Category Archives: Deep Thoughts

Deep thoughts, omphaloskepsis, and other random musings.

Animal’s Daily News

bears-cute-awesome1-11Nothing big today, just some random notes on this frigid Thursday morning.

Nancy Pelosi:  Wave?  What Wave?  Animal:  Nancy Pelosi is delusional.  If House Democrats keep this moron in a leadership position, they are in danger of wresting the title “The Stupid Party” away from Republicans.

The Worst Candidate of 2014.   Money quote:

It started way back in January when the conservative opposition research group America Rising obtained video of Braley speaking at a Texas fundraiser. Here’s part of what he said:

Facepalm-bear“If you help me win this race, you may have someone with your background, your experience, your voice, someone who’s been literally fighting tort reform for 30 years, in a visible or public way, on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Or, you might have a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school, never practiced law, serving as the next chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

In the space of two sentences, Braley managed to: (1) insult popular Sen. Chuck Grassley (2) insult farmers and (3) sound as super-arrogant as humanly possible.

It’s hard to know if Braley really was a worse candidate than, say, Anthony Brown, the Democrat candidate for Governor in deep, deep blue Maryland – who managed to lose to a Republican.  But Braley certainly belongs in the top ten list; having been raised in Iowa and coming from a long line of Iowa farmers, the above quote alone would have done it for me.

And, finally:  Ice Age Babies Surrounded by Weapons Parts Found in Alaska.  Good thing it was in Alaska and not Chicago; the Chicago Machine would be registering them to vote.

On that note, we return you to your Thursday, already in progress.

Happy Veteran’s Day!

To all True Believers who wore Uncle Sam’s colors, this is our day!  Go forth and be cheerful, and also mindful of those who can’t be with us on this Veteran’s Day. Photos are, in order, Mrs. Animal somewhere in northern Saudi Arabia in 1991, the night we arrived in country if memory serves; the Old Man on a U.S. Army airfield in 1945, yr. obdt. at a place called MedBase America in 1991, and my paternal grandfather in 1917. We are a family with a tradition of service.
Dawn-Eskan-Village Dad OD 1945 Ward-in-Persian-Gulf Grandpa Clark 1917

Animal’s Daily News

Angry-BearAs a person who travels for a living, this was of great interest:  What’s Up With That:  Boarding Airplanes Takes Forever.  Boy howdy, does it ever.  Excerpt:

I was at the airport last week, and all I wanted to do was sit down, strap in, and lift off. Of course I couldn’t, because there were a bunch of people standing in my way. As the line crept along, I scanned ahead for malingerers, but everyone seemed sufficiently ready to board. I couldn’t help but wonder, is there a more efficient way for airlines to put get our butts into our seats, and into the air?

Millions of other people probably have pondered this question. At least one wrote a computer program to find the answer. Jason Steffen is an astrophysicist at Northwestern University, and several years ago he modeled different airline boarding methods to see what made them so slow. He also figured out how airlines could get us on board much faster.

Unfortunately the airlines aren’t really listening.

The problem is this:  It’s not possible to come up with a perfect system for boarding an airplane or, for that matter, any other operation that involves people – unless you have perfect people.  Having boarded a few hundred airplanes over the last ten years or so as an independent consultant, I can observe with some experience that there is always – always – at least one knucklehead who holds up the line because:

  • They brought aboard an enormous dog-coffin “carry-on” that they can’t manage to cram into the overhead bin.
  • Airline seats are an intimidating and mysterious thing, and they have to stand in the aisle for an extended time examining their seat before getting in.
  • The overhead bin above their seat is full, so they proceed to the back of the plane, stuff their bag in the last bin at the back, then have to swim against the current all the way back to their row.
    • A variation on this is the knucklehead who stuffs their bag in a bin in First Class, then has to come back forward from Economy and retrieve it when the flight attendant tells them they can’t use that space.
  • Last but not least, the idiot who can’t stop talking on the phone long enough to sit down and strap in.

Sad-BearThe traveling life has it’s share of frustrations, and air travel is stressful enough already without having to deal with nitwits.  Unfortunately, like death and taxes, nitwits will always be with us.

Perhaps, instead of looking for more efficient ways to board aircraft, science should look for a cure for nitwittery?

Animal’s Daily News

Smiling BearSo what’s up with the Left’s obsession with the Koch brothers?

You know, the Kansas businessmen who donate to political causes – just like wacko-bird leftie George Soros.  The Koch brothers who are libertarians, not conservatives, who also donate millions to such raging right-wing causes as the New York Museum of Natural History, (donation: $20 million, and that facility now has a David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins), the Lincoln Center (donation: $100 million), and the New York Public Library (donation: $100 million)?

Ingram’s Jack Cashill has some ideas.  Excerpt:

As Wichita’s Koch family has learned the hard way, the surest way to make mortal enemies in contemporary America is to build a hugely successful business, stick to your principles, and care about the future of your country.

A bantam-weight among those enemies is The Kansas City Star. Not above the occasional rabbit punch, Star editors jabbed away with a recent story headlined, “Conservative Koch group launches TV ad attacking Orman in Kansas Senate race.”

Never mind that the Kochs are libertarians, not conservatives. What intrigues about the story is that hundreds of groups run ads every campaign season. To single out just one sponsor by name when that sponsor is running perfectly legal ads in its own state suggests something deeper than a bias. It suggests a disease, specifically KDS—Koch Derangement Syndrome.

Among those afflicted is self-styled environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. The day before The Star article—a coincidence?—he, too, singled out the Kochs, this time for questioning the agenda of that day’s million-madman climate march in New York. “They are enjoying making themselves billionaire by impoverishing the rest of us,” ranted Kennedy. “Do I think the Koch brothers should be tried for reckless endangerment? Absolutely.”

Derp BearLet’s just point out that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is a fucking idiot.  The Koch brothers certainly have not stripped away a penny of the Kennedy fortune, amassed by bootlegging, rumrunning and political machination.  Nor have they impoverished anyone else by making the billions of dollars that they earned – that’s right, Mr. Kennedy, you economic imbecile, they earned – by providing goods and services for which many people are willing and even anxious to pay, and oh by the way producing thousands of jobs in the process.

But the Kochs  are unmoved by the endless litany of slander from the Left.  These right-wing fanatics just keep on plugging, along the way also lending support for gay marriage, along with being generally libertarian on most social issues, which hardly endears them to the social-conservative Right.

In fact, the Koch brothers are precisely the kinds of people more Americans should try to emulate.  They are successful through their own efforts, through providing value to their customers.  They are outspoken men of principle who do not waver in the face of (generally unfair) criticism.  They are men straight out of an Ayn Rand novel, and America could use more men of similar caliber.

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

First thing on this wonderful Colorado Monday, our thanks once again to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

It is interesting to look at the political landscape here in the U.S. these days.  Terms have largely reversed from what the dictionary definition would imply, particularly where the term “liberal” is concerned.  It is common these days to use the term “classical liberal” to describe advocates of, well, liberty, people like Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine.   Or one could use the term “libertarian” and I often use that term to describe my own stated opinions, but that word is also used by a rather minor political party that is not very good at the actual practical art of politics.

Yesterday over in PJMedia, Andrew Klavan had a good short article on the topic:  How The Left Hijacks Liberalism.  Excerpt:

Many leftists seem to have confused their political opinions with their virtue. They may have disagreements among themselves from time to time, but if there’s one thing they know it’s that all those on the right are wicked. I wish I could share their conviction that everyone who disagrees with me politically is bad, but I know there are many good and decent people who vote Democrat.

The question is: Why? Why do they vote that way?

Silver BearThe modern Democrat Party is leftist. We know that leftism is bad for people. We know leftist welfare policies have destroyed the black family. We see how feminism turns women into weak, quivering, delicate creatures fearful of a word or gaze. We understand how multiculturalism empowers the most intolerant and violent of terrorist thugs. What is it that makes nice folks attach themselves to a political position that does so much damage?

I think it is because they are liberal and the left has hijacked liberalism.

It is also common among those on the left to point out that some conservatives are anxious to interfere with people’s sex lives, and that criticism, to be fair, is not unwarranted.

But it is the left that wants to interfere with a citizens’ right to self-defense.  It is the left that wants to regulate how a taxpayer may manage and develop their own property.  It is the left that wants to abrogate freedom of association by forcing business owners to cater to people to whom they have a moral objection.  It is the left that promises all things to all people, without bothering to find out who will have to labor longer and harder to pay for it all.

That’s the trap the Democratic party has fallen into today.  Unfortunately for the country, there’s an old political truism that applies:  When you borrow from Peter to pay Paul, you can always count on Paul’s vote.

Rule Five Friday

2014_10_24_Rule Five Friday (1)This just in from the always-worth-reading Dr. Victor Davis Hanson:  The Politics of Victimhood.  Excerpt:

The questionable assumption we often accept about suffering is that enduring terrible experiences automatically make one an expert on the broader issues related to the causes of suffering. That’s why like other public victims of gun violence, (former Arizona Congressman Gabrielle) Giffords has spoken out as if her experience has made her an authority on gun policy. Thus she has attacked politicians for disagreeing with her on the issue of guns not by making a coherent argument, but by conjuring up her own experiences and sentimentalizing other victims of gun violence. Having created a fog of emotion, she then argues for 2014_10_24_Rule Five Friday (2)policies, such as more restrictive background checks for those buying guns, even though there is no evidence that such procedures keep guns out of the hands of those determined to get them. After all, the man who shot Giffords had undergone a thorough background check. Worse yet, such emotionalism sets aside the critical Constitutional issue––the Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms.”

Invoking overt displays of emotions is a staple of the gun-banners; it is likewise a staple of such kooks as anti-vaccine kooks and animal rights lunatics.  It is, after all, much easier to try to evoke an emotional response than it is to prepare a fact-based presentation and conduct a dispassionate analysis of the issues.

It’s important to note that, while both parties indulge in these kinds of histrionics, the most passionate appeals to emotion and the most 2014_10_24_Rule Five Friday (3)irrational arguments are – with a very few exceptions – made by those on the political Left.

An example?

Setting aside gun control for the moment, look at the arguments – and I use the word “argument” in the broadest possible sense – by the radical animal rights nuts.  Every argument against animal use, be it for food, research, entertainment, or even keeping as pets, is strictly emotion-based.  They argue against eating animals on the basis of the “suffering” of farm animals, even though they have no way of quantifying that suffering, and have no idea of the impact their own diets cause – those diets being by and large2014_10_24_Rule Five Friday (4) the product of monoculture plant agriculture, which causes animal death and suffering in vast quantities.

They neither know nor care about this savage hypocrisy; just like gun-banners neither know nor care that disarming the law-abiding will only produce an entire new set of helpless victims for adherents to the toxic urban thug culture that is infesting many of our larger cities.

Dr. Hanson concludes:  The trump card of suffering might be politically useful, but using it is a dishonest tactic that inhibits informed deliberation and debate. Relying on emotion and sentiment, no matter how understandable they are as a response to suffering, have since ancient Athens been the agents of bad policies and dangerous political decisions, and tactics for pursuing political advantage at the expense of the public good. They have no place in our already conflicted 2014_10_24_Rule Five Friday (5)and divisive public political discourse.

Today, our Imperial City is awash in politicians, lobbyists and advocates of every stripe, and nine of ten are pushing for policies that are not only bad but, as Dr. Hanson points out, dangerous.  They argue with emotion as their opening card, and very little if any pols or anyone else seems able to present a dispassionate analysis of fact.

To someone like yr. obdt. who has for the last ten years or so run a business whose main purpose is teaching problem-solving and cause analysis to high-tech companies all over the world, that is a situation that is increasingly frustrating.

2014_10_24_Rule Five Friday (6)

Rule Five Friday

2014_10_17_Rule Five Friday (1)Since today marks the beginning of our annual excursion afield in pursuit of a winter’s venison, I thought I’d present a few thoughts on the hunt, yr. obdt.’s history in such, and the state of hunting in America today.

I was born into a family of farmers and outdoor people.  The Old Man hunted and fished most of his life.  Both of my grandfathers were outdoor types, and fishing trips with both of them are among my earliest and fondest memories.

2014_10_17_Rule Five Friday (2)Since I was old enough to carry a .22 rifle in the woods, I did so – almost constantly.  Growing up in the hills, woods and fields of Allamakee County, Iowa presented plenty of opportunities to do so.  The endless summers of youth were long, in part because of my anxious awaiting of the opening of squirrel season in late August, the first of many small game seasons to open.  Hunting squirrels with a .22 teaches a boy to be quiet in the woods; it teaches him how to look over the terrain, to plan and execute a stalk, and how to shoot carefully.

2014_10_17_Rule Five Friday (3)Later in the year, I always laid aside rifle for shotgun when seasons for ruffed grouse and later, pheasant and Hungarian partridge opened.  In December, it was deer season – and hunting whitetails on the Old Man’s place in Allamakee County stuck me with a love of big-game hunting that has stuck with me ever since.

Moving to Colorado when I left the Army in 1989 was the icing on the cake.

2014_10_17_Rule Five Friday (4)Folks hunt for a variety of reasons.  Some hunt for trophies – and as every state requires, by law, the removal of all edible portions of a legally taken game animal, ‘trophy hunting’ as such should carry no animus.

Some hunt simply because they like to spend time wandering woods and fields, and that’s fine too.

Some hunt because they like eating wild game.  Why not?  It’s additive-free, lean, healthy meat – you don’t get any more ‘free-range’ than an animal you’ve hunted and killed in the wild.

I2014_10_17_Rule Five Friday (5) have hunted for 40 years or so for all of those reasons, mostly the second and third.  I like the chance at a big buck or trophy bull as much as anyone, and it’s no secret I like to eat.  You won’t find any better eating than an elk steak cooked over an open fire.  And, there’s no better way to kill a few days than bumming around mountains, fields and forests.

So tomorrow starts the annual ritual.  The bloodwind calls.  It’s time to hunt.

2014_10_17_Rule Five Friday (6)

Animal’s Daily Martian News

Martian Native.
Martian Native.

Could we terraform Mars, and make it habitable for humans?  Maybe so.  Excerpt:

Today, Mars has little atmosphere to speak of, sports an average temperature of -76 degrees Fahrenheit around the equator, and is pelted by ultraviolet radiation. It’s little more than a desert pockmarked by craters. And yet, there are some who think that Mars can live again.

“You don’t build Mars,” Chris McKay, a planetary scientist at NASA says. “You just warm it up and throw some seeds.”

It’s that simple.

Here are three easy steps to terraform Mars and make it habitable for humans.

Read the whole thing for an outline of the three necessary (and time-consuming – we’re talking thousands of years) steps.

Forgetting the astronomical cost (pun intended) and the time frame for a moment, and think about the implications of a population of humans living on a successfully terraformed Mars.  No, they aren’t likely to turn green, nor will they encounter thoats, exotic red princesses or any other boojums or boogers.  But they will change, as generations are born and grow on a planet with only a little over a third of Earth’s gravity.

The new Martians will be taller and thinner, most likely, as they adjust through growth on a low-gravity environment.  They will probably have to adjust to a colder planet, even after terraforming, but we can Silver Beardo that through technology as prosaic as coats; but gravity will have a more lasting impact.

Not least of which is this:  Native Martians may never be able to visit the home planet.  A 1G gravity field may kill them.

So, while this is interesting and may someday actually happen, any human population on Mars will probably have to be permanent.

Check out Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy for an interesting bit of speculation as to how this might actually work.

Labor Day Blues

2014_09_01_Goodbye Blue MondayNot really a blue Monday, but some traditions are too good to ignore.  And speaking of totty, thanks once again to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!  Make sure to check out the extensive Rule Five linkfest.

No links or news today – off here in a few minutes to enjoy a (for once) work-free Labor Day.   But it’s worth noting that here we are on the first of September already, in the ninth month of a year that seems like it has only just begun.  Where the hell does the time go?  Upon a time it seemed the summer lasted forever, or as close as made no difference.

2014_09_01_Blue Monday II
Fall colors.

What happened?

Within the next few weeks the aspen will be turning in the high country.  Elk will start to bugle, the sage country mulies will be shedding antler velvet, and gangs of yearling grouse will be fattening on berries and grasshoppers, making them toothsome and ripe for the frying pan.

The year may be going by too quickly, but there is one consolation – some of the best eating of the year is coming up.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

This just in from the wonderful world of astro-science – or, perhaps, astro-speculation.  NASA: Humans Will Prove ‘We Are Not Alone In The Universe’ Within 20 Years.  Excerpt:

Speaking at NASA’s Washington headquarters on Monday, the space agency outlined a plan to search for alien life using current telescope technology, and announced the launch of the Transiting Exoplanet Surveying Satellite in 2017. The NASA administrators and scientists estimate that humans will be able to locate alien life within the next 20 years.

“Just imagine the moment, when we find potential signatures of life. Imagine the moment when the world wakes up and the human race realizes that its long loneliness in time and space may be over — the possibility we’re no longer alone in the universe,” said Matt Mountain, director and Webb telescope scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, which plans to launch the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018.

Let’s forget the technical aspects of this for a moment, and let’s also forget the likelihood of NASA actually finding life – in fact, let’s forget about intelligent life altogether, since we’re still looking for that right here on Earth in the Imperial City.  Instead:  Imagine the consequences if NASA (or anyone else) were to find evidence of life somewhere other than Earth.  Some good candidates are present right here in our own solar system, after all – plenty of biologists are just dying to know what might be lurking under Europa’s ice pack.

Space ChicksFirst:  Earth loses it’s one-of-a-kind status.  We’re no longer the special exception.  Life exists elsewhere, and presumably – since in all the vastness of the Universe, we have found it on another world in our tiny little sphere of perception, life exists lots of places.

Second:  Imagine the consequences for the world’s religions.  Not being religious myself it’s probably easier in some ways to imagine the impact, but in other ways it’s doubtlessly harder.  What happens to adherents to mainstream religions when it is proven that Earth’s life-bearing status is not unique?

Finally:  If life is found elsewhere, how long will it be before the not-so-intelligent life in the Imperial City tries to a) tax it and b) regulate it?

Thoughts?