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I am so post-socialism now

Socialism and its sisters communism, collectivism, authoritarianism, mass murder, and tyranny have never proven fun or beneficial for anyone but a chosen tiny handful, who lord it over the unfortunates below. Venezuela is the latest example of what socialism really is, no matter how many college professors tell you how wonderful it is: Violent poverty and no human rights. Socialist Russia and communist China have the worst environmental records and situations, because under socialism, there is no incentive to clean up the environment.

For the occasional Millennial who may accidentally be reading this essay, the words written above mean that under socialism, you don’t get to pick your healthcare system (like Obama promised when selling his not-free-for-all centralized healthcare system snake oil), you don’t get to keep your doctor (also like Obama promised), you don’t get to choose your friends (most will be carted off to jail and then disappeared), and you certainly don’t get an iPhone and a five dollar latte, ever. In other words, everything you take for granted right now is stuff you will never ever see in a socialist country.

And so, dear Millennial, you should know that after eight years of Obama’s effort to implement socialism at every level of America, which required him to lie a lot, and after three years of Trump’s fantastic economic revival, I find myself feeling so, so post-socialism.

I say this, even though it puts me at odds with a fad that has recently emerged on the left, where people loudly proclaim they are “post-capitalism.” While they simultaneously and shamelessly use capitalist medicine, drive capitalist cars, wear capitalist clothing, live in capitalist buildings, drink capitalist five dollar lattes, endlessly text on capitalist smart phones, and eat capitalist food.

So OK, aside from the clean abundant food, the best medicine, the nicest buildings, the clean water, the clean air, the clean environment, the fuel efficient vehicles, and the best clothing, yeah, I guess capitalism sucks…like that old Winston Churchill line that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others…or like that scene from The Life of Brian, where Monty Python’s cast members recite a litany of popular improvements the Romans brought to Judea…”but what have the Romans ever done for us?

The fact is, capitalism creates the best situation for the most people out of all the alternative forms of government (free choice). Capitalism has its weaknesses, but compared to all the alternatives, it is the best arrangement. We have seen this proven over and over. And it is proven by the fact that none zero nada of the “post capitalism” advocates are actually living socialist lives.

And that is why this bizarre “post-capitalism” posturing and virtue signaling has always mystified me; you know, the Che Guevara tee shirt wearers using their parents’ credit cards to pay for everyday things that no socialist or communist country ever had or ever will have. Or the socialist child climate activist barking at adults about the choices they make, while herself jet-setting around the world using capitalist planes trains automobiles and boats, and leaving a one-week carbon footprint bigger than my entire lifetime will be.

So I am over it, that socialism thing. Too much hypocrisy, too many lies.

Socialism sucked during the Obama administration, and watching newly socialist Venezuela crash and burn now is painful. As we learned during the Obama years, it is not cool or hip to say you are socialist, it is actually very stupid. And if you have a college professor or three who tells you socialism is great, then ask them to prove themselves correct by immediately living the socialist lifestyle. You know, give it all up, practice what you preach. Push come to shove, when those beret-wearing fake educators are put on the spot, you will find that deep down, those Che-lovin’ professors are actually so, so post-socialism, too.

It’s natural to be post socialism, because socialism is naturally bad for you.

Photo of Chinese military summarily executing an unarmed civilian who has not had a fair trial, for some imagined crime that only threatened the power of the state. This is socialism, and you should be post-socialism

In a socialist country, you can earn the death penalty by simply speaking your mind, by disagreeing with the official government positions

Strangely, China makes pretty young women about to die get dressed up before they get on their knees and are shot in the back of the head. Who knows what this unhappy young woman did to earn such a violent death, but we know she had zero due process. Socialism

socialism

same lady who is kneeling in front of the soldier above. Socialism is cool, right? No?

Nice ladies in a socialist country about to be executed on their knees. Is this what young Americans think is just fine? Do you drink $5 lattes and watch your friends get executed for fun?

this is the lady kneeling above and then with her head blown in half, as she is being taken off the truck to her execution. In socialist countries, you can easily earn the death penalty for simply disagreeing with a leader’s opinions. Not in America! So why is America supposed to be turned socialist?

about John Bolton’s departure from government

John Bolton has been a Washington, DC, fixture since I was in college, which is a long long time ago. He has held a number of high level government jobs in that long time, as well as the usual garden variety of middlin’ roles that regular revolving door people in DC have. Like mid-level government, academic, lobbying, and think tank jobs.

And all that time John Bolton has been a staunch, unabashed defender of America and American interests.

John Bolton was our hero when he worked for the last Bush administration and he took on the gun prohibitionists at the United Nations. That was a proud day for America, with Bolton at the podium, when American government told European tyrants that one of the great defining characteristics of America is the right and the ability of our people to make an effective armed revolt against our own government, and so No, we would not be signing their small arms treaty as a back door way to strip American citizens of their Constitutional rights.

Over the past year or two, US National Security Advisor John Bolton has been hugely criticized by conservatives for being a war hawk, someone too eager to use full American force at the drop of a hat. A warmonger some call him.

“We are so tired of wars. We are not the world’s police man,” goes one refrain, which on its face certainly makes sense, within certain basic parameters.

Another common refrain which does not make sense goes “Iran is not a threat to America, and we should do everything we can to avoid war with Iran.”

Thus, with that second refrain, anyone promoting a strong deterrent policy and posture with Iran, like John Bolton, is automatically risking another Mid East war, which we are told, we absolutely must avoid at all costs. Apparently even at the cost of letting Iran nuke a few of our major cities.

The left-right crossover by these so-called anti-war conservatives is fascinating to me, and Bolton became the friction plane for where their war-weary criticism met the Trump Administration’s foreign policy activities. As a Bush II legacy, Bolton reminded everyone too much of poorly implemented wars, in which the USA rules of engagement put our warriors’ lives and limbs at unnecessary risk, and where America foolishly sought to implement a second Marshall Plan, this time in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Like Bolton, I also say Give War a Chance, but let it always be total war, uninhibited war, completely and immediately successful war, not the war of namby pamby uniparty globalists worried about how America will be perceived poorly as some sort of meany arch defender of its own interests. Hell, Russia, Turkey, Iran, and China do not give a damn about how anyone else perceives their pursuit of their national interests. They do whatever they want, come hell or high water, with a lot of extra brutality thrown in, just so the defeated remember the high price of resisting.

So, in turn, I believe, America should be just as ruthless and just as bold as they, our main competitors, if we are to survive them. John Bolton was a proud promoter of this stance. He believes in America, a successful, strong, defiant America.

It is certain that Bolton was a nettlesome cowboy inside the Trump Administration. He was well suited to the first year or two of this administration, when America was being felt abroad for the first time in decades, but Bolton was not a good fit in the third or fourth years, where Trump is beginning to tame the bureaucracy and bring his own more nuanced policies to bear. Anyone with a huge manly mustache like Bolton has, in this day and age, is living in the 1950s past, where mustachioed gunslingers in chaps and dusty cowboy hats still represented the best that America had been and the best that she still could be.

It is no surprise that Bolton was taken down by Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State, because no matter who runs the State Department, they all at that agency are always the weanies, the wimps, the “war-no-more” tip-toeing weasel fairies of our foreign touch. Everyone at the State Department believes fervently that all our conflicts can be resolved amicably, if America just gives in and gives away enough of its own interests.

On the other hand, every day he was on the job John Bolton was leading the US cavalry straight up San Juan Hill with the American flag in his left hand and a smoking Colt .45 revolver in his right. I will miss the guy.

John Bolton’s approach to American foreign policy: TR’s famous charge up San Juan Hill with the Rough Riders

 

The US State Department: Obsequious weasel with a toothy beaming sycophantic smile looking perky and wide eyed, always

Happy Economy: Consumers & Local Banks vs. The World

The US economy is strong, and it has been strong since a flood of consumer confidence swept in behind a new president who ushered in to a miserable bipartisan vacuum a refreshing cleansing confidence.

Added to that confidence was –and very much is– a renewed pride in America, in being American, and in American-made products. By mid-2017 a sense of 1950s community once lost and now found again birthed a strong antidote to Obama’s “new normal” of slow American decline.

And we can’t just blame Obama. Yes, Obama hates America and did everything he could to destroy our nation from inside and outside. But he was helped significantly by ye olde typical career Republicans who saw money to be made in America’s decline, just as there was money to be made in its growth. But growth is harder, and why work hard if you don’t really have to, they reasoned. Either way, growth or defeat, the big money Republicans bought their many pet congressmen to safeguard their investments and stood by watching as they hit big on a global economy shifting from their American home turf to China, India, the EU, and other undeserving recipients of America’s health.

In fact, America’s veins were opened up and flowing out. Our life force was draining away, and a host of hungry nations were perched around us, like vultures, picking away at the juicy scraps that fell from our Rust Belt homes and boarded up churches. Both Democrats and Republicans were pumping away, pushing our citizens’ energy force, our very national being, into the waiting mouths of so many other nations. And so our American economy had sputtered, dying

That is, until Trump inspired US consumers, and the local banks they work with and rely upon to take what are big steps in their quality of life.

And so like a thing alive, the American economy has powered forward like it has not moved in decades. And why would the economy not be alive? Our collective economy is us, of us, an organic part of us and an extension of us. America has a sense of good health again, and so it follows that our economy is healthy again, too. And it is getting stronger, despite transparent and treasonous attempts to destroy our economy by the Democrat Party and everyone else allied with them, including the governments and industries of China and Russia.

It is sickening that an entire American political party will do everything it can to badmouth, damage or destroy America’s economy simply in order to artificially malign a president they oppose. The cost to America is enormous! Then again, this is the same political party that advocates for illegal invaders over American citizens, for law-breakers and against law-followers, that claims Social Security will be tossed overboard by the other political party and then does everything in its power to give all of our Social Security money to their new chums, the illegal invaders.

So yes, I guess destroying America’s economy and hurting the American citizens standing in the way is to be expected from the Democrat Party and their communications arm, the Mainstream Media.

One discrete sector of the national economy that is changing is the timber industry. When four hundred million (400,000,000 !) middle-income Chinese aspire to own the nice kitchens and hardwood floors that define comfortable life in America, a huge sucking sound can be heard ’round the world as unquantifiable amounts of natural resources are pulled in to that huge nation. And when the Chinese economy began to falter in early 2018, even before the tariff battle, the Chinese domestic demand for American timber dried up. We then learned in late 2018 that the red oak, residual ash, and black walnut that had been bringing us huge export revenue but which were then beginning to stack up in East Coast log yards were not once destined for Chinese factories re-exporting their finished goods back to America. No, those logs and lumber were being used up domestically in China, as China grew its own middle-income population. A population that is now up against the ropes and cannot buy American hardwoods that make pretty kitchens and flooring.

Accordingly the American timber industry is going through a shake-up due to the way timber buyers invested and spent. The fact is that even as they close in China, new cabinet and flooring factories are opening up in several other Asian countries.

And so now on the battlefield it is the confident American consumer and her local bank officers standing strong against the evil political tide that seeks to reverse what has been accomplished, just begun really, since November 2016.  It is happy healthy family and local community versus a global colossus hungry for endless cash, endless money, endless wealth, at any cost, and a domestic political party hungry for power at any cost, even the cost of individual liberties and American success.

In this fight I put my money on the American consumer, not just because I think she is a tough and hard working bunch, but because I am an American. I want her– you, me, us — to win this fight.

Trump’s America-First Economy Throws Beautiful Curveball to Wall Street

Trade wars were supposed to be a thing of the past, as America had settled into a long, slow decline and eventual death at the hands of our erstwhile trading “partners,” who had been sucking at the USA teat for fifty years. America underwrote the settlement of World War II for Europe and Japan, and suffered as a result. But we thought we were too big to fail, and so we persisted.

And for those of more modern thoughts and memories, recall that for eight years Obama had placed both of his hands on the foreign side of the trade scale in an attempt to accelerate this decline. That eight year stagnant situation, combined with explosive growth in government power and conversely diminished citizen power, while shipping our factories abroad with new rust belt towns popping up all over America was the “new normal.”

And why not end America’s supremacy like this? Under both major political parties America’s trade imbalances were so egregiously bad, so bad for American citizens, for so long, because everyone else was gaining. Officially buoyed up by post-WWII economic theory and political economy theory that placed great value on some vague, never-defined world-wide “stability,” all underwritten by Americans. In funding that stability through sacrifice of our national interest, the theory went, the world was a safer, better place. America was sharing its wealth, buying peace, by keeping everyone else busy making money. Well, let’s be honest here: America’s workers were shifting their wealth to China, and Mexico, and India, and Europe, and Canada, while Wall Street made money no matter what. Wall Street hedge funds betting on and therefore for the failure of American businesses, against American interests, for the misspending of our tax dollars, are the classic example of this bizarre arrangement.

And around this asymmetrical arrangement developed asymmetrical ways of analyzing, tracking, predicting, and valuing economic activity. Like the DOW and other Wall Street measures of economic health. They have been tracking signs of a stable American decline, a drip drip drip bloodletting, not true growth, but rather how much tax money can be wrung or coerced from The People and conveyed to big businesses, not measuring actual value created from investment in our people and their jobs, but rather value on paper or digital.

And then along comes President Trump and his America-first economy, which at its core is the valuation and promotion of you, me and every other American citizen.

By demanding that America simply have equal trade with everyone else, and that it cease bleeding for the world’s benefit, and that we get as much coming in as we have going out or some approximation of that natural policy, President Trump has up-ended 75 years of screwy policy and screwy measures of success. It is that simple, and yet it is such a beautiful curve ball thrown to Wall Street.

Just look at how the tariffs on China have rattled Wall Street’s skewed measures of success, and stability. By America suddenly succeeding in the simplest way, and you and I having more opportunity, more money, Wall Street actually says our economy is down. Well, no, Wall Street, we the people are doing better, even if you are not. And isn’t it interesting that Wall Street was doing fantastic when Americans were degraded and doing poorly…

There’s an old saying that you’ll never beat the Irish, and in turn, you know you can’t beat Yankee ingenuity or will power, either. Americans will never be defeated, unless we decide to defeat ourselves. We came close, oh yes, we almost committed national suicide. But President Trump has shown us a better way, a way of national life.

It is a new day in America, and new beginning, Wall Street be damned.

Red oak and rain: Taking a strong economy for now while America fights for an even better future

Our present tariff battle with communist China has some personal pain associated with it, but I and everyone in business I deal with say we are ready and willing to put up with it for the long term betterment of America.

“I am just sitting here watching the rain come down,” says ‘D’, a young forester I have worked with for almost twenty years.

A super hard worker, risk taker, and fourth generation forester\logger (he is the first in his family to have a college degree, and in fact he has a Masters in Forestry), ‘D’ has a young family to feed and a great deal of investment in time, equipment, and standing timber that he cannot do anything with, or earn money with, so long as it rains.

With incessant rain like we had throughout 2018 and now well into 2019, most forestry operations stop. Marking timber on steep mountain sides, building roads into timber, cutting, skidding, and hauling timber just is not safe or environmentally possible in rain. Then, as a result, the sawmills slow down. They cannot get the trees they need to make the hardwood lumber products so much of America and the world require for flooring, cabinetry, moulding, doors, tables, furniture, etc.

But the rain is only part of the pressure on the timber industry.

Almost half of Pennsylvania’s hardwood timber economy is comprised of the red oak tree, which grows a beautiful wood used around the world. Until the tariff spat began last year, China was the primary destination for almost all of Pennsylvania’s red oak. China took our exported red oak logs and manufactured all kinds of wood products that they then sold back to American companies. When the tariffs started to bite in 2018, demand for red oak logs began to slow, because Chinese companies could not afford to compete on that new level playing field. Their own tariffs on manufactured American goods had protected them from competition, and so with tariffs on their products, their own manufacturing slowed down, and their decreased need for raw materials followed. A year later, the demand for red oak lumber has nearly died. Spectacular high quality red oak trees, that six months ago were highly sought after in a fiercely competitive free market, are now being turned into railroad ties and pallet wood (some wood workers specialize in making beautiful furniture from homely oak pallets; well, guys, get ready for a whole lot of very nice red oak pallets to become available).

Standing red oak trees have lost over half their value since this time last year, and as a result, roughly a third of Pennsylvania’s powerful hardwood lumber industry is at a stand-still, with landowners, foresters, loggers, and sawmills trying to figure out how to make up that lost productive time, and lost revenue, and to find another tree species to take the place of the red oak.

Back to the rain… the forest products industry can weather this storm, as well as the tariff tiff with China.

“It’s for the best, for a better America, a better economic future for all of us” says Mike, a heavy equipment operator from Renovo, Pennsylvania, to me this morning, as he finally found time to discuss a timber project we have together, and the China tariff effects on it.

Mike, too, is stalled out temporarily by the non-stop rains, and he is also bitten by the temporarily slow red oak market.

“It hurts, but we needed to do these tariffs,” says Mike.

“It’s sacrifice and pain now, so that America will have an even better economy in the future,” says ‘D’.

I feel the same way. Pain and sacrifice, risk taking and hard work, all for a better future for us and our children. We will all be creative and find ways to make a living; after all, overall the economy is very strong.

Carry on, Mister President. We understand what you are doing and why you are doing it. The tariffs hurt, but we support you.  It is about damned time that someone in Washington, DC, gave a crap about our country and we people who labor out of sight in flyover country.

Logger “Pete” takes a breakfast break on his log landing. A tough, super hard working little Irishman from central Pennsylvania, it’s Americans like Pete who keep our economy going from the ground up

Fair trade, Yes

Historically, free trade American-style has come at a huge price to Americans.

Often defined by the same unsustainable standards that bring us endless illegal immigration today, free trade agreements between America and our trading partners have always treated America as a bottomless wallet. America could “afford” to give up more and absorb more costs, just because we were so rich and so great and kind-hearted (went the thinking, even among American decision makers).

America never got the “free” or even the good end of “free trade,” and it always got the burden of abiding by external tariffs on American goods and internal dumping that we could not legally identify, that enable our trading partners to undercut American-made prices every single time, no matter what the item.

So now there is a debate about how trading relationships between America and the world should be structured. If China, for example, has big tariffs on American goods, then it stands to reason that we Americans would benefit from placing similar tariffs on imported Chinese crap. Right?

I mean, fair is fair is fair. If one party can do it, the other can do it, too.

People treat one another fairly every day, and each side benefits in the way that they see fit for themselves. It is a good way to run a relationship.

Thus is fair trade born. The idea that trade ought to be fair, just straight up balanced without artificial contrivances giving one side an unfair advantage, based on symmetrical relationships and transparent production costs.

For example, China tolerates no equal opportunity hiring laws, no environmental laws, no workman’s compensation laws, no feminist demands for equal pay, etc. Chinese citizens who advocate for those things are either shot or jailed. Under those artificial conditions, China is able to produce almost any item far cheaper than Americans, who must comply with all of these laws and social pressures, and much, much more.

On top of that starting point, China will dump its own products at below-cost prices, just to swamp the competition and drive them out of business.

Fair trade tolerates none of this make-believe.

If China, again just as an example, wants to sell us a car here in America, fine. Sell it. Ship them over, and let’s see what the market will bear. But if we want to sell cars in China, by gosh, let us sell them there, for whatever the market will bear.

Free trade is one of those theoretical ideas that never really happens, try as one might. Like the magical unicorn under a rainbow, it paints a pretty picture, but it is mostly myth or fantasy.

Fair trade, yes.

So, so many fake Japanese swords

A quick ebay search for “gendaito” results in dozens of purported Japanese katanas for sale.

Hand-made “art sword” gendaitos were very few in number to begin with, maybe a few thousand by 1944, and after 1945, when Japanese swords of all qualities were being melted down, there were a lot fewer left.

When I began collecting antique Japanese swords in 1993, it was a pretty structured environment with plenty of Vet bring-backs available through newspaper ads and at gun shows. But most of those swords were basic Showa shin-Shinto machine made swords of solid stock. Created en masse for Japanese NCOs, they were the great bulk of “samurai” type swords captured and brought back to England and America after WWII. Though justifiably iconic in their own right, as they are beautiful weapons by design, none of them were art swords. None were made by hand in 1562 by a famous swordsmith.

Enter China. And with her came all kinds of fakery of every kind of antique collectible you could ever want. Guns, swords, knives, bayonets, not to mention shoes, purses, clothes etc. The first faked Japanese swords from China were easy to spot. Some were laughably crude, some were pretty good but either missing or overplaying critical aspects of real antique Japanese swords. Either way, only the most gullible or inexperienced buyers took them.

Today, however, you can find practically mint condition gendaito or older swords, with a nice new reddish rust on the tang, selling for half or a third of what such swords used to bring. Lots of them. Most of these fake blades are in authentic WWII military fittings, giving them a false air of authenticity.

The reason for the price drop is that so many fake Japanese swords have been brought to market that the natural demand and market absorption is oversaturated. Thus, supply exceeds demand, and price drops accordingly. Greedy dealers looking to enrich themselves at the expense of  would-be collectors have driven this dynamic.

Oh, there is a demand out there for real Japanese swords. People from all walks of life recognize how perfect these edged weapons are, and how refined and representative they are of the warrior ethos. Japanese swords are iconic, and therefore inspiring. They bring a lot of happiness to their owners, if only to serve as reminders of the old ways, like when men were men.

But sword dealers have now definitely overplayed their hand. The evidence of this fakery is overwhelming.

There is not only no possible way that one dealer can have so many authentic Japanese swords for sale at any one time, and there are dozens of dealers each stocked to the gills with fake swords being represented as authentic antiques, there is no possible way that this many authentic antique Japanese swords were ever available at one time in any one market, except maybe on the entire island of Japan in 1944.

After 1944 and Japan’s fall, swords were outlawed by the Allies, and they were destroyed by the thousands. Just like fabulous rifles in Germany and Austria were destroyed by the Allies. Though highly lamentable, it was all done to protect our troops. Very few Japanese swords or German rifles made it out alive, so to speak.

If I were to describe the ways these fake swords leap off the virtual pages of ebay and other sellers and scream “I am a fake,” I’d write a book. However, I’m just disgusted by it all, and writing a book is not in my future. However, here are some things to look out for: 1) tangs that have reddish rust. A true old worn rust is tough to fake. 2) file marks on tangs running the wrong way. 3) Tang inscriptions that are either perfect or that are cut over the defined edges. 4) Blades that are perfect, or that have a perfect yakiba or perfect hamon. This is the biggest red flag of all. Most Vet bring-backs were abused by the soldiers themselves, through horseplay. The swords were then used by kids in the 1950s for horseplay and cutting experiments. These swords were not then that valuable or collectible, so they were rarely protected from use or abuse. They were simply the artifacts and relics of brutal, cruel, sad warfare that their captors wished to forget. So to see so many shiny, smooth, perfect blades represented as antiques is a huge red flag. Very very few actual antique Japanese swords made it to 2017 unscathed, either through actual battle use or more likely, through abuse in American backyards at the hands of playful boys or demonstrative uncles in the 1950s-1970s. To see such incredibly distinct hamons on so many “antique” Japanese swords is a huge red flag. A real antique blade will naturally lose its luster over time, and the hardened cutting edge will follow that process, to the point where it becomes faint and barely distinct. Most blades will show clear splotches, discoloration, some rust, from having sat in a basement or living room for 70 years.

Guys, it’s tough to say this, but a lot of you are buying fake Japanese swords that are in reality made recently in China for the American collector market. It’s cliche, but caveat emptor. Ask yourself and your seller some really basic questions. The most important question to a seller being: How on earth do you keep finding these very rare swords, in such high quantities, in such incredibly good condition, to sell at such low prices?

You know the answer, or at least you should know it. The sad answer is the sad fact that it appears about 90% to 95% of the purported antique Japanese swords being sold today are fakes, most likely of recent Chinese origin (Pakistanis are getting better at making old looking edged weapons, too).

Do your research. Think hard about how each sword now for sale made its way to market. You’ll come to the natural and healthy conclusion. And you’ll run away, and save your money for real antiques.

Japanese swords — caveat emptor

Taking breathers from political screeds may be rare here, but this is an oddball necessity. One cannot see bloodthirsty fakery and sit silently.

To wit: A lot of guys collect old militaria. Swords, bayonets, guns, helmets, etc. Cool stuff. Inspiring. Evocative of sacrifice and bravery.

Most of this rusty old junk is tough to fake, and even more to the point, pointless to fake, as the rip-off scheme costs more than the item is worth.

Except in the world of old Japanese swords.

The iconic katana and wakizashi have been sought after for decades as both extremely appealing for a red-blooded man to look at, and as artwork; refined craftsmanship that’ll easily cut off an arm. What normal guy wouldn’t be attracted to such art?!

For the past ten years or a bit more, a certain well known, popular, big auction site on the internet has been filled with many obviously faked Japanese swords and daggers. There were and still are some for sale in the past week and presently, hawked as “gendaito” in shingunto mounts. These would be valuable hand-made art blades holstered in relatively rudimentary war-time (WWII) scabbards that saw service in the field. If they were actually old and authentic.

But these are not authentic, historic blades. They were made recently and are being sold as old.

So sad to see such obviously faked signatures, and faked blades, set into authentic WWII mounts and carriers, with blazingly brand-new shirasaya! It’s an obviously winning combination, as buyers pay thousands of dollars for something worth a few hundred at most.

C’mon guys. Use your heads. Do your research. How many gendaito blades really made it out, after WWII? So many that individual sellers seem to constantly, endlessly pull them out like white rabbits from black hats?

Alarm bells not going off?

If your hearts weren’t telling you Yes, your eyes would be telling you “FAKE!”

Run. Run away fast from these too-good-to-be-true bargains with new handles, purposeful minor scuffs, and signatures so clearly punched in by a modern Chinaman, not a Nipon-To maker sitting cross legged eighty years ago.

If nothing else, demand NHTK papers with each sword. Or consider your investment wasted. Sorry to say.

This Public Service Announcement has been brought to you by a fellow dude.

Kudos to Filson clothing

Filson is a clothing manufacturer in Seattle, making pretty much the most basic American clothing styles for the past 130 years.

Little has changed in their styles or fabrics. Boring? Maybe.

Flannel and wool shirts, wool and canvas coats and pants, wool long underwear, leather boots with wool insulation, tote and carry bags and purses, every item is made in America of virgin wool or different weights of canvas.

One short phrase describes Filson products: Brutally tough.

Or, “Last a lifetime.”

In an era of cheap Chinese crap and Asian sweatshop “designer” clothes, Filson stands alone, or probably alone. I am a consumer of top-quality outdoor clothing, and I cannot think of another manufacturer who makes anything like Filson’s clothing line.

Oh, sure, there are plastic and Gore Tex outdoor clothes galore. Eddie Bauer, LL Bean, Mountain Hard Wear, and others make some pretty good ones, which our family wears. Fleece coats, mountaineering parkas, super-sophisticated PhD plastic fiber clothes for the outdoor lifestyle. Some are married to goose down, which is genuinely warm.

But all of these synthetics catch on fire and turn the wearer into a large, running, screaming torch when exposed to flame. Or at the least they wilt, melt, smell very bad, and cease being useful when exposed to a camp fire hot enough to dry your damp undies and wet socks. In other words, the newfangled modern synthetics may weigh next to nothing and stop wind faster than a speeding bullet and locomotive, but they lack certain basic physical properties necessary to truly enjoy or survive the outdoors.

Wool and waxed heavy cotton canvas are nearly fireproof and can withstand tremendous force before tearing. Wool keeps the wearer warm even when wet. Yes, it is heavy compared to synthetics, but it is a lot quieter, actually it is silent, whereas even the best of synthetic fleece hunting clothes will leave a telltale “zip” sound when dragged across a sharp branch.

Filson forms a big part of my winter clothing selection. Mackinaw vests and coats of different colors and patterns form the core of the selection, and the double mackinaw coat in “Pennsylvania Tuxedo” red-and-black buffalo check plaid has kept me toasty warm in sub-zero temperatures day after day. This past week I wore the double mackinaw coat while flintlock hunting, and I never got cold. It was sub-zero every day.

Other wool clothes I wear are heavy camouflage Columbia hunting pants, Bass Pro Redhead heavy wool socks, Danner wool socks, knee-high SmartWool ski and hunting socks, and SmartWool long underwear. Yes, once in a while I break out the Eddie Bauer and Woolrich Adirondock plaid pants, jackets, and so on. They are real testaments to a world long gone, which dinosaurs like me cling to in misty eyed memories.

David Petzal is the gun writer for Field and Stream Magazine, and among many other witticisms and pithy one-liners, years ago he noted that all synthetic long underwear makes you smell like someone slaughtered a cow after a day, but wool long underwear can be worn for days without you or them being cleaned, and yet you don’t smell…too badly.

That’s the thing. Wool is natural. Like leather and fur, it is natural and fits the human body perfectly. We can sweat into wool for days on a hunt, and it just doesn’t smell bad. Oh, it may not smell fresh, but compared to the polypropylene synthetics, it does.

My Filson Mackinaw coat accompanies me on all my Adirondack wilderness hunts, serving as a blanket at night when the temperature inside the tent dips to 18 degrees. And yet after many years of being worn through thorn patches and rugged mountain brush, it shows zero signs of wear. That says it all.

Other favorites include the now discontinued styles of Tin Cloth logging jacket and Double Tin field coat, both of which I wear when hunting for small game in January and February, when thorns are a big part of the day. Some of these discontinued tin cloth coats have become collector’s items. Each one will last you your entire lifetime, and if you wax it at the end of the season, it will serve your kids, too.

So, kudos to Filson for making Best-quality, “old fashioned” clothing for a tech-happy generation. www.filson.com

Hallelujah, fur is back in style

A wonderful evening stroll down Fifth Avenue reveals that among the world’s top fashion professionals, natural fur has made a 100% comeback.

Clothing that even I recognize and admire as stunningly beautiful is covered, trimmed, made of, and surrounded by natural furs from many species of animals.

Recall that animal fur was denigrated as cruelly gotten, and bored activists would scream at people wearing fur, sometimes throwing red dye on them. The shallow activists never addressed how their leather shoes and belts and purses and car seats squared up with their public opposition to people wearing other sorts of animal skins.

If hypocrisy is a hallmark of screechy activists, fur was the best example.

Fur is, after all, natural, biodegradable, renewable, and under modern wildlife laws, sustainable. Those are all rare qualities in a world filled with cheap plastic junk manufactured in an enormous prison camp called China.

The luxurious furs I looked at represented incredible skill. From the trappers who artfully snared the critters without damaging the pelt, to the tanners who carefully turned them into soft leather capable of being worked, to the cutters and seamstresses who took the supple leather (with the hair on, like a cow hide) and turned them into gorgeous clothes, throws, and warm accoutrements, the entire process is a long chain of long-enduring skills and appreciation of natural beauty and utility.

If fur was long politically incorrect, but now it is acceptable among the PC elites who run the fashion industry, what does this say about the philosophical leanings of the individuals behind this surge? One cannot help but think that the many gay men in the fashion industry, once emancipated in general society, would eventually hew to a more pragmatic view of life and politics.

After all, once you own a home and work for people willing to spend thousands of dollars on a single garment, you really do have a stake in the capitalist enterprise.

Perhaps the fur on display at Bergdorf Goodman, Saks, and other stores I looked at is a social statement by a bunch of quiet pragmatists, who have also had it with the faux anger and the overwrought hostility and the ubiquitous unhappiness that characterize Leftist politics.

Well done, chums.

And as a pretty bad but committed trapper myself, thank you.