Sunday, 30 November 2014

10:23 – Science kit sales remain steady. Earlier this month we passed total 2013 revenue. November has been good and December is usually a pretty heavy month, so 2014 revenue should comfortably exceed 2013 revenue. I expect 2015 to be better still, especially once I have time to get some of our new kits available.

I’ve never seen anything like the prepping book phenomenon on Amazon. There are scores if not hundreds of titles available. KEbooks.com, the site I get a daily free-book email from, even has a prepping book of the day now. Almost without exception, these “books” are complete garbage. They remind me of a restaurant review I once read (or perhaps wrote): “The food was terrible and the portions were so small.”

These so-called books usually contain a few thousand words spread over 30 to 50 “pages” that are mostly white space. The text itself is often illiterate, and usually obviously stolen from various Internet sites, sometimes without even an attempt to file off the serial numbers. The advice is almost uniformly bad.

For example, I just downloaded a free copy of The Beginning Prepper’s Guide to Firearms, which is actually better than most of the garbage prepping books I’ve seen. At least it appears that the guy actually wrote it rather than just stealing stuff and pasting it into a “book”. But “better” is very much relative. This author, for example, recommends a shotgun as a home defense weapon. So far, so good. But he lost me when he recommended loading that shotgun with blanks. Seriously. He’s under the impression that blanks are as effective a load as buckshot at in-home distances. No, they’re not. It’s true that the wad in a blank shotshell can cause injury at very close range, but across the room it’ll be no more effective than a paint ball gun, if that.

Many of these garbage prepping books have mostly or all five-star reviews. Oddly, usually six of them. It’s pretty obvious that the “authors” are using one of those “five-stars-for-five-dollars” review services, and apparently $30 is their advertising/promotion limit. I can’t believe that Amazon.com hasn’t stomped all over this paid-review abuse.


Saturday, 29 November 2014

09:28 – Lies, damned lies, and statistics. I just read an article that claims that the fact that young black men are 21 times more likely than young white men to be killed by police as evidence that the justice system discriminates against blacks. I could as easily say that the fact that young white men are much more likely than elderly black women to be killed by police as evidence that the justice system discriminates against whites. In fact, I could make a good argument that the fact that young black men are only 21 times more likely than young white men to be killed by police is evidence that the justice system discriminates against whites. Because the fact that can never, never be mentioned is that young black men are much more than 21 times more likely than young white men to be violent felons.

The simple facts are that young men of whatever race are much, much more likely to commit violent crimes than any other group, and that young black men are much, much more likely to commit violent crimes than are young white men. There’s no debate about this. The figures are indisputable. As is the fact that whites are much, much more likely to be the victims of violent black criminals than the converse. So, if someone argues that our justice system is racially biased, I agree with him. Statistically, violent black criminals are much less likely to be shot by police than are violent white criminals. And I think this needs to be looked into.


Friday, 28 November 2014

08:18 – Barbara is off with our friend Bonnie Richardson to the craft show in Greensboro.

I finally got around to reading One Second After, the 2009 TEOTWAWKI novel that put EMP on most preppers’ radar. It’s basically a mediocre writer’s attempt to rewrite Pournelle’s and Niven’s Lucifer’s Hammer, relocating it from the California mountains to the North Carolina mountains and recasting the threat to an EMP attack from an asteroid impact. The book could have used a decent editor. Or perhaps I should say “could of used”. By about the 20th time the author used “of” rather than “have” I was ready to scream; by the 100th time I was ready to track down and strangle the author. Despite nearly 3,900 Amazon reviews averaging 4.4 stars and despite being on the NYT bestseller list for three months and despite the foreward by Newt Gingrich, this is a bad book. Bad science, bad plotting, bad dialog, and to say the characters are cardboard is an insult to cardboard. Apparently there is a sequel in the works. I won’t bother to read it.


Thursday, 27 November 2014

10:42 – Barbara picked up a Saturnalia tree on her way home from work yesterday. She’s decorating the tree right now with lights, ornaments, and the traditional stuffed panda sitting on top. Barbara’s heading over to her sister’s house for Thanksgiving. For me, this is just another work day. Barbara will bring me food later.

Work on the prepping book continues. Right now, I’m writing about hardening your home by such means as installing longer screws in door hinges, planting thorny bushes around the perimeter, and so on. One major problem for many homes is that their walls provide little to no resistance to bullets. I actually did some informal testing on this back in the 70’s, and found that even a .22 rimfire bullet penetrated most common residential wall types. The exceptions were concrete block and brick veneer, both of which stood up pretty well to anything up to and including .308/30-06 AP rounds. The block or brick was damaged, and couldn’t stand up to more than a couple heavy-caliber hits in the same place, but it provided a reasonable barrier.

Not really expecting to find any authoritative information on the subject, I just went out and did a Google search. I was surprised to find a technical report on just this topic from the Canadian Police Research Centre. They actually built examples of different types of residential walls and fired bullets from various pistols and rifles at them. In the conclusion I found this sentence, which sums things up nicely: “Walls finished with either a clay brick or concrete brick veneer prevented all but the .50 Browning from complete penetration of the wall assembly.” And that “all” included the 7mm Remington Magnum and the .375H&H.


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

09:20 – More rioting, looting, and burning last night in Ferguson, and some other other cities as well, with more expected tonight. It would seem that enforcing the laws against rioting, looting, and arson is now considered to be “racist”. We cannot allow these low-life scum to define the rules. The rule should be, as it’s always been, “You Loot, We Shoot.”

This kind of crap is happening more often nowadays, and it’s going to become routine if we continue to handcuff our police departments to make their responses to such outrages less and less effective. Treating rioting, looting, and burning as political speech protected by the First Amendment is ridiculous on the face of it, but that’s what we’re doing. These people are not exercising their First Amendment rights; they are violent criminals, and should be treated as such.

This phenomenon is the main reason I want to relocate to a small town, away from population concentrations. The underclass is a serious and increasing threat to decent citizens and their property, and the best solution I can see is to move far away from any underclass concentrations. Small towns in rural North Carolina are usually relatively poor, but most have little underclass presence and what few there are can be dealt with if necessary.


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

08:45 – I watched the DA announce the grand jury verdict last night. Silly me. The announcement was scheduled for 9:00 p.m. ET, and I expected it to be over by 9:01 ET. I mean, how much was there to say? But instead of simply announcing that the grand jury had returned no true bill, the DA stood there talking for 40+ minutes before he announced the verdict.

So, he finally announced that the cop wouldn’t be prosecuted and, as expected, the rioting, shooting, looting, and burning began soon after. If I had been running things, I would have taken the opportunity to read the Riot Act and issue riot shotguns with #00 buckshot to all of the police officers, along with orders to shoot on sight any rioters/shooters/looters/burners they encountered.

I have nothing but contempt for those racist assholes who tried to make this situation all about race. It had nothing to do with race. It was merely a cop doing his duty, protecting himself and civilians by shooting a violent criminal thug who was in the process of attacking that cop. That cop did all of us a favor. The world is better off without Michael Brown in it, and would be even better off if the cops killed every other violent criminal thug.

I also have nothing but contempt for the mainstream media, who also tried to to make this situation all about race. Listening to them, one would think that every black person in the country thought that the cop should be hanged for murdering an innocent black man, while every white person in the country thought it was just fine for cops to murder innocent black men. The real truth is that the divide was not racial, but between those–black and white–who support colorblind enforcement of law and order versus those–black and white–who believe that Brown’s skin color should have given him a free pass to behave lawlessly.

Consider this. Had the situation been reversed–had Darren Wilson been a black cop and Michael Brown a white thug–those who support law and order, regardless of their own race, would have supported the black cop who defended himself by shooting the white thug. But those who are currently out there protesting, shooting, looting, and burning wouldn’t be doing those things had Wilson been black and Brown white. So who are the real racists?


Monday, 24 November 2014

08:57 – “Who are you,” Barbara asked me last night, “and what have you done with my husband?” Yesterday was the first day in more than 40 years that I consumed no soft drinks. None. Zero. Zip. Ordinarily, I guzzle Coca Cola Classic from the time I get up through late afternoon, and Sprite starting around dinner time. Yesterday, I drank tea until mid-afternoon, then drank orange drink mix from the LDS store until about 9:00 p.m., and then filled my mug with (gasp) ice water. It was that last that really prompted Barbara’s comment. She hadn’t seen me drink water at home in the 31 years we’ve been married. Ever.

When Barbara asked this morning why I’d done that, I told her there was no special reason. She was worried that I might be ill. In reality, it’s because I’m writing a prepping book, and one of the fundamental principles of prepping is that you should eat (drink) what you store. And we have lots of tea, sugar, orange drink, cocoa powder, etc. stored, but only maybe a month’s supply of Coca Cola and Sprite. So, although I won’t attempt to dignify what I was doing as “research”, I wanted to see if there would be any physical or mental effects from changing a long-standing habit. So far, there’re no adverse effects, but I’ll continue the test for at least the next few days. Maybe permanently. I like sucrose better than high-fructose corn syrup anyway.

I got most of my stuff out of the living room yesterday and helped Barbara haul up boxes and boxes of Saturnalia decorations, including Bob the Reindeer and Bob the Penguin. As is usually the case when I’m writing a book, I order stuff that I know I’ll need later and then just stack it up until I need it. Most of what was stacked in the living room was of that sort, stuff that UPS delivered that I hadn’t had time to process yet.


09:43 – I’m rather surprised at the lack of media response to the cops shooting and killing a 12-year-old boy in Cleveland over the weekend. Perhaps that’s because, from reading the reports, it appears that this was unquestionably a “good” shooting. The boy had a pistol in his waistband and attempted to draw it when the cops challenged him. It was an airsoft pistol, but many of those are so realistic in appearance that the cops had no way of knowing. Making matters worse, apparently someone had removed the blaze-orange paint from the muzzle.

Which reminds me, I intend to daub the muzzles of our firearms with blaze-orange paint. The situation will probably never arise, but if it does and if that orange paint buys me even a tenth of a second, well, that’s all I need. Besides which, a 1″ band of orange paint on the muzzles of our assault rifles and riot shotguns will make them pretty.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

09:35 – I cleaned the fallen leaves out of the troughs on the roof yesterday. This year is the first time I haven’t climbed up on the roof to do that. Instead, I stood on the ladder and used a leaf rake with a handle extension duct-taped onto it to drag the leaves down and over the edge. I wasn’t able to get all of them, but I got enough. I won’t be climbing up on the roof any more. As Dirty Harry said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

Today will be a good day to stay inside. The forecast is for rain and thunderstorms all day. I’ll finish the last load of laundry today and do some work on science kits.

I’ve been researching the competition for the prepping book. I’ve now looked at more than a dozen of the current general prepping titles and, with just one exception, they are universally bad. Not just bad, but hideously bad. And the exception is mediocre, at best. Almost without exception, the authors have no clue what they’re talking about on most or all of the subjects they “cover”. Pretty clearly, they’ve used the Internet as their source of information rather than actually having done any of this stuff themselves. One, for example, divides defensive weapons into four major classes: pistols, shotguns, rifles, and … carbines. Another talks about “hamm radio”, and it’s obvious from the rest of what she has to say about comms that this isn’t merely a typo. She’s completely clueless about radio. In her list of “top brands” of transceivers, she recommends, and I quote: “MURS (Multi-Use Radio Service), Yaesu VX-3R VHF/UHF, Handheld VHF 2 meter Amateur Radio Transceiver 5watt, and TYT TH-F5”. Geez. It’s like listening to a science lecture presented by someone who’s stumped if asked the orbital period of our planet.


11:48 – I’ve been getting the daily free Kindle books email from kebooks.com for a couple of years now. Usually, I just jump down to the mysteries section and download any that look interesting for Barbara. Today, I decided to look at the non-fiction category, where I found six or eight prepping books and three or four on Kindle publishing/marketing. So I downloaded all of them.

The prepping books are ridiculous, both in terms of content and size/price. A typical prepping “book” runs anything from 15 to maybe 60 pages and is normally priced at $2.99 to $4.99. What a rip-off, even if the content were worth reading. As to the books about publishing/marketing on Kindle, I’m not even going to bother looking at them. Why? Here’s the cover from one of them:

Saturday, 22 November 2014

10:17 – A lot of preppers are concerned about a nuclear EMP attack or a repeat of the CME Carrington Event taking down the power grid. I estimate the probability of the former to be < 0.001/year and the latter to be about 0.01/year. Of considerable more concern to me--especially given recent news about Chinese attacks on US computer systems–is the grid being taken down by computer crackers, Chinese or otherwise. I estimate the probability of that occurring as > 0.1/year. If that estimate is correct, the probability is about 0.65 that some sort of serious computer attack on our infrastructure will occur within the next decade.

I am flabbergasted that critical facilities–power grid control, nuclear power plants, pipelines, municipal water treatment plants, and so on–use ordinary general-purpose computers, many of them running MS Windows(!). If that’s not bad enough, what moron decided to allow critical control systems to be connected to the Internet? Those control systems should be secured from physical access, running stripped-down versions of Unix/Linux or another secure OS, with the OS and applications on ROM, no connection to any network, and the USB ports epoxied closed. Apparently, none of that is being done in most critical control systems.


Friday, 21 November 2014

09:55 – I still need to build some science kits. As of this morning, after shipping today’s orders we’ll be down to two biology kits and one forensic kit in stock. I have everything I need to build another couple dozen of each, but I need to bag the chemicals before I can build the kits. So after I get the outstanding orders queued up to ship, that’s what I’ll be doing today.

I see that Mr. Obama has done what he himself said not long ago he was Constitutionally prohibited from doing. I’m sure he believes this is the right thing to do. That’s one clear difference between libertarians like me and progressives like Obama: libertarians try to do what they believe is the right thing, but only at their own expense; progressives try to do what they believe is the right thing, but only at other people’s expense.

Work on the prepping book continues. Right now, I’m writing about keeping insulin cool as a short-term solution and about isolating insulin from animal pancreata as a long-term solution. The latter is surprisingly easy. The hardest part is identifying the pancreata in animal corpses. Using animal insulin does raise allergy issues, but it’s a hell of a lot better than nothing. The thought just crossed my mind that if I were writing a post-apocalyptic novel, as I originally intended to do, I’d probably have characters isolating insulin from the corpses of people who’d attacked them. In fact, I might have them keeping prisoners and killing one as necessary to produce more insulin. But then I’m a bloodthirsty kind of guy, at least when it comes to writing fiction.