Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Emergency Trauma Videos for Download

North American Rescue has several emergency trauma training videos available for download (they are in Windows Media file format).

(H/t Active Response Training)

Ebola in Dallas

Ebola virus

CBS Dallas reports:
Officials with the Centers for Disease Control have confirmed that a person in Dallas definitely has the Ebola virus. Tuesday’s official determination makes the Dallas patient the first diagnosed Ebola case in the United States. 
Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention held an afternoon press conference. CDC Director Thomas Frieden related the information that the individual who tested positive had traveled to Liberia. The person left Liberia on September 19 and arrived in the United States on September 20 with no virus symptoms. Frieden said it was four or five days later that the patient, who is believed to be male, began developing symptoms and was ultimately admitted to Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas on Sunday, September 28. 
“We received in our laboratory today specimens from the individual, tested them and they tested positive for Ebola. The State of Texas also operates a laboratory that found the same results,” Frieden said. After the confirmation statement Frieden went on to stress that the testing for Ebola is very accurate, saying that it’s a PCR test of blood.
(Source)

Why Do the Elitists Loath Prepping?

This month (September) was national disaster-preparation month. It produced some useful articles about disaster preparation and preppers, such as this WJCT report on why Mormons store food, this article from Sharon Hughes at Renew America which acknowledges that preppers have a point, and even this article from NYT's Metro acknowledging that planning for a natural disaster might be a good idea. 

However, most MSM articles fall into two broad categories: those that mock preppers as wasting time for something that is never coming (for instance, this recent column by Steve Johnson at the Chicago Tribune), or that think preppers are dangerously paranoid (e.g., this column by Pat Cunningham at the Journal-Democrat).

That latter column prompted Jason Cote, also writing at the Journal-Democrat, to ask why liberals mock survivalism and prepping. His conclusion is:
The “prepper movement” has been largely ignored by the media, however now it is estimated to be over 3 million strong. In response to the growing movement, many on the left have taken to mocking preppers and labeling them as uneducated nut jobs.
You see, many of our leftist friends have a blind faith in government that those on the right can’t understand. 
 
The more liberal among us believe that regardless of what calamity may befall us, the swift hand of government will swoop in and carry us away to safety. In a real sense, they are deeply offended that not everyone feels the same way.  
The fact that some people feel that the economic system is on the verge of collapse, or that we may be left for weeks to fend for ourselves after a natural disaster doesn’t make sense to them because the government should be our savior. 
 ... There has developed, however, a parent-child relationship between the government and the citizenry. The child believes it is the responsibility of the parent to protect it. The parent generally feels it exists in order to take care of the child. If the child can live on its own then it doesn’t need the parent anymore. A populace that can take care of itself, feed itself, and defend itself is less reliant on the government, which leads to a lesser need for government. Individual responsibility lends itself to increased individual rights and that goes contradictory to the leftist political agenda. 
I believe Cote is correct as to why many people (not just liberals) do not themselves partake in disaster preparation. In fact, you see a special category among some Christians replicating this same thinking, except that "government" is replaced with "God."  (Apparently the latter haven't read the story of Joseph and the 7 years of famine, or studied the events of the first winter of the Plymouth colony).

However, I think there is more to it than just this. Both Johnson and Cunningham possess an ignorance of the practicality of disaster preparation. With Johnson, in true elitist fashion, this ignorance exhibits itself in disdain. Because it is not important to him or his wine and cheese consuming friends, it is unimportant--in fact, in Johnson's mind, it is something to be ridiculed and belittled, as an activity engaged in by the great unwashed masses. It takes a truly cultured mind, like Johnson's, to "realize" that storms, power outages, or loss of a job, only happen to peasants.

Cunningham exhibits a different reaction to the unknown, but one that is also typical--fear. The "survivalist" is a bogeyman. It is this fear of the unknown that leads to ridiculous statements such as the following, from the Washington Post:
... But state police said he [Frein] has a philosophy: survivalism. 
What is it? 
In short: a stark worldview that fuses, in varying degrees, millennialism, Second Amendment and hard-money advocacy, environmentalism and racism. It’s an ideology with many godparents, including Henry David Thoreau, Ludwig von Mises and Charlton Heston. And its proponents think the world as we know it will end soon — and we must be prepared. 
Hence their nickname: “preppers.”
Or this from an article at the Christian Science Monitor:
For the most part, survivalists – or disaster-prepared “preppers,” as they like to call themselves – are interested mostly in indulging useful fantasies about “bug-out” packs and other necessary items to have and know how to use if there is a major societal disturbance that leads to uncontrolled unrest. 
But their world view – which The Washington Post’s Justin Moyer describes as fusing “millennialism, Second Amendment and hard-money advocacy, environmentalism and racism” – can also lead some such thinkers into lonely, dark corners, where the ends may begin to justify the means, says one survivalism expert. 
“There are rare but real dangers in the acts of a tiny minority of racists, antigovernment activists, and anarchist [attackers],” Richard Mitchell, author of “Dancing at Armageddon: Survivalism and Chaos in Modern Times,” said in an interview with the University of Chicago Press. “But when genuine violence and conflicts occur they come from outside survivalism, from … individuals separated not only from conventional associations but also from survivalist organizations that these individuals deem unfocused, equivocating, convocations of mere putter-planning.”
This is, of course, the same penetrating analysis that underlay events such as the witch trials.

FBI Justification for Changing to 9 mm (Updated and bumped)

File:9 mm Luger - FMJ - SB - 1.jpg
9 mm Luger


Loose Rounds had posted the FBI's executive summary from its report on switching to the 9mm.

Update: Here are the highlights:

  • Caliber debates have existed in law enforcement for decades
  • Most of what is “common knowledge” with ammunition and its effects on the human target are rooted in myth and folklore
  • Projectiles are what ultimately wound our adversaries and the projectile needs to be the basis for the discussion on what “caliber” is best
  • In all the major law enforcement calibers there exist projectiles which have a high likelihood of failing LEO’s in a shooting incident and there are projectiles which have a high ting incident likelihood of succeeding for LEO’s in a shooting incident
  • Handgun stopping power is simply a myth
  • The single most important factor in effectively wounding a human target is to have penetration to a scientifically valid depth (FBI uses 12” – 18”)
  • LEO’s miss between 70 – 80 percent of the shots fired during a shooting incident
  • Contemporary projectiles (since 2007) have dramatically increased the terminal effectiveness of many premium line law enforcement projectiles (emphasis on the 9mm Luger offerings)
  • 9mm Luger now offers select projectiles which are, under identical testing conditions, I outperforming most of the premium line .40 S&W and .45 Auto projectiles tested by the FBI
  • 9mm Luger offers higher magazine capacities, less recoil, lower cost (both in ammunition and wear on the weapons) and higher functional reliability rates (in FBI weapons)
  • The majority of FBI shooters are both FASTER in shot strings fired and more ACCURATE with shooting a 9mm Luger vs shooting a .40 S&W (similar sized weapons)
  • There is little to no noticeable difference in the wound tracks between premium line law Auto enforcement projectiles from 9mm Luger through the .45 Auto
  • Given contemporary bullet construction, LEO’s can field (with proper bullet selection) 9mm Lugers with all of the terminal performance potential of any other law enforcement pistol caliber with none of the disadvantages present with the “larger” calibers

Monday, September 29, 2014

Update on ISIS

Just a quick update on ISIS. Several reports indicate that ISIS, today, had reached to between 1 and 2 miles from the outskirts of Baghdad. (Daily Mail, International Business Times, New York Daily News). Meanwhile, notwithstanding air strikes against ISIS, the group appears in the process of forging an alliance with Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the Nusra Front, in Syria. The Guardian, meanwhile, warns:
Since Islamic State (Isis) were formed in their current incarnation in April last year, they have had a dilemma: how to gain legitimacy from the local population while continuing to be ruthless and genocidal against fellow Sunnis. The decision by the American-led coalition to strike against Isis while overlooking the Assad regime seems to have resolved this dilemma for the jihadist organisation. What Isis will lose in terms of strength and numbers as a result of the air strikes they might gain in terms of legitimacy. 
Air strikes against Isis were inevitable, as the group’s advances towards Baghdad, Erbil and northern Syria seemed irreversible by local forces. But the way the US-led coalition, which the UK has now joined, has conducted itself so far threatens to worsen the situation in favour of Isis. 
Most importantly, by overlooking the regime of Bashar al-Assad, which caused the death of nearly 200,000 Syrians, the air strikes create the perception that the international coalition is providing a lifeline to the regime. Despite repeated reassurance by Washington, such a perception is likely to become entrenched if the Assad regime begins to fill the vacuum left by the offensive against Isis, especially that there has been no evidence yet that the opposition forces are part of the military strategy against Isis.
What these articles tell me is that ISIS is fast approaching (and may have already reached) a tipping point where it is impossible to stop it with limited use of military force and, in fact, may win over the people of the more conservative Arab states--the same states that host our forward military bases. If we loose our forward deployment bases, we will be severely restricted in our military options--i.e., intervening in the future may require something more in the lines of D-Day rather than Desert Storm. We could disengage from the Middle-East if we were able to fully develop our energy resources, but reversing government policy on clean-air rules, opening up oil and coal fields (many of which are now protected lands of some sort or another), etc., is impossible--there would be insufficient votes in Congress to pass a bill, even if the President would sign it, in addition to the push-back from the courts and the bureaucracy.

Jan Morgan and Civil Rights

Caleb at Gunnuts Media writes about Jan Morgan's decision to not allow Muslims to use her shooting range or rent firearms. (Since Islam is a faith, I'm not sure how Morgan intends on determining who is or isn't a Muslim, but that is another topic). He thinks her a bigot, idiot or both, stating:
Here’s an important point: yes, there are terrorists. There are quite a few terrorists who are followers of this or that sect of radical Islam. Those are bad people. But the 2nd Amendment isn’t for those people, the 2nd Amendment is for Americans. All Americans. Regardless of race, religion, sex, or creed. Last time I checked, the important text of the 2nd Amendment didn’t say “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed – unless you’re black, Muslim, or gay.” 
... But most importantly, and most frustratingly, it absolutely misses the point of what the 2nd Amendment, and what this entire country is all about. ... The 2nd Amendment is a civil right the same as the 1st Amendment. What Jan Morgan is doing is denying an entire group of people, an entire group of Americans, access to a fundamental civil right, simply because she doesn’t like the god they pray to and the holy book they read. That misses the entire point of everything America is supposed to be about. 
For someone who claims to support individual rights, Jan sure seems to miss the concept of what the Constitution is actually there for. Stay off my side, Jan Morgan.
Later, in the comments, he recognizes that the "civil rights" to which he refers stems from the Civil Rights Act, but then subsequently responds to another comment: "So you’re okaying [sic] with denying people access to their civil rights, guaranteed by the Constitution? Because that’s a little bit different than saying 'we don’t serve your kind here, boy.'” He also says, in response to another comment: "I am struggling with why this is so difficult for people to understand: access to the right protected by the 2nd Amendment (the ownership of firearms) is provided by private business, like gun shops. So if a gun shop says 'I will not do business with you because of your race/religion' they are ABSOLUTELY infringing on your rights." Perhaps I'm misreading his objections, but it seems that Caleb is taking the position that the Second Amendment requires Morgan to open her business to Muslims.

That the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights apply to private conduct is a common mistake, and a sad commentary on the lack of civics being taught in our schools. But it is a mistake. The Bill of Rights is a limitation on government authority, not private conduct. See, e.g., U.S. v. Guest, 383 U.S. 745, 771 (1966) (J. Clark, concurring). Morgan may be required to sell or provide services to Muslims (or any other protected group) per the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and/or its state/local equivalent, but she is not required to do so by the Bill of Rights.

California Suffers Stunted Harvest

From the Sacramento Bee:
One commodity after another is feeling the impact of the state’s epic water shortage. The great Sacramento Valley rice crop, served in sushi restaurants nationwide and exported to Asia, will be smaller than usual. Fewer grapes will be available to produce California’s world-class wines, and the citrus groves of the San Joaquin Valley are producing fewer oranges. There is less hay and corn for the state’s dairy cows, and the pistachio harvest is expected to shrink. 
Even the state’s mighty almond business, which has become a powerhouse in recent years, is coming in smaller than expected. That’s particularly troubling to the thousands of farmers who sacrificed other crops in order to keep their almond orchards watered.
While many crops have yet to be harvested, it’s clear that the drought has carved a significant hole in the economy of rural California. Farm income is down, so is employment, and Thursday’s rain showers did little to change the equation.
The Western and Mid-Western United States has a long history of drought--in fact, what is considered "drought" is probably the normal climate. Yet at least one of these droughts--in the 13th century--was associated with reduced temperatures.

Eric Holder's Legacy

Victor Davis Hanson discusses the moral failures of Eric Holder (and thus that Holder is a moral failure):
Eric Holder’s left many baleful legacies: being censured by the House of Representatives; withholding subpoenaed documents, proving untruthful about a failed gun-walking caper in Mexico; failing to enforce laws on the books, from immigration to the elements of the Affordable Care Act; illegally billing the government for his own private use of a government Gulfstream jet; snooping on Associated Press reporters; giving de facto exemptions to renegade IRS politicos; and trying to create civilian trials for terrorist killers like KSM, one of the architects of the 9/11 attacks. But he will be known mostly for re-teaching Americans to think of race as essential, not incidental, to our characters.
 ... But Holder’s sin is not that he was just an ideologue, but rather than he is also an abject opportunist — the voice of social justice massaging a pardon for the Wall Street criminal who had endowed his boss so lavishly, the advocate preening about an unpopular Bush’s supposedly unjust Guantanamo who once had no problems with a popular Bush opening of the facility, or the man of the common people Gulfstreaming to a horse race on the public dime. So, too, Holder was always an entrepreneur about anti-terrorism: whatever the prevailing general consensus, then Holder was for it without regard for principle. 
That is Holder's personality and character (or rather, lack of character). But his legacy:
... Before Holder, Americans were coming to the point that they did not automatically prejudge interracial violence as a direct consequence of racial bigotry. But thanks to Holder, not so much now. ...
... Eric Holder did his best to polarize America and confuse it about race. ...
This we will be left to deal with for years, if it is not permanent. More riots, more "knock-out game" episodes, more flash mobs.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

"You see but you do not observe"--Thoughts on the OODA Loop

Sherlock Holmes
Radley Balko discusses a couple recent police shootings. First the shooting of Levar Jones by a South Carolina state trooper, Sean Groubert:
By now you’ve probably seen the video below, which shows former South Carolina state trooper Sean Groubert shooting Levar Jones after pulling him over for a seatbelt violations. Groubert asked Jones to show his license, then opened fire when Jones ducked into his truck to retrieve it. Groubert has since been fired, and now faces felony assault charges that could bring a 20-year prison sentence. 
Let’s first state the obvious: This shooting was completely and utterly without justification. Jones did nothing wrong. He was pulled over because of a dumb law, did what he was told, and was subsequently shot for it. Groubert should never be a police officer again. Both he and the state of South Carolina should not only pay Jones’ medical bills, but a substantial sum of money for Jones’ pain and suffering. 
All of that said, watch the video again. Does Groubert look like a cold-blooded killer? I doubt he got out of his car intending to shoot Jones. It looks to me like Groubert was terrified, possibly jumped to some conclusions about Jones based on his race and appearance, and reacted out of fear. Which is to say that this looks less like a rogue cop and more the product of poor training, possible racial bias, and a cop who has been conditioned to see threats where none exist.
(Underline added). Balko goes on to describe how law enforcement has exaggerated the threat to police officers in traffic stops, even though police deaths have steadily declined. He observes:
But Groubert’s actions are consistent with and the predictable consequence of a false narrative pushed by law enforcement leaders and organization and abetted by some the media: that policing is getting more dangerous by the day. In truth, on the job police fatalities have been on a downward trajectory since the mid-1990s, and last year was the safest year for cops in a half century. And that’s just if you’re going with raw numbers. If you look at fatalities rates, 2013 was likely the safest year since the early 1900s. (It’s difficult to get precise figures on the total number of police officers over the years.) Yet we still see a steady stream of assertions from police officials that they are “at war” or that the job is more dangerous than ever. (It’s true that there has been an increase in fatalities this year. But again, this is after the safest year ever in modern policing.) 
There’s also an emerging faction in the law enforcement community encouraging cops to use more force more often. The theory is that too many cops hesitate before pulling the trigger, and that cops are unnecessarily dying as a result. ...
The other incident Balko discusses in his article concerns the killing of John Crawford in a Beavercreek, Ohio, Walmart. You may remember that this incident involved a man handling a BB-gun at a Walmart which was reported to police as a man in the store threatening people with a firearm. What Balko finds significant is that the officers had just undergone training regarding "active shooters": 
The police officer who shot dead a young black man in a Walmart store in Ohio as he held an unloaded BB rifle had less than two weeks earlier received what prosecutors called a “pep talk” on how to deal aggressively with suspected gunmen. 
Sean Williams and his colleagues in Beavercreek, a suburb of Dayton, were shown a slideshow invoking their loved ones and the massacres at Sandy Hook, Columbine and Virginia Tech while being trained on 23-24 July on confronting “active shooter situations”. 
“If not you, then who?” officers were asked by the presentation, alongside a photograph of young students being led out of Sandy Hook elementary school in December 2012. A caption reminded the trainees that 20 children and five adults were killed before police arrived . . .
I want to look at these incidents from the perspective of the OODA loop developed by U.S. Air Force Col. John Boyd. Most of you are probably familiar with the OODA loop: observe, orient, decide, and act. Although originally developed as a formal description of the decision making process fighter pilots should follow, it has gained widespread acceptance and use among police and tactical shooters. If you are interested, here are a couple articles that explain the OODA loop or process more fully (one from the Art of Manliness, discussing Boyd's theories in more detail, including more on the history and ideas that influenced Boyd; and another article discussing it in the context of use in decision theory).

File:OODA.gif
(Source)

The Art of Manliness article explains the basic issue Boyd was attempting to address:
According to Boyd, ambiguity and uncertainty surround us. While the randomness of the outside world plays a large role in that uncertainty, Boyd argues that our inability to properly make sense of our changing reality is the bigger hindrance. When our circumstances change, we often fail to shift our perspective and instead continue to try to see the world as we feel it should be. We need to shift what Boyd calls our existing “mental concepts” – or what I like to call “mental models” – in order to deal with the new reality. 
Mental models – or paradigms – are simply a way of looking at and understanding the world. They create our expectations for how the world works. They are sometimes culturally relative and can be rooted in tradition, heritage, and even genetics. They can be something as specific as traffic laws or social etiquette. Or they can be as general as the overarching principles of an organization or a field of study like psychology, history, the laws and theories of science and math, and military doctrines on the rules of engagement. ...
While our paradigms work and match up with reality most of the time, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes the universe pitches us a curveball that we never saw coming and the mental models we have to work with aren’t really useful. ...
... The crux of Boyd’s case for why uncertainty abounds is that individuals and organizations often look inward and apply familiar mental models that have worked in the past to try to solve new problems. When these old mental models don’t work, they will often keep trying to make them work — maybe if they just use an old strategy with more gusto, things will pan out. But they don’t. Business magnate Charlie Munger calls this tendency to use the familiar even in the face of a changing reality the “man with a hammer syndrome.” You know the old saying: “to the man with only a hammer, everything is a nail.” So it is with folks with one or two mental models to work with. Every problem can be solved with their current way of thinking. And so they keep hammering away, confused and disillusioned that their work isn’t producing any results.
Boyd's answer to this uncertainty was the OODA model. From the same article:
The first step in the OODA Loop is to observe. ... By observing and taking into account new information about our changing environment, our minds become an open system rather than a closed one, and we are able to gain the knowledge and understanding that’s crucial in forming new mental models. As an open system, we’re positioned to overcome confusion-inducing mental entropy. 
... In his presentations, Boyd notes that we’ll encounter two problems in the Observation phase: 
--We often observe imperfect or incomplete information ... 
--We can be inundated with so much information that separating the signal from the noise becomes difficult 
These two pitfalls are solved by developing our judgment – our practical wisdom. As John Boyd scholar Frans P.B. Osinga notes in Science, Strategy, and War, “even if one has perfect information it is of no value if it is not coupled to a penetrating understanding of its meaning, if one does not see the patterns. Judgment is key. Without judgment, data means nothing. It is not necessarily the one with more information who will come out victorious, it is the one with better judgment, the one who is better at discerning patterns.” 
How do we develop this judgment so that we can better understand our observations? By becoming deft practitioners of the next step in the OODA Loop: Orient.
The most important step in the OODA Loop, but one that often gets overlooked, is Orient. Boyd called this step the schwerpunkt (a word he borrowed from the German Blitzkrieg), or focal point of the loop. 
The reason Orient is the schwerpunkt of the OODA Loop is because that’s where our mental models exist, and it is our mental models that shape how everything in the OODA Loop works. As Osinga notes, “orientation shapes the way we interact with the environment…it shapes the way we observe, the way we decide, the way we act. In this sense, orientation shapes the character of present OODA loops, while the present loop shapes the character of future orientation.” 
So how does one orient himself in a rapidly changing environment? 
You constantly have to break apart your old paradigms and put the resulting pieces back together to create a new perspective that better matches your current reality. 
Boyd calls this process “destructive deduction.” When we do this, we analyze and pull apart our mental concepts into discrete parts. Once we have these constitutive elements, we can start the process of “creative induction” – using these old fragments to form new mental concepts that more closely align with what we have observed is really happening around us.
Of course, orientation is not a one-time affair, but is something that must be continually practiced. You must constantly reevaluating as you gather new information or as the situation evolves.

The decision theory article notes that as one becomes more experienced at a given problem, that person can seemingly skip the orientation and decision portions. The article explains:
The OODA Loop is often seen as a simple one-dimensional cycle, where one observes what the enemy is doing, becomes oriented to the enemy action, makes a decision, and then takes an action. This "dumbing down" of a highly complex concept is especially prevalent in the military, where only the explicit part of the Loop is understood. The military believes speed is the most important element of the cycle, that whoever can go through the cycle fastest will prevail. It is true that speed is crucial, but not the speed of simply cycling through the Loop. By simplifying the cycle in this way, the military can make computer models. But computer models do not take into account the single most important part of the cycle ‑ the orientation phase, especially the implicit part of the orientation phase. 
Thus we come back to the two implicit guidance and control arrows that we mentioned earlier. Let's return to Robert Coram once again . "Note that Boyd includes the Implicit Guidance & Control from Orientation with both Observations and Action. This is his way of pointing out that when one has developed the proper Fingerspitzengefuhl [ fingertip feel ] for a changing situation, the tempo picks up and it seems one is then able to bypass the explicit Orientation and Decision part of the Loop, to Observe and Act almost simultaneously. The speed must come from a deep intuitive understanding of one's relationship to the rapidly changing environment. This is what enables a commander seemingly to bypass parts of the Loop. It is this adaptability that gives the OODA Loop its awesome power."
Note this: experience and understanding can speed your through the orientation and decision process; it does not, however, eliminate the initial step of observing.

Unfortunately, "observe" has been reduced by many to merely seeing. For instance, the article "Understanding the OODA Loop" at Police magazine states:
The OODA loop is a simple yet complex summation of how the human brain processes information and how humans react. First, you observe what is going on around you using your senses. Next, you orient to what is going on around you and put it into context with information rooted in your long-term memory, including training—both good and bad—life experiences, and your genetic heritage. After processing this information you must come to a conclusion about your surroundings, and you must make a decision to act or react. The final stage, if there truly is one, is the physical action. In order to process through the OODA loop, you must perform a physical action to implement the decision you have made. If your action is appropriate and effective you begin to gain the upper hand and can often process through more OODA loop cycles at a faster tempo than your adversary, which ultimately leads to victory. 
Failing to act, or failing to act quickly and appropriately, will often result in defeat. The more defeat you suffer without being able to gain an advantage, the less likely you are to have an effective physical and mental performance. This puts you behind the reaction curve, where you process information more slowly and every time you cycle through the OODA loop you are at even more of a disadvantage. 
Boyd understood how people process information in combat and the role that training, experience, and forethought play in maximizing  your ability to be victorious.
One of the most important things that Boyd's OODA loop can teach you as law enforcement officers is that your survival skills such as firearms training and defensive tactics training must be properly encoded into memory.
 
In a life or death situation, you need to be able to process through the OODA loop as quickly and effectively as possible in order to increase your odds of survival and triumph.  
The fastest way to process through the OODA loop is to quickly orient to what is happening and virtually bypass the decision-making process by already knowing what action to take based on the stimulus. Boyd called the process of bypassing steps of the OODA loop "implicit guidance and control." 
Implicit guidance and control is an unconscious preplanned physical response to a known threat stimulus, which is often referred to by psychologists as a "learned automatic response." Some experts also refer to this as a "threat stimulus response pairing."
From a different article at Tactical Response:
Human reaction time is defined as the time elapsing between the onset of a stimulus and the onset of a response to that stimulus. The O.O.D.A. Loop, which stands for Observe, Orient, Decide and Act, is Boyd’s way of explaining how we go through the process of reacting to stimulus. First we Observe, and keep in mind that although we process approximately 80% of the information we receive with our sense of sight, we can and do make observations with our other senses. For instance you might hear a gunshot and not see the person who fired it. Once you look and see the source of the gunfire you are now in the Orient stage of the process. In the Orient stage you are now focusing your attention on what you have just observed. The next step is the Decide step in which you have to make a decision on what to do about what you have just observed and focused your attention on. Finally you have made your decision and the last step is to Act upon that decision. Keep in mind that the O.O.D.A loop is what happens between the onset of a stimulus and the onset of a reaction to that stimulus.
These articles may seem correct. Yet, in fact, the authors have made a critical mistake. As Conan Doyle expressed in one of his Sherlock Holmes stories, "You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear." The author of the Police magazine and Tactical Response articles not only skip over the importance of the "observe" step, they has reduced it to a "stimulus." Stimulus is devoid of understanding.

Returning to the examples above. Groubert asked Jones to produce his identification, and Jones leaned back into his vehicle to get the license. Groubert saw Jones leaning into his vehicle, but did not observe--that is, he is not mindful that he just instructed Jones to get his license. Instead, he sees a threat stimulus. He saw, but he did not observe. If he had observed, he might of realized that Jones did not have a weapon and was simply following Groubert's actions.

Similarly, in the shooting of Crawford, the officer that shot him saw the toy gun, but did not observe that it was a toy gun. The officer saw Crawford with the toy gun, but did not observe that Crawford was, in fact, not an active shooter.

Another problem, and one that is the substance of Balko's critique, is that the officers' orientation was compromised. When Boyd discussed orientation, he was not simply discussing lining up an aircraft for a kill shot. He actually was discussing how various factors--genetic heritage, cultural traditions, previous experience, new information, and analysis and synthesis--interacted to provide us an understanding of the situation and environment. As the prior decision theory article explains:
Orientation is the worldview, the schemata, the mental models, the views of reality, the insights, intuitions, hunches, beliefs and perceptions of the various participants. We create working models of the world by making and manipulating analogies in our minds. With these working models we perceive and define our world. They are our maps of reality  and they are implicit.
Balko theorizes (probably correctly) that Groubert's decision to shoot Jones was probably influenced by his training and stories concerning police officers being killed during traffic stops, and perhaps racism or other personal history or biases, so that Groubert reached a conclusion that Jones was reaching for a weapon. Similarly, in Crawford's killing, the officer entered the scene with a preconception that it was an active shooter event, reinforced by his "pep talk" encouraging his use of lethal force. In both cases, the officers had a worldview that skewed their analysis of what was actually occurring before them.

Some readers may argue that the quickest to the draw training may save an officer's life in a gun fight. But that is the essential problem in both of these situations--the officers were not in gunfights. In the case of Groubert, his mistake has cost him his career and may yet result in jail time. The officer that shot Crawford may not have been subject to charges, but he failed at his task. And, to be sure, if a private citizen had shot Crawford under the same circumstances, he would be facing a second degree murder or manslaughter charge.

I'm not arguing for detailed analysis that slows down our decision making process. But I am warning that a knee-jerk reaction does not satisfy the OODA requirements, and may have serious negative consequences.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Converting .30-06 cases to 7.7 mm Jap.

The Japanese used two rifles in WWII: one using a 6.5 mm bullet and another employing a 7.7 mm projectile. Of course, as normal for that time, rather than adopting the cartridge of another country, the Japanese used their own proprietary ammunition. The 7.7 mm cartridge is interesting because it uses the same size and weight of bullet of the .303 British, and was intended to mimic the .303 in performance. However, the Japanese employed a rimless cartridge.

A friend of mine recently acquired a 7.7 mm Arasaka rifle. Loaded ammunition appears to be currently unobtainable, and even unloaded brass is difficult to find and expensive (my friend was quoted a price that comes to $2 per case). However, it apparently is possible to convert .30-06 brass to the dimensions necessary for the 7.7 mm without too much difficulty. I have .30-06 brass, and even a couple handfuls of .312 diameter bullets that someone gave me, so my friend has decided to try this route. He's not planning on shooting the rifle a lot--but he does want to shoot it just to see what it is like. He was going to order a set of 7.7 mm reloading dies in the next few days, so we will try it out and report afterward. Hopefully we will have all of this done in the next few weeks.

Caliber Comparisons for Fighting Rifles

(Link to video)

Another Reason for Concealed Carry--Jihadists

Alton Nolan

The AP reports on an incident in Moore, Oklahoma, where a woman was beheaded and another stabbed multiple times before the attacker was shot by another employee. From the story:
Police said Friday a man recently fired from a food processing plant in an Oklahoma City suburb beheaded a woman with a knife and was attacking another worker when he was shot and wounded by the owner of the company. 
The 30-year-old man, who has not been charged, stabbed Colleen Hufford, 54, severing her head in Thursday's attack at Vaughan Foods, Moore Police Sgt. Jeremy Lewis said. 
Lewis said the man then stabbed Traci Johnson, 43, a number of times before being shot by Mark Vaughan, a reserve sheriff's deputy and the company's chief operating officer.
Based on reports that the perp, Alton Nolan, had recently converted to Islam, and tried to convert others to Islam, the FBI are now involved in the investigation.

Two From The Firearm Blog

A couple articles that caught my eye today.

First, TFG tests the trigger pull of 25 combat rifles--most with stock triggers. I'm somewhat surprised as to the result of the Arsenal AK74. I use Arsenal trigger groups in my AKs, and, while there is considerable take up, they are some of the smoothest, lightest triggers of almost any of my rifles.

Second, an article about Gunstruction--an online virtual rifle (AR pattern) builder. According to the article, it gives you an idea of what your rifle will look like with various parts and accessories, track the parts you have, and even order parts you don't have yet. You do have to download a special player for your web-browser, though. All NSA rules apply (sarc.).

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Shot Placement vs. "Stopping Power"

File:Torso Lethal Shot Placement.jpg
Torso Lethal Shot Placement
It happened again to me. I was looking through a firearms magazine last night, reading the letters to the editor, and there was someone that wrote that the appropriate caliber for a defensive handgun should always start with a "4", and then used the same old polemic of the only reason for a high capacity magazine for a 9 mm is because it takes more rounds to do the same damage as a single shot from a .40 S&W.

Frankly, I thought the debate was pretty much over--all handgun rounds are pretty marginal, so shot placement counted for more than "stopping power." For instance, Greg Ellifritz has done a statistical review of shootings, published on the Buckeye Shooters Association site. He writes:
Over a 10-year period, I kept track of stopping power results from every shooting I could find. I talked to the participants of gunfights, read police reports, attended autopsies, and scoured the newspapers, magazines, and Internet for any reliable accounts of what happened to the human body when it was shot.

I documented all of the data I could; tracking caliber, type of bullet (if known), where the bullet hit and whether or not the person was incapacitated. I also tracked fatalities, noting which bullets were more likely to kill and which were not. It was an exhaustive project, but I'm glad I did it and I'm happy to report the results of my study here.
His results showed that, statistically, the .22 LR compared well against other firearms. Why? Ellifritz concluded:
What matters even more than caliber is shot placement. Across all calibers, if you break down the incapacitations based on where the bullet hit you will see some useful information.

Head shots = 75% immediate incapacitation
Torso shots = 41% immediate incapacitation
Extremity shots (arms and legs) = 14% immediate incapacitation.

No matter which caliber you use, you have to hit something important in order to stop someone!
In other words, with handguns, shot placement (i.e., accuracy) is far more important than caliber.

Breach, Bang, Clear has a guest article by Aaron Cowan that discusses the physiology of why this is so. Cowan writes:
How many rounds does it take to stop a threat? The only correct answer to this questionis “as many as it takes to gain compliance, surrender or incapacitation.” 
That is the only correct answer. 
Let’s de-sterilize that word incapacitation: Incapacitation in our context means death, unconsciousness due to blood loss or central nervous failure resulting in the loss of bodily control. It does not mean on the ground unless on the ground includes one of those three conditions. 
How long does it take to truly incapacitate someone? The only guaranteed instantaneous incapacitation is in the head; the brainstem. Every other location of the body is a delayed incapacitation at best. What about shooting someone in the heart? Well, the heart is a muscle and outside of large caliber rifles, bullets are not big enough to totally explode the heart. Assuming that a round fired from a normal defensive weapon could totally explode the heart, your bad guy still has time to fight because his brain and limbs will have enough oxygenated blood in them to allow him to fight. Cutting all blood flow to the brain, your bad guy has up to 10 seconds until unconsciousness and approximately 20 seconds until total electrical failure4. That’s a long time – especially if that person is trying to “incapacitate” you. 
What about massive bleeding? Since it’s (very damn) rare to totally explode the heart or totally sever major arteries, and because the body acts as a barrier to blood loss, the loss of blood will have to reach about the 30%-40% range before incapacitation can be expected. In order to cause severe blood loss, we have to hit major organs and arteries. The average resting cardiac output is 5 liters a minute (for an example 154 pound man); imagining a major hemorrhaging (level IV) from a sufficient diameter wound, it will take our mope at least 20 seconds to lose 40% blood volume. Remember that even once that happens we have the above mentioned loss of oxygenated blood to the brain to confront. 
Blood does not flow at this rate because cardiac output does not equal bleed rate from point of injury. As blood loss increases, pressure drops, though cardiac output can be expected to increase under stress. These two facts complicate each other, making a prediction difficult. Even going with the best case scenario (outside of a brainstem hit), incapacitation is going to take time and that time is dependent on how well you shoot, how deep the rounds penetrate and what they hit inside the body. Even suffering a fatal wound, your bad guy can continue to fight until system failure; Ambulation after Death is common and should be expected (seen in Tim Gramins shooting earlier in the article).
... We have three general zones on the human body for the sake of shooting; head, chest and pelvis. I list these in general order of importance. 
The head is where the off switch is located. The brain is our software; it controls everything and is dependent on a sort of harmony to work effectively.   That harmony is easily disrupted by bullets. 
The brain is our ideal target if distance, skill and circumstances allow for the shot. ...
 Cohen goes on to describe why the chest (or high thoracic cavity) is secondary--it does not have an "off switch," but strikes there will generally lead to heavy blood loss. Incapacitation will take longer than shots to the head. Finally, he mentions pelvic shots, but notes that there is little information on the effectiveness of a pelvic shot. There is a lot of good information in Ellifritz's and Cohen's articles, so I recommend you read both of them.

One thing I would note about the pelvis shot--although it may not result in "incapacitation," as Cohen uses the term, pelvic shots are often used in hunting bear in order to fix or pin the target. That is, the animal is not dead or unconscious, but it is difficult for it to continue moving toward you if its pelvis is shattered. (For the same reason, some unarmed self-defense instructors recommend a kick to attacker's pelvis to try and break the bone). A second shot to a vital area is then used to kill the animal. I'm sure the same theory could apply to the human animal.

Finally, I would note that if you go to Sage Dynamics web-site, on the bottom of the main page, there are links to download vital anatomical targets for the head and the chest.

(H/t The Firearms Blog)

Statistics and Government Statistics--Why The FBI Report on Active Shooters Should Be Viewed With Skepticism

The FBI reports that the number of active shooter events have increased. However, the FBI's methodology and conclusion need to be taken with a healthy dose of salt according to this article from Reason.com

[Criminologist James Allen] Fox isn't convinced. "Unlike mass shooting data," he says, "which come from routinely collected police reports, there is no official data source for active shooter events. Necessarily, these data derived from newspaper searches for the term 'active shooter' and similar words. Not only is the term 'active shooter' of relatively recent vintage (although created after the 1999 Columbine shooting, it wasn't used much in news reports until the past two years), but the availability of digitized and searchable news services has grown tremendously over the time span covered by the data. Thus, it is not clear whether the increase is completely related to the actual case count or to the availability and accessibility of news reports surrounding such events." Fox acknowledges that the new study draws on police records as well as press accounts, but he says the cases still have to be initially identified by searching news reports, "with police department records helpful for the details." (Sure enough, when the FBI paper identifies its sources, it cites several studies that rely on such searches.) 
Grant Duwe is skeptical about the numbers too. Duwe is the director of research and evaluation at the Minnesota Department of Corrections; each year he compiles a list of mass shootings that take place in public and are not a byproduct of some other felony. (He would not, for example, include a stick-up man who shoots several people while fleeing the police.) His figures show a steady decline from 1999 to 2011 and then a spike in 2012, which is not the pattern you might expect from those active-shooter numbers. While he appreciates some aspects of the FBI's report—he singles out its "detailed breakdown of the specific locations where these incidents occurred"—he has issues with it as well, noting that 10 of the mass shootings on his list are missing from the new study. (These omissions appear throughout the period covered, without being clustered at either the beginning or the end.) "Given that incidents involving fewer victims generally attract less attention," he adds, "I imagine the amount of underreporting for these cases is greater." Since the FBI's list "is neither a random nor an exhaustive sample," he concludes, "it's inappropriate to make any claims—which this report does—about trends in the prevalence of cases meeting their definition." He thinks it possible that such a rise has happened, but he doesn't think the report proves it.
 There are some other possible problems as well. Read the whole thing.

A Quick Look at the So-Called Recovery

While the wealthy are sitting on huge piles of cash, the rest of the country is not doing so well. The Wall Street Journal reports:

More than five years after the official end of the recession, the Public Religion Research Institute finds, only 21% of Americans believe the recession has ended. 
Two recent reports help explain the disconnect between the official jobs numbers and the economic experience of most Americans. Every fall, the U.S. Commerce Department issues a detailed analysis of trends in income, poverty and health insurance. Although economists have some technical quibbles with the Commerce data, the broad trends are unmistakable. 
This year's report found that median household income was $51,939 in 2013, 8% lower than in 2007, the last year before the recession. Households in the middle of the income distribution earned about $4,500 less last year than they had six years earlier. No wonder 56% of Americans told the Pew Research Center that their incomes were falling behind the cost of living. 
The Federal Reserve's triennial Survey of Consumer Finances confirms these findings. Between 2010 and 2013, the Fed reports, median family income fell by 5%, even though average family income rose by 4%. This is, note the authors, "consistent with increasing income concentration during this period." Only families in the top 10%, with annual incomes averaging nearly $400,000, saw gains during these three years. Families headed by college graduates eked out a gain of 1%, while those with a high-school diploma or less saw declines of about 7%. Those in the middle—with some postsecondary education—did the worst: From 2010 to 2013, their annual incomes declined to less than $41,000 from $46,000—an 11% plunge. Families headed by workers under age 35 have done especially badly—even when the heads of those young families have college degrees. The economic struggles of the millennials are more than anecdotal. 
What's going on? The Census report offers a clue. The median earnings for Americans working full-time year round haven't changed much since 2007. But more than five years into the recovery, there are fewer such workers than before the recession. In 2007, 108.6 million Americans were working full time, year-round; in 2013 only 105.9 million were doing so. Although jobs are being created, too many of them are part-time to maintain growth in household incomes.

Eric Holder Resigning--Why Now?

Numerous news outlets are reporting that Attorney General Eric Holder is resigning his position. The reports read virtually the same, with this Boston Globe report being typical:
Eric Holder, who served as the public face of the Obama administration’s legal fight against terrorism and pushed to make the criminal justice system more even-handed, is resigning after six years on the job. He is the nation’s first African-American attorney general. 
The White House said that President Barack Obama planned to announce Holder’s departure at 4:30 p.m. Thursday. The White House said Holder plans to remain at the Justice Department until his successor is in place.
 The 63-year-old former judge and prosecutor took office in early 2009 as the U.S. government grappled with the worst financial crisis in decades and with divisive questions on the handling of captured terrorism suspects, issues that helped shape his six-year tenure as the country’s top law enforcement official. He is the fourth-longest serving attorney general in U.S. history. 
He also weighed in on matters of racial fairness, taking steps to improve police relations with minorities, enforce civil rights laws and remove racial disparities in sentencing. Most recently he became the Obama administration’s face in the federal response to the police shooting last month of an unarmed black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri. In the shooting’s aftermath, he enlisted a team of criminal justice researchers to study racial bias in law enforcement. 
In his first few years on the job, Holder endured a succession of firestorms over, among other things, an ultimately-abandoned plan to try terrorism suspects in New York City, a botched gun-running probe along the Southwest border that prompted Republican calls for his resignation, and what was seen as failure to hold banks accountable for the economic meltdown. 
But he stayed on after President Barack Obama won re-election, turning in his final stretch to issues that he said were personally important to him. He promoted voting rights and legal benefits for same-sex couples and pushed for changes to a criminal justice system that he said meted out punishment disproportionately to minorities.
 The story goes on to ignore Holder's scandals and to point out what a good communist he has been (I'm summarizing in my own words, obviously).

Well, let's remember how Holder has abused his position and authority (at least that we know about). In June 2013, Red State listed 16 objectionable things:

(1)  Discriminatory hiring at the Justice Department;

(2)  Labeling the Ft. Hood shooting as "workplace violence";

(3)  Spying on reporters and editors of the Associated Press (AP);

(4)  Spying on Fox News reporter James Rosen, and falsely accusing him of being part of a criminal conspiracy;

(5)  Playing a key role in the pardon of Marc Rich (one of many examples of how the Democrats favor the very wealthy);

(6)  Pardons of key members of the Weather Underground, a communist based terrorist group;

(7)  Threatening prosecution under "hate crimes" speech critical of Islam;

(8)  Public comments showing an animosity toward conservatives;

(9)  Public opposition to the 2nd Amendment;

(10)  Treatment of foreign terrorists as criminal defendants;

(11)  Suing individual states for attempting to enforce federal immigration laws;

(12)  Refusing to do anything about Black Panther intimidation of voters;

(13)  Opposition to voter ID laws;

(14)  "Fast and Furious" and other similar programs intended to use straw buyers to move firearms into the hands of criminal drug cartels and gangs, resulting in the murder of Border Agents and other innocent people;

(15)  Purging DOJ training materials of the term "radical Islam"; and,

(16)  Islamic outreach.

Of course, we would be remiss if we didn't mention that the FBI blocked a corruption probe involving Sens. Reid, Lee. We also can't forget that the DOJ has refused to investigate or prosecute anyone at the IRS for its targeting of conservative political organizations, and Holder's perjuring himself before Congress. (See also here). Oh, yes--the DOJ pressuring banks and other financial institutions to reject business from unacceptable businesses, such as those selling firearms or ammo. And Holder's refusal to investigate the VA scandal involving the deaths of veterans.

(Here is another list of scandals, including a few I missed, from Nonsensible Shoes.

It should be noted that the caveat to all of this is that Holder will keep his position until a replacement is named, which we have been warned could be up to a year out.

I am more interested in the timing of this all. Several of the stories, including this New York Times report, indicate that the decision was finalized over the Labor Day weekend. What could have prompted Holder's decision? Well, one reason might have been a victory against the DOJ in the Fast and Furious investigation. The Blaze reported on August 20, 2014:
A federal judge resurrected the dormant Fast and Furious scandal by ordering the Justice Department to provide additional documents to House investigators probing the botched gun walking program. 
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that the DOJ must turn over a privilege log of Operation Fast and Furious documents to the House by Oct. 1. 
The privileged logs were among the thousands of pages of documents the Justice Department withheld from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee during its investigation that has been going on since 2011.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What Is A Battle Rifle?

Portuguese Troops with G-3 Rifles

     Nathaniel, at The Firearms Blog, has an article exploring the taxonomy of military rifles, and, in particular, what constitutes a "battle rifle" versus an "assault rifle"; and what is the distinction, if any, between the two. Obviously, since people cannot even agree as to what is meant by an "assault rifle" (see, e.g., Maxim Popenker's discussion here), the issue of whether "battle rifle" is a subset of "assault rifle" or a different category of its own really becomes one of semantics. Nathaniel notes some other definitions or comments on the issue, including Anthony G Williams' article on assault rifles, which defines as "assault rifle" as: "A standard military rifle, capable of controlled, fully-automatic fire from the shoulder, with an effective range of at least 300 metres". Nathaniel notes, however, that this definition can lead to somewhat absurd results where a rifle or carbine may or may not be an "assault rifle" dependent on whether it has a muzzle brake.

     Popenker writes:
The earliest use of a similar term, known to this author, is dated back to the 1918-1920 timeframe, when noted US small arms designer Isaac Lewis designed a series of experimental automatic rifles which he called “Assault phase rifles”. These rifles fired standard US Army issue rifle ammunition of the period, the .30 M1906 (.30-06, 7.62x63mm), and were in direct competition with John Browning’s M1918 BAR automatic rifle. Both Lewis and Browning automatic rifles were designed to same concept of “Walking fire”, originated by the French in around 1915, and first implemented in the ill-fated CSRG M1915 “Chauchat” machine rifle. This concept called for a man-portable automatic weapon with its primary use being to provide suppressive supporting fire for infantry during assaults on entrenched enemy positions.
And as been repeatedly observed, the origin of the term "assault rifle" was from the Nazi Sturmgewehr (STG) 44--a rifle intended to give troops a weapon that could be used like a submachine gun, but firing a more powerful cartridge, for use in assaulting or storming enemy positions. However, this was not the first select rifle fielded by the Germans, let alone other militaries. In looking through some of my references, the authors/editors either make no categorial distinction between "assault rifles" and other types of rifles, or merely lump together all self-loading rifles, whether capable of automatic fire or not. In my copy of Arms & Weapons, published in 1982, it defines an "assault rifle" as:
An automatic firearm developed from the submachine gun during the Second World War for use with intermediate cartridges, i.e., having the size and power between those of pistol and rifle cartridges. Like submachine guns, assault rifles are capable of both automatic and semiautomatic fire. Some assault rifles--as, for instance, the Soviet AK-47 and its modifications--are provided with bayonets.

     There is an argument that "assault" rifle should be used to designate a weapon intended to be used for assaulting or storming enemy formations or positions. I had recently made this suggestion. I think there is a difference between something like the AK or STG-44 and other automatic rifles of the day, such as the BAR, in that an "assault rifle" is one that allows individual troops to provide their own suppressing fire as they advance on the enemy position. A 1957 Guns magazine article on the AR-10 related:
Sullivan painted a picture of infantry firepower that got the attention of the most conservative officers. What Sullivan presented was the idea of a shoulder rifle so light, so controllable in full-automatic fire, that each  soldier could advance at a run firing up to 500 shots, continuously.
So I think the concept of an "assault rifle" being one used for "assaulting" an enemy position is a viable starting point on distinguishing the assault rifle from other types of rifles. However, this is merely my attempt to provide meaning to the term "assault rifle" or "assault weapon," based on why the MP-43 was renamed the Sturmgewehr, and why the Soviets were so enamored of the AK-47, and not on any historical usage of the term.

     In short, although the term appears to have been in use by the late-1970s or early 1980's, other than the dramatic naming of the STG-44, there is no identifiable military use of the term "assault rifle" as a special category of weapons with certain distinct characteristics. Nevertheless, I think the relevant discussion should not be whether the term "assault rifle" or "battle rifle" are proper terms or recognized by the military, but whether the terms are useful. "Battle rifle" may not be a "proper" military designation, but as long as there are certain characteristics that most everyone can agree on, it is a useful term. If someone refers to a "battle rifle," I know they are probably referring to a full-sized modern rifle shooting 7.62 NATO or something similar. ("Assault rifle" is much more nebulous and, therefore, less useful in my mind).

     In the survivalist literature of the early 1980's, the term "assault rifle" was used to designate a long arm particularly suited for combat or self-defense. That is, while any firearm can be pressed into service as a weapon, certain weapons possessed characteristics--such as being fed from detachable box magazines, semi-loading, and capable of sustained fire--that elevated them above a sporting firearm. These rifles were generally termed by the survivalist authors as "assault rifles," irrespective of whether the weapons were semi-automatic or select fire. Rifles such as the AR-15, AR-18, Mini-14 or other 5.56 mm rifles were often referred to as a "light" assault rifle, whereas the M-14, HK 91, or FAL were designated as "heavy" assault rifles.

     I believe that the negative connotation associated with the term "assault rifle" necessitates our abandoning it as a general reference to modern combat or defensive rifles, and limiting it to something similar to Williams' definition cited earlier. However, it is useful to distinguish a rifle suitable for combat or self-defense from other types of rifles. I suppose the term "combat rifle" is as good as any other. I think it is useful to distinguish the "light" rifles from those shooting "heavier" calibers because there are differing characteristics as to performance, weight, and so on, that can be generalized between the two types. (And perhaps we need a "medium" designation to account for the 7.62x39 and .300 Blackout). Moreover, I think it useful to distinguish not only "light" and "heavy," but also between a rifle for general combat, and those for urban combat/CQB. What we need are mutually agreeable terms for each of these catagories.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Frein Manhunt Turns Into Farce

I'm beginning to think that the officer(s) in charge of the manhunt for Eric Frein should be fired. The Daily Mail reports:
Police on Tuesday brought in an armored siege vehicle as the hunt for alleged cop killer Eric Frein moved into its 11th day. 
'The Rook,' described by its manufacturers as 'six tons of pure responsive force' will allow officers to shield themselves as they hunt for Frein in dense woodland in northeast Pennsylvania.
Awesome: The Rook, above, was seen being delivered today to authorities on the 11th day of the hunt for Frein
"The Rook"--For sneaking through the woods
According to the article:
The Rook is the latest piece of equipment to be brought in to try to find the missing man. Made by Ring Power, a company based in St. Augustine, Florida, the 13,000-pound tracked vehicle can punch holes in walls, remove cars and shield cops, and costs $245,000 and $445,000, depending on extras. 
On its website Ring Power describes the Rook as equipment for when law enforcement is facing 'the worst-case scenario,' such as a hostage rescue, barricaded suspects, riot scene or natural disaster.
(Underline added). They can also use it to get cats out of trees.

I wonder if the Pennsylvania State Police have noticed that this glorified forklift only protects them from someone to the front of the vehicle. It looks like a shooting gallery from the back.

Shield: This promotional image shows how men can be deployed at height using the extendable armored arm
If attacked from the rear, the officers would be trapped with no where to go.

Who Says Environmentalism Isn't A Religion

Embedded image permalink

I saw this photo at Weasel Zippers, taken at the global warming march this past weekend. It reminds me of the warnings in Leviticus 26.

Growing and Storing Tobacco

Being LDS, I don't use tobacco, but I thought those readers that use tobacco products might find the following interesting or useful.

Dirt Time posted an article in the last week or two suggesting tobacco as a good cash or barter crop, giving a source for heirloom seeds.

And today's post from Ol' Remus at the Woodpile Report discusses his success at vacuum packing pipe tobacco.

Max V Suggests Using "Rationalist" in lieu of "Survivalist" or "Prepper" ...

... due to the negative connotation given those latter terms by the media. He explains in this article.

Texas Independence Inevitable?

Scotland's bid for independence is a harbinger of the future. Niel Erwin writes in the New York Times:
When you get past the details of the Scottish independence referendum Thursday, there is a broader story underway, one that is also playing out in other advanced nations. 
It is a crisis of the elites. Scotland’s push for independence is driven by a conviction — one not ungrounded in reality — that the British ruling class has blundered through the last couple of decades. The same discontent applies to varying degrees in the United States and, especially, the eurozone. It is, in many ways, a defining feature of our time. 
The rise of Catalan would-be secessionists in Spain, the rise of parties of the far right in European countries as diverse as Greece and Sweden, and the Tea Party in the United States are all rooted in a sense that, having been granted vast control over the levers of power, the political elite across the advanced world have made a mess of things.
In the United States, trust in the federal government--particularly the legislative and executive branches--have fallen dramatically over the last several years. A recent Gallop poll showed that only 28% trust Congress, and 43 % trust the Executive Branch.  That is not the whole story, however. While distrust of Congress is fairly equal among all parties, trust in the Executive Branch is a different story. While 83% of Democrats trust the Executive Branch, only 37% of independents, and only a meager 13% do so.

What the secessionist movements seem to show is that people are less willing to attempt to work through the system to correct problems. The question is whether this "crises of the elites" will take place here in the United States. Daniel Miller, president of the Texas Nationalist Movement seems to think so. In this op-ed at CNBC he seems confident that a referendum on Texas independence is inevitable.

Related Posts: "The Great Unraveling and the Collapse of Complex Societies"; "Blogging 'The Collapse of Complex Societies' -- Part 4"

Ebola Outbreak May Be Worse Than Reported

The New York Times reports that fresh graves in Sierra Leone indicate that more people have died of Ebola than the Sierra Leone authorities report, or perhaps, even know about. Although authorities report only 10 Ebola related deaths, the Times article indicates that over 100 have been buried in just one cemetery. The article indicates:
Beyond the many worrisome trends in the Ebola epidemic seizing parts of West Africa — the overflowing hospitals, the presence of the disease in crowded cities, the deaths of scores of health workers trying to help — another basic problem has stymied attempts to contain the disease: No one seems to know how bad the outbreak really is. 
The World Health Organization acknowledged weeks ago that despite its efforts to tally the thousands of cases in the region, the official statistics probably “vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak.”
... But as the cemetery records show, the challenge facing the government might be of a different magnitude than previously thought. 
The majority of the recent deaths recorded at the cemetery were young people — young adults, people in early middle age, or children — with very few elderly people on the list. Several of the deaths also occurred in a concentrated area, sometimes in the same house, suggesting that a virulent infection had struck.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Really?

This is sort of humorous. From a Daily Mail article on the continued hunt for Eric Frein:
Police would not confirm or deny seeing Frein in a press conference this morning. [What? Frein may have been at the press conference?] Authorities have allegedly been authorized to use lethal force if Frein refused to surrender, according to Monroe County emergency radio reports.  
However, they did share pictures of an AK-47, believed to have been used or stored by Frein for his attack on a state police barracks in the Poconos Mountains.
Here is the photo:

Police found this AK-47-style rifle and magazines as they continue to hunt for cop-killer Eric Frein, 31, in the Poconos 
(The photo taken by police, so I don't know why the AP is claiming a copyright)
The story later states:
He 'doesn't miss,' the father told state police during a search of the family home, when he also disclosed that an AK-47 and a .308 rifle with a scope were missing. It is not clear which, if any, of these rifles was the gun found today.
(Emphasis added). I am going to hazard a guess--just a guess, mind you--that if Frein took an AK 47 style rifle and a scoped .308, and the police photo shows an AK 47 style rifle with no scope, rather than a .308 scoped rifle, that the police found the AK-47 style rifle.

Wagging the Dog

The U.S. has begun to conduct air strikes against ISIS in Syrian territory. However, while I agree that we need to deal with ISIS, it does not mean that I necessarily agree with how such a conflict is being conducted.

According to the New York Times:
The United States and allies launched airstrikes against Sunni militants in Syria early Tuesday, unleashing a torrent of cruise missiles and precision-guided bombs from the air and sea on the militants’ de facto capital of Raqqa and along the porous Iraq border. 
American fighter jets and armed Predator and Reaper drones, flying alongside warplanes from several Arab allies, struck a broad array of targets in territory controlled by the militants, known as the Islamic State. American defense officials said the targets included weapons supplies, depots, barracks and buildings the militants use for command and control. Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from United States Navy ships in the region.
All well and good. But then there is this:
In addition, Saudi Arabia recently agreed to a training facility for moderate members of the Syrian opposition, whom the United States hopes to train, equip and send back to Syria to fight both Mr. Assad and Islamic State militants.
... The airstrikes in Syria, so far, come without the benefit of a large ground force to capitalize on gains they make. While some Syrian opposition groups fighting the Islamic State militants may be able to move into a few cleared areas, administration officials acknowledged on Monday that it was doubtful that the Free Syrian Army, the opposition group most preferred by the United States, would be able to take control of major sections of Islamic State territory, at least not until it has been better trained — which will take place over the next year. 
That could leave the forces of Mr. Assad in perhaps the best position to take advantage of any American bombardment. An administration official on Monday acknowledged that that was a worry, but said, “We don’t plan to make it easy for Assad to reclaim territory.” He declined to say what methods the United States would use to prevent the Syrian leader from capitalizing on the American aerial bombardment.
In other words, Obama and the other progressives now have the war they wanted to launch against Syria--and just shortly before the November election, in time to boost Democratic poll numbers.

I've noted before my objections to this strategy: (1) we will simply be training ISIS's replacements; and (2) we will not be destroying the will of our enemies to fight. I am not the only one with these objections. Andrew McCarthy notes that ISIS displays the same behavior that we see from Saudi Arabia, which we would expect because it is home of the hateful Wahhabi  sect. McCarthy notes:
The Obama administration regards the Saudi government as America’s key partner in the fight against Islamic State jihadists. The increasingly delusional Secretary of State John Kerry reasons that this is because the fight is more ideological than military. Get it? The world’s leading propagators of the ideology that breeds violent jihad are our best asset in an ideological struggle against violent jihadists. 
Aloof as ever from irony, Mr. Kerry gave this assessment while visiting King Abdullah in Riyadh on, of all days, September 11 — the thirteenth anniversary of the day when 15 Saudis joined four other terrorists in mass-murdering nearly 3,000 Americans in furtherance of the Islamic-supremacist ideology on which they were reared. The 19 were, of course, members of al-Qaeda, the jihadist network sprung from Saudi Arabia and its fundamentalist “Wahhabi” Islam. 
Secretary Kerry and President Obama, like British prime minister David Cameron, insist that the Islamic State, an al-Qaeda-launched jihadist faction, is not Islamic. Evidently, this is owing to the terrorists’ savage tactics. In essence, however, they are the same tactics practiced by our “moderate Islamist” allies. 
Saudi Arabia is the cradle of Islam: the birthplace of Mohammed, the site of the Hijra by which Islam marks time — the migration from Mecca to Medina under siege by Mohammed and his followers. The Saudi king is formally known as the “Keeper of the Two Holy Mosques” (in Mecca and Medina); he is the guardian host of the Haj pilgrimage that Islam makes mandatory for able-bodied believers. The despotic Saudi kingdom is governed by Islamic law — sharia. No other law is deemed necessary and no contrary law is permissible. 
It is thus under the authority of sharia that the Saudis routinely behead prisoners.
 The more useful article on this topic, however, is that of Angelo Codevilla, who writes:
The American people’s reaction to Muslim thugs of the “Islamic State” ritually knifing off the heads of people who look like you and me boils down to “let’s destroy these bastards”—which is common sense. But our ruling class, from President Obama on the Left to The Wall Street Journal on the Right, take the public’s pressure to do this as another occasion for further indulging their longtime preferences, prejudices, and proclivities for half-measures in foreign affairs—the very things that have invited people from all over the planet to join hunting season on Americans. 
This indulgence so overwhelms our ruling class’s perception of reality that the recipes put forth by its several wings, little different from one another, are identical in the one essential respect: none of them involve any plans which, if carried out, would destroy the Islamic State, kill large numbers of the cut-throats, and discourage others from following in their footsteps. Hence, like the George W. Bush’s “war on terror” and for the same reasons, this exercise of our ruling class’s wisdom in foreign affairs will decrease respect for us while invigorating our enemies.
... Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA), a Marine veteran, objected: “We need to crush ISIS and not work on arming more Islamic radicals. Just what would arming these people accomplish?” To prevent massive numbers of Republican congressmen from joining this common-sense question, the House Armed Services Committee’s bill requires the administration to  answer it in a report to Congress some time in the future, but not now. The fact that the administration and the leaders of both parties—the ruling class—did not make reasoned answers to the key questions the primary premise of their request suggests not so much that they are hiding these answers from others as much as that they themselves have not addressed the questions.
 Read the whole thing.

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