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Brown Shirts on the march…Who will meet them face to face?

Across America, especially at tech giants like Google and Facebook, and at university campuses, the brown shirts are on the march.

The original Brown Shirts were the early street thugs used by the Nazis to take control of German society in the 1920s and 1930s, from the streets to the families who walked on the streets, all the way to the top of the government.

Once in power, the Nazis imposed draconian speech and behavior codes, cowing the citizenry into obeying even the most horrendous, cruel laws that followed. Do we need to delve any deeper into the history of Nazism, and their mirror image, the Stalinists of Russia, to understand what is actually happening here in the Land of the Free?

Well, yes, you might take the time to read up on that history, because it is repeating itself here in America, with these “speech codes” at Google, Facebook, and college campuses.

These speech codes are often nebulous, hard to define, and aimed at eliminating the mere questioning of an extreme political and cultural perspective. Speech codes are purely political in purpose.

Both Facebook and Google have been in the news recently for summarily firing employees who even dare to question the politically correct beliefs at each company, who merely question the brown shirts values and behavior.

Another example is Ms. Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Washington State. Because she politely declined to make a custom floral arrangement for a same-sex marriage. She did this because of her religious faith. Agree or disagree with her, this is her right, but the ACLU and the State of Washington are using lawfare to drive this nice grandma into poverty. These two lawsuits against her, both commercial and personal lawsuits, one private the other “official,” are designed to crush this woman’s right to free speech and religious faith.

You would think Grandma Stutzman is protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution, but to the brown shirts at the ACLU and those running Washington State’s government, they don’t care. What they care about is driving Grandma into submission, and gaining control of America through intimidation and threats of lawsuits that can bankrupt people for living a Christian life.

And you say there oughtta be a law! Well right there is a good example of where America needs a law, to stop these kinds of punitive, fake lawsuits.

Maybe the best example of the worst speech code is the assertion of “white privilege,” the single most racist statement you will encounter in a full year of your life. This ugly example of racism sums up all of the other, gentler version of speech control, and you can go find videos of people physically assaulting “white” people because of the color of their skin, because that skin color is inherently evil, and bad, and…racist.

Yes, the irony of beating people with the wrong skin color is lost on the people who are doing it, those being the racist members of racist groups like “Black Lives Matter.”

Even if you are not physically beaten, if you do not obey the speech code, then you are shamed, bullied, fired, expelled, and personally destroyed. Or at least people will try.

Recall that about six years ago here in Harrisburg, a non-profit “environmental” organization called PennFuture tried to get a local meteorologist fired from his news station, because he had the audacity to disagree with PennFuture’s assertion about climate change (well, back then it was “global warming”).

This is thuggery, pure and simple.

And just like the Brown Shirts did on Kristallnacht, American brown shirts go on violent, destructive rampages from Missouri to New York to Berkeley, California. This is also thuggery.

On the flip side, try to imagine a large group of conservative Americans similarly forming up to express their political views through the use of street violence, and public shaming, and firing, lawsuits, and personal destruction. This group would be roughly the size of the existing organized speech code groups like BLM and its friends, about 30,000-50,000 active activists.

This conservative group would be highly coordinated, highly organized, with well-implemented transportation anywhere in the country, ready to go where needed pretty quickly.  Just like the BLM, Code Pink, Occupy and other paid activists groups.

Just think about that, and ask yourself how such a group would be portrayed in the media. It wouldn’t be positive, that’s for sure!

And yet we do in fact have a highly organized, increasingly armed, well funded leftist militia engaged in controlling speech and behavior across America, working hand-in-hand with the media. Right now they are pretty much unimpeded.

The Brown Shirts are truly on the march, right here, right now.

Question is, what are we going to do about it?

Who is going to go meet them face to face, nose to nose, to defend our Constitutional republic?

UPDATE August 11, 2017: Last night, while reading a positive Washington Post article about violent anarchists, it occurred to me that something is in the air here. If a little-known blogger in Central PA is writing about it, and then the Washington Post is promoting it, then this is a timely subject. The Washington Post article was full of beautifully staged photos of the black-clothed anarchists, obviously trying to make them more personable, more understandable. In this article, everyone on the streets who is not an anarchist is repeatedly described as “right wing,” though none of the leftists, liberals, etc are ever described as left wing, though the Washington Post needs no analysis to uncover its hard-left bias and purpose. Legba Carrefour is photographed with a wooden baseball bat over his shoulder, posing like a badass tough guy. Whether he is or is not (I say he is not) a true tough guy, or if he only pretends to be a tough guy when he is surrounded by hundreds of rampaging violent packs of fellow fools, it is not important. What is important is that America has a growing problem with violent Brown Shirts clad in black, and their enablers all the way up to Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Barack Obama, all of whom say nothing negative about these violent thugs, but actually seem to encourage them. Meanwhile, on the other side, we have RINO Republicans everywhere at every level engaged in influence peddling, using government to enrich themselves, and essentially blocking patriots from safeguarding America.  Something has to give way.

UPDATE August 13th: If the awful violence in Virginia is any indication, the crazy, violent left has managed to provoke the right wing crazies, who for decades have been an embarrassing and irrelevant speck of dust on our national political stage. They are the other side of the Black Lives Matter coin- racist, ignorant, and spoiling for a fight. Until now, no one bothered with them, because they were meaningless. Intriguingly, Virginia governor Terry McCauliffe refuses to rebuke or condemn BLM or any of the other violent leftists who attacked police, peaceful protestors, and white bystanders long before the biggest violence broke out. McCauliffe is only condemning the two dozen Nazi flag waving idiots and the murderous guy who drove his car into the communist flag waving idiots who attacked his car. To Governor McCauliffe, violence is only bad when it’s not his people doing it. It’s just fine when his people do it.  President Trump correctly identifies all racism and all bigotry and all violence as unacceptable. And so we see what force is behind most of the political violence in America now: radical anarchists and their sore loser Democrat enablers. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are just as responsible for this violence as the goons in the street, because they could easily call for it to end. Although now I’m starting to wonder if they could reel it back in, even if they wanted to. They’ve set a forest fire decades in the making. Can anyone put it out….?

UPDATE August 15, 2017: As the actual facts begin to trickle out, mostly in the form of video of the march and the violence, and review of official Charlottesville city documents, one thing is clear: The mayor created the conditions for the violence to happen. The mayor knew exactly what he was doing when he arranged to have the previously permitted kook right march moved from Emancipation Park (formerly Robert E. Lee Park) to an open area, so that the kook left would surround the marchers on all sides. Also, the city police were instructed to contain the kook right marchers and only allow them to exit by walking through the violent throng of Black Lives Matter and ANTIFA thugs surrounding them. This meant that no matter what, physical contact between the two sides was guaranteed. On top of this, the city police were instructed to not make arrests. So the net result is a city administration that coordinates with street thugs and its own police force to bring terrible violence upon peaceful protestors. The neo-NAZI marchers may be morons, but they have a right to march peacefully, which they were doing until they were attacked by the moron leftists. The mayor is an accessory to the murder of the woman, and the US Justice Department should bring charges against the mayor for his direct role in guaranteeing violence and the suppression of the permitted marchers’ civil rights.

And even more to the point, the mainstream media has continued to act as a partisan political arm of one political party. I saw a screen shot of CNN actually writing “Trump defends racist marchers,” which is a complete and total lie. At a certain point these attacks on Trump are an attack on the political process, because these are undocumented political contributions to a political party. The Federal Elections Commission needs to start documenting these political contributions by political organizations formerly known as “media” and “the press.”

And even more to the point, where on earth are Obama, Clinton, and Sanders? Why are they not denouncing the leftist violence? Do they really want street battles reminiscent of Weimar Germany, when the kook left Communists and the kook right NAZIs battled each other across the country? Do we really want that kind of political instability? Dear liberal friends: You really do not want this kind of instability.

Keep yer dirty mitts off our history

July 1st is the anniversary of the beginning of hostilities at Gettysburg, the beginning of the end of the first American Civil War (or War of Northern Aggression, or War Between the States).

For weeks, anti history activists have been openly discussing their intentions to defile Gettysburg battlefield’s monuments and markers.

Following recent anti history actions in New Orleans, where the mayor simply removed valuable old Confederate army statues he said were “offensive,” there is now a war against American history.

This attempt to destroy historic statues  and markers here is the same as ISIS blowing up churches, synagogues, and Buddhist carvings, as well as quite ancient carvings from Sumerian civilization.

In ancient Egypt it was fairly common for subsequent rulers to chisel out the names of a politically incorrect forebear from the many stone monuments that relayed the nation’s history

It’s all an attempt to destroy history so it can be rewritten to suit a modern narrative, be it now or 3,000 years ago.

History belongs to everyone. You cannot rewrite it, or destroy it, or damage it. If there is something in history you don’t like, then don’t judge it by today’s standards. Rather, try to understand what was in the minds of the people originally involved.

That understanding is how we use history to inform our decisions today. It’s why so much effort is put into researching history, and uncovering artifacts. We want to know. Well, civilized people want to know.

The people threatening to destroy Gettysburg don’t want to know and they don’t want you to know. They want ignorance, so they can present an alternative rendition that suits their political views today.

They’d probably write a textbook about how the evil Republicans were defeated by ANTIFA kids at Gettysburg. Or something like that.

The rest of America has a message for the disrupters and anti history people: Keep yer dirty mitts of our history.

Why I Trap

Trapping wild animals for food, fur, and pest control is as old as the human race, tens of thousands of years in action.

The traps may have changed over time, but the purposes have not. Pests still ruin valuable crops, eat valuable farm animals, and break into homes and ruin stored food. Humans still prefer to eat wild meat, which is tastier, cleaner, and healthier than agribusiness meat. And humans still prefer to wear wild furs that are warmer, prettier, and more natural than human-made fabrics. That furs are renewable, sustainable, biodegradable, and natural adds to their appeal.

But what has also happened over time is the incredibly abundant material success of Western civilization has created an unnatural gap between consumers of food and goods, and the natural world of forestry, farming, and natural resource management that creates those very same consumer goods.

Frankly, Americans and Europeans are largely spoiled.  Nearly everything we need is easily obtainable. Very few of us have to work hard for food, or shelter, the necessities that keep most humans personally toiling in dirty agriculture daily around the globe. Even our poor have expensive personal items like TVs and phones.

Never will I forget a family member decrying “those evil power companies,” years ago, because she did not like the air pollution resulting from power generation. It did not occur to her that her role as a consumer and generous user of electric power made her the real driver behind electricity generation, as well as all of the associated processes branching out from it.

And similarly, the ease of “shopping” for an unimaginably rich and diverse array of food items, so many made to suit nuanced tastes, especially meats, has resulted in a populace that does not understand the basics of what it takes to put meat and food on those same supermarket shelves.

Enter trapping. At first glance to the average American it appears to involve the sadistic mistreatment of very cute, furry animals that would beg us for their lives in humorous dialects of English, if we would only let them. Silly depiction, yes, but opposition to trapping is even more silly than imaginary talking cartoon animals.

Here are some reasons why I trap: We find a mother turtle, attempting to lay another clutch of eggs along the rail trail, the loose pea gravel of which provides perfect conditions for holding, incubating, and hatching turtle eggs. Three feet away is her previous nest, torn up, with raccoon tracks all over the destroyed turtle eggs, eaten by the raccoon. Raccoons are abundantly dead along roadsides everywhere because they are artificially overabundant in the wild, and especially in suburbia, where they have no real predators other than random cars. There are too damned many raccoons, and they are having a disproportionately high impact on other animals, like turtles, nearly all of which are in decline across the world.

Another reason: The PA Game Commission and many other wildlife agencies nationwide are studying why whippoorwills are in such steep decline. One of the reasons is they are ground nesting birds, which makes their nests easy prey for the raccoons, possums, and skunks that pulse out in unnaturally high numbers from the habitat created for them in suburban sprawl environments. The one place I have seen and listened to these sweet nocturnal birds is a place where we aggressively trap, thinning out the artificially high population of ground mammals that would otherwise raid the whippoorwill nests. We create breathing room for the birds to nest and rear young. The same holds true for grouse, turkeys, and woodcock, all ground nesting birds.

I could go on with a long list of cute feathered and furry animals that are in trouble because of predation by skunks, raccoons, and possums, but it should not be necessary. I prefer these animals because they are colorful, or sweet, or rare. Some of these animals are in real trouble, and if not for trapping of their predators, they might be gone altogether. Any thinking person will join me in preferring these uncommon birds and animals over the overabundant, artificially common racoon, possum, or skunk.

Given that choice, trapping is the natural way to preserve animals we want. We remove the animals we don’t want. I trap because I love wildlife, and given certain population dynamics, as a Nature lover, I face certain natural tradeoffs that I must consider. In order to love and enjoy one little birdy, I must eliminate a whole bunch of its predators.

What amazes me is how little most people know or want to know about trapping. They write it off with the wave of a hand. They seem unimpressed that we can easily target certain types of animals, and thereby avoid other kinds of animals in our traps. We can selectively harvest overabundant predators, to help cute, little, rare and endangered critters.

Trapping is not random, it is not haphazard, it is not cruel, and for me it is not about money. For those of us who love Nature and all in it, trapping is really the only way to ensure that Nature in all her facets sticks around. That, or level all of the large lot suburban sprawl developments and pack everyone into cities.

After all, it is suburban back yards that give us the worst of the critters needing the most control: Raccoons, possums, and skunks.

 

In defense of Mr Coffee

We enjoy coffee in this house.

Rather, to be honest, coffee is a necessity to get a day started properly.

Just one or two cups, and we are off and running full bore.

The question is, How should the coffee be created in the first place?

One person likes the fancy high-tech coffee makers, with all their automated bells and whistles, timers that people outside your home can set their watches by, nuclear heaters, supersonic filters, and so on. You push a button and things start to whirl, hidden gears begin to spin and interconnect, a promising mechanical thrumming starts, and then you wait a hell of a long time while all of the various moving parts begin to work together to make a black liquid known as coffee.

Me, the other person here, likes coffee made easy.

I like Mister Coffee, the low-technology coffee brewer that is easy to set up, easy to turn on, easy to load, easy to run, and easy to clean and shut off.

Unlike the fancy NASA spaceship – inspired coffee makers, with the flick of the ON switch, Mister Coffee quickly pumps really hot water over the coffee grounds and provides hot coffee faster than I can boil it on the stove top.

There are no moving parts in Mister Coffee, no hidden functions, no tiny gears, capacitors or microprocessors that the NSA can hack into to read your kitchen habits.

So when the umpteenth fancy pants ultra-tech coffee maker dies a sudden and unexpected technologically complex death requiring a full autopsy to understand, you can imagine the conversations we have here…

Me: “Well, your latest contraption died, and now we are back to boiling the coffee grounds in a pot, or drinking yechy instant coffee. What do you say we go with the old tried and true Mister Coffee?”

Her: “But I like all those gadgets! I like setting the coffee maker to automatically begin brewing at six AM, and then finding it in flames at 6:15 when I come down into the kitchen.”

Me: “So by being sarcastic about your own choices, are you finally admitting that these high-tech coffee makers universally suck, despite their equally high prices?”

Her: “No, I am not yet ready to give up. While you were gone, I ordered one and have already sent it back after it failed to work properly the first morning. Then I looked at the online reviews and saw that I should not have ordered it in the first place. Another new one arrives tomorrow, same manufacturer. After that, I have another brand to choose from.”

Me: “OK, so….we have still no coffee maker? And you do realize that for twenty bucks, we could have by now had a simple, low-tech, high-function coffee maker on the counter?”

Her: “But I don’t want a Mister Coffee! It’s so boring!”

And so on.

This same conversation has been had in some version about a half dozen times over the same number of years.

Meanwhile, in my own little domain, I continue to use the same Mister Coffee I acquired nearly twenty years ago. Sure, Tim dropped the glass pot early one deer season morning and broke it, back in 2008, I think, but he easily grabbed a new one to replace it, and it is still going strong.

Here is the truth: a) Simplicity trumps complexity almost every time across life’s landscape, as increased complexity results in greater, more expensive, more “exciting” breakdowns, b) coffee is a simple drink, and does not require complex machines to make it, c) low cost and high function trump high cost and low function.

Perhaps there is some hidden aroma associated with fancy coffee machines, and perhaps this hidden aroma stimulates an ego gland buried deep within the brain, resulting in an enhanced coffee drinking experience. All those lights and computer-driven processes could be stimulating on a amusement park ride, so maybe that is happening with these coffee machines, too.

But as far as I am concerned, by the time my fellow coffee addicts have started and finished their Western version of the Matcha, Chado, Sado, and Chanoyu services, I am long gone out the door, fully charged, ready for the day ahead.

Thank you, Mister Coffee, for your constance, your ease of use, and your rugged, low-cost performance.

Here’s to ya!

A Vulture’s Nose is Deep Stuff

As I am one of those many outdoorsmen who feels the presence of God most when outside in the wild (as did Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Byzantine monks, most Eastern religious founders, moved by the spirit present when interposing interference is removed), and who daily revels in the magical mysteries of nature and her myriad inhabitants, two days ago I experienced one of those affirmative moments I just had to share here.

Let me begin in a normally circuitous way.

Among our friends, the cabin frig is a notorious repository for hilarious experiments in food storage. Examples run from milk containers constantly long past the “Use By” date, which poses no boundary for me when making morning covfefe, to plastic containers containing mysterious fuzzy delicacies once lovingly stashed in misplaced anticipation of an immediate followup feed some distant time before.

So the other day, I grabbed what I thought was a container of meat pottage of recent vintage, only to discover it held the sad remains of a once-proud free range tuna fish turned to tame tuna salad some weeks prior. Upon opening the plastic container, it was clear this material could be frozen for trap bait come November, or taken to a regular dumping point deep in the forest, 100 yards from the front porch, where several trail cameras record and document the many cool forest denizens that come to explore the enticing odors thereupon.

Unwilling to risk the entire freezer contents to this nasty smelling mess, option B was followed. Taking water along to help rinse out the container only added yet more stink to the spot.

I retreated from that odorous field of battle and took up my point of respite on a chair on said porch, thinking of all the hard physical labor awaiting me, once more responsible instincts took control of my limbs. Within minutes, and I mean just a few minutes, a handful of black-headed vultures began circling the spot of spoilage, some diving down below the tree canopy to more personally investigate the enticing smell.

To me, seeing this is a magnificent experience and feeling. What a display of the incredible smelling ability of these birds!

Yes, vultures are carrion eaters, and they are supposed to be able to smell well.

Well, to me, being able to smell a few ounces of old tuna salad water dumped out in the Big Woods in the middle of a vast forest complex, from miles away, is not just good sense of smell. It is beyond imaginably incredible.

We are talking about parts per trillion of stink being immediately picked up by a winged creature far, far away. What sophistication! What finely honed senses! It is miraculous, and to me, it is a sign of the hand of God, because only God can create such complexity. Human attempts are not even cheap imitations.

Which takes me to this perhaps unexpected conclusion: I do not understand the use of recreational drugs. The free and easy endorphin “high” that my brain feels from witnessing the vultures’ display of smell capability is intense, because I appreciate what it represents. Just minutes later a beautiful ruby throated hummingbird buzzed the porch, inspecting our colorful (flower-colored) American flag gently luffing in the breeze.

Hanging momentarily a few feet away from me, I marveled at its minuscule dose of radiant iridescence.

And then as the hummingbird buzzed away at an impossibly high speed (I mean, how can such a small animal achieve such a high rate of speed so quickly? Another miracle of Creation!), my brain experienced yet another rush of self-induced stimulants. No outside drugs required. No danger, no addiction, no expense, no law breaking.

My takeaway from the vultures: Don’t take Nature for granted. She is everywhere, the handmaiden of God, here to show us The Way. If we just open our eyes and revel in the mystery.

 

Benjamin Marauder Air Rifle 3.0 Review

With Pennsylvania recently adopting regulations allowing the use of air guns for hunting, a new air rifle was acquired to take advantage of the new opportunities. It is the .25 caliber Benjamin Marauder, version 3. This is a PCP version, which is to say, highly compressed air from a specialized hand pump that gives you a heck of a workout, or from a SCUBA tank, to a maximum of 3,000 psi. These PCP air guns are quite powerful and nothing like the Daisy BB guns my generation is familiar with.

It was purchased from LG Outdoors brand new in the factory box, for $465.00.

The .25 caliber was selected because the slightly larger pellets can carry significantly higher kinetic energy, as measured in foot-pounds, than the .177 and .22 caliber PCP air rifles. Supposed to function like a firearm.  That was the idea, anyhow.

A UTG 3-9×40 AO mildot scope was added to it, because the gun does not have open sights. UTG was selected on the basis of internet reviews and recommendations. It is designed for .22s and air rifles, which are much harder on scopes than even heavy caliber big game rifles. This was purchased from Midway for $85.00.

Pellets used were .25 caliber 25.39-grain JSB Match Diabolo Exact Kings. According to internet reviews I have read, these seem to be the best performing pellets in the Marauder. They are pure soft lead, rounded blunt, with a pronounced skirt, so no sharp, pointed, killer-type field tip contours here.  But within 25-35 yards, they are going to be deadly.

Shooting Experience

The clip included with the rifle broke right away, and I could not get it to work more than once (eight shots). Apparently the internal spring sprang, and the clip would not rotate afterwards. The clip is an over-engineered, overly complicated contraption, designed to frustrate most users. After those first eight shots, the clip was broken, set aside, and the gun was tediously fed single shots by hand.

After the first ten shots, accuracy began to drop, so more air needed to be pumped in with the hand pump. While the gauge on the rifle showed 1,500 psi starting out with the re-charge, it then went to 2,500 psi after just a few pumps. On the other hand, the hand pump gauge showed 3,000 psi, which is the limit. Mind you this was only the second time the gun had been pumped up. When the bleeder valve was opened and the pump disconnected from the rifle, the rifle gauge needle dropped into the white area below the marked pressure range. In other words, the rifle’s gauge died immediately upon use. Only the pump gauge was accurate.

The de-gassing tool needed to quickly let out the compressed air is not included with the gun, which is ridiculous.

The awful matte finish on the barrel and air tank attracts scuffs, holds any paint it encounters, and the metal underneath rusts easily from even the slightest exposure to moisture. This is not your old Daisy single-pump BB gun’s black finish, a finish that even decades later may be somewhat scratched but is still robust and protecting the steel underneath.

After wondering about how the barrel could be counted on to remain accurate without being rigidly supported by the front barrel band, I learned in a phone call to Crosman customer service that a rubber O-ring was missing from the barrel band on this rifle. That O-ring would grip the barrel inside the barrel band and keep the barrel from flexing or moving, which would destroy accuracy.

Despite lacking the O-ring to hold the barrel rigidly, this gun was accurate. With the barrel band O-ring installed, I’ll bet it is amazingly accurate. The adjustable trigger is outstandingly crisp.

After shooting it into and through half-inch-thick dried oak boards, which are iron – hard, we learned this is a gun quite capable of cleanly taking squirrels, rats, starlings, European sparrows, and rabbits, either hunting or in pest control out to about 35 yards. I am unsure if I feel comfortable using it for more challenging pest control like skunks, groundhogs, possums, raccoons, or feral cats, all of which are very tough, unless it is a head shot at point blank range, like in a trap. Having just killed a large porcupine gnawing on our pavilion the other night, which required five point blank Federal Premium .22 LRs, there is still a distinct power difference between even a “mere” .22 and this souped-up air rifle.

Crosman did respond to this gun’s deficiencies. They sent a new clip (the size of a fifty cent piece) in a package the size of a shoe box. I guess shipping costs are not an issue at Crosman. Days later a new air pressure gauge and barrel O-ring arrived. After looking at the terribly illustrated and poorly worded user’s manual, which did not include instructions on installing either the O-ring or the pressure gauge, I decided against trying to install the barrel O-ring or the gauge myself. The gun is going back to Crosman. They can fix this one or send a new one.

Bottom line

The Benjamin Marauder 3.0 PCP air rifle is very accurate up to ten shots, and then it needs to be pumped up again to 3,000 psi. Don’t push this rifle beyond what it was designed to do, and it will perform fine within 35 yards. Just make sure you actually get a functional rifle when it comes “new” out of the box!

UPDATE: 6/2/17 Crosman customer service is shipping the rifle back at their cost. The nice lady told me the serial number is from late 2015, which made her think the gun may have already been returned to LG Outdoors once before, as it should have moved through the channels of trade long before June 2017. She also said we’ll be receiving a new gun. That’s good customer service!

UPDATE: 6/23/17 Crosman delivers back to me the same rifle I had sent to them for repair or replacement. Judging by the small amount of pressure indicated by the gauge, the gauge has been replaced. However, the O ring in the barrel band is still missing. It has not been fixed. This means that the barrel is just flopping around, unsupported. This means mediocre accuracy, at best. Dear Crosman (went my unanswered emails and phone calls), WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON OVER THERE? This is not customer service, it is a rip-off. I purchased a brand new air rifle, and months later, it still doesn’t work right. To be continued!

 

Memorialization Day

Memorial Day began as “Decoration Day” in 1868, as a way to remember the fallen military fighters of both the South and the North, the “Great Rebellion.”

Later it became Memorial Day to remember ALL fallen military service members, who gave their lives so we might live in ease here at home, especially those who fell in the “Great War” of World War One.

Perhaps you are surprised it wasn’t really started in 1968 to sell cheap mattresses and cars at exciting prices? Or perhaps slightly better, a weekend spent with family and friends around a campfire, drinking beer and eating hotdogs. Because that is what it has come to mean for so many of our fellow Americans.

To memorialize something is to “do or create something that causes people to remember (a person, thing, or event),” according to Merriam-Webster dictionary.

My son and his fellow Boy Scout troop members make annual pilgrimages to local Harrisburg cemeteries, and arrange flags on the graves of Veterans. The boys tidy up the graves, make sure the bronze emblems are correctly shown, and then they move on to the next.

This activity causes the boys who do this, and those who see the patriotic results, to actually memorialize the fallen heroes. And to me, every service woman and service man is a hero. Whether you see combat or not, whether the armed services gave you the step up you needed in life, or if the armed services were actually a digression for you, it makes no difference. Everyone who puts on an American armed services uniform is a hero, a patriot, and deserves to be memorialized.

Now and later.

The question that keeps rolling around in my head this week is “What will I do to mark this special holiday weekend?”

No, drinking beer won’t do it. Neither will eating hotdogs.

I will figure out something, and it may be as simple as leading our family in the Pledge of Allegiance to our great flag, which flies over our porch. But by God, I will remember, because if there is one thing I cannot do, it is take all this opportunity and wonder for granted.

If not for our armed services, America would not exist.

Thank you, women, and men, for your service.

***********************************************************

HEADQUARTERS GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC
General Orders No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868

1. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from hishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation’s gratitude, the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.

2. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to lend its friendly aid in bringing to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.

3. Department commanders will use efforts to make this order effective.

By order of

JOHN A. LOGAN,
Commander-in-Chief

N.P. CHIPMAN,
Adjutant General

Official:
WM. T. COLLINS, A.A.G.

 

Some reflections on yesterday’s Election Day results

Yesterday was Primary Election Day here in Pennsylvania, and I was up to my eyeballs in electioneering/ volunteering.

Setting aside politics yesterday after lunch time, I helped bury in the ground a beautiful and perfect 21-year-old young lady who was killed the day after graduating from the University of Miami. Her name is Elizabeth Goldenberg, and she was from nearby Hummelstown, practically a suburb of Harrisburg these days. As her sobbing parents and siblings stood by, a large and far-flung community gathered around to give support, caring, and sympathy.

Young Elizabeth was killed in a boating accident while touring the Everglades with her family. She went from award-winning sky-is-the-limit talent to snuffed out like a light switch had been pushed. She was a hugely positive force surrounded by affectionate people who basked in her glow.

In moments like this I question my faith, I question God, because I can think of plenty of bad people who deserve to die, and yet this perfect young person is prematurely cut down. It is the essence of makes no sense and unfair.

It is hard to shake that feeling, and so that is also my thinking about the politics results: a lot of it makes no sense and is patently unfair.

While it is true that all my candidates but one prevailed yesterday, three issues nag at my mind:

  1. Republican Establishment is still inflicting self-damage by protecting poor candidates who are weak go-along get-along types, while stopping strong candidates from getting ahead. We saw that with the county judicial endorsement. The Dauphin GOP continues to artificially undermine the strongest Republicans and thereby alienate conservative grass roots voters, which the party needs. Unfair and self-defeating.
  2. I feel bad for Josh Feldman, candidate for the Uptown Harrisburg magistrate position, held by Barb Pianka. Feldman is a recent transplant to this area, with no roots, and had done no work related to the job, and yet he threw himself into the fray at the urging of other people. You might say he was used to try and settle a political score. If you read this blog, then you know I played a role in that race. It still brings me no pleasure to have played that role, and now more than ever I feel bad for Mr. Feldman. Hopefully he is able to get over the hard work and big expenditures he invested and get back to his pet service business in one piece. Whoever encouraged you to run was not your friend, Josh. Unfair to the unsuspecting.
  3. All the mainstream media’s anti-Trump fake news and fake leaks and fake analysis and fake issues and fake chaos are aimed at one thing: Obfuscation and diversion, hindering President Trump from digging into the morass and removing the cancer. For fifty years the anti-America left (which is in many ways lead by the mainstream media) has quietly infiltrated and taken over a great deal of American government. Had Hillary Clinton been elected, those bureaucrats were all poised to get it over the goal line, a line of no return, and fully take control of America. If Trump is able to “drain the swamp,” then all of that effort will have been for naught. Impeachment? After 100 days in office? For what? How? After Hillary Clinton’s lying and cheating and sale of emails with secret classified information, and sale of key uranium stockpiles to the Russian government, no one is more due for a trial and jail than she. The US media has become a partisan machine disconnected from real journalism, and so they treat Trump and his supporters unfairly.

While shoveling dirt on sweet Elizabeth’s coffin yesterday, miserable at the unfairness of her death, I was also struck by how meaningless so much of our material life is, how much we Americans take for granted, how relatively easy our lives are, compared to how most other humans live, and how we so easily fill up our lives with stupid, shallow things.

What is most important are relationships: Relationships between old friends, family members who respect one another, business colleagues, neighbors, and so on. Appreciate what we have. Hold our loved ones tight. In the end, it’s all ya got.

 

See-Saw Reactions Indicate Something is Up

When a political party or a movement politicizes every single thing its opponents do, in the hopes of turning every action taken into a negative, you’ve already got a problem.

It is a problem because nothing positive is being sold. It’s just hate and anger and fake outrage piled on top of more and more hate.

Trying to demonize people has many downsides. It is emotionally unsustainable. And it is politically unsustainable. Just ask Adolf Hitler and his Nazi socialists, who perfected the heaping of hate upon their opponents.

Hitler and the Nazis reaped a whirlwind of backlash.

And the credibility gap grows, because the daily bobbing and weaving in search of an opening leads the accuser to become the blesser and vice versa. It looks nutty because it is nutty.

So we have Obama jetting around the planet to sell his carbon control message. The huge SUV convoys taking Obama from place to place aren’t low on carbon emissions, either.

His TV interviewer asks him why he is against eating meat because he has cooked “thousands of steaks” for Obama. Obama admits he sure likes steak.

In other words, don’t do as I do, do as I say.

Obama’s credibility may remain high with a small group of highly partisan hard leftists, but the rest of us shake our heads at his naked hypocrisy.

This Comey firing business is even worse, if it can be imagined.

For months and months, one American political party was demanding that Comey be fired. They blamed him for the loss of their candidate.

Then he gets fired by the president yesterday, and within an hour the same exact people who hated Comey and demanded his firing are now hating the president for firing him and are saying it is a political act.

This irrational hate isn’t just hypocritical. It is self-damaging, because normal people see it as nearly schizophrenic.

Someone quipped last week that Democrats are now so confused, if Trump came out for gun control, the Democrats would be “outraged” and immediately be against gun control.

Somewhere this acting and fake outrage works on people who are not independent thinkers. I understand that. Enough people anywhere simply follow the lead of someone, anyone, to make a real movement. Might only be five or ten percent of a society, but it is usually enough to raise hell. And that is what is happening here.

Folks, if you are reading this, I hope it is to expand your own thinking and not just to try to find fault. One of the huge challenges the left faces is the constant hatred expressed for people who simply disagree on policy. For decades the Left has been calling opponents haters, bigots, racists, xenophobes, sexists, etc., with no substance to back it up.  Just toxic hate.

What our nation loses when these illogical, erratic see-saw reactions and wild hateful accusations lose their sting isn’t just a diminished political party on the left, but the real issues suffer.  That is because the political mix and debate is reduced and the normal people somewhere in the middle back away, disgusted by the antics.

Don’t be a hater. Be a thinker. For a long time liberals were open minded, thoughtful, reflective, and analytical. That great tradition is gone. And that is sad, because all Americans are impoverished as a result.

First World Problem: Antique Arms Collectors Now Face Mostly Fakes

This headline is probably ho-hum to most people, at best.

To others, it is a “here we go again, another whine-fest by history buffs who spend their money badly on old rusty junk.”

But if you are indeed a history buff with a penchant for old weapons, both edged and those that go BOOM, you may be interested in this post.

My opinion is that most antique weapons collectors are facing an overwhelming amount of fakes.

Much more so with Japanese swords, so let’s discuss them first.

Used to be that finding a Gendaito blade was unusual; maybe one or two a year. Now, you go on eBay and find the same several sellers conveying dozens of them annually. Wakizashis, katanas, even various sized dirks and tantos etc.

These must all be fakes, as there simply were not this many Gendaito blades in existence before Chinese smiths began to create them in about 2011.  Having watched these counterfeits move at an ever brisker pace, I simply feel sad. At some point the uninformed collectors will discover their money has been taken for what is a very good reproduction that is probably worth a thousand bucks, simply because it is that good of a copy. But it ain’t real.

Smith-made (hand made art blades) Shinto blades also fall into this counterfeiting scam by the hundreds annually. Again, there simply were not as many of these blades surviving WWII as there are now for sale on eBay.

With guns, it is harder to fake than a sword, because a gun is obviously a gun. A Winchester 1873 is a Winchester 1873, and its condition usually dictates its value.

What makes some gun values go crazy high are rare or historic marks (the ubiquitous spurious stage coach markings on rabbit eared double shotguns being the best example), which can be easily faked by anyone with good control of a metal punch. This is true fakery and it is an area most collectors know about and do more diligence about.

But let’s talk about the area where it is harder to see what has happened, and harder to call it fakery, though it is: The collectible antique sporting rifles.

Demand is high for antique sporting rifles, because their modern day equivalents cost about $35,000 to start and easily get to $100,000 and much, much higher. So in that context, it “makes sense” to pay $5,000 to $20,000 for an antique sporting firearm that functions as it should, rather than several times that amount for a brand new one that goes BOOM just like or nearly like the old one.

Antique sporting rifles are getting lots and lots of makeovers, both in England and here in America. They are marketed at auction and on websites as having been “period upgraded” or “period refurbished” (say from the 1870s to 1930s), when in fact they were very recently “tarted up” by a gunsmith to heighten their attractiveness to unknowing, unquestioning collectors.

I recently purchased – and immediately returned – such a rifle.

Oh it was a rare dandy, and looking past the hyperbole on the well-known seller’s website, which included an obviously fraudulent claim of “original condition,” there was still a fine gun that could take an American bison or a grizzly. If it worked the simple way a rifle should work, it was the gun of a lifetime. In a rare, hard-hitting caliber that I wanted.

So, I busted a move on it.

After joking on the phone with the salesman about the obviously fake claims of original condition, the seller and I eventually reached agreement on price, and the gun arrived in a couple days. Right out of its original 1895 leather and brass case with the original owner’s name and military rank on it (God, what a case!), the red flags were popping up: Improperly refinished wood had pulled the stock away from the receiver, leaving the stock to accept the heavy recoil on only one side.This meant the stock would crack soon after use.

A punch mark on the barrel lump was testimony to the cheap and meaningless effort to temporarily tighten the otherwise loose action. The list of el cheapo work went on. Yes, the bores were immaculate, but the fact is that this gun had been recently “tarted up” for re-sale, and it had been worn down quite a bit recently. Worn down more by the nature of its heavy caliber than by any misuse by previous owners.

Had the seller simply disclosed these facts, I might have made a more informed decision, and he would have received less money. We would have had full disclosure and an honest exchange. But within 48 hours of receiving it, I drove the gun all the way back to the sales room, three hours away, where the sales manager and the business owner tried to talk me out of the return. The refund check arrived ten days later, with none of the additional costs I incurred like shipping, transfer, gunsmith evaluation etc. They knew full well what had been done to that gun, and they simply got caught, and they punished me by withholding cash they should have covered.

This is one of the big names in high end gun sales.

Today I am looking at another uncommon rifle on a well known auction site. The gun has clearly been recently overhauled for re-sale. The wood finish is as bright and shiny as the new wood floor in a brand new home. The metal finishes look like they were done weeks ago, and not the 117 years ago that is the actual age of the gun. Yet it is marketed as having a “period” refurbish. Rubbish! Nonsense! Buyer be super aware!

This is not total fakery, as no fake numbers or markings have been punched into the metal or wood. Custer did not purportedly grasp this gun as he fell at the Little Big Horn.

Instead, until a few months ago, this gun’s metal parts were probably a mix of silvered and plum finishes, the welcome, honest patinas of hundreds of days afield in India or Africa, or the Scottish Highlands, chasing big game in the hands of a British, Indian, or Scottish Man of Importance. Until months ago, the wood probably looked like hell, was beat to hell, dented, dinged, and scratched, each a story in itself. Not any more! Now it looks so fake and shiny it about blinds the eye.

Shame, too, because under the fakery is a really cool gun.

Apparently the sellers believe that hiring “gunsmiths” to do quick and dirty upgrades to these collectible old sporting arms is more important than selling the actual honest gun, with its actual original wear and condition.

This means the sellers have gullible buyers who ascribe too much weight to new and fresh appearance, when the opposite is true: An original condition gun that has not been butchered or fooled with by a modern day “gunsmith” is actually more valuable.

The key to fending off the faking is educating new gun collectors and buyers to understand this fact: Fresh, new looking antique guns have been shined up to turn them into shiny objects. Don’t be a foolish fish and bite on them, unless you recognize a) what they are, and b) there are probably problems covered up by the new “improvements” that would have been addressed 100 years ago, but are now papered over, and thus, you are not getting what you paid for.

And as for the Japanese swords out there on eBay, man, what can be said? Be super wary. Ask yourself simple questions about production numbers, survivor numbers, and then answer your own question: How on earth is this one seller repeatedly finding so many of these should-be rare swords? Is every American veteran selling his prized Japanese sword to just these few dealers?

You know the answers to these questions. Run away, and hold on to your money.

In closing, buyer beware. Because there are gullible collectors willing to part with their money, there are unscrupulous sellers willing to sell them things that simply cannot be true. It behooves the smart man to ask the simple questions before biting.

Good luck and be patient!