Thursday, June 7, 2018

June 7, 2018 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

  • "Basic Flashlight Tutorial: An Introduction to High-Performance Flashlights" A very good, comprehensive, tutorial on flashlights.
  • "Building The Perfect AR-15 From The Ground Up"--Gun Digest. Tiger McKee explains what he believes makes the perfect defensive rifle. It is always interesting to see what other people use, and its true in this case. An eclectic blend of low cost (simple sling) to high end (Precision Reflex Incorporated carbon fiber Gen III forearm), and lot in between. I hadn't heard of some of the products, so it is always an education.
  • "Why The Home Defense Shotgun Rules The Roost"--Gun Digest. The author does a good job of describing the good points of using a shotgun for home defense, including the overwhelming firepower provided by a good buckshot load. However, I believe the author oversells it, ignoring any disadvantages and stating some conclusions that are questionable at best. For instance, the author writes:
Still, the shotgun is more forgiving than the pistol or rifle in stressful home defense scenarios. A greater percent of the population has had some experience with the shotgun; you shot clays one time with a buddy, went pheasant hunting with Uncle Ed back in the day — maybe you handled the Model 12 Grandad kept in the corner at this house. The point is there are more of us, untrained, that feel more comfortable picking up a shotgun than a handgun. This makes all the difference when that thing goes bump in the night.
I'm going to have to disagree with this one. Most people will select a pump action shotgun for self defense (and, in fact, that is what was the Winchester Model 12, which he specifically mentions in the passage). Between operating the action release, a push bar safety (on most shotguns), and/or pumping the action to chamber a round, I daresay that a shotgun is more complicated than most pistols to operate. And, under stress, even experienced shotgunners can short stroke the action; whoa betide the novice. And then there is the recoil, which is substantial when shooting a high-brass load. I think that shotguns can be great weapons, and there is no questioning their stopping power (i.e., ability to stop an assailant from assaulting), but, contrary to the impression given by the author of the cited article, they are not for everyone.
  • "How to Safely Reholster Your Handgun"--NRA Family. Make sure your finger (or other objects or clothing) are out of the trigger guard, and don't rush it. You made need deliberate speed when drawing your weapon, but if things have calmed down to where you can reholster, calm down and take your time.
  • "WAG Bags and Poo Powder"--Blue Collar Prepping. I had never heard of Poo Powder. Apparently it is like the substance in a disposable diaper--you relieve yourself into a bag, and the powder absorbs the liquid parts, and coats the solid stuff. 
  • Nothing to see here, just move along: "Visa Goes Down in the UK, Chaos Ensues, Cash is Suddenly King"--Wolf Street. From the article:
       For over 12 hours on Friday, shopping centers in the UK and other parts of Europe were plunged into chaos as millions of consumers were unable to use their Visa debit or credit cards at points of sale. ...
           While the mayhem caused by the outage may have been short lived, it served as a stark reminder of the risks, both for consumers and retailers, of depending purely on cashless payments. In the UK, the chaos unleashed was particularly acute since it is one of the world’s most cashless economies ....
      [Thus when the system crashed,] [t]he only way for people to pay for stuff was with co-branded Mastercard cards, or hard cold cash. Luckily, Visa cards were still working at ATMs, although the queues were considerably longer than normal.
               In a beautiful irony, Visa, a company whose stated mission is to “put cash out of business” as quickly as possible, had little choice but to urge its customers to withdraw and use physical bank notes for transactions until the technical issue was resolved. Without access to cash, the chaos caused by yesterday’s outage would have been immeasurably worse.
                 While the UK has happily embraced cashless living, with a resultant explosion in personal debt levels, in many other countries Visa has been dogged by the stubborn survival of cash and checks, despite widespread government and corporate efforts to kill them off. Globally, check and cash transactions totaled $17 trillion in 2016 — up 2% from a year earlier. To try to counter that trend, Visa rolled out a new US initiative in the summer of 2017 that offered to award 50 eligible retail businesses (online businesses are excluded) up to $10,000 each if they committed to refusing cash payments.
          • Does a bear **** in the woods? "Is America's Racial Divide Permanent?"--Pat Buchanan at Chronicles Magazine. All levity aside, Buchanan raises some good points. For instance, "[t]he America of the 1960s, with its civil rights clashes and 'long hot summers,' was a far more segregated society than today. Yet the toxic charge of 'racist' is far more common now." He blames this on an excessive preoccupation on race by some people. But, with black-on-black violence far exceeding white-on-black violence, he asks: "Is white America really black America's biggest problem?"
          • "The Unraveling of Nicaragua"--The Atlantic. Background on the current situation in Nicaragua, which seems to be ignored by most major news outlets. Needless to say, Daniel Ortega, who came to power with the help of protests, guerrilla warfare, and money from abroad, is not too happy about the latest popular protests. 
          Over the past seven weeks, Ortega’s police and paramilitaries have killed more than 120 people, mostly students and other young protesters who are demanding the president’s ouster and a return to democracy, according to a human-rights group. Police hunt students like enemy combatants. Sandinista Youth paramilitaries, armed and paid by Ortega’s party, drive around in pickup trucks attacking protesters. Gangs of masked men loot and burn shops with impunity. Cops wear civilian clothing, and some paramilitaries dress in police uniforms. “This is starting to look more like Syria than Caracas,” one Nicaraguan business leader told me.
          • "Even a dead hard drive can give away your private info. Here's how to delete it for good"--USA Today. There are companies that specialize in retrieving data from crashed hard drives. Good news if you need the information; bad news if you don't want that information to land in the hands of data thieves. If you can afford it and someone offers the service in your area, the article suggests taking your hard drive to be shredded--literally shredded into small pieces of plastic or metal. Or, the article points out, you can take a hammer or crowbar to it--just so long as you destroy the actual hard disk inside the drive. I would recommend shooting it multiple times, but just be aware that these old drives can be tougher than you think. So don't shoot it and assume it is destroyed. Make sure that the disk is destroyed. I recommend using at least a .308, and several shots.
          • The children are throwing a temper tantrum: "If you're gay, female or both in America, your rights now come with an asterisk"--The Independent. The author is upset that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cake Shop. From the tone of this op-ed, you would think that SCOTUS had ordered that homosexuals be loaded onto cattle cars and hauled off to death camps. Apparently it has special significance for the author because it came at the beginning of "Gay Pride" month. The author writes:
          The question we wanted answered still hasn’t been. That is: are gay rights in America only certain and iron-clad when questions of faith don’t get in the way? Do they vanish when someone says: “Ah, but my god doesn’t agree?”
          That word--"rights"--is peppered all throughout the article. But the only concern of the author are the "rights" of gay couples to compel someone to make a cake for them (or whatever other demeaning service they demand), not the "rights" of the baker who doesn't want to become involved in the process of two men getting "married." Strangely, I've looked through the Constitution and, while I find a prohibition on the government on enforcing religion (or, in this case, irreligion) on someone, I see nothing in the Constitution that allows the government to compel someone to render a service to another against their will. In fact, compelling someone to work for another against his or her will seems to be frowned on in most philosophies. 
                Former police sergeant Wayne Earl Jenkins was sentenced to 25 years in prison Thursday for leading the rogue Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF) of the Baltimore Police Department.
                   The investigation has forced the department and city prosecutors to throw out more than 1,700 criminal cases that the officers corrupted with their involvement, BBC reported Thursday. Jenkins pleaded guilty [to] participating in 10 robberies of citizens as well as planting drugs on crime scenes and selling confiscated drugs back onto the streets. 
              He's sorry, he says. Yeah, sorry that he got caught. Nevertheless, we should keep in mind that these criminal officers are outliers. As even the liberal Huffington Post reported a couple years ago:
               There are are roughly 750,000 sworn local and state law enforcement officers in the U.S., according to a recent count by the Department of Justice, and Stinson’s data estimates the rate of arrest for officers during the years of his study is 1.7 cops per 100,000 people. As a comparison, the approximate rate of arrest of civilians in the U.S. is around 3,888 per 100,000 people, according to FBI Uniform Crime Report data.
              But the study's author admitted that his estimate of crimes by police officers, which was based on media reports, probably undercounts the amount of crime committed by law enforcement. However, another article from 2016 indicated that police commit 103 crimes per 100,000 officers, which is still far less than the general population. On the other hand, it is 37 times as many as committed by concealed carry license holders. In short, police are much more law abiding than the mean among the population even if they aren't as law abiding as CCL holders.

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