Friday, January 21, 2022

I think President Putin has described the current condition of the USA very precisely


Here's a very brief video (less than a minute) in which President Putin of Russia describes how he sees the USA's position right now.  I highly recommend that you watch it.  He's speaking in Russian, but subtitles (in English) should come on automatically, because I've coded for them.  If they don't, please click over to the video on YouTube and activate them there.

I think he's hit the nail squarely on the head.  What say you, readers?

As I said yesterday, I challenge anyone to identify the compelling national security interest of the USA in Ukraine.  All anyone's been able to come up with so far is "muh DEMOCRACY!" and the like.  Ukraine must sort out its own politics - and democracy there is no more than a chimera, a pipe-dream, and has been for centuries, not decades or years.  The same applies to Russia.  They're not only foreign nations, they're foreign cultures, thinking, feeling and behaving very, very differently from ourselves.  That's no problem, of course - they're entitled to that - but it means we interfere at our peril, because we can't visualize the situation through their eyes, and sense their visceral reactions (which are nothing like those they display for public consumption).

President Putin is a pragmatist and a realist.  President Biden and his administration are not.  They're trying to use Ukraine to re-focus public attention away from their many, many shortcomings and failings.  They won't succeed.

(To read an absolutely devastating fisking of the Biden administration's and Democratic Party's shortcomings after one year in power, go read Larry Correia's latest.)


"Since January 2020, the United States has printed nearly 80% of all US dollars in existence." Be afraid. Be very afraid.


If this report doesn't scare the hell out of you, you sure as heck don't understand the economic disaster now staring us in the face.

Since March of 2020, Americans and the world alike have watched from the sidelines as power hungry politicians have ushered in draconian lockdowns, shutdowns, police state measures, and brought the economy to its knees. While governments around the planet used their central banks to devalue their currencies by printing money to fund their tyranny, the US led the way down this road to fiscal horror.

Thanks to the trillions of dollars the Federal Reserve has printed over the last two years, America is currently in an inflation crisis. One need only look at the price of groceries over the last two years to realize just how bad of a crisis we are currently experiencing.

. . .

As government spending has skyrocketed over the last two years, they have financed their massive expenditures by stealing value from your savings by printing more money through the central bank.

When you print more money it means there are more dollars chasing the same amount of goods and services, which causes prices to rise. In just the past three fiscal years, federal spending has swollen to nearly $7 trillion a year, up from about $4.4 trillion in fiscal year 2019. Spending was $6.6 trillion in 2020, and $6.8 trillion in 2021.

If we want to put this into perspective, we can take a look at the monetary supply at the beginning of 2020, which showed just $4.0192 trillion in circulation. By January 2021, that number had jumped up to $6.7 trillion — but this was only the beginning.

By November of last year, that number climbed to $20.354 trillion dollars in circulation — meaning that since January 2020, the United States has printed nearly 80% of all US dollars in existence

As the Hill points out, “the Biden administration and Democrat-controlled Congress are causing America to slowly but certainly commit economic suicide. The only hope the United States has to reverse course is a widespread, firm backlash against the irresponsible policies that created the present crisis in the first place. A good place to start would be a total rejection of the Build Back Better bill now under consideration in Congress.”

Unfortunately, that did not happen and the US is setting itself up for a situation similar to that of Germany’s Weimar Republic.

There's more at the link.

Forget the "official" figure of inflation at about 7%.  That's been bureaucratically mangled, folded, spindled and mutilated until it's meaningless.  It no longer measures reality for consumers "on the ground".  Applying the criteria I discussed last year, plus the corrective factor of 3.5 that I proposed, I firmly believe that our actual consumer inflation rate is more like 25% right now, and getting worse by the day.

The money supply figures explain why.  Crippling inflation, perhaps hyperinflation, is now unavoidable.  All that money is flooding the market, looking for something to buy - and in the process, driving up prices in all directions.  (If you don't understand how money supply drives inflation, see here for an excellent primer.)

Most of us don't have sufficient discretionary income to accommodate such price increases.  It's time to make a radical, wide-ranging analysis of our income and expenditure, and cut back on the latter wherever possible, concentrating on essentials and leaving out luxuries.  This is going to take years to sort out, and we should adjust our perspective accordingly.


Thursday, January 20, 2022

State of the author, and my latest book


Thank you very much to everyone who's so far bought/read "Wood, Iron, and Blood", my latest Western novel and the first in the new series "The Annals of Ash".

It's been published for two weeks now, and is proving popular - so much so that it's been the #1 New Release in the Amazon category "Classic Action & Adventure" for more than a week.  (Click the image for a larger view.)

The print edition is now available, as is a revised version of the e-book, in which I've corrected half-a-dozen typos to which readers drew my attention.  I'm annoyed about them being there.  I try very hard to put out a book that's as "clean" and correct as I can make it, and I slipped up in a few places on this one.  I'll try to do better for subsequent ones.  (Speaking of that, I'm having trouble at present holding down my muse, who's trying to get me to start the second book in the Ash series.  I have several others needing to be completed in the short term, so I'm trying to batten down the hatches on my Western muse while listening harder to the science fiction one!)

If you've already bought the e-book edition and want to get the revised edition, simply re-download it from Amazon.  You can do that through your "Content & Devices" menu, found under the "Account & Lists" heading.  To make sure you get the revisions, I suggest waiting a week or so before doing that, to give Amazon time to update their download system.

Yesterday was a bitter-sweet moment.  I was more than half-way through the sixth volume of the military-science-fiction Maxwell Saga, to be titled "Venom Strike";  but it wasn't working as I wanted it to.  It was getting overly convoluted, meandering away from the central plot and incorporating too many side issues.  I therefore took a command decision and axed over 20,000 words from the manuscript.  The remaining 30,000 are tightly focused around a particular individual and sub-plot, and will remain key to the book;  but I'll write a new opening chapter or two, then continue with a fresh approach.  I know there are plenty of fans waiting for the next Maxwell novel, and I don't want to disappoint them with second-rate work.  It'll mean a delay in publication, possibly pushing it out into March instead of February, but I'm sure you'd rather have a good book than a mediocre one.  I'll do my best for you.

(By the way, new editions of the Maxwell Saga will shortly be issued, with updates to improve them - no changes to the storylines, just improving the punctuation, replacing words that were too often repeated with synonyms, that sort of thing.  Because it was my first series, I've learned a lot since the first books were written, and I'd like to make them better.  I'll include update instructions when I publish the new editions.)

People often ask me whether I make more money from book purchases, or "borrows" through Kindle Unlimited, Amazon's subscription library.  I make about twice as much on the sale of an e-book compared to a loan:  effectively, given partial reads, it takes 3-4 KU borrows to produce the same income as a single e-book sale.  If I could sell that many instead of lending them, I'd be a lot better off!

However, I understand that for many people, particularly in today's difficult economic circumstances, book purchases are a luxury they simply can't afford.  For them, a $10 monthly subscription to KU, giving them unlimited access to books in that program, is much more economical and affordable;  so I continue to make my books available through it.  I'd much rather have more readers, spreading the word about how much they like my books, than only a few readers who can afford them.  Other authors have taken the decision to withdraw their books from KU, and/or to "go wide", publishing their books on other outlets besides Amazon.  That's their choice, and I wish them well.  Only time will tell who made the best decision(s) in economic terms.

I did a quick analysis this morning.  Based on recent sales, my income stream across all my books breaks down to 35.5% from e-book purchases, 2.5% from print purchases, and 62% from KU borrows.  That varies by book, too:  on some volumes, I get as much as 75% of my income from KU borrows, with relatively few sales.  I hope that answers the questions of those who want to know how my writing income breaks down.  It's not yet at a level where I can afford to live on it, but combined with my wife's income from her job, we cope.  As I get more books out there, I hope to improve our finances even more.

I'm never going to be able to afford to retire (my pension went south along with my pastoral career when I took a stand over the clergy child sex abuse scandal), but with my readers' help, I'll hopefully be able to earn enough to compensate for that.


The ecclesial solution to squirrel infestations


Received from A. M. on MeWe:

The Presbyterian church called a meeting to decide what to do about their squirrel infestation. After much prayer and consideration, they concluded that the squirrels were predestined to be there, and they should not interfere with God’s divine will.

At the Baptist church, the squirrels had taken an interest in the baptistry. The deacons met and decided to put a water-slide on the baptistry and let the squirrels drown themselves. The squirrels liked the slide and, unfortunately, knew instinctively how to swim, so twice as many squirrels showed up the following week.

The Lutheran church decided that they were not in a position to harm any of God’s creatures. So, they humanely trapped their squirrels and set them free near the Baptist church. Two weeks later, the squirrels were back when the Baptists took down the water-slide.

The Episcopalians tried a much more unique path by setting out pans of whiskey around their church in an effort to kill the squirrels with alcohol poisoning. They sadly learned how much damage a band of drunk squirrels can do.

But the Catholic church came up with a more creative strategy! They baptized all the squirrels and made them members of the church. Now they only see them at Christmas and Easter.

Not much was heard from the Jewish synagogue. They took the first squirrel and circumcised him. They haven’t seen a squirrel since.

The Catholic solution seems in order.  We used to refer to the "hatch, match and dispatch" crowd - those who were seen in church only for baptisms, weddings and funerals.


Someone please tell me: what compelling national security interest does the USA have in Ukraine???


All the current talk about threats of war with Russia over Ukraine are about the stupidest thing I can imagine . . . except that the Biden administration has painted itself into a corner with its incompetence and buffoonery, and the oligarchs that are pulling its strings realize that their exploitation of COVID-19 to increase their control over the citizens is in tatters, and Russia sees in our weakness an opportunity to assert its status as a "recovering superpower", if I may use that term.

There is no, repeat, NO reason for Americans to lose their lives to defend a corrupt, incompetent regime in Ukraine.  We have no compelling or vital national security interest to defend there.  Anyone who disagrees with me is free to identify such an interest and explain it in a comment to this blog post.  I'd love to read it.

Tucker Carlson and his guest put it well yesterday.  The segment is only about five minutes long, and is worth watching.

We've seen this tactic used time and time again in multiple countries over many centuries.  Are things getting out of hand for the powers that be in their own country?  Then, quick - let's make the citizens focus on an external threat, something around which they'll feel duty-bound to unite and ignore anything else.  While they're focused on that, we can get away with whatever we like internally.

China's doing that right now over Taiwan.

Russia's doing that right now over Ukraine.

The USA's doing that right now over Russia.

No war is necessary in any of those examples . . . but given the rhetoric of the leaders concerned, and the need they all share to distract their citizens from internal problems and the manufactured (in every way) threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, they'll grasp eagerly at any and every available straw.

Afghanistan wasn't worth the thousands of American lives it cost to conquer and occupy it.  Ukraine isn't worth even one American life, because there's nothing there that we need or want, and nothing that's of direct and immediate importance to us.  Let the Ukrainians and the Russians sort it out.  It's their business.  If Europe wants to get involved, let them.  They're near enough to the problem for it to be their business.  We aren't.


EDITED TO ADD:  See CDR Salamander's views for an interesting insight into how and why Russia is reacting as it is.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

"The homeless crisis is a symptom of our society collapsing in real time"


That's how Tucker Carlson sees homelessness in America right now.  It's hard to disagree with him.  Here's part of the conclusion from the transcript of his opening segment last night.

It's not complicated at all. It couldn't be simpler. Politicians are making it much easier to be a homeless drug addict in the United States, and much harder to be a law-abiding member of the middle class. What's the effect? Well, let's see. The middle class is dying, and we now have record numbers of drug-addicted vagrants.

What does that tell you? It tells you that incentives work. If you destroy the nuclear family, which they have; if you decriminalize drugs, which they have; if you hand out tents and needles to addicts, what do you think's going to happen? You're going to get more addicts living in tents.

Again, it's not complicated. This is not a vexing public policy question that requires the Brookings Institution to investigate. It's not like fixing Social Security.

And the solution is as simple as the problem. Here's a solution: Stop putting up with it. Say no. No, you can't smoke meth in the park. You're not allowed to crap on the sidewalk. Pull up your pants and get the hell out of here. Go somewhere with lower standards. Head for a place where politicians don't care about their people because we do care. And that's why we're hauling your tent to a landfill and cutting off your checks today. You are a drug addict. Get a job or leave. This is our city. You are not allowed to wreck it. You didn't build it.

Now, that’s not hard. That works. We know it works because that's how societies function for about 2,000 years. If you're an unmarried man with no job, you were not allowed to destroy things. It wasn't your right.

By the way, this is how successful families still operate to this day in the privacy of their own homes when the NGOs aren't watching. Parents reward good behavior, and they do not tolerate bad behavior. Why? Because if you let your kids smoke weed at the breakfast table, they will. So you don't let them. So why not apply the same standard to the drug addicts at Penn Station? Because what we're doing now isn’t compassionate. It's an attack on civilization.

There's more at the link.  I highly recommend reading the whole thing, or watching the segment in the embedded video below.  If it's taken down from YouTube, you'll find another copy at the link above.

Part of me would love to see Tucker Carlson run for elected office, but he probably has more sense than to do that.  He's seen how independent voices are treated by the establishment on both the left and the right of US politics - and his strong views and logical, rational reasoning through our problems outrages both sides.  Can you imagine what he might get up to as a Senator, even a President?  Sadly, that'll probably never happen.  At least his strong voice hasn't been removed from the public arena - yet.  Let's treasure it, and him, while we may.


Portland police training slide causes controversy


I'm sure many readers have heard about the controversy in Portland, OR over police riot training material that allegedly included this slide (clickit to biggit):

Notice that (as far as I'm aware) all the protests and outraged shrieks have come from the left of US politics.  There's a deafening silence on the right - largely because many on the right sympathize with the sentiments expressed in the slide.  I've so far discussed it in passing with several current and former law enforcement friends.  The universal reaction appears to be a giggle of heartfelt agreement.

It's hard not to sympathize with them, because police are deliberately targeted by the left.  They're publicly pilloried because they stand for law and order, things the left would prefer to remove from the political scene so that they can create mayhem unfettered by the long arm of the law.  They denigrate, slander and libel police at will, seek to defund them, threaten them, offer them physical violence - and then act surprised when their attitudes and actions bounce back on them, as expressed in that slide.  Frankly, I'm astonished that more police haven't refused to guard the mayor's home, or official council buildings, when the mayor and council are part of the attack on law enforcement.  As far as I'm concerned, if that's the way they feel, then let them find out at first hand what it's like when law enforcement isn't there to protect them.

That's also why it's worth getting to know your local police force, and ensure that they regard your immediate area as friendly.  If you "show willing" and volunteer to help law enforcement organizations and civic activities, wave a friendly welcome to cops patrolling your streets, and generally make it clear that you aren't a problem they need to worry about, you're very unlikely to fall foul of the attitudes expressed in that slide.  Also, if trouble should come to your town and you need to organize your own neighborhood to resist incursions by the radical left, let the local cops know about it ahead of time, and establish effective liaison with them.  Don't bother with top officials:  deal with the "cop on the beat", those living in, working in and responsible for your area, who'll have to put their lives on the line to defend you if it comes to that.  They'll know that in your area at least, they'll have backup and support.  That's worth gold to them, and more than gold.

Yes, there are problem cops;  yes, there are problem police forces.  We've covered both in these pages from time to time.  However, I still think the majority of cops are trying to "protect and serve", and doing the best they can under very difficult circumstances.  The easier and less stressful we can make those circumstances for them, the more likely we are to receive protection when we need it, and the less likely we are to engender the attitudes expressed in that slide.  I think that's a worthwhile objective.


The "Corporate State", and why it targets the right - but not the left


There's an interesting and thought-provoking article at the Daily Bell.  It's titled "Why the Corporate State Doesn’t Target the American Left".  Here's a short excerpt.

When Biden’s executive branch sets its internal security apparatus sights on “domestic extremists” (intelligence jargon for any group or individual who deviates from the corporate state narrative), The Daily Bell was among the first independent media to sound the alarm.

However, we didn’t rigorously assess why the populist Right, and not the Left, poses an existential threat to the ruling class.

The “establishment” references the conglomeration of dominant interest groups that sits atop the political food chain.

In a past era (in the Western context, before the original Industrial Revolution), the establishment was a landed aristocracy in collusion with the Church and militaries that ruled nation-states.

In the 21st century iteration of feudalism, the ruling class is a consortium of multinational offshore corporate elite.

Theoretically, regardless of who occupies power, any social group outside of the establishment is a latent threat – hence the oppressive apparatuses of state throughout history from the Red Guards of the Mao era to the Stasi of East Germany.

In a rough 99% vs. 1% breakdown, if the vast majority or the “ruled” rose up against the tiny minority of “rulers,” their days perched atop the social hierarchy would be finished.

But, if the 99% can be chopped up into all manner of sub-groups – either along pre-existing cultural, racial, or political fault lines or artificial ones engineered by the state –  and then turned against one another, the status quo can be maintained.

The British perfected this method of rule – often called “divide and conquer” –in their management of colonial assets.

Politically, the population at large (outsiders of the establishment) in the United States is divided into two large groups: “Right” and “Left.”

Here is a brief breakdown of why, in the current social configuration, the Left serves as the enforcement arm of the state to suppress the grassroots Right, which is correctly viewed as the only faction that is a threat to the power structure.

There's more at the link.  It's worth reading the article in full to get the details.

Looking at the behavior of the progressive left wing of US politics and its media lackeys, it's hard not to find the article convincing.  The issues it identifies also demonstrate why the "hyphenated-American" issue, far from being old-fashioned, is still so important.  The corporate state seeks to make more hyphenated-Americans, using race, creed, color, national origin and anything else available to create smaller and smaller special interest groups, because they can be divided (against each other) and ruled in small packets - the progressive left's "identity politics" taken to its absurdist extreme.  United Americans, with no hyphens, will come together around the common cause of what it means to be Americans, which is inimical to the corporate, borderless state and its interests.

Consider, too, the barrage of lock-step criticism of the right of US politics and everyone associated with it, emanating from the mainstream media.  Their allegiance to the corporate state is made clearer when one realizes that a mere six companies control almost all US media.  The infographic at the link is ten years old, but the process of concentration and consolidation of control has continued since it was published, and is today worse than ever.  In the technological sphere, again, a few companies control almost all Internet access and what's available on it (think Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.).  With so few corporations controlling so much, their control over the corporate state becomes equally clear, because (in so many words) the corporate state cannot function without them.  It's a symbiotic relationship that can't be broken without breaking its component parts at the same time - and they're not about to sit back and allow that to happen without a fight.  Hence, both the corporate state and its corporate masters/tools (call them what you will) attack any aspect of "conventional" politics that might expose and/or resist their hegemony.

I think it's time we recalled one of the most trenchant quotations from President Thomas Jefferson:

I have sworn upon the altar of god eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.

The progressive left and the corporate state exemplify that tyranny.  That reality, in turn, brings another Jefferson quotation to mind:

The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations.

Time for a little more of the former quote to combat the latter quote, methinks!


Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Was last week's synagogue siege an FBI "false flag" operation?


Sundance thinks it was.

In the Garland attack the FBI organized, facilitated and coordinated the attack. The FBI even drove the terrorists to the attack venue and then left once the shooting began. Yes, you read that correctly, the first ISIS attack on U.S. soil was organized by the FBI. {Go Deep} CTH dug deep on the 2015 Garland attack, so it wasn’t too difficult to spot the similarities between Garland 2015 and Colleyville 2022.

♦ Colleyville, Texas – Malik Faisal Akram, who was known as Faisal Akram, had a well known Islamic extremist history to British and American intelligence. Akram ranted, prior to his travel to the U.S, that he wished he had died in the 9/11 terror attacks. He was a regular visitor to Pakistan, and reportedly a member of the Tablighi Jamaat group set up to ‘purify’ Islam. To say the U.S. intelligence system knew Faisal Akram would be an understatement.  The FBI knowledge of Akram has now been confirmed by The Daily Mail.

So, the questions become: (1) how did Faisal Akram gain a visa to enter the United States? (2) Who did he visit?  (3) Who gave him the weapon?  (4) Who facilitated his travel and targeting operations; and lastly, (5) who financed and assisted him in his attack?

Unfortunately, the most obvious answer is just like the 2015 Garland example, the FBI was his enabler.

There's much more at the link.  I'll leave you to read Sundance's presentation for yourself.  It's disturbing, to say the least.  I note, too, that the analysis he cites as evidence of FBI involvement in the earlier Garland attack comes from a source that's anything but conservative or right-wing.

What do I think?  Well, considering my previously expressed opinion of the FBI, I won't be in the least surprised if Sundance is right.  The question is, what are we going to do about it?

I'm beginning to think that our next worthwhile Presidential candidate had better have something like "disband the FBI and disbar its agents from any future law enforcement positions" in his electoral platform, if he's to be credible to the vast majority of thinking Americans.


From Michael Yon, another reminder of why you should be stocking up


We've mentioned Michael Yon's calls to stock up on food and other essential supplies on several occasions in these pages.  Now he provides two images that illustrate the extent of the problem in most stores today.  Click either image for a larger view.

He calls it "commie stocking", and warns:

This is how they did it during my years in communists countries. Only it was 100x worse. We moving that direction week by week.

Stock. Up.

Couldn't agree more, as I've said in these pages many, many times.  If you haven't started building up a reserve supply of food yet, it may be too late for serious efforts, because things are getting worse, not better.  Nevertheless, better late than never.  Start now.

If you look around the Internet, you'll find plenty of images of store shelves that are either completely bare, or far less filled than they usually are.  It's nationwide.  It's not "hoarding" or "panic buying" to take heed of that reality, and do your best to insulate yourself and your family against it - it's common sense.


Memes that made me laugh 92


Gathered around the Internet over the past week or so.  Click any image for a larger view.

(A quick note:  Some readers are disappointed when the weekly Memes blog posts contains fewer images than usual [as is the case this week].  The reason is simple.  These posts are titled, "Memes that made me laugh".  Sadly, many memes [particularly political ones] simply aren't funny - they're nasty, designed to score political points, to hurt rather than amuse.  I deliberately avoid most [but not all] political memes here, funny or otherwise, because I respect the fact that my readers hold different opinions, and they have the right to have their opinions treated with respect.  Also, if a meme doesn't make me at least smile, it's also out of consideration.  I pick memes that seem funny to me, and those that are make the week's post.  If there aren't many of them, the post is shorter than usual.)

More next week.


Monday, January 17, 2022

Road trip today. Blogging will resume tomorrow.


I've spent the weekend with a group of other North Texas Troublemakers in Amarillo, doing research for future books and collaborating on marketing and advertising efforts.  Tomorrow (Monday) we'll be heading for home, traveling via Wellington in the Panhandle to visit the coffee shop of well-known cowboy chef Kent Rollins.

Sadly, having just got home from a great supper at Abuelo's in Amarillo, I won't have time to put up my regular blog posts.  I'll get back to blogging on Tuesday, including a new edition of Memes That Made Me Laugh.

While I'm on the road, please amuse yourselves with the bloggers in the sidebar.  They write good, too!


Sunday, January 16, 2022

Sunday morning music


Let's have a Baroque Sunday.  Here's British trumpet player Alison Balsom with Haydn's Trumpet Concerto in E flat major.

Remember - if it ain't Baroque - don't fix it!


Saturday, January 15, 2022

Saturday Snippet: The Merchantmen


We've met Rudyard Kipling several times in the pages of our Saturday Snippet excerpts.  I thought it was time for another of his poems.  This one's titled "The Merchantmen", from his collection "The Seven Seas", published in 1896.

King Solomon drew merchantmen,
Because of his desire
For peacocks, apes, and ivory,
From Tarshish unto Tyre:
With cedars out of Lebanon
Which Hiram rafted down,
But we be only sailormen
That use in London town.

Coastwise—cross-seas—round the world and back again—
Where the flaw shall head us or the full Trade suits—
Plain-sail—storm-sail—lay your board and tack again—
And that’s the way we’ll pay Paddy Doyle for his boots!

We bring no store of ingots,
Of spice or precious stones,
But that we have we gathered
With sweat and aching bones:
In flame beneath the tropics,
In frost upon the floe,
And jeopardy of every wind
That does between them go.

And some we got by purchase,
And some we had by trade,
And some we found by courtesy
Of pike and carronade,
At midnight, ’mid-sea meetings,
For charity to keep,
And light the rolling homeward-bound
That rode a foot too deep.

By sport of bitter weather
We’re walty, strained, and scarred
From the kentledge on the kelson
To the slings upon the yard.
Six oceans had their will of us
To carry all away—
Our galley’s in the Baltic,
And our boom’s in Mossel Bay!

We’ve floundered off the Texel,
Awash with sodden deals,
We’ve slipped from Valparaiso
With the Norther at our heels:
We’ve ratched beyond the Crossets
That tusk the Southern Pole,
And dipped our gunnels under
To the dread Agulhas roll.

Beyond all outer charting
We sailed where none have sailed,
And saw the land-lights burning
On islands none have hailed;
Our hair stood up for wonder,
But, when the night was done,
There danced the deep to windward
Blue-empty ’neath the sun!

Strange consorts rode beside us
And brought us evil luck;
The witch-fire climbed our channels,
And danced on vane and truck:
Till, through the red tornado,
That lashed us nigh to blind,
We saw The Dutchman plunging,
Full canvas, head to wind!

We’ve heard the Midnight Leadsman
That calls the black deep down—
Ay, thrice we’ve heard The Swimmer,
The Thing that may not drown.
On frozen bunt and gasket
The sleet-cloud drave her hosts,
When, manned by more than signed with us,
We passed the Isle o’ Ghosts!

And north, amid the hummocks,
A biscuit-toss below,
We met the silent shallop
That frighted whalers know;
For, down a cruel ice-lane,
That opened as he sped,
We saw dead Henry Hudson Steer,
North by West, his dead.

So dealt God’s waters with us
Beneath the roaring skies,
So walked His signs and marvels
All naked to our eyes:
But we were heading homeward
With trade to lose or make—
Good Lord, they slipped behind us
In the tailing of our wake!

Let go, let go the anchors;
Now shamed at heart are we
To bring so poor a cargo home
That had for gift the sea!
Let go the great bow-anchors—
Ah, fools were we and blind—
The worst we baled with utter toil,
The best we left behind!

Coastwise—cross-seas—round the world and back again,
Whither the flaw shall fail us or the Trades drive down:
Plain-sail—storm-sail—lay your board and tack again—
And all to bring a cargo up to London Town!

What a magnificent gift he had, to make mere words conjure up a whole world before the eyes of our mind!


Friday, January 14, 2022

"I don't need a gun. You need a gun because of men like me."


My thanks to Miguel at Gun Free Zone for republishing this gem from an earlier Facebook conversation.

A couple years ago I was working security at a bar in northern Virginia. I overheard a table of college kids arguing about gun rights and gun control and it was getting far too emotional so I did what any sane combat veteran would do and attempted to exfiltrate. I must not have withdrawn as surreptitiously as I intended, because I was stopped in my tracks when a 5-foot-nothing brunette seemingly leapt in front of me and blurted out “excuse me, can you help us?”

I’m sure I must have looked irritated as I cycled through the possible quips and excuses I considered available to me but being uncertain that she wasn’t some Senator’s daughter, I caved: “What’s up?”

She basically leads me to this table of 2 other females (probably both named Karen) and a very soft looking male.

Becky: “So, we were just talking about current events and, you know. So, you look like you’re probably in the military, right? Like the Army?”

(When you accuse someone of being in the military you probably don’t need to give an example.)

Me: “Similar.. yea”

Becky: “Right. Okay. So, do you think civilians should be allowed to own guns?”

Me: “Most of us. Yes.”

Becky: (clearly not happy with my answer) “Okay, so, why do you think you need a gun?”

(At this point it’s almost 2am and I’ve just given up on patience. Hold my beer.)

(With intentionally overt condescension): “Oh, honey, I don’t. I don’t need a gun.”

Becky stares at me blankly, so I continue, but with a more serious tone:

“I could follow you home, walk up your driveway, and beat you to death with the daily newspaper.

I could choke you to death with that purse.

I could take a credit card, break it in half, and cut your throat open with it.

With enough time and effort I could beat your boyfriend here with a rolled up pair of socks.

I could probably dream up six dozen other ways I could easily end your life if you gave me an hour or so.

If I wanted to, I could wrap my hand around that beer mug and kill all four of you before you could make it to the exit. The worst part is, in your utopian little fantasyland, there ain’t a thing any of you could do about it.

I don’t need a gun.

You need a gun.

You need a gun because of men like me.”

True dat.

When teaching disabled shooters, as I did for many years, I used to emphasize that point.  You don't need a gun because of you:  you need it because of the weirdos, whackos and just plain evil people out there.  They make it necessary, not some inner twisted Rambo-like fixation in ourselves.  However, some people just can't seem to grasp that reality.

Tangentially related to that subject, I have nothing against the 9mm. Luger and .38 Special cartridges.  I own and carry several firearms that shoot them, and I have confidence that, properly applied, they'll do a decent job of self-defense.  However, I've recently heard of several cases (close to double figures) where individuals who were drunk or hopped-up on some or other illegal narcotic(s) exhibited extreme reluctance to stop attacking someone.  Although hit several times in vital organs by 9mm. or .38 Special rounds, injuries severe enough that should have been stopped in their tracks, they kept up the attack until blood loss caused them to fall down.  In the process, they inflicted severe injury on their victims.

No matter how popular smaller rounds may be, let's not forget that bigger, heavier, faster rounds do get the job done with greater reliability than their lesser brethren, particularly when the latter are fired out of short barrels that don't allow them to gain sufficient velocity to be sure of expansion and/or penetration.  I wrote some time ago about "Defensive ammunition when you can't use hollowpoints".  The criteria I used in that article also apply to situations where your carry gun can't get a smaller round moving fast enough to guarantee its expansion.  That's why I carry Buffalo Bore full wadcutter .38 Special rounds in my snubbies chambered for that cartridge.  They don't have to expand to carve a full-caliber wound channel, which is actually better performance than most .38 hollowpoints will deliver out of sub-2" barrels.

When dealing with drunk or drugged opponents, there's a very strong case to be made for bigger, heavier bullets, even at the expense of carrying them in a slightly larger, heavier, harder-to-conceal handgun.  I continue to carry .44 Special snubbies on a regular basis in my winter coat pockets, and I have great confidence in that round.  I'm also seriously considering whether it isn't time to re-evaluate the hard-kicking (but also hard-hitting) 10mm. Auto round.  It has heavy recoil in carry-size guns, which puts off many shooters;  but when dealing with hopped-up attackers, who may be wrapped in thick winter clothing, there's a lot to be said for its performance on impact.  I'll be putting the round through its paces in a forthcoming test, to see whether it's harder for me to handle in my 60's than it was in my 40's, particularly in compact carry guns.  I'll let you know what I find.


A superb illustration of wake turbulence from the world's biggest aircraft


We've spoken in the past about wake turbulence:  "a disturbance in the atmosphere that forms behind an aircraft as it passes through the air. It includes various components, the most important of which are wingtip vortices and jetwash."  Some sources refer to it as wake vortex.

The sole example of the world's biggest operational aircraft, the Antonov An-225 Mriya, recently landed at Rzeszów in Poland, making its approach through thick low-level fog.  As it passed over observers waiting for it on the outskirts of the airfield, its enormous size generated enough wake turbulence to completely clear a path through the fog behind it, showing very clearly why it's dangerous to fly too close behind such super-large aircraft.

Wake vortex separation is a standard applied by air traffic control to regulate how far behind such aircraft others may safely fly.  The bigger the aircraft, the greater the safety distance required.  For example, a small aircraft following something like the An-225 would have to maintain a minimum separation of no less than 8 nautical miles (approximately 9.2 standard miles or 14.73 kilometers) behind it.  Looking at that video, one can understand why!


So much for the security of rail freight...


If you've wondered why some of your parcels and packages, traveling by rail for part of their journey, haven't arrived . . . wonder no longer.  John Schreiber has posted a thread on Twitter, complete with videos and images, that uncovers a huge theft problem as trains pass through certain areas.  I'd like to know how many similar areas exist in other parts of the country.

For convenience, here's part of Mr. Schreiber's thread from Threadreader.

Keep hearing of train burglaries in LA on the scanner so went to #LincolnHeights to see it all. And… there’s looted packages as far as the eye can see. Amazon packages, @UPS boxes, unused Covid tests, fishing lures, epi pens. Cargo containers left busted open on trains. @CBSLA 

I’m told by law enforcement these @UPS bags are especially sought after by thieves opening cargo containers… they are often full of boxes with merchandise bound for residential addresses. More valuable than say, a cargo container full of low value bulky items like toilet paper. 

This opened package from @REI destined for Bainbridge Island, WA was taken off a train. Typing in the @UPS tracking # and it obviously lists it as “delayed.” We found lots of opened packages bound for the Northwest along this section of tracks.

As you can see, trains frequently slow or stop in this area as they get worked into the @UnionPacific Intermodal facility near Downtown LA. The thieves use this opportunity to break open containers and take what’s inside. I’d say every 4th or 5th rail car had opened containers. 

Missing a package? Shipment delayed? Maybe your package is among the thousands we found discarded along the tracks. This is but one area thieves have targeted trains. We were told this area was just cleaned up 30 days ago so what you see is all within the last month. @CBSLA

There's more at the link, including several videos and images.  It looks like Mr. Schreiber took a small drone with him to photograph the resulting mess from the air.

I understand law enforcement on railroad property is the responsibility of the railroad rather than local police.  If so, why aren't they doing more to stop this?  I'm sure thousands of customers whose packages have gone missing would love to know . . .


Thursday, January 13, 2022

"Industry 4.0"? Not so fast...


ASE Global has sponsored an interesting infographic at Visual Capitalist, explaining what the next generation of manufacturing will look like.  It calls it "Industry 4.0".  Here's a screenshot of part of it.  Click the image for a larger view.

It looks very impressive . . . but it ignores a fundamental aspect of this "evolution" - namely, its utter dependence on a stable power supply and a stable Internet.

Our power supply is increasingly unstable, thanks to reliance on "renewable" energy such as solar or wind power.  A windless day, or a cloudy day, or a winter freeze that disables wind turbines (short or long-term), and all that electric generation capability is shut down.  Existing fossil- and nuclear-fueled power stations are being closed down, and not being replaced by similarly reliable generating capacity.  We saw how perilously close the entire Texas power grid came to total, long-term collapse in February 2021.  I'm willing to bet we're going to see the same again, and perhaps even worse, in the not too distant future.  If the worst happens, what does that mean for Industry 4.0?  It means it shuts down, and stays down, because reliable power supplies will no longer be available.

The same is true of the Internet.  Just look at how problems at Amazon Web Services, the biggest service provider of its kind in the USA, crippled many companies last month.  If the entire Internet shuts down (as it will if the power goes down, or if other major interruptions such as an EMP event occur), Industry 4.0 is toast too.

It's all very well to hype up the wonderful prospects of the new, improved industrial complex . . . but if there's no power and no Internet, the old Industry 2.0 and 3.0 will be sorely missed.  There needs to be a lot more thought put into that, and serious pre-emptive restructuring of our power grid, before Industry 4.0 will be trustworthy.


Red hot lover???


I had to laugh out loud when I read this report.

According to various reports circulating online, the chart-topping rapper Drake is alleged to have utilized a rather unique method to prevent fans and groupies from stealing his sperm after doing the proverbial deed by putting hot sauce inside of his used condoms.

And apparently, a woman who’d learned of this practice allegedly learned the hard way by trying to do the very thing this alleged practice was meant to deter – via her trying to insert the expelled condom inside of her. This woman is allegedly threatening to sue the rapper for her injuries.

There's more at the link.

I wasn't aware that this is apparently a thing:  nubile women catch the eye of a celebrity, induce him to have sex with them, and then deliberately try to fall pregnant by inserting his used condom, hoping for a big child support payout if they succeed.  Clearly, I've led a sheltered life.

In this case, since that's very clearly what this woman was trying to do, I can only say that she deserves all the pain she got.  If she sues him, I hope he counter-sues for attempted fraud and anything else his lawyers can think of.

Meanwhile, what hot sauce is best for that application?  Suggestions in Comments, please.  With tongue firmly in cheek, I think this one might do:


"Wood, Iron, and Blood" is published!


I'm very pleased to announce that my latest book, the first in a new Western series called "The Annals of Ash", has been published.  It's titled "Wood, Iron, and Blood".

The e-book edition is already available, while the print edition is going through Amazon's approval process.  It may be available later today, or by the weekend at the latest.

If you're interested in reading a sample snippet from the book, I published one last weekend.  Click here to read it.

The blurb reads:

Sometimes wanderlust skips a generation... but when it strikes, it strikes gold.

In 1852, fourteen-year-old Jeremy Ash rises to his grandfather's challenge and sets out on the adventure of a lifetime – the California Trail.

It's four deadly months and 1,600 merciless miles from the Missouri River to the goldfields of the Sierra Nevada. There's alkali water that'll poison you; desert heat that'll fry your brains; mountain passes that'll crush you; swarms of biting insects that'll drive you mad; deadly diseases that'll plague you; and warrior tribes that may make it lethally clear they don't want you there.

Will the California Trail kill Jeremy, like so many others before him? Or will it make a man out of him?

I think this may be my best Western yet (and no, I don't mean the hotel!).  I drew on a great deal of the research I've done for my first Western series, the Ames Archives, in the process of producing this one, and I'll be doing more of that for future books in both series.

Once again, please, please leave an honest review once you've read the book.  Reviews are literally bread and butter to authors who sell through Amazon and similar outlets:  they tell prospective readers whether the book is likely to interest them or not, and help motivate further sales.  A simple numerical rating is also helpful, but a review with a bit more "meat on the bone" is even better.  As a starving author, I rely heavily on you, dear readers, to help me starve a little less through your reviews!  Thanks in advance.

I hope you enjoy reading the book as much as I've enjoyed writing it.


Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Antifa hasn't gone away - they're more organized than ever


Divemedic provides some very useful intelligence on Antifa's level of organization.

The particular unit he seems to have been affiliated with is the Florida Youth Liberation Front. The Front claims to have chapters in Oregon, Washington, California, Florida, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, New York, and Washington, DC, as well as in Canada. The Washington state version of the Front is known to have been around since 2018. The Florida chapter was formed in 2020.

They appear to be centrally controlled at the national level, and the different chapters coordinate their actions. The Portland chapter provides training for members of other chapters.

Their online presence is hosted by This webpage is set up for insurgent groups. This platform caters to far-left causes, stating that it exists for the purpose of “connecting radical people.”

They use the crowdfunding platform GiveButter to collect donations. They use the messaging app Telegram to communicate, and include instructions on how to setup an anonymous account on their blog. Email is handled through

Their Twitter feed is not open to the public, but Twitter seems to have no problem allowing a group that advocates for violence, as long as that group is on the left.

One common theme I found on every site is the desire for the violent overthrow of government. I don’t understand how these guys’ meetings aren’t attended by a dozen cops. Every other criminal enterprise in the nation has been infiltrated to the point where they have more cops than real members, but these guys? This HAS to indicate some kind of government support. Reading the group’s website, and especially their “ezine” is fairly instructive.

The Front is broken down into smaller “affinity groups,” who operate at the local level. These groups participate in sabotage, vandalism, and other violent acts, which they call “direct actions.” This is a classic cell structure that has proven to be quite effective.

Other Antifa-affiliated groups claim they are not connected to YLF, but other left-wing extremist groups have shared the Front’s propaganda on social media, and YLF shares their propaganda and event announcements. The wording, images, and tactics are similar enough to indicate a common controlling entity at some level.

The Front explicitly discourages peaceful protest. In June 2020, the Front advised protesters that they “can never be peaceful” if it means complying with police demands.

There's more at the link, including links to the Web sites of many of the organizations he references.

I think we owe Divemedic a vote of thanks for the amount of work he did to put this together.  It's very valuable intelligence, and all of us who may encounter Antifa and their ilk in our areas should be studying it, following the links he provides, and figuring out who the individuals and organizations are that we should be keeping an eye on (and preparing to act against if necessary).

Forewarned is forearmed.


"We have lost control of the southwest border"


That's what Mark Morgan claims.  He's a former acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

“What we’re experiencing now on the southwest border is a complete, utter catastrophe ... We have lost control of the southwest border.”

During the 2021 calendar year, Border Patrol agents apprehended close to 2 million illegal immigrants from 150 different countries along the southwest border—more than double 2019, the last pre-pandemic year, according to CBP data.

Last year, Border Patrol agents detected but didn’t catch an additional 600,000 illegal border crossers, known as “gotaways,” Morgan said.

“That’s the equivalent to the size of the state of Vermont,” he said. “Think about the bad people that are in that 600,000 that got away.”

. . .

Although the public’s main focus is on illegal immigration numbers, Morgan said that’s just a subset of border security.

“When you open your borders up to one threat, one crisis, it’s not mutually exclusive from the others—you’re opening your borders up to the vast set of complex threats that we face,” he said.

“Anytime you’re so overwhelmed that you can’t perform the fundamental national security mission to secure our borders, the result is that every aspect of our nation’s public health, public safety, and national security is being impacted.”

The record numbers in 2021 occurred during a year in which many Americans, under the backdrop of a pandemic, faced vaccine mandates, work-from-home orders, and school closures.

Overcrowded border facilities were unable to test everyone for COVID-19, resulting in the release of illegal immigrants with the disease into communities. In July 2021, the city of Laredo sued the Biden administration for releasing a “flood” of illegal immigrants into Laredo, causing “irreparable harm.”

. . .

Morgan predicts the southwest border metrics will continue to worsen through 2022.

“There’s no end in sight. There’s none. And this administration, every single day, everything they’re doing is just to get better at releasing people. They’re not trying to stop the flow.”

. . .

Morgan accused Mayorkas of creating a “sanctuary country” for illegal immigrants, allowing them to come in and then shielding them from deportation.

“They’re trying to totally demolish ICE and make illegal immigration legal,” Morgan said, referring to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“Everything that they’re doing is making our border less secure and our country less safe.”

Morgan said he believes the open border policies are an intentional move toward more Democratic House seats through redistricting, now that illegal immigrants are counted in the Census. In addition, they expect illegal immigrants to eventually vote Democrat.

Republicans are also complicit, he said, because they still believe this country needs the illegal workforce.

“But there is a true marginalized American workforce that’s out there that’s having to compete with companies paying lower wages to illegal immigrants. That’s real,” Morgan said.

There's more at the link.

Given the parlous state of US voters rolls (see previous article), one wonders how many of these illegal aliens will wind up casting ballots in 2022 and 2024 . . .

This is, of course, nothing more or less than an officially sanctioned invasion.  It would be nice to think that those responsible will face criminal prosecution and punishment for the way they've undermined the security of the United States - but that's a pipe-dream.  They've gotten away with it so far, and they're determined to continue.  Just think - 2.6 million illegal aliens made it into this country last year.  If they keep up this pace, in the four years of a Biden Administration we'll see more than ten million illegal aliens admitted to this country, enough to change voting patterns for decades to come.  Their motivation is obvious.

The question is, what are those of us who value our constitution and the rule of law going to do about it?  So far, we've done precious little.  We have to organize, to establish and empower and fund active, effective opposition to this, up to and including doing the job of securing our borders if our government won't - but nobody's willing to face up to that reality.  It's long gone time somebody did.  I'm doing what I can with what I have, but that's a private effort.  We need some of our national figures to tackle this publicly, and not to let up on it.

For all his faults, President Trump had very effective border policies.  What if he were to throw his weight, and the weight of his followers, behind such an effort?