From the land of the calamitously stupid comes this gem: Dem Congressman: ‘We’ve Proved That Communism Works’ Uh huh. Money quote:
“Let me give you an example, the kind of money we’ve poured in,” he said. “So the most dangerous — sorry, the safest city in America is El Paso, Texas. It happens to be across the border from the most dangerous city in the Americas, which is Juarez. Right?”
“And two of the safest cities in America, two of them are on the border with Mexico,” Garcia continued. “And of course, the reason is we’ve proved that Communism works. If you give everybody a good government job, there’s no crime.”
“But that isn’t what we should be doing on the border,” he continued. “The kind of money we’ve poured into it, and we’re having diminishing returns.”
The first words that come to mind are “what a moron.”
And seriously – to ensure prosperity, all we have to do is “give everybody a good government job?” What
Wesley Mouch Joe Garcia apparently fails to realize is this: The government doesn’t have any damn money. Government, at all levels, can only spend money it has taken – with the threat of force (try not paying your taxes and see how long it takes before men with guns come looking for you) from the productive.
And Communism? The legacy of Communism is not prosperity – it never has been and never will be. The legacy of Communism is misery, poverty, and mass murder. The legacy of Communism is bread lines, baggy, ill-cut, cheap clothing; it is Stalin’s purges and Mao’s Great Leap Forward, both episodes that caused the deaths of millions.
And this jackass wants to emulate that? Here?
I’m no wild-eyed conspiracy theorist or survivalist kook, but an attempt – a serious attempt – to implement Communism here would be enough to drive me to arms.
No time for news or deep thoughts today, so instead have a look at something that the U.S. Army (of which I was once a proud member) seems to have overlooked (tip of the Stetson to loyal sidekick Rat for the link):
Interesting news from the world of science!
Have we found the biggest dinosaur ever? In true scientific fashion – science being by necessity a tentative discipline – the answer is “maybe.” Excerpt:
Paleontologists working in Argentina have uncovered the bones of what may be the largest dinosaur ever. I want to stress the uncertainty in that opening sentence. Despite various news outlets already calling the contest, we don’t yet know which titanic dinosaur wins the superlative of “biggest creature ever to walk the Earth.”
Don’t misunderstand me – the new find is certainly worth getting excited about. Found by a farm worker in the vicinity of La Flecha, Argentina, and excavated by a crew from the Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio, the 95 million year old site contains over 150 bones belonging to seven individuals of the same long-necked, heavy-bodied species. Even better, the dinosaur might be new to science, and the presence of so many specimens in one spot could yield detailed insights into the growth, ecology, and behavior of the dinosaur.
Mind you that behavior doesn’t fossilize, but fossils – and especially groups of fossils- can lead to insights about behavior. How? Herd makeup, for one thing, the ration of male to female, young to old, and so forth. Better still, sometimes paleontologists find preserved trackways, behavior literally recorded in time for us to decipher.
I remain as excited about dinosaurs as when I was a little tad. The new discoveries now are coming fast and furious, at least by the standards of the 1960s when I first started following dino-news. Who knows what they’ll find next?
Trigger warning: this post may offend the hyper-sensitive. (Fuck ’em.) Parental Guidance Requested. Excerpt:
Students have demanded trigger warnings at Oberlin College, Rutgers University, the University of Michigan and George Washington University as well as UCSB. The Times reproduces an excerpt from an Oberlin “draft guide,” which reads: “Triggers are not only relevant to sexual misconduct, but also to anything that might cause trauma. Be aware of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other Issues of privilege and oppression. Realize that all forms of violence are traumatic, and that your students have lives before and outside your classroom, experiences you may not expect or understand.” (“Cissexism” refers to prejudice in favor of men and women who identify themselves, respectively, as men and women.)
Kudos, by the way, to article author James Taranto for looking up “cissexism;” I had not the slightest idea what that was. You learn something every day, eh?
But I digress. This story begs several questions, at least three of which are “what the fuck?” Are college students really so fragile, their poor little minds so insecure, that they are threatened by the fact that someone may disagree with them? Note that I’m not talking about rape victims or combat veterans who may well be set off by images of graphic violence; I’m talking about the precious little snowflakes who may be butthurt if someone expresses (gasp!) homophobia.
What good is an education – and I use the word in the broadest possible sense – if a student doesn’t learn to handle the fact that someone may not think like they do? The obvious answer to the rational purpose is “not much,” but apparently some students feel the need to be sheltered from anything that might make them feel a little uncomfortable.
When I was a young fella we had a word for people like that.
We called them pussies.
Two months shy of turning 40, the MIT astronomer Sara Seager decided to throw herself a highly unconventional birthday party. She rented a wood-paneled auditorium in the university’s Media Lab. She invited a few dozen colleagues, including an influential former astronaut and the director of the Space Telescope Science Institute. In lieu of presents, she asked 14 of her guests to respond to a challenge: help her plot a winning strategy to find another Earth, and do it within her lifetime.
“Hundreds or thousands of years from now, when people look back at our generation, they will remember us for being the first people who found the Earth-like worlds,” Seager began. She paced tightly, dressed all in black except for a long red-and-pink scarf, and spoke in her distinctive staccato voice into a hand-held microphone. “I’ve convened all of you here because we want to make an impact and we want to make that happen. We are on the verge of being those people, not individually but collectively.”
Think about this for a moment. Forget all the exoplanets we’ve found already – think of the implications of finding an Earth-size planet in another system, one in the habitable zone that shows spectral lines for water vapor and, say, chlorophyll in it’s atmosphere. Thing of what happens if we see spectra implying something is burning hydrocarbons in that atmosphere.
In fact, forget intelligent life. Imagine an exoplanet with evidence of any life at all. Think of the impact that will have on the world’s religious communities. Think of what it will mean to our perception of ourselves, knowing that in the broadest sense, we are not alone.
Isaac Asimov brilliantly titled one of his Empire novels The Stars, Like Dust. it will be amazing to find living beings on one of these otehr dust motes.
Let’s talk about energy, as though you might need an additional boost to go along with the refueling aspect of the Rule Five Friday totty. The young lady pictured here has no connection to the story and to our knowledge is not connected with the energy industry in any way; her appearance here is purely gratuitous.
But who does have a connection to the energy industry in the U.S. today? Harold Hamm does, and Forbes has his story. Excerpt:
Two Scotches in, with seats on the floor of Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Energy CHK -2.7% Arena, Harold Hamm is feeling good. And why not? His hometown Thunder is spending the evening whupping the Philadelphia 76ers. Earlier Hamm announced big bonuses for Continental Resources CLR +0.04% employees, courtesy of record oil production. And a judge’s ruling, revealed that morning, in Hamm’s divorce case suggested the energy tycoon would keep the Continental shares he already owned when he married soon-to-be-ex Sue Ann Hamm 26 years ago. With that chunk of stock, encompassing about $16 billion out of his $16.9 billion fortune, Hamm owns 70% of Continental.
As every wildcatter knows, such is life in the oil patch when you’re on a hot streak. And Hamm’s on perhaps the most epic one in domestic energy history, perhaps save for John D. Rockefeller’s. No one, aside from kings, dictators and post-Soviet kleptocrats, personally owns more black gold–Continental has proved reserves of 1 billion barrels, mostly locked underneath North Dakota. Hamm took the company public in 2007–and shares are up 600% since, as the revolution in horizontal drilling has given America a cheap energy booster shot, fueling factories, keeping a lid on gas prices and adding millions of jobs.
Of course, there are many more barrels locked up under public lands, where our supposed employees in the Imperial City refuse to allow drilling. But that’s another story.
Hamm seems a character straight out of an Ayn Rand novel; driven, innovative, passionate about his line of work. He started in the industry at the age of 16, pumping gas in a service station; now he controls more oil than anyone outside of the Middle East. A pioneer of horizontal drilling, he now has realized a net worth of $16.9 billion- and he’s earned every penny of it.
Why is a man like this not held up as a national hero? A man to be admired and emulated? Because he had a single-minded drive to success? Because he succeeded on his own merits, realized the rewards of hard work and enormous risks?
The Forbes article concludes:
Hubris–almost inevitable when you own 70% of a company–is also a concern. America’s richest oil baron has been catching flak recently for what appears to be self-dealing, including a $340 million purchase by Continental of another North Dakota oil company he co-owned and a five-year, $100 million contract Continental signed with a pipeline firm owned by Hamm and his family. (Hamm says both deals passed muster with the board and will boost Continental’s performance.)
But such headaches will prove ephemeral if Hamm wins his bet and delivers on his promise of unlimited oil and gas. Such results would surely make Hamm one of the 20 richest people in the world. And just as surely reshape America in the process.
And he will probably be reviled for greed, instead of admired as a uniquely American success story. Why?
Who is John Galt?
Hamm’s work has the potential to completely reshape the American economy for the better. He has created thousands, maybe tens of thousands of jobs directly and indirectly. He has made energy in the form of everything from gasoline to heating oil more abundant and therefore cheaper. He’s a man worthy of admiration.
Marriage: It’s Complicated. No shit. Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. have been wed 22 years later this month. As of last March our own AnimalMom and the Old Man have passed 67 years of wedded bliss. Ask any of us, and with the perspective of long, happy marriages we’ll still all say “oh, hell yeah, it’s complicated.”
Mike McCurry Thinks Hillary Won’t Run. Personally I don’t think Mrs. Clinton is half the candidate many in her party seem to think she’d be. She’s carrying a lot of baggage – Benghazi, for one, is her baby; she was in charge, she owns it, and if anyone in the GOP has any brains (not something I’d be willing to bet on) they’ll hang it around her neck like a millstone. She’s not half the politician her husband is, and that’s a fact.
What is college is making people stupid? Well, 96% of them will think they’re smart. They be edumacated, after all.
Then again, maybe young folks don’t need college. Here are 16 great jobs that don’t require a 4-year degree. The idea that every youth needs to go to college is a canard; the great failure of our education system nowadays is neglect of the trades. Carpenters, pipefitters, mechanics and so forth can make a great living and they are honest, honorable trades – we need these people, and should encourage young folks to pursue those lines of work.
On that note, we return you to your Thursday, already in progress.
A couple of interesting Mittwoch tidbits from the folks at Reason.com this morning. First up: U.S. Customs Seize Kentucky-Bound Hemp Seeds. Not marijuana – hemp. Excerpt:
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have seized a batch of hemp seeds heading from Italy to Kentucky’s Agriculture Department. As of earlier this year, cultivating hemp—a type of cannabis plant related to marijuana in form but not function—is no longer illegal in the United States, ending a hysterical, decades-long ban on growing this totally non-psychoactive plant. But apparently no one bothered to tell customs?
Of course nobody bothered to tell Customs – or perhaps Customs knew and just didn’t care.
What the hell was the problem with hemp, anyway? Marijuana at least is an intoxicant – although it’s unclear, at least to yr. obdt., why alcohol is legal and marijuana isn’t. But let’s set that aside for now, and focus on hemp.
My grandfather grew hemp during the First and Second World Wars, and somehow nobody was driven into a cannabis-fueled frenzy. Hemp has a wide variety of industrial uses, from rope to cloth to paper to biofuels. But because of it’s relation to marijuana – or more accurately marijuana being a type of hemp – the Imperial Federal government has decided to disallow it’s growth in the U.S.?
Someone explain why that makes any sense.
The second tidbit from Reason is more lighthearted: Are Video Games Art? Being a casual gamer myself, and having played games like Skyrim and it’s MMO successor The Elder Scrolls Online, I’d say yes, sure – there is an enormous amount of graphic and literary creativity that goes into these works. It’s one bright spot in American productivity right now – video games are making their creators a lot of money, and they’ve earned all of it.