I hope all of you had a good and happy Christmas. On to the round-up of news and topics:
- First and foremost, if you haven't already gotten around to it, Ol' Remus has a new Woodpile Report for this week. One of the links that caught my attention was one to this post, "Reaction 101: Priests and Warriors," at Jim's Blog. Remus quoted the following bit:
From the time we defeated the Mongol hordes in Hungary in 1241, to our defeat in Afghanistan in 1840, the west was uniformly victorious for six centuries. Since then, since 1841 we have been suffering defeats by ever weaker enemies.. The writing on the wall is that the west is ripe for conquest, like a wealthy elderly widow in a neighborhood that has turned bad. Not so much conquest by a major power like China, but rather a dark age collapse, when ever changing minor actors engage in mobile banditry – closer to the New Year rape festival in Cologne than D Day. Since our current State religion is headed towards suicide and mass murder, we are going to need a replacement, assuming we survive at all.
Note well that the dark age collapse of Rome was the quintessential example of the collapse of a society due to over complexity in Tainter's The Collapse of Complex Societies.
- Related: Speaking of the decline of empire: "Hawaii Says LEOSA Doesn’t Apply in the State, Bans Carry by Out-of-State Cops"--The Truth About Guns. The Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act (LEOSA) is a federal law that allows currently sworn or retired law enforcement officers to carry nationwide even if the a particular state or territory would otherwise not allow it. Apparently, Hawaii is asserting that you are not a LEO unless you are acting in performance of your duties. The point of contention seems to be a portion of the definition of LEO which requires that the officer "is authorized by law to engage in or supervise the prevention, detection, investigation, or prosecution of, or the incarceration of any person for, any violation of law, and has statutory powers of arrest or apprehension under section 807(b) of title 10, United States Code (article 7(b) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice)" 18 U.S.C. § 926B(c)(1).
- "Gunshot Residue and Personal Carry Ammunition"--Sensible Self Defense. The author discusses a case in which gunshot residue was key evidence in obtaining a conviction, and notes that the defendant was not permitted to present evidence of what residue would be produced (or not produced) from his ammunition because it was hand-loaded rather than factory-loaded. The author explained:
However, ballistics testing on the ammunition Lise Bias’s wounds could not be run because the ammunition in the pistol that killed Lise Bias was ammunition that Daniel Bias had reloaded. As a result, there was no way of knowing if the cartridges were all the same reloads or not and therefore they could not be relied upon for gunshot residue (GSR) testing.
* * *
With reloaded ammunition, the forensic examiner cannot verify distances because there is no un-biased sample to measure it against. The accused has literally manufactured the evidence; therefore, judge is unlikely to admit the reloaded ammunition as an exhibit in the trial.
The author goes on to discuss powder residue at different distances, as well as photographs of exemplars. He then returns to the original subject of his post and recommends:
What can we learn from this? GSR distance testing is often done with exemplar ammunition or ammunition that is identical to what was in your pistol. This is the primary reason to carry factory ammunition for personal defense. When you purchase this ammunition, try to buy several boxes from the same lot. Write the date you entered the ammunition into service on the box. Load all of your carry magazines with the same ammunition from the same box—do not mix ammunition lots or brands in your carry magazines.
After you load your magazines for carry, save at least five rounds in the box. If you find yourself in a short range defensive situation, the forensics examiner can use the ammunition sample from the lot that you have saved to verify distances with powder testing. If the prosecution objects to this, your attorney can request an independent sample from the manufacturer. Large ammunition makers keep samples for each lot for exemplar testing for 10 years. This is why keeping the box intact with the lot numbers is important.
- "Preppers How Much Food is Enough? (Estimates Based on Historical Events)"--M.D. Creekmore (h/t Woodpile Report). The author notes:
Most periods of food shortage since the year 1900 lasted only 1-2 years while some of them lasted 3-4 years. Not very many of them lasted five years or more, but there were a few times in the last century when a food shortage crisis lasted a full decade.
In Russia, there were several factors which caused a prolonged period of food shortages which killed millions of people. One of those factors was war, both WWI (1914) and the Russian Revolution (1918-1920). During Russia’s civil war, opposing groups lived off the land while also stealing food from the farmers who grew it.
That food was distributed among allied friends and denied to enemy neighbors. A drought in 1921 only made food more scarce for everyone, including farmers who would often consume seed grain rather than plant it.
Despite relief efforts, the famine was still widespread in 1923. Overall, the people were desperate (to various degrees) for food for almost an entire decade. This famine is considered to be one of the worst in Russian history.
The worst period of famine in Cambodia occurred between 1970-1979, also a full decade. Civil war, brutal policies of the Khmer Rouge regime, and invasion by Vietnam all contributed to prolonging this time of food shortage which killed upwards of two million people.
Also in the last century, the world saw a period of food scarcity during the Great Depression which began in 1929. High unemployment with a poor national economy kept many citizens in a rut of financial depression, especially those who lived in the southern U.S. “Dust Bowl” states.
Food of various quantities and qualities was still available, but many couldn’t afford it and millions starved to death. Some regions recovered more quickly than others, but overall this economic depression lasted a full decade. So far as American history is concerned, the Great Depression is considered to be one of the darkest moments of the last 100 years.
He then discusses the types of food available to you at different points (assuming you had enough food storage to last you) and makes some suggestions. The basic point, however, is that you will probably have gone through all your canned goods within the first year or two, and will have to fall back on long term items such as beans, rice, or wheat. I would note that it is important to supplement your food with fresh items, and so you might want to consider using sprouts.
- "Concealed Carry Corner: Pros & Cons of Consistent Open Carry"--The Firearm Blog. The author specifically mentions items such as if you open carry, you automatically become a "firearms ambassador," and people will judge firearms owners based on what they observe or you. The author also notes that you will come across those that object to your carrying and may even contact authorities--be prepared to deal with law enforcement. He raises the point that you need to be aware that there will be people that want to touch your gun, or even see if they can get it from you. Finally, the author suggests that an openly carried gun is not as protected from the elements as a concealed carry gun, so you may need to clean it more often.
Herschel Smith, at The Captain's Journal, and others are big proponents of open carry. While I believe that people in all states should have the right to open carry, and be able to exercise the right without harassment from law enforcement, I also believe that it is a poor practice from a defensive point of view. The author of the foregoing piece touched upon a few of those problems: people wanting to touch or even take your firearm, people "freaking out" and calling police, and so on. As I've discussed before, the biggest issue I see with open carry is that you will almost automatically be drawn into any criminal event around you even if you didn't want to become involved.
- "Knowing What Gunfire Sounds Like"--LDS Gunsite.
From the author:
Even if you have fired a weapon many times, you should recognize that guns fired indoors sound different than guns fired outside. Go visit an indoor shooting range. The muffled sounds that you can hear from outside (or from the front room outside the range) are most similar to the sounds of gunfire inside a building. Learn to recognize them. You don’t have to even shoot but listen. You will need hearing protection but remove it for a few shots. Make sure you are not right next to the gun that is firing because you don’t want to damage your hearing. But to hear real shots fired in a building is important to experience.
Update (Dec. 27, 2018): I've been informed that the LDS Gunsite author quoted the passage set out above from an article by Greg Ellifritz, but without attribution. Ellifritz's article is "Recognizing the Sound of Gunfire" and I would recommend that readers go to Ellifritz's article to learn more on this topic. Writing is hard work and can take a long time. Even the quick summaries I put together take a not-insignificant amount of time. So I appreciate the effort that Greg must put into the articles he publishes each week.
To my LDS readers, the Church has provided directions on the use of copyrighted materials. See, e.g., "Copyright Guidelines" and "A Conversation about Using Copyrighted Materials at Home and Church."
- The color of crime: "Sadiq Khan calls for overhaul of Scotland Yard's gang matrix as 4 in 5 names on it are shown to be black"--Evening Standard. Per the article, "City Hall found that of the 3,200 names listed on the database, three quarters are under the age of 25 and four-in-five are black." The problem, according to the article, was that it was alienating minority communities.
- "Turkey masses tanks on the Syrian border as Erdogan 'prepares to move against the Kurds' after the US leaves - while outgoing Secretary of Defense James Mattis thanks troops for their service"--Daily Mail.
- "Mattis Marks End of the Global War on Terror"--Peter Van Buren at The American Conservative. He observes: "Jim Mattis’s resignation as defense secretary (and on Sunday, Brett McGurk, as special envoy to the coalition fighting ISIS) and Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria and Afghanistan are indeed significant. But that’s because they mark the beginning of the end of the Global War on Terror (GWOT), the singular, tragic, bloody driver of American foreign policy for almost two decades."
- "Iraq officially makes Christmas Day a national holiday"--CNN. This notwithstanding that the number of Christians in the country fell from an estimated 1.4 million before the U.S. led invasion to around 300,000 today.
- This is nice: "Trump takes NORAD calls from children who want to find Santa Claus." Melania Trump also took calls.
- More winning: "China’s legislature takes up law to ban forced tech transfer"--Seattle Times. Per the article:
China’s legislature is considering a law to ban local governments from forcing foreign companies to hand over technology, an issue that helped to spark Washington’s tariff war with Beijing.
Beijing rejects complaints companies are required to trade technology for market access. But officials including Premier Li Keqiang promised this year to crack down as tensions with Washington heated up.
A proposed foreign investment law taken up Sunday by the legislature would make clear officials cannot “force the transfer of technology” as a condition of ventures, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
Probably too little, too late, but at least this Administration is trying to address the issue of "Chinese innovation" unlike the last several presidents.
- Anonymous Conservative cites a couple of articles indicating that Pres. Trump has authorized construction of 115 miles of wall in Texas and a contract for an additional 30 miles has been awarded to a company in California.
- "Dan Hannan: Falling IQ scores may explain why politics has turned so nasty"--Washington Examiner. Hannan notes that in the 1980's, only 15% of the population "hated" the opposing political party. Now it is close to 50%. He posits that the change was caused by declining I.Q. Writes Hannan: "The fall in IQ scores in the West is perhaps the most under-reported story of our era. For most of the twentieth century, IQ rose by around three points per decade globally, probably because of better nutrition. But that trend has recently gone into reverse in developed countries." Hannan briefly mentions some theories as to the reversal, but concludes that it must be environmental and suggests that it is because of the rise of popularity of electronic media.
Hannan must also be suffering from too much screen time as his hypothesis has holes large enough to accommodate a semi-tractor. The first is that he offers only the loosest correlation between increasing hatred and declining I.Q., and absolutely no evidence of causation. At a minimum, if his hypothesis was true, we should see more antagonism the further back we look in history. For instance, the antagonism between the two political parties should have been greater in the 1940s than in the 1950s, and greater in the 1950s than in the 1960s. But that isn't the case.
And, while he at least mentions various hypotheses as to why average I.Q. would be declining, he makes no such effort as to the political divide. It couldn't have anything to do with the fact that the Left has moved so far Left that a moderate position from even a decade ago, such as on issues of border security or gay marriage, would now be considered tantamount to being a Nazi, could it?
I also have my doubts about his "screen time" hypothesis because, if true, we should have seen the decline begin with the wide adoption of television. If average IQs are declining, I suspect that Vox Day has correctly identified at least one factor: "given the way in which the most intelligent women are disinclined to reproduce, it should be obvious that intelligence is no more intrinsically advantageous to survival than size." In fact, this trend of intelligent women forgoing family formation is so widespread across the globe that it even has its own term: waithood. In essence, "people, especially women, are pursuing educational opportunities around the world and delaying marriage and parenting in a kind of intentional pattern." If you have seen the beginning of the movie Idiocracy, you will be familiar with the concept. It doesn't help that the modern, liberated woman has more sympathy and attraction for a rapist or murderer than an incel.
- Do you want to know why the elites are so opposed to controlling immigration? "Billionaire Class Enjoys 15X the Wage Growth of American Working Class"--Breitbart. For more on this, see my review of Peter Turchin's book, Ages of Discord.
- "Terrifying moment Mexican hitmen film themselves ambushing and shooting dead FOUR police officers with machine guns"--The Daily Mail. Actually, assault rifles (mostly AKs). I don't think that they got those from American gun stores.
- True. "Pot Addicts Are Okay But Legitimate Chronic Pain Sufferers In Need of Opioids? Not So Much."--Intellectual Conservative. The author writes:
The reality, according to the National Pain Report, is “America’s so-called ‘opioid epidemic’ is caused by street drugs (some of them diverted prescription drugs) rather than by prescriptions made by doctors to chronic pain patients.” More people die from illegal opioids than prescription opioids. Opioid prescriptions were already decreasing before the crackdown started. In Arizona, prescriptions decreasedevery year since 2013, a 10 percent decrease total.
And just because a few doctors overprescribed opioids does not mean everyone should be treated like a dangerous addict at risk of overdosing. One size does not fit all. Someone who has been taking a higher dosage of prescription opioids for years without incident should be allowed to continue.
Over 11 percent of the population suffersfrom chronic pain. It is cruel and bad medical science to prevent this segment from the population from getting the only relief that works for many of them. The laws need to be changed to allow those legitimately suffering to access adequate amounts of prescription opioids, without risk to their doctor or pharmacist. It makes no sense as we’re relaxing the laws prohibiting marijuana.
- "Trevor Burrus column: How drug prohibition created the fentanyl crisis"--Richmond Times-Dispatch. From the article:
Everyone knows that prohibition means drugs will often be adulterated, but prohibition also makes drugs stronger. Before alcohol Prohibition, beer and wine were the most popular drinks. After Prohibition, however, the cost of beer increased by more than 700 percent while the cost of high-potency spirits increased by only 270 percent. Smugglers and bootleggers preferred high-potency spirits because they are easier to transport illicitly. Consequently, distilled alcohol and fortified wines became almost 90 percent of alcohol consumption after Prohibition, compared to 40 percent before.
This is known as the iron law of prohibition. When drug traffickers fear getting caught, they prefer the highest potency version of a drug. During alcohol Prohibition, speakeasies were essentially bars that only served Everclear, but that didn’t mean Everclear was actually the most in demand. And, sure enough, after Prohibition ended, people quickly returned to low-potency beer and wine.
The introduction of fentanyl to our drug markets demonstrates the iron law of prohibition at its most dangerous. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin, and it’s significantly more dangerous than traditional poisons like arsenic. A lethal dose of fentanyl is between 2 and 3 milligrams, compared to 100-300 milligrams for arsenic. There are 300-500 lethal doses in just one gram of fentanyl.
That potency is useful for drug smugglers but dangerous to users. Fentanyl’s potency means hundreds of doses can be smuggled in the tiniest crevices of envelopes, packages, and shipping containers, and neither sufficient manpower nor adequate technology exists to stop it. As can be seen in the NVSS report, fentanyl began flooding the drug market in about 2014. In 2011, oxycodone was the No. 1 killer with 5,587 deaths. Fentanyl was 10th with 1,662. Then the government started cracking down on prescription opioids, and people started dying of fentanyl overdoses in shockingly large numbers. By 2014, fentanyl killed 4,223, which moved it into fifth place, but just two years later it was No. 1, with an astounding 18,335 deaths in 2016. In 2017, there were 28,466 deaths from fentanyl or similar synthetic opioids.
The "iron law" applies today. When colleges began to crack down on drinking and prohibiting alcohol on campus, students switched from drinking beer during the week, to bing drinking hard liquor on the weekends.
- Speaking of government incompetence, this article from City Journal reports that Seattle spends more than $1 billion fighting homelessness each year, or nearly $100,000 per homeless person in Seattle. The money quote:
When I spoke with Eleanor Owen, one of the original cofounders of DESC [the Downtown Emergency Service Center], she explained that the organization’s mission has shifted over the years from helping the homeless to securing government contracts, maintaining a $112 million real-estate portfolio, and paying a staff of nearly 900. “It’s disgraceful,” she said. “When we started, we kept our costs low and helped people get back on their feet. Now the question is: How can I collect another city contract? How can I collect more Medicaid dollars? How can I collect more federal matching funds? It’s more important to keep the staff paid than to actually help the poor become self-sufficient.”
The author refers to DESC and other homelessness organizations as "the city’s homeless-industrial complex."
- "The Long March of Socialism – Do Not Keep Faith"--The Declination. The author discusses Leftists and socialism in the context of game theory. First, he explains, "In the first round, you ought to Keep Faith, in the hopes that your opponent will do likewise, and you may both benefit. If this fails, you should Betray in the next round, to teach the other a lesson, and to avoid being a sucker." But:
Socialists reset the game with each transaction, however. The moral trick of the political Left is to consider every action in a moral vacuum. Keep Faith this time, the Leftist says. And when the betrayal happens, ignore it and reset the game. Keep Faith again, and again, and again… until they march into your headquarters and finally tell it to you straight: “There is no question of your transferring power. Your power has crumbled. You cannot give up what you do not have.”
By doing this, Socialists will win any moral argument. If, for instance, they provide a picture of a poor Syrian child, and say “how could you possibly turn away this poor innocent child,” hordes of people will lose their resolve and agree to allowing millions of migrants to go wherever they please without resistance. The Syrian child doesn’t exist in a moral vacuum. You’ve been betrayed, and the Left reset the game again. Same with illegal immigration in the United States. In debates with Leftists, I have seen them refer to the conditions illegals in our custody live in as worse than Nazi concentration camps. Who believes this? And yet they will defend the point with a thousand rationalizations, and then demand we Keep Faith again because clearly we’re horrible, and the poor innocent kids need us to keep the faith.
If we do, another few million will cross the border. They hit Betray, just as they did to Reagan after amnesty. Again and again.
Betrayal is the natural default for the Left, in any event, because they are r-selected.
- "‘Evidence’ Supports Story of Wise Men Who Visited Baby Jesus, Scholar Says"--Breitbart. From the article:
Longenecker has even advanced a theory as to the identity of the visitors known as the “wise men.”
“I believe they were diplomats from the court of Herod the Great’s neighbor, the Nabatean King Aretas IV,” he told Breitbart. “As stargazing counselors to the king they ascertained that a new King of the Jews was born and they concluded that it must be a grandson or great grandson of Herod the Great.”
Aretas “had every motivation to send a retinue to travel to Jerusalem to honor the new heir to the aging Herod’s throne,” he said, and “it makes perfect sense for these magi to have completed their journey in such a way that Matthew’s account is simple, factual and historical.”