Thursday, February 28, 2013

Life Off the Edge

 I received a knife and stuff catalog in the mail today.  They have a lot of self-protection items -- stun guns and pepper spray.  Since my granddaughter will be going to college this fall, I was thinking about items she might be able to carry for self-defense.  We are sending her to a class in April.

Anyway, I often see knives of certain types with a blurb that says "No Ship to CA, NY, MA".  The list of states varies.  Even here in a relatively sensible state, there are knives and weapons I can own but which would get me in trouble if I carried them.  I think this is stupid, but it's generally not too restrictive.

Check this out -- stun guns:  "No Ship to HI, MA, MI, NJ, NY, RI, WI, PA".  Seven states do not want women to have so much as the benefit of what amounts to a cattle prod in case they are attacked.  My understanding about stun guns -- based on the opinions of people who know more than I do -- is that they are next to useless.  Tasers are very effective.  Stun guns just make people mad.  OK, so maybe that's part of it.  I doubt it.

Impact baton:  "No Ship to CA, MA, NY, NJ, PA".  Remember that scene in "Lonesome Dove" where Captain Caul (Tommy Lee Jones) takes his quirt to the rude Army Scout who is trying to commandeer Newt's horse?  A collapsible baton is about like that.  If you were attacked, it is not a bad impact weapon, if you have room to use it, and if your attacker has no room to run.  But, really, couldn't we say the same of a good, stout hickory limb?

Mace is illegal, apparently, in DC, MA, NY, HI, MI, WI, NJ.  People can probably get mace and pepper spray with a permit or something -- I mean, if they really need it.

Double-edged daggers cannot be sold to customers in CA, MA, NJ, or NH (live free but only with one sharp edge). Looks like some -- but not all -- are also illegal in Arkansas -- maybe a length issue.   Trench knives -- with knuckledusters, on the other hand, are banned in NY and DE, in addition to the usual suspects of CA and MA.  Does any of this make sense?

Looks like you may need state permission to purchase a BB-gun in CA, MA, and NY, because -- all together now -- 'You'll shoot your eye out!'

And so it goes.  Any kind of assisted opening knife cannot be legally owned by residents of New York City lest they drink too much soda and start re-enacting "West Side Story".

Gentlemanly sword canes are forbidden in CA, MA, and NY, likely related to the extinction of gentlemen in those bastions of the safety dance.   

Finally there is an item called a "Full-Metal Core Cedar Tire Thumper".  It's 19" long, and looks something like a cut-down baseball bat.  Apparently they drilled out the center and stuck in a piece of rebar or something -- instead of cork.  It is illegal to sell such a stick to the grateful subjects of CA, MA, NY, NJ, and PA.

Why would this "tire-thumper" be more dangerous than an aluminum baseball bat?  Why would it be more dangerous than an 18" piece of pipe from Home Depot?  I can almost guarantee that I have chunks of dried and seasoned cedar laying on the ground around here that would split a person's skull with or without a chewy lead center.

When all you have is a lawmaker, everything looks like a crime. 

Catch .303

I posted this link in a reply to John, but I think it might be good to put up separately, too.

Ian Robertson was an Australian soldier during the Korean War, a digger.  He was a sniper, armed with a .303 Enfield.

All snipers were hated, good ones were feared. The better he shot, the more desperate enemy officers would be to kill him to stop the loss of morale. This is the sniper's dilemma: the more enemies you hit, the more return fire you attract and the more likely you are to die. Call it a Catch .303.

There is nothing glamorous or glorious about killing, even when it is necessary. I do not want to have to fight my fellow humans, let alone my fellow Americans.  I hope that "come and take it" never becomes a literal process.  Still, life and freedom -- two sides of the same coin, are worth fighting, even dying, even killing to save. 

The North Koreans and the Chinese were beasts.  Don't think, though, they were born any different than the rest of us.  If war were to come to America we would see the same kind of horrors perpetrated, the same kind of heroism exemplified.

Be careful what you wish for.   

Keep both eyes open, point and snap-shoot, count the shots and reload after six.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

One Year On, Trayvon Gone

And so is much of the enthusiasm.  The administrator over at the Last Refuge (Conservative Tree House) gives a first-person account of the "rally" for Martin in NYC. 

It's worth the time to read it.

The Last Refuge has great information on the whole timeline if you go down the page.  I'm adding it to the sidebar.

The way this whole mess has played out really points up how the media works, how twisted it is.  Initially this appeared to be an Obama-friendly narrative.  An over-zealous, incompetent, gun-crazed white male chased down some innocent little black kid and callously shot him down.  While it quickly became apparent that it was more complex than that, the media continued to push supporting imagery and to do their best to keep the disinformation campaign going.

The bit-players in this bastardized daytime drama, Lawyer J. Nobel Daggett Crump and Martin's parents, saw a chance for a payday.  The parents are as stupid and despicable as the media and quickly exhausted any sympathy I might have felt over their loss.  To them, Trayvon alive was a problem, another violent, arrogant thug-wannabe auditioning for a spot at the gray-bar resort; Trayvon dead looked, for a while, like gold.  

Sadly, George Zimmerman will likely never get his life back.  I hope and pray that he is at least able to live in freedom.  Perhaps he will be able to re-locate and find a new direction in life.

Did Zimmerman do anything wrong?  Not morally.  He may have acted incautiously and gotten himself into a situation he did not, but, perhaps, could have anticipated.  But he was trying to look out for his neighbors and his neighborhood.  That's not a bad thing.  It's a shame that he has had to suffer for it, simply because the propaganda wing of the new fascist Amerika decided they needed some racism and anti-gun material in an election year. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Care and Feeding of the .44 Remingon Magnum

I talk about the .22LR a lot because it is ubiquitous, easy for people to shoot and amazingly effective, and, of course, I love the .22 WMR.  Still if one were to put a gun to my head, so to speak, and demand that I pick one and only one gun to keep and carry, one of the choices I would ponder, after my shotgun and the rimfires, would be my Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 magnum.  If I were able acquire plenty of ammunition or knew that I had access to plenty of components and my reloading setup, the .44 would be hard not to choose.

At the top of my list for any firearm is accuracy.  It's a fact that I have tested over and over again.  For some strange reason, I shoot the Blackhawk as well or better than any of my other firearms.  Given the fact that is has open sights, I shoot it about as well as I do my scoped rifles.  I would say it is rivaled only by my Single-Six.  Maybe I was born to be a plowboy because the old plowhandle works for me.

The thing about the .44 is that it can be loaded to do all kinds of jobs.  Stick a relatively soft cast bullet in over a modest load of fast powder and use it for small game.  Put a 180-grain jacketed bullet on top of a bunch of H110 and you have a longer-range varmint or whitetail walloper. 

A maximum load of H110 behind a 300-grain solid would probably work for dangerous game.  I'm not going to try it, but people have taken some mighty big game with Mr. Keith's baby. 

Speaking of that patron saint of the Double-4, Keith's original load was a 240-grain (relatively) hard-cast bullet clocking along about 1200 fps.  Remington loaded their first 240, gas-checked bullet to give 1400 fps out of an 8-inch S&W Model 29.  That's a good stiff round.  I shoot a 240-grain jacketed bullet over a non-max load of 2400 that will exceed 1300 fps.  It might actually approach 1400 in my 7.5 inch Blackhawk.  Even in my big SA, you don't have to wonder if it went off.  Generally speaking, that bullet will not stay in one of our goaty little whitetails. 

Then I have my "light" load.  The load that I use for general plinking, pest eradication, and, if it came to it, self-defense, is a gas-checked, hard-cast 240-grain bullet (Oregon Trail, I think, could be wrong because I didn't write it down). I load that bullet in a .44 mag case with a regular Winchester LP primer and around 12 grains of Blue Dot.  That's a way reduced load.  The minimum listed in the manual on the magnum side is around 15 grains.  It's really a very mild .44 Special load in a .44 magnum case.  It shoots to basically the same point of aim as the jacketed bullet load out to forty or fifty yards.  I'm pretty sure it would kill a deer just as dead as the other one, and it's mild enough for rapid fire.  I found it to be quite adequate for most purposes. 

REMINDER and CAVEAT: I have had no problems with these loads in my particular revolver.  That DOES NOT mean they are safe.  Refer to manufacturers' reloading manuals and  DO NOT EVER use any load you run across on the internet from some half-wit like me.   

Should a person be inclined to use a .44 magnum for self-defense, one option would be to simply pick up some .44 Special high-performance rounds -- such as Hornady Critical Defense, Winchester Silvertips, or Speer Gold Dot.  The good old Silvertip, for example, is pushing a 200-grain bullet at 900 fps, yielding 360 ft/lbs -- probably from a 4-inch barrel.  That will certainly do the job on the business end while being mild and controllable for the shooter. 

Practice ammunition would be easy to load up in magnum cases using cast bullets and .44 Special recommended loads. 

The .44 magnum is a very versatile and useful round.  I used to think the .357 magnum was the perfect handgun round -- and it is very good.  Yet, over the years, I have come to rely more and more on the .44 as my go-to hunting handgun.  Accurate and powerful, or accurate and mild, the .44 is what it eats.   

Monday, February 25, 2013

Tumblin' Dice

In case you didn't notice, Karl Denninger has put up his Tickercon 1 post.

This is taken from the old DefCon levels back in the Cold War.  Tickercon 1 means that all your preparations should be done.  Do not delay. 

Has Denninger correctly called it?  There's no way to know.  A tornado is going to pass over your house.  Will it be on the ground when it does?  That's where we are at. 

The thing to watch out for is being stampeded.  The election in Italy signals that the problems intrinsic to Europe and the financial union are completely unresolved and unresolvable (long term).  The Japanese decision to devalue was already making things unstable.  The sequester is being pitched as TEOTWAWKI, but it's miniscule.  The great fear of the political class is that people won't be hurt by the cuts and decide they can live just fine with less and less expensive government.  

I recommend taking everything you hear for the next week or two with skepticism.  To the extent possible spread serenity.  Try to keep those around you thinking rationality rather than emotionally.  Beware of media hype and of conveniently propaganda-rich events. 

Aside from making sure you are well-supplied, no action is better than panicked action at this point. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

How to Work with Your Local Law Enforcement

A Fort Worth police officer shot a dog.  Frank Brown shot Lily for no good reason, other than cops can do that and get away with it.  Those of us who love dogs, and even those who simply respect property rights, get all upset when we hear one of these stories.  Mark and Cindy Boling, Lily's owners, were upset, too.  To them, it was roughly equivalent to murder.  It was certainly wanton destruction of private property.

The Bolings wanted revenge at first, but they decided on a better course of action.

[They] switched gears and began advocating for more training. Lo and behold, police Chief Jeffrey Halstead listened, expressed empathy, and established a training program that will eventually reach 800 local patrol officers.
It turns out that Officer Frank Brown, who was suspended for his actions, came to understand the unnecessary trauma he had caused the Bolings.  He signed up for the training class as soon as it was offered. 

Lileks suggests the proper way to complain in today's Bleat:

Anyway. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: Complain. Not with anger. Not at the person who has no power. Not in a fashion you would like directed at you. But complain.  

We can feel bad when we get mistreated.  We can take it personally.  We can take it out on the perpetrator.  Or we can take positive, constructive action.  This is power and the benefit of operating locally.  This is the horror of a massive, centralized, faceless and amorphous bureaucracy. 

You can deal with a person.  Sure, you will occasionally run into a wicked, dedicated, irredeemable jackass.  They are out there.  They are, however, a lot more prevalent in the mob-like atmosphere of government bureaus and regulatory agencies where they can hide behind "policies" and "supervisors" and "rules".  IRS, DMV, ATF, EPA.  They are drawn to those type of environments like rattlesnakes to prairie dog towns. 

Anyway, study the approach the Bolings took.  Read Lileks.  Have a good weekend.

No Kidding

Economists Warn Fed Risks Losing Control (via Denninger). 

Some witchdoctors dowsers economists, including a former Fed governor, have decided that money printing could get out of hand, even if you call it quantitative easing.  It could even result in (gasp) inflation.  It's really insightful:  The combination of a massively expanded central bank balance sheet and an unsustainable public debt trajectory is a mix that has the potential to substantially reduce the flexibility of monetary policy ....

Who would have thought that printing money would paint the central bankers into a corner? 

The central bank is currently purchasing $85 billion a month of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities, following two previous rounds totaling $2.3 trillion, in an effort to lower an unemployment rate stuck near 7.9 percent. Once the economy strengthens, the central bank plans to unwind its balance sheet by raising interest rates and selling many of the assets acquired over the past four years.

To be sort of fair, I understand that, since they are all bankers and buddies, they felt that they had no choice except to try and keep the financial system afloat for a while.  The idea -- the hope was, I'm sure, that things would pick up, and the Fed could shift the burden, and if federal revenues were enhanced, that, coupled with some sensible spending cuts would close the gap.  They could not reckon with the political regime of a Chicago mobster like Obama & Friends.  The political calculation of expanding the reach of government, of destroying the entrepreneurs, of creating more and more extensive government dependence took priority over the raw reality of economic considerations.  It was what was good for Obama, not America. 

Now, of course, there is no one interested in buying those assets.  Europe is coming apart.  The Chinese and the Russians are hunting for gold, and Bernanke is insulating his mansion with Treasuries. 

Fiscal dominance refers to a situation in which a central bank is forced to purchase government debt and finance deficits through inflation. If the central bank does not do this, interest rates will rise and the economy will contract and the government could even default, leading to a crisis that would cause an even worse contraction, the authors say. The central bank “will in effect have little choice,” they write.

The problem is that the Fed is supposedly obligated to keep inflation at 2% or less.  They have done this by playing fast and loose with the statistics and claiming that "core" inflation was 1.6% last year.  We all know it was higher than that but as long as the fiction can be maintained, the Fed can leave interest rates at or near zero.  Once they are forced to admit inflation is getting out of hand, they will be pressured to jack up rates.

My guess is that this paper is sort of a shot-across-the-bows, not so much for the Federal Reserve, as for the Obama Administration.  It will be interesting to see if the thugocracy takes note.   

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Desperate Brew

I like my title.  Someone should write a hard-boiled noir to go with it.

Gear Patrol is one of those snob sites that kind of annoy me, but once in a while they come up with something interesting.  This is coffee week or something which includes this evaluation of the "best" instant coffees.  Instant coffee is generally terrible, as the GP guy points out.  I keep instant on hand, though, because it can be transported easily, it stores well, and it beats a snowbank -- as my mom used to say -- when you are desperate for a fix.  Hence, desperate brew.

I consider coffee a survival essential -- not so much because we need it to live but because it is one of the simple, consistent pleasures I enjoy that makes life worth living.  And simple, one might even say, essential pleasures, are not to be disparaged when preparing to endure difficult times.

Not everybody likes or needs coffee.  Not all coffee-drinkers derive the same joy from it that I do.  Some people just drink a cup out of habit to get started in the morning.  For them, missing a cup might be headache-inducing, but otherwise not a big deal.  Most everyone, though, has some little "essential luxury" they would really miss.  It might be tea.  It might be chocolate or butterscotch.  It might be a cigar or a pipe or a bourbon.  It might be a spice like cinnamon or rosemary or chile powder.  It might also be journaling or drawing.  Whatever small thing that a person enjoys should not be dismissed as non-essential because these things are part of our identity, of what we are.

Don't ignore those things.  There will be days when everything else has gone wrong, but you can still have your little cup of joy.   

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lettuce Sticker Shock

Denninger addresses some of the PPI specifics

This is not really news to anyone who has been to the grocery store.  I do appreciate the fact that coffee prices have relaxed a little to allow me to restock.  A lot of the produce is simply untouchable.  Part of that was the drought these last couple of seasons, but the dollar collapse along with increased fuel costs have been the major factors.

I do not see how some folks are getting by.  My daughter is essentially living paycheck-to-paycheck by intense coupon-clipping.  She also has the advantage of getting her 3-year-old's daycare provided in exchange for some accounting work.  My son and his wife are both working full-time and barely getting by.  We have been able to help out a little, but the pressure is on many, many families out there.

Where the squeeze is more intense -- Egypt, Greece, Spain, and Portugal, for example, we are seeing signs of unrest and desperation. 

The current minimum wage discussion is a union-backed ploy which will result in higher prices and, most likely, higher unemployment. 

Monty Pelerin ponders the innate stupidity of the masses

Sultan Knish reminds us that our family should be our safety net.  You might want to be nice to the kids and the spouse, just in case.

Happy Endings?

No, not really.  I could make a joke about the death of Demetrius Murphy, but I can agree somewhat with the response of Matt Quain, who had been the victim of Murphy's assault back in October 2011: 

Quain sees what happened to Murphy as part of a circle of violence that needs to be stopped.

“Ya know, I’m not happy that somebody died,” he said Monday.

On the other hand, Murphy, who was 13 at the time that he sucker-punched Quain before beating him with a brick while he lay on the ground, was not too concerned if his actions killed or permanently damaged his victim.  These kids are tribal.  Though I suspect that Demetrius went to a public school, he was not socialized in the same way we were socialized growing up.  He believed that attacking someone not of his tribe was perfectly acceptable. 

The difference between Demetrius Murphy and Trayvon Martin was that Matt Quain was not armed and prepared to defend himself.  What would have been the consequences if Quain had shot and killed an "unarmed" thirteen-year-old child?

I commend Mayor Francis Slay for assisting Matt Quain when he came upon the victim.  It is very reminiscent of the story of the Good Samaritan:

It was back in 2011 that Quain and a friend were walking along Grand, returning from a “beer run” to Schnucks, when they say a group of teens jumped them. Quain was beaten badly, suffering neck injuries and a broken jaw. He was discovered bleeding in the street by Mayor Francis Slay and his security guard. 

I could be wrong about this, but I would not be surprised to learn that Mayor Slay is generally opposed to the citizens of St. Louis carrying weapons.  Mayors, though, have to have security guards.  

It would also be interesting to know the dynamics surrounding the witness who initially identified Murphy as the attacker then "refused to show up in court", causing the case to be dropped.  Had that not happened, Murphy might be alive today.  As it was, he seemed to think himself invincible. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Secret Weapon of Handy Manliness

The Art of Manliness suggests ways to carry duct tape at all times.  We're all for this. 

I usually wrap it around something flat like a credit card or just an old piece of reasonably stiff plastic.  I almost always have some tape wrapped around my lighter and flashlight as well.  I use black electrical tape for a lot of applications and carry it the same way.  Duct tape works better for something like a wound --  and I've actually used it for that.  It's also better for creating a setup where you don't want it adhering to part of a surface -- since it's bigger and easier to manipulate, slapping another piece of duct tape face down on the sticky side where you don't want sticky.

Paracord was one of those things I had never bothered with.  I always have lots of fishing line, some nylon cord -- like mason's line around, polypropylene rope, jute for the garden, and, of course, baler twine.  I was ordering some other items recently and decided to add a hundred feet of paracord for good measure.  I like it.  I haven't tried snaring chipmunks with the inner fibers yet, but the concept seems kind of neat.  It is easy to work with and does make decent replacement bootlaces, if nothing else.   

Two of the grandkids -- the more redneck of the four -- are big on duct-tape crafting, or whatever you want to call it.  My wife's coupon retainer is one of their creations.  I took part of an old pocket-size planner, cut it up some and used camouflage duct tape to make myself a pocketed index card, business card, note, and receipt carrier.  I carry that in my back pocket, keeping my front-pocket wallet smaller and slimmer. 

A Swiss Army Knife and Vise-Grips,
WD-40 and duct tape
Will fix a lot of troubles
And avoid a lot of scrapes.

Accompanying a brain
These are handy tools
Which lets out the President
And the Congress full of fools.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Realism and Romance

No, this is not about Valentine's Day.  A couple of days ago, Monty Pelerin talked about the change that is coming.  He linked to Simon Black's, talking about the reality of capital controls.  Read it.  Skip what I have to say if you need more time.  Read it.

I didn't watch the SOTU speech because, as my nephew likes to point out, I am a Bad Man.  Look, I was really upset, like everyone else, back on September 11, 2001.  I made excuses for Bush, just like people are making excuses for Obama now.  I get it that we are on opposing political teams -- Cowboys versus Redskins.  But it is time for all of us to forget the romantic version of America and open our eyes to reality. 

Call it conspiracy.  Call it incompetence.  Call it whatever you want, the end result is that we cannot believe what we are being told.  The inflation rate is being doctored.  We all know that food prices in particular are skyrocketing -- not easing up, shooting up.  Packaging cannot disguise it at this point.  Our currency is being devalued at an accelerating rate.  The only reason it isn't looking worse is because the same thing is happening in Europe and now Japan has upped the ante even more.

Obama was re-elected because, despite his obvious corruption, lust for power, and incompetence, a whole lot of people in this country are desperate, desperate enough to turn their lives over to a dictator, if it comes to that, in order to eat and pay their bills.  The mass of Americans is not so different from the mass of Germans in the 1920s and '30s.  Please don't think I'm equating Obama or Clinton or Bush with Hitler.  These dolts are more like the Weimar Republic leadership that set the stage for Hitler.  That it was and is unintentional doesn't change the outcome.  And part of it is intentional.  These guys are delusional enough to think that more government control and the centralization of power will work out differently this time because they are different.  They are not.  It won't.   

Fernandez in Argentina is not going to start killing off Jews or some other pressure-relieving minority, but there is someone out there plotting, I have no doubt, to overthrow her regime, and that person could well be just such a dictator.  Moreover, there is no New America rising to thwart that.  Brazil, Russia, India, and China -- even if they manage to keep their economies on course -- are not about to become the new arbiters of liberty and justice.  The Middle East is descending into darkness and chaos, and there is nothing we can or are willing to do about it.  We let our own ambassador be brutally murdered, and our "leaders" respond with, "What difference does it make?"

I cannot imagine how Japan avoids a total collapse for more than a few months -- though the collusion of the various central banks may keep it at bay longer.  Much of Europe is spiraling down into an Islamic dark age as well as an economic collapse.  There is already a large segment of the U.S. population begging for the kind of destructive totalitarian measures Obama is pushing.  I thought the polls were manipulated prior to the election -- apparently they weren't.  We can no longer trust that a majority of our fellow citizens will come to their senses.  Don't forget that, back when we were a more sensible and virtuous people, Americans elected the odious, corrupt, and incompetent socialist Roosevelt four times.  


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

PFD Entertainment Review: Arrow

It looks like archery has become fodder for pop culture.  The Hunger Games emphasized bow and arrow skills.  I understand there are crossbows used in The Walking Dead.  People were using bows in Revolution.  Now we have DC's Green Arrow coming to television as Arrow.  I was always more of a Marvel Hawkeye fan myself and never paid much attention to the DC universe, so the Green Arrow is all new to me.  

I ended up watching several episodes of Arrow via Hulu, and it isn't too bad.  Overall the acting is better than Revolution.  I don't know if it a matter of the director or just a much higher level of actors, but aside from Paul Blackthorne as Detective Lance, there is very little overacting, and in Blackthorne's case, that's simply what the character calls for.  One of the messages is that the One-percenters are bad unless they are tortured by their responsibility to their city -- or something like that.  Oliver Queen isn't exactly renouncing his vast wealth but instead uses his resources to effectively carry out his revenge against the Rich.  Very Batman-like, though Starling City is not nearly as bizarre as Gotham City.  Queen has a book his father gave him with a list of names of the corrupt who must be taken down.  

The flashbacks to the island where Queen was marooned and where he developed his amazing ninja skills are entertaining and do add a bit to the story.  The plot of a given episode is not complicated but there are some elements of the overall series' plot that are complex and convoluted enough to give the show some texture.  And it's gritty.  And the Green Arrow -- so far known only as "the Hood", doesn't always come out best in some of his fights.

As the backstory can take up quite a bit of screen time each week, the character development of a given episode can suffer noticeably.  A good example of that is the installment called "Trust but Verify" where Queen's partner, Diggle, deals with a man named Ted Gaynor who was his commanding officer in Afghanistan.  It's unclear why, exactly, Gaynor is on a list of mostly white-collar criminals or how Queen's father would have known about Gaynor prior to his death five years earlier.  Still not bad for television.

I like the casting of Stephen Arnell as Oliver Queen/Green Arrow.  Actor David Ramsey (not to be confused with Dave Ramsey, replicant) is solid and credible as John Diggle, Oliver's bodyguard and confidante.  John Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn effectively portrays a suavely satanic and dangerous villian.  Hong Kong actor Byron Mann is seen the island flashbacks as Yao-Fei, and he looks the part of a deadly martial arts practitioner.  So far the family and romantic tendrils of the story haven't overwhelmed the action that drives the series.  Overall I'd give Arrow a slightly above-average 6, keeping in mind that I rate Downton Abbey as a thoroughly boring 5 and Firefly as a high 9. 

You are not going to learn a lot of real world survival skills watching Arrow, but Oliver does remind us of the importance of conditioning and practice.  Just good shooting is not enough.  You have to be able to get into the right position and maneuver quickly.  Being able to execute a tactical retreat is crucial to success.  Everything isn't resolved with a stunning bow shot or a trick arrow.  Secondary skills often save the day.  It's also important to have a well-defined mission and to remember that achieving the goal is more important than how others might see us. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

If It Weren't for Double Standards

The LA police officers who shot up a vehicle and two innocent women have been placed on administrative leave. 

Is administrative leave like a felony arrest?  I ask because it seems to me that people who irresponsibly endanger the lives and property of others are often charged with felonies. 

Of course, California is going to ensure the safety of its citizens by disarming law-abiding civilians while leaving the 30-round magazines to trigger-happy Fifes like these idiots. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Abandonment of Benghazi

The Weekly Standard talks about Panetta testimony.

It was not Panetta's call to make about what resources were available.  To admit that Obama had no contact or interest in the situation in Libya after 5:00pm Eastern seems damning.  More damning, however, would be an admission that he was informed about what was taking place but refused to authorize engagement and rescue. 

According to Panetta, most of the 5:00pm conference focused on the embassy in Egypt.  This is all part of the narrative that the protests were caused by a video.  The riots and attacks were taking place on September 11th.  This is a significant date to these superstitious barbarians.

Does anybody think that the President's absence from the loop would have been anything other than the driver of the news cycle for the last several weeks if the President were named Bush, McCain, or Romney?  And that's the way it should be.  I would be sickened to learn that a Republican president had neglected his duty in this way, and it would be perfectly acceptable to me to excoriate a person -- be it the Commander in Chief or the Secretary of State -- for such flagrant abandonment of American citizens.  

G. Gordon Liddy related the story at the time, and it sounded so outrageous that I have questioned it, but it may have taken place.  According to Liddy, after the 1993 catastrophe in Mogadishu, Bill Clinton was being briefed on what had taken place by his military advisers.  At one point, Clinton is alleged to have asked why they risked so much to go in after the servicemen they knew were dead. 

Listening to Hillary, Panetta and the rest, you know they don't care.  You just wonder if they even understand.  

Not That Brigid Doesn't Get Enough Hits

... of all kinds, I'm sure. 

But, really, it's a classic.

Los Angeles Man-hunt

California is another world.  I haven't seen much on the LA cops shooting the wrong people in the news.

The motivation seems to be that Dorner failed as a police recruit, may have tried to preemptively railroad his training officer, and plotted revenge for five years. 

A lot of his "manifesto" sounds reasonable enough.  The Los Angeles police department has a long and storied history of corruption and could probably give Chicago's finest a run for their money in that regard.

Denninger has some interesting thoughts on the matter.

There is no excuse for shooting up civilians.  I understand the cops are edgy because Dorner appears to know his business.  The intention seems to be to take as many cops as he can with him when he goes down.  He has been methodical to this point.  Still, the officers' job is to protect the citizens' lives and property first.  This is a failure.

It is hard to sort the spin on this one.  The female training officer presents the story as it being a matter of Dorner not measuring up to the standards and perhaps not being able to handle the pressure.  Dorner's version -- which, given what I know personally about the fraternal nature of law enforcement, does not seem too farfetched -- is that he was targeted and discharged because he reported excessive force on the part of the training officer.  The Board of Review found against Dorner, and, right or wrong, the decision ended Dorner's career plans.  He thus feels justified in striking out at a "corrupt" organization.

His manifesto does exhibit some bizarre thinking and not just in his tirade against the NRA and LaPierre.  He addresses Tim Tebow, Charlie Sheen, and a host of other celebrities and political figures.  It reminds me of some of O.J.'s pronouncements.

I'm glad, once again, I don't live in LA. 

One addendum:  Guy Benson at Townhall recounts the shooter's affection for Obama, but points out that the actions of a madman are hardly an indictment of an ideology.  Proof once again that not only are those on the right correct more of the time, we are also more fair and reasonable with regard to those who oppose us.  

Thursday, February 7, 2013

More on the Deaths of Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield

CNN has additional information that gives us a more complete picture of the murderer, Routh. 

Routh was having some serious mental problems -- possibly from PTSD.  However, I think there may have been some underlying issues that had nothing to do with his service -- schizophrenia comes to mind. 

Gaines Blevins said his brother-in-law said "he'd traded his soul for a new truck and that he murdered two people," the affidavit says. "He said they were out shooting target practice and he couldn't trust them so he killed them before they could kill him. He said he couldn't trust anyone anymore; everyone was out to get him."  (Emphasis added)
That would indicate psychosis, a loss of contact with reality, and something more than freaking out from the stress of combat. 

Kyle was obviously a person who cared about his fellow veterans.

This was, Bryant said, after Routh's mother "may have reached out to" one of the victims -- Chris Kyle, author of the best-selling book "American Sniper" -- "to try and help her son."

The suspect is "a troubled veteran whom they were trying to help," said Craft International, a company founded by Kyle, who had tried to help veterans with PTSD since he retired from the Navy in 2009.
Fellow SEAL Marcus Luttrell had been in contact with his friend Chris Kyle and said that Kyle was trying to help Routh "blow off some steam". 

This was a case where Kyle, knowing that Routh had some mental instability, took a chance and, once more, put his life on the line to help a brother-in-arms.  Both Kyle and Littlefield died as heroes and deserve our respect.  Routh, it appears, deserves a measure of pity and understanding, but he still has to pay for what he has done.

I almost feel like this happened in my backyard.  Midlothian, where Routh's sister lives, is a place I know well.  My wife has gotten a total of one traffic ticket in her life (it helps to be cute) -- she got it in Midlothian, on her way from Waxahachie to Alvarado.  I used to drive up and down Highway 67 every work day on my way from out there in Johnson County up to North Dallas.  I have been out to Glen Rose on numerous occasions and knew several people who worked on building the Comanche Peak nuclear plant.    

This is so sad.  But, contrary the conclusion of the authorities, I'd say the motive is pretty clear.  Routh is truly not in his right mind.

The Perils of Productivity

Initial claims this week were at 366k – dropping by 5,000 from last week but only because last week’s 368,000 number was revised upward to 371,000.  This week’s numbers will probably be revised upward by next Thursday.  So it goes.

The problem we are facing now is decreasing productivity, as Denninger explains in detail here.

For a long time in the 1980s through maybe 2005, productivity grew largely as a result of technical innovations – desktop computers, laptops, cell phones, internet speed and accessibility.  We were able to do much more in the same amount of time with roughly the same resources.  Information technology expansions in business helped boost the GDP.  At this point, though, the internet has about run its course as far as offering us improvements in how much we can get done.  Obama’s ignorant lament about ATMs replacing bank cashiers has a tiny grain of truth to it.  Innovation in computer technology and robotics has replaced a lot of marginally skilled workers.  Dozens of stockers and cashiers in a brick-and-mortar store can be replaced by a website. 

I don’t think this is necessarily a problem.  I think the free market would figure out a way to deal with it.  I don’t think the government can fix it – which is one of the really stupid things government and unions are trying to do.  Their answer is to employ more government workers to provide more unnecessary, unwanted, wasteful and inefficient government “service”.  If government were inefficient enough, according to their thinking, the state could employ everybody.  Remind me again how that worked out for the Soviets, how it’s working out in Greece and most of Europe now, and how it will work out for us and the Chinese in the future. 

I know there are plenty of people running around telling everyone not to listen to the gloom-and-doomers.  Fine.  If people want to believe that happy days are here again, more power to them.  Such folks might want to keep a good supply of Xanax and/or vodka on hand.  I don’t mind at all if they turn out to be right.  But they are not. 

My advice is that people get anything they think they need to survive a collapse now – certainly before the end of the summer, preferably sooner.  At the very least, get a barrel and fill it with water.  The price of canned food has shot up over the last few months, but make sure you have some.  Pick up some junk silver coins.  Save your nickels and the pennies minted before 1982.  Get a couple of packs of butane lighters and extra batteries.  If you see .22LR ammunition anywhere, buy it.  Get some non-hybrid beans and grow some food.  It’s minor stuff, but it’s something.        

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Sandy Hook DA Doesn't Want Warrants Unsealed

Wait.  What?

Via Digital Journal:  Connecticut State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky has argued that unsealing warrants in the Sandy Hook case might "seriously jeopardize" the investigation by disclosing information known only to other "potential suspects."

I have to think this is some sort of standard procedure involving boilerplate legal-ese, because it makes no sense at all to me.

... neither Vance nor the CT Attorney General's office have ever ruled out the possible presence of other suspects. The New Haven Register reports Vance as having said: "Whenever you conduct an investigation you don’t speculate as to where it’s going to take you, as I said, we’re going to look at every single thing, every piece of material and we’ll take it from there." 

Must just be a slow time of year for the AG up there in Connecticut.

There was initially a lot of conflicting information before the politicians -- specifically the Feckless Leader -- started making the whole thing about "assault rifles".  There was talk of a second shooter, possibly.  There is a video of the local police chief saying that the punk had used only handguns -- either two or four.  Then the focus changed and all we heard about was the Bushmaster.

I don't know.  Actually I do know.  I don't trust anything the media reports or that the government says or does.  It's the mental nuclear option -- the only way to be sure. 

And one more thought while I'm at it, as much as I think the AG is probably just taking his time with a very high-profile case, I still wonder about what kinds of drugs the punk might have been using -- prescription or otherwise.  

Zimmerman Denied Delay in Trial

Via the Central Florida News 13 site, the judge in the case denied the motion for the trial date to be moved from June to November. 

The defense is fighting against the reluctance of the prosecution to provide full disclosure.  The prosecution basically has no case other than the phone call that was going on between Martin and his "girlfriend" the night of his attack on Zimmerman.  Initially, this was thought to be a 16-year-old minor.  Another "Dee-Dee" was identified as being 18 at the time.  It's all very confusing, and it has not been helped by the "family attorneys" who keep getting mixed up in the case.  It has always baffled me as to why Martin's parents would need an attorney, and now they apparently have two.  It has been from the first a criminal case, if it was a case at all.

The first "family attorney", Ben Crump, was the one who provided information and a media-feeding interview with the alleged "girlfriend".  Crump himself "lawyered up" in an attempt to avoid being deposed by the Zimmerman defense team.  

Nelson also granted a motion to keep information about "Witness 8" confidential. "Witness 8" is believed to be Trayvon's girlfriend who, according to recorded interviews, was on the phone with Martin the night Zimmerman shot and killed him.
"We want to state very clearly that the recording is an accurate and complete recording of the interview, of everything that we have we gave over," said Ben Crump, attorney for Martin family.

Crump even brought his own attorney to court, to fight a request by the defense to depose the Martin family attorney. Judge Nelson delayed a decision on that.
The implication is that Crump provided at least some information that he knew was false, possibly regarding the identity of the witness.  The prosecution, in order to effectively railroad Zimmerman, has to somehow establish that Martin was frightened and fought back only when pursued and cornered.  They need the "witness" on the phone to be credible in making that assertion. 

All the other evidence indicates that it was Martin who first evaded then ambushed Zimmerman.

The other sickening aspect was the "peace rally" against "gun violence" that took place on what would have been Trayvon's 18th birthday.  How tragic.  I'm surprised the Obamas didn't show up for the rally.  

You know gun violence is so much worse than concrete sidewalk violence.  Having your skull bashed in is practically a spa treatment compared to being shot. 

Those who gathered to celebrate Trayvon's life said there is no better legacy than to play a part in making Sanford, and other communities across the country, safer.

They may be right now that I think about it.  Surely we can all agree that it is only common sense that we rip up all the concrete sidewalks in the country.  For far too long in America, children have been injured by concrete sidewalks.  It's time to step up and demand change.  I mean, if it saves even one child's life, isn't it worth it?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

LaserLyte™ Trainer Cartridge and Target System Review

I ordered the LaserLyte Cartridge and Target System from Midway recently, and I have been using the system for a couple of weeks.  The way it works is that the cartridge is inserted into the chamber.  When the firing pin hits the back of the cartridge a laser pulse lasting 100 milliseconds is initiated.  The laser striking the target screen registers in sensors below the surface.  Firing the laser at the Display sensor on the bottom of the target causes the strikes to be shown on the screen.  Firing into the Reset sensor clears the screen.  (See this link.)

I have been using this at a distance of 21 feet.  That isn’t too challenging.  What is does show dramatically are faults in trigger discipline.  I’m not a bad shot with a single-action revolver – my long-time favorite handgun.  I am a horrible shot with my Springfield XDM.  The LaserLyte™ system has done a couple of things for me.  First, of course, it brazenly and inarguably shows my errors in bright, indisputable red.  Second, it helps me correct those faults.  This is a good system.  Whether it is worth the investment or not is another question, which we will address.

There’s no way to blame bad ammunition.  I can’t get around the fact that either my sight alignment or the movement of my trigger finger (the main culprit) caused me not to hit on center.  Below are a couple of typical spreads showing my unsettling tendency to pull to the right on firing. 

These are both in excess of 10-shot groups, so hitting the same spot registers only once.  It is neat and obvious.  (I would like, at this range, to have all ten or however many shots in one single dot.  I'll let you know if that happens.  Do not hold your breath.)  The delayed feedback with the Display/Reset sensors is good for me, too.  

The second target shows some improvement as a result of changing my grip backstrap.  The XDM package came with three backstraps – small, medium and large.  The medium strap was on when I got it, and since I am remarkably average, I figured that would be the one to use.  After playing with the LaserLyte setup for a few days, I decided to try the large.  After a few more sessions, I began to see some improvement, partially a result of getting some of my fat finger off the trigger, and partially a result of improving technique. 

The LaserLyte™ is dry-firing on steroids, and, like steroids, there is a price to pay, specifically, from Midway $79.99 for the cartridge and $139.99 for the target.  Or there abouts.  Is  it worth it?  For not much more, one could buy a .22 handgun, or, for Glocks, Sig-Sauers, and 1911s, a .22LR conversion kit.  That’s not an option for the Springfield – at least, I’ve never found a conversion for it.  It’s very cheap practice after the initial investment.  As long as the LaserLyte units hold up, all you have to do is buy batteries.  Hundreds of shots have had no impact on the batteries so far. 

Whether it is worth the cost or not depends on one's situation.  If I could have gotten a .22LR conversion, I would have done that instead.  I want to train with this specific handgun, so, as much fun as a Ruger or S&W .22LR pistol is, that does not serve my purpose so well.  As long as the system continues to function properly, I will be fairly satisfied with my investment. 

A couple of things about the actual functioning of the LaserLyte, for example, after you pull the trigger on a double-action auto like the XD, you have to rack the slide to cock it again.  The LaserLyte cartridge is rimless; therefore, there is no problem with ejecting and reseating the cartridge in each cycle.  That raises the question of how one extracts the laser device from the chamber.  I have a special tool.

This one was courtesy of the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home.  I’m sure they would be happy to know it is being put to such a noble and worthy use. 

The device itself is a tight fit in the chamber.  Let me say this again, it is tight.  It was so tight that when I tried it initially, I ended up calling the LaserLyte customer service number to see if something was wrong.  It’s not.  It’s just very tight.  It’s OK to put a little lubricant, a small amount of gun oil or petroleum jelly (use gun oil, Vaseline is just wrong) on the cartridge to help it seat.  I have to let the slide slam down pretty hard.  The LaserLyte™ folks, who seem nice and helpful, insist that the cartridge is built for just such usage.  It does seem pretty tough. 

I do not know the maximum distance at which this system works.  The range on the target says "50 yards".  I have a 21-foot lane here in my office, and that’s where I’ve used it.  It seems perfect.  I did try it outside at about 25 yards, and it seems OK.  In my case, it doesn’t matter because I’m working on isolating only certain aspects of my shooting.  With this system, you are obviously not dealing with recoil and muzzle blast.  What I am working on is speed, target acquisition, and trigger control.  Twenty-one feet works fine.

There are other cartridge sizes available in addition to the .40 S&W.  For someone in a situation similar to mine, this approach and the initial expense is reasonable.  The only question I have myself is durability – something only time and use will reveal.  Otherwise, I can recommend the LaserLyte™ system as being well-designed and beneficial.   

Read my follow-up here.