All posts by Animal

Rule Five Balkanization Friday

Should we break up the USA?  I’d prefer not to, but here from the Mises Institute is another idea.  Excerpt:

Some of our assumptions are so deeply embedded that we cannot perceive them ourselves.

Case in point: everyone takes for granted that it’s normal for a country of 320 million to be dictated to by a single central authority. The only debate we’re permitted to have is who should be selected to carry out this grotesque and inhumane function.

Here’s the debate we should be having instead: what if we simply abandoned this quixotic mission, and went our separate ways? It’s an idea that’s gaining traction — much too late, to be sure, but better late than never.

For a long time it seemed as if the idea of secession was unlikely to take hold in modern America. Schoolchildren, after all, are told to associate secession with slavery and treason. American journalists treat the idea as if it were self-evidently ridiculous and contemptible (an attitude they curiously do not adopt when faced with US war propaganda, I might add).

And yet all it took was the election of Donald Trump for the alleged toxicity of secession to vanish entirely. The left’s principled opposition to secession and devotion to the holy Union went promptly out the window on November 8, 2016. Today, about one in three Californians polled favors the Golden State’s secession from the Union.

In other words, some people seem to be coming to the conclusion that the whole system is rotten and should be abandoned.

As far as how this would happen?  Author Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. doesn’t offer a mechanism, but he offers a reason:

When I say go our separate ways, I don’t mean “the left” goes one way and “the right” goes another. I mean the left goes one way and everyone else — rather a diverse group indeed — goes another. People who live for moral posturing, to broadcast their superiority over everyone else, and to steamroll differences in the name of “diversity,” should go one way, and everyone who rolls his eyes at all this should go another.

“No people and no part of a people,” said Ludwig von Mises nearly one hundred years ago, “shall be held against its will in a political association that it does not want.” So much wisdom in that simple sentiment. And so much conflict and anguish could be avoided if only we’d heed it.

What’s interesting is that the talk about secession these days is coming mostly from disaffected California lefties, disappointed that Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I lost the election they expected her to win.  A few surveys have up to one-third of Californians thinking secession is a good idea.

They should ask South Carolina how that worked out for them.

Seriously, the Rockwell article in discussion here is based on the libertarian argument that no people should be held in a political arrangement against their will, quoting as it does Ludiwg von Mises himself.  But the problem is that libertarians are a pretty small minority of the population, and when those 1/3 of Californians discover all of the problems they’d face in an actual secession attempt, they’d almost certainly change their minds.

I’ve discussed the idea of the United States balkanization before.  It will probably happen someday, in some form.  But I doubt it will be any time soon, no matter who is sitting at this moment in the Imperial Mansion.

Animal’s Daily Second Amendment News

One state at a time – New Hampshire now has Constitutional Carry.  Excerpt:

“New Hampshire now joins an ever-growing number of states in passing constitutional carry,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. “Despite the best efforts of Michael Bloomberg-funded groups to distort the truth, the New Hampshire legislature and governor stood strong for freedom.”

Sununu’s signature on SB 12 makes New Hampshire the 12th state to allow constitutional carry.  New Hampshire joins its northern New England neighbors Maine and Vermont, both of which allow constitutional carry.  

Sponsored by Sen. Jeb Bradley (R-3), Senate Bill 12 will repeal the license requirement to carry a concealed pistol or revolver, unless a person is otherwise prohibited.  For those who choose to obtain licenses, SB 12 will also increase the length of time in which a license is valid from four years to five years.

 It’s accepted by many, if not most, in the shooting sports community that the Second Amendment is our carry permit.  That’s probably not the most accurate way to interpret the Second Amendment, though; like all the other items in the Bill of Rights, the Second enumerates a natural right that the government is not allowed to interfere with; it in no way permits us to do anything.  It actually refutes the need for a permit.

But, as the Bard said, the law is frequently an ass, and the fact is that in most states today you can be locked up for bearing arms without government permission.  But the momentum seems to be moving in the right direction now.  New Hampshire is just the latest on the list.

Hopefully national CCW reciprocity will be next.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Oh, for the luvva Pete.  This comes to us from Tucker Carlson’s The Daily Caller;  College Writing Center Declares American Grammar A ‘Racist,’ ‘Unjust Language Structure’.  The stupid, it is strong with this one.  Excerpt:

An “antiracist” poster in a college writing center insists American grammar is “racist” and an “unjust language structure,” promising to prioritize rhetoric over “grammatical ‘correctness.’”

The poster, written by the director, staff, and tutors of the University of Washington, Tacoma’s Writing Center, states “racism is the normal condition of things,” declaring that it permeates rules, systems, expectations, in courses, school and society.

“Linguistic and writing research has shown clearly for many decades that there is no inherent ‘standard’ of English,” proclaims the writing center’s statement. “Language is constantly changing. These two facts make it very difficult to justify placing people in hierarchies or restricting opportunities and privileges because of the way people communicate in particular versions of English.”

In the introduction to its “commitment” section, the Tacoma Writing Center pledges to “listen and look carefully and compassionately for ways we may unintentionally perpetuate racism or social injustice, actively engaging in antiracist practices” before making nine specific promises to students.

“We promise to emphasize the importance of rhetorical situations over grammatical ‘correctness’ in the production of texts,” announces the poster. “We promise to challenge conventional word choices and writing explanations.”

These people should really see a proctologist about the gigantic sticks they obviously have jammed up their asses.

Look, every written language has rules.  Mrs. Animal is poly-lingual, speaking German, French, Japanese and a little Spanish; she knowledgeably informs me that the hardest thing about a new language is learning the various rules of grammar, without which you’ll have a hard time making yourself understood.  I am most emphatically not poly-lingual, unless you count being able to struggle along in conversational German if I’m speaking with someone who doesn’t talk too quickly.  But I do know that language, in order to transmit ideas clearly and unambiguously, needs to have rules.

Those rules are called spelling and grammar.

 It’s disheartening to see the horrible written communications skills demonstrated by so many people today.  I do not exclude people my age and older in this, but the younger generation, particularly in various internet venues, seem to be pretty bad, and I can tell you in part why – none of my four kids, who went to school in the 80s, 90s and early 2000s, were taught the parts of speech, or how to diagram a sentence.  They were not taught the basic rules of English grammar.

When you remonstrate one of these folks, they tend to react loudly, accusing you of being a grammar Nazi (of which I cheerfully plead guilty) and asking why, if you can make out what they are saying, that their presentation should matter.

Well, here’s why:  On an internet forum, how you present yourself in writing is the only thing readers have with which to judge your intelligence.  A bad argument presented well is often more persuasive than a good argument presented badly.

The folks at the Tacoma Writing Center are presenting an absolutely horrible argument and doing it not only poorly, but stupidly.  The jackwagons proposing this travesty have no business working in education at any level.

Animal’s Daily Environmental Mess News

There’s already a huge environmental disaster up at the site of the proposed Dakota Access pipeline.  It’s awful, an actual, for-real disaster – and it was caused by the protesters, claiming to be “environmentalists,” who camped there to protest the pipeline.  Excerpt:

North Dakota’s Republican governor issued an order Wednesday night mandating that all those occupying campsites along the Dakota Access Pipeline evacuate the area immediately.

Gov. Doug Burgum issued the order to accelerate cleanup efforts to avoid a possible ecological disaster from the 4.5 million pounds of garbage protesters have left behind. Unseasonably warm temperatures, the note states, prompted the need for protesters to evacuate the flood-plain areas in Morton and Sioux counties by no later than Feb. 22.

“All persons occupying or residing in the evacuation area shall immediately begin efforts to remove their person property and possessions from evacuated area,” Burgum’s order states. It allows for protesters to return and remove the rest of their things once temperatures drop and the area is cleared.

Sanitation crews have been working around-the-clock to clean up the debris from the DAPL construction site.

Yes, True Believers, you read that right; 4.5 million pounds of garbage was left behiind by “environmental” protestors.  They are concerned that the pipeline will damage the environment – even though there are millions of miles of pipelines in the country and those millions of miles have a very, very good safety record.  But they are obviously not concerned that their own mountains of garbage won’t cause such damage.

I’d be willing to bet there are plenty of used condoms and other body-fluid-bearing items in the trash as well, adding a spice of possible biohazard to the mix.

Remember the mounds of garbage left behind after Tea Party rallies?  No, neither do I.  Everyone involved with those events has observed that the Tea Partiers, agree with their agenda or not, were at least considerate of the grounds on which they rallied; they generally left their areas at least as clean as they found them.

Not so the “environmentalists” protesting the Dakota Access pipeline, who left behind them an actual environmental catastrophe.

The irony, it is strong with this one.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Our undying gratitude once more to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the President’s Day Rule Five links!  Be sure to check out the extensive totty compendiums at the links.

 Now, on to some science – new technology, it seems, might make brain implants practical.  Not surprisingly, this news comes out of MIT.  Excerpt:

Researchers at Harvard Medical School will use a new kind of implant that will go beneath the skull but can rest on the surface of an animal’s brain, instead of penetrating inside the organ. An array of microscopic coils inside the hair-like device can generate powerful, highly targeted magnetic fields to induce electrical activity at particular locations in the brain tissue underneath. The implant will also be tested when placed inside brain tissue. 

The device will be used to stimulate the visual cortex of the monkeys to try and re-create the activity normally triggered by signals from the eyes—creating the sensation of sight without the eyes’ input. Ultimately, the goal is to use the implant to convert signals from a camera into brain activity. Unlike conventional electrodes, the coils’ effectiveness shouldn’t degrade over time. Magnetic fields aren’t impeded by tissue forming around an implant as electric currents are.

I’m certain this tech will never be used for nefarious purposes, of course.

 While this technology might (literally!) allow the deaf to hear and the blind to see, it’s unclear whether it could be used to, say, restore motor functions.  I would tend to think it’s possible, but back when I studied biology my area of focus was behavior, not neurology, so I will be the first to admit my understanding here is limited.

Still.  It’s an amazing modern era we live in.  At least in the Western world, it is; large parts of the globe are still struggling out of the Dark Ages.

Maybe we can come up with a brain implant for that?

Saturday Evening Culture

I think I like this better than Donna Summer’s original version.  This is the percussion-heavy Blue Man Group with early 2000’s alt-band VenusHum – lead singer Annette Strean has some pretty good pipes.  Enjoy.

Mrs. Animal and I have seen the Blue Man Group twice, once the full show in Las Vegas, once the road show with the aforementioned VenusHum; in fact we saw this very song performed.  They’re worth checking out.

Rule Five Asian Alliances Friday

Last weekend, President Trump spent the weekend with the one man that represents America’s best and truest ally in the Pacific save only Australia – Japan.  The Japan Times had this to say about their meeting.  Excerpt:

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe might have got exactly what he wanted in his summit with U.S. President Donald Trump. Abe’s three-day visit to the United States, the first since the inauguration of the Trump administration, was marked by friendly overtones and included two nights of dinners in a row and golfing in Palm Beach, Florida, where the president hosted the Japanese leader at his winter estate. Trump gave assurances to Abe over the bilateral security alliance while remaining silent over his earlier aggressive criticism of Japan over trade and currency issues.

But if Trump had merely tamed his protectionist pitch to play up his friendly rapport with Abe, those issues may have just been set aside to be taken up later in the “bilateral dialogue framework” that the two leaders agreed to create to discuss trade and investment matters. A close aide to Abe reportedly said the two leaders confirmed that the trade disputes of the 1980s were a “thing of the past.” But Trump’s remarks before the meeting had been enough to raise the specter of the bitter trade friction between the two countries. It’s not clear whether Abe succeeded in changing the minds of the U.S. president during the talks. The government needs to hold Japan’s ground in the upcoming dialogue.

But here’s the real money (hah) quote – bear in mind this article is written from Japan’s point of view:

What’s worrisome about Trump’s views on trade issues is that they may not be shaped by a correct understanding of the relevant facts. In singling out Japan — along with China — as countries that engage in trade practices that are “not fair” to American firms during his earlier talks with U.S. business leaders, the president reportedly claimed that countries such as Japan “charge a lot of tax” on U.S. products and said that “if they’re going to charge tax to our countries — if as an example, we sell a car into Japan and they do things to us that make it impossible to sell cars in Japan. … It’s not fair.” Separately, he effectively charged that Japan and China manipulate the exchange rates to drive their currencies lower against the dollar — on which he blamed the U.S. trade deficits.

Japan needs the United States, probably more than we need them.  I’ve done a fair amount of business there, and all three companies I’ve worked with sell over half of their output to Americans and American companies.   That makes us their most important market.

It’s odd to my WW2-generation parents – they’ve told me so themselves – but it’s in America’s best interests to maintain a solid working relationship with Japan, not least of which is because of the stare-down our island allies are having with China.  Two major trade partners are snapping at each other, which puts President Trump in a damned delicate situation.

Here’s what I found encouraging about last weekend’s events, at least as far as American-Japanese relations are concerned – the President and Prime Minister Abe appear to get along very well personally, playing golf together and by all appearances enjoying a fine dinner with spouses and aides at Trump’s Florida resort.

Why is that encouraging?  Because of something I’ve learned over almost fifteen years of self-employment:  People do business with people they like.  A good personal relationship with Prime Minister Abe will make it easier for President Trump, a man of business, to do business with Japan.

I confess to some selfish motive here.  I’ve done business in Japan, have lived and worked there, and I have had and always will have a very real fondness for the place and it’s people.  I want to do business there again.  I hope President Trump and Prime Minister Abe agree on a trade deal to make that possible.

Animal’s Daily Pale Blue Dot News

The Future.

In 1946, we got our first look at the Earth from space, thanks to a war-surplus V2 rocket repurposed by the U.S. Army.  On Valentine’s Day in 1990, Voyager One took an iconic photo – of Earth as a tiny pale blue dot in the vastness of space.   Excerpt:

We first glimpsed Earth’s curvature in 1946, via a repurposed German V-2 rocket that flew 65 miles above the surface. Year-by-year, we climbed a little higher, engineering a means to comprehend the magnitude of our home.

In 1968, Apollo 8 lunar module pilot William Anders captured the iconic Earthrise photo. We contemplated the beauty of our home.

But on Valentine’s Day 27 years ago, Voyager 1, from 4 billion miles away, took one final picture before switching off its camera forever. In the image, Earth, Carl Sagan said, was merely “a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” So we pondered the insignificance of our home. The image inspired Sagan to write his book “The Pale Blue Dot,” and it continues to cripple human grandiosity.

And, about the Voyagers:

There aren’t any space missions like the Voyagers on the docket for the future, but both spacecraft continue beaming back data going on 40 years and counting. Voyager 1 became the first human-made thing to enter interstellar space, back in 2012 when it passed into the heliosphere, the bubble surrounding our solar system. Voyager 2 is expected to pierce the heliosphere around 2020.

Think about that.  There is an object built by human hands, bearing human information, hurtling into the unfathomable deeps of interstellar space, even as you read these words.  In a few years its brother will follow into those empty reaches.

Some day, I’d like to think humans will follow – maybe in a colossal generation ship, maybe in a constant-acceleration starship with a crew in deep-sleep, maybe in some faster-than-light craft driven by some as-yet un-imagined technology.  I’m pretty sure I won’t live to see it, but I would love to be proven wrong.

As a part-time science-fiction writer, I’ve made some guesses as to the shape the future might take.  I’m fifty-five now; I can expect to live to see thirty or forty more years of that future.   I am and have been convinced that our destiny lay out there somewhere, far from this tiny little blue-white ball.

Oh, and here’s the photo.  That’s us in the pale sunbeam on the right; as Carl Sagan said:  “Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.”  I can’t add anything to that; not a word.

Death and Taxes?

The GOP – well, at least one Congressman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) – is proposing to overhaul our onerous tax structure with a plan that actually ain’t half bad.  Excerpt:

“We’re trying to fundamentally change the code,” Nunes told host Stuart Varney. “We’re getting rid of the income tax. We’re doing something that hasn’t been done in 100 years.”

“We’re moving to a consumption system — to a cash flow system,” Nunes said. He explained what that would look like in practice: “You take your income minus your expenses, and whatever’s left over, you pay a tax on that.”

He added that “this is a very simple system, yet it’s a dramatic departure from the confusing tax code that we have now.”

Nunes argued that the changes would increase economic growth and bring jobs back to America so we can be “the most transparent, business-friendly nation state in the world.”

He said that under the new system, the biggest winners would be wage earners and small businesses because “they will be on the same playing field as other businesses in this country.”

Speaking as one of those small businesses, I like the idea.  It might not be my ideal plan, but it would be a good start.  Like lots of small businesses, ours operates as an LLC, meaning the business income is in effect our personal income – so we pay personal taxes on the proceeds of our business.  This bill would eliminate that distinction, simplifying the tax code for everyone and accomplishing one of the GOP’s stated goals – broadening and simplifying the tax code.

Hopefully it will result in every working adult having some skin in the game, but I doubt that will be the case.  I’d like to see everyone having some skin in the game, but in today’s environment, that may be too much to hope for.