Rule Five Manly Arts Friday

Manliness, as defined by strength, confidence, self-reliance, courage and honor, seems to be an increasingly rare trait in the Western nations today, our own republic among them.  I am inclined to think that this seeming lack is only an illusion, as the rise of PC culture has drowned out the actions and words of such men who, generally, see no need to blow their own horns.  The Old Man is one such; a man of few words but enormous presence, a small man physically but a giant in character, a man of great courage, honor, determination, confidence and self-reliance.  America has millions like him, and we’re better for it.

But while they may be men of few words, there are nonetheless quite a few relevant quotes on the meaning of manliness that are worth considering.  A while back I was perusing the site The Art of Manliness, and stumbled across an article presenting 80+ Quotes on Men and Manhood.   Some of my personal heroes are represented in that article, Winston Churchill, George Patton and Theodore Roosevelt among them, so I’ll produce some of my favorites here.  Hopefully the males among all you True Believers will find them inspiring, as I have.  For that matter, some of the ladies may as well.  Enjoy.

“A man does what he must – in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures – and that is the basis of all human morality.  – Winston Churchill

“We do not admire the man of timid peace. We admire the man who embodies victorious effort; the man who never wrongs his neighbor, who is prompt to help a friend, but who has those virile qualities necessary to win in the stern strife of actual life.” –Theodore Roosevelt

“No man is more unhappy than he who never faces adversity, for he is not permitted to prove himself.”  – Seneca

“Private and public life are subject to the same rules—truth and manliness are two qualities that will carry you through this world much better than policy or tact of expediency or other words that were devised to conceal a deviation from a straight line.” –Robert E. Lee

“The way of a superior man is three-fold: virtuous, he is free from anxieties; wise, he is free from perplexities; bold, he is free from fear.” –Confucius

“We need the iron qualities that go with true manhood.  We need the positive virtues of resolution, of courage, of indomitable will, of power to do without shirking the rough work that must always be done.”  – Theodore Roosevelt

“The lesson taught at this point by human experience is simply this, that the men who will get up will be helped up; and the man who will not get up will be allowed to stay down.  Personal independence is a virtue and it is the soul out of which comes the sturdiest manhood.  But there can be no independence without a large share of self-dependence, and this virtue cannot be bestowed.  It must be developed from within.”  – Frederick Douglass

“Duty is the essence of manhood.”  – George Patton

“Stand true to your calling to be a man. Real women will always be relieved and grateful when men are willing to be men.” –Elisabeth Elliott

“A woman simply is, but a man must become. Masculinity is risky and elusive. It is achieved by a revolt from woman, and it confirmed only by other men. Manhood coerced into sensitivity is no manhood at all.” –Camille Paglia

“Adversity toughens manhood, and the characteristic of the good or the great man is not that he has been exempt from the evils of life, but that he has surmounted them.” –Patrick Henry

“What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculties! In form and moving, how express and admirable! In action, how like an angel! In apprehension, how like a God.” – William Shakespeare

Which is your favorite?  Anyone have any to add?

Animal’s Daily New Finch News

Science!

It’s been a long time since I made my living as a biologist, but I do try to stay current, and this is one of those stories that makes biology interesting.  There are four basic types of speciation:  Allopatric, sympatric, parapatric and quantum.  Now, on the Galapagos, biologists studying the iconic finches there have found an instance of hybrid speciation.  Excerpt from the story:

It’s not every day that scientists observe a new species emerging in real time. Charles Darwin believed that speciation probably took place over hundreds if not thousands of generations, advancing far too gradually to be detected directly. The biologists who followed him have generally defaulted to a similar understanding and have relied on indirect clues, gleaned from genomes and fossils, to infer complex organisms’ evolutionary histories.

Some of those clues suggest that interbreeding plays a larger role in the formation of new species than previously thought. But the issue remains contentious: Hybridization has been definitively shown to cause widespread speciation only in plants. When it comes to animals, it has remained a hypothesis (albeit one that’s gaining increasing support) about events that typically occurred in the distant, unseen past.

Until now. In a paper published last month in Science, researchers reported that a new animal species had evolved by hybridization — and that it had occurred before their eyes in the span of merely two generations. The breakneck pace of that speciation event turned heads both in the scientific community and in the media. The mechanism by which it occurred is just as noteworthy, however, because of what it suggests about the undervalued role of hybrids in evolution.

Know why this is interesting?  Look in the mirror.  If you, like yr obdt., is of mostly northern European or west Asian descent, you have some Neandertal genes, maybe as much as 3-4%.  What precisely happened to the Neandertal is still the subject of some debate, but the Neandertal genome has been sequenced, and we now know a little of them lives on in us.

That wasn’t a speciation event, though.  It was an absorption at best.  As far as I’m aware this hybrid event with the finches is new, and that’s interesting in and of itself.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Someone read my Blue Monday post this week.  To be fair, this article added some stuff I  hadn’t really thought about; by all means, go read it.

Moving right along:  Here’s your kook of the day and, shamefully, Newsweek appears to be reporting this as straight news.  Excerpts with my comments:

Amethyst Realm, a 27-year-old “spiritual guidance counselor” in England, says sex with ghosts is much better than sex with men—and she should know because she’s made love with at least 20 ghouls.

She’s a “spiritual guidance counselor?”  So what possible reason might she have for, you know, making this shit up?

Realm said on the British TV show “ITV This Morning” last week that she experienced her first truly spiritual encounter 12 years ago after she and her then-fiancé moved into a new home together when she felt a strange presence.

No, she didn’t.

“It started as an energy, then became physical,” she told hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby.  

No, it didn’t.

“There was pressure on my thighs and breath on my neck. I just always felt safe. I had sex with the ghost.

No, she didn’t.

You can feel it.

No, you can’t.

It’s difficult to explain. There was a weight and a weightlessness, a physical breath and stroking, and the energy as well.”

No, there isn’t.

Realm said she had a love affair with the ghost for three years before her human lover came home from work early and saw a shadow of what appeared to be a man. Since her first encounter, Realm has said she has had sex 20 times with various ghosts.

No, she hasn’t.

Is it possible to have sex with Casper The (little more than just) Friendly ghost? Experts say, yes (or, more accurately, yes, yes, yes, yes, YES!).

No, no, no, no, NO!  You can only indulge your own oddball fantasies.

“People have the richest fantasies. If they’re getting pleasure from that fantasy, then it is possible,” said Rachel Sussman, a psychotherapist told Newsweek.

No, it’s not possible, any more than my imagining I can hunt a bull T-rex is possible.

It’s unfair, as there are plenty of reputable psychiatrists and psychologists out there, but indulging this kind of horseshit gives head-candlers a bad name.

Animal’s Daily Not-So-Smart Bomb News

NYC was again the target of an Islamic terrorist nutbag.  Fortunately this one was incompetent.  Excerpt:

An ISIS-inspired would-be suicide bomber set off a homemade explosive device at the Port Authority Bus Terminal subway station Monday morning, seriously wounding himself and injuring three others, law enforcement sources said.

The man — a 27-year-old Brooklyn man identified by high ranking police sources as Akayed Ullah — had wires attached to him and a 5-inch metal pipe bomb and battery pack strapped to his midsection as he walked through the Manhattan transit hub.

The man partially detonated the device, which he was carrying under the right side of his jacket, prematurely inside the passageway to the A, C and E trains at Eighth Avenue and West 42nd Street around 7:40 a.m., sources said.

Police quickly took the man into custody.

Former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that the man was inspired by ISIS and possibly born in Bangladesh.

Bratton, who said the man had been living in the US for seven years, “was supposedly setting the device off in the name of ISIS.”

“So, definitely a terrorist attack, definitely intended,” Bratton said.

No shit.

You can’t see much in the embedded video, but the puff of gray-white smoke makes me wonder if the agent used was black powder.  Black powder can make a hell of a bang if the device is constructed right, but it’s tricky stuff.  It takes flame or a hot spark to set it off, and if the charge isn’t tightly contained in a stout metal housing, it will vent and just burn off rapidly, producing the kind of burns the perp here is said to have.

We can’t count on ISIS-inspired nutbars to all be incompetent, but this time, NYC caught a break.  Bad news is this:  The next asshole will probably learn from this asshole’s mistakes.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

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

In a bit of news from around the Arctic Circle, a film crew caught some footage of another starving polar bear.  Excerpt:

This year, biologist Paul Nicklen published a video online of an emaciated polar bear on Baffin Island rummaging through trash cans, looking for food. The polar bear was likely at death’s door when Nicklen captured the footage in late summer.
Nicklen, who founded the environmental group Sea Legacy, said he wanted to highlight the future polar bears face because of global warming. It worked, and the video has gone viral, sparking media coverage about a polar bear that’s a victim of a warming world.

“We stood there crying—filming with tears rolling down our cheeks,” Nicklen said, National Geographic reported.

“When scientists say bears are going extinct, I want people to realize what it looks like. Bears are going to starve to death,” said Nicklen. “This is what a starving bear looks like.”

Yes, bears are going to starve to death.  Mountain lions are going to starve to death.  Wolves are going to starve to death.  It is a sad but inevitable fact in the lives of large predators that some of them never quite get the hang of surviving.  The death rate of young bears in many environments is appalling.

But that’s nature for you.

There are a number of questions that I’d like to have answered that might shed a little more light on the whole thing:

  1. Assuming the bear did die, and it does indeed look inevitable from the film, did anyone do a necropsy on the animal to discover if it was injured, infested with parasites, or diseased?
  2. How old was the bear?  Young bears, especially young males, are frequently injured by larger, older bears as they seek their own territories.
  3. Were any other emaciated bears observed in the area?  If the environmental conditions were the root cause of this bear’s condition, then other bears in the area would be suffering as well.
  4. Where, exactly, was the bear?  Near a human habitation?  Polar bears are creatures of the coast and pack ice, but one hanging out near human habitations may (again) be a young one still learning how to survive, and maybe doing poorly.

In other words, there are just too many possible explanations to just go off and go “RRHHHEEEEE!  Global climate change!  We must cripple our economy now!”  Large predators almost never die peaceful deaths.  They are killed in fights with other predators, they are injured trying to take down a prey animal, they die of disease or by accident, or they just plain starve.  It’s a damned tough world out there, and in the Arctic, it’s several quantum levels tougher.

Blaming this on climate change is some Olympic-level jumping to a conclusion.

Rule Five Bitcoin Friday

I don’t know a lot about Bitcoin, or any other cryptocurrency.  Fortunately my fellow Glibertarian “Richard” has provided a pretty neat primer on the topic.  Excerpt:

There is no such thing as a bitcoin. When someone says “I own a bitcoin,” what they mean is “I know the code or codes that can authorize the transfer of up to one bitcoin.” If you buy a “loaded” physical token for 0.01 bitcoin on eBay, the token contains a code. Neither the token nor the code is “bitcoin,” but the code enables you to transfer amounts adding up to 0.01 bitcoin to other accounts.

Bitcoin’s foundation is a public transaction ledger called the blockchain. Every bitcoin transaction is recorded on the blockchain and anyone can inspect the transaction history going back to the creation of the first block of the chain. Because the blockchain is public, bitcoin transactions are not as anonymous as some people currently in prison had hoped. Every new account is anonymous, but that anonymity will probably be compromised by the first transfer of bitcoin into it because the bitcoins in the source account probably have a history–and there are companies whose business plan is to delve through the blockchain to link accounts to owners and sell the information.

Here’s how the blockchain works: people with codes that control bitcoin create transactions. Transactions can have one or more input accounts and one or more output accounts. Newly created transactions are sent to the cloud of computers running bitcoin protocol clients and added to a list of pending transactions. Anyone can download a bitcoin protocol client and run it on their computer, but running a full “node” takes a lot of disk storage space and Internet bandwidth.

Some of the computers running bitcoin protocol clients are “mining” bitcoin. To mine bitcoin, one selects transactions from the pending list and packs them together into a binary blob called a “block”. The block is then scanned to create a “hash” value. The last digit of a 16 digit credit card number is a hash value calculated from the first 15 digits. This is how web sites can automatically determine if you’ve mistyped a credit card number.

By all means, read the whole thing.

I’m not sure I get the whole thing.  Somewhere in my IRA portfolio there are a few shares of a stock that trades in bitcoin futures, and it’s turned a modest profit for me, but that’s probably as far as I’ll go in dealing with the fiat-iest of fiat currencies.

It’s not at all clear to me how you pay for things with bitcoins, how you obtain them or how you store them.  You can’t put them in a bank account – or can you?  Can I use them to put a tank of gas in my truck?  Can  I buy guns with them?

Supposedly fortunes have been made by those smart enough to buy bitcoins when they sold for pennies apiece, or even a few dollars apiece.  Now the value of a single bitcoin hovers between seven and eleven thousand dollars.  If you had bought a thousand of them for a dollar each, you’d be virtually wealthy now – if you could find a buyer to take those bitcoins in exchange for a more tradable currency.

As a libertarian I love the idea of an untraceable currency that isn’t controlled by any government.  As a child of the pre-Internet era, I can’t quite bring myself to engage fully with a currency that I just don’t understand.

Richard’s article answered a lot of my questions.  But I still have more.  I suppose I’ll keep looking for answers.

Animal’s Daily Pistol Carbine News

Pistol-caliber carbines are a coming thing, it seems – and have been, for over a hundred years.  The more things change…  Excerpt:

Submachine guns are incredibly potent firearms in close quarters and in the hands of a skilled operator. They have fallen out of favor with modern militaries for two major reasons: their limited effective range, and the rise of the short-barreled assault rifle.

These fully automatic or select-fire pistol-caliber firearms offer the individual soldier increased firepower over a sidearm, with better maneuverability than a full-sized rifle in close combat.

Many firearm manufacturers have capitalized on the strengths of these designs, offering civilian-legal, semi-automatic sub-guns in the form of pistol caliber carbines. This idea is not new—Auto Ordnance developed semi-auto versions of its (in)famous Thompson SMGs in the 1970s.

A decade later, H&K engineered an ATF-approved semi-auto version of the MP-5, and RPB Industries developed the M-10 and M-11 open-bolt versions of the MAC-10 and MAC-11 sub-guns. While most of these pistol-caliber carbines were based on famous SMGs like IMI’s UZI carbine, semi-auto-only variants of lesser-known SMGs like the S&W M-76 (the MK-760) also surfaced on the civilian market.

Interestingly, some designs followed the exact opposite path, like the Beretta CX4. Instead of evolving from a submachine gun, the CX4 began as a semi-auto pistol-caliber carbine, before being developed as a select-fire weapon for the government of India as the Mx4 SMG—with more than 36,000 examples manufactured for that contract alone.

Winchester 92

But this is anything but a new idea.  Not all that long ago the well-equipped guntwist frequently carried a carbine that digested the same fodder as his revolver, such as the above-pictured ’92 Winchester.  It’s a handy combination.  I’ve been looking around some for one of the modern replicas of the 92 in .45 Colt (which the originals were never chambered for) to match my favorite woods-bumming revolvers.  There are some replicas of the 66 and 73 Winchesters available in that chambering, but I prefer the Browning design.  The 92 is slimmer, lighter, handier.

Rossi makes a good replica but it’s worth searching to find an old Interarms import version, rather than the new models on sale today.  Why?  The old Interarms guns are direct copies, which the new versions are burdened with an idiotic crank-type safety atop the bolt.  There is probably some lawyerly reason for this, but in reality a gun with an external hammer should need no other safety, and the only really effective safety is the one between the shooter’s ears.

The new modern guns are doubtless handy, efficient and accurate, as the tests in the linked article would seem to indicate.  But lever guns have one significant advantage – they are legal in jurisdictions where semi-autos are restricted by ignorant pols.  And, in the eyes of yr. obdt. at least, they are nicer to look at.

And besides – if it’s good enough for the Duke, it’s good enough for anyone.

 

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

National concealed-carry reciprocity is headed for a House vote.  But there may be a catch.  Excerpt:

A measure expanding carry protections slammed by gun control advocates is set for a full vote in the House this week but may be merged with other proposals.

The bill, H.R. 38, was marked up by the House Judiciary Committee and is on the weekly schedule for lawmakers to vote on this week, with some 213 signed on to support the move.

“An overwhelming majority of Americans support concealed carry reciprocity. Momentum, common sense, and the facts are on our side,” said the sponsor of the reciprocity bill, U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, R-NC. “I want to thank Speaker Paul Ryan for his strong support of the Second Amendment, and I urge my colleagues to support this common-sense bill to protect law-abiding citizens.”

Here’s the catch:

One caveat that gun rights advocates warn of with H.R.38 is the likelihood the bill will be amended to include the language of a new “Fix NICS” act, which would add several accountability measures designed to ensure that federal agencies submit the records of criminals, domestic abusers and others prohibited from possessing guns to the FBI-maintained system while giving states incentives to up their own reporting.

“Does the NICS background check system have problems? Yes, it results in tens of thousands of unjustified denials of gun purchases every year. But like many bills in Congress, the fix-NICS doesn’t live up to its name – it will likely do the opposite,” warned U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican who restarted the Second Amendment Caucus earlier this year. “It throws millions of dollars at a faulty program and it will result in more law-abiding citizens being deprived of their right to keep and bear arms.”

I’d love to see national reciprocity pass, but I don’t like the idea of screwing around with adding questionable categories to the NICS database.  I have no issue with denying purchases to, say, convicted felons – they have been tried and convicted, so due process is satisfied.  But there are too many nebulous criteria being proposed, like disabled veterans who have been assigned someone to manage their financial affairs.  The worst suggestion is the addition of people on the “no-fly list” – a list which requires no due process to be included on, and to which there is no recourse if you are put on it by mistake.

Still.  This is grist for the sausage mill; such is the state of affairs in politics, in that you have to give some to get some.  I just hope we aren’t giving away a fundamental natural right for many Americans who do not deserve to lose same.

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