Thursday, April 30, 2020

"Gargantuan" Hail

The Daily Mail reports that a Storm over Villa Carlos Paz, Argentina, in 2018 produced a hail stone measuring 9.3 inches, and is the largest confirmed hail stone to date. This is not to say that all, or even a substantial amount of the hail from that storm were that large, as this appeared to be an outlier. The article reports:
      'It's incredible – this is the extreme upper end of what you'd expect from hail,' said Matthew Kumjian, associate professor at Penn State University in the US. 

     'Such a well-observed case is an important step forward in understanding environments and storms that produce gargantuan hail, and ultimately how to anticipate and detect such extreme events. 
The article also quotes Kumjian as saying: "'Anything larger than about a quarter of that in size can start putting dents into your car – in some rare cases, six-inch hail has actually gone through roofs and multiple floors in houses." The article goes on to discuss other large hail stones, some unconfirmed, that have been reported or captured on video. Although the article doesn't provide the weight of this particular stone, it related that "there is a report of a hailstone in Bangladesh in 1986 that was recorded to have a mass of 1.02 kg," a world record.

     Large hail can be deadly. I was reminded of this finding, reported in 2004 in the Telegraph, of a group possibly as large as 600 people that were killed by a sudden hail storm in the Himalayas. From the article:
      For 60 years the skeletal remains of more than 200 people, discovered in 1942 close to the glacial Roopkund Lake in the remote Himalayan Gahrwal region, have puzzled historians, scientists and archaeologists. Were they soldiers killed in battle, royal pilgrims who lost their way and succumbed to hypothermia, or Tibetan traders who died of a mysterious illness?

      Now, the first forensic investigation of one of the area's most enduring mysteries has concluded that hundreds of nomads - whose frozen corpses are being disgorged from ice high in the mountain - were killed by one of the most lethal hailstorms in history.

      Scientists commissioned by the National Geographic television channel to examine the corpses have discovered that they date from the 9th century - and believe that they died from sharp blows to their skulls, almost certainly by giant hailstones. "We were amazed by what we found," said Dr Pramod Joglekar, a bio-archaeologist at Deccan College, Pune, who was among the team who visited the site 16,500ft above sea level.
The article also reports:
      According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the heaviest hailstones on record weighed up to 2.2lb and killed 92 people in Bangladesh in 1986.

      The National Geographic team believes that those who died at Roopkund were caught in a similar hailstorm from which they were unable to find cover. The balls of ice would have been falling at more than 100mph, killing some victims instantly. Others would have fallen, stunned and injured, and died soon afterwards of hypothermia.
Radiocarbon dating put the deaths of the group in the Himalayas as being in 850 A.D.

      These size stones are nothing compared to what we will see after the opening of the 7th Seal. Revelation 16:21 states: "And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great." The weight of a talent varies between different civilizations and time periods. However, The Encyclopedia Britannica states that "[t]he Hebrew talent, or kikkār, probably of Babylonian origin, was the basic unit of weight among the ancient Hebrews. In the sacred system of weights, the Talmudic talent was equal to 60 Talmudic minas." It also indicates that "[t]he Hebrew sacred mina has been estimated at 499 grams (about 18 ounces)." That gives us a weight of 29,940 grams, or 66 pounds, for a talent.

Man Hit 77 Year Old Tucson Woman With Pipe, Steals Her Pizza

So this news story caught my attention because of the obviousness of the pre-attack indicators, but that the victim ignored them until she was quite literally smacked upside the head.

I looked at three different articles about the attack, all with embedded videos, from The Daily Mail, the New York Daily News, and Tucson.com. Basically, the woman was in one of those store-front pizza places in a strip-mall, floor-to-ceiling plate glass windows giving her an unobstructed view of the outside, as well as giving the attacker a clear view of the inside. No other customers are visible in the store. Outside is the attacker--presumably a homeless man--standing behind a shopping cart. As the victim turned from the counter with two pizzas boxes held in her hands, the guy slipped a pipe out of the cart and started approaching the door, timing it in such a way that he would intercept her at the door. As the victim approached the door, she turned so she could push the door open by backing into it. Suddenly, the attacker flung the door open and brought up the pipe to strike. It looks like maybe he said something to her, and she hesitated neither moving forward nor backward, and he then struck her and grabbed the top box out of her hands as she stumbled backward into the store.

     The Tucson.com article described the attacker as "a short, dark-skinned man with a 'wrinkly face.'" The Daily Mail described the attacker as " a dark-skinned male, possibly Hispanic, with a wrinkly face standing around 5 feet 6 inches or shorter." The Daily News reported: "'The Suspect is described as a dark-complected Hispanic male with a wrinkly face and short stature. 5’6” or shorter,' reads a tweet by officer Ray Smith...."

     Just to be clear, I'm not blaming the woman for being robbed, but there are, nevertheless, things she could have easily done to avoid being victimized. In the first place, she could have actually paid attention to her surroundings. Based on the video, the man was in her plain view after he drew the pipe and had it in his hand. A guy standing outside a door with a pipe in his hand was probably a good indicator that the man was up to no good. Because the man was Hispanic and blacks and Hispanics disproportionately commit violent crimes relative to their percentage of the population, I think that should also have been a warning sign; but maybe the percentage of Hispanics in Tucson is so great that it is meaningless. In any event, she surely should have been able to see the man start to approach the door as she moved toward it--a perp taking an interception course is a classic pre-attack indicator. She turns her back to push open the door, and the guy suddenly flings the door open with the pipe raised ... and the woman apparently froze. If she had backed into the restaurant, the attacker might have broken off his attack.

     Now, moving to a different subject, I want to briefly point out the self-censorship in the media about minority on white crime. The Daily News, to their credit, quoted the description given by police which specifically identified that man as Hispanic. But the Daily Mail changed this to "possibly Hispanic," and the Tucson.com article just gave the vague description of a dark-skinned man, leaving the impression it could have been a black man, Hispanic man, Hawaiian man, Vietnamese, Indian, etc.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Pooch Stew

Years ago, my oldest brother gifted me a copy of Ragnar Benson's book, Eating Cheap. My particular copy was published by Paladin Press, and the copyright is 1982. Like many of Benson's other books, it is not a very long book, coming in at 114 pages.

       While you can find collections of Benson's books online as free PDF downloads (see, e.g., here), I've yet to come across a copy of this particular book. I suspect it is because the book didn't approach food from a post-Apocalypse perspective, but is directed more at the person or family that has fallen on hard times and financially struggling, and so did not garner the commercial success or interest of his other books. In any event, paperback copies are available on the used market, although probably for a lot more than someone that is struggling to feed their family could afford.

       The book is an overview of the philosophy and techniques of eating on a limited budget, discussing such topics as gleaning, cheap meat sources, scrounging (including dumpster diving), raising a garden, a discussion of wild and "semi-wild" game, and, probably the most valuable portion of the book in my opinion, a discussion of DIY butchering of large game. He ends the books with some of his favorite recipes, including some for wild and "semi-wild" game.

       The philosophy section of the book really boils down to two principles: (1) beggars can't be choosers, and (2) you may need to expand your definition of what constitutes "food." For instance, it may take swallowing your pride and putting aside your dignity to ask a farmer if you can glean his fields, or to crawl in a dumpster to gather the food that is being thrown out by a grocery store or restaurant. Your definition of food may have to grow to include the friendly squirrels that chatter at you from the tree in your front lawn or other furry or feathered denizens of your neighborhood.

        Somewhat ironically, given the current COVID-19 panic pandemic and the theory it originated in a Chinese "wet" market, Benson uses India and China as examples of picky eaters versus those willing to make the best of their resources. He points out for instance the constant threat of hunger stalking India, but the significant and widespread religious rules limiting what types of food can be consumed. He then contrasts this with "the Chinese [who] eat anything and everything as long as it is clean and nutritious."

       Benson next touches lightly on food storage, mostly to illustrate the point that, like the ants in the Aesop's fable of the ants and the grasshopper, we need to set aside food in times of surplus so that we have it available in times of shortage.

       He then moves on to the issue of nutrition. He points out that Americans consume far more calories than we need:
As a general rule, male humans require about sixteen calories per day per pound of body weight to stay in good health. Females need about fourteen calories. Alone with this, humans must also consume a basic package of required proteins, vitamins, and minerals. These minimum daily requirements have pretty well been defined by scientific research. ...
He acknowledges that selecting a diet that has the right balance can be difficult and, for that reason, recommends taking daily vitamins, and suggests a diet heavy on rice and lentils or beans. To this, you can round this out with fruits, vegetables and meat scrounged from various sources. But, he warns:
Keep in mind that while much of the protein you will require can come from pulses like pinto beans, garbanzos, or peas, some amino acids will still be missing. That's why the early settlers cooked beans with salt pork and why pea soup is better for you with a chunk of meat cooked in with it.
       His next major subject is gleaning. Gleaning is the collection of food after a harvest. Historically, gleaners would follow the harvesters collecting what fell to the ground or was discarded. Gleaning was an activity protected by the Law of Moses, but today will get you in trouble for trespassing if you don't get permission first. I doubt that most farmers would allow it--at least, not without charging you for "picking your own"--due to either greed or liability concerns if, for some reason, you were to injure yourself while on their property.

      In any event, Benson's initial point as to gleaning is that you need to realize that no one area produces the panoply of fruits and vegetables we find at the grocery store. There may be a few crops that grow very well in your area and a handful or two of other varieties that grow okay. Much of it will depend on climate. For instance, in my area of Idaho, corn (aka maize), onions, wheat, sugar beet, hops and fruit trees such as cherry and apple do very well. Other areas of Idaho, as you might guess, are major producers of potatoes. There are also vineyards not too distant from Boise. From my own gardening efforts, I know that tomatoes, squash, zucchini, and raspberries grow well in this area. (Although corn is widely grown in this area, even in fields less than half a mile from where I live, I have never had any success in growing it myself). Thus, it pays to know what crops are grown in your area so you know what can be found, and to know what is not available so you don't waste time trying to track down something that is unobtainable.

       His next point is that any produce harvested with mechanical harvesters will likely have plenty of gleanings left over, but this may not be the case if they use manual labor to pick the harvest. Couple a narrow harvest window and the cost of running the harvesters, and it is unlikely that farmers will bother with going over old ground to get the produce missed in the first pass or produce that has fallen to the ground. In this regard, he notes examples of cabbage and tomatoes that he was able to glean simply because it wasn't picked at the initial harvest, and the farmer was more than glad to have it carted off by someone just so the fields would be cleared for the next scheduled planting. He relates: "A good workable rule is that perishable produce or crops requiring additional processing or packing can be gleaned. Feed grains or products that essentially go from the farmer to the consumer ... must be purchased."

       In my mind, this plays into the consideration of whether it would be worth the effort to try and glean. If you live near a potato farm, that would probably be a good source for gleaning because there will be a lot of potatoes that are too small or get cut up in the machinery and drop through to the ground. The growers may also discard potatoes that are perfectly edible, but grew in odd shapes. I know about the potatoes because I walked through newly harvested fields when I was a kid and picked up the potatoes that had fallen from the harvester machines. I suspect that other root crops would be good sources of gleanings. Grain would probably be less productive because of the relative efficiency of the combine harvesters, unless there was simply small areas and corners that the combine missed while turning around, or small piles of grain that have dumped from the combine while offloading to a truck.

       Continuing with Benson's writing, however, in addition to knowing the crops you also need to know when they are harvested in your area. The idea is that you need to swoop in after the farmer completes his harvest, but before the food spoils (or the farmer plows it all under to plant another crop). Although he suggests several sources of information, the easiest will probably be your local extension office, farm organizations, or even food processing plants and/or granaries. Benson warns, however, that these dates are not fixed and may vary from year to year. So you need to know not just the general dates, but the specific times for the current year.

      Next is obtaining permission from the farmer. As Benson relates, this may not be as straightforward as it seems because you need to ask the farmer that owns the crop, and this may or may not be the person that owns the land. Small farmers likely lease their property to a larger farming outfit. The person in the field may be a custom farmer, and not the owner of the crop, someone from the seed or fertilizer company checking on the status of their crop, a ditch rider, etc. And large "family" farms are often owned by family trusts, limited liability companies and other interconnected business entities. But, once you get to the farmer that actually owns the crop, Benson suggests that you always ask if you can pay for collecting the gleanings. He contends that most farmers won't accept payment, but it is the offer that is expected. Also, make your request as specific as possible:
Ask if you might pick up the cull potatoes after they run the digger through, pick up apples under the trees, buy some of the pumpkins left after harvest, pick the beans again after the field hands are through, and so on. As I said before, all of this requires a good working knowledge of the agricultural picture in your area.
Although not technically gleaning, you may also try to find people in your church or community that will let people pick the excess from fruit trees or berry bushes. For instance, I was in a congregation where lived an older couple that had a large patch of raspberries--far more than they could ever pick or use--who would invite members to come and pick and take home the berries. Every few years or so, our cherry tree will go crazy and produce far more than we can use, and we certainly invite people to come get what they can while they can.

      Benson next moves on to discuss cheap sources of meat. Frankly, this section seems oriented toward two strategies: finding farmers or ranchers that are willing to sell defective (e.g., the runt of a pig herd) or injured animals, but this requires timing or luck; or to go to a slaughter house or processing plant to purchase unwanted bits and parts, such, as he specifically mentions, chicken hearts, livers, gizzards, backs, or the diaphragm from cattle. He specifically advises that you tell them that the items are being purchased for consumption by a dog or cat as there are very specific regulations concerning how products for human consumption must be handled. Similarly, if you are near a fish packing plant, he suggests that you might be able to pick up "culled" fish for cheap.

      Scavenging or scrounging is the collecting of food from the other end of the food-production and sale cycle--gathering the food that has been discarded. Due to health and safety laws on food freshness, as well as simple appeal to customers, grocery stores, bakeries, restaurants, and so forth, discard a surprisingly large amount of food. For instance, one source I consulted indicated that "[s]upermarkets throw away 43 billion pounds of food every year." Much of this is edible, but is discarded because it has passed its "sell by" date, is stale (but still edible), or simply not wanted because of some cosmetic defect or damaged packaging.

     For instance, when I was a missionary in Japan, we took advantage of the fact that the Japanese had no interest in buying or eating the heels of a loaf of bread. Many bakeries would slice off the heels and put them aside to give to people to feed to their dogs. We would go around to a few of these bakeries once a week to collect this free bread and use for our cooking or sandwiches.

      In another example, I was working in an office building that had a small cafe which sold various gourmet meat and veggy sandwiches that the owner would put together each morning. Any that were left at the end of the day were simply thrown out. A co-worker was going to check to see if the owner of the cafe would be willing to donate the unused sandwiches to the local homeless shelter, but I don't know what ever came of that.

      Scrounging is not as easy as it once was. For one thing, again because of potential tort liability, stores have taken measures to keep people from crawling into dumpsters. Thus, the dumpster may be located behind fences and/or locked so you can't get into them. In addition, both stores and organizations assisting the homeless or poor have wised up to some of this waste, and so food banks or homeless shelters may collect some of this food. Nevertheless, if you go in at the right time, you may be able to get some of this food free or at a greatly reduced cost.

     In any event, as Benson points out, you need to be aware of the timing of when food items will be discarded and when the garbage truck arrives. He notes that "[m]ost successful supermarket scroungers work their routes late in the evening till early morning," but cautions that it is easy for good items to be buried by other waste during the day, and so, if possible, it may be worth checking a dumpster "often" during the day.

      As far as restaurants go, Benson recommends fast-food restaurants and high-end restaurants over middle-of-the-road restaurants. Having done my stint working in fast food when I was younger, the reasoning for such places seems straightforward. The hamburger chain I worked for, in order to make sure that the food was "fast" would cook patties and other items ahead of time. Generally we would ramp up before an expected busy time or rush, and cook through the rush, and then slow down as the rush ended. However, the chain had a strict policy how long the patties could be kept before being made into sandwiches. I don't remember the time now, but I believe it was 15 or 20 minutes. After that, it was discarded. So, if you mistimed a rush or overestimated the volume of customers, you could end up with a fair amount discarded. And, of course, if an order were messed up some way ("I wanted only ketchup on my burger!"), the products were discarded.

     Obviously, the fancy restaurant is not going to operate in the same fashion (at least, I would hope not). Rather, as Benson suggests, these are going to mostly be left overs from a meal that was not wholly consumed, or because of a mess up in an order.

     The best source, according to Benson, are the waste from in-flight meals served by airlines. However, I doubt that this is a viable option anymore. For one thing, in-flight meals are not as prevalent now as when Benson wrote his book. Second, because of increased security around airports, I doubt that you could get close to key dumpsters.

     Benson's next topic is foraging. He focuses on a few edibles in particular--cattails, acorns, walnuts, and dandelion greens--and then focuses on a few less common items. One of the latter is asparagus, which caught my attention because when I was a little kid, my family actually would go along roads and ditch banks collecting asparagus. At that time and place, it was basically a weed as far as most of the locals were concerned.

     From there, Benson goes on to discuss gardening. Frankly, even as Benson admits, there are a lot of books and sources out there on home gardening, and he didn't have room to discuss it in great detail. He gives his recommendations as to the best crops for some of the different climate zones, some general tips, and finishes off discussing berry bushes and fruit trees.

    Now we get to what I consider the meat of the book, if you pardon the pun: wild and semi-wild game. "Let's face it," Benson writes, "culture and aesthetics have to be put aside, if you are going to eat for next to nothing." And so we have to consider non-traditional American foods, even if that includes "critters that look fluffy and cute to you now." His primary suggestion for collecting cats and dogs is the local pounds, but I doubt that is a worthwhile source since modern animal shelters seem to charge quite high "adoption fees" to cover the costs of having the animal neutered or spayed, as well as the vaccinations. It would be cheaper on a pound-for-pound basis to buy beef at a quality butcher's market. As an alternative, Benson suggests making use of newspaper ads listing free pets in need of a home. But, he cautions, "[b]e double-damn sure you don't give addresses or telephone numbers where you can be found" in case the former owner decides to check up on how "Fluffy" is doing. Again, this may be harder to do now where, instead of newspaper ads, we use Craig's List and, at the least, exchange email addresses. Thus, the most viable approach would appear to be trapping stray or wild animals, whether cats, dogs, squirrels, rats, pigeons, blackbirds, possums, raccoons, nutria, muskrats, and so on.

    And this brings us to the most valuable part of the book (at least to me because of my relative inexperience): the section on butchering or dressing game. I'm going to skip over the section on birds and small game to go to larger game or, perhaps, a a heifer or calf that you have purchased.  Benson writes:
     Through the years, I have developed a speedy method of butchering the meat into practical cuts. The result is not quite the same as you would find in a butcher shop, but our motives are different. The commercial butcher wants to hide the largest bone in the smallest amount of meat. I want to bone out the meat in the quickest, easiest manner possible and save as much room in my freezer as I can.

      To help a bit, we have included a diagram that corresponds with the eight steps that follow:

1.  Using any wood saw--even a dull one--cut the carcass down the middle of the backbone into two halves.

2.  Cut off the two front leg shanks at the last joint.

3.  Cut the front hams off, taking as much meat with them off the rib cage as you can manage.

4.  Saw the neck off where it joins the back bone.

5.  Starting at the top, saw down through the ribs. Depending on the size, the cuts start one-to-four inches from the back bone. The ribs may be cut into sections and broken in half again with an ax if necessary.

6.  Remove the small pickle-shaped piece of meat lying next to the backbone under the ribs. This is the filet mignon.

7.  Cut the loin strips out in two sections. The loins are the strips of muscle that protect the back bone.

8.  Saw through the rear shank, separating the rear hams.

      After that, if you want to, you can use a fillet knife to bone out the large chunks that make up the top rounds or hams.

     All game must be chilled quickly after the animal is slaughtered. In summer it must be sawed into chunks, boned if need be, and frozen immediately. In winter it is wise to leave the halved carcass "on the rail" overnight in a cold garage or shed. The cool meat cuts easier and won't overwork the freezer. 

     If the weather promises to be in the 40s for a week, I will age beef. Aged goat and sheep meat doesn't taste very good, in my opinion.

    Small game must also be chilled. ...


He goes on to note that hogs are generally handled differently, primarily because the meat is better if cured (i.e., soaked in salt brine for a time) and smoked. He explains:
      Curing and smoking pork is much easier and better if the skin is left on the animal. The hair has to be removed form the hog hide first by scalding. When we scalded hogs, we used a fifty-five gallon steel barrel full of water that we heated with an open fire using an old tire for fuel. Four of us stood on benches set around a barrel and dipped the hog down in the the boiling water till we could scrape the hair off with a minimum of effort using a piece of 16-gauge tin.

      Then we hung the critter in the great, old Chinese elm in the barn lot and scraped the whole thing clean. After that we gutted it, halved it and sawed the animal into pieces just like any other Benson butcher job.
      Benson concludes his book by offering a suggested $5/week (at the prices of that time) meal plan using only store bought items. Needless to say, it is heavy on pulses and grains. Then he moves into favorite recipes for various foods, including, but not limited to, rice, wheat, corn casserole, pea soup, dandelion greens, and various wild and semi-wild game. And because one of these served as the title to this post, here is his recipe for "pooch stew":
1  pound dog meat
1  large eggplant (zucchini may be substituted)
1  green pepper
1/2 pound mushrooms
1  medium onion
2  12-ounce cans tomato sauce
1/2 cup cooking oil or bear lard
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons meat tenderizer
1  clove garlic
salt and pepper
1  fresh lemon

      Bone and cut meat, removing any tendon or gristle. Sprinkle with tenderizer and let stand several hours. Brown in oil or lard, add finely chopped garlic, cover with tomato sauce and simmer several hours.

      About one hour before you think the meat will be done, chop onions and peppers, brown in some more lard till onions are translucent and add to meat mixture. Add mushrooms which have been cut in half. Brown the eggplant (zucchini) which has been cut into one-inch cubes. Garnish with sliced lemon. Simmer gently till eggplant pierces easily with a fork. Do not overcook--you don't want the eggplant to turn to mush. A little red wine in the sauce makes a nice addition if you have some. 

      Serve with boiled potatoes, boiled white, brown, or wild rice, noodles, or boiled wheat. Serves four people.
Bon appétit!

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

A Quick Run Around the Web (4/28/2020)

"3 Reasons I Ditched My BUG OUT BAG"--Warrior Poet Society (19 min.)
  • "How to Spot a Bad Guy- A Comprehensive Look at Body Language and Pre-Assault Indicators"--Active Response Training. A must read, not just because of the information on giving you warning about an impending attack, but also because the information is useful for articulating why you may have used force or drawn a weapon.
  • "Police Tactics: Using a Patrol Car as Cover During a Shootout"--Tactical Life. The author relates a DEA test of a vehicle where after receiving a barrage of bullets, not only where the targets in the car (under the front dashboard area of the driver’s side and another simulating a crouched suspect in the backseat floor area) unscathed, but the instructor was able to drive the car off the range. But, as the author notes, cars are not made of homogeneous materials, so some areas may be easily penetrated by bullets, while others (e.g., the engine block) can provide hard cover against small arms fire. An excerpt:
          I strongly recommend that you try various positions of cover with your patrol car. I remember taking a rookie I was training back behind an industrial complex at night on patrol and practicing “debussing” drills, counter-ambush drills and how to use the patrol car as cover.
            Just seated behind the wheel or in the passenger seat and using the front “A” pillars as cover takes some work. A right-handed officer firing from the driver’s seat should keep his or her feet inside the car. Once you place your feet on the ground outside the car, they are susceptible to bullets skipping off the deck or fragments of pavement from rounds fired into the asphalt or concrete. Leaning forward, a right-handed officer has to cant his or her pistol outboard to clear the pillar. Another consideration is your cruiser’s spotlight, if you have one; both the handle inside and the light housing itself may get in your way. A right-handed officer in the front passenger seat will have an easier time, but practice both so that it’s easier to get into these positions in a shooting. You can minimize your exposure behind the pillar and dash by extending your legs and slouching in the seat. Once again, except for the window gears and metal framing, side doors in this technique offer little protection.
      After going over advice as to shooting stances and staying a bit back from the vehicle, the author goes on to recommend:
      If better cover is available and within close proximity, move to it prior to engaging the suspect; there’s a lot of concrete, brick, trees and poles in our modern environment. But if a spontaneous assault occurs while you’re behind the wheel or in the car as a passenger, maximize your effectiveness and protection by positioning behind the most solid points in the car.
               A suspect in close proximity to an approaching officer unexpectedly reaches for a handgun in his waistband. The officer's sidearm is holstered. Because action beats reaction, the perpetrator is likely to outdraw the officer, something that is borne out by the numbers.
                Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) 2004 statistics indicate that a perpetrator can deploy a handgun from his waistband in as little as one-third of a second. In stark contrast, FLETC notes the average officer's reaction time to counter-draw a weapon is between two and four seconds.
                  • The NYPD's 2010 LEOKA report underscores that 55% of officers killed were within 0-5 feet of the assailant.
                    • The FBI Unified Crime Report 1980-2010 corroborates a similar number of 53% of officers killed within five feet of an assailant.
              • "Hiding a gun — The rules of three"--Backwoods Home Magazine. The author discusses three reasons why you might want to hide (i.e., cache) a gun, three types of guns you might want to cache, three ways to prepare the firearm for caching, three types of storage containers, three types of places to cache them, and, finally, three ways of noting the location so you can find it later. Note that the last is very important: a cached weapon is of no use if can't find it later. His suggestions on this last point:
                       You should mark the location of your hidden weapon in three different ways. You should have a compass or a GPS unit (or both) and know how to use them.
                        First, identify the location visually, preferably using distant and/or virtually immovable features of the landscape. Mountain peaks, waterfalls, house-sized boulders, freeway interchanges, ancient monuments, etc. Then you can take note of nearby trees, rocks, and other objects as a backup. It’s probably more useful to make note of the terrain than features on the terrain. Note whether the ground rises or falls around your stash, or how many paces the stash is from a nearby hillock.
                          Second, take compass headings to your cache location from at least three different recognizable objects. Again, you should choose objects that aren’t likely to move. But if you take a heading from a power pole, a tree, and a boulder, and 10 years later the tree has fallen down, you still have other things to guide you.
                            In using a compass you must know the declination in your area — that is, how much magnetic north varies from true north. Later, when you’re ready to go back to find your hidden tools, you should check the declination again (NOAA has a website for this). Magnetic north drifts from year to year. I was aware of this but didn’t realize how much the drift could impact caching until Carl Bussjaeger, a writer and a reader of my blog, alerted me. Then I checked. Turns out, over 10 or 15 years, the change in declination in a given area could easily be enough to put you many feet away from your hidden stuff if you don’t adjust for it. (It’s easier than it may sound, though.)
                             Finally, you should mark the location with your standalone GPS unit (and remember, never, ever with a cellphone). Then, when you get home, transfer those coordinates to a piece of paper or an encrypted computer file (along with your compass headings), and erase them from the GPS unit.
                               If you write the coordinates down, disguise them in some way. One blog reader who works in security suggested making them look like a phone number and putting them in your address book. It goes without saying that you should hide or disguise your record of the coordinates very well — but not so well that you can’t find it years later. But then, that’s why you use three marking methods; if one fails, you still have the others.
                            I question the efficacy of caching because of the difficulties of locating and accessing caches, especially if several years intervene between when you cache the item and when you need to get it. A lot can change, especially if some major disaster intervenes; and something like a repeat of the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-1812 or "the Big One" expected for California would probably make it impossible to locate a buried cache. And don't expect GPS (or, at the least, accurate GPS) in the event of war or civil upheaval. 
                            • "Behind Enemy Lines: Guns of Vietnam's SOG Warriors"--American Rifleman. These were forces that operated in Laos and Cambodia, and thus American deniability was a requirement. Accordingly, in the early years of the conflict, the forces used a variety of foreign weapons or weapons dating from the World War II era that could not be definitively traced by to the United States. But the article notes:
                              By 1967, the enemy had captured enough U.S. weapons in South Vietnam that weapon deniability was relaxed for missions into Laos, although the requirement continued another two years for Cambodia. Teams could now carry M16s, but they soon were rearmed with what would become SOG recon’s trademark arm—the CAR-15.
                                The units also used a variety of suppressed firearms and other modified weapons. The article is an interesting read. 
                                        Potatoes are a cool weather crop and should be planted about one month before your last frost date. In my Zone 8, the last frost is Mar 15. This is important because the productivity of potatoes falls in weather above 90 degrees and anything hotter than that may even kill the plants.
                                          I plan on starting my seed potatoes by February 1st so they can be out in the garden by March 15th.
                                            Chitting is best done 6 weeks in advance. If the potatoes sprout earlier than that you can remove any sprout larger than 2″. This way, the sprout will not grow back but the potato will be able to focus its entire stored energy into growing or producing new sprouts just in time for planting.

                                        * * *

                                                 You can pre-sprout and plant whole seed potatoes (2 inches and under) or cut them into pieces with multiple eyes. By cutting them into multiple pieces, you’ll get fewer but bigger potatoes than you would if you planted them whole.
                                                  However, if you do plant them whole, sprout only egg-sized potatoes with at most three eyes on each (as someone’s potato-loving Grandma’s once aptly put it, “One [eye] for shoots, one for roots, and one to thank God.“)

                                              * * *

                                                     Under normal conditions, one eye will produce three tubers: one large, one medium-sized, and one egg-sized. It is best to keep the egg-sized potatoes from a harvest for a new crop next year.
                                                       If you do cut the sprouted potatoes in pieces, give them a day or two to callus over and cure. Some old timers dip them in wood ash to help the process. This curing is important if you are going to plant in damp, cold soil to prevent rot and fungus growth.
                                                    Lots more advice so read the whole thing.
                                                    • "Canoeing: Learn the A to Z Essentials of Piloting a Canoe"--Real World Survival. This article covers not just different methods of using a paddle, but discusses essential kit. I've wondered about getting into canoeing, but the fact of the matter is that most of Idaho is high mountain desert and lacking in navigable streams or lakes. 
                                                    • "The 10 Most Gruesome, Shocking, and Bizarre Survival Stories Ever"--Field & Stream. This article is a series of short excerpts that link to longer stories on the particular topic. Nevertheless, one of the items related was: “The elk lunged at me. My hand slipped off, and the antlers hit my face. ‘You have a hell of a hole in your neck,’ my son-in-law said. ‘And it’s bleeding good, too!’ It had happened so fast that I didn’t even feel it.”
                                                    • "Start Here"--Lizard Farmer. His recommendation for a good place to start in learning about defense of a homestead or rural community. And that place is this short, online book called The Farmer At War about farmers and what they did to survive during the Rhodesian conflict. 
                                                    • "How To Master The Sitting Position"--Shooting Sports USA
                                                    • "Review: Midwest Industries Combat Rifle Offset Sight Set"--Shooting Illustrated. More than just a review, it discusses the advantage of using an offset set of backup iron sights when employing a telescopic sight on your modern sporting rifle.
                                                    • This sure seems to be going down the memory hole fast, probably because it demonstrates that gun control laws are a farce--articles about the Nova Scotia shooter, Gabriel Wortman:
                                                            It took the Mounties until Wednesday afternoon to admit publicly they had known since they first heard Wortman’s name and ran it through the computer that he didn’t have a gun licence.
                                                             Yet somehow, Wortman was armed with a gun or guns. We don’t know for sure because the RCMP won’t say.
                                                               As first reported by my colleague Joe Warmington and has since been confirmed elsewhere, Wortman took the service pistol and magazines from RCMP Const. Heidi Stephenson after he killed her.
                                                                  Asked about the guns Wortman used, the RCMP has been silent even though they obviously know what type of firearms he was found with. Could it be because they don’t want to admit this rampage was carried out in whole or in part with RCMP guns?

                                                            "Solar Superstorms | Field Collapse Risk [Part 1]"--Suspicious Observers (5 min.)

                                                                   While this data is preliminary, it is backed up by another study in Los Angeles that found 40 times more people had carried the virus then were previously known. This dropped the fatality rate in LA from 4.5 percent to .1-.3 percent.
                                                                   It is difficult to stress how important these findings are. The 5-week lockdown that has destroyed the American economy was put in place by contemplating what looks to be rather absurd numbers by the WHO.
                                                                     While the United States has nearly lost a terrible 50,000 lives to the virus, this radical shift in our understanding of just how deadly it really is should make us question not only the logic of the lockdown in the first place, but more importantly how much longer we are going to stay on this destructive course.
                                                                        I ran an obscure pharmaceutical company until a few days ago. Then we got famous. Early in the Covid-19 pandemic, Aytu BioScience made a commitment to find ways to help. One of those ways came through our newly formed relationship with a prominent Los Angeles hospital.
                                                                         On April 20 we put out a press release titled “Aytu BioScience Signs Exclusive Global License with Cedars-Sinai for Potential Coronavirus Treatment.” The treatment is called Healight, and it was developed by research physicians at the hospital’s Medically Associated Science and Technology Program. The technology, which has been in development since 2016, uses ultraviolet light as an antimicrobial and is a promising potential treatment for Covid-19.
                                                                            Aytu and Cedars-Sinai have engaged with the Food and Drug Administration to pursue a rapid path to human use through an Emergency Use Authorization. But hardly anyone noticed—until Thursday, when President Trump mused, “. . . supposing you brought the light inside the body . . .”
                                                                             My team and I knew the president’s comments could trigger a backlash against the idea of UV light as a treatment, which might hinder our ability to get the word out. We decided to create a YouTube account, upload a video animation we had created, and tweet it out. It received some 50,000 views in 24 hours.
                                                                                Then YouTube took it down. So did Vimeo. Twitter suspended our account. The narrative changed from whether UV light can be used to treat Covid-19 to “Aytu is being censored.”
                                                                                  These days, politics seems to dictate that if one party says, “The sky is blue,” the other party is obligated to reply, “No, it’s not, and you’re a terrible human being for thinking that.” That leaves no room for science, in which the data speak for themselves, regardless of ideology, and only when they’re ready. Unfortunately, the visceral excitement of political conflict draws far more clicks and better ratings than the methodical world of science.
                                                                                    Technologies like Healight, which if borne out through clinical studies may represent a viable way to kill coronaviruses, aren’t provided the clear-headed consideration they deserve but are instead flushed into the political mosh-pit of “us vs. them.”
                                                                                     Twitter, YouTube and Vimeo are under enormous pressure from political activists. They also need to ensure that information on their platforms is safe and accurate. That’s exactly why Aytu decided to post videos and tweet about Healight.
                                                                                        We at Aytu BioScience are confident that treatments for Covid-19 will be found. We hope we can help. But above all we hope science will ultimately speak louder than politics.
                                                                                           ... In retrospect, and despite their air of authority, the experts never had enough knowledge about this virus to make reliable calculations about the future.
                                                                                            But the real problem with the models weren’t that they proved to be false, but rather that they were promoted with false certitude.
                                                                                              Part of the problem is clearly foresight, a failure of imagination. But the other part of the problem is what we didn’t *do* in advance, and what we’re failing to do now. And that is a failure of action, and specifically our widespread inability to *build*.
                                                                                               We see this today with the things we urgently need but don’t have. We don’t have enough coronavirus tests, or test materials — including, amazingly, cotton swabs and common reagents. We don’t have enough ventilators, negative pressure rooms, and ICU beds. And we don’t have enough surgical masks, eye shields, and medical gowns — as I write this, New York City has put out a desperate call for rain ponchos to be used as medical gowns. Rain ponchos! In 2020! In America!
                                                                                                 We also don’t have therapies or a vaccine — despite, again, years of advance warning about bat-borne coronaviruses. Our scientists will hopefully invent therapies and a vaccine, but then we may not have the manufacturing factories required to scale their production. And even then, we’ll see if we can deploy therapies or a vaccine fast enough to matter — it took scientists 5 years to get regulatory testing approval for the new Ebola vaccine after that scourge’s 2014 outbreak, at the cost of many lives.
                                                                                                    In the U.S., we don’t even have the ability to get federal bailout money to the people and businesses that need it. Tens of millions of laid off workers and their families, and many millions of small businesses, are in serious trouble *right now*, and we have no direct method to transfer them money without potentially disastrous delays. A government that collects money from all its citizens and businesses each year has never built a system to distribute money to us when it’s needed most.
                                                                                                     Why do we not have these things? Medical equipment and financial conduits involve no rocket science whatsoever. At least therapies and vaccines are hard! Making masks and transferring money are not hard. We could have these things but we chose not to — specifically we chose not to have the mechanisms, the factories, the systems to make these things. We chose not to *build*.
                                                                                                        You don’t just see this smug complacency, this satisfaction with the status quo and the unwillingness to build, in the pandemic, or in healthcare generally. You see it throughout Western life, and specifically throughout American life.
                                                                                                    Read the whole thing.
                                                                                                            Five key facts are being ignored by those calling for continuing the near-total lockdown.
                                                                                                             Fact 1: The overwhelming majority of people do not have any significant risk of dying from COVID-19.
                                                                                                                The recent Stanford University antibody study now estimates that the fatality rate if infected is likely 0.1 to 0.2 percent, a risk far lower than previous World Health Organization estimates that were 20 to 30 times higher and that motivated isolation policies.  
                                                                                                                 In New York City, an epicenter of the pandemic with more than one-third of all U.S. deaths, the rate of death for people 18 to 45 years old is 0.01 percent, or 10 per 100,000 in the population. On the other hand, people aged 75 and over have a death rate 80 times that. For people under 18 years old, the rate of death is zero per 100,000. 
                                                                                                                   Of all fatal cases in New York state, two-thirds were in patients over 70 years of age; more than 95 percent were over 50 years of age; and about 90 percent of all fatal cases had an underlying illness. Of 6,570 confirmed COVID-19 deaths fully investigated for underlying conditions to date, 6,520, or 99.2 percent, had an underlying illness. If you do not already have an underlying chronic condition, your chances of dying are small, regardless of age. And young adults and children in normal health have almost no risk of any serious illness from COVID-19.
                                                                                                                     Fact 2: Protecting older, at-risk people eliminates hospital overcrowding.
                                                                                                                       We can learn about hospital utilization from data from New York City, the hotbed of COVID-19 with more than 34,600 hospitalizations to date. For those under 18 years of age, hospitalization from the virus is 0.01 percent, or 11 per 100,000 people; for those 18 to 44 years old, hospitalization is 0.1 percent. Even for people ages 65 to 74, only 1.7 percent were hospitalized. Of 4,103 confirmed COVID-19 patients with symptoms bad enough to seek medical care, Dr. Leora Horwitz of NYU Medical Center concluded "age is far and away the strongest risk factor for hospitalization." Even early WHO reports noted that 80 percent of all cases were mild, and more recent studies show a far more widespread rate of infection and lower rate of serious illness. Half of all people testing positive for infection have no symptoms at all. The vast majority of younger, otherwise healthy people do not need significant medical care if they catch this infection.
                                                                                                                         Fact 3: Vital population immunity is prevented by total isolation policies, prolonging the problem.
                                                                                                                           We know from decades of medical science that infection itself allows people to generate an immune response — antibodies — so that the infection is controlled throughout the population by “herd immunity.” Indeed, that is the main purpose of widespread immunization in other viral diseases — to assist with population immunity. In this virus, we know that medical care is not even necessary for the vast majority of people who are infected. It is so mild that half of infected people are asymptomatic, shown in early data from the Diamond Princess ship, and then in Iceland and Italy. That has been falsely portrayed as a problem requiring mass isolation. In fact, infected people without severe illness are the immediately available vehicle for establishing widespread immunity. By transmitting the virus to others in the low-risk group who then generate antibodies, they block the network of pathways toward the most vulnerable people, ultimately ending the threat. Extending whole-population isolation would directly prevent that widespread immunity from developing.
                                                                                                                              Fact 4: People are dying because other medical care is not getting done due to hypothetical projections.
                                                                                                                               Critical health care for millions of Americans is being ignored and people are dying to accommodate “potential” COVID-19 patients and for fear of spreading the disease. Most states and many hospitals abruptly stopped “nonessential” procedures and surgery. That prevented diagnoses of life-threatening diseases, like cancer screening, biopsies of tumors now undiscovered and potentially deadly brain aneurysms. Treatments, including emergency care, for the most serious illnesses were also missed. Cancer patients deferred chemotherapy. An estimated 80 percent of brain surgery cases were skipped. Acute stroke and heart attack patients missed their only chances for treatment, some dying and many now facing permanent disability.
                                                                                                                                  Fact 5: We have a clearly defined population at risk who can be protected with targeted measures.
                                                                                                                                   The overwhelming evidence all over the world consistently shows that a clearly defined group — older people and others with underlying conditions — is more likely to have a serious illness requiring hospitalization and more likely to die from COVID-19. Knowing that, it is a commonsense, achievable goal to target isolation policy to that group, including strictly monitoring those who interact with them. Nursing home residents, the highest risk, should be the most straightforward to systematically protect from infected people, given that they already live in confined places with highly restricted entry.
                                                                                                                                      The appropriate policy, based on fundamental biology and the evidence already in hand, is to institute a more focused strategy like some outlined in the first place: Strictly protect the known vulnerable, self-isolate the mildly sick and open most workplaces and small businesses with some prudent large-group precautions. This would allow the essential socializing to generate immunity among those with minimal risk of serious consequence, while saving lives, preventing overcrowding of hospitals and limiting the enormous harms compounded by continued total isolation. Let’s stop underemphasizing empirical evidence while instead doubling down on hypothetical models. Facts matter.
                                                                                                                                  First, the wave has crested. At 1 p.m. April 7, the COVID-19 arrivals slowed down. It was a discrete, noticeable event. Stretchers became available by 5 p.m., and the number of arriving COVID-19 patients dropped below the number discharged, transferred or deceased.
                                                                                                                                           “Mass quarantines, they tell us again and again, are the only way to save lives,” Carlson said. “But that’s a lie. They don’t know it’s true, despite what they’ve claimed. There’s no scientific record to consult. It’s never been done. We’re currently living through the largest and most expensive experiment ever conducted in human history. We’ve spent trillions of dollars, and crushed millions of people, purely on the guess that a nationwide lockdown would save us from the coronavirus. Has it worked? Was the guess correct?”
                                                                                                                                            Looking at the “data,” the Daily Caller co-founder noted that the eight U.S. states that have yet to issue shelter-in-place orders are still “below the national average in coronavirus cases, and deaths, per capita.” He then referred to the work of “journalist and professor Wilfred Reilly,” who “did the math” comparing per capita numbers per state and finding that “a state’s lockdown strategy had virtually no effect on how severe its outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus was.”
                                                                                                                                             “Are you surprised by this?” Carlson asked. “Maybe you shouldn’t be. You can see the same trend at work in other countries. Sweden, most famously, has never locked down. Restaurants there have never closed. That country is still suffering from coronavirus, suffering more in fact than we are in the U.S. But the country’s epidemic appears to have peaked. And without locking down, Sweden has, and this is the key, has fared far better than other European countries that did lock down. That includes Britain, Italy, Spain and Belgium.”
                                                                                                                                                To normalize for an unambiguous comparison of deaths between states at the midpoint of an epidemic, we counted deaths per million population for a fixed 21-day period, measured from when the death rate first hit 1 per million—e.g.,‒three deaths in Iowa or 19 in New York state. A state’s “days to shutdown” was the time after a state crossed the 1 per million threshold until it ordered businesses shut down.
                                                                                                                                                  We ran a simple one-variable correlation of deaths per million and days to shutdown, which ranged from minus-10 days (some states shut down before any sign of Covid-19) to 35 days for South Dakota, one of seven states with limited or no shutdown. The correlation coefficient was 5.5%—so low that the engineers I used to employ would have summarized it as “no correlation” and moved on to find the real cause of the problem. (The trendline sloped downward—states that delayed more tended to have lower death rates—but that’s also a meaningless result due to the low correlation coefficient.)
                                                                                                                                                   No conclusions can be drawn about the states that sheltered quickly, because their death rates ran the full gamut, from 20 per million in Oregon to 360 in New York.
                                                                                                                                                      When the lockdowns began last month, we were told that if we didn’t stay home our hospitals would be overwhelmed with coronavirus patients, intensive care wards would be overrun, there wouldn’t be enough ventilators, and some people would probably die in their homes for lack of care. To maintain capacity in the health-care system, we all had to go on lockdown—not just the big cities, but everywhere.
                                                                                                                                                        So we stayed home, businesses closed, and tens of millions of Americans lost their jobs. But with the exception of New York City, the overwhelming surge of coronavirus patients never really appeared—at least not in the predicted numbers, which have been off by hundreds of thousands.
                                                                                                                                                    Because those Wuhan virus patients never showed up, and hospitals and clinics are empty of patients, hospitals are laying off or cutting back hours and many could go bankrupt.
                                                                                                                                                            Environmentalists have an unprecedented chance to turn their policy hopes into a global reality during the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the head of the International Monetary Fund.
                                                                                                                                                              “You know, a crisis [is] never to be missed as an opportunity to do better,” IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva said Monday.
                                                                                                                                                                Georgieva, a Bulgarian economist who took over as IMF chief last year, has a prominent role influencing how countries soften the economic blows delivered by the pandemic. She is also working on strategies to “jump-start economies” after the contagion passes. She favors a “coordinated fiscal stimulus that can generate a new momentum for the world economy,” crafted with an eye on climate change as well as the coronavirus crisis.
                                                                                                                                                                  “Look, Mother Nature is not going to let us forget that climate change is a major risk to the well-being of people and the well-being of economies,” she told the Atlantic Council via videoconference. “Right now, we are concentrated on the immediate emergency, and rightly so, but as we deal with COVID-19 and we restart economies, it is a great opportunity to see what are the policies that we can put in place and even accelerate so we can [see] climate-friendly growth in the future.”
                                                                                                                                                                    The opportunity for environmentally-minded policymakers derives in part from the global nature of the response to the pandemic, which means that green policies developed now could see wider adoption than any prescription spurred by an environmental disaster.
                                                                                                                                                                * * *
                                                                                                                                                                       She ... even suggested that people who “have difficulty to service their mortgages” could be incentivized to adopt green energy practices.
                                                                                                                                                                          “What if we decide to have a program that if you retrofit your house, you get a discount on how you service your debt or you have a prolongation of servicing that debt?” Georgieva suggested. “There are many policy ideas that can serve us really well, so we come in a way better off.”
                                                                                                                                                                            We're allowing governors to restrict people's movement; prevent citizens from assembling; and order mandatory masks, testing, and vaccines.  These governors now claim the right to track our every move, to surveil every American in order to ensure compliance.  This shutdown is not just a slippery slope to socialism and communism; it's a downhill slalom.  
                                                                                                                                                                              How did we get here?  Americans aren't cowards who would eagerly surrender liberty for immunity.  But therein lies the genius of the left.  It's not just about you and me, now, is it? 
                                                                                                                                                                               The left has hostages: our aging parents, grandparents, sick relatives.  Either we put down the Constitution and slowly back away or the hostages will die. 

                                                                                                                                                                          New Woodpile Report...

                                                                                                                                                                          ... here. A mostly melancholy post with lots of links to articles about a coming food and/or economic crises, and how to grow your own food. But of interest to gun owners, Ol' Remus pokes fun at an ignorant reporter at the Daily Caller that described "[s]everal anti-lockdown protesters, who appeared to be wearing colorful patterned shirts, arrived in a military-style truck, carrying heavy arms." Only, as Remus reminds us, shotguns and civilian rifles aren't heavy weapons:
                                                                                                                                                                                 Hint: heavy arms aren't carried. Ergo, "heavy". Heavy arms are artillery, missiles, main battle tanks and the like, literally heavy, crew-served weapons. I was a Navy puke and even I know this.

                                                                                                                                                                                 Justin ol' buddy, a military unit with M4s, .30 caliber machine guns and small mortars is considered "lightly armed" by the Army. I'll take the Army as my authority. Tell us you saw protesters with artillery and armor and I'll withdraw my objection.

                                                                                                                                                                                So enough with the sensationalist nonsense. Just stop. You sound like a schoolgirl from deepest Manhattan. At best it reveals who your audience is. The protestors were armed in the same sense pheasant and deer hunters are "armed". Let it go.

                                                                                                                                                                          Friday, April 24, 2020

                                                                                                                                                                          Video: The Cure Is Much Worse Than The Disease

                                                                                                                                                                          "Millions Are Being Murdered | The Killer Cure"--Suspicious Observers (6 min.)
                                                                                                                                                                          Brief summary: "Antibody tests worldwide confirm VAST exposure to coronavirus, which means the real kill rate is exceptionally low. They shut down the world over a flu-level kill rate. The real harm is caused by the halt of society, which supports the existence of 7 billion people. They have sentenced millions to death with their 'cure' because of the poverty and hunger it has created."

                                                                                                                                                                          Article: "Minneapolis to Allow Broadcast of Muslim Call to Prayer Over Loudspeakers During Ramadan"

                                                                                                                                                                          Disclaimer: I'm not your attorney and this isn't legal advice. If you want legal advice, hire your own attorney.

                                                                                                                                                                          A friend sent me the link to the aforementioned article from The Tennessee Star. The article reports:
                                                                                                                                                                                 Mayor Jacob Frey announced Tuesday that he will allow a mosque in Minneapolis to broadcast the Muslim call to prayer over loudspeakers during the month of Ramadan.

                                                                                                                                                                                 The call to prayer, known as the adhan, will be played over a loudspeaker in Minneapolis’s Cedar-Riverside neighborhood and is “expected to reach thousands of residents,” Frey’s office said in a statement.

                                                                                                                                                                                 The call to prayer will be broadcast five times a day from a speaker located outside the Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque at South Fifth Street and Cedar Avenue.

                                                                                                                                                                                 “At a time when physical distancing requires we pray apart, it’s incumbent on leaders to create a sense of togetherness where we can,” Frey said in a press release. “Adhan provides solidarity and comfort – both of which are essential during a time of crisis. As our Muslim community prepares for Ramadan, we hope the broadcast will offer a measure of stability and reassure our entire city that we are all very much in this together.”

                                                                                                                                                                                Frey said he “facilitated” the noise permit for the request and noted that the call to prayer will begin on Thursday evening, the start of Ramadan, which lasts for roughly a month.
                                                                                                                                                                          According to the Mayor's press release, "Keeping with the Muslim tradition, the call to prayer will be sounded five times per day, beginning at sunrise and ending shortly after sunset." Of course, it he allows it for a whole month for Ramadan, why not allow it all year round?

                                                                                                                                                                               Ignoring how divisive this could be, there may be a Constitutional argument that it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.  That is, the Establishment Clause "preclude[s] government from conveying or attempting to convey a message that religion or a particular religious belief is favored or preferred." Cty. of Allegheny v. Am. Civil Liberties Union Greater Pittsburgh Chapter, 492 U.S. 573, 593, 109 S. Ct. 3086, 3101, 106 L. Ed. 2d 472 (1989), abrogated on other grounds by Town of Greece, N.Y. v. Galloway, 572 U.S. 565, 134 S. Ct. 1811, 188 L. Ed. 2d 835 (2014). The way to test this would be for another religion to seek similar leave to broadcast music or other messages during its respective holy day/week/month, or to see if the City has in the past denied such a request. But even without a test to see if the City is behaving in a way that supports one religion over another, it may be worth some party from seeking a court injunction to prevent this from going forward because, on its face, it shows a favoritism toward one religion. In this regard, I would note that, according to Wikipedia:
                                                                                                                                                                                Adhan is called out by a muezzin from the mosque five times a day, traditionally from the minaret, summoning Muslims for obligatory (fard) prayer (salat). A second call, known as the Iqamah then summons Muslims to line up for the beginning of the prayers. The main purpose behind the multiple loud pronouncements of adhan in every mosque is to make available to everyone an easily intelligible summary of Islamic belief. In modern times, loudspeakers have been installed on minarets for this purpose.

                                                                                                                                                                                 The Adhan recites the Takbir (God is greater) followed by the Shahada (There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of God). This statement of faith, called the Kalimah, is the first of the Five Pillars of Islam.
                                                                                                                                                                          (Brackets and footnotes omitted). Thus the City is arguably preferring or favoring religion or favoring one religion over another.

                                                                                                                                                                          New Weekend Knowledge Dump ...

                                                                                                                                                                          ... from Active Response Training. Articles that he links to include those on using measurements and standards to improve your training and practice sessions, what is the meaning of all those numbers on a box of shotgun ammo, setting up a defensive shotgun, and an article from Selco explaining that when the Balkan's war started, they all thought it was going to just be a "temporary disruption."

                                                                                                                                                                          Thursday, April 23, 2020

                                                                                                                                                                          A Quick Run Around the Web (4/23/2020)


                                                                                                                                                                                 Self-defense situations have real-world obstacles. People, chairs, tables and lots of other things will be in the way that you must go around, over and through. Doors need to be opened or closed, and items need to be pushed aside when you’re making your way to the exit. Your family will need to be contained, and you may have to carry small children. Hopefully, you can keep your firearm holstered or rifle slung. But you most likely won’t be able to, so one hand will be occupied. You must clear clothing and draw with just one hand, and possibly re-holster your gun similarly. You might have to grab someone by their hand or shirt, or push people out of the way. Just think about it. You might have to cover an exit while holding open a door.
                                                                                                                                                                                   Restaurant kitchens have those hanging plastic curtains that you might have to walk through and cannot see beyond. You will absolutely run into obstacles in such a crisis, and your balance won’t be perfect. You and everyone else in the area will be moving. The threat may be hunting you.
                                                                                                                                                                                     As you can see, everything in the real world conspires to prevent you from obtaining a perfect two-handed grip, stance and sight picture. So, you should practice being able to shoot from less-than-ideal positions with just one hand rather than praying for divine intervention or expecting to “rise to the occasion.” In more than three decades of experience, I’ve found the former is out of your hands, and the latter is pure fantasy.
                                                                                                                                                                                      There are many situations in which a police officer or armed citizen may not have the opportunity to get two hands on the gun before needing to fire it multiple times. In fact, this reality has actually affected the firearms qualification requirements at many police departments. The specific requirement that I am referring to is known in many circles as close-quarters retention shooting. This is where the officer has to draw his or her pistol, pull it tight to his or her body and fire several rounds into a target that is just a few short feet away. This qualification simulates a startle response to a threat that is up close.
                                                                                                                                                                                        But what about longer distances? What I have learned is that when a person is startled and this person does not already have their gun out, the tendency is to draw his or her gun and immediately drive it towards the threat while firing. The person who was startled then fires one or two shots one-handed before bringing their second hand to the gun, if they do so at all. Distance from the threat is usually not a factor when a person is shooting after being attacked. Their subconscious mind takes over, and they react to the threat presented.
                                                                                                                                                                                           When speaking with those involved in a stressful situation, whether it is in training or a real-world event, it is not uncommon for the person who fired their gun one-handed to not even realize that he or she had done so. I have even seen participants argue that they never fired one-handed until they were shown video evidence. For a person who consistently trains and shoots two-handed, it is hard to comprehend that he or she would ever shoot one-handed under stress.
                                                                                                                                                                                             The ARX bullet is unique in a couple of ways. It has a design that twists in flight which is supposed to aid in its intended purpose. The lead-free bullet is injection molded made from copper and a high strength resin.
                                                                                                                                                                                              It is a proprietary design, so we don’t know how the bullets are made nor the exact formula used. The 45 bullet weighs 114 grains at an advertised muzzle velocity of 1300 FPS, giving it over 400 FT LBS of muzzle energy. The target version weighs 138 grains as a comparison. One advantage of a lightweight bullet is reduced recoil which enables rapid follow up shots. They are frangible and gives about a foot of penetration in ballistic gel. Being frangible there should be no ricochet issues, making it safer for populated areas.
                                                                                                                                                                                          * * * 
                                                                                                                                                                                                  The ARX molded blades spin which will displace more material causing a larger cavity in the target. That will translate to better stopping power which it is intended for. 
                                                                                                                                                                                              The bulk of the article is the author's experience with different loads and the performance he achieved. My experience with these is limited. I picked up a box of the .45 ACP when it was being marketed under the Ruger brand to use as a possible self-defense round in a 1911 old enough that it wasn't designed to feed hollowpoint. My reasoning was that the round nose profile mimicking full metal jacket rounds would cycle reliably. It cycled and shot well with the limited testing I did, but since I had no way of gauging terminal ballistics and I rarely carried that weapon, I never bought more than the one box I used for testing. Now that I know it can be handloaded, I may look into it again.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Storing food is one thing, but storing the right food for your family is a totally different issue. I cannot hand you a list and tell you to go buy all of this and store it and your family will eat great. It does not work that way.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Only store what you eat regularly and what you eat now. Do not waste your time buying a case of sardines because they are on sale if your family refuses to eat them today. A shortage in your food supply is not going to be an instant notification for your taste buds to suddenly decide sardines are not so bad.  In fact, the situation is already going to be stressful enough; you do not want to add to it by trying to gag down a food you hate.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          There is another very good reason you do not want to suddenly start introducing new foods to your family members, young and old. There is an actual medical condition known as appetite fatigue that can cause some nasty side effects.  Side effects you do not want to be dealing with in a situation where things are already bad. I am talking about nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.  Not a pretty picture.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      The best bet is to store what you actually use now for the short run, but slowly introduce your family to items that can be stored long term. Some, like rice and bean dishes, may take awhile to get used to; most everyone, however, likes homemade bread fresh from the oven.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              But, for the rest of us who might have to survive in a traditional fallout shelter or something like it, could you really? I’d suggest it would be harder than most people realize. After all, I’ve been stuck at home which has two levels with multiple rooms and plenty of space for my family and we’re all getting antsy. Plus, I’ve been able to go outside everyday for a walk and to play basketball with my youngest son most days when the weather is decent.
                                                                                                                                                                                                               Now imagine living in a space that’s at least ten times smaller than a traditional suburban house, unable to go outside for weeks or months on end, with no sunlight, and very little privacy. And that’s to say nothing for just how “on top of each other” you must be all day long. It must be quite unpleasant for sure.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  No doubt, if you had a legitimate reason to take shelter, such as to survive the fallout from radiation, then you likely have no choice and should just suck it up. I get that. But not everyone would. Maybe some in your family couldn’t hack things as well as you can or for as long, then what will you do? I’d imagine a lot of this depends on your mindset going in and, more importantly, on the type of person you are, in general.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              I actually thought about this issue when I read James Wesley Rawles' first novel, Patriots, and the strict, cramped conditions his fictional survival group was living under and thought to myself that surely one or more of them would have snapped and murdered someone else.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • "Will the Coronavirus Make Regular People More Prepper Minded?"--More Than Just Surviving. The author believes that for people that are already prepping, it may move their prepping up a notch or two, and that there will be some people that will start to prepare. I believe there will always be the grasshoppers, however.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • "Food security 101" (Part 1) (Part 2) -- Backwoods Home Magazine. Part 1 is a look at some simple methods to begin stocking up food as well as an introductory look at preserving foods. The second part looks at putting together simple meal or serving kits that allow you to quickly prepare foods, offering several example recipes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • The failure of gun control laws: "Police have 'good idea' guns used in N.S. [Canada] mass shooting were not licensed"--The Province. The killer, who was able to get close to his victims because he was dressed in a police uniform and driving a police car, is now alleged to have somehow obtained his weapons notwithstanding Canada's strict gun control laws. The article reports:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Chief Supt. Chris Leather said Wednesday that “we have a fairly good idea that, in Canada at least, he didn’t have a firearms acquisition certificate.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It is illegal to own a gun without the proper licence, which federal legislation formally refers to as a possession and acquisition licence.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    So, not only did the vaunted gun control laws prevent the killer from getting his weapons, but all that licensing, background checks, interviews, and record keeping cannot even verify whether the weapons (the description of which have still not been released) were purchased legally--"a fairly good idea" is the best they can offer. It's pretty obvious that gun control laws are worse than useless and should be abandoned.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "OUT OF SHADOWS" (1 hr. 18 min.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A look at what Anonymous Conservative terms "the Cabel".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          On Friday, the Department of Justice released newly declassified information from an inspector general report on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuse, revealing for the first time that the FBI had received information indicating the Christopher Steele dossier contained Russian disinformation. The newly unredacted portions of the IG’s report also confirmed there was no “network of sources” backing up Steele’s reporting.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            While both revelations provide further fodder for attacking the Carter Page surveillance proceedings, the significance is much greater: These facts establish the FBI used Russia’s meddling with the 2016 election as a pretext to investigate Donald Trump and the special counsel’s office was complicit in this ploy.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      (Underline added).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              There are reasons major companies got massive loans from the Senate’s “small business” bailout while thousands of small businesses that applied the first day funds were available were told there was no money left. Who is to blame, however, is more complicated.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Imagine bankers who won’t deliver you taxpayer assistance unless you already owe them money. Imagine bankers who will put you at the back of the line so that franchises worth hundreds of millions or even a billion dollars can get the aid first. Imagine a law our leaders passed allowing it. Now understand that what you’ve just imagined appears to be exactly what has happened.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If the Malevolent Donkey Party was actively seeking to plunge the country into an economic tailspin, while still maintaining some level of deniability to the credulous suckers out there, exactly what would it be doing differently? It would be pretty much doing exactly what it is doing right now – shilling for the bat-gobbling ChiComs, delaying needed assistance to keep America working, and generally trying to keep us all locked in the dark in perpetuity.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          While BioPort seemingly faced imminent ruin from these and other scandals in August 2001, the 2001 anthrax attacks that followed a month later came at just the right time for the company, as demand for their anthrax vaccine soon skyrocketed, resulting in new lucrative government contracts. Their license was also quickly renewed thanks to intervention from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) despite many of the problems with its production facility persisting.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Note that it has never been determined who spread the anthrax in 2001.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Remdesivir was one of the first medicines identified as having the potential to impact SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19, in lab tests. The entire world has been waiting for results from Gilead’s clinical trials, and positive results would likely lead to fast approvals by the Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory agencies. If safe and effective, it could become the first approved treatment against the disease.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If you really want to go down the rabbit hole, here is an article that claims that Gilead Biosciences is partnered with Wuxi Pharmaceuticals (Wuxi AppTec) which is owned by George Soros (who has at least twice before owned major stakes in Gilead). Wuxi AppTec, which provides validated research including in vitro (HTS, SAR screening support) and in vivo disease models in cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic and infectious diseases, just happens to be located in Wuhan, China
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “It’s just like we’ve seen in the history of mankind, where people try to take over lands . . . and fight to the death, literally, for who’s going to conquer that land,” Bobby Corrigan, a rodentologist who specializes in urban vermin, told NBC News. “A new ‘army’ of rats comes in, and whichever army has the strongest rats is going to conquer that area. When you’re really, really hungry, you’re not going to act the same — you’re going to act very bad, usually.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Must ... control ... the ... schadenfreude.... "The Coronavirus Comes to Afghanistan"--Sultan Knish. Afghans streaming in from Iran have brought the coronavirus with them. And, according to the article, the Taliban are so scared that not only have they stopped killing medical aid workers, but are encouraging people to actually pay attention to those aid workers. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • "CORONA RIOTS Riots and looting in Cape Town as Africa suffers 1,000 coronavirus deaths"--The Sun. From the lede: "UNREST broke out in parts of South Africa amid chronic food shortages sparked by the coronavirus pandemic. Looters raided shops, attacked each other, the army and police after breaching one of the strictest lockdowns in the world."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Related: "‘Instead of Coronavirus, the Hunger Will Kill Us.’ A Global Food Crisis Looms."--New York Times. "The coronavirus pandemic has brought hunger to millions of people around the world. National lockdowns and social distancing measures are drying up work and incomes, and are likely to disrupt agricultural production and supply routes — leaving millions to worry how they will get enough to eat."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The article continues:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   This hunger crisis, experts say, is global and caused by a multitude of factors linked to the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing interruption of the economic order: the sudden loss in income for countless millions who were already living hand-to-mouth; the collapse in oil prices; widespread shortages of hard currency from tourism drying up; overseas workers not having earnings to send home; and ongoing problems like climate change, violence, population dislocations and humanitarian disasters.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Already, from Honduras to South Africa to India, protests and looting have broken out amid frustrations from lockdowns and worries about hunger. With classes shut down, over 368 million children have lost the nutritious meals and snacks they normally receive in school.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     There is no shortage of food globally, or mass starvation from the pandemic — yet. But logistical problems in planting, harvesting and transporting food will leave poor countries exposed in the coming months, especially those reliant on imports, said Johan Swinnen, director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       While the system of food distribution and retailing in rich nations is organized and automated, he said, systems in developing countries are “labor intensive,” making “these supply chains much more vulnerable to Covid-19 and social distancing regulations.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Yet even if there is no major surge in food prices, the food security situation for poor people is likely to deteriorate significantly worldwide. This is especially true for economies like Sudan and Zimbabwe that were struggling before the outbreak, or those like Iran that have increasingly used oil revenues to finance critical goods like food and medicine.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            In Venezuela, the pandemic could deal a devastating blow to millions already living in the world’s largest economic collapse outside wartime.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Resistance in the United States is still muted ... for now: 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • "Meridian [Idaho] woman arrested during protest after refusing to leave a closed playground"--KTVB. (Warning: auto-play video). A larger protest followed at the Meridian City Hall. Although not related in this article, the playground portion of the public park had been marked off with "caution tape" to keep people from using the playground equipment. The tape had been torn down when officers arrived. They put up new tape before leaving, but that, too, was quickly torn down.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • "Reason, Emergencies, and Self-Government"--Angelo Codevilla at American Greatness. Or why the technocrats have no Constitutional or moral right to jail America. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • "America Is Paying the Price for the NYC SuperSpreader"--American Greatness. New York and New Jersey are responsible for half of the coronavirus cases in the United States. "So while Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio desperately scramble to contain the outbreak they not only failed to prevent but perpetuated with some of their public statements as the virus took hold, the rest of the country is being punished for their arrogance, incompetence, and petulance."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hypertension was the most common ailment, affecting 53% of coronavirus patients. Another 42% of patients who had a body mass index on file were obese and 32% of all patients had diabetes. Data from 2,634 patients who either died or were discharged from the hospital showed that 12% were on ventilators and that 88% of those on ventilators died.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • "The Coming End of The United States"--Wilder, Wealthy & Wise. John Wilder discusses the general cycles of civilizations and empires and applies it to the United States. An excerpt:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              With the Empire past its peak, the wealth is used to create decadence.  Focus is on material goods, and religion declines across the Empire.  Since the focus is on wealth, the welfare state forms – Romans had bread and circuses, we have EBT and Netflix®.  Historically, foreign peoples from across the Empire stream towards the original culture.  Why?  Again, the focus is on material goods and not a cohesive society.  Why would a Greek want to leave Greece for Rome?  ...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               And as the focus grows on material goods, the originality of the goods disappears.  Art becomes a cynical mechanism of control and a means to harvest cash.  The remake of the original is remade or rebooted to once again drag the culture for profits.  ...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 An example of that is Spain after the conquest of the New World.  Spain found itself with immense wealth in gold.  How much wealth?  So much that the Spaniards decided that they didn’t want to do the day-to-day things in life, and drew workers in from all across Europe to Do The Jobs Spaniards Wouldn’t Do.  So much gold flew into Europe that it changed the exchange rate and wrecked the market for gold.  After a century of such luxury, the Spaniards ceased to be the conquistadors that boldly conquered a continent with grit and bravado and became a culture that complained when the Dutch help didn’t peel the grapes correctly.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   As an example, in one park I found a cannon seized from a Spanish warship during the Spanish-American War.  I looked at the engraving on the cannon – it was beautiful.  But this cannon, taken from the Spanish in 1898, was actually forged in 1780 or so.  The United States was using cannon that were state of the art and sophisticated, with more than a century of technological advances on the Spanish.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This is especially an issue for those who live in apartment buildings. Every top building in the city has banned personal staff and reduced building workers to the bare minimum — usually just the doorman and super.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        “That stay-at-home mom who has a housekeeper and chef has had to let them go. Now they’re doing the diapers, putting the kids to sleep and making dinner,” says Philip Scheinfeld, a broker at Compass who grew up in a prominent Upper East Side building. “I’m sure Bravo would love to start filming these ladies. It would make a great show.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Left on their own for the first time, bosses are learning exactly what the hell it is that their employees do.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The really wealthy, however, are not going without--they are just making their help go without:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Peter Mahler, the head of a private staffing agency, tells the Wall Street Journal that roughly 40 percent of his clients are quarantining with staff and paying them top dollar to do so — typically a 30 percent pay bump. Martha Stewart is reportedly isolating with her driver, housekeeper and gardener at her Bedford mansion.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “A lot of these high net worth individuals have in-person housekeepers, cleaning ladies and chefs still in their homes,” says an Upper East Sider who is hiding out in Amagansett. “If they let the housekeeper go home for the weekend, they could contract the virus and bring it back. So people who have live-in help are keeping them there. If staff do say, ‘Hey, we want to go back to our families,’ the answer is, ‘Fine, but you can’t come back until this is over.’ So people are having to make a decision: ‘Do I want to see my family, or do I want to continue to work and make money?’ It’s tough.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Collapse of Evergrande?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Last Tuesday I wrote about the developing crisis around the Chinese real estate development and investment firm, Evergrande , and the risk i...