Saturday, April 22, 2017

Learning from ancient history


Last month, Cdr. Salamander put up a very interesting video of a talk by Prof. Eric Cline, titled '1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed'.  Before embedding it, he had this to say.

Few things seem as frightening, or as unrealistic to those living in the "now," as systemic societal collapse. Not just of your country, but of the entire global system. All the zombie books, movies, and stories derive from that concern in the back of everyone's mind; an almost genetic memory. It should be, as almost complete collapse has been a regular occurrence throughout human history.

Sure, when you bring up the topic, most will think of the fall of Rome, but that was just one recent example in a long series of diverse, complicated, and relatively advanced civilizations that collapsed over the course of thousands of years on every continent but Antarctica - and at least for now - Australia.

I find this topic fascinating because there is always a collapse in the making small, and perhaps even large. They are decades, and more often than not centuries, in the making. Sometimes it is the collapse of a single nation, but often it is something much greater. Unless you believe that you are living in a unique moment in human history that has brought a halt to all the normal ebb and flow of our existence, you have to ask yourself, when is the next collapse?

Will it be small and localized somewhere else, or a cascading global collapse driven by its own inertia and logic?

Is it in 10 years? 100? Are we going to be lucky and have another 500 yrs to so to go? Or, are you living right in the middle of one yet, being part of it, don't have the perspective to see what is going on?

All these things came to mind again while watching the below video from Eric Cline, PhD, professor at George Washington University in DC, and author of a book, 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed.



There's more at the link.  Highly recommended reading.

The video's over an hour long, but it's very interesting for anyone with a sense of history and a willingness to learn.  I strongly recommend that you take the time to watch it.  You'll learn a lot.





Thought-provoking indeed . . .

Peter

A potent reminder of why you should keep cash on hand


The power failure yesterday in San Francisco demonstrated, yet again, that cash is still essential.

Johnny Sadoon, owner of Sutter Fine Foods on Nob Hill, sat against a register eating vanilla ice cream from a Häagen-Dazs carton. He figured he had but a few hours before he should start to worry about the food going bad and the ice cream melting in the freezers.

He had kept the store open despite the blackout and a few customers perused the darkened aisles, but because the credit card machine doesn’t work without power, sales were few and far between.

“No one pays cash anymore,” he said, spoon in hand as a siren wailed outside. “I’m angry. I’m annoyed.”

There's more at the link.

I can already hear some readers scoffing that a short-term power failure like that is nothing to worry about, and no reason to increase their cash reserves at home . . . but what if it isn't short-term?  The Pentagon appears to be thinking about that already.

Amid warnings that North Korea and Iran have plans to take out parts of the U.S. electric grid through a cyber attack or atmospheric nuclear blast, the Pentagon is taking steps to both protect the nation's communications and power lifeline.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has charged BAE Systems to map a system that can detect a cyber attack and gin up an alternative communications network for military and civilian use if the grid is fried, according to Defense Systems, the online newsletter.

Former CIA Director James Woolsey has been warning for years that the grid is extremely vulnerable, and recently the Pentagon and some states have taken the warning seriously. Woolsey and former EMP Commission chief of staff Peter Vincent Pry have pointed a finger at North Korea, which is now threatening the U.S.

DARPA's focus is on thwarting a cyber attack, but Pry and Woolsey have also warned that North Korea or Iran could attack the grid with an atmospheric nuclear explosion over the East Coast that will disable the grid and that could end up leading to the death of 90 percent of those in the East.

Again, more at the link.  Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.

Given North Korea's record of unsuccessful missile launches, I daresay the nuclear threat at this time is relatively low . . . but it may not stay that way.  That's probably why President Trump appears determined to do something about it before it gets more serious.  As for a cyber-attack, even if it's thwarted, it may result in local or regional disruptions of the power supply for days, or even weeks, while normal operations are restored.

I can only repeat my frequently-expressed recommendation, in my articles on economic conditions and emergency preparations, to keep extra cash at home, in a secure location.  If possible, I strongly suggest you have enough for at least one month's normal expenditure on everything - rent, utilities, regular payments, groceries, fuel, the whole enchilada.  Even if a month's cash is impossible, at least try for a week's worth.  That way, if things do grind to a halt, electrically speaking, you'll have enough to buy emergency supplies . . . while others, who haven't taken that precaution, are left waving useless credit and debit cards at silent, powerless (literally) card machines.

(I might add that a decent supply of cash, under such circumstances, can result in a windfall in supplies.  On more than one occasion I've seen a desperate store owner, knowing that he was about to lose the entire contents of his refrigerators and freezers to a power failure, sell them at half or more off their regular price.  If you have a freezer at home, and a small generator to keep it going until power is restored, you might pick up several weeks' worth of meat at far less than the usual cost - to say nothing of multiple gallons of ice cream!)

Peter

Friday, April 21, 2017

At the bleeding edge of anti-missile warfare


I found this very interesting article about three young Israeli officers, each serving in an anti-missile unit, discussing their experiences in engaging incoming threats.  Here's an excerpt.

Ron, Dima and Chen are the face of a new brand of warfare. They may talk shyly, sometimes a bit too quietly, and smile with embarrassment when talking about their accomplishments, but they, along with the IDF's cyber warfare unit, are at the forefront of the battle against the threats Israel faces today.

They are the interceptors. Being a combat soldier nowadays doesn't necessarily require gun-in-hand and knife-between-the-teeth, but rather advanced technological knowhow and the courage to green-light—with only seconds to decide—the Iron Dome, Patriot or the Arrow missile-defense systems to intercept incoming projectiles. That is true for present threats and even more so for the dangers the future holds.

Each of the three is responsible for a recent, notable missile interception.

. . .

Second Lt. Chen Shaked was also a part of something extraordinary. He fired an Arrow interceptor—a missile system that is very rarely used—on March 17, and it even earned him a new nickname. "I no longer have a name; I'm addressed only as 'The Interceptor'," he says. "They also won't let me wash the finger I used to push the button to intercept."

. . .

"It was during the night between Thursday and Friday. I started my shift at 2am—a regular shift. I got a rundown, and everything was going as it should. There was no intelligence warning; there was nothing special. Then, all of a sudden, a target moving towards Israel appeared on the screen."

That must have been stressful.

"We train for this a lot, so I knew what I had to do, despite being young. I had drilled this, and I know that when I make a decision—in accordance with orders, of course—I'll have full backing.

"In this case, I simply identified a ballistic threat to the State of Israel, and we immediately called in the team we needed for interception. It was very quick. Fourteen seconds after we called the team in, everyone was ready to intercept when given the order. Then I made the decision to do it."

Did you have no one to consult with?

"No. It was just me, on my own, against the missile. In my system, the window of time for making a decision is very small, and you have no one to talk to. By the time I take this upstairs, the missile could hit. There's not much you can do about it besides knowing it's down to you. And then you make a decision based on the orders."

So you pressed the button.

"Yes. And a second or two later, my commander happened to enter the room. I pointed to the board and told him, 'Look, Arrow has been launched.' I was told I stuttered, but I don't remember that. I do remember that he looked at me and said, 'Well done.'"

In those initial moments, before the debriefing and investigation, and before the army officially determined the interception was justified, did you think that perhaps you didn't act correctly?

"I knew that I had done the right thing. My target identification was very clear. But there was this feeling of uncertainty."

And how did others react? After all, an Arrow interception is rare.

"In the first few seconds, the room went quiet. I don't know why; it just went silent. You expect that when something like this happens, that there would be noise, shouting. The Arrow was launched, that's not something that happens every day. But it was quiet. Only a little while later, we started smiling and told each other, 'Way to go!' and 'You’re the man!' There wasn't a deep conversation about it."

. . .

"This kind of interception is something that stays with you. A week after that, we went on a large-scale training exercise, the kind we do every four months, and the reserve soldiers started asking around about the interception. I happened to be there, and they told me, 'It's you? You kid, we've been waiting for 20 years to do this, and you got to?'"

There's much more at the link.

The article makes very interesting reading in this age of missile warfare, when reaction times must be measured in seconds rather than minutes, and a mistake can mean the loss of many civilian lives.

Peter

A useful - and very cheap - firearms accessory


If one uses one's noggin, one can come up with some very low-cost alternatives to products sold by gun stores at a considerable markup.  For example, some time back I pointed out that #4 drywall anchors made very good .22 rimfire snap caps, at a fraction of the cost of the real thing.

Here's another helpful hint for those wanting to buy chamber flags - those red, orange or yellow plastic bars or flags that you insert into a semi-auto pistol or rifle chamber, to indicate that there's no cartridge inside.  They cost one to two dollars apiece when you buy the custom-made variety;  but there's a much cheaper solution - cable ties, like these 8" ones that I use.




They're available in several colors.  I prefer fluorescent orange, because it's a widely recognized safety signal, but you can use all the colors of the rainbow, if you wish.  (That also helps to distinguish between guns owned by different people, if they're stored in the same gun safe:  each person can choose a color for their cable ties, for instant differentiation, even if they own visually identical firearms.  For example, in my gun safe, Miss D.'s firearms are marked with purple cable ties, as it's one of her favorite colors.)  At only $6.99 per 100, these cable ties are very affordable.  If you lose or break one, it's no problem to replace it.  At 8" long, in most pistols they protrude from both the ejection port and the end of the barrel, providing a double visual indication that the firearm is unloaded.  (If you want to use them in a rifle or shotgun, you can get white heavy-duty cable ties from 9" to 36" long - just cut the longer ones to the length you want, and apply a little paint to the ends if you wish.)

For revolvers, it's just as easy.  Simply buy orange drinking straws like these (or whatever color you choose).  They're 0.21" in diameter, which is small enough to fit into any barrel from .22 upwards, although they're a tight fit in the smallest ones.  Slide them in from the muzzle, all the way down through the barrel into the chamber.  If they fit loosely, they can fall out, of course;  but if you handle the gun with due care and attention, that's not a problem - or you can tape them in place, or wrap paper or cloth around the muzzle end to fit more tightly.  As long as they're there, they provide a visual indication that the firearm isn't loaded.  (If your gun's barrel is too long for them, simply insert one straw into another, or tape them together, to double their length.)

Another idea:  for cheap cleaning cloths and patches, retain old underwear and T-shirts after they wear out, and get too many holes or tears or marks to be worn any longer.  Cut them into patch-size squares to use with your cleaning rod, or into larger cloths for wiping down your guns.  You'll also find them useful if you store a firearm in a case with exposed foam pressed against the metal.  The foam can mark the gun over time, and perhaps even become glued to it, through interaction with cleaning solvents, etc.  To guard against this, wrap the gun in a single thickness of clean cloth from an old T-shirt, to separate it from the foam.

If anyone else has useful money-saving ideas like this, please let us know in Comments.  I'm sure we'll all be grateful.

Peter

A truly magnificent rant. Bravo!


Iron Mike sounds off about the Antifa imbeciles, who insist on strutting their stuff in liberal and progressive strongholds against more conservative speakers.  It's rude, in-your-face and anything but politically correct;  but it resonates with my own views, even if I wouldn't put them quite as bluntly as he does.  Here's an excerpt.

Alright ****sticks, this circus has gone on long enough and the audience has gotten tired of the clowns doing the same act for months on end. Your special snowflake brand of socialist revolution (black masks and tipped over trash cans) is sputtering out from underneath you. You’re not any more dedicated and disciplined at seeing this through than you were moving out of your parents’ guest bedroom after your “one semester off” 4 years ago. It’s time to take off the Doc Martins, wash your dreadlocks, remove the 9 facial piercings, and go get a job. You are not a revolutionary. You’re not changing the world. You WILL NOT win. All of your goals are stupid and you should do what you do best... quit. Until at least January 20th, 2020 Donald Trump is still going to be President; America is going to have a Capitalist, Market Economy; and working-class people are not going to fall in line with a bunch of spoiled middle-class college pussies LARP-ing as communist insurgents. Let me delve into this a bit deeper since all you chardonnay socialists clearly have a goddamn learning disorder... and no, your self-diagnosed ‘Autism’ does not make you “Neurodiverse”, it makes you a hand-flapping puddle of mush.

First of all, your stupid ******* beliefs are incoherent at best. Your little red & black flag of ‘Anarcho-Communism’ might as well be a ***damn Bat-Signal that you were on a first name basis with the driver of the short bus as a kid. Anarchism is the complete lack of formal government. Communism is the complete ownership of all property by the State and a state-planned central command economy. You’re telling me you want a world with no government, no private property, and a centralized distribution system to manage all wealth and material necessities? You idiots somehow came to the conclusion that these polar opposite concepts are somehow compatible, and that a bunch of dope smokers that congregated in online blog forums will bring about your imagined utopia by trashing a Starbucks? What the **** is wrong with you? With that level of brain damage, it’s like your mom tried to drown you as a baby in a bathtub full of bong water...

. . .

I could go on all day about how pathetic you all are and how your bullshit movement is just another way for you to escape the real world and your many, many, personal faults... but I have another message for you. Please get more violent. Please don’t learn anything from getting your asses kicked... and double down. Please, for the love of God, pick up an actual weapon and declare yourselves violent enemies of the state. Give us red-blooded Americans the justification to really give you what you’ve been asking for with your constant threats, arson, and violent outbursts. Let’s really turn this into an old-school Communist revolution! I dare you. I double dare you.

There's much more at the link.  Go read, and enjoy.

Peter

When art collides head-on with reality


Two 'art' controversies have made it to the front page in recent weeks, and both raise similar questions.

First, a painting depicting police officers as pigs was removed from exhibition at the Capitol.




This week, a judge refused to order its return.

"There is little doubt that the removal of the painting was based on its viewpoint," Bates said in his ruling, dated Friday. But he concluded that the government's editorial decision to select and present the artwork meant that the display amounted to government speech and was, therefore, not subject to First Amendment protections.

There's more at the link.

Then, the University of Alaska at Anchorage defended a bizarre (and offensive to many, including myself) painting by one of its professors.



The painting shows a nude Captain America (as portrayed by liberal actor Chris Evans) standing on a pedestal and holding Donald Trump’s head by the hair. The head drips blood onto Hillary Clinton, who is reclining provocatively in a white pant suit, clinging to Captain America’s leg. Eagles scream into Captain America’s ear, and a dead bison lies at his feet.

The painting, created by Prof. Thomas Chung, hangs on campus as part of an art exhibition this month.

But it became controversial after a former adjunct professor, Paul R. Berger, posted the image on Facebook, saying he was “not sure how I want to respond to this.” On one hand, he posted, “first thing that comes to mind is freedom of expression,” but he also noted the university’s exhibit was publicly funded.

Again, more at the link.

I think there are two problems to contend with.
  1. If government was involved in any way with the artwork - funding it, and/or paying its creator, and/or deciding whether, where and when to exhibit it, and so on - then it's pretty much no longer a 'free speech' issue.  That's what the judge decided in the first case.
  2. If it involves politically sensitive matter (as both these paintings do), it's bound to offend individuals and groups who disagree with its viewpoint and perspective.  In art as in conversation, civility and common decency are still social lubricants.  When they're deliberately thrown away, friction results.  If this surprises artists and/or their supporters, they're living in cloud cuckoo land.

I have only one strongly-held opinion about both paintings, and that is that government - support, funding, whatever - should have nothing to do with either of them.  If an artist wants to express a particular viewpoint, no matter how personally offensive I may find it, it's his or her right to do so as a private citizen, just as it's mine to support or oppose what their works have to say.  However, when tax dollars play any part whatsoever in producing, displaying or supporting the artist and/or the work(s) concerned, I draw the line.  The 'cops-as-pigs' painting should never have been displayed at the Capitol, and the 'beheaded-Trump' painting should never have been exhibited at UAA.

(For precisely the same reasons, I oppose any and all state funding for the arts.  Taxpayer money should not be used to subsidize private freedom of expression.  It's too easy for it to be hijacked by those of one or another political, social or cultural persuasion - just look at the NEA or PBS for proof of that.  Let those who like the art in question support it by their purchases, donations, etc.  Leave public funds out of the equation.)

Peter

Thursday, April 20, 2017

"How Amazon is dismantling retail"


That's the title of this talk by Prof. Scott Galloway.  It's very interesting, from three different points of view:
  1. What Amazon is doing to the retail sector of the US economy;
  2. Amazon's impact on the brands that are relied upon by most major manufacturers and distributors;  and -
  3. Amazon's longer-term implications for us as consumers.

I've been warning for some time that the rise of robotics and artificial intelligence threatens many traditional jobs.  Now it's becoming clear that those fields, applied to retail (as Amazon is doing at breakneck speed), may literally dismantle the supermarket as we know it today.

I highly recommend watching this video clip in full.  It'll make you think.





You can read an article based on the clip here.  The links it contains to other articles are also worth following.

Peter

Terrorism: None so blind as those who will not see


I was extremely irritated by this so-called expert's views on how to "train our citizens to survive" terror attacks.

A key part of this is what the security industry refers to as “situational awareness” and it’s an effective tool for those trained how to use it properly.

. . .

Therefore, it’s the small pre-event indicators we need to be aware of, the change in engine pitch, the screech of tyres or the sound of people shouting. Unfortunately, most people are not attuned to such warning signs, not just because they haven’t been trained, but simply because they wander around in their own world, or are too busy concentrating on their phone rather than what’s going on around them.

. . .

Surely then, it’s time for the government to establish a national programme to sensitise, train and mobilise the community to play a bigger part to prevent, and deal with a terrorist attack. A call to action for everyone to unite and safeguard our way of life.

. . .

We need to provide the public with the skills and training to enable them to spot the tell tale signs of suspicious activities or behaviour within their neighbourhoods. Including signs of radicalisation and identifying those who support violence and are sympathetic to terrorists and their causes.

How to recognise suspicious articles, behaviour and vehicles and how to provide an accurate description of these to the police. It should also provide a process of things to do after a terror attack in order that communities can work together during a time of difficulty and adversity.

The response to a terror attack and what people can do to protect themselves and their fellow citizens is critical in countering the current threat.

There's more at the link.

Notice what's missing?  At no time does he say a single word about resisting an attack.  At no time does he mention defending oneself and one's loved ones against attack.  At no time does he entertain the possibility of training people to fight back.  As far as I'm concerned, that gaping void in reality degrades and diminishes everything else he has to say.  Awareness of the situation, without the will and the means and the training and the mindset to do something about it, is of little value.

Why allow yourself to be a victim?  Why perish helplessly?  Sure, you may die in a terror attack . . . but if you're going to die anyway, why not die fighting back?  Why not spit defiance into the face of the monsters who try to terrify the society in which they live, and show others of their ilk that they won't have it all their own way?  Who knows?  You might succeed, and live . . . and even if you die, you might set such an example of courage that the next wannabe terrorist might think twice about his evil intentions.  What have you got to lose?

Gabe Suarez puts it succinctly in analyzing the terrorist incident in Fresno a few days ago.

Fresno Police report that a thirty-nine year old, male black, named Kori Ali Muhammad, killed three people Fresno as he shouted "Allahu Akbar”, and other statements about hating white people ... According to Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer, “Muhammad had expressed hatred toward white people and the government ... In a video clip, Muhammad vows to “bring destruction & wrath upon America” and “white devils”.

What is incredulous and almost ridiculous is that Chief Dyer said it was “too early to say whether or not this involves terrorism,” although he acknowledged that Muhammad shouting Allah Akbar “could give that indication”.

LESSONS:

1).  We still live in a time of war.  And the terrorists we have to concern ourselves with as individuals are neither in Syria nor in Iraq.  They are right here, were likely as not born right here, and speak English.  It would be stupid for the reader to not be suspicious of a man like Kori walking up and trying to establish contact with them.  I imagine all his victims, those "white devils" he discusses in his video, were apprehensive about him initially, but their next thought was likely, "Good heavens...I don't want to appear to be a racist".

2).  Fresno is not a gun friendly place, nor in a gun friendly state.  His victims could not have done much - at least not if they were obeying the rules.  Interesting that Mr. Mohammed was not obeying such rules.  I wonder again if the victims were given a do-over, if they would have lifted a middle finger to such rules and carried a pistol with them that day?

3).  America may have made a hard right turn last November, but the left still controls the media and the minds of many ... One must ask, if a similarly motivated man, named himself "Saint John", went out and shot a few people while yelling, "In Jesus' Name!"  I will bet you my police retirement that there would be zero hesitation in labeling such a man a "White Christian Terrorist".  So why the double standard, media people?  One wonders.

We still live in a time of war.

Stay frosty - stay dangerous.

Again, more at the link.

Yes, we are living in a time of war;  and yes, we are all potentially on the front lines, so be prepared to fight.  Why die like a sheep, crawling on your knees and begging for mercy?  At least be willing to die like a man, fighting for what's right, and to defend oneself, one's family and one's country - and be equipped, trained and prepared to fight!

If anyone tells you that's wrong, or immoral, or whatever, treat them and their arguments with the contempt they deserve.  They're nothing more than enablers of terror.




Peter

Dramatic color photographs from World War II


The Imperial War Museum in London, UK has released (in some cases, re-released) a number of color photographs from World War II, when that technology was still not widely used.  They reveal a past that was familiar to many of our parents and grandparents, but is largely forgotten or ignored today.  Here are just three of the recent releases;  click on each image for a larger view.

First, the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper in dry dock in Kiel at the end of the war, after having been heavily bombed by the Royal Air Force.  She was subsequently scrapped.




Here's a British BL 5.5" Medium Gun, firing on German positions in Italy in September 1943.  (This is particularly interesting to me, because those cannon were also used by South Africa well into the 1980's, until sufficient more modern artillery became available to replace them.  I can recall seeing them in action in southern Africa on more than one occasion.)




Here's a Churchill Crocodile flame-thrower tank in operation in France after the Normandy invasion in 1944.




This last picture, also from the Imperial War Museum, isn't part of the recently-released batch, but I find it fascinating nonetheless.  It shows the Royal Navy battleship HMS Howe, passing through the Suez Canal in 1944 on her way to the Pacific Ocean theater of combat, where she served as the flagship of Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser during the Okinawa campaign and the final months of World War II.  The felucca in front of her uses a design that probably dates back to the Exodus, if not before . . . an interesting contrast in technologies.




You'll find many more recently-released photographs at the link.  Interesting viewing for military history buffs.

Peter

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Rev. Paul's blog address has changed


I know many of my readers also follow Rev. Paul at Way Up North.  Due to a slight hiccup with his domain name, he's had to go back to his Blogger account for at least the short term.  You can now find his blog at this address:




Please adjust your bookmarks accordingly.

Peter

Getting buzzed in a rather different way . . .


. . . which was probably a lot more painful, and a lot less fun, than they'd planned!








Peter

The gay lobby just won't shut up


I'm getting very tired of the GLBTEIEIOBBQWTF lobby's insistence on throwing their sexual preferences, practices and peccadilloes in our faces, whether we're interested in them or not.  Quite frankly, I don't give a damn what they do to each other in the privacy of their own bedrooms, or what they use to do it.  It's their business, not mine.  However, when they insist on invading my privacy with their antics, and/or challenging the moral code by which I've chosen to live, they go too far.

I see that this same insistence is now bedeviling British politics.

Sue Perkins and David Walliams are among those who have criticised Lib Dem leader Tim Farron for being evasive when asked whether being gay is a sin.

Mr Farron has been branded a "bigot" and an "absolute disgrace" for failing to answer the question.

On Tuesday night, Channel 4's Cathy Newman asked the Lib Dem leader about his views on LGBT rights and gay people.

She asked: “A while back I asked you if you thought that homosexuality was a sin and you struggled to answer.

“Now you’ve had a while to consider that question, what is the answer?”

He replied: “I don’t think I struggled to answer it at all, Cathy. I think I’m not in the position to make theological announcements over the next six weeks.

“I’m not going to spend my time talking theology or making pronouncements.”

She reminded the Lib Dem leader that in 2015 she had asked him three times if homosexuality was a sin “and you said ‘we’re all sinners’. Is that still the answer?”

Farron replied ... “Just because I’m Christian, it would be a bit boring for everybody to spend the next weeks asking me to make theological announcements that I’m not going to make.”

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said on Good Morning Britain that it is "appalling" if Tim Farron believes homosexuality is a sin urged him to clarify his position.

Comedian David Walliams tweeted: "Mr @timfarron you are definitely a sinner for your continued intolerance & prejudice. Please try and join the rest of us in the year 2017."

There's more at the link.

I wish they'd all shut up . . . but they won't, of course.  They're absolutely intolerant of anyone who disagrees with their liberal, progressive philosophy.

To make it clear to all concerned:  yes, biblical Christianity does condemn homosexuality as a sin.  There's no doubt about that whatsoever.  It's not just a 'cultural thing', but a deeply moral message.  It remains binding on all who accept the Bible as God's word, and that's final.  However, biblical sexual morality covers our sexuality and sexual conduct in a far broader context.  In short, any sexual relationship outside a monogamous, heterosexual marriage is considered sinful, no matter what sex(es) or numbers of people or actions are involved.  That's it, in a nutshell.  Homosexual sin is, in that context, no different from heterosexual sin.

Furthermore, each and every individual must decide whether or not the Bible is, in fact, God's word - and, of course, whether or not there is a God at all, and if so, who (or what) he (or she, or it) may be.  As a Christian, I can't demand that someone who doesn't accept the Bible as Divine revelation must agree with and/or observe its moral precepts, just as he or she can't demand that I have to accept their personal moral precepts as binding on me.  To say that it's "appalling" or "intolerant" or "prejudiced" to believe in a biblical moral standard is to implicitly deny freedom of religion and/or moral choice to others;  and if one denies it to others, then one has no grounds for complaint if and/or when others deny it to you.

As long as I don't seek to force my Christian views on others, they have no right to criticize me in any way for holding them.  They may dissent from them, of course;  but their right to disagree with Biblical morality is the same right that permits me to agree with it.  You can't have one without the other.  Either everybody has freedom of belief, or nobody has it.

I have more than a few gay and lesbian friends, and I continue to enjoy their company.  They know, I'm sure, that I don't approve of the moral code (or lack thereof) by which they choose to live;  but I don't have to approve, and my lack thereof doesn't mean I reject them as individuals.  I continue to like and respect them.  I do hope and pray that they find a better, more Godly way of life;  but they won't do so if I use the Bible as a club to beat them over the head.  Instead, my job is to love them as Christ does, and set an example to them that (hopefully) will make them think about things differently.  In their turn, they know that if they try to use their own moral choices and preferences to beat me over the head, it'll lead to a rupture between us;  so they don't.  Instead, we give each other the freedom to follow the different paths we've chosen, and do our best to support each other anyway.

Anyone who tries to make our worth as a human being dependent upon following their chosen moral code, or that of popular opinion (which is fickle, and changes year by year), is essentially denying our independence as a human being, and our own right to freedom of belief.  By doing so, they're demonstrating that the real intolerance is on their side, not ours.  I think it's a pity Mr. Fallon didn't make that point rather more clearly to his opponents.  Intolerant assholes abound, in politics as in every other walk of life.  They need to be exposed for what they are.

Peter

In memoriam: Kevin O'Brien, a.k.a. Hognose of WeaponsMan


'Hognose', in reality Kevin O'Brien, well-known for his WeaponsMan blog, has died suddenly.  A post by his brother on that blog states, in part:

He was born in 1958 to Robert and Barbara O’Brien.  We grew up in Westborough, Mass.  Kevin graduated from high school in 1975 and joined the Army in (I believe) 1979.  He learned Czech at DLI and became a Ranger and a member of Special Forces.

Kevin’s happiest times were in the Army.  He loved the service and was deeply committed to it.  We were so proud when he earned the Green Beret.  He was active duty for eight years and then stayed in the Reserves and National Guard for many years, including a deployment to Afghanistan in 2003.  He told me after that that Afghan tour was when he felt he had made his strongest contribution to the world.

Kevin worked for a number of companies after leaving active duty.  He had always loved weapons, history, the military, and writing, and saw a chance to combine all of his interests by creating Weaponsman.com.  I think the quality of the writing was what always brought people back.

. . .

He ... called 911 on Friday afternoon and was taken to the ER with what turned out to be a massive heart attack.  Evidently he was conscious when he was brought in, but his heart stopped and he was revived after 60 minutes of CPR.  He never reawakened.

On Saturday, he was transported to Brigham and Women’s where the medical staff made absolutely heroic efforts to save his life.  Our dad came up on Sunday and we visited him Sunday, Monday, and today.  Each day his condition became worse.

As of last night, it was obvious to everyone that he had almost no chance of survival; and that if he did by some chance survive, he would have no quality of life.  Kevin’s heart was damaged beyond repair, his kidneys were not functioning, he had not regained consciousness, and he had internal bleeding that could not be stopped.  We made the decision this morning to terminate life support.

There's more at the link, including a contact e-mail for anyone wishing to express condolences.

I'm particularly saddened by Kevin's death for a number of reasons.  The most important, of course, is his encyclopedic knowledge of firearms, which is now lost to us.  Few individuals knew as much as he on the subject, or were as generous in sharing their knowledge with the rest of us.  Kevin also did me the honor of reading here, and quoted me on occasion on his own blog, which was very kind of him.

I'm also sad because Kevin and I were of an age, and he was struck down by an unexpected heart attack that came out of nowhere, just as I was in 2009.  I survived mine, but his must have been far worse.  I suppose it's a reminder that "in the midst of life, we are in death", as the traditional funeral service goes.  None of us know the day or the hour on which we'll be taken.  All we can do is live each day to its fullest, and make the most of it.  It sounds as if his family didn't have time to talk to him, although they were able to be with him during his last days.  That, at least, is a small mercy.

I don't know whether the WeaponsMan blog will remain available or not.  If any of you have favorite posts there that have been useful to you, it might be a very good idea to save copies of them over the next couple of days, just in case.

May Kevin rest in peace, and may his sins be forgiven him.  He will be missed.

Peter

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Be very careful how you unload your firearm . . .


. . . because this can happen.

The shooter covered the ejection port with his hand and attempted to capture the live round rather than letting it eject freely from the ejection port. The round was trapped, under pressure of the recoil spring, in-between the edge of the ejection port along the edge of the breach face and the front of the ejection port on the right side of the slide.



There is a noticeable linear denting on the nose of the projectile and an obvious strike point on the rear of the case and the primer. The projectile could not escape and the resulting effect was for the case to burst. The pressure from the burning propellent was absorbed by the shooter’s hand. He will not be able to make this mistake again.

It is a sobering lesson for many shooters. No one ever really believes that this could happen to them.

There's more at the link, including more pictures.

This is something most of us do instinctively, wanting to avoid having to bend down and pick up a round off the ground (which may be muddy, wet, or otherwise an undesirable destination for a live round).  Trouble is, trying to save ourselves trouble can get us into even bigger trouble, as the shooter above found out. Not a good idea.

Peter

Doofus Of The Day #955


Today's award goes to three special snowflakes - if, that is, it's politically correct to refer to a black person as a 'snowflake' - at Pomona College in California.  According to The College Fix:

If you want a window into how progressive students are being taught to think at privileged, sheltered campuses, look no further than an open letter to the outgoing president of Pomona College from three self-identified black students.

. . .

Dray Denson, Avery Jonas and Shanaya Stephenson were responding to an April 7 email to the campus community by Oxtoby that criticized the mob tactics that shut down a “Blue Lives Matter” speech.

Oxtoby had written that the administration opposes “the acting of preventing others from engaging with an invited speaker,” in this case the Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald:

Our mission is founded upon the discovery of truth, the collaborative development of knowledge and the betterment of society.
. . .

Denson, Jonas and Stephenson mocked Oxtoby for his “unnuanced views” that there is such a thing as truth, which is simply a tool of “white supremacy” and is aimed at “silencing oppressed peoples”:

This construction is a myth and white supremacy, imperialism, colonization, capitalism, and the United States of America are all of its progeny. The idea that the truth is an entity for which we must search, in matters that endanger our abilities to exist in open spaces, is an attempt to silence oppressed peoples. … The idea that we must subject ourselves routinely to the hate speech of fascists who want for us not to exist plays on the same Eurocentric constructs that believed Black people to be impervious to pain and apathetic to the brutal and violent conditions of white supremacy.

There's more at the link.  The full text of the snowflakes' letter may be read here (where it was archived, since the original was - unsurprisingly - taken down after the news broke of its existence.  Moonbat snowflakes really don't like to be exposed for what they are.)

So truth is a "myth"?  The USA itself is the "progeny" of that "myth"?  In that case, why are these three doofi bothering to get an education in the USA at all?  Surely they want to learn outside our borders, where that myth won't impede their progress?  I nominate Cuba, or Venezuela, or North Korea, or Iran.  In any of those countries, they can learn the hard way what they've got here - but don't acknowledge or understand.  Who knows?  They might even come to appreciate the "Land of the Free" for what it really is!




Peter

Selective denial or 'rationing' of health care?


According to Karl Denninger, it's likely in due course, thanks to budget pressures.

I claim no special power here, nor any inside information.  This is simply arithmetic coupled with logic.

. . .

... on the math, we have roughly 5 years before the US Federal Government will attempt to spend $2 trillion a year between Medicare and Medicaid annually, $600 billion more on a yearly basis than it spends now.  It may try to forcibly shift some of the Medicaid spending to the States (as the AHCA did) but the bottom line will continue to expand at its ~9% annualized rate.

That cannot be financed.

It is mathematically impossible to do so, and thus it will not happen.


If the government tries to "print" it (via Fed machinations) doing so will further depress productivity which will go negative from its already-suppressed levels (as a result of the last ten years of deficit spending) and at that point GDP collapses and so do asset prices and tax revenue.

So they won't do that either because unlike in 2007 when the total between those two programs was $830 billion they can't get away with it at nearly three times the price.

What they'll probably do instead, therefore, is unilaterally and sadistically cut people off.

If you're one of them you will either suffer, die or (probably) both and they'll target those who are both fat and sick figuring, quite properly, that you'll be physically unable to do anything about it.

The low-hanging fruit, where a full 25% of the spending happens today, is on Type II diabetes.

If you're Type II diabetic you're ****ed, in short.  You better fix that if you can, right now.

If you're overweight and especially if you're obese you had better fix that too, right now, because that has a very high probability of leading to Type II diabetes.

It is my prediction that this is where they'll target first.

There's more at the link.  Scary, but recommended reading.

I think Mr. Denninger is probably both right and wrong.
  • He's probably right, in the sense that such 'rationing' of health care is already taking place, discriminating against smokers.  There have been many reports that smokers are being denied surgery and other health care options because their habit makes it more difficult to produce a satisfactory outcome.  That's the cause of much debate at present, in the health care community and in the wider civil rights arena.  It's not much of a jump from there, to rationing health care to obese people or those suffering from diabetes.
  • He's probably wrong, in that overweight and obese people (which includes many diabetics) make up a very large proportion of the US electorate.  Any attempt by any administration, Republican or Democrat, to cut health care to these people would result in a ****storm that would make present political tensions seem like a minor disagreement at a Sunday School kids' party.  I suspect neither political party will risk that - at least, not overtly.

What I suspect is more likely to happen is that rationing will occur 'administratively'.  Bureaucrats will craft rules and regulations that will never be referred to Congress (which will tacitly condone them by not taking action to stop them).  Those rules and regulations will predicate that health care expenditure will be incentivized by the government on the basis of the success achieved by local hospitals and other facilities.  The definition of 'success' may also be modified.  This will allow bureaucrats to control access to health care in terms of cold, hard cash.
  • Your surgeons have a 60% success rate?  That's terrible!  We're denying you incentive payments until you improve.
  • Your surgeons have an 80% success rate?  That's pretty good.  Here, have some more subsidy money.
  • Your surgeons have a 95% success rate?  Outstanding!  Here's more subsidy money and bonuses for your heads of department, to distribute among their medical staff at their discretion.

Money talks.  Once that sort of politically-correct bribery becomes common, you can expect hospital admissions staff to be very cautious about approving surgery for those less likely to recover quickly and/or fully from it.  That will, of course, include smokers, the obese, and diabetics.  Their reduced chances of health care success will impact the 'success' of the facility as a whole - and, therefore, the financial incentives it receives.  Such patients will therefore run into delays, and paperwork issues, and demands for more tests (at their expense, of course) to 'ensure that they can safely undergo surgery', and every other administrative roadblock that can be imagined.

I hit those problems last year, when I needed gall bladder surgery.  The fact that I'm a heart attack and bypass surgery survivor, and have a fused spine and other complicating factors, meant that the hospital demanded 'cardiac clearance' before it would proceed with the operation.  I'd had two kidney stone procedures just the year before, under general anesthetic, with no problems whatsoever, but they refused to take that into account.  I had to jump through all the hoops, all over again.  I was infuriated, but what could I do?  They weren't refusing surgery to me - just demanding extra steps, and extra costs, before proceeding.  If I couldn't or wouldn't have complied, there would have been no surgery for me;  but that would have been regarded as my fault, not theirs, because I'd 'failed to comply' with their 'reasonable requests' and procedures.

I suspect more and more of us will encounter such demands in future.  It's a form of health care rationing, whether we recognize it as such or not.  It also allows health care providers to take care of each other, by ensuring that they 'spread the wealth around', making patients spend money unnecessarily on procedures and tests they don't really need.

Thus, health care rationing will probably be applied, but I suspect it'll be administratively and financially, rather than by overt denial of care to specific classes of people.  That doesn't make it any easier or more bearable if, as I am, you're in one of the high-risk population groups for denial, of course.  Sucks to be older or less healthy, I guess . . .

Peter

Monday, April 17, 2017

Ashbutt, "helping" . . .


. . . to write the next book.




Ashbutt's been particularly playful and kitten-"needy" today, demanding to be picked up and cuddled after a huge thunderstorm scared him early this morning.  Oh, well . . . he's still very much a child, despite his impressive size - coming up ten months old.

Peter

Of storms, drains and steps


We've just contracted to have our property's drainage improved, because too much water was getting off our house's roof in an uncontrolled way, and eroding the ground near our home's foundations.  The contractor dug a ditch in which to lay pipe and drainage . . . only to have a real gully-washer of a thunderstorm hit us at about 3.30 this morning, filling it with mud and dirt, and threatening to submerge a ladder he'd left in the newly-excavated space.  It was a mess, to put it mildly.

He and his workers have been cleaning up the diggings and preparing to lay pipe.  They also took the opportunity to carry around a semicircular step, to put it in front of our back door and make it easier to step down into the garden.  That was a lot of work . . . the supplier delivered it to the front of the house by forklift truck some months ago, and told us we'd have to get it from there to where we wanted it.  Miss D. and I waited until we had the contractor on board for other things, then offered him extra money to take care of that little problem for us.  It took four strong men, plywood walkways laid over the (still sodden) ground, and a furniture dolly to get it done.

The workers have gone off to get some food and recover their breath before continuing with the drainage system.  The gutters around the front of the house will be extended down both sides to the back garden, and connected to the new drainage pipe.  When it's all done, we should be able to withstand even storms like this morning's without difficulty.

Ah, the joys of home ownership . . .

Peter

Ammo testing update


To add to my articles last week about caliber, cartridge and firearm selection, Lucky Gunner has just added .38 Special and .357 Magnum to the list of cartridges it's tested in ballistic gelatin.  They've taken samples of most available loads, run them through everyday firearms, and posted the results.  It's a very useful tool to find out how your chosen round performs in that test medium, or to help you select one if necessary.

I hasten to add that ballistic gelatin isn't a perfect simulacrum of human flesh, which contains tissues of varying density (bone, muscle, fat, etc.), and varies in thickness, and is protected by more or less clothing depending on location, season, weather conditions, etc.  Nevertheless, it's adequate for apples-to-apples comparisons of bullet performance, and gives us useful insights into how they're likely to perform when the chips are down.  I prefer bullets that are heavy for caliber, and penetrate deeper than normal, because I've had to shoot through an arm to reach the torso on more than one occasion, so limited-penetration bullets just don't do it for me.  However, if you're likely to use them inside your home, with loved ones on the far side of partition walls to think about, limited penetration is a lot more valuable to you!  Consider your own circumstances when making your selection.

I still won't buy ammunition from Lucky Gunner, in the light of my ethical concerns about their business practices.  Nevertheless, this is useful research, for which they deserve credit.

Peter

A second, or even a third, life for the Avenger?


Late last year I speculated about the present status and future potential of the General Atomics Predator C, also known as the Avenger (the prototype of which is shown below), and, in maritime form, as the proposed Sea Avenger.




Now the company has confirmed that it'll offer the Sea Avenger as a base platform for the US Navy's MQ-25 Stingray project.

The MQ-25 Stingray evolved from the ashes of the U.S. Navy's Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program. The program was introduced publicly in the Navy's fiscal year 2017 budget submission.  The aircrafted was redesignated the MQ-25 (M for multipurpose) from the RAQ-25 – the Carrier Based Aerial Refueling System (CBARS).

Stingray's primary mission will be airborne tanking, but the aircraft's pylons will also be engineered to fire missiles and drop bombs.  The tanking mission is necessary to relieve the carriers' F/A-18s that currently perform that role.  Additionally, the requirements necessary to make UCLASS a low signature (stealthy) penetrating air frame have been removed for Stingray.

The Navy is expected to award an air vehicle contract to one prime contractor in the second quarter of 2018 with the initial delivery scheduled by 2021.

There's more at the link.

What interests me most is that, according to Wikipedia, the MQ-25 Stingray program is expected to "produce a Super Hornet-sized carrier-based aerial tanker as the Carrier-Based Aerial-Refueling System (CBARS), with 'a little ISR' and some capabilities to relay communications, and strike capabilities put off to a future version of the aircraft".  In its present incarnation, the Avenger is far smaller than that.  The Super Hornet is 60 feet long, has a wingspan of almost 45 feet, and weighs up to 66,000 pounds fully loaded for takeoff.  The original, land-based Avenger is 44 feet long, has a wingspan of 66 feet, and its maximum takeoff weight is only 18,200 pounds.  If the Avenger is to be "up-sized" to be a "Super Hornet-sized... aerial tanker", it's got a long way to go!

Nevertheless, this effort by General Atomics is intriguing.  As I speculated last year:

There have been few announcements about the Avenger since [2009].  It's been offered to the US Navy as a carrier-borne drone, the so-called 'Sea Avenger'.  One example was bought by the US Air Force for trials, and it's been suggested (but never proved) that several were bought by a three-letter-acronym agency of the US government for unspecified duties.  Your guess about that is as good as mine.

The very lack of information about Avenger is intriguing.  If the program were still being funded only out of corporate resources, it would surely have been dropped a long time ago, because such aircraft are very expensive to develop.  Therefore, the ongoing activity about it suggests that external funding is available;  and that, in turn, suggests some very high-powered interest in it.

Again, more at the link.

For a program of this technological sophistication and expense to have persisted for over a decade since design and construction began, without any (announced) major orders or government investment, defies belief.  General Atomics is too small a company to fund those sort of costs out of its own budget.  This program must have attracted some very high-level attention, and a lot of 'black project' funding, to have been around for so long.  One wonders how many Avengers are already flying, carrying out missions that no-one will discuss over nations that no-one will identify?  It was designed with 'stealthy' characteristics, so it could probably operate undetected over a pretty large proportion of the planet's surface.  Pakistan?  Iran?  North Korea?  Nobody's saying - yet . . .

I look forward to learning how General Atomics plans to 'scale up' a stealthy aircraft less than a third as heavy as a Super Hornet, into something less- or even non-stealthy, able to carry enough fuel aloft, and keep it there for long enough, to refuel a carrier strike force on its way to or from a target.  I frankly can't see how the base Avenger design can cope with such growth.  Will we see the Avenger program used to 'cloak' the development of something newer and much larger?  With all the 'black' defense department money that's still floating around, stranger things have happened.  Alternatively, the Avenger could serve as the springboard for a totally new design, perhaps in collaboration with another aerospace company.

Things are getting interesting in US Navy air operations.  The sudden surge of interest in new orders for a more advanced version of the Super Hornet, the ongoing difficulties in getting the maritime version of the F-35 Lightning II operational, and now the renewed emphasis on pilotless refueling and ISR operations, point to all sorts of interesting possibilities over the next few years.  It'll be worth watching.

Peter

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sunday morning music for Easter


From Handel's "Messiah", and from my favorite recording of it, here's the final two choruses:  "Worthy is the Lamb" and "Amen".





A happy, holy and blessed Easter to you all!

Peter

Saturday, April 15, 2017

That's telling her!


How to put an irritating, whiny, poseur politician in her place.  From Senator Fauxcahontas Warren:




And the reply, from a retired US Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant who's now a Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research:




Question answered, I'd say!




Peter

There's a way around almost anything, if you try hard enough . . .


I was amused at the lengths (literally) to which some people will go to get - or sell - a drink.

On April 1st, India’s Supreme Court issued an order that bars, pubs and liquor shops across the country should be at least 500m away from state and national highways. The new rule hit business owners hard, and many of them have had to shut down their operations in the last two weeks. But one resourceful bar owner in Kerala appears to have come up with an effective, albeit unconventional, way of bypassing the requirement – by turning the entrance to his venue into a long, winding maze.

The Aishwarya Bar in North Paravoor, a suburb of Kochi, was forced to close down temporarily when the court ruling came into effect, but instead of complaining about it, the owner came up with an idea that would allow him to reopen the bar and operate legally. He hired some workers and spent three days putting up a series of concrete blocks that essentially turned the previously straight walkway leading up to the entrance into a maze. Now, the walking distance from the highway to his bar is 520 meters, so he is technically allowed to sell alcohol.

. . .

Excise officials have already admitted that the solution is acceptable, since commissioners measure walking distance, not aerial distance, so the bar is now in the clear.

“We do not measure the aerial distance but only the walking distance. However, they will be fined for altering the entrance,” a Vijayan IPS additional excise commissioner said.

There's more at the link, including photographs.

(And no, despite the date of the court ruling, this isn't an April Fool story!)

Peter

A sad farewell to John Clarke


Regular readers will recall that on occasion, I've put up a comic interview from Australian comedians John Clarke and Bryan Dawe.  Dawe always played a TV interviewer, while the person being interviewed was played (masterfully) by John Clarke.

Sadly, Mr. Clarke died of a heart attack last weekend, while climbing Mount Abrupt in the Grampians in Australia.  He'd been in apparently good health up until then, so his death was a huge shock to many of his fans - even more so to Mr. Dawe, his partner in entertainment for decades.  He's given an extended interview, telling of his reaction to Mr. Clarke's death.  It's sad, but compelling reading.

In memory of Mr. Clarke, here are three of his comedy sketches with Mr. Dawe.











Rest in peace, Mr. Clarke.  You'll be missed by tens of thousands of grieving fans.

Peter

Friday, April 14, 2017

Bollywood again


Another epic (?) fight scene, this one from the 2008 movie Ghajini.





Certainly acrobatic, isn't it?

Peter

More bullets are valuable, but not necessarily the answer


Continuing the series of posts I've been putting up about firearms issues in response to reader comments and questions, I'd like to go a little further into the capacity-versus-capability question.

I said on Wednesday:

... my preferred concealed carry pistol is chambered in either .45 ACP or 9mm. Parabellum, with the .45 my cartridge of choice.  I know that modern 9mm. ammunition is almost as capable as .45, but the latter still makes a bigger hole and delivers more felt impact on the receiving end.  The old Taylor Knockout Formula is derided these days as unscientific, but I'm an old African hand.  In Africa, we know the Taylor formula works, because we've seen it at first hand, against both animal and human targets.  I have no problem adding it to modern, more scientific test results, and letting it condition my cartridge selection based on that experience.

A couple of readers pointed out, in e-mails, that this appeared to conflict with my advice a few years ago, in which I said:

The odds of having to deal with multiple assailants are now much higher than in the past; therefore, it pays to select a handgun with a large magazine capacity. This, in turn, implies selecting a caliber that permits such a capacity. A bigger cartridge such as the .45 ACP may be very effective, but it's too large to permit the same handgun magazine capacity as a smaller cartridge such as the 9mm. Parabellum. With modern high-performance ammunition ... the smaller round now develops 80%-90% of the energy of the larger round, and has proven almost as effective in actual shooting incidents. I submit that for the average shooter (not necessarily for highly-trained experts), giving up 10%-20% of bullet energy in exchange for greatly increasing a handgun's magazine capacity may be a worthwhile trade-off.

Well, the two viewpoints don't conflict with each other - rather, they address different issues.  In terms of dealing with multiple assailants (or one assailant who just won't quit no matter how many times he's been shot), then obviously, the more rounds in the gun, the better.  However, all too often, shooters (including trained police officers who should know better - see, for example, here) spray their larger quantity of ammunition all over the surrounding landscape without hitting anything!  To illustrate the reflex action of pulling the trigger and keeping on pulling it, even after the attacker/evader is down, watch the brief video excerpt below.  GRAPHIC VIOLENCE ALERT:  You're about to see a man shot to death.





Would fewer shots have done the job?  Almost certainly.  I'd guesstimate, based on what the bodycam video showed, that 2-3 well-placed shots would have been sufficient.  However, the officer didn't stop at that point, but kept on shooting.  (I'd like to know how many of his rounds actually hit the suspect, particularly in vital areas.)

In the "old days" (the 1970's and 1980's), when I learned to shoot, hollowpoint ammunition was still relatively unreliable - it often failed to expand, and didn't deliver the performance that modern, more technologically advanced bullets do.  Therefore, larger, heavier rounds were favored, as they tended to work reasonably well whether or not the bullet expanded.  Smaller bullets might work if they expanded, but also might not, even if they performed as intended.  I described one such incident here.

An acquaintance was attacked by a machete-wielding man who was hopped-up on marijuana and alcohol. The defender drew his 9mm. Browning Hi-Power pistol and put no less than six Federal 9BP hollow point bullets into a five-inch circle in the chest of the attacker. The bullets performed as intended, mushrooming impressively and penetrating adequately. They shredded the attacker's heart - this was proven at autopsy - but they didn't stop him immediately. He had enough oxygen in his brain to close the (short) distance to my acquaintance and swing a wild blow with his machete, which chopped open his victim's head, slicing deep into his brain. Both the attacker and the defender died at the scene while waiting for medical attention.

If my acquaintance had only shifted his point of aim after two or three shots (by which time it should have been clear to him that they weren't producing the desired result - stopping the attack), and put the remaining three rounds into the "target triangle" in the attacker's head (see the first image above), things might have been very different. After all, the attacker was getting closer all the time, making that small target a practical proposition for a skilled shooter (as my acquaintance was). The three people with him (including myself) were all busy dealing with other problems at the time; so we weren't able to add our fire to his, which might also have made a difference.

I had the dreadful task of informing his wife, later that night, that her husband was dead.

During those years of violence and unrest, I had all too many opportunities to witness that a few larger, heavier bullets tended to get the job done, most of the time.  I saw this with rounds such as .44 Special, .44 Magnum, .45 ACP, .45 Colt, .455 Webley and others.  I also observed good to very good performance from smaller-caliber rounds that were shaped to deliver a full-diameter blow, such as a wadcutter bullet in .38 Special, rather than a pointed or round bullet that slipped more easily through flesh.  This observed reality has naturally biased my approach to the selection of a self-defense round.  I fully accept that modern hollowpoint ammunition is far better than it was three or four decades ago;  but the fact remains that if, for some reason, the bullet does not expand (for example, if its cavity is clogged by clothing material), then a larger, heavier round will usually do more damage and get better results than a smaller, lighter one, all other things being equal.  (They seldom are, of course.)

I do believe that in contemporary urban environments, carrying more ammunition in the gun and on one's person are worthwhile.  However, the corollary to that is that one mustn't "spray-and-pray", but use that ammunition accurately, conserving it to deal with multiple threats if necessary.  The wild burst of fire shown in the video clip above - go count the number of rounds for yourself - didn't conserve much, and was probably unnecessary if the first two or three bullets had done the job.  If they didn't, it was probably more a problem of marksmanship than a failure of the ammunition.  If you shoot me ten times in the foot, I'm not going to be walking anywhere, but you can bet I'm going to be extremely peeved at you - and returning fire!

The late Louis Awerbuck described armed encounters in very succinct terms (and he knew whereof he spoke - he came from South Africa, as I did).  This excerpt is taken from a SWAT Magazine article he wrote titled 'How many rounds?'  It was republished in his book 'Plowshares Into Swords: Musings of a Different Drummer', which I highly recommend.

It is ugly, it is brutal, it’s at halitosis distance, and all your neato audio-instigated range commanded dog-and-pony-show Mister Cool orchestration goes out the window. At seven or eight feet in a gunfight you will have about six degrees of peripheral vision, your auditory system will be distorted and your biochemicals will pump enough juice into your system to keep a crack addict wired for a week.

You will lose mathematical track of rounds fired, distances, and passage of time. And if it’s that close and violent – and you live through it – you will swear blind that your buddies dubbed and photo-shopped the video of the fight, because you know damn well that you didn’t actually do what’s portrayed on the video screen during later viewing. Except that you did. Even down to the ongoing foul language during the encounter when you never do that, you fine upstanding church-going gentleman, you. Nothing like a close-up gunfight to bring out your evil, abrasive, foul-mouthed clown twin....

So what can you derive from the post-analysis?

All the “hold the trigger to the rear and then ease it forward after firing to feel the sear reset” trigger manipulation goes out the window. You still need trigger control, but it will be quick shooting – so you may as well practice the same trigger operation during close-quarters range training that you will employ in the street.

You probably won’t be shooting “two body, one head shot” drills, unless you’re very, very lucky and it’s offered to you on a rare occasion. Not in a violent six-to-ten-foot confrontation you won’t. You’ll be moving, the shootee will be moving, and you’ll be delivering multiple rounds to the biggest piece of meat and bone you can acquire until the threat stops.

Why so many rounds? Because (a) you don’t have the time to shoot a couple of rounds and then take the time to assess the results at this distance. If the initial BBs didn’t work, it’s too late. And (b) What Doctor Lewinski terms “stop reaction time” is the same as your personal reaction time. In essence, even if your cognitive processes have realized your enemy is dropping, another three or four rounds will be fired before your finger detaches itself from the gas pedal – which is why you lose track of the rounds-fired count.

So the gist is do you – or can you – carry a large format large caliber high capacity pistol, do you carry a smaller-calibered high capacity pistol, or do you pack a low round-count handgun and forsake multiplicity availability of ammunition IN THE GUN? Because even though this is a rhetorical question for the reader to decide, nobody is getting a reload executed under the above-mentioned circumstances. If you need a dozen quick sequential rounds and your pistol contains only six, you need either at least two guns or it’s all over unless you’re Rambo, Bruce Lee, and Miyamoto Musashi combined.

What’s the ideal answer? There isn’t one, because of the legal and societal restrictions and ramifications mentioned above. But forewarned is forearmed (no pun intended), and you can at least apply some rational thought to the problem before it occurs.

No, it’s not a perfect world, but a battle without a prior battle plan is a battle lost before it’s started. And it’s unlikely that Hell is about to undergo an Ice Age in the foreseeable future...

I'm afraid I can't wave a magic wand and give you a short, concise, always-and-everywhere accurate answer.  Your salvation is in your own hands in a defensive situation, and you have to equip and train yourself to deal with the circumstances of your own life.  For myself, in a high-density urban setting, I'll carry a high-capacity 9mm. pistol, stuffed full of the best ammunition on the market today, and be confident in my ability to defend myself with it . . . but I'd still prefer it to be a .45!  I've also trained myself not to fire large quantities of rounds downrange in the hope that some may connect.  If at all possible, I'll slow down and try for accuracy over speed (although having both would be better!).  However, as Louis Awerbuck points out, in the heat of the moment, that may or may not happen . . .

Your mileage may vary, of course.

Peter

A sea change for independent author-publishers


My latest article for Mad Genius Club has just gone live over there.

In it, I discuss the impact of streaming audio and video on consumers, and how this is affecting and will affect independent authors such as myself.  It looks to me like a big wave building, that's going to roll over the industry over the next year or two, posing big challenges for us.

If writing and books interest you, click over there to read it, and contribute to the discussion in Comments.

Peter

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The slaughter goes on, all over the world


Syria and North Korea are in the news at the moment, but killings and terrorism are rampant in many other countries - we just don't hear about them, because they're less newsworthy.

The latest to come to light is South Sudan.

On April 4, government militias loyal to the president, Salva Kiir Mayardit, entered the town of Pajok and began killing and raping men, women and children, one observer said.

Opposition forces led by the former first vice president, Dr. Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon, estimate that more than 200 innocent civilians were killed in Pajok.

“At the onset of the massacre, the tribal army burned down several buildings in the town and indiscriminately shot at the innocent civilians including kids and women who were trying to run for their lives,” a security officer in South Sudan told Fox News.

“Primary school pupils were forced to lay on the ground in a straight line and were run over by tanks, and crushing them flat. Some of the primary school girls aged between 11 to 13 years were raped in front of their teacher and the teacher was later murdered by the government soldiers, possibly to conceal evidence of their heinous crimes,” an independent observer said.

When a grandmother in her late 70s said she could not tolerate the pain of losing her children and grandchildren, who had been slain in front of her, she begged the soldiers to take her life, too.

“Without remorse, the primitive government soldiers decided to cut her limbs, and she was left to die a painful death,” the observer said.

No one was spared from the soldiers’ wrath, he said, even the tiniest of children.

“Toddlers were thrown into the river live,” he said. “The lucky ones had their heads swung against poles and walls before being thrown into the river, at least leaving them dead by the time they have been thrown into the river.”

Though largely unknown to most of the world, these atrocities are happening with the full knowledge of international bodies, including the United Nations, the African Union and the Troika, which includes United States, the United Kingdom and Norway, meaning the non-Dinkas are left with no help and no options, the independent observer said.

There's more at the link.

However, because there are no major geopolitical factors in play in South Sudan, the international community will continue to ignore such atrocities.  They're doing the same in the Congo, in Yemen, in the Philippines, in Thailand, in Burma . . . in dozens of different nations.

I'm not saying the USA needs to intervene in all those places.  We can't.  We can't afford it economically, and our military (particularly after having been deliberately run down under the Obama administration for the past eight years) is already spread too thin.  Nor can NATO or other international organizations do so - they're also overstretched, under-budgeted, understaffed and under-equipped.  I'm merely saying that violent death and terrorism are rampant, all around the globe. They've been that way since shortly after the end of the Second World War, largely as a result of the global geopolitical destabilization brought on by that conflict and its aftermath.  They aren't going to go away anytime soon.

Anytime someone says to you, "But we must do something!" about those evils, ask them what we can do that will eliminate the problem.  They won't be able to answer you, because there isn't anything that will do that.  All we can do is temporarily halt the problem in one place, or a few places.  As soon as we've gone, it'll come back - and meanwhile, it'll continue in all the places where we can't intervene.

Evil is always with us.  We can do our best as individuals to combat it, first in our own lives and families, then in our own communities, then by sharing our resources (personal and national, as far as is feasible without beggaring ourselves) with organizations that can and do make a difference (e.g. Doctors Without Borders, the Salvation Army, etc.).  We can also do our best to stop the proliferation of weapons to such areas, although that's very difficult to accomplish.  Apart from those things, we have to accept that we can't solve all the problems of the world.

Trouble is, too many people won't accept that.  They're blind to reality.  They demand utopia . . . forgetting that it was a fictional place to begin with.  It still is to this day.


*Sigh*


Peter