Monday, August 31, 2015

A Quick Run Around the Web--August 30, 2015

Exo exterior


Exo interior


It is believed that the Birmingham Koran was produced between 568AD and 645AD, while the dates usually given for Muhammad are between 570AD and 632AD.

    Historian Tom Holland, told the Times: 'It destabilises, to put it mildly, the idea that we can know anything with certainty about how the Koran emerged - and that in turn has implications for the history of Muhammad and the Companions.'
      Keith Small, from the University of Oxford's Bodleian Library, added: 'This gives more ground to what have been peripheral views of the Koran's genesis, like that Muhammad and his early followers used a text that was already in existence and shaped it to fit their own political and theological agenda, rather than Muhammad receiving a revelation from heaven.

      Another Massive Explosion in China

      From the International Business Times:
      Another massive explosion rocked China on Monday night. Local reports claim that eyewitness saw and heard a loud explosion at the industrial zone of Lijin, Dongying City of Shandong. 
      People's Daily China said on its official Twitter account that the explosion took place at around 11.25pm in the industrial zone of Lijin. There are no reports yet of any causalities or injuries. 
      The impact of the blast reportedly was felt in the 2km radius of the industrial zone.
      Images shared by eyewitnesses show the blast lighting up the night sky, followed by mushroom-like thick black smokes filling up the air.
       
      Videos of the incident shared on Weibo shows a massive fireball, followed by the huge explosion. 
      The accident comes weeks after the deadly Tianjin blast which left nearly 150 dead and 800 injured. The blasts at a chemical warehouse in the Tianjin port city earlier this month is one of deadliest industrial accidents in China.

      A Review of Katrina

      There have been a number of articles over the last week or so revisiting the floods and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, now at its 10th Anniversary. Glenn Reynolds has a summing up at USA Today entitled "Lessons in disaster for the next Katrina." He raises five major points:

      1. The press did a lousy job. Which is putting it mildly. They outright lied and fabricated stories to make their reporting more dramatic, and to provide a basis for partisan attacks against President Bush.
      2. Crying wolf is dangerous. Reynolds notes that the media had sold so many storms as the "storm of the century" that people had stopped listening; thus delaying many from evacuating.
      3. Be prepared, because basically you are on your own. "When roads are flooded, washed out, blocked by trees and power lines, etc., it takes a while to get them back in order. That means you need to be prepared to get by for at least a few days — and, much better, at least a couple of weeks — on your own. That means having extra food, water, medications, fuel, batteries, etc. on hand. It also means getting along with your neighbors. For a few days at least, and maybe longer, they’ll be all the help you have."
      4. Really, when they tell you to evacuate, listen. 
      5. This will all happen again. 
      There has also been linkage to older articles. For instance, this 2011 NPR article entitled "The Key To Disaster Survival? Friends And Neighbors." From that article:
      Because of his own experience in Katrina, Aldrich started thinking about how neighbors help one another during disasters. He decided to visit disaster sites around the world, looking for data.

      Aldrich's findings show that ambulances and firetrucks and government aid are not the principal ways most people survive during — and recover after — a disaster. His data suggest that while official help is useful — in clearing the water and getting the power back on in a place such as New Orleans after Katrina, for example — government interventions cannot bring neighborhoods back, and most emergency responders take far too long to get to the scene of a disaster to save many lives. Rather, it is the personal ties among members of a community that determine survival during a disaster, and recovery in its aftermath.

      When Aldrich visited villages in India hit by the giant 2004 tsunami, he found that villagers who fared best after the disaster weren't those with the most money, or the most power. They were people who knew lots of other people — the most socially connected individuals. In other words, if you want to predict who will do well after a disaster, you look for faces that keep showing up at all the weddings and funerals.

      "Those individuals who had been more involved in local festivals, funerals and weddings, those were individuals who were tied into the community, they knew who to go to, they knew how to find someone who could help them get aid," Aldrich says.
      In other words, the public are the first responders.

      Michael Grunwald has taken a look at the real culprit of the disaster, at least in New Orleans--the Army Corps of Engineers. One of the stories he points to is a Washington Post article from September 21, 2005, which noted that the flooding was because of faulty levees.

      And, yesterday, I noted this article on "Katrina: What the Media Missed," which discusses not only the lies perpetrated by the media, but that the media missed one of the greatest stories of all: how the National Guard and Coast Guard worked very effectively to save thousands of lives.


      A Cry for Attention

      Members of the #FYF911 or #FukYoFlag and #BlackLivesMatter movements called for the lynching and hanging of white people and cops. They encouraged others on a radio show Tuesday night to “turn the tide” and kill white people and cops to send a message about the killing of black people in America.
      The recording of the podcast has since been taken down.

      Why the sudden push for race war from black activists? Or, more importantly, why are such views suddenly resonating beyond a small group of extremists? I can think of several factors that may be contributing:

      1. First, and foremost, the job market is in terrible shape, and most particularly for blacks, notwithstanding having a black man in the White House. I suspect that there are a large number of blacks that voted for Obama that cannot bring themselves to admit that they were betrayed by Obama, and are looking for a scapegoat. And the ready-made and ever-present one is "white racism."
      2. The influx of illegal aliens over the last several years. Net job growth since 2007 has gone to immigrants (legal or otherwise), and illegal aliens mostly threaten the jobs held by blacks. Rising numbers of Hispanic voters threaten black power bases in Harlem and California, and Hispanic gangs are even using threats of violence to drive blacks out of traditionally black neighborhoods in L.A. Thus, I suspect that there is a fear among some blacks that there is only a short window of opportunity to get what they want politically or in the form of welfare before they become increasingly politically irrelevant.
      3. Social media. Just as the rise of social media and video recording has led to anger about the growing militarization of the police, it also allows those in black communities,or sympathetic to their cause, to see video or read accounts of police response to black crime that seem overly violent.
      4. Playing hardball. I've seen increasing calls for reparations for slavery. In the past, black leaders have used the threat (and actual occurrence) of black unrest to gain concessions in the way of money and increased political power for blacks (or, at least, their leadership). Reparations will represent the ultimate concession, and would therefore require some significant threats of unrest to make it happen.
      5. Idleness. The people (white and black) attending and participating in the protests, riots and looting are the products of a decadent culture, with nothing useful to occupy their time. 
      Of these, the greatest fear for blacks should be irrelevance. Via another blogger, I recently came across a piece written by the AntiDem, entitled "I Don’t Care About Black People," which makes the important point that the opposite of "love" is not "hate," but "indifference." The authors says:
      ... In order to hate something or someone, you must care about them deeply. Hate is a serious, long-term emotional investment, and one must actually care very much about the object of one’s hatred in order to make it. As is often said, hate is not the opposite of love; indifference is. And I have come to be very indifferent about the fortunes of blacks.

      I don’t care about black people. Their problems are not my problem. Their enemies are not my enemy. Their concerns are not my concern. I feel no need to understand them or their ways, and I don’t care whether or not they understand me or my ways. I wish them well – in fact, I know not a single white person, no matter how outwardly racist, who does not wish that blacks were doing better than they are, if for no other reason than that we must all live with the effects of their failures. I hope that the issues that seem to ceaselessly dog their community all get solved somehow. I have no desire to do them and theirs injury, except as punishment for injury done by them against me and mine. But I don’t care about them – there is nothing more I want from them other than to simply leave me alone, and in exchange, I will gladly leave them alone as well.

      Lest one think that this is all motivated by sheer meanness and lack of charity, there is another reason for my lack of enthusiasm for the cause of helping black people. The truth is that I don’t know how to help them, and I don’t know anyone else who does. For at least fifty years (more like a hundred and fifty, really) whites have been trying to find a way to solve the problems of black people. We must now be realistic and admit that all of these attempts have failed miserably. Fifty years into the War on Poverty, drive around a black ghetto (if you dare) and note what you see. It is indeed certain to look like there has been a war there, but it is equally certain to not look like any victory over poverty has been won. What you’ll find there is the result of whites having tried everything they could possibly think of to uplift blacks, and of it all having either not worked at all or having actually made things worse. As evidenced by the wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, Americans are notoriously slow to understand that their plan hasn’t worked and to accept defeat, but at some point, reality asserts itself in a way that is undeniable.

      So here is the undeniable reality: when it comes to whites trying to solve the problems of black people, none of our plans have worked, and we’re pretty much out of ideas. I, certainly, have nothing new to add on the issue – believe me, if I did, I would. I have no secret, sadistic desire to see blacks suffer, and I, too, must live with the results of their failures. But like everybody else, I don’t have any more solutions to offer.

      * * *
       
      Thus, to black people, my message is simply this: Good luck, but don’t call me for help.

      Sunday, August 30, 2015

      A Quick Run Around the Web -- August 30, 2015


      China has bungled its attempt to slow the economy gently and is sliding into “imminent recession”, threatening to take the world with it over coming months, Citigroup has warned.
      Willem Buiter, the bank’s chief economist, said the country needs a major blast of fiscal spending financed by outright "helicopter" money from the bank to avert a deepening crisis. 
      Speaking on a panel at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York, Mr Buiter said the dollar will “go through the roof” if the US Federal Reserve lifts interest rates this year, compounding the crisis for emerging markets.
      Professor Zhiwu Chen from Yale University told the same event that China will be doing well if it can contain its slow-motion crisis to mere stagnation for the next 10 years, given the dangerous levels of debt in the system.
       
      “If the Chinese government is able to manage a Lost Decade with very low growth - or no growth - without an economic crisis, it will be a policy achievement,” he said. 
      Prof Chen said a Western-style financial collapse in China is “highly unlikely” since the banks are largely government-owned and losses will be absorbed by the state. 
      There is a loose parallel with Japan, where the economy slid into a deflationary quagmire and lost its economic dynamism but never suffered a full-blown financial crash. In Japan’s case the denouement was averted by keeping "zombie banks" on life-support. 
      The colourful Mr Buiter - a former UK rate-setter - said China has bungled both fiscal and monetary policy, and is now “sliding into recession”. This would be fall in growth to less than 4pc on the “mendacious” figures published by Beijing, but in reality lower. 
       “They will respond too late to avoid a recession, which is likely to drag the global economy with it down to a global growth rate below 2pc, which is in my definition a global recession,” he said.

      Book Review: "Islands of the Damned" by R.V. Burgin

      (Source)


      R.V. Burgin's Islands of the Damned: A Marine at War in the Pacific (2010) is his memoirs of serving in the U.S. Marines during WWII. Burgin joined the United States Marine Corps in November 1942 and became a mortar-man in K-Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division (K-3-5). Although his book relates portions of his life from both before and following WWII, the majority of the book concerns his service in the Corps in Australia and the Pacific Theater, including the battles for New Britain, Peleliu, and Okinawa. Burgin earned a Bronze Star and Purple Heart in Okinawa. If his name is familiar, it may be because he is one of the characters portrayed in the HBO miniseries, The Pacific.

      Large portions of his narrative seem rather bare of details--probably because it was written so long after the war--and it is only because of generous use of spacing that it reaches 285 pages (not including the bibliography and index). However, there are plenty of incidents that Burgin describes clearly.

      One thing that stands out from Burgin's narrative, and the bare statistics of the Pacific conflict, is that the Japanese forces on the islands did not fare very well in infantry combat. It certainly was not a discrepancy in technology since the two sides had comparable weapons and munitions. It may have been because the Japanese lacked air superiority (or much of any significant aerial presence) during the battles. Perhaps they simply lacked battle experience. But, in any case, I'm left with the impression that the Japanese forces were formidable mostly because they were willing to engage in suicidal attacks, and, literally, fight to the last man. Perhaps Japanese Army troops with experience in China or Southeast Asia would have fared better.

      A few things that stuck out, particularly as to Burgin's baptism to fire at New Britain. Burgin was a member of a mortar crew, and responsible for carrying the heavy base plate for the mortar, so he initially did not carry his rifle. He describes one of his first encounters with Japanese forces. His unit was digging in for the night, when a group of Japanese commenced a "banzai" charge:
      I had been carrying the mortar base plate and didn't have a rifle. I dropped the plate ad pulled my .45 out quick--I don't even remember drawing it--and fired, catching one of them in the chest. He was about thirty-five or forty feet away from me, still running when he went down. Other Marines were firing right and left and more Japs were stumbling, going down. The rest turned back to the woods. I don't think more than one or two got away. 
      That was the first man I killed. I didn't feel anything but relief. He didn't get me. I got him. 
      After that episode, I always carried an M1 and my pistol. A pistol is fine if somebody's up close, but I didn't want anybody getting that close again. That attack broke me in right away.
      (pp. 72-73).

      However, he would have an even closer encounter days later:
      About an hour and a half past midnight, they came screaming at us through the rain, hollering "Marine, you die!" I was in a foxhole with Jim Burke. I'd had bayonet drill in boot camp alone with everyone else, but I'd made up my mind that as long as I had ammunition I wasn't going to let anyone get close enough to use my bayonet. But I saw a Jap silhouetted at the edge of the foxhole. I was on my knees with my rifle pointed at him and I shoved my bayonet into his chest as hard and deep as I could, right beneath the breastbone. In one motion I leveraged him off the ground and swung him over my shoulder, pulling the trigger all the way. I don't know how many shots I put into him--four or fie anyway. 
      He was dead when he landed.
      (pp. 76-79). Later during the campaign, he wrote about how you could smell the Japanese and they could smell American troops--each had their distinctive smell (probably based on diet). Burgin wrote:
      When we went on patrol we'd take along war dogs that could sniff out Japs. After a while I realized that I could smell the Japs, too, if they were in the area and the wind was right. It was just like hunting in the woods back home, when I could smell a squirrel or a deer. But the smell of Japs was completely different from anything I'd ever smelled. They told us they could smell us, too. They said we smelled like goats. 
      We'd have a dog with us, and the Japs would be sleeping in these A-frame lean-tos they made of palm leaves. And the dog would get you in real close, like a bird dog. Japs would be inside, napping or just lying around. 
      We'd go in both ends at once and bayonet them or slit their throats. We didn't want to shoot them and let anybody else in the vicinity know we were around.
      (pp. 85-86).

      Sometimes the Japanese would attack in one's or two's. Burgin described one of the incidents:
      There was no way to dig two-man foxholes, so once again we piled up rocks and hoped for the best. Normally we'd stay about six feet apart, almost at arm's length so we could reach out and touch one another. Through the night we'd take turns sleeping. I'd watch and the next man over would sleep. The man beyond him would watch and the next one would sleep, and so on. 
      When the Japs came calling at night they wore these rubber-soled canvas shoes, a little like sneakers. They didn't make a sound. You'd look out and not see a thing. You'd look the other way for a second and turn back. And there'd be a Jap right in front of you. Twenty feet away, where there was nothing at all before. 
      The fourth man down the line from me was sleeping. All of a sudden I heard this scuffle, these grunts, and then a long, drawn-out scream.  
      The guy had been sleeping flat on his back when he felt a weight on his chest and woke up with fingers around his throat. Afterward, when he was able to tell us what happened, he said he found this Jap sitting on him, choking him. He said he could feel himself going under, losing consciousness. He knew the man was going to kill him.  
      "Everything I was ever taught in training about judo, jujitsu, how to defend yourself ran through my mind like a streak of lightning," he told us. "I just went through everything." 
      "I knew what I was going to do. I reached up and put my left hand behind his head and with my right hand I poked two fingers in his eyes. Hard." 
      The Jap instantly released his hold and fell back. 
      "I grabbed him by the neck and the seat of the pants and threw him off the cliff." 
      I heard that Jap screaming all the way down, from the second his eyes were gouged until he hit the bottom. I've never heard such a bloodcurdling sound in my life.
      (pp. 151-52).

      In short, it is an easy read, and should be of interest to anyone interested in military memoirs, the Pacific theater, or combat from the point of view of the grunt.

      Saturday, August 29, 2015

      Ghost 3.5 Trigger Connector

      I purchased a new Glock 34 earlier this summer and was disappointed to discover that I could not shoot it anywhere near as accurately as my older Glock 26. The first issue was that I had initially installed a larger backstrap, which, while feeling comfortable, was just a tad too large for me to get a good grip on the handgun. The second, and probably more serious issue, was that the trigger pull was just too heavy--much heavier than my G26.

      To address this issue, I ordered a Ghost 3.5 Trigger Connector. This is a drop in connector intended to lighten the trigger pull. Installation is pretty straight forward, and the company has a decent set of instructions at its web site. The only issue I had was with replacing the locking block pin (the last part of the reassembly process).

      The issue was the tail end of the spring for the slide lock. (See photograph below).


      In the photograph, the red arrow points at the tail of the slide stop spring. Just above it is the locking block pin, which fits transverse the frame. I had not paid attention to the exact position of the spring. When you have replaced the slide stop, the tail of the spring will extend across the hole for the locking block pin, and it is not apparent whether the tail of the spring should go above or below the pin. It goes below, as pictured above. If it is above the pin, the slide stop will engage whether or not the magazine is present.

      Other than that issue, the installation was not difficult. And dry firing the handgun made it clear that the new trigger connector made a significant difference in reducing the weight of the trigger pull. It still is not as light as I would like, and perhaps I should have replaced the springs as well, but now I'm confident that I can get better accuracy.

      Friday, August 28, 2015

      Secret Combinations

      Morte di Giulio Cesare ("Death of Julius Caesar"). By Vincenzo Camuccini, 1798
      While the phrase "secret combination" usually brings to mind conspiracy theories, the reality is that "secret combinations" and conspiracies have played important roles throughout history--the murder of Julius Caesar, portrayed above, merely being one example--and continue to influence events today. (See, e.g. "The long, slow death of the rule of law in America" for examples under the current Administration). Isaiah warned of such conspiracies when looking forward to the spread of the Gospel in the latter days, writing:
      15 Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?

      16 Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?
      Isaiah 29:15-16. The Book of Mormon speaks at length of the corrosive and insidious nature of secret combinations, while providing the examples of how such compacts lead to the destruction of two nations. So strong is the importance of this message, that Moroni interrupted his history of the Jaredites to warn:
      21 And they have caused the destruction of this people of whom I am now speaking, and also the destruction of the people of Nephi.

      22 And whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed; for the Lord will not suffer that the blood of his saints, which shall be shed by them, shall always cry unto him from the ground for vengeance upon them and yet he avenge them not.

      23 Wherefore, O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain—and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you, yea, even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God shall fall upon you, to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be.

      24 Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up.

      25 For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies; even that same liar who beguiled our first parents, yea, even that same liar who hath caused man to commit murder from the beginning; who hath hardened the hearts of men that they have murdered the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out from the beginning.
      Ether 8:21-25.

      Before going further, I want to explore what is meant by "secret combination." Many people (myself, at one time, included) interpret this as synonymous with the likes of a secret or unknown conspiracy or cabal.

      Since "secret" modifies the term "combination," it is best to first define the term "combination." "Combination," in its modern form, denotes "an alliance of persons or parties"; whereas, according to Shaffer's 1828 dictionary, it is an:
      Intimate union, or association of two or more persons or things, by set purpose or agreement, for effecting some object, by joint operation; in a good sense, when the object is laudable; in an ill sense, when it is illegal or iniquitous. It is sometimes equivalent to league, or to conspiracy. We say, a combination of men to overthrow government, or a combination to resist oppression.
      This seems pretty straightforward, and the definitions are similar, so I will next move to "secret." Dictionary.com defines secret as:
      1. done, made, or conducted without the knowledge of others: secret negotiations.
      2. kept from the knowledge of any but the initiated or privileged: a secret password.
      3. faithful or cautious in keeping confidential matters confidential; close-mouthed; reticent.
      4. designed or working to escape notice, knowledge, or observation: a secret drawer; the secret police.
      5. secluded, sheltered, or withdrawn: a secret hiding place.
      6.beyond ordinary human understanding; esoteric.
      7.bearing the classification secret. limited to persons authorized to use information documents, etc., so classified.
      However, as used in the early 19th Century, the word had a slightly different meaning:
      1. Properly, separate; hence, hid; concealed from the notice or knowledge of all persons except the individual or individuals concerned.

      I have a secret errand to thee, O king. Judges 3.

      2. Unseen; private; secluded; being in retirement.

      There secret in her sapphire cell,

      He with the Nais wont to dwell. Fenton.

      3. Removed from sight; private; unknown.

      Abide in a secret place, and hide thyself. I Sam. 19.

      4. Keeping secrets; faithful to secrets entrusted; as secret Romans. [Unusual.]

      5. Private; affording privacy.

      6. Occult; not seen; not apparent; as the secret operations of physical causes.

      7. Known to God only.
      What sticks out is that that several of the 19th Century meanings denote something private or confidential (i.e., not public or not known to the public at large; not-advertised), and does not necessarily require it to be purposefully made unknown or hidden. A subtle difference, but perhaps important. Many LDS members seem to interpret the term "secret combination" as meaning that the existence of the organization, or its membership, must be unknown or concealed. But this is not necessarily true. I think the proper view of the term "secret combination" is not necessarily that the association or group is secret (although it may be), but that the goals or objectives are private or not widely known.

      A modern example might be the Bilderberg Group. Neither the existence of the Group nor the fact that there are meetings is secret because people outside the group are clearly aware of them, but the discussions and comments within the meetings are private and undisclosed. To the extent that attendees come to some agreement (explicit or implicit) to advance certain choices or causes espoused at such meetings, the Bilderberg Group could be considered a type of "secret combination." The recent videos Planned Parenthood videos also suggest that Planned Parenthood be considered a "secret combination" because its private face or real purpose is much different from its public face or professed purpose.

      Beyond attempting to analyze the meaning of the term, there is the difficulty of attempting to ascertain what group or groups should be considered "secret combinations" warned about in scripture. Many organizations have been offered up, including, but not limited to, the Mafia, terrorist organizations, the Free Masons, and drug cartels. While these may be "secret combinations," for good or ill, none of them are THE secret combination that "seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries." Moreover, we do not need to guess as to the identity of the secret combination referred to by Moroni because we have been told its identity.

      At the October 1979 General Conference, Ezra Taft Benson (then president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) gave a talk entitled "A Witness and a Warning," in which he stated:
      It is well to ask, what system established secret works of darkness to overthrow nations by violent revolution? Who blasphemously proclaimed the atheistic doctrine that God made us not? Satan works through human agents. We need only look to some of the ignoble characters in human history who were contemporary to the restoration of the gospel to discover fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. I refer to the infamous founders of Communism and others who follow in their tradition.

      Communism introduced into the world a substitute for true religion. It is a counterfeit of the gospel plan. The false prophets of Communism predict a utopian society. This, they proclaim, will only be brought about as capitalism and free enterprise are overthrown, private property abolished, the family as a social unit eliminated, all classes abolished, all governments overthrown, and a communal ownership of property in a classless, stateless society established.
       In the October 1961 General Conference, Benson (then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve) similarly observed:
      Where do we stand today? All over the world the light of freedom is being diminished. Across whole continents of the earth freedom is being totally obliterated.

      Never in recorded history has any movement spread its power so far and so fast as has socialistic-communism in the last three decades. The facts are not pleasant to review. Communist leaders are jubilant with their success. They are driving freedom back on almost every front.

      It is time, therefore, that every American, and especially every member of the priesthood, became informed about the aims, tactics, and schemes of socialistic-communism. This becomes particularly important when it is realized that communism is turning out to be the earthly image of the plan which Satan presented in the pre-existence. The whole program of socialistic-communism is essentially a war against God and the plan of salvation—the very plan which we fought to uphold during "the war in heaven" (Rev. 12:7).

      Up to now some members of the Church have stood aloof, feeling that the fight against socialistic-communism is "controversial" and unrelated to the mission of the Church or the work of the Lord. But the President of the Church in our day has made it clear that the fight against atheistic communism is a major challenge to the Church and every member in it.

      During the general conference of the Church in October 1959, President David O. McKay, in discussing the threat of communism, referred to W. Cleon Skousen's book, The Naked Communist, and said, "I admonish everybody to read that excellent book." He then quoted the following from the flyleaf: "The conflict between communism and freedom is the problem of our time. It overshadows all other problems."

      The fight against godless communism is a very real part of every man's duty who holds the priesthood. It is the fight against slavery, immorality, atheism, terrorism, cruelty, barbarism, deceit, and the destruction of human life through a kind of tyranny unsurpassed by anything in human history. Here is a struggle against the evil, satanical priestcraft of Lucifer. Truly it can be called, "a continuation of the war in heaven."

      In the war in heaven the devil advocated absolute eternal security at the sacrifice of our freedom. Although there is nothing more desirable to a Latter-day Saint than eternal security in God's presence, and although God knew, as did we, that some of us would not achieve this security if we were allowed our freedom—yet the very God of heaven, who has more mercy than us all, still decreed no guaranteed security except by a man's own freedom of choice and individual initiative.

      Today the devil as a wolf in a supposedly new suit of sheep's clothing is enticing some men, both in and out of the Church, to parrot his line by advocating planned government guaranteed security programs at the expense of our liberties. Latter-day Saints should be reminded how and why they voted as they did in heaven. If some have decided to change their vote they should repent—throw their support on the side of freedom—and cease promoting this subversion.

      When all of the trappings of propaganda and pretense have been pulled aside, the exposed hard-core structure of modern communism is amazingly similar to the ancient Book of Mormon record of secret societies such as the Gadiantons. In the ancient American civilization there was no word which struck greater terror to the hearts of the people than the name of the Gadiantons. It was a secret political party which operated as a murder cult. Its object was to infiltrate legitimate government, plant its officers in high places, and then seize power and live off the spoils appropriated from the people. (It would start out as a small group of "dissenters" and by using secret oaths with the threat of death for defectors (Hel. 11:25-26) it would gradually gain a choke hold on the political and economic life of whole civilizations.)

      The object of the Gadiantons, like modern communists, was to destroy the existing government and set up a ruthless criminal dictatorship over the whole land.
      In his 1979 talk, Benson also noted:
      President Marion G. Romney, in the First Presidency Message in the September 1979 Ensign, wrote: “Communism is Satan’s counterfeit for the gospel plan, and … it is an avowed enemy of the God of the land. Communism is the greatest anti-Christ power in the world today and therefore the greatest menace not only to our peace but to our preservation as a free people. By the extent to which we tolerate it, accommodate ourselves to it, permit ourselves to be encircled by its tentacles and drawn to it, to that extent we forfeit the protection of the God of this land” (p. 5).
      In 1988, Benson (then Prophet), said:
      I testify that wickedness is rapidly expanding in every segment of our society. (See D&C 1:14–16; D&C 84:49–53.) It is more highly organized, more cleverly disguised, and more powerfully promoted than ever before. Secret combinations lusting for power, gain, and glory are flourishing. A secret combination that seeks to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries is increasing its evil influence and control over America and the entire world. (See Ether 8:18–25.)
      Some may (and have) argued that Benson's stance was part and parcel of the general attitudes of the Cold War. However, in both talks, Benson noted a 1936 declaration from the First Presidency condemning communism:
      On 3 July 1936, the First Presidency published this warning to Church members:

      “Communism is not a political party nor a political plan under the Constitution; it is a system of government that is the opposite of our Constitutional government. …

      “Since Communism, established, would destroy our American Constitutional government, to support Communism is treasonable to our free institutions, and no patriotic American citizen may become either a Communist or supporter of Communism. …

      “We call upon all Church members completely to eschew [shun] Communism. The safety of our divinely inspired Constitutional government and the welfare of our Church imperatively demand that Communism shall have no place in America” (signed: Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., David O. McKay, The First Presidency, in Deseret News, 3 July 1936; italics added).
      Many members of the Church mistakenly associate Benson's comments with Communism under the Soviet Union and China. Not that he was not talking about that Communism, but by focusing on Communism in the USSR and China, it misses the point that the warning was about communism in America, or, what he referred to in his 1961 talk as "socialistic-communism." Moreover, he observes that this "combination's" public face or representation is to bring about a Utopian society, but its actual goal is to set up "a ruthless criminal dictatorship over the whole land." It is also significant that the method by which this combination seeks to attain its goal is through the overthrow of capitalism and free enterprise, abolition of private property and all classes, elimination of the family as a social unit, and overthrow of our Constitutional form of government.

      Communism in the United States (and Western Europe, for that matter), has followed a much different path than it did in the USSR and China. There was no armed revolution to bring it to power; all such attempts had failed. Instead, it has followed a path of conquering the culture--Cultural Marxism.

      Bill Whittle has an excellent video on Cultural Marxism and its origins in the Frankfort School:


      Scott S. Powell also discusses this topic in his article "The Quiet Revolution: How the New Left Took Over the Democratic Party." He writes:
      As Lenin was consolidating power in Russia, Antonio Gramsci was emerging as a leading Marxist theoretician in Italy and would found the Italian Communist Party in 1921. After being imprisoned by Mussolini, the Fascist prime minister of Italy, Gramsci authored what came to be called the Prison Notebooks, partially published in 1947 and in complete form in 1975, a legacy that made him one of the most important Marxist thinkers of the 20th century. Gramsci argued that communists’ route to taking power in developed, industrialized societies such as Europe and the United States would be best achieved through a “long march through the institutions.” This would be a gradual process of radicalization of the cultural institutions -- “the superstructure” -- of bourgeois society, a process that would in turn transform the values and morals of society. Gramsci believed that as society’s morals were softened, its political and economic foundation would be more easily smashed and restructured.

      Cultural Marxism was also in vogue at the Institute of Social Research at Frankfurt University in Germany -- that is until 1933 when the Nazis came to power. Many members of the “Frankfurt School,” such as Herbert Marcuse, Eric Fromm, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkeimer, and Wilhelm Reich fled to the United States, where they ultimately found their way into professorships at various elite universities such as Berkeley, Columbia, and Princeton. In the context of American culture, “the long march through the institutions” meant, in the words of Herbert Marcuse, “working against the established institutions while working in them.”

      While the Frankfurt School was neo-Marxist, many of its adherents were less interested in economics and redistribution of wealth than in remaking and transforming society through attitudinal and cultural change. They incorporated Marxist class theory into sociology and psychology while also assimilating Freud’s theories on sexuality. Thus, Marx’s theory of the dialectic of perpetual conflict was joined together with Freud’s neurotic ideas, creating a sort of Freudian-Marxism. Their stated goal was a total transformation of society by breaking down traditional norms and institutions such as monogamous relations and the traditional family. This was to be accomplished by promoting and legitimizing unhinged sexual permissiveness with no cultural or religious restraint.

      The countercultural influence of radicals like Marcuse and Gramsci has been advanced more by insinuation and infiltration than by confrontation. Their “quiet” revolution to remake society was intended to be diffused throughout the culture gradually over a period of time. Gramsci argued that alliances with non-communist leftist groups would be essential to the collapse of the capitalist bourgeois order. Marcuse believed that radical intellectuals needed to ally themselves with the socially marginalized substratum of the outcasts and outsiders, the exploited and persecuted of other races and ethnicities, the unemployed and the unemployable.

      While the influence of Marcuse and the Frankfurt School and Marxists like Gramsci was greatest in intellectual circles in a strategic sense, Saul Alinsky arrived on the scene in Chicago in the 1930s with the tactical tools for the foot-soldiers of social and political revolution -- the community organizers and non-academic labor and single-issue activists.

      Alinsky had a certain charm and appeal to wealthy funders, ...

      Alinsky also had other benefactors in Washington and Wall Street. ...

      * * *
       
      Alinsky's tactics had more in common with Gramsci and Marcuse than the revolutionary and violent approaches of Russian Marxists Lenin and Stalin. Alinsky, too, believed in gradualism and subversion of the system through infiltration rather than confrontation and revolution.

      Alinsky believed that politics was war by other means, stating specifically that “in war the end justifies almost any means.” But he was more than a nihilistic progressive revolutionary. Alinsky’s handbook, Rules for Radicals, first published in 1971, included an admiration for the prince of darkness, Lucifer, noting that he was “the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom…”

      By the 1960s Marcuse and Alinsky were recognized as two of the most influential leaders of the New Left, which gained strength and numbers by taking a leading role in the anti-Vietnam War movement. However, Alinsky and Marcuse were critical of the violent and confrontational tactics of many of the anti-war radicals, such as Bill Ayers and the Weathermen, preferring instead that radicals work behind the scenes and bore into the establishment. This was seen later in the 1960s with Alinskyites positioned to take advantage of President Johnson’s “War on Poverty” programs, to direct federal money into various Alinksy projects.

      Alinksy succeeded in what would be a crowning achievement: the recruitment of young idealistic radicals -- Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama -- who would go on to climb to the top of political power in the Democratic Party. Hillary wrote her senior thesis at Wellesley College in 1969 on Alinsky’s methods and remained a friend of Alinsky until his death in 1972. A decade later, Barack Obama was trained in the methods and Rules for Radicals in the Alinsky-founded Industrial Areas Foundation in Chicago.

      Camouflage and deception are key to Alinsky-style organizing. When Barack Obama was organizing black churches in Chicago and was criticized for not attending church himself, he pivoted and became a regular church attendee, ultimately becoming a member at Jeremiah Wright’s radical Trinity United Church of Christ.

      * * *

      By winning “cultural hegemony,” the acolytes of Gramsci, Alinsky, Marcuse, and the Frankfurt School believed that the wellsprings of human thought could be largely controlled by mass psychology and propaganda. One of Alinsky’s unique contributions, explained as the seventh Rule for Radicals, was the tactic to avoid debate on the issues by systematically silencing, ridiculing and marginalizing people of opposing views. At the same time, allies in the media provided cover and a framework of acceptance for radical issues and leaders. Traditional values of morality, family, the work ethic and free market institutions were made to appear outdated -- even reactionary, unnecessary, and culturally unfashionable. Ultimately this evolved into what has become known as political correctness, which now envelops the culture.

      By 1980, the counter-cultural alliances would include radical feminist groups, civil rights and ethnic minority advocates, extremist environmental organizations, and advocates of liberation theology, anti-military peace groups, union leaders, radical legal activist organizations like the ACLU, human rights watch-dog organizations, community organizers of the Alinsky model, national and world church council bureaucracies, anti-corporate activists, and various internationalist-minded groups. Working separately and together, these groups could count on a sympathetic media and favorable coverage, which facilitated building bridges to the Democratic Party and becoming vocal constituencies deserving attention and legislative action.

      The New Left in America realized that it was neither necessary nor desirable to own the means of production as originally envisioned by Marx. Redistribution could be accomplished through progressive taxation that was enshrined by an enlightened Democratic Party. Corporate priorities could be redirected through sensational and biased media exposure, proxy contests, mass demonstrations, boycotts, activist lawsuits and regulatory actions. No need to be responsible for the means of production, when you could advance Marx’s anti-capitalist agenda from the sidelines by indicting individual corporations and the system of capitalism itself.
      James Simpson, at Accuracy in the Media, recently wrote:
      Black racism has been encouraged by outside communist agitators, many of them white. Since the turn of the last century, communists have manipulated the civil rights movement, and have been stoking the fires of discontent deliberately. Massie credits lifelong communist and Stalin admirer W.E.B. Du Bois with initiating the international communist movement’s effort to capitalize on black discontent early on. After a visit to the Soviet Union in 1927, Du Bois called it, “the most hopeful vehicle for the world.” Du Bois helped found the NAACP in 1909.

      Bayard Rustin, who acknowledged that “blacks were ripe for [manipulation by] Communists,” helped found Martin Luther King, Jr’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said that Martin Luther King, Jr.’s movement was corrupted after he was assassinated. Massie states, “Out of that group came Joseph Lowery and others who mouth complaints designed to stir the caldron of anger, victimology and rabid hatred for anyone who dares attempt to share the message of truth and life.” (Ed. Note: Lowery made news in 2012 when campaigning for Obama by saying “all white people would go to Hell.” He said it was a joke.)

      The “White Privilege” concept was created by Noel Ignatiev, a hardcore Communist Party member and former Harvard University professor who founded the journal, Race Traitor.

      White guilt has allowed the Left to dramatically expand the welfare state. Trillions of dollars have been spent on welfare. Yet, as Mitt Romney recently noted, under Obama “there are more people in poverty in America than ever before.” Many people are unaware, however, that the modern welfare system was designed by radical leftists to suck minorities into permanent poverty, providing a reliable voting bloc for Democrats and sowing the seeds of discontent within the black community. It was inspired by Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, two die-hard socialists, who advocated packing the welfare rolls in order to bankrupt and crash the system. They wanted it to fail. The Cloward Piven Crisis Strategy was formulated to create an army of militant, angry blacks that would serve as foot soldiers in the coming socialist revolution. Piven described the rationale as recently as 2011:

      [B]efore people can mobilize for collective action, they have to develop a proud and angry identity and a set of claims that go with that identity. They have to go from being hurt and ashamed to being angry and indignant… So, a kind of psychological transformation has to take place; the out-of-work have to stop blaming themselves for their hard times and turn their anger on the bosses, the bureaucrats or the politicians who are in fact responsible.
      Cloward and Piven sought to rig the welfare system for failure to provoke that anger. Their apprentice was Wade Rathke, the founder of ACORN. ACORN’s proud protégé was Barack Hussein Obama.
      Note well that what is described is and will continue to bring ruin on this nation and all others that participate in it.  Benson said that avoiding this fate would require the following:
      First, we should become informed about communism, about socialism, and about Americanism. ... We should know why paternalism, collectivism, or unnecessary federal supervision will hold our standard of living down and reduce productivity just as it has in every country where it has been tried. We should also know why the communist leaders consider socialism the highroad to communism.

      Second, we should accept the command of the Lord and treat socialistic communism as the tool of Satan. We should follow the counsel of the President of the Church and resist the influence and policies of the socialist-communist conspiracy wherever they are found—in the schools, in the churches, in governments, in unions, in businesses, in agriculture.

      Third, we should help those who have been deceived or who are misinformed to find the truth. Unless each person who knows the truth will "stand up and speak up" it is difficult for the deceived or confused citizen to find his way back.

      Fourth, we should not make the mistake of calling people "communist" just because they happen to be helping the communist cause. Thousands of patriotic Americans, including a few Latter-day Saints, have helped the communists without realizing it. Others have knowingly helped without joining the party. The remedy is to avoid name-calling, but point out clearly and persuasively how they are helping the communists.

      Fifth, each priesthood holder should use his influence in the community to resist the erosion process which is taking place in our political and economic life. He should use the political party of his choice to express his evaluation of important issues. He should see that his party is working to preserve freedom, not destroy it. He should join responsible local groups interested in promoting freedom and free competitive enterprise, in studying political issues, appraising the voting records and proposed programs, and writing to members of Congress, promoting good men in public office and scrutinizing local, state, and federal agencies to see that the will of the people is being carried out. He should not wait for the Lord's servants to give instruction for every detail once they have announced the direction in which the priesthood should go. Each member should exercise prayerful judgment and then act.

      Sixth, and most important of all, each member of the priesthood should set his own house in order (D&C 93:43). This should include:

      1. Regular family prayer, remembering especially our government leaders.

      2. Getting out of debt.

      3. Seeing that each member of the family understands the importance of keeping the commandments.

      4. Seeing that the truth is shared with members of the family, with neighbors, and with associates.

      5. Seeing that each member is performing his duties in the priesthood, in the auxiliary organizations, in the temple, and in the civic life of the community.

      6. Seeing that every wage earner in the home is a full tithepayer and fulfilling other obligations in financial support of the kingdom.

      7. Providing a one-year supply of essentials.
       We have been warned for nearly 100 years to avoid Marxism. How long will the warning go on?

      Thursday, August 27, 2015

      The Church Will Continue With Scouting ... For Now

      The LDS Church is apparently not yet done with the Boy Scouts of America. The Church issued a statement yesterday stating:
      The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints appreciates the positive contributions Scouting has made over the years to thousands of its young men and boys and to thousands of other youth. ...
      ... At this time, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will go forward as a chartering organization of BSA, and as in the past, will appoint Scout leaders and volunteers who uphold and exemplify Church doctrine, values, and standards. 
      With equal concern for the substantial number of youth who live outside the United States and Canada, the Church will continue to evaluate and refine program options that better meet its global needs.
      I'm disappointed with the decision, but it makes sense to a certain extent since an abrupt termination would have caused a significant amount of chaos within the Church youth programs. Better to methodically organize a separation.

      The damage in the relationship between the BSA and the membership has already been done, though. A poll taken earlier this month in Utah showed that 63% of "very active" members want the Church to leave the Boy Scouts. Although this number will probably drift downward in the coming months, I suspect that it will never dip below 40%. If the comments to the various stories on this subject are any sign, a lot of members are disenchanted with the Scouting program for various reasons, and don't have a deep attachment to the BSA. The BSA thinks it can do better by appealing to the "cool kids" in the politically correct crowd and spurning its rank and file members. This cuckoldry cannot be allowed to continue forever. I think its time that the Church start earnestly preparing for a separation.

      Quote of the Day--August 27, 2015

      Cole Thomas: The Course of Empire Destruction (1836)
      "Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, said that the following five attributes marked Rome at its end: first, a mounting love of show and luxury (that is, affluence); second, a widening gap between the very rich and the very poor (this could be among countries in the family of nations as well as in a single nation); third, an obsession with sex; fourth, freakishness in the arts, masquerading as originality, and enthusiasms pretending to be creativity; fifth, an increased desire to live off the state. It all sounds so familiar."
      --Francis Schaeffer- How Should We Then Live. 

      Juxtaposition This--Bricks and Glass Houses--August 27, 2015

      A Quick Run Around the Web--August 27, 2015

      More on Bikes

      Given my recent post on using bicycles during hard economic times or post-SHTF, I decided to see if I could find some additional articles on the topic. Voila!

      Survival and Self-Defense Related

      News and Misc.



      Gay Black Obama-Supporting Social Justice Warrior Murders White Reporter and Cameraman*

      I'm sure, by now, all of you have read or seen news reports about Vester Lee Flanagan (aka, Bruce Williams) (pictured on the right) murdering a fellow news reporter and cameraman.
      Flanagan (aka Williams) (Source)

      What you may not have seen yesterday is that Flanagan apparently left a "manifesto". From the article:
      A fax reportedly transmitted two hours after this morning’s shooting appears to contain “suicide notes” authored by a man named Bryce Williams.

      “What sent me over the top was the church shooting,” the author says, referring to June’s mass shooting at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. "And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them.”

      “As for [Charleston shooting suspect] Dylann Roof? You [censored]! You want a race war [censored]? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …[censored]!!!”

      The author then claims “Jehovah” told him to act on his plans.

      “Also, I was influenced by Seung–Hui Cho. That’s my boy right there,” the notes continue, referencing the gunman who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007. "He got NEARLY double the amount that [Columbine High School shooters] Eric Harris and Dylann Klebold got…just sayin’.”

      The fax, entitled "Suicide Note for Friends and Family,” concludes with a list of grievances that include “racial discrimination” and “sexual harassment” in the workplace, and makes reference to the author’s homosexuality.

      “The church shooting was the tipping point ... but my anger has been building steadily,” reads the last line of the note. "I’ve been a human powder keg for a while … just waiting to go BOOM!!!"
      The Daily Mail also reports:
      Flanagan was also once reprimanded by WDBJ editors for wearing an Obama campaign sticker on his jacket while reporting from an election booth in 2012, saying it 'demonstrated a basic lack of understanding of your role as an on-air journalist' and was a clear breach of impartiality rules.
      The story further indicates that Flanagan was a serial complainer when it came to allegations of racial harassment. According to the article, he was also believed to have mental problems and/or anger issues.

      (Source)
      * Note: I was originally going to use a more benign headline, but then thought that if the race, sexual orientation and political affiliation had been reversed, The New York Times would have made it part of a banner headline.

      **Note: Just a reminder that despite the media's glorification of such crimes, gun violence continues to decline.

      Update (8/29/2015): Minor change to headline/title.

      Wednesday, August 26, 2015

      Quote of the Day--August 26, 2015



      (Source)
      “Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded—here and there, now and then—are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. 
      “This is known as ‘bad luck’.”
      – Robert A. Heinlein

      This Old House

      (Source)

      A Quick Run Around the Web--August 26, 2015

      Found in "7 Actions to Take Immediately Following an EMP Strike" at Red Flag News.
        Thousands of refugees, most fleeing wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, have been snaking northward through the Balkans in recent days, confronting a Europe woefully unprepared to deal with them at every step.
          Most endured a perilous crossing to Greece aboard rafts and boats, some barely fit to sail. They traversed Greece, a nation paralyzed by economic crisis and too poor to handle a flow of people that in July hit a record high. At the border with Macedonia late last week, they trudged through a wall of riot police, who fought them back with tear gas before relenting. Now, the asylum-seekers, thousands a day, are racing into Hungary, which is rushing to complete a barbed-wire border fence by the end of the month to force them to seek other routes.

           * * *
          “Unless we do something, we will become a lifeboat sinking under the weight of people holding on to it and drowning everybody, both those seeking help and those offering help,” said Janos Lazar, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff, at a ceremony last week celebrating the founding of Hungary.

          Walmart to End Sales of AR15s and Other "Tactical" Firearms & Accessories

          Walmart has decided to end sales of AR15 rifles, as well as certain other "tactical" style rifles and shotguns, and "tactical" accessories. The company claims that the decision was based on poor sales rather than for political reasons. (See also these articles at The Truth About Guns and The Firearms Blog). Some of the firearms will be pulled and shipped to other stores for sale at 1/2 price, so you might want to check your nearest Walmart for deals.

          The Farmer and the Viper Revisited

          A couple of weeks ago, I discussed the Aesop's fables of "The Farmer and the Viper" and the "The Scorpion and the Frog," Both warm that evil people will act according to their nature, and being a good Samaritan to the wrong people can get you killed. My prior article was about Kayla Mueller who trusted that she could enter Syria and, because she was an aid worker, somehow be immune from the evils of the groups fighting for control there. But it is a risk here, as well. Case in point, as reported at The Daily Mail:
          An Atlanta couple have told of the terrifying moment four men pretending to have had car troubles burst into their home and robbed them at gunpoint, shooting the father-of-two in front of his children.

          Mike and Whitney Lash had just returned to their house with their two young children on August 16 when the men knocked on their door.

          Mr Lash answered the door, and the men said they had just moved down the street but had a flat tire and wanted to borrow a jack, but Mrs Lash felt something was amiss from the start.

          'I had a feeling that it was an excuse and we were about to be robbed. Right about that moment I saw them pull the gun on Mike,' she told ABC News.

          As Mr Lash saw the gun, he tried to slam the door shut, but two other men suddenly appeared.

          Mr Lash was shot three times in the his right leg as he attempted to keep the men out of his house.

          The four men then forced their way in.

          Mr Lash believed the gang were going to kill him and started praying.

          'Lord, this is, I guess, the moment I will meet you today … if it is not your will, I am ready to stay,' he recalled.

          Mrs Lash grabbed the couple's six-month-old daughter, Lucy, and the phone and ran into the yard calling 911.

          Their other child, two-year-old Everson, was upstairs sleeping.

          'I heard footsteps of someone running and two more shots that were aimed at me and my daughter,' Mrs Lash told ABC.

          The intruder then caught up to her and the child and brought them back into the house.
          Although the story is somewhat lacking in details, it appears that Mr. Lash simply threw the door open without ascertaining the identity of his visitors. Don't do that!

          It is not uncommon for criminals to lure in a victim by pretending to need help or be hurt. A former colleague of mine, in explaining some bruises and scabs he picked up while on vacation, related that he and a friend had been walking back to their car when they saw a guy laying on the ground with another man next to him acting excited and calling them over for help. When they got close, two other men jumped out of some bushes and started to attack them. Fortunately, my colleague reacted quickly, kicking the one on the ground so he couldn't get up, and landing some solid blows on a couple of the others before grabbing his friend and running away.

          I remember several years ago driving home with my family from a movie that let out late. It was dark. Turning a corner on which there was a convenience store, I noticed a young women laying on the ground around the side of the store. For just a second, I almost pulled in to see what was the matter, but resisted the urge. Sure enough, as I drove past, I looked into my mirror and saw the woman jump up, and a young man appear from the shadows. I'm sure she was bait for a trap.

          The lesson here is that your need to feel better about yourself by being polite or helping someone is not worth the life or health of yourself or your family. I'm not saying to never help the person that comes to your door for assistance, or that is stranded along the road, but to act with prudent care.