All posts by Animal

Animal’s Daily Dirty Rats News

Thanks to our blogger pals over at The Daley Gator for the linkback.  If you aren’t reading The Daley Gator every day, you should be!

Now then:  There has recently surfaced another unexpected result of the Kung Flu; urban rat populations are going hungry and becoming increasingly aggressive.  Shades of Willard!  Excerpt:

Rats are growing increasingly aggressive in their hunt for food as restaurants across the US remain shuttered to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned. 

With many restaurants now only open for takeout services, the bins that used to be filled with scraps and refuse the rodents once feasted on are much emptier — and they are getting desperate. 

“Some jurisdictions have reported an increase in rodent activity as rodents search for new sources of food. Environmental health and rodent control programs may see an increase in service requests related to rodents and reports of unusual or aggressive rodent behavior,” said the CDC in their release last week. 

It advises that “sealing up access into homes and businesses, removing debris and heavy vegetation, keeping garbage in tightly covered bins, and removing pet and bird food from their yards” to ward off the pests. 

The increased rodent activity around residential neighborhoods has health authorities concerned, with rats known to spread illnesses including salmonella and Weil’s disease, according to pest control firm Rentokil. 

In several major cities in the US, reports have emerged of desperate rats swarming the streets in the search for food. 

Here’s the funny thing; rats aren’t as different from us, behaviorally, as we’d like to think.  If we cut off the flow of food into the major cities, you’d see food riots within a matter of days.

Most folks don’t realize what an enormous, teetering stack of cards our modern society is based on.  The cities are literally fed and watered by a massive, complex and fragile logistics chain, and were that chain to be broken, the rats wouldn’t be the only ones affected.

And here’s the thing:  No matter what else happens, the rats will come out all right.  We might not, but the rats will.  Humans have been contending with rats for many millennia, and the best we’ve ever been able to do is to fight them to a draw.  The shutdown of rat food sources by the Kung Flu is a great illustration on just how easily the human/rat balance can be tipped.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

This week’s links will be slightly abbreviated, as I’m splitting the week between work and visiting with our daughter’s family in Iowa on our way back to Colorado.

With that said…

On To the Links!

The Kung Flu seems to be evaporating.

And, the Kung Flu appears to be less deadly than advertised.

Andrew Cuomo admits how badly he messed up.

Washington state has been massively over-reporting Kung Flu deaths.

New Zealand recently passed some draconian gun control laws.  Guess what happened to the crime rate.

Rose McGowan on the New York Times’ questions to Tara Reade.  Hint:  She’s not impressed.

President Trump’s new press secretary is a hoot.

To save time, the Babylon Bee will now just reprint everything Joe Biden says verbatim.

This Week’s Idiots:

The New York Times editorial board is staffed with idiots.

Robert Reich is an idiot.

Anyone who places any credence in the words of some horse’s ass who styles himself as “Charlemagne tha (sic) God” is an idiot.

Salon’s Chauncey DeVega is an idiot.

And So:

I really don’t have anything more to add, and I have some Grandpa-ing to do, so I’ll  just leave you with this:

On that note, we return you to your Wednesday, already in progress.

Animal’s Daily Municipal Meltdown News

Thanks as always to The Other McCain, Pirate’s Cove and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links!  Also, make sure to check out the latest in my Gold Standards series over at Glibertarians – this one discusses the great Winchester Model 52.

City Journal’s Michael Gibson chronicles the utter disaster that is San Francisco.  Excerpt:

Even before the current Covid-19 pandemic, San Francisco was a deeply troubled city. It ranks first in the nation in theft, burglary, vandalism, shoplifting, and other property crime. On average, about 60 cars get broken into each day. Diseases arising from poor sanitation—typhoid, typhus, hepatitis A—are reappearing at an alarming rate. Fentanyl goes for about $20 a pill on Market Street, and each year the city hands out 4.5 million needles, which you can find used and tossed out like cigarette butts in parks and around bus stops. The city’s department of public works deploys feces cleaners daily—a “poop patrol” to wash the filth from the sidewalks.

This is just a brief summary of the lack of hygiene and common decency. A reasonable person might declare an emergency, but in her first official act, Breed swore in Chesa Boudin, San Francisco’s new district attorney, before a packed house at the Herbst Theater. “Chesa, you have undertaken a remarkable challenge today,” said U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in a congratulatory video message. “I hope you reflect as a great beacon to many.” Boudin’s résumé boasts of a stint working directly for the late dictator Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, who turned a once-rich nation back to the dark ages. “We will not prosecute cases involving quality-of-life crimes,” Boudin promised during his campaign. He must have witnessed the success of that policy in Caracas, which was voted the world’s most dangerous city in 2018.

Even the sights and sounds of the city suggest a certain derangement. When the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system was first built in the 1970s, its designers failed to understand the acoustics between wheel, track, and tunnel. Since the nineteenth century, competent railroad engineers have known that a tapered, flanged wheel will handle turns better and generate less noise. For some reason, BART designers ignored this design in favor of a cylindrical wheel with a straight edge. Years of wear and tear have degraded the screech into a mad howl. According to a recent count by the San Francisco Chronicle, BART has lost nearly 10 million riders on nights and weekends because of the noise, grime, and lack of safety. It doesn’t help that it has also become a de facto shelter for drug addicts and the mentally ill.

The Old Man used to tell of visiting San Francisco briefly in 1945.  His one-day impression of that city was that it was a marvel, a booming metropolis, clean, shining and prosperous.  My Uncle George was stationed in the area in the early Fifties and spent a fair amount of free time mooching about the waterfront and in Chinatown, and spoke enthusiastically about what a great place the Bay Area was.

No longer.

Things were bad when I spent 2017 in the area, and the rot had spread as far as Silicon Valley, where bums sleep in the parks and along the trails and side streets are lined with parked RVs.  On our few ventures into the downtown area, we were treated to the sights, sounds and smells of Frisco’s bum, drug and feces-coated streets.  As Mr. Gibson points out, they have gone from bad to worse.

I’ve harped on this theme for some time now.  But it’s hard to watch what was one of America’s great cities descend into chaos; but holy crap, a DA who worked for Hugo Chavez?  That’s well past chaos and into enemy action.

It’s hard to find a good solution for San Francisco, where people keep voting in the lunatics running this asylum.  As Mencken pointed out, democracy is the idea that the people know what government they want and deserve to get it, good and hard.

San Francisco in particular and, honestly, California in general, seem determined to prove Mencken right.

Rule Five Sixth Annual Commencement Speech Friday

Thanks to The Daley Gator for linking up our fundraiser!  All of the help is appreciated more than we can say.

It’s that time of year again, when high school and college graduates all over the country are trying on caps and gowns and making post-graduation plans. Today, for the sixth year, I will present here my own carefully prepared commencement speech to those grads – presented here because there’s damn little chance of my being asked to deliver it in person to a group of impressionable yutes.

So, here it is. Enjoy.

“Graduates of the Class of 2020, let me be the first to extend to you my congratulations on this, your day of entry into reality.

For the last four years you have been working towards this goal, towards this day. That’s a good thing. One of the most important skills you will ever need, one of the most important ways to achieve success in the world into which you are about to enter, is the ability to formulate goals, to plan how to achieve those goals, and to see things through until you reach those goals. Today you’ve shown you can do that. Congratulations and good job.

Now, before you go out to enjoy the rest of this day, before you go out to celebrate this goal you have achieved, let me tell you a few harsh truths about the world you’re entering. I’m not going to give you any trigger warnings; if you can’t handle what I’m about to say, there’s damn little future for you out there in the real world, so cowboy up. Moments ago I congratulated you on your day of entry into reality, so to get you started off right, here is a hefty dose of reality for you.

In spite of what you may have been told during all your years of education, nobody owes you anything, and you aren’t special. Any perceived ‘need’ you may have does not entitle you to anything – most especially, not to one red cent of the product of anyone else’s effort. If any of your professors have told you that, then they are economic illiterates, moral frauds or outright charlatans.

Our wonderful Constitution, which has stood for well over two hundred years as the founding document of our Republic, guarantees you the opportunity to your pursuit of happiness. It does not require anyone to provide you the means to your happiness at their expense. You and you alone are responsible for your own life. You have no moral claim on anyone else’s productivity. Accept that fact and you are already one step ahead of most of your peers.

You are entitled to what you have earned through your own efforts, and not:

One.

Damn.

Thing.

More.

If you are accepting a degree today in LGBT Studies, or Women’s Studies, or any of the other assorted bullshit Underwater Dog Polishing degrees our universities crank out today, then you have my sympathies. You are the victim of a fraud perpetrated by our university system, a vicious and cynical fraud that has resulted in you spending a lot of money for no gain. But more importantly, you are the victim of your own poor judgement. You decided to pursue a useless degree, and now you’re stuck. Here is another harsh reality: You are responsible for your own situation. It’s not anybody else’s fault. Nobody else is responsible. You are.

Your university experience had one goal – producing a young adult with marketable skills, someone who can provide value to an employer and to the economy. In this your university has failed, and in choosing this degree, so did you. You have relegated yourself to uselessness in the workplace, and when a few years from now you are working as a barista or checkout clerk and crying over your six figures of student debt, remember what I said a few moments ago: You and you alone are responsible for your own life. You made a decision; now you get to deal with the consequences of that decision. Pull yourself up, look around at the other opportunities around you, and figure a way out of this mess your youthful indiscretion has landed you in.

But you still have one thing going for you. You have shown that you can set yourself a goal and achieve it. Do so now.

So, where do you go from here?

Because nobody owes you anything, including a living, one of the tasks ahead of you now is finding gainful employment. If you’re going to find employment, it will only be because you can demonstrate to the employer that you can provide value to him or her in excess of your costs of employment. Employment is an economic transaction. In any free market transaction, both parties have to realize a perceived gain in value or the transaction won’t happen. If a prospective employer doesn’t think you’re able to provide value to his/her business in excess of your cost of employment, which includes not only your salary but all the extra taxes, fees and other various government extortion that you never see in your pay stub – then they won’t hire you. So be able to present yourself as someone who can provide value, in whatever field you have been studying these last few years.

Once you have gained that employment, once you are in the workplace, remember these three rules for success:

Show up a little earlier than the other guy,
Work a little harder than the other guy,
Never pass up a chance to learn something new.

Words that should never pass your lips include such things as “that’s not my job,” and “I don’t have time for that.” Your reputation in the workplace should be, to put it bluntly, the one who can get shit done. Results matter. Be the one that the boss can count on. Be the one who brings things in on time. Be the one who finishes the job. Be the one that produces value and you will never have to worry about where your next meal is coming from.

Bear in mind also that you are entering the workforce as a tablua rasa as far as potential employers are concerned. You’re not going to leave these halls and be CEO of General Motors. You will be working in an entry level job, probably not making a lot of money, probably doing work your longer-term co-workers don’t want to do. Suck it up. There are no lousy jobs, only lousy people. Any work that produces value is worth doing. How do you know if your work is producing value? The answer to that is trivially easy: If someone is willing to pay you to do the work, then you are producing value. Bear in mind also that the job belongs to the employer, not to you, and if you don’t meet the employer’s expectations, someone else will.

How do you meet those expectations? Better yet, how do you exceed them? When you are doing that job, keep these things in mind:

Be known for your integrity. Don’t say anything you don’t believe and don’t make promises you can’t deliver on. Your employers and co-workers must know you as the person who means what you say and who delivers on your promises.

Be known for your reliability. Show up on time, every day, for every event. Show up on time for meetings. Your employers and co-workers must know you as the person who will always be there when you’re needed.

Be known for your responsibility. If you take on a task, finish it. If you commit to a timeline, meet it. If you accept responsibility for something, own it. It’s yours. Don’t expect anyone else to take care of it for you. Your employers and co-workers must know you as the person who, when put in charge, takes charge.

Be known for your dependability. Plan your tasks to bring them in on schedule. If that means long hours, work them. If that means working a Saturday, work it. Your employers and co-workers must know you as the person who can get the job done.

Success isn’t a mysterious thing. It’s not that elusive and it’s not even all that hard. I did it, and you can too, but it does involve one four-letter word:

Work.

Thomas Edison once said “people often fail to recognize opportunity when it knocks, because it usually shows up in overalls and looks like work.” At these commencement events it’s common to be told to follow your dreams, and that’s nice, flowery stuff, but in most cases nobody is going to pay you to follow your dreams. They will pay you to produce value, and that means work. Follow your dreams on your own time.

Finally, I will leave you all with some unsolicited advice:

All through your life, people will promise you things. Most of them won’t deliver. Many of those people will be people seeking political office, and many more of them will be people pushing some sort of supposed business opportunity. Some years ago the science fiction writer Robert Heinlein observed a fundamental law of the universe, which law is represented by the acronym TANSTAAFL: There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. Remember that; if someone offers you something for nothing, they are lying. If someone is offering you something at someone else’s expense, they are offering to commit theft on your behalf. The only moral answer to such offers is outright refusal.

There are only three types of economic transactions and only one of those – a free, unfettered, voluntary exchange of value – is morally acceptable. If a transaction is done by force, that is theft. If a transaction is done by deceit, that is fraud. Have no interaction with anyone who advocates either.

Accept responsibility for your own successes. Accept responsibility for your own failures. Learn from both. Rely on yourself. Rely on your own skills, your own abilities. Many other people will let you down, but you can always rely on yourself.

In her epic novel Atlas Shrugged, author Ayn Rand presents the protagonist, John Galt, describing his decision to solve society’s troubles by an epic act of creative destruction. He describes the ultimate moment of his decision process with two sentences, two sentences which I have found more inspiring than any long-winded ethical or political monologue ever delivered since the times of Plato and Aristotle. These words are the very essence of the self-directed man of achievement:

‘I saw what had to be done. I went out to do it.’

Those are good words to live by. Now, today, you graduates see what has to be done.

Go out and do it.

Thank you and good luck.”

If anyone was offended by anything contained in this hypothetical speech, too damn bad.

Animal’s Daily Shooter’s Grill News

The Shooter’s Grill in Rifle, Colorado, is on my list of places to visit; while I’ve spent a fair amount of time mooching about in that general area, I somehow haven’t yet been there.  That has to change.  Now the Shooter’s Grill is open in defiance of a stay-closed order.  As of yesterday, they’re fighting to get their license back, as Garfield County is punishing them for their act of civil disobedience.  Now I want to visit them more.  Excerpt:

After a cease and desist letter, a temporary restraining order and being told by Garfield County Public Health not to serve customers on the premise, Shooters Grill owner Lauren Beobert decided to take it outside.

Dining, that is.

With most businesses continuing to adhere to public health orders from local and state governments and minimal vehicle traffic on Third Street Thursday morning, Boebert set up tables on the sidewalk and parking spaces outside of her downtown Rifle restaurant and began serving breakfast to customers.

“I’ve been patient, followed all of the proper channels, and provided service in a safe and responsible manner using the same guidelines as neighboring Mesa County restaurants. When that wasn’t good enough for our local officials, they issued a cease and desist,” Boebert said in a statement Thursday. “The fact remains that my staff needs their paychecks, so this morning I moved my tables out onto the city street and opened back up for business.”

State and local orders prohibit restaurants from offering food or beverages for on-premises consumption, as well as movement in and out of restaurants by the public until May 27.

That’s six days from today; we’ll see what happens.

It’s also important to note that the Shooter’s Grill owner, Lauren Boebert, is running for Congress.  We wish her luck; unseating Scott Tipton would be a considerable and long-awaited coup for the Colorado GOP, which has been in a circular firing squad since Governor Bill Owens left office.

From the linked story

I can’t see how the government’s actions here square with the Fifth Amendment:  No person shall… be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.  Business owners all across the country are being deprived of property in the sense that their businesses are being shuttered and their income cut off; there has been little if any “just compensation,” nor could government at all levels combine make “just compensation” for the billions of dollars lost by businesses like the Shooter’s Grill.

With no more time wasted camped in New Jersey, Mrs. Animal and I will have more weekend time in our own Colorado, and I will have more time to resume my role of being a semi-notorious local political gadfly and general pain in the ass to local pols.  One of the things we need to do is drive to Rifle (a three hour or so drive) and offer our support in person to the Shooter’s Grill – holstered revolvers and all.  I’m certain they will eventually re-open, and we’ll be there.

Political support in the form of bloviating on a blog is great, but support is best expressed in the form of currency.  So that’s what we’ll do.  We can’t vote for Mrs. Boebert for Congress, but we can support the Shooter’s Grill, and it’s past time we did so.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Packing, packing, packing.  We really don’t have that much stuff to pack up here, but any such task inevitably expands to fill any time available.  This ain’t our first rodeo; we’ve done it before and will do it again, but in the meantime, the work awaits.  And so…

On To the Links!

Want to see a rogue’s gallery?  This looks like a rogue’s gallery.

Wisconsin is open for business.

National treasure Dr. Victor Davis Hanson weighs in on the Kung Flu.

Tyrannosaurs were marathon walkers.  Makes sense, big apex predators even today have to cover a lot of ground looking for food.

Mice that are 4% human.  Pinky and The Brain were unavailable for comment.

Bars open in Wisconsin; crowds of drinkers ensue.  Nobody should be surprised by this.

Are they any good to eat?

Kung Flu virus breakthrough?

Mexico is restarting production of consumer goods for the U.S. market.  Better them than China!

China to U.S. lawmakers:  “Stop talking crap about us.”  U.S. lawmakers:  “Bring it, bitches!”  Note that primary among the lawmakers is Rep. Dan Crenshaw, who I continue to like more all the time.

Colorado ranchers are trying to make ends meet by selling beef direct to consumers.  Bureaucracy is (of course) interfering.  Because, you know, we’re too stupid to know what’s best for us; we need Top Men to show us how to do things.  Top.  Men.

No Kung Flu spikes in opened areas – just in closed areas.

And a bit of good news – recovered Kung Flu patients are showing promising signs of immunity.  That’s how you build herd immunity, True Believers.

This Week’s Idiots:

CNN’s Matt Egan is an idiot, and economically illiterate.  It’s waaaay past time Americans started saving again; for a couple of decades now the Fed has been making sure there is damn little incentive to do so.

The people described in this article are idiots.

Columbia professor Jeffrey Lax is an idiot.

And So…

We have to get back to work/packing.  So to make up for my lack of deep thinking just now, here’s something from the archives:

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

Animal’s Daily Risk Management News

Our heartfelt thanks to The Other McCain for linking to our GoFundMe – and to all who have contributed! I can’t begin to tell you what it means to us.

Also, make sure to check out my latest over at Glibertarians – this week is the first in a new series, Why Can’t I Have One?  This entry:  The .25 rimfires.

Here’s another bit on the Kung Flu that I found interesting, from the Oklahoma State University Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise‘s  Dr. Stephen Trost:  A Risk-Management Approach to Defeating SARS-CoV2 and COVID-19.  Excerpt:

I am not a physician, nor am I an expert in epidemiology or epidemiologic models.  However, I am intimately familiar both with the development of quantitative models and with issues related to the management of risk and uncertainty.  I have an undergraduate engineering degree from MIT, a PhD in engineering from Oklahoma State University, and a PhD in entrepreneurship from Oklahoma State.  My engineering dissertation involved the development of a quantitative risk-management model for controlling cost overruns associated with capital-intensive construction projects.  My entrepreneurship dissertation examined the ways in which entrepreneurs perceive and manage risk and uncertainty, with an emphasis on decision-making in the absence of relevant prior knowledge.
With that said, my goal here is to lay out a path forward that intentionally skews toward the ‘risk’ side of the spectrum and away from decisions that are wrought with ‘true uncertainty’ (i.e. an inherent lack of similitude with prior cases).
Cutting to the chase, here are my overarching conclusions:
Science!

Risk Management is something I dabble in myself, although there are particular experts in that field in my industry and I’m not particularly one of them.  But Dr. Trost seems to lay out a pretty sound case here for a lockdown being precisely the wrong way to go about dealing with the Moo Goo Gai Panic.  And his primary conclusion is typical expression of tentativity, as befitting how science is done:

Whereas the models I have presented herein are admittedly unsophisticated, I suggest that an extensive sensitivity analysis be performed using the Imperial College London original model (which is now publicly available on GitHub) or something similar, augmented to evaluate the targeted-exposure approach to population immunity (as presented herein), in tandem with a localized trigger-based approach to protecting local critical care resources (as presented conceptually in both the Imperial College and Harvard models and also detailed here).

And here’s the gist of it:  We may have screwed up.  Badly.  Yesterday we saw the Swedish model, and how they had good results by protecting the most vulnerable – a small minority of the populace – and letting the virus run its course to develop herd immunity.  Instead we have locked down our population at large and shut down the economy.

What a cluster-fuck.

I’d love to see a more comprehensive analysis done as Dr. Trost suggests, but I suspect that won’t happen; if it yields similar results to the preliminary work here, there would be a considerable backlash against the Top Men who put our country into stasis and reduced a roaring economy to a Great Depression-type shambles.  And those Top Men aren’t anxious to have that happen.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to The Other McCain (welcome back to Wombat-socho!) Pirate’s Cove, Whores and Ale and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links!

I stumbled across this (pdf) recently from The Lancet, which is one of the most reliable and reputable medical journals in existence.  Excerpt:

Many countries (and members of their press media) have marvelled at Sweden’s relaxed strategy in the face of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic: schools and most workplaces have remained open, and police officers were not checking one’s errands in the street. Severe critics have described it as Sweden sacrificing its (elderly) citizens to quickly reach herd immunity. The death toll has surpassed our three closest neighbours, Denmark, Norway, and Finland, but the mortality remains lower than in the UK, Spain, and Belgium.

It has become clear that a hard lockdown does not protect old and frail people living in care homes—a population the lockdown was designed to protect. Neither does it decrease mortality from COVID-19, which is evident when comparing the UK’s experience with that of other European countries.

Read the whole thing at the link – it’s only about a page – and check the references, which I haven’t reproduced here.  Here’s the author’s background: 

Johan Giesecke (born 9 September 1949) is a Swedish physician and Professor Emeritus at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

Seems like he’d have some knowledge of the topic.

And honestly, for once, a European nation has a model we may actually want to emulate.  The Swedes didn’t lock down their economy; they focused resources on protecting the vulnerable while allowing the inevitable spread of a virus that in the majority of the population is either asymptomatic or causes only minor illness.

We may be moving in that direction to some extent, as the country slowly starts to re-open, but I’m afraid the re-opening plans – some done in defiance of state “authorities” – may be too little too late; it may take a decade to recover from the economic damage that has already been done.  The Imperial City’s response to the economic fallout has been to print trillions of inflation-inducing dollars to throw at the problem.

Dr. Giesecke concludes:

In summary, COVID-19 is a disease that is highly infectious and spreads rapidly through society. It is often quite symptomless and might pass unnoticed, but it also causes severe disease, and even death, in a pro-portion of the population, and our most important task is not to stop spread, which is all but futile, but to concentrate on giving the unfortunate victims optimal care.

The U.S. and, indeed, most of the world, went down the other fork in that road, and our children and grandchildren will pay the price for it.