Saturday, February 28, 2015

Our Not So Best and Not Quit Brightest

It is accepted almost without question that the Ivy League Schools take in only our best and brightest. Yet, digging beneath the surface, it is clear that this is not so. A significant number of students are admitted on the basis that they are children of alumni. Several years ago, it was reported that the elite schools discriminate against poor and rural whites. From a New York Times op-ed:
Last year, two Princeton sociologists, Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Walton Radford, published a book-length study of admissions and affirmative action at eight highly selective colleges and universities. Unsurprisingly, they found that the admissions process seemed to favor black and Hispanic applicants, while whites and Asians needed higher grades and SAT scores to get in. But what was striking, as Russell K. Nieli pointed out last week on the conservative Web site Minding the Campus, was which whites were most disadvantaged by the process: the downscale, the rural and the working-class. 
This was particularly pronounced among the private colleges in the study. For minority applicants, the lower a family’s socioeconomic position, the more likely the student was to be admitted. For whites, though, it was the reverse. An upper-middle-class white applicant was three times more likely to be admitted than a lower-class white with similar qualifications. 
This may be a money-saving tactic. In a footnote, Espenshade and Radford suggest that these institutions, conscious of their mandate to be multiethnic, may reserve their financial aid dollars “for students who will help them look good on their numbers of minority students,” leaving little room to admit financially strapped whites. 
But cultural biases seem to be at work as well. Nieli highlights one of the study’s more remarkable findings: while most extracurricular activities increase your odds of admission to an elite school, holding a leadership role or winning awards in organizations like high school R.O.T.C., 4-H clubs and Future Farmers of America actually works against your chances. Consciously or unconsciously, the gatekeepers of elite education seem to incline against candidates who seem too stereotypically rural or right-wing or “Red America.” 
This provides statistical confirmation for what alumni of highly selective universities already know. The most underrepresented groups on elite campuses often aren’t racial minorities; they’re working-class whites (and white Christians in particular) from conservative states and regions. Inevitably, the same underrepresentation persists in the elite professional ranks these campuses feed into: in law and philanthropy, finance and academia, the media and the arts.
The media has ignored the bias against rural and poor whites, but has once again picked up on the bias against Asians and in favor of blacks and Latinos. The LA Times reports:
Lee's next slide shows three columns of numbers from a Princeton University study that tried to measure how race and ethnicity affect admissions by using SAT scores as a benchmark. It uses the term “bonus” to describe how many extra SAT points an applicant's race is worth. She points to the first column. 
African Americans received a “bonus” of 230 points, Lee says.

She points to the second column.
 
“Hispanics received a bonus of 185 points.” 
The last column draws gasps. 
Asian Americans, Lee says, are penalized by 50 points — in other words, they had to do that much better to win admission. 
“Do Asians need higher test scores? Is it harder for Asians to get into college? The answer is yes,” Lee says.
* * *
Complaints about bias in college admissions have persisted since at least the 1920s, when a Harvard University president tried to cap the number of Jewish students.
 And from the New York Times last November:
NEARLY a century ago, Harvard had a big problem: Too many Jews. By 1922, Jews accounted for 21.5 percent of freshmen, up from 7 percent in 1900 and vastly more than at Yale or Princeton. In the Ivy League, only Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania had a greater proportion of Jews. 
Harvard’s president, A. Lawrence Lowell, warned that the “Jewish invasion” would “ruin the college.” He wanted a cap: 15 percent. When faculty members balked, he stacked the admissions process to achieve the same result. Bolstered by the nativism of the time, which led to sharp immigration restrictions, Harvard’s admissions committee began using the euphemistic criteria of “character and fitness” to limit Jewish enrollment. As the sociologist Jerome Karabel has documented, these practices worked for the next three decades to suppress the number of Jewish students. 
A similar injustice is at work today, against Asian-Americans. To get into the top schools, they need SAT scores that are about 140 points higher than those of their white peers. In 2008, over half of all applicants to Harvard with exceptionally high SAT scores were Asian, yet they made up only 17 percent of the entering class (now 20 percent). Asians are the fastest-growing racial group in America, but their proportion of Harvard undergraduates has been flat for two decades.
 Related Posts: Harvard Students Fail 1964 Literacy TestThe Decline of Civilization--Part II--The Provincial and the Cosmopolitan.

The Designated Marksman Concept for Civilians

Loose Rounds has a couple articles discussing applying the designated marksman concept to civilians. The first article discusses what is needed in a rifle (which really isn't anything too special); and the second article outlines some points on how the designated marksman is used.

Saurez Int'l: "The Dead Man's Ten"

"For those not familiar with the concept, the Dead Man’s Ten is the time in seconds that the brain can remain often sufficiently oxygenated and capable of directing the body in purposeful activity after taking a fatal wound (or wounds) that reduces blood circulation."

Read the whole thing.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Megacity Warfare

“Dense urban terrain favors the defender,” said Col. Kevin Felix, chief of the Future Warfare Division at the Army Capabilities Integration Center. That’s why “in the past, in the central plains of Europe, you would fix and bypass a city,” he said. 
The world is changing, though, and that doctrine is being re-examined. The Army has become convinced that urban combat soon will be unavoidable, and when it happens, it will occur on a scale that the Army has never experienced. The reason? Megacities, or cities with a population of 10 million or more. 
* * * 
The rise of megacities creates “all kinds of challenges” for the Army, Rothenberg said.
The Strategic Studies Group warned that the battles in Baghdad were “small in comparison to the challenges ahead.” By 2030, the group’s report said, there will be 37 cities that are two to four times bigger than Baghdad.
 
Many—likely most—megacities won’t be a problem for the Army. New York, Tokyo, London and Beijing will no doubt remain stable, thriving economic and cultural centers. Other megacities, however, will struggle, choked by overcrowding, pollution, poverty, crime and ethnic strife. 
For many residents of those megacities, basic necessities will be scarce. Drinkable water, electricity and housing will be in short supply. Medical care will be sporadic and food supplies inadequate. “Many emerging megacities are ill-prepared to accommodate the kind of explosive growth they are experiencing,” according to the report. 
Governing will be difficult as gangs, criminals and rival militias carve out their own territories and challenge municipal authorities. Stark inequality between the rich and the poor, and racial, ethnic and cultural differences will all contribute to instability. 
* * * 
Some equipment and technology that give the Army its margin of superiority on today’s battlefields won’t be as effective in megacities. Tanks and armored vehicles will have trouble negotiating cramped streets and alleys. Long-range weapons and sensors designed to detect enemies at a distance will be less useful in close urban quarters. Surveillance drones won’t be able to see insurgents hiding in buildings or in underground tunnels. Helicopters will be vulnerable to shoulder-fired missiles and rocket-propelled grenades. Artillery will kill too many civilians to be a viable weapon. And logistics—getting food, medicine and other supplies in and casualties out—will be problematic, said Ben FitzGerald, director of the Technology and National Security Program at Center for a New American Security.  
* * * 
“A city can ingest an invading army, paralyze it for weeks on end, and grind it down to a state of ineffectiveness,” Shunk warned, quoting Christopher R. Gabel in Combined Arms in Battle Since 1939, released by the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in 1992. 
Felix, of the Future Warfare Division, calls that “the tyranny of scale.” Megacities are gigantic. “You can’t just pour brigade after brigade into a megacity. They’ll just get swallowed up,” he said after a megacity war game last August. 
* * * 
Megacities will call for “more ISR, lots of tactical ISR,” Goure said, referring to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensors, as well as “much more precision firepower,” communications equipment that’s designed to operate in urban canyons, more effective IED defeat systems and better close-combat weapons. 
Meanwhile, the Army’s urban warfare doctrine needs to be rewritten, the Strategic Studies Group said. Attempting to isolate a megacity by controlling its perimeter won’t work. “Physically controlling an urban population consisting of tens of millions of people spread over hundreds of square miles with military forces numbering in the tens of thousands” is unrealistic, the group said. In addition, “virtual isolation” is unlikely because of the vast connectivity available through cellphones and the Internet. 
“Ground maneuver from the periphery is also unrealistic,” the group went on to say. The combination of urban congestion and the enormous size of megacities “makes even getting to an objective from the periphery questionable, let alone achieving an operational effect,” the group said. “The scale of megacities, in essence, defies the military’s ability to apply historical methods.”
However, another group argues that the military can avoid having to control a city--simply send troops in as needed to fix a particular problem, a la, Blackhawk Down. Anyway, read the whole thing.

The military has known of this issue for some time. The field manual on Urban Combat discusses this very issue from at least the early 1990's version. Thus, it is been confusing to me that seemingly little attention has been paid to the urban warfare of WWII and the lessons learned there, especially the liberal use of hand grenades.

A Quick Run Around the Web: February 27, 2015

Today's quick run around the web will focus on a few interesting survival related articles.

And a hat-tip to "Survival" on Pinterest, from which I found three of the aforementioned articles.

The Overlap Between Muslim Criminal Gangs and Islamic Terrorists

David P. Goldman explains.

ISIS' Next Target is Lebanon

ISIS has announced that Lebanon will be the next state to fall under the sway of its “caliphate.” According to Beirut's Daily Star newspaper, the only reason ISIS hasn't attacked yet in force is because they haven't decided on the mission's commander. 
The Lebanese army is one of the least effective in the Middle East—and that's saying something in a region where the far more capable Syrian and Iraqi armies are utterly failing to safeguard what should be their own sovereign territory. 
So France is going to send a three billion dollar package of weapons to Lebanon and the Saudis are going to pay for it. It won't solve the problem any more than a full-body cast will cure cancer, but it beats standing around and not even trying.
There is one significant difference, though: "Every family in Lebanon is armed to the gills thanks to the state being too weak and divided to provide basic security[.]" This doesn't guarantee victory--an armed mob is still a mob--and lack the skills and discipline to beat an organized force. But Lebanon has been fighting a civil war and foreigners off and on since the 1970's, so its militias are probably better trained than most of armies in the region.

(H/t Instapundit)

Arizona Suffers Internet Blackout

The Daily Mail reports:
Tens of thousands of people were cut off from phone and Internet for more than 12 hours in Arizona on Wednesday.  
Vandals cut a fiber-optic line located in a desert north of Phoenix that provides internet and phone services to tens of thousands of people throughout the state. 
Although most communication services were restored after being down for six and a half hours, some people were not connected until early on Thursday morning. 
A Phoenix Police Department officer said vandals had completely cut through the cable, which is located in the desert north of the capital in an area inaccessible to vehicles. 
Meanwhile, even in cities 100 miles away from Phoenix, ATM machines stopped working, businesses couldn't process credit cards and residents said they felt lost without the internet.  
Emergency services were also affected in a number of cities.  
Prescott Valley had to supplement 911 service with 'handheld radios and alternate phone numbers'.  
Water and sewer facilities in the region also had to switch to manual operations.
Emergency lines were also limited in Yavapai County and authorities were unable to access law enforcement databases.  
Read the whole thing.

Venezuela: Trading Oil for Toilet Paper?

Some of you may be old enough to remember news reports of toilet paper shortages in the Soviet Union. Such shortages of basic necessities is a natural result of socialism. And so I note this story from Bloomberg Business on Venezuela:
Venezuela, plagued with shortages of basic goods, was offered a reprieve by the Prime Minister of neighboring Trinidad & Tobago: exchange oil for tissue paper. 
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar suggested an oil-for-tissue swap in a news conference Tuesday following a meeting in Port of Spain with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. She said the deal would benefit both countries. 
“The concept of commodity sharing is simple -– the Government of Trinidad and Tobago will purchase goods identified by the Government of Venezuela from T&T’s manufacturers, such as tissue paper, gasoline, and parts for machinery,” Persad-Bissessar said. 
In Venezuela, which has the world’s largest oil reserves, citizens line up outside supermarkets for hours seeking a bag of clothing detergent, toilet paper or cooking oil. Price controls and a lack of dollars for importers have emptied stores of many basic goods, a situation Maduro blames on hoarders conducting an “economic war” against his socialist government.

Moral Legitimacy and the IRS

William Lind observes in his book, On War, that the key underpinning of fourth generation warfare (4GW) is the loss of legitimacy of the state. Much of his essays collected in the book pertain to Western states loosing legitimacy because of  the adoption of Cultural Marxism and globalization, which necessarily means that the national leaders lose faith in the culture, and have no loyalty to the state. Consequently, populations will shift their loyalties to other groups--groups that will compete with the state and among each other for legitimacy and power. 

Lind borrows heavily from John Boyd's theories of warfare. Boyd visualized that not only are there the classic three levels of strategic, operational, and tactical aspects to conflict, but also moral, mental and physical. The moral level of conflict ties into the question of legitimacy. Losing the moral battle at the strategic level will always result in the loss of the war according to Lind and Boyd.

Which brings me to the topic of this post. The Tax Prof blog (and Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit) has been keeping track of the number of days of the IRS scandal involving the targeting of conservative political groups. It now stands at 659 days. One of the key issues is whether the targeting was at the orders of, or coordinated with, the White House. Early on, the IRS claimed the actions were limited to a small number of low level IRS employees. That story was quickly debunked. Eventually, the story revolved around Lois Lerner and her contacts with the White House. However, Lerner has refused to testify on the grounds it would be self-incriminating, and her email communications were conveniently deleted. Except they weren't all lost. The primary news at this point, as reported by the Washington Times:
The IRS’s inspector general confirmed Thursday it is conducting a criminal investigation into how Lois G. Lerner’s emails disappeared, saying it took only two weeks for investigators to find hundreds of tapes the agency’s chief had told Congress were irretrievably destroyed. 
Investigators have already scoured 744 backup tapes and gleaned 32,774 unique emails, but just two weeks ago they found an additional 424 tapes that could contain even more Lerner emails, Deputy Inspector General Timothy P. Camus told the House Oversight Committee in a rare late-night hearing meant to look into the status of the investigation. 
“There is potential criminal activity,” Mr. Camus said.
The Washington Post similarly reports:
Federal investigators are looking for possible criminal activity in connection with the missing emails of a central figure in the Internal Revenue service’s targeting scandal.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration testified at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Thursday that it tracked down nearly 33,000 emails from ex-IRS official Lois Lerner.
 
The records date back to 2001, which is 10 years beyond what the IRS has said it could access for investigators.
 Back in 2009, Obama joked about auditing his political enemies. Glenn Reynolds wrote an op-ed published by the Wall Street Journal noting that such a joke might be funny by a late-night comedian, but not from the President of the United States. Reynolds observed:
Just a joke about the power of the presidency. Made by Jay Leno it might have been funny. But as told by Mr. Obama, the actual president of the United States, it's hard to see the humor. Surely he's aware that other presidents, most notably Richard Nixon, have abused the power of the Internal Revenue Service to harass their political opponents. But that abuse generated a powerful backlash and with good reason. Should the IRS come to be seen as just a bunch of enforcers for whoever is in political power, the result would be an enormous loss of legitimacy for the tax system. 
Our income-tax system is based on voluntary compliance and honest reporting by citizens. It couldn't possibly function if most people decided to cheat. Sure, the system is backed up by the dreaded IRS audit. But the threat is, while not exactly hollow, limited: The IRS can't audit more than a tiny fraction of taxpayers. If Americans started acting like Italians, who famously see tax evasion as a national pastime, the system would collapse. 
One reason why Americans don't act like Italians is that they see the income-tax system as basically fair in execution. A tax audit or a tax-fraud prosecution is still seen, usually, as evidence that someone has done something wrong. If it comes instead to be seen as "just politics" then the moral component of the system will be gone. For the system to work, people have to believe that it is fundamentally fair.
 And with the moral component gone, collecting taxes can become the difference between a government's economic stability or defaulting on loans.

If Lerner's email show that the White House knew and approved of the IRS targeting, or worse, actually instigated the IRS targeting, I don't expect much political fall out. Unlike Nixon, Obama can count on the media to cover for him, and the Congressional Democrats to support him. He has been daring the Republicans to impeach him, and the Republicans have backed down.

Instead, I believe it will be yet another nail in the coffin of the state's legitimacy. As Lind notes in an essay entitled "The Discarded Image," "4th Generation theory says that the state here, in the good old USA, is also likely to break apart as Americans too transfer their primary loyalty away from the state to a wide variety of other things."

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Crossing the Rubicon

Born with unbridled political ambition and unsurpassed oratory skills, Julius Caesar manipulated his way to the position of consul of Rome in 59 BC. After his year of service he was named governor of Gaul where he amassed a personal fortune and exhibited his outstanding military skill in subduing the native Celtic and Germanic tribes. Caesar's popularity with the people soared, presenting a threat to the power of the Senate and to Pompey, who held power in Rome. Accordingly, the Senate called upon Caesar to resign his command and disband his army or risk being declared an "Enemy of the State". 
Pompey was entrusted with enforcing this edict - the foundation for civil war was laid.
It was January 49 BC, Caesar was staying in the northern Italian city of Ravenna and he had a decision to make. Either he acquiesced to the Senate's command or he moved southward to confront Pompey and plunge the Roman Republic into a bloody civil war. An ancient Roman law forbade any general from crossing the Rubicon River and entering Italy proper with a standing army. To do so was treason. This tiny stream would reveal Caesar's intentions and mark the point of no return.
--Eye Witness to History.

Pres. Obama is daring Republicans to vote on whether or not his executive actions are legal. 
Discussing opposition to his executive amnesty orders at an immigration town hall Wednesday, Obama said he would veto the vote because his actions are “the right thing to do”: 
“So in the short term, if Mr. McConnell, the leader of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, want to have a vote on whether what I’m doing is legal or not, they can have that vote.  I will veto that vote, because I’m absolutely confident that what we’re doing is the right thing to do.”
--MRCTV.

Sheep, Sheepdog, and Wolf--The Flawed Analogy (Updated)

Shetland Sheepdog tricolour.jpg
Shetland Sheepdog (Source)

In reading books or articles concerning self-defense, or in classes concerning self-defense, you will sooner or later come across the analogy of the sheep, sheep-dog, and wolf. I don't know if it originated with Dave Grossman, but his articulation of the analogy seems to be the most often cited:
If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen: A Sheep.  
If you have a capacity for violence and No empathy for your fellow citizens, then you are A Wolf.  
But, what if you have a capacity for violence and a deep love for your fellow citizen? Then you are A Sheepdog! 
A Sheepdog is a warrior, someone who is walking the hero's path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness into the universal human phobia and walk out unscathed.
A 2011 article at The Truth About Guns delves into Grossman's viewpoints in more detail, and takes the position that the armed citizen should be sheepdogs. It seems to be a common refrain (see here, here, here and here, for example), and used to guilt someone into taking self-defense instruction. The latter most web-site states, for instance:
Most sheepdogs are found in the military, law enforcement and the martial arts communities. They often make the sheep uncomfortable because they remind them that the wolves are out there. Sheepdogs are often targets of ridicule from the sheep that get uncomfortable seeing their weapons, or as Grossman writes, “They have fangs like the wolf and fur like the wolf and they are constantly looking for the very opportunity to engage the wolf in battle…the very thing the sheep fear.” 
Now, if you choose to be a sheep that is your choice. Just remember that you or your loved ones may be injured or die if there is no sheepdog around to handle the wolf. Know that it doesn’t have to be that way. Regular citizens every day step up to be sheepdogs when necessary such as American Airlines passengers against the terrorists on 9/11 and those you [sic] risk life and limb to thwart the muggers, rapists, and murderers who prey on our community.
Caleb at Gun Nuts Media recently took direct aim at the "sheep-dog" mentality, using the example of George Zimmerman. The substance of his article is:
As humans, we excel at many things. Foremost on that list? Lying to ourselves. That really is the problem with the whole concept of “the sheepdog.” Because it feeds the ego and because there’s no effort required to become a sheepdog, it’s easy to slide ourselves into the idea that we’re better than all the people around us because we carry a gun. It creates a mental divide between citizens, where these self-appointed sheepdogs look down on people who choose not to carry. It’s so easy to slip into that. I fall prey to it all the time in small ways. What’s tremendously ironic is that the people who refer to themselves as sheepdogs are also frequently the most vocal critics of “militarized policing” – yet they’re guilty of the same “us vs. them” mindset that they criticize the police for having. 
A concealed carry permit isn’t a junior G-man badge, and it’s not a license to go looking to get into someone else’s gunfight. I’m not saying don’t get involved, in fact I want to say the exact opposite. What’s most toxic about the way the term sheepdog is used today is just what I stated above, that it creates and feeds a culture of us vs. them. The truth is that we’re not protectors of our community, we’re not warrior-heroes walking the path of righteousness. Most of us, myself included, are just folk. I’m just a guy who carries a gun because I want to have the most effective tool available to defend my life, and the lives of my family members. I’m not saying don’t get involved, in fact I would encourage you to get more involved. If you claim to be a sheepdog but you don’t know your neighbor’s names, you’re just lying to yourself. If you really believe you should protect your community, don’t set yourself apart from it. Be a part of it. Get to know your neighbors, create relationships. If George Zimmerman had really been a part of his community, he wouldn’t have been patrolling the neighborhood alone after dark. Those are the actions of someone who has set himself apart from the people around him, someone who’s invested more in his own self-image than the actual safety and protection of his fellow citizens.
I concur with Caleb on this one.

First, the analogy is more correct than you might think. But, if you have ever been around sheepdogs and herders, or even just read Animal Farm, you probably will have a very different idea of a sheepdog. A sheepdog isn't there to protect the herd; the sheepdog is there to assist the sheep herder in managing the sheep. It just happens that one aspect of managing the herd is to keep the herd safe from predators. The dog's purpose is not to keep the sheep from dying or being hurt under any circumstance, but to ensure that only the sheep herder gets to use and cull the herd as he wants. In the end, the sheepdog serves the sheep herder, not the sheep. Is that how you see yourself? As helping control the sheep?

Second, there is a reason that "sheepdogs" are mostly the police and the military. It is not just that they work in packs. It is because the police and military, in their respective spheres, have certain obligations to protect fellow citizens (i.e., the sheep), but are also given certain privileges and tools not afforded to the common citizen in order to fulfill their general obligation. Not the least of these is broader authority to use force. In fact, restricting the use of force to police and military is part and parcel of the state's monopoly on violence.

Focusing on law enforcement, not only can police use force to defend themselves or others, they can use force to affect an arrest of a perpetrator (including stopping a fleeing suspect), to protect public and private property, and enforce court orders. Under surprisingly broad sets of circumstances, they have lawful authority to stop and question people, and search a person or vehicle. With an appropriate warrant, they can enter private property or force their way into a residence. No matter how much self-defense or tactical training you may receive, you will never be a "sheepdog" without being in law-enforcement or the military because you do not possess the legal authority to be a "sheepdog."

Third, as Caleb's article discusses in more detail, is the whole idea of being a "hero" or modern day "warrior." If you decide you are the "sheepdog"--the hero or warrior-- you can easily, as Caleb points out in his article, stray (nay, propel yourself) into a moral or legal morass. I am reminded of an incident related in Mass Ayoob's The Truth About Self-Defense, where a trucker passing through New York City, saw a man pushing a woman up against a wall while the woman cried rape. The trucker was, in his mind, a sheepdog, and promptly shot the "attacker." Only, the "attacker" was actually an undercover vice officer attempting to arrest a prostitute. Not a heroic ending to that story.

Our duty, as armed citizens, is much more narrow than protecting the public at large. If we are going to continue with the animal analogy, I like Christopher Burg's analogizing the armed citizen to the porcupine. "Porcupines are great, they walk around foraging for food, and avoid starting [fights] with other animals. So long as you don’t attack a porcupine you’ll be OK but if you [mess] with a porcupine you’re going to get a face full of wrath filled quills."

Update (3/16/2015): Via Active Response Training, I came across this 2012 article by Jack Feldman on the sheepdog analogy that makes some of the same points I do, although more eloquently:
 "Sheepdog" doesn't describe me and probably shouldn't apply to you, either. First, who do sheepdogs serve? Not the sheep. They serve the shepherd, who owns both the herd and the sheepdogs. What's the shepherd doing with the sheep? Making a living, first by regularly shearing, or "fleecing" them, second by eating them, and third by selling them to someone else for either purpose. Sure, the shepherd wants the sheep alive and healthy. His living depends on them. They're not pets, they're products. The sheepdogs aren't pets, either. They're regarded as employees at best, as tools at worst. They exist to do a job. 
Second, what is the sheepdog's job? It's not to protect the individual sheep, which they couldn't do in any case. There are simply too many sheep and too few sheepdogs. Having enough sheepdogs to guarantee each sheep's safety is not possible. The goal is to keep sheep losses to an acceptable level. Acceptable to the shepherd, that is. Sheepdogs  protect the herd, not each sheep, and to make this collective protection (and fleecing, and roast lamb) feasible the herd must be controlled, which is the sheepdog's primary job.  ... 
Third, how do sheepdogs control the herd? Through fear. Many years ago in New Zealand I watched sheepdog trials. In response to the shepherd's whistles and hand signals his beautifully trained dogs circled the herd, crouching and staring at the sheep, who nervously moved away in the direction the shepherd wanted. If the sheep weren't fearful they couldn't be herded. 
Think about it. Police officers are formally tasked with protecting "society," i.e. the herd, not the individual. ... In our society, governments from the Federal to the local increasingly act like shepherds.  Police, the great majority of whom are fine and honorable people, are in the role of sheepdogs, like it or not. 
Armed citizens are a problem for the shepherds. Not being sheep, they're not afraid of the sheepdogs and are prepared to take on the wolves, hyenas or whoever. They mean no harm to anyone, have no desire to control others, but are much harder to control and therefore to exploit. Worse, their example might spread. They're not  wolves, but not  sheepdogs either. The shepherds, expecting obedience from everything but wolves, have no clue how to deal with them. Their common response is to try to get rid of armed citizens one way or another, typically by removing the arms. Acting like a sheepdog when you're not gives the shepherds that opportunity. 
 From the sheepdog's viewpoint the armed citizen is just in the way, becoming one more source of disorder. They hate disorder. From the herd's viewpoint, they're either scary or a provocation. Sheep have dominance hierarchies, too. Consider George Zimmerman, whose sheepdog fantasies led him to confront Trayvon Martin. Martin might have grown up to be anything from a serial killer to a respected statesman, but at that moment he was just a smartass kid who wasn't going to let himself be pushed around. So he did what sheep do, butted heads with what he thought was another sheep, and now he's dead. Zimmerman, who might have become a respected leader in his community had he learned better judgment, may never get his life back. The shepherds, meanwhile, use this sad incident as yet another excuse to remove the "menace" of the armed citizen from their herds. 
Given all that, if you must have an inspirational totem animal, what fits? Well, two of the most dangerous animals on the planet are the rhino and the Cape Buffalo. They're grass-eaters,  grazing happily if unmolested and seriously aggressive when threatened. Neither seems obligated to protect the zebras, wildebeest and so forth from the predators. Rhinos are pretty much solitary, buffalo live in groups that cooperate in their defense.  I wouldn't try to herd either one. Take your pick.

The Queens of the Battlefield Are Back

The SNAFU! blog observes:
Rocket, cannon, and tube artillery is the biggest "life taker" in this fight.  If Ukraine is a taste of things to come then we're planning and organizing ourselves for the wrong fight. 
US ground forces have not faced sustained artillery barrages since WW2.  All we've faced in the modern era is what the old timers would call harassment
fire.
 
If mass artillery fire is the wave of the future then we better hope that lasers make it to the battlefield sooner rather than later.  R2D2 might be able to stop a mortar or two but a barrage?

Synergy and Self Defense

A Tactical Wire feature article:
When you add together movement, communication, the use of cover, and if necessary shooting accurately, combining all these skills into one package, the sum, or whole, becomes something greater than the total of the individual acts. Your reaction, application of these skills, can be greater than the threat's actions.

Proposal to Use No-Fly List for Firearm Purchases

Diane Feinstein and the usual Democrat suspects have introduced a bill to use inclusion on the no-fly list as grounds to deny a firearm purchase. She is touting this as a means of preventing terrorists from purchasing firearms or explosives. I know the ACLU doesn't care about protecting 2nd Amendment Rights, but it has been critical of the no-fly list, explaining:
Because of the extreme secrecy surrounding the No Fly List, people generally only discover they are on it when they are denied boarding on a flight — often very publicly, at the airport. The public does not know how many people are on the No Fly List, or the criteria for inclusion. The process the government has established for people on the No Fly List to challenge their blacklisting is grossly insufficient and violates the U.S. Constitution's due process guarantee.
There is no meaningful process for challenging your inclusion on the list, or getting your name taken off the list. And it does not require probable cause to get on the list--in fact, you could end up on the list by mistake. Government guidelines "give[ ] a single White House official the unilateral authority to place entire 'categories' of people the government is tracking onto the no fly and selectee lists. It broadens the authority of government officials to 'nominate' people to the watchlists based on what is vaguely described as 'fragmentary information.'" The Obama Administration seems to take the position that even a federal court cannot order someone's removal from the list.

I think you can see where Feinstein is headed--a completely non-transparent, non-appealable method for banning whole categories of people from purchasing firearms.

So True...

(Source)
It reminds me of an article a few weeks back from the Weapons Man discussing the pro's and con's of customizing an AR. One of the con's pertained to operating as a part of a group (e.g., a SWAT team):
Uniformity of weapons has its benefits. If one of you is out of the fight, perhaps because he’s wounded, performing a specialty task (medic, breacher) or communicating with higher, interoperability of weapons with the shooters actually shooting means the non-fighting guy’s guns and ammo become a potential New York reload for the fighting guy. (One combat duty of NCOs in the US forces is accountability and cross-leveling of weapons and ammo). There is no feeling so stupid as holding a strange gun and looking at a strange optic, unsure which button turns the illuminated reticle on (and worse, what turns it on on the NVG setting as opposed to the one that lights up your face for the enemy).
 (H/t Mason Dixon Tactical)

Special Deal on 5.56 Defensive Ammo

Beck Ammunition is currently selling 5.56 mm 64gr Nosler Bonded JSP (aka, the FBI load) for $10.95 per 20-round box (normally $17.95).

(H/t Peter Grant).

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Chicago Police Black Site and Tyranny

A few weeks ago, I had noted an article Victor Davis Hanson discussing the breakdown of societies around the world, and the three options: "either the chaos grows and civilization wanes and tribalism follows, or the iron hand of the radical authoritarian Left or Right correction is just as scary, or a few good people in democratic fashion convince the mob to let them stop the madness and rebuild civilization." Hanson thought option number 3 most likely in the United States, while I expressed my opinion that option 2 (a radical authoritarian) was where we were headed. My choice was based on Spengler's work that found that democracy (in the classical sense of the word, not speaking of a Republic) always led to tyranny. 

Subsequently, on February 20, 2015, Rasmussen released the disturbing results of a poll showing that 26% of likely voters believed that the President should be able to ignore court rulings that stand in the way of actions he feels are important for the country. Among Democrats, the percentage was 43%. Perhaps more significantly, thirty-one percent (31%) thought it is more important for government to operate efficiently than it is to preserve our system of checks and balances, and eleven percent (11%) are undecided. In other words, a quarter of Americans no longer believe in rule of law, and a third are fine with abandoning a republican form of government.

These attitudes are going to be reflected and carried over into bureaucratic organizations, which brings me to the subject of this post. From the Guardian:
The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site. 
The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights. 
Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include: 
  • Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
  • Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
  • Shackling for prolonged periods.
  • Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
  • Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15. 
At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead. 
Brian Jacob Church, a protester known as one of the “Nato Three”, was held and questioned at Homan Square in 2012 following a police raid. Officers restrained Church for the better part of a day, denying him access to an attorney, before sending him to a nearby police station to be booked and charged.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

ISIS and Saudi Arabia

ISIS is developing a very real and effective intelligence apparatus. ISIS has, in the last couple of months, successfully assassinated a Saudi general (General Oudah al-Belawi, commander of border operations in Saudi Arabia’s northern zone) and an Iranian Revolutionary Guard general (Brigadier General Hamid Taqavi, who was overseeing the training of Shiite troops in northern Iraq).

Global Guerrilla's interpretation of the killing of the Saudi general is that ISIS is starting to focus on Saudi Arabia, and taking Mecca and Medina. The problem for Saudi Arabia, as Global Guerrilla explains it, is that Saudi Arabia is unable to defend itself, and the decline in oil prices has made the Middle East less relevant to the United States. Saudi Arabia's options are limited: try and get the big powers (i.e., the U.S.) directly involved in fighting ISIS (difficult with increased domestic production of oil), or hire mercenary armies (nothing like taking us back to pre-Peace of Westphalia days). It cannot rely on its own troops because they are likely riddled with ISIS supporters and sympathizers.

AK-74 Sees Wider Use in Syria

From Bellingcat:
The AK-74M has slowly earned its place as the most popular assault rifle currently in use with the various factions fighting for control over Syria. While originally acquired only in small numbers by Syria, recent deliveries ensured a now solid presence of this rifle in the war-torn country. The AK-74M is not only popular with forces of the Syrian Arab Army and the Republican Guard, but also with various other groups fighting for control of the country.
Read the whole thing.

It's That Time of Year Again...

A post at Common Sense Homesteading entitled "When Should I Start My Seeds? Printable seed starting calendar"

"Bug Out Bag Baloney"

A "let's get real" discussion about bug-out-bags and weight at the Survival Blog.

Irons Sights are Dead ...

... argues the Weapons Man. In the past, the primary arguments for using optical sights on a tactical/defensive weapon has focused on durability issues. That is probably a moot issue now, at least with the mid- to high-range priced optics. So the Weapons Man's article focuses on why an optical sight is superior to an iron sight simply from the aspects of human physiology and human factors.

Obama's Middle East Strategy

A lengthy article at Mosaic that suggests that Obama does have a coherent Middle-East foreign policy strategy--but it involves deference toward Iran and, ultimately, assisting Iran to become a regional power. The Associated Press reports the results:
Edging toward a historic compromise, the U.S. and Iran reported progress Monday on a deal that would clamp down on Tehran's nuclear activities for at least 10 years but then slowly ease restrictions on programs that could be used to make atomic arms.

Officials said there were still obstacles to overcome before a March 31 deadline, and any deal will face harsh opposition in both countries. It also would be sure to further strain already-tense U.S. relations with Israel, whose leaders oppose any agreement that doesn't end Iran's nuclear ambitions.
 
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to strongly criticize the deal in an address before Congress next week. 
Still, a comprehensive pact could ease 35 years of U.S-Iranian enmity — and seems within reach for the first time in more than a decade of negotiations. 
"We made progress," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said as he bade farewell to members of the American delegation at the table with Iran. More discussions between Iran and the six nations engaging it were set for next Monday, a senior U.S. official said. 
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the sides found "a better understanding" at the negotiating table.

Western officials familiar with the talks cited movement but also described the discussions as a moving target, meaning changes in any one area would have repercussions for other parts of the negotiation.
 
The core idea would be to reward Iran for good behavior over the last years of any agreement, gradually lifting constraints on its uranium enrichment and slowly easing economic sanctions.
 (H/t Power Line)

The Realist: Ultra Portable Radios

Today I have another guest post from the Realist, this one on small portable radios:

Audiomax SR-202 in blue and silver, Sony SRF-S84 in blue and silver, Memorex MR4210,
Tecsun R-103 in black and silver, and a red BIC lighter.

Ultra Portable Radios


Disclaimer: All products mentioned in this review were purchased by myself. I did not receive samples, evaluation models, or other compensation from manufacturers or retailers. I have no formal relationship with any manufacturer or retailer mentioned in this review - I have only been an arms-length customer. Further, this review reflects my unique circumstances and subjective opinions with regard to performance and other characteristics of the products being reviewed. Your mileage may vary.

For a while, I've been looking at portable radios that could be stored in an emergency or EDC (Every Day Carry) kit. There are a wide variety of smallish radios available, all of which reflect different design compromises. During this long search for radios, many have disappeared from the domestic market as most people have moved from listening to radio to listening to a digital audio player, or listening to streaming audio or music on their cell phone or computer.

One class of radio suitable to EDC are what I'll dub "ultra portable" radios. These are tiny radios powered by a single AAA cell. They are regularly described as being the same size as a cigarette lighter. They range in price from less than ten dollars to nearly forty dollars, and most can only be purchased online.

Currently, I have found four models to be readily available new. The Audiomax SR-202, the Memorex MR4210, the Sony SRF-S84, and the Tecsun R-103. The Audiomax and Sony radios are most readily available in silver, with blue being more difficult to find.

All four radios are AM/FM radios. Although, the Audiomax SR-202 is monaural FM, while the others are stereo FM. All radios use common stereo ear buds. None of these radios have built-in speakers, so ear buds are mandatory. All radios are completely analog.

For all four radios, their performance is compromised by the diminutive size of the internal ferrite bar antenna, which is typically one inch in length. For all four radios, the bar antenna is horizontal, located in the bottom of the radio. By comparison, most other portable radios have a bar antenna that is typically 2 to 3 inches long. All four radios use the headphone/ear-bud leads as their FM antenna.

Testing and Evaluation


For testing, I primarily relied on high efficiency Sony MDR-E9LP ear buds ($10), with the volume set to a moderate level for listening in a normal office environment. The ear buds supplied with the radios were universally less efficient (i.e. a higher volume setting is required, with increased current consumption) than the Sony ear buds.

While I live and work in a major metropolitan area with numerous radio stations with strong signals, I work in an office environment that makes AM radio reception challenging. Some of my testing was done at my office, and some was done at home. Further, I sometimes used external inductively coupled antennas (a ferrite loopstick antenna and a Select-A-Tenna) in my performance evaluation.

FM testing was limited to verifying that the FM reception worked and had acceptable audio quality.

My evaluation of these radios was primarily limited to their ability to pick up local stations since I was evaluating these radios for inclusion in an emergency kit of some sort.

Audiomax SR-202


The Audiomax SR-202 is the lowest cost model reviewed. Of the four models, it has the stiffest tuning (making it the most difficult to tune). This radio also has some minor fit and finish annoyances that are easily corrected. One of SR-202 radios I purchased had a wire from the antenna sticking out the bottom - careful disassembly and reassembly solved that problem. Performance wise, this radio is incredible. It is very sensitive, with AM sensitivity that was indistinguishable from the Sony SRF-S84. As an added bonus, I was able to operate it for 560 hours listening to AM on a single Rayovac AAA alkaline cell. AM current consumption was 2.9 mA, and FM current consumption was 4.8 mA.

The Audiomax SR-202 is available on ebay through a US seller for $8, including shipping. (Search for "Mini Portable 2 Band Pocket Radio" from seller kuentl. In my experience, shipping from the Far East for this radio was problematic.)

Memorex MR4210


The Memorex MR4210 sells for less than $10 at Walmart, making it the easiest of the four radios to obtain. (It can also be purchased on Amazon or ebay.) It performed well with good AM sensitivity. It is slightly larger than the others, but not unreasonably so. AM current consumption was 9.2 mA, and FM current consumption was 12.5 mA.

Sony SRF-S84


The Sony SRF-S84 is basically a shrunken SRF-59, a radio renowned for its AM sensitivity. It uses the same Sony CXA1129 receiver chip found in the SRF-59. The SRF-S84 does have additional "Base Boost" circuitry not found in the SRF-59 for listening to music. It is the easiest radio of the group to tune. Unfortunately, it has the highest power consumption. AM current consumption was 17 mA, and FM current consumption was 21 mA.

At the time of this writing, the silver (sometimes described as "gold") Sony SRF-S84 is available on Amazon for a little over $33, but the blue version sells for nearly $85. Ebay prices from Hong Kong and China are around $35 for either color.

Tecsun R-103


The Tecsun R-103 was a bit of disappointment. Ergonomically, the radio is well designed, but it has problems picking up weak signals. When trying to tune a weak signal, lots of internal chirping and whining was heard. AM current consumption was 8.0 mA and FM current consumption was 11 mA. This radio is readily available on ebay for less than $20.

Summary


AM reception wise, the Sony SRF-S84 and Audiomax SR-202 seemed to have nearly identical AM performance. The Memorex MR4210 is almost as good, while the Tecsun R-103 performed poorly with weak AM signals.

For power consumption, the Audiomax SR-202 astonished me with an observed operation of 560 hours from a single alkaline AAA cell. I would expect the Memorex and Tecsun radios to operate for a couple hundred hours of AM listening from a single AAA cell. The Sony radio will probably provide close to 100 hours of AM listening on a single alkaline AAA cell.

These radios are all small enough that they can be stored with a set of ear buds in an Altoids tin. The Altoids tin would protect the radio and keep the radio and ear buds together in an emergency kit.

I would rank these radios from best to worst as follows: 1. Audiomax SR-202 because of its sensitivity and astonishing power efficiency. 2. Memorex MR4210 because of its reasonable performance and easy availability. 3. Sony SRF-S84, gets dinged because of its high power consumption - but for its power consumption, the Sony would be the hands-down winner. 4. Tecsun R-103, is last because of its poor performance with weak signals.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

"Weapons and Carry Methods for Foreign Travel"

An article by Greg Ellifritz at Active Response Training discussing some weapons and carry techniques when travelling in a third-world country.

M-1 Garand Mud Tests

So the mythical reliability of the M-14 has been getting slammed recently due to its failure in mud-tests: the open action simply allows mud and other materials to enter the mechanisms and cause serious failures. Due to its open action, the M-1 apparently had the same problems. The Firearms Blog has republished some results of mud-tests performed in 1950, recording that the M1 Garand was unable to shoot more than a single round after being exposed to mud. However, it performed very well in the cold weather tests.

Replacing the Feed Throat of the Marlin Model 60 "Glenfield" (Updated)

Note: This is an expanded and updated version of an earlier article. 

Marlin 60 "Glenfield"

Background

As you can tell from the photograph above, the Marlin Model 60 is a semi-automatic rifle in .22 LR caliber, fed from an underbarrel tube magazine. 

It is one of the most popular, if not the most popular, .22 rifles produced, with approximately 11 million made to date. The rifle has been in continuous production since 1960 in various configurations or variants. Prior to 1980, the rifle boasted a 22-inch micro-groove barrel, and the magazine held 17 rounds. About 1980, the magazine capacity was reduced to 14-rounds. Subsequently, the barrel was shortened to 19 inches to match the shorter magazine. 

The rifle uses a simple blowback system. Although older rifles, such as the one pictured above, did not have a bolt hold-open, I understand that the newer versions do so. The front sight is a simple ramp. The rear site is an open semi-buckhorn style adjustable for elevation. Older models used birchwood stocks and had pressed "checkering" and patterns, including the squirrel hunter shown above. Newer models have plain walnut, laminated, or synthetic stocks, depending on the specific variant.

Mechanically, the rifle has changed very little over its history--with one significant exception. The original rifles used a cast pot-metal "feed throat" through which the bullet was lifted and fed into the chamber. The "feed throat" has the feed ramp and an integral ejector molded into it. In the older models, it was molded in two pieces that fit together length wise, that were held together with a single rivet. Due to reliability and durability issues, this design was later changed to a single cast piece that uses one tail of the lifter spring as the ejector.


The Project

The particular model shown here is an older model, although I don't know the specific date of manufacture. It features the longer barrel and tube magazine, as well as the original feed throat design. When I first obtained the rifle, it was missing the rear sight elevator ramp, which was easily replaced.

I discovered that the rifle also had feeding problems. Although the rifle ejected without trouble, about every other round would misfeed, being pushed up and into the rear of the barrel instead of into the chamber. Initially, I just assumed this was perhaps due to inadequate cleaning. However, after a complete disassembly and cleaning, I still had the same problem. I took the rifle to a gunsmith who, a couple months later, told me the issue was simply one of ammunition. Nevertheless, I still experienced the same feeding problem no matter what type of ammunition I used.

After disassembling the rifle again and paying more attention to how the mechanism worked, I discovered that the screws attaching the action to the receiver had loosened, allowing the feed throat to be forced apart--just enough that it allowed a cartridge to feed at too steep of angle to go into the chamber. After I tightened the screws down, the problem was mostly solved. However, the side plates that hold the action together cannot be tightened down enough to completely eliminate the gap between the pieces of the feed throat.

I decided to replace the feed throat with a newer, one-piece version. Marlin sells a feed throat conversion kit to adapt the older models, although you can also buy the pieces separately. Brownells, Numrich and Midway carry parts--I used Numrich and Midway for the parts for this project. Brownells has an exploded parts diagram that may be useful, even though it is for the newer version of the Model 60.

Warning: The modifications and instructions set out herein were for my firearm, but may not work for yours. All information is presented for entertainment purposes only, and you rely on it at your own risk.

Differences Between the Old and New Feedthroats


The installation of a new feed throat into an older Marlin 60 is not a simple drop-in procedure. Besides requiring the firearm's action to be disassembled, there are some minor modifications that must be made to the feed throat. It is also necessary to use a different cartridge lifter and lifter spring/ejector.


Front view -- old feed throat on right

Back view -- old feet throat on right

Side View -- Old feed throat on top

You can see some of the differences between the old and new feed throat designs in the photographs above. Of course, one of the differences is the fact that the old feed throat is a two-piece design that is held together with a single rivet. As the photograph of the back of the feed throats illustrates, the two halves can be forced apart slightly (at least in my specimen), which I believe to be the cause of the feeding problem.

Another difference you will note is that the older design has three knobs or studs projecting from the sides, which fit into holes in the side plates of the action. These knobs hold the the feed throat in place. However, the new feed throat has 4 knobs. Obviously, the fourth knob (if you are looking at the feed throat from the front, it is the front-left knob, roughly corresponding to the location of the rivet in the old design).

In the side view, you can easily see a third major difference, which is that the old feet throat has an integral ejector cast into it. There is no corresponding feature on the new feed throat. Instead, one of the tails of the lifter spring fits into a notch in the back of the feed throat (you can see this in the middle photograph) and projects slightly over the top of the feed throat, thereby serving double duty as the ejector.

Finally, looking at the front view, you will notice that in the old feed throat, both sides of the top of the feed throat are angled. These match up with angles cut in the bottom of the bolt. But on the new feed throat, one side (the left, as viewed from the front) is squared off. This will also have to be shaped with a file to fit into the old bolt.

The instructions below will tell you when to make the modifications to the new feed throat.

Differences Between the Lifters and Springs

There are also differences between the lifters and springs.

Old Feedthroat, Lifter and Spring

New feed throat, lifter and spring

As you can see from the photographs above, the old cartridge lifter is longer and shaped slightly differently from the new cartridge lifter. The old cartridge lifter will NOT work with the new feedthroat. Although the old cartridge lifter will fit into the new feedthroat, it will not depress far enough for the bolt to travel freely over the feed throat. You must install a new cartridge lifter.

The springs are also different. On the old spring, the two tails (or arms, if you prefer) are close to the same length. One tail has the end sharply bent to one side, and fits through a hole in the side plate to anchor the spring. The other tail fits underneath the cartridge lifter.

The new spring has very different lengths of tails. The short tail, with the sharply bent hook, actually fits under the cartridge lifter. The other tail fits into a groove at the back of the feed throat, and projects slightly over the top to act as the ejector.

Disassembly and Removal of the Old Feedthroat Parts

After making sure that the firearm is unloaded, turn the firearm over so you can see the bottom of stock and trigger guard, so you can see the screws that hold the receiver and stock together. At least on my particular specimen, the slots of the screws are each different sizes, so you will need at least three screw drivers or screw driver bits with varying widths and thicknesses of blades. It is easy to mar the screws if you do not use the correct size of screw driver bit.

Bottom of firearm -- remove the circled screws
As you can see, there are three screws through the trigger guard (at least in the particular model I own) and larger headed screw forward of the trigger guard. Only the three right-most screws need to be removed.

Screws removed
With those three screws removed, the barrel and action should pull away from the stock and trigger/trigger guard assembly.

Back of Action 
Front of action

At the front and back of the action are screws that hold the action to the receiver and barrel assembly. Remove these. As with the other screws, the size of the slots are different, and you will need at least two different sized screw drivers or screw driver bits.

Screws removed.
With these screws removed, you should be able to pull the action loose from the receiver/barrel assembly. Be careful as you remove it to pull down and to the rearward to clear the plunger in the tube magazine. This plunger will be projecting into the hold on the front of the feed throat, and can be damaged or broken if you pull the action straight downward.

Useful tools for disassembly and assembly of the action. Left to right: a small upholstery nail puller,
 a straightened paper clip, and an awl. 
Some tools that will be useful are (1) a small upholstery nail puller (or you can use a flat screwdriver with a slot cut into the blade), (2) a paper clip or piece of wire, and (3) an awl or scribe. The nail puller will be used to press the hammer strut bridge (a small plate at the bottom of the hammer strut) and compress the hammer spring. The paper clip will be used to hold the hammer strut bridge in place so you don't have the hammer strut bridge and hammer spring go flying across the room. The awl will be used to remove and install a couple small c-clips.

Paper clip through a hole at the base of the hammer strut
Before going further, place the paper clip through a small hole you will see at the base of the hammer strut, as shown above. This will keep you from losing the hammer strut bridge or hammer spring.

The two c-clips to be removed

Next, remove the two c-clips shown above, so you can take off the right hand side plate. (Do not attempt to remove the other side-plate as most of the other parts are connected to that side plate, and it will greatly complicate reassembly).

Old feed throat, lifter and spring
With the right side plate removed, the feed throat and lifter will be exposed, and can be easily lifted out.

Old Lifter Spring

At this point, you will need to grind off the extra knob on the new feed throat. The metal is soft and non-ferrous. So, if you are using a power grinder, be careful as the metal will be removed quickly and without the usual spray of sparks thrown off by steel.

New feed throat with knob ground down

Next, put the new spring on its pin.

New Spring
Then place the new feed throat into place, and position the long tail of the lifter spring into the groove on the back of the feed throat. With that done, it is time to push the lifter arm into place. The small hole in the lifter goes over the pin to the far left of the photograph, above. Obviously, the front part of the lifter must slide first into the feed throat. I found it easiest to hold the feed throat in place (you can hold it with your hand, or wind a rubber band around it), hook the short tail of the spring into place, and then push the lifter forward and down (at an angle) into the back of the feed throat, and then maneuver it into place into the pin at the rear of the lifter.
Orientation of the new lifter and spring
If you have not done so at this point, wind a rubber band around the feed throat to hold it in place.

New feed throat, lifter and spring in place

Reassembly

I found the reassembly after this point to be the trickiest part, simply because of the difficulty of compressing the hammer spring so you can fit the tabs on each side of the hammer strut bridge into their respective holes.

Although you may find an easier method, this is what I did: Using the upholstery nail remover, place it so the strut will fit up through the cut in the blade, and push it (compressing the hammer spring) until you can fit the tab into its hole in the left side plate. Then put the right side plate over the right tab of the hammer strut bridge, and, holding it tightly together, shift the side plate around until you can fit it over the other pins that hold it in place. If your experience is like mine, you probably are best doing this step away from children because you will likely be cursing a lot. Be mindful that the paper clip stays in its hole, or you may see the hammer strut bridge and hammer spring fly across the room!

One the side plate is on, use a second rubber band to hold it in place, and push the two c-clips into place. You can then unwind the second rubber band. You will probably just have to cut the first rubber band loose from around the feed throat. Finally, remove the paper clip.

Back together!
If you have not done so previously, it is helpful at this point to remove the bolt from the receiver to help with the final fitting and shaping of the feed throat. Putting the bolt into its rearmost position over the action, you will notice that the bolt will smoothly ride over the new feed throat. This is, as I mentioned earlier, because one side of the feed throat is squared off rather than angled. Look at the bolt and feed ramp from the front, and you will be able to see what I'm talking about.

At this point, you will need to take a file and shape an angle into the side of the feed throat. Again, the metal is soft and easily removed. So stop often and check against the bolt. Don't take off too much material. When it is done, the bolt should ride over the feed throat without lifting up. You do not need to do any shaping of the rear of the feed throat or the side that is already angled.

One thing I found is that the lifter spring/extractor scraped and caught against the bolt. I had to bend the spring down slightly so it wasn't angled so steeply. However, check your bolt before you do this. You don't want to end up having to order a new spring.

Once the bolt rides fairly smooth, you can put the bolt back into place and finish your reassembly. Reassembly from this point forward is the opposite of the disassembly. Again, be careful of the plunger in the tube magazine.

Further Thoughts

As some of you may know, I had previously written up this project, and wound up having ejection problems. My error in my previous attempt was thinking that I could mix parts, using the new feed throat but the old spring and lifter. As I mentioned, the old lifter does not depress far enough to let the bolt clear. However, it was not immediately obvious to me that this was the problem. So, I ground too much off the new feed throat, including on the back of it. By the time I figured out what was wrong, I had removed the cut in the back of the feed throat for the lifter spring/ejector. 

Of course, I didn't know what problems that was going to cause because I didn't realize that the spring also acted as the ejector. I simply replaced the old lifter with a new lifter, and used the old spring. As I reported in my earlier post, when I took the rifle out to test fire, I had no more feeding issues, but it now wouldn't eject. Looking into the issue further was when I realized that the change in design of the feed throat included a change in the ejector. So, the end result is that I had to order a new feed throat and do the whole project over again. 

Currently, I have tested the feeding by hand, but I haven't had an opportunity to go out shooting. I will report on any issues that I have. However, the ejection seemed pretty positive when operating the bolt by hand, so I'm confident that the ejection issues are solved. And since the replacement of the feed throat last summer had solved the feeding problems, I anticipate that those issues are also resolved.

Obviously, ordering a new feed throat kit (the feed throat, lifter, and spring) is a significant cost relative to the cost of a used Marlin 60. So my hope is to see if there is some way to fix the old feed throat to improve reliability. That will probably be a project for this coming summer. 

If you have any experiences or thoughts you would like to relate, please comment.


Update (3/2/2015): I took the rifle out shooting this past weekend and put about 100 rounds of a couple different brands of standard .22 lead round nose through it without any failures to feed or extract. So, I consider the project a success.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Interesting Article on Cyberwarfare

"How 'omnipotent' hackers tied to NSA hid for 14 years—and were found at last."

The Conversation on Race that the Government Does Not Want

Paul A. Rahe asks "What Do the Ten Most Dangerous Cities in America Have in Common?"

CAIR Welcomes Focus on "Right-Wing" Extremism

They're carrying out sporadic terror attacks on police, have threatened attacks on government buildings and reject government authority. 
A new intelligence assessment, circulated by the Department of Homeland Security this month and reviewed by CNN, focuses on the domestic terror threat from right-wing sovereign citizen extremists and comes as the Obama administration holds a White House conference to focus efforts to fight violent extremism. 
Some federal and local law enforcement groups view the domestic terror threat from sovereign citizen groups as equal to -- and in some cases greater than -- the threat from foreign Islamic terror groups, such as ISIS, that garner more public attention.​ 
The Homeland Security report, produced in coordination with the FBI, counts 24 violent sovereign citizen-related attacks across the U.S. since 2010.
Of course, there is no link to the report, nor have I been able to find a copy online. But it must be an amazing report since just 6 months ago, another DHS Intelligence Assessment only could identify 8 such incidents. Interestingly, the CNN reporters resorted to information from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which itself has connections to killers, including a radical atheist who killed 3 Muslims in Chapel Hill.

The media has difficulty distinguishing between left and right-wing (evidenced by their inability to recognize that Nazis were socialists--i.e., left wing--and the KKK was the militant arm of the Democratic party--i.e., left wing). So, I cannot simply accept CNN's characterization of "sovereign citizen extremists" as being "right wing."

However, the real kicker is this:
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today welcomed reports that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will issue a new intelligence assessment on the threat posed by domestic right-wing violent extremists.
I'm sure they do.