Mass Shootings and Random Acts of Violence

I’ve long been a strong advocate of an armed populace as the best means of self-defense. I also believe it is by far the best deterrent and way to stop both mass shootings and terrorist attacks involving firearms.
Back when I first became interested in the topic of mass shootings, however, there weren’t as many, and at least here in America. It was largely relegated to the occasional insane person run amok. Aside from 9/11, we did not yet have to worry Muslims conducting their own mass shootings in the name of terrorism.
Now we do, and it looks to get a whole lot worse before it ever gets better.
Society has several tools available to deter terrorism and mass shootings:
– Intelligence (costly, even when highly focused)
– – requirements
– – planning and direction
– – collection
– – processing and exploitation
– – analysis and production
– – dissemination
– Security (the physical deterrence and protection of people 
– – Law enforcement (federal, state, county, and local)
– – Personal protection (planning, training, and weapons)
So, should we make it more difficult for people to obtain guns?  Should we reduce magazine capacities?  Increase background checks?  Reduce calibers?  Limit ammunition capability?  Create more “gun-free” zones?  Mandate the use of “smart” guns?  Increase waiting periods?  Ban certain types of firearms based on their appearance or general level of public trepidation?  Put a cop on every street corner?
anti-gun desperation
No.  NONE of these measures has proven effective in either deterring or stopping mass shootings or random acts of violence, and most of them significantly increase the cost of obtaining a firearm to the average law-abiding citizen who seeks protection.
By far the most immediate and most effective deterrent against both mass shootings and random acts of violence, whether the result of insanity or terrorism, is a well-armed general populace comprised of law-abiding U.S. citizens who are both properly armed and well-trained.
The greatest threat to our security comes not from the lunatics and terrorists, but rather, from those second-guessers, the Monday-morning armchair quarterbacks who are NOT well-trained (if at all) yet who for whatever blitheringly idiotic reason feel like they’re *somehow* qualified to force their opinions down the throats of an otherwise free and well-trained general populace, usually in the form of ideas that sound good but either do nothing or actually do more harm than the harm they’re supposed to address.
mass shootingsThroughout history, a well-armed/trained populace has always been the most effective deterrent and counter to mass shootings and random acts of violence.

Why Socialism Fails

Dear socialist wannabees. THIS is socialism. It’s not the idealistic dream that’s been spoon-fed you by those who either should have known better or are merely using you and your votes to further their evil, elitist means.

Rather, this is the socialism of reality. It’s a situation that’s been often repeated throughout history, any time people have tried to implement it on any scale, whether in a twelve-person commune or a 50-million person country.

It doesn’t work. It never has and it never will, as it’s based on a false precept, one that assumes that all, or at least most humans will do more than their fair share of the work.

In reality, however, no matter where we go, we find the same thing all over the world: 20% of the people do 80% of the work.

That is reality.

And that reality is why socialism has never and will never work in the real world.

The amazing thing is that in those rare environments where everyone does more than their fair share, it negates the very need for a system like socialism, as everyone winds up with an abundance, and out of the generosity of their own hearts, people shared with others in need.

That’s what we had in the U.S. a long time ago. These days, not so much. By forcing everyone to contribute, the government has removed generosity, replacing it with a burden. As a direct result, people no longer work as hard as they once did. They are no longer producing in abundance. When the fruits of their labor are stolen from them by force and threat, they’re forced into a mindset of resistance. They work even less. Society is found in want. Those in power put even more pressure on the people to produce. They resist even more.

Society collapses. You get Venezuela, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and France, not to mention countless others throughout history.

Idealism sucks, people. It sucks because it does not work. It leads people astray, far from their true path, toppling societies and governments at the same time, creating mass societal collapse, rampant hunger, disease, and death.

Don’t be fooled, people. Work harder than you think you need to work, live well below your means, and save the rest, investing wisely.

Salvation Reality

Don’t believe every cute cartoon you see on the Internet.

It’s not “what you do and how you treat people. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” – Corinthians 2:8-9

There is no such thing as salvation by works — by what you do, much less how you treat others.

Now, for the next verse: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Corinthians 2:10

What we do, how we treat people is the end result, is the outpouring of God’s sanctification in our lives. Even the kindest, most compassionate and helpful do-gooder in the world has zero access to the Father (and his realm of heaven) if he rejects the Son. There’s absolutely NOTHING we can do to earn our way into heaven: “What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” – Romans 3:9-12

It’s ALL God’s grace in the face of our undeservedness.

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” – John 5:24

Bottled Water Is NOT Good For You

I’ve seen several lists comparing the heath and safety aspects of bottled water over the years. Consumer Reports put out one such list a few years back. While the debate between tap water and bottled water will undoubted rage on forever, even distilled water will absorb the harmful toxins found in plastic water bottles.
All quotes below are taken from Dr. Marchese’s article entitled, The Truth About Plastic Water Bottles.  You can read more about Dr. Marchese’s qualifications, here.
“The manufacture of plastic bottles takes place in stages. Typically, the plastic bottles used to hold potable water and other drinks are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), because the material is both strong and light.”
Now, here’s the real kicker…
“#1 PETE or PET (polyethylene terephthalate) – used for most water and soda bottles. The ingredients include resins made from methane, xylene and ethylene combined with the chemical ethylene glycol and other chemicals. These have flame retardants and UV stabilizers added.”
“In general, polystyrene plastic leached the solvent styrene, polycarbonate plastic leaches bisphenol-A, polyvinyl chloride and polyethylene terephthalate leach phthalates. This accounts for #1, #3, #6, and #7.”
And now, for the coup de grâce:
“Both phthalates and bisphenol-A are known hormone disrupting chemicals, often called hormone mimicking compounds. Studies show that both phthalates and BPA have adverse health effects in humans and are linked to infertility, premature puberty, asthma, allergies, menstrual cycle irregularities and breast cancer and prostate cancer.”
Thus, when you drink bottled water, you ARE drinking phthalates, one of the more toxic HDCs out there.

So, what can you do?

First, avoid as many sources of phthalates as possible.  This article lists a number of sources along with recommendations for avoiding the harmful chemical.  One of them, of course, is to avoid using plastic bottles for any substance you ingest.  That includes water.

Second, because phthalates and other harmful contaminants from a variety of sources can still make their way into your water, it’s a good idea to filter your water using a high quality, multi-stage water filtration system.  The old adage, “you get what you pay for” doesn’t apply, here.  There’s both a good deal of fear and a great deal of misinformation out there, and many water filtration companies are capitalizing on that with sensational claims and ridiculously overpriced products.  For example, you can buy two nearly identical three-stage inline water filters at Home Depot and Lowes, but the only factual difference between the two is that one of them costs $200 and the other costs almost $500.  My point:  Do your homework and choose wisely.
Third, avoid using any sort of plastic water bottle.  Keep in mind that most water bottles you buy are either made of plastic or contain plastic liners, even ones made of stainless steel.  There’s nothing wrong with a stainless steel water bottle that does not contain a liner.  In fact, it can be easily washed by putting a quarter teaspoon of dishwashing detergent inside, filling it was warm water, and thorough shaking it for about twenty seconds.  Stand it upright for several hours, shake it well, then invert it in a cup for several hours.  Empty, rinse thoroughly, and enjoy!
If you want a really top-notch system, you’ll need four things, in the following order, beginning with the input of city water:
1.  A whole-house sediment filter.  About $60.
2.  A water softener (only required in areas with hard water).  Several hundred dollars.
3.  A three-stage water filter than removes fine sediment, common chemicals, with a final stage comprised of activated charcoal.  This can either be a whole-house model, or (recommended) a unit installed under the sink next to the last item.  About $200.
4.  A reverse osmosis system.  About $200.
Please note that many reverse osmosis systems come with a two-stage filter, including the $179 GE Reverse Osmosis Filtration System from Home Depot.  This unit combines both #3 and #4, above, saving you a considerable amount of money.
Finally, a word about distillation systems.  These systems typically have one gallon capacities and can churn out a gallon of “distilled” water in a few hours.  To do that, however, they require a considerable amount of electricity, often $10-$20 a month, and the final product is often little better than what you put into the system.  The reason for this is that distillation evaporates both water and other substances with similar boiling temperatures as water, and then proceeds to condense both the water and those other substances as well!  For example, most such units are incapable of separating water from ethanol, even though ethanol boils at 78.4 °C while water boils at 100 °C, a difference of more than 10 deg C.  Commercially distilled water is produced using multicyclic (continuous feed, steady-state, with reflux) fractional distillation.  Put simply, that’s way beyond the capability of a countertop distillation unit.

The 9/11 Conspiracy Theory Trifecta

Of all the blitheringly idiotic crap I’ve seen on the Internet, the conspiracy theory behind the 9/11 collapse of the World Trade Center twin towers takes the cake, followed closely by so-called, “chemtrails.”

“What really happened” is simple:  Two aircraft were intentionally driven into the sides of each tower at a high velocity, severing and severely weakening the exterior steel support structure.  The resulting fires, easily exceeding 800 deg C, were some 300 deg C hotter than the 50% weakening point of the remaining steel structure.  The failure of those beams caused the entire floor to collapse.  The resulting impact vastly exceeded the design strength of the building, so subsequent floors continued collapsed one after another, domino style, until the entire tower had collapsed.  The same thing happened to the other tower a short time later.

For those of you who don’t understand that steel doesn’t need to get anywhere near its melting point in order to become very weak, if not “limp as a noodle,” please watch the following video recorded by a blacksmith, an expert in metalworking:

Here’s another outstanding resource. The gentlemen behind this 7-part series of videos clearly understands the underlying physics. Meanwhile, batshit lady and the other conspiracy theorists keep repeating the dogma, the conspiratorial mantra. The video at 6:15 is particularly telling.

Bottom line, people, as the blacksmith correctly noted, “if you hold this up as part of the conspiracy, you are an idiot.”  I would argue the same applies to all of the 9/11 conspiracy theories.

Absolutely none of them stand up to even routine scrutiny by experts who actually know what they’re doing (as opposed to the couple thousand idiots who signed up for that website).

Have a nice day.  🙂

MREs: When Are They NOT Safe to Eat?

Some people like MREs, and some people hate them.  If you’re like most people, however, you find them a palatable and portable way of carrying your food supply with you while camping, fishing, hunting, or, if you’re in the military, while either out on maneuvers or deployed.
Each MRE provides an average of 1,250 calories (13% protein, 36% fat, and 51% carbohydrates) and 1/3 of the Military Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamins and minerals.  A full day’s worth of meals would consist of three MREs.  Commanders, please take note:  Cutting MREs to two per day is not an effective way to help your troops lose weight or look slender.  All it does is deprive them of the basic energy and nutrition requirements they need to fight the war.  Don’t skimp on your troops.  Instead, support them.  Given them what they need to do their job.
If you have a bunch of MRE’s on hand, here’s a handy date/time converter into which you can enter the 4-number code on any individual component, package, box, or entire lot, and it will spit out the manufactured date.
The website also contains a good time/temp chart, along with suggestions for how and when to know when you’re better off disposing of them.
My Suggestions (born of both information and personal experience):
1. Always store MREs in the coolest place in your home, so long as they remain above freezing.
2.  Leave individual components of an MRE fully sealed in its plastic MRE bag until you’re ready to eat that MRE.  The components are well-protected in the main bag, but are subject to breach when taken out of their protective environment.
2. Do NOT freeze them, unless you plan on keeping them frozen right up until you need to eat them. MRE’s that have been frozen should be marked with a big question mark.  Freezing an MRE retort pouch (the component rectangular plastic and aluminum containers of food) does not destroy the food inside, but repeated freezing increases the chances that the stretching and stressing of the pouch will cause a break in a layer of the laminated pouch.
3. Use and do not exceed the recommended shelf life. Officially, how long MREs last depends on how long and at what temperatures they are stored. At a minimum, they should last 1 month when stored at 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius). Or they could last 5 years at 50 °F (10 °C).  The current nomenclature states, “The shelf life of the MRE is three (3) years at 80 ° Fahrenheit.  However, the shelf life can be extended through the use of cold storage facilities prior to distribution.” (Source)
4. NEVER use the old Shelf Life chart.  It was wrong, and people have DIED.  That’s why the U.S. Government no longer publishes it for use.  
5. NEVER accept anecdotal evidence about how someone “regularly eats MREs that are a dozen years old.” That’s stupid. That’s stupid people have DIED. Don’t be stupid.
6. If you’re in a survival situation where you have no choice but to eat it beyond it’s shelf life as indicated on the NEW chart, then very carefully inspect each component packet, toss any which even might have been compromised, insert the packet(s) into a covered pot of boiling water for 30 minutes, remove, cool, carefully smell the opened contents, tossing anything even remotely questionable, and only then eat the darn things.
7.  Given the stated shelf life (3 years at 80 deg F), if you store MREs at home, you should be rotating them in and out of stock no longer than every three years.  Given the fact you might have to survive on them for quite a while, you might consider a one-year max rotation.  That is, you should be eating through and replacing your entire stock of MREs every year.  If you actually have an entire year’s worth of MREs, well, I hope you like high blood pressure and constipation!
One thing everyone should remember is that they’re not the best survival food on the planet.  In fact, our friends over at Patriot Headquarters (no affiliation with either patriot or RYOC), list 10 Reasons Not to Eat MREs, all of which have some merit in various circumstances.
Regardless, MREs remain a durable, trustworthy option for portable food requirements in most circumstances, easily used in the field with little or no preparation (other than tearing into the package)
Bon Appétit!

Computer Monitor Problems and Solutions

If you’re like me, you don’t like it when good machinery isn’t working properly.  Your computer monitor, however, is like any other piece of electronic equipment in your house.  It needs to be kept clean and located on your desk free from papers and books in order to maintain an adequate flow of air for cooling.  It also needs to be set at the right resolution, one compatible with both your monitor as well as the graphics card in your computer system.  Once these things have been accomplished, there’s a very good software tool I’ll mention towards the end which can help you manage your single monitor, or even many monitors, with aplomb.

1. Physically clean your monitor.  Whatever you do, do not blow air into the cooling vents!  All this does is shove dust into all the little nooks and crannies which need to be clean in order for the monitor to be kept cool.  Instead, use a vacuum cleaner and brush attachment, being sure you’re properly grounded, and thoroughly clean the outside of your monitor.

If you’re handy with a screwdriver, remove the screws holding the back of your monitor, exposing it’s electronic innards.  After securing your wrist to a metal part of the frame with a grounding strap, vacuum as much of the circuit boards, nooks, and crannies as you can without further disassembly (which gets pretty complicated).  Make sure you vacuum out the inside of the back cover at this time, taking care that you don’t suck up any of the attachment screws.  Then, and only then, using a can of air for cleaning electronics, blow out all the nooks and crannies you can reach.

Reinstall the back cover to your monitor.

This is a good time to further clean the exterior surface of your monitor with a barely damp sponge or washcloth.  You want to make absolutely certain that no drops of water become trapped near the edge of your screen and the housing.  I spray a small amount of Windex onto a clean, dry, terry-cloth towel, and use that to clean all exterior surfaces, beginning with the view screen itself.

2. Check the cable that runs between your computer and your monitor. If it’s an RGB cable (shaped somewhat like a flattened D, with 15 pins), then undo any screws at the plug, remove it, and reattach it.  You may want to blow it out with an air duster while it’s detached.  Do the same for the other end.
If you’re using an RGB cable yet you have an HDMI port one both your computer and your monitor, it’s time to upgrade! RGB is an analog signal, while HDMI is a digital signal. You’ll always get better results with HDMI. If you don’t have an HDMI cable, order one from Amazon, making sure that it says it’s an HDMI ver 1.4, 1.4a, 1.4b (or later) cable. If you have a 4k monitor, you’ll want a 2.0, 2.0a, 2.0b, or 2.1 cable. You can buy a basic ver 1.4 HDMI cable at Amazon for less than $10. If you’re paying more than that, you’re getting fleeced, so don’t do that! One of the best cables out there for the price are the BlueRigger series. Search Amazon using the following and it should show at the top, at a cost of about $8.99:
10′ HDMI BlueRigger High Speed HDMI cable with Ethernet
If that solves the problem, you’re done. If not, or if you’re already using HDMI or cannot use HDMI, then continue:
3. Make sure you’re using the proper resolution for both your monitor and your graphics card. Since 1994, DDC (Display Data Channel, and later, EDID, then DisplayID) has enabled computers and monitors to communicate. This is fully supported in Windows, so make use of it!
If you’re using Windows (8, 8.1, or 10):
a. Right-click on an empty part of your desktop and select, “Display Settings.”
b. Click on “Advanced Display Settings”
c. Choose the resolution that says, “Recommended” next to it.
d. Click “Apply,” and follow the directions.
4. Write down the make (manufacturer) of your monitor. You’ll usually find that somewhere on the front of the monitor. Common makes include LG, Viewsonic, HP, Samsung, Dell, Apple, Asus, Phillips, BenQ, Lenovo, and ViewSonic.
5. Check the back of your monitor for the Model Number and write it down.
6. Search Google for a manual using your Make and Model. 
online manuals make model
For example, the make of my monitor is LG, and the model number is L246WH-BN, so I typed the following into Google’s search bar:
online manuals LG L246WH-BN
But don’t use my manual.  Use your own.  🙂
7. Find and download a pdf copy of the proper manual for your monitor.
8. Review your manual to find the section which talks about the monitor’s on-screen menu. What you’re looking for in particular is the section on adjusting the screen’s position (horizontal and vertical). Follow the instructions to reposition the screen so that it’s properly centered on your monitor, filling the screen completely.
Alternatively, you might find specific instructions in the Troubleshooting section of your manual.
9. If none of the above work, you can always reset your monitor to factory settings. The easiest way to find that in your manual is to use the Find function (Edit–>Find) in Adobe Acrobat Reader (or whatever program you’re using to read your pdf manual).
10.  DisplayFusion is by far the best monitor control software I’ve discovered and used.  Although it’s designed to help you manage a multiple monitor setup, it’s precise resolution, positioning, multiple presets, and excellent wallpaper management capabilities will significantly enhance your single monitor experience, as well.