Animal’s Daily News

Probably not an accurate reproduction.
Probably not an accurate reproduction.

The picture of human origins may have gotten more complicated.  Excerpt:

Analysis of trace elements in Penghu 1 suggests the hominin probably lived between 10,000 and 190,000 years ago. The jaw and its teeth look unexpectedly primitive for this age, the researchers said. During the Pleistocene Epoch, which lasted from about 2.6 million years ago to 11,700 years ago, humans generally evolved smaller jaws and teeth, but the new fossil from Taiwan appears larger and more robust than older Homo erectus fossils from Java and northern China.

The researchers said Penghu 1 does resemble a 400,000-year-old fossil from Hexian, in southern China, located about 590 miles (950 km) north of the Penghu Channel. The scientists suggest these fossils together represent a distinct group of archaic humans, although they caution that they do not yet have enough evidence to say whether it is a new species or not.

“We need other skeletal parts to evaluate the degree of its uniqueness,”study co-author Yousuke Kaifu, a paleoanthropologist at Japan’s National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo, told Live Science. “The question of species can be effectively discussed after those steps.”

Uncle.
Uncle.

Or, maybe not.  But that’s how science works; or, at least, how it’s supposed to work.  “Not enough evidence” means “not enough evidence.”  Paleontology is frequently like assembling a massive puzzle from pieces found many miles apart over a period spanning decades; but every find does make the picture just a tiny bit more interesting, if not necessarily clearer.  But it’s also important to note that, just because this fossil is inconclusive, many others are not; the Neandertal, for example, are represented by hundreds of separate sets of remains.

And, it seems, Congressmen may have been around even longer.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

Is the Obama Administration trying to starve out the Alaska Pipeline?  Excerpt:

Washington’s energy debate has been focused on President Obama ’s endless opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, but maybe that was only a warm-up. His new fossil fuel shutdown target is Alaska.

President Obama announced Sunday that he’ll use his executive authority to designate 12 million acres in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as wilderness, walling it off from resource development. This abrogates a 1980 deal in which Congress specifically set aside some of this acreage for future oil and gas exploration. It’s also a slap at the new Republican Congress, where Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski has been corralling bipartisan support for more Arctic drilling.

The ANWR blockade also seems to be part of a larger strategy to starve the existing Trans-Alaska pipeline, the 800-mile system that carries oil south from state lands in Prudhoe Bay. ANWR occupies the land east of that pipeline. The Interior Department this week will release a five-year offshore drilling plan that puts vast parts of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas—the area to the north of the pipeline—out of bounds for drilling. This follows an Administration move in 2010 to close down nearly half of the 23.5 million acre National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPRA)—the area Facepalm-bearwest of the pipeline.

One has to give the President points for chutzpah – only days ago, in his rather defiant State of the Union address, he brazenly took credit for the dramatic drop in energy prices that his Administration has taken every effort to prevent.   This latest attack on American energy independence is just the latest.  Meanwhile the Imperial Mansion seems an inexhaustible font of taxpayer dollars for any green energy scheme cooked up by an Obama campaign contributor – Solyndra, anyone?

Still – there may be hope for some sort of sanity from the Imperial City.  It appears that the House Republican leadership may have discovered they do in fact possess some balls.  The subject of their intransigence is immigration, not energy, but it’s a step.

Animal’s Daily News

Relaxed BearFirst up, thanks to The Other McCain and to the Daley Gator for the Rule Five links!

A couple of tidbits from the early news:

Scott Walker seems to be turning some conservative heads in Iowa.  Excerpt:

First elected in 2010, Walker faced a recall election just two years later and won re-election again last November. He wasted no time in pointing that out to the crowd, adding that he and his family became literal targets during those campaigns.

“Someone sent me a threat that said they were going to gut my wife like a deer,” Walker said to audible gasps from the crowd, detailing how someone also wrote a letter which included the addresses of his kids’ schools and his family members’ homes.

“All they did was remind me how important it was to stand up for the people of my state.”

Walker’s making some interesting appearances.  He might be just the guy for 2016; he is overtly religious enough to appeal to social-issues conservatives, he is pro-business enough to win over the Sam’s Club

Out on a limb.
Out on a limb.

Republicans and he is known for bringing Wisconsin’s public-sector unions to heel, which would appeal to small-government types.  His appeal to libertarians remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, the SUPER SCARY KOCH BROTHERS will apparently be spending some money on the 2016 election.  George Soros (who, by the way, spends even more on liberal candidates, which somehow goes unnoticed) was unavailable for comment.

And on that note, we return you to your Tuesday, already in progress.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

2015_01_26_Goodbye Blue Monday
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

An interesting piece over the weekend from the Weekly Standard‘s Stephen Hayes:  Iran Nonsense.  Excerpt:

The United States hasn’t “halted” Iran’s nuclear program. A week before that claim, Iran announced it would build two more reactors. During this diplomacy, it has made progress on its plutonium program and continued enriching. It was supposed to freeze centrifuge activities at the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant at Natanz, but the IAEA reported last fall it was feeding uranium hexafluoride gas into the IR-5 centrifuge there.

The fact that the Obama administration still insists Iran hasn’t violated the terms of its interim agreement with the United States and its allies says more about the administration’s eagerness to continue diplomacy than it does about Iran’s behavior.

triple-facepalmEven as the Obama administration has demonstrated its determination to give the Iranian regime every benefit of the doubt, the president reflexively questions the motives of anyone who has a different view. In comments at a press briefing with Cameron, Obama implied that Congress—not Iran—would be at fault if military conflict erupted. And at a recent meeting with congressional Democrats, Obama accused Senator Bob Menendez of bowing to the interests of campaign contributors when the New Jersey Democrat expressed concern about never-ending negotiations without consequence.

This is the Administration that dithered while the worst regime since the Third Reich and Stalin’s Soviet Union weaponized hate, and did so in the form of nuclear devices.  Iran will have a nuke – they will have several nukes – and, unless the apocalyptic nutbars that run that country have a sudden attack of sanity, they will use one.  In the considered opinion of yr. obdt. either New York, Washington, or Tel Aviv will be the target.  Sure, Stalin’s Soviet Union also built nukes, but most of us old Cold War types know the big difference; the Soviets, however disastrously wrong their economic policies ended up being, were nevertheless people who loved their children and wanted them to have a world to grow up in.  That, in large part, was what staved off nuclear disaster.  The Iranian leadership?  Not so much.

Back to their nuclear program.  “But Animal,” some say, “there is a big difference between building a nuke and weaponizing it.  Making a nuke that will fit in one of Iran’s missiles (which they are also building as fast as they can) is a whole different proposition.”

Yes, that’s true.  And the nutbag mullahs couldn’t care less.  They don’t have to weaponize a nuke; all they have to do is make one that will go “boom.”  They can then load it into a cargo container and do one of two things:

Kill it with fire1) Put it on a tramp freighter, sail it into New York or Haifa harbors one dark night, and torch it off.

2) Import it into the U.S. through any one of a thousand fake companies registered in Liberia or some other Third World shithole – statistically speaking, almost none of the thousands of cargo containers that come into the country every year are actually inspected – and put it on a truck.  They can then take it anywhere they want to go and torch it off.

Granted it’s very likely that Iran will cease to exist as a nation shortly after that, but it’s also very likely the nutbar mullahs don’t care.  They expect Paradise and 72 virgins as their reward, and striking such a blow at the Great Satan may be worth having their country transformed into a glowing radioactive crater.

And make no mistake (yes, that was deliberate) if it happens, this will be the largest part of President Obama’s legacy.

This is John Galt Speaking.

BlackBerry chief asks Obama to force Netflix, Apple to make BlackBerry apps.  Excerpt:

Facepalm-bearApple, Netflix… listen up. BlackBerry CEO John Chen thinks it’s high time you paid attention to his phones, and he’s calling on the FCC and President Obama to force you to change your tunes.

Specifically, Chen feels that it’s unfair for companies that develop apps to discriminate against a particular platform. He calls out Netflix, who have so far avoided BlackBerry, and Apple, who doesn’t offer any of their mobile apps — like iMessage — for anything other than iOS.

That’s just not fair, he says: “applications/content providers must be prohibited from discriminating based on the customer’s mobile operating system” if we really want to have a free, impartial Internet for everyone to enjoy.

Directive 10-289, anyone?

Rule Five Friday

201501_23_Rule Five Friday (1)A couple more bits of insight on the recent State of the Union, this first from the Weekly Standard’s Fed Barnes:  Obama Blows Smoke.  Excerpt:

We know that supply-side economics emphasizes serious cuts in tax rates and Keynesianism relies on massive amounts of government spending.  But how in the world does “middle class economics” work?  After President Obama cited it repeatedly in State of the Union speech, I waited and waited for him to explain how it works. He never did. 

Instead, he confused a cause with a result. Middle class economics, he said, “is the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.” That’s a nice sentiment, but it’s not an economic policy.

201501_23_Rule Five Friday (2)Let’s be honest about this much; President Obama doesn’t have an economic policy.  What he has is a healthy dose of 1960s style Keynesianism with a healthy dose of class envy rhetoric thrown in to stir up the Left.  And to be fair, the GOP has (so far) not done a very good job of articulating an alternative.

How about talking up some real tax reform, like the FairTax?  How about concrete proposals for dealing with our Ice-Age style, mile-thick glacier of Imperial debt that is creeping steadily down on our children and grandchildren?

Here’s another, this from National Journal’s Ron Fournier:  Does Obama Believe What He Says Anymore?  Excerpt:

201501_23_Rule Five Friday (3)President Obama ended his State of the Union address where he started his political ascent—offering to be a leader who produces can-do bipartisanship in a divided, dysfunctional capital.

“Imagine if we broke out of these tired old patterns,” he told a joint session of Congress on Tuesday. “Imagine if we did something different.”

Yes, imagine if rather than empty promises, the president could report two-party progress on big issues like immigration, climate change, social mobility, and the debt and deficit.

Actually, you don’t need to imagine. Such leadership exists in this country—just not in Washington.

201501_23_Rule Five Friday (4)And, indeed, this is true.  It’s going on in Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker has reined in that state’s runaway finances.  It’s going in in Michigan, where Governor Rick Snyder has dealt with Detroit’s fiscal nightmare and worked out the state’s problems with unfunded pension costs.  All around the country (well, not in California, where the lunatics continue to run the asylum) state Governors are accomplishing what the Imperial City is helpless to address.

Maybe, in 2016, we need to stick one of these Governors in the Imperial Mansion.

201501_23_Rule Five Friday (5)

Animal’s Daily News

Sleepy-BearHere is a bit from the folks at Reason.com on President Obama’s latest state of the Union speech bloviating.   Excerpt:

Obama’s economics are stuck in the 1970s, without the added benefit of wide lapels and airline deregulation. He has dropped all pretense of what he was promising in 2009 – a net spending cut, closing Guantanamo Bay, reforming entitlements. His ideas are so tired that the climax of his speech—literally—was to let a grateful nation know that he still believes the same stuff he said in a speech 10 years ago.

The good news is that everyone will have forgotten this turd sandwich by the end of the week. The bad news is that he’s still the president, they’re still the Congress, and we’ll be back again for more drivel next year.

It’s inarguable that what President Obama does not know about economics would fill several large volumes – although, possibly, not as many as the U.S. tax code.  That monstrosity, though, is a topic for another day – even though one of President Obama’s current stated projects is “tax reform,” by which he means “raising taxes.”

Facepalm-bearThe folks at Reason are correct; Barack Obama has nothing new to offer when it comes to economics.  Like all too many in the Imperial City, he has never worked in the private sector; he has never had employees, never had to meet a payroll, never struggled to figure out the break-even point on a new product and he sure as hell has never had to leap through all of the legal and regulatory hoops involved in a small-business startup.

And that’s why, last night, he managed to talk for quite a while about the economy, without really saying anything.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

Here are two possibly related cultural tidbits.  First up is the Invisible Boyfriend/Girlfriend app.  Excerpt:

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, countless singletons are no doubt gearing up to respond to that dreaded question from parents, grandparents and other nosy relatives: “So, are you seeing anyone?”

Instead of trying to justify your single status to your crotchety aunt, there’s also another option—downloading an Invisible Boyfriend or Girlfriend, which launched today from private to public beta.

Yep, we’re for real. The apps, founded by St. Louis’s Matthew Homann and Kyle Tabor, let users pay for “believable social proof” that they’re in a relationship. They generate everything from photos and meet-cutes to text messages and actual voicemails—all of them totally fake, but also totally realistic.

It’s easy to point to this and cry out, “oh, how pathetic!”  And, yes, it’s true that some – maybe most – of the people who will use that service will be those who can’t get a date any other way.  (Meaning, not at all.)  But it’s better to look at this from another angle; here, in fact, is a shrewd entrepreneur who identified a potential market and crafted a service to take advantage of it.  Homann and Tabor may well make a ton of money from this, and they will have earned it.

The second story takes Homann and Tabor’s target market to the next level, and it’s troubling for a place and people yr. obdt. is very fond of:  Nearly 50 Percent of Japanese People Aren’t Having Sex.  Excerpt:

Nearly 50 per cent of all Japanese adults are not having sex, according to a study, dealing a new blow to government efforts to halt the sliding birth rate.

Just think - this is what they're missing.
Just think – this is what they’re missing.

The report, conducted by the Japan Family Planning Association, determined that 49.3 per cent of the 3,000 people interviewed had not had sex in the previous month.

Of the men interviewed, 48.3 said they had not had sex for a month, while 50.1 per cent of women had abstained. Both figures were up about 5 percentage points from the previous study, conducted in 2012.

Asked why they were not having sex, 21.3 per cent of the married men claimed they were too fatigued after work while 15.7 per cent replied that they were no longer interested in sex after their wives gave birth.

Among the women, 23.8 per cent said sex was “bothersome” and 17.8 blamed being tired from work.

Too tired?  Really?  Too tired?

Is that even possible?

Animal’s Daily News

Science!Remember the fuss when they decided Pluto wasn’t a planet after all?  Well, now there may be two more planets out past Pluto.  Excerpt:

The Solar System has at least two more planets waiting to be discovered beyond the orbit of Pluto, Spanish and British astronomers say.

 

The official list of planets in our star system runs to eight, with gas giant Neptune the outermost.

Beyond Neptune, Pluto was relegated to the status of “dwarf planet” by the International Astronomical Union in 2006, although it is still championed by some as the most distant planet from the Sun.

In a study published in the latest issue of the British journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, researchers propose that “at least two” planets lie beyond Pluto.

Their calculations are based on the unusual orbital behaviour of very distant space rocks called extreme trans-Neptunian objects, or ETNOs.

The evidence – sketchy though it is at this point – is nevertheless the same evidence that led to the discovery of Neptune, namely, perturbations in the orbit of known objects.

Smiling BearIf these planets are confirmed, I’d propose that one of them be named Prosperine, after the Greek goddess carried away to the underworld by Pluto.  I’d settle for the Roman Persephone, but Prosperine was the tenth planet mentioned in James Blish’s great 1950s sci-fi classic Cities in Flight.

New discoveries should be willing to give a nod to such classics.

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