Wednesday, December 15, 2021

The Docent's Memo (Dec. 15, 2021)


VIDEO: "Full Combat Setup - Best 'Bang-for-the-Buck' Edition"--Warrior Poet Society (19 min.)


    I will postulate that in certain circumstances, slugs are the clear choice.  If I was looking to defend myself against large, dangerous animals, I would choose a slug.  I would also use a slug if I were in a law enforcement capacity frequently dealing with armed felons in automobiles.  Slugs penetrate better through auto steel and car window glass than buckshot does.  I’d also use slugs if my engagement ranges were longer than 25 yards, I needed better accuracy with the shotgun, or I was dealing with criminals who wear soft body armor.

    But what about a standard home defense scenario?  Ranges tend to be short, I’m not likely to be attacked by marauding grizzlies, and I probably won’t be dealing with criminals in cars or wearing body armor.  Should I use slugs or buckshot? ...

Although Greg's study on defensive shootings showed that slugs had a 67% chance of an immediate incapacitation versus 54% for buckshot, he also notes that he included all incidents where buckshot was used and undoubtedly included incidents where only one or two pellets hit. He believes that a good center of mass strike from buckshot would have an incapacitation rate equal to or higher than a slug, explaining:

There isn’t much scientific research on the topic, but authors will occasionally talk about “neurogenic shock” as an additional incapacitation measure when someone is hit with multiple projectiles simultaneously.  Take a look at police shooting videos and you’ll see the phenomenon in action.  Look at how quickly the criminal suspect collapses when he is shot with multiple rounds from a single officer.  It’s almost always significantly slower than when a suspect is hit with a similar number of rounds fired by multiple officers simultaneously.

Greg notes a similar effect from full auto weapons; and, although I don't remember the source, I have read the same about multiple hits from a full auto weapon. 

  • "Self-Defense Awareness: What is Condition Orange?" by Sheriff Jim Wilson, NRA Family. Using Cooper's color code system, Orange lies between Yellow (relaxed awareness) and Red (acting on the threat, i.e., the fight is on) and represents when we become aware of a specific potential threat. I don't really like that Cooper combined Condition Black (using force) with Condition Red because it erases the distinction between, for instance, drawing a weapon and using the weapon. Think of this example: you are walking along the street engaged in the moment (condition yellow), when you see a man cut across the street at an angle to intercept you (condition orange), and as he approaches you see he has a bare knife tucked behind his wrist prompting you to draw your weapon (condition red) and shoot as he lunges at you (condition black). While red to black seems to be the natural progression, what if instead of lunging at you, the man sees you draw your weapon and backs up with his palms facing you? 
  • "The Deadly Danger Of Swords" by Mike McDaniel, The Truth About Guns. The author recounts several instances of individuals using swords to commit mayhem and murder, and comments:

    I’m dumbstruck because a Japanese sword—commonly known as a katana—is among the most deadly weapons ever devised. Anyone holding such a weapon and demonstrating the intention to use it, is a deadly threat at distances of as much as 30 feet/ten yards, and perhaps more depending on their skill level.

    Genuine katanas are very expensive, but even a cheap knock off, commonly available for only a few hundred dollars, is nearly as deadly, though not nearly as durable in the long term. Such weapons can easily, and with a single cut, amputate limbs or heads, or with a single cut virtually anywhere on the body, cause maiming, crippling, even death. In many ways, being cut by a Katana is more debilitating and potentially deadly than being shot. An effective cut can and will sever not only flesh and muscle, but tendons, ligaments and even bone, penetrating to and severing internal organs. A thrust by a Katana can be more damaging or deadly than being shot.

    Even idiots with no formal training in swordsmanship can easily mutilate or kill others with a single, poorly executed cut. Those that are trained and practiced are fully as deadly, perhaps even more so, than a well-trained handgun shooter within the engagement range of the sword, which again, is easily within 30 feet.

He continues:

How does a police officer—or anyone—recognize that a person wielding a katana poses an imminent threat of serious bodily injury or death? The mere sight of someone carrying a sheathed katana should be sufficient to cause an escalation beyond code yellow, but when their hand touches the grip of the weapon–just as with someone gripping a handgun–any officer should immediately draw their handgun and at the very least go to ready (weapon pointed in the direction of the threat, muzzle pointed downward, somewhat below the sightline). “Ready” is important, particularly at close range, because holding one’s handgun up so the sights are in use makes it difficult or impossible to see anything below that weapon. Drawing the weapon—drawing any sword—from its sheath/scabbard should immediately invoke an escalation to code red, and the slightest movement toward the officer must cause him to immediately shoot to stop the threat.

I will first state that the katana is the most overrated weapon in human history. It is heavy for its size due to the thick blade (itself due to the poor Japanese metallurgy of the time) and only retain their nimbleness due to the blade being shorter than swords from most every other cultures. Although McDaniel emphasizes its cutting ability, its real strength is the draw cut. In any event, swords are obviously deadly weapons with much greater reach than knives. And once you are within 10 feet or so of someone with a drawn sword of standard length (32 to 36 inch blade length), an experienced or trained swordsman can strike you with just a single movement. Thus the "Tueller" distance for a sword probably is about 30 feet.

    For those of you thinking of a sword in lieu of a firearm, the sword is still just a type of (long) knife, and we all know the saying about bringing a knife to a gunfight. It is certainly an option if you are in a jurisdiction where you cannot legally purchase a firearm, though.

    • Related: "Alternative Weapons For Preppers"--Survivalist Prepper. The author throws out some ideas of weapons other than firearms for preppers, including standards like bows, knives, pepper spray, expanding batons, and so forth, but also some less commonly discussed weapons such as spears, the atlatl, blow guns, walking sticks, and so on. The author doesn't really go into much discussion of each weapon, but I view the article more as a brainstorming exercise.
  • "18 Inch AR’s: The Barrel Length that God Forgot" by Clay Martin, Guns American Digest. The primary reason for choosing this barrel length, according to the author, is for its reduced recoil. He writes (underline added): 

    With the parts out of the way, why does an 18-inch recoil less than a 16 inch? Or does it even do so at a noticeable level? Yes, and the science here makes sense if you really think about it. Simplifying things just a bit, here is what happens with your AR 15 when the firing pin lights the primer. The bolt is locked closed. The round explodes, contained by the case, and slams the bullet into the barrel. The barrel is basically now plugged, with the hot expanding gasses of the burning powder pushing the bullet down the lands and grooves.

    If you look at AR 15 barrels, you will see them listed with 4 different lengths of gas system. Pistol, Carbine, Mid, and Rifle length. And if you laid 4 barrels out side by side, you would notice that the ports are all different distances away from the chamber, rifle being the furthest. Could you, in theory, run a Pistol length gas system on a full length rifle? Maybe. But you wouldn’t want to. This is why.

    As our bullet is traveling down the barrel, when is gas pressure the highest? Right when the bullet enters and plugs the barrel. As the bullet goes down the barrel, even with some powder still burning, we essentially get a greater space for our gasses to expand. More open barrel space, a bigger containment cylinder if you think about it. As the bullet passes the gas port, gas is forced into the gas tube, which travels back and cycles our bolt. So the further that gas port is away, the less pressure is coming rearward, and the longer it takes before the gas enters the tube and unlocks the bolt. With less pressure in the gas tube and the few milliseconds longer it takes to reach the gas tube we get less pressure everywhere and slower speeds out of our bolt carrier. Hence less recoil. So ironically enough, our shortest guns have the highest bolt speed, highest felt recoil, and slowest velocities. All other things being equal.

    Since the port is at 12 inches on rifle length system, why can’t we just put a rifle length system on a 16-inch barrel? Ahh, good question. Because of another factor called dwell time. Which is some serious nerd stuff, and I wouldn’t even know this if I hadn’t shot for a rifle company years ago. As the pro shooter, you end up doing a lot of testing of new designs. My company was attempting to put a rifle length gas system on a 16.5-inch barrel, and never could get it to work. Because of dwell time issues.

    Dwell time is the amount of time that the bullet is still in the barrel after the gas is routed into the gas tube. This is important because the bullet still has to act as a plug in order to keep the pressures high enough to cycle the bolt. The millisecond the bullet exits the barrel, the gas takes the path of least resistance out of the pressure system. So if your timing is off, you will lose pressure prematurely and have a very unreliable gun. It isn’t actually uncommon to see an 18-inch barrel with a mid-length gas system, as 18 is even kind of pushing the limit for a rifle length system.

  • "Why Your .300 Blk Won’t Work…" by Adam Scepaniak, The Armory Life. This article is basically about why you should get specialty magazines for the .300 BLK rather than using standard .223/5.56 magazines. Essentially, it comes down to this: when shooting .300 BLK cartridges employing heavier (longer) bullets, the length of the feed lips in standard AR magazines interferes with the feeding of the cartridge from the magazine into the chamber, potentially inducing failures to feed. In my experience, where I only use super-sonic loadings for .300 BLK, I've never had an issue using the standard 5.56 Magpul magazines.

    A secondary reason for using a different magazine is to provide a tactile confirmation that you are not trying to load a magazine full of .300 BLK into an AR chambered in 5.56. Scepaniak notes, for instance:

Using a Magpul magazine again as our example, they deploy a “distinct rib design and smoother upper-half texture… this provides the shooter a distinct visual and tactile difference from any other PMAG to mitigate dangerous cross-loading issues.”

I take this seriously, and so I use steel magazines for my 5.56 and Mapul magazines for my .300 BLK.

  • "Four Guns That Should NOT Be Your First Handgun" by Jo Deering, NRA Women. They are: (i) a tiny gun; (ii) a super lightweight gun; (iii) any gun of which you are afraid (e.g., a large caliber or magnum due to recoil and/or noise); and (iv) someone else's gun (i.e., a firearm selected for you by someone else).
  • "The International Harvester M1 Garand: A New Rifle for the Nuclear Age"--The American Rifleman. When the government decided it needed to ramp up manufacture of M1 Garands for the Korean War, one of the companies awarded a contract was International Harvester. This article discusses the reason for the contract as well as the problems International Harvester faced as it realized that making a rifle was not as easy as they thought it would be.
  • An oldie but a goody: Black Talon Family Data Dump--Scattered Shots. One of the first bullets designed after the 1986 Miami shootout with the new FBI standards in mind.
VIDEO: "Prepping for the Ammo & Body Armor of Your Enemies"--Magic Prepper (26 min.).
Although the author seems to suggest that the Chinese might attempt an invasion of the United States, which is extremely unrealistic, he does raise a good point: when considering our ammunition and body armor, we should take into consideration what our enemies will be using. For instance, if you think your enemy may be making use of a version of the 5.56 M855 "Green Tip" round, you will probably want to get armor that protects against hits by it. Similarly, if you think you are facing an enemy that might have rifle level plates, you may want to consider a rifle round that can defeat that armor.


  • Last week I wrote that "I consider the growing 'mobocracy' to be our greatest domestic security threat and the incidents most likely to lead to a civil war." Apparently I'm not the only one thinking that way: "The crime wave as a precursor to civil war"--Bayou Renaissance Man. He cites from some other authors, including the following bit from Michael Yon:
    Civil War is not yet obvious to everyone. My estimate is civil war is not obvious to most Americans yet. This crime uptick is exactly and specifically one of the symptoms I have long warned about.

    In context of current global and national situation, this crime wave is a symptom of something more intense, beyond crime. The economy is collapsing. Supply chains terribly disrupted. Fuel and fertilizer prices increasing. None of these trends have reversed, or even leveled.

    During all these, somewhere around 2 million 'migrants' have crossed our border. Nobody knows the true number. It's big. I have personally witnessed many.

    As food prices skyrocket and shortages increase, crime will explode. Vigilantism will follow.

    Another symptom will be REAL neighborhood watches, such as armed men setting up checkpoints. Rich people hiring actual militias.

    Road blockages followed by mass murders and robberies targeting trapped passengers. This all is 'normal' in these situations. States with vibrant 2nd Amendment laws such as Texas and Florida likely will suffer far less outside of particularly dangerous areas. California and all the defenseless States will be perfect places for criminal migration.

    Smart criminals with foresight who wish to strike their fortunes in the Great Blue Gold-Rush of 2022, will abandon testosterone States like Texas and Idaho, migrating to weaker soy States such as California, New York, and Massachusetts.

There is a lot more at the link, so be sure to read the whole thing. 

    Regular, unscented chlorine bleach products that are suitable for sanitization and disinfection are the only ones that you should use for purposes of purifying water, so make sure you always read the label on the bottle of bleach.

    You might also see that the label mentions that the active ingredient is 6 or 8.25 percent sodium hypochlorite, and that’s okay.

    However, there are some types of bleach you should never use to purify water. Avoid color-safe or scented bleach, and any bleach that has added cleaners in it. Similarly, never try to purify water with non-chlorine bleach, bleach tablets, or pool tablets. 

    The bleach you use also needs to have been stored properly so that it has not degraded in quality. It should be liquid bleach that has been stored at room temperature for less than a year. 

The author then goes into what equipment or supplies you need, the ratios of bleach to water for different amounts of water, and answers some questions regarding use bleach to purify water such as whether it kills all organisms (not necessarily) and what to do if the water you are trying to treat is cloudy. So be sure to read the whole thing.

  • A couple good, detailed articles on stoves for camping or prepping:
    • "Stoves for SHTF or just plain camping"--3rd Wave House-Wifery. This is sort of an introduction to small cooking stoves and tests 5 different stoves to see how long it took to bring a pot of water to a boil: a couple of alcohol fuel stoves, a couple that use white-gas, and a double-burner propane camping stove. The two fastest where the Primus propane double burner stove and the Coleman Peak1 single burner that uses white-gas. The alcohol fuel stoves were the smallest, but the author thought they were the most straightforward to use. She also gives a little review of each and discusses some desirable accessories.
    • "Fuels for your alcohol-burner (SHTF stoves 2/2)"--3rd Wave House-Wifery. In the article above, the author thought the best overall stove was an alcohol fueled one and, in particular, the the Swedish Trangia. In this post, she tests different type of alcohol you might have on hand or encounter to fuel your stove: 70% Isopropyl Alcohol; 91% Isopropyl Alcohol; Everclear 190 Proof (consumable) Alcohol; KleanStrip denatured Alcohol stove-fuel. The burn time for 1 tablespoon of alcohol was similar, varying from 2-1/2 to 3 minutes. However, the Isopropyl alcohols produced a great deal of soot, while the Everclear and KleanStrip burned the cleanest. 
  • And for more general heating needs for a small space (a dorm room or small apartment): "What Is A Ceramic Pot Heater And How To Make Your Own"--Preparedness Advice.
    A ceramic pot heater uses heat produced by a candle. It traps the heat inside a few ceramic pots that have been joined together.

    Since terracotta heats up gradually and maintains heat effectively, it works well as a pot material to absorb the heat from the candle.

    The hot air from the candle moves between the pots’ walls and through them so that it can heat up the surrounding room. 

It looks like it would be inexpensive and simple to make. The photographs show a couple different types, and you can use one larger candle, or few small tea candles, to generate the heat. But the author warns about going to large (or too many) because the heat could cause the terra cotta pots to crack.
  • Since you are going to have to be able to light those stoves and candles: "10 Types of Lighters You Should Know About"--Backdoor Survival. When I was younger, there were basically two types of lighters you would find at a store: disposable butane lighters (such as the Bic) and the Zippo lighter. Now there are a plethora of different lighters using different systems: besides the disposable butane and Zippo lighters there are butane lighters that are piezo ignited, torch (pressurized butane) lighters, plasma lighters, electric coil lighters, and several new designs of lighters that use regular lighter fluid that are more compact than Zippos. 
  • "Making A Buckskin Hoody"--Woodland Ways. As the author notes, you could write a whole book on preparing a skin, tanning it, and making buckskin clothing. He has, nevertheless, put together a very detailed article on the topic.
  • "Will EMP Destroy Anything Electronic NOT Plugged Into The Grid?"--Modern Survival Blog. The author's short answer is "maybe." The critical factor is, according to the author, the strength of EMP field at a device's location. This is variable not only on the source and strength of the EMP pulse, but also whether it is natural (solar) or due to a nuclear explosion as well as the distance from the pulse. Even then, I don't think the square of the distance law is necessarily an accurate predictor because there may be nodes of weaker or stronger, just like how a radio station can fade in and out as you get further from the transmitter. 
  • "Walkabout At The End Of Days, Redux" by Marcus Wynne. He relates: "My friend Bertram is a Hopi Elder. He tells me that right now, in the ancestral lands and sacred spots, that the instability of the world is reflected in 'unusual activity.'"
The detective compares the crime situation in Los Angeles to the movie, The Purge.

News & Current Events:

Philadelphia, a city of roughly 1.5 million people, has had more homicides this year (521 as of Dec. 6) than the nation's two largest cities, New York (443 as of Dec. 5) and Los Angeles (352 as of Nov. 27). That's an increase of 13% from 2020, a year that nearly broke the 1990 record. 


Experts say there are a number of reasons possibly connected to the jump in homicides, including strained law enforcement staffing, a pronounced decline in arrests and continuing hardships from the pandemic, but that there is no clear answer across the board.

No where in the article does it mention Antifa, BLM, defund the police, prosecution of police, or riots, although it does concede that staffing problems among police may be the cause for a drop in arrests. 

    “I’ve always been anti-gun,” said Debbie Mizrahie of Beverly Hills. “But I am right now in the process of getting myself shooting lessons because I now understand that there may be a need for me to know how to defend myself and my family. We’re living in fear.”

    During Black Lives Matter protests last year, Mizrahie told The Post, her neighbor’s home was firebombed with Molotov cocktails.

    “My kids were outside and they saw a huge explosion,” she said. “[The neighbor’s] backyard went up in smoke. Trees burned down … But it’s only gotten worse. Beverly Hills has been targeted.”

    Mizrahie, a 40-something mother of two teenagers, isn’t alone. Ever since the protests last year descended into riots and lootings, a growing number of Beverly Hills residents have been buying weapons.

    “It’s gotten to a point where residents feel insecure even going from their door to their car,” said resident Shirley Reitman. “A lot of residents are applying for a concealed carry weapon permit, even though that’s a great challenge in LA County.”

    “Even hardcore leftist Democrats who said to me in the past, ‘I’ll never own a gun’ are calling me asking about firearms,” said Joel Glucksman, a private security executive. “I’d say there has been an increase of 80 percent in the number of requests I’m getting this year.”

    That trend increased last week, Glucksman said, after a beloved black philanthropist, Jacqueline Avant, was killed in her home.

    “The killing of Avant shows that even having a security guard isn’t enough to deter someone,” said Mizrahie. The victim and her husband, legendary music executive Clarence Avant, had a private security guard on duty when she was killed around 2:30 a.m. on Dec. 1.
    The Grove, a famous open-air shopping complex in Los Angeles, has added a high coil fence barrier that resembles barbed wire at the property's entrances and exits. 
    Management added the "tangled tape" coil fencing, which is made from a custom aluminum-and-steel mesh, ahead of Thanksgiving weekend. The fencing is installed nightly after the mall closes and removed before it reopens, and it's just one of the security measures the complex put in place after a rash of November smash-and-grab robberies at high-end stores in San Francisco and other cities.

    Three senior White House officials have embarked on a campaign to persuade newsroom executives to be more favorable in their coverage of President Joe Biden, according to a report on Tuesday night.

    The trio - National Economic Council Deputy Directors David Kamin and Bharat Ramamurti, along with Ports Envoy John Porcari - have been 'briefing major newsrooms over the past week,' according to CNN's media correspondent, Oliver Darcy. 

    Darcy, in his newsletter, said that their outreach was sparked by concern that Biden was not being treated fairly.

The issue they have is that the media is saying that the economy is worse this year than it was at the same time last year, before all the inflation had set in. Also:

    [Washington Post columnist Dana] Milbank added: 'It's not bias. It's the actual words we're using. 

    'So we are as negative as a collective media on Joe Biden, if not more so than we were to Donald Trump at a time when he was trying to overthrow democracy. 

    'That is a tremendous indictment of the whole industry.' 

    Milbank said journalists working in the U.S. needed 'to do soul searching and see what we are delivering to people'.

    He said: 'There's a real problem when we are being just as adversarial because a guy doesn't pass a bill, as we are when a guy is trying to overthrow democracy.' 

    Milbank's article was greeted with approval from the highest levels in the White House.

The Daily Sceptic has for some time been reporting on the apparent negative vaccine effectiveness visible in raw U.K. health data. Despite some age ranges now showing that the vaccinated are more than twice as likely to get Covid as the unvaccinated, this is routinely adjusted out, leading UKHSA to un-intuitively claim that the vaccines are still highly effective even against symptomatic disease. A recent post by new contributor Amaneunsis explains the Test Negative Case Control approach (TNCC) used by authorities and researchers to adjust the data, and demonstrates that while a theoretically powerful way to remove some possible confounders, it rests on an initially reasonable-sounding assumption that vaccines don’t make your susceptibility to infection worse.

But it is entirely possible for a vaccine to increase your susceptibility as occurred during the H1N1 "swine flu" pandemic and other studies.  The author concludes:

    Negative effectiveness is important because if a vaccine halves your risk of getting one virus but doubles your risk of getting a closely related virus, you can end up back at square one. In fact, you’d end up in a worse position than when you started because vaccination programmes aren’t free: they consume enormous resources, both financially and in terms of public health staffing, and cause collateral damage via vaccine injuries (hence why vaccine manufacturers refuse to accept liability for harm caused by their products). It’s therefore of critical importance to understand the gestalt effect of vaccination on the immune system, and not merely on the specific variant of a virus that was originally targeted.

    The fact that papers published as recently as 2018 are talking about negative vaccine effectiveness as a new, not really understood effect should give governments serious pause for thought. Most people in public health are clearly unfamiliar with this phenomenon – as indeed we all are – and are thus tempted to either ignore it, delete it from their data, or try to convince the public that it must be a statistical artefact and anyone talking about it is guilty of spreading “misinformation”. The reports in these papers provide recent evidence that vaccines making epidemics worse is in fact a real phenomenon and that it has been previously detected by serious researchers who took every effort to avoid that conclusion.

VIDEO: "The Nubian Shield: world-class mining destination"--Caspian Report (14 min.)
The Arabian-Nubian Shield (ANS) is an exposure of Precambrian crystalline rocks on the flanks of the Red Sea, mostly Neoproterozoic in age. The ANS is rich in gold, silver, copper, zinc, tin, and phosphate. And, according to this video, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other countries are putting together the legal framework to allow mining to go forward.

Opinion and Analysis:
    Putting together a comprehensive list of black-on-white crime is a difficult task for two, superficially contradictory, reasons: 1) There is so much of it. 2) There is so little reporting on it. I doubt there is a day that goes by in the United States without at least dozens of instances of blacks assaulting, robbing, and/or defacing the property of whites. Yet, if all you’re reading is the New York Times, you might guess that crime of that sort takes place half a dozen times a year at most. But, if you start to dig through local news sources, and discover the code words used to discuss black crime (e.g. “youths”), the ocean of write-ups becomes overwhelming. Indeed, American Renaissance has nearly one thousand news items tagged “Black on White Crime,” while Paul Kersey has well over 3,000 blog posts about the matter.

    In creating the below list, I sought out to do two things: 1) Cover crimes that were committed and reported on before internet news took over America’s media landscape. That is to say, to feature news stories not already found in several different places online. The most recent year I covered was 2005, which was the first year American Renaissance’s online news feed started publishing stories regularly. 2) Highlight especially brutal crimes. There is so much black-on-white crime, that even “standard” murders and rapes are far too many to count. So instead I focused on those stories that most demonstrate black psychopathy, black hatred for whites, and the schadenfreude so many blacks seem to derive from harming whites in most any way imaginable.

    As such, this list should in no way be considered exhaustive—the aforementioned sources, Paul Kersey’s blog and the “Black on White Crime” tag on AmRen, are both more thorough. I have also left unlisted a few of the more well-known cases of black-on-white murder, precisely because there has already been plenty of coverage about them—namely Colin Ferguson’s shooting spree, the killing of Missy McLauchlin and the Wichita Massacre. This list serves instead to show that not only has black on white crime been a standing problem in America for over three decades, but that that crime is made up of some of the most brutal and disgusting acts imaginable. In a world where whites are regularly made to grovel over “micro-aggressions,” jokes, and even simple slips of the tongue, we would do well to remind our liberal fellow-whites what real hate looks like.
  • "White People Have No Place In Black Liberation" by Kevin Rigby Jr. and Hari Ziyad, Race Baiter Magazine. In this provocative 2016 piece, the author explains why whites are the problem and cannot be part of the solution. An excerpt:
    We want whiteness banished to history—to an other-space of that which is unknown and impossible. There is no way in which whiteness can move that is freeing or liberating for Black people, so there is no way for white people to free or liberate.

    Whiteness is indivisible from white people. To identify as white is to claim the social structure of whiteness, is to always wade in the waters of anti-Blackness. Sociologist Anthony Giddens criticizes our general conceptualization of social structure for having “a tendency to view structure and symbols as somehow alien to the actors who produce, reproduce, and transform these structures and symbols” (The Structure of Sociological Theory, Turner 1991: 523). It is this tendency that so easily clouds our understanding of whiteness and motivates us to embrace white allyship. Black liberation would mean the destruction of whiteness, but whiteness is upheld by all white people. White people cannot escape upholding it.

    Constitutive of progressive white people and spaces has always been the question; “How can I, as a white person, work affirmatively in the struggle for Black liberation?” People have engaged this question as a genuine possibility throughout history; of there being a way, however not-yet-understood, for white people to do whiteness well, and, in doing so, aid Black people in getting free. But on a very real level, Black liberation would radically necessitate the refusal of anyone knowing themselves as white. It would mean the actual end of white selves, including the well-meaning white selves seeking the answer to how they can address racism. Black liberation means that white people can only destroy their own whiteness or be destroyed with it. White people cannot exist as white and do anything to address racism, because whiteness in action is racism.

This genocidal belief is at the core of CRT and "wokeness".
A large percentage of Republicans and the larger white right actually believe that they are in an existential struggle for survival against Black and brown people and "illegal aliens" who want to "replace them," sinister "secularists" who want to outlaw Christianity, "critical race theory" aimed at brainwashing their children, a "liberal media" that deliberately lies to them, and a cabal of "elites" and "socialists" who are treasonous and determined to destroy the "real" America.  

Devega relies on sources that, of course, see America's traditional Western Christian thought anathema to their values (or lack thereof), but nevertheless have some valid observations. For instance, he cites to a Foreign Policy article that list various factors that point to a civil war including a history of previous internal conflict, "deepening cleavages" in society and a third element, "a shift from tribalism to sectarianism":

    With tribalism, people begin to seriously doubt whether other groups in their country have the larger community's best interests at heart. In sectarian environments though, economic, social, and political elites and those they represent come to believe that anyone who disagrees with them is evil and actively working to destroy the community. Enemies of the state come to displace the loyal opposition, with those having been inside another tribe seen as the most disloyal. It's akin to how some religions treat apostates and infidels. Often, it is apostates, the former adherents of the faith, that are targeted more readily over infidels, those who had always been on the outside. It is hard not to see echoes of this dynamic at play as Republicans condemn other Republicans over their loyalty (or lack thereof) to former U.S. President Donald Trump.

    Indeed, the United States now displays all three core elements that can lead to civil breakdown. If one described them — fractured elites with competing narratives, deep-seated identity cleavages, and a politically polarized citizenry — without identifying the United States by name, most scholars of civil war would say, "Hey, that country is on the brink of a civil war." 

That we have the two sides believing the other is evil is, as I've written before, a huge cultural change. Even a decade ago, Charles Krauthammer's observation--"To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil"--held true. What has fundamentally changed in the past decade is that now many (most?) conservatives have now come to the realization that liberals are evil. But it isn't like Liberals were trying to dissuade Conservatives of the fact.

    Devega's next comments are revealing. He writes:

    At its core, these discussions of a possible second American Civil War reveal that the rise of Trumpism, and the full-on embrace of fascism by the "conservative" movement reflect a nation in existential crisis. 

    The distinction between "nation" and "country" is critical here. A country is an agreed-upon set of laws and governing institutions, but a nation is the symbols, ideas, stories, shared values and beliefs and other intangibles that give a people a sense of community and shared destiny that is distinct and different from other people in other places.

In other words, war is inevitable because conservatives are just too stubborn to embrace Leftist values and beliefs.

  • "We’re Edging Closer to Civil War" by Charles M. Blow, The New York Times. Blow begins by noting that "[t]he Supreme Court on Friday issued a decision allowing abortion providers in Texas to continue challenging a new law that bans most abortions in the state after about six weeks of pregnancy," but did not go so far as to strike down the law. Blow and others on the Left are afraid that this decision opens the door to a state by state nullification of the ever-popular Roe v. Wade and its enshrining of abortion as an inalienable right. To Blow, this decision was no different than the pre-civil war rhetoric of John C. Calhoun advocating for slavery. Yes, that's right: Blow holds any limitation on abortion to be tantamount to slavery. Thus, to him, the fight against abortion is "about the subjugation of all who challenge the white racist patriarchy" such as "Black people, immigrants, Muslims, Jews, L.G.B.T.Q. people and, yes, women, particularly liberal ones." To be fair, it isn't so much about this particular Supreme Court decision, but what it may portend. He warns his readers: "We should worry about whether or not we are at an inflection point for an age of regression." 
    Modern liberalism expands and distorts the old liberal humility of limited power into a value-neutral moral relativism that disdains any external arbiters of right and wrong. Instead of the belief that government power should be limited because we are fallen, there is the belief that nothing should limit the freedom of the autonomous, self-creating individual, and that government power should be deployed to remove obstacles to self-realization.

    This liberalism pretends to be unable to distinguish between good and evil, God and the devil, sin and sanctity, sanity and delusion. This extends liberal neutrality far beyond what the Constitution requires, or what can be practically enacted.

    Liberal proceduralism and neutrality are impossible in family life and education, for instance, and in these areas liberals often become undemocratic on behalf of their hypertrophied liberalism. ...

    Thus, there is an incoherence to liberalism’s semi-official relativism, for it relies on smuggling some moral views back into political life as supposedly neutral liberal norms. This is manifest in the tendency to try to forestall democratic debate and decisions by insisting that what the people want is illiberal. When Andrew Sullivan bemoans the “illiberalism” of removing sexually explicit materials from school libraries, he is not actually supporting liberal neutrality, but instead advocating for the inclusion of such material in government schools, even if parents in particular and the community in general object.

    Declaring that parental and democratic involvement in schools, from curricula to libraries, is illegitimate doesn’t mean that decisions will be neutral, just that they will be made according to the biases of teachers, administrators, librarians and suchlike. And this pattern is repeated on issue after issue, with “conservative” liberals insisting that left-liberals must be allowed to win in the name of “liberal norms.”

    This framing attempts to put the essential question of “who decides” beyond the realm of democratic politics. Liberal “conservatives” are appalled at the idea of using democracy to do anything about the consolidation of elite power against us. Yet, to take one example, there is nothing neutral or natural in allowing social media giants to act as publishers who choose what content to suppress or elevate, while shielding them from the legal liabilities of publishing.

    Right-liberals profess to being afraid of state power. And it is dangerous. But for ordinary people, conservative government may be the only defense against the combined power of elites in business, media, tech, and academia.

    It is time for “conservative” liberals such as Brooks and French to realize that the preservation of America’s true liberal heritage requires democratic reaction against oligarchy. Conservatives leaders should be rallying the people against the cultural and corporate elites — and keeping drag queens away from children would be a good start.

And Now For Something Completely Different:
    'Superflares are much bigger than the flares that we see from the sun,' said astrophysicist Yuta Notsu, one of the paper's authors.

    'So we suspect that they would also produce much bigger mass ejections. But until recently, that was just conjecture.'

    Researchers set their sights on EK Draconis, which is 111 light years away, and about the same size of our sun but much, much younger. It is just 100 million years old, a relative youngster in a cosmic sense, while our sun is 4.6 billion years old.

    In April 2020, the team observed EK Draconis ejecting a cloud of scorching-hot plasma with a mass in the quadrillions of kilograms — more than 10 times bigger than the most powerful coronal mass ejection ever recorded from a sun-like star. 

The scientists acknowledge that a similar super-flare could happen with our sun, but suggest that it is unlikely because of the age of our sun. The evidence of impactors and a major solar flare from 12,000 years ago would suggest otherwise. 

    On the other hand, an article in Astronomy Magazine from September of this year, "Understanding just how big solar flares can get," noted that the 1859 Carrington Event is far from the largest flares shot out by our sun.

    The 1859 flare has long been, and remains, a standout in its energy and effects on Earth. Comparably powerful solar eruptions are often referred to as “Carrington events.” But it does not stand alone.

    “It’s oftentimes described as the most intense storm ever recorded,” says Jeffrey Love, a geophysicist at the US Geological Survey in Denver. “That’s possibly not exactly true, but it certainly is one of the two most intense storms.” Or three or four.

    In May 1921, the Sun dealt our planet a geomagnetic storm on par with the Carrington Event. As in 1859, a brilliant aurora appeared well beyond the polar regions. Telegraph and telephone systems broke down, with some sparking destructive fires.

    And just 13 years after Carrington spied his eponymous flare, another solar storm came along that by some measures may have topped it. “It looks now, based on aurora and sparse magnetometer measurements, that an event in 1872 was probably larger than the Carrington Event,” says Ed Cliver, a solar physicist retired from the US Air Force.

    These storms show that the Carrington Event wasn’t a “black swan,” Hudson says. If anything, the Sun has been holding back in the modern era. Evidence from the more distant past points to a few solar storms that make the Carrington Event seem almost puny by comparison.

The article then goes on to mention some other large events. One of those is an event in 775 A.D. (I linked to an article in last weeks Docent's Memo about this) which saw a massive spike in Carbon-14 of twenty times normal. "'The clear suggestion there was that super events could happen, because this was a factor of 10 — if it was a solar flare — a factor of 10 or 20 or more greater than the Carrington Event,' Hudson says." Another sizable event occurred in 994 A.D. Going back farther, the article also mentions events in 660 BC, 5259 BC, and 7176 BC (probably the "Noah Event" as Ben Davidson terms it). While the article doesn't mention any super-flares from our sun, it points out that it is not impossible:

    Over four years, Kepler recorded 26 super flares — up to about 100 times as energetic as the Carrington Event — on 15 sunlike stars, researchers reported in January. NASA’s ongoing TESS mission, another space-based telescope hunting for exoplanets, found a similar frequency of superflares on Sunlike stars in its first year of operation.

    The Kepler data imply that Sunlike stars experience the most powerful of these flares roughly once every 6,000 years. Our Sun’s most powerful eruption in that time span is an order of magnitude weaker — but could a super flare be in our future?

    “I don’t think any theory has sufficient predictive capability to mean anything,” Hudson says. “The leading theory basically says that the bigger the sunspot, the greater the flare.” Sunspots mark where the Sun’s magnetic field punches through its surface, preventing hot gas from bubbling up from below. The spot looks dark because it’s cooler than everything around it.

    And that is one difference between the Sun and its eruptive neighbors. Super flares seem to happen on stars with cool, dark spots far larger than ever appear on the Sun. “Based on known spot areas, there would therefore be a limit,” Hudson says.

    Two years ago, we were all going about our daily business, blissfully unaware that our planet almost plunged into global catastrophe.

    A recent revelation by NASA explains how on July 23, 2012, Earth had a near miss with a solar flare, or coronal mass ejection (CME), from the most powerful storm on the sun in over 150 years, but nobody decided to mention it.

    Err, what? Well, that’s a sobering bit of news.

    “If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,” says Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado.

    We managed to just avoid the event through lucky timing as the sun’s aim narrowly turned away from Earth. Had it occurred a week earlier, when it was pointing at us, the result could have been frighteningly different.

    “I have come away from our recent studies more convinced than ever that Earth and its inhabitants were incredibly fortunate that the 2012 eruption happened when it did,” says Baker. “If the eruption had occurred only one week earlier, Earth would have been in the line of fire.”

    The power of this ejection would have raced across space to knock us back to the Dark Ages. It’s believed a direct CME hit would have the potential to wipe out communication networks, GPS and electrical grids to cause widespread blackout. The article goes on to say it would disable “everything that plugs into a wall socket. Most people wouldn’t even be able to flush their toilet because urban water supplies largely rely on electric pumps.”

    Just 10 minutes without electricity, Internet or communication across the globe is a scary thought, and the effects of this event could last years. It would be chaos and disaster on an epic scale.

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