Tracking

Ron eyeballed the dented moss and boot heel print in the sandy mud, making a wild ass guess that he was less than a few hours behind whoever made it. One of the scattered clouds passed through the sky, dimming the sun just enough to make it feel cooler even under the sparse shade of the pines.

“What you think Ron?” The Marshall asked, “One hour, maybe two?”

“About that.” Ron answered. “From here you can go north to the pass, or head over the ridge then follow the river down to the ocean.”

“I’m not worried about the ocean” the Marshall replied, “The air unit can keep an eye on that.”

“Well, fill up your canteens from the creek.” Ron instructed as he filled up his empty one quart green canteens. “It’s going to be a long hot climb if we want to catch up, and gonna suck worse if we want to get ahead.” Ron dropped two chlorine dioxide tabs, one in each canteen, and put them back into the pouches on the side of his hunting pack, rifle secured in the center pouch. The Marshall did the same, although he kept his M4 slung on a single point sling.

“Can we get ahead of him?” The Marshall asked.

“If he’s staying under the vegetation and moving slow and deliberate like you seem to think, maybe.” Ron answered. “We could go high, straight up the ridgeline and try to get to the pass before him. If he’s not checking the skyline, and luck is on our side, we might get there before he notices us.”

“Lets go then.” The Marshall said.

The wind blew the cloud away, and the sun beat down once more. Ron and The Marshall left the tree line and half scrambled hands and feet up the steeper parts of the ridge. Ron pushed, following a route taken years ago hunting elk, but then he’d been in a hurry to get down the mountain before a storm rather than climb in the heat of an early summer. The Marshall had the courtesy to breathe hard, as Ron’s thighs burned with effort.

Ron led The Marshall to a small flat spot with waist high scrub. He dropped his pack gently on a flat spot and pulled out a set of Nikon 7×50 binoculars. Sitting on his butt and pulling his knees up as an impromptu rest let Ron slowly scan the vegetation line in the valley below, leading up to the pass. The Marshall took a prone position and increased the magnification on the optic on his M4. The pair scanned downhill looking for any movement.

They waited like this for a few minutes. Ron reached over to his pack for a canteen. Even hot water would taste like heaven.

CRACK! something, Ron knew it was a bullet, zipped overhead before a BOOM followed. Ron rolled down from sitting onto his belly and crawled towards his pack, quickly putting some terrain between the valley and himself. At the pack he unfastened the straps keeping the old Swede Mauser in place, a pawn shop purchase years ago. Someone had drilled and tapped the M38 short rifle for a hunting scope back when Swede M38s were cheap and plentiful, destroying any collector value but giving Ron a handy, accurate hunting rifle.

CRACK! another bullet breaking the sound barrier passed overhead, Ron started counting, “thousand one, thousand two” and the BOOM hit just after two seconds.

“He’s about 700 yards out.” Ron said, voice a little louder than he meant.

“Roger” The Marshall replied, inching forward on his belly, scanning through the optic on top of his M4. Ron unscrewed the elevation cap on his scope. 15 minutes up to 700 from his 200 yard zero, Ron methodically counted the clicks “one two three one, one two three two, one two three three” until finishing at “one two three fifteen.” Shouldering the rifle, sliding the sling around his left arm in a hasty position, Ron scanned through the 6×42 power scope looking for any sign of the unseen marksman.

“Got him!” The Marshall said. “Middle of the valley, near the dry stream bed, there’s a patch of brown that isn’t quite right!”

Ron scanned down the dry stream bed and found where he thought The Marshall meant. Ron racked the bolt of the Swede, chambering a 6.5×55 round, loaded with a 139 grain soft point boat tail bullet that had always worked on the mule deer. Ron looked at the angle indicator mounted on his scope, down twenty degrees. Ron did some quick math, 700 times 0.9 would be 7 times 9, 63, times 10 would be 630 yards. Ron quickly dialed back 3 minutes on his scope, getting down to 12 MOA above zero, but still one MOA beyond the 11 MOA above zero that he knew was dead on at 600.

The Marshall pulled the trigger a few times on his M4, kicking up dirt beyond the splotch of brown. The splotch moved, clearly trying to maneuver to a better position. Ron’s placed the cross hairs of the scope on the leading edge of the brown splotch and pressed the trigger.

The old Swede bucked against his shoulder, and Ron struggled to regain a sight picture. When he did, he found the brown splotch stationary on the near side of the dry stream bed. Ron racked the bolt again, the empty 6.5 Swede brass flying off to the right.

The Marshall pulled out a satellite phone and began a conversation that Ron didn’t bother to catch, as he focused on the splotch of brown for movement through the scope. Minutes passed, and Ron’s heart rate slowed back down to normal.

“Chopper on it’s way.” The Marshall said as he put the phone away. “I’m glad he missed. Those shots sounded right over us.”

“Didn’t account for angle.” Ron answered quietly. “He was dialed in right for horizontal distance. That’s 20 degree angle between him and us saved our bacon.”

“How so?” The Marshall asked.

“When you shoot uphill, or downhill, doesn’t matter which, you have to multiply your line of sight distance by the cosine of the angle. Cosine of 20 is something like .92, so I estimated that my correction should be 90% of the straight line distance. Since sound travels in a straight line, and since every second between crack and boom is about 350 yards, I figured he was about 700 yards away, minus 10% to be around 630 yards. I knew my 600 and 700 yard dope, so I dialed back 75% off of my 700, or 25% more than my 600, and hoped that was enough.”

The Marshall smiled and shook his head. “Is that why I seemed to be hitting high? I kept seeing dust kick up behind him.”

“Most likely.” Ron replied.

The helicopter came, collected the body from the valley. Ron never cared to ask the details. The Marshall collected the Swede Mauser as evidence, but it came back in a month after all the reviews determined it was a justified act of self defense, mainly based on the testimony of The Marshall.

Ron never did find out if he was a hero that day, or a villain.

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Planning out a NAS build on total throughput

My home network is gigabit connected to a cable modem, I have two wireless access points capable of 802.11AC speeds up to 750 Mb/s (or three quarters gigabit speed) in the 5 GHz band.

This means that for my wired “client” machine to the NAS the max theoretical speed is 125 megabytes per second. However the PCI Express lanes on my NAS are 2.0 x1 lanes, which have a theoretical max of about 500 megabytes per second (4 gigabits per second). The SATA controller cards in those slots are 4 drive controllers, so 500 megabytes of bandwidth should allow each drive to receive a max theoretical transfer rate of 125 megabytes (a gigabit) per second.

But it doesn’t work out that way since there are things like packet headers, parity checks, and retransmits. So the fastest I’ve gotten on my gigabit network is around 80 to 85 megabytes per second, or just under the max connection speed of my 802.11AC clients with excellent connection…

I can get away with using older, slower technology here because my NAS only has to support four clients, the big use for my NAS is file backup and Jellyfin media server. As your client base increases, using a more modern CPU/motherboard with PCIE gen 3 or 4, and more PCEI lanes, and upping to a SAS controller (with onboard RAM cache and battery write protection) becomes a bit more of a priority. If all 4 clients accessed the three SMB shares at the same time, the gigabit network connection would allow about a 0.25 gigabit (250 megabit, or 2.5 times faster than 100baseT fast ethernet) or 31 megabytes per second. Since my two CMR mirror arrays are both good to 80 megabytes per second transfer speeds, and my SMR mirror array is good for 60 megabytes per second, any slowdowns there will be from collisions and OS prioritizations on the NAS.

If I had 16 clients, my hardware could be “painfully slow” for anything but a media server, although I could schedule the clients to do backups at different times to minimize network collisions and maximize performance for clients during their backup window. This is a workable solution for a small office that has regular hours and a regular workflow, but not so suitable for a more dynamic environment.

There isn’t much of a price premium on stepping up to something like a Ryzen 3600 and B450 motherboard with plenty of PCIE 3.0 lanes to drop in some refurbished LSI Logic SAS controllers. That triples the number of threads you have for processing over my Celeron system, and while at idle the Ryzen will suck a bit more electricity, it has a lot more “surge capacity” to handle heavier loads and unofficially supports error correcting memory. This also opens up more enterprise grade storage options like FreeNAS, although for a small team Unraid is probably a more user friendly choice (unless you have a guy on staff who is a FreeNAS familiar admin). Even an 8th through 10th generation core i5 will be a great choice for a NAS build that needs to handle a larger user base (although no error correcting memory).

If you go the refurbished server route, you can pick up an older Xeon system that will give you all the CPU power, RAM (ECC capable) and IO for storage that you need. Of course these are generally rack mounted, loud, and come with very limited support or warranty. Still, if you need a fully functioning NAS with great performance for pretty cheap per terrabyte, this is hands down the best option for performance.

I chose a deliberate lower power, lower heat, minimal fan setup since my IT stack is in my bedroom. Hopefully this helps you figure out what you need for your NAS solution.

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CMR, SMR, Open Media Vault, and mirror raid lessons learned

I have a 4 person household including myself, and our network is more than “basic” and less than “full on enterprise.”

I wanted a network attached storage solution so that we didn’t have to rely on a cloud service to store all my wife’s photographs, digital scrap booking files, computer backups, and all of our other media (digitized DVDs, mp3s, etc). I didn’t want to have a full server rack, although in terms of “bang for the buck” a used 1U or 2U server is the absolute best purchase you can get for your money IF you want to control all the software and hardware in your build.

If you don’t care about the software/hardware in your build, and you want it to “just work” you should stop reading this review and get yourself a quality pre-built NAS from Synology, and populate it with quality CMR drives.

I don’t really care for pre-built NAS solutions, so I built my own. I took a very large “gaming case” I bought for 40 bucks, put in an Asrock J4105 fanless quad core Celeron motherboard (purchased refurbished off of Amazon), 8 gigabytes of RAM (purchased new off of Amazon), a 4 drive bay tray (turns 3x 5.25″ bays into 4x 3.5″ bays with hot swap trays), and a 40 dollar 4 port SATA III controller (non raid, JBOD).

On the two motherboard SATA III ports I re-used an old Intel 240gb SSD for the boot drive (a pull from an old laptop), and installed a Samsung 830 256gb SSD which I hope to eventually use as a cache disk.

In the hot swap drive bays I used two Hitachi 3TB drives in a mirror array (these are Conventional Magnetic Recording, or CMR) and two Seagate 4TB Barracuda drives in a mirror array (these are Shingled Magnetic Recording, or SMR drives). The Hitachi were purchased used, but I got lucky and the SMART report indicates they should be good for a while.

The operating system I chose is Open Media Vault, which is based on Debian Linux so it has an extremely stable base. In a recent talk Linux Torvalds complained that Debian core libraries are so “out of date” that it’s hard to develop software for the distribution. He’s not wrong, but for our purposes a distro focused on stability is a good thing here.

Things I’ve learned in this build.

1. The low power quad core Celeron makes a great “bare metal headless server.” When not worried about graphics, 4 cores/4 threads at 1.5 GHz is more than enough to run OMV and handle Jellyfin as a docker container. The two available PCI Express 2.0 expansion slots allow for drive access via controller cards that are faster than a gigabit network connection, in theory, in practice maybe not so much.

2. CMR Drives are better than SMR drives. SMR Drives are cheaper per TB than CMR drives. Used SAS disks are cheaper, and better performers, but SAS controllers are generally more expensive than SATA controller. The Hitachi CMR array ingested large files at 80 megabytes/second over the gigabit network. The Seagate SMR drives ingested large files at 30 megabytes per second. Either technology is fine for reading and serving up streaming media, but if you have a workflow that relies on write speeds then CMR SATA or SAS drives is your best bet.

3. Hot swappable drive bays are really handy. I’ll never go back to building a storage server where the spinning rust drives are mounted inside the case. I used Rosewill’s cheap plastic brand, but there are metal SAS/SATA drive bay adapters for only a few dollars more.

4. Software RAID is fine for this setup. The CPU load on building a mirror array (the simplest array as it provides 100% redundancy) didn’t task the Celeron at all. I have another bay adapter coming, and another 4 port SATA controller, so as the disk count goes up I’ll keep an eye on CPU usage.

5. Open Media Vault doesn’t have a cache disk capability built into it, but Debian does. You’ll need to use the command line to set up “bcache”

6. You won’t save any money doing it yourself unless you can repurpose old parts. 40 dollars for the case, 55 for the motherboard, 40 for the RAM is 135 bucks. The spinning rust drives were about 75 bucks a piece, so 300 dollars in storage. The SSDs were pulled from dead laptops, and the power supply was pulled from an ancient Gateway machine my wife used to use (not the original Gateway house brand, that one died and I replaced it years ago, so now I’m reusing the replacement). 435 dollars for “new” parts on my build. A Synology DS220j is 170 bucks on Newegg as of today, which is a solid two drive solution, and a TerraMaster 4 drive solution is 200 dollars. On Ebay a Chenbro 1U file server goes for about 120 some dollars (if you can stand the noise, or have a place to isolate the noise).

7. The learning curve isn’t free, but there are plenty of youtube videos and online tutorials about how to set up network shares, get Plex, Emby, or Jellyfin running on OMV. This is why a paying 90 dollars for Unraid is not a bad thing for people who want more functionality than you can get with a Synology or TerraMaster NAS solution, but don’t want to step up to the TrueNAS enterprise grade level (which is free, but also has a high learning curve and generally requires better hardware than OMV which can run on a single board ARM computer).

Conclusion. If you like building things and tinkering then building your own NAS is probably a good way to spend a few evenings or weekend. If you don’t like building and tinkering, there are many home NAS solutions that will work “right out of the box” for less than the cost of a decent laptop.

However, if you have the parts laying about, and want to repurpose an older tower into a NAS, then OMV is definitely a good solution for that. Even if an old tower isn’t going to be the most electrically efficient NAS option, it’s still going to take a very long time for the additional electric costs to make purchasing a new NAS box money ahead. A normal budget tower with a budget processor is going to draw 25 to 50 watts at idle, and double that for a normal headless server load. A Synology 2 disk solution will max out at 60 watts, so depending on how “low end” the tower is it will be comparable to an out of the box commercial product. However, by going with an i3 or Ryzen 3 or better processor you’ll get more memory (not necessary), but also more and faster PCI Express lanes for better NAS performance under multiple user loads, so you’ll get more but pay more. If I were building from scratch I’d look for a Ryzen build with an A520 or better chipset for some near future forward drive speed upgrade paths. As it sits right now, my current build is limited mostly by the low power mother board chipset and low CPU provided PCI E lane count, and an onboard M.2 drive option for super fast cache.

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Why West Point and the Army deserve Wokeness

Before the United States entered World War Two, a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute purged the senior officers of the US Army in order to get rid of the leaders who wouldn’t be value added in the coming fight. It is my opinion that George Marshall could only do this because he wasn’t a West Pointer. You have to remember that the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) wasn’t a normal source of a commission for the regular Army until Congress formalized the program in 1916, so having a VMI graduate at the top of the food chain was necessary to break apart some of the “West Point Protection Association” to make way for modernization.

This isn’t to say that all West Pointers are bad, many very good Officers came from West Point into WWII and service with honor and distinction. But we remember Eisenhower as the “man who kept the alliance together”, and the “stars fell on the class of 1915” as men who survived Marshall’s purge as rather being more “team player” than not. Of course there were men like Patton, who regardless of temperament were simply competent combat commanders.

But since I titled this post “Why West Point and the Army deserve Wokeness” I’ll explain it clearly. The opposite of “competent worker” is “woke crusader.” The more someone is “woke” the more they are not doing “work” and instead “addressing systemic inequality within entrenched power structures.” And the Army is the ultimate in an entrenched power structure. After all, just look at the gender pay gap in the department of defense, even there when you average all the women with all the men, women make less (yes this is the uncontrolled wage gap, a meaningless measure, but woke warriors don’t bother with meaningful measures).

This means that wokeness will infect the Officer Corps with ineffective leaders who are more concerned that American casualties be equitably represented rather than minimizing casualties through effective training, deep planning, and aggressive execution during operations. This is a good thing because it will allow ROTC Officers, and to an extent OCS alumni, less effective competition from ineffective West Pointers. It will be harder for the West Point Protection association to promote “Wokeness” when woke leadership continually ranks at the bottom in readiness and combat effectiveness.

In short, “wokeness” will once again break apart the stranglehold of West Point upon the senior leaders of the Army. It may take 30 years to unfold, as each graduating class of West Point adopts more and more woke beliefs the larger and larger percentage of ineffective but politically active Officers will create a larger demand for practical, hard working Officers who graduated out of Midwestern schools. Already the tech startup playing field is dominated by foreigners and engineers/coders from the midwest who can stay on mission, aka the “mission protocol.”

The danger here is that the West Point Protection Association (WPPA) will close ranks, and ensure that Wokeness gets promoted over competence. There is also a danger that practical midwestern schools will also choose to advance “Wokeness” leaving the bulk of the Officer corps inadequate and incompetent.

But then, if the Officer Corps goes “woke” then the Army will get what it deserves for letting such an obviously destructive ideology infect its leaders. Wokeness is against the Army values, as you can’t Respect someone you pity as a victim, you can’t do your Duty if you are busy trying to tear down the institutions you swore to protect, you can’t Honor yourself and your profession by calling it dishonorable and racist/sexist. The list goes on, but the lesson is clear, just like West Point coddled Cadet Spenser Rapone it was only after his social media posts made him an embarrassment to West Point that the WPPA decided that to protect the group, LT Rapone had to go. And away he went, all the way to the University of Texas where he can spread his brand of anti-Americanism to other students…

What I wrote above was a bit “tongue in cheek” to gently chide at the obvious dangers of Wokeness. Wokeness is a false front for totalitarian statism which requires everyone to be poor in order to be “fair and equitable.” But it is easy to be fair and equitable when there’s nothing to gain, nor nothing to lose. Which is why it is never your successful friends posting pro-Marxist quotes on their social media feeds.

But there is a serious warning, any organization that embraces “wokeness” will get what it deserves for such foolishness.

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Thoughts on Computer Power Budgeting

Everyone who has a hobby or lifestyle that routinely keeps them off grid eventually runs into the problem of “power budgeting” where you can’t run all your electrical tools/appliances at the same time or you overwhelm the circuit and trip a breaker (or blow a fuse). Or people who live in places where electricity is expensive (or variable rates could make it expensive) often want to minimize their passive electrical draw. And some people just want to minimize their utility bill.

There are really only a solution spaces to this problem, one is to ration what you have by choosing which devices get used at any given time, another is to generate/store/use more electricity, and a third is to find non-electrical alternatives (this third option is interesting).

As far as rationing goes, let me give you an example. I have two decade old workstation computers, one with an 800 watt power supply and the other with a 1,000 watt power supply (both dual hex core Xeon systems, currently running Ubuntu), which suck way more power than my primary laptop (an old HP Elitebook with 4th Gen i7 processor). I keep these old beaters around because it is very simple to load up a bunch of virtual machines, or swap in a drive to run them a hypervisor like Xen or Esxi/VMware to experiment with different technologies. Also when ripping a DVD to a digital file, even with 12 physical cores and 24 logical cores, handbrake will often get to 80% of all CPU resources on either box (because ripping DVDs is CPU intensive work). But they suck power way more than my laptop. And as much as I spend time on computers, for the most part my computers are in an “idle” state rather than a “computing” state in terms of doing actual work. When these computers aren’t being used for learning or work, they are powered off.

Conversely, I have several single board computers that runs off tiny USB power supplies. Which sucks power even less than my laptop, with draw maxing out at 1.2 watts, which does not include an external screen. The most energy efficient “energy star” flat panel monitor is going to pull just under 5 watts in the “on” mode, the number two monitor on the list is just over 5 watts in the “on” mode. But, having a usable computer system that draws under seven watts in the “on” mode is a great choice for most people. Right now a Pine64 single board computer is attatched to a 3gb external hard drive serving as my network attached storage, for a total draw of about 7 watts between the two wallwarts.

However, single board computers like a “Le Potato” or Raspberry Pi, are not necessarily for the people who want it to “just work” or need operating system specific software. For those people, a quality tablet style computer might be a better option, especially if they don’t want to learn to use Linux as a primary operating system. A more premium option would be something like a Microsoft Surface product, but that also comes with a premium price tag. But if you can get away with using Linux as your primary operating system, you can have a power sipping cheap computer very easily.

Networking…. If you are going to have a computing device, odds are you want to connect it to a network in order to use it to communicate, or stream media, or whatever. For very low power, I recommend something like a “travel router” that runs off of a USB port. These are low power devices that have both 2.4 and 5.8 gigahertz bands for wifi access, although it will not be the blazing fast gigabit speeds, you probably don’t need blazing fast gigabit speeds. I recommend using one of these as you can use the VPN utility to securely connect back to a home network or business network through untrusted public WiFi for devices that don’t have a VPN software application installed. There are other options such as a “cell phone puck” or smart phone hotspot functionality which will allow other devices access to the cellular network and internet.

On a personal note, my home WiFi network is really two networks, each with their own router. One for the parents, and one for the kids. I recently replaced older WiFi routers (12V, 3.5 amp and 12V 2A) with newer 12V 1A units. A lot of folks use WiFi routers as “set it and forget it” technology, and that’s fine, but remember even when you aren’t actively using WiFi the router is turning electricity into heat, unless you turn it off.

As far as the third option, replacing electronic devices with non-electronic devices, there is a lot of merit here. A couple packs of cards, board games, and role playing dice go a long way in providing entertainment when the power goes out. Having oil lanterns, candles, or other light sources also makes a lot of sense (as does having flashlights and batteries on hand).

Pneumatic tools also make a great alternative to electric tools. A lot of 4×4 owners will install an air tank and pump system on their vehicle to ensure they can inflate a flat tire, run an impact wrench, or handle other chores that can be done using pneumatic rather than electric power.

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“The Psychopathic Problem of a Psychiatrist’s Mind”

“I began my talk by saying that if I start talking about race in this way, I’m going to be seen as the crazy, psychotic one and white people just followed my (expletive) textbook like a (expletive) script,” Aruna Khilanani, M.D.

In psychology, there is a concept known as the “self fulfilling prophecy” which accurately describes Aruna Khilanani’s prediction about the response to her talk, “The Psychopathic Problem of the White Mind” given at Yale.

Self-fulfilling prophecy, process through which an originally false expectation leads to its own confirmation. In a self-fulfilling prophecy an individual’s expectations about another person or entity eventually result in the other person or entity acting in ways that confirm the expectations. https://www.britannica.com/topic/self-fulfilling-prophecy

So going into the talk, Dr. Khilanani knew that she was acting and talking crazy and psychotic, because she expected to be treated that way in response to her stimulus. This is interesting in that she understands exactly how her fantasy of shooting white people in the head without remorse or consequences would be taken. The only people who can kill without remorse are “sociopaths” and violent sociopaths make up the vast majority of serial killers. I’m not saying that Dr. Khilanani is a budding serial killer, but it would make sense that sociopaths who spend their life honing the skill of pretending empathy would thrive in the business of psychiatry where they have a lot of power over patients.

One of the biggest problems with “the white mind” is that it is a nebulous straw man, it can literally be whatever you want it to be. Scandinavian work ethic? WHITENESS! German practicality? WHITENESS!!! Greek logic and philosophy? WHITENESS!!! Math? WHITENESS (despite algebra having famous middle eastern origins…) The “white mind” or “whiteness” can be anything that contributes to the success of European Americans to the point that Asian Americans are “white” by definition of success rather than skin tone, genetics, or cultural heritage. No, seriously, the defining characteristic of “whiteness” is “success” https://mynorthwest.com/2365883/rantz-district-reclassified-asians-with-whites-when-they-did-too-well-academically/?

Since “the white mind” is understood in social justice circles as “the successful mind” we begin to see how Dr. Khilanani, a highly successful individual who graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago/College of Medicine in 2005. She has taught at Cornell, New York and Columbia Universities, and recently guest lectured at Yale. This is not the biography of someone suffering actual oppression, this is the biography of someone clearly at the top of their game in the Northeast who claims specialization in marginalized people. She may very well be perfect at serving marginalized patients, but her inability to effectively communicate without seeming “crazy and psychotic” and her own acknowledgement that she cannot make a coherent argument to “the white mind” is not confidence building about her ability to effectively provide healthcare services to anyone she deems to have a “white mind.”

And there is a danger in associating “success” with “whiteness.” Sometimes your life sucks because you are dumb and make stupid choices. Sometimes your life sucks because you have rotten luck. Only rarely does your life suck because there is a secret cabal of white people out to oppress you. But externalizing blame is a key tactic for sociopaths to explain their behavior, and “whiteness made me do it” is the ultimate external blame target for a social justice adherent.

So, how do sociopaths get around and become so successful? Martha Stout, PhD., who wrote an interesting book called The Sociopath Next Door, says that it is partly society’s fault. We ignore the fact that a man or woman is doing insensitive, immoral things and make a bunch of excuses for their actions. She points out the fact that sociopaths are experts at appealing to our sympathies and convincing us that they really mean well. The sociopath blames others for his/her situation – “I got fired for stealing from the cash register when everyone else does it too.” This is not to say that every person to externalize blame is a sociopath. Sociopaths simply use externalization of blame as a way of maintaining their charade of innocence and victimhood. https://www.agnesian.com/blog/how-recognize-sociopath

While it isn’t responsible to assume a full diagnosis of a sociopath, Dr. Khilanani does have a known history of causing drama around her, in a profession where being detached from patients issues/drama is beneficial, and having an easily used external explanation for her behavior? Whether or not an actual sociopath any doctor who admits to violent murder fantasies without a hint of irony is probably an unhealthy person. And the external excuse of social justice gives her cover for her behavior. I mean after all, who doesn’t want to end racism? Who doesn’t want to keep America moving forward where everyone gets their crack at success?

And in the end, we are back to the point of the self fulfilling prophecy, by talking crazy she was treated as crazy, and then used that end as proof she was right. That’s a straight Kafka trap there, as either you buy into her position where the “white mind” is an incurable ill that should be eliminated in a “final solution” or you have a “white mind” and need the final solution. That’s not rigorous thought, but the social justice movement doesn’t rather care about facts, logic, or rigor, only power and who has it.

Were social justice warriors to succeed the only conceivable outcome would be that of a nation of unsuccessful people. After equating “whiteness” with success, the only way to eliminate “whiteness” is to eliminate success. This makes a large amount of sense as the social justice movement is closely aligned with socialism/communism as a supposed cure for the unequal blessings of capitalism. But..there is no government system that doesn’t allow a cadre of politically astute individuals to amass power and wealth, often at the expense of others. Every single Communist or Socialist nation has a cadre of elites, the exact same failing as every Capitalist nation. This is because political power in a Democratic, Socialist, or Communist nation is a separate form of power than economic power in a capitalist economy. Unfortunately, there are a lot of “useful idiots” who believe that socialism or communism will make their lives more prosperous rather than less prosperous.

“Except for the field organizers of strikes, who were pretty tough monkeys and devoted, most of the so-called Communists I met were middle-class, middle-aged people playing a game of dreams. I remember a woman in easy circumstances saying to another even more affluent: ‘After the revolution even we will have more, won’t we, dear?’ Then there was another lover of proletarians who used to raise hell with Sunday picknickers on her property.
“I guess the trouble was that we didn’t have any self-admitted proletarians. Everyone was a temporarily embarrassed capitalist. Maybe the Communists so closely questioned by the investigation committees were a danger to America, but the ones I knew—at least they claimed to be Communists—couldn’t have disrupted a Sunday-school picnic. Besides they were too busy fighting among themselves.” America & Americans, 1966, John Steinbeck

The dream of social justice, where everyone is equal in access to education and opportunity, will never die. Unfortunately there seems to be an endless supply of dreamers who will gladly whistle past the graveyard of history, and fuel another genocidal action to get rid of those standing in the way of their supposed utopia. But sometimes, they let the mask slip, and say what they really want.

I had fantasies of unloading a revolver into the head of any white person that got in my way, burying their body, and wiping my bloody hands as I walked away relatively guiltless with a bounce in my step. Like I did the world a fucking favor. – Dr. Aruna Khilanani

Remember if you don’t buy into social justice dogma and all it entails, the inter-sectional politics, critical race theory, etc, are standing in the way of their ideological utopia. I recommend you prepare accordingly as you can, because as crazy as Dr. Khilanani sounds today, she may simply be another shift of the Overton Window towards placing all blame to “whiteness.”

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Airborne, All the Way

Today is the anniversary of “D-Day” or the start of Operation Overlord. which was the beginning of the end of the Third Reich. The Airborne insertion of forces to prepare the landing zones remains one of the high points of historic Airborne Operations. Major Airborne operations in the European Theater of operations included, 6th of June, 1944 (Operation Overlord), 17 September 1944 (Market Garden) and finally the last major airborne operation to secure bridges across the Rhine river into Germany on 24 March 1945 (Operation Varsity).

After WWII, there would never again by an Airborne Division or Corps level operation. But Airborne forces remain, because when you absolutely have to get a bunch of American Troops somewhere fast, the President sends the Airborne.

But…what does an Airborne operation actually feel like, from the paratrooper perspective? What follows is my own personal perspective, and so your mileage may vary.

There are two types of Airborne operations, those that you’ve prepared for (such as training events, or a major operation like Operation Overlord, Market Garden, or Varsity) where everyone has had a chance to thoroughly study the plan and know what they need to accomplish to make the plan a success. The second type, is the “no notice alert” where you throw your gear on a pallet, get harnessed up and get some minimal information dumps before you hurl your body from a flying aircraft into the sky and hope that the forty two pounds of ballistic nylon get you to the ground in fighting condition.

Regardless of how much prep time you’ve had to plan for the operation, once the first jumper is out the plane, the plan has largely gone to hell. Aircraft go down for maintenance, the bump plan gets put into play, paratroopers become disorganized on the drop zone due to the natural dispersion…. These days highly portable GPS devices help paratroopers get to their rally points faster, but still airborne operations look a lot like barely controlled chaos.

After the initial drop, then the real work begins. You know, doing the actual work that requires soldiers rather than just a sky dive club. Get the radio networks up, get the mortars and air dropped howitzers into the fight, begin the logistics flow of “air land delivery” on a forward landing strip…

Meanwhile, the Little Groups of Paratroopers (LGOPs) are doing their damndest to assemble “minimum effective combat power” in either well defined unit groups, or an ad hoc group, to get enough firepower to where it needs to be on terrain, at the same time leaders are trying to get full accountability of everyone who jumped out of an aircraft, probably at night.

And this initial push…will last a few days. Barely controlled chaos, little sleep, living out of whatever you have in your rucksack… Eventually all “airborne operations” end with “exhaustion” as paratroopers run out of ability to expand the area of control. This leads to the second phase, “figuring out what you’ve got left” and working with the logistics wizards to get in the right amount of beans, bullets, bandages, and distribute them where needed to get the unit ready for the next operation, which will look a lot like traditional light infantry maneuver. And that’s where any advantage of being “airborne” ends until the next time someone needs a mass of pissed off and insufficiently supervised teenagers with guns placed somewhere on the planet at a moment’s notice.

In strictly military terms, this makes Airborne forces a bit of a “one trick pony” as the strategic, operational, and tactical utility of Airborne delivery of forces is essentially one and the same. It also takes a lot of work by the joint force to set conditions to where big. slow, cargo aircraft can even deliver paratroopers. But in 2014 when Russia took bits of Ukraine, with force, the 173rd Airborne Brigade was the force chosen to send troops to our allies in the Baltic nations. When we didn’t have anyone else to give, we still had Paratroopers who could get their fast. In December of 2019 when it looked like the US Embassy in Baghdad was about to be attacked, the 82d Airborne pushed in an entire Brigade Combat Team based task force on the first “no notice” Immediate Response Force in decades. Later that year, after returning from Central Command, the IRF again responded to the BLM/Antifa rioting in Washington D.C. And to anyone who claims it was “mostly peaceful protests” you have to remember even the “Democracy Dies in Darkness” Washington Post called it “rioting.”

Now, the Airborne forces exist as a bit of a subculture within the American military. Most of Special Operations is airborne qualified, and the regular Army Airborne forces are routinely used as a talent pool for Special Forces and the 75th Ranger Regiment (note, being Ranger qualified makes you a Ranger, being a Ranger in the 75th makes you something of an operator). The increased levels of risk for Airborne operations make employing an Airborne Joint Force Entry option something of a “high risk/high reward” choice for Combatant Commanders. But the Airborne still exist to give Commanders that option, should the situation require a rapid insertion of forces.

To all the paratroopers, past and present, may you have fair skies and favorable winds. All the way!

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Why Apple Silicon isn’t going to take over the PC Market, but ARM cores might.

Apple’s ARM cores are not standard ARM cores, and Apple isn’t licensing it’s modifications to let other companies produce Apple Silicon compatible CPUs. Apple’s tight control of OS-X allows it to use the customized cores to do the tasks that Apple users expect to do on their Apple device. Unless Apple wants to open up its walled garden somewhat, it won’t replace x86 market dominance any time soon.

That isn’t to say that ARM processors are not a contender. They are, and the broad industry adoption of ARM processors for smart phones, tablets, some Chromebooks, even some “windows on ARM” mobile solutions, indicates that ARM will continue to make inroads. The limited inroads that ARM has made in the data center are paltry, but growing. But there is massive open source support for ARM processors, you can run enough flavors of Linux to do any server side workload, assuming you have an ARM based server. So far that assumption is not really supported, but data centers are eyeballing how efficient those ARM servers are, and at some point they will add them to the mix unless the x86 chips can become massively more efficient in a very rapid manner.

From an engineering standpoint, ARM has a lot going for it. Generations of optimization for high levels of efficiency mean that you get a lot of compute power for not a lot of electricity. This has been a large selling point to get ARM servers into data centers, where the cost of electricity on the chip is additive to the cost of cooling the data center for high powered chips. To put it in simple math, twenty 5 Watt Arm CPUs will have essentially the same thermal load on the data center as one x86 100W processor. And although 100W processors are essentially nothing to a home user (the same as an old incandescent lightbulb), when you have thousands of them concentrated in data center racks, that’s some serious electricity and cooling requirements.

In the home user scenario, a 5W ARM processor is going to be “underpowered” compared to a 15 to 35 Watt x86 laptop CPU, but for many situations that’s irrelevant. If the COVID pandemic hadn’t required so many people to telework PC sales would have continued their downward trend in sales compared to tablets and chromebooks. Eventually the trend will reset, and the market mix between PCs, “road warrior laptops” and chromebook/tablets will get back to historic trends. However, in the data center where virtualization can allow dynamic CPU core retasking, having extra low power efficient cores on tap is great for some highly dynamic workloads. Generally data centers want to extract maximum value for their resources and want to keep servers crunching through workloads at the 80% utilization rate or higher as idle cpu cycles don’t turn a profit.

This isn’t to say that the x86 is going to take a nose dive in market share tomorrow. AMD’s 65W TDP for the very powerful Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 CPUs is getting you a lot of performance premium over ARM, especially for things like gaming. Intel has been upping their game with the ATOM line of processors to directly compete in the low power embedded market where ARM currently dominates. And there are literally decades of legacy code for the x86 which ARM doesn’t yet have good emulation capabilities (although Apple’s x86 compatibility layer has demonstrated that excellent emulation performance is possible).

What is stopping ARM from being your primary desktop/laptop computer at home? Right now it’s the operating system. Windows on ARM doesn’t yet support the full suite of software that the x86 version of Windows does. Linux, which runs beautifully on ARM, isn’t as user friendly as Windows or OS-X, so despite being a fully functioning OS that is user modifiable and tinker friendly, it’s probably not ready to be the only option for most people just yet, but each generation of revision gets better and if you haven’t tried Ubuntu, Elementary, Mint, or any of the other easy to use Debian based distros it’s not hard to do.

Where does this leave me? Well I have plenty of ARM based single board computers (La Potato, La Frites, Pine64, Rasperry Pi) that I use for various purposes (Pi Hole DNS server, Open Media Vault NAS, Retro gaming) and because the SBC community is based on open source, so far I haven’t found a single project that someone else hasn’t already done and documented.

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Environmental religion as political theater

The term “Water Protector” came into being in 2016 when members of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe came up with the term, in a way to deliberately rebrand their environmental protest as a “sacred duty” of their belief system. This “spin doctoring” of what would have been a standard environmental protest against infrastructure development inspired others from around the continent to join the protest (and eventually saddle the US Government with a multi-million dollar cleanup, because hanging out in the middle of nowhere South Dakota in the winter time is pretty freaking miserable without some modern creature comforts).

But how did this come to be? And why did so many want to buy into the “water protector” rather than “pipeline protestor” narrative?

The answer lies in the power of the First Amendment to the Constitution. Americans have a politically powerful belief in the right to freely express ones religion, and a cultural penchant for rooting for the underdog. These two factors make it more “socially beneficial” to couch ones arguments in religious obligation terms rather than purely economic or environmentalist terms.

So how did we end here? Well the deliberate attempt to “civilize the savage” by the US and Canadian governments respectively killed out traditional native religious practices. By the 1950s so much had been lost that efforts to capture what remained became a bit of a priority for tribes and anthropologists. In 1968 the American Indian Movement came into being, and in 1970 the very first “Earth Day” occurred, where many many wrong predictions about the future of life on planet Earth were told.

So the confluence of two radical movements, traveling together through time, intermixed indigenous people’s rights with environmental justice. When you think about the common grievance of both groups, that “white people are abusing stolen land!” it is pretty obvious that the overlap in political goals would happen.

Are there people who sincerely believe in the “Sacred Earth” mythology? Of course, lets compare the words of two “water protectors.”

“Mother Earth is our mother. She’s everything. She’s life. She brings life, she takes life. We get everything from her; we get our food, our shelter, medicines. The water flows through her creeks, the lakes, sacred places. This is why we’re here. This is why we chose this planet, because of her. It’s everything.

“My work [at Standing Rock] has been to do the traditional ceremony, and to bring the youth to the elders so that they can learn, and hear, and heal. … That’s why I came, mostly, was to pray, and to hold a sacred place so women would be able to come in and heal, and be able to have that strength — that rejuvenation that they need in order to keep doing what they’re doing.

“It’s going to be hard to get people back on track, but it’s the women that will do it. It’s the women that will stand up and say enough is enough. We’ve had enough of that. Anger, fear, all that doesn’t work. What works? Love, compassion, forgiveness, all those things work.” Rachelle Figueroa, 65

That doesn’t sound too radical. But I guarantee you that Rachelle didn’t get to Standing Rock on a horse, but clearly she was a “fellow traveler” in the movement even if she wasn’t an overtly political actor.

“We’ve lost a lot of land to history. We have to stand up for our rights.

“Usually I get up and I look to the east to pray. You know, even if it’s a small prayer. But [on the third morning I was here], I glanced at the east, and I looked to the north, and the first vision that came to me was Wounded Knee, the first massacre. You know? I got a little emotional.

“That’s when I decided I couldn’t leave.” Lee Plenty Wolf, 60

In terms of who I believe, I believe that Lee Plenty Wolf spoke the truth. He clearly saw the Dakota Access Pipeline protests first and foremost as a political act. And while the Battle of Wounded Knee is powerful imagery (lets not forget the AIM protest occupying Wounded Knee in 1973) it is irrelevant to an infrastructure project. But as far as Wounded Knee goes,the first time it was referred to as the “Massacre at Wounded Knee” wasn’t until a quarter century after the fact and for the soul purpose of making political points through the newspapers.

So there you have it, two groups collided over the common goal of keeping white people from using natural resources, and it morphed into a religion. Some are devout “neo-pagans” who want to heal people and the land, while others are overtly political in their beliefs. But both types of believers made their way to Standing Rock in vehicles powered by petroleum.

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Gear Review: Cold Steel SRK San Mai

The Cold Steel SRK knife has been in continuous production, in three different designs, in several different steel options for a few decades now. Carbon V, AUS-8, VG1, San Mai, SKV steel, and now 3V. I saw the San Mai version drop to around ninety dollars on Amazon, and figured “why not?”

First impressions, it’s a lot of knife for the money. The spine is thick, just 0.003″ under 1/5th of an inch, which isn’t as “stupidly thick” as 1/4 or 5/16th blades, it’s thick enough that you probably don’t want to use it for slicing food on a regular basis. The lamination is good, and while the VG10 core is a known, I can’t find the specifications for the outer layers but my guess is something readily available in the 420 or 440 series.

The handle is fine, I have big paws and it seems to be in the “Goldilocks” zone of not too small, and textured well enough that I get a positive grip no matter where my hand falls.

The sheath is fine, it has good retention and positively secures the blade. The slightly thinner SK5 carbon steel variant is said to be 3/16ths thick at the spine, which may be why the San Mai version is so snug with an interference fit.

Interesting Thoughts: The SRK San Mai seems to be the “poor man’s Fallkniven A1” which also has a VG10 core laminated steel blade, but the A1 is twice the price for not really twice the knife. However for the cost of an A1 you can get the newest SRK in CPM 3V steel, which is a darn good price on a camp/utility knife in a “supersteel.”

The final verdict? For 90 bucks you get a stainless steel camp/utility knife that is fine for most camp chores, but not particularly great for food prep. But if you are around saltwater a lot, it’s probably worth it to get the San Mai version simply for the corrosion resistance. If you don’t need stainless, getting the SK5 with the slightly thinner blade, may actually get you a slightly better knife for things like hunting, bushcraft, or a survival kit where food prep might be a more routine chore.

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