36 Chambers – The Legendary Journeys: Execution to the max!

June 30, 2011

How You Can Tell Business Taxes Are Too High

Filed under: Economics — Kevin Feasel @ 5:03 pm

Political Calculations is consistently one of my favorite blogs.  Recently, they had two blog posts (part one, part two) showing the link between taxes US corporations pay and foreign direct investment by US corporations.  As you would expect, with corporate payroll taxes rising over time, off-shoring becomes a better option.

The important thing to note is that, even though corporate income taxes are a relatively low percentage of GDP compared to payroll taxes, they are still a relatively high percentage in comparison to pretty much every other country on this planet.  So even without the relative difference, there would still be some level of outflow toward countries with better tax policies.

June 29, 2011

Stupidity

Filed under: Specific Stupidity — Kevin Feasel @ 8:32 pm

Ilya Somin says what I want to say.

According to these geniuses, Congress could theoretically force anybody to do anything as long as there is some “substantial” economic activity.  I think Congress should mandate child labor, and their not doing so is a substantial economic drag.  I mean, why are we spending thousands of dollars a year educating munchkins when we can make them work for us?

Also, I’m pretty sure the tarring and feathering business is neglected in modern life, so there should be a regulation requiring the tarring and feathering of Jeffrey Sutton and Boyce Martin.  To make it substantial, we’ll have thousands of people do it every day.  That’d be substantial!

Oh, and slavery should be brought back.  Screw that 13th amendment; it’s a boon for “substantial” economic activity!  And it would take factory and textile jobs back from those Chinese!  Where could this argument possibly stop?  Even at its absurdest, I can’t see a logical reason to say “whoa, now we’re talking two different things here!”  In one case, you’re having the machinery of the State compel people to invest the fruits of their labor into specific areas.  In the other case, you’re just cutting out the middleman.

Fraudulent Research Grants

Filed under: Curmudgeonliness — Kevin Feasel @ 4:59 pm

Apparently, in the EU, a criminal effort was able to get $72 million in fraudulent research grants.  Steven Hayward believes that these are probably “climate change” grants, as the money has been flowing to that strand of research (at least if you’re on the “we’re all going to die unless we give the government more power now!” side of things).

My point is a little bit different, though.  What is the probability that private firms would have been bilked for $72 million by hucksters?  I believe it would be significantly lower than the probability that the government would fall for the same.  When you spend your own money, you tend to want returns and take some time to do due diligence.  But when you are spending somebody else’s money on things for other people, who cares who really gets the money, as long as the money’s out?  You follow the process, and the process is all that matters.

June 28, 2011

You Expected Different?

Filed under: Curmudgeonliness — Kevin Feasel @ 4:48 pm

Pete Spiliakos and John Opie are disgusted that President Obama is making an obviously political timing decision with regard to withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

Opie makes a good point, noting that foreign policy is just an irrelevancy to the modern, New Left sort of Democrat.  They don’t mind starting wars—whoops, I’m sorry, “kinetic military actions”—but they sure don’t like to fight them.  Anything more stressful than lobbing some cruise missiles in and that cuts down on the time they can spend distributing the boodle.

June 27, 2011

Glorious Failure

Filed under: Terrorism — Kevin Feasel @ 4:40 pm

Al Queda is dying.  This is a nice data point for my Yankees Theory of terrorism.  It sounds like years of attrition have driven out (through death, capture, or disruption) most of the high-level terrorist stock and the remainder is a combination of chaff and inexperienced people.

June 26, 2011

The Questioning Of Patriotism As Intellectual Argument

Filed under: Curmudgeonliness — Kevin Feasel @ 4:36 pm

I thought that wasn’t allowed.  Doug Powers focuses on the stupidity of Nancy Pelosi’s statement, but I want to focus on the “What are these people not patriotic?” line.

I would point out the hypocrisy here, but seriously, is there anybody with a shred of rationality who hasn’t figured out that Nancy Pelosi’s a hypocrite?

June 25, 2011

Buffalo’s New Uniforms

Filed under: Sports — Kevin Feasel @ 9:35 pm

They look pretty good.  They’re certainly a fair sight better than the last uniforms, and I’m glad that they’ve gone back to the classic blue.  Uni-Watch seems to approve as well.

June 24, 2011

Crime Will Pay Less(?)

Filed under: Curmudgeonliness — Kevin Feasel @ 3:57 pm

Steve Sailer has, for a while now, pointed out that modern technology and this “here’s what I’m doing right now!” wave that has afflicted youngsters is making certain types of crime less tenable.  Here, he hands it off to a commenter making the point.  The problem is that if you’re an idiot going out to commit a crime, it’s more likely that you’ll get caught on camera.  Or, even better, you’ll post a status update on Facebook or tweet about it.  This will make it significantly easier to catch criminals, who, for the most part, tend to be impulsive and not too bright.

The panopticon is crowd-sourced.

Review You Can Use [tm]: inFamous 2 (PS 3)

Filed under: Reviews you can use [tm]!, Video Games — Tony Demchak @ 3:52 pm

I decided to sign up for GameFly a week or two ago — I highly recommend it. The first game I got was something for the Lady Penguatroll; a PS 3 version of the popular board game Scene It (which we already own two versions of; not entirely sure why she chose this, but eh). The second was inFamous 2. My review for inFamous is here.

If you didn’t play the original game, your character is Cole MacGrath, originally a mild-mannered bike courier in Empire City. When a device called the Ray Sphere goes kablooey, delivered by Cole, he gets superpowers of an electrical nature. The new installment opens on the way to New Marais, which is absolutely not New Orleans, after The Beast levels Empire City, which is not New York.

The controls are very simple; the game opens with a nice tutorial. As an added bonus, if you beat inFamous, you get bonuses, like free XP, when you start the game. Fans of the original game will be able to dive right in; they had to get a new voice actor for Cole, and that might irritate a fan of the series, but that’s honestly a fairly minor complaint.

Cole is bigger and badder than ever, with plenty of new powers, including a Spider-Man like “lightning tether” and the ability to throw cluster grenades. Your karma choices — good or bad — have a permanent effect on which powers you can or cannot use. If you go evil, you might get the ability to teleport for brief distances, but you’ll lose a protective shield.

Enemies range from inhuman swamp monsters to Conduits (people with superpowers) who have power over ice to ignorant, redneck militiamen. The game’s difficulty isn’t terribly high, even on Hard, but it can occasionally be challenging, particularly early on. You’ll find yourself constantly needing to recharge or heal, which keeps up the tension and the pace. Cole is surprisingly vulnerable, a little more so than in the first game. Two rockets will kill him, and unlike some shooters, the enemies didn’t go to the Stormtrooper School of Marksmanship; they’ll hit you surprisingly frequently. You’ll need to use your powers to dispatch your enemies as frequently as possible.

Karma, as always, is the centerpiece of inFamous 2. If you do good things, like stopping muggings or killing bad guys, you’ll get good karma. If you kill the mugging victim or slaughter civilians indiscriminately, you’ll get bad karma. Certain missions or events throughout the game will give you an opportunity to make either a good karma choice or a bad karma choice; unlike inFamous, for better or worse, the game tells you which is which explicitly. The story plays out slightly differently, until you get the last two or three story missions, which are radically different depending on which side you choose. Each ending is radically different; that’s all I can say without spoiling things. Neither one really seems to set up an inFamous 3, which is kind of a shame.

Graphically, there are occasional glitches, and the camera can be kind of a pain at times. If you’re fighting at a distance (which in most cases you should), that’s no big deal, but if you’re fighting with the Amp (a new melee weapon), the camera will focus on the guy you’re fighting, to the exclusion of everything else around you.

One new element I didn’t explore much is User Generated Content; you can actually play missions created by other people. I didn’t try any of the missions — I wanted to finish it as quickly as possible — but I’ve heard very good things about it.

The story was the heart and the soul of inFamous, and it’s a little weaker in the sequel. The characters don’t react as much to your alignment as they probably should. If you haven’t played inFamous, a good part of the story won’t make sense — but since you can get inFamous free now, that’s not as big a problem as it might have been. There aren’t as many memorable moments either, although the endings are both very poignant. Some characters make an appearance, but a couple don’t. If you were hoping some of the loose ends would get tied up in inFamous 2, well, they don’t. Two characters in particular (SPOILER — you’ll have to highlight to see who they are) are never explained and you never hear what happens to them. The characters are Moira and Sasha.

It’s a good game, but not as mind-blowing as the first one. I’m pleased I got it through GameFly, but I would have been pretty peeved had I gotten it at full price — there just isn’t enough content for $59.99. User-generated content could fix some of that, admittedly.

Pros

– Gameplay is fast and furious

– Very good score, most of the original voice actors return

– Both endings are satisfying, for the most part

Cons

– Not as much mission variety

– Game a little too difficult in the beginning

– Camera and graphical problems

Government Inspectors Do Bang-Up Job

Filed under: Curmudgeonliness — Kevin Feasel @ 3:51 pm

Yeah, sure, you might say that we live in a regulatory miasma in which children get fined hundreds of dollars for not shutting down their illegal lemonade stand, but I like to look at the bright side:  at least those government workers were out there busting their butts.  I mean, there are plenty of government “workers” who are content to surf the Internet or read newspapers all day, finding excuses to game the system and drag everyone else down with their corpulence (both physical and mental).  But these people are actually hard at work, making sure that nobody drowns in the foul lemony sugar-water swill these hoodlums were peddling.  Good on you folks!  I’d offer to buy them a drink, but they already shut down the lemonade stand.

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