I hope you enjoy my weekly 'harvest' of interesting posts from around the blogosphere. I don't get much feedback from my readers about it, although I get notes from other bloggers now and again thanking me for linking to them.
I'd like to encourage other bloggers to do something like this on a regular basis. It helps to publicize other good blogs, and increase their readership; it gives all of us a source of material that we can bookmark every time we come across it, and simply collect the links each week in a post like this; and I think it gives our readers a wider selection of interesting material. Everybody wins. What's not to like?
I'm going to begin this week by re-linking one of my own articles from last year. I've had a couple of e-mails from school students who were asked to research various aspects of apartheid in South Africa. Their Internet searches led them to my blog, amongst other sources, and some of them wrote to me to ask for a more personal 'take' on what life was like under apartheid.
I wrote about this last year, shortly after Nelson Mandela's death. You can read the whole article here, if you missed it at the time. I hope it sheds some light on a very dark chapter in human history.
Dean Carder offers a very interesting primer on sharpening knives and other blades, including illustrations of various sharpening stones and systems. Very useful to a relative novice in the field such as myself.
This is an appropriate point to mention that Wirecutter links to a detailed history of the pocket-knife, also complete with illustrations. I enjoyed it - as well as this video to which a commenter linked at Wirecutter's place.
(By the way, that knife is real. You can buy it here, if you've got lots of money lying around doing nothing better . . . )
For those interested in the history of rail, Chickenmom has an article on railway signals and what they mean. She links to another article with even more information. Useful stuff.
My friend Kathy Jackson has an excellent article on personal boundaries when it comes to self-defense - things that she absolutely WILL NOT do, even if someone tries to force her to do so at gunpoint. It's not a new article, but it came to my attention this week through correspondence with one of my own students, who mentioned it. I think she covers the subject very well, and I fully endorse what she says. Recommended reading.
Also self-defense-related, the Gun Divas report on various quality control issues affecting a number of firearms and manufacturers. It's yet more evidence that you can't trust any firearm as a tool for your defense unless and until you've tested it sufficiently to be sure it'll function reliably. Even the 'biggest' names in the industry have produced lemons from time to time. I'm often amazed (and horrified) to hear how individuals have bought a gun for self-protection, fired a few rounds through it, then put it away 'until needed'. Massad Ayoob has long taught the necessity to put at least 200 rounds of one's defensive ammunition through any semi-auto pistol without a single malfunction, using the same magazines on which one will rely to defend oneself, before trusting that gun with one's life. I've followed his advice religiously, and recommend it to my own students.
Homestead Survival has linked to all twelve episodes of a very interesting 2005 BBC TV series, 'Tales From The Green Valley'. It's an in-depth look at life on a farm 400 years ago, including all the arts, crafts and skills needed to survive in a pre-industrial rural environment. It's fascinating history, as well as very educational for certain aspects of prepping. Highly recommended.
Melody Byrne, the feminine half of the Anarchangels, writes about what the serious illness of a spouse can mean for the other partner. She describes likely reactions, problems and pitfalls, and offers suggestions about how to deal with them. From my own experience (as the seriously ill partner) I have some knowledge of this: when Miss D. (then my fiancée) made a rapid flight south from Alaska to nurse me back to health after my heart attack in 2009, she went through some of the same issues. I highly recommend this article to all couples.
Meanwhile, Melody's husband Chris is dismayed (to say the least) to discover the existence of 'IMITATION fake cheez'. Sounds like something out of the 'Little Shop of Horrors', if you ask me . . .
Greylocke brings us more than a little food for thought by demonstrating (through video clips) how easy it is to defeat many common domestic security features. In a climate of social deterioration, it makes sense to 'harden' one's residence as effectively as possible. His article will give you some useful starting points.
Nicki at The Liberty Zone is outraged by the unconscionable conduct of a Department of Veterans Affairs administrator at a hospital in Arizona. Her policies may have lead to the premature deaths of some veterans whose medical appointments were deliberately delayed or sidetracked. She hopes murder charges will be considered. Under the circumstances as reported, I agree with her that they appear to be justified.
American Mercenary discusses the challenges faced by the US Army's officer corps in adapting from the War On Terror to the demands of a post-WOT world, and the new challenges of a resurgent China and conflicts elsewhere. He offers an 'inside look' at the process.
Although it isn't a blog post, it's perhaps appropriate to add a link to an article at Bloomberg View titled 'Why Militaries Mess Up So Often'. The author points out:
In peacetime, it’s easy to observe inputs but impossible to observe the output -- which is to say, how ready your troops are to go out and kick some enemy butt on the battlefield. When you get into a war, this completely reverses. In the chaos of battle, it’s very difficult to know exactly what your people are doing. On the other hand, it’s relatively easy to observe whether they killed the people they were supposed to kill and took the territory they were supposed to take.
That means that the people who advance in a peacetime army are, unfortunately, not necessarily the same people you want around when the shooting breaks out.
I don't agree with all the author's points, but the article makes for interesting reading.
Karl Denninger waxes vitriolic over ridiculously high vehicle prices. Here's an excerpt.
What did surprise me, as I recently shopped for a new car (and ultimately bought one as I wrote about here a few weeks ago) was how utterly outrageous vehicle prices had gotten over the last few years in comparison to what you actually got for your money.
Why, one might ask?
That's pretty simple -- the financialization of vehicles has advanced to the point that we no longer do "traditional" car loans from a bank or credit union, or paying cash, as our primary means of purchase. This has taken what should have been a dramatic and continuing technology improvement process that reduces price and led to everyone along the way, from manufacturers to banks to dealers scalping all of the value add from that process for themselves, increasing prices so that all but the last ten cents of that value goes to them and only a tiny bit comes to you.
There's more at the link. I think it's an important perspective on, not just the auto industry, but the entire economy - as Karl pointed out in another article that we mentioned last week.
There's the usual ration of humor around the blogs this week. Here are a few selections.
- The Lonely Libertarian brings us more redneck ingenuity.
- The Feral Irishman (site frequently NSFW) illustrates a puppy who seems unduly happy.
- Mr. Garabaldi brings us the best and worst excuses for speeding. (He's recovering from a surgical procedure at the moment, and faces a more intrusive one later in the year, so please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.)
- Finally, Lantry asks an existential (and, he thinks, rhetorical) question. Personally I'd call it a dangerous question, but YMMV - particularly if you're not married . . .
Finally, Francis W. Porretto has two thought-provoking articles for us this week. The first looks at social fascism as the ultimate development of statism. The second looks at the racial kerfuffle precipitated by rancher Clive Bundy's remarks last week, and points out that everything he said is factually correct, even if not politically correct. (On that subject, I was fully expecting an attack on Mr. Bundy from the usual suspects, along the lines of "He's raaaaa-cist!" They've done it so often, to so many people, that it's hardly surprising any more. Unfortunately, it's also still effective among those who don't bother to think, and investigate the reality of such allegations for themselves.)
That's all for this week.