Animal’s Daily Western Pacific News

The United States is fortunate to have a staunch ally in the western Pacific, even if it is one that my late father and his fellow WW2 veterans would have found bemusing:  Japan.  And now Japan, reacting to a resurgent China and an increasingly belligerent Russia, is dialing their military in.  Excerpt:

In January 9, 2007, JSDF activities abroad was revised from “miscellaneous regulations” to “basic duties” fundamentally changing the nature of the JSDF because its activities are no longer solely defensive. JMSDF ships can be dispatched worldwide such as in activities against pirates. The JSDF’s first postwar overseas base was established in Djibouti, Somalia in 2010.

Japan and the United States conducted their biggest military exercise in the biennial Keen Sword from 29 October to 2 November 2018 including a total of 57,000 sailors, marines and airmen. Some 47,000 service members were from the JSDF and 10,000 from the U.S. Armed Forces. A naval supply ship and frigate of the Royal Canadian Navy also participated in simulations of air combat, ballistic missile defense and amphibious landings.

In 2004, at the behest of the United States, the Japanese government ordered a deployment of troops to Iraq in order to assist the U.S.-led Reconstruction of Iraq. This controversial deployment marked a significant turning point as the first time since the end of World War II that Japan had sent troops abroad except for a few minor UN peacekeeping deployments. Public opinion was sharply divided

In December 2018, the Japanese government approved an initial budget plan for fiscal 2019 that includes a general account exceeding 100 trillion yen ($900 billion) and spending on tax-hike preparations.

There is no secret about what motivates Japanese policy to turn its back on the postwar professions of neutrality and rejection of any military establishment. It is the growing perceived threat from Communist China.

Nations do not have permanent friends, only permanent interests; it’s important to note that nations also do not have permanent enemies.  From 1941 to 1945 Japan was clearly and unambiguously an enemy of the United States, but now they are our best and most reliable ally in the Pacific, save perhaps Australia; and there is still a fair amount of bad blood between Japan and revanchist China.

It’s interesting to see this happening.  Post-WW2 Japan, like post-WW2 Germany, is a largely pacifist nation.  But in the case of Japan, certain elements (including PM Abe) are remembering that Japan once had a proud martial tradition which predates the Second World War by quite a ways (just ask Russian Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky.)  And when it comes to developing high-tech weapons for an advanced, 21st-century military that will be more rapier than club – well, I suspect that Japan may well show the U.S. a thing or two.

Japan’s SDF.

Mrs. A and I have traveled in Japan quite a bit, for business and pleasure.  We love the Land of the Rising Sun, and would like to see them developing the means to protect their way of life, as is the right of any sovereign nation.

The next decade or so could see the western Pacific becoming a very interesting place.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks once again to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links – and be sure to read Part 5 of my revolver history over at Glibertarians.

Meanwhile, in Ireland, some nut decided to self-treat his back pain by injecting his own semen intravenously.  Yes, really.  Excerpts, with my comments:

In a new case study, Irish doctors report the baffling case of a 33-year-old man who injected his own semen intravenously for a year and a half, a self-developed “cure” intended to treat his chronic back pain. It does not appear to have worked.

No shit.

After reportedly injecting semen into his arm every month for 18 months, the man finally sought medical attention—but not for his arm. The patient instead complained of “severe, sudden onset lower pack pain,” having lifted a “heavy steel object” three days beforehand. During his checkup, the doctor found a patch of red swelling on his right forearm, after which the man admitted he’d been injecting himself with his own semen using a hypodermic needle he purchased online.

So, in what insane universe does this seem like a good idea?  Is there some weird cult, subculture or pseudo-scientific quackery that advocates injecting semen to deal with chronic pain?  In what way does this Irish moron think this is going to deal with what sounds like a pinched nerve, a pulled muscle or at worst maybe some minor damage to his spine?

This time around, he had injected three “doses” of semen, entering both his blood vessels and his muscles.

If he was shooting for intravenous and hit intramuscular, then that’s an added data point proving that he had no idea what the fuck he was doing.

While some might be tempted to speculate on his methods of obtaining and handling his own spooge prior to injection, I have to demur; that part of the process really doesn’t bear too much thinking about.  But I doubt concern over aseptic technique was one of the considerations, especially since he apparently repeatedly used a needle “he bought online.”

Apparently Spoogy McDipshit is going to survive this experience.  I suppose that’s a good thing, objectively, even though his history of decision making may well put him in candidacy for a Darwin Award at some point in the future.

Rule Five Shutdown “Crisis” Friday

National treasure John Stossel has some thoughts on the shutdown.  Excerpt:

This government shutdown is now longer than any in history. The media keep using the word “crisis.”

“Shutdown sows chaos, confusion and anxiety!” says The Washington Post. “Pain spreads widely.”

The New York Times headlined, it’s all “just too much!”

But wait. Looking around America, I see people going about their business — families eating in restaurants, employees going to work, children playing in playgrounds, etc. I have to ask: Where’s the crisis?

Pundits talk as if government is the most important part of America, but it isn’t.

We need some government, limited government. But most of life, the best of life, goes on without government, many of the best parts in spite of government.

Of course, the shutdown is a big deal to the 800,000 people who aren’t being paid. But they will get paid. Government workers always do — after shutdowns.

Columnist Paul Krugman calls this shutdown, “Trump’s big libertarian experiment.” But it’s not libertarian. Government’s excessive rules are still in effect, and eventually government workers will be paid for not working. That makes this a most un-libertarian experiment.

Here’s the kicker:

The Washington Post ran a front-page headline about farmers “reeling… because they aren’t receiving government support checks.”

But why do farmers even get “support checks”?

One justification is “saving family farms.” But the money goes to big farms.

Government doesn’t need to “guarantee the food supply,” another justification for subsidies. Most fruit and vegetable farmers get no subsidies, yet there are no shortages of peaches, plums, green beans, etc.

Disclaimer:  I come from a long line of farmers, on both sides of my family.  Both of my grandfathers farmed.  My Dad farmed for much of his life.  But there is a distinct tendency these days to treat “the family farm” as though it’s some holy calling.  It’s not.  It’s a business, like any other, and when new business models prove more efficient, old ones die out – and should be allowed to die out.

Speaking of dying out, is anyone in the Imperial City taking a good look at these “defunded” agencies that we seem to be doing quite well without?  There’s an opportunity here that nobody seems to be – heh – capitalizing on.  News stories on the fake crisis of the “shutdown” bemoan the “non-essential” government employees that have been furloughed.

Okay.  If they’re non-essential, then why the hell are we paying them with taxpayer dollars?

Barry Goldwater had it right when he said “I have no interest in making government more efficient, for I mean to make it smaller.”  But the two are not only not contradictory, they may actually be complimentary.  But I’ll settle for smaller, less intrusive government.  By hook or by crook.

We are seeing just a little bit of that right now.  More, I say!

Animal’s Daily Loony Shoes News

I like basics in footwear.  My favorite foot-housings are plain, unadorned Justin ropers; a pair costs a hundred bucks or so and can last twenty years.  The plain old roper boot (known as a Wellington in some parts) is 18th century technology, but there’s a good reason they haven’t changed much – and that’s because there’s no reason for them to change.  I put mine through rain, mud, snow, dust, rocks, all manner of stuff.   Clean them, apply some saddle soap and mink oil, and you’re good to go.  Simple and reliable.

That’s how footwear should be.  Simple and reliable.  So why do people have to complicate things?  Excerpt:

“Athletes will be able to update and evolve their shoes with upgrades, new features and services all through smartphone technology inside their footwear,” said Michael Donaghu, Nike’s vice president of innovation.

While Nike touts this shoe as a “mobile sports research lab on feet everywhere,” the shoe currently doesn’t provide any data, but the company said that will be coming.

“We are moving from fit to firmware,” said Donaghu.

Nike researchers said the Nike Adapt BB is the most tested shoe in its history. The company chose basketball as the first sport because of the demands basketball players put on their shoes with fast cuts and constant sprints.

Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum has been the guinea pig secretly testing the Adapt behind the scenes. Tatum will wear the Adapt BB in the shoe’s professional debut Wednesday night when the Celtics play the Toronto Raptors. The shoe is available to customers beginning Feb. 17.

These damn things start at $350.  I could get a fair-middling pair of blue stingray cowboy boots for that, suitable for a Saturday night on the town, and I can tell you I consider that money far better spent.

Here’s my concern with high-tech shoes:  Shoes go on your feet, which are generally used for walking, running, hopping, jumping and other things that involve impact.  Further, those shoes are probably going to get muddy, wet, dirty in all sorts of ways.  And, sooner or later, the fancy smart-phone-adjustable gizmos are going to break, leaving you stuck with a really expensive pair of sneakers that you can no longer lace up.

This is a high-tech solution looking for a problem.  A First World problem.

 

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Thanks once again to blogger pal Doug Hagin over at The Daley Gator for the linkback and the kudos!

When I was a little tad, one of the major figures in my young life was my maternal grandfather.  Grandpa Baty stood as a giant in my young world.  He was a farmer and a carpenter, a dedicated fisherman and keen observer of the outdoor world.  He was a man of another era, born in 1898, a young man during the first World War, the father of an expanding family during the Depression, a man with two sons and a son in law serving overseas in the Second.

Grandpa in 1915

Every morning of his adult life he rose, washed, shaved with a straight razor – when I was little I thought that was the coolest thing ever – and donned his Key Imperial hickory overalls to face the day.  In the bib pocket of those overalls he put his watch, an old Westclox Pocket Ben that he bought sometime during the Depression for the princely sum of three dollars.  The watch had a fob of knotted string that Grandpa had made himself.  One of my earliest memories of my grandfather was of sitting in his lap at the kitchen table, hearing that watch ticking loudly in his bib pocket.

Last spring, when my Dad passed away, my mother and sisters spent several days packing up stuff from Mom & Dad’s house, as Mom wasn’t going to be able to stay there alone.

1967: Grandpa, Mom, Dad and Yr. Obdt.

Part of that process was deciding which family heirlooms would go to which of us five kids.  I’m not much for stuff, but it had been a long-understood thing that I was to one day get my Grandpa’s watch.  For the many years since Grandpa died my Mom had kept it; it was her Daddy’s watch, after all.  But during this transition, Mom decided it was time to pass the watch on.  So I have it now.  For Christmas this year, my own dear Mrs. Animal gave me a beautiful walnut and brass stand to display the watch:

Grandpa’s Watch

It’s an old, outdated, cheap wind-up pocket watch with a knotted string fob, eighty or more years old.  If you wind it it only runs for an hour or so.  The crystal is cracked and missing a piece; the radium-painted hands no longer glow.  No pawnbroker would give you a penny for it.

It was my Grandpa’s watch.  Bill Gates couldn’t buy it from me.  Once in a while I take it off the stand, wind it up some, close my eyes and for a few moments just listen to that old watch ticking…

…and for a little while, I’m a little boy again, hanging out with my Grandpa.

Some things are beyond price.

Animal’s Daily Colorado Baker News

This is interesting news; an Imperial judge has ruled that Colorado baker Jack Phillips has standing to sue the State of Colorado for religious bias.  Excerpt:

Last week, a federal judge ruled that Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, could proceed to sue the state for anti-religious bias.

Phillips previously fought a case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court after the Colorado Civil Rights Commission cited him for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. The Supreme Court found that the commission discriminated against Phillips for his religious views.

On the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take Phillips’ appeal, Denver attorney Autumn Scardina requested Phillips to bake a cake that celebrated gender transition with a blue outside and an pink inside, the Western Journal reports. After Phillips refused, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission cited him again.

Despite Phillips winning his case at the Supreme Court, the state still decided to prosecute him, causing him to file a lawsuit.

And:

Campbell added that Phillips serves all customers regardless of their lifestyle but doesn’t create custom cakes that express messages that conflict with his religious beliefs.

You know, it’s illustrative to reverse the roles here.  Imagine an LGBTQX baker that refused to make a custom cake for a traditional heterosexual couple’s wedding.  Would the state of Colorado descend on them with the same fury they have visited on Phillips? Of course not!  And in that case, as opposed to Mr. Phillips’ case, the state would be correct; it is a clear violation of freedom of association to force a private business to enter into an agreement that violates their personal sense of ethics.

It doesn’t matter what their ethics system is based on:  The Bible, the Kama Sutra, the Books of Bokonon or the rantings of a street-corner drunk.  The state only has two legitimate purposes:  To protect the safety and the liberty of the citizen.  In this case, nobody’s safety or liberty was threatened by being denied a custom cake – except, of course, the liberty of Mr. Phillips, in the sense that the state attempted to deny him freedom of association.

“But Animal,” you might ask, “where do we draw the line?  Should a baker be allowed to refuse to provide a custom cake to a mixed-race couple, because he’s a (actual, as opposed to the usual, modern definition) racist?

“Yes,” I would reply, “…because bigoted pricks still have freedom of association.  No victim, no crime.  I may join you in a protest in front of that guy’s shop to deprive the bigoted prick of customers, but I’ll never say he isn’t within his rights to refuse – and there are plenty more bakers in Denver.”

The entire discussion should stop right there.  No victim, no crime.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links – and check out my latest part in the “History of The Six-Gun” over at Glibertarians!  In fact, you should check the link to the right to read all my Glibertarians articles.

Meanwhile, California’s descent into lunacy continues apace.  Excerpt:

This is the state that told McDonalds they could no longer give away Happy Meal toys, all because a politician said it was hard for him to tell his children “No” as they drove by the Arches. (McDonalds instead charges for the toys, and they actually move MORE of them, while turning a larger profit as a result.) This is the state that recently criminalized restaurants serving drinks with plastic straws.

Now the next micro-managed policy is being forwarded. An assemblyman by the name of Phil Ting has latched on to the next big crisis to rock the Golden State, and we thank the stars he is there for the goodness of the residents.

All the elements are in place, from the fact-challenged statistics to the catchy rhyming hashtag!

And please, enough cannot be said about the shaming of the intern by posing on a stool as an anthropomorphic CVS receipt!

I have to agree on the mental and emotional abuse of the intern; that poor schmuck looks absolutely mortified.  And California residents will also feel mortified if this crap becomes law, another useless, feel-good measure intruding on how businesses conduct their affairs.  This will cost businesses more money to transition, once again jacking up the prices of consumer goods in the Golden Loony State, and making it harder on the margins for small businesses to compete.

Why the hell does anyone even attempt to do business in Californey any more, anyway?

Rule Five Political Hypocrite Friday

I know, I know – the title is a redundancy, but there you are.  A powerful – and by that, read “crooked as a snake with a busted back” – Chicago politician has not only been busted, but the notoriously anti-gun pol has been ordered to turn in his own personal collection of twenty-three guns.  Hah!  Excerpt, with my comments:

Alderman Ed Burke, 75, is charged with one count of attempted extortion for conveying to company executives in 2017 that they’d get the (city remodeling) permits only if they signed on as clients at Burke’s private property-tax law firm in Chicago, a 37-page complaint unsealed on Thursday says.

Apparently Alderman Burke was fond of the old-school “nice contracting business you’ve got there – shame if something were to… happen to it.”

For many Chicagoans suspicious of dealings behind closed doors at City Hall, Burke has personified the city’s machine politics for decades. Dozens of aldermen have entered U.S. District court on corruption charges, but Burke seemed too powerful, too wealthy and too savvy to land himself in the kind of legal trouble he now faces.

A career state police officer of my acquaintance some years back once told me that every criminal he ever encountered combined three character traits in various proportions:  Greedy, mean, and stupid.  Apparently the same applies to Chicago aldermen.

He sat in a packed Chicago federal courtroom Thursday afternoon with his arms folded, wearing his trademark pinstriped suit with a pocket square. Minutes later, he stood before U.S. Magistrate Sheila Finnegan, who asked if he understood the charge and that a conviction could carry a lengthy prison sentence.

“Yes, your honor,” he answered calmly.

And if there is any justice to be found in Cook County – a highly doubtful supposition – that prison sentence will indeed be lengthy.

Burke’s attorney, Charles Sklarsky, commented briefly to reporters as he left the courthouse with his client, saying he looked forward to proving Burke did nothing wrong.

“The transaction described in the complaint does not make out extortion or an attempt to extort,” he said.

Which statement is lawyerly hogwash.

Here’s the punch line:

Prosecutors told the judge that Burke, who has publicly opposed the National Rifle Association and proposed multiple gun-control ordinances over the years, had 23 guns at his offices alone. The judge said one condition of his continued release is that he gets rid of all his guns, including any at his home. He also was required to turn over his passport.

Haw!

If I had a dollar for every anti-gun politician who ascribed to the “laws for thee, but not for me” school of thought, I’d have… well, a whole bunch of dollars.  Like Dianne Feinstein and her politically-connected CCW permit, or Mike Bloomberg and his retinue of armed guards.

Of course this is Illinois, which state in general and Cook County in particular has a long history of political corruption, as the linked article points out:

Burke joins a long list of Illinois lawmakers charged criminally, including former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is serving a 14-year prison term on multiple federal corruption convictions.

Now hypocrisy isn’t against the law, for which fact many members of Congress no doubt breathe the occasional sigh of relief.  But there should damn well be some cost on Election Day; should be, but in all too many cases there isn’t, as much of the electorate apparently expects nothing else from pols of either party.

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