Friday, August 7, 2020

New Weekend Knowledge Dump...

 ... from Greg Ellifritz at Active Response Training. With the high gun sales, much of which is attributed to new buyers, there has been a plethora of articles aimed at those that are firearm novices generally, or may be novices as to particular platforms. This roundup of articles and videos is no different with several articles aimed at people new to the AR15 platform, shooting pocket pistols, what is M-LOK, etc. 

      There is more, however. Ellifritz links to an article comparing the Weaver and isosceles stances for shooting pistols (I've know that the isosceles is supposed to be better, and I've practiced it, but I still prefer a modified Weaver stance);  off-body concealed carry for the disabled (e.g., fanny-packs and a holster designed to attack to a wheel-chair); a look back at the San Bernardino shooters/terrorists; links to several videos on different aspects of using a shotgun for self-defense; an article about the effectiveness of the less-lethal rubber buckshot rounds; reloading your 37-mm rounds (Ellifritz warns against breaking Federal law, but I'm not sure if he is warning against loading certain types of projectiles, or if he mixed up the legal 37-mm launchers with the NFA controlled 40-mm launchers); defending against animal attacks; and more.

    One of the articles to which he links is from The Armory Life blog, on the topic of "Controlling Your Fear." And, as the title suggests, the topic of the article are some different methods to manage or overcome fears. I would, however, remind readers that you do not want to render yourself fearless or unnecessarily dismiss fear. Fear is a warning device and if we listen to it, it can save your life. It operates at the lizard-brain level, but can be subconsciously informed by the reasoning portion of our brain. What often leads us to ignore it is the monkey-brain not wanting to lose face, or our rationalizing away fears. 

     I recently finished reading Marc MacYoung's book In the Name of Self-Defense: What it costs. When it's worth it and he discusses how fear can be useful to warn us of impending danger. He, in turn, recommended The Gift of Fear: And Other Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence by Gavin de Becker, which I also recently finished, and it goes into more detail about fear responses and other subconscious ways that our brain warns us of potential danger. As de Becker explains, violent crime is rarely out of the blue, but people generally can sense that something is wrong, although it may show up in different ways (e.g., joking about someone in the office going postal, a creepy vibe, etc.). 

      I would highly recommend MacYoung's book, and would also recommend de Becker's book. I will warn you that de Becker is a hoplophobe and takes the position that you are worse off having a firearm for self-defense than otherwise. The last few chapters of his book also focus more on threats to famous people or organizations, and read more like advertising copy for his security consulting company. Nevertheless, I still recommend the book because the good far outweighs the bad.

Wilder: "How Bad The Economic Crash Really Is"

John Wilder's almost latest article is on the subject of "How Bad The Economic Crash Really Is." Written in his normal humorous manner, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry reading it. The basic fact, however, is that the economy has been dealt what may be a death blow because of the reaction to the coronavirus. Wilder discusses what has brought us to this point, notes that the dollar is beginning to slide in value (while silver and gold are going up), and predicts we will go through a deflationary period followed by inflation (and, as he points out, we are already seeing inflation as to food-stuffs). But more ominously, Wilder believes that the reaction to the pandemic is the black-swan event to bring in a Joseph Tainter style collapse (or at least, de-evolution) of our complex system. He writes:

       Watching a complex system fail always provides unexpected consequences.  The system has been headed toward failure for years.  Without the extraordinary efforts of 2008, it probably would have collapsed then.  I think it was far closer to collapse than most people were aware.

       The downside of putting off a system failure is that the pressure from the underlying causes keeps building up.  When it inevitably finally does fail, it fails spectacularly, and much worse than if failure had happened earlier.  When huge failures happen, sometimes civilization doesn’t recover for hundreds of years.

Read the whole thing. 

Thursday, August 6, 2020

POTD: Best COVID-19 Mask

Seen on the Internet...

A Quick Run Around The Web (8/6/2020)

"Choosing Pepper Spray for Everyday Carry"--Lucky Gunner Ammo (26 min.)
One thing I want to comment on with regard to this video is a throw-away statement about pepper-spray having fewer consequences than using a firearm. The statement seem to imply that you would not face jail time or serious legal consequences. That is not true, of course. Like anytime you use force, you have to demonstrate that the elements of self-defense and what you did was reasonable. You would have to check state laws on whether pepper spray is considered a deadly weapon in your jurisdiction, but even if it were not, you could still be arrested for simple assault and battery, and face a civil suit for damages if the use of the pepper spray was not justified. The advantage is that a civil suit would involve far less damages than a wrongful death suit, and on the criminal side, you might get off with a misdemeanor. 

        The fundamentals of responding to a threat are: Move, Communicate, using Cover, Shooting - if or as needed, and Thinking. Moving -- your immediate response -- should be done in conjunction with drawing your pistol. Now, think about your last practice session. Did it include these fundamentals? Or, was it a shooting session? If your practice isn’t based on the use of these fundamental skills you have to ask yourself, “Am I really preparing to use this weapon in a defensive situation?”

        Practicing to move while drawing the pistol isn’t difficult -- even if you don’t have a live fire range that allows you to practice this. Keep in mind, the vast majority of your practice should be “dry.” With dummy firearms it’s easy to work on the basics without needing or having to go to the range. And, like I always preach, the return for your time and effort is much greater during dry work than live fire practice.

        Moving in response to danger isn't natural; it goes against every natural instinct we have. So, it’s going to require plenty of practice to override the instinctual desire to root to the ground. Movement and drawing your weapon should occur together. Ideally, you want to get to the point where it feels awkward to stand still while drawing your weapon.

       “But,” you ask, “what if the situation I face is an exception, and I don’t need to move?” When you get to the point where you’ve actually learned a skill – you can apply it on demand under any conditions – it’s actually easy to choose not to include that action in your response. But, it’s extremely difficult -- if not impossible -- to remember to do something that you haven’t learned.
Though today’s KISS principle in firearms training (“keep it simple, stupid”) de-emphasizes auto pistols with manual safeties, those so equipped have saved countless cops and armed citizens when a bad guy got hold of their gun, tried to shoot the good guy, and couldn’t because they were unable to find the “turn-on switch.” A semi-auto with a manual safety is also one more layer of protection if something gets caught in the triggerguard when holstering a loaded handgun.
  • "Beretta PX4 Storm Compact 9mm Pistol – Review"--Ammo Land. The article also references and includes photos from the 50,000 round test performed by Ernest Langdon (of Langdon Tactical Technology).
  • "Viridian Introduces World’s First Hand Stop Laser"--The Firearm Blog. This is a good idea. I much prefer a laser that is offset directly below the bore from one that is to one side or other, or, more commonly, both vertically and horizontally offset.
  • "Rule Breaker: The 21-Foot Standard Is Misunderstood" by Tom Grieve at USCCA. This is an important article. Grieve reminds us that the "21-foot rule" is not a rule, but a deadline: it is the distance at which, on average, a police officer no longer has time to draw his gun and get off a shot before a person charging with a knife will be able to strike the officer. It doesn't mean that a criminal within 21 feet is automatically deemed to be an imminent deadly threat; and it doesn't mean that a criminal beyond 21 feet does not present an imminent deadly threat. 
  • "Less-Lethal Crowd Defense: A New Reality" by Scott W. Wagner at USCCA. Since most companies won't actually sell riot control OC sprays, the author suggests looking at bear spray; specifically, the Frontiersman Bear Attack OC Spray in the 7.9-ounce Fog Blast Canister manufactured by Sabre. "Frontiersman’s fog blast delivery system," he writes, "can instantly diffuse through a large outdoor area, distracting multiple threats simultaneously. Stream, gel and foam OC delivery systems do not have the ability to keep their OC airborne long enough for a distraction effect."
  • For those wondering how to stop a large vehicle: "SWAT Sniper Takes Out Semi-Truck Engine To Stop 3 Hour Pursuit"--Law Officer. A .50 BMG rifle, of course. The driver was then disabled by police using a Taser and a Foam Baton.
  • "Where Does Mexico Really Get Its Guns?"--Crime Prevention Research Center. Guatemala, Nicaragua, China, and other foreign countries for the most part.
  • "All The Gear I Pack on A Day Hike: Everything You Need"--Range to Reel. A discussion of the sizes of day packs and what might best serve you, as well as equipment for different lengths of hikes. For instance:
      You should always carry a water filter on any hike. It doesn’t matter if you’re going on a short 1 hour hike, you never know when you might need it.

      You never know when you’ll run into an emergency and need to filter water. For the price of a Sawyer Squeeze water filter it’s stupid not to carry one in your pack. Instead of a water bottle you might want to use the disposable Sawyer squeeze packs that fold up when not in use.
  • "Red Cross Apps Guide Survivalists through Natural Disasters"--Ready 4 It All. It has been a long time since the report from the Haiti earthquake of one survivor patching up a serious injury with the help of an iPhone application. This article looks at some of the mobile phone applications that are available to warn about disasters and what to do.

  • "Tear gas and pepper spray: What protesters need to know"--Craig Bettenhausen at Chemical & Engineering News. A nice article, courtesy of the American Chemical Society, describing various chemical irritants used for crowd control and how they work. And, in case you are exposed to such agents:
            So what should you do if you’re exposed to tear gas or pepper spray?

           Get away from the area, and wash with copious amounts of water—especially your hands and face, Blum says. Kaszeta also recommends “flapping your arms like a chicken” to shake off loose particles and help evaporate volatile components. Water accelerates the breakdown of CS via hydrolysis to malononitrile and o-chlorobenzaldehyde. Alkaline water (pH 9) substantially accelerates that reaction, though JK cautions against using high-pH water on your eyes. Hong Kong protesters have used water saturated with baking soda, which creates a basic solution, to treat exposure to tear gas.

           OC, on the other hand, doesn’t undergo hydrolysis. Still, water can soothe its effects, and soap can help wash the irritating compound away. Some protesters use milk or milk of magnesia to neutralize the riot-control agents on the scene, but little to no data supports those treatments as effective.

           Kaszeta says that most of the effect of riot-control agents is psychological: “If you get a good lungful of CS, you feel like you can’t breathe, but you actually can.”
     
              • "How Cops Can Secretly Track Your Phone"--The Intercept. A look at StingRay and DRT Boxes ("dirt boxes") devices and how they can be used to intercept and obtain metadata concerning your cell phone or other cellular devices. The primary method the devices are used, according to the article, is to capture the IMSI number (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) associated with the SIM card in the phone. Matched up with data from your cellular provider, they can use this number to learn who owns the cell phone and, thus, who might have been in a particular location (such as at a protest). Law enforcement (or intelligence) can also use this number to get information from all the cell towers that have been pinged by the phone during a prior period and get a good idea at the owner's general movements. But that is not all:
              If law enforcement already knows the IMSI number of a specific phone and person they are trying to locate, they can program that IMSI number into the stingray and it will tell them if that phone is nearby. Law enforcement can also home in on the location of a specific phone and its user by moving the stingray around a geographical area and measuring the phone’s signal strength as it connects to the stingray. The Harris StingRay can be operated from a patrol vehicle as it drives around a neighborhood to narrow a suspect’s location to a specific cluster of homes or a building, at which point law enforcement can switch to the hand-held KingFish, which offers even more precision. For example, once law enforcement has narrowed the location of a phone and suspect to an office or apartment complex using the StingRay, they can walk through the complex and hallways using the KingFish to find the specific office or apartment where a mobile phone and its user are located.

              All this is just using the devices "passively." The article indicates that the devices may be capable of more:
               
                     Stingrays and dirtboxes can be configured for use in either active or passive mode. In active mode, these technologies broadcast to devices and communicate with them. Passive mode involves grabbing whatever data and communication is occurring in real time across cellular networks without requiring the phone to communicate directly with the interception device. The data captured can include the IMSI number as well as text messages, email, and voice calls. 

                     If that data or communication is encrypted, then it would be useless to anyone intercepting it if they don’t also have a way to  decrypt it. Phones that are using 4G employ strong encryption. But stingrays can force phones to downgrade to 2G, a less secure protocol, and tell the phone to use either no encryption or use a weak encryption that can be cracked. They can do this because even though most people use 4G these days, there are some areas of the world where 2G networks are still common, and therefore all phones have to have the ability to communicate on those networks.

                     The versions of stingrays used by the military can intercept the contents of mobile communications — text messages, email, and voice calls — and decrypt some types of this mobile communication. The military also uses a jamming or denial-of-service feature that prevents adversaries from detonating bombs with a mobile phone. 

                     In addition to collecting the IMSI number of a device and intercepting communications, military-grade IMSI catchers can also spoof text messages to a phone, according to David Burgess, a telecommunications engineer who used to work with U.S. defense contractors supporting overseas military operations. Burgess says that if the military knows the phone number and IMSI number of a target, it can use an IMSI catcher to send messages to other phones as if they are coming from the target’s phone. They can also use the IMSI catcher for a so-called man in the middle attack so that calls from one target pass through the IMSI catcher to the target phone. In this way, they can record the call in real time and potentially listen to the conversation if it is unencrypted, or if they are able to decrypt it. The military systems can also send a silent SMS message to a phone to alter its settings so that the phone will send text messages through a server the military controls instead of the mobile carrier’s server.
               
              Also:

              Versions of the devices used by the military and intelligence agencies can potentially inject malware into targeted phones, depending on how secure the phone is. They can do this in two ways: They can either redirect the phone’s browser to a malicious web site where malware can be downloaded to the phone if the browser has a software vulnerability the attackers can exploit; or they can inject malware from the stingray directly into the baseband of the phone if the baseband software has a vulnerability. Malware injected into the baseband of a phone is harder to detect. Such malware can be used to turn the phone into a listening device to spy on conversations. Recently, Amnesty International reported on the cases of two Moroccan activists whose phones may have been targeted through such network injection attacks to install spyware made by an Israeli company. 
              • Hmm. "Images in Eye Reflections"--Schneier on Security. From the post: "In Japan, a cyberstalker located his victim by enhancing the reflections in her eye, and using that information to establish a location."

              A reader sends: "The Next End of the World | Q & A"--Suspicious Observers (11 min.)

                     And battle lines are surely being drawn: left versus right, black and brown versus white, blue states versus red, both coasts versus Middle America, and the American past versus the socialist future that our country’s domestic enemies have planned for us.

                     The death of Americans’ pride in their country, in its cultural, political, and scientific achievements, and in its moral goodness, has been based on a deliberate, malignant Marxist lie that has been uncoiling here for a century, beginning with the penetration of the America media and parts of the government up through World War II, the transplantation of the Frankfurt School communists such as Herbert Marcuse and their doctrine of “critical theory” to American academe in the postwar period, continuing through the Soviet destabilization of the civil rights movement in the 1960s—and culminating in the socialists’ seizure of the Democratic Party.

                      And now, here we are, just a few hundred yards from our own Rubicon. Will the winner of the 2020 election be the savior of the Republic, or its destroyer?

                    Washington, like ancient Rome, nervously awaits.
               
              Walsh can only hope that such a conflict would be limited to being between the states. The reality will be much worse:
               
              I saw men hunting the lives of their own sons, and brother murdering brother, women killing their own daughters, and daughters seeking the lives of their mothers. I saw armies arrayed against armies. I saw blood, desolation, fires. The Son of Man has said that the mother shall be against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother. These things are at our doors. They will follow the Saints of God from city to city. Satan will rage, and the spirit of the devil is now enraged. I know not how soon these things will take place; but with a view of them, shall I cry peace? No; I will lift up my voice and testify of them. How long you will have good crops, and the famine be kept off, I do not know; when the fig tree leaves, know then that the summer is nigh at hand.
               
              ("War in the United States"--LDS Last Days (quoting from The Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 160)).
               
                    In any event, if you countenance Spengler's historical studies, we are (and have been) at the stage when a strong man--a Caesar--should take control of Western Civilization. After the world wars, Europe was left too weak, and the torch of civilization passed to the United States, so it makes sense that such an event might occur here. It is my belief that only the number of arms in the hands of American citizens have prevented strong man rule up to now. But decades of war in the Middle-East has taught the government how to deal with recalcitrant populations. Wide-spread civil disturbance, or a civil war, would be just the opportunity for someone like Caesar or Napoleon to seize control.
               
                     I do not believe that Trump would be such person. I do not believe that Biden is capable of being that person--he is just a puppet and, should he win the election, would be soon replaced by whomever he selects as his running mate. Besides, unlikely as it might currently appear, such a person might actually arise in Europe were the United States to lose its current preeminent position.
              • The Conservative Treehouse contends that military and intelligence contractors (and, by extension, the intelligence agencies) have been using NSA data for purposes of inside trading on the stock markets. The author even suggests that powerful members of government may have been doing the same. I guess the intelligence agencies have stepped up from the tawdry drug trading they relied upon on in the past.
              • "The Choice Before Us: This time, we’ve traveled to the very edge of the abyss."--Roger Kimball at American Greatness. An excerpt, related to the burning of Bibles by protesters in Portland, Oregon:
                     The clips of the savages burning Bibles put me in mind of Heinrich Heine’s solemn observation that Dort wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen: “Wherever people burn books, they also end up burning men.” 

                     It may seem melodramatic, but here is the awful choice we face: the choice between the spirit of mayhem, burning pigs’ heads, and burning Bibles, on the one side, and the traditional American spirit that cherishes the rule of law, free expression, and fructifying engines of prosperity, on the other.  
              • "Defund the Government"--Daniel Greenfield at Frontpage Magazine. He has what I believe to be a reasonable position: if local or state governments aren't going to be providing basic services like police protection, have locked down businesses, and are not going to teach children, then citizens shouldn't have to pay taxes.
              • The usual suspects: "Tides Is the Tip of the Anti-Police Spear"--Capital Research Center. From the article:
                     But BLM and its “defund the police” slogan is far from the only campaign Tides has launched against American law enforcement. The Tides Center’s 501(c)(4) lobbying “sister,” Tides Advocacy, runs the Fund for Fair and Just Policing—a leading group in the campaign to overturn the “stop and frisk” policy enacted by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (D) in the early 2000s.

                    Like all Tides-sponsored groups, the Fund for Fair and Just Policing is a product of the professional Left’s nonprofit netherworld. It was ginned up in 2011 with funding from billionaire George Soros’s Open Society Foundations and Atlantic Philanthropies, a Bermuda-based foundation that also poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the U.S. to push Obamacare through Congress and transform our immigration system—the latter via yet another Tides Advocacy project.

                     Unsurprisingly, Atlantic Philanthropies bestowed the Fund for Fair and Just Policing with $2.2 million “to reform the stop and frisk practices of the New York Police Department.” The fund in turn passed along $8 million to Communities United for Police Reform, a far-left “defund the police” group whose membership includes Black Lives Matter NYC, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Color of Change, and the local SEIU branch.

                     Another Tides project, Fair and Just Prosecution, bills itself as a moderate reform organization. In reality, it employs lawyers from the activist Left and Obama administration aiming to fundamentally transform the criminal justice system by demanding removal of police officers from schools, decriminalizing drugs, expanding the “definition of profiling” to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” and forcing police and prosecutors to “acknowledge and apologize for decades of racially disparate policing and criminal justice practices.”
               
              Also: "Fair and Just Prosecution made headlines this week when it was revealed that the group paid for unreported trips by St. Louis circuit attorney Kim Gardner ... who brought charges against local homeowners Mark and Patricia McCloskey...."
                      In the mid-1990s, I worked around a Scoop Jackson-esque “true believer” Democrat. Good guy, retired veteran, DA civilian. Active in the Democratic party, working his way up the hierarchy from precinct worker to bigger things in the Washington State Democratic Party. He was always proselytizing the Party, which I found annoying, but he was a good guy. He could not see any blemish on the Democrats, in any way–They were his heroes, and the Republicans were all the caricature “baddies” to hear him talk. He was always the “cheerful warrior” for the Democrats, a decent man and fairly good-natured about everything political. You could discuss things with him, and he’d be open to it, none of this “cancel culture” BS we have today.

                     Sometime around the middle of the Clinton Administration, he got picked up to go back east for some party function–A two-week or so seminar of some kind for people identified as up-and-comers in the party structure. I don’t know what the hell went on there, but when he came back, he was a changed, far more somber man. He quit saying anything even remotely positive about the Democrats, and he gradually withdrew from working for the party until he was pretty much just your normal politically inactive guy. He was actually embarrassed to admit being a Democrat, there at the end of the time I was around him. I never could get him to comment about whatever it was that he witnessed or participated in during that training/indoctrination seminar, but something there changed his life.

                     Only thing I ever got out of him about the whole thing was a distressed statement to the effect that “…they’ll be hunting Democrats through the streets with dogs, one of these days… And, they’ll be right to do it…”.

                    I’m really not so sure I want to know what he saw, to tell the truth.
              The global economy has plunged into its deepest recession since the Great Depression of the late 1920s. As many as 200 million people worldwide are threatened by unemployment according to estimates from the International Labor Organization. More than 6 million Germans are currently furloughed from work as part of the federal government’s heavily subsidized "Kurzarbeit” program. Many are likely to be laid off in the coming months. "Let's not fool ourselves, work furlough will unfortunately end in unemployment for many," says Clemens Fuest, the head of Munich’s Ifo Institute, a respected economic think tank. "Germany is getting poorer."
               
              The article also indicates that Germany's gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to shrink by 6.8 percent this year. "But the actual effect that the crisis triggered by the coronavirus will have is much higher, because in the absence of the pandemic, the economy probably would have grown rather than stagnated." The author also points out: "The statistics are packed with socio-political dynamite. If the wealthy ultimately become uncoupled from the rest of the population during the crisis and if the middle class shrinks and poverty in old age becomes the norm, the conditions on which social harmony is based will crumble." Read the whole thing.
                     For those who have rejected Christ and the salvation it promises, the reasoning is actual quite simple. They can claim science or philosophy or other intellectual arguments all they want but ultimately it comes down to accountability. People do not want to be held accountable for their sin and don’t like being reminded of how sinful they all are.  Those who have accepted Christ as their savior are not claiming any “holier than thou” status; the Apostle Paul In his letter to the Romans 3:23, it specifically states that “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God…”

                    Within the last century there have been sects of Christianity who began to ask a particular question; “did God REALLY mean that?”  These groups began to argue that the ancient biblical teachings were no longer relevant according to today’s standard and started to “re-word” scripture to fit into the particular current time.  That of course is still going on today.  They want to “spin” – like a modern-day journalist – what the scripture “REALLY meant” according to a human perspective.  God’s Word was apparently too harsh for the modern ways of life, so it had to be re-interpreted in order to make people feel better about the sin under which they were living.
               
              He goes on to use the story of Eve being deceived into taking the fruit of knowledge of good and evil, and Cain's decision to not offer up a sacrifice of a lamb as examples where Satan convinced someone that God did not really mean what He said.
              • "This Is The First Photo Ever Of A Stealthy Black Hawk Helicopter"--The Drive. An older model, but interesting to see and read a description of what was done to make the helicopter more stealthy. Nothing about reducing the sound emitted from the helicopter, however.
              • "How to build a nuclear warning for 10,000 years’ time"--BBC Future. The issue is how to communicate to people in the distant future that they shouldn't be digging around in a nuclear waste dump. The assumption is that future generations may not understand what the radiation symbol means. An additional assumption is that civilization will have collapsed and so you have to deal with primitives or a people with lower technology than we have today. From the article:
                      “This place is not a place of honor,” reads the text. “No highly esteemed dead is commemorated here… nothing valued is here. What is here was dangerous and repulsive to us. This message is a warning about danger.”

                      It sounds like the kind of curse that you half-expect to find at the entrance to an ancient burial mound. But this message is intended to help mark the site of the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) that has been built over 2,000 feet (610m) down through stable rocks beneath the desert of New Mexico. The huge complex of tunnels and caverns is designed to contain the US military’s most dangerous nuclear waste.

                     This waste will remain lethal longer than the 300,000 years Homo sapiens has walked across the surface of the planet. WIPP is currently the only licensed deep geological disposal repository in operation in the world. A similar facility should also open in Finland in the mid-2020s.

                     When the facility is full sometime in the next 10 to 20 years, the caverns will be collapsed and sealed with concrete and soil. The sprawling complex of buildings that currently mark the site will be erased. In its place will be “our society’s largest conscious attempt to communicate across the abyss of deep time”.

                     The plan calls for huge 25ft (7.6m) tall granite columns marking the four-sq-mile (10 sq km) outer boundary of the entire site. Inside this perimeter, there is an earth berm 33ft (10m) tall and 100ft (30m) wide marking the repository’s actual footprint. Then inside the berm will be another square of granite columns.

                     At the centre of this monumental “Do Not Enter” sign will be a room containing information about the site. In case the information becomes unreadable, there will be another buried 20ft below, and another buried in the earth barrier itself. Detailed information about the WIPP will be stored in many archives around the world on special paper stamped with the instruction that it must be kept for 10,000 years, the rather arbitrary length of the site’s license.

              I think it is a rather pointless exercise to come up with something other than the radiation symbol. The radiation symbol is internationally recognized and will probably continue in use as long as there is a technological civilization. A primitive culture will not be able to decipher our writing, and as long as they see that a consistent symbol (e.g., the radiation symbol) leads to a consistent outcome (radiation sickness or poisoning) they will quickly learn to avoid anything associated with that symbol.

              Wednesday, August 5, 2020

              Aftermath of the Beirut Explosion


              The crater to the left of the photograph is where the warehouse storing the ammonium nitrate once stood. Source: "Lebanon to put some Beirut port officials under house arrest"--AP. The AP also has more photographs here.


                     Online videos of the disaster’s initial moments show sparks and lights inside the smoke rising from the blaze, just prior to the massive blast. That likely indicates that fireworks were involved, said Boaz Hayoun, owner of the Tamar Group, an Israeli firm that works closely with the Israeli government on safety and certification issues involving explosives.

                    “Before the big explosion, you can see in the center of the fire, you can see sparks, you can hear sounds like popcorn and you can hear whistles,” Hayoun told The Associated Press. “This is very specific behavior of fireworks, the visuals, the sounds and the transformation from a slow burn to a massive explosion.”

                      Jeffrey Lewis, a missile expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California, offered a similar assessment.

                      “It looks like an accident,” Lewis told the AP. “First, there was a fire preceding the explosion, which is not an attack. And some of the videos show munitions what I could call popcorning, exploding like ’pop, pop, pop, pop.’”

                      He added that “it’s very common to see fires detonate explosives.”

                     “If you have a fire raging next to something explosive, and you don’t put it out, it blows up,” he said.

                     The white cloud that accompanied the massive blast appeared to be a condensation cloud, often common in massive explosions in humid conditions that can follow the shock waves of an explosion, Lewis said.

                     Orange clouds also followed the blast, likely from toxic nitrogen dioxide gas that’s released after an explosion involving nitrates.

              The article goes on to relate that there were 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in the warehouse. Early estimates of the force of the explosion put it at the equivalent of 1 to 2.2 kilotons of TNT. The article compares this explosion to other similar explosions of fertilizer, including the Texas City explosion that I mentioned yesterday. 

                    Another article I saw said that several other countries have already stepped up to provide monetary aid, including the United States. The Daily Mail is currently reporting 135 dead and 5,000 injured in the explosion, although I'm sure that this number will grow. I would expect, however, that due to the fact that explosion appears to have been away from the more populated business and residential areas, the final number of those killed will likely be less than the Texas City blast. 

              POTD: "The Message"


              Source: The Daily Timewaster

              More on Beirut Explosion: Ammonium Nitrate In Warehouse

              Bellingcat (h/t Instapundit) reports that the warehouse that exploded contained ammonium nitrate (some early reports said sodium nitrate) that had been impounded and sitting there for 6 years! Sitting in a hot warehouse in the middle of summer, fire next door--all the ingredients to a disaster.

              Tuesday, August 4, 2020

              Beirut Explosion and the Texas City Disaster

              News and videos have popped up everywhere about the massive explosion in Beirut. (See video here, and articles with video from NBC New York, Business Insider, Washington Examiner and PJ Media. Based on the video, I suspect that the theory that there was a fire at a fireworks warehouse which spread and detonated sodium nitrate (or ammonium nitrate) in an adjoining warehouse is probably correct. You will note watching the first video linked to above that you can clearly see flashes going off within the smoke from the initial fire which probably were fireworks and then the huge orange cloud from the second explosion. 

                    What the videos are showing is similar to the Texas City disaster of April 16, 1947. Wikipedia relates the general events of that disaster as follows:

                   On April 16, 1947, around 8:00 a.m. smoke was spotted in the cargo hold of the Grandcamp while she was still moored. Over the next hour, attempts to extinguish the fire or bring it under control failed as a red glow returned after each effort to douse the fire.

                    Shortly before 9:00 a.m., the captain ordered his men to steam the hold, a firefighting method where steam is piped in to extinguish fires, in order to preserve the cargo. This was unlikely to be effective, as ammonium nitrate produces its own oxygen, thus neutralizing the extinguishing properties of steam. The steam may have contributed to the fire by converting the ammonium nitrate to nitrous oxide, while augmenting the already intense heat in the ship's hold.[5]

                     The fire attracted spectators along the shoreline, who believed they were at a safe distance.[6] Eventually, the steam pressure inside the ship blew the hatches open, and yellow-orange smoke billowed out. This color is typical for nitrogen dioxide fumes.[1] The unusual color of the smoke attracted more spectators. Spectators also noted that the water around the docked ship was boiling from the heat, and the splashing water touching the hull was being vaporized into steam. The cargo hold and deck began to bulge as the pressure of the steam increased inside.

                    This 2-ton anchor was thrown more than 1.6 miles when the Grandcamp exploded
              At 9:12 a.m., the ammonium nitrate reached an explosive threshold from the combination of heat and pressure.[7] The vessel detonated, causing great destruction and damage throughout the port. The tremendous blast produced a 15-foot (4.5 m) wave that was detectable nearly 100 miles (160 km) from the Texas shoreline. The blast leveled nearly 1,000 buildings on land. The Grandcamp explosion destroyed the Monsanto Chemical Company plant and resulted in ignition of refineries and chemical tanks on the waterfront. Falling bales of burning twine from the ship's cargo added to the damage, and the Grandcamp's anchor was hurled across the city. Two sightseeing airplanes flying nearby had their wings shorn off,[8] forcing them out of the sky, while 10 miles (16 km) away, half of the windows in Galveston were shattered.[9] The explosion blew almost 6,350 short tons (5,760 metric tons) of the ship's steel into the air, some at supersonic speed. Official casualty estimates came to a total of 567, including all the crewmen who remained aboard the Grandcamp. All but one member of the 28-man Texas City volunteer fire department were killed in the initial explosion on the docks while fighting the shipboard fire. With fires raging throughout Texas City, first responders from other areas were initially unable to reach the site of the disaster.
               
              Read the whole thing.

              A Quick Run Around the Web (8/4/2020)

              "Why MILITARY GUYS put HOT SAUCE in their EYES"--Black Scout Survival (2 min.)
              As the video explains, it isn't actually in your eye, but rubbing a little underneath your eyes. Why? To wake yourself up. I'm not sure if I'm brave enough to try this.
              • "Riot Survival Compendium"--Active Response Training. Greg Ellifritz has put together an impressive compendium of articles on the topic of self-defense and self-protection if you are caught up in a mob protest or riot. Some of the articles are prior pieces he has written while most are from other authors or sources. Normally I wouldn't post these separately, but given that the most likely confrontation between an innocent party and the so-called "protesters" has been people attempting to drive somewhere in a vehicle and encountering the rioters blocking a road or highway, I do want to reference a few articles to which Ellifritz links specifically on that topic. Because it is just as important--perhaps more important in this situation--to know when you can safely resort to force in defending yourself, first read this article from Legal Insurrection discussing the general rules of self-defense in the context of having your car blocked by protesters. Keep in mind that automobiles are considered deadly weapons when used against a person, so even your slowly driving forward and nudging someone could be considered aggravated battery. Then read this two part article from Gabe Suarez (Part 1) (Part 2) on how the actual how to use your car to get out of protests (or what you may need to do if you abandon the vehicle), including some recommendations as to weapons. 
                    Greg also prefaces his list of resources with this advice:
                   Here is my best advice…
                    Stay away from any scheduled protests, riots, uprisings, or large political gatherings.  It is absolutely not safe to attend such an event in today’s political climate.  I hope my readers are smart enough to recognize that.   Both sides of most of these “protests” are at fault.  Both sides show up looking for a fight.  Both sides get exactly what they came for.  The only way to avoid violence like that on a personal level is to avoid being present in the first place.
                   The only way to avoid such violence on a societal level is to refuse to give either group the attention they are looking for.  Don’t attend the rallies.  Don’t post news of the event on your Facebook wall.  Let these idiots die the obscure death they deserve.
                • Related: I've also thought about defense against mobs and riots in the past. Check out my 2016 post on "When Your Car Is Surrounded By A Mob" which has advice from Mass Ayoob that I excerpted from one of his books, The Truth About Self-Defense. My 2014 piece, "Thoughts on Defense Against a Mob" is more of a theoretical piece about responding to something similar to the Jakarta riots of 1998 which saw mobs raging into ethnic Chinese neighborhoods for the express purpose of killing, raping, and pillaging. We haven't seen anything like this, yet, but some of the agitators have been promising to bring the riots to the suburbs. 
              • "Another ‘Worst Possible Case’ – Interrupting a Murderer"--The Tactical Professor. He writes, "Probably the best Course of Action upon discovering a body is to RUN the other way as fast as you can and when in a safe place, call the POlice. Secondarily, if you are armed, be prepared to engage the killer without hesitation. If they’ve already killed someone else, they may not think twice about trying to kill you."
              • "A Paramilitary Threat We Could Face"--Mason Dixon Tactical. The author notes that we have seen up-armored vehicles increasingly used by cartels in Mexico, with the implication that we might see some groups in the United States also start to field such vehicles. He has some suggestions and thoughts as to the vulnerabilities and weaknesses of such vehicles.
                • Related: "Form 1 DIY Panzerfaust"--The Firearm Blog. "Capable of firing over 100 yards, the warhead (in this case is a practice dummy) uses a propelling charge of Goex cannon black powder housed in a cardboard tube attached to the rear of the fins. Like the original Panzerfaust design, initiation is provided by means of a primer (in this case commercial muzzleloading primers) fitted into an external nipple that is struck via the sheet metal trigger mechanism. The launching tube is simply a length of commercially available steel tube onto which the trigger mechanism is welded."
              • "Here Are the Biggest Selling Firearms During the Hottest Gun Sales Market Ever"--The Truth About Guns. If I were Glock, I would be a little worried. The top selling semi-auto was the Sig P320, and Glock (with the Glock 19) doesn't even show up until 4th place. (Although I'm a little mystified as to why they break out the "Glock 19" from the "Glock 19 Gen. 4" which was at 7th place. Is the "Glock 19" supposed to represent just Gen. 5 weapons, or does it also include Gen 3?)
              • "The Story Of How Samuel Colt Made Men Equal"--The Federalist. A short history of Samuel Colt and his invention of the revolver. As would be expected, the military initially had no interest in the weapon believing that the ability to fire multiple shots without reloading was of no real use. Instead, it was law enforcement--specifically, the Texas Rangers--that marked the beginning of the revolver's popularity.
              • "A Patrol Rifle Primer"--Loose Rounds. This article is intended for the law enforcement officer stuck with a pretty basic rifle and without the funds and/or permission from his department to upgrade the rifle, but is applicable to anyone with a basic AR-15 that wants to make it better without a lot of money to pour into it. The author therefore looks at some simple accessories that probably would be allowable but still make the rifle more usable such as a removable rubber butt-pad to fit over the end of the stock, better front sight posts, and, if an optic can be mounted, some advice as to the type of reticle. 
              • I actually found some buckshot at a local farm and gardening store this past weekend, which is worthy of note because buckshot has become extremely difficult to locate during the current ammo shortage. But if you have some stored up or are able to score some buckshot, here are a few articles from Lucky Gunner on using buckshot for self-defense: "Stuff You Should Know About Buckshot" (Part 1) (Part 2) and "What’s the Maximum Effective Range of Buckshot?"
                • Related: "Shotgun Ammo For Home Defense" (Part 1) (Part 2) --Modern Defensive Training Systems. Part 1 discusses why birdshot is not a viable choice for self-defense, and Part 2 discusses buckshot, including a couple recommendations.
                • Related: "The Best Shotgun Ammo for Home Defense"--AmmoToGo.com. Another article on selecting a type of shot, but also finishing with some specific recommendations of brand and type of buckshot.
              • "My Go-To Carbine Setup"--American Partisan. The author's carbine, he states, is specifically not for home defense, but something to use for patrolling and combat. As such, it is a fairly basic set-up: a standard 16-inch barrel with the M-4 profile, 1:7 twist, and a standard A2 flash hider; an M-LOK free floated handguard from Palmetto State Armory; a VTAC sling; an ACOG sight; what appears to be a standard collapsible/adjustable stock; and what appears to be a laser designator. The author uses night vision equipment, so there is no tactical flashlight riding on the weapon.
              • A look at some more gun leather: "Gear Review: Galco Gunleather Miami Classic II Shoulder System"--The Truth About Guns. Not only a review, but he also shows how to set up the holster.
              • "Talking Salt"--Beans, Bullets, Bandages & You. A look at the importance of salt and potassium intake to replenish your electrolytes after hard work and sweating.
              • "The Reality Of Survival: It Ain’t Pretty"--Urban Survival Site. Survival entertainment and media sell a heroic, sanitized version of survival after disasters, but the truth is more prosaic: worrying about getting food and clean water, what to do when the toilet doesn't work, potentially dying from a small scratch or cut because of poor hygiene or lack of antibiotics. 
              • "Imodium’s Survival Applications: What It Is & Why Carry It Everywhere"--More Than Just Surviving. The author begins by observing that "[w]hen discussing survival, we often gravitate towards the bad-ass, like which knife to carry or the fashionably practical question of which tactical backpack is best. It’s fun, it’s interesting, no issues with that – so long as we aren’t completely ignoring the negative realities of survival – it’s dirty, it’s messy, and chances are, your bowels (I know, who wants to think about that) won’t be even remotely happy with the situation." He continues:
                    When travelling under duress/stress your body typically responds pretty badly to the food you encounter and encourage it to eat. Traveller’s diarrhea is a legitimately dangerous thing to have in emergency situations (diarrhea = dehydration), and yet it’s something very easily caused by contact with any sort of contaminated food or water, which can be loaded with nasties from Salmonella, to E. coli, Shigella, Giardia, as well as many others.

                    That’s bad enough, but considering the fact that you can also have pretty bad bowel problems as a consequence of adrenaline, fear, or stress, you’ll finally start to get a picture of how uncomfortable you may be as a result of a SHTF situation.

                    As I am sure you can imagine, a survival situation is positively loaded with stresses and unknowns – these bowel-related issues are just the icing on the top of the mud cake.

                    As I’ve already stated, besides the obvious discomfort diarrhea can bring, it also dehydrates you a considerable amount. The other outcomes of having diarrhea you would know if you’d even had it once – it seeps your energy and truly does negatively impair your mental faculties. It’s uncomfortable, incredibly dangerous if you don’t have clean water to replace what you just lost with, and just downright to be avoided in an already bad situation if it’s at all possible.

              The author recommends having plenty of Imodium on hand; and, in fact, suggests that if a disaster occurs, you just preemptively take some.
              • "Gun Designers Other Inventions"--TINCANBANDIT's Gunsmithing. I knew that Mikhail Kalashnikov had a lot of non-firearm inventions to his credit, but apparently many other famous gun designers also had wide ranging interests in mechanical and electrical gadgets. For instance, the article mentions that Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim who invented the Maxim machine gun was in a long legal battle with Thomas Edison over who had first invented the light bulb. Interesting reading for the history buffs out there.

              The .32 and the .380 are identical except for caliber and magazine capacity (7 rounds of .32 versus 6 rounds of .380). Ian found both to be accurate and, to his surprise, shootable. Years ago I had the opportunity to shoot a PPK in .32, and although I was only able to try one magazine worth of shooting, I thought it was one of the most accurate handguns I'd used.
              • "America’s 'Days of Rage': The Extensive Left-Wing Bombings & Domestic Terrorism of the 1970s"--Ammo.com. I've mentioned before that the Leftist violence we are seeing today is not new, but something with which we had to contend in the 1960s and 1970s. But you won't hear much of it today. As the author of this piece notes, "[t]he most likely explanation for why you have never heard of this until now is that the events of these years have been consciously buried by those who would prefer you not know about them." Just like you won't hear about how many prominent Democrat politicians have a history of communist extremism. This particular article focuses on a particular protest between October 8 and 11, 1969, sponsored by the Weather Underground (aka Weathermen). From the article:
                     The Weathermen started out as a faction within Students for a Democratic Society. Without getting too much into the weeds, much of what happens during this period of leftist terrorism in the United States has its genesis in a faction fight between the Weathermen, who controlled the national SDS organization, and the rest of their faction (known as the Revolutionary Youth Movement II or RYM II), who were in opposition to the more classically Maoist Worker Student Alliance.
                       Tensions ran high because the stakes were high – nothing less than total control of the largest student radical organization in America and all of the spoils that came along with that. Many within the Weathermen faction of RYM II believed that they were fighting literal fascism coming to America in the form of President Richard Nixon.
                        Sound familiar yet? It’s about to sound a lot more so.
                           On October 6, 1969, a statue memorializing a police officer killed during the 1886 Haymarket riots was blown up. No one ever figured out who committed this act of iconoclasm, but the tangible effect of the act of political terrorism was the final isolation of the Weather Underground from the rest of the SDS.
                             The Weathermen then shifted their activity to the Days of Rage, a protest rally with the slogans “Bring The War Home!” Many wielded lead pipes and were clad in football helmets, ready for a confrontation with the police.
                              Turnout was disappointing. The Weathermen expected a massive turnout, but only got about 800, who stared down 2,000 Chicago police likely itching for another fight after the 1968 Democratic Convention. By the first night, about 500 had deserted the protest, with about half of the remaining 300 being Weathermen from around the country.
                                 Abbie Hoffman and John Froines, two members of the Chicago Seven, showed up, but declined to speak and left. The remaining hardcore of Weathermen and their supporters shifted the goalposts to simply fighting the police as constituting victory.
                                   At 10:25 p.m., Jeff Jones, one of the leaders of the Weathermen, gave the signal and chaos erupted. The crowd moved through the city, smashing windows of ordinary cars and middle-class homes throughout Chicago, as well as small businesses such as barber shops.
                                     The next day, October 9, a "Women's Militia" comprised of about 70 female Weathermen planned to attack a draft board office, but were prevented from doing so by the Chicago Police Department. The governor called up 2,500 National Guard members to protect Chicago, and protests for later in the day were canceled. The Black Panther Party’s local leadership attempted to distance themselves from the Weathermen, describing the group as “anarchistic, opportunistic, adventuristic, and Custeristic."
                                       The next day was the last day of the Days of Rage proper, centered around a march of 2,000 through a Spanish-speaking area of Chicago. The next day, October 11, the Weathermen attempted to reignite the protests, but were quickly sealed off by Chicago’s finest. Approximately half of the crowd were arrested in 15 minutes.
                                  As the article goes on to explain, the Weathermen then went underground, renaming themselves the Weather Underground. The article goes on to describe the ideological stance of the group--basically, what flavor of communism were they--and outline the terrorist attacks carried on by the Weather Underground. However, these terrorists did not disappear to black sites once captured. There were feted by the Left, and the leaders landed plush jobs teaching at various elite universities where they inspired the likes of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
                                  • "Rioter Intel Part 2"--Loose Rounds. The rioters are not simply showing up--many have at least familiarized themselves with the roles they will be playing, if not having actually had some training. The rioters tactics continue to evolve. This article links to some of the resources that the rioters are using or sharing concerning tactics. The author also has some takeaways from video taken in Portland: "This is the grant park attack, where a black bloc formed inside a protest and redirected it towards an assault on the grant park Columbus statue. Pay attention to the way the LE detachment is pushed from the area, then how the 'peaceful protesters' form a bike shield and wall off the police from reentering the park while the black bloc goes after the statue."
                                  • "As They Turn To Burning Bibles, Portland Rioters Show Their True Colors"--The Federalist. The article relates that "[a] video posted to Twitter on Saturday shows rioters holding Black Lives Matter signs tossing Bibles into a fire. Bystanders stood and watched as the flames licked away at the pages of the books."
                                    • Related: "America is engaged in a religious war"--Bookworm Room. And its war between Christianity and Marxism, which has all the trappings of a religion less a supernatural deity. 
                                    • Related: And, of course, there must be a confession of sins and atonement by those cursed with the original sin of whiteness: "The Reconciliation Must Be Televised" by Wesley Morris at The New York Times.
                                  Before it  [the current national attention on Black Lives Matter] vanishes, the centuries and conditions that produced it warrant commemoration. They warrant further confrontation, reclamation and connection. They warrant an event — broadcast across the country, over months, not days — that squares the present with the past, that explains The Moment to those who say they are, at last, awake to it. This Moment of historic holding to account, of looking inward, deserves a commensurate, totalizing event that explains what is being reckoned with, demanded and hoped for, an experience that rubs between its fingers the earth upon which all those toppled monuments had so brazenly stood. The Moment warrants a depth of conversation the United States has never had. It demands truth and reconciliation.
                                         Floyd complained of being unable to breathe long before anyone knelt on his neck. (Shortness of breath is a symptom of fentanyl overdose.) He apparently preferred being on the ground to being inside the squad car. One of his companions, his “ex” according to the Daily Mail, made a finger-twirling-next-to-the-temple gesture to explain his mental state.
                                   
                                         A more likely explanation is drugs. The toxicology report that was part of his autopsy found that Floyd had 11 ng/mL of fentanyl in his blood, along with other drugs and metabolites. Published literature (based on a modest Google search) finds lethal overdoses of fentanyl down to 5 ng/mL, less than half the concentration in Floyd’s blood. If I am misreading the literature, I am happy to be corrected.
                                   
                                        Pretty much everyone who watches the famous video thinks he sees Floyd dying on account of a police officer kneeling on his neck. But Floyd’s autopsy found no evidence of physical trauma in the neck area, and documented no other signs of death by asphyxiation. It may be that what we are actually seeing in the video is one of tens of thousands of deaths due to opioid overdose. Or it may be that Floyd died later, on the way to a hospital.
                                          The videos are embedded in the article.
                                          • "Minneapolis Police, Defunded by City Council, Advise Residents to Obey Criminals"--PJ Media. As I've noted numerous times before, government is at a fundamental level a protection racket: we pay them money (taxes) to protect us from invaders and brigands. This is the most basic function of government, and our governments, both national and local, have largely failed at these respective tasks. I would expect that at some point there will be a taxpayer revolt in those cities that have defunded their police. 
                                            • Related: "Seattle Citizens on Their Own After City Council Bans Less Lethal for Cops"--Tactical Life. The article reports: "Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best recently warned business owners and residents of her city. Local police will not 'risk their personal safety to protect property,' she wrote. The warning comes after city officials banned police from using less-lethal tools like pepper spray for dispersing crowds to control rioters."
                                          • Heresy! "Is Racism Responsible for Today's Black Problems?"--Townhall. The author, Walter E. Williams, instead considers whether the problem is because dysfunctional, single-parent households are the norm in the black community. 
                                                The most devastating problem is the very weak black family structure. Less than a third of black children live in two-parent households and illegitimacy stands at 75%. The "legacy of slavery" is often blamed. Such an explanation turns out to be sheer nonsense when one examines black history. Even during slavery, where marriage was forbidden, most black children lived in biological two-parent families. Professor Herbert G. Gutman's research in "The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom 1750-1925" found that in three-fourths of 19th-century slave families, all the children had the same mother and father. In New York City, in 1925, 85% of black households were two-parent. In fact, "Five in six children under the age of six lived with both parents." During slavery and as late as 1920, a black teenage girl raising a child without a man present was a rarity.

                                                An 1880 study of family structure in Philadelphia shows that three-quarters of all black families were nuclear families. There were only slight differences in family structure between racial groups. The percentages of nuclear families were: black (75.2%), Irish (82.2%), German (84.5%) and native white Americans (73.1%). Only one-quarter of black families were female-headed. Female-headed families among Irish, German and native white Americans averaged 11%. According to the 1938 Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, only 11% of black children and 3% of white children were born to unwed mothers. As Thomas Sowell reported: "Going back a hundred years, when blacks were just one generation out of slavery, we find that census data of that era showed that a slightly higher percentage of black adults had married than white adults. This fact remained true in every census from 1890 to 1940."
                                           
                                          If I were to hazard a guess, I would say that the Democratic party is the black community's biggest problem.
                                          • "Democrats’ ‘War Game’ for Election Includes West Coast Secession, Possible Civil War"--Breitbart. So what happened was that the Democratic party decided to war game the upcoming election. In one of the scenarios, with a close election, because of delays in counting ballets, Biden (played by John Podesta of Pizza Gate fame) refused to concede defeat and convinced two states to send pro-Democrat electors (of the Electoral College) to Washington to vote for Biden. The result was that the Left Coast states threatened to secede if Trump prevented Biden from taking office. The Democrats wanted to play some shenanigans with the Electoral College after the 2016 election, but were so shocked by the outcome that they had planned for the loss, and therefor nothing happened. This time, they may be better prepared. So the scenario might not be unrealistic. 
                                          • "Dear Good White People, Your First Test Is Here"--Medium. Marley K., a self-described "Southern Raceologist," is back to her usual conspiracy theory rantings:
                                          Most Good White people know most White cops have a silent pact with White people, or at least among themselves. That pact is that White people don’t kill White people, meaning White cops don’t/won’t kill White people. If they do, it’s last resort or a scary newbie, but on most days their secret pact is not to kill White folks. ...
                                           
                                          By "good white people" she means those who are "anti-racist" and willing to riot and take up arms in support of international socialism. And, of course, she can't even get her facts right: police kill far more whites than any other race.
                                          • "Coronavirus Shock Claim: Refugee Scientist Says Virus Came from Army Lab"--PJ Media. Per the article, "Hong Kong-based virologist Yan Li-Meng, currently in hiding at an undisclosed location, claims that the COVID-19 coronavirus came from a People’s Liberation Army lab, and not from a Wuhan wet market as Beijing has claimed." It's not clear whether Yan had personal knowledge that the virus came from a lab or if it is based on deductions or suspicions. 
                                          • "Coronavirus: Iran cover-up of deaths revealed by data leak"--BBC News. The BBC obtained records from a whistleblower that indicate that Iran's reported cases and deaths from COVID-19 is vastly under-reported: "The government's own records appear to show almost 42,000 people died with Covid-19 symptoms up to 20 July, versus 14,405 reported by its health ministry," and "[t]he number of people known to be infected is also almost double official figures: 451,024 as opposed to 278,827."

                                          "Asian Stalingrad - The Battle of Manila 1945"--Mark Felton Productions (22 min.)
                                          This short video takes the viewer from the initial landing of American infantry (this was an Army effort) through the end of the battle, with a short section on the aftermath--namely, the war crimes trial for the Japanese General that was nominally in charge of the forces in Manila. 
                                          • "Why George Washington Could Not Be Felled by Powder and Ball" by Mark Albright at Meridian Magazine. During the campaign of General Braddock against Fort Duquesne during the French and Indian War, in which a young George Washington participated, he was the only officer not killed or wounded, notwithstanding the efforts of the French troops and their American Indian allies and that Washington very prominently was riding his horses (several were shot out from underneath him) in order to maintain command and rally troops. In fact, notwithstanding his military career, including later leading the Continental Army, Washington was never injured in combat. From the article:
                                                During the battle, the Indians targeted the officers intentionally, and as the battle continued, nearly every member of Braddock’s staff, including his secretary and two of his military aides, were shot down. Washington, Braddock’s only uninjured staff member, rode over every part of the field carrying the general’s orders. Significantly following the battle, Indians confirm that they had specifically singled out Washington and repeatedly shot at him but without effect. They, therefore, became convinced that he was protected by an invisible power and that no bullet could harm him. Indeed even though hundreds of victims fell all around him, shielded by God’s hand, Washington escaped without a scratch, untouched by bullet or bayonet, arrow or tomahawk. He later credited this miracle to divine providence.
                                                   Braddock was eventually shot because the Indians knew that if they could shoot down the officers they could scatter the remaining troops and easily destroy them. Consequently, every mounted officer, except Washington, had been slain before Braddock fell. One famous Indian warrior, who was a leader in the attack, was often heard to testify, “Washington was never born to be killed by a bullet! I had 17 fair shots at him with my rifle, and after all that, I could not bring him to the ground.”
                                                     When one considers that a rifle aimed by an experienced marksman rarely misses its target, his utterance seems to have been prophetic and confirms that an invisible hand from Heaven had indeed turned aside the bullets. Another witness who had spoken with Red Hawk, an Indian chief, after the victory, said he had shot 11 different times at Washington without hitting him and because his gun had never before missed its mark, Red Hawk ceased firing at him, convinced that the Great Spirit protected Washington.
                                                       Washington’s survival was so obviously miraculous that special mention of it was made in a famous sermon preached by the Reverend Samuel Davies only weeks after the battle. Davies, considered one of the greatest pulpit preachers in America, was an active leader in the American revival known as the Great Awakening and later became the president of Princeton University. In his 1755 sermon, Davies commended the military qualities that the Virginia soldiers had displayed during the fight and then added: “I may point out here to the public that the heroic youth, Colonel Washington, whom I cannot but hope Providence has hitherto preserved in so signal a manner for some important service to his country.”
                                                • An evolutionary biologist explains why biological sex is, in fact, binary, and there are characteristics associated with each of the sexes:
                                                       The idea that all people have an innate “gender identity” recently has been endorsed by many health-care professionals and mainstream medical organizations. This term commonly is defined to mean the “internal, deeply held” sense of whether one is a man or a woman (or, in the case of children, a boy or a girl), both, or neither. It also has become common to claim that this sense of identity may be reliably articulated by children as young as three years old.
                                                 
                                                       While these claims about gender identity did not attract systematic scrutiny at first, they now have become the subject of criticism from a growing number of scientists, philosophers and health workers. Developmental studies show that young children have only a superficial understanding of sex and gender (at best). For instance, up until age 7, many children often believe that if a boy puts on a dress, he becomes a girl. This gives us reason to doubt whether a coherent concept of gender identity exists at all in young children. To such extent as any such identity may exist, the concept relies on stereotypes that encourage the conflation of gender with sex.
                                                 
                                                       However, starting at a young age, children do tend to exhibit preferences and behaviors that we associate with sex (as distinct from gender). For example, male children display more aggressive behavior than female children. In addition, “cross-sex” behavior—or, more accurately, cross-sex stereotypical behavior—often is predictive of later same-sex attraction.
                                                 
                                                      Can all of these findings be integrated? To start, just as sex influences the development of bodies, it also influences brains. There are in-utero differences in hormone exposures (male testosterone surges at eight weeks gestation, for example), and distinct developmental pathways are triggered based on the XX (typically female) or XY (typically male) chromosomal make-up of neurons. The integration of these sex-related and other developmental processes with environmental pressures gives rise to an individual’s unique personality and preferences.
                                                 
                                                       It comes as no surprise then that population-based studies have demonstrated sex-related differences in personality and preferences that are independent of social influences. When social influences are weakened (in more egalitarian societies such as the Nordic countries of Europe), the sex-related differences in personality and preferences actually increase (the opposite of what one would expect if men and women were wired in an identical fashion). This suggests that as environmental pressures become relaxed, innate sex-specific preferences surface.
                                                                       At first, left-wing pushback to evolution appeared largely in response to the field of human evolutionary psychology. Since Darwin, scientists have successfully applied evolutionary principles to understand the behavior of animals, often with regard to sex differences. However, when scientists began applying their knowledge of the evolutionary underpinnings of animal behavior to humans, the advancing universal acid [i.e., the theory of evolution] began to threaten beliefs held sacrosanct by the Left. The group that most fervently opposed, and still opposes, evolutionary explanations for behavioral sex differences in humans were/are social justice activists. Evolutionary explanations for human behavior challenge their a priori commitment to “Blank Slate” psychology—the belief that male and female brains in humans start out identical and that all behavior, sex-linked or otherwise, is entirely the result of differences in socialization.
                                                                 
                                                                       This stance is maintained by the belief that evolutionary explanations for sex-linked behavioral differences are biologically essentialist, which is the fatalistic notion that biology alone directly determines our behavior. Blank Slate psychology, however, is universally rejected by experts, as the evidence for innate sex-linked personality differences in humans is overwhelmingly strong. But experts also universally reject that this view demands we embrace biological essentialism, because the environment does play a role, and observed sex differences are simply averages and overlap tremendously between the sexes. Sex no more determines one’s personality than it determines one’s height. Sex certainly influences these traits, but it does not determine them. For instance, most of us know females who are taller than most males, and males who are shorter than most females, though we are all aware that males are, on average, taller than females. In humans, the same is true for behavioral traits.
                                                                 
                                                                      I am an evolutionary behavioral ecologist, and most of my work is concerned with how individual differences in behavior (i.e. personality) influence individual fitness, and the collective behavior and success of animal societies. Most are probably not aware, but animal personality research is a vibrant field within behavioral ecology due to the ubiquity of personality as a phenomenon in nature, and its ability to explain interactions both within and between species. In nearly every species tested to date for the presence of personality, we’ve found it, and sex-linked personality differences are frequently the most striking. Sex-linked personality differences are very well documented in our closest primate relatives, too, and the presence of sexual dimorphism (i.e. size differences between males and females) in primates, and mammals generally, dramatically intensifies these differences, especially in traits like aggression, female choosiness, territoriality, grooming behavior, and parental care.
                                                                 
                                                                       Given that humans are sexually dimorphic and exhibit many of the typical sex-linked behavioral traits that any objective observer would predict, based on the mammalian trends, the claim that our behavioral differences have arisen purely via socialization is dubious at best. For that to be true, we would have to posit that the selective forces for these traits inexplicably and uniquely vanished in just our lineage, leading to the elimination of these traits without any vestiges of their past, only to have these traits fully recapitulated in the present due to socialization. Of course, the more evidenced and straightforward explanation is that we exhibit these classic sex-linked behavioral traits because we inherited them from our closest primate ancestors.
                                                                 
                                                                       Counterintuitively, the social justice stance on human evolution closely resembles that of the Catholic Church. The Catholic view of evolution generally accepts biological evolution for all organisms, yet holds that the human soul (however defined) had been specially created and thus has no evolutionary precursor. Similarly, the social justice view has no problem with evolutionary explanations for shaping the bodies and minds of all organisms both between and within a species regarding sex, yet insists that humans are special in that evolution has played no role in shaping observed sex-linked behavioral differences. Why the biological forces that shape all of life should be uniquely suspended for humans is unclear. What is clear is that both the Catholic Church and well-intentioned social justice activists are guilty of gerrymandering evolutionary biology to make humans special, and keep the universal acid at bay.
                                                                  • "The Dangerous Denial of Sex" by Colin M. Wright and Emma N. Hilton at The Wall Street Journal. The article is behind a paywall, but you can find it reproduced here. From the article:
                                                                        In humans, as in most animals or plants, an organism’s biological sex corresponds to one of two distinct types of reproductive anatomy that develop for the production of small or large sex cells—sperm and eggs, respectively—and associated biological functions in sexual reproduction. In humans, reproductive anatomy is unambiguously male or female at birth more than 99.98% of the time. The evolutionary function of these two anatomies is to aid in reproduction via the fusion of sperm and ova. No third type of sex cell exists in humans, and therefore there is no sex “spectrum” or additional sexes beyond male and female. Sex is binary.
                                                                 
                                                                      There is a difference, however, between the statements that there are only two sexes (true) and that everyone can be neatly categorized as either male or female (false). The existence of only two sexes does not mean sex is never ambiguous. But intersex individuals are extremely rare, and they are neither a third sex nor proof that sex is a “spectrum” or a “social construct.” Not everyone needs to be discretely assignable to one or the other sex in order for biological sex to be functionally binary. To assume otherwise—to confuse secondary sexual traits with biological sex itself—is a category error.
                                                                 
                                                                        Denying the reality of biological sex and supplanting it with subjective “gender identity” is not merely an eccentric academic theory. It raises serious human-rights concerns for vulnerable groups including women, homosexuals and children.
                                                                 
                                                                      Women have fought hard for sex-based legal protections. Female-only spaces are necessary due to the pervasive threat of male violence and sexual assault. Separate sporting categories are also necessary to ensure that women and girls don’t have to face competitors who have acquired the irreversible performance-enhancing effects conferred by male puberty. The different reproductive roles of males and females require laws to safeguard women from discrimination in the workplace and elsewhere. The falsehood that sex is rooted in subjective identity instead of objective biology renders all these sex-based rights impossible to enforce.
                                                                 
                                                                        The denial of biological sex also erases homosexuality, as same-sex attraction is meaningless without the distinction between the sexes. Many activists now define homosexuality as attraction to the “same gender identity” rather than the same sex. This view is at odds with the scientific understanding of human sexuality. Lesbians have been denounced as “bigots” for expressing a reluctance to date men who identify as women. The successful normalization of homosexuality could be undermined by miring it in an untenable ideology.
                                                                 
                                                                       Those most vulnerable to sex denialism are children. When they’re taught that sex is grounded in identity instead of biology, sex categories can easily become conflated with regressive stereotypes of masculinity and femininity. Masculine girls and feminine boys may become confused about their own sex. The dramatic rise of “gender dysphoric” adolescents—especially young girls—in clinics likely reflects this new cultural confusion.
                                                                 
                                                                       The large majority of gender-dysphoric youths eventually outgrow their feelings of dysphoria during puberty, and many end up identifying as homosexual adults. “Affirmation” therapies, which insist a child’s cross-sex identity should never be questioned, and puberty-blocking drugs, advertised as a way for children to “buy time” to sort out their identities, may only solidify feelings of dysphoria, setting them on a pathway to more invasive medical interventions and permanent infertility. This pathologizing of sex-atypical behavior is extremely worrying and regressive. It is similar to gay “conversion” therapy, except that it’s now bodies instead of minds that are being converted to bring children into “proper” alignment with themselves.
                                                                 
                                                                       The time for politeness on this issue has passed. Biologists and medical professionals need to stand up for the empirical reality of biological sex. When authoritative scientific institutions ignore or deny empirical fact in the name of social accommodation, it is an egregious betrayal to the scientific community they represent. It undermines public trust in science, and it is dangerously harmful to those most vulnerable.
                                                                • "Being a Chinese student in the US: ‘Neither the US nor China wants us’"--BBC News. This piece was intended to spark sympathy for Chinese students living in the United States, and outrage at the Trump Administration for the growing tension between the two countries. However, the article actually makes a pretty good case for limiting the number of Chinese students. The article mostly focuses on Shizheng Tie who moved to Ohio when she was 13 to be educated in the United States. Tie, according to the article, reports that she had dreamed of staying in the U.S. after she gets a Ph.D. and working here, but now she is "very scared" because of what she describes as rising anti-China sentiment and discrimination, although the article is bereft of any actual incidents of discrimination. In any event, what the article inadvertently reveals is that, although Tie supposedly wanted to remain in the United States, she had no intention of assimilating. "Despite her frustration over China's travel restrictions, Tie says she has become more patriotic since living aboard," writes the author. The article also relates that Tie has criticized the United States in her school paper over its supposed "Sinophobia." (I'd like to see her return to China and publish something critical of China or the CCP). 
                                                                     "I am patriotic in a rational way, not as a result of brainwashing," Tie says, adding that she views both Washington and Beijing critically, citing the lack of freedom of speech in China.
                                                                 
                                                                     "Both countries let me down many times," Tie says, "but China is my motherland, so I am more willing to endure that frustration."
                                                                      Would you really expect someone like this to ever honestly pledge allegiance to the United States? 

                                                                      As if the multiple natural disasters facing China were not enough. 
                                                                      • "How to Blog Anonymously"--Anonymous Conservative. Instructions and advice on how to never have a blog traced back to you, including what to do if you still plan on making money from your blog.
                                                                      • "100 Soviet-Era "Backpack" Sized Nuclear Weapons Could Be Missing"--National Interest. Both the U.S. and the Soviets had man-portable nuclear weapons that could be used for purposes of sabotage; the Russians admitted in the late 1990s that they apparently couldn't account for 100 of the 250 such devices that the Soviets had built. The concern was that some of these devices may have been smuggled into the United States and hidden in caches. Not unlikely since I have come across articles concerning small arms caches that both the U.S. and Soviet Union had left in locations around the world. Whether we should be concerned about these decades old weapons is a different matter since, as this article explains, nuclear weapons have limited shelf-lives due to many different factors.
                                                                      • And how is this any different from hatching sea monkeys? "Scientists successfully revive 100m-year-old microbes from the sea"--The Guardian. Per the article, "[s]cientists have successfully revived microbes that had lain dormant at the bottom of the sea since the age of the dinosaurs, allowing the organisms to eat and even multiply after eons in the deep." "Their research sheds light on the remarkable survival power of some of Earth’s most primitive species, which can exist for tens of millions of years with barely any oxygen or food before springing back to life in the lab."
                                                                      • "How Scientists Encoded 'The Wizard of Oz' Into DNA"--IEEE Spectrum. The why is straightforward: DNA offers extremely high density data storage and is very durable (the article notes, for instance, that scientists had recently mapped the genome of a horse whose remains were dated to 700,000 years ago). The problem has been translating data format between digital and what could be stored in a DNA type storage. 
                                                                      Enter William Press’s team at the University of Texas at Austin. They’ve pioneered a set of DNA data encoding and decoding algorithms that could jumpstart a new field of high-density, long-term data storage. Their work, reminiscent in its generative ambition of the landmark BB84 protocol that launched the field of quantum cryptography, could one day form the basis for a world of genomic data storage applications that come from reimagining information in terms of petabytes per gram.