Animal’s Hump Day News

2014_12_03_Hump Day
Happy Hump Day!

One more piece of news on the Ferguson kerfuffle, this from the always-worth-reading Dr. Thomas Sowell; Opinion Vs. Facts.  Excerpt:

Soon after the shooting death of Michael Brown, this 285-pound young man was depicted as a “gentle giant.” But, after a video was leaked, showing him bullying the owner of a store from which he had stolen some merchandise, Attorney General Eric Holder expressed displeasure that the video was leaked. In other words, to Holder the truth was offensive, but the lie it exposed was not.

Many people who claimed to have been eyewitnesses to the fatal shooting gave opposite accounts of what happened. Some even gave accounts that contradicted what they themselves had said earlier.

Fortunately, the grand jury did not have to rely on such statements, though some in the media seemed to. What the grand jury had, that the rest of us did not have until the grand jury’s decision was announced, was a set of physical facts that told a story that was independent of what anybody said.

The facts have been available for some time.

Item:  The confrontation was initiated by Officer Wilson when Brown and his companion were walking in the middle of a street and defiantly refused to move to the sidewalk.

Grizzly-Bear-FaceItem:  Michael Brown’s blood and DNA were found inside the police vehicle and on Darren Wilson’s service sidearm, corroborating Wilson’s testimony that Brown lunged into the vehicle and attempted to grab the officer’s weapon.

Item:  Several autopsies confirmed that all of the shots that struck Michael Brown did so from the front, not the back.

Item:  Several witnesses confirmed Officer Wilson’s testimony that Brown was charging the police officer, head down “like a football player,” when Wilson fired the fatal shots.

Add to this that the burden of evidence for a grand jury is quite a bit lower than that demanded in a trial.  In a criminal trial, the prosecution is required to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.  To return an indictment, all a grand jury needs is a preponderance of evidence, or a likelihood that charges are justified.

This grand jury found no such preponderance of evidence.

So what do the Ferguson protestors want?  The rule of law junked for this case?  The decision of a legally convened and conducted grand jury thrown out to appease the demands of a mob?

Such a thing is unthinkable in a nation that claims to value the rule of law.

Splashing-BearsDr. Sowell concludes:  Who benefits from the Ferguson riots? The biggest beneficiaries are politicians and racial demagogues. In Detroit, Mayor Coleman Young was one of many political demagogues who were able to ensure their own reelection, using rhetoric and policies that drove away people who provided jobs and taxes, but who were likely to vote against him if they stayed. Such demagogues thrived as Detroit became a wasteland.

This, True Believers, is why the paid protestors and out-of-towners in Ferguson are rioting, stealing and burning.  They don’t give a damn about Michael Brown.  They have their own agendas, and this is an opportunity to chip away at the rule of law.

Animal’s Daily News

Excellent BearThis just in from the always-worth-reading Dr. Victor Davis Hanson:  When The Law Is A Drag.  Excerpt:

In the Ferguson disaster, the law was the greatest casualty. Civilization cannot long work if youths strong-arm shop owners and take what they want. Or walk down the middle of highways high on illicit drugs. Or attack police officers and seek to grab their weapons. Or fail to obey an officer’s command to halt. Or deliberately give false testimonies to authorities. Or riot, burn, and loot. Or, in the more abstract sense, simply ignore the legal findings of a grand jury; or, in critical legal theory fashion, seek to dismiss the authority of the law because it is not deemed useful to some preconceived theory of social justice. Do that and society crumbles.

In our cynicism we accept, to avoid further unrest, that no government agency will in six months prosecute the looters and burners, or charge with perjury those who brazenly lied in their depositions to authorities, or charge the companion of Michael Brown with an accessory role in strong-arm robbery, or charge the stepfather of Michael Brown for using a bullhorn to incite a crowd to riot and loot and burn. We accept that because legality is becoming an abstraction, as it is in most parts of the world outside the U.S. where politics makes the law fluid and transient.

While Dr. Hanson makes some excellent points, one has to wonder how much of the callous disregard for the rule of law has to do with the penchant of various levels of government have for passing laws they know are unenforceable, laws that will be routinely ignored, laws that will only be enforced when some elected or appointed official sees a chance to advance some agenda by so doing?

Case in point:  Our own Colorado’s recently-enacted magazine ban.  Recently a county sheriff in a press conference held up two 30-round AR-15 magazines.  “One of these,” he said, “has been in the state for a year.  The other was brought in from Wyoming this morning.  Can you tell the difference?”

No.  Nobody can.  That’s why this catastrophically stupid law is unenforceable, why it will be ignored, and because of that it cheapens the law as a whole.

Yes-YOU-bearDr. Hanson points out that in his own California Central Valley, he must “…accept that if I burn a single old grape stake that has been treated with a copper-based preservative, I will be facing huge fines by environmental protection agencies, whose zeal will not extend to nearby residents who have created illegal compounds of rental Winnebagos with jerry-rigged wiring and stop-gap sewage or who dump wet garbage along the side of the road.”

There can be no respect for the law when it is capricious and arbitrary.  The law should be two things:  Impartial and absolute.  In the United States today it is neither, and recent actions by the Imperial Federal government are accelerating that trend.

Nothing about this will end well.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Another Thanksgiving come and gone, and on this first day of December we all probably are wondering where the hell 2014 went.

Before we begin, once more we give our thanks to for the Rule Five links!  Aficionados of the Feminine Aesthetic should check out Wombat-socho’s extensive compilation of links.

An interesting data point noticed in our Thanksgiving travels was the drop in gasoline prices.  Some of the reasons for that are the explosion of gas and oil development in the Dakotas and Canada, but another explosion is taking place in the Utica Shale formation of  eastern Ohio.  Excerpt:

The Utica Shale is coming on strong as the nation’s second-fastest natural gas formation, right behind the Marcellus. The Utica lies just beneath the Marcellus and extends all the way from central Ohio to tiny slivers of Maryland and New Jersey (not shown). Production in the Utica has risen tenfold since the field was opened in 2012, from 155 million cubic feet per day to 1.3 billion.

Until recently, regular unleaded gasoline was well over $3 a gallon here in Colorado.  It was over $3 in Indiana for all of the year and three months I recently spent there.  When we traveled yesterday across Iowa, Nebraska and eastern Colorado, the highest we paid for petrol was $2.67.

Smiling BearSupply and demand works, True Believers.  Adam Smith figured that out 240 years ago, even if Congress and the other denizens of the Imperial City haven’t yet.

So why has the Senate not approved the Keystone pipeline, which will add 800 miles of pipeline to the well over 2 million already in everyday use around the lower 48?  The environmental lobby has had their say, but their argument is based on a sham; that oil will be extracted and sold, either to the U.S. or to China.  While the price of oil, a fungible commodity, is a global price, and that price will continue to drop as supply increases, it would be a far more efficient use of the resource to refine and use it closer to the point of origin.

And why not send U.S. energy dollars to a nation that is not only our neighbor but also our close friend and ally, rather than to Middle Eastern sponsors of terror, run by either thug-dictators or cabals of 7th century barbarians?

The recalcitrance of the Obama Administration on this issue is mind-boggling.

Rule Five Friday

2014_11_28_Rule Five Friday (1) (853x1280)Are we on the brink of creating artificial life?  Excerpt:

With 100 billion neurons and 37 trillion cells, the human body is simply too complex to be artificially designed by modern computers.

But in the quest to create artificial life, what if we started a lot smaller? That’s what team of scientists has done, creating a replica of the simplest form of life we know.

The worm Caenorhabditis elegans has just 300 neurons and around 1,000 cells – and now a robot has been created that mimics the actions of this simple organism.

2014_11_28_Rule Five Friday (2) (861x1280)The OpenWorm project, a global effort including researchers from the US and UK, is attempting to create the world’s first digital animal.

Earlier this year they ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the creation of a worm you can download onto your computer.

There are a couple of ways of looking at this.  First, the implications of digitizing a worm brain are far, far different than the implications of digitizing a human brain.  Ditto for the moral and ethical implications.

2014_11_28_Rule Five Friday (3) (1280x845)Fortunately, the complexity of a human brain is also far more involved than a worm brain, making the differences in the project probably more of kind than of degree.

But what if we could do it?

That’s where the two ways of looking at this come in, here where humans are concerned.  You could use the process to make a copy of your own brain – a back-up, as it were, to be activated on physical death.  On the other hand, what if you could eschew physicality altogether, and go completely digital?  A disembodied sprite, wandering the Intarwebs.  Would you be an odd sort of living virus?  2014_11_28_Rule Five Friday (4) (862x1280)Would you be able to interact with the living?  With other cyber-beings?  Would you still have rights, obligations, responsibilities?

I’m inclined to answer “no,” to those last three, because the copy of you would not be you – it would only be a programmed simulacrum of you.  It’s hard to see how a purely digital “person” could in fact be a person in any legal, moral or ethical sense.

But back to the worm; the linked article concludes:

The robot is very basic for now, and does not possess the ability to perform more complex functions such as eating.

It’s an important step, though, to creating artificial life that can think for itself.

2014_11_28_Rule Five Friday (5) (861x1280)While this worm is a very basic form of life, it may be a precursor to making much more complex animals.

This will be a huge undertaking, though – even a mouse has 22 million neurons in its brain.

‘The mere act of trying to put a working model together causes us to realise what we know and what we don’t know,’ John Long, a roboticist and neuroscientist at Vassar College in New York State, told New Scientist.

In other words, creating a simulation of any mammal brain, much less a human brain, is a long, long ways off.  Still the stuff of science fiction (of which, as all True Believers may know, yr. obdt. is a fan and an author.)

But while it may be a long ways off, it may not be too soon to start thinking about the implications.  Besides, it’s entertaining.

2014_11_28_Rule Five Friday (6) (1280x844)

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

Time and family presses, so we’ll just have a few quick notes  and items of interest on this pre-Thanksgiving Hump Day.

Complex Life May Be Possible In Only 10% of Galaxies.  Ours, obviously, would be in that 10%, although the jury is still out on the possibility of intelligent life in Congress.

The Delicious Science of Chinese Buffets.  We have one in the Denver area we favor, the Great Wall buffet in Lakewood, where it is not only possible but probable to eat entirely too much.  Too many Chinese buffets serve up a menu where everything tastes like it was dumped out of a can and heated, but the Great Wall serves up a wide variety of food that is obviously freshly made and piping hot.

But oh, the calories.

bears-cute-awesome1-11Breaking the boundaries of established science; what happens when you put a snail in the microwave?  Yes, really.

Finally:  Did Ben Franklin Want the Turkey As Our National Symbol?  Perhaps not, although these days one wonders if the chicken would be more appropriate.

On that note, we return you to your pre-Thanksgiving Wednesday, already in progress.

Animal’s Daily News

Silver BearNote:  There will be no post on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day.  Rule Five Friday and the Saturday Gingermageddon will be posted as per usual.

Take a look at what the FDA proposes for rules for restaurant food.  Excerpt:

The Food and Drug Administration plans new rules requiring chain restaurants, movie theaters and other retailers that sell prepared foods to put calorie labels on menus and menu boards. The rules will only apply to establishments that have 20 or more locations.

The rules will be announced on Tuesday.

A sampling of what will be labeled with calorie information — and what won’t — under the new rules:

— Menu items at chain restaurants, including drive-through and take out boards

— Drinks on menus, and soda dispensers

— Some alcoholic beverages on menus

— Most prepared foods in supermarkets, convenience stores

— Concessions at movie theaters, amusement parks that are part of larger chains

— Displays of food, such as pastries, at coffee chains like Starbucks

— Food prepared on site at large retail outlets, such as Target and Costco

Can someone – anyone – point out in the Constitution where the Imperial Federal government is authorized to place these restrictions on privately owned businesses?  All too many seem to forget the Tenth Amendment:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Angry-BearIn simple English:  If the Constitution does not specifically authorize the Imperial Federal government to take a certain action, they may not take said action.  And this kind of meddling in the affairs of privately owned businesses is nowhere to be found.

When will Congress and the Imperial judiciary rediscover the Tenth Amendment?  When they do, maybe we can broach the subject of an alphabet soup of unConstitutional agencies that have been set up in the Imperial City in recent years.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

This just in from the always-worth-reading Dr. Victor Davis Hanson:  Explaining Away Obama.  Excerpt:

The only mystery about the last six years is how much lasting damage has been done to the American experiment, at home and abroad. Our federal agencies are now an alphabet soup of incompetence and corruption. How does the IRS ever quite recover? Will the Secret Service always be seen as veritable Keystone Cops? Is the GSA now a reckless party-time organization? Is the EPA institutionalized as a rogue appendage of the radical green movement with a director who dabbles in online pseudonyms? Do we accept that the Justice Department dispenses injustice or that the VA can be a lethal institution for our patriots? Is NASA now a Muslim outreach megaphone as we hire Russia, the loser of the space race, to rocket us into orbit?

Explaining away Barack Obama isn’t that hard.  He was a child of wealth and privilege, who was never held to account or expected to actually run any organization until he was suddenly elected President.

Out on a limb.
Out on a limb.

In 2008, when he initially announced his intention, it’s very probable that he didn’t expect to gain the nomination, much less win the election.  In the considered opinion of yr. obdt, he was at that time just launching  himself into the national perception with the intent of a later candidacy.

But he won, and once he had, he was like the car-chasing dog who has actually caught one, and now is unsure what to do with it.  And after six years in the Imperial Mansion, he still doesn’t know.  His administration has been marked mostly by arrogant condescension, indecisiveness, buck-passing and blaming his predecessor.

Dr. Hanson concludes:  We have had storytellers and fabulists in the White House before, but rarely a president who is energized to distort the truth by the very contempt that he holds the people in.

As usual, Dr. Hanson is correct.

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