Saturday, October 31, 2020

Saturday Snippet: Goodnight's Bluff

 

Frank Boardman "Pistol Pete" Eaton was a legend in the Old West, and well into the Modern West era too.  He was a scout, Indian fighter, lawman and cowboy.  He wrote about his life in his autobiography, "Pistol Pete, Veteran Of The Old West".



Among his adventures was the time when ranch owners in the Texas Panhandle decided to put a stop to widespread rustling in the area.  Here's what happened.


There was a Cattlemen’s Convention at Mobeetie, Texas, and Colonel Charles Goodnight and Uncle Nick Eaton were up there for two days. When they came back they got all hands together and told them to clean their thirty-thirties, wrap them in a blanket with two boxes of shells and put them into the chuck wagon, get their best ponies and get ready to ride to town.

We didn’t know what was going on and for that matter didn’t care. We rode along with the chuck wagon and camped on the outskirts of Mobeetie. We were a disappointed bunch of cowboys, though, when we got strict orders to stay in camp. But when we saw Nick Eaton’s chuck wagon and riders, and outfits from some of the other ranches, come in and camp near us we began to wonder what was up.

After a while Colonel Goodnight’s foreman, a man named Pennington, told us to come on — so we got on our ponies and started for town.

We were joined by boys from the other outfits, and we made a hard-boiled bunch of riders. The foreman of each outfit took his riders up to the place where the cattlemen were holding their meeting. We left our horses at the hitch rack, filed into the room, lined up against the wall and listened.

Colonel Goodnight was talking and he said something like this: “We have enough evidence against them to hang every damn one of them and that is what is going to happen right away. I have eighteen good riders, every one a fighting man. Every one has a thirty-thirty, besides his belt guns, and we have lost all the cattle we are going to lose. Now we will clear the room and not let anyone in that is not a cowpuncher. Each foreman must vouch for all his men. We will fix up our plans and give the boys the names of the men we want and they can bring them in. Then we will hold court and give them justice. Now, all you owners keep your seats; and everybody else must go. A foreman will be at each door to see that everyone who comes in belongs in. This is a cattlemen’s meeting for the purpose of stopping cow thieves; no one but cattlemen and their hands will be allowed. Pennington, who is my foreman, will vouch for the men he has with him. Nick Eaton, here, and his boys are ready. You other men are as ready as you ever will be so let’s clear out all but the cattlemen and get to work. Clear the room, boys.”

The boys got busy and started to clear the room. There were a lot of town loafers and shady characters who wanted to stay and hear what was coming off, but they were all put out and two guards were stationed at each door and window. The foremen stood at the doors and let in only their own men.

After they were all settled down, Nick Eaton and Deaf Smith, another big cattle owner, went out and the others just sat around and waited for them to come back. When they did come back they were laughing; they told the other cattlemen their plan was working and they all laughed. Then Colonel Goodnight said, “Pennington, take the boys down and line them up against the wall in the saloon and let them stand there awhile and wait for orders. Now, they will try to get you to drink; but I don’t want any damn one of you to take a drink of any kind, so tell them you haven’t got time now but you will later. Now don’t talk to anyone, just go in and line up with your backs against the wall and stand there until we send for you.”

It was a very quiet town just then. There were over fifty armed cowboys in the different groups and they went into every saloon and dance hall in town and nobody wanted to start any trouble with them as they stood silently waiting for orders. They wondered what the orders would be and there were a good many others in the town that would have liked to know. In that brief time there were eighteen men who left town and went to the hills to camp until they could learn how things were going to turn out. After we had stood there for about half an hour the foreman came in and said, “Come on, boys, they are going to wait until morning and make a clean sweep of the whole shebang. Let’s get back to camp.”

We all filed out and went to the chuck wagon where the cook had supper ready and the foreman said, “Stay in camp, boys; don’t anyone go to town tonight. We have them on the run and in the morning we will finish up and h’ist a few drinks and go back home.”

Pennington went over and joined the bosses and they all rode into town and went around asking for certain men who they knew had left town. Then, a little later, when they saw a man ride out of town, they knew he was taking word to the suspects who had left for the hills earlier in the day, so they let him go — for that was part of the game.

The next morning Pennington told Rolla, Jack and me to get our Tides and go with him and the others. When we reached the first saloon we saw the other foremen, with small squads of cowboys, going into the other saloons and dance halls and wondered what it meant.

Pennington went up to the barkeeper and asked for a man by name. The barkeeper said the man had not been in that morning and he guessed he was down at his boarding place. Pennington answered that we had just come from there and he was not there. Then he turned to us and said, “Come on, boys, we will find him if we have to go all over hell with a fine-tooth comb.” We turned and walked out and went over to where the boys from the other outfits had gathered. Pretty soon we saw another horseman ride out of town, in the direction of the hills, hell bent for leather. We stood around a little while longer; then the foreman said, “All right, boys, go wet your whistle but don’t take too much. If anyone wants to know what we are going to do, tell him you don’t know but that you have orders to wait and then maybe take a ride in the hills. Now, don’t drink too much and don’t let any man kick you into a fight.”

The boys scattered and the foremen and the ranchers had a celebration of their own laughing over the trick they had played.

Of the eighteen men that left town that night only three ever came back. They were very careful for a long time not to lay a rope on a calf and when they did they were promptly hung by the Vigilantes.

Late the next morning the different outfits started for home. They had broken the cow-stealing ring without firing a single shot, and it stayed that way for a long time.

They still laugh, down there in Texas, about Colonel Goodnight’s bluff.


That's one way to do it - and, given the reputation of the ranchers in that area, if that hadn't worked, I daresay ropes and trees would have been invoked on the spot as well!

Peter


Friday, October 30, 2020

Another variation on the personal defense rifle

 

Back in April, I wrote a three part series on the personal defense rifle:  what to look for, what to include and what to leave out, etc.  It seems to have been well received, and frequently features in search returns on this blog.

I was interested to read another man's approach to the same need.  Karl Dahl, writing at the new Sanctity of Security blog, discusses building AR-15 rifles for members of his family, so that they can all help to defend each other and their home.  Here's how he begins.


Earlier this year I realized that I had a desperate need to update my personal arsenal into a family defensive arsenal so that I could streamline ammunition logistics, spares, etc. as much as possible. My personal collection was interesting, and I had a core battery with plenty of options for my own use, but my go-to weapon, a medium weight AR-15, was the weapon my wife and son showed the most aptitude with. It was also my only AR-15, because I was “collecting,” for myself, interesting guns in a variety of calibers. Just as importantly, my key stockpiled defensive ammo was primarily 5.56mm.

My son is still a pre-teen, but is mature and big enough to train with a defensive centerfire rifle. While libtards may find this observation “dangerous” or “scary,” they swim in the rainbow-colored waters of western late 20th century normalcy bias. My wife is petite, yet very athletic, and in an upper tier of physical capabilities for her size. She can shoot the AK and proper battle rifles, but she shoots and, more importantly, handles an AR much better. I have considerably more firearms training and experience than the two of them, and know a few systems and calibers rather well, but they don’t. Thus, I needed to provide them with simple, lightweight, ergonomic rifles with simple external ballistics so that they needn’t perform math in their heads in a theoretical stressful situation. I determined to build them simple, lightweight, point-and-shoot AR-15s for my auxiliaries.

  1. Simple.  A “dream AR” build, with a grip of advanced features, would be appreciated by a seasoned shooter, or someone who has developed their tastes after x repetitions, but the shooters who will be using these rifles are more likely to be confused by options. The rifles need to go bang when the trigger is pulled, and hit where they’re being aimed.
  2. Lightweight.  Fighting rifles don’t spend any time, beyond sight-in and training in fundamentals, on the bench. They’ll be fired from the shoulder in a variety of positions, and carried. Each ounce of weight ups the difficulty performing, particularly with smaller-framed people. Additionally, outside of a bench-rest situation, heavier rifles do not make for more accurate rifles. Without going overboard on trimming the weight (exotic = $$$), the rifles need to be as light as possible. This requires careful selection of lighter-weight but standard components. The rifles described below came in at 6.1 pounds unloaded, with optics installed.
  3. Point-and-shoot.  5.56mm external ballistics are about as close to point-and-shoot as we get in The Current Year + Whatever, particularly with the US military’s 25 meter Battle Zero (BZO) approach to sighting in iron sights. While Low Power Variable Optics (LPVOs) are all the rage, and I happen to like them, they require too much thinking and discernment for my auxiliaries. Thus, the BZO is the way to go. More on that below.


There's more at the link.  Interesting and recommended reading.

I note that Mr. Dahl's and my approaches to AR-15's for personal defense have much in common.  We both emphasize light weight, simplicity and combat effectiveness.  I think he may have military experience, perhaps in combat, too:  I've found that those of us who do tend to put great emphasis on simplicity and light weight, as opposed to loading up our guns with every conceivable gadget.  At any rate, I was glad to read his approach and find so much in common with my own.

Mr. Dahl also discusses painting his rifles, to make them less conspicuous against various backgrounds.  I have some with Cerakoted handguards and other features, but I've never painted one in full.  Intrigued, I looked for more information, and came across this video describing the process.  There are many others on YouTube, but this offers a simple, basic approach that appeals to me.



I think I'm going to take that video's advice, plus that offered by Mr. Dahl in his article, and use one of my rifles as a "test dummy" to see what results I can obtain.  I'll have to read up about suitable urban camouflage colors and patterns, as well as what's best for a North Texas environment.  It should be a fun project.

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

Peter


Censorship poses a real danger to our Republic

 

Journalist Matt Taibbi - no conservative or right-winger, to put it mildly - points out the danger inherent in so many news media and social media outlets that have conspired to block news unfavorable to their preferred politicians, and restrict its circulation.


The incredible decision by Twitter and Facebook to block access to a New York Post story about a cache of e-mails reportedly belonging to Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s son Hunter, with Twitter going so far as to lock the 200-year-old newspaper out of its own account for more than a week, continues to be a major underreported scandal.

The hypocrisy is mind-boggling. Imagine the reaction if that same set of facts involved The New York Times and any of its multitudinous unverifiable “exposés” from the last half-decade: from the similarly leaked “black ledger” story implicating Paul Manafort, to its later-debunked “repeated contacts with Russian intelligence” story, to its mountain of articles about the far more dubious Steele dossier.

The flow of information in the United States has become so politicized — bottlenecked by an increasingly brazen union of corporate press and tech platforms — that it’s become ­impossible for American audiences to see news about certain topics absent thickets of propagandistic contextualizing.

. . .

This is all information that the press should want to ask more about, even before the issue of the e-mails in the New York Post story. They may not be world-shaking matters. But if such stories become off-limits just because they make the wrong people look bad, we do have a serious problem, no matter who wins the presidency.


There's more at the link.

I find the hypocrisy of those involved to be mind-boggling in its intensity.  They're absolutely bound and determined to infringe on free speech in any and every way possible, provided only that it gets their chosen people elected to office.  It's a monomaniacal focus that bodes ill for free speech in the future in these United States.

There's a solution, of course, if only Americans would adopt it.  Get off the social media platforms concerned.  Abandon Twitter - there are many alternatives to it.  I use Gab, which is openly and determinedly pro-free-speech.  Yes, there are anti-Semites, racists, and other extremists using the platform too;  and yes, Gab refuses to censor them, because it regards free speech as the highest priority.  I agree with Gab.  I'm an adult.  When I come across individuals or posts that offend me, I have the option to mute or block them at my discretion, without interfering with free speech.  That's my job - not Gab's.  If I deny others the right of free speech, no matter how abhorrent I may find their views, then they have the right to deny it to me.  What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, as the saying goes.  I'd rather have the unfettered right in operation, and use my own discretion as to what I read and/or hear.

As for Facebook, there aren't many alternatives (yet) offering as many options, but that's OK.  Facebook is nothing more than a convenience, not a life-or-death, can't-do-without-it, as-necessary-as-breathing part of our lives.  If we're serious about wanting free speech, we can turn to social media such as MeWe and others, and encourage them to grow into genuine Facebook alternatives.

Google isn't quite as blatant in censoring others, although its search engine is very selective in what returns it shows.  Fortunately, there are many alternative search engines one can use.  I rely on DuckDuckGo, and have several alternatives already linked in my browser's search sidebar, so I can run several of them in succession on an important query to get a cross-section of links and information.

When it comes to biased news media, there are more and more alternatives out there.  Some are as biased towards the right wing of politics as others are towards the left, but some are fair and balanced (and I don't mean Fox News!).  Go looking, and you'll find a lot.  For a start, try John Solomon, Sharyl Attkisson, City Journal, Memeorandum and so on.  If you want more conservative news reporting, try Revolver, Spinquark and Knewz.

It's our choice to go on supporting biased, distorted, censorious social and news media - or to abandon them, letting them wither on the vine while we pursue more honest, open and accountable services.  Let's make that choice, and get on with it!

Peter


The logical consequences of Greening

 

Bestselling author, blogger and meatspace friend Michael Z. Williamson hit one out of the park with a post on MeWe yesterday.  I can't link to it directly, because MeWe doesn't provide that facility, but here it is.


One crisp winter morning in Sweden, a cute little girl named Greta woke up to a perfect world, one where there were no petroleum products ruining the earth. She tossed aside her cotton sheet and wool blanket and stepped out onto a dirt floor covered with willow bark that had been pulverized with rocks. “What’s this?” she asked.

“Pulverized willow bark,” replied her fairy godmother.

“What happened to the carpet?” she asked.

“The carpet was nylon, which is made from butadiene and hydrogen cyanide, both made from petroleum,” came the response.

Greta smiled, acknowledging that adjustments are necessary to save the planet, and moved to the sink to brush her teeth where instead of a toothbrush, she found a willow, mangled on one end to expose wood fibre bristles.

“Your old toothbrush?” noted her godmother, “Also nylon.”

“Where’s the water?” asked Greta.

“Down the road in the canal,” replied her godmother, ‘Just make sure you avoid water with cholera in it”

“Why’s there no running water?” Greta asked, becoming a little peevish.

“Well,” said her godmother, who happened to teach engineering at MIT, “Where do we begin?” There followed a long monologue about how sink valves need elastomer seats and how copper pipes contain copper, which has to be mined and how it’s impossible to make all-electric earth-moving equipment with no gear lubrication or tires and how ore has to be smelted to a make metal, and that’s tough to do with only electricity as a source of heat, and even if you use only electricity, the wires need insulation, which is petroleum-based, and though most of Sweden’s energy is produced in an environmentally friendly way because of hydro and nuclear, if you do a mass and energy balance around the whole system, you still need lots of petroleum products like lubricants and nylon and rubber for tires and asphalt for filling potholes and wax and iPhone plastic and elastic to hold your underwear up while operating a copper smelting furnace and . . .

“What’s for breakfast?” interjected Greta, whose head was hurting.

“Fresh, range-fed chicken eggs,” replied her godmother. “Raw.”

“How so, raw?” inquired Greta.

“Well, . . .” And once again, Greta was told about the need for petroleum products like transformer oil and scores of petroleum products essential for producing metals for frying pans and in the end was educated about how you can’t have a petroleum-free world and then cook eggs. Unless you rip your front fence up and start a fire and carefully cook your egg in an orange peel like you do in Boy Scouts. Not that you can find oranges in Sweden anymore.

“But I want poached eggs like my Aunt Tilda makes,” lamented Greta.

“Tilda died this morning,” the godmother explained. “Bacterial pneumonia.”

“What?!” interjected Greta. “No one dies of bacterial pneumonia! We have penicillin.”

“Not anymore,” explained godmother “The production of penicillin requires chemical extraction using isobutyl acetate, which, if you know your organic chemistry, is petroleum-based. Lots of people are dying, which is problematic because there’s not any easy way of disposing of the bodies since backhoes need hydraulic oil and crematoriums can’t really burn many bodies using as fuel Swedish fences and furniture, which are rapidly disappearing – being used on the black market for roasting eggs and staying warm.”

This represents only a fraction of Greta’s day, a day without microphones to exclaim into and a day without much food, and a day without carbon-fibre boats to sail in, but a day that will save the planet.

Tune in tomorrow when Greta needs a root canal and learns how Novocain is synthesized.


Uh . . . yeah!

Those who dream of a technology-free environmentally friendly Utopia never seem to take their visions to their logical conclusion.  To see what those are, all you have to do is read about human existence prior to the Industrial Revolution.  It wasn't much fun, except to the nobility, and even they lived in squalor and deprivation compared to most residents of any First World country today.  Almost all of us have hot water on demand, a leakproof roof over our heads, clean air to breathe, and the ability to travel hundreds of miles every day in our personal, affordable conveyances.  We also have health care that beggars anything available even a century ago.  (Antibiotics first came into widespread use during and after World War II;  heart surgery from the 1960's onward;  effective cancer treatments from the 1970's and 1980's.)  As a survivor of two heart attacks, plus a crippling injury that would probably have killed me slowly and painfully a century ago, I'm devoutly grateful for modern medicine!

Food for thought.

Peter


Thursday, October 29, 2020

Boys and their vast mechanical toys

 

The statistics of this engine are mind-boggling.


The Emma Maersk’s Wartsila-Sulzer RTA96-C turbocharged two-stroke diesel ship engine is the most powerful and most efficient prime-mover of super ships in the world today.

The RTA96-C is the largest engine in the world and is available in 6 through 14 cylinder versions, all are inline engines. These engines were designed primarily for very large container ships but similar large diesel engines run large ships of all kinds. Ship owners like the combination of a single engine and single propeller for reasons of efficiency and cost of production vs operation of these mega-vessels. As ships continue to get larger with new generations of larger container ships being built each year shippers like Emma’s owner, A.P. Møller – Mærsk, will need bigger engines to propel them.

To help relate to the size of this monstrous engine consider that one cylinder bore alone is just under 38″ and the stroke is just over 98″. And the alone engine weighs in at 2,300 tons and is capable of delivering 109,000 horsepower.


There's more at the link.

The Emma Maersk is more than a decade old now, and has been superseded by even larger container vessels.  These behemoths are powered by the same engine - just with a few more cylinders bolted on.

Here's Top Gear's Richard Hammond walking around one of these monsters and showing us how it works.



That's the biggest diesel engine in the world.  What about the biggest gas turbine - similar to the type of engine that powers the largest aircraft in the world (although those are much smaller)?  That would be the Siemens SGT5-8000H.  Here's a video report from 2008, showing the prototype engine being transported across Germany to its test installation at the Irsching Power Station.



Big and beefy indeed!

Peter


Preparing for the election - and its aftermath

 

Greg Ellifritz is a well-known security consultant and firearms instructor, whom we've met in these pages several times before.  I respect him, and trust his advice.

In a recent Facebook post, Greg warns that the coming weeks are likely to be difficult.  I'm reproducing his warning in full here, because I think it's very important.


Election-related violence is increasing. So are the reported rates of Covid-19 positive tests. If I were to look into my crystal ball and prepare a forecast for the next few weeks, it would look like this:

Street violence is going to increase as we get closer to the election. I predict the results of the election will be contested by one or both sides. Violent protests will skyrocket. I think there will be mass looting and a lot of people hurt and killed.

The police will be unwilling/unable to stop this violence. The cops will be the target for many of the protestors. They will have their hands full just trying to stay alive. They won't be coming to help you. Fire/EMS won't respond to dangerous locations without a police escort, so they may not be coming either.

Governments will institute another pandemic lockdown much more strict than what we've seen in past months. Ostensibly the lockdown will be ordered to control the virus, but in actuality, I think they will artificially inflate the virus numbers just to scare folks and keep people off the streets.

The general populace is more amenable to curfews and lockdowns in the interest of public health than the same measures being used to quash election-related violent protests. More curfews and lockdowns are coming, but they will have nothing to do with the virus.

Please use the next few days to plan for an extended lockdown. I think all restaurants, stores, and gas stations could be forcibly shut down for a period of time following the election. Stockpile food and fuel for your family. Make sure you have at least a month's worth of any prescription/OTC meds. Have the ability to better fortify your residence. Make sure you have plenty of fire extinguishers and some means to defend yourself.

Think about what items you would need in order to survive two weeks without ANY shopping and many hours or days without police/fire protection. Acquire that stuff NOW.

If nothing happens, you'll be prepared for the next winter storm. No harm done. If things get unimaginably bad in the next few weeks, you'll be very thankful you prepared.

Or you can just ignore my recommendations and call me a paranoid lunatic. I'm good either way. I wish you all the best.


Greg's warning squares with other articles I've read recently and/or posted here.  Examples from the past week include:

If you missed any of those articles, follow the links.  They all mesh very well with Greg's warning.  I also repeat my earlier advice:  if you live in or near an area where politically-inspired violence, rioting and unrest are likely, this would be a very, very good time to visit friends and relatives in more peaceful areas, and thus not be there when trouble arises.  That's the safest course of action by far.

Forewarned is forearmed, friends.  Let's not be caught with our metaphorical (or physical!) pants down.

Peter


Is this the Deep State at work? Is the Swamp extending its tentacles?

 

I'm sure most of my readers are aware of Tucker Carlson's extended interview with Tony Bobulinski on Tuesday night.  Basically, Bobulinski exposed Joe Biden and his son Hunter as influence-peddlers and grifters who would (and perhaps did) sell out this country for money.  Two salient excerpts from the interview may be found here and here on Fox News' Web site.  If you missed the initial broadcast, I highly recommend watching them now.  (It seems many other sites are taking down copies of the interview as soon as they're posted.  Censorship, much?)

There's a more sinister turn to this.  Documents related to the report were sent to the studio overnight, but "disappeared in transit".  The package was opened, and its contents removed.



Note Tucker Carlson's comment:  "They used pictures of what we had sent, so that searchers would know what to look for".  One wonders whether those "pictures" included scans of the documents themselves, or just the exteriors or first pages.  If the former, then the contents of the documents have been preserved, and are still available.  One wonders . . .

Sundance suggests:


I review this story from a position that I cannot fully explain. However, I have personal experience -recent experience- with a similar and rather unusual situation that cannot be explained by any method other than DHS surveillance. So here’s what I think took place.

The package, likely a Fed-X delivery, was intercepted by FBI agents using mechanisms for tracking and surveillance that open targeting through portals connected to DHS.

As an outcome of the U.S. Patriot Act, the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security has an agreement in place with mail shipping companies, public/private services, that essentially allows them a portal to track all in-state and interstate mail deliveries.

The FBI has access to this data network in the same way the FBI has access to federal transportation records. Just like when you book a flight and DHS portals are open that allow FBI to track your movements domestically. This type of portal is also accessed in private company transportation like Uber, Lyft etc. DHS, and as a consequence the FBI, can easily track your whereabouts.

Without much hesitation I will bet the FBI was monitoring the communication of Bobulinski, and by extension the entire Tucker Carlson production network. Once the shipment was known to be taking place, the DHS portals are opened; the package is tracked; and the FBI moves in to intercept the delivery.

The transport company doesn’t need to be participating because they are essentially unneeded. Their system network is connected to the FBI.

That’s the likely scenario.

Wanna bet?


There's more at the link.

I suspect Sundance is correct.  Certainly, I know of no other entity that can so seamlessly - and tracelessly - remove the contents of an overnight package without anyone else noticing or being aware of it.

Was this the Deep State acting in desperation, trying to protect its favored candidate for the Presidency of the United States?

Your guess is as good as mine . . . but that's my guess, as well as Sundance's.  I hope that Mr. Carlson's staff did, indeed, make and keep copies of the documents before shipping them.

Remember in November!  We have one chance, and one chance only, to stop this sort of thing dead in its tracks before it becomes routine.  We must elect Congressional representatives, Senators and a President who have at least some values worth having.  If we don't, and the value-less gain power . . . this sort of thing will happen routinely.  We'll all be under the thumb of the faceless Deep State, sucked into the Swamp, victims of Big Brother.

God forbid!

Peter


Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Good advice in so many ways!

 

Seen on MeWe:



Valuable advice for many scenarios:  personal, political, social and economic.  The organized will triumph over the disorganized almost every time.

Peter


SHTF and the value, above all else, of TIME

 

I found an article over at Commander Zero's place that started me thinking.  He writes about what he calls "Lego guns", and the value of simplicity and ease of repair when it comes to firearms.  I entirely agree with what he says, and I highly recommend that you read his article for yourself.  It's good advice, IMHO.

However, his words led me to think again about one of my chief bugbears when it comes to the "prepper" mentality.  I've run into all sorts of people who confidently claim that they have all the skills they need to do what will be necessary in a SHTF situation, when normal supplies, assistance, etc. may not be available.  Some of them involve gunsmithing.  I've known more than a few shooters who know enough to keep a revolver in time, or replace parts on a 1911-style pistol, or tune up a lever-action rifle.  However, few of them have taken into account the simple value of time itself when it comes to keeping their equipment in a good state of repair.

Most of us are accustomed to having all sorts of labor-saving and time-saving devices on hand to make our day-to-day lives easier.  Consider:

  • We have motor vehicles to drive to and from the shops, credit cards to charge our purchases, and delivery services to bring us what we can't buy locally.  We don't need to raise or hunt our own food every day, or even prepare it - we can buy ready-made meals, or patronize local restaurants.
  • We have electricity to power our washing machines, driers, dishwashers, and other appliances, all of which take the drudgery and day-to-day labor of housework off our hands.  I can still recall the days of tub-style manual washing machines (which I'm surprised to learn are still available today in some countries - see here, for example).  Everything except the actual washing had to be done by hand, including draining the water and adding fresh water for the rinse cycle.  A mangle or wringer sat on top of our machine, through which clothes were fed to wring out excess water - no spin-driers were available.  A clothes washing day was hard labor for my mother, although a lot better than it was in the days of wooden tubs and washboards.  Today's automatic washers and driers are a far cry from those days!
  • Maintaining our homes is easy with modern tools:  vacuum cleaners, floor polishers, even robotic systems that clean on demand.

All these modern conveniences save us so much time that we hardly ever think of how it was for our grandparents and great-grandparents.  Being a housewife back then was a full-time occupation, made even more difficult by the absence of reliable birth control.  (One of my grandfathers was the youngest of 21 children, of whom only 14 survived to adulthood.)  Women sometimes literally worked themselves into an early grave with all the hard work they had to do.  Men would slave for long hours in factories and offices (the 8-hour day didn't become widespread until the late 1800's in the USA), and add to that a long commute - sometimes on foot or horseback, others via streetcars, omnibuses or steam trains - to and from work.  They might spend twelve hours or more away from home each day, then come back to tackle domestic chores like chopping wood for the fireplace and kitchen stove, or building or repairing furniture, or what have you.  The demands on our time, back then, were astronomically greater than they are now, and the work involved was much more laborious.  Spare time was a rare luxury to be treasured, not an everyday occurrence.

If we find ourselves in a SHTF situation, one of the first things we'll encounter is a drastic reduction in all the labor-saving devices and amenities to which we're accustomed.  Stores won't be restocked regularly;  travel will become more difficult, and possibly more dangerous;  power and other utilities may become intermittent, or be cut off altogether;  police, fire, EMS and other services may be drastically reduced or eliminated.  Suddenly we'll have to spend a lot more time on basic tasks like finding and preparing food, getting wood or other fuel to heat our homes (assuming we have a fireplace or stove that can use them), and protecting ourselves from threats to our safety and security.  Some of us have generators to keep our equipment running;  but if the emergency goes on long enough, we'll sooner or later run out of fuel for them.  Meantime, it may become too dangerous to use them, because the sound of a generator will attract "borrowing neighbors" like there's no tomorrow.

We're also going to be competing with our neighbors for what we need.  If there are limited food supplies, everybody is going to want them.  If the National Guard or other agency delivers supplies, everyone's going to be mobbing those trucks, wanting their share.  Good luck getting yours, with that sort of competition!  You think you can survive by hunting deer in the woods outside town?  So do all your neighbors - so those deer won't be there for long.  The woods themselves will vanish like snow on a hot rock, as everybody cuts down the trees for fuel.  Interlopers from further away, who may have even fewer resources than your area, will try to "butt in" and take what you have.  That may lead to conflict that requires you to be extra vigilant and defend your area - reducing the time you have available to forage and gather.  You get the idea.

You think that's far-fetched?  I've seen it at first hand for years.  I traveled extensively in sub-Saharan Africa.  Why do you think the vast shanty towns surrounding most African towns and cities, and African refugee camps, are so barren?  There's hardly a tree to be seen for miles - because they've been cut down for firewood.  Why is it so difficult to keep wild animals alive in African game reserves?  Because impoverished locals want to eat them, and use the grazing in those reserves for their cattle.  Warlords and local gangs set themselves up in control of local resources like drinking water, and exact tolls if you want to get access.  Foreign food aid, sent to famine-stricken areas, is frequently stolen by those gangs and warlords and sold in local markets rather than distributed free of charge, as the donors intended.  Do a few Internet searches and read about all this for yourselves.  It's at least as bad, if not worse than, anything I've said - and it's been that way for generations.  It's not about to change.

The same conditions can, and will, arise here if our present social structures fail.  Look at America's inner-city ghettoes today.  Go on - look at the pictures at that link.  Would you like to live there, under those conditions?  No-one in his right mind would!  Look at Venezuela today.  It's gone from First World to Third World status in a decade.  Chavez and Maduro are no better than countless African warlords I've known.  What happened there can happen here, too, if we aren't on our guard to prevent it.

Now, think of maintaining our firearms and ammunition and other security needs in an environment like that.  You think you're going to have time to spend a few hours every week reloading ammo?  No, you're not.  Those hours are going to be spent on finding food and fuel, or helping your spouse keep your home in some semblance of order (doing everything by hand with brooms, buckets and mops), or defending your home and neighborhood.  You think you'll have time to tinker with your pistol or rifle, to keep it in good working order?  Again, no, you probably won't.  The demands on your time will be so much greater than they are today that it's almost impossible for modern men and women to imagine them.  What's more, you may not have enough light to work on them during the hours of darkness.  Fiddling with small parts by the light of a candle or oil lamp can be very tricky (ask me how I know this!), and using a flashlight may be restricted by the availability (or otherwise) of batteries.

That means you should have spares of every essential item.  You carry a pistol or revolver?  Good - but how many backups do you have?  The old adage of "two is one and one is none" applies.  After many years of experience in a Third World environment, I have a simple rule of thumb.  If something is critical to my safety, security and survival, I want three of them.  One is in use or on my person or ready for immediate use if required.  The second is standing by to replace the first if anything goes wrong with it.  The third is a backup for the first two.  If the primary or secondary unit fails, the third will replace it, giving me time to repair the broken unit when convenient (and when no more pressing tasks are demanding my attention).  The third is also available to lend to trusted friends and family who might need it.  If that happens, I'll still have two - my primary item, and a spare.

I apply this to every important defensive or utility item.  I try to have three of each.  My primary rifles use the same magazines, the same ammunition, the same batteries (if applicable).  So do my pistols.  I don't have to adjust to a different method of operation if I swap one for another.  I do the same with kitchen utensils;  I have three of each essential item - stirring spoons, ladles, kitchen knives, and what have you.  I have three different methods to filter impure water, plus purification tablets and chlorine if needed.  I have five-gallon buckets to use for laundry, complete with Gamma lids and a manual agitator (and holes cut in the lids to accommodate it), so if we suddenly can't use our electric washing machine, we have another option.  When it comes to cutting wood, I have at least three different methods of doing so, so that if one breaks or is lost or stolen, I have alternatives.  I also have multiple different ways to cook food, if our primary stove is no longer usable.

This means that I can save a lot of time by not having to worry too much about repairs.  If something breaks, I can set it aside, replace it, and carry on with hardly any interruption to my routine.  The broken item can wait until I'm able to attend to it.  This is where Commander Zero's advice is also very valuable.  Buy items that won't break much, or, if they do break, can be fixed relatively easily.  I have a small store of essential spare parts for my weapons and critical gear, and I've taught myself how to install them.  I'm not dependent on outside assistance to get them up and running after a minor breakdown.  If it's something major . . . well, that's why I have three of each critical item.  Now I'll have only two of whatever it is - but I won't be left empty-handed.  The broken item can be cannibalized for spare parts to keep the remaining two running.

The same consideration should guide our stocks of essential supplies.  I don't believe I'll have enough free time to reload, so I keep an adequate supply of ammunition in store, enough for my foreseeable needs.  (If I end up in a major conflict zone, I'm probably going to die anyway;  but for short- to medium-term problems, dealing with local issues, I think I'm well fixed.)  I may not have enough time to gather food, and there may not be that much available, or it may be too dangerous to venture out to the shops.  Therefore, my wife and I have in stock at least a month's worth of good, nutritious food, offering a decent variety.  Much of it is in easy-to-open cans or jars, and can be eaten cold, without cooking it, just in case.  There are a couple more months' worth of basic foodstuffs like rice and beans, things that can be kept for years if necessary, and are relatively simple to prepare under emergency conditions.  If the problem lasts longer than that, we're going to be in trouble, but we don't have the storage space or the budget to prepare for that, so we do the best we can.

Use the value of time as a basic principle when deciding what preparations you need to make for emergencies.  You almost certainly won't have anything like as much free time then as you do now:  so stock up with that in mind.  Select essential tools and equipment that won't need much time for maintenance and repair, and stock foodstuffs that won't take a lot of time and resources to cook.  Simplicity wins, almost every time.  Apply the K.I.S.S. principle.  You'll be glad you did.

Peter


I'm sorry, but I just can't resist this!

 

I may be in my sixties, but I still remember with joy the cartoons of my youth.  One of my favorites was Tom & Jerry, with the scheming cat regularly being handed his come-uppance at the hands of Jerry Mouse and his allies.  The series is criticized today for being too violent - but I don't recall any blood ever being shown, despite Tom being sliced in half, Jerry folded, spindled and mutilated, and all parties being assaulted several times during the course of each cartoon.

I therefore giggled like a schoolboy yesterday when I came across this compilation of some of the best gags from early Tom & Jerry cartoons.  It's 23 minutes of mayhem and laughter.  Enjoy!  (If the embedded cartoon won't play, you'll find it here on YouTube.)



Oh, the memories . . .



Peter


Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Be careful what you wish for...

 

... because you might get it.

A news report claims that "COVID-19 is pushing Americans to want more government involvement in their lives".


A survey taken during the height of the health crisis finds COVID-19 may have pushed more people to want government to play a bigger role in their lives ... A team from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins University SNF Agora Institute say support for an active government role in society jumped over 40 percent between September 2019 and April 2020. The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic in March.

While some policies are still not very popular, a majority of respondents have gotten behind creating more government safety nets for healthcare, unemployment, and income. Nearly 1,500 adults were polled in mid-April regarding 11 government policies including paid sick leave, universal health insurance, income support, business tax credits, and employment education.

The poll, conducted using NORC’s Amerispeak Panel, reveals overwhelming support for reform from those wanting a more active government.


There's more at the link.

I suppose it's natural for those who find themselves out of work, and short of money, to want help from those who they see as able to provide it.  Unfortunately, the government doesn't have its own money.  It has only what it takes from taxpayers (or prints as deficit spending, which must be repaid by taxpayers sooner or later).  In other words, what it hands out to one must be taken back from them, or from another, sooner or later - and we're the ones who'll do the paying.  Even if we aren't paying payroll taxes directly, we'll pay for it in higher indirect taxation (i.e. sales tax, customs duties, and so on).

The late President Ford issued a prescient warning:



That's all too true.  There's an old adage, attributed to many sources, that "Government, like fire, is a dangerous servant and a fearful master".  Once we become dependent on our government for our survival, we basically surrender our independence to it.  Government is then no longer "of the people, by the people, and for the people":  it's for the benefit of whoever controls it - and there will always be people behind the scenes who exercise faceless, unfettered and remorseless control.

It boils down to a matter of trust, as we discussed earlier this morningCan we trust government to trust us?  Or will government fundamentally distrust us, and seek to use the assistance it can provide to control us?  I'm afraid it's mostly the latter.  I've seen that at work in the third world, all too often.  A government there will coordinate food aid during a famine, or relief efforts during an outbreak of disease, or help to deal with whatever the crisis du jour may be.  However, there are always strings attached.  If your region didn't elect politicians favorable to the government, you'll get a lot less aid than areas that did support the government.  If the government is dominated by one tribe, other tribes will get short shrift.  If your area has natural riches of any sort, the cream will be skimmed off the top of any deal to exploit them - and it'll go to "connected" officials and tribal leaders, not to the ordinary people of the area.  I could produce endless examples, but you can look them up for yourselves.  They're endemic.

(Of course, the situation isn't much different in the USA.  Look at the number of "big government" projects that have resulted in billions being skimmed off the top in graft and corruption.  Boston's "Big Dig" is a good example.  So is California's light rail project fiasco.  There are examples in every state, I'm sure.  Corruption seems to go hand-in-glove with government.)

The more we depend on government, the more government will change from being a public servant to a public master.  That's a very dangerous road to go down.

Peter


Doofus Of The Day #1,069

 

Today's award goes to a clueless motorist in Chicago.


Around 8 a.m., a 42-year-old woman drove onto the lot at 901 South Wabash to park her car. As she entered the lot, a man in a neon reflective vest approached, told her where to park, and instructed her to leave the keys inside her 2008 silver Nissan Armada, CPD spokesperson Kellie Bartoli said.

The woman complied with his instructions and left the lot to conduct some business nearby. You already know what happened when she returned to the lot about an hour later. Her car and the man were long gone.


There's more at the link.

Did it never occur to the driver to check the "attendant's" credentials?  To look for a hut or other official building out of which he worked?  In particular, in every attended parking area I've used before, there's been a sign at the entrance with instructions on how to park, how to interact with attendants, etc.  In this case, clearly, there were none - so why would she accept the orders of a random stranger whom she didn't know from Adam?

Yea, verily, the mind doth boggle . . .




Peter


The Second Amendment, firearms, and the politics of trust

 

Soon after I came to America, I bought my first firearm on these shores.  I came from a country, and from a background, where a firearm could literally be the difference between life and death.  I'd been well armed there, and I wanted to be equally well armed here.  It was a real comfort to know that those approved for permanent residence here - the so-called "green card" - are treated the same way as citizens when it comes to firearms ownership.  We were presumed to be "good guys" unless and until proven otherwise.  As such, most Second Amendment rights and privileges were extended to us.  The same applied to the state in which I lived at the time.  I was allowed to apply for and receive a concealed carry permit in the same way as any citizen.

That came in very handy within a year of getting my permit.  One of my jobs at the time, as a pastor, was to act as visiting chaplain to two prisons.  In that capacity, I also tried to visit the families of those incarcerated there, particularly if there were marital difficulties.  I was doing just that one morning with the family of an incarcerated drug dealer when a "homie" (i.e. fellow gang member) of the inmate barged into the house without so much as a "by your leave".  The woman and children living there shrank back, clearly intimidated by him.  He threw an envelope on the table, and told me that I was to take it to his "homie" in prison next time I went there.  I was not to report it to the guards at the entrance, or tell anyone else about it.  Picking up the envelope, I could feel what appeared to be pills inside it.

Of course, I refused - as neutrally as possible - to do as he'd told me. He swelled up in anger and threatened to "beat me ugly, you (expletive deleted).  I got a black belt!"

As calmly as possible, I produced my Glock pistol from its holster and informed him that no, he wasn't going to do that, because I had a black gun.

His face was a picture.  I wish I'd had a video camera running to record the wordless expressions that chased each other across his features.  First, "Pastors don't carry guns!"  Then, "This one does."  Finally - as he whirled around and left head-first through the screen door without bothering to open it - "Oh, s***!!!"

If I hadn't had a gun that day, things might have gotten nasty.  The man concerned had a reputation for indiscriminate violence, which he could unleash at the drop of a hat without any warning.  The local Sheriff's Office confirmed that when I reported the incident, and sent me on my way with a flea in my ear about not going to places where I might encounter such people.  Sadly, pastors don't have the luxury of deciding whether or not to answer the call of duty.  It goes with the territory.

I describe that incident to illustrate a point.  I was trusted by my new country, and by my new state, and by my local law enforcement agencies, to be a responsible citizen.  That trust included, as a natural extension, the right to keep and bear arms.  It went with the territory of committing myself to be a good resident here (and, in due course, to becoming a good citizen).  If I failed to keep that trust, the right would be removed.  Fortunately, I've never failed that trust, and the right has remained as valid for me as for any other citizen in good standing.

L. Neil Smith wrote about that right as a cornerstone of our constitutional republic.  With grateful thanks to him for his permission to reprint it, here's his essay in full.  I think, in this election season, it's very important.


Over the past 30 years, I've been paid to write almost two million words, every one of which, sooner or later, came back to the issue of guns and gun-ownership. Naturally, I've thought about the issue a lot, and it has always determined the way I vote.

People accuse me of being a single-issue writer, a single-issue thinker, and a single-issue voter, but it isn't true. What I've chosen, in a world where there's never enough time and energy, is to focus on the one political issue which most clearly and unmistakably demonstrates what any politician -- or political philosophy -- is made of, right down to the creamy liquid center.

Make no mistake: all politicians -- even those ostensibly on the side of guns and gun ownership -- hate the issue and anyone, like me, who insists on bringing it up. They hate it because it's an X-ray machine. It's a Vulcan mind-meld. It's the ultimate test to which any politician -- or political philosophy -- can be put.

If a politician isn't perfectly comfortable with the idea of his average constituent, any man, woman, or responsible child, walking into a hardware store and paying cash -- for any rifle, shotgun, handgun, machinegun, anything -- without producing ID or signing one scrap of paper, he isn't your friend no matter what he tells you.

If he isn't genuinely enthusiastic about his average constituent stuffing that weapon into a purse or pocket or tucking it under a coat and walking home without asking anybody's permission, he's a four-flusher, no matter what he claims.

What his attitude -- toward your ownership and use of weapons -- conveys is his real attitude about you. And if he doesn't trust you, then why in the name of John Moses Browning should you trust him?

If he doesn't want you to have the means of defending your life, do you want him in a position to control it?

If he makes excuses about obeying a law he's sworn to uphold and defend -- the highest law of the land, the Bill of Rights -- do you want to entrust him with anything?

If he ignores you, sneers at you, complains about you, or defames you, if he calls you names only he thinks are evil -- like "Constitutionalist" -- when you insist that he account for himself, hasn't he betrayed his oath, isn't he unfit to hold office, and doesn't he really belong in jail?

Sure, these are all leading questions. They're the questions that led me to the issue of guns and gun ownership as the clearest and most unmistakable demonstration of what any given politician -- or political philosophy -- is really made of.

He may lecture you about the dangerous weirdos out there who shouldn't have a gun -- but what does that have to do with you? Why in the name of John Moses Browning should you be made to suffer for the misdeeds of others? Didn't you lay aside the infantile notion of group punishment when you left public school -- or the military? Isn't it an essentially European notion, anyway -- Prussian, maybe -- and certainly not what America was supposed to be all about?

And if there are dangerous weirdos out there, does it make sense to deprive you of the means of protecting yourself from them? Forget about those other people, those dangerous weirdos, this is about you, and it has been, all along.

Try it yourself: if a politician won't trust you, why should you trust him? If he's a man -- and you're not -- what does his lack of trust tell you about his real attitude toward women? If "he" happens to be a woman, what makes her so perverse that she's eager to render her fellow women helpless on the mean and seedy streets her policies helped create? Should you believe her when she says she wants to help you by imposing some infantile group health care program on you at the point of the kind of gun she doesn't want you to have?

On the other hand -- or the other party -- should you believe anything politicians say who claim they stand for freedom, but drag their feet and make excuses about repealing limits on your right to own and carry weapons? What does this tell you about their real motives for ignoring voters and ramming through one infantile group trade agreement after another with other countries?

Makes voting simpler, doesn't it? You don't have to study every issue -- health care, international trade -- all you have to do is use this X-ray machine, this Vulcan mind-meld, to get beyond their empty words and find out how politicians really feel. About you. And that, of course, is why they hate it.

And that's why I'm accused of being a single-issue writer, thinker, and voter.

But it isn't true, is it?


I think Dr. Smith is exactly right.  This great country, of which I'm now (very proudly) a citizen, checked me out before allowing me to reside here.  Once I'd passed that basic scrutiny, it told me - in actions as much as in words - that it trusted me;  that it was prepared to extend to me many of the same rights and privileges that its citizens enjoyed, provided that I proved myself worthy of them by exercising them honorably, honestly and uprightly.  If I kept my side of the bargain, in due course I, too, could become a citizen;  but I didn't have to wait for that in order to be trusted.  America extended trust to me, in the confident hope that I would justify and return the nation's trust.  I hope and pray that I've done so.

This country expressed that trust by allowing me to keep and bear arms.  It was, and still is, the clearest expression of confidence I can think of.  "We trust you to carry on your person the means to take a human life, because we presume you're a responsible, honest adult who won't abuse that right.  Some others have, but despite that, we give every newcomer to our shores the chance to live up to the rights we extend to them.  It's up to you whether or not you fail in that responsibility."

As one who had to earn the right to my US citizenship, I value the Constitution and the Bill of Rights even more highly than many who were born here.  In particular, I think Dr. Smith's assessment - of the right to keep and bear arms as a litmus test for any and every politician - is absolutely correct.  If he or she is not prepared to trust me with the means of self-defense, why should I trust them with legislative control over how I must live my life?

Seems like a very logical question to me.  I suggest to all my readers that we ask that question about any and all candidates for political office this November, and vote accordingly.

Peter