Animal’s Daily China-US Relations News

Well, this is certainly unexpected (at least by me):  Trump Picks Iowa Governor Terry Branstad to be Ambassador to China.  Excerpt:

President-elect Donald Trump offered the post of U.S. ambassador to China to Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, a longtime friend of Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to three people close to the matter.

Branstad, a Republican, has accepted the offer, said the three people, who asked for anonymity.

The decision comes at a time of heightened tensions with China after Trump abandoned almost four decades of diplomatic protocol on Dec. 2 by speaking directly with the leader of Taiwan, which Beijing considers a rogue province. Trump has been critical of China’s currency policies and military build-up. He hasn’t named his choice for secretary of state, the top U.S. diplomatic post.

 Branstad arrived at Trump Tower in New York Tuesday afternoon with his wife, Chris, and his chief of staff, Michael Bousselot. A contingent of Trump’s top advisers gathered for the meeting with Branstad, including Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, chief strategist Steve Bannon, Donald Trump Jr. and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, according to two people familiar with the matter.

An hour after Branstad went up the elevator to Trump’s office, he re-emerged in the lobby, where he told reporters he wouldn’t comment on whether he was offered a post.

“I’m really excited about the quality of people that he’s attracting to the cabinet,” Branstad said. “I’m very proud to have supported Donald Trump for president.”

Still, we should expect the unexpected from a President-elect who named a retired Marine nicknamed “Mad Dog” to head up the Department of Defense.

Branstad is, also interestingly, the nation’s longest-serving Governor, not just now but ever.  He was Governor when I lived in Iowa, and I wandered out of my old home state in 1986.  He’s pretty popular in tall-corn country and is reported to be good friends with the Chinese President Xi Jinping; it doesn’t hurt that China is the #1 export market for Iowa’s corn-ucopia (ha!) of agricultural products.

The best way to stay on good terms with people is to do business with them.  The Donald seems to be announcing that America is open for business again.  There are plenty of worse messages he could send.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

Say hello to LaundryBot.  Excerpt:

Hate doing laundry? Shin Sakane has a solution.

The Japanese inventor received 6 billion yen ($53 million) from partners, including Panasonic Corp., last month to advance “the Laundroid” — a robot Sakane is developing to not only wash and dry garments, but also sort, fold and neatly arrange them. The refrigerator-size device could eventually fill the roles of washing machine, dryer and clothes drawer in people’s homes.

Sakane, whose earlier inventions include an anti-snoring device and golf clubs made of space materials, said the funding will bring closer his dream of liberating humanity from laundry. Among his inspirations for the project is the 1968 Stanley Kubrick sci-fi classic “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Laundroid was designed to resemble the mysterious objects in the film that brought technology to prehistoric humans, and the project was originally code-named “Monolith.”

“That’s what we had in-mind: a technology that never existed on Earth descends from space,” the 45-year-old Sakane, head of Seven Dreamers Laboratories Inc., said in an interview at his Tokyo office. “If we could automate this, the act of doing laundry will be gone for good.”

They’re talking roughly $2,700 for the first iteration of the LaundryBot.  I have a funny feeling they’ll get plenty of takers even at that price; hell, a decent quality washer/dryer can cost you half that anyway.  Why not spring the the whole works?  Toss your laundry in just before leaving for work in the morning, come home to your laundry washed, dried, folded and ready to put away.

Now, if only someone could make a ToastBot.

Animal’s Daily News

Excellent BearThanks again to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five linkery!

Programming note; well, really an observation.  Posting from Japan is weird.  I’m posting today’s Tuesday update on the normal Tuesday morning schedule, but here in Akishima it’s Tuesday evening.  I guess that gives me more time for daily news posts, but it feels odd somehow.

Here’s an interesting piece from National Review (who stubbornly insist on using the horrible, horrible Facebook comments plugin):  Anti-Gun Hysteria is Hazardous To Your Health.  Excerpt:

In July, the Crime Prevention Research Center published a comprehensive report on those Americans who hold concealed-carry permits. Among the findings, the Center notes that while the police are dramatically more law-abiding than the population as a whole (37 times more law-abiding), permit holders in Texas and Florida — two states that keep comprehensive records — were even more law-abiding than cops. Police officers committed crimes at a rate of 103 crimes per 100,000 officers. Permit holders in Texas and Florida committed crimes at a rate of 22.3 per 100,000.

But don’t tell the New York Times. Last week it editorialized against legislation that would require states to recognize lawful concealed carry permits issued in other states. In “support” of its argument, it tried to make the case that permit holders are a threat to public safety. Using research from the anti-gun Violence Policy Center, it ominously claims that “since 2007, concealed-carry permit holders have been responsible for at least 898 deaths not involving self-defense.” Follow the link to the study, called “Concealed Carry Killers,” and you’ll find that almost 300 of those 898 deaths were suicides.

Where does that number fit within the context of all gun deaths in the United States? During the same ten-year span when 898 deaths occurred, there were more than 100,000 homicides and more than 300,000 total gun deaths. Given that approximately 6 percent of the adult population has a concealed-carry permit, legally concealed weapons are involved in remarkably few deaths.

gun controlTake note of that first paragraph:  In Florida and Texas, at least, you’re safer standing next to a concealed-carry permit holder than you are standing next to a cop.

There’s a lot of angsting right now over mass shooter situations, although those incidents are as rare as they are ballyhooed by the legacy media; you’re more likely to be killed by lightning than by a mass shooter, be it a jihadi or the more a-religious nutcase type.  But when the predictables in the media start talking about how to react to a mass shooter – “run, hide, fight” is the current mantra – “shoot back” is never on the menu.

Now, I respect the rights of private property owners.  Our Aurora, CO (name ring a bell?) theater owners almost all have anti-CCW signs posted.  Until the Aurora theater shootings, I respected the wishes of the theater owners and left my Glock 36 at home.

No longer.  Now I carry in the theater, signs be damned; if I’m discovered all the theater personnel can do is ask me to leave, and I will quietly and politely do so.

gun control theoryBut if another Joker-styled nutcase bursts in, I’d rather be armed than not.  When I mentioned that to a friend some time back, he replied “but then there will be two people shooting.  Aren’t you worried that will make things worse?”

“That nutcase (whose name I won’t mention) was walking calmly around shooting helpless people.  How the fuck can things get any worse than that?”

My friend had no answer.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Japan remains an interesting place to spend a few days.

This weekend just past, I roamed the outskirts of the Tokyo area, visiting the lovely Mount Takao on Saturday and wandering down to Shinjuku and Koenji.  One of my best friends has a nephew who operates the Fatz burger joint in Koenji; he claims to serve the best American-style burger in Tokyo (albeit in more typically Japanese-sized portions) and after sampling his works, I see no reason to disabuse him of that notion.  Photos follow.

Mount Takao:

Next is Shinjuku and Koenji, including Shinjuku’s wonderful Golden Gai; the tight-packed alleys are full of little bars, clubs and eaterys.  Everything was closed while I was there, but I’d love to visit on a Friday or Saturday night.

Rule Five Time Travel Friday

2016_12_02_rule-five-friday-1Want to travel back in time?  You might be able to – but not in your own timeline.  Excerpt:

If there really are multiple, interacting universes, then it would be possible for time travellers to visit Earth, and every imaginable scenario would be played out in a parallel universe at some point.

The team’s ‘Many Interacting Worlds Theory’ provides a whole new perspective on the ideas underpinning quantum theory, a notoriously complex strand of physics.

2016_12_02_rule-five-friday-2Professor Wiseman said: “The idea of parallel universes in quantum mechanics has been around since 1957.

“In the well-known ‘Many-Worlds Interpretation’, each universe branches into a bunch of new universes every time a quantum measurement is made.

“All possibilities are therefore realised – in some universes the dinosaur-killing asteroid missed Earth. In others, Australia was colonised by the Portuguese.

“But critics question the reality of these other universes, since they do not influence our universe at all.

2016_12_02_rule-five-friday-3“On this score, our ‘Many Interacting Worlds’ approach is completely different, as its name implies.”

Translating theory into engineering, now that’s the fly in the ointment.  But what if you could make it work?  You could go back in time with no worries about the butterfly effect; the bug you step on in the Oligocene would only affect the future in some other parallel universe, not ours.

So the possibility for a great business opportunity exists – safaris.  Wealthy tyros would pay serious bucks to go back and hunt a bull T-rex, or a Smilodon, or an Imperial Mammoth.  You could go farther 2016_12_02_rule-five-friday-4afield and offer trips to the Permian to hunt a trophy Gorgonopsid, or a Dimetrodon.

And how about the fishing?  Imagine a great deep-sea adventure fishing for Megalodon.  (You’re gonna need a bigger boat.)

We certainly won’t see this in my lifetime; hell, certainly not in my grandkid’s lifetimes.  But it’s a fun little imagination exercise; see Clifford Slimak’s novel Mastodonia for an example.  Fun stuff.

2016_12_02_rule-five-friday-5

Animal’s Daily News

Burgers.
Burgers.

Predictable outcomes are predictable.  This just in from Forbes.com:
Thanks To ‘Fight For $15’ Minimum Wage, McDonald’s Unveils Job-Replacing Self-Service Kiosks Nationwide.  Excerpt:

As the labor union-backed Fight for $15 begins yet another nationwide strike on November 29, I have a simple message for the protest organizers and the reporters covering them: I told you so.

It brings me no joy to write these words. The push for a $15 starter wage has negatively impacted the career prospects of employees who were just getting started in the workforce while extinguishing the businesses that employed them. I wish it were not so. But it’s important to document these consequences, lest policymakers elsewhere decide that the $15 movement is worth embracing.

As the labor union-backed Fight for $15 begins yet another nationwide strike on November 29, I have a simple message for the protest organizers and the reporters covering them: I told you so.

It brings me no joy to write these words. The push for a $15 starter wage has negatively impacted the career prospects of employees who were just getting started in the workforce while extinguishing the businesses that employed them. I wish it were not so. But it’s important to document these consequences, lest policymakers elsewhere decide that the $15 movement is worth embracing.

Let’s start with automation. In 2013, when the Fight for $15 was still in its growth stage, I and others warned that union demands for a much higher minimum wage would force businesses with small profit margins to replace full-service employees with costly investments in self-service alternatives. At the time, labor groups accused business owners of crying wolf. It turns out the wolf was real.

Earlier this month, McDonald’s announced the nationwide roll-out of touchscreen self-service kiosks. In a video the company released to showcase the new customer experience, it’s striking to see employees who once would have managed a cash register now reduced to monitoring a customer’s choices at an iPad-style kiosk.

Fishing Trip BearNow, add to the mix the much-touted hamburger making machines, and The Rise Of The Burger Machines is nearly complete; all we need is a sort of Burger Skynet to run the rest of the store, and we can eliminate human employees from the equation altogether.

But seriously, folks; these two key pieces of automation could very possibly reduce the staffing requirements of a fast-food burger joint from, say, ten – to one.  Maybe two.  You just need someone to address complaints and clear jams in the burger machine.

Now, it’s common to attribute this to the increases in minimum wages, and it’s certain that these prohibitions on unskilled labor have accelerated the rise of this tech.  But this is something that probably would have happened eventually in any case; it’s just a piece of the increasing trend towards reducing costs by automation.

But that doesn’t make the ever-increasing demands of the minimum wage any less silly.  The minimum wage law is and always has been zero.  These laws just force more and more low- and un-skilled workers to that level.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

Here’s a fun little tidbit from good old Californey, where the inhabitants continue to prove that state to be too small for a nation but too large for an insane asylum; now the Golden State proposes to regulate cow farts.

Yes, really.  Excerpt:

The nation’s leading agricultural state is now targeting greenhouse gases produced by dairy cows and other livestock.

Despite strong opposition from farmers, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation in September that for the first time regulates heat-trapping gases from livestock operations and landfills.

Cattle and other farm animals are major sources of methane, a greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide as a heat-trapping gas. Methane is released when they belch, pass gas and make manure.

“If we can reduce emissions of methane, we can really help to slow global warming,” said Ryan McCarthy, a science adviser for the California Air Resources Board, which is drawing up rules to implement the new law.

Livestock are responsible for 14.5 percent of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, with beef and dairy production accounting for the bulk of it, according to a 2013 United Nations report.

Now, this is going to put a lot of marginal family farms out of business, but in all candor I’m not too worried about that in general; the family farm is a dying business model in any case.  I come from a long line of farmers, but it irritates me to see the “family farm” held up as though it was some kind of holy calling; it’s just a business, and big corporate farms produce a wide range of crops at lower prices than family farms.

Derp BearDairy farms, however, are an exception; there are plenty of small dairy farms that are making a pretty good go of it.   The lunatics in charge of the California asylum will shut some of them down and drive others away, and all to attenuate an emission that probably doesn’t measure up to the flatulence of the millions of bison that once roamed the Great Plains while causing no noticeable environmental catastrophe.

In the wake of The Donald’s electoral victory, some sore losers in California are making noises about seceding.  Really, True Believers – would you miss them?

Animal’s Daily Japan Arrival News

Office-Bear_MaulThanks once again to Pirates Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

Once again I find Japan right where I left it.  This gig will have me working in Tokyo’s Nishiginza district, only a short walk from the famed Ginza shopping area and a few blocks from Tokyo harbor.  Should be an interesting time; I have two and a half (my return flight departs on a Saturday evening) to explore one of the world’s most populous cities and its surrounding areas.  Watch this space for photos and commentary.

Meanwhile, under the “predictable input from the usual idiots” category, we have this (emphasis added by me):  Was it terror? Somali refugee student shot dead after mowing down Ohio State classmates with his car and slashing them with a butcher’s knife – injuring eleven.  Excerpt:

Somali refugee Abdul Razak Ali Artan has been named as the assailant in a rampage at the Ohio State University on Monday, that left eleven people injured.

Artan is reportedly a Somali refugee who fled his home country in 2007, moving first to Pakistan with his family before coming to America in 2014 and gaining legal permanent resident status. His age has not been confirmed, but it has been reported by various outlets as 18 and 20.

While the motive for the attack is still under investigation, there are questions about whether Artan may have carried it out in jihad, since he is Muslim. Somalia has become a haven for terror groups – including ISIS – since civil war broke out in the 1990s. And Columbus has one of the largest contingents of Somali refugees in the U.S.

But here’s the real insight from the would-be killer himself:

In the piece, he said that he struggled to find a private place to pray on campus, after transferring from Columbus State which had such facilities.

‘This place is huge, and I don’t even know where to pray. I wanted to pray in the open, but I was kind of scared with everything going on in the media. 

‘I’m a Muslim, it’s not what the media portrays me to be. If people look at me, a Muslim praying, I don’t know what they’re going to think, what’s going to happen,’ Artan said.

Read that over carefully, then think about it for a few.  Go ahead – I’ll wait right here.

triple-facepalmReady?  Let’s summarize his statement.  This jackass decides that he’s oppressed for being a Muslim because people who see him praying might think he’s a dangerous jihadi – so he reacts by becoming a dangerous jihadi.

Meanwhile, some of the usual useful idiots in the gun-control movement just couldn’t wait to try to weave a narrative about guns into an incident carried out with an automobile and a knife.

You really just can’t make this stuff up.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Just a few quick tidbits in the midst of a long overseas flight from Denver to Tokyo (got to love that new United nonstop service!)

Fidel Castro is dead.  They say when someone dies you should say something good about them.  In this case, I’ll say “he’s dead.  Good.”  Seriously, the man was a brutal dictator who kept his country effectively enslaved for decades, and was responsible for the deaths of thousands.  I wish I could believe in a Hell, so I could imagine him in it.

Speaking of today’s destination, Japan and China are butting heads in the Miyako Strait.  Hopefully that doesn’t blow up while I’m mooching around Tokyo.

Sore Losers Can’t Accept Election Results.  There’s always at least one.  However, the headline for this linked story is misleading; it’s Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s campaign calling for recounts, not that of Her Imperial Majesty.  The Dowager Empress’s people will, however, “participate.”  Prediction:  Nothing will come of this.

Speaking of which, Michigan’s election results are final, giving The Donald 306 electoral votes.  It’s been over, but now it’s even more over.

Oh, and the outgoing Obama Administration has stated that the results were on the up and up, for what it’s worth.

Incidentally, wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall in the Imperial Mansion these days, as the Obama team prepares for the influx of The Donald and his folks?  I bet that makes for some interesting conversations.

Japan beckons, True Believers.  I’ll weigh in from the other side.

japanese-girl-kimono-photo

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