Monday, April 9, 2018

April 9, 2018 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

This concludes a series where the In Range TV duo have considered what would make the best, all-round AR-15 ... at least from their perspective as competitive shooters. It should be noted that their style of shooting is very active, and probably is a good proxy for defensive or tactical needs. This is the conclusion, looking back over the project, so if you want to see more detailed discussion of why certain things were adopted, or discarded, as the case may be, you will need to watch earlier episodes. The key point is that they determined that the best rifle to meet their needs was a lightweight, fairly short barreled rifle. Thus, they use a one piece polymer receiver/stock, a 14-inch pencil barrel (however, a premium one that can maintain 1 MOA accuracy even when hot), and a carbon-fiber handguard. They have also eschewed any backup irons, relying on a red-dot sight and reserving rail space behind it to mount a magnifier or night-vision. The weight of their weapons is coming in just north of 5 lbs.

  • "The Great Lesson of California in America’s New Civil War"--Peter Leyden at Medium. You've probably already heard of this article because it has received some praise from the left, and condemnation on the right. Basically, however, Leyden argues that California provides a model on how to turn the rest of the nations "blue" (i.e., liberal, Democrat controlled). What has caught the most attention is Leyden pronouncement that compromise or a middle-ground is no longer possible. He writes (bold added):
In this current period of American politics, at this juncture in our history, there’s no way that a bipartisan path provides the way forward. The way forward is on the path California blazed about 15 years ago.
He cites several reasons why compromise is impossible: views regarding energy (i.e., hydrocarbons on the right, and renewable energy on the left); wealth disparity (although even he cannot claim that the left=poor and right=rich, but only notes that the system is rigged for the most wealthy); and what have become two cultures. In the latter regard, he writes:
        The differences between two economic systems or two classes that are fundamentally at odds could conceivably get worked out through a political process that peacefully resolves differences. However, culture frequently gets in the way. That’s especially true when pressures are building for big system overhauls that will create new winners and losers.
           Two different political cultures already at odds through different political ideologies, philosophies, and worldviews can get trapped in a polarizing process that increasingly undermines compromise. They see the world through different lenses, consume different media, and literally live in different places. They start to misunderstand the other side, then start to misrepresent them, and eventually make them the enemy. The opportunity for compromise is then lost. This is where America is today.
              At some point, one side or the other must win — and win big. The side resisting change, usually the one most rooted in the past systems and incumbent interests, must be thoroughly defeated — not just for a political cycle or two, but for a generation or two. That gives the winning party or movement the time and space needed to really build up the next system without always fighting rear-guard actions and getting drawn backwards. The losing party or movement will need that same time to go through a fundamental rethink, a long-term renewal that eventually will enable them to play a new game.
        He also adds:
                  America is desperate for a functioning political supermajority that can break out of our political stasis and boldly move ahead and take on our many 21st-century challenges. The nation can’t take much more of our one step forward, one step back politics that gets little done despite the need for massive changes.
                    America today has many parallels to America in the 1850s or America in the 1930s. Both of those decades ended with one side definitively winning, forming a political supermajority that restructured systems going forward to solve our problems once and for all. In the 1850s, we fought the Civil War, and the Republican Party won and then dominated American politics for 50 years. In the 1930s, the Democratic Party won and dominated American politics for roughly the same amount of time.
                      America today is in a similar position. Our technologies, our economy, our geopolitics are going through fundamental changes. We are facing new challenges, like climate change and massive economic inequality, that must be addressed with fundamental reforms.
                      America can’t afford more political paralysis. One side or the other must win. This is a civil war that can be won without firing a shot. But it is a fundamental conflict between two worldviews that must be resolved in short order.
                           However, while most commentary I've seen have attacked Leyden's attitude of "no quarter," I have not seen as many discuss the strategies and tactics he suggests, such as what happened to California. As Leyden notes, the Democrats control California because "California has a supermajority of 60 percent of the population, and thus a supermajority of elected officials, who share a common vision of a general way forward." And changes to how voting districts are drawn and the conduct of elections ensures that, now the Democrats are in control, they will never lose it. For instance, he notes that redistricting authority now lies with an independent commission rather than the legislature. Also:
                    [V]oters in 2010 also passed Proposition 14, a state constitutional amendment that established a top-two primary system in which all candidates, regardless of party, are placed on the same primary ballot, and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, head into the general election. The immediate result was to bolster competition within almost all districts. In a district populated by Democrats, the voters still got a choice between, say, a more progressive candidate and a moderate candidate.
                      While he doesn't discuss how California achieved this 60 percent supermajority of the population, he doesn't need to: we all know it was through mass immigration to the state. Democrats simply dissolved the people and elected a new one.
                                 His article has rightly been criticized by conservative pundits. Richard Fernandez, for instance, makes much of the fact that we need a strong, united front to counter the economic and military threat posed by China. He warns that "[o]pening the borders to replace the Deplorables won't work because the replacements won't be as cooperative as those they are intended to replace." Also, "a low skilled balkanized population nurtured on gender studies and political correctness won't save America from the Chinese challenge." I don't think the left will care--not if the goal is to achieve political dominance. 
                                 This article should be a warning to all of us. The time of the sifting of the wheat and tares is now upon us. The idea of civil war is going main stream. The intelligentsia of the left believe that victory is nigh, and they thirst for the blood of the saints.
                                     Many of you know about my favorite load. This load isn’t the most accurate load I have developed (that crown belongs to the 52 ELD match), but for a rifleman it is plenty capable.
                                      My recipe is a 75 grain HPBT bullet (hornady bullet part no#2279) with my favorite powder (24 grains of Varget) over a CCI #400 primer. This gives me a load I have used from 0-600 with no sweat. This load flies at around 2680 FPS. Is it as accurate as other loads I have experimented with? Unfortunately no… it’s been a 1.5 MOA load at best. I am experimenting with this load to further it’s potential, but ignore that for now. I know other shooters have brought this bullet down to 1 MOA, so don’t be afraid to experiment with powders, seating depth, etc.
                                       What this load does quite well is match the trajectory of the M4 carbine and the M16 Rifle shooting SS109… and that opens up a whole new world of optics options to my beloved 20.
                                • "Your ammo supplies: reload or stockpile?"--Bayou Renaissance Man. Peter Grant addresses the issue of whether to stockpile large quantities of ammunition or reload your ammunition. He ends up on the side of laying in on large quantities of manufactured ammunition. My own thoughts on this matter is to embrace the word "and". 
                                          The primary issue here is cost: how much ammunition costs and how much your time is worth. It takes time to reload, even with progressive presses, and if you don't enjoy reloading, your time may not be worth what you save on reloading. There is also the initial investment. While you can save costs over the long run, reloading takes a fairly hefty investment in equipment and supplies at the front end. Even if you only use a single stage press, you may still be looking at between $500 and $1,000 for the basic set of tools, dies, powder, bullets, etc., and a progressive press could easily set you back two or three times that for the press, the different plates, dies, etc.
                                            One of the advantage to reloading is the long term cost savings. (Actually, it doesn't have to be too long once you have the basic equipment--I loaded 100 rounds of .300 Blackout this weekend using Hornady SST bullets, and the cost of the powder, brass, bullets and loading dies was about what I would have spent to purchase the same quantity new manufactured, so I've already earned back my investment). These cost savings primarily come from the fact that you use your own labor to manufacture the cartridges, and you will be reusing the brass. Grant also notes that having the loading supplies may allow you to sidestep local laws limiting how much ammunition you may purchase or have on hand (I would be very careful about that, and review your local laws).
                                               Another advantage is that you can "tune" a load to your particular rifle in order to, in theory at least, get better accuracy over manufactured ammunition. While this was very true in the past, modern manufacturing processes are generally very good, so this is not as true as it once was--particularly when considering the high-end ammunition.
                                                The disadvantages are the same: you are using your own time to manufacture the cartridges, and you need to be able to reuse the brass. If your time is more valuable than the savings you achieve, it makes no sense to reload. Although you can reload fairly quickly, it will never be as fast as grabbing another box of ammunition off the shelf. If you cannot recover the brass (either the range won't let you pick it up, your rifle ejects it so far that there is no hope of finding it, or, post-SHTF, you cannot police the brass after a skirmish), then you've lost one of the primary elements of cost savings.
                                                 If you can reload, my recommendation is to both stockpile ammunition "for a rainy day," but reload your practice ammunition. 
                                            Much of the story centers around Magnequench, an American company that emerged out of General Motors in the 1980s. It specialized in the magnets that account for most of the final components created from rare earth metals. But in 1995 Magnequench was bought out by a consortium that included two Chinese firms who took a controlling 62 percent majority share in the company. They also bought a big rare earth magnet plant in Indiana. Eventually, Magneuquench's manufacturing capacities were moved to China, and the Indiana plant was shut down.
                                            • Are we already at war? If you follow Q Anon's posts, you know that he/she has been pointing to the recent crashes of military aircraft, as well as the two navy collisions in east Asian waters last year, with the implication being that these incidents were due to software/hardware issues--perhaps hacking or spoofing, perhaps back doors in electronics bought from China. He/she is not the only one: Business Insider published an article in August of last year, claiming "The Navy's 4th accident this year is stirring concerns about hackers targeting US warships." See also this article at Foreign Policy. Although the Navy quickly dismissed hacking as a possibility, that was also within just a couple of weeks of the last of the 4 incidents mentioned in the article, which seems pretty quick for an investigation. It reminds me of the book Debt of Honor, but with China instead of Japan.
                                                      Erdoğan criticised Macron for having a meeting in late March in Paris with a Syrian Kurdish delegation that included the People's Protection Unit's (YPG), which Turkey recognises as terror organisation and extension of PKK. “If you are against terrorist organisations, you have to stand by our side. If you don’t, know that those terrorist organisations will bring you an headache one day,” he said to Macron.
                                                       Erdoğan added that the cement used for the tunnels built by Kurdish militia in Syria came from French construction company Lafarge’s factory in northern Syria. 
                                                         Erdoğan then lashed out at all the countries in the West for their silence regarding the civilian casualties in Eastern Ghouta.“When will you [the West] turn around and look at the children, women and humans slaughtered and martyred in Eastern Ghouta so we can say 'they act fair? Shame on you. Shame on your democracy, human rights, your understanding of diplomacy.” 
                                                           Erdoğan told that those countries no more had any right to complain about terrorist organisation and terrorist attacks, adding that Turkey would continue to struggle against terrorism following its own strategy.
                                                             “We thank everyone who support us in this struggle. We say ‘go to hell’ to those who stand in front of us, talking the language of the terrorists,” said Erdoğan.
                                                                Cassina, or black drink, the caffeinated beverage of choice for indigenous North Americans, was brewed from a species of holly native to coastal areas from the Tidewater region of Virginia to the Gulf Coast of Texas. It was a valuable pre-Columbian commodity and widely traded. Recent analyses of residue left in shell cups from Cahokia, the monumental pre-Columbian city just outside modern-day St. Louis and far outside of cassina’s native range, indicate that it was being drunk there. The Spanish, French, and English all documented American Indians drinking cassina throughout the American South, and some early colonists drank it on a daily basis. They even exported it to Europe.
                                                                   As tea made from a species of caffeinated holly, cassina may sound unusual. But it has a familiar botanical cousin in yerba maté, a caffeine-bearing holly species from South America whose traditional use, preparation, and flavor is similar. The primary difference between cassina and maté is that while maté weathered the storm of European conquest, cassina has fallen into obscurity.

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