Pack Sizes

As manufacturers of consumer products juggle the balls of sales, cost and price, they come up with all sorts of schemes to “fool” customers — the snack bar people like Cadbury or Hershey are experts at this, decreasing the product’s size without raising the price thereof, so that people think that they’re still paying the same for that chocolate bar, and they are, except that they’re in essence paying more per ounce. It’s an old game, and one that I’m fully familiar with (and one that everybody should be fully familiar with, by the way). And as long as it happens with non-essentials like snack bars, I’m indifferent.

Unfortunately, now we seem to be facing this nonsense in our most basic of commodities, .22 ammo. Here’s an example, in an online flyer I received in the old Inbox just yesterday:

We’re all used to the venerable 500-round “brick” (as seen in the Remington Thunderbolts), of course, which is basically just a combo pack of the normal 50- or 100-round boxes. But we also see CCI’s little sneaker: the 300-round box which keeps it well below the $25 price point and Federal’s 275-round box which keeps the purchase below the $20 price point; but on a per-round basis, boxing the ammo like this can disguise a horribly-expensive price. At least this doesn’t seem to be the case here, because it’s a “Sale”. For those who don’t want to do the arithmetic:
Thunderbolt — 6 cents per round
CCI — 6.25 cents per round
Federal — 5.8 cents per round

Likewise, at the bulk end of the scale, we find products like this:

…which equates to 7.9 cents per round. Note that the quantity is 1,575 rounds and not the “three-brick” 1,500 rounds, making brick-by-brick price comparisons impossible without a calculator.

Indeed, all this pack-size differential seems to be designed on just that basis: to confuse the consumer. Certainly, it’s not to overcome pack design constraints or anything like that. So here’s my call to the ammo manufacturers:

Quit fucking us around with this nonsense. Sell your ammo in quantities of 50, 100 and 500, just like you always did, and quit trying to hide the fact that your company’s .22 ammo has become too fucking expensive to support a plinking habit.

I note, incidentally, that Lucky Gunner helps its customers by ranking their .22 ammo on a cost-per-round basis, which makes me smile because you can get to the heart of the matter easily when faced with a choice like this:

…just in case you didn’t notice that the “lower price” on the Browning applies to 400 rounds and not, like Aguila’s, to 500 rounds.

By the way: I love what Lucky Gunner is doing, but they are not always the cheapest, e.g. on the aforementioned Remington Thunderbolt 500-round brick, where the flyer’s price is $29.99, and LG’s is $38.75. But to be fair, the flyer’s price is a “closeout” deal (like they’re going to ever quit selling Thunderbolts — it’s probably a one-off loss leader ad item, more likely) whereas LG’s price is an everyday price.

Also, caveat emptor: a lot of times, the “great deal” you get on ammo isn’t, once you factor in the S&H costs — which differ widely between suppliers.

I’ll be talking a little more about the .22 LR thing in a later post. And just for the record: unless I’m buying target .22 LR, I refuse to pay more than 8 cents per round for the stuff. Even that price sticks in my craw, but I reluctantly accept the fact of supply and demand, and inflation, albeit with snarling hostility. My go-to CCI Mini-Max 40-grain ammo used to cost $5.99 per hundred — I have ummm several boxes with the price tag on them, dated 2006 — and now it costs $7.99. It’s like the ammo manufacturers don’t want us to shoot anymore.


(Note that in all the above, I’ve used 40-grain bullets as the common factor, and ignored any perceived quality differences in the brands. Frankly, .22 LR ammo is plinking feed, and unless you get a dud rate of more than 0.5%, they’re all pretty much of a muchness. Target/match .22 ammo is another story, and I’m not talking about that here.)

Simple Question For The NFL

…and in fact for all the people who are refusing to stand for the National Anthem:

If you don’t stand for the National Anthem, what DO you stand for?

And I mean that in every sense of the word — because my immediate reaction is: you don’t stand for shit. Also, I don’t want to hear any bullshit about your First Amendment right to protest. This nation’s Constitution proudly protects that right — and the very least you can do is acknowledge that protection by showing respect to its anthem.

This picture turned my stomach:

…and today, after wearing it proudly for thirty years, I will be throwing my Dallas Cowboys coat in the trash because that’s where it belongs.

So you listen to me, Jerry Jones, you arrogant, bloviating fuckwit: you’ve just lost the right to call yourself “America’s Team” because you don’t get to have it both ways. And that goes for the preening, pampered and overpaid prima donnas who call themselves your “players” as well, may they all die from football-related concussion. You’re nobody, you’re nothing, you’re dead to me: you, your team, all the other teams and the whole fucking NFL.

You don’t exist anymore. Fuck Off And Die, the lot of you.

You Mean “Unwise”

Some old codger offers advice to some wannabe mercenaries, and I can’t argue with a single thing he says. Sample:

“You’ve got no idea what road you are starting down. Romance and idealism wears off really fast when you’re lying in a pool of your own blood trying to stuff your intestines back into your torn abdomen.”

It’s the thing which sometimes keeps me awake at night: not that I’m the guy on the ground, but that I might be the cause of it.

Grabbing Guns

Not sure how this little idea would have played out in Texas:

U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp signed an emergency order allowing the seizure of private guns, ammunition, explosives and property the National Guard may need to respond to Hurricane Irma.

Couple-three questions here:
1) Why would the Guard need any privately-owned weapons in an emergency? Don’t they have enough, and if not, why not?
2) What happens if people are unable to protect their houses and such from looters and other associated filth? (“Bend over and spread ’em” is the likely government response.)
3) How would the government know where to get said weapons?

Oh, lookee here. From Wikipedia:

The U.S. Virgin Islands have a stringent and restrictive licensing process to purchase or carry a firearm. A person must be 21 to get a non-carry weapons license, along with several other requirements. Applicants must pay $75 licensing fee, submit a signed application, be fingerprinted and photographed, and be of good moral character. That process is just for a permit to purchase firearms to store in a residence or business, and not for a concealed carry permit. There are six types of licenses:

  • Blue, Business Protection
  • Yellow, Home protection and handguns only
  • Gray, farming and long guns only
  • White, all active law enforcement
  • Pink, current and retired law enforcement, personal protection, and special circumstances
  • Green, target shooting, sports use and home protection

To qualify [for any of the above] you must belong to a gun club. To acquire a concealed carry permit, or “Pink” permit, a person must meet a specific set of criteria. To apply, you must either be a government employee, valuable goods carrier, firearms manufacturer, or be a bona fide resident or business person of the islands. You must prove you have good reason to fear death or great injury to your person or property and present at least two affidavits from credible persons who attest to that need. Due to this process, in most cases concealed carry permit applications are denied for normal resident applicants unless in grave circumstances.

The next time somebody of your acquaintance suggests that guns be licensed, or that only cops should carry guns… well, you know the rest. Wear Army boots.


Afterthought: here is yet another reason, as if any were needed, that everyone should own at least one gun about which government knows nothing.

Not Vulnerable Enough

Let’s suppose for a moment that you find yourself in a perilous situation, and have to call 911 — only the responding officer deduces from your accent that you’re Black, and therefore not worthy of immediate assistance. Imagine the furor if this was made public.

Now try this, from Britishland (RCOB* Alert):

“Increasingly, as we go forward we will look at things like trying to assess people and crime on the sort of threat, the harm, the risk and people’s vulnerability.

“It’s absolutely feasible that if my neighbour is a vulnerable elderly person who has experienced a particular type of crime, that she gets a face-to-face service that I don’t get. So we triage things, we assess people’s vulnerability.

“Vulnerability can manifest itself in a number of ways – people with learning difficulties, a whole range of things, some people for whom English isn’t a first language.

“That’s about how we get those resources focused on the things you can make a difference with. But also, as demand grows, you have to have a way of controlling and triaging.”

Now as any fule kno, what this Plod is really saying is, “If you don’t increase our budget, we’re going to have to look at foolishness such as this, because crime is on the increase and we’re stuck with the same resources.”

Nevertheless, do you think for a moment that he’d keep his job if this were the U.S., and he’d made comments similar to those with which I opened this post, just to argue for a bigger budget?

Yet he’s not going to get fired, because I’ll bet that a whole bunch of people over here are just going to nod, and say, “Well, we’ll just have to accept this.”


*For my New Readers, “RCOB” stands for “Red Curtain Of Blood”, such as that which comes over your eyes when you read foolishness like the above.

Screwing Americans

Back when I still cared about this kind of thing, I was browsing through the job boards just to see what was going on out there in my specific field of work — you know, just to keep abreast of things — when I saw a want ad for my job.

Upon further investigation, it wasn’t for my actual job — the advertiser was a different company from mine — but it could have been:

Database management and report design / writing, competent user of XYZ software, able to make effective management presentations up to Board level, five years experience minimum, seven years industry experience.

That, in essence, was what I’d been doing for about the past ten years. All well and good. Then came the kicker:

Salary: $45,000

Considering that I was on a salary in excess of $95,000 at the time, and I knew at least half a dozen other guys earning about what I did (small industry, we all knew each other), this ad made no sense. Either they were going to get a glorified data entry clerk who couldn’t really do anything close to what the job needed, or the job had been filled already — inside job, nepotism, whatever — and the company was just going through the motions to satisfy some government hiring regulation.

The point was that I knew how much experience and know-how was necessary to do that job properly — I had it, and so did my contemporaries — so I was curious to see how the thing would shake out.

Some time later (maybe even a year, I don’t remember) I called a friend who was a corporate head-hunter, and asked him to find out what had transpired. He did, and found out two things: the company hadn’t found anyone to do the job for that compensation (as I suspected they wouldn’t), so after nine months they’d gone overseas and hired not one but two people from India or Sri Lanka to fill the position.

Now I know what some people are going to say: the position was paying far more than the job was worth, so that’s why the company ended up getting cheaper labor. But that wasn’t the case at all: for someone to have acquired the experience necessary, they would have had to have spent a minimum of two years in a junior- to midlevel management position in the industry, and then at least three years experience with complex database management, and another year or two on the report design aspect of it. (This was a very complex skill set to have to acquire, and it wasn’t taught in business schools either, so there was no shortcut.) Considering that the new hires were in their mid-twenties, there was no possible way that they could have filled the experience/expertise requirements of the job.

My head-hunter friend told me that what the company had essentially done was lie on the H-1B visa applications, or at least show that they hadn’t been able to fill the position domestically, in order to get the visas cleared. In essence, the company had hired two trainees for the job, thinking that they’d be able to get at least one of them to perform the function, eventually.

Fast forward about four years. I’d since left my job and hung up my shingle as a consultant in my field, with a reputation as a guy who could fix things and get programs to work as required. So one day my head-hunter buddy calls me up and asks me if I’d be interested in taking on a yearlong project with a company who’d run into serious trouble with their management information systems. They’d gone to the usual suspects (Andersen, PWC, McKinsey, Bain etc.) and were told that the fix would take over two years and well over two million dollars to fix. The company had neither the time nor the money to do that, but they were being crippled by the broken system. Rock, meet hard place.

Well, you can guess who the company was: the cheapskates who’d gone H-1B rather than hire someone like myself to run their program. The H-1Bs themselves had long since disappeared (either fired, or quit after no doubt seeing what was coming), leaving behind a poor guy promoted from within, and who through no fault of his own was completely out of his depth.

Of course, I went over to see the company to scope the project to see if what the Big Dogs told them was true; and it was, except for the cost and the time. You see, most consultancies don’t know shit about specific industries, and their people (freshly-minted MBAs from Harvard, Cornell and Wharton) know absolutely nothing about anything — so they need training just to get them up to speed (paid by Client, duh), and only then can they begin to address the client’s problem — and it always takes longer than the period quoted. Always.

If you knew what to do, and I did, the fix was radical but simple (I told the company): it would take about nine months to a year, a new software package (which, ahem, I’d helped the software house to design) and would require firing the people responsible for the screwup.

So I got the gig, fixed the system, trained the guy and got the whole thing working in eight months, then arranged an “oversight” consultancy — part-time hours, full-time pay for another year — to monitor the operation and ensure that the system would keep working.

I have no idea what the screwup cost the company in total (lost productivity plus my repair job), but just going on my bill, they would have saved well over half a million dollars if they’d just hired someone like me at $100k at the beginning.

My advice to you all is that if you see a company doing stupid shit like thinking they can get ten dollars’ worth of output from a one-cent investment: short the stock.