Saturday, February 24, 2018

Carthago Delenda Est

All those old stories about salting the earth to prevent crops from growing ever again are either myth, or hyperbole. How do I know? Well, up here in New England, they put down enough salt to perform a reenactment of the Third Punic War every winter, and yet stuff still grows by the side of the roads.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

On Gun Laws and Tragedy

I have some notes for any anti-gun individuals who might read this post, and a couple for the people on my side.

For the Anti-gun folks:
  1. Police were called to the Parkland shooter's (I refuse to learn the names of these assholes) home MULTIPLE times. As in 39. He posted credible threats on the internet UNDER HIS OWN NAME. People called the FBI twice about him. The armed school resource officer, rather than do his job, decided to sit the shooting out. For all intents and purposes, Law Enforcement at every level failed to do their jobs. These are the same people who'd be enforcing any new gun laws that get passed. What makes you think that they're competent do do that?
  2. If you read the Second Amendment, the operative clause says, "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." There's a distinct lack of "unless it'll make people safer" or "unless it saves one child."
  3. Even if the Second Amendment did allow for that, the problem isn't guns. Here are some data points:
    1. 19 dead in a knife attack in Japan
    2. 33 Dead in a mass stabbing at a Chinese train station
    3. 22 stabbed outside a school (according to this article, knife attacks are apparently not uncommon in China)
    4. 334 dead in the Beslan School Siege
    5. 87 Dead in Happy Land arson
    6. 168 dead in the Oklahoma City Bombing.
    8.  If guns were the problem, our murder rate would make Honduras' look like kindergarten play. In fact, if there is a correlation between guns and homicide, it's a negative one.
    9. If you refuse to accept Honduras' homicide rate as relevant, you're admitting that it's more complicated than "Guns cause crime".
  4. Bump stocks aren't the problem either. They've been used once for a mass killing - mass killings are more likely to involve arson, explosives or trucks, than they are to involve a bump-fire stock. And yet people are getting all worked up about a piece of plastic that any chump with a 3d printer (and, if you're willing to do the assembly yourself, 3d printers are surprisingly affordable) can push out by the dozens or hundreds, depending on how committed he is. And you don't actually need a bump-fire stock to bump fire - it just makes it more comfortable.
  5. Do you really want to give Trump more power?
  6. Luty, Metral, Sten, Uru. Do you know what all those names have in common? They're all submachine guns that can be built with minimal tools and hardware store components. The Luty SMG was actually designed with that in mind. Variants of all those guns (except, AFAIK, the Luty) get mass produced by illegal arms factories in various nations and sold to criminals. most of these nations have very strict gun control. 
  7. Gun control is not the answer, not even a part of it. There is, in fact, no simple answer. Allowing qualified teachers to carry, and putting armed LEOs in as many schools as possible is a start, but it isn't a complete answer in and of itself.
For my side:
  1. Specifically for those who voted Trump in the primaries: now that Trump is advocating a useless ban on bump-fire stocks and raising the buying age of guns to 21, do you feel stupid? I hope you do. Just because someone says they're on your side doesn't mean that they actually are.
    EDIT: I'm not blaming anyone for voting for Trump in the General Election. Maximilien Robespierre is a more attractive choice than Hillary.
  2. For the NRA - You quisling fuckweasels. I hope you're happy with yourselves for proposing a ban on a piece of plastic. The president apparently agrees with you.

Friday, February 9, 2018

The Myth of Soviet Power in WWII

Much ado is made of Hitler, his ill fated decision to invade Russia right before winter, and, for those who've really drank the cool aid, how the Russians could have kicked Nazi Germany's butt without Allied assistance. However, when you get right down to it, the Soviet Empire would almost certainly have fallen without outside assistance, and certainly wouldn't have been able to do better than a stalemate without it.

20% of all Soviet armored vehicles came from Lend-Lease.
30% of their fighters and bombers were Lend-Lease.
59% of their non-armored tactical vehicles (this category includes Jeeps, trucks, and half-tracks, but it's worth noting that the US sent more trucks than the Soviets total production in this category).
Food aid and petroleum products numbered in the millions of tons.
Then there's the almost 2000 locomotives provided (mostly steam, with less than a hundred diesel locomotives) and close to 10000 train cars to go with them.

I've seen some people make the specious argument that "The Soviets didn't like our weapons, so they got assigned to rear echelon roles where it didn't make a difference". This argument is, of course wrong, for a couple of reasons:
  1. Rear echelon roles are still vital - a Sherman in the rear frees up a T34 for the front.
  2. They likes several of our designs so much that they based designs of their own on them, or in some cases (such as the B-29) blatantly copied it in the post war era.
  3. Sheer numbers meant that entire units were armed with lend-lease weapons - and those units did see combat using those weapons.
  4. It of course completely ignores all the support vehicles, trains, food, and petroleum producs that were also a part of lend-lease.
In fact, we really only need to look at one category to understand just what would have happened to the Soviets without lend-lease - Trucks. The US gave the Soviets more trucks (1 1/2 and 2 1/2 ton models) than the entire non-armored vehicle production of the Soviet Union during the course of the war. Without those trucks, the USSR's logistics capability would have been more than halved. If you can't get ammunition, food, and fuel, let alone replacement weapons and repair parts to the front lines, you can't win.