- TGIF: Active Response Training's "Weekend Knowledge Dump."
- "Press-Out vs. Index: Which Quick-Draw Tactic Works Best?"--Massad Ayoob at Tactical Life. This article has to do with two methods of presenting your handgun for firing. The press-out method involves drawing the gun and then bringing it straight up (barrel pointed forward) until you are ready to extend your arms. This is the method that Ayoob recommends for newbies and for close quarters. The second method is to draw and then push out at the same time that you are bringing the weapon up to the level to aim. This method is slightly faster, but assumes that you will have the muscle memory to bring the firearm up to the correct height. Although Ayoob doesn't mention this, one of the advantages to the Press-Out over the Index method is that you are less likely in the stress or excitement of the situation to fire the weapon before the weapon is properly sighted in, than the Index method.
- "Why a knife?"--The Gun Writer. The author lists various reasons for carrying a knife as an everyday tool and for a backup self-defense weapon (although he also notes some disadvantages to knives, the biggest being that you have to be at contact distances):
- "A knife is easy to use, efficient for a variety of self-defense uses, has multiple uses, is socially acceptable and is relatively inexpensive."
- Using a knife is fairly intuitive, and it "takes a minimal level of training for a knife to become useful as a self-defense tool."
- The author contends that it can produce a wound channel that is as good or better than a handgun (although IMHO this is somewhat debatable due to general shallowness of the wounds, particularly if using a shorter folding knife).
- "A knife can be used in situations where the use of a firearm isn’t prudent, in a crowd for instance where over-penetration and innocent bystanders may be a concern."
- Disarming someone with a knife is more difficult than disarming someone armed with a firearm.
- "Velocity is great, but mass penetrates."--Ballistics By The Inch. I've posted before about velocity and muzzle energy of popular handgun calibers. Greg Ellifritz has noted, however, that muzzle energy is not the same as stopping power, but bullet construction and shot placement are also very important (the last probably being the single greatest factor). This is because a low mass, but very high velocity round, may have greater energy at the muzzle than a heavier bullet fired a lower velocity; conversely, a very heavy bullet may have high muzzle energy even if fired at rather nominal velocities. However, outside of the extremes, it can be one of several useful metrics for attempting to predict the effectiveness of the round because it takes into account both velocity and the mass of the bullet.
Velocity is important because hollowpoint bullets popular for self-defense require minimum velocities in order to effectively expand. Generally, the rule of thumb is 1200 fps, but with improved bullet designs, the velocity has been pushed lower.
However, the author of the article cited above notes that "while Muzzle Energy gives you a good way to compare the power and potential effectiveness of a given cartridge as a self-defense round, there are a couple of other factors to consider. A couple of VERY important factors." And of those, discussed in the article, is penetration, which is largely a consequence of the construction and design of the bullet, and the bullet mass and the related cross-section density. "Simply put, a bullet with a large cross-section and high mass will penetrate more than a bullet with the same cross-section but low mass moving at the same speed."
A good example of this in practice is an article entitled "Safety In Bear Country: Protective Measures and Bullet Performance at Short Range," (PDF) published by U.S. Forest Service. The article concerns itself with testing the performance of various rifle and handgun rounds for defense against a brown bear. Obviously, the African big game calibers generally performed better than smaller calibers generally used by hunters in North America. However, the article did note that a .30-06 using 220 grain bullets would also be acceptable, but not one shooting 180 grain bullets--because of issues of penetration. For another good discussion of bullet penetration and the interplay between velocity, mass, and design of the bullet (specifically on bullets suitable for hunting large African game species), see "A New Concept in Deep Penetration of Solid Rifle Bullets in Large Animals" (PDF).
- "Doomsday planning for less crazy folk"--Core Dump.
- "When Did We Become so Afraid?"--Radical Survivalism. An article encouraging us to use fear as a motivator rather than something that freezes us up and prevents us from living full lives.
- "Federal Reserve Police to Use LaserMax Guide Rod Lasers"--Tactical Life. I didn't even know that the Federal Reserve had its own police. I wonder how that works since, technically, the Federal Reserve is a private entity.
- A terrorist plows a truck through a Christmas market in Germany, and the EU's response? "EU agrees new gun rules in face of terrorism"--DW. Because civilian are not vulnerable enough?
- "The New York Times’ Fictitious Image of Gun Carriers"--Thomas Sowell at The National Review. He observes: "Liberals imagine that law-abiding citizens do not have any idea how to use a gun responsibly — and that criminals will start following rules."
- "House Report: Hezbollah Trafficking Drugs ‘Virtually Unopposed’ in Latin America"--Breitbart. This intersection between international terrorist organizations and the Latin America drug cartels is going to turn out badly for the rest of us.
- Evolution in action: "California's birthrate falls to its lowest level on record"--Los Angeles Times.
- Some different views on handling the Middle-East and the violence:
- "Putin Vows Revenge"--Anonymous Conservative. The author writes: "If you look at middle eastern brains as programmed by evolution to exhibit strong kin-selection effects due to extensive inbreeding/cousin-marriage, killing the entire clan of a suicide attacker is the only stimulus which would have any potential to alter their behavior, given their brain programming."
- "Persuasion and ISIS"--Scott Adams. He writes:
So what would Trump, the Master Persuader, do in a situation in which pacing and leading are not available as tools? I think he would look to the physical environment for his persuasion. ... Look for the Master Persuader to change something large and physical in their environment that they can’t ignore. That’s the persuasion play in disguise.
And guess what? Trump has been telling you his persuasion play against ISIS for over a year. You didn’t recognize it because it is disguised as something else.
... I called my idea for a persuasion play against ISIS a “filter fence.” Trump calls his persuasion play “safe zones.” Same thing.
... Safe zones would be a big deal to the psychology of the region. It would give hope to the innocent. It would give ISIS a new thing to worry about. It would be large and physical and influence lots of things around it. But most of all – and this is the important part – it creates a mental categorization that has in one bucket the people who are in the safe zone and in the other bucket the people who are not. And the people inside will probably mostly be women and children – also known as the future of ISIS.
The long term persuasion play is to slowly drain ISIS of any illusion that someday they will be happily making love to their multiple wives while their many children are studying the holy scriptures. You ruin that illusion by putting the women and children from ISIS territory in the safe zone, unavailable to the adult men of ISIS now or later. Once ISIS has been reduced to nothing but horny, angry men with no biological future, they will turn on each other because all of that energy has to go somewhere. Here I’m assuming the border countries have their own walls to keep ISIS in. That’s happening as we speak.
... When ISIS sees their biological future escaping to safe zones it will leave them with nothing. Their caliphate will become a jail.
Once you have the safe zones up and running then you also have to do something about the drug that ISIS gives their fighters. It’s called Captagon, or in some cases it might be meth by another name. Apparently that’s the secret ingredient to their violent ways. The persuasion play in this case is to create mountains of counterfeit Captagon pills with either too-weak, too-strong, or different chemistry. You want ISIS to no longer trust their drug sources. That will get in their heads too.
- "When the Ghost of Christmas Future is Cardinal Richelieu"--David P. Goldman. (This is a re-post of an article he wrote in 2012 on what to do about the war in Syria). From the piece:
"Everyone is killing each other in Syria and some other places in the region, and the conflict might spread. What should we do about it?"
"How much does this cost you?"
"Nothing at all," I answered.
"Then let them kill each other as long as possible, which is to say for 30 years or so. Do you know," the ghastly Cardinal continued, "why really interesting wars last for 30 years? That has been true from the Peloponnesian War to my own century. First you kill the fathers, then you kill their sons. There aren't usually enough men left for a third iteration."
"We can't go around saying that," I remonstrated.
"I didn't say it, either," Richelieu replied. "But I managed to reduce the population of the German Empire by half in the space of a generation and make France the dominant land power in Europe for two centuries.
"Isn't there some way to stabilize these countries?" I asked.
Richelieu looked at me with what might have been contempt. "It is a simple exercise in logique. You had two Ba'athist states, one in Iraq and one in Syria. Both were ruled by minorities. The Assad family came from the Alawite minority Syria and oppressed the Sunnis, while Saddam Hussein came from the Sunni minority in Iraq and oppressed the Shi'ites.
It is a matter of calculation - what today you would call game theory. If you compose a state from antagonistic elements to begin with, the rulers must come from one of the minorities. All the minorities will then feel safe, and the majority knows that there is a limit to how badly a minority can oppress a majority. That is why the Ba'ath Party regimes in Iraq and Syria - tyrannies founded on the same principle - were mirror images of each other."
"What happens if the majority rules?," I asked.
"The moment you introduce majority rule in the tribal world," the cardinal replied, "you destroy the natural equilibrium of oppression.
"The minorities have no recourse but to fight, perhaps to the death. In the case of Iraq, the presence of oil mitigates the problem.
The Shi'ites have the oil, but the Sunnis want some of the revenue, and it is easier for the Shi'ites to share the revenue than to kill the Sunnis. On the other hand, the problem is exacerbated by the presence of an aggressive neighbor who also wants the oil."
"So civil war is more likely because of Iran?"
"Yes," said the shade, "and not only in Iraq. Without support from Iran, the Syrian Alawites - barely an eighth of the people - could not hope to crush the Sunnis. Iran will back Assad and the Alawites until the end, because if the Sunnis come to power in Syria, it will make it harder for Iran to suppress the Sunnis in Iraq. As I said, it is a matter of simple logic. Next time you visit, bring a second bottle of Petrus, and my friend Descartes will draw a diagram for you."
"So the best thing we can do to stabilize the region is to neutralize Iran?"
"Bingeaux!" Richelieu replied.
"But there are people in the United States, like the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who say that attacking Iran would destabilize everything!"
"Such fools would not have lasted a week in my service," the cardinal sniffed. "Again, it is a matter of simple logic. If Iran's capacity to build nuclear weapons is removed by force, upon whom shall it avenge itself? No doubt its irregulars in Lebanon will shoot some missiles at Israel, but not so many as to provoke the Israelis to destroy Hezbollah. Iran might undertake acts of terrorism, but at the risk of fierce reprisals. Without nuclear weapons, Iran becomes a declining power with obsolete weapons and an indifferent conscript army."
Richelieu's shade already had lost some color. "What should the United States do in Syria?" I asked.
"As little as possible," he replied. "Some anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles from Gaddafi's stockpiles, enough to encourage the opposition and prevent Assad from crushing them, and without making it obvious who sent them."
"And what will become of Syria?"
The cardinal said sourly, "The same thing will happen to the present occupants of Syria that happened to the previous occupants: the Assyrians, and the Seleucids, and the Byzantines before them. You seem to think the Syrians are at existential risk because they are fighting to the death. On the contrary: they are fighting to the death because they were at existential risk before the first shot was fired. They have no oil. They do not even have water. They manufacture nothing. They cling to ancient hatred as a drowning man grasps a stone."
Of course, for any of these solutions to work, you have to keep the Syrians (or whatever group) out of the West. The Anonymous Conservative's suggestions won't work if half of the clan resides in Dearborn, Michigan. The concept of Safe Zones does not work if ISIS has its own safe zones in Berlin. And isolating the problem as suggested by Goldman does not work if there are large expatriate populations to spread the conflict beyond Syria.(Updated: correction and clarification as to Greg Ellifritz's comments regarding muzzle energy; added link)