Category Archives: Deep Thoughts

Deep thoughts, omphaloskepsis, and other random musings.

Rule Five Friday

2015_05_22_Rule Five Friday (1)A recurring theme on the blogosphere in general and in these pages in particular is that we are not being well-served by our employees in government, especially at the Federal Imperial level.  When contemplating this issue the other day, the idea occurred that maybe my own occupation may be better suited to governing than those of our last few Presidents.

Before you ask, no, I’m not running for President.  I’d sooner shovel shit than hold elected office; it smells better, and shoveling shit is at least honest work.

Moving on:  Let’s have a look at the supposed occupations (or at least educational backgrounds) of our last few Presidents:

2015_05_22_Rule Five Friday (2)Richard Nixon: Lawyer, Sailor (Navy Lieutenant Commander)

Gerald Ford: Football Player, Sailor (Navy Lieutenant Commander), Lawyer

Jimmy Carter: Sailor (Navy Lieutenant), peanut farmer, writer

Ronald Reagan:                 Actor & broadcaster, President of the Screen Actors Guild

George H. W. Bush: Pilot (Navy Lieutenant, Junior Grade), Businessman (Oil), C.I.A. Director, ambassador to China.

2015_05_22_Rule Five Friday (3)Bill Clinton: Lawyer, Law lecturer

George W. Bush: Pilot (Texas Air National Guard), Businessman (Oil, baseball)

Barack Obama: Community Organizer, Lawyer, Professor

Look at all those lawyers!  Since 1972, half of our chief executives have been lawyers!  At least the lawyers were equally distributed between parties.  We’re reminded of the man in a bar who, after several beers, stood up and loudly announced “All lawyers are assholes!”

2015_05_22_Rule Five Friday (4)A few stools down, another man slams his hand down on the bar and shouts, “I resent that remark!”

“Why?” the first man sneers.  “Are you a lawyer?”

“No,” the second man snaps back.  “I’m an asshole!”

But back to my own occupation.  For the last twenty-five years plus a few months I’ve worked in various Quality Control roles in the medical device and biotech industries, and for the last twelve I’ve been an independent consultant developing and implementing quality systems, specializing in Corrective and Preventive Actions 2015_05_22_Rule Five Friday (5)(CAPA) systems.

In other words, I help companies learn how to solve problems.  The key to solving problems?  Finding root causes.

What is our government lousy at?  Solving problems.  Why?  Most of our public servants wouldn’t know a root cause if you folded it up and jammed it up their nether orifice.

Here’s one key, perhaps the most important key, to identifying the root cause of a problem:  Root cause is always at the point where a person or a group of people made a decision.  The root cause of the 2007 housing crash, for example, had at its root the fact that several politicians maintained that “everyone has the right to own their own home” and proceeded to legislate an emotional stance, resulting in banks being forced to extend loans to poor credit risks for houses they couldn’t afford – artificially inflating housing prices and forcing banks to bundle toxic assets and find some way to unload them.

2015_05_22_Rule Five Friday (6)Another thing Quality people do is to analyze trends.  Why?  Because it helps head off quality issues before they become systemic.  Trend analysis can enable an organization to identify trends and determine and address their causes before they become systemic.

Granted that’s an extremely brief thumbnail of what Quality folks do, but you get the idea – and it’s manifestly obvious that Quality is something we could use more of in government.

Maybe government should adopt some of the quality practices that industry has been using since the 1950s.  Maybe it’s time for some Quality professionals to step up to the plate and start exerting some influence on our Imperial Federal government.

Not me, though.  I’ve got my hands full running my business.  And if my business goes south, as previously noted, I’d rather shovel shit.

2015_05_22_Rule Five Friday (7)

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

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

Speaking of which:  Bring Back an Appreciation of Nude Females.  Hell, I never lost mine.  Excerpt:

Not that this appreciation has ever been lacking among straight males.  However, among the Militant Feminist Wing of the Current Cultural Insanity (TM) , it’s become normal to decry any representation, no matter how artistic, of the unclad or partially clad female. They blur the lines — or pretend not to understand the distinction — between art and porn, and charge blithely ahead into Victorian-like prudery.

For instance, I caught more than a little trouble for the cover of (Prometheus Award-winning) Darkship Thieves, which the Militant Feminist Wing deemed to be “demeaning to women” for featuring a partly clad female.  They thus revealed both their ignorance — since even much better known authors than I have little to no say on their covers — but also their hypocrisy since none of them objects to the covers of Urban Fantasy books which often feature far more suggestive covers.

I’ve seen and heard such complaining about depictions of the Feminine Aesthetic, and in such cases I’m fond of reminding people that they have no guarantee in life of never being upset or offended – or, if the complaining is particularly strident and/or demanding, my response tends to be along the lines of “kiss my ass.”

Reason Enough.
Reason Enough.

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying attractive depictions of the Feminine Aesthetic.  As Robert Heinlein pointed out, as with flowers and kittens, pretty girls are themselves reason enough.  We will continue to present such depictions here, and if anyone disapproves, they had best go read some other blog.

The feminine form is one of the finest works of art nature has to offer.  The complaining of humorless feminists and Islamic nutbars on the topic should be ignored.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

This is interesting; could the Bill of Rights pass today?  Excerpt:

One can only imagine the attack ads that would today be marshaled against the Bill of Rights. Posited in 2015, the First Amendment’s speech protections would likely be characterized as “anti-gay” or “pro-racist” measures that had been cynically contrived to protect the capacity of bigots to say disgraceful things with impunity and to reinforce the various power structures and privileges that are at present claimed to be destroying America. The “freedom of the press,” meanwhile, would be openly disdained as an overture to the corporate purchase of elections; the “right of the people peaceably to assemble” would be regarded as a direct threat to the sanctity of the land around the entrance to abortion clinics; and the wide-ranging conscience protections contained within both the establishment and the free-exercise clauses would be cast as a devilish recipe for theocracy that would allow the irrational to operate without oversight and the backward to undermine the great cause of Science.

To run down the list is to see the modern objections fall neatly into place. As it is so often, the Second Amendment would be cast as a recipe for “Wild West” anarchy, an open invitation to sedition for those white, mountain-dwelling racists of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s nightmares, and an overture to the execution of children. The Fourth, the Fifth, and the Eighth would be denounced by both overzealous law-and-order types and totalitarian feminists as damnable “soft on crime” provisions intended to help dastardly types get away with raping college students and selling drugs to the vulnerable. And the Ninth and Tenth would be attacked viciously by our seemingly endless plague of ambitious public-policy graduates, almost all of whom believe down to their ill-fitting boots that there is no problem so small or so personal that it cannot be solved nationally. Precisely because it has such a limited effect in restraining the government, the only provision that would remain would be the Third, about quartering soldiers, although one can only suppose that John McCain and Lindsey Graham would put up quite the fight.

Excellent BearProponents of a Constitutional Convention take note; it’s very likely that this may be entirely too accurate.  It’s very likely that the original Bill of Rights would not survive such a convention in any recognizable form.   Our state universities are implementing “speech codes” to protect the delicate ears of the hyper-sensitive; the right to bear arms is under daily attack; Congress seems to have forgotten the Tenth Amendment altogether.

It’s an utter shame that the Bill of Rights was even considered necessary, even in the last years of the 18th century.  It’s an even greater shame that those rights seem so easily negotiable today.  And in the ill-considered event of a new Constitutional Convention, the Bill of Rights will not survive in any recognizable form.

Not when there are government goodies to be lobbied for.

Rule Five Friday – Liberty and Property, Part Two

2015_04_10_Rule Five Friday (1)(Continued from yesterday.)

In a society that prizes liberty and property above all other things, what constitutes morality?

Liberty

In a moral society, any competent adult should be free to do as they please, with the only condition being that they cause no physical or financial harm to another.  The astute reader will be quick to note that I do not mention “emotional” harm, and that is with good reason; emotional harm cannot be quantified or even rigorously defined.  As an utter intangible, it cannot be used as a rational standard in any discussion of public policy.  The free person should be encouraged to avoid causing unnecessary emotional pain as a standard of everyday living, but the government cannot and should not be the arbitrator of behavior affecting such an ephemeral.

In a moral society, competent people are expected to support themselves.  A moral society must not force free persons to labor longer and harder for the benefit of others who can produce but do not.  Only government has the legal power to initiate force, and only 2015_04_10_Rule Five Friday (2)government has the power to confiscate a portion of a free person’s income and wealth.  (Yes, confiscate is the correct word; government compels taxation by the implied use of force.  If you doubt that, stop paying taxes, and see how long it is before agents of government, men with guns, come looking for you, to either force payment or fling you into jail.)  It is immoral for government to use that power to confiscate income and wealth for no better reason than redistributing it to the indigent – and it is perhaps the height of immorality for politicians to use that power to purchase votes, which is precisely how many political campaigns are run today.

In a moral society, the only acceptable form of financial interaction is free trade.  In free trade, persons exchanges value for value, voluntarily, with both parties realizing gain from the transaction.  This is how wealth grows in a society.  If a transaction is conducted by force, that is robbery.  If it is conducted by deceit, that is fraud.  Any instance of the two should be punished.  Other than that, markets, not government, must be the only arbiter of success in business.  Why?  Businesses can persuade the consumer, but only government can compel.  Since they have this power, government must not be allowed to prop up failing businesses or even failing 2015_04_10_Rule Five Friday (3)industries; government must not dispense favors in the form of subsidies to businesses or industries they favor, or slap regulations and conditions on businesses or industries they disfavor.  As there is a wall of separation between church and state, so should there be a wall of separation between the government and the free market.

In a moral society, no person should be compelled by threat of government force to engage in business or otherwise associate with persons they find morally objectionable.  This happens today and is all the more egregious because it is so unevenly applied; it is acceptable for college campuses to have dormitories restricted to one ethnic group, but it is not acceptable for a Christian baker to refuse to cater a gay wedding.  It is acceptable for a halal butcher to refuse to provide pork for sale, but it is not acceptable for a Jewish bookstore to decline to stock and sell Korans.  We are either a free people or we are not, and increasingly in matters of freedom of association, it has become clear that some people, some groups are far more free than others – and this is not indicative of a moral society.  If I were to open a restaurant, for example, I would refuse to serve patrons who refused to remove their headgear at the table, and that would be my choice – if I lost business because of it, on my head be it (pun not intended), but the choice – and the consequences thereof – must be 2015_04_10_Rule Five Friday (4)mine alone.  It is morally consistent, therefore, to assert the right of a businessperson to discriminate against patrons for any reason of their choosing, and in the next day to join the throngs of protestors that form in the street in front of his storefront to shut the bigoted son of a bitch down.

Property

In a moral society, the products of a free person’s labor belong to themselves first.  Government should only take what is strictly required for narrowly defined roles – such as national defense, border security, coining currency, dealing with foreign powers, and so on.  Note that all legitimate roles of government have one thing in common:  The protection of private property.  This completes the two essential elements of a free, moral society:   Liberty and property.

In a moral society, the free person has one right above all others:  The right to protect their own existence.  Your life is the most precious property you can ever possess, and so the rights associated with that life must be the ones we guard most jealously.  Liberty and 2015_04_10_Rule Five Friday (5)property are meaningless without life itself, and protection of life is a moral imperative.  That translates in modern terms to the right to self-defense and, by proxy, the defense of others.  We have militaries and police forces to aid in this moral imperative, but in the final analysis, it is the right and responsibility of all competent, free people to take responsibility for their own defense and the defense of their loved ones.  For this right to have any meaning, a free person must have access to a reasonable means of self-defense.  That means arms.  There is therefore a moral right to possess and bear arms outside the home for purposes of self-defense and for defense of the community, and that right, as stated in the Constitution, shall not be infringed.

Conclusion

Personally, I do not need a god to tell me these things; I find these facts to be self-evident.  I live by the moral standards I mention above, I advocate for those standards, and I think (I do not feel, I do not believe, I think) that these standards apply to us due to our existence as moral, thinking beings.

Unfortunately, it is in the nature of government to grow ever more restrictive, ever more intrusive and ever more dominating.  It is also in the nature of government to reduce liberty, and in so doing to become ever less tolerant of individual moral decisions.  That is the pass at which we find ourselves today, and if you are a student of history, an examination of other societies at similar times does not give one much cause for optimism.

2015_04_10_Rule Five Friday (6)

Animal’s Daily News – Liberty and Property, Part One

Thoughtful-BearCan an atheist be a moral person?

I have seen plenty of my fellow GOP members say no.  I say bullshit.  As an atheist and a moral being, I can say without reservation that an atheist can be, and most are, moral people.  There is a key difference.  We do not base our morality on the dictates of a higher power, but on our own conscience, our own sense of right and wrong, and our own convictions, reasoned and arrived at through reflection, experience, thought and consideration.

Speaking for myself – and I presume to speak only for myself, in itself a moral decision – I do not need a higher power to tell me what the right way is to behave.  I already know the difference between right and wrong.  I live a moral life not because someone or something else requires me to, but because I choose to do so, because it is the right thing to do.  I have distinct ideas on how a moral person should comport themselves in a free, moral society.  Moreover, I have very distinct ideas on how human society should conduct itself, morally.  How do I define right and wrong?  Conducting yourself in a moral manner is right.  Conducting yourself against accepted codes of moral behavior is wrong.

On what things do I, as a moral person, base my morality?  I base morality on that highest of human conditions, the only one that truly reflects the concept of natural rights:  Liberty.  I base morality on the fundamental right to the fruits of one’s own effort:  Property.

Remember that:  Liberty and Property.

For a person that prizes liberty and property above all other things, what constitutes morality?

Relaxing BearLiberty

A moral person accepts responsibility for his or her own actions and decisions.  If a person chooses to start a business and in so doing accept personal financial risk, they deserve not only the fruits of their effort should they succeed but also the responsibility of the consequences of their errors in judgment should they fail.  If a person chooses to have one, three or nine children, they, not their neighbors, are responsible for clothing, feeding and educating those children.  If a person chooses to drink to excess or to use harmful drugs for recreation, then that person is solely responsible for any health issues that arise from their poor decisions.  To quote the Old Man again:  “You got yourself into it.  You get yourself out of it.”  The result of responsibility is liberty.  To put it simply:  You are free to make your own decisions, to live your own life as you see best, because in the end that life is yours and no one else’s.

A moral person takes care of their family.  This goes hand in hand with the principle immediately above, that of accepting responsibility for your own actions and decisions.  Having and raising children is a choice, and in making that choice you accept responsibility for the little lives that come along in that process.  You accept the responsibility to house them, clothe them, feed them, protect them and educate them.  You may delegate some of those responsibilities – for example, most of us delegate responsibility for education to the schools, however unwise that may be becoming in recent years – but you cannot morally abdicate those responsibilities, and y ou cannot expect someone else to shoulder the burdens of those responsibilities.  Children and the responsibilities that come with them are yours, the product of a choice you made, even if that decision was as fleeting as a one-night drunken hookup.  That decision binds you for life in a way that surpasses even marriage – you can divorce your spouse, but you cannot divorce your kids.  Another quote from the Old Man, who is now 91, with his five children (including yr. obdt.) in their fifties and sixties and who is still very much our father:  “You never, ever stop being a parent.”

A moral person exhibits integrity.  There can be no reliable social interaction without it.  There is no higher esteem known than being someone with whom a person can enter into an agreement based on a handshake.  Integrity is the essential harbinger of trust; trust is the essential aspect of human interaction without which the very foundations of society crumble.  Integrity and trust are essential in marriage, in family, in trade, and in social interaction.  None of those things are possible without integrity and trust.

A moral person shows consideration towards others.  It is popular in this degenerate age to equate ordinary politeness with weakness, but in fact, just the opposite is true.   Good manners and consideration are an unmistakable indicator of strength and confidence.  A moral person considers the people around him, and incorporates that consideration in his actions.  A moral person disagrees politely but firmly when his or her opinions are challenged.  A moral person does not take unfair advantage of others, nor does a moral person act carelessly or thoughtlessly.  It doesn’t matter if you are driving, watching a movie or eating in a restaurant; a moral person considers other people, so that their actions do not intrude or cause discomfort or displeasure to others around.  Now, with that said:

A moral person stands up for themselves and others.  As noted immediately above, a moral person shows consideration, but consideration must come with a caveat:  There comes a time when even the moral person finds himself interacting with someone who does not deserve that consideration.  People who do not reciprocate that consideration do not deserve it.  It is morally acceptable to object to an able-bodied person abusing a handicapped parking space.   It is morally acceptable to object to rudeness, to foul language or bad manners in public.  A violation of civil interaction is an infringement of liberty, and should not be tolerated, but it is the citizenry, not government, who is responsible for rules of personal conduct.

Fishing BearProperty

A moral person produces.  A moral person contributes to the market.  In other words, the moral person works.  That work may be creative, it may be something the person loves doing, or it may be repetitive, low- or un-skilled labor.  However, the key is productivity; any occupation that produces value is honorable and worthy.  As the Old Man is fond of saying, “There are no lousy jobs, only lousy people.”  How does one define value?  This is trivially easy.  If someone is willing to pay you to do the job, you are producing value.  The result of producing value is property.  To put it simply:  If you work, you gain.

Look for Part Two tomorrow, with Rule Five Friday.

Animal’s Daily Peeves

Office-Bear_SleepSome random observations and pet peeves:

Urinal etiquette:  If you are entering a men’s room that has only three urinals in a row, all unoccupied, it is poor form to use the center urinal, in case some other man comes in immediately after you.  Men prefer to keep an arm’s length distance between themselves and other men while urinating.  I don’t know why this is so, but it is.  Please observe this at all occasions of micturition.

People who park in handicapped parking stalls because they are “only going to be a minute” should be put permanently into such state that they can use those spaces legally.  Besides my own dear Mrs. Animal, my mother and my father-in-law rely on those spaces; abuse of them by smartasses (or dumbasses, the two being frequently interchangeable) may be one of the few things that will drive me to physical violence.

I weep for the death of written and spoken English.  “No one” is two words.  You don’t “loose” a contest, you “lose,” you loser.  “Totes” are bags, not an acceptably abbreviation for “totally.”  “Ur” is an ancient Babylonian city, not an acceptable way to abbreviate “your.”  “Ne1” is not anyone, nor is it anything.  It’s not cool.  It’s not hip.  It’s wrong.  Stop doing it.

Related topic:  Capitalization and punctuation are important.  It means the difference between helping your Uncle Jack off a horse and helping your uncle jack off a horse.  And what the hell ever happened to the concept of a query in written English?  If you are asking a question, your sentence should end with this piece of punctuation:  “?”  Learn it.  Know it.  Live it.

Yes-YOU-bearWhen the hell did it become socially acceptable to eat dinner in a nice restaurant while keeping your hat/cap on your damn pointy head?  Uncover your damn head while at the dinner table.  The only worse headgear faux pas is to fail to uncover when the flag passes by during a parade or event, or during the playing of the national anthem.  If you don’t have any damned respect for yourself, show some for the other people around you.

Ok, I feel better now.

Animal’s Daily News

Smiling BearSoldier Dies From Massive Erection After Firing .50-Cal For The First Time.  Understandable (and satire.)  Excerpt:

“He was liked by everybody in the unit. He always found a way to liven everyone’s spirits when training got tough. I know he was so excited to fire the .50-cal,” said Private Stephanie Taylor. “All he talked about for the week leading up to it were the weapon system’s capabilites. He actually walked around quoting the Army field manual about it.”

Witnesses stated that as Rojas began to fire the machine gun, he sprouted an erection which became so large it busted through the notoriously weak crotch seam of his ACU pants. Army medical officials listed his cause of death as priapism, described as “a persistent, usually painful, erection that lasts for more than four hours and occurs without sexual stimulation.”

“We probably shouldn’t have waited four hours to get him medical attention,” Taylor said. “We’ve all seen the ads, and should’ve known the risks. ”

Best line of the story:

Rojas fired his full combat load before passing out due to the lack of blood and oxygen in his brain.

Full combat load.  Heh.

MIGHTYTHOR_1_SIMONSONVARIANTI’ve fired the Ma Deuce, and it’s a thrill – not really sexual, as this wonderful bit of satire implies, but it’s as close as one can get to feeling like Thor, the God of Thunder, without possession of an Odin-enchanted hammer.

All kidding aside, the Ma Deuce is a remarkable piece of ordnance.  Adopted in 1933, it’s the longest-serving weapon in U.S. military inventories with one exception:  The .45 caliber Colt/Browning automatic pistol.  Both are Browning designs (the M2 was actually based on the earlier Browning 1921 water-cooled .50 caliber) and both are still the best examples of their type available.

Their value as a replacement for Cialis, though, remains doubtful.

Animal’s Daily News

Probably not actually one of our ancestors.
Probably not actually one of our ancestors.

Here’s some food for thought; over the last four million years or so, there have been quite a few human and near-human species wandering around, but today there is only one – us, H. sapiens.  (Some days I question that specific name, but there you are – thank Carolus Linneaus.)

But what if some other species, or several others, were still kicking around today?  Excerpt;

Imagine how things might have turned out had the Neanderthals or Denisovans survived alongside Homo sapiens. What kind of cultures, societies and political structures would have emerged in a world where several different human species coexisted? How, for example, would religious faiths have unfolded? Would the book of Genesis have declared that Neanderthals descend from Adam and Eve, would Jesus have died for the sins of the Denisovans, and would the Qur’an have reserved seats in heaven for all righteous humans, whatever their species? Would Neanderthals have been able to serve in the Roman legions, or in the sprawling bureaucracy of imperial China? Would the American Declaration of Independence hold as a self-evident truth that all members of the genus Homo are created equal? Would Karl Marx have urged workers of all species to unite?

Over the past 10,000 years, Homo sapiens has grown so accustomed to being the only human species that it’s hard for us to conceive of any other possibility. Our lack of brothers and sisters makes it easier to imagine that we are the epitome of creation, and that a chasm separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. When Charles Darwin indicated that Homo sapiens was just another kind of animal, people were outraged. Even today many refuse to believe it. Had the Neanderthals survived, would we still imagine ourselves to be a creature apart? Perhaps this is exactly why our ancestors wiped out the Neanderthals. They were too familiar to ignore, but too different to tolerate.

Bear-stuffsIt’s an interesting thought.

Some years back the esteemed paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey stated that if you took a Neandertal, shaved him, put him in a suit and put him on a New York City subway (think for a moment of the typical denizens of the NY city subway system) he probably wouldn’t attract too much notice.  This is often quoted to imply that the Neandertal were “just like us,” which they weren’t – for one thing, you’d need to give Old Cuz a hat to cover his flattened and elongated cranium, otherwise suit or no, he’d look pretty odd.  But Leakey clarified his comment at a later point, adding that if you pulled the same trick with a Homo erectus, everyone would stare at him; if you did it with a Homo habilis, everyone would move to the far end of the car.

But forget for a moment what it would be like to have a family of Neandertals living next door; forget the implications to everything from government to religion to medicine.  I can think of one professional field in which our ancestors would have excelled; put a six and a  half-foot, robust, massively muscled H. heidelbergensis in the ring with any of today’s “professional” wrestlers, and the resulting match would, I suspect, be very, very short.

That’s a pay-per-view that I might actually kick in a few shekels to watch.

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.

 Specifically:

 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.

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Rule Five Friday

Here we are, with the first Rule Five Friday of 2015!  2015_01_02_Rule Five Friday (1)

The year itself is a bit bemusing.  When I was a tad, growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, I couldn’t have imagined what the year 2015 would look like.  If I had tried, I would have been mostly wrong.  I know for a fact (because I asked him) that the Old Man, who grew up in the 1920s and 1930s, is even more bemused by greeting 2015.

So what will 2015 have to offer?

2015_01_02_Rule Five Friday (2)Politics:  A new GOP Congress will be seated in a few days.  Will they rein in what has increasingly become an Imperial Presidency?  Will they get serious about tax reform, regulatory reform, immigration?  Recent history makes one skeptical.  The GOP’s strategy lately seems to be a writ-large version of Mitt Romney’s 2012 debate performance against President Obama; every time Governor Romney had an opening, every time there was blood in the water and he had the chance to move in for the kill – he bunted.  I’m afraid the GOP Congress will do likewise.

2015_01_02_Rule Five Friday (3)In retrospect it seems likely that Mitt Romney is just too nice a man for political campaigning.  Maybe what the GOP needs now is a pit bull.  Maybe they need more pit bulls in the House and Senate.  The Democrats have always been good at playing hardball; it’s high time the GOP learned it as well.

Science:  As noted in our New Year’s Eve post, there is indication that 2015 might be the year that we find life somewhere other than Earth.  If it happens, that’s huge.  It’s probably past huge.  It’s an amazing thing to consider.  But there will be other advances, in genetics, in medicine, in paleontology, in technology – things we haven’t been able to imagine.  One of the frustrating things about 2015_01_02_Rule Five Friday (4)writing science fiction is coming up with some hyper-futuristic gizmo, writing it into a story, and then finding out someone has made one already.

That’s what makes science and technology fun.

The World:  Less cause for optimism.  Russia’s ongoing economic collapse may bring a halt to the dictatorial ambitions of Vladimir Putin, but then again they may not; the former chekist remains popular with the Russian people.  If he remains in control of Russia, look for his ambitions for lebensraum to continue.  Whether he chooses to run afoul of NATO or not is anyone’s guess, but this much is plain:  Putin looks at President Obama and sees an ineffective weakling.

So do many others around the world, which brings us to Iran, which rogue state is frantically refining uranium to build nukes.  In the considered opinion of yr. obdt., there is one chance in eight they will deploy a nuclear weapon in 2015.  Tel Aviv, 2015_01_02_Rule Five Friday (5)London and New York would all be high on the target list.

And yes, that would likely be the beginning of an overt World War Three.  At that time, yr. obdt. may well find an answer to the question “how bad will things have to get before the Army will start retreading fat old men like me?”

In the meantime, life goes on, which brings me to:

Personal stuff.

Outdoors:  Hopefully a trip to Alaska is on the agenda this year.  Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. were last in the Great Land in 2009, which is far too long.  Loyal sidekick Rat and I are planning a black-powder season deer/elk hunt in the Gore Range in the High Rock Creek/Farnham Creek area, west of Kremmling.  2015_01_02_Rule Five Friday (6)It’s good country but higher than we’ve been hunting.  I used to hunt that country a lot but haven’t done so much the last few years; it will be interesting to get back into those mountains again.  I’ve always had good luck in that country.

Travel:  Starting the year in Ogden, Utah, a place I love.  But at mid-year something significant might happen; Mrs. Animal has applied to the JET program, which (if she is accepted) will have her spending a year in Japan, teaching English to Japanese elementary school kids.

That will be interesting, especially as I have enough flier miles to travel to Japan twice.  We both love Japan; the people, the country, the scenery.  Neither of us would want to live there permanently, mind.  We’re much too American for that.  But it’s a great place to 2015_01_02_Rule Five Friday (7)visit.

Family:  Last but not least, another grandbaby will make his/her appearance in late August or early September.  The Animal clan’s plan to breed the world into submission proceeds apace; look upon my works, ye mighty, and tremble!

So, bring it on, 2015!  We’re ready for ya.  To all True Believers, may your New Year be happy, healthy, and profitable.

Excelsior!

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