Category Archives: Deep Thoughts

Deep thoughts, omphaloskepsis, and other random musings.

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 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.

Valentine’s Day, Early

In 1947, a young man brought flowers to a young woman, for their first Valentine’s Day as a couple.  A month later, they were married.

Today, 70 years later, that man has not missed a Valentine’s Day.  Today, that man – the Old Man, my Dad – brought my Mom her 70th bunch of Valentine’s Day flowers.  He’s 93, she’s 88, five kids, twelve grandchildren, thirteen great-grandchildren, and they still hold hands.

This, True Believers, is what love looks like; yes, this is what love looks like.

Rule Five Citizenship Friday

I found this interesting; Theodore Roosevelt Quotes on Citizenship.  Excerpt:

Enter the words of Theodore Roosevelt. Below you’ll find a small treasury of excerpts from some of the addresses he gave during his lifetime. When you look at anthologies of all his speeches, you find that the themes he hits in these selections were the ones he offered, with only slight alterations, over and over and over again, in every town and city he visited on country-crossing whistle stop tours. You’ll likely be surprised to find how much they resonate, and yet how almost foreign this kind of rhetoric sounds. One finds it impossible to imagine any modern politician speaking this way — using this lost language of virtue, and charging citizens towards both noble ideals and practical common sense.

TR’s words call to us from the dust — challenge us to revive what we haven’t even fully realized we’re missing, and to take responsibility for that which we claim to loathe in politics.

During this election, there has been plenty of head-shaking and tsk-tsking; all that seems foul is the fault of that “other” party, those “other” people who do not share one’s values. Or the problem is the poor slate of candidates, all of whom the average voter finds repugnant to varying degrees. Yet a people invariably gets exactly the candidates it deserves, and they emerge not from one segment of the population, but from the cultural milieu to which every single individual, on every side of the aisle, contributes.

Here are a few gems from the Bull Moose himself:

No law will ever make a coward brave, a fool wise or a weakling strong. All the law can do is to shape things that no injustice shall be done by one to another and so that each man shall be given the chance to show the stuff that is in him.”

The very last thing that an intelligent and self-respecting member of a democratic community should do is to reward any public man because that public man says he will get the private citizen something to which this private citizen is not entitled, or will gratify some emotion or animosity which this private citizen ought not to possess.”

Remember that the greatness of the fathers becomes to the children a shameful thing if they use it only as an excuse for inaction instead of as a spur to effort for noble aims.

We live in a rough world, and good work in it can be done only by those who are not afraid to step down into the hurly burly to do their part in the dust and smoke of the arena. The man who is a good man, but who stays at home in his own parlor, is of small use. It is easy enough to be good, if you lead the cloistered life, which is absolutely free from temptation to do evil because there is no chance to do it.”

But here’s the real kicker, one of my favorite quotes from the man who has long been one of my personal heroes:

The most successful politician is he who says what the people are thinking most often in the loudest voice.”

Think on that quote for a moment.  Isn’t that what we just saw happen last fall?  One man stood out in the 2016 Presidential election by giving voice, roughly, crudely and loudly, to what (obviously) a large enough plurality of voters were thinking – and that man now sits in the Imperial Mansion.

It’s probable – nay, likely – that a man of TR’s caliber would not today subject himself to the non-stop scrutiny and abuse that constitutes public life today.  And that’s a shame, especially when you look at the general run of pols we have in the halls of power at this juncture; it would be hard to name a larger body of nitwits, poltroons and nincompoops that those that infest the halls of Congress today.

We still have Teddy’s words and deeds as a reminder.  Would that more people took them to heart.

Rule Five Inauguration Day Friday

Programming note:  This post was finalized and scheduled last night, as this morning I have departed early to drive west, from Denver to Silicon Valley via Las Vegas.  There I will spend the next 6-12 months helping a Valley company get their Quality Management ducks all in a row, and if I were a religious man I would add “and may God have mercy on my soul.”  There are few places on the planet where I fit in less than Californey, and the Bay Area is one of the nuttiest environs in a nutty state.

But still, as I’m fond of pointing out, they pay me to go where the work is, not where the fun is.

Moving right along:  It’s Trump Day!  At noon EST today, The Donald takes the reins of power from outgoing President Obama – the very reins he pretty much grabbed from the lamest of lame ducks some time ago.  Today’s ceremonies just make it official.  But it’s significant, as this heralds another peaceful transition of power, one that goes back to when George Washington peacefully left office in 1797, handed the reins of power over to John Adams and went back to his farm, making the world’s kings, queens, emperors and potentates let out a collective “…what the fuck?”

Note that qualifier:  “Peaceful” transition of power.  It may be technically peaceful, but it remains to be seen how peaceful the Imperial capital will be while the ceremonies take place.  Notorious dissembler and blowpig Micheal Moore has promised to lead a protest, and an unprecedented number of Democratic pols are protesting by eschewing the inaugural festivities.

One could apply the term “sore loser,” but by all means let us be generous and apply the benefit of the doubt, that they are being sincere in their convictions, no matter how misguided.

So, what shall we expect to see in this brave new world, with our unexpected, unprecedented and somewhat surreal real-estate mogul/developer/reality TV star President?  Here are some tidbits:

As I’ve been saying for a while now, it’s going to be an interesting four years – hell, it’s going to be an interesting first 100 days, traditionally that magical interval in which a new President expends a bunch of political capital to get agenda items implemented while the blush is still on the rose.

Here’s where it’s going to be different this time, True Believers; this rose has no blush.  Never did, never will.  The Donald won the GOP nomination over the objections of much of his own party, and won election (handily) in what a lot of folks, yr. obdt. included, saw as an unexpected upset.  Most of the legacy media makes little effort to conceal their contempt for The Donald, and the feeling is certainly mutual.

But if he follows through on some of his stated positions – tax rate cuts, repairing the ACA, reducing regulation, and if we can persuade him to maybe eliminate a few unnecessary Imperial agencies, we may just have a few pretty prosperous years ahead.  Cross your fingers!  It’s going to be an exciting ride.

Animal’s Daily Professional Protester News

Tomorrow’s inauguration of The Donald promises to be rancorous, with plenty of the usual suspects showing up to protest.  In recent years, one of the more common political movement descriptions  has been “astroturfing.”  Why astroturf?  It’s fake grass, of course – and the astroturfers are guilty of setting up fake grass-roots movements, using a very few, very loud people to make their case.

A comment I made the other day on this story got me to thinking, though.  Might there be a business opportunity here?  Providing protestors on demand, say, for a variety of causes?  Maybe covering both sides of an issue at the same protest?  Reproduced below is a hypothetical interview I posted at the link, between an unnamed interviewer and the protest organizer:

Interviewer:  “So, you will supply protesters on demand?”
Protest Organizer:  “Sure. As many as you like.”
I:  “For what causes?”
PO:  “Oh, any cause. Any cause at all.”
I:  “Any cause?”
PO:  “Sure. Remember that big fracas at the President’s press conference last week? All the people in the street screaming and throwing things at each other?”
I:  “Sure.”
PO:  “Mine. Those were all my people. Both sides.”
I:  “Both sides?
PO:  “Yep. Both sides.”
I:  “Don’t you have any principles at all?”
PO:  “Sure. The kind that involves cashing checks.”

Capitalism at its finest; see a need, create a business to fill it.

It seems to me that the key to success in such a venture is to be completely impartial in providing paid protestors; double your market share, as it were, at a stroke.  Personally I’d draw the line at supporting terror groups or anyone advocating violence, but other than that – go for it.  Political rally?  Supply protestors for both sides.  Animal rights kooks protesting?  Provide vegan bikini bunnies and pro-meat grower protesters alike.

Double your money, double your fun!

Is this possible business model cynical and mercenary?  You bet your sweet bippy it is.  But it might just be a viable model:  Very little overhead, a wide market, sustainable as long as political and social issues still cause tension in our country.


Animal’s Daily Genetic Diversity News

Here is an interesting bit from our blogger pal Doug Hagin over at The Daley Gator:  So, It Has Come To This Has It?  (Original post here at Moonbattery.)  I made a comment yesterday when it posted, but it got me to thinking, so I thought I’d expand on my comment here.  Excerpt:

Barack Obama himself says that if you can dupe others into thinking you are black, then you are black:

“Well, part of my understanding of race is that it’s more of a social construct than a biological reality. And in that sense, if you are perceived as African American, then you’re African American.”

OK, that does it! Up is down, rain is sunshine. But I have realized something while studying the whole you are what you identify as craze. I now realize that I choose to identify as a billionaire playboy with several sports cars, mansions, vacation homes, a yacht and a muscular body that every woman longs for.

Now, look at the President’s statement above.  Let’s break it down.

Well, my understanding of race is that it’s more of a social construct than a biological reality.”  In this President Obama is correct.  Biologically speaking, the entire concept of race is, well, horseshit.  Humans have less genetic diversity than our closest relatives, chimpanzees.  The concept of “race” is mostly a social and cultural construct; it’s almost impossible to rigorously define “race.”  Barack Obama claims to be the first “African-American” President, but he is the child of a white American woman and a half-black, half-Arabic Kenyan father.  He has none of the cultural markers than define “African-American” as it is generally used, to denote a member of some nebulous group defined more or less by having some ancestor that was a slave in the United States.

So, yes, horseshit.  Which brings us to the second statement in his comment:  “And in that sense, if you are perceived as African American, then you’re African American.

I could claim to be perceived (or even sillier, the modern concept of “self-identifying”) as a ham sandwich, but that wouldn’t make it true.

There are objective realities in the world.  The science of genetics pretty much obliterates, as a scientific model, the whole concept of “race” as applied to humans.  There is only one species of human alive on the planet today, H. sapiens sapiens, and we meet the definition of a species in every aspect.

As I said over at The Daley Gator, there is only one race.  It’s the human race, and every person alive on the planet is a member.

Rule Five Buhbye 2016 Friday

Shall we talk about the year just past?  2016 was many things, but boring wasn’t among them.

The big story – nay, the yuuuuge story of the year, of course, was The Donald’s surprising and unexpected election victory, handily beating out Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I for the keys to the Imperial Mansion.  And I use the term ‘unexpected’ advisedly, as I went to my rack the evening of Election Day expecting (sadly) to wake to the news of the Dowager Empress’s coronation.  Instead, I woke to the news of a Trump victory.

The reasons for that victory?  Well, there’s been a lot of speculation about that, but I think there are a few that stand out:

  1. Trump knew exactly what he was doing.  He knew his target audience and, in the manner of a master showman, knew precisely how to appeal to them.  Thus the shellacking he gave Her Imperial Majesty in some traditionally blue Rust Belt states.
  2. Her Majesty ran a perfectly awful campaign.  She couldn’t be bothered to even appear in several of the aforementioned Rust Belt states; when and where she did appear, she had a hard time amassing more than a few dozen followers – while The Donald was holding rallies with crowds of thousands.  She had all the charisma and personal appeal of a stuffed iguana.
  3. Even though the legacy media was completely in the tank for the Dowager Empress, the touchy-feely coverage wasn’t enough to cover up the fact that the Democrats put forth the most deeply and fundamentally corrupt political figures since Nero.  The Donald had some creepy moments, but when creep was placed alongside crook, the American people chose creep.

Still – the election may have been the big political story of the year, but it wasn’t the only one.  2016’s other big hits included:

  1. The Democratic Party’s doubling down on stupid.  After historic losses at the State and Federal level, the Democrats have complete control of only four states; the GOP holds all or part of the State governments in the remaining forty-six states, as well as (starting in January) both the Legislative and Executive branches of government.  And still, House Democrats re-install the nearly-fossilized Nancy Pelosi as House Minority leader, and vow to continue the drift to the left that has made them a regional minority party.
  2. Europe’s descent into a new Dark Age.  It hasn’t happened yet, but Europe is well on its way to becoming a Muslim caliphate.  2016 began with the rapes and assaults on German women in Cologne, and ended with a jihadi nutbar driving a truck through a crowded Christkindlmarkt in Berlin.  Angela Merkel has promised to double down on stupid as well, insisting that Germany will continue to accept thousands of Middle Eastern refugees without exception.
  3. North Korea, that failed Stalinist state run by a stunted little gargoyle with bad hair from a long line of stunted little gargoyles with bad hair, launched a rocket into space – technology that could double as an intercontinental missile, one that may even be able to carry one of the paranoid, isolationist country’s nukes.
  4. Brexit!  The people of the UK vote to leave the European Union, in a vote that was the most surprising of the year – until November 8th, when The Donald handily trounced Her Imperial Majesty.

It was a bad year for celebrities, as the year started with the death of Alan Rickman in January and concluded with the death of Carrie Fisher only last Tuesday.  But it was a good year for the American folk music scene, with America’s Songwriter Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for Literature – a prize he couldn’t be bothered to accept or even acknowledge.

It was an interesting year, this year just past, yr. obdt’s fifty-fifth on this little blue orb.  What can we expect, I wonder, from 2017?  Some things to watch:

  1. The Donald’s remake of the American judiciary.  He has one Supreme Court vacancy and a hundred or more Imperial judges to appoint.  His Supreme Court pick is expected to replace the departed Antonin Scalia as a reliable Constitutionalist voice on the Court, and one presumes his picks for lower courts will be as well.  A Trump Presidency is going to be different in many ways, but his impact on the judiciary may be more influential, more far-reaching and with longer effect than anything else he does.
  2. More AI, more robots, more self-driving cars and trucks.  Technology is increasing at an ever-faster pace.  We are now in the third great revolution of Western civilization; there was the Agricultural Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, and now the Technological Revolution.  It’s going to change everything.
  3. More jihadi nutcases.  Even as the world continues with the Tech Revolution, there are dark forces that seek to drag us back into the 11th century.  Look for this clash of civilizations to continue as the West begins to look to leaders with some spine to resist the jihadis.

So, join me in welcoming 2017.  Like its predecessor, I suspect it will be anything but dull.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

First up, thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!

Second, all of us here at the Casa de Animal hope all you True Believers had a great Christmas.

A short post today with naught but some musings, as:

1) Today is a day off for much of the country, as Christmas this year fell on a Sunday.  This leads to a slow news day.  And,

b) I’m still on the post-Christmas lag and feeling a bit lazy.

So, what’s 2017 looking like?  Well, for me, it will probably be more travel, as usual.  Possibilities include Japan (again); California, in the Bay Area to be specific; North Carolina, and maybe northern Indiana.

Of the lot, I’d have to say I’d like North Carolina best, but with two daughters still in college, these days I jump with the first gig to offer me a contract.

What’s 2017 looking like for America?  Well, on January 20th, we get a new President; The Donald has been busy putting together a sort of League of Champions to work in his administration.  There has been some whining from the Left and from the professional bureaucracy about all the “rich people” Trump is bringing in; one wonders how a retinue of failures would somehow be preferable.

Draining the swamp is still a big priority.  The problem is it’s a big damn swamp, and will take lots of draining.

It’s going to be an interesting year.

Rule Five Thoughts on Japan Friday

There’s a lot to be said about Japan.

Just now, about to end my third project in that country – albeit a short one – I’m inclined to share some of my thoughts of a place I’ve grown rather fond of.

I like Japan.  I like the food, the folks, the scenery.  I enjoy the porcelain beauty of so many young Japanese women and I enjoy the strong undercurrent of politeness and consideration that pervades the culture.

I’ve had some memorable adventures in Japan.  It’s a place where you can walk down a dark side street on a Friday night with little or no worries, a few neighborhoods in Tokyo excepted.  Some of my best adventures in Japan have started in just this way; some aimless wanderings in a new town that led to a great little local watering hole or restaurant.  One of these, some years back, was Koharu – “Spring Nights” in English.  Koharu is a little bar in Kusatsu, Shiga Prefecture, that in 2009 was run by three ladies (I’m guessing) in their early to mid 60s.  My friend Paul and I hung out there a lot, and the Mama-sans loved us.

On this trip Paul and I wandered up a little side street in a Tokyo suburb called Fusse and discovered a little local ramen shop, where I enjoyed some of the best ramen I’ve ever laid jaws on.

With all that said, though; I could never live in Japan.  I’m too deeply and irretrievable American, a red-state American at that, to willfully put up with a lot of things Japanese folks take for granted.  Now the Japanese people have the right to choose the government that suits them; they have done so, and I would be the last to say they should change that to suit the whims of Americans, just as I would be the last to say Americans should change our way of life to suit anyone from another country.  But the Japanese culture and still rather unquestioning acceptance of authority has led to some policies that I could not and would not abide.  Among them:

  • No protection against unreasonable search and seizure. I am told the police can legally enter any Japanese home once per year with no cause, no warning, no nothing, just to have a look around; no warrant needed.  In my own Colorado, even were it a police officer trying to force his way into my home, had he no warrant I would have the legal right to part his hair with a shotgun.  Which brings us to:
  • Refusal of the right of armed self-defense. This is not and has not been an issue in Japan, not the least of reasons is their crime rate, which in most places is so low as to be nearly non-existent.  But Japan is a culturally and racially homogenous society, and what’s more a culture that places great value on conformity, on respect for authority, on blending in.  The United States is very different.  America was born in armed rebellion, the exact opposite of respect for authority; Americans today are fractious, rebellious and quarrelsome.  As evidence witness our recently concluded Presidential campaign and its aftermath.  Americans, by and large, favor our right to armed defense, a right defined in the Constitution by men who had just led a citizen’s army to defeat the world’s dominant superpower of the day.

There’s a lot to be said about Japan.  But it’s a very non-libertarian society.  I like the place and would gladly return to visit, or to work, for a while.

But live in Japan?  No.  I’ll take Colorado and, in a few more years, Alaska.