Tuesday, August 16, 2022

When to stay and when to go?


My three part series of articles last week on "Updating and Revising our Approach to Self-Defense" has sparked e-correspondence with several readers.  A common question from those in big cities, particularly those that have experienced, or are at high risk for, urban unrest, riots and looting, is "How will I know when it's time to get out, rather than just hunkering down and hoping for the best?"

My simple answer is that if you wait to figure that out, the odds of doing so correctly and in good time are very poor indeed!  Historically, all over the world, those who waited until the last minute to "get out of Dodge" fared very badly.  Many didn't make it before being caught up in the trouble they were trying to avoid.  Those who did make it often found the facilities and support networks they hoped to use at their destinations had already been stretched to breaking point by earlier refugees, so that there was very little (sometimes nothing) left for them.  Some found that bad guys had "bugged out" along with good guys, and brought their criminal, anti-social, violent tendencies with them.  Houston after Hurricane Katrina provides a useful example.  There are many others around the world.

I've said for several years in these pages that if you live in big cities that are at risk for that sort of crime and violence, you should leave immediately if at all possible, and move somewhere safer.  As far as I'm concerned, that's now become essential.  Hard times are coming to our cities.  Crime and violence have already increased out of all recognition, and will continue to do so;  and the authorities have already demonstrated that they're powerless to prevent that.  Some of them don't want to - they encourage the mob, because they derive their power from whipping up racial, ethnic and cultural tensions, then exploiting them.  They call it "identity politics".  I call it criminal irresponsibility at the very least.

If you absolutely can't relocate, for whatever reason(s) seem good to you, I can only advise you to plan your exit now, while there's still time.  This will include having the necessary supplies packed and ready for every member of your family as individuals, and for the group as a whole.  On her blog yesterday, Sarah Hoyt put up a guest post describing various types and sizes of "bug-out bags" (BOB's).  I highly recommend that you click over there and read it in full.  The author did a pretty good job of summarizing the essentials.  I also second his recommendation for small, pullable wagons if you're bugging out on foot (a last-ditch procedure, let it be said).  His recommendation of Lehman's wagons is good;  as an alternative close to hand, consider Harbor Freight's garden wagon, which can haul a pretty respectable load and is several hundred dollars cheaper than the high-end Lehman's offering.  You can build a wooden superstructure for it quite easily.  (Remember to buy spare tires and an air pump!)

I'd place greater emphasis on weapons than he does.  Just look at the crime and violence all around us!  It's getting worse by the day.  You're very likely to need to defend yourself, your family and your belongings against aggression from others who want what you've got, or are looking to beat down anyone of the "wrong" racial group.  You'd better harden your heart right now to the fact that you may have to employ potentially lethal force to stop them - but you can't do that unless you're armed, equipped and trained to do so.  Go read that three part article series of mine again (links above), and take it very, very seriously.  I strongly (very strongly!) suggest that every adult or older teen member of your family/group should have a handgun and a long gun, and know how to use them.  They're no longer luxuries.  They're necessities.

As to when to bug out, Matt Bracken offered this advice on Gab.  As a former US Navy SEAL, he knows his subject matter.

Only a few scenarios would result in a simultaneous national collapse. A nuclear missile attack, an EMP attack, a giant solar flare, etc.

Otherwise, the collapse will unfold and spread unevenly. Sri Lanka was an early warning.

We may see hyperinflation or a deflationary depression or even both (really bad stagflation). But when a large percentage of Americans cannot 1. pay their rent/mortgage 2. fill their cars to commute to work (if they still have jobs) 3. Buy groceries to feed their families, that's when TSHTF will kick off.

The poor inner cities will suffer first and worst, so SHTF will happen there initially. Then, expect urban supermarkets and drugstores to be looted to their bare shelves. They will not be restocked. The EBT system will not magically repair the stores, provide security, and put food back on the shelves. This will happen unevenly in a few big cities first. Maybe [your city], maybe not. The regional power grid and supply chain situations will determine which cities collapse first.

But when the supermarket looting just keeps going, spreading and expanding from city to city and then out into their suburbs, it’s time to bug out, [if that is your plan.]

This collapse will not self-correct. Not even martial law will be able to fix what will be happening. [Think Humpty-Dumpty and the powerlessness of all the King's men.] But martial law may prevent you from bugging out if you wait too long. That is, you may be forced to stay in your local area by LE and NG roadblocks and checkpoints.

So if bugging out is your plan, do so when the supermarkets begin to be looted to the bare shelves for food in your state, and they are not restocked, and the looting begins to spread toward your city. Or, if you are "bugging in," initiate your neighborhood self defense plan, according to Jack Lawson's "A Failure of Civility" and "The Civil Defense Manual."

Matt's also written a cautionary, fictional short story titled "When The Music Stops – How America’s Cities May Explode In Violence".  Click over there to read it for yourself.  I fear he may be right.

As for Jack Lawson's "The Civil Defense Manual", I endorsed it myself in these pages a few months ago.  It's an excellent compilation of advice and hard-learned lessons about almost all the circumstances surrounding civil emergencies and societal collapse.  Highly recommended reading:  and if the price puts you off, ask yourself what your life's worth.  Having been a Sector Civil Defense Officer in one of the more violent and crime-ridden cities in the world, I speak from experience when I say that I consider it a worthwhile investment.

For myself, bugging out is not an option.  I'm too old, broke and slow to be able to cope with that, and my physical restrictions (I'm partly disabled) mean that isn't about to change.  Miss D. and I will be "bugging in", and preparing to defend what's ours against anyone and everyone who decides it should be his/hers/theirs.  I can be very persuasive about that, if I need to be.


EDITED TO ADD:  Don't miss an excellent case study in how to assess the readiness/suitability of a suburban home for a SHTF situation, over at American Partisan - Part One and Part Two.  It's well worth reading.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Is this the most over-the-top fight scene ever?


The Telugu action movie RRR is the latest thing out of India, and it's making waves in this country too after Netflix bought the US broadcast rights.  I think this fight scene is perhaps the weirdest and most over-the-top I've ever seen!

It's not the only over-the-top scene, either.  How about this dance number?

I won't watch anything on Netflix, thanks to that channel's disgusting and obscene sexualization of young children.  However, I'll watch for this movie on DVD.  It looks like fun.


Why are so many vegetarians/vegans so militant?


I was driven to ask this question by an article in the Telegraph in London.

An award-winning cafe has at hit out at “holier-than-thou” vegan customers saying they shouldn’t have to adapt their menu to “suit” customers who don’t eat animal products.

The Kitchen at London House on the Isle of Wight went online to defend itself against “nasty” and “bullying” vegans who were outraged at their decision to refuse to cater to their diets.

Addressing its critics, it said: “If you want vegan food, go to a vegan restaurant.”

The popular high street restaurant in Ventnor said that though it used to serve some vegan food, they decided to stop because of a “militant minority” that spoilt it for the majority.

. . .

One user commented: “No vegan mains!!” to which the restaurant responded: “No!”

After responding to and defending their new menu choices, another user replied saying they were “trying your best to play the victim here”.

But others supported the restaurant’s decision, with one user telling disgruntled vegans, Nice to see vegetarian[s] catered for rather than being lumped in with the tasteless vegan nonsense that some slop up” and another writing: “Can’t wait to come visit”.

Just three days after their post announcing the menu, The Kitchen at London house wrote another post lamenting the “bullying” comments they received and explaining why they had stopped catering for “holier-than-thou” vegans.

. . .

“We have in the past catered for vegans. Everything from Vegan cream teas, even had special Vegan bacon made so they could enjoy BLT’s amongst other things.

“We stopped. Why? Because we got fed up with the arrogant, ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude.”

Sally Cooper, the bistro owner who wrote the Facebook post, said that she made the decision to stop catering to vegans after staff started to get abused.

There's more at the link (may disappear behind a paywall).

I saw something of this in my younger days.  I used to patronize a couple of vegetarian restaurants in Cape Town, South Africa, not because I was vegetarian, but because they served really good, tasty food that I enjoyed.  (Mushroom stroganoff, made with four varieties of mushroom in a rich, creamy sauce, served over wild rice pilaf... mmmmm!!!)  However, I couldn't help but notice some of the patrons got all snippy when they heard others comparing the vegetarian dishes to equivalents with meat.  It was as if we'd committed some sin against purity and the One True Way by endorsing meat as a viable choice.  Since coming to the USA a quarter of a century ago, I've seen it get steadily worse.  There are some vegans who reject you as a person, as a human being, if you dare let a morsel of meat pass your lips.  I know - I've met them.  One was horrified that I could "describe myself" as a pastor when I ate "the meat of the lambs of God" (no, I'm not joking) and enjoyed it.  Oy!

Does anyone have any idea why vegans and (some) vegetarians should be so hard-line about their dietary choices?  After all, it's not as if meat-eaters are forcing them to choke down a steak every week or two.  I don't mind what anybody eats, so long as wherever possible, it's sanitary and healthy.  Why shouldn't they do the same?

I'm thinking seriously of giving an award to the next such militant vegans I meat (you should pardon the expression).  I'll hang a medal(lion) (of lamb) around their necks!  (Cooked, of course - and I'll even garnish it with garlic and mint sauce!)


Memes that made me laugh 121


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

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Sunday morning music


Courtesy of Spin, Strangeness and Charm, here's an entire album of piano sonatas by Baroque composer Domenico Scarlatti.  It's an excellent recording of a very skilled musician, Wolfram Schmitt-Leonardy, at work.  Enjoy!

Beautifully played, sir!


Saturday, August 13, 2022

Saturday Snippet: Eerily prescient


In my comments about the raid on President Trump earlier this week, I said:

I believe we have never been closer to the outbreak of Civil War 2.0 than we are right now.  May God prevent it, if that's still possible.

I've seen nothing since writing those words to make me change my mind.  Indeed, the constant dribble of excuses, obfuscations and quasi-justifications coming out of Washington D.C. make me even more certain of that.

An author using the name John Ross (which I'm told was a pseudonym, although I don't know for sure) wrote a novel back in the 1990's called "Unintended Consequences".  It dealt with the increasing overreach of the Federal government, particularly concerning firearms and gun rights, and described a citizen's revolt against them.  It was fiction, of course, but very heavily based on historical fact.  It sold tens of thousands of copies in paper editions, but has been long out of print.

It's been vilified by the liberal wing of US politics and social culture, and the progressive left has described it as "subversive" and "pro-terrorism".  It certainly is subversive to a statist culture, and it certainly does describe terrorism - but only as a response to overbearing statism directed against constitutionalists and free citizens.  Having had all too much up-close-and-personal experience with terrorism in my own life, I don't support its perspective on that:  but I do accept that there are times and places and countries where those subjected to such pressures have no other choice but to hit back in any way still open to them.  That applies to left- and right-wing causes across the board.  Push too hard, and you get push-back.  Push violently, and you get violent push-back.  As Newton's Third Law of Motion tells us, "To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction".  He meant that in terms of physics.  It holds true in politics as well.

John Ross died earlier this year.  He had apparently just finished a sequel to 'Unintended Consequences';  I've seen a working title of 'Cold Resolve' mentioned on an Internet forum.  His publisher is said to intend to bring it out within a year.  Meanwhile, in 2009 Mr. Ross lifted copyright protection from his first book, so you can now download a free e-copy of 'Unintended Consequences' from several sources, including the Internet Archive in various formats.  If you haven't yet read it, I highly recommend doing so.  It's not comfortable or easy to read, but looking at the situation in the United States today, I fear - I greatly fear - that it may be prescient.

To give you a foretaste of the book, here's the author's foreword.  It illustrates the reasons he wrote it, and the mindset from which he approached it.  I thought of publishing an actual excerpt from the book, but its length (well over 700 pages) and complexity almost defy one to choose any particular piece of it for isolated reading.  I hope the foreword will suffice to whet your appetite.

Author's Note—A Warning and Disclaimer

A friend in law enforcement told me that because of this book's content, I should not let it be published under my own name. Violent events happen in this story, and our country's current situation is such that these events could indeed come to pass. My friend's fear was that this book might precipitate such violence. He told me to expect to have drugs planted in my car during routine traffic stops, or have other similar miseries befall me and my family. He advised that if I did have this work published, I should use a pseudonym, employ an intermediary for all publisher contact, and in general prevent myself from being linked to the finished work, to avoid reprisals.

I didn't do that, not only because of free speech considerations, but because I disagree with my friend's hypothesis. I believe that if the instigators glimpse what may lie ahead, they will alter their behavior before wholesale violence becomes unavoidable. It is my hope that this book will reduce the likelihood of armed conflict in this country.

History has shown us that government leaders often ignore the fundamental fact that people demand both dignity and freedom. Because of this disregard, these decision-makers then initiate acts that are ultimately self-destructive. To illustrate this point I will remind the reader of the origin of two of modern history's most destructive events, and of all the warning flags that were frantically waving while the instigators rushed headlong towards the abyss.

In the late 19th and very early 20th centuries, European leaders formed two major alliances. Germany, Austria, and Italy comprised one coalition, and Britain, France, and Russia the other. Belgium remained neutral per an 1839 treaty signed by all of these nations except Italy. The smaller European countries became indirectly involved in the two aforementioned alliances. One such example was Serbia, a country Russia had pledged to aid in the event of war between Serbia and Austria. Despite Russia's presence, Austria annexed a large part of Serbia, a province called Bosnia, in 1908.

Few people remain emotionally indifferent when their culture and country are taken over by an aggressor, and the Bosnian Serbs were no exception. Many Bosnians despised the government that had chilled their independence. In spite of this obvious fact, the Austrian leaders sent an archduke to the capital of Bosnia to survey the people Austria now ruled. This archduke was resplendent in full military ceremonial dress, festooned with medals and other military decorations, and accompanied by his elegantly-dressed wife. An objective observer might at this point have said, "Stripping motivated people of their dignity and rubbing their noses in it is a very bad idea."

Archduke Ferdinand and his wife arrived in Sarajevo in an open vehicle, and the only protection either of them had was their chauffeur. This man was expected to drive the car and at the same time protect the Archduke and his wife with only a six-shot revolver he carried in an enclosed holster, and no spare ammunition. Our theoretical observer might here have said, "This is a recipe for disaster."

Almost as soon as the Archduke and his wife arrived in Sarajevo, a Serbian National tossed a bomb under their car. Its fuse was defective and the bomb did not explode. Here, our observer might have advised, "A miracle happened. Go home. Now. Immediately."

Despite this obvious wake-up call, the Royal Couple shrugged off the assassination attempt and continued their tour of the Bosnian capital. Later that same day, a second Serbian National shot them with his .32, killing them both. The Austrian leaders blamed the Serbian government for the assassination and demanded a virtual protectorate over Serbia, issuing Serbia a list of demands. Serbia acceded to all but one of Austria's stipulations. Here, our observer might have said to Austria's leaders, "Russia has pledged to aid Serbia in any war with you, and Russia has both powerful allies and powerful adversaries. Serbia has agreed to almost everything you demanded. Settle, and avoid a world war." Instead, Austria shelled Serbia's capital with artillery fire.

Our observer might here have told Russia's leaders, "Serbia is not worth starting a world war over," but Russia honored its commitment to Serbia and mobilized its army, sending troops to the Russian-Austrian border. Since this left Russia vulnerable to attack from Austria's ally Germany, the Russian Army mobilized against Germany as well.

This forced the German Army to mobilize. Since France was allied with Russia, the Germans feared an attack by France in the west while German troops went east. So Germany decided to invade France immediately, VIA Belgium. Here, our observer might have said, "Saying this is your 'destiny' is not going to be good enough, Germany. When you invade a neutral country and rape their women and slaughter their livestock and bum their houses, Britain is not going to just look the other way."

When the Germans invaded Belgium, Britain honored its commitment to defend Belgian neutrality, and declared war on Germany. Every major country in Europe was now at war.

Four years later, over thirty million people were dead, half of them killed directly in the war itself, and the rest so weakened through shortage of food and medicines that they succumbed to the influenza epidemic. In addition to the lives lost, the war's monetary cost in 1918 was almost three hundred billion dollars.

No sooner had the war ended than the victors demanded their pound of flesh at the Treaty of Versailles. The treaty required Germany to accept sole responsibility for causing the war. It dictated that German military leaders were to be tried as war criminals. It prohibited the German army from possessing heavy artillery. It abolished the General Staff and the German air force, and prohibited Germany from producing military aircraft. As in 1914, our observer might have said, "Stripping motivated people of their dignity and rubbing their noses in it is a very bad idea." But if such words were in fact uttered, they fell on deaf ears. A humiliated Germany was ripe for the nationalist message of Adolf Hitler, and in this fertile soil were planted the seeds of the Second World War.

Today in America, honest, successful, talented, productive, motivated people are once again being stripped of their freedom and dignity and having their noses rubbed in it. The conflict has been building for over half a century, and once again warning flags are frantically waving while the instigators rush headlong towards the abyss, and their doom.

It is my hope that these people will stop and reverse their course before they reach the point where such reversal is no longer possible.

John Ross

September 1995

I believe the (fictional) internal conflict that John Ross foresaw for the USA back in 1995 is perilously close to becoming a reality in 2022.  The reasons are more varied and complex than he predicted almost thirty years ago, but the outcome is likely to be very similar.  I hope and pray that doesn't happen, because I've seen civil war and internal conflict in several nations and know how absolutely, genuinely horrific it can be for those caught up in it.  However, those pushing to impose their views and policies on the rest of the country appear blind to that reality.  They simply won't leave people alone.  They're imposing their views and insisting that the people of this country "get with the program" - or else.  (To cite just one current example, adding 87,000 people to the IRS is not about more efficient functioning of that agency.  It's about picking on dissenters and making their lives unbearable, just as the IRS did when it was "weaponized" under the Obama administration.  Expect the same thing today as then, only on steroids.)

I hope John Ross's vision of what might happen in the USA may never come to pass . . . but I fear that may be a pipe dream.  Read his novel for yourself.  It seems eerily prescient in many ways.


Friday, August 12, 2022



I laughed out loud while reading an account of an innocent academic, thrust headlong into the sturm und drang of theoretical debate over Edgar Allan Poe's horror stories and whether they're racist or not.  It's a series of screenshots captured by an Imgur user, so I can't transcribe them all here;  you'll have to click over there to read it.  Here's a brief sample.

so my professor sits down to watch this panel and within like five minutes a bunch of crusty academics get super heated about poe's theoretical racism.  because it's academia, though, this is limited to poorly concealed passive aggression and forceful tones of inside voice.  one professor is like "this isn't even about race!" and another professor is like "this proves he's a racist!"  people are interrupting each other.  tensions are rising.  a panelist starts saying that poe is like writing a critique of how racist society was, and the racist stuff is there to prove that racism is stupid, and that on a metaphorical level the racist philosophy always loses -

then my professor, perhaps in a bid to prove that he too is a smart literature person, loudly calls:  "BUT WHAT ABOUT THE ORANGUTAN?"

There's more at the link.  Click over there for a very amusing portrayal of "much ado about nothing" - academic version.


"Why Did the DOJ and FBI Execute the Raid on Trump?"


That's the series title of four articles you'll find at the Conservative Treehouse.  They're very long and detailed, so much so that I won't even try to excerpt them here.  The four are:

Part 1 - The Story Behind the Documents

Part 2 - The Evidence Within the Documents

Part 3 - A Culmination of Four Years of Threats and Betrayals

Sundance offers these considerations (in the fourth article) about why the raid was mounted.

In short, President Trump declassified documents that show how the institutions within the U.S. government targeted him.  However, the institutions that illegally targeted President Trump are the same institutions who control the specific evidence of their unlawful targeting.

These examples of evidence held by President Donald Trump reveals the background of how the DC surveillance state exists.  THAT was/is the national security threat behind the DOJ-NSD search warrant and affidavit.

The risk to the fabric of the U.S. government is why we see lawyers and pundits so confused as they try to figure out the disproportionate response from the DOJ and FBI, toward “simple records”, held by President Trump in Mar-a-Lago.   Very few people can comprehend what has been done since January 2009, and the current state of corruption as it now exists amid all of the agencies and institutions of government.

. . .

Given the nature of their opposition, and the underlying motives for their conduct, there is almost nothing they will not do to protect themselves.  However, if you peel away all the layers of lies, manipulations and corruption, what you find at the heart of their conduct is fear.

. . .

The existence of Trump is a threat, but the existence of a Trump that could expose their corruption…. well, that makes him a level of threat that leads to a raid on his home in Mar-a-Lago.

Makes sense to me.

If you aren't interested in the "meat on the bones" of why all this happened, you don't need to read any further.  If you are interested, I think Sundance provides all the background you need to understand what happened, and why.  I highly recommend reading all four articles, and keeping copies for future reference.

As you read them, consider also the points I advanced yesterday.  They dovetail nicely.


Thursday, August 11, 2022

Quote of the day


From Karl Denninger, as he ponders the fallout from the raid on President Trump earlier this week.

Politics is and always has been a blood sport.  If you're not prepared to take it on at that level you have no business getting involved in it.


The theft by electoral fraud of the 2020 election demonstrates that reality.  Getting rid of the thieves and fixing all they've done wrong is going to demonstrate it yet again.


Armed tax "special agents"? Yes, they're a thing.


There's been a furore in news and social media about an Internal Revenue Service recruitment ad for "IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent".  It's since been pulled, but not before it had been archived:  you can view the whole thing at this link.  The part that gave people pause for thought is this:

Major Duties:

  • Adhere to the highest standards of conduct, especially in maintaining honesty and integrity.
  • Work a minimum of 50 hours per week, which may include irregular hours, and be on-call 24/7, including holidays and weekends.
  • Maintain a level of fitness necessary to effectively respond to life-threatening situations on the job.
  • Carry a firearm and be willing to use deadly force, if necessary.
  • Be willing and able to participate in arrests, execution of search warrants, and other dangerous assignments.

Armed IRS officers and agents are nothing new.  Many Federal agencies have an armed enforcement division (although whether that's a good thing is open to debate).  Remember Al Capone versus "Prohibition Agents" Eliot Ness and "The Untouchables"?  The latter were armed Federal agents, but not police.

IRS agents are trained at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center at Glynco, Georgia.  It's a big campus, a former US military base that was transformed into an umbrella training academy for most US government law enforcement personnel.  I spent three weeks there training to be a Chaplain with the Bureau of Prisons, part of the Department of Justice.  (No, they wouldn't let Chaplains participate in the firearms training, but by then I was a far better and more practiced shot than most of the students there, so I didn't mind.)  In the process, I recall meeting some of the IRS trainee agents.  They told me their duties included making arrests in cases where investigations had revealed significant criminal activity (e.g. drug trafficking, fraud, etc.) where armed resistance was expected.  I guess that's a legitimate use, but I question how many armed agents the IRS has compared to its overall headcount, and where they're deployed.  They don't talk about that much.

With the news that 87,000 new IRS personnel are to be hired, making it one of the biggest Federal agencies, the timing of the advertisement for armed IRS agents is - to say the least - unfortunate.  It gives the impression of jackbooted thugs determined to screw every last cent out of those who owe tax.  That's not what it's about, but it's the impression that counts - and, at least at present, that's all it is:  an impression.  The IRS has a different view, of course, as expressed in this Time magazine article (which is worth reading, even if you dispute some of its contents).

Unfortunately, with the Democratic Party behaving very much like jackbooted thugs in ramming their extremist programs through against all opposition, it's likely to become a lasting impression;  and that's very bad for the future of the IRS.  If the average American comes to view any Federal agency as no more than the enforcement arm for a political ideology, they're going to push back, and push back hard.  Sure, many people will submit like sheep:  but many will not.  I suspect there's going to be a lot of that until such time as we replace our present dictatorial regime with one that's more responsive to the will of the people - and if the regime doesn't want to be replaced (it doesn't), that may be a process fraught with difficulty.  Armed officers from any and all Federal agency(ies) may come to be regarded as enemies of the people.  That's a very, very bad place for them to be - and it's very bad for our constitutional republic.

Perhaps it's time to rethink the role and function of armed US civil service personnel.  They may have outlived their usefulness.  Right now there are no less than 73 US government departments that are authorized to use armed agents.  Together they employ not less than 120,000 armed personnel - about 40 per 100,000 US residents - and the number may have grown significantly since those figures were compiled.  I think that's ridiculous!  I'd much rather see armed civil service personnel recruited and/or consolidated into no more than two or three agencies (say, the FBI - after it's been reformed! - the Secret Service and the US Marshals Service), rigorously trained and monitored, and deployed to assist other agencies only under clearly defined, carefully regulated circumstances.  Frankly, I'd feel safer that way.  Big Brother is scary enough, without having him armed to the teeth.


The technological society doesn't "need" most of us - but who defines "need"?


Yuval Noah Harari is one of the policy gurus assisting the World Economic Forum.  He has a distinctly jaundiced view of the future of humanity, as illustrated by these quotations:

"AI is not even near its full potential; it’s just in its infancy. We haven’t seen anything yet. So, every 10 years, you are likely to lose your job or your job is going to be completely transformed by the new wave of the latest machine learning wizardry. And if you want to stay in the game, you will have to basically reinvent yourself — and not just once, but repeatedly."

"What you try to do a thousand years ago with the priest preaching from the pulpit you will be able to do in a far more invasive way in 10 or 15 years with all kinds of brain-computer interfaces and direct biological interventions."

"One of the dangers in the 21st century is that machine learning and artificial intelligence will make centralized systems much more efficient than distributed systems, and dictatorships might become more efficient than democracies."

It's no surprise, then, that in a recent TED podcast, Harari is not very optimistic about the future of most of the human population.  Breitbart provides this partial transcription.

"A lot of people sense that they are being left behind and left out of the story, even if their material conditions are still relatively good. In the 20th century, what was common to all the stories — the liberal, the fascist, the communist — is that the big heroes of the story were the common people, not necessarily all people, but if you lived, say, in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, life was very grim, but when you looked at the propaganda posters on the walls that depicted the glorious future, you were there. You looked at the posters which showed steel workers and farmers in heroic poses, and it was obvious that this is the future.

"Now, when people look at the posters on the walls, or listen to TED talks, they hear a lot of these these big ideas and big words about machine learning and genetic engineering and blockchain and globalization, and they are not there. They are no longer part of the story of the future, and I think that — again, this is a hypothesis — if I try to understand and to connect to the deep resentment of people, in many places around the world, part of what might be going there is people realize — and they’re correct in thinking that — that, ‘The future doesn’t need me. You have all these smart people in California and in New York and in Beijing, and they are planning this amazing future with artificial intelligence and bio-engineering and in global connectivity and whatnot, and they don’t need me. Maybe if they are nice, they will throw some crumbs my way like universal basic income,’ but it’s much worse psychologically to feel that you are useless than to feel that you are exploited.

"Now, fast forward to the early 21st century when we just don’t need the vast majority of the population, because the future is about developing more and more sophisticated technology, like artificial intelligence [and] bioengineering, Most people don’t contribute anything to that, except perhaps for their data, and whatever people are still doing which is useful, these technologies increasingly will make redundant and will make it possible to replace the people."

That's precisely the problem with many modern governments, and with organizations such as the W.E.F.  It's easier and more convenient for them to manage a technological society in which the people have little or no say.  Technology doesn't vote;  it doesn't get hungry;  it doesn't ask whether something is right or wrong;  it has no emotions.  It's told what to do, and it does it without argument or demur.  It's a heck of a lot easier managing a society in which everything important functions like that, than it is a human society where people question, debate, object, discuss, and want changes.

Look at the laws being passed all over the world to control carbon output, combat climate change, and implement "green" policies and philosophies.  They're being imposed on people willy-nilly, by technocrats who insist that they have The Truth and they're going to implement it, whether the people like it or not.  Canadian truckers, Dutch farmers, American democracy, Covid everybody . . . they're all inconveniences to be brushed aside on the road to the Great Technological Future, where everything will be Organized and Arranged as the powers that be want it, and (they presume) we'll put up and shut up.

"You'll own nothing, and you'll be happy."  That's not a pious wish, or a pipe-dream.  That's an order, comrade!


Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Doing business in a technological environment...


Scott Adams nails it again!  Click the image to be taken to a larger view at the Dilbert Web page.

They were obviously trying to be moo-tivational...


Updating and revising our approach to self-defense, Part 3


(This is the final article in a three-part series.  The first may be found here, and the second here.)

In the first article in this series, we looked at some of the factors currently affecting self-defense considerations in this country.  In the second article, we discussed assessing one's own self-defense and security environment, and planning to deal with it.  In this article, we'll discuss the tools, techniques and training we're likely to need to accomplish that.

The first and most important point to understand is that self-defense is not primarily about our hardware, our equipment.  A poor shooter, untrained and unpracticed, even if he's equipped with the best handgun money can buy, will probably miss with almost every round he fires, because he's not competent to handle a gun at the best of times.  A good, well-trained shooter will probably get good hits on target with even a mediocre, difficult-to-use firearm, because his experience and training will allow him to make the best use of the weapon.  The same lesson applies to driving a fast sports car, or climbing a difficult mountain, or swimming a mile.  An inexperienced, untrained person is likely to be a danger to themselves and everyone relying on them.  An experienced, trained person will be an asset to all around them.  We want to be, or to become, assets.

Therefore, unless we're facing imminent danger that demands a short-term solution, our first firearms purchases should be guns that are suited to training purposes:  relatively simple, relatively low-cost, with equally low-cost ammunition that we can afford to shoot in large quantities.  As far as handguns are concerned (important because they can be carried unobtrusively, or kept on hand when a long gun would be inconvenient or too conspicuous), I wrote an extended article some years ago titled ".22LR as a defensive round".  In it, I outlined a training program using BB or Airsoft handguns, moving up to .22LR handguns as soon as sufficient basic skills had been acquired.  I've taught that method of training to literally hundreds of students, and every one of them has become a good shooter.  If you have little or no serious training or experience with handguns, and a tight budget, I highly recommend it to you.

As far as long guns are concerned, I wrote a three-part series on personal defense rifles, focusing on AR-15-type weapons.  That's a good general discussion of the topic.  Obviously, one isn't limited to AR-15's;  there are bolt-action, lever-action and slide/pump-action rifles, as well as shotguns.  However, if we wanted to go into detail about them all here, this blog would be tied up for weeks.  I therefore encourage readers to do their own research.

Let's assume that you know your way around a handgun, and can hit what you aim at.  The next step is to buy a defensive handgun with three factors in mind:
  1. Can I hit my target accurately, quickly and effectively with it?
  2. Is it suitable to have on or near my person as often as possible, so that I'm not caught without it?
  3. Can other members of my family use it as well?
All of those questions are important.  Let's tackle them one by one.

Whatever gun you buy must be one you can actually use.  If its recoil is too hard/heavy, you won't be comfortable shooting it.  If its ammunition (particularly training/practice ammunition) is too expensive, you won't be able to do enough training with it to maintain proficiency.  If it doesn't fit your hand well, you won't be as accurate with it as you might need to be in an emergency.  You'll want to experiment with different sizes and shapes of handgun before you buy one, to figure out which makes and models fit your hand well, provide good sights, and lend themselves to fast, accurate shooting in your hands.  (Note that they may not fit other's hands as well as they do yours - ergonomics, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder!)

You'll notice immediately that tiny, ultra-compact guns such as the Kel-Tec P32, Ruger LCP II and others are very difficult indeed to shoot fast and accurately, particularly at anything outside halitosis range.  They offer a very small grip surface, their recoil with centerfire cartridges is often unpleasant, and their sights are minuscule.  I don't recommend them except for those who are prepared to put in a lot of training and practice time with them, to learn to overcome their deficiencies and master their quirks.  The only weapons I now own in this size category are chambered for .22LR rimfire rounds, with minimal recoil, making them much easier to control - and I don't trust them for primary carry purposes, only for backup.

Slightly larger sub-compact, pocket-size pistols such as the Glock 42 and 43 (and the higher-capacity 43X), Sig P365 and equivalents from other manufacturers are easier to shoot than the ultra-compact models, yet small enough to still conceal easily, making them prime candidates for carry in environments where you don't want anyone to notice that you have a gun.  They're still not easy to shoot well, but they are easier to master than the tiny guns, and have better sights.  They also offer models that can accommodate an optical (i.e. red-dot) sight, making aiming significantly easier.

(A quick word about optical sights on a pistol.  They stick up higher than the slide, making some modes of carry more awkward:  but if one has vision problems - as I do;  I'm getting on in years, and my eyesight isn't what it used to be, so I can't focus sharply on the front sight of a handgun any longer - they make all the difference in the world to being able to hit one's target.  I've had them on my large, full-size service handguns for some years, but I'm now fitting them to my Glock 43X MOS and Sig P365X sub-compact pistols as well.  They're becoming an absolutely vital, indispensable accessory to compensate for my aging eyes.  My personal choice for sub-compact firearms is Swampfox Optics' Sentinel sight, but there are many other models.  Select the one that suits you best, but remember - you get what you pay for.  I don't know that I'd trust a low-cost economy model with my life.  On my larger defensive handguns, I use Swampfox Optics' Liberty sight.  With conventional sights, I can get rapid rounds into a target's chest area in a defensive situation out to ten yards or so.  With optical sights, I can attempt a head shot at 25-50 yards if I have to.  They're that much more precise, once you're used to them.)

Mid-size defensive pistols, often referred to as compact models, are bigger and easier to use than sub-compact or ultra-compact firearms, but more easily concealed than full-size service pistols.  Examples are the Glock 19, Sig P320 Compact, and equivalents.  They generally hold up to about 15 rounds of ammunition.

Full-size service pistols such as the Glock 17 or Sig P320 are standard issue in many military and police forces.  Being the largest models, they tend to fill the hand (sometimes too well, such as the Beretta 92:  its grip is too fat to fit smaller hands).  They're relatively easy to aim, and their size and heft absorbs recoil better.  As I get older, I find I've graduated to full-size handguns as my "go-to" weapons when concealment is less important (i.e. in more gun-tolerant environments), and also for home use.  When I have to carry in deep concealment, I drop down to the sub-compact level, bypassing mid-size/compact models.

I've used Glock and Sig models as examples in the above paragraphs, but there are literally dozens of alternatives out there.  I strongly suggest you buy a model that's in widespread use, particularly with police departments, because that means it's been thoroughly tested and has measured up to their standards.  Of course, you can still find "lemons" in any product range.  That's why it's important to fire several hundred rounds through your chosen defensive handgun, using your own magazines and good-quality practice ammunition, plus 50-100 rounds of the defensive ammunition you've selected.  Doing so should reveal any problems before you trust your life to that combination.  If a difficulty (e.g. jamming, misfeeding, etc.) is encountered with more than about one in 200 rounds during the "burn-in" period, have a gunsmith check it out;  if that persists, change to a different gun.  A misfire or misfeed at the wrong time might be very dangerous.  You want a gun that'll go BANG! every time, without fail.

There are those who like revolvers more than pistols.  I have no problem with this, and own more than a few revolvers of my own:  but in today's defensive environment, where quantity of ammunition may be an important factor and speed of reloading even more so, I submit that a revolver is no longer an optimum choice for self-defense for a reasonably well-trained shooter.  I know many will differ with that view, and that's OK - I'm not a guru preaching the "only true way" here.  You'll have to make up your own mind.  All I can say is, if I have a choice between a Smith & Wesson Model 442 Airweight snub-nose revolver, holding 5 rounds of .38 Special ammunition, or a Sig P365 pistol holding 13 rounds of 9mm, both guns being of roughly comparable weight and dimensions - guess which one I'm choosing?

In the process of selecting a handgun, find out whether your spouse and/or older children can also handle it if necessary.  Please God, they'll never need to:  but if home invaders come calling, or you're accosted by street thugs, you might find yourself grappling with them, or injured, and thus unable to use it.  In that case, they'd better be able to, or they'll be in as much trouble as you will!  Ideally, find a gun they all can use well, and then buy everyone their own copy of the gun, so that you can train as a family.

As part of your selection process, rent different guns from a shooting range offering that facility, and try them out.  Find out which of them fit your hand well, come into line naturally as you raise them, and are easy to use and accurate.  If you have friends who own guns, ask them to show you theirs, and if possible go to the range with them to fire as many different types as they have to offer.  It'll make your final selection much easier.  However, I suggest you avoid "exotic" or "fringe" brands and manufacturers.  If they're not in widespread use by police or armed forces, why not?  They may be perfectly good, but I'd still prefer to have a firearm that's been tested and wrung out by people who literally bet their lives every day that it's good enough to defend them.  YMMV, of course...

You'll need a good holster or two, even if you carry in your pocket rather than on your belt.  A holster protects your gun from damage, and holds it in a steady position so your hand can find and draw it quickly in case of need.  Again, there are dozens of examples out there.  Read up about them in gun magazines and elsewhere, pick well-known brand names, and select accordingly.  (If you're on a tight budget, I gave a shout-out to We The People Holsters a couple of years ago.  I've provided several of their models to disabled students I've taught, and will shortly be doing so again.  Recommended.)

Remember the first rule of a gunfight is:  HAVE A GUN!  If your defensive firearm is locked in a safe at home, how will you fight off home invaders if they burst through the front door?  If it's at home and you're out shopping, how will you defend yourself and your loved ones if a mass shooting event occurs, such as at Greenwood Mall a couple of weeks ago?  If that young man hadn't had his handgun with him, and hadn't been well trained, how many people would that murderer have killed before being stopped?  For that matter, how about last weekend in West Palm Beach, Florida?  If you'd been there, and got caught up in that, would you have been trained and equipped to stop that threat?  It can happen anywhere, anytime.  Therefore, you need to buy a primary defensive weapon that you'll be willing and able to have on or near you when it's likely to be needed.  If it's not suitable (i.e. too big/heavy/whatever for that purpose), it may be a perfectly good gun, but it's not an ideal choice for everyday defensive use.

The late, great Jeff Cooper once pointed out:  "Owning a handgun doesn't make you armed any more than owning a guitar makes you a musician."  You need good, sound training in how to use your firearm(s), and ongoing practice to make sure you don't lose your edge.  At the top of the market, consider courses at Gunsite, Thunder Ranch or similar establishments.  They'll cost thousands overall (fees, travel, accommodation, ammunition, meals, etc.), but they'll give you the best possible grounding in defensive shooting.  I highly recommend Massad Ayoob's courses on managing the lethal threat environment:  they combine shooting with legal, social and cultural issues that affect our actions and their aftermath.  If you can't afford any of those options, buy the DVD's offered by those places and equivalent establishments;  they'll show you material you can't get any other way.  Locally, as a beginner, look for NRA courses at many shooting ranges, and if necessary check the NRA's Web site or contact them directly to find out about instructors and courses in your area.

Don't rely only on teaching yourself, without more knowledgeable input.  You'll make, and learn, too many mistakes.  Also, don't necessarily trust family and friends to teach you well.  Too many people develop bad shooting habits that should not be passed on to others.  Better to have a professional show you what to do and how to do it.  As for ongoing practice, remember what I said above about training with BB/Airsoft and rimfire guns.  It's much, much cheaper than shooting centerfire ammunition, and you can still work on the basics of marksmanship, fire-and-movement, etc.  Shoot a magazine or two of full-power ammunition to conclude each training session, to ensure you remain familiar with the noise and recoil of proper defensive rounds.

Don't neglect non-weapon aspects of defensive equipment.  Let's say, for example, that you have to drive through or near a high-crime area on your way to and from work each day.  What if you had a flat tire there?  How long would it take you to change a wheel and be on your way?  If your plan is to call for roadside assistance, then sit in your car and wait, allow me to suggest that's a good way to get robbed, mugged or worse.  Why not carry a can of tire inflator and sealant, to get you back on the road as fast as possible?  How about practicing changing a tire in your own driveway, so you know what to do and how to do it, and can get the job done and leave the area as quickly as possible?  Do your spouse and/or children - everyone in your family who drives - know how to do the same thing?  If not, why not?  Teach them!  (IMPORTANT NOTE:  Maintain situational awareness while carrying out those running repairs.  It's no good having some low-life sneak up behind you while you're changing a tire, and hit you over the head before making off with your car.  Don't get over-focused on the problem - keep your eyes peeled and your head moving.)

This applies to many other areas of preparedness as well.  Do you have a fire extinguisher in your car?  I don't mean one of the cheap, lightweight, use-once-and-throw-away toys, but something with enough capacity (at least 2½ pounds, if not 5 pounds) to actually put out a car fire.  (It can also serve as a useful deterrent when sprayed liberally into the eyes, nose and mouth of an aggressive person.  How do I know this?  Trust me.  I know this.)  Do you have in your vehicle a can of motor oil, and a bottle of automatic transmission fluid, and another of brake fluid?  If your engine starts leaking any of those liquids, or you come across another motorist with that problem, the emergency supplies in your car may be enough to get the vehicle to a service station, or at the very least to a safer area.  What about a bottle of window cleaner and a roll of paper towels?  (The latter is also useful as emergency toilet tissue!)  Also, don't forget duct tape.  It can temporarily seal engine hoses.  All those precautions may help you to avoid or minimize situations where you might need your self-defense weapon, which is far better than having to use it and then facing all the complications that may follow.

Finally, remember John Farnam's maxim, cited in yesterday's article:  “A superior gunman is best defined as one who uses his superior judgment in order to keep himself out of situations that would require the use of his superior skills.”  No matter how much you learn, always maintain situational awareness.  Try to detect or anticipate problems before they develop into real dangers.  By all means be prepared to defend yourself and your loved ones, but it's even better if you don't have to use those skills and tools.  Avoid and evade, rather than confront, unless you have no alternative.

For many people in "safer" areas, all we've discussed in these three articles may seem like overkill.  My suggestions may seem unrealistic and unjustified.  That's their call:  but, as we saw in the first article in this series, the threat environment is changing almost by the day, and it's getting worse.  In particular, if you live in or near a bigger city experiencing a surge in crime, you are under threat.  If you close your eyes to that, and refuse to live in such a way that you enhance your security options and give yourself a better chance of avoiding and surviving crime, then on your own head be it.  The old Latin tag still applies:  Si vis pacem, para bellum.  "If you want peace, prepare for war."  Applying it to our modern situation, if you want to survive the growing crime wave, prepare to avoid and/or repel criminal attack.  It really is that simple - and that complicated.


The Trump raid and its aftermath: don't be blind to reality


How many people noticed that, less than a day after the FBI raid on President Trump's residence, the leader of the House Freedom Caucus in the US Congress had his phone "confiscated" by the same agency?

"This morning, while traveling with my family, 3 FBI agents visited me and seized my cell phone. They made no attempt to contact my lawyer, who would have made arrangements for them to have my phone if that was their wish. I’m outraged — though not surprised — that the FBI under the direction of Merrick Garland’s DOJ, would seize the phone of a sitting Member of Congress," Perry said in his statement. "My phone contains info about my legislative and political activities, and personal/private discussions with my wife, family, constituents, and friends. None of this is the government’s business."

Perry asserted in his statement that "as with President Trump last night, DOJ chose this unnecessary and aggressive action instead of simply contacting my attorneys. These kinds of banana republic tactics should concern every Citizen — especially considering the decision before Congress this week to hire 87,000 new IRS agents to further persecute law-abiding Citizens."

There's more at the link.

The two incidents are blatant, in-your-face declarations by the Biden administration - and the shadowy figures behind it, because President Biden's deteriorating mental health means he isn't capable of running himself, let alone the country.  They are showing us - their actions are speaking louder than their words - that they don't care what we think, or what the rule of law demands, or what custom and principle have dictated since the founding of this country.  They're demonstrating to the peasants that they, the powers-that-be, can and will do what they like.

There's a reason for that.

Remember, the 2020 elections were stolen.  There's no doubt whatsoever about that.  For all those who claim that's a lie, and/or that there's no evidence:  there's plenty of evidence.  Ask any forensic accountant or competent (and honest) statistician to analyze the voting patterns and results.  The discrepancies scream "electoral fraud" to any knowledgeable observer.  Watch the documentary "2000 Mules".  It's so solidly factual that it's impossible for any truly objective observer to doubt its conclusions.

The people who stole those elections are the people currently in power.  They know, beyond a shadow of doubt, that if they lose power, those who succeed them in office will, repeat, WILL investigate what they did, and will bring criminal charges against those who deserve them.  They dare not risk this.  They dare not risk the punishment they know awaits them if they lose their grip on power.  Therefore, the current powers-that-be will do anything, risk anything, to make sure that they don't lose power.  They regard it as a life-or-death struggle.  Either they keep winning, or they go to the wall - and they have no intention of going to the wall.

As Padraig Martin puts it:

The raid on Trump is not about Trump.  The raid on Trump is a coup against arguably the most successful republic in history.  Washington, DC, is overthrowing the rights you thought you had.  They are driving a nail in the coffin of republican governance (little ‘R’).  They are showing you that they are the power, not you, the voting citizen.  Attacking Trump is all about proving to the little guy that he is powerless.  If you elect the wrong person, we will remove him – and then you.

Matt Taibbi, no conservative, is equally blunt.

We’ve reached the stage of American history where everything we see on the news must first be understood as political theater. In other words, the messaging layer of news now almost always dominates the factual narrative, with the latter often reported so unreliably as to be meaningless anyway. Yesterday’s sensational tale of the FBI raiding the Mar-a-Lago home of former president Donald Trump is no different.

As of now, it’s impossible to say if Trump’s alleged offense was great, small, or in between. But this for sure is a huge story, and its hugeness extends in multiple directions, including the extraordinary political risk inherent in the decision to execute the raid. If it backfires, if underlying this action there isn’t a very substantial there there, the Biden administration just took the world’s most reputable police force and turned it into the American version of the Tonton Macoute on national television. We may be looking at simultaneously the dumbest and most inadvertently destructive political gambit in the recent history of this country.

The top story today in the New York Times, bylined by its top White House reporter, speculates this is about “delayed returning” of “15 boxes of material requested by officials with the National Archives.” If that’s true, and it’s not tied to January 6th or some other far more serious offense, then the Justice Department just committed institutional suicide and moved the country many steps closer to once far-out eventualities like national revolt or martial law.

That reality is why many, including myself, believe that the 2022 elections will also be rigged, and are being rigged as you read these words.  Those in power dare not allow a free and fair vote.  They know they and their policies are so unpopular with the American people that if they do, they'll lose.  They can't and won't permit that:  therefore, they'll "fix" the election to make sure they can't lose.  Part of that is to gather intelligence on those opposing them, such as Rep. Perry, and his network of contacts.  That's why they wanted his phone:  as intelligence material on their opponents.  Illegal?  Technically, perhaps, but since they control the agencies administering and enforcing the laws, that's currently irrelevant.  Immoral?  Unethical?  You bet your life - but they don't care about that.

I think we'll see more and more such intimidatory and overreaching measures.  They dare not lose;  therefore they'll do anything and everything it takes to win, legal or not, moral or not, ethical or not.  They can't afford not to do so.  They're playing for all the marbles.  Anyone who hasn't yet realized that is naive in the extreme.  These elections will only bring about a change of government if attempts to steal them are thwarted;  and those trying to steal them will do their best to thwart the American people and democracy instead.

That's the reality revealed by recent events.  What are you and I going to do about it?  More importantly, what will the American people as a whole do about it?  We can - if we take a stand - overcome even this, at this time, before things have gone too far, and restore our constitutional republic.  If we don't do so now, there may never be another opportunity.

Remember what the Bolsheviks did in Russia when they took over?  They finagled a takeover of power, including several local and regional elections, through all sorts of dishonest and immoral tactics:  then, from their position of power, they made sure there was never another free and fair election.  That's the threat facing us right now.


Tuesday, August 9, 2022

And the FBI raid memes begin...


Here are a few memes and tweets that I've seen so far this morning.  Click any one for a larger image.

There will doubtless be many more.


Updating and revising our approach to self-defense, Part 2


(This is the second article in a three-part series.  The first may be found here, and the third here.)

Having examined the threat environment and how it's changing, we have to ask ourselves how prepared we are to respond to it if the need arises.  This isn't just a question of having the right equipment and training.  Although that's important, it's secondary to ensuring that, if at all possible, we don't put ourselves in a position to need it.  Remember John Farnam's always-valid advice?

The best way to handle any potentially injurious encounter is: Don’t be there. Arrange to be somewhere else. Don’t go to stupid places. Don’t associate with stupid people. Don’t do stupid things. This is the advice I give to all students of defensive firearms. Winning a gunfight, or any other potentially injurious encounter, is financially and emotionally burdensome. The aftermath will become your full-time job for weeks or months afterward, and you will quickly grow weary of writing checks to lawyer(s). It is, of course, better than being dead or suffering a permanently disfiguring or disabling injury, but the “penalty” for successfully fighting for your life is still formidable.

Crowds of any kind, particularly those with an agenda, such as political rallies, demonstrations, picket lines, etc are good examples of “stupid places.” Any crowd with a high collective energy level harbors potential catastrophe. To a lesser degree, bank buildings, hospital emergency rooms, airports, government buildings, and bars (particularly crowded ones) fall into the same category. All should be avoided. When they can’t be avoided, we should make it a practice to spend only the minimum time necessary there and then quickly get out.

“A superior gunman is best defined as one who uses his superior judgment in order to keep himself out of situations that would require the use of his superior skills.”

Read, re-read and absorb that.  It's not just important, it's invaluable.  There's more good advice at the link (scroll down to the entry for 19 Mar 03 to find it).  Go read that, too.  You won't be sorry.

So . . . in today's threat environment, how do we plan to manage it?  The first and most important element is, understand what that environment is in your city, your town, your area, your region, your location.  What might work for me where I live may be completely wrong for your location.  You need to understand your local threat(s) before you can figure out how best to respond to it/them.  Those threats may include a greater need for self-defense, or they may indicate a need for greater personal security awareness, or both.  The entire threat environment is important, not just self-defense.

Start by getting a map of your area.  I suggest on paper, because that's easy to carry around and use even if your cellphone battery is flat or the Internet is down.  Get one for each member of your family, and one per vehicle, and a couple of spare copies too.  If you have to use Google Maps or Mapquest or another service to create your own map, that'll work, but make sure you save a detailed image of that map offline, so you can access it when the Internet is down.  You want a map showing streets and surface details, not a geological map or some other specialized application.

If you do a search for "Paper map of [your city/town name]", you should find several options.  For example, if I look for maps of Wichita Falls, TX (the large city nearest to where we live), I find these:

  • Chamber of Commerce (including detailed overlays like demographics, consumer expenditure, etc.);
  • Bureau of Economic Geology (surface geology of the city and surrounding counties);
  • Market Maps (street detail map of the city - exactly what's needed for this purpose - with a huge range of sizes, styles and prices);
  • Texas Dept of Transportation (online only, but in PDF format, so you can save a copy, print it, etc. If you want a big size, send it to print services like Walgreens or FedEx Office and they can print it for you.  Sadly, their maps show only major routes, not all surface streets).
  • Commercial sources such as Rand McNally, Mapshop, etc.

If you do a similar search for your area, you'll find the same sort of results.  Select one that provides the best, most detailed coverage of your entire city area, including the outskirts and approach roads.  Also, find one that shows an area of 50-100 miles around your city/town, so you can see where those roads come from and where they lead.  If there's a major gang/crime problem in a city 50 miles away, and that place erupts in violence, and there's a major road leading from there to your town . . . guess where refugees and/or escaping gang-bangers are likely to head?  That's right.  You're sitting on the bullseye.

When you have a good map of your city/town, start marking it with critical information.

  • Talk to your local cops, check your local news media, and/or look online for crime reports.  What areas consistently show the most crimes/police reports/news headlines about them?  Put asterisks or check marks or colored stars on your map to indicate each incident.  Where you see the markers cluster is a place you really don't want to go unless you absolutely have to.  If you live in or near that area already, plan to move somewhere else as fast as you can.
  • Talk to your local fire department about the sources of most of their call-outs.  Again, mark them on your map.  Where they cluster, avoid that area and get away from it if necessary.
  • Talk to your local ambulance/hospital/EMS service.  Where do they pick up the majority of their "clients"?  Mark the map, wash, rinse, repeat, etc.
  • Do an Internet search for "US major crime areas".  You'll be amazed at how many sources of information pop up, and what they tell you.  You may need to narrow it down, but a search on (for example) "Major crime areas in St. Louis" will be very revealing.  Use online services such as CrimegradeNeighborhood Scout, SpotCrime, etc., as well as unofficial information sites such as HeyJackass for Chicago (look for those covering your area, if they exist).  Again, transfer relevant information to your own map.
  • By the time you've taken those four steps, your map should look "interesting".  Any clusters of problems it shows are areas you don't want to go near.  That includes major shopping areas in some cities, such as Chicago's "Magnificent Mile", midtown New York City, etc.  Furthermore, in your travels around town (taking your kids to school or play, going to church, routes to and from work, shopping, etc.) plan to avoid such areas by a safe margin, even if it means going out of your way to do so.  The best way to avoid crime is not to be where it's more likely to occur.

Now we come to another valuable use for your map.  Consider areas where, or to or from which, you frequently travel.  What are the roads like for such purposes?  Is there more than one worthwhile route to follow?  Which of them is more at risk from crime, fire, and other emergencies in the zones you've marked?  Avoid those routes, and pick safer ones.  If they're all vulnerable to some extent, pick the least vulnerable ones.  Another consideration:  which of those routes are most at risk of traffic snarl-ups from time to time (e.g. school leavers, sports games, morning and evening commuter traffic, etc.)?  Plan to avoid them at those times, and make notes about them for future reference.

When you've done all that (and it may take weeks to assemble all the critical information you need), sit down and talk about it with your family.  Make sure everybody knows what areas are more dangerous than others, and why.  Discuss routes to and from your and their destinations, and make everybody aware of safer roads.  If necessary, distribute maps and printed instructions on where to go or not to go.  Put copies of relevant maps/information in every vehicle in your family, and make sure they stay there for future reference.  Also, keep an eye on current developments near you.  If the crime/problem areas get better or worse, or new threats arise, make sure you keep your information current in your head, with your family, and on your maps and other documents.

A primary consideration is to preserve your ability to move around.  Try not to put yourself in a situation where you can't get away from trouble if it begins.  That can be local (can I get out of this parking garage in a hurry?), nearby (will my travel be impeded by the football game letting out?) or city-wide (has the power gone out, so that all the traffic signals are dead and the streets are gridlocked?).  I absolutely hate our bigger cities from that point of view.  When I spent a few weeks in the Los Angeles, California area some years ago, I felt as if I were trapped all day, every day.  For literally dozens of miles in every direction, I was surrounded by masses of people who would all try to escape if the Big One (earthquake) hit, or some other disaster struck.  Every road, including the famous six-lane Interstate highways, would become clogged within a matter of minutes, and stay that way for at least days, probably weeks, and possibly even months.  I was effectively in a situation where I couldn't "get out of Dodge" to save my life.  I swore at that time that I'd never voluntarily live in such an environment, and so far, thanks be to God, I've been able to hold to that.

(That's also why, if at all possible, you should have your own transport.  I'm aware that in cities like New York, many residents don't own their own cars due to parking problems, congestion, expense, etc.  If you're willing to trust your life to public transport in an emergency, that's up to you.  I'm not, and I don't think anyone should.  Even if you only have a folding bicycle (securely stored where thieves can't make off with it), that's better than nothing.  Pack a small emergency kit that you can carry on it, and be prepared to "bug out" to a safer place if necessary.  If the expense of a car is beyond your budget, do you have friends with a car?  If you help pay for travel costs, could you travel with them if need be?  Can you get to them in an emergency, or are they prepared to come past your place to collect you?  Plan and make arrangements ahead of time.)

Having prepared your map of your city/town and the area(s) around it, you can see more clearly where your highest risks are, or may be if something goes wrong.  Given that, you can plan your daily activities in more detail to minimize your exposure to those risks.  You can also plan to move to a safer area if that's possible;  and if it's not, you can take steps to prepare your home against the likely risks that are closest to you.  (For example, if you live in an area with more house or apartment fires than usual, do you have fire extinguishers handy to prevent them in your own residence?  Do you have hoses available - and external faucets - to spray water on fires near your home, to control the flames and/or prevent them from spreading to your property?  If you live in an apartment building or complex where fires have happened before, you're at high risk of exposure to them.  Plan to move somewhere safer - urgently!  If you say you can't afford to do that . . . what's your life and property worth to you?)

Self-defense and personal security aren't just about guns.  Firefighting equipment, security fixtures and fittings like exterior cameras and burglar bars, a heightened awareness of likely threats, and a more focused situational awareness to detect and avoid such threats - all are important, and more besides.  For every problem or potential threat you identify, ask yourself what you can do to mitigate it.  Talk to local cops/firefighters/EMS personnel and the like.  Ask their advice.  Don't ignore the situation because "I can't afford to fix it".  What's your life worth?

I've said it before, and I'll say it again.  If at all possible, get out of big cities, particularly those with serious crime problems or prone to natural disasters (earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.) that might require urgent evacuation.  In such scenarios, you're one ant, or a family of ants, among millions of them.  You have very little chance of escaping such threats unscathed and unaffected.  Far, far better to position yourself in a safer, more defensive situation now, while you have time to do so.  If you can't do that, for whatever reason (family ties, work, etc.), do your best to prepare your defenses against such threats now, while they're still within reasonable limits;  and accept that the odds are pretty good they won't stay within reasonable limits.  As we pointed out yesterday, crime, violence and social ills are getting steadily worse, and the rate of deterioration is increasing.  Be aware of that, and prepare for it as best you can.

(For one possible scenario of how our cities may explode into violence, read former SEAL Matt Bracken's hypothetical description.  It's scary, but it's far from impossible. We've already seen elements of it in reality, most recently during the BLM/Antifa riots of the past couple of years.  I fully expect to see them again, and worse.)

All right.  We've talked about the overall threat environment, including - but not limited to - self-defense against crime.  Now it's time to focus on the latter, and get serious about it.  We'll do that in tomorrow's concluding article.