All posts by Animal

Rule Five Friday

2014_09_19_Rule Five Friday (1)Some election tidbits:

GOP Candidate Takes 10-Point Lead in Colorado Governor’s Race.  Excerpt:

National media types have gone into overdrive to focus on the Kansas governor’s race where GOP incumbent Sam Brownback is struggling to win re-election after enacting a conservative agenda. But Brownback is within the margin of error in recent polls. That might not be the case about another governor in a larger state who is trouble for enacting a liberal agenda. The latest Quinnipiac University Poll finds Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper trailing his opponent, former GOP congressman Bob Beauprez, by 10 points.

2014_09_19_Rule Five Friday (2)2014_09_19_Rule Five Friday (3)Honestly, I’m very skeptical about this poll – I don’t see the race as anything but close.  I’d like to see Bob Beauprez win this election, but Colorado is not today what it was ten or fifteen years ago.   Governor Hickenlooper, for all his faults, still commands a powerful lead in the major metro areas of Denver and Boulder.

Could I be wrong?  It’s happened once or twice.

2014_09_19_Rule Five Friday (4)2014_09_19_Rule Five Friday (5)But there’s another indicator.  A USA Today/Suffolk poll taken on September 13-16 shows GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner leading incumbent Mark Udall by one point, the first such poll that has Gardner in the lead.

Interesting, but not necessarily indicative; not yet.  Gardner is running what is in the opinion of yr. obdt. a lackluster campaign.

Nationally it looks like the Senate races are tightening up.  The RCP map has the Senate going (as of today) 47 Republican, 42 Democrat, with 8 tossups.   But a recent WaPo story posits that the Democrats 2014_09_19_Rule Five Friday (6)2014_09_19_Rule Five Friday (7)have a 51% chance of retaining the Senate.

Again, color me skeptical.  At this point my guess is that the GOP will squeak out a narrow majority – 51 or 52 seats.

Still – it’s a bit over six weeks until what may or may not be a wave election.  That’s a long, long time in politics.

2014_09_19_Rule Five Friday (8)

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.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

This just in from the Colossal Idiocy Department:  NBC ‘Expert’ Offers Three Tips to Deal with a Home Invasion. They’re Ridiculous.  Excerpt:

On Sunday, NBC’s Today show offered three tips if you find yourself subjected to a home invasion. A long-time New York City police officer serves as the subject-matter expert.

His three tips are:

  1. Keep your car keys handy where you sleep, and if there’s a home invasion, hit the horn button to create a lot of noise.
  2. Keep a can of hornet and wasp spray handy, and if the invaders enter your room, spray them with it to render them temporarily blind.
  3. Sleep with all your bedroom doors open so everyone in the house can hear everything that’s going on.

Notice what NBC’s expert leaves out: Firearms. Your Second Amendment rights never occur to NBC.

NBC’s blind spot is not accidental; the network has never been friendly to effective (read that: armed) self-defense.  But seriously – hornet spray?

Any thug who breaks into the Casa de Animal won’t face hornet spray.  They’ll face capably handled firearms.  It’s important to note that firearms aren’t the best answer for everyone; if a person isn’t willing to practice, to achieve a degree of confidence and competence with the firearm of choice, then they are probably better off without one.  But a firearm will equalize physical differences between homeowner and thug to a greater degree than any other single thing.

Angry-BearThe old truism dating back to the Old West goes “God created men.  Colonel Colt made them all equal.”  It’s an old saw, but an accurate one – only a firearm can put a middle-aged, 100-pound woman on an equal footing with a 20 year old, 200 pound male attacker.

NBC does not do their viewers service by completely (and purposely) omitting this possibility from the discussion of self-defense.

Animal’s Daily News

Smiling BearI’ve always been a fan of the venerable .30-06.  Six or seven rifles in this caliber have graced the gun rack and one point or another,  although we have but two in the house at the moment.  Loyal sidekick Rat also totes an ’06 in the field in pursuit of deer and elk.

It seems Gun Digest shares our appreciation of this fine old round.  Read Greatest Cartridges:  The Amazing .30-06 Springfield.  Excerpt:

There is now, and has been since the Chinese invented gunpowder, a continuing debate seeking the mythical “best all-around cartridge.” One can make a really convincing argument for the .30-06 as that cartridge.

Excluding the elephant, Cape buffalo, rhino, hippo, and I might add lion of Africa, and, perhaps another animal or two from elsewhere, an accurate rifle using proper bullets in the old Springfield will get most any job done convincingly.

gun control theoryFortunately, most of us do not have to make that kind of decision as we can select a cartridge that is essentially ideal for a particular animal being hunted. How this really splendid cartridge came about is an interesting story.

The gun rack at the Casa de Animal has a pretty good range of centerfire hunting calibers,  ranging from the thunderous .45-70 to the diminutive .22 Hornet.  But if a fellow wants a one-gun big-game arsenal, it would be hard to go wrong with the .30-06.

In fact, if you were to assemble a three-gun arsenal for hunting almost anywhere in the world, you’d be hard-pressed to beat a .30-06 bolt gun, a pump-action 12 gauge shotgun, and a .22 rifle.  Add a .45ACP handgun, say a 1911-pattern gun, and you’re ready for almost anything short of elephants.

Read the rest of the Greatest Cartridges series here.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

2014_09_15_Blue Monday
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

A few random tidbits for a busy, back-to-work Monday.  First of all, our thanks once again to The Other McCain for the Sunday Rule Five links!

Nancy Pelosi Might Just Be Insane.  Let’s be forthright; Nancy Pelosi isn’t even on speaking terms with sanity.  The woman is stark raving nutburgers.

And, on follow-up to Nancy Pelosi’s statement to Bill Maher that “civilization as we know it” is threatened if the GOP wins control on the Senate:  ISIS Beheads British Aid Worker David Haines.  ISIS is beheading people with wild abandon, and Nancy “Nutburger” Pelosi says that having a GOP Senate majority threatens civilization as we know it?

Seriously, San Francisco, why do you keep sending this woman to Congress?

But at least we are winning our fight against the Ebola outbreak – or are we?

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

Rule Five Friday

2014_09_12_Rule Five Friday (2)How Long Can The Economy Absorb Excessive Government Spending?  Not much longer.  Excerpt:

The Congressional Budget Office’s latest budget estimates showing a marked decrease in the federal deficit seem to indicate the fiscal fights that have rocked Washington for the last five years are over. However that is wrong, these conflicts are perpetual.

2014_09_12_Rule Five Friday (3)CBO’s figures do project a significant fall in the deficit – to $506 billion, $174 billion below last year’s, and 2.9% of GDP. But it has only dropped so far, because it rose so high. In 2007, the deficit was $161 billion and 1.1% of GDP. In 2009, it was $1.413 trillion and 9.8% of GDP.

Washington has taken the federal budget to a higher plateau on taxes and spending, and will climb higher from there. However, just because the debate will resume again, and likely more virulently, why is it important?

It’s important because of the upcoming fiscal train wreck, of course.

2014_09_12_Rule Five Friday (4)At some point in the 20th century the primary role of government, especially the Imperial Federal government, became the redistribution of wealth through taxation.  Tax policy has changed accordingly; from the original purpose of raising revenue for essential government functions, the tax code has become a system for the redistribution of wealth and ensuring “fairness” (use of scare quotes intentional.)

How is this connected to the Federal Imperial debt?  Because 2014_09_12_Rule Five Friday (5)regardless of tax policy, there is a ceiling to tax revenues, that ceiling being about 21-23% of GDP.  To make up the gap, pols in the Imperial City first ran rampant through the Social Security “trust fund” (again, use of scare quotes intentional) and then began borrowing, at increasingly insane levels.

It is very likely we have gone past the point of no return on this issue.  What will the end game look like?  An Imperial repudiation of debt?  Runaway inflation?  One thing we know for sure – unless there is a major change in the Imperial City, there will be no growth-based solution to this mess; every economic policy put forth from Washington for the last ten years ago has been staunchly anti-growth.

2014_09_12_Rule Five Friday (6)If there is a pol in the Imperial City that knows the difference between ass and face where economics are concerned, I’m switched if I can think of who that might be.

The linked article concludes:

It is impossible to see an issue so fraught with import, short of war and peace. Yet, questions of war and peace are not perpetual, thankfully only occurring periodically and at crucial junctures. The question of taxing and spending is perpetual – and perpetually crucial.

And perpetually ignored, both by the pols in the Imperial City and a plurality of those who vote them into office.

2014_09_12_Rule Five Friday (1)

Animal’s Daily News

Yes-YOU-bearSome reflection seems appropriate for the day – in case you don’t remember, look at a calendar and remember this day in 2001.  And on that topic, here is the always-worth-reading Dr. Thomas Sowell on President Obama’s strategy for the Middle East.  Excerpt:

There is always someone else to blame for whatever goes wrong in the Obama administration. Supposedly the intelligence services had not kept him informed about how imminent the ISIS threat was. But others who received top-secret briefings by the intelligence services say otherwise.

Some people are wondering how someone of obvious intelligence like Barack Obama could be so mistaken about so many things, especially in deadly foreign policy issues. But there is no way of knowing whether anyone is succeeding or failing without first knowing what they are trying to do.

Angry-BearIf you assume that Obama is trying to protect the safety and interests of the U.S. and its allies, then clearly he has been a monumental failure. It is hard to think of any part of the world where things have gotten better for us since the Obama administration began.

Much as I admire and respect Dr. Sowell (and that is a great deal) I have to take exception with his description of the President as “someone of obvious intelligence.”  To be honest, I see little evidence of this obvious intelligence.  He is no dullard, but neither is he a great intellectual, or even a particularly deep thinker; he is abysmally poorly informed on a variety of topics important to his job (economics, military affairs.)  And while he gives pretty speeches when using a teleprompter, he is an execrable speaker when he has to ad-lib.

The ability to speak extemporaneously is, to my estimation, a sign of intelligence.  Ronald Reagan could do it.  Rhodes Scholar Bill Clinton could (and can) do it.  Barack Obama just can’t.  He stutters, he stumbles, he gaffes.  And why are his college records sealed?  What is there that must be kept quiet?

But on balance Dr. Sowell is correct.  All evidence indicates that the Obama Administration will be known for three things:  Evading responsibility, procrastination, and a chronic failure to follow through.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

It seems there is a nuclear power plant only a few miles from the Imperial City that has some, well, security problems – as in, security that doesn’t exist.  Excerpt:

A reporter and videographer drove from the nation’s capital last Friday to Calvert Cliffs (nuclear power plant) and twice accessed the power plant site. No one stopped or even seemed to notice them.

The (Daily Caller) DC was able to proceed through an unmanned security checkpoint — the guard booth was empty and padlocked — and, minutes later, enter a parking lot about 550 feet away from one of the plant’s two nuclear reactors.

On one visit, reporters did not see a single security guard anywhere. On a subsequent visit, a lone marked security car passed by without slowing down or asking questions.

At one point, a large civilian truck — roughly of the size of the trucks used in terror bombings around the world, including at the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995 — rolled through the front gates and approached the reactors without being stopped.

A whole lot of people need to lose jobs over this.

The 9/11 Commission noted that there were indications even then that terrorists considered nuclear power plants a high-value target, and that plans were in place to attack them.  So why are the operators of these plants making it easier on them?

Has anyone considered the implications of a reactor vessel breach in a populated area?

FrustrationI’ve always been an advocate of nuclear power.  It’s one of the key pieces of an energy puzzle that we need to solve as soon as possible.  But just as the post-9/11 world has changed the way we think about security in air travel, so too has it changed the way we need to think about security in nuclear plants.  Like any high-risk targets, at a bare minimum the plants have to control access to the facility.

Calvert Cliffs has failed badly.  Heads should roll.