Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links, and to blogger pal Doug Hagin over at The Daley Gator for the linkback!  Also, a programming note; finally we have a start date for our project in (ugh) New Jersey, so the 21-24 of August we’ll put up some placeholder totty while Mrs. Animal and I are on the road.  Now, moving on…  National treasure Dr. Victor Davis Hanson asks us if our current climate could result in a second civil war.  Excerpt:

How, when, and why has the United States now arrived at the brink of a veritable civil war?

Almost every cultural and social institution — universities, the public schools, the NFL, the Oscars, the Tonys, the Grammys, late-night television, public restaurants, coffee shops, movies, TV, stand-up comedy — has been not just politicized but also weaponized.

Donald Trump’s election was not so much a catalyst for the divide as a manifestation and amplification of the existing schism.

We are now nearing a point comparable to 1860, and perhaps past 1968. Left–Right factionalism is increasingly fueled by geography — always history’s force multiplier of civil strife. Red and blue states ensure that locale magnifies differences that were mostly manageable during the administrations of Ford, Carter, Reagan, the Bushes, and Clinton.

What has caused the United States to split apart so rapidly?

We’ve discussed the possibility of civil war in these virtual pages before.  In fact one could argue that this possibility would be, in actuality, our first civil war; the 1861-1865 conflict was not a civil war as per the usual definition of two factions fighting for control of one nation, but rather a war of secession, with one faction trying to break away from the nation.  But that’s a discussion for another day.

I won’t present Dr. Hanson’s argument detail; True Believers are encouraged to go read the entire article, as I couldn’t possibly present the line of reasoning therein as well as Dr. Hanson does.  But it’s important to note, unlikely as I think open, armed conflict between left and right is, that if it were to happen it would not develop anything like the fascist “antifa” and other violent protest-class statists think it would.

The whole idea is still unlikely.  Most Americans are too complacent, too attached to their comforts, too soft and saggy to engage in an armed conflict of this sort.  But if things start to develop as some folks are predicting they will, it would behoove the statists to remember which side has all the guns.

Dr. Hanson concludes with a very good point:  Whether we all take a deep breath, and understand our present dangerous trajectory, will determine whether 2019 becomes 1861.

The social equivalent of “measure twice, cut once” applies here.

Rule Five Field-Dressing Whales Friday

On my last foray in Japan, I was able to partake in one of the Sendai area’s culinary specialties – whale.  Now I didn’t have to harvest and process the whale myself, and while eating whale was on my Japan bucket list, I have no interest in obtaining whale meat for myself.

However, I have had occasion over the last forty-odd years to field-dress a bunch of big-game critters, from javelina and antelope to elk.  It’s a messy process.  So, imagine doing the same with a whale.  Ugh.  Excerpt:

“First, we opened the whale to expose the lungs, intestines, and liver,” (marine biologist Aymara) Zegers explains. Fluids gushed from the incisions, forced out by the immense weight of overlying flesh. The team sampled the fluids, as well as tissues and stomach contents. “These can help determine the possible cause of death, for example as a result of heavy metals or microplastics or red tide organisms,” says Zegers.

The team also took skin for DNA testing and examined the whale’s ovaries. Although the ovaries were small, another indication that the whale was not yet fully mature, she was starting to ovulate—a sign that the young whale was moving into her reproductive phase and therefore of generally good health.

Now, with the necropsy complete, the defleshing team can get to work. Whale strandings are unpredictable events that cannot be programmed into schedules or budgets. Most of the workers are friends of the museum crew, volunteering time and muscle to this stinkiest of tasks in exchange for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The museum does not have access to flensing knives, the best tools for the job, so instead the volunteers use cheap kitchen knives that Zegers purchased on her way out of town.

The goal over the coming days is to remove as much of the flesh as possible. Then they will carve the skeleton into parcels of manageable size for transport to the museum. Some bones, such as the jawbones, parts of the skull, and the ribs, will separate from one another naturally. Other sections, such as the vertebrae, will be cut up by hand.

Have a read, examine the photos and video, and imagine that.  Now bear in mind that this is a reasonably fresh carcass; imagine one that has been fermenting a while, which I suppose cetacean biologists probably also have to deal with from time to time.  I imagine “ew” just doesn’t quite cover it.

I sure don’t envy these folks.

Now the whale I ate in Japan (OK, I didn’t eat the whole thing) was caught and processed by a “research” vessel that had, I feel certain, powered hoists, power tools and experienced staff.  Also the whales taken by Japanese fisheries are minkes, which are unlike blue whales in being smaller and much, much more plentiful.  I wouldn’t be have eaten blue whale; my personal preference is to eschew endangered species.  Minkes aren’t.  They are basically the cows of the sea.

But no matter what tools you have to hand, this is a huge, bloody job.  I admire the dedication of these cetacean biologists who undertook this enormous task.  My Stetson’s off to them.

Animal’s Daily Screwball News

In my tenure producing these virtual pages, I’ve often (and, I think, justifiably) referred to Senator Sanders as the loony old socialist from Vermont.  And his protege from New York City, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, can also be presumed to be a bit daffy, at least on economic matters.

But there’s a difference between loony and absolutely, barking batshit nuts.  This guy is the latter.  Excerpt:

A Green Party candidate for Congress in Ohio’s nail-biter contest who won nearly enough votes to throw the race into an automatic recount – gave a speech-slurred interview this year in which he couldn’t remember his own website address.

Joe Manchik also says he’s descended from aliens and hails from the town of Hell, Michigan.

In Tuesday’s closely watched special election, 1,127 Ohioans chose him over Republican Troy Balderson and Democrat Danny O’Connor.

Balderson’s apparent margin of victory was just 1,754 votes. Presuming Manchik’s base would otherwise have been O’Connor supporters, the result without him would have been a hair’s-width away from triggering an automatic recount.

And:

The native of Hell, Michigan says he traces his lineage back to a more far-off place.

‘My distant relatives originally came to planet Earth from a planet orbiting a star in the Pleiades star cluster located in the constellation of Taurus,’ Manchick writes, boasting that he was ‘voted “Class Musician” by my High School graduating class.’

He did not respond to a message left Wednesday at his personal phone number, which he posted on Facebook.

Wow.  Wow.

I suppose the GOP should be happy to take their spoilers where they find them; Pols are hardly the most stable folks in general, after all, a certain level of narcissism seems to be a minimum requirement.  But the candidates in both parties should be pretty embarrassed to have lost even a single vote to this nutbar.

Maybe, though, there’s a little campaign strategy possible here.  Finding candidates crazy enough to stand out like this guy does is a challenge, sure, especially given the amount of crazy to be found in both major parties.  But think about it – obviously, at least in swing-state Ohio, there are enough bugnuts voters to make this guy a spoiler.

Worth a try?

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Today let’s expand a little bit on yesterday’s post.  Why?  Because now there’s this asshole.  Excerpt:

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., is calling on other tech companies to ban more sites like InfoWars, and says the survival of American democracy depends on it.

“Infowars is the tip of a giant iceberg of hate and lies that uses sites like Facebook and YouTube to tear our nation apart. These companies must do more than take down one website. The survival of our democracy depends on it,” Murphy tweeted Monday.

In an earlier tweet, Murphy reasoned that private companies “shouldn’t knowingly spread lies and hate.”

To all of this, I can only add, “Fuck off, slaver.”  But actor James Woods may have had the best reply:

As I stated yesterday, Twitter, Apple, Derpbook and the like are private companies and may do as they please.  We may not like or agree with their decisions, but they may do as they please, and we may take our business elsewhere.

But assholes like Murphy never met a proposed regulation they didn’t like.   Anyone with enough smarts to pound sand can see where Murphy’s line of reasoning ends:  With the government stepping in, and if you think it won’t stop with kooks like Alex Jones, then you probably aren’t smart enough to pound sand.

As a Senator, Murphy should maintain a higher ground and keep his damn pie-hole shut.  “Survival of democracy,” my middle-aged ass.

Animal’s Daily Schedule Change News

OK, change in plans; we’ll be traveling next week, not this week.  So our totty dumps have been postponed, for now.  Up side; another week before we have to acclimate ourselves to (ugh) New Jersey.  Moving on, thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

Meanwhile, notorious kook and nutbar Alex Jones and his InfoWars horseshit is just getting banned all over the place.  Relevant opening lines from each story:

  1. Facebook unpublished four pages run by Jones for “repeated violations of community standards”, the company said on Monday. YouTube terminated Jones’s account over him repeatedly appearing in videos despite being subject to a 90-day ban from the website, and Spotify removed the entirety of one of Jones’s podcasts for “hate content”.
  2. Apple Inc, YouTube, Facebook Inc and Spotify all took down podcasts and channels from U.S. conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, saying on Monday that the Infowars author had broken community standards.  The sweeping moves are the broadest actions yet by internet companies that have suspended or removed some of the conspiracy-driven content.
  3. YouTube has removed Alex Jones’ page, following bans earlier Monday from Apple and Facebook.

Now, I honestly can’t say I give an ounce of rat’s pee about Alex Jones and his nitwittery.  But there are a couple of larger, competing principles at stake here.

First:  It’s important to note that all of the banning organizations are private companies.  There are no First Amendment issues here.  These are private companies, and can set guidelines/ban people as they see fit.

Second:  These organizations, yes, are showing a bias; they selectively crack down, not just on overt loonies like Jones, but more mainstream folks with conservative/libertarian thoughts.

Not every problem has a solution; in this case, I’d say not every problem has a government solution.  The only thing worse than companies like Facebook and YouTube cracking down on right-of-center speech on their servers, is the Imperial government stepping in to mandate what is and is not allowed online.  That way lays madness.

There are already alternatives opening up.  Let the market work.

Rule Five Economic Illiteracy Friday

Thanks once again to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

The daffy old socialist from Vermont is once more up to his usual shenanigans, this time proposing a universal health care scheme estimated to cost more than the entire Imperial budget.  Excerpt:

Not only has Sanders’ office not done its own serious accounting for the Senator’s signature policy objective, the maligned “Koch-funded” piece of propaganda…closely reflected other academic estimates of single payer’s price tag.  Indeed, in our post yesterday, we cited a study by the left-leaning Urban Institute that ran the math and came up with a nearly identical cost projection — via the Washington Post:

The government’s price tag would be astonishing. When Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) proposed a “Medicare for all” health plan in his presidential campaign, the nonpartisan Urban Institute figured that it would raise government spending by $32 trillion over 10 years, requiring a tax increase so huge that even the democratic socialist Mr. Sanders did not propose anything close to it.

When right-leaning and left-leaning think tanks produce strikingly similar calculations, perhaps we should sit up, pay attention, and take the results seriously. As for the “savings” canard, the Urban Institute analysis guesstimated that BernieCare would increase overall costs by more than $6 trillion over a decade, so how can Sanders claim that the Mercatus numbers point to a multi-trillion-dollar decrease?  Economist Brian Riedl of the Manhattan Institute, an expert on these matters, explains the context: “The claims of lower total economy-wide health savings only [materialize] because Blahous charitably accepted the Bernie assumption that we can lower all payment rates to Medicare payment rates,” Riedl tells me.

Here’s the conclusion:

When Blahous applied his institutional knowledge to the math, Sanders’ fanciful savings evaporated, and a higher tab of roughly $4 trillion over ten years emerged.  And notice — again — the relatively similar projections from both Blahous and the Urban Institute.  Riedl also notes that both entities’ analysis align closely with extrapolations from state-level estimates from Vermont and California, where single-payer schemes were abandoned by left-wing legislatures due to totally untenable costs.  We mentioned in our breakdown of Ocasio Cortez’s magical thinking that she did not propose anything even remotely approaching a plan to pay for all of this.

Well, there’s are a couple of obvious answers:

  1. We’ll just add a bunch of zeroes to the currency, and it will all work out.  (The Venezuela solution.)
  2. We’ll just borrow the money!  (The U.S. Congress solution.)

The usual answer to this involves the iron fist of government being employed to slash prices at gunpoint.  That results in fewer providers entering into medical career fields; it results in fewer facilities, it results in fewer companies manufacturing devices and drugs; it results in rationing.  See the formerly-Great Britian’s National Health Service for an example.

Our own Colorado voted down a single-payer solution.  California’s loony legislature abandoned a similar initiative after seeing the numbers.  Ditto for Vermont.  And, to be honest, the daffy old socialist from Vermont’s idea isn’t going anywhere at the Imperial level, either.  He will keep on campaigning for it; his self-awareness is so low that he’s handing the GOP a gift every time he speaks on the topic.

Not that that’s anything new for him.

Animal’s Daily Iran Currency Plunge News

This came in over the counter from a regular reader; it seems the threat of renewed sanctions is causing Iran’s currency to take a nose-dive.  Excerpt:

Iran’s currency traded at a fresh record-low of 119,000 to the dollar on Tuesday, a loss of nearly two-thirds of its value since the start of the year as US sanctions loom.

The Iranian rial has been crashing in recent days as the country anxiously awaits the reimposition of full US sanctions, starting on August 6.

It hit 100,000 to the dollar for the first time on Sunday and continued its decline, losing 18 percent of its value in less than two days.

On January 1, the dollar was worth 42,900 rials.

The government has been in crisis mode, replacing its central bank chief last week.

The central bank issued a statement on Monday, blaming the currency volatility on the “enemies’ conspiracy” and vowing fresh counter-measures “in the coming days”.

And it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of mullahs.

We could argue the sense of our foreign policy re: Iran all day, but that last statement is the one that caught my eye:  Iran is ‘vowing fresh countermeasures “in the coming days.”

Uh huh.

Iran’s nutbars-in-charge are always vowing fresh countermeasures.  They are a paranoid bunch, and rant as they will, they just plain have no cards to play here.  The U.S., largely in part to eased restrictions and (more so) technical advances on drilling, is far less dependent on Middle Eastern oil than we used to be.  I have a funny feeling President Trump’s response to Iranian threats is going to be on the order of “knock yourselves out, cupcakes.”

Personally I’ll settle for not sending them any more pallets of U.S. currency.

The Iranian theocracy is dying at any rate.  They have an increasingly restive younger generation, their birthrate is declining, and they have bad economic problems even without Western sanctions.  Theocracies are, happily, a governing model destined for history’s trash heap.  In the case of Iran, it can’t happen soon enough.

Deep thoughts, news of the day, totty and the Manly Arts.