Thursday, January 23, 2020

Amazing critters

Earlier this month I posted a photograph of octopus eggs that fascinated me.  In response, a reader sent me the link to this video report on the critters, which is even more interesting.

I've seen many octopii in the wild, during my youth in South Africa, but I never knew all that about them.  I'll try not to think about it next time I'm eating calamari!


"The big hand is on the 12, and the little hand . . . "

It seems our digital era is causing yet another casualty.

It has long been a rite of passage for young children; the moment they first begin to grasp how to tell the time as their parents patiently explain the significance of the “big hand” and the “little hand”.

But the ubiquity of mobile phones and tablets, with their digital 24-hour clock, is threatening to make the art of telling the time from a traditional timepiece redundant.

So much so that a school in Scotland has found that pupils as old as 13 are unable to tell the time from the ‘analogue’ clocks hanging in classrooms and corridors.

. . .

Now the school, in the town of Bridge of Earn, has begun to teach pupils to read a clock the old fashioned way, without resorting to their mobile phones.

In fact mobiles and tablets have been banned during school hours to encourage the girls to look at the clocks around the school.

. . .

Mrs MacGinty insists ... that there are some skills that should transcend the generations.

“Society is changing and the curriculum should change to reflect this,” she said. “But some skills are too important to ignore.

“For example, we are still teaching pupils to read rail and bus timetables, even though it is no longer in the senior school maths syllabus, because it is important that pupils understand how to read these.”

She added: “Having the ability to understand the movement of the minute hand and the hour hand around the face of a clock gives young people a tangible understanding of the passing of time, not just numbers changing on a digital screen.”

There's more at the link.

Actually, I can understand how youngsters today simply don't come into contact with old-fashioned clock- and watch-faces often enough to need to know how to interpret them.  That's a fact of life.  What worries me far more is how they come to depend on digital technology to do things that should, indeed, be basic life skills, because without them we can get into all sorts of difficulties - even serious danger.  Examples:
  • Learning to look out of the window and read the weather signs.  Most of us grew up knowing old doggerel couplets about "red sky at night" or "mackerel sky" or what have you.  They were signs that predicted what was to come.  Many kids today couldn't tell you what to expect without consulting a weather forecast.
  • Being able to deal with a minor emergency such as changing a car tire, or shutting off water or gas to a home.  I know a lot of people who simply don't know how to do any of those things.  In an emergency, they reach for their cellphones and call someone else to come and do it for them.  What if no-one's available?
  • Reading maps.  When I first came to the USA in the late 1990's, I navigated all over the eastern half of the country, from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, using a Rand McNally road atlas and my knowledge of how maps worked.  I had no smartphone, no GPS system.  I didn't need them.  How many young people today could say - or do - the same?
  • Conduct research.  I had to learn to use a library card index, look up information in books, magazines and newspapers, learn where to find the facts I needed - not just libraries, but also museums, university faculties, corporations, etc. - and so on.  By the time I did my Masters degree dissertation, I could use computers to crunch numbers, write and format the text, etc., but I still had to plan, design and conduct the research, collect the results, and analyze them.  Nowadays, that process is so automated that I have to wonder how many students could do it on their own.
  • Meet people, carry on a conversation, etc.  If I wanted to meet girls, I had to learn to talk to them, carry myself like a halfway decent human being (clothes, manners, language, etc.), and make myself someone in whom they might be interested.  Nowadays it's all "swipe left" or "swipe right" on a smartphone screen.  What's more, sex was usually something that happened (if it did - it wasn't guaranteed) after you got to know each other - not as a preliminary to that!  Take away their smartphones and apps, and how many people would be able to carry on a normal, civilized conversation, and get to know someone the old-fashioned way?
  • Personal security.  How many young people today are willing and able to defend themselves and their loved ones against criminal attack?  How many youngsters are taught to "read the signs" of a not-so-good neighborhood, or a potential predator, and avoid them?  How many kids go off to college oblivious to the fact that there are bad people out there, and end up being assaulted, raped or murdered because they take no precautions whatsoever?  I don't blame them for that so much as I blame those who didn't prepare them for the realities of life.

I suppose reading an old-fashioned clock face is really just an early indicator for all of those issues, and more.  How to solve the problem?  I'm not sure.  Parents don't seem to be doing their job in teaching their youngsters how to cope with life, the universe and everything.  They appear to be abdicating that responsibility to the schools - but schools aren't designed to do that job.  If we expect and allow them to act in loco parentis, we have no right to get upset when they teach our kids things we'd rather they didn't learn.  That goes with the territory.


Men are dipping their WHAT into WHAT???

Now and again one comes across something so egregiously stupid that one can't quite grasp it for a moment.  One sits, reading the words or watching the video, and thinking, "This absolutely cannot - can't possibly - be true!"  Sadly, all too often it is.  (Follow the links below at your own risk!)

A groundbreaking 2013 study of how mice can taste with their testicles has resurfaced online. And now social media bozos are testing the theory, first published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, by dipping their genitals in soy sauce for the latest bizarre TikTok trend.

The study was apparently rediscovered by TikTok user Regan, who challenged male social media users to “please dip your ***** in something [because] it’s for science and I must know.”

Go figure: TikTokers were eager to lend their scrotums to science. One viral response — posted five days ago by user Alx James — depicts an intrepid gastronomer basting his **** with soy sauce (don’t worry, he doesn’t show the actual application) while sitting in his car with takeout grub. James says he was inspired by the portion of the study that claims “the amino acids inside soy sauce can also be detected by the *****.”

James also claims his testicular taste test was a success. “Oh my God, I can taste the salt!” exclaims the ecstatic experimenter, adding “that’s ridiculous” before the clip ends.

Needless to say, the viral vid racked up more than 800,000 likes and 9,000-plus comments from the peanut gallery. “When I was younger, I thought in 2020 we’d have flying cars but no it’s just guys dipping their junk in soy sauce,” mused one social media pundit.

. . .

James wasn’t the only one to conduct the unorthodox experiment. Social media guru GayGod (a k a YouTuber Matthew Lush) seconded Alex’s findings in another viral vid, claiming to his 966,000 followers he could detect the soy sauce and orange juice.

However, much to some medical professionals’ chagrin, there’s no evidence “to back up any claims that men (of any species) can actually taste things through their junk,” Dr. Kieran Kennedy told Men’s Health.

There's more at the link.

Y'know . . . when my momma and poppa raised me, they taught me a few things.  One of them was that the good Lord gave me a tongue for a reason (well, for several reasons, actually).  One of them was to taste my food.  They didn't have to tell me that no other organ was designed to do that.  I kinda figured that out for myself!  I worked out quickly enough that my nether regions were designed for other purposes.  Initially, they involved diapers and the filling thereof.  Later . . . well, later things got more interesting!

Be that as it may, I have never felt even the slightest temptation to dip my nether regions into anything except water - preferably warm enough that it doesn't cause their rapid contraction (not to mention retraction).  I have better uses for soy sauce and orange juice.  They involve gastronomic utility and digestion.  They do NOT . . . oh, never mind.

I'm a man of faith, so I do have a ready explanation for those who do these things.  As the late, great Samuel Johnson put it (according to Boswell, anyway), "Quem Deus vult perdere, prius dementat".  And no, he wasn't referring to a Toyota Prius!


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

More F-4 Phantoms at work and at play

This year the Japan Air Self-Defense Force will be retiring the last of its F-4 Phantom aircraft.  It's one of the last Air Forces to operate the veteran type, which was a mainstay of the Vietnam War in the 1960's.  It's always had a reputation as a demanding aircraft to fly, but one that repays piloting skill with superb performance.

A Japanese videographer has produced a couple of fascinating videos of the JASDF's Phantoms over the past year or so.  We've seen them in these pages.  Here's his latest offering, filmed in slow motion at very high resolution.

It's amazing to think that the F-4 first flew in the year that I was born, yet some upgraded examples are still in front-line service.  That's more than I can say for myself!


"The problem with small self defense guns"

That's the title of an article in Shooting Illustrated.  (It's also a topic I've addressed in these pages from time to time, as regular readers will know.)  Here's an excerpt from SI's article.

[Some of] the biggest obstacles to shooting subcompact guns well [include] the grip size, recoil control, sight system and trigger system. Some you can improve upon such as the sights or trigger. Subcompacts are notorious for having poor combat-style sights. As these subcompacts grow in popularity, sight manufacturers continue to adapt to consumer trends and offer upgraded options. The trigger is a bit more challenging. Few subcompacts come with a smooth trigger; many have a heavy and long trigger pull that requires a decent amount of time to master. Again, as consumer trends increase so too will aftermarket options for drop-in replacement triggers. A caution on trigger upgrades. Avoid any product that can compromise the internal safeties in any way. Be cautious in your selection. If it sounds too good to be true—you know the rest.

This leaves us with grip size and recoil control. By their nature, subcompacts are small. The smaller size makes them easier to conceal, but hard to hold and shoot well. I find some are better to grip than others.

. . .

Recoil control is a difficult subject to talk about using the printed word. It has to be experienced. The lighter frames and shorter slides will mean the recoil impulse can be more noticeable or pronounced.

. . .

Shooting subcompacts does not have to be fraught with discomfort. The challenges you face are manageable if you take the right steps. The first step is the hardest step, which is practicing more. We can all benefit from more practice, more training and more education ... When the whole firing line is shooting subcompacts, you get a great perspective. You can see the recoil impulse more exaggerated in some shooters. As you pay more attention, you begin to see who is applying good technique and who is not.

There's more at the link.  It's a good article, and I recommend reading it in full.

I can bring an evolving perspective to this subject, because as I get older and more decrepit (hand strength, eyesight, general flexibility and mobility issues, etc.), I find the smaller handguns more and more difficult to shoot well.  That's a serious issue, because I'm liable for every shot I fire in a defensive situation.  If I miss my legitimate target (the bad guy) and hit an illegitimate one (e.g. a passing stranger, or a kid on the other side of a house's wall), I'm legally liable for the consequences of my shot, whether they were intended or not.  The use of lethal force is all on me.  That being the case, I want to be as sure as possible that I don't expose others to harm, or myself to legal jeopardy.

I think there are several things one can do to minimize the risk.  One is to downsize the caliber/cartridge of one's carry weapon(s) to something one can manage.  I hate to admit it, but as my back deteriorates, the recoil of .45 ACP cartridges in sub-compact weapons is causing me more and more pain.  (That's not the case with full-size weapons that fit my hand better and absorb more of the recoil, but I can't always conceal them very easily in the heat of a Texas summer!)  Therefore, my pocket pistols have been downsized to 9mm Parabellum.  I don't like that, but reality outweighs my affection for the bigger, heavier bullet.

That's not the case with revolvers, however, because one can buy (or develop hand-loaded equivalents for) cartridges that recoil less, and are more manageable.  That's often difficult when shooting semi-auto pistols, because a certain amount of recoil energy is usually required to cycle the slide and load the next round to fire.  In .44 Special, for example, I really like Buffalo Bore's hard-cast full wadcutter round (and its equivalent in .38 Special).  I have no doubts at all about the effectiveness of that type of bullet (Jim Cirillo proved that the hard way as a member of the NYPD's Stakeout Squad), and it's loaded to a level that's manageable even in a lightweight Charter Arms Bulldog revolver.  I'm therefore able to keep shooting it, and intend to do so for as long as my body will let me control it.

Choosing grips for one's revolver that fill and fit the hand is another factor;  one can't always do that with a pistol, but aftermarket grips can make any revolver fit one better than the factory-standard units.  I've found that I can continue to shoot even relatively small .38 Special snub-nose revolvers by adding larger grips.  Yes, they make the gun physically larger, and thus more difficult to conceal;  but by choosing my clothing carefully, I can still hide them in a deep pocket, using a suitable holster to keep them in the right orientation for a rapid withdrawal if needed.  (I've come to like Pachmayr's Renegade grips [shown below to fit a S&W J-frame snubby] very much:  they fill my hand nicely, and give me the gripping surface I need to control and make best use of snub-nose revolvers, even ultra-lightweight models.  Altamont's snubby revolver grips are another good choice.)

Revolvers also take care of the problem of racking a pistol's slide, particularly for those with limited hand and/or arm strength and/or mobility.  They hold less ammunition, to be sure, but they generally hold enough to defend oneself, unless one gets into something rather more complicated than the average armed encounter.  Yes, that happens;  and yes, if it does, one's likely to be S.O.L. - but that's the case with pistols, too.  One does what one can under the circumstances.

Consider, too, the utility of having one's defensive weapons worked over by a good gunsmith.  An action job can lighten and smooth the trigger pull of a handgun, making it much easier to get good, accurate, fast hits.  Yes, that costs money;  and yes, while your gun is at the gunsmith's (which may be the case for several months, if they're booked up), you'll need to have access to a second gun to carry.  Borrow one from a friend, if you can't afford another one of your own.  (I keep a couple available for that very purpose.  What are friends for, after all?  In the same way, if you can afford to do so, keep a spare gun or two on hand.  You never know who might need one - and you might, quite literally, save a friend's life that way.)

Another very important part of the solution is to practice more.  Far too many people who carry a gun for self-defense shoot it relatively seldom, perhaps no more than once or twice a year.  That's not enough to master it.  Try to maintain a training regime of at least one visit to the shooting range every month, firing at least a box of ammunition every time.  (If it's hard to afford that much full-caliber ammunition, consider a cheaper training solution.)  Also, don't practice bad habits!  If you consistently aren't shooting well, try to find an instructor who can help you improve, then practice the better techniques you've learned.  There's no point in reinforcing habits that will get you - or, worse, an innocent bystander - killed!  Ask at your local shooting range about nearby instructors, or look online for more information.

Finally, if you just can't get comfortable with smaller, more concealable handguns any longer, it may be time to admit that you need to carry a full-size weapon.  They're bigger, fit the hand better, absorb more recoil, and are generally considered more reliable than their smaller counterparts.  Yes, they're less concealable:  but that's the trade-off you make to carry something you can control effectively in the heat of the moment.  You may have to accept a different style of dress or mode of carry, or not carry at all if the weather doesn't allow you to put on suitable concealment garments.  Sadly, sometimes we can't have it all.  That's just the way life goes.


From Australia to California, wildfires are a Big Brother problem

An article about the current wildfire crisis in Australia brought back echoes of recent comments about the same issue in the USA.

It is very obvious who the people are who should be held accountable for the current mess.

At the top of the list are the premiers and ministers responsible for land management, such as it is, and bushfire policy, and the public servants in their departments with jurisdiction over forests and national parks. State governments in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria have palpably failed to do the most important job they were elected to do: protect the lives and livelihoods of their citizens and the health of their environment. And their public servants have failed to do the job they are being paid to do: serve the public.

. . .

Local government authorities are also high on the list of those accountable — and here again state governments bear responsibility, as they should never have allowed them to get away with the nonsenses we have seen coming out of town halls over recent years with respect to vegetation clearing and building approvals. Some premier or minister should have cracked down hard on this foolishness, and cracked down hard.

Of all the things that perplex me about the current mess the most significant is this: the blatant ignoring  by premiers, ministers  and agency bureaucrats of the warnings of bushfire scientists  that a disaster was imminent and, on top of that, their failure to study bushfire history.  Our climate, even the ‘pre-climate-change climate’,  our vegetation and the abundant sources of ignition mean that we are inherently a bushfire-prone country. And even on top of all that, our governments and bureaucrats have been provided, over and over and over again, with evidence that killer bushfires will occur in Australia unless pre-emptive action is taken.  Not just here, but in California, Canada, Greece and Portugal — anywhere in the world with hot dry summers, periodic droughts and flammable vegetation.

Yet despite the science, the evidence presented by bushmen, the dramatic history of this continent’s relationship with fire, and the findings of numerous inquiries, successive governments in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria over the last 25 years have consistently failed to prepare potential firegrounds in the expectation of the inevitable. Not only this, they seem to have actually go out of their way to make things worse: the cut-backs to fuel reduction burning, the closure of access roads and trails in national parks, the decimation of professional forestry and fire management expertise, the turning of the blind eye to the creation of residential subdivisions in capable of being defended, the funding of “research” in the universities that is aimed at making the job of the firefighter more difficult, and the erection of a complex bureaucratic edifices that hinder sensible bushfire preparedness and make fuel-reduction burning almost impossible.

. . .

And what of the greenies and the ivory tower academics from Murdoch, Curtin and Wollongong universities? The anti-fuel reduction burning academics have no understanding of practical bushfire management. They are misguided, misinformed and, by my reckoning, dangerously mischievous.  But they have not been running the show. The premiers, ministers and senior public servants overseeing the land-management agencies could have, and should have, simply rejected the academics’ green ideology and its foolish precepts. Bitter experience should by now have made it blindingly obvious that the green approach to bushfire management can end only in tears. Instead, those who shirked their responsibility to protect their communities kowtowed and pandered. They played political games — Greens preferences in inner-city electorates can make or break governments, don’t you know —  so they swallowed the utter bilge of academic theorists, people who have never in their lives had to fight a fire, let alone take responsibility for the design and implementation of an entire fire-management system.  In genuflecting before the intelligentsia (the word is used advisedly), our governments knowingly sacrificed the community and the bush. The phrase “criminal negligence” comes to mind.

There's more at the link.  It's sickening reading, from an author who's an expert on the subject.

Sadly, one wonders whether the Australian powers that be will pay any attention to his expertise.  If one is to take anything from California's example, one suspects not.

[Chuck DeVore, vice president of national initiatives at the Texas Public Policy Foundation] recalls that as a freshman California assemblyman in 2005, he visited forest product industry professionals in Northern California.  They told him of a "worrisome trend" that had begun many years before, where "both federal and state regulators were making it more and more difficult for them to do their jobs."  Mainly, the problem was that "[a]s timber harvesting permit fees went up and environmental challenges multiplied, the people who earned a living felling and planting trees looked for other lines of work."  As the "timber industry gradually collapsed," the "combustible fuel load in the forest predictably soared," because forest management professionals stopped "clearing brush and thinning trees."

The process of clearing forests in California had begun long before industrialization, with the native populations in California prior to the Gold Rush — but for different reasons then.  Photographic evidence of the Sierra landscape in the 1850s and 1860s presents "open fields of grass punctuated by isolated pine stands and scattered oak trees," largely because the natives "shaped this landscape with fire to encourage the grasslands and boost the game animal population."

When the Gold Rush took hold and California grew, forests were a vital resource for both construction and fuel.  "The landscape filled with trees," DeVore writes, "but the trees were harvested every 30 to 50 years."  Increasing federal and state regulation "disrupted" that cycle in the 1990s, however, "especially on the almost 60% of California forest land owned by the federal government."

. . .

The reason for the regulations curtailing logging and the use of biofuels as an energy source is predicated upon environmental concerns.  Specifically, "wood doesn't burn as cleanly as natural gas," and the "wood waste from timber operations" that used to be burned in biomass generators became scarcer.  As such, there have been mass closures in recent decades of the biomass generators that once provided readily available and affordable energy.  "What used to be burned safely in power generators is now burned in catastrophic fires," DeVore writes.

Again, more at the link.

Governments also skew local markets, forcing the providers of certain services to provide them whether or not it makes sense to do so - because they're pandering to the voters, not addressing reality.  Fire insurance is a good example.

It’s not that fires are more devastating in the natural sense. The problem is that human beings insist on putting their property in places where fires have long destroyed the landscape, over and over again.

. . .

The Los Angeles Times editorial board, for example, complains that “Land-use decisions are made by local elected officials and they’ve proven themselves unwilling to say no to dangerous sprawl development …”

But government prohibitions aren’t necessary. If people insist on building and selling homes in fire-prone areas, let them be the ones to cover all the costs. This includes the cost of fire mitigation and rebuilding after fire. This in itself would limit development in these areas.

And yet, while California pundits are complaining that policymakers aren’t doing enough, California politicians are actively taking steps to keep the market from correcting the excessive building in fire-prone areas ... California regulators prohibited insurance companies from dropping the homeowners’ insurance policies of homeowners in fire prone areas.

. . .

By stepping in to force insurance companies to cover these homeowners, California politicians are doing two things:

They’re continuing the cycle of encouraging homebuyers to buy homes in areas likely to fall victim to wildfires. At the same time, regulators are increasing the costs incurred by insurance companies, and this will likely have the effect of driving up the price of fire insurance for homeowners who more prudently declined to purchase a house in fire-prone areas.

. . .

In a more sane political environment, however, those who insist on living in the way of wildfires would have to assume the risk of doing so, rather than demanding politicians force the cost on insurance companies and taxpayers.

More at the link.

To me, the answer is simple.  Learn from history;  do what's worked in the past;  and ignore fake science and quasi-religious ideological shibboleths that simply don't address the real problem.  Furthermore, if an area is prone to natural disasters - be it fire, flood, storm, earthquake or whatever - let those who choose to live there bear the risk, and the cost, of replacing their losses.  Let them pay realistic, market-related insurance premiums, rather than state-dictated, artificially subsidized rates that jack up everybody else's premiums as well, even those living in safer areas.  Pain in the wallet will rapidly bring people to their senses.

On the other hand, I don't mind putting modern technology to work in helping to resolve the situation.  For example, an Israeli company has come up with a new water-bombing technology that should enable firefighting aircraft to operate more safely at night.  Here's a publicity video describing it.

The extra altitude allowed by this system should keep water-bomber pilots a whole lot safer - and that's a good thing for everybody.  More such inventions, please!

Meanwhile, I suppose it's unrealistic to say we should elect politicians with more sense.  That never seems to work, does it?


Tuesday, January 21, 2020

When birth certificates become a public safety issue

The law of unintended consequences appears to have struck again, this time in Colorado, where anyone can apply to have their birth certificate amended to change the record of their biological sex at birth.

If governmental policy allows IDs to contain false, misleading, confusing, or unverified information, a chain reaction of adverse societal consequences will result. Those formerly comfortable in relying on the information disclosed in IDs will be compelled to undertake their own costly, time-consuming, and difficult investigations in order to verify the true nature of the person presenting an ID.

. . .

Inability to rely on the accuracy of the ID information will be of serious, if not critical, concern to most of the population.  Examples of those adversely affected by government identification of males as females (and vice versa) are:

1.  Parents when vetting potential playmates for their children and when vetting the parents and siblings of proposed playmates.  Most parents would not consent for a teen daughter to go overnight camping with a teen transgirl.  Parents understand the adverse medical, social, and economic risks and consequences and the social contagion and indoctrination attending the transgender lifestyle.

2.  Parents when vetting potential babysitters and companions for their children and when vetting parents of such babysitters and companions.  Most parents would not consent for a teen transgirl to babysit a daughter nor permit their daughter to spend time at the home of a transgirl.

. . .

4.  Employers (especially medical providers) who desire to confirm the biological sex of prospective employees (when such is a legally permitted qualification).  A female patient requested a female nurse for an intimate procedure and was summoned by an “obviously male” staffer with stubble and tattoos, who claimed, “My gender is not male. I’m a transsexual.” The woman declined the procedure.

5.  Persons, for whatever reason, seeking relationships only with persons of the same biological sex or only with persons of the opposite biological sex, i.e., a male desiring to date and marry a female who can bear him a child.

6.  Persons considering intimate involvement wanting to know the biological sex of the sexual partner because of the extraordinarily high risk of HIV infection attending the transgender lifestyle.

There's more at the link.

It's time this pandering to transsexuals was stopped in its tracks.  They have the undoubted right to conduct their private lives as they please, just as you or I do.  However, when it comes to deliberate, officially sanctioned public deception, that's another matter entirely.  If I had a child who was placed in any of the situations outlined above, I'd be incensed (to put it mildly).  It's simply not acceptable, not legitimate, and neither ethically nor morally correct.  Disclosure of the facts is basic to trust.  If such facts aren't disclosed, and later come to light, trust is destroyed - not to mention the other potential consequences of such deception.

One hopes the people of Colorado will do something to overturn this insanely inappropriate and potentially dangerous policy.


The epithet "soy boy" may have some basis in reality

I've often heard metrosexual males referred to disparagingly as "soy boys".  I've heard the same epithet applied to those who regularly consume "gourmet" coffees from places like Starbucks and the like.  Now we learn that soy may, in fact, have some relevance to that.

The use of soybean oil has increased dramatically over the last few decades, to the extent that is has become the most widely consumed edible oil in the US and other Western nations. However, its rise has coincided with an alarming escalation in metabolic conditions like diabetes, insulin resistance, and obesity, and a new study indicates that this may be down to the way that soybean oil causes genetic changes in the brain.

. . .

Writing in the journal Endocrinology, the study authors explain that soybean oil was found to modify the expression of around 100 different genes in the hypothalamus, affecting processes such as metabolism, neurological disease, and inflammation.

Among the altered genes were some that are associated with schizophrenia, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease, although by far the most affected was a gene that codes for the production of a hormone called oxytocin.

. . .

Future research will now need to focus on determining which ingredient is responsible for these genetic changes, although study author Poonamjot Deol of the University of California, Riverside says that while many questions remain unanswered, some very concrete statements can be made off the back of this study.

"If there's one message I want people to take away, it's this: reduce consumption of soybean oil," she said in a statement.

There's more at the link.

There are a few foods - and vendors - in particular that one might want to reconsider after reading that article.
  • If you enjoy coffee made with so-called soy milk, remember that it's not milk - it's "a stable emulsion of oil, water, and protein".  The more of it you drink, the more soybean oil you ingest.
  • If you eat food made with so-called "textured vegetable protein" or TVP, the same consideration applies, because most TVP is made from soy beans.  I'm told Taco Bell serves a lot of food containing TVP - something to consider.  (It's also served a lot in school lunches, apparently, so you might want to check whether your children are eating more of it than may be healthy for them.)
  • Many cooking oils labeled simply as "vegetable oils" have a high proportion of soybean oil in them.  It might be safer to buy "pure" vegetable oils such as olive, avocado, etc.

It's soytanly food for thought!


The lighter side of the dysfunctional apocalypse

I had to laugh at this video prediction of everything that can (and will) go wrong when the dystopian apocalypse finally happens.  It's so dire, it's funny.

Oh, well.  At my age, I don't have to worry about most of those problems - I doubt I'll live long enough to encounter them.  I'll leave them to my younger readers, who can write their own blogs (by then doubtless circulated on paper, rather than electronically) to describe them!


Monday, January 20, 2020

So much for the evil, racist, bitter-clinger gun nuts of Richmond!

Photographs taken at today's demonstration against Second Amendment restrictions in Richmond, Virginia.  All are sourced from various Web sites, and have been posted multiple times, so I don't know their origin.  If anyone took them and wants them removed, or a copyright acknowledgment, I'll be glad to comply.

And did you notice how much of the left-wing mainstream media went dead silent on the subject, as soon as it became clear that the protesters were basically decent, law-abiding citizens protesting legislative overreach?  They wanted to blare banner headlines about racists and white nationalists - few, if any of whom made an appearance.  Only Fox News covered the protest in any detail, for which kudos to them.


The Virginia crisis: where's the evidence of wrongdoing?

I'm obliged to Daily Timewaster for posting this video comment on the lead-up to today's protest in Richmond, Virginia.  The author makes some very good points.

He's right.  If a crime has been committed, or the authorities know that a crime is being planned, arrest those responsible and charge them.  Don't penalize the entire citizenry of a state for the alleged - but so far unproven - plans, crimes or motivations of a few.  That's not how the rule of law works . . . but then, in Virginia today, one questions how seriously the rule of law is being taken by the powers that be.  After all, they're changing those laws as fast as they can, so that yesterday's law-abiding citizen is about to be made into a criminal by the stroke of a legislative pen, rather than anything he or she has actually done.

It's not about the rule of law.  It's about the rule of ideology, and the imposition of the views of the ideologically "pure" upon those they see as the "bitter clinger" citizens of their state.

That's a recipe for disaster, right there.


Coming to a boil in Virginia?

Many commenters, including myself, have urged caution in the weeks leading up to today's VCDL "Lobby Day" pro-Second-Amendment protest in Richmond, Virginia.  We've pointed out that the newly-installed Democratic Party administration in that state has basically set things up so that they can't lose.  Any incident is going to be blamed on right-wing agitators, redneck rebels and "bitter clingers", and used as an excuse to implement even harsher repression against those who place a higher value on the Constitution of the United States than upon current politically correct shibboleths.

However, the other side has not been seeking to de-escalate things to a level of reasoned discourse.  Instead, they're doubling down on their determination to ram new laws through the state government to reinforce their domination and control - and to prevent it ever being democratically overturned.  2nd Amendment Daily News has more details.

Between November 18-21, 2019, just days after winning the majority, several anti-gun bills were pre-filed in Virginia.  These would criminalize ownership of AR-15s, outlaw ‘militia’ activity with the term now broadly defined, ban ‘high-capacity’ magazines and more.

Virginia voters - not just gun owners, but anybody who cared about the rule of law and checks and balances - were rightfully outraged.  More than 90% of the state voted themselves a Second Amendment Sanctuary.  News articles and Facebook forums were openly talking about voting out every single Democrat in the state in the next election.

The Democrats shot back:  they filed bills that repeal voter ID, would allow felons the vote, and more.  A LOT more.  Senate Bill 399 would give Virginia’s electoral college votes to the winner of the national popular vote.   SJ 29 would change election law so that the governor would be elected by majority of votes in congressional districts, not by statewide majority.  Basically, what D.C. says goes and the rest of you be damned.   SJ 14 would restore voting rights to convicted felons.  SJ 8 would allow felons and those declared mentally incompetent to vote.  SB 65 - Eliminates photo ID requirement for voting.  SJ 6 - Increases the term limit of the governor from 4 to 8 years.

So Virginians wised up. They’re not going to lose another election to dead voters, illegals, and felons.  They decide to start a recall petition for several key Democrats.  They’re not waiting for another election.  And they’re sure as hell not waiting two years for a sham rigged election if all these new bills become law.

But the Democrats aren’t playing a gentleman’s game, anymore.  They are in this for total domination, and they don’t have any scruples about playing in the mud!

Virginia’s Democrats replied swiftly.  They had Representative Paul Krizek introduce HB 842, a bill that changes how a candidate is recalled.  Instead of needing 10% of the prevailing vote to recall their seat, now you need 25%.  Oh, and instead of having 120 days to file all those petitions for a recall, they’ll only have 60 days.

If you live in Virginia, you’ve got some tough options in front of you.  You’re losing your state and way of life if these things go though.

If you live in another state, it’s time to wake up, and fast before you find yourself pinned like these Virginians.

There's more at the link.

That news still doesn't make me any more hopeful that today's protest will develop into anything other than a deliberate trap, set for Second Amendment defenders by the new Virginia powers that be.  However, it does illustrate just how determined the latter are, and how arrogant their approach is.  They're being utterly blatant and in-your-face to the entire state, and to the rest of the nation.  They've taken power, and they're doing their very best, by fair means or foul, to ensure that they never lose it again.

If they succeed, then, in so many words, what President Abraham Lincoln called "government of the people, by the people, for the people" shall indeed perish from the Virginia earth.  What's more, those responsible for the death of democracy in Virginia will do their best to spread it from there, and places like it, to the rest of these United States.

If it boils down to that, then what some are calling "Civil War 2" will probably become inevitable.

I hate to have to say that . . . but I've seen this before, in more than one country.  When one party or tribe or interest group or culture gains power over another, the temptation to make sure they never lose it again becomes overwhelming.  The other side reacts, and does their best to stop the rot before it's too late.  The result is inevitably chaos, disorder, and eventually bloodshed - sometimes on a massive scale.

I hope and pray that never again happens in the USA.  Sadly, there are those (on both sides of the political aisle) who don't share that hope;  in fact, they look forward to it happening, to "show the other side who's boss", or to "teach them a lesson", or any other specious excuse made by those who don't know the reality of which they so glibly speak.

Watch what happens in Virginia today;  and watch the progress of the anti-democratic bills that are in the pipeline in that state.  Virginia is now a harbinger for what's coming to this nation as a whole . . . whether we like it or not.


Sunday, January 19, 2020

Sunday morning music

Here's a work by a Finnish composer of whom I'd never heard until just the other day.  It's the Third Symphony in F Major, Op. 40, composed by Erkki Melartin in 1907.  I find it reminiscent of Gustav Mahler's work.  The four movements are:
1 - Allegro moderato 00:00
2 - Andante 09:08
3 - Scherzo (Vivacissimo) 18:19
4 - Largo 28:34

Interesting music, and a nice change of pace from last week's rock memorial.