Wednesday, August 31, 2011

We Must Be Prepared

We owe it to ourselves and our families to be prepared when disaster strikes. Disasters can be national, such as the current "Great Recession"; regional, such as the flooding and power outages caused by the recent Hurricane Irene; or very personal, such as losing employment or suffering a debilitating illness.

In the November 1995 Ensign, Elder L. Tom Perry touched on the issue of preparedness. He stated:

On a daily basis we witness widely fluctuating inflation; wars; interpersonal conflicts; national disasters; variances in weather conditions; innumerable forces of immorality, crime, and violence; attacks and pressures on the family and individuals; technological advances that make occupations obsolete; and so on. The need for preparation is abundantly clear. The great blessing of being prepared gives us freedom from fear, as guaranteed to us by the Lord in the Doctrine and Covenants: “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear” (D&C 38:30).1

At the priesthood session of General Conference in November 1998, President Gordon B. Hinkley likewise warned that it was time to get our houses in order.2 After citing Pharaoh’s dream of seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine in Genesis 42, President Hinckley warned about possible financial reversals both personal and in the world at large. He related the following:


No one knows when emergencies will strike. I am somewhat familiar with the case of a man who was highly successful in his profession. He lived in comfort. He built a large home. Then one day he was suddenly involved in a serious accident. Instantly, without warning, he almost lost his life. He was left a cripple. Destroyed was his earning power. He faced huge medical bills. He had other payments to make. He was helpless before his creditors. One moment he was rich, the next he was broke.3


Later, in 2002, President Hinckley again reminded us of the importance of being prepared, saying:

Brethren, I wish to urge again the importance of self-reliance on the part of every individual Church member and family.

None of us knows when a catastrophe might strike. Sickness, injury, unemployment may affect any of us.

We have a great welfare program with facilities for such things as grain storage in various areas. It is important that we do this. But the best place to have some food set aside is within our homes, together with a little money in savings. The best welfare program is our own welfare program. Five or six cans of wheat in the home are better than a bushel in the welfare granary.

I do not predict any impending disaster. I hope that there will not be one. But prudence should govern our lives. Everyone who owns a home recognizes the need for fire insurance. We hope and pray that there will never be a fire. Nevertheless, we pay for insurance to cover such a catastrophe, should it occur.

We ought to do the same with reference to family welfare.

We can begin ever so modestly. We can begin with a one week’s food supply and gradually build it to a month, and then to three months. I am speaking now of food to cover basic needs. As all of you recognize, this counsel is not new. But I fear that so many feel that a long-term food supply is so far beyond their reach that they make no effort at all.

Begin in a small way, my brethren, and gradually build toward a reasonable objective. Save a little money regularly, and you will be surprised how it accumulates.

Get out of debt and rid yourself of the terrible bondage that debt brings.4



1 Perry, L. Tom, “If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear,” Ensign 35 (Nov. 1995).
2 Hinckley, Gordon B., “To the Boys and the Men,” Ensign (Nov. 1998).
3 Id.
4 Hinckley, Gordon B., “To Men of the Priesthood,” Ensign (Nov. 2002).


Monday, August 29, 2011

Shooting the 7.65 / .32 ACP Walther PPK.

I had the opportunity a couple weeks ago to shoot a Walther PPK in .32 ACP. The particular specimen was a PPK produced in approximately 1936 or '37.

I don't have a picture of the actual specimen, but here is a photo of a .32 PPK:

(Source: Wikimedia Commons/www.adamsguns.com).


A friend of mine had picked it up at a local pawn shop. It had some minor rusting and pitting on the slide. The bore and barrel were in good shape. The mottled brown bakelite grips had a few small cracks around the screw holes. Otherwise, it was in great shape.

This was an impromptu shooting session. My friend had not told me about the gun, and we had only gotten together to do some "plinking." Unfortunately, he had only brought out a partial box of .32 to shoot.

I have shot .380 (9 x 17 mm, 9 mm Short, or 9 mm Kurtz) PPKs before, and, for some reason, thought that the .32 version was the same size. Nope. Much smaller--a true pocket pistol.

Shooting it was a real pleasure. Recoil was minimal. The trigger was smooth. Although it had fixed iron sights, they were right on for this particular pistol. It pointed naturally for me, meaning that the sights were on target just by the act of pointing the pistol. Obviously, this probably depends on the size of the hand and how a person points, and may not be true for everyone. However, this pistol was head and shoulders above other small semi-auto "mouse-guns" that I've shot.

Our target was a laundry detergent jug (the 185 fl. oz. size) set out at 40 to 50 yards away and slightly above us on a hillside.  (Like I said, we had only intended to go "plinking"). We shot off-hand. My friend was able to hit the jug cleanly with 2 out of his 7 shots. (He did better on subsequent magazines). My first time handling or shooting the gun, I was able to hit the jug with 5 out of the 7 rounds. I wish we had had more ammunition to give it a real workout. However, within the few rounds we fired, there were no malfunctions.

I had always discounted the PPK before because, only handling the .380, I thought it was too large and heavy to make a good concealed carry gun, especially given the cartridge it used. The .32 version, however, would be a good gun for concealed carry license holder who, for whatever reason, needs a small gun, or as a backup to a larger handgun.

The primary issue with using a .32 of any make is the size and power (or lack thereof) of the .32 cartridge. I prefer hits--even diminutive ones--to noisy misses, so I think this gun is definitely worth consideration if you are looking for a true pocket pistol.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Look Before You Open the Door

A reminder of why it is a good idea to keep the doors to your house or apartment locked, and look to see who is at the door before answering. "Naked Man Goes on Fatal Stabbing Spree in New York City."

If you do answer the door, and have shoes on, keep your foot behind the door and only open it a short ways. If you use a door chain, make sure it is anchored with wood screws that go all of the way into the wall stud. This will probably require you to "upgrade" the screws that come with a door chain, since they are generally too short. Of course, a security door would be useful.

Fighting Over Food/Water Before Irene.

"If you’re prepared for the zombie apocalypse, a hurricane is just a storm." Say Uncle reports fighting over food and supplies as people belatedly prepare for Hurricane Irene. Many of those leaving comments also witnessed fighting or arguments over food and water, and long lines for gasoline.

This reminds me of a story my brother related to me last year. On the way home from work, he stopped at a Walmart to pick up a couple items, and noticed huge lines of people at the food check-out lines. He commented to a clerk about it, and she replied, "It's because of the hurricane." He knew one was coming, but had largely ignored it because, with his year's supply and other preparations, he didn't need to stock up on supplies at the last minute.

Although your goal should be at least a year's supply of food and other commonly used supplies, you should strive, at a minimum, to always have enough food for several weeks, and enough water for a week.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Soda Bottle as a Light

Disaster preparation includes a lot of do-it-yourself (DIY) projects and tasks; an actual emergency may also require improvisation. So, I like to see articles like this one that discuss using soda bottles, water and bleach to refract sunlight into an otherwise unlit room.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

British Soldiers Complaining About the 5.56 NATO Round

I recently came across this post at the Firearms Blog, citing some criticism (perhaps "observation" is a better word) of the 5.56 mm NATO round on longer ranges. This has long been recognized as an issue with the 5.56 mm, and is a particular problem with the shorter-barreled M-4 . Tom Clancy's book on the Special Forces had made mention of the Special Forces community recognizing the limited range of the 5.56 mm in the 1980's as a potential problem in desert warfare. The limited range and power is one of the reasons for the U.S. fielding .308 weapons for designated marksmen in the current conflicts. (To be fair, however, the .308 is, itself, underpowered for the long distances shot by snipers in Afghanistan).

The lesson to be learned? Firearms (including the ammunition) are tools, and you must select the right one for the job. The 5.56 mm has proven to be an accurate and, relative to other FMJ ammunition, deadly at short to medium ranges such as the jungles faced in Vietnam, and the urban warfare in the current conflicts. But if you need longer range, or to punch through walls, then you need something different.

Roundup of the London Riots

Now that the recent riots in London have faded from the headlines (at least here in the United States), I thought I would post links to some of the reports and analysis offered over the last week.

First, here is a description of the riots from the perspective of a British police officer. Here is an August 7 report from the Telegraph. This is an August 9 report from Fox News concerning the riots in London. And here is a later report from Fox News about the riots spreading from London to other cities.

Some analysis from the British as to the roots of the rioting, here, and a lament that the British public have given up their right to keep and bear arms, and its inevitable result:
Britain’s gun laws are among the most draconian in the world, yet the nation has some of the highest levels of violent crime and burglary in the West, and there is no shortage of gun crime in major cities such as London and Manchester. While criminal gangs are often able to acquire firearms on the black market, ordinary law-abiding British citizens are barred from owning guns for self-defence.
The Samizdata blog notes that in some neighborhoods, the people took steps to forcibly protect their property, and were successful at it too. This op-ed from Alister Heath provides a succinct explanation of the rioters motives:
What they wanted is free money and free goods and so they helped themselves. They were driven by greed, a culture of entitlement, of rights without responsibility, combined with a complete detachment from traditional morality, generalised teenage anger and a sense that anything goes in the current climate. This wasn’t a political protest, it was thievery.

Commentators on this side of the pond have similar thoughts. This op-ed piece from Forbes straight-away states that a cause of the lawlessness is that the British government has failed to safeguard property and taken away the average citizen's right to defend himself. Victor Davis Hanson, at the National Review, also provided an analysis of the London riots and the recent flash mob attacks here in the U.S. Interestingly, on June 19, after experiencing a series of petty thefts, Mr. Hanson  discussed the very same incentives that ended up playing out in London.  
A majority would believe the thieves took things for drugs, excitement, or to buy things like an iPhone or DVD, rather than out of elemental need (e.g., the thief hawked the chainsaw to purchase the family’s rice allotment for the week). In this view, contemporary American crime arises not so much then from Dickensian poverty, as we see in South America or Africa, but out of a sense of resentment, of boredom, from a certain contempt for the more law-abiding and successful, or on the assurance that apprehension is unlikely, and punishment rarer still. After all, Hollywood, pop music, the court system, and the government itself sympathize with, even romanticize those forced to take a chainsaw, not the old middle-class bore who bought it.

The remedy to address theft would be not more government help — public assistance, social welfare, counseling — but far less, given that human nature rises to the occasion when forced to work and sinks when leisured and exempt. I don’t believe my thieves have worked much; instead, they figured a day’s theft beats tile setting or concrete work beginning at 5 AM.

I conclude that most Americans would agree that chain-sawing a peach tree or pumping irrigation water enriches the nation, while cruising around looking to destroy such activity does not. The latter represents the sort of social parasitism that I read about each Saturday night in our environs (and, in terms of illegal immigration, once wrote about in Mexifornia — a book I seem doomed to relive in Ground Hog fashion each day — nearly a decade ago): gangbanger A shoots up gangbanger B; B goes to emergency room for publicly funded $250,000 worth of surgery and post-op treatment by C, an MD, who otherwise would have been insulted and intimidated by A or B should he have met either earlier in the day. Indeed, C is more likely to be ridiculed or sued by B than thanked. And yet C does not need either A or B; both need the former in extremis.

The over-arching lesson here is the failure of the modern liberal welfare state. The practical lessons are: (i) civil unrest and riots can spring up suddenly; (ii) the neighborhoods that fared the best were those where the people collectively took responsibility for their own defense; (iii) you can't rely on law enforcement for protection.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Peak Oil is a Lie

Like most any other doctrine dear to the hearts of Gaia worshippers, peak oil is a lie. (H/T Instapundit). The issue is not that there is not enough oil, but whether we can overcome the technological and politico-religious barriers to obtaining the oil. So far, the oil industry has done a pretty good job of overcoming technical barriers as they have cropped up (deep-sea drilling, horizontal drilling, fracking, to name a few). The real barrier is the politico-religious barrier--i.e., government regulations--imposed by the environmentalists, NIMBYs, and, to be blunt, those in the pockets of the Saudis and other Middle-East powers.

Is the CIA Crossing the Line into Domestic Survaillance?

Fox News has a lengthy article disclosing that the New York Police Department (NYPD) has created a secret intelligence program with assistance from the CIA. There are good reasons that the CIA is forbidden from domestic spying, not the least of which is to guard against the creation of a police state. Thus, it would be disturbing if the CIA was using the NYPD as a straw-man to circumvent these restrictions.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

From Around the Internet

Police in London do nothing to control mob violence. Although I still have not seen anything confirming the ethnicity/religion of the rioters, the article refers to "youth gangs" which generally, in the European press, means "Muslim youth gangs." Note that residents of the affected areas had to flee the area. However, since England has such strict gun control, and therefore must be a crime-free utopia, I have a hard time believing these reports. (H/T Instapundit).

Another lesson in "the end justifies the means." "U.S. Doubles Down on Sinaloa Cartel." It's not enough that the Feds have allowed thousands of civilian firearms to be smuggled into Mexico (ostensibly to support its argument that thousands of civilian firearms are being smuggled into Mexico), and allowed tens of thousands of military arms to fall into the hands of the drug cartels, but the Feds have allowed one cartel to bring billions of dollars of drugs into the U.S. for information on another cartel. (Didn't Germany do this type of thing in WWI? Something about smuggling some harmless idiot into Russia ... some guy named Lenin...). Anyway, glad to see that the loss of our civil rights and billions of tax dollars has finally brought us to this great point in history where we are on the cusp of winning the war on drugs.

And finally, two stories to file in the "do as I say, not as I do," category. First, our top tax cheat (otherwise known as the Secretary of the Treasury) tells the Europeans to get their fiscal house in order. (H/T). Second, China, which has roundly criticized the U.S. debt problems, apparently has built its house on sand as well: "China's Debt Problem Worse Than Portugal's."

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The End of the Beginning.

Yesterday, Standard & Poor's downgraded the United States credit rating from AAA to AA+.

If you think this is the beginning of the end, you are wrong: the beginning of the end occurred over 100 years ago. What we are seeing is the end of the beginning. From now on, events will simply accelerate until the Lord returns to burn the wicked.

In Joseph Fielding Smith's book, The Signs of the Times, President Smith relates that President Woodruff was very concerned with the parable of the wheat and the tares in the last years of his life. The parable is found at Matt. 13:24-30. If you don't remember the parable, a man sowed good wheat in his field. While the man rested, his enemy came and sowed tares together with the wheat. A tare is a weedy plant, such as the common vetch that is similar in appearance to wheat when young. In the parable, the man's servants want to gather up the tares, but the man stops them, saying "Nay; lest while you gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them." Matt. 13:29. He then tells his servants:

Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
Matt. 13:30. Christ explained that He was the man that sowed the good wheat; the field is the world; the good seed are His followers; and the tares are those that follow the Devil; the reapers are the angels; and the harvest is the end of the world. Matt. 13:37-39 (emphasis added).

In Section 86 of the Doctrine & Covenants, through a revelation given to Joseph Smith in December 1832, the Lord lent a further explanation of the parable in the context of the latter-days and the Church. Significantly, however, the Lord indicated:
Behold, verily I say unto you, the angels are crying unto the Lord day and night, who are ready and waiting to be sent forth to reap down the fields;
But the Lord saith unto them, pluck not up the tares while the blade is yet tender (for verily your faith is weak), lest you destroy the wheat also.
D&C 86:5-6.  In other words, in 1832, the angels wanted to reap down the tares, but the Lord stayed their hands.

This changed in the last years of Pres. Woodruff's life. Joseph Fielding Smith quotes Pres. Woodruff, in reference to D&C 86, as stating in 1896 that "I want to bear testimony to this congregation, and to the heavens and the earth, that the day is come when those angels are privileged to go forth and commence their work." (Smith p. 113). In June 1894, Pres. Woodruff proclaimed:

 God has held the angles of destruction for many years lest they should reap down the wheat with the tares. But I want to tell you now, those angels have left the portals of heaven, and they stand over this people and this nation now, and are hovering over the earth waiting to pour out the judgments. And from this very day they shall be poured out. ... Great changes are at our doors. The next twenty years will see mighty changes among the nations of the earth.
 (Smith p. 115). Pres. Smith noted that 20 years and 1 month later, the First World War began. (Smith p. 116).

It may be significant to note that in the parable as stated in Matthew, the tares appear to be the first to be gathered; however, in D&C 86, the Lord instructs his servants to first gather out the wheat. D&C 86:7. To date, we have seen missionary work continuing apace during the past century; and undoubtedly missionary work will continue until the last possible minute. However, as Brigham Young described, when the Elders are called home from their preaching, the Lord will preach his own sermon "with fire and sword, tempests, earthquakes, hail, rain, thunders, and lightnings and fearful destruction." (Smith p. 128).
You will hear of magnificent cities, now idolized by the people, sinking in the earth, entombing the inhabitants. The sea will heave itself beyond its bounds, engulfing mighty cities. Famine will spread over the nations, and nation will rise up against nation, kingdom against kingdom, and states against states, in our own country and in foreign lands; and they will destroy each other, caring not for the blood and lives of their neighbors, of their families, or for their own lives. They will be like the Jaredites who proceeded the Nephites upon this continent, and will destroy each other to the last man, through the anger that the devil will place in their hearts, because they have rejected the words of life and are given over to Satan to do whatever he listeth to do with them.
 (Smith p. 128-29) (emphasis added).

This anger and violence is already beginning to spread throughout our nation. (See also this article on "The Truth About Violent Flash Mobs"). We will probably see consequences from the credit downgrade over the next few days and weeks. At a minimum, it means that the U.S. will be paying more to service its debt, resulting in cuts (whether wanted or not) beyond those envisioned by the Kings Men our ruling elite. It potentially means that there will be a sell-off of U.S. bonds by certain institutional investors, such as state pension plans (many of these plans are required to keep their investments in AAA rated bonds, although I would expect some backroom deals and significant pressure to prevent this). It could even be the trigger of a collapse of the dollar. (See also). Whatever happens, however, we will see the anger increase. We have seen this in Wisconsin over government cuts; we have seen the demonizing of the Tea Party supporters; we have seen literal "blood libel" uttered by politicians and prominent journalists against politicians they hate. This will all only get worse, and more violent, as the fiscal and moral crises facing our nation worsens.

So, what to do? As always, pray; and pray that we pass through these days quickly and the Lord establish his kingdom on earth. Matt. 6:9. While it would be nice to have invested in gold and silver, for those that were slow to do so, or simply could not afford to do so, I would remind you that the Lord has warned us to "[l]ay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal." Matt. 6:19. Rather, we have been admonished to store food and, where possible, fuel. So keep working on your "year's supply," and keep your spirits up. God has not forsaken His true believers.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

And Now for Something Completely Different...

Well, it looks like Obama has a couple more trillion dollars to spend between now and the coming election. I wonder if we can expect bread and circuses, or just more largess for our lords and barons. In any event, it's sometimes too easy to forget what an absolutely fascinating world we live in. Accordingly, I've decided to provide some links to some interesting stories, in no particular order:

I first read of this several weeks ago, but authorities have opened the sixth and final vault full of treasure in an Indian temple, the total treasure thought to be worth more than $20 billion.

The earth may have had two moons at one time.

Another blow to the "peak oil" lie mime. (And biodiesel from bacteria).