Friday, October 31, 2014

"Kill Without Mercy, Party Like There's No Tomorrow"

The Daily Mail discusses a bit of the history of the British Small Scale Raiding Force (SSRF), operating under the aegis of the secretive Special Operations Executive, during WWII. The information seems to be from Churchill's Secret Warriors by Damien Lewis. The article describes the group thusly: "Often dosed up on powerful amphetamines, they were an eclectic, wildly unconventional bunch, one of whom favoured the bow-and-arrow as his weapon of choice." Anyway, an interesting read.


Link Between Weather/Climate and Strength of Earth's Magnetic Field?

Some thoughts from Anthony Watts at Watts Up With That. Briefly, he notes that El Nino and La Nina are driven by changes in ocean currents, but that the surface ocean currents are driven by changes to wind currents. Watts points out that there is a documented correlation between sunspot activity and El Nino, suggesting that a stronger solar wind may have some impact in changing wind patterns and, therefore, producing an El Nino event. He writes:
 I proposed that a major mechanism is the varying pressure of the Solar Wind on the magnetosphere, down through the layers to the atmosphere, where it causes changes in the major wind patterns. The mechanism has to accommodate two major wind situations. First, is the reversal of upper troposphere equatorial winds, second, is the change from Zonal to Meridional Flow in the Jet Stream. This is achieved if you consider the atmosphere as a bellows that expands and contracts with increasing and decreasing Solar wind pressure. It creates a push-pull effect that causes the weaker tropical winds to stop or reverse and the much stronger Jet Stream to switch between low amplitude Zonal Flow and high amplitude Meridional Flow.
 But, as Watts explains, that is only half of the puzzle. Solar particles are deflected by the Earth's magnetic field. Watts suggests that changes to the magnetic field--he focuses on strengthening and weakening but it would probably also extend to wandering of the magnetic poles--should also influence weather. His concern, however, is the weakening of the strength of the magnetic field as we approach a magnetic reversal and observes: "What happened to the weather during the reversals? Some researchers link them to dramatic weather pattern changes, but also to volcanic eruptions."

My summary does not do his article justice, so read the whole thing.

2013 World Disaster Report ...

... indicates that 2013 had the lowest number of catastrophes and deaths over the preceding 10 years. Deaths were less than 25% of average.

Ground Braking New Scope Technology

All About Outdoors reports on a new scope system that changes magnification by altering the shape of the lenses, much like the human eye works. From the article:
The first major change to rifle scope optics technology in more than a century may very well be one of the most important things to hit the shooting world in ages. 
Sandia National Laboratory has developed a variable power rifle scope that changes magnification by changing the shape of lenses, rather than moving the lenses. This mimics the way our eyes change focus, requires very little power, and can be operated by pushbuttons – so you can zoom in or out without moving your eye, gun, or hand out of shooting position. 
Like so many other firearms-related developments, it came as a result of military desires. Taking one’s hand off of a rifle to change magnification slows down a shooter’s response time and may make him vulnerable to enemy fire. Sandia’s new RAZAR (Rapid Adaptive Zoom for Assault Rifles) was created as an answer to that problem, and it appears to have great promise. 
The system is very power-efficient, and will produce 10,000 actuations on a pair of AA batteries. It’s also very fast, requiring only about 1/4 of a second to change magnification.


Making a Grow Heap

Posted last year at the Harried Homemaker blog is an idea for using a "grow heap" to grow squash. She explains:
...  A Grow Heap is basically a giant compost pile that you create in the fall. You can either nestle transplants in the heap in the spring, or simply bury open-pollinated (remember - hybrids will not reproduce true) squash in the compost in the fall. The squash itself will decay into the pile during the winter, but the seeds will sprout in the spring. 
...  When we started to clear our garden of summer annuals as the first frost became imminent, we carried the garden waste over to a 12' x 4' spot that is contiguous to our sunflower patch. We layered brown materials (such as completely dried leaves and sunflower stalks) with luscious green materials (basil, marigolds, borage, comfrey, etc.). We made sure not to remove too much dirt from the roots of the plants we pulled out of the garden because, according to Barbara's book, The Complete Compost Gardening Guide, it is best to have about 20% of your pile consist of soil because it will help keep the plants from wilting under water stress. We did not include any plants from the Cucubit family (cucumbers, watermelon, squash, etc.) in the pile because we do not want to introduce any diseases that could affect next year's pumpkin crop.  
We also had two compost bins of semi-composted rabbit manure and chicken litter available. We dumped that over the top of the Grow Heap. At that point, the pile stood about 2-1/2 feet tall. 
...  We plan to add yet more to the Grow Heap as fall progresses. We will add a couple bags of shredded leaves and grass clippings plus the remains of the hardy garden plants (cabbage, chard) when we pull them out.  The Grow Heap will be reduced in height by half when spring comes around, so it is good to make the pile large to begin with.We'll start pumpkin seedlings indoors sometime in April, and plant them in the heap in mid to late May. I'm hopeful that we'll get the biggest pumpkin crop we've ever had.

Water Storage Infographic

What to Know When Storing Water
(Source)

Continuity of Government Concerns

I have noted before that in reviewing how the government responds to large disaster, the single, overriding concern is "continuity of government"--survival of the political structure--over saving lives, rebuilding infrastructure, etc. This is, to a large extent, driven by an unsubstantiated fear that people will panic, form mobs, and the whole system will self-destruct. The federal government believes in the "golden horde" more strongly and deeply than any survivalist.

It was this attitude that resulted in mercenaries and combat troops being sent into New Orleans following Katrina before Red Cross workers or food and water. And we are seeing the same attitude infecting the response to the Ebola outbreak in Africa. Case in point, even as the Pentagon is requesting further research concerning Ebola's ability to spread through the air, given the paucity of information on that issue, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have removed all reference to possible spread of Ebola from coughing and sneezing from its FAQ web-site.

Related Post: "Elite Panic"

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Kaci Hickox's Quarantine Makes Perfect Sense

          Kaci Hickox, as you probably know, is the nurse that had been treating Ebola patients in Africa, and upon arrival back in New Jersey on October 24, was quarantined. She was released from that quarantine after a few days, on October 27, returned to her home in Maine, and placed under quarantine again--one which she has defied by leaving her house. Hickox is complaining that the quarantine violates her civil rights and that it is unnecessary.

         Hickox makes two arguments for not needing quarantine. First, while in New Jersey, she twice tested negative for Ebola. However, this is inconclusive since, as this article from Vanity Fair indicates:
When Ebola strikes, it kills quickly, but it can take up to three weeks to incubate, and usually around 10 days. The period is long enough that contact with a possible source may have been forgotten, and long enough for infected people to travel without symptoms. And even if you tested for Ebola—which nobody in Guinea had the capacity to do—you wouldn’t find it during the incubation period: Ebola can’t be detected in the blood until symptoms show. An epidemic can start slowly and go unnoticed for weeks.  ...
(Underline mine). In other words, until she becomes symptomatic, it may not be possible to detect the Ebola; but she may not become symptomatic for up to 21 days. That is why she needs to stay in quarantine.

        Her second argument is that she cannot, as she alleges, spread Ebola through simple contact. "'You could hug me, you could shake my hand [and] I would not give you Ebola,' she said." Unless she coughed or sneezed into her hand, or had bodily fluids get on her clothes. How does she think colds and the flu spread?

A Few from Gabe Suarez

"Shoot Them In the Face!"--explaining why you should train to take the head shot.

"Pistol Mounted Lights" and "Some Thoughts on Night Vision, RMRs, and Tritium" -- discussing the advantages of a red dot sight over lasers, and why you don't always need, or want, a flashlight mounted on your pistol.

Ebola Update Oct. 30, 2014 (Updated)

The primary developments over the last couple of days is a concession that Ebola may be spread more easily than believed.

A few days ago, people started to notice a government solicitation that admitted that Ebola could be transmitted through the air, and survive on surfaces for longer than previously admitted. From the WND story:
The document was released in a federal government announcement seeking research proposals from private firms for Ebola treatment and diagnosis tools, including for the rapid disinfection of an “aerosol” version of the virus. 
The announcement indicates that despite its public pronouncements to the contrary, the government is concerned the virus can spread through the air via vaporized bodily fluids. 
There has been fear a patient can potentially self-vaporize Ebola through a strong sneeze, projectile vomiting or the flushing of a toilet. 
The information was contained in a 33-page report released Oct. 24 by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the Department of Defense’s Combat Support Agency for countering weapons of mass destruction. 
The agency report states “preliminary studies indicate that Ebola is aerostable in an enclosed controlled system in the dark and can survive for long periods in different liquid media and can also be recovered from plastic and glass surfaces at low temperatures for over 3 weeks.” 
The report says the government is seeking technologies for the “rapid disinfection” of Ebola, including an aerosol version of the virus. 
“The technology must prove effective against viral contamination either deposited as an aerosol or heavy contaminated combined with body fluids,” reads the solicitation document. 
The document further states Ebola “can survive for long periods in different liquid media and can also be recovered from plastic and glass surfaces at low temperatures for over 3 weeks.”
Yesterday, the CDC admitted that Ebola could be transmitted through droplets from an infected person's sneeze. From the New York Post:
Ebola is a lot easier to catch than health officials have admitted — and can be contracted by contact with a doorknob contaminated by a sneeze from an infected person an hour or more before, experts told The Post Tuesday. 
“If you are sniffling and sneezing, you produce microorganisms that can get on stuff in a room. If people touch them, they could be” infected, said Dr. Meryl Nass, of the Institute for Public Accuracy in Washington, DC. 
Nass pointed to a poster the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quietly released on its Web site saying the deadly virus can be spread through “droplets.” 
“Droplet spread happens when germs traveling inside droplets that are coughed or sneezed from a sick person enter the eyes, nose or mouth of another person,” the poster states.
The New York Times reports that you could get infected from a toilet seat or from bodily fluids attaching to your shoes--that removing foot coverings is the most dangerous part of changing out of protective gear.

NJ.com reports:
Dr. Beutler, an American medical doctor and researcher, won the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology in 2011 for his work researching the cellular subsystem of the body’s overall immune system — the part of it that defends the body from infection by other organisms, like Ebola. 
He is currently the Director of the Center for the Genetics of Host Defense at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas — the first U.S. city to treat an Ebola patient and also the first to watch one die from the virus. In an exclusive interview with NJ Advance Media, Beutler reviewed Christie’s new policy of mandatory quarantine for all health care workers exposed to Ebola, and declared: “I favor it.”
Unfortunately, while the doctor’s support might provide much-needed credibility for Christie as he threatens to quarantine ever more healthcare workers returning from the Ebola fight in West Africa, it also comes with some chilling words.
 
“I favor it, because it’s not entirely clear that they can’t transmit the disease,” Beutler said, referring to asymptomatic healthcare workers like Kaci Hickox, a Doctors Without Borders nurse returning from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone who was quarantined in New Jersey for 65 hours before being transported to her home state of Maine on Monday afternoon.  
“It may not be absolutely true that those without symptoms can’t transmit the disease, because we don’t have the numbers to back that up,” said Beutler, “It could be people develop significant viremia [where viruses enter the bloodstream and gain access to the rest of the body], and become able to transmit the disease before they have a fever, even. People may have said that without symptoms you can’t transmit Ebola. I’m not sure about that being 100 percent true. There’s a lot of variation with viruses.” 
In fact, in a study published online in late September by the New England Journal of Medicine and backed by the World Health Organization, 3,343 confirmed and 667 probable cases of Ebola were analyzed, and nearly 13 percent of the time, those infected with Ebola exhibited no fever at all. 
Why, then, does he think the CDC would so emphasize Ebola is not communicable in patients without symptoms? 
“There’s some imperative to prevent panic among the public,” says Dr. Beutler, “But to be honest, people have not examined that with transmissibility in mind. I don’t completely trust people who’d say that as dogma.”
The Associated Press published an article explaining why the U.S. health care system would be overwhelmed by even a small outbreak in the United States. The Daily Mail reports that China is also susceptible to a significant outbreak, stating:
A scientist who helped to discover the Ebola virus says he is concerned the disease could spread to China given the large numbers of Chinese workers traveling to and from Africa. 
Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said on Thursday the scenario of the deadly virus reaching China was 'not rocket science.'
'The concern I have is that I don't think you can really stop people from traveling. These patients will show up in any country in the world, but China is quite vulnerable,' Piot said.
 
'The issue is: "What is the quality, the standard of infection control?" In public hospitals in China, the ones that I've visited, the level of infection control is very poor,' he said.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ebola Update--Oct. 28, 2014

Last week I discussed how the Ebola numbers coming out of Africa were b.s. Today, the Associated Press reports:
Authorities are having trouble figuring out how many more people are getting Ebola in Liberia and Sierra Leone and where the hot spots are in those countries, harming efforts to get control of the raging, deadly outbreak, the U.N.'s top Ebola official in West Africa said Tuesday. 
"The challenge is good information, because information helps tell us where the disease is, how it's spreading and where we need to target our resources," Anthony Banbury told The Associated Press by phone from the Ghanaian capital of Accra, where the U.N. Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, or UNMEER, is based. 
Health experts say the key to stopping Ebola is breaking the chain of transmission by tracing and isolating those who have had contact with Ebola patients or victims. Health care workers can't do that if they don't know where new cases are emerging. 
"And unfortunately, we don't have good data from a lot of areas. We don't know exactly what is happening," said Banbury, the chief of UNMEER.
(H/t Raconteur Report).

I also found this insight from the SNAFU Blog to be thought provoking, as he contemplates why the 101st Airborne is being deployed to West Africa, but not a Navy hospital ship:

 If Ebola is not the issue that I believe it to be then why aren't we seeing [the hospital ships] activated for the mission in West Africa?   
How could it help?  You would get 1000 medical beds as soon as it arrived on scene.  You would get almost a battalions worth of medical personnel when it pulled into dock. 
Instead we have the 101st Airborne being tasked.  Why?  Simple.  Because the real threat is that these countries are on the verge of falling apart.  Ebola is a killer but the old ones are coming around the corner.  Famine.  Crops are failing and when you can't farm, people turn to bushmeat.  That simply means they're going to go out hunting wildlife. That means Ebola is going to spread even more (bushmeat is suspected as the source of this disease).  Mass migration.  People are going to move when they sense that the danger is out of control.  That means that people will cross borders which will further spread the contagion.  Last is what we're seeing now but no one is talking about.  The break down of social order.
Finally, read this post from the Raconteur Report on why you won't be able to treat Ebola at home.

The Most Stunning News Story of the Year

The United States government not only spied on reporter Sharyl Attkisson by hacking her computer, but it planted classified documents on her computer--probably with the intent of later prosecuting her for possessing the documents. (See also here).

A Time to Choose




Fifty years ago, Ronald Reagan made a great speech warning America of its two choices. Unfortunately, America chose poorly. Text of the speech:

A TIME FOR CHOOSING (The Speech – October 27, 1964)

       Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you and good evening. The sponsor has been identified, but unlike most television programs, the performer hasn't been provided with a script. As a matter of fact, I have been permitted to choose my own words and discuss my own ideas regarding the choice that we face in the next few weeks. 

       I have spent most of my life as a Democrat. I recently have seen fit to follow another course. I believe that the issues confronting us cross party lines. Now, one side in this campaign has been telling us that the issues of this election are the maintenance of peace and prosperity. The line has been used, "We've never had it so good." 

       But I have an uncomfortable feeling that this prosperity isn't something on which we can base our hopes for the future. No nation in history has ever survived a tax burden that reached a third of its national income. Today, 37 cents out of every dollar earned in this country is the tax collector's share, and yet our government continues to spend 17 million dollars a day more than the government takes in. We haven't balanced our budget 28 out of the last 34 years. We've raised our debt limit three times in the last twelve months, and now our national debt is one and a half times bigger than all the combined debts of all the nations of the world. We have 15 billion dollars in gold in our treasury; we don't own an ounce. Foreign dollar claims are 27.3 billion dollars. And we've just had announced that the dollar of 1939 will now purchase 45 cents in its total value. 

       As for the peace that we would preserve, I wonder who among us would like to approach the wife or mother whose husband or son has died in South Vietnam and ask them if they think this is a peace that should be maintained indefinitely. Do they mean peace, or do they mean we just want to be left in peace? There can be no real peace while one American is dying some place in the world for the rest of us. We're at war with the most dangerous enemy that has ever faced mankind in his long climb from the swamp to the stars, and it's been said if we lose that war, and in so doing lose this way of freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening. Well I think it's time we ask ourselves if we still know the freedoms that were intended for us by the Founding Fathers. 

       Not too long ago, two friends of mine were talking to a Cuban refugee, a businessman who had escaped from Castro, and in the midst of his story one of my friends turned to the other and said, "We don't know how lucky we are." And the Cuban stopped and said, "How lucky you are? I had someplace to escape to." And in that sentence he told us the entire story. If we lose freedom here, there's no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth. 

       And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except the sovereign people, is still the newest and the most unique idea in all the long history of man's relation to man. 

       This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves. 

        You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I'd like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There's only an up or down—[up] man's old—old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course. 

       In this vote-harvesting time, they use terms like the "Great Society," or as we were told a few days ago by the President, we must accept a greater government activity in the affairs of the people. But they've been a little more explicit in the past and among themselves; and all of the things I now will quote have appeared in print. These are not Republican accusations. For example, they have voices that say, "The cold war will end through our acceptance of a not undemocratic socialism." Another voice says, "The profit motive has become outmoded. It must be replaced by the incentives of the welfare state." Or, "Our traditional system of individual freedom is incapable of solving the complex problems of the 20th century." Senator Fullbright has said at Stanford University that the Constitution is outmoded. He referred to the President as "our moral teacher and our leader," and he says he is "hobbled in his task by the restrictions of power imposed on him by this antiquated document." He must "be freed," so that he "can do for us" what he knows "is best." And Senator Clark of Pennsylvania, another articulate spokesman, defines liberalism as "meeting the material needs of the masses through the full power of centralized government." 

       Well, I, for one, resent it when a representative of the people refers to you and me, the free men and women of this country, as "the masses." This is a term we haven't applied to ourselves in America. But beyond that, "the full power of centralized government"—this was the very thing the Founding Fathers sought to minimize. They knew that governments don't control things. A government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they know when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. They also knew, those Founding Fathers, that outside of its legitimate functions, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector of the economy. 

       Now, we have no better example of this than government's involvement in the farm economy over the last 30 years. Since 1955, the cost of this program has nearly doubled. One-fourth of farming in America is responsible for 85 percent of the farm surplus. Three-fourths of farming is out on the free market and has known a 21 percent increase in the per capita consumption of all its produce. You see, that one-fourth of farming—that's regulated and controlled by the federal government. In the last three years we've spent 43 dollars in the feed grain program for every dollar bushel of corn we don't grow. 

       Senator Humphrey last week charged that Barry Goldwater, as President, would seek to eliminate farmers. He should do his homework a little better, because he'll find out that we've had a decline of 5 million in the farm population under these government programs. He'll also find that the Democratic administration has sought to get from Congress [an] extension of the farm program to include that three-fourths that is now free. He'll find that they've also asked for the right to imprison farmers who wouldn't keep books as prescribed by the federal government. The Secretary of Agriculture asked for the right to seize farms through condemnation and resell them to other individuals. And contained in that same program was a provision that would have allowed the federal government to remove 2 million farmers from the soil. 

       At the same time, there's been an increase in the Department of Agriculture employees. There's now one for every 30 farms in the United States, and still they can't tell us how 66 shiploads of grain headed for Austria disappeared without a trace and Billie Sol Estes never left shore. 

       Every responsible farmer and farm organization has repeatedly asked the government to free the farm economy, but how—who are farmers to know what's best for them? The wheat farmers voted against a wheat program. The government passed it anyway. Now the price of bread goes up; the price of wheat to the farmer goes down. 

       Meanwhile, back in the city, under urban renewal the assault on freedom carries on. Private property rights [are] so diluted that public interest is almost anything a few government planners decide it should be. In a program that takes from the needy and gives to the greedy, we see such spectacles as in Cleveland, Ohio, a million-and-a-half-dollar building completed only three years ago must be destroyed to make way for what government officials call a "more compatible use of the land." The President tells us he's now going to start building public housing units in the thousands, where heretofore we've only built them in the hundreds. But FHA [Federal Housing Authority] and the Veterans Administration tell us they have 120,000 housing units they've taken back through mortgage foreclosure. For three decades, we've sought to solve the problems of unemployment through government planning, and the more the plans fail, the more the planners plan. The latest is the Area Redevelopment Agency. 

       They've just declared Rice County, Kansas, a depressed area. Rice County, Kansas, has two hundred oil wells, and the 14,000 people there have over 30 million dollars on deposit in personal savings in their banks. And when the government tells you you're depressed, lie down and be depressed. 

        We have so many people who can't see a fat man standing beside a thin one without coming to the conclusion the fat man got that way by taking advantage of the thin one. So they're going to solve all the problems of human misery through government and government planning. Well, now, if government planning and welfare had the answer—and they've had almost 30 years of it—shouldn't we expect government to read the score to us once in a while? Shouldn't they be telling us about the decline each year in the number of people needing help? The reduction in the need for public housing? 

       But the reverse is true. Each year the need grows greater; the program grows greater. We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry each night. Well that was probably true. They were all on a diet. But now we're told that 9.3 million families in this country are poverty-stricken on the basis of earning less than 3,000 dollars a year. Welfare spending [is] 10 times greater than in the dark depths of the Depression. We're spending 45 billion dollars on welfare. Now do a little arithmetic, and you'll find that if we divided the 45 billion dollars up equally among those 9 million poor families, we'd be able to give each family 4,600 dollars a year. And this added to their present income should eliminate poverty. Direct aid to the poor, however, is only running only about 600 dollars per family. It would seem that someplace there must be some overhead. 

       Now—so now we declare "war on poverty," or "You, too, can be a Bobby Baker." Now do they honestly expect us to believe that if we add 1 billion dollars to the 45 billion we're spending, one more program to the 30-odd we have—and remember, this new program doesn't replace any, it just duplicates existing programs—do they believe that poverty is suddenly going to disappear by magic? Well, in all fairness I should explain there is one part of the new program that isn't duplicated. This is the youth feature. We're now going to solve the dropout problem, juvenile delinquency, by reinstituting something like the old CCC camps [Civilian Conservation Corps], and we're going to put our young people in these camps. But again we do some arithmetic, and we find that we're going to spend each year just on room and board for each young person we help 4,700 dollars a year. We can send them to Harvard for 2,700! Course, don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting Harvard is the answer to juvenile delinquency. 

       But seriously, what are we doing to those we seek to help? Not too long ago, a judge called me here in Los Angeles. He told me of a young woman who'd come before him for a divorce. She had six children, was pregnant with her seventh. Under his questioning, she revealed her husband was a laborer earning 250 dollars a month. She wanted a divorce to get an 80 dollar raise. She's eligible for 330 dollars a month in the Aid to Dependent Children Program. She got the idea from two women in her neighborhood who'd already done that very thing. 

       Yet anytime you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we're denounced as being against their humanitarian goals. They say we're always "against" things—we're never "for" anything. 

       Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so. 

       Now—we're for a provision that destitution should not follow unemployment by reason of old age, and to that end we've accepted Social Security as a step toward meeting the problem. 

       But we're against those entrusted with this program when they practice deception regarding its fiscal shortcomings, when they charge that any criticism of the program means that we want to end payments to those people who depend on them for a livelihood. They've called it "insurance" to us in a hundred million pieces of literature. But then they appeared before the Supreme Court and they testified it was a welfare program. They only use the term "insurance" to sell it to the people. And they said Social Security dues are a tax for the general use of the government, and the government has used that tax. There is no fund, because Robert Byers, the actuarial head, appeared before a congressional committee and admitted that Social Security as of this moment is 298 billion dollars in the hole. But he said there should be no cause for worry because as long as they have the power to tax, they could always take away from the people whatever they needed to bail them out of trouble. And they're doing just that. 

       A young man, 21 years of age, working at an average salary—his Social Security contribution would, in the open market, buy him an insurance policy that would guarantee 220 dollars a month at age 65. The government promises 127. He could live it up until he's 31 and then take out a policy that would pay more than Social Security. Now are we so lacking in business sense that we can't put this program on a sound basis, so that people who do require those payments will find they can get them when they're due—that the cupboard isn't bare? 

       Barry Goldwater thinks we can. 

       At the same time, can't we introduce voluntary features that would permit a citizen who can do better on his own to be excused upon presentation of evidence that he had made provision for the non-earning years? Should we not allow a widow with children to work, and not lose the benefits supposedly paid for by her deceased husband? Shouldn't you and I be allowed to declare who our beneficiaries will be under this program, which we cannot do? I think we're for telling our senior citizens that no one in this country should be denied medical care because of a lack of funds. But I think we're against forcing all citizens, regardless of need, into a compulsory government program, especially when we have such examples, as was announced last week, when France admitted that their Medicare program is now bankrupt. They've come to the end of the road. 

       In addition, was Barry Goldwater so irresponsible when he suggested that our government give up its program of deliberate, planned inflation, so that when you do get your Social Security pension, a dollar will buy a dollar's worth, and not 45 cents worth? 

       I think we're for an international organization, where the nations of the world can seek peace. But I think we're against subordinating American interests to an organization that has become so structurally unsound that today you can muster a two-thirds vote on the floor of the General Assembly among nations that represent less than 10 percent of the world's population. I think we're against the hypocrisy of assailing our allies because here and there they cling to a colony, while we engage in a conspiracy of silence and never open our mouths about the millions of people enslaved in the Soviet colonies in the satellite nations. 

       I think we're for aiding our allies by sharing of our material blessings with those nations which share in our fundamental beliefs, but we're against doling out money government to government, creating bureaucracy, if not socialism, all over the world. We set out to help 19 countries. We're helping 107. We've spent 146 billion dollars. With that money, we bought a 2 million dollar yacht for Haile Selassie. We bought dress suits for Greek undertakers, extra wives for Kenya[n] government officials. We bought a thousand TV sets for a place where they have no electricity. In the last six years, 52 nations have bought 7 billion dollars worth of our gold, and all 52 are receiving foreign aid from this country. 

       No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. So governments' programs, once launched, never disappear. 

       Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth. 

       Federal employees—federal employees number two and a half million; and federal, state, and local, one out of six of the nation's work force employed by government. These proliferating bureaus with their thousands of regulations have cost us many of our constitutional safeguards. How many of us realize that today federal agents can invade a man's property without a warrant? They can impose a fine without a formal hearing, let alone a trial by jury? And they can seize and sell his property at auction to enforce the payment of that fine. In Chico County, Arkansas, James Wier over-planted his rice allotment. The government obtained a 17,000 dollar judgment. And a U.S. marshal sold his 960-acre farm at auction. The government said it was necessary as a warning to others to make the system work. 

       Last February 19th at the University of Minnesota, Norman Thomas, six-times candidate for President on the Socialist Party ticket, said, "If Barry Goldwater became President, he would stop the advance of socialism in the United States." I think that's exactly what he will do. 

       But as a former Democrat, I can tell you Norman Thomas isn't the only man who has drawn this parallel to socialism with the present administration, because back in 1936, Mr. Democrat himself, Al Smith, the great American, came before the American people and charged that the leadership of his Party was taking the Party of Jefferson, Jackson, and Cleveland down the road under the banners of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin. And he walked away from his Party, and he never returned til the day he died—because to this day, the leadership of that Party has been taking that Party, that honorable Party, down the road in the image of the labor Socialist Party of England. 

       Now it doesn't require expropriation or confiscation of private property or business to impose socialism on a people. What does it mean whether you hold the deed to the—or the title to your business or property if the government holds the power of life and death over that business or property? And such machinery already exists. The government can find some charge to bring against any concern it chooses to prosecute. Every businessman has his own tale of harassment. Somewhere a perversion has taken place. Our natural, unalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation of government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment. 

       Our Democratic opponents seem unwilling to debate these issues. They want to make you and I believe that this is a contest between two men—that we're to choose just between two personalities. 

       Well what of this man that they would destroy—and in destroying, they would destroy that which he represents, the ideas that you and I hold dear? Is he the brash and shallow and trigger-happy man they say he is? Well I've been privileged to know him "when." I knew him long before he ever dreamed of trying for high office, and I can tell you personally I've never known a man in my life I believed so incapable of doing a dishonest or dishonorable thing. 

       This is a man who, in his own business before he entered politics, instituted a profit-sharing plan before unions had ever thought of it. He put in health and medical insurance for all his employees. He took 50 percent of the profits before taxes and set up a retirement program, a pension plan for all his employees. He sent monthly checks for life to an employee who was ill and couldn't work. He provides nursing care for the children of mothers who work in the stores. When Mexico was ravaged by the floods in the Rio Grande, he climbed in his airplane and flew medicine and supplies down there. 

       An ex-GI told me how he met him. It was the week before Christmas during the Korean War, and he was at the Los Angeles airport trying to get a ride home to Arizona for Christmas. And he said that [there were] a lot of servicemen there and no seats available on the planes. And then a voice came over the loudspeaker and said, "Any men in uniform wanting a ride to Arizona, go to runway such-and-such," and they went down there, and there was a fellow named Barry Goldwater sitting in his plane. Every day in those weeks before Christmas, all day long, he'd load up the plane, fly it to Arizona, fly them to their homes, fly back over to get another load. 

       During the hectic split-second timing of a campaign, this is a man who took time out to sit beside an old friend who was dying of cancer. His campaign managers were understandably impatient, but he said, "There aren't many left who care what happens to her. I'd like her to know I care." This is a man who said to his 19-year-old son, "There is no foundation like the rock of honesty and fairness, and when you begin to build your life on that rock, with the cement of the faith in God that you have, then you have a real start." This is not a man who could carelessly send other people's sons to war. And that is the issue of this campaign that makes all the other problems I've discussed academic, unless we realize we're in a war that must be won. 

       Those who would trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state have told us they have a utopian solution of peace without victory. They call their policy "accommodation." And they say if we'll only avoid any direct confrontation with the enemy, he'll forget his evil ways and learn to love us. All who oppose them are indicted as warmongers. They say we offer simple answers to complex problems. Well, perhaps there is a simple answer—not an easy answer—but simple: If you and I have the courage to tell our elected officials that we want our national policy based on what we know in our hearts is morally right. 

       We cannot buy our security, our freedom from the threat of the bomb by committing an immorality so great as saying to a billion human beings now enslaved behind the Iron Curtain, "Give up your dreams of freedom because to save our own skins, we're willing to make a deal with your slave masters." Alexander Hamilton said, "A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one." Now let's set the record straight. There's no argument over the choice between peace and war, but there's only one guaranteed way you can have peace—and you can have it in the next second—surrender. 

       Admittedly, there's a risk in any course we follow other than this, but every lesson of history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement, and this is the specter our well-meaning liberal friends refuse to face—that their policy of accommodation is appeasement, and it gives no choice between peace and war, only between fight or surrender. If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand—the ultimatum. And what then—when Nikita Khrushchev has told his people he knows what our answer will be? He has told them that we're retreating under the pressure of the Cold War, and someday when the time comes to deliver the final ultimatum, our surrender will be voluntary, because by that time we will have been weakened from within spiritually, morally, and economically. He believes this because from our side he's heard voices pleading for "peace at any price" or "better Red than dead," or as one commentator put it, he'd rather "live on his knees than die on his feet." And therein lies the road to war, because those voices don't speak for the rest of us. 

       You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing in life is worth dying for, when did this begin—just in the face of this enemy? Or should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard 'round the world? The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn't die in vain. Where, then, is the road to peace? Well it's a simple answer after all. 

       You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, "There is a price we will not pay." "There is a point beyond which they must not advance." And this—this is the meaning in the phrase of Barry Goldwater's "peace through strength." Winston Churchill said, "The destiny of man is not measured by material computations. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we're spirits—not animals." And he said, "There's something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty." 

       You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. 

       We'll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we'll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness. 

       We will keep in mind and remember that Barry Goldwater has faith in us. He has faith that you and I have the ability and the dignity and the right to make our own decisions and determine our own destiny. 

       Thank you very much.


What do I mean by America chose poorly. I think this op-ed from David Solway sums it up pretty well. He writes, in part:
       With few exceptions, one cannot open a newspaper or watch a television newscast or talk show or go to a Hollywood movie or attend a university humanities class without coming across instances of pure apocrypha. Whether we are informed that jihadist attacks have nothing to do with jihad; that Islam with its historic toll of 270 million deaths is a religion of peace; that university campuses across North America are crawling with student rapists; that marital violence is always initiated by men; that all cultures enjoy equivalent status despite their human rights records; that truth is no defense against charges of “hate speech”; that criminals have every right to sue their resistant victims; that citizens can be legitimately hauled into court for defending themselves; that the earth is heating up; that costly, draconian measures are necessary to reduce our “carbon footprint”; that exorbitant and ineffectual green energy installations are preferable to cheap and plentiful standard sources; that rejecting ID requirements, that is, what every sensible person knows is an attempt to facilitate electoral fraud, is really a way of ensuring minority voting rights; that Third World peoples are invariably the casualties of Western depredations and are themselves innocent of wrongdoing; or that Western democracies are morally obliged to make reparations to the rest of the world—in every case we are being indoctrinated to embrace manifest lies, evasions and grotesqueries that render us prey to a destructive ideology of guilt, fear, and self-contempt. We are denizens of a postmodern era in which the distinction between good and evil, right and wrong, truth and falsehood, noble and ignoble has been generally annulled—or selectively manipulated, chiefly by the left, in the interests of an ideological program. 
       To put it bluntly, we in the West are now living in a cognitive pseudo-world of contrafactual beliefs and specious assertions of Orwellian dimensions, prompted by ignorance, the denaturing of language and the marasmus of mind — a world in which everyone is regarded as equal but some are less equal than others. Truth-tellers are less equal than professional liars, white people are less equal than colored people, men are less equal than women, Christians and Jews are less equal than Muslims, capitalists are less equal than socialists, nationals are less equal than immigrants, in particular Muslim immigrants — the list goes on. What is happening is truly astonishing and almost impossible to believe, for what we are experiencing is a cultural pathology on a global scale, a spreading and apparently unstoppable plague of sociopolitical ebola willingly contracted. 
       It is indeed a disheartening spectacle: a great civilization, centered in Europe and ramifying into North America, rapidly imploding, opening the gates to those who will destroy it while eating itself up from inside, with no assurance that this process of self-immolation can be reversed. Europe may already be lost, subject to failing socialist economies, sub-replacement fertility rates, a top-down unelected transnational governing body that has arrogated autocratic powers to itself, the re-emergence of a vicious anti-Semitism, and exploding Islamic demographics. It is a continent busy jettisoning its Judeo-Hellenic-Christian inheritance, millennia in the making, a mere century or even decades in the dismantling. Failing the rise of strong conservative parties, citizen retrenchment and the political courage and insight exemplified by figures like Geert Wilders, it is only a matter of time before the Islamization and nannification of Europe, working in tandem, bring down the curtain. Sad to say, but there is, barring a miracle, probably no turning back for a continent betrayed by its leaders and populated by ruminants. “Europe,” laments Caroline Glick in a devastating indictment of the continent’s “downward spiral” and intellectual truancy, “is abandoning the ideals of the Enlightenment, and embracing authoritarianism and irrationality.” 
       As for North America, its situation is not appreciably better.  ...

Monday, October 27, 2014

Experts Predict Over 90,000 Deaths in Monrovia, Liberia, Alone

Apparently from a Lancet news item from last week:

A large influx of international aid is needed, and soon, if West Africa is to avoid tens of thousands of deaths from the widening Ebola crisis, a team of Yale University researchers predict. 
Using a specially designed mathematical model, the researchers looked at the possible future of the outbreak in just one densely populated county of hard-hit Liberia -- Montserrado County, home to the capital city of Monrovia. 
The researchers said that if international aid isn't delivered to Liberia in sufficient time and quantity, by Dec. 15 Montserrado County will have more than 170,000 cases of Ebola -- 12 percent of its population -- and more than 90,000 deaths.

How the Obama Administration Is Encouraging the Spread of Ebola

From Alec Rawls, guest posting at Watts Up With That:
An example of something that creates an undesirable “positive atmospheric pressure” in the Ebola hot-zone is the promise that CDC Director Tom Frieden issued last week, telling the world that if anyone arrives at a major American airport with history or symptoms that indicate possible Ebola infection they will be whisked straight to the hospital, providing the strongest possible incentive for people who think they might be infected to come here for treatment. (This incentive can also be described as the creation of negative atmospheric pressure in the United States because the flux direction depends on position.) 
At the same time, Frieden insists that travel from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone to the United States should remain unrestricted, providing opportunity as well as incentive for hot-zone residents to flee here. ... 
This funneling of hot-zone travelers through screening here in the U.S. was just made mandatory, guaranteeing care to the possibly infected. The resulting outward pressure—motivating infected people to move to a previously uninfected continent—will spread the infection, not contain it. Set aside that the CDC is supposed to give priority to American lives and should first and foremost work to keep Ebola from coming here, intercontinental spread of Ebola is a disaster for the whole world. Each breach of containment endangers everyone everywhere.
Read the whole thing.

What Scares an ER Doctor

Not just an outbreak of Ebola in the United States, but any other virulent disease such as the Spanish flu. From Louis M. Profeta MD, writing at Linked In:
Some years ago when I first started in practice, a very large hospital in our area was having trouble getting patients rapidly admitted from the ER to the floors. This resulted in a tremendous backlog of patients and extreme ER overcrowding. This naturally increased patient wait times and directly impacted the health of those coming to the ER. So, naturally, the hospital system formed a committee and hired consultants. They looked at every single variable: time to laboratory, time to X-ray, nursing changeover, bed request time and on and on and on. Do you know what they found? The roadblock in the movement of patients through this major medical system was housekeeping. Think about that. Housekeepers, traditionally the lowest paid and least-skilled division of employment of the hospital, were responsible for the movement and throughput of patients more than any other factor. 
If the rooms on the floor were not cleaned fast enough, then no patients could move from the ER to the floor, and no patients from the waiting room to the ER. ER wait times rose and patient care suffered. Housekeepers handcuffed the entire system, and not because they were lazy. The regulations, protocols and procedures put into place to clean a room are so extensive that rapid room turnover was next to impossible with the current staffing model. That stuck with me. What is the rate-limiting step in a mass casualty scenario or massive patient influx that would handcuff us? Where will all the preparedness collapse? What is the leaking O-ring? What am I afraid will fail?
Based on this, his fear is that there simply won't be enough staff showing up to do their work at the hospitals:
Now imagine that huge numbers of hospital staff – from doctors to housekeepers, from food services to registration, from security and parking to transportation will decide not show up. They will call in sick or simply just say: “No, I’m not coming to work today.” In just a few days, human waste, debris, soiled linens, the sick, the dying and the bodies will pile up. We will be overwhelmed and unable to offer much in the way of assistance because the labor-intensive protocols that allow us to safely care for even one patient are just too exhausting. These procedures are barely repeatable more than once or twice of day, and fraught with so many steps and potential for mistake that it becomes too physically and emotionally taxing for the staff to do … so they simply wont show up. 
And I am not sure I will, either. 
I love emergency medicine. I love helping people and saving lives and I think I’m pretty good at it, but I am also a person and I have a wife and three children that I love and want to see grow up. I also am keenly aware that not a damn thing I do will have any real impact on the survivability of a patient with either the Spanish flu or Ebola. Fluids, rest and prayer is about all there is to offer. There is an old adage that says a hospital is no place for a sick person. I think whoever first said that had Spanish flu and Ebola in mind.

Is Mexico a Failed State?

Justin Raimondo thinks that while Mexico is not yet dead, it is only a matter of time. He writes:
I’ve been warning about Mexico’s descent into chaos since 2010: time has not alleviated the crisis, but only exacerbated it. The causes of the problem are well-known: the "war on drugs" has done more to empower organized crime in Mexico than any other single factor. The illegality of drugs on both sides of the border has created a whole constellation of criminal gangs with enormous financial and human resources – mini-states, in effect – whose depredations have brought Mexico to its knees. Incredibly, the US government has aided certain favored cartels by shipping them thousands of American-made weapons via the infamous "Fast and Furious" clandestine operation – a scandal that gives the term "blowback" a whole new (and supremely sinister) meaning. 
The breakdown of the social order has provoked a response from Mexicans who want to live in peace: the vigilante movement, which has sprung up in the poor hardscrabble towns of the southern Pacific coast, and spread throughout the country. Vigilantes have taken back their towns from the corrupt police and elected officials, arresting the former and driving the latter away. They’ve armed themselves, set up checkpoints, and appealed to the national government to take action – but have come under attack from Mexico City authorities, who see in them a rival for power. 
Libertarians are quick to blame Mexico’s plight on the drug war, but the crisis – and it is a crisis – has long since outdistanced its origins. Whatever one may think of the drug war, its consequences are already out there having their effect: even if all drugs are legalized in the Western hemisphere tomorrow, the criminal gangs the war enriched and empowered will still exist, continuing to operate as they always do – extorting, murdering, and seeking to extend their reign of terror over an ever-greater swathe of territory. Given the failure of the Mexican government at both the local and regional level, these gangs are states-in-embryo, and they act like all states do in their birth-pangs – with inordinate violence. 
So what’s the solution? Short of a revolution in Mexico, there isn’t one.
 Prohibition empowered and enriched the nascent organized crime gangs in the United States, and it only lasted a decade. The so-called drug war is over 40 years old. Is it any wonder it has created something far more worse? Something that cannot be exercised by legalizing pot dispensaries in a few states?

“ 'I’ll Come To Your Place When SHTF' – No You Won’t"

Glenn Tate's article on why he will not share with friends and co-workers who had the opportunity to prepare, but chose not to, is deservedly getting some attention on prepping sites. He reasons:
But what did you do?  You spent the weekends watching football, went on expensive vacations, and never made your spouse mad at you with your “crazy” ideas that something bad was happening.  You didn’t do shit because… you would just come to my place.  Problem solved, right?  You didn’t need to spend time, money, and create domestic strife because I did that all for you. 
Not.  Why should I spend my time, money, and stress just so you can waltz into my place and live happily ever after?  I’m a nice guy, but – really? – I’m going to spend my (very limited) free time, disposable income, and domestic tranquility just so you can have a leisurely life and more material comforts pre-Collapse while I don’t? 
Why do you think I will sacrifice enormous amounts of my time and money so you can enjoy yourself while I’m slaving away?  Would you assume you could come over and leave your broken car at my house?  That I would just spend thousands of dollars on parts and several weekends fixing it and then hand it over to you with a smile – just because I’m a “good guy”?  Would anyone expect that?
I've had similar comments from a couple co-workers. One half-jokingly says that if the end of the world comes, he's coming to my house (he doesn't believe that the end of the world will come, however). I've told him that he will not be welcome, and I can defend myself. His response is that a single Molotov cocktail would render my defenses moot. Possibly true, but then he won't be getting my supplies either.

The Gods of the Copybook Headings Have Returned

I've posted "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" before, including a link to a Bill Whittle video that updates some of the phrasing into modern terms. Sarah Hoyt has now posted a copy of the poem with links to specific articles and news stories showing each line coming to pass.

The poem reads:
AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know." 

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death." 

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all, 
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul; 
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy, 
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die." 

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began. 
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire, 
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins, 
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn, 
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!
 --Kipling.

Hillary Clinton declared recently that corporations and businesses do not create jobs. I suppose she is right, in a way. Businesses create work that needs to be performed--work that enhances the economy and creates wealth. That work is traditionally performed through someone who is employed in a job. Government can create jobs as well. But most of the jobs it creates are merely the result of busy-work--work that is unnecessary and contributes nothing to the economy or creating wealth. I attended a seminar recently where a speaker suggested that a business should have one manager who is trained in the ADA to ensure compliance. Multiply that by all the other regulations and compliance issues needed to deal with someone in an aggrieved minority that may sue a business when his/her/its feelings are hurt, and it represents a significant investment of man-hours.

That is not where I wanted to go, however. What is interesting to me about Hillary's speech was the context of her statement, which was to argue for a higher minimum wage. Really? The elite believe the problem is too low of a minimum wage? What about the disappearing middle-class?

I've written about this before (see, e.g., here and here and here). Evidence abounds everyday of the collapse of the middle-class. Today I note a couple articles on the topic. Joel Kotkin writes at New Geography:
Mayor de Blasio has his work cut out for him if he really wants to end New York’s “tale of two cities.” Gotham has become the American capital of a national and even international trend toward greater income inequality and declining social mobility.
There are things the new mayor can do to help, but the early signs aren’t promising that he will be able to reverse 30 years of the hollowing out of the city’s once vibrant middle class.
 
As the cost of living has skyrocketed while pay has stagnated except for those at the very top, New York has shifted from a place people go to make it to a place for those who already have it made, or whose families have.
And once here, the rich are indeed getting richer even as the rest of the city is barely holding on.
 
Manhattan is now the most unequal county in America (it was 17th in 1980), with a Gini coefficient — which measures the disparity between the richest and poorest residents — higher than that of Apartheid-era South Africa.
At USA Today is an article setting out 7 things the middle-class (that is, households with a median income) cannot afford. The article observes:
... Bill Maher reminded us a few months back that 50 years ago, the largest employer was General Motors, where workers earned an equivalent of $50 per hour (in today's money). Today, the largest employer — Wal-Mart — pays around $8 per hour. 
The middle class has certainly changed. We've ranked a list of things the middle class can no longer really afford. We're not talking about lavish luxuries, like private jets and yachts. The items on this list are a bit more basic, and some of them are even necessities. The ranking of this list is based on affordability and necessity. Therefore, items that are necessity ranked higher, as did items that a larger percentage of people have trouble paying for.
Those seven things are: (1) vacations; (2) new vehicles; (3) paying down debt; (4) emergency savings; (5) retirement savings; (6) medical care; and (7) dental care. You may quibble about the specifics, but the basic underlying fact is clear--wages have stagnated for most American workers since the OPEC oil embargo in the 1970's, and the elite no longer even pretend to care about doing anything about it.

Why is this a problem? Because the middle-class is the group of people whose demand for goods and services requires the work to create the jobs. And that is something that many people forget--the wealthy may provide capital, but they do not create the demand. With the middle-class goes the demand.


Goodbye, Ol' Remus

I'd noted recently that the Advanced Survival Blog was going to end new posts. Survival UK seems to be down. And now Ol' Remus has announced that he will be ending the Woodpile Report. Must be something in the air. We will miss Ol' Remus' insights and musings.

Venezuela Seizes Warehouses of Medical Supplies and Food

Next they will be going after individual "hoarders." Reuters reports:
President Nicolas Maduro's government said on Thursday it had taken over warehouses around Venezuela crammed with medical goods and food that "bourgeois criminals" were hoarding for speculation and contraband. 
The socialist government says businessmen and wealthy opponents are trying to sabotage the economy to bring Maduro down, while also seeking to make profits from hoarding, price-gouging and smuggling across the border to Colombia.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

What God Did for Ancient Israel

Our family scripture reading has taken us through Deuteronomy, Joshua, and now into Judges, over the last several weeks. It is interesting to me that the Lord, both through Moses and Joshua, reminded the Israelites what He had done for them, and the consequences should the Israelites turn away from Him. Some read about the Israelite conquest of ancient Israel and see only the violence. However, in Deuteronomy 4:37-38, the Lord explains why He did it:
 37 And because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought thee out in his sight with his mighty power out of Egypt; 
 38 To drive out nations from before thee greater and mightier than thou art, to bring thee in, to give thee their land for an inheritance, as it is this day.
In Joshua, Chapters 23 and 24, the Lord again reminds Israel of all He has done for them, and states in Joshua 24:12-13:
12 And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow. 
 13 And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat.
In other words, because of the love the Lord had for the Israelites and the Patriarchs, and the wickedness of the Canaanites, etc., the Lord destroyed the inhabitants of the land of Israel and gave the cities, villages, houses, land and orchards for their use. (It is interesting to observe a similarity between this and the settlement of North America by Europeans--the native population had largely been killed off by plagues before the Europeans made any significant colonization leaving a land open for settlement).

The Exodus was a defining moment for Israel. Before that, Israel was merely another wandering desert tribe ("Hebrew")--in fact, other peoples not descended from Abraham and Jacob accompanied them on the Exodus and, presumably, intermarried and were absorbed. However, it was the Exodus and events therein that truly formed Israel into a separate people. When ancient Israel again began to merge with and become indistinguishable from the surrounding peoples, the Lord allowed the land to be conquered and the people taken away. For Judah, this was the 70 years of captivity in Babylon, that again separated Israel as a unique people.

In this dispensation, we see something similar with the LDS Church. Although the Church, as a religious body, was doctrinally different from the other Christian sects of the day, it was not yet a separate and distinct people. The Saints being driven from Missouri and Illinois changed this. Oswald Spengler, in volume 2 of The Decline of the West, observed:
But "people" is a linkage of which one is conscious. In ordinary usage, one designates as one's "people"--and with feeling--that community, out of the many to which one belongs, which inwardly stands nearest to one.  ...  A people is an aggregate of men which feels itself a unit. The Spartiates felt themselves a people in this sense; the "Dorians" of 1100, too, probably, but those of 400 certainly not. The Crusaders became genuinely a people in taking the oath of Clermont; the Mormons in their expulsion from Missouri, in 1839; the Mamertines by their need of winning for themselves a stronghold of refuge.  ...  So long as the common feeling is there, the people as such is there.
(pp. 159-160). The expulsion and relocation to Utah was the Church's Exodus--the time in Utah, Idaho, etc., our equivalent of 40 years in the desert. The return to Missouri will be our equivalent of ancient Israel's crossing of the Jordan River. It was Brigham Young, I believe, who had indicated that when the Saints returned to Independence that the area would be abandoned, without even a yellow dog to wag its tail. The Saints of that time may also occupy cities which they did not build, and enjoy orchards which they did not plant.

Asymptomatic Dogs Could Transmit Ebola

Street Dog

From the March 2005 Emerging Infectious Diseases (published by the CDC):

During the 2001–2002 outbreak in Gabon, we observed that several dogs were highly exposed to Ebola virus by eating infected dead animals. To examine whether these animals became infected with Ebola virus, we sampled 439 dogs and screened them by Ebola virus–specific immunoglobulin (Ig) G assay, antigen detection, and viral polymerase chain reaction amplification. Seven (8.9%) of 79 samples from the 2 main towns, 15 (15.2%) of 99 samples from Mekambo, and 40 (25.2%) of 159 samples from villages in the Ebola virus–epidemic area had detectable Ebola virus–IgG, compared to only 2 (2%) of 102 samples from France. Among dogs from villages with both infected animal carcasses and human cases, seroprevalence was 31.8%. A significant positive direct association existed between seroprevalence and the distances to the Ebola virus–epidemic area. This study suggests that dogs can be infected by Ebola virus and that the putative infection is asymptomatic.
The researchers also stated:
Although dogs can be asymptomatically infected, they may excrete infectious viral particles in urine, feces, and saliva for a short period before virus clearance, as observed experimentally in other animals. Given the frequency of contact between humans and domestic dogs, canine Ebola infection must be considered as a potential risk factor for human infection and virus spread. Human infection could occur through licking, biting, or grooming. Asymptomatically infected dogs could be a potential source of human Ebola outbreaks and of virus spread during human outbreaks, which could explain some epidemiologically unrelated human cases. Dogs might also be a source of human Ebola outbreaks, such as the 1976 Yambuku outbreaks in Democratic Republic of Congo (19), the 1995 Kikwit outbreak, some outbreaks that occurred in 1996 and 2004 in Gabon and Republic of Congo (5), and the 1976 (6), 1979 (20), and 2004 (21) outbreaks in Sudan, the sources of which are still unknown. Together, these findings strongly suggest that dogs should be taken into consideration during the management of human Ebola outbreaks.
This, of course, is different from what the CDC and other health officials have been saying. For instance, this article from CNN states:
Do we really need to worry about pets getting Ebola? 
Not at all, said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventative medicine at Vanderbilt University. 
"It is not a danger. We're not concerned," Schaffner told CNN's State of the Union with Candy Crowley. 
"We know that this virus can circulate in animals, but pets have not been a feature of Ebola spread, whether in Africa and certainly not here in the developed world," he said.
Related Links: "Can Dogs Get Infected by the Ebola Virus?"

(H/t Jon Stokes at AllOutDoors).

Building Another AK--The Rivet Build

AK-47 Part Diagram--although this is for the AK-47, everything is pretty much the same for the AK74. (Source).

         A couple of years ago, I built an AK style rifle from a Bulgarian AK-74 parts kit. For various reasons, including ease of assembly, I chose a screw build. A friend of mine had purchased an AK-74 kit at the same time, but wanted to have it done as a rivet build like the original. However, the cost of having a gunsmith build the kits has gone up considerably since the kits could no longer be imported with barrels and a build now involves seating the barrel, gas port block, and front sight block. After not doing anything for a while, during which time he purchased a couple other AK kits, he decided to purchase the jigs and other equipment to do rivet builds. Since I had the shop press and experience, he asked me to assist with different stages of the build.

          If you plan on doing a rivet build, you really need to get the right equipment. Like me, my friend started with a receiver from Nodak Spud. Since the receiver is the "firearm" under federal law, it has to be shipped through an FFL holder who will complete the paperwork for the transfer, including the required criminal record check. Be sure to find out how much the firearms dealer will charge for a transfer fee before ordering the receiver, and don't be afraid to check around for the best price.

          My friend purchased most of his jigs and so on from AK Builder. The rivets for the front and rear trunnions were crushed with a modified bolt cutter. Apparently my friend was able to pick up parts that replaced the cutters on the bolt cutter with special jaws to crush rivets. This sufficed for crushing the rivets to hold the front trunnion and the two short rivets in the rear trunnion. The long rivet through the rear trunnion was, I believe, crushed using a separate jig and hammer. After that, he turned to me for assistance.

          When building a rivet build, the next step after riveting the front and rear trunnions is to install the barrel. With the screw build, I actually pressed the barrel before installing the trunnions, but you cannot do that with a rivet build because, once the barrel is installed, you cannot crush the rivets in the front trunnion. To press the barrel without damaging the sheet metal receiver, a special jig that supports the front trunnion in the hydraulic press is needed. Below are a couple pictures of the jig, which was ordered from AK Builder. As you can see, they get a little beat up as you use them. This support will not only be used for seating the barrel, but for seating the gas block and front sight block as well.

Support for the Front Trunnion

Support for the Front Trunnion--another view
          As you can probably guess from looking at it, the support slides through the magazine well to provide a stable support when used with the hydraulic press. The upright piece fits against the back of the front trunnion, but is shaped so you can press the barrel into place. 

          When pressing the barrel, you have to check for proper head-space. In this case, we used a set of Go/No-Go gauges.

Go and No-Go gauges
When you have pressed the barrel down close to the block in the trunnion, you simply remove the receiver from the press, insert the bolt carrier with a Go or No-Go gauge in the chamber, and attempt to close the bolt. Proper headspace is achieved when the bolt can be completely closed and locked with the Go gauge, but cannot be closed and locked with the No-Go gauge. You may have to press the barrel out slightly if you press it in too deeply, which I had to do a couple times in this case as I adjusted the seating depth.

          After the barrel is seated, it is time to cut the slot for the barrel pin, and press the barrel pin into place; then install the rear sight block (which also must have a slot cut and a pin pressed into place). I described this process in my article on the screw build--including the cutters needed--so I won't repeat that here. After you are done with that, you should have what you see below:

Ready to start on installing the gas block and front sight block.
          The next step is to install the forward band for the lower handguard. As you can see in the photo above, there are some slots about midway along the length of the barrell. This is where the band fits into place. It should fit snugly into place; you may need to use a small mallet to tap it into place. Make sure the locking lever is in the open position when you try to install it.

          Next is the gas block. As with my build, I had to use a small barrel sanding attachment with my Dremmel tool to smooth the inside of the loop and to open it up a bit. This time, I had a pipe and washer to use to press the gas port into place (whereas, in my last build, I had to slowly press it down using a punch and working it around). 

Tube and washer for pressing the gas port.
Unlike my last build, I decided to try something different for figuring the proper stopping point. Instead of marking the barrel opposite the gas port, I put the gas tube into place and simply pushed the gas block down until it fitted neatly against the gas tube. As in my prior build, I used a bent wire to verify that the block was positioned over the gas port, by inserting the bent wire into the opening for the gas tube, then pushing the wire through the gas port into the barrel, and visually verifying that the wire was protruding into the barrel.

Pressing the gas block into position.


Final position of gas block.
         The next step was to install the front sight post. As with the gas block, I had to sand the inside of the ring that fits over the barrel to clean it up and make sure it would fit over the barrel. 

          Obviously, it is important not to install the front sight block such that the post is canted to one side or another. As in my prior build, I placed the receiver into a mount that I use for holding rifles for maintenance and cleaning. Then, using a small spirit level, I verified that the rear sight block is level and slide the front sight block on by hand. Then alternating between the front sight block and the rear sight block, I used the spirit level to adjust the front sight block (tapping on one side or the other with a small mallet) until both registered as level. Although my description of the process is brief, this can actually be very time consuming.

          The fit was tight enough that I could then take it out to the press and press the block down onto the barrel. For this, I used a shorter (about 1 inch long) section of tubing over the front of the block. The front sight block was pressed down until the muzzle of the barrel is at the mouth of the ring for the front sight block. Of course, I again used the spirit level to check that the front sight block was level with the rear sight block. I also held it up to get a visual sight picture to make sure that everything--the rear sight, the gas port, and front sight--looked lined up correctly, and had my friend verify as well.

Pressing the front sight block into place.
          After this, I decided to move on to riveting the trigger guard into place. The trigger guard is held in place by four smaller rivets on the front (behind the magazine release) and a single larger rivet on the back. There is also a reinforcement plate that goes over the front four rivets. This has a stop for the safety lever, so make sure you are installing it correctly. 

          My friend had purchased a jig (yes, another one) designed to crush the rivets for the trigger guard. There is a deep slot cut into the jig to accommodate the trigger guard, with four dimples at the top for the front rivets. Because the rivet holding the magazine release lever protrudes slightly, there are channels in this slot for sliding the trigger guard into place. 

Jig, trigger guard, reinforcing plate, front rivets, and back rivet.
Unfortunately, because of the length of the rivets, you cannot simply place the rivets in the dimples and then slide the trigger guard into place. Rather, I had to tilt the trigger guard vertically, then put the rivets through the holes, then--holding the rivets so they wouldn't fall out of place--rotate the trigger guard back into a horizontal position and slide it backward into the slot in the jig until the rivet heads fit into the dimples.

You must rotate the trigger guard into a vertical position and then slide the rivets through the holes.
Front rivets and reinforcing plate.
Crush plate and insert.
           The receiver is then placed over the rivets, the crush plate inserted and slid over the four rivets, and the insert is placed vertically to push down on the crush plate. (The notch is designed to go over the central reinforcing tube in the receiver). Then the whole thing is placed into the press and pushed down to flatten the back of the rivets.

          The rear rivet is inserted from the top, so the flat portion is inside the receiver. There is another crush plate that goes underneath the receiver that has a dimple. The crush plate fits onto the shelf at the rear of the jig. Put it all back into the press and bear down! When you are done, you have this:
Riveting done!
          Although this could have been done before the riveting of the trigger guard, my next step was to cut the slots for the pins for the gas block and front sight block, and then press the pins into place. Again, I discussed what you needed for this step in my article on my earlier build.

          I will leave the finishing and installation of the hammer and trigger assembly for my friend to do on his own. Normally, you would need to finish the receiver (probably a spray on coat) and then install the hammer/trigger guts, but my friend wants to test fire it before applying the finish. Based on my advice, my friend will be using a retaining plate to hold the pins into place. (See my post on my earlier build for more on installing the trigger guts). 

          Although I know that people hold "build parties" where this is all done in an afternoon, this project really requires more time to do a nice job. I suppose that if I had the proper jigs or guides to align the sights, it could be done faster. However, this was a project that took several afternoons on weekends to complete.