Ebola: OK, it’s crunch time

This morning’s headlines about the latest Ebola outbreak in the Congo make grim reading. Butembo, with more than 1 million residents, is now reporting cases of the deadly hemorrhagic fever. That complicates Ebola containment work already challenged by rebel attacks elsewhere that have made tracking the virus almost impossible in some isolated villages. “We are very concerned by the epidemiological situation in the Butembo area,” said John Johnson, project coordinator with Medecins Sans Frontieres in the city. New cases are increasing quickly in the eastern suburbs and outlying, isolated districts, the medical charity said. . . . This is by far

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Where was this guy when we needed him???

A link at SNAFU’s place showed me a fast, ingenious way to fill sandbags. When I think of the literally thousands of never-to-be-sufficiently-damned sandbags that I filled the hard way, bending over with an entrenching tool and scooping sand, earth, mud and rock into a bag that always flopped closed at the critical moment . . . I’m speechless with a combination of rage, envy and bitterness.  Why didn’t we think of such an ingenious device when we needed it?  (On the other hand, if we had, I’m not sure our NCO’s would have let us use it.  The old-fashioned way would probably have been

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Ebola’s still getting worse, and I’m getting worried

The most recent Ebola outbreak, about which we’ve written before in these pages, is steadily getting worse. The Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo is now the second biggest in history, with 426 confirmed and probable cases, the health ministry said late on Thursday. The epidemic in a volatile part of Democratic Republic of Congo is now only surpassed by the 2013-2016 outbreak in West Africa, where more than 28,000 cases where confirmed, and is bigger than an outbreak in 2000 in Uganda involving 425 cases. Ebola is believed to have killed 245 people in North Kivu and Ituri provinces where attacks by armed groups and

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New toy

Following Mike’s recommendation concerning larger-caliber firearms, I’ve been trying to upgrade my defensive battery.  Ideally, I’d like to replace my .38 Specialsnubnose revolvers with .44 Special equivalents, accepting the slightly larger size and greater weight of the latter in return for greater power and (hopefully) better performance. In the process, I happened to run across this beauty.  (Click the image for a larger view.) It’s a Taurus Model 431, a fixed-sight 5-shot .44 Special revolver.  This example is one of the relatively rare 4″ barrel models (most were made with 3″ or shorter barrels).  It was made during the 1980’s, but is in near-mint condition,

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Ebola: the latest outbreak is dangerously close to out-of-control

The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is getting worse – and health care authorities, organizations and workers are losing control. Health workers have been forced to open up a new and particularly perilous front after 28 people died of Ebola in and around Butembo, a city of approximately 1.2 million people that is located in the heart of the country’s most volatile regions … a lawless area that is infested with rebel groups, freelance militias and armed criminal gangs. . . . The disease is also spreading into rural areas around the city that aid workers cannot access because they

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The Ka-Bar Tac Tool: way overpriced for what it offers

In a great many markets for self-defense, security, do-it-yourself, “tacticool” and similar products, there’s a high volume of hype and exaggeration in advertising.  Most of it is completely without foundation.  It’s meant to appeal to the “boys and their toys” market, where (sadly) many men can be seduced into buying something because it’s the latest and greatest and “coolest” thing out there.  Whether or not it’s worth its asking price is seldom asked.  We looked at earlier manifestations of this in 2014, in terms of wilderness and survival tools and knives, and also last August, when we examined two wrecking tools from the same

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Time to upgrade my Glocks

Glock pistols have been on the market since 1982, and have come to dominate the civilian and law enforcement handgun market in the USA.  They’ve been through several models as improvements were made, and in response to new technologies and techniques. I standardized on third-generation Glocks in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.  The image below (and the subsequent two pictures) show the mid-size Glock 19 model.  All images courtesy of Glock USA. They worked very well for me, and their simplicity (with far fewer parts than competing pistols – simple is good!) appealed to me.  When the fourth-generation Glock (Gen4) pistols (shown below)

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The cashless society is meeting opposition again – this time from banks

We’ve discussed the so-called “cashless society” in these pages on prior occasions.  I’m fundamentally opposed to it for several reasons, not least of which is the added control it provides to Big Brother to monitor and control our every financial transaction.  However, its practical disadvantages now appear to be taking center stage with central and commercial banks. “The digitalized system, it is easy for someone in Russia, China, whatever to just shut it off,” Björn Eriksson, the head of a pro-cash lobby group Cash Uprising and former head of crime-fighting agency Interpol. “[Cash] you can hide in your car, or your

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Dealing with a riot or political unrest

We’ve seen how demonstrations on both the left and right of US politics have led to increasing violence on our streets.  For those of us living in cities where this sort of thing is common, it’s an unpleasant reminder that we aren’t necessarily safe from extremists, even in our own homes.  There’s also the criminal element that takes advantage of such unrest for its own purposes.  Those of us living further away from such incidents may nevertheless find ourselves at risk if we have to travel to other centers. Greg Ellifritz, whom we’ve met in these pages before, recently compiled a

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Bite-size snapshots of life in Chicago

Chicago Magazine has just published what appears to be the third in a series of vignettes of life in that city, as seen through the eyes of some of those who live and work there.  This one’s from the perspective of emergency room physicians.  Here are a few excerpts. “Your body is plumbing, electricity, and structure. Bones are the structure, electricity is the nerves in your brain, and plumbing is the blood vessels that supply oxygen to your tissues. Broken plumbing is going to kill you first, unless you get shot in the brain. I’m a glorified plumber at the end

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