Papa Legba vector veve

Papa Legba is the loa who facilitates communication so represents a powerful force in infomancy. I use his veve as a technomantic sigil and my current iteration is a digitally native vector format: as a set of instructions it is literally drawn out by the computer.

Legba veve

Climb classifications in the Le Tour de France

Apparently the climb classifications (4,3,2,1,HC) in the Le Tour de France are based on the gear you’d need to use in a 2CV to get up that hill. This is quite clearly horse poop and – as the owner of a 2CV – I have a 100% subjective personal anecdote to prove it:

The Le Tour has been past the village were I grew up twice (’94 & ’07) and both times there was a 4th cat near by. There’s no way you’d get a 2CV up those hills in 4th – they’re solid 3rd and maybe a quick dip to 2nd near the top if you didn’t get a good run at them on the way in.

As for HC (which is supposedly impassable to a 2CV) I similarly call horse. 1st gear in a 2CV is so low it won’t even get you half way across a set of traffic lights without needing to change up – you’ll run out of grip on the tyres long before you torque stall the engine. (Admittedly the grupetto would be faster up the hill but that’s not the point.)

Generally your biggest problem on hills in a 2CV is some idiot in a modern car in front of you that slows down for the corners – it’s all about conservation of momentum, as this person ably demonstrates.


Airfix Chieftain turret

The turret is one of the distinctive visual features on the Chieftain and on the kit I’ve got the front top surface wasn’t particularly good, especially along the join.  Quite a few layers of filler followed by smoothing were needed to get a smooth profile.

Airfix Chieftain turret

There were a few other bits of filling required, the tops of the smoke grenade dischargers and the seam round the top plate being the most obvious.

By modern standards this was quite a bit of work for a plastic kit but it’s 40 years old and the tooling is nearly 50 years old so I’m not going to complain, in fact it adds to the satisfaction of making an old kit and having to deal with the problems of a modeller at the time when this was a state-of-the art kit.

Liked on YouTube: Dating Armor from Effigies: Be Careful!

Dating Armor from Effigies: Be Careful!
Sometimes effigies can play a trick on you. For the most part effigies are carved within a few years of either side of the death of the individual they represent, but in some cases there exists a significant disparity from the date of death and date of manufacture which can cause confusion when trying to date the armor.

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Liked on YouTube: Soviet PSM Pistol History: Really a KGB Assassination Gun?

Soviet PSM Pistol History: Really a KGB Assassination Gun?
The PSM is a Soviet pistol from the late 1970s which has gotten itself quite the fanciful reputation here in the US, thanks to extreme rarity and some imaginative magazine articles. Common lore would have you believe that the PSM and its 5.45x18mm bottlenecked cartridge is capable of astounding feats of armor penetration, and that it was designed specifically for KGB assassins.

The truth is rather more mundane – the PSM was a sidearm for high ranking officers who did not want to deal with carrying a Makarov pistol. Much like the US use of the 1911 and the Colt 1903 back during WW2, general-rank Soviet officers carried sidearms as badges of rank, not as actual combat weapons. To that end, the PSM is extremely thin to make it as unobtrusive as possible. The 5.45x18mm cartridge is basically a centerfire .22 long rifle ballistically. It does offer armor penetration that would be surprising to some, because its metal jacket, mild steel core, and small frontal area are all beneficial in piercing Kevlar. That is a side effect of the design, however, and not an original intent.

Mechanically, the PSM is a simple blowback action, and very similar to the Makarov.

Thanks to Mike Carrick of Arms Heritage magazine for providing the PSM and its ammunition for this video! See his regular column here:

Cool Forgotten Weapons merchandise!

If you enjoy Forgotten Weapons, check out its sister channel, InRangeTV!
via YouTube

Popping the progressive bubble

In the aftermath of the Tories pyrrhic victory and Labours glorious defeat it’s easy for those in a progressive bubble to assume that things will continue on this trajectory and the path to utopia is now all but assured so we can sit back and relax.  However, let’s try and look at this without a bubble filter.

Assumption: There will be another election in short order.

The Tories are currently an omni-shambles and when there is another election, after what we’ve just seen, Labour should win.

Assumption: The next election will look like the last one.

At the start of the last election campaign the Tories looked like a lock in for a strong and stable majority so that shows that things can change dramatically in a short space of time.  There’s no way the Tories will fail to learn the lessons of the last election, they’ll get their house in order and run a very different campaign.

Assumption: UKIP are dead and their previous voters were split roughly 50:50 between Tory and Labour.

Although they have no MPs their vote share is still pretty high but we’re assuming they’re not a challenge.  The Tories were using hard Brexit to get the UKIP voters to move to them so, freed from that they can now move to a softer Brexit which could earn them votes from ex-UKIP voters that voted Labour because they wanted out but not at all costs.

Assumption: The Tories are a shambles, no one will vote for them.

Whilst they are currently a shambles they are as aware of this as the rest of us and they won’t let it stand.  There’s a good chance they’ll now come down hard internally and come back with something that is more like the strong and stable Tory party of old.  If you’re a mythical floating voter who leans right then you might well vote for a re-invigorated Tory party because you’ve seen what happens if they don’t have a strong majority so you’ll want to give them that.

Assumption: Labour are riding the crest of a wave.

Labour certainly did well with their left wing stance and they significantly benefited from significantly increased young voter turnout but what if they’ve got everything they can out of that – this is the high water mark and it still wasn’t enough?

Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

There is no inevitable trajectory to be extrapolated from the recent election, things can – and will – change.  Conservatives will learn and adjust so progressives will similarly have to learn and adjust.  There is no end game here – it’s ongoing.

“You can’t get too high or too low, we play this game every day.”


Voter targeting

It wouldn’t be an election day if I didn’t remind you it’s not a secret ballot. Notice that officials record the serial number of your ballot sheet against your entry on the electoral roll so your vote can be traced. The intent of this is so an investigation can be carried out in the event of an accusation of electoral fraud.

It’s been a while since I read the letter of the law on this (and I did read the relevant act of parliament) but IIRC the protections round this are nominal. Fortunately this is one occasion that you should be thankful that the people you are electing aren’t competent enough to be using this data. (With the corollary that sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.) The one saving grace is  this is currently a paper record. However, if it was stored electronically then I’m sure by now Russia would have hacked it and leaked it to whoever they thought was most likely to destabilise the country.

If you were to combine this data with profiles from both social media and advertising data brokers you would have a perfect bubble targeting campaign. Not only can you reinforce the beliefs of your own supporters but you can also use the matches on people who voted for your opponents to spread disinformation (fake news) to discredit them. (Note that the “perfection politics” of the left’s voters are particularly susceptible to this later tactic.)

This isn’t idle speculation, all the elements of this scenario have been reported recently. Hacking aside, none of this is difficult. In fact, it’s pretty much an ideal case study in current online advertising practice. Even the online marketing Twitter bots agree with me on this:

Online marketing Twitter bot lies a tweet about online marketing

When marketing commercial tat the source data generally comes from customer databases, analytics and market sector demographics – when marketing political tat the ideal source data would be voting records which, if it were a true secret ballot, would be unavailable.

Don’t let this put you off from voting (that’s the perfection politics I mentioned earlier) but do be aware that there is plenty of credible evidence that this kind of thing is happening in world politics at the moment.