Duck Duck Go sells out

So, I just heard that Duck Duck Go is getting into the censorship game.

Weinberg announced March 10 that his company would begin shadowbanning outlets that it considers “associated with Russian disinformation” amid the conflict in Ukraine.

I switched to the Brave Browser a while back when Mozilla made it clear that they hold conservatives in contempt. I see no reason to support a company that hates me. I’ve been using Duck Duck Go for years as a more private alternative to Google (I refuse to use anything associated with Google or Alphabet if I can avoid it) but I didn’t realize that Brave has its own search engine too. I’ll switch to that for now and see how it goes.

Hat tip to The Last Refuge.

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Shooter’s Reference is a lifesaver

One of the issues I’ve been having (and I would bet others have too) during this time of ammo and components scarcity, is finding specific load data for specific powders paired with specific bullets.

As any reloader knows, you can’t always find load data for every possible powder/bullet combo. Normally that’s not an issue…if I want to use a 325 Grain Hornady FTX bullet in .45-70 and the only load data I can find for that bullet is for IMR 3031, then I just buy a pound of 3031 and I’m good to go right?

Except right now, if you’re shopping for powder, you’re lucky if anyone has anything and it’s virtually guaranteed you won’t be able to find specifically what you’re looking for. So, what if all I can get right now is H322? Just wing it and hope for the best?

I usually scour the internet when I’m looking for specific load data and often I can find at least a starting point in a forum somewhere, but on one of these quests I stumbled upon a resource that I’ve found invaluable (click the image to go there):

It has a huge database of manufacturer’s and member’s load data for a number of common and some not so common calibers. It’s searchable by bullet weight, powder or both, which makes it very easy to find your combinations.

Plus it includes many other great piece of information like powder burn rate charts, primer manufacturer references, things like that. A wealth of good info.

You can also create an account and store and/or share your favorite load data.

The site is a labor of love by its creator; its use is free and there are no ads. He does have a means to donate (via paypal) and I broke my paypal embargo to pass him a few bucks for his effort. I’ve found the site extremely useful and I’m not a moocher so I felt a responsibility to help out even though paypal hates us and I try to avoid supporting businesses that hate me.

Anyway, I’ve found the site extremely helpful, especially in this time of scarce supply, and thought I’d share.

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IKEA doesn’t want my business

Thanks, IKEA, for making my decision that much easier.

Our new-to-us old camper has an old mattress in it that’s seen better days. It’s functional, but it looks to be the original mattress and is worn and torn in a couple of spots. We decided to replace it.

Of course, it’s just a little bit smaller than a standard “full” sized mattress. A standard full would probably fit into the space, but it would be tight and would be difficult to put sheets on and such.

So, in shopping for a new mattress, I noticed that Ikea has mattresses that’s dimension, because they’re actually metric, come in at just under the standard full size, which might just meet our needs. It would almost fill the space completely, but shouldn’t be so tight that we can’t pull up the edges to put on sheets.

As an added bonus, there’s a relatively new Ikea store in Norfolk and they have the mattresses we’re interested in in stock so we can actually go to the store and try them out to make sure we’re going to like the firmness and such.

But, before we went, my wife started checking into their Wuhan Flu policies. She has some medical concerns that make wearing a mask problematic. She doesn’t have any kind of official paper or written diagnosis to prove it, but it’s a problem, so she checks these things out ahead of time. What she found on the main Ikea site was this:

Masks “strongly encouraged” (I added the red box for emphasis). They do say check the policies at your local store, so she did that too.

Again “strongly encouraged”.

So, we’re good. She won’t be required to wear a face diaper right?

Um…not so fast. The sign at the door of the store (click to make bigger):

“IKEA, as a private business, can require that coworkers and customers wear face coverings.

At this time, everyone must wear a face covering when in our store.* In accordance with CDC recommendations, this includes those who have received the COVID-19 vaccination.

They are absolutely correct, they are a private business and can require their customers to wear funny hats, green socks and orange shirts to enter the premises if they want to.

And we are private citizens who can chose to spend our money elsewhere. So we will.

So, again, I say thanks to IKEA for making the decision on where to spend our hard earned money that much easier.

The interesting thing is, if their website had been accurate and we’d been forewarned what to expect, there’s a good chance we’d have discussed it and decided that, as long as we limit the time we spend in there, she could tolerate wearing the mask long enough to go in, check out the mattresses and get out, and then she could wait in the truck while I went back in to make the purchase. What really caused us to just completely write them off was the fact that they took us by surprise by saying one thing on the website and another after we’ve already traveled almost 20 minutes to get to the store.

Needless to say, not only did IKEA miss out on the $500+ dollars we would have spent on a mattress and mattress pad and waterproof cover and sheets and pillows and a blanket or two, they’ve lost us as customers forever. My wife loved their store layout and enjoyed shopping there before this (honestly, I’ve never been a fan of their store layout and the quality of their products is…um…questionable at times…not to mention they’re anti-gun), so they’ve lost a loyal customer and many, possibly tens of, thousands of dollars in sales.

Granted, as a big chain IKEA isn’t going to give a rat’s patootie about losing one customer, but in my experience when loyal customers start getting annoyed enough to swear off a company, trouble isn’t far behind.

Goodbye IKEA, it’s been (notso)nice knowing you (see what I did there?).

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In reality, you’re on your own

Another friendly reminder from the US legal system (via Of Arms and the Law) that the Police are under no legal obligation to protect anyone:

Former boyfriend violates the protective order, stalks her, calls her 86 times. Police get two arrest warrants and … send them to former boyfriend via first class mail. Officer calls former boyfriend, tells him he will not be arrested.

Boyfriend fatally shoots the woman and kills himself.

Held, her parents cannot sue.

As much as society likes to pretend like we’re all in this together, when it comes down to it, we are ultimately responsible for ourselves in every respect from providing food and shelter, to defending ones own life and family from predators.

These are basic laws of nature. “Civilization” may mask these basic laws from time to time, and the division of labor and efficiency that comes from a society definitely makes these things easier, but these only soften the brutal truth of nature’s immutable laws, they don’t eliminate them. The only person responsible for your own survival is you.

By the way…I would submit that the above story is prima facia evidence that women should never date cops or anyone related to a cop. If the relationship turns abusive, can you count on the police to enforce the laws against one of their own?

In a perfect world the answer would always be “yes” but this is hardly a perfect world and by the time you figure out you’re in one of those places where the “thin blue line” is more about protecting the police from the public than the public from criminals, it may be too late.

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Shopping Follies

This is a public service announcement…buyer beware.

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I’m working on a project at home. I currently have a shop vac brand wet dry vacuum that is probably getting close to 30 years old. It still works but the motor is on its last legs so I decided to start looking for a new one.

Comparison shopping and all that, I was looking at Home Depot and found this one for a reasonable price.

The problem is that they don’t have any in stock in the store close to my work, so I checked the store closer to home…only to discover that the exact same product is more expensive when I select the other store.

And not just a little bit more expensive…about 27% more, just by selecting a different store. Oh…and the store with the higher price doesn’t have it in stock either. So, by selecting a store closer to home, I get to pay 27% more for the privilege of still having to wait until next week to pick it up.

I checked Lowe’s as well and the price I found for the item (which they have in stock) in the store close to work is the same price in the store close to home, and just for grins I checked a store about 700 miles away in my ancestral home of Indiana…same price. As it should be. I could see different prices in different areas of the country based on the local laws and price of doing business there, but to have wildly differing prices in stores just a few miles apart makes no sense to me.

My advice: avoid Home Depot unless you don’t mind taking the chance of paying more than you would have if you’d gone to the store a few miles away.

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PSA: Botach.com

This is a public service announcement.

There is a company based out of Nevada called Botach.com that sells cheap tactical, survival and shooting gear.

I’ve ordered things from them a couple of times and have been pleased with what I’ve gotten from them. They do sell things at pretty good prices.

But, fair warning: they may not pay for return shipping – even when return is no fault of your own.

I ordered a pair of boots from them. I don’t normally buy any type of clothing online because you can’t try them on, but they were very inexpensive for a fairly pricey brand name, and Botach.com has a 100% money back guarantee right? So I took the chance and ordered a pair.

I normally wear size 8.5 wide. If there is no wide version, I order a 9 and that’s usually a bit long, but fits good in width. They didn’t have a “wide” option so I ordered size 9.

Nope. They’re actually shorter in length than most 8.5’s I’ve bought and they are very narrow. I contacted Botach to make an exchange and they were happy to give me an RMA number, but refused to pay for shipping.

As far as I’m concerned, the product I ordered was defective…I ordered the right size, they’re sized incorrectly…so they should pay for return shipping. Nope. I checked prices at both UPS and the Postal Service and the cheapest shipping would be more than I paid for the boots to begin with.

I tried to leave a 1 star review on the product at Botach, but apparently their web site doesn’t allow that. Every time I try to post the review it says something like “you can’t post more than 3 reviews in 5 minutes” and refuses to post it…I tried twice with the same result.

That seems pretty shady if you ask me. That means you can’t trust the product reviews there either.

So, the bottom line is, although I’ve been pretty happy with my purchases from there up to this point, I’m no longer a Botach customer. They don’t truly honor the 100% money back guarantee they advertise and they prevent the posting of bad reviews.

Shooting is one of my two biggest interests. I spend a lot of money on shooting accessories and gear in a year. For the cost of shipping a pair of boots, they lost a good customer and hundreds if not thousands of dollars in sales a year for however many years I’ve got left in me.

Doesn’t seem like a very good trade-off to me, but if that’s the way they want to run their business…

At any rate, I just wanted to spread the word: buy from Botach.com at your own risk.

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Black Privilege

About two years ago, my wife and I were in the garage and we heard a big bang against the garage door. We quickly went outside and saw a group of black kids walking down the street. Now, normally the race of the kids wouldn’t even have crossed my mind, but it becomes relevant in a few minutes.

My wife yelled over to them, did one of you throw something at our house? They all said no, but then she told them, “we have security cameras, we’re going to find out if you’re lying to us”, at which point one of the kids said that he’d kicked a rock and it “accidentally” hit the garage door. My wife told him, “you should have just said that from the beginning, if it was an accident, just please be more careful”. They went on their way.

So then, we went back and checked the cameras…the kid clearly picked up a rock from the ground and threw it at the house.

Well, they had apparently just been going to the 7-11 on the corner, had done their business and were on their way back in the other direction heading home at about that time. My wife went back out and confronted them again. She told the kid that we had him on video throwing the rock directly at our house, not kicking it. She said something like “we live here, this is our home. How would you feel if I came by your place and threw rocks at your home?” The kid apologized and said he wasn’t trying to hit the house, he was just playing around and threw the rock harder than he intended to. She was in the process of telling him, basically, that’s OK, everyone makes mistakes, just please be more careful and be respectful of other people’s property etc etc etc when one of the other kids in the group yelled out something like “why you gotta pick on the black kids? Are you a racist?”. I have to admit that I’m impressed that she didn’t throttle the kid right then and there, but that’s black privilege right there.

You can’t chastise, argue with, correct, heck even disagree with a black person without being accused of being a racist. Cops can’t even arrest a long-time black criminal without being called racists and G-d forbid one of them get hurt or die while resisting arrest or the cops performing the lawful arrest will be charged and put on trial for it.

If you deny that you are a racist, it proves you are a racist. Blacks can do no wrong and cannot be criticized…oh…unless they’re conservative blacks, then all bets are off, they can be called every name in the book.

That was my convoluted way of introducing this incident:

So, backstory as I hear it: twenty something black “kid” in the neighborhood has been known to cause problems, has a criminal record and has been accused by one of the neighbors of assaulting their daughter, and he’s at that neighbor’s house banging on the door and wont’ go away. The neighbor enlists the assistance of an Army drill instructor who happens to live nearby. Drill instructor tries to get the problem “kid” to leave and that’s where the video picks up.

Of course, we miss the beginning so we have no context, we only see the white guy trying to get the black “kid” to leave the neighborhood. I hear no racial overtones at all in the video but since it’s a white guy against a black “kid”, it’s automatically racist. The Army, the City, the Sheriff, everyone in a position of authority automatically, reflexively and without a moment’s hesitation throws the white guy under the bus. He’s been relieved of duty and will probably lose his job and his pension. He’ll already been charged with assault and will be given the maximum sentence. He’ll be “canceled” from social media if he hasn’t already and he’s been doxxed so the “mostly peaceful” demonstrations have already started in his front yard. He and his family are in danger.

All because he had the audacity of trying to help out his neighbor and neighborhood by getting a problem out of the area.

Black privilege is real and it will ruin your life if you let it. My advice: Keep your head down and don’t get involved. Defend your family and your property and leave everyone else to fend for themselves.

That’s not how I grew up and I hate it, but that’s what our society has devolved into.

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Ammo Search Tool

In case anyone’s been living in a cave to wait out the demopocalypse, here’s some news: There’s an ammo shortage right now.

As a long time gun owner who’s been through this before, and a reloader to boot, I’m OK on ammo for every gun I had before the shortage began. I don’t have “enough”. I’m not sure there is an “enough”, but I can get by…with one exception:

Back in, oh, mid 2019, I stumbled across a deal on a 6.8spc BCG that I couldn’t pass up. I’ve wanted a rifle in 6.8spc for a while now. Since then I’ve been collecting parts here and there until finally, about November of last year I got it finished…and of course couldn’t find anything to feed it.

I found bullets. I found suitable powder. I have primers (good thing because those are made of unobtanium right now). But I can’t seem to find brass anywhere. I’ve got some on backorder.

So, every now and again, I go online just to see if I can find anything, anything at all, that I can feed the beast.

About a week ago I stumbled across this site:

Ammobuy.com

I’ve found a few of these aggregators or search sites before, but they’ve always been a bust. Click on the links and find that the seller is out of stock, but this one seems to actually work as advertised. I’ve found a few links that led to out of stock messages, but I’d expect that occasionally considering how fast ammo is flying off the shelves right now…and the vast majority of the links on the site have been accurate.

I’m not necessarily saying that the ammo you’ll find listed there will be cheap…or even reasonably priced based on “normal” demand…but if you’re desperate and “have” to get some ammo, the site will help you find it.

With this site, I was able to locate some VERY EXPENSIVE 6.8spc ammo. I ordered two boxes for way more than I should have, but at least I’ve got some ammo for test firing and I’ll have 40 pieces of brass to use for test loads and zeroing. Haven’t gotten it yet but UPS assures me it will be here in the next few days.

I just thought I’d spread the word about this well done site in case anyone else out there is looking for ammo during these trying times.

BTW: I am not receiving any compensation of any kind from this endorsement. I’m sure if you mentioned me or my blog to the proprietors of ammobuy.com, they’d say “who?”.

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Is Signal a false flag?

Over the past few days, I’ve seen several columns, articles and comments claiming that the Signal secure SMS system is run by the CIA or a CIA spinoff and/or is owned by Twitter.

Disclaimer: I’m just a layperson and this is based on the limited time I’ve had to research things and my own common sense. I could easily be wrong. I’m just providing you with information so that you can make a more informed decision. Personally, I’m not worried about Signal.

This apparently stems from This Article by a journalist named Yasha Levine.

It’s basically a bunch of “connect the dots” conspiracy theories that rely on innuendo rather than evidence.

First, is Signal owned by Twitter? No, that’s the easy one. That one isn’t a claim made by Levine, but I believe it’s based on a misunderstanding about one of the points he raises in his article.

The Signal Encryption Protocol (upon which the Signal App’s end to end encryption is based) was invented a guy named Moxie Marlinspike. Moxie Marlinspike was one of the founders of a company called “Whisper Systems” that was acquired by Twitter in 2011. It is possible that some precursor encryption protocol was acquired by Twitter in the sale, but the Signal Encryption Protocol didn’t exist at the time of the sale. Moxie Marlinspike started a new, nonprofit called “Open Whisper Systems” in 2013 and that’s where the Signal Encryption Protocol was developed. Twitter had and has nothing to do with it.

Secondly, the “Signal is a CIA false flag” charge.

Again, the Signal Protocol was developed by Moxie Marlinspike in 2013. It was at that time called “TextSecure” and was incorporated into an open source messaging app by the same name. The name was changed to the Signal Protocol in 2016 and the Signal App was born.

Before I delve into the “evidence” against Signal, I want to talk about my impressions about Mr. Levine.

I’m the first to decry the use of ad-hominems in an argument because if the information provided is true, it doesn’t matter where it came from, but in a case like this where the information is based more on innuendo and “analysis” than facts, it is important to get a feeling for the possible motivations of the person providing the analysis.

A little searching on the internet reveals that Yasha Levine is an immigrant from the USSR. On it’s face, that’s no big deal…in fact it could be a positive, but I don’t think it is. The first thing that caught my attention is the titles of a few of his pieces including A Journey Through California’s Oligarch Valley and The Koch Brothers: A Short History.

The next thing I noted was the publications he has written for. The list is a who’s who of leftist pablum: Wired, The Nation, Slate, TIME, The New York Observer, etc.

Finally, I find that he’s one of the co-founders of the “S.H.A.M.E project”, which is nothing more than an exercise in maligning prominent right leaning journalists and commentators by prodigious use of out of context or misleading quotes and information, or just good old fashioned guilt by association.

So, Levine is a refugee from an oppressive Socialist regime, but apparently his takeaway was to hate “oligarchs” rather than Socialism itself. I can’t say I blame him for disliking Oligarchs considering the fact that in the USSR, Oligarchs attained their wealth and power primarily through corruption, political connections and ruthless abuse of power – but failing to consider the role that the form of government itself had in enabling this behavior is a fatal flaw in my opinion.

At any rate, Levin is a dedicated leftist. So, what possible motivation could he have for maligning a communication avenue that is becoming increasingly popular on the right?

Hm…quite the mystery.

So…what about his claim about Signal?

Apparently, he bases his entire premise that Signal is a false flag for the CIA on three paragraphs from this article in the Wall Street Journal.

Around that time, the State Department was looking to use technology to support pro-democracy movements overseas. Mr. Marlinspike’s work caught the attention of Ian Schuler, manager of the department’s Internet freedom programs. Encrypted messaging was viewed as a way for dissidents to get around repressive regimes.

With help from Mr. Schuler, Radio Free Asia’s Open Technology Fund, which is funded by the government and has a relationship with the State Department, granted Mr. Marlinspike more than $1.3 million between 2013 and 2014, according to the fund’s website.

Mr. Marlinspike was hardly a conventional Washington player. He and a government official missed meeting one another at a San Francisco burrito joint because the visitor assumed the dreadlocked Mr. Marlinspike couldn’t be the person he was there to see, Messrs. Schuler and Marlinspike said.

The fact that the State Department liked his work and he received a grant from a government sponsored fund is firm evidence that the Signal Protocol is compromised?

More of that patented innuendo and out of context information that Mr. Levin is so fond of.

What about counter evidence? Well, there’s the fact that there have been several analysis and reviews of Textsecure an Signal over the years, none of which have found any major issues with the encryption protocol or have indicated that it may be compromised in any way. These are not the contributions of a “journalist” with an axe to grind against the right, but analysis of cybersecurity experts from such organizations as The University of Waterloo, The University of Bonn, Stanford University, The Electronic Frontier Foundation, The University of Applied Sciences Austria…

I could go on but I think you get the drift.

Personally, I’d rather rely on crypto security experts more than a leftist journalist who relies on innuendo and vague conspiracy theories.

But that’s just me, what do I know?

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