Thursday, 9 October 2014

13:32 – Anyone who believes that Germany is in good shape should read Ambrose Evans-Pritchard’s current column: German model is ruinous for Germany, and deadly for Europe

As I’ve said repeatedly over the last few years, Germany is the real Sick Man of Europe. Its decline really started with reunification, and has become pronounced over the last 15 years or so. Germany faces a catastrophic demographic crisis, which is evident even now to anyone who cares to look. Stated simply. Germany is aging fast. Far more older people are retiring than there are young people to replace them. The cost of social welfare programs is already threatening the economy, and we haven’t yet even begun to see the disastrous effects of these increasing costs and decreasing output on the German government, economy, and citizens.

Colin and I are preparing ourselves for Barbara’s departure tomorrow. She’s making a car trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee with Frances, Al, and their friend Marcy. For the last several days, Colin has been focused on hunting. Usually he pretty much ignores squirrels unless they’re almost in his face. Lately, he’s been going into alert pose when he spots one even 50 meters away, and then attempting to stalk and pounce them. Barbara thinks his instincts are telling him that it’s time to fatten up for the winter. I think he’s afraid I’ll forget to feed him while Barbara’s gone.

My new air rifle arrived yesterday. It’s a Gamo break-action spring-piston model, which means I’ll need to break it in with 100 to 500 shots before it’ll settle down and start shooting with the accuracy it’s capable of.

It’ll be interesting to find out how much noise it makes. Many people think of air rifles as silent or nearly so, but in reality they can be quite loud, some models as loud as a .22 rimfire. It’s illegal to fire an air gun inside city limits, but if it’s not too loud I may wait until no one is looking and nail a squirrel for Colin’s and my dinner.

Work proceeds on The Ultimate Family Prepping Guide. Right now, I’m focused on the Food chapter. Thanks to everyone who’s signed up for the discussion list. As I mentioned when I announce it here, there won’t be much (any) activity for a while. I’ll start posting chapters for download as soon as I’ve finished writing them.

34 thoughts on “Thursday, 9 October 2014”

  1. It will be interesting to watch Europe over the next couple of years; there are some chips and dominoes and whatever just waiting to fall over there. We have some chips about to fall here, too. This next year looks to be very interesting, as Dear Leader sets about his work of destruction in earnest over the “lame-duck” period of his second term. We’ll see if he really does go for a third, though. For “national security” reasons, of course.

  2. I too received yesterday the Gamo air rifle, ordered from Amazon Prime. I mounted the scope, which did not strike me as cheap as I had expected (for the price), and fired a few test rounds. It is louder than the Crosman 760 I have from 40 years ago ( I like the Gamo better, but miss that it can’t shoot BBs and has a BB reservoir like the Crosman. I expect my daughter, wife and I will put a few hundred rounds through it next week.

    I am thinking that about ten boxes of 1250 pellets is a good minimum to have on hand. Any suggestions on types? I have a couple thousand Crosman hunting pellets now.

  3. It never occurred to me to check Amazon Prime, so I ended up paying shipping to Cabela’s. Did you buy the $100 Hornet model? If so, I’d be interested in hearing your impressions. I probably won’t have time to try mine for a few days at least.

    As to pellets, it’s been 35 years since I fired an air rifle. Back then, I had a chance to shoot quite a few different models, including some expensive European ones. My impression then was for really great accuracy you needed to try a bunch of different pellets and pick the one that performed best in the particular rifle. And some of those were extraordinary, producing 5-shot ragged holes at 25 yards from a rest. But even the worst-performing of the name-brand pellets were pretty decent once the rifle was broken in, certainly good enough to yield under half-inch groups out to 25 yards, which is about the maximum I’d use an air rifle for on squirrels, rabbits, and so on.

    As I have time, I’ll order a can of each of several different pellets and give them a try. I suspect the cheapest name-brand ones will be fine for practice. I do know from experience that it’s a mistake to buy the really cheap pellets. They’re often deformed and shoot groups that look like you took a shotgun to the target.

  4. I ordered the Gamo Hornet, The Silent Cat was tempting. Amazon has a couple sample packs of different pellets I will try. It makes sense that I would have to experiment a bit. Real bummer that, having to shoot more and all…

    My daughter likes to bow shoot, from summer camp practice mostly, and is apparently a bit of a natural. I figured I would next get a mid-range compound bow and a crossbow. In addition to the various rifles and pistols I have lost in the Columbia River over the last couple years, I would like to have a small variety of low-tech arms to loose. It is not particularly difficult to fletch an arrow, and there are a few trees and birds here in the great North West.

  5. No, actually I got the $100 Hornet, mainly because I just wanted to dip my toe in the water as inexpensively as possible. From the reviews of the Hornet on, it’s a very nice air rifle.

  6. “I figured I would next get a mid-range compound bow and a crossbow.”

    I’ve been seeing the new bows and crossbows in various catalogs over the past coupla years and man, there is some amazing stuff out there; some of the crossbows cost as much as an AR; and they even have lighted arrows and bolts now.

    We got a bunch of other priorities here now but maybe I’ll get around to trying out some of this stuff. Of course, I also wanna learn how to fly a plane, but by the time we have the dough for it, I’ll be way too old.

    A man’s got to know his limitations…etc.

  7. I’ve got a good inflation figure for you. I’ve been driving my Expedition for 9 years. My first oil change in August 2005 was $31. Today’s oil change was $54. 74% inflation over the last nine years sounds fairly correct to me.

  8. I have not had squirrel for lunch in 40+ years. Tastes like dark chicken meat if I remember correctly. Fried in a pan of course with the chicken that Grandma was making for our lunch. Grandad hated squirrels with a passion and used a single shot .22LR rifle very effectively.

  9. “Holding Their Own VII: Phoenix Star” by Joe Nobody

    Book number seven of a eight book series about the financial collapse of the USA in 2016. The series may stop at book number eight but I am not sure.

    It has been a year since the collapse and about half of the population in the USA is dead due to violence or starvation. The USA government is trying hard to hold on but the complexity of feeding the nation when the transportation networks stopped working is proving to be difficult at best.

    The West Texas Alliance is strengthening and getting more and more members. The looming civil war with the USA looks more and more certain each day.

    My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    Amazon rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (103 reviews)

  10. I have not had squirrel for lunch in 40+ years

    My Mom used to take squirrel, rabbit and grouse and make meat pies out of them. Yum.

  11. Grandad hated squirrels with a passion and used a single shot .22LR rifle very effectively.

    “They’re rats with bushy tails.” 🙂

  12. I read Amazon is opening a brick & mortar store in NY. Is this a goofy idea?

  13. Ah the memories, I too have not had squirrel for more than 40 years. Used to hunt in my grandfather’s timber (full of oak, hickory, and black walnut with a little bit of maple). I used a bolt action single shot 22, my cousins used shotguns. I got 4 squirrels to each of their one. They lived on the farm and I was the “city boy” but they literally defined “can’t hit the broadside of the barn. Not too mention that what few squirrels they got were full of shot.

    My grandmother felt that it was the women’s duty to clean and prepare the game we brought in. She taught me her skills and insisted that she clean most of the squirrels.

    The squirrels were well fed with all the nuts in the timber, but just before the corn harvest they gorged on corn which flushed out some of the bitterness of the nut diet.

  14. Si Robertson on Duck Dynasty keeps skinny with two gallons of ice tea and three servings of squirrel and dumplings a day.

  15. A pretty good explanation for why the huckleberry cops haven’t caught their shooter yet:

    I can attest to the odor thing he talks about; Charles could smell us big hairy omnivores for very long distances in the heat of SEA. And after a while there, we could smell Charles, too. Amazing thing, really.

    And that’s sweat, excretions and diets; imagine if somebody is smoking tobacco or drinking alcohol.

  16. I’m surprised you can’t fire an air rifle in your town. Here in Massachusetts the only prohibition is that one can’t fire across a road or railroad track…

  17. ” Here in Massachusetts the only prohibition is that one can’t fire across a road or railroad track…”

    I’ve fired off a letter to former AG Coakely accordingly with a cc to Ms. Warren; someone must have been asleep at the switch. These weapons have dangerous terrorist potential and now is not the time to grow slack in terms of homeland security.

    Also, where exactly in Ye Old Commonwealth would one *not* actually be firing across a road or some railroad tracks somewhere?

  18. I’m more positive about Europe than our host. However, debt is a serious problem that essentially all countries are ignoring. Future history books will surely write about this, about how governments sucked their own societies dry, in a futile attempt to preserve their own power. Like a snake eating it’s own tail, this just cannot work.

    Even here in Switzerland, where the federal government is forbidden to run a deficit (and actually obeys this restriction): the cantonal (state) and town governments have no such restriction – and do their very best (worst?) to make up the difference. Our little town here, with around 5000 inhabitants, has millions in debt.

    The thing is: This debt crisis can drag on for decades. The governments will drive their societies into poverty, but the change happens slowly. Each new generation thinks “this is the way things are” – having no way to directly compare their lives to those of their parents or grandparents at the same age.

    In the US, my parents lived a comfortable middle-class life on one salary (white collar, non-college), and that was pretty normal in the 1950s/60s. Today? Not really possible, but the kids coming out of school have no idea that it ever was. Life is the way it is, the government will take care of them, why should they be up in arms? By the time they’re old enough to see the continuing decline for themselves, the next generation will be coming of age…

  19. My mom and dad raised six kids and bought a big house with a big piece of land on just a big engine mechanic’s wages in the 1970s. When I mention the near impossibility of doing this today, I’m often met with bizarre explanations. My favorite was slavery: the white man was able to do well up until Johnson’s civil rights movement because of making the black man work for nothing. I’m not sure how old that person thought I am, but allow me to assert that I was born well after the attempted secession.

  20. Again, what we’re seeing is a huge decline in the ratio of the value of labor to the value of capital in total cost of production as a result of increasing automation. When my grandfather was born, a mine or factory or agricultural enterprise might employ 5,000 people for a given output. When my dad was born, that same output might require 500 people. When I was born, it might have required 100. Now, it might require 10. Before long, it’ll require only one part-time person and his dog.

    To a large extent, this loss has been disguised over the years, at first by the birth of new industries which had yet to be fully automated, later by the growth of service jobs, and still later by government-mandated employees doing make-work jobs. But ultimately in an economic sense, all that matters is the production of goods, which are now produced with very little labor input. And even that labor input is being priced out of existence by off-shore laborers who are willing to work for a lot less money than US laborers. That’s why first-world countries are and will remain at a huge advantage. The US, for example, has increased actual production every year for decades, while manufacturing employment continued to decrease. The logical endpoint is infinite goods being produced with zero labor input. And that’s fine. If anything you could want can be made with zero labor input, you don’t need much of an income to buy everything you want. Enter the Basic Income.

  21. OFD wrote:

    “We’ll see if he really does go for a third, though. For “national security” reasons, of course.”

    Think he will, since it would be patently illegal for him to do so… (yes, I know.)

  22. Mr Atoz wrote:

    “My Mom used to take squirrel, rabbit and grouse and make meat pies out of them. Yum.”

    I don’t think I’ve eaten rabbit since I was a kid in the Sixties, even though Australia is crawling with them. Must give some a try again… They’ve slipped right off my radar.

  23. “The logical endpoint is infinite goods being produced with zero labor input. And that’s fine. If anything you could want can be made with zero labor input, you don’t need much of an income to buy everything you want. Enter the Basic Income.”

    Dunno if you’ve read Iain M. Banks’ science fiction novels about The Culture, a space faring civilisation about 8-10 thousand years ahead of us. They effectively have no money as everything is free. Want anything? Just order it. If it isn’t available automated factories just make it for you.

    I think that’s a kind of society I’d like to live in… 🙂

  24. There’s no chance Obama will run for a third term or attempt to seize power. Even the vast majority of people who support him now would not stand for that, not to mention judges and congress regardless of party affiliation, the military, and probably even the Secret Service.

    The good news is that whoever is elected president in 2016, regardless of party, will almost certainly be better than Obama has been. I honestly don’t believe that Obama considers himself an American. I think he considers himself a citizen of the world. He has certainly put the interests of his country last since the beginning of his administration, as he’s doing now with the Ebola thing. I think Obama believes that the US and its citizens don’t deserve what we have and that his job is to help any other country regardless of the harm it does to the US. He wants to drag us down to third-world level because he thinks that’s what America deserves. So whoever we get in 2016, even if it’s Clinton or Biden, is likely to be worlds better than Obama has been. I am hoping that the Republicans take the Senate in 2016 and shut down everything Obama has done and is trying to do.

  25. I’ve posted this a couple of times, I guess this would be a good time to repeat it:

    A guy goes into a New York bar and there’s a robot bartender.

    The robot says, “What will you have?” The guy says, “Martini”.

    The robot brings back the best martini ever and says to the man, “What’s your IQ?”

    The guy says, “168.”

    The robot then proceeds to talk about physics, pure mathematics and medical technology.

    The guy leaves, but he’s curious – so, he goes back into the bar.

    The robot bartender says, “What will you have?”

    The guy says, “Martini.”

    Again, the robot makes a great martini gives it to the man and says, “What’s your IQ?”

    The guy says “100.”

    The robot then starts to talk about Gridiron, Coors Beer and SUVs.

    The guy leaves, but having found it very interesting, decides he’ll try it one last time. He goes back into the bar.

    The robot says, “What will you have?”

    Again the guy says, “Martini” – and the robot brings him another great one.

    The robot then says, “What’s your IQ?”

    The guy says, “Uh, about 40 …”

    The robot leans in real close and says,

    “So, you people still happy you voted for Obama?”

  26. Robert Bruce Thompson says on 10 October 2014 at 07:44

    Enter the Basic Income.

    Yes, certainly, something/someone is needed that assigns a positive value to keeping people gainfully occupied and happy. The revered Doctor Pournelle has been trying to convey this point for quite a while now. Whether it is the government or the bilbreyborgers 😎 , a coalition of the clans, a council of chiefs, a conference of the captains and coaches, a staff meeting, a confederation of the nations or a council of the counsellors, something or someone has to have power and insight to think about and do what isn’t being done now. They need the basic understanding that something more than the half-picture provided by basic book-keeping of a business needs taking into account. There are costs, values, which are being accrued against society, and not being paid by those organisations (businesses, bureaucracies, governments) that are benefiting from them.

    Communism certainly doesn’t work in the real world. Nor does unbridled capitalism. A form of socialism underpinning a measure of libertarianism (liberty?), a controlled form of democracy managing a limited measure of wealth/ income/ productivity, seems to work best so far. The Carnegies and Oppenheimers of the world had the sense to recognise that for their businesses and fortunes to succeed, they would need moderately contented workers and customers, rather than discontented former workers and customers. More and more our current generations seem to be unable to retain the knowledge former generations learnt at either great cost or great profit. Well, well, what a surprise – those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. Even more, those who discard the decisions of the past which led to good results, even without any apparent reason; who cast loose their vessels to run into uncharted waters, are finding they often suffer for it.
    “Oh, Mama, look! That worked last time, and that over there worked the time before. Let’s try something different this time – maybe we’ll do even better!” Obviously, there’s a definite limit to how long that attitude would be successful; but apparently it’s not obvious to the meanest intelligence.

    Exporting jobs may not be a bad thing in some cases, if we can import benefits from it in return. However, as things stand at the moment, the decision is made ONLY by those who will benefit from it, with no input from those who’ll have to pay. We need to have the decisions take into account that people are not nameless ciphers, faceless automatons. Not only will the society pay a cost for their loss and their discontent, but these stones on the board will also pay a price, possible an insurmountable one, if they are required to cope with an insurmountable disruption to their personal lives.

    The “Basic Income” would be a good basis (surprise!) for coping with change. Particularly so in that it could be built inflexibly into the structure of society, unable to be cancelled or interfered with at whim. However, we should also recognise that the impact of change is not only payable in the coin of the realm, but also the coin of the spirit. We need compassion tempered by realism to cope with that, and sometimes a hard-headed realism that will say “NO! We can’t allow that change, despite the profit that may be foregone, because it’s not just inconvenient, but CRUEL!”

  27. “…as a result of increasing automation.”

    I just read somewhere yesterday that now our corporate overlords are getting annoyed because their offshore drones are demanding higher wages, so they’re starting to move bigtime into automation and robots. When I was at Big Blue I saw a foreshadowing of this; I’d started out in IT as an “operator” and at one of the IBM data centers up here they had a robot doing that gig; backing up and restoring tapes, a machine about the size of a jumbo fridge. You don’t see too many operator jobs listed anymore.

    I also read they’ve tried robots in operating room surgery and it ain’t working out real well yet; lots of mistakes and expense. No problemo, senor, they’ll work out the kinks and “challenges” on real live patients until they get it right. Anything to avoid paying doctors and nurses. Whatever it takes to save a dime and apply it to the overlords’ greens fees and investment portfolios.

    “There’s no chance Obama will run for a third term or attempt to seize power.”

    Pharaoh Roosevelt II did it; all they have to do is gin up or instigate a large national crisis that makes a change of leadership at the top “problematic” and thus keeping the same guy in there makes more sense. Allegedly. A lot of people in this country, undoubtedly the vast majority, still think we have a genuine representative government and that elections matter and that the Presidency is a real job where its occupant is bound by the rules we were taught back in high skool.

    I don’t.

    I think that if the rulers decide that Barry should stay in another four, he will. Or maybe they’ll decide that Ted Cruz is what’s needed at this point; so be it. I also don’t think that just anybody will be an improvement over Barry Soetero; the process of destruction is well along now, and they can do far worse than him.

    As for the joke about mental defectives voting for him, sure, lots of ignorant trough-feeders did and do; but also many millions of smartypants librul types who have IQ’s over 100, college-educated, grad school types. Mainly in the cities and college towns on both coasts. And they’ll do it again; though they really desperately want HILLARY! or Fauxcahontas Warren.

  28. “Pharaoh Roosevelt II did it…”

    22nd Amendment, Davie:

    “No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once….”

  29. “I’d started out in IT as an “operator” and at one of the IBM data centers up here they had a robot doing that gig; backing up and restoring tapes, a machine about the size of a jumbo fridge.”

    We got them when we got Amdahl gear in 1989. A good thing too, except when they broke. Operators didn’t like mounting and dismounting tapes and putting them in storage.

  30. “22nd Amendment, Davie:”

    Y’all keep pointing out our Constitution and Bill of Rights amendments; what in the world makes ya think that anyone in our political “leadership” takes them seriously? Or has done so for a *very* long time? They’re clearly birdcage liner, simple as that. They’ve ignored this stuff routinely. Again, why is it some folks still believe we have a working system here? We don’t.

    “Operators didn’t like mounting and dismounting tapes and putting them in storage.”

    Operators in my day were treated as expendable drones; given tons of responsibility and crapped on repeatedly. I have many stories. I moved “up” into sys/net admin status but in the end, I’m still just a machine operator, like I was with wave solder machines and PCB fabrication apparatus at Data General back in the late 70s. And I’m probably being paid less in real dollars than I was back then.

    When I was young and single and out having fun most every night.

  31. The people won’t wear it. The Republicans won’t wear it. The Democrats (especially those who want their ‘turn’) won’t wear it. It’s not as if he deserves a third term, like Truman did and could have had.

  32. Y’all placing a lotta confidence in The People and the two halves of the War Party here.

    It doesn’t matter a whit if he don’t deserve it; who *has* “deserved” it? Even our sainted Washington didn’t want the job and left it as soon as he could. The sainted Father Abraham, of course, had to be taken out. Along with the sainted JFK.

    And that business of whose “turn” it is doesn’t wash anymore here; that went out with Panama hats. It’s whoever has the most money, his or her own or from somewhere else; the annointing of the MSM; and the go-ahead from the rulers.

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