Archive for February, 2011

Land navigation skills: magnetic declination

24 February 2011 3 comments

Go out some clear night with your compass. Look up and find the North Star. Draw an imaginary line from the North Star to the horizon, intersecting it at a right angle. Make note of some landmark at that point. Now take your compass and establish a bearing to 0 degrees, noting some landmark at that point. You’ll note, if you’re careful, that the landmark you noted from the position of Polaris is offset from the other landmark by a small amount, usually five to ten degrees. The difference between the two is called magnetic declination. It occurs because of a number of factors, including the location and movement of magnetic material in Earth’s crust and core.

If the magnetic north is east of the geographic north, then the declination is positive; if it is west of geographic north, it is negative. The reason we care about declination is that while our maps are drawn with reference to true north, our compasses always point to magnetic north. When using them together, we just need to add or subtract the declination to get the true bearing.

If your declination is 5 degrees west, and your travel bearing is 275 degrees true, then add five degrees from your magnetic bearing to get the proper reading for the compass (280 degrees).

If your declination is 5 degrees east, and your travel bearing is 204 degrees true, then subtract five degrees from your magnetic bearing to get the proper reading for the compass (199 degrees).

Finally, NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center gathers data about magnetic declination and maintains a database here. Get in the habit of checking your maps against their data periodically, and updating as necessary.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , ,

CBS is the broken clock of network news

I’m guessing you probably missed this, since it was on the CBS Evening News, last known infamously for making up documents with MS Word 1968 back in the 2004 election. Personally, except for a handful of incidents I can count on one hand, I haven’t watched evening network news since I was a boy, but as they say, a broken clock is right twice a day.

(Dangit, WordPress is not letting me embed the video. Watch it here.)

Now, remember what happened when Larry Pratt went on Fox News to discuss the Traver nomination and mentioned the Gunwalker scandal:

Not that CBS = good and/or Fox = bad. The point is that the major networks are all afraid to break a big news story, because they want their network to be known for never needing to issue a retraction. CBS got bit hard by that way back in 2004, and apparently has learned some lessons. They have taken Vanderboegh’s and Codrea’s work, examined it, and found it newsworthy.

I wish Fox would do the same, because there are lots of people out there who won’t watch the big networks ever, even when there’s a good story to be seen.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Troubles of our Day

As you might have guessed, I’ve been suffering from a bit of outrage fatigue the past week. Between all the bad news out there, some pressures at work, and a general mental funk, I just haven’t felt the urge to write.

This morning Preacher Joe (the pastor at the church I and Virginia Riflewoman attend) had an excellent sermon about perspective and expectation. The text was Acts 16, the scene where Paul and Silas get thrown in jail after being led by the Holy Spirit to go to Macedonia. The thrust of the message was that God knows just how bad things will be, but they could be worse if we do something He doesn’t want us to do.

Further, the attitude of Paul and Silas in jail was illustrative of the character we should have. They were chained to the wall and praising God at the same time, not an easy mindset to get into. An earthquake struck, the jailer panicked and almost killed himself, then stopped when he realized the captives were still there. He ended up getting saved. The point of the lesson was that if we look only at the bad things as they come along we can lose sight of and miss what God wants to accomplish as an end goal. In this sermon, it was the salvation of an individual. In our modern day? I believe it is the restoration of the country.

After the sermon I reexamined my attitude. I believe the God off the Bible is the God of Liberty, and wants us to be free of this oppressive government. These troubles we’re seeing – the Wisconsin Union thuggery, the fiscal crises, all the rest – are probably at some level necessary, because if they didn’t come we’d continue blindly on the way to our destruction. But if we view them as setting us up for the restoration of the Constitution and all that means –

Well, it makes me smile. And it’s fun to smile at your enemies. It confuses them, makes them worry.

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A visualization of the exponential function

Take a good, hard, long look.
US Debt over time, graphed semi-logarithmically
This is a graph of the debt of the US Government, original Excel spreadsheet is here. Time is on the horizontal axis, in number of decades since 1800. The vertical is the total debt load graphed on a log scale. Notice a few things.

  • The dip around decade five (the 1840s) is Andrew Jackson’s time, when the debt actually went away completely. I couldn’t include the actual zero point, since that would have broken the log scale, but imagine it’s there.
  • The black line is a best fit trendline. Notice it goes past $100 trillion around decade 26 (roughly 2050). Note also that it accounts for the data points before 1840, which means that if it only included data from when the debt started up again, it would be even steeper.
  • The great deficit and debt reduction of the 1990s? That’s the slight decrease in slope between points 20 and 21. The Great Depression? Between points 14, 15, and 16. The Civil War? Points 7 and 8.

See what I’m getting at? The numbers are inexorable, unavoidable, and undeniable. There is nothing that can stop that slope from continuing, except one thing. Not a civil war, not a world war, not a depression, not anything – except rejection of the debt.

It will happen. Either our creditors will refuse to accept our debt notes, or we will devalue them by printing more. That will have the effect of spiking the trendline to higher levels earlier. The early signs are already here – Social Security started paying out more than it took in annually, starting this year. That’s a full decade earlier than it was anticipated to do so.

Once the debt is repudiated, the currency will die. Not just collapse – die. Dead. John Cleese parrot dead. Of interest only to currency hobbyists, and maybe not even them.

Karl Denninger explained it another way with Fed minutes and memorandum, but the point it the same.

We’re in for a wild ride, and not wild like Space Mountain fun wild. As Jefferson might say if he was around, “… they have devalued our currency, by replacing the just and honest measure of precious metal with a currency valued by fiat, then destroying it without regard to the property rights of the citizens or their expressed will …”

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Lessons from Army photos

15 February 2011 3 comments

I try to learn whenever I can, especially from government sources. Take a look at this photo posted @ the Firearm Blog. Notice anything about Spc. Jeremy Burton? Here are a few observations.

  • He’s not alone, despite the appearance. For one, he’s got his teammates described in the caption. Two, I’m willing to bet that the cameraman is armed.
  • He has what appears to be a bottle of water strapped to his back. Don’t do that, it makes it hard to get to. Likewise the axe (?) next to the water bottle.
  • His body armor is not as effective as it could be. Note the giant gap behind his left scapula (shoulder blade) where the body armor isn’t conforming to his torso. This means that a large part of his back is uncovered from the cameraman’s perspective, and therefore vulnerable.

I’m sure he’s trained in how to use that M4 and M203 competently, so I won’t comment on his skill there without any evidence. But all that fancy equipment ain’t worth a damn if you don’t use it correctly.

What else do you see?

Categories: Uncategorized

We don’t need no permission slips

III Percent Patriots, a new link on the sidebar, asks a question:

Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams worked together to compile thie …long train of abuses… in the Declaration.

I have listed them below. What is our modern list?

I keep a file called “No Longer Free”. It is full of PDFs of the stories I see that (1) point out how we are no longer free, and (2) document the express violation of our rights. Why do I maintain such a depressing list? Because someday soon we will have to repeat Jefferson’s itemization for the whole world.

To that file I will add this story, which could be tagged “… for depriving us of our means of livelihood…

But I suppose that could be said for any government program that requires a permission slip from our supposed masters.

Categories: The Long Train

Meh, whatevs…

15 February 2011 1 comment

… as the kids say these days: Panel Kills Bill Allowing VA Residents to Use Deadly Force. This was the senate version of the bill I mentioned the other day.

The SOB will still die if he comes in my home uninvited.

And no, a locked door does not constitute an invitation.