Category Archives: News

My thoughts on the news of the day, both local, Colorado, national and international.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

Let’s talk about more science stuff today; Anti-GMO Activists Are Harming Hungry Africans.  Excerpt:

African crop yields lag well behind those of the world’s developed countries, and the continent’s food security is shaky at best. Starvation is an ever-present threat for many, and the impending effects of climate change loom ominously in the distance. But scientists have solutions, genetically modified crops that are resistant to droughts, pests, and disease, that, pending government approval, are ready for planting. Dismayingly, Luddite anti-GMO campaigners have smeared these potential problem-solvers as unsafe and unnatural, and as a result, to-date no African government has approved the use of GM crops.

Looking for a logical argument coming from the kind of eco-Luddites who oppose things like GMO crops and vaccines is like looking for a piece of straw in an enormous stack of needles, but even that isn’t the worst of it.  The thing is this:  Africa should be a wealthy continent.  The place is huge; you could drop the United States and Russia into Africa and have room left over for a Europe or two.  It has enormous mineral wealth, some of the world’s best farmlands, and plenty of manpower.

So, what’s holding Africa back?

Sleepy-bearGenerations of fundamentally corrupt governments, for one thing.  In some places – like Sudan – Islamic nutballery is a big part of the problem.  But the West has limited ability to affect those things.  What can we affect?

We could – and should – stop helping them.

Heartless?  Not at all.  The GMO controversy is just one way in which well-meaning but ignorant outsiders are preventing the spread of technology that could revolutionize African agriculture.  And yes, the anti-GMO protestors are ignorant; no reputable study has ever found a threat to human health from GMO crops (see here and here.)

What’s interesting is that the anti-GMO nuts are almost invariably members of the political Left.  I thought the political Left was supposed to be pro-science?

In all candor, in our country at least, this is probably more a symptom of the United States’ utter failure in basic science education than anything else.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday
Goodbye, Blue Monday

Here’s an interesting take on the current state of global terror from Pajama Media’s Richard Fernandez:  The Element of Predictable Surprise.  Excerpt:

The current model of al-Qaeda is much more sophisticated than the original, with a minimum 7,000 jihadists with Western passports supported by intelligence, signals and other specialist cells.  While they have waxed, the West has deliberately waned.  The Obama administration has defined the threat away by tying the War on Terror to a campaign talking point. They must now maintain the fiction that “Osama bin Laden is dead and Detroit is alive” because that was an electoral promise which on no account must be falsified.

The WOT is now officially over, except for low-level  responses like drone strikes and targeted intelligence operations.  But what if it’s not? What if the president declared victory with the enemy still rampant in the field? In retrospect, the major strategic miscalculation of the Obama administration may have been a failure to anticipate that the terror threat would evolve. Their implicit assumption was that the jihad would remain at the al-Qaeda 1.0 level indefinitely.  They never imagined it would mutate and they would have to take the very roads that they proscribed.

It’s a truism in military circles that we always train to fight the last war.  This one is no different.  We’ve been watching for another 9/11, and there has been a certain amount of hubris amongst our military and intelligence communities – and in the White House- that there has not been a repeat of that day.  But the savages that adhere to radical Islam – and make no mistake, “terror” is not the enemy, radical Islam is – almost certainly won’t try the same thing again.

Bear in mind that these people have access to chemical weapons (from Syria and, presumably, from those stocks of Saddam Hussein’s that may have found their way there) to nuclear materials and maybe even nuclear weapons (from Pakistan and soon, Iran) and possibly even biological agents (from who knows where.)

Bear in mind also that these fucking savages have, in many cases, the resources of nation-states behind them:  Iran, Syria, Pakistan, and Hamas-governed Gaza.

Mr. Fernandez ends with an interesting thought:

The major reason for the absence of large-scale attacks despite the growing jihadi capability is they are not yet sure what the response will be. Ironically, it may be the fear of Europe that is holding terror back. European politics can be far more volatile than American politics.  The flip side of the soft left in Europe can be the very hard right.

Grizzly-Bear-FaceA jihadist nuclear device, placed on a container ship and detonated in New York harbor, would almost certainly result in the American people demanding an overwhelming response – and, assuming we can determine a source for the nuclear material, a Middle Eastern nation turned into a smoking, radioactive ruin.  But Europe is a lot closer to the Islamic nations, and most of Europe now has a significant and frequently troublesome Muslim minority.

Imagine how Europe would look if increasing jihadi activity brought another Hitler to the fore – or another Charles Martel.

The Continent could them make World War II look like a minor scrap in a schoolyard.

Animal’s Daily News

gun control theoryEver wondered about the most idiotic article ever written about guns would look like?  Wonder no longer:  See Why Rolling Stone’s List of ‘Most Dangerous Guns’ Is Being Called ‘Maybe the Worst Piece of Journalism of All-Time.’  And yes, it’s really stupid.  Excerpt:

The Internet is relentlessly mocking Rolling Stone’s new photo slideshow outlining the “5 most dangerous guns in America,” with one reader calling it “maybe the worst piece of journalism of all-time.” Making the publication’s list are pistols, revolvers, rifles, shotguns, and even Derringers.

As one commenter asks, “what’s left?” Here’s Rolling Stone’s list, starting with the “most dangerous.”

Here’s the list:

  • Pistols
  • Revolvers (also handguns)
  • Rifles
  • Shotguns and…
  • Derringers

Because, OMG guns!

It is perhaps belaboring the obvious to point out that this list includes, well, all guns.  The article is being roundly mocked, as is only just and fitting, and a new internet meme has surfaced:  Making lists of “most dangerous” this and that.  For example, one might list the most dangerous personal vehicles as:

  • Cars
  • Trucks
  • Motorcycles
  • Vans and…
  • Derringers

And so forth.

Girls with GunsSeriously, one wonders why this imbecile, one Kristen Gwynne, is actually writing for a national publication – even Rolling Stone, hardly known for its objectivity where firearms issues are concerned.  But the really jarring lapse in elementary logic is the idea that an inanimate object can be “dangerous” in this context.

Crime requires intent.  A gun cannot commit a crime – there is no such thing as “gun crime.”  Only a motive agent, a person, can commit a crime.  A gun is only a tool; and criminals everywhere, everywhen, will always find tools to use in the commission of crime.

Ms. Gwynne deserves scorn and derision for this piece of journalistic stupidity, and Rolling Stone deserves scorn and derision for publishing it.  But the greater crime is pandering to hoplophobia and deliberate, willful ignorance; that deserves outright condemnation.  Rolling Stone seems to be gaining plenty of the former.  We’ll see about the latter.

Animal’s Daily News

Bear SpeechA good bit on higher education:  Americans Think We Have the Best Colleges.  We Don’t.  Excerpt:

Americans have a split vision of education. Conventional wisdom has long held that our K-12 schools are mediocre or worse, while our colleges and universities are world class. While policy wonks hotly debate K-12 reform ideas like vouchers and the Common Core state standards, higher education is largely left to its own devices. Many families are worried about how to get into and pay for increasingly expensive colleges. But the stellar quality of those institutions is assumed.

Yet a recent multinational study of adult literacy and numeracy skills suggests that this view is wrong. America’s schools and colleges are actually far more alike than people believe — and not in a good way. The nation’s deep education problems, the data suggest, don’t magically disappear once students disappear behind ivy-covered walls.

For another take on this, read Stuart Schneiderman’s analysis here.

Both articles miss one of our major problems with our institutions of higher education, and that is the continued – nay, the increasing offering of crap degrees.  The recent, unwashed, unfortunate “Occupy” movement was rife with examples of recipients of such degrees:  Dupes who, having been awarded degrees in such areas as Derp BearWomen’s Studies or Underwater Dog Polishing, are now unable to find “suitable work,” and are protesting to have others (taxpayers, the productive, people who made better life decisions than they) pick up their tab.

With a crap degree one may expect to have a crap career.  As stated a thousand or more time in these pages, it is not the legitimate role of government to protect people from the consequences of bad decisions.

With that said, it is bordering on fraud for universities – which are taxpayer-supported – to offer crap degrees.  The several States should take steps to correct this.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

Another day, another crisis – this one (again, still, take your pick) on our southern border.  Some links:

Medical Staff Warned:  Keep Your Mouths Shut About Illegal Immigrants or Face Arrest.

HHS Bars Congressmen From Seeing Immigrant Children.

Krauthammer:  If Fences Don’t Work, Why Is There One Around the White House?

Sheriff:  We Come Across Decomposed Bodies of Immigrants ‘Quite Often.’

And is this a coincidence?  Poll Ranks Obama as Worst U.S. President Since WW2.

The situation at our southern border was bad up until recently, when it descended into a damned calamity.  The President seems not only incapable but unwilling to do anything about it, and all Congress can talk about is “paths to citizenship.”  How about securing the border?

Establishing and enforcing our borders is one of the few legitimate functions the Imperial Federal government is actually supposed to Sad-Bearhave.  Why, then, is it this function they neglect while misappropriating so many others that they should be leaving to the several States?

It is a truism that one should never ascribe to intent what may be more likely ascribed to incompetence.  In this as in many other things, the Obama Administration is not only incompetent but downright negligent.  Nothing good will come of this catastrophe, for the immigrants or the American people.

Animal’s Daily News

FreakBrosGreetingCardMoneyNoDopeYesterday our old pal Rhino-san was still in town following our daughter’s Saturday wedding, so we took him on a tour of Denver.  One of our stops was intended to appease my curiosity, that stop being at one of Denver’s new legal recreational marijuana shops.

I dislike forming opinions about things I haven’t seen for myself.  As long-term readers of these pages and my old LiveJournal blog will know, I have long been an advocate of legalizing marijuana, not because I wish to use it (I don’t) but because I think it’s arguably silly to keep it illegal.  Drying up the profit appeal for criminals is a good thing, too.  But what I wanted to do yesterday was to see one recreational pot operation for myself, not because I wished to buy any (I don’t) but to satisfy my innate and often-overwhelming curiosity.

Obviously I took no photos, nor did I ask to take any, sensing that the shop employees would disapprove.  So I’ll describe the experience instead.

TheFabulousFurryFreakBrothersFirst, the entry:  There were two doors, barred by a young lady behind heavy glass.  The inner door was a heavy steel fire door, locked; the young lady behind the glass required your identification for examination before unlocking the inner door (no one under 21 is allowed inside for any reason.)  Our IDs were returned once we were inside.

The shop was clean, neat, well organized.  The employees were polite, friendly and well-informed.  There was a large, beefy but friendly young man seated on a chair in the corner of the small main room who had the distinct air of a bouncer.

As to the product:  Having had some passing acquaintance with marijuana in my irresponsible youth, I thought I had some idea to expect.   Not so!  Samples of the various types of recreational weed were arranged on tables around the showroom, and we were encouraged to open the jars and smell the product.  By odor alone I would have judged the product to be much, much stronger than the stuff I remember from the 1970s – and the young lady who we spoke with affirmed that weed has “come a long way since the Seventies.”

She was, incidentally, friendly, polite, and knowledgeable.  I had announced on entry that neither myself, Mrs. Animal or Rhino-san had any intention to purchase but were simply curious, and there never was any objection or any lack of attention paid to us because of that.

upinsmokeSo, impressions:  If a state is going to legalize recreational pot, this one store at least presented a reasonable way to vendor the legal product.  Security was tight, the employees were well-informed as to the possible pitfalls as well as the technical aspects of the weed.

I’m not sure what I was expecting from a legal weed shop, but what I saw wasn’t it – it was better.  So for now, my curiosity is appeased.  We may still debate the wisdom of Colorado’s legalized recreational pot, but the execution of the law – at least in this case – seems to be working.

Rule Five Friday

2014_06_27_Rule Five Friday (1)This is something that has been much on our minds of late.  Read Mental Illness And Crime: What The Legacy Of Dorothea Dix Hath Wrought.  Excerpt:

In the 1830s, jails were an all-purpose solution for a lot of issues. Inmates lived in squalor and people truly did not want to be there so there was a lot less crime. The downside was that nobody really cared about the people who did not belong there, like those with ‘retardation’ who had been abandoned, or people who were mentally ill but not criminals.

Dorothea Dix was the activist whose efforts led to the first generation of American mental asylums. At the age of 39, she happened to visit a local jail to do a Sunday school sermon for female inmates. She found that 2014_06_27_Rule Five Friday (2)criminals, retarded people and the mentally ill all lived together in terrible, unheated conditions. When she asked why, she was told  “the insane do not feel heat or cold”(Viney&Zorich, 1982). Not exactly evidence-based.

No, but here is something that is evidence-based:  All of the high-profile multiple murders committed in this country in recent years have a common thread, that being under-treated or untreated mental illness.  Adam Lanza should have been in an asylum; ditto for James Holmes.  (Islamist murderers fall into another category and belong not in asylums, but in graves.)

2014_06_27_Rule Five Friday (3)Too many people are walking around that shouldn’t be.  (Much of Congress and the Executive Branch may well belong in asylums, but that’s a discussion for another day.)  Upon a time these people would have been locked up – perhaps cruelly and in lousy conditions, but locked up.

Surely we can do better now?

Why do we not have a new breed of mental institution, where the conditions are humane, where the treatable can be treated and the untreatable maintained away from peaceable society?

The Science 2.0 article linked here concludes:

We have so many more mental patients in jails not because we have returned to the America of the 1830s, where the mentally ill are just thrown in jail so we don’t have to think about them, but because mental illness has been turned into a scientifically subjective loophole and therefore part of a cultural agenda.

2014_06_27_Rule Five Friday (4)The author is missing a cogent point.  We have more mental patients in jail because we do not attempt to remove potentially harmful people from society until they have already committed a crime.  Adam Lanza was known to be potentially dangerous.  So was James Holmes.  Why were they running around loose?

I make my living in large part by teaching high-tech companies how to do root cause analysis.  One of the ways you find a root cause is to look for commonalities in the circumstances of repeated events.  As noted, the common thread in the high-profile multiple murders we have seen lately is untreated or undertreated mental illness.

Until we address that, nothing else we as a society do will prevent another Adam Lanza or James Holmes from running amok.

2014_06_27_Rule Five Friday (5)

Animal’s Daily News

Sleepy-bearThe results of our Colorado primary elections are in.  Here in District 6 all of the Republican candidates for various offices were running unopposed, but the Governor’s primary was contested.  Former Congressman and former gubernatorial candidate (he lost to Bob Ritter in 2006) Bob Beauprez has emerged the winner.  Read details here and here.

What’s interesting about this whole contest is that the state GOP seems to be abandoning the circular firing squad they have been in for about the last ten years.  The Denver Post article (first link above) quotes one Beauprez’s primary opponents, the often-contentious Tom Tancredo, as saying to Beauprez on the evening of the election “I’m going to do everything I can for you, buddy, even if that means I don’t come around.”

Having met Tom on several occasions and having had the chance to speak with him at some length at least twice, I will say this:  Tom is an idea man, a great guy, a likeable fellow for the most part, but probably would not have been the best candidate to face the popular Governor John Hickenlooper.  Bob Beauprez will more easily appeal to a wide swath of voters in increasingly purple Colorado – and a key issue will be last year’s gun control laws, which are proving startlingly unpopular.

Peeking-Bear-150x99Still, the GOP has a long ways to go if they are to pick up the CO Governor’s mansion, and that way will be mostly uphill.  Bob may be the best candidate available – but John Hickenlooper is certainly the best Colorado Democrats have, too.

It’s going to be an interesting race.

Animal’s Hump Day News

2014_06_25_Hump Day
Happy Hump Day!

Random notes and observations today:

Michelle Obama:  I Will Not Go Into Politics After White House.  Well, that’s a relief – although she might just knock her husband out of the top spot for most ineffective and least capable pol of my lifetime.

Seriously, is there anyone out there with more than three IQ points to rub together who thinks this woman should be in elected office?  Her adult career has been a litany of patronage jobs and left-wing activism.  She has no accomplishments that would suit her to be mayor of a toxic waste dump, much less any office of any real consequence.  The best thing she could do for the country would be to enter into a comfortable (and, one would hope, silent) retirement beginning in January 2017.

Meanwhile, in Houston, a man has been ordered to remove his proudly displayed American flag because it is “a threat to the Muslim community.”  The proper response here would be to tell the complaining members of the Muslim community to go fuck themselves, but in fact there don’t seem to be any – the hyper-sensitivity is on the part of the apartment complex’s management.

There seems to be a distinct lack of testicular fortitude on the part of all too many people these days, but not this guy.  The Houston man in question, one Mr. Duy Tran, has replied that “I’m gonna leave my flag there, as an American, until she shows me proof that I don’t have the right to leave my flag there…I have friends that died for this country.”

clapping orwell

My Stetson is off to you, sir.

Finally, from the once and former Golden State:  One Party Rule No Party is No Party in California.  No shit.  Excerpt:

Forty years ago, Mexico was a one-party dictatorship under the Partido Revolucionario Institucional, hobbled by slow growth, soaring inequality, endemic corruption and dead politics. California, in contrast, was considered a model American state, with a highly regarded Legislature, relatively clean politics, a competitive political process and a soaring economy.

Today these roles are somewhat reversed, and not in a good way for the Golden State.

The times, they are a’changing – and not for the better.

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