Most folks who live in the West know about Yellowstone, and how the entire park sits in what is essentially a titanic volcanic caldera. Most folks who live in the West and pay any attention at all know that if the Yellowstone megavolcano blows, it’s bye-bye North America. So here’s an interesting piece on how geologists are monitoring this big volcano and the lake of red-hot magma that fuels it. Excerpt:
The Yellowstone volcano has erupted three times in history – 2.1 million years ago, 1.2 million years ago and 640,000 years ago. Scientists have previously revealed that, should an earthquake occur, it could take less than two weeks before a catastrophic reaction event with the potential to wipe out three-quarters of the US is triggered. Now, it is the job of geologists to “intensely monitor” a large area of molten rock directly below the surface of the supervolcano, it was revealed in a documentary.
Volcanoes typically erupt when molten rock, known as magma, rises to the surface following the Earth’s mantle melting due to tectonic plates shifting.
Robert Smith, from the University of Utah, is in charge of the seismometers around Yellowstone National Park.
This technology is designed to detect any change in activity, and give anyone in the immediate area some valuable time to evacuate.
Here’s the likely result of a major eruption:
Then, following the eruption, enormous pyroclastic flows would blast their way across the park.
This mixture of ash, lava and superheated gas exceed temperatures of 1,000C and can move at speeds of up to 300mph.
They are predicted to spread more than 100 miles out from Yellowstone, burying states like Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Colorado in three feet of life-extinguishing volcanic ash.
They mention evacuation, but it’s hard to say where folks around Yellowstone – or pretty much anywhere in the Mountain West – should evacuate to, as a major eruption would pretty much wipe out much of North America. Further, the results of billions of tons of sulfuric acid and volcanic ash in the atmosphere would screw up the weather for quite a few years, likely making crop growing difficult if not impossible.
So, yeah, I’m in favor of keeping an eye on it, even though there wouldn’t be much we could do about it if it happened. Personally I’d like to have a little notice.
I’ve had folks ask me if the idea worries me. It doesn’t. I reserve my worries for things I can change. But if my world is about to end, I wouldn’t mind a little warning.
By now you’ve all heard about the laughable Green New Deal put forth by New York Congresscritter Alexandra Occasional Cortex. Even though this piece of crap looks like it was strung together by a third-grade candidate for Student Council, Senate Majority Leader McConnell wants to bring it up for a vote in the Senate.
Why? Because it’s a masterpiece of trolling. I applaud this! Excerpt:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he plans a floor vote on the Green New Deal resolution proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and endorsed by many congressional Democrats. McConnell wants Senate Democrats to go on record on this radical proposal. He especially wants those running for president and those who may face tough reelection campaigns in 2020 to do so.
Would such a vote be a stunt? You could call it that, but you could also use the same word to describe a great many votes in both chambers.
The Green New Deal is a big deal, potentially. I see no reason why the Senate shouldn’t express its view of the idea.
Ocasio-Cortez responded to McConnell by saying, in effect, bring it on. She stated:
[McConnell] is trying to bully the party and he’s banking on people not being courageous. I think people should call his bluff.
When McConnell banks on something, he usually has good reason to. This seems like a case-in-point.
Trolling this may be and trolling it is, but McConnell, no newcomer to these kinds of games, has a purpose beyond just the lulz. He’s going to make every member of the Senate stand, vote and be counted, either for this atrocity or against it…
…including all the Senate Democrats who have or who are planning to declare as 2020 Presidential candidates. Any, including those who have already expressed support, will have that support hung around their necks like a millstone in 2020.
Some folks are about to be reminded that this ain’t Mitch McConnell’s first rodeo.
Firearms aficionados will know that Washington state recently passed some pretty draconian anti-Second Amendment laws. Arguing (correctly, to my thinking) that those laws are unconstitutional, several Washington county sheriffs are refusing to enforce this law. Excerpt:
Sheriffs in a dozen Washington counties say they won’t enforce the state’s sweeping new restrictions on semi-automatic rifles until the courts decide whether they are constitutional.
A statewide initiative approved by voters in November raised the minimum age for buying semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21, required buyers to first pass a firearms safety course and added expanded background checks and gun storage requirements, among other things. It was among the most comprehensive of a string of state-level gun-control measures enacted in the U.S. after last year’s shooting at a Florida high school.
The National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation have filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging the initiative is unconstitutional. They say its purchasing requirements violate the right to bear arms and stray into the regulation of interstate commerce, which is the province of the federal government.
Sheriffs in 12 mostly rural, conservative counties — Grant, Lincoln, Okanogan, Cowlitz, Douglas, Benton, Pacific, Stevens, Yakima, Wahkiakum, Mason and Klickitat — along with the police chief of the small town of Republic, have said they will not enforce the new law until the issues are decided by the courts.
“I swore an oath to defend our citizens and their constitutionally protected rights,” Grant County Sheriff Tom Jones said. “I do not believe the popular vote overrules that.”
All I can say is, good on those sheriffs.
Well, OK, I can say a bit more than that. The refusal of these lawmen to enforce a law they see as illegitimate sets a very interesting precedent. Consider Imperial overreach, especially as it is being proposed by the political Left in the Imperial City right now (Green New Deal, anyone?) Consider if increasingly overbearing laws are increasingly ignored by counties and towns across the nation.
Would not there be some backlash by increasingly frustrated voters against overweening pols who keep passing intrusive laws that nobody in the flyover counties want enforced?
Or will there be an Imperial backlash against local law enforcement who are, as they see it, doing duty to a higher authority – the Constitution?
Either way, the outcome is sure to be very interesting – as in the old Chinese proverb.
For some time now I’ve been eyeing a way to get myself a light, handy lever gun chambered in the .45 Colt, as a companion piece for my .45 Colt sixguns. I’ve thought about refurbishing an original Winchester 1892, but I wouldn’t want to alter a collectible and the metallurgy in older guns might make it unwise to run my favored heavy .45 Colt loads through the finished piece.
The company that calls itself Winchester nowadays has reintroduced the 1892, but it has a damnable sliding tang safety that ruins the original look; ditto for the Rossi/Braztech version and its idiotic pivot safety marring the top of the bolt. A gun with an external hammer shouldn’t need an additional safety.
But I think I may have found an answer.
This, True Believers, is the Cimarron 1892 Saddle Ring Carbine, an 1892 replica with a big lever loop and a 20″ round barrel, frequently described as the best combination of quick handling and balance in the ’92. The big-loop version is called, of course, the Cogburn Carbine. From the manufacturer’s catalog:
For decades, the 1892 Winchester was the rifle of Silver Screen cowboys, and none was more recognizable than the Duke’s large loop lever-action 1892 carbine. As a mainstay in film after film, this rifle showed true grit, providing some of film’s most exciting action sequences.
Mind you, that’s not why I want the gun; I want it because it’s a light, handy carbine with enough punch to settle a typical Colorado black bear or an overly aggressive mountain cat.
This is a 6.6 pound piece, light enough to easily carry in one hand. I like the big lever loop, not because John Wayne favored one (although I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t a factor) but because I have big hands and am frequently out and about in cold weather. Big finger levers are easier to handle with gloved hands.
This might just be the perfect off-season woods-bumming rifle.
No one thing in particular jumps out this Monday morning, so let’s have a links compendium with some comments.
In France, yellow-vest protestors continue to protest… well, just about everything. The gist of their argument seems to be “we want more Free Shit, and we want other people to pay for it.”
Princess Spreading Bull has launched her 2020 Presidential bid. This is a Quixotic quest if there ever was one; even her fellow Democrats are getting to be embarrassed by her serial dissembling over her background.
Portland, Oregon averages a 911 call every fifteen minutes – about homeless people. Most of these aren’t really emergencies and should be called in to the regular non-emergency dispatch line, granted. But Portland has in the past had policies like “no-turnaway” shelters, which has drawn itinerants to that city – and this is the predictable result.
Single-family zoning is now racist. Who knew? This is so facepalm-worthy it’s not even funny. When everything is racist, nothing is racist, but that little truism is lost on these people.
Robert Stacy McCain chronicles the continuing downward slide of our Ivy League schools. Why are these people so angry?
Our good friend Jillian Becker presents “Prophetess: A Cautionary Tale.” Well worth the read. Granted predictions are very difficult, especially when they’re about the future.
On that note, we return you to your Monday, already in progress.
Boy howdy, Virginia is way into train-wreck territory. First, their Governor did something naughty decades ago:
A muddled defense that included moonwalking and a blackface Michael Jackson costume may be enough for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to keep his job despite widespread calls for his resignation over a racially insensitive photo in his 1984 medical school yearbook.
Virginia’s Constitution says elected officials who commit “malfeasance in office, corruption, neglect of duty or other high crime or misdemeanor” may be removed from office. Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, told USA TODAY “nothing that has happened so far is grounds for removal” under the state’s provisions for impeachment.
“There is nothing in his service as governor that satisfies those terms,” Tobias said.
Then, his Lieutenant Governor got accused of something more serious:
Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of Virginia emphatically denied on Monday a woman’s claim that he sexually assaulted her in 2004, suggesting at one point that Gov. Ralph Northam’s supporters were trying to block his ascent to the governorship at a moment when Mr. Northam is besieged by demands that he resign over charges of racism.
“Does anybody think it’s any coincidence that on the eve of potentially my being elevated that that’s when this smear comes out?” Mr. Fairfax told reporters surrounding him in the rotunda of the state Capitol about whether he believes Mr. Northam, a fellow Democrat, was behind the accusation’s coming to light.
Now the third man in line, the Attorney General, has come out with some ancient shenanigans of his own:
Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) said Wednesday he dressed in blackface during college, elevating the Capitol’s scandals to a new level that engulfed the entire executive branch of government.
Now, Herring, Gov. Ralph Northam and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax – the state’s three top Democrats – are each embroiled in separate scandals that threaten their careers. Also on Wednesday, the woman who has accused Fairfax of sexual assault made her first public statements, going into graphic detail of an alleged 2004 attack which Fairfax has vehemently denied.
One might feel no small amount of schadenfreude at seeing Old Dominion Democrats hoist on their own petard. While the sexual assault accusation is pretty serious – and the accuser has some pretty specific details – the other two, with Governor Northam and AG Herring, are pretty silly.
The right thing for Northam to do here is this: Call a press conference. Get as many members of the media there as his people can dig up.
Take the stage. Ask the assembled throng, “which of you here can honestly say you never did anything dumb when you were young? Raise your hands. No one? That’s what I thought.”
And he’d have a hell of a good point. My own youth was pretty much a catalog of “hey, hold my beer and watch this” events, which is why I remain to this day delighted that cell phone cameras didn’t exist in the Seventies, or there would be some embarrassing footage of me on YouTube.
But yes, that’s all this is – embarrassing. It is not nor should it be career-ending. No matter what letter you have behind your name.
Way back when, snakes may well have helped primates develop our visual acuity. Excerpt:
In 2006, I published a new idea that could answer that question and more: the ‘snake detection theory’. I hypothesised that when large-gaped constricting snakes appeared about 100 million years ago and began eating mammals, their predatory behaviour favoured the evolution of changes in the vision of one kind of prey, the lineage that was to become primates. In other words, the ability to see immobile predatory snakes before getting too close became a highly beneficial trait for them to have and pass on to their descendants. Then, about 60 million years ago, venomous snakes appeared in Africa or Asia, adding more pressure on primates to detect and avoid them. This has also had repercussions on their visual systems.
There is a consistency between the degree of complexity in primate visual systems and the length of evolutionary time that primates have spent with venomous snakes. At one extreme, the lineage that comprises Old World monkeys, apes and humans has the best vision of all primates, including excellent visual acuity and fully trichromatic colour vision. Having evolved roughly at the same time and in the same place as venomous snakes, these primates have had continuous coexistence with them. They are also uniformly wary of snakes.
What is it about snakes that makes them so attention-grabbing to us? Naturally, we use all the cues available (such as body shape and leglessness) but it’s their scales that should be the most reliable, because a little patch of snake might be all we have to go on. Indeed, wild vervet monkeys in Africa, for instance, are able with their superb visual acuity to detect just an inch of snake skin within a minute of coming near it. In people, electrophysiological responses in the primary visual area reveal greater early visual attention to snake scales compared with lizard skins and bird feathers. Again, the primary visual area is highly sensitive to edges and lines of different orientations, and snake skins with their spades offer these visual cues in spades.
Speaking as a guy who grew up in rattlesnake country, yeah, we do tend to notice snakes, especially the ones with sharp bits that inject poison – and a big timber rattler can kill you if it strikes too close to your chest or head.
Primates do have an unusual visual acuity as mammals go. They can see more color, our daytime vision is much better than most mammals who sacrifice some color vision for improved nighttime vision. But then, lots of mammals are nocturnal or crepuscular.
Primate color vision, by the way, is also really useful for determining which fruits are ripe and therefore good to eat.
Now, if only they could find a way to reverse-engineer my farsightedness.
Mountain lions don’t attack humans often, but they do sometimes. And it frequently ends up bad for the human. But not in this case. Excerpt:
A Colorado jogger fought off a mountain lion in the foothills of Horsetooth Mountain on Monday, suffering severe bites before he killed the wild animal in self-defense, authorities said.
The man, who was not identified, was jogging on a trail on the West Ridge of the Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, a mountain park about 66 miles northwest of Denver.
The mountain lion attacked him from behind, biting and clawing the man’s face, back, legs and arms, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Larimer County Department of Natural Resources said in a joint release, late on Monday.
However, it was not disclosed exactly how the jogger managed to kill the animal, and no one from the CPW or the Larimer DNR was available for comment early Tuesday.
Responding to a question on Twitter about whether the jogger had used any kind of weapon against the create, the CPW confirmed that he had not.
Instead, he fought the animal off using just his bare hands.
This was a lucky jogger, for a couple of reasons.
First, the lion was a juvenile. So smaller, and inexperienced. Experienced lions kill by ambushing their prey and delivering a precise bite at the nape of the neck, severing the spinal cord and killing instantly. If this had been a 180-pound, three or four-year old tom instead of a yearling, this guy would have been dead before he knew what hit him.
Second, because it was a juvenile, it was likely wandering and looking for a territory, and therefore probably not in very good condition. Plenty of young lions die of starvation or disease while looking for a territory, and it’s not unusual for young lions to take on prey outside their normal range. Like people.
At any rate, this anonymous jogger did good; he kept his wits about him and fought back, which is recommended in lion attacks. Fortunately he’ll come out of it with no more than some scars worth bragging about, and a great story to tell. I for one would gladly buy him a beer just to hear that story.