I wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot……

CNN’s pushing a Quinnipac poll showing President Trump with a 36% approval rating this morning.  Yet, Rasmussen says he’s got a 55% approval rating.  I wasn’t a fan of the President during the primaries and I still don’t trust him on the 2nd Amendment (or the First for that matter), but I want things to get better for everyone.  I want him to succeed for all of us and don’t really think that presidents affect nearly as much as media (all types, not just mainstream or social) would like us to think.  What it really shows is that all polls tell you is the opinions of people willing to answer the phone and talk to pollsters.  The election was a pretty clear indicator of how accurate polling can be as far as I’m concerned.

A Weighty Issue

Browsing through this morning’s headlines, I noticed that the S.S. Palo Alto in Northern California broke up during a storm.  She was an oil tanker built just after World War 1 that was docked in San Francisco for 10 years before being purchased by an amusement company and grounded in Aptos, California.  The company failed during the Great Depression and the Palo Alto was later used as a fishing pier.  My dad’s a history buff, so I’d heard of the 24 concrete ships that were built during World War II due to steel shortages.  I hadn’t seen the Palo Alto during any of our vacations up in the Bay area when I was growing up, but it’s a bit late now.  More info on this odd little historical side road is at www.concreteships.org.

Damn, Wish I’d Written That

Bobbi at The Adventures of Roberta X absolutely knocked one out of the park today, as she often does.  The histrionics and batshit craziness surrounding this inauguration have been mind-blowing.  We all (myself included) need to take a deep breath and realize that not much really changes quickly, despite the acceleration of social media and the desperation of the legacy media locked into the 24-hour news cycle.

(Side note: interesting discussion on the origins of “batshit crazy” at Stack Exchange)

D-K Thoughts

Misfires and Light Strikes has a post up on expertise and the Dunning-Kruger Effect.  Some folks argue about the accuracy of the chart that’s at the top of Kevin’s page; that’s not what I’m rambling about today.  The chart’s useful for illustrating my point, regardless of the accuracy/ sourcing of the original chart.  Here’s a screenshot and my comment:


The chart’s been making the rounds on the internet lately, it’s mostly being used to call folks who don’t agree with you stupid.  The election’s turned the volume up to 11 re: its use since November.  Not terribly productive IMO, but it is what it is.  However, I’m using it now as an illustration of Impostor Syndrome.  I’ve seen 70% kicked around as the number of people who’ve experienced Impostor Syndrome.

As Admiral Ackbar said, “It’s a trap!”  This stuff’s truly dangerous, it can send you down an unrecoverable slide to rock bottom.  Don’t let it get you; if you’ve always felt like a complete fraud who just hasn’t been caught yet it’ll eventually bite you in the ass.   After I separated from my previous career I let myself fall into a frighteningly deep pit of despair.  I know I was been damn good at business functions, but I’d convinced myself that since I was a total failure at that job, I must not be capable of anything better than carrying stuff and following simple orders.

I’m coming out of that particular funk thanks to time, reading Scott Adams’ How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, and starting to read Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life.  Scott got me thinking about failing upward and building and recognizing your specific talent stack.  Mark’s third chapter pointed out that you can slip into an entitlement mentality by convincing yourself “I suck and the of you are all awesome, so I deserve special treatment.”  I’d always thought of an entitlement mentality as referring specifically and only to people who think their shit doesn’t stink and they deserve the best of the best without doing any work to get there.  The flip side (thinking your special and deserve the best of the best due to your suffering) is just as bad.

Everyone struggles and has 4:00am near-or-actual panic attacks from time to time when things go badly.  The trick’s to cowboy up and realize that you’re not a special snowflake.  You just have to overcome it, stop the movie in your head (another of Scott’s concepts) from going bad, and move the hell on.

(h/t to Robb Allen @ Sharp as a Marble)

Medical Brilliance

I just ran across a fascinating new post about Manu Prakash, a bioengineering professor from Stanford who’s come up with a hand-powered centrifuge that costs $0.20.  It’s based on a whirligig (the children’s toy) and was designed for use in field hospitals that don’t have reliable electricity for testing for malaria.  It’s been field-tested in Madagascar and seems to work perfectly!  He’s also the guy who came up with a $1 microscope made of paper.  I’d give a lot to be able to come up with those kinds of insights while helping people and saving lives.

Something New Everyday

Huh – didn’t realize that I’ve been mentally spelling “just deserts” incorrectly my whole life.  I’d always thought it was “desserts” with the second “s”.   I can’t recall ever writing that particular phrase, but I’d always assumed that since it’s pronounced the same as the after-meal treat that was how it was spelled as well.  Completely random trivia, but interesting for a second (h/t to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air).

On the Fence

Hrachya at The Firearm Blog has a post up about a new racking gizmo: the Chambermax TA-1.  I’m not usually a big proponent of adding aftermarket doodads to a carry pistol, but I can see a limited application for this one.  Here’s their promotional vid.

The conventional wisdom’s that third-party add-ons are a possible failure point and should be avoided.  Paraphrasing my shooting coach, “Don’t use gear to fix a training problem.”  In this case, the concept seems fairly solid for either: 1) shooters who have trouble running the slide on a stock Glock or 2) lefties like me.

The standard answer for shooters who have trouble running the slide (usually from hand/ arm strength issues or injury) is to keep the firing side elbow bent at a 90-degree angle while pushing forward with the firing side hand and using the support hand to grip the slide.  Punching forward using the firing side hand from that bent position definitely works better than using the support hand to rip the slide back with the gun extended forward.  However, I’ve run into students who still struggle with running the slide or can’t do it at all.

For lefties, we have a different issue.  I walked away from Front Sight’s Instructor Development class on the first day because I just couldn’t comfortably teach their left-handed technique for running the slide.  To me, the “clamp” grip they use to run the slide is fine for righties on a larger pistol.  As a lefty, I feel that grip’s a dangerously bad idea.  Here’s the deal: for a lefty, the “clamp” grip (all four fingers together clamping the side of the slide against the meat of the palm) is possible for a full-size pistol like a G17.  For smaller guns, that puts the meat of the palm on the edge of, or covering, the ejection port.  That’s some bad ju-ju there.  Turning a Type 1 malfunction into a Type 3 by fouling the ejection port is bad stuff in training and I’ve had it happen.  In the real word, I’m not thinking that you’ll be able to say, “Hey Mr. Mugger with a knife, hold on while I fix this.”  I either use a modified “clamp” grip with the support hand fingers together on one side of the slide and the support hand thumb on the other side or I just slingshot the slide.

I’ve got no experience with the TA-1, so I can’t say for sure if it’s a good idea or not.  The voiceover on the vid says that using the TA-1 doesn’t cause any extra printing for a concealed carry piece, but I’d have to see and try that to be convinced.  I don’t see how the extra width at the back of the slide wouldn’t stick out, but I don’t know anyone who has a TA-1, so I can’t make an informed judgement.

A Fallen Childhood Landmark

Some of my fondest memories are from the trips that we used to take during the summer when I was a kid.  My dad was usually able to schedule things so he didn’t have any jobs booked during a multi-week stretch during summer vacations.  He’d load up my mom, my brother, and me into the Winnebago and we’d take off for a road trip.  We traveled all over the country in that motor-home, and had some fantastic times.

I distinctly remember going through Big Trees State Park and visiting the drive-thru tree.  Unfortunately, the tree fell during the storms yesterday.  I think that trip was the one where we visited Yosemite and had deer wandering through our campsite.  Not a big deal to folks who are used to deer, but for a kid who grew up in an L.A. suburb it was really impressive.

My mom would usually have to call me up front to look out the windows because I’d have my nose buried in a book, but the scenery I remember from those trips will always stick with me.