are ostensibly trying to get rid of surplus military gear:
Even before police militarization made the news, hundreds of police departments were finding that grenade launchers, military firearms, and armored vehicles aren’t very useful to community policing. When Chelan County police officers requested one armored car in 2000—the request that landed them three tanks—they pictured a vehicle that could withstand bullets, not land mines. Law enforcement agencies across the country have quietly returned more than 6,000 unwanted or unusable items to the Pentagon in the last 10 years, according to Defense Department data provided to Mother Jones by a spokeswoman for Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who has spearheaded a Senate investigation of the Pentagon program that is arming local police. Thousands more unwanted items have been transferred to other police departments.
The catch? The Pentagon doesn’t really want it all back. It’s cheaper to let local cops maintain it than to keep it in Federal storage.
Which is vexing some cops:
In reality, however, police departments may find the returns process slow, mystifying, or nonfunctional. Online law enforcement message boards brim with complaints that the Pentagon refuses to take back unwanted guns and vehicles—like this one, about a pair of M14 rifles that have survived attempts by two sheriffs to get rid of them.
I’ve got an obvious answer – one that’ll make cops, the Pentagon and citizens (the right ones, anyway) happy: sell it to private citizens. Or at least the private citizens that pass the same background check that qualifies them for a state carry permit. It’ll save government money, and make the country safer by making Real Americans better-armed.
Facetious? Halfway. A fair chunk of this equipment could, and should by all rights, be going into the “Civilian Marksmanship Program”. But Barack Obama has been sandbagging the CMP for the past six years – which is why the price of surplus M-1 Garand rifles (from WW2 and the Korean War) is so very high these days.
But I digress.
And I’m about to digress some more; it’d seem we have some real powderpuffs in uniform (empasis added):
[Hillsborough NC police lieutenant Davis] Trimmer has twice requested permission to return three M14 rifles that are too heavy for practical use.
“Too heavy for practical use?” They weight eight pounds. Our troops lugged them all over Vietnam, for crying out loud.
Maybe the lieutenant was referring to carrying all three of them together?
Turn them over to me, if that’d help…
I thought I’d pass the word; at some point in the near future (likely in time for Christmas), “Trulbert: A Comic Novella About The End Of The World As We Know It” will hit the virtual shelves. I’m going to publish it as an e-book.
And while it will be substantially similar to the serial I’ve been doing for the past few months, there will be many updates (above and beyond the usual rewrite) and a whole lot of new, book-only material.
Pass the word, and stay tuned!
Back in high school typing class, we learned – to the point of incorporating it into muscle memory, so we never actually thought about it – to type two spaces after a period.
Sentences have endings. When I put an ending on a sentence, I type two spaces. It’s that simple. I don’t even think about it. Except now, naturally.
Now, in about 35 years of typing, I can’t say that I’ve ever thought twice about it – with one exception. Back when I worked as a technical writer, I noticed that most word processing and Desktop Publishing software automatically replaced my traditional double-space after a period with a single space.
A single, extra-wide space. To highlight the end of the sentence. Sort of like we did on typewriters, only better.
Oh, yeah -and now. For the past year or two, it’s hard to go more than a few weeks without some major publication writing an article about how typing two spaces after a period is “completely, inarguably wrong“.
This time, it’s Farhad Manjoo:
You’d expect, for instance, that anyone savvy enough to read Slate would know the proper rules of typing, [Hah! - Ed.] but you’d be wrong; every third email I get from readers includes the two-space error. (In editing letters for “Dear Farhad,” my occasional tech-advice column, I’ve removed enough extra spaces to fill my forthcoming volume of melancholy epic poetry, The Emptiness Within.) The public relations profession is similarly ignorant; I’ve received press releases and correspondence from the biggest companies in the world that are riddled with extra spaces.
Might I suggest purchasing one of the many fine apps that handle the typography for you…
…and getting a hobby?
And never, ever writing about this subject again?
A much-better-than-you’d expect piece from the BBC on shooters who happen to be blind.
Upside: some great interviews with blind shooters, some of whom are startlingly accomplished with firearms.
No, I’m not making that up.
Downside: while journos do usually try to find a counterpoint on any story, the best the Beeb could come up with was Stevie Wonder, who apparently thinks the idea of blind people with guns is crazy. And if you can afford as many bodyguards as Wonder can (assuming he needs them), he could be forgiven the assumption.
I used to produce a show for Don Vogel, a blind guy who hosted a talk show at KSTP in the eighties. After beating him in “Horse” by “HOR” to “HORSE”, I suggested a trip to the range. He was interested, but we could never quite pull it together.
Anyway – the article is worth a read!
A Ford GT40 – one of the dream sports cars of the ’60s and ’70s – found in junk-filled garage:
From the article:
This isn’t just any Ford GT40, either. This is chassis No. 1067, and while it appears to lack the racing pedigree of some other GTs, it is among the rarest. The World Registry of Cobras & GT40s says it is just one of three GT40 MkI cars to come with the MkII’s rear clamshell, and of those three, it is the only survivor. Furthermore, it was the last GT40 to be produced in 1966 and was the last GT40 to use a Ford serial number—all subsequent GT40s wore the serial numbers of J.W. Automotive Engineering.
But that’s not all.
On the door? Salt Walther – a race car driver from the sixties and seventies renowned for having less success than almost any other driver of some of the best, hottest cars around (including the GT40), and survivor of one of the most spectacular Indy car crashes of all time:
And that goes back far enough to trip the trivia meter on my very, very, very brief infatuation with racing, back in 4th-7th grade.
But enough of that. Let’s check out the car again:
Ah. Much better.
…i have wondered about this.
It seems like just yesterday Katie Kieffer and her friends were vexing the management at Saint Thomas with all sorts of conservative hijinx – like publishing a conservative newspaper on the famously liberal campus, and booking an appearance by Ann Coulter over the fervid phumphering of college president Dennis “Havana Denny” Dease.
Katie’s on to bigger and better things, now; her first book, Let Me Be Clear, is coming out next month. We talked about it on the show last Saturday; it’s Katie’s view of the world facing Millennials, and what to do about it.
She’s holding a pre-launch party; it’s on Wednesday, June 4th from 6-8:30 pm. at Casper’s Cherokee in Eagan (just off Cliff at Nichols). And unlike some big-buck K Street soirée, yoiu’re invited…
…or, actually, technically, you have the ability to invite yourself!
Sue Jeffers, Ed Morrissey and I will be there. Hope you can be too!
Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
Minnesota didn’t even make the list? This is plainly wrong.
I smell – literally – a DFL spending program!
It’s that gun. The weird one that looks like some propmaster built it.
You know the one. That one.
That weird, space-age-looking thing that “Karl”, the cyborg-y looking “terrorist”/thief (Alexander Godunov) in Die Hard, all uncustomary lines and strange curves and fussy, funky handgrips…:
…that blazed away at John McClain on the roof of the Nakitome Building.
Or the one The Governor used to rub out his voter base in The Walking Dead…
…all foreign and threatening-looking (moreso than regular assault rifles, even).
It’s the Steyr AUG (Armee Universal Gewehr, or “Universal Army Rifle”) – and its’ even more space-age than it appears in the movies.
Developed in the seventies by Steyr-Mannlicher Arms in Austria, the AUG was an attempt to build one gun to fit just about every need an army has for firearms below the company level.
By simply changing out the barrel, the bolt and bolt carrier, and the magazines, a single AUG can switch between being a squad support light machine gun, an infantry rifle, a short carbine, or (with pistol-caliber components) a submachine gun.
It’s not just a space-age toy and movie prop, of course; it’s the issue rifle of the Austrian, Australian, New Zealand, Irish, Argentinean, Saudi and several other armies – as well as the main battle rifle of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement service, keeping America safe from the invasion of contraband duty-free booze or whatever the hell ICE does other than watch the border.
The biggest thing to get used to is that it’s a “bullpup” – the magazine is mounted behind the trigger and pistol grip. Which means that when you’re shooting it, the chamber is right next to your cheek.
Not to say that I thought much about it when I finally got a chance to shoot one, at the Bill’s Gun Range “Shooter Show” last month; the adrenaline of getting to bust off a few caps with an AUG took my mind off the fact that there was an explosion with 40,000 PSI of pressure going off inches from my head, not 6-12 inches in front of me like a regular assault rifle.
I didn’t think about that ’til afterward.
Three things I did think as I shot it?
Hot Hot Hot: During shooting? That little folding vertical foregrip is a nifty feature for holding the gun on target in rapid fire (I shot a semi-automatic version) – but you’ll notice that it leaves nothing between your off-hand and the barrel.
Which gets very very hot after 100 rounds or so!
High And Tight: The bullpup configuration makes it a very compact piece – which means your stance is a lot more closed than with a conventional rifle, even a small one like an M4-pattern carbine. That makes shooting it feel more…up close and personal?
Tactical: It was the first time I’d ever personally fired a gun with a modern tactical scope – which is an important accessory on a piece with such a very, very short sighting radius. Not great for precision point-shooting (there are other scopes for that); excellent for putting lead into paper in a big hurry. I can see what the fuss is about. C’mon, tax refund time.
Hypothetically, at least.
How to describe it? There is no way not to feel like a paper-shredding animal shooting the AUG.
Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
I need a mood-sensing iPod to play only songs that fit my mood; otherwise, I must click to skip songs that don’t fit my mood and that annoys me, which puts me in a bad mood. For example:
Doctor My Eyes
Does Anybody Know What Time It Is (Chicago Transit Authority album long version)
Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina (Patti LuPone version)
Don’t Cry for Me, Eileen
should Not be followed by Helen Reddy scolding me “Don’t Cry Out Loud.” Steve Jobs would have understood this. Get on it, please.
All I know is come tax time, my MP3 player ran “Money Changes Everything”, “Gimme Some Money” and “Money (That’s What I Want)” back to back.
“I oppose National Popular Vote (NPV), and I urge you to oppose it too. It will centralize power on the coasts”.
Now, to wait…