Sunday, July 31, 2016

July 31, 2016 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

Pope Francis warned priests and nuns on Saturday not to “remain enclosed, out of fear or convenience.”

    “How can we fail to hear… the great appeal of Saint John Paul II: ‘Open the doors?’” he said at the Sanctuary of St. John Paul II in Krakow, amid criticism of Polish church leaders’ reluctance to accept migrants.
    • "Federal Racial Discipline Quotas Create Chaos In St. Paul Schools"--The Federalist. The federal government is imposing discipline quotas on public schools--i.e., that the racial makeup of students being disciplined must reflect the racial makeup of the students in the schools, irregardless of whether certain groups may be more prone to cause trouble. The theory is that racial disparity in discipline is the result of racism, and only racism. How will this pan out? Well, either white and Asian kids will be over-prosecuted, or  blacks and Hispanics will be under-prosecuted. The article describes St. Paul, Minnesota's experience over the past 6 years after it implemented such a system: 
      ... the city’s high schools have become menacing places where gangs of out-of-control teens prowl the halls, and “classroom invasions” by students settling private disputes are commonplace.

        Tumultuous brawls are a fact of life. Today, fights that “might have been between two individuals” can grow into “melees involving up to 40 or 50 people,” according to Steve Linders, a St. Paul police spokesman. Roving packs often attack individuals, and police have had to use chemical irritants to break up what they call “riots.”

          Teachers fear for their safety. In the last school year, a vicious student assault landed one in the hospital with a traumatic brain injury. Another was punched repeatedly in the chest, while another required staples for a head wound. One high school has issued emergency whistles to teachers and assigned a guard to every floor. A teacher who was crushed into a shelf in a classroom invasion now instructs her students to use a “secret knock” to enter her classroom, according to City Pages.

            Anarchy also reigns at many elementary schools. A teacher caught between two fighting fifth-grade girls was knocked to the ground with a concussion. In the St. Paul Pioneer Press, former fourth-grade teacher Aaron Benner described young kids running screaming through the halls, cussing out teachers, and attacking classmates. “Safety was my number one concern, not teaching,” he wrote.
            A Venezuelan ministry last week announced Resolution No. 9855, which calls for the establishment of a 'transitory labor regime' in order to relaunch the agricultural and food sector. The decree says that the government must do what is 'necessary to achieve strategic levels of self-sufficiency,' and states that workers can be forcefully moved from their jobs to work in farm fields or elsewhere in the agricultural sector for periods of 60 days.
            Of course, under socialism, some animals are more equal than others, so don't hold your breath if you expect the privileged and wealthy to join in.
              A September 2013 FBI report found that of the 160 active shooter incidents in the U.S. between 2010 and 2013, 21 (13.1 percent) ended after unarmed citizens made the “selfless and deeply personal choices” to confront the active shooters. In each of these cases, the citizens “safely and successfully disrupted the shootings” and “likely saved the lives” of many others present.

                Another compelling reason to consider change is because future attacks are inevitable, and relying on police rescue might actually lower your own chance of survival.

                  The 2013 FBI report found that of those 160 active shooter incidents—incidents that generated 1,043 total casualties—60 percent ended before police arrived. These disturbing numbers warrant attention, especially when examined alongside CIA Director John Brennan’s recent remarks: “ISIL has a large cadre of Western fighters who could potentially serve as operatives for attacks in the West … our efforts have not reduced the group’s terrorism capability and global reach … [and] we judge that it will intensify its global terror campaign.”

                  Hillary Clinton's Lack of Legitimacy

                  It is claimed that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails leaked via Wikileaks where gathered by hackers for the Russian government. If so, the Russians have severely weakened Hillary Clinton if and when she is elected President. Not necessarily because the Russians may have compromising emails that can be used to blackmail Clinton, although those may exist, but because her election will be so tainted as to rob it of legitimacy. And because her election will be robbed of legitimacy, her presidency will also be robbed of legitimacy.

                  It was a stroke of genius. Fourth generation warfare revolves around government legitimacy and Hillary, should she win, will begin her term already crippled. This can already be seen in stories such as this one from Hot Air entitled "Why Bernie Sanders Never Had A Chance," which suggests that Hillary's nomination today was the result of a deal struck with Obama back in 2008. Sure it may be speculation, but as the author points out:
                  Speculation can run rampant, especially on a weekend after a political convention that was manipulated to make sure that the Bernie Sanders people got screwed over every which way possible. 
                  When you look back at this chain of events, post-DNC hacking scandal, it sure is a lot easier to understand why there was a thumb, a fist, hell, a side of beef, on the scale against Bernie Sanders and his supports in the 2016 primary cycle. 
                  Bernie voters, you sad saps, you never had a chance. Now, we can reasonably suspect that the chance you didn’t have goes back eight years. We can also deduce that the Democratic Party is a top-down organization, not a grassroots organization. They claim to be, of course, but the power at the top has nothing to do with the will of the people in its base. It’s a club where only the opinions of a couple of members count.
                  Worse, for Hillary, is that the revelation of DNC favoritism spurs others to dig into the DNC's and Hillary's dirty laundry. Stories that otherwise would never see the light of day are now going to be freely published. For instance, The Daily Kos reports that "Election Justice USA Study Finds that Without Election Fraud Sanders Would Have Won by Landslide." The authors of the study concluded:
                  Based on this work, Election Justice USA has established an upper estimate of 184 pledged delegates lost by Senator Bernie Sanders as a consequence of specific irregularities and instances of fraud. Adding these delegates to Senator Sanders’ pledged delegate total and subtracting the same number from Hillary Clinton’s total would more than erase the 359 pledged delegate gap between the two candidates. EJUSA established the upper estimate through exit polling data, statistical analysis by precinct size, and attention to the details of Democratic proportional awarding of national delegates. Even small changes in vote shares in critical states like Massachusetts and New York could have substantially changed the media narrative surrounding the primaries in ways that would likely have had far reaching consequences for Senator Sanders’ campaign.
                  The Daily Kos author finishes his article: " So, at the end of the day, Ralph Nader was right: She did win by dictatorship."

                  The result is incidents like that in Colorado Springs, where Trump supporters began chanting "lock her up," in reference to Clinton, and anti-Trump demonstrators joined in with the chant.

                  Friday, July 29, 2016

                  Zika in the Wild in the U.S.

                  The Florida governor has confirmed that there are 4 cases of Zika in Miami that were apparently the result of transmission from mosquitoes. According to the article, "three men and one woman have been infected all within a one-mile radius in northern Miami." No Zika infected mosquitoes have been located, but authorities believe the four were infected by the insects because "none of the four patients under investigation had traveled to a Zika-infected region, nor had they had sex with a Zika-infected patient." I would note, however, that a recent case of transmission in Utah was apparently not due to sex or mosquitoes, suggesting that it could be transmitted through other bodily fluids or by air trasmission.

                  In the latter instance, "[t]ests have already shown that the deceased elderly patient had 'uniquely high amounts of virus' in the bloodstream, according to a CDC statement. The level of virus was more than 100,000 times higher than seen in other samples of infected people, according to the CDC."

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

                  "Tourniquet, how to use them, what to do when you don't have one and need it." (H/t "Watch: Tourniquet | How To Use Them"--Loadout Room). Please note that the Loadout Room article links to a second video that may be worth your time.

                  We found that the overall wounding pattern and the fatal wounding pattern following civilian active shooter events differ from combat injuries. There were no deaths from exsanguinating extremity wounds. As such, we discourage the current myopic focus on hemorrhage control for civilians. Instead, we urge that the tenets of civilian-based TECC be implemented across the entire prehospital trauma spectrum, and we further recommend studying this strategy to affirm its benefit.
                  Basically, as you would expect from the shooting of helpless victims versus armed soldiers, the majority of lethal wounds to civilians were to the head and torso, which obviously obviates the usefulness of tourniquets. This is, of course, why it is recommended that your medical kit also include hemostatic gauze, pressure bandages, and a chest seal. However, I would not throw away the tourniquet yet--the hope is that you will fight back, not be a sitting duck, so it is more likely that you may suffer limb injuries than the run-of-the-mill victim. 
                  In an astonishing admission, the report said its own investigators were unable to obtain key records or penetrate the activities of secretive "ad-hoc task forces". Mrs Lagarde herself is not accused of obstruction.
                    “Many documents were prepared outside the regular established channels; written documentation on some sensitive matters could not be located. The IEO in some instances has not been able to determine who made certain decisions or what information was available, nor has it been able to assess the relative roles of management and staff," it said.
                    • "France Has Two Options — Civil War or Submission"--Gates of Vienna. "[French President] Hollande cannot declare war on ISIS because ISIS is not just some foreign power in far-away lands which can be bombed from the air with impunity. ISIS is Islam and Islam is in France. Islam is in Paris and Marseilles. Like a rapidly expanding virus, Islam has invaded France and is attacking the racial base, the cultural base, the spiritual base and the political base of the host country itself."
                    • "Scott Adams Sees Liberalism Crushing Testosterone"--Anonymous Conservative.
                      As a conservative, I watched some of the Democrat convention, and was struck by two things. One, I am now uncontrollably repulsed by liberals. I cannot tolerate them within my sphere, to the point I literally had to change channels periodically to let my amygdala rest. As I pondered this, I pictured what would happen if there ever is a civilizational breakdown, because I am a civilized guy and even I can see an ideologicidal war being a major stress reliever.
                        I would imagine the uncivilized guys are going to go hog wild if they happen on hipsters with Bernie or Hillary bumper stickers once the law is non-existent. Eliminating amygdala irritation is the foundation of violence. I can easily see Bosnian level violence become normal if the façade comes down.
                          Two, I felt a real wave of vigor as I contemplated what I saw, because as I watched it I felt like I was watching the early part of a Charles Bronson Deathwish film. The Democrat Convention was like the first part of a Deathwish movie, where the thugs are running wild, shooting children, raping women, and laughing about it. That is the part where the movie is establishing all the reasons Charles would later have to kill them, so you could properly enjoy their deaths.
                            If you know they are all going to be killed, all the first part does is invigorate you, and make you look forward to the second part, where Bronson does what Bronson does to all of the people who deserve it.

                            Thursday, July 28, 2016

                            July 28, 2016--A Quick Run Around the Web

                            "Locked in time: How the once most advanced power station in Europe now lies abandoned and untouched in tribute to its former glory"--Daily Mail.

                            • "Pope Francis says world is at ‘war’ but it’s not about religion"--Christian Science Monitor. From the article: "'The world is at war because it has lost the peace,' he said, according to the Wall Street Journal. 'There is war for money. There is war for natural resources. There is war for the domination of peoples.'" He is incorrect in stating that war is not associated with a particular religion, as Islam preaches that peace can only be obtained through submission to Allah, even if such submission is by force. But he is correct as to our losing the peace--and that loss is because we, as a civilization, have lost our roots and, thereby, our vitality.
                            • "Killer Drought Strikes Southern Africa"--American Interest. This year’s El Niño is particularly strong, resulting in droughts throughout the Southern Hemisphere, including southern Africa. Although it is clear that mismanagement and corruption has severely reduced agricultural output in the region (Zimbabwe, for instance, in stealing land from the white farmers), the author suggests that the U.S. and other rich countries need to do more in the way of providing "free" aid. However, I've read enough about the corruption involved with providing aid, and how such programs tend to insulate and protect corrupt dictators and governments, that I have serious doubts about doubling down on past policies that have not worked. 
                            • Just a reminder that we are living in the 21st Century: "Small modular reactors are nuclear energy’s future"--Financial Times. From the article:
                            SMRs are designed as shrunken versions of larger plants; they can be made in factories and moved by train, truck or barge to the site. Developers say that if enough are built in the same factory, costs per unit of energy output can be driven down well below those of larger plants.
                              Small reactors are already used on nuclear submarines and in some developing countries such as India and Pakistan. But only recently have the industry and politicians begun to take seriously the idea that they could be made economically on a large scale.
                                Anurag Gupta, nuclear director at KPMG UK, says: “SMRs promise all the benefits of nuclear — low cost and green power — but without the significant cost and schedule overrun issues that have beset conventional large nuclear projects.”
                                • "Peter Thiel Was Wrong"--Rob Dreher at The American Conservative. Dreher has penned a response to Thiel's assertion that the cultural wars are fake or irrelevant. Dreher writes, for instance:
                                You hear this kind of thing a lot from social liberals who genuinely believe that nothing serious is at stake in the culture war. If conservatives would just roll over and accept that the liberal view is naturally, obviously correct, we could get back to our “real” problems. Thiel is the sort of person who looks at pro-Brexit voters and cannot imagine why they didn’t understand that their material interests were with the Remain side. What people like Thiel — really intelligent people, let us stipulate! — don’t understand is that not everybody values the things they do. Real, important things are being struggled over.
                                He continues:
                                Culturally speaking, to be born in many places in the US is to suffer an irreversible lifelong defeat. If you come from a culturally conservative region, or family, you understand that the people who make the decisions in this culture are on the other side. At best they regard you as irrelevant. At worst, they hate you, and want to grind your nose in the dirt. Whatever the case, the things you value, that are important to your identity, and your sense of how the world is supposed to work, are either fading away or being taken from you — and you can’t do anything about it.
                                • "By The Numbers: Glock 26 vs Glock 43"--The Firearms Blog. The author argues that although the Glock 43 is somewhat lighter, there are otherwise no appreciable advantages to it over the Glock 26 given that the size is about the same, but the magazine capacity is much less; particularly when you consider that the Glock 26 can use magazines intended for the Glock 17 and 19. It appears that the weight savings is about 4 to 5 ounces, which, in my book, can be fairly significant for concealed carry. 

                                Some Light Reading

                                Beat P. Kneubuehl, ed., Wound Ballistics--Basics and Application (3rd ed., 2008) (PDF, 520 pages). Please be aware that this is a large download, nearly 8 Mb.

                                Wednesday, July 27, 2016

                                July 27, 2016 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

                                "EMPTY SHELL Engineers the 'World’s First Hand Held Electric Gatling Gun in 5.56mm'"--The Firearms Blog. Also some more from The Truth About Guns. Seems to me that General Electric had developed a 5.56 version in the 1970s, but I don't know if had been intended to be hand held.

                                News and Opinion:
                                Why is it that the lingering consequences of this this situation – and many more like it, for stories like this are not uncommon – end up falling to white people to deal with? Why are the efforts of blacks themselves not sufficient to shoulder these burdens? Why is it the job of white people, like the policemen who spent Friday morning drinking Psycho Dish’s coffee (and unlike an entire neighborhood full of black residents who all saw nothing, heard nothing, and knew nothing about the crime), to seek justice for their murdered youth? Why is it the job of white people, like the good-hearted Christians at his church (and unlike an entire neighborhood full of black residents who live a few steps away), to find ways to care for their needy elderly? Why, instead of relying on white people to help them, do they not take care of each other, as Psycho Dish’s family did through his mother’s long illness?

                                  Will it ever not be the job of whites to deal with the seemingly-endless problems of, and to clean up the seemingly-endless messes left by, black people? If so, when? How? Under what circumstances? What will be the secret ingredient that finally makes it happen after decades of fruitless trying? ...
                                  As they say, read the whole thing.
                                  • "If You Can't Touch It, You Don't Own It"--Zero Hedge. In the wake of the Brexit vote, many mutual fund holders attempted to cash out their mutual funds, only to have their asset managers refuse to make payments to prevent a run. Just a reminder that possession is nine-tenths of the law.
                                  • "The Right Way to Write About the Volcanic Apocalypse"--Eruptions Blog. The author, a volcanologist, explains that there is no scenario where all, or most, of the volcanoes on earth would erupt at the same time. I would note that there is nothing in Revelation that indicates this either: one or two very large eruptions (not even supervolcanoes) would account for the darkening of the sun and the moon appearing red.

                                  • "The Fall of the 6.8 SPC and Rise of the 6.8 SPC II as a Hunting Round"--AR15 Hunter. A history of how the 6.8 SPC failed as a military cartridge, but, after being tweaked a bit, is achieving some popularity as a hunting round.
                                  • Nathaniel F., at The Firearms Blog, has started a new series discussing the ballistics of various "intermediate" calibers. So far, he has discussed:
                                  • "Moderate power firearms"--Backwoods Home Magazine. In an article from 2008, Massad Ayoob discusses why you don't need, or even want, too much gun--e.g., one that will make you flinch each time you fire it. He discusses calibers (and gauges) that are softer on the shoulder and hand (and wallet, I might add) but can still get the job done, as well as using .22 LR.

                                  Tuesday, July 26, 2016

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

                                  The News:

                                  • "Generac Vs. Kohler: Finding The Best Portable Generator"--Survive the Wild. The author compares a portable generator (the Generac) and what is essentially a large Universal Power Supply (UPS) (the Kohler) for use as a short term backup power source. He also discusses some alternatives to the aforementioned products, and notes the advantages to the UPS's when combined with solar panels for charging.
                                  • "PTR-91 A3R Review"--Modern Rifleman. The PTR-91 is a semi-auto version of the HK G-3 battle rifle; i.e., an American made HK-91. The author goes a bit into the history of the G-3 and how the PTR rifles came to be made in America, before delving into the specific details of this particular rifle. One of the failings of most versions of the HK-91 style rifles (and the HK-93 styles, as well) is the general lack of the paddle-mag release. Although there is a side-button release, similar to the release on the AR pattern rifles, the size of the HK rifles places the button too far forward to be accessed without breaking your grip on the weapon. To make up for this, the CETME and G-3 rifles included a paddle shaped magazine release at the bottom of the magazine well that you can engage with your thumb when grasping the magazine as you withdraw the magazine. However, most civilian versions of the rifle lack this release. The A3R version of the PTR-91 includes that paddle mag release; it also has a Picatinny rail for mounting scopes or other optics.
                                  • "BREAKING: US Army Introduces New Enhanced Performance Magazine for M4/M16 Series Rifles"--The Firearms Blog. The new magazine, which will be tan with a blue follower, is designed to angle the cartridge slightly upward so that the steel tips on the new M855A1 rounds do not contact (and thus damage) the aluminum feed ramps.
                                  • "Is Middle America Due For a Huge Earthquake?"--The Atlantic. From the article:
                                  The source of all this anxiety is the fabled New Madrid Seismic Zone. In the winter of 1811 and 1812, three earthquakes of magnitude 7, and possibly as high as 7.7, and countless punishing aftershocks thereafter, rocked the sparsely inhabited frontier of the American Midwest. The earth had slipped somewhere deep under the frontier settlement of New Madrid, Missouri, and the resulting earthquakes opened up chasms, diverted the Mississippi, threw trees to the ground and landslides into the river. It created temporary waterfalls and lasting lakes. Meanwhile, existing lakes were turned inside out, as cracks in the ground spewed volcanoes of sand and water into the air. Boatmen caught in the maelstrom said the Mississippi appeared to run backwards. The quakes woke New Yorkers, rang church bells in Charleston, South Carolina, buzzed bemused Torontonians a country away, and brought down chimneys from St. Louis to Cincinnati. Because the deep rock in the middle of the continent is older and colder than out west, strong shaking was felt over an area 10 times that of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. An alarmed President James Madison even wrote Thomas Jefferson from DC about the tremors.
                                  However, the author goes on to interview a geologist that has studied mid-plate faults who argues that the strain is gone and the New Madrid Fault has shut down. The next big earthquake will be somewhere else. Read the whole thing.
                                  • "Supervolcanoes May Erupt Surprisingly Fast"--Real Clear Science. "Once primed, a supervolcano can decompress and erupt in under a year, a new study shows, offering little warning before a potentially cataclysmic event."
                                  • "The economy: 'Things fall apart', Part 1" and "Part 2"--Bayou Renaissance Man. Part 1 gives a background primer on inflation, the devaluation of money, and how globalization has led to reduced wages. Part 2 discusses how it impacts us, the ordinary citizen. For instance, the author asserts that the actual rate of inflation is currently 10%, which means that if you are not getting at least a 10% raise in salary or wages each year, you are actually slipping behind in terms of purchasing power.

                                  Odds and Ends:
                                  • "The Cost of Nepotism: J.P. Morgan to Pay $200 Million"--The American Interest. The author writes: "J.P. Morgan had been running a 'Sons and Daughters' program; hiring children of several powerful Chinese officials as well as friends and family of leaders at '75% of major Chinese firms it took public'." I've noted before that a meritocracy only lasts one generation.
                                  A lot of it is pure disconnect–many elites just don’t know a member of the white working class. A professor once told me that Yale Law shouldn’t accept students who attended state universities for their undergraduate studies.  (A bit of background: Yale Law takes well over half of its student body from very elite private schools.)  “We don’t do remedial education here,” he said.  Keep in mind that this guy was very progressive and cared a lot about income inequality and opportunity.  But he just didn’t realize that for a kid like me, Ohio State was my only chance–the one opportunity I had to do well in a good school.  If you removed that path from my life, there was nothing else to give me a shot at Yale.  When I explained that to him, he was actually really receptive.  He may have even changed his mind.

                                  Monday, July 25, 2016

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


                                  • "Why the German #4 Still Rocks"--The New Rifleman. The author writes about the versatility of the German #4 scope reticle (see above: thick bars on the left, right and bottom, with thinner reticle lines at the center and from the top), and then demonstrates how many popular reticles on illuminated scopes are so fine that they are pretty much useless should you lose the illumination in the scope.
                                  • "Remington Announces The New R51 Gen 2 Now For Sale At Your Local Gunshop"--The Firearms Blog. I know that the mention of the R51 generally elicits a hiss and byword, but I'm still interested in seeing it.
                                  • "Magpul Teases Sub-Compact 12 Rd. GL9 Glock Magazine"--The Firearms Blog. Magpul already produces magazines for the Glock 17 and 19 models of pistol, and now it appears that they will be releasing magazines for the Glock 26. I'm interested, if somewhat cautious. I had purchased one of Magpul's 17-rounders for evaluation, and it is not very reliable on feeding the last round or locking the slide back after the last round. I have purchased a second example to see if it is just a problem with the particular example I had purchased.
                                  • "The handgun used by Munich killer was a converted replica which had been bought on the 'dark web' and was originally from Slovakia, say investigators"--Daily Mail. Yet Germany, which already has some of the most stringent gun control laws in the world, seems to think the solution is even more stringent gun control laws. It must be the default response among the r-selected population.
                                  • "Guns vs. The Environment"--Active Response Training. I respect people that are open about mistakes in order to provide a lesson to others. Greg Ellifritz admits to a couple incidents where he neglected maintenance on firearms that resulted in the firearm not being able to function. These are mistakes that anyone can make, and will make given enough time. The lesson is to periodically check your firearms, especially if you are going to be using it for a carry weapon.

                                  Other Stuff:
                                  In a pile of documents left behind at the G-20 meetings was one with the title of being a "zero draft" of the leaders’ communique for the summit in Hangzhou Sept. 4-5, and it included some stark language: "The world economy stands at a crossroads," the paper dated July 15 said. "We will work to build an open world economy, reject protectionism, promote global trade and investment, ensuring broad-based public support for expanded growth in a globalized economy."
                                  • "On Free Trade"--Jerry Pournelle. He argues that free trade is not conservative, writing: 
                                  The advantages of Free Trade are lower prices for stuff. That means they are more cheaply produced. As the economist David Ricardo wrote, there is a principle of comparative advantage that coupled with free trade guarantees maximum profits for when there are no trade restrictions, and impediments to free trade are supposed to be mutually disadvantageous.

                                    But do understand, what is conserved is lower prices. Nor social stability. Not communities. Not family life. Indeed those are often disrupted; it’s part of the economic model. Under free trade theory, it’s better to have free trade than community preservation, better to have ghost towns of people displaced because their jobs have been shipped overseas; better to have Detroit as a wasteland than a thriving dynamic industrial society turning out tail finned Cadillacs and insolent chariots and supporting workers represented by rapacious unions in conflict with pitiless corporate executives.
                                    I would point out that what is commonly described as "free trade," is not free trade--at least not in the sense of free trade in the face of comparative advantages. The principle of comparative advantage can be shown with an example from history. For a fairly long period of time before the industrial age, Spain produced the best steel in Europe and, possibly, the world. Because of this, many historical swords would have blades made in Spain, after which the blades would then be exported to other countries, where pommels, grips, and guards would be added as was preferred in that particular locale. England, during the same period, was a prime producer and exporter of textiles, especially wool. Thus, free trade would dictate that the best outcome for Spain and England would be for each to produce those goods on which they had a comparative advantage (sword blades and wool textiles, respectively)  rather than for England to attempt to produce and sell sword blades and Spain to produce and sell woolen textiles. What is missing from this example is Spain or England exporting their technology and knowledge which provided them a comparative advantage to a third country (say, China), so that China could produce steel blades and textiles cheaper than either Spain or England. The latter example is what we have today: knowledge, technology and expertise being exported and destroying the United States' comparative advantage.  That is globalism, not free trade. 
                                    The Dec. 9 attack that left Bheri Werntz seriously injured was part of a month-long series of shootings, robberies, carjackings and at least one killing that authorities across Los Angeles County attribute to Artyom Gasparyan, a 32-year-old with an extensive criminal record. Police launched an around-the-clock search that ended when detectives shot and wounded Gasparyan after a wrong-way chase on the 5 Freeway in early January.
                                      Detectives have since widened their investigation into Gasparyan, linking him to at least one other homicide case, according to court records. The documents also show and that authorities missed earlier opportunities to keep him behind bars before December’s bloody rampage.

                                      Sunday, July 24, 2016

                                      Germany's Refugee Problem Gets Worse

                                      Germany saw two more attacks by refugees. Earlier today, the Daily Mail ran this headline: "Syrian refugee, 21, hacks PREGNANT woman to death with a machete and injures two others before hero BMW driver runs him over, in latest attack to shock Germany." Later in the day, a second headline: "Failed Syrian asylum seeker, 27, dies in 'deliberate' explosion at a restaurant near Nuremberg, leaving at least eleven injured and causing evacuation of music festival."

                                      Stratfor recently published an article entitled "The Dawn of a New Dark Age," in which the author lists 5 "horsemen of the Apocalypse" which he contends have been present in all major collapses of complex societies, including the fall of Rome and the Bronze Age collapse of the 18th Century B.C. They are:
                                      The first, which is always prominent, is mass migration, on a scale that the societies of the time cannot control. Just how many immigrants it took to destabilize borderlands and spread violence across entire empires must have varied, although DNA seems to suggest that in the wrong circumstances even a group less than one-tenth the size of the host population could bring the roof crashing in.
                                        The second factor, often coming on the back of the first, is disease. Long-distance mass movements sometimes merged what had previously been separate disease pools, producing new infections to which hardly anyone was immune. Steppe nomads migrating across thousands of kilometers were probably the main vector for the Black Death, which killed perhaps a quarter of the world's population between 1350 and 1400.
                                          The third force, regularly linked to the first two, is state failure. Collapsing borders and shrinking populations often bring down governments too, and as chaos spreads, even states that have not been directly hit by invasion and plague can be sucked into the whirlpool.
                                            Fourth, and strongly linked to the first three forces, is the collapse of trade. When failing states can no longer protect merchants, long-distance exchange networks break down, bringing starvation and yet more rounds of migration, disease and violence. Many historians think that the tipping point in the fall of the Roman Empire came when the Vandals invaded North Africa and cut off grain shipments to Italy from what is now Tunisia in 439. The city of Rome lost three-quarters of its population across the next two decades, and in 476 the Western Empire was officially declared defunct.
                                              The fifth factor, always present but never in a straightforward way, is climate change. Some great collapses, such as that in the Eastern Mediterranean after 1200 B.C., coincide with rising temperatures; others, such as the Roman and Han Chinese breakdowns in the early first millennium, coincide with global cooling. The direction of climate change seems to matter less than the fact that any big change puts stress on farming, which — when everything else is already going wrong — might be enough to push people over the edge.
                                              Take note that the first of the horsemen is "mass migration" into the affected nation or civilization. Since one of the basic functions of a state is to protect against invasion, I would suggest that uncontrolled mass immigration is a sign of state collapse. And it is interesting that in analyzing whether a civilization can reverse or stop a dark age, the author selected one where the key was reversing mass migration. He relates:
                                              One [example where the downward spiral was disrupted], in China after 600, is particularly informative. The empire had recently been reunited by the Sui dynasty after a dark age, but Turkic invasions from the steppes, new epidemics, civil war, trade breakdowns and global cooling threatened its recovery. In 614 the Sui government collapsed and the worst seemed about to happen; but through a clever combination of diplomacy and war, the first two emperors of a new Tang dynasty, Gaozu and Taizong, stopped the population movements completely by 650. Freed from external threats and with plagues abating, they restored law and order and revived trade. They could do nothing about climate change, but the absence of the other Horsemen reduced it to a mere nuisance. By 700 China had entered a golden age, its economy booming so much that a million people were living at Chang'an.
                                               It is also interesting to me that another example references was post-1945 Europe, which, while the author does not mention it, was marked by mass expulsion of foreign populations from many of the countries of Europe.

                                              Germany--all of Europe, really--is facing uncontrolled mass immigration. The latest figures I can find is for 2010, at which time Germany had 4.8 million Muslims, or 5.8 percent of its population. Germany had 476,000 asylum applications in 2015 alone; but it is estimated that 1.1 million immigrants entered Germany last year. In short order, Germany will cross the 10 percent threshold. This pool of immigrants mean that Germany is already seeing the first and third horsemen. The second will likely come due to the influx of refugees bringing either new diseases or antibiotic resistant versions of older diseases. And the climate is expected to cool in the 2030s.

                                              Time is running short.

                                              Friday, July 22, 2016

                                              Mini-Review: Inova XS Flashlight

                                              Inova XS Flashlight

                                              Several months ago, I strode into the local REI with my dividend certificate clutched in my hand and on a mission to find a small pocket flashlight. My impetus was a general dissatisfaction with using a flashlight app on my smart phone, and wanting something more than the tiny led flashlights that are designed to work as key-fobs.

                                              Perusing the selection of flashlights, my eye was drawn to the Inova XS flashlight due to its relatively small size as a result of using a AAA battery. The Inova XS is produced by Nite Ize. The specifications for the XS indicates that it has two power settings: high (80 lumens) and low (15 lumens). The switch is a 3-position end-cap. Twisted all its way down, it turns on the flashlight in constant mode (i.e., without the need to push on the end of the cap). Turning the cap a half turn allows use of momentary mode, where the end cap acts as a pressure switch (there is a bit of rubber coating on the back that keeps one's finger from slipping off). Turning the cap a full turn puts the flashlight in a lock mode where the light cannot be turned on accidentally--a nice feature for a flashlight carried in one's pocket, purse, or bag.

                                              When first turned on, the flashlight will default to "high" mode. To switch to "low" mode (and much greater battery life), one need only momentarily turn the light to off and then back on within 2 seconds.

                                              The flashlight is also water resistant and, since the body is made of aluminum, appears to be sturdily built. As you can see from the photograph above, the flashlight measures 2.9 inches in length, and, according to Nite Ize, weighs in at 1.1 ounces.

                                              In the high setting, the flashlight is comparable to many larger flashlights, with a good spread of light. It is certainly powerful enough for searching around outside (such as your yard or a parking lot). In fact, it actually appears to outperform my Surefire G2 in casting a beam. Although not ideally shaped for use as a tactical flashlight, it can easily be pressed into that role. Its small size, however, makes it easy to always have on your person.

                                              After carrying it most every day for several months, I have found it to be very useful. Even though I don't normally carry it in the locked mode, I have not had any problems with the battery running down. In short, I am very satisfied with it. It was retailing for $24 at the time I purchased it, and while a bit more than I originally intended on spending on a mini-flashlight, it is well worth the money. I give it two thumbs up.

                                              "MH370 Pilot Flew a Suicide Route on His Home Simulator Closely Matching Final Flight"--New York Magazine

                                              The article claims that "New York has obtained a confidential document from the Malaysian police investigation into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that shows that the plane’s captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, conducted a simulated flight deep into the remote southern Indian Ocean less than a month before the plane vanished under uncannily similar circumstances. The revelation, which Malaysia withheld from a lengthy public report on the investigation, is the strongest evidence yet that Zaharie made off with the plane in a premeditated act of mass murder-suicide."

                                              A Quick Run Around The Web -- July 22, 2016 (Updated)

                                              Just a reminder that one person's solution may not be ideal for you or someone else.

                                              Europe Burns:

                                              Other Stuff:
                                              A massive fault could trigger a cataclysmic earthquake beneath Bangladesh, parts of east India and Myanmar, new research suggests.
                                                The hidden fault, which has been buried under miles of river sediment, could release an earthquake of magnitude 8.2 to 9.0 in one of the most densely populated regions of the world, the study found. And because researchers discovered the system relatively recently, they have no estimates for when such a megaquake could occur.
                                                  Turkey’s Kurdish citizens continue to have three or four children while ethnic Turks have fewer than two. By the early 2040s, most of Turkey’s young people will come from Kurdish-speaking homes. The Kurdish-majority Southeast inevitably will break away. Erdogan’s hapless battle against the inevitable motivates the sometimes bewildering twists and turns of Turkish policy.
                                                    It is true that the promises have been over generous and that the current taxation and reserves to pay for them too little but the system is underpinned by the full financial might of the US Government. And if we’re about to worry about the solvency of that then we’ve all got much greater problems than whether pensions continue to be paid. The true point is that the Federal government has taxing rights on the entirety of the US economy. The question is not whether there’s enough they can raise from that to pay the bills due, it’s whether they’ve the political will to do so.
                                                    • State or municipal pensions may be a different story: "The Pension Vise Tightens in California"--American Interest. "Earlier this week, CalPERS—California’s pension fund for most public employees—reported abysmal annual earnings of 0.61 percent, a tiny fraction of the seven-and-a-half percent annual returns needed to keep it solvent over the long run. And its sister fund for teachers, CalSTRS, isn’t doing much better."
                                                    • Putting the guess-work back into science: "Global Temperatures Are Mostly Fake"--Real Science. The article points out that there is little temperature data from the Southern Hemisphere, so "researchers" just make it up. Also: "This date in 1934 may have been the hottest in US history. The map below shows actual temperatures, not the “heat index.” Almost two-thirds of the US was over 100F on July 21, 1934 – with temperatures of 115 in Missouri and South Dakota, and 113 in Minnesota."
                                                    • Related: "What a Cooling Antarctica Means for Climate Science"--American Interest. "... over the past two decades, our southernmost continent has actually been cooling, sending scientists scrambling for explanations and silencing the shouts of environmentalists who just twenty years ago were convinced that we’d be seeing an ice-free South pole by now."
                                                      There's a common thread weaving together all the terrorist incidents in Europe, all the murders of police officers in the USA, and all the political protest from the sometimes fringe, often violent left-wing and progressive groups in this country.  It's a fundamental determination to tear down and demolish the status quo in society by whatever means are necessary.  It's a declaration of war against the standards that have hitherto defined civilization.

                                                      Thursday, July 21, 2016

                                                      July 21, 2016 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

                                                      "The Outbreak of WWI - How Europe Spiraled Into the GREAT WAR - Week 1"--The Great War. The Great War Channel started a couple years ago and goes through World War 1 a week at a time as it played out a hundred years ago, plus has miscellaneous videos providing background to the war, specific weapons, or other special topics. I only started watching this channel a few weeks ago, so I have a lot of catching up to do, but recommend it to anyone that is a history or military aficionado. The videos on the prelude to the war are also recommended to preppers as it shows the various elements that can lead to an outbreak of war. Significant to World War I is that the Germans knew that Russia was improving its railways such that it would be able to effectively transport troops by 1915 or 1916, so Germany saw 1914 as the last year in which they could contest Russia.

                                                      • Related: "We Live In A Time Of War!"--Gabe Suarez. "You are on your own - leave the house prepared to do battle - every single day! Leave the house prepared to treat any injuries you may incur  - every single day!"
                                                      A weapon is a Copy or Duplicate and is therefore a prohibited Assault weapon if it meets one or both of the following tests and is 1) a semiautomatic rifle or handgun that was manufactured or subsequently configured with an ability to accept a detachable magazine, or 2) a semiautomatic shotgun.
                                                        1. Similarity Test: A weapon is a Copy or Duplicate if its internal functional components are substantially similar in construction and configuration to those of an Enumerated Weapon. Under this test, a weapon is a Copy or Duplicate, for example, if the operating system and firing mechanism of the weapon are based on or otherwise substantially similar to one of the Enumerated Weapons.
                                                          * * *
                                                            2. Interchangeability Test: A weapon is a Copy or Duplicate if it has a receiver that is the same as or interchangeable with the receiver of an Enumerated Weapon. A receiver will be treated as the same as or interchangeable with the receiver on an Enumerated Weapon if it includes or accepts two or more operating components that are the same as or interchangeable with those of an Enumerated Weapon. Such operating components may include, but are not limited to: 1) the trigger assembly; 2) the bolt carrier or bolt carrier group; 3) the charging handle; 4) the extractor or extractor assembly; or 5) the magazine port.
                                                              If a weapon meets one of the above tests, it is a Copy or Duplicate (and therefore a prohibited Assault weapon), even if it is marketed as “state compliant” or “Massachusetts compliant.”
                                                              There are exceptions, so read the whole thing. I wonder if this would include the Ares SCR?
                                                              • "How Do You Test Handgun Reliability?"--Shooting Illustrated. The basic points made by the author are that some guns are reliable with only a few brands or types of ammunition, while others may be reliable with virtually any ammunition in that caliber, so it is up to you test your firearm to determine which is which; and if you find that it is only reliable with certain ammunition, then it behooves you to stock up on that particular type of ammunition so you are not left having to use unknown ammunition during an ammunition shortage.
                                                              • "Red Dot Use At Close Distances"--Fleeting Survival. Some thoughts and links to a video about running a pistol with a red-dot site mounted on it.
                                                              • Check out how fast this guy is with a semi-auto AR (note: the video loops after 10 seconds or so).

                                                              Saturday, July 16, 2016

                                                              Terminal Effectiveness

                                                              Nathaniel Fitch, writing at The Firearms Blog, has been doing a series of articles on the fundamentals and some advanced concepts about firearms and ballistics. Past articles have dealt with explaining basic terms and concepts involved in ballistics, and various firearms actions. Today, however, he has published the first of a series of articles on terminal ballistics: the ballistics of what happens after the bullet has struck a target. This is a subject that has interested me. His article today is entitled "Ballistics 201: Introducing a New Way of Thinking About Terminal Effectiveness – Force, Energy, and Work."

                                                              While on the subject, you may want to read the FBI report entitled "Handgun Wounding Factors and Effectiveness" (PDF here; HTML--Part 1 and Part 2).

                                                              Friday, July 15, 2016

                                                              Survival Weapons: The SKS

                                                              SKS -- 7.62 x 39 mm Simonov SL Rifle (source)
                                                              The Simonov SL Rifle (or carbine) was designed by Sergei Gavrilovich Simonov, and is a scaled down version of a 14.5 mm anti-tank rifle he had designed in World War II. Although sources are somewhat conflicting on this point, it appears that the carbine may have seen limited use by Soviet troops toward the end of World War II. In any event, it was the first general issue weapon to use the 7.62 x 39 mm M43 cartridge: an "intermediate power" cartridge adopted by the Soviets and inspired by the German 7.92 mm Kurz. Of course, this cartridge was the standard military cartridge used by the Soviet Union and its various satellite nations and allies from the 1940s through the 1970s when it was replaced (at least in the Soviet Union) by the 5.45 x 39 mm cartridge. The 7.62 x 39 cartridge was used by the SKS's replacements: the AK47 and AKM "assault" rifles.

                                                              As you can see in the photograph above, the SKS is a rather standard rifle for the period when it was adopted, featuring a single piece wooden stock, and using substantial amount of milling in its construction. It uses a gas-piston system for operation, and employs a tilting block locking system.

                                                              According to my references, the Soviet version of the weapon has an overall length of 40.2 inches (1022 mm) and a barrel length of 20.5 inches (521 mm), and weighs 8.5 lbs (3.86 kg) unloaded. The standard sights are a post sight on the front, and tangent notch sight on the rear. The rear sight is adjustable for elevation from 100 to 1000 m, with a "battlefield" setting of 300 m. Notwithstanding the settings, this is a 300 to 400 yard rifle at best. Beyond that range, use would dictate a large number of men shooting at the same time to provide plunging or grazing fire over an area rather than attempting precision shooting. The safety is a simple lever that flips down to block the trigger from being depressed.

                                                              Although the SKS was only used for a short time by the Soviet Union, it was widely distributed and used by various allies and client states through the 1950s, and was at one time a common guerrilla weapon in the Middle-East. It was also manufactured by Yugoslavia (who designated it as the M59/66 A1 Rifle) and China (where it was known as the Type 56 carbine).

                                                              As manufactured, it featured a folding style bayonet that attached near the muzzle, and folded up below the barrel. Soviet and Yugoslavian versions of the SKS both featured blade-style bayonets. Although early Chinese versions used a bladed bayonet, the vast majority sported spike bayonets of a roughly triangular cross-section. Nevertheless, after 1994, restrictions on "assault weapons" resulted in many rifles being sold without bayonets, and many owners have removed the bayonet in order to lighten the weapon.

                                                              The overall quality of build of the rifles was pretty good when in an unissued state. Russian and Yugoslavian models are generally considered to be better made than the Chinese examples. However, even this can be variable as the Chinese weapons were manufactured in many different facilities, with differences in quality and other minor differences between them. For instance, Chinese rifles can be found with either pinned barrels or barrels that screwed into the receiver.

                                                              SKS carbines were, at one time, fairly rare in the United States, consisting mostly of "bring backs" from Vietnam. However, in the early 1990s, hundreds of thousands of these rifles were imported from China from the Norinco company. Because of the low price ($80 was not an uncommon price at the time) and rugged simplicity, these rifles became immensely popular, including with the survivalist/prepper community and hunters. After sanctions were imposed on China, the supply of Chinese carbines dried up. However, subsequent imports of carbines from the former East Bloc nations and Yugoslavia brought significant numbers of these weapons into the United States. Thus, because of the large numbers imported, they are still easy to find for sale. And, although prices have increased, they can still be had at a much lower price point than most any other semi-automatic rifle.

                                                              Loading the SKS using a charger or clip. 
                                                              The SKS employs a fixed 10-round box magazine that can be reloaded using stripper clips (chargers) or individual rounds. The magazine is hinged so it can be opened up from the bottom of the weapon to allow easy unloading.The weapon employs a bolt hold open that locks the bolt back on an empty magazine.

                                                              Loading the SKS is pretty straightforward. As you can see from the photograph above, with the magazine bolt locked back, the clip is inserted into slots on either side of the bolt. After placing the loaded clip into the slots, the operator then uses his thumb to push down on the top cartridge and presses the cartridges into the magazine. I find that it is easy to get 5 rounds in, then pause or release pressure a bit, and then push the remaining rounds into the magazine. As noted, one can also load the rifle by pressing individual cartridges into the magazine.

                                                              There are aftermarket attempts to develop detachable box magazines for the weapon. For instance, some variants imported from China were adapted so they could use a standard AK magazine. More common, however, was to remove the fixed 10-round magazine, and then use box magazines especially designed to fit and lock into the empty magazine well.

                                                              A couple styles of detachable magazines for the SKS.
                                                              The photograph above shows a couple styles of detachable magazines for the SKS. The top is a metal magazine from an unknown manufacturer, while the lower one is a polymer model produced by Tapco. While the Tapco magazine offers a clear improvement over the versions from earlier manufactures, there are problems with using these styles of magazine. First, the magazines require careful placement to lock the front into place, as it has to fit over the hinge for the old magazine, before locking into place. Second, because of having to accommodate the bolt and feed design, the front and back of the magazines are cut low, making it very easy for the top cartridge to slide forward or backward out of alignment. (See the photographs below).

                                                              Although the Tapco magazine is superior to other manufacturer's, it is still possible to easily have a cartridge slide forward.

                                                              In this magazine, the cartridge has slid to the rear, and would prevent insertion of the magazine.
                                                              There are several common improvements made to the SKS. First, although certainly sturdy, the original wood stock is rather blocky and, consequently, is not very ergonomic. Thus, a lot of people choose to replace the stock. Various manufacturers have offered Monte Carlo or other fixed stocks appropriate for hunting, and I've even seen bullpup stocks sold for the SKS. Tapco also offers their Intrafuse stock featuring a SAW style pistol grip, and an AR style adjustable rear stock. It is currently priced between $80 and $85 depending on the specific features and configurations. Accessories can be purchased for this stock, including Picatinny rails.

                                                              Standard Rear Sight
                                                              Another common improvement is to replace the rear sight. As noted above, the standard rear sight is a simple notch tangent sight, which uses a very small notch. There are numerous options for replacing the rear sight, including a very nice system manufactured by Tech Sights.

                                                              Tech Sight Model TS100 peep style sight
                                                              It is also possible to find mounts and rails for attaching a scope or red dot to the weapon.

                                                              In this age of fairly inexpensive AR and AK variants, it begs the question of why purchase or use an SKS rifle. As mentioned, the biggest plus is cost. When imported in large numbers, the prices were very low--particularly for a rifle that was suitable for both combat and hunting applications. (That was certainly the primary reason I first purchased one in the early 1990s). Even today, although prices have increased, they are still well below that for AR and AK rifles. In their original configuration, they are also rather benign looking (at least with the bayonet removed) and may not be banned under restrictive "assault weapon" laws. Finally, clips are plentiful, cheap, and it is practicable to keep one's ammunition pre-loaded on the clips; and while slower than a detachable magazine, it is still much faster to load the SKS than a rifle that has to be loaded one round at a time.

                                                              There are disadvantages to the weapon, as well. Considering the power of the cartridge, the weapon is overly heavy. It has a limited magazine capacity and, even using clips, is slower to load. Although there are many accessories available, it is not easy to modify the weapon to use optical sights or mount flashlights or other accessories without relatively costly changes to the stock. It is nowhere as ergonomic as the AR or even the AK. Its long barrel makes it harder to move around in a building or other enclosed space.

                                                              If you have the money, I would certainly recommend an AK or AR rifle over the SKS. But cost is the key. I see the SKS as an inexpensive "starter" rifle for a prepper. As such, I think it is a mistake to spend much to improve the rifle or convert it into something it is not. It is perfectly serviceable in its original configuration. If I had one in its original configuration, I would keep the original wooden stock and bayonet (yes, given the limited magazine capacity, a bayonet could prove useful). But if lacking the bayonet, I don't think it is worth getting a replacement. If I were to make any upgrades, it would be to replace the rear sight. I don't think it is worth the money to add an optical sight, and a telescopic sight, unless a scout type scope, would interfere with loading using the clips. I would retain the original fixed magazine, and avoid the detachable magazines. If you have no plans of upgrading to an AK or AR rifle, it might be worth replacing the stock if the replacement is of sufficiently low cost. Otherwise, I would recommend keeping the wood stock. The rifle is worth more in its original configuration (original stock, original sights, etc.) than if it is modified--something to keep in mind if your goal is to eventually sell the rifle in order to upgrade to something better.

                                                              I have found the SKS to be a very reliable weapon, able to shoot all types and brands of ammunition. I have noted in other posts that the 7.62 x 39 mm FMJ round is a very stable round and, for that reason, not particularly good against a flesh-and-blood target. It will turn 180 degrees (the heavy end leading) after striking a target, but otherwise does not create a large wound channel. Thus, for hunting, and even for self-defense purposes, I would recommend getting soft-point or hollow-point ammunition that will expand or upset the bullet when striking the target, and save the FMJ for penetration against a barrier. The price difference between soft-point or hollow-point versus FMJ is generally so small that there is really no great advantage to buying FMJ even for practice.

                                                              To sum up, the SKS rifle has limitations that prevent it from being a great self-defense rifle. Nevertheless, it was built and designed for combat and, while at a disadvantage compared to more modern rifles, it is still functional in that role. Its primary positive point is its low price. Because of this, it should be kept in its original configuration rather than investing in improvements of dubious value. The only real change of any value would be to obtain a better quality rear sight.

                                                              Docent's Memo (May 16, 2022)

                                                              VIDEO: " S&W J Frame Trigger Spring Kit Install " (10 min.) If you want to lighten the trigger pull on a J-frame, this video s...