Safety

And I’m not talking about the usual stuff (guns, SHTF supplies etc.):  it concerns overseas travel.

I’ve been following The Zman’s adventures in Scandinavia, Russia, and parts between with some interest.  (Go ahead and read them first, if you want, starting with the Out Of Lagos post — I had no idea he’d been living there for years — and his point about London’s Heathrow Airport is absolutely spot-on.)  I’ve never been to any of the countries he’s talked about so far (Finland, Estonia, Russia), so I was of course interested in his observations.  

Then something which happened to him in Tallinn caught my attention:

In Estonia, I realized I had no cell service at all.  I was not worried until I tried to buy something and all three credit cards were declined.  To make matters worse, I had no cash of any type with me, as I planned to just charge everything.  That meant I had no money and no way to call the credit card company to get the issue resolved.

I don’t care how much you think the rest of the world has modernized:  it often hasn’t, and sometimes that realization hits you hard, with a potentially-serious outcome.  In those situations, you need cash.  Hence my admonition:

Never travel overseas without cash.

How much cash you take is up to you — I usually take about US$100 (or £100, or 100€) per day I’m going to be out of the country, mostly in small bills (5s, 10s or 20s).  Don’t piss about with some piffling sum like $10, either:  it won’t get you diddly Over There except maybe a couple bottles of water and some chewing gum.  Back in 2017 when I went over to Britishland on my extended sabbatical, I didn’t take that much because a.) I didn’t have that much available and b.) the UK is pretty much a cashless society anyway, so I only carried a few hundred or so, in total, some of which went towards buying a burner phone to escape the ruinous roaming fees.  But when I go on my next trip to a place where nobody speaks English, French or German, I’ll be cashing up beforehand, you betcha.

Now a lot of seasoned travelers are going to throw up their hands in horror because “you’re a target” / “you’ll lose it all” / “blah blah blah”.  Of course  you have to be smart about this:  I have two wallets, a well-hidden one with my real cards, ID and maybe a quarter of my cash in it, and another in an outside pocket with fake ID (got it in some junk mail, a reasonably-accurate facsimile of a California driver’s license with another guy’s photo), a couple of “sample” credit cards (also courtesy of junk mail) and maybe $50 (small bills, to make it look thicker with cash than it actually is).  If I do get mugged, the fake one will be handed over quickly.  Most of my bring-along cash is hidden elsewhere on my person, to be found pretty much only if I’m dead and the money has become irrelevant.  (I also carry a fake phone:  an old, decommissioned cell phone with a stone-dead battery, which I use only as an alarm clock, plugged into the wall socket at night.  Good luck stealing that  one and expecting to get anything out of it.)  And of course you have to be cautious —  to top up your on-hand cash, you only resort to the “roll” at night in your hotel room or in the train toilet, for example.

Here’s the thing.  I have been poor a couple of times in my life — I mean, no cash, no job, sleep-in-the-car-soon-to-be-repossessed, only a small suitcase of clothing / possessions kind-of poor, and the only thing I fear about being this poor again is to be in this situation in a foreign country where I don’t have any friends I can call on somehow.  For those who’ve never traveled in a country where the language is completely unintelligible (in my case, that would be Finland,Russia and Estonia, to name but three), nothing beats the feeling of helplessness at not being able to hail a cab / catch a bus to the U.S. Embassy, buy some street food, buy a burner phone, or check into a cheap hotel.  Take my word for it:  being broke and on the streets in a strange land fucking sucks, Bubba.

Oh, and by the way:  this is especially important if (unlike Zman) you’re not traveling alone.  By yourself, you can get okay with pretty much nothing for a short-enough period of time.  With a wife, girlfriend or (eek) kids?  The dangers of short-term poverty become exponential.

People always talk about safety when you travel:  avoiding skeevy areas, staying with crowds, having complete situational awareness and so on.  But you only have a modicum of control over those things, especially in an unknown country.  How much cash you can carry, however, is completely under your control.  So control it, and minimize your vulnerability in a place where nobody  knows your name (or speaks your language).

Lest We Forget

As Britishland totters on the edge of Brexit/ No-Brexit/ Hard Brexit/ Soft Brexit/ Whatever-Brexit, it behooves us to remember just why they hate the EU enough to want to leave its clutches warm embrace.

Example #1:   Control

‘Intelligent speed assistance’ is at the centre of a European road-safety shake-up.
These systems are capable of automatically stopping cars from exceeding the limit or cutting the speed if they pass into a slower zones. But the Department of Transport insists that mandatory systems will not physically slow a car.
It says drivers will simply be alerted by a dashboard light and an audio alert, similar to existing warnings when seatbelts are left unfastened.
The technology will have to be installed in all new cars from May 2022 and in existing models two years later. Other features include automatic emergency braking and a system which keeps a vehicle in the centre of a traffic lane.
The EU Commission claims the mandatory devices could help avoid 140,000 serious injuries by 2038.

Note the weasel word “could”.  The infernal things “could” also cause still more deaths from equipment failure, because none of this shit has ever been tested, yet.

Example #2:   Hobbling the Internet

The directive, which passed by 348 votes to 274, seeks to update the EU’s copyright legislation in light of recent technological changes. Its most controversial elements, passed much more narrowly, are Article 11, a “link tax” requiring social networks and news aggregators to pay publishers to display snippets of their output, and most of all Article 13, an “upload filter” making larger online publishers like YouTube responsible for copyright infringements in material uploaded by their users.

This is akin to the “holding gun manufacturers responsible because a few assholes murder people with guns”  rationale.

Example #3:   Unstable currency

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde told a Paris conference that the currency union ‘is not resilient enough’ to emerge unscathed from ‘unexpected economic storms’.
Lagarde acknowledged that the currency union was now ‘more resilient than a decade ago when the global financial crisis struck.
‘But it is not resilient enough,’ she said. ‘Its banking system is safer, but not safe enough. Its economic well-being is greater overall, but the benefits of growth are not shared enough,’ Lagarde told the gathering, which was organised by the French central bank.
The warning comes as signs are multiplying of slower economic growth, especially in powerhouse Germany and the bloc’s second-biggest economy, France.
On Friday, indications of a weak first quarter for the eurozone mounted as a closely-watched survey pointed to March output being dragged further down by manufacturing weakness.
Manufacturers in the 19-nation single currency bloc ‘reported their steepest downturn for six years’ as pressure mounted from trade wars and Brexit fears, data company IHS Markit said.

This is what happens when you couple one or two “strong” economies (Krautland, Frogland) to fucked-up economies (Eytieland, Spicland, Porroland etc.) and expect good results.

So the Brits want out of all this shit (they’re quite capable of fucking their country up all by themselves, without any assistance), and no wonder.

The only thing which still puzzles me is why a “hard” Brexit — in essence, just telling the Europigs to FOAD  — is seen as a Bad Thing for the UK.  I’m sure there’s some sophisticated response to that simple question, but as said response would only come from the turds who lost the Brexit referendum (a.k.a. the Remoaners Remainers), I think we’re safe in ignoring it, and them.

Beyond Redemption

When we moved from Chicago to north Texas back in 2002, I have to admit to some mixed feelings.  On the one hand, there was conservatism, no gun-prohibition laws, non-intrusive state government, no union bullshit, no Communist representation in the U.S. House;  and on the other hand: all the above.

But there was this, the dawn view from our apartment in Lakeview:

…and the view to the south (it was a 10th floor corner apartment):

…and let’s not forget the Chicago River (view of my office window, back when I worked downtown):

 

But time has passed, and now we have shit like this:

Deerfield Sen. Julie Morrison introduced Senate Bill 107 on Wednesday. It would prohibit a range of rifles, pistols and shotguns and require every such weapon in the state to be registered with the Illinois State Police. Owners would pay a $25 fee for that registration. A person found in possession of one of the prohibited weapons without registration could face a Class 3 felony, which carries a prison sentence of up to five years and a $25,000 fine.

In other words, you have to register your “illegal” rifle in order to be grandfathered into “forgiveness” of your “crime” — and in return the state of Illinois would promise, cross its heart, never to come and confiscate said rifle in the future.

Uhhhh, sure.

Now I am glad I left (and tossed my Illinois Firearm Owner ID — the hated FOID card — into the Mississippi River on my way down to Texas) — and not for the first time, either.

I could live with the freezing winters, I could even live with the Commie Bitch In The House (Jan Schakowsky).  But as for the rest?  Fuck that.

Crushing The Peasants

Here we go again:

Despite having many of their demands met when French President Emmanuel Macron caved to the increasing public pressure, the yellow vest squads are still out in the streets calling for his resignation. It seems that the French government has had enough of this unrest and is preparing new legislation aimed at tossing the unhappy peasants into the dungeon if they don’t go home and shut up.

Governments never seem to learn:  the harsher the punishments you heap on people you’re oppressing, the more violence will be inflicted on you in response, eventually.  You heard it here, first:  if the gendarmes start shooting, I wouldn’t be surprised if a whole bunch of WWII-era weapons are unearthed (sometimes literally), to make an appearance at a forthcoming demonstration, or when somebody faces one of these new punishments.

Vivez les giles jaunes!!  

Quick Question

This one’s for the BritGov.

So, about that law you have which prevents law-abiding Brits from buying or owning handguns… how’s it doing to reduce handgun ownership and usage Over There?

Not too well?  You mean, only criminals  are getting their hands on the things?  And wait… don’t tell me… they’re shooting people and committing crimes and such?

Well, paint me  pink and call me Rosie.  Who could have foreseen such a thing?