Here are a few memes and tweets that I've seen so far this morning. Click any one for a larger image.
There will doubtless be many more.
(This is the second article in a three-part series. The first was published yesterday.)
Having examined the threat environment and how it's changing, we have to ask ourselves how prepared we are to respond to it if the need arises. This isn't just a question of having the right equipment and training. Although that's important, it's secondary to ensuring that, if at all possible, we don't put ourselves in a position to need it. Remember John Farnam's always-valid advice?
The best way to handle any potentially injurious encounter is: Don’t be there. Arrange to be somewhere else. Don’t go to stupid places. Don’t associate with stupid people. Don’t do stupid things. This is the advice I give to all students of defensive firearms. Winning a gunfight, or any other potentially injurious encounter, is financially and emotionally burdensome. The aftermath will become your full-time job for weeks or months afterward, and you will quickly grow weary of writing checks to lawyer(s). It is, of course, better than being dead or suffering a permanently disfiguring or disabling injury, but the “penalty” for successfully fighting for your life is still formidable.
Crowds of any kind, particularly those with an agenda, such as political rallies, demonstrations, picket lines, etc are good examples of “stupid places.” Any crowd with a high collective energy level harbors potential catastrophe. To a lesser degree, bank buildings, hospital emergency rooms, airports, government buildings, and bars (particularly crowded ones) fall into the same category. All should be avoided. When they can’t be avoided, we should make it a practice to spend only the minimum time necessary there and then quickly get out.
“A superior gunman is best defined as one who uses his superior judgment in order to keep himself out of situations that would require the use of his superior skills.”
Read, re-read and absorb that. It's not just important, it's invaluable. There's more good advice at the link (scroll down to the entry for 19 Mar 03 to find it). Go read that, too. You won't be sorry.
So . . . in today's threat environment, how do we plan to manage it? The first and most important element is, understand what that environment is in your city, your town, your area, your region, your location. What might work for me where I live may be completely wrong for your location. You need to understand your local threat(s) before you can figure out how best to respond to it/them. Those threats may include a greater need for self-defense, or they may indicate a need for greater personal security awareness, or both. The entire threat environment is important, not just self-defense.
Start by getting a map of your area. I suggest on paper, because that's easy to carry around and use even if your cellphone battery is flat or the Internet is down. Get one for each member of your family, and one per vehicle, and a couple of spare copies too. If you have to use Google Maps or Mapquest or another service to create your own map, that'll work, but make sure you save a detailed image of that map offline, so you can access it when the Internet is down. You want a map showing streets and surface details, not a geological map or some other specialized application.
If you do a search for "Paper map of [your city/town name]", you should find several options. For example, if I look for maps of Wichita Falls, TX (the large city nearest to where we live), I find these:
If you do a similar search for your area, you'll find the same sort of results. Select one that provides the best, most detailed coverage of your entire city area, including the outskirts and approach roads. Also, find one that shows an area of 50-100 miles around your city/town, so you can see where those roads come from and where they lead. If there's a major gang/crime problem in a city 50 miles away, and that place erupts in violence, and there's a major road leading from there to your town . . . guess where refugees and/or escaping gang-bangers are likely to head? That's right. You're sitting on the bullseye.
When you have a good map of your city/town, start marking it with critical information.
Now we come to another valuable use for your map. Consider areas where, or to or from which, you frequently travel. What are the roads like for such purposes? Is there more than one worthwhile route to follow? Which of them is more at risk from crime, fire, and other emergencies in the zones you've marked? Avoid those routes, and pick safer ones. If they're all vulnerable to some extent, pick the least vulnerable ones. Another consideration: which of those routes are most at risk of traffic snarl-ups from time to time (e.g. school leavers, sports games, morning and evening commuter traffic, etc.)? Plan to avoid them at those times, and make notes about them for future reference.
When you've done all that (and it may take weeks to assemble all the critical information you need), sit down and talk about it with your family. Make sure everybody knows what areas are more dangerous than others, and why. Discuss routes to and from your and their destinations, and make everybody aware of safer roads. If necessary, distribute maps and printed instructions on where to go or not to go. Put copies of relevant maps/information in every vehicle in your family, and make sure they stay there for future reference. Also, keep an eye on current developments near you. If the crime/problem areas get better or worse, or new threats arise, make sure you keep your information current in your head, with your family, and on your maps and other documents.
A primary consideration is to preserve your ability to move around. Try not to put yourself in a situation where you can't get away from trouble if it begins. That can be local (can I get out of this parking garage in a hurry?), nearby (will my travel be impeded by the football game letting out?) or city-wide (has the power gone out, so that all the traffic signals are dead and the streets are gridlocked?). I absolutely hate our bigger cities from that point of view. When I spent a few weeks in the Los Angeles, California area some years ago, I felt as if I were trapped all day, every day. For literally dozens of miles in every direction, I was surrounded by masses of people who would all try to escape if the Big One (earthquake) hit, or some other disaster struck. Every road, including the famous six-lane Interstate highways, would become clogged within a matter of minutes, and stay that way for at least days, probably weeks, and possibly even months. I was effectively in a situation where I couldn't "get out of Dodge" to save my life. I swore at that time that I'd never voluntarily live in such an environment, and so far, thanks be to God, I've been able to hold to that.
(That's also why, if at all possible, you should have your own transport. I'm aware that in cities like New York, many residents don't own their own cars due to parking problems, congestion, expense, etc. If you're willing to trust your life to public transport in an emergency, that's up to you. I'm not, and I don't think anyone should. Even if you only have a folding bicycle (securely stored where thieves can't make off with it), that's better than nothing. Pack a small emergency kit that you can carry on it, and be prepared to "bug out" to a safer place if necessary. If the expense of a car is beyond your budget, do you have friends with a car? If you help pay for travel costs, could you travel with them if need be? Can you get to them in an emergency, or are they prepared to come past your place to collect you? Plan and make arrangements ahead of time.)
Having prepared your map of your city/town and the area(s) around it, you can see more clearly where your highest risks are, or may be if something goes wrong. Given that, you can plan your daily activities in more detail to minimize your exposure to those risks. You can also plan to move to a safer area if that's possible; and if it's not, you can take steps to prepare your home against the likely risks that are closest to you. (For example, if you live in an area with more house or apartment fires than usual, do you have fire extinguishers handy to prevent them in your own residence? Do you have hoses available - and external faucets - to spray water on fires near your home, to control the flames and/or prevent them from spreading to your property? If you live in an apartment building or complex where fires have happened before, you're at high risk of exposure to them. Plan to move somewhere safer - urgently! If you say you can't afford to do that . . . what's your life and property worth to you?)
Self-defense and personal security aren't just about guns. Firefighting equipment, security fixtures and fittings like exterior cameras and burglar bars, a heightened awareness of likely threats, and a more focused situational awareness to detect and avoid such threats - all are important, and more besides. For every problem or potential threat you identify, ask yourself what you can do to mitigate it. Talk to local cops/firefighters/EMS personnel and the like. Ask their advice. Don't ignore the situation because "I can't afford to fix it". What's your life worth?
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. If at all possible, get out of big cities, particularly those with serious crime problems or prone to natural disasters (earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.) that might require urgent evacuation. In such scenarios, you're one ant, or a family of ants, among millions of them. You have very little chance of escaping such threats unscathed and unaffected. Far, far better to position yourself in a safer, more defensive situation now, while you have time to do so. If you can't do that, for whatever reason (family ties, work, etc.), do your best to prepare your defenses against such threats now, while they're still within reasonable limits; and accept that the odds are pretty good they won't stay within reasonable limits. As we pointed out yesterday, crime, violence and social ills are getting steadily worse, and the rate of deterioration is increasing. Be aware of that, and prepare for it as best you can.
(For one possible scenario of how our cities may explode into violence, read former SEAL Matt Bracken's hypothetical description. It's scary, but it's far from impossible. We've already seen elements of it in reality, most recently during the BLM/Antifa riots of the past couple of years. I fully expect to see them again, and worse.)
All right. We've talked about the overall threat environment, including - but not limited to - self-defense against crime. Now it's time to focus on the latter, and get serious about it. We'll do that in tomorrow's concluding article.
I'm no fan of Steve Bannon, but last night he put the FBI raid on President Trump's residence in Florida in perspective.
They’ve weaponized the Justice Department – this had to be approved, going up to the White House to be approved. Absolutely. Anybody saying it didn’t is a liar. This had to go up through the chain of command, through Merrick Garland to Ron Klain, at least [FBI Director Christopher] Wray and these guys. This is about pure power politics. They’re scared to death about Trump. They’re absolutely petrified terrified that he’ll announce in a couple of weeks, win the Republican nomination and win the White House.
We need a full investigation, cutting off appropriations to the FBI to get to the bottom of this, okay? This is going to continue on. The FBI right now is the Gestapo. The FBI is the Gestapo, whether it’s out in Colorado, putting a gold star mother in chains, Peter Navarro in chains. It's absolutely obscene. This is insanity. We need to fight fire with fire and the way to do that is to win elections, win them overwhelmingly and then use the appropriations process to choke down the FBI and choke down the Justice Department and get to the bottom of who approved this. This is so outrageous it needs to be investigated.
Dear FBI agents and all other Federal law enforcement personnel: When you entered Federal employment, you took the oath of office and made this declaration.
I [name] do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.
I took that same oath of office as a Chaplain with the Bureau of Prisons in the Department of Justice. I regarded it then, and still do, as binding on my conscience: and as far as I'm concerned, it has no expiration date. A number of my friends and acquaintances can say the same.
As for you? If you participated in, or helped plan the raid on President Trump; or if you approve of or condone it; or if you regard political stunts like that as justifiable; then I believe you have just betrayed your oath of office, and your country. There are some who may go further. They may believe that you have now become a "domestic enemy" of the Constitution. Don't be surprised if Americans who are still faithful to their Constitution treat you accordingly.
I'm also hearing from current and former colleagues in the Department of Justice about their outrage at the situation. Many have long since resigned or retired. Others are now considering it. Still others are wondering whether they can help "manage the damage" from within. I don't know whether that's possible without a wholesale dismissal of the entire middle- and upper-management echelons of FBI leadership, without exception, and perhaps even the disbanding of the agency as a whole: but I wish them the best of luck.
I believe we have never been closer to the outbreak of Civil War 2.0 than we are right now. May God prevent it, if that's still possible.
Divemedic notes the cascade of negative feedback from the American public for the Democratic Party's current actions and obsessions, then asks:
So with all of that going on, why are the Democrats continuing down what is obviously a self destructive path? Why do they continue making decisions that are obviously unpopular with the voters?
I can only come up with one logical answer: The polls don’t matter. Their popularity doesn’t matter.
They know that they can’t lose. The fix is in. There is no other explanation that fits the facts.
There's more at the link.
I can't help but agree with him, as we've already discussed in these pages on several occasions. I think the Democratic Party believes it has "arranged" or "fixed" the election results already, and can therefore disregard voter sentiment. Recent polling snafus, hiccups and glitches in primary elections around the country tends to confirm that suspicion.
Nevertheless, that doesn't mean we should shrug our shoulders and say, "Well, there's nothing we can do about it." Of course there are things we can do about it! No matter how "blue" our electoral district may be, there's still a need for volunteer workers, poll observers, and a host of other low-level tasks that will allow us to monitor what's going on and document it for later use if needed - either in the news media, or in court. The lack of such evidence is one reason why the Democratic Party was able to steal the 2020 elections so blatantly. They argued in court that there was no solid, verifiable, measurable evidence to support allegations of electoral fraud, and that therefore the charges and complaints should be dismissed without being brought to trial. In many cases they were right, and they got away with it, because nobody had thought to collect such evidence until it was too late. Let's change that, starting now.
Let's also hold our local electoral authorities to account. For example, if I lived in Maricopa, Arizona, after the fiasco of delayed and "glitchy" balloting there last week, I'd be demanding the resignation of anyone and everyone involved. I'd be writing to my State representatives and senators, and to the Governor, demanding an immediate, in-depth investigation of the problems thus revealed, and insisting that they be rectified before November's election. I'd be writing to the news media demanding that they put pressure on local and state politicians to that effect. This isn't partisan politics - it's demanding simple, fundamental efficiency and effectiveness in the administration of elections. Surely that's a cause that anyone, left- or right-wing, can get behind?
Let's not give up. Rather, let's mobilize and get organized. The fix may be in, but there's always the chance that glitches may work in the opposite direction to that intended. As Robert Heinlein's chief protagonist Lazarus Long put it, "Certainly the game is rigged. Don’t let that stop you; if you don’t bet, you can’t win."
We've read a lot in recent weeks about the explosion in crime rates across the country, most particularly in big cities dominated by left-wing progressive local governments. We've covered some of them in these pages. To cite just a few recent articles:
We have far too many home-grown criminal gangs in the USA: the Crips, the Bloods, Dirty White Boys, Mexicanemi, and thousands of others. There's also a growing foreign criminal and gang presence. We're seeing a continued influx of illegal aliens across our southern border from nations and cities where crime and violence are a way of life. It's what at least some (perhaps most) of them are used to, and it's how many of they behave themselves - and some are bringing that here with them. To take just one example, consider the anarchy and social breakdown presently visible in Haiti. It's nothing new - it's been going on for decades there; for generations. Is it any wonder that Haitians are desperate to come to the USA to get away from it? The latest invasion occurred just two days ago, and it's just the latest in a long, long line of them. There are today literally hundreds of thousands of Haitians in the USA, both legally and illegally, and many of them come out of precisely the climate of crime and violence described in the linked article. To them, it's a way of life, embedded in their bones and psyches. They're far from alone. Aliens from El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and other holocausts of civilized society are here in similar or even greater numbers. Some of them - for example, the notorious MS-13 criminal gang - make our homegrown criminals look tame by comparison.
The combination is explosive, and getting more so. It's one factor - but far from the only one - behind the current rise in urban violence and crime. See the earlier articles I linked above for some examples, and consider what's happening right now, today, in our cities. For example:
The NYPD pointed out in a press release Friday just how crime-riddled the city is, saying the grim statistics show how the Big Apple’s bad guys no longer fear getting caught.
Citywide shootings surged 13.4% in July compared to the same month last year, and murders increased an even more alarming 34.3%, according to the department.
The overall rate of major crimes also rose 30.5%, driven in part by a 40.6% surge in grand larcenies.
“Usually they are spinning the numbers to make the bad look good,” an astounded Queens cop said.
A Manhattan cop asked sarcastically, “Why doesn’t the Police Department just raise the white flag?”
There's more at the link.
We're also faced with a growing incidence of mass shooting events. Statistically speaking, they're still rare; our odds of encountering, or becoming a victim of, such an event are still vanishingly small, on the whole. However, "vanishingly small" is cold comfort when you drive to your local shopping mall and find yourself caught up in one! Most people aren't prepared for that at all. Fortunately, at least a few are, as demonstrated last month.
A new timeline from Greenwood Police show it only took 15 seconds for the Greenwood mall shooting to come to an end.
Police reviewed surveillance video that showed the moments the suspect left the food court bathroom to the time Eli Dicken pulled out his gun, aimed and took out the threat.
Autopsy results also revealed the suspect was hit eight times from about 40 yards away. Police say Dicken fired 10 rounds.
Those numbers are impressing many gun experts and owners.
“What impressed me the most, compared to your average civilian shooter, was not the number of rounds fired, not the hit rate, not the time, but the distance,” said Mark Welter, retail manager for Indy Arms Company ... “To have that level of performance with that level of difficulty was just super, super impressive,” Welter said.
Police said Dicken had no police training or military background. He told them he learned to shoot from his grandfather.
Again, more at the link. A big Bravo Zulu to Mr. Dicken, and another to his grandfather for the obvious high quality of his instruction. If I ever meet either or both of them, the beers and a slap-up meal are on me.
Mr. Dicken is fortunate that he lives in a town where self-defense, and defense of others, are applauded and appreciated by the powers that be. Many do not. In cities and towns with a progressive left-wing District Attorney and law enforcement authorities, to defend yourself is to risk being regarded as a criminal perpetrator rather than the victim. I wrote about this in two articles a couple of years ago:
That hasn't changed: in fact, it's become more widespread, as we saw in New York City just last month. In that case, after an enormous public outcry against the obvious unfairness of the charges, they were dropped. Other cases have not received as much publicity, and the victims have been less fortunate. There are today far too many cities and other jurisdictions where it's legally hazardous to your freedom to invoke your right to self-defense and protect yourself against criminal attack.
Unfortunately, defending ourselves isn't always practically possible. No amount of shooting skills will keep us safe if we wander into a free-fire zone on the streets, where gang-bangers let fly at each other with increasing regularity. There are suburbs in many big cities where it's simply no longer safe to be outside at any time of the day or night, because there are always thugs around looking to start a fight or settle a score with real or imagined enemies. The carnage is getting worse by the day. Just do a search for innocent bystanders wounded or killed in such exchanges of fire, and see for yourself.
Almost unbelievably, there are those who insist that they're going to go right on engaging in their normal day-to-day activities, refusing to take additional precautions or be more careful about their movements. They regard it as their natural right to do so, and refuse to even consider that it might be in their best interest to think less about rights and more about reality. There are times and places where to use a gun to defend yourself might actually be counter-productive.
Having set the scene, I'm going to consider (in two more articles) some practical elements we should consider to improve our chances of surviving today's violent streets. These will not apply to everybody. If you're living in a peaceful country town, the odds that you'll ever need any of them are vanishingly small. However, they are not zero. Enough gang-bangers are looking for easy pickings outside their usual haunts that danger may come to you, no matter how hard you wish it wouldn't. Therefore, I suggest you take a look at your own situation, examine your own local crime figures, talk to local cops, fire and EMS personnel, and build up a picture of your own threat environment; then decide what suggestions of mine might be useful to you.
It's a sad Sunday Morning Music for me today, because yesterday I learned that Judith Durham, lead singer of The Seekers during their heyday in the 1960's, died on Friday. Her voice was extraordinary, but so was her life in general, in so many ways.
I grew up with The Seekers' music, and it's been an important strand of my musical memories and tastes ever since. A couple of decades ago, a compendium of every single Seekers song was released in a five-CD boxed set, and I bought it at once. It remains a treasured part of my music library.
In memory of Judith Durham and The Seekers, here's a random selection of my favorites among their songs, in roughly chronological order. Note how, even when she's singing harmony rather than lead, Judith's voice is an essential part of the songs. Her soaring tones "completed" the male voices of her band-mates, and tied them together into a harmonious whole.
Judith used that last song as the title of her autobiography, written in cooperation with Graham Simpson and published in 2004.
Judith's husband, Ron Edgeworth, died of motor neurone disease in 1994. She worked tirelessly to support sufferers from that disease, and to encourage further medical research in that field. There were many other strands to her life, some of which are covered in this obituary in the Sydney Morning Herald.
I feel a personal sense of loss at the news of her death. May she rest in peace.
As regular readers will know, I'm hard at work on several novels that I hope to publish over the course of the next year. Two are approaching completion: the sixth volume of the Maxwell Saga military science-fiction series, and the first in a trilogy about the Union Navy during the Civil War of 1861-65. There are several others partly written and awaiting further attention.
I published the beginning of the book as a stand-alone short story in "Tales Around The Supper Table Vol. 2" last year, and an excerpt from the protagonist's early adventures - the prelude to the assault on Port Royal in South Carolina - in these pages a few months ago. Today's episode follows the Port Royal attack. Intelligence has been obtained concerning a Confederate blockade-running ship, Alice, that's expected to arrive in Savannah with a valuable cargo of weapons and military supplies. Lt. Rufus King takes his ship, USS Selinsgrove, on a high-speed run to that port to try to intercept her. (I've added some links for further information where I mention something of historical interest.)
Rufus paced the deck with Bayard as the first dim gray light of dawn lit the eastern horizon. He was dog-tired after a busy day and a sleepless night, but that couldn’t be helped. Around him the ship’s company was already at General Quarters, ready for action. Rufus could sense their eagerness all around him. If they could capture Alice intact, it would mean another very healthy prize money payout, Selinsgrove’s second of the war.
The ship’s main courses were furled, to prevent sparks from the cannon from igniting the low-hanging canvas. She was under topsails alone, sailing very slowly, her engine standing by, but her paddle-wheels not turning. That would get her to the probable scene of any action after sunrise, giving the lookouts time to see any ship trying to avoid interception by creeping along the shoreline. To an observer ashore, it would be clear she was ready for action, but not what sort of action. Selinsgrove hadn’t been part of the Savannah blockade, so they wouldn’t know her by sight. Was she a Union blockader, hoping to intercept a blockade-runner? Was she a Confederate vessel, waiting to see whether the coast was clear – literally – before making a dash for the safe haven of the Savannah River? They wouldn’t be able to tell.
Rufus’ mind raced as he considered his alternatives. If Alice did not show up, should he wait offshore for her? If she did show up, how could he best approach her without appearing to be a threat, lest she flee inshore into an inlet, or take shelter beneath the guns of the temporary battery on Tybee Island, or Fort Pulaski on Cockspur Island, before he could reach her? What if escorting vessels put out from Savannah to bring her safely home? Would he have to fight two ships at once, or even more? He plotted move and counter-move on the mental chart in his mind, calculating the influence and effects of wind and tide, trying to anticipate problems before they arose.
One immediate step came to mind. He asked Bayard, “Do we still have that Confederate flag – the one we flew at Fort Jackson during our escape from New Orleans?”
“Yes, sir, I think we do.”
“Good. Hoist it in place of our United States ensign, but keep that handy. I hope we can fool enemy observers into thinking we’re a Confederate ship. If it lets us get closer to Alice, we’ll replace it with our own ensign before we open fire, to avoid violating the rules of war.”
Bayard grinned. “I like that, sir.” He bellowed for the Yeoman and issued orders. Within a few minutes, Selinsgrove had changed sides – visually, at least. Her crew murmured in surprise at seeing the change, but word soon passed among them of what was happening and why.
“Fresh lookouts to all three mastheads,” Rufus ordered. “Make sure they all know what Alice looks like. Tell the foremast lookout to keep watch ahead for Alice or other ships. The mainmast lookout’s to warn of ships coming down the Savannah River, and the mizzenmast lookout’s to watch to seaward and astern. In particular, he’s to look for Trevorton and Asherton. If Lieutenant Sauls found Commander Turnbull quickly enough, and if they move fast, they might get here within the next hour or two.”
“Yes, sir – if the Commander decided to follow your suggestion.”
Rufus heaved a sigh. “Yes, there is that. We can only hope. One more thing. Tell the guns’ crews to run in their guns and lie down on deck, out of sight behind the bulwarks. The same goes for everyone not in the sail handling party. Let’s not make it obvious to observers that we’re cleared for action.”
“Aye aye, sir.”
Almost immediately, the mizzenmast lookout called, “Deck there! Three ships broad on the port bow, hull down on the horizon, sir. I can only see their masts and sails against the dawn light. All look to be heading away from the coast.”
Rufus cursed softly. “Damn it! The Confederates know the blockade’s been interrupted by the fighting at Port Royal, and they’re taking advantage of that to run cargoes in and out of Savannah. Those ships must have sailed during the small hours. They’ll be on their way to Bermuda or the Bahamas, loaded with cotton to trade there. Oh, well. Perhaps they’ll get over-confident, and we’ll seize them on their return voyages.”
As the light slowly grew, they saw with dismay that a bank of fog hovered off the coast of Tybee Island, obscuring it. Rufus cursed again. “Alice might turn away from the coast if she can’t see far enough ahead to make a safe landfall,” he muttered.
“Yes, sir, but she might equally well head northward, to see whether the fog lifts off the Savannah River,” Bayard pointed out. “That’ll bring her closer to us.”
“I hope you’re right.”
The mizzenmast lookout hailed, “Deck there! Ship – no, two ships dead astern, hull down. I can only see their topmasts, sir. No flags visible at their mastheads at this distance. They’re making heavy smoke, sir.”
“Keep an eye on them,” Rufus called up.
“Aye aye, sir.”
“That could be Trevorton and Asherton,” the First Lieutenant offered.
“They’re in the right place to be them, but we won’t know until they get closer. If they’re at full steam they’ll be up to us in less than an hour, what with us just idling along like this.”
Another hail interrupted them, this time from the mainmast. “Deck there! Small two-masted brig coming down the main channel of the Savannah River, sir. She’s still above Fort Pulaski. Can’t see her flag or name yet, sir.”
Bayard noted, “She could be an escort ship, coming out to bring Alice safely into port.”
“Yes, or a privateer looking for a Union merchantman to take as a prize.”
What should I do?, Rufus asked himself mentally. If I stand in to meet her, I’ll be giving up sea room I might need to stop Alice if she appears; but if I stay out here, this other ship might dodge inshore and down to Tybee Island, where she can warn Alice that I’m waiting.
His thoughts were interrupted by another hail from the mainmast lookout. “Deck there! Second ship about half a mile astern of the first, also coming down the main river channel. She’s much larger, sir; a three-masted paddle-wheeler, with a funnel ’tween main and mizzen. No cannon visible, sir. Looks like a big merchantman.”
“Another escort ship, sir?” Bayard wondered.
“I’m inclined to think she’s a blockade runner, if she’s that big.” Rufus raised his speaking trumpet. “Lookout, that second ship. How does she ride?”
“She’s very low in the water, sir. Looks like she’s heavily laden. Her decks are piled with what looks like bales covered in canvas.”
He glanced at Bayard. “Yes, I think she’s a blockade runner loaded with cotton. They usually use smaller, faster ships that can run away from blockaders, but since they know our warships are up at Port Royal, they might be trying to run a bigger, slower ship through while the going’s good. She’ll carry as much cotton as three or four smaller vessels. The smaller ship ahead of her might be a scout, to tell her whether it’s safe, or give her time to turn around and head back to port if it’s not.”
“What are we going to do about them, sir?”
Rufus heaved a sigh. “We can’t ignore them. If we play innocent, we might be able to fool that first ship into thinking we’re on their side. If so, we can deal with her before the bigger vessel can get away. Meanwhile, those ships behind us will be drawing closer. If they’re Trevorton and Asherton, they’ll be able to help us.”
“Yes, sir, and that’ll let us concentrate on Alice if she appears.”
“Let’s hope she does, but there’s no sign of her yet. In the absence of Alice, we’ll aim to disable and capture the ships in the river, but if Alice makes an appearance, we’ll turn our attention to her instead. We’ll turn towards the river, and start using the paddle-wheels while still moving as slowly as we can. That’ll bring us up to the brig after both ships are well past Fort Pulaski. We’ll figure out how best to take them both as we get closer.”
“Understood, sir. It’s a pity Alice hasn’t shown up.”
“Don’t speak too soon. She might turn up anytime, and then we’ll have three ships to take care of.”
“Won’t that be biting off more than we can chew, sir?”
“Perhaps so, but there are times when that’s necessary. We’ll do our best.”
The mizzenmast lookout hailed again. “Deck there! The two sail behind us are definitely Asherton and Trevorton, sir. They’re hull-up now, and coming on fast. I recognize both of them.”
Rufus smiled. “They’ll be a big help. Trouble is, as soon as Fort Pulaski sees them, the garrison there is bound to realize they’re Union Navy ships. Nothing else would be moving so fast to intercept other ships. They’ll warn those coming out. We’d better start our approach right away.”
A quick series of helm and engine orders, and Selinsgrove turned towards the mouth of the Savannah River, still more than four miles away. Rufus passed the word to the engine-room to maintain their slow speed, but stoke up the boiler, so that there was steam pressure available for sudden high-speed maneuvers if necessary. The smoke from Selinsgrove’s funnel began to grow thicker and darker.
Rufus examined the foremost Confederate ship carefully through his telescope. She was rather smaller than Selinsgrove, pierced for four cannon on each broadside. From what he could see, they were of mixed size, probably former field artillery 4- or 6-pounders fitted to naval gun carriages, which was about as much recoil as her light timbers would be able to absorb. That meant she was probably a privateer, fitted with whatever cannon her owners could scrounge up, rather than an official Confederate States Navy vessel that would be better and more uniformly armed.
Again he calculated angles and distances on the mental chart in his head. If he closed right up to the smaller vessel before he fired, she wouldn’t have time to evade, and the short range would allow his less experienced gunners to hit her hard, right from the start. By then the larger ship would be close behind her. She’d undoubtedly try to turn around and flee back up-river, to gain the protection of the guns of Fort Pulaski, but she wouldn’t be able to do so before Selinsgrove swept past her first victim and came close enough to hit her hard as well.
Rufus’ thoughts were interrupted by a sudden yell from aloft. “Deck there! Three-masted sailing ship just come out of the fog off Tybee Island, sir! She looks like Alice!”
He spun on his heel and raised his telescope. Sure enough, if the newcomer wasn’t Alice, she was a near-identical twin. His thoughts raced. If I stand on my present course, she’ll probably maintain her approach – she can see our Confederate ensign from her position, so she’ll assume we’re heading for Savannah, just as she is. When we open fire on the brig, Alice may turn tail and try to get back into the fog, but she’ll be further away from it, and she only has sails. She doesn’t have the advantage of paddle-wheels to turn and speed up quickly. She’s more likely to try to get beneath the guns at Tybee Island or Fort Pulaski, which means she’ll have to alter course and try to get past us before we can turn and catch her. She’ll be in range, but a long way off, so hitting her will be difficult. She’ll head for the south channel of the Savannah River, rather than its main channel.
He turned to Bayard. “We’ll hit that brig with our starboard broadside as we pass her. Tell the Gunner to take personal charge of the bow chaser and load with explosive shell. As soon as we open fire, he’s to try to disable the second, larger ship. I’ll continue to close with her in the hope of getting in a quick broadside, then we’ll turn and head for Alice. She’ll try to get away, I’m sure, but we have a full head of steam in our boiler, and I’m betting we’ll move faster than she can.”
“Very well. Tell Gunner Cosgrove, then take station on the quarterdeck. As you go, pass the word to the gun crews to stand by to run out their guns in a hurry and take aim. Rig tiller lines to steer from aft, in case the pilot-house is hit and the wheel’s disabled.”
“Aye aye, sir!” Bayard was quivering with excitement. He spun on his heel and headed towards where the Gunner was standing on the fo’c’sle.
Rufus marshalled in his mind the orders he’d have to give in a rapid-fire sequence. They had to be uttered in the right order, otherwise things would be chaotic. He glanced ahead. The small privateer was no more than half a mile away now, and would pass close down their starboard side. He waited a few moments, until he was sure of his timing, then raised his speaking-trumpet.
“Haul down that Confederate ensign and hoist our true colors! Helmsman, signal the engine-room to go half ahead!”
There was a loud cheer from his crew as the Yeoman hastened to obey.
“Gun crews, on your feet! Run out your guns! Starboard broadside, fire on that smaller ship as we pass her and your guns bear! Don’t wait for orders!”
There was a mad scramble around the already-loaded guns as the paddle-wheels began to thrash the sea harder and faster. The starboard gun captains adjusted their elevating quoins to depress their muzzles, so as to be able to hit the enemy as they passed within pistol shot. Rufus grinned savagely. Two 32-pounder solid shot fired at point-blank range might go all the way through both sides of that small brig, thanks to her light timbers. Flying splinters would kill and maim many of her crew, and probably throw the survivors into complete disarray, particularly since they hadn’t been expecting any danger.
He nodded approvingly as he saw the bow chaser elevate its barrel and pivot slightly to starboard, to line its sights on the big merchantman now less than a mile away. Cosgrove stood beside the gun captain, both bent over the sight, training the big gun carefully.
The brig was desperately trying to sheer off to port, opening the range from Selinsgrove, but she was already far too close to get away. Her crew was running frantically toward their guns, trying to open the ports and get them ready to fight back, but they would not have enough time. Rufus saw her captain standing on the rear deck next to her wheel. His mouth was open, shouting something, his eyes wide with shock and fear as he saw doom bearing down upon his ship. For a moment, Rufus felt genuinely sorry for him; but the roar of the foremost starboard cannon going off wiped all such thoughts from his mind.
The heavy shot smashed downward through the starboard bulwark of the brig’s bow, burst through the deck, shattered the base of its bowsprit in passing, and exited through a frame on the ship’s port side, ripping several planks out with it as it made a huge splash in the water. The bowsprit bucked violently, snapping or tearing loose all the stays made fast to it. The foremast instantly sagged and swayed as its primary stabilizing stay was ripped free; then, under pressure of the wind in its sails, it began to twist and topple slowly. It hadn’t gone more than a few feet off true when Selinsgrove’s second starboard cannon fired. This ball struck what looked like a 6-pounder cannon on the deck, knocking it clean out of its wooden carriage, and shattered. Pieces of the cannonball shrieked across the deck, along with a cloud of splinters from the smashed gun carriage, cutting down men on all sides. One piece struck the sailor manning the wheel. He screamed and collapsed. Relieved of his guiding hands, the wheel spun freely, aimlessly. As the foremast collapsed into the sea, the brig slewed to port and was dragged to a stop by the wreckage in the water.
“Good shooting, gunners!” Rufus yelled. “Reload, fast as you can!” Above his voice he heard the cheers of the rest of the ship’s company.
A deep boom! came from the 20-pounder Parrott rifle in the bows. Rufus shielded his eyes with his hand as he peered ahead. Within moments, a spout of water rose just off the bows of the oncoming merchantman. The bow chaser’s crew urgently began the task of reloading, while the Gunner and gun captain adjusted the elevation and waited. In just over a minute the gun was ready again, by which time the range had shortened to not much more than a quarter of a mile. The big merchantman tried to veer to port, beginning to turn around, but Cosgrove fired again, and this time his shell was right on target. It skipped off the surface of the sea and smashed into the bow timbers, penetrating them and exploding with a muffled roar and billow of smoke erupting from whatever compartment it had reached.
Rufus yelled, “Starboard broadside, stand by to fire first; then I’ll wear the ship around to give the port broadside a chance. Range will be two cables or less. Hit them, boys! Hit them!”
He turned to the helmsman. “Left half rudder!”
“Left half rudder, aye aye, sir.”
Selinsgrove began to swing rapidly. The two starboard broadside guns’ crews stood clear of their weapons as the gun captains checked their aim. Rufus straightened the ship, then raised his speaking trumpet. “Fire as you bear!”
The two cannon fired again with flashes of flame and billows of smoke. Rufus snapped, “Right half rudder, fast as you can!”
“Right half rudder, aye aye, sir.”
As Selinsgrove checked her turn and swung rapidly the other way, the port battery came into line of sight of the big merchantman. Rufus could see that at least one of the broadside shots had hit her; there was a ragged hole punched into her side just below the bulwarks, halfway between the bow and the paddle-wheel. Again he raised his speaking-trumpet. “Fire as you bear!”
Two more explosions sounded, and Rufus coughed as the smoke swept back over the deck. As he looked up, Cosgrove fired the bow chaser once more, again using an explosive shell. The entire crew erupted in cheers as the shell smashed into the merchantman’s paddle-wheel and blew up. Pieces of wood and metal flew in all directions, and the freighter lurched and began to spin around in the water. The far side paddle-wheel was still turning and exerting pressure, but on this side there was nothing to propel the ship. She was unmanageable under power.
She’ll have to switch to sails only, Rufus mentally exulted as he spun to look behind Selinsgrove. That means she’ll be much slower. Asherton and Trevorton should be able to catch her before she can get away!
He scanned the sea hurriedly. Alice had turned to port, and was clearly trying to get as close as she could to the battery of cannon sited on Tybee Island, so they could protect her from Selinsgrove. Further up the coast, now no more than a mile distant, Trevorton and Asherton were speeding towards the fight, the sea foaming and frothing around their bows as their engines thrust them through the water as fast as they could. As he watched, he saw their gun ports open and the muzzles of their cannon emerge.
I can leave those two ships to them, he thought with grim satisfaction. Now for the main prize!
He issued rapid helm and engine orders, and Selinsgrove turned towards Alice and began to close the range. It would be a race between her hard-working boiler and the morning breeze in Alice’s sails. If the sailing ship could get close enough to the battery for its guns to fend off Selinsgrove, she’d be safe. If he reached her before she could do that, she’d be lost.
He raised his telescope and looked past Alice to the battery on the point of Tybee Island, next to the lighthouse. Men were running around its guns, having obviously been summoned from whatever their other duties had been. He made some quick mental calculations. By the time he caught up with Alice, the battery would be no more than a mile and a half away, close enough to hit Selinsgrove if they were lucky; but unless their cannon were rifled – unlikely, because they looked too small – their accuracy would be poor. Once the range shortened to less than a mile, they would be much more dangerous. He set his teeth in a snarl and mentally urged his ship to greater speed. Come on, Selinsgrove! You can do it!
He raised his speaking-trumpet. “Gunner Cosgrove, see if you can hit her! Use solid shot. We want her disabled, not sunk!”
The Gunner waved his hand in acknowledgment, and bent to the sights of the bow-chaser. A few seconds later, the cannon fired. It had been aimed too high. The shot whistled over Alice and splashed into the sea a couple of hundred yards in front of her. Cosgrove shook his head in frustration and adjusted the sights, while the cannon’s crew hastened to reload it.
Alice had clearly been startled by the nearness of the miss. As Rufus watched, she jinked to starboard, coming almost directly between Selinsgrove and the battery, clearly hoping that the change of course would confuse her opponent’s gunnery. After each of the next two shots, she swung alternately to port and starboard, varying her course to present a more difficult target. The Gunner came close, but could not score a hit, to Rufus’ frustration.
He cast his eyes beyond Alice again. Tybee Island was getting closer, too close to the battery for comfort. He made up his mind. After the next round from the bow chaser, he’d veer to left and right to uncover his broadside guns, and see what they could do to slow the enemy ship. She was within half a mile now, and they were closing fast.
He glanced behind him. Trevorton had hauled alongside the big merchantman, and her boarding party was pouring over her bulwarks to capture her. Asherton had stopped next to the small brig, which was low in the water. Probably that hole in her bows was allowing water to enter her hull. She might not survive for long. He shrugged. Of the three enemy ships, she was the smallest and least valuable, so they wouldn’t lose much prize money if she sank.
Cosgrove fired again. This time the bow chaser’s shot struck high, punching a series of holes in Alice’s sails and breaking the mizzen topsail yard in two. A cheer rose from Selinsgrove’s crew as they saw the damage. Rufus raised his speaking-trumpet. “Broadside guns, stand by! I’m going to veer to port, then to starboard, to give you your chance! Stop her, boys! There’s money in our pockets if you do!” They cheered again as he turned to the helmsman and issued orders.
The ship had only just begun to turn when he saw white powder smoke erupt in unison from the guns ranged next to the lighthouse on Tybee Island. The range is still too long, he thought, but they’ve elevated their cannon as high as they can to fire a salvo. They’re trying their luck, hoping to scare me off.
He fancied he could actually see the cannonballs as they curved down towards Selinsgrove. As he suspected, the range was too great, and they splashed into the sea between the two ships – all except one. A hole appeared in Alice’s forecourse and he saw splinters fly from her deck, now only a couple of cables ahead. He realized at once that one of the battery’s rounds had fallen short, and hit her.
There was a moment’s breathless pause, then suddenly Alice exploded in a spectacular fireball, a billow of black smoke, and a colossal roar. Debris flew in all directions. That shot must have hit the barrels of gunpowder in her hold! Rufus thought as he flinched instinctively, staring wide-eyed at the devastation amid curses and cries of astonishment from his crew. The thunderclap of the explosion battered their ears as they craned to see the destruction. One moment a ship had been there… the next, only her stern was left, and not for long. It was rolling to one side, sinking rapidly. There was no sign of any of her crew, nobody swimming in the water waiting for rescue.
Debris began to rain down on Selinsgrove. Rufus instinctively ducked into the pilothouse, peering upward through the windows in dismay as his ship’s masts, yards and sails were hammered and ripped and torn by the debris. Some of it was stomach-churning, including the entire leg of one of Alice’s unfortunate crew. Whatever clothes its late owner had been wearing had been stripped off it by the blast. It bounced off a sail, leaving a bloody streak down the gray-white canvas, and thumped onto the deck. Other, less identifiable body parts were scattered among the wreckage of spars, rigging and equipment.
Rufus’ eye was caught by a long, thin black object falling towards him. He only had time to realize it was the barrel of a field gun, minus its carriage, before it smashed into the roof of the pilot-house with a horrendous crash. Raw red agony flared through his head, and the world went black.
Well, there you have it. Civil War naval combat in an era in transition: sails giving way to steam, and smoothbore cannon giving way to rifled guns that could reach out much further. In the 1860's the old and new technologies were blended, some of each being on almost every warship. It would not be until the last quarter of the 19th century that the transition had been completed among the major powers, and not until the first quarter of the 20th century among the rest of the world's navies.
Nick Giambruno reminds us:
When was the last time you saw someone pick up a penny off the street? A nickel? A dime?
Nowadays, even bums often can’t be bothered to pick up anything less than a quarter.
The US dollar has become so debased that these coins are essentially pieces of rubbish. They have little to no practical value.
Up until 1982, the penny was 95% copper.
Today, the melt value of these pre-1982 pennies is 2.1 cents—more than double their face value—as commodity prices have soared and the dollar’s purchasing power has plummeted.
That’s why the US Mint no longer uses so much copper to make pennies. Modern pennies are only 2.5% copper, with cheaper zinc making up the remaining 97.5% of the coin.
Further, even after using a cheaper metal to make the penny, it still costs the US Mint about 2.1 cents to make every penny. For nickels, it costs the US Mint 8.5 cents to make.
Last year, the US government lost over $144 million making pennies and nickels.
So, why is it wasting taxpayer money making coins bums don’t even use?
Because phasing out the penny and nickel would mean acknowledging currency debasement—governments never like to do that. It would reveal their incompetence and theft from savers.
This isn’t new or unique to the US. For decades, governments worldwide have been reluctant to phase out worthless currency denominations. This helps them deny an inflation problem even exists. They refuse to issue currency in higher denominations for the same reason.
The $100 bill is the largest in circulation. That wasn’t always the case. At one point, the US had $500, $1,000, $5,000, and even $10,000 bills.
The government eliminated these large bills in 1969 under the pretext of fighting the War on (Some) Drugs.
The $100 bill has been the largest ever since. But it has far less purchasing power than it did in 1969. Decades of rampant money printing have debased the dollar. Today, a $100 note buys less than $13 in 1969.
There's more at the link.
I wonder how long it'll be before kids' play coins are in actual monetary circulation?
We may as well use them. At least the plastic from which they're made has a recoverable petroleum content to provide some value!
Earlier this week I posed an article advising those who'd recently moved to hurricane-prone areas to take precautions against such storms. One of the most common is to evacuate before the hurricane hits. However, for owners of plug-in electric vehicles, that may not be as easy as it sounds.
Were a hurricane barreling toward you and you needed to escape, would you want a car that could travel hundreds of miles, refill with a few containers of fuel that you carried without much hassle, and then start driving again almost immediately to get you out of the danger zone?
Or would you prefer a car that looks flashy, gets you claps from Hollywood types, can only travel a few hundred miles at most (and normally quite a bit fewer than that), and requires a complex, electricity powered refueling station, a generator, or solar panels to recharge, with that recharging taking anywhere from half an hour in the best of circumstances or hours upon hours in the worst, with the solar panels option taking forever, assuming the sun hadn’t been blotted out by the hurricane at that point?
Obviously, the combustion-powered engine is the better one in that circumstance. You can carry the fuel to keep it going after its tank has been exhausted, it has a longer range to begin with, and isn’t reliant upon highly complex infrastructure (assuming you were smart enough to fill up a few Jerry cans before fleeing).
So, in the case of a natural disaster, much as the greens might not want to admit it, a combustion-powered vehicle seems like the far, far better choice.
. . .
"... imagine a million electric cars trying to flee, stuck on major hwys going north and running out of charge … thousands dead – months bringing gas powered generators to clear major highways. This is reality."
There's more at the link.
Uh-huh. Recharging your EV with the power out for two to three days at least - in some areas, two to three weeks - is going to be... interesting. Sure, you can do it with a generator: but what happens when the one guy on the block who has an extra generator for his car (using another to run his house, because you can't do both from a single unit) finds he has a dozen other EV owners lined up in his driveway, demanding that he charge their cars too? Do they have gasoline to give him, to help that happen? The odds are against it.
Also, what happens when he wants to get some sleep? If he leaves his generator running so that the EV owners can carry on charging their vehicles, ten-to-one he'll wake up to find it long gone. If he doesn't, and shuts it down to secure it, he'll have a lot of unhappy neighbors calling him "selfish" and accusing him of "lack of community spirit". (Think you won't face such pressures? Think again. Sometimes you can't win for losing.)
Having "all modern conveniences" is all very well, but when an anything-but-modern old-fashioned hurricane is bearing down on you, they may turn into nightmares.
Moral of the story: if you just have to have an electric vehicle, get a hybrid that can recharge itself, rather than a plug-in EV that can't.
I give you four newspaper articles from this week, with key facts from each.
The 23-year-old was working in the fast food restaurant at 1531 Fulton St. in Bed-Stuy when he got into an argument with a female customer inside the eatery around 7 p.m., according to law enforcement sources.
The fight spilled outside and the woman’s adult son pulled out a gun and shot the worker in the face, police said.
Lisa Fulmore, 40, revealed her 20-year-old son’s chilling comments while describing exactly what led up to Monday night’s shooting that left a 23-year-old fast-food employee clinging to life.
“I talked to my son with the cops. My son is just saying that he gotta do what he gotta do and the [victim] came after him and whatever happened, happened,’’ she said.
“Why were they laughing at her? Why didn’t they just give her hot French fries? That’s why we go in there to spend our money,” Dunlap’s grandmother said.
The grandmother conceded that Morgan’s mother could have also called cops to sort out the fast-food spat instead of getting her son involved, who has a lengthy criminal record.
The 20-year-old man charged with shooting a McDonald’s worker over cold French fries confessed to murder Wednesday in a separate 2020 slaying, police sources said.
Morgan was arrested shortly after the incident and charged in the shooting on Tuesday night, police said. Camellia Dunlap, 18 — Morgan’s girlfriend — was charged with two counts of criminal possession of a weapon after she allegedly admitted to cops she handed her beau the gun, law-enforcement sources said.
This is almost indescribably stupid on so many levels:
I ran into that a lot when working with prison inmates. Here's a "Convict to Chaplain" vignette from my book describing prison ministry.
Yeah, you ain’t seen me before ’cause I just got transferred here, Chaplain. Why am I inside? I killed two old ****s. Didn’t mean to, though. It was their own stupid ****ing fault. Should never have happened.
**** it, man, I needed a car to go see my woman, and they had one. I jumped ’em as they stopped at the corner. Hadn’t even locked their doors, the dumb ****s! If they’d only listened and showed sense they’d have been all right, but that old **** started acting up when I hauled his woman out in a hurry. ****, he musta bin eighty years old, a real feeble old ****er. I punched him. That’s all — I just hit him. He fell down and hit his head on the curb and went real quiet. Out like a light. Then his damn fool bitch started screamin’ and hollerin’ that I’d killed him. I had to shut her up — people were startin’ to look outta their windows. I tried to put my hand over her mouth, but I musta twisted her neck somehow. There was this funny crackin’ noise, and she went limp. I didn’t stop to check, man — I dropped her and jumped into that old car and burned rubber outta there. Damn thing even smelt like old ****s inside.
The cops stopped me before I got halfway to my woman’s place. Those ****ers were mean, man! They ****ed me up real good. Rights? What rights? If the cops want you, they park their cruisers so those dash cameras don’t see ****, and they walk you down the road a bit so the mikes won’t hear the noise, and they go ape**** on your ***, man. They took me back to town and threw my *** in a cell, still bleeding and hurting bad, and those ******s wouldn’t even get me to a doctor for almost a whole day. Mother******s!
****in’ DA charged me with murder and I drew life twice. Murder? **** no! I didn’t mean to kill either of ’em. Those two old ****s were on their last legs anyway. I only did what they made me do with their damnfool hollerin’. Hell, I probably did ’em a favor! No pain, no waiting to die while their minds went crazy — just a quick, easy out, both together, no mess, no fuss. At worst I shoulda got five years for each of ’em. It’s all they had left! ****in’ judge an’ jury didn’t see it that way, of course.
I’m twenty-five years old, and they tell me I’ll live another fifty years or more in here. No way, man. I’m not taking this **** for the rest of my life. I’ll be outta here one way or another. Either I’ll escape, or they’ll kill me when I try. They’ll have to, ’cause I’ll sure as hell kill them if they try to stop me or bring me back here. No other way, man. You watch. You’ll see my name on the news one night. I’ll be dead, or I’ll be out — and either way I’ll be ****in’ free.
Now, what about that phone call, Chaplain? I gotta talk to my woman. Word is she’s goin’ with some other ****. Can’t have that, man, her dis-ree-spectin’ me like that. If she don’t listen to me, I’ll have to get my homeys to take care of the bitch — and her new guy. I mean, you unnerstan’, right? A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. Right, Chaplain?
Did that last line sound familiar? Same sort of mentality as the McDonalds shooter. Same world view.
How do we deal with such feral trash? It's almost a waste of time to put them on trial in states like New York, where they won't get the sentence they deserve and will end up back out on the streets to hurt and maim and kill again. What's more, taking just one or two of them off the street won't help, because there are entire neighborhoods populated by such low-lifes.
Again I warn: If you live in a big city, particularly one with an inner-city ghetto environment like that, get the hell out while you still can. Things are going downhill faster and faster there, and there's no sign whatsoever that the powers that be are willing to do anything about it. You can't guarantee your family's safety there, and even if you defend them, the odds are very good that progressive left-wing District Attorneys will charge you with a crime, rather than your attackers.
If you can't leave a city like that . . . make your home as secure as you can, and prepare to defend it. When you go out, keep your head on a swivel, and don't walk along oblivious to what's happening around you. Finally - DO NOT go into neighborhoods or stores where people like that hang out!
EDITED TO ADD: "The McDonald’s worker who was shot in the neck over cold french fries is brain-dead and on life support, prosecutors said Thursday, as a Brooklyn judge ordered his alleged assailant held without bail. "