Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Out Of The Ashes

Anthony Esolen, a professor at Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts in Merrimack, New Hampshire and recently of Providence College, Rhode Island, has written a stinging critique of modern education and American society in general titled Out Of The Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture published by Regnery Publishers, 2017.

It's a short book - 203 pages – but contains much wise social commentary and observations on everything wrong with American education, if there's any such thing. Esolen is not one to beat around the bush. If you don't agree with him it isn't because he is opaque. For instance, chapter one is titled, Giving Things Their Proper Names: The Restoration Of Truth Telling. It is divided into several sections with their own headings, one of which is Are We a World of Liars?

“In a word, yes.
It is almost impossible in the modern world not to accept lies as a matter of course. We are told that a woman can make as good a soldier as a man. Except for the rare amazon, that is a lie”

In the same vein a few pages later: “Here is a quick and generally reliable rule to follow. If people have always said it, it is probably true; it is the distilled wisdom of the ages. If people have not always said it, but everybody is saying it now, it is probably a lie; it is the concentrated madness of the moment.”

Most of what he says in the book is glaringly obvious, but it is so seldom spoken or written that it becomes heroic when written or spoken audibly. When referring to teachers who have acquiesced to imparting depravity, he writes:

“It will not do merely to restrain them in this or that regard. They are not fit to teach your children the multiplication table. They are not fit to be near them at all. Every moment that your children are in their presence, they will be breathing the putrescent air from the diseased heart and spirit of the instructors, in an institution whose walls stink of it, it has lingered there so long.”

Just a few years ago, in the memory of almost everybody, a statement like,“First let us establish that there are such things as the sexes.” would have met with everybody's assent. Most people reading it would be wondering why such a thing would need to be established at all. Now such a proposition is not just questionable, it might even be “controversial” or hate speech or some kind of micro aggression.

Esolen is such a hater (maybe even a Neanderthal) that he writes:

“We are taught from the time we enter the indoctrination centers that the only differences between men and women are trivial matters of plumbing. It is not true.
When the European missionaries came to the new world to evangelize the natives, they did not find creatures of a different species. They found human beings, male and female. They did not find any tribes in which the women met in council, hunted the large animals, smoked the peace pipe, trained up their daughters in savage displays of physical courage and endurance (the “sun dance” of the Plains Indians, for example) and established elaborate hierarchies of honor. They did not find any tribes in which the men took care of small children, gathered roots and berries, made themselves up with pretty decorations to delight their women … and made “nests,” as it were, as clean and neat as possible, for the sake of the little ones, and because that is the way they liked things best.
They found men and women. That is what you will find wherever you go in the world.”

I can't disagree with any of his assessments about the shipwreck of the schools or his suggested remedies. The one thing I think is absolutely essential that isn't mentioned and is never mentioned by anybody in the reformist camp is the necessity of prohibiting government involvement of any kind in schooling or anything else having to do with forming thoughts, opinions or beliefs. No matter who is in charge, be it Aristotle, Pythagoras, Isaac Newton or Erasmus, they won't always be in charge, and the forces of coercion will always seek control. All compulsion should be eliminated. Certainly there will be parents that don't send their children to school or teach them themselves, but there always have been and always will be unfit parents. Compulsory schooling has always been about teaching children the “right” things, not about education.

This is a book that will be appreciated by anybody interested in the social, cultural, educational and intellectual collapse of society and its possible remedy.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Fog Of War



“America wins the wars that she undertakes, make no mistake about it, and we have declared war on tyranny and aggression.” Obama, one of the Bushes or Clinton? It’s a familiar bit of nonsense, but it was said by Lyndon Johnson sometime around 50 years ago.

The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara is a 2003 SONY production that is basically an interview with the former longest-serving Secretary of Defense.

McNamara was in office during some of the biggest events of mid-century: the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, the seizure of the USS Pueblo by North Korea and the attack on the USS Liberty by Israel. He was also in office for much of the Vietnam War. Most of the movie is taken up by the Cuban Missile Crisis and Vietnam, although it does cover his WW II experience and his work at Ford Motor Company. The Pueblo and the Liberty are not mentioned, but the Gulf of Tonkin is discussed, about which he says that the attack on the USS Turner Joy never happened.

Most of his answers are very direct - even to the point of saying that he might have been tried as a war criminal had the US lost WWII - but a few times he just says, “I won’t answer that.”

During the Cuban Missile Crisis (October 16 - 28, 1962) John Kennedy was very fortunate to have an aide named Llewellyn “Tommy” Thompson who had lived with Nikita Khrushchev and knew him and his wife pretty well. McNamara says that the US was in receipt of two messages from the Soviet Union regarding its position on the missiles, one conciliatory and one belligerent. Thompson urged Kennedy to reply to the conciliatory message, arguing that if Khrushchev could save face he would. The confrontation was defused and we’ve lived sort of happily ever after.

This was not the only close call with nuclear war. McNamara says that during his 7 years as Secretary “We came within a hair’s breadth of war with the Soviet Union on 3 different occasions.” Things were getting so far out of hand that during the Kennedy administration the US built and tested a 100 megaton bomb in the atmosphere. He makes the point that military commanders make errors, but usually the errors only affect a few hundred or a few thousand people, they don’t destroy entire countries or kill millions of people as could happen with nuclear errors. “You make one mistake and you’re going to destroy nations.”

Thirty years after the Missile Crisis, in a meeting with Fidel Castro, McNamara learned that at the time of the crisis there were 162 nuclear weapons in Cuba, although at the time the CIA had said that the missiles were there, but the warheads had not arrived - an intelligence failure of the greatest possible proportions. Castro had recommended to Khrushchev that he launch a nuclear attack on the US in the event of an attack by the US even though Cuba would be obliterated.

Recalling his WW II experience he says:

March 9, 1945 “On that single night we burned to death 100,000 Japanese civilians in Tokyo, men, women and children.”

Interviewer: “Were you aware this was going to happen?

McNamara: “I was part of a mechanism that recommended it. I analyzed bombing operations and how to make them more efficient. Not more efficient in the sense of killing more, but in weakening the adversary.... I don’t want to suggest that it was my report that led to the firebombing...It isn’t that I’m trying to absolve myself of blame for the firebombing.”

On the question of proportionality in war, McNamara says, “[Curtis] Lemay said if we lost the war we would all be prosecuted as war criminals and I think he’s right. He - and I would say I - were behaving as war criminals...Lemay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side had lost, but what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?”

October 2, 1963:  McNamara returned from Vietnam. At the time there were 16,000 US advisers there. He recommended that all of them be removed within 2 years. “We need a way to get out of Vietnam and this is the way to do it.” Obviously that didn’t happen. Diem was overthrown in South Vietnam, JFK was assassinated and LBJ became president.

LBJ is heard saying on tape that he always thought that talk of pulling out was foolish. Johnson: “Then comes the question: How the hell does McNamara think when he’s losing the war he can pull men out of there?”

After the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution Johnson orders more troops in. He asks McNamara when he’s going to issue the order and is told that it will be made “late today so it will miss some of the morning editions. I’ll handle it in a way that will minimize the announcement.”

Towards the end he makes a statement that should be etched in stone above the Capital and the White House, viz “What makes us omniscient? Have we a record of omniscience? We are the strongest nation in the world today. I don’t believe that we should ever apply that economic, political or military power unilaterally. If we had followed that rule in Vietnam we wouldn’t have been there.”

It’s easy to watch this and think that McNamara is being self-serving or trying to justify his actions, but there are plenty of audio clips from the time that show he really did want to get out of Vietnam. Johnson was the one who wanted to pour more troops in, and McNamara, to his discredit, followed the script instead of speaking publicly or resigning.

"We and you ought not to pull on the ends of a rope which you have tied the knots of war. Because the more the two of us pull, the tighter the knot will be tied. And then it will be necessary to cut that knot, and what that would mean is not for me to explain to you. I have participated in two wars and know that war ends when it has rolled through cities and villages, everywhere sowing death and destruction. For such is the logic of war. If people do not display wisdom, they will clash like blind moles and then mutual annihilation will commence." - Nikita S. Khrushchev to John F. Kennedy


Two untypical war memoirs.

A Song for Nagasaki The Story of Takashi Nagai a Scientist, Convert, and Survivor of the Atomic Bomb - Paul Glynn

Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War - Paul Fussell


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Music For A Political Convention


Eurythmics - Would I Lie to You?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uhpu2N4rQZM

Liar, Liar - The Castaways (1965)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8rCy173y7Y

Lies - The Knickerbockers
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1n03a7cLf0M

Lies - Rolling Stones
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5D1sNSY_d3M

The Beatles' Taxman
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQPSZKWXeoE

The Who - Won't Get Fooled Again
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYMD_W_r3Fg

AC/DC - Highway to Hell
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKggnBh2Mdw

Talking Heads Road To Nowhere Lyrics
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFgayzZ5KTM

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Fortunate Son (Lyric Video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40JmEj0_aVM

AC DC Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap 1976
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYeMhiWWP8s

AC/DC - Moneytalks
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xD5dHC2jgw

The Yardbirds - Dazed and Confused (720p HD)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ffBRhtWjEQ

Dirty Laundry by Don Henley [News Parody]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHimia_Fxzs

"You're No Good" w/lyrics- Linda Ronstadt
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rITqN5wPwE

The Undisputed Truth - Smiling Faces Sometimes - 1971
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CJZcVi5BA4

Abba - Money, Money, Money
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETxmCCsMoD0

The O'Jays - For The Love of Money (Audio)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXE_n2q08Yw

Pink Floyd - Money (Official Music Video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0kcet4aPpQ

The Beatles - Money (That's What I Want)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLK9owh9Ysc

The Rolling Stones - Sympathy For The Devil -HQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBecM3CQVD8

The rolling stones-You can't always get what you want
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIX0ZDqDljA

Eurythmics - The King and Queen of America
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9nZhdEdBKw

The Kingston Trio - M.T.A.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7Jw_v3F_Q0

The O'Jays - Back Stabbers (Audio)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmXRQ3vfzcA

The Beatles - Nowhere Man
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WS0YW03V8a8

The Pretenders - Back On The Chain Gang HQ Music
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CK3uf5V0pDA

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Bad Moon Rising (Lyric Video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUQiUFZ5RDw

What Did You Learn In School Today Pete Seeger 21 24
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHI5NIlD6aU

"Games People Play" - Joe South - 1969
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5znh58WITU8

Ending Music - "Day of Wrath"
Dies Irae, Dies Illa - Monks of the Abbey of St Maurice & St. Maur, Clervaux, Luxembourg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpvLPmv2FeY

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Church Of Spies


“There's a man who leads a life of danger
To everyone he meets he stays a stranger
With every move he makes 

another chance he takes
Odds are he won't live to see tomorrow

Secret agent man, secret agent man”


So said Johnny Rivers in the theme to the '60s show Secret Agent. Mark Riebling draws a far different picture in his book Church Of Spies in which most of the subjects know each other and use their real names.

When I first heard of the book I thought it was some kind of silly Dan Brown novel with lots of nonsensical theories about cloak and dagger plots. It isn't that at all. It is a short, heavily footnoted (end notes, actually) page turner. The book is only 250 pages, but has an additional 125 pages of notes, index and sources.

Many of the people mentioned in the book will be familiar – at least by name – to most people; Pope Pius XII, Allen Dulles, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Reinhard Heydrich, Heinrich Himmler, Hans and Sophie Scholl and of course Adolf Hitler. Less well known are people like Gereon Goldmann, a Franciscan seminarian who was drafted into the Waffen SS and later wrote about his exploits in The Shadow of His Wings, Rupert Mayer, a Jesuit who won two Iron Crosses in WW I, lost a leg for his efforts and was later jailed for opposing National Socialism, and Josef Muller the man who is pretty much the book's protagonist.

Muller, whom the Nazis considered “the best agent of the Vatican Intelligence in Germany” was a figure that sounds like the product of a spy thriller writer's imagination. As Riebling relates, he was arrested by the Gestapo for trying to kill Hitler.

“He refused to confess, however. 'Muller had nerves like ropes and dominated the situation,' a prison aide recalled. When guards unshackled him, he threw them using jujitsu. His resolve awed other prisoners, who had misjudged him as a regular Joe. 'To look at,' wrote a British spy jailed with Muller, 'he was just an ordinary stoutish little man with a florid complexion and drab fair hair cut en brosse, the sort of man, whom you would not look at a second time if you met him anywhere, and yet, one of the bravest and most determined men imaginable.'”

Many times the plotters would pass on intelligence about Hitler's plans, but he would change them and consequently their intelligence would be wrong. Several attempts on Hitler's life failed because of timing, equipment failure or because Hitler seemed to have a diabolical guardian. One time a bomb actually went off next to Hitler, but he survived. Another time the plotters could have shot him at a meeting, but instead planted a bomb on his plane disguised as a bottle of cognac. The bomb failed to go off which illustrates the maxim that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Although this is not an apologia for Pius XII, he comes off looking very good. His detractors waited until he was safely dead before claiming that he didn't speak up against Hitler. Nobody ever denounces the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Methodists, the Dalai Lama, Zoroastrians or the Baptists for their “silence,” only Pius XII.

Pius coordinated with Jewish rescue groups to help them escape Europe, funneling money through various countries, but the groups would not accept Catholics of Jewish descent so he could do little for the latter.

One of their plans that has backfired badly was a common currency. Muller theorized that if Europe was linked economically it would prevent future wars. They probably didn't foresee Europe becoming a unified mega-state in which national borders mean little or nothing and where the whole world seems to be entitled to move there.

Considering the number of plotters and their positions – many were high in the military – it is surprising that they were not discovered sooner. The book also shows that there were many who wanted Hitler gone, but were afraid to act or thought that fighting against their own government was treasonous. Seeing as how many of the plotters were captured and killed it is understandable why they didn't want to get involved. That's the way most people are everywhere.

As Johnny Rivers sang, “Odds are he won't live to see tomorrow,” many of them didn't, but a few did and Mark Reibling has written a riveting account of them.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Comcast - Xfinity Nightmare



If you're thinking of dealing with Xfinity/Comcast, maybe you should look elsewhere if you have any other options. They have printed at the bottom of an email they sent me “Expect Superior Service.”
If you should fall victim to such expectation you will be bitterly disappointed.

For the past several years I had been using Clear Internet, but the company was bought out and shut down. Xfinity/Comcast is available in my area, so I called them about service. They asked if I currently had cable and I told them I did not.

They said I could get 3mps (or something like that) service for $19.99 per month and a $59.95 installation fee. I called back a week or so later and went through the rigamarole of qualifying. I was given the figure of $87.00 for my first bill.

I was sent an email on December 14, 2015 telling me that the installer would come by between 8:00 and 10:00 A.M. the next day. As it so happened, I got a call about 9:30 saying that the installer couldn't arrive until 5:00 – 7:00 P.M. so I was going to get a $20.00 credit.

Around 6:00 or so the guy showed up and noted that I didn't have a cable. I told him that the company had asked me if I had cable and I told him I didn't. He estimated the approximate distance that they would have to run the cable at ¼ mile and called in to advise that they needed to send the construction crew to run the cable because of the distance. When he got off the phone I asked him how long it would be before the construction crew ran the cable and he said “About a week.”

I didn't see or hear anything else from them so I called on January 5, 2016 and was told that somehow the job had been put on hold, but that they were going to change the deal to 5mps for $9.95 per month for the first year. January 10, 2016 I got another email scheduling the installation for the following day from 5:00 – 7:00 P.M. I got a call that the guy could come early, which was fine, but when he arrived he said something about my not having a cable and I told him that the first guy had already advised them of that. He tried to run the cable, but thought that is was too far, so he called a supervisor who came out and measured the distance which was something like 350 feet, not the ¼ mile that the first guy had estimated and advised the company about. They stayed about 2 hours or so and took pictures or video and did a lot of talking on the phone. The supervisor said they needed to send the construction crew (which I already knew by this time) and that they would advise. Later that day a bucket truck from Comcast showed up, which I assumed had something to do with the construction crew, but when I walked toward him he drove off without saying anything.

I went in and called Xfinty/Comcast and was told that they would send somebody the next day. January 12, 2016. Next day around 2:00 P.M. a guy showed up and couldn't do it because I needed a “tap” which of course the company already knew, but kept wasting my time and the time of its subcontractors. I went back in and called to advise that they needed somebody that knows something about scheduling and coordination so that there is some minimum level of efficiency and competence.
January 14, 2016 a guy came around 10:55 A.M. and measured the distance again and told me it would be $468.00 to run the line.

Around Noon I called and got somebody named Lequan or something like that who could tell me nothing except that he would have the construction people call me. I told him I didn't need them, I wanted somebody who had some decision making power, but all he could do is to say repeatedly that he would have them “give me a call.” My biggest question was why the price went from $50.00 to $468.00 after they already knew the distance (actually the distance was much less than the ¼ the first guy had told them) they would have to run the cable. Why did they keep sending out people who didn't have the capability to do the job? After the first installer came, the company knew what the situation was.

I finally decided to call Clark Howard's help line ( 404-892-8227, M-F, 10am-7pm ET.) and they gave me the number (215 665-1700) of the Comcast Corporate Office. They probably should see if they can get the first three numbers clanged to 666 instead of 665, but that's for them to decide.

I called the office of the president and got somebody named Mariah who said she would assign it to somebody who would call me the next before 12:00 Noon. About 11:30 the next day somebody named Sam called and said she would investigate it and get back the next week, but that she had 60 cases so it might take several days, but to send her the email quoting the price, which I did. She gave me her direct number (615 874-7471) and told me she worked between 11:00 – 8:00 P.M.
Below is my fruitless correspondence with Sam G. with case number etc. omitted.

Sam: Here is the January 5, 2016 email. The first man came on the 15th of December and said he couldn't install it because the connection was about 1/4 mile away. This was sent after that (obviously), but the second man they sent (and the third) all had the same capability as the first. This is in reference to ESL ******. I hope you can read this as this is all typing on one line for some reason





To: Sullivan

Jan 21 at 8:14 PM

Dear Chris Sullivan,
I wanted to follow up with you regarding your request for new service. I had a chance to review the information that you provided regarding the installation charges. The $50 installation charge that was referenced in the letter only referred to the installation of your service inside the home. However, the quote that was provided of the $907 amount involves rebuilding on the outside of your property in order to make your address serviceable. Once that amount has been satisfied then the construction department can begin the process of rebuilding at your property to make it serviceable.
Comcast strives to provide outstanding customer service and I appreciate your bringing this matter to my attention.

Regards,
Sam G.
Executive Customer Relations
Comcast | Big South Region
Office: 615-874-7471 /615-750-8953
Office Hours: Tue - Sat: 11am -8pm (CT)

To: Sam G.

If this is the case I should have been told that after the first person came in December. Why did they keep sending people who couldn't do the job? Why did they quote a price of $50.00 after the first installer had advised them of the situation?
Comcast has wasted over a month of my time and several hours of its sub-contractor's time. There seems to be an unbelievable level of incompetence in the scheduling and installation departments...
As far as the $907.00 quote, this is the first I've heard of it.

I got no response.

As a post script, I have no complaints about the sub contractors they sent out. All were unaware of the situation and had no way to deal with it. When I mentioned the incompetence of the office people one of the guys looked disgusted and said something like "Yeah, it's the people in the office." 
I had a modem that I had bought at Walmart which I returned. When I mentioned Comcast at the return desk the clerk launched into a diatribe about how they had made a mess of her bill and was charging her for something (a phone, I think) she didn't even have.

Sunday, December 6, 2015



Planet Of The Slaves


Mendax News Service

I must be one of the very few people who has never seen any of the Planet of the Apes movies, but around the same time of the first one there was a commercial failure made called Planet of the Slaves.

If I remember correctly it was produced by Milton Mayer, with a screenplay by Lysander Spooner and starred a B-grade actor named Robert Nozick who plays the protagonist W. L “Bill” Garrison.

Garrison and his band land on a planet that is governed by a kakistocracy of omnicompetent – or so they think – men. The people seem happy and brag to the visitors about their freedom and how they have all kinds of rights that are protected and enumerated by their foundational charter. The visitors discover that the people of the planet are known as the Snacirema and that they are hospitable to strangers, but easily herded into a sort of unanimity of thought. There are a few independent thinkers, but they are derided as “Nockites” or “Remnantists.”

After a few days of intermingling, Garrison becomes convinced that all the supposed rights and freedoms the Snacirema brag about are illusory, in fact he becomes convinced that they are slaves.

His first inkling is when Ollie Holmes, one of the people he has befriended mentions that he has to send the government part of his wages or he will be jailed or have his property seized. Garrison is incredulous, but Holmes explains that it's only one percent and that it is the price of civilization. Garrison tries to explain that it isn't the amount that makes him a slave, it's the fact that the government has a superior claim to the fruits of his labor. Holmes is unconvinced.

A few days later, Garrison discovers that the people are compelled to send their children to school and that the government operates a huge network of schools that teach many things that the parents find repugnant. There are some people who teach their children at home and there are a few private schools, but they aren't free like the government schools.

The Snacirema maintain an enormous military with land, sea and air forces in which boys are required to register for service in if called. The chances of actually being called are very small since the whole apparatus is for defense, not aggression, and they haven't been attacked in over seventy years. Still, Garrison doesn't see how compulsory service is compatible with the freedom he keeps hearing about.

One day, as Holmes is taking Garrison to see the Thomas W. Wilson Memorial, they are stopped by a Compliance Officer – sort of like police – for not paying alimony and not having insurance. Garrison asks the officer how he knew that Holmes hadn't paid alimony and the officer explains that there are tag reading cameras everywhere that alert the officer if someone is “out of compliance.” After they are on their way again Garrison tells Holmes that he doesn't see how mass surveillance is compatible with freedom. Holmes explains that it's no big deal if you have nothing to hide and that he'll get matter resolved.

The next day Garrison finds that there is a meeting of Nockites at the Horatio Bunce Auditorium that night. He decides to go and see what their opinions are, but he can't persuade Holmes to accompany him since they are viewed as kooks, so he has to go alone.

When he gets there he sees that it's a very small group and they all seem to know each other and suspect he's some kind of spy or agent provocateur. He explains that he is from another planet and is only studying their beliefs and customs. A man named Fishel Chodorovic introduces himself as one of the group's founders and launches into a litany of objections to the way the planet is run and explains that the people are slaves without chains.

Garrison doesn't contradict Chodorovic, but asks him why he thinks as he does since most of the people seem to be perfectly happy or at least accepting of the situation.

Chodorovic responds that the people are bound with mental chains almost from birth and that they are firmly fastened by the compulsory school system which those in charge style “education.”

Garrison: Why don't the people just refuse to send their children to be indoctrinated?

Chodorovic: Most of the people not only don't object, they think it's a good idea to have compulsory schooling and if the parents don't send the children the children will be taken away and become wards of the state. The people are inured to control by everything they see and hear. Is something harmful? Outlaw it, or license it. There is a license for everything. Do you want to get married? You need a license. Do you want to braid hair? You need a license. Do you want to grow tobacco or peanuts? You need a license. You need a license to do everything: sell real estate, carry a gun, practice medicine, operate a motor vehicle, fly a plane, operate a business, practice law, sell used cars, cash checks, put up a sign, hold a garage sale, hunt or fish, dance in a strip club, sell alcohol, operate a boiler, sell firearms, sell insurance, ad infinitum. Then there are permits which are licenses by another name, building permits, electrical permits, plumbing permits, tree-cutting permits, etc. There are also requirements that you do as you're told: wear your seat belt, buy insurance on your car, buy medical insurance, keep your grass cut below a designated height, tag your car and your dog. The people have accepted control over everything.

The control is so complete that politicians seeking office promise to cut income taxes or “reform” the code, but never to eliminate and forbid income taxation. It is taken for granted that government has first claim on all income and can raise or lower its share at will.

There are prohibitions against having certain plants because somebody thinks you might do something harmful with them. Imagine that, outlawing plants! There are also certain drugs and treatments you aren't allowed to use because they are “unapproved.” The great god government has decreed that you can't use them, so needless to say they aren't covered under your mandatory insurance.

Garrison: That does sound like government is more intrusive than I had heard, but how does it keep track of who's doing what?

Chodorovic: Everybody is required to send in a tax return with their address and an identifying number unless they didn't have any “taxable income.” To claim dependents, each one also has to have a number.
To open a bank account you need a number and the banks have to report any “suspicious activity.”
It's considered suspicious if you structure you banking transactions to avoid being reported.
There are tag readers that record your location and time. All of your mail is photographed front and back. All of your electronic communications are intercepted and stored. It's not known if it's being done, but you could be tracked and recorded continuously by having a phone on you.

Garrison: Do you think it's possible to reverse this?

Chodorovic: It's an uphill battle, but if I could do one thing with the wave of a magic wand it would be to forbid government involvement of any kind in schooling. No compulsion, no certification, no textbook advice, no grants of money or property, no teacher licensing, no tax credits, no nothing. And if I had a second wave of the wand I would utterly forbid any taxation of income from whatever source derived. Without funding there can be no tyranny.

Garrison: Well, I've got to be leaving for home tomorrow, but if I ever get back to Earth I'm going to see how you're progressing – or regressing – with your program of deconstruction.

Chodorovic: It's at least a fifty-year project.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Building A Bug Out Bag



Bug Out bags used to be an item unfamiliar to most people, nowadays there are any number of sites selling ready-made bug out bags, and lots of others advising what to put in one.

Some of the advice as to what to include seems premised on the idea that the person bugging out is going to have motorized transport or a covered wagon with a yoke of oxen to pull it. There is so much stuff that a person couldn't possibly carry it any distance.

The most likely scenario that I see myself bugging out from is some sort of disaster (natural, financial, social) where the government is going to take charge and help everybody by corralling them in the Super Dome or its equivalent. This is to be avoided at all costs.

In such a situation it would be advisable to head for the woods unless you have a mountain cabin or beach house or something similar, in which case you wouldn't need much of a bug out bag. With this in mind I present my idea as to what I think is necessary, or at least very useful.
A few items in the bag. Note double-sheave pulley blocks, salt and small file.





 My number one priority is fire starting and I have lots of redundancy in that department. My bag has waterproof matches, magnifying glass, magnesium fire starter, Bic multi-purpose lighter, vaseline coated cotton balls and a can of Sterno. The Sterno can be used for starting stubborn material or for cooking on. Sterno is also available in a plastic bottle, but it seems more likely to be punctured in that form and lacks the cooking option.

For a cutting implement I have an Estwing carpenter's hatchet. The reason for this is that it is all steel and is almost indestructible. The carpenter's hatchet has a hammer head on the backside and a nail puller in the blade. The hammer head works much better than using the back side of a conventional hatchet. A machete would also be useful, but I haven't found one that I think is worth buying.
Popeil's Pocket Fisherman

Back in the '70s, Ron Popeil proclaimed it "The fishing invention of the century!" which probably overstated things a bit, but the Pocket Fisherman is almost tailor made for an emergency fishing expedient. Shakespeare makes a telescoping rod called "Travel Mate" which
might be as good or better, but takes up more space. A gill net is also very useful.

I have three leg-hold traps which will provide you with more game than a days worth of hunting. These are suitable for catching possum, raccoon, coyotes, bobcats and other small game. It is very socially unacceptable to have leg-hold traps so they will almost certainly have to be purchased online.

Traps never sleep and they don't make any noise like a gunshot, which could be very important. I think it makes sense to have as many of these as you can reasonably carry.

Everybody has paracord and so do I, but I have included two small double-sheave pulley blocks. These vastly increase a person's pulling power and weigh almost nothing.

Salt, Stanley cooker and cups.
Stanley makes a handy little stainless steel cooker with two plastic nesting cups. The cooker has a top and a folding handle. I don't like plastic, but it won't break which is an advantage over glass and it doesn't conduct heat when you're trying to drink out of it which metal cups do.

An 8 X 10' heavy duty tarp is useful for many things. Larger might be better, but larger means heavier. The standard tarps are pretty well worthless since they tear easily. The HD is twice as heavy, but it's better than twice as good.

A Melitta filter cone with filters found its way into the bag for at least two reasons. The obvious one is that it can be used to make coffee with, but it can also be used to filter (not purify) water to remove sediment, bugs and whatever else won't pass through it.

US Army Survival Manual FM 21-76 should probably be in anybody's bag unless he's Jim Bridger or an Indian Chief.

Almost everybody advises carrying enough water to cross the Sahara desert, but since I'm in Georgia, water is not a problem at all. All I need is a way to purify it. It seems that people forget that water is very heavy and if you carry enough to drink in one or two days, you can't carry anything else. At 8.34 pounds per gallon, it doesn't take many gallons to add up. As far as edibles, I have a few cans of sardines and some MREs, but food is really another thing. This bag is devoted to tools.

A multi-tool is super handy (even if you aren't bugging out) and I have an old Gerber 300, I think it is. It's very good, but I've had it about 15 years and most of Gerber's products have declined drastically in quality, although I don't know that the multi-tools have. Leatherman makes a 'Super Tool 300" that looks good, but I haven't used one. A general rule in almost anything is, don't buy cheap junk. I can never remember an occasion when I was using a tool and wished I'd bought the cheaper one.

Most of the other stuff in the bag is pretty conventional. A military signal mirror, P38 can opener, bottle of Excedrine, hydrogen peroxide, 2 wash rags, a bar of Fels-Naptha soap, which is a laundry soap, but is useful for washing off poison ivy and also seems to help somewhat on bug bites, iodine, honey, dental floss, needles, small file, Repel insect repellant (DEET free), box of salt, 150 feet of MIG wire, 1 sheet of emery cloth, small flashlight, compass, plastic bottle with graduations, small bottle of bleach, slingshot, bottle of DMSO, cheap gloves with plastic coated palms and fingers, comb, tweezers, disposable razor, colloidal silver, 2 carabiners and a small flip open mirror with a standard mirror and a magnifying mirror for getting stuff out of the eye.

There should also be a high quality knife for skinning and dressing fish and game. Lots of modern knives look like something out of a Boris Vallejo painting rather than a useful tool. Avoid "fantasy" junk. The salt is useful for seasoning, preserving game and as a wound disinfectant. Honey can also be used on cuts and wounds as well as sweetening the coffee that you make with your filter cone.

Although I don't have any guns in the bag, it's good to keep in mind that a common caliber is the practical thing to have. Any .22 LR and a .308 Winchester or 30/06 would serve well. Since I'm in Georgia, dangerous game isn't a problem and most game can be killed with a .22 LR, but for deer, hogs and black bear the .30s would be useful.  Lots and lots of people have some firearm that fires .223 Remington, but it's way more than you need for squirrels, coons, possum, rabbit, etc. and not very good for hogs, deer or bear.  You might have a .264 Win. Mag. or a .257 Roberts that you shoot really well, but forget about finding ammo in an ordinary store selling ammo. Also keep in mind that the centerfires attract a whole lot more attention than the rimfires. A shotgun would be nice, but the ammo is bulky and heavy. If you have a bug out partner it might be reasonable for one of you to have a shotgun.

Coleman makes a skillet with a folding handle, but it has a non-stick surface which I don't want and it has very mixed reviews, so I'm leaning toward the much heavier (3 lbs.) 8" cast iron skillet. Coleman also makes an emergency blanket and poncho, both about the size of a cigarette package, but much thinner. Emergency is the key word here. You wouldn't want this to be your primary gear.

If you have pre-selected a place or places to go, it would be a good idea to have a topographical map of the area. It would also be a good idea to go there (assuming it's legal) and camp to familiarize yourself with the area, game and vegetation. The compass and map will come in handy if the battery dies in your Magellan.

This is a project that will never be completely "tuned." If you have any ideas (and why they're good) I'd like to hear them.