Monday, February 29, 2016

A Quick Run Around the Web -- February 29, 2016

"Throwing Blunt Force Weapons"--The Combat Knife Thrower
The gun stock club looks interesting.

That problem has been largely created by the wealthy themselves, and if they don't solve it, the people of this country will act to solve it for them - one way or another.  That may be by forcing redistribution in socialist style, which is what Bernie Sanders represents.  It may be by depriving the wealthy and their corporate interests of cheap (illegal) labor, and adjusting taxes to a realistic level in relation to their income and assets (something they've been working against for decades, as I'll show).  It may be by simple confiscation, which would be the progressive/Communist approach.  However, one way or another, it will happen.  That's inevitable, as any student of history will acknowledge.  When economic inequality becomes too great, something will happen to restore balance.  It always does.  The pendulum swings one way, then it swings back.  The cycle is never-ending.
Read the whole thing.
    Two of Mr. Trump’s opponents have openly acknowledged that they may have to wrest the Republican nomination from him in a deadlocked convention.
      Speaking to political donors in Manhattan on Wednesday evening, Mr. Rubio’s campaign manager, Terry Sullivan, noted that most delegates are bound to a candidate only on the first ballot. Many of them, moreover, are likely to be party regulars who may not support Mr. Trump over multiple rounds of balloting, he added, according to a person present for Mr. Sullivan’s presentation, which was first reported by CNN.
        Advisers to Mr. Kasich, the Ohio governor, have told potential supporters that his strategy boils down to a convention battle. Judd Gregg, a former New Hampshire senator who had endorsed Jeb Bush, said Mr. Kasich’s emissaries had sketched an outcome in which Mr. Kasich “probably ends up with the second-highest delegate count going into the convention” and digs in there to compete with Mr. Trump.
        In the past few months, we’ve seen another bug become superpowered: lice. Over the years, the strongest lice have defeated over-the-counter treatments and bred to create all-powerful and über-disgusting “super lice.”

        Since 2015, an outbreak of these superpowered critters, which can’t be killed with traditional medications, has hit 25 states. “The lice themselves have sort of built up a resistance to conventional over-the-counter treatments that most patients use for the treatments,” said Daniel McCrimons, a pediatrician in Sacramento, California. After multiple hair infestations, parents have resorted to lice clinics where the dreaded parasites are killed via dehydration.
          In 1786, Adams, ambassador to Great Britain, and Jefferson, ambassador to France, met with the Tripolitan envoy, Sidi Haji Abdrahaman. They hoped to negotiate the release of several dozen Americans being held as slaves.
            Abdrahaman told Jefferson and Adams “all nations which have not acknowledged the Prophet are sinners, whom it is the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave.”

            Friday, February 26, 2016

            Let Them Eat Cake!

            Although there is no evidence that Queen Marie-Antoinette ever uttered those words, as Wikipedia notes:
            [The anecdote] did acquire great symbolic importance in subsequent histories when pro-revolutionary historians sought to demonstrate the obliviousness and selfishness of the French upper classes at that time. As one biographer of the Queen notes, it was a particularly useful phrase to cite because "the staple food of the French peasantry and the working class was bread, absorbing 50 percent of their income, as opposed to 5 percent on fuel; the whole topic of bread was therefore the result of obsessional national interest."
            I came across an anecdote explaining a similar obliviousness among the American elite. In an op-ed by Robert Reich on the meaning of Donald Trump's and Bernie Sanders, Reich relates:
            A respected political insider recently told me most Americans are largely content. “The economy is in good shape,” he said. “Most Americans are better off than they’ve been in years. The problem has been the major candidates themselves.”
            I guess to update the quote in the title: "Let them use foodstamps!"

            A Quick Run Around the Web -- February 26, 2016

            Source: "45 mile wide frozen canyons and giant two mile deep pits of Pluto's mysterious 'yellow' north pole revealed in stunning new image"--Daily Mail.

            • First off today, Active Response Training's "Weekend Knowledge Dump."  A couple articles cited to therein particularly caught my attention:
            • "Open Carry: There Are No More Excuses For It," from Breach Bang Clear. I've been somewhat ambivalent about the open carry movement for a couple of reasons: first, open carry is legal in Idaho, where I live; and second, I've generally associated it with open carry of a handgun, with which I have no objection (although I think it is tactically unwise). However, that is not what the foregoing article is about--it is discussing the open carry of rifles. The author of the piece writes: "OCing a rifle has never been a normal act in American society. We don’t have a tradition of walking around the neighborhood, mall, supermarket or school with a long gun. We arm up [with rifles] in times of crisis, and in some rural areas people carry rifles for specific reasons, but we don’t walk around with rifles 'just because'." The basic takeaway is that open carry of a rifle is so alarming that it is counter-productive.
            • "Electronic Stun Devices 101: What They Can and Cannot Do" from US Concealed Carry. A few weeks ago or so, I cited an article about a woman that was attacked by a rapist, used a stun gun on him, which apparently had no affect on him, even though she could smell something burning. I sarcastically observed that it was very unlike television where stun guns instantly incapacitate anyone. So, the information from the article is appreciated. Basically, the Contact Stun Devices (CSD--e.g., your standard stun gun) will not paralyze someone because the contacts (and thus the distance the electricity travels through the target's body) is very short, but can cause pain. This makes these devices less useful for police attempting to apprehend someone, but of some use to a victim trying to drive an attacker away. More effective are the Conducted Energy Weapons (CEW--e.g., Tasers) that shoot darts into a target. Because the darts spread in flight, they can actually strike far enough apart that the target will be immobilized by the electrical charge (but only for as long as a charge is being delivered). The downside is that both darts must strike and penetrate into the target's body.
            • "POTD: DIY Sheet Metal Self Loading Pistol"--The Firearms Blog. Someone took TFB up on its challenge to build a small semi-automatic pistol made from sheet metal. It actually looks quite nice.
            • "The Truth About Big Bore Bullets"--The Truth About Guns. Robert Farago argues that better terminal ballistics from a big bore firearm is a myth. After discussing some historical examples, he states: "All this proves that the 'big bore myth' is just that, a myth, because without adequate penetration and bullet placement caliber is meaningless." He also argues that the larger bore diameter means that big bore bullets slow down more when striking a target and, therefore, have less penetration. My own belief is that Farago is being overly simplistic. Farago is correct that the bullet needs to be able to reach the vitals of a target, which is a combination of penetration and accuracy. But, if you have both those, then the volume of tissue disruption comes into play. Otherwise, there would be no need to use anything but full metal jacket ammunition.
            ... it needs to be emphasized that the third bubble collapse of this century is imminent. That’s because both the global and domestic economy is cooling rapidly, meaning that recession is just around the corner.

            Based on the common sense proposition that the nation’s 16 million employers send payroll tax withholding monies to the IRS based on actual labor hours utilized—-and without any regard for phantom jobs embedded in such BLS fantasies as birth/death adjustments and seasonal adjustments——my colleague Lee Adler reports that inflation-adjusted collections have dropped by 7-8% from prior year in the most recent four-week rolling average. [Emphasis in original].
              The panicky Chinese attempt to cover up bad news by suppressing the release of normal economic statistics is the worst possible sign for the future of the economy. It tells us that things are so bad that the authorities (who have all that inside information that they don’t want to share with other people) think that they lose less by hiding bad news than by revealing it.
                If we put that piece of information alongside the trend of rich people in China moving their money offshore by any means possible, an alarming conclusion is hard to resist: The people who know China best are the most bearish about where things are heading.
                  And when you in turn add that to the growing evidence that Xi Jinping is cementing his personal authority and promoting a cult of personality, as well as to the news that China continues to put pressure on media and journalism, what you get is a strong sense that the authorities in Beijing are terrified by their country’s future prospects.

                  Thursday, February 25, 2016

                  A Quick Run Around the Web -- February 25, 2016

                  From "Rusting rollercoasters, abandoned arcades and a deserted Big Dipper: Eerie drone footage captures former Six Flags Ohio theme park"--The Daily Mail.


                  Other Stuff:
                     ... Americans are struggling economically, in part due to the economic policies that have caused their real wages to peak in 1973. But that merely exacerbates the anger that they feel at their country being subject to the largest invasion in human history, an invasion of 60 million that is nearly 16 times larger than Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union.
                      They want their country back. They want to see America be great again, not prostrate before the boots and burqahs of foreign invaders.
                        That is why they are angry.
                        This election is about globalism versus nationalism, and the globalists are currently in control.
                        The central argument in my book is that the welfare state is eroding the economic and social prospects of the nation by increasing the proportion of individuals in the population who possess the employment-resistant personality profile. As the book explains, this proliferation of employment-resistant personality characteristics occurs due to the damaging effect on personality development of exposure to childhood disadvantage. Hence a welfare state which sets up perverse incentives that increase the number of children who are born into disadvantaged households (as happened in the UK circa 1999) will increase the number of individuals in the population who suffer personality mis-development due to exposure to disadvantage during childhood.
                        • Some news from South Africa:
                        While most white South Africans still land the plumb jobs and enjoy relative wealth, the number of poor whites has steadily increased in the past two decades.

                        Seeking to undo years of racial inequality - when whites were almost guaranteed employment and housing under apartheid - the ruling African National Congress (ANC) government introduced laws that promoted employment for blacks and aimed to give them a greater share of the economy.

                        This change, along with the global financial meltdown, has meant many white South Africans have fallen on hard times and are forced to live in slums. 
                        • "Report: Fighting the Great South African Drought"--Daily Maverick. "South Africa needs 11.25 tons of mielies a year to feed its citizens. This year’s official crop estimates are at 7.438 million tons, according to the national crop estimate committee. The confirmed 2015 mielies crop was 9.9 million tons."
                        • "Deep Maneuver (Autonomous Robotic Weapons)"--Global Guerrillas. Certain computer viruses can takes weeks or even months in order to move around and through the internet to gain access to a particular target (e.g., Stuxnet). The author suggests that with advances in robotics, a similar strategy could be used with robots: quietly infiltrating the physical territory of an enemy in order to strike at target(s).
                        • "Ten Counterintuitive Pieces of Advice About Marriage"--Observer. Most of these are pertinent to a person already married, a couple are more relevant to a person thinking about getting married. 
                        • "Cluelessness Regarding What’s At Stake In The Apple Versus FBI Fight"--The Captain's Journal. "Apple was unlocking phones years ago, when security feature such as system-wide encryption hadn’t been implemented. It was a different kind of 'unlocking.' This isn’t a fight over keys to a single device. This is a fight over encryption, which the government doesn’t want any of us to have, because the government is run by political science and history majors."
                        • "The disingenuous question (FBIvApple)"--Errata Security. The author argues that instead of arguing over the exigencies of the moment, we look at the bigger picture:
                          Rather than a "Going Dark" problem, ours is one of "Going Light". We all now carry a GPS tracking device in our pocket that contains a microphone and video camera. We are quickly putting a microphone (and sometimes camera) in every room in our house, with devices like smart TVs and Amazon's Echo. License plate readers line the roads, and face recognition (as well as video cameras) are located everywhere crowds gather. All our credit card transactions are slurped up by the government, as are our phone metadata (even more so since the so-called USA FREEDOM ACT).

                            The question is whether the "warrant upon probable cause" is sufficient protection for the Going Light problem? Or do we need more limits?
                            • "So much for Cecil"--Bayou Renaissance Man. I've noted before that liberals don't worry about the consequences of their policies so long as they can feel good about themselves. And this story is a textbook example: After the uproar of the killing of the lion "Cecil" in Zimbabwe, big game hunters stopped going there to hunt big game. Of course, as any person with even a limited knowledge of hunting and wildlife management knows, hunters fund most wildlife preservation programs. And so it was in Zimbabwe. Because of a lack of funds due to the decline in hunts, the wildlife park in which Cecil had resided is now planning on culling 200 lions. The hunter that killed Cecil killed but one lion; the people that persecuted him have killed hundreds.
                            • "Japan Admits 27 Refugees, Two Already Arrested For Gang Rape"--Anonymous Conservative. As the author explains:
                              Migrants will tend to be r-strategists, in search of high dopamine at low cost. If a person can kiss goodbye to their family and their homeland easily, as these male migrants without families apparently can (or if they can’t even get along with their family, as in this case), they will tend to have low loyalty and high selfishness. If they travel to the other side of the globe in search of free resources, that is driven by a dopamine addiction. Since dopamine requires money, food, and sex, to be released, you are admitting selfish people, with no loyalty, who have such a strong need for the neurochemical rewards produced by money, food, and sex that they traveled across the globe, abandoning every familial tie at home to do it.

                                It is not surprising when they go that extra mile and simply take money and sex from vulnerable individuals by force....
                                  Resource restriction eliminates the amygdala soothing effects of dopamine. If the Yakuza today were enjoying a period of resource glut, with money flowing everywhere, nobody would have gotten irritated enough to precipitate a split. Instead, resources were growing scant, tempers were getting irritated, and all of a sudden, all you were waiting on was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It is analogous to what we will see the in the US over the next few years as our economy grinds along.
                                    The real economic collapse is still years, if not decades away, however. When that hits, splintering will occur everywhere – along nationalistic lines, religious lines, racial lines, ethnic lines, and even geographic lines at the neighborhood level.
                                      Factor it into your planning.

                                      8 Mistakes Made by Beginning Preppers and Survivalists

                                      Yesterday, I came across an article at Gun Preppers entitled "5 Things Beginner Preppers Always Regret." Many of the points the author raises are applicable even to experienced preppers/survivalists. I also thought of a couple more items that tend to be forgotten or overlooked. So I thought I would discuss the 5 points raised in the article and a couple of additional items.

                                      1. Fixating On SHTF Scenarios. The first point raised by the author at Gun Preppers is fixating on a particular disaster scenario to the exclusion of others or, I would add, "end of the world" disasters over more common disasters. If you watched any of the episodes of the television program, Doomsday Preppers, you often saw this phenomena (although I'm sure it was exaggerated by the program's producer): a prepper convinced of a particular disaster--e.g., massive solar storm, nuclear war, peak oil--to the exclusion of all else. Arguably, if you are prepared for (fill in the blank), you are prepared for almost anything. But I suspect that with such narrow focus, there also comes a certain rigidity to plans, where good preps should provide you with options.

                                      The other downside is ignoring the little things in favor of "surviving off the grid." As the author of the cited article points out:
                                      It does you no good to sell the house and move into an off-grid, radiation-shielded bunker if you don’t even know how much food to store in it, how to filter your water, or how to escape your rat hole if it’s ever compromised. I’m not saying you’ll never need a fallout shelter; I’m saying power outages happen every year and sometimes last several days or weeks, and nuclear attacks are a little more rare. 
                                      Assess the risks in your area and be ready for them. The most common risk is interruption of public utilities by any number of natural causes, so prepare to eat, drink, shelter yourself, and administer first aid for at least two weeks before you start digging that fallout shelter.
                                      And it is not true that preparation for one disaster necessarily prepares you for another. FerFal notes over and over in his book and articles that many traditional preps (e.g., moving to an isolated location) will not help you, and perhaps harm you, in a slow economic collapse/decline. This is why experienced preppers generally focus less on the particulars of a disaster and more on their overall resilience (financial, food/water, energy, shelter, defense) for a given set of time (a week, two weeks, month, 6 months, year, etc.), and set goals of becoming prepared for given time period (e.g., start out storing food/water for a week, then increase the amounts).

                                      This also helps with correcting mistakes as you go along and ensuring that your preparations are compatible with your way of life, diet, preferences, etc. When you are starting out in your preps, it is much easier to recover from a mistake in the purchase of a single case of MREs or dehydrated foods, for instance, than if you had purchased a one-year supply.

                                      2. Not Finding Likeminded Allies. The second point ties in with one of the points I will raise later. But the author's explanation is that sometimes we have too much of an "operational security" mindset, when we may have otherwise found other people that were preppers or interested in prepping. This doesn't mean that you have to spill your guts to everyone, telling them everything about your preparations, but just raising the topic of disaster preparation can clue you into other preppers.

                                      3. Copying Other Preppers. The basic point here is that what the other guy is doing may not be right for you; or the other guy may not even know what he is talking about.

                                      An example from my own experience: The LDS Church recommends members store a year's supply of food. Traditionally, members have followed "the basic five," which includes bulk storage of wheat. So we started storing up wheat, bought a couple mills (a hand-cranked one and an electric), etc. In the process, we discovered that the hard red wheat had a more pleasing flavor than standard white, but I digress. We also discovered that my wife had problems with eating large quantities of wheat (probably the gluten). So, while storing wheat was something that may work for many, or even most people, it wasn't the best model for us.

                                      In this regard, the author of the cited article advises:
                                      Go back to the beginning and do a risk analysis. Examine your budget; can you afford it? What are your living conditions? What is the likelihood that a hurricane (or earthquake or wildfire) will threaten your home? Are you physically up to the task of bugging out on foot? 
                                      Every step along the way you should be asking yourself these questions and more. You are unique. Recognize and embrace the fact that with preparedness, one size does not fit all.
                                      4. Relying Too Heavily On Firearms. The gist of the author's point here is that too many preppers treat firearms as a talisman, that (if properly tricked out) will turn you into a Navy SEAL (or Spetsnaz, SAS, etc.), and fail to obtain the proper training. That is true, but I think it fails to address a bigger problem, which is placing too much emphasis on firearms/defense preparations.

                                      Firearms, ammunition, optical sights, and so forth, are expensive. It is easy to get caught up with constantly upgrading your weapon (either with accessories or replacing it), expanding your collection with additional firearms, and stocking up magazines, ammunition, and so forth. This is money (and time) that is being taken away from other preparations. If you have a basic rifle, do you need the $2,000 tricked out AR, particularly if your food stores consist of two cases of Raman noodles and a few left over cans of soup? I know that is an extreme example, but I fear that there are a lot of people that focus too much on firearms (even going into debt to buy the firearms and ammunition) and neglect their other preparations.

                                      5. Overemphasizing Supplies. The gist of this point is another example of treating equipment as talisman. The author warns of getting caught up in the trap of thinking that just because you have lots of equipment or the latest and greatest doodad, you are prepared. You must know how to use your equipment and you must know whether your equipment works. If you are not taking the equipment out of its packaging until you need it, it may already be too late.

                                      The other aspect of this issue is buying more equipment, or more expensive equipment, than you really need. Prepping is designed to free you, and provide options, not be another trap that drags you down and mires you in debt. You need to ask yourself: is this something I need, or is it just something I want? Perhaps your income is sufficient that this is not an issue, but I would bet that for most of you, this is not the case.

                                      Anyway, those are my thoughts on the five points raised in the cited article. Now I want to add a couple points of my own.

                                      6. Not Building Tribe. Point 2 ties in with this, but does not sufficiently cover the topic. The question for you is whether you have people on which you can depend to help you in a time of crises and, in turn, can depend on you. John Mosby refers to the process of gathering these types of people as "Building Tribe."

                                      The greatest challenge is building the strong relationships. You may think that you have a "tribe," when you do not. One of the best examples of "tribe" is the community that the Bielski brothers built, which is described in the book Defiance (and also made into a motion picture). It wasn't a perfect community (is there such a thing?), but they were united in their survival against the forces arrayed against them.

                                      One hopes that you could depend on family to be part of your "tribe," but that may not be the case. One of the things that struck me, reading Defiance, was the number of women who apparently had been abandoned by husbands as they fled the Nazis. Not situations of the men going into hiding while the Nazis swept up military age men, but the men simply abandoning wives and children who couldn't keep up. It can go the other way, as well. I have a friend (hopefully he doesn't see this post) who had serious health problems arise suddenly several years ago. A few weeks later, his mother-in-law became sick, and his wife abandoned him to take care of her mother. Before you start sympathizing with the wife, the mother-in-law lived less than a mile away, her father (i.e., the father-in-law) was retired and healthy and fully capable of providing the care needed, and the wife was spending most of the time there simply watching television or putting together puzzles with her parents (my understanding was that she would come home late at night to sleep, after my friend was asleep, but my friend left for work before she woke up). He was left to deal with his health issues, work a full-time job, and do all the shopping, cleaning, laundry, etc., for him and their four children. She only started spending more time with him and the children after his health issues had subsided. Is this someone he can depend upon?

                                      One would hope that you could depend on neighbors, but that isn't necessarily true, either. Again, another historic example: the book Savage Continent attempts to describe the misery, forced expulsion, and other acts of retribution following on the heels of World War II. The book is replete with examples of societies fracturing along ethnic and religious faults, and neighbors turning on other long term neighbors that were of a different ethnicity or religion. This is an extreme example, but it shows that merely living in proximity to someone does not guarantee bonds of loyalty giving rise to "tribe".

                                      Your "tribe" may be a church or other religious congregation. But again, you have to ask yourself how strong that attachment will be. I have previously discussed the response by the LDS Church following the Teton Dam flood. Overall, the assistance and help between and among the members of the Church were very commendable. However, my family's experience was less so. We were further down the river, so that the destruction was limited to flooding of a dozen or so homes near the Snake River--we didn't have a wall of water tearing through town, ripping up trees and pushing houses off their foundations as happened in towns closer to the Dam. Consequently, we were not in the zone that received attention from emergency personnel. My parents were blue collar workers in a ward (congregation) mostly made up of farmers, doctors and lawyers (i.e., upper middle class). My parents were also relative strangers to the area, having only moved into the ward about 5 years earlier, whereas most of the other members of the ward were from families that had lived in the area for generations. We were the only family that had to hire someone to help with cleaning out our flooded house, rather than receiving volunteer assistance from other ward members. The blunt fact is that my family were members of the congregation, but not members of "the tribe."

                                      7.  Focusing on Unreasonable or Unlikely Defense Scenarios. Another point that I've raised in other posts is focusing on unlikely defensive scenarios. This is really a subset of Point 1 (Fixating On SHTF Scenarios), above. Too many survivalists approach defense and firearms as if they are going to be partisans fighting a corrupt government, a legion of UN troops, or the rabid gangs from a Road Warrior movie, and forget that they are more likely to be a victim of a mugging or other type of assault, a car jacking, or a burglary. Its perfectly fine to train and practice for the extreme scenarios, but not to the expense of basic self-defense. And, to amplify on Point 4, above, self-defense is more than just the handling of a firearm.

                                      8.  Becoming Too Focused On Prepping. Prepping is supposed to give you peace of mind, not something to feed anxiety. Prepare, but also remember to live your life. With that in mind, I'll close with this well-known humorous tale:
                                      “A state trooper stopped a 95-year-old woman on Interstate 20 and noticed as he was checking her drivers license that she had a concealed carry permit.” ... “He said, ‘Got any guns with you ma’am?’ She said, ‘Yes, a .45 Smith & Wesson in the glove compartment, a .357 magnum in the console and a .38 special in my purse.’ The trooper said, ‘Lady, what are you scared of?’ She said, ‘Not a damn thing!'”

                                      Wednesday, February 24, 2016

                                      "Centuries-old icon uncovered in Bethlehem church"--Times of Israel

                                      From the article:
                                      Workers renovating Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity have uncovered a centuries-old icon “of great religious and historical value,” Ziad al-Bandak, a Palestinian presidential adviser for Christian Affairs, said Saturday. 
                                      Al-Bandak told the Ma’an news agency that the icon was discovered near a window under plaster nearly two months ago and is made of brass, silver, shells and stones. 
                                      The icon has reportedly been repaired and the plaster covering it removed. But it is not available for public viewing and images have yet to emerge.
                                      Other news articles, citing this article, have referred to the icon as an "artifact," which skews the meaning of the original article. "An icon ... is typically a painting depicting Christ, Mary, saints and/or angels, which is venerated among Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and in certain Catholic Churches. ... Icons may also be cast in metal, carved in stone, embroidered on cloth, painted on wood, done in mosaic or fresco work, printed on paper or metal, etc."

                                      A Quick Run Around the Web--February 24, 2016

                                      Primitive Technology's video, "Making Charcoal"

                                      • "Calculating Muzzle Velocity and Trajectory With Five Shots (Or So)"--The Truth About Guns. To make full use of this article's information, you will need a range of more than 100 yards, and a true first focal plane mil/mil scope.
                                      • "TangoFoxtrot’s Rifle Dust Tests: Mini-14, AUG, ARX-100, SCAR"--The Firearms Blog. "Once again, the AR-15 proves to be a remarkably dust-resistant rifle, in spite of the reputation it received in the GWOT. The AK puts out a particularly poor performance (although it possibly could have continued working with manual assistance), but the true loser of the test is once again the Garand-style open action, in this case in the form of a Ruger Mini-14."
                                      • "DPM Recoil Reduction System for AK-47"--The Firearms Blog. Called the Telescopic Recoil System, "the way the system works is through the use of four springs of varying strength. As the bolt cycles rearward, the springs progressively increase resistance, slowing the bolt and absorbing felt recoil."
                                      • "The people who want the UK's gun laws relaxed"--BBC. "'It's frustrating for me that when you tell someone you own a gun you're instantly labelled a weirdo. It's like a secret society,' Callum Long-Collins explains from a gun shop in Botley Mills, Hampshire." Life in a society overflowing with hoplophobes
                                      • "How the Syrian Conflict Could Lead to a Clash Between Russia and NATO"--Huffington Post. A commentary by Lord David Owen, former British foreign secretary. From the piece:
                                      ... It soon became apparent, however, that the Russian targeting strategy was less concerned with ISIS than tilting the balance of the civil war in favor of Assad and that Russian forces are now using tanks to target rebel strongholds in and around Aleppo.
                                        Saudi Arabia has now moved fighter jets to Turkey with the aim of carrying out strikes inside Syria and has agreed to deploy special forces coming into Syria via Turkey.
                                          Turkey is making it clearer by the day that it may feel it necessary to move from shelling mainly Kurdish positions inside Syria to moving troops and tanks into Syria. Meanwhile, concerns are being raised about Turkey invoking Article 5 of the NATO treaty, if Turkish forces were to be attacked by Russia or Syria.
                                          • "Sinaloa: Police Find 13 Bullet-Riddled Bodies"--Borderland Beat. 8 men and 5 women between 18 and 30 years old. Military forces investigating the scene "located around 200 AK-47 shell casings over a radius of 60 meters. Supposedly the gunmen shot at the victims from the top of a hill, which made them easy targets."
                                          • "Remains of hundreds of victims, discovered at Veracruz ranch"--Borderland Beat. "The ranch, ‘El Limón’ in Veracruz, where the remains of two of the five students who disappeared on January 11 were discovered,  was used by organized crime with the suspected complicity of security forces,  to eliminate the bodies of hundreds of people taken hostage over several years."
                                            Global warming is unlikely to take hold before the end of the century according to a controversial new statistical study.
                                              The report, published by the think-tank the Global Warming Policy Foundation, claims that while winters are likely to be slightly warmer, there will be no change in the summer.
                                                Using statistical forecasting methods, the report, written a statistician at Loughborough University, contradicts predictions made by climate scientists.

                                                Tuesday, February 23, 2016

                                                A Quick Run Around the Web -- February 23, 2016

                                                The video is called: "Introduction to Muscle - 3D anatomy tutorial." The author has a You Tube Channel with many more anatomy tutorials. (H/t Western Rifle Shooters).

                                                Mr. Lewis [a local coffee shop owner] said he paid the 21 percent corporate tax rate on his profits last year, equivalent to 31,000 pounds, or $45,200. By contrast, Facebook — which is based in the United States but does business in Britain and is therefore subject to British taxes — paid just £4,327, or $6,274, in corporate tax in 2014, or about one-seventh of what Mr. Lewis paid.
                                                  Facebook’s bill was also less than the average personal income tax payment and the national insurance contributions that individual British employees pay, which amount to about $7,800 a year for someone making the median income of $40,000.
                                                    That is just one glaring example, Mr. Lewis and his fellow shopkeepers in Crickhowell said, of what amounts to multinational tax dodging on a gargantuan scale, leaving the little guy to pick up the tab. And their protest is one small case study of how economic populism is playing out around the world, rallying grass-roots support to challenge governments and corporate interests alike.
                                                      Two things.  First the Saudi's have taken notes and are doing their own form of coalition warfare.  Second they're attempting to reduce dependence on US military leadership/power and become the de facto leaders of the region.
                                                        Considering everything that we've seen in the Middle East, I think the alternate media has it right and wrong.  I don't think this is going to lead to WW3.  I do think its only a matter of months or at most a couple of years till we see a major regional war.
                                                        There is a lot of popular support for Islamic terrorism among Sunni and Shia as it is common to believe that the non-Moslem world is always actively at war with the Islam and Islamic terrorists are the only effective weapon to strike back with. This sounds absurd to non-Moslems, especially Westerners. Arab diplomats insist that there is no such terrorist support in Moslem nations. But anyone perusing Arab language media immediately sees this support and some of it even shows up in English language versions of Arab media. ...
                                                        "It’s as much a class war as it is a gender war” stated Yiannopoulos. “Much of it is perpetrated by white middle-class women who are the most privileged group in the history of our civilisation, of our species. They are the most privileged people ever to have lived[…] sort of waging war on working-class men. Now most of my readers fall into that second category, and I see the sort of injustice perpetrated on them and the sort of language used about them.”
                                                          More and more, I think living within a liberal brain is one of the worst curses life could inflict upon you. From the lack of richness in one’s emotional life, to needing therapy after hearing Milo speak for a few minutes, it just seems as if liberalism is a living nightmare which liberals would really want to wake up from, if only they knew how nice it is to not be afflicted with the amygdala-deficiency underlying their malady.
                                                            Unfortunately for them, conservative thought processes are a cognitive color they have never seen.

                                                            Monday, February 22, 2016

                                                            A Quick Run Around the Web -- February 22, 2016


                                                            Other Stuff:
                                                            ... According to the House of Commons library, anything between 15 and 50 per cent of UK legislation now comes from the EU; and remember that this type of legislation is very special.
                                                              It is unstoppable, and it is irreversible – since it can only be repealed by the EU itself. Ask how much EU legislation the Commission has actually taken back under its various programmes for streamlining bureaucracy. The answer is none. That is why EU law is likened to a ratchet, clicking only forwards. We are seeing a slow and invisible process of legal colonisation, as the EU infiltrates just about every area of public policy. Then – and this is the key point – the EU acquires supremacy in any field that it touches; because it is one of the planks of Britain’s membership, agreed in 1972, that any question involving the EU must go to Luxembourg, to be adjudicated by the European Court of Justice.
                                                              He could have been writing about the U.S. federal government and its relationship with the States (remembering that when the United States was formed, the individual states viewed themselves as nation states, not provinces or prefectures).
                                                              • "Weimar America"--Victor Davis Hansen at PJ Media. A nice review of the decline of the United States over the last decade. Among other things, he points out:
                                                              Since Obama’s reelection, the southern border has been wide open, in naked efforts to recalibrate American electoral demography. The U.S. has taken in more immigrants, legal and illegal, than has any other country.... The U.S. last year allowed nearly $80 billion to be sent in annual remittances to Mexico and Latin America, mostly from those here illegally. ...
                                                              • Related: This is what we are importing: "Children snatched from their beds, dealers peddling heroin in front of cops and a murder every night: The deadly Mexican state run by 'narcos' who laugh at desperate families forced to pay their ransom demands"--Daily Mail. One of the most useful books for understanding violence is Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature (which I reviewed here). Pinker describes 6 trends that have resulted in steadily lower rates of violent death in Western/Northern Europe, Australia, Canada, and United States. What needs to be kept in mind when considering immigration or refugee issues is that only the first trend--the development of nations states--has been experienced world wide. Or, in other words, most nations and cultures in the world have only experienced one (or, at best, a few) of the trends. That means that these cultures are inherently (and independent of any genetic predisposition) going to be more violent than those cultures with Western or Northern European roots. Also, there is nothing predestined or inevitable about the trends that Pinker describes: they can go into reverse or disappear, along with their influence. 

                                                              Sunday, February 21, 2016

                                                              A Review of Revelation -- Part 8 -- A Call to Repentance: further thoughts on the four trumpets and discussion of two of the last three trumps

                                                              The plains of Megiddo (source).

                                                              [Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3] [Part 4] [Part 5] [Part 6] [Part 7] [Part 8] [Part 9] [Part 10] [Part 11] [Part 12]

                                                              The last installment in this series discussed Chapter 8 of Revelation and touched on the first four of seven trumpets that follow the opening of the seventh seal. 

                                                              To briefly recap, when the Seventh Seal was opened, there was silence in Heaven for a space of a half hour: this could be an actual half-hour, or, using the information from the scriptures of a 1,000 year to 1 day time differential between earth and Heaven, it could represent an approximate 21 year period on earth. At the end of the period of silence, four angels sound trumpets in succession: after the first, there is a fall of hail and fire mingled with blood that burned up a third of the trees and all the grass; the second was followed by the fall of burning mountain into the sea so that a third of the sea became blood and destroying a third of the life and ships in the oceans; after the third trumpet, the star called wormwood fell, poisoning a third of the lakes and rivers; and after the fourth angel sounded, the sun, moon and third part of the stars were darkened, they did not shine for a third part of the day and night.

                                                              The four trumps described above could result from a single natural disaster or type of disaster. I've noted before the environmental impact from major volcanic eruptions, including the 1815 Mt. Tambora explosion, the Rinjani eruption of 1257 or 1258 (see also here), and the Laki eruption in 1783. See also my post entitled "Boom" which discusses the impact of a super volcano in the last portion of the article. The point is that a major volcanic explosion (or series of explosions) would throw tremendous amounts of material into the air, including dust and chemicals which would form sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid and hydroflouric acid. This haze would not only dim or reduce the amount of sunlight, but reduce temperatures. We could expect major crop shortages around the world. And, as noted in relation to these historical eruptions, we could see animals literally being dissolved from acid fallout, and streams and lakes poisoned. Four trumpets suggests the possibility of four eruptions.

                                                              Brandt emphasizes in his book that we should not take the repeated references of a "third" as necessarily literal, but as an indication that the Lord will put a limit on the impact of these calamities: "these calamities will not, at least initially, overtake the inhabitants of earth." Brandt goes on to indicate that "[i]n His mercy and love, the Lord warns and reproves, providing ample opportunity for mankind to observe and repent." Brandt quotes at length from Joseph F. Smith (for those that are not LDS, he was a later president of the Church, not to be confused with Joseph Smith or yet another president of the Church named Joseph Fielding Smith), who wrote:
                                                              Judgment is not an end in itself. Calamities are only permitted by a merciful Father, in order to bring about redemption. Behind the fearful storms of judgment, which often strikes the just and unjust alike, overwhelming the wicked and the righteous, there arises bright and clear the dawn of the day of salvation ... What He permitted to occur seems clearly to have been for the purpose of calling attention, by the finger of His power, to the wickedness and sings of men--not alone to the sins of the people of the stricken city, for there are many elsewhere who are just as evil minded, but to the transgressions of all mankind, that all may take warning and repent. Men who stand in the way of God's wise purposes, whether they be good or evil, must suffer in the turmoil. Thus it is that often the righteous suffer for the unrighteous; and it is not satisfactory to the thinking mind to say that therefore God is unjust. The perfect Christ suffered, the just for the unjust.
                                                              Or as the Anonymous Conservative might describe it, these disasters are intended to stimulate our amygdala and, thus, cause us to act in the face of possible danger and return us to the conservative K-strategy that has served us so well in the past.

                                                              Brandt suggests that the "half hour" of silence is the final time for the missionaries and members to preach the gospel. As I indicated in my prior post on this topic, after the testimony of the missionary and members will come the testimony of the Lord: i.e., the four trumps. Chapter 8 then closes with verse 13, which reads:
                                                              And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!
                                                              This appears to be yet another time and opportunity given by the Lord to the inhabitants of the Earth to repent.

                                                              Moving into the final three woes, Brandt observes that "[a]s devastating as the natural disasters foreseen by John may be, the sorrow brought to the world because of personal wickedness and the ravages of war eclipse the natural disasters by several fold." (Underline added).  Chapter 9 of the Revelation reads:
                                                               1 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. 
                                                               2 And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. 
                                                               3 And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. 
                                                               4 And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. 
                                                               5 And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. 
                                                               6 And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. 
                                                               7 And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. 
                                                               8 And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. 
                                                               9 And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. 
                                                               10 And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months. 
                                                               11 And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon. 
                                                               12 One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter. 
                                                               13 And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, 
                                                               14 Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. 
                                                               15 And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. 
                                                               16 And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. 
                                                               17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. 
                                                               18 By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. 
                                                               19 For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt. 
                                                               20 And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: 
                                                               21 Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.
                                                              The reference to "a star" falling from heaven apparently signifies a spiritual being (see e.g., Job 38:7) who will have the power to open the bottomless pit. It likely refers to Satan (aka Lucifer) who was cast from heaven. (See Isaiah 14:12 and 15; Luke 10:18; Rom. 9:22) (See also Abraham 3; D&C 75:25; D&C 76:26 and 33). Brandt explains: "John's symbolism means that the devil is accorded dominion over the hosts of hell--those souls who have subjected themselves to his will."

                                                              The term pit is associated in the scriptures with hell: a place of torment. The Greek phrasing used literally means the "bottemless pit," or the deepest chasms of Hades. "Clearly John's imagery of this first woe is figurative  and also quite disconcerting. He depicts a time in the last days when wickedness covers the earth as a plague, the devil has control over many of the inhabitants to stir up chaos and mischief, bringing torment and sorrow as he enslaves them in gross wickedness and fights against righteousness." Rather than "figurative," I believe that a better understanding is achieved if we realize that John's perception of these events are "spiritual" rather than, necessarily, physical: i.e., John is seeing what lies beyond our senses--what is really going on behind the scenes.

                                                              Brandt compares the plume of smoke to the "mists of darkness" that Nephi saw in his vision; that is, "an oppressive veil of spiritual blackness that blinds men's minds and leads them into forbidden paths where they are lost." These are the spiritual counterpart of the blinding mists that darkened the sun and moon in Chapter 7.  Brandt writes:
                                                              The fallen angel stokes the fires of deception and sets out snares of entrapment. He has worked for decades to interject false principles, perversions, and anger into the world through lies, temptations and by means of his satanic minions. The result is darkened minds and angry souls.
                                                              * * * 
                                                              The smoke's purpose is to smother goodness and truth. ...
                                                              * * * 
                                                              Eventually, if society wanders in the haze long enough, it begins to acclimate and forget the glorious vistas that lie above the filthy smog. ...
                                                              He also warns that the members of the Church are not exempt from this spiritual darkness, but it poses a risk to anyone that does not hold to the iron rod.

                                                              With the smoke arises a swarm of locust. Brandt explains that "[t]he Hebrew word for locust, arbeth ..., means 'many' and most often refers to a black swarm of devouring locusts that frequently spread across the land," devastating all in their path. He further explains:
                                                              Young locust nymphs, usually called hoppers (grasshoppers), are by themselves relatively harmless as they live and feed in small groups or in isolation. But the combination of abundant rain, food, and other favorable climatic factors can create conditions where hoppers multiply into large numbers. [Ed: the circumstances that give rise to r-strategies]. The resulting hordes begin to crowd together and interact more frequently one with another. These associations stimulate metabolic and behavioral changes that cause the insects to transform from solitary and relatively benign creatures to aggressive, gregarious legions of marauders. The transformation brings both physical and behavioral metamorphosis, changing the hopper into a locust. Frequently, their colors alter from green to yellow exhibiting patches of reds or oranges as signs to would-be predators that they are now toxic and should not be eaten. Some actually develop poison within their organs making them unsavory and harmful; and this venom serves to drive their militant behavior. 
                                                              The transformation from hopper to locust presents an important symbolic lesson to the reader. The wickedness of an individual, while harmful, has limited scope in society. As evil grows and dark behavior becomes the cultural norm, societies undergo behavioral and even physical changes. Evil in humanity amplifies geometrically and with it comes perniciousness and misery; spiritual devastation plagues the inhabitants. John's vision of the locust swarm symbolizes a terrible transformation in the last days. Society which was once largely guided by the light of Christ, has become as swarms of unclean spirits, slaves to sin, consorting collectively in wickedness. The Spirit of the Lord has ceased to strive with many (2 Ne. 26:11). The resulting culture breeds "doleful creatures" compared to jackals and hyenas, an environment where satyrs (demons) choose to dance (Isa. 13:21: 34:14). Society is ripening for a speedy destruction.
                                                              However, as the imagery indicates, the locust are not literally grasshoppers, but men and evil spirits. as evidences by the human features. While Brandt emphasizes that the locust are the evil spirits under the control of Satan, he also writes:
                                                              We should not dismiss the possibility that among the various classes of swarming locusts are oppressive military forces, including terrorist cells, militias, and the armies of despots. There are other groups, however, who sting with the venoms of immorality, pride, pornography, drug abuse and alcoholism, child slavery and incest, dishonesty, theft and materialism, sorcery and murder, and the most abominable secret combinations. These locusts fly under many logos and banners in every earthly location. Their design is not to kill, but to captivate and subject all who can be deceived with the pains and torment of iniquity.
                                                              The locust are also described as having stings in their tails and the ability to hurt (not kill) men for 5 months. This, according to Brandt, is the span of the dry season and therefore the locust. He notes that the limit of 5 months indicate a definite duration, but that the actual duration "is probably much longer as it is not taken from the earth until the wicked are removed." Interestingly, though, is Brandt's discussion of the torment caused by the stings, which he compares to the mental anguish and torment that the wicked suffer while in the "gall of bitterness." Brandt notes, for instance, that the wicked feel no hope and languish in despair, having no peace. He mentions the mental and physical torment that Zeezrom realized after he realized his folly and wickedness, desiring death and obliteration to the suffering, which was not relieved until he sought and obtained forgiveness. (See Alma 14 and 15). Brandt compares it to the armies of wicked Nephites, as Nephite civilization expired, who "did curse God, and wish to die. Nevertheless they would struggle with the sword for their lives." (Morm. 2:14). Mick Smith likewise writes about Rev. 9:6:
                                                              According to Revelation men shall seek death, and shall not find it. This explains the agony of the condemnation these men [and women] are experiencing. Not only are they being tormented 'not unto death,' but they are so miserable that they would rather pass through death than experience what is taking place in their lives. It is a sad commentary on their lives that at the moment when they are surrounded wickedness and tribulation, rather than turn to their Lord and repent, they would prefer to seek death.
                                                              There is one group that is not afflicted, however: those "sealed with the seal of God." (Rev. 9:4). As Brandt notes:
                                                              The sting has no effect [on those sealed of God] as they have not been infected with serious sin. The faithful cling to the principles of truth and the Spirit, who guides and protects their course through the darkened world. They hold firm to the Iron Rod (1 Ne. 15:24; 1 Ne. 8:20; 11:25), to patience and faith; they hearken to the words of the prophets with exactness. Such obedience provides them safe passage through the dangerous smoke created by Satan.
                                                              ... Even as the wicked are surrounded by demons, so the righteous will be encircled by the Spirit of the Lord and by protecting angels.
                                                              Mick Smith, in his book on Revelation, notes the sealing of the righteous on the forehead has significance as "[t]he forehead is the center of thought, or where ideas enter into the mind, and those who are sealed will know within their mind or forehead that they are sealed to the Lord." I would note that the protection may not be equal, as we have been told that only those under the protection of the priesthood have the promise of divine protection.

                                                              Moreover, the locust will achieve some great measure of success, fleeting as it may be. "The vision shows that their heads are adorned with crowns of gold. The crown stephanos means 'wreath' or 'athletic laurel' awarded to victorious generals or athletes."

                                                              Moving onto the second woe, Brandt notes that the natural consequence of increased wickedness is conflict. (See D&C 1:35, where the Lord warns that peace will be taken from the earth). Brandt writes:
                                                              As the world increases in wickedness, there will be an ever-widening gap between honorable and evil individuals. People will gravitate under their chosen philosophical, political, ideological and cultural banners. Some will support righteousness and will rally to the banner of the Lord, while others will yield their hearts to Satan and become captive to his seductive crafts. ... As the destroyer's influence gains power in the world, the spirit of enmity will manifest itself in the hearts of the children of men. Wicked elements in society will breed avarice against honorable principles and combine against righteousness. In time that same enmity will drive them to contend with one against another.
                                                              (See D&C 87:6). I would point out that we see this already occurring as the offspring of the social left now devour their elders who are not sufficiently ideological pure; and as the flood of immigrants welcomed by the globalists threaten to overwhelm and destroy their very nations.

                                                              In any event, the wickedness of the first woe lays the groundwork for the second woe: the army (numbered in the Revelation as 200,000,000) by which "the third part of men [were] killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths."

                                                              As background, the voice ordering the release of the four angels (and armies) comes from between the horns of alter. Understanding this reference requires some knowledge of the temple sacrifice practices under the Law of Moses. Yearly on the Day of Atonement, the high priest made an offering in behalf of Israel, in which he sprinkled blood of the sacrifice on the horns of the alter. This was a petition for mercy from the Lord on behalf of the congregation, to forestall His judgment. (Lev. 4:18-20). Brandt also notes that the horns were a place of refuge from retribution by accused lawbreakers until civil due process could be completed. (1 Kgs. 2:28-35). With this in mind, the meaning of John's vision becomes clear: "By commanding that the four angels, previously bound in the bottomless pit, be loosed upon the world, the voice ominously announces that the Lord's previous intervention forestalling the powers of evil has passed and mercy with it." Brandt further explains that the term "angel" in this case does not mean messengers of God, as we usually understand the term, but "are four devils, counter-angels to the four angels mentioned in Revelation 7:1." These angels will summon massive armies from among the nations (Ezek. 38:8 and Zech. 12:3), for the sole purpose to slay a third part of men.

                                                              Brandt explains: "The demons work unopposed 'for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year.' The use of the single articles for all four time designations signifies that the work of death will begin at a pre-appointed time, an exact hour designated by God." Consequently, "[t]he tragedy will not be permitted to commence until the wicked have massed under the banner of the devil's servants and God's servants have been prepared and readied for the calamity to begin." I would point out that we have been told, in fact, that the missionaries will be called home prior to that day.

                                                              As before, reference to the death of "a third part" designates also that this war will also have its limits. Nevertheless, this conflict will be greater than any before or subsequent to it. (Joel 2:2-3). "The destination of this innumerable alliance of troops is the battlefield of Armageddon and eventually the city of Jerusalem." (See Ezek. 38:8; Zeck. 12:3 and 14:2; D&C 133:35). Nonetheless, the battle of Armageddon is not the end, either. "True it will be massive and terrible, but it does not signify the end of the world; other events will follow Armageddon prior to the final destruction of the wicked."

                                                              According to the King James Version (KJV), this army is called from beyond the Euphrates. Brandt mentions that in Joseph Smith's translation, the term "Euphrates" is replaced with "bottomless pit," which suggests to me that there may be a physical location to the pit. In any event, Brandt explains that the significance of the reference to the Euphrates is that the river represents one of the bounds outlining the land promised by the Lord to Abraham and his descendants. Also, Israel's most formidable enemies have lain beyond the Euphrates. Thus, "[w]hile the demons themselves will come from the bottomless pit, many of Israel's mortal enemies will march from the north and the east beyond the natural boundary of the Euphrates River." This, of course, carries Brandt into a discussion of Ezekiel 38 and 39, and Gog and the people of Magog and their allies. Notwithstanding the list of nations in Ezekiel 38, other prophecies indicate that the conflict will involve "all nations." (Zech. 14:2, Jer. 25:15-27). The prophet Joel described their method of warfare: "A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the Garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them." (Joel 2:3).

                                                              Brandt believes that this army will be gathered by the Anti-Christ and his minions:
                                                              Blasphemies will spew from the mouths of the Anti-Christ and the false prophet, who proclaim the world alliance will establish peace, order and security, and that the war is a moral necessity. Behind the scenes secret combinations will actively engage and influence the nations to unite together. Radical religious leaders will claim that their genocidal ends against their long time adversary, the Jews, are justified because God has sanctioned it.
                                                              However, there will also be profit motive. (Ezek. 38:10-13).

                                                              As to the number of 200,000,000, Brandt points out that the actual text reads "two myriads of myriads," where myriads have been translated as meaning 10,000. It should be read merely as "countless." (See Joel 1:6 and Ezek. 38:15). Armies will come from the north, east and south. "Some scholars are that they will come in two waves." (Brandt quotes Draper for the proposition that "John seems to use the plural rather than the singular to show that more than one invasion into the territory will be attempted and will succeed."). Brandt interprets the description of the forces, and the fire coming from their mouth, head and tails, as John's attempt to describe modern military equipment. Although getting beyond the scope of Chapter 9 of Revelation, Brandt notes that the armies will be thwarted by both the two witnesses or prophets mentioned later in Revelation (see also D&C 77:15), and cataclysmic disasters from the Lord. (Ezek. 39:6). According to Ezekiel, only 1/6 of the enemy troops that attack will survive (many of the more wicked Jews will also perish). Yet, according to John's vision, the peoples of the earth will continue in their wickedness. (Rev. 9:20-21). Looking at the example of civilizational collapse given in The Book of Mormon, Brandt surmises that "[t]he wicked remnants, still reeling in defeat, turn on each other, seeking blood and revenge." (See also 1 Ne. 22:13).

                                                              Brandt attempts to describe while the people will still not repent, and suggests it is because of their faith in their idols of gold, silver, brass, stone and wood, and cites a portion of a talk by Pres. Spencer W. Kimball, who compared our vast armaments and navies to idols to which we pray "for deliverance and depend upon them for protection ... like the gods of Baal."

                                                              Brandt concludes:
                                                              The great destruction and subsequent collapse of those who fought against God following the tremendous war throws all the world into strife and instability. In the ensuing chaos each nation, state, city, or township will seek every means to survive. But it will be for naught, for the evil works of the wicked in Babylon have come into 'remembrance before God' (Rev. 16:19). Driven by the spirit of the devil, they are left to themselves to destroy each other by the most barbarous means. The third and final woe is the worst of all. It begins with desolating scourges and bloody conflicts and culminates in the fiery advent of [the] Lord. When the Lord comes in purifying fire, no unhallowed soul will escape.
                                                              He also states that "[t]he trumpets signal the final hours of decision, when every man must choose what he believes and to whom he will give his allegiance. By this time there will be no place for fence sitting, no quarter for casual observing from afar, and not dithering."

                                                              Docent's Memo (May 16, 2022)

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