Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Security Vulnerability in Adobe PDF Reader

FYI, because much of the info you download from the Internet is in PDF format.

There is a zero day security exploit for the Adobe PDF Reader that is currently out in the wild and for which there is no patch.  It exploits a vulnerability in Reader’s Javascript implementation.

Details here.

If you must use Adobe Reader you should disable Javascript until this is fixed.

  • On Windows, launch Adobe Reader and go to Edit > Preferences > JavaScript and uncheck Enable Acrobat JavaScript.
  • On a Mac, launch Adobe Reader go to the Adobe Reader menu > Preferences > JavaScript and uncheck Enable Acrobat JavaScript.

Alternative free PDF viewers are on Mac (included with OS X), and Foxit Reader on Windows.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Incoming Train Wreck and Gold Prices

Found on PrudentBear, via Clayton Cramer:

The rise in the gold price above $1,100 per ounce last week is a pretty good indicator that something has changed. For 18 months, the gold price had been in a trading range topping out around $1,000. It has now broken out decisively from that range. The opportunity for the world's central banks to change policy and affect the economic outcome has been lost. The world economy is now locked on to an undeviating track towards another train wreck.

At most times, the gold price is not an economically significant indicator. In 1980-2000, it declined irregularly from $850 to around $280, and movements in it seemed to have had little or no effect on the global economy. That's what you'd expect; even at $1,000 per ounce, the global production of gold is only around $100 billion annually, which would put the entire world's gold extraction industry only 17th on the Fortune 500. When Gordon Brown sold Britain's entire gold reserves in 1999, at a price below $300 per ounce, it seemed a defensible decision. I went to a meeting in 2001 hosted by a diverse group which believed that the U.S. Treasury was conspiring to suppress the gold price, and my main thought was: why would Treasury bother?

However, in relatively few periods, gold becomes of immense importance. When investors lose trust in conventional currencies, because monetary policy appears set to debauch them, gold is the immediately available safe haven. During such periods, gold's former importance as a store of value becomes uppermost in the public mind, and its price becomes a major economic indicator.
The entire article is worth reading.  In a related vein:

NEW YORK ( -- Gold prices surged to record highs yet again Monday, topping $1,139 an ounce, as investors continue to favor the precious metal over currencies like the U.S. dollar.

Gold for December delivery jumped $22.50, or 2%, to settle at a record $1,139.20 a troy ounce Monday. That easily trounces the closing price for Friday, when gold settled at its previous record of $1,116.70 an ounce.

After the close, the price continued to move even higher in electronic trading.


I don't consider myself a "gold bug."  However, a couple things caused me to revise my thinking about gold and other precious metals:

  1. Comments by Fernando "FerFAL" Aguirre, author of the Surviving in Argentina blog.  He does have real-life experience with this, after all.
  2. Second-hand comments by someone high up the food chain at a major Wall Street investment firm, relayed to me through my accountant back in the Spring.
In my opinion PMs are worth serious consideration as a prep, not necessarily as an "investment" in the sense that they'll increase in value, but rather as a hedge against inflation and/or the drop of the dollar's value against other currencies, which will cause the cost of imported goods to rise.

Edit 11/18/09 at 12:38: I should clarify number 2, above.  The discussion was not about investment advice.  Rather it was about the state of the economy then and where we thought it was heading.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

"Us and Them" in a Societal Collapse

Over on Survivalblog, JWR posted a letter from a retired US Army warrant officer with experience in several real-world SHTF situations.

Having worked for the Army for 27 years in a number of different failed countries I may have a unique perspective on survival that I would like to share with your readers. I believe most of the "survivalist community" is vastly underestimating the impact that other humans are going to have on their plans. Hunkering down and waiting for everyone to die off is a simplistic plan and I believe has almost no chance of working. You may be able to hide your retreat, but you can't hide the land it sits on. That land itself may become a scarce commodity if the US transitions to an agrarian economy.

Food is the key resource. Most communities are at risk because they simply don't have enough calories stored to get them through any kind of crisis. But, storage is no more than limited capital to allow people time to grow more food. Food production requires land....if your retreat is sitting on farmable land, it will be a scarce resource.

Carrying capacity of the US using non-petroleum farming techniques is far lower than most of your readers probably think. Also, most areas of the US, especially cities, don't have anywhere near enough farm-able land to go back to some kind of agrarian pattern. Without public infrastructure and modern transportation, we are going to experience a huge die-off caused mostly by starvation. In a total collapse scenario without immediate restoration of the economy, basically everyone who lives in a city is doomed unless they can take over some kind of farm land.

Go read the whole thing.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Eotac Operator Field Jacket Review

Last Saturday I attended the Second Annual Zombie Shoot at Langhorne Rod and Gun Club.  One of the shoot sponsors was Rogue Elite, owned by my friend JY.  He gave me an Eotac Model 502 Field Jacket in Lizard camo to T&E.  The jacket is also available in OD, coyote brown, and black.

I've had a couple different kinds of field jackets/combat smocks over the years -- a couple American M-65s and a replica of a British WW2 Second Pattern Denison Smock from What Price Glory.

The M-65 field jacket design draws its roots from the M-43 field jacket that GIs wore during WW2.  It's a cotton shell with an insulating liner that buttons in.  From WW2 through the 1980s it was issued in OD green, then in woodland camo. (Commercial copies have been made in other colors and camo patterns, like black, navy, and desert camo.) It's a pretty good Winter coat, but even with the Quarpel treatment, only water repellent, not waterproof.  The M-65 has four pockets and a hood which rolls up into the collar.

The Denison smock was originally intended as a garment which could fit over a paratrooper's clothing and web gear during a drop.  It provided camo, extra pockets, and was intended to prevent the web gear from getting caught in the parachute's lines.  It also became popular with the Commandos and some officers wore them as status symbols.

The Denison has four external pockets and two internal.  WW2 Denisons have only a half zip and are thus pullover garments.  They are a shell only.  A notable feature of the Denison smocks is the "tail," which hangs down from the back and can be snapped between the wearer's legs so to prevet it from riding up during a jump.  They do not have a hood and are made from cotton twill.

The Eotac field jacket was based on a 1950s European (I believe it was French) design.  Like the Denison, it's made from 9 oz. cotton twill and is therefore somewhat wind resistant.  The fabric is preshrunk has been given a DuPont Teflon treatment to add water and stain resistance.  This won't make it waterproof but should extend the life of the fabric.  I may spray it down with Scotchguard to add a little more water repellency.

Like the Denison, the Eotac has a half zip for the top half of the front, while the lower half can be secured via snaps.  Unlike the Denison it's not a pullover, which makes donning or doffing it much easier.

What I really like about the Eotac field jacket is the number and arrangement of pockets.  There are no less than seven pockets on just the front of the jacket:

  • Two cargo pockets near the bottom.
  • Two more on the chest,
  • Zippered Napolean pockets behind the chest bellows pockets, and
  • A pen pocket sewn to the front of the left chest cargo pocket.

There is also a small zippered pocket with a pen slot on the top of the left sleeve.  This might be a good place for a bandage or a space blanket.  All four cargo pockets have elastic loops sewn in, which can be used for securing flashlights, pistol magazines, knives with pocket clips, etc.  The cargo pockets can be secured shut with snaps; there are two rows of snaps per pocket which you can use according to how full each pocket is.

Aside from the exterior pockets, there are also four pockets on the inside, two near the bottom and two on the chest.  These can be securely shut with Velcro straps and also have the elastic loops.

All the snaps on the cargo pockets are covered with rubber, so they don't click when they bang against something.

The cargo pockets are perfectly sized to hold a S&W J-Frame revolver in a pocket holster.  My Springfield XD-9 with a 4" barrel will fit in the cargo pockets without flopping around.  A 5" M1911 is a little too big to fit in the pockets but it looks like a Commander would fit.  The elastic loops in the pockets can be used to secure revolver reloads in a Bianchi Speed Strip.  If you're packing an autoloader, the elastic loops are sized to properly fit a double column 9mm or .40 S&W magazine or single column .45 mag.

With all these pockets one could lose track of gear you're carrying.  That said, if you keep things organized, for some who is in a situation where full "rattle battle" gear is overkill, a properly setup Eotac Field Jacket could act as a form of load bearing equipment in lieu of a combat vest.  If a situation develops where you need to investigate something around the home or farm in a hurry, a properly setup Eotac FJ would allow you to get ready quickly with a sidearm, reloads, flashlight, battle dressing, etc.

Other features of the jacket include a Mandarin collar, epaulets, a drawstring around the bottom, and elastic cuffs with adjustable snaps.

Like the Denison smock, the Eotac FJ lacks both a hood and a means of adding an insulating liner.  Of course, one can still layer, and if you have the proper size FJ, wearing it on top of a fleece jacket or vest would be a good combination down to around 30 degrees, possibly a bit colder.

So why in this age of modern fabrics like softshells would you want an old fashioned cotton field jacket?  Ruggedness, for one.  Softshells are nice (AAMOF, I have an expensive Mountain Hardware softshell), water and wind resistant.  But if you think you'll be going prone, busting through brush, or other activities which similarly abuse your clothing, it's hard to beat the tough wearing appeal of cotton.  Additionaly, compared with syntehtics, cotton breathes much better.  For example, at the aforementioned LRGC Zombie shoot where I got the Eotac FJ it rained all day, with temps in the 60s F.  I wore a set of German surplus rain gear (parka and pants).  They kept the rain off but I sweated quite a bit, so by lunchtime I was soaked anyway.  I would not have been much wetter had I worn my Denison to the shoot.

Also, it's my understanding that as long as you don't wash a cotton garment with detergent that has brightners in it, it'll be less visible through night vision gear than nylon.  One could layer the Eotac FJ over a modern technical fleece or softshell for the best of both worlds.

Finally, compared with synthetic hardshells, a cotton jacket is quite a bit quieter when you brush against foliage.

There are a couple things which would improve the Eotac FJ, in my opinion:

1. As mentioned above, a full-length, two-way zipper.  I understand the rationale behind the current half-zip, but I prefer a full length two way zipper.  I may take mine to a tailor and have it replaced.

2. A roll-up hood similar to the one on the M-65 FJ would be nice.  At least some of the current British combat smocks, descendents of the WW2 Denison smock feature this.

With those two nit-picks aside, the Eotac Field Jacket is a really nice piece of kit with excellent attention to detail.  The quality of workmanship is top-notch.  The fabric is high quality and the sewing is excellent.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Zombie Shoot and Lessons Learned

Over on Blog O'Stuff I posted an after action report for Langhorne Rod & Gun Club's Second Annual Zombie Shoot.  I posted it there since we all know zombies aren't real (Oh really?).  After my description of the stages, though, I've included some observations about gear and shooting which are relevant to preps, so check it out.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Money in War-Ravaged Iraq

I found this article from interesting, in light of the possibble collapse of the US dollar due to government mismanagement of the economy:

There has been much ado concerning the Federal Reserve's doubling of the monetary base this past year. Many believe a currency crisis or hyperinflation of the dollar is imminent. Some go as far as to say that this crisis will destroy America.


In the villages, houses and boats needed to be repaired or rebuilt, roads needed attention, and parents wanted to get their children back in school. In order to do all these wonderful things, a medium of exchange was needed. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending onhow you look at it, the villagers did not put much faith in the paper money printed by the government in Baghdad.
As this was an agrarian society the villagers turned to a time-tested medium of exchange: livestock. In the villages all households had some sheep, and the more affluent houses had very large herds. Goods were exchanged, debts repaid, and business contracts agreed upon all using sheep as money.


The river water, while great for crops and livestock, was not ideal for human consumption, and therefore clean drinking water became a very valuable commodity. The bottled water brought in from the larger cities was one of the most sought-after commodities in the village, and I soon noticed villagers pricing items in not only sheep, but bottles of drinking water as well.

Then there was the standard wartime medium of exchange: cigarettes. The villagers smoked cigarettes every evening with chai tea. They were bought in the cities and brought back by the truck load. As a result they were not as valuable as sheep or bottled water; however they served as small change for the villagers.

Full article.

Adapt and Improvise

(Originally posted on Blog O'Stuff.)

When law abiding people are subjected to oppressive gun laws which make it difficult to obtain weapons, accessories, and ammo, they improvise.  Over at the Firearm Blog there are a couple of posts describing how a gun enthusiast in Nigeria is making the best of a bad situation.

According to the first post, Nigeria's gun control laws are very strict and civilians are pretty much limited to shotguns.  Unfortunately, Emmanuel was only able to obtain a Turkish made shotgun with a pistol grip stock, sans butt stock.  Pistol grip only (AKA "PGO") shotguns have very limited use.  Compared with a shotgun having a conventional stock, a PGO shotgun is much harder to shoot well.  Improvising with a piece of steel rod and a walking stick, Emmanuel made a butt stock so that he can more effectively use his shotgun.

In the second post, Emmanuel recounts how the only ammunition available is birdshot.  Birdshot is fine for birds and small game but a poor choice for self defense.  It doesn't offer enough penetration to reliably reach vital organs and stop a determined aggressor.

Once again, Emmauel improvised.  Using a metal plate, a nut and a bolt, to make a mold, he extracts the birdshot from shells, melts them, and casts his own slugs.

Go check out the links, they are worth your time.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Thoughts on Selecting a Home Defense Shotgun

For my first substantive post after resuming this blog, I am going to discuss selecting a shotgun for home defense.  This post is based on a reply I made to an email list which was prompted by a member's question about getting a female friend equipped to defend herself, so read it in that light.  The friend is a newcomer to shooting, lives in a rural area, and aside from defense against bipedal predators, also has some black bear on her land.

Of note, this is not idle exercise for her, either.  She's already had a couple of incidents which could've gone sour.  When seconds count, the police are only minutes -- or in her case longer -- away.

In large measure what's below is based on this thread in the Shotgun forum at THR.

Some key points gleaned from that thread and elsewhere, including my own experience:

1. 20 gauge guns are often recommended for women because everything else being equal, they recoil less than 12 gauge.

2. Everything is not always equal.  20 gauge guns often weigh much less than 12 gauge shotguns.  Thus, they recoil just as badly as a 12.

3. If she is strong enough to handle the weight of a 7 lb. 12 gauge I'd go with that, set it up with the correct length of pull stock with a GOOD recoil pad (Pachymar Decellerator or Limbsaver, or a Hogue stock with their recoil pad.  Hogue sells a youth-length stock which a lot of men use on fighting shotguns b/c a short length of pull is advantageous in that application.  I have one on my HD Mossberg 500.).  Proper gun fit is very important.  If necessary have a gunsmith shorten the stock and install a recoil pad.

4. Use light loads for initial familiarization.  E.g., low brass target loads with #8 or #7.5 shot.  Birdshot is usually a poor choice for self defense because it doesn't penetrate well.  (See the pictures of testing against ballistic gelatin, here.)  If you must use birdshot, use high brass loads with larger shot sizes.  Remember that the higher the number the smaller the shot.  E.g., #8 shot is smaller than #4 shot.  Also, #4 birdshot is not the same as #4 buckshot.  Buckshot is larger.

5. For defense get some reduced recoil 00 buckshot from Federal, Remington, Hornady or Winchester.  This stuff is more expensive than the bulk packs you can find at Wal-Mart but kicks much less and often patterns better.  Lighter recoil allows faster shot-to-shot recovery.  This may need to be ordered online if you cannot find it locally.  For what it's worth, I use the Federal reduced recoil 00 "Tactical" buckshot with "Flite Control" wads in my HD shotguns.

6. 12 gauge ammo is the most common and is frequently less expensive than 20 gauge, especially when it comes to buckshot and slugs.

I saw that Wes suggested a single barrel 20 gauge.  The problem with these is that they are light and thus kick hard.  (I have an H&R Topper 20 gauge and it's not real fun to shoot.  A 12 gauge single barrel is worse.)

Some specific gun recommendations:

1. If your budget permits, pick up a used slide action 12 gauge such as a law enforcement trade-in, either a Remington 870 or a Mossberg 500.  They are generally pretty easy to find, cheap, and spare parts are readily available.  I picked up my 1951-vintage Remington 870 Wingmaster for $170 out the door in the Summer of 2008.  Prices have gone up a bit since the November 2008 election, but LE trade-ins are still a good choice.  Many of these shotguns have seen a fair amount of time in racks, have been loaded and cleared many times, but shot very little.  As a result, they may be somewhat rough on the outside but very smooth operating.  My Wingmaster fell into this category.

If your are not willing to practice enough to get familiar with the manual of arms for a pump gun then move on to #2 or #3 below.

2. Used side-by-side double barreled 12 gauge shotgun, e.g., a Savage/Stevens 311 or Stoeger Uplander.

3. Used side-by-side double barreled 20 gauge shotgun.

Note: Unfortunately, these days a used double gun will probably cost more than a used slide action shotgun.

4. Single barrel shotgun.  Despite the fact that they hold only one shot, they can fired quite quickly with some practice.  A downside, as noted above, is that because of their light weight, they tend to kick hard.  Get a good slip-on recoil pad and this can be mitigated somewhate.  One very nice thing about them is that used singles can be acquired very cheaply, often for $100 or less.

You'll note that I did not mention semiautos.  I am not a fan of semiautos for new shooters.  A manually operated shotgun will typically be more reliable and easier to fix if something goes wrong.  A manually operated gun is also easier to learn fire discipline with.  YMMV.

Whatever you buy, if you're buying a gun for someone else, make sure she is the one who ultimately chooses the gun, so that she's more likely to have a gun that fits and that she's comfortable with.

Finally, just having a gun does not mean that you're armed.  You need training on how to safely load, unload, and shoot the gun.  Just as importantly, you need to know the laws governing the use of deadly force in your jurisdiction.  GET TRAINING.

Reopening for Business

I've decided to bring this blog back out of hiatus.  Even with no posts since January, it's still getting a decent number of hits.  With the current state of the world economy, I feel that the information I can share here is very much on point.

So, anyway, here we go again.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


I've decided to refocus my blogging efforts on my main site, Dave's Blog O'Stuff.  Separating out this blog was an interesting experiment, but it'll be easier for me to manage one site instead of multiple blogs.  I won't delete this blog but for the foreseeable future, topics which may have appeared here will instead appear on the Blog O'Stuff.