Friday, May 30, 2014

Bruins, Old and New

Most everyone I knew, in the olden times, was a Schrade guy and carried mostly Old Timers.  The difference between an Uncle Henry and an Old Timer is that an OT had “saw-cut delrin” scales where a UH has the imitation stag scales.  Up on the shelf here is an Uncle Henry large, two-blade folding hunter that I bought for my father sometime back in the early ‘70s.  It is displayed right in front of a picture of Dad with some of his hounds.  He always said he wanted me to have that knife when he was done with it.  I’d like to imagine that, some years in the future, the knife and the picture will sit on a shelf in the home of one of my grandkids.    

In the late ‘90s, I bought an Old Timer Bruin lockback.  This was before Schrade closed down their factory in Utica, NY and went out of business.  Taylor Brands bought up the Schrade trademarks and designs and started making Old Timers and Uncle Henrys in China.  The last Old Timer I have with “USA” stamped on the tang was given to me by my granddaughter for my birthday sometime around 2003 – her dad may have picked up earlier.  I figured that was the last Schrade I would ever have.    

Times do change, though.  I kept looking at those Chinese Old Timers offered by Smoky Mountain Knife Works, thinking that they look a lot like the originals, which included some pretty neat designs.  So, finally, I broke down and ordered three.  One of those three is a Bruin, like my twenty-year-old USA Bruin – model 5OT.

After having mostly regular carbon blades in their knives when I was a youngster, Schrade started using what they called “Schrade+” steel, which was a stainless.  I don’t know for sure, but it seems like a 440 steel – maybe 440C.  It’s pretty good stuff, taking an edge with less effort than Buck’s proprietary 420HC, and I always thought it held an edge fairly well.  Part of the Schrade secret, if you will, was always, in my opinion, the flat grind.  A flat grind with a less acute bevel is easier for me to sharpen, and it seems to stay sharper longer.    

The Chinese version of the Bruin has a stainless steel blade.  Obviously, it is not very high-end steel, but it has the flat grind.  Subjectively, comparing it to my old American version, the quality of the steel is not all that different.  Both of them are kind of like kitchen knife stainless.  They’ll sharpen up, and they will cut.  If you want to take out a screw or cut through those straps Home Depot uses to tie up their lumber, you’re probably going to need to touch up the edge, but you’re not really going to hurt it.  And who cares if you do? 

This is a knife you can give your kid or your grandkid who is prone to lose things and not have to worry about it.  You can stick this in the pocket of your jeans or dress pants where it will ride unobtrusively to work, out on the town, or to church, and if you snap the point off trying to use it as a pry bar, you’re not going to cry.  These are not disposable knives, but they are useable knives. 

As far as the fit and finish, the old green Bruin has a better “feel” in my hand.  The Chinese version has more abrupt edges.  My old knife got carried a lot, like constantly, for several years, so I’m not sure how much of the difference is due to wear and how much was built in.  Except for that, the Chinese Schrade is a quite acceptable, cheap, mass-produced pocketknife.  The bolsters and the lock-up are solid and as strong as one could expect in a folding knife, especially one costing less than $20.    

Keep in mind that these knives are anything but tactical-looking.  Though I am not particularly dexterous and have average stubby fingers, I can open and close the Bruin with one hand, something I always liked about this knife.  There’s no thumb stud.  No one is going to accuse a person carrying a model 5OT of having a switchblade or a gravity knife.  It’s not big and intimidating or scary, but it will cut when you need it to.  The blade shape is utilitarian, practical, and not very aggressive.  It will peel a tater, skin a squirrel, or clean a fish.  I’ve skinned out whitetail deer with similar knives.  I have never had to try one of these out as a self-defense weapon of last resort, but I think I could do worse if it ever came to that. 

My nephew’s comment about the Bruin as well as the other two Old Timers was that he does not like knives with a single blade.  My reply was it doesn’t matter so much if you have more than one knife.  These are inexpensive, compact knives that you can put in your pocket and forget about until you happen to need it.  When you need it, it will cut. 

I’m glad that Buck and Bear and Sons are making reasonably priced knives here in the States.  But if you need to save a few bucks, or just save your Buck, there’s nothing wrong with adding a knife like this OT Bruin to the accumulation. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Independents and Independence

Mr. Van der Leun makes the point about re-branding on American Digest.  I, too, am an American.  I love my country.  I believe in the principles that were laid down by the generation that fought the American Revolution and encoded those principles in the foundational documents upon which the government of the new nation was to be built. 

I have no use for the government of my country as it currently exists.  It is intrusive, thuggish, and oppressive, run by criminals, con men, and an army of freedom-eating "public servants" interested primarily in making sure they get their benefits and fully-funded pensions.  Changes in various offices have little impact on the vast Kafkaesque officialdom that does the real work of destroying liberty. 

More and more people are seeing the futility in aligning themselves with the two principal political parties in the U.S.  Republicans have failed to transform into a party of small, sensible, fiscally-responsible government.  People are leaving the GOP and registering as Independents.  The Tea Party is not a party -- there has been some confusion from the start on this point.  Rick Santelli remarked during a live news broadcast about people being fed up with taxation and referenced the Boston Tea Party where rebellious, anti-tax colonists dumped a load of tea from a ship into Boston Harbor in protest.  This led to "Tea Party" rallies that were opposed to the Obama Regime's efforts, especially regarding Obamacare. 

The Tea Party became, more or less, the small-government wing of the Republican Party and helped elect a majority of Republicans to the House in 2010.  Those new "Tea Party" Republicans proved ineffective in combating the media-backed attacks by Obama and his supporters as well as the inertia in the establishment side of the GOP.  The Republicans in the House have failed to check the new imperial presidency, failed to defund anything, failed to cut spending and bring the deficit under control, failed to hold the Federal Reserve accountable, failed to expose the truth about the various travesties and intrigues in the Justice Department, the Treasury, and the State Department.

To put it in a single statement, the Republican Party is worthless.  They might pass amnesty for those who have crossed the border and broken the law to enter this country because they think their Chamber of Commerce supporters need more cheap labor to trim their hedges and run their leaf blowers.  They also think, somehow, that this will not lead to more support for Democrats, though Hispanics tend to vote 2-to-1 with the Democrat Party.  Americans of Spanish descent are citizens.  They did not come here illegally.  They are often quite socially conservative, traditional, and law-abiding people.  I would guess that some of them find these blatant attempts at pandering by the Republican establishment rather offensive.

Further, since the Tea Party designation has more or less served its purpose and run its course, it needs to be retired.  In its place, we need a viable political party that can run candidates under its own banner.  I am glad to see the nationalist parties in Europe gain, and I admire what Mr. Farage and the UKIP managed to achieve.  We could use a USIP version that also believes in upholding American interests first.  We need a political party for all of the Independents -- an Independent or Independence Party that supports the dismantling of the federal leviathan, a reduction in spending in all departments, responsible taxation to eliminate deficits, and, in general, a return to the constitutional limits on federal action.

I even have a motto for a new Independent Party  -- "You can't have independence without Independents."

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mises and Emerson Quotes

The Mises Economic Blog has a post about Leonard Read and the influence of Ralph Waldo Emerson.  The post includes a list of quotes from Emerson on liberty and self-reliance.  Read them all there.  Here are a few samples:

Look not mournfully to the  past—it comes not back again; wisely improve the present—it is thine; go forth to meet the shadowy future without fear, and with a manly heart.

There is a persuasion in the soul of man that he is here for a cause, and that he was put down in this place by the Creator to do the work for which He inspired him; that thus he is an over-match for all the antagonists that could contrive against him.

All I have teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.

The best lightning-rod for your own protection is your own spine.

Cause and effect cannot be severed.

If any person have less love of liberty…shall he therefore dictate to you and me?

[The State’s] institutions…are not superior to the citizen…

Man exists for his own sake and not to add a laborer to the State.

[S]tatesmen…are sure to be found befriending liberty with their words, and crushing it with their votes.

We…pay unwilling tribute to governments founded on force…

Every actual State is corrupt. Good men must not obey the laws too well.

[W]hat is the use of constitutions, if all the guaranties…for the protection of liberty are made of no effect, when a bad act of Congress finds a willing commissioner?

Emerson was obviously a Tea Party radical and probably a homophobic racist as well.  This is the kind of stuff we used to have to read in our schools.  Emerson and Thoreau were writers that used to be quoted enthusiastically by the baby-boomer, anti-establishment hippie freaks that are now running this country and brook no such dissent from the government line.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Let's Cut the Man Some Slack

Richard Martinez blamed the NRA for the death of his son -- murdered by an over-privileged, entitled, spoiled sissy who shall remain forever nameless as far as I am concerned.

I have sympathy for a grieving father, and I can understand an irrational, emotional outburst under the stress and anguish he must feel.  My heart goes out to him, and he will be in my prayers. 

The senseless and sad death of Christopher Martinez was the result of a decision and evil actions by another individual human being -- a free moral agent, not an inanimate object, not any organization, not any politicians.  Three individuals were stabbed to death.  Three others were shot to death.  Several more people were injured by the vehicle the sick creep was driving.  If the killer had not had access to firearms, Christopher Martinez and the two other victims who were shot might still be alive.  We don't know.

What we do know is that no currently or recently proposed legislation regarding background checks or restrictions would have prevented the murderer from obtaining his firearms.  Restrictions on firearms in California are already more stringent than in the majority of states.  The killer was a member of the privileged class, part of the Hollywood elite, his father an associate producer and evidently reasonably well-off financially.  In all likelihood, it was his father's money that funded some thousands of dollars in purchases of firearms, magazines and ammunition, as well as the BMW he drove.

What we know is that parents who try to prevent their children from ever facing unpleasantness and who smooth over all of life's challenges often end up raising irresponsible little princes and princesses unable to cope with even the most basic and mundane aspects of human existence.

Much like the murderer responsible for the Sandy Hook massacre and the twisted piece of crap that shot up the movie theater in Aurora, CO, this perpetrator was incapable of handling minor stresses that most of us would find, at worst, a little embarrassing.  We don't have too many guns.  We have too many coddled children who need some chores to do.  

Friday, May 23, 2014

Best Western Movies

Growing up we had horses and cattle, and we worked our beef cows, moving from one pasture to another, getting them up in corrals for one thing or another using our horses.  Dad liked Missouri Foxtrotters.  They originated right there where we lived.  Our family owned some of the stock that was part of the evolution of breed.  The horse I usually rode was not a Foxtrotter.  He could foxtrot a little but he was short-gaited and rough.  His natural gait was a pace, and he could run-walk a little.  But he was an outstanding cow horse.  He loved running cows.  He got as much of a kick out of it as I did. 

Dad had done some ranch work out in Wyoming and Colorado back in the last 1920s, after he had to leave Missouri to, apparently, avoid jail.  So it was kind of natural for us to love westerns.  We watched the multitude of cowboy shows that used to be on the old black-and-white television -- everything from "Bonanza" and "Big Valley" to "High Chaparral" to "Sugar Foot", "Cheyenne", "Have Gun Will Travel", "Wanted Dead or Alive", and, of course, "Gunsmoke" and all the rest. 

The list of actors who just seemed to be naturals as cowboys is long -- John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Alan Ladd, Gary Cooper, Henry Fonda, all the singing cowboys, too.  We can't forget Burt Lancaster.  His buddy Kirk Douglas didn't always come off as well.  Gregory Peck was in some excellent Westerns, and he's all right as a dark, complex character as in Duel in the Sun.  I didn't think he couldn't handle humor as well as some of the other actors -- great in The Gunfighter, though.  Charleton Heston was in a few good horse operas, too.  In later years, the Western changed but hung on with guys like Clint Eastwood, Costner, Duvall, Tom Selleck, and Sam Elliot. 

One of the actors that I love watching in movies is Randolph Scott.  In most of his roles, he just doesn't seem to be a guy that life can beat.  There always seems to be a smile, if not a smirk, lurking just behind his countenance.  A good movie to see that in is The Nevadan where he play a U.S. Marshall working undercover with Forrest Tucker as the bad guy.  He and Tucker also clash in another classic, Rage at Dawn.  His last film, though, may be his best, Ride the High Country alongside Joel McCrea.  Scott could never quite lose that Virginia accent, and it always seemed to work well.

So what Westerns could I watch over and over again?  In no particular order:

The Magnificent Seven -- even if you say it's not as good as The Seven Samarai, it's still good
The Outlaw Josey Wales
Rio Bravo
Red River
Ride the High Country
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Quigley Down Under
The Searchers
The Shootist
True Grit -- both versions -- back to back, whatever.  No, Bridges isn't John Wayne and gets point for knowing it.  But Glen Campbell and Kim Darby suffer in comparison to that idiot Damon and Hailee Steinfeld, plus the 2010 version does follow Portis more and the soundtrack is better.  But John Wayne.
The Cowboys
The Streets of Laredo -- this one is a little obscure, William Holden, William Bendix, and MacDonald Carey
The Treasure of Sierra Madre
Jeremiah Johnson  -- we can quibble if this one counts or Sierra Madre for that matter
Vera Cruz
The Unforgiven -- Not the Eastwood movie, the Burt Lancaster movie -- it has Audrey Hepburn in it.
Winchester '73
Bend in the River
Fort Apache
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
Pale Rider

I'm tempted to include The Man from Snowy River, because of that one incredible scene.  I always say the same thing, "Man, that is a good horse."  The rest of the movie is pretty dumb.  I'm also tempted to include Last of the Mohicians which I can watch over and over again, but I don't think western New York counts as the West.  I used to get a big kick out of Hallelujah Trail, but I haved seen it in a long time, and I fear I would not find it all that funny anymore.  There are probably several like that.

I'm leaving out a lot of movies that I like, for example, the Stewart/Anthony Mann western, The Man from Laramie, and the third of Ford's Cavalry trilogy, The Horse Soldiers because they tired me out for one reason or another -- same with High Noon, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and Eastwood's Unforgiven -- once every few years is good for those. 

I'm probably leaving some out just because I don't recall them at the moment. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

No One Expects the Science! Inquisition

Via Daily Caller, a Canadian geneticist on Bill Moyers' PBS show wants to lock up climate change dissenters.

I have a question.  How long have we known that saturated fats contribute to cardiovascular disease and heart attacks?  I think it started up big time when Dwight Eisenhower had a heart attack during his presidency in the '50s.  Ike was a heavy smoker and might have been slightly stressed during a few years in the '40s - especially around the sixth of June, 1944, but it was the cheeseburger he ate before he played a round of golf (or after, I can't remember) that caused his heart attack.

Oleo was going to save the American heart.  In the 1980s, we all needed a high-carbohydrate, low-fat, low-protein diet, or we were all going to die.

It's as though these scientists never heard of a little thing called "digestion".  When I eat a piece of bacon, I'm pretty sure there are not bacon bits in my blood stream.  I once heard a Seventh Day Adventist -- and he may have been a doctor -- talking about how a man going in for a heart procedure had eaten a cheeseburger and a milkshake beforehand, and there was literally cheese in his blood.  Seventh Day Adventists are advocates for healthy eating -- as am I.  I prefer to stick with eating herbivores -- you know, vegetarians, but, like our SDA brethren, I also like to eat raw vegetables and occasionally fruit.

What we are learning now is that low-carbohydrate diets with plenty of natural fats and protein are better for the majority of us than the high-carb, grain-based diets that were being pushed for most of my lifetime.  There is nothing wrong with carbs as long as they are consumed moderately, especially if they are complex or mixed in with plenty of roughage, as we used to say.  Stay away from sugar and starchy stuff that is easily converted to sugar.  In this case, marketing and agribusiness pushed the alleged "scientific consensus" for profit for decades. 

The point is that science, "self-correcting" or not, is often wrong and wrong for very long periods of time.  Climate science is questionable science at best.  It is based largely on computer models.  These climate scientists get grant money from governments based on how important and vital their work can be made to appear.  Some of these clowns appear to understand weather about as well as the SDA guy above understood what happens in the human digestive tract.

Here's a fact.  Sometimes Earth is warmer than other times.  Sometimes it get much colder, and it passes through an ice age.  This is primarily a function of solar activity.  If the furnace in your house is running, the house tends to get warmer.  When the furnace shuts down, the house may start to cool depending on the exterior temperature.  Yes, how much insulation you have in your walls and ceilings do affect how much energy needs to be added to warm the house and how long it takes to cool down after the heat shuts off.

Carbon dioxide, which is less than 1% of atmospheric gases, has very little in the way of insulating properties compared to something like, say, clouds, which are not CO2, but H2O -- water vapor.  Heat, especially over areas with lots of water on the surface, tends to enhance evaporation, putting more clouds in the sky.  In other words, within some degree of variability, the climate tends to re-balance itself.  Human activity is part of that self-regulating system.  In what we might think of as micro-climate areas, like the Los Angeles Basin, I will grant that the human hive residing there has a profound impact on the local environment.  But the impact on the planet as a whole is negligible.

No one is questioning the fact that the Earth's climate changes, sometimes quite dramatically and even disastrously over time.  That's pretty much a given.

Genuine scientific inquiry seeks out the anomalies and welcomes challenging questions.  That's a vital part of the process. 

When so-called scientists start talking about silencing dissenting voices, who are the new inquisitors and who is Galileo?  And who is profiting from this deception?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Actor Arrested in the Death of His Wife

From the UK Daily Mail, the death of April Jace, wife of actor Michael Jace, is being investigated as a homicide or accidental death.  I don't know who Michael Jace is.  I've never seen "The Shield" or "Burn Notice", shows the report says featured Jace.  The couple had been married for a little over ten years, and they had two children, with a third older child from a previous marriage.  I feel badly for all involved, especially the children.

Naturally, some of the comments about the story rush to blame the fact of April Jace's death upon the easy availability of firearms in America.  California, where the Jaces live, is one of the more restrictive states when it comes to owning and carrying weapons.

It's not clear yet, so we will give Michael Jace the benefit of the doubt.  If this was a tragic accident, it was completely unnecessary, especially given the fact that Jace appears to have portrayed a police officer in some of his work.  He should have been taught -- at the very least -- basic firearms safety, even with prop weapons. Hollywood could do the country and our youth a great service if they would show proper firearms handling and make it "cool". 

On the other hand, if this turns out to be an intentional shooting, I encourage people to look at the pictures of the couple in the Daily Mail article.  Mr. Jace is a tall man, markedly taller than his late wife, and no doubt heavier and stronger.  I'm sure he trains to maintain good physical condition for his profession.  He didn't need a firearm to kill his wife.  He could have used his bare hands, a knife, or a baseball bat, and it would have been just as deadly.

The problem is not the method, it's the madness. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Missouri Legislators Triple the Waiting Period for Abortions

The St. Louis Pest-Dispatch tells us that Missouri has passed a somewhat controversial bill to force women to wait 72 hours to get an abortion even in cases of rape and incest.  Medical emergencies are exempt from the limitation.

Personally, I would rather have had the voter photo ID requirement that died in exchange for this measure, but I don't think it is a bad piece of legislation.

Governor Jay Nixon is constantly channeling Obama-like rhetorical flourishes while trying not to be too associated with the president as he prepares to challenge Roy Blunt in 2016 for a Senate seat.  I am sure he plans to veto this bill.  He made a statement calling it "extreme".  Because, you know, 48 hours more to think about whether a person wants to terminate an innocent life is really asking a lot.

I doubt Nixon would have the same qualms about a 72-hour waiting period to purchase firearms.  That would be more "common-sense" than "extreme", in his opinion.

I feel some sympathy for women who find themselves in difficult situations.  There are cases where rape and incest result in pregnancy, and I can understand the decision to have an abortion under those conditions, or where it is a medical necessity.  However, the number of those cases is miniscule relative to the number of women who have abortions for the sake of convenience after consensual sex. 

I'm pro-choice.  I think a woman ought to have a right to decide whether or not to get pregnant, and there are a number of ways to avoid pregnancy.  If a woman is too stupid to figure those ways out on her own, I'm sure she can find someone to explain them to her at no charge.

Choose to think. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

All I Gotta Do Is Act Naturally

From BusinessInsider, you can see a GIF of what a new, full-blown Ice Age might look like in North America

Note that you may -- if you're using Pale Moon or a similar browser, as I am, have a little trouble getting the link to work, but it's there.

The reason I post this is not so much because of the GIF and all, but one statement the author makes:

We've been in a relatively stable and warm period for at least 15,000 years. And we are unnaturally making the Earth even warmer. Before that, ice ages covered most of the Northern Hemisphere with glaciers.

The link is from the original.  I don't care about any of that.

What do these people mean by "unnaturally"?  What are we humans?  Are we not "natural"?  We are told all the time that we are just less hairy (some of us) apes.  We are acting like every other species on the planet when we act in our own best interests.  If you turn rabbits loose where they have no "natural" enemies, you end up with too many rabbits.  That is a perfectly "natural" thing to expect.

This is our world. "Naturally", we have adapted it to suit rather than merely adapting to it.  This is a function of our consciousness and thinking ability, which, materialists assure us, are "natural" products of evolution and "natural" selection.  

Even if I was stupid enough to believe in Anthropogenic Climate Change, why would I think it was unnatural?  Is there anything that we have that didn't come from something that existed here on the planet?  What is it?  What has man created ex nihilo?  What is unnatural about a human using fire to keep warm?  What is unnatural about taking metal from the earth and using fire to refine it into a vehicle that can run on something pulled from the ground and refined?  Is this less natural than a beaver dam, a bird's nest, an ant hill, or a coyote's den?

Nominee for the 2014 Darwin Award

Blake Randall Wardell, 25, donned a Kevlar vest and asked a friend to shoot him with a handgun.  Eighteen-year-old Taylor Ann Kelly fired the small-caliber handgun toward the vest but missed the Kevlar part.  The bullet went above the vest and struck Wardell in the heart, killing him.

This is truly sad, and I am not at all making light of the loss of a young life, not to mention the devastation caused in Ms. Kelly's mind by the guilt she must feel over such an incident.  The families and those involved need our prayers.

That said, one wonders if alcohol or some other intoxicant played a role because it is unbelievably stupid.  Never, ever point a firearm at anything you don't wish to kill or destroy.  Kevlar vest or no, you are still pointing a deadly weapon at a fellow human being.  Wardell foolishly encouraged his friend to violate the most basic of safety rules, and Kelly foolishly complied. 


All guns are always loaded.

Mechanical safeties aren't safe, and they cannot be trusted with a life.

Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot.

Never cover anything with the muzzle of a weapon that you do not wish to see killed or destroyed.  That includes stuff on the other side of a wall, door, floor, or ceiling.  Or a bulletproof vest.

Be sure of your target before engaging.  Check again.  You're probably wrong.  Check it again.

Realize that a bullet will not necessarily stop in your target even if you hit it.  Know your backstop.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Prediction We Can Track

People, including me, are apt to make statements that sound "predictive" but are filled with clauses, caveats, and conditions.  In looking at today's Producer Price Index (PPI), food, which is not part of the core inflation measure, is up significantly.  Denninger offers his thoughts on this:

The intermdiate trend in foods is bad news; that is a monthly change.  Energy has been the counterbalance the last two months on an intermediate term, and has kept things in check, and "less foods and energy" has been reasonably-behaved -- right up until this year.  Now it's looking less-so.  But the alarm bells are not there, they're in the forward trend on the crude side.

Here's the problem -- we're several percent ahead of last year's rate at this time of the year.  Spring into early summer tends to have a PPI increase in crude goods.  But if that spread continues we're going to have a major problem coming into the fall as this works through the system, and given unit labor costs and productivity numbers (both going the wrong way too) there is no ability to absorb it.

Keep in mind that Denninger, unlike me, has never advocated the idea of runaway inflation or hyperinflation.  He has held that the Fed monetary policy would eventually reach a point where QE and ZIRP stop because they are doing no good.  As far as it goes, that's already happened.  We are in Japanese-style stagnation, more or less, right now.  When actual inflation in essentials -- you know, like food -- kicks in, our stagnant economy cannot deal with it. 

This leads KD to make a prediction with no qualifiers:

But before you ring the "heh Denninger has turned into an inflationist!" bell let me put one final dollop of cold water on your insanity -- no, I have not.  There is no ability in the economy to absorb such price increases as productivity and unit labor cost figures have shown.  Instead, what this will produce is recession -- deep recession.

That "flat" GDP print is going to be revised to negative, and we're now odds-on to print negative for second quarter too.

That's the formal definition folks.

I think he reasonable in drawing this conclusion.  If food prices start putting pressure on a family's budget, they are going to -- generally -- cut back on other consumer purchases, including services.  Restaurant prices are heading up, so people might eat out less.  They might skip buying new clothes or new electronics or a new car.  In a consumer-driven economy, when people stop buying, it means recession.

Is Denninger right or wrong?  Bookmark his post and look at it around September.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Nigerian Christians and Boko Haram

The actual breakdown of religious groups in Nigeria is debatable.  Some people believe that there are now more Christians than Muslims in Nigeria.  If that is not the case, Christians make up at least 40% of the population, and Nigeria's current president is a Christian. 

Daniel Greenfield writing on FPM talks about the alliance between Obama and Boko Haram:

There’s a reason why the media and so many leftists have embraced the hashtag. #BringBackOurGirls isn’t a rescue. It denounces the Nigerian government for not having already gotten the job done even as the State Department stands ready to denounce any human rights violations during a rescue attempt.

Obama and Boko Haram want to bring down the Nigerian government and replace it with a leadership that is more amenable to appeasement. It’s the same thing that is happening in Israel and Egypt.
(h/t Commonsense and Wonder)

The left in America doesn't want to acknowledge that Nigerian Muslims and Muslims in general are a problem.  They want to shift the blame onto the legitimate government of Nigeria.  The Muslims are economically oppressed.  I wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that they are violently opposed to any kind of western education? 

There has been a lot of mockery of the Wookie's hashtag sign because it seemed to be a symptom of the impotence of American foreign policy.  It's really a sign of the subversive nature of American foreign policy. 

Now it makes me wonder, again, what was really behind the Benghazi attacks.

Also see Brendan's related posts here and here.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Lessons in Prudence from Watership Down

Watership Down is, as everyone knows, a classic novel by Richard Adams from the 1970s about rabbits.  It is a fantasy much like another great British work, Wind in the Willows.  I give copies to the grandkids to read when they reach the point of being able to grasp most of it -- I think 12 or 13, usually is good -- depending on the individual.  I recently gave a copy to Number 2 granddaughter.  When I bought it, the cashier at B&N, a young lady in her 20s, remarked that it was still her "favorite book ever".  Adams developed the novel from stories he told his daughters as they were driving, and he based it somewhat on his experience as a British soldier in World War II, especially the Battle of Arnhem in the Netherlands, in which he was a participant.  

The rabbits are presented as inhabiting our world with some realism.  The animals are anthropomorphized to the extent that they possess human-like consciousness along with human reasoning and problem-solving abilities.  They have religion and myths, and they tell stories.  They are small, fast, furry humans without thumbs.  Suspension of belief is quite easy, though, as the book is an immersive, engaging read.

A person can pick up a few concepts for prudent living from Adams' rabbits.  I'll briefly list a few to give you an idea of what I mean.

1) There is a higher power.  Right from the first, one of the heroes of the story, a small rabbit called Fiver, is shown to be a visionary.  His warning about an impending disaster puts the story in motion, and his prophetic insights continue to aid the band throughout their adventures. What human would call Providence is present throughout.

2) Sometimes you have to do things you've not done.  Adams weaves numerous bits of lapine natural history into his tale.  Buck rabbits normally do not do any extensive digging.  Warrens and dens are dug out by does.  Yet there is nothing to keep the bucks from digging effectively and efficiently.  The rabbits that fled under Fiver's warning were all bucks and did decide that they would do something different and dig their own holes.

3) Network with those who might share some common needs and do not present serious threats.  The rabbits made alliances with both a mouse and an injured seagull.  While seagulls might eat a rabbit kitten, they are not a significant enemy of adult rabbits.  Both alliances paid dividends toward the warren’s successful establishment and continuance. 

4) Sort of a corollary to the previous point, community networks easily expand a group’s skill sets.  Since the rabbits lacked tools and technology, the only way to expand their natural abilities was through connections and friendships with other creatures.

5) An alliance must be mutually beneficial, but it doesn’t necessarily have to have the parties on good terms.  An enemy that thwarts one’s enemies doesn’t automatically become one’s friend.  The Watership Down warren benefited from opportune interventions by a fox, a dog, and a thunderstorm.  None of these instruments were friendly to the Watership Down rabbits, but they were opportunities. 

6) Security and safety come with a price – often one too high to be endured.  Our heroes see two instances of this at work.  In the first case, the cost is the sacrifice of the innocent.  In another, the price is excessive discipline and regimentation.  Life and death and struggle are realities.  We are not guaranteed an easy, ideal, stress-free life.  We would all be better off if we could accept loss and failure as part of the tapestry of living.   

7) Speaking of regimentation, if a bit of something is good, a lot of it is not always better.  Wisdom calls us to be disciplined, but the goal of legitimate external discipline such as by parents or military organizations is to develop internalized calmness, self-control and good judgment.  Control by authorities that goes overboard tends to be control simply for the sake of control. 

8) Do not plan to improvise, but do always look for new ways to make use of that which you have at hand. 

9) Related to 8 above, you don’t have to understand all there is to know about something or be able to see exactly how it will end in order to use something to your advantage.  There is a certain amount of risk in any venture.  Remember Donald Rumsfeld talking about the “known unknowns” and all that?  Right from the start there are going to be things that we know we do not know.  We’re going to find out as the dominoes start to fall, but if you insist on knowing beforehand, you may never start.

10) I could probably go on, but ten seems like a good place to wrap it up for now:  It is always important to know your purpose and keep your ultimate goal in mind.  We’ll go directly back to the rabbits here for the example.  Recall that only bucks escaped to establish the new warren on Watership Down.  These were not gay rabbits.  They were living an idyllic existence for some time, but they quickly realized that if the warren was to thrive, they needed does.  A rabbit’s purpose is not to merely survive, but to reproduce and to create an environment where the offspring can prosper.  This overarching goal then drives the rest of the novel’s plot, which is part of what makes the whole believable and entertaining. 

Those of us who believe in the importance of being prepared and able to deal effectively with future events can’t be satisfied with mere survival.  We have to understand that there is a greater goal, the continuance of our families, the preservation of our beliefs and principles, and maintaining liberty.  If we lose sight of why we are doing what we are doing, our efforts will most likely prove futile if not outright detrimental in the end.  

Some of the myths of the rabbits concerning their "folk hero", El-ahrairah, "Prince-With-A-Thousand-Enemies", preserve their lapine wisdom and embody the virtues of rabbits.  It reminds us of the power of myth and folk wisdom and how much we can convey through stories and oral histories.  

Friday, May 9, 2014

Never Bring A Chevrolet Cutlass to a Gunfight

A couple of the boys from the big city of Springfield decided they would burglarize the home of some hick out in the sticks of Texas County.  It backfired on them: 

The mishap occurred about five miles north of Mountain View. Texas County Sheriff James Sigman said the incident began when three men broke into a disabled man’s home, and the man responded by firing a gun at them. The crash occurred as the suspects drove away from the scene at high speed, Sigman said.
The Chevrolet Cutlass? 

The Missouri State Highway Patrol said a 1992 Chevrolet Cutlass driven southbound by Rusty A. Drake, 52, of Springfield, ran off Highway Y, overcorrected and overturned.
Are they sure it wasn't an Oldsmobile Lumina?  Any chance it could it have been a Dodge Taurus?  I would cut the Troopers or the reporter some slack since the car was overturned, and it may have been dark, but they knew the model year.  I guarantee one thing, over in Texas County, they won't call a revolver a "Glock". 

By the way, an odd fact is that Texas County is the largest county by area in Missouri, and the county seat is Houston.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Treehouse Post on Beckel and Donilon

Bob Beckel was on Fox News talking about how the Republicans are using the deaths of Stevens, Smith, Woods, and Doherty for political gain. 

I wonder if Beckel said the same thing when Obama was dancing in the blood of the little children murdered in Sandy Hook Elementary?

I would recommend going over to CT and watching the video then reading the excerpted transcript and comments.

What they are talking about is a picture of Tom Donilon, the National Security Advisor and good friend of Bob Beckel, that showed him in the Oval Office on 9/11/2012 with Obama at 7:28pm.  Beckel says that the National Security Advisor was never in the White House Situation Room.  In fact, Beckel seems to be saying Donilon was not even at the White House: 

Beckel …”first of all, let me just say, Tom Donilon is an old friend of mine and I have talked to him about this. He said he was not involved in that, he was not even in that day, so uhh..
MacCallum …”He wasn’t in that night either”?
Beckel … “I don’t believe he was there“.
MacCallum …”He’s the national security advisor” ?
Beckel … “yeah, but..”
MacCallum … “He was not in the loop”?
Beckel … “they’re not on 24 hours a day”..

That's funny.  I'm on 24/7, and my job is not nearly as vital as the NSA.  If I screw up nobody dies -- generally.  But that's beside the point. 

This American Spectator piece by Jeffrey Lord from a couple of days ago makes one wonder if Beckel is not throwing out smoke grenades to give his old buddy some cover.

By the way, I give the Obama regime credit for their tech-savvy efforts in the Stalinization of history by judicious editing of accounts on sites like Snopes and Wikipedia.  Now Stevens was "rescued" rather than dragged through the streets like a trophy and sodomized. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Why Not Shoot the Deer?

It's been a long winter up in MeeneeSOda.  This isn't funny -- a man allegedly murdered one of his neighbors because the man was feeding deer in his yard.  It sounds like the shooter is one of those guys who has trouble with his neighbors over one thing or another, worrying about deer having lice and attracting wolves.

A case or two of deer repellent is way cheaper than a lawyer.    

He probably also worried about how people trim their hedges, don't paint their fences, and declining property values.  I understand the anxiety created when a neighborhood begins to decline, but they still have moving vans.  Prison is a bad neighborhood.    

It's like the people who kill somebody and then "turn the gun on themselves".  Why not just shoot yourself in the first place?  If I knew I was going to end up killing myself anyway, why drag somebody else down with me?  If I'm dead, they aren't a problem anymore.

Obviously, I do not understand people.  I especially do not understand the need to control or try to control the behavior of others.  People are much easier to deal with when they are happy.  Some things I know will, in the long run, make people unhappy.  I do try to warn them against these things when it is any of my business.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as Jefferson said, are unalienable rights.  They aren't the only ones, but they are a mighty good start, and rights that ought to be not only respected but celebrated and encouraged.  Private property is, in my opinion, a corollary of liberty and pursuing happiness.  What a person does with their property, as long as it stops at the property line, is up to them.  

Monday, May 5, 2014

Piketty and Deficits

Over at Ludwig's place, Hunter Lewis takes apart some of Piketty's charts.  It would be good to read the entire piece as time permits.

Just looking at this chart

the thing I would say is that income inequality increases in eras of extreme deficit spending by the federal government. 

Lewis says it this way:

What we actually see is two peaks for high earners, right before the crash of 1929 and again before the crash of 2008. These are the two great bubble eras in which government printed too much new money, which led to a false and unsustainable prosperity. These were also crony capitalist eras, as rich people with government connections used the new money to become even richer or benefited from other government favors.
We have not operated in a free market system for a long time.  As we say here every so often, the proper term for our current economic system of government-corporate collusion is "fascism".  If you have ever wondered why people like Buffet and Soros are so enthusiastic and supportive of their particular form of "socialism", this might help explain it.  

Friday, May 2, 2014

What Does Sola Scriptura Have To Do With It?

E. Ray Moore is a home-school/Christian school advocate running for state attorney general in South Carolina.  Here is a link to a piece about Moore by Dr. Joel McDurmon on American Vision.  The gist of it are excerpts from a foreword Moore wrote to a book by some other evangelicals about how the "Christian Right" was used by the political machine.

In the foreword, Moore's says we should return to Sola Scriptura in the realm of public policy and politics as well as doctrine.  He calls for repentance and intercessory prayer. 

As a Christian, I am a Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide kind of guy.  If I were not, I would go down and join the Roman Catholic church.  However, my RC friends generally have the same worldview that I have.  We all think immorality and abortion are bad.  If I had children in school these days, I would home-school or send them to a Christian school, and I would not be too particular if it were Catholic or Protestant. 

Sola Scriptura is a foundation doctrine of the Reformation.  It is part of who we are as Protestants, but I have a hard time seeing how it "fixes" the problems in America.  What we need is a return to limited, constitutional government with a reduction in federal bureaucracy and a restoration of state, local, and individual sovereignty. 

So what if the 20% of the electorate is fundamentalist evangelical Protestant?  What do you think that is going to get you?  John Ashcroft?  I used to sit in church with John Ashcroft.  As I may have said before, his father, Dr. J. Robert Ashcroft had a tremendous and profoundly positive impact on my life, how I have lived and what I have done.  John Ashcroft was a decent governor, Senator, and U.S. Attorney General.  Was he light-years better than Eric Holder?  The DA who always lost to Perry Mason is better than Holder.  Did he make any real difference other than providing drapes for nekkid statues?  Not really. 

Certainly as individual Christians, as congregations and denominations, we are to be guided by our foundational doctrines and principles.  We do need to repent of indifference, apathy, and cowardice and be more like Dr. Dobson. 

But we also need to get government out of the lives and businesses of everybody.  I want to be free to speak the truth to my heathen neighbor.  I don't want a federal regulation that forces him to attend my church.