Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Lusting After A Philosopher King

Martin Gurri, author of The Revolt of the Public, recently discussed the elites' desire for a dictatorship over the messiness of democracy in his article, "Democracy and dictatorship in a nihilistic age." He observes that "[t]he concept of an enlightened dictatorship, with just-so repression, is a fantasy for the op-ed section of the New York Times," and cites to a 2009 op-ed by Thomas L. Friedman in particular who pined for an autocracy akin to that of China. After explaining the problems with modern dictatorships, Gurri goes on to observe: 
For all the received wisdom in the op-ed pages of the New York Times, it isn’t specifically democracy that is broken – or dictatorship either.  It’s the monstrous machinery of modern government as a whole.  The crisis of authority, I mean to say, is structural rather than ideological, and implicates models and ideals of governance inherited from the industrial age:  top-down, steeply hierarchical, staffed by accredited experts, worshipful of “data” and “science,” disdainful of the ignorant masses, and yet, at bottom, a utopian enterprise. 
This describes, with equal accuracy, the government system of China and that of the United States. 
If my thesis is correct, the paralysis and frustration that weigh so heavily on our moment will not be surmounted until political institutions align more closely with social practice.  In the digital age, this can only mean a flattening of government structures.  That’s what the nihilist impulse has sought to do, however blindly.  The public, wielding a Donald Trump or a Jeremy Corbyn in hand, aims to batter the ruling institutions down to eye level, just to see what happens next. 
Dictatorship today rests comfortably within the top-down, we-talk-you-listen model of modern government.  To align it more closely with the public would violate its guiding principle – and, in practice, impede or even endanger one-man rule. 
Democracy, however, can have no principled objection to bringing power down from the heights, closer to the public.  It’s remoteness that requires an explanation.  Democracy was organized differently before the distancing reforms of the twentieth century.  It can re-form again. ...
He then provides a couple of examples of states attempting just that.

Although he uses different language, and approaches the issue from a different direction, it is notable that what Gurri is describing is a society that has become too complex and costly, that is demanding to simplify per Tainter's thesis in The Collapse of Complex Societies. The problem is that the elite are too invested in the status quo. They like "the top-down, we-talk-you-listen model of modern government." Especially its perquisites.

June 29, 2016 -- A Quick Run Around The Web

--something I took a few weeks ago--

As northern and central India continue to suffer thorough severe drought and oppressive heat, police in Bundelkhand and several other regions are reporting a rise in violent – and often deadly – clashes over water.
    After almost 10 years of below-average rainfall and several consecutive years of drought, the region’s rivers, lakes, reservoirs and wells are drying up.
      Disputes are a common problem in many places in India that face water shortages. But Indian police report that the fighting is getting more frequent and bloody. In many parts of the country, neighbors, friends and family are turning on each other, desperate to protect what little water they have left, police records suggest.
        The Republican Party, already rife with science-deniers and economic reality-deniers, has thrown itself into the embrace of a man who fabricates realities that ignorant people like to inhabit.
          Did I say “ignorant”? Yes, I did. It is necessary to say that people are deluded and that the task of leadership is to un-delude them. Is that “elitist”? Maybe it is; maybe we have become so inclined to celebrate the authenticity of all personal conviction that it is now elitist to believe in reason, expertise, and the lessons of history. If so, the party of accepting reality must be prepared to take on the party of denying reality, and its enablers among those who know better. If that is the coming realignment, we should embrace it.
          The current political system, relying on a "mandarin" class to fill the bureaucracy, was devised at a time that most people in the industrialized world did not have educations past the 6th or 8th grades. Today, the population, as a whole, is much more educated than before; and significant numbers are as educated, if not more so, than the elites that despise them. So, Troub's use of the term "ignorant masses" is not only incorrect, but represents the blind hatred of which the author is so critical. It's especially rich because these same elites, that despise the "ignorant masses," are so intent on encouraging immigration from countries where the populations are, in general, uneducated or under-educated relative to the populations in industrialized nations. 
          •  Duh! "Study Learns Chicago Criminals DON'T Buy Their Guns Legally"--BuzzPo. The author writes: "The study learned that virtually zero criminals have ever used the internet or gun shows, because that method is easily traceable. It’s much safer for a criminal to acquire firearms on the streets where they’re harder to keep track of, and that’s most criminals method of choice." Also: 
            The vast majority of the inmates used handguns to commit their crimes or protect themselves, very few cited using “military-style assault weapons.” And they said their habit was to get rid of a gun after one year because of the “legal liability” of being caught with a gun that could be linked to crimes they or others committed.” [ed: The real reason for gun buyback programs?]
              As for specifics regarding sources for purchasing guns, some of the inmates indicated that gangs have individuals with a Firearm Owners Identification Card who buy guns then sell them to gang members. Others indicated using “corrupt cops” who seize guns then “put them back on the street.”
                ... The police response was very quick.  Additional officers arrived at the scene, formed up, broke out a large window, and went in.  But it still took time.  It appears about six minutes passed from the initial shots until the police entered the Pulse club.  During that period, the murderer was shooting and killing people inside the club.  The shooting continued as the police entered.
                  Once in the club, the officers could not locate the murderer.  They were uncertain how many there might be.  They continued to hear shots, and determined that the shooter was in the bathroom area.  They did not shoot at the murderer.  It does not appear that he fired at them; and it does not seem that they “drove him into the bathroom area”.
                    Then they were ordered to wait for the SWAT team.  It took about 15-20 minutes for SWAT to get there.  We do not know if more shots were fired during that period.

                    Tuesday, June 28, 2016

                    June 28, 2016 -- A Quick Run Around the Web


                    • A new Woodpile Report.
                    • Continued anger over Germany's second failure to create a United Europe:
                    The Brexit vote was “a very big shock” for the three leaders, whose economies under Nafta collectively exceed that of the EU, according to John Kirton, director of the University of Toronto’s G-7 Research Group. As a result, the trio is under more pressure to display unity and declare “globalization is good for us and we still deeply believe it and are reaping the rewards as we speak,” Kirton said.

                    Scott Adams Proved Correct

                    Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) had recently authored a post to his blog entitled "Why Gun Control Can’t Be Solved in the USA," which was widely cited. If you haven't seen it, he reasons that a compromise on gun control in the United States is impossible because of an inherent difference in how Democrats and Republicans view and use firearms: 
                    So it seems to me that gun control can’t be solved because Democrats are using guns to kill each other – and want it to stop – whereas Republicans are using guns to defend against Democrats. Psychologically, those are different risk profiles. And you can’t reconcile those interests, except on the margins. For example, both sides might agree that rocket launchers are a step too far. But Democrats are unlikely to talk Republicans out of gun ownership because it comes off as “Put down your gun so I can shoot you.”
                    Let’s all take a deep breath and shake off the mental discomfort I just induced in half of my readers. You can quibble with my unsupported assumptions about gun use, but keep in mind that my point is about psychology and about big group averages. If Republicans think they need guns to protect against Democrats, that’s their reality. And if Democrats believe guns make the world more dangerous for themselves, that is their reality. And they can both be right. Your risk profile is different from mine. 
                    So let’s stop acting as if there is something like “common sense” gun control to be had if we all act reasonably. That’s not an option in this case because we all have different risk profiles when it comes to guns. My gun probably makes me safer, but perhaps yours makes you less safe. You can’t reconcile those interests.
                    This inherent viewpoint of Democrats (that guns are only used to shoot innocent people)  showed up plainly in a couple of articles at The Truth About Guns today. In "Quote of the Day: The Boston Globe’s Advice for Anyone Thinking About Buying a Gun", TTAG quotes Isvari Mohan as writing: “The only purpose of guns is killing. And the only purpose of the gun industry is to sell them. Next time you think about buying a gun, think about that.” Similarly, in "New England Journal of Medicine: Doctor Knows Best! Gun Control for Everyone!," the portions quoted by TTAG show that the authors of the article in the New England Journal of Medicine believe that it was easy access to firearms that allowed the Orlando killer to make his attack, and conclude that "to consider this scale of death the price of freedom is a perversion of the notion of liberty." These are Democrats just as Adams described them: they only see guns as a threat.

                    Handloading the Hornady FTX Bullet in .44 Magnum--Further Thoughts and Experience

                    This is a follow-up on my recent post "Handloading the Hornady FTX Bullet in .44 Magnum--Initial Thoughts" wherein I describes some of the issues and problems I had with using Hornady's flex-tip bullets for use in a lever-action carbine.

                    As I noted, even though the case must be trimmed shorter than is standard for the .44 Magnum, there is little information on powder loads using the FTX bullets. Since the bullets were 225 grain, I started with moderate loads of 2400 and Unique powders, using 20 and 12 grains, respectively. I knew from the get go that the loads using the 2400 were probably too much, since, with the shorter case required for the FTX bullets, I was actually compressing the powder charge slightly when seating the bullets.

                    This past weekend, I had an opportunity to test the rounds. Shooting a 5-shot group of each, the loads using Unique averaged 1546 fps at the muzzle, while the loads using the 2400 averaged 1734 fps. These were shooting out of a 24-inch barrel. Although the loads using the Unique were fairly stiff, cycling seemed fine. The 2400 loads definitely showed signs of too high of pressure, including some flattened primers and difficulty with extraction.

                    I had loaded additional rounds of the 2400, but I am going to pull the bullets and reduce the powder charge when reloading them.

                    Although I wasn't testing for accuracy (other than not damaging my chronograph), I had aimed at a target set out approximately 50 yards when shooting through the chronograph. The results were not that impressive. I expect it will improve when I get a correct loading.

                    Although I have been less than impressed with the using the FTX bullets for hand-loading, I will note one positive aspect: the pointed bullets made it noticeably easier to load the bullets through the loading gate and into the magazine.

                    Juxtaposition This: Mark Zuckerberg on Walls


                    Monday, June 27, 2016

                    Dissolution

                              The Supreme Court has announced that college admission preferences in favor of anyone that is not a white-male is still okay, some 50 years after calling affirmative action "odious to a free people whose institutions are founded upon the doctrine of equality" in a decision where the justices opined that it was only a temporary measure that would end within a decade. It is no wonder that tribal politics are the future: it only pays if one is in a tribe that can command either respect or fear. Thus, in Fresno, where an unarmed white teenager was shot and killed by police, protesters turned out with Confederate flags and "White Lives Matter" signs; and in Sacramento, communists and Black Lives Matters protesters to break up a lawful rally by Neo-Naziswhile police stood by and did nothing. I suspect that this is only the beginning as an increasing number of people realize that they are the sacrificial victims of multiculturalism. 

                              Terry Teachout, in a column at Arts Journal, took note of a Washington Post article belittling Trump's for eating fast food. The writer for the Post stated, for example: "For some people, what’s coming out of Donald Trump’s mouth is downright scary. Almost as frightening, at least to those of us who see the stomach as a window to the soul, is what is going in." Teachout commented:
                    Note the transition from “some people” to “us.” As in: Not our kind, dearie. After which come the sneers. I’m no fan of Donald Trump—that’s putting it very, very mildly—but I also know that of such sneers are revolutions made.
                    He goes on:
                    This “news” story is, in its minor but nonetheless revealing way, illustrative of the condition that now increasingly prevails in American society, which is that those who disagree no longer have anything to say to each other. Fact-based argument has been replaced by reflexive contempt. Nor should this be in any way surprising. In a totally polarized political environment, persuasion is no longer possible: we believe what we believe, and nothing matters but class and power. We are well on the way to becoming a land of jerking knees. 
                    Never before have I felt so strongly that Americans are talking past instead of to one another. It is, I fear, our future and our fate—which is why I have come to believe that I will live to see Red and Blue America negotiate a “soft disunion.” No, there won’t be a second civil war. I can’t imagine the citizens of Blue America waging a shooting war over much of anything, least of all continued union with people whom they disdain. (Red America is a different story.) But the gap that separates the two Americas has grown so deep and wide that I find it increasingly difficult to imagine their caring to function as a single nation for very much longer. If I’m right, then I expect that they will ultimately find a more or less polite way to stop doing so.
                             Teachout's belief that Blue America wouldn't wage a shooting war is, of course, ridiculous. While they may not yet have advanced to shooting, protesters and rioters on the left certainly have been making use of punches, kicks, clubs, and, more recently in Sacramento, knives. And let us not forget the rioting and looting. Rod Deher, commenting on Teachout's article, observed that the left "aren’t going to stop until they’ve crushed us [i.e., the right], because we’re not just wrong, but evil." He points out:
                    Would you want to share a country with such “evil” people, unless you could render them as dhimmis? Conversely, would you want to share a country with people — especially powerful people in media, politics, industry, and academia — who think you are evil because you believe in and practice orthodox Christianity?
                    Fred Reed recently explained:
                    These things are no longer incidents in the cute “culture wars,” half amusing and half-exasperating. We see something more like Weimar Germany, with organized mobs making targets of politicians and breaking up rallies. It is a deliberate, conscious assault on what America is supposed to be and to a reasonable approximation, was.  
                    * * * 
                    Yes, there is a culture war. Behind the rabble, and supporting them, are the media, New York and Washington and Hollywood, the open-borders crowd, the racial lobbies and etiolated epicenes of academia, Obama and Hillary and the Neocons and Wall Street. 
                    Asserting control would not be easy. The cities are powder kegs. The rioters hold too many hostages. If police shoot one black criminal, a city burns. Politicians know it. If Latinos become another hostile racial group, Katie bar the door. We face as part of the larger conflict a tricorn race war of, now, low intensity. This makes no sense as most of all races just want to live in peace, but the civilized inevitably get sucked into hostility started by extremists. White nationalists are spoiling for a fight, as are Black Livists and an indeterminate number of Latino hot-heads.  
                    Latinos are key in what is coming. There are at least 55 million in the US–I suspect the numbers are deliberately understated by the government–and most, being legal, are not going away. 
                    * * * 
                    Race is only a part of the onrushing disaster. America is no longer a country, but a riot of hostile races, sexes, and political extremes, of self-serving politicians and extractive corporations of the extremely rich who have no attachment to the US. The mild competition between Republicans and Democrats of the Fifties has given way to hard Right and weird Left who bitterly hate each other. They are irreconcilable. 
                    Somebody has to win. There is neither a desire for compromise nor room for it. Those who regard universities as centers for infantilism, inclusiveness and narcissistic political theater cannot live side by side with those who want rigorous schooling for the qualified. It is one or the other. A belief in free discourse is not compatible with firing people who say things offensive to the sacred sensitives. No happy mean exists between affirmative action and advancement by merit. The ghetto cannot cohabit amicably with the library.
                              This is not a situation that should be relished. It is sad. But dissolution will be the ultimate fate of our nation, and I don't think it will be a peaceful "soft disunion."

                    Update (6/30/2016): corrected typo.

                    Swimming Pools Are More Dangerous To Children Than Firearms

                    I saw an article today about a boy that had drowned in his uncle's swimming pool--a year after his cousin narrowly avoided the same fate. It reminded me of some quick calculations I had done a couple years ago about the risk of swimming pools versus firearms.

                    The impetus for my calculation was an article in The Telegraph that agonized over the fact that approximately 100 children died from gun related accidents in 2013--about two every week. Looking at statistics on drowning though, I found that about 390 kids (i.e., 14 and under) drown in swimming pools or spas every year (that is, more than one per day!). Accidents from other causes take their toll, as well. Some 20 children die each year drowning in buckets; and more than 9,000 die in automobile accidents. There were also 293 kids (less than 9 years old) killed by tipping or falling furniture between 2000 and 2011--62% of which were killed by a falling television. And about the 3.5 million children (14 and younger) are injured each year playing sports.

                    More broadly, in 2000, there were 3,326 deaths attributable to sports (not including professional teams). 3,007 were related to swimming activities (633 were from drowning), while only 3 were related to shooting sports.

                    There are 10.3 million swimming pools in the United States. In 1996, there were 242 million firearms in the United States. More recent estimates place the number north of 310 million. Thus, crunching the numbers (390 drownings in a swimming pool versus 100 accidental shooting deaths as reported by The Telegraph), it appears that swimming pools are about 117 times (or 11,700%) more likely to kill a child than is a firearm.

                    Friday, June 24, 2016

                    Snatching Defeat From the Jaws of Victory

                    An essay at The Federalist yesterday suggests that a third party candidate could, possibly, maybe win the election given dissatisfaction with the current candidates, especially among millennials. The article, "Yes, There Will Be An Independent Candidate For President," by Bethany Mandel and David Marcus, is essentially an advertisement for a group calling itself "Better for America."  They describe the group as "comprised of religious leaders and political operatives" who gathered "in a private room at a swanky hotel in midtown" in "a sincere attempt to find alternatives to Trump’s new vision for conservatism and Hillary Clinton’s corrupt crony politics." According to the article, "[t]hose present represented some of the most influential faith leaders in America—thought leaders in their respective denominations and intellectual circles. Also present were lawyers and those with the practical experience necessary to undergo the steps to get another candidate on the ballot without a party apparatus behind it."

                    The reason for the lawyers and "those with practical experience" is because of the legal hurdles of getting a candidate on the various state ballets, especially since the deadline for registering as a candidate has already passed in Texas and North Carolina, and other states deadlines expire soon. But, according to the piece, "[w]orking with several experts in the field, the group is confident that through petition-gathering and legal maneuvers ballot access can be achieved in virtually every state, including those with deadlines that have already passed."

                    The group claims to have three potential candidates that have committed to run if selected, but has not revealed the identity of these candidates. In fact, Better for America seems rather opaque as to who is in the group and what is their political affiliation. Not only does the group not name the three potential candidates, but does not even reveal the identity of the alleged "influential faith leaders" that are advising the group.

                    Mandel and Marcus indicate that "the week-old organization is not an attempt to undermine Trump." Yet, their admission that the group's goal of winning the election "may sound farfetched, and is indeed unlikely," seems to clearly indicate that the purpose of the group is not to elect a candidate, but to make sure one of the current candidates lose.

                    But which candidate are they hoping to undermine? It is pretty obvious that it is Trump.

                    The piece criticizes those that have labeled certain leaders of the Republican party as "RINOS" yet now support Trump.

                    According to the Wikipedia page on Better for America, the chair of the group is John Kingston, III, who, besides being a Wall Street insider, also served as executive director of the documentary Mitt (about the presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney) and is described as a member of "the American Enterprise Institute National Council, and was formerly the Vice Chairman of the National Faith and Values Steering Committee for Mitt Romney's 2008 presidential campaign, as well as a member of the National Republican Senatorial Committee Majority Makers and the Republican Governors Association Executive Roundtable." In other words, a reliable party insider. Amee Latour, writing at Bustle, further describes Kingston as "a conservative donor who has worked with other conservatives in the dwindling 'Stop Trump' camp, including William Kristol and Mitt Romney."

                    The executive director is Anne MacDonald, who the New York Times indicates was the chief of staff to the first lady Laura Bush.

                    The Times also indicates that the group is working with the Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, who supports a third party run to stop Trump. The group is being advised by Joel Searby, a Republican strategist. Searby was behind the push to get retired Marine Gen. Jim Mattis to run for President, and more recently has urged that Condoleeza Rice enter the race.

                    And it is also probably no coincidence that with this very public announcement about Better for America in The Federalist, George Will has announced that he has changed his political affiliation from Republican to "unaffiliated."

                    So basically, Better for America is a group comprised of Rockefeller Republicans: i.e., those that have been labelled RINO, lost the last two presidential elections, have no interest in protecting gun rights or our national borders, and are globalists. They are more willing to allow Hillary Clinton win the election, and alter the makeup of the Supreme Court for a generation, than to tolerate a president that might seek to limit America's foreign entanglements. They will not present a candidate that can draw votes away from Hillary Clinton, but they will certainly split the vote for Donald Trump. These are dangerous times.

                    June 24, 2016 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

                    Brexit:

                    Of course, the big news for today is that the UK voted to leave the European Union. The UK has always had one foot out the door inasmuch as it had not adopted the Euro but retained its own currency. But the meddlesome and onerous nature of the EU appears to have finally alienated enough of the voters to decide to walk away. Again, I see this as a general realization that the cost of complexity had exceeded the benefits of that complexity. It probably won't stop there, as Scotland will likely reconsider its independence. Some articles:

                    First — technically speaking — the referendum is not legally binding. In theory, Cameron, who plans to leave by October, could ignore the will of a slight majority of voters, and not make any moves to exit the political and economic bloc.
                      But Cameron, who led the campaign to remain in the EU, is likely to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which begins the legal process for leaving the bloc.
                        "The British people have made the very clear decision to take a different path and as such I think the country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction," he said Friday in a televised address outside his residence. "I do not think it would be right for me to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination."
                          Once Article 50 is invoked, a series of negotiations would begin about how to disentangle the U.K. from the many EU structures to which it is a party. The process could take two years or more, if both the U.K. and the European Council agree to extend the discussion period.
                            Cameron has said this process would be irreversible.
                              "We should be clear that this process is not an invitation to rejoin, it is a process for leaving," he said in February.
                                Some have suggested that British leadership could avoid invoking Article 50 all together, and would instead attempt to negotiate a different — not entirely separate — relationship with the EU.

                                Firearms/Self-Defense:
                                Other Stuff:
                                Many Americans do not think of the right to keep and bear arms as a civil right, but they are mistaken. It helps to understand things from the point of view of the Founders and the 18th-century radical liberals whose ideas shaped our republic. Prior to the American founding, the right to keep and bear arms was generally limited to the aristocracy; it was, like the possession of a title or a coat of arms (coat of what?), a bright and dramatic dividing line between the ruling class and the ruled classes, between the Whos and Whoms of society. Arguments about licensing the carry of weapons are hardly new: Caravaggio was arrested for carrying without a license (a sword, in his case) in 1598 near the Piazza Navona in Rome at 3 a.m. 
                                The bearing of arms is a sign of citizenship, which is to say, of being a full participant in government who acts through it, as opposed to subjectship, the state of being a passive being who does not act through government but who is acted upon. In that sense, it is like the ability to vote or to be eligible for service in government. Frederick Douglass understood this linkage perfectly, inasmuch as these ideas were much better understood in those more literate days. “A man’s rights rest in three boxes,” he said. “The ballot box, jury box, and the cartridge box. Let no man be kept from the ballot box because of his color. Let no woman be kept from the ballot box because of her sex.” The militias contemplated by the Second Amendment were armed citizen volunteers who could act to use the force of arms to keep the peace in an emergency; they are entitled to act in the peacekeeping role generally reserved for the state because, being the citizens of a republic, they are the state, the very seat of its sovereignty. The formal government is a provisional arrangement (hence regular elections) constituted as a convenience. While the Second Amendment may not codify a “right of revolution,” as some put it, the idea of armed citizens pushing out a government that had become inconvenient, a burden on their liberties rather than a guarantor of them, could hardly have been alien to a group of men who had just risked their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor doing just that.
                                  Until just a few months ago, I was one of those red, white, and blue optimists who firmly believed that the United States could survive damage done by whatever idiots an apathetic electorate put in charge. I terribly underestimated two things: the Democrats’ contempt for the Constitution and the Republicans’ commitment to losing, even when they win.

                                    Now that we’re about three quarters through an elaborate falling dominoes design that will probably end up looking like a hammer and sickle, all I have to say is that you should enjoy the last few months of America because there is one thing of which I am now certain: the republic as we have enjoyed it will cease to exist after the next election.
                                      No, I don’t mean “America” will be gone, rather the America we’ve known.
                                      Throughout its history, American society has been tolerant of and even supportive of the identity politics of various minority groups, from the Irish and Italians a century ago to Hispanics and Asians today. This tradition has been good for the country, overall, in that it has encouraged assimilation while making our society more dynamic. But if we are moving toward “majority-minority” status in many states and localities, we should probably expect to see a rise in white identity politics as well. It’s hard to argue that this would similarly salutary, or that the balkanization of American society along racial and ethnic lines will make the country a better place.

                                      Thursday, June 23, 2016

                                      Video: "Ancient Apocalypse--Mystery of the Minoans"


                                      This video documentary concerns the collapse of the Minoan civilization, "an Aegean Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Crete and other Aegean islands and flourished from approximately 3650 to 1400 BCE." This particular documentary explores whether the explosive eruption of Thera (modern day, Santorini) around 1600 BC caused or contributed to the collapse of the Minoan culture. Prior to the eruption, Thera was a horseshoe shaped is and with a shallow bay in the horseshoe, mostly taken up by a smaller island (so, basically, there was an outer island "wall" or "shell" protecting a smaller island surrounded by a sea passageway). The center island obviously was a prime port with the possibility of ships being able to land a full 360 degrees around the island, with all being in a protected harbor. Because Thera lay north of Crete, the island would have been a natural trading port between Crete, where the Minoan government was centered, the Balkan and Peloponnese peninsulas, and Asia Minor. The documentary suggests that this city would fill a similar role that Hong Kong plays in the Far East, as center of international trade (and, probably, finance).

                                      The eruption destroyed much of Thera, including the central island city. That bay and city island overlay the caldera, of which what remained after the explosion, collapsed forming a deep bay. The ash plume would have been 26 miles high. A tidal wave produced by the explosion would have destroyed ports all along the north coast of Crete. The explosion likely rivaled that of the 1815 Tambora explosion; the amount of sulfur dioxide thrown into the atmosphere likely reduced global temperatures, perhaps for several years. Certainly, it is likely that the Minoans experienced crop failures.

                                      The Minoan civilization did not collapse immediately, but it appears to have entered a period of decline, with new or alien religions popping up in the rural areas. The Minoan period ended with either invasion, civil war, or both. The grand palace at Knossos was abandoned and gave rise to the myth of King Minos and the maze in which the Minotaur was kept.

                                      I find this documentary to be interesting in several ways. First, I see it fulfilling many of the traits of collapse as described by Tainter. The Minoan civilization was an old and wealthy civilization by the time of the explosion of Thera. The sheer magnitude of the palace at Knossos demonstrates the amount of wealth that must have been needed to maintain the elite. Moreover, public works (running water and sewers) would have required a significant expenditure. It is likely that by the time of the Thera eruption, the civilization had reached a level of complexity where new laws and public works were producing a negative return on investment. With resources stretched thin, a sudden disaster--the loss of much of the ships and ports on which it relied, as well as the complete destruction of its major seaport--was more than the civilization could mitigate. Moreover, if you put yourself in the shoes of the "average" Minoan, you could see how a disaster of this magnitude could be seen as a judgment of the gods, and therefore destroying much of the legitimacy of the ruling class. This seems to be evidenced by the fact that a new rival religion arose in rural areas of Crete.

                                      Second, I find the collapse of Minoan civilization to have many similarities to events outlined in Chapter 8 of the Revelation, when the Seventh Seal is opened; like those events writ small. Obviously, we don't know if the Minoans had been warned by some unknown ancient prophet, but certainly they were oblivious to the impending disaster. Similarly, when the Seventh Seal is opened, there will be a short silence in heaven. I interpret this as a period of time when God will withdraw his spirit from the world (not necessarily the righteous, but the world at large), fulfilling the statement that Lord's spirit would not always strive with man. (Genesis 6:3). (See also 2 Nephi 26:11) ("For the Spirit of the Lord will not always strive with man. And when the Spirit ceaseth to strive with man then cometh speedy destruction, and this grieveth my soul."). Then we hear of lightning and thunder and an earthquake, followed by hail and fire, and a mountain "burning with fire" cast into the sea. While there are several possible explanations for this, it would certainly match one or more massive volcanic explosions. Next, John's Revelation describes the fall from heaven of the star called Wormwood. While I believe this may be a meteor or some other physical object, I also recognize that heavenly bodies (including stars) are used to represent or designate heavenly or supernatural personages. Thus, this could be an angel of some sort coming to the earth to spread destruction. In any event, poisoned waters could be a result of major volcanic activity, whether from ash falls, sulfuric acid, hydrofluoric acid, or some other contaminants. Finally, after all of this, the Revelation describes spreading war and conflict--just as experienced by the Minoans as their civilization collapsed.

                                      June 23, 2016 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

                                      (Source)

                                        In 370 counties across 36 states and the District of Columbia, non-Hispanic whites accounted for less than half the population as of July 2015. That includes 31 additional counties since 2010, such as those encompassing Fort Worth and Austin in Texas; Charlotte, N.C.; Savannah, Ga.; and parts of suburban Atlanta and Sacramento, Calif.
                                          Of the nation’s 3,142 counties, the so-called minority majority ones—12% of the total—represent an outsize chunk of the U.S. population since they are home to almost one-third of Americans.
                                            The new figures point to a widening racial generation gap. While three-quarters of Americans age 55 and older are white, just 56% of those 18 to 34 are white, and only slightly more than half of minors are white, according to William Frey, a Brookings Institution demographer.
                                              These shifts will shape who wins this year’s elections, with Democrats benefiting from the growth of minorities since Latinos, blacks and Asians are more likely to vote Democratic. In several battleground states, including Florida, Nevada and New Mexico, the racial generation gap is even wider than in the rest of the country.
                                              • Related: "Obama Immigration Plan Blocked by 4-4 Tie at Supreme Court."--AP. The article explains: "A tie vote sets no national precedent but leaves in place the ruling by the lower court. In this case, the federal appeals court in New Orleans said the Obama administration lacked the authority to shield up to 4 million immigrants from deportation and make them eligible for work permits without approval from Congress." However, the article also notes that the decision has no real world consequences because Congress has allocated so little money for deportation.

                                              Wednesday, June 22, 2016

                                              June 22, 2016--A Quick Run Around the Web


                                              While the vast majority of the dead in the Syrian conflict so far have been young men killed fighting each other, countless others have departed as migrants before they meet the same fate.
                                                Some are avoiding compulsory military service, others airstrikes or rebel militias; many thousands are already in Syrian government prisons. 
                                                  The result is a permanent demographic hole in the Syrian population. It's women, especially those who might have wanted to get married or to have children, who've been left behind.
                                                    This is a terrible humanitarian crisis. The only thing to be done is for Europe to ship male Syrians back to Syria.

                                                    Video: "Ancient Apocalypse Death on the Nile"


                                                    This video concerns the collapse of the Egyptian Old Kingdom (c. 2686 BC–c. 2181 BC), the first of the great Egyptian civilizations. Although it is accepted, based on the archaeological evidence, that the Old Kingdom's demise was accompanied by civil war and a fragmentation of the country (echoes of Tainter's thesis in his book, The Collapse of Complex Societies (PDF)), this program is about evidence indicating that the collapse was caused (or helped along) by a catastrophic change in climate: a period of global cooling that caused a severe drought between 2200 and 2150 BC with the resultant famine. Egypt then entered a "dark age".

                                                    Tuesday, June 21, 2016

                                                    June 21, 2016--A Quick Run Around the Web

                                                    "A good sword for home defense? (viewer question)"--Skallagrim. Something that may be of interest for those living in jurisdictions with restrictive gun laws.

                                                    • A new Woodpile Report is up.
                                                    • "Number of Zika-Positive Puerto Ricans Surprises Health Officials"--New York Times. Testing of blood donations in Puerto Rico show that, as of the week ending June 11, 1.1% of blood donors had active infections of Zika. The CDC was surprised to see the percentage this high so early in the outbreak. The article goes on to note that the CDC expects 25% of the 3.5 million inhabiting the island to be infected by the end of the year. 
                                                    • "First Look: Schmeisser SLP-9 Pistol"--The Truth About Guns. A full-sized striker fired handgun carrying 17 rounds of 9 mm in the magazine. MSRP is supposed to be $499.
                                                    • "Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Challenge To New York And Connecticut Weapons Ban"--The Captain's Journal. Herschel Smith provides his thoughts on the implications (or non-implications) of this. Basically, though, he posits that the Supreme Court is turning back to gun control being a local issues, which means that if you live in states that restrict gun rights but you want to enjoy your 2nd Amendment right to arm yourself, your choices are to change the law, leave, or violate the law.
                                                    • "SPACE INVADER? Russia to ‘conquer the moon’ and station a squad of cosmonauts in permanent lunar outpost"--The Sun. Russia wants to have a permanently manned moon base, apparently by 2030. The article speculates on whether Russia will attempt to claim sovereign territory or have a military presence. The fact of the matter, though, is that an official territorial claim is unnecessary if no one else has the means to eject you from that territory. I would note that George and Meredith Friedman discussed the inevitable militarization of space, including the moon, in their book, The Future of War, published in 1996.
                                                    • "What Will Gun Controllers Do When Americans Ignore an ‘Assault Weapons’ Ban?"--Reason.com. The author argues, based on past bans on other products (alcohol and illicit drugs) and past attempts to ban certain types of firearms, that such bans will largely be ignored. 
                                                    • "Gun control backers are really, really sick of playing nice"--Washington Post. The author, Amber Phillips, indicates that the new slogan to be employed by the gun haters is: "You're either with us — or you're with the terrorists." The purpose is to put Republican politicians in a tough spot by presenting a false dichotomy and making them choose. The author also points out that "[i]t helps that the injection of national security into the gun debate coincides with a growing, more sophisticated gun control movement — more money, more intensity — and a steady drip, drip of mass shootings." Infantile, but probably effective.
                                                    • "Employers less interested in low-skilled male workers"--Washington Examiner. From the article:
                                                    At 88 percent, the U.S. has the third-lowest participation rate for prime-age men among developed nations, beating out only Italy and Israel. Since 1990, participation for that group has fallen the second-fastest of any country.
                                                      The specific problem, the White House economics detail, is that workforce participation used to be nearly universal among men with and without college degress, with labor force participation rates above 97 percent for both categories in the mid-1960s. But over time, labor force participation for men whose education ended at high school has dropped to 83 percent even as it's only slipped slightly for college graduates. The problem is particularly acute for black men.
                                                      The gist of the article is that the lack of demand for low-skilled labor is disappearing because of structural changes. Possibly. But it also may be because of the import of foreign labor as part of the globalism of labor markets and condoning of illegal immigration. Something that blacks should consider when they go to the ballet box this fall.
                                                      • "Good Article On The Walkie Talkie Bank Robbery"--The Anonymous Conservative. Background: In September 1971, a gang of thieves tunneled into a bank vault at the Baker Street branch of Lloyds Bank, with a plan to raid the safety deposit boxes. What they found, however, frightened them: evidence of pedophilia among the highest ranks of British society and government. Senior government officials silenced the media. According to the article, "[t]he four men caught, charged and convicted of the raid went to jail without ever having their names mentioned in the press, and to this day their identities and the circumstances of their capture remain secret. Even the lengths of their sentences are still shrouded in mystery." What the Anonymous Conservative points out, however, is that this type of information makes elected officials and judges controllable through blackmail. He explains:
                                                        ... A pedophile in a position of power might as well be a robot that only you have the remote control for. They are the single most controllable personality type. Own Jimmy Saville, and you own every media pedophile he has recruited into his pedophile network. The worse you are, the more you will be enabled, because the better the control you will offer – and the higher your star will rise.
                                                          Did you think it was just chance that there were so many pedophiles in the uppermost echelons of British society? They just happened to all be there en masse, enabling each other?
                                                          The sadistic boss of one of Venezuela’s most feared kidnap gangs has revealed in harrowing detail how he stalks and seizes his victims, murders those who don’t pay the ransom – and has a network of corrupt officers embedded in the police.
                                                            In a chilling interview in the lawless slums of western Caracas, conducted at gunpoint, the kidnap boss told how he has 'no remorse' about his reign of terror in the crisis-stricken city.
                                                              'If they don’t pay up after a week,' he said. 'We dig a two-metre hole and shoot them in the face with a shotgun so nobody will be able to identify the body. They stay on the missing persons list forever. In this city, I am in charge.'
                                                                Kidnapping rates in the socialist country have soared since falling oil prices caused widespread food shortages and unrest. The over-stretched police force is struggling to deal with the crime wave, which has brought the country to its knees.
                                                                  Caracas, named ‘the most dangerous city on earth’, has the world’s highest homicide rate, with 3,946 murders alone last year in a city of almost 3.3 million people. According to police figures, 85 per cent of deaths in the city are violent.
                                                                    Police openly admit they cannot cope. On a motorbike patrol through one of the country’s most dangerous 'kidnap alleys', Santiago Rosas, director of El Hatillo municipal police, told MailOnline that police are now 'only able to protect nine per cent of the population'.
                                                                     I bet a lot of the Venezuelan public wishes that they could keep firearms for self-defense. 

                                                                    The Cultural Roots of Crime

                                                                    Long-time readers of this blog are probably aware of articles and books I've referenced in the past concerning crime and violence, as well as the disproportionate amount of violent crime committed by certain minorities. Thus, it was with interest I read a recent article/interview by David Frum at The Atlantic, entitled, "The Cultural Roots of Crime: A conversation about the rise and fall of violence in America with criminal-justice scholar Barry Latzer." 

                                                                    Latzer, a criminal defense attorney and researcher, takes the controversial position in his book, The Rise and Fall of Violent Crime in America, that crime is related to culture (not race--he specifically notes the dramatically lower crime rates of Haitian refugees in Miami in the early 1980's compared to the black Americans in Miami), and that spikes in crime rates are tied to immigration and migration within the nation-state of populations with more crime-prone cultures. He uses this to explain the crime spikes of 1890-1935 and plunge during 1935-1965, as well as the more recent spike and plunge. Latzer explains that in the 1890's, Northern cities were actually seeing low crime rates, while the South experienced rising violent crime by blacks. He goes on:
                                                                    Northern cities started to suffer more violent crime in the first decade of the 20th century, partly because of the southern Italian migration to the U.S. ... Then, following World War I, a Mexican migration to the U.S. added to the crime totals, as did a major spike in black migration out of the South. The war sparked a black movement to big cities for economic betterment, but, unfortunately, also brought with it high crime rates within the black community. In addition, Prohibition, which began in 1920, produced violence among the alcohol distribution gangs competing for turf (though this violence did not target ordinary citizens). 
                                                                    Violent crime peaked in the early 1930s, with a wave of bank robberies by “Pretty Boy” Floyd, “Baby Face” Nelson, John Dillinger, and Bonnie and Clyde Barrow. ... 
                                                                    Crime rates started to decline in the mid-1930s, at the same time that the New Deal went into effect. This may seem like cause-and-effect: unemployment and poverty were reduced, so violent crime diminished. But this is not necessarily correct. First, Prohibition ended in 1933, and that helped reduce murder rates. Second, the spate of bank robberies and kidnappings declined, partly because law enforcement apprehended high-profile perpetrators. Third, migration by blacks and Mexicans and immigration by Italians declined dramatically when jobs became unavailable due to the Depression. Finally, there was a severe downturn in the economy in 1937 and 1938, yet violent crime continued to fall. The American public was terribly damaged by the Great Depression—68 percent of Americans were below the poverty line in 1939—but this produced no increase in violent crime.

 
                                                                    During World War II, crime continued to drop, partly because the war removed hundreds of thousands of young men from the streets to the barracks. When the war ended there was a brief spike in violent crime, but the downturn continued after the war and well into the postwar boom of the 1950s. No one is sure why crime remained low in the 1950s, but several factors helped. Crime rates for African Americans, though higher than average, were historically low for that community. Drug and alcohol use also were down. The Depression had produced a birth dearth, so the young male population was reduced. And the supercharged economy created a massive and growing middle class in a short period of time; and middle-class people seldom commit crimes of violence. All in all, the 1950s was a golden age of low crime.  
                                                                    He also outlines his arguments as to why culture is the predominate factor for crime rates and why poverty is over emphasized:
                                                                    Different groups of people, insofar as they consider themselves separate from others, share various cultural characteristics: dietary, religious, linguistic, artistic, etc. They also share common beliefs and values. There is nothing terribly controversial about this. If it is mistaken then the entire fields of sociology and anthropology are built on mistaken premises. 



                                                                    With respect to violent crime, scholars are most interested in a group's preference for violence as a way of resolving interpersonal conflict. Some groups, traditionally rural, developed cultures of “honor”—strong sensitivities to personal insult. We see this among white and black southerners in the 19th century, and among southern Italian and Mexican immigrants to the U.S. in the early 20th century. These groups engaged in high levels of assaultive crimes in response to perceived slights, mainly victimizing their own kind. This honor culture explains the high rates of violent crime among African Americans who, living amidst southern whites for over a century, incorporated those values. When blacks migrated north in the 20th century, they transported these rates of violence. Elijah Anderson's book, The Code of the Streets, describes the phenomenon, and Thomas Sowell, in Black Liberals and White Rednecks, helps explain it.


                                                                     
                                                                    In the case of blacks, the big change in terms of violence was the high robbery rates and the concomitantly high white victimization rates of the post-60s era (robbery being a crime against strangers). These were products of the massive postwar spike in black migration to northern cities (800,000 in the 1960s; 1.8 million in the ‘70s); the black baby boom coming of age for violence (late adolescence, early manhood); a youth crime contagion, in which crime became cool and young males copied one another and began mugging with impunity; and the opportunities for victimization presented by whites who moved about northern cities with lots of cash and valuables. 
                                                                    Theories of crime that point to poverty and racism have the advantage of explaining why low-income groups predominate when it comes to violent crime. What they really explain, though, is why more affluent groups refrain from such crime. And the answer is that middle-class people (regardless of race) stand to lose a great deal from such behavior. Wisely, more affluent people go to law and seek other nonviolent methods to resolve interpersonal conflicts. Poor people, and especially young, male poor people, do not. Their perceived stake in the established order is tenuous. 
                                                                     I think the implications for immigration policies is readily apparent.

                                                                    Monday, June 20, 2016

                                                                    Senate Declines to Pass Any of the Proposed Gun Control Amendments

                                                                    ... even those supported by the Republicans.

                                                                    "The Case Against Peace"

                                                                    ... an interesting article at Foreign Policy by Stephen Walt. The basic thesis is that external threats tend to unify a country, while long periods of peace allow domestic divisions to fester and grow. Walt heavily cites a 1996 article by Michael Desch in International Organization entitled “War and Strong States, Peace and Weak States?

                                                                    Walt writes:
                                                                    The result, as Desch foresaw two decades ago, has been growing internal disunity and a weakening of state effectiveness, although the strength of these tendencies varies widely around the world. States that mobilize power through market mechanisms appear to be more robust than those that do so through coercive extraction, and there is also a “ratchet effect” when states go stronger. Because bureaucracies and institutions created at one point in time rarely go out of business as soon as their original rationale disappears, and because modern states do more than just prepare for war, a decline in external threats does not necessarily cause modern states to shrink all the way back to their pre-threat proportions. But as we are now seeing, it can make their internal politics far more divisive. 
                                                                    Taken together, these arguments led Desch to some striking predictions, including:
                                                                    “First, the viability of multiethnic states facing a less challenging external security environment will certainly decrease … [T]hose that survive will have to cope with a much higher level of ethnic separatism and demands for autonomy.
                                                                     
                                                                    “States with deep ethnic, social, or linguistic cleavages facing a more benign threat environment should find it harder to maintain cohesion. Key cases to watch here are Israel (secular versus religious Jews and the Jewish majority versus the Arab minority), multiethnic Arab states such as Syria (Alawites) and Jordan (Palestinians), Afghanistan (various political factions), much of black Africa (tribal), and especially South Africa (Zulus and whites). 
                                                                    “[T]he longer the period of reduced international security competition, the more likely are developed states to be plagued by the rise of narrow sectoral, rather than broad encompassing, interest groups. [The United States is] now witnessing significant challenges to federal authority, a growing consensus on the need to cut spending to balance the federal budget, serious efforts to eliminate cabinet departments and other federal agencies, skepticism about a state-dominated industrial policy, and a Republican-controlled Congress committed to, and so far successful, in its efforts to limit the growth of the American state.” 
                                                                    Sounds about right to me.
                                                                     Walt goes on to explain that threats of terrorism are not only not strong enough to create the necessary unity that a war, or cold war, might create, but may actually aggravate the situation because of fears of terrorists in the midst of the population.

                                                                    One of the implications of Desch's work, however, is that the importation of a different ethnic and linguistic groups will also exacerbate the divisions and make it more difficult to maintain cohesion. There is no happy ending to the shifting demographic makeup of Europe or the United States. As others have said, "there will be war."

                                                                    June 20, 2016 -- A Quick Run Around The Web


                                                                    With delivery trucks under constant attack, the nation’s food is now transported under armed guard. Soldiers stand watch over bakeries. The police fire rubber bullets at desperate mobs storming grocery stores, pharmacies and butcher shops. A 4-year-old girl was shot to death as street gangs fought over food.
                                                                      Venezuela is convulsing from hunger.
                                                                        Hundreds of people here in the city of Cumaná, home to one of the region’s independence heroes, marched on a supermarket in recent days, screaming for food. They forced open a large metal gate and poured inside. They snatched water, flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, potatoes, anything they could find, leaving behind only broken freezers and overturned shelves.
                                                                          And they showed that even in a country with the largest oil reserves in the world, it is possible for people to riot because there is not enough food.
                                                                            In the last two weeks alone, more than 50 food riots, protests and mass looting have erupted around the country. Scores of businesses have been stripped bare or destroyed. At least five people have been killed. 
                                                                            * * *
                                                                              The economic collapse of recent years has left it unable to produce enough food on its own or import what it needs from abroad. Cities have been militarized under an emergency decree from President Nicolás Maduro, the man Mr. Chávez picked to carry on with his revolution before he died three years ago.
                                                                                “If there is no food, there will be more riots,” said Raibelis Henriquez, 19, who waited all day for bread in Cumaná, where at least 22 businesses were attacked in a single day last week.
                                                                                  But while the riots and clashes punctuate the country with alarm, it is the hunger that remains the constant source of unease.
                                                                                    A staggering 87 percent of Venezuelans say they do not have money to buy enough food, the most recent assessment of living standards by Simón Bolívar University found.
                                                                                      About 72 percent of monthly wages are being spent just to buy food, according to the Center for Documentation and Social Analysis, a research group associated with the Venezuelan Teachers Federation.
                                                                                        In April, it found that a family would need the equivalent of 16 minimum-wage salaries to properly feed itself.
                                                                                        The article goes on to mention that Pres. Maduro has put control of food distribution in the hands of loyalists, insinuating that there is favoritism in how food is distributed.
                                                                                        The first thing Ray saw 3D-printed was a small plastic elephant, which, moments previous, was simply a formulation of pixels on a screen. Translating the technique to the prepping lifestyle, he said, was completely intuitive. Whatever he needs, should disaster strike, would be just a few clicks away.
                                                                                          “I can make homemade knives, toys, even tools that don’t exist,” Ray told me. “I can make replacement parts for things that broke. Instead of buying a new drill for $120, I 3D printed some gears. It’s been working for years now.”
                                                                                          • "Hunter, Prepper, Survivor"--American Hunter. The author notes that if you are a hunter, you probably have many of the skills, and much of the equipment, needed to weather a disaster. The author writes:
                                                                                            For the purpose of this discussion let’s assume you are staying home or have a place where you can retreat. So the shelter part is covered. (Bugging out is another topic entirely.)
                                                                                              Store extra gasoline for your vehicles. Even if you elect to stay home you will need the vehicles more often than you might think.
                                                                                                Another big concern will be heat if it’s cold. Many of us who live in cold climates have that covered with a supplementary wood stove. If you can install a wood stove in your house it’s a good idea to do so even if you never use it. It doesn’t need to be expensive. It’s easy to make a stove out of a steel 55-gallon drum. There are kits for this, but a clever craftsman can construct one easily.
                                                                                                  Small propane heaters hunters use in blinds or tents can heat a room, if you follow the directions for safety. The biggest issue will be re-supplying the canisters of fuel. It’s a good idea to keep a few cases of propane canisters in storage.
                                                                                                    Other than shelter, the tenets of survival are the three “B’s”: beans, bullets and bandages. You need food and water (beans); a way to protect what you have and perhaps supplement the food supply (bullets); and medical supplies and knowledge (bandages).
                                                                                                      There are different levels of disaster. I like to think in terms of threes: three days, three weeks, three months, three years. You should have a plan for each of them. There will be overlap, of course.
                                                                                                        Most disasters are over quickly. The lights come back on, the roads are cleared and the stores are stocked again. But you need to be ready in the event that doesn’t happen.
                                                                                                        Anyway, read the whole thing.
                                                                                                        • Related: "Recommended Medicine for Hunters and Preppers"--American Hunter. Categories of medicines as well as specific recommendations within each category from a pharmacist. He provides a lengthy list, but then adds: "If you needed to pare down the list above for a short trip, my 'essentials' would be: Cipro, Bactrim, Flagyl, ibuprofen and Triple Antibiotic, with SSD [Silver sulfadiazine] cream added if there is still room."
                                                                                                        • "He picked the wrong target"--Bayou Renaissance Man. Video of a mugger in Venezuela being shot by an off-duty police officer he had just stolen from. Note how the officer backs away and behind another person standing in line in order to draw his weapon out of view of the perpetrator, before moving back into a position to engage the mugger.
                                                                                                        • "Paramilitary groups ready to defend Poland"--Deutsche Welle. According to the article, Poland is home to 50,000 preppers and 35,000 members of organized paramilitary organizations. Rather than treat them with hostility, as here in the U.S., the Polish government views them as a valuable resource in the event of a Russian invasion.
                                                                                                        • "Meet the 'Black Rifle': An Introduction to the AR-15"--Nathaniel F. at The Firearms Blog.
                                                                                                        • "The NRA convinced America it needs combat rifles for hunting – but now the tide may be turning"--The Telegraph. This article is a perfect example of the duplicity of the left when it comes to gun control. The author first attempts to redefine the Second Amendment by suggesting that its only purpose was to ensure that Americans could defend themselves against an invasion by the British by emphasizing the "militia" preamble. Next, the author attempts to support this position by reference to the 1939 United State v. Miller decision, which upheld a tax and restriction on owning sawed-off shotguns because they were not suitable for military use. (The author does not even mention the much more recent Heller decision). Then the author goes on to use the Miller decision to support an argument that because the AR 15 is suitable for military use, Americans should not be able to possess them--the exact opposite of the reasoning in Miller
                                                                                                        • "DNA research suggests large-scale collapse of Native American ancestors"--Christian Science Monitor. I think I linked to a different article on this topic, but this seems to be a clearer explanation:
                                                                                                          A new ancient DNA study bolsters accounts that European arrival in the Americas decimated indigenous populations. 
                                                                                                            An international team of scientists has sequenced mitochondrial DNA from skeletons and mummies of indigenous Americans ranging from 8,600 to 500 years ago. They compared this new data to the DNA of modern Native American populations and found that the old sequences were mysteriously missing.
                                                                                                              This doesn't mean that all indigenous Americans died off, study lead author Bastien Llamas points out. There still are Native Americans alive today across both continents. But of the 92 archaic individuals that the team looked at, none of their mitochondrial sequences survived to the present day.
                                                                                                               It also emphasizes the fact that you cannot use the current genetic makeup of a population to discount a different genetic makeup in the past.