Sunday, October 31, 2021

VIDEO: "Demographic Winter; Demography is Our Destiny"

VIDEO: "Demographic Winter; Demography is Our Destiny"--Steve Smoot (47 min.)
This video appears to be by one of those who helped produce the "Demographic Winter" documentary, and adds some additional details and discussion. 

Friday, October 29, 2021

New Weekend Knowledge Dump ...

 ... from Greg Ellifritz at Active Response Training. So, here are the articles and/or comments from Greg that stuck out for me:

  • First up is an article from Bearing Arms that reports that Philadelphia area police are considering filing criminal charges against some of the people that witnessed (and recorded) video of the recent rape of a female commuter by a homeless man. The article that is the root of the story, from the New York Post, included this comment: "'I’m appalled by those who did nothing to help this woman,' [Upper Darby police Superintendent Timothy] Bernhardt told the Times. 'Anybody that was on that train has to look in the mirror and ask why they didn’t intervene or why they didn’t do something.'"

    After the incident happened, I noted that no one intervened because (a) they didn't want to appear racist by taking action against a black man, (b) they were unarmed since concealed carry is illegal, and (c) they risked criminal and/or civil liability. Ellifritz concurs as to the latter point, as he comments:

    Lots of folks who have intervened in violent crimes recently have been either sued or criminally charged. Now police/prosecutors are considering filing charges against witnesses of this rape for NOT intervening.

    The system is rigged against you. You can’t win. Any path you take exposes you to civil or criminal liability. The only way to win the game is to avoid playing.

    I’m way less likely to be sued or prosecuted when I’m enjoying an adult beverage in my backyard hammock than I would be riding a crowded subway train or going out for drinks at my favorite bar.

    Spending time privately with the people you love seems to make more and more sense every day.

The Bearing Arms article also raises the Kitty Genovese incident where neighbors supposedly did nothing as she was stabbed to death outside an apartment building in New York. Except the Genovese incident is mostly fiction. Neighbors alerted police, but no one knew what had happened or even if there had been a victim because Genovese had gone into a vestibule to the building and so no one (even the police that responded) knew where she was. I've written about the Genovese incident a couple of time (see here and here). 

  • Greg also links to an article from Recoil discussing the importance of shooting practice ammo that matches your carry ammo's point of impact, recoil and flash, and so on. A couple companies have produced practice ammo that matches their defensive loads (Winchester’s Train & Defend and Federal's Practice & Defend) but, as the article notes, good luck finding any in the current ammo shortage. The article goes on to note that reloaders might be able to cook something up that closely mimics their carry ammo. But even if you don't go that far, there is at least two things you can do: (i) use practice ammo that has the same bullet weight as your defensive ammunition (e.g., if your 9 mm defensive ammo is 124 or 125 grain, don't practice with 115 grain), and (ii) don't use the cheapest plinking ammo you can find for practice because they are generally underloaded as to the powder charge and often use poor quality bullets that will shoot very differently from your defensive ammo or better quality practice ammo. I had a particularly ugly experience years ago with some blue-box Mag-Tech pistol ammo that I picked up; the only thing consistent about it was the key-holing. 
  • Another article included is from Swift-Silent-Deadly on how to become a tactical renaissance man like James Bond,  Jason Bourne, or MacGyver. I was pleasantly surprised to note that I've read about a quarter of the books on the list. 
  • Greg also links to a Shooting Illustrated article on carrying in an office, including the results of tests of different carry styles. Interestingly, pocket carry (even without the hand already in the pocket) was the fastest--much faster than even AIWB with a concealing garment. Drawing from a day planner was almost neck and neck with AIWB.
  • Greg observes that "Federal Flight control and Hornady Critical Defense (also called 'Black' or 'TAP') pattern better than any other 00 buckshot loads on the market." Unfortunately, it is also difficult to find--even before the current ammo shortage, in my experience. But he links to a review of Herter’s 8 Pellet Low Recoil Buckshot that indicates that it patterns pretty well.
  • Greg mentions that he is currently reading the book, A Pipe Hitter's Guide to Crushing the Coming Societal Breakdown by Nicholas Orr. I just finished it earlier this week and had planned on posting a review in the near future. But the basics are this: it is a short read and I liked it because it fills a gap between normal individual firearms defensive training and the more advanced team tactics you see in books from the tactical trainers (e.g., Max Velocity) by providing some basic drills and exercises to learn to work together as a team. 
There is, of course, a lot more there so be sure to check out Greg's full post.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Article: "Judge Rules Rittenhouse Prosecutors Can't Call Men He Shot 'Victims' and Liberals Aren't Happy"

 Townhall reports that Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder, who is presiding over the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, has ruled that the prosecutor cannot refer to the men who attacked Rittenhouse as "victims," but has also ruled that the defense can describe those same men using terms such as "rioter," "looter," or "arsonist".

The Straw Man Argument In Action

    Greg Ellifritz recently linked to an article from Rolling Stone called "Why We’re Living in the Age of Fear." It is an interesting look at fear and anxiety, the difference between the two, and how politicians, corporations, and others gain power or make their money by influencing and increasing our anxiety. It also briefly discusses the concept of  "the 'law of group polarization,' which states that if like-minded people are concerned about an issue, their views will become more extreme after discussing it together."  And, best of all, the article reminds us that in many ways we are living in the safest period of human history (something I tried to bring up in a Sunday School class recently, citing to the book Angels Of Our Better Nature, and was literally shouted down by a couple people).

    However, the article is also an example of the straw man argument (or fallacy). "The basic structure of the argument consists of Person A making a claim, Person B creating a distorted version of the claim (the 'straw man'), and then Person B attacking this distorted version in order to refute Person A’s original assertion." For instance, the article uses as its main example an older gentleman who supposedly became brainwashed listening to conservative radio, and holing up "for three hours every day in the family kitchen, mainlining Rush Limbaugh and, during commercials, Fox News." The article continues:

    “It reminded me of the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” Senko says. “He used to love talking to different people to try to learn their language, but then he became angry about illegal immigrants coming to the country, that they were taking jobs from Americans, and that English was becoming the secondary language.”

The article adds:

    Senko’s claim that her father was brainwashed by Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and Bob Grant isn’t just anecdotal. There is hard evidence of her father’s transformation from a sweet, passive man to an angry, argumentative ideologue in Senko’s documentary about him, The Brainwashing of My Dad. In some scenes, he is so angry, the viewer feels sorry for him – and concerned for his health. “It was almost like he’d joined a cult or had a new religion,” Senko recalls. “He became enraged and unreachable.”

    She believes the tactics used by right-wing hosts, combined with her father’s independent streak, caused his shift. “As human beings, when listening alone for long periods of time, we are susceptible to being swayed by a confident voice speaking authoritatively, especially if it’s the only thing you consume,” she says. “So they would say things that provoked my dad to anger and indignation, and once that got going, he’d stop thinking rationally.”

    Eventually, Senko’s dad became someone his family and she couldn’t recognize. He’d get apoplectic on a regular basis about his new beliefs that “most black people were on welfare and that there was too much government; that global warming was a hoax and ‘Al Gore was an asshole’; and that he should be head of the household and his wife should wait on him. He even joined the NRA, although he never owned or used a gun. Everything was antithetical to how he was before.”

The author also reassures his liberal readers:

    Senko is not alone. A California schoolteacher says her marriage fell apart after her husband started watching Fox News and yelling about government plots to take away his guns and freedom. On the left, my friend Phoebe has had to physically remove her mom, who she describes as a “Sam Seder news junkie,” from family functions for raging against relatives about the “dark place” this country is going to.

Later on, the author meets up with a group of Trump supporters and briefly discusses some of the issues they are anxious about, focusing on those fears revolving around immigration. 

    The article then moves into a discussion of how encounters with death or danger makes people more conservative, relating:

    Psychologists George Bonanno and John Jost studied 9/11 survivors and witnesses. They discovered that those exposed to the attack became more politically conservative, embracing ideologies that “provide relatively simple yet cognitively rigid solutions (e.g., good versus evil, black versus white, us versus them, leader versus follower) to problems of security and threat.”

    But, despite this, the political shift didn’t improve their overall state of mind. “On the contrary,” Bonanno and Jost concluded, “political conservatism, right-wing authoritarianism and conservative shift were generally associated with the following: chronically elevated levels of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, desire for revenge and militarism, cynicism and decreased use of humor.”

    Delving deeper, Jost and his students recently went through more than 100 studies by researchers all over the world, involving more than 350,000 participants, and found similar results. “People who perceive the world as a more dangerous place in terms of crime, disease and terrorism are more likely to be conservative,” says Jost. “And exposure to a terrorist attack – whether it is in the U.S., England, Spain, Germany or Israel – is a significant predictor of a conservative shift.” In other words, it’s not just America: It’s Brexit, with its slogan of “Take back control of our borders.” And it’s the ascendency of anti-immigrant politicians around the Western world, from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orb├ín to Austrian presidential candidate Norbert Hofer to French National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who compared Muslims praying in the street to the Nazi occupation.

    Several of Jost’s conclusions are consistent with a concept that is key to understanding the factionalism, tribalism and nationalism of today: “terror management theory.” One of the most important ideas in social psychology of the past three decades, it is predicated on the notion that as adult human beings, we have a desire to live, yet we know that – at a time and by a cause unknown to us – we are going to die.

    To manage this existential anxiety, we embrace a cultural worldview that provides us with order, meaning, importance and, ultimately, self-esteem. The effectiveness of this strategy depends on the agreement of others who share our beliefs. Meanwhile, the existence of other people with beliefs and values that differ from our own can subtly undermine the protection this worldview provides. So, according to the theory, when these beliefs are threatened, we will go to great lengths to preserve and defend them.

    University of Colorado psychology professor Tom Pyszczynski, one of the three researchers who came up with terror management theory in 1986 and co-author of The Worm at the Core: The Role of Death in Life, believes that this concept explains the right-wing extremism in this election cycle. “I suggest that one of the things frightening them is the de-whitening of America,” Pyszczynski continues. “I don’t think people are afraid of illegal immigrants committing crimes against them – but they’re bothered by certain kinds of immigrants diluting the whiteness of the country and the American identity that people get their sense of security from. The idea of ‘taking our country back’ after having a black president is a prime example of that.”

    And that is the rub: although the author throws out a sop by listing a couple anxieties associated with the political Left, the vast majority of the examples are from the political Right. Senco's father is the author's straw man; the rest of the article is using that example to paint the Right as deranged and its concern on issues as "illogical".  So, while ostensibly an article on the science of how fear and anxiety can be used to manipulate us and can negatively affect us, the article is actually just another attack on the Right and to ridicule and belittle issues espoused by the Right, whatever their merit. The article uses the very same tactics it decries to make its readers anxious about those holding view points associated with the Right.

    So, for instance, the article spends considerable time on "fears" of immigration, painting it as irrational. Yet, whether or not a particular person's "fears" of immigration may be because they are xenophobic or hate other races, that does not mean that there are not rational arguments against permitting mass immigration. For one, as has been demonstrated again and again in history and backed up by the law of supply and demand, mass immigration reduces and/or stagnates wages. At one time, the Democrats and labor leaders actually espoused this as a reason to limit immigration. Studies have also shown that illegal immigration costs society more in police and social welfare costs than is provided through increased taxes recovered from those same immigrants. Crime statistics show that Hispanics (the majority of immigrants), while having a lower violent crime rate than blacks, still have much higher crime rates than non-Hispanic whites. And it has been demonstrated that ethnic diversity reduces social capital. This isn't a matter of "anxiety" but demonstrable facts. Thus, it is rational to oppose mass immigration.

    In any event, the science in the article is interesting, and I think the article is useful in that respect (even if the study that found that cops were faster to shoot blacks than whites was an outlier and not supported by subsequent studies). It is also useful as an example of the methods used to influence anxiety and reinforce group (in this case, Leftist) bias and to test your critical thinking skills.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

The Docent's Memo (October 26, 2021)--Updated

 

Firearms/Shooting/Self-Defense:

It was at the American Pistol Institute that Cooper developed the modern technique of the pistol. This was his system for pistol combat. Without knowing what it's called or who invented it, much of it will seem familiar to you:
  • Large caliber, semi-automatic pistol: Cooper was an early advocate of the 1911 and a big caliber to go in it. At a time when most men favored wheel guns, Cooper believed there was simply no substitute for a semi-automatic with a big round like a .45 ACP.
  • The Weaver stance: Opinions vary on the best stance for combat, but Cooper was a strong supporter of the Weaver stance, developed by Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff Jack Weaver through his experiences in competitive shooting.
  • The draw stroke: Cooper preached the importance of the draw stroke. A holstered weapon doesn't do anyone any good. So Cooper drilled his students to consistently practice drawing their weapon with perfect form to be combat-ready.
  • The flash sight picture: Just as a holstered weapon is useless until drawn, so too is a weapon useless if not pointed in the right direction. The flash sight picture is a method of quickly targeting an attacker with sufficient accuracy. It is essential in life-or-death situations.
  • The compressed surprise trigger break: Considered the "secret" of quick and accurate shooting, the compressed surprise trigger break, which is a somewhat more sophisticated version of the "double tap." While Cooper did not invent the double tap, he systematized the training for such.
All of the above are basic combat training for civilians, military, and law enforcement alike. While Cooper didn't "invent" any of it, per se, he synthesized previously existing methods into a cohesive program of combat readiness just about anyone could learn.

Update:  Marcus Wynne has pointed out that the above quotation muddies the water as to what is a double-tap and what is a compressed trigger break. That is, a double tap is two aimed shots fired in rapid succession utilizing the compressed surprised trigger break; but the compressed surprise trigger break, itself, is the practice of pressing the trigger slowly and smoothly so that you are surprised by the shot (i.e. not anticipating the break). He recommended this article for more info: "Compressed Surprise Break: The Secret of Fast and Accurate Shooting" by Dave Campbell, American Rifleman.

    When I conceived the rifle, I wanted to explore the concept of somebody who is reasonably handy with tools building a precision rifle on the kitchen table or in the basement. I wanted an economy “bolt-together” rifle, with the idea to customize it with select parts and gear while staying within a working-man’s budget. The other important thing is it must shoot well enough to earn the title Precision Rifle.

The author began with a Savage 110 rifle due to the ease of replacing the barrel, added a precision chassis and barrel, topped off with a muzzle brake, with the total build coming in at right about $1,400--which I guess is "budget" if you are comparing it to a custom built rifle. In any event, there are other tools and a few other upgrades he recommends. If you are starting off with a Remington action, there is a company that offers a "Remage" conversion to allow you to use a barrel nut like that used for the Savage to make it easier to install (or replace) the barrel

    No need to go top shelf out of the gates. Invest in the right precision rifle upgrades you can take a base model and go the distance.

    What Are The Main Precision Rifle Upgrades You Should Focus On:

  • Trigger
  • Stocks
  • Bipods
  • Barrels

    I look at my rifles like a 350 Chevy—tons of aftermarket parts and the ability to modify it to my heart’s content. I have no problem replacing, modifying and adjusting the weapon system to meet my personal needs. After all, everyone is different; our needs change, so adjusting the rifle to fit the mission is essential in my mind.

    I have a lot of videos on YouTube that demonstrate this very fact. If you look at the comment section, you’d think nobody ever burned out a barrel or decided to change a factory stock. Sure, I tend to modify the rifles all at once versus over time. But I have the luxury of access (getting precision rifle upgrades for me is very easy). I’m not saying you have to change everything all at once— heavens, no. You can make any amount of changes over time, so let’s look at the top-line elements that don’t require a gunsmith.

  • Q: "What is the Greatest Defensive Skill?" by Sherriff Jim Wilson, Shooting Illustrated. A: heightened awareness.
  • "Skill Set: Post-Event Problems – Interviews and Reports" by Rich Grassi at The Tactical Wire. This article is about "post-operational disturbances of the physical and psychological sort," that "may have an impact on 'the story' you tell – and your credibility." A common one is time distortion--“tachypsychia” (the “speed of the mind”)--which can be a sense of everything happening in slow motion or its opposite, that everything happened too fast to perceive. There is also auditory exclusion, tunnel vision, and cognitive dissonance: "a cascade of information that jumbles the re-telling of the tale. This can present – and often does – as recalling the individual events of the encounter in a different order from which they happened." 
    Cognitive dissonance can also appear as an apparent over-concern with a trivial matter that occurred during a critical incident. The story often told is of an officer who’d been in a fight for his life that ended with the death of his attacker. The officer, shaken and injured, looked down and touched the knee of the rather expensive uniform trousers which had been ripped in the fight.

    “Damn,” he was reported to have said. “It’s hard enough to get uniforms out of this outfit and now I lost another pair of pants.”

    To say that while standing in proximity of the corpse of the person you had to kill so you could stay alive could be – and likely will be – repeated in a way to make you appear a callous SOB.

    These psycho-physiological changes affect your perception of the event – but don’t affect the crime scene. The apparent inconsistencies they create can affect your credibility throughout the phases of investigation.

Read the whole thing. 

    But due to consolidation within the industry, only a couple of incumbent companies have that ability to make it through low-demand periods. When demand surges, they are no longer forced to produce, but can focus instead on “efficiencies.” They can raise prices and generate shortages, knowing that no one else exists to meet the demand that they cannot or will not fill.

    Such refusals to invest in increased capacity can clearly be seen as Vista’s plan over the last few years. According to their annual reports, Vista is focused on “long-term shareholder value,” and when they have influxes of cash, they acquire more companies that “deliver top-line growth … within one year of purchase.” They do not build more plants, even though they project more long-term increased demand; building a plant to increase capacity is a long-term project, one that does not return a profit in a year, much less a quarter.
I’ve got good news for you, ladies and gents. The good folks at Ruger have done one even better than the P365 in the LCP MAX. If you need a smaller, lighter-shooting round than the P365’s 9mm, the Ruger LCP MAX gives you a gun that weighs 40% less, is 20% thinner and with a half-inch less in overall length. It will cost you about 33% less on the credit card, too.
    If you aren't familiar with the incident, last Thursday while on the set of a Western he is shooting, Baldwin was practicing a cross-draw and pointing a revolver at the camera when he apparently cocked the hammer and pulled the trigger, shooting cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and director Joel Souza. "Hutchins was wounded in the chest then 'stumbled backwards, holding her mid-section and complaining she couldn't feel her legs', according to witnesses who were interviewed by sheriff's deputies afterwards. She was airlifted to the hospital but was pronounced dead a short time later. Souza was released from the hospital on Thursday night."

    Purportedly, Assistant Director Dave Halls handed Baldwin the gun, claiming it was "a cold gun". The armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, is described as being inexperienced. This was her first film as the head armorer. Apparently Gutierrez-Reed had a history of failing to check weapons: on the set of the upcoming Nicholas Cage film, “The Old Way”, she had handed an unchecked firearm to an 11-year old actress temporarily halting shooting.

    Sources indicate that the film crew had walked off set days before the incident because of complaints about the hours, working conditions, paychecks, and safety measures

    Safety protocols standard in the industry, including gun inspections, were not strictly followed on the “Rust” set near Santa Fe, the sources said. They said at least one of the camera operators complained last weekend to a production manager about gun safety on the set.

    Three crew members who were present at the Bonanza Creek Ranch set on Saturday said they were particularly concerned about two accidental prop gun discharges.

    Baldwin’s stunt double accidentally fired two rounds Saturday after being told that the gun was “cold” — lingo for a weapon that doesn’t have any ammunition, including blanks — two crew members who witnessed the episode told the Los Angeles Times.

    “There should have been an investigation into what happened,” the crew member said. “There were no safety meetings. There was no assurance that it wouldn’t happen again. All they wanted to do was rush, rush, rush.”

    A colleague was so alarmed by the prop gun misfires that he sent a text message to the unit production manager. “We’ve now had 3 accidental discharges. This is super unsafe,” according to a copy of the message reviewed by The Times.

But there is more. The New York Post reported:

    The prop gun that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on a New Mexico movie set had been used by crew members offsite for fun, a new report claims.

    The gun, which was fired by Alec Baldwin on the set of the movie “Rust,” may have even been loaded with live rounds when it was used for what was essentially target practice, TMZ reported.

    Multiple sources connected to the production of the film told TMZ that the gun was fired at off-the-clock gatherings – which could explain how a live round found its way into the gun’s chamber.

Prepping/Survival:

  • "How we found our remote backwoods home"--Backwoods Home Magazine. This is a couple that had no real restrictions on where they could live, so they were trying to purchase homes in Alaska and British Columbia, before finally being able to get into a small house in rural Montana.
  • "Firewood for Survival – What You Should Know" by Tim Makay, Modern Survival Online. The author briefly discusses how important fires have been throughout human history, before moving on to his topic. The first thing he notes is that "[e]ven cut to the same size and seasoned for the same length of time, different species of wood can behave very differently when it comes to such characteristics as: Ignition temperature; Heat output; Smoke produced; Longevity; and Spitting, sparking and popping." Makay lists the best and worst firewood: black locust, hickory and white oak top his list of best; while the worst includes elm, aspen, and pine. I would also throw poplar into the "worst" category because it burns quickly, has low heat output, and is actually sort of stinky when it burns. On the other hand, it a great wood for getting a fire started because it burns so easily. Anyway, the article goes on to discuss whether you can burn green wood, how to cut and split wood, proper storage, and the legality of gathering wood. 
    • Related: "What Size Should You Split Your Firewood?" by Tim Makay, Modern Survival Online. Makay goes into detail on the subject, but his short take is: "For most applications, you’ll get the best results from your firewood if split into lengths measuring 12 to 14 inches long (30 to 35 cm), and three to five inches (7 – 12 cm) wide at its widest point."
  • "Real Life Survival Stories: The Mystery of The Third Man Factor"--Organic Prepper. This piece relates several instances of a not uncommon phenomena of people in an emergency receiving what appears to be miraculous assistance from "someone" whether it be a small, still voice they hear internally, what appears to be an audible voice, or, in some cases, a person that provides physical assistance, but disappears or can't be found later, generally not seen by anyone else. You might have experienced the intervention of a "guardian angel" yourself, or perhaps there is a family story. If you know of any, write them down so you can share with others in your family.


VIDEO: "Drug Companies Don’t Fund The Media! Stop Asking!"--Awaken With JP (10 min.)

Covid News:

  • The Othering: "Netflix Normalizes Violence Against the Unvaccinated" by Connor Tomlinson, The American Spectator (h/t Anonymous Conservative). Netflix apparently has a serial-killer/vigilante program called You where the protagonist hunts down criminals and other non-desirables. In this most recent season, according to Tomlinson, the protagonist seeks out an anti-vaxxer (meningitis not Covid, but you get the idea), whose failure to vaccinate his son has put the protagonist's son at risk. 

    As a man who’s had his MMR jabs, I was very uncomfortable watching the disturbing trend of world leaders’ anti-unvaccinated rhetoric translated into glorified violence in popular culture. President Biden and the Australian premier have blamed breakthrough cases on “a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” Scotland, Wales, Italy, and France have introduced vaccine passports to access nightclubs, bars, and restaurants. Citizens of Canada, Queensland, and New York, as well as U.S. federal employees are threatened with unemployment due to vaccine mandates. The worldwide trend of authoritarian action in pursuit of an impossible zero-COVID utopia is instituting medical apartheid, at great profit to manufacturers with a history of unethical testing practices.

    The logic of the married murders is that Gil deserves to die because he “put [their] son at risk.” With the show making mention of lockdowns, this appeal to collective responsibility goes for more than just the MMR vaccines. You breaks the fourth wall to accuse its unvaccinated viewers of being walking bioweapons, despite the infinitesimal statistical risk COVID poses to healthy children. In fact, side-effects like heart palpitations from Pfizer and Moderna have caused pauses in usage in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland. When You’s writers conflate concerns about COVID vaccines with skepticism of the safety of long-term-tested MMRs and the endangerment of children, they overplay their disingenuous hand.

VIDEO: "Port System Collapse: What to Expect Next"--City Prepper (19 min.)

Supply Chain Issues

    Food shortages were reported to be spiking across the country Tuesday as President Joe Biden struggles to resolve the supply chain crises crippling the nation.

    “People are hoarding [food],” CEO and founder of Saffron Road, a producer of frozen and shelf-stable meals,  Adnan Durrani told the Seattle Times. “What I think you’ll see over the next six months, all prices will go higher.”

    He spoke as evidence shows food costs have dramatically risen since 2020 with meats, poultry, fish and eggs increasing by 10.5 percent.

    The increasing food costs have impacted the ability of suppliers to meet the demands of retailers. Durrani warned he is “keeping about four months’ supply on hand instead of the typical one or two months.”

    In Denver, public-school children are facing shortages of milk. In Chicago, a local market is running short of canned goods and boxed items.

    But there’s plenty of food. There just isn’t always enough processing and transportation capacity to meet rising demand as the economy revs up.

    More than a year and a half after the coronavirus pandemic upended daily life, the supply of basic goods at U.S. grocery stores and restaurants is once again falling victim to intermittent shortages and delays.

    “I never imagined that we’d be here in October 2021 talking about supply-chain problems, but it’s a reality,” said Vivek Sankaran, chief executive officer of Albertsons Companies, who echoed the laments of other retailers. “Any given day, you’re going to have something missing in our stores, and it’s across categories.”

    Procter & Gamble, for example, announced that many of its prices will rise in the coming weeks since the cost of raw materials remains high, according to the Post. The company owns huge brands like Tide, Gillette and Crest.

    “We do not anticipate any easing of costs,” P&G chief financial officer Andre Schulten said. “We continue to see increases week after week, though at a slower pace.”

    The Post cited an interview Schulten gave to The Wall Street Journal, though the WSJ appears to have removed that specific quote.

    And this is not P&G’s first announcement of a price hike. Back in April, the company warned that many paper products would begin costing more, including essentials such as tampons, diapers and paper towels.

    And other corporate giants such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and General Mills have warned buyers throughout the year that costs will keep going up, according to CNBC.

    These costs keep climbing in the aftermath of the economic disruption of COVID-19, and now everyone is suffering from inflation.

    Right now, the mass congestion of empty containers is monopolizing space in nearby truck lots, blocking filled containers from getting moved, and crippling efficiency.

    In order to fetch a new order at the port, trucks must first return their previously-used container to the steamships – but with space at a premium, cargo operators are refusing to accept the empty containers.

    ‘What we’re seeing in [Long Beach and L.A.] is really an issue around productivity, not necessarily a lack of drivers,’ Schrap told DailyMail.com.

    ‘It’s a function of our inability to return empty containers back into the port to pull the important loads off the docks.’

    The empty containers aren’t just taking up space.

    They’re also preventing truckers from freeing up their chassis, a piece of equipment necessary to wheel loads of cargo onto modular trailers for delivery. 

    ‘It is extremely inefficient,’ Schrap said. ‘We are essentially moving containers around for the operational needs of the steamship lines and not being compensated for it.’ 

    To top it off, ship operators are charging trucking companies – stuck with storing the equipment on their own lots - a per diem (daily levy) of $40-to-$50 for failing to return them on time, Schrap said.

    ‘We have to be accountable for them if they're in our possession,’ he said. ‘We just have nowhere to keep them. So that's why they're literally on streets and they’re being graffiti tagged because they're sitting out there.’

The article continues:

    Governor Gavin Newsom on October 20 signed an executive order directing state agencies to find ways to alleviate congestion at the ports, including by identifying state-owned properties and other locations that could be used for storage.

    While TGS Logistics Inc chief operations officer Robert Loya welcomed the news, he said it wasn’t clear who would pay for storing the empty containers, or whether trucking companies would still be on the hook for per diems.

    ‘Will they take them off the chassis? Are they going to take the containers and put them on the ground so we can use the chassis?’ Loya told DailyMail.com. ‘There’s a lot of things that need to be worked out, and fingers are going to be pointing about who’s going to pay.’

    He said the extra operating costs being brought on by the steamships has driven some small trucking businesses out of business.

    ‘We operate on razor-thin margins,’ Loya said. ‘These small American companies are going under because these big foreign entity steamship lines are controlling the port and controlling our economy.

    ‘It's a shame.’

    The supply chain crisis is one unseen since World War II when 'there were submarines sinking commercial traders,' an expert has warned.

    And it's bringing disaster for shoppers as items are being resold for more than double their cost and shipping delays mean more barren shelves.

    First, containers that arrive at their destinations have to wait to be emptied, because warehouse space is limited and distribution channels are already overloaded.  ...  However, the supply pipeline that delivered it is still clogged with more containers being delivered.  How is the now-empty container to be returned for another load?

    That's a lot more complicated than it sounds.  Logically, one would expect that the next rail car or truck to offload its incoming containers would simply be reloaded with empty containers and sent back to a seaport.  However, there's such a backlog that those rail cars and trucks may have to sit, loaded, waiting for days, weeks or even months before they can be offloaded.  While they're sitting there, they can't carry more containers.  They've effectively been removed from the pool of available vehicles.  The untold thousands of empty containers awaiting return therefore can't be picked up - they have to sit and wait.  That creates immense storage problems for receiving depots and warehouses, which have dozens, or hundreds, or even thousands of empty containers filling all available space, preventing them from taking delivery of more incoming containers.

    What's more, when a rail car or truck eventually becomes available, it may be nowhere near where the empty containers are waiting.  It might have to be sent back to the port very urgently, to collect the next shipment of incoming containers, even though that may mean leaving empty containers behind.  Time (in the form of storage fees for full containers, costs to distributors and retailers through delays in getting their products to market, etc.) may be more expensive than the price of a container these days.  If the vehicle is forced to wait to collect empties, some shippers are now adding surcharges to their rates to pay for the delay costs, plus the missed opportunity to load up with better-paying full containers.  In so many words, the longer a container remains at a distributor, the more it costs them in storage space, and the more it costs them to get rid of it.  They can't win.

    That also affects US factories and producers waiting for containers to load products for export.  The overloaded road and rail networks can't cope with their present burden.  When you add to that the need to ship an empty container from receiving warehouse A to manufacturer B, to be loaded there and then shipped to port C, you're adding in an extra leg of the journey - and there may not be enough vehicles available to cope with that.  They're all overloaded just dealing with the present situation, without any extra legs.  Hence, US manufacturers are complaining they're being short-changed because they can't get the empty containers they need.

    When the empty containers finally get back to a port, the harbor is faced with the dilemma of where to put them if there's no ship on which to load them. ...

Read the whole thing. 

 

Miscellany:

    Last week, Australian singer Clinton Kane posted on social media that robbers made off with more than $30,000 worth of camera equipment after they broke into his SUV, which was parked on the street while he and his crew dined nearby.

    They rushed over when they heard glass breaking and the robbers pointed guns at them.

    'They all pulled guns on us, it was two and two of my mates,' he told KGO-TV.

    'It was very weird, it was very scary having a gun held to my face.

    'I had so much adrenaline and confusions and shock and fear...I peed my pants. Not actually but in my head I was.'

    Kane, whose hit song I Guess I'm In Love has been streamed more than 100 million times, was visiting San Francisco to film a music video. He joked that he would not be returning to the city, though he insisted he would come back to perform a concert in December.

    But he says he doesn't plan on bringing anything expensive.
    Chicago is the latest city to be hit by rampant shoplifting and its Magnificent Mile, the once highly-populated retail destination, is now dotted with empty storefronts as businesses are being driven away by the brazen thieves.

    The city has been plagued by a string of robberies and a wave of crime in the past few months, as some say that the city's 'soft-on-crime' policies embolden the thieves. The issue may only grow worse as at least 50 cops have been put on unpaid leave for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

    Shoplifting cases grew more common following a December 2016 motion from State's Attorney Kim Foxx that mandated Chicago prosecutors only issue felony charges for theft of property over $1,000.
    When the stuff we want is so hard to get ahold of, why go to such great lengths to buy it? Consumers have the option to not order items manufactured overseas, to source things locally from small businesses or artisans. We also have a choice that eliminates the potential for shipping or supply chain mishaps: We can just buy less.

    We know that our collective consumption of consumer goods, from the creation of plastic toys to the fossil fuels that ship them to our homes, isn’t good for the environment. Yes, on a consumer level, our ability to control resource consumption is minimal, but that doesn’t mean there’s no good in a holiday season where gift exchanges don’t require an Amazon Prime account or transit via multiple shipping containers. Mindfulness has its own benefits, especially for affluent consumers, which includes America’s upper-middle class. The higher-income consumers among us use far more resources than the less well-off and are responsible for influencing shopping norms at large.
    In a stark assessment of its current state of trading, Evergrande said it had sold only 405,000 square metres of real estate throughout September and October so far - normally a peak period for sales.
 
    Contracted property sales totalled just 3.65 billion yuan ($571 million) - a near collapse on the 142 billion yuan it recorded in a similar period last year.
          Chinese developer Modern Land became the latest company to miss a bond payment, indicating that the country's property market remains in turmoil. 
       
          The Beijing-based developer, which is listed in Hong Kong, said in a statement on Tuesday that it had failed to repay a $250 million dollar bond that matured on October 25. 
       
          Modern Land blamed the missed payment on an unexpected cash crunch arising from a number of factors "including the macroeconomic environment, the real estate industry environment and the COVID-19 pandemic."
          The first test was disclosed earlier this week, when the FT quoted five intelligence sources who said that China had tested what appeared to be an orbital hypersonic nuclear missile some time in early or mid-August. 

          Beijing subsequently acknowledged the test, but said it had taken place on July 16. Intelligence sources now believe the test which the FT initially reported and the test acknowledged by the Chinese are different.

          The newspaper now reports that the first test took place on July 27, before a second test of the same technology a little over two weeks later, on August 13.   

          Observers say the weapon appears to be an update of Cold War-era Soviet technology called a 'Fractional Orbital Bombardment System' - or FOBS.

          Soviets developed the technology to get around powerful US radar arrays designed to detect the launch of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) tipped with nukes, and defence systems designed to shoot them down.

          FOBS works by putting the nuclear warheads into a low-Earth orbit, allowing them to circle the globe and manoeuvre in flight before coming down on their targets.

          This makes the warheads harder to detect, track and destroy than those carried on board ICBMs. 

          China appears to have updated the concept by fitting the nuclear warhead on to a 'hypersonic glide vehicle', which is designed to travel faster and manoeuvre easier - making it even harder to stop.

          After the second test was disclosed, Hu Xijin - the editor of the state-owned Global Times newspaper - said the US needs to be 'rational' and accept the idea of 'mutually assured destruction'.

          'The US must abandon the crazy idea that it can strike China and Russia, but they can’t strike it,' Hu tweeted.

          However, he stopped short of confirming the test had taken place - describing it as 'speculation'.

          A follow-up editorial in the Global Times also stopped short of confirming the test, but said - if true - the development of hypersonic missiles would 'help contain the US strategic arrogance over China and further exclude the possibility that the US blackmails China with nuclear weapons.'

          The paper claims that US policy has been to develop nuclear weapons that will allow it to strike other nations while they cannot strike it - but calls this 'an unattainable mad idea' and says Washington must accept a reality in which all superpowers can strike one-another, describing it as a 'balance of nuclear terror'.

      The latter comments from Hu and the Global Times (the Chinese Pravda) are interesting. A weapon such as the Chinese are testing is not defensive, but is a first strike weapon ... unless China believes that the United States has a missile defense system capable of defending against a full-scale launch of missiles from Russia and/or China.  So, either China is completely lying about the "defensive" use of such weapons--and we know that China lies about nearly everything--or it is a tacit revelation that the U.S. has an effective ballistic missile shield.
          An analysis by Bloomberg on Knight's  fortune - estimated at $60 billion - discovered that he was able to take advantage of a financial tool called a grantor-retained annuity trust (GRAT). Knight set up nine GRATS, which enabled him to transfer $6.1 billion of Nike shares to loved-ones between 2009 and 2016 - without incurring any tax on them. 

          Gifts are taxable, but GRATS offer a loophole that allows the person who sets it up to designate others - such as heirs - as beneficiaries.

          Assets are then placed into GRATS, which repay their owner an annuity. If the value of a GRAT goes up, those gains can stay in the GRAT, with whatever is left then transferred to its beneficiaries - such as Knight's heirs - tax-free. 

          Knight has long-touted his commitment to eventually giving away all of his immense wealth to charity, but what lies beneath that promise is over a decade's worth of exploiting tax loopholes to inflate his fortune and pass it on to his heirs.

      Also:

          Another method that Knight has used includes charitable and split-interest charitable trusts, which can work similarly as GRATs in that they also give heirs the chance to profit on the trust's investments and are most effective when interest rates are low. 

          A major difference is that they must donate funds to a family foundation or another charity. According to IRS data, Knight already has one charitable trust, which contained assets worth $889 million in 2019.

          While your trust must donate to charity, the funds don't need to get there immediately and can flow in amounts you control. Knight has so far focused his philanthropy on a few places, including Stanford University, where he went to business school, and the University of Oregon, where he earned his undergraduate degree and ran track.

      The lesson here is that when you hear or read about a wealthy celebrity claiming that they won't be leaving an inheritance to their children, you should probably take such statements with a grain of salt.

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      The history of the Higgins Landing Craft.

      Bright Points:

          Unlike Hubble, which is just 340 miles above the Earth, JWST will orbit 930,000 miles from the Earth, in an orbit further from the sun than our planet. 

          It will sit in a point in space known as Lagrange point 2 (L2) where the gravitational force of the sun and Earth are balanced.

          After its launch, it will take about three days to reach lunar orbit, and another 27 days after that to get to its final orbit.

          When in position, it will peer deeper into the cosmos than possible with Hubble thanks to its larger mirror, which is 21ft in diameter compared to the 7.8ft mirror on Hubble. 

          However, JWST will focus more on the infrared wavelength, rather than visual light. 

          As well as giving astronomers the ability to see cosmic dawn (the birth of the very first stars 13.5 billion years ago), it will also reveal atmospheres of distant worlds.

      It will also likely spell the end of the Dark Matter charade, and maybe cause scientists to have to rethink much of what they thing they know about cosmology. 

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