Thursday, July 31, 2014

Interview with Cody Lundin

Master Woodsman has posted an interview with Cody Lundin, author of the (IMHO, excellent) When All Hell Breaks Loose, and until recently, part of the Dual Survival television program.

Abandoned "Old-West" Resort in Japan

CREDIT TO: Shane Thoms
LINK TO:!western-village-theme-park/c1093

Abandoned theme parks are always fun to check out (more so than visiting active theme parks).   
Built in 1975 and with a North American western colonial theme, its doors were closed forever in 2007 (due to lack of public interest).  It now sits abandoned, derelict and rotting away on the edge of a small rural town.
I reached the park in the early afternoon after a long drive.  It wasn?t hard to spot ? a massive dreary looking fake Mount Rushmore greeted me on the towns outskirts and I chuckled to myself.    The front entrance was far too open and exposed for my liking and some kind of local election thing at the time had people driving around in mini vans yelling slogans through loud speakers, so I decided to take a 20 minute walk down a quiet road and use the back entrance.  I climbed through a fence and some prickly bushes and found myself surrounded by little fibreglass Tepee?s (which
Daily Mail article here
... complete with mechanical Pandas in a Saloon. Check out the rest of the photos.

Vintage Projects

Vintage Projects is a web-site with PDFs of instructions on constructing various projects for the shop and home from old magazines. Projects include things from crossbows to go-carts to a sand blaster. Check it out.

How to Actually Win a Fist Fight

A no-nonsense guide for the untrained.


Earlier this month there was a small flurry of news regarding a new encryption application called miniLock. Wired Magazine had an article, that described the app as:
... an all-purpose file encryption program called miniLock, a free and open-source browser plugin designed to let even Luddites encrypt and decrypt files with practically uncrackable cryptographic protection in seconds. 
“The tagline is that this is file encryption that does more with less,” says Kobeissi, a 23-year old coder, activist and security consultant. “It’s super simple, approachable, and it’s almost impossible to be confused using it.” 
Kobeissi’s creation, which he says is in an experimental phase and shouldn’t yet be used for high security files, may in fact be the easiest encryption software of its kind. In an early version of the Google Chrome plugin tested by WIRED, we were able to drag and drop a file into the program in seconds, scrambling the data such that no one but the intended recipient—in theory not even law enforcement or intelligence agencies—could unscramble and read it. MiniLock can be used to encrypt anything from video email attachments to photos stored on a USB drive, or to encrypt files for secure storage on Dropbox or Google Drive.
The program will allow public-key encryption, but without the complexity for the user.
... There’s no need to even register or log in—every time miniLock launches, the user enters only a passphrase, though miniLock requires a strong one with as many as 30 characters or a lot of symbols and numbers. From that passphrase, the program derives a public key, which it calls a miniLock ID, and a private key, which the user never sees and is erased when the program closes. Both are the same every time the user enters the  passphrase. That trick of generating the same keys again in every session means anyone can use the program on any computer without worrying about safely storing or moving a sensitive private key. 
“No logins, and no private keys to manage. Both are eliminated. That’s what’s special,” says Kobeissi. “Users can have their identity for sending and receiving files on any computer that has miniLock installed, without needing to have an account like a web service does, and without needing to manage key files like PGP.”
For more information, here is the miniLock page. The app is still in the beta stage, but the developers hope to have a public release by August 4. Be warned, though, that the NSA appears to actively target people interested in secure computing.

Another Article on Yaw and Bullet Wounds

The article is "Military Rifle Bullet Wounds" by Martin Fackler and published in the Sri Lanka Guardian.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

DIY Porta-Potty (Update)

(Link). I guess they didn't like my linking to the photo. But basically, it is a 5-gallon plastic bucket (like you can get at Home Depot--obviously it doesn't need to be food grade!). You take one of the foam pool noodles and split it length wise so it will fit over the rim, which (a) provides a seat and (b) holds the bag liner in place. Finally, they had fitted a roll of toilet paper over the carry handle so it acted as a dispenser.

32 Police Arrested in Mexico

Also from the Telegraph:
More than 30 police officers have been arrested in Mexico for alleged organised crime ties and possible involvement in the killing of fellow cops, authorities said on Sunday.
Those detained include a former top public safety chief from the town of Tarimbaro, an ex-commander of the same unit and 18 more active duty agents, a public safety source in the troubled state of Michoacan said. 
Authorities are investigating whether those taken into custody were involved in the recent murders of three senior officials in Tarimbaro's public safety unit, the source added.
A second operation netted 12 municipal police officers in Charapan, authorities said.
 I wonder how long it will be before we start seeing similar stories in the U.S.?

Chinese Police Kill Dozens of Terrorists

From the Telegraph:
Chinese police shot dead dozens of knife-wielding attackers on Monday morning after they staged assaults on two towns in the western region of Xinjiang, the official Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday. 
A gang armed with knives had first attacked a police station and government offices in the town of Elixku, in Shache county, it said, quoting local police. Some moved on to the nearby town of Huangdi, attacking civilians and smashing and setting fire to six vehicles.
"Police officers at the scene shot dead dozens of members of the mob," the brief report said.
An initial investigation showed that it was an "organised and premeditated terrorist attack", Xinhua added. 
The dead and injured include not just Uighurs but members of China's majority Han Chinese population, the report said.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Flood of Immigrants We Are Seeing Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg

Documentary filmmaker Dennis Michael Lynch warns "[i]t's about to get worse. . . Entire villages are emptying out and coming from Central America through Mexico to the United States. They'll be hitting in the next couple weeks. What you are seeing right now is the tip of the iceberg."

The Fleet Yaw Problem

The Firearms Blog has an article discussing the problem of yaw and FMJ bullet effectiveness, referencing two studies on the topic: Small Caliber Lethality: 5.56mm Performance in Close Quarters Battle, by Majors Glenn Dean and David LaFontaine, and Small-Caliber Projectile Target Impact Angle Determined from Close Proximity Radiographs. As TFB notes:
Essentially, recent infantry deployments resulted in reports of inadequate effectiveness from 5.56mm weapons – but, strangely, the reports were not uniform. Some units described their weapons as being highly effective, but others report having to make multiple hits on targets to have the desired effect. This was largely unexpected - the M855 5.56mm round produces very high muzzle energy for its caliber, and the projectile is designed to yaw violently – if not fragment – depositing its energy rapidly and effecting a stop. At short distances, it should have been very effective. 
... What resulted from their investigation was a landmark discovery in terminal effectiveness science: Bullets – all bullets, not just .22 caliber ones – experience a period of very violent yaw and turbulence when they exit the muzzle, causing their angle of attack relative to their flight path – that is how “straight” the bullet is in flight – to vary wildly. Within 50m, they found, two bullets fired from the same gun, at essentially the same time, might impact a target at two completely different angles. A bullet impacting head on into gelatin would stay stable for much longer than one impacting at a high angle, and would deposit its energy much later. This explained the problems some users – but not others – were having with their weapons. In some instances, the FMJ projectiles would hit the target at a desirable high angle of attack, tumble and fragment within a short distance, and reliably stop the target, while in others, the same type of projectile would hit at a flat angle, and might not yaw for many inches. 
Read the whole thing.

The Danger of Ebola Spreading to Other Countries

I've noted before that this outbreak of Ebola is unusual because it isn't burning out as quickly, and the mortality rate (60%) is less than those in the past (90%). (See also here). This has raised concerns about the outbreak spreading beyond Africa. For instance, the Telegraph reports that one of the latest victims (Patrick Sawyer), who died in Nigeria, was an American en route to the United States. If he had staved off the illness for another day or two, he would have made it back to Minnesota. The Daily Mail has an article on symptoms and other information on Ebola.

You might also want to check out this 2012 Popular Science article on possible sources of lethal pandemics.

Sometimes Surrender Is Not An Option

To finish off Ramadan celebrations, the Islamic State has released video showing their inherent cowardly and murderous nature:
In what should be a time of happiness when Muslims mark the end of Ramadan, Islamist militants in Iraq celebrated Eid by releasing a video showing scenes of them carrying out genocide. 
The slickly produced footage shows prisoners being rounded up and summarily executed, suicide bombers boasting before blowing up buildings and Iraqis being gunned down in drive-by shootings. 
In one of the most shocking passages, terrified prisoners are piled into the back of trucks, where they hold each other and huddle in fear before driven off to their deaths. 
The 36-minute film then cuts to dozens of prisoners lying face down on the ground, hands bound behind their backs, waiting to be executed.
... The executions are believed to have taken place in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit. 
The prisoners, believed to be Shi'ite Muslims, are then systematically executed by a small band of jihadists, thought to be Sunnis. 
It is understood the prisoners are referred to in the video description as rafidas, a derogatory term used by some Sunnis to describe Shi'ites who they believe have rejected Islamic authority.
As a side note, the Washington Post reports that Obama rejected pleas from Iraq to attack and destroy ISIS last year when we had the chance.

FBI Moves Toward Adopting the 9 mm

I had noted in December 2013 that, like many other law enforcement agencies, the FBI was planning on switching back to the 9 mm from the .40 S&W. Now, The Firearms Blog reports that the FBI has released a pre-solicitation notice requesting compact, full-sized and training versions of 9 mm pistols. The notice indicates that solicitations will likely go out the first quarter of 2015.

As with the .40 S&W, where the FBI leads, most other law enforcement agencies will follow....

Monday, July 28, 2014

Advice to Israel ...

... from Daniel Greenwood:
Israel cannot survive by accommodating a lynch mob. Only by having the courage to defy it. When the international community at the behest of the Muslim lynch mob dictates the parameters of Israel's survival, it must expand those parameters by pushing through them to the other side. If [the international community] want to recognize terrorists, then kill those terrorists. If they want to unilaterally create a Palestinian state, then annex those territories. Accommodation is a noose. Defiance is the air of freedom. Every time Israel retreats, it is condemned for it. When it advances, it is condemned for it also, but its freedom of action expands. 
The world will always condemn Israel regardless of its intentions. But like any form of name-calling, those condemnations only gain power when Israel allows its actions to be dictated by them. Israel is not condemned because of what Israel does. It is condemned because of Islamic bigotry, left wing radicalism and international dhimmism converging in one place. 
This is a pattern that cannot be undone. It can only be ignored.

Hamas Planned Massive Terrorist Attack Against Israel

Hamas had built tunnels to various Israeli settlements with the plan to infiltrate hundreds of terrorists into the settlements and kill all the men, women and children. (H/t Front Page Magazine).

CV Dazzle--Using Makeup and Hair Styling to Stymie Facial Recognition Software


The CV Dazzle website is here, with patterns and a bit of an explanation of how facial recognition algorithms work. And here is an article from The Atlantic where the author describes his experience trying out the makeup and hair styling.

Continued Collapse of the British Empire

The Washington Examiner has an article about the diplomatic conundrum poised by Scotland's bid for independence. A referendum is scheduled for September 18. Interestingly, one of the factors behind the push for independence is a reduced financial burden by Scots. From the article:
Independence advocates say Scotland knows best how to govern itself. And Scots have complained for decades that London imposes unfair austerity measures. The "Yes Scotland" campaign says each Scottish taxpayer would gain about $1,700 annually, partly through increased oil revenues, though London disputes this and argues that overall Scotland benefits financially from being part of the U.K. 
The article also suggests that if Scotland were to gain independence, Britain would likely scrap its nuclear weapons rather than relocate them from Scotland. That is, another major cut back in Britain's defense capabilities.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The End of Christianity in Iraq

Canon Andrew White, dubbed "the bishop of Baghdad" for his work at St George's church in the capital, spoke after the ultimatum handed to Christians in the northern city of Mosul by the Islamic State of Iraq Levant (Isis) to convert, pay a tax or be put to death passed last week. 
For those Christians who did not comply with the decree by 19 July, Isis warned that "there is nothing to give them but the sword.” Many have since fled their homes and Rev. Andrew-White told BBC Radio 4 Today desperate Christians were trapped in the desert or on the streets with nowhere to go. 
"Things are so desperate, our people are disappearing," he said. "We have had people massacred, their heads chopped off. 
"Are we seeing the end of Christianity? We are committed come what may, we will keep going to the end, but it looks as though the end could be very near."
Read the whole thing.

"5 Reasons Why Bugging IN Is Smart"

An article from the Survival Mom.Basically, it comes down to knowing your neighbors and surroundings, and being where your resources are. She writes:
I have seen many articles and posts about bugging out should some major disaster happen. These writers go on and on about having Bug Out Bags (BOBs) and heading to their Bug Out Location (BOL) to hide away until it is safe. I can imagine several reasons why having a bug out plan is a good idea but honestly, it should be a last resort. 
If your immediate home is not threatened, staying put and “bugging in” should be the first option for several reasons. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide whether or not to hunker down or Bug Out, but consider the following reasons for staying in, at least at first.
The reasons she mentions are (1) higher security (based on being in a familiar, prepared environment), (2) knowledge of the neighborhood, (3) knowledge of surrounding terrain, (4) more supplies and resources, and (5) people who love you will look there first.

In a similar vein, I saw this guest article at the Survivalist Blog suggesting that if you haven't bugged out (i.e., relocated to a rural retreat) already, but are relying on bugging out when an emergency is upon you, you are probably going to suffer a horrible fate. The author writes:
The purpose of this particular dissertation is to scare the crap out of you, and thus move you off the pot. Time is short, and the storm clouds are gathering over the Middle East. Our southern border is a free-for-all, drug cartels and gangs have a viable presence in virtually every major American city, and the poser-in-chief thinks he was elected king and is doing everything he can think of to dismantle this country. 
And you think you’re ready to bug out? 
Having even the best bug out bag, while putting you a few steps ahead of the herd, is still only a few steps. There are at least a million more. Have you thought about them?
If you’re still living in town, with some vague notion that you’re going to “bug out“, then the answer is “No, I haven’t really thought this through”. I will be very blunt here; the following tells you how you’re probably going to die. Oh, and if you bought a big screen TV or any type of sports tickets (money you should have spent on ammo or food) in the last six months, please stop reading and put your head back in the sand, as this article won’t make any sense to you.
The author takes a worse case scenario to illustrate the worst that could happen to you if your survival plan is trying to get out of Dodge when TEOTWAWKI hits. These include (1) neighbors or other survivors attacking you when you least suspect it to get your supplies, (2) blocked roads due to traffic jams, or road blocks set up by gangs or government authorities, and (3) if you successfully escape the city, being shot when you approach someone that has already moved out of the city and prepared.

Long time readers know that I'm not a big fan of the bugging out scenario. Obviously, there are times you will have to leave your home/retreat--fires, floods, tornadoes, chemical spills, and so on, may require immediate evacuation. But in most cases, I agree with the Survivor Mom that there are too many advantages to sheltering in place to abandon it and risk some of the dangers that the Survivalist Blog article mentions--blocked roads, gangs and looters, etc.--trying to get to some other location, or, worse, some undetermined place of refuge.

The Survivalist Blog article suggests that cities will become uninhabitable. However, as discussed many times in these pages, there is little historical precedent for this in many cases; whereas there is plenty of evidence of what easy prey you become in remote farmsteads. In addition, there is a considerable amount of poverty in rural America (see also here) with the concomitant crime and dependency on welfare. I'm not saying that living in a large city is the best plan either. Obviously, living in or around "the Projects" in a large city would be a mistake. But suburbs and medium sized cities may be preferable to either rural or large urban centers.

However, there is something else that the Survivalist Blog article raises that needs to be addressed. The author writes that, even if you somehow make it out of town:
You creep around the checkpoint and head into the wilderness/country/mountains/open range where folks have been “prepping” (dammit, there’s that word again) for years. You stagger into a driveway in the dark. You have nothing to offer. You need food and water, your feet are bleeding, you’re covered in snot and brains. You have no weapon, no supplies, and whatever else you might be, you are not prepared, or welcome, or invited. 
And I, or someone else who has spent years “prepping”, shoots you in the face.
This same attitude often shows up on survival fiction. (See, e.g., my review of "A Distant Eden"). I understand that some people may feel that they cannot or will not be able to offer charity in a disaster scenario. There may be situations where you have to use lethal force to protect you and your family. But is there really ever going to be a need to shoot an unarmed person begging for food? If preppers revert to that behavior they have become the very thing that they hate. To quote the Lord:
35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. 
 36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
 Mark 8:35-36. LDS readers may want to review Chapter 9 of Moroni concerning what happened when the Nephites became as depraved and bloodthirsty as their enemies.

"Stitches, Bandages or Superglue?"

An article at the More Than Just Surviving blog on when to use stitches, bandages or superglue to close a wound, and do's and don't's for each.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Pre-Columbian Farming in the Amazon Basin

From No-Tech Magazine:
“In contrast to the Western obsession to drain what are considered marginal wetlands for agriculture, farmers in the Bolivian Amazon may have intentionally expanded wetlands and wetland productivity through earthwork construction, which impedes, rather than enhances, drainage. The precolumbian farmers did not use causeways as dikes to prevent inundation of fields and settlements, but rather to expand and enhance inundation for agricultural production. At the same time, impounding water with well-placed causeways and the creation of canals improved and extended the season of transportation by canoe across the landscape. The grid-like structure also permanently marked land tenure in a highly visible manner.”
Related links: Amazon Rainforest Less Than 2000 Years Old

A Few From Bookwoods Home Magazine

Just a few recent articles and posts from Backwoods Home Magazine.

First, since I'd just recently posted about the worsening drought in the American Southwest, Joe Mooney has an article on "Gardening in the Desert Using Only Rainwater."

Massad Ayoob, one of my favorite sources for armed self-defense info, discusses a booklet on shooting better with a .38 snubby, and reviews the Griplight, designed to be used with S&W J-frame revolvers.

California Police Have Arrest Warrant for Illegal With Contagious TB

On Thursday prosecutors in Northern California said they have obtained an arrest warrant for a 25-year-old homeless man who was diagnosed with tuberculosis and refused treatment. The police are currently searching for him because he might be contagious and pose a threat to the health of others. 
According to reports, Eduardo Rosas Cruz visited the emergency room at San Jaoquin General Hospital in French Camp, California, back in March and complained of a severe cough, shortness of breath, and a high fever. After he was checked out by doctors, the medical staff diagnosed him with tuberculosis and asked him to stay in a Stockton motel room where a health worker would deliver him the proper medication and watch him take it. But Rosas Cruz took off and hasn't been seen since.
According to Breitbart, this 21st Century "Typhoid Mary" is an illegal alien. This won't be the last of incidents like this.

Ebola Outbreak Continues to Spread (Updated and bumped)

The outbreak of Ebola in west Africa continues to spread. According to this report from Reuters:
Patrick Sawyer, a consultant for the Liberian finance ministry in his 40s, collapsed on Sunday after flying into Lagos, a city of 21 million people, and was taken from the airport and put in isolation in a local hospital. Nigeria confirmed earlier on Friday that he had died in quarantine.
 The outbreak has so far killed 660 people.

Update 7/26/2014: ABC News reports that an American doctor has tested positive for Ebola:
North Carolina-based Samaritan's Purse issued a news release saying that Dr. Kent Brantly tested positive for the disease and was being treated at a hospital in Monrovia, Liberia. Brantly is the medical director for the aid organization's case management center in the city. 
Brantly, 33, has been working with Samaritan's Purse in Liberia since October 2013 as part of the charity's post-residency program for doctors, said the group's spokeswoman Melissa Strickland. The organization's website says he had worked as a family practice physician in Fort Worth, Texas.
A reader notes in the comments that another doctor has also been infected.

Remington to Replace All R51 Handguns (Updated)

Remington says that the problem was in moving from prototype to production, and that it is correcting the problems. Improved production models will be available this fall. Details at The Firearms Blog.

Update (8/9/2014): More detailed information from Gear Scout.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Iran Admits to Providing Weapons Technology to Hamas

From the bottom of an article at VOA News:
Israel and the United States have long accused Iran of supplying arms to Hamas, considered by Washington and the European Union as a terrorist group. Tehran says it gives moral, financial and humanitarian support. 
However, Iran's parliament speaker Ali Larijani on Thursday said Tehran had provided Hamas with “the technology to manufacture arms.” 
“There was a time that Hamas needed the know-how ... We gave it to them and today the fighters in Gaza are capable of meeting their needs,”  Larijani told Iran's Arabic language al-Alam TV.

Drought in South West Worse Than Believed

The Financial Times reports that the drought in the American South West is worse than previously believed.
A huge volume of fresh water has disappeared from the drought-struck south west of the US in the past decade in what researchers say is a startling sign of the fragility of one of the country’s most important water supplies. 
Almost 65 cubic kilometres of water has been lost since late 2004 from the Colorado River Basin, an area roughly the size of France that is a vital but heavily used source of water for more than 30m people and 4m acres of farmland.
The amount of water lost is twice the volume of Lake Mead. Most of the loss (75%) is from the depletion of underground aquifers. 
The researchers found the rate of decline of groundwater, much of which is non-renewable and poorly managed, was roughly six times greater than the losses in Lake Mead and Lake Powell, another large reservoir further upstream on the Colorado River. 
“Groundwater is already being used to supplement the gap between surface water supply and basin water demands,” said study co-author, Jay Famiglietti, adding the study revealed a surprisingly high and prolonged reliance on groundwater to bridge the gap between demand and supply.
The root of the water problem is that the allocation of the volume of water from the Colorado River was determined in the 1930's during an unusually wet period, so the river has been over-allocated. California has historically taken more than its allocation to provide water to Los Angeles and Southern California. This was not a problem in the past when Nevada, Arizona and Colorado were not using their full allocations, but that has changed as Phoenix and  Las Vegas have boomed. The fact is that these are large cities in a dry region--the populations have exceeded the carrying capacity of the land.

For the prepper, the primary problems are two-fold. First, in the event of a disruption of the electrical system, the populations could lose water from the municipal water works, but may not have natural sources of water available. Thus, storing large quantities of water is more critical than in other parts of the nation. And the prepper may need to look at alternative sources of collecting water, such as some of the moisture farming methods I've cited in past posts. Second, the lack of water may make it difficult to engage in other preps, such as gardening, without taking special measures to conserve water. This may mean installing drip lines to water plants instead of sprinkling, covering the soil to prevent evaporation, etc.

Book Review: "Surviving a Global Disaster" by Daniel Wilson


BookSurviving a Global Disaster by Daniel Wilson.

Overview: A survival guide for the unprepared--or, more accurately, those who didn't bother to put aside preparations. The first half of the book is about how and what to loot when disaster strikes. It then moves into fleeing the city and finding an abandoned vacation home or cabin to live in (yes, stealing your survival retreat as well). It then goes into raising food and hunting or trapping game and some other essential survival skills. And finally, it briefly covers passing your knowledge on to children and attitudes toward self defense.

For basic survival gear, he advises that you first loot a sporting goods store, focusing on a firearm or two (and ammunition), a knife or two, and all the fishing lines and hooks as you can get your hands on; a wind-up or crank charged radio; backpacks; and fire starting rods (the author calls them flint sticks, but later in the book it is clear he is referring to magnesium firestarters and fero sticks); and water purification equipment. Then he recommends hitting a small pharmacy and grabbing all the antibiotics you can get your hands on, painkillers (OTC or prescription), vitamins, and baby formula. Then a hardware/home improvement store for seeds (lots of seeds), and basic hand tools. He also suggests hitting an auto parts store for batteries if you have the time.

After you have bugged out to your destination, the author discusses basic survival skills. He recommends that firearms be limited to self-defense, and that you rely on primitive weapons, snares, etc., for hunting. He also recommends getting lots of firewood and planting some of your seeds if it is the growing season. He describes the basics of processing large and small game, lighting a fire, and few other survival skills.

His recommendations toward self defense are to set up trip alarms or booby traps, tell anyone that comes to your cabin to beat it, and be ready to shoot first.

Impressions: This is a very different type of survival book because it espouses survival by looting instead of making your own preparations. Obviously, because it focuses on looting supplies and becoming a squatter in someone else's property, this book is intended for an actual global disaster resulting in the collapse of civilization, not a local or regional disaster. Also, although the author suggests at the beginning of the book that this is for someone that has not prepared, he actually assumes that you have scouted out an area for your bug-out destination, if not a particular cabin or home to appropriate. He discusses options as to vehicles and other equipment that would require planning and forethought. So the book is not really for the unprepared, but those who plan is to loot and steal what they need.

Turning to the content, there are a few fatal flaws.

First, although I've never looted, I don't know if it will be as easy as the author suggests. I suspect that in a true apocalyptic disaster, having to drive to various stores to loot is merely going to expose you to extreme danger from other looters. The author doesn't seem to believe--or at least doesn't address--that other looters may be perfectly willing to kill you for the water filter, or seeds, or medicine you have stolen. He suggests that you will be able to make several trips into a business, while storing your loot in your car between trips.

The author's fire starting recommendations are poorly thought out--taking a fire starter over matches or lighters? Again, the author is either ignorant or misleading about how difficult it can be to start a fire with some of the fire starting tools without practice. He also gives the impression that firestarters will last indefinitely.

The author may be experienced at hunting, but he is unrealistic about how easy it is to harvest game with primitive weapons and snares.

However, the fundamental problem with the author's plan, and one that the author skips over, is having sufficient food until you become expert enough to trap or use primitive weapons to harvest game, and your garden produces crops. This, of course, is where food storage comes in. Having several months or a year's worth of stored food is what would hopefully get you through this period. If you were to follow the author's suggestion, you would starve, unless--and this is perhaps the unspoken assumption in the book--you loot and steal food until you can grow your crops and harvest game.

I picked this up on the Kindle during a time it was being offered for free. It's regular price is $2.99. It was worth the time to read because it was interesting and flowed well. But I don't believe that it useful enough to pay the full price. This book represents one person's survival plan, but has fatal gaps and glosses over a lot of information needed to survive a disaster.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Standing Rear Choke Escape

Here is a good video of the choke hold escape I mentioned recently.

Survival Tip: Don't Shelter Where Terrorists Are Hiding Weapons

The Washington Post reports that at least 16 Palestinians were killed in an explosion at a U.N. operated elementary school in Gaza. It is not clear if the building was struck by Israeli shells or Hamas rockets--or that there was some other cause of the explosion.

Witnesses, still shaking from the experience, said the shelter was filled with families who had fled their homes to escape more than two weeks of heavy shelling in the northern Gaza Strip.
As fighting raged around them Thursday morning, a series of explosions first struck the courtyard and then the school, which is run by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, known as UNRWA.
The article also states:
If the Israelis turn out to have fired the deadly salvo on the school in Gaza, international condemnation is likely to be heaped on the Jewish state, already under pressure from the Obama administration to end its 17-day offensive against Hamas, the militant Islamist movement that controls Gaza. 
If it turns out Hamas is responsible for killing its own people with errant rocket or mortar fire, as Israel initially suggested Thursday, then the group — already branded a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and the European Union — could find itself even more isolated.
You might be wondering where I got the idea that Hamas may have been hiding munitions at the school. Well, in just the past week, Hamas rockets have been found in two other UNRWA operated schools. (See here and here). "Once is happenstance. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is an enemy action." The UNRWA and Hamas have conspired to (i) hide weapons from Israel and/or (ii) trick Israel into targeting a school and killing civilians.

Review of Ergo Delta Grip -- Part 2

This is a follow-up to the recent post giving my initial impressions of the Ergo Delta Grip. The photo on top is my J-frame with the Ergo Grip installed; below is the original factory grip.

As I noted in my original post, the Ergo Grip is obviously larger and gives a more solid grip on the firearm. It forces you to take a high grip on the pistol which may be different for most people. I've always favored a high grip on the revolver, so it was not much of a change.

The real proof is in the shooting. The Ergo Grip is supposed to provide better accuracy and reduce muzzle flip. I conducted my tests at about 5 yards shooting, obviously, 5-shot groups, all double-action and free hand. My best group with the Ergo Grip was smaller than with the regular grip--if I didn't count a flyer. In fact, I tended to have one shot that opened up the groups when using the Ergo Grip. Also, I was shooting slightly high and to the right with the Ergo Grip. This is probably something that could be corrected with practice. Overall, though, I wasn't left with the impression that the Ergo Grip helped me with shooting accuracy. It wasn't really worse, but it wasn't really any better, either.

Muzzle flip, though, was something again. Although this is obviously a subjective conclusion, I felt that Ergo Grip helped considerably with muzzle flip. This obviously meant that I could shoot a bit faster and didn't have the cylinder release gouging me in the thumb. Also, as I noted in my earlier post, I felt that I had better leverage for pulling the trigger. However, other reviewers were correct that the recoil seems to go more directly into the muscle below your thumb.

In short, I didn't find an advantage as far as accuracy. However, muzzle flip, and thus speed of follow up shots, improved. As I stated in my earlier post, it is not quite as concealed-carry friendly as the smaller factory grip because it seems to catch my shirt. However, it seems fine when using a pocket holster. I think that this grip would be useful for someone with larger hands, but may not be as useful for someone with smaller hands.

For now, I plan on continuing to use the Ergo Grip. To me, the mechanical advantage I get on the trigger pull is worth it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Dirt Time: A Bic Lighter is Better Than a Ferro Rod

Dirt Time does the math and research and determines that the common Bic lighter is better than a Ferro rod for lighting fires. The Wood Trekker blog also looks at this issue.

My son practices lighting fires from a Fero rod, and I have one in my hunting gear as a backup, but I have always relied on matches and cheap lighters. I recently purchased a Zippo to try it out, and so far like it. It is superior to the disposable lighter in that it is harder to blow out in the wind, and it burns until you snuff it out without having to keep a button depressed. On the other hand, the fluid leaks out if it is tipped over, which makes me wonder if it is broken.

China Has Lost Over Half Its Rivers

The Verge (h/t Instapundit) reports that China has, in the past, claimed over 50,000 rivers within its borders, but a recently completed survey showed only 22,909 rivers as of 2011--leaving 28,000 rivers that have disappeared. Although some of the discrepancy may be due to poor surveying in the past, the article makes clear that China is suffering severe shortages of water, mostly due to overpopulation and pollution. Reservoir projects to control flooding have also contributed to rivers drying up in some areas.

China's competitive edge is not only lower wages (which, itself, is largely the illusory result of monetary controls), but because it can externalize many costs by simply dumping waste or emitting pollutants--practices not allowed in the U.S. or Europe. However, externalizing costs doesn't mean they go away, as the pollution and other ecological problems show.

Marmot Bubonic Plague in Chinese City (Updated)

The Chinese treat this more seriously than the United States because they know marmot strains can be deadlier than the rat/prairie dog strain found here. From the Guardian:
A Chinese city has been sealed off and 151 people have been placed in quarantine since last week after a man died of bubonic plague, state media said. 
The 30,000 residents of Yumen, in the north-western province of Gansu, are not being allowed to leave, and police at roadblocks on the perimeter of the city are telling motorists to find alternative routes, China Central Television (CCTV) said. 
A 38-year-old man died last Wednesday, the report said, after he had been in contact with a dead marmot, a small furry animal related to the squirrel. No further plague cases have been reported. 
CCTV said officials were not allowing anyone to leave. The China Daily newspaper said four quarantine sectors had been set up in the city. 
"The city has enough rice, flour and oil to supply all its residents for up to one month," CCTV added. "Local residents and those in quarantine are all in stable condition." No further cases have been reported.
Update 7/24/2014 : From Yahoo News, a report indicating that U.S. experts are puzzled over the Chinese response to the incident.
Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, said that sealing off a city is a rather extreme set of precautions to take for a single case of bubonic plague. "I feel there's something here that we don't know, because this seems a very expansive response to just one case," Schaffner said. 
"We have cases of bubonic plague from time to time in the United States, and they don't require this kind of public health response," Schaffner said. In recent decades, there have been an average of seven cases of bubonic plague a year in the United States, the CDC says. 
When bubonic plague cases occur in the U.S., the public health response is very local — the patient is treated, and officials try to determine the source of the infection and warn people to stay away from the source, Schaffner said.
 If it had been rat borne plague, the Chinese probably would have reacted differently. But this incident specifically involved plague from a marmot. (See also here).

Update 7/26/2014: The quarantine has been lifted.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Central American Connection

A few articles that have caught my eye concerning the drug cartels. First, and foremost, is this article from InSight Crime about the smuggling of children into the U.S. The key part:
"That's easy, in any city a child arrives and they [the other migrants] start telling each other: so and so arrived like this and without money. Things have gotten out of control; many polleros have taken advantage of this and are still charging $7,000. It's a great business, because to bring them [the kids] to the Mexican border with the United States, to Reynosa, for example, they are spending -- with everything included, even the tax paid to the Zetas, because the Zetas charge a fee whether the person is young or old -- around $2,000. Let's say that there at the border they pay around $500 to whoever brings them over. There's $2,500. They bring the kid to the other side. They leave him there, in the urban part of the city, and they prepare him well -- they tell him to say that he came alone, that he is looking for his mom or his dad. They [the kids] have to forget that they were accompanied by a coyote, they follow directions. There is always someone watching to make sure the kid speaks with the police -- even then he is not alone, there is always somebody watching to make sure they pick him up. Then he is in safe hands. As soon as the police have him, the coyote informs the family: 'He's in the hands of the law now; give it a little time.' Immediately, the authorities communicate with the mother; the child always carries with him names and telephones." 
"So the price hasn't dropped?" 
"Yes, there are people that are charging less, because now that it is a generalized practice, the families know that it is easier -- they are no longer willing to pay $7,000. My understanding is that some charge between $4,000 and $5,000. Once they're in Mexico, they've won the battle, and once they are in the United States, with the authorities picking up the kids, everything's in the bag. I have some friends who say that the minors are easy money. And that's true. The best thing that can happen is that a police officer from any department detains them.
And a trio of articles from Borderland Beat about (a) three former Mexican governors accused of assisting the drug cartels, (b) U.S. authorities cutting deals with the Sinaloa cartel to get information on the Ju├írez cartel, including providing visas to Sinaloa members, and (c) finally, another shrine to the Santa Muerte found at the scene of grisly cartel murders.

Obviously, this is just speculation on my part, but I think a person would have to be foolish to not believe that there are some high level officials being paid off in the United States, perhaps even sufficiently high to influence U.S. policy decisions.

Officer Take Down Using A Choke Hold

Ars Technica has a video of police using a choke hold on a suspect, Eric Garner, that resulted in Garner's death. A couple points. First, if the officer was attempting a choke hold, he was doing it wrong. Instead of putting Garner's neck into the crook of his arm and applying pressure (which cuts off the carotid arteries but doesn't damage the throat), the officer used his forearm as a bar across the throat, which not only doesn't work as effectively (witness the video) but can also cause more serious harm. (The primary reason why officers aren't allowed to use a nightstick to choke someone out).

Second, ignoring the fact that he was resisting an officer but merely looking at this as an attack, Garner did a couple things wrong, beginning with the fact that he stepped away from the wall, but then stood there, thus allowing the attacker to get behind him and initiate the hold. One of the common methods for breaking a choke hold is to grab the attacker's primary arm being used to perform the choke, step back with one leg (in this case, it would have been Garner's left leg) and put it behind the attacker's (in this case, left) leg, turn, and bend/bow to throw the attacker to the ground. Obviously Garner didn't attempt to do this, but the officer was either anticipating some sort of counter or simply trying to throw Garner to the ground, and so he moved his right leg back and to the left, pivoting to throw Garner off-balance. Garner waited too long to attempt a counter. It looks like Garner may have had an opportunity to use the plate glass window (basically throw himself backward or sideways through the window with the attacker leading the way), but didn't.

This video is also a good example of why you don't want to move to ground fighting when facing multiple attackers.

From a political point of view, this video is also a good reason why legislators shouldn't have such a blase attitude about creating new crimes. Eventually, if something is made a crime, no matter how trivial, big men with guns are going to have to enforce it, which means there is the possibility of a death or injury. And, seriously, is it worth the risk of someone being killed, as happened here, to prohibit the selling of single cigarettes? This video doesn't document a problem with police, but a problem with inane laws and ordinances.

Anyway, if anyone has comments, ideas, or criticisms of what happened in the video or my thoughts expressed above, I welcome them.

Nuclear Winter?

This may be showing my age, but I remember the storm of media coverage of "nuclear winter" in the 1980's--a theory that a nuclear war would freeze the planet. Although not an author of the research paper, Carl Sagan prominently supported the conclusion. However, the theory was discredited because the researchers had made too many assumptions and short cuts to get their model to work, including getting rid of pesky things like day/night cycles, seasons, geographic features, and so on.

Today I saw in the Daily Mail another group of scientists pushing "nuclear winter." From the article:
The unnerving consequences were laid out in a paper called ‘Multidecadal global cooling and unprecedented ozone loss following a regional nuclear conflict.’

In it the researchers looked at the outcome of a ‘limited, regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan in which each side detonates 50 15-kiloton weapons.’
They then used computer models to examine the impact on the planet and its environment - and it makes for grim reading. 
The immediate result of 100 nuclear weapons roughly the size of those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki being detonated would be the release of five megatons of black carbon into the atmosphere. 
Black carbon, not too dissimilar to soot, would block out the sun and can also be fatal to humans. 
Following a spell of black carbon rain, a deadly weather front that would devastate what remained of humanity following the nuclear war, the temperature of Earth would begin to drop. 
After a year the temperature would fall by 1°C (2°F), while after five it would be 1.5°C (3°F) cooler than it is now. 
About 20 years after the conflict it would warm again to just 0.5°C (1°F) below today’s temperature. 
Accompanying what the researchers call ‘the coldest average surface temperatures in the last 1,000 years’ would be a huge loss in ozone levels. 
They say that global ozone losses of 20 to 50 per cent would occur over populated areas, ‘levels unprecedented in human history’.

The drop in temperature would produce ‘killing frosts’ that reduce the world’s growing season by 10 to 40 days.
Meanwhile the eradication of up to half of the ozone would increase UV rays in some locations by as much as 80 per cent, raising the chance of developing skin cancer for large swathes of humanity. 
Combined with the global cooling, this ‘would put significant pressures on global food supplies and could trigger a global nuclear famine.’ 
The planet’s falling temperature would also decrease the amount of rainfall.
The article indicates that the scientists hope their paper will encourage countries to reduce or eliminate nuclear weapons from their arsenals.

Considering the political stance of the scientist involved, and inability of climate scientists to successfully model global climate with any accuracy, I have serious doubts about the conclusion offered up by these scientists. However, I'm even more skeptical when I consider that we had several times the number and power of nuclear weapons tests in the late 1950's and early 1960's without the consequences predicted in the paper. (1958 alone had over a 100 tests conducted, while 1962 had approximately 140 tests--and these were generally much more powerful weapons). Many of these weapons were much more powerful than the bombs used in the paper's hypothetical war. For instance, the paper assumes a war using 100 weapons of the size used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The yields varied, but we will assume 20 kT as an average, for a total yield of 2 MT for their hypothetical war. The Tsar Bomb--a single nuclear test conducted by the Soviet Union in 1961--had a yield of nearly 60 MT. That is, three times the total power of the weapons in the hypothetical war. And it was only one of many tests that year.

In other words, if more above-ground tests using more powerful weapons did not result in a global nuclear winter in the 1950's and 1960's, I'm pretty sure that it wouldn't happen with the more limited war envisioned by the scientists in the Daily Mail article.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

ISIS Continues to Take Territory

The Islamic State (aka ISIS) continues to make substantial military gains. VOA News reports that ISIS forces killed 270 taking the Shaer gas field in the central province of Homs. Aljazeera indicates, however, that Syria is contemplating an attack to attempt to retake the gas field.

Meanwhile, turning back to Iraq, McClatchy reports:
Islamic State gunmen overran a former U.S. military base early Friday and killed or captured hundreds of Iraqi government troops who’d been trying to retake Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit, the worst military reversal Iraqi troops have suffered since the Islamist forces captured nearly half the country last month. 
The defeat brought to an end a three-week campaign by the government in Baghdad to recapture Tikrit, which fell to the Islamic State on June 11. Military spokesmen earlier this week had confidently announced a final push to recapture the city. 
Instead, Islamic State forces turned back the army’s thrust up the main highway Wednesday. Beginning late Thursday, the Islamist forces stormed Camp Speicher, a former U.S. military base named for a pilot who disappeared during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and overwhelmed the troops there. 
Witnesses reached by phone, who asked not be identified for security reasons, said that by Friday morning the final pocket of government troops had collapsed, an ignominious end for a counteroffensive that had begun with a helicopter assault into Tikrit University but ended with troops trapped at Camp Speicher.
ISIS also continues to solidify its holdings by intimidating portions of the population that might provide resistance. Case in point, as the Telegraph relates:
Christian families streamed out of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Saturday after Islamist fighters said they would be killed if they did not pay a protection tax or convert to Islam. 
“For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians,” Patriarch Louis Sako lamented as hundreds of families fled ahead of a noon deadline set by Islamic State for them to submit or leave. 
The warning was read out in Mosul’s mosques on Friday afternoon, and broadcast throughout the city on loudspeakers. 
“We offer [Christians] three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract - involving payment... if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword,” the announcement read. 
It said Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who the group has now named Caliph Ibrahim, had ordered Christians who did not want to stay and live under those terms to “leave the borders of the Islamic Caliphate”.
Mao Tse Tung formulated a three stage theory of revolutionary warfare. Those steps are:
1. Organization, consolidation and preservation of base areas,
usually in difficult and isolated terrain.
2. Progressive expansion by terror and attacks on isolated enemy units
to obtain arms, supplies and political support.
3. Decision, or destruction of the enemy in battle. 
What does this mean in detail? 
The revolutionary cadres begin their work in remote rural areas. It’s easier to hide there and governments tend to ignore remote areas or, even better, discriminate against their inhabitants. That serves to helps with recruiting. Cadres come to villages to live and work and socialize with the locals. Over time they become trusted. In that newly fertile ground they develop a program, the party line, and recruit followers. The government on the other hand has the constant task of rooting out and apprehending the revolutionary cadres. That was usually a losing battle for them. In remote areas the peasant population is small; they all know and keep tabs on one another, but you can still move among them as long as you make friends with them. By contrast, strangers immediately stand out, so it’s harder for the government to infiltrate, to get intelligence. The Communists did not always co-mingle with the locals in such a benign way, sometimes they coerced villagers, but the track record (in China, Vietnam and elsewhere) reveals a trend toward cooperation rather than intimidation as the primary characteristic of the relations between revolutionaries and peasants. At least at this early stage. That’s phase one. 
Next, the transition to phase two, guerrilla warfare, armed struggle. In guerrilla warfare, attacks are carefully planned for heightened effect, but usually not for military purposes per se. Instead phase two revolutionaries are interested in using military force for political purposes. What or who is the first target? This is low-intensity warfare at this point so the target will likely be an individual or a small group, a police chief for example, or a village chief, or maybe even a province chief or council. Kidnapping and assassination are the tools of the trade, not so much because they want to get rid of that person but rather to make a resounding point. To what effect? To demonstrate to the populace that the insurgents can get to the enemy, that their force is a real factor to be respected. It also induces fear in the ranks. The first attacks may do little physical damage to the enemy, but psychologically, fears of possible mayhem just around the corner get stoked. Suddenly, formerly comfortable officials begin to fear for their safety. They may then pull their forces further inward for personal protection, which usually made the villagers happy. 
Another primary reason behind these first attacks is to get attention. Basically, when people read about the attack in the newspaper or hear about it on the radio or by word of mouth, they’re going to be curious about what is happening. Even if they’ve never heard of the revolutionary movement they may start thinking about it and seek to learn more. Engaging in that initial act of violence, or terrorism, demonstrates to the people that the revolution is real, that its agents are here and they mean business. And they can win. For villagers already opposed to the government, or even for those who were neutral, this represented a development worth watching, and maybe hope for something new and better. 
From that initial purely political statement, progress toward the third and final stage is constantly evolving. In the third stage military objectives rise to the fore. Getting there involves the constant escalation of fear through violence. For example, an ambush of a patrol might net a weapons cache. Then a police station is overrun in the night, netting more weapons and ammunition, and perhaps information like names of informants. Then, finally, enough weapons, and money, are accumulated to encourage supporters to help. They begin to give information on government officials, and local families grow more willing to hide communist troops. Over time, more and more locals actually take up arms and join in the combat operations. Insurgent military operations become bigger and deadlier. Ultimately a regular military force emerges that can engage government forces on the field of battle. That’s the third phase. As we’ll see, the Vietnamese Communists put their own gloss on the theory and practice.
 ISIS finds itself at a dangerous time in its development. It has successfully grown its organization from a loose band of terrorist and guerrillas to one that fancies itself a nation-state. It's military actions are no longer the work of isolated bands of terrorists or guerrilla fighters, but is transitioning to formal military units fighting open battles toe-to-toe with enemies. Right now, the moral of the ISIS troops and supporters is high due to the incredible victories it has obtained. All of this is, however, its weakness.

Because ISIS has not suffered a serious setback, if one were to happen, it would be a severe psychological blow to the movement. Combined with the death of its leader, and the group would likely degenerate into warring factions.

Militarily, ISIS is openly fielding forces. It is acting as real army. But it lacks the training and experience to a modern military force, and certainly is lacking much of the equipment needed. However, it has just enough to defeat the demoralized Iraqi troops that it meets. Right here and right now, though, it would not be able to stand against a professional military force of any significance. Iraq can't succeed; but the U.S. could crush this nascent army with a sufficiently strong contingent. After living under ISIS for several months, its popularity among the population will be waning. However, this window will soon close. ISIS is already seeking to put into place a bureaucracy to handle day-to-day government matters. It has seized key gas and oil fields that will provide it with sources of income. It will be able to field an army of motivated soldiers whose training and experience will make it an equal to almost any in the Middle East.

Now is the time to strike. But it will be, unfortunately, the time Obama falters.  The Europeans will not intervene either. It is simpler for them to criticize Israel than to recognize that something far worse than Nazi Germany is metastasizing in the Middle-East.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Ergo Delta Grip for S&W J-Frames--Preliminary Thoughts (Updated)

The Ergo Delta Grip is a relatively new grip design intended for round butt S&W J-frame revolvers (note, it will not work on the newer "Bodyguard" revolvers from S&W using a polymer frame). Ergo describes the product thusly:
The Delta Grip™ is the first truly ergonomic grip for J Frame revolvers. Designed for the most important part of the gun, the shooter, the Delta Grip was engineered to fit the natural point of aim and mechanics of the human hand, wrist and arm. The result is a grip with a superior natural point of aim, comfort and control.
I first read about this at The Firearm Blog when the product was first introduced at the Shot Show in January and was intrigued. When the Firearm Blog followed up with another post earlier this month, I was again intrigued. Since I carry a J-frame revolver, I decided to read some other reviews (see e.g., here, here and here) to get some opinions of those who had used it. Since the reviews were positive, I ordered one through Midway ($20 with the shipping and handling), and the picture to the right shows what I received. Here is a better picture of the grip:

As you can see, it uses a textured rubber over plastic, and comes with its own screw. The grip comes in two pieces.

Installation is simple. Simply remove the old grip, place each grip half over the pin on their respective sides, and, using the included screw, tighten it down. Here's what my revolver looked like after installation:

The fit was pretty good. There was a small gap between the top of the grip and the hammer shroud, but not enough to be a problem. I suspect that it may have fit more snuggly on a model with a concealed hammer.

The textured rubber grip is pretty "tacky" feeling. So, between that and the fact that I can now hold the firearm with three fingers (instead of just two), you wind up with a solid grip on the weapon. The angle of the grip forces you to take a high-grip on handgun, which results in the firearm more naturally pointing on target. When I first had the grips on and aimed at a point on the wall, I was reminded of aiming old blackpowder pistols. I suspect that the grip angle is very similar.

1760 Tower Pistol
Also, it seemed to place my hand in a better position to thumb the hammer back if needed.

I haven't had an opportunity to take it out shooting yet, but did some dry firing and also concealed carry with it. As far as the dry fire practice, the more solid grip and/or angle seemed to make it easier to pull the trigger through the double action stroke and without as much wobble.

The grip didn't interfere with the two holsters I tried--a Fobus kydex holster and pocket holster. However, between the tacky grip and the fact it is a little longer, it seemed to catch my shirt more, and sometimes pinched the shirt between the grip and my body. Thus, at least with a loose shirt over a belt holster, it may "print" more than with a standard grip. I didn't notice any difference with the pocket holster.

My kydex holster has an FBI cant to it. With the change in angle of the grip, it felt a little awkward drawing the weapon. It just seemed a little slower getting a firm hold on the pistol--I was having to adjust my grip on a few of the practice draws. I don't know if this will correct with practice, or if I need to get a holster without any cant. However, there were no issues, again, with drawing from a pocket holster.

In short, it seems to work fairly well with my current holsters and carry methods. The grip seems to match its advertising in that the handgun seemed to point more naturally, and it provides a stronger hold on the handgun. Of course, the real proof will be in the shooting, as it is supposed to help with accuracy and controlling muzzle jump. Hopefully I will get a chance in the next few days to try it out. However, even if it doesn't improve my accuracy, the more secure hold on the firearm would seem to justify the expense.

(Update): My thoughts after shootingThe photo on top is my J-frame with the Ergo Grip installed; below is the original factory grip.

As I noted in my original post, the Ergo Grip is obviously larger and gives a more solid grip on the firearm. It forces you to take a high grip on the pistol which may be different for most people. I've always favored a high grip on the revolver, so it was not much of a change.

The real proof is in the shooting. The Ergo Grip is supposed to provide better accuracy and reduce muzzle flip. I conducted my tests at about 5 yards shooting, obviously, 5-shot groups, all double-action and free hand. My best group with the Ergo Grip was smaller than with the regular grip--if I didn't count a flyer. In fact, I tended to have one shot that opened up the groups when using the Ergo Grip. Also, I was shooting slightly high and to the right with the Ergo Grip. This is probably something that could be corrected with practice. Overall, though, I wasn't left with the impression that the Ergo Grip helped me with shooting accuracy. It wasn't really worse, but it wasn't really any better, either.

Muzzle flip, though, was something again. Although this is obviously a subjective conclusion, I felt that Ergo Grip helped considerably with muzzle flip. This obviously meant that I could shoot a bit faster and didn't have the cylinder release gouging me in the thumb. Also, as I noted in my earlier post, I felt that I had better leverage for pulling the trigger. However, other reviewers were correct that the recoil seems to go more directly into the muscle below your thumb.

In short, I didn't find an advantage as far as accuracy. However, muzzle flip, and thus speed of follow up shots, improved. As I stated in my earlier post, it is not quite as concealed-carry friendly as the smaller factory grip because it seems to catch my shirt. However, it seems fine when using a pocket holster. I think that this grip would be useful for someone with larger hands, but may not be as useful for someone with smaller hands.

For now, I plan on continuing to use the Ergo Grip. To me, the mechanical advantage I get on the trigger pull is worth it.

(2nd Update). Thanks to Active Response Training for the link.

(3rd Update) So I've been carrying using the Ergo Grip for about a month, and I'm still pleased overall with the grip. I need to handload more ammunition before I can go out for another shooting session with it, but will provide a further update at that point.

Calla Lilly and Grasshopper

Friday, July 18, 2014

Moisture Farming in Kenya

VOA News reports on Maasai herdsmen using "fog catchers" to collect water from fog to water livestock.

Jane's Article on the Downing of the Malaysian Airliner

(link here). Being Jane's, the emphasis is on the weapon system used, not the political or humanitarian aspects of the event.

Guess the Guns...

A picture from the Rhodesian conflict. It looks like they had captured a bunch of Soviet PPSh-41 submachine guns, and a Mosin Nagant carbine. It appears that the soldier on the right and left had FALs with the baby poop camo pattern. But, as to the soldier standing behind the heavy machine gun, I'm not sure. Perhaps a PPSh-41?

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Gabe Suarez has a new blog post on counter-surveillance techniques.

Revolvers vs. Semi-Auto

I noticed that there has been some interest in a short blurb I wrote in 2012 on revolvers vs. semi-auto. Unfortunately, the Gun Nuts Media Article I cited has been taken down. However, I have updated the article with a couple links to other articles as well as a few of my own thoughts. Check it out if you have the time and inclination.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Culture In Love With Death

David P. Goldman's most recent column discusses why Hamas cares more about destroying Israel than creating a Palestinian state--with some lessons for the rest of the world.

The Non-Permissive Environment

From the "Dark Arts for the Good Guy" series at the Straight Forward in a Crooked World blog, an article on the "Non-Permissive Environment" and "Right to a Knife Part I and Part II".

Suarez International has an article on operating in a non-permissive environment (part I).

Although I've linked to it before, I would remind you of Greg Ellifritz's article on concealing a weapon with a bag.

Death Valley Magazine has an article for "arming up" in a 3rd world country and making a "shiv" out of a DVD.

Fed to Raise Interest Rates

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard writes at the Telegraph that the Fed is poised to hike rates to tighten the money supply. This is an attempt to stave off an inflationary spiral expected when (or if) unemployment falls much below 6%. It will, he predicts, raise the value of the dollar versus other currencies.

Down further in the article, Ambrose discusses the possible impact on foreign economies:
Yet if America is strong enough to withstand rate rises, it is far from clear what this will do to the rest of the world. A vast wash of dollars flooded the global financial system when the Fed cut rates near zero and then bought $3.5 trillion of bonds. This may now go into reverse. 
... Much of the dollar business is conducted through European and UK banks, leaving them acutely vulnerable to a dollar squeeze. Such episodes can be ferocious. It was a dollar liquidity shock that turned the Lehman affair into a global banking crisis, instantly engulfing Europe in October 2008. 
Emerging markets went into a tailspin last year at the first suggestion of Fed bond tapering. There was a sudden stop in capital flows. The "Fragile Five" (India, Indonesia, South Africa, Brazil and Turkey) were punished for current account deficits. ...  
... A study by the International Monetary Fund concluded that the Fed's QE had pushed $470bn into emerging markets that would not otherwise have gone there. IMF officials say nobody knows how much of this hot money will come out again, or how fast. 
The BIS in turn said in its annual report two weeks ago that private companies had borrowed $2 trillion in foreign currencies since 2008 in emerging economies, lately at a real rate of just 1pc. Loans to Chinese companies have tripled to $900bn - some say $1.2 trillion - mostly through Hong Kong and often disguised by opaque swap contracts in what amounts a dangerous carry trade. Countries do not borrow in dollars any longer (mostly) but their banks and industries certainly do. 
The report said monetary largesse in the West has destabilised emerging economies in all kinds of ways. One of the worst - and least understood - ways is that they were forced to choose between internal credit bubbles or surging currencies. Most opted for bubbles as the lesser evil, holding their domestic interest rates at 300 basis points below the safe "Taylor Rule" level. 
This has driven their total debt levels to a record 175pc of GDP. It may be even worse. China has thrown all caution to the wind, pushing credit from $9 trillion to $25 trillion since Lehman. Its debt levels have reached 220pc by some estimates. Officials at both the IMF and the BIS privately doubt whether China can extricate itself smoothly from this.
Read the whole thing.

However, things may not be as rosy as the Fed thinks. Judy Shelton, writing at the New York Sun, observes that the Fed's monetary policy may not have done anything but drive asset bubbles.
The presumed logic of using easy money to reduce unemployment was tentatively probed by a few brave questioners during the hearings. If firms are borrowing to expand operations — hiring more employees to boost production — why did U.S. productive output, as measured by gross domestic product, fall by 2.9% in this year’s first quarter? Ms. Yellen dismissed the negative number as “transitory” yet maintained that “accommodative monetary policy” was still needed to support economic expansion. 
Turns out, though, many of America’s largest corporations have been using low-cost money not to increase their workforce but to buy back their own stock in equity markets. According to a study released in late June by the chief market strategist at brokerage firm LPL Financial, Jeffrey Kleintop, companies purchasing their own shares are the single biggest category of stock buyers. Not only can companies use buybacks to raise their share price, they can also push up the earnings-per-share number (even if earnings are flat) by reducing the amount of outstanding shares. 
Such window dressing adds no real value to the economy. But it does explain why inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, has been relatively subdued. If the increased liquidity provided by the Fed is not filtering beyond boardroom valuation strategies, there is no kick to consumer demand. 
What’s odd is that some advocates of monetary stimulus hail the lack of inflation as a triumph for the Fed’s policies. But after so much pumping, the lack of a dramatic rise in the CPI is not grounds for crowing: It’s proof that the Fed’s policies are not working. Cheap money is not benefiting workers, not increasing consumer demand – and thus not raising prices for goods and services. Inflation is the dog that’s not barking.
So what does this mean? This article at The Street polled some financial experts who seemed to agree that the primary impact will be to raise interest rates for home loans and consumer loans. Among those with variable interest rate loans, expect to see increased defaults and foreclosures. Of course, the costs of servicing the national debt will increase, which may cause some budget battles. And, if the Fed has guessed wrong about inflation, increasing interest rates may be enough to push us into a recession. I would add that if a zero rate created bubbles in the stock market, increasing the rates may have the effect of driving some of that investment out of the stock market, with a resultant decline in stock prices.

Frankly, I don't believe that the economy will recover until energy prices drop. And I doubt that can happen until after the next Presidential election.

A Nation Divided Cannot Stand

This commentary from Pat Buchanan ties in nicely with my post, yesterday, asking if we are past the point of no return. Buchanan writes about the immigration issue:
Indeed, with the massive media coverage of the crisis on the border, immigration, legal and illegal, and what it portends for our future, could become the decisive issue of 2014 and 2016. 
But it needs to be put in a larger context. For this issue is about more than whether the Chamber of Commerce gets amnesty for its members who have been exploiting cheap illegal labor.
The real issue: Will America remain one nation, or are we are on the road to Balkanization and the breakup of America into ethnic enclaves? For, as Ronald Reagan said, a nation that cannot control its borders isn’t really a nation anymore. 
In Federalist No. 2, John Jay wrote, “Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people – a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs. … ” 
He called Americans a “band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest ties.” The republic of the founders for whom Jay spoke did not give a fig for diversity. They cherished our unity, commonality and sameness of ancestry, culture, faith and traditions.
... If a country is a land of defined and defended borders, within which resides a people of a common ancestry, history, language, faith, culture and traditions, in what sense are we Americans one nation and one people today? 
Neocons say we are a new kind of nation, an ideological nation erected upon a written Constitution and Bill of Rights. 
But equality, democracy and diversity are not mentioned in the Constitution. As for what our founding documents mean, even the Supreme Court does not agree. 
More and more, 21st-century America seems to meet rather well Metternich’s depiction of Italy – “a geographic expression.”
I'm not going to argue the pros and cons of immigration, per se, or whether the United States should enact or reject amnesty, but the idea that the United States may break apart.

Although immigration in the late 1800's and early 1900's benefited the United States, it also introduced its own series of complexities. However, assimilation reduced these complexities by enforcing a shared culture and language. I would suggest that current attitudes and laws concerning treatment of minority groups have unnecessary created complexity and frictions. For instance, we currently live under a regime of anti-discrimination, affirmative action laws that not only work against assimilation, but have dramatically increased the complexity of operating a business or administering a government.  Immigrants, illegal or otherwise, are drawn to the United States because of government welfare programs, which represent huge drains on the public fisc and have introduced stupendous levels of complexity and bureaucracy. As Tainter concluded in his book, it is when a complex society reaches a point of negative returns that collapse sets in.

The problem we face today may not so much be illegal immigration itself, but that allowing immigration brings such high costs--crime, welfare and social service demands, lawsuits, educational services, identity theft, forcing down wages for low-skill workers, etc. There is solid evidence that illegal immigrants cost the U.S. more than they contribute. (See here, here, and here). In other words, unlike the 1800's and early 1900's, immigration offers a negative return.

I would note, though, that many of these problems are the result of our governmental and social complexity. Much of the crime is due to the drug war. The welfare and social/educational services are benefits mandated by the government. The health care is mandated by the government. Discrimination lawsuits are enabled by the government. Identity theft is an issue because of the government requirements for identification to work and transact other business, and an insistence on using a single identification number to unite them all.

It would be impossible to separate the collapse of the Roman Empire from its influx of illegal immigrants--the Germanic tribes that migrated and settled within the Roman Empire. However, it is not a change in culture or values which caused the collapse of the Roman Empire. Rather, immigration introduced a people into the Empire which did not have the cultural investment to protect, and thus more willing to split from Rome once negative returns on complexity were reached.

Docent's Memo (May 16, 2022)

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