Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday, February 20, 2012

Update for Monday, February 20, 2012

Fun With Data and Charts and Numbers and Guns

I often link to pieces from ZeroHedge, simply because there's nothing else in cyberspace that can process the data they way they do.  I could spend an hour looking at this chart on how Obama has affected the gun community: gun sales, CHL applications, hunting license applications, guns ownership, and on and on.  Fascinating info and great fodder for discussion: given the positive impact Obama had on gun sales, should gun manufacturers back him for a second term?

Thoughts of Dr. Sheldon Marks on Emergency Medicine

I heard Dr. Marks, a surgeon who volunteers his time with Tucson SWAT, on a radio program today talking about emergency medicine.  He made some great points, which include:

  • Prevention is key.  He implored listeners to get into shape and get postponed procedures, like dental work, done ASAP.
  • Do the basics well.  Get your immunizations for things like tetanus and hepatitis.  Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly to prevent disease transmission.
  • Stock up on the basics.  Bandages, over the counter meds, including one of his favorite pain reducers, 800mg ibuprofen, should all be in our first aid kits.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Libertarian Versus Prepper

The Libertarian in me says we need to privatize the National Weather Service.  The Prepper in me wonders if that's such a good idea.  In the end, however, we should ask ourselves: do we really need a National Weather Service?  Isn't there a plethora of companies providing weather products in the marketplace? 

Here's some background reading on the matter for your weekend.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

An Open Letter to NatGeo

Dear National Geographic:

First, I want to commend you for devoting resources to create the television show Doomsday Preppers.  FEMA, the Red Cross, and countless other government and non-goverment organizations (NGOs) strongly recommend people make plans and obtain the resources to support themselves in an emergency.  Your television show certainly draws further attention to the need to be prepared.

Having watched several episodes of your show, however, it has become clear the goal of the program isn't to promote preparedness or to give people ideas on how to better prepare themselves.  Instead, the hour long program appears to be aimed at finding the most morbidly obese people who have taken prepping to such extremes that they ought to be seeking the help of a psychologist. 

Your use of subtitles throughout the show to challenge what people are saying is rather off-putting.  To criticize the woman who is stocking up in cocoa because, in her words, it had gone up 30% in price over the last year by running a subtitle which said something to the effect of "cocoa prices have gone down over the past year" is rather misleading.  To be sure, cocoa prices did fall dramatically in 2011, but the price spiked throughout Q4 2010, to the point that CNBC ran regular features on cocoa prices throughout early 2011.  Yes, her data was a bit stale, but the fact she was paying attention to commodity markets - something I doubt many at NatGeo HQ do - reflects her understanding of what's important for a prepper to monitor.

Further, you seem to think these preppers have unlimited resources to devote to prepping.  To chastise the young woman from Houston for not having more water in her modest apartment, when it was clear to any viewer watching the show she was doing the best she could with the resources she had, reflects a complete disregard to the fact preppers are making do with the resources at their disposal.  Not all of us have huge budgets to enable us to set back three years worth of food, water, medical supplies, guns, ammo, clothing, and miscellaneous supplies. 

By the way, who are these nameless, faceless "experts" who ostensibly know so much?  It's hard for anyone to give any credence to what they say if we don't know their credentials.  Why not make their identities and qualifications public so as to allow viewers to vet them?

And does it ever dawn on your experts that if someone is prepared for hyperinflation, they are also better prepared for a loss of a job?  Or a storm?  Isn't the person that's preparing for an EMP event better prepared for an economic downturn as well, merely by the fact they're more self sufficient?  Apparently not, since you never seem to make that point.  I've been prepping and blogging for a long time, and I can't recall meeting anyone who is prepping for just one one particular peril.  Preppers plan for a wide spectrum of scenarios.  Why you don't recognize that is beyond me.

Let me encourage you to keep the show on, but rather than using it as a tool to ridicule the "outliers"  with nameless experts, use your program to offer normal preppers meaningful guidance from established professionals.

Again, I hope you keep the show on.  It does serve a good purpose.  With some improvements, it could be a phenomenal show.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bernanke on Housing

Thinking your home is still a safe place to invest?  Think again.  Uncle Ben told the National Association of Home Builders last week "housing may no longer be viewed as the secure investment it once was thought to be, given uncertainty about future home prices and the economy more generally." 

I cannot stress how huge this is.  When the head of the Federal Reserve tells America that the stalwart investment of the average American's net worth - their home - may not "be viewed as the secure investment it once was thought to be,"  you'd better start paying attention to what the hell is going on in the economy and government. 

Moody's Downgrades A Bunch of Europe

This news isn't surprising, but it does confirm what readers here already suspected - the EU is in big trouble.  It's inconceivable that anyone can rescue them - not us, not the Chinese - there's simply too much debt and not enough economy to pay it off. 

The CDC's New Worry - Untreatable Gonorrhea

Yes, you read that correctly.  Untreatable gonorrhea is coming to a 'hood near you.  So, be careful what you....well, you know.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

So What Else Is New?

As the media hurries to cover the untimely death of Whitney Houston, I can exhale a bit, knowing that the fact Greece is on fire right now isn't that important.  Otherwise, the media would be covering it.  Right?

CHL Classes Continue Course

I taught another round of CHL today.  Five great women and one of their great husbands made for a wonderful class.  It's great to teach responsible people what they need to know about the law and handgun ownership.  They enthusiastically completed their time on the range despite the sleet and snow plaguing Central Texas today.  I'm very proud of them and honored to have been their instructor.

Are you sharing your knowledge and helping others to prepare?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Paintball?  And Storeable Foods?  Really?

I should be getting ready to teach tomorrow's CHL class, but I wanted to share this link with you containing various memos from the FBI.  Be sure to check out the ones on paintball and military surplus vendors.

No one wants to end terrorism more than me.  And yet I am baffled as to why people who:

  • insist on paying in cash, or
  • wish to protect their identity from identity theft, or
  • shave their beard, get a new haircut, or change their hair color, or
  • make bulk purchases of storeable foods, or
  • set up a paintball field on some rural acreage, or
  • buy "firearms and ammunition out of season" (whatever the hell that means), or
  • demonstrate no enthusiasm or interest for the hobby of remote controlled aircraft
are somehow deemed "suspicious." 

To be sure, someone asking about how to blow up a building or take down an airliner should raise red flags, but to use such broad suspicious indicators like those mentioned in the memos should give all of us reason for concern. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Montana Winter Survival Course for Pilots

This looks really cool (no pun intended).  We should all be looking for training opportunities.  Texas Todd was in town last night, and he and I discussed attending urban escape and evasion training with OnPoint Tactical later this year.  You can see what we'll be up to in this video.

First aid, self defense, food preservation, home repair - we all need to be acquiring skills.  Get some.

Are You Watching Doomsday Preppers On NatGeo?

NatGeo has a new season of Doomsday Preppers, which began on Tuesday.  There's a lot I could say about the show (hopefully I can blog about my thoughts on it in the coming days).  Regardless of what we might think about it, it's a good series of case studies from which we can learn.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Query: Is This Scalable?

I hope you're getting the regular emails from Emergency Management, which today sent out this link about how to create a Storm Ready community.  Since the program's inception, 1,868 communities have partnered with the National Weather Service to become a Storm Ready community.

Reading the article made me wonder - is it possible to scale down the Storm Ready model to fit a neighborhood?

The article details how a community can become Storm Ready.  I revised the checklist in the article to see if it could be scaled smaller for a neighborhood application (requiring no local government resources or involvement).  My suggestion:
To be considered StormReady, a community must:
  • establish a Storm Ready team who monitors alerts via NOAA weather radio 24 hours a day (they don't literally have to have the radio on; they just need to make sure someone is near the radio at all times);
  • have multiple ways to receive severe weather warnings and broadcast alerts to the neighborhood, such as a mass email, social media like Facebook, or mass cell phone texts;
  • create a system that monitors local weather conditions, using home weather stations and, ideally, at least one trained storm spotter with ham radio certification;
  • promote the importance of public alertness through regular emails and social media postings; and
  • encourage others in the neighborhood to get training as severe weather spotters and volunteer emergency responders.
Lest you think I don't practice what I preach, I will tell you I headed up my homeowner association's Traffic and Safety committee a few years back.  Let's just say the HOA wasn't quite ready for full bore preparedness the Paul T. Martin way.  After a couple of years, I hung it up, tired of the people complaining about the fact I'd send out an email letting the 'hood know someone down the street just had an attempted home invasion minutes earlier.  Apparently, ignorance is bliss.

If you have a group in your neighborhood who thinks alike on this subject, it might be a good idea to implement something like this for weather dangers and other perils as well.

POLITICAL LINK - Blue Teamers/Obama Supporters Feel Free To Skip This Story

I don't go political very often on my blog, because there's already a lot of it out there.  But occasionally I will have an Obama supporter tell me Obama isn't anti-gun and won't try to enact anti-gun legislation if he's re-elected.

Then consider the recent comments by Attorney General Eric Holder:

This administration has consistently favored the re institution of the assault weapons ban. It is something that we think was useful in the past with regard to the reduction that we’ve seen in crime, and certainly would have a positive impact on our relationship and the crime situation in Mexico.

Never mind the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 (AWB) did little if anything to curtail violent crime.  From the Clinton Administration's Justice Department:

The ban’s short-term impact on gun violence has been uncertain, due perhaps to the continuing availability of grandfathered assault weapons, close substitute guns and large capacity magazines, and the relative rarity with which the banned weapons were used in gun violence even before the ban.

(emphasis added).

Obama is anti-gun.  Look for a second term Obama Administration to push the issue. 

SDS Gameball Of The Week Goes To....

....the Austin area suburban dad who fended off a mountain lion out in West Texas.  With a pocket knife.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Atlanta Jeff On Why Low Interest Rates Are Bad For America

As most of you know, we continue to see extraordinarily low interest rates.  I asked Atlanta Jeff, who has an MBA from Wake Forest, why this is a problem for the economy.  His bullet points include:

  • With rates at near zero, people lack incentive to keep deposits in banks, as they earn nothing.  While a few of us look at dividend yielding investments, most of the masses just spend.
  • Most of the masses need to spend because in the real world, they are:
    • 1) not seeing their wages increase,
    • 2) two income couples are becoming one income couples, and
    • 3) prices are going up (in spite of what the "inflation" number is). 
  • The things that drive the aforementioned three points are businesses are hesitant to hire in the USA, diminished agricultural production and continued uncertainty in the oil markets.
  • Also, since the PRC and others are slowing down purchases of our bonds and our esteemed leaders in Washington cannot seem to address the fiscal goat rodeo that we are in, the Fed is buying up our paper to prevent a wholesale collapse in demand for our paper.  To purchase said paper, the Fed just prints more currency.
  • The Fed, with the Treasury, is tightening regulation on the big banks because they are getting the blame for the 2008 mess.  They are forcing the big banks to have higher reserves.  Since US paper is considered acceptable for the reserves, the banks, individually and through the Fed, hold a bunch of this paper.  Since it earns no interest, they don't pay out interest.  Also, because of tighter regulation, they don't lend money either.
  • So, all of that being said, the middle class can neither earn on their savings nor get a loan to start a business or improve their lot in life.

Are You Watching Doomsday Preppers?

New season on NatGeo.  Check it.

    Friday, February 3, 2012

    One Article For You To Read This Weekend

    Lot going on this weekend, so I won't be around to blog much.  But I will leave you with this story, in the wake of today's otherwise seemingly good employment report (you may need to click on the chart to get it to fully view....and when you do, it's breathtaking to say the least.)

    This isn't mere statistics.  We are talking about the well being of our fellow countrymen and women.  Before you say "It's Bush's/Obama's fault," depending on whether you're Team Red or Team Blue, try to think beyond that.  Ask yourself:  Partisan rhetoric aside, what do we really need right now to right the ship?  My thoughts:

    • Repeal Obamacare and other regulations which impede job growth.  Many employers don't want to hire due to the uncertain compliance issues raised by the law.  PBS did a great story on this back in December from Nashville.  Yes, we need to figure out a way to reduce health care costs in this country.  This isn't the plan to do it.
    • Cut federal spending across the board.  Now.  Including defense spending.  The bleeding must stop.
    • Create a meaningful immigration policy which does not include amnesty.  There's all sorts of talent wanting to move to America to work:  white collar and blue collar.  Get them here.  Now.
    • Repeal the Internal Revenue Code and move to a flat tax system.  Yes.  No economy ever taxed its way into prosperity.  Stop the war on savings.
    • Stop the war on achievement while we're at it.  Hell, stop the war on drugs, too.  Put all of those non-violent drug offenders who are sitting in jail on a bus back home to their families.
    • Audit the Federal Reserve.  What are they hiding?  We need more transparency from our central bank. 
    • Allow bad businesses to fail or go into bankruptcy.  Allow homes to go into foreclosure.  Yes, it sounds harsh.  But necessary to restore the markets.

    Wednesday, February 1, 2012

    21 Day Challenge Begins Today

    I began a 21 day diet from a local health food vendor here in Austin.  You eat their stuff for 21 days, and theoretically you lose ten to eighteen pounds if you're a man, a bit less if you're a woman.  I look forward to reporting on my results.

    Preparedness begins at home.  I've said it before, but it bears repeating: all the MREs, silencers, AR-15s, tactical pants and ham radios won't help you if you're out of shape or otherwise unhealthy if we were to go grid down for a period of time.  This needs to be every prepper's priority for 2012.

    Of Course, We May All Be Eating 2,4 D Before It's All Over

    Jahna the Gladiator posted this story which I am still trying to digest (no pun intended) entitled "The Organic Elite Surrenders To Monsanto: What Now?"  Apparently, organic advocates like Whole Foods Market and Stonyfield Farms have reached an agreement with the USDA to drop their opposition to genetically engineered alfalfa and other plants in exchange for the USDA to begin regulating the genetically engineered seeds.

    As I mentioned last night, please start paying attention to stories like this.