Thursday, October 6, 2022

Russia Continues To Lose Ground In The Ukraine

 In World War II, Germany launched a surprise attack into the Soviet Union called Operation Barbarossa. Without going into detail, notwithstanding logistical problems, the German army made considerable initial gains, but eventually became bogged down in attacks on various Soviet cities including Moscow, Leningrad, and, most infamously, Stalingrad.

    The Soviets, for their part, were wholly unprepared for invasion and because many of their arms stockpiles were close to the borders of German held territory (possibly in preparation for their own invasion of German held Poland and German allied Romania), they lost much of their war material. Pushed back, it looked like they were going to lose it all. But due to their own doggedness and considerable support from the United States, including supplies of advanced weapons and materials, the Soviets were able to turn the tide and push the Germans back out of the Soviet Union and all the way to Berlin and beyond. 

    Although on a shorter time scale, the Russian invasion of Ukraine seems to be mirroring the Soviet-German conflict in World War II, with the Russians playing the part of Germany and Ukraine playing the part of the Soviet Union right down to a desperate attempt to keep the invaders from taking the capital and reliance on U.S. aid to prosecute the war. 

    And how the tide seems to have turned. In September the Ukrainians launched a surprise attack in the Northeast of the country which resulted in their retaking considerable territory. Pro-Russian and Anti-Western bloggers and pundits have argued that this success was either (i) because the Russians had withdrawn their best troops to defend against Ukrainian counteroffensives in the South-East and/or (ii) the Russians were deliberately retreating (and leaving vast quantities of equipment and munitions) in order to draw the Ukrainians into a trap that Putin was organizing using his newly called up reserves that he was scrambling to mass just outside Ukraine. It brings to a mind a Mad Magazine cartoon I saw once of John Paul Jones standing on the deck of his rapidly sinking ship and proclaiming "I have not yet begun to fight," with sailors in the foreground muttering, "don't you think its damn time you start?"

    A few days ago, the second explanation might have been tenable. It doesn't appear to be that way because Ukraine is enjoying considerable success in the south-east of the country. 

    The Telegraph is reporting that the "Liberation of Luhansk begins as Ukraine recaptures several settlements." From the article:

    Ukrainian troops have started liberating eastern Luhansk, the region’s top official said on Wednesday, as Vladimir Putin for the first time publicly acknowledged military setbacks in the annexed territories. 

    Footage shared online appeared to show Kyiv’s forces raising a Ukrainian flag in Hrekivka, a village just over the border from the Kharkiv Oblast, the scene of a lightning counter-offensive that recaptured vast swathes of land. 

    "The de-occupation of the Luhansk region has already officially started," Serhiy Haidai, the regional government of Luhansk, wrote on the Telegram messaging app, but did not reveal the name of the liberated territories. 

    The liberation of formerly Russian-occupied land in Luhansk means Russia now does not have full control over any of the four territories illegally annexed by Mr Putin. 

Lawrence Person's Battleswarm Blog notes that multiple Russian fronts appear to be collapsing. Quoting from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW): "Ukrainian forces continued to make significant gains in Kherson Oblast while simultaneously continuing advances in Kharkiv and Luhansk oblasts on October 4." Person then observes that "Kreminna seems to be the next big target for Ukrainian forces to take in Luhansk, allowing them to cut a major supply line and directly threaten Severodonetsk and Lysychansk." He also observes that "[s]ince most of the bridges over both the Inhulets and Dnipro rivers have been blown up, Russian forces are at significant risk of being cutoff and unable to retreat." It appears that Kherson, the only major city Russia has captured in the past 7 months, is threatened. A loss there will hand the Ukrainians some of the best equipment that the Russians have fielded. He concludes: "Russia seems to be retreating everywhere save the central front in Donetsk, where they seem to be eking out tiny, meaningless gains of a square kilometer or two a day. That’s not a recipe for success."

    In fact, Ukraine is doing so well that (unnamed, of course) senior military commanders believe it could potentially retake Crimea

    Western officials have previously considered retaking Crimea by force impossible, because Russia was expected to fight tooth and claw to defend it.

    But a senior US officer told The Telegraph that recent Russian military collapses mean “the recapture of Crimea by Ukraine is now a distinct possibility and can no longer be discounted”.

    Pushing into Crimea would mean Ukraine going further than the front lines of Feb 23, when Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine.

    Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and would likely view a ground assault on the critical strategic enclave as a major escalation.

    The US official said: "It is clear that Russia no longer has the ability or willpower to defend key positions, and if the Ukrainians succeed in their goal of recapturing Kherson, then there is a very real possibility that it will ultimately be able to recapture Crimea."

    The comments follow those from Laura Cooper, US deputy assistant secretary of defence, who said that Crimea was within Ukraine's grasp. "And just to be clear, Crimea is Ukraine," she added.

I've warned before about overreach, and retaking Ukraine may be enough of a red line to prompt Putin and Russian leaders to make use of nuclear weapons. As I've noted before, a big reason for this invasion was Ukraine cutting off fresh water to Crimea. Crimea, as you undoubtedly know, is home to Russia's premier naval base at Sebastopol, and the Russians might very well see the loss of the naval base as an existential threat to Russia. 

    In this regard, the U.S. Navy is quietly mobilizing assets to protect the North Atlantic from Russian naval incursions. As you may have seen in some news reports, Russia's Belgorod submarine has left its naval base and was last seen in the Barents Sea.  It carries torpedoes capable of being armed with 100 megaton nuclear warheads, supposedly capable of creating a 1,600-ft "radioactive tsunami" (although other sources say it carries a 2 megaton warhead). The Belgorod may be on a training mission or to test its torpedoes, but it is notable that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is spending $290 million to purchase an undisclosed amount of Amgen’s blood disorder medication, Nplate (romiplostim), which is approved to treat blood cell injuries linked to acute radiation syndrome (ARS) in children and adults

    However, the Eurasia Times notes that the Belgorod is not just a platform to launch a "doomsday" weapon:

    Belgorod is a multi-role platform. According to independent defense analyst HI Sutton, the submarine is also equipped for covert seabed warfare missions, operating on behalf of Russia’s Main Directorate of Deep-Sea Research (GUGI).

    Besides the six Poseidon drones, the submarine carries a nuclear-powered deep-diving midget submarine docked under the keel for seabed warfare, a DSRV rescue submarine on its back, and other extensive payload options, including self-contained nuclear power plants, regular torpedoes, and other submarine weapons.

 The article continues:

    The submarine could be deployed for seabed warfare, such as laying sensor networks on the seafloor or tapping internet cables. It could act as a mothership for smaller specialized submarines in such a role.

    Russia plans to lay a network of sensors on the Arctic seabed for real-time tracking of the NATO submarines operating in northern waters. The sensor network is to be laid and maintained by nuclear-powered midget submarines.

    It is possible that the Belgorod sailed out on an operational mission, but the mission could simply be laying sensors on the Arctic floor.

    Dmitry Stefanovich, a research fellow at the International Security Centre with the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of World Economy and International Relations, told Kommersant that the Belgorod might not even be carrying Poseidon torpedoes; it could well be carrying other underwater vehicles, including autonomous, remote-controlled as well as manned ones.

    As such, the sub may have been deployed for surveillance or testing new unmanned underwater drones and other systems, as well as sabotage. He believes that notwithstanding its commissioning, it’s unlikely testing of the Belgorod’s internal systems has been completed. So the submarine may well have sailed out to validate its machinery!

 The Belgorod was only delivered to the Russian Navy in July of this year so it is very possible it is on a shakedown cruise. 

New Bombs & Bants (Streamed 10/5/2022)


VIDEO: "Bombs and Bants Live! Ep 55" (42 min.)
I missed last week, but I was back for the fun last night.

Further Review of the FBI's 2021 Crime Statistics

Yesterday I discussed the newly released FBI statistics for violent crime for 2021, noting that the data set was incomplete as 50% of police departments had not reported including New York City and Los Angeles. I also looked at some information on demographics and location of crimes for violent crime, overall, and for homicides. Today I want to look at some other categories of violent crime.

    Turning to the category of rape, the FBI lists a total of 89,817 offenders, of which 52,333 were white, 24,387 were black, 10,601 were "unknown", and then much smaller numbers of Native American and Asian. Subtracting out the "unknowns" we are left with 79,216 offenders. Consequently, where race is known, 66% of the offenders were white, but 30% were black. Since 75.8% of the population is white, we see that whites are underrepresented among offenders. According to the U.S. Census, 13.6% of the population is black (less than what I had mentioned yesterday). Thus blacks are again overrepresented among offenders.

    Turning to victims of rape, the FBI lists a total of 93,222 victims of which 5,332 were of an unknown race, leaving 87,890. Of these, 66,449--or 75.6%--were white. Conversely, 18,480--or 21.0%--were black. So, while whites are raped in proportion to their share of the population, but blacks are somewhat overrepresented as victims. 

    Of the 93,407 locations of rape, by and far the largest number occur in the home (65,233 or 69.8%). The next largest categories are "unknown" (5,363) and hotel/motel (5,131). As for the 90,897 data points gathered as to the relationship between the victim and attacker, in 21,857 (24.0%) the victim was an acquaintance of the attacker; the relationship was unknown in 14,035 (15.4%) cases; in 8,056 cases (8.9%) the victims was a boyfriend/girlfriend of the attacker. Interestingly, the victim and attacker were strangers in only 7,080 cases (7.8%). Friends, "other family member", and "otherwise known" were all about the same percentage. In short, while the majority of rape victims knew their attacker, the relationships were attenuated rather than a close relation or spouse. Piecing this together with the location data it appears that a rapist is likely to be someone you know well enough to let into your home, but probably not someone living in the home. 

    The next category is robbery. Of the 159,985 total offenders listed, in 19,568 cases, the race was unknown, leaving 140,417 where race was known. Of these, the vast majority (93,252 or 66.4%) were black, while only 44,946 (32%) were white, with much lower numbers for American Indian and Asian. Of the 135,758 victims listed, 5,929 were of an unknown race leaving 129,829 where the race was known. Conversely to the offender statistics, robbery victims were overwhelmingly white (79,566 or 61.2%). Of the 159,366 locations listed, the largest category was a street/alley/sidewalk (37,852 or 23.8%) and the home/residence (28,375 or 17.8%). The next largest category at 16,617 is a parking lot/parking garage followed by a convenience store (14,529). Other retail establishments follow. As you would expect, in approximately 83% of the cases, there was no known relationship between the perpetrators and the victims.

    Finally, we have aggravated assault. Of the 491,851 offenders, the race was unknown in 41,938 cases, leaving us with 449,913. Of these, 226,633 (50.4%) were white but 209,993 (46.7%) were black. Again, then, we see blacks vastly overrepresented among offenders. There were a total of 586,128 victims, of which race was unknown in 19,720 cases, leaving us 566,408. Of these victims, 307,944 (54.4% were white) and 242,635 (42.8%) were black. Of the 587,524 locations, 318,730 (54.2%) were the home followed by the street/alley/sidewalk (128,530 or 21.9%). Of the 615,287 data points for the relationship between offenders and victims, the relationship was unknown in 152,213 cases. Of the 463,074 instances where the relationship was known, the victim and offenders were strangers in 105,362 cases (22.8%) and a boyfriend/girlfriend or acquaintance in 79,576 and 78,822 instances, respectively: roughly 17% for each category. 

    The basic takeaway from the data I examined yesterday and today is that the two most likely locations that you will be a victim of a violent crime will be in your home or the street/alley/sidewalk category. This suggests that we should perhaps be spending more time considering how to deal with crime in the home than most of us probably do. 

    Another aspect that jumps out is the gross overrepresentation of blacks as perpetrators of violent crime, especially in murders, robbery and aggravated assault. While I recognize that whatever group you consider, the majority of violent crimes are committed by only a small percentage of the total population of that group, you are can't read what is in a person's heart or mind. Thus, I think it behooves you to be on alert anytime you are around blacks you don't know or only passingly know, even if you are yourself black.

    Finally, it is apparent that most violent crime is perpetrated by strangers, acquaintances, or boyfriends/girlfriends. 

    There is a lot more to dig into from the FBI crime statistics. Although the overall statistics indicate a decline in robbery, I suspect that this would not hold true if we had the data from New York City and Los Angeles and whatever other cities are holding back data. In fact, with that data, we might even see sharper increases in violent crime.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

FBI Releases New Crime Statistics

The Washington Free Beacon reports that the FBI has released its crime data for 2021, and the major takeaway is that murder rates continue to climb. According to the article, the FBI found that the number of homicides and rapes increased 4 percent last year, following a nearly 30 percent increase in 2020. However, there is a huge caveat to these figures: "The actual murder rate is likely higher, since around half of police departments—including the Los Angeles Police Department and the New York Police Department—did not submit crime data." (Underline added).

    You can find the FBI press release here and the crime data here through an interactive web app. If you go into it, here, you can get different breakdowns of crime and statistics. Just looking at overall violent crime, the racial demographic breakdown is interesting because it indicates that of 758,749 total violent offenders, 335,507 were black versus 328,817 white, although as I've noted before blacks make up only about 17% of the population. On the flip side, the greatest number of victims were white (459,457) followed by 312,822 blacks.

    Location data--again for all violent crime--was also interesting. Out of 855,013 incidents, 418,874 occurred in homes. In a distant second place at 174,414 were roadways and alleys. Although we often think of a convenience store robbery as a likely location to be the victim of a violent crime, it was actually much farther down the list at 22,838. In fact, a lot of the favorite places to imagine we would be crime victims were almost insignificant compared to the total locations. 

    Also contrary to what we normally hear, the two top categories for the relationship between the victim and the suspect were "relationship unknown" (250,230) and "stranger" (191,737). Spouse ranked quite low at just 26,643. 

    Back to our 758,749 total offenders, 133,283 were female and 582,497 were male.

    Turning to murders, it seems to follow the same patterns as above, except that blacks are even more disproportionately responsible for committing murders (7,875 blacks versus 4,905 whites) and blacks disproportionately make up the majority of victims (8,543 blacks versus 5,498 whites). Again, the top two places to be murdered are in your home or on a roadway/alley, respectively. 

    I haven't had time to look through the other categories of violent crime other than noticing that only in the robbery category were you more likely to be victimized outside your home, where the home and a roadway/alley flip places. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Active Response Training: When Did The US Become A Third-World Country?

 In his post, "Developing World Problems in the USA," Greg Ellifritz relates how his recent travels within the U.S. has shown him a multitude of problem that he used to only experience in developing countries: broken down equipment such as inoperative coffee makers and card readers (with no set date for repairs), unprofessional looking police, sewage and plumbing issues in businesses, hotels using tricks from the third world to save money, stores regularly out of items, shortages of coins to make change, constant airline cancellations and delays, and heightened security such as locking products up because of increased shop lifting. "I’m starting to think that the United Sates is rapidly becoming a third world country," he writes. "The things that once 'worked' don’t work the same way anymore.  The decline is stunningly similar to what I’ve experienced in my travels in the developing world."

    He concludes:

    I don’t know what to think of these disturbing changes.  I don’t know how to fix things.  I think it’s only going to get worse in the future.  Within the next decade, it’s possible that the United States will be downgraded to an economic “second world” nation.  All the signs are here.  Pay attention and have a plan to live a far less luxurious lifestyle in the future.

    I never thought I would be considering my travels in the developing world as critical training and experience for navigating everyday life in the USA.  I predict a rough ride ahead.

    You know that saying about bankruptcy: it happens slowly and then suddenly? Well, the U.S. has entered the "suddenly" phase.

    And I don't believe this is a transitory phase. The reality is that we are becoming a third-world country. There are many interrelated reasons why this is happening but the following are probably the main reasons:

    1.     Due to Covid lockdowns and the resulting supply chain disruptions (and I would note that China is still periodically locking down portions of its country), the profligate spending by the Federal government over the past two years, as well as the energy policies pursued by the Biden Administration, we are seeing unprecedented inflation. While the official version is that inflation is running about 8%, I have seen other measures of inflation (including methods which would have been used prior to the 1980s) putting inflation at twice that. Consequently, business are tightening their belts even if that means putting off maintenance or cutting back on services or perks.

    2.     The people that keep this country running (and I'm mostly looking at men) are dropping out, whether it is retiring or quitting jobs, "laying down" on the job, or never showing up in the first place. 

    One of the things that the Covid lockdowns and forced unemployment showed people was that there was more to life than working in a thankless job, and so many never went back to work mentally or physically. Older workers have retired, became "disabled" or cut back on work. Old and young workers just aren't putting in the effort. And younger men are increasingly just dropping out of society--something that Glenn Reynolds has explored at length at Instapundit. 

    Don't believe me? The Richmond Federal Reserve Bank reported last year that "[o]ver the past 50 years, male labor force participation in the United States has fallen over 10 percentage points, from 80 percent in January 1970 to 69 percent in January 2020. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has fallen further." You might want to click over and read what they have to say about declining labor force participation among young men due to declining marriage rates. See also this article at the New York Post on "Why American boys are failing at school—and men are losing in life." 

    3.     Longer term, we are replacing our first-world population with a third-world population and, as a result, getting a third-world society. As Joseph Henrich's research has shown, there are certain cultural and psycho-social traits that distinguished the first-world from the third-world; traits which led to the prosperity and success that the West has enjoyed. Steven Pinker, in his book, The Better Angels Of Our Nature, also describes processes, most of which occurred exclusively in Western societies over the last several hundred years, that made us less criminal and violent. So, no, notwithstanding what the talking heads tell us, we are not all the same.

     And the problem is that things are just going to get worse. Our immigration and border polices are broken because employers want the cheap labor and our ruling class seriously believes that people are fungible. The war on men, as Glenn Reynolds has called it, would cause all sort of outrage if it were impacting any group other than men (and mostly white men)--similar declines in graduation rates or in college enrollment among women or racial minorities would lead to howls of outrage from liberals and elites everywhere, but instead we hear crickets. Because our ruling class doesn't care. 

    In fact, our ruling class not only doesn't care but it appears to be actively trying to destroy our civilization in every way it can. It's not just grooming of children in school and brainwashing them into believing that boys are girls and girls are boys, the "anti-racism" racism against white people (as Michael Walsh explains, those pushing diversity, inclusion and equity really do want you of a pasty complexion to die), but also the deliberate destruction of our economies and infrastructure starting out in the hollowing out of our manufacturing sector by outsourcing jobs to the Far East and Central America, but the blatant acts intended to destroy our energy sector under the excuse of global warming. As the author of the Burning Platform blog puts it:

It isn’t a coincidence that hundreds of food processing plants have been burnt to the ground in the last year. The shutting down of nuclear power plants across Europe, with no replacement energy sources is madness, but is being done by globalist puppet leaders across the continent. Biden and his handlers have banned pipelines, fracking, drilling and anything designed to produce more fossil fuel energy. The green energy lies are spewed 24/7, based upon fantasy thinking. These evil acolytes of Satan want you to starve and freeze and then beg them to save you by surrendering your freedom, liberty, and lives to their totalitarian whims.

And from another author:

    In recent years, we have found gigantic copper deposits in Minnesota and a large lithium deposit in Nevada. Both are needed for an on-demand energy information economy. Will environmental wackos let them be mined? No.

    California really needs a lot of fresh water. If you think that global warming is happening, they really need a lot of fresh water. Will they build desalination plants along the coast to pump water to farmers in the Central Valley that need it? No. The environmental wackos are against it and people that live on the coast think they will be eyesores.

    Instead, no one does anything. Politicians score political points. The problems remain and the citizens get screwed. How do you like paying your taxes now?

      And now, as Philip Pilkington, writing at The Spectator, warns, we are facing an impending global depression. He writes:

    The rapid economic collapse that Britain is facing is simply an accelerated version of what the whole of Europe is about to go through; unsustainable borrowing to fund the gap between high energy prices and what households can actually afford. With the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipeline, there is now no feasible way back. Europe can no longer physically import Russian gas – prices will remain high until Europe builds more energy capacity, which could take years.

    What is likely to come of this? High energy prices will render European manufacturing uncompetitive. European manufacturers will be forced to pass through the higher energy costs in the form of higher prices and consumers will find it cheaper to buy products from countries with normal energy prices. The only logical European response to the threat of widespread deindustrialisation is to raise tariffs. This is the only way to equalise prices between more expensive European goods and cheaper foreign goods, therefore artificially supporting European manufacturing. This strategy will lower living standards, depriving Europeans of cheaper goods, but it will at least preserve some manufacturing jobs.

    This process looks remarkably like the start of the Great Depression. In the 1920s, due to lopsided financial arrangements initiated in the Treaty of Versailles, western economies accumulated enormous amounts of debt. In 1929, the collapse of the American stock market removed one of the key remaining props and the western economies collapsed. Europe went first and, as trade dried up, America followed it down the hole.

    Modern western economies have been accumulating debt for decades. But since the lockdowns in early 2020, this debt accumulation has gone into overdrive. In 2019, Eurozone government debt-to-GDP was 83.8 per cent. In 2020, after the lockdown bailouts were unveiled it shot up to 97.2 per cent. In the same period, Britain’s debt-to-GDP ratio went from 83.8 per cent to 93.9 per cent. These are the largest single increases in history. The run-up in debt during the lockdown was probably unavoidable. But it certainly triggered the beginning of the inflationary pressures we now see everywhere, especially because the lockdowns themselves completely demolished supply chains. So, more money chasing fewer goods. But what has happened since the start of this year is something else entirely.

    The Russian invasion of Ukraine has triggered an energy price war in Europe that is forcing even higher levels of government borrowing to cover energy costs. Unlike the lockdowns, these energy price increases are putting direct pressure on both prices and the trade balance between countries. Higher energy prices mean that Europe must send more euros and pounds abroad to get energy and so the value of imports rises and these higher import costs are fed through to consumers as businesses try to offset rising energy costs by raising prices. The situation is no longer remotely sustainable. This is almost certainly our 1929 moment.

    In the 1930s, Europe fell into an economic black hole. Its economy collapsed and so all the trade that it did with the rest of the world was sucked down the hole with it. Europe then turned in on itself and started raising trade barriers to eke out some semblance of economic normality. This was a classic case of what economists called the ‘fallacy of composition’: what was good for Europe in particular, was bad for the world economy and since Europe was part of the world economy, it turned out to be bad for Europe too. The world slipped into depression.

    Could the same thing happen today? The Office of the United States Trade Representative estimates that the United States engaged in over $5.6 trillion of trade – roughly 26 per cent of GDP – in 2019. In the same year, trade with the European Union was estimated at $1.1 trillion – that is approximately 20 per cent of total trade. As European falls into the hole, this trade will fall with it. The American economy, already frail, will likely fall too.

    One key difference this time around is that there is a rival economic bloc that could be insulated from these dynamics, the emerging Brics+: Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa and Argentina – with Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia also joining the queue. Since the start of the war in Ukraine, the Brics countries have been solidifying trade and financial ties and adding new members. It appears that the goal is for these economies to decouple as much as possible from the West. If they are successful in doing that – and it looks like they may be – they may avoid the depression. The Nord Stream sabotage could be the point at which future historians mark the end of western dominance.

Well, we will see. While experts believe India will weather a coming global recession, this is because it is truly decoupled from other economies. China is not as its economy depends on foreign trade. In fact, declining trade is already taking a toll on the Chinese economy as the yuen has fallen far enough in value that China is preparing its banks dump dollars in order to buy foreign held yuen in order to try and boost the value of the Chinese currency and probably to offset depreciation pressure due to the People's Bank of China (it's central bank) is pumping money like crazy into the economy.

    Getting back to the point of this post, a declining economy means that businesses have less money to spend on things like fixing toilets or running the air conditioning in hallways. But don't worry because soon you'll own nothing and you will be happy.

Monday, October 3, 2022

The Docent's Memo (Oct. 3, 2022)


VIDEO: "Fencing advice for KNIFE FIGHTING: CUTTING"--scholagladiatoria (29 min.)

Firearms & Self-Defense

  • Be sure to check out the latest Defense Pistolcraft post from Jon Low and Greg Ellifritz's most recent Weekend Knowledge Dump. Both have lots of links to great articles and videos. Jon wins the quotable quote contest with this one, though: "The number one way to avoid a home invasion is to not be a drug dealer."– Chuck Haggard. 

    It's a good reminder that lifestyle choices have far more to do with not being a crime victim than any other factor. We (and I definitely fall in this camp) tend to focus on firearms and techniques because they are cool and exciting. But firearms are to self-defense what fire extinguishers are to keeping your family and yourself safe from house fires--tools of last resort. 

    I'm old enough to remember when smoking in bed or falling asleep smoking was one of the leading--if not the leading--cause of house fires, with it quite common to see public service announcements on television warning of the danger. This risk has been mitigated over the years due to fewer people smoking and the use of fire resistant materials in bedding so that currently, cooking is apparently the leading cause of house fires. Nevertheless, smoking in bed remains the leading cause of deadly house fires. Obviously, then, one of the best ways to avoid dying in a house fire is to not smoke in bed; if and if you don't smoke at all, so much the better.

    Similarly, not using or dealing in illegal drugs is one of the best ways to avoid being the victim of a homicide. Don't believe me? A study performed by researchers with the Rochester Institute of Technology that analyzed homicides committed in 2000 and 2001 reported that links between homicide and drugs were found in 86.4% of the homicide cases. Although there is obviously some overlap, "the most common link was that there was a police record of drug use for the victim or suspect (66.7% of cases). The second most common link was for a police record of drug sales for victim or suspect (64.2%). Heavy drug use or affiliation with a known drug group was also present in more than 40% of cases. The homicides most directly linked to drugs include 23.5% involving drug related robberies and 11.1% involving drug transactions gone badly or battles for turf." The use of alcohol also plays a significant role in violent crimes.

  • "Concealed Carry Corner: The Rise Of PDWs For Personal Protection." The author looks at the increasing interest in PDW (that is, submachine gun and machine pistol sized weapons) by civilians with a concomitant interest in equipment (generally backpacks) that can carry body armor panels. From my perspective, it seems to be a confluence of various factors including the popularity of the AR pistol, the popularity of pistol-caliber carbines, and media attention on high casualty shootings. Thus, pistol caliber weapons with the compactness and firepower of an AR pistol. I've suggested AR pistols or PDW type weapons for protection against large number of attackers, such as the large and aggressive groups of motorcyclists that have on occasion pursued and beaten drivers that have earned their ire or the mobs that formed as a part of the BLM riots. The latter seems to be a motivation of the people to whom the author of this piece spoke. He writes: 
A really interesting response I got from almost all of them was the decrease in police presence in metro areas and having a plan to keep safe as a result of less policing. The vast majority of the people I interviewed have families and carry PDW-style firearms to keep their families safe. I didn’t get the impression they were out actively looking to stop a bad guy or had any type of violent fantasizing which is what I worried would be the case. Almost everyone talked about personal safety and the importance of self-defense.
  • "Introduction To Metallic Cartridge Reloading: Process Walkthrough." This is the second in a series from Shooting Sports USA on reloading ammunition. As you can guess from the title, this article briefly explains each of the steps in prepping cases and reloading them, with some final comments on testing loads and safe ammo storage.
  • "Send That Magazine Home — Preferred Seating Techniques" by Jim Davis. The authors goes into some detail on how to properly seat a magazine in an AR style rifle when doing a magazine swap. His suggestion is to use a "beer can" grasp of the magazine and then push it all the way in, and then give a tug to make sure it is seated correctly. Although he also discusses the technique that involves slamming the bottom of the magazine with your hand to ensure a lock, he notes a couple disadvantages: if you have damaged feed lips, the hard slap can actually knock cartridges loose and into the action jamming the weapon, and if the magazine doesn't lock users can become so focused on repeatedly slapping the magazine that they aren't paying attention to time (in competition) or what is happening downrange (if in a tactical environment).
  • And another from Jim Davis: "The Scars Tell All — A Tale About Wounds." The author relates what he learned about gun and knife attacks and injuries while working in the prison system, not only from his own observations but also from asking prisoners about how they got their scars. One story:
    During another attack, one inmate grabbed clothing shears from a garment shop inside the prison. As a conflict-resolution tactic (he was defending himself against a larger inmate), he began stabbing another inmate in the midsection with much gusto. I’m not sure how many times he stabbed him, but it was a lot.

    Undaunted, the man who was stabbed kept going after the stabber (note to self: this is not an advisable tactic). The stabber played along and continued to deliver more strikes. The wounded man’s intestines were spilling out, but his rage continued to drive him on the attack.

    Officers responded and pulled him out into the corridor near where I was working.

    As blood poured out of him, he kept trying to get back up to attack the other inmate. They threw him on a trash cart, where he looked like his birth certificate expired.  Officers began the run down to the dispensary as they were calling for a Life-Flight helicopter to evacuate him to a hospital. A few moments later, I heard a radio call: “Cancel the Life-Flight, we no longer need it.” He had, indeed, succumbed to his wounds — but not before demonstrating an astonishing drive to stay in the fight and continue the violence.

The basic gist is that both handguns and knives are not very good at stopping a determined and motivated person, and that people can continue operating (and even recover) from an amazing amount of damage.
  • "Gear Review: Wheeler F.A.T. Wrench Torque Tool." I have the older style of the FAT Wrench where there is a gauge at the end of the tool that shows you where you set the torque and then when you reach that point, there is a "break" that stops you from overtightening. This review is about a newer version that is electronic: the gauge has been replaced by a digital readout and the device beeps as you get closer to your set torque until it reaches a solid tone when you reach that setting. I think I would prefer the older style; I can't help but wonder if this new electronic version is cheaper to manufacture. On one of my more recent trips to a gun store I spotted a competitor's version (sorry, I can't remember the brand) of the FAT Wrench that appeared to be like the older version of Wheeler's product. That aside, these screwdriver style torque wrenches are very handy for smaller projects such as tightening down screws or nuts for scope mounts or the scope brackets.
VIDEO: "Minuteman Battle Belt Setup! What Do You Need? Do The Things!"--Asymmetrical Preparedness (19 min.)

VIDEO: "How to setup a 'gunfighter' Belt / Battle Belt / Ferro Concepts Bison Belt"--Garand Thumb (24 min.). I thought that these were both useful videos although (because) they come at the issue from two perspectives: the Asymmetrical Preparedness guy approaching it from the perspective of prepping and Garand Thumb from the perspective of an operator. 

Prepping & Survival

Unless your residence is on fire, bugging out in an emergency should be akin to pulling the trigger in a confrontation. As in something that’s done as truly the last resort – because nothing good happens after you execute that trigger pull.  Just as lots of bad things may happen after a defensive gun use, lots of bad things may happen after you leave your home during turbulent times.

I tend to agree with him. Unless there is a direct threat to your residence or staying there simply become untenable (e.g., approaching hurricane, a flood, wildfire, an advancing army or large mobs, etc.), there are less unknown factors with staying in place than in evacuating and going somewhere else, not the least is that at your residence you have supplies and resources. Obviously, if you have a fully stocked retreat--whether it is a cabin in the hills or a second mansion in Tuscany (and large bank accounts in various tax havens)--your calculus may be different.
  • "Adept Armor Releases the New Lightweight Dragoon Plate Carrier." Per the article, "[t]he plate carrier weighs in at just over 1.5 lbs when fully configured with the cummerbund and retails for an MSRP of $220." Part of the reason for the low weight appears from the photographs to be that they have remove any unnecessary fabric. Thus, the plate seems to be held in with a thick mesh of laser cut fabric rather than fully enclosed: you can see the corners of the plates and portions of the edges of the plate. The big plus of this carrier is not only is it light weight but you could wear it under clothing (a jacket or coat I suppose). I have a British Osprey Mark IV plate carrier system, but even leaving off some of the non-essential parts, it is still bulky and cumbersome. I recently purchased a Sentry Plate Carrier made by Condor because I wanted something more basic and barebone that could be worn under clothing. Yes, it is not as heavy duty as the Osprey, and I doubt that someone could actually use the drag handle to pull me out of a danger zone (whereas the one on the Osprey could probably be used to pull a horse), but it better fulfills my need for something that is quick to put on and can, if needed, by worn under a jacket or oversized shirt if I needed to wear it and still have some semblance of being low key.
VIDEO: "Civilizations of the Future"--Whatifalthist (36 min.)
Western Civilization seems to be in a terminal decline, so the author decides to try and predict what civilizations might develop in the future. He believes that an U.S. dominated English speaking civilization comprised mostly of the Anglo countries, Mexico, and parts of the Caribbean will become a new civilization distinct from that of Europe. He also sees the possibility of one or two powerful civilizations springing up in Sub-Saharan Africa. He also discusses the importance of religion in shaping a new civilization. An interesting video even if you end up not agreeing with some (or even most) of his conclusions.

News & Headlines

That commitment [of the West to support Ukraine] runs head-on into the situation’s most fundamental strategic reality: Russia cannot afford to lose this war. Not only is the life of President Putin’s government on the line—perhaps his, too—but so is the future of the Russian Federation. A Russian defeat by Ukraine would so delegitimize the state itself, especially as the real casualty figures start to leak out, that the Russian Federation could follow the Soviet precedent and disintegrate. I am certain Mr. Putin knows this. He knows that a war where the U.S. has no real interests at stake is for Russia an existential conflict. And he knows how to make certain Russia does not lose: go nuclear. 

I disagree with Lind's analogy (I think the situation is more akin to that of the late 1930s where certain powerful factions were determined to destroy Germany), but I cannot disagree with his assessment of Russia's strategic position.

    In fact, I suspect that the same powerful faction that appeared to steer the United States into economically isolating Germany before WWII and then to indirectly fund the war against Germany before the formal declaration of war in 1941 are probably behind the current conflict. Michael Yon certain believes that there is some faction(s) at work here:

    My current working paradigm is proving highly predictive. In this paradigm, Russia itself is being manipulated and used as an unwitting, unwilling tool in Germany's suicide, total destruction of the EU, and global Megacide far beyond any pervious genocide.

    If my working paradigm is accurate, we will see pipelines and other infrastructure shut down or attacked before our eyes. 2023 begins the year of mass death.

As for Germany's suicide, David Chu at the Unz Review has an interesting article on the topic, including a link to a RAND report from January of this year that concluded that the only way for the United States to survive economically is to destroy Germany's manufacturing capacity. I don't know if the RAND report was looked at, let alone relied upon by anyone in power, but I believe that the same faction(s) that want to see Germany permanently weakened also, ultimately, want to see the West destroyed. 

    Meanwhile, the Taliban appear to be positioning themselves for a possible Russian defeat and loss of power by preparing to spread their jihad into the former Soviet republics in central Asia.  

    While we have seen gas prices in the United States double since Biden took office with lesser increases for other types of energy, Americans do not face the nation destroying energy price increases that Europe--particularly that Germany and Central Europe face--as a consequence of "Green" energy policies and the loss of access to cheap Russian gas. For instance, with prices expressed in US dollars per MMBtu, the "Germany Natural Gas Border Price is at a current level of 51.15, up from 32.91 last month and up from 12.52 one year ago. This is a change of 55.40% from last month and 308.4% from one year ago." And in July 2020, so a bit over 2 years ago, the price was 1.64. You can get a sense of the impact by watching this recent video from Survival Lilly discussing the home heating issues in Austria:

    Pipeline was at 3000psi approx and at the time of the incident they had the pressure on the Russian end down to 80 bar (1160psi ) according to the Russians and then dropped to 4 bar shortly after explosion. That would be close to water pressure.

    If you have 3000psi on one side and 1160 on the other side it will move.

    Media briefly reported initial pressure of 800 bar then corrected it to 80 next day.

It's a theory and a plausible one given Russian (and before it, Soviet) attitudes toward maintenance. After all, we saw Russia's initial invasion of Ukraine fail spectacularly because of Russia's poor maintenance of their vehicles. But while this and other theories of what might have happened continue to circulate, the primary theory bandied about (at least on most of the websites I visit) is that the U.S. and/or NATO was behind what happened. For instance, Ron Unz reasons:

    Europe is facing its worst energy crisis in generations, with numerous factories shutting down and severe hardship expected during the approaching winter. Heavily-industrialized Germany has been especially hard hit, with more than half of all small- and mid-sized businesses fearful that they might be forced to close, an economic catastrophe of Great Depression proportions. The only near-term hope of salvation had been an end to the self-destructive energy sanctions these countries had imposed upon Russia, which would have allowed plentiful and cheap Russian natural gas to resume flowing through the Russian-owned Nord Stream pipelines.

    Although the European governments remained firmly opposed to that solution, many ordinary Europeans felt differently, and in recent days large public demonstrations in Germany and the Czech Republic had demanded that the sanctions be lifted. There was widespread speculation that such popular protests would eventually carry the day, if not immediately then once winter hardship became too severe. The outcome would be a negotiated end to the Ukraine war along the general lines suggested by Russia, resulting in a strategic defeat for America and NATO.

    Then on September 26th, this geopolitical landscape was upended as a series of large explosions severely damaged the huge Russian pipelines, putting them out of commission indefinitely, probably even permanently. With the pipelines no longer operational, Europe would have to make due with the limited supply of American gas that can be shipped by tanker, at a cost many times greater. The massive explosive attacks on the undersea pipelines—rather euphemistically characterized as “sabotage” in the media headlines—had occurred near the coastal waters of Denmark and Sweden, in an area of the Baltic heavily monitored and patrolled by NATO warships.

The obvious conclusion, he argues, is that the U.S. was behind what happened to the pipelines. After discussing the official, public explanation offered up by such entities as The Washington Post--that the Russians deliberately sabotages their own pipelines--he then discusses dissenting opinions that suggest that the United States, or perhaps Poland with U.S. assistance, was behind the incident. Unz reasons:

Despite the lack of any hard evidence, the likelihood that America played a central role in the attacks seems a near-certainty. Means, motive, and opportunity all point so strongly in a single direction that I doubt that there are too many rational, intelligent individuals who sincerely believe otherwise, although for obvious reasons they may mouth deceptive evasions or choose to keep silent. Yet virtually no one in the major media is willing to recognize this obvious reality.

But then, in what I believe is a strong argument against U.S. involvement, he points out:

If Germany and the rest of Europe undergo an economic collapse, the American economy can hardly avoid severe damage as well, but I think the more important impact will be upon the longer-term geopolitical alignment of that continent. Europeans will suffer greatly this winter and despite the solid wall of media propaganda, more and more of them may begin to recognize the architect of their distress [i.e., the U.S. and NATO].

Read the whole thing. I personally believe that if the pipeline was sabotaged, Israel is a more likely suspect than the U.S., seeing this as an opportunity to resurrect their own gas pipeline project which was scuppered by the U.S. early this year.

  • "Speech On the Accession of the New Regions to Russia." The Unz Review has the full text of Putin's speech. As you would expect, it boils down to "Russia good, America bad." Oh, and he wants to reconstitute the (pre-Soviet) Russian Empire. He completely lost me at this part, though:
While we – we are proud that in the 20th century our country [i.e., the Soviet Union] led the anti-colonial movement, which opened up opportunities for many peoples around the world to make progress, reduce poverty and inequality, and defeat hunger and disease.

Yes, they led the revolutionary causes that unleased war and terrorism across the African continent and still reverberates to this day, but it did not "make progress, reduce poverty and inequality, and defeat hunger and disease," but, like everything communism touches, made it much, much worse.  And his finger pointing at the Western allies during World War II for the destruction Dresden, Hamburg, Hiroshima and Nagasaki is the most rank hypocrisy. But his speech confirms that politicians are, everywhere, the same.

Henry has been praised as a pioneer of the transgender movement after coming out as transgender in an interview with BuzzFeed News in 2015. Henry claimed to be the first known active-duty Army officer to come out as transgender, and the first to legally change their name while in service.

    In a leap toward low-cost batteries for large-scale grid storage, an international team of researchers led by MIT material chemist Donald Sadoway have invented a battery made of aluminum and sulfur, two of the most abundant and low-cost materials in the world.

    The nascent battery already has an energy density comparable to that of today’s lithium-ion batteries at cell level, and should come in at less than a sixth of the cost, the team reported in Natureon 24 August. The battery also charges in minutes and is nonflammable thanks to its molten salt electrolyte that does not burn. “You can put a blowtorch to this thing and it won’t catch fire,” says Sadoway.

    Other than storing solar and wind power for the grid, the new battery would be ideal for small-scale residential backup systems and EV charging stations, where they could quickly charge several cars at once.

  • “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there”--L.P. Hartley. We all learned in school how, during the last Ice Age, sea levels were 300 to 400 feet lower than today, but that is hard to visualize without an understanding of what lands would be exposed. The site Vivid Maps has a page on "Coastlines of the Ice Age" which gives you an idea at the amount of additional land that would have been exposed. Pay particular attention to the vast amounts of land exposed in South East Asia and to the north of Australia; and, although smaller, the additional land exposed in and around Britain, Florida, and South Eastern Europe. To put this in a bit of context, according to the UN, more than 600 million people (around 10 per cent of the world’s population) live in coastal areas that are less than 10 meters above sea level and nearly 2.4 billion people (about 40 per cent of the world’s population) live within 100 km (60 miles) of the coast. And, from another study:

As of 1994, an estimated 1.88 × 109 people, or 33.5% of the world’s population, lived within 100 vertical meters of sea level, but only 15.6% of all inhabited land lies below 100 m elevation. The median person lived at an elevation of 194 m above sea level. Numbers of people decreased faster than exponentially with increasing elevation. 

The percentage of people living nearer to coastlines and at lower elevations would probably have been greater in ancient times due to lower population densities (i.e., they wouldn't be forced into settling in less desirable locations), and the need to live closer to sites of natural resources and trade routes such as found along coastlines and river valleys.

Friday, September 30, 2022

"It's A Mistake"--Was Nord Stream A Result Of Shoddy Maintenance?

Over at The Lawdog Files, the author suggests that the Russians were responsible for the Nord Stream explosions because they haven't been maintaining their equipment. He writes:

    I call them “incidents” for a reason. I grew up in overseas oilfields. I try to, by training, observe everything from as objectively neutral a viewpoint as possible.

    In my experience when anything involving energy-industry hydrocarbons explodes … well, sabotage isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. And honestly, when it comes to a pipeline running natural gas under Russian (non)maintenance, an explosion means that it’s Tuesday. Or Friday. Or another day of the week ending in “y”.

    “But, LawDog,” I hear you say, “It was multiple explosions!”

    Yes, 17 hours apart. No military is going to arrange for two pipes in the same general area to be destroyed 17 hours apart. Not without some Spec Ops guy having a fit of apoplexy. One pipe goes up in a busy shipping lane, in a busy sea, and everyone takes notice. Then you wait 17 hours to do the second — with 17 hours for people to show up and catch you running dirty? Nah, not buying it.

    The Nord pipelines weren’t in use. To me, that means it’s time for maintenance! Hard to maintain pipes when product is flowing.

    Pipelines running methane, under saltwater, require PMCS* quicker than you’d think, and more often than you’d believe.

    I would bet a cup of coffee that any of the required weekly and monthly checks and services since the Russians took over have been pencil-whipped. (See Andreev Bay 1982.)

    They officially shut it down in July of 2020 for maintenance, and had cornbread hell getting it back on-line, and “issues” with maintaining flow throughout the next year; shut it down again in July of 2021, with bigger “issues” — we say “issues” because the Russians won’t explain what these issues were — and even more problems, including unexplained, major disruptions in gas flow in Dec21/Jan22; Feb 22; and April 22.

    Yeah, there’s problems with those lines. And these are the same folks that PMCS’d Chernobyl.

    So. They’ve got pipelines with issues that are currently pressurised (with highly flammable, if not outright explosive, natural gas/methane), but not moving product. It’s time to find out what those issues are.

    And they blew up. My shocked face, let me show you it. Next time, tell Sergei to put out the cigarette before pulling a pressure test.

    Is there a possibility of sabotage? Yeah. Especially in the current world situation — but folks thought the Kursk went down because of hostile actions, too.

    So, yes, hostile actions are a possibility, but mass amounts of explosive hydrocarbon gas + 300 feet down under salt water + shoddy Russian maintenance = “Nobody could have possibly seen this coming”, and yet another entry into the extensive Wikipedia page on “Soviet/Russian disasters”.

He continues by discussing what could have caused the explosions. Read the whole thing.

Russia Continues To Lose Ground In The Ukraine

 In World War II, Germany launched a surprise attack into the Soviet Union called Operation Barbarossa . Without going into detail, notwiths...