Monday, November 13, 2017

We need more laws to restrict guns!

(Found on Gun Site's Facebook page)

At least that is the hue and cry after any "large enough" crime in which guns play a part. So Dave Kopel and Joesph Greenlee decided to write an opinion piece for The Hill where they took at lot/many/most/all of the laws gun grabbers say we need and listed them for our edification.

The punchline of this is, as any astute gunnie already knows, that all of their demands are already laws, and have been for decades. Kopel and Greenlee play nice and don't call the lying so-and-sos out, but I have no problem doing it. The people who call for these "laws that are already laws" are doing nothing more than pandering to their base in an effort to keep the blood money flowing in after every spree killer plies his bloody trade. They do it because it's their business and it's how they earn their living. They are nothing other than carrion eaters. They no more want these nut jobs stopped than window washers would like to see self-cleaning windows.

The hell with them and their demands.

Monday, November 06, 2017

More on EMP

Yep, been going down this particular rat hole. I haven't looked into it for a while, because it's been my opinion that all the really good information has been locked up by various governments and government-supported groups and that the effort was a waste of my time.

Maybe not quite so much these days.


I've done a small bit of research into Advanced Fusion Systems, and honestly, there isn't much. Some of the staff is on LinkedIn. The company was founded in 2008 or 2009 and apparently has around $6.6 million per year in revenues. It appears that they are still in business.

I can say I give Mr. Birnbach, the speaker in the video, props for being as pissed off as I am about this information being locked up. This information should be available to one and all, given the level of importance of the subject.

As far as the quality, I'm hardly a subject matter expert, but I can say that as far as my knowledge of the subject goes, his explanations and graphs match up. As to the claims he makes in terms of the weaknesses of current EMP-proofing technology, I simply don't know. Ditto for his claims about his company's tech.

Interesting to watch, though.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Why haven't I heard about disasterprepper sooner?

(From the email reflector that must remain nameless)

This guy is great!


I'm using this for an example, because it's the first useful EMP information I've seen that actually has anything resembling science associated with it.

disasterprepper is actually Dr. Arthur T. Bradley, and you can see all his work at, where else, disasterprepper.com. There is a ton of free info and more in-depth stuff you can buy (hey, guy's gotta eat).

My basement TV has a device that can stream YouTube attached. I'm going to be watching/listening to this while I'm catching up to some tedious gun cleaning duties I've been ignoring.

The Anti-FAIL

Well, what a difference a couple of day and some bad weather makes. With the exception of a reported 2,000 people in Los Angles, it seems the big November 4 Antifa Gonna Kick "Fascism"'s Butt didn't quite go off as expected.

As the Mountain Man commented to me this weekend, "Protests require better weather." At least the do when the protestors are perhaps not as dedicated to their cause as they are to George Soros's money.

Nevertheless, I would still counsel keeping an eye on this crowd. If you toss enough money at something or someone, you can eventually buy what you want. Always.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Temper tantrums

The long announced temper tantrum begins tomorrow. Antifa, the mis-named group that is actually nothing more than communists looking for a good time, will be taking to the streets in major cities to "remove the Trump-Pence regime". Careful what you seek, kiddies, what you get as a replacement may not be as friendly to you.

Things don't always work out according to plan.
While the tantrums are supposed to begin on November 4, don't be surprised if they start today. Keep your eyes and ears open. If you find yourself in the neighborhood of one, I'd suggest staying or moving away. I plan on being in a locale that should be quite safe from such foolishness, although I will be prepared just in case, as any good prepper should.

Let's all hope and pray cool heads prevail.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

I can add 2 + 2

And come up with bullshit.

Will the last bit of common sense to leave the USA please turn off the lights?

Friday, October 20, 2017

I bet you thought I'd never come back around to this (Putting up a 6m/2m/70cm beam antenna, Part 5)

In actuality, I've been working on this since the last post, but a lot of it has been in small parts that didn't lend themselves to writing about. The ones that did, well, more on those later. I think I can write about them now without ranting. Maybe.

So, after getting the mast up, summer heat intruded. No way I was going to be up on the roof for any amount of time in 90+ degree weather, so that delayed things for a while. Two hurricanes didn't help either. Plus the usual mow the grass, go camping, so on and so forth. The life of the retired gentleman. :-)

5/8" pilot hole
2 5/8" finished hole;
note the blowout
The first thing to be accomplished after the mast was to fabricate some sort of entrance facility for all the various antenna cabling. I wanted one not only for items on the mast, but for the coming wire antennas as well. This required some work, namely a 2 5/8" hole core drilled through the basement wall. Once the location was selected and triple-checked for appropriateness, this was accomplished in two steps. First, a 5/8" hole was drilled through the wall. This gives the larger bit's pilot bit a path to follow and helps keep it straight. I picked this tip up from an electrician. Illustrative pictures on the left, click to get the super-sized versions.

On the 2 5/8 hole, you'll see the blowout around the hole. This is what happens when the bit pushes through at the end of drilling a hole in masonry. I have yet to figure out how to stop it, only how to minimize it and patch it after the fact. This one is the best I've ever managed for a hole this size. To do this, you have to learn to feel when the bit is about ready to go through and then back off the pressure you're exerting on the rotary hammer, allowing it to just barely drill through.

The reason for a 2 5/8 hole is so that the fitting end of a 2" fitting would fit through. I'm using 2" PVC Schedule 40 conduit, and normally you would make a 2 1/2" hole, but I wanted this to fit snugly to the side of the house.

Entrance Facility
That's a 2" PVC weatherhead, the sort of thing you normally see for an incoming power line. I chose it using the logic that if it was good enough to handle power lines in a weatherproof fashion, it would be good enough for antenna lines. Obviously time will tell if my logic is correct.

The entire set up is around 40" tall. That gets it up to a nice height to work at.

Antop UFO TV Antenna
Next up was the first antenna. You may recall that we became "cord cutters" some time ago, ditching our over-priced and under-utilized cable TV for Amazon Prime, Netflix and Sling. I had promised Mrs. Freeholder, the Carolina Panthers fan, an antenna so she could watch her football games without my having to pay for them.  Behold the TV antenna. Behold also the Channel Master rotor, which has nothing to do with the TV antenna. I'll come back to it. The antenna is an Antop UFO Smartpass Amplified HDTV antenna, suitable for outdoor, attic or RV use. You can buy it on Amazon for $90. It's lightweight, seems to be well-constructed within reason, and goes up easily. We're in a good signal area, it's 20' or so above ground and we're getting 50+ channels (with a lot of duplicates), some of those from 90-ish miles out. It's simple to wire in. Mine goes to an 8-way powered CATV splitter that feeds the house cable distribution network. Yes, I'm a geek. My house has a CATV distribution network.

The Channel Master rotor also came from Amazon, and it was for this. That is a Cushcraft A627013S 6M/2M/70cm Multi-Band Beam Antenna that I bought from DX Engineering. A better ham radio vendor than DX Engineering I don't know of. A bigger piece of crap than the Cushcraft A627013S I've not seen lately.


I'll keep the explanation simple, just to avoid a pages long rant. Mis-drilled, mis-aligned and missing element mounting holes in the beam. Missing parts. Elements cut shorter than spec. Inadequate instructions. A 24+ hour lag time on tech support questions. An element mounting system designed by a drunken first semester engineering student. Unbalanced weight-wise to the point of stressing the rotor; this last from an antenna designed to mount on standard TV mast and use a standard TV rotor.

Those are my big complaints. I won't bother with the small stuff.

Credit where it is due, DX Engineering really stepped up and helped sort out a lot of this. What they couldn't, MFJ did, although I got the vibe that they were doing so a bit grudgingly.

In the process of assembly, I had the antenna partially assembled and then disassembled 5 times as I found problems and corrected them. Once assembled, I had to partially disassemble it twice more on the roof to correct the weight distribution issues. Once finally mounted in the rotor, I spent several hours trying to true up the elements, getting the 70cm/2M elements as vertical as I could and the 6M elements horizontal. They're close. The 6M side is giving me an SWR of 1.5 in the center of the SSB part of the band, which is what I tuned everything for. I don't know about the 70cm/2M; I'm going to have to find a meter to borrow to test those.

Cushcraft is owned by MFJ, who gets no link love from me. If it is humanly possible, I will never buy another of their products. I've seen it said that when you buy one of their products you need to remember it's more of a good starting point. If this is what was meant, I'm calling BS.

Here's a picture of what I hope is the finished product, taken in the dying light of day yesterday.

Finally finished?
As you can see, it's still missing feed lines. I'm going to use DX Engineering's LMR-400MAX line. I don't run an amplifier, so I want to send as much power as power as possible to the antenna and not waste it in the feed line. Those are ordered, and my email informed me an hour or so ago that they have shipped. They'll get installed next week, weather permitting.

After that, I'll get on the air and see if I've managed to make a silk purse from a sow's ear.



Thursday, October 19, 2017

Desperation is the mother of all spam

Now I'm getting Bitcoin spam on posts that are weeks or months old. The bots are getting desperate if they're pitching Bitcoin here.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

This ought to light off a few

(Via Kim DuToit at Splendid Isolation)

I'm at the age where ladies of quality began being very difficult to come by. Seriously. I've watched guys a decade, perhaps less, younger than I have no end of issues trying to find a good woman to settle down with. They've failed, often repeatedly.

In all fairness, I will also say I've heard the same complaint from women involving quality men. But for this post, we're looking at this from the male perspective.

This seems to coincide with the rise of militant feminism. While I have no issue with women being treated equally in areas such as pay and so on, I differentiate that from the militant brand of feminism which seems to me to be nothing more than an excuse to scream "Down with the patriarchy!" at the top of their lungs while allowing their physical appearance to go to hell, all while not shaving things that their mothers all shaved and ignoring the basic rules of personal hygiene.

This, in turn, has led to something that I don't think anyone would have predicted--the rise of the slut. These are the women who have no understanding of the concept of "morals" and who shave things their grandmothers would have never thought of shaving, all while piercing and tattooing themselves more than the average Amazonian tribe. At least most of them bathe on a regular basis.

There are, however, a fair number of young men and women out there who, often for reasons having nothing to do with what they are exposed to at home, what I would call "normal". They have the usual urges and while their morals would be wholly out of place in the 1940s, in the 20-teens they are comparatively straight-laced. They are not interested in the usual "hook-up culture" that I saw on display during my lately concluded employment in higher education. They are interested in something more along the lines of what their grandparents had in the 1940s or 50s.

And that brings us to the JudgyBitch, doing laundry, cooking and a few other thing for her then boyfriend/now husband. Her advice for young proto-ladies on how to be a lady and not a female is a bit raw, politically incorrect in the extreme and totally refreshing. If I were younger and unmarried I'd ask if she had a sister.

If you're a father of the correctly aged young female and you have the right sort of father-daughter relationship, you could do worse than exposing her to this thinking. The lady has got it figured out IMHO.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Stop bleeding all over my floor!

(Via Michael Bane on Facebook)

One of the training points that has come up in the last few years is that "If you carry a gun, you should carry a trauma kit." Not a bad idea; I've carried one in my range bag for years, and it's evolved as available equipment has evolved and as my skill level has improved.

I have to admit to being lax and not carrying one in my vehicle, even though there is always a gun in the lock box. Yes, I will do something about that soon. If necessary I can pull most of what I need from the household stock, but I'd really like to do it with new gear.

It's also a great thing to note that our own Federal Government is finally going to waste money on something that is worthwhile for a change--National Stop the Bleeding Day will take place on March 31, 2018. In light of the recent spree killing in Las Vegas, you can't overstate how important it would have been if a lot of the concert goers had been toting a little trauma training along with them.

If you feel the urge to get training before hand, you can visit www.bleedingcontrol.org/, or try out Dark Angel Medical, also linked on the left. I'll try to find some more trainers to add; perhaps as a new category. You can also check out the "5 Minute Prepping" tag, there are a couple of posts there that fit this subject.

According to the Feds, 20% of trauma victims could be saved if they had gotten their bleeding controlled quickly. Don't be one of that 20%, don't let one of your family or a friend be one of it. Get trained.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Chainsaw, use of

(Via SurvivalBlog)

YouTube, even though it's owned by Google and is in the middle of some sort of politically motivated purge, is still a source of much how-to goodness such as this.


 That's part one, there is a Part 2 and a lot more useful videos as well.

Word from Puerto Rico

I need to have the time to read my own blogroll more often. Over at cdr salamander's joint, there is an excellent article on the emergency response to the hurricane damage in Puerto Rico. This is from October 2, so it's out of date in terms of news. What isn't out of date is the information on what a worst-case natural disaster scenario looks like. Read, consider and re-evaluate your preps in light of the information. I will be.

Not helping

Seth Smith, the owner and operator of Aynor Armory Firearms Research and Manufacturing in Aynor, SC, is not helping gunnies out.

Speaking to a local news outlet on the subject of bumpfire stocks, he's quoted as saying “It’s definitely not something that needs to be in anybody’s hands."

While he may be correct on some of his technical pronouncements on the subject, we need to present a unified front in the face of our enemy, who has already taken statements made within the gun community on the subject of bumpfire stocks and ran with them.

This isn't the time for grabbing some free publicity, political games, reaching out or any of the rest of it. Right now, we have to knock the gun grabbers flat. After that, once emotions have cooled, maybe then there can be some talk about the subject. But right now, let's all tend carefully to what we put out there.

In which a liberal writer

Learns that none of her anti-gun ideas would actually do any good in the real world.

I have to give credit where credit is due to author Leah Libresco for writing that piece. Far too many who believe as she does would have simply kept quiet after discovering those facts, or may have simply discarded them and written what they started to write anyway. While she and I will never see eye-to-eye on the issue of guns, at least she has the intellectual honesty to admit the facts didn't support her thesis.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

I must haz hit the Big Times

Like most people who blog, I probably attract one comment per hundred plus readers. So I'm thrilled to find 6 comments awaiting moderation.

All spam. I can make my girlfriend com crawling back to me (Sorry, I'm married, no time for a girlfriend), I can make a certain body part grow or be harder (OK, this has possibilities if true) or I can increase my Google rankings (Don't give a flip).

You readers are going to have to start finding something to say, even if it's just "You suck!" This spam is depressingly low quality. What ever happened to the funny 419 messages?

Monday, October 09, 2017

Give 'em an inch

And Diane Feinstein will take every firearm accessory she can ban. This is yet another example why there is no way that gunnies can actually cut a deal with gun grabbers.

Here's my deal. Offer an amendment to the Hearing Protection Act that bans bumpfire stock by name and clear description. I'll bet we can get that passed for you.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Yo! Lefties! Read up if you want a clue why we're not going to compromise on guns.

At the Federalist,  Meredith Dake-O'Connor write a very nice, civil piece titled "6 Reasons Your Right-Wing Friend Isn’t Coming To Your Side On Gun Control".

She hits the nail on the head on every one of them. In the gunniesphere, we have thoroughly hashed out every one of these, so no need to go over them in detail, although I will say the article is worth the time to read, as she does a good job pulling together the talking points. You might want to bookmark it for future reference.

While I still believe our side needs to come up with at least one well thought-out proposal that we can live with that would help with the spree killer thing, she is quite right when she says we aren't coming to their side. The NRA is taking increasing heat over their poorly considered endorsement of a bump fire stock ban, and it's only going to get worse. Sorry Wayne and Chris, but calling it as I see it. I'm a Benefactor Member and You. Have. Pissed. Me. Off. I threw two fundraising items from the NRA and the ILA unopened into the recycling bin yesterday, and that is going to keep happening until you screw your heads back out of your asses. I won't resign my membership like some foolishly do, but I won't fund your stupidity either. You can sit in Fairfax and...whatever.

I do believe, however, that Meredith missed a few reasons that we won't be coming to the Lefties side on gun control, and I'd like to toss them out here.

Reason #7: You insist on personally insulting us and threatening us with theft and bodily harm. While this is in part contained in some of the earlier reasons, it needs to be pulled out as a stand alone. You want to take our property--our guns, ammo and accessories--by force and without compensation. You threaten to do this by force, and cowardly enough, by using the coercive force of government. You don't even have the minimal guts of the Antifa, who will at least pick up a stick and fight for themselves. You are, in effect, making the case for the Second Amendment that was the very reason the Founding Fathers had for writing it into the Constitution in the first place. Not smart.

Reason #8: Hypocrisy: While there are many "little people" who would like us to give up our guns, the loudest voices come from elected officials and famous people who have the wherewithal to have either state-funded or private armed security to protect them. Yet they would have us be denied the most effective form of self-defense that exists. That doesn't sit well with most of us.

Reason #9: Because Fuck You. Yes, Fuck You. And you, and you and you, and particularly you. Because we see through you. We know that "gun control" itself is just "a good first step." For you, the removal of our gun rights is simply part of a greater project in which you self-appointed smarter-than-everyone-else-in-the-room types will tell all of us how to live, because we're too damn dumb to figure it our ourselves. Well, Fuck You. We know what you're up to. We've seen this movie before. We're not going to get in the box cars quietly. We won't answer that 3 AM knock on the door bare-handed. We will not be sent to re-education camps without a fight.

Yeah, I'm not a civil as Ms. Meredith Dake-O'Connor. I'm a ticked off old fart who is over the BS. As so many others have said, we had a conversation on guns, and you lost the debate. Get off my lawn.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Dear NRA

This was most definitely not what I had in mind when I said "At some point, we gunnies are going to have to come up with some workable ideas to help reduce the number of these acts." This is nothing more than acting like the old NRA that we know and detest. And an extra swat on the behind for bringing up national reciprocity in the same press release. If it's poor form for the gun grabbers, it's poor form for you. Bad NRA/NRA-ILA, no contributions for a while.

My state's bulldog organization, however, probably isn't taking the right track either. Of course, this is just my opinion, YMMV.

I still don't have a fully fleshed-out proposal to offer that I think would actually help. If we're going to be stuck with the NICS system, I'd like to see it ran well, with all states supplying all the necessary information on a timely basis. I'd also like to see it available to all classes of FFL, and if we could figure out a workable way, to everyone, so that face-to-face sales could be checked. I'd also want to know that the use records really, really are provably destroyed at the end of the allowable retention limits. That would at least give everyone a way to ensure they aren't selling to a prohibited person and would shut up all the crap about the alleged gun show loophole.

I suspect I'll see world peace before I see that. Besides, from all available information, it wouldn't have prevented the Las Vegas shooter from holding his little death party.

It's unfortunately quite likely there is nothing we can do, and that the possibility of these attacks are simply part and parcel of living in a relatively free and open society. I would wish it wasn't so, but you can't wish away reality.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Spree Killing, Part n

As Joel at The Ultimate Answer to Kings so elegantly put it, “Oh, hell. Here we go again.”

That's not to belittle the deaths or the suffering. Those are very, very real. For what pathetically little it's worth, I'm sorry this happened.

For me, it's to belittle all the "Our thoughts and prayers" messages, especially the ones from politicians and stars who have no involvement in this whatsoever but who just want to virtue signal. It's to belittle all the gun grabbers who couldn't even wait a decent 15 minutes before they started dancing in the blood. It's to belittle all the well-meaning nincompoops on our side trying to find some way to pin this on the Democrats, psychotropic drugs or Moms Against Something Or Other. It's to belittle the media idiots who feel that it's their God-given right and duty to comment on things that they know less than nothing about. It's to belittle all those idiots who think another law, or fifty or a hundred, will solve the problem. It's to belittle fools who think that any attempt to even consider doing something about the problem is an intolerable infringement on the Second Amendment. It's to belittle the fools that think we need to do away with the Second Amendment. It's to belittle the media who eggs on the next killer with their wall-to-wall coverage.

In short, it's to belittle all the same crap we hear every time some sick, warped individual decides go out and try for a new High Score.

At some point, we gunnies are going to have to come up with some workable ideas to help reduce the number of these acts. Yes, I understand how few in number they are and that firearms deaths are trending down. No, I don't know what those ideas might be, although I have a couple of not even half-baked ideas. But as a community we had better figure it out and soon, before we have something we don't want shoved down our throats. The voting public will eventually perceive this as a problem. Perception is reality and you'd better deal with that reality before it deals with you.

We won Sandy Hook, and we'll probably win this one, but how many more such victories can we stand?

Thursday, September 28, 2017

So this is where the 7 day pain pill business is coming from

(Via the Drudge Report)

It seems our own government is going back to a failed idea from yesteryear--we're going to restrict pain meds that work for people who actually need them because other people abuse them. This, ladies and gentlemen is a crock of horse shit. It smack of what we gunnies rail about after every mass shooting when they want to restrict the gun rights of law abiding citizens because a criminal committed crimes with a gun.

Oh, but Mr. Freeholder, they're going to come up with new and non addictive pain meds. It says so right there in the article! Yeah, and that's what  Oxycontin was supposed to be, Sparky. Here's the down low on pain meds that help people who have the serious, intractable type of pain: They're all addictive. Based on the little pharmacological knowledge I picked up many years ago, I seriously doubt you can come up with an effective pain med for that level of pain that won't be addictive.

There are other, non-pharmacological methods than can give folks relief, but they don't work for everyone. The drugs work for almost everyone, but if you keep someone on them long enough, they become addicted to them.

You know what? I don't have a problem with that. If the choice is a lifetime of debilitating pain or relief but being hooked on the drug that gives me the relief, hand over the pills. I've seen people who have committed suicide because they couldn't stand the pain any longer and they couldn't get relief any way other than a bullet through their head. Three times I've seen this, and it was unnecessary, because the drugs were there to help them. But OMG, we might make them an addict!

I'm pretty damn sure one of my best friends' wife would like to have her brother and her sister back. I'm also pretty damn sure one of my old girlfriends' would like to have her brother back. Three lives lost because they were denied effective relief from constant pain.

Prepare to return to the good old days of endless suffering because the effective pain meds are going to be off limits. Prepare to see people self-medicating. Prepare to see people resorting to the black market, otherwise known as street drugs. Prepare for the suicides. Prepare to see all the unintended but totally predictable consequences we saw the last time we went down this lunatic lane.

Donald Trump, I voted for you, but there are times you're as stupid a fucking idiot as has ever sat in the White House. This is one of them. You need to un-ass yourself. Otherwise, the blood will be on your hands.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The de-Googlefication continues

Slowly, step by sometimes painful step, I continue to extract Google from my life.

Today it was about the browser. I've been using Microsoft's Edge browser on my mian laptop, a Window's 10 machine. It works OK, but there are a lot of extensions I used with Chrome that simply don't exist for Edge, which meant Chrome kept hanging around. An old friend of this blog, Jed from Freedomsight, had suggested Opera, Seamonkey or Firefox. Well, for reasons stated in an earlier post, Firefox is out.

I tried Opera last night on a different machine, and it seemed to work quite well, and it also had a lot of the browser extensions I was looking for (or at least similar extensions). However, when I tired it on my main laptop today, it exhibited all sorts of weirdness. The other machine is Windows 7, so that may be the issue. In any event, I need something that runs on both versions of Windows.

So off to Bing. Still getting used to it's quirks, and I don't care for the way they serve their ads, but it isn't Google. TechRepublic has an article on "Five free alternative web browsers for Windows", which sounded worth a look. Number 3 was SRWare Iron.

Iron is a Chromium-based browser, which means it is based on Google code. However, it is based on the open source part of the code, and SRWare has eliminated much of the code Google added in to tie the browser to Google services. Some parts do remain, such as the ability to log into Google for personalizations, but it seems much of the under the hood stuff is gone. From my standpoint, all the extensions I was used to having have been downloaded and work. I can substitute XMarks for Google's bookmarks sync (and more if I want to pay for it, which I well may), but I'll have to sync extensions myself. That is a minor annoyance.

I'm still exploring the differences of this browser. It does seem a bit slower, but since that comes and goes it may be from another cause. It hasn't crashed so far, and I've pretty much abused it. It unfortunately doesn't come in an iOS version, which sucks. SRWare provides a specialized search engine interface which is supposed to neuter your favorite search engine's privacy-offensive features. Still using Bing at the moment, but I'll play around with Google and see who it works.

So if you find yourself in the market for a new browser for whatever reason, give Iron a shot. So far I'm glad I did.

Monday, September 25, 2017

See-through suppressors

(Via Michael Z. Williamson on Facebook)

These are simply too cool. Suppressors with the normal outer shell replaced cast acrylic and filmed with a high-speed camera.


This one comes with bonus footage of the CMP Talladega Range facility. That looks road trip worthy in and of itself.

Who and what do you trust?

For months now we've heard the term "fake news" hurled about. We've also heard that "facts are fungible".

There is a certain amount of truth in both. There is now and has always been fake news, news that is heavily slanted in order to push a certain agenda. There is even the famous story of William Randolph Hearst who replied to a January 1897 cable from correspondent Fredrick Remington which read "Everything is quiet. There is no trouble. There will be no war. I wish to return." with "Please remain. You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war." History shows were we went from there.

Facts are also often in the eye of the beholder. "The winners write the history books." How many history books are being re-written as we discover that events were mis-reported, not reported or outright covered up?

Let's cast all this in terms of the now seemingly discredited "global warming", which has lately been rebranded as "climate change" because the fetishists who were pushing it got tired of memes like this one.

In a number of threads on the late Dr. Jerry Pournelle's Chaos Manor site a number of very smart folks poked huge holes in the data being used to "prove" global warming. These holes usually revolved around the inaccuracy of the data, which often dated back 100+ years, and was gathered under questionable circumstances using instruments that left more than a little to be desired in the accuracy department.

It also didn't help their case when it was found that current instruments were apparently being sited in such a way as to...let's say skew the numbers. It got worse for them when they were caught outright fudging the numbers.

At any rate, eventually the fetishists decided to rebrand their cause as "climate change," because the covers all the bases. If the climate is getting warmer, "Ermagehrd, it's Climate Change!" If it's getting cooler, "Ermagehrd, it's Climate Change!"

Even though I don't agree with the hysteria this crowd is trying to gin up (Hey, you gotta justify your funding somehow), I do agree that climate changes. Eventually. I'll never see it, and I doubt my great-great-great-great grandkids will, but it will change over time. Sea levels will go up, sea levels will go down. Average temp will go up, average temp will go down. So on and so forth. But I don't think that it's something we need to lose our minds about.

That's why this ticks me off.

Hurricane Irma was no doubt a stone bitch. People died and a lot of damage was done. You don't have to exaggerate in order for people to get it. Watch the freaking news. Look at Barbuda for an example. But if what this data shows is correct, then we are outright being lied to about the seriousness of the storm in the context of what happened in the US. By the time it hit Naples, the data and the evidence on the ground says it was a much less dangerous storm than it had been, perhaps as low as a Category 1 hurricane. As you can see in the short video below, there is a fair of difference between a Category 1 hurricane and a Category 3.



If you watch the videos from Naples, you'll see a lot of flooding, but you won't see the level of damage that you should see with a Category 3 hurricane. Don't trust me, go look on YouTube. I have. Even in the Keys, the damage appears to be mostly from flooding. Wind-related damage isn't nearly as bad as a Category 4 hit, which they are said to have sustained, would indicate. Well-built structures fail completely in Category 4 hurricanes. How many mobile homes are still standing in some of those pictures?

So, are we being lied to by our government (yet again)? If so, why? Or is it the weather and news industries, desperate to have the storm live up to the hype? If we were lied to, someone should be held responsible. The fact that the storm died down before it hit the US is something we should be rejoicing in, not hiding because if failed to meet the needs of someone's agenda.

Yes, I am getting very conspiratorially minded these days.


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Our judgement is better than your doctor's

I'm not a big fan of The War On (Some) Drugs. The crimes committed in its name are legion. But something that is often overlooked are the non-crimes, the things that are done by those who are attempting to avoid being caught up in one of the multitudinous snares of the law or, worse yet, the acts of the virtue signalers.

That last one peeves the crap out of me. The latest and so far most egregious case I've seen is this crap from the CVS drug store chain, whose CVS Health CEO is the mouthpiece for their corporate decision that they know better than your doctor just how much pain meds you need.

“As America’s front door to health care with a presence in nearly 10,000 communities across the country, we see firsthand the impact of the alarming and rapidly growing epidemic of opioid addiction and misuse,” said Larry J. Merlo, President and CEO, CVS Health. “Today we are announcing an expansion of our enterprise initiatives to fight the opioid abuse epidemic that leverages CVS Pharmacy’s national presence with the capabilities of CVS Caremark, which manages medications for nearly 90 million plan members.”

To support this goal, CVS Caremark will roll out an enhanced opioid utilization management approach for all commercial, health plan, employer and Medicaid clients as of February 1, 2018 unless the client chooses to opt out. This program will include limiting to seven days the supply of opioids dispensed for certain acute prescriptions for patients who are new to therapy; limiting the daily dosage of opioids dispensed based on the strength of the opioid; and requiring the use of immediate-release formulations of opioids before extended-release opioids are dispensed.


The big problem with this isn't for CVS customers, who can presumably got to another drug store. It's for those whose healthcare insurance has farmed out the prescription plan portion of the insurance to CVS Caremark. Caremark will simply refuse coverage for prescriptions that runs for too long, or where the dosage is too high or where an extended-release drug is prescribed. Caremark, in effect, has decided that they are smarter than your doctor and that they know better than your doc, who has actually seen you in person and evaluated your situation, how your pain should be treated.

Yes, Virginia, there is an opioid drug crisis in America. I just returned from West Virginia, which can be said to be ground zero for it. I've seen the damage it does. I've also seen the unintended consequences of the crackdown on prescription opioid abuse, which is a switchover to heroin and a spike in HIV infections. So far, no one seems to care much about that. I guess because those people are now criminals and are no longer sympathetic, like the poor are. No, I don't know what the solution is. Yeah, treatment and such. Maybe a government that doesn't try to destroy your livelihood would be a good thing. Hope that you and your kids actually have a future in the place you love wouldn't hurt.

If there is any justice in the world the jackasses like CVS Caremark and their virtue signaling CEO and presumably board of directors will find themselves in serious, intractable physical pain someday, and denied the effective meds to deal with it.

Because denying people with a legitimate need is always the best way to deal with the illegal use of a legal product.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

There are days when something slaps you in the face

As I age, I have more and more experiences where I feel like something has slapped me in the face. Sometimes it's unpleasant, like the loss of a treasured possession to wear, breakage or theft. Others, it's more like those little taps you see someone do in an old movie when they're trying to bring someone who has passed out back to sensibility.

A good while back, you may remember I talked about going back to old-fashioned shaving with a safety razor. I wish I was still steady enough to use a straight razor, but the migraines have stolen a number of things from me, that level of steadiness of hand among them. At any rate, being a prepper, I had a stash of canned shaving crème, and I wasn't about to waste the stuff, so I've been slowly using it up over time.

I'm just about out. It's time to take the next step--back to a mug, brush and proper shaving soap. Off to Amazon. And then a couple of the add-ins I use to track prices zoom me off to eBay instead, because I can get the same nice badger hair brush there for a few bucks less. Color me frugal. I'm retired; the money doesn't come in the same quantities any more.

In all truth, I should always have been so careful. I was once I found the tools, but I should have looked for them sooner. It's worth keeping Chrome around to use Honey and Wikibuy. You can get Honey as a Firefox add-in I see when looking up the link for them. Options are good.

At any rate, I also need a mug. I guess I could just use a mug that's sitting around the house, but there are also proper shaving mugs that fit shaving soap pucks. So I looked on Amazon and saw nothing I liked. I tried eBay, and found a far wider selection, including a lot of "vintage" ones, some inexpensive and some at unholy prices.

Then I was slapped in the face. Fortunately it was just the picture of a shaving mug and not the mug itself. But it was a blast from the far past, call it high school. When I was in high school, I was a total dork. Utter and complete. One of the many things that branded me a dork was a penchant for old ways. I carried a pocket watch for one thing. On a chain. And although people didn't know it, I shaved with a straight razor and shaving soap that lived in a mug. I couldn't find an old mug, so I bought a new one. It was an Old Spice mug, with the Cutty Sark on it. I used an old brush my dad had around for some reason or another.

I told you I was a dork.

So there I am, going through the mug shots, and there are some Old Spice mugs. They're different from the one I had, and I kept going, looking for an old one that spoke to me. I found an old one that spoke to me. One exactly like the one I had, with a brush exactly like the one I used--a red and white Erskine brush. To make things even weirder, it's local, about 30 miles away. It even comes with a note from the owner. Yes, it's on the way.

I know my dad sold my old one in a yard sale. So what are the odds that this one is my old one? I'd say stupidly high. They must have made the things by the railroad car load, even back in the 70s.

But still that picture slapped me lightly in the face, and said "See here, boy. You may have been a dork, but don't be an idiot."

I'm learning to pay attention to slaps in the face and listen to quiet little voices in the night.

Friday, September 22, 2017

A quiet voice

Last week, I went to West Virginia for the unhappy duty of attending a family funeral. My family on both sides are Baptists and have been for generations. They have attended mostly smaller, more fundamental and evangelical Baptist churches. I was raised in a larger but still pretty fundamental Baptist church, so I'm steeped in it from birth.

I will also note that I stopped going to church regularly as a teenager. It isn't that I don't believe, but that version of church simply didn't speak to me then. It doesn't exactly speak to me now, but it does come a lot closer than it did. I've seen a lot more of life and I question a lot of things I once was sure of.

At any rate, the funeral was for a cousin's wife, so this was family by marriage. Still, this is West Virginia and her family is much like mine. Also, in West Virginia, things like funerals are often done differently than they are in more...metropolitan areas. Often, especially when one is "up in years", the visitation, funeral and burial are held together on the same day. My cousin's wife was at the low end of the up in years scale, but her family is old WV, and they work for a living. No life on public handouts and no pills and booze in this bunch. So for the sake of frugality in both cost and time, her services were set for one day. Family visitation at 10, friends from 11 to 1, funeral at 1 and burial to follow at the family cemetery in the next county over. (We'll talk about the burial another time, because it's a story in itself.)

She was from a family of 7 brothers and sisters, and they had followed the biblical injunction to be fruitful and multiply. I'm not sure how many of their kids there were. There was no way to count grandkids, because they moved too fast. She also had plenty of friends, including those who had cared for her in the final months when her health declined. They all showed up for the service. I should draw such a crowd at my funeral.

The preacher (that's what we call them) was about her age, and had known all of them since they had all grown up as kids. He had been pastor to many of them over the years. I could tell he took this hard. This funeral was as rough on him as it was on any of us, and rougher than it was for many. But he was going to do his duty to a member of his flock.

Now, at any sort of a Baptist event, there is going to be an altar call--you never miss an opportunity to save a soul. Even at a funeral, you're going to have one. I remember the first family funeral Mrs. Freeholder, who was raised as a proper Methodist, attended. Shocked is a bit of an understatement.

She would have passed out cold at this one. The preacher was obviously moved in a way that you rarely see in a minister at a funeral. Rather than speak of the dearly departed's life, which he knew we all knew in detail, he decided to speak about hope, and how one found hope in a situation like this. He spoke of the Word and the Promise of God and how the departed was surely in Heaven, and that we could find our hope by being saved and knowing that we would join our family and friends there in due course.

I'm not sure, but it may have been the longest alter call at a funeral in history. It was definitely the longest one I've ever experienced. It didn't seem in the least out of place.

One thing he said, though, has been resonating in my head. I've always said that I have the "soul of an engineer", and that I have a difficult time believing in things I can't see, can't quantify, can't measure. Some years back, someone heard me say that, and asked if I believed in mathematics. Well obviously that's a "yes". So they hit me with set theory. Right down there to the left is what he nailed me with.

Pretty simplistic, but also damn hard to argue with. Enough to turn someone who thought of himself as "agnostic leaning atheist" into "What just happened to my world view?" I've always held that there were many things that we couldn't explain simply because we didn't know enough to understand them. Asimov said that "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic," which is, in its on way, another version of the same sentiment. He didn't know this about me. He simply drew this on a napkin and laid it in front of me.

I can remember hearing, Sunday after Sunday, that you had to take the existence of God on faith. You couldn't prove it. You had to make that leap. I just never was able to make it.

After seeing that diagram, I always hoped that God was going to give me some sort of unmistakable sign, some sort of flashing billboard on the highway of my life that even someone as dense as I can be couldn't miss or misinterpret. I still had to have my proof. "Lord, send me a sign!"

But that thing the preacher said is resonating in my head. "God's not going to shout it to you. You have to be quiet, be still, like you're out hunting. At night, after you go to bed but before you go to sleep, you need to be still, and listen for that quiet voice in the silence. Because God doesn't shout."

"He whispers."

Thursday, September 21, 2017

So yeah, I've been laying low

I've been busy. I don't even remember if I've noted that the New Employer and I have parted ways (there's a long story for another time), but I've been taking advantage of the freedom and the fall-like weather to catch up on things that I've let slip around here. It's amazing how anything that steals the first few hours of the day from you hammers your productivity for the remainder of the day. That's not something that I ever noticed up until now, because it was always "Into work and hit it hard." A part-time job that stole those first precious hours was worse for my non-work productivity than a full-time job ever was. I would get home at 1 or so, grab a bite and then the next thing I knew, it was supper time and I'd accomplished exactly squat.

I've accumulated some tabs that all deserve better than a tab-clearing post, and they are going to get it, even if it takes some time to work through the backlog. I've also had a couple of experiences that deserve the same. You won't get them in a specific order other than how I decide to write them.

As is the nature of blogs, this post will get pushed down by those posts, so I'm going to throw it up and then start writing the next one, which I'll schedule for posting. I think the thing I've recently learned about productivity is about as important as any of the others posts, so it deserves it's time in the sun.

Monday, September 11, 2017

New firearms parts resources

(Found on Facebook)

While they may not be new to you, They're new to me. Jack First Gun Parts is another online resource for hard-to-find parts for old guns. I've used Numrich for years, but it never hurts to have alternatives.

Another resource is Out Back Gun Parts. They do have a web site, but you have to call them to find out about parts availability or to order. According to their minimal web site, "We currently inventory approximately 6 million gun parts and could not possibly list everything we carry." As an IT person I'm not buying that, but it's their business, they can run it as they wish. I'll keep them on my list, but they will be at the bottom. I like convenience. It's not convenient to have to call you.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

All Irma, all the time

My apologies if things around here feel like it's "All Irma, all the time", but when you have a storm of this magnitude in the neighborhood, it is.

As of 0800 Irma was officially rated as a Category 4 storm with winds of 130 MPH after her interaction with the island of Cuba. However, strengthening is expected.

Irma's predicted track continues to slide to the west. The Georgia coast is now out of the cone of uncertainty as is all of South Carolina and all but a tiny sliver of North Carolina. Given the storm's size we'll still feel the effects. At my location, the current forecast is for 24-36 hours of winds up to 35 MPH and 2+ inches of rain. Compared to what things looked like earlier in the week, I'll take it.

However, I am mindful that others will now be getting the weather that I had expected. As you can see in the graphic, the cone of uncertainty is ballooning going into Wednesday/Thursday. This is likely in part due to the number days out on the forecast (chicken bones again), but it also due to the storm's interaction with the continental land mass and interactions with other weather systems which themselves are only marginally predictable at this point. Also note that there is only a little movement predicted between Wednesday and Thursday--a Hurricane Harvey scenario. Let's hope that some steering currents show up and keep her moving.

I also picked this tidbit up on Facebook. It's from Eric Burris, a meteorologist with WESH-TV in Florida. It shows the sizes of Hurricane Andrew and Hurricane Irma. Note that, with Irma's size, when the eye hits the southernmost part of Florida the outermost edge will be in central Georgia. This is one big storm. I know there is a lot of hype going on around it, but I don't know  that's a bad thing this time around.

I'll be back this evening after the 5 PM forecast is released. In the meantime, I'm still going through my prep routine, just in case the weather decides to throw me a big curve ball.

Edit, 9/9/2017, 18000: Irma has dropped to a Category 3 storm and her forecasted track continues to move to the west. This is causing some consternation in Florida, as areas on the Gulf Coast that apparently thought they would somehow magically be spared from a storm that can swallow Florida whole are now behind the curve in preparing to take the hit. Despite the fact I'm shaking my head in disbelief at such hubris, I wish them well in getting ready for the storm.

The outer bands of the storm are already over Florida and the storm is expected to strengthen. I've been watching various Florida webcams from time to time today. So far all that can be seen is wind, some rain and empty streets. It seems most people have taken this seriously.

The current forecast track appears to put landfall at or near the Tampa/Clearwater/St. Petersburg area. After making landfall, the track would have Irma continuing up the coast, passing between Birmingham and Atlanta, then over western Tennessee and curving into Missouri.

My home state of North Carolina is now completely out of the cone of uncertainty. Our weather forecast for the Monday/Tuesday period is now calling for winds no higher than 25 MPH and 1.3" of rain total.

I won't lie and say that I'm not perfectly happy to have this thing go somewhere besides here. I do hate it for the people who are in the path of it, because they are going to catch hell.

Given that, barring some seriously odd quirk of fate, Irma isn't going to be much of an event here, I'll stop inflicting my amateur coverage of it on you unless there is some major story that's directly prepping related. I had hoped to have one of my own, but honestly this was about the same as getting ready for a major snow storm  here, minus the snow. At least I had a good excuse to PM the generator.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Passings, indeed

It is my unhappy duty to report the death of Dr. Jerry Pournelle.

He was one of the writers who helped shape a lot of who I am and who I have become. A world with no new Pournelle novels to look forward to is a darker world than I prefer to consider right now.

Irma: No news is good news

There is no good news on the hurricane front. The models that were predicting a turn toward the open sea are all gone now. Barring divine intervention, Florida is going to take it in the shorts. North Carolina and South Carolina are looking at a decreased impact, although that means others will now take the hit on our place. Not that we'll escape Irma's wrath, mind you. We can still expect high winds and flooding rains over large portions of both states.

I'm still working on my preparations as if nothing has changed. That cone of uncertainty can move right back, and I've seen hurricanes do odd things before, especially right at landfall.

I'll check back in after the 5 PM update.

Edit, 9/8/2017, 1924: It seems that Irma has decided to follow Horace Greely's advice to "Go west". Nearly all of North and South Carolina are out of the cone of uncertainty at this point, although we will surely still feel the effects. Florida will still be hammered, and Atlanta is now bracing for a hard hit, as is Tennessee. If you're of a mind, pray for those in the path of the storm. They can use all the help they can get.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

On the practical side

I've been cruising a Facebook group that's dedicated to one of the areas Mrs. Freeholder and I are considering as a possible retirement location. It has in common with most of our locations a "beachy" locale, which at the moment means it's under threat from Irma.

This one is just outside of the current "cone of uncertainty", and a lot of people are on the fence on leaving. Me, I'd leave, but a lot of people fall in love with houses. So I'm trying to dispense a little bit of helpful knowledge; things they can still do in the time they have to put themselves in a better position if things do get rough. I thought I'd share them here. Maybe some of you will find yourselves in a position to share them as well.

These are all from Steven Harris, a frequent guest on Jack Spirko's The Survival Podcast. Steven's background is in automotive engineering, but he is a fair whiz at a lot of technical subjects.

The first is his "over-arching site", Steven1234.com. You can get to any of this stuff from there with some digging. It's a bit...wordy.

The two really important ones for our current issue are Solar1234.com, in particular the "How to Power Your House from Your Car with an Inverter" podcast. The next is BeforeTheStormHits.com. This one is the "You have screwed up and not evacuated and have limited time to get ready" podcast. You have to sign up but it's a freebie. Both are Good Stuff.

Let's go do some good out there.

Continuing with Hurricane Irma

I wish I was able to say "What a difference a day makes." Maybe I can, but not in a good way, especially not for those of us further inland on the east coast.

Based on the current projected track, it looks like we'll see two landfalls, one in Florida somewhere around Miami and one near the GA-SC border. After that, Irma will move inland, and if things go as they normally do, weaken rapidly. That will be cold comfort to those who will still be hit with tropical storm force winds and deluged by many inches of rain. Many of these areas already have had a wet summer, so the ground is pretty wet and rivers and lakes are full or nearly so.

I keep up with the area near Myrtle Beach, SC as we have friends there and it is one of our potential retirement areas. Rivers there are already at or above flood stage. While the current track spares them some of the worst weather, they will still get a lot of wind and rain, and things will get bad fast. This is one single example of what is awaiting a huge and heavily populated swath of the southeastern US. Folks, we're going to have a bad week next week.

The news is full of stories, video and photos from the Caribbean showing wide-scale disaster. We're also getting reports from Florida that the evacuation is going as well as we preppers would expect it to. Gas stations are running dry despite government efforts to get fuel supplies in. Stores are running out of supplies of water, food, batteries and so on as desperate people who have come to the realization they can't get out or who won't leave are preparing to go to ground and ride the storm out. Walmart and Home Depot among others are trying to send in fresh supplies, but it will be a case of "too little, too late" as it always is. May the Lord lay his protection over them during their hour of need.

Those of us further north still have considerably more time to prepare for a storm that will not be as bad, but that will still cause us no end of trouble. I remember Hugo all too well. We were spared the worst, but I had friends who were out of power for a week or more. Stores were closed because of no power--it seems that no one can sell anything without a functioning point of sale system these days.

Obviously I'm going to keep watching this storm, and I'm going to keep posting about it as time permits. Today I'm making grocery store runs. I'd do that anyway today, but these will be a bit larger than normal due to the storm. I'll also make a few other stops to top off a couple of items we've allowed to run low as we do on a seasonal basis.

Tomorrow is the day I'll service the generator, blow off the pine needles on the roof and give it a good once over and begin battening down the hatches, so to speak. There really isn't much I can do besides putting up things that could blow around, but the activity makes me feel that I'm doing what I can not be a problem.

As we move closer to Tuesday and Wednesday, we will be charging batteries and battery-powered devices, making sure laundry is done and so on. Any last minute items I can think of will also be attended to.

When I was younger, this sort of thing was an excuse to "have an adventure". Hell, I'd probably go to the beach to get the experience. I was pretty stupid when I was younger. Now, I'm older, perhaps wiser, and a sight more concerned about what can happen when the weather goes bad. Within the last few years I've had friends and family flooded out, a tree on my own house, seen roofs collapse from too much snow in a part of the country that doesn't usually see it, killing frosts too early, spring in February and so on. The weather, for lack of a better term, has been weird.

I'm hardly a Global Warming fetishist, and I'm not jumping on the "Ermagherd Climate Change!" bandwagon. However, I'm not unaware that climate does change, and some of the changes don't happen over thousands or tens of thousands or millions of years, and I'm really starting to wonder.

The kid who was raised a Southern Baptist is also starting to wonder if we're not at the beginning of some of the tastier parts of the book of Revelations. No man can know the mind of God, so until there is a truly undeniable sign, I'll just have to wonder.

Whatever it is, I don't like it. Perhaps it's just age, and I'm starting to feel my mortality creeping up on me. But Things Are Getting Too Weird For My Taste.

Edit, 9/7/2017, 1823:  The latest word from the weather mavens still has Florida in the bulls eye, with the storm coming onshore for good in pretty much the same area as this morning. The predicted course is no further west than it was this morning, but that still in the chicken bones area of the forecast. Weather Underground has a good write-up on the whole thing.

One thing I noticed while I was out and about is that some people here are taking this seriously. I assume Hugo is in their minds as it is mine. No panic, but the big thing I noticed was water and easy to prepare food disappearing off the shelves. Not a run yet, but the weekend might be interesting.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Time for a Public Service Announcement

(Image and links via the Drudge Report)


This is not a joke. If you're in the path of this hurricane your life is in danger. This isn't an excuse for a party. This isn't an opportunity to test your preps. If you are in the area that takes a direct hit from Hurricane Irma, this is Armageddon.

If you're in the maybe 100 mile wide path of the worst winds, this is a storm with winds like an EF4 tornado that will go on for hours. Unless you happen to have a concrete and steel-reinforced tornado shelter, you probably won't be around for the full experience, because there is a very good chance you will be DEAD. Feel free to write your name and Social Security Number on your arm with a Sharpie. They might find your body.

185 MPH winds are not something to trifle with. These are images of what an EF4 tornado does. Imagine that sort of wind when it has a few hours to do its work. This thing is showing up on seismographs. This is not something to fuck with.

If you're near the coast where Irma makes landfall, you're also going to get the Storm Surge From Hell. I don't want to think of how much water 185 MPH winds can pile up. I suspect it will be epic. Add in flooding rains, and the damage from water will add insult to injury.

This is one of those situations where the best thing to do is bug out. Get your family, your valuables, your critters and put 500 miles between you and this bitch. Watch it on TV.

As of this writing, it looks like Florida, starting with the Keys, is the target zone. Irma is going to monster walk right up the peninsula and then barrel up the East Coast in some form or fashion. I'm starting to make my preparations, basing this on storms like Hurricane Hugo, which have come inland, still packing a considerable punch. If we take a hit, it will be bad, but nothing like Florida.

You folks in Florida still have days to make your move. Make the right one. Leave.

Edit, 9/6/2017, 1520: The 5 PM track update has Irma taking a harder turn to the north than this morning. If this track holds. it's a good thing for Florida and a bad thing for those of us further north. Of course, we are talking about a weather forecast for 4-5 days out, so this is only somewhat better than reading chicken bones. The change doesn't make me change my advice one whit, but it does make me expand it further north. Now folks in the Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina coastal areas, as well as those as far as 100-150 miles inland are in the bulls eye. Maybe we'll get lucky and the turn will just keep on increasing and Irma will head out into the Atlantic and scare the fishes.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Eating my words

Well, to today to an extent. Eventually I get to eat them all.

Last week I was smirking about how I like making Google foot the bill for me saying things that they wouldn't approve of. This week, they have to go do something stupid enough that I finally feel it's time to do a little something to begin de-Googling my life.

God certainly hates a smartass, doesn't he?

It isn't like I haven't considered it before. Google used to be the "Do no evil" folks. Well, they've blown that off for years. Cooperating with China to block their population from freely accessing information, slowly but surely impinging more and more on their users' privacy, their increasing internal ideological purity requirements--all of it has sit increasing less and less well with me. But the difficulty and amount of work, plus the issue of most of the options being less useful and less usable, has kept me in the Google fold.

Well, that's stopping now. It's going to take a while, and it's going to cost me some money, up front and probably in on-going costs, but Google and I are getting a divorce. And I'm going to take all their shit out, pile it up in the yard and set it on fire.

The first thing is search. Right now I've swapped over to Bing, but I might go on over to DuckDuckGo. It will depend on the browser I decide to move to, because Chrome is on it's way out. I really want to go to the Brave browser, not only because it works, but because it was started by the guy Firefox ran out in a bout of political correctness.

Email will be a lot more work. I already have a Yahoo email, but I really like the look of Proton Mail. There are also some other alternatives out there, including getting my own domain or three and hosting my own. No matter what, it'll be a lot of work--all those email lists and such that I'll have to change.

This blog will be the biggest PITA. I can do a Squarespace site easy enough and they aren't horribly expensive. They also come with a handy website and some ecommerce abilities, which opens up the possibility of making this pay for itself. I know that I'll have a bunch of folks saying "WordPress!" WordPress is a big dog on the Internet, and there is a lot of ready-made stuff for it. But for the blog, I'm not going to be in a hurry.

Remember when you used to see these all over the Intertubz? Well get ready.

8/19/2017, 11:00 PM: I have just finished converting nearly all the web and forum logins I have to the new email address. I decided to go with Outlook.com for the email. Yes, I'm trading evil Google for evil Microsoft, but I find their corporate evil to be of a more palatable version. Plus it's free, no ads, and it allows me to consolidate my calendars, which simplifies my life and allows me to loose a kludgy piece of sync software. I didn't know how many logins I had and how many needed to be purged. I guess you need to do that bit of housekeeping every 15 years or so. I found a few websites that are throw-backs to the late 90s/early 2000s where I can't change my email address, and one browser add-in that won't work in the new browser of choice for now, MS Edge. Wheelgun has made an intriguing suggestion that I'm going to explore, along with some others. Brave unfortunately sin't working well for me, loading slowly, loading sites slowly and slowing down as more tabs are opened. I'm pretty disappointed at that.

This is being even more work than I expected, and I expected it to be a lot. I hope a freaking asteroid drops on the Googleplex.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

A modest proposal

(With apologies to Jonathan Swift. Link to "Rebel yell: Southern nationalists again crying 'secede'" via the Drudge Report)

I've discussed the concept that we're in the early stages of a civil war in this country a number of times; enough so that I feel no urge to rehash it. Let's look at another issue: Can we stop it before it gets out of hand?

In a number of science fiction books and series I've read, space travel and immigration to new colonies and planets served as a sort of "safety valve", allowing those who were fed up with the situation here on Earth (or another long settled world) to pull up stakes and leave for greener pastures. Obviously, we aren't in a position where we can do that just yet.

However, another possibility does present itself. I've read various predictions that the US might break up, a la the old Soviet Union. Igor Panarin is one of the better know of these, predicting that it would happen in 2010 after a civil war. History proves that he was a bit off with that prediction, though it may yet prove accurate.

What if, rather than waiting for it to happen amidst fire and sword, we, as a country, decided to voluntarily split? Various Southern groups have pushed this for years, and #Calexit has been a thing since President Trump's election last November. The State of Jefferson has been proposed three times in three places over the years, while the tongue-in-cheek Conch Republic could probably get of the ground tomorrow. Many in Hawaii would like to return to the days of their independence.

I can keep this up for a while, but I hope you see my point. The melting pot that we were all told about in school (well, if you're of a certain age, anyway) may very well never have really existed. Like the nations that were press-ganged into the Soviet Union, there are a lot of groups and areas in the US that would quite happily take their 40 acres and a mule and bail.

Would half of the North American continent suddenly split up into 6 or 8 or 25 nations be a good thing? Would it encourage the remaining large nations such as China and Russia to indulge themselves in empire building? Would the newly independent nations find themselves forming a new Confederation in order to defend themselves from Mexico or Germany or Fiji? Would it be like Europe before the EU, with periods of peace and war?

We have no way to know. I suspect it would be a calmer version of the old Europe with some sort of alliance structure for defense from powers off the continent, but that's a guess.

What I hope it could be is the safety valve that we desperately need. With a number a new, English-speaking nations, hopefully with governments of widely varying stripes, all co-located on the same continent, people could find one that relatively well suited their particular wants and desires and immigrate to it. Some would complain that the new nations would be echo chambers, but so what? Most people prefer to live and associate with those who are like them and who share similar beliefs. Acknowledging that and allowing it to occur peacefully and without interference in another country won't hurt you in yours.

I don't think it's likely to happen, but it's a thought.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Since we were speaking of Google

Breitbart is having a multi-part interview piece with those who are or have been behind enemy lines at Teh Googlez. Obviously there's no way for you or I to be sure of its veracity, but it makes for interesting reading. There are currently two parts out, you can start at Part One and work you way along.

Monday, August 07, 2017

I enjoy making Google publish this

Perhaps you've heard of the latest little row at Google--an employee had the temerity to publish his thoughts on the Google monoculture and suddenly is he is the primary target of SJWs everywhere, but especially those within Google itself. Because by virtue signalling at the top of our keyboards and Twitter accounts we're showing "It wasn't me!", natch. Or maybe you haven't. In the real world it honestly isn't of earth moving significance.

I'm waiting for the inevitable "Boycott Teh Googlez!" to start. As someone who uses Google's email service, search engine, browser and blogging platform, I'm not going to heed the call if it comes, thanks all the same.

First, as an email platform that I don't have to shell out my coin for, Gmail works. I rarely see their advertising, because I use it as an IMAP host. I don't care if they're reading my messages--so is the NSA, CIA, DIA and God knows who else. There is nothing in my email that I would give a rip about seeing on a billboard at this point in my life.

As a search engine, they are one of the best out there. You can do better with some of the metasearch engines, but when you need it quick, Google delivers. You don't want the ads? Use an ad blocker.

I use Chrome because it's support for extensions allows me to add tools to it I need. If Edge or Brave or Firefox or whoever can match it, I may well switch. So far, no one has and I'm not.

And as for Blogger, well, I like that one the best. It allows me to publish things for the entire Intertubz to read, things that would have those virtue signalling Googlites frothing at the mouth (I sincerely hope) and I. Get. To. Do. It. On. Google's. Dime.

Yeah, that's the part I like the best about all of it. Most of the people at Google would detest the hell out of me, but their effort is what allows me to find things, browse the Intertubz effectively and communicate, and their company pays for it all.

If necessary, I can replace all these services in a day or so of concentrated effort and it will probably cost me $30 a month. But I like taking advantage of Google a lot more. It's just a tiny bit of money they can't use to be evil. Smells like a win to me.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Will Amateur Radio become extinct?

It's an interesting question that has been thrashed around the table more than a few times. I know that my club is in trouble--our youngest member is in his 30s, and I, the next youngest, and nearly 60. I maintain our web site and the Silent Key list is growing by several members per year now. At this rate, in two or three more years, we won't have enough members to have a viable club.

We're not the only local club in this fix. There are a multitude of amateur radio clubs across the US and around the world that have this problem. Ham radio is perceived to be an "old guys' hobby", and to a distressing level, it's true. Tam jokes about the number of fat old white guys at gun shows, and she once remarked about attending a hamfest with Roberta X. I told here that she was going to the only place guaranteed to have more fat old white guys than a gun show, and unfortunately, that's all too true.

For those of you who have been to a hamfest recently, ask yourself "How many female hams did I see?" (And I don't mean wives being good sports.) "How many interested young people did I see?" "How many 'people of color' did I see?" I'll give you my answers. It was the last Charlotte, NC Hamfest, and I saw 1 female ham, no kids and no people of color.

I do a hell of a lot better than that a gun show, I'll tell you.

Our national organization, the ARRL, has had its head in the sand for years on this issue, paying it what is essentially lip service. I hate saying it, but as long as we've kept sending in our dues, they kept sitting in Newington and pretending "All is Well!" and playing patty cake with the government on spectrum issues.

Times may be changing.

According to a note that dropped into my inbox this morning from the ICQ Podcast, it seems that the president of that august group may have had a wake up call. This is from the ARRL's 2016 Annual Report (a document I never read, but apparently someone does), and was written by Rick Roderick, K5UR, the president of the ARRL:

“I prepared my usual talk about some interesting ham radio stories over my 50 years as a ham, how we can talk all over the world, and I brought some QSL cards from rare places to show the group. I have given that talk many times, and it usually impresses people — but not this time. I was surprised to see flat, uninterested faces.”

”I realized that I had to change my approach to the presentation if I was going to keep the attention of these young people. After all, what could ham radio offer people who grew up in homes that had computers hooked up to the internet? Today’s young people are used to riding down the interstate at 70 MPH as a passenger while watching high-definition videos on their iPhones.”

”What we’re hearing from what I call the “new-generation ham,” is that they don’t view ham radio as being about talking around the world, contesting, or traditional aspects of our hobby.”

”Change generally doesn’t come easy to us. But when I looked out at that group of young faces and saw their disinterest in traditional ham pursuits, I realized that I had to change. We have to change. It won’t come easy, but it’s essential that we get to work on it now.”

I note the he "prepared his usual talk". The ARRL once again doing the same old thing they've been doing for years, and he expected it to impress people. Really? Even senior citizens these days "are used to riding down the interstate at 70 MPH as a passenger while watching high-definition videos on their iPhones," there, Rick. You're going to have to come up with more than the same old to impress folks these days. Technophobes have nearly been driven to extinction. I literally don't know anyone who doesn't own a smart phone these days. You folks in the League might want to travel outside of the Newington Time Warp a little more often. And while I'm at it, for Pete's sake, can you build a more modern web site?

Honestly, I'm not sure what it's going to take to renew interest in amateur radio as a hobby. Radio communication is still an important thing. It's used every day to communicate by police, fire, aircraft, ships, forestry workers, retail stores and a whole host of others. Even our cell phones, one of ham radios biggest competitors with the younger generations, uses radio. But there is quite frankly nothing out there that is "sexy" about radio. Sure, we have all the new digital modes, but really, no one but us hams cares. We're doing innovative work with Broadband Hamnet, but again, who outside of the amateur radio community and some emergency management types care? Name anything any of us is experimenting with and I'll ask you that same question and grow older waiting for a good answer.

While I'm waiting, the noise floor will continue to rise as poorly designed and cheaply produced electronics continue to flood into the markets in every country. In many urban areas, it's already so high that for all realistic purposes, the ability of hams to operate has ended.

I'll also watch as the national telecommunication agencies continue to delete our spectrum allocations and sell that spectrum off to the highest bidder. Eventually, we'll be back where we started, down in the AM bands. Anyone for a quarter wave dipole on 630? It'll only be 371 feet long, give or take a few inches (if I'm doing my math correctly). You'd better have a big back yard.

Yeah, I'm starting to sound like Debbie Downer here, and that's not really the point I want to make. We, as a hobby, need to start marketing our hobby, and we need to start now. I got into this via the emergency preparedness path, and there are quite a few folks who do. However most of them get a Technician Class license and stop there. I didn't; I have my General and am working ever so slowly on my Extra. I'm a rarity. The hobby can't count on outliers like me.

As a hobby, we have to find a message that takes the best of what we are and puts it out there for everyone to see. We need to put our tradition of experimentation and innovation into developing some new technologies that will attract the attention of generations who were raised on video games and the Internet. We probably have to come up with something I can't even conceive of that is going to drum up some serious interest among the geeks of the world. Face it, that is our target audience.

We damn sure can't continue to sit around, dumping the legal limit into a dipole and complaining that the bands are dead.