Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

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

On to a longevity item:  The goal, of course, is to grow human tissues and organs inside swine; this is just one step in that direction.  Excerpt:

Scientists have published the first peer-reviewed account of creating pig–human hybrid fetuses, a step toward growing animals with organs that are suitable for transplantation into humans.

The team that made these chimaeras also reports the creation of mouse–rat and human–cow hybrids on 26 January in Cell1. Such modified animals could provide researchers with new models for testing drugs and understanding early human development.

To create chimaeras, scientists generally inject pluripotent stem cells — which can become any type of organ — from one species into the early embryo of a second species. In theory, the foreign cells should differentiate and spread throughout the body, but in practice, producing viable hybrid embryos has proven difficult.

Algernop Krieger was not available for comment.

There’s been a lot of speculation about human longevity in recent years, and this might be a step in that direction; one way to achieve longevity would be the ability to replace organs with spares as needed.  If the research community can figure out how to produce organs using the patient’s own stem cells, that would be even better; no rejection issues.  But growing them in a pig would be better than no spare parts at all.

And, one would hope, we won’t have any The Island-type scenarios.

Allow me, by the way, to add my enthusiastic support for the concept of longevity.  I’m pretty sure I could live a thousand years and never manage to fulfill my entire bucket list.

Rule Five CalExit Friday

Could California leave the union?  Well, since I’m on an extended project in Silicon Valley right now, I sure hope that if they do, they give me some time to scoot for home before sealing the borders.  There is some talk about a tax revolt on the part of the California state government,

 As a practical matter, though; could California leave the Union?  Probably not.  (Even though there are days when I think it might just be a good thing for the rest of the U.S. if they did.)  There are an awful lot of details that the CalExit proponents aren’t thinking about.  Let’s look at some of those details.

  1. Federal land in the state.  Almost half of the state’s area is Federally owned; National Forest, BLM, military bases, and so forth.  What would become of those Federal lands?  Would the new California national government pay the United States fair value for those lands?  Or would the state just seize the properties?  If so, how?  Which brings us to:
  2. The military.  Never mind for a moment that the several military bases in California are Federal property, and that the soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen on those bases work for the Federal government and are sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, not the state of California.  Would California start their own military?  Their own army, navy, and air force?  How would they pay for it?  More to the point, who would serve in it?  Who would lead it?  There is no Lee in California; no Longstreet, no Jackson.
  3. Water.  California doesn’t have enough native water to support its population.  Instead, they depend on water from the Colorado river.  If California secedes, how will they pay for this water?  Rivers can be dammed and/or diverted.  Colorado, Nevada and Arizona could certainly find good use for the 4.4 million acre-feet of water that go to California every year.
  4. Electricity.  California imports about 1/3 of its electricity from its neighboring states.  Given that the state is not fond of building new power plants – at least, the wealthy coastal elites who effectively run the state are not fond of building new power plants – what will California do for power?  Will the continue to pay to suckle at the United States’ power grid?  If so, how will they pay for it?
  5. Currency.  Will California start coining money?  Who will set monetary and fiscal policy for the new nation – the people who are running California’s economy now?  Welcome to the Greece of the West, folks.
  6. Politics.  California is a big, sparsely populated red state dominated by a few densely populated bright blue population centers – primarily Los Angeles and San Francisco.  The state’s farmers and tradesmen are ruled, effectively, by a well-off coastal elite.  Suppose rural northern California, the Central Valley, and maybe Orange County refuse to go along?  What if those areas vote to stay in the United States?  Will the new California national government stick to their newly found principles of self-determination and allow those areas to remain?  And if they do, how will a tiny coastal nation consisting of a couple of major cities and a few hundred miles of coastline feed itself?  Speaking of which:
  7. Food.  California is largely desert.  The fertile Central Valley produces less and less food all the time, strangled by excessive rules and regulations from the state and (to be fair) the Imperial government.  Should the secession prove acrimonious, could California find the wherewithal to release Central Valley farmers (if there are any left) to start producing grain and truck crops?
  8. Foreign Affairs.  Who would California’s international allies be?  The most obvious one is the mother country – the United States – but just as in the first time this was tried, it’s likely there would be some hard feelings.  Nations have no permanent friends, only permanent interests; who would serve California’s interests in an alliance?  Mexico?  China?

There’s also the 1861 question; should California announce their secession, would President Trump send in the Army to force them to remain?  If so, California wouldn’t be able to resist the way the old Confederacy did.  It’s highly doubtful half the professional U.S. military would defect to fight for California.

Honestly, the folks agitating for a secession of California aren’t thinking this thing through.  The one thing California would have to do to make it as a separate nation is to switch political philosophies and adopt personal liberty, free markets, and minimal intervention by government in the economy and the property rights of its citizens – and this, True Believers, is everything that California is not.  It would be a matter of decades at the most before California sank into a Venezuelan quagmire.  We don’t need that on our western border, and California’s citizens don’t need it in their bank accounts.

Animal’s Daily Sounds of Silence News

No suppression here.

Been thinking of a suppressor for your favorite shooting iron, but have been deterred by the onerous Class III paperwork and fees?  Relief may be on the way, for your ears and wallet both.  Excerpt:

Rep. Jeff Duncan (SC-03) along with Rep. John Carter (TX-31) have introduced a bill called the Hearing Protection Act, which moves to eliminate a $200 tax and nine-month approval process on suppressors. Guns are loud, and these legislators are trying to spare some ears from permanent damage.

According to CNN Money, the federal government started restricting them in 1934 with the National Firearms Act, aimed at controlling gang violence. As gang violence continues to rise in today’s world, the legislation was clearly unsuccessful.

Current regulations are supposedly meant to keep suppressors out of the hands of criminals, but criminals, for the most part, do not even use suppressors. They can’t afford them, they are cumbersome to carry, and they don’t actually make gunshots silent.

For those who have watched too many James Bond or “Bourne” movies, and believe silencers actually “silence” guns, here’s a bit of perspective:

Your eardrum ruptures at about 150 decibels.

An unsuppressed AR-15 is about 165 decibels, and a suppressor will reduce that by about 30-35 decibels, to about 125 or 130. An unsuppressed shotgun sounds off at about 145-165 decibels, and a suppressor can bring it down to about 137 decibels. Meanwhile, a suppressed pistol is about 125db.

Many online sources state that the threshold for pain is about 120db, and that a nearby jackhammer rates at 130db, so how can anyone argue that a silencer actually enables criminals to get away with gun violence? Unless you’ve attended one too many rock concerts or lost your hearing aids at church, you’re going to hear the blast whether you try to or not.

Now, this bill doesn’t completely deregulate suppressors – it just removes them from the Class III/NFA list, making buying a suppressor just like buying a rifle, shotgun or handgun.  You’ll have to go through the same background check system that you go through buying a firearm.  So the “easy access for criminals” argument just won’t fly.

Neither does the “we should be more like Europe” argument.  In most European countries, suppressors are freely sold, and their use is encouraged – in some places required – as a courtesy to one’s neighboring landowners when one is hunting or engaging in a little target practice.  So why not here?

Crimes committed with suppressed firearms, even where they are are readily available, are so infrequent as to be almost non-existent.  There’s no rational reason to oppose this bill.

But then, would-be gun-banners have never been long on rationality.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

There’s been a lot of talk lately about California (where yr. obdt. temporarily hangs his hat) leaving the Union, presumably over disgust with the election of President Trump.  I’ll talk about why that won’t happen in another day or so, but here’s a more likely idea – break California into two states.  No, not along north-south lines; this idea is better.  Excerpt:

Lots of people have their favorite maps for new states. For decades, the natural dividing line ran due east from the coast, just north of Bakersfield; it emphasized the differences between northern and southern California. My favorite design was for three states: one centered on Los Angeles, one centered on San Francisco, and everyone else in a third state. More recently, in 2009, then GOP assemblyman Bill Maze proposed creating two states: a Coastal California state and an Inland California state. The big population centers of San Francisco and Los Angeles would be in the first, but the inland state would include some large coastal counties such as Orange (home of Disneyland) and San Diego.

Image from article.

The new states would be far more in sync on policy. The coastal state would emphasize environmental values, the “next big thing” economy of Silicon Valley, and the multicultural diversity of L.A. The inland state would have vast water resources, abundant agricultural lands, and its own cutting-edge facilities in sectors ranging from aerospace to data processing.

It’s not a bad idea.

Unlike the ill-advised CalExit idea, this plan involves no squabbles over Federal lands in the state.   It divides California along political lines rather than geographical lines; it would indeed add two more Senators to that exalted upper chamber, the present state’s Electoral College votes as well as their House districts would be divided up.  The Central Valley’s farmers would be free of the strangling regulations favored by the wealthy coastal elites, and those elites would be free to pursue their leftward policies without a lot of bitching from the rest of the state.

There’s one big problem – how would California’s endless financial problems be divided?

It’s Judge Neil Gorsuch.

Soon to be Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, from our own Colorado.  A little bit of his background is here.

The Left is already weighing in:

I like the pick.  I disagree with him on a few things, mostly social issues, but based on his background and record I think he will be a thoughtful, respectable Justice who will interpret the Constitution accurately and with the intent of the drafters in mind.  And, at least the 1st and 2nd Amendments will be safe for a little while longer.

Imagine who Her Imperial Majesty might have appointed.  Imagine that, and shudder.

Animal’s Daily Uncommon Sense News

Bill Maher finds an acorn:  Bill Maher: Liberals, We Lost Because We’re Offended All The Time And We Act Like Emasculated Husbands.  Excerpt:

Comedian Bill Maher is no conservative, but a broken clock is right twice a day. Maher has veered off the liberal path on Islamic extremism, admitted that his side doesn’t know anything about firearms regarding Second Amendment issues, and unapologetically points out the false equivalence between Christian and Islamic-inspired terror attacks.

With the 2016 election over and President Donald J. Trump now in the White House, Maher has some advice for how liberals can win: stop being politically correct. Granted, I hope liberals continue with their insufferable ethos of trigger warnings and safe spaces, so we can undo the damage done by the Obama presidency—but I think we can all agree that the authoritarian agenda of political correctness is a cancer on the nation.

 During the election just past, a big part of President Trump’s appeal was his blunt language; he not only is not politically correct, he deliberately eschews political correctness; he seems not to give a damn who he offends, and when people complain, he tells them where to head in.

That is, frankly, a breath of fresh air in our current era of polished, rehearsed politicians.

But Maher, before slipping into his “people would love liberal positions if we just explained them better,” misses one key point.  It wasn’t just the hyper-sensitivity that doomed the political Left in the last few election cycles.  It was precisely the issues that the Left and the Democratic Party went on about at length; when the nation’s regular blue-collar workers and small business owners are worried about making the mortgage and finding the next job on the career path, issues like transgender bathroom rights and “the patriarchy” ring pretty hollow.

That’s what Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I missed in 2016.  That’s one of the reasons she lost.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

First up – our thanks once again to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

On this weekend past, my first in the Bay Area (this trip) I got up Saturday morning to do some exploring.

Fortunately the lodgings here are on the south end of the metro area, right near the on-ramp to CA Highway 17, which goes south to the oceanside town of Santa Cruz.  I drove down there, then caught Highway 1 north up the coast.

It was a beautiful, bright sunny day, temps in the high 50s, perfect for bumming around outdoors.  My favorite kind of day; I had no place to go and all day to get there.  Photos and a video (unfortunately not hi-def) follow. Click for more!

Rule Five Citizenship Friday

I found this interesting; Theodore Roosevelt Quotes on Citizenship.  Excerpt:

Enter the words of Theodore Roosevelt. Below you’ll find a small treasury of excerpts from some of the addresses he gave during his lifetime. When you look at anthologies of all his speeches, you find that the themes he hits in these selections were the ones he offered, with only slight alterations, over and over and over again, in every town and city he visited on country-crossing whistle stop tours. You’ll likely be surprised to find how much they resonate, and yet how almost foreign this kind of rhetoric sounds. One finds it impossible to imagine any modern politician speaking this way — using this lost language of virtue, and charging citizens towards both noble ideals and practical common sense.

TR’s words call to us from the dust — challenge us to revive what we haven’t even fully realized we’re missing, and to take responsibility for that which we claim to loathe in politics.

During this election, there has been plenty of head-shaking and tsk-tsking; all that seems foul is the fault of that “other” party, those “other” people who do not share one’s values. Or the problem is the poor slate of candidates, all of whom the average voter finds repugnant to varying degrees. Yet a people invariably gets exactly the candidates it deserves, and they emerge not from one segment of the population, but from the cultural milieu to which every single individual, on every side of the aisle, contributes.

Here are a few gems from the Bull Moose himself:

No law will ever make a coward brave, a fool wise or a weakling strong. All the law can do is to shape things that no injustice shall be done by one to another and so that each man shall be given the chance to show the stuff that is in him.”

The very last thing that an intelligent and self-respecting member of a democratic community should do is to reward any public man because that public man says he will get the private citizen something to which this private citizen is not entitled, or will gratify some emotion or animosity which this private citizen ought not to possess.”

Remember that the greatness of the fathers becomes to the children a shameful thing if they use it only as an excuse for inaction instead of as a spur to effort for noble aims.

We live in a rough world, and good work in it can be done only by those who are not afraid to step down into the hurly burly to do their part in the dust and smoke of the arena. The man who is a good man, but who stays at home in his own parlor, is of small use. It is easy enough to be good, if you lead the cloistered life, which is absolutely free from temptation to do evil because there is no chance to do it.”

But here’s the real kicker, one of my favorite quotes from the man who has long been one of my personal heroes:

The most successful politician is he who says what the people are thinking most often in the loudest voice.”

Think on that quote for a moment.  Isn’t that what we just saw happen last fall?  One man stood out in the 2016 Presidential election by giving voice, roughly, crudely and loudly, to what (obviously) a large enough plurality of voters were thinking – and that man now sits in the Imperial Mansion.

It’s probable – nay, likely – that a man of TR’s caliber would not today subject himself to the non-stop scrutiny and abuse that constitutes public life today.  And that’s a shame, especially when you look at the general run of pols we have in the halls of power at this juncture; it would be hard to name a larger body of nitwits, poltroons and nincompoops that those that infest the halls of Congress today.

We still have Teddy’s words and deeds as a reminder.  Would that more people took them to heart.

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