The LEAST Important Election Of Our Lifetimes

John Rubino at Dollar Collapse argues that the election this November is The LEAST Important Election Of Our Lifetimes because nothing important is going to change.

A consensus seems to have formed on both left and right that the upcoming presidential election involves some literally existential questions, making it THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION OF OUR LIFETIMES.

In fact, the opposite is true. This election is the least important of the past 30 years and very possibly the least important ever. Because, to put it bluntly, we’re kind of screwed either way.

Let’s consider some of those supposedly existential threats:

A Politicized Supreme Court
As this is written, Senate hearings on the nomination of Trump’s third Supreme Court Justice are in progress. Democrat questioners seem to be mainly concerned that a conservative Court would eliminate Obamacare and Roe v Wade, consigning women and the poor to circa 1915 levels of degradation and neglect.

Leaving aside the question of whether Obamacare and Roe were Constitutional in the first place, let’s consider what would happen if they’re overturned.

Would the elimination of Roe v Wade mean that abortion becomes illegal from coast to coast? Not at all. States containing 70 or so percent of the US population would immediately legalize abortion within their borders while making provisions to ferry in pregnant women from neighboring non-choice states. The result: The issue moves back into the legislative realm where actual voters get to have a say and the procedure remains available for the vast majority of American women. Not ideal for folks on either side of the issue, but par for the course in a Democracy where citizens seldom get all that they want. And certainly not an existential threat.

With Obamacare, the issue is not the whole program, but just its “mandate” provision through which the government orders every American to buy health insurance and penalizes us if we don’t. Striking it down as beyond the scope of Federal power does not mean that Obamacare – or any other healthcare entitlement – goes away. It would continue as before but without the government ordering people to participate. A little bit harder to administer perhaps, but probably not the end of the program and, again, certainly not the end of the world.

In any event, 49% of Democrats want to replace Obamacare with a single-payer system like Medicare For All, and the demise of Obamacare might speed up that process, thus improving the world from a liberal perspective.

Meanwhile, conservatives fear that the Democrats, should they retake control of the White House and Senate, will “pack the Supreme Court” by decreeing that it should have, say, 15 judges instead of the current 9 and then adding 6 liberals, to turn the court into a permanently liberal branch of Congress.

So how big a threat is a politicized Supreme Court? Obviously not too big, since Justices have been “legislating from the bench” for decades (Roe dates from 1973) and activists on both right and left continue to complain that the other side is winning. Sounds like business as usual whoever is the next president.

World War III
This is just filler because the military/industrial complex is obviously in charge either way.  Under Trump, we’re liable to be fighting China or Iran by this time next year while under Biden, WWIII will probably feature Russia. The details differ but our kids are cannon fodder in both scenarios.

Rampant corruption
Let’s just agree that Trump, Biden, Harris, and Pence are each in their own way corrupt and/or unethical. But since two of them will end up running the country come November, from a corruption standpoint does it really matter which two?

The environment
This seems like a legitimate potential difference — until you notice a couple of things. First, Trump has talked about rolling back regulations to “save” coal and boost fracking, but he’s actually accomplished very little. Coal is still dead and fracking is moribund.

Second, solar power is eating the electricity business. Here’s a chart showing how solar installations are soaring even as Trump tries to save coal. As the cost of solar keeps falling, it will eventually dominate the energy economy, and there’s nothing Trump can do to stop it.

Solar power installations least important election

And don’t forget cultured meat and vertical farms, which will, over the next couple of decades, do to factory agriculture what solar is doing to coal and natural gas.

Meanwhile, the Dems’ Green New Deal (which Biden in any event has disavowed) would, even in its most ambitious form, accomplish very little for the environment beyond what solar and other clean technologies will inevitably do via the free market.

The conclusion: Trump isn’t nearly the environmental threat he’s made out to be, and Biden isn’t that much of a savior. Technology and new business models are the big story here, and they don’t care who’s in charge.

Irresponsible borrowing
Each side accuses the other various kinds of financial impropriety. But the truth is that both are operating on an unspoken agreement to spend, borrow, and print whatever it takes to stave off a collapse brought about by past mismanagement.

The following chart shows the increase in US government debt over the past three administrations. Note that in the absence of labels you can’t tell by the amounts borrowed whether Democrats or Republicans were in charge in any given year.

US government debt least important election

The conclusion? If Trump wins he’ll continue to run trillion-dollar deficits. If Biden wins, he’ll borrow that much or more. Neither will scale back the military budget or soaring entitlements. And both will encourage, via zero and possibly negative interest rates, the private sector to continue its own borrowing binge. On fiscal policy, these guys are virtually indistinguishable.

Fascist dictator!
It’s amazing how many Democrats literally expect Trump to ignore the coming election and just declare himself dictator.

Please listen, liberals: Trump is trolling you. He’s a narcissistic stand-up comedian who finds himself with a vast audience of emotional children, and he’s doing what any self-respecting comic would do: He’s freaking you out. So pretend you’re at a stage-side Comedy Store table and just roll with it. When his set is over, he’ll drop his mike and amble off to his next gig.

Meanwhile, it’s equally amazing that conservatives look at Court stacking, the Green New Deal and other liberal power grabs as a prelude to an updated version of Orwell’s 1984. This is Joe Biden we’re talking about. He’s been a feckless political hack for longer than most voters have been alive and has never once displayed the ambition required to set up a dictatorship.

As President, he will take corporate donations and follow the orders implicit in those legal bribes. The result will be Clinton/Obama business as usual, not revolution.

Granted, Biden will likely die or lose what’s left of his mind before his first term ends. And yes, Kamala Harris is an instinctive authoritarian. But she has the same moral flexibility as the Bidens, Obamas and Clintons, which just implies a slightly nastier version of the status quo. Again, plenty of run-of-the-mill corruption and brutality, no coup in sight.

So the very real personality defects of this crop of candidates are an annoyance rather than a danger. And as such, they’re easily managed. Just don’t watch Fox or MSNBC and the coming political mess will wash over you like the smell from a passing garbage truck, unpleasant but ephemeral.

What DOES Matter?
The coming financial crisis of course. The pandemic turbocharged a process of hyper-financialization that was already underway, and now whoever is in charge next will have no choice but to keep bailing out everything in sight with tens of trillions of newly created dollars.

This will shift the pressure from bankrupt states and insolvent companies to the currency. Prices will start to rise as the dollar falls. And the fears of today’s voters will seem in retrospect like quaint fantasies from a simpler and embarrassingly naïve time.

And that’s when dictatorship becomes a real possibility. Not Because Trump or Biden are implementing long-held plans but because they are panicked by events spinning out of their control and have literally no idea what to do. This is a legitimately scary prospect. But the coming election will have nothing to do with it one way or the other. Buy gold now.

Sovereign Man: Antifa is real. It’s violent. And you need to plan for it.

From Sovereign Man – Antifa is real. It’s violent. And you need to plan for it.

American diplomat George Messersmith found himself in an awkward situation while attending a luncheon in Kiel, Germany in August of 1933.

As lunch came to a close, the attendees erupted into song with arms outstretched in the Nazi salute.

First they belted out Germany’s national anthem, followed by the anthem of the Stormtroopers– the paramilitary ”Brownshirts” who violently enforced Germany’s new social rules.

Messersmith was the US Consul-General overseeing America’s diplomatic ties with Germany, so he politely stood at attention. But he did not salute or sing along.

Germans were required by law to render the Nazi salute, especially during the anthem; Hitler had been awarded supreme executive authority only a few months before, and he made the mandatory salute law of the land.

Foreigners, however, were explicitly exempt from saluting or singing the anthem.

But that didn’t help Messersmith.

Even though he was legally excused from making the Nazi salute, angry Brownshirts menacingly glared at him for not participating in their rituals.

Messersmith later wrote in his memoirs that he felt threatened, as if the Brownshirts were ready to attack him.

“I felt really quite fortunate that the incident took place within doors. . . For if it had been in a street gathering, or in an outdoor demonstration, no questions would have been asked as to who I was, and that I would have been mishandled is almost unquestionable.”

Messersmith was one of the few US officials who grasped just how dangerous the Nazis were in 1933. Others had to witness it first hand before they understood.

A similar event unfolded when a US radio host and his family found themselves amidst an impromptu Nazi parade in Berlin.

And in order to avoid Hailing Hitler, they turned their backs to the parade and gazed into a store window.

But several Brownshirts quickly surrounded the family and demanded to know why they did not salute.

The family explained that they were from the US and didn’t know the customs in Germany. But the Brownshirts didn’t care. The family was assaulted as police officers watched… and did nothing to stop the violence.

News of these sorts of incidents quickly made their way overseas, and foreigners read the about Americans traveling in Germany being savagely beaten or threatened for not engaging in Nazi rituals.

But more surprising is that many foreigners actually sided with the Nazis.

Even the daughter of the US Ambassador to Germany defended the Nazis and their Brownshirt enforcers.

She said that news reports of these assaults and beatings were “exaggerated by bitter, close-minded people” who ignored the “thrilling rebirth” Hitler had ushered in for Germany.

Of course, we know in retrospect that these early warning signs were not at all an exaggeration. They were a small preview for what would come next.

Today we are obviously in a different time dealing with totally different circumstances.

But it would be foolish to ignore the early warning signs and pretend as if what’s happening now is not a preview for what could come next.

This is perhaps best illustrated by a CNN reporter in Kenosha, Wisconsin back in August who stood in front of burning cars and buildings, with a violent mob all around him, yet declared the protests “fiery but mostly peaceful.”

This willful ignorance of the undercurrent coursing its way through the Western world will not save anyone from the destruction it brings.

For example, just this past Monday, “peaceful protesters” in Portland, Oregon celebrated Columbus Day with an “Indigenous People’s Day of Rage.”

They weren’t even pretending to be peaceful. They called it what it is: RAGE. That’s literally the name they gave to their own actions.

Hundreds of people dressed in all black, covered their faces, and armed themselves with shields and nightsticks. They marched their way through the city, smashed windows, and forced any witnesses to stop filming and delete photographs.

A man who filmed from his apartment’s terrace had lasers shined in his eyes and was doused in some sort of liquid.

The protesters tore down statues of Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. They smashed the windows of the Oregon Historical Society building, and unfurled a banner that said “stop honoring racist colonizer murderers.”

Police did not even attempt to intervene until the rioters had been on the streets for hours and had already caused havoc and destruction.

(Ironically, much of the mainstream media still refuses to acknowledge that this group ‘antifa’– the fascists who call themselves anti-fascists– even exists.)

It’s obvious that a small, fringe, ideological minority has started to take control.

They have squashed civil discourse and free speech. Dissent is met with violence and intimidation. And if you dare to speak out, you become a target.

That could mean being “cancelled” by the Twitter mob. Or being accosted in public and forced to raise your fist. Several people have already been killed in protests across the nation.

When people like the former CEO of Twitter are calling for capitalists to be “lined up against the wall and shot,” it’s time to take the threat seriously.

This is far from the first time in history that a tiny fraction of the population has resorted to violence and extremism to force their agenda on an entire nation.

But you don’t have to watch helplessly as the born-again Brownshirts destroy everything you have worked for.

The first step is to recognize that the radical movement will not simply go away on its own. This has been growing for some time, and history tells us that it could become much worse.

Second, have a rock solid Plan B. This means deciding– in advance, when you’re still calm and rational– what steps to take in order to secure your family’s safety, your prosperity, and your freedom in a worst case scenario.

After all, you don’t want to be thinking about your next move when some antifa thug ‘peacefully’ hurls a molotov cocktail through your window.

Homesteading Family: How to Dry Fresh Herbs (Oven, Dehydrator, or Hanging)

Carolyn Thomas at Homesteading Family has an article on How to Dry Fresh Herbs (Oven, Dehydrator, or Hanging)

Growing and preserving fresh culinary herbs is so much easier than one might think. But there are a few tips to know when learning how to dry herbs for long-term storage and use. We’re sharing all our tips in this post.

We like to plant all sorts of herbs in our cottage garden. We’ve written a post on the top 15 medicinal herbs you can grow yourself. We also love to grow roses and use their dried petals medicinally and in a DIY facewash.

If you’re interested in other preservation methods for herbs, click this link for two more ways to quickly and easily preserve your herbs at home.

Tips for the Best Herbs

There are a few tips you should follow in order to get the best tasting, and highest quality culinary herbs.

  1. Start with freshly harvested herbs. Herbs that were harvested a day or more prior to drying will lose flavor and potency. It’s best to work with herbs that are as fresh as possible.
  2. Know the “enemies” of herbs. Sunlight, air exposure, and moisture are all no-no’s when it comes to getting quality herbs. We’ll discuss each of these more in-depth below.
  3. Enhance the flavor of your herbs!


By following all these tips, you’ll end up with the most flavor, the most potent and the best quality herbs. Not to mention you won’t be paying grocery store pricing as you’ll only have spent a few cents on the price of the seeds!

Fresh Herbs

Starting with fresh herbs ensures the best end product. You don’t want to harvest herbs and allow them to sit and get wilted before dehydrating.

When possible, harvest herbs just before you plan to bundle them and dry them. It’s really best to do this all in one day, even within an hour or so from harvesting.

Dried Herb “Enemies”

As mentioned above, the “enemies” of herbs are sunlight, airflow, and moisture.


When drying and storing herbs, it’s important to choose a section of your home where they’ll be out of direct sunlight.

It’s true herbs need sunlight to grow, but when it’s time for them to be dried, sunlight will degrade the herbs quickly.


Choose an area of your home where there is minimal foot traffic.

Herbs that are hanging will collect dust and particles floating around in the air, so the less air movement surrounding them, the better quality you’ll end up with in the end.


Storing herbs correctly will prolong the life of your herbs. This is probably the most important one to watch out for.

When storing herbs, an airtight container such as a mason jar is a great option.

But it’s imperative your herbs are completely dry before sealing them.

One test you can do is to crumble them and seal them tightly in a mason jar. Watch the jar for 24 hours, if ANY condensation forms on the inside of the jar, the herbs were not completely dry.

If this happens, remove the herbs from the jar and allow them to continue drying.

You can do this test as many times as needed.

Different Methods for Drying Herbs

There are a few different methods for drying herbs. You can use your oven, a dehydrator, or our favorite method is to hang them in bundles.

How to Dry in the Oven

Drying in the oven doesn’t actually mean turning the oven on.

To dry herbs in the oven, arrange your herbs on a cookie sheet and then place them in an oven with only the pilot light lit, or the oven light on.

Drying with a Dehydrator

Using a dehydrator is a great option if you want them done quickly and in a protected area.

Arrange herbs on the dehydrator trays and dehydrate at the lowest possible temperature until completely dry.

Hang Dry in Bundles

Our favorite method for how to dry herbs is to hang them in bundles.

We have a room off of our kitchen that doesn’t get too much foot traffic where we hang them from the ceiling until completely dry.

Keep reading for our tips on how to hang dry herbs.


How to Hang Dry Herbs

The best tip when hanging herbs is to gather the sprigs in bundles that aren’t too dense, nor too sparse.Where you live and the humidity in the area you’re drying the herbs will determine how thick your bunches can be.

In dessert climates, you can bundle together many more herbs than say the humid south.

Hang From Twine

Twine is a great tool to hang herbs with. Tying the twine in a slipknot and then wrapping that around the end of your bundle will allow the twine to tighten down on your herbs as they dry, eliminating the possibility of losing sprigs to the floor.

Once your herbs are completely dry, crumble them with your hands and store in an airtight container.Now you can enjoy your homegrown culinary herbs all year long!

Economic Collapse Blog: More than half “plan to stockpile food and other essentials” for the months ahead

Michael Snyder at The Economic Collapse says that More than half of all Americans “plan to stockpile food and other essentials” for the chaotic months ahead

There was a time when preppers were relentlessly mocked, but nobody is laughing now.  Today, most Americans are thinking about stockpiling food, and this massive shift in our national mindset has been sparked by concern about what is going to happen in the months ahead.  Many Americans believe that another wave of the coronavirus pandemic is coming, others believe that our ongoing economic depression will get even deeper, and yet others are convinced that the upcoming election could produce widespread violence.  Of course there have always been people that have been deeply alarmed about future events, but we have never seen anything quite like this.  In fact, a brand new survey has found that over half of all Americans are currently planning “to stockpile food and other essentials”

Slightly more than half of Americans in a recent poll from Sports and Leisure Research Group say they already have or plan to stockpile food and other essentials. The chief reason: fears of a resurgent pandemic, which could lead to disruptions such as new restrictions on businesses. On Oct. 2, the number of COVID-19 cases in the USA was its highest in almost two months.

People still remember the shortages that we witnessed earlier this year when the coronavirus pandemic first erupted in this country, and those that ended up being stuck at home without enough toilet paper would rather not repeat that experience.

So as the mainstream media continues to hype a new wave of the pandemic, we should expect to see Americans hitting the grocery stores really hard.  And according to data company Envestnet Yodlee, there is evidence that this is already happening

Already, there’s some evidence that grocery sales are rising, according to data from industry sources. The typical bill for a trip to the grocery store rose to $72 for the week ended October 6, or 11% higher from the week before, according to data company Envestnet Yodlee.

“That’s the highest we’ve seen since the first week of June and the second-highest since we started tracking this in January,” said Bill Parsons, group president of data and analytics at Evestnet.

Fortunately, many grocery store chains anticipated a spike in demand in advance and started stocking up ahead of time.  The following comes from CNN

Grocery stores across the United States are stocking up on products to avoid shortages during a second wave of coronavirus.

Household products — including paper towels and Clorox wipes — have been difficult to find at times during the pandemic, and if grocery stores aren’t stocked up and prepared for second wave this winter, runs on products and shortages could happen again.

During a time when other retailers all over the nation are failing at a pace that we have never seen before, many grocery store chains are actually experiencing booming sales.

And of course I have been warning that this would eventually happen for a very long time.  During a time of crisis, demand for food and other essentials tends to go up and demand for non-essential items tends to go down.

Needless to say, this is something that is not just happening in the United States.  All over the world we have seen demand for food on the rise, and this comes at a time when global food production has become increasingly stressed.

As a result, food prices all over the world are starting to escalate quite aggressively

Food prices continue rising during the coronavirus pandemic, jeopardizing food security for tens of millions worldwide.

On Thursday, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations said world food prices rose for the fourth consecutive month in September, led by surging prices for cereals and vegetable oils, reported Reuters.

FAO’s food price index, which tracks the international prices of the top traded food commodities (cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat, and sugar), averaged 97.9 in September versus a downwardly revised 95.9 in August.

Sadly, this is just the beginning.

Global food supplies will continue to get even tighter, and global demand for food will just continue to shoot higher.

So I would stock up while you still can, because prices will never be lower than they are right now.

Meanwhile, our society continues to unravel right in front of our eyes.  You would think that the Lakers winning the NBA title would be a time to celebrate for the city of Los Angeles, but instead large crowds of young people used it as an opportunity to riot and attack police officers

A crowd of more than 1,000 revelers descended into the area around Staples Center after the game. Unruly individuals mixed within the crowd began throwing glass bottles, rocks, and other projectiles at officers. That is when an unlawful assembly was declared, and only a limited number of people complied and began to disperse. A larger portion of the group broke off and began vandalizing businesses while continuing to engage in violent behavior, some aimed at responding officers.

In Portland, protesters just toppled statues of Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln during a “day of rage”, but the mainstream media didn’t seem to think that this was any sort of a problem.

And in the middle of the country, the violence never seems to stop in the city of Chicago

Five people were killed and 48 others were injured by gunfire this weekend in Chicago. Five of those wounded were teenagers.

Last weekend saw 37 people shot throughout the city, five of them fatally.

Of course things could soon get a whole lot worse.

According to one recent survey, 56 percent of all Americans expect “an increase in violence as a result of the election”.

Isn’t that incredibly sad?

Many are still hoping that such a scenario can be avoided if one of the candidates is able to build an extremely large lead on election night.  A large enough lead could potentially cause the candidate that is behind to concede fairly quickly, and that may ease tensions.

But I wouldn’t count on that.

At this point we are about 500 hours away from the election, and both sides are indicating that they are prepared to fight until the bitter end.

And the side that ultimately ends up losing is likely to throw a massive temper tantrum, and that won’t be good for our country at all.

So it makes sense that so many Americans are making extra preparations for the months that are ahead, because it definitely appears that they could be quite rocky.

Doom and Bloom: Tonsillitis In Austere Settings

The Altons at Doom and Bloom Medical have a short article on Tonsillitis in Austere Settings.

Your tonsils are glands on each side of the back of the throat. Their job is to help trap bacteria and other germs that cause infections. Sometimes, however, they can become infected themselves, a condition known as “tonsillitis“. Most cases of tonsillitis are caused by viruses, but bacteria may also be the culprit. The average age is between 5 and 15 years old.

Once, tonsils were commonly removed (known as “tonsillectomy”) in young children at the first sign of infection. In the 21st century, the procedure is much less common. Recurrent bacterial infections or severe symptoms may still require removal, a simple procedure (see link) in the hands of an experienced provider, but difficult for the family medic. The best option, therefore, in austere settings is identifying and treating as early as possible.

(Note: I had my tonsils removed at age 5. At least they gave me some ice cream afterwards! Joe Alton, MD)

whitish-yellow patches may be seen on exam

Use of a tongue depressor helps visualize the area. Common signs and symptoms of tonsillitis include:

•             Red, swollen tonsils

•             White or yellow coating or patches on the tonsils

•             Sore throat

•             Difficult or painful swallowing

•             Fever

•             Enlarged, tender glands (lymph nodes) in the neck

•             A scratchy, muffled or throaty voice

•             Bad breath

Since tonsillitis is often seen in children too young to give a good history, look for:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability
  • difficult or painful swallowing
  • Drooling or difficulty breathing (signs of a severe case)

Treating someone with tonsillitis can include some of the following:

  • bedrest
  • hydration
  • A soft diet
  • Humidifiers
  • Saltwater gargles
  • Throat lozenges
  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen is helpful for pain, but aspirin should be avoided in children due to Reye’s Syndrome.
Antibiotics may nip a bacterial tonsillitis in the bud

Although viral tonsillitis isn’t improved with antibiotics, Penicillin or amoxicillin works for bacterial infections if taken by mouth for ten days.  If Penicillin is not an option due to allergy, azithromycin may be substituted. These drugs are available in veterinary equivalents at

Adult doses:

  • Amoxicillin 500-875 mg orally twice a day or 250-500 mg orally every 8 hours for 10 days
  • Penicillin V 500 mg orally twice a day for 10 days or 250 mg orally four times a day for 10 days
  • Azithromycin 500 mg orally once a day for 5 days

Pediatric doses:

  • Penicillin V 25-50 mg/kg/day divided by four and given every 6 hours for 10 days
  • Amoxicillin 50 mg/kg/day orally in 2 or 3 divided doses for 10 days
  • Azithromycin 12 mg/kg orally once daily for 5d

Joe Alton MD

American Partisan on Low-powered Variable Optics

American Partisan has a couple of recent articles on the importance of low powered  variable optics. Part I and Part II.

There is a proliferation of low powered variable optics (LPVO) across the spectrum. Military, civilian and police are all making moves in that direction. When asked why, the common response is “its magnified…duhh” or “I can PID further away”. Most however employ the LPVO like a red dot with magnification

I had heard long ago a quote (I cannot substantiate it) from Erwin Rommel. When asked what his most important weapon was, he replied “binoculars”.

Why? Seeing first, more or farther allows us to begin to make decisions and take action, earlier than the opposition. In some cases, the opposition does not even know.

While most people know the answer to why the LPVO is gaining in popularity, few understand or conceptualize the magnitude of the capability they bring to combat.

Using the suspected Erwin Rommel quote earlier. The LPVO means each rifleman can have a set of binoculars (well technically monocular). However, a tool is only good if you use it.

So, what does seeing first, more and farther actually mean.

If I have detected OPFOR before they have seen me (first) my decision making process is much different than if I walk into a drag race to the “up-drill”.

Seeing first allows me the possibility to:

-Array my forces to maximize my chances of success (ambush, occupy prominent terrain)
-Deliver organic fires (cause a casualty to limit their mobility or limit/force their decision making)
-Deliver supporting arms
-Begin to maneuver (the essence of gun fighting is maneuver, the essence of maneuver is movement under load)
-Break contact and fade away without him knowing

Or you can do any combination of the above (and more). But that first detection, is brought to you by seeing first.

Seeing more can be hard to explain in writing. If anyone has watched war footage from Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Africa. It is exceptionally rare to ever see an enemy combatant. This may be because its video. However I would wager, the guys in the videos had a hard time seeing as well. Any historical study of combat often annotates how hard it is to see the enemy. The LVPO gives us the ability to see more. Some examples:

-Modern Afghan war footage always shows the massive expanse of fields separated by 5-10m thinly packed treeline. LVPO make it significantly easier to see through one of those treelines and into the field or next treeline. Think about this both offensively and defensively

-Syria and Ukraine footage often shows soldiers engaging from deep within rooms. LVPOs allow me to see from external to internal of a room and potentially identify whats IN the ROOM not just in the window

-You are not always presented the target you want. Elbows, Knees, ankles and feet are often forgotten about when people are being sneaky. They leave these out from behind trees, walls, cars etc. This may or may not be a target, but it certainly tells you someone is there.

-If people are using cover you usually only get very small glimpses of them. At 100m I doubt I can reliably identify a guy peaking the left edge of his head out from a wall. However at 4x, I absolutely can see that. And I have a system that is easy enough to be precise with, to score that hit.

Seeing further also goes hand in hand with engaging further. Lots of shooters adopt LVPO, but then say “I’m not a sniper” or “I’m not trying to do sniper things”. Snipers primary job is usually observation. A Rifleman’s primary job is to reduce point targets with rifles… That sniper math everyone is scarred of, is easily learned and applied to 5.56 carbines using 4x or higher optics. Which means you have increased your threat ring.

Now all that said, the employment of the LPVO is a skill that needs to be trained. I have taken courses by 2 “national level” instructors and was sadly disappointed with the material.

The obvious skill that needs to be trained is marksmanship. I am not going to dive too deep into that.

The other skill (seeing first, more and further) needs to be practiced as well. The logistical problem usually encountered with this type of training is space/terrain. Its not very culturally appropriate to do this type of thing in your back yard. However some skills to sharpen this include

-Just look at treelines from 100m+ through your optic. Do not just look though. Actually see. See the stumps of each tree, identify likely firing points, identify what spots would be cover, determine how far back into the treeline you can see, make some guesstimates on what your hold and sight picture would be

-Go bird watching….with your LPVO

-Using safely UNLOADED weapons, play hide and seek or set up stalking lanes with your friends.

-Go hunting… using your LVPO

Analysis or planning of modern combat always comes down to both sides overlaying the ranges they are effective to, and what they think their enemy’s effective ranges are. The goal, is to be outside the enemy’s threat ring, while they are inside yours. Extend your threat ring and see first. For the same reason night vision and thermals are such a force multiplier, the LVPO can be also.

I will leave you with:

Look deep and in. NOT “at”

Look at it from a perspective of “where would I be”. Identify those points, prioritize, scan and move on.

Click here for Part II.

The American Mind: Coup Who?

From The American Mind comes an article on the Democrats abandonment of negotiated politics – Coup Who?

Scaremongering Democrats protest too much.

In August, two retired military officers published a piece in Defense One which literally encouraged America’s top military leadership to have the 82nd airborne to descend on Washington in the event of a disputed election and escort President Trump out of office.

“In the Constitutional crisis described above, your duty is to give unambiguous orders directing U.S. military forces to support the Constitutional transfer of power,” they write. “Should you remain silent, you will be complicit in a coup d’état.” In other words, the military must prevent a coup by staging one of their own. Thankfully, the Pentagon publicly condemned John Nagl’s and Paul Yingling’s musings.

In some regards it is unremarkable in a nation with millions of military veterans that two of them would have some kind of Clockwork Orange-style MSNBC viewing party and put crayon to paper long enough to come up with this violent fantasia. However, the problem isn’t so much that Nagl and Yingling gamed out this scenario—every election that I can remember for the last 30 years has featured fringe voices expressing concern that the current occupant will refuse to leave.

The real problem is that, for once, a respectable media outlet went ahead and published it. If anything, the Defense One op-ed was just the most explicit example of the anti-Trump coup pornography that’s become a staple of mainstream media. And when the media is not baselessly fretting Trump will refuse to leave office, they’re outrageously and falsely characterizing Trump and his administration in ways that justify his violent removal.

The Washington Post recently ran an “analysis” in the business section, quoting a bunch of academics warning that Trump was leading America into autocracy. The article ended with this kicker quote from a Swedish political scientist, Staffan I. Lindberg at Sweden’s University of Gothenburg: “‘if Trump wins this election in November, democracy is gone’ in the United States, [Lindberg] says. He gives it about two years. ‘It’s really time to wake up before it’s too late.’”

Does the Post ask Lindberg for anything not wholly impressionistic to justify his dire and specific prediction? Aside from offensive tweets and ego-driven rhetoric, has Trump done something really autocratic, like, kill American citizens without a trial? Maybe he led a charge to effectively nationalize one-seventh of the economy?

No. But such pronouncements sound awfully ominous to credulous readers. And the Post piece was comparatively restrained: the same day, Vanity Fair had historian Peter Fritzsche on its podcast to explain that the Trump campaign cares more about race than Hitler. If Trump will end American democracy in two years and is more race-obsessed than the architect of the holocaust, why wouldn’t we call out the 82nd Airborne to perp walk him down Pennsylvania Avenue?

“Stop Deposing Yourself!”

There are, of course, problems with this plan. Earlier this month, Georgetown law professor Rosa Brooks wrote about her role in a Democratic party confab where various left-leaning leaders produced a report called the the “Transition Integrity Project” that gamed out responses to various disputed election scenarios.

“A landslide for Joe Biden resulted in a relatively orderly transfer of power,” observed Brooks. “Every other scenario we looked at involved street-level violence and political crisis.” If Trump wins in a definitive landslide there’s still violence and a political crisis? After years of dishonest accusations about Russia collusion and other nonsense, should we bother to ask what responsibility Democratic party leaders and the media have to prevent violence if Trump wins in November? Or should we just accept this report’s conclusion as a way of blackmailing voters into making sure Biden wins handily?

In this context, however, Blackmail is a fairly inconsequential crime. After former Trump administration national security official Michael Anton wrote a piece in this very publication criticizing the report, Nils Gilman, a former Pentagon official and co-creator of the Transition Integrity Project suggested Anton be killed by firing squad.

Gilman is previously on record saying that after the Trump administration, America should explore the possibility of “a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, something South Africa used to confront the legacy of Apartheid in a way that enabled restorative justice.” It might be easier on everyone if Gilman merely explored the possibility of having his head examined.

Given the IMAX-level projection involved in the Transition Integrity Project, it’s unsurprising to learn their full report is obsessed with exploring coup-like scenarios. “Of particular concern is how the military would respond in the context of uncertain election results,” notes the report. But the military response is not as uncertain as people too blinkered to separate the fate of America from that of the immediate success of the Democratic party think it is.

Decades of cultural and economic stratification, not to mention a soupçon or ten of naked anti-American contempt on the Left, means that military service has become a right-leaning and regionally Southern affectation. We can say with a high degree of confidence that a majority of the active duty military voted for Trump, so it seems unlikely the 82nd Airborne is going to follow orders to remove Trump while votes are still being counted.

At the same time, it’s frankly insulting to think Republican voters in the military would blindly follow orders from Trump in the event he attempts a Fujimori-type autogolpe after an election loss, which again, there’s no evidence he’s even remotely contemplating.

The Real Conspiracy

So why keep asking the question about what the military would do? Running on a parallel track to all these stories about the need for a military coup against Trump has been an emerging narrative that Trump secretly hates the military and doesn’t care if they die. Stirring up antipathy among troops could simply be a straightforward, if dishonest, electoral strategy to peel away votes from a stolid Trump constituency, but as long as we’re handing out free passes to indulge paranoia, forgive me for thinking the relevant term of art here is “battlespace prep.” It might be helpful to drive a wedge between Trump and the military if you had, uh, “plans” for after the election.

Earlier this month, Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg got wall-to-wall media coverage for a week after his anonymously sourced story claiming Trump called dead soldiers “suckers” and “losers.” This is in spite of the fact there are now more than 20 on-the-record sources with knowledge of the events surrounding Trump’s alleged comments throwing cold water on Goldberg’s account.

And since the New York Times credulously regurgitated more anonymous intel leaks in June, we’ve been hearing about how Trump ignored reports that Russians were paying the Taliban “bounties” to kill American soldiers. Last month, an NBC news report finally gave up the ghost: “U.S. commander: Intel still hasn’t established Russia paid Taliban ‘bounties’ to kill U.S. troops.” After three months of breathless reporting, it seems there’s “a consensus view among military leaders [that] underscores the lack of certainty around a narrative that has been accepted as fact by Democrats and other Trump critics.”

Hours after NBC News’ report, Biden’s campaign was still savaging Trump for “giving Russia a pass for putting bounties on the heads of American service members” and the next day Biden held a “Veterans Roundtable” campaign event where he tried to make an issue of the Russian bounties.

To my knowledge, not a single reporter has asked Biden about reports Russians were paying bounties to the Taliban in 2010 when he was vice president, and, if those reports were accurate, why Biden mocked Mitt Romney as “one of a small group of Cold War holdovers” for saying Russia was a threat in 2012. But don’t worry, the Joe Biden of 2020 is so chastened by his previous lack of concern for the troops that, the week after his “veterans roundtable,” he’s scheduled a campaign event with Hanoi Jane Fonda, a favorite celebrity of vets everywhere.

The Opposite of Fascism

Speaking of Afghanistan, it’s also worth remembering that we’re still at war—and we have been for 19 years. When regimes enter states of permanent war, the lines between enemies foreign and domestic begin to blur. Aside from the electoral backdrop, reports of Russian bounties this summer emerged just as Trump was engaged in his latest of a number of unsuccessful efforts to withdraw American troops in Afghanistan. Coincidence?

Trump got elected explicitly promising to reduce America’s global military presence, and while you might question his efficacy, there’s no denying he’s faced powerful resistance from a military-intel-media-industrial complex that has spent the last couple of decades turning foreign entanglements into an ouroboros tied up in a Gordian knot. Perhaps there’s a right way and a wrong way to draw down in Afghanistan, but Trump’s pronounced aversion to permanent war is certainly atypical of fascist autocrats.

The truth is that Trump isn’t fascist any more than the contemporary American Left is Communist,  though that’s a more damning and instructive comparison than many realize. “To speak of [fascism] as the true political opposite of communism is to betray the most superficial understanding of modern history. In truth there is an opposite of all the ‘isms’, and that is negotiated politics, without an ‘ism’ and without a goal other than the peaceful coexistence of rivals,” wrote Roger Scruton in his indispensable guide to the ideology of the Left. If America’s Democrats, who in the last two elections have come perilously close to nominating a man who honeymooned in the Soviet Union, haven’t embraced full Communism, well, then there’s a good case they’re at least guilty of fascism’s shared sin of abandoning negotiated politics.

When peaceful coexistence is increasingly off the table, it’s worth asking where that leads us. Four years of elaborate Trump conspiracy theories—most of them involving Russia because irony is dead, dead, dead, and all of them premised on refusing to accept the results of the 2016 election—have finally made clear that there’s one key distinction between the excesses of the Right and Left worth fretting about in 2020.

“Of course there are differences,” adds Scruton. “Fascist governments have sometimes come to power by democratic election, whereas communist governments have always relied on a coup d’état.

Brushbeater: No Encryption, No Problem – Analog Radio Operations For Guerrilla Units

NC Scout at Brushbeater blog writes about communications security in No Encryption, No Problem: Analog Radio Operations For Guerrilla Units

Since I started the Brushbeater blog project back in late 2015, a constant question I’ve got in emails has been about communications security and very often how to use encryption over the radio. Back when I got into the civilian side of operational communications and I no longer had uncle sugar providing my equipment, I had all those same questions and none of the answers. Encryption and communications security is generally verboten among the old-time Ham crowd. Asking about it immediately can gain a novice the cold shoulder- it’s just one of those things that’s best left unasked, figured out on one’s own, or asked once you’ve got in the good graces of the locals (community building, anyone?). For me it was and is a creative outlet, allowing all the fun stuff I did in the Army to be a useful skill and one I teach others.

Since communications in general, like patrolling, like TC3, and like basic survival are all topics woefully misunderstood by civilians, an area as complicated as securing analog transmissions can go way over people’s heads in a hurry. It’s a different skillset than what you’re either used to seeing or doing. It requires a little understanding about radio theory, a little understanding about the planning process, along with some other skills like how to use a compass and basic awareness of your operating environment. Above all, it takes experience; you can’t just talk about it, you gotta do it. That said, we also have to recognize that the equipment we have is the equipment you’re going to be working with when things go sideways. No magic gear fairy is going to drop you a bundle of PRC-152s, much less the working knowledge to use them. So learning to use what you have in hand to its maximum capability is a heck of a lot more important than hanging out in fantasy land with stuff pushed by hobbyists.

Communications Security Begins With You, or, Encryption Won’t Save You

In a recent conversation with a friend and fellow well-seasoned vet, we brought up some of the obstacles facing would-be partisans that many preppers don’t take into account. Logistics being a HUGE one (if I burn through 500 rounds doing “supporting fire” aka just making noise, who resupplies my ammo?) but also the enablers a lot of the contemporary veteran crowd are used to having but cannot expect in the near future. NSA Type 3 AES encryption comes to mind here. We took a lot of resources for granted, especially in the commo department. We had/have an enemy who generally lacked any real electronic warfare (EW) capability, with the result being incredibly sloppy communications practices. The reliance on electronic security left a lot of the old common practices in the dust, many of which are once more very relevant today. Since about 80-90% of the prepping crowd’s electronic signal devices are limited to VHF/UHF dual band analog handhelds, you have to stop thinking in terms of simply press n’ talk if you want to even begin to be secure. The presence of a pattern of signals, even if encrypted, digital, analog or whatever, will give you away if you lack basic discipline. The saying everything that’s old is new again comes to mind, because a lot of the old hand practices developed in Vietnam for rural patrolling are the first place to begin. What was high tech for them is dirt cheap today. And the training value in their blood soaked lessons shouldn’t be lost on you.

But first, why do you need a radio? A lot of folks buy gear just for the sake of buying something. The first thing you should be asking yourself is exactly what your goal is and then work towards that instead of buying a whole bunch of something, because someone told you to, only for it not to be used. If that goal is talking with others in your group on the back forty, that’s one thing. If it’s rural patrolling, that’s another. Electronic communications, of any type, are the least secure method of communication. Messengers are the most secure. When getting started you’ve gotta figure out what it is you need to do. You might find you don’t need as much as you think; keeping it simple goes a long way. And for those of you only concerned with a homestead right now, COMSEC (communications security) is a very real issue for you whether you know it or not. A common surveillance mission for us was called “patterns of life”, where we watched a place for several days. Surveillance means everything, including the signals coming from the target, which in turn can provide a high amount of intelligence value due to shoddy practices. If you’re lazy, someone who learns a few signals intelligence techniques can not only find you very easily but listen to all your voices, get your names, know your timelines, and finally, disrupt you to the point of shutting you down, usually once they’re ready to attack. I know, I’ve done it in real life. So all of you only relying on those walmart FRS radios are very easy prey.

Contras on patrol hunting commies. Notice the handheld radio (HT) on the RPK gunner’s chest. Inter-team radios should be placed among the leaders of maneuver elements, including force multipliers such as your machine gunner / Automatic Rifleman / Support By Fire and Designated Marksman (DM).

It’s important to point out the difference between tactical communications and clandestine communications. Tactical communications require immediate action and either give short orders or brief reports and are local in nature. For preppers, these are for retreat security and short duration patrols; snoop n’ poop around the woodline to make sure nobody is waiting on us to go to sleep. The RTO Basic course focuses almost entirely on tactical communications. Clandestine communications are long term, far more in depth messages that usually use multiple layers of encoding- this is where the One Time Pads come in– and are sent to cells working over a region. These are referred to as cables in the intelligence field. Numbers stations come to mind, and that’s a whole other conversation entirely…(continues)

The Trumpet: The Death and Rebirth of America’s Cities

A looter carrying boxes of shoes runs past National Guard soldiers and bystanders in Hollywood on June 1. Anthony Kwan/Getty Images Our celebrated cities are succumbing to decay and violence. But an inspiring resurrection awaits.

From The Trumpet, The Death and Rebirth of America’s Cities

t has been a rough year for America’s cities. Their residents have been locked in their apartments for fear of coronavirus. Their attractions, offices, restaurants and stores have been evacuated. Their wealth has bled out because of ailing economic life, lost jobs and dwindling tax revenue.

Worse, their streets have choked with violent mobs vandalizing monuments, smashing storefronts, looting businesses, burning public buildings. Their law enforcement has been bridled by politicians more sympathetic to criminals than to law-keepers. Their protectors are being disrespected, disparaged and defunded, giving their enemies more license, more space to destroy. Their people are suffering rising rates of violent crime, including murder.

Yet these troubling recent events only aggravated a trend that has been wounding the nation’s crowning cities for years, even decades.

Legacy cities like Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, St. Louis and Buffalo have fallen from glittering heights of America’s industrial power. Shifts in the nation’s economy have cost hundreds of thousands of jobs and a loss of wealth. This has been exacerbated by race problems, “white flight,” cutbacks in law enforcement, and escalating crime. These factors have hollowed out many an American metropolis, leaving impoverished slums, empty buildings and decaying infrastructure.

In more recent years, failed welfare policies and lax law enforcement have turned cities into sanctuaries for homelessness, makeshift tent cities, drugs on the streets, garbage and filth, illegal immigration and criminality. Investigative reports have detailed how these problems are afflicting San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and other celebrated cities. Citizens are disgusted with their beloved cities being overtaken by trash, overpopulated by wastrels living off government largess, and overwhelmed by problems caused by bad governance.

All these crises have intensified this year. Animated by the twin specters of pandemic and race revolution, they are overtaking more and more of the nation’s urban landscape.

The effects of these trends will be far-reaching and disturbing, affecting not just city-dwellers, but every American.

Changing City Demography

covid-19 has made population density a bad word. In areas where protests have turned destructive, a cascade of aftereffects are pummeling city-dwellers: jobs lost; stores destroyed and shut down; business costs skyrocketing as insurance premiums soar. And in far too many places, mayors and governors are encouraging these curses. They are shuttering companies in the name of public safety. They are permitting, even applauding, marches and mayhem. And in the vacuum left by their failed leadership, revolutionaries are growing more bold, brazen, aggressive and ambitious.

“Urban dwellers are resilient, but these simultaneous events have forced people to face a hard reality,” wrote Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal. “In just three months it has become clear that modern urban progressivism is politically incompetent and intellectually incoherent. … The message being sent is that progressive governance is, at best, ambivalent about maintaining civil order. The net result the past three months has been a sense in many cities of irresolvable chaos, stress and threat.”

At the same time that city life is becoming more unpleasant, virus restrictions are forcing much of life online. Schools nationwide are shifting to distance learning, and businesses are asking people to work from home. Social distancing restrictions and reduced foot traffic mean that costly big-city office space or storefront makes less and less economic sense. Consumers were already buying more and more online; this accelerates the trend. And many analysts are convinced some decentralization in the workforce is likely permanent.

The cost-benefit analysis is convincing many city folk to make a move. If you’re working remotely anyway, why pay big-city rent? And social distancing is far easier in suburbia, or in the country.

In San Francisco and Manhattan, when covid hit, many people left. Vacancies rose; home prices and rental rates dropped. Home sales in the suburbs around New York City soared, with many well-off city residents buying properties sight unseen based off Internet ads. The New York Times reported a 44 percent increase in home sales in nearby suburban counties in July compared to the previous year; 73 percent in a county just over the state line into Connecticut; 112 percent in Westchester, just north of the city. Meanwhile, the number of properties sold in Manhattan plunged 56 percent.

Nationwide, home mortgage applications are up 33 percent compared to last year, and are still rising. credits this to more Americans working remotely, and more families doing school from home and thus needing more space.

The people escaping the cities are people of means. Thus the concentration of impoverished people with no other options is growing. This at the same time that jobs are drying up, businesses are vacating, properties are being destroyed, law enforcement is pulling back, and crime is rising.

This is casting a pall over the future of America’s cities. And illuminating some of the most chilling end-time prophecies of the Bible.

The Bible foretells scenarios about America’s cities so nightmarish, some are difficult to conceive. But these recent destructive trends definitely make these prophecies far easier to imagine.

The Prophesied Fate of Cities

Many of the prophecies in the book of Isaiah are for our day, this period concluding man’s rule on Earth. Of the modern nations descended from ancient Israel—most prominently America—Isaiah foretells this: “[Y]e will revolt more and more …. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores …. Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers” (Isaiah 1:5-7).

America has witnessed the ghastly fulfillment of this prophecy, scenes of cities burning terribly at the hand of lawless people who seek to dismantle the American system. Crowds of protesters have chanted “Death to America”—echoing Islamists on the streets of Iran!

But this is only the outer edges of the destruction to come. Several prophecies describe a coming time of “great tribulation” worse than any in history (Matthew 24:21). This is God’s terrible punishment for modern-day Israel’s rebellion.

Like Isaiah 1:7, these prophecies describing the coming tribulation place unusual emphasis on what happens in the cities. They show that cities will be hit first—and in some ways hit hardest. And a great many of the problems will be curses we bring on ourselves. This lamentable reality is foreshadowed in the way we are behaving and treating each other in our cities even today…(continues)

Off Grid Ham: Discussing Vertical And Wire Antennas

Here’s an article from Chris Warren of Off Grid Ham, writing about options for DIY antennas – Discussing Vertical And Wire Antennas

A topic so deep and wide.

I messing around with you. There is no such thing as an antenna specifically for off grid radio. But since off grid amateurs tend to be practical, do-it-yourself types, some vertical and wire antennas are more more appealing than others. What are the options, and how well do they work? We can’t possibly cover everything in one article, but we’ll go over the most popular types of antennas for off grid hams and talk about the function of each of them. vertical and wire antennas

Two basic flavors. vertical and wire antennas

There are two basic types of antennas for off grid radio: Vertical and wire. Yes, I am aware that there are many others: Beams, loops, etc. But remember we’re trying to keep it simple, practical, and relevant. A vast majority of hams end up using either a vertical or a wire antenna.

The reasons why are clear. These antennas are easy and inexpensive to build, and (for the most part) really do work. Think about all the advancements in technology. Radios have gone from massive tube farms to computerized communications centers with color displays and features that would have been Star Trek-ish just ten or twelve years ago! But at the other end of the coax, antennas have not fundamentally changed over the entire history of radio. You can compare a 50 year old ARRL Antenna Book to a 2020 edition and find nearly the same content in each of them. vertical and wire antennas

About the ARRL Antenna Book. vertical and wire antennas

It would be worth your while to own a print copy of the ARRL Antenna Book. It can be very technical and deep, maybe more than what the average ham is willing to digest, but wow, what a wealth of information. When you need to answer an obscure antenna question or look up a way-out-there math equation, the Antenna Book will come through. New copies can be quite expensive. I suggest buying an older used edition for a fraction of the cost. It doesn’t really matter because the information essentially never changes. My personal Antenna Book is nine years old and I have no plans to update it.

I don’t have a real high opinion of ARRL books in general, but the Antenna Book is an exception. It’s stellar. Every ham should own one.

The vertical antenna.

My very first antenna was a vertical, a Hy-Gain 14AVQ to be exact. I bought it used because, well, when you’re fourteen years old cobbling birthday & odd job money together for radio gear, that’s how you roll. The 14AVQ has been in production since at least the 1970s and is still available on the market today. I had a blast with that antenna and made many solid contacts on it. vertical and wire antennas

Vertical antennas offer an omnidirectional signal pattern, take up very little space, and are easy to install. They do not necessarily require support structures such as trees and buildings (I mounted my 14AVQ to a pipe pounded into the ground). Functionally they have a low angle of radiation, which is favorable to DX. There is also some evidence that vertically polarized antennas are better for short range (ground wave) communications.

The cons of vertical antennas. vertical and wire antennas

On the negative side, vertical antennas are harder to home-build and tune compared to wire antennas. Complicating that, commercially made verticals can be expensive. The Hy-Gain 14AVQ of my youth sells new for about $230.00. That’s a lot of money for what is essentially just an aluminum pole with some coils in it. The research & development costs, which I acknowledge can be very high, were amortized off the books decades ago. With that debt long paid off, the 14AVQ represents huge profit center for the manufacturer. This pattern can be repeated for almost any commercially made vertical antenna. Once the R&D costs are recovered, these antennas are basically money presses for the manufacturers.

Lastly, vertical antennas usually require ground radials. Where will you put them? If your antenna is mounted at ground level, you can just bury them in the dirt. Roof mounted verticals may be more tricky. There is no absolute rule for how many ground radials are needed, but more is better.

Wire antennas.

vertical and wire antennas


There is little to dislike about wire antennas. They can be easily made from materials most hams already have around the shop. Wire antennas done right really do work! The dipole is the “Mother antenna,” the antenna all others are based on. Wire antennas can be bent and shaped to fit your space. If you have to bend or droop a wire, it’s generally not a problem. Horizontal wire antennas also have a low angle of radiation, but it is dependent on elevation from the ground. This is why amateurs interested primarily in NVIS communications should not mount their wire antennas more than 30-50 feet up. There is such a thing as “too high”.

The bad news.

Wire antennas have two main disadvantages. First, they usually require two or more support structures. For a fixed station, this means having buildings or trees in the right places to hold your antennas up. For portable use, it means picking a site with trees or other tie points, or bringing a support system with you. By the way, many public parks prohibit affixing anything to natural features, even temporarily. Be respectful and verify what you’re allowed to do before you start tossing wire up in the trees.

Although wire antennas can sometimes be bent and shaped to fit a defined space, doing so may affect performance. Antennas are designed to be a certain shape for a reason. Anything that messes with the physics of an antenna is going to change the way it works. Changing the original shape of a wire antenna does not necessarily degrade performance, but it may result in a situation not favorable to your operating needs, such as when the radiation pattern is altered. Many hams have no choice and must do some antenna gymnastics to make their stations work. Although imperfect, these alterations are usually tolerable.

What about store-bought wire antennas?

I generally advise against buying commercially-made wire antennas. They do work well, but with a few exceptions they are not a good value for the money. One well known company is offering a portable “tactical dipole” for $400.00. Granted, it’s very well planned with a slick carry case and other handy features, but in the end it’s still just a dipole. A four-hundred dollar dipole! This illustrates a trend in the prepper/survivalist community where including the word “tactical” in a product name makes that product cost 3-5 times as much as it should.

The “Hail Mary” random wire antenna.

Wire antennas have one more big plus. A “Hail Mary” antenna can be any available length of wire. In more formal language, they’re called random wire antennas and they are exactly what the name implies. In an emergency, you can literally toss a random length of wire out the window, correct it to 50 ohms as best you can with an antenna tuner, and go. It won’t be very efficient, but you will get a signal out.

I have a random wire antenna as part of my go-kit. It works surprisingly well with my 5 watt FT-817. It would never be my first choice, but I’d be very happy to have it as a last choice.

Resources. has this amazing wire antenna reference that lists nearly 400 different wire antennas and diagrams on how to make them. Some of the designs are kind of way out there and I’m not sure they would work, but experimenting is part of the fun. The website cuts out complicated math and lengthy explanations; it just gives short & simple recipes on how to make some great antennas.

WA2OOO has a very cool calculator to determine the size of several popular wire antennas.

Mises Wire: Stop Blaming Classical Liberalism for the Problems of Human Nature

This article from Zachary Yost at the Mises Institute talks about the confusing plethora of definitions in common use for liberalism – Stop Blaming Classical Liberalism for the Problems of Human Nature

In a recent essay at the new online conservative magazine IM-1776, writer Alex Kaschuta argues that the contemporary world is under “The Heavy Chains of Liberalism” that have, in her mind, destroyed humane life, abolished tradition, and left atomized individuals increasingly “free” from all social and personal restraint. These complaints are nothing new, and some of the problems she points to are all too real, however, her broadside attack against liberalism misses the mark on nearly every front.

For one thing, like many labels in use today, the word liberal has become so broad that its use encompasses many divergent streams of thought and bulldozes over important differences and nuances. Libertarians and classical liberals are intimately familiar with this problem, having adopted those labels as a means to try and deal with the bastardization of the term liberal.

In his most recent book, The Great Delusion, John Mearsheimer divides liberalism into two diverse schools of thought that are often at odds with one another. On the one hand, he identifies modus vivendi liberalism, which is largely focused on individual negative rights and is primarily concerned with state intrusion into life, and on the other hand, he identifies progressive liberalism which is much more concerned with positive rights and social engineering. Most notably, progressive liberalism is intimately connected to crusading schemes to remake the world in its universalist image. Modus vivendi liberalism, which Mearsheimer has identified with F.A. Hayek, lacks this universalist crusading impulse.

However, like many today, Kaschuta paints with a broad brush and conceives of only one liberalism in the mold of John Stuart Mill, who, she argues, “asserted that freedom lies in elevating choice and leaving aside burdensome custom, that the only way to be truly free is to unshackle yourself from the bonds of social mores, into ever freer choice.”

To be sure, there are libertarians who seem to identify maximalized individual choice and therefore control over every aspect of human existence as being the core of libertarianism. For instance, consider this line from Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch’s 2008 Reason essay “The Libertarian Moment“: “We are in fact living at the cusp of what should be called the Libertarian Moment, the dawning not of some fabled, clichéd, and loosey-goosey Age of Aquarius but a time of increasingly hyper-individualized, hyper-expanded choice over every aspect of our lives.”

It is certainly questionable to what extent such a focus on “hyperindividualism” belongs in the modus vivendi camp.

In contrast, a Misesian conception of liberalism is hardly focused on the destruction of social mores and tradition. Rather, in Mises’s words, “the program of liberalism…if condensed into a single word, would have to read property, that is, private ownership of the means of production”. Not only is this a different emphasis than maximum individual choice in every sphere of life, but Mises actually attacks Mill as “the originator of the thoughtless confounding of liberal and socialist ideas that led to the decline of English liberalism and to the undermining of the living standards of the English people…Mill is the great advocate of socialism.”

Hayek’s work is also absent of this Millian impulse, and in fact, directly contradicts it on many occasions by defending the idea of tradition as being the result of an evolutionary process of trial and error that should not just be casually tossed aside by those who “cannot conceive of anything serving a human purpose that has not been consciously designed” and in fact calls such people “almost of necessity enemies of freedom.”

Unlike many illiberals, Kaschuta recognizes that “the market works, and it has been nothing short of miraculous.” However, she proceeds to blame the market for “the despoiling of the planet, the destruction of local communities, and boom and bust cycles of ever-increasing intensity.” Whatever criticisms one might have about a free-market system, these are not very good ones.

There is no shortage of data showing that liberal societies, with their emphasis on property rights, lead to better environmental outcomes. And one need only look at the history of the Soviet Union, which nearly completely eliminated the Aral Sea, and slaughtered tens of thousands of whales for no purpose at all, to see how well a non-market-based economic system cares for the environment.

Similarly, blaming the free market system for the decline of community also misses the mark. There are many reasons why community and civil society have decayed, but as the work of sociologists Frank Tannenbaum and Robert Nisbet demonstrate, one of the primary reasons is the centralizing power of the state that seeks to undermine any rivals for social power. This can hardly be blamed on modus vivendi–style liberalism.

Finally, Kaschuta’s claim that the market naturally leads to boom and bust economic cycles ignores the entirety of Austrian Business Cycle theory that argues that rather than being the natural product of market forces, such business cycles are the result of malinvestment created by central bank monetary policy.

Kaschuta raises many salient points when she complains about modern man being “freed” from all restraint, but she misses the mark in placing all of the blame for this unmooring on the shoulders of liberalism. History is full of similar periods in societies across the globe where there was a collective loss of self-restraint. These epochs are not indicative of the “chains” of liberalism, but the shackles of human nature that no earthly ideology can hope to ever cast off. Human nature is what it is.

Liberalism will not solve human nature, but in the tradition of Mises and Hayek it can help to establish a social system in which humans can live peacefully with material prosperity. That is such a rare accomplishment in human history that its critics should exercise more caution before dispatching it to the dustbin of history.

Six Figures Under: What We Learned from Our Quarantine Food Storage Challenge

Stephanie at Six Figures Under has an article about What We Learned from Our Quarantine Food Storage Challenge during the first few months of the pandemic.

After three months of eating from our pantry, freezer, and long-term food storage, our Quarantine Food Storage Challenge is coming to an end.  Today I’m sharing some of what we learned. Hopefully something will be helpful to you as you plan to be more prepared with your own food.

First we’ll cover the three reasons we decided to end our open-ended challenge now. Then I’ll go over lessons we learned and what we plan to do about it!

For those of you who look forward to these updates, this won’t be the end of talking about food storage!  In the coming weeks, I will take the focus off MY food storage and start talking about YOUR food storage (how to get started, what to store, how much to store, how to keep track, how to use it).

As I’ve started reading through hundreds of responses in the 2020 Six Figures Under Reader Survey, I see that many of you are interested in building up your own food storage and would like some guidance.  (If you haven’t shared your thoughts, I would really love if you would take a couple of minutes to complete the survey).

Why we are ending our food storage challenge

When we started our challenge, we weren’t sure how long it would last.  I know some of you will be surprised or disappointed that we’re concluding it now, and I want to explain why we are deciding to go back to grocery shopping.  Essentially it’s because we accomplished what we set out to do. Let me break that down into specifics.

The primary reason we started the challenge was to keep ourselves and others safe by not going to the grocery store during the pandemic.  At the outset of this, there wasn’t a full understanding of how this novel coronavirus was transmitted.  Now that we have a better understanding, we feel like occasional trips to the grocery store are generally safe. Thankfully the outbreak in our area hasn’t been too terrible.

The secondary reason for undertaking a food storage challenge was to give our food storage a test drive.  While we have stored food for years, we really didn’t have a grasp of how much we would really need and what things we would wish we had more of.  We’ve figured a lot of those details out as we have monitored what we have used during the last three months challenge of not grocery shopping.  Now we have a better idea of what and how much we should store for our family.

The third reason for ending our food storage challenge now, rather than continuing the challenge indefinitely, is so we can make the effort to restock and update our food storage.  The future is uncertain in many ways, including potential continued disruptions in the food supply chain, so while we have the ability to stock up, we want to do so. You will see us implementing changes to our food storage in the near future.

What we learned from eating from our food storage challenge

How much food storage our family needs

As I’ve learned about food storage from a “scholarly” perspective, I learned how many pounds of this or that that you need per person for a certain length of time, but I had no idea how that would play out in real life. The suggested amount of 150 lb of wheat per person age 8+ (and half that for kids under 8) for a year supply doesn’t come with a menu or even a recipe book.

I had no idea if this was a low ball or high ball estimate.  I wasn’t sure if that was a “keep us alive” amount or a “life as usual” amount.  That’s about 12.5 lb per person per month.

Our family has 5 people age 8+ and 2 people under age 8 (I’m not including the baby in this count).  With that estimate, we would use 75 lb of wheat in a month.

I would have to say that estimate is nearly spot on.  We ate about 80 lb of wheat per month during our challenge.  Essentially that was just used for bread, pancakes, waffles, and other baked goods.

I’m still working on recording everything in our spreadsheet so we can calculate our own family’s consumption rate and create a customized food storage plan just for us.

What surprised us

If you followed along with our weekly updates during the challenge, you may remember that in the beginning I was having a little panic attack about some essentials that I thought we were low on like yeast, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa, salt, and oil.

In the beginning we had no idea how long the quarantine/lockdown phase would last and what shortages there would be.  We didn’t know how long we would choose to continue our challenge or if at some point it would no longer be our choice.  Either way, I wanted to be prepared, so I purchased some of these staples online.

As it turned out, I haven’t opened the 5 lb bag of yeast.  We have used only about a pound and a half of yeast in the past 3 months.  That is partly due to reducing the yeast in all of our recipes by half (with no problems).

We also haven’t had to open the 5 lb bags of baking soda or baking powder!

Of the 4 gallons of oil that I bought at the beginning of the challenge (knowing that they were essential for all of the baking I would be doing), I still have 3 left.

What we NEED to stock more of

We are probably good on wheat, powdered milk, beans, applesauce, etc, but there are some areas where our food storage is lacking. We’ll use a one-year supply as a measuring stick because that’s how many food storage recommendations are made. Feel free to divide by four if you want to build up to a 3-month supply or divide by two for a 6-month supply.

Salt– Salt is such a simple ingredient, but it’s essential!  It’s literally the cheapest food storage item out there.  And we didn’t have enough stored.  In fact, we were nearly out!  Right at the beginning of the challenge, I bought a few packages of salt from Walmart. Otherwise we would have been completely out!  That’s embarrassing!  For a year supply, it’s recommended that you store 8 lbs per person (that’s 4 regular salt containers per person).

Oil– We used just under 1 gallon of oil per month.  That means we would need roughly 12 gallons for a year supply.  This is one of those things you don’t just buy and tuck away for a disaster. It’s important to rotate through your stored oil or it will eventually go rancid.

Sugar– It’s recommended to store 60 pounds of sugar (in some form) per person for a year’s supply.  We don’t have anywhere near that, so this is definitely an area for us to work on going forward.

Oats– Oats are a major staple for us, but we haven’t stocked up for a while so we were low when the challenge started.  My MIL gave us a 25 lb bag of oats that she had, which is what we’re currently eating.

Rice– We didn’t run out of rice, but we are low and don’t have anywhere near what we would need for a year supply.

Pasta– We generally eat a lot of pasta. It’s fast, easy, and everyone likes it. We had quite a bit on hand at the beginning of our challenge, but we would have run out during the second month if we weren’t being careful with it. Of course, with an abundance of wheat and eggs, we could decide to make our own pasta, but while that would be delicious, it would no longer be fast and easy.

Peanut butter- We typically buy peanut butter for about two months at a time, but we definitely need to store more.  Peanut butter an jelly sandwiches are a staple in this house!  As long as we rotate through what we have, there won’t be a problem with spoilage or waste.

Jam/Jelly– As an important ingredient in PBJs, we need to store more jam!  In the past when we’ve had easy access to free blackberries, we’ve made loads of our own jam.  It’s been a while since we’ve made jam in large quantities, so we’ve been buying it.  We have both blackberries and raspberries growing on our property now, so hopefully we can get back into making our own jam.

Cocoa Powder– We have around 10 lb, but we need more for a long-term supply. And yes, cocoa powder is an essential storage ingredient for us!

What we WANT to stock more of

Some of the things we want to stock more of in our food storage are:

Cheese– Over the next few months, we’re planning to store more cheese.  We’ll keep a reserve in the freezer and rotate through it.  By no means will it be a year supply, but if we need to live strictly off our food storage again we can ration it.  During this challenge we stretched about 5 lb of cheese to last for two and a half months, which, for a family with cheese habits like us, is impressive.

Butter– Butter is our fat of choice when it comes to baking and cooking, but throughout this challenge we had to rely on alternatives like canola oil and shortening because we only had 5 lbs of butter in the freezer at the outset of this challenge.  We actually still have a pound of butter left because we were being careful to ration it. Like cheese, I plan to store more in the freezer.

Raisins– We eat a lot of oatmeal, cream of wheat, and other hot breakfast cereals and raisins are a favorite add-in.  We should definitely store more of them!

Chocolate Chips– For baking and for mom snacks when there isn’t anything else sweet around.

Salsa– We are fortunate to have hens that keep us well stocked up in eggs (at least in the warm months).  We love having salsa to make fried eggs more exciting.

This obviously doesn’t include the normal everyday staples that we’ll be buying when we go back to the store next week like milk, sour cream, tortillas, chicken, ground beef, or pork (if it’s available and not crazy expensive), lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, celery, strawberries, apples, bananas, and other fresh produce.

Other things we learned during the food storage challenge

Understanding  the practical implications of eating from our food storage has been very valuable and will help so much as we go forward.  But a clearer picture of how long our food storage will actually last isn’t the only good thing that came from this challenge.  Here are a few other things we learned (or re-learned).

Eat all leftovers so nothing is wasted

We’ve always been pretty good about eating leftovers and not letting them go to waste, but during this challenge we were especially conscious of not wasting food.  Our food supply felt more finite that it normally does since we weren’t shopping to replenish it.  That made us more aware of not wasting any food.

Don’t overeat just because something tastes good

Another way to waste food is to overeat.  We don’t usually think of overeating as wasting food, but that’s really what it is. Mike and I were careful to stop eating when we were full instead of continuing to eat just because something was tasty.

Try new things

We took advantage of the extra time during quarantine to experiment and try making and eating new things. A lot of you thought it was funny that I had bever made split pea soup before.  Well now we’ve had it several times and really like it!  We’ve made tortillas from scratch.  We learned a few ways to make cheese.  And now that the older kids can make bread by themselves, we’ve been enjoying delicious homemade bread even though I haven’t made any for the last month!

Whew!  That was a lot!  Thanks for sticking with me!

Like I said, next week I will take the focus off MY food storage and start talking about YOUR food storage.  I’m excited to help you get started on or improve your food storage situation.  Let me know if there’s anything specific you want me to make sure to cover!

Zero Hedge: We Live More And More In A World In Which Facts No Longer Matter

Michael Every of Rabobank writes this short article at Zero Hedge – We Live More And More In A World In Which Facts No Longer Matter. In the article, Every mostly talks about politics, but the concept has farther reaching implications in our society. My spouse and I have discussed it frequently during this pandemic; one of the reasons that people are so divided about various issues, including pandemic responses, is because they can pick their “facts.” We have an education system that has been so bad for so long that few people are capable of understanding even simpler scientific journal articles. Not all journal articles are equal. Some are filled with bad science, bad math, bad statistics, and/or bad methodologies. So when one study says that X is bad, and another says Y is good, people simply choose the answer they prefer.

The same is true for news articles. On the internet, you can find sources espousing just about any position on any issue, so it’s easy for people to take any position and point to those voices as proof that their belief is true. It fuels divisiveness because the different sides of an issue all believe that the facts are on their side and are incapable of objectively evaluating the underlying assumptions and information. Every debate becomes a holy war because every belief is taken on faith rather than reason.

The fix for that problem is broader education (education, not necessarily schooling) which encompasses science, mathematics, statistics, philosophy, etc. That’s a difficult change to make, and, as we know, those in power will not take the difficult road when a superficial attempt which also increases their own power will suffice. Instead of education reform, you get people calling for shutting down all of those different voices so that only the approved messages get through. Those approved messages aren’t necessarily the truthful ones, they’re the ones that support those in power.

Day by day, we live more and more in a world in which facts no longer matter. Social media, a bitterly-bipartisan mainstream media, and socio-economic and cultural polarization all mean we can inhabit the world of facts we find most comfortable and convenient. Indeed, as the economy becomes more Dickensian in terms of income and wealth equality it also becomes more *literally* Dickensian:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

And that’s just the US Vice-Presidential debate from last night, which offered up generous helpings of political pound(ing)s, shillings, and (Mike) Pence. Which for those who don’t know, was the old British Imperial money system until 1971 when, as my late grandmother referred to it, the UK joined the “decimal diddle dum dee club”. And one wonders how people ever wondered how Brexit could happen…

Of course, the VP debate also saw vast quantities of question-dodging over key issues, or answers that seemed to be to entirely different questions – to no response from the moderator-bot, which only seemed to be programmed to worry if people over-ran, rather than running over facts. It was still a vast improvement last week, however, in that there was actually some debate in it.

Who ‘won’? See the various polls from different sides of the political aisle: CNN said Harris 59% – 38%; Telemundo said Pence 76% – 24%. But the key point is that nowadays whomever *you* like won – after all, it is the ‘epoch of belief’. Likewise, whomever *you* like is comfortably winning the election. That is the meme both sides can cling to until 3 November. (And then, political risk analysts fear, it may be time for either loser to embrace a conspiracy theory as to why they didn’t actually lose.) Yet if we wanted to pretend actual facts mattered for a fleeting moment, the key question would be which side’s base feels more enthused after having sat through the VP debate: who got more policy red (or blue) meat thrown their way?

Talking of the (overdone) red meat side of things, the Heavenly side (as shall be explained), the conspiracy-theory side, and the ‘best of times, worst of times’ side, yet again we also see a Tweet from Trump trumping other news. Trump announced he believes the drug he was treated with is a “cure”; more important than the vaccine (which is coming “very, very shortly….right after the election”); and Regeneron will be shortly be freely available *and free* to those who need it. Indeed, Trump said he wants everybody to be given the same treatment he got without payment as “It wasn’t your fault…, it was China’s fault, and China is going to pay a big price.”

Is that related to the Bloomberg story yesterday talking about a possible looming US crackdown on Tencent and Ant Financial to stop China expanding its digital payments platforms? Or is it related to Mike Pompeo busily trying to form an Asian version of NATO? Or is it something else equally world-splitting if carried out in full?

Another good question that wasn’t asked at all at the VP debate that happened after that Trump video: is free Regeneron socialised medicine? The media aren’t asking either, instead running with the Trumpian phrase it was “a blessing from God” he caught Covid-19 (which he instantly qualified to “a blessing in disguise,” which itself is disguised in all those exegesis-esque headlines).

Meanwhile, preceding both the VP debate and the Trump video we had the FOMC minutes, a body which has played as large a role in our drift into all forms of Dickensianism as anyone. As Philip Marey notes, these represent “The quiet before the storm”. In particular, he points out that the minutes revealed quite some disagreement within the FOMC regarding the forward guidance on rates: a Dickensian dichotomy, one might say. As long as we are in a pandemic environment this may not matter very much. However, he believes that “by the time we get closer to the exit, the practice of flexible average inflation targeting may become a cacophony”. There’s something to look forward to.

The minutes also showed that the economic outlook (and thus the FOMC’s projections) assumed additional fiscal support, and that if future fiscal support was significantly smaller or arrived later than expected the FOMC thinks the pace of the recovery could be slower than anticipated. “Send more money now,” in short. This could still happen before the election in one form or another, even if Larry Kudlow isn’t in the loop. After all, if you are giving away Regeneron free now, why not?

Philip concludes that several headwinds are converging in Q4 that could upset the economic recovery, and that the next time the Fed meets will be in the stormy environment after Election Day.  

The Fed, meanwhile, will continue to try to send us the message that ends the book whose long opening line I have already quoted: “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”(**Spoiler alert** – that particular guy gets his head cut off in a revolution.)

Which is what Nicola Sturgeon must be thinking of as she closes down central Scotland’s pubs (and restaurants) for over two weeks(?)

Rutherford Institute: Case of Student Arrested for Disorderly Conduct for Distributing Religious Literature in a Free Speech Zone Goes Before Supreme Court

In 2016 a Georgia Gwinett College student was arrested for distributing religious literature from a designated free speech zone because someone had complained about his speech. He sued the university and the case was eventually dismissed because the College said that it had changed its free speech zone rules. The student appealed to the Supreme Court. Here is an update from the Rutherford Institute which recently filed an amicus brief in the case.

The Rutherford Institute has weighed in before the U.S. Supreme Court on a case in which campus police, citing “disorderly conduct,” prevented a college student from speaking about his Christian faith and distributing religious literature from a small free speech zone on a 260-acre campus. In an amicus brief filed in Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski, Rutherford Institute attorneys are asking the Supreme Court to hold officials at Georgia Gwinnett College liable for violating college student Chike Uzuegbunam’s free speech rights and ensure that campus policies adhere to the First Amendment…

“This case reminds us that there is no room for trust in the relationship between the citizenry and the government,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People. “Trust the government to police itself, and it will sidestep the law at every turn. The only way to ensure that government officials obey the law and respect the rights of the citizenry, as Thomas Jefferson recognized, is to bind them with ‘the chains of the Constitution.’”

Chike Uzuegbunam is a Christian and was a student at Georgia Gwinnett College, which has a 260-acre campus in Lawrenceville, Ga. Chike’s faith requires that he share his religious beliefs with others. He sought to do so in 2016 by passing out literature and speaking to students from a spacious concrete plaza near the college’s library. A campus security officer stopped him and warned that Chike could not distribute written materials there because he was not in one of two “speech zones” the college had established. Under the college’s policies, students were required to reserve times for one of the two “speech zones,” which consisted of one patio and one sidewalk that amounted to 0.0015% of total area of the campus. The policies also required students apply for a reservation at least three days in advance and gave college officials unbridled discretion to decide who could speak, when they could speak, and what materials they could give out. Although Chike properly reserved a time for sharing his faith from one of the zones, he was again stopped from speaking by a campus security officer. The officer told him that because someone had complained about his speech, he was engaged in “disorderly conduct” under college policies. Chike then brought a lawsuit against the college alleging that its policies and their application to prevent him from engaging in religious speech violated the First Amendment. After months of litigation, the college moved to dismiss the case as moot because it had changed its “speech zone” policies and the trial court granted the motion. Chike appealed, arguing his case was not moot because he was entitled to nominal damages for the interference with his First Amendment rights, but the appeals court upheld the dismissal. Chike sought and was granted review by the U.S. Supreme Court. In its amicus brief supporting Chike, The Rutherford Institute argues that dismissal of the lawsuit violates long-established court precedent affirming the right of citizens to obtain an award of nominal damages against the government officials when they violate a person’s constitutional rights. 

The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties organization, defends individuals whose constitutional rights have been violated and educates the public about threats to their freedoms.

American Partisan: Three Avenues Of Approach – Baofeng’s BF-R3

NC Scout at American Partisan has a brief article on the inexpensive Chinese radio Baofeng BF-R3 and its increased utility over the UV5R model. Besides signal intelligence value, having a third band can make a difference operationally as well. In an RTO class that I attended, we found that one of the bands did not work reliability in the terrain and among the structures where we were operating, but switching to the alternate band worked fine.

As I tell students in the the RTO and Signals Intelligence Courses, its not necessarily what can be monitored (everything has the capacity to be monitored) but rather, how your adversary can exploit it. This in turn points to the criticality of the ability to plan and act based on that plan. And often enough, the difficulty lay not just in detecting an adversary to monitor, which can be hard enough, but taking that a step further into implementing tools that are outside his capabilities.

In the last RTO Course out West, a couple of the students had brought in a new model of Baofeng- a triband model called the BF-R3– a tri-band radio that matches all of the functions of the old UV-5R but with an additional spread of transmitting capability on 220-260mHz. This enables users a whole third option for receiving and transmitting in a vastly under-utilized frequency spread.

It is backwards compatible with all of the standard Baofeng UV-5R cables, batteries and accessories, including my favorite, the H-250 dogbone mic. On top of that, its fully Chirp supported for all of you that use that software. At about the same price as the standard two band Baofeng but with expanded capabilities, its hard to see why you wouldn’t want to have a few.

Get ’em while you can and while you’re at it, come get training on using it in a tactical environment. Might be important here soon.