Friday, June 22, 2018

The Face of Evil

Rather ordinary looking:

Source: "This is the FBI agent who worked on Hillary Clinton probe, labeled Trump supporters 'retarded' and texted 'f**k Trump' to her colleague lover - seen for the first time since her identity was revealed after release of IG report"--Daily Mail.

June 22, 2018 -- A Quick Run Around The Web

"Concealed carry: .380 ACP ammo selection"--Paul Harrell (14 min.)
Watch the whole thing, but I will note that he had better performance from the 3-3/4 inch barrel over a 3 inch barrel; and the Federal HST gave the best performance on Harrell's infamous meat target.

  • TGIF: Active Response Training's Weekend Knowledge Dump for this week--check it out! Lots of good articles, as always, but one in particular I want to mention is that he links to an article at Recoil Magazine called "Keep Your Head In A Fight" which I, by chance, happened to read yesterday evening. The article discusses medical aspects of shots to the head. The thing to remember is that medical care has improved so that head wounds damaging the brain that would have been considered automatically fatal even just a few years ago can, in fact, be survivable. However, don't apply pressure to such wounds to try and stem bleeding as that may put pressure on the brain and actually make things worse. One doctor cited in the article indicated that the best fluid for gun shot wounds to the brain was diesel--as in, get them to a trauma unit as fast as possible.
  • "THE TRUTH ABOUT THE DOUBLE ACTION PISTOL"--Gabe Suarez Blog. In this article, Suarez discusses the advantages of the DA/SA semi-automatic pistol. For those of you that became students of the gun in the 1980's and early 1990's, you probably trained with and/or owned a double-action/single-action pistol because those were the dominant and most popular designs at the time. Although I grew up shooting a single action semi-auto of my dad's, my first semi-auto handgun was a DA/SA ... as was my second, third, and fourth. Over the years, I replaced those with striker fired single-action handguns, but lately decided to go back to a DA/SA for concealed carry for a couple reasons (my "night stand" weapon will still be a Glock). First is safety: the longer, heavier trigger pull of the double-action mode is, just as with a revolver, a safety device protecting you from a discharge due to a startle response or similar (yes, I know that you should keep your fingers off the trigger, but I have also seen research that a majority of police officers, for instance, will unconsciously move their finger to the trigger if they believe that they may be coming to a situation where shooting may be required). And there is added safety with holstering the weapon and under other circumstances. Suarez specifically mentions, for instance, if you should need to carry the weapon sans holster, such as in a pocket or stuffed in a waist band. But you also get the advantage of single-action if you need it. My guess is that we will see a drift back to DA/SA pistols, especially when people start realizing the benefit to such weapons when carrying appendix carry. Anyway, read his article. I think he raises good points.
  • And another from Gabe Suarez: "THE TRUTH ABOUT THE LEVER ACTION RIFLE." Anyone following gun blogs regularly, or even the gun magazines, will notice an increased interest in level action guns both in response to a number of states banning so-called "assault weapons," and an increased interest in pistol caliber carbines. Suarez for many years, while an officer with the LAPD, describes how he suddenly saw the need for an effective "trunk gun" after the Rodney King riots, and started using a .30-30 lever action with a barrel cut back to 16 inches and some modification to the sights (which he later realized weren't really needed). The one thing that I would recommend different from Suarez is his selection of caliber: he recommends .30-30, but also notes that rifle will most likely be used at 100 yards or less. At that range, .44 Magnum will be just as effective as the .30-30, but you will have a greater magazine capacity. Also, going to a large caliber pistol caliber allows you to use the Winchester 92 action, such as Rossi's Model 92, which come standard in 16-inch barrel lengths (although longer barrels are available) and is available in various calibers, including.357 Mag./.38 Special, .44 Magnum/.44 Special, .and .454 Casull/.45 Colt, or just 45 Colt. If you decide to go that route, Steve's Gunz is the place to go for parts for the Rossi 92, and he even can work on your action to smooth it up. He also sells mounts so you can attach a red dot to your carbine.
  • "Mexico City: Human remains with narcomanta found on Insurgentes Norte"--Borderland Beat. The article reports that "[i]n an unprecedented event for Mexico City, on Sunday morning the remains of at least two people were scattered on Insurgentes Norte Avenue, at the intersection of Ricardo Flores Magón, in the Nonoalco Tlatelolco neighborhood."
  • If you think that can't happen here in the U.S.: "Man killed two women in Miami, dumped bodies on street, police say"--Miami Herald. The suspect, Juan Carlos Hernandez-Caseres, is an illegal alien from Honduras. 
  • "PROHIBITIONISM WORKS/NEVER WORKS: Fighting a civil war of values"--Front Page Magazine. Daniel Greenfield writes about the Left's attempts to impose its morality on the rest of the country, and observes that its success in certain areas was relatively easy because it was dismantling social sanctions (e.g., drugs, gay marriage, etc.), but has been unable to win as to gun control because it is much harder to impose social sanctions. He also notes:
           Political divisions can be endured, but sustaining moral divisions in a single country requires an even greater compromise. And the left is not about to accept the same moral libertarianism that it had demanded throughout the twentieth century. It is convinced that it won. And winners don’t compromise. They take everything.
             But the left didn’t actually win. It just wrecked the house. It didn’t unite the country under its values. Instead its social catastrophes are destroying the very idea of values around the country and the world.
               It reminds me of the Cold War when the most “convinced” communists were not idealists or even revolutionaries, but cowards.  They “knew” the Soviet Union would win and had preemptively donned the uniform of the would-be winners in the hopes they’d be eaten last.
                Apparently, the diversity warriors are in the same boat.  Having convinced themselves that the world is overwhelmingly “other” and that they are therefore on the losing side, they’ve gone on the attack, hoping to show the new overlords that they’re useful and should be killed last.
                 And for this we’re going through contortions, discarding the principle of meritocracy, and endangering civilization and prosperity for everyone.
                    It’s not altruism. It's not caring for the oppressed (most of whom don’t consider themselves so.)  It’s not even trying to be fair.
                      These people are scared.
                       It is their fear that leads them to run around advocating for destroying the only civilization in which cowards like them could survive.

                  Thursday, June 21, 2018

                  For My LDS Readers: No Apology for the Priesthood Ban

                       I've been reluctant to write this post, but I think it is time something needs to be said. As you know, the Church recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of the 1978 revelation on the priesthood that permitted black males to receive the priesthood, and all black members to enter the temple and receive the temple ordinances. I don't know what makes this anniversary so special, but there has been a lot of attention over the last year or so on Church's prior ban on blacks and the priesthood; and part of that has been calls for the Church to officially apologize. Apparently the Church, and even God, are now required to bow to the false god of victim-hood.

                         The actual title of the 1978 revelation was Official Declaration 2, and it stated:
                          As we have witnessed the expansion of the work of the Lord over the earth, we have been grateful that people of many nations have responded to the message of the restored gospel, and have joined the Church in ever-increasing numbers. This, in turn, has inspired us with a desire to extend to every worthy member of the Church all of the privileges and blessings which the gospel affords. 
                         Aware of the promises made by the prophets and presidents of the Church who have preceded us that at some time, in God’s eternal plan, all of our brethren who are worthy may receive the priesthood, and witnessing the faithfulness of those from whom the priesthood has been withheld, we have pleaded long and earnestly in behalf of these, our faithful brethren, spending many hours in the Upper Room of the Temple supplicating the Lord for divine guidance. 
                          He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood, with power to exercise its divine authority, and enjoy with his loved ones every blessing that flows therefrom, including the blessings of the temple. Accordingly, all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color. Priesthood leaders are instructed to follow the policy of carefully interviewing all candidates for ordination to either the Aaronic or the Melchizedek Priesthood to insure that they meet the established standards for worthiness. 
                         We declare with soberness that the Lord has now made known his will for the blessing of all his children throughout the earth who will hearken to the voice of his authorized servants, and prepare themselves to receive every blessing of the gospel.
                  The Church authorities have made a concerted effort this year to celebrate the lifting of the ban, rolling out the "Be One" campaign which is both a celebration of the lifting of the ban and explores the history of blacks in the Church. The Church authorities have also bent over backward to show that the Church is open and welcoming of black members (see, e.g., this article on "Blacks and the Priesthood"). And President Nelson has instructed us to "build bridges of cooperation instead of walls of segregation."

                  Some Are Unsatisfied With The Lifting Of The Ban

                         But building "bridges of cooperation" doesn't seem to be enough for some. Some want the Church to acknowledge that it was "wrong" for all those years that the ban was in effect. (See also here and here). And, as The Salt Lake Tribune reported earlier this year, some black members are unsatisfied by the celebration and want the Church to apologize.
                         “A lot of members are waiting for the church just to say, ‘We were wrong,’” said Phylicia Norris-Jimenez, a 30-year-old black Mormon and member of the grass-roots Black LDS Legacy Committee, group of women who are organizing a conference Saturday in Utah to honor the legacy of black Mormon pioneers. 
                         Norris-Jimenez said nonblack Latter-day Saints still struggle with how to talk about the ban or understand the pain it causes. She said the anniversary celebration honors something that should have never existed but that it’s a good gesture and hopefully leads to more discussions about race.
                  The same article quotes LaShawn Williams, an assistant professor of social work at the Utah Valley University, as saying she would like an apology.
                         Mormons probably shouldn’t wait for a rare apology from church leaders, said W. Paul Reeve, a Mormon studies professor at the University of Utah. The church seems to be trying to walk a tight rope by disavowing past beliefs while not apologizing for the ban to avoid members questioning other doctrine they think should be changed, he said. 
                          “What else are they wrong about? Are they wrong about gay marriage? Are they wrong about female ordination?” Reeve said. “If they got race and the priesthood wrong, what else could they be wrong about? I think that’s part of the fear.”
                         Of course, those calling for an "apology" should consider a different possibility. What if the ban was "right"--that is, an actual commandment from God through His earthly prophets? Then a call for an "apology" is actually a call for God to apologize, which is blasphemy!

                  The Ban Was Not Unprecedented

                          Those that claim that the ban was "wrong"--i.e., not inspired or commanded of God--base their arguments on the premise that a loving God would not choose to pour out his blessings on all his children. But, in fact, examining the scriptures show that such bans or limitations have actually been the norm. The Lord has often worked only through a certain people or elite group.

                         We see this as early as Genesis 6, where the "Sons of God" marrying of any they choose of the daughters of men is considered wickedness. (Gen. 6:1-3). Similarly, the Lord also condemned the intermixing when the daughters of Noah married outsiders. (Moses 8:14-15).

                         At the time of Abraham, the gospel apparently was open to all mankind, so we see Abraham going to give tithes to Melchizedek, the king of Salem who was also a priest for the Lord, and received from him the sacrament of bread and wine. (Gen. 14:18-20). Yet God later chose the descendants of Israel for His special favor. And after the exodus from Egypt, Israel became His chosen people; yet, even among these, service in the temple was restricted to the tribe of Levi, and the priesthood was restricted to the descendants of Aaron. After the return of the Jews from Babylon to rebuild the temple, the Lord prohibited those that were not of pure Levitical descent (either through intermarriage, or that simply couldn't prove their lineage was pure) from participating in rebuilding the temple.

                         Fast-forwarding to the time of Christ, where Christ expressly indicated that his mission was only unto the Jews. (See Matt. 15:24). In that chapter, we read:
                         And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 
                         But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 
                         But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 
                         Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
                         But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.
                          And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.
                         Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
                  (Matt. 15:22-28). It was not until some time after Christ's ministry that Peter was finally instructed to take the gospel to the Gentiles. (Acts 10).

                         The point isn't when we are called to work for the Lord or receive our reward, but that no matter when we are called, if we work with diligence, we will receive our reward. This is clearly set out in the Parable of the Laborers in Chapter 20 of Matthew:
                          For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.

                          And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

                           And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,

                          And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.

                         Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.

                         And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?

                         They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.

                         So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.

                         And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.

                         But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.

                         And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,

                         Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.

                         But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?

                         Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.

                         Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?

                        So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
                  (Matt. 20:1-16). If the Jews were those called in the morning, and Gentiles were those called at noon, and blacks are those called at the eleventh hour, what is the matter? The Lord will reward all his faithful laborers alike.

                  Church Authorities Have Made Things Worse By Not Forcefully Responding To Critics

                          Unfortunately, in an effort to appease the easily offended, the Church authorities have attempted to downplay the whole matter, without stating that the ban was "wrong," by acknowledging that "[e]arly in its history, Church leaders stopped conferring the priesthood on black males of African descent," but claiming that "Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice." In his comments at the "Be One" celebration, Elder Oaks similarly related:
                  I observed the pain and frustration experienced by those who suffered these restrictions and those who criticized them and sought for reasons. I studied the reasons then being given and could not feel confirmation of the truth of any of them. As part of my prayerful study, I learned that, in general, the Lord rarely gives reasons for the commandments and directions He gives to His servants. I determined to be loyal to our prophetic leaders and to pray—as promised from the beginning of these restrictions—that the day would come when all would enjoy the blessings of priesthood and temple.
                  The Church authorities have also stated that "[t]he origins of priesthood availability are not entirely clear."

                          The problem, however, is that the origin of the ban and the reasons therefore are actually fairly well documented, and, therefore, statements suggesting otherwise come across as disingenuous and merely provide fodder for the enemies of the Church. (See also here and here). For instance, on October 9, 1859, Brigham Young taught:
                  "You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind. The first man that committed the odious crime of killing one of his brethren will be cursed the longest of any one of the children of Adam. Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin. Trace mankind down to after the flood, and then another curse is pronounced upon the same race-that they should be the "servant of servants;" and they will be, until that curse is removed; and the Abolitionists cannot help it, nor in the least alter that decree. How long is that race to endure the dreadful curse that is upon them? That curse will remain upon them, and they never can hold the Priesthood or share in it until all the other descendants of Adam have received the promises and enjoyed the blessings of the Priesthood and the keys thereof. Until the last ones of the residue of Adam's children are brought up to that favorable position, the children of Cain cannot receive the first ordinances of the Priesthood. They were the first that were cursed, and they will be the last from whom the curse will be removed. When the residue of the family of Adam come up and receive their blessings, then the curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will receive blessings in like proportion."
                  In 1949, the First Presidency issued a statement on blacks and the priesthood:
                          The attitude of the Church with reference to Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time. The prophets of the Lord have made several statements as to the operation of the principle. President Brigham Young said: "Why are so many of the inhabitants of the earth cursed with a skin of blackness? It comes in consequence of their fathers rejecting the power of the holy priesthood, and the law of God. They will go down to death. And when all the rest of the children have received their blessings in the holy priesthood, then that curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will then come up and possess the priesthood, and receive all the blessings which we now are entitled to." 
                           President Wilford Woodruff made the following statement: "The day will come when all that race will be redeemed and possess all the blessings which we now have." 
                           The position of the Church regarding the Negro may be understood when another doctrine of the Church is kept in mind, namely, that the conduct of spirits in the pre-mortal existence has some determining effect upon the conditions and circumstances under which these spirits take on mortality and that while the details of this principle have not been made known, the mortality is a privilege that is given to those who maintain their first estate; and that the worth of the privilege is so great that spirits are willing to come to earth and take on bodies no matter what the handicap may be as to the kind of bodies they are to secure; and that among the handicaps, failure of the right to enjoy in mortality the blessings of the priesthood is a handicap which spirits are willing to assume in order that they might come to earth. Under this principle there is no injustice whatsoever involved in this deprivation as to the holding of the priesthood by the Negroes.
                  Another 1969 statement from the First Presidency read:
                          From the beginning of this dispensation, Joseph Smith and all succeeding presidents of the Church have taught that Negroes, while spirit children of a common Father, and the progeny of our earthly parents Adam and Eve, were not yet to receive the priesthood, for reasons which we believe are known to God, but which He has not made fully known to man." 
                         "Our living prophet, President David O. McKay, has said, "The seeming discrimination by the Church toward the Negro is not something which originated with man; but goes back into the beginning with God...."Revelation assures us that this plan antedates man's mortal existence, extending back to man's pre-existent state." President McKay has also said, "Sometime in God's eternal plan, the Negro will be given the right to hold the priesthood."
                  The Lifting Of The Ban Was A Sign Of The Times--A Milestone In The Setting Up Of The Kingdom Of The Lord On The Earth

                         One of the points to be drawn from these statements is that, just as it was Church doctrine that the ban be put into place, it was also understood that the ban would eventually be lifted when, as Brigham Young stated, "all the rest of the children have received their blessings in the holy priesthood, then that curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will then come up and possess the priesthood, and receive all the blessings which we now are entitled to." Thus, as I read it, the lifting of the ban should be taken as one of the signs of times. This is supported by the very text of Official Declaration 2 which reads, in the relevant part: "He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood ..." (underlined added). Consequently, the lifting of the ban marked a significant milestone toward the preaching of the gospel around the world. By suggesting that the ban was a "mistake" or "wrong," the critics are missing and submerging an important truth being revealed by the ban and a fulfillment of prophecy regarding the establishment of the Lord's kingdom in these latter-days.

                  The Ban Was Probably Necessary.

                         I would suggest that the ban served a useful purpose in the early days of the Church, even without considering the disproportionate crime, sexual promiscuity, and other issues within the African American and Sub-Saharan African communities. There has been considerable research showing that ethnic diversity leads to lower social trust and cooperation. For instance, in 2007, Robert D. Putnam published a paper in which he concluded that:
                  In the short run, however, immigration and ethnic diversity tend to reduce social solidarity and social capital. New evidence from the US suggests that in ethnically diverse neighbourhoods residents of all races tend to ‘hunker down’. Trust (even of one's own race) is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friends fewer.
                  James Laurence conducted a longitudinal study and found that people who stay in a community that become more ethnically diverse over time invest less social capital into the community.  Another paper found that "all-white [church] congregations become less charitably active as the share of black residents in the local community grows." And yet another paper found that "a small minority group will adopt majority cultural practices and integrate. In contrast, minority groups above a certain critical mass, may retain diverse practices and may also segregate from the majority."

                          In short, "genetic diversity may have an adverse effect on the prevalence of mutual trust and cooperation, and excessive diversity can therefore depress the level of social capital below a threshold that otherwise subdues the emergence of social, political, and economic grievances and prevents the culmination of such grievances to violent hostilities." In fact, racial integration and social cohesion may be impossible.

                          Now, look at the situation faced by the young LDS Church. The greater number of the members were located in small, frontier settlements in the Mountain West region, particularly Utah, eastern Idaho, and Arizona. These were small communities that relied on cooperation and unity to survive. The Church, overall, also needed cooperation and unity to survive, particularly in the face of a hostile government. Of course, we cannot know if, without the ban, there would have been a large number of blacks that would seek to join the Church, but it can't be ruled out. So, we have small frontier communities exposed to an influx a new members of a different race, and we know racial diversity decreases trust and social cohesion. It could have destroyed or severely weakened the Church in its younger state.

                  What If The Church Apologizes?

                         The Church authorities have indicated in statements that "[t]he origins of priesthood availability are not entirely clear. Some explanations with respect to this matter were made in the absence of direct revelation and references to these explanations are sometimes cited in publications. These previous personal statements do not represent Church doctrine."

                        The more recent statements from the Church authorities come out very strongly against any attempt to understand why the ban was implemented, and, given the trend, I would not be surprised if Church leaders eventually did repudiate the ban in its entirety and declare it a "mistake" or "wrong."

                       And that would create a serious conundrum for the Church and its members. As pointed out in the Salt Lake Tribune article cited to near the beginning of this post:
                         “What else are they wrong about? Are they wrong about gay marriage? Are they wrong about female ordination?” Reeve said. “If they got race and the priesthood wrong, what else could they be wrong about? I think that’s part of the fear.”
                  But it goes beyond that. As I've noted above, the difficulty is that some of the statements concerning the reasons for the ban were not "personal," but part of official statements from the First Presidency. So, in the event of an apology, members would be left with the quandary of discerning which official statements are correct. Perhaps a statement apologizing for the priesthood ban would, itself, be mistaken or wrong, or perhaps the lifting of the ban in 1978 was "wrong"? You can see the potential for mischief if the Church issues an apology.

                  Concluding Thoughts

                         I think that the Church, black members, and detractors are making much ado about nothing. There was a ban, but now there isn't. Such bans or restrictions are not unprecedented, but appear to have been the Lord's modus operandi during the majority of his dealings with the people of the Earth. But now black members are able to participate in the temple ceremonies and ordinances, including doing work for their ancestors--even those ancestors that were prohibited from the temple during the time the ban was in place. At the end of the day, they will be receiving the same wage for their faith. Finally, given the circumstances of the Church during the 19th and much of the 20th Centuries, the ban was necessary to preserve the Church against division and schism.

                  June 21, 2018 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

                  China's rapid growth over the last few decades is largely the result of offshoring of manufacturing and China's theft of intellectual property, including high technology. China as in place a policy designed to give China the lead in several important hi-tech fields by 2025. The first salvo of tariffs that have been imposed is designed to disrupt China's plans by discouraging companies from manufacturing certain hi-tech items in China, and will remain in effect until China makes reforms so that American companies don't have to give up intellectual property to Chinese "partners." Although China has responded with tariffs against certain American products--mostly agricultural--China has limited options because it just doesn't import that much from the United States. China could be severely hurt by a trade war with the United States, while the United States might hardly notice it.

                  • "Do You Need a Muzzle Stand-Off Device?"--Active Response Training. Greg Ellifritz discusses the perceived benefits of such devices (they prevent your pistol from going out of battery if pressed against something), but also takes the position that such devices will probably lead to poor training and execution of pistol techniques; you are much better to shoot from a good retention position. The only purpose I see for such a device would be if you were literally pressed up against an attacker and couldn't create space, such as in a crowd or as part of a ground-fighting. But that is such a rare occurrence in private self-defense.
                  • "Q May Be About To Begin"--Anonymous Conservative. A discussion of some of the most recent posts by Q-Anon. "WWG1WGA" Better learn what it means because I think we will be seeing more of it.
                  • "The core flaw in the IG Report is its pretense that bias is meaningless"--Bookworm Room. He writes:
                         Horowitz blandly dismisses any FBI actual wrongdoing affecting the outcome of the Hillary investigation, but lays out facts that ought to send all of the FBI’s upper management for 100 years. The only exception to that bland dismissal on those ugly facts is . . . Comey. There’s irony for you.
                           Thus, the IG Report fails for the same reason that the Comey report did, which is that there’s a gaping chasm between facts and conclusion. Only the media and Democrat party operatives (but I repeat myself) could look at that chasm and pronounce that it’s nothing more than a tiny hole in a smooth, coherent narrative.
                      He adds:
                        I applaud Horowitz for honestly reporting the facts; I consider him a coward and a failure for refusing to reach the obvious conclusion to be derived from those facts: the Clinton investigation was completely, irreparably, and possibly criminally compromised by agents whose biases went to the heart of the case.
                          Clint has a simple and easy way of remembering how to orient your hand when reloading an AR-15: “Point your thumb at Jesus.” Clint goes on to explain that “God designed your hand as a cup. Not a beat on the side of the gun device.” He then solidifies the point home with “Quit f*cking with God & Eugene.”
                                    As the saying goes, it takes a good man with a gun to take out a bad man with a gun. Even the very best police departments take minutes to respond to a crime scene, so in case after case, legally armed citizens have defended themselves and others in those precious minutes against an armed criminal.
                                     But this thinking is lost on those who continue to believe that guns, and not the criminals and mentally unstable people who wield them, are the cause of all of our violent incidents. The knee-jerk reaction to every criminal shooting is a call to control or ban firearms,
                                       And yet, as we have seen in incidents around the world, criminals, madmen and terrorists use the means at hand, rather than a firearm, to commit acts of violence. A British comedian in his car with his 10-year-old son was attacked by a gang of thieves armed with hammers who stole his Rolex watch.
                                         This past April a man in Toronto used his van to murder 10 people and injury 14. Earlier this month, a man inspired by ISIS used a knife to kill one person and injure seven others in a vicious street attack in Paris. Someone obsessed with committing murder, mass or otherwise, clearly does need a firearm to do so when various edged weapons, poison, explosives, arson and other choices are readily available.
                                    He then goes on to describe incidents that illustrate the failure of gun control at stopping crime in the UK.
                                    • Related: "7 Truths Liberals Will Never Acknowledge About Illegal Immigration"--PJ Media. They are: 1. Any sort of legalization or amnesty encourages more illegal aliens to come here; 2. A wall would make a major difference; 3. Illegal aliens hurt the poorest American workers; 4. Illegal immigration is almost entirely about votes for liberals; 5. There are no jobs “Americans won’t do"; 6. The crime committed by illegal aliens is a big problem; and 7. If you’re not willing to deport people today, you won’t be willing to deport them tomorrow.
                                    New rules would punish illegal aliens who entered the United States using a nonimmigrant visa, meaning a temporary visitor’s visa, and violated its terms with forbidden activities or overstaying the period of admission. The bill also created expedited removal, meaning immediate deportation without a hearing in the immigration courts.
                                    Enter Paul Virtue who issued a memorandum to be followed by federal immigration officials and prosecutors that decided that misuse of a temporary visa wasn't actually misuse until it was adjudicated to be so by setting up a false dichotomy between "violating status" and "being unlawfully present in the United States." 
                                    • As Glenn Reynolds like to say: "Go woke, go broke": "Future ‘A Star Wars Story’ Spinoffs on Hold at Lucasfilm"--Collider. The abysmal performance of  "Solo: A Star Wars Story" has made Disney/Lucas Film reconsider future films. Those will now be on hold while the studio focuses on the next film in the current trilogy.
                                    • "Too little, too late"--Vox Popoli. He reports that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned two prior cases holding that on-line retailers do not need to collect sales tax unless they had a physical presence in that particular state. Under the new ruling, retailers will be required to collect sales tax. This is going to be messy, because one of the arguments against collecting said taxes is that there is such a multitude of taxes, it is difficult, if not impossible, for anyone to calculate those taxes and to whom they would be owed. The result of this ruling will probably be to drive many small sellers out of business unless their sales are processed by what will be a small number of companies that will calculate and collect the tax on their behalf. In other words, it is going to drive more sellers to have to go through Amazon or similar, and probably knock the smallest sellers out of business.

                                    Wednesday, June 20, 2018

                                    June 20, 2018 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

                                    She discusses how, what with Trump having been elected and the economy seemingly improving, a lot of people have become complacent over the last year.

                                    • Grant Cunningham has another Hump Day Reading List. He has some comments in regard to one article that I especially want to emphasize. You may remember the event: a man apparently rushed to a convenience store in which the customers were locked, while an armed crazy man was outside. Police had also been called, but the man in question arrived first. When the police arrived, they shot the man. Cunningham observes: "you are not the police; your gun doesn’t give you magic powers, nor can the police tell you’re a good guy when you’re doing an excellent impersonation of a bad guy. When you have a gun in your hands, you need to think more — not less."
                                    • "Just Out For a Jog…"--Thin Blue Florida. This article also discusses the need to think more and not rush to conclusions. The author, a police officer, was out jogging one morning when he saw a man, in regular street attire, suddenly race away from an open garage and down the street. Thinking this was suspicious, the author followed, and saw the man seemingly hiding in some bushes. The author closed in ....
                                    Inside 25 yards now. Whaa? A Great Dane? The man was scolding a partially-obscured dog in the hedgerow. Suddenly, the dog broke away and scooted east. The man gave chase shouting for it to return. Ahhh, a loose dog. Oh, a loose dog. Head down, I nonchalantly returned to my original course.
                                    • "Finding The 'Positive'"--Mason Dixon Tactical. The author was out rucking and having a hard go of it. He stopped to rest.
                                    After about 5 minutes, I heard something walkin’ through the woods. As I sat there, here comes two huge gobblers walkin’ right towards me. Keep in mind, I had camo on, so these guys got within about 15 feet of me before they turned West and started down the mountain, apparently, never seeing me.
                                    The event lifted his spirits and when he resumed his hike, everything just clicked. "[W]hile thinkin’ about what happened during the day, I realized that what made the big difference in my ruck walk was having something happen that changed my mindset/enjoyment in what I was doing."
                                           We have borders. We also have laws saying that it is illegal to cross into the United States over those borders without prior permission. Two segments of America hate those laws: the Proggies, who want as many votes as possible, giving them an incentive to bring in people whose votes can be bought. They also need bodies for census purposes. In the Leftist states to which the illegal aliens flock, counting those bodies in the census allows for more Leftist representatives in the House. That’s why Leftists are hysterical that Trump wants to exclude illegal aliens from the 2020 census. California, for example, isn’t quite so populous when you don’t count the almost 3,000,000 illegal aliens living in the state. And of course, as part of all the intersectional, white-male-hating Leftist craziness, Proggies simply want to drown out whites.
                                             The other group that hates our immigration laws is the Chamber of Commerce cohort, to the extent it is composed of people desperate for cheap labor. The cheapest labor, as my neighbor knows, is to pay illegal immigrants under the table, while avoiding all the other required payments for legal employees, such as social security matching, unemployment, disability, taxes, etc. The next cheapest labor is to pay immigrants legitimately, but paying only minimum wage, because illegals are not always in a position to demand more. Were the illegals not around, these businesses would have to pay more to American-born laborers, including the blacks and American-born Hispanics against [whom] the illegals compete.
                                      • "THE FBI, THE DOJ AND HILLARY CLINTON’S HUGE WEINER PROBLEM"--The Daily Caller. When the FBI and NYPD seized Anthony Weiner's laptop to collect evidence concerning his enticement of a minor, they found more than 140,000 emails involving Hillary Clinton. So what did McCabe, Comey and Strzok do? "They sat on it until police officers in New York and FBI agents in New York threatened to expose them."
                                               Deaths now outnumber births among white people in more than half the states in the country, demographers have found, signaling what could be a faster-than-expected transition to a future in which whites are no longer a majority of the American population.
                                                 The Census Bureau has projected that whites could drop below 50 percent of the population around 2045, a relatively slow-moving change that has been years in the making. But a new report this week found that whites are dying faster than they are being born now in 26 states, up from 17 just two years earlier, and demographers say that shift might come even sooner.
                                                    “It’s happening a lot faster than we thought,” said Rogelio Sáenz, a demographer at the University of Texas at San Antonio and a co-author of the report. It examines the period from 1999 to 2016 using data from the National Center for Health Statistics, the federal agency that tracks births and deaths. He said he was so surprised at the finding that at first he thought it was a mistake.

                                              * * *

                                                       “People say demographics is destiny and there’ll be more people of color — all that is true,” said Jennifer Richeson, a social psychologist at Yale University. “But they also say the U.S. is going to become more progressive, and we don’t know that. We should not assume that white moderates and liberals will maintain current political allegiances, nor should we expect that the so-called nonwhite group is going to work in any kind of coalition.”
                                                  You can read the report here. However, the key numbers:
                                                  With significantly fewer white births and a rising number of deaths, natural increase (births minus deaths) actually ended in 2016. In that year, for the first time in U.S. history, data from the National Center for Health Statistics showed more white deaths than births in the United States. The white natural loss of 39,000 in 2016 compares to a natural gain of 393,000 in 1999. Both the growing number of deaths (up 180,000 between 1999 and 2016), and the declining number of births (down 252,000 between 1999 and 2016) contributed to the dwindling white natural increase and more recently to natural decrease. In 2016, whites accounted for 77.7 percent of all U.S. deaths, but just 53.1 percent of births. 

                                                  Tuesday, June 19, 2018

                                                  June 19, 2018 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

                                                  "3 Worst Lock Pick Tools"--Uncensored Tactical (11 min.)
                                                  The author of this video focuses on three tools--a pick gun, bump key set, and combs--that aren't reliable enough to bother with including in a bug-out or get-home bag.

                                                  • A new Woodpile Report is out today. He has links to several analyses of the recent Inspector General report issued as to the FBI. However, one of the better ones I've seen, and apparently not included in the list at the Woodpile Report is "The IG Report Was a Whitewash and Devastating All At Once" by Kurt Schlichter at Townhall magazine. Schlichter mostly focuses on the whitewashing done by the IG. But he also addresses consequences of such a weak report and the reflexive defense of bureaucrats by bureaucrats so that there is never public accountability:
                                                         Our country cannot go on like this. The rule of law matters, and the rule of law does not have exceptions that exempt preferred people and groups. We have tolerated this abomination long enough – it has to stop. Either the elite rediscovers its sense of duty and service and stops it, or we will stop it. Donald Trump is our latest attempt to do that. If he is unable to do so, the elite is really going to hate what we try next.
                                                           See, they don’t get to win.
                                                             Some have taken to calling our political/cultural response to this abandonment of the rule of law “tribalism.” And it is, because tribalism is the only alternative to the rule of law. Some like Jonah Goldberg rightly warn against the tribalist trend, and it is bad, but it sure beats the hell out of being the liberals’ serfs. Others are fussily upset that we choose uniting to protect ourselves over surrender – to them I say, if you Fredocons don’t like tribalism, then help us fix the freakin’ problem instead of trying to shut us up and pretending everything is groovy.
                                                               Once again, here are the two, and only two, options:
                                                          1.  Rule of law
                                                            2.  My tribe – the Normals – wins
                                                              Notice how there is no option for “The elite tribe exercises unchallenged dominion over us.” So, choose wisely.
                                                                       The IG report, simultaneously a devastating indictment of elite misconduct and a total whitewash, is a symptom of the moral leprosy infecting our elite. It is rotting away our institutions, and the foundations of the United States as we knew it. But the elite can’t, or won’t, even admit to itself what we all see.
                                                                         And this means that means the elite can’t, or won’t, do what is necessary to repair the damage the elite itself has caused our country. No wonder the Normals are getting militant – and if the elite does not wake up to the danger, this country will be torn apart, or even worse.
                                                                           According to the Small Arms Survey released this week, world wide private firearms ownership has increased from about 650 million in 2006 to 857 million at the end of 2017. That’s a 32% increase over the eleven year period, or 207 million firearms.
                                                                             The estimate for the United States jumped from 270 million in to 393.3 million, a 46 percent increase or 123.3 million firearms. The United States accounted for 60 percent of the total global increase.
                                                                      • Related: "It’s Official: America Now Has More Guns Than People"--The Truth About Guns. More info from the survey. Of course, one of the problems facing such "surveys" is that of garbage-in-garbage-out (GIGO). The authors of the paper acknowledged that only 12% of firearms are actually registered world-wide, which makes it difficult to truly count the number of firearms. For instance, the survey puts the number of civilian firearms in the United States at 393 million (compared to a population of 326 million). I believe that we've already passed the 400 million mark, and probably did so during the Obama Administration.
                                                                      • "US Army Adds More Guns to Sub Compact Weapon Trials"--The Firearm Blog. I cited to another TFB article recently that discussed the Army's interest in a submachine gun for some of its non-combat troops. According to this article, they have expanded the number of companies from which they are seeking samples under a sole-source contract. I see a lot of comments supporting the HK MP9 as a contender. I am a little surprise that Ruger isn't expressing some interest. Back in the 1990s, Ruger had developed an updated version of the Uzi submachine guns called the MP9 that used a polymer lower receiver and fired from a closed bolt. 
                                                                      • The UK has another type of crime problem: "Fewer than one in 20 street robberies and burglaries are being solved by police, new figures reveal"--Daily Mail. In addition, "[t]he figures also reveal that only nine per cent of suspects in all crimes are caught and punished - a reduction of more than 50 per cent in the past five years." But the UK is very good at catching and punishing people that express "bad think" on social media.
                                                                      • THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD, MY FRIEND”….THE NEGLIGENT DISCHARGE"--Civilian Gun Fighter. Mas Ayoob's recent recounting of a negligent discharge (ND) in a class he was teaching inspired the author of this blog to describe his ND, which occurred at his home. Fortunately, in neither case was anyone injured, or even put into danger due to the direction the firearm was pointing. Interestingly, the author of this article indicated that his ND occurred in his basement, and his wife was in the home at the time. He recounts: "She thought the loud bang she heard from two floors up was me knocking over a shelf in the basement." . 
                                                                      • Diversity is our strength: "The "Hitler Of South Africa" Tells White People, He Won't Kill Them...Yet!"--Zero Hedge.  Julius Malema, a member of the South African parliament and leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters political party, was quoted last week as stating: “We have not called for the killing of white people. At least for now. I can’t guarantee the future.” 
                                                                      • Good thing New Jersey has strict gun laws. Otherwise convicted felons might get hold of firearms and use them to commit crimes: "Several shot, one killed at Art All Night in Trenton"--Homicide Watch. From the article:
                                                                               Authorities say off- and on-duty police in the area fired their service weapons as the suspects fled the building while shooting at each other.
                                                                                 “The impetus for police returning fire were the individuals shooting at each other,” Onofri said. “Many of the event organizers have been praising the Trenton Police Department, and frankly if it wasn’t for their quick and decisive response, I think we’d be talking about more victims.”
                                                                                  Tahaij Wells, 32, died at the hospital after suffering gunshot wounds during the melee. Officials say he was one of the suspects exchanging gunfire with others inside the warehouse before running outside. Though ballistics tests have not been completed, investigators believe he was shot by a cop after police saw him engaged in the shootout.
                                                                                   Wells was recently released from prison and had been on parole since February on homicide-related charges, Onofri said.
                                                                                       Most of the occupants in the SUV were believed in the country without legal permission. Boyd said the driver and one passenger were believed to be U.S. citizens. The driver was among those hospitalized, and a deputy who assisted the Border Patrol with the chase found the driver sitting upright in his seat and took him and the passenger into custody.
                                                                                         "This, I think, is a perfect example, of why are [sic] borders need to be secured," Boyd said.
                                                                                    Are you an American citizen? Well, if you commit a serious crime tomorrow, you will be separated from your children. Try taking your kid with you to commit a bank robbery and see how far you get arguing that you should be able to take junior with you to Leavenworth. Speaking of which, what kind of idiots want to put 10-year-olds in detention centers with their parents and any random person we catch on the border? It’s a stupid idea that people push so they can virtue signal. “Oh, I’m such a good person and I really care about the children! That’s why I want little Sally locked up with the nice guy we caught on the border, the one with the nasty disposition and face tattoos.” It’s not as if ICE is roaming through Mexico kidnapping children or anything. All you have to do to avoid being split up from your children is the same thing Americans have to do: Obey the law.
                                                                                      I think the only two reasonable solutions to arresting illegals with children are (1) separate the children from their parents when the parents are jailed, or (2) jail the children together with their parents. Which would you prefer?
                                                                                      The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has long expressed its position that immigration reform should strengthen families and keep them together. The forced separation of children from their parents now occurring at the U.S.-Mexico border is harmful to families, especially to young children. We are deeply troubled by the aggressive and insensitive treatment of these families. While we recognize the right of all nations to enforce their laws and secure their borders, we encourage our national leaders to take swift action to correct this situation and seek for rational, compassionate solutions.
                                                                                      I wholeheartedly agree: immigration reform should keep families together. So we need to get rid of birth-right citizenship to eliminate the anchor baby phenomena. 
                                                                                                Stefan Molyneux has a good video on this issue, and in it, he references a recent National, Review article on the practice and process of separating children from illegal alien parents that attempt to sneak across the border. The article notes that "[s]eparation happens only if officials find that the adult is falsely claiming to be the child’s parent, or is a threat to the child, or is put into criminal proceedings." The problem arises where the parents claim asylum because contesting asylum claims take longer than prosecuting a simple criminal entry; but, per the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, children can only be detained for 20 days. "This creates the choice of either releasing the adults and children together into the country pending the ajudication of the asylum claim, or holding the adults and releasing the children."
                                                                                                But, even if the children are separated, it is hardly the trauma that the SJWs contend: "If the adult is held, HHS places the child with a responsible party in the U.S., ideally a relative (migrants are likely to have family and friends here)."
                                                                                                   According to the author of the article,"[t]he option that both honors our laws and keeps family units together is a swift return home after prosecution." "But," he observes, "immigrant advocates hate it because they want the migrants to stay in the United States."
                                                                                                     Molyneux makes a good analogy, that allowing asylum to someone that sneaks across the border is like someone robbing a business and, when caught, giving him or her a job. Illegal crossing of the border should result in an automatic denial of an asylum claim and immediate ejection from the country. 
                                                                                              • "Another explosion reported in Upper Bucks County"--Bucks County Courier Times. Earlier stories on the "mysterious explosions" in Pennsylvania had led me to believe that people were just reporting booming sounds. But, no, there were actual explosive devices, with the latest occurring as a road crew was working at mowing grass and weeds along the side of a highway. Someone is practicing.
                                                                                                That two of the officers — Coppock and Combs — involved in this fatal incident were female suggests that discipline and training standards have been lowered for the sake of “gender integration,” which was a major policy push at the Pentagon during the Obama administration. It could be that senior officers, knowing their promotions may hinge on enthusiastic support for “gender integration,” are reluctant to enforce standards for the women under their command.
                                                                                                “We recognize the power that sacred music has to unify the members of the Church throughout the world,” said Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “We desire to offer a consistent core collection of hymns and songs in every language that reflects the diverse needs of the global Church in our day.”
                                                                                                Translation: There are too many traditional English and Protestant hymns.
                                                                                                        ‘They’re fallen angels,’ Dr Gallagher tells ‘This is what I literally believe. They’re extremely bright; they’re much brighter than humans. They’ve been around for millenia – so they speak all languages.
                                                                                                           ‘I’ve heard them speak Chinese; I’ve heard them speak ancient Greek, which I studied,’ says the former Princeton Classics major. ‘I’ve certainly heard them speak and understand Latin.’
                                                                                                             The spirits do it, the psychiatrist says, ‘probably to freak you out or to show off – to boast.’

                                                                                                      Sunday, June 17, 2018

                                                                                                      Happy Father's Day!

                                                                                                      Happy Father's Day to all you fathers out there. As is my wont, I am reprinting something I had written back in February 2012 entitled "The Worth Of Fathers" and that I have reposted on several subsequent Father's Days.

                                                                                                      * * * * *
                                                                                                               One of the most insidious results of the welfare state and the feminist movement is the loss of respect for fathers, or even the belief that fathers are needed in a home. We are surrounded with ads and TV shows that show fathers as clueless idiots--essentially just another child for the mother to care for and look after. The legal system bases custody on "the best interests of the children" which has merely become a code phrase for "fathers not needed." Even my church, sad to say, while emphasizing the importance of motherhood, significantly downplays the importance of fathers.

                                                                                                             I was reminded of the importance of fathers today when reading this article concerning on how New Jersey's court system has usurped the powers and authority of the legislature in important areas, including education. It noted:
                                                                                                      The court also seemed oblivious to the fact that, no matter how much money the state spent, educational “adequacy” in the Abbott districts would remain a casualty of widespread family breakdown. In Newark and Camden, about 70 percent of children grow up in homes without fathers—which, research shows, frequently leads to dismal academic performance and high drop-out rates. “While many of the mothers and grandmothers were making a tremendous effort with their children, the consequences for most of the fatherless kids were devastating,” wrote Saul Cooperman, the state’s former education commissioner, in a 2002 op-ed. Assessing the likely effectiveness of the supreme court’s education mandates, Cooperman was blunt: “Until dramatically more fathers as well as mothers raise their children in our cities, we may be disappointed with the results.”
                                                                                                             Why are fathers so important? It is because fathers inculcate skills and discipline in their children that mothers, single or not, don't.
                                                                                                      As noted sociologist David Popenoe explains,
                                                                                                      Fathers are far more than just ‘second adults’ in the home. Involved fathers – especially biological fathers – bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring.
                                                                                                      Fathers bring good, essential things to the lives of children. Children are impoverished developmentally when they are deprived of their father’s love.
                                                                                                      The Review of General Psychology concludes:
                                                                                                      Many studies conclude that children with highly involved fathers, in relation to children with less involved fathers, tend to be more cognitively and socially competent, less inclined toward gender stereotyping, more empathetic, and psychologically better adjusted.
                                                                                                      (Footnotes omitted). (See also this article). And, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
                                                                                                               Even from birth, children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections with peers. These children also are less likely to get in trouble at home, school, or in the neighborhood. Infants who receive high levels of affection from their fathers (e.g., babies whose fathers respond quickly to their cries and who play together) are more securely attached; that is, they can explore their environment comfortably when a parent is nearby and can readily accept comfort from their parent after a brief separation. A number of studies suggest they also are more sociable and popular with other children throughout early childhood.

                                                                                                                 The way fathers play with their children also has an important impact on a child's emotional and social development. Fathers spend a much higher percentage of their one-on-one interaction with infants and preschoolers in stimulating, playful activity than do mothers. From these interactions, children learn how to regulate their feelings and behavior. Rough-housing with dad, for example, can teach children how to deal with aggressive impulses and physical contact without losing control of their emotions. Generally speaking, fathers also tend to promote independence and an orientation to the outside world. Fathers often push achievement while mothers stress nurturing, both of which are important to healthy development. As a result, children who grow up with involved fathers are more comfortable exploring the world around them and more likely to exhibit self-control and pro-social behavior.

                                                                                                                One study of school-aged children found that children with good relationships with their fathers were less likely to experience depression, to exhibit disruptive behavior, or to lie and were more likely to exhibit pro-social behavior. This same study found that boys with involved fathers had fewer school behavior problems and that girls had stronger self-esteem. In addition, numerous studies have found that children who live with their fathers are more likely to have good physical and emotional health, to achieve academically, and to avoid drugs, violence, and delinquent behavior.

                                                                                                                In short, fathers have a powerful and positive impact upon the development and health of children. A caseworker who understands the important contributions fathers make to their children's development and how to effectively involve fathers in the case planning process will find additional and valuable allies in the mission to create a permanent and safe environment for children.
                                                                                                      (Footnotes omitted).

                                                                                                      Saturday, June 16, 2018

                                                                                                      Voodoo Tactical Cheek Rest for Savage Mk. II FV-SR

                                                                                                             The Savage Mark II FV-SR .22 rifle is an excellent little rifle, but it suffers from one distinct problem: although it is set up to use telescopic sights (in fact, there is no provision for installing iron sights), Savage put a drop comb stock on it. The consequence is that it is impossible to get a good cheek weld because you have to hold your head higher to see through an optic. Reading about the issue on various boards and forums, a lot of people choose to purchase a new stock from Boyd's. Others have recommended using a cheek riser.

                                                                                                             I opted for the latter route, and after looking around a bit, settled on the Voodoo Tactical Cheek Rest for fixed stock rifles. As a bonus, the cheek rests are offered in various colors, so I was able to get one that was a good match for the color of the stock. Here it is installed:

                                                                                                            The cheek rest is actually designed so that all three straps fit ahead of the sling attachment, and then a fourth strap fits over the butt to keep it from slipping forward on the stock. The Mark II has a short stock, and I didn't like it so far forward--it interfered with my shooting hand. As you can see, I instead installed it so the rearmost strap was behind the sling attachment. This seems to hold it in place well enough that I don't need the strap across the butt.

                                                                                                             The cheek rest makes extensive use of velcro, and the riser pad actually attaches to a velcro panel. The pad is 1/4-inch thick, and, together with the rest of the unit, gives about a 1/2-inch rise. I would have liked a pad just a bit thicker--perhaps another 1/8 inch--but when shooting it in the field, I really don't notice that small of a difference. Of course, because it folds over the top of the stock, it also means that you are adding about an inch to the thickness of the stock. But it is a lot better ergonomics than was the bare, drop comb stock. The cheek rest retails for about $15, so it is a simple and inexpensive upgrade.

                                                                                                      Friday, June 15, 2018

                                                                                                      IEEE Spectrum: "Can A Robot Be Divine?"

                                                                                                             The aforementioned article looks at the use of robots as a useful part of religious worship. From the article:
                                                                                                             We’ve seen a few examples of robots assisting in religious tasks, but what if robots could take things a step farther, and become sacred objects, embodying divinity within a robot itself? 
                                                                                                              At the ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human Robot Interaction (HRI) in March, Gabriele Trovato from Waseda University in Japan (with colleagues from Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú) presented a paper taking a look at whether divine robots might be possible, and why it could be useful to develop such robots in the first place. ...
                                                                                                      The author of the article wants to make clear, however, that we understand that Trovato's paper is theoretical and only "attempts to develop guidelines for the design of robots with a religious aspect to them." However, it is interesting to look at what he believes are the advantages of a religious robot:
                                                                                                      The appeal of a theomorphic robot, the researchers hypothesize, is as follows:
                                                                                                      • Accepted favourably, because of its familiar appearance associated to the user’s background culture and religion
                                                                                                      • Recognized as a protector, supposedly having superior cognitive and perceptual capabilities
                                                                                                      • Held in high regard, in the same way a sacred object is treated with higher regard than a common object 
                                                                                                      There is some existing precedent for theomorphic robots, which goes back to early examples of automation applied to religious ceremonies. More recently, there have been attempts at using robots in religious contexts, like Pepper assisting in Buddhist funerals or Xian’er, a robotic Buddhist monk. Both of these robots, though, are more like assistants, and they themselves are not inherently theomorphic: A theomorphic robot is more of a representation of the divine, which implies “a connection with a deity, be[ing] a messenger of the deity, or be[ing] possessed by it, or carry[ing] a divine essence.”
                                                                                                      (Brackets in original). Trovato makes some suggestions as to how to make such a robot,  with the first rule being that "[t]heomorphic robots shouldn’t try to fool anyone about what they are—they’re tools or intermediaries."

                                                                                                             Notwithstanding the supposed theoretical nature of his paper, the article notes that Trovato has created a couple prototypes: "a Christian Catholic robot with the appearance of a saint, which will be used for catechesis under the guidance of the Catholic Church, and ... a robot with the appearance of a traditional Japanese Daruma doll, designed to keep company and monitor the health of Japanese elders."

                                                                                                             Of course, all of this brings to mind Revelation 13:15, which relates:
                                                                                                      And he [the false prophet] had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.