Saturday, June 25, 2005

Obviously, the Army's morale is still high

Because they can still laugh at themselves:

US Army Dynamic Entry Training Video


Denial is not a river in Egypt

(Via Jerry Pournelle)

For years, some have said that "We're borrowing against our children's incomes".

Might better include the grandkids and great grandkids as well.

The timing could not have been more apt. On the eve of a titanic partisan clash in the Senate, eggheads of the left and right got together yesterday to warn both parties that they are ignoring the country's most pressing problem: that the United States is turning into Argentina.

...

With startling unanimity, they agreed that without some combination of big tax increases and major cuts in Medicare, Social Security and most other spending, the country will fall victim to the huge debt and soaring interest rates that collapsed Argentina's economy and caused riots in its streets a few years ago.

"The only thing the United States is able to do a little after 2040 is pay interest on massive and growing federal debt," Walker said. "The model blows up in the mid-2040s. What does that mean? Argentina."


I don't think we have that long--I think that something will happen long before that to send our economy into it's death spiral. I also think that the sooner it happens, the better off we'll be--not as far to fall; no so many people falling. My personal prediction--somewhere between 2010 and 2020.

But hey, let's finish on a cheery thought:

"No republic in the history of the world lasted more than 300 years," Walker said. "Eventually, the crunch comes."

Yep, it sure do.

Alternative thoughts on the Kelo decision

Jerry Pournelle, for whom I have great respect, has a different take on the Kelo decision. In light of what he says, I'm going to have to think about this some more.

By the way, you might also want to be careful about signing a contract with the government

(Via WorldNet Daily)

It just keeps getting better and better:

A unanimous US Supreme Tribunal Court has ruled that is perfectly OK for the government to arbitrarily and unilaterally modify a water contract signed in 1963, halving the amount of water delivered to some California farmers. Oh, and the government doesn't have to pay damages, either.

Was that a bubble in the water, Froggy?

Quitters

A kids' baseball team has been ejected from their league for being too good at the game.

It seems that the coaches and the parents of the other teams in the league all decided that they would not play the Stars, and the league refunded their entry fees and too them off the playing schedule.

"I called up the league office and said, 'No way are we going to play them,'" Terry Morris, who coaches another team in the division, told The Dispatch. "I wasn't going to subject my players to that." ... "We didn't want one of our kids to get hit in the face with a ball," said rival coach Kris Hutchins, who said all his players' parents agreed that their boys not face the Stars.

In one of those "out of the mouth of babes" moments, Stars second baseman Matthew Hufferd opined ""If they learn at their age that they can forfeit on things they don't want to do, it's quitting."

Exactly, Matthew.

I remember, way too many years ago during my first time at college, wanting to learn backgammon. I got the best player in the dorm to teach me, and I played her constantly. I also got my ass whipped by her constantly. When I finally learned enough to beat her on a moderately consistent basis, I was a very good player indeed.

I learned more by losing than I would have by winning. As I've went through life, I've found time and again that my failures and my losses have taught me more than my wins. Pity the kids in the Canal Winchester Recreation District won't get to learn that important piece of wisdom at an early age.

The good news just keeps rolling in

(Via The Drudge Report)

I guess it wasn't enough that banks, airlines and employers are "losing control" of your personal data. Now the IRS *SPIT* wants to get in on the action as well.

I have to wonder if it was a taxable transaction? I also wonder what it's going to take before all the various executives and IT types get serious about protecting this (and for that matter all) data the way they already know they should?

Perhaps the head of the IRS would like it if his information, such as "bank account holders' names, social security numbers, transaction values, and any suspected terrorist activity" got sold God knows who? Do you think he'd be comforted by the Treasury-droid's assertion that "There is no evidence that anyone who was not authorized accessed the data outside the GAO".

Maybe he would. I mean, everyone knows they can trust their government, right?

Friday, June 24, 2005

The Window War

(Recalled to consciousness on The High Road)

Liz Michael can get pretty strident for my tastes, but this is worth reading, given current events.

We've been tellin' ya

"Oh, you're one of those survivalists, aren't you?"

Every time the subject of how fragile our civilization actually is comes up in conversation, I get that comment or a similar one. Apparently, just because I choose to be prepared for Bad Things Happening, I'm suspect. Of course, this always comes from someone who has the full setup of life, health, home and auto insurance and wouldn't think of leaving the house without their cell phone--just in case. Having "existence insurance"--well, they just can't make that leap. (The sheep says "Ba-a-a-a".)

There are people in this world who's job is to think the unthinkable. Some work in our military. They think up scenarios in which our country is attacked in various ways and then plan responses and file them away against future need.

In the world of Information Technology (IT), we have to formulate disaster recovery plans--what happens if the factory 500 yards from the Mississippi River is flooded? How do we recover and reopen? What happens if the database server goes down--how do we rebuild it and get production back online?

Well, the National Commission on Energy Policy (which just happens to be funded by a bunch of left-leaning groups) is thinking the unthinkable as well and has just completed "Oil Shockwave: The Oil Crisis Executive Simulation". In a story on FoxNews, we get some details of a scenario where a series of smallish disruptions in oil supplies, coupled with cold weather (and a bit of terrorism for spice) have oil prices up to $123/barrel and gas at $4.75/gallon.

"What this exercise revealed is that very modest disruptions in oil supply, whether they're here at home or abroad, can have truly devastating impacts on our nation's economy and on our overall security," said the commission's executive director Jason Grumet.


"I think there is a general misunderstanding of just how vulnerable we are to small disruptions because the world oil market is so tight right now that any little interruption can have a very serious and undermining effect," he said.

Remember to note who funded this scenario exercise--the Pew Trusts and some other seriously lefty organizations. There is an agenda here. However, that agenda doesn't detract from the valid point--we rely on imported oil far more than is safe. And in a world where there are other countries, such as China, who are just as hungry for oil as we are, the fact that supplies are stretched tight ought to be of concern. Wars have started over less.

When you consider that oil is around $60/barrel and gas is roughly $2.30/gallon, $123 and $4.75 don't seem to far-fetched, do they?

What would you do if gas hit just $4/gallon? Do you make enough money to continue to commute to work each day? What will you do when those fuel prices start showing up at the grocery store and in your electric bill? Think you could stand it if your winter heating bill doubled? Quadrupled?

Think about it.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Sure we have private property in the US

However, if your local government decides that your property will generate more tax revenues if it's removed from your ownership and transferred to someone who will build a hotel, a casino or some other project, well then, you're SOL, my friend.

The US Supreme Court says this is fine by them.

The consequences of this decision will be great, and I further predict that they will occur quickly. If you own property in an area that is ripe for confiscation redevelopment, you may want to consider your exit strategy, before you are dispossessed and "justly compensated".

Another of the chains that has traditionally bound the beast of government has been broken. We are going to find out that while government may be a useful servant, it will indeed be a fearsome master.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Why you shouldn't trust the government, part umpteen

(Via Drudge)

It seems that terrorism investigations are becoming the newest reason that the United States government can't obey its own laws and policies. The latest installment (from the NY Times; registration required; BugMeNot works):

The Social Security Administration has relaxed its privacy restrictions and searched thousands of its files at the request of the F.B.I. as part of terrorism investigations since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, newly disclosed records and interviews show.

The privacy policy typically bans the sharing of such confidential information, which includes home addresses, medical information and other personal data. But senior officials at the Social Security agency agreed to an "ad hoc" policy that authorized the release of information to the bureau for investigations related to Sept. 11 because officials saw a "life-threatening" emergency, internal memorandums say.

The Internal Revenue Service also worked with the bureau and the Social Security agency to provide income and taxpayer information in terror inquiries, law enforcement officials said. Officials said the I.R.S. information was limited because legal restrictions prevented the sharing of taxpayer information except by court order or in cases of "imminent danger" or other exemptions. The tax agency refused to comment.

This is just the first three paragraphs of course. The rest of the depressing tale is here.

Before 9/11, such actions were "for the children"--we were going to track down all those deadbeat dads and get them to pay up. The current witchhunt is for terrorist suspects, who seem to cropping up behind every bush and under every bed.

Don't be surprised when the definition of "terrorist" gets expanded to include various forms of dissent that have historically been tolerated, if generally unloved. If you're a member of the Militia of Michigan or the John Birch Society at one end of the spectrum, get worried. Your opposite numbers at the other end of the spectrum, such as Earth First!, have already been successfully targeted.

What unpopular belief do you hold? What group are you a member of that could merit such treatment? Most of us will have something that fits into one or both of those categories. Have you taken a stand that would be unpopular if a different political party was in charge? Your record may catch up to you someday soon.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

We don't care; we don't have to. We're the TSA.

The federal agency in charge of aviation security collected extensive personal information about airline passengers even though Congress forbade it and officials said they wouldn't do it, according to documents the Associated Press obtained Monday.

Pop Quiz!

Your government agency has been told by Congress that you will not collect personal data on passengers. In response, you

A) Ignore the hell out of Congress and do it anyway
B) Use a contractor to do the actual work, hoping for "plausible deniability"
C) Plead that this is just a test, not a real collection of data
D) All of the above

My answer is D.

However, the thing I'm sure I'm going to find most amazing is that there will be sheep people out there who still won't be able to understand why so many people don't trust our government.

G-r-r-r...

(Via Drudge)

Vandals Spray Black Paint Over Faces In Confederate Monument

I know what I'd like to paint on these losers. Followed closely by a dose of feathers.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Carnival of Cordite #18 is up

On Techno Gypsy's site. What is it with these Texas bloggers and guns? *grin* There's a ton to read; best get on it.

Back and blogging again

The weekend is nearly done, but I can't let it finish without some gun and survival talk.

Last weekend, you may remember, Old Friend's Older Brother, his Lady Friend and Lady Friend's Daughter were my guests at the range that I'm a member of. During the event, we tried our his new gun, a .45 ACP made by Hi-Point Firearms. Ever since, I've been poking fun at him for buying such an ugly gun. (Go ahead, click on that link. Just be sure you haven't eaten recently.)

I also noted that I was surprised at how well it shot. I also made that comment to him. I hope that didn't cause what's happened now--he's went out and bought one of each caliber they make. Aru-g-g-h! That's one in .380, 9mm, .40 and his original .45. This is a lot of ugly to cram into one range bag.

The .40 is on order, so there was only the .380 and the 9mm to check out. The .380 is a flippin' disaster, the 9mm a close second. (Apparently, the .45 may have been an aberration.) First, the .380 has what I sincerely hope is a manufacturing defect. I'm not going to note it here, except to say that if I owned this gun, if would be back in the hands of the dealer as soon as they opened Monday morning. I will say that it isn't a safety-oriented problem.

Outside of that little issue, the thing experienced more failure to feed (FTF) problems than I think I've ever seen in a single place. In addition, it shoots so low that even using the entire elevation adjustment won't bring point of impact (POI) up to point of aim (POA). Another reason to take it back.

The 9mm was joyfully free of manufacturing defects and FTF problems, but suffered the same POI vs. POA problemand to the same extent. Since they're both apparently made on the same frame, with the only apparent difference being the barrel/chamber, I'm not too surprised.

The .40 and the .45 ACP are also made in this manner. I'm hoping he has better luck with it when it arrives.

I, one the other hand, had much fun with my Walther P22 when it decided to become a jam-o-matic. As best I can tell, it decided that the CCI Blazer ammo it had digested all of last weekend was not up to snuff this weekend; it refused to extract the fired case about 50% of the time. A switch to CCI Stingers cured that problem. Shooting the same Blazer ammo through a Ruger 10/22, we experienced no problems. Go figure.

I also had time to experiment some more with my beloved Springfield M1911. Don't get me wrong it, shoots fine--no mechanical problems. My only problem is that I can't hit the broad side of a barn about half the time.

Fortunately, I had another of my friends, whom we shall call the Mountain Man, join us for this particular range session. He was able to give me some feedback (no noticeable flinch, which was what I thought was going on), plus he was able to take the gun and completely show me up on accuracy. The gun will hit what it's aimed at, if you do your part. I. obviously, am not doing my part.

As a long gun sort of guy, I've noticed that I do best with pistols that have a "3 dot" type sight. Out of the 4 I own, 3 have 3 dots and one has a non-3-dot. Guess which one I can't shoot worth a flip. Bingo--the non-3-dot. So I'm going to be doing some shopping for a 3-dot style sight to replace the Novak sight the gun came from the factory with. I know many people love Novaks, but they just don't work for me.

Enough of guns. on the Survival side, I've finally gotten that golf cart article posted on my website. Feel free to check it out and give me some feedback.

On another survival note, I'm starting to accumulate silver, as a hedge against inflation and What May Come. If you're new to such things, I have a brief essay on the subject here.