Thursday, October 31, 2013

A fitting climax to a burglary

It seems a burglar in Tulsa, OK was surprised by the return of the homeowner.  The latter's account of proceedings is wonderful.

Charles Sweeny has lived in the same home in midtown Tulsa for nearly six decades, so you can only imagine what went through his mind when he noticed things inside weren't how he left them.

"Mother's dresser drawer was open, so I knew I had walked in to a burglary. I took care of that problem el pronto mucho fasto," Sweeny said.

. . .

"I looked up and, six feet away, there he was. I had the pistol in my hand, got my finger on the trigger, flipped off the safety and one second later, I was launching lead," Sweeny said.

Sweeny shot the burglar six times before he ran out of the house.

"He tore apart my back door to get in and he sailed out my bedroom window to get out," Sweeny said.

There's more at the link.

Isn't it nice when bad things happen to bad people?


Political correctness, US military style

Looks like the Obama administration's 'community organizer' pedigree is now infecting the US military as well.

A controversial 600-plus page manual used by the military to train its Equal Opportunity officers teaches that "healthy, white, heterosexual, Christian" men hold an unfair advantage over other races, and warns in great detail about a so-called "White Male Club."

“Simply put, a healthy, white, heterosexual, Christian male receives many unearned advantages of social privilege, whereas a black, homosexual, atheist female in poor health receives many unearned disadvantages of social privilege,” reads a statement in the manual created by the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI).

. . .

I obtained a copy of the manual from an Equal Opportunity officer who was disturbed by the course content and furious over the DEOMI’s reliance on the Southern Poverty Law Center for information on “extremist” groups. 

“I’m participating in teaching things that are not true,” the instructor told me. He asked not to be identified because he feared reprisals.

“I should not be in a position to do that,” he said. “It violates Constitutional principles, but it also violates my conscience. And I’m not going to do it – not going to do it.”

. . .

The military manual goes into great detail about a so-called “White Male Club.”

“In spite of slave insurrections, civil war, the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, the women’s suffrage movement leading to the 19th amendment, the civil rights movement, urban rebellions and the contemporary feminist movement, the club persists,” the document states.

DEOMI states that “full access to the resources of the club still escape the vision of equitable distribution.”

The military also implies that white Americans may be in denial about racism.

. . .

I called former Congressman and Lt. Col. Allen West (ret.) to get his take on the manual. In a nutshell – he wants a congressional investigation.

“This is the Obama administration’s outreach of social justice into the United States military,” he told me. “Equal Opportunity in the Army that I grew up in did not have anything to do with white privilege.”

West said he is very concerned about the training guide.

“When the president talked about fundamentally transforming the United States of America, I believe he also had a dedicated agenda of going after the United States military,” he said. “The priorities of this administration are totally whacked.”

There's more at the link.

The only 'equal opportunity' I encountered during my military service, many years ago, had nothing to do with race.  It was simply that we all had an equal opportunity, every day, to surmount a given challenge - a set of exercises, or an assault course, or learning a new skill.  Those who passed got more 'equal opportunities' the following day to surmount the next, even greater challenge.  Those who failed got just as many 'equal opportunities' to suffer through squad punishment, additional physical training, and repeated attempts at the challenge until one did surmount it.  Lather, rinse, repeat, ad nauseam.

Frankly, that's the only kind of 'equal opportunity' I want to see in a professional armed service.  Anything else simply plays into our enemies' hands.  Just ask the Taliban about that - or China's armed forces.


Shot in the face by a T-72 tank?

Here's a video clip to give you the willies.  It was apparently shot (no pun intended) in Jobar, outside Damascus in Syria.  It shows a T-72 tank traversing its turret, aiming directly at the cameraman, then firing a 125mm. shell at him.

No word on whether the cameraman survived.  If he did, I daresay a quick change of underwear would have been in order . . .


Laugh-out-loud funny!

Wirecutter's done it again!  This link is rude, crude and lewd, and definitely not safe for work.  It also had me laughing out loud, and spluttering hot tea all over my keyboard!

Go read.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Forgot the parking brake, did we?

I bet this truck driver had some explaining to do when the ferry got to the other side . . .



The housing market decline gathers speed

During August and September I wrote three articles about how the housing market was in trouble and trending downward, despite mainstream media headlines to the contrary.  I also noted the importance of rising bond interest rates, which would affect the entire economy.  (Follow those seven links to read the original articles, if you're interested.)

Now we see that both forecasts are coming true.  Overall bond prices have affected mortgage interest rates, which (combined with higher house prices) have led to a fall in demand.

The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy existing homes fell in September to the lowest level in nine months. The decline reflects higher mortgage rates and home prices that have made purchases more costly.

. . .

Contracts to buy homes have slowed in recent months as mortgage rates reached a two-year high over the summer. Rates rose in response to speculation that the Federal Reserve would reduce its stimulus later this year.

There's more at the link.

Zero Hedge observes:

... the pending home sales data collapsed in September ... Affordability, argued by some serial extrapolators as still being 'relatively' positive - has drastically weighed on housing at the margin just as we argued previously. This is the first annual drop in 29 months, the biggest drop in 40 months, and the biggest miss against expectations in 40 months.

Again, more at the link.  Bold print is their emphasis.

This is no time to be buying residential property, unless you luck into a real bargain.  I predict another catastrophic decline in housing prices over the next few years as the impact of our fiscal folly takes hold of our economy.  I don't know exactly when it will happen - it might not occur in the short term - but I believe it's inevitable.  Certainly, if you can sell your house at a decent price now, if I were in your shoes, I'd jump at the opportunity to do so.  It may not be there for long.


The brutal reality of dangerous children

I've been conducting an e-mail exchange with a correspondent who strongly objected to my support for Erick Gelhaus over the Andy Lopez shooting incident.  In her view, to shoot a child, even if he or she may be armed, is just plain inexcusable.  I quote:  "He was a child!  He wasn't an adult!  No child can be responsible for his actions, so how could he shoot at him?"

Unfortunately, a child can kill just as easily as an adult under the wrong circumstances.  Consider the following examples:

  • A twelve-year-old boy was shooting at US forces in Mogadishu, Somalia, during the 'Blackhawk Down' battle.  He was shot dead by a US serviceman.  According to the reports I've read, his AK-47 was found next to his body, half its magazine fired, and two spare magazines tucked into his belt.
  • In Iraq, there have been several incidents where children have been 'recruited' as suicide bombers.  In Gaza, Hamas children's TV programs extol the virtues of 'jihad' and becoming a martyr, and encourage children to 'volunteer' for 'martyrdom missions'.  (You can watch one of their programs on YouTube, including subtitles.)  In case they don't 'volunteer', their parents are 'encouraged' to 'motivate' them to do so.
  • Military forces all over the world routinely recruit and use child soldiers.  They've been guilty of some of the worst atrocities of modern times - witness, for example, what happened in Sierra Leone.
  • I have personal experience of an incident in South Africa where a mother, who was a trained terrorist, strapped her six-month-old daughter to her breast and ran towards an Army truck filled with soldiers, raising a Molotov cocktail as if to throw it into the vehicle.  She appeared suddenly from around a building at very close range, leaving the soldiers no other option but to fire on her to stop her.  They did so, shooting through (and killing) her daughter in the process.  Needless to say, they were heavily criticized for 'shooting a baby' - but their accusers said not one word about the true circumstances of the incident.  That would have spoiled their propaganda opportunity.

You may argue that those are extreme cases, and would in any event never happen in North America.  Think again.

In case you thought Mexican drug cartels had sunk as low as they could get, a new report details how they use children as young as 11 years old to do their murderous bidding.

In the last decade, the cartels “have recruited thousands of street gang members, school drop-outs and unskilled workers,” the International Crisis Group recently reported. The ICG, a non-government organization that seeks to prevent conflict, notes many of these “recruits” — to use a clumsy term — are younger than 18, considered expendable, and deliberately ordered to attack superior Mexican military forces.

According to military officers interviewed by the organization, the “cartel bosses will treat the young killers as cannon fodder, throwing them into suicidal attacks on security forces.”

First, the children are enticed or manipulated into joining the cartels, and given basic weapons instruction at training camps, many of which have been discovered in the jungles along the Guatemalan border. The weapons are varied, ranging from AR-15 rifles to Uzi submachine guns, and .38 and 9-mm caliber pistols. Next, the kids are put into cells led by experienced cartel soldiers, who have some prior training with the military or police.

. . .

The case of Edgar Jimenez Lugo, or “El Ponchis,” is one of the more disturbing. At 15, he was convicted of committing multiple murders for the Beltran Leyva Cartel, which he began at age 11, and was sentenced to three years in a juvenile prison due to maximum juvenile sentencing laws — while the case was flaunted in the Mexican and international press. More recently, accused 22-year-old assassin Adrian Ivan Pizana was arrested on a drug-related murder charge. Pizana had previously served time in a detention facility as a teen after being convicted of seven gangland killings.

There's more at the link. Underlined text is my emphasis.

As if to emphasize the above report, Mexican child criminals are already being used to smuggle drugs into the USA, and US teens have already been recruited to commit murders on behalf of Mexican drug cartels.  Even leaving Mexican cartels out of the picture, US gangs recruit children as young as nine - and they commit murders, too, whether in gangs or as individuals.

Still think it can't happen here?  And do you still think that a young Hispanic teen, carrying what appeared to be an AK-47 rifle on the streets of a town in California - and let's point out the obvious;  a state bordering Mexico and filled with illegal aliens, including cartel criminals - should not have elicited law enforcement suspicion?  If you believe that, you're living in Cloud Cuckoo Land.

California is filled with gang-bangers.  Gunfights on the streets in broad daylight have plagued some cities for a long time, and they're spreading to others.  Here are two recent news reports from Oakland that illustrate the problem.

A quick search on YouTube reveals many similar incidents from other cities in that state.  Such graphic reports illustrate that police in California have good reason to be extremely suspicious of any youngster carrying what appears to be a real gun.  If that youngster doesn't comply with their orders, but appears to raise his 'weapon' when challenged, what are they supposed to assume?

I repeat:  under the circumstances as they've been described so far, if I'd been in the officer's shoes, I'd probably have opened fire as well.


Doofus Of The Day #736

Today's award goes to anyone and everyone who thought that the NSA wouldn't bug foreign leaders at every possible opportunity.  (Yes, that includes German Chancellor Angela Merkel.)  The same is done by almost every foreign power that thinks it can get away with it.  Consider:

In the latest brouhaha, it seems Russia gave bugged gifts to delegates at the latest G-20 summit.

Crafty Russian operatives gave goodie bags to world powers at the G-20 summit with USB drives and phone chargers — but they were “Trojan Horses” designed to download info and send it back to the motherland.

. . .

European Union President Herman Van Rompuy became suspicious of the gift-bag devices, which bore the red-and-blue “Russia G20” logo, so he asked technical experts in Belgium and Germany to check them out, according to EU sources.

German intelligence determined the three-pronged mobile-phone chargers could tap into e-mails, text messages and phone calls and, like the USB thumb drives, were a “poisoned gift” from summit host Putin, La Stampa said.

There's more at the link.

So tell me, why are foreign powers so het-up about the NSA spying on them?  Looks like it's "same old, same old" in the international arena . . .

Now, domestic spying on US citizens - that's another matter entirely!  Jail everyone in the NSA who ordered it or carried it out, as far as I'm concerned.  If they have so little regard for the constitution they swore to uphold when they took their oaths of office - the same constitution that, according to the Supreme Court, confers the right of privacy upon individuals - then they should be treated like the traitors they are.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

OK, that's impressive!

Here's the half-time show put on by the Ohio State University Marching Band at Ohio Stadium last Saturday.  It was titled the 'Hollywood Blockbuster Show' - and it delivered.  I recommend watching it in full-screen mode.

Apparently the band had only a week to set up and rehearse that show.  That's an amazing performance, given so little preparation.  Kudos to all concerned.


The lynch mobs are out again . . .

. . . and trying to make a Trayvon Martin-style martyr out of a 13-year-old boy.  You can read about the incident here.  Briefly, a teenage boy in Santa Rosa, California was walking down the street carrying an AK-47-style pellet or BB gun - the descriptions aren't clear, but witnesses agree that it looked like an AK-47 assault rifle, and did not have an orange muzzle or anything else to show it was a toy.  When challenged by police, instead of complying with their instructions and dropping the gun, the boy is said to have turned towards them while raising it.  One policeman opened fire, with fatal consequences for the boy.

The policeman's name has since been revealed to be Erick Gelhaus.  I'm sure many of you in the shooting community already know this, and those who haven't yet read the news are thinking to themselves, "Where have I heard that name before?"  Erick's a well-known policeman and shooting instructor, as well as a military veteran.  He's written many articles online and for print publications about shooting and police matters.  He's also trained many cops.  I've moved in the same online circles as he has for many years, and I respect all he's been able to accomplish.

Trouble is, the media - particularly the far left - are trying to make him out to be a trigger-happy cop who shot an innocent kid.  Witness this opening sentence in a Huffington Post article today:

The Sonoma County sheriff's deputy who gunned down a 13-year-old California boy over a toy gun has been identified.

Talk about pre-judging the issue!  Note the weasel words:

  • "gunned down", an expression implying criminal violence, instead of simply "shot";
  • Calling the teen a 'boy' without referring to his size or appearance, thereby implying that he was a child instead of a young adult (a far more appropriate description for a 13-year-old);
  • "over a toy gun" - a complete misstatement of the facts.  If the law enforcement reports I've read are correct, Erick shot a young man who turned towards him while raising what appeared to be an AK-47-type rifle.  It could not be recognized as a toy in the time available or at the distance he was from the suspect, and he could not afford to risk taking the time to find out.  If he'd guessed wrongly, he'd have died there and then.  It's a hard fact of law enforcement;  if you hesitate, the odds are pretty good you won't be going home that night.  Far too many cops have found that out the hard way.

The left is trying to turn this into a crusade for "justice" for a "boy", without waiting to learn the facts of the matter or find out more about the policeman they're demonizing.  If your stomach can stand it, here's one example to show you what they're trying to do.  It's sickeningly biased and partisan.  Other reports are more balanced, such as this one, or this profile of Erick.

Based on my knowledge of Erick, gleaned over the course of many years, I'm going to come down firmly on his side.  I don't think he's anything like the person his critics are trying to portray.  I'm sure he's very distressed at having shot so young a man . . . but I also know that in the heat of the moment, faced with an imminent threat such as he was, I'd probably have opened fire too.  I've received law enforcement training in the use of firearms.  Our instructors were very blunt about the need to respond to a threat before that threat could kill you.  That appears to be precisely what Erick did.

I understand the concerns of those who believe that our law enforcement officers are becoming over-militarized and far too prone to ride roughshod over our constitutional rights.  I share those concerns, as those of you who've been regular readers will know.  However, I don't think this incident involves any such concerns; nor do I think Erick can be numbered among those who think or act that way.  I'd trust him to 'watch my six' in a heartbeat, and I'd do the same for him.  There aren't many LEO's of whom I'd say that.

I'd be grateful if my fellow bloggers could please publicize the facts of this matter, either by linking to this post, or by composing their own.  We need to provide some facts to counterbalance the falsehoods being propagated by left-wing propaganda outlets.  I'd also be grateful if those of you so inclined would join me in praying for the deceased young man, and his family, and Erick, and his family, and all other victims in this affair - except for those trying to make political capital out of it.  They deserve nothing but contempt, scorn and derision.


Halloween may be more scary than usual this year . . .

. . . thanks to Big Brother mishandling entitlements.

Neil Cavuto isn't the only one predicting trouble;  so is the head of New York City's food bank.

I'm going to make sure that (as usual) I'm prepared for any problems that may arise. I frankly don't expect much where I live - people here are too well armed, and the 'entitlement classes' know it - but I wouldn't like to be in inner-city New York, or Chicago, or Philadelphia if this goes down.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Another strange machine

Yesterday I put up a video clip about a Soviet amphibious tractor that seemed to have pretty amazing performance.  Thanks to everyone who provided more information in Comments to that post.

Here's another one I came across today.  It's the Swedish Bracke T26.a Disc Trencher, used in forestry and similar industries.  The company calls it a 'scarifier', although until today I'd only heard that term used in connection with human body modification.  Its massive disks are designed to cut up tree roots and dislodge small rocks and stumps, leaving behind two trenches ready for the planting of new seeds and/or saplings. (I daresay it'd do a hell of a job of human body modification too, if required!)

Call me an equipment nerd if you wish, but I like learning about well-designed equipment that does its job efficiently and effectively.  That thing looks like it does its job brutally as well!  I can think of a few inner-city slums, on more than one continent, where I'd love to turn it loose . . . perhaps escorted and assisted by a couple of cannon-armed versions of that Soviet-era amphibious tractor.  It should leave them ready for use as a future deer habitat!


Writing my fingers off . . .

I'm getting close to the end of the third novel in the Maxwell Saga.  This one will be called 'Adapt And Overcome', and will see Steve Maxwell in all sorts of trouble, having to cope with professional complications, pirates and the opposite sex.  It's been a lot of fun writing it.

I've just passed 100,000 words, with another 10,000 or so to go before wrapping it up. I hope to have the draft out to beta readers this weekend, and to get it back from them within six or seven days. While they've got it, I'll work on the cover and set up the formatting templates. A week or two of corrections and updates based on their feedback, and it'll be time to prepare it for uploading to and CreateSpace.  My target launch date is Monday, December 2nd for both print and e-book editions, God willing and all other things being equal.

That'll make it four books and 380,000-odd words published since my first book came out in mid-May this year.  I was very optimistic (and very silly!) to have decided to produce four books in such a short time, even though the first three were largely written already, needing only a final draft.  I won't tackle so much in so short a time again, I can tell you!  Next year I hope to publish at least three books, possibly four, but I suspect it'll be closer to three, since they all have to be written from scratch.

I'm considering what to do about my future writing.  I'm quite happy to push the Maxwell Saga further ahead - I have a dozen books planned in outline, with perhaps more if readers want that - but I don't want to get 'typecast' (you should pardon the expression) as an author.  I might also consider another non-fiction book like my prison memoir, but that hasn't sold nearly as well as I'd hoped - admittedly, the subject and genre aren't nearly as popular as SF among readers - so I'm not sure about that.

I'm considering a fantasy series, not massive tomes like the volumes in 'Song of Ice and Fire' or 'Wheel Of Time' or 'Sword Of Truth', that drag on forever without coming to a climax, but something shorter, simpler and more direct.  I'd try to have each book self-contained, rather than ending in a cliff-hanger that isn't resolved until the next book - only to have another one jump out at you when you get there. I'd try to base the series at least partly on events I've experienced, as I've done with the Maxwell Saga, meaning there'd be less emphasis on magic and more on practical, workable developments.  (I know it's a clichĂ© to use Tolkien as an example, but think Tolkien without the elves, dwarves and hobbits.  I'll have to invent some races to replace them.  Kilts will be optional.)

Another option (one that I've already sketched in outline) is a medieval-style fantasy about a soldier in a city guard.  I think I could do a lot with this one.  Think urban fantasy without magicians - or, if there are magicians, my protagonist will regard them with profound suspicion!

What say you, readers?  Would you be interested in one or more series such as those I've described, or should I focus more on SF?  Please let me know in Comments.  Obviously, I want to write what you want to read, or you won't buy my books!  That still leaves me plenty of room to be creative.

(How about a fantasy series set in prison?  With a sexy female high priestess chaplainette?)


One nation, under too many gods, far too divided

I wasn't surprised to see a headline on the Drudge Report today: 'Poll Finds Vast Gaps in Basic Views on Gender, Race, Religion and Politics'. I won't bother to summarize the findings of the ABC News/Fusion poll, which you can read for yourself at the link.

What does surprise me is that the poll doesn't draw the obvious conclusions.  Most of the different views it finds surprising can be summarized in terms of six basic distinctions:

  1. Rural versus urban;
  2. Employed versus unemployed;
  3. White/Oriental (i.e. Chinese, Japanese, etc.) versus other races (Black, Hispanic, etc.);
  4. Older versus younger;
  5. Religious/belief structure versus non-religious/humanist;
  6. Constitutionalist versus who-the-hell-cares.

The people on the first side of each of those categories tend to hold more conservative and/or libertarian views than the last in each of them. Get someone who's on the same side of more than four out of six of them, and there's little doubt where they'll stand on just about anything!

We face a very awkward and difficult future, where the majority of those who bother to vote are now dependent on the 'nanny state' to run their lives and provide them with their daily bread. Take away the nanny state, make them provide for themselves, and most of them will probably go into meltdown. The working minority whose taxes support the dependent majority are getting more and more fed up with this situation.  Sooner or later, they'll have had enough . . . and then watch the sparks fly from those who consider themselves 'entitled' to the fruits of others' labor!

I see many parallels in US society today to the tribalism with which I was so familiar in Africa. That familiarity helped me to cope with prison gangs in the USA when I worked as a prison chaplain (see my memoir for more details). I think I must work up a blog article or two about tribalism in America today, and how I see it developing. The parallels are ominous.


Doofus Of The Day #735

It looks like the bigots of the Westboro Baptist Church have competition.  Today's award goes to the Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Canton, North Carolina.  Here's why.

Looks like they've bought into one of the more recent heresies to sweep through fundamentalist Christianity, the so-called 'King James Only movement'. Briefly, this movement considers the King James Version of the Protestant Bible - a translation dating from the early seventeenth century - to be 'inerrant', divinely inspired, and the only legitimate English translation of the Bible.  Of course, there's no evidence whatsoever for this kooky, whacko belief.  It's utterly ridiculous.  Nevertheless, they believe it, and can become quite nasty to those who disagree with them - witness their labeling as 'heretics' people that many Christians would consider shining examples.

It's always the same with fanatics of any description, be they religious, political, social, economic, or any other flavor. They can't and won't listen to reason. They've got The Truth, and the rest of us will have to get with the program - Or Else.

Personally, if I have to pick between their blind, misguided fanaticism and something else, I'll take 'Or Else', thank you very much . . .


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Is there anything this crawler can't cross?

I came across this video clip of the Russian Vityaz amphibious tractor, and was amazed by how well it crosses all sorts of terrain. See for yourself.

I'm used to offroading in Africa, where dust, rocks and sand are much more common than mud, snow and ice;  so this sort of capability is new to me.  If any readers have seen this thing in operation, or Western equivalents, I'd love to learn more about them.  Please let us know in Comments.


Home again

Miss D. and I arrived home this afternoon after an enjoyable few days in Indianapolis. We went up for the wedding of two friends, and took the opportunity to reunite with several blogging buddies up there, including (in alphabetical order) Brigid, Partner In Grime, Midwest Chick, Mr. B., Roberta and Tam. Much good food and drink was consumed and good company enjoyed by all concerned.

The drive back was one of the more pleasant I've experienced on I-65.  Traffic was relatively light, the construction zones weren't overly congested (being a Sunday), the sun was shining, and it wasn't too cold or too hot for comfort.  I wish more road trips could enjoy that combination!

I'm back to working on the third novel in the Maxwell series. I've lost a few days thanks to this trip, but I hope that by next weekend, it'll be ready to go out to beta readers.  While they're ripping it to shreds (metaphorically speaking), I'll be preparing the cover with Oleg's help, working on the blurb, and getting ready to format everything for e-book and print publication in early December. Wish me luck!


Counting the hours - and the bodies

The USAF has announced, with justifiable pride from a service perspective, that its fleet of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA's) has just reached the milestone of 2,000,000 hours flown.

The U.S. Air Force's MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft accumulated 2 million flight hours Oct. 22, not only marking a significant milestone, but also demonstrating the evolution of the program.

The RPA program began in the mid-1990s. It took 16 years for the community to reach 1 million hours and a mere two and a half years to double those flight hours.

"There is just no way to describe what an amazing event that was," said Col. James Cluff, the 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing commander. "The community really had some very humble roots flying out of what used to be Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field here almost 20 years ago."

. . .

Although the aircrew members are the ones flying the planes, there are hundreds of people involved every day in RPA operations.

"There is really nothing 'unmanned' about RPAs, other than the fact that there isn't a pilot in the cockpit," said Maj. Gen. John Shanahan, the Air Force ISR Agency commander. "From the maintenance personnel, to the pilots and sensor operators, to the communications experts, to the ISR professionals who exploited every signal and every second of every video, this is a team business."

. . .

"I carried the first Predator to Tazar, Hungary, in 1996 at the direction of Secretary of Defense William Perry," said retired Maj. Gen. Kenneth Israel. "Dr. Perry's guidance was 'if Predators save one soldier's life, they are worth deploying now.' No one could have envisioned the unprecedented success these systems have had during the last two decades."

There's more at the link.

This is indeed an operational milestone of which the USAF can be proud, and the service deserves our congratulations.  Unfortunately, those same RPA's have been abused by this country's political leaders to strike without warning at targets of opportunity in several countries. In doing so they've undoubtedly killed many of our enemies . . . but they've also killed a very large number of innocent civilians, thereby creating many more enemies who, in their thirst for revenge, take up arms against us.

The morality of drone warfare has stirred up much debate, as a simple Internet search will reveal. Personally, I don't believe it's ethically or morally justifiable to kill the innocent in order to execute the guilty. Human life, to me, is intrinsically valuable. It's inexcusable to snuff out the lives of innocents, then shrug one's shoulders (individually or collectively) and plead the excuse that it was unavoidable 'collateral damage'.

Tragically, drone warfare has made such 'collateral damage' easier to inflict and its perpetrators far less accountable for their actions. That reality prevents me from celebrating this technological and operational milestone as fully as I'd have wished.


Code Red

That's the title of John Mauldin's new book, published a few days ago.

Here's an excerpt from the book's Introduction.

The money printing that central bankers did after the failure of Lehman Brothers was entirely appropriate in order to avoid a Great Depression II. The Fed and central banks were merely creating some money and credit that only partially offset the contraction in bank lending.

The initial crisis is long gone, but the unconventional measures have stayed with us. Once the crisis was over, it was clear that the world was saddled with high debt and low growth. In order to fight the monsters of deflation and depression, central bankers have gone wild. Central bankers kept on creating money. Quantitative easing was a shocking development when it was first trotted out, but these days the markets just shrug. Now, the markets are worried about losing their regular injections of monetary drugs. What will withdrawal be like?

The amount of money central banks have created is simply staggering. Under quantitative easing, central banks have been buying every government bond in sight and have expanded their balance sheets by over nine trillion dollars. Yes, that's $9,000,000,000,000 - twelve zeros to be exact. (By the time you read this book, the number will probably be a few trillion higher, but who is counting?) Numbers so large are difficult for ordinary humans to understand.

. . .

In the bizarre world we now inhabit, central banks and governments try to induce consumers to spend to help the economy while they take money away from savers who would like to be able to profitably invest. Rather than inducing them to consume more, they are forcing them to spend less in order to make their savings last through their final years!

Savers and investors in the developed world are the guinea pigs in an unprecedented monetary experiment. There are clear winners and losers as prudent savers are called upon to bail out reckless borrowers. In the US, UK, Japan, and most of Europe, savers receive close to zero percent interest on their savings while they watch the price of gasoline, groceries, and rents go up. Standards of living are falling for many and economic growth is elusive. Today is a time of financial repression, where central banks keep interest rates below inflation. This means that the interest savers receive on their deposits cannot keep up with the rising cost of living. Big banks are bailed out and continue paying large bonuses while older savers are punished.

. . .

Bernanke understands that the world has far too much debt that it can't pay back. Sadly, debt can only go away via:

  1. defaults (and there are so many ways to default without having to actually use the word!);
  2. paying down debt through economic growth, or
  3. eroding the burden of debt through inflation or devaluations.
In our grandparents' age, we would have seen defaults. But defaults are painful, and no one wants them. We've grown fat and comfortable. We don't like pain. Growing our way out of our problems would be ideal, but it isn't an option. Economic growth is elusive everywhere we look. Central bankers are left with no other option but to create inflation and devalue their currencies.

No one wants to hear that we'll suffer from higher inflation. It is grotesque and not what central bankers are meant to do.  But ... inflation is exactly what the central bankers are preparing for us. They're sparing some the pain of defaults while others bear the pain of low returns. But a world in which big banks and governments default is almost by definition a world of not just low but (sometimes steeply) negative returns. As we said in Endgame, we are left with no good choices, only choices that range from the merely very difficult to the downright disastrous.

. . .

Ben Bernanke, Mario Draghi, Haruhiko Kuroda, and other central bankers are manning their battle station using ugly means to get the job done. They are punishing savers, encouraging people to borrow more, providing lots of liquidity, and weakening their currencies.

This unprecedented global monetary experiment has only just begun, and every central bank is trying to get in on the act. It is a monetary arms race, and no one wants to be left behind. The Bank of England has devalued the pound to improve exports by allowing creeping inflation and keeping interest rates at zero. The Federal Reserve has tried to weaken the dollar in order to boost manufacturing and exports. The Bank of Japan, not to be outdone, is now trying to depreciate the yen. By weakening their currencies, they hope to boost their exports and get a leg up on their competitors. In the race to debase currencies, no one wins.

Emerging market countries like Brazil, Russia, Malaysia, and Indonesia will not sit idly by while developed central banks weaken their currencies. They are fighting to keep their currencies from appreciating. They are imposing taxes on investments and savings in their currencies. Countries are turning protectionist. The battles have only begun in what promises to be an enormous, ugly currency war. If the currency wars of the 1930s and 1970s are any guide, we will see knife fights ahead. Governments will fight dirty, they will impose tariffs and restrictions and capital controls. It is already happening and we will see a lot more of it.

. . .

The arsonists are now running the fire brigade. Central bankers contributed to the economic crisis the world now faces. They kept interest rates too low for too long. They fixated on controlling inflation, even as they stood by and watched investment banks party in an orgy of credit. Central bankers were completely incompetent and failed to see the Great Financial Crisis coming. They couldn't spot housing bubbles, and even when the crisis had started and banks were failing, they insisted that the banks they supervised were well regulated and healthy. They failed at their job and should have been fired. Yet governments now need central banks to erode the mountain of debt by printing money and creating inflation.

Investors should ask themselves: if central bankers couldn't manage conventional monetary policy well in the good times, what makes us think that they will be able to manage unconventional monetary policies in the bad times?

There's more at the link.  Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.

As if to confirm the book's forecast, today the New York Times headlined a report 'In Fed and out, many now think inflation helps'. Here's an excerpt.

The Fed has worked for decades to suppress inflation, but economists, including Janet Yellen, President Obama’s nominee to lead the Fed starting next year, have long argued that a little inflation is particularly valuable when the economy is weak. Rising prices help companies increase profits; rising wages help borrowers repay debts. Inflation also encourages people and businesses to borrow money and spend it more quickly.

. . .

All this talk has prompted dismay among economists who see little benefit in inflation, and who warn that the Fed could lose control of prices as the economy recovers. As inflation accelerates, economists agree that any benefits can be quickly outstripped by the disruptive consequences of people rushing to spend money as soon as possible. Rising inflation also punishes people living on fixed incomes, and it discourages lending and long-term investments, imposing an enduring restraint on economic growth even if the inflation subsides.

“The spectacle of American central bankers trying to press the inflation rate higher in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis is virtually without precedent,” Alan Greenspan, the former Fed chairman, wrote in a new book, “The Map and the Territory.” He said the effort could end in double-digit inflation.

Again, more at the link.

I've lived in a high-inflation economy for many years, back in South Africa. I've seen how it can devastate one's financial planning, and cripple those living off their savings or fixed incomes, such as pensioners.  To give just one example, the very nice bachelor apartment I rented in Cape Town for R60 per month in 1978 - the equivalent of US $25-$30 in those days - today rents for R3,500, an increase of about 5,700%.  Thanks to the effect of inflation (amongst other influences) on the exchange rate, the South African Rand buys a lot fewer dollars than it used to, so the higher rent is now equivalent to US $250 or thereabouts.

Inflation is disastrous - yet our economic masters appear to be actively embracing the concept as the only way out of the debt crisis.  I think that particular cure will prove much worse than our present fiscal disease, but they won't listen to people like me.  We're not among the 'elite' whose opinions they value.  We don't count.  Ours not to reason why . . . ours but to suffer the consequences of their hubris.  We can only hope and pray that it doesn't lead to nemesis, because the latter is no respecter of persons or station in life.  It'll nail all of us.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

A fat cat and a pot

I had to laugh at these two video clips, particularly because I've witnessed cats' obsession with boxes, pots and other containers so often myself.


A linguistic blast from the past

Via an e-mail list to which I belong, I learned of a New Zealand article referencing 19th-century New York underworld slang.

The following list of slang terms is drawn from a book compiled by the first New York City Police Chief, George W Matsell, in 1859.

Vocabulum, or the Rogue's Lexicon includes an index of criminals' slang with definitions, short stories written using the "language," and appendices cataloging the specialized slang of gamblers, billiard-players, brokers, and pugilists.

. . .

Matsell wrote in his preface that he intended the book to help police officers crack the code of criminal language, which, he wrote, "is calculated to mislead and bewilder, so that rogues might still converse in the presence of an officer, and he be ignorant of what they said."

. . .

Much of this slang ... is full of appeal. Sluice your gob with this gapeseed, ye lushingtons and kates!

Altitudes: A state of drunkenness; being high.

Ambidexter: One who befriends both sides; a lawyer who takes fees from both parties in a suit.

Bag of nails: Everything in confusion.

Balsam: Money.

Barking-irons: Pistols.

Billy Noodle: A soft fellow that believes the girls are all in love with him.

Blue-plum: A bullet; "Surfeit the bloke with blue-plum," shoot him.

Bread-bag: The stomach. [Also: Middle-piece; Victualling Office.]

Bun: A fellow that can not be shaken off.

Chatty feeder: A spoon. [Also, Feeders: Silver spoons or forks. "Nap the feeders," steal the spoons. Smash-feeder: A silver spoon.]

Cutty-eyed: To look out of the corner of the eyes; to look suspicious; to leer; to look askance. "The copper cutty-eyed us," the officer looked suspicious at us.

There's more at the link. Parts of the book are available online if you'd like to read more than the article provides, and there are several editions available on

I found it interesting to compare the criminal slang Matsell cites to that common in London's underworld at the time, according to Victorian researcher Henry Mayhew. His magnum opus London Labour and the London Poor is a classic of its kind. My parents had several abridged volumes drawn from it, particularly London's Underworld, which is where I learned about British criminal slang.


For Scrabble fans

I'm not a fanatical Scrabble player, although I enjoy a game now and then. Nevertheless, I understand there are some people who live, eat and breathe the game, and regard it as a major - even critical - element of their lives.

For such folks, there's a new book due out next month. It's 'Collins Little Book of 101 Ways to Win at Scrabble' by British Scrabble champion Barry Grossman. The Telegraph has a preview of the British edition.

Barry Grossman, one of the UK's top Scrabble players, has shared some of his best tricks, including how to play a “Benjamin”, the importance of the suffix “ish”, and remembering that some four letter words have no vowels.

In his new book, 101 Ways to Win at Scrabble, the former Countdown winner spells out the secrets to a successful performance, some of which are sure to prompt protests from one’s opponents.

Deploying an ‘x’ with a vowel can bring an easy high score, he notes, adding that ax, ex, ox, xi and xu are all legitimate words.

If you manage to place the ‘x’ on a double- or triple-letter score tile, your opponents will be left trailing, he adds.

While attempts to spell out a person’s name are generally met with cries of foul play, Grossman points out that some are valid words.

“Barry”, meaning a blunder, “danny”, meaning a hand, “gloria”, meaning a halo and “laura”, meaning a type of monastery are among his examples.

A “Benjamin”, meanwhile, is a crafty three-letter extension to the front of a five-letter word. So brick becomes “airbrick” and jumps becomes “outjumps”.

Appending “ish” to the end of existing words can also yield a bumper score, Grossman says, citing “childish”, “warmish” and even “pixyish” among his examples.

There's more at the link.

Rather than conventional Scrabble, I enjoy a variant of the game called Anagrab. I learned it in South Africa. The fun part is that when played by a well-lubricated group of friends, the language tends to deteriorate with every 'grabbed' word as the level in the wine-glasses drops . . .


Friday, October 25, 2013

Doofus Of The Day #734

Today's winner comes from Australia.

A French backpacker has been arrested in Western Australia after her boyfriend was spotted riding on the bonnet [hood] of their car dressed in a dinosaur 'onesie', wearing a snorkel and smoking a cigarette.

The bizarre sight confronted police in the northern coastal town of Broome at around 7.20am (WST) on Sunday, as they drove towards the iconic Cable Beach.

. . .

The 23-year-old female driver was later charged with reckless driving and driving with a blood alcohol level in excess 0.05 per cent.

The vehicle, which the couple were believed to be living in, was also seized under hoon legislation. The woman will appear in court at a later date.

A WA police spokeswoman said there seemed to be no reason for the man to be on the bonnet, "other than stupidity".

Tragically, it also appears there is no available [video] of the incident.

There's more at the link.

Y'know, I've lived in parts of this country where a dinosaur on the hood of a car would automatically be assumed to be a hunting trophy . . .


A Celtic music detective story with a twist

I've listened to the music of 'Silly Wizard' for many years with great enjoyment.  Prior to their disbanding in 1988, they were one of the most influential sources in the world of Celtic and Scottish music.

One of their enduring favorites was the song 'Donald McGillavry'.  Here's a live performance of the song, recorded on April 1st, 1988 in Atlanta, Georgia during the band's final tour.  If you'd like to read the lyrics in order to understand them better, see its YouTube page and expand the description in the 'About' tab (below the video window) for a full listing (including useful translations of some of the Gaelic words used).

I've wondered for years who they were singing about.  I mean, there's no famous 'Donald McGillavry' in Scottish history, so why write a song about him?  The other day, on a whim, I decided to find out.  After an Internet search, I came across this explanation.

In 1819, a victim of 'Tartan Fever', [James] Hogg published his collected 'Jacobite Relics of Scotland' [...]. The work was universally condemned by the Whig periodicals ...

. . .

Donald Macgillavry was published in the first series of the 'Relics' with a highly appreciative note. 'This', proclaimed Hogg, 'is one of the best songs that ever was made...a capital old song, and very popular'. He then proceeded upon an inquiry, as solemn as it was specious, into the historical background, unearthing several apparently genuine Macgillavrys - John M'Gillavry, executed at Preston in 1716, a Colonel M'Gillavry of the MacIntosh regiment in the '45 - suggesting that 'a bard connected with that associated clan may have written it'. But the note is designed to do more than put a gloss of authenticity upon the song. Its delightful wrong-headedness seems intended (as do various of the other notes in the 'Relics') as a skit on the unsmiling pedantry apt then as now to afflict popular-song studies. Its author was, after all, one of the most masterly parodists in the country.

There's more at the link.  Another source states:

In the 1831 edition of his 'Songs', Hogg jubilantly recorded this famous victory. The piece had been "originally published in the Jacobite Relics, without any notice of its being an original composition; an ommission which entrapped the Edinburgh Review into a high but unintentional compliment to the author. After reviewing the Relics in a style of most determined animosity, and protesting over and over again that I was devoid of all taste and discrimination, the tirade concluded in these terms: 'That we may not close this article without a specimen of the good songs which the book contains, we shall select the one which, for sly, characteristic Scotch humour, seems to us the best, though we doubt if any of our English readers will relish it'. The opportunity of retaliating upon the reviewer's want of sagacity was too tempting to be lost; and the authorship of the song was immediately avowed in a letter to the Editor of Blackwood's Magazine. ''After all', said this avowal, 'between ourselves, Donald M'Gillavry, which he has selected as the best specimen of the true old Jacobite song, and as remarkably above his fellows for 'sly, characteristic Scotch humour', is no other than a trifle of my own, which I put in to fill up a page'."

Again, more at the link.

It's nice to have the mystery cleared up at last - and I bet the kilted shade of James Hogg is still laughing about it!


The stark, indisputable truth about our financial mess

Courtesy of a link at Silicon Graybeard's place, we find this amazing infographic from FreedomWorks.

I've never seen a graphic that better illustrates what many of us have been saying for years now.

Our economic situation is simply unsustainable.

D'you remember reading a headline yesterday, reporting that over the past five years this country spent $3.7 trillion on entitlement programs?  Sure, it's from a partisan source, but the numbers it cites are fact, not fiction.  You can't make up figures like those and expect to get away with it - the opposition will be only too eager to expose your lies.  As Jon of Freedomworks pointed out:

Since posting this chart to Twitter, the reaction has been intense. Some on the right think I’m too tough on the GOP while those on the left say it doesn’t matter or it’s all a big lie. Others tell me that I should have weighted for this variable or added lines for that trend. They are free to create their own charts to better fit their narrative and I’m sure they will. But the numbers shown above can’t be spun by either side.

The explosion in entitlement programs isn't the only reason for the USA's burgeoning debt:  but, as the Cato Institute pointed out in 2011, it is the single biggest reason.  In fact, it was reported recently that 'Americans who were recipients of means-tested government benefits in 2011 outnumbered year-round full-time workers, according to data released this month by the Census Bureau.  They also out-numbered the total population of the Philippines and approached the population of Mexico.'

The Heritage Foundation has produced its own graphic illustrating the size of the problem.

Let's be quite clear about what this Administration has achieved by such an expansion of our national debt to fund entitlement spending.  They've effectively co-opted tens of millions of voters who are now dependent on the US government for some or all of their daily bread.  Those dependents know - and are periodically and publicly threatened with the reality - that if they vote for fiscally responsible politicians, the only fiscally responsible thing for the latter to do would be to rein in deficit spending and debt growth - and that inevitably means a reduction in entitlement spending.  Therefore, those dependents are likely to vote Democrat in future come hell or high water, because they regard the Democratic Party as their only reliable source of free handouts.

The tragedy is that the Republican Party - at least, the Republican establishment, excluding the 'Tea Party' grassroots constituency that many regard (erroneously) as exclusively Republican - is now locked into those entitlement programs as well.  They know beyond a shadow of doubt that with 49% of the American people now dependent upon entitlements to at least some extent (as of 2011), trying to cut those programs would be political suicide.  Therefore, they won't do it.

I believe that politicians on both sides of the aisle are fully aware of this.  They aren't ignoring the problem;  but they're not trying to solve it in a way that's best for America.  They're trying to solve it in a way that's best for themselves - allowing them to keep their jobs and their freebies and the river of money that flows their way, whilst continuing to exploit the gullibility of the electorate.  They'll allow the Federal Reserve to print money until the cows come home - thereby further increasing our national debt - to pay for otherwise unaffordable entitlement programs, and hope that currency inflation will rescue them from the fiscal morass they've created (and are making much, much worse every day they continue with their current policies).

The trouble is, as Jon points out, they probably won't be able to do that for very much longer before the fiscal insanity of their policies explodes in their faces.

The analogy is imperfect, but imagine the green is your salary, the yellow is the amount you're spending over your salary, and the red is your Visa statement. Then imagine your spouse runs into the room and shouts, “Great news, honey, our fiscal crisis is over. We just got approved for a new MasterCard!” Your first call would be to a marriage counselor or a shrink.

The chart is brutally bipartisan. Debt increased under Republican presidents and Democrat presidents. It increased under Democrat congresses and Republican congresses. In war and in peace, in boom times and in busts, after tax hikes and tax cuts, the Potomac filled with red ink.

Washington likes to talk about sustainability. Forget sustainable — how is this sane?



Thursday, October 24, 2013

Made it safely so far

Made it safely into Indianapolis this evening.  Sore backs for both Miss D. and myself, and some pretty heavy traffic (the wheeled rather than the Web variety) on the way, but so far, so good.

We'll be meeting up with friends later tonight, and I'll post more tomorrow.  To keep you amused until then, here's a kitten meeting windscreen wipers for the first time.  I can't embed it here, but it's funny enough that it's worth clicking over to YouTube to watch it.  Enjoy!


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

On the road again . . .

Miss D. and I will be on the road for a few days, visiting friends in Indiana.  I'll try to put up blog posts from time to time, but don't worry if there are less than usual.  If you need something to read, try the folks in my blogroll (see sidebar).  They're all interesting.


A blast from my past

During the 1980's I lived in Johannesburg, South Africa. Towards the end of the decade I bought a four-bedroom apartment in Berea, a central suburb, and refurbished it.  It was a very nice place in a middle-class neighborhood that rapidly deteriorated under the pressures of the end of apartheid and the political struggle for South Africa's future.  Crime and violence skyrocketed.  Towards the end of my stay there, a man was murdered in the small hours of the morning in the narrow side alley beneath my bedroom window. I was woken by the sound of the blows that crushed his skull, and called the police.  The bloodstains were there for days afterwards.

There was an infamous high-rise circular apartment building called Ponte City, just two blocks from my front balcony.  It had been built in the 1970's as upmarket accommodation, complete with multi-floor apartments and whirlpool tubs, but rapidly fell into slum-like conditions as the suburb deteriorated around it.  During the 1990's it became a haven for gangs, drug dealers and prostitutes, and its central well filled up with garbage, several floors high.  I understand it's been cleaned up now, and is supposedly a better place, but I can't help remembering it as it was in the bad years when I visited people there - the stench of urine, feces and unwashed humanity, the screams and cries of arguing people, and sometimes the slap and crunch of blows and kicks.

A South African film-maker has produced a documentary about the building, which brought back many memories for me.  It may not interest everyone, but I'll include it here anyway, as a blast from my personal past.  (At 1m. 5sec., you'll see a six-floor apartment building, the second from the right edge of the image.  I lived on the side of that building closest to the camera, on the fifth floor, in the front corner apartment.)

It was clearly very challenging having to film in such an environment, with its problems of light and shadow.  Mr. Bloom has written extensively about the technical details on his blog, if you're interested in that sort of thing.

Watching that brought back many memories . . . the decay of an urban island that was built to serve a society founded on racial fraud and falsehood.  However, recent reports indicate that Ponte City has been refurbished (there's a video report about that here), and is now a much nicer (and safer) place to live.  I'm glad to hear it . . . but I don't think I'll go back there to see for myself.  That murdered man beneath my window kind of spoiled the neighborhood for me, for good.


In Memoriam: 23rd October 1983

Beirut, 1983.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."

May they rest in peace.


An amazing Japanese paper art music video

This is mind-boggling - and very creative.

Kudos to all those who conceived of it, and made it. Very inspiring!


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I didn't know that many of my friends may be terrorists!

Looks like Big Brother is doing his usual stupid thing again.  According to Public Intelligence:

A joint bulletin issued in early August by the Department of Homeland Security and FBI warns state and local law enforcement agencies to look out for people in possession of “large amounts” of weapons and ammunition, describing the discovery of “unusual amounts” of weapons as a potential indicator of criminal or terrorist activity.

Citing the example of Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik, who reportedly “stockpiled approximately 12,000 pounds of precursors, weapons, and armor and hid them underground in remote, wooded locations,” the bulletin instructs law enforcement to look for “large amounts of weapons, ammunition, explosives, accelerants, or explosive precursor chemicals” that “could indicate pre-operational terrorist attack planning or criminal activity.”  Weapons do not have to be “cached” in remote locations to meet the standard for suspicious activity.  According to the bulletin, weapons could be stored in an “individual’s home, storage facility, or vehicle” and may include common firearms such as “rifles, shotguns, pistols” as well as “military grade weapons.”  The illegal possession of large amounts of ammunition is also listed as a potential indicator of “criminal weapons possession related to terrorism.”  While the bulletin never clarifies what constitutes a “large” or “unusual” quantity of weapons or ammunition, it does say that such a quantity would “arouse suspicion in a reasonable person.”

There's more at the link.

The photograph of a 'weapons cache' accompanying the article shows a mere five long guns (rifles and shotguns) and seven handguns, for a total of twelve firearms.  I could multiply that total a couple of times before running out of the contents of my gun safe, and I don't have a particularly large collection.  Some of my friends could out-do me by an order of magnitude!  Consider, for example, these photographs of private - yes, private - gun collections borrowed from this thread on (click over there to see many pages of similar pictures - it's a feast for the eyes of any firearm hobbyist!).

So tell me - are those collections "potential indicator[s] of criminal or terrorist activity"?  If not, then my much smaller and lower-quality collection can hardly be considered to be so . . . unless you're an unthinking, knee-jerk-reacting bureaucrat, I suppose!

As for ammunition - what precisely do they mean by "the illegal possession of large amounts of ammunition"?  It's not illegal to possess ammunition unless you're a convicted felon - and there are no federal restrictions whatsoever on the quantity of ammunition one may have in one's possession.  (There may be local restrictions such as fire regulations, etc., but these will be area-specific.)  To merely say that the quantity would "arouse suspicion in a reasonable person" is ridiculous.  For a start, define 'reasonable'.  What does it mean?  What's a reasonable quantity of ammunition to me, as a rifle shooter, might seem alarmingly large to someone who doesn't shoot at all, or appear ridiculously inadequate to someone who owns one or more machine-guns in the same caliber as my rifle.  He might consume a one-year supply of ammunition for me in only a few minutes of firing!  Witness last April's Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot:

I know a few private individuals who each currently have more than a million rounds of ammunition in their storerooms.  (Two of them are friends of mine.)  They happen to shoot several hundred thousand rounds per year, so they don't consider such stocks unreasonable - but the average suburban soccer mom who doesn't shoot at all would probably have hysterics if she knew they were stored in her neighborhood.  (I don't know why, because it's no threat to her;  but logic usually doesn't enter into the calculation for such people.)

I try to buy ammunition in case lots - 500 or 1,000 rounds at a time.  That quantity will last me for anything from a few months to a few years in the calibers I shoot.  I buy it in bulk because it's cheaper that way.  I'm a retired pastor and retired law enforcement officer.  Does my buying ammunition in bulk, and possessing a few thousand rounds of it, suddenly render me suspicious to the authorities?  If so, I have a few words for them . . . none of them polite!

This is yet another bureaucratic overreach.  Perfectly normal activities are now classified as potentially suspicious - and don't let that word 'potentially' fool you.  In practice, it means that some law enforcement officers and/or agencies will claim that your possession of large quantities of firearms and/or ammunition is automatically grounds for suspicion, and that you're therefore automatically to be regarded as a potential terrorist, or criminal, or whatever.  Don't tell me that doesn't happen.  It does.  I've seen it far too many times before - and the more bureaucratic and unthinking the officer or agency, the more likely it is to happen.  Constitutional safeguards are all too often ignored in the process.

It's long gone time we tossed out of office the politicians who approved the 'security state', and dismantled the 'security bureaucracies' that do nothing whatsoever to keep us safe - except consume our tax dollars in ever-increasing amounts, and put out such inane 'alerts'.


He who has ears to hear, let him hear . . .

The title is Biblical, but the wisdom to which this blog post refers is worldly. Specifically, I'm talking about an article Karl Denninger wrote this morning. Here's an excerpt.

A deliberate and full-throated refusal to both consent to and promote deficit spending is the only peaceful means remaining, I am convinced, by which we the people can force the government to break the medical monopolies and balance the budget, which they must do right now, not five, ten or 15 years out.

Remember folks, Social Security Disability is due to go bankrupt in two years, and that's just the first of many of the "big sucks" to come.  That's not five, ten or 15 years in the future -- it's effectively right now and unless we cut the crap the start of the big suck is, at the outside, that close.

In reality it's even closer because of Obamacare and what is happening there ... The only way to delay what is now an impending crackup would be to suspend the individual mandate (and I expect them do exactly that, kicking and screaming all the way, despite all of those delays being flatly unlawful including the ones already granted.)

. . .

But even if the mandate is suspended for a year it won't matter, because SSDI is staring us straight in the face and getting the legislation passed and break the medical monopolies, which is the only act that can stop the implosion, will take the better part of a year if we start now.

That's the math folks.

There's much more at the link.

This is a must-read article, as far as I'm concerned. If you're at all concerned about the state of the US economy and where it's headed, you need to click over and read the whole thing.  I also recommend reading the comments beneath the article.  Some of them are also thought-provoking.

In short, I believe Mr. Denninger is right when he says that if we contribute to our highly-leveraged economy and society by joining in the current lemming-like credit-fueled 'race to the bottom', we're effectively dooming ourselves and our nation. His solution is to withdraw from the credit merry-go-round;  to live on one's earnings, not taking out loans, not keeping a balance on one's credit cards, but learning to live within one's means.  Pay cash.  (Obviously, there will be some situations such as medical emergencies where this isn't possible;  but for normal consumer items, the rule is, buy for cash or don't buy at all.)

Miss D. and I are working towards this as quickly as we can, and we hope to be there within the foreseeable future.  It'll be a big weight off our minds when we do.