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.

Rule Five Friday

2014_12_12_Rule Five Friday (1)This just in from Pew Research:  Growing Public Support for Gun Rights.  Excerpt:

For the first time in more than two decades of Pew Research Center surveys, there is more support for gun rights than gun control. Currently, 52% say it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns, while 46% say it is more important to control gun ownership.

Support for gun rights has edged up from earlier this year, and marks a substantial shift in attitudes since shortly after the Newtown school shootings, which occurred two years ago this Sunday.

The balance of opinion favored gun control in the immediate aftermath of the Newtown tragedy in December 2012, and again a month later. Since 2014_12_12_Rule Five Friday (2)January 2013, support for gun rights has increased seven percentage points – from 45% to 52% — while the share prioritizing gun control has fallen five points (from 51% to 46%).

This is interesting but not overwhelming?  Why?  Two reasons:

  1. The poll shows a tendency, but not an overwhelming one.  The number of survey respondees favoring gun ownership is only leading by six points.  The trend is interesting but not necessarily significant – at least not yet.  It’s a step in the right direction though.
  2. This is the primary one; public opinion polls are interesting, but not a good basis for public policy, even when we like them.  As an 2014_12_12_Rule Five Friday (3)Objectivist one should favor a scrupulous examination of facts, intelligently derived statistics and solid data.  Fortunately the facts favor the pro-gun side; look at any of the data following the passage of liberalized (in the classical sense) concealed-carry legislation.

For the last forty years or so gun control has been a highly partisan issue.  Democrats as a rule favor restrictions on guns, Republicans as a rule are against them.  There are exceptions but they are just that – exceptions.  But of late gun control has been a losing issue, politically, as three Colorado state senators here learned to their sorrow.  Even today, as the Democrats nationally are lurching to the left, there is still a solid leavening of older Truman Democrats in that party, blue-collar folks who own and use guns and don’t like seeing them messed with.

2014_12_12_Rule Five Friday (4)Zell Miller, one of the last true moderate Democrats, understood that.  Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi don’t.  That may be one of the reasons the Democrats self-destructed last election cycle, although in all candor it wasn’t a major issue.

Pew concludes:  In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

2014_12_12_Rule Five Friday (5)In other words, the fight will continue.  At the heart of it are these words:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

It is plain language.  The Supreme Court has, in more than one case, ruled that yes, it does present an individual right.

So why are we still arguing about it?

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Back OnLine

tumblr_lqln1td4rH1qf2i1ho1_1280OK, we’re back.  A technical issue (crappy server security) on our old web hosting service led to us having to find a new hosting company on short notice, but all is well now.  Regular posts will resume with Rule Five Friday tomorrow.

The young lady pictured here works for neither the old nor the new hosting company, nor did she have anything to do with resolving our technical issues.  Her appearance here is purely gratuitous.

Your patience is appreciated!

Goodbye, Blue Monday

2014_12_08_Goodbye Blue Monday
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Looks like yr. obdt. will be heading back to work soon, and not in any of the anticipated/feared locations (Cleveland or Frisco.)  No, it looks like the upcoming 3-6 month gig will be in a place I’ve worked before and loved – Ogden, Utah.

Why?

1) John Browning’s birthplace.  Seriously, maybe some of that gun designer genius will rub off?  If any True Believers happen to find themselves in Ogden, I highly recommend a visit to the Browning museum.  The hand-made prototypes of world-changing guns like the 1911 and the Auto-5 alone are worth the visit.

2) Climate/location.  8 hours from home by Rojito, 90 minutes by air.  Same time zone as the homestead.  Pretty much the same mild winters, at least compared to the upper Midwest where I’ve spent the last two winters.  Arrival will be too late for grouse hunting or much else, but rabbit seasons are open until end of February, so it may be worth taking a .22 along.

3) Scenery.  My previous visit to Ogden got cut short before I could get a good look at the Great Salt Lake, a genuinely unique landmark in this area – and the Wasatch Mountains are a great place to spend a weekend bumming around.

4) Folks.  Say what you will about Mormons, but in my experience they are some of the nicest, friendliest folks around – and there are enough gentiles in the Ogden area (gentile being the Mormon term for any non-Mormon) that I can get a beer if I want one.

2014_12_08_Goodbye Blue Monday II
Blue Monday Bonus!

So, it looks like a good gig coming up.  It may lack some of the perks of other locations I’ve worked, like southern California’s salubrious climate and ample supply of the Feminine Aesthetic, or Japan’s great food, beautiful scenery and wonderful wackiness, or Minnesota’s incredible fishing, but all in all I’ll take Ogden.

Travel will probably happen in the next few days.  And now that I’ve got my excitement about the new gig out in the open, regular news/commentary posts will return tomorrow at the latest.

Excelsior!

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