Wednesday, December 4, 2013
I'm not talking about fracturing one party- I'm talking about fracturing BOTH. Look, I know a lot of Democrats- I married one, raised by two more, the vast majority of my family are democrats, many of my friends are Democrats- if there's one thing that needs said, its that they are as fractured a party as it is possible to be. The problem isn't with them, any more than Mitt Romney is the absolute favorite choice of all Republicans, everywhere. Much like the Brady campaign did by putting Helmke in charge, we need to find the right standard bearer from the opposition party- and soon. Its obvious that this psuedo-alliance with the Republican party is not working for Libertarians. So I say we go try to make some friends in the Democratic party. They ARE there, they are just not single issue voters. And I damn near guarantee that they all think they are the only Democrats that feel that way. We should OWN the ACLU. But we've been locked in this special relationship with the Republicans so long that we can't get out of it. That would be the Republican Party that brought us the DHS and TSA. The Republican party that wouldnt or couldnt stop the Hughes Amendment. The one that threw us into an oil war we didn't get any goddamn oil from. The one that put Mitt Romney on the ticket instead of going with Gary Johnson in the first place, who I may remind you was also a successful governor of a traditionally Democrat state, with reams of business experience. Mitt was an annointed candidate, chosen by the Republican leadership and the liberal media. With a choice like that they didn't WANT our vote, they didn't think they NEEDED our vote, and they have not acted like they give a damn about our values at all. So aside from this one issue, I don't think we are any worse off on our own than we are with them. So let's break up, and see other people for a while. I hear the Blue Dog Democrats are looking for a date.
Oh, and to the GOP? It's not me, it's YOU.
Friday, October 11, 2013
I really should read the ACA legislation, because it seems that an awful lot of people are still accusing others of not having done so. Its three thousand pages long, which seems like a lot until I look at the Robert Jordan books that line my library shelves- 16 books totalling (by my estimate) about 10,000 pages of voluntary reading. I'm pretty certain I could get through it, given enough determination. Anyone else done this yet?
Lacking that, I have to rely on what politicians are saying about it, which is not a good way to get at the truth. However, using my best judgement, logic, and powers of observation, I have filtered a few key points. The ACA does NOT provide free healthcare for the American people, despite the protestations that it does. So all those people who are insisting that it does would seem to be A) mistaken or B) lying. In the spirit of fairness, it is apparent to me that a few people are lying to the populace and a large number of people are, unfortunately, believing them. What the ACA does do, on the other hand, is channel an incredible amount of money into the capacious pockets of a very small group of people who, incidentally, are frequently cast as the villains in this theatre. The ACA isn't busting the stranglehold of greedy and capricious insurance executives- it is REINFORCING IT.
The next observation is that the people in opposition to the ACA seem to be objecting to all the wrong aspects of it, and those in support seem to be using all the wrong reasons to support it. Quite honestly, the Republican Party should be lauding its efforts to encourage people to work with the private insurance industry, while the Democratic Party should be furious that it forces (and I mean that, the act REQUIRES, under a huge tax penalty) one to give money to billionaires. Welcome to topsy turvy world.
Now an observation in the hyperbole. First, its not the President's personal playground. Yes, he supported it, but the man wasn't a legislator when it was passed, so BY DEFINITION its not his legislation. Calling it Obamacare gives him far too much credit while simultaneously cheapening efforts to alter or end it, by short-circuiting any logic and turning the entire argument into an ad hominem attack. Its called the Affordable Care Act- it really doesn't matter if it does what its name says, for the sake of accuracy, use its real name. Second, its not going to be the single most devastating thing thats ever happened, and to say so makes one sound shrill and alarmist. If a person makes a dozen good, solid arguments and then ends with, "This will cause the dead to rise from the grave hungering for brains at midnight tonight!" And that last part never happens, they just shot ALL their arguments in the foot. Now, on the other side, everyone out there that gets all dreamy eyed over the ACA- I really do think you are being lied to, and when you parrot back those lies with your breathy voice, it makes us pragmatists feel like we're living in Brave New World. Its creepy, and does not help your cause. This is not the vast humanitarian effort you seem to think it is.
Now, I may just a wild-eyed optimist, but I still thnk there is room for truth and logic in debate, and compromise, but that faith is fading day by day. So, if we could all step up and get a few facts in order, we could still hammer out a useful result from this furnace of disaster. It may be we are out of time for that, but I really hope not.
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
By reports, the Fed.gov shut down this morning at the stroke of twelve (no word yet on who is finding the glass slipper) and some confusion exists as to the what and why. My observation? Group 1 decided not to compromise on their belief and dedication to Cause A, despite repeated threats from Group X. As both groups would only accept a full accounting of their demands, no agreement could be reached. Please, fill in the placeholders in your own time; we don't want spoilers in the comments. In fact, although I have never been interested in filtering conversation, I intend to MadLib any comments made referencing real people or parties, for my own entertainment.
As to the results- I fully expect that this shutdown will remarkably resemble the sequester cuts of earlier this year (partially because we are, in fact, in the throes of the very same debate) in that there will be basically no changes made in the operation of the federal government with the sole exception of making any contact with the gneral population as painful as possible. This will be seized upon by both guilty parties. The intent, of course, will be to encourage the population to contact their elected officials and respectfully request that they swallow their oath and make us comfy again. Since this is being done by both parties, I predict little gain in that regard. What I DO expect s a lot of confused, angry people arriving at the gates of National Parks and Monuments. Some of them will probably subsequently sneak in anyway.
In conclusion, Congress has once again placed a splinter squarely in our eye, fully expecting that we will thank them not only for removing it later, but thank them for putting it there in the first place.
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
I've been making my own chicken stock for several years now, and I recently panicked to find that I had in stock only one lonely quart jar thereof. As can be imagined, this is unacceptable to me, and I set about remedying that situation.
I don't really consider stock a survival ration, so the lack is not truly an emergency, but I think it very neatly illustrates the difference between gettin' by and living well. I use homemade chicken stock in a great variety of ways, from the standard soups and sauces to rice dishes and crockpot meals, and the homemade stuff is cleaner, cheaper, and much tastier than most of the store bought stuff you can find. This plays into my preps in a big way.
Some of the things we do as preps are matters of life and death- a reliable way to heat your home during a Minnesota or Montana winter blackout is the difference between living and freezing to death in your own home. A backup generator to give you lights during a summer storm blackout in the same place generally save your life, but it makes it easier and more comfortable, and level of comfort is a big part of feeling good about your situation. In that vein, having homemade stock on hand is the difference between basic survival and eating well. Imagine for a moment, a long term blackout in the early summer, in a temperate zone. With no refrigeration, food isn't coming to the grocery, nor is electronic commerce operating. After, say, a week, most people are completely out of food, until the Red Cross starts bringing in canned goods or MREs. During that week, one family digs into their emergency supplies of rice and beans- only requiring water to prepare, they light their emergency backpacking stove and boil up some rice. No spices, no meat, no flavor really, but you now what? They're eating, and that's more than other people are doing. They are surviving. Now on to my family- during that same week, I've been digging into my cans and jars. Instead of plain rice, I have savory rice, cooked with stock and canned veggies. The next day, we have a green salad (dandelion grows everywhere, a little bitter but quite nutritious) with homemade vinegarette (I can make vinegar, too, from cider, or beer, or old wine, even sugar water) and sourdough croutons. Even if it lasts long enough that I'm shooting pigeons for protein, we can stew them up with some rice and make gravy. Which of these families would you rather dine with? THATS the difference between survival and living well.
I'll finish off with a recipe (of sorts)-
One chicken carcass. I like to roast a chicken then make stock the next day. Save the giblets, the bones, the neck, etc. Broil this the next day to crisp everything up and get the fat out (Fat, the friend of roasting and sausage, is the enemy of stock). Save all the juices from the roast, and add this to the stock pot.
Veggies- i mix and match sometimes, depending on what I have, but a few things should always go in- onions (3 or so) celery (half a bunch, leaves and all) carrots, whole black pepper, and salt. Additionally, I like to add cilantro, garlic, basil, and sometimes some fresh rosemary. The best part is that you can just put in what you have. I suppose bell peppers would be good, some folks add a parmesan rind, there's lots of options. One note here- any leafy greens will occlude your stock. I like the flavors they add, but don't expect a crystal clear liquid if you add these. Just chop everything into quarters and dump it in. Things like onions don't even need peeled, since its all coming back out later.
About the fat- its very important to get all the fat out of your stock. I refrigerate the carcass overnight and peel off the layer or solidified fat before putting the juices in the stockpot. Similarly, once you have broiled and crisped the carcass, most of the fat will be rendered out. Don't put this in the pot.
Once you have everything in stock pot, add about two gallons plus a quart of water and bring it all to a low simmer. If you boil it, whatever fat is left will emulsify and cloud your stock. Cover, and simmer for about 4 hrs, till the chicken carcass falls apart easily. Strain it through a cheesecloth into large containers (I use half gallon mason jars), discarding the solids. Cool these overnight in a refrigerator. The next day, filter again through cheesecloth or paper towels- this should remove the rest of the now congealed fat, leaving a clear amber liquid.
If you do get stock you can't clarify with filtering, you can raft an egg white in it, which will pull in a lot of the emulsified fat. Crack an egg and remove the yolk. Crush up the shell and add it to the white, then whip it up with a little cold water. Bring your stock to a high simmer and gently float the egg white mixture into it. Simmer 5 minutes or so, then cool and strain the egg out. It should be noticeably clearer.
There are two ways forward from here- canning and freezing. Freezing is simple; ladle your cooled, filtered stock into bags or containers and freeze them. You'll have to thaw them before use, but if you have lots of freezer space and no pressure canner, its an option.
To can your chicken stock, first establish how many jars you will need to procede. Wash, rinse, prep, etc as required. (If you are just getting inti canning, I recommend downloading the USDA Home canning guide, available for download here). Next, decant the filtered stock back into your stock pot, and heat it to just under boiling (this will be easier on the jars and save time on the canning cycle). Fill the jars to a 1/2" headspace, them process them in a pressure canner (NOT A BOILING BATH CANNER! ONLY A TRUE PRESSURE CANNER WILL SAFELY PROCESS MEAT PRODUCTS!) for the recommended time. In my case, it was 11 lbs of pressure for 25 minutes (pint jars).
Voila! Shelf stable for up to a year! I do this about 4 times per year, meaning my family of two uses about 8 gallons of stock per year. If I were buying high quality stock at the store, my canner (no inexpensive) was paid for the first year, plus you have absolute control of the flavor, quality, and ingredients! Now go out and build up your stock portfolio!
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Monday, and once Tuesday, I had no less than four major remarkable conversations about Open Carry.
One, a stocker at the grocery store, was interested in whether or not I ever get hassled about it, as he was considering a little bit himself. I shared with him a few of my positive experiences, talked a little about the local laws, and he went on his way with a thoughtful look and, I think, an increased determination. A couple things stick out from this conversation- first off, this is our regular grocery store, and I am (I think) becoming something of a fixture there. On my own, I'm not an exceedingly memorable person, but the combination of small child in a carrier and Open Carry (as well as a ready smile and luxurious beard) probably starts to stand out in the minds of the employees. I've seen this kid there before, and I know this is not the first time he's noted the gun on my hip. It is, however, the first time he's asked about it. I got the impression he's been mulling this decision for a while, and has gradually been deciding to act on it. Diplomacy for the Win! Second, he and others have mentioned an aspect of the law that I have not encountered myself, and it makes me wonder where the belief comes from. Specifically, he was under the impression that having a Concealed Carry license removed OC from the table. I have done my diligence in familiarizing myself with Oregon's various laws (I can't quote chapter and verse, but I make sure to remain in compliance) and have not found this to be the law anywhere in Oregon. Possibly this rule exists in other places or states, but I have not come across it anywhere.
The second conversation came a scant few minutes later, near the deli, where two women were waiting for their cold cuts. While different in exact wording from other conversations I've had, the effect was the same. They noticed the combination of small child and large gun and found it to be most droll, as well as entirely appropriate. With a smile, I replied that one does what one must to keep his family safe, and they agreed. They both seemed very receptive to the idea that the gun was a tool for safety, which underscores the idea that the world is not necessarily a safe place, and we all must do what we can to mitigate that. This mirrors a number of other conversations I've had, notably a handful of very similar conversations with Mothers, children in tow, at that very same store. Quite a contrast to the Moms Demand Action crowd, who do not seem to coincide with very many real people I have met.
The next two encounters were in my own home, and both were strikingly similar (in fact both were with employees of our new pest control service). I don't care much for people knocking on my door to sell me things, but I understand that business always needs new customers- in fact, I spent some time in that same manner back when I was in roofing. When the clean cut young man started his pitch on pest control, My Lovely Wife answered, and we eventually decided to allow them to treat our home. OpSec priciples were followed of course, and proper documentation was obtained before allowing the pitch to proceed. Upon noticing my sidearm, he expressed quite an approval, and mentioned that he and his wife had been considering the purchase of their first firearm. In point of fact, it was my understanding that the matter was broached by his wife, who grew up in a shooting family. The very next day, the tech arrived at our home to do the initial treatment. He also noticed the gun on my hip, expressed his approval, and engaged in some conversation regarding shooting and carrying. At that point he admitted that his wife is a much better shot than he, and had been discussing with him the purchase of an arm for home defense! Strange, I have seen so many people purporting not only that gun ownership is in decline, but that women were against such a thing! Its almost like the Bloomberg and Brady people are... Wrong, or something.
In all, I consider this to have been a very good week to be an Open Carrier. Not only do I feel I am continuing in good form to be an ambassador for our culture, but I have managed to strike up conversation with several people interested in joining our inclusive little group, and one who seems quite on the verge of regular carry himself. A net win, I'd say, and a far cry from the dying culture that others wish us to be.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
One of the things that I think is critical at this junction is the fact that we are selecting (in an unintended fashion) for strength of violence. With each successive iteration, with each round of gun control, we remove the ability to resist from a few more, leaving the truly heinous behind. We disarm the people who are willing to obey the law, while those willing to flout it continue to go about their business. The people who would do the most good are being denied arms, while the people who do the most harm are left intact. In its turn, we are intentionally selecting for ease of governance while unintentionally selecting for heinous violence.
Look at this another way- start with an armed populace. Some will be good at heart but weak, some good but strong, others vile but weak or vile but strong. (I'm drastically simplifying the shadings). Ask for the guns, telling them its for the greater good. The good/weak, not trusting themselves for their own defense, will hand them in. The good but strong will resist. The vile but weak don't care for the greater good, and will ignore. The vile but strong will see easier targets in the unarmed. Now threaten them all a little bit, if they don't give the guns back. The vile but weak will give up- they can't hack it. But the vile/strong (who were commiting the most heinous acts anyway) aren't going to give it up that easy. Ok, so now try to take them by force. The good/strong will have moral objections to killing you when you try to take them- the vile/strong will have none. You will successfully disarm the good/strong, but fail to disarm the vile/strong.
It is important to look at some examples- the Aryan Brotherhood, the Cartels of South America, and violent street gangs of US cities.
The AB is a group that is defined by race- only one color allowed. In our cultural quest for equality (no time here to comment on THAT), we have suppressed any group that values the white (grrr, I hate this terminology) race. We have removed or destroyed all but the most insidious group- a group that represents all of the latent violence, distilled through social engineering to remove any voices that would caution or restrain them. Basically, the only ones left are the hardest or most adherent, as social pressure has removed any and all moderates from their ranks.
Next example, the drug Cartels. When various recreational drugs were illegalized in the US, a black market naturally sprung up. At first, there were many groups that were involved in it, but an increasingly intense Law Enforcement effort has removed most of those it can handle. Unfortunately, we have not reduced the demand for these drugs, thereby guaranteeing that the groups who are left have several things in common. First, they are much richer than they were before- enforcement having removed all their rivals, each remaining Cartel occupies a much larger portion of the market share. Second, they are the most ruthless and the most difficult to catch, otherwise they would have been caught already. Third, they are the most successful- those successes are what built both their reputation and their ability to remain elusive. Relying on the Law Enforcement's methods has, indeed, reduced the number of drug supply groups in the United States, but the unintended consequence is that the remaining groups are stronger, more influential, much much richer, and immeasurably more vicious than the ones that came before them. They were selected for those very traits.
Finally, the street gangs. Granted, there is some overlap between youth street gangs and both racist subgroups and drug running, but I think it is important to focus on the community aspect of these groups in particular- mostly because THEY HAVE ONE. One aspect of the street gang phenomenon is that of belonging. Your gang is your home, your family, and your protection. In many ways, it echoes the tribalism of the US prior to settlement by Europeans. Each tribe generally looks out for its own, guards its members against attacks by other groups, and the majority of the violence occurs over either a scarcity of resources or on the borders between two expanding groups. Many kids join these gangs not for the prestige, or the money, but for a sense of belonging. And, not incidentally, for the protection afforded a member. One difference of note is that the resources are not food or shelter but money and influence. The margins on the drug supply are the highest profit margins of any product in the world today, so it is unsurprising that these are the markets that these gangs operate in. Systematic suppression by social and law enforcement methods, as described in relation to the other two groups, have selected for the highest level of violence, and the lowest level of moderation.
Life is getting more and more interesting these days. Stay safe out there!
Friday, April 19, 2013
The next question, of course, is the why. I would hope that the remaining suspect at least has time to proclaim his intentions for the day before meeting with his doom. I would imagine he is none too keen in the prospect of capture; should he prefer death, I little doubt that the officers in pursuit shan't unnecessarily object to obliging him. It appears that there may be some ties to the Chechen rebels- if so, I am not aware of their similar operation on this soil prior. Even should the connection be proven, it leaves as many questions as answers. Foremost, the questions In my mind are 'Why now? (What has changed that led them to the act)', 'Why here? (Meaning the marathon in particular, but also why at all here? Their rebellion is with Russia, and we have a decreasing influence in the area)', and 'To what end? (I have not been able to derive a suitable advantage obtained from this act)'.
I may return to this line of inquiry later, but the more pressing question to me is what will be done with the situation on a domestic front. We have recently heard from at least one fringe position that it was hoped to be a rural white male bomber (thus reinforcing their stereotype), which could then be used to advance their cause in no small way. Although I am yet ignorant of the specifics, I have it on credible rumor and recent history that this act was hoped to be linked to the Tea Party (or could at least be unjuriously alleged). Now, the specifics (if they bear out) being what they are, the media will be put in a position to either report on a plot that does not seem to support their narrative or to investigate means to turn it to their advantage. Politicians will be in a similar quandary. No doubt there will those on the Right who will shortly renew their calls to closely regulate religion, and those on the Left will call for close regulation of any substance used in the construction of these devices. Subsequent to the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah bombing, agricultural applications of fertilizer were largely targeted for disruption by a concerned but ill informed public. It was widely asked where this man could obtain such huge quantities o a dangerous substance- at that very moment there was roughly 5 times the volume of both fertilizer and diesel fuel on hand at our farm, and my family operates a very small farm. I will not be surprised to hear a hue and cry for the careful control of even potential substances, nor will I be surprised by increased call for restrictions placed on people of similar background, religious beliefs, or ethnicity of the suspects.
The acts themselves highlight a growing concern that we are bound for difficult times. The facade of strength is worn, weaknesses are being exploited, and we as a nation and a culture are finding it difficult to react to the instability. While the positive feedback loop is rare in Nature, it is exceedingly common in Mankind. There are those poised to capitalize on our current weaknesses (there always are) and I do not doubt that they are encouraging more atrocities even as we speak, whether through direct means or tacit approval. We must be on our guard.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Firstly, I am equally skeptical of the platforms and agendas of the Republican party as I am of the Democratic party. We should find ourselves in no less dire of circumstances if the Right should decide to suspend other civil liberties than the Left. Considering the activities of the Occupy movement of last year, one must certainly be concerned for the continued right to peaceably assemble. Remember, the rule of law does not discriminate by affiliation, and laws written by the Right to curb the assembly of the Left can be used against them in the same breath where the Left holds sway. Should we believe that Rahm Emmanuel would hesitate for an instant to turn loose the National guard on IGOLD if he had the chance? Would Mayor Bloomberg be disinclined to use force authorized by a Republican against conservatives in his city? Witness the swift movements of Janet Napolitano in redefing 'terrorist' to encompass those of our ilk so recently. The Attorney General has certainly shown no qualms in turning the PATRIOT act against the very people who supported it.
Secondly, we have proven a weakness in the highest elected office in the land, the very office that many, in a global front, consider to be the most powerful in the world. We would be fools to believe that others, more nefarious in chosen end, do not see the same weakness that we exploit. We cannot afford to simultaneously show the gap in our armor while championing its strength. In this we have won a march, but we must remain on guard against those who follow behind.
It is my extreme concern that our actions have caused an irreparable blow to the image of our nation in our enemies' estimation. Be wary, therefore, of increased and emboldened attacks on our nation on an international front. Iran and North Korea rattle their sabres while we scramble to fund our military. We have shown, through this latest vote, that the words of the President are not necessarily predictive, and what he has vowed to do can be defeated. Do not be surprised, then, to find that his word to commit the force of government against foreign threats has lessened in its worth; we ourselves have shown that he can be defeated.
Be on guard against evil acts, in the coming time, even more than before. Ours are not the only eyes to see that Caesar is mortal.
Monday, April 15, 2013
It will play out in the news, and be seized upon for political gain for this group or that; that isn't what I am here to discuss.
Right now, I want to draw focus to one particular group of people. When explosions rocked the ground in Boston, they were there; screams of anguish and pain rent the air, and they were there. In the medical tent, they were there, in the street and in the buildings, in the ambulances and in the hospitals. With no warning given, no questions asked, no goal that lasted beyond the next scant moments, they ran to the wounded, the bleeding and damaged. They stanched wounds and held hands, guided the shaken to safety. They ran to the sound, not away. A doctor running the marathon who left to go straight to his hospital to receive patients. A paramedic, also a runner, who rushed in to do whatever he could. A medic in the tent, one minute treating exhaustion, the next treating wounded, never expecting to see a triage area blossom there.
Whenever I see these things happening, these are the ones that stand out to me. These are the ones to honor and to emulate. Without thinking, they throw themselves into battle to do what the can, while they can. Some had just run a marathon; surely there were few that expected them to answer the call. They did anyway.
In times of madness, always look for the ones running to help. It won't lessen the hollow act, but at least they give some hope.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Granted, forever is a very long time- considering that, with proper storage and care, even medium term preps can last years. But for the sake of a nebulous definition, long term preps are the ones that take effect after the first year goes by without help arriving.
The thing about long term, of course, is the cost; it's remarkably small, because most of the things I consider long term are skills, not supplies. Skills such as gardening and farming will never wear out, though the tools eventually will. Having a good, solid shed that will last years is a commodity; knowing how to fell trees and build your own is a legacy skill. Medium term is having a good chainsaw and a supply of fuel and oil, but long term is having a two man crosscut saw and a good axe. A rifle has a very long span of usefulness, but knowing how to select a proper branch and craft a bow is a permanent skill, and one that can be taught to generations.
With the industrial revolution came an ever increasing amount of specialization. These days, few outside of our little community of preppers and rugged individualists maintain the skills that were common in this country even one hundred years ago. Even more concerning is the level of skill loss in the last two generations. Skills that our parents and grandparents took for granted, some as mundane as cooking and vehicle maintenance, are lost on our contemporaries, and the next generation is abjectly unaware that these things ever existed. Food comes from the store, electricity comes from the plug, and if something goes wrong you can always hire someone to fix it. Specialization works well for us, in an ever increasingly technical and complicated system. It does, however, come at a cost; skills that were once common become rare, and skills that are supplanted by advancements in technology are lost. I refer to these, quite often, as Legacy Skills.
Of all the various legacy skills I have tried to accumulate, none is so critical as food supply. Gardening, drying, canning, and preserving are skills that will certainly outlast even the longest stock of MREs and canned foods. That is why I've taken to gardening with such fervor since my little family moved here to Oregon. Do I grow enough food to sustain my family on only that which I raise myself? Of course not- it would take a great deal more garden space than I maintain to do that. However, the plants are not the only thing being cultivated. The skill is cultivated, as well; like the garden itself, skill must be maintained, fertilized, and tended, lest it lose ground to weeds and disarray. This is why medium term preps are important- they get you through until you can stand on your own. A good supply of food is the bridge between a supply disruption and the next planting season. Without the knowledge of gardening and farming, you will surely reach the end of your supply someday.
Other than gardening, there are many legacy skills in food preparation. Hunting and fishing skills come to mind here, which can become very important in a long term situation. A couple of notes here- I'm a lousy fisherman. My presence alone seems to cure all fish in the area of any nascent hunger, and thus my attempts at learning to fish have not born out well. This is, of course, good for the fish, but not for the fisherman. At hunting, I have some success; hunting, however, is a skill that requires time, patience, and dedication to apply. Much as with the Bug Out Bag concept (some of you may have read my Bad Things Happen to Good People Bag post) I note a certain tendency of people to believe that they, without any prior experience, will remove themselves to the wild with their 80 lb duffel bag and live by hunting and gathering. I wish them all the luck, of course, but I find it suitably apt to TRY these sorts of things prior to surviving on them alone. Even successful hunters have legacy skills to pursue, however. Once you have killed your prized food source, there may be no butcher to take your haul to, no freezer to place your meat in. Dressing, skinning, butchering, salting, curing and drying are all skills with a certain learning curve, and I experiment with them both for enjoyment and practice.
Food is only one aspect of true long term prep, of course, but it illustrates the concept. Medium term preps are a vital part of surviving a critical situation, but they are still an exhaustable resource. Long term preps and legacy skills can be passed along to children, shared with friends and neighbors, and used to recover a suitable standard of living even in a loss of services that lasts for years. Not only that, but they are often a sustainable solution- with only a little more effort, one can utilize long term preps in a medium term situation and greatly extend the length of one's provisions. Long term preps are the skills and tools to rebuild the very foundations of our way of life- they are the tools we used to build these United States. With a little preparation, they can sustain one in relative comfort and prosperity through trials that will break the very bonds of our culture. They are the form of preps that are not lessened by their use, only honed and increased.
Friday, April 12, 2013
People that get really excited about plug-in electric cars tend to be against (in no special order)- coal, oil drilling, natural gas extraction, nuclear power plants, and hydroelectric dams. The question is, are they underinformed or just stupid?
I'll leave you to ponder that.
Saturday, April 6, 2013
In my thought process, medium term prep is for situations lasting from days to months. Of course, many medium term preps can spill over into both long and short term- especially regarding durable tools. This is the focus of the largest majority of people with 'prepper' tendencies (again, by my observation). Categories of medium term prep include many food items, fuel and equipment, anything involving firearms, and trade and barter goods.
There are many others with many different schools of thought on this subject, and I'm not entirely certain I need to reiterate every point. For one, it would take too long to cover every aspect (indeed, considering how many subjects there are to be covered it could very well be endless); for two there are as many disagreements as agreements on this subject to even attempt an omnibus article. The salient point I have to make is this- anything that requires fuel or upkeep, anything that can be saved or stashed away is medium term prep. MREs may last many years on the shelf, and one may have a full years supply of three squares a day, but without the ability to restock, they will run out. Ammunition is the same story- reloading can greatly increase the time limit of your ammunition, but powder, primers and bullets (cases, too, although on a much longer time scale) are commodities to be used, and the supply will eventually run out. The key, in my mind, to medium term prep is to make them last as long as possible.
There are many doomsday style situations in which we can envision our preps being used, from terrorist caused grid-down to nuclear war, economic collapse to civil war, earthquakes and winter storms. The priority of each prep should be balanced by the severity of need and the likelihood of occurrence. For example- while preps for civil or foreign war on our soil are, indeed, very important, the likelihood of a winter storm that disrupts power is far more likely, and I would balance my preps towards the latter until I felt comfortable with my situation, then deepen my preps to my lower-likelihood situations. A walled compound with a moat and drawbridge, but without a backup generator is a little ridiculous. See to the necessary items first, then see to their security.
One thing that ties medium and short term preps together is access. Medium term preps are, by their nature, mostly stationary. Few people have the wherewithal to carry months worth of food and water with them every day. While it would, ostensibly, be possible, it would mean that pretty much everywhere one ventured would be in a large camper; this would get ridiculously expensive in a short amount of time, using money that would be better spent on supplies. This means that at least a portion of short term prep is geared towards getting back to the place where the medium term supplies are stored, and re-evaluating the situation once that security is regained. Conversely, long term preps tie over into medium term as well. I won't cover my long term preps at this time, but much of it is centered around food supply- decreased access to fresh food is a hallmark of any service disruption. Preparations made for long term, redundant, renewable food supplies can play a key part in making your medium term preps far outlast the length of time you would be able to survive on them alone.
In this manner, medium term preps are a bridge. Things like generators and stored food are put away as a stop-gap, between the immediate emergency and either the restoration of services or the establishment of long term solutions. Medium term security solutions (which deserve their own post) are intended to protect you and your belongings in a period of unrest. They are the difference between ease and hardship, whether the storm to be weathered is of man or of nature. Short term preps are for emergency survival; medium term preps are for surviving after the emergency. As has been seen in the vicious storms in the Northeast over the last couple years, services are not guaranteed within hours of a storm; every hour, every day, that one can fend for themselves, without requiring input from emergency services, frees up those services to help the less prepared, and can help immensely to shorten the overall length of the catastrophe. In the event of a total failure, on the other hand, medium term preps will buy the time needed to fully establish a long-term survival plan. It is vital to have these preps in place- after all, every bandage in your First Aid kit, every fire extinguisher in your home canno carry you through a power outage or a food shortage.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
I look at my preps in stages- Short, Medium, and Long term. These vary greatly in application and type, but a well balanced approach is my goal (while admitting that I am trying to improve some drastic deficiencies in all categories). I define my time ranges a bit differently than some, so I'll sketch them out as I go.
Short- for these purposes, short term prep is my term for for time spans lasting from seconds to hours. Many people consider this the Emergency Preparedness portion of our discussion. These are things like blow-out kits, heat sources, and survival gear. Emergencies don't call ahead- I keep these with me or in my vicinity at all times. Not every emergent situation is a life-threatening emergency, of course- this why most first aid or blow-out kits rapidly run out of Band-Aids but the sterile gauze packs are all faded and old.
The Big City where I live has a Saturday Market downtown, which is mostly an artists market, with food stands and craft brewers, street performers and panhandlers. From a situational awareness standpoint, it's a mess, but its quite a bit of fun, all the same. Our last sojourn to this land of hipsters, ne'erdowells and bums was an outing with My Lovely Wife's parents, and my Father-in-law managed to very slightly injure his hand while using, most unfortunately, a portable toilet. Of all the injuries I've sustained in my life, those while using the bathroom facilities are the most awkward; one is quite embarrassed to tell of it, yet they are of great concern to prevent infection. Perish the thought of what nasty little germs are living in the porta-Johns of the Saturday market. Despite his mild protestations (it really was fairly minor, though bleeding freely at the time) we adjourned to the nearest flat surface, and his cut was shortly disinfected and a small bandage applied. Time involved: less than 45 seconds. Life threatening probably not (although we will never know what infection may have occurred without cleaning). Having a blow-out kit in my pack meant more time to enjoy the day and quickly erased a minor inconvenience.
The next example involves my own parents, and happened this past weekend. Four years ago, approximately, my mother very badly broke her ankle, which resulted in some surgery and a lot of therapy. Since that time, she has had trouble with blood pooling in her foot and ankle; circulation problems, coupled with scar tissue and half a junk drawer worth of hardware in her ankle, has forced some veins to run very shallow in her lower calf. This past weekend, she sustained a cut that, for some reason, bled in a most disturbingly profuse manner. Within a matter of moments, my home kit was produced, pressure dressing was applied, and the situation was soon remedied. Scary? Yes. But soon fixed, and no harm done.
While both these examples deal with minor medical issues, the same level of instant readiness applies to other situations. A minor fire, left unchecked in the absence of a fire extinguisher, can be the difference between the loss of a meal and a few minutes of clean-up or the loss of your home, most of your worldly possessions, and very possibly your life or your loved ones. In cold winters, it takes remarkably little time to die of exposure. The presence of a warm coat and good boots in your car, and a small shovel to dig out with, can be life, with a few minutes lost to extraction or death, either waiting for help that doesn't arrive in time or foolishly trying to walk out, in gear not fit for the situation.
Short term prep means being ready for life to arrive at a moment's notice. Short term prep is having the skill and supplies to turn a life-threatening situation into a momentary inconvenience. It turns an emergency into a nuisance, and a nuisance into nearly nothing. After all, all the year's rice will not avail you if you freeze in your car, bleed to death on a hike, or fail to extinguish an out of control candle.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Lets begin with some couched projection: I can only speak for myself regarding intangibles such as intent and mindset. That being said, my views on the matter are remarkably similar to those views expressed by others to some degree or another, so I am assuming (based on experience and expressed beliefs of others) that there are others in the community who think and believe along the same lines. I am well aware that there are others in the community that will believe differently, and there is, in fact, a likelihood that there are people in the gun community (and elsewhere) that DO, in fact, long for the opportunity to intervene, or DO wish to be party to an incident. The distribution of these views one will have to establish for themselves.
On to the meat of the matter- I habitually carry on my person a loaded handgun, for the express purpose of defending myself, my family, or others (should I be in a position to do so) from persons with hostile intent. This is done independently of any risk assessment of my activities; if I have reason to believe I am likely to NEED my gun in a certain situation, I should definitely examine my choices leading up to the matter. Put simply, if I think I'm going to need it where I'm going, I shouldn't be going there (I've paraphrased here a sentiment that I have encountered variously around the web- if you were the first one to say it, thanks, it's a great line...). The notion that I wear my firearm in order to seek out confrontation is without merit, as I have no intention of putting myself, or most especially my family, in such a situation. Further, the notion that I secretly wish for an opportunity to arise that justifies its use is also without merit; that would mean I am wishing harm on others to justify my beliefs, and that is simply not my personality.
I carry my firearm because, while I would hope never to need it, I would prefer to have it on the long chance I DO need it. If, despite all my hopes to the contrary, some situation arises wherein it would be beneficial to be armed, a gun at home in a safe will not avail me. I fervently hope that, at the end of a long and happy life, I can look back and say Thank God I never needed that gun. We do not always get what we hope for. If that day comes, and I am unprepared, I'll bear the weight of that decision the rest of my life; compared to that, a few extra ounces of weight on my belt feels quite light. I can carry that for the rest of my days, and no one will be hurt by it. It is much the same with military small arms. A million rifles in closets, that go unused and neglected, and are never needed to repel invaders or resist a tyrant, cannot be detrimental to the nation- but we will feel their lack quite keenly, if they are ever needed, and are no longer there.
Saturday, February 9, 2013
I've got some. Some days, I read the news and I just want to crawl under a rock and let the world go crazy without me. School shootings, mall shootings, runaway government pushing its nose into every tent. They who still have the power to help themselves scream at the slightest inconvenience, until they get money dumped on them, while others who need help suffer their days in silence, forgotten and ignored. Some days I just want to walk away and let the lights go out. I just want to raise my son, protect my family, and let the chips fall where they may. The truth is, I can't. WE can't. Because when the lights go out, we know who will creep in the darkness. We know, deep down, who will suffer the most; it surely isn't those who most deserve it
No, when the lights go out, the power mad will reign. Our enclaves will surely be accosted from all sides, and no Galt's Gulch or mountain hideaway will be protection. When the lights go out, the cruel will sieze the world in clammy fists, and they will squeeze what they want from it. The tyrants will hold sway, and the weak will suffer. And we, who prepare, who warn of the danger, who set ourselves against oppression, will be like candles in the darkness- few, bright and fragile.
What will we do, when the darkness rises? Will we stand fast, and bear as much of the world as we can? Will we turn our backs on the cries of children? Will we stumble, and find in ourselves a mirror of those very ideals we resist? Who are we, in the dark?
I do know this- I cannot turn my back. I cannot turn away from the suffering of others, if I have some means to ease their woe. And so, I will remain, though I feel the tide of darkness rising about our feet. Gather yourselves, and steel your resolve. A shadow grows in the world, and there is much to be done if we are to survive it.
Monday, February 4, 2013
Lenin. At least, thats the name so far. I couldn't help it. Its a twofold joke, the first being that I started it with Red Star brand yeast; the second, thats about as far as I can see a communist culture getting. If left too long without an influx of resources (built by the hardworking farmers and millers), it will generally lose vigor and die. If you get it mixed into the dough, it will eventually cause an uprising, and it generates a lot of hot air and alcohol. So I asked My Lovely Wife who her favorite Commie is, and here we are. Hopefully, this will prove more useful in the long run.
I've now had this starter running for a week or so, and it seems to ne doing pretty well. I've used it to make two loaves of bread and a batch of tasty pancakes, and I've split it twice. The first split I put in the fridge, to see how it wakes up. I think that test will come tomorrow. The second split I gave to a cousin of mine, so we'll see how it fares at their house (they don't bake quite as often as I).
Some observations so far:
It seems to be developing the sourdough flavor more than I expected. Even from the first loaf (about three days in) it had developed to a degree. Since then I baked one more loaf, that I didn't taste, because I gave it away with the starter. I don't know how much flavor it has, but it certainly has the scent of sourdough. In an artisanal sense, this is a good thing. In an EOT situation, this is a bit limiting, as I don't know if I would like sourdough cinnamon rolls, for example. I may experiment later on with ways to reduce the sourdough flavor, but keep the yeast.
Baking and rise are giving good results. I generally eschew formal recipes, basing my bread from the 6-3-3-13 ratio I got from 'Artisan bread in 5 minutes a day'. In this case, I adjusted my volumes down to one loaf, and replaced one cup of water and one cup of flour with a cup of starter. I don't add any additional yeast, not because I am a purist, but becase this is an experiment for EOT breadmaking.
Care- My goal here is to see how easily I can maintain the starter. Feeding a copious amount of sugar, or using fancy supplies are not conducive to my goal. So my care regimin is pretty minimalist. I keep my starter in a quart mason jar, covered with a paper towel secured by a jar ring. Once a day, I feed it at least a half cup of flour and a half cup of water. On baking day, I feed a whole cup (to replace the cup I removed) and place the starter on the back of the stove, to make sure it stays good and warm while it eats. The one quart container lets me keep at least a cup of original starter, the added cup of feeder, and still have room to bubble and grow. If I were intending to bake more than a single loaf, I would transfer the usual cup of starter to a large bowl and double it for a day or so, to build up the supply.
So that's where I'm at with the sourdough project. Overall, proceeding rather well thus far. I'll keep posting as I keep experimenting.
Friday, February 1, 2013
I'm trying a new experiment. One of the things that I work towards on a regular basis is bringing all my various skills close to home. A big part of my prep plan is SHIP (SHelter In Place) rather than SHOW (SHelter Out in Wild) now that we have a young'un. And a big part of that plan is having food sources within walking distance.
I can grow a garden- I learned that last summer, and I'll be growing it a bit this year, and see what I can eke out of it. As it stands, we are still eating last summer's zuchinni, which I froze as it came ready. Meat is a little trickier- that'll be a barter situation at best, right now. And bread...
Oh, bread! I don't know if this is clear, but I love baking bread. Normally I'm a lousy baker, because I'm not real good at following recipes, but bread is a different story. Its a little bit alive, a little bit flexible, and a whole lot of satisfying. My new pet is a yeast culture.
In a technical sense, this is not a true sourdough starter. True sourdough has a level of lacto bacteria (related, I think, to the makers of sauerkraut), which is what makes it 'sour' tasting. My starter, on the other hand, is domestic. My goal is to see if I can maintain a yeast culture from a regular batch of bread.
To get it started, all I did was add a little water and scrape down the mixing bowl I made my last loaf of bread in. Next, I gave it a little flour and put it in a jar. Three days later, I have grown it from a tablespoon or so into about a quart of starter.
This stuff grows FAST! Because of the amounts involved, and the way the yeast processes things, starter increases in a geometric progression. Start with a quarter cup, which doubles by itself, then match it on the next feeding. Now you have a whole cup, which doubles to two cups. Feed it two cups, and those 4 cups double to eight cups. This is why its recommended to use or discard half of your starter with every feeding, else you would soon be adding flour by the bag and have starter measured in barrels, not cups. So, since the initial few feedings have gone well, I'm going to try my hand at baking with it. I'll let you know how it turns out!
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Situational awareness can take you part of the way. Don't open your door to strangers at night. Keep your front door free of obstructions that limit visibility from inside the house. And keep your gun on you.
During World War Two, a staggering number of non-firearm companies turned out guns. From Singer sewing machine to Rock-ola, to General Motors and beyond, machinery was retooled to supply arms to us and our allies.
Currently, things are being increasingly manufactured overseas by companies that had retooled at that time to supply guns to US forces. You ask, 'So what?' Well, that means that skill in manufacturing is being outsourced, and factories (with their related equipment) are now located in rather more unstable parts of the world. If a GM plant in Detroit can retool and crank out M3 Subguns, what precisely would stop one in Mexico from being retooled to produce AK rifles? And how certain are we that the Cartels cant get their hands on them?
The right to Arms is a core principle of the American Constitution. It was instrumental in the formation of our country, it is a central tenet of our government structure, and while many today argue that it is an anachronism, it continues to be a reserve for our future protection.
Much is made of the Second Amendment being a 'Doomsday Provision,' to ward off imposed tyranny. While I agree that this is, indeed, a factor of its application, I find the focus on it, especially from our camp, a little bit disconcerting. For one, it opens us up to being painted as traitors and insurrectionists; its very hard to simultaneously argue that we are patriots while asserting that we have arms to ward off the encroachment of the state, which we argue is made up of the people (or ought to be), which is in fact, us.
What is so often overlooked is the fact that we are still the stalwart line of defense for this nation. Oh yes, I know the arguments- this is an age of jets and bombs, airstrikes and machine guns. We wouldn't stand a chance against an invading army. To some extent, there is truth there. It would indeed be difficult to turn back a well armed military with air support and armor. But is that really the threat?
I would like to turn your attention to the nation of Mali, in Central Africa. Mali is a country roughly twice the size of Texas, with 14 million people. Mali has seen a rough patch, undergoing a string of coups that stripped its military of leadership and allowed their supply chain to wither and become obsolete. Their defense budget was slashed to try and prevent the military from holding too much power, and instability left their borders open to revolt and invasion, and so revolt and invasion began. Currently, a force of irregular troops (identified as Islamist Rebels) hold large portions of the country. When they attack, the Malian troops flee and desert. The French military is conducting operations to try and turn back the tide, but are receiving little to no support internationally. And so, Malians die in the interim.
When we talk of the 'well-regulated militia,' we are talking of the ability of the average citizen to defend his homeland against invasion or usurpation. Looking through some numbers on Mali (from Wikipedia, but apparently sourced from the 2007 Small Arms survey) there are roughly 160,000 civilian owned firearms in Mali (14.5 million people x 1.1 Firearms/100 people). If we assume each gun owner only has a single gun, that means only 1.1% of the population is armed. If we assume anyone owns more than one (which is highly likely) that drops rapidly below 1%. An unarmed population has absolutely NO CHANCE to defend their nation against an invasion. Take into consideration that the military of Mali was stripped bare from it's previously well-supplied levels, and are currently more likely to run away than do battle with the invaders, and the Republic of Mali is totally defenseless in the face of a ground attack that carries no air support, no official chain of command, and has no official uniform.
Someone, I'm sure, will argue that we are not Mali, that it 'can't happen here', that they are not a developed nation like us, and to them I say, 'Bull$#!*.' Mali was once one of the ruling nations in all of Africa, a beacon of civilization. They have a Constitutional Republic which they have been unable to keep. IT CAN HAPPEN HERE! We are not special in this regard- we don't have some magical pixie dust of America. If we truly accept that all people are created equal, we have to admit that what is happening in Mali can, in turn, happen to us IF WE LET IT. And people, denying the right of sovereign American Citizens to bear arms is a big step in letting it. Don't let that be taken away.
Friday, January 18, 2013
I'm well aware that I'm preaching to the choir, but this bears repeating- the day is not done. In addition to your US Reps and Senators, there are also local factors to consider.
Illinois has already faced down the first salvo, but New Yorkers never got a chance. The newly signed law there is now the strictest in the nation, and others are coming on hard.
Its not all bad news, though. There is time, though precious little, to get involved.
Write your local reps. Write your Sheriffs. Write to everyone, whether they are pro or anti gun. The Pro's need to know we stand with them; the Anti's need to know we oppose.
Thursday, January 17, 2013
I called into the Squirrel Report tonite. That was awesome. You know how hard it is to remember all those things you were going to say when you call in figuring you won't get through? I'll try harder next time. Or drink more... BTW, if you Weer'd reads this, the enchiladas were delicous.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
So, the official word from the Administration is that Secession is not allowed. Ok then. What are the odds of getting an Amendment started?
I'm going to put this out there, by no means am I renouncing mu citizenship- I'm talking about a serious legal framework for ending a contract.
People still think the Civil War was about slavery- guess what, folks, it wasn't. Slavery was an aspect of the political landscape, and a notable point of difference between the North and South, but it was not cause for the war (if it was, the Emancipation Proclamation would have PRECEDED the conflict, rather than being a later addition to it). The cause of the war was Federal overreach, and Federal overreach won.
So lets do some political legwork first. We owe it, to ourselves and others, to exhaust peaceful options before folks start getting all stir-crazy.
A Constitutional Amendment needs to be introduced, laying a groundwork for leaving the union. If we can get this done, we have a very good option on averting a LOT of unrest.
I think we should start it with the mirror of the votes needed to petition for statehood, and include some negotiation points to account for National debt, Federal holdings, and military bases. Chime in with suggestions!
Sunday, January 13, 2013
It is important to note here that these steps are not a one-time thing. You will find, as you build your holster, that the more pieces you put together, the more times you will have to soak and mold your holster. Just be careful to place the gun in the exact same spot, and you will be fine. Also, after the first few pieces start to take their molding, you can begin to trim the holster towards it's final shape.
Here are links to the other steps in this process
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Agweb, the Dept of Agriculture's news site, has this commentary on why US farmers should help out developing nations.
I'm going to make two additional salient points.
First, while the US is a world leader in ag technology, and our producers are operating out of some of the best arable land in the world, we don't have a monopoly on food (nor should we) and we don't have infinite resources. As can be seen in the San Juaquin valley in CA (the most fertile valley in the world, not kidding), agriculture is in increasing competition with urban areas for water and land. Even without getting into the climate debate, the raw facts are that an average of X water falls on the US per year. Water is the limiting factor in nearly all agriculture. We cannot produce twice as much food on X acres without a suitable increase in water, and as the population continues to grow, so does food demand and water demand. Helping to develope agriculture in poorer areas not only helps generate opportunity for the farmers there, but helps domestic farmers investigate other techniques, many of which could be applied here to reduce our water impact, effectively increasing the amount of food grown per gallon of water.
Second, we should care about helping farmers in other countries for the same reasons we should support human rights in other countries. Because if we don't help, people sufder and die, without need. We have it in our power to help mitigate that, and I believe doing so is a very natural and moral thing to do.
Check out this post by Tim at Gunnuts Media, then come back. I started to leave this as a comment, and realized I was hijacking the post, so I will comment here.
I had a great moment last night in a grocery in Oregon. I open carry as a matter of course, and have drawn far more complements on it than otherwise. Only once have I been asked to refrain, and then it was very polite, and I have honored that request (mostly by not going there, but there you have it).
That being said, I have in recent years started taking much more care in the image I present. I've gone from torn jeans and sleeveless tshirts to wearing casual, clean buttondown shirts. I never wear my torn or stained clothing in public while armed. I traded out my well-loved canvas jacket for a classy leather one. My goal, going armed in public, is to present myself as stable, polite, and responsible.
These days, I am a new father, so that adds another layer in things- literally. I am usually the one that is carrying little Danger around the store. I figure My Lovely Wife packed him around for quite some time already, so its my turn. Which means I am out in public, armed, with a very small child in one if those Swedish Marsupial kid carriers. Trust me, its quite a look.
But its hard to argue with image. The people we are trying to reach are not those on our fringe, or even on our side. Its the ones in the middle, that haven't made their minds up. But maybe, yesterday in a grocery store in Oregon, people saw a young father, nicely dressed, carrying his son and a pistol and thought, 'Maybe that's what a gun owner looks like.' And maybe they changed their minds about gun control. I couldn't do that if I was still wearing torn up old jeans and a sleeveless tee with my tattoos showing.
The unfinished series on holster making is certainly the biggest search engine draw to this site- I need to finish that series. The problem is, it takes time to put together posts with pictures, etc, and time is something I don't have a lot of with a 2 month old around. So, keep looking, I'll get it posted.
PP- I'm still working on yours. See above, life with a 2 month old.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Here's a skill I've been working on: old-school rapid fire with a bolt gun.
My setup is an SMLE (bubba sporter) with a homemade 3 point sling. A lot of people don't care for the 3 point, others love it (Jeff Cooper says!). I dig it. Once you are set up, you can asjust the length of the sling all day for carrying, and not lose time getting slung up tight. When its adjusted right, the gun is locked on to your support arm, bringing the full weight of your upper body into settling recoil. Also, it allows you to let go with the firing hand and not let the gun slip.
So, you have your rifle slung up tight. Settle it firmly into your shoulder with your support hand. You should be able to let go completely with your shooting hand. Next, grab the bolt handle. Grip it firmly with your thumb and forefinger. There it will stay, for the next 10 rounds (five, if its not a smle). Both eyes open, like you are shooting a pistol. Get on target, and rip open the action and chamber a round. Reach out with your middle finger and pull the trigger. BAM! Rip open the action as soon as recoil starts, slamming it shut as the gun is coming back down, and slap the trigger as soon as the sights come back on target. BAM! Rinse and repeat for ten rounds. Now, grab your stripper clip (note: yes, this is an actual clip. A little spring steel piece that holds 5 rounds in a straight line.) with your shooting hand. Drop it in the clip guide and shove the rounds in. Yank the clip out of the guide and grab the bolt again. Five more rounds on target, then back to the clip. The last five rounds go downrange.
Congratulations, you just put twenty rounds of 174 gr bullets into a man sized target in as many seconds. Thats as fast as many people can run a semiauto, and you've launched the equivalent of 60 rounds of .223 (by weight). By the way, you've just expended $64. Grin in a manic fashion to mask the sound of your wallet screaming.
Fun, wasn't it? During WWI, the German army was convinced that the Brits all had machine guns, they were that adept at firing in this manner. Thats probably no small part of the SMLE remaining on service until the 1960s.
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
One of the major problems of our time is whether or not to trust each other with our own fate. That distrust is the root of great evil.
Ideally, we have a Constitutional Republic, which means that the citizens rule the nation by voting. We vote for our representatives in government, whom we expect to fulfill our instructions to the seat of government. These representatives get together and draft new laws (or modify old ones) that apply equally to all citizens. We have to trust that we will make the right choices, and that they will honor our will.However, they are constrained to operate within a system of limitations- limitations that are decided by a Supermajority vote. In this way, we enforce that trust, preserving the rights of the minority, no matter which ideology is in power at the time. Thus, to change the rules of play, it requires the consent of an overwhelming majority of the nation.
Thats the idealized version.
The problem is, we are trusting those representatives less and less, and they, in their turn, are growing distrustful of us.We no longer have faith in their actions, and that, it seems to me, is a reflection of the lack of trust we have in the people who elect them. How many times did we hear the 47% comment during the election? How many people took that statement (out of context, I must add) and used it to dismiss some portion of the voting bloc? Not just on one side, either; Republicans reflected on the remark and decided that those people were bought and paid for, not acting in the best interest of the nation, and therefore not to be trusted to run the country, while Democrats took affront, and decided that anyone who thought the former was some kind of conniving bastard, willing to write off the 47% of the populace who 'didn't matter', who should not be trusted to run the nation. Its not a vote of mistrust in our lawmakers only (though it is that) but its a mistrust of the people that select them. Common ground cannot be found, because the populace, at the urging of the very servants we elect, increasingly distrusts the motives of the opposition.
Its getting even deeper than that these days, though. People are starting to doubt the very humanity of their political opposites. Vitriol is running high, civic discourse is harder to find than ever, and the anonymity of the internet makes it all very easy to run at the mouth and froth at the brain, with no social repercussions (I should know, I'm doing it right now).
The Internet Debate adage known as Godwin's law states that as the length of an internet argument grows, the likelihood of someone being compared to the Nazis approaches 1. Well, lets get this out of the way.
I don't think it was the gun registration that turned the corner on evil in Nazi Germany. I don't think it was the forcible service, or the Gestapo. I don't think it was national health service or the standardization of schools. In many ways, I don't even think it was the twisted psyche of Adolf Hitler, or his ability to move crowds and inspire fear or loyalty that did it. None of those things, excepting Hitler, are an evil of their own- they are the result of mistrust in people to take care of themselves. Eventually, they became a deep enough mistrust that people could safely dismiss the humanity of others. Jews, Gypsies, racial minorities, political dissidents- they were not to be trusted, they weren't one of us, they might as well not be human... and eventually, when urged by a horribly twisted and evil philosophical leader, they were purged.
I never really understood how a people, an entire culture, could turn so vicious, so vile, and act in such despicable ways. I always saw things like this in history books and assumed they were evil from the start- Hitler, Stalin, the mass murderers in Rwanda- I had to assume they were evil, because I had no framework for how a culture could condone the acts of madmen so fully. Now I am beginning to see it.
I am beginning to see it in the immigration policies of the right, the xenophobia and homophobia. Little whispers that grow to a roar, saying they are not to be trusted, they are not real people, they are not like us. I see it in the agenda politics of the left, the social controls, gun control, thought control. Fall in line, do as you are told, we will take care of you, you can't be trusted to take care of yourself.
Its not like they are real people... Read that, and let the chill sink in. Who is thinking that about you? Who have you thought that about? The rich, the poor, outsiders, insiders, big business, welfare recipients, immigrants, hicks, flyover bumpkins, coastal elites. The 1%, the 47%, crazy gun nuts, unthinking sheeple, Rethuglicans, Democraps. Muslims, Jews, atheists, bible-thumpers, single mothers, gays, abortion doctors, global warming deniers, the NRA, gun-banners. We are learning, in the back of our minds, to dismiss their humanity, and once that happens, all manner of atrocities can be unleashed. After all, its not like they are real people. They practically aren't even human, and they're not to be trusted...
Monday, January 7, 2013
I've been a bit doom and gloom lately, eh? How about a cinnamon bun recipe.
2 tsp yeast
2 tsp kosher salt
1 Tb sugar (I use brown sugar for the dough)
1 1/2 cups milk
1 Tb melted butter
3 1/2 cups flour
1 stick melted butter (less the above Tb)
1 cup sugar (white sugar is fine here)
2 Tb ground cinnamon
Warm the milk on low heat to about 100 degrees. Add sugar, salt, and yeast, and set aside to proof 5 min or so. Add melted butter. Mix in flour until doughy and sticky, set in warmed oven to rise, about 40 min, until tripled. Turn out on a floured surface and knead, dusting with flour, until smooth and elastic. Back in the oven to rise again.
While rising, melt the rest of your butter. Add sugar and cinnamon, and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is melted, about 5-10 min. Heat oven to 350.
Turn dough onto floured surface and roll to a rectangle, about 24" x 12", about 1/4" thick. Depending on how much room you have, sometimes its helpful to do this in two batches. Spread the filling evenly on the rolled dough, all the way to the edges. Roll into a 24" round (or two 12" rounds) and slice into 2" peices with a very sharp knife.
Lightly oil a 9x9 pan. Arrange the pieces in the pan, standing them on end. For end pieces, put cut side up. Bake at 350 for 35-40 min, until light brown on top.
Now eat them, and think about how tasty they are. If you have an infant son, as I do, these can be made at 0 crap thirty in the morning, so your loved one can awake to fresh cinnamon buns.
I don't do icing- for that, you're on your own.
So, after five very sporadic years, I've gotten somewhere around 5,000 hits, judging by the site odometer. Going by Google Stats, its about 10,000 clicks (I believe they count each view, so changing pages is a fresh pageview). I'm aware there are all kinds of suggestions out there to run a 'successful' blog, but I'm not real worried about that.
What I AM curious about is my readership.
For example, I've been linked by a couple big dogs, and have comments from others, so there's about 7-10 people at least who read my words whom I have never met in realspace. Thank you for coming, I appreciate it- several of you are among the reasons I started doing this, and others are among the reasons I continue. Also, if you are ever in NW Oregon, it would be fun to someday meet some of my internet people for reals.
I also know that many of my cousins have read it, because I've drawn comments in real life and fb from them. I love you guys, and I'm always hoping to see more of you. We may disagree politically sometimes, but family ties are stronger than that. Any time any of you want to shoot, come visit in OR, we'll make it happen. Or come to see Danger, he's real cute, and growing like a weed.
I also am aware that my Mother reads this blog. Hi Mom! I love you! Let this be a lesson- you're never too old or mature to tell your Mom you love her, nor ever so far out in the weeds that she will stop loving you. Mom, you are a big part of setting the tone for these works. Although not always possible, I make the effort to always write in ways that will make you proud, at least of the words if not always the content. Too, these words are in a pubkic forum, and I was taught to meet a certain degree of civility in public; this has tempered some of my more, um, vehement moments.
So who did I miss? Leave me a comment! I'm curious to know who reads, who I'm reaching, who agrees or doesn't agree.
Sunday, January 6, 2013
OK, this one isn't a new gripe. If we divide the gun argument into people who know v. don't know, we get a group that has experience and firsthamd knowledge, and a group that watches movies.
I don't know how many times we've seen action movies with hundreds of rounds fired without a reload, but the big ones, the ones that really get me, are the autos. People see Hollywood Leadman X running through the scene, full auto running out of his mp5 or m-16 for 3-5 min, no reloads. But the m-16 has a cycle rate of roughly 800 rounds per minute. So, figuring a 30 rd mag, lets do the math.
800 rounds per minute is 13.33 rounds per second, gives us a mag dump in 2.25 seconds (as long as it doesn't jam). All those scenes that people base their knowledge of machine guns on are crap; the guns simply don't work that way. That certainly doesn't stop people from believing it, though.
Long story short- if you are smart enough to know Hollywood Leadman X didn't ACTUALLY die while filming (leaving out Brandon Lee, God rest his soul) you're smart enough to realize the guns don't work like that. So before people decide what they want done about 'scary bullet hoses', they should get some actual facts.
So, let me get this straight- our representatives in Congress hashed out a deal, two years ago, by which we could allow the US to borrow more money if we promised to start cutting programs, but if we didn't get it figured out, they stuck in mandatory cuts at a later date. The Republicans (who ran on fiscal conservative platforms) want to keep spending on THEIR programs, so cutting them is out. The Democrats (who ran on social equality) won't bidge on THEIR programs, so cutting them is out. So they crafted (at our expense) a deal to raise taxes and NOT CUT SPENDING, to continue to fund programs that are hemmoraging money, changed the rules so that taxes went up on EVERYONE, and now want to borrow more money, probably in return for promising (but REALLY, this time) to make cuts, later, maybe, if we have to. Because if we don't borrow more money, we can't pay for the projects that are hemmoraging money. And this is referred to as 'progress' and 'averting the fiscal cliff' which was the agreement they made in order to borrow more money last time.
Hang on tight, because when this goes off the rails, its going to make the Greek austerity riots look like Saturday in the park.
Leela: I can't see, are we boned?
Bender: Yep, we're boned.
Friday, January 4, 2013
I see a lot of numbers played with in letters to the editor, news outlets and others, comparing the US 'handgun deaths' to England, Japan, Canada, etc., and there needs to be more perspective on them.
The quoted numbers I've seen are 30,000 'gun deaths' for the US versus low hundreds for England, middle hundreds for others, and so on. To start- the 30k number which is usually quoted is a finding of a man named Kellerman, who is funded through the Joyce Foundation, a group which funds several other anti-gun groups. Besides being questionable from the standpoint of non-objective study (would anyone accept statistics from the NRA with the same faith?) that study has been debunked in peer review, as inaccurate. Further, that study includes a very large number (nearly half) of suicides, which are not reflected in the statistics of other nations, many of which only report criminal homicides. Also included are accidents, police shootings, and justifiable homicides.
Next, compare the populations- the US has about 350 million people vs England' 53 million, and Canada's 33 million. Australia comes in at 22 million. Theres absolutely zero accuracy in comparing the total number of deaths betwixt these nations and the US.
In order to properly compare any of these countries to the US, you need to 1) either include all suicides from all nations regardless of means, or remove them from the US numbers, 2) account for legitimate deaths, such as police shootings and justified self defense, and 3) account for population.
To say 'the US has x gun deaths, while England has x' is disengenuous at best, and an outright malicious falsehood at worst.
I don't have the numbers, at present, but I may have to gather them, and check back in with more data.