Monday, May 20, 2024

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Still no Saturday Snippet while health issues continue


As for the past couple of weeks, my pain levels preclude sitting for hours transcribing part of a book, or even reading a lot.  My next medical procedure is on Monday, May 20, and I guess I'll need a couple of days to catch my breath before picking up normal blogging again.  I hope the specialist will get done everything he wants to do during that procedure, but he's already warned me that if there are too many complications, he'll do a partial job and go back in a third time to finish it.  Let's hope and pray that won't be necessary!  I'm already tired of this . . .

Anyway, please amuse yourselves with the bloggers listed in the sidebar.  They write good, too!



Friday, May 17, 2024

Buyer beware (yet again)


To my absolute lack of surprise, I learned that cruise lines have been carefully failing to inform their customers of additional fees, charges, imposts, etc. on top of their advertised prices.  For once, California is doing the right thing by forcing them to disclose these charges.

Starting July 1, operators including Royal Caribbean International, Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises and Princess Cruises will include the cost of port expenses, taxes and other fees in the price that potential passengers see. The additional charges can tack on more than $100 to the fare, or even double the cheapest base price on some short itineraries.

The changes kick in when California’s “Honest Pricing Law” goes into effect, restricting companies that do business in the state from advertising a price that is lower than what a consumer will ultimately have to pay.

. . .

For now, cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean promote bargain sailings, such as a seven-night Western Caribbean cruise “starting at” an average of $437 per person. But that number does not reflect the nearly $164 more that’s required for taxes, fees and port expenses and displayed in smaller print. A four-day Mexico cruise from Long Beach, Calif., shows the cheapest cabin for $234 - but the additional charges are an additional $240.

“The current ‘drip pricing’ technique where you show a low price and then tack on a lot of the extra fees later is a great attention disrupter but very misleading,” Doug Parker, founder of the podcast and news site Cruise Radio, said in an email.

Gratuities are also extra for most mainstream cruise lines, but tips will not need to be advertised up front. Cruise lines also offer optional drink or dining packages, shore excursions, and other add-ons that would increase the cost of a trip.

Parker said the cost of a seemingly inexpensive cruise can balloon with taxes, depending on the itinerary. He said the new policy will give families “a better idea on what the vacation will actually cost.”

There's more at the link.

I've been infuriated more times than I can tell to find unexplained, unauthorized charges tacked on to a bill or invoice.  Hospitals are particularly egregious offenders.  "Your procedure will cost you $4,999.99 out of pocket - your insurance pays for the rest!"  Yeah . . . and then comes the anesthetist bill, the rehab bill, the clean sheets every day bill, and all the rest of it.  Together they can add thousands of dollars to our costs, unforeseen and unbudgeted.

I'm glad this particular cesspool of financial chicanery will be drained;  but I'm willing to bet the cruise lines will find new and innovative ways to screw yet more consumer dollars out of us.  In their eyes, we're sheep to be sheared, and they're very good at shearing.


Sobering reflections on our lack of preparedness for a true emergency


A few articles caught my eye in recent days.  They illustrate eloquently how unprepared Americans as a whole are for a true disaster-level emergency.

First, Brandon Smith looks at mass starvation.

Because we have lived in relative security and economic affluence for so long the idea of ever having to go without food seems “laughable” to many people. When the notion of economic collapse is brought up they jeer and call it “conspiracy theory.”

Compared to the Great Depression, the US population today is completely removed from agriculture and has no idea what living off the land means. These are not things that can be learned in a few months from books and YouTube videos; they require years of experience to master.

. . .

The greater problem in terms of famine is not that individual Americans are not aware of the threat; many of them are. The problem is that our infrastructure and logistical systems are designed to fail and there’s not much the average citizen can do about it.

. . .

Growing food, hunting food and foraging food are all supplemental measures, especially in the first years of any crisis event. Without a primary emergency supply most people will not make it. Food storage has been a mainstay of civilization for thousands of years for a reason – It works. When larger secure communities are established then agriculture can return and self sustaining production makes food storage less important. Until then, what you have in your basement or your garage is the only thing that’s going to keep you alive.

There's more at the link.

Next, Michael Totten analyzes the very real risk of a catastrophic earthquake in the Pacific Northwest - one that may be many times worse than anything any of us have ever experienced.

Roughly 100 miles off the West Coast, running from Mendocino, California, to Canada’s Vancouver Island, lurks the Cascadia Subduction Zone, where the Juan de Fuca Plate is sliding beneath the North American Plate, creating the conditions for a megathrust quake 30 times stronger than the worst-case scenario along the notorious San Andreas, and 1,000 times stronger than the earthquake that killed 100,000 Haitians in 2010.

. . .

Scientists scrambled for core samples of the ocean floor just off the American coast and found turbidites—layers of tsunami debris—that date back millennia and, most recently, again, to 1700, revealing a cycle that repeats itself every 300 to 600 years. The Cascadia Subduction Zone is not quiet, after all: it triggers catastrophic megathrust quakes, on schedule. “A fault that ruptures with this big of an earthquake every few hundred years is ragingly active,” says Yumei Wang, a geotechnical engineer at the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI).

A 9.0 megathrust quake is too powerful even to be measured on the now-dated Richter scale.

. . .

“No community on the planet is adequately prepared for a major subduction zone earthquake,” observes Dan Douthit, spokesman for the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM). The Northwest, however, and especially Oregon, is nerve-rackingly further behind than it should be. Nothing built here before 1995—which includes the vast majority of all structures, including skyscrapers, bridges, and hospitals, as well as houses—was engineered to withstand it.

Again, more at the link.

However, the really scary part comes when one puts the warnings from the two articles above into joint perspective:  in other words, how they interact with and affect each other.  A massive natural disaster like a Pacific Northwest earthquake might - probably will - cut almost all transport links from the West Coast to states further inland, and vice versa.  Emergency relief won't be able to reach disaster zones, and refugees won't be able to move away from them.  We won't be able to get at the vast agricultural and processing resources of our Western states, which together supply more than half of our fruit and vegetables;  and we won't be able to help those that produce them, meaning they'll probably be unable to produce more for a significant length of time - years rather than months.

What's more, the sudden need to reallocate transport resources - trains, 18-wheelers, etc. - to disaster relief, plus the loss of transport resources in the disaster zone, will result in a sudden and unavoidable collapse of distribution networks throughout the rest of the country.  We may have plenty of food for everyone:  but if it can't be moved from field to processing facilities to distributors to consumers, how are we going to get our hands on it?

Too many of us are prone to say, "Well, that's just fear-mongering.  There's no guarantee anything like that will happen."  Unfortunately, there is such a guarantee.  Read the article about the Pacific Northwest earthquake potential, and look at what scientists and professionals are saying about its inevitability.  It's scary.

Remember "nine meals from anarchy"?  That well-known saying appears to have been first used by Alfred Henry Lewis in 1896.  In 1932 a New Jersey newspaper noted:

How nicely civilization has become balanced is shown by the easily perceived fact that we are never more than nine meals away from anarchy. Throw an impenetrable wall around this metropolitan zone of ten million persons, prevent the people from receiving a supply of food and water for three days, and our vaunted civilization goes on the scrap heap.

In a more recent article titled with that well-known saying, Jeff Thomas pointed out:

Importantly, it’s the very unpredictability of food delivery that increases fear, creating panic and violence. And, again, none of the above is speculation; it’s a historical pattern – a reaction based upon human nature ... At that point, it would be very likely that the central government would step in and issue controls to the food industry that served political needs rather than business needs, greatly exacerbating the problem.

I said a month ago:

There's also the question of the duration of an emergency.  If it's [a major nation-wide catastrophe], then the effects will be felt for not just years, but decades.  There's no way we can stockpile enough supplies to cater for something like that.  Those who can farm, growing their own food, will have an edge:  but everyone else who survives will be doing their best to raid farms for food, so keeping it is likely to be a very serious problem.  Certainly, if we are not already growing at least some of our own food, we're very unlikely to be able to grow enough from scratch to survive.  We lack the knowledge, tools, seeds, and experience to do so.  Tempting advertisements to buy a certain brand of seed, or a particular tool, or land on which to establish an "emergency farm", are likely to benefit only those selling them.  Realistically, most of us can afford to plan, and stockpile supplies, for an emergency lasting from a few weeks to a year.  Anything beyond that . . . well, it's unlikely we'll live through it.  That's just the way it is.

Nothing in the articles linked above leads me to think differently.  Perhaps all of us should re-evaluate our own emergency preparations with that in mind.


It doesn't help to ignore reality. Sooner or later, it'll catch up with you.


Remember the collapse of the Surfside condo complex in Miami, Florida, almost three years ago?

On June 24, 2021, at approximately 1:22 a.m. EDT, Champlain Towers South, a 12-story beachfront condominium in the Miami suburb of Surfside, Florida, United States, partially collapsed, causing the deaths of 98 people. Four people were rescued from the rubble, but one died of injuries shortly after arriving at the hospital. Eleven others were injured. Approximately thirty-five were rescued the same day from the un-collapsed portion of the building, which was demolished ten days later.

A contributing factor under investigation is long-term degradation of reinforced concrete structural support in the basement-level parking garage under the pool deck, due to water penetration and corrosion of the reinforcing steel. The problems had been reported in 2018 and noted as "much worse" in April 2021. A $15 million program of remedial works had been approved before the collapse, but the main structural work had not started.

There's more at the link.

The full impact of that tragedy is only now becoming evident in condo complexes up and down the Florida coast.  The same neglect that led to the Surfside collapse has been found in literally hundreds of other buildings, and the repair bills are colossal - so much so that owners can't afford them.

Have a Florida condo? Can you afford a $100,000 or higher special assessment for new safety standards?

After the collapse of a Surfside Building on June 24, 2021that killed 98 people, the state passed a structural safety law that is now biting owners.

Not only are insurance rates soaring, but owners are hit with huge special assessments topping $100,000.

. . .

Those who cannot sell and don’t have the special assessment, will be evicted and their units seized for whatever the Associations can get for them.

South Florida listings have doubled in the past year to over 18,000. Few of those units will sell, and those that do sell will be at a huge haircut.

Again, more at the link.

The structural safety law is entirely necessary from any rational perspective.  Unfortunately, many of those who bought condos in Florida - some of them decades ago, when prices were far lower - are now on the hook to pay for those repairs.  Some can afford it, but others have had no choice but to try to sell their now almost valueless condos to buyers who aren't prepared to pay for the sins or omissions of the past.  Many of them are now facing bankruptcy and possible homelessness.

What I find most infuriating is that the condo associations should have carried out normal preventive maintenance over the years;  should have had their buildings inspected regularly to detect problems before they got out of control;  and should have set aside adequate financial reserves to pay to repair them.  That's nothing more than basic common sense:  but it seems few did so.  The condo owners didn't want the trouble or expense involved.  To make matters worse, many of them now affected by the problem are trying to weasel their way out of it any way they can - despite the consequences of doing so being so starkly visible to everyone concerned.

State law previously allowed condos to waive reserve funding year after year, leading many buildings ... to keep next to nothing in their coffers.

. . .

Residents still meet ... to celebrate birthdays. But now, those gatherings are often charged with owners pooling documentation in hope of finding evidence that the assessments should be lower.

Some are worried developers may already be purchasing condos in the building for a potential takeover, where a developer tries to gain control of a building to knock it down and build a newer, more luxurious one. These condo terminations are happening up and down the state’s coastline. While the rules can vary by building, if enough people vote to sell their units, the others have to follow along.

More at the link.

One can't blame the developers.  If a unit's value has plummeted thanks to the cost of repairs, of course those with money - and an eye to make more money - are going to take advantage of the situation by buying it at a fire sale price, and buying as many as they can, in order to outvote longer-term residents and make more money out of redeveloping the site and/or building.  I'm afraid that's yet another consequence of owners refusing to invest in their condos during the "golden years", and now having to pay huge sums due to their previous neglect.  What goes around, comes around.

I suppose this is yet another example of why it's foolish to trust one's home and finances to a group of owners who may not have the right priorities.  The few responsible owners who would have been willing to pay for upkeep were undoubtedly outvoted by those who preferred to minimize maintenance in order to maximize their budgets, individual and corporate.  Now that they're all in the same (sinking) boat, they don't want to acknowledge that it's ultimately their own fault.  Human nature is still as self-centered as always . . .



Thursday, May 16, 2024

"Machetes are like pitbulls"


They are indeed.  I've seen them used as fighting weapons far too many times in the Third World, and the damage that results.

Click over to Gun Free Zone's post about that, and watch the video.  WARNING:  It's not for the squeamish or faint at heart.  You'll see a hand chopped right off, among other injuries.

Keep that in mind when you're next threatened by a machete, or a sharpened garden spade, or any improvised edged weapon (not to mention conventional knives).  If you get up close and personal in a knife fight, you almost certainly will get cut, if not much more severely injured.  It goes with the territory.

That's also why I tend towards larger, heavier calibers of handgun when in environments where that sort of danger may be a threat.  I want to stop anyone heading my way with such a weapon in their hands.  Smaller calibers and cartridges may work . . . but then again, they may not.


"Panic rooms" and "safe rooms" are greatly overrated


An article in the New York Post set me to thinking.

New Yorkers are fortifying their homes with panic rooms and bullet-proof doors like never before over fears about crime, migrants and national turmoil — and it’s not just the city’s elite partaking in the trend.

“Not every [customer] is an ultra-rich stockbroker — a lot of them are just people, middle-class kind of people,” said Steve Humble, founder of the home-defense contractor Creative Home Engineering.

“I’d say the pandemic really kicked off an uptick. Business was really good throughout the pandemic time, and it really hasn’t slowed down,” said Humble, who specializes in top-of-the-line secret doors disguised as bookshelves, fireplaces, mirrors, blank walls and whatever else a client can think of to conceal a safety room behind them.

He is one of numerous home-defense contractors who told The Post that the past four years have been a boon for business, with New Yorkers from all walks of life shelling out thousands of dollars to outfit their homes with hidden rooms, bulletproof doors and a swath of other covert security systems to keep the baddies at bay should they come knocking.

The driving force is a decline in New Yorkers’ sense of safety — assaults in the Big Apple reached 28,000 for the first time on record last year  — and the perceptible shift toward volatile instability that many people feel is ramping up across all of American society, Humble and others say.

There's more at the link.

I suppose a panic room might be a defense against a psycopathic nitwit who can't add two and two together to get four.  Such an assailant might not be able to distinguish between his shoe size and his IQ.  However, for almost all other attackers, a panic room simply gives them an excuse to rob the homeowner blind while he/she/they cower in their illusory "safe place", unable to stop them.  What's more, check the police response times in your neighborhood.  It often takes cops ten to fifteen minutes or more to respond to most 911 calls.  During that time, while you're cowering in your safe room, what are the home invaders doing to you and/or your possessions?

It gets worse.  Panic rooms offer an attacker an opportunity to murder everyone in the building, because they make it almost impossible to escape.  If the attacker simply strikes a match or two and sets fire to the place, how are those in the panic room to get away from the flames?  Panic rooms pin down their occupants, fix them in place.  It's no good saying that they can have hidden exits to escape such a fate;  those exits have to come out somewhere, and if (as it almost always is) those exits are on the same property (much less in the same building), who's to say they won't have caught fire by the time those in the panic room want to use them?  And what if they use them, only to emerge surrounded by frustrated attackers who've been looking for them?

Tying yourself down to a supposedly secure location, but one where you're unable to defend yourself against attackers, is a disaster waiting to happen.  I'd much rather harden the exterior of my home, making it as difficult as possible for someone to break in, and then defend my family and property from inside.  Even more tactically suitable would be to prevent the attackers from approaching in the first place.  This is why one should select a home in as safe a neighborhood as possible (although in today's climate of highly mobile criminals, street riots and other crimes, that safety may be illusory).

One last point.  If you're in an apartment building or condo complex, you've made yourself hostage to the security-mindedness and safety-consciousness (or lack thereof) of everyone else living there.  Trapping yourself above ground level is always a security risk.  You don't need an attacker to strike a match:  a domestic accident can start a fire just as easily as a criminal.  How are you going to get out of your apartment and down to ground level?  Are there multiple exits, and paths to reach those exits?  Is the building constructed of relatively fireproof materials?  What businesses or attractive targets are in the building that might attract criminals to it?  Unless and until those questions are satisfactorily answered (and, if necessary, their answers have persuaded you to move to a safer location), a panic or safe room is a lot lower on the priority list.

I won't worry about a panic room.  After eighteen years living (and frequently fighting) in a war zone, I'd rather arm myself and inflict panic on my attackers!


The madness of bureaucratic edicts


I had to do a double-take when confronted with this report from Britain.

Ford could resort to limiting the sales of its petrol cars in the UK, as it struggles to meet the electric car sales targets laid down in the government’s Zero-Emissions Vehicle Mandate.

Introduced at the start of this year, the ZEV mandate requires manufacturers to ensure that a minimum percentage of their overall sales are battery-powered, or face fines of up to £15,000 for every ICE car sold over the limit. This year, the target is set at 22 per cent, however, while EV sales continue to grow due to fleet demand, private buyers are proving reluctant to make the transition and EV targets are looking hard to meet.

. . .

[Ford's] European boss of its ‘Model e’ electric car division, Martin Sander, told the Financial Times’ Future of the Car Summit: “We can’t push EVs into the market against demand. We’re not going to pay penalties. We are not going to sell EVs at huge losses just to buy compliance. The only alternative is to take our shipments of [engine-powered] vehicles to the UK down, and sell these vehicles somewhere else”.

Sander warned that the impact of such a move could mean inflated prices for traditional petrol and diesel cars if consumer demand for ICE engined vehicles can’t be met by potentially limited supply.

There's more at the link.

So a bureaucratic edict founded in "junk science" and hotly disputed by engineers and scientists will result in would-be motorists not being allowed to purchase the vehicles they want, but rather forced to buy alternatives that are less fit for purpose, a great deal more expensive (and polluting) to produce, and requiring extremely expensive battery replacement after a relatively short time in use.  Doesn't that demonstrate the brilliance and ingenuity of bureaucrats?  "If we can't change people's taste in cars, we'll simply force a third party (i.e. vehicle manufacturers) to deprive them of the opportunity to exercise that taste.  That'll show them!"

What's even nicer for them, said bureaucrats are unelected, not subject to public scrutiny in their work, and insulated against kickback from the electorate they're supposed to serve and protect.  This policy is like an automotive version of the famous "Yes, Minister" comedy clip.

Or, there's the old saw from the early days of the computer revolution (which I was taught as an entry-level programmer back in the 1970's):  "If builders built buildings the way programmers write programs, then the first woodpecker to come along would destroy civilization."  I daresay bureaucrats double the destruction factor!

Bureaucrats.  Parasites.  But then, I repeat myself . . .  Sadly, we have too many of them in America.  It's one area where Britain and the USA are proudly emulating one another in grinding their citizens' faces into the administrative mud.


Wednesday, May 15, 2024

I need information about solar panels, please


I hope some of my readers will be knowledgable enough to help with information about a small solar power installation.  I don't want a whole-house, major-league installation:  just enough to charge a couple of power stations in case of need, and perhaps an additional storage battery in due course.

I note that most of the solar power vendors want to charge several times the actual cost of the solar panels, which can be determined easily enough through looking at importers' prices.  I object strenuously to being "milked" like a cow for all the money they can get out of me!  In particular, many of them won't sell solar panels alone - only as part of an overall "solution" that's far more than I either want or can afford.

I'm looking for panels that can generate 500W-1,000W on a good, clear day, although I can go a bit higher if necessary.  I'd prefer to use 2-4 panels, but not more, for ease of portability.  They'll be mounted on a frame (fixed or on wheels) in my back yard, not on the roof.  They have to conform to these specifications:

  • Total voltage:12-150V.
  • Total power: 3000W max.
  • Uses MC4 connectors or adapters.

If I need to reduce the power to charge smaller power stations, or to connect the panels to a power station for charging it, I'll also need the necessary equipment to do that.  They'll be used with Ecoflow and/or Bluetti power stations ranging from 500W to 5,000W in capacity.

If any reader can advise a reasonably good quality solar panel/s to fit that need, please let us know in Comments.  Please also advise on the type of frame that would be most suitable for the back yard, but would allow the panels to be brought under cover or otherwise protected when a Texas hailstorm arrives.  (Those are no fun:  right now, as I write these words, a team of roofers is stomping back and forth over my head, replacing our shingles as a result of a hailstorm last month.)

Also, if any reader can recommend a good introductory text, or video, or Web site to help me better understand the ins and outs of solar power, I'd be grateful.  Right now, I know only enough to be dangerous.  Thanks!


This may be TMI, but I know some readers may find it useful, so here goes


Regular readers will know that I underwent a kidney procedure last week.  It's a problem that often creeps up on a victim unawares, not revealing itself until it's fairly advanced;  and the consequences of dealing with it may be very uncomfortable and potentially embarrassing.  I'm writing this in the hope it may help readers who may one day face the same problem, so that they have more information than the doctors typically provide.  (I've been very unhappy by the casual, offhand, uninformative way two urologists have dealt with me so far.  Professionalism, it ain't!)

My problem is known as hydronephrosis.  Unfortunately, it did not make its presence felt until it was relatively far advanced, making treatment more difficult and possibly having already caused at least some permanent kidney damage.  Coming on top of another serious medical condition (of which more later), it's an unwanted, unneeded and excessively painful irritation, to put it mildly.

The first procedure, last week, implanted a stent in my ureter (the tube between kidney and bladder) to promote drainage.  Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to have worked as planned.  There's still a blockage, and at least one more procedure will be needed to deal with it.  A third may be necessary, but we're hoping and praying not.  Provided the kidney is still functional, that may make an end to the problem;  if the accumulated damage is too great, removal may follow.

Unfortunately, one of the side-effects of the stent has been to render my bladder completely uncontrollable.  When there's urine in it, no matter how much or how little, it's going to flow, whether I like it or not!  (It's also a rather painful process, but that's beside the point.)  That applies particularly whenever I stand up from a seated or lying position.  Within ten seconds, the urge to urinate becomes unstoppable.  Since I can't always make it to a bathroom in time, that means I have to temporarily wear adult incontinence diapers.

I've been astonished at the varying (in)effectiveness of most of the half-dozen products I've tried.  They almost all displayed one or more problems;  inadequate absorption (leading to embarrassing leaks), tearing, poor fit, discomfort and other issues.  The only one that (in my limited experience) fully lived up to its billing and worked exactly as advertised is the Tranquility Premium Overnight brand.

It's sizing chart was accurate, and its biggest size is definitely adequate for large people (something all other brands of similar size got wrong).  The wrapping claims absorption of up to 34 oz (approximately one quart) or 1,005 ml (approximately one liter), and it lives up to its claim.  Even under the heaviest flows, it stays in place and soaks them up without fuss or bother.  (A daytime version of the same product does almost as well, but the overnight version offers greater absorption, so it's the one I prefer to use).  It's relatively comfortable to wear, although conventional underwear should be worn on top in order to hold it in place, particularly when weighed down by contents, so to speak.

I was disappointed and frustrated to find that other brands simply did not live up to their claims.  I won't list all those I tried, because I don't see any point - none of them were worth what I paid for them.  The Tranquility product is the only one where I've been willing, after trying it, to place a bulk order in the confidence that it'll do the job.  Those of you who may face the need for incontinence diapers at some stage might want to make a note of the name, rather than waste your money on less effective products.  (No, Tranquility isn't paying me in cash or in kind to promote their diapers.  They don't even know I'm writing this.  I just want to let my friends and readers know about something that may be important to them if things go wrong - and believe me, something like this is a pretty fundamental need at times like that!)

I see the urologist again today to discuss the next procedure.  Hopefully, after that's done and time has been allowed for healing, I won't need these any more.  I'll cross my fingers and tie knots in what I can't cross, hoping for the best!


Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Battle of the bots: air drones versus ground drones


Twitter/X user Yam Peleg brings us a video clip of ground unmanned vehicles (drones) being attacked by suicide unmanned aerial vehicles (also drones).  Go watch.  It's worth your time.

One suspects this may be the future of ground combat between technologically capable adversaries.  Why risk a human life when you can send an automated system to do his job?  And why counter the adversary with a human when another automated system will be at least as, if not more, efficient?

As I've said before, in this technological age, I'm glad I'm not an infantryman any longer . . .


That's a lot of wind beneath their wings...


A report at The War Zone brought back many military (and other) memories.

After an extraordinary career spanning more than 80 years of service, and plenty of operational missions, the South African Air Force (SAAF) is preparing to retire its last C-47 Dakotas. Remarkably, the SAAF is moving to discard its C-47s while, at the same time, elsewhere around the globe, turboprop versions of the venerable transport continue to win orders.

The story of the Dakota in SAAF service stretches all the way back to 1943 when the service was fighting in World War Two. Most extraordinary, perhaps, is that among the very last Dakotas operated by the SAAF, most had been delivered during that conflict, having started life as C-47s manufactured for the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF).

By June next year the South African Air Force will have been operating C-47 Dakotas continuously for 80 years, albeit much upgraded. Even more astounding is that some airframes still in active service have been there from the start, with the oldest (6825) delivered in Feb 1944.

The SAAF’s Dakota fleet, however, saw its most extensive combat service during the long-running conflict in South West Africa (now known as Namibia) and Angola, supporting South African Defence Force (SADF) units during the so-called Border War between 1966 and 1989. The SADF relied heavily on the Dakota for troop transport, resupply, medical evacuation, paratrooping, and other missions, its importance was heightened by the sanctions on Apartheid South Africa that complicated the procurement of alternative equipment.

By the 1980s, the SAAF operated the largest fleet of Dakotas anywhere in the world — close to 50 in total. However, the demise of minority rule in South Africa, and the end of the Border War, saw the Dakota — and the SAAF more generally — switch increasingly to peacetime missions, especially humanitarian work. At the same time, Dakota squadrons were rationalized, and the fleet was reduced in size.

There's more at the link.

The SAAF's C-47's flew in combat zones many times over the years.  They were the primary transport for secondary military air routes in South Africa and then-South West Africa (today Namibia), with C-130's and C-160's handling the busier routes.  During the Rhodesian War many SAAF C-47's and Alouette III helicopters were "loaned" to Rhodesia, supplementing that country's small Air Force for "Fireforce" anti-terrorist missions and cross-border operations into Zambia and Mozambique.  During South Africa's own Border War in the 1980's they were the shorter-range backbone of air transport operations, including one (shown below) that had an argument with a SA-7 Strela anti-aircraft missile and barely made it back to an airport in time to avoid crashing.

I flew many thousands of miles aboard SAAF C-47's, including one that was so old its logbook recorded it dropping paratroopers at Arnhem in 1944 as part of Operation Market Garden - the so-called "Bridge Too Far" airborne assault.  It was in remarkably good shape for an aircraft that had been "rode hard and put away wet" for almost 40 years by the time I flew in it.  That particular aircraft is still in service, having been converted to turboprop propulsion along with the SAAF's other surviving C-47's.  I also traveled aboard the civilian DC-3 transports of Air Cape, flying along the Garden Route to and from Cape Town.  Even in the 1980's, dirt and grass airfields were still in use at some of the small towns there, with no all-weather runways.  Things could get bouncy during takeoff and landing, and occasionally the pilot would have to make a couple of low passes to chase a cow or two off the runway before he could land!

The SAAF Museum still has a flying example of the C-47 as built, with its original Pratt & Whitney engines.  Here's its C-47 showing off at an air display.  It's not a very good video, but it's the best I could find on YouTube.

I wonder what the SAAF will buy to replace its C-47's?  There's no doubt that it needs a replacement, both for transport and for coastal maritime reconnaissance (both roles currently filled by the C-47), but the SAAF's aircraft fleet is in very parlous condition at present, with a minimal budget and very few skilled maintainers left to keep it flying.  The service is a pale shadow of what it was in the 1980's, when it was undoubtedly the premier air force in sub-Saharan Africa, with skills and operational experience on a par with most NATO air arms.

Despite its age and long overdue need for replacement, it'll be sad to see the last of the SAAF's C-47's take a final bow and retire into history.


Remember what I said about the FBI?


A few years ago I wrote an article titled "The FBI can no longer be trusted in any way, shape or form".  Given the latest news about the shenanigans of the General Services Administration, I'm thinking that warning should be applied to the entire federal bureaucracy, not just the FBI or the Justice Department.  Second City Cop reports:

So the feebs brought along props, used them in "evidence" photographs, then leaked the photos to the media. Laughable. And now it turns out that all those boxes of "classified" documents were:

  • actually in the possession of the General Services Administration;
  • packed by the GSA;
  • delivered to Trump by the GSA;
  • who then "tipped off" the feebs about supposed "classified" info.

. . . 

Even a third-world banana republic is more competent framing people that this outfit.

There's more at the link, including a link to another article providing further details.

I hope there will one day be an in-depth investigation into any and every government employee, department, agency and entity involved in the ongoing quasi-legal persecution of President Trump, with condign punishment meted out to everyone responsible for such shenanigans.  That's unlikely to happen under a Democratic Party administration, but there's always a chance that might change - one way or another.


Monday, May 13, 2024

How long until he's assassinated?


I note that the President-elect of Panama has vowed to stop the influx of migrants across his country towards the USA.

President-elect Jose Raul Mulino vowed to shut down a crucial migration gap through Panama that has been used by more than 500,000 migrants over the last year, signaling a shift in the country’s policy as the US continues to battle a crisis at its southern border, according to a report from Voice of America.

“Panama and our Darien [Gap] are not a transit route. It is our border,” Mulino said, according to the report.

Panama had previously helped bus migrants through the critical gap and allowed them to continue their journey north, a policy that has allowed thousands to reach the US border with Mexico.

There's more at the link.

That sounds like good news for us, but it's unlikely to succeed.  For a start, international organizations ranging from the United Nations to NGO's are all trying to facilitate migration from South America through Panama to Mexico, and ultimately to the USA.  To make matters worse, drug cartels in Mexico and countries south are making billions of dollars by transporting such migrants to our borders.  Finally, the Biden administration and the Democratic Party are openly admitting as many migrants as they can, in an attempt to change the future makeup of the US electorate to favor their policies.

With all those interests arrayed against him, how can President-elect Mulino hope to succeed?  I'm willing to bet large sums of money that he'll be "persuaded" through bribery and/or threats (the infamous "plata o plomo" question) to change his tune.  If he doesn't, I'm equally willing to bet that he'll be assassinated or otherwise removed from office (a fraudulent, rigged investigation for corruption, perhaps?) as quickly as possible.  He threatens too many powerful, rich constituencies with his proposal, and they won't stand for it.

I certainly hope he succeeds with his proposed policies . . . but I don't think he stands a snowball's chance in hell.  The forces arrayed against him, politically, criminally and monetarily, are simply too powerful.  I'd love to be wrong about that, but I doubt it.


How badly is the next harvest already affected?


As if we didn't have enough problems with our food supply already, it appears that the recent solar storms have created new difficulties for farmers.

The solar storm that brought the aurora borealis to large parts of the United States this weekend also broke critical GPS and precision farming functionality in tractors and agricultural equipment during a critical point of the planting season.

. . .

“All the tractors are sitting at the ends of the field right now shut down because of the solar storm,” Kevin Kenney, a farmer in Nebraska, told me. “No GPS. We’re right in the middle of corn planting. I’ll bet the commodity markets spike Monday.”

. . .

“Due to the way the RTK network works, the base stations were sending out corrections that have been affected by the geomagnetic storm and were causing drastic shifts in the field and even some heading changes that were drastic,” the dealership told farmers Saturday morning. “When you head back into these fields to side dress, spray, cultivate, harvest, etc. over the next several months, we expect that the rows won't be where the AutoPath lines think they are. This will only affect the fields that are planted during times of reduced accuracy. It is most likely going to be difficult—if not impossible—to make AutoPath work in these fields as the inaccuracy is most likely inconsistent.”

These automated systems have become critical to modern farming (often called “precision agriculture”), with farmers using increasingly automated tractors to plant crops in perfectly straight lines with uniform spacing. Precision agriculture has greatly increased the yield of farms, and a 2023 report by the US Department of Agriculture noted that more than 50 percent of corn, cotton, rice, sorghum, soybeans, and winter wheat are planted and harvested with “automated guidance.” Many modern tractors essentially steer themselves, with the oversight of a farmer in the cab. If the planting or harvesting is even slightly off, the tractors or harvesters could damage crops or plant crooked or inconsistently, which can cause problems during the growing season and ultimately reduce yield.

There's more at the link.

I called a couple of farming friends and asked them about this.  All agreed that for the big commercial farms, it might be a very serious problem indeed.  It seems that big automated tractors and other machinery electronically map the location of the seed rows they plant, and use those maps throughout the growing season to navigate to them to spread fertilizer, pull weeds, and eventually harvest the crop.  If the initial maps are not accurate, then future work on those seeds might miss them by feet or yards, meaning that they won't be properly fertilized and protected during their growth.  The harvest from those rows might be reduced substantially as a result.

Can farmers compensate manually for this failure of their automated systems?  I have no idea.  I presume that once seeds start to grow, the plants can be seen with the naked eye and fertilized, weeded, etc. accordingly, but how many commercial farms are set up to work that way?  As far as I know, most of them reduce their workers to a bare minimum prior to harvest, because automated systems do most of the work formerly done by hand.  If they have to revert to the old ways to care for a proportion of their crops, is that even possible today?  Do they have enough staff and older-style equipment to do so?

Another question is, how many farms, and how many seed rows, have been affected?  If farmers planted (say) 10% or 20% of their crops for this year in an inaccurate fashion, will yields be reduced by a similar proportion?  That might be disastrous for contracts, futures trades, exports, and all sorts of other industries that rely on farm production as an input for their own business activities.  What's more, I don't know whether crop insurance, that would pay out if bad weather, drought, fire, etc. affected a farm's production, will pay out over navigational errors like this.  I don't think the problem has ever arisen before, so it's possible the insurance policies don't even mention the issue.

I suspect smaller farms won't be as badly affected, as they're less likely to be able to afford the (very expensive) GPS-guided farm equipment involved.  However, they also don't produce a large proportion of the crops in this country.  "Big Ag" might be in for a torrid time this harvest season - and what will that do to food prices and availability, not just in this country, but around the world?  Commercial farms all over the world use the same technology these days, so the issue is unlikely to be confined to the USA.

Yet another reason, IMHO, to make sure our emergency preparations include a reasonable amount of food in reserve, just in case.  I'm going to keep an eye on the cost of frozen and canned vegetables, flour, etc.  I suspect some may become a lot more expensive as shortages bite.


Memes that made me laugh 209


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

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Sunday morning music


I'm enjoying the music of a late Baroque composer new to me, Johann Wilhelm Hertel.  He was prolific, leaving a very large corpus of music on his death, but is little performed today.

Here's his Concerto for Oboe in G Minor.  The soloist is Meike Güldenhaupt, performing with the Main-Barockorchester Frankfurt.

You'll find more of his works on YouTube.


Saturday, May 11, 2024

On the mend


Well, three days after the procedure I'm still alive, kicking and eating my salad from the top down rather than from the roots up.  So far, so good.

I see the surgeon next week for a follow-up, and there'll be a second procedure soon after that to try to complete the job that couldn't be done in a single pass.  Things get complicated when organs have to be given time to drain!  If all goes well, that'll be the end of that particular problem;  but if things don't go well, I may need a third surgery to remove a kidney.  Needless to say, I'm hoping that won't be necessary.

Once this problem is out of the way, there's a bigger one on the horizon.  Thanks to bureaucratic infighting, I'll probably have to launch a GiveSendGo fundraiser for assistance with that one.  I'll tell you more about it in a few weeks.

Meanwhile, thank you all very much for your prayers and support.  They mean a lot to me.


Friday, May 10, 2024

The Rules of Sewage?


I came across this on Gab the other day.  I'm not sure I agree with all of it, but it's certainly food for thought.

The rules of sewage:

Imagine you have two cups. One contains the purest, clearest, most wonderful water possible. The other, raw sewage. When you mix the two, you get sewage. The same for a cup of sewage and a pitcher of water, or a barrel of water. Regardless of the size of the pure water container, the sewage contaminates it.

This became the root of what I refer to as “The Rules of Sewage” in regards to a person’s character. This one is the First Rule of Sewage, The Non-Proportional Rule of Sewage. It means, as the saying above goes, that you can sometimes learn a thing about a person that taints the entirety of their personality – e.g., a person beats their spouse. It doesn’t matter what else they are, what acts they do, they are polluted by that one thing.

This simmered in my mind over a couple of years, and I started to formulate other Rules of Sewage. Each was based on the same base concept – mixing water and sewage. Thus far I’ve come up with six.

The Second Rule of Sewage is the Non-Compartmentalized Rule of Sewage. You cannot pour a cup of sewage into a container of water, and have it only remain in the place you poured it. Bad character leaks into other elements of character. E.g., a person who cheats on their spouse – thus breaking a sacred oath – cannot be counted on to keep an oath in any other part of their life.

The Third Rule of Sewage is the Immersive Rule of Sewage. Imagine an edible fish taken from that pure water, placed in sewage, and somehow surviving – no matter the fish’s immune system and other defenses, it will become contaminated. No matter how pure you are to begin with, if you are surrounded by bad people or bad content, it will start to affect you. E.g., a good, honest person who goes to work in a place with bad ethics and stays there – for whatever reason – will sooner or later find they are making compromises to their own character and standards, and rationalizing their doing so. (And this is, of course, the root of the proverb “Birds of a feather, flock together.”)

The Fourth Rule of Sewage is Irreversible Rule of Sewage. Simply put, it’s a lot easier to mix the sewage in and ruin the water than reversing the process. While people are certainly capable of change, it takes deliberate effort to do so, and usually also an ongoing awareness and maintenance of that change to avoid slipping back to whatever factor is being avoided.

The Fifth Rule of Sewage is the Odiferous Rule of Sewage. Sewage, to put it bluntly, stinks like sh*t. Bad odors like that can be covered up or contained, but not forever. Sooner or later the malodorous item in a person’s character will out, and be readily apparent. This actually ties in with…

The Sixth Rule of Sewage, the Reactive Rule of Sewage – when faced with a tank of sewage, normal people react negatively. And while a person learning something about another (ref: Rule One) won’t physically turn their head away and scrunch up their face in disgust, I believe the plain truth is that upon learning of such a think will cause a decent person to dissociate – to whatever degree possible – from the other. Failing to do so, or worse expressing approval, could be considered an example application of Rule One about them too.

I can certainly get on board with the Sixth Rule, often expressed as "Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas".  What do you think of the rest?


Thursday, May 9, 2024

How hungry did you say you were?


THIS hungry!  Found on Gab (clickit to biggit):

One look at that and my convalescing body is demanding to go back to the ER, stat!


One step forward, but not far enough


My deepest thanks to everyone who kept me in thought and prayer for my procedure yesterday.  It was partially successful, but the surgeon discovered additional problems that prevented him from completing it.  I'm going to have to go back next week for additional tests, followed by another procedure.  I hope that will deal with the current problem, but that remains to be seen.

I'll also have to check on the costs involved.  We could cope with the co-pay (several thousand dollars) for one procedure, but a second (assuming it costs a similar amount) will be cause for concern, as will a different and much more complex procedure likely to be needed soon.  I know some of my European and Canadian readers will likely argue that the subsidized cost of national health care in their countries makes such procedures much more affordable, but it can also take months (sometimes even years) to get the attention one needs.  Here, it's more expensive but faster, and (unlike Canada) I don't have to put up with bureaucrats encouraging me to kill myself instead, to save money for the health care system.  (I don't think they'd appreciate my response.)

Meanwhile, I'm in a lot of pain, resting at home and trying to cope with the aftereffects of the first procedure.  I think my wife is rapidly building up her sainthood points as she puts up with my grumpiness, helps me gently and lovingly to get around and do what I can, and proves every time how lucky (and wise) I was to marry her.  I'd hate to be facing this without her love and support.

Blogging will be sparse for the next few days, because my sleep schedule and ability to sit at the computer are subject to change without notice.  I'll see about putting up something more substantial later today, mobility and pain level permitting.

Thanks again for your prayers.  Please keep them coming!


Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Medical hiatus


Tomorrow morning, Wednesday 7th May, I'm scheduled to undergo a surgical procedure.  I hope to be out of hospital the same day, if all goes well, followed by a week or two of recovery at home, probably with some home health nursing thrown in.  If all goes well, it should be a relatively simple procedure;  but there are ramifications that may turn it into something much more complicated.  The surgeon won't know until he gets in there and can take a look.  I'll be very grateful for your prayers for healing, please.

I won't be blogging tomorrow, and possibly for a day or two after that, depending on how things go.  While I'm offline, please amuse yourselves with the bloggers listed in my sidebar.  I'll be back online as soon as I can manage it.

Thanks, y'all.  Enjoy the peace and quiet while I'm gone.


Two hundred years ago today...


... Beethoven's Ninth Symphony was performed for the first time in Vienna, Austria.  It went on to become perhaps the best-known symphony in the classical music repertoire.  The anniversary is being celebrated there with all due pomp and ceremony.

The symphony, widely regarded as one of the great masterpieces of Western classical music and culminating in the Ode to Joy, was first performed in 1824 in Vienna, where the German composer lived and worked for most of his life.

Now the city is celebrating with a series of performances of the symphony, notably by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by famed Italian Riccardo Muti.

“It's the whole world to us to be able to sing this wonderful message of love,” Heidrun Irene Mittermair, an alto in the Vienna Singverein Choir, told the BBC. “You're lifted up at the end, when you're singing.”

Heidrun, like the rest of the singers in the Singverein Choir, is not a professional musician - she’s a schoolteacher. But her choir sings at Vienna’s famous Musikverein Concert hall, with the Vienna Philharmonic, one of the world’s finest orchestras.

Over the past few days, the choir has been singing the stirring Ode to Joy, the choral finale of Beethoven’s Ninth. Based on a poem by Friedrich von Schiller, it embraces a vision of universal brotherhood.

The musicologist Otto Biba said the symphony was revolutionary, partly because it culminated with singing.

“It was a symphony, but with something new in the fourth movement. There was a choir on the stage and the soloists were starting to sing," he said. "There were so many new details. It was very difficult for the musicians, and very experimental.”

“Beethoven opened the door to the future. It's a work left by Beethoven for the next generation,” Mr Biba said.

There's more at the link.

It's worth remembering that Beethoven composed this symphony while almost completely deaf.  At its premiere performance, conducted by Michael Umlauf, Beethoven was on stage as well, and tried to conduct his own work, but lost his sense of timing due to his deafness.  At the end of the piece: 

Beethoven was several bars off and still conducting; the contralto Caroline Unger walked over and gently turned Beethoven around to accept the audience's cheers and applause. According to the critic for the Theater-Zeitung, "the public received the musical hero with the utmost respect and sympathy, listened to his wonderful, gigantic creations with the most absorbed attention and broke out in jubilant applause, often during sections, and repeatedly at the end of them." The audience acclaimed him through standing ovations five times; there were handkerchiefs in the air, hats, and raised hands, so that Beethoven, who they knew could not hear the applause, could at least see the ovations.

For those who've never been to Vienna, and never heard the world-famous Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra or seen the Musikverein, here are both of them in a single video.

Timeless indeed, and well worth commemorating on this anniversary.


The 2024 election campaign in a nutshell

Stephan Pastis, as usual, says it all.  Click the image to be taken to a larger view at the "Pearls Before Swine" Web page.

Yet again, let me point out that with all the manipulation, lying, cheating and deception going on - from both sides of the political aisle - we should not expect a free, fair election in November.  Shenanigans will be the order of the day.  Do not trust any professional politician (i.e. one who's done nothing else except work in politics since leaving high school or college).  If they've grown up in and through that system, they're as untrustworthy as that system.  By all means pick one's flavor of politician and vote for them, but don't expect that to change or improve our society.  I reckon we could count the moral, ethical, honest, upright politicians in the House or the Senate on the fingers of one hand, two at most.

Remember the acronym TINVOWOOT - There Is No Voting Our Way Out Of This - because you're going to be hearing it a lot between now and then.


Monday, May 6, 2024

Talk about clutter!


I was taken aback by a photograph of the latest generation of M2 Bradley armored fighting vehicles, the M2A4E1.  I've closed in on the turret in this picture, cutting out most of the body.  Click the image for a larger view.

That's an awfully cluttered turret, isn't it?  It's got stuff hanging off it every which way you look.  I'm sure they're all valuable and useful items, but they're not under the protection of the armor plate in the vehicle's hull and turret.  They're stuck out in the open, exposed.

When I was shooting at the Other Side, way back when, we were delighted to see enemy vehicles with that sort of improvised, hodge-podge installation of equipment, precisely because it was so easy to damage.  One burst from a machine-gun, or one or two air-burst artillery rounds, or even a collision with a low-hanging tree branch (common in the African bush warfare environment), and that equipment would be at best damaged, at worst destroyed.  It was simply too fragile for a combat environment.

I'm sure the Army has done its best to protect all those exposed systems, putting them in armored boxes, leading as much as possible of the wiring inside and under cover, and so on.  Nevertheless, stuck out there like that, they're inevitably more vulnerable to damage or destruction than they should have been.  In a battlefield environment that depends as much as ours do today on latest-generation systems and networking, that's dangerous.  Can the vehicle, or those inside it, continue to fight effectively if their systems are blinded or shut down?

In the Army's shoes, I'd have insisted on an all-new turret design, putting all those tools behind armor and giving them a lot more protection.  Perhaps that would have been too expensive.  Nevertheless, I'd be very unhappy about having my critical combat systems exposed like that.  There's too much that can be damaged too easily.  What say you, veteran readers?


When helping others may be hazardous to your freedom


Friend of the blog Lawdog has written an emotive and (I think) very important article titled "Meditations On Duty".  Here are a few excerpts.

Every day we are bombarded with news articles about District Attorneys campaigning for “No bail requirements”, “Reduced sentencing”, “Alternate sentencing”, all of which appears — in some cases outrighted stated — to give felons and habitual criminals a leg up.

We are continually shown footage of riots in major cities and at universities where the rioters arsonists, and violent thugs are treated with kid gloves.

Just or otherwise, there is a very definite perception that District Attorneys would much rather throw the book at someone with no previous criminal history, while the felons and violent thugs get deals.

On the other paw, for a man to be even hinted at any variety of sexual offence, whether it be harassment or outright rape, is to be guilty until proven innocent.

And to certain parts of the howling Internet mobs you can never be innocent — and they will make it a crusade to destroy your life.

. . .

I find myself in a position that I’ve never been in before. All of my life I have known that if people needed to be helped, I should help them — I’ve literally been a Boy Scout. All of my adult life I have known that if there is gun-fire, I will run to that sound and protect people.

I … don’t know anymore.

It’s already started. If Rita isn’t with me, I will not stop to help a female stranger, or children. I will call local law enforcement and have them sent there, but without Rita being present I will not offer aid on my own. That goes double if there are children involved.

And that mortifies me, but the risk of having my life destroyed with false allegations is not worth it.

For the first time in my life I do not know what I will do if gunfire erupts in a public place where I am.

If a spree shooter attacks a public place where I am, or am near — I will get family and friends to safety, but after that I literally do not know.

Do I run to the sound of gunfire and solve the problem? I’ve already been the victim of wrongful prosecution once, do I risk that again? Do I take a chance going up against a protected class, and earning the “mostly peaceful” wrath of the howling mob, and a legacy media that lives for stirring up rioters?

There's more at the link.  Go read the whole thing.  It's worth your time.

Remember, too, that Lawdog is a retired officer of the law.  He's spent a career fighting crime and criminals.  If he, in his position, is no longer certain that he can engage evildoers without being tarred with their brush by a politically correct or "woke" justice system, how much more so should we, private citizens, be worried about the same reality?  We can't claim prior and extensive experience in dealing with crime to justify our intervening to help its victims.  We don't have the "protection", in the eyes of the law, that Lawdog has.

Today, we have to accept that in very large parts of these United States the justice system has been warped and twisted along "woke" lines, so that it today protects the politically correct cause du jour and its adherents.  If one doesn't belong to that group, one is almost automatically at greater risk from the authorities, irrespective of the facts of the situation.  Over the past few years I've written a number of articles about this conundrum.  In case you missed any of them, I'll link them below.  I highly recommend that you take time to read them and think about them, because the situations they describe might confront you at any time in this crazy world we live in.

Updating and revising our approach to self-defense:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
What happens if you can't trust
the police to do their job?

In particular, note the problems involved in trying to remain anonymous if you live in a "woke" judicial environment, and don't want to be connected to otherwise legitimate acts of self-defense.  The first article in the list above addresses that issue.  Also, I've said before that a revolver is no longer the optimum choice as a personal defense weapon, because it holds too few rounds to deal with a mob or gang situation.  That remains true:  but there's a countervailing argument that unlike a semi-automatic pistol, a revolver doesn't spit out cartridge cases all over the scene, which can later be analyzed.  There's something to be said for that if you're in a hostile, unreasonable, biased prosecutorial environment.  To make up for the limited number of rounds in a revolver, carry one chambered for the biggest, most powerful cartridge one can control in rapid, aimed fire.  Hitting harder is seldom a bad idea in defensive shooting.

Suffice it to say that in a prosecutorial environment that's as (or more) likely to punish the good guy as the bad, discretion is our watchword.  If, despite that, we choose to intervene, we'd better do so with our eyes wide open as to what trouble that may bring down on our heads.  We should have a good lawyer on speed dial, and refuse to say anything unless and until he/she is with us and has had an opportunity to brief us.  Furthermore, we should minimize the ease with which rogue prosecutors and shyster lawyers can go after us.  This does not include tampering with evidence (which is a crime in itself), but simply observing due caution and discretion is never a bad thing.  Our defense attorneys will thank us for that.

Finally, no matter why or how we've intervened, don't speak to police or anyone else after such an incident unless and until our lawyer(s) has/have interviewed us and briefed us about what may, or should not, be said.  It's too easy to talk ourselves into a jail cell!  Here's a law professor's view of that, and Massad Ayoob's limited corollary to that perspective.  Both are worth watching in full.

Food for thought.