Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Thanks again to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

Let’s go with a lighter (or at least, grayer) note today:  Yes, You Get Wiser With Age.  Excerpt:

There are three domains of aging: Physical, cognitive, and psycho-social. Most people think about aging as physical aging, and that’s why there is a negative perception about aging and a bias against aging. In terms of cognition, again, there is something similar. Starting after middle age, say around 60 or so, memory and other abilities decline. However, psychosocial aging is really important, and that is usually not studied and that is not included in the concept of aging. 

So what is psychosocial aging? It includes things like well-being, happiness, quality of life, control of emotions, socialization. Those are the kinds of things that matter a lot to people, and they need to be included. Successful aging mainly refers to better well-being, greater happiness, and not just arriving at old age, but thriving and even flourishing.

Not surprisingly, I have some thoughts on these three domains of aging.

First, the physical:  Nothing can (yet) be done about this.  But I’m in favor of doing so gracefully.  There’s nothing wrong with acting your age, and there is something mildly silly about a middle-aged person trying to dress and act like a teenager.  I wonder if it’s because the popular culture of our time, at least here in the States, glamorizes youth?  That may well be; us gray-haired old farts don’t automatically get the overt displays of respect we do in, say, Japan.  Personally, though, I’m rather proud of my gray hairs.  I earned every damn one of ’em.

Second, the cognitive:  I had something for this, but I can’t seem to remember what it was.  (Go on, tell me you didn’t see that one coming.)

Third:  The psychosocial.  I admit to not really having thought of this as a separate realm of aging, but there’s some logic to it.  There’s a reason they call them the golden years, after all.  Granted they aren’t golden for everyone, but youth isn’t a basket of roses for everyone, either.

Mine are shaping up to be pretty damn good, though.  I’ve achieved a certain level of financial success; Mrs. Animal and I are in good health, we have a wonderful marriage, our kids and grandkids are thriving.  We have big plans for semi-retirement and, at the moment, the future looks pretty damn good.

Aging is something that comes to all of us, whether we would or no.  But while it would be nice to have the brain I have now in the body I had at twenty (and the energy I had at three) that’s not an option.

So of these three aspects of aging, there’s only one that we can control.  Fortunately that’s the one that can yield the best bits of those golden years.

As Robert Browning said: “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be.”

Animal’s Daily Las Vegas News

To begin:  What happened in Las Vegas on Sunday last was horrendous, unspeakable, and our hearts go out to the victims of this senseless act of terror.

I’m hesitant to comment on this so soon after the event, and while so many things remain unknown, but there have been a few items banging around the news and commentary circuits that are just plain wrong.

The usual suspects are already screeching about gun control.  But there are already troublesome facts known.  For example:  The shooter, Stephen Paddock, reportedly had at least one, possibly two fully-automatic rifles.  These are reported to have been AR-15 pattern rifles, but it is not clear whether they were converted or manufactured in select-fire configuration.  But that doesn’t really matter.  Why?

If the guns were manufactured in select-fire configuration, Paddock could have obtained them legally.  He was reportedly a man of some wealth, and may have well been able to afford the high price of a couple of NFA firearms.  Also, apparently nothing in his background would have precluded that purchase; he is known to have purchased several other arms, legally, from an Arizona gun shop.  No background check imaginable would have prevented the purchase.

If the guns were converted, then Paddock broke a Federal law in converting them.  But the hard cold fact is this:  Anyone with a mill, a drill press, some aluminum and enough intelligence to pound sand could produce a workable fully-automatic rifle.  The only really tricky part would be the barrel, but there are literally millions upon millions of barrels around that would work for the purpose.

So no law, existing or proposed, would have prevented this.

Also:  Predictable as the morning sun, Her Imperial Majesty, before the body count was even known, took to Twitter to attack the NRA and the SHARE act, deregulating suppressors.  But her argument runs across the same stumbling block; if he used a suppressor purchased legally, that would be small potatoes economically next to the one or two NFA firearms he had already bought.  And we have seen that he was able to pass the background checks.

If he used a manufactured suppressor, a device even more easily fabricated than a firearm, then again, that’s already illegal.  That’s a calculation unlikely to stop a man contemplating mass murder.

Add to that the fact that Paddock apparently had explosives and arming devices in his home; that’s also illegal.

We know so little about this incident as yet, it’s hard to draw any conclusions.  Apparently ISIS wasted no time in claiming ownership of Paddock and his act, but they are as full of shit as the Dowager Empress; there’s no reason to think Paddock was an ISIS sympathizer.  But this is time for ascertaining facts, not wading in the blood of the victims to push a political agenda.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!

California would be a pretty neat place if it weren’t so full of Californians – you know, that odd grouping of people who keep putting the lunatics back in charge of the asylum that is their state government.

But the country has a lot of appeal.  Yesterday I drove over to the coast and took a long walk down a really interesting rock-covered beach.  For company I had sandpipers, gulls, ravens and pelicans.  Photos follow.

Click for more.

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.

Animal’s Daily Disability News

The Imperial government overreaches again, and a private citizen fixes it – again.  Excerpt:

A third threat to free speech at the University of California, Berkeley has led to more censorship than political rioters or college administrators.

It’s the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Berkeley is expensive. Out of state students must pay $60,000 a year. But for five years, Berkeley generously posted 20,000 of its professors’ lectures online. Anyone could watch them for free.

Then government regulators stepped in.

The Americans with Disabilities Act stipulates, “No qualified individual with a disability shall … be denied the benefits of … services.”

As with most laws, people can spend years debating what terms like “denied,” “benefits” and “services” mean.

President Obama’s eager regulators, in response to a complaint from activists, decided that Berkeley’s videos violated the ADA. The Justice Department sent the school a threatening letter: “Berkeley is in violation of title II … (T)he Attorney General may initiate a lawsuit.”

What Berkeley had done wrong, said the government, was failing to caption the videos for the hearing impaired. The ADA makes it illegal to “deny” deaf people services available to others.

And:

In this case, fortunately, an angry entrepreneur came to the rescue. Jeremy Kauffman hates to see valuable things disappear, so right before Berkeley deleted its website, Kauffman copied the videos and posted them on his website, called LBRY (as in Library).

He says the Berkeley videos are just the start of what LBRY has planned. He wants the site to be YouTube — but without the content restrictions.

Where the hell is any shred of common sense in the Imperial government reaction to this?  It’s not as though these are primary classes without which a student cannot graduate; they are 20,000 lectures posted for free consumption by anyone – something to be said for that coming from Berkeley, where free speech is a dead letter and a non-resident student has to pony up north of $60k a year to attend.

But no!  For want of a closed-caption, this free and (possibly) interesting service is now cut off, no doubt due to the interference of some un-elected bureaucrat meddling in something that nothing in the Constitution allows the Imperial City to touch in the first place.

We have proceeded from tragedy to farce in this matter, True Believers.

Animal’s Hump Day News

I have the sudden urge to go cycling.

These kinds of articles go around every now and then; I suppose with the bat-guano crazy Norks stirring the pot again, another appearance was to be expected.  Here from the Daily Caller are 3 Must-Have Apocalypse Guns.  Excerpt:

There comes a time in every gun writer’s career when he must consider the end of the world as we know it and the apocalypse guns required to survive.

It’s not a bad exercise for anyone to undertake, given the security and safety of modern life is deceptive and fragile. There are the obvious culprits that could turn the lights out — war, plague, natural disaster. But the mundane — lack of power or hyperinflation for instance — could equally prove to be the cracks that break the façade of our comfort and security.

God forbid these end days are ever visited on us and those we love. But it’s better to tackle the scenario head on and be prepared, than to whistle past the graveyard. With that in mind, here are three must-have apocalypse guns to see you through these dark times.

While self-defense was a consideration in putting together the list, it was not the sole criteria. The apocalypse would be the ultimate survival situation, and that’s what these firearms are meant to do — help you survive. In turn, the guns chosen were also: versatile, reliable, fed with common ammunition and wide-spread enough to scrounge replacement parts, if need be.

In case you don’t feel like reading the whole thing, the three guns are:

  1. Mossberg 500/Remington 870, 12 gauge
  2. AR-15
  3. Glock 41 (.45 ACP)

All of these would be useful arms, of course, in a TEOTWAWKI situation.  But there’s one thing all of these articles predictably overlook:

The long term.

Modern firearms are necessarily the product of a modern industrial society.  The tools to maintain those firearms and to produce their ammunition are likewise products of a modern industrial society.  So what happens when the SHTF situation lasts longer than expected, and that modern industrial society is gone?

Those serious in preparing for TEOTWAWKI (I’m not one of them) would do well to consider laying in a flintlock rifle or musket, a good supply of flints, and a big supply of bar lead.  Black powder isn’t hard to make; people have been making black powder for over a thousand years.

It may not be pretty.  It may not be fancy.  But you’ll be shooting when your fancier compadres will be trying to make a working bow and arrows, and using their AR-15s as clubs.

Animal’s Daily Soda Tax News

Oh, Chicago – or to be precise, Cook County.  What funny predicaments these metro areas get themselves into.  It seems a while back some Cook County pol got the bright idea to put a tax on carbonated beverages – and that has proved the biggest mistake since Julius Caesar walked alone into the Roman Senate building one March day.  Excerpt:

When Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle first floated the idea of a pop tax to commissioners last October, a big part of her pitch was an appeal to their sense of self-preservation.

“We said to people, ‘We’re going to take one tough vote in the next three years, that’s it. Then we’re done,'” said Preckwinkle, making a reference to the financial stability the new money would bring. “And needless to say, that’s very attractive when you have to run for election.”

As political calculations go, this one backfired in a big way.

A botched rollout coupled with a huge public backlash fueled by general tax fatigue and the beverage industry’s well-funded pushback campaign has made the pop tax the biggest issue in county government in nearly a decade.

Now a repeal vote is slated for next month, and several commissioners could find themselves fighting for their political lives next year. So could Preckwinkle, who a few months ago seemed like a shoo-in to win her third and final term despite pushing through the soda tax on top of a 1-percentage-point sales tax increase in 2015.

“It’s really simple,” said Commissioner Sean Morrison, a Palos Park Republican and the lead sponsor of the repeal measure. “It’s going to come down to an up-or-down vote and, at the end of the day, the residents are tellin’ ’em ‘Can the tax or can the commissioner.’

I’d be tempted to say that this sets a new level of stupid, but unfortunately I can’t – not about Cook County.  Not about the Chicago metropolis.

This line from the story is telling:

At the same time, Preckwinkle has not been shy about promoting the tax as a public health benefit.

In other words:  “It was for their own good.”

How many government oversteps have been implemented with the disclaimer “it was for their own good”?  This is another such.

I’m dead-set against sin taxes of every stripe.  Whether they be levied against unapproved foodstuffs, drinks (alcoholic or otherwise), sex toys or any other stuffs and sundries that, when used, do no harm to any other than the user.  This attempt by Cook County is just more high-handed moralizing by “public servants” presuming to make choices for the population at large in the name of enhancing revenues.  It’s good to see the citizenry slapping these intrusive pols down.

 

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

The weekend just may not have seen the world end, but it did see yr. obdt. flying home to Colorado for a weekend, a pleasant break from the peripatetic nuttiness of Silicon Valley.  Unfortunately Mrs. Animal is in Michigan visiting the two college kids, so I ended up hanging out with our son-in-law.  We went out to his Dad’s place on the eastern plains and burned up a fair amount of ammo.  I checked the zero on Thunder Speaker in anticipation of next month’s deer and elk hunt, and after a comment that he’d never fired a rifle of that power (.338 Win Mag) I let the son-in-law take a couple shots off the bench.

Thunder Speaker on the bench.

Unfortunately he wasn’t used to the stiff recoil that Thunder Speaker delivers, and ended up taking a whack from the eyepiece of the scope.  Oops.  But, as I told him, there are few dedicated shooters of hunting-caliber rifles that haven’t ended up with a case of Kaibab Eye at one point or another.

But the fun part of the day was when the e-e-e-e-e-e-evil AR-15 came out.


Yup.  That was fun.

Deep thoughts, news of the day, totty and the Manly Arts.