Animal’s Daily Conscription News

Israel gets it.

While it isn’t often described as such, this strikes me as an issue of equal treatment under the law, as well as a big helping of sauce for the goose.  Excerpt:

A federal judge in Texas has declared that the all-male military draft is unconstitutional, ruling that “the time has passed” for a debate on whether women belong in the military.

The decision deals the biggest legal blow to the Selective Service System since the Supreme Court upheld the draft in 1981. In Rostker v. Goldberg, the court ruled that the male-only draft was “fully justified” because women were ineligible for combat roles.

But U.S. District Judge Gray Miller ruled late Friday that while historical restrictions on women serving in combat “may have justified past discrimination,” men and women are now equally able to fight. In 2015, the Pentagon lifted all restrictions for women in military service. 

The case was brought by the National Coalition For Men, a men’s rights group, and two men who argued the all-male draft was unfair.

Men who fail to register with the Selective Service System at their 18th birthday can be denied public benefits such as federal employment and student loans. Women cannot register for Selective Service.

I’m not in favor of allowing women to serve in Combat Arms units.  Mrs. Animal, who had a military career spanning eight years and has a Bronze Star among her effects from that service, agrees.  Women as a rule simply do not have the strength, endurance and tolerance of trauma that men do.  There are also hygiene issues involved in having women in the field for prolonged periods, and in combat, there is also the issue that men will do reckless things to protect women.  Deny it all you like, but that’s a fact.  I’d have damn little time for any man who wouldn’t take risks to protect a woman.

But since we do have a Selective Service law, and since prominent women activists have been demanding access to women in traditionally all-male branches like Armor and Infantry, then fine – if you want that, you have to take all that comes with it, including a draft in the event of a major war.

What government does for anyone it must do for everyone, or it must do for no one.

I highly recommend this documentary on the subject.

Personally I would be in favor of doing away with Selective Service altogether.  In our era of a high-tech, modern military that requires a fair amount of training to make soldiers proficient, a two-year conscription isn’t really enough time to produce a troop who is technically and tactically proficient.  Further, the big advantage of a volunteer Army is that we have people who are serving not by order but by choice.  Early in my own career in Uncle Sam’s colors there were plenty of NCOs and officers who remembered what it was like dealing with draftees, and to a man they never wanted to go back to those days.

But equal treatment under the law means just that – equal treatment under the law.  I’m still not in favor of putting women in Combat Arms roles.  But that doesn’t mean, should circumstances call for it, that we couldn’t conscript them into other roles, freeing up men to serve in combat.  If we’re going to have a Selective Service law at all, then yes, it should apply to both sexes.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

Down south in Venezuela, things continue to head south.  Excerpt:

International pressure mounted against Venezuela’s leader Nicolas Maduro on Sunday, with Washington vowing to “take action” after opposition efforts to bring humanitarian aid into the country descended into bloody chaos.

Self-declared interim president Juan Guaido called on the international community to consider “all measures to free” Venezuela after clashes at the border crossing left at least two people dead.

Guaido announced he would participate in Monday’s Lima Group meeting of mostly Latin American countries in Bogota, and called on the international community to be prepared for “all possibilities” regarding Maduro. US Vice President Mike Pence will represent Washington at the meeting.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States “will take action” as he condemned violence perpetrated by Maduro’s “thugs.” President Donald Trump has said that Washington is not ruling out armed action.

Humanitarian aid, much of it from the United States, has become the centerpiece of the standoff between Maduro and Guaido, the 35-year-old leader of Venezuela’s National Assembly who declared himself interim president one month ago.

Meanwhile, in a staggering lack of self-awareness, the daffy old Socialist and Presidential candidate from Vermont tweeted the following:

Venezuela is, of course, the inevitable end-stage of every policy Sanders has championed in his entire non-productive life, beginning with his failed carpentry gigs, continuing with his honeymoon in the Soviet Union and culminating with his championing of Soviet policies in the U.S. Senate.

But back to Venezuela; I’m guessing that there are maybe, oh, 70-30 odds that Maduro and his inner circle end up hanging from lampposts.  That is, of course, unless he manages to flee to someplace like Cuba with the billions in Venezuela’s sovereign wealth he has no doubt squirreled away someplace.  But unless he takes bullion – and that’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility – the international banking system will catch up with him sooner or later.  The key to Maduro’s downfall, though, will be the military, and there are already signs that the rank-and-file soldiery along with a few senior officers are starting to defect.

Venezuela today serves to prove many things about socialism, but aside from all the economic examples, there’s one more think about socialism that has again been proven true:  You can vote your way into socialism, but you’ll have to shoot your way out.

Rule Five Fake Doctors Friday

There are, unfortunately, many more kinds of pseudo-scientific health care woo floating around out there than just Gwyneth Paltrow’s specific form of bullshit.  Charlatans come in all shapes and sizes; here are some good tips on how to spot these assholes.  Excerpt:

The latest in a sadly recurrent theme of people posing as doctors when they have no such background or training is that of a Florida man who donned a white coat in advertisements that proclaimed he could cure diseases. He declared he could “treat hernias, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, arthrosis, renal failure, vision problems, and a host of other health issues.” After the reality was uncovered by investigators that he never held a medical license in the state and he was subsequently arrested, he maintained “he did not believe he needed a license to practice medicine. He said he was a lab technician in Cuba and got his certificate for Iridology, herbology, and nutrition when he moved to Florida.

Here’s what this asshole did:

In this particular scenario, the accused did the following:

“arranged to meet a patient at a home…and, when the patient arrived, he was asked to fill out papers and pay $160…then checked the patient’s blood pressure and then put a band around his head and asked him to hold a metal rod connected to a machine on a table that began making beeping noises once it was turned on. Deputies say he told the patient he was testing his heart, brain, intestinal system, bones, nerves, and “everything else.” After the “test” was complete… told the patient he had diabetes, osteoporosis, and that he was not getting enough oxygen to his brain, among other ailments. He said that for only $2,000, he could cure the patient’s diabetes by using a treatment that would include injecting the patient with “his own blood.”…told them [deputies] he draws the patient’s blood, then injects the same blood he just withdrew because he says it “combats” the blood cells and boosts the immune system…Deputies say he also told the patient he cured the homeowner of his diabetes and called him on the phone to get his testimony.”

Now, as I’ve said many times in these virtual pages, there comes a point where fools and their money deserve to be parted; but I don’t think this is necessarily it.  I will say that the way to combat this sort of horseshit is not regulation but education; promoting articles like the one linked here far and wide, to reduce the number of the ill-informed for people like this Cuban lab tech to prey on.

Which is, of course, one of the reasons I linked it here.

It’s a little baffling that anyone would go to a health care provider and not at least glance at the diplomas on the wall.  Granted, I suppose it’s possible to fake those certificates.  But falling for a line of woo from some asshole whose claim to competency is flat-out stating that he was a “laboratory tech in Cuba”?  That’s a whole ‘nother level of stupid.

I’m fortunate in having had the same primary physician for almost thirty years now.  He knows me, I know him, he knows how much he can pester me about my cigar smoking or my weight, I know when it’s time for me to shut up and listen to him.  We’ve known each other a long time and understand each other.

I understand that few people nowadays have that kind of long-term relationship with a physician, and that’s too bad.  But it’s also too bad that anybody falls for snake-oil salesmen – whether they be lab techs from Cuba of air-headed actresses from Hollywood.

Animal’s Daily Homophobic Trump News

Yes, President Trump hates gay people.  That’s probably why his administration is leading a campaign to end the criminalization of homosexuality worldwide.  Excerpt:

The Trump administration is launching a global campaign to end the criminalization of homosexuality in dozens of nations where it’s still illegal to be gay, U.S. officials tell NBC News, a bid aimed in part at denouncing Iran over its human rights record.

U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, the highest-profile openly gay person in the Trump administration, is leading the effort, which kicks off Tuesday evening in Berlin. The U.S. embassy is flying in LGBT activists from across Europe for a strategy dinner to plan to push for decriminalization in places that still outlaw homosexuality — mostly concentrated in the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean.

“It is concerning that, in the 21st century, some 70 countries continue to have laws that criminalize LGBTI status or conduct,” said a U.S. official involved in organizing the event.

Here’s NBC’s hedge:

Yet by using gay rights as a cudgel against Iran, the Trump administration risks exposing close U.S. allies who are also vulnerable on the issue and creating a new tension point with the one region where Trump has managed to strengthen U.S. ties: the Arab world.

In Saudi Arabia, whose monarchy Trump has staunchly defended in the face of human rights allegations, homosexuality can be punishable by death, according to a 2017 worldwide report from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA). The report identified 72 nations that still criminalize homosexuality, including eight where it’s punishable by death.

That list includes the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and Afghanistan — all U.S. allies — although those countries aren’t known to have implemented the death penalty for same-sex acts. In Egypt, whose leader Trump has effusively praised, homosexual relations aren’t technically illegal but other morality laws are used aggressively to target LGBT people.

As far as our allies go – and the use of scare quotes around “allies” may be appropriate here – well, screw ’em.  They can join the damned 21st century like the rest of the world.

Look, you can agree or disagree with homosexuality – or, like me, not really give a damn one way or another as long as people leave me alone – and still agree that throwing people off of roofs or stoning to them to death is barbaric.  The criminalization of activities that are engaged in freely by consenting adults is a remnant of a less civilized time, and if we can bring some diplomatic pressure to bear on these uncivilized pricks and give Iran a good kick in the teeth in the bargain, I say, “Bravo, President Trump!”

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Reindeer cyclones are a real thing.  Who knew?  Excerpt:

Vikings hunting reindeer in Norway were once confounded by “reindeer cyclones”; a threatened herd would literally run circles around the fierce hunters, making it nearly impossible to target a single animal.

Filmmakers recently captured incredible aerial footage of one of these reindeer cyclones, which aired Feb. 13 on PBS in the documentary “Wild Way of the Vikings,” a program about Vikings and the wilderness they inhabited around A.D. 1000. [Photos: Ancient Arrows from Reindeer Hunters Found in Norway]

One of the documentary’s most striking scenes shows a re-enactment of a Viking hunt interspersed with real footage of reindeer herds. Reindeer were important to the Vikings for their meat, hides, antlers and bones, according to the film.

In the cyclone scene, a lone hunter (an actor playing a Viking) approaches the herd; he notches and releases an arrow. The footage that follows shows an actual herd of reindeer running in circles. As the swirling mass of bodies thunders along a circular path, an overhead camera reveals that the herd’s momentum follows a spiral shape, drawing tightly toward the cyclone’s “eye” at the center.

Faced with this spinning reindeer stampede, any predator — wolf, bear or human — would have a very tough time targeting and overpowering a single reindeer, making this a formidable defense strategy, according to a statement from PBS.

Here’s the image of just such a reindeer cyclone:

That’s actually a pretty great defense against wolves, bears or men armed with primitive weapons.  It’s not bad against a modern, ethical hunter either, as it makes singling out an animal for a clear kill impossible.

Against a hunter or two armed with firearms, hunters who (unethicall) don’t give a shit about how many animals they injure in the process and who are willing to fire indiscriminately into the mass, not so much.

But what I find fascinating about this whole thing is the resemblance to a school of fish, using a very similar, albeit 3-D, schooling tactic to prevent a predator from picking out a single fish.

Nature doesn’t always repeat itself, but it sometimes rhymes.  This is a really neat example.

Animal’s Daily Autophagia News

I swear, Alexandria Occasional Cortex is the gift that keeps on giving – to Republicans.  Now Democrat Carolyn Maloney has piled on to the list of Democrats denouncing Occasional Cortex’s aggressive economic illiteracy.  Excerpt:

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D., N.Y.) on Friday night slammed Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y) for her opposition to Amazon headquarters coming to New York City, saying that she was “disappointed” at people protesting jobs in her district.

Maloney, who has been representing the 12th Congressional District since 2013, appeared on CNN’s “OutFront” to discuss Amazon’s decision to cancel its plan to build a headquarters in Long Island City, Queens, which is part of her district. Host Erin Burnett read Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet celebrating the decision and asked if she shared her sentiment.

“My constituents want jobs,” Maloney said.

“This was 25,000 jobs,” said Burnett, prompting Maloney to say this was a “minimum” amount of jobs.

“It would have been many, many more; 25,00 jobs at $150,000 minimum for the job,” Maloney said. “There were promises for a new school, and as a former teacher, I was intrigued with their plans to have a curriculum in 30 different schools supported by Amazon on high tech. We should be really diversifying our base of taxes, our base of businesses. We are too dependent on financial services.”

“It used to be that we would protest wars. Now we are protesting jobs? People are complaining about jobs coming to your [city] … If this had gone through, it would have made overnight New York City the high-tech capital of the east coast, the most important job center for tech jobs.”

Now the Democrats are nothing if not disciplined; it’s rare to see this kind of autophagia among the ranks of their elected officials, at least.  Non-elected activists all over the political spectrum slash and snap at “their own” all the time, but elected Democrats are normally pretty disciplined.

Not Occasional Cortex.  The girl just doesn’t seem to have any filter between mouth and brain, much less any actual knowledge of economics or the ins and outs of job creation.  And every time she releases another verbal outburst, she has to have elected Republicans chortling gleefully even as he horrifies her own side.

Watch in 2020:  I’m guessing she’ll face a primary challenge by some older, better prepared and more disciplined Democrat.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

Speaking of Rule Five:  Apparently six-bots might not only screw you – they may screw you up as well.  Excerpt:

From the Drudge Report to The New York Times, sex robots are rapidly becoming a part of the global conversation about the future of sex and relationships.

Behind the headlines, a number of companies are currently developing robots designed to provide humans with companionship and sexual pleasure – with a few already on the market.

Unlike sex toys and dolls, which are typically sold in off-the-radar shops and hidden in closets, sexbots may become mainstream. A 2017 survey suggested almost half of Americans think that having sex with robots will become a common practice within 50 years.

As a scholar of artificial intelligence, neuroscience and the law, I’m interested in the legal and policy questions that sex robots pose.

How do we ensure they are safe? How will intimacy with a sex robot affect the human brain? Would sex with a childlike robot be ethical? And what exactly is a sexbot anyway?

More on this in a bit, but first, here’s the bit about sexbots possibly being dangerous:

For example, dangers lurk even in a seemingly innocent scene where a sex robot and human hold hands and kiss. What if the sexbots’ lips were manufactured with lead paint or some other toxin? And what if the robot, with the strength of five humans, accidentally crushes the human’s finger in a display of passion?

It’s not just physical harm, but security as well. For instance, just as a human partner learns by remembering what words were soothing, and what type of touch was comforting, so too is a sex robot likely to store and process massive amounts of intimate information. What regulations are in place to ensure that this data remains private? How vulnerable will the sex robot be to hacking? Could the state use sex robots as surveillance devices for sex offenders?

Maybe I’m a bit naive about this, but for what possible reason would you want your sexbot connected to the internet?  Simply insisting on the sexbot have no wireless connections – something you can verify with an app on your smartphone – would preclude the espionage issue.  And I can’t fathom why you’d build a sexbot with the kind of strength described above.

Now, to circle back to the ethical questions:  What exactly is a sexbot?  Well, never fear, Animal has the answer!  A sexbot, no matter now fancy, how sophisticated, how expensive, is nothing more than a fancy masturbation toy.  A married person having sex with a bot isn’t cheating, they are just (literally) jerking off with a pretty toy.

But a bot designed to look like a child?

That’s a head-scratcher.  The bot is still just a machine.  It’s inanimate.  You can’t molest a bot.  It isn’t a victim.  It’s not capable of giving consent, but there’s no reason why it should have to, any more than your toaster has to give consent before you stick a slice of bread in it.

But there’s an “ick” factor here.  On the one hand, of course, such bots might give a non-victimizing outlet to perverts who might otherwise be lurking around schoolyards.  On the other hand, it might normalize the behavior in the minds to the point where they’re more likely to act out.

There’s probably fodder there to keep a legion of head-candlers busy full time for months.

Rule Five Hot Stuff Friday

Most folks who live in the West know about Yellowstone, and how the entire park sits in what is essentially a titanic volcanic caldera.  Most folks who live in the West and pay any attention at all know that if the Yellowstone megavolcano blows, it’s bye-bye North America.  So here’s an interesting piece on how geologists are monitoring this big volcano and the lake of red-hot magma that fuels it.  Excerpt:

The Yellowstone volcano has erupted three times in history – 2.1 million years ago, 1.2 million years ago and 640,000 years ago. Scientists have previously revealed that, should an earthquake occur, it could take less than two weeks before a catastrophic reaction event with the potential to wipe out three-quarters of the US is triggered. Now, it is the job of geologists to “intensely monitor” a large area of molten rock directly below the surface of the supervolcano, it was revealed in a documentary.

Volcanoes typically erupt when molten rock, known as magma, rises to the surface following the Earth’s mantle melting due to tectonic plates shifting. 

This act creates a series of small earthquakes, fracturing the rock above it days or even weeks before the main eruption. 

Robert Smith, from the University of Utah, is in charge of the seismometers around Yellowstone National Park.

This technology is designed to detect any change in activity, and give anyone in the immediate area some valuable time to evacuate.

Here’s the likely result of a major eruption:

Should the same (eruption) happen again, the ground around Yellowstone National Park would rise upwards forming a swarm of earthquakes.

Then, following the eruption, enormous pyroclastic flows would blast their way across the park. 

This mixture of ash, lava and superheated gas exceed temperatures of 1,000C and can move at speeds of up to 300mph. 

They are predicted to spread more than 100 miles out from Yellowstone, burying states like Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Colorado in three feet of life-extinguishing volcanic ash.

They mention evacuation, but it’s hard to say where folks around Yellowstone – or pretty much anywhere in the Mountain West – should evacuate to, as a major eruption would pretty much wipe out much of North America.  Further, the results of billions of tons of sulfuric acid and volcanic ash in the atmosphere would screw up the weather for quite a few years, likely making crop growing difficult if not impossible.

So, yeah, I’m in favor of keeping an eye on it, even though there wouldn’t be much we could do about it if it happened.  Personally I’d like to have a little notice.

I’ve had folks ask me if the idea worries me.  It doesn’t.  I reserve my worries for things I can change.  But if my world is about to end, I wouldn’t mind a little warning.

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