Monday, May 16, 2022

Docent's Memo (May 16, 2022)

If you want to lighten the trigger pull on a J-frame, this video shows you how.

Firearms, Shooting & Self-Defense:

  • Be sure to check out the most recent Defensive Pistolcraft post from Jon Low. Typically I will highlight a few stories, points or advice in his post, but given what is coming, I thought this was maybe the most important comment Jon included in this most recent post (paraphrasing from Andrew Branca on self-defense against rioters, looters and arsonists--note that the non-italicized comments in brackets are my own additions):
      Every person participating in the riot is responsible for the worst behavior of the rioters.  The peaceful protesters are not responsible for the behavior of the rioters.  Will you be able to tell the difference?   
     Every person in your organized defensive group is responsible for the worst behavior
of someone in your group exercising poor judgment.  Not everyone is trained as you are.  
     Don't be there.  You win!   
     If you wait for the riot to come to you, or go to the riot, you have a greater than zero
chance of dying and a greater than zero chance of spending the rest of your life in prison.  
     Peaceful protesters, obstructive protesters, violent protesters (rioters).  
Can you distinguish?  Do you know how to handle each category?  
     Persons saying "all lives matter" have been killed by Black Lives Matter mobs.  
So don't talk to them, LEAVE!  
     If your car automatically unlocks your doors when you shift gears to park, you need
to fix this design error.  You need to be able to keep your doors locked in a riot.  If your
mechanic can't fix this, change cars.  Participating in your own murder is an act of
criminal stupidity.  Keep your windows rolled up.  Force the bad guys to break something
to get in.  That eliminates any ambiguity.  Now you know they mean to kill or seriously
injure you, so you are justified in using lethal force.  Having your doors unlocked and your
windows rolled down is an act of criminal stupidity.   
     Your vehicle is a more effective weapon than your pistol.  [I would add that this is at lower speeds; at high speeds ... well, you've probably seen what happens when a car or pickup strikes a deer at highway speeds]. 
     If the rioters are around your home, stay in your home.  If they are threatening projecting
force into your home (shooting at you, throwing Molotov cocktails), you are justified in
using lethal force.  They don't have to breach your home.  They don't have to do violence.  
Self-defense is the use of force to prevent the violence.  
     Andrew gives many questions that you need to think about and answer before you are
confronted with the threat, because they are not easy to answer, and trying to figure them
out under the stress of the threat is going to be impossible.  They are moral questions,
not legal questions.   
     Make your tactical decisions and trigger points ahead of time.  You actions may be
reactive, but your decision making should be proactive.  Example, if a rioter displays a
Molotov cocktail, I will immediately shoot him.  If you don't make the decision ahead
of time, you won't act decisively, immediately; and your car will be on fire with your
spouse and kids attempting to bail out into the mob (if they are not buckled into their
car seats, hard for a 4 month old to unbuckle her straps and get out of the car seat,
much less the car).   
     "Oh, that's horrible.  I don't want to think about such things."   
     If you choose to neglect thinking about such things, you are participating in your
own murder.   
     "I wouldn't shoot a person just because he's holding a bottle with a rag hanging out of it." 
     When your car is on fire, you won't be able to go back in time to shoot him to prevent
him from throwing the Molotov cocktail at your car.  You and your passengers are going to
suffocate or burn to death.  
  • Be sure to check out Greg Ellifritz's Weekend Knowledge Dump for May 13, 2022. A few of the articles to which he links which caught my attention had to do with dealing with squib loads in a revolver, a look at what anti-poaching units in Africa carry in way of equipment (and why), and a video testing saps and blackjacks.
  • By now you have undoubtedly heard about the shooting at a Buffalo Tops Friendly Markets store this past weekend that left 10 dead. I have some comments about the shooting further below that deal with the social and political aspects of the shooting, but for purposes of this portion of my weekly memo, I want to focus on the fact that the shooter was wearing some sort of body armor as well as a tactical helmet. I haven't been able to find any specific information on the body armor such as whether it a Kevlar vest or rifle plates, or confirmation that the helmet was Kevlar. Nevertheless, this is another incident where we need to consider alternatives to shooting to the center of mass, and whether your chosen defensive weapon has the requisite power and accuracy to disable an attacker so armored up. 

    My personal belief--and I will readily acknowledge having no experience in this matter--is that a shot to any exposed area is worth it because experience has shown that mass shooters will typically give up when confronted by an armed defender and/or shot; and even if it doesn't make the shooter give up, it will degrade his or her ability to continue the attack. Just remember that the defender must move after taking his or her shot.

    But if the opportunity presents itself, alternate shot locations would be to the face in the T made by the eyes and nose, or just slightly above the ear canal if shooting from the side. These, as you know, are target areas that can immediately stop an attack because a strike there--if the bullet has sufficient penetration--will strike the brain stem and cause flaccid paralysis. Fortunately, the latest models of tactical helmets leave those areas exposed; but the older PASGT helmets will protect against the side shot. 

    Other areas to shoot include the neck and pelvis girdle. A neck shot through the esophagus can immediately impair the attacker's breathing and cause panic; or strike the spine causing shock. Shots to the pelvis must either strike the pelvis in a location and with sufficient power that the pelvis is broken, or to the hip joint to shatter or break one of those joints. Unfortunately, the majority of handguns lack the power to break the pelvis but will simply punch a hole. But even if you have a rifle or other weapon sufficient powerful to break the pelvis, such shots should be thought of as having the purpose to anchor the target, much like a hunter shooting an animal in the shoulder, but allowing the defender to escape or move into a position to take a better shot. A couple articles on that topic are here and here.

Obviously, the best course of action here is to maintain good situational awareness and drive away as soon as you notice the attack underway.  Even if your vehicle is hit by a fire bomb, keep driving.  The car’s movement will allow the burning liquid to drip off of your car and any additional distance you can create between you and your attackers creates a more favorable outcome for you.

But if your vehicle catches fire, he recommends exiting the vehicle and running away as fast as you can. And when he says "as fast as you can," he means that you won't have time to grab supplies from the glove box or the trunk/cargo area; which means that you had better have a plan on getting children out quickly that are in car seats or booster seats (if you are a parent of a young child, you should already have some sort of plan in the event of a car accident).

    I suspect Ellifritz is basing his advice on auto fires he has dealt with as a police officer. Having been involved in a matter where a woman burned to death in a car fire, I can tell you that you should not be blasé about such fires. The matter I dealt with was a woman that crushed a portion of her exhaust pipe up against the underbody of the car going over a hump in the road and the heat eventually got the carpet to smolder and catch on fire. As best as could be determined, the toxic fumes released from the smoldering carpet overwhelmed her before she was even able to stop the car and get the door full opened. And the car was fully engulfed in flames before passersby (she was next to a busy road) could even reach her to pull her the rest of the way from the car.   

    Ellfritz also asks:

When is the last time you’ve sprinted? Could you run away fast enough to avoid the flying flaming bottles? Some of you need to be doing more sprinting and less surfing gun channels on YouTube.

I know that I fall into that category.

  • "Concealed Carry Corner: Top Maintenance Items For Concealed Carry"--The Firearm Blog. A discussion of the importance of maintenance for your EDC carry gear as that is the stuff that will be exposed to dust and lint, sweat and oil, and so on. Of course, as the article relates in greater detail, you need to regularly clean and oil your handgun, make sure to replace batteries (even if they seem fine) and switch out your carry ammo (i.e., shoot up the old stuff you've been carrying around--it gives you some practice with your defensive ammo and makes sure that you load a fresh magazine). The part I don't really agree with is the authors suggestion to also switch to different magazines (he mentions yearly moving his magazines from his carry gun rotation to his set he uses for practice and training). Quality magazines are not going to wear out sitting in your firearm or a magazine pouch; the idea of springs setting and compromising performance has been shown to be a myth when a manufacturer is using good quality springs. The magazines most likely to "wear out" or be damaged are the magazines that you regularly use for practice and are dropping to the floor or ground as you practice reloads, as they are the most likely to get bent or broken feed lips; and, for that reason, you should keep your training magazines separate from those that you use for EDC carry. As for the carry magazines, they just need a periodic disassembly and cleaning and checking the spring for rust. And if you are worried about your spring, you can typically purchase replacement springs (at least for the more popular models of pistols).
  • Greg Ellifritz included this in his most recent Weekend Knowledge Dump, but I had also come across it: "How to Find The Best Concealed Carry Holster"--Shooting Illustrated. It's said that a picture is worth a thousand words, so here is the picture:

  • Have you ever wanted a pistol that shoots the 5.7mm cartridge but have been dissuaded by the high cost of the FN and Ruger pistols? PSA has you covered. "Now Available: The Palmetto State Armory 5.7 Rock Pistol"--The Firearm Blog. MSRP is $499. It ships with two 23-round magazines. If the price doesn't concern you, but you need something with more than 23 rounds in the magazine, then there is always the "KelTec P50 Blowback Semiauto 5.7x28mm Pistol" (but its MSRP is $995).
  • "What Is the Striker Control Device?"--Shooting Illustrated.  Many of you are probably familiar with the Striker Control Device (aka, Glock Gadget), but if not, this article is all about what is the device and how and why to use it. The device was originally manufactured by Tau Development Group (which is when I procured one as part of their kickstarting campaign), but is now being manufactured by Langdon Tactical. 
  • "Rifle Is Not Fine! New Clawgear AK47 Slick M-LOK Handguards"--The Firearm Blog. M-LOK handguards for the AK that don't require you to cut off the forward sling attachment point.
  • "5 Ways To Ruin A Good Handload"--American Rifleman. So you have worked up a good handload for your handgun or rifle. How can you then screw it up to the detriment of accuracy, or maybe even make it dangerous to shoot?
    1. Change the bullet manufacturer. Sure, it's the same weight so what could go wrong? 
    2. Change a powder manufacturer. E.g., IMR-4064 is not the same powder as AA-4064. This isn't a matter of just slightly different burn rates, but sometimes wildly different burn rates. On the other hand, you do have some oddities such as H110 and W296 being the exact same powder although ostensibly from different companies.
    3. Change a primer manufacturer. Again, changing components from what you used to get the perfect load is going to mess with its consistency (accuracy) because there might be slight differences in burn rates. The author doesn't mention this, but the same can apply even from the same manufacturer. For instance, even ignoring the difference between magnum and standard primers, manufacturers may make different varieties of primers each with slightly different characteristics. For instance, CCI makes a line of BR (bench rest) primers that are supposed to be basically the same as the standard (small or large) rifle primers, just more consistent. But the metal is slightly thicker on the BR primers, in order to handle higher pressures, and the dimensions are slightly different. CCI also sells military primers intended for specific calibers. So, for instance, CCI's No. 41 primers are small rifle primers, but manufactured specifically for the 5.56. Are they the same as the CCI's No. 400 primers (the standard small rifle primer)? Don't know. Something I would want to check.
    4. A change in brass. This one could have a greater impact on accuracy than any of the others except, maybe, a change in bullet manufacturers. And this is simply because the wall thickness could vary greatly between manufacturers; and it quite definitely differs between military brass for the 7.62x51 and the civilian .308. This means that you will see different internal volumes and, therefore, resulting variances in pressure if everything else is held the same.
    5. A change in dies. Again, slight differences in tolerances--particularly with re-sizing--can result in degraded accuracy with a particular load.

  • "Souvenir Self Defense -- Can you use a classic, original-style 1911 in .45 ACP for self defense?"--Shooting Illustrated. It seems a silly question since the 1911 served in two world wars, the Korean and Vietnam Wars as well as numerous other wars and actions. The sights are not the best in the world, and you definitely want to examine and test the weapon to make sure it is safe to use and actually functions. The only real factor to keep in mind is that many of the older semi-auto designs including the 1911 were designed around using a FMJ bullet and won't reliably cycle most hollow-point ammunition. 

VIDEO: "The Fall of China" (20 min.)

Prepping & Survival:

    While it is not my intention to portray my homeland as one where terror and fear reign supreme, there are a few lessons about safety farmers have learned here that American farmers would be prudent to learn as well. We live in relative tranquility in a small rural town at a decent distance from the capital city. Venezuela is abundant in haciendas. Corn and rice production has increased, against all prognostics.

    However, living in the countryside is a risky business. 
    There are gangs that, from time to time, can spread fear and havoc. Isolated, secluded farms seem to be the these gangs’ favorite targets. While isolated farms make for great survival retreats, one should be aware of the difficulties of asking for help when bad people show up.

    How to manage this problem is not easy. Usually, people in the nearby towns are so poor that they will hide these gang members and will lie about those stealing from the farms to protect them from the law. Hiring someone from these towns is like playing Russian roulette. A huge percentage of these robberies (even at gunpoint) are committed by thugs that previously managed to get hired on the farms so that they could secretly collect all the intel they needed on how to best rob the place.

    How many laborers, windows, rooms, safes, valuables, vehicles, guard dogs, and guards are all common bits of information these hired hands will find out for their buddies. While I don’t portray my country as a land of outright violence, the existence of huge gangs with names like “The Train of Aragua” is a fact that can’t be ignored. These are almost paramilitary organizations, rivaling in cruelty and as dangerous as the Maras from El Salvador.

    They seem to be interested in larger haciendas with vast commercial operations rather than small mom and pop farms. However, predators tend to choose easy prey.

Read the whole thing.

  • I've subscribed to a Grey Zone Dispatch from Forward Observer which gives little nuggets of information here and there, including this warning of riots coming this summer:
     I'm seeing some of the same indicators now as we saw in the days and weeks leading up to the worst of the George Floyd riots of 2020.
    The same popular social media accounts active in the summer two years ago are active now -- some of them reactivating after many months of inactivity.

     They're sharing the same types of best practices on organizing and joining affinity groups, as well as general advice for direct action demonstrations, tactics for overcoming a police presence, providing first aid, practicing digital and physical security, and overall movement strategy.

     These accounts are also sharing memes that call for violence, while agitating against law enforcement, anti-abortion groups, and conservatives.

  • "Are Food Riots Coming to the U.S.?"--Organic Prepper. This article is mostly a run down of recent events concerning food shortages around the world. I would not be surprised if we did see riots. I have theorized that the real reason for the 1934 National Firearms Act was due to the numerous food riots that broke out across the nation in 1931 and 1932 due to a mixture of drought and the onset of the Great Depression as well as other civil unrest in the early 1930s. In that post, I noted the the 1931 Food Riot in England, Arkansas, as well as the February 1931 Minneapolis food riot, subsequently food riots that broke out in San Francisco, Oklahoma City, St. Paul, Van Dyke, and many other cities; as well as the Ford Hunger March, sometimes called the Ford Massacre, which was a demonstration of unemployed workers that took place on March 7, 1932, in Dearborn, Mich, which resulted in the deaths of five marchers after police and Ford security guards opened fire. 
  • "Power-up bag"--Backwoods Home Magazine. The author observes that in an emergency a smart phone can be one of your most important assets, especially when outfitted with apps allowing you to monitor news, use maps and get directions, offering a digital compass, and access to first aid or other instruction. Thus, a key prep may be figuring out how to power your cell phone (or other small device). The author describes putting together a small bag or case to hold a battery pack and few charger cables will easily fit into a vehicle’s glove box, or a slightly large bag or case for 12-volt DC and 5-volt USB adapters, LED flashlight, portable radio, fold-up solar module, power inverter, and extra battery power packs.
  • "Small engine maintenance for women" by Michelle Richards, Backwoods Home Magazine. Small engine maintenance doesn't discriminate between men and women: this is a great article for anyone on the difference between small two- and four-cycle engines, as well as basic use and maintenance tips. 

VIDEO: "Bro v Wade" (3 min.)

News & Headlines:

    India, the second-largest producer of wheat, has banned exports of the commodity, due to a risk to its food security. 

    A Friday notice in the government gazette signed by Santosh Kumar Sarangi, the Director General of Foreign Trade, said that a "sudden spike" in the global prices of wheat was putting India, neighboring and other vulnerable countries at risk. 

    The export of wheat will be allowed in case of shipments where an Irrevocable Letter of Credit (ICLC) had been issued on or before the date of the notice and "on the basis of permission granted by the Government of India to other countries to meet their food security needs and based on the request of their governments." 

Just because I had to look it up, I thought some of you might also not know exactly what is an ICLC. "An irrevocable letter of credit (ILOC) is a guarantee for payment issued by a bank for goods and services purchased, which cannot be cancelled during some specified time period." The Fox Business article goes on to note that although India is the second largest producer of wheat in the world, it also consumes almost all of what it produces. "The nation had set a goal of exporting 10 million tons from 2022 to 2023, much of which would have gone to other developing countries like Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand," and still may if those countries can cough up enough cash. As I've been saying, food will follow the money, which has the effect of draining food out of poorer countries to richer countries (or, even in the same country, from poorer provinces to richer provinces). India's actions is a recognition of this means that they are intending on heading off the civil unrest that would follow a shortage of basic foodstuffs. The G20-Insights noted in 2020:

During the last two decades agricultural trade has increased substantially. One consequence of this is that almost 20 percent of all calories consumed worldwide are provided by traded food. A number of emerging economies and newly developed countries are now main actors in world trade. Some countries like China, Korea and Saudi Arabia have become large net importers as a consequence of the rapid increase of consumption resulting from economic growth and a growing middle class. Others like Brazil, Argentina and Thailand have modernized their agricultures, improved the use of their ample natural resources, increased exponentially their production and are now main net exporters. The end result of these processes is that five countries (China, Korea, Japan, Russia and Saudi Arabia) are responsible for about 40% of food net imports and seven countries (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, Thailand and USA) account for about 55% of total food net exports.  

Or, as they sum up, "Trade is a central element for global food security." So, if countries begin limiting food exporters limit their international sales of food, it decreases food security in other nations, particularly the major net importers.

    China obviously had intelligence or other information that forewarned them of a coming food crises because the CCP began substantially increasing food reserves (what the MSM calls "hoarding") sometime last year. I don't know when, but it was early enough that people began noticing at the beginning of the year. In fact, in a January 4 op-ed in Bloomberg, the author attempted to blame China's "hoarding" for the inflated food prices in the United States. But here is the interesting part from the article: "By mid-2022, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, China will hold 69% of the world’s corn reserves, 60% of its rice and 51% of its wheat." Also, "[i]n November, after a vaguely worded government missive about potential shortfalls this winter caused nationwide panic, agricultural officials announced that China had enough wheat stockpiled to last 18 months."

    Perhaps China was already aware of Putin's plans to invade the Ukraine, knew that it would disrupt Ukraine's ability to produce and export grain, and strongly believed that the Biden Administration would react by imposing sanctions on Russia thereby disrupting Russia's ability to export grain? Perhaps the stockpiling is in preparation for an invasion of Taiwan and the economic sanctions and blockade that would follow? Perhaps it was with an eye on the disruptions to supply chains caused by the overreaction to the Covid-19 pandemic? Perhaps it was all of these, or some combination? Or something that I can't think of? 

    Unfortunately, it won't work for China because, being China and being Communists, corruption will gum up any method of distribution of the food to its population. We see this already in the distribution of food to those in lockdown in China due, supposedly, to contain Covid outbreaks. Party officials and petty bureaucrats are stealing the best for themselves, selling off a sizable portion of the remainder, and letting much of the rest of it to rot. I doubt that Chinese grain storage facilities actually hold anywhere near as much grain in actuality as they do on paper due to corruption. Arthur Hubber explained in The Fate of Empires how Communism relies on pure reason to work. He believed it was possible. I don't. Nature won't allow it because it is easier to directly work on satisfying your self-interest than to work for the good of society and benefit indirectly from something that benefits everyone. Especially in an amoral society, as Communism always constructs, where neither the rule of law or the markets acts as a restraint. 

    But I had an even darker thought the other day when considering the sheer volume of wokeisms that had been inserted and interwoven into the latest Disney/Marvel movie, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. By the mid-20th Century, most of the signs and symptoms of societal collapse had been documented. Some were understood much earlier. While I have tried to use the works of these scholars to gain some insight to what we can expect, one could just as easily use the information to lay out a rough road map on how to destroy a society. A group could have decided to do so for their own purposes, perhaps purposes that they deem to ultimately be the best for mankind, such as reducing the population to 500 million as set out on the Georgia Guidestones. Perhaps to remake society into something else. Perhaps for revenge.  Obviously something that I will need to further consider.

Obviously not a fan of BLM and Black Nationalists.

    Anonymous Conservative believes that the shooter was an MK-Ultra wind-up toy released to kill in order to generate sympathy for gun control or some other Leftist cause. Certainly the usual suspects are already calling for more gun control and ... wait for it ... more control over social media. The reasoning behind the latter apparently is because the shooter published a manifesto on 4Chan and briefly streamed his shooting to Twitchy. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said, according to The Hill, that "social media platforms must be held responsible for allowing Gendron to publish the manifesto online, arguing hateful ideas were 'spreading through social media platforms that need to be monitored and shut down the second these words are espoused.'" So maybe the shooting had more to do with the impending purchase of Twitter by Elon Musk than gun control. 

    But on to motive. The shooter has admitted he was targeting the black community. Even if we are simply dealing with a disturbed person (if he was a favored minority he would be described as a "child" or "teen"), this didn't come out of nowhere. I haven't read the shooter's manifesto, but based on the few media reports I've read discussing his motivation and what is on his rifle, that his radicalization or madness or whatever you want to call it went in its particular direction is at least as much a consequence of the BLM/Antifa protests and the coddling of those groups by the media and Soros-owned prosecutors as any other factor. 

    That’s down from the government’s previous plan to see a 10-year sentence with terrorism enhancement, discussed in an October 2021 Brooklyn federal court hearing during which Mattis and Rahman each previously pleaded guilty to one count of possessing and making a destructive device.

    The original indictment included a 40-year mandatory minimum count and Mattis and Rahman risked a punishment of life imprisonment, according to N.Y. Daily News. The duo spent weeks in jail following their initial arrest on May 30, 2020, but have been on home confinement for most of the past two years.

In other words, the prosecutors are seeking a prison sentence that, if the home confinement is considered part of their time served, would allow the two terrorist to walk free after the sentence is handed down. Compare this against the harsh sentences being imposed on people that just walked through the Capital Building on Jan. 6, 2021. The rule of law is collapsing before our eyes.

    Who is behind Ruth Sent Us?

    It certainly isn't Ruth Bader Ginsburg, after whom the group is named, who would have been disgusted by the harassment of her colleagues. Ginsburg had been a good friend of the late Antonin Scalia and had been critical of Roe v. Wade's unsustainable expansiveness. Alito’s leaked draft even quotes her. While Ruth Sent Us falsely claims that Gingsberg believed that, "black lives matter", the former justice was actually harshly critical of anthem protests.

    She would have been even less fond of harassing justices in their homes.

    Ruth Sent Us is meant to appear grassroots. In reality, it’s interlinked with a much larger network of leftist organizations. The site was registered by Sam Spiegel, the director of digital media at an anti-Trump PAC known as Unseat whose email contact is listed as Vigil for Democracy.

    Unseat and Vigil for Democracy also appear to share a post office box in Palo Alto, California.

    Vigil for Democracy, another anti-Trump group, had organized previous Supreme Court rallies.

    Ruth Sent Us promotes activism through something called Strike for Choice which its Twitter account describes as "one of the national strikes under the Vigil For Democracy umbrella."

    Strike for Choice solicits donations to pay protesters, asking potential donors "would you commit to donating $58 [$7.25], $80 [$10] or $120 [$15] to support a person giving up paid work?"

    The protest fundraising is being conducted through Open Collective, a leftist financial sponsor, which had previously partnered with the Digital Infrastructure Fund backed by $605,000 from the Ford Foundation, $50,000 from leftist Persian billionaire Pierre Omidyar, and $100,000 from George Soros' Open Society Foundation.

    Most early Vigil for Democracy events took place in San Francisco and the group still appears to be centered around the Bay Area. Vigil appears to be obsessed with "desegregating Foothills Park", also the particular fixation of Vara Ramakrishnan, a tech CEO's wife and a member of Raging Grannies who had organized previous protests, and has been described as a Vigil for Democracy “volunteer”. While her husband only made a single political donation to Kamala Harris, Vara is a frequent donor to Democrats including Hillary Clinton and Obama.

    Democrat-allied unions and ultra-woke school administrators used the disruption of normal education schedules to further impose far-left propaganda on students. This would include a divisive, decidedly unscientific and anti-parent LGBTQ agenda that has children questioning their sexual identities, and the tragedy of teachers foisting anti-American ideas such as Critical Race Theory on school kids, further dividing American children by race, class and identity.

    The goal, of course, is to turn them into good little cadres for the social revolution that the progressive, far-left wing of the Democratic Party (now the majority) is desperately trying to shove down America’s collective throat.

    This is nothing new on the left. For the left, propaganda in the schools is everything. As Soviet dictator Vladimir Lenin reportedly observed, “Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have planted will never be uprooted.”

    Yearbooks at a central Florida high school won't be distributed until images of students holding rainbow flags and a “love is love” sign while protesting the state's so-called “Don't Say Gay” law can be covered up.

    District officials said they don't want anyone thinking that the school supported the students' walkout.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Ukraine War Update (May 13, 2022)

 You may have already read this since the Institute for the Study of War seems to be one of the major go-to sites for information on the war, but their May 11 assessment noted that "Russian forces did not make any significant advances anywhere in Ukraine on May 11, and Ukrainian forces took further ground northeast of Kharkiv." The Ukrainian successes apparently were forcing Russian commanders to shift forces from those fronts where Russia intended on making their advances. Yesterday's (May 12) assessment mentions what seem to be the consequences, noting that "Russian forces may be abandoning efforts at a wide encirclement of Ukrainian troops along the Izyum-Slovyansk-Debaltseve line in favor of shallower encirclements of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk," and that "[i]t is unclear if Russian forces can encircle, let alone capture, Severodonetsk and Lysychansk even if they focus their efforts on that much-reduced objective." 

The Ukrainian counteroffensive around Kharkiv is also forcing the Russian command to make hard choices, as it was likely intended to do.  The UK Ministry of Defense reports that Russian forces pulled back from Kharkiv have been sent toward Rubizhne and Severodonetsk but at the cost of ceding ground in Kharkiv from which the Russians had been shelling the city.  The counteroffensive is also forcing Russian units still near the city to focus their bombardment on the attacking Ukrainian troops rather than continuing their attacks on the city itself.  The Ukrainian counteroffensive near Kharkiv is starting to look very similar to the counteroffensive that ultimately drove Russian troops away from Kyiv and out of western Ukraine entirely, although it is too soon to tell if the Russians will make a similar decision here.

It also interesting to observe that Russian forces have yet to capture or completely neutralize the Ukrainian forces at the steel plant in Mariupol. 

Russian forces continued to conduct air and artillery strikes against Ukrainian positions in the Azovstal Steel Plant on May 12. Russian troops notably did not conduct a ground offensive on Azovstal on May 12 but rather focused on blocking Ukrainian defenders from using tunnels to exit the plant.

This is not to say that the Russians are completely stymied. "Russian forces made marginal gains to the north of Severodonetsk and have likely captured Rubizhne and Voevodivka," and "Russian forces are strengthening their position on Snake Island in an effort to block Ukrainian maritime communications and capabilities in the northwestern Black Sea on the approaches to Odesa."

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense stated that the Russian grouping on Snake Island is trying to improve its position on the island in an effort to block Ukrainian maritime communications and capabilities in the northwestern Black Sea, particularly toward Odesa. The Ukrainian General Staff noted that Russian forces have built up their air defense system in Western Crimea in a likely attempt to provide air cover for naval activities in the northwestern Black Sea.

    Some other headlines: 

    Tech firms are buying up new washing machines so they can harvest their computer parts in a desperate bid to beat the global microchip shortage.

    Once solely used in PCs and mobile phones, semiconductors are now vital in cars, kitchen appliances, TVs, smart speakers, thermostats, smart light bulbs and even some dog collars.

    Microchip manufacturers are unable to meet the ever-growing demand – accelerated by families buying more computers and gadgets during lockdown – as it takes two years and billions of pounds to build each factory.

    Severe shortages have hit production at multinational firms, from car giants such as Tesla and Ford to appliance firms such as Bosch and Hotpoint and video games console makers Sony and Microsoft.

    Hardest hit are car makers, which can end up with vehicles worth £100,000 or more stuck in factories because they cannot get hold of basic chips that two years ago cost just £1.

    They are now having to resort to buying washing machines and cannibalising them for semiconductors rather than wait six months with such expensive goods stuck in a factory.

    Modern washing machines can contain several chips which allow the operation of touchscreen displays, wi-fi connection, load weight sensors and fault detectors.

    Troops shot in the legs screaming in pain. Others dying from blood loss and shock. With no one around to provide medical assistance. A Russian soldier crucified on an anti-tank barrier, chained to a metal ‘hedgehog’ and then burned alive…

    For many, graphic footage of Russian servicemen tortured and killed by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and nationalist battalions, came as a real shock. But this did not surprise those who are familiar with the ‘traditions’ of Ukraine’s ‘fighters for national freedom’, as they have more than a century of history in this sort of thing.

While the article is intended to paint the Ukrainians as cold-hearted, murderous bastards, it seems to actually underline the intense animosity that exists between Ukrainians and Russians.

  • Even longer read: "Briefing: analysis of documents related to the military biological activities of the United States on the territory of Ukraine May 11, 2022"--The Saker. It would be easy to dismiss this a propaganda except that the federal government has a long history of contracting out work or activities to foreign nations and private companies that it is not legally permitted to do itself, whether it is the CIA holding prisoners in foreign countries to conduct interrogation that would be illegal here, having arrangements (e.g., Five-Eyes) with foreign intelligence agencies (or domestic police agencies, looking at you NYPD) to conduct surveillance inside the United States that it would otherwise be illegal for the federal intelligence agencies to perform, the NIH conducting gain-of-function research in China using a private company as a mediary because it was illegal for the NIH to conduct such research, programs like Operation Chokepoint to weaponize the financial industry against disfavored industries, to the countless "contractors" and "consultants", the cozy relationships between the FBI, CIA and media outlets (the phony Russian dossier ring a bell). So it would not be shocking to the see the Feds attempt to get around both Congressional and treaty restrictions on bio-weapons research by having some other country conduct the research.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

The War Zone: "Fake David Attenborough Voice Narrates The ‘Natural’ Death Of A Russian Tank"

 The article is here. Watch the first embedded version as it is about 15 seconds longer.

Let's Go Brandon: "Biden administration cancels oil and gas lease sales in Alaska, Gulf of Mexico"

 You can find the story at The Hill. Key part:

    The Interior Department will not move forward with planned oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska’s Cook Inlet, it announced Wednesday night. 

    A spokesperson for the department confirmed the Cook Inlet lease sale would not proceed due to insufficient industry interest. Meanwhile, the planned sale of two leases, lease 259 and lease 261, in the Gulf of Mexico will not proceed due to contradictory court rulings on the leases, the spokesperson confirmed. 

    Shortly after taking office, President Biden signed an executive order freezing all new oil and gas leasing on federal lands. Last summer, Judge James Cain, a Trump appointee, struck down the ruling, prompting the Biden administration to appeal.

    Meanwhile, in January, the Washington, D.C., District Court invalidated another Gulf of Mexico lease sold by the federal government, lease 257. The administration is not appealing the January ruling, although it affects a separate lease from the ones named by the Interior spokesperson. 

And this:

“I’m glad Cook Inlet belugas won’t be forced to face even more oil drilling in their only habitats, but much more must be done to protect these endangered whales from offshore drilling,” Kristen Monsell, Oceans legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity, told The Hill in a statement. “To save imperiled marine life and protect coastal communities and our climate from pollution, we need to end new leasing and phase out existing drilling.”

    The dirty little secret to this is that the environmental groups and the feds (or sometimes a utility) will basically agree off the books to the environmental group suing the feds, and the feds will in turn fold and either essentially let the Nature Nazis win or stipulate to an agreement with the Nature Nazis to settle the case. Then the feds can say "hey, we tried to follow the law as to the lease and/or allowing development, but we were sued and lost."  

    Reading between the lines, I think that is what is going on here, and why there is little interest by oil companies to obtain leases where the lease is going to be contested and the companies will probably never be able to actually drill or will have the lease later yanked. For instance, reading above, we see that the Biden Administration is appealing the court order to overturning Biden's freezing of new oil leases, while also not appealing a decision invalidating a lease. The Administration does not want to allow drilling and will use all means available to it, fair or foul, to stop such drilling.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Forward to the Past? The New M5 Carbine

If you haven't already heard, the Army has selected a new infantry carbine (the XM-5) and squad automatic weapon (XM250), both chambered in 6.8x51mm. With the Army also planning on converting the M240 to use the 6.8x51mm, the Army will finally realize its long held dream to have a single cartridge for its small arms. (Except it won't because non-combat soldiers will still be using M4s and, of course, there are those darn 9mm handguns, but let's not spoil the dream).

    The military is being all hush-hush about the performance of the new round. However, Sig has released a civilian version to the market--the .277 Fury--which gives us some insight into the cartridge and its capabilities. As you may have already guessed from the metric dimensions, the .277 Fury is, kinda-sorta, a necked down .308 cartridge, something to keep in mind for further discussion below. But because it operates at chamber pressures of 80,000 psi, Sig had to design a new hybrid case using a stainless steel base that attaches to a brass walled upper. This allows 135 and 140 grain bullets to be launched at 3,000 fps and 2,950 fps, respectively, out of a 16-inch barrel. A 150 grain bullet drops the muzzle velocity to 2,900 fps. Those are impressive numbers for shooting out of a 16-inch test barrel. The cartridge also boasts 6 to 9 feet less bullet drop at 1,000 yards than the 6.5 Creedmoor. And it is all because of the greater chamber pressure. 

    The reason for the new cartridge is supposed to be two-fold: (i) it provides a greater effective range--some 300 meters more than the effective range of the standard infantry rounds used by the Russians and the Chinese--and (ii) it is supposed to offer greater penetration against the body armor expected to be fielded by Russian troops (but which don't seem to have been used--at least to any great degree--in the Ukrainian conflict) and the Chinese military.

    The greater effective range, of course, is dependent on soldiers being able to see and accurately target their enemies on the battlefield. Otherwise, all that extra power is wasted. To this end, the military will also be outfitting the rifles with a new optic system: the XM157 Next Generation Fire Control System. This is a 1-8x LPVO that, while it uses an etched reticle in case the battery dies or the electronics are damaged, is able to correct for windage, angle and distance for different projectiles and project a corresponding targeting dot. In addition, it can share information between members of a unit so that if one soldier is able to tag a target with the system, that information can be shared with other soldiers (or, I'm sure, overhead drones, guided munitions, etc.--you get the idea). Using this system, every infantryman will, in theory, be an expert marksman. 

    While the greater effective range is believable (provided the XM157 works as intended), I have my doubts about the increased effectiveness against body armor. It is well known that bullet penetration of body armor is mostly dependent on velocity, and the magic velocity for Level IV is about 4,000 fps for standard copper jacketed bullets: well above the muzzle velocity of the new 6.8x51 cartridge. That means that the military is going to be relying instead on special penetrator rounds to achieve penetration at a lower velocity. But how much lower? And how expensive will be those rounds? 

    So, those are the upsides to the system. What about the downsides? The video from the military arms channel embedded below discusses the probably downsides in detail and I suggest you watch it if you have the time.

If you don't have time, here are the highlights:

  • It weighs more than the current M4. Much more. The bare bone XM5--no suppressor or sights--is 8.38 pounds (vs. 6.43 lbs for the stripped M4). With the suppressor that is supposed to be used with each rifle, the weight goes up to 9.84 pounds. Vortex hasn't released information on the weight of the XM157 optic, but for comparison a basic Vortex Strike Eagle 1-8 LPVO is 17.6 ounces. With the extra electronics on the XM157, I think that doubling of that weight is probably not unreasonable, so about 2.3 pounds. In other words, the Army's new rifle, in its standard configuration, will probably be running about 11 pounds or so. By comparison, the M14 was only 9.2 lbs., and it was considered to be too heavy.
  • The high chamber pressures will wear out barrels very quickly. Which means frequent barrel changes, especially if the military brass expects those rifles to actually still be accurate out to 800+ yards.
  • Although it is not known what will be the magazine capacity selected by the Army--20 or 25 rounds--it will be less than the 30-rounds standard for the M16/M4 or Chinese or Russian weapons.
  • The Army touts that the cartridge weighs less than the .308, but it weighs more (a lot more) than the 5.56. So soldiers will not be able to carry as much ammunition. I can't find specifics on the cartridge weight, but the design is supposed to be 20% less than a similar sized brass cartridge.
  • The recoil is supposed to be less than a .308, but probably not much less. If you watch the video above, they have clips of various people shooting the weapon; and it is readily apparent from those clips that the recoil is substantial and that the weapon will be uncontrollable in full auto. Yes, I know that all rifles are uncontrollable in full auto to one extent or another, but this appears to be in line with M14 or FAL uncontrollable. And check out the fool that tried shooting it with the butt high on the shoulder like you can get away with using a 5.56. With this new rifle and cartridge, we will probably see the return of the much derided "chicken wing" as soldiers learn to lift their elbow a bit to create a better pocket in which to tuck the butt of the rifle. 
The recoil may, in the end, spell the doom of the new cartridge. As discussed in the video, the higher recoil will likely result in lower qualification scores, particularly among smaller soldiers (e.g., female recruits), which could result in something similar to what we saw with the FBI's adoption of the 10mm. That is, the FBI believed that the 9mm was inadequate and so it adopted the 10mm. It then  saw qualification scores fall off due to the size and recoil of the new cartridge, switched to a lower power 10mm to compensate, then to the .40 S&W since there was no longer the need for the longer 10mm case, and then when it was apparent the .40 S&W was not any better than the 9mm in any practical sense, returned to the 9mm. 

    My own thoughts are somewhat mixed as to the rifle and cartridge. On the one hand, I just put together a lightweight AR10 in .308 with a 16-inch barrel to serve as a modernized version or interpretation of the Scout Rifle concept (although mine is much lighter than the M5), the idea being to have a sort-of "do it all" rifle that could be used for hunting but pressed into duty as a defensive rifle if need be. So I can understand wanting a rifle that can reach out and touch someone at longer distances.

    On the other hand, it is hard not to draw comparisons between this rifle and cartridge combination and the decision making that led to the adoption of the M14. The M14 was the product of military brass wanting to simplify logistics by having a rifle and cartridge that could do everything (and do it out to five or six hundred yards), but produced a rifle that was too heavy and had too much recoil to be useful for the common infantryman. 

    More than the problems inherent with using a high pressure round and the issue of recoil, I believe that what will make or break this project is the weight of the weapon and the ammunition. I have to wonder if there is not some exo-skeleton system out there that the Army also plans on adopting.

Docent's Memo (May 16, 2022)

VIDEO: " S&W J Frame Trigger Spring Kit Install " (10 min.) If you want to lighten the trigger pull on a J-frame, this video s...