Animal’s Hump Day News

2014_07_30_Hump Day
Happy Hump Day!

So,it seems Microsoft is giving up on their latest Charlie-Fox OS – Windows 8 – and starting from scratch.  Excerpt:

Microsoft attempted something different and daring with Windows 8. It introduced a whole new interface and means of interaction with your PC that was identical to a smartphone or tablet. It threw out the “Start” menu and mouse-driven interface people had used for decades in favor of a touch-driven interface with tiles, some of which received active information updates.

And people hated it.

“They tried to get their entire audience to jump from a UI [user interface] they were comfortable with to a brand new one with a serious learning curve,” California-based Creative Strategies tech analyst and president Tim Bajarin said. “Had they done a more transitionary product, especially keeping the Start button, I don’t think the impact and perception would have been as bad.”

Then again, it may have been just as bad.

Microsoft seems to feel the need to bring out a total sack-o-crap version of Windows ever few years.  Since Windows 3.1, a fairly stable, decent platform that wasn’t really an OS as it ran over DOS, they have brought out:

  1. Windows 95 – innovative, a bit kludgey but reasonably stable and easy to use.
  2. Windows 98 – improved on 95 in almost every way, a stable, steady platform.
  3. Windows ME – a disastrously horrible piece of shit, the less said about it the better.
  4. Windows XP – wonderful, solid, stable, with vastly improved networking capability – and great staying power, only having been dropped from official MS support in the last few weeks.
  5. Windows Vista – see Windows ME.
  6. Windows 7 – a great improvement over the hose-up that was Vista, with the whiz-bang of Vista and the stability of XP.
  7. Windows 8 – well, read the linked article.
Hump Day Redux.
Hump Day Redux.

All of our personal laptop and desktop computers at the moment are running 7, and Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. like it.  We only days ago upgraded from Office 2007 to Office 360, and while I see almost no difference ergonomically – menus and such seem to be all the same – the wisdom of the cloud-based subscription model remains to be seen.

No company can forever hold the vast majority of market share that Microsoft has held in computer operating systems.  It’s beginning to look like there is room in the market for a serious competitor.  Who?  What?  A Unix-based OS, like Linux?  Something entirely new?  It’s going to be an interesting few years in computer tech.

Animal’s Daily News

Smiling BearThanks once again to Robert Stacy and Wombat-socho for the Rule Five links!

 This just in from the always-worth-reading Dr. Victor Davis Hanson:  Why Is The World Becoming Such a Nasty Place?  Excerpt:

The U.S. looks at the current global violence and then looks away, after a call for a “pivot” or a flash card calling for Boko Haram to give back the girls it has enslaved. Our generation’s version of the bad memories of the 1918 Meuse-Argonne Offensive is Iraq and Afghanistan. Like our grandparents of the 1930s, we feel that the dead lost abroad in the most recent wars were not worth it — and so ignore the gathering war clouds on the present horizon, as if ignoring them means they must disappear.

Glance about — Central America, Venezuela, China, Russia, Ukraine, Crimea, Gaza, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Turkey, etc. — and the world outside the West is mostly a nasty place.  The three common denominators in all these catastrophes are the usual demagogic leaders blaming someone else for their people’s own self-inflicted miseries, a comfortable West that shrugs that somehow all these depressing things and mean people will just go away — and a tired global enforcer whose community organizer leader went into retirement and offers “make no mistake about it” warnings between swings on the golf course.

Sad-BearIf one was to use one word to describe the United States’ foreign policy at the moment, that word would be “impotent.”

And why?

As Dr. Hanson points out, we have an amateur-hour President with no executive experience, a Kelly Girl in the Imperial Mansion.  But Barack Obama is a symptom, not a cause; a symptom of a country whose people are increasingly willing to put up with:

  • The surrender of essential liberties in exchange for the illusion of economic security in the form of government benefits.
  • The weakening of America on the world stage and the increasingly skeptical view of American power held by our enemies – and our allies.
  • The cheapening of our currency by the increasing audacity with which the Imperial Federal government prints fiat dollars.
  • The obscene explosion of Imperial debt.

And so on.

As said, Barack Obama is a symptom.  He is a symptom of the ultimate triumph of style over substance, the elected “leader” of a nation with a plurality of citizens who can name the latest Kardashian fuck-buddy but not their own Congressman.  He is the elected “leader” of a nation so enthralled with electing our first black President that we ushered in eight years – not four, but eight – of a self-besotted incompetent with a list of personal accomplishments the size of a postage stamp.

Were I a religious man, I might say “God help us all.”


Goodbye Blue Monday

Goodbye Blue Monday!
Goodbye Blue Monday!

The District of Columbia’s arbitrary (and stupid) gun restrictions have taken another legal hit.  Excerpt:

The short version of the case is this: While the District of Columbia reluctantly pretended to comply with the DC v Heller Supreme Court case’s finding that he right to bear arms is a fundamental individual right, they did it in a way which functionally prevents any resident of DC from receiving a concealed carry permit.

Not only did the judge rule that “the District of Columbia lacks any way to issue handgun carry licenses to individuals” and that they must put such a mechanism in place, but further he ordered that until such a meachanism is in place, anybody who can legally have a gun in his home in DC can also carry a gun in public without needing a concealed carry permit.

gun control theorySo, not only did the District’s attempt to sidestep the Constitution backfire – it backfired catastrophically, with the result that anyone in the District who can own a handgun can legally carry it.

No doubt there will be a rush to pass more ordinances to restrict the rights of the law-abiding, but in the meantime – if time allows to observe any trend at all – it will be interesting to see what confrontational crime rates in the Imperial City do.  This is arguably one of the most dangerous places in the country, and law-abiding citizens have been stripped of any pretense of a right to self-defense for decades.

Prediction:  Robberies, muggings and so on will trend downward.

Exactly as they have done everywhere concealed-carry reform has been implemented.

Rule Five Friday

2014_07_25_Rule Five Friday (1)2016 is still a long ways away, electorally-speaking, but the Presidential sweepstakes are already in progress.  And one of the more interesting potential candidates blue-side are Massachusetts’ own Fauxcahontas, Elizabeth Warren.  But is Ms. Warren really all that?  Maybe not.  Excerpt:

The notion that Elizabeth Warren should challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party presidential nomination has been optimistically tossed around in left-wing circles for a while now. Activists at Netroots Nation recently chanted ”Run, Liz, run.”  And no doubt, the excitement generated by Warren is a function of her ideological sincerity—a sincerity that’s most obvious when contrasted with Hillary Clinton’s lack of earnestness and pandering.

2014_07_25_Rule Five Friday (2)Still, it seems to me that a lot of people are overestimating the appeal, uniqueness, and popularity of Warren. What’s most enticing about Warren right now is the perception of her, not the reality.

If you’re looking at Fauxcahontas from the right, that perception is somewhat different than that of those encouraging her to run; Elizabeth Warren is just another New England progressive, nothing more, nothing less.  Still, it would be roundly entertaining to see her run, and even more so to see her win the Democratic nomination.  2014_07_25_Rule Five Friday (3)Why?

  • She’s a bit to Barack Obama’s left, but without his talent for speechifying – given a teleprompter (President Obama is an absolutely execrable speaker without a script.)
  • Like many on the political left, and, sadly, all too many on the right, she is pathetically, completely, irretrievably economically illiterate.
  • Her entire academic career is based on a lie – she gained her position at Harvard by claiming minority status, naming a purely fictional Cherokee ancestor.  The GOP can and should hang that on her like a cheap leisure suit.
  • If she was half as competent as she thinks she is, she’d be twice as competent as she really is; that would make primary debates and Presidential debates really, really entertaining.

2014_07_25_Rule Five Friday (4)The Federalist concludes:  She would offer a more honest reflection of Democratic Party’s drift to the far Left on economics. But if anyone believes Democrats have another 2008-Obama on their hands, they haven’t really taken the time to listen to Elizabeth Warren.

Of course, there will be a primary fight, and Democrat voters will get to see Elizabeth Warren in all her amateurish, gaffe-ridden glory – and, almost certainly, will choose someone else.  But who?  Hillary Clinton, who has more baggage than a Samsonite factory?  Daffy old Joe Biden, who can’t open his mouth without something ridiculous coming out?

No matter what happens, it’s going to be an entertaining election cycle.  And the GOP will probably only add to the entertainment factor.

2014_07_25_Rule Five Friday (5)

Animal’s Daily News

Sabatti 1I think I might need one of these.

This, True Believers, is a Sabatti double rifle, made in Italy and imported exclusively by sporting-goods giant Cabela’s.  The Sabatti comes in two grades, with the higher (and more expensive) grade coming in what would ideally be my caliber of choice, the thunderously powerful .470 Nitro Express.

Yes, it’s an elephant gun.

What makes the Sabatti unique in the double-rifle market is its price tag; just a hair over $5,000 for a nicely appointed, heavy-caliber hunting double.  Sure, it’s a bit heavy for Alaskan moose and even grizzlies, but I’ve always been an adherent of the principle that you can shoot little stuff with a big gun, but you can’t shoot big stuff with a little gun.  And the .470NE is manifestly a big gun.

Sabatti 2The double rifle is still a mainstay for dangerous African game (and I still harbor a desire to one day hunt Cape Buffalo) for one reason:  It’s the fastest second shot available in a sledgehammer-grade caliber shoulder weapon.

And, of course, there is the “cool” factor.

So who says one couldn’t go into the Alaskan bush after moose with a rifle that Robert Ruark would have happily carried out hunting buffalo or elephant?  Nobody, that’s who; at least, nobody who is a hunter or shooter, and who isn’t particularly recoil-sensitive.

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.

Animal’s Daily News

Smiling BearThanks as always to The Other McCain for our inclusion in the Sunday Rule Five index!

This morning, let’s look at some tidbits from the world of science.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Is a Fucking Idiot.  ‘Nuff said.

Check out the vehicle that people could drive on Mars.  I doubt you’ll see one at a showroom near you any time soon.  Too bad.

The Secret of Natural Sandstone Arches.  Sandstone arches, not Golden Arches; the only secret to the latter is how they manage to stay in business while serving such crappy food.

What Happened When A State Accidentally Legalized Prostitution.  Thumbnail:  Rape cases decreased.  Specifically:  “The statewide incidence of gonorrhea among women declined by 39 percent, and the number of rapes reported to police in the state declined by 31 percent, according to the paper.”

Finally, in answer to a question that nobody had ever asked until now:  Scientists Use MRI to Measure Precisely How Your Butt Deforms When You Sit Down.  Excerpt:

The complex deformation of buttocks tissue seen in this case study may help explain the inconsistent results reported in finite element models. 3D imaging of the seated buttocks provides a unique opportunity to study the actual buttocks response to sitting.”

Uh… OK?

And on that note, we return you to your Tuesday, already in progress.

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.

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