Wednesday, August 24, 2016

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

Source: "The abandoned fortified town of Ait-Ben-Haddou in Morocco"--Deserted Places. More information about the site, and more photographs, at the link.
China and the Far East:
  • If you thought our government's chicanery with unemployment statistics was bad, check out China's: "China Is Grappling With Hidden Unemployment"--Bloomberg. Actual unemployment and underemployment may be 13.2%. Officially, unemployment is at 4.1%, but this figure is misleading because, to be counted as unemployed, workers have to register in the province in which they officially reside, which means that workers that moved to the cities from other regions are not included. Also, the article notes that many companies, rather than lay their workers off, are simply idling them--not laying them off, but not having them work, either.
  • "China's Best Bank Called 'Mirage' of Shadow Lending"--Bloomberg. From the article:
The best-performing bank in China is in a struggling city in the northeast where weeds sprout alongside the concrete skeletons of high rises in an industrial zone that mostly looks like a ghost town.
    Steel plants have laid off tens of thousands of workers. Cranes stand idle on construction sites. Wipe away a spiderweb on a dirty glass door at an empty complex with smashed windows and there’s a notice from the local government demanding rent unpaid since November 2014.
      Yet the Bank of Tangshan’s financial statements hardly reflect these realities. Instead, this small lender reports the fastest growth of 156 Chinese financial institutions and the lowest level of bad loans, a mere 0.06 percent. Its profit jumped 436 percent in two years and assets soared almost 400 percent since the start of 2014 to 177.9 billion yuan ($26.7 billion).
        It’s largely driven by shadow lending. The bank is the most prominent example of the off-loan-book wizardry that’s turbo-charging some of China’s small and mid-sized banks, creating opaque risks that could lead to failures, bailouts or liquidity shocks that jolt the nation and global markets in the years ahead.
        •  "Ten Minutes To Tokyo"--Richard Fernandez at PJ Media. Fernandez discusses two recent arms developments: the upgrading of low-yield, highly accurate tactical nuclear weapons, and North Korea's successful launch of a short-range ballistic missile from a submarine. He goes on to argue that faced with a possible nuclear attack by North Korea, the temptation will be strong to resort to nuclear weapons to destroy such a submarine. I would add, too, China's threats to use force against Japan over disputed islands. (Warning: video plays automatically). The Chinese are fortifying certain islands and building airstrips to essentially have fixed "aircraft carriers." What easier way to eliminate the threat than to use a tactical nuke on such facilities. In short, the Far East is on a short fuse to nuclear conflict.

        Firearms and Self-Defense
        • "The terrifying moment a woman bystander is caught in the crossfire of terrifying machine gun shootout at Atlanta gas station"--Daily Mail. Another example of don't do stupid things, with stupid people, in stupid places. This rule is disjunctive, not conjunctive. The woman was a passenger in a vehicle driven by one black gang member, who apparently stopped to gas up. The black gang member driver then got into a confrontation with another black gang member, resulting in an exchange of gun fire. During the gun fire around and through the car, the passenger was struck by one of the bullets.
        • "Guatemalan Gangs Are Now Crafting Remote-Detonated Bombs"--War Is Boring. The author relates that "[g]angs such as the Barrio 18 and their rivals in the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) systematically extort buses. It is one of their few regular sources of income, and when payment does not arrive on time, there are repercussions, normally in the form of a dead bus driver." In this case, however, the lack of payment was followed up with a remotely detonated bomb on the bus.
        • "Lightning Review: Midwest Industries Gen2 AK Handguard"--The Firearms Blog. Looks interesting. If I hadn't already invested in Magpul's MOE system, it would be tempting....
        • "Review: ReCover Tactical 1911 Grips"--The Firearms Blog. This is a review of a couple products from ReCover: a basic replacement of the grip panels, and then the replacement that incorporates an accessory rail ahead of the trigger guard. I have one of the original ReCover grip replacements for the 1911, and thought it was pretty good. The only reason I took it off was because I'd read that the original GI grip panels can shrink if they are not mounted. I don't know if that is correct or not, but I didn't want to take the chance.
        • "Changing Your Carry Gun"--The Firearms Blog. Video and transcript. Alex C. offers some thoughts on issues you should consider when getting your first carry gun, or switching to a new one, including testing the reliability of the gun, and having a proper holster/carry system. I'm in that process right now with the R51 I purchased, so I'm still mostly using my older carry gun until I get the issues of holsters squared away to my liking.
        • "Alaska Outfitter Defends Fishermen from Raging Grizzly with 9mm Pistol"--American Hunter. A compact pistol, at that. However, he wasn't using standard 9 mm defensive loads. Instead, he was using Buffalo Bore 9mm +P Outdoorsman 147-grain FN hard-cast loads.
        • "Telluric Training Drill of the Day – I See Dead People"--Jerking The Trigger. A drill where you practice/test your ability to engage two targets simultaneously by alternating shots between the targets. Telluric has other drills for your enjoyment at their "Drills of the Day" page.
        • "Why Should I Care About Ham Radio?"--Home Defense Gun. The author points out:
        We often think about home defense in terms of guns, bullets, and fighting but the probability of actually being in a firefight in your home is incredibly remote. What is far more likely, to the point of being almost certain, is that there will be power outages, storms, maybe even an extended period without services. It is not at all uncommon for the power to go out for a few days at a time in some areas.

        The Religion of Peace Strikes Again:

        Other Stuff:
        • "We Have Been Warned"--Rod Dreher at The American Conservative. Citing a column written by David Gushee and another at the New York Times, Dreher warns that if you are a Christian who does not welcome LGBTs and/or their "lifestyle" with open arms, you should expect to be the target of increasing levels of persecution. He quotes the following from Gushee:
        It turns out that you are either for full and unequivocal social and legal equality for LGBT people, or you are against it, and your answer will at some point be revealed. This is true both for individuals and for institutions.
          Neutrality is not an option. Neither is polite half-acceptance. Nor is avoiding the subject. Hide as you might, the issue will come and find you.
          Dreher goes on to cite further points from Gushee that social liberals have won the cultural wars, and that tolerance for religious exemptions is declining. Dreher observes:
          He is absolutely right in his read on the situation in American society. There is no intention on the cultural left of being tolerant in victory, and never was. They are going to bounce the rubble and tell themselves that they are virtuous for doing so. This past week, I saw a Facebook comment in which a liberal said that Livingston Parish, where nearly everyone lost their home to the flood, was once the headquarters of the Louisiana KKK, so to hell with them, they deserve what they get. This is how it’s going to be with us.
          It is the use of force to compel participation in an LGBT lifestyle that led to the destruction of Sodom. We are warned that the last days--our time--would be like the days of Noah and Lot. We know how both of those turned out: cataclysmic destruction. The Anonymous Conservative discusses at length how we are heading for what he terms the K-shift: a violent collapse of our r-selected society followed by a resurgent shift to a conservative K-select culture. But what is coming is not an ordinary collapse and K-shift such as followed on the decline and fall of Egypt to foreign rulers, or the subsequent fall of classical Greece to a more masculine Rome, or Rome's decline and fall to barbarians. This will be a super-K shift; one backed by divine wrath. But before that time, we will face dark times that will try our faith and our souls.
          Where I disagree with Dreher is his suggestion that Christians can somehow escape this by adopting what he calls the "Benedict option"--building and strengthening ties between members of a congregation and between congregations and different Christian sects to build a semi-hidden community of believers. It will not be sufficient. In The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia--and How It Died by Philip Jenkins, Jenkins described how Christian communities in the Near and Middle-East survived for centuries by using similar tactics to that described by Dreher, but that these tactics have failed during the past 100 years. In the First Millennium A.D., Christianity was the dominant religion in the Near and Middle-East; and, in fact, the center of Christian thought was in the Middle-East. But after coming under Muslim rule, there were purges and pogroms that greatly diminished the number of Christians over the following several centuries. However, until the past century, large numbers of Christians still survived throughout the Near and Middle East. They survived primarily because of isolation and poor communications. However, these Christian communities are nearly extinct now in their native lands because they are no longer isolated, they can't hide. How much more easily will authorities in industrialized countries be able to identify, isolate and destroy Christian holdouts today? There is no reason to expect that Christians in America will fare any better than Christians in Iraq. Rather, I suspect our shelter will of necessity be a Christian "homeland." The tares and the wheat are to be separately gathered, one to salvation and the other to destruction, and why not a physical separation and gathering?
          The warning signs have been there for some time now – persistent failures of the wheat crop in Norway for example. The North Atlantic is cooling. The cooling trend was evident at the time of an expedition to investigate this phenonemon three years ago. The rate of cooling has now steepened up since then based on the latest data collated by Professor Humlum of the University of Oslo.
          The author suggests that the cooling correlates with reduced sun activity, which is extremely worrisome since there will likely be a large decline in solar output in the late 2020's and 2030's.

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