Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The Docent's Memo (Jan. 19, 2022)


VIDEO: "Primary Arms SLx 1X MicroPrism"--InRange TV (12 min.)


  • You can't stop the signal: "Ghost Gunner Can Make Zero Percent Receiver!"--The Firearm Blog. With an increasing number of states looking at banning 80% receivers, Ghost Gunner has now released updates that would allow their machines to start out with a simple block of aluminum and machine the receiver.
  • "Shotgun Hack Job: Budget DIY Home Defense" by Chris Baker, Lucky Gunner Lounge. With the record demand for guns, common self-defense shotguns may be hard to come by. Baker suggests looking at older shotguns and then takes the reader through the process of turning an old 28-inch Winchester Ranger Model 120 into a proper defensive shotgun by shortening the barrel and stock, and making some other repairs.
  • "From the Hip: Heckler & Koch P30 9mm Luger" by Brian Pearce, Handloader Magazine. A detailed test and review of this interesting handgun, one of the few fully ambidextrous handguns on the market--meaning ambidextrous safety, slide release lever, and magazine release (without having to swap the magazine release from one side to another)--and certainly one of the few ambidextrous DSAs. The author notes:
    ... The P30 has undergone extensive torture and function testing, which it passed with a remarkable record. Some independent tests, which included nearly 100,000 rounds, indicate that there was only one failure per 7,000 rounds. Also, many countries and law enforcement agencies have adopted the P30, including Finland, Germany (army, navy, police, customs), Hungary, Malaysia, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland and select U.S. police forces, including the Border Patrol Tactical Unit.
    Defense-style 9mm Luger factory loads from Black Hills Ammunition, Federal Cartridge, Hornady Manufacturing and Speer were checked for function and accuracy. There were no failures of any type. All cartridges fed, fired and cases ejected perfectly. With the aid of a rest, all loads grouped into 2.45 inches or less at 25 yards. Hornady’s 124-grain Critical Duty FlexLock +P produced the tightest group at 1.90 inches. Incidentally, two of the four loads tested produced greater velocity than their listed velocities.

The latter is probably due to the pistol's use of polygonal rifling. 

The Mini-14 GB semi-automatic rifle, not the select-fire AC-556, was purchased from Ruger. The Mini-14 GB had a thicker profile barrel with a flash hider and mounting lug for the US M7 bayonet. The Royal Bermuda Regiment issued the Mini-14s with 20 round magazines. They were initially shipped with standard wooden stocks but in the early 1990s black polymer stocks with pistol grips were procured from Choate. Another unique attribute of the Regiment’s Mini-14s is the regimental crest stamped on the left side of the receiver. Less than a thousand rifles were produced for the Royal Bermuda Regiment.
  • While on the topic of the Mini-14, check out "Mini 14 Review | Mini 30 Review" by Joe Roberts, at the Gunner's Den. He describes what made the Mini 14 a favorite among preppers in the 1980s:
    My Mini 14 is one of the most reliable rifles I have ever owned, it runs on any ammunition that I have on hand. I have run 55gr Lake City surplus, 62gr green tip, 55gr Wolf Steel case, and some .223 handloads that a buddy of mine gave me.

    I have owned the rifle for about 6 years now and other than punching the bore once in a while and occasionally some lubrication I have done nothing to it. It is as it came from the factory other than the flash hider that a previous owner added.
  • Richard Mann, one of those most adamantly against considering an AR style rifle as being eligible as a Scout Rifle because it cannot be used for hunting in all jurisdiction, nevertheless has his own thoughts as to a good general purpose rifle laid out in his article, "General-Purpose Rifle: Arming The One-Gun Man" published last July in Gun Digest. Unlike Cooper, however, Mann has no problem with the modern sporting rifle as a general purpose arm. His criteria are:
    • Compactness: I wanted a rifle that was easy to transport in a vehicle or use from inside a blind or hide, with a maximum length of less than 36 inches.
    • Lightness: Rifles are carried more than shot. I wanted a rifle weighing 6.5 pounds or less before accessories.
    • Power and Reach: I needed a rifle with sufficient power to deal with human adversaries, black bear and deer out to around 300 yards.
    • Accuracy: I planned to use the rifle to for a wide range of tasks and desired 1 MOA or better precision.
    • Volume Fire: To fill my predator calling, sport shooting and self-defense needs, I wanted a semi-automatic.
    • Modularity: I wanted a rifle very adaptable to specialized tasks.
    • Self-Support: The rifle needed to be chambered for a cartridge for which I could create my own ammunition. I’m not a doomsday kind of guy, but ammo shortages are real.
And the rifle that fills these criteria--at least for where he lives? An AR style Wilson Combat Protector Series Carbine ($1,999.95) with a 16-inch barrel in .300 Hamr, a 1-4 LPVO, and various other doodads such as backup sights and a weapon light. Mann concludes by damning Cooper's Scout Rifle concept with faint praise:
I’ll not be so bold as to claim Cooper’s Scout Rifle concept as something without merit. I have several Scout Rifles I routinely use and will always have one close. What I’ll say and stand behind is that while a true Scout Rifle might be of wondrous worldwide appeal and reasonableness, it’s something that for most people wouldn’t be the most practical one-rifle answer. A general-purpose rifle that doesn’t ideally address your general-purpose needs is, as far as you’re concerned, not a general-purpose rifle at all.

  • "All About The .38 Special +P and .38 Special +P+"--Revolver Guy. A look at the history and development of the +P and +P+ loads, as well as the eventual concession by the major gun manufacturers to produce .38 Special firearms rated for +P. The obvious difference between standard and +P or +P+ is the pressure when the firearm is discharged: the author notes that the Maximum Average Pressure (MAP) for the standard .38 Special is 17,000 Copper Units of Pressure, while the +P is 29,500 CUP (20,000 psi) and the .357 Magnum is 45,000 CUP. The higher pressure +P loads may lead to increased wear and tear, so, for instance, S&W warns that their firearms may require more frequent service. The author also recommends against using it in older firearms for which parts are no longer manufactured because of the possibility of rendering your antique unworkable and with no repair possible because of a lack of parts. No firearm manufacture produces a revolver that is officially rated for +P+ (which essentially match the .38 Special proof loads), so the author recommends only shooting such loads through a .357 Magnum revolver.
  • "AR-15 Lower Receiver Aluminum Vs Polymer" by Aaron Spuler, Weapon Blog. After discussing how polymer is generally being used for more and more firearm parts, including frames and even receivers on quite a few newer rifle designs, the author turns to the question of "why use polymer?" He explains:

    In contemporary firearms design, especially in military small arms, the quest for the last 70 years has been for lightness. Taken from the lessons of WWII, many designers realized that contemporary infantry combat meant being mobile and putting down an overwhelming amount of firepower. This requires having a light weapon and the ability to carry a lot of ammunition.

    The AR was an initial answer to that question: it was lighter than the rifle it replaced and fired a lighter bullet that was still effective during the majority of engagements. That’s what made it the fighting rifle of choice for so many countries for the last half-century.

    Combat has not changed radically since World War II and has, I argue, become even more mobile. Now, urban combat dominates not only military action but also law enforcement and self-defense.

    The same things that made the AR awesome in 1960 can be improved. The only parts of an AR that have to stand up to the heat and pressure of firing a bullet are the bolt, chamber, and barrel. This means that the upper receiver is likely to stay metal for the foreseeable future.

    But, for the rest of the AR, as long as parts stay rigid, why not make them as light as possible. It would be silly, for example, to have a solid titanium foregrip. Sure it would be durable, but it would also add a pound to the weight of the gun. The same logic applies, I think, to the lower. 

  • I could see getting something like this: "Smith Tactics SIDE-KICK Co-CHARGER AR-15 Charging Handle"--The Firearm Blog. It offers an extension that falls along the left side of the gun that acts as a left side charging handle, but still allows you to charge the AR normally, from the rear with a T-shaped handle. 
  • "Cast Bullets and Battle Rifles: Handloading for the U.S. 30s" by Mike Venturino, Handloader Magazine. An interesting article for those into bullet casting and also wanting to shoot some old military rifles. I don't cast my own bullets (at least, not yet), but I inherited a few boxes of .30-06 loaded with lightweight cast bullets. They are not loaded very hot--the recoil was very soft out of an old bolt-action--and very accurate out to 100 yards (which was as far as I shot them). They would have been good rounds for hunting game such as jack rabbit or coyotes. 
  • "Do I Get Involved in What Is Happening in Front of Me?"--USA Carry. The article begins:

Many people ask me if they need to get involved in situations where they could be helping someone. My question to them is, “Are you in fear of immediate great grave/or bodily harm for yourself or a loved one” in this scenario, or are you looking just to stop a “bad guy?”

Be honest in answering this question, because if it is the latter, you could easily be stepping into the proverbial minefield. As the author points out, if you do get involved, you had better know for damn sure who is the "good guy" and who is the "bad guy": for instance, that fight in front of you where one man pulls a gun could be an undercover cop trying to make an arrest. You also need to evaluate that someone responding to the scene or event, such as police officers or another person with a concealed carry handgun, my not realize that you are a "good guy" and shoot you. 

    ... the AmmoPal acts like an independent magazine for your tube-fed shotgun. It’s a polymer constructed rectangle, complete with a spring and follower to push rounds to the top. Although, the AmmoPal doesn’t get inserted into any firearm. It simply feeds you one round at a time to keep your shotgun topped off and well-fed.

    The AmmoPal gives shooters the capability to carry ten 2.75-inch shells in that big polymer rectangle. That polymer is built to last and made from a UV, oil, and flame resistant polymer. It feels thin and light, but it’s pretty tough. I’ve dropped it numerous times in sand and dirt, on concrete floors, and more. Over the last five years, it has yet to crack, break, or bend in any way.

Also sounds like a good way to store shotgun ammo so it is ready for use.

  • "WWII Kar98k Sniper Rifle with 4x Scope at 1,100 Yards"--Locked Back. Links to a video from Practical Accuracy to see if they can emulate the exploits of Matthäus Hetzenauer, an Austrian sniper fighting for Nazi Germany during World War II who is credited with making a kill at 1,100 meters (1,202 yards).

Prepping & Survival

  • "120 Useful Books For Your EOTW Library"--Survival Spot. The links are to Amazon where you can buy the books, but I'm sure the e-book libraries I've mentioned on my e-book page will probably be able to supply many of them.
  • "The Bear Facts" (Part 1) (Part 2) by Anthony Acerrano, Sports Afield. While we tend to concentrate on brown bears and grizzly bears, the reality is that the majority of us are more likely to encounter the black bear (or, if in foreign parts, something of approximately the same size). Acerrano notes that increased population of both bears and humans make human/black bear interactions more likely. Consequently:
But by most definitions, and speaking generally, violent black bear encounters with humans are on the rise, and the variety of scenarios is rather astonishing: Bears biting people through tent walls;  ripping tents open and dragging someone out; breaking into hard-sided, occupied campers; bursting through cabin or home doors; smashing through a glass or screen window to attack a person on the other side; grabbing a man off of his front porch; attacking someone’s dog and then turning on the human who tries to interfere, and so on. Some biologists and bear defenders want to downplay or even deny these realities, and some people in the press or elsewhere want to exaggerate or sensationalize them out of proportion. I am pro-bear, but I believe in finding the truth, which lies somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.

Statistics are hard to come by, but one study found at least 63 people were killed in 59 incidents by non-captive black bears in North America between 1900 and 2009; and, of these, 86%of these fatal attacks happened between 1960 and 2009. Acerrano has documented an additional 13 deaths due to black bears attacks since then. This suggests to me that as bear populations recovered and expanded, and started bumping up against humans, the number of attacks increased. Interestingly, 88% of fatal black bears attacks were predatory in nature (but predatory attacks are less than 10% of the total bear attacks). But:

    An important new, not-yet-published study by Janel Marie Scharhag at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point is the first to focus solely on non-fatal black bear attacks, and reveals some fresh and illuminating information. Scharhag examined 210 agency-confirmed attacks that occurred in the 48 conterminous United States from 2000 to 2017. She defined “attack” as intentional/purposeful contact initiated by a bear on one or more humans, resulting in human injury. She did not include violent encounters that weren’t started by the bear, such as if a hunter wounded an animal which then mauled the hunter, or if someone kicked a bear that was fighting with his dog, or if a person got foolishly close while taking a photo. 

    Of the 210 attacks, 52 percent were defensive. (A defensive attack is one in which the bear reacts to feeling threatened in some way.) Eighty-five percent of defensive attacks were by female bears, 91 percent of them sows with cubs. Further, only 15 percent of all black bear attacks were predatory (and 95% of those were by male bears). 

The foregoing is from Part 1 of his article. In Part 2, he discusses ways to avoid bear attacks and how to defend yourself. For instance:

    Defensive black bears, feeling threatened, tend to do one of two things: run away (or scoot up a nearby tree, which is another form of escaping), or put on an aggressive show. If you unintentionally startle a sow with cubs, the bear might react by huffing, grunting, growling, clacking its teeth, ground-swatting, or even making one or more false charges, swerving away well before contact. But–and this is key–with a defensive bear of any species, the last thing you want is to increase the sense of threat by doing what is usually advised: yell, get large, wave your arms, and throw rocks or sticks. The bear is already disturbed and is responding aggressively; there’s no sense in possibly escalating that aggression into a full-blown attack.

    “I’m a firm believer in the ‘stand your ground’ approach,” says Hechtel. “The simplest and best thing to do in most encounters is to do very little.” This precludes shouting, arm-waving, or trying to run away or climb a tree. If you can slow down the interaction, that’s all to the good; it tends to make the bear less sure of itself. 

    “Above all,” he says, “don’t overreact [by running, screaming, etc.]; don’t make things worse.” Even if a bruin is charging or running at you, the longer you stand still (preferably with bear spray or other weapon ready to deploy), the better the chances it will stop short or veer off without making contact. 

    But what if it keeps coming and actually knocks you down? The most common advice is to fight back as hard as you can and “never play dead with a black bear,” but Hechtel disagrees. Once again, with a defensive attack, the idea is to remove the sense of threat; fighting back does the opposite. Sharhag’s findings support this. In a large number of defensive-attack incidents when the person fought back, the injury-outcomes were significantly more severe than when the person did not fight back. Sharhag concludes that when a black bear is “acting defensively, playing dead is more effective at stopping an attack and results in less severe injuries.” 

Just don't play dead too early: wait until the bear has struck you and knocked you down, then lie face down on your stomach, legs partly spread for stability, with your hands interlaced behind your neck and lower skull. As for deterrents, the author prefers bear spray for when a bear is acting defensively, but would "prefer to have an appropriate handgun available for dealing with an animal that breaks into a tent, camper, or dwelling, and for aggressive night-bears in general."

    Most TV shows focus on wilderness survival.  These shows range from participants with plenty of supplies task to reach an extraction point in a defined time period, to those naked with only one survival tool on a mission to survive a predetermined amount of time.

    In most cases, these competitions clearly illustrate the outstanding skills, pit falls, and difficulties of the participants in their respective survival environments. I must admit, most do an exceptional job of surviving their ordeal.

    In reality, these shows represent an aspect of survival that most of you will never encounter.  Thus, as much as you may learn from watching these programs, the skills seen on the show will be of very little value in your most common environment, an urban setting.

    Wilderness survival skills such a primitive fire starting, hunting, building a shelter, and water purification techniques are all valuable skills to know but are virtually useless in the urban survival environment.

    Situational awareness, personal protection, planning, and preparation are far more important aspects of preventing and surviving an untoward urban event.  Urban survival know-how is divided into two very different scenarios of the urban environment.  One is the individual, small scale or personal adverse events, such as robbery, mugging, carjacking, or home invasion.  The other is the large-scale urban survival events such as natural disasters, civil unrest, and economic collapse.

    The likelihood you could find yourself in any one of these urban survival situations is very real and, in most cases, it will happen to each of you more than once in your lifetime.  Thus, it is essential to be prepared to prevent yourself from being a victim of circumstance.

He then goes on to discuss six topics relevant to urban survival--Planning, Preparation, Training, Protection, Communication and Safe Haven--as well as some other more particular subjects such as having bug-out and bug-in plans, special considerations for an urban survival bag, etc.

    Tinder is smaller and starts a fire; kindling is larger and sustains a fire. Tinder is composed of small, fast-igniting materials such as newspaper, dried foliage, or bark. Kindling is composed of larger materials that burn more slowly, such as sticks, logs, and other large, flammable debris.

    The best sustaining strategy for your fire considers a variety of materials – tinder, kindling, and fuel – and how to gather, store, and implement those materials. To start a fire, it’s important to know the difference between tinder and kindling.

The rest of the article goes into how to use each to get going a self-sustaining fire.

  • Useful skill for those living in areas with decent sized squirrels, like the Eastern United States and the South. "How to Clean a Squirrel The Easy Way"--Skilled Survivor.  First you trap them in a live trap. Then you get out your water hose .... No, this is cleaning the carcass to remove the viscera and such. Link goes to an embedded video.
  • On a related note: "Backcountry Meat Care" by Arom von Benedikt, Sports Afield. An excerpt:

    The number one threat to your meat is heat, both external (weather) and internal (body heat). Bacteria only thrive in warm surroundings. Hence, it is imperative to chill your meat as rapidly as possible after harvest.

    Your first task after harvesting a backcountry animal and completing your photography session should be to skin and quarter the animal. This will enable body heat to escape rapidly. I prefer the gutless method, as it renders a quicker job and cleaner meat. Use 550 paracord to hang the quarters in a shady spot till the meat cools, and develops a nice crust. Drape the backstraps and other trim meat over clean shaded branches or rocks to cool. Then bag it all in meat sacks to keep bugs and dirt away from the meat. If bugs are bad (particularly flies), you’ll need to bag the meat the minute it comes off the animal. It’ll cool fine inside the meat sacks, it just won’t develop as good a crust. During the quartering and cooling process, take extra measures to protect the meat from dirt and debris. The cleaner your meat, the longer it will keep and the better it will taste.

    If the weather is cool enough, say low 40s at night and daytime highs in the 60s, your meat will keep fine for several days as long as it stays in the shade. Cooler temps are even better, and will keep the meat longer.

    If temps are hot, say in the 80s during the daytime and 50s or 60s at night, you’ll need a way to chill your meat. The best and only way I’ve found to chill meat in the backcountry is to bag it in contractor-grade trash bags and submerge it in a cold spring or creek. The meat will chill rapidly, and will stay good for a long time.

A lot more there, so read the whole thing.

  • "Manual Kitchen Tools For Off Grid Living"--Modern Survival Blog. Grid down means all those fancy kitchen gadgets won't work. The author looks at some manual alternatives as to preparing coffee, opening cans, grinding wheat or meat, sifter, mortar and pestle, the mandoline slicer, the rotary egg beater, mechanical kitchen timer, an analog kitchen scale, manual pasta maker, camp stove and oven or a solar oven, and a Berkey countertop filter. Good ideas here.

VIDEO: "CLEWS | Ep. 01: A Glimpse Into the ABYSS"--Felix Rex (23 min.)

 Headlines & Current Events:

    A crisis engulfing China’s property sector is affecting its biggest developer, with Country Garden Holdings Co’s (碧桂園) shares and bonds hammered amid fears that a reportedly failed fundraising effort might be a harbinger of waning confidence.

    Country Garden is one of the few remaining large, better-quality private developers that had been largely unscathed by the liquidity crunch, even as peers, such as Shimao Group Holdings Ltd (世茂集團), saw dramatic reversals in their credit ratings.

    The firm is viewed as a bellwether for contagion risk, as unprecedented levels of stress in the offshore credit market threaten to drag good credits down alongside bad ones.

    Since taking the top spot from China Evergrande Group (恆大集團) in 2017, Country Garden has remained China’s largest developer by contracted sales. It employs more than 200,000 people.

    Headquartered in the southern city of Foshan, the firm — like Evergrande — has in the past few year focused on building housing developments in lower-tier cities.

    It has relied heavily on access to funding in the offshore credit market, like many peers that binged on debt to fuel growth.

    It has the largest pool of outstanding dollar bonds among China’s biggest property firms, excluding defaulters, with about US$11.7 billion outstanding, Bloomberg-compiled data showed.

    The latest nuclear shutdown in France was announced by state energy giant EDF today. They said cracks were found near welds on a safety cooling system for two reactors at the Civaux plant in central France during routine safety checks. And EDF decided to shut down another two reactors at its Chooz plant in the eastern Ardennes region as a precaution because they are built to the same design.

    Karine Herviou, deputy chief executive of the French nuclear safety regulator IRSN, said: “The defects that were identified on the last-generation reactors have been found on another reactor.

    “We don’t know if there are problems elsewhere. EDF is in the process of checking all of its data.”

    Now, 10 nuclear reactors out of France’s 56-strong fleet are currently out of service.

    This accounts for about 20 percent of the country’s nuclear capacity – which makes up around 70 percent of the country's power
    A judge in the state of Wisconsin ruled on Thursday that the use of ballot boxes in the 2020 election was, in fact, illegal. Joe Biden was declared the winner over Donald Trump in the state by 20,682 votes.

    Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Michael Bohren issued the decision in a lawsuit that had been filed on behalf of two voters by the Wisconsin Institute of Law & Liberty (WILL). WILL argued that the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) had unilaterally issued guidance to election clerks, authorizing the use of ballot collection boxes, in contradiction of state law.

    “The guidance from the Wisconsin Elections Commission on absentee ballot drop boxes was unlawful. There are just two legal methods to cast an absentee ballot in Wisconsin: through the mail or in-person at a clerk’s office. And voters must return their own ballots,” commented WILL Deputy Counsel Luke Berg. “We are pleased the court made this clear, providing Wisconsin voters with certainty for forthcoming elections.”

    In a memo issued to state election officials months before the 2020 general election, the WEC gave its blessing to install an unlimited number of drop boxes of numerous descriptions: indoors or outdoors, staffed or unstaffed, in a box or with a fox. Officials could even use COVID-19 as an excuse to repurpose existing local “infrastructure” for ballot collection, such as mail slots set up for taxes, mail and public utilities, book and media drop slots at the local library, even “businesses or locations that have already implemented social distancing practices, such as grocery stores and banks.”

In other words, Biden probably didn't win Wisconsin.

    Sutton, who has long studied the impact of “race neutral” policies on communities of color, said Chicago’s experience should be a cautionary tale for cities considering camera programs.

    “It’s the same cycle, right, in terms of their interaction with the state and with the justice system,” Sutton said. “But the way you enter that is not through a police officer, but through this supposedly unbiased technology. … I don’t think there’s a technological fix to an unjust system.”

    Winston Glynn, 30, is accused of murdering 19-year-old Burger King employee Kristal Bayron-Nieves during a robbery in the early hours of Sunday morning.

    As officers led Glynn out of the police station into a police vehicle, video captured Glynn shouting social justice slogans at an angry crowd who gathered outside the station.

    “Where’s our reparations for four hundred years of f***ing slavery,” Glynn shouted.  
    Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell called high inflation a “severe threat” to a full economic recovery and said Tuesday the central bank was preparing to raise interest rates because the economy no longer needed emergency support.

    Mr. Powell said he was optimistic that supply-chain bottlenecks would ease this year to help bring down inflation as the Fed takes its foot off the gas pedal. But he told lawmakers at his Senate confirmation hearing that if inflation stayed elevated, the Fed would be ready to step on the brakes. “If we have to raise interest rates more over time, we will,” he said.

    He said nothing to push back against expectations that have firmed in interest-rate futures markets over the past week that the central bank would begin a cycle of interest-rate increases in March.

It continues:

    While he offered few specifics, Mr. Powell said the central bank could begin to shrink its $8.8 trillion portfolio of bonds and other assets later this year, which would be another tool for tightening financial conditions.

    Compared with a prior experience shrinking the portfolio last decade, the process now could run “sooner and faster, that much is clear,” he said. “We’re going to have to be both humble and a bit nimble.”

    The Fed cut short-term interest rates to near zero and started buying bonds to lower long-term rates in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. economy, triggering financial-market volatility and a deep, short recession.

    “It is really time for us to begin to move away from those emergency pandemic settings to a more normal level,” Mr. Powell said. “It’s a long road to normal from where we are.”

    Fed officials who lead regional banks in Cleveland, Atlanta and Richmond, Va., said in interviews or speeches on Monday and Tuesday that they would favor raising rates as soon as March.

And, in probably the understatement of the year:

The coming transition—in which the Fed uses both interest rates and its asset portfolio to dial back stimulus—”could be a bumpy one,” warned Kansas City Fed President Esther George in a speech Tuesday.

Hopefully the coming recession will not be as bad as the one in the early 1980s when the Fed tried to get the inflation that began in the 1970's under control.

    Law enforcement in Sweden has pointed to criminal migrant clans as driving the growth in shootings.

    “These clans have come to Sweden solely to organize crime. They work to create power, they have a great capacity for violence, and they want to make money. And they do that through drug crimes, violent crimes, and extortion,” said Deputy National Police Chief Mats Löfving, who made the remarks in 2020, which garnered national headlines.

    He warned that there are 40 migrant gang clans operating in Sweden, and they are dynasties built on crime, and for that reason, it is hard for law enforcement to penetrate the inner circle of these clans.

    Gustav Kasselstrand, president of the right-wing Alternative for Sweden (AfS), told Hungarian daily news outlet Magyar Hirlap in 2020 that Sweden’s government and much of its media appear unwilling to make the connection with Sweden’s growing crime problem and its migrant community.

    “The government seldom speaks of the criminality that is the result of its botched migration policy and even if it does, they won’t admit the connection between gang wars and immigration,” Kasselstrand said, adding that unless gang members are deported to their lands of origin, gang violence will keep rising.

    Gothenburg’s police commissioner, Erik Nord, also said in 2020 that the rise in fatal shootings experienced by Sweden is directly tied to mass immigration. Once known as one of the safest countries in the world, Sweden now has one of the highest deadly shooting rates in Europe. During the early 2000s, the country’s crime and shooting rate were unremarkable, but with the increase in mass migration, the country has spiraled into a cycle of violence.

    So far, the government’s efforts to fight recidivism have produced a little effect, as 76 percent of those involved in shootings had already been convicted of committing a crime.

    In October of 2020, Linda Staaf, head of the intelligence unit of the National Operational Department (NOA) of the Swedish police force, noted that second-generation migrants had created a new form of gang culture in some no-go areas.

    “Overall, we have three types of criminal structures: criminal organisations, such as criminal motorcycle gangs; family-based criminal networks in clan structures; and a new type of culture and network – that is, loose networks that are mainly gang criminals in vulnerable areas,” Staaf noted.

    “The loosely composed networks often consist of second-generation immigrants. Parts of the clan structure are brought with them like honour and blood vengeance,” she said.

    The man was spotted on the streets of the commune in the afternoon by witnesses who called the police after the man, who was driving a vehicle at the time along the Quai des Mines, was heard shouting “Allahu Akbar!” and “Allah is here, you will die!”

    When police arrived on the scene they were able to quickly identify the driver who got out of his car and immediately assaulted the three officers with his car keys, hitting the officers in the face with them, Actu17 reports.

    Police were able to subdue and arrest the 36-year-old but all three officers, two female police and a male officer, were taken to the hospital to deal with the injuries they had sustained in the attack.

    The FBI has finally admitted the Texas synagogue siege was an anti-Semitic terror attack after initially claiming it was not directly targeting Jews.

    Malik Faisal Akram, from Blackburn in the UK, held four people hostage, including a rabbi, for ten hours at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, Saturday night.

    Speaking Saturday after the attack, which ended with the death of Akram in a hail of bullets, FBI Special Agent Matt DeSarno said: 'We do believe from our engaging with this subject that he was singularly focused on one issue, and it was not specifically related to the Jewish community. But we're continuing to work to find motive.'

    The comments caused a huge backlash, with Republican Lindsey Graham firing back at the 'disturbing' remarks from investigators and demanding further explanation.

    In a statement late Sunday night, the FBI backtracked and admitted the attack was 'a terrorism-related matter, in which the Jewish community was targeted'.

The article further explains:

    Akram allegedly flew to the US two weeks ago, lived in homeless shelters and bought a gun on the street. 

    He was calling for the release of terrorist Aafia Siddiqqui from a prison in nearby Fort Worth in Texas.

    Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker was leading the Sabbath service and was among Akram's four hostages. 

    The FBI also initially said there was 'no indication' that anyone else was involved in the siege, but two teenagers were arrested over the incident by anti-terror officers in Manchester, England, last night. 

    The pair, both believed to be under 18, cannot be identified for legal reasons and are still in custody.
    Maj. Gen. Igor Kirillov, the head of the Russian military’s radiation, chemical, and biological protection troops, alleged at a briefing that the lab in Georgia was part of a network of US labs near the borders of Russia and China.

    The allegations were based largely on materials about the US-funded Richard G. Lugar Center for Public Health Research in Tbilisi, Georgia. Kirillov claimed the documents released by former Georgian State Security Minister Igor Giorgadze showed the facility was funded entirely by the US and the Georgian ownership it has on paper was a cover.

    Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon strongly rejected Kirillov’s claims, calling them “an invention of the imaginative and false Russian disinformation campaign against the West” and “obvious attempts to divert attention from Russia’s bad behavior on many fronts.”

This comes after reports that unknown persons had seized a U.S. funded lab near the city of Almaty in Kazakhstan. Per the Asia Times:

    The US-Kazakh partnership in this field dates back to 2003. Kazakhstan has been an interesting “hotspot” for infectious disease occurrence and surveillance in part because of its history, geography and its diversity of host species. Kazakhstan has maintained infrastructure and a tiered network for infectious disease surveillance since the time of the czars.  

    The US-funded research projects centered on studies involving select agents including zoonoses: anthrax, plague, tularemia, highly pathogenic avian influenza, brucellosis, etc. These projects funded researchers in Kazakhstan, while project collaborators in the US and UK mentored and guided these researchers to develop and test their hypotheses. 

    The unassumingly named Central Reference Laboratory (CRL) in Almaty figuring in the Tass report was originally planned in 2013, with the US investing US$102 million in a biosecurity lab to study some of the most deadly pathogens that could potentially be used in bioterrorism attacks. 

    Rather than locating the new facility in some obscure tract of land in Nevada, the Pentagon deliberately chose a site near Almaty to store securely and study the highest-risk diseases such as plague, anthrax and cholera. 

    The rationale was that the lab would provide gainful employment to talented Kazakh researchers and get them off the streets, so to speak – that is, discourage them from selling their scientific expertise and services to terrorist groups who may have use for biological weapons.

    But the CRL, now operational, is anchored on institutional cooperation between the Kazakh government and the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency under the Pentagon, which is tasked with protecting “US national security interests in a rapidly evolving, globalized threat environment to enable a greater understanding of our adversaries and provide solutions to WMD [weapons of mass destruction] threats in an era of great-power competition.” 

Good Lord! Who knows what is now in the wild. 

... the pandemic may soon be over or at least tolerable. While this development is good news, it will raise questions over whether many of the powers assumed in the name of scientific authority were inflated in retrospect. Its one undoubted legacy has been to damage the reputation of the ruling class. As Daniel Henninger writes in the WSJ, “Omicron has killed certitude. People no longer care what government or ‘science’ tells them about Covid-19.” The public has concluded that officials have overreached, and this has — at least temporarily — ruined their credibility.
Were Utah a truly civilized place, the governor’s next move would be to find a way to mandate the kind of mass vaccination campaign we should have launched a year ago, going as far as to deploy the National Guard to ensure that people without proof of vaccination would not be allowed, well, anywhere.
    ... A new study reveals older patients contracting COVID have more signs of brain damage than people who develop the neurodegenerative disease.

    Specifically, a team from NYU Grossman School of Medicine found significantly higher levels of certain blood proteins which typically rise when someone suffers neurological damage among COVID patients. Researchers say, over the short-term course of their infections, seven markers of brain damage were noticeably higher among COVID patients than non-COVID patients with Alzheimer’s. One of these markers was more than twice as high among coronavirus patients.

    “Our findings suggest that patients hospitalized for COVID-19, and especially in those experiencing neurological symptoms during their acute infection, may have levels of brain injury markers that are as high as, or higher than, those seen in people who have Alzheimer’s disease,” says lead author Jennifer Frontera, MD, a professor in the Department of Neurology, in a university release.

More here. I'm seeing this first hand as one of my in-laws, who was fully vaccinated against COVID, recently came down with Covid and has many symptoms consistent with dementia.  

A look at the results of subsidizing homelessness. 

Commentary & Analysis:
    I found myself wondering, what is the left so afraid of?

    They control virtually everything: The presidency, Congress, Higher Education, lower education, professional schools and organizations, Hollywood and the entertainment industry, Big Tech and every substantial social media platform, all the large mainstream broadcast, digital, and print media with the exception of News Corp. entities, the HR department of almost every major corporation and many of the boardrooms, the permanent federal bureaucracy, the Joint Chiefs and senior military leadership, the FBI and DOJ, and I could go on and on.

    It’s hard to think of any major national institution the left doesn’t control, except maybe the U.S. Supreme Court depending on which side of the bed Roberts and Kavanaugh wake up that morning. Which is why they want to symbolically blow it up through court packing, if they could.

    It’s hard to imagine it ending. I’ve written many times about the dread of living with the loss of institutions. It’s something only people in the center or right-of-center have to think about. So many of us don’t see a way out.

    What is the left so afraid of at their moment of near total control? Do they know something we don’t?

    For one, there are cracks in the armor. They don’t control all the states, and that is a warning to them. The Free State of Florida is thriving, people are fleeing blue states for red states. People yearning to be free scares them. The parents movement scares them, because it’s a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, cross-party movement to reclaim the children. Internet platforms not under their control scare them. People who disagree with them and refuse to be silenced scare them. At some point, it can’t be contained.

    Like the animals that sense a tsunami coming long before it’s visible and run to higher ground, they feel it coming. It’s not a guarantee, but just the thought of it is creating panic.
    What exactly is social cohesion erosion? you ask.

    If you think it sounds scary, you’re not alone. According to the WEF, it’s “perceived as a critical threat to the world across all time spans—short, medium, and long term—and is seen as among the most potentially damaging for the next 10 years.” Social cohesion worsens upon rising divisions and polarization in society—as income inequalities are exacerbated by the pandemic’s lopsided recovery, for example, with 51 million people projected to live in extreme poverty by 2030 while billionaires grow richer than ever. Erosion also lurks in the fissures created by opposing viewpoints vaccines and on face-mask mandates, and in the rallying cries for long-awaited racial justice in historically oppressed communities.

    Put simply, it’s the crumbling of civil society, fractured by divergent forces from within. Consider the attack on the U.S. Capitol led by Donald Trump supporters a year ago; that’s “one manifestation of the instability that political polarization risks creating,” the report says. In the pessimistic scenario, it’s just a harbinger of what’s to come. And voters seem to feel it looming: In a recent poll, they named “division in the country” as their greatest worry, and said they expected it to increase in 2022.

    It’s not just domestic, either. Social fraying endangers global populations, as a sense of disenfranchisement grows in large swaths of the world, especially amid a lack of collaboration among powerful governments, which have largely failed to help developing nations crawl out of the pandemic, resolve humanitarian crises, or fight natural disasters wrought by climate change. Environmental neglect, extreme weather, and biodiversity loss were also cited among the top risks we face today.

    A gloomy flowchart in the WEF’s report lists the possible offspring of social cohesion erosion, including:
  • youth disillusionment
  • social security collapse
  • livelihood crises
Pair that with “mental health deterioration,” another side effect of the pandemic, and it gets even scarier. All of that could come as a slow burn, with fallout covering the next decade.

I would point out that the number one and two concerns of Americans is actually the economy and inflation. And, if you look at Robert Putnam's work, the loss of social cohesion is largely due to multiculturalism and immigration, two causes heavily pushed by elites. 

  • "The Managerial Elite's funeral pyre"--Bore Patch. The author quotes heavily from a piece by Peter Greer (who used to blog as the Arch Druid) about why the managerial elite (our philosopher kings, so to speak) are so oblivious to their own incompetence. He writes: "Peter thinks that they are trying to crash the airplane into a mountain - create enough starvation and impoverishment that a desperate population turns to them to fix the crisis they created.  I could see them try this; I don't think that the reaction will be what they think it will be." Namely, the author sees the elite as having lost so much respect that no one will trust them to fix things. Also:
    This so-called "elite" knows nothing of history.  Basically every revolution in history was started by a starving underclass.  While I think that Peter is right that they could very well pitch this country into that sinkhole, they do not seem to realize that each of these revolutions was against the Powers That Be who were running things.  Just how they will harness all this underclass rage against The Man when they're him is beyond me.

    They're desperate, and they're out of gas, and it sure doesn't look like their scheme to start revolution in the streets can do anything other than build their own funeral pyre ....
    Our national elite is united enough to have the vices of a ruling class, but not the virtues. In particular, they are cohesive enough to be perceived as oppressive by much of the populace, but they are rarely gracious and conciliatory when needed. They know how to make enemies, but not friends.

    Culturally and ideologically, America’s elites have consolidated into a regime, with Big Tech, the legacy media, academia, Big Business, the entertainment industry, and, of course, the leaders of the Democratic Party, all singing from the same hymnal, even if they sometimes squabble over the key. But many citizens refuse to join in.

    The American ruling class thus faces an ancient problem: how do political, cultural, and economic winners convince everyone else to accept the system; how do elites secure the consent of non-elites? Members of our ruling class cannot appeal to religion or immemorial custom to justify their place. Indeed, they cannot appeal to much of anything beyond their own supposed merits, both personal (they earned their place) and as a class (they believe themselves to be wise and leading us well).

    But the superlative merits of our ruling class are less obvious to the rest of us. Thus, hardly a day goes by without The New York Times, Washington Post, and other legacy media outlets warning that some villain or other — Donald Trump, Fox News, Facebook misinformation, the Senate, the Supreme Court, even local leaders and parents — is a Threat to Our Democracy! By democracy, they mostly mean the wishes of the ruling class.
    Anyone paying attention knows the American government is broken. Whether we understand the Constitution or not, we know intuitively that something isn’t right. We may grouse generally—“Government spends too much money,” or “Government should be doing X”—but it’s hard even to begin explaining why the system isn’t working.

    There are several major trends that explain a great deal. The first has its origins in the founding of the Second American Party System in the late 1820s and the growth of the patronage or “spoils” system; the second has been the growing irrelevance of the House of Representatives in recent decades; and the third is the much more recent cowardice (or ignorance) of our state legislators. These developments have placed the American system of government in triple jeopardy. Thus, it is imperative to understand how we got here, and why these changes in the electoral and legislative systems will not permit any real change short of revolutionary change.

Schweikart argues that the death of the spoils system, where office holders rewarded their supporters with jobs has, since the enacting of civil service reform, instead produced a system that, "rather than promising a few dozen jobs to supporters, politicians now [have] to escalate their disbursements to large so-called 'interest groups.' Farmers, teachers, autoworkers, and retirees all started to lobby for government goodies in the form of subsidies, government-permitted price controls, minimum-wage laws, or other acts of the government. The result was the same, except that groups instead of individuals were now on the receiving end of the patronage behemoth." Thus, there is no incentive for politicians to control government spending or bloat.

    Schweikart then states: "Two more developments, compounding our governmental disfunctionality, have emerged in the last three decades—developments which would have made the Founders’ heads spin." The first of these is that by being unable to make and pass budgets, the House of Representatives has frittered away it most valuable leverage, the control over the budget.

This has amounted to a profound devolution of the House’s legislative power from what the Founders intended. The Senate is now the important chamber, a shocking reversal of the English system, wherein the “upper” house (The House of Lords) became irrelevant, while supreme power shifted into the hands of the lower house (The House of Commons). Under Pelosi, the final transfer of power from the House of Representatives to the Senate—which now controls the only truly important job, that of confirming appointees and judges—was finalized. Starting with Obama and then continued by Trump and Biden, real “legislation” now emanates from the president’s executive orders, with passive approval from the Senate, while the House looks on.

And the final development:

    But the death blow to federalism and the separation of powers involved another, more recent shift: that of state legislatures willingly ceding their power to governors. During the COVID-19 lockdowns, state legislatures meekly retreated as governors turned into autocrats, driving businesses into bankruptcy, trampling civil rights, and imposing mask mandates willy-nilly. Only months later did the state legislatures of Ohio and Michigan dare to even mention gubernatorial impeachment as the lockdowns wore on, destroying state economies across the country.

    To this date, not a single state governor who imposed draconian lockdown measures has been called to task, impeached, or even seen his or her power abridged, save for a couple of state supreme court rulings. Moreover, in the fraudulent 2020 presidential election, when it was clearly the right and duty of state legislatures to demand full accounting of the votes, to withhold certification of the election, and to otherwise stand up to the fraud, not one did so.

    This was not just cowardice: In many cases this titanic failure represented decades of dumbing down of constitutional duties at every level. Most of these legislators did not even know they had the constitutional power to decline to certify a fraudulent vote. Republican-in-name-only governors such as Mike DeWine in Ohio and Brian Kemp in Georgia certainly weren’t about to tell them. In short, between the lockdowns and the fraudulent 2020 vote certifications, the role of the state legislatures has been just as emasculated as that of the U.S. House as a whole.

    These failures constitute an abandonment of the instruments of government the Founders expected would be the backbone of the American Republic. It has been the willful self-destruction of legislative bodies at all levels that enabled the despotism of executives.

  • As a counter to the January 6 "insurrection" fairytale, Legal Insurrection reminds us that Democrats have never condemned "the multi-day May, 2020 assault on the White House that left at least 60 Secret Service agents wounded and forced President Trump to be whisked away to a bunker for his personal safety." 
  • "Democrats admit they want to change voting laws because if they don’t, they’ll lose elections"--Neo. Democrats are hiding behind the rubric of "voter rights" to justify this unwarranted federal intrusion. One of the commenters to the article writes: "They mean the ‘voting rights’ of aliens, of people stripped of their political rights due to felony convictions, of people who moved away seven years ago, of people who died last year, and of people who couldn’t be bothered so they gave you the harvester that ballot sent to them in the mail unbidden."
  • Curious: "FAA's Statement On Mysterious Air Traffic Halt Leaves More Questions Than Answers"--The Drive. On January 10, 2022, the FAA issued an order grounding all air traffic in Hawaii and along the West Coast. This was about the time that North Korea had tested a new missile. However, NORAD had quickly determined that the course of the missile would not come anywhere near the United States, and denies having issues a warning to the FAA. The FAA's statement about the order simply states:
As a matter of precaution, the FAA temporarily paused departures at some airports along the West Coast on Monday night. Full operations resumed in less than 15 minutes. The FAA regularly takes precautionary measures. We are reviewing the process around this ground stop as we do after all such events.

The author of the article writes about the foregoing statement:

This statement is immediately curious for a number of reasons. For one, publicly available recordings of air traffic controllers on the ground talking with pilots at the time show that this pause was not limited to the West Coast of the continental United States. For instance, pilots in Honolulu, Hawaii were given similar instructions. 

  • A desolating scourge? If you have been following my Docent's Memo posts the last several weeks, you know that China has been locking down cities to prevent the spread of Covid even with very few cases of Covid being reported. Strangely, however, the first of these cities to be locked down was Xi’an which was locked down not just because of Covid but because of an outbreak of rodent-borne hemorrhagic fever. But the European Conservative wonders if the continued shutdowns are due to a spread of hemorrhagic fever or, even worse, a mutated virus that combines Covid and the hemorrhagic fever. Writing in his article, "Has a New 'Xi’an City' COVID Variant with Ebola-like Symptoms Escaped China?" the author acknowledges that the shutdowns could be the result of China wanting to not embarrass itself by allowing Covid to spread to the athletes and visitors attending the upcoming Winter Olympics.
Addressing the issue why Xi'an was locked down, the author observes:

    CCP officials explicitly stated that it was the Delta variant. They went out of their way to say that it was not the more contagious Omicron variant. Were they telling the truth? The presence of a new variant is unlikely to be openly confessed by the CCP. The problem is that this is the same CCP that has successfully obstructed every independent investigation into the origins of COVID itself, knowing that the facts lead inexorably back to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, so uncovering the truth of the situation in Xi’an will be a near-impossible task.

    But what would you do, if you were a pitiless illegitimate dictator, sitting on an undeclared new variant, six weeks before you were to host the Winter Olympics? I know what I would do. I would hit Xi’an with the most furious lockdown it had ever seen and at the same time pretend that any differing symptoms presented by the new variant were due to a totally different virus that just happened to be coincidentally circulating at the same time.

But things may not be as they seem:

    The brutality of the Xi’an lockdown is unlike anything we have seen since the CCP first tried desperately—and unsuccessfully—to suppress COVID-19 in Wuhan at the beginning of the outbreak in late 2019.

    No one is allowed out of their homes, not even for essential shopping supplies; residential tower blocks have been welded shut from the outside. Deserted streets are sprayed with disinfectant. The fact that Xi’an City is literally starving has provoked the even world’s normally lethargic mainstream media to report on the situation.

    Despite the severity of these controls, however, the COVID outbreak is spreading from Xi’an in a broadly easterly direction, forcing full and partial lockdowns all the way to Ningbo, China’s largest port, on the east coast. All the while, the CCP is calculatingly vague about what is actually going on.

The author continues:

    The official symptoms in Xi’an are both similar and different from all other recognised variants. In addition to all the expected respiratory tract symptoms, there is also recorded haemorrhaging including from the eyes, ears, and nose. 

    How did the CCP explain this? Officially, the CCP—the same authority that claims less than 5,000 people have died of COVID-19 in China since the beginning of the outbreak—closed down Xi’an City because of the above-cited six Delta cases. But the CCP—the same authority that reassured the WHO at the crucial early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak that the virus was not passed via person to person transmission—also highlighted as justification for the Xi’an lockdown an outbreak of an unspecified “seasonal haemorrhagic fever.”

    The official Party press release, dutifully picked up by the Global Times, has the typical move-along-folks-there’s-nothing-to-see-here quality about it. So let’s do what the “gutless, lazy, and dumb Mainstream Media” has so far refused to do, and actually dig a little deeper. (That phrase, by the way, courtesy of the one and only Stephen K Bannon, who demonstrates yet again how well he has the MSM’s number).

    According to the Global Times/CCP press release, this “seasonal haemorrhagic fever” is not person-to-person contagious. But if this really were the case, if the unspecified seasonal haemorrhagic fever were indeed not person to person contagious, why close Xi’an citing it?

    Considering that the official CCP explanation is that the ‘seasonal haemorrhagic fever’ is spread by rodents infecting humans, I suppose we ought to be grateful at least that Xi didn’t blame the Chinese themselves, by accusing them of feasting on rats at a wet market. 

    It is of course possible that specific patients have been unfortunate enough to acquire both the COVID virus and the unspecified seasonal haemorrhagic fever at the same time. It is also possible that such apparent haemorrhagic symptoms are ‘merely’ side-effects from (or perhaps over-dosing on) one of the vaccines. A possibility that is either comforting or alarming depending on your point of view.

The author speculates that the hemorrhagic fever reported by the Chinese might be some variant of Marburg Virus Disease (MVD), which itself originated in bats. Because of the common zoonotic roots in bats, the author suggests that it would be easier for Covid to virally recombine with the MVD to produce a hybrid. Since the omicron variant is believed to be a viral recombination between Covid and the common cold, this is not impossible. The worrying thing is such a recombinant variant may have already escaped China:

Last week, news emerged that ticked all the boxes of a potential new variant that is a hybrid between COVID and MVD. Six people have been reported to have died since December in Brazil. An article in Outbreak News Today speaks of “a wave of death for patients who manifested respiratory syndromes and haemorrhages in recent weeks […] after experiencing shortness of breath, coughing, fever, chest pain and haematemesis (vomiting blood).” This could be the viral recombination which I’m calling the Xi’an Variant, though obviously much further testing would be needed to know for sure. Testing by internationally respected, independent experts not in the pay of the CCP.

VIDEO: "BEST Cloak for a Medieval Adventurer"--Living Anachronism (25 min.)
An alternative to the woobie?

And Now For Something Completely Different:
    ... Even today, where humans live alongside predators, both children and adults get eaten. Harry Greene, a herpetologist at Cornell University and one of a handful of my colleagues more likely to be eaten by a wild animal than to die of old age, and Thomas Headland, an anthropologist, recently conducted a study of Agta hunter-gatherers in the Philippines. Harry was excited to find that the Agta lived among a high density of pythons. The Agta tend to be not quite so excited; Greene and Headland found that one in four Agta men had been attacked by a reticulated python. Of the 120 men whose stories were considered for the study, six had been killed by a python. That’s a death-by-python rate of 1 in 20. Those are lousy odds, but most of us have escaped such risks by living in houses and cities and living where our ancestors killed off the most dangerous predators, be they tigers, cave bears, or giant, carnivorous kangaroos. We should be grateful for having escaped—and yet we haven’t really escaped, because our bodies are burdened by our long history of trying to get away.

    When our hamburger-size ancestors lived in trees, it was extraordinarily valuable to be able to respond immediately to the potential presence of a predator. Many primate species have alarm calls that are specific for different predators. The first primate nouns were almost certainly those embedded in calls that meant, “Oh shit, big cat!” “Oh shit, giant eagle!” or “For the love of god, did you see the size of that snake?”  In this way, predators may have had a positive impact on who we are now, having given us the precursors of language, or at the very least, cussing.
    In addition to inventing words for these predators, we also responded in other ways. When we saw or heard a sign of danger—a movement in the grass, a strange shadow—hormonal reactions screamed out inside our bodies. These fight-or-flight responses sped up the heart, increased blood flow to muscles, caused hyperventilation (to get more oxygen for quick reaction), and made us more likely to respond quickly to a predator by searching for it, hiding, running away, or for the truly brave, throwing a stick and then running away.

    These fight-or-flight signals and associated jumpiness and anxiety are part of the problem in modern urban life, part of our discontent. They are triggered by all sorts of ordinary activities. Thinking of taxes causes our hearts to beat fast. So does being late for a meeting, forgetting your homework, or contemplating how to pay for a home improvement. In none of these cases does our fight-or-flight response serve a purpose. It gets us agitated. It makes our heart beat faster. It prepares us to run, but to where? To what end?

    Right now there are anxious people all around you, ready to run from predators that aren’t there. Our misplaced anxiety can seem silly (the other day I just about melted down while trying to find my keys so that I could drive to the gym, where I was planning to run in place). But it is still a serious problem that can cost money and can cost lives. We have resolved this plague in part by medicating. Xanax, Valium. and other drugs help. “There are no more leopards,” the little pills say, and we rest more easily.

An interesting article, so be sure to read the whole thing.
... the Clovis people’s status as adept killers of tusked beasts weighing up to about 9 metric tons has come under fire. New experimental and archaeological studies suggest an entirely different scenario, says archaeologist Metin Eren of Kent State University in Ohio. Clovis points had many uses, like a Swiss Army knife, Eren contends. Spear-throwing hunters might have occasionally killed a mammoth, especially one separated from its group or slowed due to injury. More often, these tools served as knives to cut meat off carcasses of already dead mammoths or as dart tips hurled to scare away other scavenging animals drawn to mammoth remains, Eren and his colleagues conclude in the October Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

    The main thrust of the study (pardon the pun) was that Clovis point spears simply could not penetrate deeply enough into a mammoth to have mortally wounded it, and they have the terminal ballistic tests to prove it (although I would note that they used clay rather than ballistic gelatin).  

    Anti-human leftists have long proposed that North American megafauna died out due to over-hunting by Clovis hunters, a lesson on how dreadful humans are to the environment, rather than other causes such as climate change or the more recent theory of a large impactor at about 10,000 B.C. that struck Greenland. So less evidence of the over hunting theory would tend to support some other cause such as the meteor strike. On the other hand, Native Americans are believed to have wiped out whole species of bison by overhunting by the expedient of using fire drives to drive herds over cliffs or into ravines (an incredibly wasteful method of hunting). In other words, there are other ways to hunt than sticking an animal full of spears.
  • When government becomes the problem: "Don't Try This at Home"--Wired. The government has cracked down on chemical supply companies sale of chemicals and supplies that can be used to manufacture fireworks and explosives. Unfortunately, many of these same chemicals are used for chemical experiments. This has had a chilling effect on companies selling these products to the home experimenter and home schoolers trying to teach chemistry.
    In the past several years, the CPSC [Consumer Product Safety Commission] has gone after a variety of online vendors, demanding the companies require customers to prove they have a license to manufacture explosives before they can purchase any chemical associated with making them. Many of these compounds, however, are also highly useful for conducting science experiments. Sulfur, for example, is an ingredient in hydrogen sulfide, an important tool for chemical analysis. Potassium perchlorate and potassium nitrate are widely used in labs as oxidizers.

    The CPSC’s war on illegal fireworks is one of several forces producing a chilling effect on amateur research in chemistry. National security issues and laws aimed at thwarting the production of crystal meth are threatening to put an end to home laboratories. In schools, rising liability concerns are making teachers wary of allowing students to perform their own experiments. Some educators even speculate that a lack of chem lab experience is contributing to the declining interest in science careers among young people.

    Every young star and star-forming region around the Sun within 500 light years of Earth sits on the surface of a "Local Bubble," according to a new study.

    The bubble consists of a cavity of low-density, high-temperature plasma surrounded by a shell of cold, neutral gas and dust, according to the study, published Wednesday in the journal in the journal Nature.

    Researchers based at the Center for Astrophysics and the Space Telescope Science Institute said that Earth is at the center of the bubble, which was created by supernovas and expanded by at least 15 powerful star explosions.


  1. Sorry - took three times to comment! Suspicious Observers might have a comment on those supernovas . . .


Ukraine War Update (May 13, 2022)

 You may have already read this since the Institute for the Study of War seems to be one of the major go-to sites for information on the war...