Monday, December 31, 2012

Water, water, everywhere...

75% of the Earth’s surface is covered with water, and 2/3rds of your body is composed of water, but go 3 days or so without any, and you’ll be joining the ranks of the ex-persons club.
Unfortunately, most of what’s out there isn’t in a form you can consume without accelerating your demise. Neither blood, sweat, tears, urine, nor seawater are what you need, and will dehydrate you even faster if you foolishly try them as a substitute. Parasites, bacteria, viruses, cysts, and all manner of invisible nasties await you if you do find relatively fresh water that hasn’t been purified first.

Getting your hands on a military canteen, or simply a 1L plastic water bottle empty is a great start. If you can set up a series of three successive filters – say, three buckets or bowls with a drain hole in the bottom, with water going from one to the next in order  – and fill the top one with pea gravel, the next one with sand, and the last with activated charcoal (wood charcoal from a campfire, and not wood that’s from a toxic plant!), you can filter out quite a bit of the crud, sediment, and discoloration and let it drip into what’s serving as your canteen. But it’s still not ready to drink yet.
Under the heading of Primitive Purification Method #1, a 1L clear bottle of such clarified water, sealed, and set out in the sun from dawn to dusk, will use the sun’s natural UV rays to neutralize the beasties still present in your clarified water. Bottles much larger than 1L diminish the sun’s efficacy though, and you also need multiple bottles to supply your daily needs, all sun-baked appropriately, as well as a convenient sun-exposed spot to lay them. And your water will have to wait until it cools to be drinkable. But for thousands in temperate and tropical climates without other resources, it’ll do. Obviously, this isn’t going to work at the Arctic circle in the shortened days of most of the year. And sunlight eventually breaks down plastic bottles. Glass lasts a lot longer, but it’s heavy. *

A good deal quicker, if you have plain, unscented household bleach and a medicine dropper, is to put 2 drops of it per liter(quart) into that same clear but unpurifed water, shake it, and wait 30 minutes. If the water is unclarified (muddy, cruddy, etc.) double the amount of bleach per quart. If the water’s cold, rather than somewhere warmer than 60 degrees, double the wait time as well. You can drink pure water this way as long as the sodium hypochlorite (that’s the bleach part) holds out. Putting these instructions on a laminated card with an eyedropper attached, punching a hole through the corner, and banding it to the bottle of emergency unscented household bleach you buy annually for emergencies would be a splendid plan. At 15 drops per mL, and needing 1 gallon  of water a day, a liter of bleach should last two people something like 500 days, or nearly year and a half.
Which is probably about as long as a bottle of household bleach will retain its potency, which is why you should rotate yours into the laundry supply and replace the freshest bottle into your designated purification system every year. But there are varieties of Pool Shock, from pool supply stores, that would enable you to use your brain and a little chemistry math to recreate endless batches of household strength bleach from concentrated chemical, with due diligence. (Warning: The raw powder stuff is corrosive, and requires careful and proper storage and handling. But the chemical form lasts years longer than the dilute liquid variety.)

You can perform the same purification miracles with iodine, or potassium permagnate. The problems are that some people are deathly allergic to iodine, and potassium permagnate is rather hard to come by. If you have a source for those chemicals, and no one in your party has issues, there’s nothing wrong with using them. And with all of the above, your water will taste…crappy. If at all possible, after your water’s been safely made pure, put it someplace where it can breathe, uncapped, and/or pour it back and forth from a couple of very clean containers, to let some of your chemicals dissipate, and aerate the water, so that it tastes better. Powdered drink mixes in quantity for sheltering emergencies wouldn’t be a bad idea either. I’m partial to lemonade, but there are any number of flavors and varieties, some of which include a decent supply of electrolyte boosters as well. Just beware of the added sugar content in some.
Then there’s the Cadillac systems: physical purification by filtration. Lifeboats and such use reverse osmosis and sunlight to draw the sea salt out of seawater. Slow, but flawless. You’ll need a lot of seawater, sunlight, and time, or a number of such units. Several companies, like Katadyn, make any number of small filters that use ceramic elements to achieve phenomenal purity, and the filter elements are the size of a water bottle or small flashlight, and last for something >10,000 liters. The small version uses a small hand pump. They make an expedition multi-filter size that look like a large bicycle pump, and turns out gallons instead of liters in a minute or two. And the Berkey folks make great stainless steel tubs which you simply fill and walk away from, and over time, the internal filters drip a day or more’s supply to the lower tank ready to draw off. The only drawback with any of these is price, usually currently somewhere around $250-350 and up, and the need, eventually, for replacement filters, because the old ones clog up over time internally, and spare anything is always good to have.

Lastly, of course, there’s the brute force method, assuming you have endless loads of fuel,  a large pot, and someone to tend it. One makes pure water the same way nuns make holy water: you simply boil the hell out of it.
For a person afoot, a small hiker’s filter and a small bottle of bleach and dropper would provide months of water availability, assuming one has access to water to purify.

For a base or homestead, a variety of methods of purification would be prudent, along with provision of rain collection barrels, springs, ponds, streams, cisterns, etc. and/or a well or three, to get and store as much of the stuff as you and yours might require. Imagine in your head that there’s no government to help you and no water company to pump yours, and start to think up how you and your devices and ingenuity would fill the gap left by their absence. For planning purposes, you drink and cook with about a gallon a day. Add sanitation, washing, bathing, and clothes cleaning, and you need to supply >100 gallons/person/day. Double that for watering crops. Calculate well, make appropriate provision, and plan prudently, folks.

*(And for the diehards, yes, a large square of clear material like plastic sheeting, and a hole, with a rock weight, a can, and a length of hose, will work to make a “desert still”. In practice though, the work of digging the hole in a desert usually uses more water in sweat than is recovered by condensation, so it really becomes a way to dehydrate and die more slowly than nothing, but still inexorably. Constructing a south-facing large sturdy wooden or steel pipe frame, supplying it with pans and pipes, and covering it with glass, when water isn’t a problem, say for a homestead in a hot climate, on the other hand, would be excellent foresight for the day when things like piped-in water become scarce.)

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Your Shelter System - Clothes, Shelter, Fire

Shelter, and keeping a normal temperature (usually warmer than outside), is something that the lack of can kill you within hours from hypothermia.

Shelter breaks down rather conveniently into three areas: what you wear, what you erect around you, and how you heat it.
Survival Rule One Of Clothing: Cotton Kills.
We all wear it, from head to toe, underwear to outerwear, and for our modern, climate-controlled world, it’s spiffy. Venture out where it’s wet or cold and the love affair with cotton may become a tragedy – for you. Yes, it’s washable, durable, and readily available. But it doesn’t wick moisture, it absorbs it. Like a sponge. And then drains it very slowly. When it’s cold, that moisture robs you of heat a dozen times faster than cold dry air. If the temperature becomes low enough, the water in the cotton fibers freezes, providing you with a hard armored shell, and in a truly life and death environment, besides making you walk like the Tin Man in a rainstorm and robbing your energy, than icy wet cotton exoskeleton will probably also be the last blanket you every sleep under, never to wake up again.

Before modern material science allowed chemists to concoct wonder garment materials at will and by design, man had to rely on nature. The proto-examples he selected were, from inner to outer, silk, wool, and leather.
Silk makes an excellent skin layer, because it’s strong, comfortable, and pulls moisture on your skin, like sweat and condensation, away from it, but releases it as well as at wicks its. Silk breathes, and moves wherever you do with ease. The only three drawbacks to silk at all are expense, scarcity, and lack of durability. Nonetheless, it’s still used today, found at all the spiffier backpacking and hiking stores, and every synthetic fiber base layer is trying to improve on silk. The modern go-to fiber is polypropolene and more recent formulations.

Next, an insulation layer was ideally composed of wool. Wool traps air. Air movement is what conducts heat out from your body. What makes wool great, besides coming off of sheep and other animals by the bucketload, was the fact that it still worked when wet. Currently, it’s heavy, expensive, and scratchy, but it’s still used for sweaters, socks, gloves, shirts, pants, and outercoats by nearly every military force of the planet, because it’s durable, available, and effective. Nowadays the best artificial wool is polyfleece.
Your outer layer needs to shed or repel outside moisture – rain and snow – while hopefully letting your own moisture out without letting the outside moisture in. If only one is an option, keeping water out was the preferred choice. So properly tanned and dressed leather filled that task.  Later, vulcanized rubber coatings on canvas served. Currently, the wonder fabric is Gore-tex and later similar functioning materials, which let perspiration out, while keeping precipitation outside.
Bundle yourself head to toe and inside to outside in this combination, and you won’t go far wrong. Don’t forget covering your head, hands, ears, face, and feet.

Once suitably clad, really severe conditions require the sense to come in out of the weather, because you’re burning energy faster than you can eat to replace it.

Caves, and their later relatives, building, work great for this. Vehicles may serve, but they lack insulation, making them cold-weather iceboxes, lack ventilation, making them easy to suffocate inside, and they’re hard to heat, forcing you to resort to leaving them frequently to ventilate, which then robs the heat, and the cycle starts all over again. They are much easier for rescue parties to spot though, so whenever possible, if you can’t stay in them, stay as close next to them as you can manage. Any survival book will show any number of options, from igloos and snow caves to brush lean-tos to log cabins. When snow won’t co-operate and trees are scarce, a small tent will suffice.
Add a decent sleeping bag system, with usually two bags layered, along with a bivy bag, and you’ve recreated the body layer system above, sufficient to allow you to asleep comfortably in arctic cold 20 or 30 degress F below zero. This also takes a vehicle from an icebox to a habitation. For bags, bird-feather down works great until it gets wet, then it’s worse than cotton. Modern hollow-core fiber substitutes are a bit heavier, but work even when wet. And in a nasty situation, they’re going to get wet. The bivy bag is basically a waterproof tub with a water-repellent top shell, usually Gore-tex, to minimize any water on your sleeping system, while allowing body perspiration and breathing condensation to escape outside, allowing you to sleep warm and dry, which is always my first choice.

Google and read the short story by that name by Jack London. It compellingly and succinctly explains why fire is vital. And it’s a great read.

The number of ways to make fire are nearly legion. The key elements, as any fire safety class taught you, are air, heat, and fuel.
Matches, in quantity, and stored dry, work well. So do ordinary butane lighters. You should have both.

Then we get to other methods. A small magnifying glass will work on sunny days. Flint and steel, or a metal match and magnesium block for making shavings will work at 3AM in the Arctic. So will a dozen modern variations.

Then there are the bow drill methods, which still require a sturdy knife and cooperative underbrush, or else carrying the requisite parts. Personaly, I’d rather carry the original 5 items: matches, lighter, glass, metal match, magnesium. Because they work quicker and take up less space.

Following the ubiquitous threes, your fire will need tinder, kindling, and actual fuel. Tinder tabs and military ration heating trioxane tabs work very well. A great homemade substitute is to fill a small metal bowl with petroleum jelly (Vaseline) and heat it on an electric hot plate etc. until it turns to liquid. Then take anything, hot dog tongs, clothespins, bamboo skewers, toothpicks, etc., and dunk 100% cotton balls (NOT the synthetic kind) into the liquid petroleum jelly, soaking each one thoroughly. The set each blob on a sheet of aluminum foil and let it cool and harden. Once harder, and cool enough to handle, cut 4”x4” or so aluminum squares out of the foil. One each square place a jellied cotton ball. Fold the aluminum foil over in half with the ball inside, then fold up the edges on the three open sides until you have a sealed square about 2”x2”. Folding and sealing will flatten these packets somewhat, which is fine, as long as they stay sealed. Now, in a pinch, you have however many of these you’ve created, ready to use as emergency tinder/candles. If you cut an “X” into one of the flat sides when you’re ready to use it, and tease out a few cotton threads, you have a tinder packet/candle with a wick which you can now light, either to make light, or to start the other tinder and kindling you’ve collected for your fire. I’ve had them burn for up to an hour, which isn’t bad for something 1/3rd the size of a tealight.
Which reminds me, tealights and stubby candles are also great items to include in you fire-making ensemble.
You can also provide tinder by taking sawdust, soaking it in something flammable, and packing it in an impermeable plastic or metal container.

All of these give you a way to light a fire, providing you’ve gathered some kindling (think pencil-thick sticks) and then finger- and arm-thick wood or other suitable longer-burning fuel. And since we mentioned pencil-thick sticks, another tinder tip is to carry a schoolkid’s pencil sharpener in your fire making kit. Feeding a small stick into one, and spinning out a stream of paper-thin shavings creates great tinder on the spot. As a side benefit, you can also use it to sharpen a pencil!
Provide yourself with the means to stay warm, sleep warm, and get warm, and your life expectancy just went from hours to days.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

You've Gotta Keep Breathing

The last few times, we went about getting ourselves the wherewithal to gain a few minutes to work things out. When it comes to breathing, a few minutes is exactly what you’ve got.
“But....that’s ridiculous! I’m not going to worry about that. What could possibly interfere with me breathing?”


 As people streamed into the Staples Center for the night’s game, the sun was just going down on a beautiful early spring day in Southern California. At separate entrances, and separated by several minutes between arrivals, 12 elderly Middle Eastern senior citizens were wheeled inside by doting younger relatives. Grandfathers and grandsons, uncles and nephews. Each one sat in a standard folding wheelchair. Behind each elderly man were 12 identical “C” size oxygen canisters. Each passenger helpfully had a nasal cannula hooked beneath their nose, but a carefully placed blanket or jacket in each case concealed the fact that they weren’t connected to the cylinder outlets, just dummied in place. One by one, they found their seats at the railing of the upper level, spread  at each number of the clock, beside an aisle. The chairs were left behind the back row, folded up, but the O2 bottles were carefully carried alongside each elder until the pairs had found the seats and settled in. They say down and waited. They stood for the national anthem, and let the game start. Precisely 5 minutes into the first period, each pair got up. To get a hot dog, visit the bathroom, whatever. As they stepped away, each young attendant, having checked to see the spray outlet was pointed at the center of the arena over the rail wall, quickly but nonchalantly twisted open the valves, and then hopped a quick couple of steps, calling after their elder charges, and headed to the upper landing. Whereupon a miraculous change in spryness enabled each pair to calmly but quickly exit the arena, again by different exits, and were picked up in each case by a third accomplice who brought the cars near the curb. Within a couple of minutes, they were all heading outbound towards one of the nearby multiple freeways, and back to their safe houses.
Back in the arena, a dozen cylinders all poured out an invisible vapor of aerosol droplets. The twelve tanks had been smuggled north from Mexico, after being delivered from a freighter off the coast, and run into a shore rendezvous off Baja, then smuggled along drug routes through the border deserts before winding up at the group’s warehouse near downtown L.A. Each was painted to resemble an oxygen tank of medical O2, but all in fact held under pressure a particularly well-made batch of Sarin liquid nerve agent. Air currents inside the venue distributed it widely, and within minutes, people on the lower level began to feel “wrong”. Their vision was constricted by closing pupils and teary eyes, they were coughing, then noses ran, then they began to gag and gasp and vomit. Their nerves spasmed, they stumbled, and as they all began to slump to the ground, lost control of their bladders and bowels as they landed heavily on the floors and aisles. As others noticed that something must be going on, they tried to flee, but the vapor cloud found most. Especially bad was the fact that everyone inside the ring of death had to pass under the cascading droplets from above. Pretty much everyone on the lower level was minutes from death the moment the cylinders were cracked. The people on the upper level had things somewhat better, having only gotten a mild dosing from what the air circulation system distributed. But what nerve gas didn’t kill, panic did. Dozens were trampled in the melee for the exits. Some who’d received gas in their eyes, noses, and mouths began to go down in ones and twos, in a trail leading from the seats to their cars. Others who had a few more minutes from skin exposure lost it trying to get to their cars, strewing bodies all over the parking lots. Some smaller number succumbed on nearby streets and freeways, creating the mother of all traffic jams in every direction, and every accident a contaminated hazmat response.

And all the while the carnage was broadcast live on TV to millions of viewers, some by stunned cameramen, some by cameras whose operators were dying under the lenses. In the confusion and panic, it was over 3 minutes before someone in the truck yanked  the signal feed circuit. One of the vehicles was simply driven away with no attempt to disconnect, and toppled a dozen fleeing bystanders before the cable snapped on a fenceline.

At Los Angeles OCD, dispatch started getting panicky radio calls, and several fire and police units were dispatched. Long before they arrived, they were called off, and a perimeter was called for upwind. The Hazmat Response crews were dispatched. By the time they arrived twenty minutes later, and took another ten minutes to get suited up properly, it was a body hunt and forensic investigation. Inside over 10,000 people were dead. Another 1000 bodies were scattered throughout the facility, and there were over 200 nearby traffic accidents. An unfortunate number of the first arriving paramedics and patrol officers became secondary casualties in short order, leading to futile attempts to establishing several hundred secondary contamination zones, and evacuating thousands of residents nearby and downwind. Between 24 hour news and sports radio, and cell phones, panic spread at the speed of electrons.
The populace collectively lost their minds. Between nearby residents and those listening and watching the game, it quickly became obvious that somebody had used something. People started grabbing car keys, and maybe whatever they could grab in 30 seconds, and hit the road en masse. A cascading traffic snarl spread outward from south of downtown, near the original incident. As word spread from city radios to commercial broadcast about the secondary sites at accidents nearby, getting in a fender bender, instead of getting out to exchange info, became a game with rules somewhere between a demolition derby and Death Race 2000. And as the cars fled the locus of disaster, outlying cities and surrounding counties fumbled and wondered what response to take. No one had ever tried to deal with 5 million cars all headed out of L.A. at the same time, driven by people ranging from cautiously determined to ragingly hysterical.

Between the incredible number of traffic accidents, including the contaminated victims, and the number of slightly contaminated or uncontaminated but terrified spectators and their families arriving in the local ERs, hospital after hospital was flooded with patients. Operating on the ragged edge of disaster on a good day, the entire county’s emergency medical system had a stroke. Ambulances nearby were contaminated, some crews dead, others couldn’t get to calls, let alone the normal nights’ tally of gunshot victims and heart attacks. Diversion of ambulances to and from farther and farther away spread like ripples in a pond, and within an hour crashed the entire system. Which in turn impacted the systems in surrounding Ventura, Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside counties. By 10PM, nearly 10% of the population of the United States –  30 million people - centered on Los Angeles was effectively left without any emergency medical service until further notice.
Not that there were more than a 100-200 doses of atropine in all the local hospitals combined, and it would be hours before anyone could access federal stocks of nerve agent antidote. By which point, everyone who’d need it would probably be cold and dead anyway.



But no, that could never happen to you, because you don’t live near L.A.
And you don’t live in a town where there’s a stadium, or mall, or movie metroplex, or any other target, and because it’s so hard to smuggle small bundles of stuff into your state from Mexico. (You know this because the local home Depot doesn’t have 20 illegal aliens standing out front 7 days a week, right?) And there’s no chemical or nuclear plants near you, nor do any trainloads of hazardous material by the metric boatload pass nearby, and you’ll never have a fire at either a chem/nuke plant or at a train crash. And you’ll never hit black ice on a bridge and end up in a pond, stream, or river either. And of course, no protesters in your town will ever start a riot over anything, and leave you needing to evacuate through clouds of riot control gas, smoke, or what have you. Nor will you ever be in a burning building or airplane cabin, because that never happens either.



The rest of us might have to deal with some or all of that stuff, and there’s ways to go about it.
Available for purchase online are any number of high-tech, save-your-life military or better grade chemical protective masks. For the price of one rifle, you could have a mask with hood, multiple spare filters, a protective suit, butyl gloves and booties, and duct tape to seal the seams. And if any of the preceding concerns you in the slightest, you and everyone you hold dear should consider putting an NBC/CBRN (two acronyms meaning the same thing – chemical, biological, or radiological/nuclear nastiness) exposure prevention bag together.

For staying put, assuming you’re not downwind of Hell Central, visqueen and clear plastic sheeting in rolls sufficient for all the holes in your house, plus duct tape, staples, nails and furring strips to hold it there for some time, along with a larger filtration system, would be the next logical step after that.
And if needing actual breathing oxygen because your car ended up underwater is something you consider a potential situation, you can get pony bottles of breathing air at any scuba shop, once you’ve gotten a scuba cert card in your hand. Obviously a possibility in states with creeks and ponds and little lakes everywhere, but someone out in a dusty desert could find themselves in an irrigation canal, so think carefully on where you travel and what could happen.

And lastly, for “poor man’s hazmat”, a set of swim goggles and a quality N95 or N100 (which numbers denote how much particulate junk they successfully filter) mask, can get you through sooty brushfire or volcanic ash clouds (briefly) and minimize the irritation from things like CN, CS, and OC pepper spray. There are even little cannisters than contain a clear hood and mouth filter than are specifically designed to let you breath while escaping from a building or airliner gloriously aflame.

I’m not hawking brands, but if you found this site, your Google-fu should enable you to find, compare, and acquire any or all of the above, as your wise consideration dictates.


If you do that, you’ll have bought yourself the time to handle the next necessities on your survival pyramid.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Personal Security System Part III

So, you’ve decided on a rifle and pistol for personal protection. What more could anyone ask of you?
Firearms have more utility than simply self-defense. They can also get you food.

If, for example, your chosen semi-automatic battle rifle clone is in .308 (7.62x51), or you picked one in a similarly well-suited caliber like .30-06 or 7.62x54Russian, it's also well-suited for hunting larger game, including most of what romps around on either American continent, north or south. (The .223 is a good varmint round and anti-personnel choice, but anything else is either big enough to be wounded and run far away before it dies, or small enough that the round’s terminal effects  will destroy more of the carcass than you’ll get to eat. You may be the ultra-rare exception, but I wouldn’t want to gamble my life on that margin.)
And then there are shotguns, because unless you’re Annie Oakley good, you aren’t going to shoot food that flies with a centerfire rifle, so you’re going to need lots of little pellets. As an added bonus, shotguns that can interchange barrels offer the possibility of having a shotgun that’s suitable for personal defense/protection, then swapping another barrel suitable for slugs for deer or bear, and a longer barrel with a screw-in choke system for anything from pigeons and doves all the way to Canadian geese, with the proper selection of chokes and ammunition. Better still, you can probably get one of these (Remington 870 or Mossberg 500 series, for example) for less than you’ll spend for either your rifle or pistol.

Now you’re up to three weapons, and still not done.
The next should be either a rifle or pistol (or both, if you’re a suspenders and belt kind of person) in the ubiquitous .22LR. As former blogger Kim DuToit used to put it, .22LR ammunition isn’t just ammunition, it’s a commodity. Because long after paper money or even precious metals like gold or silver have lost trading value, .22LR ammunition will probably suffice to barter goods and services in longer-term situations. With decent optics, you can set up a .22 pistol (e.g. a Ruger Mark II or MkIII) to where you can hit anything out to 100 yards just about as quickly and easily as you would with a scoped .22 rifle like the Ruger 10/22, except in a more compact package. And unlike the .223, the .22LR round is eminently suited for potting small game, and has been used to successfully poach up to small deer with decent shot placement. And one more notch in its favor: should you reside in a state where it’s permissible, you can secure a sound suppressor that will hush it down to a level far less audible than a full-bore hunting rifle, which could spare you from dealing with all sorts of unpleasantness as you go about your survival tasks.

If you’re serious about preparing, each weapon will need cleaning supplies, extra magazines, and should also be provided with manuals and media plus the necessary spare parts and tools to replace or repair things that wear out, break, get lost, etc. Most of these will fit handily in a weapon-specific plastic parts tote from any craft store. And besides a generous supply of ammunition to tide you over any temporary buying frenzies like the one we’re in now, or the one from 2008, one day it will also dawn on you that it’s not a bad idea to double up on your basic 5 weapons, because as both Navy Seals and serious preppers know, “two is one, and one is none” when something catastrophically fails.
Always focus on the concept that it’s your safety and security that’s the system, not the weapon(s).  If  the contingencies you’re planning on suggest a need for a weapon, for less than the price of your current health insurance ER deductible you can (and should!) get ahold of body armor of at least a concealable soft vest variety. Given the price and utility, as well as the value of your own hide, one would be a fool not to do so, and in fact ought to get the vest before the weapons, while they’re still legal to acquire, because unlike a handgun, you probably aren’t breaking any laws by wearing soft body armor in 99% of the country. I can’t speak for every jurisdiction, because some of them are universally stupid about such purely defensive measures. Check your local laws. Some manufacturers/retailers are jackassical too, but the expedient of taking a day’s training and getting a security guard certification in your state is usually enough to paper your way past well-intentioned but idiotic vendor sales restrictions on body armor. If my choice is to spend another $100 or so to take a class and get a license to get the vest I want, or do without, I’m taking the class. YMMV.

Finally, do everything you can not to need this system. Don’t go to the ATM at 3AM in the dive part of town. Lock your car and house doors. Secure your windows and premises. Get bright outdoor lights, light timers, and a dog that barks at strangers. Keep your personal business off the internet, and zip your lip about what you’ve got, and when you’ll be gone, so nobody has any special idea to target you. All of that is part of your personal security system, so learn it and live it. (Or, as multiple collections of military maxims put it “Be courteous and friendly towards everyone, but have a plan to kill anyone you meet.”)
Everyone ought to know how to defend themselves, but nobody with a lick of sense wants to use a weapon except for practice or sport. Your goal is to die of old age, after your weapons have killed a lot of targets and the occasional freezer deer or bag of game birds, not to get into gunfights daily, or to constantly battle the odds to survive in some wasteland. Trading lead by choice is a low-percentage investment over the long haul. Be prepared enough that no one wants to play that game with you, then do everything reasonable not to have to either. And come the day, make sure you’re the one standing afterwards, and get to go home instead of the hospital or the morgue.

Too many people think survival is all about having guns. Until, if they're lucky, they grow up, and a minor emergency shows them all the other things they're without, but not to the point they die from the lack. So now that we've bought you some time to survive immediate threats, let's move up the ladder a step.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Personal Security Systems Part II

Having concluded that a shoulder-mounted projectile launcher, of the type most commonly (and incorrectly) denigrated as an “assault rifle” is the penultimate thing you should embrace as the heart of your personal security system, we now move on to why they suck.
They’re heavy. 8-10 pounds usually, and another several pounds of extra ammunition, plus pouches and load-bearing equipment to tote it around.
They’re long. Three feet or more on average. Even a folded AK doesn’t sit easily slung under a coat unless you aren’t moving. And if trying to keep yourself alive is an issue, you should nearly always be moving to do something.

As a consequence of those two things, they aren’t very concealable. And as not-pistols, and not-concealable, there are precious few places in still semi-civilized life where you can tote them without making all manner of needless criminal/judicial trouble for yourself.
And lastly, sometimes, through your own fault or not, they jam, break, or otherwise fail to function, leaving you helplessly hoping for more “bang” and getting instead just “click”.

So as part of a system of personal security you really ought to consider a projectile launcher that, compared to a standard civilian version of a military battle rifle, is relatively light, short, and concealable, yet provides a helpful amount of utility for protecting yourself. Those are called pistols.
Aside from curiousities, pistols come in two flavors for the last century or so: revolvers (with between 5-10 ready rounds) and semiautomatics (with removable/replaceable magazines holding between 7-20 ready rounds).

A quality revolver (1st tier: Colt, Smith&Wesson, Ruger, 2nd tier Taurus, Rossi, etc.) in a caliber between .38 Special and .44 magnum* is caveman reliable. Pulling the trigger on a modern double-action cocks the hammer and rotates the cylinder to position the next round for firing. That’s about it, mechanically. Keep it reasonably clean and oiled, check the ammunition every so often, and you can pull one loaded from a drawer after 50 years with a virtual certainty of adequate performance. But since you likely won’t have a convenient drawer in your survival quest, as things do, it gets a small bit more complicated. Carrying a weapon in the cold cruel world, and/or concealed on a regular basis, and a weapon made of blessed stainless steel, far more resistant to rain, snow, salty sea air, body oils and sweat, and all other manner of other environmental insults, has much to recommend it over the more traditional and attractive gunblue steel of earlier examples. Once again, you makes your choices, and you takes your chances.  


A quality semiautomatic (Glock/Sig/Colt/Beretta/S&W/Ruger/Taurus/Springfield/Kimber/ad infinitum), properly maintained, in a caliber between .380 ACP and .45ACP* is nearly as caveman reliable as a revolver. And with 2-10 more rounds available immediately without reloading, and able to be reloaded much faster than revolvers for the average person. Pulling the slide back loads a round into battery the first time. Carried this way, pulling the trigger generally not only sends that shot on its way, but forces the slide to move itself rearward, and strip another round from a self-contained magazine and place it into firing position all on its own, hence the “semiautomatic” appellation.
A decent example of either of the above categories usually weighs in the vicinity of 2 pounds, plus another pound for a couple or more ready reloads. They are readily carried nigh invisibly and rapidly accessible on an average person’s body. Google pictures of holster-maker par excellence John Bianchi in a tuxedo with 30 or so such weapons from ankles to armpits if you need proof.

Drawbacks: Pistols don’t stop large animals – linebackers, grizzly bears, charging tigers – nearly as well as the most anemic of rifles, because they have a fraction of the usuable accuracy,  range, and deliverable energy. This can be overcome to some degree, but it’s still a problem. It’s a boon that unlike grizzlies, pointing any obvious weapon at a two-legged coyote usually notifies the clearer-thinking of the breed that they’re about to be painfully resisted, and possibly killed outright, and frequently causes them to beat a hasty retreat. Also, such sudden panic among their species is contagious. But one will occasionally encounter either a drug-impaired example, or one terminally stupid, or simply determined that the prey is worth the claws, and the party is on. This is where software again kicks in.

Software, as with rifles, comes down to frequent, diligent, committed practice and training. Even more so with pistols, because like selecting real estate, the most important thing with shooting a pistol in self-defense is location, location, location. A pistol Jedi might be able to self-defend with a humble .22, providing he could put the round(s) into a suitable spot in his prey. This necessity decreases somewhat as caliber and power increases, but even so, single shots to vital spots always trump splatter-fire spray-and-pray delivered everywhere to whom it may concern. And as countless police shootings testify, your body’s rapid dump of adrenaline in a life and death situation, along with your vision tunneling down to the point of looking through wrapping paper tubes, will make you Hulk strong and paddle hands lousy at fine motor skills, and pistol shooting is absolutely a fine motor skill. The keys to overcoming this are multiple. Punching paper reinforces only the basics and teaches your body muscle memory, but like the piano, practice doesn’t make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect. Get instruction and again, lots of practice in moving and shooting from cover. To the extent possible, you might even consider some training aids. At a shooting range you usually already have to wear ear and eye protection. Consider sacrificing a pair of safety glasses by blacking out all but the center of the lenses to simulate stress-induced tunnel vision. If it makes you feel better, they put instrument pilot trainees “under a hood” of similarly restricted vision to simulate being inside a plane in a cloud so they don’t flip over and dive for the ground in their first vertigo-inducing cloudy experience, and it works. You might also consider getting ascending sizes of latex or nitrile exam gloves, and put 2-3 pairs on over your hands, to simulate the fumble-fingers of an adrenaline dump, then practice your pistol drills until you’re almost or as good while so impaired as you are with no encumbrances. And don’t only practice on warm, sunny, clear days. Within the realms of safety, practice on cold, wet, windy days. Get used to handling wet weapons safely, and overcoming gusts blowing your sight picture all to hell; the latter is great for simulating the overcontrol adrenaline can dump on you, not to mention for being attacked on cold, wet, windy days. And since an enormous amount of attacks happen in the dark, because predators always see darkness as concealment and therefore gain surprise, you HAVE TO practice in very low light. Try wearing the darkest sunglasses you can find, and shooting at targets whose color matches the backdrop, and are in shade or shadow, if possible. The do it again, with the blacked out lenses and extra gloves. Then while moving and taking cover. Then on a cold, wet, windy day. NOW you’re actually getting useful training. You can also practice in other unorthodox ways. A personal friend and a world-class champion shooter wanted to get practice time and slick up the internals of his new weapons. So he squirted gobs of a mildly abrasive brand of toothpaste into brand-new stainless guns, replaced the body panels, put in snap caps, and spent his free time for the next week dry-firing each one at every badguy in every scene of every western and action flick whose DVD he possessed. After a week, he scrupulously cleaned out the toothpaste, and cleaned and lubricated his weapons normally, as they were now smooth as glass, and he’d gotten in thousands of dry-fire rounds of muscle memory and proper sight techniques, and watched all his favorite movies. Total cost, just over $0.00. Another acquaintance and Olympic figure skater athlete pointed out once that making it to the Olympics requires the dedication to fall on your ass at least 10,000 times. He'd competed in three Olympics in his life at that point, so I'm thinking he knew what he was talking about. And in times of stress, it has been noted by many experts that you won’t rise to the occasion, you’ll sink to the level of your training. Fail to train, train to fail.

Next time, additional measures.

* All pistol rounds are weak. Far weaker than most rifle rounds, and usually used at all solely because of a necessitated compromise. Anything smaller than .380ACP/.38 Special is very nearly worthless in the realm of self-defense, assuming you want to stop a threat before it kills you, rather than just insure mutual demise. (What Ian Fleming knew about guns could fit in a thimble.) And the differences between .38, .357 Mag, 9mm, .40, .45 and .44 magnum &co. are like comparing the height of Death Valley with the height of Mt. Everest, as observed with the naked eye from the surface of the moon. In certain instances you may need the extra oomph, but that's for you to decide.
While I wouldn’t want to be shot with a .22, a .25, or a .32, neither would I willingly choose any of them for personal protection against anything larger than a small reptile or domestic barnyard animal. So unless you anticipate hordes of zombie chickens and homing rattlesnakes squaring off against you, don’t waste your time and mine going there.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Personal Security System Part I

So we’ve talked very basically about where not to be and what not to do.
But despite efforts and intentions, you’re about to be in a bad situation. Now what?

All problems, not just computers, require proper software and proper hardware. In this case, the software is your training, preparation, and forethought in preserving, protecting, and if need be defending yourself. The fundamental truth, and this isn’t just some Jedi/Zen Master gobbledygook, is that YOU are the weapon. What you grab up is just a tool.

Tools are the hardware. This side of a galaxy far, far away, hence no laser blasters, there are two types of relevant tool technology: projectile throwers, and impact devices. That’s it.

Examples of projectile throwers: rifle, shotgun, pistol, air/pellet/BB gun, sling, slingshot, bow and arrow, spear, arm/hand.
Examples of impact weapons: Spear, sword, knife, club, pointy stick, rock, fist, elbow, claws, teeth, etc.

Of the two, projectile throwers are preferable, because while they tend to require more skill and precision, they can stop (usually by killing or severely impeding function of) hostile animals before they can get close enough to you to use their tools on you with the same goal in mind. So your first choice is a projectile weapon with the best effectiveness at the greatest distance you can utilize. Artillery is nice, but without trucks, a fire direction center, a supply and logistics chain, and someone to observe where your rounds land, not really something you can wield. So your current winner starts at something like a Barrett .50 BMG M82A1, and works down to a .22LR plinking rifle like a Ruger 10/22. Everything in that range is a series of trade-offs in weight, range, capacity, and lethality. But whatever mix you choose, there’s no pistol you’ll choose that will touch even a humble 10/22.

I hear the murmuring. “Bull***t!”. Tell you what: I’ll take a brick of .22LR ammunition, a 10/22 rifle with only one 10-round magazine, and a fixed 4x scope. You pick your favorite handgun, set up any way you like, and 500 rounds. (Unless you picked a .22LR semi-auto pistol, in which case you’re skipping ahead.) We’ll put two cantaloupes on stakes, and pace back 200 yards. On “Go!” we each start shooting 100 rounds. Whichever one of us is done with all rounds first, we both stop, and count hits, noting quantity, accuracy, and mass delivered. After you lose the first time, we’ll replace me with a 9-year old girl, and repeat the test. After you lose that, we’ll do it again with a one-armed guy with coke-bottle glasses going against you. Once you’re 0 for 3, we’ll move on. If you’re really hard-headed, we can try a few 50-yard wind sprints just before firing. Thus endeth the lesson on why shoulder-held weapons will almost always trump handheld.
The odds are that in looking at the range of shoulder weapons you might select, judging cost, weight, accuracy, capacity, effectiveness, etc., you’ll very likely re-invent the wheel and settle on something looking fairly similar or identical to an AR/AK/FN sort of rifle. Perhaps not, and frankly, I don’t give a whatever, because we’re not talking about me, we’re talking about you. And fundamentally, it doesn’t matter.  But  YOU aren’t different enough from  500 million of your fellows sufficiently to outthink the combined armies of 98% of the planet. Not gonna happen.

The next step takes us back to software upgrades. PRACTICE with the thing. For reference, when my Primary Marksmanship Instructor, Gunnery Sergeant Montessa*, all 5’6” and 120 pounds of him dripping wet, relented to trust me with live rounds for the first time, it was only after I’d dry-fired the weapon several thousand times at tiny simulated targets painted on 55-gal. barrels, in 4 different firing positions, along with taking the weapon apart, cleaning it, and putting it back together several hundred times, plus a full week’s detailed instruction about the weapon, the ammunition, and bucketloads of absolutely basic marksmanship techniques. And that was to be the lowliest apprentice on the shooter totem pole. So you aren’t going to master your weapon in just a single weekend class by any gun ninja on the planet.
You're going to have to practice daytime, dusk, and nighttime, all seasons, and multiple positions, then throw in moving targets, and moving yourself, in order to reach decent proficiency.
The prep I received  paid off in my case, because I paid attention, scored 92% and qualified Expert. Much later, and long after I’d qualified as an expert multiple times because I still followed the basic techniques, they started throwing moving targets and shooting while moving and kicking down doors to the curriculum. Nowadays that’s part of the basic package, and they throw in lasers and optical sights, rather than doing it all with iron sights. (Hint: That requires more training and proficiency, not less, because gadgets break, plus now you have to teach adjusting both or multiple sight packages, not just simple iron adjustable sights. The payoff is headshots at 400 yards for raw recruits. Nota bene.)

You can ignore this. You can also get rapidly dead when tested on a two-way shooting range. Or not, your choice.
For starters, the takeaway is simple: get the best rifle (for what you think you’ll need to do) you can, support it with the best accessories you can justify from an honest utility factor, and not CDI (“Chicks Dig It”) or King of the Mall Ninjas perspective, and then commence to train the hell out of yourself. Then train and practice some more. Both serious training and lack of it pay dividends. Lack of training dividends are the ones you don’t want to receive, other than from someone else’s lack of prep.

Next time: What to do when shoulder weapons suck.

 *( PMIs are the only people the Marines let wear the campaign cover other than Drill Instructors – though a number of PMIs have also been DIs - and with good reason. The only person that can and should inspire the requisite awe other than your DI is a guy like this little hard-as-titanium-woodpecker-lips guy, who opened the ball by picking a random recruit’s rifle, firing two “sighter” shots, throwing on his iron sight dope, and then dumping 10 rounds standing offhand in rapid fire from 500 yards, and grouping them all in the head of the target while we all watched. The target was retrieved and laid in front of us. Then he began his first class lecture to us.)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


My contribution to the oft-repeated Survival Rule Of Threes is that you can survive about 3 seconds without security.

I say this because unlike most emergency responders, I was trained by some extremely insightful and dedicated mentors who didn't teach me the ABCs (airway, breathing, circulation), they taught me the SRABCs : SAFETY, Rescue, Airway, Breathing, Circulation.

Since you (and any other nearby folks you have the desire or duty to be concerned about) are the one being rescued, in this case self-rescued, the safety of the rescuer from that mnemonic is also the safety of the victim.

As mentioned in the prior post, rampaging wild animals with 2 to 4 legs, or with more than 32 teeth, especially in packs, will render other concerns with longer survival windows moot in less time than it took to read this sentence. For example, if your craft (air or sea) sinks, an unfortunate encounter with sharks, crocodiles, et al will trump even the need for breathable air.

Time for a caveat: There is no such thing as perfect security. 
As a trained, certified, and duly licensed Devil's Advocate, I can assure you that whatsoever thing you can name to guarantee your safety, like any 4th-grader, I can name a bigger problem that leaves your plan undone. So can Mr. Murphy, and he has less of a sense of humor than I do, along with an annoying knack of coming along with everyone on every ride.

So we should all give up, right?
No; false binary dilemma between perfection and nothing. The security you want only needs to be better than what confronts it. "Good enough" security is. When it's not, your worries are over, possibly forever. Make the best appraisal of the potential problem(s), address the needs they create (hopefully with a generous fudge factor) and drive on. Everything is a series of choices, and acceptance of some amount of risk. Make good choices, minimize risks. Make bad choices, know the rest.

Corollary to this is what I call the Rescue 9-1-1 Formula: A+B=C
where A= immutable forces of Nature
and B= gross human stupidity
and C= a good morality tale on the folly of ignoring A and bringing a truckload of B together at the same place and time.
In some military units it's also known as the Don't Play Hopscotch In A Minefield Rule.

So now, wherever you are or imagine you might be, focus really hard on identifying all the possible threats to life and limb (that don't directly involve breathing, maintaining your body temperature, hydrating, or nutrition. We'll get to those in due course.)

To begin with, wherever you go, what is the most dangerous predator you could possibly face?

In the overwhelming majority of cases, the answer is either the person reading your screen, or someone very much like them. Using your brain takes care of Variable B, above, and solves half the potential problem.

So whatcha gonna do when the bad boys come for you?

Disaster Rule One (hat tip to Commander Zero) is : Be Somewhere Else.
Google Minneapolis Hurricane Katrina Victims, and you'll get the point. If something looks like a danger to life and limb, listen to your Lizard Brain, and GTFO. Preferably early, before the rush and inevitable traffic jams, if that's a possibility. For instance, if the verdict in the Rodney King case is coming in anytime soon, you probably don't want to be strolling in front of the police HQ, or stopping to chat with peeved urban youths in the heart of the ghetto.

But let's suppose your little emergency struck without any reasonable warning short of hyper-paranoia.
Disaster Rule Two: Get Somewhere Else. ASAP.

In the course of volunteering in a local big-city ER prior to getting educated enough to get paid to work in one, I helped maintain the daily patient log. In it were recorded the name, age, sex, time of arrival, and chief complaint of everyone passing through the doors seeking treatment for whatever. Several afternoons a week, I was one of the people who'd grab all the copies of the incoming patient sheets from the prior shift out of a basket, sort them chronologically, and enter the particular details into the department's bound logbook. It took no Mensa abilities on my part to rapidly notice a pattern: If you were over 25 and less than 65, not involved one way or another with alcohol, and in your own home by 11PM each night, unless you were having a baby, your chances of ending up on the ER blotter were only slightly higher than your chances of winning the Lotto or getting stricken by lightning. (No points for guessing what profile gets you the best actuarial break from your insurance company, by no coincidence). On the other hand, going out drinking with your friends until 3 AM in the really "cool" (read "so seedy that even derelicts didn't complain about the noise") part of downtown, even as the designated driver, made getting robbed, raped, punched, stabbed, shot, or hit by other drunks' cars rise until between 4-6AM, participation in one of those at-risk behaviors was almost a certain recipe for paying the ER a visit. There's a reason Ben Franklin said what he said about "Early to bed, early to rise..."

Taking all of that together, the first thing one can do to vastly increase their odds for a long life with a minimum of stitches is to get someplace where not just the crime rate, but the population itself is low. For Sartre', "Hell is other people." For someone looking to minimize catastrophic risk, "Survival Hell is TOO MANY other people."

The second thing is that if one can't live and work in a relatively safe and quiet area, being able to get to one, and being able to stay there, should the need arise, is a close second.

But even if you live in Option One, or you're trying to get there under Option Two, you may still end up amidst a rather unpleasant experience in human relations, colloquially referred to by my medical colleagues as "getting jacked."

Whether by man or beast.

So for next time, we'll look at things to do about that.

Monday, December 24, 2012


In my brief span of years, I’ve been present during at least 2 riots, 3 typhoons, 2 hurricanes, and 2 major earthquakes. I glean from this that equipping oneself with an ascending life support system of goods capable of preserving you through whatever may come your way is an excellent idea.

Having a list of things to acquire is, at best, the baby food of getting prepared. (As opposed to more meat-and-potatoes fare.) Mind you, simply by having something, you’re miles ahead of the vast sea of Pollyanna the-government-will-rescue-me retards whom one wades through day in and day out anywhere you’d care to name. They range from the people holding signs up at the Superdome after a Cat. V hurricane to folks waving at helicopters from the roof of their house 10 miles out to sea after a tsunami. At least, the survivors are. The nameless rest end up “missing” until recognizable body parts are recovered. Those, to me, do not represent suitable choices about how to spend your final moments.

The reason lists are pre-basic is because while occasionally barely sufficient for a very specific event, they’re never adequate for anything more, different, or worse and far more likely, longer than said event. And thus convey a false sense of security, akin to having a towel when hitchhiking the galaxy, or carrying a security blanket in a cartoon strip. For example, military pilots wear one survival vest, but also have any number of different supplemental supplies. While the personal vest and contents don’t vary, the additional supplies in kits or under-seat panels vary considerably depending on whether one’s aircraft is operating over deserts, arctic tundra, jungles, or over water, or any combination of the above. Consider that a simple military training flight from an airfield in Southern California could put aircrew over snowy mountains, desert, or the Pacific Ocean, in the same trip's flightpath, and you get the idea.

So it strikes me that being prepared doesn’t consist in various “piles of stuff” one collects, depending on what one anticipates, but rather on being able to supply one with systems that address the basic survival necessities under a variety of events.

Survival Rule of Threes:
You can survive 3 seconds without security.
You can survive 3 minutes without air.
You can survive 3 hours without warmth.
You can survive 3 days without water.
You can survive 3 weeks without food.

And after 3 months, if you haven’t got shelter and health needs squared away, or found a way to be plucked out of your circumstances, you should probably start carving your tombstone. But I’ll save that for the topic of “Thrival” rather than “Survival”.

(I added the 3 seconds rule above to the hand-me-down rule of 3s survival list, for reasons I’ll explain below.)

Think charging grizzly bear, pack of wolves, circling sharks, irate mob, invading alien zombie hordes, whatever. You’ll be dead and assuming room temperature in those cases long before lack of air becomes any concern. Fat lot of good a poncho, whistle, and Swiss army knife will do there.  12 gauge shotgun with slugs and buckshot, on the other hand…

For those submerged, a bailout bottle of compressed oxygen. For someone a block from the WTC, ten seconds after the first tower collapsed, a really sturdy N95 respirator would be worth its weight in $100 bills. And so on.

Warm clothes: wool, down, neoprene, polyfleece. Better still, a secure and otherwise vacant cave or shelter with a well-supplied fire.

And means of collecting, purifying, and carrying it.

Enough of everything you need, for as long as you need it.

Note that under the above guidelines, a canteen is a water system – for an hour. Add a water filter and a source of replenishment, and it lasts far longer.

By the same token, a poncho is only shelter if the most fearsome beast assailing you is a snowflake or a raindrop. Their resistance to claws and fangs is measured in miliseconds.

 Start looking at your preparedness in the timeframe of “until you die in your bed of natural causes”, and in terms of whether you have adequate systems for each of the above necessities of life.
A “72 hour backpack” beats having nothing at all. But it’s a poor choice to depend upon completely if you’re venturing to a location that’s a week's walk (or limp) from civilization.
More on each system in days to come.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


It's been just over a week since the latest waste of human debris wreaked his own little hell on a small town primary school in Connecticut.

The event was as tragically inevitable and predictable as the turning of the seasons, because we've let one of the most monumentally jackassical abortions of law ever passed stand for two decades worth of similar melees.

Some @$$clowns, like brain-dead Wayne LaPierre of the NRA, tried to argue for curbing violent movies. Really, genius? Violent movies like "Ben Hur"? And "The Ten Commandments"? Or "Lawrence of Arabia"? Or "Star Wars"? Or "Saving Private Ryan"?

Then, erstwhile movie critic and public embarassment LaPierre further vented his incontinent anus about putting police in every school. Brilliant! That's worked so well at airports since 9/11, hasn't it? Let's make them federal employees too. Maybe have them moonlight in lecturing the kiddies on informing on their unpatriotic parents, issuing the kids brown shirts and armbands, that sort of thing? The current administration views the TSA as exactly the sort of "sheepdogs" LaPierre is thoughtlessly carping for. Does anyone really want fat morons who could neither pass a 4th-grade intelligence or PhysEd test groping kindergarteners in perpetuity, and carrying guns while they do it?
I'll pass, thanks.

And predictably, the Leftist lunatics want to relive their glorious days of Bill "DNA on the Dress" Clinton, and re-animate that Frankenfeinsteinian monster, the Assault Weapons Ban, back from the dustbin of Discarded Bad Ideas. DiFi could singlehandedly disprove the belief that it's wrong to pray for someone's swift and overdue death by whatever natural causes the fates will allow.

What's at fault here is plainly and simply, grouping convenient clumps of defenseless sheep together in opposition to the obvious knowledge that some infinitesimally small percentage (0.00001%, in fact) of people are homicidally crazy, and a rather larger percentage (about 3%) are criminal, and both will respond with poor impulse control when presented with a free meal. Much like sharks in a chum line presented with a dangling carcass, their responses tend to be rather predictable.

Violent video games were preceded by violent movies were preceded by violent radio plays were preceded by violent operas were preceded by violent books were preceded by violent Shakespearean plays were preceded by violent medieval fairytales were preceded by violent Greek tragedies, ad infinitum ad nauseum. Blah blah blah. If anyone wants to preach control of expression, HuffPo and DemUnderground are always looking for new (fifth) columnists.

Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin, and Hitler were driven by which of these influences? They demonstrably murdered more masses than anyone in history. Preceded by Napoleon, Genghis Khan, and the Caesars, who were motivated by which of the above nonsensical "causes"? We all know better than to try such easy (and easily provable as false) "outs".

People aren't basically good, they're basically evil. Civilization is fundamentally about getting everyone to curb their inate appetites for killing and destruction and taming them for both their own good and the good of the society. So if we aren't going to blame forks and spoons for obesity we can't blame violent __________ for people reverting to their basest behaviors. That's simply scapegoating something you don't like to spare something you do, which is exactly the stupidity we revile about the Leftist lunatics trying to blame Black Guns and high-cap magazines, instead of themselves, for putting defenseless women and children in easy reach of this latest (but certainly not the last) psychotic twisted little f**ker.

And it bears noting that in (formerly Great) Britain, with an absolute ban on weapons, they have the documented highest crime rate in the civilized world. Higher even than the U.S. Color me shocked.

The correct solution is comparatively caveman simple.

It's far past time for the idiotic "Gun Free Zone" legislation to be stricken from the record books of a sane society.

Revoke all the asinine "gun free zone" nonsense, which two decades of mass killings have proven are worse than worthless, and return the right of concealed carry to any adult - parent, teacher, staff member, whatever - who isn't a crazy or a criminal. Everywhere, in all 50 states, as a basic constitutional right deserved by all citizens, and enforceable under the equal protection and full faith and credit clauses of the Constitution. If the Heller and McDonald decisions mean anything. Because if my marriage license and driver's license are good across state lines, then my concealed carry license damned sure ought to be as well.

And extend "Good Samaritan" immunity from prosecution to any bystander who acts in defense of themself or others using such weapons according to the same "reasonable man" standard (used to keep jackasses from suing people who render aid at traffic accidents), and mass murders will cease faster than icebergs off the Florida Keys.

And let's all agree to leave the silly scapegoating to the chattering morons.

For the children...?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Ballad Of Jim Klein

Everyone who posts on the internet risks the inevitable curse of the hobgoblins of stupidity who infest the web like maggots on roadkill. Conceit is God's gift to small men, but I find it continually annoying that the first screw that comes loose in their heads is universally the one that holds their tongue (or in the case of commenting on blogs, their typing fingers).

So as my homage to one persistent little pseudo-intellectual simian who would probably bask in the glory of this little collection of verse, while being wholly unable to apprehend its precise fit to him, I sincerely dedicate the following ode to a rectal abscess:

There once was a man named Jim Klein
Who ranted for line after line.
Insanity spewed
In rants long and rude
And buckets of piss, moan, and whine.

Jim Klein's apprehension of words
Was likened to that of most birds
Having brains oversmall
But cacophonous call
They would spread profligate, like their turds.

When undone by the logic of others
Raised not by baboons but by mothers
Jim would scrape out his pants
And fling feces and rants
Demonstrating that chimps were his brothers.

Though remonstrated by one and all
It affected Jim hardly at all.
He'd redouble his yapping
Like one hand's futile clapping
Then just sit in his diaper and bawl.

He abated his efforts a smidge
Like a troll grown homesick for his bridge.
He occasioned slight shock
Crawling back to his rock
As an idiot recalled to his village.

One might think other laddies and lasses
From his absence would cry in great masses.
Alas, rather, not
For if everyone shot
Every horse, there'd be still horses' asses.

When In The Course Of Human Events...

Tiny minds like Benjamin Franklin,  John Adams,  Thomas Jefferson, and 53 close friends got together and set us on course to become independent 237 years ago.
After the Revolution, they set us up with our current representative republic , to ensure and secure “the blessings of liberty” henceforth. (Some people will chatter about Adams and Jefferson’s absence at the Constitutional Convention, but given that Adams had laid out in writing years before precisely the tri-part branches of the exact government we adopted, and that the Bill of Rights had not only Jefferson’s fingerprints, but whole handprints, such quibbling is a load of revisionist hogwash.) The marvelous system they devised was a miracle, both for happening at all (check out what most revolutions before and since turn into) and for the genius of the system itself.
The brilliance of the system largely owes to the fact that they trusted absolutely no one with the reins of power. Some people will argue they valued the individual, but again, that’s a lot of sentimental fertilizer. They didn’t value any individual; what they valued was INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY, guaranteed to all by everything. One man was just another potential tyrant; but the rights of any one man had to be respected in all ways and times, or no one would be free. And they set things up so that without widespread agreement, it was difficult to do much of anything. The clunkiness of our system is a feature, not a bug.
Especially recently, in light of the financial apocalypse that’s looming large in our future, a lot of people with, to be generous, 50 pounds of alfalfa reprocessed by cattle in lieu of brains have mused, opined, and flat out agitated for, wholesale dumping of our current system for some other imaginary magic beans. When pressed for details on how this unseen system smarter than one devised by the likes of the original cast would actually function, they’re usually long on magic and short on beans. The formula for these other plans can invariably be summarized as follows:
1.       Burn Everything
       2.       Suddenly A Miracle Happens
       3.       Liberty and Freedom Ensue Forevermore

This is quite simply a trainload of damnable nonsense.
We have, through apathy, allowed a gaggle of certified butt nuggets, over decades, to corrode the system and government that served us so well. That argues for the removal of the corrosion, not throwing out the greatest engine a free people ever had to pull them to the top of the societal heap and stay there as long as they observed the due diligence to maintain that engine.
So a word of warning to those who would agitate arson on a societal scale, in order to re-engineer our government:
When the cure is worse than the disease, the best course to follow is to shoot the witch doctors.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Rumors Of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Conversely, rumors of my lack of internet access have been spot-on.

Blogging and chiclet keys on a smart phone don't mix, but unfortunately, I've solved that problem, and here I am again.

Life, in the intervening few years, has taken a few turns. Kind of like a bobsled driver on meth. I'll begin addressing things as I add to my original trail of electronic crumbs, and we'll just see where things go, shall we?

But I think we've forever settled the question about whether or not the Universe intended me to be able to shut up.