All posts by Animal

Animal’s Daily News

Splashing-BearsThis just in from the always-worth-reading Dr. Thomas Sowell:  Glib ‘Happy Talk.’  Excerpt:

We will be lucky to get through the remainder of President Obama’s term in office without a major catastrophe, from which we may or may not recover.

Iran has announced repeatedly that it plans to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. But you don’t need an intercontinental missile to reach Israel from Iran. Tehran is less than a thousand miles from Jerusalem. As was said long ago, “Send not to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.”

It was painfully ironic to hear Ms. Rice tell us that the danger we face today is not as serious as the dangers we faced in World War II.

Anyone who has actually studied the period that led up to World War II knows that the Western democracies followed feckless policies remarkably similar to those that we are following today. And anyone who studies that war itself knows that the West came dangerously close to losing it before finally getting their act together and turning things around.

In a nuclear age, we may not have time to let reality finally sink in on our leaders and wake up the public to the dangers.

It is perhaps belaboring the obvious that Dr. Sowell is smarter than anyone – maybe everyone  – on President Obama’s foreign policy staff.

It is also belaboring the obvious to note that there is, protestations of the current Administration aside, a clear, critical and existential to the West in the form of ISIL and their ideological counterparts.  What is not obvious is the Administration’s stubborn refusal to call this threat what it is – Islamic terrorism.

ISIL commits their horrors – burning, beheading, rape, massacre – in the name of Islam.  Al Qaeda likewise.  And the single greatest state sponsor of terror in the world since their 1979 Islamic Revolution?  The Islamic Republic of Iran, with an aggressively Islamist government.

Grizzly-Bear-FaceYes, it is also belaboring the obvious to point out that most Muslims are not terrorists.  But it is also obvious that almost all of the terrorists operating today are Muslims.

That makes the refusal of the Obama Administration to acknowledge the threat that much more baffling.  The civilized world wants these savages destroyed – but we can’t destroy them with half-measures and euphemisms.

Animal’s Hump Day News

2015_02_18_Hump Day
Happy Hump Day!

Smaller Fusion Reactors Could Deliver Big Gains.  Excerpt:

Researchers from the UK firm Tokamak Energy say that future fusion reactors could be made much smaller than previously envisaged – yet still deliver the same energy output. That claim is based on calculations showing that the fusion power gain – a measure of the ratio of the power from a fusion reactor to the power required to maintain the plasma in steady state – does not depend strongly on the size of the reactor. The company’s finding goes against conventional thinking, which says that a large power output is only possible by building bigger fusion reactors.

Of course, there’s a catch; the article later states that “many challenges remain.”  That’s the biggest understatement since Jim Lovell said “Houston, we have a problem.”

Small fusion reactors sure would solve a lot of energy problems.  But there’s another nuclear solution that is available now; small fission reactors.

Excellent BearWhy are we not building more fission reactors?  We desperately need the electrical  generation capacity.  There are fabulously safe pebble-bed reactors, there are lithium reactors, there are any number of ways to build clean, safe, and, yes, green (compared to coal) fission reactors.

Nuclear power has to be a larger part of our energy portfolio.  Fusion is a ways off, but fission is here now.  It’s staggeringly stupid to be spending money on windfarm humbugs when proven energy technology already exists.

Animal’s Daily News

_81043906_mars_cloudThanks once again to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

What the hell is this?  (Image to the left from story.)  Excerpt:

A mysterious haze high above Mars has left scientists scratching their heads.

The vast plume was initially spotted by amateur astronomers in 2012, and appeared twice before vanishing.

Scientists have now analysed the images and say that say the formation, stretching for more than 1,000km, is larger than any seen before.

Writing in the journal Nature, the researchers believe the plume could be a large cloud or an exceptionally bright aurora.

However, they are unsure how these could have formed in the thin upper reaches of the Martian atmosphere.

AliensInsert the inevitable “I, for one, welcome our alien overlords” meme here.

The Nature story can be found here , behind a paywall for the full story.

History Channel nutbars notwithstanding, this will certainly turn out to be a natural phenomenon.  But this is one of those moments in science that’s exciting – when you look up and the first thing that comes to mind is “what the hell is that?”

The challenge then becomes finding out what the hell it is.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Here’s an interesting idea from PJMedia scribe and fellow Colorado blogger Stephen Green:  Welcome to the Welfare Store.  Excerpt:

Is there a way then to help the needy without enriching strippers, pot dealers, liquor stores, and under-the-table facilitators?

Yes there is.

Eliminate cash benefits. Period.

If we must have a federal-level welfare program to feed and clothe the hungry, the worst way to do it is by giving away free cash money.

How about this instead.

Washington could block-grant the money to states, based on population size and poverty rate. The states (or localities) in turn would operate Welfare Stores, where the needy could buy food and clothes at heavily subsidized prices. Welfare benefits would be paid out with little more than pocket change, which would be exchanged at local Welfare Stores for the goods which our neediest really need.

The food would be simple, hearty, wholesome — and unprepared. No bags of Cheetos, no candy bars, no liquor. Just milk, ground beef, whole chickens, eggs, butter, peanut butter, jelly, bread, flour, fresh fruits & veggies, and any other staples I’ve left out. The clothes would be basic, too. No designer labels, no high fashion. Just decent clothes, made to last.

Everything anybody needed to feed and clothe themselves and their kids, and nothing else, at prices so low you couldn’t even tip a Tuesday afternoon-shift stripper for the same amount of cash it would take to fill your grocery cart with a week’s worth of staples.

I like the gist of this, but would make a few changes; first, instead of having the Imperial City gather money and block-grant it to the states, why not just leave the Imperial Federal government out of it altogether and have the several states administer this?  Second – Fishing Trip Beareven without this, it would seem to be trivially easy to just turn off the ability to withdraw cash with an EBT card.  That would solve a great deal of the abuse of these systems.

But I still like the approach defined in my Manifesto better.  Coupons for fixed amounts of fixed commodities; bulk rice, bulk beans, lean ground turkey and so on.  Large, paper coupons, clearly marked “Government Assistance Food Voucher.”  Yes, I think there should be some stigma attached; that incentivizes people to get off public assistance.  Potential for fraud approaches zero.

Some hand-wringers will complain, “but Animal, you can’t tell poor people what they can and can’t eat!”  My reply:  “If I’m paying for it, I damn well can.”  And since my (and your) tax dollars are paying for this, yes, we damn well can – and should.

The incentives in our welfare system all run in exactly the wrong direction.  That must change.

Rule Five Friday

2015_02_13_Rule Five Friday (1)Am I a RINO?

 Full disclosure: I loathe the term “Republican in Name Only (RINO).” In my experience this term is generally used to describe any Republican who disagrees with the complainer on any given topic. Social-issues conservatives use it to describe libertarians, defense hawks use it to describe non-interventionists, and fiscal hawks use it to describe Bushian “compassionate conservatives.”

 It’s not that some of us – indeed, all of us – are not sometimes justifiably subject to criticism. It’s just that this term, RINO, has been battered around so much that it’s lost all meaning. It’s now the intellectual equivalent of shouting “TROLL!” on an internet message board. It doesn’t mean anything; it doesn’t draw any valuable distinction; it’s just a whine, an ad hominem with no significance – a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

 And, I’ll admit, part of my irritation with this term stems from having had it applied to myself, on more than one occasion. Why? Because I dare to think for myself, and depart from what some folks consider Republican orthodoxy.


 I’m an atheist. There’s an old saw that states “if a conservative is an atheist, he doesn’t go to church. If a liberal is an atheist, he tries to get any mention of religion removed from public life.” I’m perfectly happy if other folks are religious, and it brings them peace, solace and a sense of well-being. I don’t share their beliefs but t2015_02_13_Rule Five Friday (2)hat doesn’t mean their beliefs are without value – to them. I say “Merry Christmas.” Why? Because that’s the name of the holiday. I am probably more irritated with activist leftie atheists than Christians are, because I get tarred with the same broad brush that the lefties are hit with in reply.

 And so to many Christian conservatives I’ve encountered, my atheism renders me a suspicious character – maybe a RINO.

 I’m a (small-l) libertarian on most social and legal issues. I think the War on Drugs has been an unmitigated disaster and should be ended. I think the War on Poverty has been an unmitigated disaster and should be ended. I think the Imperial Federal government should get the hell out of things like education, commerce, child care and health insurance. I don’t see anywhere in the2015_02_13_Rule Five Friday (3) Constitution that allows the Imperial Federal government to intervene in people’s personal decisions unless those decisions cause harm to someone else.

 So to many establishment-type and law-and-order conservatives I’ve encountered, my libertarian streak renders me a suspicious character – maybe a RINO.

 I have a strong science background. I don’t “believe” in evolution; belief implies acceptance without evidence. There is plenty of evidence. In fact there are – literally – tons of evidence. I accept biological evolution, intellectually, as the best explanation of the present diversity of life on Earth, based on an examination of the (tremendous amounts of) evidence, evidence that includes varied fields such as genetics, zoology and paleontology. I understand climate change – that is, I understand that Earth’s climat2015_02_13_Rule Five Friday (4)e has changed continually, cyclically, through most of the planet’s 4.55 billion year history, and that it will go on changing, whether Western civilization cripples itself to appease a few hysterics or not. And I understand that the Earth is 4.55 billion years old.  As liberal icon Daniel Patrick Moynihan once famously said(and he was, in this case, correct) people are entitled to their own opinions, but not there own facts.  As an Objectivist, I base my decisions and opinions on facts.

 So to many evangelical Bible-believing conservatives, my science background renders me a suspicious character – maybe a RINO.

 And here’s the big one: I don’t think abortion should be illegal, within limits. Those limits?  I think limiting late-term abortions is reasonable, especially as the father of a 30-week preemie who is now a college student and a 2nd degree black belt.  And I think parental rights for minors trumps everything else – when my kids were minors, they couldn’t have a tooth pulled without parental consent, I’ll be damned if an invasive procedure should be exempt.  And finally, I object to public funding for abortions – again, not for moral reasons, but for economic ones.  The taxpayers are not responsible for people’s poor decisions; an abortion is an elective procedure, and should no more be done on the taxpayer dime than should a nose job.  But outside of those narrow exemptions, I think abortion should be legal and safe.

I think Roe V. Wade was bad constitutionally, as I think it intruded unreasonably on the principle of federalism – but my criticism of that finding is constitutional, not moral.  I also think things like this are appropriately handled at the state, not the Imperial Federal level. But I also don’t think government at any level should be making blanket legislation regarding medical decisions. And the moment you start carving out exceptions for every different circumstance, you 2015_02_13_Rule Five Friday (5)eventually end up with – the IRS.

 So to many pro-life conservatives, my libertine stance on abortion renders me a suspicious character – maybe a RINO.

 On the plus side for almost everyone in the Republican Party, I’ve been a registered Republican and a reliable GOP voter since 1979. I’m a Life Member of the NRA and a long-time (40 years) Second Amendment activist (probably something of an understatement there.)

I wrote a book on the antics of hysterical (and almost universally left-wing) animal rights kooks. I think, and regularly write, that the three great, transcendent crises the United States faces today are the runaway Imperial debt, the unconstitutional ballooning of the Imperial Federal government and the rise of radical, fundamentalist Islam.

 But, as I said earlier, the term RINO is all too often used to describe any Republican that the complainer disagrees with on any given issue. And I’ve had it applied to me, by one or two (hundred) folks, because they differ from me on one or more of the above issues.

 That’s far too broad – and ridiculous – a brush.

A long time ago Ben Franklin quipped “We must all hang together, or we shall most assuredly hang separately.”  We of the political Right need to learn from him.  We need to remember that someone who disagrees with us 20% of the time agrees with us 80% of the time.

We’ll keep losing Presidential elections until we figure that out.

2015_02_13_Rule Five Friday (6)

Animal’s Daily Pet Peeves

Relaxed BearA few random peeves:

People who conclude every written sentence with “LOL” should be beaten to death with their keyboards.

People who chew with their mouths open in public should be force-fed syrup of ipecac, so they know how everyone around them feels.

Caps lock.   Writing in all caps isn’t emphatic; it just makes you look like an idiot.

Business people (or anyone else) who say they want “110%.”  You can’t give more than 100%, by definition.

Improper use of “decimate.”  “Decimate” means “to reduce by ten percent.”  If we, as the President claims, “decimate” Al Qaeda, we have reduced them in number by ten percent.  That’s not very good.  In fact, it sucks.

Yes-YOU-bearAnyone who brings an infant or toddler to a movie and sits there in the theater while the kid cries loudly or otherwise raises hell, should have someone sneak in their bedroom late at night and blow a boat horn in their ear.

I’m frequently tempted to carry a string of firecrackers.  Why?  For people who come to the bottom of an escalator, stop and stand there looking around.  A string of Black Cats going off around their feet will get their dead asses moving.

Slow people in general.  A couple of years back I was buzzing through the Philly airport with a tight connection, and had to go to another concourse across the airport.  While passing through the terminal I passed a group of college-age kids who were also walking.

Excellent BearI passed them.  Me, a middle-aged man with a backpack full of paper and electronics passed a bunch of college kids.  Unencumbered college kids.

Who were walking on a goddamn moving walkaway while I was walking on the corridor beside it.

Do these kids have no damn sense of purpose whatsoever?

One Step Ahead

Interstate Commerce.
Interstate Commerce.

Well, well, well:  Federal Judge Strikes Down Federal Interstate Handgun Transfer Ban.  Excerpt:

In a major victory today for Second Amendment advocates, Judge Reed O’Connor of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division, declared the federal interstate handgun transfer ban to be unconstitutional.

“The federal interstate handgun transfer ban is unique compared to other firearms restrictions because it does not target certain people (such as felons or the mentally ill), conduct (such as carrying firearms into government buildings or schools), or distinctions among certain classes of firearms (such as fully automatic weapons or magazine capacity). Instead,” Judge O’Connor wrote in Mance v. Holder, “the federal interstate handgun transfer ban targets the entire national market of handgun sales and directly burdens law-abiding, responsible citizens who seek to complete otherwise lawful transactions for handguns.”

It defies reason to understand what good this interstate ban did, especially in this modern age of instant (or mostly so) background checks.  Sure, laws on gun ownership differ from state to state, but it is already the responsibility of the dealer to comply with the laws of the jurisdiction where the purchaser lives.

Smiling BearTraveling has its costs.  When on the road in the States I never pass a gun shop, as you never know what oddball treasure you might find; but until now, I haven’t bothered looking in the handgun cases, because I couldn’t buy one (C&R weapons aside) except in my own Colorado.  Once this decision is signed, sealed and delivered, I will have reason to check out those handgun cases.

This is a decision with much upside and no down.  Striking down stupid laws is a Good Thing.

Animal’s Hump Day Wildcat News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

In recent years it seems like we’ve seen an explosion (pun intended) of new rifle cartridges.  Some of these are commercial adoptions of popular wildcat rounds, some are purposely developed by gun and/or ammunition manufacturers.   I’m not immune to the wildcatting bug myself; I’ve long thought of having my favorite .30-06 rechambered to the .30-06 Ackley Improved, which gives .300 H&H Magnum ballistics while still allowing use of regular .30-06 factory loads.

For the most part, though, I’m a practical kind of guy, and most of my rifles are hunting rifles.  While plenty of folks love to play with custom calibers, or line up to buy the first examples of the latest Eargesplitten Loudenboomer Magnum, I’m pretty content to stick with cartridges that have been around a while.

Now, admittedly, I’ve got quite a few more rifles than I need for just hunting North American big game, like buck mulies or big bull elk.  I load for and shoot rifles in the .22 Hornet (developed in the 1920’s and adopted by Winchester in 1930), the .45-70 (developed 1873), the .338 Winchester Magnum (developed 1958), and the .30 WCF (developed 1895.)

Most of these cartridges are readily available in any large gun or sporting-goods store; hell, you can buy many of them in Wal-Mart, at least some kind of ammo to get you shooting.  But when it comes to availability of ammo, you still can’t really beat the old .30-06 Springfield.  The ’06 may be 109 years old, but it’s still one of the best big-game rounds going; if I know someone interested in learning the ins and outs of hunting and shooting who wants to buy a single rifle for North American big game, I advise them to buy a .30-06.  It will easily handle anything from antelope to moose, although it may be a bit on the light side for big Alaskan bears and the largest bull Alaska-Yukon moose.  But the ’06 has a huge advantage for those packing one gun across long distances, perhaps in airline checked baggage:  If you lose your ammo supply somewhere en route, you can walk into almost any gas station, bait shop, or general store (there are still some around) and buy at least some kind of ammo that you can re-zero and get to work with.

WinchesterThe only other rifle cartridge that you can say that about it perhaps the old .30 WCF (.30-30, for those not familiar with the original name) and the trienta-trienta is popular enough from the Yukon to the Canal Zone, but not quite up to game like elk or moose.  It’s strictly a 150-200 yard cartridge for deer-sized game.

I reckon the .30-06 will be around at least as long as I am.  Rifle and cartridge design hasn’t changed all that much, overtly, in the last 100 years; most modern bolt-action rifles are adaptations of the 1898 Mauser, and scores of cartridges, wildcat and otherwise, are still based on the .30-06 case.  What has advanced in the shooting world is metallurgy, ammunition propellants and projectiles, and optics.  But a good case design is a good case design, which is why the .30-06 remains one old dog that’s learned lots of new tricks.

Animal’s Daily News

laughing_bearThanks once again to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

Today’s dose of terminal stupidity comes from the University of California (where else?) where the student government has apparently voted to divest themselves – from America.

Jefferson Davis was unavailable for comment.  Excerpt:

The University of California Student Association board – which represents all 233,000 students enrolled in the UC system’s 10 campuses – approved a resolution on Sunday that calls on the system’s leaders to financially divest from the United States.

The measure cited alleged human rights violations by America such as drone strikes that have killed civilians, and claimed the country’s criminal justice system is racist, among other accusations.

The “Resolution Toward Socially Responsible Investment at the University of California” passed with an overwhelming majority vote of 11-1-3.

OK, then, students, have it your way.

JackassNo more Imperial subsidies for your school.  No more Imperial financial aid for students at UC; no Pell grants, no Imperially backed student loans, no nothing, no kidding.  Your tuition, which you will now have to all pay yourselves, will also have to cover not only building but road maintenance in and around  your campus – and security, since the local and State police will no longer answer calls to your campus.  I advise you buy some guns for your campus cops – except, this bunch of brain-dead twits probably won’t vote for that.

Oh, and by the way, you’ll need some sort of power plant, since your electricity and natural gas will be cut off.  And your postal service.

If these imbeciles are the future of our country – well, then, we’re hosed.