August Fundraiser

As threatened a couple of weeks ago, August marks the month wherein I call for financial support from you, O My Loyal Readers, so that I may keep this motley collection of foul-tempered rants, occasional essays, reviews of books and movies, gratuitous pictures of beautiful guns, cars and women, and in general all the things that give pleasure to men (and on occasion, to my long-suffering Lady Readers as well).  Also, so that I can actually try to  survive Bidenflation and the resulting economic collapse without having to resort to the old-fashioned ways of keeping New Wife and myself alive.

After getting input from everyone, I decided not to go with a begging site e.g. GoFundMe, but rather just setting up sundry means of donations via VenMo and Zelle, as well as the usual PayPal and Patreon methods (the latter for those who would prefer to set up a monthly donation, for cash flow purposes).  Of course, those who wish may also go the paper route via the Sooper-Seekrit mailing address.  Details of all the above are as follows:

Venmo details:  @Kim-DuToit-2
Zelle:  [email protected]
PayPal:  [email protected]
Patreon:  kimdutoit

…and of course, the Sooper-Seekrit mailing address for those of the Paper Persuasion:

6009 W. Parker Rd
Ste 149-141
Plano TX 75093

Venmo and Zelle are two new streams for me, and I have tested them so they should work.

And as a reminder / nag, this annoying graphic will appear inside the top post twice a week or so:

However, to assuage the annoyance, there will also be a pic of this nature right underneath it:



…etc.  You get my drift.

Finally:  at the end of August, the Top 3 (plus ties) donations will be entered into a Secret Drawing for one of my treasured iron-sighted rifles — which, lest we forget, I can no longer shoot because Old Busted Eyes.  The rifles will be legal in all 50 states, so no worries there.

Thank you all for your support.

At What Price?

A little while ago I ordered something from Jeff Bezos, and was astonished to see that a “next day” delivery option was available;  this, mind you, for what I would consider a non-emergency item.  (On checking, it was for this TV series.)

Given how much work this entails for the actual workers at Amazon’s fulfillment center, it seemed a bit much.  So I’m not surprised whenever I see Amazon’s employees kicking back at the working conditions there, with timed (or no) bathroom breaks, performance metrics that would make an 18th-century textile company boss blush, and pay which quite frankly makes even a committed capitalist like myself feel embarrassed.

Small wonder that Bezos has fought tooth and nail against the unionization of his workforce.  And yet, even I, as (once again) a committed capitalist, can see that it’s precisely these kind of working conditions that caused the formation of workers’ unions in the first place.

And then the unions go overboard like those in the U.K., and we all hates on them unions… with good reason.

Here’s my solution to the Amazon situation.  I have no problem with Bezos offering rapid delivery;  but such deliveries should incur something like a 25% surcharge — with said surcharge amount being added in toto  to the paycheck of the worker who actually filled the order (and yes:  Amazon can tell which worker filled which order).

That has as much likelihood of happening as Biden’s socialists lowering income taxes, of course, because someone has to pay for Jeff’s toys.

Do not take this for an uncharacteristic (for me) shot at wealthy people:  I have no problem with people building wealth and spending money.

But I do object to the ill-treatment of workers at the bottom of the pyramid, all in the name of “customer satisfaction”.

Not Durable, Evergreen

I have often counseled young men to take up a trade before (or, depending on the lad, instead of) going off to college.  This is as much for some kind of income stability, of course, as it is for them to learn the value and reward of hard physical work — which every man should experience.

So when I saw this link about “Durable Trades” at Insty’s, I hurried over to see what it was all about.  And was a little disappointed.

Defining “durable” has not been easy. I wanted to know which types of businesses have been the least affected by external factors throughout history, place, governments, economic cycles, invention, and social upheaval. Which trades have endured for centuries and still exist today? Which trades are the most family-centric? And, of course, which trades do all this and still provide a living? Conversely, which trades are overly dependent on brittle systems and therefore not likely to withstand economic, societal and technological upheaval?

Granted, in a time of economic collapse or a return to Middle Ages-type living, the demand for “Instagram influencers” may not be as important as they are today (quit that cheering).  But at the same time, I have to question some of his trades because while they may have been durable in the past — and to be fair, the author doesn’t attempt to forecast anything — I’m not so sure what the future holds for them.  Here are his top trades in order (and go back to the link to see his methodology):

Shepherd (rancher, livestock farmer, dairyman)
Gardener (arborist, landscaper, florist)
Woodworker (cabinetmaker, “finish” carpenter)
Carpenter (a builder of structures)
Painter (siding contractor, wall covering specialist)
Cook (chef, caterer, restauranteur)
Brewer (winemaker, distiller)
Innkeeper (hotelier)

For some reason, I think that an electrician is a more durable trade than a gardener — it certainly will be, going forward — and likewise, a metalworker (blacksmith, welder, etc.) will have a better go than an innkeeper.  (I know:  there wasn’t much call for electricians back in the sixteenth century, but I’ll bet that metalworkers were in high demand.)  And since we’ve moved away from leeches and trepanning, I’m pretty sure that a doctor would have a more durable trade than a wall covering specialist.

There are basically four kinds of trade, methinks (and there is some overlap, certainly over time):

Primal:  builders (carpenters, bricklayers, stone masons, and ship builders), farmers (crops and livestock) fishermen, weavers / tailors, drovers (carts and wagons, and the trades which built them:  blacksmiths, cartwrights and wainwrights), soldiers, cooks / bakers and yes, midwives.  From the Year Dot until, say, the twelfth century, all these trades could garner for their practitioners a decent and even consistent living.

Mechanical:   engineers, electricians, [add:  plumbers, thankee ] coachbuilders, and the trades which are extensions of, or adjuncts to the earlier ones:  architects, doctors, brewers / distillers, and so on.

Services:  innkeepers, painters, gardeners, waiters, repair technicians (outside of the primal trades), prostitutes, police, teachers and the like.

Intellectual:  lawyers, software developers, accountants, entertainers (actors, musicians) and so on.  (Typically, these do not require any kind of manual labor.)

I take Groves’s point about “family-centric” trades being the most durable (cooking, building, teaching and birthing are the first that come to mind), but the extension of that thought is that as one moves further away from home and family needs, one eventually ends up with advertising account executives and marketing consultants, whose value to society is so close to zero as makes no difference.

Feel free to discuss this topic further in Comments

Note:  I’ve left “professional sportsmen” and careers like “modeling” off the list entirely.  Although these folks can earn a substantial amount, the actual number that do (as a percentage of all people who perform such activities) is tiny — far less than 1% — and the vast majority of professionals of this type earn very little.  Also, the working life of a professional sportsman is little more than a decade, less for a model, so it’s not a durable trade.  (I know, golf.  It’s not a sport, it’s a game, like snooker.)

Some may also raise an eyebrow at my inclusion of prostitution on this list, but it’s not only a durable trade (assuming you can survive it, e.g. Carroty Nell), but one you could theoretically practice for a very long time.  (Here’s a little personal anecdote.  In my three-and-a-half years as an undergraduate here in Texas, I knew personally about half a dozen girls who had been on the game, and another few who were still doing it.  All were amazingly attractive, by the way.)

Interesting Situation

Last weekend, Lewis Hamilton won the Turkish Grand Prix and with it, the F1 Driver’s Championship for the seventh (!!!!) time, tying the venerated-but-comatose Michael Schumacher for the all-time record.  Much has been said about the little twerp, especially by me, for the fact that he’s driving a  car (factory Mercedes-AMG) which is hugely superior to most if not all of the other cars in Formula 1, and to a certain degree this is true. (Mercedes had actually clinched the F1 Team Championship title the race before.)

However:  in Istanbul on Sunday, conditions were terrible.  It had rained all night before, and to add to the drivers’ woes, the track had only been resurfaced a couple weeks prior, which meant that even dry it would have been slippery;  add metric tons of water to the mix, and you get mayhem.  Which is pretty much what happened.  Nobody cared to race on slicks, when meant “wet” or “intermediate” tires were the order of the day, and all during the race, cars were sliding around and off the track like they were being driven by five-year-old boys and not by arguably the best drivers in the world.  Even worse was that because the tires were wet-weather ones, they degraded very quickly when the track did dry out a bit.  Ordinarily under those circumstances, you’re lucky to get ten to fifteen laps before the tread wears to such an extent that you’re in essence racing on slicks, on a soaking-wet track.  This was not the case in Istanbul, because it drizzled on and off during the entire race, which meant that the alternate wet- and dry track gave the intermediate tires a few more laps’ life, to maybe twenty laps.

Hamilton changed off the wet tires on lap 8 — and then drove the last fifty laps on the same tires, winning by a huge margin because all the other drivers had to make two and sometimes three pit stops to change theirs.  It was a drive of unbelievable virtuosity, and as much as I personally detest the little asshole, it was a drive worthy of a champion, the win and therefore the title richly deserved.  And by the way, Valttieri Bottas (the other Mercedes driver), driving the same machinery, finished somewhere like fifteenth.  So much for “equipment superiority”.

I told you all that so I could tell you this.

Hamiton’s seventh driver’s title has resulted in calls for him to be given a knighthood by the Queen — she doesn’t make the decision, by the way, some government flunkey or other does, I can’t be bothered to look it up as like most Americans I think the whole title thing is silly.  Regardless, other sportsmen have been knighted before for their sporting success (F1’s Jackie Stewart and Stirling Moss, cricketer Ian Botham — more on him in another post), so it’s not an unusual thing for a sportsman to be thus recognized.

However, this is Lewis Hamilton we’re talking about, so of course there’s going to be a turd in the punchbowl.  And this is it:  many years ago, Lewis left the U.K. and took up residence in Monaco to escape Her Majesty’s onerous taxation (once again, not the old girl’s fault;  she doesn’t makes the laws, she just signs the papers).

To the ever-censorious British public, who think that leaving Britain for this reason equates to near-criminal behavior, this is causing some problems, conceptually.  On the one hand, he’s brilliant and deserves some social recognition, but on the other, he’s a reprehensible tax-dodger who’s being rewarded by the Crown despite his “disloyalty”.

Needless to say, I think the wealth-envious Brits are total idiots when it comes to this nonsense:  taxes are an evil, evil form of theft:  one should pay only as much as the law mandates, and not one fucking penny more.  Avoiding paying taxes (as opposed to evading, or not paying any) is one’s fiscal responsibility, and tax loopholes (created, of course, by loathsome politicians) should be used to the utmost advantage without actually breaking the law.  Tax accountants and -lawyers exist to know about and bring such loopholes (okay, exceptions) to their clients’ attention and save them money.  That’s the beginning and the end of what I call the commonsense approach to paying taxes — but that’s not what the vast British (and huge swathes of the U.S.) public believes.

Thus, the quandary the Brits find themselves in is an exquisite one, as I stated above.  And I find myself curiously conflicted:  on the one hand I think Hamilton’s achievement is incredible, and worthy of recognition;  but on the other, while the tax haven thing is irrelevant, the thought of this woke little BLM-supporting twerp becoming “Sir Lewis” sticks in my craw like a chicken bone.