Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

And thanks once again to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!  Check out the fabulous compendium of toothsome Rule Five imagery at the Sunday index.

This just in from National Review Online:  The United States of Anxiety.  Excerpt:

If 2014 had a grand theme, it was testicular absence.

In science fiction, corporations are deathless juggernauts imposing their will on governments and galaxies, but in the real world Sony, one of the most powerful business entities in the world, got cowed into submission by the release of some embarrassing e-mails and threats from hackers acting on behalf of the Evil Kingdom of the Hermit Midgets. Hollywood is forever congratulating itself on its courage for banging on, e.g., the American suburban bourgeoisie, because bourgeois American suburbanites don’t generally resolve disagreements by sawing off heads. But let Kim Jung-un take offense at your dopey Seth Rogen movie and Sony is suddenly a wounded kitten.

You think the Weyland-Yutani Corporation would put up with that nonsense?

Facepalm-bearJames Franco and Seth Rogen and the Sony brass might be man-shaped objects carved out of cotton candy, but they are iron men compared with the American college student. Students at the University of California at Irvine felt the need to avail themselves of the services of grief therapists after the grand jury decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for a shooting in Ferguson, Mo., some 1,800 miles away. It’s not like the UCI Anteaters don’t have legitimate reasons for grief – starting with the fact that they are called “Anteaters” — but a no-bill from a grand jury five states away isn’t one of them. Meanwhile at Occidental, students who were receiving class credit to work on Democratic political campaigns were reduced to shambolic mounds of blubbering distress by Republican victories.

Oh, the humanities.

This is a nation that has produced Presidents such as Andrew Jackson – the hero of the Battle of New Orleans, who responded to an assassination attempt by beating the would-be assassin nearly to death with a walking stick.  Also Theodore Roosevelt, whose considered reply to a pistol bullet in the chest was to go on and continue with his speech.  And those are just two of our ballsier Presidents – this is a nation that produced generation after generation of pioneers, men and women who found ways through unknown mountain ranges, across vast dry prairies and deserts, who founded towns, cities, industries.  We are – at least, we were – a nation of doers, of people who refused to take ‘no’ for an answer.

Are we still?

Are neurotic nitwits like the college students blubbering to therapists because of a grand jury decision half a continent away becoming the American norm?

Standing-BearWhat will human puffballs like this do if another Hitler arises somewhere in the world?

In Marvel’s fabulous movie The Avengers, the villain Loki forces a crowd of Germans (!) to kneel before him by an ostentatious display of power.  One elderly man, a look of determination on his face, gets back to his feet.  “No,” he says.  “Not for a man like you.”

“There are no men like me,” Loki, supposedly a Norse god, informs him, sneeringly.

“There are always men like you,” the old man replies.  A line from a movie, maybe, but a cogent point nonetheless.

Are we, as a nation, the kind of a people that would stand up to an actual, real, live, oppressor?  A Hitler, a Stalin, a Pol Pot?

The nitwitted students at UC Irvine are not.  These cottony, squishy children have not the slightest inkling what real hardship is, what real oppression is, or what a cold, brutal place most of the world is.  They would have no idea and no ability to face such reality if it were forced upon them; they would almost certain react by dropping to their knees.

One can only address them in the words of one of our founders, Samuel Adams:

If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.

Rule Five Friday

2014_12_19_Rule Five Friday (1)One of my personal heroes, General George Smith Patton, was a man for his time, a living weapon, probably the finest (that is to say, deadliest) practitioner of modern warfare that ever lived.  And the Battle of the Bulge may have been his finest hour.  Excerpt:

The Allies had a problem.

It was called the German army — rolling right into the American gut.

This was December 1944. The U.S. Army had figured it was close to turning out the lights on World War II in Europe.

Hitler kept them flickering with a tank invasion of northwest Europe, in particular Belgium. In his scope: Antwerp’s port, supplies, fuel and a peace pact to keep the American juggernaut from bagging Germany.

2014_12_19_Rule Five Friday (2)The Battle of the Bulge was on.

Gen. Dwight Eisenhower heard the alarm.

Now he had to make the call. But to whom?

George Patton.

As soon as the three-star general had his marching orders, he made a beeline to the Bulge in Belgium — and in seven days rescued the trapped Americans in Bastogne while decking the Nazis.

“It was Patton’s finest hour,” Harry Yeide wrote in “Fighting Patton.”

“There was not one other single man in the Army who could’ve done that,” Mike Province, author of “The Unknown Patton” and head of the Patton Society, told IBD. “No one else had the willpower and knowledge of the 2014_12_19_Rule Five Friday (3)terrain. He turned the entire 3rd Army 90 degrees and headed north — about 200,000 men and 200 tanks. It took the sheer willpower of Patton.”

Willpower – something Patton had in abundance.

When Patton proposed to turn 3rd Army and head north, every officer around him – including Omar Bradley – said it was impossible.  Patton responded that 3rd Army would damn well do as he told them, and they did.

Another of my personal heroes, then-Captain Dick Winters, was in the encircled 101st Airborne at Bastogne – as was the Old Man’s older brother Donald.  When moving into Bastogne, Winters was speaking to a lieutenant from one of the units fleeing the German onslaught.  The young officer told Winters, “A panzer division is about to cut the road south.  You’re going to be surrounded.”

2014_12_19_Rule Five Friday (4)“We’re paratroopers,”  Winters replied.  “We’re supposed to be surrounded.”

The 101st never admitted they needed to be rescued, by Patton or anyone else.  And they may be right.  But that doesn’t make the achievements of Patton and 3rd Army any less.

The article concludes:

A year after his Bulge heroics, Patton died from the effects of a paralyzing car crash in Germany. He’s buried in Luxembourg.

“Patton had shortcomings,” said Sorley, “but Eisenhower knew he was a great fighting general and knew he would need him when the chips were down.”

2014_12_19_Rule Five Friday (5)So did Omar Bradley, Patton’s boss, who called the Californian’s Bulge thrust “one of the most brilliant performances by any commander on either side in World War II.”

Patton had all of the traits of a consummate combat general:  Audacity, courage, determination, ruthlessness, intelligence, education, and a talent for reading his opponents (his victories over Rommel in Africa were largely due to two things:  1) Rommel had written a book on tank warfare, and 2) Patton read it.)  He was an arrogant, profane man, difficult to work for and a handful for his superiors.

But the Allied victory in Europe in WW2 was in no large part due to the efforts of George Patton and 3rd Army.

In the U.S. Army, uniform protocol states that the unit patch of one’s current unit is worn on the left shoulder.  On the right, soldiers that have served in a combat zone may wear the patch of the unit they served with at that time.  On my old uniforms, the patch of 3rd Army is on the right sleeve.

Granted that was for service in the Persian Gulf War in 90-91, not WWII, but still – I’m pretty proud of that.

2014_12_19_Rule Five Friday (6)

Animal’s Daily Martian News

Science!Has NASA’s Curiosity rover found signs of life on Mars?  Excerpt:

Nasa’s announcement on Tuesday that its Curiosity rover had detected wafts of methane in the Martian air was met with immediate speculation that life might be the source. It might. Communities of microbes could be living under the Martian surface and churning out the gas. Perhaps the corpses of long-extinct bugs are being heated in the Martian interior and vaporised into methane. But any number of other processes that involve nothing as spectacular as life can and do make methane too. The problem is that detecting methane alone is never enough to answer the question of whether or not we are alone.

“You need to know a lot more about what’s going on right at the source,” said Michael New, an astrobiologist at Nasa’s headquarters in Washington DC. “You need to know the context. It’s very hard to look at methane alone and say it came from life.”

It’s good to see that bit of caution, that bit of skepticism in the quote from Michael New.  That’s how science is supposed to work.

The hints of methane are tantalizing, though.  It’s been decades since yr. obdt. trained as a biologist and only a few years less than that since I worked in the field, that last stint being a few months in a microbiology lab in 1990-1991.  But an abiding interest in the topic and a lifelong penchant for reading everything I can lay hands on has kept me reasonably current on the topic, and it’s easy to see how the wisps of methane on Mars could be a sign of biological activity under the surface.  But, as NASA points out, there are plenty of possible non-biological sources as well.

Smiling BearDiscovering life on Mars – or anywhere other than Earth – would be one of the greatest discoveries in the history of mankind.  It would be a discovery with vast implications, implications affected subjects ranging from biology to physics to religion.

The linked article concludes:  Good evidence for a biological origin for methane on Mars could come from measurements of the isotopes of carbon and hydrogen that make up the methane molecules. On Earth, at least, life tends to use lighter isotopes, so more carbon-12 than carbon-13.

Seeking those isotope ratios would be a good next step.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

Since yesterday’s comments were directed at a possible 2016 candidacy by Democrat Elizabeth Warren, it seems only fair to discuss an announcement today by a GOP candidate – Jeb Bush.  Once again Michael Walsh weighs in over at PJMedia; his comment:

Just what America needs: three presidents in one family, and the prospect of another Bush/Clinton election. A total disgrace to the American ideal. Jeb and the rest of the clan should reconsider before he embarrasses himself further.

I will second that and add my own, “Oh, HELL no!” to the chorus.

Yes, it’s a fair comment that, if Jeb Bush runs, his father and brother won’t be on the ballot.  Yes, it’s a fair observation to note that the electorate and the media should judge Jeb Bush on his own merits, and not those of his father and brother.

But they won’t.

bears-cute-awesome1-11Just as the tenure of Bill Clinton will be an issue in any possible Hillary Clinton candidacy, so will the Presidencies of the first two Bushes be in issue in any 2016 race involving Jeb Bush.  His father is remembered positively for the runaway success of the first Gulf War (seen as a success mostly because of our quick withdrawal with no attempts at nation-building) but was otherwise a tepid President at best.  And George W. Bush, fairly or not, will always be remembered as having presided over the economic collapse of 2008.

But the larger principle is this:  We are not supposed to be a nation with elite families.  Be they Roosevelts, Kennedys, Gores, Bushes or Clintons, the very idea of elite, ruling-class dynasties is something that should make any American shudder in horror.

That is why Jeb Bush should not run for President.

Animal’s Daily News

EasyImage courtesy of loyal sidekick Rat.  Those guys earned every drop of that wine, and then some.  And once more we send our thanks to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

Michael Walsh thinks Elizabeth “Fauxcahontas” Warren will be the Democrat’s Presidential candidate in 2016.  He says:

Hillary Clinton is a very poor retail politician, who got her lunch eaten and her head handed to her by somebody named Barack Hussein Obama, a man of zero accomplishment who had barely registered on the national radar screen until a couple of years earlier. By contrast, Hillary has been around since Watergate and was in our faces throughout the two terms of the Clinton administration. And yet she still lost.

You just know the Democrats are going to want to keep up their “historic” electoral accomplishments, which means they must nominate a (rich, white, elitist, one-percent member of the Harvard faculty) woman. And that’s going to be Fauxcahontas, the gal from Oklahoma who sets moonbats’ heart all a-flutter with her faux populism.

Mr. Walsh is right about Hillary Clinton.  She is not one-tenth, not one hundredth the natural politician her husband is; she is raw, abrasive, strident, and an abysmal campaigner.  As Mr. Walsh points out, she has been on the national scene since Watergate and Barack Obama a newcomer with essentially zero experience or qualifications, took her out like last night’s fish wrap.  Elizabeth Warren could easily do the same.

Excellent BearStill, I am skeptical she’ll be the candidate.  Ms. Warren has plenty of baggage or her own – the “Lieawatha” use of a totally fictional Indian background to gain “minority” preference from her pre-government employer, for one.  But she does nicely represent the Democrat base’s sharp snap to the left, which inexplicably seems to have accelerated after last month’s electoral bloodbath.

But there is one thing you can generally predict about Presidential candidates who excite their party’s base but fail to draw independents or crossover votes:  They lose.  Elizabeth Warren is a darling of the liberal base, but in a country that is good and damned tired of Obama-brand liberalism, she won’t gain any traction outside that base.

A Warren candidacy is a briar patch into which the GOP should be begging to be thrown.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

A short post today, due to travel yesterday and a new project starting this morning.  Nobody ever said running a consulting business was easy.

The drive from Denver to Ogden was interesting, as it frequently is this time of year.  From Denver to Laramie was easy, with just a bit of snow starting from just south of the Wyoming border.  But I-80 from Laramie to just past Rawlins was a mess – wet, slushy and slick, with several jackknifed tractor-trailers on some of the higher areas.  Still, this northern route is frequently a safer bet this time of year than the southern route across I-70 to I-15, as that latter route takes you across several high mountain passes that can be treacherous in bad weather.  The Wyoming route passes through high, open, rather desolate country that can see some nasty winds and drifts, but the altitude rarely pops up above 8000 feet or so.

Navigating the West in winter can be a tricky business.

But, all is done, Rojito handled the wintry roads with its usual aplomb, and here we are ensconced in an Ogden hotel room until Friday – when the return trip across the same route will hopefully see better conditions.

Stay warm, True Believers!  Regular posts will resume tomorrow.

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