Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Not All Coyotes

I read James Lileks' Bleat -- the one in question is here -- about every day that he writes it.  Lileks is a conservative and a newspaper man.  He might be called a humorist.  He is funny in a cerebral way.  I don't think I have ever laughed out loud at his writings, unlike, say, Dave Barry, but I am often amused and intrigued.

He has a bit in the linked Bleat taking offense at a Dennis Prager tweet: "The news media pose a far greater danger to Western Civilization than Russia does."  Lileks argues that this is equivalent to someone saying, "We must eliminate quadrapeds because they eat cats", when what they really mean is that coyotes are eating cats.

Lileks makes a couple of serious errors in this.  First, Prager's tweet makes no mention of eliminating journalists or the news media.  I can't speak for Prager -- though I agree with his statement.  I do not believe the media should be eliminated.  It should be honest about its biases.  No one is objective.  I'm not.  Dan Rather is not.  Walter Cronkite was not.  Fox News is not. CNN, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, no one is objective.  A person or an organization is most susceptible to being led astray by their prejudices when they refuse to recognize them.

For example, I am bias toward beef, foxes, Chevrolet, Yamaha, Remington, Ruger, and, now Glock.  I am more or less neutral toward a bunch of other things, and I am bias against chicken, sushi, most "seafood", Democrats, copperheads, and coyotes.  But that's coyotes as opposed to foxes.  I am glad coyotes are in the world -- much more so than copperheads and Democrats.  Really, I wouldn't even want to eliminate copperheads from the planet.

Now if CNN, the idiots on the Today Show, the producers of sitcoms and cop shows, et al, would simply admit that they are leftists, socialists, anti-American and antichrists, I would be cool with them lying about whatever they want to lie about.  I don't want them eliminated.  I don't think Prager does either.  Thus Lileks' analogy fails on that point.

Second, the category should have been coyotes.  Quadrapeds is not comparable.  Prager wasn't saying screen writers, novelists, Youtube channels, or even opinion journalists.  He said "news media".  Not all coyotes, you see, eat cats.  Some coyotes have probably never seen a domestic cat.  For all I know, some coyotes may not like the taste of cat.  Some coyotes, though, live in or near suburban areas where small dogs -- or even large dogs, and pet cats may wander around unwatched and unprotected.  These suburban coyotes are going to eat those poor, naive creatures if they get a chance.  Again, it doesn't mean they should be eliminated, but their nature and presence have to be taken into consideration by pet owners.

It's the same with the news media.  They are a part of the information ecosystem, but they are a dangerous part.  They are most dangerous when they are not challenged, when we are not on our guard against their biases.  They are not to be trusted any more than a coyote in the brush is to be trusted with Fluffy.  Again, in that regard, it appears to me that Lileks fails in his analogy. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Charity and Where It Begins



I usually don't quote Scripture here, however sometimes we need the reminders.
 

But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household … for this is pleasing in the sight of God …But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.  1 Timothy 5:4,8


This is from the ESV.  You can read it in most any version and in context and the meaning is not changed.  First, you take care of your own.  Your family and your kin are the number one priority.  The same is true for everyone, not just Americans, and not just those of northwest European descent.  The same holds true in Mexico, Mongolia, and Mozambique.  If you won’t take care of your own people, why should I? 

One of the great errors of American foreign policy has been foreign aid, billions of dollars poured into third-world ratholes around the world that remain, surprisingly, after seventy years, third-world ratholes albeit with cell phones.  The aid that comes in funds corruption, for the most part.  Aid to Somalia funded the warlords who ravaged the country and led to the ‘Blackhawk Down’ episode.  It happens everywhere.  We feed people who cannot feed themselves, and yet we get more of them to feed.  Funny how that works.

The same in true of the “war on poverty” in this country – we give money to people for sitting on their butts and having babies.  We are then simply shocked and astounded when people sit on their butts more and have more babies.  We hand welfare to invaders and colonizers crossing our borders illegally and puzzle over why the influx of illegals continues. 

But Christianity requires us to help those in need.  Love thy neighbor.  The Good Samaritan.  Yeah, read what’s up above again.  Love your family first.  Put your own people first.  Then, if you want to try and give someone a hand up, do it, but do it with your own money and not mine.  Let’s all be Pro-Choice – as in, I would like to choose what I fund.  Let your compassion start from your own bank account.

Monday, May 22, 2017

CRKT Clever Girl -- A Biker Blade

I picked this knife up last fall at the Smoky Mountain Knife Works store in Sevierville, TN (childhood home of Dolly Parton) when we drove around through some of the Southeastern United States.  This was about the time they were having some of the big fires around there.  If you are ever in that part of Tennessee, it is worth stopping in Sevierville (which is apparently pronounced "severe-ville", instead of sev-e-Ya), and the SMKW store is like the Bass Pro in Springfield, MO.  It's cool.   


I was interested in this knife for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is the story behind it and the designer, Army veteran Austin McGlaun.  CRKT has a series of these Forged by War knives where some of the profits go the charity of the maker's choice.  

Another reason I decided to pick up this knife was the sheath.  It locks in solidly and can be attached to belt or pack in a number of configurations.  This high, haft-forward crossdraw works well for me.  If I wanted to conceal it -- not that I normally would, a loose-fitting, untucked t-shirt hides it adequately as long as I am standing.  I have to push it back on my ribs a little more when I sit down.

A third reason I decided on this particular blade is the size and construction.  A four and half to five inch blade on a belt knife is a good size for almost any task, neither too big nor too small.  Blade length on the Clever Girl is 4.6" and 10.125" overall.  The blade material of the factory knife is high carbon SK5.  It is hard and holds an edge well.  I worry just a little about brittleness, but I've had no reason to worry so far.  

The spine of the blade is about 3/16" (4mm) through the haft and at the base of the blade, tapering to needle point on the upswept end.  Again, an alarm bell sounds with regard to snapping off the tip, but I'm not going to be throwing it.

The blade shape lends itself to slashing, if I were going to use it defensively.  Upward thrusts in a hammer grip also seem a natural movement.  It looks deadly in an ice-pick grip as well.  From a more utilitarian, less deadly view, it would also make a nice skinner with that upswept tip, reminiscient of a classic Persian sword.  I'm sure it will peel potatoes and slice and dice all your camp and trail comestibles.

What it is NOT is a chopper.  The knife is handle heavy, with the balance point being a good inch behind the blade.  It will be a quick blade.  The pommel, meanwhile, has a "glass breaker" and is solid.  Carry something else to chop your camp wood.  Except in an emergency, I probably would be afraid to baton the knife, and even then I would be reluctant.  There just isn't enough blade out on the sharp end.

If you are looking for an all-around, do-everything camp/bushcraft knife, this is not, repeat, not it.  Again will work great for skinning and cutting up meat -- whether the object in question is alive or not.  Self-defense in extreme circumstances, such as occur in war zones abroad or at home, is clearly the intended purpose, and no one needs to apologize for that, any more than they need to apologize for making a Glock 19 or Smith & Wesson snubnose.

I called it a "biker knife", not, though, because I think Sons of Anarchy is representative of motorcycle riders or bike culture, but because, as bikers, we sometimes find ourselves in situations where a belt knife is handy.  Even a one-hand opening lockback can be a challenge to handle while wearing winter gloves.  If you need one in a hurry to cut something free from a belt or chain, for example, pulling a good cutting blade out of a tight-fitting Kydex sheath is faster than fumbling with a thumb stub or a retaining strap.    And, as bikers, we tend to be supportive of veterans.  This is an opportunity to show that support by paying a little extra for a quality product that helps out those who have earned our respect and gratitude.  

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The End of Innocence and Neutrality

Or maybe it's the end of the neutrality of innocence, but it seems to me that the left's voting bloc in America is rife with innocents -- people who have never, for various reasons, had to break a sweat except in a hot yoga class.  We have raised a couple of generations where people have little exposure to the real world, and it is only getting worse when you do most of what you do virtually while sitting on your couch.

It's not that I mind.  I take advantage of it, too.  It's convenient that you don't have to go anywhere, just order it off Amazon.  Doesn't matter what you need, you can get it delivered to your door.  Recreation is a video game for, apparently, millions of people.  Why go to the movies when you can watch it on NetFlix or Prime?  The stuff on there is better than most movies anyway.

The whole idea of "safe spaces" is an attempt to maintain an artificial innocence through denial.  Bullying used to mean a more powerful person abusing someone who could not fight back effectively.  Now it means saying something that another person chooses to find offensive, e.g., not using a pronoun of choice.

Even as the left side of the spectrum expands its bubble of ersatz innocence, many on the right find themselves losing their innocence with regard to the viability of the United States as a constitutional republic.  Those of us who have clung to our Classical Liberal values in addition to our guns and religion are being told that our skin and our sexual plumbing constitute our uniform in this new warfare.  Our brave new world has no place for neutrality.  Moderates will be fired upon by both sides.

I have seen and lived in the best of worlds.  Part of that was, of course, a function of my own youthful innocence.  Though I think we did live in a world of promise and hope -- not the bogus, socialist, utopian bullshit offered by the political class -- but a genuine hope that the world was getting better, life was getting easier, people were less fearful, and, to use a biblical phrase, knowledge was increasing.

The trouble is, to use a hillbilly expression, some people can't stand prosperity.  The story of the football player who committed suicide in his jail cell this week is one more stitch in the vast, tragic tapestry of human hubris that goes back to Eden.  We never know when we are well off and when we ought to leave well enough alone.

Technology can never eliminate the sinful nature of man.  Spiritual problems are not solved by material means.  Modern man believed he could conquer human nature as he had conquered the natural world, taming it and harnassing its forces.  Post-modern man is proof that modern man was an arrogant fool.

I leave you with this thought taken by von Balthasar from the writings of the Church father, Origen, "That which someone cherishes about all else, admires and loves above all else, this is that person's God ... what human beings love very much they want to be gods ...".  The gods of this world, of this age are many, and they totter upon their pedestals.

     

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Woodpiles, Woods Cruising, and Woodsman's Rifles

I knew our Ol' Uncle Remus was a man of great wisdom and insight.  He proves it again:

I toted a rifle in .22 WMR, crank-action, topped with a low power scope. Sighted for ahunnerd yards with 40 grainers. Good for feeling dangerous. It carries well muzzle down. And a big ol' Schrade knife with a quarter-inch thick fixed blade sharpened to where its shadow alone will cut paper. My trusty Sunto wrist compass, natch. Around here compasses are like small town newspapers, people read 'em to make sure they got the facts right. North stayed just where it should be the whole time, a few degrees off the pointer. Check.

As readers know, I have a weird and somewhat inexplicable affection for and attachment to the .22 WMR.  I noted here almost five years ago that I had picked up a used Marlin 982 stainless .22 mag rifle.  It had a scope on it when I bought it, a Tasco 3-9x that I didn't really like, but it was functional.  I couldn't justify buying a new one for it.  However, I had the opportunity to help out a young man who was selling a nice Leupold scope, 4-14x, which I put on my Model 700 .25-06.  This left me with a Nikon 3-9x not attached to anything.  So I put it on the Marlin, and that gives me a happier setup.  

I imagine that Ol' Remus and I are in the last generation of those who appreciate both the strengths and weaknesses of the .22 magnum.  Another fifty years and it will be as obsolete and forgotten as something like the .25-20.

My older brother, many years ago, abandoned his .22 WMR for the .223 because, as he rightly claimed, he could reload ammunition for the centerfire as cheap or cheaper than he could buy rimfire fodder for the little magnum.  I could see his point.  Sometimes, though, I don't want to reload ammunition.  Perhaps when I retire and have less money as well as more time to fill with such activities, they will appeal to me more.   

For now, fifty rounds of CCI hollowpoints will fit in a pocket and, if it came to that, feed and defend me for a month or two.  The .223/5.56mm certainly outclasses the rimfire, especially beyond a hundred or a hundred and twenty-five yards.  That's part of the fun, I guess.  It's like going to the prom with the geeky girl when you could have gone with the most popular cheerleader.  You may lose style points, but you accomplish more or less the same end with a lot less fuss and trouble.  

It's not the most accurate round in the world, but it is accurate enough and more accurate than most who shoot it.  It is not particularly powerful, but it is surprisingly effective if the shooter knows both his limits and the limits of the round.  It is shootable by anyone, plus handguns -- mostly revolvers except fot the Kel-Tec PMR-30 -- are available in the same caliber.  Handguns in .22 WMR are great for small game, if the shooter does his part, and they will work for self-defense, though not everyone's first choice.  

From it's inception, the .22 WMR has been embraced by those who roam in places where ranges are mostly limited.  It's a woodsman's rifle.  I guess that makes me a woodsman.  

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Odd Numbered World Wars

Most of us know that the Great War, which the U.S. entered one hundred years ago, this past week, disrupted the map of Europe and finished off monarchy as a significant form of government.  A lot of us also know that the Treaty of Versailles set the stage for the failure of the Weimar Republic and the rise of National Socialism, and thus the vast destruction of the Second World War.  

Check out this piece from the Unz Report, posted on April 6, for a glimpse at the propaganda the newspapers fed American readers.  Some of it might sound a little too familiar.  I recommend reading the whole thing.

I used to believe Americans were the good guys.  The men and women who fill the ranks of the U.S. military are good people, for the most part.  I walked through a park in Fayetteville, AR recently that is named for Medal of Honor winner Clarence Craft and talked with a person who knew Mr. Craft from his volunteer work at the Fayetteville Veterans' Hospital.  He was a good man of great, self-sacrificing courage, but individual courage knows no race, religion, or nationality.

Tariq Aziz was the Iraqi foreign minister during the regime of Saddam Hussein.  He was being interviewed on television before, I suppose, the invasion in 2003.  When asked if he would fight if Iraq were invaded, he replied that he would.  When asked why, he said, "Because I am a patriot."  Even at the time, I admired that.  I thought he was in the wrong, but it seemed to me to be worthy of respect.

We need to ask ourselves, if we believe in liberty and self-determination for individuals, how we have a right to tell nations how they should be governed and by whom.  It's almost as if, in the age of the "United Nations", globalism, and one-world, we-are-the-world sentiments, we have decided that nationalism and love for one's people is the ultimate sin.

I am deeply disappointed in Trump's intervention in the Syrian conflict.  We destablized the region by removing Saddam Hussein then, even as the left protested Bush's action there, the left's president brought further chaos in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Syria.   I believe that the Syrian "insurgents" are ISIS or ISIS allies, and I believe further that ISIS is a creation of Western globalism.

The war is globalism versus nationalism, and the United States military is the primary force at the disposal of globalism, as has been the case for most of the last hundred years.  American interests were not at stake in WWI.  I am beginning to think they were not at stake so much in WWII -- but I confess to having been raised among people who loathed Franklin Roosevelt as much as the left reveres him and attributed Pearl Harbor to Roosevelt's machinations.  How was Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, or Iraq any of our business?

How much oil have we gotten from the region as a result of our invasion versus how much we have wasted rolling around the damn desert or versus the trillions blown away to bring "democracy"?  That isn't even to mention the blood spilled and the lives destroyed -- American, Iraqi, Afghani, Syrian, Libyan, et al.

As World War III heats up, I return to what I have said here from the first -- individual responsibility, loyalty to family, church, and community -- that's the hope.  Trump was never more than a gambit for disrupting the UniParty and buying time.  He may still do that for us, but he is not capable of really turning things around.  If he succeeds in limiting immigration, we still owe him thanks.  He is not our savior.  

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Harleys, ARs, and 1911s

I have been asked why I don't ride a Harley.  I've never ridden one, can't even remember throwing a leg over one.  That's not because they are not great, classic bikes, and it's not even because I'm a Yamaha fanboi.  My answer is usually something along the lines of "I like to ride bikes, not work on them."  If you don't "wrench", you're not a real biker, according to some.  I did do some mechanical work on my old two-strokes back in the '70s, cleaning carburetors or whatever.  Don't really care about doing it anymore, but maybe that qualifies me.

Most people who own a Harley for very long start on the path of customization.  They are always adding some performance enhancement, appearance enhancement, comfort enhancement, coolness enhancement.  I admit to replacing the stock muffler on my V Star with a Cobra bolt-on -- and I confess, I just did it to get a better exhaust note.  I added a modest, transparent bug deflector, passenger boards and a passenger backrest because the stock bike lacked those things, and my occasional passenger needed the boards and backrest.  I'm done.  For the FJ-09, I've done nothing.

Again, I have no problem with Harleys or people that ride them and modify them, and enjoy themselves in doing so.  When I see them out or at bike shows, I admire both the bikes and the people.

The point here is that AR-type rifles have a lot in common with Harleys, I think.  There are all kinds of aftermarket equipment, enhancements, and gadgets available for both.  It's the same with 1911 pistols.  You can just do all kinds of things to them.  And Ruger 10/22s, that's another one.  My 10/22 is box stock except for a top rail I added in case I ever want to (or have to) add optic sights.

I've had this Ruger AR now for several months.  I have said before that, though I once had to qualify with an AR, my first impression was negative, but that was 30-some years ago.  Times change.  Everybody loves ARs.  Clinton was going to be elected, and they would be banned.  I'm glad I have one in the safe along with a bunch of 30-round magazines.

I still don't like it.  First, the trigger is just horrible.  I'm not one of those shooters who has to have a minimal trigger pull.  Heavier triggers don't bother me much.  I'm always a little skeptical of a trigger being really light.  But the trigger on that Ruger AR-556 is absolute crap.

Of course, I can easily buy an aftermarket trigger and install it myself.  That's the AR mentality, the Harley mentality, the 1911 mentality.  I have a Remington 700 mentality -- not the lightest trigger in the world, but clean and functional.  I have a Yamaha mentality and a Glock mentality.  Why not just have something that works more than adequately as is?  Again, I'm not criticizing anybody for making a bike, a weapon or anything else "perfect" for them.  I'm just lazy and too average to worry about it.

Given that, here are my thoughts on black rifles in general.  For most hunting and shooting at longer ranges, beyond 150 to 200 yards, I would rather have something other than a .223/5.56.  A .223 is more than adequate for whitetail deer at limited ranges, with proper projectiles and good shot placement.  It's a good varmint round and will humanely put down a coyote out to 250 yard, maybe, if the shooter does his part and, again, with the right projectiles.  I have a single-shot .223 which is a lot more fun to shoot than the AR if I want to do that.

Yes, I know that ARs "own the 600-yard line" in target shooting.  I saw a video of Jerry Miculek breaking an 8- or 10-inch diameter balloon at a 1000 yards with a pistol.  But Mr. Miculek is some sort of benevolent, superpowered mutant sent by God to humble the ordinary inhabitants of this planet.  Also it's a balloon, fragile and with no negative consequences for projectile failure.

At closer ranges, say, inside a house or in the event of a serious social encounter on my property, I would much, much rather have my Remington 870, with the 18.5 inch, rifle-sighted barrel on it (AKA, Geraldean).  My second choice would be this stupidly fun-to-shoot Glock 17, my Springfield XDM or even my 10/22.

Oh, I modified my Glock.  I put a Clipdraw on it in lieu of a holster.  The Glock users' group on Fakebook chimped out.
There no trigger guard, which is completely unsafe.  When I responded that I never carry a round in the chamber, I received the usual arguments that I might as well carry a brick.  Is this the OK Corral?  Faced with an attacker who is too close to allow me to safely draw and rack the slide, I'm not going to be shooting anyway.  That's why I have knives in every pocket.  Currently the Clipdraw is attached for small-of-the-back carry and a right-hand draw.  A few days after I joined the users' group, I unfollowed it.  I like my Glock the way it is, and they were all about changing stuff.  More power to them -- I'm just not interested.  

Which brings us back to the AR.  I put a nice 1.5-4x variable-power scope on it.  That's probably all I'm going to do.  I'll take it out now and then, shoot it, clean it, put it back.  I don't figure on ever shooting anything live with it or even punching much paper.  Like the Glock users' group, it just doesn't interest me, which is probably a sign of some personality defect on my part.

I understand the military people who essentially learned to shoot with an AR.  I think they are great for new shooters.  The recoil is mild.  They can be adjusted to fit smaller or larger shooters.  They are great platforms for building whatever kind of rifle a person needs.  The applications and adaptions are almost endless.  Hunting, self-defense, competition, or just having fun, anyone can build an AR that is perfect for him or her, and perfect for whatever it is a person wants to do with it.

Except me.  It doesn't intimidate me or impress me.  I can see why other people like them, and I can't quite explain why I don't -- but I don't.  The rest of you have fun.