Animal’s Hump Day New Year’s Rockin’ Eve News

2014_12_31_Hump Day
Happy Hump Day!

Two birds, one stone, and all that.

Housekeeping notes for the rest of the week; tomorrow being New Year’s Day 2015(!) there won’t be any news post, but do tune in for a New Year’s totty dump.  Rule Five Friday and the Saturday Gingermageddon will go on as usual, and the normal 2015 posts will begin on January 5th.

Where the hell did 2014 go, anyway?

Anyway, to recap on a recent science-y theme, here’s a tidbit from Scientific American that presents an interesting possibility for 2015:  Will We Find Extraterrestrial Life in 2015?  Excerpt:

One of the reasons that the search for life elsewhere in the universe is so exciting is that it would take only one chance discovery, one lucky break, for all the walls to come tumbling down. But where is that revolution going to come from?

Perhaps the best news in 2014 came from the Curiosity rover’s apparent detection of a spike in atmospheric methane, discussed in the previous post. It’s far too early to know, but it is possible that this is a sign of extinct or extant life on Mars. Unfortunately, verifying any such claim is challenging.

On a practical level, for the rover to perform an isotopic analysis to provide further clues it will have to expend a lot of power and time, and hit it lucky with another surge in methane at its location. The other tricky part, in my opinion, is to do with whether or not we’re being overly cautious in interpreting data like this.

2014_12_31_Hump Day II
Life as we know it.

I don’t think it’s possible to be overly cautious in interpreting this data.  The discovery of extraterrestrial life, even if they be only microbes, would be a discovery of staggering importance, probably one of the most significant discoveries of human history.  It would have vast impact on fields of human thought ranging from biology to physics to religion to politics (sure as hell, if we find life on Mars, Congress will want to either tax it or subsidize it.)

But if it turns out to be a positive…

Personally, I hope we do find something out there, if not Mars, then somewhere else.  As a once and former biologist I’d love to have a look under Europa’s ice pack, for example.  And if you look up on a clear summer night in the mountains, in that thin, clear air, and see the billions upon billions of stars spun out like diamonds in the night sky, it staggers the imagination to think that someone, out there somewhere, is almost certainly looking back.

But that’s not science.  That’s just imagination.  What we’re seeing on Mars with methane is fascinating.  Science (that is, the scientific method) is the tool we should use to analyze it, and we should be cautious.  Still… the discovery of even microbes, even microbe fossils, on Mars – that takes us to a new place, a place mankind has never been.

I hope I’m around when that happens.

Animal’s Daily News

Relaxed BearFirst of all, thanks once again to Robert Stacy McCain, Smitty and Wombat-socho for the Rule Five links.

This snowy Tuesday (at least, it’s snowy here in Colorado) seems like a good day for some random tidbits.  So, without further ado:

Here’s the always-worth-reading Dr. Victor Davis Hanson on Crime as Politics.  I never miss one of Dr. Hanson’s columns; even on those occasions when I disagree with him, he’s always thought-provoking.

Another from PJMedia:  The Iranian Death Spiral.  We should be so lucky as to have the world’s number one state sponsor of terror self-destruct.

Some musing on the 2016 GOP race from William Kristol:  The More the Merrier.  As long as the final candidate is not Jeb Bush; I think he would be a disastrous candidate.   But then, the GOP has a history of picking bad candidates in races they should have won.

Speaking of The Other McCain, here is Robert Stacy on How To Win Wars.  Some good points here; as General George S. Patton so pithily pointed out, you don’t win wars by going out and dying for your country.  You win wars by going out and making the other dumb sons of bitches die for their country.

 If you’re a shooter (and how many regular True Believers are not?) you may find this enlightening; here is the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms list of the top ten anti-gunners for 2014.  No surprise that Michael Bloomberg tops the list.  Recently re-elected Colorado Governor Hickenlooper rates an dishonorable mention.

Facepalm-bearAnd, finally, just in case you haven’t found something to piss you off yet this morning; here, from the Heritage Foundation, is the 2014 Federal Imperial budget in pictures.

Holy shit.

Holy shit.

On that rather shocking note, we return you to your Tuesday, already in progress.

Goodbye Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Yesterday over at PJMedia, Dr. Helen Smith presented this; Prostitution Was Made Illegal – Is Porn Next?  Excerpt:

So, marriage is all about what bargaining power women have and finding ways to get men married off to benefit society, women and children–and maybe get better “trading partners”? Seriously? There is no mention of the benefits to men directly, only how their participation will benefit others. So all men are to be sacrificed to the cause without thought to their rights, needs or desires? It’s no wonder they have turned to porn. Prostitution was made illegal — is porn next?

In the considered opinion of yr. obdt., prostitution and porn should be legal – but that’s a story for a different post.  What is interesting about this story is the assumed benefit of marriage, per se, to men, women and children.

It’s a popular meme to point out that children brought up in a home with two parents who are married tend to be happier, better educated and to succeed in life more than children of one-parent homes.  This assertion is used by lots of folks to promote stable marriage as the best living arrangement for families, and sure, it’s a good arrangement; Mrs. Animal and I have done very well in just Smiling Bearsuch an arrangement for 23 years now, and the Old Man and Mom will in March hit their 67th year as a happy married couple, with five happy, successful kids (if you can call five people in their fifties and sixties “kids.”)

But there’s an issue with the meme that I think is broadly overlooked.  I think the cause/effect relationship is reversed.

It’s probable that responsible, thoughtful, motivated people with good work ethics, people that value education and responsibility, tend also to be the kind of people who follow traditional paths through life – school, career, marriage, children.  Yes, there are exceptions to every rule, some in my own family.  We’re talking broad trends here.  And the broad trend is this – these are the kinds of people that tend to produce happy, educated, successful children.

So the cause-effect relationship isn’t “marriage-responsibility-children-success.”  It may well be “responsibility-marriage-children-success.”

Until some study comes out that convincingly makes the case that traditional marriage in and of itself somehow conveys personal responsibility on a couple, I remain skeptical.

Rule Five Friday

2014_12_26_Rule Five Friday (1)Could it be that, even with all the issues that we face today, there is cause for optimism?  It would seem so, at least set in the longer context of human history.  Take a look at HumanProgress.org for some data that will give reason for hope.  A few tidbits from that site:

In fact, for most of human history, life was very difficult for most people. People lacked basic medicines and died relatively young. They had no painkillers and people with ailments spent much of their lives in agonizing pain. Entire families lived in bug-infested dwellings that offered neither comfort nor privacy. They worked in the fields from sunrise to sunset, yet hunger and famines were commonplace. Transportation was primitive and most people never travelled beyond their native villages or nearest towns. Ignorance and illiteracy were rife. The “good old days” were, by and large, very bad for the great majority of humankind.

2014_12_26_Rule Five Friday (2)Average global life expectancy at birth hovered around 30 years from the Upper Paleolithic to 1900. Even in the richest countries, like those of Western Europe, life expectancy at the start of the 20th century rarely exceeded 50 years. Incomes were quite stagnant, too. At the beginning of the Christian era (CE), annual incomes per person around the world ranged from $600 to $800. As late as 1820, average global income was only $712 per person.

Humanity has made enormous progress – especially over the course of the last two centuries. For example, average life expectancy in the world today is 67.9 years. In 2010, global per capita income stood at $7,814 – over 10 times more than two centuries ago.

2014_12_26_Rule Five Friday (3)But forget for a moment the last two centuries, and let us consider just one lifetime – that of the Old Man, who a couple of weeks back saw his 91st birthday.  One of his earliest memories would have been around 1926 or 1927, and that was the memory of the night his younger brother Lee died – of pneumonia.  In today’s world, Lee almost certainly never would have been in any danger.  He also remembers having twin sisters, also younger than he, who died shortly after birth, following a long, difficult labor.  Again, today, they probably would have been delivered by C-section and survived.  It bothers to Old Man to this day to think how his mother felt to have lost three of her five children before any of them saw their third birthday.

But that kind of thing wasn’t that uncommon then.

2014_12_26_Rule Five Friday (4)Personally, I never had the chance to ask my paternal grandmother how she felt about any of that, because she died in 1944, aged fifty, a massive stroke almost certainly caused by undiagnosed hypertension.  Again, today, she would have been diagnosed and treated, and probably lived much longer.

Fast forward to my own children; our youngest daughter was born in 1996, three months early.  Mrs. Animal suffered through eclampsia and the labor was induced to save her life.  Both survived just fine, and our little Peanut is 18, now a second-degree black belt and a college student, so she obviously came out just fine – but a few days after the delivery the doctor presiding over this high-risk case told me “twenty years ago, they probably both would have died.”

It’s a great time to be alive.

Take some time and browse HumanProgress.org.  One of the things you’ll come away with is that there is one great driver to human progress:  Liberty.  As their “About” page states:

2014_12_26_Rule Five Friday (5)While we think that policies and institutions compatible with freedom and openness are important factors in promoting human progress, we let the evidence speak for itself. We hope that this website leads to a greater appreciation of the improving state of the world and stimulates an intelligent debate on the drivers of human progress.

Threats to freedom, threats to liberty and the rule of law are found all over the world, of course; most notably in the Middle East.  If one needs a reason to oppose the spread of Bronze age barbarity like that advocated by ISIL, Al Qaeda and the like, the Human Progress project will give you plenty of reasons.

2014_12_26_Rule Five Friday (6)

Animal’s Christmas Wishes

Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas!

No news today, not on this lovely Colorado Christmas Eve.  No deep thoughts, no musing, no notes on the passing scene.

Instead, today, just accept our best wishes from all here at the Casa de Animal (along with the concomitant Christmas Hump Day totty) and a heartfelt Merry Christmas to all True Believers!

Regular posts will return on (Rule Five) Friday.

Animal’s Daily News

laughing_bearWell, what do you know.  North Korea is losing Internet access.  Both North Korean computers are reportedly unable to connect.  Excerpt:

North Korea is having major Internet problems, just days after President Barack Obama promised a proportional response to the devastating hacks against Sony.

The country, which the FBI accused last week of the cyberattack, is suffering a total Internet outage that experts at DYN Research said is out of the ordinary, as first reported by North Korea Tech. According to the research firm, North Korea’s Internet connectivity grew steadily worse beginning Sunday night, and then went completely offline Monday morning.

“I haven’t seen such a steady beat of routing instability and outages in KP before,” Doug Madory, director of Internet analysis at DYN Research, told North Korea Tech. “Usually there are isolated blips, not continuous connectivity problems. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are absorbing some sort of attack presently.”

Scarlett-Johansson2-400
Yeah, as if.

Let’s hope it is an attack, preferably one orchestrated by the United States.  Let’s hope that the stunted little gargoyle from a long line of stunted little gargoyles that runs North Korea figures out that the attack was orchestrated by the United States.  Let’s hope he calls the White House to complain.  Let’s hope President Obama tells him “Yeah, it was us.  What ya gonna do about it, putz?”

While I’m hoping for those things, I may as well hope for Scarlett Johansson to come sit on my lap and nibble on my ear, because that ain’t gonna happen, either.

Next move?  Let’s take down their power grid and plunge North Korea into darkness.

Oh, wait…

north-korea-lights-space-01_76991_990x742

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

And thanks once again to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!  Check out the fabulous compendium of toothsome Rule Five imagery at the Sunday index.

This just in from National Review Online:  The United States of Anxiety.  Excerpt:

If 2014 had a grand theme, it was testicular absence.

In science fiction, corporations are deathless juggernauts imposing their will on governments and galaxies, but in the real world Sony, one of the most powerful business entities in the world, got cowed into submission by the release of some embarrassing e-mails and threats from hackers acting on behalf of the Evil Kingdom of the Hermit Midgets. Hollywood is forever congratulating itself on its courage for banging on, e.g., the American suburban bourgeoisie, because bourgeois American suburbanites don’t generally resolve disagreements by sawing off heads. But let Kim Jung-un take offense at your dopey Seth Rogen movie and Sony is suddenly a wounded kitten.

You think the Weyland-Yutani Corporation would put up with that nonsense?

Facepalm-bearJames Franco and Seth Rogen and the Sony brass might be man-shaped objects carved out of cotton candy, but they are iron men compared with the American college student. Students at the University of California at Irvine felt the need to avail themselves of the services of grief therapists after the grand jury decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for a shooting in Ferguson, Mo., some 1,800 miles away. It’s not like the UCI Anteaters don’t have legitimate reasons for grief – starting with the fact that they are called “Anteaters” — but a no-bill from a grand jury five states away isn’t one of them. Meanwhile at Occidental, students who were receiving class credit to work on Democratic political campaigns were reduced to shambolic mounds of blubbering distress by Republican victories.

Oh, the humanities.

This is a nation that has produced Presidents such as Andrew Jackson – the hero of the Battle of New Orleans, who responded to an assassination attempt by beating the would-be assassin nearly to death with a walking stick.  Also Theodore Roosevelt, whose considered reply to a pistol bullet in the chest was to go on and continue with his speech.  And those are just two of our ballsier Presidents – this is a nation that produced generation after generation of pioneers, men and women who found ways through unknown mountain ranges, across vast dry prairies and deserts, who founded towns, cities, industries.  We are – at least, we were – a nation of doers, of people who refused to take ‘no’ for an answer.

Are we still?

Are neurotic nitwits like the college students blubbering to therapists because of a grand jury decision half a continent away becoming the American norm?

Standing-BearWhat will human puffballs like this do if another Hitler arises somewhere in the world?

In Marvel’s fabulous movie The Avengers, the villain Loki forces a crowd of Germans (!) to kneel before him by an ostentatious display of power.  One elderly man, a look of determination on his face, gets back to his feet.  “No,” he says.  “Not for a man like you.”

“There are no men like me,” Loki, supposedly a Norse god, informs him, sneeringly.

“There are always men like you,” the old man replies.  A line from a movie, maybe, but a cogent point nonetheless.

Are we, as a nation, the kind of a people that would stand up to an actual, real, live, oppressor?  A Hitler, a Stalin, a Pol Pot?

The nitwitted students at UC Irvine are not.  These cottony, squishy children have not the slightest inkling what real hardship is, what real oppression is, or what a cold, brutal place most of the world is.  They would have no idea and no ability to face such reality if it were forced upon them; they would almost certain react by dropping to their knees.

One can only address them in the words of one of our founders, Samuel Adams:

If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.

Deep thoughts, news of the day, totty and the Manly Arts.