Category Archives: Totty

Who doesn’t love pretty girls?

Rule Five John Browning Friday

(I found this some time ago, and being a 1911 fan myself, I rather like it, and reproduce it here from time to time.)

In the beginning was the 1911, and the 1911 was THE pistol, and it was good. And behold the Lord said, “Thou shalt not muck with my disciple John’s design for it is good and it workith. For John made the 1911, and lo all of his weapons, from the designs which I, the Lord, gave him upon the mountain.”

“And shouldst thou muck with it, and hang all manner of foul implements upon it, and profane its internal parts, thou shalt surely have malfunctions, and in the midst of battle thou shalt surely come to harm.”

And as the ages passed men in their ignorance and arrogance didst forget the word of the Lord and began to profane the 1911. The tribe of the gamesman did place recoil spring guides and extended slide releases upon the 1911 and their metal smiths didst tighten the tolerances and alter parts to their liking, their clearness of mind being clouded by lust.

Their artisans did hang all manner of foul implements upon the 1911 and did so alter it that it became impractical to purchase. For lo, the artisans didst charge a great tax upon the purchasers of the 1911 so that the lowly field worker could not afford one. And the profaning of the internal parts didst render it unworkable when the dust of the land fell upon it.

And lo, they didst install adjustable sights, which are an abomination unto the Lord. For they doth break and lose their zero when thou dost need true aim. And those who have done so will be slain in great numbers by their enemies in the great battle. And they didst chamber it for cartridges who’s calibers startith with numbers less than the Holy Number 4. And lo the Lord did cause great grief amongst these men when their enemies who were struck in battle with these lesser numbers didst not fall but did continue to cause great harm.

And it came to pass that the Lord didst see the abomination wrought by man and didst cause, as he had warned, fearful malfunctions to come upon the abominations and upon the artisans who thought they could do no wrong.

Seeing the malfunctions and the confusion of men, the lord of the underworld did see an opportunity to further ensnare man and didst bring forth pistols made of plastic, whose form was such that they looked and felt like a brick, yet the eyes of man being clouded, they were consumed by the plastic pistol and did buy vast quantities of them.

And being a deceitful spirit the lord of the underworld did make these plastic pistols unamenable to the artisans of earth and they were unable to muck much with the design, and lo these pistols did appear to function.

And the evil one also brought forth pistols in which the trigger didst both cock and fire them and which require a “dingus” to make them appear safe.

But man being stupid did not understand these new pistols and didst proceed to shoot themselves with the plastic pistol and with the trigger cocking pistols for lo their manual of arms required great intelligence which man had long since forsaken. Yet man continue to gloat over these new pistols blaming evil forces for the negligent discharges which they themselves had committed.

And when man had been totally ensnared with the plastic pistol, the lord of the underworld didst cause a plague of the terrible Ka-Boom to descend upon man and the plastic pistols delivered their retribution upon men. And there was a great wailing and gnashing of teeth in the land.

Then seeing that the eyes of man were slowly being opened and that man was truly sorrowful for his sinful misdeeds, the Lord did send his messengers in the form of artisans who did hear and obey the teachings of the prophet and who didst restore the profaned 1911s to their proper configuration, and lo, to the amazement of men they didst begin to work as the prophet had intended.

And the men of the land didst drive out the charlatans and profaners from the land, and there was joy and peace in the land, except for the evil sprits which tried occasionally to prey on the men and women of the land and who were sent to the place of eternal damnation or hell by the followers of John.

Rule Five Close Air Support Friday

Our military has, in the years since I served, has gone ever-increasingly high-tech.  The Air Force has gone even more high-tech than the others, which is of course to e expected in the nature of that branch.  But have they gone too high-tech to handle close-air support in the low-tech conflicts we find ourselves fighting today?  That could be.  The Small Wars Journal have some thoughts on that.  Excerpt:

War is expensive, especially when using high-end fourth and fifth generation aircraft designed for World War III to bomb handfuls of sandal wearing men armed with rusty AK-47s. While the United States (U.S.) Department of Defense (DOD) enjoyed the extravagance of seemingly bottomless coffers during the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, that time has ended. The DOD cannot afford to employ its most advanced high-end aircraft in support of every military operation. The U.S. military is primarily engaged in small-scale overseas contingency operations, characterized by tight budgets and strict force caps. These operations largely involve small teams of special operations forces (SOF) and regionally aligned ground forces deployed to advise and assist U.S. allied and partner-nation forces in irregular warfare (IW), specifically counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, and foreign internal defense. The deployment of high-end jet aircraft in support of these forces is not only impractical due to robust support requirements but also fiscally irresponsible due to astronomical acquisition and operating costs. Instead, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) requires an inexpensive, light air support (LAS) aircraft as a practical and cost-effective means of providing air support for IW in low air threat environments.

The Journal suggests a couple of modest aircraft for this role, and a couple of those have some extensive combat qualifications.  Those two would be the old OV-10 Bronco and the Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano.  Both are inexpensive aircraft, both  have long design histories, both have shown their worth in close support roles.  It would be worthwhile for the US Air Force to consider buying some of those.

Budgetary matters are a concern, after all, when the nation is in debt to the tune of twenty trillion simoleons.  If we could field a few squadrons of close-support planes for the cost of two or three F-35s, then that seems like the taxpayers are getting a bargain.

For that matter, a couple of wings of 1940s-vintage P-47s would be pretty damn useful in close air support.  Eight .50 calibers and a few 500-pounders are just what the doctor ordered for the aforementioned “sandal wearing men armed with rusty AK-47s.”  The original Thunderbolt did some great work in World War 2 against foes more sophisticated than the Taliban.

The article concludes:  “The USAF can procure entire squadrons’ worth of LAS aircraft for the cost of a single F-35. Furthermore, the introduction of LAS aircraft could save U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars in operation and maintenance costs each year, while preserving the nation’s most advanced and expensive aircraft for potential high-intensity conflicts against near-peer competitors. When taken in the aggregate, the advantages of LAS aircraft provide distinct benefits that are both tactically sound and cost-effective.”

Cost-effective sounds like a good idea.  We may still even have some old OV-10s in storage.  Why not dust them off and fire them up?

Rule Five Tax Reform Friday

Now that the Senate has well and truly screwed the pooch on health care, they are taking up tax reform.  A few select pieces of commentary:

Trump pitches tax cut as ‘middle class miracle’

Tax reform: Trump, GOP mull surcharge on wealthy, doubling standard deduction

GOP tax plan still has lots of holes and a surprising twist – Cowen analyst

Norquist: GOP Tax Cut Plan Will Turbo-charge the Economy

House Freedom Caucus Supports Trump’s Tax Plan

Here, from that last article, are the outlines of the proposal, with my comments.

-The lowest federal income tax bracket for individuals will sit at 12 percent, an increase from 10 percent, but will be offset by an expansion of the child tax credit. There will be three brackets total, down from seven, with the other two at 25 and 35 percent.

A good start.  I’d vastly prefer just one rate, for everyone.  I’d actually prefer a consumption tax rather than the intrusive income tax, which requires you to disclose all of your personal financial affairs to the Imperial government every year.

-The small business tax rate will drop to 25 percent, the lowest in America since the 1930s.

Again, a good start.  Why not zero?

-The corporate tax rate will be decreased from 35 percent to 20 percent, prompting American money to come home from overseas.

Again, why not zero?  Businesses don’t pay taxes, they collect them.  Corporate and small business taxes are paid by consumers; the cost of the tax and the administration required to calculate it are added in to the cost of every product.  Business taxes are just a backhanded way to add another tax onto the people.

-The child tax credit will be expanded. Administration officials nor the President will provide an exact number and will rely on proper congressional committees to come up with one they deem appropriate.

I’ve never been quite certain of the purpose of this tax.  Certainly it makes financial life a little easier for parents, especially younger parents who tend to be harder pressed.  And it’s certainly a vote-getter.  But are we subsidizing people to reproduce?

-Rewriting tax regulations so Americans can complete their taxes on a single page.

Oh hell yeah.

-Getting rid of double taxes, including the death tax.

About damn time.  Get rid of the capital-gains tax while you’re at it.  If double taxation is wrong in one case, it’s wrong in any case.

-Eliminate itemized deductions

I’m generally in favor of this, as long as the overall tax burden is decreased.  And make no mistake; this provision will be vigorously opposed by the enormous tax-return preparation industry, accountants and tax attorneys across this golden land.  These people are desperately afraid of having to earn an honest living.

-Eliminate state and local deductions

This will suck if you live in a blue state, like New York or California.  This provision now allows you to deduct from your Imperial tax return’s taxable income the amount you pay in state and local taxes.  I’d say this:  Don’t like it?  Take it up with your state and local governments.  This provision offers a shield to high-tax states, and it would be interesting to see the backlash from removing this deduction.

-Charitable deductions are not changing

-Retirement taxes will not be touched

-Mortgage deductions will not change

No change, no comment.

I would like to interject one thing in this debate, intended for when I hear opponents whine about “how the GOP intends to pay for this” (always from the same people who propose enormous new spending programs while never worrying about how to pay for those).  That interjection is this:

Fuck you.  Cut spending.

That goes for both political parties.

The nation is now past $20 trillion in debt.  Add in unfunded liabilities in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and we’re waaaaaaay past that.  We are broke, True Believers, and it would be nice if someone – anyone – in the Imperial City would figure that out.

But back to the tax proposal.  I’ll cautiously characterize this as “a good start.”  As far as its chances of passing, I’m not so optimistic.  This GOP Congress could fuck up a soup sandwich.  I’m guessing they’ll screw this up too.

Rule Five GMO Nutballery Friday

ONE DAY UNTIL THE END.

OK, now that this is out of the way, let’s spend what some nut thinks is our last day on earth talking about 9 stupid arguments against genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.  Excerpt:

When discussing and writing about GMOs, many arguments are put forth on why they are “bad” and should be avoided. However, many of these are not about GMOs, but rather, are issues that we’re facing in modern agriculture and in our economy. In this post, I examine nine common reasons I’ve encountered for opposing GMOs that are much broader in scope.

Transgenesis, or the method used to make most GMOs, is a tool and it makes no sense to oppose a method with broad applications. It’s like opposing electronics as a category because you don’t like Microsoft or because Apple dominates the portable music electronics business. In fact in the comments section of an article just written in the NY Times about GMOs, you’ll see the reasons below being listed time and time again.

Here are a couple of my particular favorites, with my comments:

5) GMOs are being made by Big Ag to line their pockets. Unless your problem is with making money in general, then this doesn’t make much sense. Of course agribusinesses want to make money. Why would any corporate enterprise embark on a project where they think they’d lose money?

The proper response to this is “duh.”  Of course corporations exist to return profits to their shareholders; every corporation, everywhere, since the 16th century has existed to do that.  But it’s a fundamental law of the universe that whenever someone starts of an argument with a catch-phrase like “Big Ag,” or “Big Oil,” or “Big Anything,” that you can safely disregard anything else that they say.

2) GMOs promote a monopoly. Every time I see this, I think that someone over at Dow Agro is cackling. I work in a field in biotech where a single company has between 70-80 percent  of the market. Google web searches are used almost 70 percent of the time. Android has 80 percent of the market in operating systems for smartphones. But strangely enough, I’ve never seen a “March against Google”.

Anti-GMO’ers using this argument, as the author points out, almost seem to revel in their own hypocrisy.  It’s as deliciously stupid as the would-be “anarchists,” none of whom would survive ten minutes in a real anarchy, railing about “corporations” and “capitalism” via social media posts on their iPhones and sipping a latte from Starbucks, all the products of the world’s most successful capitalist culture.

Here’s the troublesome fact: Every modern crop planted and raised for human use has been genetically modified.  Corn was bred from a Central American grass called teosinte.  Potatoes were first raised up from a humble tuber in Peru.  Every human crop has been genetically modified – by selective breeding, by hybridization, and more recently, by direct genetic modification.

So why should we cease agricultural innovation now, in response to the bleatings of the ignorant?

GMOs have the potential to feed the world.  Drought- and pest-resistant crops, crops with enhanced yields per acre, crops that can grow in poor soils – the Third World clamors for such advances.

It’s ridiculous that science-illiterates in the developed world would deny them those advances due to idiotic arguments like the ones presented in this article.