American Elephants


The U.S Forest Service Has Issued Detailed Instructions on How to Roast Marshmallows. by The Elephant's Child

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Saturday was apparently National Roasted Marshmallow Day, who knew? Obviously must be a promotion by marshmallow makers. Nevertheless, the occasion brought forth a 700-word publication from the U.S. Forest Service on how to safely roast marshmallows.

Well, let’s take it as a given that the U.S. Forest Service is not real enthusiastic about campfires, and wants you to know how to put your campfire out properly. No problem. We don’t like forest fires either. So they want you to obey the rules for fire restrictions which are put in place for your safety.

I grew up in an era and place of weenie roasts, frequent and great fun.

If campfires are allowed, use an existing fire ring or pit. Be sure you are at least 15 feet from tent walls, trees or other flammable objects.

Most importantly, ensure you work closely with children and talk to them about fire danger, proper behavior and rules – then expect nothing less. No one knows how many children are burned in campfire incidents; however, you don’t need statistics to know precaution is a key to great camping experiences. Some experts advocate a 10-foot rule between young children and a campfire.

15074205215_a8b1d953c3 This is the Forest Service’s idea of wonderful childhood memories. Sigh. The bureaucrat who wrote this crap was clearly never a child. Then we get into all of Michelle’s ideas of what constitutes a reducing diet for fat kids. “Think fruit.”   Oh please. fruit is just pure sugar. The object of roasting marshmallows is not eating lots of marshmallows. I’m not sure it’s possible to eat lots of marshmallows. But they deem plain old marshmallows or s’mores as unsuitable for today’s children.

Another way to limit the amount of marshmallows used is to substitute them with marshmallow crème, a spreadable version of marshmallows that helps you more easily regulate portion. For healthier treats, use large strawberries, apple slices, banana chucks, pineapple or other fruit. Put a piece of fruit on a roasting stick, dip quickly in the crème and roast over indirect heat until a delicious golden brown. You’re still having campfire fun, but the focus is on a healthier evening snack.

A little common sense would be useful here. In High School or College, we did lots of weenie roasts, but “lots” translates to 2 or 3 a year, at most. You need good weather, reasonably warm, and a free weekend.  Summer camping trips with the kids, you don’t do marshmallow roasts every night. Even at summer camp for kids, every night is not s’mores night. Two or three occasions are not going to ruin a child’s nutritional health and well-being. A little perspective please.

I am becoming extremely offended by this administration’s intrusive efforts to manage every element of my life. I do not require and I don’t know of anyone who does require instructions on roasting marshmallows. We can do fine without the bureaucratic input from a bunch of unionized public servants whose jobs depend on lots of useless busywork. Vote them out, and abolish the Department of Agriculture. They don’t do anything useful anyway.



Bill Whittle Talks About “Magical Thinking” by The Elephant's Child

Here’s Bill Whittle at his best. The Defending the Dream Summit 2014. Dang, but he is good. Common sense multiplied.



How Much Do You Read? What’s the Best Book You’ve Ever Read? by The Elephant's Child

What do you do when someone asks you to read an article because it’s “an important one?” Do you obediently read it, assuming that if your friend recommends it, it is worth your time? Do you accept the article, suggesting that you will read it later when you have more time? Do you just refuse to read it because you’re sure it is not of interest?

I fit in the first category. I’m a speedy reader, and it doesn’t take me long to get through even a long piece. But I have known a lot of what I think of as ‘lazy readers’ whose first reaction is that they don’t have time. Or they only want to read what they choose to read. It’s as if reading is a task to be engaged in only when required. Was learning to read a struggle in school? There are people who read competently, but without enjoyment or need for information, but who will spend hours on Twitter. Do you prefer to get your information instead by video, or podcast? Is reading a chore?

I have a friend who is a special education expert, with particular emphasis on reading, and reading disabilities. She went into her state’s prisons at one time, to test prisoners, and found that the numbers who had some form of reading disability was far, far higher than in the general population.

There are lots of people out there who just don’t read much, and people who do not read books at all.  They are just busy with other things.

If you prowl around the internet and read blogs, you are clearly a reader. But what about those other folks who are not? How do people go all the way through university, and, as adults, never read?

Seattle is usually described as the part of the country where most people read a lot. We have busy libraries, lots of colleges and universities, and lots of writers. Must be something to do with the weather, which encourages a brisk fire in the fireplace. a good book and a cup of coffee.

ADDENDUM: I guess I shouldn’t ask others about their favorite books, if I don’t reveal my own. Patrick O’Brian’s series of books about Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin and the Royal Navy in the late 1700s and early 1800s. There are 20 books in the series and I have read them probably ten times, and always found them fascinating to re-read. Most novels don’t welcome even a second reading. Master and Commander is the first, and only a page in and you are hooked. Master and Commander was a great movie too, although based on bits from several of the books.



Sorry! Your Politician Does Not Care About You. by The Elephant's Child

The exit polling from the 2012 election showed clearly that people voted for Barack Obama because they believed that “He cares about people like me.” This was closely related to Hurricane Sandy, and I believe the picture of President Obama comforting Donna Vanzant who had just seen her marina totally destroyed, influenced a lot of people. Mr. Obama promised her prompt help from FEMA and that he would make it all better. But she never heard from FEMA, nor from the President, or anybody else.
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The picture, however, went viral.

I hate to bring you bad news, but politicians do not care about you. The better ones care about “the people” in general, but generous donors in particular. They care about the big businesses in their districts, influential people in their party and in the opposition, but we ordinary folk are, at best, merely a statistic. They care about those who are important for some reason, particularly those who have given campaign contributions or are clearly in a position to make a donation, or are important enough to influence others.

Maybe, if you are an activist who seems to have a large number of voters behind you. I know, I know. We’d all like to believe that those in whom we invest so much hope really mean it. You could design an embossed letterhead suggesting that you are an officer in an organization for (or against) your politician’s favorite issues, that might get some attention. Phone calls, at least allow you to talk to a human, however lowly. Visit his/her office in your district with your request or complaint, but sugar catches more flies than vinegar.

It’s nothing personal. They have their big donors and all the members of their delegation, the press (local and national) the members of the committees on which they serve, their opposition, and all the members of the House or the Senate as the case may be to worry about. They don’t know you from Adam, expecting attention is futile. The idea that “I voted for you” and now I expect, at the least, a response to my email, is also futile. Going to every town hall meeting held in your district might improve the situation slightly, but don’t bet on it. They shake a lot of hands, and remember few.

But, your opinions may be tabulated (or not). They need feedback, but there’s no guarantee they will pay attention. But if  you are well-informed and your call or email or letter is short and to the point, it may get through. Even volunteering in their campaign may not help. Your chances are better if your expectations are low, and your determination is very high.



The Feds Will Spend $10,450,000 to Help Native Americans Adapt to “Climate Change” by The Elephant's Child

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Sigh. “The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plans to spend up to $450,000 in taxpayer dollars to teach Native American tribes in the Great Basin region “climate adaption plans” for their hunting, fishing and gathering activities.”

Just what we need, a bunch of bureaucrats from Washington want to teach Native Americans how to adapt to global warming as it affects their hunting, fishing and “gathering activities.”

Due to climate change, the natural landscapes are becoming impacted,” and the “traditional practices for hunting, fishing, and gathering for ceremonial purposes” can potentially create further impacts,” according to BLM’s Cooperative Agreement announcement.

“It is important to educate those who are engaging in these gathering activities to reduce impacts on public lands. If tribes are able to develop adaptation plans for their gathering activities, they would have a process to follow that could reduce negative impacts on the landscape,” the Request for Applications (RFA) explains.

Todd Hopkins, GBLCC’s science coordinator, said that the climate change adaptation training is focused on Great Basin tribes because they are “Place-based and their gathering is very  much traditional in a sense that they use certain traditional foods and resources at certain times of the year, and because of climate shifts they are more impacted than other folks who may, say, go hunt in another place.

“President Obama announced the Tribal Climate Resilience Program in July. As part of this initiative, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will “dedicate $10 million in funding for tribes and tribal organizations to develop tools to enable adaptive resource management, as well as the ability to plan for climate resilience.”

“Tribes are at the forefront of many climate issues, so we are excited to work in a more cross-cutting way to help address tribal climate needs,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in the White House statement announcing the program. “We’ve heard from tribal leaders loud and clear: when the federal family combines its efforts, we get better results – and nowhere are these results needed more than in the fight against climate change.”

Did you ever hear such a foolish bunch of bureaucratese? “Gathering activities.” Is that the Shoshone-Bannock pow wow? I’m not sure when the camas is in bloom, or when  you dig for roots, but the huckleberries ripen about August 15th. I don’t know if they get to shoot bison any more, probably not.  “Climate resilience, indeed. Adaption plans. These people and their ancestors have been living on the land for ten thousand years, and don’t need bureaucrats to show them how to do it. The tribes get $90,000 for the first year, but I don’t know if it’s enough for forcing them to sit through more of this nonsense.

The photo is of the Shoshone National Forest, which is not a part of the reservation, but the land where Shoshones, Paiutes and Bannocks have made their home for a very long time.



Serenading the Cattle With My Trombone… by The Elephant's Child

(via Ace)  You may have wondered why the headline didn’t have anything to do with the video. Ooops — wrong url. Fixed.



Recovery? What Recovery is That? by The Elephant's Child

In January, 2009, when Barack Obama took office, the number of Americans of working age who were not in the labor force was 80.529.000. Since that time, that number has increased by 11,472,000 to 92,001,000 as of July 2014.

The participation rate measures the percentage of the civilian non-institutional  population that participates in the work force by either having a job, or actively seeking one. It’s just a snapshot, and subject to revision, but at this state in a supposed “recovery” it should be far better.

President Obama tries to put a good face on it and speak as if the recovery is chugging along just fine, but it really isn’t. Microsoft announced the layoff of 14,000 workers in July. The Army is shedding another 1,500 captains and majors.

A lot of coal-fired power plant workers are going to lose their jobs because of ridiculous regulations that will accomplish nothing at all, and a lot of coal miners as well, as this president tries to shut down the industry that produces nearly half of America’s electricity cheaply and dependably under the illusion that solar and wind can produce a significant amount of expensive energy, if some unexpected miracle just makes the sun stop being diffuse and the wind stop being intermittent.

And just to help out the faltering job market, Obama has issued an executive order allowing the spouses of workers here on H-1B visas to go to work. The next executive order is expected to allow the “children,” who are mostly young men of working age, arriving at our southern border to receive work permits. Doesn’t anyone notice that all these things are connected?

We’ve had lots of recessions in the past. There is a business cycle. As things get better and unemployment eases, the economy starts to grow and offers more opportunity — the better things get, the more risks businesses take. Overworked people get assistants, a new wing is added to the building, new machines are purchased, and so it goes.  (I should add here, that also in the news today was the nugget that many of our civil servants are so bored in their jobs that they are spending their days watching porn.)

Most people are probably unaware that we had another Great Depression in 1920-1921. It was just about as deep as Roosevelt’s depression, but Warren Harding treated it a little differently. World War I had left the nation with runaway inflation and a soaring debt. The national debt had increased from $1 billion in 1914 to $24 billion by 1920. (Yes, it was a long time ago)

So what did Harding do?  A “stimulus”?  A jobs program?  “Targeted” tax cuts?  Government bailouts for ailing companies?  Nope—he cut government spending sharply and rapidly (by almost 50 percent), began cutting tax rates across the board, and allowed asset values and wages to adjust freely as fast as possible.  Harding’s administration, Paul Johnson observed, “was the last time a major industrial power treated a recession by classic laissez-faire methods, allowing wages to fall to their natural level ….  By July 1921 it was all over and the economy was booming again.”

If you remember your history, it was called “the roaring twenties.”




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