Category Archives: Deep Thoughts

Deep thoughts, omphaloskepsis, and other random musings.

Rule Five Golden Years Friday

There’s a reason they call them the Golden Years.  I speak from personal experience; Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. have been enjoying our empty-nester years a great deal, and while I’m still working well over the normal forty a week, we have managed to insert some travel into the schedules, as you’ve seen here.  These are wonderful years; our kids are grown and doing well, business is good, our health is good, and our personal world has sort of come back around to the two of us; right now, life is damned good.

Turns out that we’re not alone.  Excerpts, with my comments:

A large percentage of surveyed older adults finally have the time to travel and see the world. In all, 39% have spent more than 20 days on vacation over just the past year. Only 27% of adults under 35 could say the same. In fact, many older respondents agreed they’re happy they waited until their later years to do most of their traveling, as now they are better equipped both financially and emotionally to really enjoy different parts of the world.

I’m still working and will for some years yet; a big part of what gives my life meaning is in the production of value and, frankly, money’s a great motivator.  But Mrs. A and I love to travel, and we’re finding more time to fit in at least long weekends in interesting locations.

The majority of surveyed older adults are also enjoying good mental health as well. A significant 70% said they are feeling happy and content on a mental level, compared to 59% of adults under 35. Similarly, only 30% of the older respondents admitted to frequent bouts of stress or anxiety, while 63% of adults under 35 often feel stressed, and 60% battle anxiety.

For us, “happy and content” is something of an understatement.  Our only niggling source of dissatisfaction lies in the mess that has been made of Colorado, our adopted home state (I grew up in Iowa, Mrs. A in Maryland) that we grew to love.  But we planned for that, and in a few more years, we’ll move north, which will make our level on the “happy and content” scale move pretty close to max.

All in all, it’s clear that older adults are, to put it simply, very happy. For instance, 72% are comfortable with their age, 64% are content in life, and 53% have never felt more confident. Moreover, another 53% said they feel much younger than what their date of birth says!

All of the above.  And here’s the real kicker:

Of course, with old age comes wisdom. Respondents were asked if they had any advice for younger generations, and their most frequent response was always make time for your loved ones. Other popular answers included travel as much as possible, don’t be afraid of new things, don’t change to please other people, and try not to worry about the small stuff.

I’d agree with all of that, and add a few things:

Be available for your kids as they make their way through their own lives.  Empty-nesterhood is great, but you never, ever stop being a parent.

Never stop producing.  The value you contribute may be in writing, volunteer work, whatever, but sloth is the enemy of contentment.

Never lose your sense of wonder.  The world is huge, amazing, full of adventure.  See as much as you can.  Do as much as  you can.  When I was a young man, I decided that I would make sure all my sins were sins of commission, not sins of omission.  I think I’ve done that.  Don’t ever leave anything out.  No regrets!

These are the Golden Years.  It’s a great place to be in life.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

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

Moving on:  The impeachment process is over (for now) and President Trump has been acquitted.  About the Democratic case against the President, I can only say this:

Utter horseshit.

This was a purely partisan exercise, driven by a healthy helping of Trump Derangement Syndrome and anger over the 2016 trouncing of the Anointed One, Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I, Dowager Empress of Chappaqua, who ran promising to double down on the Obama policies and on a two-fold plank of “it’s my turn, peasants!” and “I have a vagina.”

House Democrats assembled a tissue of whoppers, passed them through on a party-line vote, and then dithered for weeks before sending them to the Senate, where even some GOP wet-pants types who had been going wobbly on the question of additional witnesses saw the result and voted against any further testimony.   The “Obstruction of Congress” was a joke, wherein the House filed articles of impeachment as a first, not a last, resort in response to the Executive employing a Constitutionally defined executive privilege that is a key tenet of the system of checks and balances.  No court judgement was sought; the House rushed ahead to impeachment, driven in part by the Crazy Eyes “Squad” idiots, and now have established a new precedent, that the response to any disagreement on policy may be escalated to impeachment.

The whole thing has, honestly, been a fiasco.

I’ve never been a fan of Donald Trump the man, neither during his public tenure as a prolific developer of resorts and golf courses, his reality-TV stints, his Twitter tirades or even his primary campaign.  But increasingly I find myself rooting for the guy.  In the midst of all the attacks, the impeachment, the non-stop, almost 100% negative media attention, he has been deregulating, making trade deals, and overseeing a renaissance of our economy.  He may be a boor personally, but that’s mattering less and less – to me and, apparently, to plenty of other folks.

In my nearly sixty years, only two Presidents have failed of re-election, that being the senior Bush in 1992 and Carter in 1980.  Before that, Herbert Hoover in 1932!  Unless something dramatic happens between now and November, the President will cruise to re-election.  In carrying out this shallow, blatantly partisan impeachment, the Democrats handed President Trump a huge re-election club to swing, and oh, by the way, energized the GOP and plenty of right-leaning independents (and even libertarians, like me) like never before.  And when Donald John Trump is re-elected this fall, the RHEEEEE from his opponents will be a sight to see.

Animal’s Daily Backfiring News

Denver’s own Mike Rosen explains how far-left protestors harm their own causes.  Excerpt:

But activists who engage in unnecessary, theatrical, civil disobedience are oblivious to their public perception as unhinged extremists. They’re driven by a delusional, self-indulgent conviction that only they are right and any who oppose their agenda are unworthy, irrelevant and evil. They believe they’re doing, if not God’s work, at least Gaia’s ─ the Goddess of Mother Earth. For them, protesting is gratifying and fun. They feel like it empowers them. Getting arrested is a badge of honor and pride, which earns them another civil disobedience battle-ribbon to pin on their chest.

Diana Bray could be their poster girl. A champion of civil disobedience and a dogmatic “climate activist” who brags about her participation in an anti-Keystone Pipeline protest in Washington, where people locked themselves to the White House fence. She’s also a lesser figure in the crowd of Democrats seeking the party’s nomination to unseat Sen. Corey Gardner. Thirty-eight of the Capitol protestors were arrested and charged with trespassing, disrupting a lawful assembly and obstruction of police officers. True to form, the shamelessly liberal Denver Post showcased Bray, running her guest commentary under the headline: “Drop charges against Polis protestors who fought peacefully for change.” And they ran it twice, Jan. 16 and 19!

“Fighting peacefully” is an oxymoron. Resisting arrest isn’t a peaceful act. Yes, lawful demonstrations are a legitimate activity, protected by the Constitution. But civil disobedience isn’t protected when it’s uncivil and unlawful, like trespassing, infringing on the rights of others and resisting arrest. These protestors broke the law and ought to pay the consequences, like a steep fine or jail time, which they should eagerly do as martyrs for their cause, lending even more pride to their protest battle-ribbon. (Predictably, all they’ll get is a slap on the wrist.)

Here’s the thing; when your opponent is in the process of doing something stupid, let them.  Read the entire article, by all means; Mike is a treasure, and all of his columns are worth the read.

The types of protestors the esteemed Mr. Rosen describes – and let’s be honest, there are stupid, strident protestors across the spectrum, although of late the Left seems to have the lion’s share – do their own professed causes inestimable harm just by doing their thing.

I once toyed with the idea of starting a business offering protestors for hire.  I jokingly described to Mrs. Animal an imagined conversation with a media type doing a story on my service:

Interviewer:  “So, you offer protestors for hire.  For what causes?”

Me:  “Any causes.  I don’t care what the cause is.  As long as no laws are being broken or no incitement to violence, we’re good to go.”

I:  “Really?  You’ll provide protestors for anything?”

M:  “Sure.  Remember that big protest at the Capitol last Sunday?  People screaming at each other from across Civic Center Park?  Those were my people.”

I:  “Which people?”

M:  “All of them.  Both sides.”

I:  “Do you have any principles at all?”

M:  “In my business?  I have one – ‘did their check clear?’  Other than that, hell no.”

I’d probably never do it; there are too many causes I just couldn’t stomach.  But it would offer some great entertainment.

Animal’s Daily Brain Development News

Before we move on, go check out the latest in my Thirty-Something RIfle Cartridges series over at Glibertarians!

Now: Here is Complete Colorado’s Rob Natelson on another shot at the graduated age of majority.  Excerpt:

On December 20, President Trump signed legislation purporting to impose a single national age of 21 for selling tobacco products.

Obviously, the measure reduces the freedom of millions of Americans who are legally adults in almost every other respect—including (correctly or not) the right to vote. Moreover, setting minimum consumption ages is not a power the Constitution grants the federal government. The Constitution reserves it to the states.

The issue here, of course, is not whether tobacco products are safe. They clearly are not. The issue here is whether our Constitution and the freedoms it protects are safe. As this episode demonstrates, they clearly are not.

Regulating local sale and consumer use of products is an exercise of what lawyers call the “police power.” This phrase does not refer to your local police officers; it is an older use of “police” to mean “policy.” The police power is authority to adopt regulations to protect public health, safety, morals, and the general welfare. Under the Constitution, the states retain broad police power, with constitutionally-imposed exceptions.

By contrast, the Constitution grants the federal government only certain enumerated (listed) powers, including police power within Washington, D.C. and other federal enclaves and the federal territory. Outside those areas—as the Supreme Court has reiterated—the federal government has no general police power.

This is why when advocates of Prohibition sought to ban alcohol use, they did so by constitutional amendment.

Did you get that?  The Imperial government has no authority to meddle with what ages people are allowed to buy tobacco.  In the past, where drinking ages and so forth were concerned, the Imperial City set age expectations in a different manner – through extortion.  When the Imperial age limit of 21 was decided for alcohol, for example, the Imperial City threatened to withhold highway funding for states that did not meekly submit.

In an ideal world, Washington wouldn’t have this kind of hold over the states.  State highways should be state business, and if we are going to have a national highway net – as in, the U.S. highways and the interstate highway system – then either the Imperial City pays for them, or the states pay for construction and maintenance within their borders – no payment of tax money into the Imperial government to be doled back out piecemeal and oh, by the way, used as a cudgel to force recalcitrant states into submission with Imperial whims.

I’m notoriously irritated by the idiotic graduated-age-of-majority in our country, but I’m far more irritated by this kind of high-handed Imperial extortion.

Rule Five Cultural Regions Friday

Ever wondered what the United States would look like if it was broken up into several different nations, by cultural and not necessarily geographical lines?  Well, and of Business Insider may have some thoughts on that.

I found this interesting; this is the article’s map of North America, broken down by cultural regions (image taken directly from the linked article).

Excerpts, with my comments:

In his fourth book, “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures in North America,” award-winning author Colin Woodard identifies 11 distinct cultures that have historically divided the US.

“The country has been arguing about a lot of fundamental things lately including state roles and individual liberty,” Woodard, a Maine native who won the 2012 George Polk Award for investigative reporting, told Business Insider. “[But] in order to have any productive conversation on these issues,” he added, “you need to know where you come from.”

You also have to have some idea where you’re going and why; differing visions on that score are a big part of what the authors point out next.

Woodard also believes the nation is likely to become more polarized, even though America is becoming a more diverse place every day. He says this is because people are “self-sorting.”

“People choose to move to places where they identify with the values,”  Woodard says. “Red minorities go south and blue minorities go north to be in the majority. This is why blue states are getting bluer and red states are getting redder and the middle is getting smaller.”

Which self-sorting, I might point out, is a right guaranteed by the Constitution.  But here’s what’s interesting; here are the summaries of the upper Midwest, where I grew up, and the Mountain West, where I live now:

Settled by English Quakers, The Midlands are a welcoming middle-class society that spawned the culture of the “American Heartland.” Political opinion is moderate, and government regulation is frowned upon. Woodard calls the ethnically diverse Midlands “America’s great swing region.” Within the Midlands are parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska.

I have to strongly question any cultural grouping that can claim Iowa and New Jersey share much of anything, culturally.  Iowa is as the article states; mostly moderate politically, and government regulation is mostly frowned on (except where farm subsidies are involved.)   But New Jersey?  Government interference in all matters is welcomed and celebrated, and political opinions are anything but moderate; as evidence, just look at most of their laws and elected officials.

The conservative west. Developed through large investment in industry, yet where inhabitants continue to “resent” the Eastern interests that initially controlled that investment. The Far West spans several states, including Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Nebraska, Kansas, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Oregon, and California.

In the article, the authors point out that “California” as described herein does not include what is called “the Left Coast,” which encompasses Los Angeles, San Francisco, and indeed most of the west coast.  That being the case, this grouping I would broadly agree with; the West in this case also includes Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska.

What all this points up is something I’ve been saying for some years now: The differences dividing the nation today are cultural, and geographical, but not in the sense they were before the 1860-65 war.  Our differences today are geographical in a much finer-grained sense; look at the map, and you’ll see that the divides are largely major urban centers vs. everyone else.

If things ever got really nasty in this cultural clash, the major cities might have some hard lessons coming in how easy it is to eat when the outlying areas get pissed off enough to block trade.  That, folks, would be a damned unpleasant time, and while I think it’s unlikely in the extreme that things escalate to that point…  Well, I wouldn’t want to be in New York, Chicago, Detroit or San Francisco if it did.

Animal’s Daily Colorado News

Near Gore Pass.

I’ve lived in Colorado for a little over thirty years.  I moved to Colorado after coming off active Army duty (the first time) in 1989, because I wanted to live in the Mountain West, and the Denver area presented the best opportunity to find a job.  I don’t regret that move; I never have.  There’s a lot I still love about Colorado.  I love the mountains, the plains, the hunting, fishing, the outdoor opportunities; I love the 300+ days of sunshine a year.  There are many things I still love about Colorado.

This isn’t one of those things.  Excerpt:

In the last 20 years, Colorado’s population has increased by a little more than 1.5 million people. As of 2019, the state had 5.7 million residents.

“I think we’re probably going to get to 5.8 million [people] for 2020,” said Elizabeth Garner, Colorado’s state demographer.

Population growth slowed during the 2008 recession.

Since 2010, however, Colorado has welcomed about 700,000 new residents. On average, the state is growing anywhere from 70,000 to 80,000 people each year.

That said, it experienced a bit of a slow-down in 2019, when the population increased by about 67,000 over the prior year.

“Compared to the year before where we increased by about 80,000 — it’s about 13,000 fewer people in terms of total growth we’ve seen over that time period,” said Garner.

Much of the growth has been concentrated along the Interstate 25 corridor.

“Which is also where we’re creating all of the jobs. So it makes sense where we’re seeing the job growth and population growth,” Garner said.

According to state data, in the last two decades, most newcomers moved to the Front Range (about 91%) and nearly 8% decided to call the Western Slope, home.

For the record, I live an eastern suburb of Denver, which sits at the foot of the Front Range.

To be perfectly candid, Colorado has gone frickin’ nuts.  There always was a bean-and-granola set here, mostly in Boulder and some of the nuttier mountain communities like Aspen and Vail.  But the Denver/Boulder Axis is taking over the state, and the results are becoming more and more uncomfortable.

Look back on the Colorado that was.

Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. have long planned to retire elsewhere – and by elsewhere, I mean Alaska – but we may not wait now until we’re ready to retire.  Our kids that live in Colorado are growing restive as well, as they were raised to appreciate the blessings of liberty, which an increasingly left-leaning state government ever seeks to restrict.

Plenty of folks have told me I should stay, that I should fight for my state.  But part of the fight is knowing when you’re licked.  I think we’ve lost Colorado.  Thirty years ago, Colorado was South Wyoming.  Now it’s East California.  And that’s a shame.  But it’s increasingly looking like it’s time to vote with our feet.

Rule Five 2019 Reflections Friday

It’s hard to believe that 2019 is only a few days from being over.  It seems like we just got here.

The year began on a sad note with the loss of my Mom, only a few months after Dad left us the previous spring.  But my siblings and I chose, instead of mourning, to reflect on and feel good about the long, long, happy lives our parents had together in their seventy-one years of marriage.

And as if to show that the wheel always keeps turning, in October we welcomed a new grandson to the family.  This makes five grandchildren Mrs. Animal and I have to spoil, with the oldest graduating high school in a year and a half.  Grandparenting is, as they say, the revenge we get for having been parents; but I think it’s a lot more than that.  Being Grandpa is one of the more satisfying things I’ve ever done, along with being a Dad; fortunately I learned about both things from the very best.

A few things about 2019 were frustrating.  We spent too much of the year in the leftist’s paradise of New Jersey, although I have to admit I’m kind of fond of Raritan, where are temporary lodgings are located; if only it wasn’t in New Jersey it would be a nice little town.  As a result of this, I wasn’t able to spend as much time at the gun club as I would have liked, and the trips I did get to make out there to the trap stands tell me that my shooting has slipped a little.  I should have more time in 2020 to get back in that groove.

Because of that, there are probably a few high-country trout that lived to swim another day rather than ending up in my stream-side frying pan.  Let’s hope that changes in 2020 as well.

Mrs. Animal have started taking advantage of our empty-nester status to check some boxes off on our travel bucket list.  March saw us in Tokyo for a week; it’s odd that while I’m an unrepentant country boy with very little love for cities, there are a few big cities I have always enjoyed.  Boston is one.  Tokyo is another.  Fortunately Mrs. Animal is competent in conversational Japanese, which makes things a great deal easier.

In July we took advantage of the east coast location and drove up north of Montreal to the little town of Ste. Agnes du Mont in Quebec, up in the Laurentides.  While the fishing was disappointing, the folks were very friendly, the food and beer was great, and the country was beautiful.  Mrs. Animal got to practice her high-school French.  It was fun.  We’d like to go back.

So, looking ahead to this year:  2020 promises to be interesting.

We have some more travel plans laid on; details will follow, so look forward to some insights and stories from some interesting places.  Hint:  Our travelogues will probably include discussions of food and beer.

Loyal sidekick Rat and I are planning a black-powder elk/deer hunt down in southern Colorado this year, somewhere down along the New Mexico border; after last year we decided that a change of scenery was in order, and the September black-powder season comes along with some pretty nice shirt-sleeve weather.

The current project I’m on is going to last a while.  I’m expecting it to last at least through December of 2021, but our current lease on the temporary New Jersey digs ends in May.  We’re hoping that at this time we’ll be able to pull out of there and return home more or less full-time, with me spending maybe a week a month on site.  But I’m a long-time consultant, and one of the reasons I’ve been successful is that I will always do what’s best for the project, rather than what suits my own druthers; so, we’ll see.

In summary:  2019 was pretty good.  2020 promises to be better still.  Mrs. Animal and I both sure hope that every one of you True Believers will have a great 2020; and I do appreciate, very much, all of you.  Thanks for reading (even if you just came for the pretty girls and stuck around to read my ramblings) and thanks for sticking around.  We’ll try to keep up to snuff in 2020 and points beyond.

Happy New Year!

Animal’s Daily Sense of Community News

Before we start, make a note to head to Glibertarians and read the latest in my Allamakee County Chronicles – The Duck Blizzard.

Now then:  Even though I’m no more religious than a cat, I nevertheless found this interesting:  Religion Creates Community.  Excerpt:

So, in response to my students and their ideas, I want to share the findings from a new survey on Community and Society. The survey, published by the American Enterprise Institute, adds another layer to the relationship between religion, community, and empathy, and offers a rebuttal to the misguided proposition that religion plays little to no role in the formation of community. The numbers tell a powerful story, one in which religious adherents of all sorts are, in fact, far more connected and generous than their non-religious counterparts.

For instance, the survey asked a national sample of Americans about their connections to others. One portion queried if respondents felt close to anyone. Among respondents who said religion is important to them, 61 percent said they “often” felt close to others, with only 11 percent saying they rarely or never felt close to anyone. In contrast, an appreciably lower 43 percent of respondents who said religion was not important to them reported that they often felt close to others; 18 percent of these respondents stated that they rarely or never felt close to anyone. An almost identical gap emerged when respondents were asked if they felt “in tune with the people around you.”

Similarly, when asked about empathy and being able to identify and sympathize with others, 46 percent of religiously inclined respondents said they “often” can connect with others who understand them. Only 29 percent of non-religious respondents answered in the same fashion — a 17-point difference.

Now, I’m not going to critique the study; too many such start out to prove a position and use questionable assumptions.  I have no idea if this study is one of those or not and, honestly, I can’t be arsed to figure it out; that’s not the point I want to make.  Instead, first I’ll share an anecdote, then some opinions, which will no doubt be worth every penny you’ve paid for them.

My Mom, as I’ve noted here before, grew up on a small farm during the Depression.  A routine in her family’s life was church on Sunday; Mom never was particularly religious even as a girl, but she looked forward to Sunday mornings as that was often the only time small farm families saw neighbors, relatives, kin that lived only a few miles away but spent the rest of the week busily scratching a living from the earth.

So in that sense, I don’t know as it’s religion so much that built the sense of community they had; it was church. That may be a subtle difference, but it’s still a difference.

I think that any institution that attracts people around a common cause, belief, ethic or interest can foster a very similar sense of community.  My gun club, for me, serves a similar purpose.  When I spend a Saturday morning at the club to shoot a couple rounds of trap, I often spend more time in the clubhouse gassing with the other members than I do shooting, and that’s by choice; we’re all there because we have something in common, we are attracted to the Saturday morning trap range because we like to shoot, we like fine shotguns, and we like the camaraderie and the friendly joshing over who is and isn’t shooting well that day.

We’re social animals.  We need to be around other people, and generally enjoy being around people with whom we share something; age, background, interests and, yes, religion.  It’s natural and normal.  I’m no different.  While I’m not religious – and I differ from too many atheists in this – that doesn’t mean I don’t understand the value religion has in many people’s lives, and if it brings them peace and well-being in addition to this sense of community, well, that’s great.

It’s great to be part of a community.