Where’s The BEEF?

My job requires frequent stays in Austin, Texas, the capital city of the state.  The hotel I favor is across the street from Donn’s, a local BBQ restaurant.  Not the best BBQ joint in the world, but convenient and oh so filling.

I like the three meat platter.

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Any BBQ fan in the world will swear up and down that you also need pickles and bread, an essential component of any BBQ meal.  Why aren’t they in the picture?  Because they are free for the taking at the service counter.  Get what you want. Load up, even.  If you are looking to make some meat-and-pickle sandwiches back in your hotel room, no one will bat an eye.  But needful as they are, pickles and bread aren’t considered to be worthy of taking up space with the good stuff.

They have good breakfast food.  Here is one of their breakfast specials featuring brisket-and-potato tacos.

Sorry for the small pic.  It came from the restaurant website.

Still no bread or pickles.  Again, they are there if you want them.  There just isn’t any reason to waste space in the frame for such a basic component of a real, honest to goodness BBQ meal.  Not when there is barely room for the delicious meat and side dishes, that is.

A recent article on Vice wonders why Brooklyn, New York BBQ is taking over the world.  Below is the headlining picture from the article.

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Do you know what this picture really needs?  A whole lot more bread and pickles on that tray to fill in all that empty space around the meager portion of meat.

(Hat tip to Glenn.)

This Sounds Vomitable

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Strawberry and lemon flavored beer.  Limited edition, but still.

I have to admit that I didn’t try this odd concoction, as I am not a beer drinker, and so it may well be the most delightful and refreshing beer there ever was.  I freely admit that I am not brave enough to start with this particular brew.

For those readers who do not hail from the United States, or who live in the US where the product is not available, let me assure you that it is a real beverage and not some parody.

God bless America!

End Of An Era

Below is the trailer for the 1973 movie Serpico, and it has a line or two about a gun that the main character is buying.

The gun that the hero hippy cop was buying was a Browning Hi Power, and the guy doing the selling certainly seems to be impressed the firepower it commands.

“Takes a 14 shot clip!  You expecting an army?”

Not exactly accurate.  The magazine at the time held 13 rounds of 9mm Parabellum, with one in the chamber.  Fourteen total, not 14 in the magazine.

Still, consider the times.  Police forces at the time were wedded to revolvers, six rounds in the cylinder and then one had to go through a long reloading process.  To most Americans in the 1960’s and 1970’s, the only autoloaders that existed in their minds were 1911‘s.  Seven round magazines, and then you were out.  The Hi Power must have seemed like a monster on steroids.

Originally designed by famed firearms inventor John Moses Browning, the same guy who invented the aforementioned 1911, the Hi Power was not put into production until 1935, nine years after his death.  It was the most advanced production handgun on the planet at that time, and for decades afterwards, and just about every military wanted something like the Hi Power.

People discussing the merits of the Hi Power like to say that at least 50 armies across the world adopted the gun as their primary sidearm, and that is certainly true.  But what is usually not mentioned is how the design was essentially stolen by at least a few countries.

Make an internal change or two and claim that it is a completely different design entirely.  The Warsaw Pact countries are famous for this, with Hungary being the one that spent the least effort to cover their tracks.  Canada looked to the Hi Power when they were thinking of developing a Magnum autoloader for their military, simply making the design larger and more robust to handle the massive stress caused by firing an incredibly powerful round. Such piracy of the design is a sure sign of how iconic and useful it has been through the years.

Alas, all things must come to an end.  The Browning website states that Hi Power production has ceased.  The guns waiting to be sold will last for some time to come, and the massive numbers already out in the world, will mean that examples of the gun will not become scarce for the rest of my life.  Still, I can’t help becoming a bit maudlin when I consider the end of such a favored warhorse.

Not A Time To Second Guess

Did any of you see this?

Tina Ring and her daughter Ashley Lee make a living for their families through their liquor store in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  A masked robber, armed with a shotgun, threatens their lives and takes the cash in the till before exiting the building.

He has what he said he wanted, but he comes back.  Why?  He had just robbed two helpless women, leaving them unmolested.  Maybe he had second thoughts about that second part.

We don’t have much information except the video, and some of the action takes place off camera.  Tina the mom arms herself with a revolver, don’t know what make or model, but I would guess something chambered for the .38 Special cartridge.  Daughter Ashley favors an autoloader, probably chambered for the .380 ACP cartridge.  If this is what they are using, and I have no way to know if it is, then they are both perfectly adequate rounds for self defense.

The end of the video is particularly terrifying.  The robber returns, wrestles the gun from Tina, and tries to shoot Ashley.  Why didn’t the gun go off?  I think Tina expended a round or two off camera.  Something tells me the gun was empty, the hammer falling on spent cartridges.

So I’m someone who teaches people how to get through situations like this.  Do I have any thoughts?  Perhaps some critique of the actions of Tina and Ashley?

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The Madness Of Crowds

One of the aspects of self defense is being aware of your surroundings, particularly the behavior of people nearby.  If someone is moving against the flow of foot traffic, for example, or if someone is wearing heavy winter clothing on a hot summer day.  Pay attention to the patterns, and these anomalies will stand out.

Long time reader knirirr brought the following fascinating and historically important photo to my attention.

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This is a street party held on August 15, 1945.  That is known as Victory Over Japan Day, and for most it signaled the end of World War II.

Why all the kids?  Massive numbers of children were evacuated from London and other major targets of German bombing raids during the war.  They were mainly sent to small towns where they were cared for by total strangers until after the war.  The picture depicts the tea party thrown by some of the townspeople for their charges before the children were shipped back, probably to the great relief of just about everyone involved.

It isn’t just movement and dress that depict harmful intent, it also expression and body language.  All those faces looking at the camera, most bored and waiting for the shutter to snap so they can get on with the festivities.  Some are goofing off for the picture, wearing silly hats for example, and one or two even show a smile that appears genuine.

I didn’t notice any of that at first glance, not even a single detail.  Instead my eyes were instantly drawn to the one face amongst all the others that shows hatred and anger, and my attention flashed along the enraged person’s sight line to discover the object of all that enmity!

Do you see it?  Go below the fold to see an altered version of the photo where I reveal what was instantly apparent to me.

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Walter Layman – Travel Pictures

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Walter Layman was a photographer who traveled the United States with his little dog Pocahontas.  He specialized in documenting Native American culture, and his work appeared in such illustrious publications as Nature and National Geographic.

The original photograph can be found here, and please click on that link to gain access to a picture with a much higher resolution.  Note how the license plate shows that Mr. Layman was from Texas, my adopted state, and that he has a black thread tied around his pipe and draped around his neck.  No doubt a lanyard for his pipe would be extremely useful while driving that Ford Model A on some rough roads.

Don’t ask me why, but I really like that picture for some reason.  Probably because of the dogs, and that I could see myself forging such a career if I had been born a century earlier.

UPDATE:  Reader Edward was kind enough to leave a comment, stating that the car is a Model T and not a Model A as I first thought.

Thank you kindly for the correction, Edward!

Run, Hide, and … What Is The Last One Again?

They made us watch the video below at work.


That video was produced by the city of Houston, Texas.  They consider it to be so important that it is available in many languages, some rather surprising such as Chinese.

The video describes what to do if one finds oneself in an active shooter situation, where some nutbag decides to end his miserable and worthless existence by killing as many innocent, helpless people as possible before the police arrives and takes his pain away with a bullet.   The three instructions to follow are RUN, HIDE, FIGHT.

These instructions are to avoid the shooter if at all possible, but if you can’t get away then to go down fighting.  Just about every law enforcement agency here in the United States advocates the same thing.  It is so common that even college police departments have their own videos to teach the students.

This is completely uncontroversial here in the United States, as it just seems to be gobsmackingly obvious.  I’ve even come across at least one law enforcement agency that uses the possibility of being caught in an active shooter incident as an opportunity to suggest firearms training so the erstwhile victims can shoot back.

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The Department of Homeland Security has gotten into the act, urging people across the nation to do the same thing.

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So that is the situation here in the US, but what about our good friends across the Pond in the United Kingdom?  What does their government teach people to do?

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Our good friend knirirr was kind enough to give us this heads up.  A bit different, and what is the reason?

I suppose Americans would just rather go meet their maker with an improvised weapon in their hands than a phone against their ear.

Knifely Benediction

A little something to carve the turkey.

A notation knife, with music and song etched into the blade, circa 1500 CE or so.  One side contains the grace, while the other side has a song of thanks.

The knife pictured above is housed at the Victoria and Albert Museum in the great city of London.  Click this link to be taken to the V&A website page that talks about the knife.  You can even listen to modern reproductions of the songs, kind of like listening to an echo from half millennium ago.