Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Stupid illness

It's bad enough that the intranet seems especially devoid of edification this morning, but I can't seem to do anything very well at the moment. Stupid cold. I thought I fought of the wifey's cold, but woke up this morning with a fever, a headache, and so congested I can barely hear or think.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Everyone loves a good rifle

Right? Oh, well.

I should probably still be busy writing about the further adventures of (redacted) and the (redacted), but I've been doing an exceptionally lousy job of concentrating today, so I figured I'd blog a bit. After all, when I get off the computer I have to clean kitty liter boxes and a bathroom, do dishes, work out, and generally do stuff. Yuck.

When I wrote this post I came pretty close to simple dismissing the defensive value of rifles. Especially in a home defense context. Hell, had the winds of hopen'change not gotten to blowing, I might never have revisited the topic. Now, however, I think I would be remiss in not doing so.

A little background...

By nature, temperament, experience, training, whatever, I'm a dyed in the wool rifleman. One of my fondest memories of the Navy is the first time I had an M-14 handed to me. Yeah, it was old, poorly maintained, and the sights were off, but I loved that thing. It was the first semi-automatic rifle I ever fired that wasn't a .22. Quickly learned that I had a bit of native ability with it too, when I finally got the sights zeroed. Then came the M-16, three variations of it, the M-4, M-25, EBRed M-14, M-82, and a few others I can't remember. I learned that if I did such and such, just so, breathed just right, and squeezed the trigger just like so I'd hit my target. Anywhere from CQB range to 1200 meters (I have hit target on a range at 1700, but that was more the exception than the rule).

As a fighting instrument, the modern rifle is a first class tool, not soon to be replaced.

Then I got out of the Navy. Still loved rifles, but in thinking about the times and places I'd actually needed them, I couldn't imagine needing one simply to defend myself. Still wanted to get a whole list of them, and had no problem with anyone else doing the same, but I prioritized on what I considered useful for defense. So I set about transforming myself into a pistolero and shotgunner, and, discouraged by the price tags of the rifles I wanted, simply tried not to think about them.

Had I kept my brain in the on position, I would have paid attention to the store owners who successfully protected their property during the L.A. riots or the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when armed citizens (before being forcibly disarmed by their 'protectors') had to fight off roving bands of looters. Are pistols and shotguns useful in such situations? Of course, but they are not ideal and when your life, or that of a loved one, is on the line, you want the absolute best tool for the job you can get.

When confronted with civil disorder and the breakdown of basic services, a fighting rifle is one of your best tools. The shotgun remains highly desirable as does the pistol, but unlike normal home defense you may have to engage multiple attackers at open distances. This is where a self-loading, magazine fed rifle is worth its weight in gold.

Apparently I am not the only one to think so, either. Ar-15s, Kel-Tecs, and any other rifles matching the description are flying off the shelves faster than gun stores can restock. Heck, last time I tried to price rifles, there weren't any that fit the bill. Can't say I blame folks, I just hope they remembered to buy plenty of extra magazines and ammo and make sure they can use the things.

I highly recommend to anyone who hasn't done so already to get themselves a defensive rifle. Yes, you'll probably be fine without one, heck you probably won't ever be in danger from rioters, looters, etc, but that is not the way I recommend approaching personal safety. Especially these days. * And no, I'm not at all recommending people take the approach of forming into impromptu fire teams and patrolling for trouble, with their rifles, if the fecal matter does hit the rotary air impeller. ** If trouble does come your way, however, you'll be far better prepared to survive it if you have a rifle you know how to use with plenty of ammo loaded and ready to go.

I won't go into recommending this rifle or that with what accessories. I could spend a week discussing options and still not cover everything, not to mention I'll be wrong by at least one person's reckoning. Nature of the beast and diversity of opinions and choices is a feature, not a bug.

Instead, since I currently have no rifles that fit the bill (remember I got laid off a while ago?), I'd simply share my plans, such as they are, for acquisitions. I just have to finish this book and get that sweet, sweet, vile mammon.

Our first two rifle purchases will be AR builds. I've never owned an AR, but I've had plenty of trigger time with them and have helped other assemble them from parts. Final decision has not been made on parts yet though. I'll try not to geek out to much in the descriptions...

For the wifey, a carbine length either M-4 style or flat top. Currently leaning towards a flat top with flip-up iron sights co-indexed (for the uninitiated, that means they line up with the other sighting gear) a good red dot sight, probably EOtech holosight, and a flip-in/flip-out magnifier for reaching out just a little bit further, foregrip, and a collapsible stock. Yeah, really good red dot sights will bump the total price by 300-800 dollars, but is totally worth it if you have someone good at short to intermediate range rapid acquistion and fire. Such as the wifey. Might also go with a laser and flashlight, as this will be intended for closer range.

For self, a full length AR probably A4 style, but with a Magpul stock. I'll go with a higher end upper, probably DPMS, fully floated, blah, blah barrel and a bipod. Haven't decided on glass (scope) yet, but whatever it is will likely cost a fortune. Heck, I'll probably even get a light amplification scope. I'm looking to make a 600-800 meter rifle. The odds against needed that kind of reach are astronomical, but my house has great fields of fire and I'd hate to have a chance to head trouble off and not be able to take it.

Finally, the value of the .22 rifle should not be discounted. Sure, I'd hate to have to rely on one to stop an attacker, but they serve plenty of other functions and the small, cheap (relatively, ammo just ain't cheap these days) ammo means you can, and should, have lots. Like in the range of thousands of rounds.

A .22 can be used to take small game such as rabbits as a supplemental food supply. In a situation where you have someone unskilled at arms, as long as they're reasonable unlikely to shoot you, then can blast away at bad guys without wasting more valuable ammo. Not only might they actually stop an attacker, they'll serve as improvised suppressive fire. The .22 can also be used, if a situtation actually lasts a while, to train others in firearms without using your primary ammo. Heck, if all else fails, a .22 rifle with ammo in it is worth more than your bare hands and even the greatest, empty, rifle in the world.

Finally, I advise not just having lots of ammo, but lots of magazines loaded. Having 32,000 5.56 hollow points is great, but if you have to reload magazines after the second one, you're probably in a bad place. Also of consideration, though not of primary concern, is ammunition commonality. If things go bad and stay that way for awhile, will you be able to find more ammo? If you are using a 5.56, .308 win, 7.62x39, .30-06, etc, yeah probably, but if you're slinging a 7.62x54R, you may have some trouble.

*I'm not one of the doomsayers who expects are entire civilization to soon collapse or any 'long night' style scenario. The worst I expect disturbances of a few hundred (maybe a thousand or two) square miles that last from two or three days to a couple weeks. Plenty bad, but not the end of the world.

**I'll probably be visiting the topic of what one should and should not be doing in such a situation, even assisting law enforcement in restoring order, but not encouraging reckless action.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ah the joys of the collegiate experience

I had originally planned on writing about rifles today, a topic near and dear to my heart. Unfortunately, my mornings belong to writing for filthy lucre and blogging is relegated to catch as catch can. Since I have Kenpo in about an hour, there's no way I'd finish a post on rifles.

Whilst in the Navy (ie. during my misspent youth), I was a sufficiently motivated, studious, and, frankly, brilliant (and humble) to finish a bachelor's degree just slightly before my twenty first birthday. Long story short, my education officer pulled a fast one on a bunch of us and we never got credit for most of our classes, about two thirds of them in my case. When I originally wrote this, I went into detail about the whole thing, but realized that even after all this time I remain sufficiently livid so as to be incapable of writing about it coherently.

Moving on.

A few months ago, I decided to go back to school. Doing a little math here, it's been...lessee divide the square of C by the cube root of zero (what? I live outside the flow of normal time)...aha! Eight years since the last time I took a class more academic than how to treat a sucking chest wound or not offend the women or minorities I worked around. Things have changed a bit.

Oh! Sounds like story time!

"But why do they use just zeros and ones in binary? Why not use zero through nine? You could have more information in the same space." This said with the assurance of one who is confident of revolutionizing the field.

A plethora of response came to mind. You know, such trivial things as not being able to simply imprint actual digits in the flow of electrons. Things like on...and off. Maybe a reference to Morse code to illustrate how information is transmitted with only two options. Instead I shoot back with, "What? Because the tiny little cables and electron paths are two small for bigger numbers."

I know, I know, I'm an ass. What do you expect me to say in a conversation that's taking place in a political science class?

"Wouldn't it be worth it to make them just a little bigger? You could at least use three and four."

At this point, I'm just wanting the little wart to shut his month, but since gratification in that regard was not forthcoming...

"You'd still have too many heat dissappation problems and major diminishing returns in volume to processing power and storage capacity."

"Why do we have to use zero and one though? They're the most useless numbers in the world."

I'm sure my tormentor has a vast and metropolitan experience of the world, and this is just a lapse. After all, we all know (right?) that they're actually the two most important intergers. I mean, there are entire FIELDS of study in math and science that rarely, or never, work with values that aren't between those two.

So yeah, I really was about ready to flatten this kid.

"Because they're the smallest ones with the highest value ratio."


"No, drop it. You don't know what the FRENCH FRIES* you're talking about."

"But zero..."

"What?! What is so ALL FIRED* wrong with the current method? You know, since it's the only one that will work unless we stumble on a completely new theory of electronic operation!"

"I just don't like zeros."

Wow. All this from a...wait for it...computer science major. Guess how many classes he's failed! If you guesses 'all of them,' pat yourself on the back.

Not all my fellow students are like that though. In my stats class there are two girls, who sit way in the back of the classroom just ahead of me and the guy I sit next to. In a roughly linear (sorry stats midterm was yesterday) fashion, test scores increase with distance from the teacher. This being a statistics class, I decided to write that phenomenon up sheerly for grits and shins.

We were debating actually giving it to our teacher, until the review session last night. The teacher asked questions with varied awards (arranged ala Jeopardy), and divided the room into teams by rows. The last two rows being largly empty she teamed the four of us up. Being the older and more mature member, I decided to stop answering questions upon realizing that even if one of the other teams got every answer right, we would still win. Now it seems to hand in that little bit of observation would just be rubbing it in. Something my fellows seem all too eager to do.

Ugh, how did I become the guy who has to wrangle both the idiots and rambunctious smart guys? I used to be the rambunctious smart guy...

And now I'm almost late for Kempo. Darnit.

*Not what I really said, this is a reasonable kid friendly blog.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Let's make a deal

Sorry about the continued lack of regular posting. Between trying to hammer out a book, which is turning into a real page turner to my mind, working out twice and day, and being a full time college student, I have not written here a tenth as much as I'd like. That said, I figured it was time to offer a couple of proposals to those whose political ideals are in conflict with mine.

So there's been a little debate over at the Smallest Minority regarding guns, gun control, the effect an armed populace has on crime, etc. Pretty interesting stuff, deteriorated a bit when the anti-gunner started arguing from a position of feeling and ignoring the obviously real dangers of modern life, but still pretty interesting.

It got me thinking a bit though. Kevin repeatedly posted statistics of various gun friendly locales here in the US of A and noted they, almost universally, had lower crime rates. His opponent pointed out that correlation does not imply causation. This is true, but it does still tell us a few things. For one thing, it can eliminate potential causation. Kevin's opponent, without having any statistics or other evidence to his case, merely asserted that the statistics mean nothing. Not so, although as someone versed in them, I often find their value dubious.

See, those stats did show a negative causation. One that directly opposes one of the dearly held beliefs of those opposed to gun rights. "More guns cause crime!" Right, then how come Texas isn't more like D.C. or L.A.? Hell, how come my little corner of paradise, being about as heavily armed as the 7th Infantry, has a virtually non-existent crime rate?

So, the first deal, leaving aside for the time the issue of legally vs. illegally possessed firearms, I'll stop saying that the statistics indicate that more guns will lower the crime rate. Sure, there's a lot to support the theory, but I'm willing to give a little. The flip side is, my honorable opponents, you must stop saying more guns will mean an increase in violent crime.

Next, "Republicans," and by extension, all conservative, "are fascists." Really? Man. This one has gotten old. Especially since when I've heard that, often with some vitriol behind it, I've always been included in the condemnation. I'm not a Republican and never have been. Heck, I'm a conservative only by courtesy to some people's minds. What I am is a strict Constructionist with some libertarian (note the little 'l') leanings. That doesn't matter. Anyone who opposes government handout programs and nanny-statism is a fascist.

Let's examine that for a second. I know, I know, fascism has evolved, in the current political discourse, to mean simply anyone who supports something we oppose. That's not what it's supposed to mean. At it's founding, Fascism opposed Capitalism as the source of class inequality. Additionally, it opposed Communism as exploiting class warfare. In other words, on neither side of the political divide in America can the term be accurately used. Conservatives are, on the mean, capitalists and liberals, again on the mean, while not Communists are experts in exploiting class warfare (ie. tax the rich to give money to the poor).

Fascism supported both military expansionism as well as government oversight and control of corporate endeavors. So we can both accuse each other of those particular facets of Fascism, but it isn't really accurate to do so. While I'm sure there are some who consider themselves conservatives who favor annexing (read: invading, conquering and subjugating) foreign territory, on the whole we're as opposed to it as the next guy (who happens to be a liberal), but continue to be accused of it because of a greater willingness to use military force. On the other hand, I've heard liberals being called fascists quite a bit recently due to the government's recent acquisition of control over several industries nearly in toto. Sure, it was, by and large, the elected Democrats who voted for it, but the average liberal on the street was just as pissed off as me.

So, can we please stop calling each other Fascists? It's not true on either side. I'm sure there are those who would gleefully debate which side is closer to being fascist, but really, it's got to stop.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Ever wonder why Atlas looked so constipated?

I know, I know, weird title.

What can I say, my mind seems to be dwelling in a weird place of late. First, why is it misfortune always seems to hit me first? I'm the only person I know to have been laid off while simultaneously I've yet to get even a sixth of what they owe me from Veteran's Affairs. Predictably, this has caused a bit of financial strain at a time when prices are going up.

No worries, I am not without my resources and recourse. Things are just a bit tight.

Anyway, I've wondered off topic. Atlas. He holds up the world. Looks kind of heavy. He seems to be straining a bit. Now, it appears he's shrugging.

I am, of course, referencing the Ayn Rand novel, Atlas Shrugged. Not that I recommend reading the book. While I certainly find the scenario plausible and even a little terrifying, the book itself and many of Rand's beliefs are rather repellent. Still, in this day in age, you should probably read at least a fairly detailed synopsis of it, as well as the entirety of 1984 and Animal Farm.

Those of you who suffer through seeing me on a regular basis may have noticed that my mind seems to be working a bit differently. My priorities and outlook have changed. This is not a new phenomenon, mind, but another situational adaption I seem to be making.

I've been doing that since childhood. My own dear mother has frequently commented on how I seem to posses a much harder, callused personality than I did while in high school. Not that I am actually callus or even hard, I'm every bit as sympathetic and caring as I ever was, it just doesn't show as much. It's an adaption. I've always adapted to my situation. Heck, when I fist got to Camden, people thought I was a totally uncaring hardass. I wasn't, but that is how I'd had to act at my previous unit.

In reality, this is something we all do, most just don't pay attention to it.

I told you all that so I could tell you this.

It doesn't take the oracle at Delphi or even a crystal ball to see that we, as a nation, are in a rough patch and, unless things change, heading for worse. I don't believe all the gloom and doom prophesies I'm hearing now, about total collapse of our economy and, subsequently, way of life.

But I think we're heading for some serious trouble. When economies tank, especially when there is widespread and deeply felt resentment (like over a few stimulus packages the electorate didn't want), people often take their anger to the streets. With cutbacks coming in local government budgets, not federal of course, this will mean less police and emergency response. Wouldn't take much of a spark to cause a breakdown of civil order under those circumstances. Worse, the first time it happens will likely set up a domino effect.

Down go the dominoes.

Worst, there is no way to predict where such civil unrest will occur. True, big cities are more likely than small ones, but even small city economies are tied into the nationwide network of commerce and when the mill closes or the farms cannot by seed, people will be angry. No where will be immune.

So, now my imperative to you. Be prepared. Stock up on long shelf life foods, talk to your nearby friends and family about mutual preparations, decide where would be the safest play to try and wait things out (good lines of fire, sturdy construction, etc), buy rifles, shotguns and loads of ammo (more on this later), etc. I'll be going more in depth later, but the essence is to make ready for trouble.

To that end, I've started a (VERY) rigorous new fitness regime, stepped up my combatives practice (part of the regime), and am planning several new firearm acquisitions.

The odd thing is, I don't even feel like I'm being paranoid. Hopefully, nothing bad will happen near any of you, but I hope you don't gamble on it.

Forged in Fire, Rotted from Within

(reposted from another blog of mine)

So, here we are in the year of our Lord, two thousand and seven. For decades we have taught young boys that their natural, chromosonal aggressiveness is wrong, bad, verboten. Girls are taught to keep their man humiliated and feeling perpetually guilty of everything that goes wrong, to control him. Schools teach young children that to believe in God is simple superstition, that our own culture and its mores are intrinsically inferior to all others, that Western Civilization, and by extension, our country, is the bad guy throughout the last few hundred years of history.

The result? Sky-rocketing divorce rates from men who get sick of being treated like village idiots sneaking off with their secretaries who let them wear the pants occasionally and women finding some other man who actually acts like one (although they'll do their best to change him too). Our borders leak like a sieve because we're too afraid of 'oppressing another culture', insensitivity, or racism to defend our way of life and national identity. We're more afraid of the boogeyman of global warming than militant Islam because to deal with the later would require us to actually admit we're battling an entire culture, not just a few radicals.

The list of symptoms brought on by the monster of causality is long and, frankly, we haven't even seen all of it yet.

And where does it all start? By rejecting what we are. Whether you believe in God, as I obviosuly do, or something else, the simple fact is that boys act one way and girls another. This is the natural way of things. Males are aggressive, analytical, territorial, and protective. Females are intuitive, subtle, security-minded, and ruthless. Are there certain exceptions? Absolutely, you'll not likely meet anyone more ruthless than me, or a man more protective than my wife. The point, however, is that there are clear differences and preferences between the genders, even among children treated the exact same. Different hormones, chromosones, etc. By trying to eliminate these natural traits, we've upset the natural order. I can't count how many couples I've met who were absolutely miserbale because the woman exerted dominance over the man. Not that the opposite should be true, marriage should be equal, but it's obvious such a situation cannot maintain. I've seen nearly all of those relationships end in divorce, over the course of less than five years. That's the biological side of it.

On the national side, it's about our national identity. We are a nation that was forged in the fires of war. The War for Independance. "Give me liberty of give me death!" "I regret I have but one life to give for my country." "The tree of liberty must, from time to time, be watered with the blood of patriots and tyrants, for that is it's natural fertilizer." Patrick Henry, Nathan Hale, and George Washington. That is who WE were. Patriots, Americans, COUNTRYMEN. We had pride, a work ethic, and a thirst for liberty. We even extended that liberty to others, who sailed across the Pacific and took it. Made this country their own and became Americans themselves, and it was good. We fought any and all who threatened that liberty or the lives of our citizens. So, what happened? Simple, we abandoned all that. How many would seriously expect to hear a President say anything even remotely like the above quotes? No one.

The two are closely related. Without the natural balance in place of men's aggressiveness and women's propensity for security, we tipped the scales to far towards security and the nanny state that engendered. As a backlash against the suppression of men's aggressiveness, we have passive-agressiveness mixed in (in an unholy matrimony) with blatant machoism. Rap videos are a good example. So we have the drive to outlaw guns, control the Internet, outlaw this, ban that, raise taxes more to feed the poor, 'Screw Capitalism, the government needs to run these industries,' give up just a little more privacy for the sake of security, nationalized health care, etc.

That's the prognosis boys and girls, sorta. Things aren't so bad as the media would have us think, although those disfunctional jerks think it's good. We conservatives (who, in my mind, could be described as those who respect the balance) are not the toothless, old lions baying at a world that no longer fears them that some would have you believe we are. I hear all the time about how the soul of America is gone and we no longer have the will to win, etc. Not true. We are made of sterner stuff than that. Even now with a war going on, our military is all-volunteer. Volunteers who shame me for having joined in peacetime. Our Southern border is patrolled by private citizens every day, day in and day out, at cost to themselves, using their own vehicles, gas, and, you guessed it, guns. Everywhere you go, you meet people who rail against the nation our media would have you believe exists. Well, we're NOT that nation, we may have been led astray and struggling, on the ropes if you will, but WE ARE NOT BEATEN. As long as people like us draw breath America will be free and the battle for her soul will not over.