You know that things like plastic bullets, beanbag rounds, rubber buckshot, etc. are called “Less-than-lethal”, right? It used to be they were called “non-lethal”, but the problem was that sort of title implied that you couldn’t kill anyone with itg. Sixty seconds on Google will show plenty of episodes of people getting brained with ‘non-lethal’ baton rounds and that sort of thing and winding up dead. So…the moniker “Non-lethal” was changed to less-than-lethal meaning that usually it won’t kill someone if you use it properly. A lot of distinctions there.

Many of the blogs I read advocate ‘self-sufficiency’ as a goal. They propose the dream house that is ‘off the grid’ and independent of the umbilical cords that connect us to the major infrastructure. This is all great if you can do it, but it’s a tall order. It seems that the choices are binary…you are ‘off the grid’ and ‘self-sufficient’ or you’re ‘on the grid’ and screwed. There hasn’t been a term for that in-between stage. I think that term is ‘less-than-dependent’. It implies that you aren’t self-sufficient, but you are more resilient to an infrastructure failure than those who are 100% dependent on that infrastructure. Let me give an example…

X has a house in town that has city water, city sewer, grid electric, natural gas, gets his groceries from the market, and that sort of thing. Z has a farm in the hills with a well, septic field, solar/wind generators and batteries, livestock and a huge garden, and all the other gee-whiz that we dream about. X is dependent and not self-sufficient, and Z is , by pretty much most definitions, independent and self-sufficient. Lethal vs. non-lethal. But is there an unrecognized or unacknowledged ‘in-between’? Take Y, who lives in the burbs or on the edge of town. He has his home set up just like X with it’s tie-in to ‘the grid systems’, and he doesn’t have the dedicated systems like Z….but he has backup generators, a cistern and pool full of water, a pantry loaded with food, a large propane tank to run his emergency heater and stove, etc, etc. He’s not 100% dependent, but he’s not 100% independent either. He is, I think, ‘less-than-dependent’.

I bring it up because sometimes I think we forget that it isn’t a binary choice…you’re either dependent or independent, self sufficient or not self sufficient. I think there’s a grey area in there and that grey area is where most of us are. I’m certainly not self-sufficient, in this context, but I’m far from dependent. I may not last as long as the guy out in the hills with his self-sufficient setup, but I’ll far, far outlast my totally dependent neighbors. We all want to leave the dependent stage, and I think we all want to reach the self-sufficient/independent stage, but we should recognize that less-than-dependent is still a huge step in the right direction. Some people may be okay with less-than-dependent, some people may see it as just a stop on their way to independent/self-sufficient, but…if you cannot get to that independent/self-sufficient stage, at least try to get to the less-than-dependent stage.

Article -Confessions Of A Former Apocalypse Survival Guide Writer

This is like finding out the call girl doesn’t *really* love you…..

The first time I bid on a freelance job to ghostwrite a doomsday survival guide, I was only asked one question: Did I have experience writing for middle-aged Republican men? I told the client that I had experience writing for a wide variety of ages and political affiliations, which was noncommittal enough to be true.


The client said, “Sounds good, bro.”


We were off to the races.

Article – Pokemon Go T&Cs strip users of legal rights

I highly doubt anyone here does this but:

As previously noted, Pokemon Go also requires extensive app permissions to run. And the Pokemon Go privacy policy states the company may share aggregated data with third parties, and identifiable user data with law enforcement agencies and other parties for a range of reasons it deems appropriate.

It isn’t hard to imagine that somewhere, “someone” wanted a way to bring millions of people into a program where they could be tracked, have their phone mined for data, and have who knows what other ‘third party’ stuff slipped into their phone. Disguise it as a game and people will line up to hand over their digital keys.

Or, perhaps it’s just a game.

But, to me, it’s just an unnecessary risk. If someone were to really want to play this game, I’d suggest buying a burner phone and using it instead. Expensive as hell, but you probably shouldnt be wasting your time playing this modified and rebranded version of geocaching anyway.

Streamlight Sidewinder cont.

When I was a kid, I loved playing with flashlights. One time I came across a military anglehead flashlight and I was a bit perplexed. All the flashlights I had played with previously were basically tube-shaped with the light coming out of one end of the tube. The GI flashlight was bent into an L-shape and holding the flashlight to get the beam pointed in front of you wasn’t as natural a movement as with the other kind. So…why the awkward design?

Of course, as a little kid it didnt occur to me that when your hands are full (as with a rifle or gear) you needed to hang the flashlight on your webbing and for it to point straight ahead the flashlight had to be in that L-shape.

Nowadays there are several ‘wearable’ flashlight for this sort of thing. A few years back I purchased a Streamlight Sidewinder. It’s been part of my casual everyday carry gear for a while now and it’s worth remarking on how it’s held up and how satisfied I am with it.

The Streamlight Sidewinder is, basically, a 2-AA battery flashlight with four different colors of bulb, and four settings of intentity, with a swivel head. That’s the short version. Longer version is that I’ve found it to be an immensely useful small flashlight. Many times I just drop a little 1-AA light in my pocket and go with that, bur for a more dedicated kit or layout of gear, the Streamlight is my go to.

First off, it’s available with four different color LEDs. You can do white/blue,red/IR or white/blue/red/green. I went with the IR model since you never know when you’ll need to have that sneak factor working in your favor.

The light has one knob with a push button that controls all functions. Push and hold to turn on, and continue to hold to cycle through four levels of brightness. Double-click for flashing strobe mode. Twisting the knob, rather than pushing it, selects which LED is active. There’s a tactile index point so you can select LED’s in the dark.

20160715_184035The Sidewinder has a captive battery compartment lid, which I think is an awesome touch and a sign that someone really sat down and put some thought into this thing. No need to worry about losing the battery compartment lid in the tall grass or in the dark if you’re changing batteries. There are also tactile indicators for battery polarity so you can, literally, change batteries in the dark or with your eyes closed.20160715_183954

The Sidewinder clips to your webbing or whatever using a spring metal clip on the back. In addition to the clip, there is an attachment point for a lanyard or keeper so your light doesn’t go missing if you take a tumble.

The base of the unit is flat, and in conjunction with the adjustable angles head allows you to set the light on a flat surface and point the beam where you want it. One disadvantage is the range of motion for the swivel head…if you have the unit seated on your webbing or otherwise on your shoulder/chest the head doesn’t swivel down enough to light the ground at your feet…it’ll light the area directly in front of you, but not directly beneath and in front of you. This can be remedied by carrying the light upsidedown on your person, but be careful it does’t slide off your gear and get lost.

It’s an excellent light for what it’s designed for – navigation and detail stuff. It’s not the sort of thing you use to light up a field or spotlight something, but for trotting down trails in the dark, navigating pitch black interiors, or examining things where you need both hands free, it excels. As of late, I’ve been spending time in a library facility two stories underground. I notices their emergency lighting is virtually non-existent, so this is the light I take with me in my bag…just in case. I can wear it on the shoulder strap leaving me both hands free to open doors, move obstacles from my path, etc, etc.

They aren’t cheap. In fact, they’re kind of expensive. But mine has held up virtually undamaged over the last several years and I have confidence that if I secure it to my bag and leave it there, it’ll always work no matter how wet things get or how much rough handling it experiences.

There are a few clip-to-your-gear lights out there using LED’s, and I have tried a few of them (and found them wanting) but so far the Sidewinder gets my nod for being the best one out there that I’m aware of.

French stuff

A guy driving a truck manages to kill (according to current numbers) more people than a guy shooting a rifle in a crowded nightclub. That’s interesting to think about since pretty much any yahoo can head down to U-Haul, load up a panel truck with some inertia-inducing weight, dial it up to 60 mph and plow into a Farmers Market on any given Saturday.

The quick response is “this is yet another reason to always be armed”, which is a tad misleading if you know basic physics. There’s nothing you can shoot that isn’t crew-served that’s going to stop a couple tons of mass clipping along at 40 mph. On the other hand, reports are suggesting that after his episode behind the wheel, the driver came out shooting, at which point..yes…time for a  bullet party.

What probably would have made the biggest difference didn’t sit in a holster, but rather between the ears – situational awareness. Know the risks, know the potential chokepoints, kill zones, bottlenecks, etc….be aware of who is around you….recognize that being in a cluster of poeple might make you more of a target than being alone..know where the nearest exit is. That sort of thing.

Sad state of affairs, but that’s the way the world is today and probably will be that way for the rest of our lives. Folks like you and I, people who are used to thinking this way about personal safety, will probably adapt to it quite easily and quickly. We already operate in Condition Yellow most of the time when we’re out of our homes. For us, it’s second nature. Most every cop I know operates with a heightened Condition Yellow as their default setting. Same for a lot of military guys. Check your factory setting and adjust as necessary.

Coopers_Levels_of_Awareness_Indicators_of_ViolenceIt’s an ugly world out there, and Bad Things really can come wearing a thousand different faces. You may not be ready for all of them, but you’ll still be miles ahead of the oblivious, normalcy-biased souls who stand around texting “OMG terror attack” when the smart person is beating feet in the opposite direction.

“It’s a real war, kid…it’s here every day.”

Video – After Armageddon

Remember when [insert name of animal] Flu was the big apocalypse du jour? I was down the YouTube rabbit hole and got sucked into this video.

Man, if this doesn’t make you want to redouble your efforts, nothing will.

This is one of the reasons I think it isn’t a waste of time to watch/read surivivalist fiction (or non-fiction). It gives motivation and makes you think about things you may not have thought about. And wargaming these sorts of things is always an interesting exercise.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go check my stocks of bleach and AA batteries………

Article – ‘MacGyvers’ Born In the Superstorm

When Andrew and Deborah Ku first heard about Hurricane Sandy, they worried that their ground-level bodega—located one block from the beach in Far Rockaway, Queens—would be swamped. They searched for sandbags and found none.

They made an impromptu barrier of faux-sandbags improvised from supplies at hand: cat litter and garbage bags.

The bodega weathered the storm without a drop of floodwater, enabling a reopening as one of the few surviving stores on the hard-hit peninsula.

An article I came across about the impromptu engineering that is spurred by necessity. As Rand said, “Man’s mind is his basic tool of survival.” Everything from Robinson Crusoe to Castaway to The Martian (esp. The Martian, actually) highlights that when you’re caught in a bad situation, it’s the clear-headed, creative, intelligent man who succeeds.

This is why the smart survivalist has a library that covers everything from small unit tactics to emergency medicine to electrical theory and accounting. We’re all familiar with Heinlein’s famous quote: “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”  I’m not sure specialization is necessarily a bad thing..when I need a triple bypass I’d very much like the guy working on me to be not only a specialist, but a very well trained one. However, specialization to the exclusion of things is definitely not a good idea.

Back in the old day, the best you could hope for was to slowly acquire the information you wanted by diligent trips to the library, and scouring new and used bookstores. Nowadays, literally the entire collected information of humanity is available to you on a small computer you carry in your pocket. And you don’t even need to actually read about it…you can see videos explaining whatever you want to learn.

While the information is out there, the desire to learn is not. That’s something you have to get from within. I am always stunned when I meet people so dogmatic that they won’t try new products, ideas, or methods, because “this is good enough”. What kind of person intentionally hamstrings themselves simply because they’re too lazy or narrow-minded to investigate and evaluate new ideas? I had a buddy who thought that his 1941 Johnson was the ultimate SHTF rifle…it was quick to reload (with five round stripper clips), fired a powerful .30 caliber bullet, and had a high-capacity (10 round) magazine. Never mind that it cost around $3000. Oh..and it didn’t do anything an AR-10, PTR-91, or even an M1A would do for half the money. But…facts had no bearing on his beliefs and he persisted in building his apocalyptic future around an outdated, obsolete, expensive, logistically-orphaned, and awkward weapons platform.

I suppose my point is, the linked article shows that when the chips are down, what’s between your ears can be more useful than whats in your pockets (or pack). But only if you’re able to think that way and not be hobbled by “this is how we’ve always done it.”



Race war? Seriously?

I remember something I read somewhere that said “Hating someone because of the color of their skin is just stupid. If you take the time to get to know someone…really get to know them…you can find a much better reason to dislike them.”

Don’t kid yourself…there’s been racial balkanization in this country for quite a while and now it’s becoming even more pronounced. I had a longer post about this but, quite honestly, there is virtually no way to make a long post about race (or sex, religion, abortion, guns, politics, class, and a few other topics) without it turning into a hellish commentfest where everything is picked apart and the original ideas are overlooked.

Unfortunately, the world we live in has moments, especially lately, where even if you’re the nicest person on the planet you can still wind up getting curbstomped because someone doesn’t like how much melanin you’ve been producing.

There’s a host of unlikely events that I actively keep in mind when I’m in preparedness mode. Economic hardship is usually at the top. ‘Race war’ is down there with the Rapture, Xenu’s return, Planet X, and zombie apocalypse. It’s a fascinating world we live in when I actually have to think “Hmm…could that happen here”. Unlikely. Here’s Montana’s racial breakdown (so to speak):

Racial composition     2010

  • White          89.4%
  • Native          6.3%
  • Asian          0.6%
  • Black          0.4%
  • Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 0.1%
  • Other race     0.6%
  • Two or more races     2.5%

Yeah, you read that right…there are actually more Asians here than blacks. In fact, after white folks the next biggest group are Indians . After that, there’s virtually nothing else. Chance of race war in Montana? Same as everywhere else. Chance of it going on for very long? Nil. So…race war goes back on the back burner.

How do you even plan for something like that? I would imagine it’s the same as planning for any other form of civil unrest but with the assumption it’ll be a lot easier to tell which side is which.

I don’t think you’ll ever see something like a real race war in this country. I think the closest you’ll ever see is some of the things that happened in the 60’s and early 70’s, which were pretty nasty at times. But warfare-in-the-streets type of thing? Nope. I think the number  of people who would do that sort of thing are far outnumbered by those of us who don’t see race ( or gender, or class, etc) as being any more worthy of violent response than , say, left-handedness.

Police explosives

Well, it should be a busy day in the blogosphere today…

This is interesting:

Around 11pm, cops cornered a suspect at nearby El Centro College and attempted to negotiate with him, but four hours later the talks failed and a robot was brought in to detonate a bomb and kill the suspect.

I know most police departments have some explosives on hand, but this is the first time I have heard of them actually using them in an offensive tactic since the spectacular fail of the police at the MOVE shootout in ’85.

However, police do have a long history of burning people out of their positions….intentionally and unintentionally. Chris Dorner was burned out of his hiding place, and we all know what happened to those guys down in Waco.

It’s possible a bomb was brought in not to kill the suspect but to blow a hole in the wall or otherwise breach the place and the suspect happened to get caught in the blast. Or, that’ll be the story anyway :::wink wink nudge nudge:::

As an aside, this shooting incident in Texas was predictable given the media hype and coverage of these sorts of protests. There’ll be more, too…that’s virtually a certainty. I’m awaiting the usage of this event to further the gun-ban agenda. Stay tuned.

Independence Day

We don’t celebrate the ‘Fourth of July’. We celebrate Independence Day.

Speaking of…nothing can possibly more Murican than this:

A bald eagle was freed from a tree by a patriotic Army veteran, who spent 90 minutes firing 150 shots into three branches ahead of the Fourth of July holiday.

Jason Galvin, who did two tours in Afghanistan, was on a bait run on Thursday when he spotted the eagle dangling upside down from a rope it got tangled in, according to KARE 11. 

Galvin estimated the bird was hanging from the tree about 75 feet off the ground. It had been there for more than two days.