Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It Can't Be Said Better -XVII

I haven't been looking in on Slacktivist regularly. His chief claim to fame is for deconstructing the absurd theology of the Left Behind novels, which bores me. However, he also often examines other aspects of what a Christian daily life really means if you have actually read and studied the Bible on an powerful academic level (as opposed to reading it with an axe to grind). And then, sometimes he just explains the real world.

If your company is large enough that that guy has a boss -- your boss's boss's boss's boss -- then not only does he not know what you do or how it's done, but he cannot see any difference between its being done well and its being done poorly.

Read the rest of the post

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Latest Miniatures

I have completed the first of two planned Union Corps. Thanks to a steer from Phil to WarFlags, I even have flags for them, without having to wait to have them sent.Here's a divisional closeup.
It's not actually entirely a complete corps for Volley and Bayonet because it still needs another corps battery and a mounted corps officer, but I will have to buy a pack of mounted generals to do the corps commander. So I figured it is close enough for now.

economics 102

This is a very interesting proposal for a solution to the problem of job exports from a tax analyst.

I am one of the people who decides to locate jobs outside of the U.S. Specifically, I am the head of tax for a U.S. multinational. It is my job to advise that high value manufacturing and research should, from a tax point of view, be located outside of this country. I advise that it is better to invest cash in foreign operations than in American ones. If the recent tax proposal of House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rangel becomes law, I will advise that good administrative jobs should be moved out of the U.S. I don’t like giving that advice, but under current law that’s what the numbers dictate. I want to change that.
The proposal is tax neutral in its entirety:

But there is a simple solution that works. Give corporations a deduction for dividends they pay, and make up the tax revenue by getting rid of special rates for capital gains and by imposing a 7½% tax on individual income over $500,000 a year, which is all it takes to be revenue neutral. That would make the U.S. the best location in the world for high value operations. It would restore our economy and give middle class workers market power.
Interestingly, this is a truly bipartisan proposal. Both parties would have to give on doctrinal hobby horses. The Democrats would have to give on capital gains taxes, the Republicans have to give on tax preference for the wealthy, specifically a new high income tax bracket and regarding the exchange at death from parent to child as a taxable event.

It's interesting and somebody put a lot of sincere thought into the proposal, but until the Republican party leadership actually recognizes that bipartisanship means actually giving something or giving something up, it isn't going to happen. At this point, an examination of the record tells us that Republican bipartisanship is code for "You give us what we want and we won't accuse you of being soft on terror....(fingers crossed under the table: until the election)"

Monday, January 21, 2008


The infantry for the Union Army for RadCon's Guns of The South using Hordes of the Things (HOTT GOTS) has been rebased and a little touch up painting done. The figures for both armies have been removed from their old bases and the personality figures should be here tomorrow. There is still some finish work to do on these bases and of course, a little painting and a lot more basing to do.

The planned Union Army list will be:

US Grant - Cleric (To be painted, Old Glory figure should arrive tomorrow)
1 Cavalry or 1 Knight (Knight if led by GA Custer - Have painted figs, need based)
2 Artillery (need based) or
1 Artillery and 1 Sneaker (Berdan's Sharpshooters on left in photo)
6 stands of Infantry as Spears. Assortment above includes Western infantry in black hat, Zouave infantry, or various stands of regular ACW infantry;
or 5 stands as spear and 1 stand of Black Infantry as warband.

I have 15mm model of the farmhouse that was Meade's Headquarters at Gettysburg to paint up that might make a stronghold, but it's out of scale, so I don't really like it, but I don't have anything else to hand. Maybe could take some card stock and make a couple of rows of A tents and a firepit....
The Confederate army list looks like:

Robert E. Lee - Magician (To be painted, Old Glory fig arriving with Grant)
1 Cavalry or 1 Knight (Knight if led by JEB Stuart, need based)
1 Moseby's partisans as Lurker
1 Artillery (need based)
7 stands of AK 47 armed infantry as blades to the union spears.... (I have a lot of old figures with scrawny rifles and bayonets that have broken off. I plan to cut them short and pretend they are AK 47's.)

I'm still waiting for some 60mm x 60mm metal bases which should be here next week.

The army lists are still mutable if anybody wants to make suggestions.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Stones River

War Eagles once again playtested my Stones River Scenario in preparation for RadCon. I had felt that the initial games using one stand per brigade made artillery too powerful and difficult to simulate. Using two stands per brigade, I reorganized the scenario.

This made McCook way too resilient and the Confederate assault wasn't set up right either. After running the first three turns three times, I think we have something that works again. The photo is the first take, which resulted in Cheatham being decimated and McCown being unable to get around McCook's flank. Cheatham's remnants also kept Cleburne (behind him in the photo) from getting into the fight.

The first adjustment was to break up Davis and Johnson's divisions of McCook's Corps into non-contiguous brigades in hopes of making it harder for them to organize a defense, but timely command rolls by the Union and poor rolls for the Confederacy got them into good order and we stopped it and reset again.

The second adjustment was to move Cheatham all the way to Cleburne's left and put McCown a stand width ahead of Cheatham and all the way outside of McCook's right. That let's the initial turn clash be Cheatham and Cleburne fully engaged, while McCown moves on around. With the broken up deployment of Davis and Johnson, this cost McCook two full brigades in the first two turns and any decent command rolls by Hardee should keep the assault rolling. As it was, John rolled a six for McCook's initial command roll and using all six points managed to get Davis and Johnson into a refused flank with artillery support. Hardee still had the numbers, but poor command rolls meant he couldn't exploit the advantage before Rosecrans could get reinforcements into position.

The command problems posed by the rules set add some really juicy friction that drove both commanders crazy, which is exactly what they are supposed to do.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Why not voter ID laws?

This is why.

I was one of those who thought that it made sense to require a photo ID to vote until I tried to help my politically active 83-year-old mother try to get one. At the Bedford Bureau of Motor Vehicles branch we were treated like terrorists. The supervisor was stone-faced as she handed us a piece of paper and said that she could not answer any questions and that we should leave now. The paper said there was a problem with Mom's Social Security number, but gave no indication of what it was or how to resolve it.

Social Security's automated phone menu was gloriously unhelpful. When I finally did get through to a human, he knew of no problem. The state BMV also claimed it had no idea of what was wrong. So I took Mom to the Bloomington BMV. There we were inches from success when they noticed that her Social Security card, Medicare card and Indiana driver's license all had her married name, but her birth certificate had her maiden name.
Even though the Social Security office has her maiden and married names on file, the BMV was unwilling to use its records to confirm my mother's identity. After long conversations with the supervisor and phone calls to the regional BMV manager, I was told to contact the county where she was married to get a copy of her 59-year-old marriage license.
When it finally arrived, after more phone calls and fees, we returned to the Bedford BMV, where we were finally given a photo ID without ever being asked for the marriage license. It took 100 miles of driving, hours on the phone, and several weeks to provide the same security against voter fraud that a simple signature would have offered. Could she have done this without my help? No.
Justice St. Rain

Add to that the fact there is been no (zero, zip, nada) prosecution for voter identity fraud in recent (Post WWII) history, and Voter ID laws are clearly a solution without a problem to solve.

It is therefor obvious that they have some other reason.

Their clearly obvious effect is to make it more difficult for some types of voters to cast a vote on election day.

Another word for that is Disenfranchisement.

And Disenfranchisement benefits only one political party.

Do you get it now?

Friday, January 11, 2008

War Mongering

So some Iranian speedboats went bombing around some US Navy ships in the Persian Gulf and Surprise! The Navy refrained from blowing them out of the water.

Last nights Republican debate:

One of the most bizarre moments in this debate, or any other debate for that matter, came when Brit Hume pressed the candidates on whether they agreed with the "passive" response of the Navy ships that were confronted by Iranian speedboats in the Strait of Hormuz — the ships threatened to fire on the Iranians if they did not desist in their approach, rather than immediately fire as Hume would prefer.

The candidates all stood by the decisions of the captains on those ships, despite Hume's repeated urging that they be stronger. Among the top-tier candidates, only McCain came even close to criticizing Hume, calling it "a bit presumptuous" to judge the captains, who trained for a very long time to reach their positions and are trusted to make those judgments.

I am sure those captains are intimately aware of rule # 1 of modern naval warfare: "He who shoots first, sinks last." Once the missiles are in the air, everybody is going to the bottom.... Destroyers for speedboats is a lousy trade, so they aren't going to shoot first. Somebody needs to explain this to Fred Thompson. I heard him on NPR this morning saying if the Iranians had pushed it they'd get introduced to those virgins they are looking for.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

God in politics

DHinMI at DailyKos had a decent summary of the Democratic party debate last night in New Hampshire and a short paragraph about the Republican debate which says more about his/her preconceptions about Republicans than the actual vapidity of their policy statements. The meat of the paragraph is this:

The Republicans presented a bunch of bickering, mean-spirited and short-sighted candidates, only one of whom faced hard realities (but offered isolationism and a return to the gold standard as the panaceas), and only one of whom came across as warm and optimistic (and he distrusts science and thinks God talks directly to him, which we've already seen in the last 8 years doesn't turn out that well).
I have heard a lot of people on liberal sites make the assumption of that last parenthetical expression, that talking to God removes rationality from the discussion and I need to take exception to that.

God can and will speak to us all. But he speaks in a still, small voice not with the sound of trumpets. It is easy to miss it in the noise of every day life. And it is altogether too easy to mistake ego for that still, small voice. It is especially easy if you take the shortcut of listening for the still, small voice before bothering to study the information available. That's what is wrong in the White House, not that he listens to God, but by not listening to everyone, he can't hear what God is truly saying. That takes humility whose opposite is hubris. Beware of hubris and know the limits of your own knowledge, especially when listening for the still, small voice.

Not AFC fans

Photo was taken this afternoon from my back porch during the AFC Wild Card game between San Diego and Tennessee. The sun was out early 'til about 1:30 0r 2:00 PM and probably tempted them out, but apparently it wasn't cold enough to drive them in after the clouds moved in.... I like the Santa hat with the sleeveless shirt. ;o)

San Diego tried hard to lose, but in the end they scored more.

Friday, January 4, 2008

It can't be said better -- XIV

Good news for Democrats, bad (really bad) news for Republicans:

Total Voter Turnout (approximate)


Percentage of total vote

24.5% Obama
20.5% Edwards
19.8% Clinton
11.4% Huckabee (R)

Kinda says it all, doesn't it?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New Year's Day

Gary Swearingen's annual War Eagles New Year's Day Wooden Ships and Iron Men bash this year was a historical scenario based on the Battle of the Lizard: Two French Squadrons descend on an English convoy of supplies for the war in Spain for fun and profit.... The convoy is covered by a single English squadron. The insubordinate French junior Commodore has launched himself at the English. Tsk. The French senior Commodore plans to slip his frigates past the English to wreak havoc in the convoy.

That worked out rather better than expected. One of the French frigates would make the Yankee Clipper look slow and was very well handled, ducking between Chester (50) and Ruby (50) and raking them both and all but dis-masting the Ruby, then swooping past and into the convoy....then the wind changed.

Things went rather badly for Brian Swearingen, in charge of the English squadron, all day. First there was the little matter of twos. In a game system that rewards high die rolls, a substantial majority of his rolls were (you guessed) twos. At one point, he had like twelve consecutive, plus lots of others. It was weird.

Then there this little mis-judgment:

The plan (I think) was to ram that little 50 gun ship with his big 'ol 80 gun Cumberland and tangle up the entire squadron, but he came up just a bit short.... On the other hand, orders were to hold up the French squadrons at all costs and it took most of the efforts of the entire French squadron the rest of the game to finally force the Cumberland to strike.

The other French squadron, a 60 gun and 3 50's with dubious crews, was supposed to get cored by Royal Oak, 76, on the left and Devonshire, 80 guns on the right of the French battle line and coming down the wind.

But the French Admiral, counting on his large crews, rammed the Royal Oak and boarded it from his crack 60 gun flagship, Mars. Honesty compels me to give slight credit (2 crew hits) to a timely stern rake at long range by a 50 from the other squadron.

The toughest part came after winning the boarding action, extricating the prize and the flagship from under the guns of the Devonshire, with the English downwind. Sailing upwind with under-crewed, damaged ships isn't easy. We got knocked about pretty good on the way out.

Then came the denoument. Moments after the Cumberland struck to the other squadron, which had been pounding it and getting pounded forever, the Devonshire is swarmed by three French 50's simultaneously. That took just about forever to set up maneuvering mostly into the wind, but it was over quickly once it happened. ;o)

Gary ruled it bragging rights for everybody and plenty of French recriminations over who did the most, which was very historical. The two squadron commanders were supposedly still sniping at each other years later. (Duane and I are still arguing over who gets the Ruby. We'll probably still be arguing in 2108.... I had a prize crew on it, by gum! And it was my frigate that stern raked it nigh dis-masting it on the way by, making it a sitting duck!) The English squadron was tasked with stopping the French at all hazards, so losing all his ships was not strictly a failure, since only one (but very fast) frigate broke past them before the convoy had time to scurry to safety.