American Elephants


James Mattis Once Wrote a Letter on the Importance of Reading by The Elephant's Child

29firstdraft-mattis-tmagarticlePresident-Elect Donald Trump has announced his choice of Retired Marine General James Mattis to be his Defense Secretary, to wide acclaim. Mattis is widely respected in the military, loved by his troops, and is an outstanding choice.

The Daily Caller published a famous letter today that General Mattis wrote on the “importance of reading and military history for officers” “who found themselves too busy to read.” His response to the lack of time went viral, with good reason. It’s a clear testament to the General’s character, and a good lesson for all of us.

The problem with being too busy to read is that you learn by experience (or by your men’s experience), i.e. the hard way. By reading, you learn through others’ experiences, generally a better way to do business, especially in our line of work where the consequences of incompetence are so final for young men.

Thanks to my reading, I have never been caught flat-footed by any situation, never at a loss for how any problem has been addressed (successfully or unsuccessfully) before. It doesn’t give me all the answers, but it lights what is often a dark path ahead.



California Is Determined to Stop Global Warming In It’s Tracks by The Elephant's Child

cowsYou have probably learned by now that the great state of California has determined to advance it’s fight against global warming by a serious effort to reduce emissions from bovine flatulence. Yes, cow gas.

Cattle and other farm animals are major sources of methane, a greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide as a heat-trapping gas. Methane is released when they belch, pass gas and make manure.

“If we can reduce emissions of methane, we can really help to slow global warming,” said Ryan McCarthy, a science adviser for the California Air Resources Board, which is drawing up rules to implement the new law.

Livestock are responsible for 14.5 percent of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, with beef and dairy production accounting for the bulk of it, according to a 2013 United Nations report.

California is a the nation’s largest dairy farming state, and dairy farmers are not taking this lying down. This will drive up costs when farms have struggled for five years with drought, low milk prices and rising labor costs. The state has set up $50 million to help dairies set up methane digesters which capture the methane from manure in large storage tanks and convert the gas into electricity. Farmers, who probably understand the cost analysis better than state bureaucrats, say this is not nearly enough to equip the state’s roughly 1,500 dairies. More dairy farmers will move out of the state, following other businesses that are leaving California in droves for states where they are better treated.

The difference this will make with climate issues, probably not measurable, but hope is eternal. Governor Brown’s high speed rail doesn’t seem to be going anywhere at enormous cost. The giant Ivanpah solar project has been a flop. In the wake of the election, some Californians demanded that California secede from the Union, apparently unaware of the results of the last time States decided to secede. That demand led to suggestions that California rejoin Mexico, and good riddance, but Californians didn’t like that either. The  “Golden” State continues in its drive to make itself unpopular.




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