Friday, May 13, 2005

One bit of good news

At least all is not blackness and despair.

Murder charges against 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano, the Marine who shot to death two Iraqi insurgents in a raid near Baghdad last year, should be dropped, according to the recommendation of the investigating officer in the high-profile case.

Let's hope it happens. It's time to put this to rest and let a good man, a good officer and a good marine get back to work.

A Friday Rant

It's been a heck of a week, my back hurts and my attitude just stinks.

Let's see, we have the passage of the Real ID act, hidden inside a military spending bill, our President is pushing a proposal to grant legal status to something like 10,000,000 illegal aliens and the US Border Patrol ordering agents in Arizona to deliberately hold down their arrest numbers to make the Minutemen look bad.

I'm not sure how much more bad news on the freedom front I can take without going bat-shit screaming insane. Who needs Islamist terrorists when you have the US Congress and government?

How about bad economic news instead? The stock market is down--Walmart didn't make it's numbers. United Airline won court approval to dump their pension problems on the taxpayers (via the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation), and Delta may not be far behind. The Feds are slowly reregulating the airline industry. Consumer sentiment dips.

Well, that isn't going to help out my attitude any.

Here's a good question for you--where do you go? Leaving the country isn't the answer, since as bad as it looks, we're still head-and-shoulders freer than any other country. There are places with (currently) better economies, but I don't want to live there. Damnit, this is my home! I want to stay here, the land of the free and the home of the brave, where you can really live a Horatio Alger story if you're willing to work hard enough.

Or at least you could, once upon a time. Face it, Alger has been dead 105 years, and we aren't as free as we once were. Bravery? Well, it seems we still have that, and that's a good thing--we may soon need it in wholesale lots.

Vote the so-and-sos out? Who can you vote for besides the Democans and the Republicrats? Libertarians? Constitutionalists? This country desperately needs a viable third party who is willing not only to abide by the Constitution, but who will make sure all the nonsense currently on the books (even if some lifetime tenured jokers in black say it's Constitutional) gets tossed into the trash where it belongs.

Claire Wolfe has some thoughts on this, and they're good as far as they go, but I don't think "staying angry" is going to do it. Humans can only stay actively angry a short time. Even at that, I'm not sure you can get enough people to be angry for that short time to make a difference. As long as they have cable and an illusion of security, they will bleat happily and do whatever the TV newsdrone says they should do.

I'm going to Camp Freehold this weekend, and since I have managed to once again anger the gods that reside in my back, I'm going to have to take it easy. I'm going to pack up the ol' laptop and see if I can work some of my thoughts out.

I can't help but think that our country is approaching a tipping point. The ramifications of these various actions are going to be too complex--The Law of Unintended Consequences is going to be working overtime. No one can know what the outcome of all this will be, but I just can't find it in me to believe that it will be good for our freedom or our standard of living.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The survival mindset

A lot of electrons have been expended on various Usenet survivalist-oriented grounds and web discussion boards on the "survival mindset". It seems like a simple subject--as we train our bodies, and as we train our skills, we should train our minds for survival.

Of course, right after this, things get a bit sticky--just exactly what is a survival mindset, and how does one go about training oneself and members of one's support group? Like I said, a lot of electrons have been expended.

While I don't have a lot of use for Time Magazine, the April 25 edition has a highly useful article, How to Get Out Alive--From hurricanes to 9/11: What the science of evacuation reveals about how humans behave in the worst of times.

The primary thing that struck me was how those who had survived 9/11, various plane crashes and other disasters had either
  • thought about the situation in advance ("What would I do if...")
  • had an experience in their past that prompted them to follow certain behaviors, such as always noting where the fire exits are located
This equates nicely with the oft-mentioned Jeff Cooper Color Codes for state of awareness. As Col. Cooper advocates, these people are living in a perpetual Code Yellow--their alertness of their surroundings is heightened.

There is also a though that occurs to me about this article--most of the research is aimed at the time frame encompassing the time just before, during, and just after the disaster. If, as many in the survivalist community believe, the disaster could actually last for years (decades, centuries), the dynamic will likely be quite different. Points for research might include Beruit, the former Yugoslavia and Somalia, as they have went through some pretty drastic long-term situations in the past few decades.

While the article is a bit light on details, a serious survivalist should be able to use it as part of a base to build on for his or her own training regimen.

Well, that just tears it

(Via The Drudge Report)

Condi For President in 08

Do you think the Liberals are ready for a minority woman president who supports the Constitution? They're liable to die just from the cognitive dissonance alone!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

As expected, but still disappointing

The $82 billion "emergency spending bill" passed the US Senate yesterday (100 to 0) and was signed by President Bush today. (No word yet if the small plane that encroached into the DC no-fly zone was an angry taxpayer intent on registering his displeasure.)

I don't so much object to the money as I do to the Real ID bill, which was tacked onto this thing in order to slide it through the Senate with as little chance for debate as possible. None of the MSM seem to be concerned about this, and the way everyone in Washington has presented it, it's hard to blame them.

"Why heck, hasn't everyone been complaining about the illegal alien problem? Well we're providing funding to finish the border fence (yeah, I bet that'll stop 'em) and we're going to make sure they can't get driver's licenses (and I bet that will stop them from driving--it works so well when we do it to drunk drivers)."

And you can bet that all those databases that the states will be required to create and link won't be misused, and that every retailer in the US will demand to scan it so they can have all your contact info in a nice electronic package so they can just target (market) the daylights out of you.

Someone once said we get the government we deserve. Well, it seems that we're going to get it, good and hard.

Celebrating another meaningless milestone

This blog passed 5000 hits earlier today. Woo-hoo!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Twilight of Conservatism

(Via Vox Popoli)

John Derbyshire believes that conservatives (the old-fashioned kind) are living in false hope. Given a lot of what I see, I reluctantly tend to agree.

Very information dense piece. I won't try to excerpt it--you need to read it all yourself.

Lt. Pantano--Recommendation delayed

The San Jose Mercury-News is reporting that

The officer who presided over a pretrial hearing for a Marine suspected in the murder of two Iraqis expects to recommend this week whether the case goes forward for a court martial, a military spokesman said Monday.

I'm still watching.

Going Green or preparing to survive?

"Alternative Energy" is going mainstream, according to this Wired article. More and more people are installing solar or wind power systems, agumented by ties to the traditional electric grid, to handle their home electrical needs.

Various reasons are sited, with the biggie being cost savings over the long run. I think that's just fine, charter member of the Silas Marner Society that I am. But the part that caught the eye of the survivalist in was this:

At the same time, the conventional power grid is showing signs of age. Energy use has increased far more quickly than capacity has been added. So blackouts and brownouts occur more often. According to Jay Apt, director of the Electricity Industry Center at Carnegie Mellon University, every four months the US endures a blackout large enough to cut power to half a million homes. Add the threat of terrorism, and homeowners understandably want greater security and control over their power. "I'd rather do it myself than trust the experts," Bell [a homeowner interviewed for the article] says. When the grid goes down, his lights stay on.

Mr. Bell, welcome to the survival mentality.

With the news being what it is today, this is a welcome thing to see--Joe Average is starting to realize that he needs to take care of himself and his family. The government isn't going to do it for you; you have to take responsibility for it.

Heck, the next thing you know, Mr. Bell will be showing up at the gun show.

Real ID? Real bad idea.

Well boys and girls, it would seem that the Real ID act is going to sneak into our lives, attached to a military spending bill. News.com has the FAQ on the subject.

I note that my representative, Howard Coble, was one of only 3 Republican representatives who voted against the blasted thing. Ron Paul predictably voted against it as well. So much for Republicans being the party of smaller government.

I'm not going to rant and rave about what a bad idea this is. It is a bad idea, but ranting and raving isn't going to help. The military spending bill is on the president's desk, and he will sign it. That's a foregone conclusion. We're going to get Real ID'd whether we like it or not.

I will, however, make some observations/predictions. You know how it's is with Social Security Numbers--everyone you deal with thinks they have some sort of God-given right to have your SSN, and your SSN is a defacto national ID number. Well, now we'll have a Real ID--government certified, alledgedly uncounterfitable and machine readable ID.

Be prepared to present this everywhere you spend money. This will take the place of "May I see your driver's license?" when you write a check. It's going to get you scanned into more databases than you could ever imagine existed. You are going to be processed, merged, queried, saved, transferred, exported and imported every day, and you won't even know it.

Be prepared to have the police scan it at every traffic stop and every DUI checkpoint. Of course, some database somewhere will note that on such-and-such date at so-and-so time you were stopped. All these databases will be available to all law enforcement agencies at all levels--it's the law.

Be prepared for an avalanche of data theft. If you think some of the recent high-profile thefts of personal data and credit card numbers were scary, you aint seen nothing yet.

We won't even go into what the targeted marketers are going to do with this windfal of information. Get a bigger mailbox.

And on the serious paranoid fringe, if Real IDs use RFID tags, which seems very likely, what would happen if the terrorists use an EMP device and all our IDs (along with most electronic gadgets we depend on) get fried? Or maybe you just stood too close to something that had the same effect, and your card doesn't work any more. I bet explaining that one will be entertaining.

Hold it, I've got an even better one--privacy warriors work out a way to fry RFID chips with a small handheld device, and just walk down crowed streets, in elevators, stores, etc. frying chips everywhere they go, just by walking by. Can you imagine the chaos in a society where this card has become your ticket to everything?

The unintended consequences of this are going to be big, very big. You might want to hand on tight....

[Edit: Wired also has an interesting article on the subject. It seems that it hasn't passed the Senate yet (which was my impression from News.com), so there may be a chance to stop it. Write, email or call your senators now.]

Confederate Memorial Day

In North Carolina, May 10 is probably one of the most politically incorrect holidays you could imagine--Confederate Memorial Day. This day is set aside as a memorial for all those who fought for the Confederacy in the War of Northern Aggression. (Sorry, I'm not politically correct, either.)

Robert G. McLendon, commander (perhaps past commander now that a few years have passed) of Madison Starke Perry Camp 1424, Sons of Confederate Veterans, wrote on the occasion of Florida's 2001 Confederate Memorial Day service:

For the most part, soldiers on both sides of that terrible conflict, including thousands of African-Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanics in the Southern armies, served for the same reason Americans have served in all our country's wars - their country was at war, and it was their duty to serve.

Think what you will of those of us who remember our honored dead. Like many, I had family on both sides. I feel my kinship to those who fought for the South more acutely, and perhaps that has colored my views and my politics. However, I recognize both sides for what they were--patriots, fighting for their respective countries.

I take some comfort from the fact that now, 150 years after the end of that conflict, more and more of my fellow citizens believe that their government is an over-reaching behemoth that has exceeded its Constitutional bounds. And I take particular pride in knowing that my ancestors, 150 years ago, were fighting against just that.

Deo Vindice.

Monday, May 09, 2005

The Raleigh gun show and its aftermath

I know you're probably asking yourself "Does this guy do nothing but go to gun shows on the weekend?"

Well, no, not really. I only go on the weekends when there are gun shows. Thankfully, that isn't every weekend, or I'd never have time to go shoot.

So anyway, my daughter and I went to Raleigh, NC for the latest incarnation of the Dixie Gun and Knife Show. This was the first time either of us have been to this particular show, but I don't think it's going to be the last. This was a heck of a show.

First, it was big--not as big as the Greensboro, NC show, but big. The selection of vendors was on par with Greensboro. I could get spoiled going to shows like this.

Of course, the highlight of the show was the near obligatory gun purchase. This little jewel, the Springfield XD Service Model (9 mm) in black, just had to come home with us so that the daughter could graduate up from the Walther P22. She's pretty much mastered the concept of pistol shooting using the Walther, and I wanted her to move up to something with some recoil, so she can get used to handling it. A nice part of the deal was a special promo from Springfield that netted a nice polymer paddle holster and 3 magazines.

We also scored a supply of reloading components, and the book Where There Is No Doctor. Pity they didn't have to companion volume, Where There Is No Dentist. I also wanted a copy of Boston T. Party's Molon Labe, but struck out at all 3 book vendors. And of course, Daughter had to have some jewelry. She is female, after all.

For me, the highlight was seeing an M-1 Garrand, 1938 production, with a 4 digit serial number and all the serial numbers matching. There was no price tag on it, which is no suprise. I suspect the bidding would open at $5,000 for this piece of history.

I also got to check out one of the Guardia Civil Mauser .308 conversions that I've had my eye on at Samco. The guy at the show was way over-priced at $225, but it was nice to actually see one in person. I'm anticipating one of these as my first C&R purchase. I think it would make a great trunk gun, and it would keep me from having to stock another caliber of ammo.

After the show, we visited Hillsboro St., took in the sights of NC State University (I used to work there) and caught a slice of pizza to fuel us for the trip back to Camp Freehold.

Sunday, Daughter, Son and I went to the range, partly to try out the new gun, but also to let Mrs. Freeholder have some blessed Mother's Day peace and quiet. Being that I footed the bill, I took the honor of running the first 15 round magazine through the new gun. From 10 yards I was hitting about 75% of the 8" plates, which, given the way I've been shooting lately, was an improvement. I was surprised at the recoil of the XD shooting 115 gr. loads--I'd rank it as not that much less than my 1911 with 230 gr. loads.

Daughter, of course, had to show up her Dad. With 10 rounds loaded, she stood on the 10 yard line and nailed 10 8" plates. Bang-ping!, Bang-ping!, Bang-ping!. Drat those young eyes. On her followup magazines, she didn't do so well, but I think that she'll get back up to her usual 90% with practice.

She did suffer one FTE somewhere in the 2nd or 3rd magazine. I had to use a cleaning rod and bump the spent case out of the gun. Checked the case; didn't see anything obviously wrong with it. It did give me the opportunity to explain the principle of the "backup gun". Other than that, the gun ran perfectly.

Son also got to try it out, but only with 5 rounds. He's 3 years younger than his sister, and just isn't quite big enough for me to feel sanguine about his ability to control the gun in recoil. Maybe in a few years, kid.

In total, we shot 100 rounds through the XD, around 80 through he P22 and 28 through the 1911. It was a short session, in deference to the fact that we hadn't put any suntan lotion in the range bag. Still, we shot for around 90 minutes, which is a nice way to spend some time with the kids on a Sunday afternoon.

Catching up from the weekend

Let's start with some good news: wiretaps in the US are up 19%.

Do what? Has this guy lost his mind? That means Big Brother really is watching us!

Well, yes and no. While the total number is up 19%, that total number is only 3,464 wiretaps for the year 2004. That works out to less than one wiretap per 100,000 population. Compare this with Italy, the most wiretap-happy country, with a rate of 172 per 100,000 population. Kind of puts it in perspective, doesn't it? News.com has the full story here.

Now on to other stuff.

In a geeky note, Apple Computer has release Bonjour for Windows. Based on the description, all that I can say is "Great, just what we needed--Yet Another Network Scanner". If I catch one of my users scanning the network I'm responsible for, they're going to find their port partitioned so fast they won't know what hit them. This story also courtesy News.com.

In the tongue-in-cheek bad news, it would seem that 666 is only in the Neighborhood of the Beast. According to this story, 616 may be the actual Number of the Beast. If they're right, there will be a lot of tattoos that will have to be corrected.

A federal appeals court has jerked the FCC's chain and told TV manufacturers that they are not a wholly-owned subsidiary of the MPAA. If you like to tape or TiVo your TV, you should welcome this news.

Everyone's seen the picture of the US soldier holding a dying child, the victim of the so-called "insurgents" in Iraq. FOXNews brings us the story behind the photo.

In a bit of local news, Sandy Creek Baptist church is celebrating 250 years of its history. That strikes me as pretty cool.

Teddy Jacobson brings us a Stephen Camp article on Corbon 9mm 115 gr. DPX + P ammo. If you rely on a 9mm as a carry or self defense gun (and if you do, why?), you should read this. Corbon is some expensive stuff, but what's your life worth?

The Pajama Pundits are hosting this week's Carnival of Cordite.

And finally, Mr. Lion rips the NY Times *spit* a new one because they're advocating a return to the 55 MPH speed limit. Damn, the next thing you know Joan Claybrook is going to be back designing speedometers.