Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to The Other McCain and Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!

This piece on 5 Major Paradigm Shifts The Wuhan Flu Crisis Has Revealed Americans Need came out late last week, but I didn’t have time to digest it until the weekend.  Here are the two things I found most interesting, with my comments:

When the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic arose and began spreading, for weeks the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) sought to cover it up, with deadly consequences for the world. When communist China was blamed, it not only refused to take responsibility, but slandered America for pointing the finger, to the point of calling the United States culpable as part of a disinformation campaign.

The CCP even threatened, via a state-backed publication, to cut off essential medical supplies should Americans continue speaking openly and honestly about the CCP’s role in creating the crisis. Then the CCP cynically tried to act as a savior for the crisis it created.

Every day this pandemic persists, and long after it is neutralized, we must remember the CCP bears by far the greatest responsibility of any party for this pandemic. If the CCP is not made to pay in a meaningful sense for the global catastrophe it caused, it will continue to act with impunity in its quest for hegemony, guaranteed.

This pandemic should represent the most tangible sign yet for all of America that we must decouple from communist China in every strategically significant sector. We cannot put our survival in the hands of a hostile adversary.

President Trump’s 2016 campaign was focused in large part on bringing our manufacturing sector back home.  While I’m not a fan of government at any level mandating how businesses run, I do see plenty of talk now about how big companies are re-thinking their supply chains in light of what is happening right now.  And, frankly, that’s the smart thing to do.  Keeping the supply chains closer would lessen the impact of the recurrence of this kind of event.

Then there’s this:

While a society-wide shutdown certainly represents the most extreme kind of financial shock, nevertheless, the devastating impact of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic accentuates the problem of our largely debt-based economy in both the public and private spheres.

At the governmental level, the fact that we are likely to completely blow out budgets that were already so bloated as to ensure interest payments on the national debt would soon swamp all spending besides entitlements shows the extent of our profligacy and misplaced confidence we can debt-finance the U.S. government forever. There appears to be zero national will to deal with runaway spending and the runaway deficits and debt it creates.

But the reality is that in the next major crisis, we will be in an even worse financial position. What will happen if multitrillion-dollar relief bills are simply not tenable at that point?

What the hell?  What do you mean at that point?  It’s not tenable now!

The national debt is already past the point of no return.  The Kung Flu pandemic has lots of folks out of work and many more worried about money, and I can understand the pressure pols feel to do something.  But what they are doing is throwing money at the problem, and the only thing that is staving off inflation is the Fed keeping interest rates at near zero, which discourages saving and drives people into equity markets, which looks good on paper but is likewise inflated beyond any actual worth…

A big part of our national economy is a house of cards.  We still have companies that make things, and we still have a fairly decent business environment; but if that house of cards collapses, it’s going to bring plenty of otherwise-sound enterprises with it.

If that happens, forget viral pandemics.  We’ll have bigger problems.

Rule Five Warmer Weather Friday

There has been a fair amount of talk about how warm weather will reduce the Kung Flu virus, as it routinely does the flu virii.  But Smithsonian’s Dr. Katherine Wu is skeptical.  Excerpt:

COVID-19 is not the flu. But amidst the ongoing pandemic, many people hold out hope that the two diseases have something crucial in common: a seasonality that will loosen the global grip of SARS-CoV-2 as the weather warms.

Many infectious diseases wax and wane with the changing months. Some, like flu, spike when the weather turns cold, while others, like cholera, thrive during warm, rainy summers. Whether such a pattern applies to SARS-CoV-2 is unclear. With spring just barely sprung, scientists haven’t had the time to suss out SARS-CoV-2’s annual schedule—if it sticks to one at all.

Besides, relying on seasonality to curb a pandemic can be a dangerous line of thought, says C. Brandon Ogbunu, a computational epidemiologist at Brown University.

“Seasonality has the potential to decrease the rate of infection,” he says. But this factor alone won’t get the world anywhere close to resolving the outbreak. “If I was a betting person … all [my money] would be on the impact of human behavior and infrastructure” to slow transmission, he adds. “That’s where we need to put our emphasis.”

Why Are Diseases Seasonal, Anyway?

The first time a severe infectious disease tears through a new population, it’s sure to wreak havoc. Without previous exposure, no members of the community are immune, leaving the virus with numerous potential hosts to sustain it for months to come, regardless of the weather forecast.

Columbia University epidemiologist Micaela Martinez compares early outbreaks to a fire igniting in a forest full of kindling. The occasional rainstorm might do a bit to slow the conflagration. But with so many vulnerable trees, a touch of precipitation would be nowhere near enough to snuff out the flames. “For the first wave, the seasonality is not as relevant,” she says. “We can’t expect [the virus] to just go away.”

And that’s the rub.

Here’s another take on this from Dr. Marc Lipsitch, a Professor of Epidemiology and Director, Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health:

For the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, we have reason to expect that like other betacoronaviruses, it may transmit somewhat more efficiently in winter than summer, though we don’t know the mechanism(s) responsible. The size of the change is expected to be modest, and not enough to stop transmission on its own.  Based on the analogy of pandemic flu, we expect that SARS-CoV-2, as a virus new to humans, will face less immunity and thus transmit more readily even outside of the winter season. Changing seasons and school vacation may help, but are unlikely to stop transmission. Urgent for effective policy is to determine if children are important transmitters, in which case school closures may help slow transmission, or not, in which case resources would be wasted in such closures. Previously it was thought children were not easily infected with SARS-CoV-2. Recent evidence from Shenzhen suggests that children may be infected and shed detectable virus at about the same rate as adults — so now the only question is whether they transmit as readily. It seems likely the answer is yes, but no data as of this writing to my knowledge.

In other words:  “We don’t really know, but I’m not optimistic.”

I’m kind of hoping summer brings some relief from this thing, at least enough to let life return to some semblance of normalcy.  Opening restaurants and such would be good start; I’d also like if if our gun club’s trap stands opened back up again.

But while this isn’t my particular field of biology, I do know that we’re dealing with a new pathogen in a population that’s largely lacking any immunity.  This may drag on for a while; a vaccine would be great but that’s months off.  There are hopeful developments on the treatment front, but that doesn’t prevent transmission.

What the experts cited above don’t say is what is obvious to many of us:  We’ll have to wait and see.

Animal’s Daily Horse Squeeze News

The outbreak of the Kung Flu has led to another outbreak – this one is an outbreak of bullshit.  Excerpt:

The FTC has offered advice for consumers to help them avoid coronavirus scammers. On March 19 they published Part 2, and the FTC and FDA have sent out warning letters to these companies:

  • Vital Silver
  • Aromatherapy Ltd.
  • N-ergetics
  • GuruNanda, LLC
  • Vivify Holistic Clinic
  • Herbal Amy LLC
  • The Jim Bakker Show

They solicit complaints from customers, and this page has an Alert button with a link to facilitate complaints relating to Covid-19.

Stephen Barrett’s Consumer Health Digest #20-10 lists lawsuits filed against Jim Bakker, Alex Jones, and others for marketing fraudulent products claimed to prevent or cure the disease. It also lists commentaries about Covid-19 misinformation and quackery. That list features my article on how alternative medicine has exploited coronavirus fears.  Another commentary from the Science-Based Medicine blog is Jann Bellamy’s article on chiropractors who falsely claim they can protect patients from the virus.

I was proud to see that my article headed the list, appearing on February 4, a month before the rest. In it, I addressed:

And I mentioned that there were many more, but I couldn’t hope to provide a comprehensive list of them all. I also mentioned social media’s efforts to combat coronavirus misinformation.

I have to say I wasn’t surprised to see that asshole Jim Bakker’s name surface in this.  Fraud seems to be written into his DNA.

Were I a believer in Hell, I would say that there is a special place in it for anyone who defrauds the gullible in times like these.  I’ve long been of the opinion that there is a point at which fools and their money deserve to be parted; but in this case, where people are facing a possibly life-threatening disease, this is clearly beyond the pale.

For the love of Pete, True Believers, should you feel ill, go to a doctor.  Pay no heed to these fraudulent assholes.

As the author of the linked article states in her closing line:

I can’t help but wonder if the widespread toilet paper shortages are a response to the proliferation of bullshit.

Ain’t that the ever-loving truth.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Week Two of our own self-isolation is under way.  Down side of this trip home:  The club house and trap stands at the gun club are closed, so no clay birds this trip.

With that said…

On To the Links!

RIP, Kenny Rogers.  I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Rogers once, along about 1990.  Nice man – very down to earth, open, friendly, and very, very conscious of the people that made him the star he was.

Apparently some nutbars are claiming the COVID-19 virus came from space.  Those people really belong in This Week’s Idiots, below, but this article is debunking that claim.

Denver’s own Mike Rosen on the coronavirus.

The President on the coronavirus.

Italy may have turned the corner.

On the other hand, the UK has no First Amendment.

The Saudis and the Russians seem to be engaging in an oil price war.  Well, cheap energy is always good, but this will be hard on American oil companies.

The House of Representatives is condemning the actions of China in this pandemic crisis, and for other things.  The Chinese Communist Party gives not even one single shit.

This Week’s Idiots:

Princess Spreading Bull Warren is an idiot.

Jake Tapper is an idiot.

These people are idiots.

This guy was an idiot.  Paging Dr. Darwin, Dr. Charles Darwin!  Of course, the legacy media covering this are also idiots.

This New York imam is an idiot.

And So…

Our self-imposed national isolation is close to entering Week 3.  My current project has all office personnel, including consultants, working from home.  Mrs. Animal and I are still planning to return to our temporary New Jersey digs on Sunday, mostly because we don’t have another flight to CO scheduled until later April, and I’d prefer to be on hand in case the isolation ends sooner than expected.

But honestly, I don’t see this thing ending before the end of April.  It may well drag on later.  But when it does end, I expect the economy will come back with a roar; pent-up demand is a thing, after all.

So, to cheer us all up with the promise of sunnier things to come, here’s something from the archives:

With that, we return you to your socially distanced Wednesday, already in progress.

Animal’s Daily Stupid Games News

In the middle of all this, Senate and House Democrats are tying up a major Kung Flu relief package by adding some Green New Deal horseshit into it.  Rep. Dan Crenshaw, who I like more and more every day, is pissed off.  Excerpt:

Former Navy SEAL and Republican Congressman Dan Crenshaw is responding to Pelosi’s stunt and calling for accountability.

Here’s what Queen Nancy is demanding:

  • Publication of corporate pay statistics by race and race statistics for all corporate boards
  • A bail out on all current debt at the Postal Service
  • Required early voting
  • Required same day voter registration
  • Provisions on official time for union collective bargaining
  • Full offset of airline emissions by 2025
  • Publication and reporting of greenhouse gas statistics for individual flights
  • Retirement plans for community newspaper employees
  • Federal $15 minimum wage
  • Permanent paid leave
  • Study on climate change mitigation efforts

The provisions will apply to the companies and business rescued by bill.

I’ll be up-front about this; I’m not a fan of government’s tendency to attempt solving every problem by throwing bushels of taxpayer dollars at it.  But, matters of political philosophy aside, there was a deal negotiated in good faith, and a seeming consensus among members of both major parties that there was a need to do something.

And, while I haven’t yet read the bill (and neither have most of the people who will be voting on it) adding a bunch of Green Red New Deal horseshit into it – like new fuel efficiency standards for airlines – is particularly egregious.

Chuck Schumer, Sanctimonious Prick (D-NY) was on the news yesterday bemoaning “not enough protections for American workers” and “bailouts for business.”  I wonder – just who the hell does this horse’s ass think employs American workers?

If there are no businesses, there are no workers, and small businesses, who make up the majority of employers in this company, are getting hit pretty hard.  Stop your fucking posturing, Chuck!

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!

I’ve been thinking more lately about the great old Winchester 100.  For some time now I’ve been toying with the idea of finding a decent pre-64 Model 100, just because I think it’s a great platform:  Short, relatively light, easy to handle and powerful in the .308 chambering.  But of late I’ve given some thought to making a Model 100 a little more useful at the upper end of the North American game size spectrum.

See, the semi-auto Model 100 had a counterpart, that being the lever-action Model 88.  The two guns were very similar, sharing most of their design; both had full-length stocks, both took the same kind of four-shot detachable box magazine, and both were chambered in .243 Winchester, .284 Winchester and .308 Winchester.

The Model 100 (top) and the Model 88 (bottom) both in carbine form.

But the Model 88 was also chambered in the .358 Winchester.

The .358 is probably one of the best woods rounds ever designed.  It’s pretty much just the .308 case necked up to take a heavier .358 bullet, making it a hard-hitting round inside of 200 yards or so – perfect for big, tough, toothy critters in the woods.  (Refer to my recent Glibertarians article on the thirty-fives for more on this round.)

And the Model 88 came in that round, while the Model 100 (save for one prototype) did not.  That set me to wondering how hard it would be to re-bore and re-chamber a Model 100 for the .358.  I’ve done a little elementary digging and found evidence of one gun that appears to be an undocumented Winchester prototype and at least one custom gun in that caliber.

So, it would appear to be possible.  Now, I just have to find the right (pre-64) rifle and someone who will do the work.  And, since it’s going to be a custom job, maybe a matte blue finish (or maybe Cerakote) and a nice oil finish on the stock is in order.  Top it with a peep sight and you’ve got one hell of a fine piece for tracking moose or bear through an Alaskan alder or willow thicket.

Rule Five Biden’s Hypocrisy Friday

Daffy old Joe Biden is many things.  A viable Presidential candidate isn’t one of them.  But he is a hypocrite.  Excerpt:

Conventional wisdom might suggest that former Vice President Joe Biden has benefited from two recent news developments: The consolidation of moderate candidates like Sen. Amy Klobuchar around his presidential campaign, and the Supreme Court’s decision to take another Obamacare case next fall. Biden will likely use the court case to contrast his position supporting Obamacare with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ efforts to abolish it and establish a single-payer system. But one big fact makes Biden an ill-suited fit for this pro-Obamacare message: He deliberately avoided paying a six-figure sum in Obamacare taxes.

In mid-July, after Biden and his wife Jill released their 2016 through 2018 tax returns, press reports noted that, by characterizing over $13 million of income from speaking and writing engagements as profits from two corporations rather than wage income, the couple avoided paying nearly $500,000 in self-employment taxes. Tax experts interviewed at the time called the Bidens’ scheme “pretty aggressive” and not justified, given that the income came from their own intellectual work product, as opposed to any product or service created by a larger corporate entity.

The development raises several fundamental questions about Biden, starting with his blatant hypocrisy. Biden’s ads have claimed that “Obamacare is personal to me,” and that when “others propose to replace it and start over—that’s personal to me too.” But of the 3.8% self-employment tax the Bidens avoided, 0.9% funds Obamacare, and the other 2.9% funds Medicare.

Biden claims that he will defend Obamacare—especially its provisions regarding pre-existing conditions—and other federal health programs. But when given an opportunity to put his proverbial money where his mouth is, by paying the self-employment taxes that fund Obamacare and Medicare, Biden and his wife declined to do so. 

Hypocrisy from politicians is, of course, nothing new.  Both parties in Congress agree on one thing more than any other:  They exempt themselves from almost everything they hang on the rest of us, including Obamacare.

But Groper Joe is being especially egregious here.  He moralizes constantly on the need for people – “the wealthy,” of course, of which group he is a member by any rational standard – to pay more in taxes.  And yet he engages in (admittedly legal) shenanigans to avoid paying any more than he can get away with.

Now there’s nothing wrong with taking pains to reduce your tax profile.  We do it ourselves, and Mrs. Animal is excellent at wading through the various laws and regulations governing small businesses to make sure we pay every penny legally required of us and not one penny more.  But mind:  We aren’t the ones making high-handed moral claims about how people should pay more taxes.  Biden is, and he could easily lead by example – but he doesn’t.  What a loathsome, disgusting act of hypocrisy.

The article here concludes:

Over the years, Joe Biden has repeatedly used a simple phrase: “Don’t tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I’ll show you your values.” When it came time for him to “cash in” following years in the public sector, Joe Biden’s personal budget didn’t include the taxes to pay for the Obamacare law he claims to value. The press should question him on the yawning chasm between his claims and the values he expressed in his tax returns.

The increasingly-befuddled, possibly non compis mentis Biden’s handlers should expect President Trump to hit him with this in the Presidential debates.  And frankly, the President’s advisors should know better than to leave this issue lying on the table, especially since one of the debates can be expected to focus tightly on health care policy.  It’s just too juicy a morsel not to use; not only is it a cogent rebuttal to Biden’s quote above, it also plays into another useful tactic:  Make old Groper Joe lose his cool and launch into one of his unhinged, profane rants.  That would be worth thousands of votes in and of itself.

Animal’s Daily Fricking Fracking News

Fracking is an unalloyed good thing, so it’s not surprising both of the daffy old men running for President on the Democrat ticket want to do away with it.  Excerpt:

Fracking is seen as a critical issue to many Democratic voters in the presidential campaign. Bernie Sanders opposes any fracking. Joe Biden, on the other hand, said he would not support a nationwide ban on fracking, but would ban gas drilling on federal lands. 

Actually, most fracking is done on private and state lands, not federal lands, and thus would be difficult to stop. Today, thanks to such drilling in shale deposits spanning from Pennsylvania, to Ohio and Texas, natural gas dominates electricity production in the U.S. What’s more, the rise of gas in energy production is the reason why the U.S. is reducing carbon emissions faster than any other country.

So, why do so many want to ban the use of fracking? The short answer is that fracking opponents believe that electric power should only be produced without carbon or other emissions. We can discuss some ways to minimize such emissions.

Let’s start with coal, which for many years produced about 50 percent of the electrical power for America. But with the start of fracking about 20 years ago, the use of coal has steadily moved down to about 25 percent of America’s electricity use.

Huge amounts of carbon emissions are reduced in the U.S. simply by switching from coal to gas plants. Since 2010, hundreds of coal plants have closed, and others are expected to be retired in upcoming years.

Don’t read the comments, by the way.  The commenters on The Hill frequently seem to be competing to be the first to reach Tard Factor Eight.  It’s maddening and serves no good purpose.

It’s utterly baffling why Groper Joe and the daffy old Bolshevik would be taking this stance against fracking.  That places them firmly against cheap energy, warm homes in winter and cool homes in summer, jobs, lowering carbon emissions, and economic growth.

Why not just run against hot dogs and apple pie while you’re at it?

But, by all means, the Trump campaign should be encouraging this.  Running against the very industry responsible for tens of thousands of jobs in places like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan should be a sure-fire way to carry those states this November, right?

Right?

Now that I think on it, The Hill’s comment population isn’t the only group attempting Tard Factor Eight.  The Democrat Party seems to be reaching for the same goal.

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