Monday, September 26, 2011

Stopping power and the .380 ACP

Having considered the .25 ACP and the .22LR, and briefly mentioned the poorly represented .32 Long/ACP, we move up to the first caliber I would really consider as a purpose defensive round, the .380 ACP.  I noted in my basics post about firearms that a centerfire handgun is the one firearm I think every person serious about preparing for difficult times needs to have.  Caliber and type are not nearly as important as having a weapon that the defender can use effective and carry consistently. No firearm does any good if it is not available when it is needed.  A .50 BMG in the safe is not going to help when one is confronted by predators in the field.  A person is better served by a less potent weapon that is always available. 

This is one of the great advantages of the .380.  It is not an overly powerful caliber, but it is chambered in smaller weapons that are easily and unobtrusively carried.  Firearms chambered for the .380, however, are usually not so small as to be difficult to grasp and operate – even for a fat-fingered klutz like me.  Walther, of course, produces the PPK.  I used to see a lot of Bersa .380’s, and they appeared to be decent weapons.  Ruger makes their LCP in .380; the Kahr P380 is highly regarded as is the Sig-Sauer.  Kel Tec makes a very reasonably priced double-action only .380 called the P-3AT.  I am unfamiliar with this one but I have heard that is better than might be expected for the price.   The Kahr .380’s are going to more expensive – in the range of $600+ MSRP.  A Sig-Sauer P232 is roughly the same range.  If the .380 were the only handgun, or the only firearm period, that I owned, I would probably opt for the Sig, or maybe the Kahr depending on which fit the hand better.  For me it would be the Sig.  Sig also makes a model P238 in .380 that is a little smaller and lighter – the Nitron version with night sights would also be a good choice on the higher-end. 

Given that I have a number of firearms, including a full-size autoloader, if I were to purchase a .380 for discreet or more convenient carry, I would probably choose something on the low end like the Kel Tec that would be easy on the budget.  These do not need to be target pistols.  They are meant to be used at ranges of 10 to 20 feet – not yards but feet, across a room.  As long as they reliably go ‘bang’, they are good. 

So, how effective is the .380?  Surprisingly effective – at least it surprises me.  From the Ellifritz study we see a fatality rate of 29% -- a little lower than the .357.  The average number of hits to incapacitation is also very similar, 1.76 for the .380 versus 1.7 for the .357.  One shot stops are identical at 44% -- not bad at all.  Accuracy is respectable at 76% -- not too hard to get these little guns on target.  Again this is likely a function of the short distances at which they are deployed. 

The percent actually incapacitated by one shot is an astounding 62%, up there with the .357 (61%) and better than the .40 (52%) and the .45 (51%).  It is hard to believe.  Still, I think we are talking about across-the-room shootings for the most part.  The little .380 is moving a 90-grain bullet out the barrel at around 1000 fps generating muzzle energy of about 200 foot-pounds.  These rounds will penetrate and do some damage. 

Another factor in the effectiveness of the .380 ACP is the fact that these rounds were designed for short barrels.  The bullets expand consistently at the typical velocity and range for which they are built.  Those who use the .380 are aware of the need for an expanding bullet, generally, and avoid ball ammunition.  When I look at the relatively poor performance of calibers up the line from the .380, I suspect that the culprit is really poor ammunition. 

When we discuss the ubiquitous .38 Special, which does not fare well in this study (thinking of the 9mm when I said this), I will point this out again.  The best choice for a .38 is a four-inch barrel.  A snubby .38 DA revolver is not only difficult to shoot accurately in double-action without a good deal of practice, but standard pressure .38 ammunition optimized for two inch or two-and-a-half inch barrels is hard to come by.  For the 9mm and the .40 S&W, I suspect that the rates are worse because of the cheap ball ammunition available in these calibers.  I use FMJ .40 for practice because it is economical, but I also carry it a lot when I am working around the place.  That is probably not a good idea.  If I had to defend myself against something bigger than a squirrel with fascist tendencies, I would probably end up using the hardball with no expansion, and that would be bad.   

Full-metal jacket ammunition is generally forbidden for hunting (not counting solids on African big game) due to over-penetration and the high-probability of wounded game getting away to suffer and die slowly later.  The “cleanness” of an FMJ wound is also the reason it was required for military use by the rules of the Geneva Convention.  Thus it is NOT a good idea to use FMJ ammunition ever in a self-defense situation.  An attacker wounded by ball ammo is often still capable of fighting.  Some autoloading handguns seem to function reliably only with hardball rounds.  This is a good argument for revolvers – or for better autoloaders.        

Summarizing, the .380 ACP is a good choice for a self-defense firearm where a smaller, lighter, more compact weapon is needed or preferred.  Recoil will not be an issue for most people, even the smaller and more fragile among us.  It is a mistake to think of the .380 as a “woman’s gun”.  They are serious defensive firearms with serious capabilities.  Adequate weapons can be found new in the $200 to $300 range.  Ammunition is fairly common and widely carried, although it was hard to find anywhere in 2010. 

As always, it is a good idea to do some research to find the best ammunition for any given handgun with reliability being of utmost concern.  Practice diligently and pack consistently.   

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What Matters

I saw this morning that Obama’s strongly approve numbers from Rasmussen were at 21% and his somewhat approve was at 46%.  The President should probably note this on his calendar because I believe he has reached a turning point in his presidency.  He voiced some support for Israel at the UN yesterday, and we thank him for that.  Less worthy of praise has been his attitude toward the spreading unrest in the Middle East.  Contrary to what Obama, the media, and even many pundits and commentators on the right would have us believe, this is not a popular democratic uprising.  Demand for food staples, particularly rice, in the prospering nations of Asia and the Indian subcontinent drove up prices for the Egyptians and others.  The protests were an open door for elements such as the Muslim Brotherhood to get a piece of government control and turn what was a secular strong-man rule into Islamic republican rule.  As we have seen in Iran, this does not bode well for American or Israeli interests.   Obama is Carter II in more ways than one. 

Domestically, yesterday, the Federal Reserve punted.  A “small” move (everything is relative) of $400 billion from short to longer term bonds will have little impact – rather like moving the deck chairs toward the stern of the Titanic. Possibly this was done because the long-term bonds are not selling whereas there is more anticipated demand for two-year notes.  No one wants to get locked into a government bond for a government that may not be solvent in the long-term.  And the United States may not be.  Those who control the purse strings are still pouring money out like water out of a boot.  The only long-term solution is a drastic reduction in federal expenditures and specifically in federal entitlement spending.  No more welfare.  Restructure Social Security. Privatize Medicare via vouchers.  Do the same for Medicaid.  Open up the market for health insurance across state lines.  Encourage the formation of health insurance pools similar to credit unions to enhance competition.  If we do not move toward encouraging personal responsibility and ending government dependence, we are on our way to a fiscal Armageddon. 

In any case, the Fed announcement has crashed the markets which were already teetering on the European situation.  Allowing Greece to default and yet stay in the EU could destroy the Euro.  If I were a German, I would be demanding a return to a sovereign currency.  Let the PIIGS pay their own way.  Couple the Euro uncertainty with a shoot-down of any QE3 and the market just deflated, as have commodities, including gold and silver.  This is good.  Now if the Congress will simply reject the Obama jobs proposal and cut the budget – that is, real cuts rather than cuts in increases – we might have a chance to bottom out and begin to recover in a couple of years.

Meanwhile, those of us who have to live in the real world should maintain our resolve to get or stay stocked up on essentials, avoid the non-essentials, and remove ourselves as much as possible from interaction with and dependence upon any government entity.  By all means, stay informed about the world situation and politics, but do not obsess over it or lapse into fear and panic.  Your local church is a much more important entity than the Federal Reserve, the IMF, Wells Fargo, the New York Stock Exchange, or Congress.  For that matter, your local school board is more important than any of those other institutions.  I answer to God, to my family, my friends, and those who interact with me in the community. 

We sometimes speak of The Powers That Be – politicians, international bankers, military leaders, media moguls, opinion makers, etc. – as if they have power over us.  They have only the power that we give them.  Perhaps it has been a good idea at times in the past to surrender a certain amount of our responsibility and thinking to TPTB, but I doubt it.  If it ever was, it is not now a good idea.  We need to think for ourselves, educate ourselves, and equip ourselves for rising from the rubble of collapse.  If TPTB come to their senses and do the right things to avoid collapse, that is the best scenario.  If they continue on their present path, we will be able to handle it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Stopping Power and the .22 Rimfire

Now we turn to that most common of rounds which is also, possibly, the most efficient ammunition ever created.  There are few creatures on the planet that have not, at one time or another, succumbed to a well-placed .22 rimfire.  Not only is the .22LR an excellent training, target, and small game hunting caliber, it can be effective on larger animals, especially from a rifle.  A barrel length of 16 inches seems about optimal for the long rifle ammunition.  My memory is fuzzy but I seem to recall the .22 short optimizing velocity (and thus energy) from around a 10 inch barrel. 

People who butcher cattle and hogs have long relied on a single round of .22LR to humanely kill large, heavy-boned animals.  Everything depends on proper placement.  For a domestic animal, it is usually not difficult to place the round into the brain resulting in immediate loss of consciousness and death.  On game animals and varmints within the effective range of the .22, it is possible to accurately target the central nervous system or the heart.  Poachers often target the lungs on deer, especially during cooler weather.  This probably causes no more suffering than a similarly placed arrow, and I consider archery hunting quite humane, but I would not take a lung shot on a game animal with a .22LR if I could help it.  If I were forced by circumstances to shoot a deer with a .22LR, I would definitely try to make a head shot.  I would not depend on a .22 round to penetrate deeply enough on anything other than a broadside shot to reach the vitals of a full-grown whitetail.  I think it will most of the time; I just would not depend on it.

How does the .22 do in the analysis done by Ellifritz?  I would say not bad, all things considered.  The percentage of hits that were fatal is comparable to the mighty .357, while the average number of rounds to incapacitation is actually a little better at 1.38 versus 1.7 – I am not sure what that tells us, though.  The “actually incapacitated by one shot” is an adequate 60%.  What is most telling about the little rimfire, though, is that nearly a third (31%) of the people shot with it are never incapacitated.  Most of these shootings with a .22 are done by “non-professionals”, primarily homeowners confronted by burglars or predators or people targeted in muggings, assaults, or carjacking.  The attacker is hit by a round or two of .22LR and decides that he should seek an easier target or possibly – as noted in the post about the .25 ACP, overcomes the defender.  Any light, soft bullet pushed at barely transonic velocities is going to lose a lot of energy passing through so much as a heavy coat.  A .22 that fails to penetrate at least three or four inches into the chest cavity of a determined attacker is unlikely to stop the fight. 

Ellifritz does not have data that I have found relating to the difference between .22 rounds from a rifle versus .22 rounds from a handgun.  I am sure the .22 rifle would have a lower percentage of failures to incapacitate.  I am also sure that even the best round from a .22 rimfire is not as good a load of buck from shotgun or a round from a .30 caliber centerfire.

Another critical variable not available to us is the type of ammunition used.  The .22 is notable in that muzzle velocities can vary by 100% or more depending on the ammunition chosen. A Fiocchi .22 short round has a muzzle velocity of 605 fps versus a CCI Stinger .22LR which has a 32 grain bullet exiting the muzzle at 1640 fps.  Either can be fired from any standard-chambered .22 rimfire arm (some rounds such as the Stinger and Velocitor, both from CCI, may not work in arms with very tightly dimensioned match chambers). 

The old standard velocity .22LR was what we had mostly when I was a kid, and the muzzle velocity runs somewhere around 1050 to 1100 fps with a 40-grain bullet.  We considered the effective range to be 50 yards and that is where we sighted them in.  High velocity rounds are probably the most common ammunition used for hunting and plinking these days with an average velocity of around 1280 fps.  Almost every manufacturer has an entry in this category with a 36 to 38 grain hollow-point bullet – often available in bulk packages of 300 to 550 rounds -- like Federal and Remington.  That approximately 200 fps advantage does not stretch the range much but it does flatten the trajectory a little.  Except for, shall we say, special applications where I use subsonics, the higher the velocity the better as far as I am concerned.  I have piles of both Remington and Federal bulk-pack stuff as well as CCI Mini-Mags (36-grain @ 1260 fps) in my rimfire ammo crate.  These are my plinking and practice rounds for both my long guns and handguns.  I would also guess that they constitute at least a plurality if not the majority of the rounds tallied in the Ellifritz study simply because high-velocity rounds are the most widely available and affordable ammunition for most people. 

But what if we were to go with hyper-velocity rounds such as the aforementioned Stinger or the 33-grain Remington Yellow Jacket at 1500 fps or the Aguila 30-grain at 1750 fps?  Obviously these rounds are trading bullet weight for muzzle velocity to some degree.  On the short end of the range, however, that translates into enhanced energy.  The muzzle energy for the 30-grain Aguila is stepping over the 200 foot-pounds line at 204.  The Stinger is not far behind at 191 foot-pounds.  This compares to the usual high-velocity rounds at less than 140 foot-pounds at the muzzle.  In a self-defense situation where the attacker is often less than 30 feet away, the enhanced energy of the faster, lighter rounds could make a significant difference. 

Weapons vary in how they shoot brands and kinds of ammunition.  It happens that all my .22’s “like” CCI Velocitors.  That is my ammunition of choice for hunting with my Ruger and Savage rifles.  It uses a 40-grain bullet with a wide, shallow hollow point traveling at 1435 feet per second generating 183 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.  This will provide good penetration in most cases.  In the Ruger 10/22, in particular, I believe this would be a reasonably effective deterrent if I were forced to use a .22 in self-defense. 

In summary, if a person uses a .22 rimfire for self-defense, it is important to choose the most effective ammunition possible.  Accuracy is always critical but more so with the smaller rounds.  Happily, it is probably easier to be accurate with a decent .22LR than with almost any other weapon and certainly more economical to practice.  A shotgun or a centerfire rifle is the best choice.  A centerfire handgun in a caliber like the .40 S&W, .357, or .45 ACP is second-best.  I would suggest that the .22LR with hypervelocity ammunition from a rifle is probably a reasonable third-tier choice.  A .22 handgun goes down still another tier, but it is still not to be dismissed as a defensive arm for those who have no better option.  The key is to find ammunition that functions reliably and accurately in the firearm and to practice diligently for speed and precision. 

It is also fairly easy to test penetration with pieces of scrap wood, old phone books, or other similar materials.  Better penetration equals a quicker end to the threat.  As a reference point, phone books duct-taped tightly together are a pretty tough test, but I would still want a round to penetrate more than two inches into that material.      



More Truth About Fascism

American Thinker -- Obama's Fascist Economy

Steven McCann writes:
The term "fascism" has been redefined by the horrendous acts of Mussolini and Hitler, actions spurred by their megalomania and nationalism.  However, the economic philosophy that is fascism is alive and well and being pursued in the United States by those whose desire it is to control the people of the country and reinforce their domestic power base, not to conquer the world.  Yet the pursuit of the same tenets that motivated Franklin Roosevelt has prolonged and exacerbated the current economic disaster facing the United States.
However, as with FDR, chances are that it will not succeed in America, with its history of individualism and entrepreneurship -- but only if the current citizenry recognizes what is the Obama end-game.  It is time to call what is being pursued by Barack Obama what it is: fascism.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Free Markets versus Fascism

Back in the 90's, I worked for a financial services company.  I was involved mainly in supplying data to the credit card division, including marketing, accounting, and risk management.  Marketing had different criteria than the risk management group.  They looked for people who were a little lower in the FICO score range -- risky people who could just barely afford a credit card, people who would leave a balance on their cards over a period of months, perhaps run up to the limit of their cards, and pay late from time to time.  Overlimit and late fees, in addition to interest charges, are gravy for a credit card company.  As long as people try to pay, try to catch up, and try to maintain their credit scores, the company makes money.  Those who were behind would be turned over to our in-house collections department where collectors were given bonuses for being "bad guys".  Walking through the collections area, I would see Federal Express Overnight envelopes pinned to cubical walls as badges of honor.  The collector had intimidated someone into overnighting a payment to save his credit.

The collectors were all nice folks in person, at least the ones I knew.  One of them gave me a frame for my then-new granddaughter's picture because I had helped out with something or other.  They were only bad guys when collecting.  When the collectors had extracted all they could, an account would be "charged off".  The account would be closed, the amount would be zeroed, and the "loss" reported to the credit bureaus.  In truth, the losses on these low-limit accounts --  $500 to $1000 -- were often less than had been taken in by fees and interest.

The company certainly had a right to do what they did.  They were taking a risk by loaning the money at all.  The loans enabled many people to buy things they needed or thought they needed to improve their lives.  Our risk management people held the line on issuing cards to really poor risks.  They used to joke that, were it not for risk management, marketing would be mailing out cash in envelopes -- which is way too close to the truth.  In fact that is not too different from what banks were doing by making real estates loans to people who could not afford to buy or maintain a house.  By doing away with down payment minimums and/or allowing people to borrow down payment money, the banks dived into the deepest end of the risk pool, dropping below the established score limits to reach the people who would pay higher interest rates and penalties.  The difference was that the government, through its federal loan agencies, was willing make guarantees for these riskier borrowers.

Lending and borrowing is part of the free market system.  The system can seem rather cold-hearted, but it is always governed by something most of us can understand, that is, profit.  Its purpose is neither cruel nor kind; it seeks merely to make money.  People live off the profits of financial institutions just as they do off of other businesses.  Businesses that do not make money also do not have employees.  While I am not much of a supporter of so-called "consumer loans", as long as the lender is risking his own capital, it is his business.  When, however, we start throwing words like "compassion" and "fairness" into the system, it is easy to throw the market out of balance.  No longer is risk being assessed purely in terms of arithmetic but politics is tossed onto the scale.  Lenders are encouraged to increase their exposure because of government regulatory pressure.  The stick might push a donkey near the edge of the cliff but not over.  To do that, the government must offer a positive incentive -- to underwrite the risk so that the lender's exposure to loss is decreased. This gives us a perfect illustration of the law of unintended consequences. 

It is not the free market that has caused our current financial crisis, but this socialist, one might even say, fascist relationship between government and business, and in particular between financial institutions and the federal government.  Do you think calling the system fascist is going too far?  Take a look at Wikipedia's definition..  Consider this excerpt:

Fascist economics supports the existence of private property, the existence of a market and the use of the profit motive, however state directed, as they reject laissez-faire.

Taxpayer money and government debt has been used to bolster the economy since the mid-1980's.  The federal government pumped money into the real estate market through these unwise loan programs and created an unnatural bubble in housing prices by creating an unsustainable demand.  We are not going to solve a problem created by too much government intervention with more government intervention.  The same is true with health care and insurance.  Government intervention via Medicare and Medicaid has fueled the rise in health care costs.  The system is going broke.  The solution is not to make it still bigger.

The time has come to take the hit, go into a deflationary depression, and get the government entirely out of the market aside from minimal referee/regulatory role to make sure that everyone plays openly and with the same set of rules.  Unfortunately, that medicine is too bitter for the politicians and the parasite class to swallow.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Meditation on Hunting

Nimrod, posted over on the Jungle.  For those who might be interested, I riff a little on what might be called the spiritual aspects of the chase.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Stopping Power and the .25 ACP

I have been thinking about the Ellifritz stopping power study already mentioned and linked here.

I thought it might be interesting to consider each caliber or category individually and do some basic rambling.  First, though, we recall that Ellifritz differentiated between the “one-shot stop” percentage and the “actually incapacitated by one shot” to the head or torso.  Let’s figure out what that means.  Quoting Ellifritz:
One shot stop percentage - number of incapacitations divided by the number of hits the person took. Like Marshall's number, I only included hits to the torso or head in this number. 
Percentage of people who were immediately stopped with one hit to the head or torso.

In the second case we are talking about one shot fired, one attacker stopped.  While in the first case we are talking about aggregate numbers for those who were taken down and/or out. 

To make it easy to think about, let’s use round numbers.  Say you have 10 individuals who are shot with weapon X and all of whom are incapacitated.  Six of the baddies go down immediately after one hit to the torso/head.  Weapon X has a 60% “actually incapacitated by one shot”.  But say that of the other 4, one is hit twice, two more take three hits to go down, and one big baddie takes five hits.  The formula for the “one-stop shot %” would be:

10/((6*1)+(1*2)+(2*3)+(1*5), or, 10/25 = 0.4, or 40%. 

That is assuming, again, that all ten are eventually incapacitated.  But we see that, by category, anywhere from 40% (.32 caliber) to 9% (rifle) are never incapacitated at all.  The fight ends for whatever reason, and the attacker, though not down and out, ceases to be a threat -- or, perhaps, worst case, the defender loses the fight because the attacker was not incapacitated.   The non-incapacitation percentages are important to consider.  In the case of the .32, that caliber fails to incapacitate at all 40% of the time, but it had a very impressive 72% stopped by one stop to the head or torso, and a respectable 40% one-shot stop percentage.   The sample size is smaller for the .32 than for any studied caliber other than the .44 magnum, but one tends to think .32’s are the caliber of choice in domestic disputes and situations where the range is very short. 

This brings up an interesting point in that we do not know the circumstances for any given situation.  A gunfight between military personnel and enemy combatants has a completely different dynamic than a man who decides to slap his old lady around because the Bears lost to the Packers.  An unarmed attacker is, in many cases, going to be easier to dissuade than someone armed equivalently.  A home invasion shooting is different than an attack motivated by revenge or jealousy.  And, of course, the classic example is that the actions of meth head high on his drug of choice are going to be very different from those of a sober, somewhat rational person.  It is even true in the field when hunting.  An animal with no adrenaline pumping from flight or fear is much easier to take down than spooked game. 

With all of that in mind, let’s look at one of the lesser choices, the .25 ACP.  Here we have, unlike the .32, a fair sample size of 68 people, with 150 shots fired.  Of the people shot with the pathetically lame .25 caliber – and these are always chambered in very small autoloaders, 25% died as a result of their wounds.  The .25 killed seventeen people.  It did not kill fifty-one.  Still, seventeen corpses from a mouse gun should make people stop and realize that any firearm is capable of dealing death and is not to be handled careless or deployed lightly.  All shootings are serious business. 

For the .25 ACP, there was a one-shot stop rate of 30%.  When one looks at the rest of the chart, it is sobering to see that the measuring stick for handguns, the .357 magnum, has a one-shot stop percentage only fourteen points higher (still under one-half), and the .25 is only nine points lower than the mighty .45 ACP.  We will say it again:  handguns are not good stoppers.  When it comes to handguns, the rule is that if it is worth shooting once, it is worth shooting three times.  That may not always be possible but remember it.

It is not surprising to find that the tiny firearms chambered for the .25 ACP do not lend themselves to accuracy.  Also, I suspect that those who carry a .25 probably do not get a lot of range time with it.  Hence, we see that the head/torso hit percentage of the .25 is low – 62%.  Every other handgun is around 75%, that is, until we get to the rounds typically chambered in larger weapons – the .357, .45, and .44 magnum which are all above 80%.  It is easier to get on target and get off a good shot with a larger weapon.  Also, these are weapons employed more by experts, if not professionals.  I am surprised that the 9mm and the .40 S&W do not have 80%+.  The 9mm is chambered in smaller weapons, so that might be part of the issue.  Also, I wonder if military use of the Nine results in it being used at longer ranges?  I have no explanation for the .40, which is my carry weapon.  My XD will group around 2 inches at 25 yards, offhand, if I’m doing my part.

But back to the .25, the final statistic to look at for this round is the percent actually incapacitated by one shot which is only 49% -- amazingly the 9mm is lower at 47%.  This has got to be a function of military ball ammo in the 9mm. 

All things considered, I would be reluctant to carry a .25 ACP even as a backup.  It will work, most likely, at very close ranges especially if fired into an attacker’s head.  It is far better than nothing, and a hit with a .25 can easily prove fatal.  Cheap .25’s maybe the only weapons available to and affordable by some folks.  I would hardly be willing to deny a person the right to defend himself or herself because of dearth of funds.  If using a .25 out of necessity or because it is convenient to carry (and it is), one should look for good, expanding ammunition and test it for reliable functioning and accuracy if at all possible.  These little guns should be kept clean and be properly lubricated.  If a person needs one, it absolutely needs to go bang.  As we noted, this is not a toy and not something to left where children or other irresponsible people could access it.          

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Follow-up on My Earlier CRKT Crawford Kasper Review

I reviewed this knife back in April. Since then I have had a chance to use it quite a bit and get the edge more to my liking.  While it serves as a respectable general use knife, if I did not make it clear in the earlier post, this is primarily a fighter.  I have used it trim limbs, cut cordage, slice meat, clean up radishes, cut trimmer line, and about everything else except field dressing game.  It has done everything well enough.  But the blade geometry is, shall we say, aggressive.

The Kasper has stood up well to my abuse.  It holds an edge reasonably well.  All I have had to do since getting it sharp is touch it up occasionally with the ceramic stone.

The knife is slightly deceptive.  I was with my granddaughter at the mall a couple of weekends ago.  She bought a new pair of flip-flops.  The shoes were connected to one another with plastic ties.  I offered to cut them for her, and when she couldn't break them, she allowed me to do that.  I flipped out the Kasper and sliced the plastic.  My granddaughter warned me in hushed tones that I should not flash a knife like that.  I assured her that it was legal.  And it is.  But remember that the blade is deeper than most pocketknives.  Also, the guard that is integral to the grip pushes the wielder's hand back half an inch or more beyond the ricasso.  Though the cutting edge of the blade is a non-threatening 3.5 inches, the reach is closer to four and a half.  with that deep blade and a chunk of the butt protruding, it does carry the look of a big knife.

I am gaining confidence in this blade to the point that I believe it would serve well if I were pressed to use it in a self-defense situation.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

There is only one thing worse than vigilante justice

Nazareth covers Woody Guthrie's "Vigilante Man".

Now I hate Woody Guthrie, but I love this song.  I used to have it on vinyl and an 8-track and cassette.  Now I have an MP3.  My favorite line is, "Why does that vigilante man carry that sawed-off shotgun in his hand?  Would he shoot his brother and his sister down?"

In a word, yes.

Because the only thing worse than vigilante justice is no justice at all.

In the Midst of the Storm

New unemployment claims continue to run over 400,000 per week.  Inflation continues to grind away at our incomes and savings.  Good old Folgers coffee at the local Sam’s Club has risen from $9.xx to $14.xx  (+50% increase) for a 48-ounce container in the last eighteen months – mostly since Bernanke’s disastrous QE2.  Meat, cheese, beans, and even peanut butter continue to climb in price as a weakened dollar and advancing fuel costs cut into profits.  Corporations have cut all the fat trying to improve profits while dealing with stagnant or decreasing revenues.  Uncertainty and instability are hampering growth.  More people are trying to save more money even as the rates for “safe” Certificates of Deposit pay less than 1% and are negative relative to inflation.

The stock markets have taken a hit, and they are going to recover a little.  I would not be at all surprised to see Obama’s speech tonight lead to a modest rally tomorrow just on the basis of the fact that several corporate bureaucrats will be in attendance at the teleprompter reading. (UPDATE:  Oops -- looks like I was dead wrong about this -- no one was impressed with the Pass-it-now President.) Markets and economies operate on Chaos Theory.  I offer no investment advice.  I currently have no individual stocks, but I have about 15% of my investments still in equity mutual funds – a couple of value funds, a mid-cap, a foreign fund, and a very small amount in a couple of growth funds.  Otherwise I am 85% in bonds and cash – not counting tangibles.  I am trying to stay flexible enough to go either way.  A big market correction would probably see me dumping some money from bonds to equities. 

Gold was either vastly underpriced three or four years ago or is somewhat over priced now.  My read of inflation would have it somewhere around $1000/ounce, and I would buy it anywhere near that now.  Silver is the same way.  I would start buying again around $30/ounce.  I suspect that speculation and FUD is driving the rise over the last year.  I may well be wrong, and gold will hit $2500 and silver $100 before next year’s election.  It’s quite possible, especially if the Fed unleashed QE3. 

Obama is going to be talking a couple of hours from now.  He will offer nothing new.  More government spending with tax increases down the road – after November 2012.  He will offer tax credits to employers to hire new workers.  He will demonize Congress, the Republicans, and the Tea Party.  The speech will mainly be an attempt to create a wedge issue on which he can campaign.  I think he will get a small bounce in approval among his core supporters – the unions, welfare queens, teachers, and other government workers.  Everybody else will be getting home from work, eating dinner and getting ready for some football.  The bounce won’t last.  Nothing in the way of tax increases or increases in the deficit is going to get through the House.  The Senate is already sitting on House-passed jobs bills.  In other words, the teleprompter is programmed strictly for politics tonight. 

I am not going to watch to see if I am right. 

Herbert Hoover may have been a Republican, but he was, like Obama, a progressive.  Also like Obama, he responded badly to the Crash of ’29.  His policies of government intervention in the private sector drove America into a depression.  The election of Roosevelt continued and double-down on Hoover’s policies resulting in the Great Depression – soon to be called the Great Depression of the 20th Century so as to distinguish it from the one into which we are headed.  I have little hope that even the best conservatives in the House, the Senate, and the Presidency can turn the ship around in time to keep us from running aground. 

You might think of it like this:
Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss.  Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. … So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.  But we must run aground on some island.
Now when it was day, they did not recognize the land, but they noticed a bay with a beach, on which they planned if possible to run the ship ashore.  So they cast off the anchors and left them in the sea, at the same time loosening the ropes that tied the rudders. Then hoisting the foresail to the wind they made for the beach.  But striking a reef, they ran the vessel aground. The bow stuck and remained immovable, and the stern was being broken up by the surf.  The soldiers' plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any should swim away and escape.  But the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and make for the land, and the rest on planks or on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land.   --Acts 27:21-26, 39-44  (Emphasis mine)