22 Oct 2014

Nelson’s Flag Signal

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NelsonSignal
Sent at 11:45 A.M., just as Nelson’s two parallel columns of ships prepared to break through the French & Spanish line.

22 Oct 2014

Nelson’s Double-Barreled Pistol Hanger

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NelsonSwordPistol1
NelsonSwordPistol2
Nelson1

Carried by Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805. Because fighting aboard ships was likely to occur in confined spaces, Naval officers were more likely to carry a hanger (a short hunting-style sword) into battle, rather than a full-length sword.

Via Ratak Monodosico.

22 Oct 2014

Turning 60

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Turning60

22 Oct 2014

Obama Administration: “Shake It Off”

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21 Oct 2014

Hopper’s “Bridle Path” (1939)

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HopperBridlePath
Edward Hopper, Bridle Path, 1939, formerly San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, now privately owned. Sold for $10,386,500 at a Sotheby’s auction in 2012 to allow the SFMOMA to purchase a different Hopper.

SFMOMA evidently preferred a more characteristic Hopper painting, presenting a gritty image of Mid-20th Century Everyman’s loneliness and alienation to this glimpse of Pre-WWII, American Upper-Crust ecstasy.

The New York Times in 1994 described the rise and decline of riding in Central Park.

The 1856 plan for Central Park by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux did not provide for horseback riding, although the planners did not expressly oppose it. William Alex, president of the Frederick Law Olmsted Association, said the bridle paths were among 17 suggested changes in the Central Park plan made by Robert J. Dillon, one of the original Central Park Commissioners, a Democratic politician and two-term Corporation Counsel.

Dillon’s proposals included waiting to lay out pathways until pedestrians established them by habit, and extending the Mall over the lake and up to Belvedere Castle with a large suspension bridge.

Olmsted & Vaux were able to fend off most meddling, but Dillon’s suggestion for bridle paths survived. By 1863 six miles of gravel- and sand-surfaced paths extended from 59th Street and Fifth Avenue to the west side of the park and around the reservoir. The rules of the park for 1873 specifically allowed horseback riding “with a free hand and a rapid rate of speed,” something not allowed anywhere else in the city.

The 1886 Appletons’ Dictionary of New York City said that renting a horse cost $3 for an afternoon. The Sun’s Guide to New York of 1892 noted that the stables’ business fell off markedly in the summer, when their patrons “go to the seashore or to the mountains.”

The soft surfaces of the bridle paths required intensive maintenance; the 1908 report notes that they were harrowed and leveled every evening and watered in the summer.

A 1929 editorial in The New York Times recalled the days when there were several hundred horses available from stables and riders frequently rode to the north end of the park, then up Seventh Avenue and along the Harlem River, and back down a bridle trail in Riverside Park.

In 1964, Hart’s Guide to New York City reported that there were only 50 horses for rent, out of Claremont Stables at 175 West 89th.

By the 1970’s the bridle paths were a shambles.

Claremont Riding Academy (where I used to rent horses to ride in early mornings in the Park) was located on West 89th Street. It closed forever in 2007. Wikipedia:

The location of the stable made for an unusual experience in the equestrian world: riding in heavy traffic. The stable was not in Central Park itself, but a block and a half away. Getting to the park required riding a horse on Manhattan streets, mixed in with the regular traffic, and crossing Central Park West.

The Academy was dependent on the structural condition of the bridle paths in nearby Central Park, as this was the primary designated area for horseback riding in Manhattan. At some point, the city allowed the bridle paths to be used by pedestrians, joggers, bicyclists and others, and discontinued structural maintenance of the paths. With the overuse of the paths in combination with the city’s discontinuance of maintenance, riders were no longer able to canter on the pathways, ending one of the pleasures of horseback riding which deterred new ridership. Due to declining patronage and increasing cost from renovations and taxes, Claremont closed forever at 5 p.m. April 29, 2007.

When I rented my first horse from Claremont, I was surprised to find that I’d been presented with a double bridle. (I was accustomed to riding only with a snaffle.) But, when the time came to ride through city traffic and the need to stop at a traffic light before crossing Central Park West arose, I was very happy indeed that I also had a curb bit at my disposal.

Some rather preposterous and pretentious interpretations of the painting, in French, (by a non-rider) are here.

John R. Shipp interprets the painting (in English). I’m afraid that I do not agree with his supposed connections myself. I think Hopper just chose to paint an image of three people riding at a gallop at a particular piece of Central Park architecture.

From Ratak Monodosico.

21 Oct 2014

Keep the Planets Collectivist!

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little-green-men-2
Lockean Individualist enterprise might again threaten aboriginal rights and cultures.

Saskia Vermeylen, a Senior Lecturer at the Lancaster Environment Centre at Lancaster University, shudders at the thought that there might possibly one day be private property and private enterprise in Outer Space. No, no, no, Space must be reserved only for collectivist statist administration.

Perceiving outer space as a commons was also another way of preventing national sovereignty in space. But neither the USSR nor the US was keen to fight out the Cold War on yet another front. Geopolitics dictated the decision to treat outer space as being non-appropriable.

This principle can be found back in Article II of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty which clearly forbids “national appropriation by claims of sovereignty, means of use or occupation by any other means”. It has been widely accepted: no one complains the various moon landings or satellites in space have infringed their sovereignty.

However, legal commentators disagree over whether this prohibition is also valid for private appropriation. …

[W]hile the idea of buying some lunar real estate might be fun, in order for these plots to be recognised as property there needs to be legal recognition by a superior authority such as a nation state. As states are not allowed to claim sovereign rights in outer space, landed property on the moon and planets will in all likelihood be outlawed.

Legal commentators are hopeful that states will remain loyal to the treaty and refrain from recognising or endorsing a private property claim. …

But all of these arguments are rather theoretical. If you just simply occupy a place and no one else can access or use it, aren’t you the de facto owner? Lawyers call this corporate possession (corpus possidendi) and it represents another reason why title deeds cannot be a legal proof of lunar ownership – no one is physically there. In order to possess something, both mind and body need to be involved. Intention alone is not sufficient; possession also requires a physical act.

The difficulty of physically establishing an act of possession on the moon should protect it from private development, but it seems technology is once again outsmarting the law. Back in the late 1990s commercial firm SpaceDev intended to land robotic prospectors on an asteroid to conduct experiments and claim it as private property. he project eventually ran out of funds and was shelved, but advocates of such “telepossession” point to cases of salvage companies claiming undersea wrecks as property after exploring them with robots. After all, if an undersea probe with a TV camera was all that was required to take possession of a (previously owned, earthly) shipwreck, why shouldn’t a space probe be enough to take possession of an unowned and unclaimed patch of celestial real estate? …

I get the uncomfortable feeling of a déjà vu. Was it not Locke’s property theory that justified possession over nature and vacant land and eventually led to the colonisation of the Americas?

And we all know how that worked out!

——————————–

It is never easy to bring oneself to respond in seriousness to editorials so simultaneously fashionable and conventional in their perspectives, yet built upon such completely astounding and preposterous assumptions.

Saskia Vermeylen is a professional scholar specializing (with the support of Western society and the British state) in property theory, from “a critical socio-legal and philosophical perspective,” meaning that she is a Marxist communist and a committed adversary of the civilization, culture, state, and society in which she was born and educated, and which is currently supporting her professional career.

Saskia Vermeylen was educated (at Surry and at Lancaster, but she could just as well have acquired the same perspective at Oxford or Cambridge or Yale or Harvard) to believe that the European settlement of the New World and the development of the United States of America was overall a Bad Thing, and that it is somehow reasonable to imagine Columbus turning around and going home, and the European states of France and Spain and England, the Netherlands, and Sweden all declining, on moral grounds, to settle and develop unoccupied, newly discovered territories for fear of coming into conflict with the interests of Stone-Age barbarians residing nearby.

If Ms. Vermeylen is correct in her beliefs, it would somehow, mysteriously, be possible for the Iroquois to make war and compete for control of territory with the Hurons, the Susquehannoks, the Eries, and whomsoever; but not for Englishmen and European Civilization to compete with the Iroquois. If Ms. Vermeylen were remotely rational, it would be necessary for it to be possible to argue plausibly that, had Europeans never crossed the Atlantic, after four centuries, the aboriginal inhabitants of the Americas would themselves have constructed a state, society, and civilization worthy of comparison in artistic, scientific, philosophical, technological, and political achievement to the United States (and Mexico and Canada), equal or superior in the development of human potential and the promotion of human happiness.

It should be needless to note that imagining any such successful comparisons would be absurd. Consequently, there is no legitimate possible justification for Ms. Vermeylen’s treasonous and nonsensical perspective and no explanation for its etiology other than ignorant conformity to a certain kind of pathological local intellectual fashion.

21 Oct 2014

BLAH Airlines Flight 101

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Quote: “Have you been flying BLAH? Take a glimpse inside BLAH Airlines Flight 101 from Newark to San Francisco. At the end of this trailer, you can choose to watch the full 5 hour and 45 minute BLAH flight (http://www.flyblahairlines.com), or you can exit BLAH to take a radical departure to Virgin America (http://www.virginamerica.com).

Will you pick peanuts and annoying service? Or grab a seat at Virgin America instead to enjoy WiFi, entertainment, power outlets, moodlighting, and food and drinks on demand? The choice is yours.”

Via The Dish.

20 Oct 2014

A Little Token of Esteem From the Artist

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PicassoTie

Hand-decorated envelope and tie sent by Pablo Picasso to MoMA director Alfred H. Barr, Jr.. 1957

Via Ratak Monodosico.

20 Oct 2014

Icelandic Panel Confirms Authenticity of 2012 Lake Monster Video

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Lagarfljot

A 13-member truth committee appointed by the municipality of Fljótsdalsherad, Iceland recently voted seven to six that a video (see below) taken by Hjortur Kjerulf at a river near his farm in February of 2012 was a real image of the Lagarfljótsormur, an Icelandic equivalent of Scotland’s Loch Ness Monster first described in the Icelandic Annals of 1345.

As the result of the vote, Hjortur Kjerulf received a 500,000 Icelandic kroner (equivalent to $4163.20 at today’s exchange rate) prize established in 1997 as a reward for any real film or image of the wyrm.

The good faith of the panel’s decision was questioned by people contending that their decision was influenced by prospects of profits from cryptid tourism, and Finnish skeptic Miisa McKeown dismissed the video, contending that it was really an image of a stationary ice-covered fishing net undulating in the current.

19 Oct 2014

The Left’s Crusade to Criminalize Campus Sex

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angry-mob

K.C. Johnson wonders Is the Left Losing its Mind Over Campus Sex? He notes a recent column by Ezra Klein defending California’s recent “affirmative consent” law as so indefensible as to represent an intellectual tipping point.

Klein’s argument was astonishing—he conceded that the law was flawed, even badly flawed, but celebrated the flaws as a virtue. The law will mean that “too much counts as sexual assault” and that innocent students will be branded rapists (though such cases, Klein suggests in a fact-free claim, “very, very rarely” occur). But Klein considered it “necessary” to get more students deemed guilty of rape in “morally ambiguous” situations to convince men in college (but, it seems, not anywhere else) that “they better Be Pretty Damn Sure.”

Klein’s column has triggered a torrent of criticism. The highest-profile came from New York’s Jon Chait, who expressed amazement that Klein was “arguing for false convictions as a conscious strategy in order to strike fear into the innocent,” a “conception of justice totally removed from the liberal tradition.”

Johnson also reports on sharp criticism of new Harvard disciplinary policies (adopted by Harvard along with a great many other universities in response to Federal Department of Education threats and prodding) by 28 Harvard Law professors.

———————

The Ezra Klein column was widely criticized because Klein expressed enthusiastic support for injustice when he perceived the injustice as forwarding the leftist process of making Society more just.

All sorts of people dropped their jaws and did a double take at the spectacle of one of the Left’s noisiest moralists foaming at the mouth and demanding that the innocent should be loaded onto the tumbril and carried to a meeting with the guillotine in the Place de la Concorde. But why should anyone be surprised?

The very essence of leftism is its exaggerated claims of victimization and its one-sided perspective. Leftism was never about being fair, and leftist “justice” was never about being just. Leftism is entirely about Revolution, about the triumph of the victim groups by forced political change achieved through perpetual agitation. No one ever said that the left’s agitprop would be balanced and fair. And no one ever said the Revolution was going to practice due process.

Ezra Klein simply dropped the veil a bit too abruptly, being flushed with insolence over his side’s victory in California, and allowed everyone to see him for the tricoteuse he really is.

19 Oct 2014

The Golden Ratio

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GoldenRatio


Golden Ratio φ = (1+sqrt(5))/2 = 1.6180339887498948482…

In mathematics, two quantities are in the golden ratio if their ratio is the same as the ratio of their sum to the larger of the two quantities. Expressed algebraically, for quantities a and b with a > b > 0. Two quantities a and b are said to be in the golden ratio φ if

(a+b)/a = a/b = φ

One method for finding the value of φ is to start with the left fraction. Through simplifying the fraction and substituting in b/a = 1/φ:

(a+b)/a = 1+ b/a = 1+1/φ

Therefore: 1+1/φ = φ
Multiplying by φ gives: φ^2 – φ – 1 = 0

Using the quadratic formula, two solutions are obtained::

φ = (1- sqrt(5))/2 or φ = (1+sqrt(5))/2

Because φ is the ratio between positive quantities φ is necessarily positive:

φ = (1+sqrt(5))/2 = 1.6180339887498948482…

See more at Golden Ratio.

Image: Phi (golden number) by Steve Lewis.

From Ratak Monodosico.

19 Oct 2014

Trick Shot

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TwoWithOneBullet

18 Oct 2014

A Political Lesson in Ten Parts

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Michael Walsh identifies ten things Americans can learn from the Obama Administration’s handling of the Ebola crisis.

1) If a retread party hack like Klain is the best Obama can do, then the Democrat talent pool is incredibly shallow. Naturally, though, Obama wouldn’t think of going outside it.

2) The President considers Ebola a political/messaging problem, not a medical problem. Klain is an an insider process guy, not an expert in the field.

3) The fact that we need a “Czar” to cut across federal agency red-tape and make things happen expeditiously is an indictment of the federal agencies themselves, although no Democrat would ever dare to suggest such a thing. The choice signals that, as Ronald Reagan said, government itself is the problem, not the solution.

4) The reason they won’t dare is that the federal agencies — unelected hives of beetling bureaucrats, scurrying beneath the media surface — are the sources of their power. You don’t alienate or fire your most ardent union voters and financial supporters.

5) This is a government devoted to process, not results. Its most deeply held belief — a by-product of its quasi-Marxist belief in the “labor theory of value” — is that putting in hours and hitting “metrics” is the job itself, not whatever it ostensibly happens to be about; hey, even if you die, they get paid. In this sense, bureaucrats are similar to to the education majors who teach our children in the public schools, with no particular expertise in anything but theory. And the results speak for themselves.

6) With theory ascendant over common sense, the government’s adamant refusal so far to ban travel to and from West Africa and its affected nations proves conclusively that Leftists are perfectly willing to have you die for their ideological beliefs.

7) The longer this goes on, the more the panic will spread — look what happened at the Pentagon earlier today, or on this cruise ship. If you haven’t started to panic yet, then read this.

8) Regarding the open borders and open airports, a larger issue: why is the Left so adamantly opposed to the people’s right to defend themselves? There is nothing “racist” about closing the country to travelers from certain countries in west Africa — heck, the Africans have already done it themselves.

9) In twice electing Barack Obama president Americans made a choice: professional politicians over men of integrity. Symbolism over substance (hello, Nobel Peace Prize). Potential over accomplishment. Guilt over responsibility.

10) If the naked malevolence of the Leftist project for America isn’t visible to you now, then you’re beyond help.

But hey, not to worry — Kevin Spacey played Ron Klain in a movie. So it’s all good.

18 Oct 2014

The Country’s In The Very Best Of Hands

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AllZombieMovies

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