Sunday, September 15, 2019

September 15, 2019 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

      Saudi Arabia raced Sunday to restore crude production knocked out by a weekend attack, but the blow at the heart of the kingdom’s oil industry threatens to boost prices and raise concerns about the security of supplies in the region.
          Analysts said they were looking ahead to the opening of futures-market trading Sunday evening to see how much oil prices would react, but that it was hard to assess without more details about the longer-term disruption to Saudi production.
            “The oil price could move up $5 to $10 a barrel if it turns out the damage is extensive,” said Andy Lipow, president of Houston-based consulting firm Lipow Oil Associates.
              Saudi officials said they could return to normal levels of oil production by Monday, after an attack Saturday disabled a key processing plant and knocked out about five million barrels of production—about half of the country’s output and 5% of global supply.
                Western capitals said they were ready to release emergency stocks if necessary, and Saudi officials discussed shipping their own extra inventory to meet short-term supply needs, according to people familiar with the matter.
                  The International Energy Agency, a Paris-based group representing top energy-consuming nations that coordinates such releases, said it was in contact with Saudi authorities and major producer and consumer nations.
            • "Canned Meat"--Blue Collar Prepping. A look at storing corn beef hash as part of your food storage. One of the advantages is the high fat content, since fats are one of the hardest types of food to store.
            • Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink.... Some articles on water storage and purification:
            • "A Million Gallons of Water"--Marcus Wynne. The author relates a personal anecdote about why you can't trust someone else's assurance on whether water is clean. He goes on:
                   In considering your personal and community resilience in the face of a natural disaster, power outage or extended regional crisis, have you planned for water security? Have you considered the source(s) of the water you drink and utilize each day? If for some reason your municipality could no longer supply water at the turn of the tap or could not assure the purity of that water, what would you do? You can only go maybe three days tops without water, and here in America, we tend to take the massive use of potable water in toilets, irrigation, bathing and so on for granted.
                   Here are some points to consider if you were to examine your water security:
                ⁃Where is your closest source of open fresh water? It is a pond, river, stream, lake, reservoir, containment facility of some kind? Do you have a well or spring on your property or nearby?
                  ⁃How far away is it? If you could get there, would you have access to the water?
                    ⁃If you did have access to the water, how would you transport sufficient quantities back to your home or shelter? You need a minimum of one to two gallons of clean water a day, per person, for drinking purposes. That doesn’t include any used for food preparation, washing, irrigation, bathing or other purposes. A gallon of water weighs around 8.3 pounds. Do you have containers sturdy enough to carry enough water out of your source and back to where you needed to take it? A five gallon bucket of water weighs about 41.5 pounds — can you carry that much weight for any distance? Like to your car, a wagon, or up a hill?
                      ⁃Do you have the knowledge and equipment to determine if your water is safe to drink? To determine whether the water is free of bacteria, protozoa, dangerous chemical run off? Is viral infestation an issue and would you know?
                        ⁃Do you know how to purify water? Could you make a fire (and have a container) to boil water, or iodine or chlorine bleach or other chemical purifiers to kill micro-organisms, or a mechanical filter to take the nasty stuff out? Do you have the knowledge to do so and/or the reference materials and a way to read them that will work in the absence of electrical power so you can find out how to do so?
                          ⁃Do you have a way to store purified water and keep it separate from untreated water? Sanitation methods to support and maintain the cleanliness of your water?
                            Wynne continues by offering tips on how to assess and develop your own water resilience plan, and discusses the equipment that he uses, as well as including links to other resources, so be sure to read the whole thing. One important point is that if you are worried about viral contamination, you can't rely on just the filter, but will also need water purification tablets (iodine). 
                            • "Survival & Backpacking Water Filter Tests"--Wideners. This lengthy article discusses possible contaminants, how water is tested, how filters work, filters versus purifiers, and then goes into the tests. This is a long read, and might be something to print up.
                            • "How (and Why) to Ditch Hydration Bladders"--Jerking the Trigger. The author was a big fan of hydration bladders, but now he is not. Some of the reasons is that it is difficult to clean and maintain bladders, they are more easily damaged, and its so easy to take sips that its easy to too quickly use up your water supply. I'm on the fence. I don't like the cleaning part either, and, in hot weather, I don't like having to wear a hydration pack on my back. Thus, I've moved away from hydration packs for short hikes or bicycling. However, in cooler weather, it's fine, and it seems to work well when hunting to wear a large hydration pack (e.g., a 3 liter) and a fanny pack for other items.
                                    Primary findings of these analyses demonstrate that in The Hague, Birmingham, and Brisbane, the likelihood that an area will be selected for burglary is consistently positively influenced by (i) proximity to an offender’s home, (ii) the proportion of easily accessible targets, and (iii) the number of targets in an area. Additional analyses demonstrate that in all study regions, the influence of proximity of target areas to an offender’s home is greater for juvenile offenders under the legal driving age than adults. This difference is statistically significant in both Birmingham and Brisbane.
                                       These findings support both opportunity-based accounts of offending, those that portray offenders as optimal foragers, and the principle of least effort; such that offenders are consistently attracted to those areas that can be reached quickly and easily, and in which there are an abundance of viable targets. Furthermore, results from two of the three regions studied are compatible with hypotheses that assert the importance of access to vehicles in shaping patterns of offender mobility.
                                        Subsequent analyses do, however, demonstrate that the magnitude of impact for two of these three consistently attractive choice criteria varies significantly across environments. Considering these findings, differences in the magnitude of impact that target proximity has on location choices of offenders are of particular interest because it may suggest that the commonly observed distance decay curve is at least in part reflective of the number of potential targets available to offenders within a given distance. To illustrate, in the study regions where the spatial density of targets was relatively high—The Hague (3,652 households per km2) and Birmingham (1,513 households per km2) offenders displayed comparatively limited search spaces; conversely, in Brisbane where target density was relatively low (299 households per km2), offenders were less influenced by the proximity of target areas—perhaps by necessity. This observation is consistent with the notion of intervening opportunities (Stouffer 1940), which posits the likelihood of travel to a given location (in the context of migration) is determined by the opportunities at competing destinations, and less so by the distance involved.
                                  • A reader sent this to me: "Robbery victims targeted for cellphones, beaten in downtown Minneapolis"--KSTP (ABC 5). You may have already seen the video linked in the article, but it shows a youngish white man sitting peaceably and using his smart phone, when he is violently attacked by a feral group of black men. They punch him, kick him, chase him, jump on him, ride a bike over him, and lots more. It is also a perfect advertisement for using what the left terms "high capacity" magazines. The accompanying article states:
                                           The Minneapolis Police Department has arrested more than a dozen suspects involved in crime ring that focused on robbing cellphones from intoxicated people and then beating the victims.
                                            According to a report provided by Minneapolis police spokesperson John Elder, a three-day sweep conducted two weeks ago ended with police arresting 16 people between the ages of 13 and 25. The suspects are seen on surveillance video punching, kicking and riding over one man with a bike.
                                             The robberies occurred near Hennepin, First and Second avenues, between Third and Sixth streets, and happened between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m.
                                                The suspects were mostly boys and men, with a female sometimes present. They would "finesse" the victim — looking for an easy target, such as someone who was intoxicated and alone, looking at their cellphone at times. Elder said half of the assailants are juveniles.
                                                  One of the incidents happened on Aug. 3 near Target Field. According to the criminal complaint, the footage shows approxiamtely 12 males attempting to take a cellphone from a male victim, viciously beating him. The suspects are seen ripping the vicitim's shoes and pants off and then going through his pockets. The victim is noted to be punched and kicked in the head several times throughout the altercation. At one point, the complaint states the victim is thrown to the ground — left motionless — then repeatedly jumped on, hit with planting pots and ridden over with a bicycle. Once police arrive, the victim and all suspects involved are gone.
                                                  Then on Sept. 6, after further investigation, officers recognized one of the assailants from the video and arrested him. He is identified as Boris Likuwa Lusumbo, 20. The video shows Lusumbo running toward the victim along with other attackers after the victim was struck by another attacker. He was seen picking up something off the ground that the victim dropped and walked away with it. Lusumbo admitted it was him in the video to police. He has been charged with first-degree aggravated robbery and faces up to 20 years in prison for the crime, if convicted.
                                                While the police are characterizing this as a robbery assault, it is much more. It is more than an educational beat down. This is just violence for the pure pleasure of it. If you have ever lived on farm, you probably are aware of how predators will sometimes get into a flock of sheep or a chicken coop and just simply kill a bunch of the animals for no reason other than the sure pleasure of the killing. This is the same type of thing.
                                                         Also note what the story does not say: that half of the attackers are adults; and, given the name of one of the perpetrators, that at least some of the attackers were refugees.
                                                           So, what are some lessons to learn from this. First is a issue of situational awareness. The white guy was sitting playing on his phone and probably not aware or dismissive of the sudden aggregation of black thugs around him. One has to wonder if maybe he became aware, but didn't want to be "racist" by leaving. Second, is to not be in stupid places doing stupid things. Playing with a smart phone in a high crime area seems to fit into both of these. Third, develop means of intelligence. For instance, if there were news reports of these types of crimes in that area, and the victim had paid attention to these reports, he maybe would have chosen a different place and/or time to hang out.
                                                    • "Anatomy of an Assault: The 5-Step Attack Cycle"--Shooting Illustrated. The author notes that attacks will often follow a script. The script in this case involves a predatory attack (e.g., robbery) with the following outline: (1) look, (2) choose, (3) stalk, (4) close, and (5) strike. The article further explains:
                                                            All predators must first seek their prey. They can’t do anything to you if they first don’t go looking for you. In the process of looking, they at one time or another must choose their victim. These two steps—look and choose—must occur in that order. You can’t choose someone if you don’t first go looking for them.
                                                              Next, after look and choose, is to stalk their prey. They may observe you for a while to figure out if you’re really worth the effort; maybe you are, maybe you’re not. Once they make their decision, they then need to figure out how to get close to you. Again, these are mandatory steps—look, choose and stalk—that must be executed in order. If he decides you’re not worth the effort, he’s not going to move to the next step in his plan: close.
                                                                After looking, choosing and stalking, the bad guy is then tasked with closing the gap from his physical position to your physical position. Lastly, and only after these first four steps, will he be in the right place and at the right time to execute his attack.
                                                                  In the intelligence community, we refer to this as the Attack Cycle: Look, Choose, Stalk, Close, Strike. It is this cycle, the execution of these five steps in order—which any predator must follow to present you with a physical threat—that is the Bad Guy’s Blueprint. He must follow all five steps. He cannot omit even one, and he cannot execute them out of order. They must be followed one at a time and in this exact sequence, or he fails.
                                                              The author discusses different ways to disrupt the cycle, but the easiest is at the "look step" by "not put[ting] yourself there in the first place. There’s no need for you to drive to a 24-hour convenience store in the seediest part of town at 2 a.m., leave your engine running, windows down, door open and run in with cash falling out of your hands or pockets." In short: 
                                                                Three easy ways to break the cycle: 
                                                                  1: Don’t put yourself in harm’s way (no need to go to the ATM at 2 a.m. in a bad neighborhood)
                                                                    2: Don’t be an attractive victim (cash hanging out of your purse, belligerent or drunk in public, etc.)
                                                                      3: Make the bad guy ask the question “Are there softer targets around?” and answer “Yes.”
                                                                      • "What Criminologists Don’t Say, and Why"--City Journal. The article is about how the criminology field, at the university level, is so dominated by the left, that it cannot consider anything but how society has created the criminal, who is the "real victim" in their view. The actual victim and safety of society doesn't matter. From the lede:
                                                                      The history of academic criminology is one of grand pronouncements that don’t often prove out in the real world. In the 1960s and 1970s, for example, criminologists demanded that public policy attack the “root causes” of crime, such as poverty and racism. Without solving these problems, they argued, we could not expect to fight crime effectively. On this thinking, billions of taxpayer dollars poured into ambitious social programs—yet crime went up, not down. In the 1970s and 1980s and into the 1990s, as crime rates continued to spike, criminologists proceeded to tell us that the police could do little to cut crime, and that locking up the felons, drug dealers, and gang leaders who committed much of the nation’s criminal violence wouldn’t work, either.
                                                                             To understand why many criminologists refuse to acknowledge criminal behavior as a potent predictor of life outcomes—including premature mortality, health disparities, arrest and incarceration, and even being shot by the police—one must understand that most liberal criminologists feel strangely protective about criminals. Criminologists who work collaboratively with the police have done important work in understanding how best to respond to crime and how to prevent it. Their research, which often includes complex spatial analyses of crime patterns and which targets specific, high-rate offenders for arrest and prosecution, has been rigorously evaluated and confirmed. Yet liberal-minded criminologists dismiss these scholars as “administrative criminologists”—meaning that they help the state impose unfair social and economic arrangements.
                                                                               Liberal criminologists avoid discussing the lifestyles that criminal offenders typically lead. Almost all serious offenders are men, and they usually come from families with long histories of criminal involvement, often spanning generations. They show temperamental differences early in life, begin offending in childhood or early adolescence, and rack up dozens of arrests. Their lives are chaotic and hedonistic, including the constant pursuit of drugs and sex. They produce many children with different women and rarely have the means—or inclination—to support them. Active offenders exploit others for their own benefit, including women, children, churches, and the social-welfare system. They commit many crimes before getting arrested, and they move in and out of the criminal-justice system for decades. Many also report enjoying acts of violence; the social-media accounts of martyred gangsters shot by police often illuminate this subculture. Perhaps not surprisingly, they see the police as another competing tribe that has to be manipulated, controlled, and sometimes confronted. In sum, the lives of persistent criminal offenders are often shockingly pathological. The nature of this world is hard to grasp without witnessing it firsthand.
                                                                                Unfortunately, criminology has had a long history of suppressing evidence for expressly political reasons. For most of its history, the discipline has overtly censored research, for instance, on biological, genetic, and neurological factors that scientists have shown to be associated with antisocial traits and behavioral problems. Even today, despite lots of hard scientific evidence—such as that 50 percent of the variance in antisocial behavior is attributable to genetic factors, or neuroimaging studies that show systemic structural and functional brain differences between offenders and non-offenders—those who pursue this line of research get branded as racists or even eugenicists. We have personally experienced hostile receptions when presenting our work in these areas at professional conferences and have been excoriated in the anonymous-review process when attempting to publish our papers. The disciplinary animus toward the study of biological factors extends to other individual factors, including intelligence and personality, and to a range of traits, such as callous and unemotional behavior, psychopathy, and self-control.
                                                                                   When it comes to disciplinary biases, however, none is so strong or as corrupting as liberal views on race. Disproportionate black involvement in violent crime represents the elephant in the room amid the current controversy over policing in the United States. Homicide numbers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Supplementary Homicide Reports, 1976–2005 indicate that young African-American males account for homicide victims at levels that are ten to 20 times greater than their proportion of the population and account for homicide offenders at levels that are 15 to 35 times greater than their proportion of the population. The black-white gap in armed-robbery offending has historically ranged between ten to one and 15 to one. Even in forms of crime that are allegedly the province of white males—such as serial murder—blacks are overrepresented as offenders by a factor of two. For all racial groups, violent crime is strongly intraracial, and the intraracial dynamic is most pronounced among blacks. In more than 90 percent of cases, the killer of a black victim is a black perpetrator.
                                                                                     Criminologists talk about the race-crime connection behind closed doors, and often in highly guarded language; the topic is a lightning rod for accusations of racial hostility that can be professionally damaging. They avoid discussing even explicitly racist examples of black-on-white crime such as flash-mob assaults, “polar bear hunting,” and the “knockout game.” What criminologists won’t say in public is that black offending differences have existed since data have been collected and that these differences are behind the racial disparities in arrest, prosecution, and incarceration. They also won’t tell you that, despite claims of widespread racial discrimination in the justice system, legal variables—namely, the number of prior arrests and the seriousness of the crime for which the offender has currently been arrested—account for all but a small fraction of the variance in system outcomes. Nor will they tell you the truth about politically correct remedies, such as diversifying police forces, hiring black police chiefs, or training officers in the alleged effects of implicit bias: that these measures won’t reduce racial disparities in crime.
                                                                                On Monday. September 16, Joel Gilbert will preview his new documentary, “The Trayvon Hoax,” in the 500-seat Ballroom of the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The screening begins at 1 p.m. Admission is free, and Gilbert is encouraging all interested parties to come see for themselves what could be a game-changer in the way the media report racially-charged news. Gilbert’s findings are that significant.
                                                                                  ... If you carry a gun for defense of yourself or others, you need to know what you can do with it, on demand. You may discover that making compromises in your choice of a carry gun compromises your ability to respond to life-threatening events. Dedicated practice and having a well-rounded skill set can somewhat mitigate that compromise, but often the reality is that smaller guns are harder to shoot well. My reality is that I am measurably slower and less accurate with the J-frame revolver. Sometimes that’s a choice I make. To paraphrase some of Mike Pannone’s wisdom, know what your are doing, know why you are doing it, know how to do it well, identify the potential failure points, and train to mitigate those failure points. That’s what it’s all about.
                                                                                  • "Now New Zealand Wants to Establish a Registry of all Civilian-Owned Guns"--The Truth About Guns. New Zealand's "buy-back" of evil assault weapons is not going to well, and part of the reason is that the government does not know who owns the weapons. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (who left her church because she thought gay rights were more important than God's commandments) has a solution: a mandatory registration of firearms. Which will probably be about as successful as the buy back. But watch out for those that will narc you out.
                                                                                          There is actually a silver lining to these various prohibitions. If you have studied successful underground movements and revolutions, you will note that they are heavily dependent on people that are not only fine with breaking the law, but have experience and established networks for that express purpose. Gun prohibitions will actually make it easier for gun owners to resist down the road because they will already have the willingness to break the law ... and perhaps even have developed grey markets or black markets.
                                                                                      This ammunition has a metal base that is integrated with the polymer body. All the True Velocity cartridges that were shown before were replicating the external dimensions of their brass counterparts. However, the NGSW submission has a different design of shoulder and neck areas. As you can see, instead of a traditional shoulder and neck, the case has a rather small step from the case body to the bullet. I assume that step is designed to provide a headspacing point. I think the bullet should be supported inside the case. This design should be more reliable due to the elimination of a conventional case shoulder and neck which arguably has been the weakest point of polymer cased cartridges.

                                                                                      "This Is Why Your Backpack Hurts"--Dan Becker (13 min.)
                                                                                      Some tips on adjusting your backpack, and packing it correctly.

                                                                                             ... Venezuela’s increasingly tight alliance with the drug-running guerrilla armies waging war on the Colombian state, which has rattled Bogota so hard it’s now seeking a hemispheric response.
                                                                                               On Wednesday, Colombia, the United States and nine other countries invoked the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR), signed in Rio de Janeiro in 1947, which commits the countries of the Western Hemisphere to respond to military aggression against any one of them. The move came after Nicol├ís Maduro said he would deploy 150,000 troops to the border with Colombia. Invoking TIAR is an extreme measure in the region and an unmistakable sign that armed conflict is now a real possibility.
                                                                                                 House Democrats this week advanced a new measure to encourage states to pass “red flag” laws, known as extreme risk protection orders, that authorize removing guns and ammunition from dangerous individuals.
                                                                                                   Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee amended the measure during a Wednesday mark-up to authorize the federal government to issue extreme risk protection orders in some instances, but they rejected an amendment that would have red-flagged anyone who law enforcement lists as a gang member.
                                                                                                The U.S. Federal Air Marshal Service program has reached what critics describe as an acute crisis point marked by a recent rash of suicides, psychotic episodes, a murder-suicide, a bomb plot, devastating health problems and a pervasive sense of dread and depression among the ranks of the most elite cadre of marksmen and women in the nation, according to a month-long ABC News investigation into the secretive federal agency.
                                                                                                On top of this, the constant flying and stress has resulted in increased deaths due to blood clots, strokes and heart attacks. According to the article, "air marshals fly about twice as many international trips as U.S. airline pilots each month, and that unlike pilots, there's no maximum on the shift hours an air marshal can fly on any given day."
                                                                                                      Back in the spring I wrote about coming across the name Arnon Milchan by chance on a movie credit while flying from Venice to Washington. Milchan, some might recall, is a Hollywood billionaire movie producer born in Israel, well known for such films as Pretty Woman and Bohemian Rhapsody. He is less well known for his role in arranging for the procurement and illegal transfer of U.S. technology that enabled the Jewish state to develop its own nuclear arsenal. Far from being ashamed of his betrayal of the adopted country that helped make him rich and famous, in 2011 he authorized and contributed to a ghost-written biography, which he boastfully entitled “Confidential: The Life of Secret Agent Turned Hollywood Tycoon.” Parts of the book were in the first person with Milchan telling his story in his own words.
                                                                                                        I had been aware of Milchan’s crimes for a number of years, just as I had also speculated on how a leading Israeli spy working actively and successfully against vital U.S. anti-nuclear proliferation interests had managed to continue to maintain a home and business in Los Angeles while also appearing regularly at the Oscar presentation ceremonies. I asked “Why is this scumbag still making movies in Hollywood? Why isn’t he in jail?” before concluding that the federal government clearly regards spying for Israel as a victimless crime, rarely arresting anyone and almost never prosecuting any of the numerous easily identifiable Israeli intelligence agents roaming the country.
                                                                                                        But although the top [Chicago] Syndicate leadership remained almost entirely Italian—with a Welsh immigrant being the sole exception—roughly half of all the key figures found in Russo’s detailed narrative turned out to be Jewish. From the 1930s onward, organized crime in Chicago was essentially an Italian-Jewish partnership, with the Italians concentrating on the violent muscle side of the business and the Jews more likely to be involved in money-laundering, political corruption, and legal manipulation.
                                                                                                  * * *
                                                                                                       ... I was surprised to realize that a milieu I’d always regarded as overwhelmingly Italian was actually mostly Jewish, suggesting that I had accepted the misleading headlines of a historical narrative without focusing upon its actual contents. Indeed, Brooklyn’s notorious Murder Inc. was originally established by Lansky and Siegel and seems to have been overwhelmingly Jewish, while living up to its name by its many hundreds of killings, with one of its leading members supposedly having a personal body-count of over 100 or even far higher. But since I’d never heard of a single Jewish gangster in Chicago, I was still very surprised that such individuals comprised nearly half of the leading figures in Russo’s comprehensive history.
                                                                                                        Among the training devices expected to be included at the new training site are "hyper-realistic props/design" that simulate "residential houses, apartments, hotels, government facilities and commercial buildings," along with other training configurations.
                                                                                                         The "devices" are defined as "scalable, portable, modular" training structures that would be "made from portable shipping containers or other appropriate modular materials that can be relocated to alternate sites as needed."
                                                                                                            "Hyper-realistic is defined as 'such a high degree of fidelity in the replication of battlefield conditions in the training environment that participants so willingly suspend disbelief that they become totally immersed and eventually stress inoculated'," ICE says.
                                                                                                              Hyper-realism, the agency states, is "a critical component to this acquisition as the details provide essential information that must be acknowledged, processed and acted upon to minimize risk to our Special Agents, Deportation Officers and SRT operators during high-risk search and arrest warrants, fugitive operations, undercover operations, hostage rescue, gang operations, etc."
                                                                                                                "For example, details like the number of dishes left on the table, toys in the yard, lighting, furniture, etc. all provide clues that allow our agents and officers to infer vital information that directly affects their safety and the potential resolution or outcome in the scenario," it continues. "Learning to process this information quickly to identify whether there are children present, or how many people are currently in the structure is a necessary skill developed in training."
                                                                                                          Volunteers who were given a cocktail of drugs for a year actually “aged backwards”, losing an average of 2.5 years from their biological ages, according to the new study. The research showed that the marks on their genomes that represent their “epigenetic clock”, as well as their immune systems, actually improved despite the passing of time.
                                                                                                          The scientists expected the biological clock to slow down, but were surprise that it was reversed. Participants were given a growth hormone and two diabetes medications. However, before getting too excited, this was a preliminary study with only 9 participants and no control group.
                                                                                                                Where once large coal-fired power stations brought energy to millions, the drive to combat climate change means they are now being replaced by mixed sources of power including wind, solar and gas.
                                                                                                                 This has resulted in many more connections to the electricity grid, and a rise in the number of electrical switches and circuit breakers that are needed to prevent serious accidents.
                                                                                                                   Collectively, these safety devices are called switchgear. The vast majority use SF6 gas to quench arcs and stop short circuits.
                                                                                                                Ironically, however, sulphur hexafluoride, or SF6, is 23,500 times more warming than carbon dioxide (CO2), according to the article. Because of the increased leaks from electrical equipment in the UK and EU, alone, it was the equivalent of putting an extra 1.3 million cars on the roads. Good job, climate warriors!
                                                                                                                        And the boomers—at least those in the more affluent classes—are about to get yet another windfall. As the members of World War II’s “Greatest Generation” die off, they are set to pass on between $8.4 trillion and $11.6 trillion to their Baby Boomer descendants, according to a study by MetLife.
                                                                                                                          In the coming decades this tsunami of inherited money will likely accelerate class divisions, as those in the current top decile (in terms of income) gather in more than a million in parental bequests, while those in the lower class will at best count their inheritances in the thousands. Among boomers who will receive an inheritance, the top 10 percent will receive more than every other decile combined.
                                                                                                                           This is just the beginning of the process. The well-born members of the millennial generation are set for an even greater inheritance, which will distort the economy even more. The Social Welfare Research Institute at Boston College estimated that a minimum of $41 trillion would pass between generations from 1998 to 2052. This huge transfer, the researchers believe, will usher in what they call “a golden age of philanthropy.” Even as most younger Americans struggle to obtain decent jobs and secure property, the Welfare Institute concluded, America is moving toward an “inheritance-based economy” where access to the last generation’s wealth could prove a critical determinant of both influence and power.
                                                                                                                        The article continues:
                                                                                                                                Historically, education was one way the middle and working classes, and even the poor, ascended the class ladder. But we may be seeing the end of this trend, given what some see as the “death of meritocracy,” particularly if you also count the enormous advantage in education that comes from going to an elite private school or a well-placed suburban public school. Over the past two generations, notes former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, the gap in educational achievement between the children of the rich and the children of the poor has doubled. While the college enrollment rate for children from the lowest quarter of income distribution has increased from 6 percent to 8 percent, the enrollment rate for children from the highest quarter has risen from 40 percent to 73 percent.
                                                                                                                                  So we have a graduate of Choate or Beverly Hills High who attends Wharton, and goes to work for, say, Goldman Sachs. And yes, this individual may work hard. But whether he or she works hard or not, the chances of success are much greater than those of an equally talented, equally diligent person who has to pay off college loans and whose choices about where to live—outside of places like New York or San Francisco—are driven as much by cost as they are by opportunity.
                                                                                                                              Read the whole thing.
                                                                                                                                      Today’s neo-feudalism recalls the social order that existed before the democratic revolutions of the 17th and 18th Century, with our two ascendant estates filling the roles of the former dominant classes. The First Estate, once the province of the Catholic Church, has morphed into what Samuel Coleridge in the 1830s called "the Clerisy," a group that extends beyond organized religion to the universities, media, cultural tastemakers and upper echelons of the bureaucracy. The role of the Second Estate is now being played by a rising Oligarchy, notably in tech but also Wall Street, that is consolidating control of most of the economy."
                                                                                                                                        Together these two classes have waxed  while the Third Estate has declined. This essentially reversed the enormous gains made by the middle and even the working class over the past 50 years. The top 1% in America captured just 4.9 percent of total U.S. income growth in 1945-1973, but since then the country’s richest classes has gobbled up an astonishing 58.7% of all new wealth in the U.S., and 41.8 percent of total income growth during 2009-2015 alone.
                                                                                                                                         ... Republican share of the vote is steadily shrinking despite the lack of spending by Democrats and massive spending by Republicans.
                                                                                                                                            As noted, the reason for this is simple: demographics. For decades, the Republicans have told their voters that they were going to clamp down on illegal immigration and address the legal immigration policies that have facilitated this takeover. They have made excuse after excuse for not fulfilling those promises and now that lack of action is turning Texas blue one district at a time.
                                                                                                                                             The Americans retired their F-14s in 2006, but around 40 of Iran’s Tomcats remain active. Their main role is defending Iran’s nuclear sites. It’s a mission that has brought the interceptors in close contact with some very mysterious aircraft, according to a bizarre and fascinating 2013 story in Combat Aircraft magazine by reporter Babak Taghvaee.
                                                                                                                                                The Iranians believed the objects were spy drones belonging to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, sent to sniff out Tehran’s suspected atomic weapons program. But they attribute to these alleged unmanned aerial vehicles flight characteristics and capabilities far beyond what any known drone can achieve.
                                                                                                                                                 And in 2012 one of the alleged flying robots reportedly also shot down an F-14 attempting to intercept it. Or at least some Iranians seem genuinely to believe so.
                                                                                                                                            * * * 
                                                                                                                                                    To protect the nuke facilities, in 2004 Iran deployed a task force composed of eight F-4E fighters and eight F-14s plus a former 707 airliner and a C-130 cargo plane outfitted with sensors and radios for command and control. The task force encountered what it believed were CIA drones with “astonishing flight characteristics.”
                                                                                                                                                      The UAVs could jam radars and disrupt interceptors’ navigation systems. They flew “outside the atmosphere” at speeds of up to Mach 10. They could hover. Flying at night, they emitted a telltale blue light that led to their nickname: “luminous objects.”
                                                                                                                                                         “In several cases … F-14s faced them but were unable to operate their armament systems properly,” Taghvaee wrote. One Tomcat taking off to intercept a luminous object on Jan. 26, 2012 mysteriously exploded, killing both crewmen. Taghvaee implies the alleged UAV was somehow responsible, as the F-14 in question was “one of the fittest” of the 40 or so Tomcats then in service.
                                                                                                                                                    I guess Trump wasn't kidding when he said that UFO's weren't alien craft.

                                                                                                                                                    Sale on HorrorBabble Audiobooks

                                                                                                                                                    In the past, I've linked to some HorrorBabble audiobooks on YouTube. The narrator reads horror and ghost stories on which the copyright has expired, so his selections are mainly tales that would have been published in Weird Tales or similar pulp magazines, including a tremendous amount of H.P. Lovecraft's works. 

                                                                                                                                                        This week, there is a sale on HorrorBabble audiobooks at Groupees. Essentially, Groupees allows you to spend various amounts (in this case, ranging from $2 to $6) to unlock books which you can download. In this case, for $2, you get 7 audiobooks: A Christmas Carol; a collection of Edger Allen Poe poems; a collection of horror stories related to the sea; a collection of vampire stories; a collection of "pulp classics"; a collection of 7 Lovecraft short stories; and The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson. For $4, you get all of the above, plus an additional 5 audio books. And, for $6, you get an additional 5 books, including the complete collection of Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos stories ("The Call of Cthulhu", "At The Mountains of Madness", etc., etc.). Some of the proceeds go to a charity, so you can also donate additional amounts; and it appears that if you donate $25 or more, you will get bonuses of additional books of your choice.

                                                                                                                                                         In any event, you get a lot for the money. While I've been able to listen to some of these stories via YouTube during commutes, the MP3 versions obviously don't rely on having an internet connection and should be good for future trips where I have to fly or travel through areas without cellular coverage.

                                                                                                                                                    Friday, September 13, 2019

                                                                                                                                                    Not A Blunder

                                                                                                                                                    The Daily Mail today had a collection of "blunders" visible at schools, including some which were construction related. However, ignorance must be bliss, because one of the so-called "blunders" was not a mistake at all:

                                                                                                                                                    The caption for this photograph reads: "To cartwheel your way up there? This has to be one of the more extreme entrances to a school gym, with a door featuring half way up the wall in a undisclosed location." However, I've seen these before, and typically these are doors to a upper floor mechanical room to allow HVAC or other equipment to be easily delivered or removed. A forklift is used to lift the equipment up to the doors.

                                                                                                                                                    How Criminals Work: Distracting Questions

                                                                                                                                                    There are various ways that criminals may try to catch someone off guard, luring them in to where the criminal strikes, or getting victims to lower their guard. Many times criminals will attempt to take advantage of your inherent helpfulness or courtesy. For instance, I've personally had an instance where a criminal tried to lure me in by lying on the ground in a small parking lot pretending to be injured or ill (I know for certain it was a criminal ploy, because after I passed by, I looked back and saw a man who had been concealed in shadows approach the person on the ground, a woman, and the woman sit up).

                                                                                                                                                         But it need not be anything as elaborate as this. Greg Ellifritz cautions about some more common methods to catch a person off guard in his article, "Distracting Question." I recommend that you read his whole article, but the gist is that one of the tactics commonly used by criminals to distract you or let them get close to you, is to ask a question, such as asking what time it is (thus getting you to divert your attention to a watch or cell phone to get the time), asking for directions (where you might turn to point out directions), or, probably not as common today, asking for a light (to light a cigarette).

                                                                                                                                                        It is unfortunate, but often times, to avoid a criminal attack or scam, you just need to rude. Don't offer to answer the question, don't open the door (or close the door as soon as you decide the conversation is over), don't take flyers or clipboards thrust toward you, don't shake hands with someone that comes up to you on the street, and so on.

                                                                                                                                                         Be wary, listen to your gut, especially if the person approaching you is someone that normally would not talk to someone like you. For instance, if your travel to large metropolitan areas such as New York City, you will probably notice that people of different ethnicity don't actually interact with one another unless necessary; whites tend to interact with other whites, blacks tend to stick to blacks, and so on. Thus, someone that crosses that line while out on the street, particularly if a young male or female, should make you extra cautious. I would extend the same caution to men approached by young women--don't be vain.

                                                                                                                                                        This does not mean that you have to be a jerk. My wife and I were passing through Las Vegas last year, having to stay overnight. Walking our dog in the evening, my wife decided to pop into a small store in a strip mall. I stood outside with the dog when I was approached by a black woman of indeterminate age that probably was a meth user from her emaciated appearance. But she complimented me on my dog and we had a nice discussion. The conversation drifted from different dog breeds to her personal woes. She had a good sob story, and I felt sorry enough for her that I gave her some money so she could get something to eat (although I knew that it would probably go to other things). But I also stood with my back to a concrete pillar and made sure that I kept a bit of distance between her and me (the dog helped in this respect as well), and would glance about to make sure there was no one else that I needed to worry about.

                                                                                                                                                    Did The 9/11 Hijackers Have Access to Information About Passengers?

                                                                                                                                                    Anonymous Conservative links to an article about Daniel Mark Lewin, a former Captain in the Israeli army’s elite commando unit, Sayeret Mat’kal, tech genius and millionaire, only 31 years old in 2001, and who also happened to be a passenger on Flight 11--one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center on 9/11. But, strangely, this man--probably the most likely to be able to thwart terrorists armed only with pepper spray and box cutters--was the first one killed when his throat was slashed by a terrorist sitting directly behind him according to a radio message from a flight attendant. Anonymous Conservative writes:
                                                                                                                                                    He was trained in airplane hijacking scenarios and airport security breaches, spoke conversational Arabic, and was an expert in hand to hand combat and improvised weapons. Of all the passengers, he was possibly the most likely to have been able to have thwarted the first plane’s hijacking. Strangely, there was a terrorist who had perfectly booked the seat behind him in his blind spot, and slit his throat immediately when the hijacking began, while he was probably distracted by Atta and his accomplice, who had booked the seats in front of him. Again, it can be coincidence, but it also makes me wonder if the hijackers had much more detailed intelligence on the passenger manifests and the seating charts, and just who those people on the manifest were and the potential threats they posed to the operation, as they prepared their attack. And you know where they would have gotten that from. 

                                                                                                                                                    China Blinks

                                                                                                                                                    As part of its tit-for-tat over tariffs, China had acted to limit the importation of American agricultural goods. Unfortunately, life has a way of smacking you up-side the head. In this case, it is the outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) (sort of a swine version of Ebola) "which has cut China’s pig herd by a third since mid-2018, has propelled Chinese pork prices to record levels and left the country in need of replacement supplies from overseas." Thus, in the face of skyrocketing pork prices, as Reuters reports, China has agreed to eliminate the tariff increases for pork products as well as a few other products, including soy beans.

                                                                                                                                                         ASF is not considered a threat to human health. According to one source I came across:
                                                                                                                                                    The pathogen has been spreading north-westwards since 2007 from Georgia through Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia. Cases of ASF have been registered in wild boar along with outbreaks in domestic pigs in the Baltic states since 2014. The virus has also been detected in Romania, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic. In September 2018, the pathogen was also found in wild boars in Belgium and thus for the first time in Western Europe.
                                                                                                                                                    ASF is also "sweeping through Asia, leading to the culling of millions of pigs in China and Vietnam, in what one expert calls the world’s biggest animal disease outbreak to date." More like hundreds of millions of animals being culled--200 million in China alone.

                                                                                                                                                    TGIF: Active Response Training's Weekend Knowledge Dump

                                                                                                                                                    Here is the link to this week's (September 13, 2019) edition. Among the articles on survival, self-defense, shooting, and first aid, he has some recommendations as to non-metallic composite knives for everyday carry, Stream Light's TL Racker lights for replacing the pump handle on a pump-action shotgun, what he carries for emergency water filtration, and what he considers to be one of the best gun belts out there: the Graith specialist belt.

                                                                                                                                                    Edging Toward Civil War II: Democrats Want Your Guns

                                                                                                                                                    The Washington Times reporting on Beto O'Rourke's comments at last night's debate:
                                                                                                                                                    “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” he said, on television, on the Democratic Party debate stage, for all to hear and see. “We’re not going to allow them to be used against fellow Americans anymore.”
                                                                                                                                                    Except by law enforcement and the military, that is. And the gangs. As Peter Grant has noted about socialist and communists coming to power:
                                                                                                                                                    When you see people and groups whose aims include some or most of the aims of the ideologies mentioned in the previous paragraph, you may be sure that the implementation of those aims will - I repeat, will - involve the same measures those ideologies and their adherents have used in the past, including violence, mass incarceration, torture, genocide, democide, and crimes against humanity. The number of examples from the 20th century is legion. To name just a few:
                                                                                                                                                          We've been increasingly hearing this message from Democrats, most likely to test the waters. But now it's been said on live TV, this will probably increasingly become the message from the Left. Once they have disarmed the populace, the next steps will lead inexorably to this:

                                                                                                                                                    Source: "What the Progressive Socialist Liberals have in store for Conservatives (part 6)"
                                                                                                                                                    The Left will turn on the "enemy of the people," which we now know are those that benefit from "white privilege", to-wit:
                                                                                                                                                    • White people.
                                                                                                                                                    • Anyone who is friends with white people.
                                                                                                                                                    • Climate change deniers.
                                                                                                                                                    • Traditionally-minded people.
                                                                                                                                                    • Gun owners.
                                                                                                                                                    • People from a predominantly “red” state.
                                                                                                                                                    • Religious people (with the exception of Muslims).
                                                                                                                                                    • Heterosexual people and traditional marriages.
                                                                                                                                                    • Anyone or anything associated with traditional America
                                                                                                                                                    Peter Grant recommends this series of articles on "What the Progressive Socialist Liberals have in store for Conservatives," (Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3) (Part 4) (Part 5) (Part 6).

                                                                                                                                                           And if you think law enforcement will refuse to carry out orders, think again. First, events will escalate over time, desensitizing law enforcement to what they are doing. Watch some old procedural police dramas, like Adam-12, that tried to accurately portray police procedure and policy, and compare that to what goes on today. Particularly the no-knock raid. From a 2015 Newsmax article:
                                                                                                                                                    1. Police are authorized to conduct more than 20,000 no-knock raids a year. "In theory, no-knock raids are supposed to be used in only the most dangerous situations … In reality, though, no-knock raids are a common tactic, even in less-than-dangerous circumstances," Vox reported.

                                                                                                                                                    2. Judges approve them far more often than not. A 2000 investigation by The Denver Post found local judges routinely issued no-knock warrants even when police didn't ask for them, and simply converted regular warrants into no-knock with a signature.

                                                                                                                                                    3. An ACLU study of more than 800 SWAT team deployments in 2011-2012 found 79 percent were to execute a search warrant, usually in a drug investigation, while 7 percent were to deal with hostage crises, barricades, or active shooters – the scenarios for which SWAT teams were originally invented.

                                                                                                                                                    4. The same ACLU study reported, "Of the cases we studied, in 36 percent of SWAT deployments for drug searches, and possibly in as many as 65 percent of such deployments, no contraband of any sort was found."

                                                                                                                                                    5. In 2003, then-NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly estimated that 10 percent of the more than 450 no-knock raids his officers carried out every month went to the wrong address. "That estimate came after a wrong-door raid resulted in the homeowner's death: when police broke into the home of 57-year-old Alberta Spruill and threw in a flash-bang grenade, the shock gave her a fatal heart attack," Vox reported.
                                                                                                                                                    What was the exceptional 30 or 40 years ago is relatively common now.

                                                                                                                                                         Another example, from the Bravo Delta Charlie blog, in which the author relates his participation in a no-knock raid about 20 years ago to confiscate firearms.
                                                                                                                                                           I was Number 1 on the stack, with the responsibility to ram the door immediately to clear the way for the rest of the team to enter and apprehend the suspect. To make a long story short(er), we knocked this guy’s door down, tackled and cuffed him, and took his guns…based on a single complaint from a single witness. No criminal history. No psychological evaluation. No judge. No warrant.

                                                                                                                                                          I don’t recall exactly how things were resolved post-incident, except for some generalities. I remember that the man ended up being released, perhaps after agreeing to a psychological evaluation. I honestly don’t remember, except that he got to go home in fairly short order. I don’t even think he was criminally charged with anything. The 14 guns we confiscated from him were eventually returned; I think it took about a week or so. Basically, it ended up being a big nothingburger.

                                                                                                                                                          What I do remember is that we heard no ranting coming from his apartment before we went in, and he was genuinely surprised when his door came down that night; I remember him standing in his apartment with his hands up saying, “What’s going on, fellas?” as our team sergeant tackled him.

                                                                                                                                                         But the overriding memory is of how easily our police department leaders…based on the uncorroborated statement of a single witness…made the decision to enter this man’s home without a warrant, to deprive him of his freedom, and to seize his property. If police conduct of this sort bothers you, then consider what will happen when police departments are given a virtual green light* with red flag laws.
                                                                                                                                                    Like the Sherlock Holmes story involving the dog that didn't bark in the night, what is significant here is that no-one, including the author and a higher ranking officer with a law degree, voiced any concerns or objections to conducting the raid. Nor will there be any objections to seizures based on red flag laws, arrests of persons alleged to be violating new weapon restrictions, or even, if it should come to this point, taking people into a "protective custody" in order to relocated them to "safe zones".

                                                                                                                                                    Thursday, September 12, 2019

                                                                                                                                                    POTD: Abandon hope all ye who enter here

                                                                                                                                                    Today's photograph is from a collection of photographs of the Alabama State Hospital for the Insane's The Jemison Center, which was built in 1939 and housed patients until 1977, and found at The Daily Mail

                                                                                                                                                         The caption for this particular photograph reads: "Due to overgrown plants little light is able to get into the abandoned building in the Tuscaloosa area where unexplained shadows have been glimpsed by visitors." Lots of other great photographs of the interior and some additional exterior shots at the link above. From a tactical perspective, you can see how hard it would be to spot someone inside the structure, while anyone entering from outside would be nicely silhouetted.

                                                                                                                                                    Vaping Illnesses Linked to THC Products

                                                                                                                                                    Last week, I note that the media was being misleading as to vaping illnesses because the illnesses had been linked to Vitamin E contamination in cannabis products, but the media stories did not mention that fact or buried it deep in the articles. Thus, it caught my attention to see a September 9 article from Reason reporting that "Study Finds That the Vast Majority of Respiratory Diseases in Vapers Are Linked to Illegal THC Products." From that article:
                                                                                                                                                          According to a new report on patients in Illinois and Wisconsin who experienced severe respiratory illnesses after vaping, 83 percent admitted using black-market cannabis products. While 17 percent said they had used nicotine only, some of them may have been reluctant to admit using illegal drugs, and it's not clear that any of them were using standard e-cigarettes.

                                                                                                                                                           These findings cast further doubt on the wisdom of general warnings about "vaping" and "e-cigarettes," which imply that legal nicotine products are implicated in these cases. Such warnings may encourage former smokers who are now vaping to start smoking again, a decision that exposes them to much greater health risks.

                                                                                                                                                          The new study, reported Friday in The New England Journal of Medicine, focused on 53 patients who had vaped within 90 days of their symptoms, typically within the previous week. Their median age was 19, and nearly a third were younger than 18. Among the 41 patients who were "extensively interviewed," 80 percent reported using THC products, 7 percent mentioned CBD products, and 17 percent said they had vaped nicotine only. The authors note that "information on product use is based on reports by the patients, and patients may be reluctant to report illicit drug use."

                                                                                                                                                          The description of the vapes used by the patients indicates that most were black-market products represented as containing cannabis extracts. "Patients reported using 14 distinct brands of THC products and 13 brands of nicotine products in a wide range of flavors," the researchers say. "The most common THC product that was reported was marketed under the 'Dank Vape' label (reported by 24 of 41 interviewed patients [59%]). Patients reported use of a number of different e-cigarette devices to aerosolize these products."