A Time for Men

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Baltimore, the Greatest City in AmericaJames Lafond, who lives in Baltimore, suggests we may be entering another time for men:

I have noticed that many libertarians and masculinity advocates in their 30s and 40s are hoping for civil unrest and government breakdown so that men may once against find a place in society along traditional lines, as protectors, as the strength of a family, or the autonomous drivers of a business.

[...]

Commercial districts and residential areas were patrolled by gangs of 5–15 mature black men with clubs, unopposed by police, but easily deterred by the two gun armed white men who stood up to them. The professional gun-armed black criminals were staging home invasions, drug stash-house raids, and stealthy break-ins of high value targets under cover of darkness and were not present as officers with the bully packs, as they were in Rwanda, making these incursion teams shy away from organized and/or gun-armed white men.

Approximately 12 murders were reported on social media and are, just now — a week later — being looked into by police and the media. I theorize that as many additional drug gang executions and assassinations took place during this period, and that the riots and zero police presence outside of the riot zones, has facilitated easy disposal of the bodies and blocked any effective investigation. It seems likely to infer that the three gangs that organized these riots: the Cripps, Bloods and Black Guerilla Family, have strengthened themselves at the expense of rival crews, which may therefore alter the scope of the next round of unrest in ways I could only guess at.

Over 200 businesses, including at least 13 pharmacies, and up to a third of liquor stores, have been wiped from the face of the earth, many of them minority businesses which are uninsured and will not recover. This places the drug gangs in a position to expand the illegal economy in areas where businesses will not return — as they did not return after the 1968 riots — which offsets losses of territory recently suffered at the hands of Johns Hopkins Hospital and University buying up drug territory.

[...]

The leaders and academics of our sick corrupt society have labored for nearly two centuries to emasculate our young men from the cradle to the grave.

I now observe, through what of my primal man’s eye I have been able to salvage from this systematic assault on my humanity, that all it takes is a few urban savages to rip the mask away from the slave mistress that owns us to expose her for the impotent squabbling bitch that she is, and open the door for men to be men once again, as the lie that encases our souls crumbles to dust with every fumbling falsehood that falls flat beneath the reality of naked force. The hooting black heathens that have hunted me in the streets of Baltimore for over 30 years might be my enemies, but they at least acknowledge my manhood as they probe for my every weakness, and have struck a resounding blow against the slave mistress society that seeks with its every apparatus to render me weak to the point of meek.

The Enemy of My Enemy is Still My Enemy, and I recognize his achievement, even as I prepare to oppose him.

(Hat tip to our Slovenian guest.)

Spinel

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

The US Naval Research Laboratory has created a transparent, bulletproof material that can be molded into virtually any shape:

This material, known as Spinel, is made from a synthetic powdered clay that is heated and pressed under vacuum (aka sintered) into transparent sheets. “Spinel is actually a mineral, it’s magnesium aluminate,” Dr. Jas Sanghera, who leads the research, said in a statement. “The advantage is it’s so much tougher, stronger, harder than glass. It provides better protection in more hostile environments — so it can withstand sand and rain erosion.”

What’s really cool is that unlike most forms of commercially available bulletproof glass — which is formed by pressing alternating layers of glass and plastic sheeting together — Spinel doesn’t block the infrared wavelength of light. That means that this stuff can protect a UAV’s surveillance camera or the lens of a HEL-MD laser without hindering the device’s operation. Plus, Spinel weighs just a fraction of a modern bulletproof pane. “If you replaced that [pane] with spinel, you’d reduce the weight by a factor of two or more,” Sanghera continued.

Gallipoli

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

The Gallipoli Campaign may go down in history as one of the great military blunders, but it stemmed from a reasonable strategic aim to restore the line of communication with Russia via the Dardanelles to keep the Eastern Front active. Further, the original plan was rather different:

There were three ways that the Allies could employ to gain control of the Dardanelles and the Bosphorous. One method was to send a fleet to force the Strait and then, presumably, bombard Constantinople itself from long range.

[...]

Another option was to land troops on the weakly defended Gallipoli Peninsula, secure the coast of the Strait, then march overland to Constantinople.

[...]

The third option was to do both: seize the Straits and the Peninsula. These attacks would mutually reinforce each other: land forces seize and hold the forts while minesweepers clear the Straits, then Royal Navy ships fire in support of the troops as they approach Constantinople. Admiral Fisher, First Sea Lord, immediately seized upon this option but stressed that it must be simultaneous and it must be done as soon as possible.

[...]

Opposition to Fisher’s plan, especially amongst generals on the Western Front who wanted every man available for the trenches, led to a half-way compromise.

[...]

The first naval attack occurred on February 19th, 1915 when the ships exchanged fire with the Turkish forts. Poor weather caused a full attack to be delayed until February 25th. Initially, the attack went well. Turkish gunners fled from the heavier bombardment from the battleships. Small units of British soldiers and Marines were landed on both sides of the strait and encountered only light resistance except one fort on the Asiatic side whose defenders inflicted heavy casualties on Royal Marines before capitulating.

The Turkish gunners, however, soon returned and resumed firing as the Allied troops abandoned the forts. The small minesweepers, manned by civilians, fled from the harassing fire despite not being hit. The task force again withdrew to regroup. Another full attack was planned for March 18th. By then, the Turkish forts seem to have found their range. Minesweepers cleared the first line of mines, but again the small ships fled once under fire of the forts. In this attack, the Bouvet, the Irresistable, and the Ocean were sunk. The Inflexible, the Suffren, and the Galois were damaged enough that they were out of action. The Albion, the Agamemnon, the Lord Nelson, and the Charlamagne were heavily damaged.

The naval commander, Admiral de Robeck, at first wanted to renew the attack but by March 22nd, the decision had been made by the Kitchener to send the troops required for a land campaign. The naval task force turned to await the arrival of the troops.

Had the troops been present, this would have been the perfect time for the Allies to succeed. The naval attack had induced panic in the Turkish army and their German allies, who sent urgent requests for reinforcements of any kind. No counterattack was ever executed against the landing parties that were sent ashore. When news of the British attack reached Constantinople, the Turkish populace panicked. Government officials made plans to flee the capital. The naval attack had come on the heels of an abortive Turkish invasion of Russia which ended with massive Turkish casualties at the Battle of Sarikamish on 4 January 1915. The German embassy expected the Turks to sue for peace and burned their records in expectation of fleeing the city. Even a few shells lobbed into the city might have caused a complete collapse. The only ones that expected the allied attack to fail were the allies themselves. The Turkish government was so panicked that they entirely turned over the defense of the Dardanelles to the ranking German advisor, General Liman von Sanders. Sanders knew that an amphibious attack was coming and, looking over the panicked Turkish defenses, said: “If the English only leave me alone for eight days!”

The allies gave him four weeks. Although the War Council had planned to send troops if they naval attack did not succeed, very few preparations had actually been made.

Some of the beach landings went disastrously. Some went well:

Only two of the landings were being disputed and troops at the other locations had complete freedom of action to attack the Turks on their terms. The most difficult part of an amphibious assault — getting off the beach — was all but accomplished.

But then the allies stopped. At S Beach, a British battalion was confronted by an overstretched Turkish platoon. But their orders were to get ashore and wait. And so they did. The British commander in charge of Y Beach, where there were no defenders at all, was told to wait for orders to push on. He received no communication of any kind from his higher headquarters for 29 full hours after landing. During this lull, Hamilton remained afloat having chosen not to make the landing at any one place to preserve his situational awareness. This may make sense today with modern communications systems, but in 1915 it rendered Hamilton unable to affect the situation. So much planning had gone into the landings that, once the landings were accomplished, subordinate commanders had no direction.

The Brits could have used a young Rommel on their side.

Baltimore Cop in the Hood

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

A former Baltimore cop explains things:

You know, cops are put in this horrible position where they have to solve the problems of America that nobody wants to deal with. The same idiots who burned shit down Monday, they’re gonna be there today and tomorrow. The cops are always dealing with them, whether they’re burning things down or not. They’re always there.

I was speaking to a cop, a black guy from East Baltimore, and he’s like look, “Cops reflect where they work. Yeah they can be dicks, but that’s the neighborhood they’re working in. Whether they’re from there or not, they end up speaking the language of the ghetto.”

[...]

And they feel that outsiders, particularly liberals and the media don’t really understand what cops have to deal with. They know things are fucked up, but we put cops in an impossible situation. We tell them to do the best they can, and then when an individual cop messes up, everybody blames the police. And cops feel strangely victimized by this system — they’re put in the middle and used as political tools.

[...]

Of course, another thing is that most people who can leave have left. And so, in these pockets, how can you have good community relations when a substantial number of people are actively or passively involved in crime?

I think there are a lot of cops that just say, “Fuck ‘em, they want burn their neighborhood, let ‘em.” But on the other hand, the cops are out there putting their lives on the line to save their city.

This jumped out:

What does a cop feel when the police begin assembling as they did on Monday to confront unrest?

Whatever they’re doing, keep in mind, they’ve never done it before. They’ve never really trained for this. We had like a half day of riot training in the academy. There’s fear, but mostly of the unknown. You’re going to work and kissing your loved ones and you don’t know what the hell you’re going into. You don’t know if and when you’re coming home. You don’t know. I try not be a cop cheerleader, but they could, at some point, say, “Fuck it, I quit. I don’t like this job anyway.”

There are still swaths of vacant lots in the Eastern District that haven’t recovered from the ’68 riot, he notes.

Medieval Combat as Modern Sport

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

Medieval combat has been turned into a modern, international sport, at the Battle of Nations:

The picturesque Croatian island of Trogir is home to a 12th Century medieval walled village. Here, an Australian team of enthusiasts, clad in homemade armour, watch nervously as wounded fighters strewn across the playing field are tended to by medics and carried away for the next round of battles to begin. Paul Smith, a chef back home who has been training for months, notes that the tournament is “the closest thing we are ever going to get to actual medieval combat”.

The rules are simple: three points of contact with the ground and you’re out, last team standing wins. Blades are real but blunted, and injuries are common. “The thrill of being hit repeatedly in the head with a sword and surviving it is certainly a rush”, says Paul. As the bugle signals the next fight this Aussie knight readies himself: “Now I feel ready to go to war, really”.

Psychopathic violent offenders’ brains can’t understand punishment

Friday, April 24th, 2015

Psychopathic offenders are different from regular criminals in many ways:

“Regular criminals are hyper-responsive to threat, quick-tempered and aggressive, while psychopaths have a very low response to threats, are cold, and their [aggression] is premeditated,” added Dr. Nigel Blackwood, who is affiliated with King’s College London. “Evidence is now accumulating to show that both types of offenders present abnormal, but distinctive, brain development from a young age.”

[...]

While inside the brain scanner, the violent offenders and non-offenders completed a task that assessed their ability to adjust their behaviour when the consequences of their responses changed from positive to negative. The task was an image matching game — sometimes points were awarded for correctly pairing images, sometimes they weren’t. “When these violent offenders completed neuropsychological tasks, they failed to learn from punishment cues, to change their behaviour in the face of changing contingencies, and made poorer quality decisions despite longer periods of deliberation,” Blackwood explained.

The researchers also examined activity across the brain during the completion of the task. “We found that the violent offenders with psychopathy, as compared to both the violent offenders without psychopathy and the non-offenders, displayed abnormal responding to punishment within the posterior cingulate and insula when a previously rewarded response was punished. Our previous research had shown abnormalities in the white matter tract connecting these two regions. In contrast, the violent offenders without psychopathy showed brain functioning similar to that of the non-offenders,” Blackwood explained. “These results suggest the violent offenders with psychopathy are characterized by a distinctive organization of the brain network that is used to learn from punishment and from rewards.”

Deciding on what to do involves generating a list of possible actions, weighing the negative and positive consequences of each, and hopefully choosing the behaviour most likely to lead to a positive outcome. “Offenders with psychopathy may only consider the possible positive consequences and fail to take account of the likely negative consequences. Consequently, their behavior often leads to punishment rather than reward as they had expected,” Hodgins said. “Punishment signals the necessity to change behaviour. Clearly, in certain situations, offenders have difficulty learning from punishment to change their behaviour.”

(Hat tip to Peter Turchin.)

Enlisting in the Military

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Why do people enlist in the U.S. military? It’s genetic:

Analysis of twin pairs drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) revealed that 82% of the variance was the result of genetic factors, 18% of the variance was the result of nonshared environmental factors, and none of the variance was accounted for by shared environmental factors.

Marijuana Taxes

Sunday, April 19th, 2015

Colorado’s marijuana tax collections are not as high as expected:

In February 2014, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office projected Colorado would take in $118 million in taxes on recreational marijuana in its first full year after legalization. With seven months of revenue data in, his office has cut that projection and believes it will collect just $69 million through the end of the fiscal year in June, a miss of 42 percent.

That figure is consequential in two ways. First, it’s a wide miss. Second, compared with Colorado’s all-funds budget of $27 billion, neither $69 million nor $118 million is a large number.

There are lessons for other states:

Because of low public support for marijuana prohibition, many jurisdictions have intentionally lax enforcement around illegal marijuana markets. This often shows up as a wink-wink culture around medical access. (See, for example, “Medical Kush Doctor” signs that once adorned storefronts in Venice, Calif.) After legalization, that culture of lax enforcement can be a barrier to tax collection.

Another lesson is that marijuana taxes should be “specific excise” taxes per unit of intoxicant. In most states, cigarettes are taxed by the pack and alcohol by the liter. Marijuana could similarly be taxed by the gram (either of plant or of T.H.C.), which would protect states from revenue declines if pretax prices fall.

Taxes on intoxicants are meant to offset the negative social effects of intoxicant use; the size of those effects should not be expected to vary with market price.

But even if Colorado got all this right, improved revenues would not be among the most important effects that marijuana legalization has on the state.

“Tax revenue is nice to have, but in most states is not going to be enough to change the budget picture significantly,” Mr. Kleiman says. “The stakes in reducing criminal activity and incarceration and protecting public health are way higher than the stakes in generating revenue.”

ATI Stock In A Galaxy Far, Far Away

Friday, April 17th, 2015

Some gun nuts spotted an ATI stock in a galaxy far, far away:

Stormtrooper with ATI Stock

If you look carefully you can see the horizontal oval shapes of the cheek rest and the downward angled stripes on the butt pad.

Stormtrooper with ATI Stock Close Up

ATI Stock

That cheek rest might not work so well…

Lars Andersen Responds

Friday, April 17th, 2015

Lars Andersen returns with some answers to questions about his archery:

The Mind of Those Who Kill, and Kill Themselves

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Erica Goode looks into the mind of those who kill, and kill themselves, and writes — without irony, in the New York Times — that such killers seek fame, glory, or attention:

Before Adam Lanza, 20, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter, killed 20 children, six adults and himself in 2012, he wrote in an online forum, “Just look at how many fans you can find for all different types of mass murderers.”

Robert Hawkins, 19, who committed suicide after killing eight people at a shopping mall in Omaha in 2007, left a note saying “I’m gonna be famous,” punctuating the sentence with an expletive.

And Dylan Klebold, 17, of Columbine High School fame, bragged that the goal was to cause “the most deaths in U.S. history…we’re hoping. We’re hoping.”

“Directors will be fighting over this story,” Mr. Klebold said in a video made before the massacre.

Yes, let’s repeat their stories in the most important newspaper in the country, maybe the world.

The standard comic-book supervillain motivation — “a towering narcissism, a strong sense of grievance and a desire for infamy” — seems to describe these killers surprisingly well:

Serious mental illness, studies of mass killers suggest, is a prime driver in a minority of cases — about 20 percent, according to estimates by several experts. Far more common are distortions of personality — excesses of rage, paranoia, grandiosity, thirst for vengeance or pathological narcissism and callousness.

“The typical personality attribute in mass murderers is one of paranoid traits plus massive disgruntlement,” said Dr. Michael Stone, a forensic psychiatrist in New York who recently completed a study of 228 mass killers, many of whom also killed themselves.

“They want to die, but to bring many others down with them, whether co-workers, bosses, family members or just plain folk who are in the vicinity.”

Murder-suicides are rare — maybe 1,000 to 1,500 deaths per year — and murder-suicides involving strangers are rarer still — and different in character:

In domestic cases, depression does appear to play a significant role. A recent psychological autopsy study of murder-suicides in Dallas, most of which involved domestic violence, found that 17 of the 18 perpetrators met the diagnostic criteria for major depression or some other form of the illness.

The study, conducted by Dr. Knoll and Dr. Susan Hatters Friedman, a forensic psychiatrist at Case Western, found that a majority of the killers also abused alcohol or drugs. Four had a family history of suicide. The study has been submitted to a scientific journal.

Domestic murder-suicides are almost always impulsive — committed in fits of rage or jealousy, often enabled by the presence of a firearm. In contrast, killers who take groups of strangers as targets plan their crimes carefully, waiting for an opportunity to act.

Continue reading the main story
And while domestic murder-suicides are frequently fueled by alcohol, people who plan ahead to kill themselves and others seem concerned about keeping a clear mind for the task ahead.

Hand-to-Hand Combat

Saturday, April 4th, 2015

A recent analysis of US Army post-combat surveys found that hand-to-hand combat is surprisingly common:

Hand-to-Hand fighting is a common scenario, and often involves weapons.

“216 out of 1,226 Soldiers (19.0%) reported using hand-to-hand combat skills in at least one encounter. The Soldiers’ descriptions indicated that hand-to-hand combat occurred in a variety of tactical situations and that the most common skills employed were grappling techniques (72.6%), followed by the use of weapons (e.g., rifle butt strikes; 21.9%); with striking as the least reported skill (i.e., punching and kicking; 5.5%). These results further reinforce that hand-to-hand combat remains a relevant demand and the US Army should continue such training with an emphasis on grappling skills practiced across a variety of performance settings.”

Having hand-to-hand skills gives you the ability to use different levels of force as needed, instead of defaulting to lethal force.

“The primary focus of combatives training is to develop fighting ability and skills that Soldiers need in an operational environment (US Army, 2009). Combatives is an important component of a Soldier’s ability to employ different levels of force as the intensity and demands of the operational environment change. Additionally, combatives training develops the aggression and confidence necessary for Soldiers to close with an enemy and “seize the initiative to dominate, disable, or kill”

Grappling, either on the ground or in the clinch, is inherent to hand-to-hand fighting in the real world.

“First, grappling was an ever-present aspect of a hand-to-hand combat encounter. Although striking and weapons use were not absent from hand-to-hand combat encounters, Soldiers reported that grappling with an opponent was an integral aspect of any encounter.”

If you are carrying a weapon openly, or if your concealed weapon becomes exposed, you will be forced to fight for control of the weapon in the event of contact distance attack.

“The second lesson incorporated from the PAIs was that Soldiers in OEF and OIF reported that their hand-to-hand combat encounters revolved around a contest over the Soldier’s weapon (e.g., rifle). It appears that a Soldier’s opponent regularly attempted to wrest control of the Soldier’s weapon during hand-to-hand combat encounters.”

Any training for self-defense must establish fundamental skills and be geared toward the threats most likely to occur in your lifestyle.

“Finally, the fighting skills needed for success in a hand-to-hand combat encounter required development through a deliberate process that included: (a) initially establishing basic fighting skills followed by, (b) expanding such skills within a training setting that reflected the demands and context of the operational environment.”

You need skills that can be instantly and reactively adapted to account for the unpredictable nature of hand-to-hand combat. Also, you need to practice these skills against resistant opponents so you can learn to “read and speak the language” of the fight.

“A recent study (Jensen & Wrisberg, 2014) interviewing 17 Soldiers about their experiences of fighting in hand-to-hand combat suggests hand-to-hand combat occurs in a swift and unexpected manner. The results of this study reveal that hand-to-hand combat takes place in an open skill environment (Wrisberg, 2007) characterized as dynamic and unpredictable, which requires Soldiers to develop skills that can continuously and rapidly adapt to the ever-changing demands of the performance setting… …Training in such open environments necessitates skill development that teaches Soldiers to recognize key performance cues and adapt their skills to the quickly changing demands of the environment, many times influenced by a willful opponent.”

Fighting for your life while in physical contact with a determined threat is extremely stressful.

“Furthermore, these authors found that although hand-to-hand combat was one of the least frequently reported combat stressors, it was one of the seven (out of 30 possible combat stressors) most psychologically stressful combat experiences reported by Soldiers.”

Building the H Bomb

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Kenneth W. Ford submitted Building the H Bomb: A Personal History to the Department of Energy for review, and they ordered 60 cuts, enough to destroy the book, in his opinion:

For instance, the federal agency wanted him to strike a reference to the size of the first hydrogen test device — its base was seven feet wide and 20 feet high. Dr. Ford responded that public photographs of the device, with men, jeeps and a forklift nearby, gave a scale of comparison that clearly revealed its overall dimensions.

[...]

In December, he told the department he would make a few minor revisions. For instance, in two cases he would change language describing the explosive yields of bomb tests from “in fact” to “reportedly.” After much back and forth, the conversation ended in January with no resolution, and the book’s publisher pressed on.

The government’s main concern seems to center on deep science that Dr. Ford articulates with clarity. Over and over, the book discusses thermal equilibrium, the discovery that the temperature of the hydrogen fuel and the radiation could match each other during the explosion. Originally, the perceived lack of such an effect had seemed to doom the proposed weapon.

The breakthrough has apparently been discussed openly for years. For instance, the National Academy of Sciences in 2009 published a biographical memoir of Dr. Teller, written by Freeman J. Dyson, a noted physicist with the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J. It details the thermal equilibrium advance in relation to the hydrogen bomb.

At his home, Dr. Ford said he considered himself a victim of overzealous classification and wondered what would have happened if he had never submitted his manuscript for review.

“I was dumbfounded,” he said of the agency’s reaction to it.

Dr. Ford said he never intended to make a point about openness and nuclear secrecy — or do anything other than to give his own account of a remarkable time in American history.

How ISIS runs a city

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

ISIS uses the city of Raqqa as a showcase for its efficient and benevolent rule:

According to witnesses, ISIS has maintained a relatively high level of local services by changing as little as possible in the areas it governs. Most of the civil servants who make the city function remained in their old jobs, still paid by the government in Damascus even though they are now effectively entrenching ISIS in power. School teachers, state telecoms company employees and municipal workers all remain at work, under ISIS control but paid by Damascus. According to several businessmen, activists and ISIS supporters in Raqqa, ISIS has placed its own members at the top of existing institutions, like schools or the municipal headquarters, to make sure employees follow ISIS’s new rules.

In the education system there have been major changes such as the cancellation of subjects like philosophy and the adoption of a new ISIS-authored curriculum for religion. In other ISIS-run sectors the only significant change is that employees must interrupt their work to pray.

[...]

Initially ISIS members impressed them with their piety and the effective way they policed Raqqa but he was won over by their generosity. ISIS gave the man’s brother an $800 grant to pay for his wedding in the Spring of 2014; it gave the man himself some free diesel; and gave his neighbor money to repair his damaged house.

“The Islamic State is walking in the Prophet Muhammad’s footsteps,” he said by Facebook chat. “They are protecting our boys and girls from vice. We don’t have those nearly-naked girls walking around like in Damascus. No one is smoking here, and it’s almost impossible to commit adultery. They are saving the Islamic community from vice and destruction.”

Another resident, named Abu Yasin, 58, spoke by Skype from Raqqa. He picks up a lot of local news from the customers in the kebab restaurant he owns. He says ultimate authority rests with the provincial emir or governor and with the Sharia court. Anyone who has a serious complaint or problem appeals to those authorities. He has to pay a set tax to ISIS and close his shop during prayer times.

How Do Silencers Work?

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

How Do Silencers Work? SilencerCo provides this infographic:

SilencerCo-Infographic

(The linked, full-size version is also animated.)