Sunday, October 30, 2011

Photos of the East Coast Snowstorms

This article from the Daily Mail (UK) has lots of photos about the snow storms on the East Coast. Once again, a major winter storm (well, autumn storm in this case) is expected to leave millions without power for an extended period of time. Remember, for your prepping plans: food, water, and some way of cooking and heating. As far as power needs, some of you may actually benefit from a power inverter more than a small generator. Here is a discussion on that topic at Instapundit.

Also, Connecticut Light and Power customers told to expect to be without power for up to one week. (H/t Instapundit).

There have been numerous posts at SurvivalBlog about OpSec concerns when using a generator and light sources following a disaster. I think the primary issue is theft--thieves can see the lights or hear the generator, and take it.

Back in my college days, while living in an apartment complex that was probably 90% students, we experienced an extended power outage. Taking a walk in the evening, you could easily tell the LDS students from the others--their apartments were the only ones with any light, be it from oil lamps, camp lanterns, or candles.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Book Review - Trigger Men by Hans Halberstadt

Book: Trigger Men--Shadow Team, Spider-Man, the Magnificent Bastards, and the American Combat Sniper (St. Martin's Griffin, N.Y.: 2008) (Amazon link here).

Overview: Trigger Men combines stories about actual U.S. military snipers that served in Iraq with information on the current selection and training process of snipers in formal sniper programs, as well as "apprenticeships" in the war zones of Iraq. There are also chapters discussing weapons, ballistics, and terminal ballistics.

Impression: I really liked this book. It was a good blend of personal anecdotes and observations, with some overview thrown in. While not a "history," per se, of sniper operations in Iraq, it gives you a good idea of how sniping missions are (or rather, were) being carried out there, some of the problems that arose and were addressed (or not, as the case may be), and some discussion of practical details about weaponry. Because the stories came from snipers serving in Iraq, the missions described primarily concern urban sniping; generally at fairly short ranges as would be expected in a city environment. Despite the time frame, there are no accounts of sniper missions or operations in Afghanistan. Also, while use of rifles using the .50 BMG and .300 Win Mag are discussed, the book apparently pre-dates deployment of the .338 Lapua.  There is some discussion of the latter cartridge, but none of the stories related about the snipers involved weapons using that round.

I think anyone interested in the Iraqi conflict, long-distance shooting, or sniping, would enjoy this book.

Notable Points: For someone interested in prepping, this book actually has a wealth of ideas and points as to urban sniping, and differences from rural sniping missions. One thing in particular that I found interesting in the book was the frank discussions about terminal ballistics. For instance:
Even when a person is shot in the torso within effective range, the immediate effect will vary tremendously from person to person. In a common reaction, the muscle groups that provide upright posture and support immediately relax and the person drops straight to the ground. Sometimes the arms will fly upward, a phenomenon one high-scoring team called the wave. Head shots will sometimes result in a violent spasm when leg muscle groups suddenly and violently contract; as a result, the person seems to jump or leap in the air.

A person shot in the torso is not normally dead and may not be unconscious. He may have minutes or hours of life remaining. Sometimes a person with such ultimately mortal wounds will recover for a bit, pick up his weapon, and get back in the fight. In the wide, wonderful world of warfare, just because someone has been shot does not mean that you can forget about him as a threat. He can still kill you if he wants, and for many of them that is exactly what they want to do as their last living act.
Note: I did not receive any compensation from Amazon, author or publisher for this review.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

More on DYI Weapons

I've posted before about DIY security and weapons. Here is another article on the subject from the New York Times, discussing DIY refurbishing of weapons in Afghanistan. The author makes a salient point, too:
But whatever your take on the prospects of Afghan security force survivability over the next decade, no matter who you think will pay for it all, what it will cost and how much chance the project has of success, this weapon carries a reminder made of steel. It is this: Whatever becomes of the now sprawling Afghan forces the American taxpayers have underwritten and equipped, many of the hundreds of thousands of weapons the United States has provided them will stick around, and assume all sorts of new uses and unexpected shapes. We’d like to say: Bicycle owners, beware, and leave it there. History suggests that the weapons’ effects will go well beyond that. An army’s tools often long outlast an army’s creators, and can become instruments for forces those who handed out the weapons did not foresee.

Has the Chinese Real-Estate Bubble Finally Burst?

I've previously discussed concerns of a Chinese real-estate bubble.

Today, I came across this report indicating a sudden drop in prices in the Chinese real estate market, as well as other indicators indicating that China's economy is slowing. (H/t Instapundit). From the article:
Stunned. That probably best describes the mood of China's vast pool of property owners. For the last few years, anyone with as much as a taxi driver's salary has been speculating in the real estate market, scooping up off-plan properties at terms that would make a Countrywide mortgage broker blush.
And why not? Chinese culture has almost universally adopted the attitude that property prices never go down. Minor fluctuations and corrections over the last several months have been written off as statistical error.  Well, reality has now uncomfortably set in.
Recent reports from the National Bureau of Statistics show that home prices have fallen up to 50% in many parts of the country in the period from July to September. But who gives a damn about government reports? The real evidence is on the ground.
Here in Shanghai, nearly 300 angry customers stormed a sales office of Longfor Properties Co Ltd after finding out that the developer had slashed prices on one of its projects by nearly 25%... practically overnight.
Another angry mob in Shanghai assembled outside the sales office of China Overseas Property Group Co after that company made similar price concessions for new buyers. 
These were obviously the poor suckers who bought in months (or years) ago at a much higher price... and they're not especially happy about a property crash.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Germany--It's Time to Pay the Piper

The German chancellor has some comments about the Greek bailout that has raised some eyebrows. (h/t Instapundit).

According to the latest report of the so-called troika, consisting of experts sent from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, Greece will need even higher debt restructuring and losses for private lenders compared to what EU leaders had agreed upon on 21 July.

"But debt restructuring alone does not solve the problem. Painful structural reforms have to be made, otherwise even after debt restructuring we're back to where we are today," Merkel warned.
That's why, she said, Greece would have to be "assisted" for quite some time. "It's not enough that the troika comes and goes every three months. It would be desirable to have a permanent supervision in Greece," she said, adding that this issue would be brought up at the summit.

In return for what seems to be an unprecedented sovereignty loss in an old EU member state, Merkel promised German investments and mentioned a meeting of local representatives from Germany and Greece in the coming weeks.

"We want Greece to be back on its feet again as soon as possible and will do everything we can to this end," she concluded.
(Emphasis added). Lord Byron must be weeping.

And while you are reading that story, check this one out as well:

The Greek armed forces now appear to be entering the political and street-level debate in the country over EU- and IMF-imposed austerity, with a group of retired Greek officers storming the defence ministry and the armed forces’ professional organisation issuing a stern warning to the government that the military’s confidence in the “intentions of the state” regarding their pensions has been “shaken”.
The story references other incidents showing growing concern by Greek military and veterans.

Anecdotal Evidence of Stagflation

While financial news sources have been warning of stagflation for several months (see e.g., here), it sometimes helps to hear something other than an ivory tower analysis. The Farmgirl blog posts about stagflation "Trends":
I have noticed a trend lately that disturbs me. Granted I am out in the middle of nowhere but our grocery shelves have more bare spots and less variety. More store brands and less name brands. Prices are going through the ceiling and what used to be staples aren’t so much anymore.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

20 Million Tons of Debris Headed Toward Hawaii.

A story from the Daily Mail reporting that 20 million tons of debris from the Japanese Tsunami is headed to Hawaii and the West Coast of the U.S.
‘We have a rough estimate of 5 to 20 million tons of debris coming from Japan,’ University of Hawaii researcher Jan Hafner told KITV.
Experts have revised predictions to say the debris will now reach the Midway Islands by winter and Hawaii in less than two years.
The debris is now expected to reach the West Coast in 3 years.

Benchmade AFCK Folding Knife

Yesterday, I lost my Benchmade AFCK (Advanced Folding Combat Knife) while on a hunting trip. Since I had owned the knife for nearly 15 years, and carried and used it daily, I thought I would provide my thoughts about it.

First, the stats for the knife:
  • G10 handle scales
  • Locking-liner locking system
  • 3.96" ATS-34 stainless steel blade
  • Clip point blade with round-hole opener
  • Closed length 5.3"
  • Overall length 9.24"
  • Weight: 4.20 oz.
 Unfortunately, the stats do not provide the full story about this knife. The knife had a full metal liner on both sides. Since it used a liner-locking system (i.e., a piece of the liner acts as a spring and locks underneath part of the blade to keep it open), it was mechanically very simple. In ~15 years of use, I never had a mechanical issue with the knife. The only maintenance was a periodic cleaning and lubrication with a thin oil (I found sewing machine oil works the best).

Unlike a lot of other knives on the market today, the AFCK is slim. It fits in the pocket and in the hand without feeling bulky. Having used it for many cutting tasks (as well as digging, one-time, in an emergency situation), the handle design works well both in a saber-hold, a reverse-hold, and for fine work with the finger over the top of the blade. Because of the large finger cut-out, and the grooves cut along the top of the very back of the blade, you can get a very firm grip on the knife. I don't remember every having problems with my grip slipping while using the knife.

Although the photograph above shows a plain-edged blade, it also came with half of the blade serrated, which was very nice for many tasks, including cutting cord, or shaving off fine pieces of wood or plastic.

The blade was ATS-34, which is a very hard stainless steel. It keeps an edge very well, but that also makes it difficult to sharpen. Fortunately, because of the hardness, it also means that you shouldn't have to sharpen it very often. I know that after purchasing and using the knife, I went several years before I felt that I had to sharpen it (and that was after the digging incident, which, since it was in sandy soil, quickly dulled the blade).

Another nice feature was that the blade was 4 inches long, whereas most folders seem to have settled on 3.5 inches. While the extra half-inch may not seem like much, I certainly thought it did--particularly with having a blade that was half-serrated. It gave me a usable length of serration, as well as a usable length of plain edge (one of my complaints with Spydero's serrated blades is the lack of any reasonable length of plain edge).

In short, it was probably one of the best folders every produced. Unfortunately, I've learned that Benchmade discontinued the AFCK several years ago. Thus, the final lesson. The two-is-one, one-is-none rule not only applies to tools that you carry, but tools that you own. If you come across a product that you really-really like, but realistically may be lost or destroyed in use, it may very well behoove you to get a backup while you can.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

DIY Security

The recent revelation that the United States was sending military "advisers" to help in the fight against the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Africa reminded of this article from earlier this year. The article describes one village's decision and efforts to protect themselves from the LRA rebels.
Obo was just one of hundreds of communities terrorized by the LRA. Many simply wither and die afterward.

But Obo didn’t.

Instead, Obo’s surviving villagers raised their own volunteer scout force (depicted above), armed it with homemade shotguns, and began disseminating intelligence on the LRA’s movements using the village’s sole, short-range FM radio transmitter.
 The article continues:
After the attack, the surviving villagers were determined to never again be defenseless. “We are not afraid,” an Obo resident named Joseph told Invisible Children’s Adam Finck. “We are not afraid because we are the victims. They attacked us. They took our children. They killed others of us. That motivates us not to be afraid of them.”

More than 200 men volunteered for scout duty, forming five platoons. “These ad-hoc groupings of young and old men from town patrol in the mornings and evenings, successfully … keeping a safe perimeter around Obo,” Finck reported after a trip to Obo in March.
But the men of Obo knew they needed more than courage and manpower. Too poor for military-grade weapons or even the kind of firearms American hunters take for granted, Obo set about building an arsenal of homemade, single-barrel shotguns loaded with hand-packed shells.

And to relay intelligence gathered by the scouts on their twice-daily patrols, Obo’s only radio DJ, a young man named Arthur, donated air time on his short-range FM transmitter. Between music sets, Arthur repeated information on LR movements gathered by the scouts, giving the few thousand Obo residents within range of his radio time to flee when the rebels approached.
 These efforts apparently worked in protecting the village against the LRA. To make their efforts more effective, the Invisible Children group mentioned in the article was providing a transmitter with greater range, so that more villagers, and even neighboring villages, could benefit from intelligence reports.

What is It?

Apparently, some construction project at the White House has left a large hole. No real information on what it is, unfortunately.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gear Review -- Camo-Form Self-Clinging Camouflage Wrap

On my recent hunting trip, I decided to try Camo-Form self-clinging camouflage wrap. Basically, it is the self-clinging bandages printed in a camouflage pattern. The package indicates that the wrap comes in several patterns, including Army digital, MARPAT desert, MARPAT woodland, standard desert, standard woodland, and snow. The pattern that I tested was the Army digital.

I was using a bolt-action rifle. While the stock was not what I would describe as "high gloss," I thought it might not hurt to put something over it to cut down on reflection and break up the pattern of the rifle. However, I also wanted something that I could easily remove.

The wrap actually clings to itself very well. In fact, you want to avoid "rolling" the edges of the wrap, because it is almost impossible to tear apart. (I had once section that I finally just had to cut off and throw away). The first thing I noticed with the wrap on was that it was tacky and provided an excellent grip. While I didn't shoot the rifle with the wrap on it, I suspect that the wrap would grab the skin on the cheek during recoil. Also, I would avoid putting it wrapping the barrel of a weapon where you will have a high volume of fire--I think the wrap would probably melt.

However, while applying the wrap, I immediately noted a significant flaw to my overall plan--you can't wrap around the bolt and action. The picture on the package shows the wrap applied to an AR style rifle, and this is probably where it would be best--a short actioned rifle with a matte finish on the receiver. Nevertheless, I was still able to wrap the barrel and fore-stock, and the rear stock, which would still break up the overall shape of the rifle.

Later in the day, it started raining. Since I didn't know how the wrap would work in the wet, and I didn't want it holding the moisture in close to the metal and wood, I took the wrapping off. Except for the issues noted above on "rolling" the edges, it came off fairly easily.

As a side-note, I would note that the Army digital pattern is terrible camouflage. I was in typical high-mountain forest, with a variety of pine, and a sprinkling of aspen and other deciduous undergrowth, the dominant colors were green and brown. The Army digital pattern was the wrong kind of green to mix into the forest, and the overall scheme has too much light coloration, making it too bright. However, after we reached the peak of the particular mountain on which were hunting, and I laid the rifle down to take off some of my gear, I discovered what the Army digital matches. I had stopped to take a break at a weathered granite outcropping, covered with greenish-grey lichen, and the grey and black splotches of old lichen. The camouflage blended right in.

To sum up, the camouflage pattern aside, the wrap seemed to work well for what it was intended. It is relatively easy to apply and remove, and allows you to easily change a camouflage pattern on rifles. Its best use would be on a rifle that already has a matte or flat finish. It would also be most effective with a rifle or long arm with a short action where you can get maximum coverage with the least interference with the mechanical workings of the weapon, such as an AR or break-action shotgun. I think it would have limited application on an AK style rifle because the realistic coverage area is so small. It would be almost useless on the HK G3/91 or similar system because you would not be able to wrap the barrel, the fore-stock, or receiver.

The Decay of Detroit

Detroit is what happens in a slow decline to the end of a civilization. An article describing the difficulties of keeping the street lights on in many areas of Detroit as vandals destroy transformers, thieves steal copper cables, and city maintenance can't keep up. Earlier this year, a pair of French photographers captured the growing blight that is Detroit. (Link here and here). According to the Daily Mail (UK), "[t]he population of devastated Detroit has dropped by 25 per cent in the past ten years and is now at its lowest since 1910," and "[a]lmost a third of the city's 140 square miles is vacant or derelict." From another article on the decline of Detroit:
 The vacant structures are dislike by the remaining population. They shelter criminals and drug users, packs of feral dogs, and pose a physical hazard through collapse and lead paint. A strong demolition policy has become an article of faith for city politicians. "Unbuilding has surpassed building as the city's major architectural activity," quipped one architect. Between 1978 and 1990, the city issued 9,000 building permits and 108,000 demolition permits. All told, between 1970 and 2000, over 161,000 houses were demolished....

Friday, October 14, 2011

Lessons Learned from Hunting

If you think that you might ever have to "bug out" on foot, there is nothing like a hunting or hiking trip to give you a quick fix of reality. General deer hunting season opened recently, and, although I hadn't been hunting for several years, I decided this year to try my skill (or luck, as the case may be). I learned some important lessons.

First, I work at a sedentary job. And it showed. While I have been exercising regularly, hiking up the side of a mountain with all my gear was tough and slow. I had to stop a couple times just to catch my breath and let my heart rate slow down to something reasonable. It made me realize that I'm not in as good of shape as I need to be. My guess is that most of us are probably not as fit as we should be. While we do not necessarily need to be as fit as our combat troops, any serious prepper should be able to move through demanding terrain carrying a load, and be in good enough condition to haul ourselves over an obstacle.While I don't like to rely on television shows or movies as examples of "real life," I was watching an episode of "The Walking Dead" the other day where the characters had to pull themselves up and over a 10 foot chain-link fence to escape from zombies chasing them. I'm not sure that I could do that, yet in a bug-out situation, it is entirely possible that I would have to quickly clamber over a fence or gate to escape dogs or pursuers. Could you?

I also learned something important about stock length. It was cold and, for about half of the time I was out, raining or drizzling. I had on a base layer of clothing, an insulating jacket (although not an extremely heavy one), and, part of the time, an outer waterproof shell. I was also using a military style Camelbak. Between the shoulder straps on the Camelbak, the jackets and base layer, it was hard to pull the rifle close enough to easily use the scope. At one point, where I was sitting on the hill-side, scoping an area looking for deer sign, I was unable to bring the rifle to bear on my right partly because I just couldn't hold it close enough to my shoulder but still twist my body. A shorter stock (like the standard WARSAW length stock) or an adjustable stock would have been extremely helpful.

While thinking about the Camelbak, I would also recommend getting a model that has a cutoff valve and a cover for the nozzle for hiking. Mine did and I was grateful for it. (I was using what appears to be an older version of this model).  (Conversely, when bicycling, I use a hydration pack--a Novara--that doesn't have a cap). At one time, after stopping and sitting down, I noticed that the nozzle was sticking down into some dirt, but since I had a cap to go over it, no problem. By flipping the cutoff valve between "on" and "off" as needed, I could keep air from getting into the hydration bag, which eliminated any sloshing sound from the bag.

Finally, while I did not have wool upper clothing, my pants were wool. Even though my legs got wet, I never had cold legs. And the pants were quiet. Just something to think about.

New Blog

I've pointed out before latter-day prophecy concerning the United States. More generally, we know from the Bible that the Second Coming will be at the end of or after the time of the Gentiles, suggesting a decline in Europe and the West, generally. I've posted on issues and news stories related to that issue, but I also don't want to distract from the primary purpose of this blog. Accordingly, I'm going to try to post other types of comments on different blog, called the Docent's Memo, and focus on survival, prepping, and End-Time prophecy here.

Lingering Radiation in Japan

Those of you preparing for a nuclear war scenario or living near a nuclear power plant may be interesting in this: the Economist reports lingering radiation dangers in Japan.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

More Shipping Lines are Arming Their Ships to Combat Piracy

This article from the Economist outlines a growing trend to place armed guards on ships traveling off of Africa, despite costs and liability concerns.Why?
The IMO says armed guards should not be an alternative to using other defensive methods, such as knocking pirates into the sea with high-pressure hoses, or installing strengthened “citadels” on ships in which crews can take refuge from attacks. However, what is concentrating shipowners’ minds, says Neil Smith of the Lloyd’s Market Association (which represents underwriters on the London insurance market) is that no ship with armed guards has yet been taken by pirates.
Frankly, this debate should never have even been needed. For thousands of years, "private" vessels have armed themselves against pirates. And, as sea voyages became longer, merchant vessels, such as Dutch Merchantmen and East Indian Company ships, took to carrying heavier loads of weapons in order to fight off pirates. That ships were able to forgo carrying armaments during the late 19th and first half of the 20th Century was a result of effective, aggressive, and brutal campaigns by the major naval powers to crush pirates in the 1800s.

This is not some obscure lesson of history. The Mediterranean became "a Roman lake" only after Pompeii used a Roman fleet to seek out and destroy the pirates. A young United States was paying tribute to the Barbary Pirates until it decided to take more forceful action by sending a naval force into the port at Tripoli. 

Keeping the sea lanes open is the purpose of a deep water navy. Unfortunately, this purpose seems to have been forgotten in our rush to prostrate ourselves before the alter of humanism. But while the Western nations have forgotten that we live in a brutish and brutal world, others have not.

Nevertheless, even if the West had not grown too squeamish to actually use their navies to combat piracy, there is still the issue that navies (like police) cannot be everywhere all of the time. That is why prohibiting sailors (or anyone else) their God-given right to self-defense is such a pernicious evil.

Electro-Magnetic Weapons

From the Economist:
BULLETS and bombs are so 20th-century. The wars of the 21st will be dominated by ray guns. That, at least, is the vision of a band of military technologists who are building weapons that work by zapping the enemy’s electronics, rather than blowing him to bits. The result could be conflict that is less bloody, yet more effective, than what is now seen as conventional battle.
(Link). My first thought was, of course, how would that work against an insurgent. The article mentions a micro-wave weapon designed to produce "discomfort" on enemy troops. So what. That is a crowd control weapon, not a counter-insurgency weapon. My guess is that these weapons are being developed with an eye toward China, not Afghanistan.

Violence Against the Coptic Minority in Egypt.

Story and analysis here. While the article points out that the Copts have fared better than other Christian minority groups in the Middle-East, the pessimistic note at the end is fully justified. Almost all other Middle-Eastern nations had sizable Christian and/or Jewish communities into the beginning of the 20th Century. All have fallen victim to various pogroms (the Armenian genocide merely being the most openly egregious example) that have either killed or driven out these Communities. (One of the most recent is the shameful persecution and expulsion of Christians from Iraq following the United States' occupation).   

Recent Research on the Black Plague

A while back, I had written about the black plague. Here is an article discussing conclusions reached from genetic comparisons between the Medieval Black Death and modern strains of the plague. The researchers here concluded that there are no significant genetic differences between the Medieval strain and modern strains that would explain why the Medieval strain was more virulent. The researchers advanced several hypothesis, however, including: (1) Europeans were more susceptible to plague because of increased hunger and lowered disease resistance due to a changed climate (cooler and wetter); (2) Europeans were more susceptible to the plague because of lack of prior exposure to the same or similar diseases; or (3) the plague virus may have acted in conjunction with another infectious agent.

The first two hypothesis are unsatisfactory because they do not address the virulence of the plague across all strata of society, as well as its apparently equal or greater virulence in the Middle-East and China. The second hypothesis is also unsatisfactory because Europeans (or some of them) would have had exposure to plague either through trade with Asia, and because Europe had previously been exposed to virulent outbreaks of plague, such as Justinian's plague. The third hypothesis may have merit, but no other candidates have ever been identified. Fortunately, this is not an area where "the science is settled."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Confirmation of the Washington "Insider" ?

I had linked to an interview with a Washington "Insider" recently. (Here). One of the interesting items in the interview is how distracted Obama seems from the job and the weird meetings with advisers. This insight seems to have some additional confirmation, here.  The relevant portion:
The gist is this: President Obama has become a lone wolf, a stranger to his own government. He talks mostly, and sometimes only, to friend and adviser Valerie Jarrett and to David Axelrod, his political strategist.

Everybody else, including members of his Cabinet, have little face time with him except for brief meetings that serve as photo ops. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner both have complained, according to people who have talked to them, that they are shut out of important decisions.

The president’s workdays are said to end early, often at 4 p.m. He usually has dinner in the family residence with his wife and daughters, then retreats to a private office. One person said he takes a stack of briefing books. Others aren’t sure what he does.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Rick Perry Concedes that He Can't Beat Romney on the Merits

I will have to admit that I'm not, and have never been, a big fan of Mitt Romney. However, Rick Perry's campaign has decided to make Romney's membership in the Church a campaign issue. And this:
Scott McLean, a political scientist at Quinnipiac University and presidential election analyst, told that he believes the Perry campaign orchestrated Jeffress’ attack on Romney’s faith “to test the waters.”

“Rick Perry cut his teeth with Karl Rove,” he said, referring to the former senior adviser to President Bush who is now a Fox News analyst. “Rove knows when you go on the attack, make sure a surrogate does it for you. Rick Perry followed that script to the letter.”

McLean said he expects Perry surrogates to launch more under-the-radar attacks on Romney’s faith to make Romney look less attractive.
The only reason I can think why Perry doesn't care about alienating the most Republican state in the Union--Utah--is that he is desperate and doesn't think he can beat Romney on the merits.

Will Obama Instigate Race Riots?

I've come across a couple items recently that suggest that Obama's re-election strategy will involve instigating riots.

First, an interview with a White House "Insider." (Note: There are many questions about whether this "Insider" is real or fictitious. However, if real, we are heading into dangerous times). In it, the "Insider" states that Obama's reelection strategy is based around race.
It’s not gonna come so easy as it did in 2008, but that’s why they plan to ramp it up – the race issue.  Look, you got generations of voters in this country who have been hammered with guilt for being white.  Schools, television, movies…decades of this racism sh*t coming at them from all sides.  White guilt is very real. I’ve used it-done it myself… countless times in an election campaign.  And for Barack Obama…his re-election team – they are banking on it bringing victory in 2012.  Even if it means the threat of race riots.  They are willing to go that far – go down that road if need be.  If the Obama team can’t guilt enough of White America into voting for them in 2012 – they are just fine with trying to scare the sh*t out of them to do it. 
        * * *
The race card, the racial thing – whatever it’s gonna be called, it is the number one asset this administration believes it has to win in 2012.  Their own polling data has shown that to be true over and over again.  But how far are they willing to push that?  Race.  The charges of racism?  I believe all the way if they have to.  And they are gonna get people stirred up.  And if Barack Obama doesn’t win re-election, watch them stand back while the riots break out, and watch them mouth the words “Burn baby burn.”  I don’t think they are willing to go that far, I know it.  If they can’t have America, nobody will.  That’s how big – that’s how important this election coming up is. 
But this is not all. On October 6, 2011, Rush Limbaugh related almost the same thing from a confidential source, specifically:

I wish I could tell you who, but a very prominent person asked me to never mention his name in this regard, but for months he has been telling me, "You watch, Rush, do not doubt me," he said to me, "Obama is setting up riots.  He is fanning the flames for riots and eventual violence.  That's all he's got."
This might sound alarmist, but here is the "chatter" from the Left:

Harrison Schultz, self-proclaimed sociologist and "Occupy Wall Street" organizer, told Al Sharpton that:  "This Is the Beginning of a Revolution in This Country"

Frances Fox Piven: "I teach at the Graduate School of the City University of New York. I am here because I am so enthusiastic about the possibilities of this sit-in, over the marches that are occurring over postal worker issues, the sister demonstrations that are starting in Chicago and Los Angeles, and maybe in Boston. I think we desperately need a popular uprising in the United States. None of us know. I study movements. None of us know the exact formula for when those movements erupt, but it could be. And if that is true, then these people who are here are really wonderful. I would do anything to help them."

Hoffa Threatens GOP At Obama Event: "President Obama, this is your army. We are ready to march. Let's take these son of bitches out and give America back to an America where we belong."

Jackson Jackson warned in a Newsmax interview that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg might have a point when he predicted rioting on the streets. “There is real tension in the streets because people are becoming so desperate,” he said. “We’re really on the edge of an explosion.”

Friday, October 7, 2011

Some Thoughts on a "Battery" of Survival Arms--Part III--Handguns

If you have to use a weapon to defend yourself it will likely be a handgun. There are two reasons for this. First, a handgun is easily carried or kept in a convenient drawer or cupboard. Thus, it is the weapon you are most likely to have at hand when you need it. There is an old maxim that applies here: “the best gun to bring to a gun fight is the one you have.” In other words, the best weapon in the world is worthless if you don't have it with you. With the right handgun, you can always be armed.

The other reason the handgun will be your primary weapon is that most armed encounters occur in the home.1 At the ranges inside a house or apartment the greater accuracy and power of a rifle or shotgun become moot; the human factors outweigh the environmental factors. What is relevant is a weapon that can be used to fend off or control an attacker who may only be a few feet away. The handgun can be used one-handed to cover a “perp” while you call the police. The handgun is quicker to redirect toward a target than the longer rifle or shotgun. Because of the difference in leverage, it is more difficult to disarm someone carrying a handgun than someone using a long arm such as a rifle or shotgun. A handgun doesn't have the issues of a long gun of trying to maneuver a long barrel or stock around in a confined space such as the standard width hallway in a residence. It can be slipped unobtrusively into a pocket when answering a late night knock at the door, or a strange noise in your backyard. In short, in most instances when you need to grab a gun, the handgun is the better weapon.

Revolvers v. Semi-Automatic Pistols

There are several commonly recognized advantages and disadvantages of revolvers and the semi-auto pistol.

Revolvers v. Semi-Automatic Pistols2
Semi-Auto Pistol
-Simple mechanism -Complicated mechanism
-Ammunition in chamber visible -Ammunition concealed
-No applied safety needed -Applied safety may be required
-No misfire problem -Misfire requires hand operation to clear
-Single-action firing produces smooth trigger action leading to improved accuracy -Trigger action rarely as smooth
-Bulky -Can be flat and unobtrusive
-Generally limited to 6 rounds -Higher capacity, with 10-15 rounds typical
-Long time to reload cylinder -Simple to replace magazines
-Generally has lower muzzle velocity -Generally has higher muzzle velocity
-Retains spent casings -Ejects spent casings

In short, “[t]he self-loading pistol produces a greater volume of fire in a given time, is less reliable, is not so safe except in expert hands, and its stoppages take a lot longer to clear. In small calibres it is easily concealed. The training time is lengthy if the user is to be capable of firing and maintaining the pistol under all conditions.”3 “The pistol revolver is safer and more reliable and training time is greatly reduced. It contains fewer rounds, fires at a lower muzzle velocity and is more bulky.”4

I do have some comments regarding reliability. Some people think the meme of "the revolver is more reliable" is passe, because of improvements in both the design and manufacture of semi-automatic pistols and ammunition. It is true that newer designs--the Glock comes to mind--are much more reliable than pistols from even a couple decades ago. It is also true that ammunition is more reliable and better made than ever before. But, you can still have a failure to feed or eject due to worn parts, limp-wristing the weapon, obstructions, dirt or grit, or something otherwise interfering with the operation of the weapon, such as someone grabbing the slide. Even with good quality guns and ammunition, some guns just don't like certain types of ammo. For instance, I've had more problems with Hydroshock than any other type of pistol ammunition--the wide cavity of the hollowpoint just seems to catch the top of the chamber in some guns while cycling.

On the other hand, revolvers are not without their problems. While generally more reliable, some of the worst jams I've had have been shooting magnum revolvers where the bullet was not properly crimped. What happens is the recoil from earlier shots will cause the bullets to back out of their cases, and quick enough, they have jammed into the frame as the cylinder turns. Generally, when this happens, you have to have the assistance of a mallet to get the cylinder to open. I've had similar problems when a cylinder rod has worked itself loose.

There is no answer to which type of handgun is best, because they each have their advantages and disadvantages. However, I hope to address some points in the future that may help you decide which is best for you.


1 See generally Massad Ayoob, The Truth About Self-Protection (1983), pp. 345-50.

2 Adapted from Jane's Infantry Weapons, 1980-81, p. 9.

3 Jane's Infantry Weapons, 1980-81, p. 9.

4 Id.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Hybrid Pistol/Rifle-Type Weapons

Anyone familiar with sub-machine guns knows, of course, that vertical foregrips have been around for a long time, the Thompson sub-machine gun being a well known and early example. Another, more recent example, is the H&K MP-5K.

Although the illustration above shows the MP-5K with a folding stock, the typical model had no stock, but was aimed and held by using the two grips. It's an interesting idea--a pistol type weapon that can be steadied with a foregrip. It is my understanding that U.S. law, unfortunately, prohibits attaching a foregrip to a pistol, without going through the messy and expensive process of obtaining tax stamps from the ATF. So, it was much to my surprise that I came across descriptions of not one, but two such weapons today.

The first is a hybrid pistol/rifle weapon based on the AR platform manufactured by Franklin Armory called the XO-26b.

It has a short-barrel, but retains the buffer tube of the standard AR system. As I understand the article, because it lacks a stock, it isn't subject to the restrictions on short-barreled rifles; but because it is designed to shoot two-handed, and long enough to not be readily concealable, it is not a pistol either. According to the web-site, Franklin Armory has a letter from the ATF approving the configuration.

The second are photos of Kel-Tech's PLR16, a "pistol" shooting 5.56 NATO, set up with a front rail system and Magpul AFG (angled forward grip). The blog's author links (in the comments section) to a letter from the ATF approving the mounting of an AFG on an AR-style pistol.

The question is whether such weapons fulfill any useful role. Never having handled or shot one, this is pure speculation on my part, but I think they would. Here is my hypothesis: More powerful than a handgun, but lacking the stock and longer barrel of a rifle, I can see a hybrid weapon being useful for self-defense inside the home (especially trying to squeeze down a standard interior hall or through doors), or even at short ranges outside. They seem like they would retain much of the handiness of a handgun (there is a reason why hostage-rescue teams, such as Delta-Force, rely on handguns over longer weapons inside buildings), but potentially offer more stability than a handgun. Hopefully, I will someday get the opportunity to test my hypothesis.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

There is No Honor Among Thieves.

Here is an interesting article on the boundary between law and free choice, where honor and tradition, rather than rules and law, govern one's actions.

Lord Moulton sketches out what he calls the “three great domains of Human Action.” They include the domain of positive law, where our actions are prescribed by laws which must be obeyed. The second domain is of free choice, which includes all those actions to which we claim and enjoy complete freedom. But between these two there is a third large and important domain, which Moulton calls “Obedience to the Unenforceable.” This is “the obedience of a man to that which he cannot be forced to obey. He is the enforcer of the law upon himself.” The true test of a nation, its proof of greatness, is “the extent to which the individuals composing the nation can be trusted to obey self-imposed law.”
 True freedom, then, is founded on a nation, and leaders, that have the morality to act as there own enforcers so that positive law can be kept minimal.

How to train hearts and minds to love the good — how to create social cohesion and a polity which can flourish in the absence of Leviathan — is one of the great questions of political philosophy. It touches on matters of religious faith and education, on habits and hard wiring, on inward sentiments and outward laws.

And so as we continue to debate where to draw the line between governing authority and liberty, those of us who are advocates for greater liberty must complete our argument. Liberty in the absence of a sense of duty and self-control, of manners and morals, is not enough. A free society also needs to engage in the task of shaping young souls.
My favorite part: "Moulton connects the dots in his speech by pointing out that 'If I were asked to define tyranny, I would say it was yielding to the lust of governing.'” This is so true, whether it is the "Nazi" housewife that becomes the president of the homeowner's association to enforce her own version of "aesthetics" on her neighbors, or the president of a nation who loves the perquisites of being a leader without accepting the responsibility.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Some Thoughts on a "Battery" of Survival Arms--Part II--.22 versus .30 Caliber

One of the great debates in the prepper community is the efficacy of high velocity .22 caliber bullets versus slower, but heavier .30 caliber bullets.

Ultimately, a rifle, handgun or shotgun is merely a device for delivering one or more projectiles to a target. There are basically four (4) cartridges used for modern battle rifles: (i) 7.62 x 51 mm (7.62 NATO or .308 Winchester), (ii) 5.56 x 45 mm (5.56 NATO or .223 Remington),1 (iii) 7.62 x 39 mm and (iv) 5.45 x 39 mm. As their designation indicates, the former two rounds were developed and adopted by the United States and other Western nations, whereas the latter two round were developed by the Soviet Union and may be found throughout the former East-Bloc countries and the third world.2

The primary concern when selecting a bullet is lethality. The common assumption is that a larger caliber, more powerful round is deadlier. In his book, Testing the War Weapons, author Timothy J. Mullin summed up this sentiment when he decried the smaller cartridges of the modern assault rifle as ineffective, stating: "I do not believe we need to take bear cartridges to war, but we do need to take white-tail cartridges, at least."3 Unfortunately, it is not as simple as that.

A bullet kills by destroying tissue and causing a sudden loss of blood and, thus, blood pressure. High-power rifle rounds can, in addition, destroy tissue through what is termed hydrostatic shock—essentially a pressure wave created by the transfer of energy from the bullet to surrounding tissue or liquids.4 Bullets intended for hunting are designed to expand ("mushroom") to both create a larger wound channel and transfer more energy to the target, ideally without exiting the target.5 Military rifles, however, do not use the soft-nose bullets developed for hunting, but a bullet fully encased in a metal jacket that can pass through a human body with little or no deformation.6 This means that a FMJ bullet can strike a person and exit the other side leaving only a small, and potentially ineffective, wound channel and no hydrostatic shock.

As early as 1928, the U.S. Army found that a smaller caliber rifle bullet was deadlier than the larger, .30 caliber bullet that was in use.7 At that time, the Army tested the effectiveness of three different calibers (the .30-06, a .308 caliber bullet; a .276 caliber bullet; and a .256 caliber bullet) by shooting swine. The results showed that at short range—i.e., 300 yards, the .256 gave “by far” the most severe wounds, with the .276 in second place. As the ranges approached 600 yards, the performance narrowed, with all three rounds performing about equal. After the Korean War, the Army again revisited the issue, and again found that “at the shorter ranges typical of the modern battle-field, a light, small-caliber, high-velocity bullet provided an equal or better rate of lethality than the hallowed .30—but with far less recoil.”8 At that time, the Army study concluded that the ideal round would use a 50-grain .22 caliber bullet with a velocity of 3,500 feet per second (essentially describing the then-as-yet future .223 round originally used in the AR-15/M-16 rifle). In 1961, the Advanced Research Projects Agency sent several AR-15s to Vietnam for testing by Special Forces.9 The results were spectacular, with gaping wounds and the heads or appendages blown off of some victims. At short ranges, the .223 round was far more lethal than the .30 caliber NATO round. (Although there is some debate that these results were exaggerated or falsified, they actually appear to have been the result of using firearms with extremely low twist rates resulting in the bullets being very unstable when they struck their targets).

This comparison between a heavier .30 caliber bullet and the lightweight .223 round has been confirmed by experience. Alexander Rose has noted:
The AK-47 gets grisly PR about having killed more people than any other gun—mostly a result of its widespread use by psychopathic regimes. But interestingly, in terms of deadliness the AK-47 suffers by way of comparison with the M4 [the shorter version of the M-16 using the .223/5.56 NATO round]. Testing and unfortunate experience show that the AK's bullet, after entering human tissue, tends to take a straight path. It pushes in headfirst to a depth as great as ten inches, and for that reason many pass through the body in one piece, leaving behind less severe wounds. When hitting, say, the abdomen, an AK-47 projectile will cause the same “minimal” degree of disruption as a handgun bullet.

By way of contrast, an M4/M16 bullet, shot into the abdomen at less than two hundred yards, will penetrate headfirst for about 4.7 inches, then yaw to 90 degrees before breaking in half. The pointed half remains in one piece, but the base is torn into shards that perforate tissue in many places. This fragmentation and the yawing enhance lethality by creating more traumatic internal wounding.10
Presumably, the 5.45 x 39 mm is comparable in its terminal performance.

After reading the foregoing, you might think that I'm recommending one round over the other. I'm not. Rather, I'm offering up for consideration that there is more to the issue of what round to select than "bigger is better."

One of the other factors is the anticipated engagement range. As noted above, as the distance increased, the difference in lethality converged and, in fact, the heavier bullet will retain its killing power well beyond the capabilities of the smaller rounds. Other factors that come into play at longer ranges is the impact of wind on the bullet--the heavier bullet is less effected by a cross wind than a smaller lighter bullet.

So, what is the expected range of engagement? World War II and the Korean War revealed that most small arms engagements occurred at ranges of 300 yards or less. In Vietnam, the engagement range for the enemy was usually fifty to three hundred meters--well within the range of the M-16. However, in a desert environment, engagement ranges may start at 1,500 meters, which is beyond the effective range of the 7.62 NATO.

In other words, in forested or urban (i.e., built-up) environments where there exists a great deal of concealment and obstacles, combat will occur at relatively short ranges. Moreover, in dense underbrush or when inside buildings, a short, handier weapon will be superior. On the other hand, in desert, scrub-land or similar environments where there is good visibility for long distances, combat will be at longer ranges and correspondingly require weapons and ammunition effective at longer ranges. Because there are fewer physical obstructions to interfere with the deployment and use of the rifle, longer rifles are not an impediment, and may be an advantage as far as long range accuracy and power.

1There are slight differences in the dimensions between military (or metric) 5.56 NATO and civilian .223 which could result in feeding problems or mechanical malfunction. Similarly, civilian .308 ammunition uses a thinner walled case that may not stand up to the rigors of the semi-automatic action of some battle rifles.

2 Obviously, there are many other military cartridges that have been developed, including the U.S. .30-06, the Russian 7.62 x 54 mm, the .303 British, and the Mauser 8 mm, to name a few. However, these cartridges are not used in modern combat rifles (with the sole exception of the Russian Dragunov sniper rifle). Moreover, these calibers, and many of the other WWI and WWII military cartridges, are similar in power and performance to the 7.62 NATO round.

3Timothy J. Mullin, Testing the War Weapons, p. 410 (1997).

4 Hydrostatic shock can literally blow apart a can or jug filled with water and, from a high-power rifle such as the .308, smash a board or plank underneath.

5Hollow-point handgun bullets similarly are designed to mushroom when striking flesh.

6 There are several reasons the military uses full-metal jacketed (FMJ) bullets: (i) international law requires it; (ii) FMJ bullets feed more reliably, particularly in semi-automatic and automatic weapons; (iii) the FMJ bullet is less likely to be damaged by poor handling or mishap; and (iv) it has better penetration against barriers.

7See Alexander Rose, American Rifle (2008), p. 299; Julian S. Hatcher, Hatcher's Notebook (1962), p. 44.

8Rose, p. 337.

9Rose, p. 373-376.

10Rose, pp. 403-404. The author has spoken to an Army medic that served in Iraq who similarly related that the 5.56 mm NATO round was much more lethal than the 7.62 x 39 mm round both immediately, and after being shot. Conve
rsely, he indicated that, in his experience, if a person was not immediately killed by the 7.62 round, he would likely recover.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Some Thoughts on a "Battery" of Survival Arms--Part I

Survival Blog recently posted an article from a reader (Jon W.) discussing what a prepper should have for his or her survival battery. (Follow up comments here). While the author stated his preferences for which weapons to include, his basic theme (at least as I understood it) was to attack "prevailing wisdom" in the prepper community as to the type and variety of weapons to own. I've thought about this subject over the years, and have to agree with the general thrust of Jon W. article.

One of the early gurus of the survivalist movement was Mel Tappan, who, in 1987 published a book called Survival Guns, which became an influential book within the survival community. Prior to Mr. Tappan's book, the typical survivalist guide would generally recommend a small battery of firearms--generally a battle rifle of some sort, a handgun, and a shotgun; with certain other arms such as a precision rifle or a .22 rifle for hunting small game also suggested. (See, for example, Bruce D. Clayton's Life After Doomsday).

Tappan took a different approach. He recommended that survivalists obtain a wide-variety of “working guns” (used for training, hunting, controlling varmints, and putting down injured animals) and “defensive” (i.e., combat or “tactical”) firearms. (See Survival Guns pp. 1-13). He wrote:
At a minimum, you should acquire: one battle rifle per person and one spare for each pair, several hunting rifles―the types and calibers determined by the terrain and game in your area―but at least one should be capable of firing the same ammunition as your battle rifles, a combination varmint-sniping rifle, one defensive shotgun for each two people, one working handgun each, a hunting shotgun―if your defense model won't serve both purposes―a few rimfires, an air rifle, probably a hideout gun or two and whatever special purpose weapons your situation appears to require. Prudence would seem to dictate secreting a few extra items such as combination guns, Charter Arms AR-7's and the like in hidden caches on various parts of your property together with a small supply of ammunition for emergencies. Even at your retreat it is a good idea to keep a portable kit conveniently at hand containing short term emergency supplies, food and a spare gun and ammunition, just in case you ever need to leave in a hurry. I maintain such a kit in my car at all times now. This list comprises my idea of a no-frills battery for a modest fixed retreat. More would be highly desirable; less, simply inadequate.
The problem is the multiplicity of arms and calibers he eventually ended up recommending to his clients. In getting to specific examples, he recommended that one couple (with severe budget restrictions) obtain over 15 weapons between the two of them (of which five were handguns), and another couple (with no budget limitation) obtain some 50 different weapons! (While Mr. Reynolds suggests that Tappan's recommendations were based on what the people already owned, that doesn't really come across in his book--most of his recommendations appear to be for firearms they did not then own).

The fundamental issue is, of course, whether all of this is necessary. About the same time as I read Mr. Tappan's book for the first time, I also read a book called High Country Hunting by Lloyd Bare. Bare noted the amazement and disapproval he generally encountered when other hunters learned that he used a .300 Winchester Magnum BAR for all of his big game hunting, be it deer, sheep, elk or bear. He explained:
In my gun cabinet you'll find one big game rifle (the BAR), one .22, one varmint rifle and one shotgun. In other words, I'm a hunter not a “gun nut” and I say that with kindest regards to gun experts and aficionados. Some of my best friends own a closet full of guns, one for every purpose. 
(High Country Hunting, p. 208).

Bare simply got what he needed, picking hunting weapons of general usefulness rather than for specialized purposes. This same principle--keep it simple stupid--applies for survival situations as well.

With all due respect to Mr. Tappan, I believe his approach is unrealistic for most survivalists. First, and foremost, is the sheer expense of purchasing a large number of different types of firearms and their necessary ammunition, magazines, spare parts, and other accessories. While you will need defensive firearms, I believe you would be better off taking the money you would otherwise put into specialist firearms and use it instead to pay down debt, add to your savings account, purchase stockpiles of food or other equipment, or purchase extra ammunition or accessories for a basic battery of weapons. In short, minimize where possible and put the savings into other preparations.

Second, you will probably have to relocate or temporarily abandon your home or retreat at some point, and maybe more than once. You won't be able to carry a lot of weapons if you are on foot, you probably won't want to carry a large number in a vehicle, and you may not have time to hide a large arsenal. While looters and scavengers may appreciate your leaving a large arsenal of weapons, it probably won't do you any good.

Third, what you carry should be able to serve both as a working gun and a defensive weapon. If you are out hunting and suddenly come under fire, the other side is not going to give you a time-out while you go back to your shelter to exchange your hunting rifle for a combat rifle. Similarly, the need for fresh meat may require you to take game when out on a security patrol or reconnaissance.

Fourth, Mr. Tappan assumes that the person following his recommendations will be living in a remote area as homesteaders--running a working ranch or small farm, with gardens and orchids to boot, and trying to be self-sufficient in most every way. I would question the application of his ideas to even that small group of people, let lone the suburban or rural survivalist.

Now, I don't want to minimize Mr. Tappan's book either. Even if the information on firearms and products are outdated, the book is still an interesting read. Mr. Tappan had actually used many of the firearms reviewed in his book, and provides critical insights. However, our weapons, and experience have evolved. At the time Mr. Tappan wrote his book, the AR system suffered from poor quality control and limited selection; many of the reliability issues had not been sufficiently addressed. The AK and SKS systems were not available. The importation of "parts kits" was in the future. Our ten years of low-intensity fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan was unimaginable. The spreading popularity of the prepper movement, while hoped for, was unbelievable in 1987. In short, there have been significant developments in in firearms, related technology, tactics and philosophy that needs to be incorporated. Old ideas need to be reexamined and, if necessary, updated or replaced.

Docent's Memo (May 16, 2022)

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