06 Oct 2015

Scientists Identified Skeletons of English Archers on Henry VIII’s Mary Rose

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I missed the article at the time, but back in 2012, the Telegraph was reporting that forensic breakthroughs had even succeeded in identifying which of the skeletons of men drowned on Henry VIII’s sunken flagship were elite English archers.

Researchers have identified the elite archers who died alongside sailors on Henry VIII’s flagship, due to evidence of repetitive strain in their shoulders and spines.

The ship sank off Spithead in The Solent in 1545, while leading an attack on a French invasion fleet. It stayed on the seabed until it was raised in 1982 and put on public display.

Over the past two years, scientists from the University of Swansea have been working to identify almost 100 skeletons kept at the Mary Rose Museum, in Portsmouth. …

[N]ew DNA extraction technology has been developed to identify a skeleton’s origin and other personal features such as eye and hair colour.

Scientists have also tested how the bows were used by archers at that time, by using real-life archers.

They have uncovered evidence of repetitive stress injuries among the bowmen, the elite soldiers of their day, which they believe came from hours of longbow practice.

Nick Owen, a sport and exercise biochemist who is leading the work, said yesterday that the developments would help uncover more about the individuals who died with their ship.

The DNA breakthrough had enabled his team to embark on more detailed profiling.

“We know plenty about the Mary Rose but much less about the people on board,” said Mr Owen, from the university’s college of engineering.

“The archers were the elite but the longbows they used took a toll of their bodies and you can see signs of repetitive stress in the shoulders and lower spine.”

A Swedish expert is also working on facial reconstructions for the new Mary Rose Trust museum, which is due to open next year.

At the time, many archers were thought to have travelled from Wales and other areas in the south west of England and were considered the elite warriors of their day.

Previous studies have shown that they lived off a diet of salt beef and biscuits. Their diet also included flour, oatmeal, suet, cheese, dried pork, beer and salted cod.

“They were 6ft 2in or 6ft 3in, and strapping individuals,” Mr Owen said.

“A longbow was 6ft 6in and made from a particular part of a yew tree to generate incredibly efficient ‘spring’.

“It was mega hi-tech, and it gave England and Wales military superiority. These archers were the elite athletes of their day.”

He added to the BBC: “It took years for these Archers to train to get to a level where they could use these very heavy bows.”

Alexzandra Hildred, the curator of ordnance at the Mary Rose Trust, has said the injuries could be the result of “shooting heavy longbows regularly”.

“Many of the skeletons recovered show evidence of repetitive stress injuries of the shoulder and lower spine,” she said.

“Being able to quantify the stresses and their effect on the skeleton may enable us at last to isolate an elite group of professional archers from the ship.”

06 Oct 2015

Last Navy Ship That Sank an Enemy

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USS Constitution

The Washington Post recently took note of the curious fact, that with the decommissioning of one particular guided missile frigate, the US Navy retains on active service only one ship that ever sunk an enemy, and that ship is the USS Constitution which sunk the HMS Guerriere in 1812!

As the Navy closes in on its 240th birthday, it has reached a milestone: Only one ship remaining in its fleet has ever sunk an enemy vessel—and it’s the USS Constitution, which earned the nickname “Old Ironsides” for withstanding British bombardment during the War of 1812.

The USS Constitution’s crew noted the detail on its Facebook page Tuesday, underscoring how uncommon major encounters are between navies in the 21st century. The only other remaining Navy ship to sink an enemy vessel was the USS Simpson, an Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigate that was decommissioned Tuesday.

The Simpson is best known for combining with the USS Wainwright, a cruiser, and the USS Bagley, a frigate, to destroy an oil rig used as a Iranian surveillance post and the Iranian patrol boat Joshan in Operation Praying Mantis. It was carried out April 18, 1988, during the Iran-Iraq War after the USS Samuel B. Roberts was badly damaged by an Iranian mine in the Persian Gulf. …

The Constitution, a three-mast wooden frigate, was retired from active service in 1881, but has remained a part of the Navy and was designated as a floating museum in 1907. It fought in the Mediterranean Sea during the First Barbary War in the early 1800s, but is best known for its altercation with the HMS Guerriere on Aug. 19, 1812.

About 400 miles off the coast of Nova Scotia, the two ships tangled shortly after the War of 1812 had broken out. The Constitution badly damaged the Guerriere, which was eventually boarded by U.S. sailors and set ablaze.

05 Oct 2015

Heavy Rain in South Carolina

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05 Oct 2015

Arabic for Beginners

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05 Oct 2015

Not Getting the Message

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05 Oct 2015

French Bulldog Evicts Bear Cubs in Monrovia, California

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04 Oct 2015


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04 Oct 2015

Nihilist Security Question

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From McSweeny’s:

Nihilistic Password Security Questions.

– – – –

What is the name of your least favorite child?

In what year did you abandon your dreams?

What is the maiden name of your father’s mistress?

At what age did your childhood pet run away?

What was the name of your favorite unpaid internship?

In what city did you first experience ennui?

What is your ex-wife’s newest last name?

What sports team do you fetishize to avoid meaningful discussion with others?

What is the name of your favorite canceled TV show?

What was the middle name of your first rebound?

On what street did you lose your childlike sense of wonder?

When did you stop trying?

03 Oct 2015

Rara Avis: the Conservative at Harvard



The Crimson strokes its chin and wonders if diversity in politics should, or even could, be established at Harvard.

[T]hat conservatives come in small numbers at Harvard comes as no shock. For years, The Crimson’s freshman survey has found that liberals may outnumber conservatives in incoming classes by as much as five to one—65.1 percent of the 1,184 respondents to this fall’s Class of 2019 survey, for example, identify as somewhat liberal or very liberal, compared to just 12.2 percent who identify as somewhat conservative or very conservative. Last year, among survey respondents from the graduating College Class of 2015, former Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton had a higher favorability rating than Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker—combined. A surveyed senior was almost 10 times more likely to have a favorable view of Bernie Sanders than Ted Cruz.

And the liberal bent—to put it mildly—is not limited to the student body. A Crimson data analysis last year found that nearly 84 percent of campaign contributions from a group of 614 University faculty, instructors, and researchers between 2011 and the third quarter of 2014 went to federal Democratic campaigns and political action committees. In the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, that number was closer to 96 percent. …

“Diversity? Political? Two words [that] can be put in the same sentence?” concludes freshman Sapna V. Rampersaud ’19, a registered Republican.

03 Oct 2015

“Bark! Bark! (Timmy’s in the Well!)”



02 Oct 2015

The Hunt Is On

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02 Oct 2015

Veteran Shot Seven Times Trying to Stop Shooter

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Chris Mintz

30-year-old Chris Mintz, a veteran who had served 10 years in the US Army, though unarmed, tried to stop the Oregon shooter yesterday. Mintz was shot seven times. Both his legs were broken, and he was also shot in the abdomen and hands. No vital organs were hit, however, and he is expected to recover.

It’s too bad that Mr. Mintz did not actually get a chance to close with Mercer.

The Daily Mail has lots of Mintz photos.

02 Oct 2015

The Nugent Marathon Corinthian Helmet

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photo via Belacqui.

Royal Ontario Museum description:

The Corinthian helmet type is one of the most immediately recognisable types of helmet, romantically associated with the great heroes of Ancient Greece, even by the Ancient Greeks themselves who rapidly moved to helmet types with better visibility, but still depicted their heroes in these helmets. …

This specific helmet (ROM no.926.19.3) was purchased by the Royal Ontario Museum in 1926 [at] Sotheby’s (auction of 22 July 1926, lot 160). A skull (ROM No. 926.19.5) was said at one stage to be inside it, and in this condition was excavated by George Nugent-Grenville, 2nd Baron Nugent of Carlanstown, on the Plain of Marathon in 1834.

01 Oct 2015

The Modern Man Fisked

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Via Karen L. Myers and Ed Driscoll at Instapundit, a NYT column defining “The Modern Man” with replies in red ink.

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