Sunday, May 31, 2015

Kyle Lamb Discusses Using the AR For Home Defense

The American Rifleman has published a brief interview with Kyle Lamb about using the AR-15 for home defense. (H/t TTAG). The article is presented by the American Rifleman editors as advocating the AR over other types of commonly used weapons for self defense. However, after reading it a couple times, I realized that was not Lamb's intent. In fact, he stated in the interview that  "as an unbending supporter of the Second Amendment I am in favor of whatever you prefer, are comfortable with, or can afford." Rather, the article is a response to the naysayers who contend that the AR is unsuited to home defense.

With that, I would like to go through his article and interject my own thoughts on the pro's and con's of using a carbine or rifle in home defense.

Lamb's reasons for using the AR system is that it is easy to shoot, accurate, with low recoil.  He does not believe that the shotgun is the best firearm for home defense because the semi-auto versions are not reliable enough, and the pump actions can't be operated with only one-hand; also, the AR (even with a 10-round magazine) packs more firepower. As for handguns, he says:
If you are among those who say, “If I can’t fix the problem with my eight rounds of .45 ACP, it can’t be fixed,” I say please grab a big old mug of black coffee and wake up from your dream. No one knows who, what, when, where or why the fight will start—blowhard statements only degrade an intelligent conversation.

Once again, focusing on reality, 5.56x45 mm NATO ammunition just plain works. There are literally thousands upon thousands of terrorists who have met their ends because of it. Apparently, they did not have a chance to read the latest gun blog decrying the lack of stopping power from the 5.56.

“Pistols point faster,” is a common proclamation, and it can be true if you already have your hands on the gun. However, the last part of that statement is often overlooked: “Pistols point faster, and miss more often.” Although we can quickly get the pistol into the fight, the carbine will get there and be more shootable for the average person. With a carbine in the low-ready position, the average shooter can get shots on target in less than one second. Of course, that is the reaction time once you have made the determination that you should, in fact, shoot. It does not take into consideration the fact that you will have to work your way through a decision-making process that includes threat identification.
The article goes on to address or respond to some specific issues of using a carbine, and tips on running the AR. (I would also recommend Lamb's book, Green Eyes, Black Rifles, for anyone using an AR or thinking about using an AR).

So, with that out of the way, let me add some thoughts on the pro's and con's of using a rifle or carbine:

First, accuracy. Lamb is obviously correct that you are not going to get the same level of accuracy from a handgun as you will from a rifle; and the multiple projectiles from a shotgun preclude the same level of accuracy. However, you must also consider the level of accuracy that you need.  Massad Ayoob has previously addressed this argument, writing:
For you, it won't happen on a battlefield where the nearest Soviet soldier is 600 meters away behind a French hedgerow. For you, it will happen at point-blank range. Studies by the FBI show that the great majority of shoot-outs occur at a range of 7 yards or less, and more commonly at about 7 feet. And this is among police, whose statistics include running gunfights on the highway and long-distance gunfire exchanges with snipers and barricaded felons.

The civilian, almost always, will fight his opponent face-to-face. In that close space he won't be able to bring a rifle or shotgun up before the attacker can take two steps forward and stab, club, or disarm him, or fire his own illegal gun. ...
(The Truth About Self Protection, p. 346). To me, a small apartment where it would be physically impossible to engage anyone at more than 20 feet is a whole different proposition from a 5,000 square foot open plan house where you may be looking at distances of 75 feet or more inside the home, or a rural property where you may be poking around a barnyard to see what disturbed the chickens. Some environments may allow, or demand, something with greater accuracy than a handgun; but I doubt that the Average Joe lives in a home requiring that degree of long range accuracy.

Second, ease of use. To me, this depends. I can't think of any firearm where the controls are more easily manipulated than a Glock or similar handgun, and I think the 1911 is at least as easy to manipulate as an AR. Ease of use is more than just operating the weapon, but also maneuvering with the weapon, and I'm not convinced that moving through the tight confines of the typical apartment or home is easier with an AR than a handgun. I've run mock clearing drills through my house with carbines and handguns, and there are areas were because of the location of the doorways and the proximity of another wall, I cannot negotiate the doorway/corner with a carbine at a ready position, whereas I can with a handgun. Perhaps an SBR would work better, but, like most people, I'm using something with a barrel of 16+ inches in length. This is something that you really need to test yourself before choosing.

Third, Lamb is dismissive of the noise from an AR, suggesting that a .40 S&W is loud, and that the reader could look into obtaining a silencer. All other things being equal, a 5.56 carbine (particularly a short barreled carbine), is going to have more noise and blast than a typical handgun, especially if you discharge it in the tight confines of a narrow interior hallway or other small space. (If your preferred handgun is the .454 Casull, ignore what I just wrote). Other than .22 LR, I haven't fired a rifle in a building (the only indoor ranges I've used have been for handgun and/or .22 rifle), so again I must defer to Massad Ayoob's comments:
Fire a high-powered rifle in an enclosed room and the blast is literally deafening: the muzzle flash looks like a grenade explosion. It will stun and disorient the user and can even cause some degree of permanent hearing damage.
(The Truth About Self Protection, p. 342). What I can say is that I've stood next to or near many people firing different rifles at gun ranges and in the field, and the noise and blast from a .223 without a muzzle device is spectacular--you can sometimes even see the fireball in the daylight; and in the evening it is truly awesome. Flash-hiders are very effective at reducing flash, but the noise remains. And recoil compensator just makes the noise worse for anyone to the sides of the rifle--and in a tight space, reflect that noise back to the shooter. I supposes some may argue that you can put on hearing protections, but if the front door has crashed open and the burglar alarm is already going off, will you have, or take, the time?

Fourth, sight acquisition. At longer ranges, the sight acquisition using a red-dot on a carbine will be faster than the iron sights of a handgun because of the single focal plane. At short ranges, I don't know if it will make much of a difference: I had recently read (although I can't find the article) that for short ranges requiring quick shots, the red dot sight on a handgun was inferior to relying on the front sight. The ability to see the red-dot in low light is probably its biggest advantage for home defense.

Fifth, over-penetration. I think Lamb is being too kind to the AR detractors on this issue. There have been plenty of tests showing that handguns, particularly when using the heavier hollow-point bullets, will penetrate sheet rock better than the 5.56. (See, e.g., here, here, here and here). This test from Recoil magazine seems fairly typical:
Nine walls were constructed and spaced 4 yards apart.  Walls 1-8 were constructed of 2 ½” sheets of drywall. Wall 9 was constructed of 1 ½” drywall, 1 sheet of 7/16 inch plywood, 3” of soft insulation, 9/16” hard insulation and 1/16 hard plastic siding.  The test was designed to replicate an average home.  When bullets started flying, the 147 Grain 9mm consistently penetrated all 9 walls.  The 165 grain .40 S&W consistently penetrated all 9 walls.  The 55 grain .223 has a maximum penetration of 8 walls (fired from an M16, M4A1 and a H&K G36) the 62 grain bonded 5.56 (fired from the same weapons) had a maximum penetration of 8 walls.
If over-penetration is a concern, you are probably better off using the AR with light weight (i.e., 55 grain) hollow-point ammunition.

Sixth, Lamb states that carrying the carbine around a battlefield is much easier than a handgun because the carbine only requires a sling, while the methods of carrying a handgun are more complicated. In my mind, in the context of home defense, this is a non-issue. No one is going to home-carry a carbine, even if they can sling it over his/her shoulder; and if someone is grabbing the gun in the middle of the night, the issue of a holster or sling is a moot point.

Seventh. I don't see how anyone can disagree that the 5.56 round is going to be more effective, in terms of terminal ballistics, than a handgun (unless when shooting through walls--see some of the articles on barrier penetration cited above). The AR wins hands down.

Eighth. The magazine capacity of an AR (at 30 rounds) is definitely superior to the typical magazine capacity of a handgun. There are plenty of accounts of home invasions by multiple assailants, or perps being shot multiple times without any seeming effect, which tend to favor the carbine. (See my post "6-Reasons Why You Need a 30-Round Magazine"). But there are those 30-round Glock magazines ....

Ninth. Lamb obliquely discusses reliability of the AR on several points versus other types of weapons. I'll just say that, at least when discussing a semi-auto, that the AR is probably going to be more forgiving of incorrect posture or grip than a semi-auto handgun. I'm not saying that it is impossible to "limp-wrist" an AR, but that I've never seen it happen.

Tenth. Lamb seems to sidestep maneuverability and weapon retention issues, which are really important in the home defense context. Lamb seems to think that if you use the gun, the perp is going to die. But what if the perp surrenders without a shot, or is wounded, and you are trying to dial 911 while holding him/her at gun point? Or what if you turn a corner and find yourself face-to-face with a perp? Handguns are much easier to operate one-handed, or retain control of in a struggle, than a long arm. For instance, Massad Ayoob writes on this issue:
It is easier to get a shotgun or rifle away from someone than a pistol even if they're holding it with both hands. As any military recruit has been taught, all you have to do is grab the barrel and the stock farther out than the person holding it, and you have enough leverage to twist it out of their grasp. It is far, far easier to do this to a homeowner who has one hand on the shotgun and the other hand occupied by the telephone.
.(The Truth About Self Protection, p. 333).

So, in the end, the issue of AR versus handgun seems to be a wash--there are good and bad points, advantages and disadvantages to both. Frankly, I keep both a handgun and carbine available for use.


New Martial Arts Technique: The Tongue Punch

Another humorous close quarter technique from Master Ken:


Friday, May 29, 2015

"War stuff cut in half!"

A photo essay at War History Online. Guns, grenades, even a tank, cut in half so you can see what it looks like inside.

The Tepid Run on Greek Banks

Bloomberg reports that "Greek Bank Deposits Bleeding Worsens in April." According to the article, Greek private sector deposits have fallen over 100 billion Euros since their peak in 2009. Frankly, I'm surprised that more money hasn't been withdrawn. Right now the Greeks can withdraw their money denominated in Euros. However, if Greece defaults on its IMF loans, much of that money may be seized; and it is possible that it will be replaced with valueless Greek Drachmas (or whatever Greece decides to call its future currency) if Greece is forced to withdraw from the monetary union.

Unmarked Surveillance Aircraft

An article entitled "Mysterious low-flying plane over Twin Cities raises questions of surveillance," triggered an aviation buff to investigate how a small plane was being used over Minneapolis-St. Paul, and other cities. From the article:
Bristow, just outside Washington, D.C.’s Beltway, has 65 planes registered there, the bulk of them small Cessna 182s registered to a handful of companies with two- or three-letter acronyms in their names, like LCB Leasing. 
Zimmerman, who spotted the plane over Bloomington, said he pored through FAA records to find the call letters for each plane and then searched for images of them. He found photographs that show the planes outfitted with “external pods” that could house imagery equipment. He also found some of the planes modified with noise-muffling capability. That’s not common for a small plane, he said.

“The fact is there are several very powerful surveillance technologies that are deployed by fixed-wing aircraft circling over cities,” said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the ACLU. “These are powerful surveillance technologies that we think the public ought to have a role in discussing and debating.”

The planes use “persistent wide-area surveillance” to photograph large areas for hours at a time, Stanley said. The captured images allow authorities to go back in time, if necessary, to trace pedestrians and vehicles who come to their attention.

Other devices known as “dirtboxes,” “Stingrays” or “IMSI catchers” can capture cellphone data. Stanley said it’s still unclear what technologies have been used in the surveillance flights.

Zimmerman said he’s in favor of using technology to fight crime but criticized the government’s secretive approach, the same criticism that was leveled in Boston when a city made skittish by the marathon bombing had to wonder why planes were flying low overhead at night.

“Why don’t we just say these are official things, rather than clouding them in three-letter contract companies?” Zimmerman asked. “I would feel better if these guys just flew the colors. I think we would all be better off.”

More Evidence of the Coming Ice Age

From The Daily Caller:

A new study out of the United Kingdom predicts the Earth is about to go through a major climatic shift that could mean decades of cooler temperatures and fewer hurricanes hitting the United States.

Scientists at the University of Southampton predict that a cooling of the Atlantic Ocean could cool global temperatures a half a degree Celsius and may offer a “brief respite from the persistent rise of global temperatures,” according to their study.

This cooling phase in the Atlantic will influence “temperature, rainfall, drought and even the frequency of hurricanes in many regions of the world,” says Dr. Gerard McCarthy. The study’s authors based their results on ocean sensor arrays and 100 years of sea-level data.

* * *

“The observations of [AMO] from [sensor arrays], over the past ten years, show that it is declining,” Dr. David Smeed, a co-author, said in a statement. “As a result, we expect the AMO is moving to a negative phase, which will result in cooler surface waters. This is consistent with observations of temperature in the North Atlantic.”

Researchers argue that a negative AMO will bring “drier summers in Britain and Ireland, accelerated sea-level rise along the northeast coast of the United States, and drought in the developing countries of the Sahel region,” according to the study’s press release. Interestingly enough, the study also predicts fewer hurricanes hitting the U.S.– a result of a cooler Atlantic.

Atlantic cooling can impact the climate for decades, according to researchers, on timescales from 20 to 30 years. This means cooler global temperatures and changing weather patterns could unfold over the next two to three decades, possibly extending the so-called “pause” in global warming.
* * *

Some scientists, however, have been arguing the world is indeed headed for a cooling phase based on solar cycles. Scientists from Germany to India have argued that weakening solar activity could bring about another “Little Ice Age.”

Massive Conspiracy and Illegal Conduct by Orange County Prosecutors and Law Enforcement

An article entitled "You’re All Out" at Slate recounts how a California judge has disqualified all Orange County prosecutors from working on a capital case because of evidence that law enforcement and the district attorney's office worked together to obtain an illegal confession and conceal exculpatory evidence. Moreover, this conspiracy went beyond just this single case, but had become a standard practice. The County even maintained a database of the undisclosed exculpatory evidence in cases. From the article:
In an explosive moment following a hearing last year, Sanders revealed that the Orange County Sheriff’s Department has maintained a massive, secret, 25-year-old computerized record-keeping system called TRED. These TRED documents were full of potentially exculpatory data, but the agency officials had systematically refused to turn any of them over, or even acknowledge their very existence, to defense counsel.

In his March order, Goethals wrote: “It is now apparent that the discovery situation in this case is far worse than the court previously realized. In fact, a wealth of potentially relevant discovery material—an entire computerized data base built and maintained by the Orange County Sheriff over the course of many years which is a repository for information related directly to the very issues that this court was examining as a result of the defendant’s motion—remained secret, despite numerous specific discovery orders issued by this court, until long after the initial evidentiary hearing in this case was concluded and rulings were made.”

Laura Fernandez of Yale Law School, who studies prosecutorial misconduct, says it’s amazing that both the sheriff’s office and the DA’s office worked together to cover up the misconduct: “From my perspective,” she says, “what really sets Orange County apart is the massive cover-up by both law enforcement and prosecutors—a cover-up that appears to have risen to the level of perjury and obstruction of justice. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors in Orange County have gone to such lengths to conceal their wide-ranging misconduct that they have effectively turned the criminal justice system on its head: dismissing charges and reducing sentences in extraordinarily serious cases, utterly failing to investigate unsolved crimes and many murders (by informants—in order to prevent that evidence from ever getting to defense lawyers), while simultaneously pushing forward where it would seem to make no sense (except that it conceals more bad acts by the state), as in the case of an innocent 14-year old boy who was wrongfully detained for two years.”
 While we most often thing of "without rule of law" to be anarchy, it can also take the form of "rule by law" where there are laws, and police or troops to enforce those laws, but the principles of "rule of law" have been abandoned in favor of tyranny. Nazi Germany, for instance, had "rule by law"--it was just selective in how, when and against who laws would be enforced.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Quotable Quote: Science Fraud

The Powerline blog has been publishing a series looking at fraud in science--specifically, underlying papers published in scientific journals. A recent article included the following quotation from Richard Horton, the editor of The Lancet:
The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. . .
(Underline added). (See also Retraction Watch, which attempts to document retractions made by science journals).

A Quick Run Around the Web: May 28, 2015

Between an uptick in projects at work and jobs that needed doing around the yard/garden at home, I've not had as much time to blog this past week or so. So, the best I can do is point you to some interesting and/or useful articles:

Just Another Day In The End Of Times

Sometimes you just see or hear things that confirm that we live in the last days of Western Civilization. A few today:


The conflict between gay rights and religious liberty is shaping up to be a big issue in the Republican fight for the White House.

Senator Marco Rubio is the latest candidate to weigh in. This is what he told David Brody of CBN News.

"If you think about it, we are at the water's edge of the argument that mainstream Christian teaching is hate speech," Rubio told CBN News. "Because today, we've reached the point in our society where if you do not support same-sex marriage you are labeled a homophobe and a hater."

"So what's the next step after that?" Brody asked.

"After they are done going after individuals, the next step is to argue that the teachings of mainstream Christianity, the catechism of the Catholic Church is hate speech and there's a real and present danger," he warned.

I disagree with Senator Rubio on one point: We are not at the water's edge. We are waist-deep. And there's a tidal wave of anti-Christian bigotry on the horizon.


Now, a source has provided photographic evidence of the tenor of some of the “white privilege” training being administered to St. Paul teachers.

According to the source, the photo is from a training this year at Bruce Vento Elementary during a staff meeting.

It features a figure wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood with the question, “When do you wear the hood?”

The principal allegedly displayed the picture and “asked the staff to sit in silence and reflect on it for 3 to 4 minutes.”

The source refused to elaborate out of fear of retribution.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ragnarok Continues

Reuters reports:
Russia's army is massing troops and hundreds of pieces of weaponry including mobile rocket launchers, tanks and artillery at a makeshift base near the border with Ukraine, a Reuters reporter saw this week.

Many of the vehicles have number plates and identifying marks removed while many of the servicemen had taken insignia off their fatigues. As such, they match the appearance of some of the forces spotted in eastern Ukraine, which Kiev and its Western allies allege are covert Russian detachments.

The scene at the base on the Kuzminsky firing range, around 50 km (30 miles) from the border, offers some of the clearest evidence to date of what appeared to be a concerted Russian military build-up in the area.
Related Articles: Ragnarok Ragnarok--Part II

Rumors of War

"High profile military analyst and former US Naval War College lecturer John Schindler tweeted last week: “Said a senior NATO (non-US) GOFO to me today: ‘We’ll probably be at war this summer. If we’re lucky it won’t be nuclear.’"

The Elites Look to the Future and See A Surplus Population

Global warming and environmentalism. Artificial intelligence and robotics. Unsustainable public pensions. All of these have in common a vision that there will be an unnecessary, or surplus, population. 

Notwithstanding that the world's population will begin to decline after 2050, there is a firm belief that there are too many people chasing after too few resources. For instance, from the Population Institute, on "Why Population Matters":
With the world confronting a host of major crises relating to climate, energy, severe poverty, food, the global economy and political instability, why should anyone be concerned about population? The simple answer is that virtually all of the major problems that confront the world today relate in some critical way to population growth.

While public concern about rapid population growth has subsided in recent decades, world population is still growing at about 80 million people a year, or about 220,000 people per day. If current trends persist, there will 2.5 billion more people on the planet by mid-century, bringing the total to about 9.2 billion. That projected population growth raises a host of questions about the future of humanity and the planet we inhabit.

Most importantly, will we be able to feed 9.2 billion people? This year, for the first time in history, over 1 billion people go to bed hungry every day. High food prices and the global economic recession have pushed 100 million more people than last year into chronic hunger and poverty. And, looking ahead, we know that climate change, rising energy prices, and growing water scarcity will make it harder, not easier, to grow the crops necessary to feed an expanding population. Mounting soil erosion and the loss of farm land will also add to the challenge of boosting food production.

And it's not just food that's potentially in short supply. Water scarcity is a growing concern. In many parts of the world today, major rivers at various times of the year no longer reach the ocean. In some areas, lakes are going dry and underground water aquifers are being rapidly depleted. And climate change, of course, will make the water situation even more critical. Drier areas will be more prone to drought, wetter areas more prone to flooding, and the summer runoff from snowpack and glaciers will diminish.

As food, water, and other resources are strained by the escalating demands of a growing world population, the number of environmental refugees in the world will rise…and so will the potential for conflict and civil war.
This is nothing new. Malthusian beliefs underlie many of the programs and caused championed by the progressives.

Much as I hate to agree with any aspect of Marxist theory, there is a certain amount of truth to this observation from Charles Derber:
Long-term high unemployment is a grave problem – but it’s also just the most visible sign of a deeper one. This larger problem, currently one without a name, is the prospect of an America in which many millions of Americans are destined to become “surplus.”

Here’s the issue: We have more people who need or want jobs than our existing economic structure provides.
This is borne out by labor statistics. As Jim Clifton points out, the currently low unemployment rate is a lie because it does not include the chronically unemployed (those who have given up looking for work) but includes many that are only marginally employed. This is reflected in the the low labor participation rate.

Technology will further reduce the need for human workers. The last several years have seen plenty of articles warning of the impending loss of jobs to automation. For instance, this 2012 NBC lists 9 jobs that will be lost to automation. Natural News has proclaimed: "Robotics revolution to replace most human workers in three generations; labor class to be systematically eliminated." The Guardian reported that nearly 50% of workers would lose their jobs to automation, including highly trained jobs such as medical professionals. (See also this Oxford study: "The Future of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs to Computerisation?"--PDF). It may not just be economic efficiency contributing to the replacement: this New York Times op-ed, for instance, suggests:
Machines aren’t used because they perform some tasks that much better than humans, but because, in many cases, they do a “good enough” job while also being cheaper, more predictable and easier to control than quirky, pesky humans. Technology in the workplace is as much about power and control as it is about productivity and efficiency.
While the standard belief is that automation will pave the way to job growth, albeit in different jobs or economic sectors, that outcome is not certain. This Pew Report reports on a survey of experts, where nearly half (48%) expected robots to replace more jobs than are created. In fact, some experts have suggested that this type of job destruction, without replacement, has been going on for some time. MIT Technology Review, in an article entitled "How Technology is Destroying Jobs," begins:
Given his calm and reasoned academic demeanor, it is easy to miss just how provocative Erik Brynjolfsson’s contention really is. ­Brynjolfsson, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and his collaborator and coauthor Andrew McAfee have been arguing for the last year and a half that impressive advances in computer technology—from improved industrial robotics to automated translation services—are largely behind the sluggish employment growth of the last 10 to 15 years. Even more ominous for workers, the MIT academics foresee dismal prospects for many types of jobs as these powerful new technologies are increasingly adopted not only in manufacturing, clerical, and retail work but in professions such as law, financial services, education, and medicine.

That robots, automation, and software can replace people might seem obvious to anyone who’s worked in automotive manufacturing or as a travel agent. But Brynjolfsson and McAfee’s claim is more troubling and controversial. They believe that rapid technological change has been destroying jobs faster than it is creating them, contributing to the stagnation of median income and the growth of inequality in the United States. And, they suspect, something similar is happening in other technologically advanced countries.

Perhaps the most damning piece of evidence, according to Brynjolfsson, is a chart that only an economist could love. In economics, productivity—the amount of economic value created for a given unit of input, such as an hour of labor—is a crucial indicator of growth and wealth creation. It is a measure of progress. On the chart Brynjolfsson likes to show, separate lines represent productivity and total employment in the United States. For years after World War II, the two lines closely tracked each other, with increases in jobs corresponding to increases in productivity. The pattern is clear: as businesses generated more value from their workers, the country as a whole became richer, which fueled more economic activity and created even more jobs. Then, beginning in 2000, the lines diverge; productivity continues to rise robustly, but employment suddenly wilts. By 2011, a significant gap appears between the two lines, showing economic growth with no parallel increase in job creation. Brynjolfsson and McAfee call it the “great decoupling.” And Brynjolfsson says he is confident that technology is behind both the healthy growth in productivity and the weak growth in jobs.
(Underline added). (See also "The End of Labor: How to Protect Workers From the Rise of Robots" at The Atlantic).

The end result? Possible this, as described by Yuval Noah Harari, a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem:
'I think it is likely in the next 200 years or so homo sapiens will upgrade themselves into some idea of a divine being, either through biological manipulation or genetic engineering of by the creation of cyborgs, part organic part non-organic.

'It will be the greatest evolution in biology since the appearance of life. Nothing really has changed in four billion years biologically speaking.
 
'But we will be as different from today's humans as chimps are now from us.' 
The technology to do this, however, will be restricted to the very wealthy, claims Professor Harari.
* * *
He added that the most interesting place in the world from a religious perspective is not the Middle East but Silicon Valley. 
Here, people are developing what he describes as a 'techno-religion' in which they believe death is just a technological problem. 
'Now we are saying we do not need God just technology,' he added.
It's worthwhile to consider what these "demi-gods" will do with the "surplus population" over which they reign.

Quotable Quote--Safety Is Not A Virtue

I care deeply about my children’s safety. But safety is just one important thing to teach our children. And it’s not even anywhere near the most important thing. Keeping your kids from dying or getting hurt is of secondary importance to teaching them how to live. Safety isn’t even a virtue. If you’re teaching your kids more about safety than you are about honesty, kindness, respect for others, responsibility, gratitude, integrity, cooperation, determination, social skills, enthusiasm, compassion and manners, you’re doing it wrong.
--from "What Your Neighborhood List-Serv Tells You About The Demise of America" by Molly Hemingway.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

John Mosby Writes About Knives as Combat Weapons

Interesting article. (H/t Active Response Training)

China Warns that War Is Inevitable Unless They Are Allowed Control of South China Sea

From The Telegraph:
Global Times, a tabloid newspaper run by the Communist Party, said that China might have to “accept” there would be conflict with the United States. 
“If the United States’ bottom line is that China has to halt its activities, then a US-China war is inevitable in the South China Sea”, said the paper, which is often seen as a mouth-piece of hardline nationalists in the government in Beijing.
Various pundits have suggested that China's belligerence may be the result of trying to focus public attention outside China once the Chinese economy nosedives. I'm sure that readers of this blog are tired of hearing about the inevitable decline of the Chinese economy when it doesn't seem like it, but financial emergencies rarely happen overnight. Besides, the numbers have increasingly been looking bad. From another article at The Telegraph discussing the global economic slowdown, the article notes in regard to China:
Much now depends on China, where the economy is starting to look "Japanese". Dario Perkins from Lombard Street Research says the Chinese economy is in a much deeper downturn than admitted so far by the authorities. It probably contracted outright in the first quarter. 
Electricity use has turned negative. Rail freight has been falling at near double-digit rates. What began as a deliberate move by Beijing to choke off a credit bubble has taken on a life of its own, evolving into a primordial balance-sheet purge.

It was inevitable that China's investment bubble would lead to vast inventory of unsold property. The country produced more cement between 2011 and 2013 than the US in the 20th Century -
 
Mr Perkins said China is now in a “classic debt deflation spiral” as excess capacity holds down prices. Factory gate inflation is now minus 4.6pc. This in turn is tightening the noose further by pushing up real borrowing costs. 
The Chinese authorities have so far resisted the temptation to flood the system with fresh stimulus, fearing that this would store up even greater trouble.

They have taken steps to offset a clampdown on local government spending and avert a “fiscal cliff” that might otherwise have occurred. They have loosened policy for banks just enough to offset the contractionary effects of capital flight. But they have not yet come to the rescue.
 
This matters enormously. Andrew Roberts from RBS says China accounted for 85pc of all global growth in 2012, 54pc in 2013, and 30pc in 2014. This is likely to fall to 24pc this year. “If there is only one statistic that you need to know in the world right now, this is it,” he said.

"Pentagon report predicted West’s support for Islamist rebels would create ISIS"

An article from Insurge-Intelligence describing yet another "the end justify the means" failure of policy. From the article:
A declassified secret US government document obtained by the conservative public interest law firm, Judicial Watch, shows that Western governments deliberately allied with al-Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups to topple Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad.

The document reveals that in coordination with the Gulf states and Turkey, the West intentionally sponsored violent Islamist groups to destabilize Assad, and that these “supporting powers” desired the emergence of a “Salafist Principality” in Syria to “isolate the Syrian regime.”

According to the newly declassified US document, the Pentagon foresaw the likely rise of the ‘Islamic State’ as a direct consequence of this strategy, and warned that it could destabilize Iraq. Despite anticipating that Western, Gulf state and Turkish support for the “Syrian opposition” — which included al-Qaeda in Iraq — could lead to the emergence of an ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the document provides no indication of any decision to reverse the policy of support to the Syrian rebels. On the contrary, the emergence of an al-Qaeda affiliated “Salafist Principality” as a result is described as a strategic opportunity to isolate Assad.
* * *
The conventional wisdom is that the US government did not retain sufficient oversight on the funding to anti-Assad rebel groups, which was supposed to be monitored and vetted to ensure that only ‘moderate’ groups were supported.

However, the newly declassified Pentagon report proves unambiguously that years before ISIS launched its concerted offensive against Iraq, the US intelligence community was fully aware that Islamist militants constituted the core of Syria’s sectarian insurgency.

Despite that, the Pentagon continued to support the Islamist insurgency, even while anticipating the probability that doing so would establish an extremist Salafi stronghold in Syria and Iraq.

As Shoebridge told me, “The documents show that not only did the US government at the latest by August 2012 know the true extremist nature and likely outcome of Syria’s rebellion” — namely, the emergence of ISIS — “but that this was considered an advantage for US foreign policy. This also suggests a decision to spend years in an effort to deliberately mislead the West’s public, via a compliant media, into believing that Syria’s rebellion was overwhelmingly ‘moderate.’”

Monday, May 25, 2015

Ultimate Survival Technologies 2400 Calorie Emergency Food Ration Bars

I'm glad to announce another guest post from the Realist:
 The front of an UST Emergency Food
Ration Bar package


A couple months ago, my local Walmart started selling UST emergency food ration bars for five dollars each. This was the first time I had seen emergency food bars like this sold in a major retail outlet. In the past, I had only seen them sold mail-order or in a specialty store.

Since I first saw them at Walmart, I have bought a few of them to add to my long-term food storage. During a recent trip to Walmart, I decided to buy a few more, and discovered that one of the packages on the shelf had lost its vacuum seal (more on this later). Since I knew it was fresh stock, instead of putting the damaged package back on the shelf, I decided to buy it and actually try them out. (Yes, I know. I should have tried one out first before buying several packages.)

The UST emergency food ration bars are manufactured in the U.S. by Mayday Industries, who have been selling emergency food ration bars under their own name for many years.

Each 2400 calorie bar is scored to be broken into six individual servings of 400 calories each. Each serving contains 18 grams of fat (including 9 grams of saturated fat), 54 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of protein, and a variety of vitamins and minerals. The manufacturer claims their emergency food ration bars have a five year shelf life. (From previous research on this type of emergency food ration bar, that is five years storage in a harsh environment, and not five years in a dark cool room.) Here is the Mayday web page on their 2400 calorie food bar, which looks identical to the UST product: http://www.maydayorders.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=FB24M

A food ration bar before it has been broken into individual servings.
The food bar appears to have been baked, but is very crumbly when broken and eaten. As described on the package, it has a mild apple cinnamon flavor, and is not quite as sweet as a shortbread. The bar is very dry, and while not thirst provoking, it is best consumed with a drink of some sort. I was mildly hungry when I started eating it, and was pleasantly surprised to find that the one serving left me feeling full and satisfied. In contrast, 400 calories of cookies or candy would have left me craving more.

As eluded to above, each food bar is vacuum sealed in a heavy laminated plastic-foil package. While this packaging is quite impervious to a variety of contaminants, it is surprisingly fragile. The vacuum process leaves sharp corners and bends in the packaging material, and trying to flatten out a crease or bend for better storage in an emergency kit can create a pin-hole breach of the material, causing the package to loose its vacuum. When this happens, air and moisture will be let in, dramatically shortening the shelf-life of the food bar.

If you loose vacuum while handling the package, I would recommend eating it soon as practical. If you don't know when the vacuum was lost, either carefully inspect the food (check to see if it is rancid, moldy, or mushy) before eating it or discard it.

The package on the left has lost its vacuum. Note the sharp textures visible on the package on the right relative to the package on the left that has lost its vacuum.
Previously, I had put similarly vacuum packed Datrex emergency food ration bars in the emergency kit in my vehicle. To reduce the risk of compromising the vacuum, I carefully wrapped each package in several layers of heavy plastic cling wrap and packing tape (tape over the cling wrap to reinforce corners and edges) to immobilize the vacuum packaging. Don't be surprised if you compromise the vacuum on one of the food bars while trying to immobilize the vacuum packaging - I lost one that way, and I was being careful. I just checked (at the time of this writing), and after two-and-a-half years bouncing around in the emergency kit in the back of my vehicle, the vacuum packaging on the Datrex bars is still intact.

Since there is no practical way to close the packaging after it has been opened, I would recommend including one or more one-gallon zip-lock freezer bags to store any uneaten portion of the food bar. Zip-lock freezer bags can serve numerous other purposes in an emergency kit, too.

There is a lot to be said for an emergency food source that has a long shelf life, is tolerant of less than ideal storage conditions, can be eaten without preparation, and doesn't cost a small fortune. As an added bonus, it is available at Walmart for a very reasonable price. Try one out. I'm sure you will be pleasantly surprised and want to add some of these emergency food ration bars to your emergency preparations.

Bon appetit!

Memorial Day

Graves at Arlington on Memorial Day.JPG
Arlington National Cemetery 2008 (Source

The Bivouac of the Dead

The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo;
No more on life's parade shall meet
The brave and daring few.
On Fame's eternal camping-ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And Glory guards with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead.

No rumour of the foe's advance
Now swells upon the wind;
No troubled thought at midnight haunts
Of loved ones left behind;
No vision of the morrow's strife
The warrior's dream alarms;
No braying horn nor screaming fife
At dawn shall call to arms.

Their shivered swords are red with rust,
Their plumed heads are bowed;
Their haughty banner trailed in dust
Is now their martial shroud,
And plenteous funeral tears have washed
The red stains from each brow,
And their proud forms in battle gashed
Are free from anguish now.

The neighing steed, the flashing blade,
The trumpet's stirring blast,
The charge, the dreadful cannonade,
The din and shout are past;
No war's wild note, nor glory's peal,
Shall thrill with fierce delight
Those breasts that never more shall feel
The rapture of the fight.

Like the dread northern hurricane
That sweeps this broad plateau,
Flushed with the triumph yet to gain
Came down the serried foe;
Our heros felt the shock, and leapt
To meet them on the plain;
And long the pitying sky hath wept
Above our gallant slain.

Sons of our consecrated ground,
Ye must not slumber there,
Where stranger steps and tongues resound
Along the heedless air.
Your own proud land's heroic soil
Shall be your fitter grave;
She claims from War his richest spoil -
The ashes of her brave.

So 'neath their parent turf they rest,
Far from the gory field;
Borne to a Spartan mother's breast
On many a bloody shield;
The sunshine of their native sky
Smiles sadly on them here,
And kindred hearts and eyes watch by
The heroes' sepulcher.

Rest on, embalmed and sainted dead!
Dear as the blood you gave,
No impious footsteps here shall tread
The herbage of your grave;
Nor shall your glory be forgot
While Fame her record keeps,
Or Honor points the hallowed spot
Where Valor proudly sleeps.

Yon marble minstrel's voiceless stone
In deathless songs shall tell,
When many a vanished age hath flown,
The story how ye fell;
Nor wreck, nor change, or winter's blight
Not Time's remorseless doom,
Shall dim one ray of holy light
That gilds your glorious tomb.

           -- Theodore O'Hara

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Currently Free on Amazon: "Tragedy and Hope" by Carroll Quigley

Carroll Quigley's book, Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time, is currently available for free for the Kindle.Amazon indicates that "Carroll Quigley (1910-1977) was a highly respected professor at the School of Foreign Service at Gerogetown University. He was an instructor at Princeton and Harvard; a consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense, the House Committee on Astronautics and Space Exploration; and the U.S. Navy." He was also the preeminent historian of his time. Although Tragedy and Hope was written in the 1960's, it is probably one of the most significant and complete histories of how the current international financial and political order was created. (Some of you may know that Tragedy and Hope was the book that W. Cleon Skousen reviewed and commented on in his book, The Naked Capitalist). It has not been a widely available book, so this is a good opportunity to read it.

As always, I would note that these deals on Amazon can end abruptly (I once ordered a book that went from "free" to "$3.99" sometime between my opening the web page and when I placed an order about a minute later).

Friday, May 22, 2015

Sao Paulo's Drought

drought-3
(Source)
Last year's drought in Sao Paulo, Brazil, was the worst in some 80 years, leading to water shortages bad enough to cause rioting and unrest in some towns earlier this year. Apparently there was some limited respite with the annual rains in February, but it was not enough. Brazil is heading into the dry season with reservoir levels at only 30%.

The International Business Times reported earlier this month that " the city’s reservoirs are at just 27 percent capacity, down from 40 percent in May 2014. Other reservoirs that aren’t at dangerously low levels are too polluted for human use." The article went on to state:
Arguments have broken out among some water-strapped residents living in the city’s crowded apartment buildings in the midst of water rationing, Claire Rigby, a British journalist based in São Paulo, reported. Other city dwellers whose water was turned off for large chunks of the day took to the streets in February to protest the government turning off their taps.

Leaders met last week to discuss handling São Paulo’s worsening water crisis, with some raising concerns over a collapse in social order as residents become increasingly desperate. Officials pointed to the city of Itu, which broke out in intense protests and looting last year during the drought. “If a small city like Itu unleashed all of that in such a short time, imagine what could happen in a city like [São Paulo,]” Paulo Massato, engineer at São Paulo’s water facility, said during the conference, according to La Nueva Televisora del Sur.
Telesur similarly noted the potential of having to call in the military if the drought worsened:
The water crisis is the worst is the last 84 years, and the dry season has only just begun, with less water in the dams than in 2014, when restrictions on water began and the authorities began to realize the seriousness of the disaster. 
Last week, a conference between academics, military employees and local councils to discuss how to handle the coming five months in the case that reserves run out, and the city might go up to five days without water. Paulo Massato, engineer at the state water company, told the conference that water supplies could run out as early as July, if emergency works are not finished in time. 
Engineers are working to create infrastructure to connect various reservoirs, which, if completed, would mean that there would be enough water to last until October. 
On being asked what would happen in the worst case scenario, with no rain and incomplete works, Massato replied, “It would be terrible. No would be no food, no would be no electricity … It would be a scene from the end of the world. There a thousands of people, and it could cause social chaos. It would not only be a problem of water shortage, it would be much more than that.” 
Last year the smaller city of Itu suffered a similar drought, causing violent protests and looting. 
“If a small city like Itu unleashed all of that in such a short time, imagine what could happen in a city like (Sao Paulo),” said Massato.
As the Telesur article notes, another issue facing the region are electrical shortages as reservoirs feeding hydroelectric generators go dry. Approximately two-thirds of Brazil's electricity comes from hydropower. This May 19 Reuters article notes that Brazilian authorities are betting on more rain to save the situation, rather than cut back on power consumption. The article goes on to report:
Reservoirs in Brazil's southeast and central regions were at about 30 percent of their capacity at the end of April. With that level of water, the dams are expected to reach November - the start of the next rainy season - at 10 percent full, according to forecasts by Brazil's power grid operator, ONS.

That is the absolute minimum level required to operate power plants, Energy Minister Eduardo Braga told reporters in Brasilia in January.
Another impact of the drought, however, is an increase of dengue fever. What, with people storing water in all sorts of various containers, the mosquito population has exploded.

However, with it looking like a strong El Nino this year, it is possible that Brazil will see more rain.

Interesting times.

"Ballistic Vests and Movement Matrix"

An article from Suarez International discussing the importance of movement even when using a ballistic vest.

"How do farmers truly survive when SHTF?"

FerFAL has long maintained that it is a mistake to automatically assume that rural areas are your best bet for surviving a SHTF event. In the above-entitled article, he offers up a couple episodes from a documentary series that illustrates the difficulties of farmers facing the collapse of law (or at least, rule of law) in Africa.

Quotable Quote--May 22, 2015

The refugee movement is THE movement of the 21st century

          --Angela Davis, former president of the Communist Party USA.

It's Not Summer Yet! New England and Atlantic Coast States To Get Hit With Freezing Temperatures

This Memorial Day weekend is going to bring unseasonable (but probably becoming more common in the near future) cold weather--i.e., freezing or lower--to most areas of New England and the Mid-Atlantic. Obviously the concern here is for garden plants and fruit trees. Here are some articles discussing how to protect plants from frost:

If you are covering your plants, it is important that the covering (especially if using plastic) not touch the plant as it will transmit the cold to the leaves or parts being contacted, and may be worse than having no cover. You can build a frame to hold the covering; or, as the Sunset magazine article suggests, if you lack time, put a patio chair or something similar over the plant to hold the covering.


Common Ballistic Terms You Should Know

An illustrated guide to the most common ballistic terms every rifle shooter or hunter should know from Guns & Ammo. (H/t The Firearms Blog).

Thursday, May 21, 2015

"Police are being targeted. Is this the slow motion societal collapse?"

SNAFU! looks at the increased targeting and attacks of police by criminals and wonders if this is a sign or symptom of a slow motion collapse.

Western civilization began to collapse over a century ago. Europe committed suicide in WWI; WWII was just the funeral. The United States has since been serving as Atlas, carrying the whole thing on our shoulders. We (speaking of the United States) passed from culture to civilization (per Spengler) in 1913. Our apex was in 1973. But as median wages demonstrate, it has been a long slow decline ever afterward. Sure, we've had a few spurts of economic growth since then, but I would say that by 1973 we had most definitely reached a point of diminishing marginal returns. The stimulus after the 2008 financial crash indicates that, by that time, we had reached a point of negative marginal return (how else do you explain spending hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars for each job allegedly "saved" or "created"). We are in a serious depression, and the only reason we don't see it is because, instead of lines at soup kitchens, we have people unobtrusively using EBT cards. Under a different president or administration (that the American people would voluntarily select a crook like Obama over a decent man like Romney--whether or not you agreed with Romney's politics on all issues--was itself significant), we might have seen investors using their money for capital investment and hiring. Instead, the money is either parked idle in foreign accounts (e.g., Apple), or chasing other money around on the stock market and other financial markets in order to find some sort of return. We don't have a manufacturing economy, or even a knowledge/service economy. We have a ghost economy, unhinged from the real world.

There is a saying I've seen several times, the gist of which is that you first go bankrupt gradually, and then suddenly. I suspect that a real collapse will be the same way. Gradual and then suddenly. We've been on the slow part for a while, and perhaps things are beginning to speed up.

The Continuing War on Cash

Peter Grant has more on the war on cash, specifically pointing out how little of the total money supply is actually cash. ($1.36 trillion in cash versus $220 trillion in derivatives trading). He quotes the following from Zero Hedge concerning the fear underlying the desire to restrict or control cash:
Put another way, actual physical money or cash (as in bills or coins you can hold in your hand) comprises less than 1% of the “money” in the financial system.

As far as the Central Banks are concerned, this is a good thing because if investors/depositors were ever to try and convert even a small portion of this “wealth” into actual physical bills, the system would implode (there simply is not enough actual cash).

. . .

In this scenario, when the 2008 Crisis hit, one of the biggest problems for the Central Banks was to stop investors from fleeing digital wealth for the comfort of physical cash. Indeed, the actual “thing” that almost caused the financial system to collapse was when depositors attempted to pull $500 billion out of money market funds ... When all of this happened, the global Central Banks realized that their worst nightmare could in fact become a reality: that if a significant percentage of investors/ depositors ever tried to convert their “wealth” into cash (particularly physical cash) the whole system would implode.
He goes on to discuss keeping some cash at hand (i.e., not in a bank) and goods for trade or barter.

The Phantom Jig--Finishing the 80% 1911 Frame

For those interested in such a project, The Silicon Graybeard has an article about using the Phantom Jig to finish an 80% aluminum frame without having to resort to a milling machine. He also links to a video done by Knuckledraggin My Life Away on the same product. The jig with an 80% frame is currently $350; by itself, the jig is currently $200.

An Example of Using the Haybox

Neo-Survivalist has an article entitled "Off Grid Cooking: The Haybox" where he offers a tutorial/example of cooking with a "haybox" (in his case, a cardboard box stuffed with shredded paper as the insultor) to make a rice pudding. Check it out.

Related Posts: "'Wonderbag' Cooking Bag, Hay Boxes and Other Types of Insulated Cooking"

"Did a megaflood kill off America's first metropolis? Mississippi River and NOT droughts to blame for demise of Cahokia"

Cahokia is the large mound-builder city near present day St. Louis. According to this Daily Mail article, the culture there flourished during several centuries of dryer weather between 600 A.D. and 1200 A.D. that encouraged people to build on the flood plain. However, a series of floods beginning after 1200 apparently led to the decline and abandonment of the settlement by 1400 A.D. According to the physical data, some of these mega-floods would have been 10 meters (33 feet) above the river's normal water level.

"As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly." Proverbs 26:11

The Daily Mail reports that a "3D hardcore porn film featuring explicit orgies, nudity and a transvestite prostitute sparks brawls at Cannes as desperate cinemagoers try to get into midnight screening."

A couple Bible verses that come to mind:

  • "Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." Jude 1:7
  • "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." Rev. 21:8

The Rat Hunters of New York

Considering yesterday's post on urban foraging, I thought I would link to a few articles about rat hunting in New York:


All three articles pertain to a group called Ryder's Alley Trencher-fed Society (R.A.T.S.), which uses trained terriers to hunt and kill rats.

As you might expect, rats are prolific. The Narratively article states:
The brown rat, or Rattus norvegicus, is the most common mammal in New York City. They are incredibly productive—male brown rats may mate with up to twenty female rats in just six hours. Males have been known to mate with pregnant, juvenile and dead rats—and even other males, if there are no females around. The rat’s sexual appetite, combined with the female’s ability to conceive just hours after birth, are what make the rodent one of the fecund in the animal kingdom.

Rats are skilled city dwellers: They can squeeze through a hole the size of a quarter, develop immunities to poisons, and are excellent swimmers. Some even catch fish. They can climb vertical surfaces and survive a thirty-foot fall without injury. They can cause damage, too—such as starting fires when they gnaw through wires with their sharp teeth, which are stronger than aluminum, and exert a pressure of up to seven thousand pounds per square inch. One study from Cornell University estimated that rats cause $19 billion in damage every year, the most of any introduced species in the United States.
The article also notes some preparations for the hunt:
Many owners administer Amoxcillin to their canine killers for several days before the hunt to ward off rat-borne illnesses. Pant legs duct-taped shut, they poke through trash piles with metal staffs and swing their flashlights side to side, eyes peeled for that soft, startling rustle that signifies the prey is close at hand.
Anyway, some interesting reads if you have the time.

A Downloadable Target for Zeroing Your Carbine for 50/200 Yards at Only 10 Yards

Via The Firearms Blog

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Another Reason to Ditch the .40 S&W

The Bardstown, KY, is having to replace 12 Glock handguns purchased in 2000 because of the frames cracking.  The Firearms Blog points out that the pistols are all Model 23's, in .40 S&W. The Department's spokesman indicated that the Department may be changing to 9 mm.

This is consistent with what other law enforcement agencies have found. From a 2014 Kit Up article on the military looking at the .40 is this:
The story also points out that the FBI and several major police departments recently decided to return to using the 9mm round after finding that .40 caliber ammunition was causing excessive wear on its service pistols.

The heavier bullet and greater recoil over time resulted in frame damage to well respected makes such as Glock and Beretta, according to Ernest Langdon, a shooting instructor and respected competitive pistol shooter.

“Most of the guns in .40 caliber on the market right now were actually designed to be 9mm originally and then turned into .40 calibers later,” Langdon told Military.com.

Langdon served 12 years in the Marine Corps (1985-1987) where he was the chief instructor of the Second Marine Division Scout Sniper School and the High Risk Personnel Course. He’s well known in the small-arms community. Langdon has been a competitive pistol shooter for 15 years where he has won competitions in the International Defensive Pistol Association and two World Speed Shooting titles.

Langdon has worked for gun makers such as Beretta, Smith & Wesson, and Sig Sauer. He said he keeps going back to shooting the Beretta 92/M9 design because that’s what he’s used to, not because he thinks it’s better than Glock, S&W M&P, Sig or other models.

And just so it’s clear, Langdon isn’t endorsing the M9 or arguing that the military should keep it forever. Langdon does, however, believe that the 9mm is suited for general-purpose military use and doesn’t buy into the argument that caliber size equals “stopping power.”

Larger calibers, such as .40 S&W, have significantly more recoil than the 9mm making them much harder for the average shooter to shoot accurately, he said.

“I don’t think anybody would argue that shot placement is the most important for terminal ballistics,” Langdon said. “Even though you say a .45 is better than a 9mm, it’s still a pistol caliber. Chances are if it is a determined adversary, they are going to have to be shot multiple times regardless of the caliber.”
Related Posts: "Is the Sun Setting on the .40 S&W?" and "FBI Justification for Changing to 9 mm."

From the Archive: An Example of Why OPSEC is Important

Originally published on November 22, 2011 (update in original post):

Operational Security (OPSEC) should be a major concern of anyone prepping for a disaster. As an example (and another link courtesy of Daily Survival) a 1918 New York Times article about a Navy officer and his wife being criminally charged for food hoarding. A few things to take note of:

1.    This took place in the United States, and the prosecution was made pursuant to Federal law;

2.    The approximately 1 ton of food was purchased in 1914 1918 in anticipation of shortages in the event of a prolonged war (the United States did not enter the war until 1917);

3.    The "offenders" were caught because they were informed on by a friend of the local "Food Administrator." Its not clear whether from the story how the "friend" knew about the stored food, but it is notable that the Navy officer had earlier sold some of the stored food to a grocer.

This is particularly relevant to members of the Church, since it is well known that LDS members are encouraged to store a years supply of food. In any major SHTF, I suspect that members of the Church will be specifically targeted because of suspected food stores.

Update: Made a correction based on my misreading the story. The food was bought using money obtained from a 1914 inheritance, but the food was not purchased until 1918.

Northern Sea Ice Expanding

Forbes has an article describing the latest NASA findings concerning satellite monitoring of Arctic sea ice. The article notes that when the system was deployed in 1979, the Arctic was just coming out of a cooler period. Nevertheless, the sea ice measurements for 1979 were used as the "base line" for all subsequent measurements. Thus, in the warmer 1980's and 1990's, the sea ice retreated to a certain extent. But now that we have been in a cooling trend, the sea ice once again expanded. It is now 5% more than in 1979.

In a related topic, The Daily Caller reports:
Weather agencies in Australia, Paraguay and Switzerland may be manipulating temperature data to create a sharper warming trend than is present in the raw data — a practice that has come under scrutiny in recent months.

Most recently, Dr. H. Sterling Burnett with the Heartland Institute detailed how the Swiss Meteorological Service adjusted its climate data “to show greater warming than actually measured by its temperature instruments.”

In his latest article, Sterling wrote that Switzerland’s weather bureau adjusted its raw temperature data so that “the temperatures reported were consistently higher than those actually recorded.” For example, the cities of Sion and Zurich saw “a doubling of the temperature trend” after such adjustments were made.
The article goes on to describe similar shenanigans discovered to have been perpetrated by weather agencies in Paraguay and Australia.

Iraq Falling Apart

The American Interest points out:
By all accounts, the Iraqi Army, or ISF, collapsed in the defense of Ramadi, just as it has time and again against ISIS previously, abandoning arms and armor to the enemy as it fled. The Shi’a militias are a more feared fighting force, and they outnumber the ISF by a significant margin. They had been held back, however, because Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, lies in the heart of Sunni Iraq—and the Shi’a militias have been repeatedly, credibly accused of perpetrating sectarian massacres. And there is also the inconvenient fact that many if not most of them have strong links to Iran.

Now the Obama Administration, not to say the Iraqi government, is on the horns of an ugly dilemma. If Ramadi is not recaptured, Sunni Iraq will have slipped to ISIS, and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men may never be able to put Iraq back together again. On the other hand, if the U.S. backs the militias’ advance, it may well be party to ethnic bloodshed that will put the killings after the fall of Tikrit to pale. Thus, even if the militas do retake Ramadi the methods they employ could so deeply antagonize the non-ISIS-supporting elements of the Sunni population as to have the same result: no more Iraq.
This is just another result of the First World War. When the allies dismembered the Ottoman Empire, they pretty much demarcated the boundaries of the new nations out of political expediency or to award petty tribal rulers for their assistance, rather than based on ethnicity or tribal boundaries. A nice set of maps illustrating the stages--from the Ottoman Empire, through the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement, and the final 1920 San Remo agreement--can be found here.  The article, "The Disintegration of the Iraqi State Has Its Roots in World War I" at Smithsonian Magazine provides further details. It recounts:
In order to raise an Arab revolt against the Ottomans, who had joined with Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I, Great Britain forged a wartime alliance with Emir Hussein of the Hejaz region of Arabia, now the western edge of Saudi Arabia bordered by the Red Sea. The 1915 pact was a mutually advantageous one. Since Hussein was an extremely prominent Islamic religious figure, the guardian of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the alliance inoculated the British against the Ottoman accusation that they were coming into the Middle East as Christian Crusaders. In return, Britain’s promises to Hussein were extravagant: independence for virtually the entire Arab world.

What Hussein didn’t know was that, just months after reaching this accord, the British government secretly made a separate – and very much conflicting – pact with their chief ally in World War I, France. Under the terms of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, the future independent Arab nation was to be relegated to the wastelands of the Arabian peninsula, while all the most politically and commercially valuable portions of the Arab world – greater Syria, Mesopotamia – would be carved into British and French imperial spheres.

This double-cross was finally laid bare at the postwar Paris Peace Conference in 1919, and solidified at the San Remo Conference in April 1920. Under the terms of these imperial agreements, France was to be given much of greater Syria – essentially the modern-day borders of that country, along with Lebanon - while the British would possession of the vast swath of the Arab world just below, an expanse stretching from Palestine in the west all the way to Iraq.

But if history has shown that it’s always risky to divide a historical homeland, as the British and French had done in greater Syria, even more perilous is to create an artificial nation – and this is precisely what the British had done in Iraq.

In the promises made to Emir Hussein back in 1915 regarding future Arab independence, one of the very few “modifications” the British asked for was in the two southern vilayets of Iraq, where oil had been discovered; here, London suggested, “special administrative arrangements” would have to be made.

By war’s end, however, oil had also been discovered in the vilayet of Mosul, just to the north, and Britain cast its covetous gaze there, as well. Since the promise of Arab independence was already a dead letter, the solution was quite simple: the “nation” of Iraq was created by fusing the three Ottoman provinces into one and put under direct British control.

Naturally, Britain didn’t present this as the land-grab that it truly was. To the contrary, there was much high-minded talk of the altruistic nature of their mission, of how, after a sufficiently civilizing period of Western tutelage, the locals might be allowed to govern themselves. When the ungrateful locals balked at this notion, the British simply dismissed the officials and bureaucrats of the former regime, ignored the tribal leaders, and placed their new vassal state under the direct administration of British civil servants and soldiers.

To the few Britons who actually had some familiarity with that corner of the Arab world, the signs of impending calamity were unmistakable. Among them was T.E. Lawrence, better known as “Lawrence of Arabia.” As Lawrence wrote to a newspaper editor in September 1919 in regard to the simmering tensions in Iraq, “if we do not mend our ways, [I] will expect revolt there about March next.”

Lawrence was only off on his timetable, with the revolt actually coming in June 1920. Caught completely off-guard was the local British administration. Within weeks, hundred of their soldiers and civil servants had been killed, with the rebellion only eventually put down by a “surge” of British troops and severe military reprisals, including the dropping of poison gas on tribal insurgents.
Winston Churchill was appointed to oversee the problem, which was partially resolved by creating Lebanon and Saudi Arabia as kingdoms and placing the power in the hands of powerful warlords who had assisted the British. However, Iraq remained restive until Britain was forceably expelled in the 1950s. (Although Iraq had its own king, he had been chosen by the British and regarded as a British puppet). The political stability under the Baathist's iron fist was destroyed by the U.S. invasion, but to the U.S., dividing the country had never been an option.
The result over the past decade has been the gradual dismantling of the Iraqi nation. Long gone, either to their graves or to foreign exile, have been the country’s relatively small communities of Christians and Yazidis, adherents of a religious splinter sect in northern Iraq long derided by both Sunni and Shiite Muslims as “devil worshippers.” Most devastating has been the eruption of the Islamic Shia-Sunni schism into sectarian slaughter. Vast swatches of the Shiite-majority regions of southern Iraq have been “ethnically-cleansed” of their Sunni minorities, while precisely the same fate has befallen the Shiite in Sunni-dominant regions. This purging has extended down to the village, and even city neighborhood, level. Amidst this quagmire, the Kurds of northern Iraq, who long ago effectively seceded from the rest, are establishing their own government complete with their own military and border controls. For those who, in 2003, worried that the American mission in Iraq might become an extended exercise in “nation-building” precisely the opposite has proven true.
 A somewhat lengthier article, focusing on the events immediately after WWI, is "Iraq: Historical Setting-Library of Congress Country Study-World War I and the British Mandate."

In short, the collapse of Iraq was inevitable. How it collapsed was not.

In any event, there is the sobering failure of the Iraqi military to deal with ISIS. As noted in the American Interest article, the Iraqi troops were completely shattered, abandoning weapons as they fled. The Associated Press has more on this topic:
Iraqi troops abandoned dozens of U.S military vehicles, including tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery pieces when they fled Islamic State fighters in Ramadi on Sunday, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

A Pentagon spokesman, Col. Steve Warren, estimated that a half dozen tanks were abandoned, a similar number of artillery pieces, a larger number of armored personnel carriers and about 100 wheeled vehicles like Humvees. He said some of the vehicles were in working condition; others were not because they had not been moved for months.

This repeats a pattern in which defeated Iraq security forces have, over the past year, left behind U.S.-supplied military equipment, prompting the U.S. to destroy them in subsequent airstrikes against Islamic State forces.

Asked whether the Iraqis should have destroyed the vehicles before abandoning the city in order to keep them from enhancing IS's army, Warren said, "Certainly preferable if they had been destroyed; in this case they were not."
While the Pentagon is, at least publicly, expressing confident that Ramadi will be retaken, I am not. Unless the Iranians intervene militarily, I believe that we will be reading about the battle of Baghdad by summer's end, if not sooner.