Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Daily Briefing for Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Latest Diet...And The Next One On The Radar

I'm fat.  So I diet.  A lot.

Right now, I am back on the Atkins Diet, which historically has worked the best for me.  I'm down about eight pounds on it over three weeks.  I'm down about ten pounds since February 1st.

Atkins has its pros and cons.  Pros:  Bacon.  Any freakin' time I want it, and as much of it as I want.  And steak in large quantities.   Cons: Pricey (it's lots of meat).  And few carbs.  (I love carbs.)

Now before you all comment on Facebook or here in the comments section, telling me about some diet you're on and how awesome it is or how Atkins will make your pee turn blue, save it.  Not interested in hearing about it, because I already have my next diet strategery lined up.

I'm calling it the Prepper's Diet.  It's not really a diet.  It's just an incorporation of foods we're likely to eat during an extended emergency.  I'm still trying to think through what this will actually look like, but my first thought is that it will look something like this:

  • Lots of beans.
  • Moderate amounts of pastas and rice.
  • Small amounts of other starches, such as homemade whole wheat bread.
  • Any and all fresh vegetables I can grow in my garden (I haven't bought spinach in months, thanks to the Monsanto garden.)
  • Small amounts of whey protein powder and powdered milk.
  • Canned meats as a condiment or ingredient in larger dishes.
  • Sprouts.
This is not to say I won't eat fresh veggies from the store, or that I won't eat a steak or chicken breast now and then.  I most certainly will.  But I am curious to see how my body will react to the diet I describe above.

No launch date for this new diet.  Hoping to lose at least another ten to twenty pounds so I can get off of some of the fat boy meds I am on now. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Daily Briefing for Tuesday, March 27, 2012

This Really Bothers Me.

I'll be the first to say it.  I don't know all the facts.

Nonetheless, I'm going to weigh in on this.  I think you'll understand why shortly.

Today, a class-action lawsuit was filed by 126 former NFL players against the National Football League.  In their lawsuit, the players allege that the NFL withheld information that showed that concussions were dangerous to NFL players.  As a result of the NFL not sharing this information with the players, they allege they have been permanently damaged.


Let me see if I understand this correctly.  In order to get to the NFL, the typical player spends much of their childhood and college years playing football.  Anyone who has played college football will certainly attest to the fact that it is a violent game.  There's a reason you where pads.  There's a reason you wear a helmet.

Dozens of college and professional football players havebeen paralyzed over the last 34 years.  Add to that the countless broken bones, herniated discs, blown out knees, torn ligaments, and other associated injuries.  Football players have to know that there are a number of risks when playing the game.  In fact, in their own lawsuit, the plaintiffs state “The NFL[‘s research on concussions] is completely devoid of logic and science. More importantly, it is contrary to their (the NFL's) Health and Safety Rules aswell as 75 years of published medical literature on concussions."

Despite the "75 years of published medical literature on concussions,” you mean to tell me these football players had no idea that concussions were dangerous?  That it was up to the NFL to disclose, and not to themselves to do their own research, the risks of the game which they were playing?

Yeah, I know.  This is a preparedness blog.  Why am I talking about this?

Think about all the stories we discussed this blog over the last year or so.  Think about all the stories you read from various websites.  Think about all the postings you see on Facebook about this issue or that issue.  Think about all the chatter you see on the various talking head shows on cable news.  I'm guessing most of you have consumed a tremendous amount of data and news over the past year.  Much of the news contradicts other new stories you've read.  The economy is getting better; the economy is getting worse.  Kony 2012 is a great idea; Kony 2012 is a bad idea.  Obamacare will save us money; Obamacare will cost us money.  The list goes on and on.

At the end of the day, friends, it is up to each and every one of us to do our own due diligence.  We have to decide for ourselves who is telling us the truth, and who is not.  We have to decide who has the agenda, and who is simply telling us the facts.  In the end, we must take responsibility for our own fate.  We must be willing to challenge the conventional wisdom.  We must be willing to do our own research.  We must be willing to ask “why” and to “prove it” when something is asserted as truth without reference.

I'm not insensitive to the plight of football players who have suffered traumatic injuries as a result of their sport.  I simply find the claim that "the NFL didn't tell us concussions were dangerous” reflects poorly on those who are playing the game.  At what point was it the players’ duty to research and understand the risk, which, according to their lawsuit, was known for over 75 years?

When it comes to preparedness, we are responsible for own fate.  We must do our own due diligence.  We cannot simply sit back and claim that it's the government’s responsibility to take care of us.  Note that is not a political statement; even if we wanted the government to do that (which I don't), it would be a logistical impossibility.

Do your own due diligence.  Take control of your life and future.  Just because I, or anyone else, tell you to be concerned about something, do not accept it at face value.  Do your own research.  Reach your own conclusions.  If you disagree with my assessment or conclusions, say so.  You may very well educate me in the process.

Standing My Ground On Stand Your Ground

Looks like the guys as Reason magazine have been reading my blog (I know, wishful thinking on my part), but I must say their conclusion that the Stand Your Ground law likely won't apply in the Martin/Zimmerman fight sounds a lot like what I said over the weekend on that particular issue of the case.

Is Gold Money?

First, let me say that if you told me five years ago we'd be debating whether gold is a good investment and whether it's money or not, I would have told you to get your tin foil hat adjusted. 

That being said, I'm much more hesitant to jump to conclusions these days about matters of finance, politics and news.  Time doth make monks of us all.

Jerid picked up on this story from ZeroHedge (again, are you reading ZeroHedge from time to time?  It's part of that due diligence I mentioned earlier).  Regardness of what your position is on whether gold is money, it's clear that the world is turning to it as a safe haven asset.  Plan accordingly.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Daily Briefing for Sunday, March 25, 2012

Shortages Affecting Your Efforts?

Supply and Demand isn't just a good idea; it's the law.

And by that, I mean the law of supply and demand.  For those of you who weren't economics majors in college, in a nutshell supply and demand works a lot like this: the greater the demand for a product is, the pricier the product.  If demand overwhelms supply, shortages of the product are the result.  The shortages are eliminated when other suppliers step up and offer more of the product.

We seem to be getting a first hand lesson in supply and demand, courtesy of Sturm, Ruger (NYSE: RGR).  Ruger recently announced it would no longer accept orders for guns until May of this year, most likely.  Ruger's purported reason for refusing to take additional orders?  Demand for Ruger products had outstripped manufacturing capacity.

I've read a lot of chatter on gun and prepper boards lately about an anticipated increase in the prices of guns, ammo and parts.  Generally, the theory goes something like this:

  • Obama will be re-elected.
  • If that happens, he will try to impose serious restrictions on guns and ammo, similar to the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban (AWB). 
  • To prepare for that contingency, we should buy guns, ammo and parts now.
As you can already surmise, the price hikes and shortages can become self fulfilling prophecies.  Add to that the increase in core inflation in commodity prices (copper, a key component in bullets, is trading towards the upper end of its five year price range).

Look, I don't know what Obama's plans are if he gets re-elected (the odds of which I am still placing above 50%) as they pertain to guns.  I don't see him winning any NRA awards, for certain.  Gun, ammo and parts prices will likely not go down in the coming months and years, even if Obama loses in 2012.

So should you stock up?  Well, yes, especially if you are doing it in bulk to take advantage of volume pricing.  Should you do it in anticipation of Obama winning re-election and implementing more restrictive gun laws?  In my mind, probably not, since a GOP-dominated Congress would likely prevent such laws from coming to fruition.

Yes, I am well aware that the President could use regulatory authority to do what can't be done legislatively.  I would submit there's always a threat of that, regardless of who is in the White House.

Paul's advice: always take advantage of good pricing opportunities, regardless of what you're buying.  And expect similar shortages in other prepper-centric supplies (we've already seen that happen in the storable foods market in the last couple of years) in the next several months.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Briefing for Friday, March 23, 2012

Things Are Not What They Seem

Sadly, human nature provides those of us in the CHL instructor ranks with new material to share with our students in an effort to help them appreciate the responsibilities of carrying a weapon for self defense.  Once again, Florida's most recent addition to the CHL syllabus comes to us at the tremendous expense of the life a young Miami teenager.

Most of you have heard the story (or some of the story, more accurately) about Trayvon Martin's tragic death in Sanford, Florida.  What's making this tragedy more so is the use of it by certain interest groups to promote a political agenda.

I will steer away from the political aspect of this all, but lest you be content in thinking the media is showing restraint, the commentators at MSNBC squarely laid the blame of this tragedy upon the collective consciousnesses of the Koch Brothers, the NRA, Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Jeb Bush, and those promoting Voter ID laws.  Such inflammatory comments clearly show a lack of restraint and civility in our political discourse allegedly desired by many at that particular news network. 

I blog about preparedness and self defense.  And so I am going to take a look at the evidence, as we know it, and try to see what lessons we can learn from this.

And let me say this before I go any further - I am not doing this to defend or condemn anyone.  It's my hope that we can gain some insights from this horrible story into how we might handle a potential self defense situation.  There are plenty of blogs where people are defending one guy and hating on the other.  That's not what this is about.  I'll be spending time with my CHL students talking about this incident, in an effort to teach them one thing:  the aftermath of an alleged self defense shooting is rarely as clean and neat as it is in the movies.

Here's what we know:

  • Trayvon Martin, a black teenager from Miami, was walking down the street in Sanford wearing a hoodie sweatshirt.
  • George Zimmerman was driving in the same area and called 911 to report a suspicious person.  You can hear his entire 911 phone call below:

  • From this call, we know:
    • Zimmerman was told to stop following Martin on foot.
    • Zimmerman described the subject as a black teenage male.
    • Zimmerman may - and I emphasize may - have made a racial slur about Martin during the call.  (I listened to the call about five times and couldn't hear it, so I checked out the CNN website for an audio enhanced version, which you can hear for yourself.)
  •  The Sanford Police Department gave information to the Orlando Sentinel, stating:
    • The prosecution, not the police department, made the decision not to charge Zimmerman.
    • Witnesses corroborated Zimmerman's story that Martin was on top of Zimmerman, punching Zimmerman in the head repeatedly, all while Zimmerman yelled out for help.
    • Zimmerman did get out of his car to follow Martin, but, according to Zimmerman, Martin was the aggressor in the attack leading up to the shooting.
    • Martin's father listened to the 911 call from the neighbor and told officers the voice crying out for help did not sound like his son (the inference being that it was Zimmerman's voice instead). Note a full 41 seconds elapses from the beginning of that 911 call until a shot is fired, during which someone - presumably Zimmerman - is yelling for help.

I'm sure there are many details which I am leaving out, some of which may paint a better or worse picture of each individual involved in this matter.  It's not my intent to convince you of any one's guilt or innocence.  It is my intent to help us all learn from this in the event we are put into a similar situation.

The Neighborhood Watch Discussion

First, let's address the issue of Zimmerman acting as a neighborhood watch participant.  I have participated in neighborhood watches.  And since I have a CHL, I did so while lawfully carrying a gun.  Note I don't carry my gun in order to effectuate an arrest or to stop crime.  I carry it to defend myself and family from any imminent threat of serious bodily injury or death.

Talk to the Department of Public Safety trainers in the CHL program.  They make it very clear: DPS views CHL holders in Texas as the sheepdogs of society.  We are expected to be, first and foremost, good citizens.  We are expected to follow all laws, be attentive witnesses, take good mental notes of what we see in the community, report suspicious people to 911, and yes, use deadly force in those instances where our lives are being jeopardized.

I've sat in multiple community meetings with the Austin Police Department during which APD made it very clear to us: if you see someone in your neighborhood you don't think belongs there, call 911.  They are that blunt about it.

And so when I read comments critical of Zimmerman's participation in neighborhood watches, I have to think it reflects a lack of understanding by those critics as to what neighborhood watch participants and CHL holders are asked to do while out and about in their communities by various law enforcement agencies.

"If Zimmerman Had Stayed in His Car, Martin Would Still Be Alive."

Let's not stop there.  "If Martin hadn't punched Zimmerman repeatedly for at least 41 seconds while Zimmerman yelled for help, Martin would still be alive." 

George Zimmerman clearly demonstrated terrible tactics by getting out of his car and not returning to it when told to stop following Martin by the 911 operator.  Following on foot someone you just described as "suspicious" to the 911 operator, whom you previously advised that there had been a number of crimes in the area, defies logic and common sense, especially if your life or the lives of your family are not at risk. 

Yet from what we know so far, Martin's actions - using deadly force on Zimmerman - is what caused Zimmerman to shoot Martin.

The 911 Tape Proves Zimmerman Is A Racist And Had It Out For Black People.

As I mentioned earlier, I strained to hear any racial slurs in the raw 911 call.  The washed version by CNN makes it clearer, but as the CNN correspondent said in the video, "I wouldn't swear to it in court." 

Let's stipulate for purposes of this discussion that Zimmerman is a racist and hates black people.  Does that negate the fact Martin was using deadly force on Zimmerman by punching Zimmerman in the head while Martin was on top of him?  Does that give Martin the license to do so?  Of course it doesn't. 

We may find out that Zimmerman is a member of the KKK before it's over with.  But at the end of the day, the evidence available to us thus far indicates Martin applied deadly force to Zimmerman, which in turn authorized Zimmerman to use deadly force in return.

What's missing here is evidence that Zimmerman used or threaten to use deadly force on Martin before Martin began hitting Zimmerman.  We may never find that evidence.  It may not exist.  If it does, it would validate the arguments of those claiming Zimmerman should be charged with manslaughter, if not murder.

The Stand Your Ground Law is at fault for this.

This law, more formally referred to as the Castle Doctrine, is generally misunderstood, even by many well meaning CHL instructors.  To wit: I had a CHL instructor once tell all of us in class the Castle Doctrine was named by is creator, a certain Mr. Castle.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

You get an earful on the Castle Doctrine in your Torts class during your first year of law school.  The Castle Doctrine is quite simple: Your home is your castle.  And in your castle, you have no duty to retreat.  A few years back, Florida expanded the Castle Doctrine to state that as long as you had a legal right to be where you are, you do not have to retreat before using deadly force to defend yourself.

Texas has a similar law.  It works to the benefit of the CHL holder.  And yet I stress to my students, that despite the law, if you can retreat  and protect yourself without having to threaten or use deadly force, by all means do it.  Retreating is a tactically sound option.  Was it an option here?  Unfortunately, we don't know.  We may never know.  But there's nothing I've read thus far to make me think Zimmerman broke the law by following Martin. 

Let me be clear on this:  I am not saying Zimmerman didn't break the law by following Martin.  I'm saying I have yet to hear of any evidence that what Zimmerman did in following Martin violated Florida law.  As more evidence comes out, this could be a game changer in his case.

Regardless of what evidence that comes out, I am hard pressed to understand how the Stand Your Ground law applies in this case.  If the law wasn't on the books, and Martin was pounding Zimmerman's head in, Zimmerman would not have had the ability to retreat before using deadly force.  Lacking that ability, Zimmerman would have been within his rights to use deadly force on Martin.

Conclusions and Learnings

I started this discussion by telling you I am not here to score the fight. I am sharing this with you so that those of you who are interested in self defense can learn from it.  Here are my takeaways:

  1. Tactics matter.  Don't leave the relative safety of your vehicle, with all the steel and thick glass surrounding you, if your life or that of your family's doesn't depend on it.
  2. Be a student of gunfights.  I don't mean to sound callous, but we can learn so much from a self defense standpoint when we study tragic events like these.  The best instructors I know study lots of gunfights.
  3. I spend 30 to 45 minutes in my CHL class discussing the effective use of 911.  Assume all 911 calls are recorded.  Assume they will end up on YouTube or enhanced by a audio engineer at CNN and broadcast to millions.  Assume prosecutors will look for every way to use your 911 recording to put you in jail.  Think about what you would say to 911 now, rather than in the heat of the fight. 
  4. Zimmerman's been lucky so far, relatively speaking.  He's not in jail.  No witnesses have come forward to say Zimmerman was the aggressor.   Assume everything you do in a self defense situation is being recorded on a security camera or on some one's iPhone.  Assume it will be on YouTube or the local news.  Let those concerns guide your words and actions.
  5. Be prepared for the aftermath of a shooting.  Be prepared to have the media and community leaders crucify you publicly.  Be prepared for the media to get the story wrong or omit key details.
  6. If you shoot a young person, especially one whose race is different than yours, be prepared to face allegations of racism. 

I begin my CHL class with the the comment that the course is all about problem avoidance.  Take steps to avoid having to use your gun.  Do everything you can to not have to use your firearm to defend yourself.  And if you elect to do so, make certain you can explain your actions so that even the most ardent critic cannot reasonably question your decision.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Briefing for Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Taste Testing Survival Bars

You've seen them before - those cookie/bars loaded with calories touted as survival food bars.  I'm a sucker for sweet things, and so in the interest in promoting preparedness, I taste tested three common brands.

Datrex: My favorite for two reasons.  One, I like the taste (like a sugar cookie, albeit a bit dry).  Two, the servings are individually wrapped.  High in calorie content, a 3600 calorie package sell for $6.95 right now at Emergency Essentials.

Mainstay: The only thing I don't like about these bars is the lack of individual wrapping.  Once you open up the package, you've exposed all of the bars to air.  This is okay in an emergency, since you'd be eating it up relatively quickly.  But even in those situations, individual wrapping is nice, especially if you're out in the elements.  I like the lemon flavor.  Also sold at Emergency Essentials for $6.95.

S.O.S. 1200 Calorie Food Bar: These bars are good.  But they are very dry and crumble easily (like I very dry sugar cookie).  They are also expensive on a per calorie basis ($2.95 for 1200 calories) than Datrex or Mainstay. 

Bottom line: Great shelf life for all three products.  Tasty.  Individual wrapping is key to me.  

Monday, March 19, 2012

Briefing for Monday, March 19, 2012

Awaiting The Storm

I should be in bed.  But the radar indicates a long line of strong to severe storms will be here in an hour or so, which means Foxy the Dog will be running through the house like Ozzy Osbourne on meth.  I figured I will get some things done while I await the storm's arrival.

In preparation for the storm, I elected to see if the weather radio I've used all these years is programmed correctly.  The old Radio Shack model I am using - probably 10+ years old now - was never easy to program.  I hope I've done it correctly. 

Report from Bastrop

The disaster preparedness class I mentioned  last week went well.  I was interviewed by one of the local TV stations, but it appears the story didn't run (too many murders in Austin/March Madness upsets/South By Southwest music festival updates/severe weather stories got in the way, it seems.)

Is This The Calm Before The Storm?

I read a lot of financial and preparedness blogs and publications.  It seems many think 2012 will be relatively smooth for much of the year, followed by more uncertainty and unrest in 2013 and beyond.

The financial markets seem to think so.  Notwithstanding the price of gasoline, we may very well see an increase in equity indices in the coming months. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Briefing for Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I Could Spend Hours Dissecting and Analyzing This.

Except, of course, that I don't have hours to spend doing so.

The NatGeo Doomsday Prepper survey, conducted by Kelton Research, provides all of us with some very eye opening information about Americans' attitudes towards disaster preparedness.  Spend ten minutes perusing the data for yourself.  Some of my initial conclusions include:

  • Severe weather and natural phenomena top the charts as the most anticipated disasters, followed closely by terrorism and financial collapse. 
  • Some 44% of respondents expect a major global catastrophe in the next 10 years.
  • 41% of respondents felt investing in preparations was a better investment than a 401(k).  Looking at a ten year chart of the S&P, it's easy to understand why many would feel that way. 
  • The most common preps?  Storing up on food, water and batteries.  Some 23% of respondents have purchased at least one firearm to prepare for hard times.
  • The three main reasons those who are partially prepared aren't fully prepared?  In order of likelihood: they can't afford it; they don't know how; they don't think we'll have a disaster.

My initial analysis: Prepping is clearly becoming more in vogue.  However, there's a disconnect between people knowing they need to do it versus actually taking the time, effort and resources to make it happen.  If you are preparing for possible emergencies, encourage others by showing them it can be done in a cost effective manner without a significant time commitment.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Briefing for Monday, March 12, 2012

Some Days, It Takes a Toll.

Rap artist Big Daddy Kane once quipped "Pimpin' ain't easy."  Neither is blogging about being prepared.

I will confess there are many nights I think about a blog post an hour after I've published it, thinking "Am I really blogging about bank runs and storable food and FEMA-approved clergy and solar ovens and ham radios and rain barrels and martial law?  What do people who read my blog think about all of this?  Do they think I'm crazy?  A conspiracy theorist?  Are my musings helping anyone at all?"

I don't share this with you in an effort to garner your positive affirmations.  I do get those from time to time; they are greatly appreciated.  Instead, I share it with you to let you folks know that I fully realize much of what I am talking about seems so.....incomprehensible.  Unnecessary.  Void of common wisdom.  Fanciful.  Bizarre.  Not a day goes by that I don't think about the fact my interest for this subject must seem odd to so many people.  Hell, it seems odd to me.  I wish I understood what makes me think about this stuff.

And so, dear readers, rest assured I am well aware some of my writings may seem outside the norm of what most people spend time discussing and analyzing. I get that.  I really do.  Know that when I share things with you, it's because I genuinely feel it's something we need to be discussing, or because I think it will help motivate you to become better prepared for what awaits us down the road.

....And Then Other Days, The Blog Writes Itself.

The despair continues in Greece, where unemployment of young people now exceeds 50%

The Federal Reserve releases the results of its "doomsday stress tests" for 19 banks this Thursday afternoon - "doomsday" defined as "a 13 percent jobless rate, a 50-percent drop in stocks, a 21-percent decline in housing prices and a significant contraction of other major world economies."  (Don't worry, guys - there is NO way the Fed will announce anything other than "the banks are in great shape.  Nothing to see.  Move along."  To do otherwise in a presidential election year would create a tremendous amount of uncertainty in the markets and affect a number of federal elections.)

The Wall Street Journal reports General Electric's CEO Jeffery Immelt penned in his annual report to shareholders that

"the world has entered "a new economic era" in which instability is the norm and emerging markets are growing while developed markets slow.

He said he expects interest rates to stay low for an extended period, and noted that raw material prices have been moving higher while "broad-based social unrest" around the world could be an issue for a long time."

And so I ask you: if you don't believe in preparing yourselves and your families for the possibility of tough times, what response should we have to stories like this?  And what convinces you the risk of trouble here in the United States is so negligible as to not warrant serious consideration?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunday Briefing: March 11, 2012

Change in Sunday Blogs

Starting today, blog entries on Sundays will look at the spiritual aspect of preparedness.

This evening, I'd like to get something on your radar - something I find rather disturbing.  FEMA's use of so called "Clergy Response Teams" should trouble all of us.  Watch this two minute news story and see if it sets any alarms off for you:

Some concerns:

  • The anchor states the biggest problem the government might have in a post-disaster environment is....wait for  Yes.  You and I are the biggest problems FEMA faces.  And by "us," they really mean citizens, for whom the government supposedly works.
  • The pastor who says "we'll straighten it out all later" terrifies me.  Thank God he wasn't working for the government in Nazi Germany.
  • Instructing the "Clergy Response Teams" to rely upon Romans 13 as a way to guide their parishoners to do what the government says also terrifies me.  As pointed out in this detailed analysis, Romans 13 was never intended to mean what the government claims it does.
In short: the government ought not use scripture from any faith to take away the rights of others.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Briefing for Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Post Script to the Kony 2012 Discussion from Yesterday

I debated whether to even bring this up, but given many things I've read over the last 24 hours, it seems there are a lot of people asking some very thoughtful questions about the Kony 2012 video and initiative.  Regardless of how you feel about the matter, I encourage you to read two pieces: this short article outlining another set of concerns about the project, and this piece from Foreign Policy.

I'm betting there is a lot more to this story than we know.  That's not to say that the Invisible Children crew are engaging in nefarious or unethical activity.  But I suspect as more details come out, we may learn things are not as the video would have us believe.

The bigger point I'd like to leave with you - which transcends the entire Kony discussion - is that there is a tremendous amount of data and information out there.  It becomes quite difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff these days.  We must all do our due diligence when we read something on line - including myself.  The only agenda we should strive to promote is the agenda of truth.  Good, bad, or ugly, we should work hard to get to the place where the facts lead us.  From time to time, this may mean the facts lead us to conclude that our preconceived notions are incorrect.  We have to be intellectually honest enough to admit we were wrong initially and thankful that the error in our thinking has been corrected.

Atlanta Jeff Continues To Deliver the Bad News

I don't mean to pick on Atlanta Jeff.  Like me, he just wants to be right in his assessments.  And because of that, he's willing to open his mind and challenge conventional wisdom.

And so this morning, he shared this article with me, entitled "Triple trouble in Europe, US and China brings out the bears" from the London Telegraph.  Spend two minutes reading it and reach your own conclusions. 

What A Crazed Gunman Looks Like

Tom from the KR Training crew shared this link with pics from the Tulsa Courthouse shooting Wednesday afternoon.  A few observations:

  • The gunman looks like anyone you might see on the street.  No long, unkempt hair or beard.  No trench coat.  No out of place attire.  Think about that when you're keeping an eye on your surroundings in public.
  • Note the choice of weapon (a small barrelled revolver) and lack of tactics (failing to utilize cover, poor grip on the gun).  A poorly equipped, poorly trained shooter can cause a tremendous amount of damage.  But a law abiding citizen with the appropriate carry permit and a modicum of training would clearly have had an advantage over this guy.
  • While I don't know how many times the suspect was shot, it's clear he got tagged more than once.  Despite that, he's conscious in the pictures we see after he's been handcuffed.  Most people think that once they've been shot, the fight is over.  Not true: unless you've been shot in the aorta or brain, the survivability rate of a gun shot wound is actually quite high.  This is especially true in urban areas with modern trauma centers nearby.  In the event you are ever hit with a bullet, don't panic - you'll likely live to tell about it.  Instead, stay focused on getting to cover or fighting back.  Or both.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Briefing for Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mixed Feelings About Kony 2012

I may lose some Facebook friends and blog readers over this one.  Whatever.
Many of you no doubt have seen the excellent video which continues to go viral pertaining to the Kony 2012 project.  You can watch it (it's a bit lengthy, although well produced) here:


In case you don't have 29 minutes to watch the video, let me try my best to distill this down for you.

Joseph Kony is a piece of garbage who enslaves kids, rapes and tortures many of them, and forces others to become soldiers in his army.  He forces his child soldiers to kill their own parents and mutilate their contemporaries.  He operates in several African countries, including Uganda, the Sudans and the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

I first became aware of his pathetic existence two or three years ago when I saw the documentary on Reverend Sam Childers.  Childers is the "Machine Gun Preacher" after whom the movie with that title is based.  Childers is a former motorcycle gang member who accepted Christ and began making trips to South Sudan to help the children affected by Kony's war on children.  In addition to building orphanages, Childers picked up an AK-47 and began engaging Kony's operatives in an effort to stop the slaughter of thousands of innocent children, hence his nickname.

I even did a Sunday School lesson on Childers a while back, posing the question: Can Christians justify the use of deadly force to save children? 

Now we have the Kony 2012 project.  The producer and narrator of the video encourages us to keep putting pressure on Congress to keep the United States "military advisers" sent to the region to aid the lawful forces there bring Kony to justice, to end the violence against the people of the region from a ruthless thug.

And now I'm puzzled, for many reasons, to wit:

  • Where were these same Kony 2012 protesters when we made the decision to go into Iraq and Afghanistan?  Weren't children being denied basic rights in Afghanistan?  Weren't innocent people being oppressed, mutilated  and murdered in Iraq?  Why is it kosher to commit military resources to "bring Kony to justice" (I place it in quotes because a .50 caliber round to his cranium would be far more efficient and make for a bigger splash.  Literally.) but it's NOT okay to chase the Taliban and Al Qaeda out of Afghanistan?  Or to stop the abuses of Saddam Hussein against the Kurds and others who were brutalized by him?
  • Once in our nation's not so distant past, we sent "military advisers" into a country to fight tyranny and oppession.  A decade and 50,000 flag draped coffins later, we ended our involvement in Vietnam.  Is the leadership of Kony 2012 okay with more resources being sent to the region, with the possibility of servicemen deaths which naturally flows from such escalations? 
Let me make this abundantly clear, lest you misunderstand me - I fully support the efforts to rid the world of Joseph Kony and the mission of Kony 2012, either by throwing him in prison or by injecting him with a large dose of lead.  But the ironies of the Kony 2012 mission cannot go unnoticed.  To those on the political left, why is this military involvement acceptable but our Afghanistan involvement isn't?  And for those on the political right, why is going into Afghanistan and Iraq, with the concomitant debt and deaths, acceptable to you, but taking out some punk ass bitch who rapes and mutilates children in Uganda isn't worth our trouble?
And if you're a Libertarian, do you simply say "this doesn't concern us" and walk away?  And at what point is it acceptable for a free society to look at that situation and say "When will the local men and women pick up a rifle and fight back?"  After all, that's precisely what the American colonists did some 236 years ago, against a tyrannical government which couldn't hold a candle to the brutality Kony dishes out on a regular basis.

Friends, I don't have the answers to these questions.  But I do know that our national attitudes on issues like this seem inconsistent, from both sides of the political spectrum.  The Kony 2012 project illustrates, along with the need to rid ourselves of Joseph Kony, why our nation needs to completely re-think the philosophies driving our military and foreign policies.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Briefing for Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Whiteboarding DisasterCon 2012

I mentioned a couple of nights ago that in years past I'd toyed with the idea of what I called a "disaster summit."  I'm still not sure what the correct name for such a gathering would be, but for now let's call it DisasterCon 2012.

I got some quick feedback on the idea, making me think it might actually be viable.  I'll be working on an agenda in the coming weeks and beta testing it with you, the Suburban Dad Nation, to get your thoughts on how to improve it.

Alpha Rubicon Is Accepting New Members

I've been in the Rubicon since 2003.  If you are interested in joining it, read about it here.

Today's Puchases....

.....Include some basic cookbooks for storable foods as well as survival food bars from Mainstay, Datrex and SOS for some head to head taste test action.  I'll keep you posted.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Briefing for Monday, March 5, 2012

Spring Forward on Sunday

One of my favorite days of the year - the day we move our clocks ahead one hour - is this Sunday.  Plan accordingly.

Bastrop, Texas Disaster Preparedness Workshop Featuring The Suburban Dad Survivalist

More details to follow - but Central Texas residents might want to pencil in March 17 on their calendar.  I will be emceeing a disaster preparedness event in Bastrop, Texas (about 30 minutes southeast of Austin).  Many of you will recall the Texas wildfires last summer; Bastrop was ground zero for much of the destruction.  The March 17 seminar will focus primarily on wildfire prevention and preparedness but will include a tremendous amount of information on building hardened homes, personal preparedness, and how to use insurance as a preparedness tool. 

Gas Prices - And What the Suburban Dad Nation Can Do About It

The crew over at ZeroHedge came out with some spooky charts about the impact of higher gas prices which, once again, make a tremendous amount of sense.  Yet there's nothing we can do about it.  Or is there?

Of course you can do something about it. 

Aside from buying a Prius or riding your BMX to the grocery store, you can lock in your fuel prices at today's rate for future use.  Let me show you how.

First, go read this at My Gallons.  Then come back to this site.  Don't worry, I'll wait.

Recently, I used the My Gallons site and locked in the price of 50 gallons of fuel at 3.62 a gallon.  With the applicable transaction fees, the break even price for me at this price is 3.85 a gallon.  If gas goes substantially higher than 3.85, I can buy 50 gallons at any gas station and get reimbursed as if I paid 3.85 a gallon for it. 

I've never used this service before, but I've read good things about it.  I bought 50 gallons as a test.  If I find this works well, I will definitely buy a lot more.

There is some fine print.  Make sure you read it.  Overall, it appears to be an effective way to hedge your fuel costs.   

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Briefing for Sunday, March 4, 2012

Field Test: Various Water Purification Systems

Game ball to Texas Todd for sharing this video comparing the various water purification systems.  Predictably, the Berkey wins by a huge margin.  Do yourself and family a favor: go buy a Berkey.

Yard Work Hurts

I spent four hours out in the front yard yesterday weeding, edging, weed eating, mowing, trimming, and bagging clippings and branches (Kendel and Delaney spent a lot of time out there as well).  Today my ham strings are REALLY sore from all of the bending over.  Kendel's are too.  Delaney continues to struggle with stiff quads from Thursday's track meet and Friday's Powder Puff football game.

We suburbanites sadly spend too much time sitting behind a desk or in our cars commuting to and from work.  We don't spend enough time bending over, picking things up, or moving things around.  And yet even in a short term emergency, we'll be doing a lot of bending over, picking things up or moving things around.  To the extent we can get better conditioned for such work, the better off we'd be. 

 Calling Off E&E School

Texas Todd and I also decided we'd bag OnPoint Tactical's Urban Evasion and Escape school this year.  We'd like to do it, but we decided the money could be better spent on additional gear and storable foods.  Yes, we are THAT concerned about the future.

Speaking Of The Future...

I continue to plow through Pat Buchanan's Suicide Of A Superpower.  This is the book which got him fired off of MSNBC (apparently, "Lean Forward" - their service mark - doesn't include "Keep An Open Mind And Listen To Someone Other Than The Same Four Liberals" within its meaning). 

You owe it to yourself to read this book.  It's tough to read: tremendous amounts of stats and data, but through it all he paints a very bleak picture about our future.  On more than one occasion, it's made me wonder why I bother to prep at all.  I hope our children will forgive us and their grandparents for the country they will eventually inherit.

...And Yet We Press On

Cancelling my plans to attend E&E school reminded me of an idea I had several years ago about holding a prepper summit here in Central Texas.  This would be a one day event, on a weekend, likely in the fall (to give me enough time to plan for it) where we'd have speakers address attendees on various suburban preparedness strategies, along with briefings on current events by government agencies and stakeholder groups.

I'm not making any promises here, but if you're interested in something like this, send me an email and let me know what topics you'd want to see covered at such an event.  I'll gauge the interest and see what can be done.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Briefing for Friday, March 2, 2012

Hud On Videotaping Cops

First Amendment expert and fellow Webb School alumus, David Hudson, weighs in on the current state of the law pertaining to video recording cops out on the street.  Let me go on record as being "for" the right to video our public servants carrying out their duties out in public.

Jeff on Christian Lawyers

My good friend Jeff Barnett talks about the interplay between being a good lawyer and being a good Christian in his new blog

Going Back to 9mm

After many years of being a die hard .40 S&W fan, I'm making the journey back to 9mm for my preferred handgun caliber.  The reasons:
  • 9mm is about 2/3rds the price of .40.  I figure after the 6,000 round of 9mm has been fired, I've paid for the gun with the savings.
  • Recent studies show 9mm can be just as effective as .40 or .45 with less recoil.
  • You can get more 9mm rounds into a standard sized magazine than you can .40 caliber rounds.