Friday, April 30, 2021

Of optics, exit pupil size and the real world


I had an interesting discussion with an acquaintance recently concerning binoculars, telescopic sights for rifles, and how his (and my) aging eyes affected our ability to make the best use of our optics.  He'd never gone into the notion of "exit pupil" size, and wasn't aware of how it should condition our optics choices:  so I thought some of my readers might benefit from a brief discussion.

I'm not going to try to define the "exit pupil" here, because there's an article that's done a far better job of it than I can.  Please click over to "Exit Pupil – The Complete Guide" and read it.  When you're done, come back here and we'll continue.

The human eye's pupil will widen or contract depending on light conditions.  The eye's ability to do this will also be affected by age.  Wikipedia provides this chart of how age affects our pupil size:

For a more in-depth discussion of age and pupil size, see here.

If one chooses an optical instrument (binoculars, telescope, telescopic sight, etc.) that provides an exit pupil as wide as one's own pupil, that'll give the best light perception and focus for our eyes.  Wider than that, and we won't be able to take advantage of it;  narrower than that, and we'll not be able to use our eyes' full capability to see whatever it is that we're looking at.

I'm in my sixties, so my vision at dusk and dawn is less "bright" than it should be.  For that reason, I prefer lower-magnification optics with an exit pupil that maximizes my ability to see in low light.  My current favorite pair of binoculars is this Vanguard 8x42 model:

Its exit pupil of 5.25 mean that my older eyes are getting as much light as they can profitably use, and the very sharp glass provides clarity and definition.  If I go to a 10x42 model, the exit pupil would drop to 4.2, a reduction of almost one-fifth.  I've done that comparison outdoors in low light, and I can notice the difference in light transmission to my eyes with the higher-magnification model.  By selecting the 8x42 unit, I've optimized the exit pupil size of my binoculars to the physical capabilities of my eyes at my age.

In the same way, I'm currently re-evaluating my choice of telescopic sights on rifles equipped with them.  Here, exit pupil isn't the only criterion.  For example, I used to like Weaver Classic 1-3x scopes (shown below) for short- to medium-range brush hunting.

Their exit pupil is fine:  at 3x magnification, it's 6.67.  However, their tube doesn't have an expanded "bell" at the front to gather the maximum possible light, as most larger scopes do.  As my eyes deteriorate with age, I want as much light as possible in the field.  A good-quality 2-7x32 or 3-9x40 scope offers a much wider front lens (32mm or 40mm respectively, instead of 20mm), admitting more light.  If I adjust the power to maximize the usable exit pupil for my eyes (respectively, up to about 6x or 8x), they're a lot brighter for me.  I usually use lower power settings than that, because in shorter-range brush hunting you don't need high magnification.  One could also go to a bigger scope tube;  30mm diameter instead of the conventional 1", or even wider.  That's become the norm in so-called "sniper scopes".

I hope this helps those of you thinking about buying binoculars or telescopic sights.


Missing the point about inflation - reality versus political correctness


A couple of days ago, I wrote an article titled "Inflation: Read the signs all around you, or risk being overwhelmed".  One reader commented:

You've been predicting that MASSIVE inflation is coming SOON for the last decade. How are things different now? What does Hal Lindsey say?

I replied:

Please see the linked articles above, and examine your own grocery bills over the past couple of years.

I rest my case.

His comment bothers me.  The inflation that so many (including myself) have been predicting for so long IS ALREADY HERE - yet people appear blind to it.  They claim that because the warped, twisted, "massaged" official inflation rate isn't changing much, that inflation isn't a major problem.  They ignore the reality that the official rate of inflation isn't worth the paper it's printed on.  It deliberately skews its analysis to favor the lowest possible rate, leaving out so many major factors that it's basically meaningless.

To take just one example, let's look at housing price/cost inflation.  The official inflation rate is far below the actual numbers found by those buying and selling homes.  Wolf Richter pointed out last Tuesday:

House prices soared by 12.0% from a year ago, the biggest increase since February 2006, near the peak of Housing Bubble 1 ... The Case-Shiller Index compares the sales price of a house in the current month to the price of the same house when it sold previously. This “sales pairs method” tracks the amount of dollars it takes to buy the same house over time. Home improvements are included in the methodology. This makes the index the most appropriate measure of house price inflation in the US.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI), on the other hand, tracks the housing inflation component based on rents. The CPI for “Owner’s equivalent rent of residence,” weighing about 25% of the overall CPI, is based on homeowners’ estimates about how much their home would rent for, which ticked up 2.0% from a year ago (green line), compared to house price inflation as measured by the Case-Shiller index (red line):

There's more at the link.

So . . . a 12% increase in housing prices, according to Case-Shiller, versus a 2% increase according to the CPI.  The former's figure is six times higher than the latter's.  Guess who's right?  If you guessed "the CPI", you're living in cloud cuckoo land.  Official figures bear little or no relation to the reality facing homebuyers and -sellers right now:  yet the official rate of inflation blithely ignores that reality.  The same applies to vehicle prices, as we discussed recently.  To put it as simply as possible, the official rate of inflation is completely untrustworthy, and is manipulated to give the most favorable result to the government for its purposes - not to convey facts and economic reality to the consumer.

We've also noted that inflation in the USA at this time is overwhelmingly a currency problem.  We're printing new money like there's no tomorrow, and it's devaluing the existing dollars in everyone's pockets.  I put up a video clip on Wednesday of Peter Schiff discussing this issue, and I'm going to repeat it here.  It's less than two minutes long, but encapsulates the reality of our situation.  If you haven't already watched it, please do so now.  It's important.

Now comes an article from the Foundation for Economic Education titled "Why Your Grocery Bills Are Going Up (And Are Only Expected to Get Bigger)".  The trouble is, the article relies on official inflation figures, and completely ignores the reality that those figures are concocted, manipulated, and entirely untrustworthy.  Apart from that little problem, it's a fine article.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, food prices jumped 3.9 percent in 2020, nearly triple the rate of inflation.

Unfortunately, this trend seems poised to continue. The US Department of Agriculture estimates grocery bills could increase by another 3 percent in 2021, while some experts are betting on even longer-term problems.

“I think food prices are going to continue to increase for probably a good year, year and a half,” warns Phil Lempert, founder of

Shoppers are already feeling the crunch. Long Island resident John Kermaj recently told NBC News, “We used to buy this stuff for $30. Now it's $60.”

Again, more at the link.

Note the disconnect.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics (which calculates the "official" CPI) says food prices rose by just 3.9% last year.  A shopper, who counts the dollars leaving his wallet every time he goes to the supermarket, says prices have doubled (although he doesn't say over what period of time).  Who do you believe?  I can tell you right now, based on the contents (or lack thereof) of my own wallet, that the shopper is a darn sight closer to reality than the BLS statisticians.  In fact, if BLS dropped the "L" from its acronym, it'd become a lot more appropriate description of the statistics it produces!

Anyone who trusts the official CPI figures is ignoring reality.  The facts on the ground have long since overtaken the statisticians, who've been instructed to gloss over that reality and make things look good for the government (which wants to restrict legally mandated cost-of-living increases to programs such as Social Security, welfare, pensions, etc.).

Those who ask, "Where is the inflation you've been forecasting?", are ignoring the reality outside their front doors.  I'll be very surprised if the actual overall rate of inflation this year is less than 10%:  in some significant areas of the economy, it may approach or even exceed 20%.  Just look at how fuel prices have risen since the Biden administration took office.  Fuel affects the price of everything that's transported using it - and its cost has skyrocketed since January.  That's just one example.  I provided several others earlier this week.  Follow the links there for more examples, and see for yourself.

The danger of out-of-control inflation is very real right now, because the Biden administration wants to spend trillions of dollars that don't exist on programs that it deems politically necessary.  Add those new trillions of dollars to the trillions already conjured up out of nowhere over the past few years (particularly in COVID-19 relief measures) and the picture is gloomy indeed.  As we noted earlier this year, "The US government, over the past year, printed or electronically created over 40% of all the dollars that have ever existed."

Refer to Peter Schiff's video clip above.  We're undermining the value of our own currency, and sooner or later our trading partners are going to re-value it a whole lot lower than it is now.  When that happens, the price of everything we buy from them (because we have to - we're no longer producing it ourselves) will shoot up, because it'll take a lot more dollars to buy it than it does at present.  Voila - inflation, even perhaps hyperinflation.  It's by no means impossible.  (Read the linked article in the light of what Peter Schiff says above.  The synergy is very clear.)

I can only repeat my warning from earlier this week:

Batten down the economic hatches, folks.  It's going to be a long, hard ride.




Stephan Pastis does it again.  He may have the most creative sense of humor in comic strips today.  Click the image to be taken to a larger version at the Pearls Before Swine Web page.

Who named it "urinal cake", anyway?  What led them to that description?  Sounds warped to me . . .


Thursday, April 29, 2021

Warfare in 2050


Interesting Engineering has published a forecast of what warfare may look like in 2050 and beyond.  They've analyzed current trends and emerging technologies to produce an overview of how combat and its tools are developing.  They conclude:

While making accurate predictions is never easy, the nature of warfare by mid-century is predicted to include a few major shifts:

  • Distributed technologies giving rise to new terror threats
  • Quantum computing and escalation of cyberwarfare
  • Stealth reaching the point of true invisibility
  • No more tanks or tank battles
  • Robots and cyborgs assuming most (or all) combat roles

Alas, some things never change. For one, warfare is and always will be a human-directed endeavor. Even if robots take over the battlefield, they will be fighting at the behest of human beings with human agendas. Second, armies will always be forced to adapt to changing circumstances and technologies, especially the ones that present new opportunities for mischief, mayhem, and destruction.

Last, but not least, warfare will never be predictable, and all our attempts to anticipate future developments are likely to meet with limited success (at most). Even if future armies benefit from AI and quantum computing to assess different scenarios and probabilities, the accelerating nature of technological change will create new levels of uncertainty.

It's a long article, so I can't reliably excerpt each of the sections listed above, but to whet your appetite, here's a more in-depth citation from their discussion of robots and cyborgs on the battlefield.

... perhaps the most radical way robotics will be integrated into the battlefield is with soldiers themselves. Soon, exoskeletons are predicted to make an appearance, giving individual soldiers greater strength, endurance, and carrying capacity.

According to a recent report by the US Department of Defense (DoD), 2050 will be the year where cyborg soldiers are a regular feature of the US Armed Forces. According to the report, the following "cyborg technologies" are expected to have the greatest impact:

Ocular Enhancement: Ocular implants of the future offer the potential to enhance sight, imaging, and situational awareness. By integrating circuits into the eye, soldiers see in other wavelengths (such as infrared), have enhanced night vision, discern movement more easily, identify targets, and project heads-up displays (HUDs) in their visual field.

Programmed Muscle Control: Soldiers of the future could also have subcutaneous sensor networks integrated into their bodies that would enhance muscle control by delivering optogenetic stimulation (light pulses). Integrated with an AI-driven situational awareness package, these sensors could also provide automated hazard avoidance.

Auditory Enhancement: By replacing or modifying middle-ear bones and cochlea, soldiers would have a greater range of hearing and protection against hearing loss. Combined with ocular and neural implants, auditory implants could enhance communication and situational awareness. This would include identifying low-intensity sounds, potential hazards, echolocation, and localization.

Direct Neural Enhancement: The ability to graft computer chips directly to the human brain will allow for brain-to-machine interfacing (BMI), as well as brain-to-brain interactions (BBI). In essence, soldiers would be capable of direct communication with autonomous systems and other soldiers, with deep implications for optimizing command, control, and operations. As is written in the report:

"The potential for direct data exchange between human neural networks and microelectronic systems could revolutionize tactical warfighter communications, speed the transfer of knowledge throughout the chain of command, and ultimately dispel the “fog” of war. Direct neural enhancement of the human brain through neuro-silica interfaces could improve target acquisition and engagement and accelerate defensive and offensive systems."

Cybernetic components will also have considerable implications for medical care and recovery. For example, neural implants could address symptoms that result from brain injuries — such as memory loss, dizziness, headaches, nausea, inability to concentrate, difficulty retaining new information, etc.

These implants will likely take the form of small and flexible integrated circuits placed on injured areas of the brain, providing a "bridge" between damaged neurons. Similar implants could also address the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by breaking the connection between external stimuli and the panic response.

Similarly, bionic prosthetics will become an option for soldiers who suffer irreparable damage to parts of their bodies. These range from bionic eyes and artificial organs to arms and legs, which rely on sophisticated electrodes to merge directly with nerve channels.

These will restore (and enhance) mobility and sensory perception and provide sensory feedback (pressure, vibration, temperature, pleasure/pain). Subcutaneous optogenetic implants could also aid in the recovery process where muscles and other soft tissues have been damaged.

Other advancements of importance include bioprinting and other burgeoning fields of biotechnology. The ability to print organic tissues on-demand — such as skin, organs, muscle tissue, and blood vessels — will drastically improve the survival and recovery rate of soldiers.

There's much more at the link.  It's a lengthy read, but repays attention if you're interested in the subject.

Of course, this is what a former comrade-in-arms used to cynically describe as "military mental masturbation".  We can predict that many technologies currently under development may wind up on the battlefield, but when and how that'll happen, and the extent to which it'll affect warfare, is at the moment only speculation.

Nevertheless, technology has already reached the point where, even taken in isolation, it's a war-winner.  We saw that in last year's conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which we've discussed in these pages on two occasions (follow those links for an in-depth look at the conflict, including video).  Armenia was hopelessly outclassed on the battlefield by Azerbaijan's superior technology and the way in which they used it.  The latter nation suffered very few casualties compared to its foe, and dealt Armenia a swingeing defeat in a matter of just a few weeks.

This has drastic implications for the relationship between armed forces and their societies, too.  One of the checks and balances in democratic nations has always been that their soldiers, sailors and aircrew have been drawn from their own citizens, so that there's (supposedly) an inbuilt reluctance on their part to fire on fellow citizens.  That's supposed to safeguard against military coups d'état, and make it difficult for a government to use troops against its own people.  However, if a military force is primarily comprised of technological tools rather than people, the latter inhibition disappears.  A government can deploy robots and drones against civilians with no fear of repercussions from the tools it's using, because they have no morality as such.

Based on the conduct of governments in the past, I suspect that'll soon be more than just a theoretical possibility.


Chaos and anarchy on the Mexican border


The Biden administration's unwritten plan to overwhelm American voters with a surge of illegal aliens (who will reliably - and, if necessary, illegally - vote Democrat) is in full swing.  It's far worse than you'll read in the mainstream media, most of which support the Democratic Party and regard the invasion as a good thing, and therefore won't report the facts.

A recent independent report describes the chaos.

“Jose Antonio” ... said he was a long-distance foot guide, a guia, for the ultra-violent La Linea cartel controlling this area. He leads groups of immigrants on eight- to 12-day treks through the remote desert terrain in West Texas with a singular goal: get them to U.S. Interstate 10, where associates pick them up at landmarks and drive them into the nation’s interior.

. . .

Over the course of an hour or so, Antonio explained the business, attributing his windfall to what he termed la invitación, the invitation. This is the local cartel reference to presidential candidate Joe Biden’s promises to the world’s poor that if they crossed the border illegally when he became president they would be welcome to stay, never fear deportation, and maybe get citizenship. Antonio said that when Biden actually won, business in Mexico’s Chihuahua State instantly boomed ¡como nunca! Like never before.

“They come in from all over Central America, Haiti, Africa, Indonesia, and from all over South America,” Antonio explained between snorts from a flattened 16-penny nail, smiling at his new good fortune. “They just keep coming and keep coming and keep coming.”

For the first time in local memories, rising streams of large groups — 50-to-100 illegal immigrants each — are constantly flowing through the normally quiet Big Bend Sector, one of the biggest, most remote, and perhaps out-of-mind of the eight designated CBP operating areas along the southern border. With 165,154 square miles and 571 miles of Rio Grande border in West Texas, Big Bend also is historically the least trammeled by illegal immigrants, perhaps because of its deterring harshness.

Not anymore, though.

Eighteen-wheeler tractor-trailer rigs and trucks of all sizes now pull right up to the river in unending succession to unload people and drug cargo in broad daylight along the long empty stretches of riverside territory. Police chases of immigrant transport vehicles are now commonplace in towns further inland for the first time. And Border Patrol agents, largely unreinforced despite new circumstances, are chasing groups through the desert day and night, losing most and strained beyond capacity to impact what’s happening, they say.

“It’s never been this busy,” one agent who has worked in the Van Horn Station Area for more than a decade told CIS. “I’ve never seen 18-wheelers out on the levy on the Mexican side like this, filled with God-only-knows what. It was predicted before the new administration came in, and it happened. Now the cartels are having a field day.”

In one recent notable incident, five vehicles blasted in from the Mexican side not far south of Sierra Blanca, filled with marijuana, meth — and 87 immigrants. Border Patrol caught that convoy.

But much more often, Border Patrol only ever learns about these events from tracks that churn the dirt, video recordings from hidden cameras, and distant dust plumes. Inland, sheriff’s deputies and Texas DPS Highway Patrol routinely engage in high-speed vehicle chases of smuggler vehicles that pick up migrants off the interstate and state roads leading to it.

More often than not, the passengers and drivers bail out and run into the desert, never to be seen again.

There's more at the link.  The well-organized cartel human smuggling operation is described in a subsequent report, which I highly recommend reading as well.

Folks, let's be clear.  This is nothing more or less than an invasion.  These people are coming here to mooch off the American welfare system, to take jobs that Americans need, and to send American dollars - which we need in our own economy - out of the country to their families and relatives in other countries.

This is a catastrophe in the making, a disaster for our economy and our society - yet the Biden administration is actively encouraging it by its inaction and refusal to secure our border.

I don't agree with them, of course, but I can understand the fury and frustration of some Americans who threaten to go down to the border and start shooting illegal aliens on sight, as they cross over the Rio Grande.  What other recourse do they have?  The authorities are under direct orders to let the invasion continue.  In the absence of law enforcement, there's nothing and no-one to stop the invaders.

The Biden administration is working as hard and as fast as it can to turn our country into just another Third World hellhole.


Yay parents!


I was delighted to read that the parents of schoolchildren in Vail, Arizona didn't let their school board get away with undemocratic shenanigans.

On Tuesday, the Vail School District in southern Arizona was scheduled to discuss its mask policy after Gov. Doug Ducey enacted a new executive order that lifted the state’s order to require face masks in schools.

In response to the meeting, more than a hundred parents rallied for the Vail School District to drop the mask mandate.

But just moments before the meeting was scheduled to take place, school officials abruptly decided to cancel the meeting, citing safety concerns over the parents’ protest.

A throng of parents later pushed their way into the board room while refusing to wear masks and demanded to speak with their elected officials.

. . .

Emotions ran high as parents confronted law enforcement, demanding to know why the board canceled the meeting. “They [school board] have the audacity to leave when we come here as peaceful parents to talk to them,” one parent passionately asked.

Following the adjournment, the parents, under Robert’s Rules of Order, voted in a new school board. Then, the new members voted to end the mask requirement in Vail Schools. Whether this procedure to install new board members is legally valid remains in contention.

But a Facebook account posted video of the meeting with this summary explaining the parents’ position:

“Vail School Board violates Arizona open meeting law, refuse to hear from the people, and goes home. So, the People hold quorum, call their own meeting to order, elect a new School Board, and immediately vote to CANCEL the mask mandate – along with voting to disallow any medical procedure being forced on the children or employees. This is how you take back power from a tyrannical government.

Great work to the parents of the students in Vail School District.”

There's more at the link, including a video clip.

It's great that bureaucrats, even elected ones, were called to account for their overreach.  They're supposed to be public servants, not public masters - and the parents knew it, and acted accordingly.


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

"Woke" politics threaten the workplace, and must be driven out


Two reports on Monday caught my eye.  Both illustrate the dangers of tolerating "woke" employees and ideas in any organization:  inevitably, the "woke" will try to take over, actively or passively, and bend the organization to their interests.

First, Basecamp announced that political discussions would be banned from the workplace.

Basecamp, a productivity software maker, said that it’s banning employees from “societal and political discussions” on internal workplace tools. The move, which was met with swift criticism online, mirrors the controversial no-politics-at-work policy set by crypto startup Coinbase Global Inc. last October.

Political discussion at work is “a major distraction” that “saps our energy, and redirects our dialog towards dark places,” Basecamp’s co-founder and chief executive officer, Jason Fried, wrote in a blog post on Monday. “You shouldn't have to wonder if staying out of it means you're complicit, or wading into it means you're a target.”

As with Coinbase’s announcement, the new rules from Basecamp prompted outrage from observers on Twitter and elsewhere, many of whom felt that banning discussion of politics at work sends the message that a company doesn’t care about injustice in the world and is interested only in preserving the status quo. Basecamp’s co-founders emphasized that employees are free to engage with politics and advocacy on social media and elsewhere, and that the company wanted only to explicitly keep it out of discussions on tools such as internal workplace chat.

There's more at the link.  Two of the founders of Basecamp, Jason Fried and David Hansson, have provided additional background - follow those links for more information.

On the same day, a Twitter user describing herself as "Grace, culture war refugee" outlined how she and her husband had coped with "woke" interference in their non-profit organization.  Here are some of her tweets, consolidated into a single thread.

My husband and I co-founded a justice-oriented non-profit org 11 years ago. At the time, we knew nothing about Critical Social Justice or Critical Theory. Our motivation was to address disparities in mental health care.

We’d learned that lay people (ppl without clinical training) made up the majority of trauma care providers around the world working with vulnerable populations (refugees, human trafficking survivors, etc). We wanted to help equip those lay people with good resources.

We hired clinically trained mental health professionals to develop our curriculum, oversee MEL, and run the international training program. Everything went great for about 7 years. We got accolades from all the right people in academia and partnered with orgs in 50+ countries.

Then a few years ago we noticed a tone shift among our program staff. They became hyper-critical of *everything.* As Executive Director, my husband felt he was always on trial. Every word and action was scrutinized. We couldn’t figure out where this was coming from.

We noticed shared rhetoric among the staff. Terms we heard often:

“systems of power and oppression”
“marginalized identities”

Didn’t understand the ideology behind it, started doing some reading.

Then the open letters started. The letters always went to everyone in the org (from the graphic designer to the governing board), they always asserted vaguely that the organization was “causing harm,” and they always ended with demands. We were alarmed and confused.

We began having all-org sessions trying to discern what was happening and what was needed. It was quickly apparent there were no specific actions or incidents that could be deemed harmful. The accusations were always vague and abstract, about “identities”, “systems,” etc.

What also became apparent quickly was they didn’t want to resolve any real harm. They wanted control of the organization. They stated explicitly my husband was incapable of running an org that addresses trauma (an org he founded!) bc he’s straight, white, male, and Christian.

That’s when I learned to fight. I’d been doing my homework for a while. Thanks to people like @NeilShenvi, @ConceptualJames, @wokal_distance, @WokeTemple, @D_B_Harrison and @realchrisrufo, I knew what we were facing. It was an attempted woke subversion of the organization.

I wrote organizational position papers on how Critical Social Justice compromised our work by being in direct conflict with a number of our organizational commitments, namely, being evidence-based, valuing the individual, cultural humility, and allowing for true diversity.

Maybe I shouldn’t be proud of it, but I also learned to use their woke rules against them. When a staff member said I couldn’t speak to a topic bc I’m straight, I told her it was wrong of her to assume about my sexuality just bc I’m married to a man. She immediately groveled.

After some months, when it was clear to them we wouldn’t budge, the ones making demands left “on moral grounds,” accusing us of every phobia and calling the org “white supremacist.” We’ve always partnered with ppl of every ethnicity, creed and identity, so this is laughable.

Having survived an attempted power grab and character assassination by a woke mob, I’ll say it’s painful to be mistreated by ppl you trusted. But if you care more about maintaining your integrity than what people think or say about you, you’ll emerge with your dignity intact.

Don’t apologize for vague accusations of “harm.” It’s not a fair fight. They don’t want dialogue. Expose their inconsistencies - show how their demands won’t achieve what they claim to care about (helping the poor, etc). It’ll require some reading and a lot of courage.

If you don’t fight this nonsense now, wherever it’s showing up in your community, there’ll be nothing good, true, or beautiful to defend soon. We will be ruled by lies and power while being told we’re progressing toward truth and justice.

Open war is upon us, there is no “safe” any more. Choose which kind of “unsafe” you want. Fighting lies is always preferable to being ruled by them. I believe they can be defeated. I believe the truth will prevail.

Again, more at the link.

Vox Day wrote a short book a year or two back called "Corporate Cancer", in which he perfectly describes and analyzes this sort of "Woke" takeover attempt, and shows how to defeat it.

If you haven't already read it, I highly recommend it.


"We're looking for a hole in the water"


A couple of years ago, two ballistic missile submarines, one French, one British, collided underwater without being aware of each other's presence.  The French initially ascribed the damage to "an immersed object (probably a container)".  Only after Britain informed France that one of her submarines had also suffered damage did the two nations put two and two together.

The incident illustrated one of the conundrums of modern stealth technology (which is used on ships as well as aircraft).  If you make a ship, or a submarine, stealthy enough, it's impossible to see or hear it coming in time to avoid a collision.  In the case of ballistic missile submarines, whose patrol routes and routines are amongst the most closely guarded military secrets, there's not going to be a Notice to Mariners warning of their presence, so other traffic will remain oblivious to them unless and until they run into each other (literally).

It looks like France is trying to develop technology that will overcome this problem - although how successful they'll be remains to be seen.  Strategy Page reports:

In early 2021 France officially began development of its next generation of SSBNs (ballistic missile nuclear powered submarines) ... These new SSBNs will be about ten meters longer than the current 138-meter long SSBNs and probably displace (on the surface) at least 15,000 tons. This is about twice the displacement of the first generation SSBNs. The additional internal volume will be largely devoted to silencing, improved passive sensors, much upgraded electronics and better crew accommodations. This includes a towed sonar array in addition to built-in sound detectors. More powerful computers and software can more quickly identify known sounds and figure out what unknown sounds are likely to be and track them even if the sound signal fades in and out.

. . .

It was confirmed that the hull of the 3G SSBNs will be covered with sonar signal absorbing anechoic tiles. Inside the subs all machinery will be designed and mounted to minimize noise ... For an SSBN the best protection is silence and stealth. All this stealth has a downside. This was demonstrated in early 2009 when France revealed that the Le Triomphant had collided with some unknown underwater object, causing some damage to its sonar dome ... Ten days later, after the British announced that one of their SSBNs had also collided with something underwater, they compared notes with the French and concluded that the two boats had run into each other ... The French revealed that onboard the Le Triomphant the collision could be heard by the crew as bumping and scraping, then silence. There was a damage assessment drill, which came up clean, except for some damage to the sonar dome. That meant the sub was even less able to hear any noises coming out of the Vanguard. The Le Triomphant then proceeded on its way, only able to guess at what it had just hit. The Vanguard did the same, unaware that they had literally bumped into another stealthy SSBN.

. . .

The odds of an underwater collisions were considered so high as to be virtually, but not absolutely, impossible. The U.S., Britain and France quietly got together to work out new procedures to avoid collisions between their increasingly stealthy subs. This is one reason why the French 3G SSBNs are spending a lot of money on improving passive sensors that will detect stealthy subs that get within collision range.

There's more at the link.

I was puzzled to read that.  If every effort is being made to reduce the noise made by a submarine, how will better sensors be able to hear its reduced noise?  I called an old friend, a man with whom I worked on some defense projects back in the 1980's.  He'd been involved with developing new and upgraded sensors for South Africa's 1950's-vintage Mark 44 anti-submarine homing torpedoes, and understood the problems involved in detecting submarines.  What's more, his son is currently working for a European military vendor that's trying to solve the same problem, only in a far more modern and technologically sophisticated way than he or I could have imagined, back in our day.

Jacques was pleased to hear from me, and spent some time describing the problem.  Paraphrased, it went something like this:  "You know how, when a sound source passes behind something that blocks it, the sound you hear changes until it's gone past the obstruction?  After that, it goes back to normal.  Well, that's what they're trying to do with a stealthy submarine.  They may not be able to hear the submarine itself, but if sounds made beyond it are blocked by its passage, those sounds will change, even if only imperceptibly.  If you can pick up that change, you know there's something blocking the sound - and if you're underwater, with no natural obstacles anywhere nearby, that could be a submarine."

I knew what Jacques meant.  We live in a town through which passes a busy railway line.  Sometimes trains are parked on a parallel track to clear the main line for another, more urgent train.  When the latter passes behind the former, its sound is blocked by each successive rail car, so that it's a loud-soft-loud-soft progression of noise.  It can sound very strange when the driver is sounding his horn, because that sound, too, ebbs and flows.  The stationary rail cars act as obstacles to the sounds from the traffic passing behind them.

Still, that sound effect underwater has to be much, much harder to detect, particularly over ranges of miles, or tens of miles.  It must be a heck of a technological challenge to identify it.  Jacques agreed.  He told me, "We're looking for a hole in the water - or, at least, a hole in the natural sounds in the water.  If we find one, there may be a submarine in it."

Nice metaphor!


Inflation: Read the signs all around you, or risk being overwhelmed


I've written many times about inflation and the threat it poses to our economy.  Just this past month, my articles on the subject include:

I'm far from alone in seeing what's coming.  It's monetary inflation rather than price inflation that is the problem, as we discussed in my article titled "One of the scariest financial graphs I've ever seen".

Peter Schiff agrees.  I strongly urge you to watch his sub-two-minute video below.  He puts things in a nutshell.

He confirms my earlier article in almost every respect.  So do recent articles from other authoritative sources (i.e. within the past week) concerning the problem.  Click on any of these headlines for a sobering education in reality.

I'm not posting these headlines to scare you (although they scare me!), but to warn you:  hard times are coming our way.  Most of us, including yours truly, don't have very deep financial reserves, and our income is not sufficient to cope with soaring prices, particularly if they continue for years rather than months.  Nevertheless, that's the reality we're facing, and we need to prepare as best we can right now if we're to cope with it.

I've written in the past about steps one can take to prepare for economic hard times.  Those steps are still valid, and still useful.  Above all else, however, I urge you to keep informed.  As Jim Lovell famously said:

"There are people who make things happen, there are people who watch things happen, and there are people who wonder what happened."

If we allow ourselves to fall into the latter category, we're basically going to be economic roadkill.  Most of us don't fall into the first category, either:  we don't have sufficient influence (or money) to make things happen.  However, if we watch things happening and take warning from them, we might be able to get out of the way of falling debris, or seize opportunities when they arise because we're watching for them, rather than just sitting around waiting for someone else to point them out.  Make more money?  Buy cheaper essential supplies?  Move to an area where economic competition is less and chances to succeed are greater?  If we're watchful, we can jump on those opportunities before others are aware of them.

Also, beware everybody who tries to sell you something because it's an "opportunity" in an inflationary era.  Generally, they'll be wrong - but you don't want to be the experimental guinea-pig who proves that the hard way.  Common sense remains as important as ever.  In particular, beware those who'll try to tell you that taking on debt in an inflationary environment is a good thing, because you can pay off the debt in inflated dollars that are worth much less than the dollars you borrowed to buy something.  That's a great idea - if, and only if, you're going to earn more of those inflated dollars.  If you earn roughly the same amount, you're still saddled with crippling debt and not enough dollars to pay it off.  I fear many of us will be in that position.

Our current Administration isn't helping.  It intends to spend trillions of dollars on stimulus, infrastructure, and reshaping America in the progressive, left-wing, socialist image it prefers - but those dollars do not exist.  They have to be created out of nothing by the Federal Reserve through bureaucratic handwavium.  We've already looked at the catastrophic consequences that will probably cause.

Batten down the economic hatches, folks.  It's going to be a long, hard ride.


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

If you want an AR-15 get it now, before the law changes


Readers will doubtless be aware that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (commonly known as the ATF) is considering significant changes to US firearms regulations.  They will probably involve, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • The way in which firearms are classified, particularly where the functions traditionally classified as a "receiver" are split between more than one part (such as the AR-15 rifle, striker-fired pistols, etc.).
  • The classification of arm braces in AR-15 pistols (which, let's face it, have been used as pseudo-shoulder stocks almost from the beginning, which is technically illegal).
  • The parts of a firearm that trigger (you should pardon the expression) a requirement for it to be logged in a gun dealer's books and its transfer conducted via the background check system, thus effectively "registering" the firearm to its purchaser.  For example, an AR-15 rifle's lower receiver has until now been the only "registerable" component, but that will probably change to include the upper receiver as well, and possibly other components too (perhaps the bolt or bolt carrier group, etc.)
  • Restrictions on the private completion of so-called "80% lowers" or other legally incomplete firearms by enthusiasts, and the regulation of gunsmithing activities to ensure that everyone engaging in them is registered as such.
  • Restrictions may be imposed on "paperless" private sales, requiring all transfers to be recorded through the official system.

The ATF's formal proposals are not yet official, but you can read a draft version of them at this link.  It's a long (107 pages) and complex document, but worth your time if firearms are of more than just passing interest to you.

This isn't unexpected.  The ATF has been finding it more and more difficult to fulfil its mission, what with incomplete lower receivers being legally sold without registration for later completion by home gunsmiths (so-called "ghost guns"), or AR-15 pistols being widely adopted as tax-free surrogates for short-barreled rifles (so-called SBR's) that should be individually licensed and taxed.  It's now moving to resolve these conflicts, and clarify the situation.  Some of us, including yours truly, would prefer to have much less regulation and more freedom, but we can't deny that the ATF is doing the job it's legally mandated to do.  If we want it done differently, we should object to and work to change the laws themselves, not the agency that has to enforce them.

However, this does mean that the tens of millions of existing firearms that might be affected by changes in the regulations will somehow have to be "grandfathered in" to the new system.  It's impossible to the point of absurdity to have them all brought in to a gun shop to be individually recorded and logged - the sheer amount of work (even if people complied, which is far from certain) would be enough to put gun shops out of business, because they'd have no time left to make a living.  Also, it's manifestly unfair to take an AR-15 pistol that until now has been entirely legal, and require its owner to pay a $200 tax to register it as an SBR.  There are millions of those pistols out there, and their owners would quite justifiably sue the pants off the ATF for imposing a retroactive tax on them.  If they have to be registered as SBR's, it's likely there'll be some sort of accommodation offered, such as the opportunity to do so during a window of time in which the $200 tax will be waived, or at least greatly reduced.

There's also the thought that many gun owners will not register their firearms if required to do so.  We've already seen such civil disobedience at work in states that tried to impose such requirements on their residents (for example, New York and Connecticut), and I've little doubt the situation will be similar elsewhere.  However, if your firearm has been logged into a gun shop's books, and its sale recorded on a Form 4473, you're officially registered as its owner whether you like it or not.

I know that many gun owners have sought to buy firearms privately, as sales between individuals are not recorded in that way;  others have held "swap meets", where owners of similar weapons can exchange theirs, thereby each getting a gun that isn't papered to them.  However, under the new regulations, it's entirely possible that all private transactions of this type will be outlawed, and all firearms transfers required to be logged through the official system.  This will make anonymous, "paperless" gun ownership impossible for most firearms in future.  Therefore, if you want to buy or sell a firearm "off paper", your window of opportunity to do so will probably close soon.

For all these reasons, if you want to buy or sell an AR-15 or other "politically incorrect" firearm, it might be a very good idea to get it now, before the new regulations come into effect.  I plan to (legally) sell a couple of rifles that are surplus to requirements before that happens, to avoid bureaucratic complications.  It simplifies matters.


Ma’Khia Bryant wasn't an innocent angel, and neither are her parents


The rush by some (including senior politicians and leaders who should know better) to canonize the late Ma'Khia Bryant - shot by a police officer to prevent her stabbing another young girl - is both nauseating and factually wrong.

Black Lives Matter and its hangers-on appear to be trying to make her into another George Floyd, as evidenced by this tweet.  Click the screenshot for a larger view.

The same rush to judgment is being found among liberal, left-wing, progressive politicians and organizations across the country.

However, far from the innocent young ghirl portrayed by such activists, Ms. Bryant was trying to kill or seriously injure another person when she was shot.  Her intended victim has since thanked the police for intervening.  Ms. Bryant and her sister were in foster care at the time, which does not appear to have been a happy situation for either of them.  Precisely why they were in foster care, rather than under their mother's care (which had presumably been found by the authorities to be inadequate or lacking in some way), has not been disclosed.

What's more, Ms. Bryant's mother - who's making the rounds of the news media protesting her late daughter's angelic and peaceful nature - emerges as anything but credible.  The text below is taken from a long blog article that intersperses it with evidence - screenshots, photographs and videos - to prove the author's claims.

Paula Bryant blamed the cops for the death of her daughter while taking no accountability for herself, despite the fact that her troubled child was in foster care and instigated the entire incident which was all caught on film.

However, as it turns out Mom is a liar, her father was involved in the fight, and both of them have a long and documented criminal history.

Ma’Khia wasn’t on the honor roll at Independence High School, where she was far from the only child who had the misfortune of having parents who put apostrophes in their names.

She didn’t even enroll in the school until February.

It took three minutes of Googling to figure that one out. Although it isn’t the biggest deal that Paula Bryant lied about her honor roll daughter, it does establish that 1) she can’t be trusted, and 2) the media will blindly repeat anything that makes the victim of a police shooting look good.

Paula Bryant was charged in 2004 with domestic violence and assault. The charges were ultimately dismissed after she plead guilty on amended charges.

In 2010 she was charged with domestic violence, assault, and endangering children. She plead guilty on an amended charge.

Maybe if she didn’t assault people and endanger her own children then her child wouldn’t have been in foster care in the first place.

In the video you can see Ma’Khia storm out of the house and run one of the other girls over. You then see a man come out of nowhere and kick the girl in the head while she’s down as Ma’Khia goes to stab the girl in the pink.

That man is apparently her father Myron Hammonds, who’s a real gem himself.

You can hear him right after the shooting at the 4:35 repeatedly yell, “that’s my baby,” and “Is you stupid? She’s a kid!”

Ma’Khia was having problems with the two girls she attacked because they used to live in the foster home, stopped by a lot, and criticized Ma’Khia for not making her bed and keeping the house clean. She reached her breaking point, and before someone called the cops she called up her father to help her take care of the other girls.

Myron Hammonds has had a warrant out for his arrest since January.

He has a long and documented criminal history.

He plays the loving Dad on his Facebook page, but he had to be taken to court to prove that he was the father.

If Myron Hammonds hadn’t kicked that girl who was on the ground then Officer Reardon would’ve been able to direct all of his focus on Ma’Khia, and perhaps he could’ve taken her to the ground before she got near Tianna Bonner.

If Paula Bryant had obeyed the law and raised her kids properly instead of getting arrested for endangering them, then Ma’Khia wouldn’t have been in this situation in the first place.

There’s lots of blame to go around here, but none of it belongs with the police. As long as we pretend that America has a policing problem and not a parenting problem then we’re never going to address the root cause of shootings like this.

There's more at the link, including additional evidence.  Kudos to the blogger concerned for doing his research and documenting every step of it.

I'm truly sorry that Ma'Khia Bryant is dead.  Nobody should have to die like that - but there are some who choose that fate for themselves, literally forcing the police to act against them in order to protect other innocent people.  The available evidence overwhelmingly suggests that this is precisely what happened in her case.  As for her parents, I'm sorry for their loss - but where were they when their daughter needed positive, supportive, exemplary role models?  It's too late now.

If the evidence cited above is correct, then I think we all know where the late Ms. Bryant got the inspiration and example for her actions;  yet now her parents are gushing praise for her, and threatening to sue the officer and agency responsible for her death.  I think that would be a travesty of justice.  It's even more pathetic when one notes that one person publicly pushing for such a lawsuit, Donnie Bryant (said to be her cousin), is a city councillor for Mansfield, OH, who recently lost a mayoral election there.  He said at the time:  "Politics is in my blood. I am just going to continue doing what I am doing. I am not sure what I will do next, but I do plan on staying active in politics."  He's now publicly eulogizing Ma'Khia Bryant and criticizing the police.  Dare we suggest that he might seek to take advantage of the death of his cousin as a springboard for his future political career?

It's getting to the point where, in almost any criminal matter, one has only to listen to what liberal, progressive, politically correct sources are saying about it in order to be sure beyond reasonable doubt that the truth lies in the diametrically opposite direction.


Not your average romance novel . . .


Mark Longmire is a graphic designer in Knoxville, Tennessee.  At his Web site, he pokes fun at various and sundry aspects of modern life - including the rather over-the-top covers used to sell romance novels.  Here's a montage of some of his variations on that theme.  Click the image for a larger view.

There are more at the link, as well as additional examples submitted by his fans.  Some are not safe for children, but they're all amusing.  A tip o' the hat to Tiffanie Gray on MeWe for introducing me to his work.

I don't write in the romance genre (I wouldn't know where to start - I'm a bit too down-to-earth for that stuff), but it's highly lucrative for those who succeed there.  I know one former Marine artillerist who's active in that field, writing under a pseudonym (feminine, of course).  If his readers only knew that the writer making them sigh heavily was a manly cannon-cocker instead of a ladylike bosom-heaver . . .


Monday, April 26, 2021

Michael Yon: "I am warning and warning and warning that we are steaming straight into civil war"


Michael Yon has become nationally known through his reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan during the first two decades of the 21st century.  He's generally been prescient in his predictions, and despite attracting official ire for his no-holds-barred criticism of mistakes and misguided policies, he's been proven right more often than not.

He foresees serious conflict in the USA in the immediate future.

The United States is heating up. Rewind to my cautions in 2019, and especially in January 2020 about pandemic from China.

Since fall of 2020, I warned many times, specifically, that April 2021 would start serious violence in the United States. Witness now. It’s starting. Again, some folks try to mind read and say, “You predict violence because you want it.” This is foolish. This is accusing a doctor warning about smoking because the doctor wants to spread lung cancer.

I am warning and warning and warning that we are steaming straight into civil war. War sucks, to put it lightly. And it rarely turns out how anyone predicts, other than bad.

Many folks ask me about specific sparks. What could spark it? This is akin to asking which raindrop will case the flood. Which mosquito brought the malaria. It’s about conditions.

It’s about conditions.

You will often hear military professionals — the serious professionals, not to be confused with careers — talking about conditions.

Medical professionals using similar language. Serious economists, too. Or old wise men like Thomas Sowell. Dr. Sowell understands conditions and culture. Interesting thing about Dr. Sowell is that he is an academic. I travel far more than Dr. Sowell, but Dr. Sowell describes very accurately things I see around the world. When I read his words or hear Dr. Sowell talk, I say, “Yes, this is true yet again.” Dr. Sowell is very accurate.

Such as overseas Chinese thriving wherever their seed lands, but not thriving so well in China. Likewise with Indians and India.

Pre-existing conditions. In the United States, conditions for internal conflict are increasing.

But what will the spark be? Does not matter. It’s about the conditions. When conditions are set, a spark will arrive. More accurately, there always are sparks, but sparks do not go far in a rainforest, or in a desert without fuel.

It’s about general health. Doctors don’t try to tell us which specific germ will get us. They talk more about setting conditions for health. Such as keeping clean, eating well.

Likewise the forestry experts will talk about conditions for wildfires. Dry forest. Uncleared undergrowth. No Indians managing the fuel load with traditional burns.

Mr. Yon knows whereof he speaks.  Many observers (including myself) know whereof we speak, because we have the prior experience that makes it possible for us to judge what we're seeing around us, identify the patterns in society, and know what's coming.

I've tried on many occasions to warn you, dear readers, that we're in for a torrid time of it.  The Republic founded by our forefathers is almost on its last legs.  We can do nothing, and watch it expire, and live with the consequences . . . or we can resist current trends, and try to get back to the solid foundations our forefathers laid for us.  They're still there, and they're still solid.  They have not decayed.  Instead, we have allowed our nation to be almost completely levered off those foundations, so that they no longer support it.

If it comes to civil war, as Mr. Yon warns, it'll be our job to lever the republic back onto those foundations.  It's likely to be a long, costly, and probably bloody process - but it has to be done, because unless we do so, the republic will finally and terminally collapse.

Forewarned is forearmed.  Please conduct yourselves, and plan, accordingly.


Another message from Second City Cop


In January this year, the famed Second City Cop (SCC) blog, describing the politicized madness of policing in the Windy City, was forced to "go silent" after its anonymous authors learned that their identities might soon be compromised.  I wrote about it at the time, and passed on their farewell message.

They've apparently not been idle since then, and have just published another message to their readers via the Chicago Contrarian blog.  Here it is in full.

Two months. We could regale you with stories about what we’ve been doing the past sixty days, but rest assured, you’d be bored pretty darn quick. Suffice it to say we’ve been busy. Some good, some bad, some truly sad, but busy. Life goes on until it doesn’t.

We’ll get to the question everyone is asking shortly.

In the meantime, how about that Groot? Just when you think things couldn’t get any worse, Groot goes out, makes things infinitely worse, and then blames...the Police!

Two more suicides while we’re in limbo – nothing from the Groot and worse, a canned e-mail from Brownie. Did you know that after the suicide in 019, not a single member of the Command Staff showed up at Roll Calls for at least three days? Including the District Commander. But they care. Really. They tell us so in e-mails and e-learning videos.

Four cops shot in a matter of days – no condemnation from the political structure. Almost like they’re scared to show even the tiniest bit of support for the men and women in blue, lest the suspiciously dormant “rioters” notice them.

And now a dead 13-year-old gangbanger. How do we know he’s a gangbanger? Social media pictures of him flashing gang signs. Tattoos noted in the coroner report and the “eyebrow lines” shaved in. The announcement (that actually made the media) that the gang would be targeting unmarked squad cars and the cops riding within – would they do that for a non-gangbanger? (Hint: No.) Can anyone reading tell us exactly when a 13-year-old is allowed to be outside at 0230 hours with a firearm? We know the assorted caucuses in Springfield are busy rolling back all sorts of laws and passing new ones, but we don’t recall this one sneaking out of committee. Did Pritzker sign something the night before?

And there’s Groot, the f#$%ing “mayor” of Chicago, sympathizing with the “mother” who didn’t know her son was missing for two days, didn’t even report him missing for three, and identified the body in the morgue five days after the shooting. That’s “mother of the year” material right there.

Brownie was worse, posting an e-mail to everyone where he expressed exactly ZERO concern for the mental well-being of the Officer involved, who was placed into the unfortunate situation of responding to a “Shots Fired” call, and being quick enough to arrive on-scene in time to actually on-view someone with a gun. End result? Cops are wrong for engaging in....foot pursuits. That’s the message, loud and clear. They’ve already all but banned vehicle pursuits, so now chasing anyone on foot is to be regulated, monitored and banned.

Crimesha has relegated her entire office to being a criminal’s BFF. If you follow the CWB blog (still a daily read for us) a number of articles aren’t just about criminals out on “affordable bails” that are shooting and killing rivals along with a few innocent bystanders – it's about rapists who should be on electronic monitoring not even showing up to be lo-jacked, and then going out and raping again. Personally, there ought to be a bracelet of C-4 wrapped around their waist and detonated if they so much as approach a woman, but Crimesha seems happy to have them just out raping again.

You know what happens when cops can’t even foot chase? We’ve seen it on a daily basis with vehicle chases – you get a ton more of them because the criminal knows that (A) the cops aren’t chasing and (B) there’s no penalty for fleeing. No foot chases? Get ready for a massive upswing (or more massive upswing) in shoplifting, thefts, muggings and robberies.

Not only that, but they will almost all be armed. As in ready to visit violence on anyone who resists. As in bodies are going to stack up, because they know cops cannot engage in a foot pursuit. If you’re paying attention, you know it has already begun.

This part is darkly amusing – you know who is suffering quite a bit in Chicago? Minority mothers, whose kids are being raped, shot, mugged and murdered (check the stats page). And who’s in charge around these parts? Groot, Crimesha, Prickwrinkle – three minority mothers, whose “catch-and-release" policies, along with zero-bail initiatives, downgrading criminal acts (without legislative action) and anti-police support have led to the biggest shooting and killing tallies since 2016.

And a new crisis is on the horizon that the media hasn’t even touched on for some strange reason:

We still get e-mails from coppers with all sorts of info, hoping we will return and use it one day. Like the Academy. How many recruits are in the Academy right now? Many hundreds? One hundred? Try under 50.  

And how many are in the hiring pipeline? Supposedly, after scouring the last THREE hiring lists for any warm body that washed out of pre-testing, over one-thousand letters and e-mails were sent out to take the Power test. How many showed up? About 70. One-third failed.

The FOP has the retirement numbers for Jan/Feb/Mar and there are hundreds. Literally hundreds....and not even 100 in the pipeline.

Anyone know why the media isn’t covering this? After all, Groot is “saving” millions in salary costs. “Savings” that will be dwarfed by overtime costs during the killing season on tap. Any reporters out there looking to make some waves, or is that illegal now? Or “undocumented” in the parlance of the current administration.

In any event, the BIG the blog coming back? And again, we can only say, “Maybe.” We want to bring it (or something similar) back so that cops have somewhere to vent and participate in a “give-and-take" conversation. We don’t want to have the site reliant on the goodwill of the tech giants who have proven since the election that they have no qualms about attacking and silencing conservative thoughts, voices and anything that disrupts the current narrative. Our security is paramount in all of our calculations, and that means no obvious trail back to our people. Anonymizers and cut-outs are of limited use in the age of big tech. We are trying though.

Many thanks to the Contrarian for letting us camp out here and waste their electrons for a little while to touch base with everyone. In closing, from someone far wiser than we: “You aren’t here to save are here to document the downfall, one RD number at a time.” This is what they want...nay, demanded.

Stay safe,


Thanks to the SCC authors for keeping us updated.  We hope to see you back in the blogosphere as soon as you can manage it.

As for the surge of retirements among Chicago cops, I've heard the same thing about many major US cities lately.  (To cite just one example, look at what's happening in New York City.)  I'm seriously worried about my friends in such cities.  When cops know they're going to be blamed for enforcing the laws as written, they're simply going to stop enforcing those laws - and that means we, the citizens of this country, will be left to our own devices and resources to protect ourselves from crime.  If we do so, we, too, will be blamed for that - just as the cops are now being blamed.

Take heed, friends.  Forewarned is forearmed - and we're going to need to be forearmed to deal with the forces of nihilism, destruction and breakdown currently infesting our cities, because nobody else will do it if we don't.


Memes that made me laugh 55


Harvested from around the Internet over the past week.  Click each image for a larger view.

More next week.