Matters of Concern: 2022-04-15
Russia, subway shooting, baby formula shortage, upcoming ATF gun rule change, Shanghai lockdown, and snakes in the water, plus: what's happening on our homestead.
In addition to the usual updates on Russia and the economy, we talk about why you should always carry a tourniquet, offer suggestions on handling the baby formula shortage, discuss the upcoming ATF rule change for guns, debunk a crazy conspiracy theory involving COVID and snakes, and explore the lockdowns in China. Plus, I give you a look at our homestead.
Why You Should Always Carry a Tourniquet
In what I can only describe as a macabre coincidence, the day after I recommended that you carry a first-aid kit with a tourniquet, the mass shooting in the New York City subway perfectly illustrated the importance of being medically prepared.
The same photo zoomed out is a gruesome scene of gunshot victims having articles of clothing tied around their legs to slow the bleeding. I applaud the quick-thinking folks who probably saved several lives (no one has yet died from the shooting), but clothes are no replacement for a proper tourniquet. Buy a good tourniquet and carry it with you at all times.
Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could be helpful by holding up the tourniquet and shouting “Does anyone know how to use a tourniquet?” In a big city like New York, chances are someone will.
A while back, I vowed to start carrying a tourniquet, but the shooting made me get serious about it. I asked Tom Rader to recommend a belt-mounted tourniquet holder and he pointed me to the one from Blue Alpha. It’s on the way and I’ll let you know how I like it.
When you think about it, it’s amazing that so many carry handguns “just in case,” but don’t think about carrying anything to treat gunshot wounds “just in case.” I am as guilty of that as anyone, but it’s something we should all take more responsibility for, especially those of us who carry firearms.
That said, if you don’t have a tourniquet, don’t let that stop you from trying to help. In 2013, a man in Toronto accidentally cut his own throat open, and actor John Malkovich jumped in with a scarf, putting pressure on the bleed, saving the man’s life.
Russia is now officially in default because it refuses to pay its debts in dollars and instead insists on paying in rubles.
In related news, Sri Lanka is now also in default, and all hell seems to be breaking loose there. Are these isolated cases, or is something bigger brewing?
Things are slowly escalating between the US and Russia. President Biden first called Putin a war criminal earlier this week, and later accused Russia of genocide. That followed unsubstantiated reports of the Russians using chemical weapons in Ukraine. Meanwhile, Putin says peace talks are at a dead end, which should surprise no one.
And of course, China had to stick their nose in it.
Now Russia is threatening to move nuclear weapons to the Baltics if Finland and Sweden join NATO. Have you read our nuclear war survival guide?
Something to keep an eye on: Russia’s flagship, the Moskva, has been sunk. Ukraine claims it hit the ship with a cruise missile. Russia says it was due to an ammunition explosion and storms. In either case, the Russians are pissed.
In January, Forbes called it “the most powerful warship in the Black Sea.” You may also remember the Moskva from “Russian warship, go f*** yourself” fame.
Something else to watch in terms of escalation: Russia is promising to treat US and NATO vehicles carrying weapons into Ukraine as military targets.
Let’s hope we have enough ammo if worse comes to worst.
Economy and Supply Chain
Meanwhile, inflation only seems to be getting worse.
Producer prices are also through the roof. Per Reuters:
The report from the Labor Department on Wednesday also showed strong underlying inflation pressures at the factory gate, raising doubts that a decline in the cost of goods, excluding food and energy, in March reported in Tuesday's consumer prices data would be sustainable. Economists expect the U.S. central bank will hike rates by 50 basis points next month, and soon start trimming its asset portfolio.
Meanwhile, Amazon is slapping third-party sellers with a 5% fuel and inflation surcharge.
One bit of good news: lumber prices are finally falling. But the reason they’re falling is that the housing market is sinking, which is probably bad.
The FBI is warning that “cyber actors” (probably Russians) have infiltrated industrial control systems. It’s time to brush up on your cyber warfare preps.
What caused the alert is a malware toolkit called Pipedream, which has been called a “Swiss Army Knife” for taking down critical infrastructure.
What the Heck’s Going on in China?
We’ve been tracking disturbing COVID lockdowns in China, especially in Shanghai over the past few weeks, but haven’t reported on it yet because it wasn’t affecting anyone outside of China… until now.
There have been massive food shortages in Shanghai and people are starving.
One of the takeaways is that food, beer, and cigarettes are highly valued, while cash is seen as worthless. In terms of SHTF preparedness, you’re better off stockpiling forever foods than precious metals and crypto.
Shanghai accounts for 10% of China’s exports, and the lockdown is affecting the production of goods like cars and computers. We’re already seeing extended delivery times of MacBook Pro laptops due to the lockdowns.
Baby Formula Shortage
There is now a nationwide baby formula shortage, leading many major retailers to ration it.
We have three kids, but my family has been fortunate enough to not have to buy much formula. My wife breastfeeds and pumps when she’s had to. She’s been breastfeeding and pumping for nearly a decade and recommends the Spectra C2 pump. Your health insurance may pay for it. If you’re a new or expectant mother, see if your insurance will pay for a lactation consultant, which can be a huge help.
But breastfeeding and pumping aren’t always options. When our daughter was having trouble nursing early on, we considered making her baby formula with one of the recipes from the Weston A. Price Foundation1. We decided to stick with commercial formula because we didn’t need enough formula to make buying all the homemade ingredients worthwhile and we didn’t want to set off an alarm with the pediatrician2. But if we couldn’t buy formula at all… as they say, fed is best.
Biden’s Rule Change on Guns
This week, President Biden announced an upcoming ATF rule change targeting “ghost guns,” though the rule hasn’t actually been released yet, and when it is, it’ll probably be stuck in the courts for years.
To understand what politicians and the media mean when they say “ghost gun,” it’s important to understand an oddity in the ATF rulebook. In the ATF’s eyes, the only part of an AR-15 that legally counts as the gun is the lower receiver, which is a chunk of metal or plastic that holds the magazine and trigger, and is what the stock attaches to. The lower receiver is where the serial number is stamped.
Under the current rules, you need a background check from an FFA dealer to purchase a lower receiver. If you buy one online, it must be shipped to the FFA dealer, and you can take possession once you’ve passed the background check. After that, you can buy the rest of your gun’s parts online — likely in a kit — and have them shipped to your door from a place like Palmetto State Armory. That is not a ghost gun, because a background check is required, but it’s key to understanding what a ghost gun is.
Lower receivers are very simple. Some people make their own with 3D printers. That would be a ghost gun. Some stores sell what are called 80% receivers, which are blocks of metal or plastic that are 80% complete that the purchasers must then finish machining to use. Those do not have to be registered and don’t require a background check since they’re not technically guns. An AR-15 built with a completed 80% receiver would be a “ghost gun.”
There are a handful of firearms that can be manufactured entirely at home, like the 3D-printed FGC-9 and things like zip guns. Those would be considered “ghost guns.”
We don’t know specifically what’s in the rule change yet, but from what I am hearing, it would make kits like those from Palmetto State Armory require a background check to purchase, and may even require serializing every part of a gun before it is sold.
Insane Conspiracy Theory About COVID and Snake Venom
There is a new conspiracy theory that claims that COVID-19 isn’t caused by a virus, but instead by a cabal dumping snake venom in the water supply. And not just any snake venom, but King Cobra venom! Yet somehow, it’s gotten enough traction that people are asking me about it.
I… I don’t know where to start with this. Let’s make a list:
Snake venom is insanely expensive, especially King Cobra venom, which is the second-most expensive venom in the world. A single gallon costs $153,000.
Why is snake venom so expensive? Because you have to “milk” it from the snake by hand, which is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.
While I wouldn’t recommend it, you’d probably be fine if you drank snake venom, because your stomach acid would break it down. There’s even something called snake wine, where a venomous snake is soaked in booze. It usually doesn’t kill those who imbibe it.
Snake venom affects your central nervous system, leading to paralysis. That’s not what COVID does.
King Cobras are a threatened species. There just aren’t that many of them.
So let me get this straight: a Satanic cabal has apparently poured billions of dollars into dumping King Cobra venom in the water supply, presumably with large facilities full of snake milkers working around the clock to produce enough venom?
I even watched the originating video to see what the evidence is. In part: an episode of The Blacklist and a fortune cookie. I’m not making this up.
Some conspiracy theories turn out to be true and others are at least plausible. This one is pants-on-head stupid. Not even the old G.I. Joe cartoon had a plot this inane.
Meanwhile on the Farm
A great video I’ve been meaning to share: Dirtpatcheaven (who is rebranding to Idaho Family Farm and Homemaking), explained how her family would start homesteading if they started over in 2022. She has a great YouTube channel full of practical wisdom, and it’s very much worth subscribing to if you’re interested in homesteading.
We are in the process of incubating 22 chicken eggs. Today I will “candle” them to see which ones are actually fertilized. The entire process is supposed to be finished in 21 days.
We’ve had a cold spring, which means our early vegetables are either growing slowly or not at all. I’ve been kicking myself for not adding hoops to my raised beds sooner, and I’ve been researching the cheapest and easiest ways to go about that. Out of all the methods I’ve seen, I think I like Self Sufficient Me’s method the best. It’s cheap, and easy, and he has a practical method for attaching the various sheets to the beds.
I’ve been making good use of my scythe, and I try to cut some grass with it every day. The other day, a Highway Department truck stopped in the road and I ended up giving a couple of guys a ten-minute demo of scything. They were impressed by how well it works.
I cut this section with the scythe, then raked up the long grass clippings and used them to put a heavy mulch between rows of lettuce. The thick mulch will keep weeds from growing, and as the grass breaks down it’ll build more soil and nourish the lettuce.
Last week, I mentioned the book Paradise Lot: Two Plant Geeks, One-Tenth of an Acre, and the Making of an Edible Garden Oasis in the City. I’m a slow reader so I’m still picking through it, but it’s given me a lot of ideas for my property.
I’ve had good results with Weston A. Price dietary advice, but they say lots of crazy stuff unrelated to Weston A. Price’s original findings, so take them with a grain of salt.
Authorities get really wound up at the idea of homemade formula. Whether that’s due to legitimate medical concerns, the influence of the formula industry, or both, I can’t say. But what I do know is that starvation isn’t healthy and I’ll do what it takes to feed my kids.