Wednesday, March 31, 2021

More about the Antifa violence in Salem, OR


On Monday morning I put up an article titled "Yet again, police act against someone defending himself".  It described how an Antifa mob in Salem, OR deliberately targeted a pickup truck;  and when the driver drew a firearm to try to defend himself, the police arrested him, not the rioters.  It's enough to make your blood boil.

I also linked to some previous articles I've written, pointing out that the justice system and law enforcement can no longer be assumed to be on your side.  Too often, in too many places, they're biased towards criminals, whether under orders or not.  The Salem incident is yet more evidence of that.

The anonymous blogger at The Patrol Base offers this perspective on what we saw.  Those with military combat training and/or experience will immediately recognize much of what he says.

Every patriot needs to watch this and get angry. Antifa and the police working together side by side to bring down one man. I hate watching and writing about this ****. It is horrible to watch, but we must face the truth. This is reality.

. . .

I had a few ideas as I watched this. I am certainly not dogging the man for anything he did. I am just thinking out loud as I watch this video. Take it or leave it:

1. Don't make yourself a target. You do not live in a country of laws anymore so act like it. American flags, loud stickers, and even veteran signs invite trouble depending on your AO. Wear them if you want but be ready to be a target. Act accordingly.

2. Don't get out of your vehicle unless you absolutely must. Think of it like reacting to an ambush, push through the kill zone first. YOU NEVER STOP IN THE KILL ZONE!!! They want you to stop there so they can escalate the fight in their own way. Don’t fight on the battlefield they choose. Never fight in the kill zone.

3. 0:28: Never walk into a crowd of people, no matter how big or small it is. If you made the mistake of stopping and getting out, keep an obstacle (the truck) between you and them. In this case, instead of the truck being an obstacle to the mob, it is used as a screen to allow the mob to escalate the fight on their terms.

4. If pepper sprayed, break contact immediately. GTFOOT. Get the **** out of there. You know you are being filmed and in their kill zone. Slip away, Airborne! Leave your truck if you must. The times are changing fast. The mob is allowed to attack you. You are not allowed to defend yourself. Drawing your weapon to make a stand is your last resort and if you do, have the mindset to be ready to use it. A mob which thinks you will not shoot will not have remorse as they literally rip you apart limb by limb. I have seen other countries Special Forces units which were not ready for the ferocity of the mob. Sure, they backed off, but not very far.

5. 0:50: The crowd smells blood as their police allies moves in to finish the fight. With the threat gone, the crowd also moves closer. The cops arrest another innocent man (and apparent Vietnam veteran by the decal on his vehicle) as crowd cheers and jeers. If this continues down the path we are going then eventually the police will leave that man with the crowd and back away because they know they will be next. The Iraqi' mobs like to cut off heads and dicks. I wonder if the American communists will do the same?

That is really all I can watch. Too much anger, hate, and disgust. It makes me angry that an American Marine Vietnam Veteran (if the stickers on his vehicle are correct) is being treated this way by two different communists units, and one state sanctioned! Oh, how the mighty have fallen. I guess the last bit of advice is to get yourself a dash camera or body cam if you are going to engage with these people. The camera phone has become the rifle in this new version of warfare that is being waged in America. It is always better to have your point of view filmed and documented because you know theirs will be. And they have the backing of the entire system. Always avoid contact and deescalate unless on your home field. Only then is it speed, surprise, and violence of action. Silence, violence, silence. And don't remember nothing. Always have a Ranger buddy. Good luck out there, we all need it. Raptor 2, out.

There's more at the link.

In general, that's good advice.  It may not always be possible to "drive through the kill zone", because you may find a mob deliberately blocking your path, daring you to drive over them.  They know that will make you a criminal in the eyes of the law, and they know you know it too.  In such a situation, they hold the whip hand - or so they think.

I can't tell you what to do in such a situation, particularly because many potential responses skirt the edges of the law, and may go beyond it.  Nevertheless, it's essential that we all think about them beforehand.  If we get caught up in a mess like that, what will we do?  What equipment should we have with us?  How should we use it?  Where should we go?  What should be our reaction or response to rioters - and to law enforcement officers?  The more we think ahead of time, the better we can respond if we're affected by such events.

Basic take-aways from this incident:

  • Have at least a forward-looking dash cam, if not 360 degree coverage all around your vehicle.  If the enemy will be filming you for possible evidence in court, do the same to them.  You may need it.
  • Have less-than-lethal defenses handy.  A tire knocker or big wrench next to your door may be useful, as might pepper spray or gel (provided you can use it without it being blown back into the cab, and into the faces of those inside - that's why gel might be a better option than spray).  Remember, too, that in a really dangerous situation, you're driving a vehicle with a heck of a lot more mass (and momentum) than any bullet.  A firearm is a last-resort tool in such situations.
  • Understand up front that your race and/or appearance may make you a target of such hooligans, as may your choice of vehicle and how you've decorated it.  Be prepared to respond accordingly.  If possible, be a "gray man".
  • Don't try to talk to the mob, or try to stop them damaging your vehicle.  Damage can be fixed.  If they begin attacking it, you have a valid excuse to leave the scene by driving off.  "I was in fear of my life, and the damage to my vehicle proves that the threat was real" - particularly if you record them on camera inflicting it.  If, in the process of getting away from that danger, you have no choice but to drive over or through your attackers, their actions will provide a strong defense to counter any charges against you that may result.
  • Your vehicle will probably be registered to you, or (if, for example, you hired it) records can link it to you.  Your features are probably already stored in facial recognition computer systems.  Once such identifying elements are on camera, you're not going to get away with anything.  Therefore, try to remain off camera as far as possible, but behave as if you're being filmed all the time.  Don't let the cameras catch you doing anything that might get you into trouble later.  A face mask and sunglasses might not be a bad idea at all - and anti-COVID-19 measures make the mask easier to explain, if that should become necessary.
  • Understand that some people aren't willing to be reasonable, or talk about their issues.  They're looking for trouble, and more than willing to start it.  Don't descend to their level, and don't try to debate with them at that level.  Get out of their way.  If they make that impossible, respond accordingly.  They've brought the consequences on themselves.  Just make sure you understand, ahead of time, what the consequences might be for you as well.
It's a nasty, violent world out there.  Be prepared.


A gastronomic monstrosity!


I can only laugh and shake my head at the latest dietary catastrophe from England.  I've eaten chip butties (for American readers, that's soft-cooked French fries in a bread sandwich, with or without ketchup or other seasonings) on a number of occasions, but . . . this???

CUSTOMERS have been battering down the door at a chippy for a deep fried butty.

The 1,000-calorie bread roll is filled with chips and a choice of gravy, mushy peas or curry sauce before being deep-fried.

For £2.80 [just under US $4], hungry customers also get another portion of chips on the side.

Laura Frere, manager at KP’s Fish Bar in Leeds, reckoned: “It has gone mental. We had to close on Sunday because we ran out of food. And we had to ring our supplier for an emergency delivery after going through 25 bags of potatoes.”

There's more at the link, including more photographs of the guilty party sandwich in question.

I've no doubt it tastes delicious, but the carb count of that thing must be off the dietary charts - and as for the calories, that's more than half the recommended daily intake for the average adult!  I imagine dietitians are having heart attacks just reading about it!

Still . . . it's tempting . . .


That gets it said


Kevin, writing at The Smallest Minority, puts into words what I've been feeling for some time now.

The 2016 election gave me a glimmer of hope, but 2020 ruthlessly stamped out that ember. The Authoritarian Left and its oligarchs in Washington will make sure that their power is never again threatened by the electorate. As someone put it after November 3, 2020, “We knew we had to win by more than the margin of fraud. We just didn’t realize the margin was infinite.”

H.R. 1 legally codifies power grabbing into the future. No more fear of another Bernie or Trump wrecking their plans. The Left controls both houses of Congress, the White House, most of the bureaucracy, and a whole lot of the Justice Department, not to mention the remainder of The Swamp. They can do whatever they want, and they are. Open the border? Done. Raise taxes on the middle cl… I mean, the rich? No problem. Disarm the dangerous “domestic terrorist” publ… I mean, protect the children? On its way!

And anyone who opposes this is a racist and/or a domestic terrorist. A Public Enemy. A Traitor.

I said a while back that I thought all of this insanity had a basis in reality. The Oligarchs aren’t nuts. Well, they may be, but they’re not irrational. They use the irrationality they deliberately created among the general public as a tool, a lever for greater and greater social division so that the chance of any organized opposition of any size is minimized. Why do you think they’re so freaked out about the Capitol riots January 6? Well, they’re not, really. That’s political theater, at which they’re masters. The conditions were set up by them. The Capitol Police were largely stood down and requests for National Guard were refused due to “optics.” Honestly, I think they’re disappointed in the body count. But never mind, it gave them the excuse to clutch their pearls in front of the cameras and claim fear for their lives, and arrest people publicly – the Roger Stone treatment of SWAT teams and armored vehicles, smashed doors and ransacked houses. “This is what happens when you protest wrong.” Turn the thumbscrews one more turn, tighten the ratchet one more click.

In my July 2020 post Endgame I predicted the election outcome. I also wrote:

The wheels come off the train and the train comes off the track in 2021, one way or the other.

The End of America has been predicted by many people for quite some time.  The Progressive Postmodernists appear to have decided that the time is ripe.  The national debt cannot be ignored forever.  The projected entitlement spending is unsupportable.  All their preparation of the battle space through balkanization has brought us to this point.  Black Lives Matter, itself organized and run by self-proclaimed Marxists, is the hinge on which the lid is swinging, but Pandora’s Box is certainly opening.  I don’t think we’re going to stop the greed, envy, hatred, pain, disease, hunger, poverty, war, and death that will come flooding out of it, and there most likely won’t be much around afterward to put them back in.

BLM is no longer the hinge. Post January 6, “Domestic Terrorism” has taken its place. The Anointed have told their followers to Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid of their neighbors who are Not Like Them™. But the National Debt currently exceeds 28 trillion dollars. Twenty-eight TRILLION dollars. $28,000,000,000,000. Not quite five times what it was in 2000, and spending hasn’t slowed down a bit. It continues to accelerate.

That which cannot go on, won’t. But the Anointed are getting theirs while the getting is good, and the rest of us are on our own.

How much longer before their gravy train derails? I predicted before the end of 2021, but there’s a lot of ruin in a nation. We may yet hang on a bit, but not forever.

We live in the very best period of history humanity has ever experienced, and we’re about to destroy it nonchalantly, like a child with a Christmas ornament.

There's more at the link.

I hope and pray that you, dear readers, have been reading, absorbing and thinking about what's been happening since November last year.  It's as clear as the nose on your face.  We're watching - sadly, we're participating in - the deliberate destruction of the US constitution, and of the nation built on that foundation.  Unfortunately for them, what the radical Left is trying to erect in its place is founded on sand, and its elements are crumbling almost as fast as they can be put into place.  The economy will make sure that they fail.

What's even worse, other countries are fully aware of what's happening, and they're already positioning themselves to take advantage of our weakness.  China is the most obvious example, but they're far from alone.  The world order is shifting in front of our eyes, because foreign leaders know that the Biden administration is illegitimate and fraudulent, headed by a senile figurehead who probably isn't capable of tying his own shoes, let alone administering the nation.  That means those leaders will act without waiting for the USA to get involved.  For example, if I were Iran, I'd be worried.  Israel and several of the Arab nations on the Persian Gulf are making common cause to confront its threat, and if another crisis erupts there, I suspect none of them will wait for US leadership or direction, because they no longer trust the USA to support them and/or their interests.  No, I suspect they'll "go it alone" with a decapitation strike to remove the Iranian threat once and for all, possibly including the use of weapons of mass destruction.

Domestically, we're in the same boat.  The nation's political and administrative structures are being weaponized against those the Biden administration and the progressive left perceive as their opponents.  The fact that this is illegal doesn't bother them worth a damn.  They're moving as fast as they can to impose their control on every organ of state, national, regional and local.  At present they're being hindered by conservative states, but if they can overwhelm state independence through making the states dependent on Washington D.C. for funding, they'll eventually assimilate them too - or so they think.  I can't see them succeeding everywhere in the short term, but the left-wing administrations in "blue states" are welcoming their new federal overlords with enthusiasm.  That's understandable - they think they can now drink at the (much larger) Federal trough, instead of their own more limited opportunities for graft and corruption.  They're probably right.

Folks, we're watching our national stability crumble before our eyes.  Any major crisis, foreign or domestic, might trigger a serious meltdown - economic and/or political.  I have no doubt whatsoever that one will come along in the not too distant future.  Pay attention to the signs of the times, prepare yourselves as best you can, and stay mentally and spiritually strong (and physically, as far as you can).  In such a meltdown, the weak will go to the wall.  I've seen that far too often for comfort, and I expect to see it here before very long.

As our forefathers would have put it . . . keep your powder dry.


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The mindset of a "deep blue" city administration


Chris Sacca gives us a chilling insight into the mindset of San Francisco city administrators in a series of tweets.  The summary below is taken from Threadreader, which cuts out extraneous graphics and gets to the meat of the matter.

15 years ago, I co-led a team trying to give 100% free Internet access to all of San Francisco starting with the poorest neighborhoods first. The network would be anonymous, with no ads, no cookies, etc. Approximately a $20-25 million gift. The result? We were chased out of town.

One SF Supervisor told us she would vote against it unless we promised to fund quarterly field trips (eg to the zoo) for the kids in her district. Another promised to vote against it because we wouldn’t give free laptops to all of SF. 

One Supe rejected it because poor people needed “training to use the Net.” Countless low/no-income residents spoke at hearings about how they had computers and knew how to use the web, but couldn’t afford Comcast. Supes mansplained back to those very people that they were wrong. 

We built a demonstration network in a public housing project in Hunters Point. It was saturated with use. Those residents testified that laptops and phones weren’t expensive, cable and data plans were the problem. The Supes just couldn’t accept that those people were Net savvy. 

Ultimately, one Supervisor told us straight up: He didn’t care what this meant for the people of his district, he was blocking it because it would give the mayor a win in a political year. He was the deciding vote and I will never forget what he said... 

“Stop lecturing me about the digital divide, because I don’t give a ****. Now get the hell out of my office.” Our team walked out stunned, sat in the lobby of City Hall, and realized it was over. 

My partners and I had done Q&A sessions in every Supe’s district and in community and senior centers all over town. Support for the network was off the charts, particularly among those who needed it most. But it was clear that the Supes didn’t care about poor San Franciscans. 

They wouldn’t listen to their own constituents. They perpetuated racist tropes and demeaning stereotypes about their poorest residents. And for what? It was all a big game to the politicians. The winners were the Supes’ egos and the losers were the people they supposedly served. 

San Francisco is a wonderful city that I was lucky to call home for years. But I’ve never seen any place in the world better at cutting off its nose to spite its face. My heart aches for what that city was and could be. Cheers to those of you still trying to help. 

Epilogue: After SF rejected our offer, we built a free, city-wide network in Mountain View, CA. About 12-15,000 people used it every day for years. The majority of them spoke Spanish as their primary language and told us they couldn’t afford regular Internet access.

We know San Francisco isn't alone in its administrators' attitudes.  Look at what's happened over the past year in Los Angeles, CA;  Portland, OR;  Seattle, WA;  Minneapolis, MN;  and many others.  Whenever and wherever a Democratic party administration entrenches itself in power, we find similar attitudes among local leaders.  They no longer seem to care about what their people need or want - only about what's good for them, and their policies, and their "vision", and their party.

What astonishes me is that the residents of those cities haven't thrown out their politically correct administrations long ago.  Can they truly be so brainwashed as not to see reality when it bites them?

Sheesh . . .


What if the things we need aren't there when we need them?


The past few weeks have shown us (as if we needed to be shown yet again) how fragile our "normality" is, in economic and supply terms.  Consider these headlines from just the past couple of weeks:

I could go on with more examples, but those suffice to show that our supply chain from raw material production, to shipper, to manufacturer, to assembler, to distributor, to retail outlet, is under very heavy stress.  There's no sign of the situation easing, either, because new shocks - like the Suez Canal closure, resolved only yesterday - keep adding to the burden.

Basically, the one word that describes our supply lines is "fragile".  There are too many points at which they can be interrupted, and many of those points are, or have been recently, under siege.  All too often they've been interrupted, with dire consequences for those affected.  (Witness the effect of February's blizzard in Texas on the world's supply of computer chips for vehicles, and on production of key chemicals and certain types of plastic.  None of those areas have yet returned to full production, and downstream consumers - particularly factories and production plants - are hurting.)

Yesterday Bill Blain noted:

On Sunday I spoke with one of my old racing yacht crew who is now doing extremely well in Global Shipping. I asked if there was anything we were not being told, or what the real story of the ship blocking the Suez was. He was cagey but told me... “If you need Garden Furniture, buy it today” ... The key-thing is what happened on the Suez demonstrates is just how easy it would be to block the bottlenecks of global trade. Everything from consumer tat to chips would be stressed.

. . .

Western Economies are dependent on long exterior global supply chains to fuel demand for more and more consumer goods. We’ve become comfortable to click and deliver being satisfied from China. Stuck in lockdown we’ve heard disembodied voices warning of economic catastrophe, but we’ve been cocooned from the economic reality, relying on governments assurances they can prop up the Covid ravaged economy with subsidy and furloughs. Destabilise our supply lines, and the threat is a run on everything – potentially making last year’s pandemic panic look tame.

. . .

Western society has never been this unstable, polarised and disunited ... The economy of the West [has] bought into the promises of technological change and addressing the environment ... But the reality is economies have become increasingly bureaucratic, stultified by regulation, and held back by political gridlock and polarisation. Infrastructure is old and tired. Key skills and capacities have been lost.

Let me present a tiny example – speciality steels. Without speciality steels for the fine work of tech, the economy will ultimately wither and die. We are now entirely beholden to external steel. The UK government put plans to restore mining the key element of steel in the UK on hold. Without metallurgical coal – you can’t make steel. Fact. The UK prefers its steel to be made in China with Australian met. coal so it can say it’s tough on cutting carbon. The facts are simple – make the steel here, less carbon miles and more high quality jobs. Or…

But, the risks are not just in terms of physical supply chains. The digital economy is even more important and potentially even less protected. We’ve largely remained unaware of just how vulnerable we are ... The degree of interconnectedness in the global economy is extraordinary ... Increasingly companies realize it's not a matter of understanding their own vulnerability, but the vulnerability of all their suppliers, and hence, the whole digital supply chain.

There's more at the link.

Add to that the economic mismanagement being exhibited by the Biden administration, with the Federal Reserve printing money like there's no tomorrow to fund its grandiloquent schemes, and we can see all the signs of real economic trouble brewing.  Short-term "bubbles" such as the increase in house prices, the stock market rally, etc. are merely Band-Aids covering the worsening wounds caused by many other factors.  We discussed some of them recently.  They haven't gone away - in fact, many are getting worse by the day.

What this means is that we need to improve our preparedness to face shortages in supply as a normal thing.  They may be local or regional rather than national, but some will affect the whole country.  What's more, they're very likely to be more regular occurrences than they have been in the past.  Some will affect imported supplies more than US-made goods, but since many of our raw materials, consumer appliances, vehicles and their parts, etc. come from overseas, that's cold comfort.  (For example, have you any idea where most refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, etc., and/or their critical components and spare parts for them, are manufactured?  Yes, that's right - China.  Have you noticed how the pressure on international shipping from that country to others has impacted the supply - and the price - of such appliances?  There's a smaller selection of them in many stores, and they're often more expensive than last year.  Go check for yourself.  While you're at it, look at the prices of car parts, auto batteries, tires, etc. - most of them imported, of course.  Talk about sticker shock!  Note, too, that on a more strategic level, four-fifths of the rare earth elements used in this country are imported from China.  Among other things, we couldn't defend ourselves without them.)

Politics aside (and there's plenty to worry about on that front), more and more Americans are waking up to the fact that our economic and social situation is far from stable.  There are too many things going wrong at once, and too many threats to the status quo, to be complacent.  A few weeks ago, I quoted Frank and Fern's thoughts on the matter.

This is where we are. If you aren’t in a situation, location, state of mind where you can provide for your NEEDS, not wants, when the system implodes or declines to the point of not supplying the basics for everyday life, then please work diligently with all of your might to get that way. Sometimes the decline of a system is rapid, sometimes it’s slow and you can see it coming more clearly and make the needed adjustments. Everyone we talk to, everyone, normal everyday people that up to now didn’t have a care in the world, shopped everyday for dinner and went about their lives, KNOWS something is very not right. It’s in the air, in our bones, invading our thoughts and feelings. The world is not right. Something is coming.

Be as ready as you can. It’s important. It’s beyond important. It’s beyond words important.

Go read the whole thing.  I agree with them.

So, what practical steps can we take to prepare for shortages, particularly those of unknown duration?  I can't speak for anyone else, but here are some of the things that Miss D. and I are doing.  Our budget is very limited, but by selling things we don't need, we can partly compensate for that.

  • I recently sold a rifle, and invested the proceeds in a second freezer and a larger generator, one capable of running both our freezers and our refrigerator at the same time, as well as a few lights and other domestic needs.  I'll keep both in our garage, complete with a professionally installed pipe to carry the generator exhaust outside.  If we suffer an extended power outage, as happened to much of Texas a few weeks ago, we should be able to save our frozen foods, and run lights and a heater if need be.
  • I'll be selling another rifle very soon now, to invest the proceeds in meat and some other emergency foodstuffs to bolster our supplies.  Given the increasing price of meat, it makes sense to buy food of a known quality from a local supplier and freeze it, rather than have to rely on an uncertain supply at fluctuating prices.  By shopping around, we can get premium quality meat at a discount to most supermarket prices.
  • Since our new generator will use more fuel than our present small unit (which I'll retain as a backup), I'll expand our gasoline storage.  My aim is to have enough to run our generator off-and-on for up to two weeks.  (Of course, I'll store the fuel outside our home, because of the fire risk.)
  • We already have enough food in reserve to last for up to three months without resupply.  It'll be a bit monotonous (rice and beans may be nutritious, yet eating them day in and day out can be more than enough of a good thing!), but it'll do in a pinch.  I'm now going to consider what I can do to provide more variety (herbs and spices for flavoring, condiments that can add flavor and make food more interesting, and so on) and also increase our supply of key foods that won't deteriorate in long-term storage.  We don't have that much storage space, but if necessary I'm willing to rent a small climate-controlled storage unit to house the overflow.  If an emergency arises, I can move its contents into our garage at short notice with just one or two trips.
  • We've already secured a 90-day reserve supply of all of our regular prescription medications.  I'm going to see about stretching that to 180 days.  That won't be cheap, but if necessary, I'll sell another item or two to pay for them.  Given the proportion of medications and their raw materials that come from overseas, that may be a very important precaution indeed.
  • Automotive parts and consumables aren't cheap, but they're very vulnerable to supply interruptions.  If your car's battery goes flat, or your tires wear out, you'd better be able to get replacements - or you won't be going anywhere!  I'm giving thought to buying a set of tires now, even though we won't need them for a year or two, and doing the same with a spare battery.  I already keep enough (synthetic) oil and filters on hand for two oil changes.  I'll look into other critical parts (e.g. drive belts, spark plugs, air filters, etc.).  I'm no mechanic, but at least I'll be able to take the car to a mechanic, hand him the parts, and ask him to fix whatever needs it.

I can already hear some readers objecting, "But we can't afford them!  All those things will cost a lot of money!"  Yes, they will . . . but how much will it cost if you don't have them, or can't get them, when you need them?  That's the really important question.  I'm trying to do my best to prepare for what I see as a parlous supply situation in future.  I have little confidence that we'll be able to buy everything we need at will, as we've grown accustomed to in the past.

What about you, readers?  Are any of you preparing in the same way?  Please let us know what you're doing in Comments, so we can all learn from each other.


Save the Republic - walk away from the oligarchy


The inimitable Prof. Angelo Codevilla, whom we've met in these pages many times before, has written another outstanding analysis of our current political situation, and suggests ways in which the oligarchy currently ruling America can be sidelined and ultimately defeated by simply refusing to engage with it.  Here are some excerpts from a much longer article, which should be read in full to grasp the full dimensions of his argument.

Composing the differences between traditional America and our new woke oligarchy is impossible because their conflict is asymmetric. The American Revolution, the Constitution, and two centuries of custom endow traditionally minded Americans, conservatives and others, with the preference and habit of living as they please and letting others do the same. They understand concepts like virtue, righteousness, and leadership in terms of the duty to live exemplary lives themselves, not to force others to do so. The enlightened oligarchy and its elite servant classes follow Woodrow Wilson’s progressive dogma: “If you will think about what you ought to do for other people, your character will take care of itself.”

By this century’s second decade, the oligarchs who occupy the commanding heights of American life had ceased trying to persuade. Self-government has declined as corporations have wielded public powers with private discretion. America’s ruling class—bipartisan, public and private—grew to disdain the rest of America’s religiosity, patriotism, and tastes. But until our own time, most Americans either had not noticed their loss of status as citizens or assumed that they could vote to regain it. But the rulers inspired no confidence and ruled by pulling rank.

. . .

The ruling class—Wall Street, K Street, Washington grifters, the educational establishment, the media, and the corporations—saw the alienation that Trump embodied as the mortal threat that it is to their own power and positions. Unable and unwilling to change their way of governing, or the system of heavily bureaucratized crony capitalism from which they so massively benefit, these people resolved to secure the votes of Blacks, Hispanics, women, and the young by encouraging them to make war on whites, men, and conservatives. “Hate thy neighbor and stick with us!” was their program. Hence the four-year campaign leading up to the 2020 election was all about hating Trump and beating down his voters on the basis of race, sex, the Russians—anything to divert from what the rampant oligarchy was doing to the rest of the country.

Hate-as-identity was key to the ruling class’s victory in the 2020 election. For the elites, indulging sentiments of moral superiority, promoting hate, and rubbing “deplorable” faces in the dirt is a means to secure and mobilize supporters, which itself is incidental to securing the material benefits of power. For those who deliver the votes, indulging hate is affirmation of identity.

. . .

The [oligarchy's] irrevocable alienation of and from at least half of Americans has canceled much of the oligarchs’ moral legitimacy and left them obliged to rule by further alienating and punishing—to rule a house that they divided against itself ... In the first few months of 2021, it is clear that widespread compliance with institutions and leading personages on which the American system of government has long rested is no longer possible. The oligarchy ... has placed itself beyond the reach of argument. It can neither admit those it deems deplorable to real citizenship— never mind to society’s commanding heights—nor can it set bounds to the next round of exactions and humiliations that, having ditched persuasion, it must visit upon them.

. . .

Some sort of mostly peaceful exodus is within our powers to achieve ... We can withdraw our compliance, go our own way, and build anew.

Separation from our oligarchy requires stripping it of its claims of legitimacy. Their means of control—from making and breaking careers to control of institutional machinery—are daunting. Individuals may be penalized easily. But every bit of this power vanishes in the face of mass resistance. The oligarchy is frightened of this, with good reason. Nor can they stop an exodus by using force, sensing that they might well lose the ensuing civil war.

. . .

The oligarchy’s cancellation of ordinary working people—of those who actively participate in forms of organized religion, and are otherwise attached to the common norms and values that prevailed in America and shaped the civilization in and by which most of us live—signals an alienation deeper than that between citizens of different but friendly nations. Asking how this cultural chasm has come to be detracts from the hard task of understanding its depth and making the best of it. Like married couples who have lost or given up what had united them, trying to work through irreconcilable differences only drives Americans’ domestic quarrels toward more violence.

That is why going one’s own way, while paying no more attention to the woke than is absolutely necessary, should be the agenda of the country party, which in this case includes all of those who still feel an attachment to the ideals of republican citizenship that we once shared in common as Americans.

There's much more at the linkHighly recommended reading.

In my opinion, there's one element lacking in Prof. Codevilla's analysis.  It's that the oligarchy, and/or its representatives, will not allow us to disengage from it without a fight.  In their eyes, there's no such thing as "a right to be left alone".  Instead, they'll try to stick their grubby little fingers into every slice of every pie in America, in an attempt to force us into compliance whether we like it or not.

The answer to such coercion is simple, and more kinetic than intellectual.  If someone insists on sticking a finger into your pie, cut it off.  Make it clear that if you're not left alone, those interfering in your life will pay a price for doing so.  It starts with those trying to enforce the oligarchy's national diktat on the local level.  Shun them.  Refuse to have any dealings with them.  Harass them until they have to move out of your community altogether.  If they keep coming, then use even more kinetic measures against them.  Make their lives unlivable in your area.  If they aren't around, they can't interfere any more.  If they call in outside reinforcements, make their lives miserable, too.  No service in shops, no cooperation from local authorities, no sympathy, no collaboration.  If local politicians and officials won't adhere to that policy, kick them out of office as soon as possible and elect those who'll do the will of the people.  "All politics is local", remember?

(If you were wondering why the oligarchs and their pet politicians are trying to neutralize the Second Amendment and disarm Americans, that's why.  They know that an armed citizenry can't be intimidated - instead, they'll fight back.  That's why so many so-called "blue states" and "blue cities" have already made it as difficult as possible to own and/or carry a firearm.  By contrast, the "red states" welcome both.  Vote with your feet, and make sure you move to an area where your right to self-defense is respected and upheld - otherwise you might find yourself in the situation that one Salem, OR motorist encountered yesterday, as I reported earlier this morning.)

If the oligarchs find themselves ignored, and and their orders disregarded, as they sit in their self-constructed ivory towers, they might learn something and back off.  If they don't, they'll fall in due course, along with their ivory towers.  That's something history confirms in every age.  Those rulers - elected, appointed, or self-appointed - who lose touch with their people will fall, sooner or later.  In our case, let's make it as soon as possible.  In an age of instant communication, where we're no longer dependent on "authorized" media or systems to understand what's going on, that should be faster and easier than it has been in the past.

Make no mistake - we will have to organize to achieve our objective, and take back our Republic.  I'll give Max Morton the last word.

Somehow, America ended up with a ruling class. A government instituted by and for the people now considers the people its most dangerous enemy. Ruling elite, a term that was used derisively a few decades ago to describe the small self-important coastal aristocracy is now accepted to define a large wealthy class of robber barons and their loyal government apparatchiks. If the American citizen is to regain control of his country, this class distinction has to go the way of the segregated lunch counters at Woolworth’s and “let them eat cake” French queens.

If we want to disband the ruling class and restore America to a constitutional republic, if we want to have a functioning representative government, for the people, and by the people, then we have to do it ourselves. No politician or political party will do this for us. 

At this moment we are the weaker side in this asymmetric struggle. Right now, we are 80 million couch potatoes and keyboard warriors with rifles in our bedroom closets. This is not a force to be reckoned with. And the ruling elite know it because they control the information flow and own the power institutions. Traditional Americans will have to organize and band together to help each other and fight in this struggle. When we become 80 million strong, organized citizens with a tangible agenda, when we know where we want to go and what we want this country to look like, and when we can see the path to achieve this, only then will we become the lions we need to be to achieve victory.

Amen to that!  Go read the whole thing.  It's true.


Monday, March 29, 2021

Tucker Carlson debunks the drive to demonize "assault weapons"


In a pithy five-minute segment, Tucker Carlson points out the fallacies and lies of the anti-gun drive currently under way in Congress, pushed by the Biden administration.  Pay particular attention to the actual crime figures he discusses from 2m.33s. onwards.

That's the way it is - but you'd never know it, to listen to most politicians or to read or watch the mainstream news media.  They're all "being economical with the truth", to put it mildly.

I strongly suggest that if you have anti-gun friends or relatives, it might be a good thing to encourage them to watch Tucker Carlson's segment.  Many of them won't - they don't want to be confused with the facts.  Nevertheless, it might make the more honest and approachable of them think twice about their position.


Memes that made me laugh 51


Gathered from the Internet over the past week.  Click any image for a larger view.

More next week.


Yet again, police act against someone defending himself


Last year, I wrote two articles outlining the danger of defending oneself in an environment where law enforcement and prosecution authorities were actively biased against legitimate self-defense, and in favor of left-wing protesters, demonstrators and rioters.  They were:

In so many words, I emphasized that one would have to be as discreet as possible in defending oneself, because the authorities in such areas would be motivated to act in support of the true guilty parties, rather than help the true victims.

Now comes this news from Salem, Oregon.  Click the image for a larger view, and follow the link to watch the video.

I'm not going to argue the legalities of the situation under the law as it pertains to Salem.  I don't know all the ramifications of Oregon law, or of Salem's city regulations and ordinances.  They may prohibit the carry and/or use of firearms for self-defense, or impose a duty to retreat, or whatever.  I'll simply point out that the driver was unquestionably defending his property and himself in that situation - yet he ended up being arrested, while the rioters who deliberately damaged his property seemingly got off scot-free.

Is that justice?  Hell, no, it isn't!  Nevertheless, it was the reality of the situation on the streets of Salem yesterday - and in many other jurisdictions right now, such as Portland, OR;  Seattle, WA;  Minneapolis, MN;  and far too many others.  If you openly defend yourself, you're more likely to be arrested than your attackers, because the authorities want locals to be cowed into submission.  They don't want individuals acting for themselves.  They want subjects, not citizens.

I think most readers of this blog will join me in a hearty one-finger salute to such authorities.  Fortunately, I live in an area where I'm likely to receive the support of law enforcement when I act in accordance with its precepts;  but many of my readers are not.  To them, I can only suggest re-reading my two earlier articles linked above, and planning accordingly.  If the driver of that pickup had not been there, he wouldn't have had to defend himself, and would have avoided all the subsequent fuss and bother.  Plan ahead, know where trouble is more likely, and avoid such areas like the plague.  It can pay dividends.

In such jurisdictions, if you have no choice but to act, try to do so as discreetly as possible, so as not to draw unwanted official attention to yourself.  On the other hand, if you simply have to act because you have no other choice, you may as well do so as strongly as necessary, because you know you're for the legal high jump anyway.  "In for a penny, in for a pound", as the old English idiom goes.  If I knew my attackers were going to be protected by the law, while I would be demonized, what would I have to lose?

It's very sad that I have to give such advice . . . but that's the reality on far too many of our streets at present.  In too many towns and cities, we can no longer trust law enforcement and the judicial system to be on the side of the law-abiding.  Political correctness has trumped justice.

As Miguel comments:

Maybe defunding the police is not such a bad idea. If they are going to be Antifa’s bitches. they should get their funding from them and stop milking the taxpayer.


Sunday, March 28, 2021

Sunday morning music


As the British comedy movie was titled, "And now for something completely different!"

I happened to be talking online with a friend when it emerged that he'd never heard or seen any of the "music" video clips out there, showing people shooting guns at musical gongs to reproduce the sound of popular songs.  Well, we can't have that, can we?

First off, here's Vitaly Kryuchin from Moscow doing his thing.

Next, Jim Huish and his brother Joe perform The Cup Song from Pitch Perfect and Pitch Perfect 2.

The two (and some friends) set up a drum/gun kit for "Uptown Funk with Guns".

The duo team up with Nashville singer Brittany Blaire to perform "Heartbeat Song / The Middle".

We'll give the last two slots to Black Rifle Coffee Company, who've produced a number of zany and highly entertaining videos as part of their marketing campaign.  Here's "Christmas Songs on Steel".

And finally, their "Star Spangled Steel".

I've heard of percussion musical instruments, but never a percussion cap instrument!  Oh, well . . .  I'm sure there are more videos like that out there.  If you know any good ones, please let us know about them in Comments.


Saturday, March 27, 2021

Saturday Snippet: "An elephant is better than a tractor"


We've met the late explorer and adventurer Tim Severin in these pages several times before.  Today, I'd like to bring you an excerpt from my favorite among all his books, "The Sindbad Voyage".

The blurb reads:


Perhaps the greatest fictional sailor of them all.

But could his amazing voyages, recounted in the The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, be recreated in the modern world?

Or were they just the stuff of legend?

Tim Severin was determined to find out.

After three years of research, he created a precise replica of an early Arab trading ship. Not a single nail was used in her construction - her planks were held together with 400 miles of coconut cord.

With a crew of twenty, including eight Omani sailors, his ship Sohar (named after the town said to have been Sindbad’s birthplace) completed a 6,000 mile journey by way of India, Sri Lanka, and across the Indian Ocean to Sumatra and Singapore, and finally through the China Sea to a tumultuous welcome in Canton.

Along the way, the crew had to swim among sharks while repairing the rudder, catch rainwater to drink while becalmed in the doldrums, and endure the battering of violent seas off the coast of Vietnam.

'The Sindbad Voyage' is the remarkable story of that amazing journey. An enthralling saga of the 7 ½ month voyage, it is one of the most memorable sailing stories of modern times.

It's an enthralling story, not just in its account of the voyage, but in the enormous logistical difficulties Severin had to deal with in sourcing the materials for the ship, and building her in traditional Arab style.  Here's how Severin found the wood and other materials for his vessel.

Today Calicut's merchant community, which caters to the Arab trade, has withered to just two merchant houses - the Baramys and the Koyas. The two families occupy almost identical houses strategically situated on the beach which overlooks the anchorage. Each house is a large, low bungalow. Behind it are a courtyard and various sheds in which lie boxes of ship's nails, coils of rope, tins of clarified butter, mysterious packing cases, and a jumble of homemade anchors. The focus of life is the long, elegant veranda. Here at all hours of the day, but especially at the time of sunset prayers, can be found a sprinkling of Arab merchants, taking their ease on benches and cane chairs, sipping cups of tea or coffee, and gazing out over the roadstead, where the waves of the Arabian Sea crash and rumble on the beach, and an occasional beggar sidles up to the railings to seek alms in the name of Allah.

The head of each trading house, Baramy or Koya, is a man of considerable standing in the Calicut community. He virtually controls all the contact between the Arabs and their suppliers of timber, spice and trade goods. Abdul Kader Baramy, whom we went to see, had all the world-weariness of a harassed international business executive. He had seven brothers - a sure sign of Allah's favour- but in the tradition of such enterprises, nothing could be done without his consent. His brothers, all in identical smart white robes, were strategically scattered: one ran the Baramy shipyard ten miles down the coast at Beypore, where they built modern motor dhows for the Arabs. Another travelled regularly to the Gulf to visit Arab clients. A third might be sent off to negotiate with the civil servants in Delhi. The others were kept on hand, hovering expectantly to run errands.

Abdul Kader himself knew as much about the timber trade and boatbuilding as any man on the Malabar coast. He was distinctly pessimistic about our chances. It would be extremely difficult to find teak logs of the large size we were looking for, and impossible in the time available. Moreover, the Indian government had banned the export of teak: Abdul Kader produced a government notice which carefully listed a whole range of hardwoods, including teak, which could not be sent out of the country as unworked timber. As for constructing a sewn ship, he had heard of such vessels, but it was out of the question to build one nowadays. The men who knew such work, the shipwrights in rope, simply did not exist any longer. Abdul Kader recommended that we drop the idea of a sewn ship, and of building it in Oman. He could build us a nailed ship in India, and it would be ready in a year's time. Of course we were free to keep on looking for timber, but he held little hope for us.

It was a disappointment, but not a final one. The previous year, while on a trip to India to look at Indian traditional ships, I had found my way to a small creek north of Mangalore in the State of Karnataka. It was an isolated, sad place, a graveyard for ships that were hauled up on the mud in retirement. What had rewarded my visit was the fact that three of the beached vessels were sewn ships, fastened together exactly like the boats I had seen on the beaches of Oman. The timber of these ships was not teak, but a very similar wood called aini.

I looked into the characteristics of aini. The tree is a cousin to the breadfruit, and the timber can be used for fine housebuilding, for doors and window frames - and for ships. Technically it is virtually identical to teak - it has very nearly the same strength, density and weight. It grows to a good size, and is easily worked, but it has a major drawback: it tends to split if nails are driven into it. But of course I was not intending to nail my ship together - I was building a sewn ship, and this was precisely why Indian sewn ships were often built of aini. I also chanced on the fact that aini contains a very high proportion of lime in its fibres, which makes the timber difficult to paint because the lime burns away the paint. For a ship, however, the lime in the timber may actually help discourage attacks by teredo shipworms. Indian shipwrights told me that aini lasted far longer in water even than teak. To make aini even more attractive, it was only about half the price of best teak. But the deciding factor which made me select aini for the replica ship was that the Indian government had omitted it from the list of banned exports - Abdul Kader Baramy carefully scrutinized the entire inventory of timbers the government had forbidden for export. The list included nearly every hardwood, but by an oversight, or because it was an obscure timber, the Indian authorities had failed to ban the export of aini.

Encouraged, my companions and I found the timber we were looking for in the hills behind Cochin. There, fine stands of aini were being felled for logs by Indian timber merchants. Our arrival in the hills caused a sensation. On the one hand the timber merchants joyfully anticipated making huge profits from any Arab customer; but on the other hand they were totally unused to their customers coming up into the hills and tramping around the forests, measuring trees, banging the logs enthusiastically with a hammer to try to detect hidden flaws by the sounds of the reverberations, and chatting with the foresters. Hoodaid, Sheikh Said and Dharamsey had to go back to Oman, but I stayed on in the forests, determined to find the very best logs for my ship, and also to receive an education in the tricks of the timber trade.

By reputation the timber dealers of India are the biggest rogues in the country, and in a curious way they are almost proud of their fame. I was warned never to take anything on trust, to check every log for faults, and to make sure that the logs I bought were actually the same logs which reached the sawmill and were not substituted on the way, and so forth. To my secret delight I discovered that the timber merchant I was dealing with was steeped in the rules of the game. On the very first day, at his office on the edge of the forests, I produced my own brand-new tape measure, with which I intended to check the measurements of every log. The tape measure was still in its box, and the timber merchant asked to look at it, expressing admiration. Five minutes later I noticed that the tape measure had vanished. I made an excuse, left his office, and went round the back of the building. There I found the timber merchant's foreman carefully laying out my tape measure on the ground so he could check that its markings matched those on his own tape. It seemed that the merchant suspected me of bringing along a fake, specially marked tape measure of my own in order to cheat him!

The excursions into the forests were great fun. I enjoyed homing in on the ringing blows of the axes of the woodsmen as we pushed our way through the undergrowth, or hearing the huge, rending crash as a large tree toppled and fell. Then, for a moment, the whole forest went silent except for the eerie pattering sounds of hundreds upon hundreds of twigs and leaves raining to the ground, tom adrift by the giant's fall.

I spent hours watching the elephants at work as they tugged the logs out of the forest and down to the logging paths. The intelligence and grace of the huge animals never ceased to amaze me. An elephant would move up to the fallen log with almost catlike grace, and wait with its ears fanning steadily back and forth while the axemen stripped the larger branches and cut a hole in the butt of the log for the hauling chain. Then, nudged by the heels of its driver, the elephant would move deliberately into position. The trunk would reach out, curl round to pick up the chain, and tuck the fat, soft end-rope into the great jaws. Then the elephant's massive feet would shuffle into a good hauling position. The trunk slid back down the chain like a black python and wrapped itself around the links in order to hold the chain at just the right angle. Then the elephant would lean back to put its whole weight into the heave. Charmingly, just before the animal gave a mighty tug, it would screw up its eyes tight shut, just like a child. Then with one smooth jerk of its whole body the log was sent skidding ten yards through the mud. A few ponderous moments later, and the elephant was at a different angle to the log. Another jerk of the chain, and the log was angling down between the obstructions and roots to land on the roadway in front of us.

'Elephants are very costly,' murmured the timber merchant, who was standing prudently clear of the great beast and obviously saw no romance in its performance. 'I must hire them by the hour from the elephant hire company, and so much time is spent washing them. They must be bathed three times each day, or their skins will trouble them, and they will not work. Also I must pay their food. But,' and here he brightened up, 'I am just purchasing my own elephant, and it will work for many, many years. If it does not get sick and die, maybe it will be working too for my sons. An elephant is better than a tractor. I have looked into this matter. Tractors cannot work on such steep slopes, and in the forest there is no one to look after the engines. Also spare parts are very difficult. Yes, an elephant is better.'

Eventually I came to be quite fond of Mr Sunny, the timber merchant, as he made a valiant effort to keep up with his eccentric customer. He would accompany me on each of my timber-buying trips, bouncing along in an ancient car which squelched up the muddy tracks. His courage only failed in the late evening, when after dark I insisted on visiting the log parks to try to pick out a few more fine pieces of timber.

As I scrambled out of the car on to the squelching mud, and the rain rattled down, Mr Sunny would wind down the window, hand me a torch, and call out mournfully as I disappeared: 'Be careful for snakes. You will see many poisonous snakes. They come out after darkness, looking for frogs ... cobra, krait, viper ... there are many types of viper, and over two hundred species of snake in India.' But despite much stumbling and slipping in the darkness I never saw a single snake.

I carried a shopping list for my timber, an inventory of every plank, beam and frame, its size and curve. The list was worked out from the technical drawings of a replica boom which had been produced by Colin Mudie, the brilliant naval architect who had also prepared the lines plans for Brendan. I had complete confidence in Colin, and he had begun by making a preliminary set of lines plans based on the shape of surviving booms and the historical data that I had been able to glean from the early texts. Then I showed a scale model of this preliminary version of the replica to the Omani dhow-builders at Sur, and obtained their suggestions for modifications, which Colin had incorporated in his final drawings.

All agreed that the keel of the ship was the key to its construction. The keel of a boom is long, straight and massive; it is the very backbone of the vessel, and its dimensions dictate the remainder of the ship, for an Arab shipwright builds mathematically. Once the keel is laid, every other timber relates to it at a particular angle or size, so that if one tells an Arab shipwright the type of vessel - boom or sambuk or whatever - and the length of its keel, he will know exactly the final size and shape of the finished ship. Where European shipwrights measure the size of a vessel by its length overall or on the waterline, the Arab shipbuilder calculates a ship by the length of its keel.

The problem was that the keel piece to my replica needed to be 52 feet long, 12 inches by 15 inches in cross-section, and dead straight. Also Colin wanted it to be cut from a single baulk of wood, which meant a superb log, of a size in hardwood virtually unobtainable in Europe. Even the Indian timbermen shook their heads in astonishment when they heard that I was looking for such a log, but in the end my persistent search was rewarded. In July I found the great tree that would provide the keel of my ship. It was a magnificent tree, owned by a family who had tended it for half a century, trimming away the lower branches so that the main trunk kept pushing upward. What is more, the family had a daughter who was about to get married, and they were willing to sell the tree to find her dowry.

I bought the tree where it stood. A forester shinned up it to attach a rope that would guide its fall, two axemen came forward, and within two hours the giant had been cut down. The branches and bark were stripped away to reveal the characteristic banana-yellow colour of fresh-cut aini, which would change to a dark reddish brown in the next few weeks. The timber, I had been assured, did not need to be seasoned. Fresh aini could be used for boatbuilding.

It needed two elephants to manoeuvre the great log down to the road. There it was put on tresses, and cut square by two men working a huge double-handed pit saw. One man stood on the log, while his partner crouched underneath on his knees to pull down the blade, showered by the rain of damp sawdust. It took four days of solid labour to trim the log, but at last it was ready, and with two extra feet in length to spare. It was loaded on a lorry and, accompanied by an elephant to manoeuvre it around the hairpin bends, the keel piece began its journey down to the coast.

By now my visits to India had produced for me a small, permanent entourage. This was the nature of the country: I was discouraged from being too self-sufficient, and my presence was a chance to create jobs for other people. Thus I found I needed a driver who knew the roads and could look after the car; a carpenter who would talk with the foresters about timber; and an interpreter-cum-assistant who could make all the thousand and one arrangements, from finding overnight accommodation to calculating the correct amount for bribes. For instance between Cochin and Goa, the stretch of coast where I was hunting for materials, at least four different languages were spoken by the local villagers, and my quest was constantly taking me into small hamlets and quiet backwaters where strangers were rare, and foreigners unknown. So my interpreter had to be versatile - and he was.

He came with a letter of introduction from an Indian marine biologist who had encountered him while collecting marine samples on the remote coral islands of Minicoy some 220 miles off the Indian coast. 'He is a man in a million,' announced the letter. 'He can speak fourteen languages, and will follow up any subject that interests him.' Man in a Million, as I tended to think of him from that moment onward, lived up to his recommendation. His real name was Ali Manikfan, and he was the son of the last headman of Minicoy Island. Now he lived on the mainland, having found the island too restrictive for his talents. He had a well-honed sense of his own dignity and abilities, and could be very haughty towards other Indians, but at a pinch he could cook and sew, sail a boat, mend an engine, or make up a book of accounts. From his marine collecting days he knew the Latin name of every fish and shell on his islands, and spoke a certain amount of classical Arabic, because like all the Minicoy islanders he was a Moslem and had studied at the Koranic school. He also shared with Dharamsey Nensey the ability to travel light. Every time I arrived in India Ali would be there to meet me, smiling broadly under the little white cap perched on his head, and holding a small briefcase which was his only luggage.

The men of Minicoy have an excellent reputation all along the Malabar coast. Living in isolation on their island, which is only 40 miles square, they have developed a remarkable self-reliant culture. Every man is expected to be able to look after himself, to fish and tend the coconut trees, build his own house, cook and swim, and work as a member of a team. Minicoy men are also said to be the best seamen in India, and were the original Lascars who, for generations, have signed on as deck hands with foreign ships. Often they served long years abroad before returning to their island home. Even in the huge, pullulating port of Bombay the men of Minicoy were renowned: almost exclusively they staff the boats of the Bombay Pilot Service, and it is said that not only are the Bombay pilot launches the smartest, best handled boats in the whole of the port, but whatever happens, in foul weather or emergency, the Minicoy men keep their boats on station. Moreover, in perhaps the most remarkable claim of all, it was said that in Bombay's labour-troubled port the Minicoy men never go on strike.

Minicoy is one of a group of islands where medieval Arab ships picked up the coconut rope used for shipbuilding, and until this century the only export from the Laccadives was coir, the rope made from coconut husks. So it seemed logical for me to try to obtain coconut rope for my replica sewn ship from the same source as the Arabs. But the Indian government restricts foreigners from visiting the Laccadive Islands on the grounds that intruders would disturb the fragile native culture. This was where Ali Manikfan was doubly important: he could put me in touch with Laccadive Islanders when they came to the mainland on rare visits to buy rice, cigarettes and provisions.

The key islander I ambushed on such a visit was a genial rogue from Agatti Island named Kunhikoya. Quick-witted, active, and with an engaging grin, he was a likeable scoundrel. Kunhikoya also possessed an encyclopaedic knowledge of the coconut rope trade and had done a bit of sewn boatbuilding himself. He told me that what I needed for shipbuilding was a very special quality of coconut rope. It had to be hand rolled from the best-quality coconut husks. These husks had to be soaked, or retted, in sea water to loosen the fibres. Most coconut fibre is retted in fresh or brackish water, said Kunhikoya, and this type of fibre was useless for my purposes - it was not strong enough for a ship. After retting in sea water, the coconut husks had to be dried in the sun, then pounded with wooden clubs on wooden blocks to loosen the powder. If metal hammers were used for the pounding, the fibres would be crushed and damaged and the rope would again be too weak. After that, the fibre should be twisted by hand into string. If twisted by machine, the threads would be too feeble.

Kunhikoya announced that I would need about fifteen hundred bundles of coconut string to build the ship I needed. I calculated the total length, and it came to four hundred miles! This seemed a colossal amount, but events proved Kunhikoya right.

With his help, Ali and I tried at first to buy good-quality coconut string in the little villages hidden along the backwaters of the Malabar Coast. It was highly entertaining to watch the two islanders at work. They were experts. They knew exactly what they were looking for, and they also knew most of the ruses which would be used to trick them. Offered a sample piece of coconut twine, Kunhikoya would grimace theatrically, take the sample between his hands and with a quick twist of his wrist would unravel the spiral of string. Then, with a seemingly effortless flick, he snapped the string like a cotton thread, and let the two broken ends drop to the ground with an expression of total disgust. Of course there was a trick to the way of snapping a piece of thread, but Kunhikoya was such a good actor - and he had immensely strong forearms - that he could make even the strongest twine look fragile. Nor would he accept the vendor's protestations that the twine had been retted in salt water. Snatching up a sample he would stuff it into his mouth like spaghetti and chew on it, trying to detect the characteristic salty flavour of seawater-prepared coir. Not finding it, he would turn to me, and offer me a sample to taste. Reluctant to spoil the pantomime, I too would munch solemnly on the coconut rope, trying not to think of the stagnant ooze of the fetid backwaters where the coconuts were retted.

Eventually I had to accept that the only place I could get proper seawater-prepared coconut string was the Laccadive Islands themselves, via Kunhikoya as my agent. I was not altogether surprised to discover four months later, when the bundles were delivered and Kunhikoya was safely many miles away, that Kunhikoya had included some machine-made string in the consignment. But it was worth it: in India Kunhikoya had saved me from far greater swindles.

Some of the items he said I would need for the construction of a sewn vessel were truly bizarre. There were the husks of 10,000 coconuts to be used as a kind of wadding, two particular thicknesses of string, and forty bundles of a curious knobbly wood from the islands which I suspected was mangrove root. This wood was immensely strong and hard, and Kunhikoya said it would be used for the levers which the ropeworkers would need when they were tightening up the lashings of the ship. There was also a quarter ton of a tree gum called chundruz, a natural resin which is more usually employed for making cheap incense. The boatbuilders would use it as a type of shellac, painting it between the planks. To select his chundruz, Kunhikoya would take a handful of the granules of resin, and set them alight in order to see how they burned. It took almost a day of these fiery tests before he was satisfied with the selection of the chundruz but, alas, our efforts were in vain. We bought six large sacks of chundruz, sealed them, marked them, and stored them in a bonded warehouse. But when the sacks reached Oman and we opened them, we found that two-thirds were filled with pebbles: we had been victims of the notorious 'substitution'.

Kunhikoya also wanted half a dozen barrels of fish oil, which was to be mixed with melted sugar and painted on the outside of the completed hull. The oil came from tiny fish which were boiled down in vats near Mangalore and the grease skimmed off. The stench of the oil was indescribable. Next there was half a ton of lime to be plastered to the underwater surfaces of the ship as a form of anti-fouling. To obtain the lime, we went to a lime burner near the fish oil vats. It was like a scene from Hell. A long file of women carried buckets of seashells on their heads to dump them in a heap outside a long, low hut, which had smoke billowing up through the thatched roof. Inside a very old man, a mere skeleton, pedalled a wheel to force air into the charcoal fired tubs of burning shells. More gaunt men, with cloths bound around their heads, stirred the tubs with long wooden spades. Two children staggered back and forth in the choking heat to dump more shells into the tubs. Every worker dripped with sweat, coughed whenever the wind changed, and was red-eyed with the acrid fumes, all for a subsistence wage.

Item by item, we assembled the ingredients in Kunhikoya's recipe for building a stitched vessel: six augers; soft iron chisels for wood cutting; a hank of flax rope, purpose unknown; four large crowbars; two sledge hammers; an old-fashioned beam balance scale; several large boxes of assorted tools. The only items I was utterly unable to find were the tails of six stingray fish.

'What do you want those for?' I asked Kunhikoya.

'For making the holes in the planks when they are drilled for stitching.'

'But what do you actually do with the rays' tails?'

'We use them for making the holes smooth so they do not cut the rope.'

I realized what he meant. The Laccadive islanders were so isolated that they used the rough tails of rayfish instead of wood rasps. Relieved, I explained to Kunhikoya that I could get metal files to do the same job.

Kunhikoya's final triumph, and his ultimate disaster, came when we went back to Beypore to purchase the masts and spars for the ship. Now we were looking for a very special timber which the Indians call poon. Like a tremendous spearshaft, a mature poon tree sometimes rises 50 feet before it puts out a single branch. For centuries seamen have known that poon makes superb masts and spars. Indeed the Royal Navy used to send agents to India to purchase what the Royal Navy called 'poonspars' for its sailing vessels. The poon grows, not in stands like aini, but usually as an isolated tree difficult of access.

Today such trees are chopped up to go to plywood factories, but at Beypore logs are still floated down river and held in the shallows for the occasional Indian sailing craft that may require them. Along the river bank lie rafts of poon logs, half submerged like soggy crocodiles in the backwaters. The water itself is putrid, foul with slime and rotting vegetation and the sewage of the upriver settlements. On a hot day the smell is gagging, and hangs like a miasma over the backwaters, but the stench did not deter Kunhikoya. He was at his most cheeky that morning, skipping from log to log like a squirrel, followed by the foreman of the timber yard, clutching the skirt of his loincloth to prevent it being soiled in the disgusting water.

Kunhikoya was brandishing a little hatchet, and whenever he came to a possible log he chopped out a small piece from the timber so as to inspect the inner surface. The foreman's assistant carried the measuring tape because the spars would be sold by length, and fortunately I remembered my last experience and asked to inspect the tape. Sure enough, the first 3 feet of the tape was missing, so I would have been buying a non-existent yard of timber every time. The foreman was quite unabashed: the end of the tape had rotted away in the damp conditions, he explained. But I also noted that he had another cunning technique. As we stood on a floating log to inspect a flaw, the foreman would spin the log under his bare feet so I had to dance about like an acrobat to avoid falling into the foul soup of the river, and was distracted from looking too closely at the quality of the logs.

By lunchtime we had found the spars we were looking for, marked them with Kunhikoya's hatchet, and bought them. All we lacked was a log for the main mast. The rest of that day we hunted, nosing around the sawmills and the holding yards until finally, on the beach itself late that night, we came across the perfect log, 65 feet long and tapering to exactly the right dimensions: it would scarcely need to be trimmed to make the main mast of my ship. Jubilandy Kunhikoya ran up and down the log, banging it with his hatchet to produce solid thumps that showed the timber was perfect. It was so late in the evening that even the timber sellers had gone home. So Ali and I crouched by the butt end of the log while Kunhikoya struck matches so we could copy down the reference mark which the timber merchant cuts into every important log he owns.

 Just as we were making our notes there was a terrific commotion, and a mob of angry Indians came charging up the beach at us. There were shouts of rage and menacing gestures, and some were waving sticks threateningly. I wondered what on earth we had done wrong, what local custom had we offended? It was a very ugly scene. The mob swept up to us. Screaming and yelling they pounced on Kunhikoya, ignoring Ali and myself. Then the mob dragged Kunhikoya away, haranguing him and threatening him with violence. To my surprise Ali was shaking with laughter.

'What's he done wrong? What's the matter?' I asked. 'Will he be all right?'

Ali grinned in pleasure. 'Oh, he will be all right,' he replied. 'Someone has recognized Kunhikoya. Those men are relatives of his wife. He married her in Calicut, and then ran away. He hasn't been seen since. Now the wife's brothers and cousins are taking him back to his wife. He will have to go before the judge - he will have to pay dearly for all the time he has been away.'

The rest of the tale is just as interesting, if not more so.  As I said earlier, it's my favorite of all Tim Severin's books, and I recommend it very highly.  It's sad to think that with his recent death, there will be no more of them.

If you'd like to learn more about the voyage before reading the book, the Aramco World magazine's issue of September/October 1981, Vol. 32 No. 5, contained a lengthy article about it.  (Aramco, a Saudi Arabian company, was one of the sponsors of the Sindbad Voyage.)