Sunday, June 10, 2018

June 10, 2018 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

           In another situation, relayed to me by a friend with decades of experience in a big city with a whole lot of crime, a bad guy breaks into the home, the homeowner phones the police and calls out, “I have a gun.” Bad guy starts up the stairs, the homeowner the whole time shouting, “I have a gun,” which is pointed at the bad guy.
             Homeowner decides enough is enough; he shoots. The bad guy takes a full-power factory .44 Magnum underneath the left eye. Bad guy tumbles down the stairs, gets up and walks out of the house. When the police arrive they begin a search and find the bad guy around the corner, next to his car, keys on the ground, dead.
               A council of experts could argue the question, “Was there enough stopping power?” on this one until the cows come home. On the “yes” side, the bad guy stopped doing what he was doing. On the “no” side, he decided to do something else instead, and could have spent that last minute fighting instead of fumbling with his car keys. And by the time we’re done, you’ll agree with both of them.
        If you boil it down to the price per round, especially for high-volume pistol and AR-platform shooters, when you compare the cost of the bulk factory ammunition to the time and cost of producing your own, the bulk ammunition will win out. 
        I've noted before that reloading requires a significant upfront investment in getting a press, powder measure, scale, dies, etc. And it takes time. So it may not be worth it. However, while the costs cut close with bulk ammo for 9 mm, 5.56, or 7.62x39, it can be more economical for many other calibers. Especially if you are willing to reuse the brass casings. 
        • "Elastic Shoelaces"--Blue Collar Prepping. The author likes Hickies-brand no-tie shoelaces. It makes it easier and quicker to get into and out of shoes when traveling and going through the TSA checkpoints. And she notes that they are great for someone with a physical disability (e.g. arthritis) or a mental disability. I have a son with physical disabilities that make it hard for him to tie shoes, and although we haven't tried this brand, we have had good success with elastic shoelaces in the past. Finally, the author notes that they can make it quicker to get into shoes in an emergency. 
        • "DIY Fixes: Troubleshooting Your AR"--Guns Magazine. The author asserts that "[i]f your AR-15 stops working, or works sporadically, it’s likely to be one of three root causes: it’s dirty, it’s beat, it’s got a leak." One of the problems he mentions is the one I experienced with my first AR build--excessive carrier velocity:
        I’ve talked around the horn a few times on this next, but cyclic failures are not always due to “light” loads. Not nearly. If you’ve either knowingly or innocently switched to a brand of ammo loaded to a higher pressure, what some call “overfunction” can fool us by its symptoms. Depending on the pressure levels of the before and after load, and depending on the rifle’s previous system suitability to function with the lighter load, introducing extra gas into the system can create excessive carrier velocity upon unlocking after firing, which can ultimately lead to excessively rapid return to battery. The carrier can outrun the magazine spring, in effect, and fail to chamber the next cartridge. Solutions for this require employing some means to slow carrier unlocking. I’ve addressed this before, but an adjustable gas flow system, a stouter buffer spring, or adding weight to the carrier can do the job.
        He also mentions:
                 If a spent case won’t eject, reduced gas flow or grit and grime top our suspect list. Could also be a broken extractor spring, or broken ejector spring. When either of these fails, they usually break, not just weaken.
                   Often a previously reliable rifle commences short-stroking. That’s when the carrier doesn’t get kicked far enough to the rear to pick up a cartridge from the magazine to chamber the round, or far enough to allow the bolt stop to engage and lock back the bolt. The cause for this is either not enough “flow” from the gas system (a leak) or too much operational friction (grit and grime).
                     If I suspect reduced gas flow, my first check is for a loose bolt carrier key. If it’s loose, then there will be your leak. Installed correctly, it should not loosen. Installed incorrectly, it probably will loosen. I have seen a slew of incorrectly installed keys.
              • "What Patient Zero, Japan, Can Tell Us About China & The Developed World At Large"--Econimica. "... Japan was assumed to be the emerging world power in the '80's, we now know better.  The title of emergent power now rests with China...and for the same reasons it didn't work out for Japan, it won't work out for China." The basic issue is declining birth rates and an aging population. The author of this piece doesn't focus so much on economic productivity, but on consumption. That is, the elderly do not consume goods and resources like younger people (and families). This spells bad news for OPEC and Russia because one of the major declines in consumption is in energy. Perhaps Africa will rise as a major consumer of energy, but I have my doubts about most African nations being able to assemble a viable manufacturing base.
              • "China eyes its next prize – the Mekong"--The Interpreter. It isn't just the South China Sea which China wants to control:
                      But there is another prize in Beijing’s sights, an artery that runs straight through mainland Southeast Asia. The mighty Mekong River, which starts in China (known there as Lancang), and connects Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia, is a crucial lifeline that nourishes some 60 million people along its banks.
                        Control of both the South China Sea and Mekong River will strategically sandwich mainland Southeast Asia. Indeed, Beijing’s control of Southeast Asian rivers looks set to be the other half of its “salami slicing” strategy in the region.
                         Controlling the Mekong River’s flow with dams along the waterway ultimately means controlling access to food, and therefore the livelihoods of tens of millions of people in downstream riparian communities. Of the hydroelectricity dams on the Mekong, the vast majority of currently installed capacity (megawatts) is in China, accounting for more than 15,000 MW. This includes a half-dozen mega-dams over 1000 MW, including Nuozhadu dam which churns out 5850 MW.
                           Together these dams can hold back 23 billion cubic metres of water, or 27% of the river’s annual flow between China and Thailand. Other dams in the lower Mekong are piddling by comparison, with generating capacity in the tens or low hundreds of MW. 
                              The bottom line: Chinese dams can now regulate the Mekong’s flow.
                               A much-overlooked and further source of strength in China’s control of the river system, as well as river systems across the subcontinent, is the cloud seeding project named Tianhe. The project’s stated objective is to increase rainfall by 10 billion cubic metres – 7% of China’s current consumption – over the Tibetan Plateau that feeds into key transboundary rivers, including the Mekong, Brahmaputra, Indus, and Salween.
                                  The project, part of the broader artificial weather project, would seed rain to fall over the plateau and into the catchments of these rivers. This water would then be regulated by Chinese dams (see this comprehensive map), or could be redirected domestically. But as Carnegie Council’s Janos Pasztor notes, the seeding doesn’t produce rain, “it makes it happen somewhere, which means that it will not happen somewhere else”. 
                          To make a long article short, the end result is that the dams will reduce the amount of silt reaching the lower parts of the river, which will impact agriculture and fishing; the flow of water is now unpredictable to lower regions, with water being released without warning, or water being held back resulting in drought-like conditions. 
                          It would seem highly relevant to immigration policy that the United States is an extension of European and especially English civilization. The form of government that the Framers set up was indistinguishable from the unwritten constitution, including the virtue of character. Although that ethos overlaps in some respects with non-Western civilizations, America's political institutions and other traditions connect the United States primarily with Europe. The longterm effect of large-scale immigration from societies that are largely untouched by traditional Western civilization is unclear. While it is possible that immigrants from Asia, for example, will add to the American pool some cultural traits that are needed or that will cause desirable cross-fertilization, the present troubles of American society can hardly be overcome by trying to import culture. A cultural resurgence of the necessary depth and scope must surely spring from within the historically rooted American national character itself. In the absence of that kind of revival, large-scale immigration and cultural separatism within the United States are likely to aggravate the problem of fragmentation.
                          • "All Rise"--Kakistocracy. As good an explanation as any I've read or heard on why we have a "living Constitution" that is the "load star" of our aspirations, rather than a document upon which we can rely on the plain text:
                                  Society is going to be homogenized to function. And when you don’t have natural homogeneity, you can count on getting it artificially. That’s what the many-tentacled “civil rights” edifice is all about. Enforcing an artificial social gravity on what demographically may as well be the moon.
                                    So consider our SC members in the best possible light: as vain, preening, often overtly-tribal adulation-seekers who nonetheless recognize the impossibility of maintaining a document they have sworn to defend. In that situation what do you do? The answer is you pen the most florid bullshit possible to keep the lid screwed down. Diversity is our strength.
                              • "How nations come together"--Aeon Magazine. Andreas Wimmer takes a stab at trying to figure out why some countries break apart, and others seemingly stick together notwithstanding a diverse population. He sees three primary factors that unify a nation notwithstanding ethnic divides: (1) strong voluntary associations that cross ethnic lines, (2) strong support for the government, which in turn, requires that citizens believe that they are getting good returns for their taxes ("Citizens are more likely to politically support a government that provides public goods in exchange for taxing them."), and (3) a shared language. Interestingly, the author points out as to the second factor that the "public goods" must come from the nation's government, not foreign governments or NGO's--foreign assistance can be worse than useless for nation building. Unfortunately, the author does not address unity in relation to the United States. But I would note that voluntary associations in the United States that cut across ethnic boundaries, such as religion, fraternal associations, and so on, are generally weakening and in decline. While the government provides numerous public goods, the pension crises threatens this: we already see cities cutting back on services in order to fund pensions. And if interest rates increase even slightly, we could see the costs of servicing the national debt lead to the same outcome at the national level. Finally, as to the third factor, other languages now compete against English in many localities. 
                              • "Waiting for the Next Religion"--Christopher Chantrill at The American Thinker. Chantrill:
                                       So when we are battling with our lefty friends we are not in a political fight, nor even a cultural fight. We are in a religious war, for leftism is the first religion that came along to fill the hole in the soul created when the philosophers declared that God was Dead.
                                        Leftism is the religion that says that Activists are called to save the victims of the world by politics. That is to say, by force.
                                    The scary part is that Chantrill believes the Jordan Peterson is the prophet of this new religion.

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