Tuesday, January 17, 2017

"The Greatest Fight Scene in the History of Cinema"


That's what one enthusiastic poster at YouTube called this Bollywood fight scene, from the movie 'Singham Returns'.  Personally, I think he was rather over-enthusiastic . . . but judge for yourselves.





Once again, the laws of physics (and basic combat strategy and tactics) don't seem to apply in Bollywood.  Oh, well . . .

Peter

Tom Kratman delivers the smackdown to Rosie O'Donnell


Retired US Army officer and author Tom Kratman exhibits his usual tact, delicacy and social graces (which may have been compared to those of an enraged rhinoceros) towards Rosie O'Donnell's latest idiocy.

So you think we should impose martial law to prevent Trump’s taking office on the 20th of January. A little education would seem to be in order. The first part of the lesson is that “martial” means warlike, or military; you know, as in Mars, the Roman god of war. “Campus Martius” not ringing any bells? “Court-martial”? O tempora. O mores.

. . .

Now about that military junta you apparently want to see in charge, how do you think they see you and yours? No clue, huh? Well, given what you’ve asked for, I am, I confess, unsurprised.

So here’s the truth: With a few exceptions, they hate you. They hate everyone like you, by which I mean lefties / progressives / liberals, to the extent those may differ. They hate what you all have done to them, turning them into a frightfully well-armed gay bar cum feminist feelings fest. Even some numbers of the gays and feminists, folk who are soldiers and marines, airmen and sailors, first and foremost, hate you. They’re sick of SHARP training being the number one priority. They hate what you and yours have done to the country, both at home and overseas. Moreover, though veterans broke nearly two to one in favor of Trump, I would be shocked to the innermost fiber of my being if active military didn’t go even more heavily for Trump, and ground gaining combat arms and combat support didn’t go Trump much more heavily still. I would guess better than 90% of Army and Marine Corps combat arms, for example, went for Trump, sometimes, perhaps, reluctantly, but in the knowledge that anyone would be better than Hillary or the people who supported her.

And you want martial law? You want to put them in charge? Let me tell you how that plays out, dumb ass.

There's more at the link.  Go read it, and have a good laugh.




Peter

A Swiss watch like no other


I had to laugh at this report from Switzerland.

In a protest to show that Switzerland’s new rules on Swiss-Made are too lenient, a luxury watchmaker has built what it calls a 100 percent Swiss timepiece, composed only with locally produced natural resources, such as a strap of cowhide rather than alligator leather, plus a more unusual ingredient: cheese.

At Geneva’s annual watch fair, which opened Monday, H. Moser & Cie. unveiled the one-of-a-kind piece, whose watchcase is made of resin mixed with pasteurized Vacherin Mont d’Or cheese. The “Swiss-Made” designation is so meaningless that the brand will no longer use it, the Schaffhausen-based company also said.

“As much as 90 percent of components can be made in Asia, but the watch could still carry the Swiss-made label,” Chief Executive Officer Edouard Meylan said in an interview. “The Swiss watch industry doesn’t want people to know that. We don’t want to be compared with a label that’s not strong enough and that many brands are abusing.”

As of Jan. 1, 60 percent of the value of timepieces needs to come from Switzerland for them to gain the title, up from 50 percent previously. Most of H. Moser’s watches are 95 percent Swiss. In a satirical video, which also takes swipes at Swiss banking and Heidi, Meylan appears wielding a crossbow and wearing red suspenders and a cap that says “Make Swiss-Made Great Again.”

There's more at the link.

Here's the video.





Nicely done, Moser!  I suppose, with a watch casing made of resinated cheese, we should be grateful that Limburger isn't native to Switzerland . . .




Peter

Monday, January 16, 2017

Laundry Day, Here Again


(This is a guest post from my wife, Miss D.)

Many luxury items have a price, and a cost. The price is what it is, but the true cost counts in maintenance and upkeep, and the time for same. Some people love huge lawns. My husband wanted 5 acres around the house, until I looked at him, and said "Who's going to mow that?" When I was little, I thought a mansion would be pretty nifty. These days, I like my small house, because it only takes two days a week to clean.

This doesn't mean I don't have my own intensive luxuries. For example, I have king-sized fluffy blankets, comforters, and duvet. Because when there's enough material, it doesn't matter if we both steal the sheets... we both win! But these are too large to fit in a standard washer and get clean, much less a household dryer. So, every now and then, I have to commit a few hours and around $12 in quarters to the local laundromat.  

The last time I had to do the Washing Of The Duvet (and blankets), I went off to the laundromat in Nashville, and spent three hours in clothes-guarding boredom trying to ignore the spanish soap opera blaring at 85 decibels over the incessant jangling from the video game machine. Every time I do this, I weigh the cost of my time against the cost of laundry service for them... but you don't want to know how much other people would charge for their time and labour to clean the large and fluffy things.

This time, I walked into the laundromat in a small North Texas town, and found it deserted... with several machines washing. The various bottles of laundry detergent and boxes of dryer sheets, bags of dryer balls, etc. were totally unguarded. The TV was on an inevitable game show, but it was muted, and the place was clean, bright, quiet... empty.

Because in a high-trust society, it's perfectly fine to leave things unguarded. In a small Texas town, the routine is to pop the laundry in the wash while your daughter plays with the cats outside on the street (can you really call the feral when they'll happily mug you for pettings if you look at 'em too long?), and then take the kid to breakfast at the cafe as soon as everything's in the dryer.

So I loaded the washer, and went grocery shopping. I love small towns!

Elephants in the snow


I had to smile at this video of an elephant in the Oregon Zoo being introduced to snow - something it would normally never encounter in its natural habitat.





Judging from the behavior and the happy noises, that elephant was certainly enjoying himself.

Peter

Is the Washington Post becoming yet another 'fake news' leader?


I used to have moderate respect for the Washington Post.  It was clearly left-wing in orientation as far as US politics were concerned, but it appeared to work towards at least some semblance of balance;  and, where it didn't, one could usually 'read between the lines' of its reportage to get at the root of the matter.

Since the election of Donald Trump, that seems to have changed.  Two recent examples in particular have caught my eye.  The first was the Post's insistence that a Russian 'operation' had 'hacked' a Vermont power utility.  It's since corrected the article, but only after days of prodding by other news sources, demonstrating conclusively that the report was inaccurate.  The second, just a couple of days ago, was the alleged 'removal' from office of the commanding officer of Washington D.C.'s National Guard, in the middle of the inauguration festivities.  It rapidly emerged that he had not been 'removed' by the incoming Trump administration at all;  in fact, the transition team had offered him the chance to stay on for Inauguration Day, but he had himself insisted on leaving at the scheduled hour.

If the Washington Post continues in this vein, it'll rapidly become as untrustworthy - and distrusted - as the Gray Lady herself, the New York Times, which is not only a shadow of its former self as a newspaper, but is almost a parody of its own slogan - "All The News That's Fit To Print".  It now appears to print verbatim only the news that fits its political, social, economic and ideological agenda, and slant everything else until it does fit that agenda.  If the WaPo goes down that road, it'll end up as a parody of a news site - a little like the editor of Buzzfeed insisting that his outlet's publication of the fake Trump dossier was appropriate, while appearing on CNN, another outlet that publicized the fake dossier.  Talk about the pot and the kettle getting together, to call everyone else black . . .

One wonders whether the editors and owner of the Washington Post really want that to happen to their newspaper.  If they do, they may find it backfires on them rather spectacularly, not only as far as the Trump administration is concerned, but in terms of the reactions of ordinary Americans.

Peter

Two worthwhile perspectives on the state of US intelligence services


In the light of speculation about whether our intelligence services and agencies are deliberately trying to sabotage President-elect Donald Trump, I found two articles over the past week that were very interesting.

The first is from Karl Denninger, who isn't very complimentary about the report alleging Russian 'interference' in US politics.

If in fact the CIA outpost in Benghazi was part of an arms-smuggling operation into Libya that went wrong and wound up with some of the weapons going to Daesh, and Ambassador Stevens was murdered in no small part because the CIA and he tried to reverse some of the damage, then it certainly appears quite logical that Russia, which has no interest in Daesh causing problems for them (terrorism is bad even if the targets are Russian, right?) would have a logical reason to not want the person who, in their judgment ARMED Daesh on purpose, in the White House!

Maybe you can explain to this little American peon exactly how that, and expressing that preference, is bad?

I wonder if your explanation would include a discussion into the reasons why Secretary Clinton has never faced an actual inquest as to whether her actions, those of Obama and others (including those in the CIA) violated US law by quite-effectively providing material aid and comfort to terrorists?  You know, an act for which you or I would (quite properly so) do hard felony prison time?

. . .

What does the DNI/ICA report amount to?

Simply this: The Russians preferred Trump as a candidate.  They believed, for what may or may not have been good cause, that Hillary Clinton might have incited a war with Russia, and deemed this undesirable.  In response they ****-posted on social media to this effect and ran slanted news stores on RT.  This makes them evil, where all those who ****-posted on social media and ran slanted news stores on other media for Clinton, including media here in the United States who not only slurred Donald Trump they also intentionally ignored the DNC's rigging of an actual election (the Democrat primary) are good and holy people who should be deified while the Russians should have sanctions applied, their diplomats expelled and property seized.

Yeah, that's about the size of it.

. . .

PS: The intelligence "community" (e.g. DNI in all of its components) work for the President, not the other way around.  If this "report" is demonstrative of the quality of their "work" the entire lot of them deserve to have their next assignment to be shoveling dog**** at the local pound.

There's more at the link.  Recommended reading.

Another interesting, more thoughtful assessment comes from Captain Tightpants, who has some personal experience in the field.

Analysts, whether deliberately or unconsciously, tend to tilt things towards what "they" want them to be, and to report what they are "expected" to find. This can be as unintentional as the mid-80's support to Afghan "freedom fighters" against the USSR ignoring all the signs that such groups would be a future threat to others, or as deliberate as the recent concerns that U.S. military reports out of the Iraq region were blatantly skewed to show the fight against Islamic State forces was more effective than what actually was occuring. Either way, to one extent or another, it has a tendency to tint the reporting from what in a perfect would would be a relatively pure result. This is also connected to the politics of public exposure. The analyst is a shy creature, frightened of bright lights and criticism. The last thing an agency wants is to publicly be called WRONG on a conclusion, or to go against the prevailing social winds of what should be. Compare "Russia 2012" comments by the administration, in which Romney's statements of concern were viewed as cold-war holdovers, to "Russia 2017 is our foe" - Russia and their goals haven't significantly changed in that time, but the political and public perception of how they affect us has.

Finally, there is the whole "consensus" issue - in that, there is NEVER a 100% consensus, no matter what you hear. It simply. Does. Not. Happen. Not with 17 different agencies, different threshholds of reliability in terms of the information and outlook, and different resources. Intelligence agencies as a whole don't even LIKE the concept of saying something is 100% one way or another - they're drawing conclusions based on data, and projecting it forward. Think about the last family get together you had, and if you could get people to agree 100% on things? The "Intelligence Community" is a federal-level group of Uncle Ted, with all his opinions out at the dinner table. The only reason I bring this up is that if you ever see news reporting on a "unanimous consensus" among intelligence agencies, it's either over something irrefutable such as "the sky is blue," or a total lie.

Again, more at the link, with some interesting examples from the field to illustrate his points.

Bottom line:  I don't believe our intelligence agencies at this point.  The only things they seem to have demonstrated are partisan bias, relative incompetence, and blind knee-jerk political correctness when called upon to justify their positions.  That's not good for America in general, never mind Mr. Trump in particular.

I suspect it's long gone time for a house-cleaning.  One hopes the new Administration will provide it.

Peter

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Will the ATF cook up another Waco to save itself?


The Patrick Henry Society warns that it might.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has introduced legislation to abolish the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Gun-running, Explosives, and Childkilling, also known as ATF or BATFE. According to his proposal, he thinks the ATF’s ‘duties’ (I use the term loosely) could be absorbed by the FBI and DEA. If the bill passes, then the ATF has six months to come up with a plan for how it’ll dissolve.

While a lot of folks are cheering because Drain The Swamp and Take Our Country Back and all of that stuff, they’re missing a whole other layer to this situation.

Remember last time the ATF was up for dissolution? That was in 1993. When Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) proposed back then that ATF needed to be dissolved, the agency scrambled to find a way to justify its own existence. Surely, if they had a big bust, a big save, the government would see how very important and necessary they were. But who could they arrest? What could they do to prove they needed to stick around?

They decided to go after a guy in Texas, named Vernon Howell–known to his church as David Koresh. The rest, as they say, is history; a bloody, horrifying, charred and craven piece of history that proved only the depravity of the ATF and the greater federal government.

There's more at the link.

I share the author's concern.  I served as a chaplain with the Bureau of Prisons (part of the Department of Justice).  I had (and sometimes still have, in retirement) occasion, professionally and privately, to discuss federal law enforcement with members of the FBI, the US Marshals Service, and other agencies.  Their opinion of the ATF was and is unanimous - and frequently unprintable.  The individuals concerned regarded it as unprofessional, politicized, and actively seeking to aggrandize itself at the expense of other agencies, to so great an extent that they tried to avoid having to cooperate with it in joint investigations.  I've never forgotten one agent's reaction.  He shook his head at having to go on a raid with ATF agents in attendance, and said disgustedly, "If they're guarding my back, I'm gonna double up on back body armor!"  Everyone else in attendance indicated their emphatic agreement, some in words of approximately one syllable.

I found it telling that when the disbandment of the ATF was last discussed, back in 1993, it was mooted that ATF agents might be transferred to the FBI.  I was told (by an FBI Special Agent in charge of a field office) that the agency flatly refused to even consider accepting them.  The words "not professional enough" were bandied about when the matter was discussed, along with sundry other, less polite expressions.

It wouldn't surprise me at all to see the ATF try to justify its continued existence by staging some major operation in the full glare of publicity.  Given their past efforts - which have included Ruby Ridge, Waco, and Operation Fast and Furious, the latter leading to the deaths of at least two federal law enforcement officers so far, plus hundreds of people in Mexico - the prospect does not fill me with confidence.

I don't know the Patrick Henry Society.  It appears to be a one-man-band operation, as far as I can tell, and the article cited above has some extreme views with which I disagree.  Nevertheless, on this issue, I fear the author may be correct.  We'll all do well to keep our eyes open for any sign that the ATF may be at it again.

Peter

You'd never think he was a criminal . . .


Readers may remember the video clips I put up last week, showing two robbers trying their luck (and failing) against an armed, alert gun shop owner in Georgia.  One of them was killed on the spot, the other fled.

It turns out the deceased was one Donovan 'Dula' Chopin, from New Orleans.  His obituary doesn't say a word about his prior criminal tendencies (although both he and his mother are featured on Mugshots.com).  You'd think it was describing an angelic youth who never put a foot wrong.  Examples:  "Donovan "Dula" Chopin was called home on Monday December 26, 2016 at the age of 30 years. Beloved son ... talented brother ... Donovan will be forever loved and missed...".

The tributes on his guest book page at Legacy.com are similarly sanitized:  "I know for sure now because you will be guiding her steps from Heaven. I promise you your music, your spirit and your hustle will live in us forever" ... "My star you don't have to struggle anymore!!"  There's even a GoFundMe page for him, claiming he was "called home on December 26, 2016. This is a very tragic and unexpected blow for the family. He was very loved by the community and family."  It's trying to raise $8,000 (presumably for funeral expenses), and has already raised $1.4K as I write these words.

Yeah. Right.  Whatever.  Clearly, the late 'Dula' was a dindu (do a quick search on the word if you're not familiar with it).  I'm sorry for those he left behind . . . but the rest of us are probably better off without his presence.  By busting into a gun shop armed with two firearms, trying to rob it, he proved beyond any shadow of doubt that he was already a hardened criminal.  Amateurs, or those just starting to tiptoe over the edge of the law, don't commit that sort of crime as their first effort.  That's the harsh reality of crime.  I never met him, but I've met his type all too often.

Nevertheless, I'll pray that, if it is possible, he may receive mercy from God for his sins and his crimes, and that his loved ones may receive what comfort they can.  I hope they, and those who attend his funeral, learn from his less-than-stellar example, and live better lives henceforth because of it.

Peter

Your feel-good story of the week


A man in Michigan was probably saved from death by the loyalty of his dog.

Around 10:30 p.m. on Dec. 31, the man -- identified only by his first name Bob -- was watching football when he decided to run outside and get a log for his fireplace, television station WPBN in Traverse City reported.

When he got outside, he slipped and fell, breaking his neck.

Not able to move, Bob laid in the snow for nearly 20 hours. As temperatures dropped to the mid-20s, his golden retriever, Kelsey, stayed by his side, licking his face to keep him warm.

“She kept barking for help but never left my side,” he said. “She kept me warm and alert. I knew I had to persevere through this and that it was my choice to stay alive.”

On New Year's Day, Bob's neighbor found him and called 911.

There's more at the link.

It looks as if Bob will make a full recovery - and I bet his dog is going to get a steak dinner or three out of this!

Peter

No, veterans aren't homicidal, suicidal maniacs!


Chris Hernandez, author, blogger and veteran of military service, has written a scathing denunciation of the most recent insinuation that veterans are somehow less stable or more dangerous than citizens in general, particularly when it comes to the risk of terrorism.  Here's an excerpt.

NBC New York published an article on January 8th, two days after the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting. The article is headlined “Mental Health Effects of Serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.” ... The clear inference is that simply serving in war causes mental problems, and some veterans are so distraught by the transition to civilian life that they carry out acts of unimaginable violence.

The only problem I have with NBC’s article is that it’s a load of absolute nonsense.

. . .

After examining each veteran mass shooter, I don’t see any reason to believe that their military service caused the shootings. In Dionisio Garza’s case his experience sure made him more deadly, but nothing suggests military service was a the proximate cause or even a contributing factor. The truth is, some veterans have mental problems unrelated to their service. Some are criminals. Some are just evil people. The fact that a veteran committed a crime doesn’t mean they committed it because of their military service, just like if a former professional athlete commits murder that doesn’t mean he committed murder because he was a professional athlete.

Besides that, the stats show that veterans are actually underrepresented among mass shooters. A 2014 FBI report on mass shootings counted 160 mass shooting incidents between 2000 and 2013. 93 of those shootings occurred between 2009 and 2013, the time frame included in NBC New York’s article. Only three of those 93 active shooters were military (assuming NBC’s reporting is accurate), and those three shooters never even deployed to a war zone. I found reports of one more veteran active shooter during the 2009-2013 time frame, which means vets comprised 4 of 93 shooters, just over 4%.

But America’s roughly 22 million veterans comprise just over 6% of our population. Which means vets are statistically less likely than civilians to carry out a mass shooting. Is NBC going to publish an article showing that civilians are the more dangerous threat?

. . .

Military service doesn’t make people insanely violent; if it did, 22 million veterans in America would be murdering a hell of a lot of people every day. People commit mass murder because they’re mentally ill or just plain evil. They don’t do it because they served in the military, went to war, or don’t like civilian life.

There's more at the link.  Good stuff, and worth your time.  Use it to debunk the arguments of those who see veterans as more of a threat than an asset.




Peter (yes, I'm a veteran too!)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Heh


Received via e-mail, origin unknown:




Reminds me of H. L. Mencken's famous definition of puritanism: "The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy."




Peter

More on the 'deep state' versus President-elect Trump


Following on from my post about the subject earlier this morning, here's a discussion between Fox News' Tucker Carlson and independent journalist Glenn Greenwald about the nature of the conflict.  It's very interesting.





I wonder what the next development will be?  Mr. Trump's not known as a quitter, and I daresay the 'deep state' won't give up without more of a fight.  Who will win?

Peter

It's all in the length


Some years ago, I recommended a shotgun as a primary home defense weapon for those who were novices at the shooting sports or the use of firearms for defensive purposes.  My recommendation still stands.

I've heard objections from some people over the years that a shotgun - or a rifle, for that matter - is simply too long to use effectively inside a building.  "You won't be able to go around corners without exposing yourself!"  "A bad guy will simply reach out from cover, grab the muzzle and push it down - then you can't hit him!"  My response has always been that with proper training, those aren't problems at all.

Now Clint Smith of Thunder Ranch, whom we've met in these pages before, and with whom I've trained when his establishment was still based in Texas before it moved to Oregon, has produced this video illustrating that a long gun isn't all that long in practice.  It's worth watching.





That shows the reality very clearly.  A long gun is perfectly adequate for home defense - in fact, more adequate than a handgun, more often than not - if one knows what one's doing.  If one doesn't, no firearm will be particularly useful.

Peter

Maybe John Robb had a point . . .


On December 15th last year, John Robb, writing at his blog 'Global Guerrillas', postulated that the CIA was trying to topple the US government.

There's an electoral coup underway.

. . .

The stealth effort, led by liberals who believe Trump is a danger to the US, has been underway since the election.

That effort only gained traction with Republican electors when the CIA leaked that Russia had intervened in the US election to help Trump win.

Of course, the timing of the CIA's leak wasn't random.

It was something much more sinister.  It was an opening salvo by the CIA to actively influence the Electoral College and stop Donald Trump from becoming President.

In other words, the CIA is trying to topple Trump.

Why?  Self preservation.

The real reason is that Trump was working with Peter Thiel to corporatize the intelligence gathering of the United States around companies, like Palantir, that can adopt and employ technology much faster and with more efficacy.  In other words, Trump is planning to turn the CIA and the NSA into peripheral collection systems.

That was unacceptable to the CIA, an agency with a strong sense of self-importance.

There's more at the link.

At the time, I dismissed Mr. Robb's concerns.  Frankly, I thought he'd gone way off into la-la land.

After the events of this past week, with Buzzfeed's 'revelation' of the damning (and completely false) allegations against Mr. Trump, and CNN's barely-disguised support of those allegations, and Mr. Trump's revelation that it was intelligence agencies who were leaking details of his meetings with them, rather than his staff, and Glenn Greenwald's assertion that the 'deep state' has gone to war with President-elect Trump . . . one has to wonder.

Was - and is - Mr. Robb, in fact, correct?  Are we seeing an active conspiracy by at least some intelligence professionals to overturn the results of the elections, and prevent Mr. Trump from taking office - or, at least, have him do so with a seriously tarnished and diminished reputation, that will prevent him from acting against those who have inflicted the damage?  And is that why Mr. Trump has maintained his own security team, over and above the protection provided by the US Secret Service?  Is his own team there to protect him against the machinations of 'deep state' agencies and individuals?

It looks increasingly as if I may owe Mr. Robb an apology.

Peter

EDITED TO ADD:  I've done a follow-up post with a video of a discussion between Tucker Carlson, of Fox News, and Glenn Greenwald, on the conflict between the 'deep state' and President-elect Trump.  It adds more fuel to the fire.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Bollywood again


Here's another set of over-the-top action sequences from Bollywood.





Let's hope Hollywood never decides to emulate them . . .




Peter

Surviving the fall of the Soviet Union


Those interested in how people cope in a crisis situation should go read a long, detailed, and very interesting thread on AR15.com about the experiences of a Russian man during and after the collapse of communism in that country.  Here's just one excerpt from his recollections.

There were multiple money "reforms" after the collapse. Ruble was artificially tied to a dollar before the collapse. I believe the artificial exchange rate was a around 0.90 rubles per one dollar but ruble was technically considered as a non-convertable currency. I could't go to a bank and exchange rubles for dollars. Actually it was highly illegal to own any foreign currency. Only the special people who did travel abroad could exchange money and it was very limited too.

Also, before the 1991 collapse, prices on many goods, especially food, were much lower than what it actually cost. I remember reading that meat products actually cost around 8 rubles per one kilo, production cost but were sold at around 3 rubles per kilo. ALL prices were set by the government and were often printed on a box. This means, I could buy a kilogram ( about 2 lbs) of sugar for the same price anywhere in the country, Same for everything else.

I remember one money reform where they printed new 25 and 100 rubles banknotes. I think it was before the USSR collapse. This was done in an attempt to catch or to hurt all illegal businesses. People could exchange their old 25 and 100 ruble banknotes but up to a certain amount. Anything over that amount required an letter explaining where the money came from.

Something similar may happen here in the US, in the name of national security or the war on drugs. I keep my money in the bank but I try to keep a few hundred dollars on hand. for emergencies. If you do the same, it's best to have it in $20 bills or less . I know several hardcore preppers who keep most of their savings in cash. If you are one of them, don't keep it all in $100 bills.

What happened to the economy after the USSR collapse was called - "Shock Therapy". It was an attempt to fuse russian economy with the rest of the world. A rudimentary form of Market Economy was also being developed. This meant that everything was tied to a real market price, tied to the real currency exchange rate. Prices skyrocketed. People were walking around in shock and disbelief after they saw new prices on food and everything else. It was like 10, 100 or 1000 times more than a month earlier. Yes, food was readily available but people could not afford much because they were still getting paid very little.

I remember one day, one of my university professors walked in the class, all upset. He just got his monthly wages (everyone was paid in cash only) that equaled to 360 rubles. That day a dollar was selling at it's new high of 350 rubles per dollar, at Moscow currency exchange market. So he just got paid ONE DOLLAR for a month of teaching at a prestigious university. Now, keep in mind that teachers in Russia were like doctors and lawyers here in the US. Being a teacher was prestigious back then, before the USSR collapse.

Inflation was also getting out of control. Prices were getting higher and higher, almost daily. It was best to spend money as soon as you get paid. Most family incomes were spent on food.

I'm not talking about buying frozen pizzas or eating out. Heck, I never ate out or visited a restaurant until I was about 18 years old. Money was spent on things like sugar, rice, potatoes, tea, salt and maybe some meat products.

We had a small summer shack (Dacha) with a small garden out in the country. This helped a lot before and after the collapse. Everything the garden produced was eaten or canned for the winter. It was nearly impossible to buy fresh fruits or vegetables during winter months, especially during the soviet times. Most apartment buildings had basements that were partitioned to have small storage cells, about 10x15 ft, where temperature never got below freezing. We had one too and stored all of our canned goods and potatoes for the winter. Many people would not have survived without it. We canned tomatoes, pickles, fruits like apples and strawberries. We also stored about 500 lbs of potatoes in the cellar. every September we made a trip to a country side and bought the potatoes from small (often illegal) farms. Potatoes store very well in dry, cool and dark place.

Food was number one priority back then. Like I said previously, people were not really starving but they were not eating as good as what's considered normal here in the US. I often laugh when I hear on the news about people who "starve" here in the US. How is this possible when food is so cheap and available everywhere? Perhaps they call it starving when they can't afford to eat out everyday? Obviously they have no clue about basic things like cooking. Yes, it's nice to have pork chops or a steak every day but it costs a lot too. Why not make soup? It's relatively cheap and will feed a family for several days. A 50 lbs. bag of rice can be purchased at Costco for around $15 and will last for a long time. You can make a lot of mouth watering dishes from potatoes only. How can you go hungry in this country???

There's much more at the link.  Very interesting to all 'professional preppers', as well as to those of us who aren't fanatical about it, but believe in being prepared for life's less palatable moments.

Peter

The perils of multitasking


CNBC points out that people who multitask are less focused, and do less well than, people who concentrate on one task at a time.

You may have heard that multitasking is bad for you, but new studies show that it kills your performance and may even damage your brain. Every time you multitask you aren't just harming your performance in the moment; you may very well be damaging an area of your brain that's critical to your future success at work.

Research conducted at Stanford University found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.

But what if some people have a special gift for multitasking? The Stanford researchers compared groups of people based on their tendency to multitask and their belief that it helps their performance. They found that heavy multitaskers—those who multitask a lot and feel that it boosts their performance—were actually worse at multitasking than those who like to do a single thing at a time. The frequent multitaskers performed worse because they had more trouble organizing their thoughts and filtering out irrelevant information, and they were slower at switching from one task to another.

There's more at the link.  Click over there to read the whole thing.

I used to pride myself on being able to multitask when I was in the commercial workforce;  but looking back, I have to admit that I was completing each task in a 'good enough' sort of way, instead of doing it as well as I possibly could.  Now, when I'm focused on writing books, I find that I can't do them justice if I'm working in the midst of distractions.  I need to concentrate on the creative process.  Even research needs to be done beforehand, with notes compiled and ready, so that when I have to write about what I've researched, everything's at my fingertips and I don't have to concentrate on looking up something.  I can simply write what I already know, with occasional sideways glances at notes or another window on my computer screen to verify that what I'm writing squares with the facts.

It's an interesting article, and bears consideration.

Peter

Gun fu with the Dalai Lama


Over at Recce Room, blogger Usagi has assembled a great collection of Dalai Lama memes centered around self-defense and firearms.  They're a hoot!  My personal favorite:




There are plenty more at the link.  Click over there and enjoy them.

Peter