Showing posts with label government. Show all posts
Showing posts with label government. Show all posts

Monday, July 21, 2014

RE: Military Vehicles on Roads.

Got a comment to yesterdays post that seemed worth addressing here. My replies are in italics


 Yogi Berra was famous for his highly intellectual quotes, one of which was "You can see a lot just by looking around."I'm all for looking around. Anonymous is right on

How many convoy serials have you bloggers commanded?

I am in Officer in the US Army. Enough to know what I am talking about. 

DOD Regulations require convoy serials to be marked clearly with signs "Convoy ahead" and other safety related equipment to conform to State and Federal Transportation regulations. (not just wide load banners with no escort.)

Every time I have done a convoy we have the stupid Convoy signs.  As to other safety gear we have all sorts of stuff but  I am not sure what you are talking about or how it relates to the conversation we are having.

Military Vehicles in CONUS must have their unit stenciled on the front and rear bumpers for easy ID with convoy serials written in chalk that is why they are referred to as chalks when they are assembled for deployment. Mainly so the MPs can write them a ticket for speeding.

Typically I have seen unit info spray painted with stencils on vehicles but 1) the exact locations vary and 2) While customary I would be interested in seeing the exact, current, regulation that specifically says that is required. 


The video was poor quality but it is clear to this old guardsman that it was not a Guard unit heading for AT or crew eval and qual.

Don't know where you are going here at all. 


It appears to be an RA road trip but it isn't headed for the border with Mexico.

What?Don't know where this is going man.


The key question is are the really knowledgeable people always vigilant?

 This is an interesting point. If you saw a bunch of vehicles loaded up with ammo boxes and live rounds fed into their crew served weapons in blocking positions on dominant terrain at key intersections one could justifiably go to condition red. On the other hand some guys driving by from here to there is almost surely nothing.

I don't have a tinfoil hat but may get one if this S#@* keeps up.

What S*&T? What specifically is the US Military doing that is giving you concern? If you were worried about the general state of our government or some federal law enforcement agency that might be a different discussion. 


I'm curious though as to where they came from and where they went? The truckers would know.
My 8 year old grandson would have asked them where they were headed at the Rest Stop when they had to take a pee and then quizzed them about how their equipment stacks up against Bradleys, BTRs, BMPs and Barretts.

Soldiers, much to their leaders disappointment have almost 0 awareness of operational security. Honestly if you ask and are not a complete dick they will probably tell you exactly where they came from, where they are going and what they are doing. 


Are these strikers part of the Ready Brigades brought back from Iraq and deployed through out the U.S.A.?

I am an Officer on active duty in the US Army and would bet a goodly sum that I currently hold a higher security clearance than you do. I genuinely do not know WTF you are talking about with this. 


Is one of these Brigades assigned to Ft Knox or Blue Grass AD?

I dunno? You talked about Mexico earlier. This is all over the place man. 


Were they on a deployment exercise or just out for a Sunday drive perhaps?

 It is possible the individuals we are talking about were doing a short local test drive but otherwise they were headed somewhere for a purpose. They definitely were not just driving around for the sake of it, especially on a weekend.


Where were they going to play?

 Probably a local place with more ranges to train on.


Garand & Lawson say in their great book "The End of Civility" that "There is no such thing as a false alarm."

I have not read that book though it does seem interesting. They seem like fine people but I am honestly not sure what to make of the quote. Seems to me like false alarms happen all the time.


Its good quick reaction drill practice. Never forget that friends.

Having a plan is always a fine thing.

Note: Sorry if I came across too harshly here. I have my fair share of integrity and have not embellished my bona fides in any way. Given that everything cool these days is SOF I would be a lot better off here in terms of this little business to stretch the truth and infer or imply having qualifications, tabs or experience I do not have. Honestly like many folks I am smart enough at something I understand to talk a little bit more than my actual ability level in a way that only a few folks might catch.

Also I try not to talk about things I am not reasonably well informed on. 

Suppose that while I am not all in your face waving a flag and yelling about my accomplishmments  I do have a healthy dose of pride in what I have done, am doing and likely will do.  As such, especially given my aforementioned honestly at the expense of my own best interest, I probably do not handle folks questioning my background or knowledge of this type stuff very well.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Military Vehicles on Roads. A Nonevent with Common Explanations

About every few months somebody in the survivalist (though more lately 'patriot' community) sees a few military vehicles on the road then takes a picture. They talk about how it is a clear sign that the Federal Gubmint is coming to put them in FEMA Death Camps or the UN is invading or at the very least it is a clear breach of Posse Comitatus and or conditioning in preparation for one of the aforementioned operations in the future.

Let's take a deep breath and remove our tin foil hats. Also we might want to remove our body armor and loosen any pistol belts. A drink of water is not a bad idea either.

This is a classic Ocams Razor scenario. There are reasons military vehicles might be moving around on the open roadway that are far more likely than any of the above mentioned scenarios.

The simplest explanation is that a group of service members and or their vehicles need to get from point A to point B. Despite what you heard on midnight SW radio or some forums we do not have magical underground tunnels with roads inside. If we need to get 40 people and their vehicles to a place to train, turn in vehicles for upgrades, maintenance, etc we usually just drive there like anybody else.

At all but the biggest bases we may need to go to other areas for training. Example: while Fort Lewis is a huge base the amount and type of ranges there are limited. If we want to shoot larger weapons or conduct bigger scenarios we have to go to Yakima Training Center in central Washington. Yakima is a huge largely open training area. Think of it like the equivalent of a gravel pit where you can shoot however you want for the Army. In many other areas there are similar needs to go to a different area to train.

Sometimes loading vehicles onto trains and sending the soldiers in buses is an option, other times it does not make sense or the option is entirely unavailable. Maybe there is not a rail line right by where we need to go or the timelines do not work. Maybe due to obscure government budgeting stuff we can buy fuel and spare parts but not pay for buses.

In particular during the summer months reserve and national guard units will conduct their 2 week annual training. These groups are often located in small enclaves all over the place. This is especially true of the guard which might have 1 platoon in a town, a company in the next town, etc. All of these groups will need to gather into larger groups and travel to some sort of base to conduct their normal annual training which is typically split between knocking out various requirements (weapons qual, various mandatory tasks, etc) and some sort of scenario based exercise or war game. These things happen every year. The guard in particular tend to do 1 big scheduled event very year at the Brigade or even state level. If you looked carefully through the local news it would probably not be too hard to learn that the XX Brigade which is the XX State's guard unit is conducting their AT at Fort Whatever from 1-15 August.

These groups stop at various points along their routes for the same boring reasons you stop on a long drive. Mostly soldiers need to pee, get another giant monster and more chew or maybe pick up some snacks.

Look is you see armed soldiers (or marines) setting up check points [not to be confused with directing traffic if a vehicle breaks down, etc] or machine gunning people it is time to worry. Actually at that point it is probably too late but you get the idea. 

The comments section here could be interesting. By all means chime in with your opinion.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Quote of the Day

"Any Man who thinks he can be Happy and Prosperous by letting the US Government take care of him, better take a good look at the American Indian."
Henry Ford

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Thoughts On Insurgencies #8: Fundamentals of a Successful Insurgencies 101

It became apparent to me after a discussion with an invisible that I needed to take a step back in this series. Sometimes I am guilty of forgetting that most folks here have not spent a good portion of their live training for or being personally involved in an insurgency. We should discuss the fundamentals of a successful insurgency.

I am not saying that every insurgency must have each of these elements or it will not be successful. There are a certainly examples out there which do not fit every criteria but most tend to fit them if loosely. In no particular order.

Obviously some group or subset of a state needs to be unhappy with the current governmental system. Not just kinda unhappy but enough so to fight a war they may well die in. Taking a step back it isn't so much that there need to be people willing to take up arms but conditions that lead to people being willing to take up arms.

Some of these people will be active fighters. For every active fighter there are a few supporters or axillary types helping make things work.  These folks are involved to varying degrees. Some are full time intel, logistics or C2 types filling your conventional staff functions. Others may be a farmer who gives an old cow to feed some fighters or a Grandma with a big house who loves to feed and look after a bunch of teenage and early 20 something boys. For every person who actively aids insurgents they need a bunch of people who just keep quiet. The neighbor who sees something and goes about his business or the apathetic local cop who doesn't search for insurgents very hard.

For an insurgency to build from an initial nucleus to a group that has a real chance the government has to have problems. Maybe it is a backwards corrupt nepotistic regime, maybe it is an aging dysfunctional empire, maybe the economy is toast or the government is distracted by war. The reason for this is that functional governments can eventually use the stick and or carrot to decrease the total amount of people willing to take up arms. Eventually this makes insurgencies peter out until an 'acceptable level of violence' which varies from place to place. There are bombings and high amounts of murders in a lot of places but that is just normal.

Some sort of a safe haven is very helpful for insurgents. This safe haven is very important for insurgents to train, rest and plan and conduct a variety of logistical efforts. These safe havens can be due to political boundaries the insurgents can cross that the opposing force is unable to cross at least in a widespread regular way. Vietnam as well as the Pakistan/ Afghanistan border are good examples of this. Other times a safe haven can be due to an area's isolation in terms of rough geography, lack of improved all weather roads and low population densities. Areas outside aside from the AF/PAK border in Afghanistan fall into this category. The longtime Philippine insurgency  and the FARK in the jungles of Columbia are also examples.

Without this safe haven motivated governments can eventually wear down an insurgent group or at least prevent them from regrouping, recovering and training. This means they are not healing up injured fighters or training new ones which makes it hard to build numbers and win. Some sort of a (relative) safe haven is just about impossible for insurgents to do without.

Outside assistance is very important. It is cool to think about a bunch of guys running to the hinter boonies with rifles and fighting the big mean government but it is just not that simple. To keep things going insurgents need money, weapons, ammunition, food, medicine and often outside training. Admittedly money can handle most of those problems if the insurgents can get enough of it. For a long time during the good old Cold War a group could pretty much bet on assistance from whichever side didn't have a relationship with the regime they are trying to topple. Since the Cold War has ended it has become a lot more dicey but wide open. Islamic groups can get solid funding from various Gulf State groups. Other folks may have relationships that work for various reasons.

Those are the big ones that come to mind based on my formal and informal education on the topic as well as real world experiences. As always input is welcome but please try to keep it on topic. I hope that some of you get something out of this post.

Have a nice day,
Ryan


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Quote of the Day

"The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire." — Robert A. Heinlein

Saturday, June 23, 2012

From Around the Web

Our friends and advertisers at Lucky Gunner did a very well researched and interesting post on 5.56 vs .223. My totally anecdotal observations are that it doesn't matter and they are functionally equivalent. Anyway I just don't have enough good things to say about the good folks at Lucky Gunner. They do not play the accept your money without telling you they don't have the items in stock for and probably won't for 6 months, they think backorder game which I really appreciate. Also they bring a lot of great products like JHP defensive ammo at bulk prices to the marketplace which is cool. Over the last couple years around half the ammo I purchased has come from them (paying full price) which probably really says more than my kind words.

Tam wrote an interesting post on current affairs in the whole Eric Holder/ Gun Runner/ Contempt/ Executive Priviledge thing.

There is an interesting youtube video series (it flows sort of like a journal) by a fellow who goes by SouthernPrepper1 on his family and community dealing with a 'WROL' situation. Aside from my minor annoyance at him using an acronym that probably doesn't need to exist I really enjoyed the series. Each one gave me some things to think about. Unlike fiction blovel type stuff I can sort of zone out and just watch it which was nice. Hat tip to Rourke of Modern Survival Online for the find.
EveryCitizenasoldier.org has a good description of the "line" system as I understand it with pictures. Also the site has some other interesting stuff if you float around it. I can't say I know or vouch for everything there but what I have seen was solid and suprisingly nonpolitical/ tin foil hat ish.

Anyway that is what I have stumbled into recently that seemed worth posting.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pic Post

What you get sometimes when I have to work late.



Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Book Review Shatter by TC Sherry

This is book two of the deep winter series. To recap the last book began in the winter with a massive earthquake and ended with some other problems. This book sort of skims over the tail end of winter and covers the spring and summer. During this book bad turns into worse. It becomes apparent that the Spokane region and the PNW in general are not going to receive help from the outside and things are not going to return to any sort of old normal.

The Good: This book, as well as the previous book, lays out a compelling vision for a very bad future.
To me it is sort of a “and then what” kind of book. So things went to heck in a hand basket, you get stuff set up initially and after a couple months most of the looters have been naturally selected AND THEN WHAT. Folks start figuring out how to feed themselves in the long term, trade, reorganize society and move forward. That is what this book is about.

MILD SPOILER ALERT FOR THE NEXT COUPLE LINES.
Basically in the first book after the earthquake things internationally then nationally go to hell in a hand basket. The dollar collapses and there is war.  In this book things get even worse, and then worse again, like dealing with all that had happened in the first one wouldn’t be enough.
END SPOILER ALERT

The book brought up some interesting stuff when it comes to property rights, scavenging and ethics. What has been bothering me in a couple books I have read recently, and to some degree the first book in this series is hypocrisy. In this book the main characters actions on the whole were IMO were pretty close to what they expected from others. I won’t say that I agreed with every thing that happened but on the whole it wasn’t offensive and was very thought provoking so that was good.

I think this issue gets complicated if there is a significant die off or long term population shift. There are definitely more questions than easy answers as far as I am concerned. If folks are dead or gone and heirs are not able to be located who does the property belong to? If your neighbor was visiting his cousin in Maine and the balloon goes up at what point do you decide he isn’t coming back? What happens to his stuff?
I think it is pretty clear that stuff which belongs to people who are present or realistically may be present is theirs. However if things get nuts enough that big companies fall apart and such who do their buildings, stores and equipment belong to? Some level of nationalization albeit at a city or county level is likely, at least with this sort of stuff and is probably fairly ethical.

I liked that government didn’t magically go away. It is really a pipe dream to think that some sort of government won’t exist, especially at the local level of city and county. It will hopefully change and help set the conditions for people to take care of their selves, or at least not cause any real problems in a new world though it could get nasty and totalitarian.

In this book there was a sort of barter network that morphed into a sort of general store. For somebody with a knack for that sort of thing, access to a suitable space and some stuff to sort of seed the effort it might not be a bad idea to take some notes about that part. That people were more interactive vs just staying at their homes alone was good I think. People have a tendency to be social animals and it is difficult if not impossible to produce everything you could need or want. It definitely reinforced the desirability of being able to produce, above and beyond your own needs, something which people want.

Personally I do not stock things specifically for barter. However that is at least in part because I am not quite there yet. If one was so inclined they could probably do pretty well with a few hundred dollars of the right stuff. Stuff like kerosene, lamps, .22 LR and small game shotgun loads, sewing stuff, matches, booze, etc.
This book is a good reminder that in many ways local government is more important than at a higher level. To paraphrase Ragnar Benson the county zoning or agricultural commission is far more likely to cause problems in your life than men dressed in black carrying MP-5’s from an alphabet soup agency. This is probably far truer in a long term serious situation as they will have a lot more freedom to maneuver. Bad local governments could turn into little fiefdom’s or Stalinist collective experiments very easily.  It was also illustrated in the book that if people don’t stand up to these things as a group they will inevitably get dealt with piece mill and picked off accordingly.

The Bad:
There was a distinct flavor of population and resource control. Think checkpoints and fuel usage restrictions, curfews, etc. I think these would likely be reality in this sort of situation but it isn’t something I particularly like.
Checkpoints I think would be a fine idea, probably a necessity so long as they didn’t hamper the free movement of individuals in the area and allowed some sort of through passage through for those who need to get someplace. It kind of rubbed me the wrong way that there were passes for people who were deemed special which of course included the main characters. Personally in that situation I would be awful curious about who the heck decided which people were special and what the heck they thought gave them the right to say they could move around freely but I could not. They really didn’t go into detail on exactly what these restrictions were or how they affected people who, unlike the main characters, were not deemed to be special, so I can’t say if I really have an issue parse.

Fuel restrictions I have a hard time with. Now if the local government has fuel and is distributing it then some prioritization to EMS, food production, etc makes sense. However telling someone what they can do with fuel they have is another thing. If someone has a 300 gallon fuel tank in the barn and a 74 stingray and wants to go drag racing down their driveway it really isn’t anybodies business but theirs and their neighbors.
A few things happened that were just a little bit too convenient. The main characters stumbled into some stuff in a way that was awful darn lucky. Not so much as to really mess up the book but enough not to show the benefits of having some things squared away beforehand or the downsides of not having them squared away.
The author talks badly about politicians and government officials who are anything other than perfect public servants and folks who said public positions carry privilege. However the main character definitely uses his position to his advantage a few times getting favoritism or special treatment that Joe down the block wouldn’t. It was government choosing winners and losers at a small local scale. Nothing nasty parse, more like good old boy stuff.

The Ugly:
Not really anything ugly about the book in the usual sense that something is worse than the bad. However the book did expose (which is a good thing and thus doesn’t really belong in the bad part) a couple of ugly and very real possibilities. The first is that a default on our debt would cause all sorts of international problems. It is the kind of thing that starts wars. Even if our country fell apart we have a huge and awesome military. Somebody who thought we were weakened and that they could take advantage or attack our allies might be making a very serious mistake. Even if we were pretty tired and confused we could wipe the floor with most countries.

The next is that some places would try to continue suckling from the teat of government. Big, blue rustbelt and New England cities come to mind.

Lastly the balance of government would go all out of whack. Everyone more or less marches to the same drum in normal times and any pull from individual organizations or departments is canceled out by checks and balances or equaled out by pull from other organizations. However as people and agencies had competing visions, conflict over resources and such things might get crazy. The usually boring game of whose budget and staffing will go up by 3%, whose will stay the same and who might (though it rarely happens) face cuts could turn into serious infighting, like 3rd world stuff. Also in a die off scenario the whole line of succession thing could fall apart pretty easily leaving the US without a clear leader.

The vision of massive cascade failures laid out in this series is compelling, disturbing and seemingly plausible. I was familiar with that concept but had never heard the phrase before.

In closing I enjoyed this book and recommend it to readers. It is definitely worth paying $5 for the electronic edition.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Gay Marriage

I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. Western culture and traditions as well as the bible make that pretty clear to me. I also believe in Glock handguns, single malt whisky, cheap light domestic beer, bacon, salt and vinegar potato chips and catsup. I do not believe in car loans, Smith and Wesson (though the new M and P series shows some real promise) or Ruger semi automatic pistols, gin, miller genuine draft, BBQ potato chips or pickles. That is just fine. The reason it is fine that nobody really cares what I think. The great thing about America is that you can (or could/ should) be able to do whatever it is that makes you happy as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody else.

Doesn’t anybody have anything more important to worry about? Between terrorism, fuel prices, the destruction of the middle class, economic collapse, the creep of socialism into our lives and numerous other issues can’t we apply our time, energy and resources into more useful areas?

To me if consenting adults individual happiness and freedom comes in conflict with other people’s conceptual displeasure and desire to impose control on others that is always a non decision. So somebody doesn’t like the idea of gays being “married”, why the heck should they get to tell other people what to do? Lots of holy rollers (mostly the annoying Church of the Holy Visa TV types) will be up in arms but so what. They don’t get to tell people what to do. This isn’t Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, it is America and one of the many reasons our country is great is that we have freedom of religion.

If I choose to be a part of their church and consider them important/ wise/ whatever I will listen but otherwise I will ignore them. As far as I am concerned some other Church of the Holy Visa type has about as much right to tell me what to do as an Iranian Mullah. If you haven’t picked up on it they have no right to tell me, or anyone else in America what to do. If they really want to make me do something they can come to my house and give it a try.

The really dumb thing about this is that gay people exist and preventing them from getting married doesn’t change that. Gay people aren’t being strait now because they can’t get married. Unlike prohibition two or prostitution or gambling not even the most deluded totalitarians or religious zealots can pretend this affects the gay population of the US in any way. It is not like dudes who like dudes are living strait lives now because they can’t legally marry or strait people will become gay because it is legal to get married to somebody of the same sex.

For anybody that wants to go down the sanctity of marriage road I have three things to say: Kim Kardashian, internet ministerial services and Reality Television.

Next someone will inevitably mention the good of society or decaying morality or something like that. Those are what people say when they want to control other people’s behavior and can’t come up with a good argument for it. Preventing people in long term stable relationships from getting married in the eyes of the law is sure doing a bang up job of keeping up the sacred institution that is marriage; reference previous exhibits A-C: Kim Kardashian, internet ministerial services and Reality Television. Rubbish is what I say to that argument.

I do not see why the state is involved in marriage anyway. My marriage is between myself, Wifey, our families, whatever church we choose and God. The states only involvement is that I had to pay them for permission. (On a side note it amuses me in a sad way that it is harder to get a drivers license than a marriage license.) If someone else’s partner, family and church say two dudes can get hitched why should I care? What grounds do I have for it being any of my business anyway? Unless one of them is a kid or being coerced I say none at all. Seriously if people think something will make them happy, maybe for the rest of their lives I wish them the best.

If I were the dictator in chief with sweeping powers to solve these sorts of things my solution would be as follows. The government would no longer be involved with marriage. Aside from minimal record keeping I am not sure why it is at all now. It would from now on only certify civil unions. Any consenting adult can get a civil union with any other consenting adult or adults they wish. In a legal sense civil unions have the same powers and protections as marriages have currently. Now if you want to get married and a church or person with access to the internet and $20 wants to marry you then go for it. (Why somebody needs a license to marry people anyway? Especially since you can get one over the darn internet, that however is a whole nother rant.)
Personally I wouldn’t recognize Bob, Jill and Tom’s marriage at the church of the holy threesome but that is my right. They could in turn feel free to think my marriage is a crock and disregard it. This is after all a free country. Just leave people alone to live their lives.
Flame On!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Student Loan Repayment Forgiveness

Ever have one of those moments where you think “if this passes I may buy a hoodie and a bandana and  start a firebombing campaign?” Well I just had one. 

The topic of student loan repayment forgiveness came up on the TV. I was immediately filled with rage.  Why was I filled with rage you might ask? I was filled with rage because I busted my butt to pay off my student loan. I ended up borrowing about the average amount because, despite coming in with a wad of cash and producing some income while I was there the numbers didn’t work. I could have lived cheaper (I’m substantially better with money now) but didn’t do anything completely crazy. We made the normal payments for a couple years as we got our stuff together financially.

Establishing our emergency fund happened to occur roughly when I got a promotion. We started making big (like 1/3rd of my take home pay) payments and over about a year got it paid off. That really sucked. We lived really cheap and could not do some things we wanted to do. It was a big sacrifice for us to pay it off that fast but we wanted to be done, partially to save on interest but mostly so we could finally be debt free and able to aim a lot of money towards our next goal, home ownership.

Did getting student loans work out for me? Yes it did. I have a college degree and a good job. I could have borrowed a bit less and lived cheaper but there is nobody to blame but my own self for that one.
As for student loans on the whole; It is worth noting that my generation are receiving far fewer grants and costs are much higher than when previous generations pursued higher education. Forcing colleges to get their costs under control would be worthwhile though it might mean *gasp* cutting needless admin positions, making being a professor a bit less cushy, not constantly building new stuff to then tear down perfectly functional old stuff, etc. We are really getting a raw deal but I definitely do not let the 22-30 year old age group get off blame free.

Despite their intelligence and behavior on pretty much every front, legally speaking 18 year olds are adults.  That means they can make adult choices, almost always stupid ones. College is a great experience in a lot of ways but at the end you need to be able to get a job. Getting a degree in underwater basket weaving is stupid.  Going to an expensive private college to get a degree in education or communications or some social science is not necessary, and if you are financing it via student loans it is downright stupid. A beginning teacher making 32k a year or so can’t afford big student loan payments.

Student loan forgiveness is a big gripe of the “99%” crowd. I have absolutely no sympathy that the choices they made did not work out well. Mostly I think we will find the ones who are in real trouble made stupid choices. While I do think that structural changes (controlling costs mostly, along with schools helping kids not being pimps for the loan industry) should occur they do not absolve individuals of responsibility.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Opinion: Instead of Occupying Detroit, Will Lefties Take Responsibility For It?

Link here

Government is amazing because it manages to convince people that it's inability to function is a reason we should give it more power. How in the heck does that make any sense. If your cousin messes up the sidedish they are supposed to bring time after time do you then ask them to bring the turkey to thanksgiving? If an employee does not do his job is he promoted? If a business fails to meet your expectations do you increase your dealings with them? No, typically people who fail to meet expectations are given more supervision, different or fewer responsabilities. Why should government be any different?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

All Sorts of Stuff

Things in the Middle East have been pretty nuts the past few weeks. The government of Tunisia was toppled. Egypt saw their dictator step down. That he is being replaced by the military is not suprising. The history of that sort of thing in the Middle East is pretty established. On a scale of best to worst case outcomes this is somewhere in the middle. Maybe there will be genuine free and fair elections and maybe they will be postponed indefinitely or less than free and fair. I am inclined to say that if substantial steps have not been made toward voting in a parliment/ representative body, changing the constitution, and such in 90 days they never will. A benevolent dictatorship by one guy or a council of sorts, or in this case the military is not the worst type of government to live under though certainly not the best either.

It is interesting that these sorts of events seem to happen in regional clumps. Sort of like the fall of Europe's monarchies, the colonial dismantling of the late 50's and early 60's or the fall of the commies back in '89. I think this happens for a lot of reasons. Economic downturns seem to be a significant factor in these things; almost without exception. I think the reason for this is that the stress economic downturns, and in poor countries spikes in food prices are involved is because they create unrest which the fundamentally unstable and unpopular government can't handle. Sort of like how money problems frequently are a catalyst that leads to divorce in mariages that have other issues.

That reminds me of another thing. One of the wisest things I did while I was dating was to consider womens money habits. I started doing this after seeing a friend who married a very nice gal who is a money train wreck. It really caused a lot of friction and problems for them. The had some stupid high interest debt and just can't seem to spend less than they make. It almost lead to divorce repeatedly.  Of course bad things can happen to good people but typically people who don't have their financial house in order have other issues. Not if they make a ton or know all about investing or anything like that but just that they can live within whatever their means are, pay their bills and generally be financially functional. Marrying someone who can't live within their means or has an entitlement 'I deserve it' attitude is just asking for life long problems.

I have been thinking a lot about housing recently. The first thing in my head is location, location, location. I got to thinking about all the different places I have lived and then balanced them against different scenarios. Personally the two options that interest me are living rurally or in a fairly small town. See old stuff about small town vs rural living here. The small town situation lets you walk or ride a bike to do much of your day to day stuff. Being able to walk to a store, restaurant, hardware store or small shop is nice. I particularly like the option of being able to have a couple beers and walk to get something to eat. This could be very convenient if fuel price or even availability get wonky. Living rurally on a fairly decent sized piece of land (I hesitate to define an exact size but certainly a couple acres) appeals to me also. It is definitely something we plan to do once we stop moving all the time. The reason we will wait until then is that going to the time and expense to get animals and equipment as well as set a place up how we want it isn't worth it unless we plan to stay there for a long time.
One thing that people who advocate for living out in the sticks typically fail to understand, or see the full implications of is how fuel prices and their need for transportation make them vulnerable. The cold hard reality is that you need to work to earn an income. As they say the key to a successful rancher is a wife who works in town. Typically your job will be in town. The people who will buy what you produce live in town or scattered over some distance. Rural folks tend to drive a lot if for work, access to stores or entertainment. Working 30, 40 or even 50 miles from home is not abnormal for rural folks. Do the math on that and it adds up to crazy mileage. The percentage of income lower middle class (whatever the heck that means)  rural folks spend on fuel is rediculous and will only get worse. I am not a peak oil doomer but the days of dirt cheap fuel are gone and things are just going to get worse. There are a lot of variables in this one so an easy answer isn't available. However you should think about your area, skills, interests and financial situation and try to come up with some answers for what you would do if fuel prices rose dramatically.
The whole concept of suburbs and other such places (like a small housing development outside of town or whatever) where people live closely but there aren't stores, restaurants and all that stuff does not appeal to me at all. These are probably the worst of both options. If you can't shoot a shotgun off the porch then you should be able to walk to the local grocery store and restaurants.


The nature of houses themselves is the next thing. This is a definite area where people back theirselves into a corner then gripe about it. They buy a home which is bigger than they need as well as fancier than they can afford. If they buy a house where the 30 year mortgage payment is absolutely as much as they can qualify for (and maybe actually pay) then it's not a suprise they are paying for at least 30 years. Clearly it is all the bankers fault, not the knuckleheads who bought more house than they could actually afford.

I saw an ad for this company that does tiny houses. It is an interesting idea. Probably not good for a family of 6 but for a bachelor or a couple it could work just fine. A relative of mine lives in a 2 bedroom cabin that is about 20' x 35' and would be great for a couple or a family of 3-4. I think looking at a house as a place to live instead of a status symbol in your competition with the neighbors is a good start. If your family and or income change it is always possible to add a room or move.

Well it's time for me to wrap this up now so I can go to bed.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Pic Post- Cleaning Out My Desktop




 I saved my favorite for last. These guys have appeared a couple times here and are ever present in some forums.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Joke of the Day

A stockman named Bluey was overseeing his herd in a remote mountainous pasture in NSW when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced toward him out of a cloud of dust.
The driver, a young man in a fancy suit, Gucci shoes, Prada sunglasses and YSL tie, leaned out the window and asked the stockman, "If I tell you exactly how many cows and calves you have in your herd, Will you give me a calf?"
Bluey looks at the man, obviously a yuppie, then looks at his peacefully grazing herd and calmly answers, "Sure, why not."
The yuppie parks his car, whips out his Dell notebook computer, connects it to his Apple iPhone, and surfs to a NASA page on the Internet, where he calls up a GPS satellite to get an exact fix on his location which he then feeds to another NASA satellite that scans the area in an ultra-high-resolution photo.
The young man then opens the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop and exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg, Germany. Within seconds, he receives an email that the image has been processed and the data stored. He then accesses an MS-SQL database through an ODBC connected Excel spreadsheet with email on his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, receives a response.
Finally, he prints out a full-colour, 150-page report on his hi-tech, miniaturized HP LaserJet printer, turns to the stockman and says, "You have exactly 1,586 cows and calves."
"That's right. Well, I guess you can take one of my calves," says Bluey.
He watches the young man select one of the animals and looks on with amusement as the young man stuffs it into the trunk of his car.
Then Bluey says to the young man, "Hey, if I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my calf?" The young man thinks about it for a second and then says, "Okay, why not."
"You're a senator in Julia Gillard's Labor Government", says Bluey. "Wow! That's correct," says the yuppie, "but how did you guess that?"
"No guessing required." answered the stockman. "You showed up here even though nobody called you, you want to get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked. You used millions of dollars worth of equipment trying to show me how much smarter than me you are, and you don't know a thing about how working people make a living - or about cows, for that matter. This is a herd of sheep... now give me back my dog".

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday Ramblings: What Have You Been Thinking About This Week?

It has been an interesting weekend. We're all pretty thrown off staying up at all hours and sleep randomly. Going to bed when the sun is coming up and drinking coffee in the early afternoon or in the middle of the night. Sometimes the meals I eat match up with my schedule and other times they match up with the time of day. The combination makes me feel kinda out of it and like I'm slightly drunk all the time. Yesterday I woke up and immediately had dinner. This morning at 6am Miley was having a beer. Half the time I can't tell you what day it is let alone if it is AM or PM.

Talked with Stephen for awhile yesterday.  He is doing a lot better which makes me really happy. Had some interesting conversation about life, guns and the economy. He sends me lots of interesting emails and I do my best to read them. We talked about precious metals some. Concluded that it might not be a bad time to sell gold if you plan to anywhere in the near future. However if you are still buying PM's silver still shows some opportunity. Personally I am staying away from gold and instead buying silver.

One interesting thing about interacting with people who come to something from a different angle is that sometimes they can expose you to a cool new piece of gear or way of doing things. For example after handling my Glock 19 when I was down there he really wanted one and recently got it. If there has been a person who wasn't happy with the Glock 19 I haven't met them.

Also I got to talk to my friend Ryan (lawyer type) which was cool. He is well. Getting ready to do all kinds of huge things. We had an interesting conversation about politics and such. It might be interesting how this upcoming election goes. During it and beyond we are both cautiously optimistic that the Tea Party will do some good stuff. He is excited that they may well win some stuff in this election. I think it is good that if nothing else they are shaking up the GOP and conservative base in general which is good.

Ryan (lawyer type) said something that really resonated with me. He said more or less that he was seriously concerned about the state of our nation and was just going to stop stressing it and just get his stuff in order. I had a similar realization some time ago and it has brought me a lot of peace.  I can watch the news now and usually not freak out. My stress level and probably blood pressure are at much more reasonable levels. Instead of worrying about this or that which may be or is happening I am putting mental time and energy into preparing my family. Instead of stressing this bill or that amendment I think about how to meet this goal or increase that capability. I suggest this sort of perspective to everyone.

Personally I am really tired of this whole crony capitalism thing. It breeds corruption, kickbacks and nepotism by rewarding connections far more than sound business practices. After some reflection I think I prefer welfare type socialism though it should go without saying that I dislike both. At least somebody can (incorrectly) think they are actually helping PEOPLE. Ya know the kind of people with connections who often move seamlessly between slightly above mid level political appointments and cushy advising/ consulting/ VP of nothing type jobs in business. Hook up GE or some hedge fund while you are working for .gov then get a highly paid job not doing much of anything for them afterwords. I don't like the idea of forcibly taking hard earned money from people and giving it to nonproductive members of society; however giving somebody welfare (social security, "disability insurance", mortgage interest deductions, "earned" income credit, etc) just makes me shake my head. Conversely rewarding a group of businesses who screwed our entire economy makes me want to throw up.

We got a bunch of formula today even though Wifey is breast feeding. It is good to have options and a backup plan. Other than that I did a lot of reading on various preparedness and financial stuff. It doesn't really seem worthwhile to do "What did you do to prepare this week" but I figured I'd mention what has been going on. Life is kinda busy for me but I hope you are still doing good stuff. If you want to tell me what you've been up to I would love to hear it.

Now that Walker has been born Wifey is officially a stay a home mom. We don't plan for her to go back to work (though if a good part time work from home opportunity arose...) until our last kid, we're planning on two, goes to Kindergarten. For us this is a very put your money where your mouth is kind of thing. We believe and research agrees that young children do better if Momma is at home with them.

Having a stay at home parent  is one of those things that is simple if not easy. To do it you just need to live on what one of the parents makes. This may well mean decreasing your lifestyle and probably means you've got to give up on keeping up with the neighbors. We would rather have Wifey taking care of our kid then a brand new BMW. Her being able to hang out with, take care of and teach Walker is more important then brand new furniture, expensive electronics and a closet full of designer clothes.

I've got a couple interesting posts coming up for next week. Hopefully you folks will enjoy them.

Interesting news article: Oregon Faces Cold Hard Reality.  Here is a teaser "Borrowing money to cover operating expenses is just plain stupid."

What have you been thinking about this week?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Happy Cost of Government Day

Aug. 19 marks this year's "Cost of Government Day." The date, calculated by the Americans for Tax Reform, signals when the average American finishes paying off his or her respective share of federal, state and local taxes, and the cost of implementing government regulations. This year, that means a whopping 231 days -- or almost 2/3 of the year -- are spent paying to keep the country going.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

quote of the day

"People in the establishment tend to fail upward"
-Chris Hayes

Not going to say I agree with most of what this guys says but this quote is disturbingly true.
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