Friday, September 16, 2016

September 16, 2016 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

Video: "How to be an Atheist (Funny) - Ultra Spiritual Life episode 17 - with JP Sears" Poking fun at the hypocrisy of many atheists.


Guns/Prepping:
  • Related: "Are Those Really Gunshots?"--Active Response Training. Greg Ellifritz discusses how the normalcy bias played out in the San Bernardino shooting, where numerous people who were observing the shooters or heard the shots thought that it was a training exercise even after the shooters had emptied 2 or 3 magazines.
  •  "Magpul Lengthens Hunter Stocks for Remington Long Action"--The Firearm Blog. Magpul has introduced their Hunter 700L stocks which are designed to fit Remington 700 rifles that use a long action.
  • "Concealed Carry or Open Carry? Which Is Better?"--Ammo Land. One of the better discussions I've seen on the subject, discussing the pro's and con's of each. However, in my mind, you are better off carrying concealed for the simple reason, as this author notes, that you can opt out of a fight (whereas, if you carry openly, you will become involved whether you like it or not), and if you do decide to get involved, you can retain the element of surprise.
  • "First-Person Account of Chicago Road Rage Tamed by Mr. GLOCK"--The Truth About Guns. An account of a road rage incident diffused when the author presented his firearm and told the other driver to get back into his car. However, I would note that the author contributed to the incident by being "snarky" while the confrontation was still at its verbal stage. While a natural reaction, the issue for the private citizen is how it might play out before a jury. In this case, the "snarky" comment was relatively benign, but it is too easy to drop into a situation of hurling insults or obscene finger gestures.
  • Evolution in Action: "PSA: Flak Jackets Are Not Bullet Proof"--The Firearm Blog. A teenager had purchased a used flak jacket and he and a friend decided to test whether it was bullet proof, while the teen was wearing it. Needless to say, the teen's genes have been permanently removed from the gene-pool.
  • "The Court after Scalia: The next “conservative” Justice may not save the Second Amendment"--SCOTUS Blog (h/t Woodpile Report). The author writes:
Well before Justice Antonin Scalia’s passing, judges figured out that District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago are optional precedents. For all their powerful content, these decisions have in practice proven meaningless in the face of near-total resistance throughout the federal courts, in combination with the transparent lack of interest at One First Street in defending the Supreme Court’s eponymous position atop the judicial hierarchy. To be sure, some judges seek to apply Heller and McDonald in resolving Second Amendment disputes. But most treat the Supreme Court’s precedent as a hassle to surmount before rubber-stamping any legislative restriction on the right to bear arms. If not today, then very soon, it shouldn’t be too hard for any sufficiently dedicated and creative legislature to effectively ban firearms or just about any firearm-related activity, without worrying much about Heller. Appointing one “conservative” Justice to replace Antonin Scalia won’t improve matters. Indeed, “conservative” judges are part of the problem.
As they say, read the whole thing. As I've noted before, the whole problem with Heller is the 14th Amendment, with the resultant need to apply the Second Amendment to the states in addition to the federal government. If not for that, the Court could have ruled that the Second Amendment forbade any federal laws on gun control with the expectation that the individual states could regulate (or not) as they wished. By applying it to the states, however, the Court could not read the Second Amendment in such absolute terms, requiring the Court to allow some regulation under the nebulous standards which are now being exploited by lower courts to largely circumvent the Second Amendment.
  • "Gun Review: Ruger LCR 9mm"--The Truth About Guns. A guest review of the Ruger LCR snub-nosed revolver, but chambered for 9 mm. The author discusses his experience with the firearm. His decision to get the 9mm chambering was the fact that he could use moon-clips to load the firearm, and that 9mm is less expensive than .38 Special. 
  • "Backcountry Bear Defense: A Practice Drill to Drop a Charging Grizzly"--Outdoor Life. Although this drill is intended for handgun (specifically a revolver, since it involves shooting six targets in succession), I think it is one that you should also practice with your hunting rifle.


Other Stuff:
Lee's next slide shows three columns of numbers from a Princeton University study that tried to measure how race and ethnicity affect admissions by using SAT scores as a benchmark. It uses the term “bonus” to describe how many extra SAT points an applicant's race is worth. She points to the first column.
    African Americans received a “bonus” of 230 points, Lee says.
      She points to the second column.
        “Hispanics received a bonus of 185 points.”
        • "The genetic advantage of the (other) 1 percenters"--Financial Times. I've noted before that one of the most important debates of modern times is whether intelligence is inherited or a product of environment (i.e., nature versus nurture). This article reports on a study which tends to support "nature" over "nurture," at least as to a certain segment of the population. From the article:
          Society has various names for them: the 1 per cent, the outliers, the geniuses, the super-smart and the gifted and talented. They are the kids who impressively outperform their peers in school tests.
            Several “talent-spotting” university programmes in the US have been tracking where high-achieving teenagers end up — and the results challenge the fashionable notion that greatness comes merely through dedication and practice. Instead of the evidence showing that those who succeed are made not born, it suggests the upper tiers of society are stuffed with achievers who were born then made. This points to success as the result of hard work built on a nugget of early cognitive advantage.
              One of the longest-running longitudinal studies of clever children is the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth, initially based at Johns Hopkins University. The 45-year old study, now based at Vanderbilt University, has unearthed about 5,000 individuals who showed an early talent for numerical reasoning and/or verbal reasoning.
                Johns Hopkins also opened a talent programme to young adolescents who scored in the top 1 per cent in university maths and English: its alumni, Nature reports, include mathematician Terence Tao (who reportedly started studying Boolean algebra aged seven), tech stars Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Sergey Brin of Google and the musician Lady Gaga.
                  But this illustrious roll call might simply represent outliers among outliers. How can we gauge more generally whether childhood aptitude is a guide to success? That is the question that Jonathan Wai, a psychologist in the Talent Identification Program at Duke University, set out to answer. He looked at five subsets of the US elite: Fortune 500 chief executives, federal judges, billionaires and members of the Senate and House of Representatives. He discovered that in each group those in the top 1 per cent of ability, ranked by school test scores, were over-represented. Some might have been advantaged by attending leading schools or by tiger parents. Still, Mr Wai argues that environment alone cannot account for the statistics on success; that is why he suggests that experts are “born, then made”.
                  K is rising. Already everybody is building walls – the same walls which they were bent on tearing down as r was ascendant. Soon, they will turn their attentions from stopping outsiders from entering, to purging the outsiders who are already among them. It will happen just as night turns to day. When the worm turns, expect the cowards of the left to shut up, lest they come to be viewed as outsiders as well.
                  • "Is Russia Preparing for War?"--The National Interest. The concern is the large military exercises that the Russian government has been regularly holding, because the exercises provide cover for a build-up forces, and allows the Russians to become more proficient at mobilizing the necessary forces and branches of government. From the article:
                  “Russia may be gearing up and preparing for military action,” Gvosdev said at the Center for the National Interest—which is the Washington-based foreign policy think-tank that publishes The National Interest—on Sept. 13. “That comes on the heels of the latest Russian snap exercise. What we have seen with these snap exercises over the last several years is that they get bigger—more people, more equipment, wider range and increasingly—to borrow a term from American parlance—they’re whole of government exercises.”
                    It is the sheer scale of Russian snap exercises that concern Western governments, Gvosdev said. These enormous Russian exercises typically involve more than 100,000 troops from across the spectrum of military forces. Moreover, a host of Russian government agencies take part in these drills. But while it is easy to dismiss the Russian drills as a simple exercise, such maneuvers inevitably lull outside powers into a false sense of security. “Every time you do an exercise, you gain several benefits,” Gvosdev said. “It makes it harder to differential between what is an exercise and what is in fact a mobilization or preparation for a strike.”
                      Additionally, the more often Russian forces practice such mass mobilizations, the more proficient the Kremlin’s forces become at such large-scale operations. Indeed, Gvosdev said that there is ample evidence to suggest that Russian forces are leaving behind prepositioned stocks in their deployment zones. That would help Russian forces to move into position faster while minimizing the risk detection during an actual operation.
                        Using exercises as a cover for preparations for an actual military operation are not unprecedented. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union’s doctrine called for staging massive military exercises to provide cover for preparations for a strike on NATO forces. Indeed, that was one of the reasons the Soviet leadership mistook the 1983 Able Archer exercise as a prelude to a preemptive NATO attack on the Warsaw Pact. Other examples include the 1973 Yom Kippur War, where Egyptian forces held a series of massive drills to cover for their preparations to cross the Suez Canal. “Holding exercises continually is a way to throw a potential adversary off-guard,” Gvosdev said.
                        • "Arctic sea ice melt has turned the corner"--Watts Up With That. The author reports that although the extent of sea ice in the Arctic was lower than normal this year (although not as low as in 2012), it has already started rebounding toward winter coverage earlier than normal. 
                          A sardonyx gem, thought to have been one of two that were set in gold on each shoulder of the breastplate and deemed to be 'forms of divine communication', was discovered in South Africa.
                            The owner claims the stone was given to a distant ancestor as a reward from the High Priest in 1189 and has been passed from generation to generation of the family since. 
                            "And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron’s heart, when he goeth in before the Lord ...". Exodus 28:30.

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