Saturday, January 25, 2014

Daily Briefing For Saturday, January 25, 2014

Save the Date - Saturday, January 10, 2015 - Third Annual Suburban Dad Survivalist Preparedness Conference

We'll be returning to Cabela's for a third year next January.  I'm planning some changes to the format and presenters, based in large part on the feedback from this year's attendees.  Stay tuned for more details.

Cattle Herd at Multi-Decade Low; Shortages of Organic Food.  But Hey, Payton Is In The Super Bowl Next Week!
Take a few minutes away from your steady consumption of Justin Beiber Leif Garrett Gary Coleman to check out this story.  Think about it - as the world population grows (and food demand grows with it), our national cattle herd has reached a 61 year low. 

Start thinking about how this might affect your family at some point and play accordingly.

Hopefully, Your Bank Won't Cash Block You When You Try To Go Buy Extra Food
The BBC - those wonderful people who brought us intellectually stimulating programming like the Benny Hill Show - yesterday reported that HSBC Bank has begun a policy of restricting depositor's abilities to withdraw large sums of cash from their accounts

Bank customers reported HSBC refused to allow certain withdrawals of sums between £5,000 and £10,000 ($8,250 to $16,500 USD) without sufficient explanation of what the money would be used for. 

Don't believe me?  The article quotes from HSBC:

"We ask our customers about the purpose of large cash withdrawals when they are unusual and out of keeping with the normal running of their account. Since last November, in some instances we may have also asked these customers to show us evidence of what the cash is required for."

The bank then stated that due to customer feedback, it was revising these rules (which, by the way, it never bothered to tell their customers about) regarding withdrawals of large sums of currency.

Why do the banks care why a customer, who presents satisfactory identification to prove their identity, wants their money out of the bank?  There are number of answers to that question, none of them satisfactory and most of them quite alarming.

If your bank imposed a limitation on your ability to withdraw funds - as one of my readers experienced and shared their story with me in a previous blog entry - how would you deal with that?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Daily Briefing For Thursday, January 16, 2014

Suckage Factor On The Rise?

Okay, I'll admit - I just made up the term "Suckage Factor."  But I am calling copyright or trademark or whatever that thing is your supposed to do when you want to make other people pay you money for using your tag line.  I'll sue any of you people that use it without paying me a royalty.

It looks like our Suckage Factor is on the uptick, as evidenced by these heartwarming stories:

America's Dwindling Economic Freedom.  We're now out of the top ten nations for economic freedom.  Yes.  Us.  'Murica.  You'll note residents of both Mauritius and Estonia enjoy more economic freedoms than we do.  (And I'll admit - I'd never heard of Mauritius until today.  Turns out it's a small island in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar.)

What was paranoia absurdum five years ago is apparently standard operation procedure at the NSA.  The alternative media has been talking about this (and been ridiculed for doing so) for quite some time now.  Anyone want to believe the NSA isn't using this technology on domestic computers?  "...A covert channel of radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards inserted surreptitiously into the computers. In some cases, they are sent to a briefcase-size relay station that intelligence agencies can set up miles away from the target."  Yeah, I'm sure it's legit.

Stock market technicians are starting to see eerie parallels in this market and other ones that didn't go so well.  I don't read charts much anymore, having learned a while back that, candidly, I'm not that good at it. 

So what are we to do?  I don't know that we are to do anything differently than what we are doing now.  Continue to pay attention, learn new skills, and keep your financial house in order.  There's a lot out there we cannot control.  Focus on what you can.

Jonathan Turley Says We're Facing "The Most Serious Constitutional Crisis I Have Viewed In My Lifetime." 

Let me start by saying that Jonathan Turley is one liberal I like.  Not that he and I agree on a lot of stuff (we don't), but I find him to be intellectually consistent and a proponent for the rule of law.  In a world where "when-my-guy-does-it-it's-okay-but-when-your-guy-does-the-same-thing-he's-wrong" passes as a legitimate tool of public policy creation, Turley states his core beliefs and calls balls and strikes consistent with those beliefs.  I admire that in anyone, regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum.

And so when he spoke on the issue of the executive branch's encroachment into other branch's powers, I took note.  And in typical Turley fashion, he pulled no punches.

Here it for yourself:

Now many are holding up this testimony as a dig at the Obama Administration, yet he clearly says this encroachment began during the Bush 43 presidency. 

Friends, the awakening continues.  More people, from both sides of the political aisle, are paying attention now than ever before.  And they're electing not to simply camp with the Red Team or the Blue Team, instead opting to take a fresh look at their long held beliefs and the current policy positions that the Reds and Blues are taking. 

Encourage your friends to challenge their own beliefs and to analyze what's really going on.  Find common ground with those who are politically different than you are in an effort to encourage others to do the same.  Encourage them to make those common issues a priority for them when choosing a candidate to support. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Daily Briefing for Thursday, January 9, 2014

Three Conferences For Your Consideration

The SEC, the ACC and the Big 12.  Consider them.

Okay, that's NOT the type of conference I was talking about. Instead, I'm referring to the conferences where you actually learn something.

I know of three conferences coming up in the next 90 days that many of my Texas readers might want to consider attending.  Here they are:

Leslie Buck at Tactical Arts in Austin - yes, the same Leslie Buck who presented at this year's SDS Preparedness Conference - is holding three different workshops on edged weapons, impact weapons and handgun disarm skills.  Leslie is a fantastic presenter and shares his experiences and knowledge without much of the bravado one encounters at these types of seminars.  These will be really good training opportunities for those who are wanting to learn more about these subjects.

Karl Rehn at KR Training is bringing Massad Ayoob to Austin on March 8 and 9 for his MAG-20 course.  I am a big fan of Ayoob, as his experience and observations in the courtroom reflect the realities of the litigation environment.  For those of you who are concerned about managing the pre and post shooting environments effectively, this is an outstanding way to learn.

Caleb Causey at Lone Star Medics has a two day Field and Tactical Medicine Conference in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area on March 29-30.  Take a look at the number and diversity of speakers who will be presenting at this event.  Early bird pricing ends on January 15.  For those of you wanting to jump start your medical training or get some specialized guidance in a particular area of tactical medicine, this workshop would be a good place to start.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Daily Briefing For Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Back on Frequency

I trust all of you had a great holiday season.  There's much to discuss.  Let's get into it.

What Am I Doing To Get Better Prepared In 2014?

This year's slogan for me is "Skills, Not Stuff."  I got plenty of stuff.  I need more skills to use what I have more efficiently.  I'll be updating you throughout the year as I make progress on learning new things. 

Postscript:  The Second Annual Suburban Dad Survivalist Preparedness Conference

We had a great turnout again this year - 50 folks joined us last Saturday to hear presentations from a number of great speakers. 

As a result, we're at something of a crossroad - have we completely exhausted everything that can be covered in a seminar format?  Do we need to move exclusively to a hands-on workshop, or should we continue doing the January conference AND do a workshop?

I'm working with Karl and others at KR Training to develop a workshop for this summer.  It will be more hands on, and I'm very excited about it.  I'll post more here as we get the details hammered out.

On a side note - for attendees - if you still haven't received the handouts, please let Karl know.

"Why The Doomsday Prepper Idea That You Can Survive Apocalypse On Your Own Will Fail."
Not my headline, but rather one from  The Hampton Institute's Jeriah Bowser pens a piece explaining
why many of you people will fail in your preparedness efforts.

And for the most part, I agree with his conclusions.

But let's back up a bit.  According to their website, the Hampton Institute (named after the former Chicago chapter leader of the Black Panther Party, Fred Hampton)

is dedicated to not only providing commentary, theoretical analysis and research on a wide range of social, political and economic issues from a distinct, working-class perspective; but also to focus on the continuation of transforming these ideas into practical steps towards revolutionary social change. 

"The Hampton Team" is comprised of a number of individuals, and from their bios and issues of interest, it's safe to say they approach matters from a left of center perspective.  That's not a criticism; it's just an observation.

Back to the article.  Ron shared the link above, asking me for my take on it.  Here are a few thoughts:

1. The author isn't some Pollyanna, trying to sell the readers on the notion that everything is okay.  In fact, the editor's note says "The author of this article, himself a believer in a coming collapse, argues from his experience that cooperation is the only sure way to survive."

2. He (needlessly) laments the number of guns owned by Americans, paying no homage to the Constitution and what it's allowed us to do as a nation since our modest inception, or the fact that despite increasing gun ownership rates, violent crime continues to trend down overall.

3. He then goes on to complain about his wilderness survival students and what horrible people so many of them are. 

I have realized a startling and discomforting aspect of Prepper culture which has only grown more prominent since I first noticed it. I call it the "defend what's mine" phenomenon.

The "defend what's mine" mentality states that the moment "shit goes down," every other human in the world instantly becomes either a resource to be used or a threat to be eliminated. Whomever you designate as "your tribe" are the only people with any value - all others are simply mindless sheep to be picked off with your shiny new AR-15. Proponents of this mentality frequently either have or wish to have underground bunkers ready to hide in and defend themselves from "invaders," often with such brutal methods as land-mines, flame-throwers, electrically charged fencing, and of course, big guns. They regularly speak of their intention to protect "their land" and to destroy anyone else who would dare want to share that land. Never have I encountered someone who is prepping for the purpose of building a post-apocalyptic community or offering a haven of help and support for other less-prepared people in the event that something terrible does happen. No, the dominant formula for Prepper success seems to be: build a bunker, store a lot of food, water and guns in there, and kill anybody else who wants what you have.


"Sadly, even the students who 'get it' eventually graduate the program and must move on to the rest of their lives, dutifully fulfilling their role in the industrial machine, back to world of competition, scarcity, rugged individualism, and violence."

4. Despite these biases, the author pulls himself out of the proverbial ditch with these observations:

I very strongly believe that, in the coming collapse, those who are able to build communities and work together - abandoning their childish, apocalyptic fantasies - will have a much better chance of survival than any Prepper I have come across. Besides, what is "survival" even worth if you are encased in a concrete bunker for years, eating MRE's and drinking recycled piss water, living in a constant state of paranoia that someone will "take what's yours?" Not me, I would much rather live my last days actively doing meaningful work with people I love, creating a more beautiful world than the one we left behind; a world that is based on egalitarianism for all species and types of humans, a world built on cooperation, sustainability, simplicity, and freedom. You can keep your bunkers.

The guy is a bit na├»ve.  We need to look no further than the looting that followed Hurricane Katrina or the L.A. riots of 1992 to know that bad things will happen if civilization were to unravel.

And yet, I think he's right to conclude we need to be working in community both now and after an emergency to be good stewards with our environment, our tax dollars and our constitutional rights.  So many in the preparedness movement have a "go it alone" mentality, which will not serve them well long term. 

I'm reminded of that scene in the movie The Patriot where Lord Cornwallis admonishes an ambitious Colonel Tavington that "These people are our countrymen, and after this war is over we will resume commerce with them."  Like it or not, our fellow citizens - many of whom are not prepared and are making no effort to do so - are our countrymen.  We can find ways to work with them, or we can isolate ourselves from them.  Our forefathers did the former.  So should we.

A Year's Supply Of Food For $800.

Here's a great way to jumpstart your food preparedness plan.  By following this incrementally and making it a priority, this plan is well within the reach of most Americans.